Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

31 October 2006

Odd Halloween Traditions

I left work early today to be here for trick-or-treating prep with the girls. Tandy was working on a new recipe for spicy pumpkin seeds and getting ready to make a fun-food dinner for the girls. The girls and I started working on our number one tradition: pumpkin carving. They discuss how they want their pumpkins to look and then sketch their designs on a piece of paper. I then draw the design onto the pumpkin with a magic marker and we agree on depth, cut styles and so forth. Then I break out the Dremel!

I kid you not about this. I set that bad boy to 5,000rpm and cut open the top. Then I scoop out the guts and seeds and hull it out as much as possible. With a shake of the pumpkin the guts are disgorged, and I set the Dremel to 2,000rpm to start sculpting the outline. This is, by far, the messiest part of the operation. Everything is coated with a layer of pumpkin "dust," which smells like cooked pumpkin and clings like nobody's business. It is easy to see why this dance of excess occurs outside on the back deck. As soon as the outline is sculpted, the Dremel whips into its 5,000rpm whine for the cutouts. These smell of cooked pumpkin is strong the when Dremel hits it at such a high speed, but before you know it blocks are sliding out of the back.

This year I cut out four pumpkins in thirty minutes. Do that with a knife or a pumpkin carving kit! Nothing less than the Binford Pumpkin Carver 5000 will get the job done fast. Overkill? Nah!

28 October 2006

Cipher Collection

By some accounts, three items makes a collection. This evening I was reviewing one of the ritual books in my growing collection. Thanks to eBay and the kindness of brethren, my collection includes:

Printed Rituals
  • Grand Lodge of Mississippi Ritual (M.W. Bro. James C. Gilliam, Grand Master)
    Copyright 1951 A. Nizzardini
    The text annotation in the front is "Edward Drummond", "476" and "22908". There are very few markings in the text at all.
  • Grand Lodge of New York Monitor (George R. Irving, Grand Secretary)
    Copyright 1951 George R. Irving
    The text annotation in the front is "James S. Tucker", "Massapequa Lodge #822" and "Rockville Center, NY"
  • Grand Lodge of Maine Ritual
    Editions in my collection include: 1925, 1928, 1938, 1941 and 1943.
  • Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Trestleboard (monitor)
    published in 1913, copyright 1876
    The text annotation in the front is "John S. Blank, Jr."
  • Grand Lodge of Connecticut Ritual (revised 1991)
  • Grand Lodge of Florida Masonic Code (ritual, revised 1997)
  • Saint Giles Lodge No. 8904 Emulation Ritual (Oxford, UK)
    There is a small booklet titled "The Inner Workings of the Board of Installed Masters"
Handwritten Rituals
  • Massachusetts and English Ritual from late 1870s
    The text covers the lecture of the Master Mason Degree, a Christian version of the Five Points of Fellowship, On Yonder Book and the ritual and lectures of the Capitular Degrees of the York Rite.
    The front of the book has 126 pages of very fine handwriting followed by 18 pages of very rough handwriting. All I can say is, thank goodness for eBay!
Works on Loan
  • Maine Ritual from 1874
    These three texts have been loaned to me by the Master of Triangle Lodge No. 1 for study. The include the complete text of the three degrees, in cipher form, as they were known at that time. M.W. Bro. Charles Ridlon informed me that the committee which formalized the ritual settled the text in 1894.
    The Entered Apprentice book has a front page with "Portland Lodge No. 1" and "May 11th, 1874". The Master Mason book has the initials "T.J.M." or "T.J.W." written on the first page.
These books give me plenty to study now that I've come back up for air and can resume my own hobbies!

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27 October 2006

0x43: Fresh from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

It looks like I am not the only one waking from a long slumber. My favorite work blogger, who is also the excellent developer in the office adjacent to mine, posted about his experience working with our new product release: 0x43: Fresh from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Here is to hoping it passes final QA approval in the next few days!

26 October 2006

Back Up For Air!

I've been underwater for nearly five months finishing the latest version of our XMap 5.0 product line. As anyone in commercial software development knows that means long hours, lots of meetings and tons of work. All of the hard work is winding its way through final QA now, and we are all very excited about the many new features. I spent most of my time working on a servicable, extensible import architecture to replace the one we had before (which was neither servicable nor extensible).

Finally, I can get back to my fun hobbies. I have been gradually accumulating a collection of cypher books. On Wednesday, I was loaned a set of three handwritten Maine ritual cyphers from 1874. I am very much looking forward to studying those in depth.