Monday, April 20, 2009

Leaving some stones unturned

My laptop and I have been everywhere in our 5+ years together. It has served me well; and I have brought it through the valley of the shadow of death several times already. But this past month it has looked like this quite a few times. The hard disk crashed in March, and once the thrill of cracking open a tiny laptop had faded, merely replacing the disk didn't seem interesting enough: I had to make some ... improvements. So I spent some time researching alternatives to traditional disks. The potential for geek cred was high: solid-state flash memory -- sturdy, silent, and speedy -- is coming of age, and this was an opportunity to join the (non-mechanical) future of data storage.

Real solid state storage is still a bit pricey; but I'd read that high-end camera cards could do just as well for a good bit less money. So I ordered a Lexar Pro 300x and an adapter from some place in Hong Kong. When the new gear finally arrived, I plugged it in and reassembled everything, booted up and was poised to shout "Yes! I am eenveencible!"... but the laptop couldn't even see the card. Turns out Lexar "cheats" slightly on the interface standard. OK; I ordered a SanDisk Extreme IV card. Another week's wait; more dismantling and reassembly; this one the laptop could see ... but only as a removable disk, unsuitable for an operating system. I ordered a Kingston Ultimate card: same story, no matter how many obscure boot permutations I tried or how much trivia I learned, late into the night, about flash memory, data interfaces, or Linux filesystem details.

Fortunately I'll get most of my money back on eBay. Those cards weren't all that cheap.

In the meantime, I've been running the laptop without a disk, using a Linux LiveCD for (in-memory) software and a USB stick for storage. This is a precarious existence: if the machine ever fails to wake from sleep, or the battery runs down, I lose all my preferences, security updates, and bookmarks -- not to mention any work I haven't explicitly saved. It's the "Memento" laptop.

There is a fourth kind of camera card that (I read) would definitely work. But it eventually dawned on me that this was turning out to be a poor return on my time; and that the knowledge I was acquiring was increasingly specialized, decreasingly useful, and quickly becoming obsolete anyway. So, I've conceded defeat: a mechanical hard disk will arrive in a few days. Old wine for old wineskins. Actually I didn't really give up; it was a deliberate choice to leave some stones unturned. So, what was supposed to be another tale of fearless ingenuity -- eclectic research overturning conventional limitations -- turned into a lesson about the diminishing returns on knowledge and mastery. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?(*)" The pursuit of cleverness can be addictive, crowding out much better things -- rest, family, friendships, peace, charity, etc. -- and must be surrendered like every other entanglement if I'm at all serious about seeking "the most excellent way."

(*) Interesting: Bono's writing NYT op-eds now. His piece yesterday ("It's 2009. Do you know where your soul is?") riffs on this same challenge of Jesus.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday night reflections

If anyone's wondering whether I did, in fact, sink since the latest signs of life here: there was a good bit of flailing and panic but I finally found some buoyancy and I'm still kicking. One of these days I'll write about that -- but tonight I think I'll shrug off the duty I usually feel to summarize all that's happened. That would be a chore -- thus at odds with my working definition of Sabbath rest.

Instead, I just want to capture one of those rare moments when the kitchen table is clear enough that the laptop doesn't stick, the floor is clean enough that my footsteps don't crunch, and a great weekend is coming to a close. Saturday was an unusually productive day; maintenance of this large, ragged property is endless but it felt good to restore some partial sense of civilization to it. I never get to every part of the yard that needs attention, but I do think I'm a little further along than I was last year at this time... And while running errands that afternoon, I stumbled across a yard sale with a used extension ladder and a seller willing to deliver it. So, now I can reach things like the motion-sensing light 19 feet up that burned out in 2006 -- or the small forest that's thriving up there in the gutters.

This (Sunday) morning I took the older two boys to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D -- their first PG film! It was loud, immersive, and fun even though the tone is a bit coarse (the president addresses an older man with glasses merely as "Nerd") and only the comely 50-foot-minus-1-inch woman sees much character development. (Big surprise: not everything measures up to WALL-E!) But it was plenty enough to impress two young minds: we've been hearing references to the movie all day. (And in case you're wondering: those 3D polarizing glasses are one-size-fits-all. You thought they looked goofy on adult-sized heads?) ... Sunday afternoon with my church, we read Mark 2, talked about paralysis and community healing, and painted prayer flags. I'm not sure who slipped young Timo the one tube of real acrylic paint in place of the kid-friendly washable stuff; fortunately we caught him in time before too many things got indelibly pink... It was fun helping him make handprints -- he makes such tiny ones.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sink or swim

For several years until last fall, my role at NASA had consisted of advocacy and advisory support: ostensibly helping programs and projects share their information systems more effectively through standards and interoperable designs. But over the years, this activity (not easy to explain in a soundbite) grew increasingly murky in purpose and scope; long story; the program came to a halt; and after a few amorphous months I've now begun a challenging project of my own design, building Web access to climate models running on supercomputers. It's nice to be doing something of substance, and easy to describe -- perhaps for the first time in years. However, this is a new field; actually several new fields; and I'm just an IT guy. Worse: for several years, I've been an architect / advisory IT guy who never had to write or debug a single line of code. So I'm having to exercise several atrophied sectors of my brain, and to learn (always by yesterday) reams of new stuff about numerical models, supercomputers, and how the latter run the former. I've spent hours reading about global and regional atmospheric simulations; the algorithmic and statistical basis for such models; the workflow infrastructures in which they run; and the deeper meaning of a whole new set of acronyms. A lot of the scientific code (fluid dynamics, etc.) is written in Fortran so I've even poked into some of that (though I hope to leave the Fortran as-is. I last used the language in 1983 and haven't missed it). Every so often my brain fills up (a la Gary Larson) and to quell the quiet panic I have to stand up and walk the halls for a few minutes. And sometimes the reading trail reaches an obvious dead end. For example:

ifeffit: An interactive program for XAFS analysis

IFEFFIT is an interactive program for XAFS analysis. It combines the high-quality analysis algorithms of AUTOBK and FEFFIT with graphical display of XAFS data and general data manipulation.

IFEFFIT comes as a command-line program, but the underlying functionality is available as a programming library. The IFEFFIT library can be used from C, Fortran, Tcl, Perl, and Python. This allows a variety of user interfaces (both graphical and non-graphical) to be written around IFEFFIT. Currently, three graphical user interfaces: G.I.FEFFIT, ATHENA/ARTEMIS, and SIXPACK are built on the underlying IFEFFIT library. IFEFFIT and all three GUIs are under active development, but are fairly well tested and ready for use.

On reading this effectively useless documentation the other day, I laughed out loud, realizing that I was living another Larson cartoon. When I don't even understand the terms necessary to explain the one I'm looking up, ... perhaps I've skidded off the learning curve. Time to find some pavement and try again. When it's not terrifying, it's great fun.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Clearing the cobwebs

Overheard over bowls of spaghetti:

Diesel: Dad, can we go to Morgantown for my birthday?

Dad: Uhhh.... I've never heard of it. What's in Morgantown?

Diesel: I don't know yet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Timo the BobbleheadMaster Timo is over two years old and we still haven't gotten our act back together since he arrived.

He's a bit cranky this week. Not continuously; but often, and unpredictably. His vocabulary is growing fast, so in a few weeks he'll be able to articulate clearly what he wants; but for now, he mostly keeps us guessing ... by hitting crystal-shattering high notes over apparent policy differences related to milk vs. juice, or the inalienable right to store car keys in the trash can.

This photo helps me reflect on what he's really like. In happier times he'll keep himself (and us) entertained for quite a while with his truncated "knock-knock" jokes -- in which he responds to the customary question "... xxx who?" with hearty, infectious laughter. (Would this be proto-dadaism? Or pre-minimalism? Discuss.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Riding the bus

When we bought our house in a woodsy, out-of-the-way neighborhood, I confirmed online that we were (theoretically) within reach of Washington-area public transportation. But I never actually tested that theory, until this morning. I did get to work -- but a trip that takes 30 minutes by bicycle, or 15 minutes by car... took nearly 2 hours. (I rode 2 buses (45min.); walked 1.5 miles (30min.), waited at curbs for 35min.; jaywalked across 2x6 rush-hour lanes; and climbed 2 grassy embankments.)

This was homework for that course I'm taking. So I tried to imagine what I would say if I got stopped for running across a divided highway buffeted by tractor-trailers: "Your honor, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, all this has been happening to me because of this guy named Mark Scandrette ..." (source)

... who writes, "If Jesus lived in our day, I think he would take the bus." I thought about this as I rode, waited, walked, and bushwhacked. I also chuckled at the line from Repo Man, "I do my best thinking on the bus... The more you drive, the less intelligent you are." I recalled the daily bus rides I'd taken as a kid in Tunis and Casablanca; others in Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles; ... and how insulated I've become since then from buses and all that they represent.

I also thought of Joseph, a Togolese refugee who briefly lived with us a few years ago, and all the time he must have spent on buses getting from our house to places much further away (30 miles instead of my 6) in search of menial work, or signatures on forms. At one point I realized I'd taken the wrong bus and had to ask the bus driver for advice: I thought of Joseph's severely limited command of English, and how panicky this must have been for him. (And probably a frequent occurrence.) I felt sheepish at how much more we could've helped Joseph get around. More generally, I felt for those constrained to take buses across these far-flung suburbs -- inward along one "spoke" of the network, transferring once or twice to go back out along another spoke; hours spent each day just getting around.

As I stood waiting for the first bus (my feet hurting from my 1.2 mile walk in poorly-chosen shoes), dozens of cars whisked by in sleek efficiency -- door-to-door, no waiting. Through lightly tinted windows I saw their (usually sole) occupants and thought of their plush seats, precise climate controls, and glorious surround sound.... In my mind, every one of them seemed luxurious. Playing a have-not for a day: what could be more artificial? Yet I found myself wishing one of them would stop and give me a ride -- at least to my next bus..? Sharing their convenience, velocity, and comfort with me for a few minutes would cost them nothing, but it would completely make my day. From my curbside perspective this made so much sense that I fully expected one of them to slow down from 50mph, pull over to the curb, and invite me aboard.

Have mercy
Been waitin' for the bus all day
I got my brown paper bag and my take home pay

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Diesel BicyclingYesterday young Diesel, not quite 4 years old, learned to ride his bike without training wheels. We're all pretty pleased; Diesel even informed a couple of strangers at the jungle gym. Which he no longer has much time for because he's riding and riding and riding and...

Watching him get steadier and faster, I felt like Crush the sea turtle: "Curl away, my son! ... Chaaaahh" (video@3:35)

So, yeah, fatherhood is pretty OK at the moment.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Playing a tiny part

Well, that was interesting: I contributed (inadvertently and infinitesimally) to Jon Birch's ASBO Jesus comicblog. He spun an earlier comment into a biting new cartoon, the "Greed Creed." Awfully generous of Mr. Birch to give me a shout-out.

The concept originated with Stephen Colbert's brilliant "Word" of Sept. 29. I found it unsettling to see so many people solemnly declaring, "I believe in the free market." (skip to 2:25 if you're in a hurry)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lord, have mercy on me, an idiot

That was my Facebook status for a few days last week. Nobody responded; I'm not too surprised. I'm a Facebook lurker myself; I've seen much more interesting status lines and not lifted a finger to comment. It was a somewhat feeble form of "soul graffiti" -- a public expression of an inner yelp -- and, part of my homework for the online course I'm taking. There's not much of a story behind it: I'm just overtired, and generally a mess; with no-one to blame but myself. I've been burning the candle at both ends: staying up late for no particularly good reason, news, blogs, etc., despite knowing that 3 little boys will be climbing on me before sunrise. (I've been a bit obsessed with getting the very latest news and opinion on the economy and Gov. Palin -- two of the most bizarre and worrisome news developments I've ever seen.) Under these groggy conditions, Saturdays are especially tough: absent the 9-5 structure, I meander between unfinished tasks in the house and yard, daunted by the least difficulty, irritation growing by the hour. This past Saturday I finally put down the to-do list and took a nap: as I lay sheepishly, hoping for sleep, I thought of the apostle Paul's word from God: "My strength is made perfect in weakness." I smirked as I prayed in reply, "Lord, um, careful what you wish for..." Dim humor, but enough for right then.

Lately I've been mulling a line by a different Paul, "Fools said I, you do not know / Silence like a cancer grows" (suggested by Kathryn, a fellow student). The phrase was probably meant for communities or societies; but it also applies to individuals: as I neglect to express the stuff that humbles or scares me, it transforms and spreads, and talking about it becomes harder. (...Lather, rinse, repeat.) Eventually just writing a personal e-mail becomes an hour-long exercise. Prior to the 6-month hiatus on this blog, my posts had gotten a bit formulaic, with little content that really mattered; even I was getting tired of the formula. In days & weeks to come here, I hope to get up & out of familiar, slippery ruts and get some thoughts out, before the cancerous silence has a chance to grow.

...Interspersed with inane commentary and cute pictures of the boys, of course, just for good measure.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mental floss

The Soul Graffiti course has begun. Before I dive into that, I need to clear my slate and share a few things with you before they recede into complete irrelevance. First, on a recent day my spam folder -- usually a vile, foaming cesspool -- was glittering with little gems:

  • Unemployed To Be Used For Soup
  • Mike Tyson To Fight Michael Jackson
  • Laika The Russian Space Dog, Returns To Earth
  • Polar Bear Finds Yoga Great For Flexibility, But Murder On The Balls
  • Sarah Jessica Parker Arrested For Gross Negligee
  • 2008 Presidential Election Results Leaked

The flow of fun Subject-fields quickly stopped, and has never resumed; some sort of glitch in the SpamMatrix I guess. I traced a couple of these to The Onion and elsewhere, but others had more obscure sources. (I don't think spammers sit around thinking up funny headlines.)

Another kind of mental flotsam might be titled "wait, am I laughing with you, or at you?" Recent examples:

  • "Gratification so instant, it already happened" (Nestea billboard)
  • "Even hotdogs get extreme makeovers" (sign for Auntie Annie's Pretzel Dogs)
  • "Fear the turtle" (University of Maryland signs)

OK. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Sorry to have wasted 2 minutes of your life. It can only go up from here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From Draisine to .deciMach

I had it easy for my first stint in homeschooling last week. The "kids' choice" subject of the day was: bicycles. We traced the history of the bicycle, from the Draisine (1817) to the Velocipede (a.k.a. "Bone-Shaker," 1864, pictured at right), the Penny-Farthing (1870), and the breakthrough Safety bicycle (1885).

Advice to Bicyclists I found this to be a surprisingly rich story of engineering design, patent and business strategy, and social change (Susan B. Anthony praised the bicycle for emancipating women). As bicycling grew popular in the 1890s, doctors warned people (esp. women) about the risk of "bicycle face" and other maladies resulting from the "unhygienic" exertion of riding a bicycle above 7-1/2 mph.

Then it was on to "unusual" bicycles, including Recumbents and the Human-Powered Speed Challenge. Coincidentally, that very afternoon in the Nevada high desert, a new record was being set -- 82.3 mph -- which also earned the .deciMach prize for going one-tenth the speed of sound under human power. That's asking for some severe bicycle face.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking the plunge

Let's ignore that little 6-month hiatus, and start this blog up again, shall we? I don't know whether I can restore some sort of regularity to this space, but I need to try. As they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I think one key to keeping it going will be to write often and quickly -- so, I'll give myself 20 minutes per post. So, reload & refresh... Hello everyone.

Also under the "plunge" rubric, I'm about to take a seminary course -- OK, that's an overstatement; it's just an online four-week study of "Soul Graffiti," with the author, Mark Scandrette, through the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, in Berkeley, CA. I'd been thinking of it as a glorified book club, until I came to the part of the registration form where I had to choose between "Lay" and "Ordained." One clue that this isn't exactly the Applied Math Dept. I have no guarantee that I'll find the time each week to read 4 chapters, write three essays, and conduct a "life experiment", but I can't wait to try.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I spent most of a precious Saturday fixing our propane stove. Uncle George had already given his diagnosis over the phone; the thirdhand report I got said something about a "thermal coupler." But first I had to figure out what such a thing even looked like. Several Google searches later, I had the stove's user manual onscreen, with an exploded diagram showing a thermocouple. But because the actual thermocouple I could see in the stove seemed (a) undamaged, (b) very unique to this stove (thus hard to replace and probably expensive), and (c) difficult to extricate, I spent some time assessing what else might be wrong. Finally (after a perusal of the Wikipedia page) I decided that the symptoms did indeed point more strongly to the thermocouple than to anything else; and that I might as well try replacing it even in the absence of a watertight proof. For this I had to turn the heavy cast-iron stove on its side (after removing the stovepipe from it and the wall) -- yet another "this'll take a few minutes" project that grew and grew... But to my surprise, further online searches revealed that nearly all gas stoves and water heaters use the exact same thermocouple -- same size, threads, etc. -- which I went out, bought, and installed; that part was far more straightforward than I expected. In the end: yes, that was it; Uncle George was right; now the stove runs great, and we can heat our den again. One notch up the NSGCD scale.

Afterwards I tried to picture myself as an appliance repairman: toolbelt around the waist and Sony Vaio under the arm, stopping every 15 minutes to clean my hands for another Google search. But laugh while you can, monkey-boy -- I only spent $9, and now I *understand* why the fix worked. Such a deal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunday explorations

I've been taking the young'uns on Sunday outings (leaving their Mom at home to enjoy a few hours of blissful silence). 3 on 1 gets a little crazy but it's worth it when I can bring back pictures.

This last time we went literally off the map, looking for The Awakening in its new digs at the gargantuan National Harbor complex under construction just south of DC. Didn't get to pay my respects last week; thought I'd make up for it now; but no go -- "We open to the public on April 1st," said the checkpoint guard. So, we had to settle for a foggy sunset walk along the Potomac at Fort Foote. Which was a fun discovery in its own right. I wanted to take more pictures of the old fort's 15-inch cannons overlooking the river, but the sky was darkening, as was everyone's mood. Maybe next time.

The previous Sunday we took in the Botanic Garden and climbed Capitol Hill. More fun pictures. (Funny how I always flank little Timo [the Inveterate Wanderer] with two older, wiser bodyguards before stepping away to take the photo.) It's tricky getting them all in one frame, but their grandmothers seem to appreciate the outcome. Diesel's real name lent itself nicely to the pun in the picture caption -- we've all gotten pretty familiar with that Schoolhouse Rock song.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Never a dull moment

Little Timo lo-o-ves his bath. Start running the water, step away for a second to check the weather forecast, and there's no telling what might happen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

De Congeriei

Three prolific young disorganizers under our roof accumulate a staggering amount of stuff -- clothing, toys, papers, remotes, mutilated pears, cups, wallets, partially eviscerated NutriGrain bars, etc. -- which they discard in the most unexpected places. Trying to keep the place tidy (car keys out of the trash can, etc.) is bit of a losing battle -- especially as the adults who live here aren't pillars of neatness either.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I clicked on the NSGCD's Clutter Hoarding Scale. On first reading, I brushed it off ("thank you, God, that I am not like other men"): after all, Level II already mentions things like "Unclear functions of living room, bedroom" and it goes downhill to Level V with "Rodents evident and in sight; Standing water..." But a closer reading led to some nervous laughter on realizing that in recent memory our home slovenly home has exhibited all five NSGCD clutter levels:

Level I: "Light evidence of rodents/insects..."
Level II: "Limited evidence of housekeeping, vacuuming, sweeping..."
Level III: "Visible clutter outdoors ... excessive use of electric and extension cords..."
Level IV: "No clean dishes or utensils locatable in kitchen..."
Level V: "Septic system nonoperational... snakes in interior of home... "

("God, have mercy on me, a sinner!") And just to add insult to injera*: just a few days ago I found my wallet, sitting behind the mending pile on my dresser. It was coated in thick dust; I hadn't seen it since July... Well, at least the picture on my replacement driver's license was a big improvement. As silver linings go, this one's pretty thin; but I'll take it.

(The original title, "On Clutter," lacked a certain something; what better way to lend it panache than translate it to a dead language? Welcome, googling Latin students: your pain is our gain.)

(* Construction of a groaner involving an offensive Ethiopian baker is left as an exercise to the reader.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Strange bedfellows

A young child makes a perfect pillow
on a lazy Saturday morning.
Provided, of course, one has first
deconstructed the conventional "pillow,"
freeing it from bourgeois metanarratives
such as "sleep," and eschewing social constructions such as
"staying put under one's ear" or
"not shrieking with laughter."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now that's a Sabbath

I think I was 11, or maybe 14, when I first wanted to ride a unicycle. A couple years ago, Suvia called my bluff and got me one for Christmas. Sure enough, I still haven't yet learned to ride it -- I'm no longer 11 so I'm impatient, needing to see progress every few minutes; and there always seem to be more pressing duties (toddlers falling off chairs and the like). Occasionally, I'd dust the thing off, teeter on it for a few minutes, then waste a half hour reading unicycling tips or watching Kris Holm videos on YouTube.
Learning to unicycle at last
But on a couple of recent Sunday afternoons, as the family napped, I tiptoed out back to try and teach an old dog new tricks. Of several pictures, this one least betrays how heavily I was leaning onto that wooden post, at first. After 45 minutes or so, I found that very gradually I was leaning less onto the post. There's still a long ways to go; but I'm hopeful that the following "unmethod" will bear fruit:

It will take about 15 hours to learn to ride a unicycle.
  1. Get on the unicycle while leaning on a handrail or post.
  2. Rock back and forth to get a feel for the thing.
  3. Do 1. and 2. for about 3 hours, going farther bit by bit.
Congratulations! Only 10 more hours to go.

I have thought of some truly stirring analogies here, but this post is too small to contain them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mind those units!

We've never had this much garlic on hand. While shopping at, Someone entered "1" next to Garlic, apparently missing that the units were "lbs.", not "heads". (Of all the perils of online grocery shopping, this is one I'd never thought of.) So over the next few weeks we'll need to consume garlic at several times our usual rate -- which will apparently present all kinds of benefits. Chicken cacciatore, Greek lentil soup, maybe hummus ... other ideas? One recipe calls for a whole chicken and 40 cloves of garlic; that would be the easy way out but I'm skeptical.

I once had a physics teacher who just couldn't stand it when we didn't pay attention to the proper units. Getting the wrong answer for mass or speed or charge was one thing, but writing that "the cyclist is moving at 60 km/sec" or "the water temperature drops to -23 K" would guarantee an exasperated little lecture in class. I wish he could see this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


It's Black Pepper Week at the Perk; I just finished a Black Pepper & Mango Sorbet -- tart, bright saffron-colored globes served on fresh mint leaves in a square sushi plate. (Quite a contrast to the whimsical, rough-hewn decor of this dusty coffee/tea/alehouse; odd juxtapositions seem to be the norm here.) Tonight's Open Mic has an unexpected treat: two subsets of local acoustic-speedmetal supergroup ilyAIMY.

I was last here for a midnight performance of the beautiful, uncategorizable music of Might Could. With three acoustic guitars and one part-time bass, musical roots in Segovia, Fripp, and Blue Oyster Cult, intricate play so intertwined that it seems leaderless, and imaginative titles like "Synecdoche", what's not to like? I bought their outstanding CD Wood Knot from them (soon available in stores); there's something heady about seeing truly original music, with an obviously promising future, performed in a cramped, dusty place by a band whose website still ends in ".edu". Someday I hope to point to some household-name on TV and say "I remember when..."

Sitting here, I recall that for several years I lived within a short walk of the (now defunct) Nightstage music club, where I saw mind-bending shows by Bill Bruford's Earthworks, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, and others. A slightly longer walk away, I (twice) caught Pat Metheny at Ryles, in unannounced, word-of-mouth appearances; a short T ride away I saw Husker Du, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Adrian Belew, the Minutemen, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic; Brooks Williams would breeze through town several times a year; Harrod & Funck played in the subways. Life-changing experiences we would just stumble across! Those were the days... And yet, tonight I sense that maybe serendipity is making a comeback near here. I'll keep an eye out.