Winter

Winter arrived yesterday with a pounding storm; Diane’s location lost power around 2:30pm, so she left work early and is now on the system trying to finish up what she was doing when everything around her went black.

Today marks the beginning of winter vacation for both of us (Jeffrey has school today, but then he’s off, too). Today, we plan to go visit the San Jose Museum of Art and write our Season’s Greetings cards (the Hanukkah cards were mailed long ago, mostly before Hanukkah). And after that…who knows?

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” – Margaret Thatcher [from Kevan Shafizadeh’s Favorite Quotations via Synergy]

I plan to spend less time than usual on the computer over the next couple of weeks, and that probably means fewer updates here. So let me wish you a Happy New Year now, and of course, Shabbat Shalom!

Museum Report

The San Jose Museum of Art was interesting — they had four special exhibits, but almost nothing from their permanent collection was on display. Downstairs, they had Catherine Wagner: Cross Sections, which featured scientific images (such as MRIs and scanning electron microscopes) treated as art; some of the images were striking. Upstairs, there were two exhibits; the bigger one was How-To: The Art of Deborah Oropallo, which mostly left me cold (the images were very mechanical-feeling). They also had First Impressions: The Paulson Press, celebrating a Bay Area printmaking atelier; I learned a lot about printmaking from this exhibit, and I found that some of the images here did make me think that I’d like to live with them for a while. But my favorite was down in the basement — Snap! Photography from SJMA’s Teen Arts Program. The teenagers who took these photos clearly were enjoying themselves and wanted to communicate what they felt, and I appreciated that.

Naturally, we also visited the Museum Store and the Museum Cafe; the Cafe was almost worth the trip by itself (and I’d seriously consider eating there any time I’m in downtown San Jose).

Gigo

With the end of the year looming, we’re into the last-minute rush to get charitable contributions into the books for 2001. I use Quicken to keep track of the household finances, and one of the things I always do is compare last year’s giving to this year’s to make sure we didn’t inadvertently miss a cause we want to support. But it’s difficult to get a decent report out of Quicken — there’s more detail than is useful and it’s hard to see the big picture.

So I decided I could do better, and came up with a Rube Goldberg scheme to build a useful summary. It’s actually fairly simple — I start in Quicken and create its built-in “charitable contribution” report, covering the last couple of years. Then I copy it to the Windows clipboard and paste it into Excel, where I immediately save it as a tab-delimited file (there’s no way to do that directly from Quicken). Then I use a little Rexx program I wrote to sum up all of the entries by payee and by year, creating an HTML file, which I then load into my browser and print. What could be simpler or more straightforward?

When I did this, I discovered that I didn’t show any contributions to the Tech Museum for the past two years — this amazed me, since we’ve been members the whole time. So I looked more closely, and discovered that I’d been accidentally mis-categorizing my payments to the Tech — I’d bought something there and recorded it as a miscellaneous purchase, and then all of my subsequent payments to the Tech had automatically been categorized that way, too.

It’s hard to see something that isn’t there.

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