Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year: Media Noche and Computing (Jan 01 09)

My family usually spends New Year's Eve at home with us, sharing the traditional Filipino media noche, the midnight dinner of spaghetti, queso de bola, Filipino tsokolate, and fruits. The spaghetti was vegetarian, tomato and mushroom with semola spaghettini. I got the cheap Balducci semola, which is almost half the price of San Remo. For the non-vegetarians we had hotdogs and salami on a separate platter, far away from the vegetarians. We also had vegetarian hotdogs and ham, which my wife bought from Harvesters' Veggie Mart, the vegetable store and bakeshop next to Bodhi Vegetarian on Banawe Street in Quezon City. My neighbor, the Oafallas, gave chicken cordon blue and Korean noodles, so the non-vegetarians had two additional dishes.

Before dinner, we exchanged gifts. Every year, we had this problem of drawing names of the family member for whom we buy our annual Christmas gift. The problem is there were too few members of our family: wife Dulce and myself, son Paul and wife Mia, daughters Karen and Abigail. (This year, Abigail is in France on a Mundus Forum scholarship, so she missed our media noche and gift giving). The chance that we draw our own names was so great that we had to redraw many times until we got a satisfactory draw. This year though, Karen discovered Elfster:

and Elfster solved our problem for us. Elfster not only drew unique names for everyone, but also Elfster gave everyone a chance to specify the gift she/he wanted. If you have a small family like ours, you should check out Elfster.

After dinner, I told Paul and Mia that Karen and I are working on a tiling problem that we intend to present to the 2009 Philippine Computing Science Congress in Siliman University, Dumaguete City:

Mia got Paul interested, and Paul agreed to help. When I showed Paul my notes, he immediately saw a error in my brute force enumeration, which of course, got corrected. The rest of the early morning (after midnight dinner) was spent by my children working on the tiling problem. I believe that this is a good way for a family to spend New Year together.

Happy New Year everyone!

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