July 2005
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Day July 24, 2005

Birthday Party for Peter at Nell’s

My friend Peter had a birthday party at Nell’s on Greenlake on Sunday night. Peter’s alternating yearly between Nell’s and Cafe Juanita, which gives us a chance to focus alternately on Italian and French wines, of course. The menu, put together by Phil for the dinner, included his incredible “Chimney Smoked Lobster,” a selection of appetizers out on the deck while we drank rose champagne, and Kobe beef hanger steak, which was incredible. Since I’m being very good these days, I had small bites of everything and shared the rest around the table, and avoided the foie gras appetizer entirely. The wines were:

  • Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne
  • Raveneau 1995 Chapelot
  • Comte Lafon 1996 Clos de la Barre
  • Comte Lafon 1990 Meursault-Charmes
  • Jadot 1989 Corton-Charlemagne
  • Mascarello 1989 Barolo
  • Beaucastel 1989
  • Vieux Telegraphe 1989
  • Gruaud Larose 1989
  • Chave 1989 Hermitage
  • Christoffel-Prum 1971 Auslese

Of these, the Mascarello 1989 was one of the best reds, with the Chave 1989 being delicious but more advanced than I recalled it previously. The Beaucastel was fascinating — a menthol-ish note reminded us of Heitz Martha’s Vineyard (at least in the old days) and the wine lacked a lot of the leathery bretty nose, but was sound and delicious. Maybe it’s entering a new phase, who knows? I brought my last magnum of the Vieux Telegraphe 1989, which took time to open up and come out of its shell but was open and lush and sweet. Those who tasted it right after pouring were disappointed, but the wine continued to improve long into the evening. I took some home and the glass eventually started to fade by 11 p.m. or so (it had been double-decanted around 4:30 or so). The Gruaud Larose was lovely with the Kobe beef and seems to be starting to show some secondary characteristics, but still is youthful in color.

Of the whites, the Raveneau was naturally the star of the show for me. Creamy lemony minerals and great acidity, I kept this in the glass along with all the reds and kept returning to it, and it continued to give pleasure for hours. The Lafon 1996 was great, young and brash but excellent. The 1990, in contrast, seemed a bit oxidized and was most people’s least favorite of the whites. The Jadot Corton was excellent but somewhat straightforward and unexciting. Drunk alone, I would have loved it but it didn’t compare well.

New Powerbook update #2

I’m almost fully “up and running” on the new Powerbook, and I’m having a blast. Last night I copied document and music trees over from my Windows machine, and will now consider the Mac to be “primary” for buying music on iTunes. I’ll probably prune the “laptop-resident” document tree (I have many gigs of stored research papers, etc, on my Windows laptop), and keep them at home on the file server, with a mirror on my Mac for use in writing or doing research. The windows laptop will get cleaner and cleaner and will become just the “work” machine like it was intended to be.

For documents I’m working on (rather than stored static PDF archives), I’m using a Subversion repository on a home file server, running out of Apache2 with WebDAV. This means that “working copies” are stored on Windows and the Mac which then get treated just like source code — update, merge, commit as needed. This has been working for months on my Windows machine, and gives me a combination of backup, multi-machine sync, and version control for critical documents and writings. We’ll see how well this works when split across Windows and Mac, but if Microsoft Office is happy with the documents, it’ll probably be seamless.

At this point, all that’s missing from the Powerbook is Microsoft Office itself, which I’m getting this week (hopefully tomorrow). At that point, I’ll be fully functional. I do need to make a final decision on outliners/notetaking software, to replace Microsoft OneNote (which I love but which doesn’t have a Mac version, hint hint…). At the moment, I’m trying four of them and NoteBook from CircusPonies (oddly enough) is winning. Probably wouldn’t win if I were interested mostly in project tracking, todo lists, etc, but I do all of that in Outlook (probably soon, Entourage), and Microsoft Project when necessary. For my purposes, the outliner really is more of a note-taking environment, and NoteBook is winning.

I spent time at the Allegro today with the new machine and loved every minute of it. I’m not bothered by the smaller screen, since with good display technology and typography I can read and edit text at smaller sizes. And I bought a Bluetooth optical mouse, which gives me a thumbwheel and a right-click button. I’m sorry, but Apple went overboard simplifying the mouse, and as a result the clunky but beautiful Apple mice are more like art than tools. But Kensington had a nice travel-worthy wireless mouse which will work equally good at home and on the road. Now I just need one of those Incase neoprene envelope things to protect my sexy little laptop when I throw it in my 13-year old Mountainsmith lumbar “day” pack and I’m good to go.

Hey, another question for Mac-inclined readers…on Windows I was using Picasa from Google to organize my photos and loving it. How is iPhoto, really, and is it worth buying iLife? Is there something better for photo management? (And no, Tim, I’m not looking to write my own just for fun!)