Charles Petzold

Early Summer This Year

May 18, 2007
Roscoe, N.Y.

No this isn't a blog entry about global warming. It's about how Deirdre and I are spending the summer.

Ever since Deirdre bought a little house in the Catskills about 4-1/2 years ago, we've been spending our summers here — pretty much the entire months of June, July, and August. This year we decided to add another couple weeks to the front end of the schedule and make the transition in mid-May.

At the time we planned the early transition, I thought I'd have the WPF 3D book finished. The book is taking another month but the decision to transition earlier took on its own momentum and there seemed no way it could be stopped. I was nervous about losing book time. My head was full of rotation transforms and quaternions, and I was afraid that a little distraction would cause me to lose it all.

The house is only a 2-hour drive from outside the Lincoln Tunnel, so theoretically we could be much more flexible about where we spend our time. And to a limited extent, we are flexible: During the summer we often go back into the city for a night or two, and during the rest of the year we drive into the country for a couple days. But we're always anchored at one place or another due to a very simple (and yet complex) factor: Cats.

Our two cats can be left alone for a night or two without problems. Three nights alone is pushing the limit, and I'm not sure we could manage four nights without being consumed by concern. So basically wherever we are for more than a few nights in a row, the cats are as well.

And the cats don't like to travel. They certainly like being in the country — we still keep them indoors but there are plenty of windows and a porch — but they don't like getting here. The big one in particular takes to hiding in the sofa when he gets wind of an imminent journey.

I certainly sympathize. It's also traumatic for me.

I customarily work on a couple different machines. I have Vista and Visual Studio on a desktop machine in New York City, and also the desktop machine in the guestroom in the country house where I work, and I have XP with .NET 3.0 on a notebook. I keep my current projects on a USB drive so it's no big deal hopping from machine to machine.

However, the 3D book presented some special problems. Only one of the desktop machines is capable of Tier 2 graphics which enables anti-aliasing under 3D, and since I'm doing screen shots for the book — actually I'm mostly generating 400 DPI bitmaps using RenderTargetBitmap with visuals generated from XAML file — I really need that feature. Aside from configuring the up-state machine to do Tier 2 graphics (which I've already tried to do but it didn't seem to take), the only Tier 2 machine I owned had to accompany me to the country. (I also seem incapable of transitioning one way or another with about a hundred CDs and half a dozen boxes of books.)

We arrived in Roscoe, New York, with the cats and our stuff yesterday afternoon, and today I got in a full day of work.

On Sunday, Deirdre is hosting the first of several "Summer Slam" open-microphone events at the nearby bookstore Hamish & Henry, who still has a witty billboard on Route 17.