Archives For Life

Mary Blair, 1920-2007

Matthew Bietz —  June 25, 2007 — 1 Comment

Grandma MaryGrandma Mary had a very sudden massive cerebral hemorrhage yesterday morning. She never regained consciousness, and passed away this morning.

She was a great lady, and I’m going to miss her terribly.

I have to mention her sense of humor. Every time we talked on the phone, we had to share any dirty jokes we’d heard. One memory keeps sticking in my head: We were watching the news together at her house. It was during the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the newscaster had just finished giving all the sordid “blow-by-blow” details. She shook her head, turned to me, and said, “Bah. If you’re gonna sleep with the president, you should at least do it right and go all the way.”

A highlight of any visit to her house was a meal of her tomato soup (always served with corn bread, of course). It’s hearty farm food – not fancy, but boy did it put Campbell’s to shame! I’m sure that part of the reason it was so good (and mine never tastes quite the same) is because she made it with home-canned tomatoes. Here’s the recipe if you want to remember Grandma too.

Grandma Mary’s Tomato Soup

1 qt. tomatoes
1 qt. water
1/2 cup rice
1 onion
2 tbsp (about) cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper

  1. Cook onion and rice in tomatoes and water until tender.
  2. Mix cornstarch with water, add to soup.
  3. Add cream and bring to a boil. Season to taste.

Mstislav RostropovichRostropovich died today.

He’s always been one of my role models and heroes. His collaborations with Britten and Prokofiev and Shostakovich resulted in some of the best cello music ever written. I had the picture of him playing at the fall of the Berlin Wall hanging in my room.

In 1993 (when he was 66 years old!), I was lucky enough to see him play two big concerti in the same program with the London Symphony Orchestra. I was in London for the semester, and I was taking lessons at the Royal College of Music. I had a lesson earlier in the day and told my teacher I was going to see Rostropovich play the Britten Cello Symphony that evening. I was more than a little shocked with his reply: he had studied with Rostropovich, and for the English premiere of the Cello Symphony at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1964, he was playing in the orchestra, and was asked to go sit in the audience and listen for balance.

So today I’m listening to his recordings of the Bach Suites, and the Britten Suites, and Britten’s Cello Symphony, and Prokofiev’s Symphony-Concerto. Maybe I’ll even get out my own cello and annoy the neighbors.

We had the water off today. Only a few hours. Supposed to happen again tomorrow. Backflow prevention or something like that. Not a huge deal, but annoying. Like, eating an orange, and then can’t wash the hands. Ug.

Prepping for Ann Arbor

Matthew Bietz —  September 12, 2006 — Leave a comment

So it’s been a while. I should try to post here more often.

Coming up to a meeting with the committee on Thursday morning. They’ve had a chance to read over results from the first experiment and the plans for experiment #2.

I leave for Ann Arbor next Wednesday. Lots of stuff to prepare before I go, especially preparing materials for the experiment. I need to hit the ground running with that. Hopefully it’ll be a productive trip.

Got accepted to the i-Conference doctoral colloquium. I’ll have a lot of chances to present posters about my dissertation – the SI PhD student poster session, then the i-Conference, then CSCW in November.

Today I’m dealing with a lot of little things I need to do. Final versions are due soon for the CSCW paper and the i-Conference submission. CHI (Sept. 29) and ICA (Nov. 1) deadlines are coming up soon too. I probably won’t do CHI – I won’t have much more to say than I did for the CSCW poster. ICA would be a fun conference to try out.

OK – back to it.