A Perfect Storm of Laziness

Monday, January 25, 2021

In 2018, I biked 3,213 miles. About two thirds of that was on the longtail cargo bike, and much of THAT was hauling the kids as the three of us bumped up against the weight limit of the bike. I was in pretty fantastic shape for a guy who had just turned 40.

Enter 2019. March 8th, I tore my Achilles. It wouldn’t be until July 5th that I rode a bike again. In the meantime, the kids were growing and growing and I was really no longer able to haul both of them for any distance, even if they wanted me to, which they increasingly did not. Then 2020 came around and COVID took away most of my motivation to bike - who wants to ride somewhere when you can’t go inside?

My strategy to deal with all of this and keep my fitness level was to pretend it wasn’t happening, and this clearly isn’t working. I’ve tried nothing, and it isn’t working.

I’ve always been pretty good about keeping up with fitness so long as it didn’t take any real time out of my day. Now that I have to work at it, it’s not going so well.

Posted in: biking , fitness

The Bernie meme is over

Friday, January 22, 2021

This is the pinnacle of the Bernie sitting in the cold with his mittens meme. There can be nothing better than this.

Posted in: bernie

Maybe don't run five year old scripts without testing

Friday, January 15, 2021

So maybe in the future I should remind myself that mindlessly running a script you haven’t touched in 5+ years without bothering to back up your old blog is not exactly a smart decision. I think I’ve gotten things maybe 75% fixed, but it’s likely that the URLs aren’t the same as they used to be, so any old links from old blogs are probably dead. Good thing no one writes or reads blogs anymore.

Anyway, thinking of getting back into blogging again. I like to write. I’m not terrible at it, even if the bulk of the content on this blog suggests otherwise. It’s a great time to be blogging since no one cares about the medium anymore. Maybe I’ll have these auto-post to Instagram so the kids will see it and ignore it there instead of ignoring it here.

Posted in: idiot

I wonder if this will work

Thursday, January 14, 2021

It’s been years since I updated this blog and I don’t actually remember how to do it. Maybe it works automatically? I’m going to have to try to figure this out.

Posted in: testing

Did we learn nothing?

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I have to admit that I watch very little TV these days. What I do watch is usually through our Roku, which I love. But I can’t help seeing these articles on putting Roku hardware into tvs, I can’t help thinking about TVs with built in VHS. Media players are always obsolete faster than TVs. Even the whole concept of a “smart TV” is kind of silly. I get it from a marketing perspective, but I really can’t understand what consumer would want this.

Posted in: technology

I'm in the New York Times!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I’m quoted in an article in the New York Times about family biking. Full disclosure - the author has kids at our kids' school, and we’ve talked before about bikes, so it’s not like someone randomly found me and realized I was awesome or anything like that.

And I was in the Washington Post earlier this year, though purely by chance, and not in the online edition. A photographer got a picture of me taking the girls home from school and it was used in an article about DC charter schools because I happened to be passing by one when he snapped the photo.

I’m trying to decide what paper would really complete the trifecta. The Boston Globe, to keep up the East Coast thing? The LA Times to really branch out? Maybe a Chicago paper? I’m pulling for LA because, really, how the heck would I get into an LA paper?

Also, a note on the article - the author is aware that there are only quotes from men. What she submitted had quotes from women, and they didn’t make the final. I can’t speak to why that is, and I’m honestly not sure whether it’s better that the NYT editor did it on purpose, or that they are just that clueless. Either way, it’s absurd to ingore the women who are embracing cargo bikes instead of minivans. Anecdotally, I know more women who do it than men.

Posted in: biking , bragging

Stuff is broken

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Having some problems with Mynt, the static site generator that I use to update this site. It stopped working at some point since I last posted forever ago. I’ve fixed most of the issues but you’ll notice you can’t get to older posts, and the previous and next links don’t work.

Should have it all fixed shortly.

Posted in: blogging

A Tumblr for "I'm totally going to start blogging again" posts

Friday, April 24, 2015

I’m going to try to start blogging again for the millionth time. I really do enjoy blogging, I just get distracted, and it’s tough to actually do it from work, which is where I tend to get the ideas for blog posts. This time you know I’m serious, though, because I set a reminder on my phone to start blogging agian.

Over/Under on posts before I forget about this again is three.

Posted in: blogging , meta

Oh, corporations, how I love thee

Saturday, February 15, 2014

ESPN - Goodell made $44.2 million in ‘12

Roger Goodell got paid $44 million dollars in 2012 to manage a non-profit with revenue of $10 billion. I won’t argue he’s not worth that, because I have no idea and don’t really care. But it shows how out of whack everything is.

It’s also a little annoying that everywhere you see this revenue number attached to “the NFL”, but it’s not clear whether they mean the NFL as in the non-profit corporation, or the for-profit (mostly) teams that make up the NFL. This is significant because that’s a huge amout of tax revenue that is or isn’t being paid.

Posted in: NFL , non-profit

Google Translate gets confused

Monday, February 10, 2014

I love Google Voice. I love that it transcribes my voicemails and doesn’t make me sign in to something to check them and make the notifications disappear. But sometimes a machine isn’t the best option for transcription.

Especially when the voicemail is from the kids' school, and the Google Transcription Bots are trying to write Spanish words as English. Not translate them, mind you. Just take the words spoken in Spanish and assume that the speaker just doesn’t enunciate well.

Here are some of my favorite examples.

  • This is a belly will message if it’s a mint okay babe. Bye.
  • It’s A. M on the buttercup. If you’d like to know your screen, or you can is gonna be included in it.
  • Maybe doing the ship but as soon as the net for the end of the video, and I will be buzz been restored. If you if he didn’t seem just with him.
  • If the M on the political modicum of the red Vista such Idaho 849 and again it is.
  • In that way. I’ll talk to you on and she’s up on the above. But I thought the dash.
  • Cenegenics for the Candidacy little bit of Sadat, my knee and not anything they did in May, enough it to know if I’m in the checks for the picking the D payment and have a Today, Cuevas think that in new I love this mail order.
  • At this moment I have. Anyway, this is a binding that customer him on the but I’ll be talking to ask him on the letter that the Santa point.
  • Give me a cliff mean development it.
  • I just had a most man with a step by step.
  • I thought 008 if you’ll send it.
  • Ohh. I don’t know the picking that you can make a deal. Cos the moment.
  • My nephew coming to someone that I have a good morning Linda with my family is a system is hitting way.
  • This is a bilingual message if I’m looking on the bottom ecosystem on that I stuff the shuttle point hey, My this is the victim active you on my team.
  • I’m calling to inform you that my number is closed today, Tuesday, December 10th due to the bad weather.
  • I mean. Just give a call back in to put it together see if you have a system in this is gonna going to go to the C. P. S.
  • In point, dot, com vicinity but I just got an estimate on my team I also want to remind you of our school policy to follow. D. C. P. S. Decisions regarding kosher or delay to to weather conditions which aggressive talked in town.
  • Thank you for your touch.

This will end badly

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kurzweil AI - Wearable ‘neurocam’ records scenes when it detects user interest

I think this is a fascinating step forward in user interface design - the more we can connect thoughts to the external world, the closer we are to doing away with mice and keyboards and whatnot.

But I’m pretty sure no one wants to have a stockpile of videos of everything “interesting” they saw that day. I think that might reveal more about us than we want anyone to know (even ourselves).

Posted in: bad idea , tech , wearable

ReDigi is Ridiculous

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I was reading an article about ReDigi, a company that wants to answer ridiculous interpretations of the First-sale Doctrine as it pertains to digital goods with marketing gobbledygook.

First, I commend companies who keep an eye on where they’re getting mentioned online and respond to people when appropriate. But this only works when you engage the fan or critic. When you just comment on blog posts to say how great you are without addressing any of the concerns, you’re not likely to win any fans.

I have a bunch of problems with ReDigi. I have a problem with the need for them to exist. Either I can resell any digital content I bought, through whatever channel I chose (eBay, Craigslist, a street corner, whatever), or I haven’t actually bought it, and instead I have purchased a revocable license to use the content in some limited manner. In either case, there is no need for ReDigi.

I have a problem with their claims that the patent they’re getting will let them ensure that the original file is deleted and that no copy is ever made. Technically, I don’t think there’s any way they can possibly do this unless the file only exists within ReDigi’s software. Even then it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out a way around whatever they’re doing. That may keep ReDigi on the right side of the law, but it doesn’t make it not ridiculous.

I have a problem with “used” digital content. It just doesn’t make any sense. If it costs the same as “original” digital content, then there’s no difference between the two. If it’s cheaper, that doesn’t make any sense, either, because it’s exactly the same collection of ones and zeroes. It’s not diminished because I read it or listened to it or watched it.

Lastly, you can’t grow a market by introducing inefficiencies. Creating this big framework to stay out of legal trouble is only sort of viable because the status quos is (and I’m overusing this word, but it just fits) ridiculous. Also, I was really, really tempted to title this post “ReDigi is ReDiculous” but I thought people would think I mispelled “Ridiculous”.

Posted in: ebooks , first sale , patents , ridiculous

Stop letting Disney control copyright

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

We’ve written plenty of times about the importance of the public domain around here, and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public domain has been Disney, a company which has regularly mined the public domain for the stories it then recreates and copyrights. Of course, somewhat depressingly, Disney also has been one of the most extreme players in keeping anything new out of the public domain, as pointed out by Tom Bell’s excellent “mickey mouse curve” showing how Disney has sought to push out the term of copyrights every time Mickey Mouse gets near the public domain. (Techdirt)

I’ve talked about this before - click through to see “The Mickey Mouse Curve”, showing how Disney lobbies Congress to extend copyright every time Mickey Mouse is about to come into the public domain. It’s pretty despicable on a lot of levels, but what gets me the most is that it goes against everything copyright was meant to do. It was a deal between the public and content creators that gave the content creators a monopoly on their work for a limited time. In return, after that time, where it was assumed the creator could earn some money from the work, the work would be given to the public to adapt and build on. It makes absolutely no sense to retroactively alter the deal. Clearly the original deal was enough for the creator to create - there’s no need to alter the deal later.

Here’s an equivalent situation. You call Joe’s Lawn Service and ask them to cut your lawn. They tell you it’ll be $25, which you agree to, and Joe cuts your lawn. Then Joe comes back a year later and tells you that original deal wasn’t really enough to get him to cut your lawn, and he needs another $10. Another year later, Joe’s Lawn Service is bought out by Lawncorp. Lawncorp’s lawyers send you a nasty letter telling you that your deal with Joe wasn’t enough to get him to cut your lawn, and Lawncorp now needs another $10, plus legal fees.

But Joe has already cut your lawn. Clearly the $25 you paid Joe back then was sufficient motivation for Joe to cut your lawn. You know this because Joe cut your lawn.

Now, Disney may argue that Mickey Mouse and Disney are so entwined that losing their exclusive right to Mickey Mouse would irreparably harm their brand. It’s a convincing argument, but it’s completely irrelevant to discussions of copyright. There is no provision in copyright that guarantees corporate profits a century later. Trademark law is different - they can keep the trademark forever so long as they’re using it in commerce.

This is especially important now. When Mickey Mouse was created, there were fewer people creating content with any sort of meaningful audience. Now anyone with a computer or smartphone can have ten million views on YouTube or publish a best-seller on Amazon or any number of other things. Copyright used to be a deal between the content creators and the public. Now it’s a deal between the public and the public, because everyone is a creator. And still it’s only Disney’s interests being represented in the law.

Maybe I was wrong about Brookland

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not only is there a new bar from Meridian Pint coming to Brookland, but maybe a new coffee shop/bike shop from Filter and The Bike Rack. And the bike ride to school next year is primarily on the MBT, and Gremlin 1 could definitely bike it next fall. Maybe even Gremlin 2.

It’s definitely looking like a more appealing place to live every day.

Posted in: DC

Congressman Michael Grimm is an insane person

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY/Staten Island) felt a little tense after the State of the Union. After giving a terses statement to an NY1 reporter, he was asked about the ongoing issue of his campaign finance. He declined to discuss the matter and stormed off, then returned a moment later, apparently unaware that the camera was still rolling, and threatened to “throw [the reporter] off this [expletive deleted] balcony.” Grimm followed this with “you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

Source

So, yeah, I’m glad that’s how elected officials speak to members of the press. To members of the human race, really.

It’s amazing that an elected official, in the course of doing his job, can threaten the life of a reporter, then make a non-apology, and people seem to be okay with that.

Mr. Grimm issued a statement late Tuesday evening: “I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”

-Source

I expect a certain level of not threatening to throw people off of balconies from my elected officials. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.

Posted in: assault , politics

Freezing Saddles

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Since January 1st, I’ve been taking part in the Bike Arlington Freezing Saddles challenge. It’s a friendly contest that members of the Bike Arlington forum have organized (this is the second year of the challenge).

The rules are simple. Everyone is broken up into teams. You get 10 points for every day you ride at least a mile, and a point for every mile. Most team points wins. There are also a bunch of other prizes for random things to keep it interesting for those teams that don’t really have a shot at winning.

As I type this we have 11 riders with over 500 miles in January and two with over 1,000. I’m pretty happy with my total - I’ve ridden every day this month, a total of 253 miles. And yes, every day includes the -5 wind chill and every day of the snow.

It’s a cool competition. My team is doing well, but we’re not going to win. We’re currently pretty solidly in 5th place out of ten teams. But it’s a great excuse not only to get out and ride, but also to get to know some fellow forum members a bit better. And the competion finishes with the end of winter at a big happy hour where prizes are given and merriment is had.

It’s defintely good to have an understanding wife who stays with the kids while I go ride on the weekends. Not that she had it so bad today - when I got back she was dozing on the couch while the kids played. Today I rode around Brookland, one of the neighborhoods we’re considering when we finally buy a bigger place. I’m not sure I love it - it feels really suburban. Not unpleasant, but there’s defintely not as much you can walk to as there is here in Columbia Heights. Good hill workout, though, if you’re looking for that.

Posted in: bikeDC

Wearable fitness trackers have jumped the shark

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sweet, a wearable fitness tracker for your pet. And as I write this it’s about to get funded.

I hope one of their cloud services is to text you when your pet is exercising and you aren’t. “Hey lazy the dog is going for a walk and you haven’t moved in an hour, maybe you should get off the couch and join her”.

Posted in: crowdfunding , tech , wearable

You suck, Comcast

Thursday, January 23, 2014

If you are in DC and online, you are likely paying a premium for the privilege.

The most recent figures from the WhiteFence Index, a monthly survey of utilities and home services in major cities, >reveals that DC residents pay the highest rate in the country when it comes to high speed internet.

Why is this? Could it be because Comcast had a monopoly over most of the city for years, with RCN covering a small portion, and Verizon Fios only coming to town after years of waiting and, more importantly, after Verizon has made it clear that it doesn’t much like providing Fios and could stop doing it at any time?

Posted in: broadband , competition , DC

My new favorite food

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The kids got me into hot sauce. It started with Taco Night. The Wife and I wanted to do more family dinners, where we all sat down and ate the same thing at the same time, as a family. Those of you with small children know this is sometimes no easy task. So The Wife started Taco Night. Lots of beans, some cheese, a bit of protein, and the kids are happy. But the kids like bland. A little cumin, maybe some salt and a pinch of pepper, and they’re good. The Wife and I, not so much.

Enter Cholula Original Hot Sauce. With Cholula, the kids could have their bland tacos, and The Wife and I could have something with a little kick, but she didn’t have to cook a second meal. It was a hit.

But hot sauce is like heroin or tattoos. You don’t just do a little bit and then stop. You want more. Soon I was dreaming of hot sauce. I was buying chipotle potato chips. Drenching my eggs in sriracha. Asking for my chicken over rice extra spicy from the multitude of kabob food trucks that descended on L'Enfant Plaza every day at lunch until DCRA folded under pressure from the restaurants and invented all sorts of silly regulations. And then I started making my own.

It’s surprisingly easy to make hot sauce. I highly recommend Hot Sauce! by Jennifer Trainer Thompson if you’re looking to start making your own. And also Freund Container for the bottles you’ll inevitably need.

So I made some sauces. Some were better than others. I tried a Carribean hot sauce from the book and didn’t like it at first, but it really, really grew on me. Now I want to put it on everything. But I wanted to make something that was my own, not just a recipe from the book. Here is my latest creation. It needs a name.

  • Five habaneros
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of vinegar
  • a small onion
  • 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, drained
  • turmeric, to taste
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of salt

Throw it all in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then simmer, uncovered, for about ten minutes. This should make about a cup and a half of deliciousness. The sweet, Jennifer Thompson tells me, delays the burn from the habaneros. I just ate a sweet potato burger that The Wife made with a generous glob of this hot sauce on it, and it was glorious. With a little planning, I could see myself bottling this stuff and selling it. It’s that good. Hot enough so you know you’re alive, but not so hot you wish you weren’t.

Posted in: food , hot sauce

What the heck is a sneckdown?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

“The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper,” says Clarence Eckerson Jr, the director of StreetFilms, which documents pedestrian- and cycle-friendly streets across the globe. He says that snow can be helpful in pointing out traffic patterns and changing street composition for the better.

“When you dump some snow on this giant grid of streets, now you can see, visually, how people can better use the streets,” he says.

Source

I love this idea, and it’s especially relevant today, as we’ve had a sizeable snow and then a lot of cold, so nothing is melting. So, a “sneckdown” is a spot on the road that is still covered in snow after the plows have gone through and cars have been using the streets. It’s a ridiculous name, I know, but it’s a cool concept. If you go out in DC right now you’ll see a ton of them. They’re places that we’ve reserved for cars that cars don’t really need. They’re places that can be given back to pedestrians. We can take these spaces and make them sidewalks so it’s easier and safer to cross the street. Or we can make them into bike lanes, or parks, or anything else that people might need.

There is one caveat - especially when it’s cold, much of the non-car traffic just isn’t big enough and hot enough to melt the snow. We have a lot of bike lanes in the city that DDOT has ingored and cyclists can’t use, so they remain covered in snow. This isn’t because there’s no demand. I was out biking today and nearly every other cyclist I saw was doing what I had to do - taking the lane right next to the bike lane because the bike lane was covered in a treacherous mix of ice and slush. The presence of a sneckdown is not incontrovertible proof that the space isn’t needed for its intended purpose. It’s just a good indication that we’re not allocating space efficiently.

Posted in: bikedc , safety , urban planning

It's not the DRM, it's the inconvenience

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

There’s not one word about digital rights management that keeps readers from moving their purchases to another hardware platform. Why would people forego their main e-book vendor if they lose everything they bought when they switch? What does DBW think those “walls” are built out of, papier-mâché?

-Teleread: Surprise! Most consumers buy e-books from a single retailer

I don’t quite agree with this. It is unsuprising that most people who buy ebooks buy them from one retailer. I buy all my ebooks from Kobo. And while I think DRM is a bad idea for numerous reasons, for both the buyer and the seller, it’s not the whole story here.

I am technically competent enough to get DRM-free ebooks of whatever I want. I could either download them for free from any number of sites, or purchase them and strip the DRM. I choose not to, mostly because I want to support content creators, and I would rather forgo the content than take it for free.

The reason I buy all my books from Kobo is that I have a Kobo ebook reader, and they store all my purchases so I don’t have to think about it. Could I get better prices and a bigger selection at Amazon? Probably. But when it comes to digital content, I just don’t trust Amazon, and I’m willing to pay a small premium to avoid them.

But to the point above - it’s not exactly the DRM that builds these walls. If I buy a book from Kobo, it just shows up on my reader. If I buy a book from Amazon, I’m not even sure what I have to do. I probably have to download the book then transfer it the reader. I might need special software from Amazon that likely doesn’t work on my Linux laptop. It’s a big hassle. Now, you could make the argument that, in the absence of DRM, this process could be just as easy for books bought anywhere as it is for books bought from Kobo, but I really doubt it would work out that way. Music has been DRM free for the most part for a while now, and as far as I know you can’t do one-click buys from your music player from other vendors.

Posted in: drm , ebooks

Google Glass Disconnect

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Surely you’ve seen stuff written about “Glassholes”, early Google Glass users who don’t deal well with those who are upset by Glass and the feeling that they’re always being watched. I’m sure there are people being ridiculous on both sides - some Glass users who should be more sensitive to those around them, and some non-users who immediately jump to the worst possible conclusions.

What people have to understand is that, first, stuff like Google Glass isn’t going away, no matter how many coffee shops ban them with snarky notes. And, more importantly, none of us have any idea what is going to come out of projects like this. In some cases, it’s going to be saved lives.

Patrick Jordan isn’t just a Google Glass Explorer; he’s a firefighter and a developer based in North Carolina. That combination is making for an impressive idea: Jordan is working on a Glass app that could help him and fellow firefighters save more lives. The software would provide instant heads-up information such as floor plans, locations of nearby hydrants and vehicle data.

Yes, the always-on cameras can be dangerous to privacy, and people need to keep that in mind and remember that being polite and respecting others doesn’t depend on the technology one is or isn’t using. But we’re still in the earliest stages of this technology, and we’re already getting glimpses of what it can do for society. There will be growing pains, but you can’t think any sort of bans are going to do anything meaningful in the long run. We have to figure out how things like Google Glass are going to fit into society.

Posted in: the future

Snow Day

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The kids are super excited for the snow today. They’re calling for 4-8 inches. These kids have really never had a good snow. They were either too young or not yet born for Snowmaggeddon and we’ve been setting records in the DC area over the last couple years for our lack of snow.

Unfortunately, The Wife and I both have work we have to do, even though OPM closed the federal government. And I have to get a bike ride in for Freezing Saddles.

Also, for the record, it is nearly 9AM and The Wife is still in bed. I’ve already been to the gym, made coffee, done some work, and fed the kids breakfast.

Posted in: kids , laziness , weather

Indian Cooking Classes in DC

Monday, January 20, 2014

I just backed a cool project on Kickstarter - Pansaari. The project is close to being funded, but is running out of time. It sounds pretty great.

A communal space offering food that is good for you. Sip chai, browse books, take a cooking class, buy spices, local produce, and more.

I’m especially interested in the cooking classes. As you may know, we’re mostly vegetarian here (though The Wife eats seafood and I eat pretty much anything, just not at home), and there are a ton of good vegetarian options in Indian cooking. Plus some spicy stuff. I’m on a big spicy kick these days.

Anyway, I hope they reach their goal.

Posted in: cooking , dc

Welcome Back to Me

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I finally moved the blog from an ancient version of Drupal to a nice new installation of Mynt. Still working on some things, but I hope to be back to regular blogging very soon. Like, this week.

Posted in: blogging

Maple Syrup Old Bay Biscuits

Thursday, December 20, 2012

So a little while back, The Wife made some Old Bay roasted potatoes to go along with pancakes. Delicious. And then I got a little potato in my maple syrup, and it was even better. I love the flavor contrast. Then I got this book, How to Cook Everything The Basics. It has a recipe for cheddar jalapeno biscuits that’s pretty awesome, though a bit too buttery. I made those biscuits, and got the idea to do maple syrup Old Bay biscuits. Maple Syrup Old Bay Biscuits After a good while, I finally found a basic biscuit recipe, subbed out some of the fat, and threw in some of my own ideas, and threw them in the oven. I love the result. Here’s the recipe.

Maple Syrup Old Bay Biscuits

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 8 tablespoons part skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup Preheat the oven to 450. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and Old Bay in a big bowl. Mix in the shortening and ricotta with a fork until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the maple syrup. Slowly pour in the milk while stirring, until it seems like dough. The recipe I followed says “until it pulls away from the bowl”, but what does that really mean? Roll it in flour a bit until it’s not sticky, then use a rolling pin to flatten it, about a half inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or something, then throw them on an ungreased pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they brown a bit, and you have some awesome little biscuits.
Posted in: cooking

I am the greatest chef in the world

Friday, May 06, 2011

Date night ingredients: beets and horseradish for the wife, molasses and summer squash for me. I did well, I think, but the wife knocked it out of the park. She made salmon with a horseradish cream sauce over roasted potatoes and beets. I modified this recipe and made Roasted Brussels Sprouts over Molasses Vinegar Squash Puree.

YAY_1507 Ingredients:

  • Summer squash (I used two good-sized yellow squash)
  • Two tablespoons butter
  • Package of fresh Brussels sprouts
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBSP molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil Directions: Chop the squash into one-inch-ish cubes. Melt the butter, mix in the rosemary, thyme, vinegar, and molasses. Put the squash in a bowl and cover it with the butter mixture. Chop the Brussels sprouts, lightly cover in olive oil and salt and pepper. On two separate cookie sheets, roast all the vegetables. I did them at 450 for about 20 minutes, mostly because that’s the temperature the wife wanted. Roasting vegetables is not an exact science, and there’s a broad range of “done” that you’ll be happy with, so make sure the vegetables aren’t too hard and don’t burn too much and you’ll be fine. Puree the squash and put it on a plate. Cover with Brussels sprouts and enjoy. I think this was a tiny bit too sweet - I think next time I’d put in a little more vinegar or a little less molasses. But it was quite delightful as it was.
Posted in: date night in

Contesting a DC parking ticket online

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh, what a glorious world we live in. I just contested a ridiculous parking ticket entirely online. I’m not sure how I got the ticket - I never actually saw a ticket on the car. I just got an email telling me that the fine was about to double. So I responded.

I never received the paper ticket - my first notification of this ticket was the email that the penalty was doubling. However, I did not commit the violation “STOP/STND IN AM RUSH”. Attached please find photos of the signs on both sides of the street. The ticket was issued on 3/29/2011, which you’ll note is a Tuesday. According to the signs, there are absolutely no rush hour restrictions on parking on the 1400 block of Harvard St NW on Tuesdays. So it is not possible that this ticket is valid.

I attached two pictures. North side parkingSouth side parking
I don’t know how I got the ticket. But I don’t think I’m paying it. I’ll let you know if the DMV agrees.

Posted in: dc , parking

Another date night, another success

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We had another date night tonight. The wife’s ingredients were rhubarb and garlic, so she cooked rhubarb salad with goat cheese. Except they didn’t have rhubarb at Whole Foods, so she subbed in apple. It worked. My ingredients were veggie chorizo sausage and phyllo dough (since we didn’t finish it from last time). I made Spicy Pigs in a Blanket with Lime Salsa. It was pretty good.

YAY_1430 Ingredients Pigs in a blanket

  • Phyllo dough
  • Veggie Chorizo
  • Granny Smith Apple
  • Tiny bit of olive oil
  • Cooking spray Salsa
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 lime
  • ½ can great northern beans
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • Largish pinch of salt Directions Chop the sausage and the apple into pretty small pieces and mix together. Double over the phyllo dough, sealing with olive oil. Cut into strips a couple inches wide. Put a bit of the apple/sausage mixture onto the dough and roll it up. Technique isn’t important here. Cook at 375 for 12 minutes or until the dough starts to brown. Chop and seed the tomatoes. Chop the pepper. Rinse the beans. Toss all into a bowl. Chop and add the cilantro, add the salt. Add most of the zest from the lime, as well as all the juice. Toss. That’s it. I served it all together, but each one stands up on its own if you’re so inclined. So, I’m pretty much the best cook ever. And I say that with all appropriate modesty.
Posted in: date night in

Date Night In

Thursday, April 21, 2011

For all you couples with kids, you know what I mean when I say it’s tough to get out for a date night. A lot of you busy with other stuff know what I’m talking about, too. So the wife and I have started doing Date Night In, inspired by watching Chopped on Food Network. We each pick two ingredients, and the other person must make a dish using them. We usually pick a day or two in advance so we can go shopping. We don’t have 1) the experience of the chefs on Chopped or 2) the extensive pantry. And we alternate - one week I do a salad or appetizer while she does the main, and the next week we switch. This is our third one. It was my most successful, though we haven’t had a bad one yet. My ingredients were bananas and goat cheese, and I was doing the salad/appetizer. Getting a little inspiration from this recipe, and a little imagination, I cooked up Banana Goat Cheese Rolls. Ingredients

  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 banana
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • filo/phyllo dough
  • A bit of olive oil
  • Goat cheese
  • A large pinch of salt Directions Saute the onion and jalapeno for five minutes or so until the onion starts getting translucent. Mash the banana in a bowl and mix in the apple cider vinegar and salt. Add this to the onions and turn down the heat. Let it thicken, five or ten minutes. Lay out a sheet of filo dough and spread a bit of olive oil around the edge of half of it, then fold it over. Cut it into four strips - they should be three or four inches wide. Put a spoonful of the onion/banana mixture at one end of the strip, then top with a spoonful of goat cheese. Roll the dough, folding the sides a bit so nothing comes out. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the rolls on the sheet. I used three sheets of dough, but it probably depends on how much you put in each. Put them in the oven at 375 until the dough starts to brown, probably 15-20 minutes. Let them cool a bit and enjoy! I’m pretty excited about how well they turned out. The banana was pretty strong, and the jalapeno a little weak, but the wife said she’d serve them to company. I think we’ll try that next time we have company. We might tweak the recipe a bit. I highly recommend watching Chopped if you want to be a better cook. Not that you’ll learn how to cook from watching, though you should pick up some tips, but that watching it makes me want to cook more, and makes me want to try new things that are a bit outside my comfort zone.
Posted in: date night in

Welcome to the world, Matilda

Monday, October 04, 2010

[JER_8270

](http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetejon/5021249127/)

At exactly 7:56AM Friday (9/24) morning, Matilda Sheehy Renaut was born at the DC Developing Families Center in Northeast.

I know I haven’t done much posting to this blog recently. Or, really, any. But I’ve been busy with other projects, and the now two kids, and all of that. I’d like to get back to blogging at some point, so I’m keeping this alive, but I make no promises.

Anyway, Matilda. Another great experience at the birth center. The wife’s labor was incredibly quick - first contraction was only about five hours before the baby was born.

I’m still getting used to the fact that I have two little girls. Matilda looks JUST like Adelina did at this age except for her chin. Adelina’s was a little more like mine. We’re curious if they’ll end up looking the same as they get older. My little brother and I could have been twins up to age one or so, and now look very different.

It’s very convenient to have another girl at the same time of year - she’ll be the same size as her sister in the same year/season, so we should be set for hand-me-down clothes.

I’m taking more time off work this time. I took all of last week and all of this week. I’ll go back after the Columbus Day holiday next Monday. It’s been cool to spend time with the family, and now we should be a little more settled in to the change before I have to go back to work and leave the wife alone at home.

And, in case you’re wondering, it’s still crazy, being a dad. And both of my girls are amazing.

Only in DC

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Saw this on our block of Harvard today. Fancy BMW 745, polished, heavy tint on the windows, Maryland tags, parked in front of a RPP Zone 1 Only sign. The sign, if you don’t click through to read, says, “POLICE - Official business”. I have no idea if this is a legitimate thing, or something the guy printed on his computer, but clearly parking enforcement decided to ticket him and let the DMV sort it out.

You wish you had my energy?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I was out jogging with the kid in the stroller on 16th Street near Varnum NW - near the top of a pretty long, steady ascent - and I overtook a group of kids coming from school. A kid who looked 13 or 14, though I have no idea these days, looked at me. “I wish I had your energy, sir.” He said. “Pushing that baby all the way up the hill”.

Another reason to hate Adobe

Monday, September 14, 2009

Does anyone know what I did that installed this Adobe DLM into Firefox 3.5.3 on Windows XP? I’m about to disable it, but I’d really like to know how the loathsome weasels at Adobe managed to cram it into my Firefox Add-ons without me noticing. Is it something automatic when I updated Adobe Reader? Did I not unclick a box that I should have unclicked?

Keeping me busy - ebooks and publishing

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I’ve got a lot going on these days. Work, the kid, family, finding time to spend with the wife - probably a lot like your life. But over the last few months I’ve added one more thing, and it’s getting close to becoming a reality. You may know that I was blogging over here for a while. It started out as an experiment to see where it would go, or to see if I liked blogging with a more professional tone. But the more I wrote about the ebook industry, the more I hated it. It started to feel like everyone was getting it wrong. $10 ebooks? Really? So I decided I had to do something about it, and the idea for Manfred Macx publishing was born. I’m hoping to launch the site in November. In brief, it will be a place where authors can come and get some help in getting their work out there, and giving fans an opportunity to support them. I will still complain here about DC parking enforcement (Have you seen the VW at 14th and Harvard that’s been parked there for 3 weeks? Why haven’t they towed it?) and various other things that need complaining about. It’s just going to be a bit lower on my priority list. But do check out Manfred Macx. At the very least, it will partially excuse my neglect of this blog.

Posted in: business , life , publishing , start-up

Comcast still doesn't have a clue

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fresh on the heels of my great experience with Verizon Wireless, Comcast provided a fantastic display of how bad they are at what they do. This is what happens when you have a localized monopoly. We’re supposed to get Verizon FIOS in three years, which is probably four plus years after we should have gotten it. I don’t know what sort of negotiations had to happen between DC and Verizon, but anything beyond, “Yes, Verizon, here’s your building permit” was probably not in the best interests of the DC residents. But that’s not the point here. The point here is that Comcast is terrible. Let’s look past the fact that they have to come out every 6-8 months and fix something because our signal strength has dropped to the point that our cable goes out. Never mind that they just keep inching the price up. No, my big complaint is the huckster who called me up this afternoon. He just caught me before I left to pick up the little gremlin from daycare. He starts off by telling me that Comcast has a great deal for me, only $10 more a month or something for Comcast Blast internet, which is super fast and awesome, and they’ll give me free Showtime, and boy are there some great shows coming out on Showtime, and if I sign up right now I can get some other fabulous prize, we can get you all upgraded within two business days, so can we set up an appointment right now? He didn’t take a breath or deviate from the script. By the halfway point, he could have offered me a couple of terabytes per second download speed for six cents a year and I would have turned him down. So, what did he do wrong that Verizon did right? He talked at me. I know, Verizon was lowering my bill, which is obviously much easier to sell, but that’s not really the point. The Comcast guy talked quickly, making sure he got everything out and asked me to sign up before I really had a chance to think about what his offer was. He didn’t really explain what the difference between what I have now and what he was offering. The Verizon guy actually had a conversation with me, clearly explaining what he was doing, how it would be different from what I had now (And he was looking at my account, so he knew what I was paying for), and why it would be better. When I told the Comcast guy I wasn’t interested, he tried to convince me. He asked why not. I stumbled for a minute, wanting to say, “Because you’re reading a script, and I hate being upsold”, but I didn’t really feel like getting into it. The Verizon guy knew my account, and knew how he could get me a better deal. The Comcast guy knew nothing about me beyond my name, and made me an offer that wasn’t terribly compelling. I hope Comcast is terrified of the arrival of Verizon FIOS. And I hope they deal with it by improving their service rather than lame attempts at upselling their customers. And Comcast? If you’re still reading and responding to unhappy blog posts about your service, make sure you read my post this time.

Posted in: cable , comcast , complaint , dc , harvardstreet

I still hate Sony

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sony has a new (I think) website up to promote their new ebook readers - Words Move Me. They ask people to sign up and share words that move them. Perhaps a favorite quote from a novel, or something like that. So I shared mine. For context, see this NY Times article.

Posted in: complaint , DRM , marketing , obnoxious

Best customer service ever - Thanks, Verizon Wireless

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I still can’t believe it. Our Verizon cell phone bill was $19 lower than last month. The guy who called me was actually telling the truth. Verizon actually called me and lowered my bill. Maybe other companies struggling through the economy these days could take a page out of Verizon’s book. Like Citigroup - instead of adding new fees, maybe try actually helping you customers. Credit cards, like cell phone companies, are largely interchangeable. It’s pretty simple for me to switch to AT&T; or to another credit card company. If Citi adds a fee to my card, I’ll close the card immediately. But now Verizon has actually given me a reason to stay with them. AT&T;, meanwhile, is forcing smart phone owners to buy a data plan in the name of better customer satisfaction. And I’ll probably spend more money with Verizon soon - when they have a phone with a data plan that meets my requirements, I’ll upgrade, and there’s another $30 a month or whatever it is. Anyway, thanks, Verizon. This is one of the coolest things a company has ever proactively done for me.

Contesting a parking ticket - my car is diplomatic

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I got a parking ticket the other day. Around the corner from us on 15th Street is the back of the Mexican Embassy. There is some parking there reserved from 7-4 weekdays for “Diplomatic cars”. We came home after 4, couldn’t find parking, and so we parked there. I meant to move the car, but I forgot. I am, of course, contesting the ticket.

To whom it may concern: I am writing to contest a parking ticket, citation #[unimportant], which I received on August 7th, 2009, for “DISOBYNG OFFICL SIGN”. The sign reads, “Diplomatic cars only” between 7AM and 4PM. Princeton’s online WordNet defines diplomacy as “subtly skillful handling of a situation” (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=diplomacy). It then follows that a diplomatic car would be one which displays or performs this skillful handling. As such, it is difficult to argue that my car, a 2006 Mazda 3, is not diplomatic. There are only two situations in which the car ever finds itself – parked or being driven. It takes no skill to remain parked, and therefore the definition easily applies to any car. And anyone who has ever driven a 2006 Mazda 3, especially the manual transmission, can attest that the car is very skillful. It handles very well, accelerates quickly, and gets good gas mileage. At no time does the parking sign mention the need for any sort of credentials identifying the car as diplomatic, nor does it require the owner of the car to possess credentials. Therefore, by the definition above, my car is in fact diplomatic, and not in violation of the parking restrictions. Thank you very much for your time. Me

The sign is vague. Who’s to say what “diplomatic” means? Unfortunately, in this case, it’s the soul-less, humor-less parking adjudicator who will decide. I can’t say I like my chances …

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , parking

Early night at Room 11

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It was unofficial baby night at Room 11 last night. We took the kid and met up with some friends who have a son in her daycare class. We went at 5, right when they opened, and sat outside on the porch. By the time we left around 7pm (The kid was well on her way to turning into a pumpkin), there were no less than a half dozen children under 2 on the porch. Most of the patrons, save one couple in the corner, found the children delightful. Our little monkey, for example, was making friends by pushing her chair around the porch after she finished eating. and flirting with the guys at the next table. I like Room 11. I should have written down what I drank. I had a Chilean carmenere that was really good. I had never heard of that grape before I tried the Montes Cab/Carmenere blend (A fantastic bottle, btw), then my mom bought me a bottle of Root: 1 (Another great bottle). And now it’s one of my favorite grapes. I also had a malbec that was good. They sell wine by the glass, starting at $6. Most of the glasses are $8-9. They have a very Belgian beer selection, which is not really my thing, but I think the beers are good for the many of you who do like Belgians. They had two beers on tap, also. I forget what they were, but I remember approving. We ate a meat plate and a cheese plate, both good, and the wife and I split a cheese panini which was pleasant. The service was good. Our waiter was friendly and easy-going and pretty attentive. He made some good suggestions on the meats and cheeses, since I’d never heard of most of it, and couldn’t pronounce any of it. The porch had a very “neighborhood” feel to it. A self-selected, limited slice of the neighborhood, but still a neighborhood. The couple we were with brought their dog, and he waited outside the fence until we finished. At least three or four people stopped to pet him as they walked down Lamont Street. It’s a pleasantly busy intersection - enough traffic to be interesting to watch, but not enough to disturb the atmosphere. So, go check it out. We’ll definitely be back.

I'm a guest at Vinotrip again

Friday, August 14, 2009

I have another guest post at Vinotrip that I almost forgot to mention. If you’re interesting in reading about our trip through Maryland wine country, click on through.

Posted in: wine

Restaurant review - The Uptowner

Friday, August 07, 2009

I’m always a little uncomfortable calling a place without any tables to speak of a “restaurant”, but that’s not the point, here. I got lunch from the Uptowner, the new sandwich place just north of Columbia Heights Metro. I got a club wrap and a bag of BBQ soy chips. It was kind of expensive - about $9 - but the food was good. They have some vegetarian options, which is rare, and the guy behind the counter was quite pleasant. The layout is a little funny - you order in one room, and go next door to pick it up. I didn’t immediately see next door, and was worried that the sandwiches were going to be pre-wrapped and shipped from somewhere, but they’re made fresh next door. Anyway, I’ll go back at some point. I apologize to Julia’s Empanadas, where I planned to go, but the construction makes it very difficult to actually get to Julia’s. Maybe next time.

Columbia Heights is nothing but hipsters?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This Washington Post article has been pissing off tons of locals. It basically says that everyone in Columbia Heights sucks, we spend all our time at Target, and we’re smug because we don’t live in Mount Pleasant. I’ve been wanting to post something about it, but no matter how many times I read the article, I just can’t seem to get that worked up over it. I mean, I do go to Target a lot. I like Target. It’s a great place to buy cheap clothes for the kid, kitty litter, veggie burgers, box wine … But I guess the article doesn’t quite hit that close to home. I have been accused of being smug about where I live, but that was in relation to Ballston. I’m glad I don’t live in Ballston - not that it’s a bad place to live, it’s just not what we were looking for. And Mount Pleasant? I like Mount Pleasant. When we outgrow our place, that’s probably the first place we’re going to look. And Wonderland references are lost on me - I’ve been maybe a half dozen times, it’s a cool bar, but it’s not my hangout. We’re much more likely to sit out on the porch at Commonwealth and drink Twisted Thistles and order a cheese plate. The article was a little annoying, I admit. It took a small group of Columbia Heights residents and made sweeping generalizations about everyone here. It didn’t really offer any insight, and I don’t think it got the generalizations right. But I just don’t care. If the article had been about the roads around Target, that would have been a different story - whoever thought the traffic patterns around DCUSA could hold up to the volume of cars and pedestrians there are now was totally insane.

So you wanna be my friend

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are you on Facebook? If not, none of this will make sense. Anyway, it really irks me when someone sends me a friend request and then never says anything to me. I mean, it’s not necessary to write 5000 words to tell me how you’re doing or ask about my life or whatever, but a little something to say I’m not just a notch on your friend count belt is appreciated. This is the sort of Facebook app we really need. No more stupid quizzes and games - I want a friend filter app. It only permits your updates to show on my wall if you and I have had a conversation using Facebook. It can be via status message comments, wall postings, private messages, whatever, but it has to occur before I see you in my news feed. Another option is a badge for your profile that shows what percentage of your friends you’ve had a conversation with in the last month. Then a filter by percentage - if you’re percentage is below, say, 50%, you get blocked from my news feed. So, if you’re a company out there looking to make a Facebook app to help build your brand, don’t try to make one that does whatever your website does, only Facebookier. It will suck. Make one that’s actually useful, and slap your logo on it.

What on Earth is going on?

Monday, July 13, 2009

I’ve been sitting here trying to think how this could be a scam, and I don’t think it can be. Verizon Wireless just called me, offering a plan review. I was skeptical, but figured I might as well listen. He told me that they could drop 150 minutes from each phone on our plan, and save us $10 a month. We don’t use all our minutes, so that was fine. It doesn’t renew our contract, it doesn’t give us fewer text messages, it doesn’t change anything. Just fewer minutes, cheaper plan. And the guy was obviously from Verizon, because he knew what my plan was, could see my usage, and didn’t ask me for any information. Has this happened to anyone else? I think I’m still in shock. Unless I’m missing something, this was just fantastic, proactive customer service from Verizon. And our contract is up - we can jump to another carrier whenever we want. I assume that’s why they called. Maybe the competition is finally strong enough that it makes sense to go after current customers instead of just trying for new ones. Anyway, this sure makes me more inclined to stick with them while I wait for them to jump on the Google Android bandwagon.

Get this stupid song out of my head

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Since I can’t get it out of my head after inexplicably hearing it coming out of a car window on 16th Street this morning, I’d like to get The Freshman by The Verve Pipe into your head, too. That link up there? It’s the first hit for ‘annoying song freshmen’, although Google thinks I meant “freshman”. I guess I sort of did, but isn’t the word plural in the chorus? Sing it to yourself, you’ll remember. And now you feel my pain.

Posted in: complaint , music

The boot doesn't work

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The ridiculous practice of “booting” cars with too many tickets has to stop. Either tow them or let them be. Today is street cleaning day on the main parking side of our block of Harvard. That means that there is no parking at all from 7am to 630pm. This is because Harvard is a pretty busy commuting cut-through, and it’s really helpful to have two lanes. But there aren’t two lanes today, because someone decided to boot a van on the open side of the street. I truly don’t understand the logic behind this. You are now making traffic worse. Other times people get courtesy tows, an absurd waste of time and money, but we can’t tow the van to the impound lot? I’ve said before that booting is an explicit admission that parking restrictions in DC are purely for the city’s financial gain, not an attempt to keep traffic flowing. This is absolutely infuriating. And, to make matters worse, another car, as I walked by this morning, had decided that if the van was parked there, it must be okay. And the really funny thing is that this car is likely to get towed. Ahh, DC. How I love you.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , parking

What is going on with public transportation in this city?

Monday, June 29, 2009

What in the world is wrong with the buses these days? Are people afraid of the Metro after the crash? It’s been one awful commute after another for the last week and a half. This morning, two buses passed without picking up passengers. The one we finally got on didn’t pick anyone up until U Street, passing crowded stop after crowded stop. And on the way home, I don’t even know what happened. I Street was a parking lot, so the bus actually turned right on 15th instead of 16th. I saw this, started walking, and actually beat the bus to 16th and L. It turned left on K, right on 16th, and I was at 16th and L when it arrived, and while I walk briskly, I never ran. It looked like something was blocking traffic on 17th - I imagine I could figure out what with a little Googling, but it’s not that important to me. On most weeks, I would just give up and work from home all week. But I actually have to be in the office at least tomorrow, and probably Wednesday, as well. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

The Mayor's Conservation Corps and the DDOE are very responsive

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Below is a copy of the email I sent to the Mayor’s Conservation Corps. You may have seen their flyers - they put them up on railings and doorknobs on our street today.

While I applaud the mayor and the DDOE for their efforts towards conservation and a more sustainable city, littering our streets with paper advertisements hardly seems like the way to start. I live on the 1400 block of Harvard St NW, and I just picked up two of your flyers off the sidewalk during a three block walk. Perhaps your first project could be to collect and recycle all of the trash you left on our streets.

If you have suggestions for projects or questions about the program, they’d like you to email them at mayorsconservationcorps@dc.gov or call 202-535-2325. And, before I could even finish this post, I received a reply from DDOE.

Good evening. Thanks for your note. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. We will make certain the responsible youth go back to that area tomorrow and clean-up door hangers from the street. My apologies for the inconvenience. Should the problem not be resolved or if you have any questions, please contact me at [Phone number removed]. Thank you. Melissa McKnight Program Director, Mayor’s Conservation Corps DC Department of the Environment

Who says city bureaucracy doesn’t work? My faith in government temporarily restored, I urge everyone to think about projects that could help the city. You can look at the Green DC Agenda website for more information.

My family is okay, I hope yours is, too

Monday, June 22, 2009

I don’t think I know anyone who was on one of the DC Metro trains that crashed today - certainly the wife and kid and I were nowhere near it, and I’ve already spoken to the two people I know who might have been near that station. I hope your family and friends are all okay, too.

Posted in: accident , dc , harvardstreet , metro , wmata

A former coworker

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quite some time ago, in trying to explain why I complain so much, I paraphrased a quote from a former coworker into this comma-laden mess.

A friend at work a few years ago, defending me to someone else, said that, while I complain a lot, it isn’t quite complaining. It’s really just making conversation.

I lost touch with her not long after we stopped working together. Last I saw her was a chance encounter at CVS in Arlington before I moved into DC. I got an email today from a former coworker of ours telling me that she died a few weeks ago from a brain tumor. I’m not sure exactly how old she was, but it wasn’t more than mid-thirties. We weren’t close at work, but friendly. I have her phone number stored in my cell phone, although I don’t think I ever called her. And I maybe had a bit of a crush on her for a while. It’s strange - I probably never would have seen her again anyway, save another chance meeting. So I won’t miss her, exactly, but I think I will miss knowing that there was that chance.

Now I can die happy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Originally uploaded by thetejon

The concert was, and I don’t hesitate to use this word, amazing. The openers, Street Sweeper Social Club, featuring Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, were cool. They put on a good show. If I still ever listened to music, I would think about buying their new album next week. We did not stay for Jane’s Addiction, so I can’t say anything about them. When we arrived, having bought presale tickets through NIN.com, we found that not only were we not on the grass, but we were actually on the floor, right in front of the stage. Now, my friend and I are not really the type (Or the age, I guess) to crowd up front, but I could have held a conversation with Trent at a more or less normal volume from the distance we were away. Not with the crowd there, sure, but that’s an idea of the how close we were. By the way, note to other bands - this is how to treat your fans. Presale tickets just required that you sign up at the website. When we arrived, there was a longish line to get in, and a short line to get presale tickets at will-call. I handed them my id, they gave me my tickets. They had my name printed on them. We went straight over to the presale entrance line, where they checked id again. So we couldn’t possibly have scalped them, even if we had wanted to, and we barely had to stand in line. Plus we got awesome seats. Do you notice how this makes you money, makes your fans happy, and works perfectly with or without the horrors of music piracy? And then Nine Inch Nails came on. This is a text I sent the wife:

This is [expletive deleted] awesome. I’m getting goosebumps every time they start a new song

They played a great variety of stuff. They played the song from The Crow soundtrack, which was surprising. They played “Gave Up”, one of my favorite not-as-well-known songs off 1992’s Broken. They closed with “Head Like A Hole” and encored with “Hurt”, much to the delight of the crowd. For most of the concert, I was just standing there, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here listening to Nine Inch Nails live”. I’m looking forward to telling the kid someday how I left her with the wife to go see them. “Dad, you’re old”, she’ll probably say. But that’s okay.

Nine Inch Nails Setlist Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD, NIN|JA 2009

Edit this setlist | More Nine Inch Nails setlists

Our first sale, sort of

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Our honeymoon registry website recorded its first transaction today for a person we don’t know. The registry for our first customers has done well, but we know them. Well, I don’t, but the other guy who built most of the website knows them. Today was the first time someone we don’t know had something purchased from their registry. For the record, it was $100 towards “A visit to Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most famous temple, located on a hill overlooking the city”. Chiang Mai, for those that don’t know (I had to Google it) is a city in northern Thailand. It’s pretty exciting. The website we built because it seemed like a cool idea is actually getting some use. Not a lot, yet, but some. So, remember, if you need a free custom honeymoon registry, you know where to go.

The new buses suck

Thursday, June 04, 2009

You’ve probably seen the fancy new buses the city is using for some of the cooler routes - the new S9 express bus on 16th Street, for example. I was all excited to ride one. They look fancy and clean and new and quiet. I got my chance today. The regular S2 was a new bus this morning, so I gleefully hopped on. Wow, do the new buses suck. Not only is it clear that the person who designed the bus has never ridden a bus before, but I’m pretty sure they actually defy various laws of physics. I don’t think these buses are very different in length, width, or height from the older buses, but they’ve somehow managed to drastically reduce the amount of usable space. Both styles of bus are basically rectangular prisms - volume equals length times width times height. So if the length, width, and height are approximately the same, the volume is approximately the same. I’m not sure where the volume went on the new buses. Perhaps they’ve somehow raised it up - there seems to be enough head room for an entire basketball team, but they better be built like Kevin Garnett, not Lebron. And don’t get me started on the painted yellow floor by the back door. It actually tells you not to stand on it. Are they insane? I mean, sure, it would be nice if no one stood there - most bus crowding problems are due to inconsiderate and clueless people who stand by the door and block everyone else from moving to the back of the bus. But who is going to obey the painted floor? The bus driver will yell at you if you leave that much space open during crowded commuting time. The other people on the bus will yell at you because they’re packed in like sardines while you leave that space open. You do have to leave some space, though, because the idiotic back doors open in. I’m going to go email WMATA right now and complain. I suggest you do the same.

What a kick in the teeth

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Just as he pronounced himself, “ready to pitch in the majors again”, the Braves released Tom Glavine. Now, I understand that this is their right, and the guy is 43 years old. But he won 20 games for the Braves five times. For the vast majority of baseball fans today, it doesn’t get much more “Braves” than Tom Glavine. I don’t know if there was a good reason for doing it this way - waiting until he worked his way back into shape doing rehab in the minors - but it sure comes across to the fans as a terrible way to treat a guy who has been really important to your franchise since 1987, save the few years he spent as a Met. I’d love to see him come to Baltimore. Or Washington - I’d definitely find a babysitter for an evening if I could go see Glavine pitch. As an aside, some awesomeness from the article:

Glavine described himself as “very surprised” in a text message to The Associated Press.

The idea of a 43 year old man texting the AP is almost surreal. I hope he used an emoticon or two.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , not cool

Thanks, Trent

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I think I posted a while back that I’m going to see Nine Inch Nails next week. I’ve been a fan ever since I saw the video for Head Like a Hole on MTV a million years ago, but I’ve never been to a show. This is their last tour “for a while”, which maybe means forever, so I just bought tickets. I just found out today that Jane’s Addiction, the worst band in the history of the Universe, is actually going on after Nine Inch Nails. This is the best news ever. Now, I don’t know if there are Jane’s Addiction songs that don’t suck - the only ones I know are the few that got on the radio back when I was actually listening to the radio. But the ones I know are truly and amazingly awful. Sorry if you’re a fan, but that just means you have bad taste in music. It’s really your fault. In any event, I’m pretty excited.

Posted in: Anti complaint , awesome , music

At what point is it okay to cry?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crying is acceptable for men in certain situations. Certainly during Field of Dreams. Insulting a man for crying when Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad is actually a valid legal defense for murder in 29 states. But what about spilling a beer? I maintain that if that said beer is a Bell’s Two Hearted, and if it’s Sunday after 8pm so you can’t buy any more, crying is totally acceptable. The wife disagrees, but it wasn’t her beer. Fortunately, I didn’t spill it. I told her I almost did, and that I would have cried. She said she would have called me the “P” word. I’m not sure where to draw the line, though. If it were just a regular ale? What if it had spilled on my computer (Which it probably would have)? What if it were my work computer? Does the amount of beer (1/3 bottle, in this case) make a difference? How many left in the house (At that point just one more with my name on it)?

Posted in: beer , bellsbeer , crying , judging , manliness

Move over, Sean, we've got a new jouster

Sunday, May 31, 2009

This one happened across the pond, not in DC, but this story is nearly as good as our local hero who beat DC parking enforcement. They decided to change some parking rules in (near?) London. To do this, they paint double lines on the street right next to the curb. This is in stark contrast to the ridiculous signs they put up here in DC, or sometimes the total lack of markings, requiring you to just know that you can’t park within five feet of an alley. So this woman’s car was parked legally before the unpublicized change to the rules. After the change, she would be illegal. So what did they do? They lifted her car off the ground, painted the lines, and put the car back down. Parking enforcement then came by and towed her for parking illegally. The article linked above has an awesome picture. She eventually got her MP involved and was refunded the 2400 pound fine (I think the exchange rate is better now than it was last time I was over there, but that’s still nearly $4000). By the way, Express, feel free to quote me again, but try to get it right this time.

Adam Dunn owes me big

Monday, May 25, 2009

I’ve been to three Nationals games this year. I went to the home opener against the Phillies, I went to see the Cardinals in my second failed attempt to watch Albert Pujols, and I went to the Orioles game because I’m actually a fan of the Orioles, despite Peter Angelos' attempts to the contrary. I just realized that Adam Dunn might wish I came around more often. Not only are the Nats 2-1 in those three games, but Dunn is hitting .455 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. His OPS is 2.175. Small sample size, sure, but I have yet to see him play a game in which he does not hit a home run, and he hit two against the Orioles, one a game-winning grand slam. If only I were a Nationals fan.

Posted in: baseball , dc , good luck charm

Doing a little gardening

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Up until this afternoon, it could have been argued that I lived in a dentist’s office. The front yard, such as it is, was clearly designed by someone who didn’t want to offend anyone. Unfortunately for him, I was offended. What are those grass-bush-things? They’re ugly. Especially after they got a little brown over the winter, and then they started growing again this spring. They looked terrible. I’ve been saying I wanted to replace them with something else pretty much since we moved in over two years ago. Today, I put my sweat where my mouth is. The wife, the kid, and I went to Garden District and got plants and mulch and a little spade. They were quite helpful there.


Originally uploaded by thetejon

We picked out a rose bush, some blue flowers, another bush that should flower late in the summer, and some marigolds. I don’t remember all the details, but I know I had a marigold garden when I was about four years old. I’m sure I did most of the upkeep work. In my opinion, clearly unbiased, it looks amazing. We’ll have to wait and see if anyone else in the building acknowledges my genius. One already told me it looked good, but he ran into me while I was cleaning up, so he pretty much had to say nice things. It remains to be seen if anyone else will do it unprompted. Luckily for me, a much improved garden is its own reward.

My kid is way cuter than that

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I found out today that Parents.com is having a contest to get your cute kid on the cover of their magazine. No offense to little Trevor, Cover Model 2008, but my little clownfish is a bazillion times cuter. We have no plans this weekend beyond her first baseball game (Orioles at Nationals on Sunday). So I’m planning to take some really cute pictures. What I need from you, readers (All of you who are still paying attention after the lack of updates these recent months), is suggestions on cutening up my daughter. She’s already off-the-charts cute, but I need more. I need photos of her that will literally make your eyeballs melt with cuteness. Like a puppy raised to the kitten power. I want to make Anne Geddes' babies look like little gargoyles. How do I do that? Any suggestions are welcome. She’s a very smiley baby, so that isn’t an issue. What makes a cute baby photo?

Has Columbia Heights turned a corner?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The wife and kid and I went to D'Vines yesterday to get beer for the Celtics game (Probably should have gotten more considering the end result). Out in front of the Columbia Heights Metro were beggars from Greenpeace! While avoiding eye contact as much as possible, the wife and I were secretly thrilled that these organized panhandlers had branched out from the fancy spots like the P St Whole Foods to come to our neighborhood. Of course, now I’d like them to go away. I don’t like being accosted for my wallet every time I go near DCUSA.

Do you need a free custom honeymoon registry?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

When I got married, we had a honeymoon registry. We had both been living on our own for a while, and then together for a bit, and so we had a lot of the things that people typically put on a wedding registry. It was fantastic for us - because so much of the honeymoon was paid for, we felt free to splurge a bit on things like a helicopter tour of the Twelve Apostles and mass quantities of wine in downtown Melbourne. A friend and his wife did the same thing for their wedding. It was easy for us because both of us are software guys, and know how to build a website. It may not be easy for you. That’s why he and I created After the I Dos. It’s a totally free (except for Paypal fees) honeymoon registry site. You can set up a registry and let your guests help finance your honeymoon. I mean, do you really need another set of towels? Wouldn’t you rather let your guests help pay for your skydiving adventure, wine tour, resort, or whatever you plan on doing for your honeymoon? All you need is a few minutes to set it up and a (free) Paypal account. You’ll get a website you can send out to your guests, and you can even show links to your other registry sites, or maybe your wedding site at The Knot or whatever. An added benefit is ease of thank-you notes. All you need to do is take a picture of you and your spouse doing whatever it is the person helped pay for, print a copy for 12 cents at Target, and write a quick note about how much fun you had. No more making excuses for why you haven’t used that expensive food processor that Aunt Greta bought you.

Guest post - Baltimore sucks, too

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I do a lot of complaining here about the DC government. Turns out Baltimore has its share of problems, too. Here for your reading pleasure is a guest post from Gary at Vinotrip. Baltimore has a lot of problems. What big city doesn’t? I’ve lived in or around the city for most of my life and, as most Baltimoreans do, I give the city a pass on the problems that it faces. Sure, some things are nuts and don’t make sense, but it’s a good town. Two weeks ago, City Councilman Edward L. Reisinger (who represents me and my district) sponsored a bill to raise off-leash fines for dog owners from $100 to $1000. To little fanfare, the bill passed. Along with the good men and women of the Baltimore Police Department, Animal Control swept down on Riverside Park and started handing out $1000 fines. Needless to say, everyone is bitter. Smart move, Ed. Pass a ten-fold increase in fines targeted at dog owners in your district, then hold a neighborhood meeting about it. I get that dogs have pretty much taken over Riverside Park and if you are afraid of dogs, God help you because you’re going to fear for your life in this neighborhood. There is a leash law in the park, and that leash law should be enforced along with the law about picking up after your dog. Got all that. But the problem is sending several police officers and Animal Control officials to the park for days at a time. In Baltimore City where we probably have more important things to do besides extort taxpayers in a park. Well, city officials, your free pass is over. My self imposed gag-order on bitching about Baltimore has been lifted. Early last week, on Tuesday April 28th, a water main ruptured underneath a major downtown street. Water poured out, shut down streets during morning rush hour, closed businesses, and pretty much ruined the day for lots of people. They still haven’t gotten it fixed. Finally today, an entire week after the main broke, the city got up a sign on the major freeway heading into downtown regarding the major crosstown street shut down. For a full week, people rolling into the city found out the hard way that Lombard Street was still closed. The city can’t fix it. The city can’t put up a sign about it. The city can only bitch and moan and pander for Federal stimulus dollars. The best part is the quote from Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon at a press conference

“This is an example of what happens when you having a very aging infrastructure system,” Dixon told reporters.

You. Are. The. MAYOR. Don’t tell me we have a problem. I know we have a problem. GO FIX THE PROBLEM. Were I Dixon’s speechwriter, her news bite would have sounded something more like

“This is an example of what happens when you having a very aging infrastructure system,” Dixon told reporters. “But things aren’t all bad. We have a per capita murder rate so bad that if we had New York City’s population, there would be over 4,000 murders per year. Property taxes are 2.2% but we still can’t get water mains to stop exploding underneath downtown. We couldn’t even describe what a fully funded school looks like. Half the homes in low-income neighborhoods are boarded up and vacant. We send out Traffic Officials to stand under the traffic lights and direct traffic like we’re in North Korea. As your mayor, I’m riding around in a hybrid taxi trying to smile while being indicted for fraud But don’t worry everyone, we have that Riverside Park dog problem handled. I am on top of the dog issue. I’m sending more units down there as we speak.

It’s enough to make you cry. For all the problems going on, we get $1000 tickets dished out for having a dog off-leash. Maybe they can put that money toward fencing off a dog park, or the schools, or more police, or the water mains, or the traffic light timing…

Pedestrians should know their place

Monday, April 27, 2009

Have you ever been driving down 17th Street NW, getting ready to turn right on E to head out to Virginia, when some guy in an ill-fitting suit talking on his cell phone jogs across the street against the light? Have you ever given him a look and thrown up your hands in frustration? Has he ever had the audacity to flip you off in return? This didn’t happen to me this afternoon just after five, in case you’re wondering. I pride myself on paying attention to pedestrians and right-of-way. I know, what do I want, a cookie? But really, many, many people in this city, especially Maryland drivers (You know who you are) pretend that pedestrians don’t exist, and crosswalks are merely warnings before stop signs or red lights to run. So when I’m treated like this by pedestrians who think they are much, much more important than they really are, it bothers me. When you have the right of way, I’ll gladly wait. But when I have the right of way, I expect you to be on the sidewalk where you belong.

The Opposite of Community

Monday, April 27, 2009

Internet forums are often wonderful. They can take a group of people who are spread across the globe, joined only by a common interest, and bring them together to talk and make friends. Or they can be terrible. You can have something like the Columbia Heights Community Forum, which takes people with common interests who are already co-located in one DC neighborhood, and drives them apart. At least someone notices my struggles with the forum. It’s really an unbelievable amount of hate and rage and incoherent ranting. Some go around pushing buttons, and others simply wait to have their buttons pushed so they can scream about it. It’s really too bad that something that could be a positive force in the community is actually driving people apart. Although, like a train wreck, I just can’t look away. I can’t even stop posting there.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , hatred

eBay is Dangerous

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The wife has been going a little crazy on eBay lately. If she was spending more than $5 at a time, I’d probably intervene, but she’s just buying clothes for our daughter, and she’s barely spending anything, so I figure it’s not a problem. I’ll be keeping an eye on her, though. Whenever someone mentions eBay, I invariably get an urge to buy something, because you can buy pretty much anything there. And every time I look at eBay, I end up searching for a nice Triumph TR6 in good condition for a reasonable price. I’m going to own one someday. I’m going to get some money together, buy one, get a one-way plane ticket to wherever it is, and drive it home. It will be glorious. I’ll do it when the weather’s nice so I don’t have to put the top up.

How I love the English language

Monday, March 30, 2009

I was reading this movie review, and had no idea who Harold Faltermeyer was. So, I did what any normal person would do, and Googled him. His wikipedia page offers up a serving of the English language that just made my day.

[The theme from Top Gun and the theme from Beverly Hills Cop are] both often imitated, highly influential instrumental hits that to some extent practically redefined action film scoring in the ‘80s

Read that fragment a few times and just bask in its glory.

Posted in: Anti complaint , language

Compare and Contrast

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Original

Had I known her husband was a giant among those of us who joust at the windmills of parking enforcement, I would have bought her a beer. (Source)

“Quoted”

Had I known her husband was a giant among us who jousts at the windmills of parking enforcement, I would have bought her a beer. (Source)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but when one quotes another source, one generally doesn’t edit the quote to change the meaning, right? I mean, I didn’t study journalism in school, so I might be crazy here, but I always thought you were supposed to write exactly what the other person wrote or said, unless you make it clear that you’ve changed the wording. And even then, you change the wording either to clarify the context or to fit in the allowed space. You don’t change the meaning of the quote. Also, the wife maintains that “tilt” is generally used instead of “joust” when making that particular reference. She also feels that the analogy is slightly flawed - parking enforcement is an actual enemy, so to speak, unlike the windmills. We had a nice discussion about it, and we decided that she should just let me handle the references to classical literature. At least, that’s what I came away with. And she doesn’t have a blog, so that makes me right.

This man is my hero

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here is a story of a man who beat the DC parking enforcement machine.

“Even when there were shootings on my block last year, I wasn’t this disappointed in my city,” he wrote in one protest email. “D.C. effectively stole my automobile.”

After the city gave him a “courtesy tow” to an illegal parking spot, lost his ticket contestation documents, and booted and towed his car, he actually got them to return the car to a spot near his house. Then he had them do it again, because the first time they brought him the wrong car. I talk a lot about my small victories over DC parking enforcement, but this puts me to shame. I had lunch with his wife on Friday - she works with my wife, and a group was going out to watch some basketball, so I joined them. Had I known her husband was a giant among those of us who joust at the windmills of parking enforcement, I would have bought her a beer.

Why don't I listen to many female artists?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Where Are The Women, Esquire?

Not good enough, Esquire. So what are you really saying with this list? Either, that women aren’t making much of anything you deem essential, or that men can’t handle music written and/or performed by women.

Sarah totally ripped off my Facebook comment for that sentence. This got me thinking. I don’t listen to a lot of female artists, and I’m not sure why. I like Garbage a lot, and any music collection should contain Version 2.0. The wife is a big fan of Alanis Morissette’s Under Rug Swept. I had only heard her one big hit record, and if that’s all you’ve heard, try this one, it’s like it’s by someone else. You know, someone talented. And there are some other female artists who are pretty good, but I just don’t listen to them. It’s partly because I feel like a traitor to my beliefs every time I think about giving money to a record company. I haven’t bought a cd outside of Nine Inch Nails in at least two years. I thought about buying a Jill Sobule cd because of how awesome what she did with her last cd was, but I’ve never knowingly heard a song by her, so I didn’t buy the cd. Anyway, if you know a female artist that I absolutely have to hear, let me know in the comments. Whichever sales pitch is best, I will buy that cd. Unless the wife owns it. Bonus points if I can legally obtain the music for free while paying money from something that I can’t copy instantly and perfectly. Update to add: I downloaded the four songs Jill Sobule is currently sharing and will listen to them tomorrow at work. Update again to add: Meh to Jill Sobule. I didn’t like the songs. I still think she’s cool for her business model, though.

Posted in: music

Street cleaning resumes March 23, 2009

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

For whatever reason, it’s never easy to find this information, so maybe I got lucky. I have no idea if this link will work beyond today, but the Washington DC DPW says street cleaning will resume on March 23, 2009. So get ready to start moving your car once a week again.

Posted in: dc , harvardstreet , parking

This is why I live close to work, Part 2

Monday, March 02, 2009

A friend once told me that, when considering two more or less equal candidates for a job opening, you should choose the one with a better commute. Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Today my commute involved tiptoeing past my daughter’s room, hoping not to wake her, and sitting down at the table to get to work. There’s, like, a blizzard, or something, going on out there. I have no meetings, and no one is really expecting me in the office, so I’m staying put. Daycare is opening three hours late, and since the snow is still coming down hard, they may not open at all. So I may have to watch her this afternoon anyway. If you’re going in to work today, or going out anywhere, be careful.

The system is down. Er, was down.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Usually reliable Dreamhost had a file server go down on them, knocking this site offline pretty much all day today. Good thing the only people reading here on Sunday are crazy Vector Security haters and people unhappy with their credit card.

Posted in: complaint

Isn't that what you're supposed to be fixing?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Metro Use A Rarity For Half Of Board | WashingtonPost.com

[Ward One Councilman Jim] Graham said frequent night meetings make mass transit inconvenient.

Taking transit is not convenient for their jobs, [Metro board members who don’t actually use Metro] said.

So, what they’re saying here is, “We’re so grossly incompetent that we can’t even make Metro work for ourselves. Good luck to all you poor schlubs!” What kind of schedule do these people keep that Metro isn’t convenient? I don’t believe that they have Metro board meetings at 4AM on Sundays. Seriously, this is like the CEO of Bank of America keeping his life savings under his mattress because the branches are too inconvenient. Maybe the reason that Metro has a $29 million deficit is because it’s not serving the residents of the DC Metro area. And maybe the people responsible for fixing it could actually use it and see for themselves what the problems are. Instead, they’ll probably just raise fares again, making it less convenient for everyone. Next year we’ll have a $40 million deficit, and more people who don’t use it will make more bad decisions.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , metro , wmata

I can always tell when Wikimetro sends out a new batch of spam

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whenever I see the traffic to this page and this page quadruple, I know that Wikimetro has sent out another batch of spam to various bloggers, pitching their scam. If Wikimetro contacts you, ignore them. Or, better yet, file a complaint. I was thinking of complaining here, but never got around to it. I don’t think the FBI appreciates online scams very much.

Posted in: blogging , complaint , scam

It annoys the you-know-what out of me, too, Bud

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bud Selig is a dirty, dirty liar.

“I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” Selig told Newsday in a Monday phone interview. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism. "The reason I’m so frustrated is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we’ve come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible,” he said, adding, “I honestly don’t know how anyone could have done more than we’ve already done.”

“It’s like this morning,” he continued. “I pushed this old lady down some stairs. I suppose you’re going to blame me for that, too? How was I supposed to know about gravity?” It’s too bad that every statistic for every player between about 1990 and whenever they manage to institute a real drug policy will always have a cloud over it.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , steroids

Please stop bunching the 16th Street bus, WMATA

Friday, February 13, 2009

I just missed the bus this morning. As usual, I was waiting for the interminable light to cross 16th at Harvard NW when the bus went by. Then another, and another. Three buses, bumper to bumper, and all gone by the time the light changed. So I waited. Not too long, six or seven minutes, but then three more came. From Harvard to Euclid there were 12 people on my bus, then 11 until we got to M. After I got off at H, I think there might have been one person left. No one got on while I was riding. There was another bus right in front of us that picked up all the passengers. And I got on the bus at about 7:20AM, not peak rush hour, but plenty of people are on their way to work at that time. It’s frustrating that, had the buses been spaced out just a little bit, I would have gotten one of the first bunch that went through. And WMATA would have saved some cash. Eleven fares probably don’t even cover costs on the bus.

Finally someone on the home team to cheer for

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Nationals signed Adam Dunn! I’m so excited that there will actually be a player on the home team that I want to see. Usually I go to games to see the visiting team, but this year will be different. I mean, I’m still mostly looking forward to finally seeing Albert Pujols and maybe getting tickets when the Orioles come to town. But watching Dunn will be pretty cool.

Posted in: baseball , dc , harvardstreet

Let me raise the level of discourse here

Monday, February 09, 2009

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I don’t know about you, but LOLCats are one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t know why I still find them funny, but I do. I can stop any time, really. This one is particularly funny because of my irrational loathing for Wolf Blitzer. If you replaced Wolf with a cat, it might be the first time in recorded history that replacing anything with a cat resulted in a decrease in smug self-centered-ness.

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That's not the way to win fans, Comcast

Monday, February 09, 2009

I posted the other day about the funny exchange I had with Comcast’s online help. In the middle of last night, someone (or, more likely, some script) posted a comment.

Thanks for sharing this post and I apologize for the experience. I will make sure that this is passed on the appropriate department for evaluation. Most importantly, we would like to have our customers have a good experience. I am also sorry to learn that you are deciding to cancel your cable service. If you are interested, I can reach out to my contacts and see if we can offer a lower-rate package including both services for you. If you are interested, please send me the phone number listed on your account so that I can assist further. Thanks again for sharing this post. Best Regards, Mark Casem Comcast Corp. National Customer Operations We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

First of all, it’s nice that Comcast is looking at what people say about them online. This makes good business sense. But that’s where the good decisions end. What mistakes did Comcast make? Let me list them for you. First, they clearly didn’t read the post. The comment responds to the general gist of the post, but not the details. That, coupled with the timestamp, suggests that this was not a person but an automated script. Engaging dissatisfied bloggers in conversation about how you can provide better service is great. Spamming blog comments with vague promises to fix things is not. If Mark Casem wants to personally sign the comment, then I want Mark Casem’s email address, not some generic help address. Sure, this means that Mark Casem is going to get a lot of junk mail, but there are always costs associated with doing business. Comcast’s IT department can get a better spam firewall. Second, they could have contacted me directly. Every blog has an “About” page. Mine is right here. It tells you how to contact me. Some people already have. A ten-second personal email would have been so much more effective than this. Third, if a package is available at a lower rate, why don’t you just give that to people? Sure, it costs you some money on people who would have never known about it. But don’t you think it might create some customer loyalty? When Verizon Fios comes to DC, if they’re offering a better deal, do you think people who have been overpaying Comcast are going to stick around? It is somewhat ironic that a complaint about how the customer service people are nearly indistinguishable from a well-designed IM bot gets a response from another customer service person who is indistinguishable from a computer program. Or maybe it’s not ironic but appropriate. In any event, it’s unhelpful. Too bad Comcast didn’t make a real effort to engage me. I would have happily spoken to a real person, and would have blogged about the good experience. I know I complain a lot, so I make an extra effort to also talk about the things that go right. But you missed your chance this time, Comcast. I’m not emailing your help desk. If a real person comes back here and talks to me about my problem, not about the problem that other customers who use the same keywords have, I’ll talk. Edit to add: As you can see in the comments, Mark Casem replied directly with his email address. I’ll be contacting him later today, and I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

Two new (to me) spots for coffee

Sunday, February 08, 2009

We’re always looking for new places to stop for coffee during the kid’s morning nap - about two hours after she gets up in the morning, she’ll usually sleep for an hour and a half or two if you stick her in her stroller and walk her around for a while. This weekend, we tried two new places. Saturday morning we went to Locolat Cafe at 18th and Florida NW. I guess this is considered Adams Morgan, but I’m not entirely sure. We had brunch - the wife tried the savory waffles, which were great, and I had a turkey and cheese on croissant, which was also very good. The coffee was good, if expensive. And because they forgot to charge us for an item and had to run the credit card twice, they gave us a little chocolate-covered meringue. As an aside, it is almost always good business to give away something small when you’ve inconvenienced your customer. It was barely an inconvenience at all, but when the cashier (I believe she’s actually the manager and wife of the chef) says, in effect, “I messed up, let me make it up to you”, I will be back. Sunday, we went to Cafe 1612. We were planning to go to Love Cafe, but they don’t open until ten, and the kid needed her nap before that. 1612 was good, but it shares a building (but not any walls, apparently) with a gym. It’s a little strange to eat brunch while watching the girl fold towels at the counter. But the service was good, the food was good, and the coffee was not only good but reasonably priced. The music there was a little funny - it was an oldies station that didn’t really fit the decor of the place. We’ve now got quite a list of places to go and get coffee. Heller’s is probably my favorite because of their egg and cheese bagels, but it’s always nice to have variety.

OMG, Comcast, LOL

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I just got my HTPC today, and we’re thinking about canceling our cable. With over-the-air HD, Hulu, and Netflix, I’m not sure we really need cable. I wanted to see how much our internet would cost if we dropped the cable. I figured Comcast would charge us more if we had only internet. So I went to their live support chat. user Jonathan_ has entered room (4:16 PM) Me: What would my high speed internet cost if I cancelled my cable TV? analyst Ferdinand has entered room Ferdinand: Hello Jonathan_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Ferdinand.38369. Please give me one moment to review your information. Ferdinand: Hello! How may I help you today? Me: If I cancel my cable tv, how much would my internet connection cost? Ferdinand: I understand that you want to know the cost of your internet service if you will cancel your cable service. Is that correct? Me: Yes Ferdinand: Please be informed that you have reached the Comcast Internet Technical support. I would be happy to transfer your chat to the appropriate department. Is that okay? Me: Sure Ferdinand: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst analyst Ellise has entered room (4:18 PM) Ellise: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Let me go ahead and work on this for you. analyst Ferdinand has left room Ellise: By the way, how are you doing today? Me: I’m great, how are you? Ellise: I am glad to know that. Ellise: I am doing quite fine today. Ellise: Thank you for asking. Ellise: It is kind of you, Mr. Renaut. Ellise: Please stay online. Ellise: I will just review the previous chat transcript. Me: ok Ellise: Mr. Renaut, will you please verify what package you currently have? Me: I have digital cable plus high def and high speed internet Ellise: Is this a triple or a double play package? Me: no Ellise: Thank you very much for that information. Ellise: For security purposes may I verify the last 4 digits of your social security number please? Thank you. Me: XXXX, although I’m not sure why you need that just to tell me what my bill would be Ellise: For the security of your account, Mr. Renaut. Ellise: Just a moment, please. Ellise: Mr. Renaut, if you will cancel your cable service, you will save $80.45. Ellise: You have the option to call the local office for confirmation. Ellise: Would you like me to give you the information of our nearest local office to you? Me: I’m not canceling yet, I was just curious Me: nope, just wanted the price Me: thanks very much Ellise: You are most welcome. Ellise: I am glad I was able to assist you today. Ellise: I would appreciate if you will take time answering the online survey right after this chat session. This will help us know how to improve our services. Ellise: Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business with us. Ellise: If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through live chat or e-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Comcast also offers excellent FAQ and help forums located at www.comcast.com to help you reach a resolution independently. Have a great day! Ellise: Analyst has closed chat and left the room (4:28 PM) Things to note:

  1. The whole thing took 12 minutes.
  2. I told Ferdinand my problem once before I arrived in the chat, once after, and then confirmed his restatement.
  3. I’m not convinced that either of the two CSRs could pass a Turing test.
  4. Who knew that everyday pleasantries would be so appreciated?
  5. There’s no chance Comcast doesn’t raise the price of our internet if we cancel the cable.
  6. The price difference she quoted me is digital cable plus the HDTV converter. According to Ellise, if we cancel our cable, we still pay 25 cents a month to rent our remote control.
  7. It is utterly absurd to charge 25 cents for the remote as a separate line item on my bill. Why not just build it into the price of the cable so I never see it?
  8. It was not me who chose which chat room I entered - I answered their questions to the best of my ability. If I’m in the wrong chat room, it is Comcast’s fault.
  9. The survey after the chat is worded in such a way that I can’t tell them how ridiculous they’re being without lying. I answered their questions honestly, and gave them the highest score on every question. But they never asked the really important questions. If your survey is constructed to get high scores, it’s not really helpful, is it?
  10. I really wish that, when she asked if it was a double or triple play, I had answered, “That’s what she said!”. In any event, I’m glad I contacted Comcast customer service. I haven’t laughed that hard since last night when we watched the episode of The Office that aired after the Super Bowl.

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GM is monumentally stupid

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

An article at Deadspin points out that GM gave Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes a car, but didn’t publicize it like they have in previous years.

Fact: Santonio Holmes made more than $2 million this season. Fact: The federal government just bailed out General Motors to the tune of $9.4 billion. So, why is GM giving Holmes an $85,000 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Platinum, which has been, in effect, purchased by the taxpayers?

A commentor mentions that this is even worse than not giving him the car. I had this thought, too. Seriously, I swear I thought of if before I saw the comment. I went and looked at the comment thread because I figured I wouldn’t be the only one. Surely in the past, GM figured that the relatively low cost of an Escalade compared with the promotional value of being on the field just after the Super Bowl was a worthwhile marketing effort. They were probably right. But now, they’ve still spent the money, but the only way that Escalade gets in the news is if Holmes gets arrested in it.

Nice job, First USA

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I got a call a few minutes ago from my credit card company, which at one time was First USA. I think it still is. Anyway, the CSR told me that someone had tried to make a charge on my card, and it looked like fraud. Sure enough, I didn’t recognize the charge. I finished with her without giving any information - never give out information, even your home address, to someone who calls you. You have no idea who they really are, even if your caller ID tells you it’s the person you think it is. I called the number on the back of my card, and sure enough, the first call was legitimate. I suspected it was - she knew about two real charges I made yesterday and one this morning - but I’m glad I checked. A few more minutes and the card is on hold and my new card is on the way. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but I’m really impressed with the service. It is mildly annoying that my online account access is disabled until the new card is activated, so I can’t check to make sure there weren’t other bad charges, and I can’t go back and make sure I remember any regular bills that get paid on the card, but in a few days I’ll have my new card and I’ll be able to get back in. It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by your credit card company. Too bad it doesn’t happen more often.

The WikiMetro scammers strike again!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The scammy scammers from WikiMetro, who take money to put ads on sites that don’t accept them, have contacted me again. See here and here for my previous contact with them.

Hi Drupalcon, Thanks for the email. Let’s schedule a time to talk on the telephone about this. Please go to http://list.wikimetro.org/contact.aspx Choose ‘Phone’ (it requires you to create a username) and choose a time for us to call you back. We’ve been a bit busy, but we can usually call you back in 10 minutes. Lisa Anderson Customer Service Wikimetro

They called me “Drupalcon” again. I know my custom site layout doesn’t follow conventions (I didn’t know this when I built it, and a redesign is in the works) so that automatic site parsers get confused. But starting a business relationship by scraping blogs for contact info is insane. I have never emailed them. And listing my blog on their site as “participating” is an outright lie, as well. Your blog may be listed on their site, too - you can check here to see. Do NOT pay them $25 to have ads appear on this site. If you really want to put ads here, I’m happy to talk, but I’m not sure my traffic is really worth your time. Anyway, I wasn’t sure when they first contacted me, but there is no doubt in my mind that Wikimetro is a scam, and you should have nothing to do with them.

First day of daycare

Monday, February 02, 2009

The kid is starting daycare today. We left her this morning a little after 8, and I’ll go get her around 2. It was hard, and we feel like awful parents. But we know it will get better. Plus, she’s easily the cutest baby in her class (And even an unbiased observer would have to admit that). So she’ll get lots of attention.

Posted in: complaint , parenting

Of all the days to get noticed

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday’s post got into The Express. For those not familiar, The Express is a free paper that gets handed out all over the city, most importantly on Metro - I’d guess that anywhere from 1/3 to ½ of all Metro riders as least browse The Express a couple times a week. I won’t complain about being in the Express - I think it’s awesome. I’ve occasionally seen blogs I know in there, but never mine. Anyway, it figures that they’d notice me on a day when I’m being a bit of a jerk. I was in a bad mood because of my meeting later in the day (1:30 to 4! That’s too long for any meeting) and, as I am prone to do, I mouthed off about something that wasn’t really what was bothering me, but was sort of related and was handy at the time. So that’s my complaint. Noticing me on a bad day. Why couldn’t they have noticed on a better day? Like January 24th, 2007? My mom and I agree that this is one of my best posts. Or maybe on July 8th, 2008, when I got hit by a friggin' truck? In any event, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and my hits were up yesterday. So, those of you who came to see that post, hang out and read a few more and realize that Wednesday was not an accurate reflection of me as a human being. I may be a complainer, but I’m not a jerk.

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This is why I live close to work

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A friend once told me that, when considering two more or less equal candidates for a job opening, you should choose the one with a better commute. Is it really bad where you live? The hardest part of my commute was coming down my own front stairs, which we didn’t shovel at all, and are now covered in ice. Sure, it was a little slow walking to the bus. But the roads are fine. I got in pretty quickly. When I arrived, I found all sorts of people out of the office. One coworker had a meeting this afternoon postponed because 2/3 of the attendees didn’t make it in. Another coworker had a 10AM meeting cancelled (at 9:45) because the person he was meeting didn’t come in. I have a 1:30 meeting, and the two people who work in this building that I expected to attend are not here yet, leading me to believe that they won’t be here. This meeting is going to be really difficult to do over the phone since it’s supposed to be a presentation of various things. Maybe I’ll pretend I live out in West Virginia or something, too, and just call in. It annoys me when people shirk their job responsibilities due to the weather. Sure, I understand not wanting to come in. But when these people took these jobs, they pledged to get to the office when they were needed there. You can choose to live far away if you want, but don’t use it as an excuse. When I was in college, I never missed a class due to drinking the night before (except the day after my 21st birthday, when I made an exception, and still made my afternoon class) or weather, even when I lived off campus. I skipped class when I didn’t feel like going, but never because I had made a personal choice about where I lived or how much I drank. I’m not sure most people make that distinction, but I do, and so I can be smug about your failure to come to work today.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , weather

Did someone say, "A good experience with Dell Tech Support"?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I’ve been having a problem with the power supply on my work laptop, a Dell Precision M2300. Rather than charging my laptop, it will frequently beep at me. This makes it difficult to get much done - I’m a software engineer, and all the code and my dev environment is on this laptop. When the battery goes, there is very little constructive work I can do. So I contacted Dell Pro Support. I believe this is different from what most people get - since my company has a contract with Dell, we get the business-level tech support. And they’re pretty amazing. I told him what my problem was and he arranged to have a new one overnighted. Can’t ask for much more than that. And his English was perfect. I don’t care if companies want to outsource tech support to other countries, but the person who speaks with me needs to speak my language well enough to understand and fix my problem. Anyway, I just had to share. I mean, if I write “good experience with Dell Tech Support”, that pretty much guarantees a good Google ranking, right? There can’t be more than a dozen results for that … Edit to add: Of note - banging the power supply on the floor a bunch of times makes it work again.

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I have ridden the 43, and it was good

Monday, January 26, 2009

A little while ago, I found out about the new 43 bus that goes underneath Dupont Circle instead of through. Today, I rode it for the first time. I almost didn’t - my usual S2 came by as I was waiting to cross I Street. I didn’t rush because I didn’t think I would make it, but then the light changed, and I still didn’t rush, and then three people made the driver open the door before the light turned green. So I would have made it with even the slightest bit of extra effort. But no matter. The 43 bus came by just a minute later. I’ve been wanting to try it, but unwilling to forgo the S2/S4. It was wonderful. But I fear it won’t last long. I got on at 3:30PM on a Monday, early rush hour, but already busy on the S2/S4. There were maybe 15 people on the bus between 15th and I and 16th and Columbia. Maybe this is normal for the route, but I can’t imagine WMATA is happy with those numbers. I did run into a problem with the stop request strings and buttons - none of them worked. I thought perhaps standing by the back door would work, or maybe that the requests were being relayed to the driver but not displayed on the big screen. But I was wrong. Luckily, a kid who wanted the stop after the one I wanted pulled on every string in the bus until one of them worked, and the bus stopped just one stop later than I wanted, and I didn’t even have to go up and ask the driver. I will definitely ride the 43 again. I won’t pass up an S2/S4, but if the 43 comes first, it’s a great alternative.

A new project

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I’ve started up a new blog. It’s not meant to replace this one - I plan to continue posting to both. But it is a new direction. I’m trying something a little more professional rather than whatever you might categorize this blog as. The new blog is about ebooks and ebook readers, and my intention is to see if I like writing something that’s a little more journalistic and a little less whining about parking in DC. So, go check it out. Let me know what you think. Seriously, I’d love feedback. Is it mind-numbing? Do you want to punch me in the face? If you were in the market for an ebook reader, would you care what I had to say?

Posted in: blogging , gadgets

Coffee shop with fringe benefits

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The wife and I took the kid out for her morning walk this morning and decided to stop in at Pan Lourdes, the new-ish coffee shop/bakery on 14th Street just north of Columbia Heights Target. It was great - they have a big refrigerator that makes a lot of noise and even vibrates the floor just a little bit. The kid slept like a rock in her stroller. She stirred a little bit when it cut off, but then went back to sleep. The coffee is nothing to write home about, but the baked goods are pretty awesome. I think they all come from the big bakery on 11th Street near Wonderland, but I’m not sure. It’s funny - I imagine someone from Central America would recognize most of the baked goods, but I sure didn’t. I mean, if I go into a Dunkin Donuts or something, I recognize what most of the things are without needing a sign. Maybe I can’t tell the difference between raisins and blueberries from across the counter, but at least I’d be close. At Pan Lourdes, nothing looks familiar. And they have nothing labeled. I suppose I could have asked the guy behind the counter, but that’s not as adventurous. I had something with a stripe of red frosting, and the wife had something with lemon. Both were good. We’ll definitely go back, for the fridge if nothing else. Everything is really cheap, too - four dollars and change for two pastries and two coffees.

I'm going to punch Mother Nature in the Face. And also WMATA.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In what I’m sure will be a recurring theme for the day for DC bloggers, I’d like to take a moment to complain about the cold. I don’t get cold easily. In fact, just last night the wife and I were discussing that it would be awesome if I could sell my excess body heat - I certainly don’t need all of it, and others (including the wife) would be happy to have it. In any event, I bailed on my usual walk to work after less than a block. Most days I enjoy the walk. It gives me time to think and prepare for the day at work. But not when it’s this cold. Weather.com tells me that it’s 11 degrees out, and it feels like -4. That would explain the frozen snot in my nose. So, I took the bus. Not usually a problem, except that I was on one of the really old models, and it broke down at V Street. The driver didn’t announce anything. We just sat for a minute, and then someone got off, then another person, and soon the whole bus had cleared. Luckily there was another bus right behind, so we didn’t have to wait. But tell me - have you ever been on a bus that broke down in pleasant weather? I’ll bet you haven’t. Then I find out that they’ve opened the roadblocks for Obama, and my normal bus stop is back in use. Except I was on an S1 instead of an S2/S4, thinking it didn’t matter due to the road closure. You got me again, WMATA. And then, just as I thought things were picking up, some woman tried to run me down on while I crossed H St. I didn’t have the light, but there were no cars except this woman, pulled over and letting someone out. So I crossed the street, at which point she started to drive. Now, H Street is four or five lanes at this point. I’m not that big a guy. She could quite easily have worked with me and let me cross (In the crosswalk, though against the light) without making me stop. Did she? I think you know the answer to that question. In any event, I’m at work now, and inside, thankful that my job doesn’t require me to do otherwise.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , weather , wmata

Go visit your elderly relatives

Monday, January 12, 2009

For Christmas, the wife and I promised to bring or cook dinner for my maternal grandmother on Monday nights (In the winter, there are no parking restrictions on our street on Tuesdays, so Monday is a good night to drive somewhere). She’s very hard to shop for because she doesn’t really want or need anything, but company is always welcome, and she has a hard time cooking for herself. Tonight was the first time we went, at least as a Christmas present. We’ve visited plenty of times before, especially since her great-granddaughter was born. It was really nice. Addie behaved herself pretty well, even sitting on my lap through dinner without fussing. Quite a lot to ask of a girl the day she turns four months old. But it made me think of my paternal grandmother. She passed away almost two years ago, and there’s a part of me that wishes I’d spent more time with her, especially at the end. When I was in college, I saw her pretty often, and we had a great relationship. After I moved to the DC area, it was harder to visit, and I didn’t do it as often as I might have. We still had a good relationship, but it wasn’t quite the same as it was before. In any event, I won’t regret the time I might have spent with my maternal grandmother when she’s gone. And all of you, especially if you have elderly relatives, should think about how busy you really are, and whether you could spend a little more time with them, and with the other people you care about. Time spent with people who are important to you is almost never wasted.

Posted in: Anti complaint , family

Beating a dead horse - DRM

Friday, January 09, 2009

Everyone’s favorite DRM-hater, Cory Doctorow, has pointed us to yet another “DRM server shut down so the content you ‘purchased’ goes away” story. Walmart, Yahoo, Microsoft, now Fictionwise … None of them seem to understand the problem with DRM. I’ve stopped buying infinitely copyable goods. i don’t believe in pirating software or music, but I refuse to pay for something that should be free. That’s part of the reason I’m using Linux, listening to music on Jamendo, and things like that. They recognize that you can give away the infinite goods and use them to increase the value of the related scarce goods. I will not purchase anything with any sort of DRM on it. And you shouldn’t either.

My pants are wet for you, Barack

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More “as a result of you”, but that’s not such a snappy headline. As many of you may know, they have closed off a bunch of streets downtown until the Inauguration. I hear it’s because Obama has moved into the area earlier than expected, so there wasn’t a spot for him on the White House grounds. I don’t know if this is the case, and don’t really care. My problem is that they’ve interrupted the S2/S4 bus route, and I had to get off at 16th and K NW this morning. In the rain. And now my pants are soaking wet from the walk. And WMATA is no help - it took me 20 minutes last night to find any information about the detour beyond “there is a detour”, and I still don’t know what the next stop after 16th and K is. It’s somewhere near 13th and H, I think, but I generally get off at the stop I know rather than hope that the next one is better. In any event, this is just one more reason that January 20th can’t come soon enough.

It's our fault the economy sucks

Monday, January 05, 2009

Let’s look back ten years or so. Ford and GM were huge, successful corporations making millions of cars all over the world. Hyundai was a joke, a car that people bought because they couldn’t afford a nice car. Since then, Hyundai has focused on making affordable cars that people want to drive. Ford and GM have focused on making bigger and bigger SUVs and complaining about union wages. So where are we now? Ford and GM are financially insolvent, in need of giant government bailouts. Hyundai is leaving behind their joke reputation and making some pretty decent cars. But why is this our fault? It’s because we are so focused on the sound bytes. When the big three car execs went to Washington with their hands out, what did we report on and talk about? The fact that they flew their corporate jets. Yes, this is a good symbol of the misplaced priorities. But it is such an insignificant part of the problem. It’s not like leaving the corporate jet at home, or even selling it, would have suddenly made GM profitable. Those execs are absurdly rich. Get over it. I know we’re jealous. But even if we make them take pay cuts, we’re still going to be making the same money we do now. The real problem is that, due to mismanagement, failure to plan ahead, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the business they’re in, these execs have gotten into a position where it is better for the country as a whole if we give them millions of dollars. They can’t take all the blame for that - some of it is certainly on us. But to focus on the corporate jets as anything more than a symbol of their incompetence is to brush the real issues under the rug as soon as there’s something we can latch onto and get really fired up about. The issue at hand is that the American car companies don’t make compelling cars (In this country, anyway) and have lost the reputation for quality they used to have. They like to use the unions as an excuse, but the unions are rational human beings who depend on American car companies to make their living - you can negotiate with them and work something out. If you can’t, you’re probably not trying hard enough. If Hyundai can do it, so can you. No more excuses from the Big Three.

OpenSUSE fails at mainstream

Friday, January 02, 2009

I still don’t seem to be getting this whole “partition for a multi-boot Linux system” thing. Or maybe I just need to install OpenSUSE before Ubuntu. Whatever the problem is, I have only one OS installed at the moment, OpenSUSE 11.1, but at least this time it recognized my wireless card without any issues. However, it can’t handle Flash on 64-bit Firefox. This is a big giant obstacle to OpenSUSE becoming an operating system that normal people can use. I’m enough of a geek that I’ll figure out how to get Flash working. But most people aren’t, and no matter how much I hate Adobe for forcing their horrible proprietary language on the world, and how mad I am at the world for letting them do it, you can’t be a mainstream operating system if your default browser doesn’t support Flash out of the box. You can do what Ubuntu does and give open source options to people who refuse to put anything proprietary on their machine, but you can’t make people go download tar.gz files from Adobe and then be told that their architecture isn’t supported. Like it or not, Flash is a part of the internet experience. You have to find a way to deal with that, and OpenSUSE hasn’t. Other than that, I kind of like it. The equivalent of the Windows Start Menu is interesting, and clearly the result of looking at Windows and trying to do one better. Once I get Gnome-Do installed, I may never use it again, but many people will, and it looks like they’ve done some cool things with it. The experiment continues. Edit to add: And here’s the script to install 64-bit Flash in Firefox on OpenSUSE 11.x, in case you wanted to know.

Both better and worse than I thought

Friday, January 02, 2009

So, I got the partitioning right. And I cleaned out the old version of Ubuntu.&nbsp_place_holder; Except that I installed OpenSUSE on top of my new version of Ubuntu, and didn’t clean out the GRUB entries from my old install.&nbsp_place_holder; So now I can run OpenSUSE (Which doesn’t recognize my wireless card) and that’s it. It got late last night and I didn’t try installing again, but maybe tonight.&nbsp_place_holder; I have to look up how to clean out old entries from GRUB. I think maybe I can just delete the whole thing, and it will be remade when I reinstall Ubuntu, but I’m not totally sure. My initial impression of OpenSUSE is good, although I think I’m going to download 11.1. I got 11.0 back in June and never installed it, and now the next version is out.&nbsp_place_holder; It looks like the graphical installer got some major upgrades, so I think I will take advantage. That is something that Ubuntu needs to work on - I gave up on their graphical installer after three straight versions refused to play nice with my video card. Anyway, now I’m stuck at work and can’t do anything fun, but I hope to have both operating systems up and running by tomorrow. I’ll post a comparison eventually.

Linux geekery - Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I just installed the latest version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I totally botched my partitioning - I meant to install to a 20 GB partition with another 20 GB partition available for installing other Linux distributions (I’m going to start with OpenSUSE) just for fun, and then use whatever’s leftover for shared files. I also want to clean out the old version of Ubuntu, since I won’t be using it again. It looks like I did neither of those, so I’m going to have to try again. However, on booting up Intrepid Ibex for the first time, I noticed the Bluetooth icon. The last version of Ubuntu didn’t recognize the Bluetooth adapter in my laptop. It took me less than 30 seconds to hook up my laptop to my cell phone, something that I spent an hour trying to do on Windows XP and never really got to work properly. The process on Ubuntu was flawless and simple. Nice job, Ubuntu. Anyway, I’m off to try again. Or maybe I’m off to bed and will try again in the morning.

Posted in: Anti complaint , gadgets , linux , Ubuntu

It takes four signs to explain the parking

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Originally uploaded by thetejon

I took this photo the other day while I was up on the roof with the heater repair guys. I couldn’t hear the bulk of the conversation, but I believe the woman in the brown coat, one of my neighbors, was complaining first to a parking enforcement officer, then to a police officer, and then to this woman, a parking enforcement supervisor, about tickets being written. During the winter, they suspend street cleaning. They don’t change the signs, they just assume you know that, from some arbitrary date in November to some equally arbitrary date in March, you are free to ignore the no parking signs for street cleaning. Try to find out what those dates are. I dare you. However, it seems you can only ignore some of the signs. Usually, the south side of the street is two hour parking for all out-of-zone cars. On street cleaning days, it changes to DC residential parking permit holders only. So the parking enforcement official ticketed all the Maryland and Virginia drivers on the south side. I’m guessing that my neighbor was arguing that these signs don’t apply when street cleaning is suspended. I don’t think she’s going to win this argument, but she did leave notes on all the ticketed cars. I don’t know what they said. I would have told them to contest the tickets by mail, which won’t do any good, but might make them feel better. Still, it is pretty absurd that it takes four signs to explain the parking. Doesn’t this suggest to someone that the parking restrictions might be overly complicated?

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , parking

Coincidence? What now, University of Michigan?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Last winter, I applied for the open University of Michigan football head coaching position. I was rejected. What happened next? “Coach Rich Rodriguez … guided the Michigan football team to its worst season in its 129-year history in his first year.” (Source). The wife claims my rejection and Michigan’s awful season aren’t related, but she’s just a girl and doesn’t know anything about football (except what I taught her). I’m putting all you big football schools on notice - next time I apply for your open head coaching position, you might want to hire me.

And fire him they did

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Orioles finally let Daniel Cabrera go. I have posted at length about his ups and downs. And now he’s a National, so I can hop on the Metro go see him on occasion when we get a babysitter. He’ll probably pull a Schilling and turn into an All-Star. It’s funny how Schilling pitched 44 of his 569 career games as an Oriole, yet I still always considered him an Oriole who happened to pitch for someone else. It is more likely, however, that his control will continue to ruin his gobs of talent, and he’ll always be a 5.00 ERA guy who every once in while throws a two hit shutout and strikes out 10. I hope the Nationals enjoy him.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , dc , sports

The name of this blog is now "Tony Romo Sucks"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wow. 44-6. Two fumbles and an interception. He went 1-3 in December, although the one win was a good one at home against the Giants. Check out his splits at NFL.com. His December stats are completely out of whack with other months, and this happens every year. He’s been in the league long enough that this is statistically significant. He just can’t play in December. It doesn’t look like he’s going to fix this. I’m feeling pretty good about the playoffs. There are only two teams in the playoffs that I loathe (The Giants, led by colossally-overrated-and-much-less-talented-than-his-brother Eli Manning, and the Panthers, picked every year by “experts” to win the Super Bowl despite the fact that they always suck and always will). Then there are the Dolphins and the Cardinals (Best potential Super Bowl matchup ever) to root for. And there’s the potential for a Ravens-Steelers AFC Championship game, which would be a great game. Should be a fun playoff. And I’m sure Tony Romo will enjoy watching from a comfortable recliner.

Posted in: Anti complaint , funny , nfl , sports

Ed Reed ate him alive

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tony Romo still sucks in December. he threw two interceptions and lost another fumble in the Cowboys loss to the Ravens. The Cowboys can still make the playoffs, but they’ll probably need some help, and they’ve given Philadelphia a chance not only to play for their own playoff spot, but a chance to play the Cowboys out of the playoffs. Philly is playing well since their tie with Cincinnati, and I wouldn’t want to play them right now needing a win to advance. Romo’s actually had a better December this year than in previous years - he did lead the Cowboys to 17 fourth quarter points with two touchdown passes. But it’s just not enough, and it’s not what he does every year before December. I wonder if there are other players who are so good for part of the year and so bad for the rest? By the way, no one will believe me now, and I should have had the courage to predict it, but I said to myself when I saw the Cowboys schedule that Ed Reed would have a big game for the Ravens. Next time I won’t be such a coward.

Posted in: Anti complaint , funny , nfl

An interesting bit of timing

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frost/Nixon opens. Deep Throat dies. Coincidence? I think not. If I were handling the case, I would look long and hard at Ron Howard.

Posted in: intrigue , movies , murder

Did you read my novel?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I recently posted my Nanowrimo novel for any and all to read. I’m curious if anyone did. I know one friend did, and I know more people downloaded it. And it hasn’t been that long - if you had posted your Nanowrimo novel, I probably wouldn’t have read it yet, either. But I’m curious if anyone has read it, or at least started it, and has anything to say about it. Constructive criticism is preferred, although vitriolic rants on my incompetence as a writer are always welcome. The friend who read it asked if I had read it since November ended. I told him I hadn’t, and he said it would probably be a good idea if I did. It is a rough draft, after all. And as is my Nano usual, the story changed from my original plans as I wrote it, so some of the early stuff might not fit with the later stuff. I’m not sure if I want to keep working on it. I’d love to publish something one day, but I don’t really know if this is the one to try with or not.

Sign a petition for intelligence in agriculture

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Petition to “Get a Secretary of Real Food appointed” in Obama Administration BoingBoing points us to “a petition at fooddemocracynow.org that asks Obama’s transition team to consider six candidates - all experienced, viable names of people who are ready and willing to serve - for Secretary of Agriculture who could potentially mend our broken food system. Already, after only six days, 36,000 people have signed the petition, including Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Bill Niman, and the Obama transition team appears to be paying attention.” If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients on a loaf of bread, the portion sizes at a restaurant, or any number of other things, it becomes pretty obvious that the way we eat and the way we produce food is horribly broken. I am honestly scared of the things that my daughter will be expected to consume when she goes off to school, and she has the advantage of coming from a home where both parents eat well, lots of vegetables, not so much processed stuff, organic when available, etc. What about the millions who don’t know how or can’t afford to eat well? If the Obama transition team really is listening, this is a petition worth signing. I encourage you to sign it. I just did.

Tire vandals in Columbia Heights

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The only reason we still have a car is my daughter’s car seat. It’s just not worth the hassle in the city. Sometime Sunday night, someone came down our street and slashed or deflated a bunch of car tires, including one of ours. I don’t see a visible puncture, but I find it pretty hard to believe that someone actually removed the cap, let the air out, and took the time to screw the cap back on. It could have been worse - we need new tires anyway - but it’s a huge hassle. I’m going to have to call AAA because the Mazda dealer managed to lose the wheel lock key last time I was in for an oil change, back when they were still doing them for free. So I can’t change the tire myself. I was thinking about this - if I were the vandal, I would actually take the time and let the air out and replace the cap. I think that’s way funnier, and it doesn’t cause any damage, so you don’t get in as much trouble if you get caught. Mindless vandalism lacks style. Do I need to file a police report? Half the street got a tire slashed, and I know at least a couple of my neighbors reported it. Our insurance deductible is more than the cost of a tire, so we probably won’t report it to them, either. Doesn’t seem like it’s worth the trouble.

Posted in: complaint , crime , dc , harvardstreet

Romo still sucks in December

Sunday, December 07, 2008

After last year’s NFL playoffs, I mentioned that Tony Romo is a miserable quarterback after December 1st. No one else seems to notice this. But today, he’s doing it again (Against a great defense, to be fair). At the end of the first half, he’s completed 11 of 21 for 91 yards, two interceptions, and a lost fumble. His rating is about 20. This looks remarkably like every other game he’s played in December, and should be terrifying to Dallas fans. Pittsburgh’s utter lack of offense today is keeping the Cowboys in the game, but Romo can’t give up the ball three times a half and expect to win games. Edit to add: Maybe I spoke too soon. He completed two of three, including a touchdown to Owens, on the first drive of the second half. Edit again to gleefully add: I had given up on this game, watching Encino Man instead, when a friend IMed me to let me know that Romo had thrown a pick-six with the game tied, his third interception and fourth turnover of the game. Nice game, Romo.

If I were a teen girl

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Have you seen the commercials for One a Day Teen Advantage vitamins? I keep seeing them because we’ve gotten hopelessly addicted to NCIS and House reruns on USA. It’s a disease. Anyway, if I were a teen girl, I would be pretty pissed off. The commercial says that there are vitamins designed for teen boys and for teen girls. That’s fine - teen boys and teen girls have different vitamin needs, so it only makes sense to have different vitamins for each of them. But the commercial and their website only mention that girls want healthy skin, and boys want healthy muscles.

Complete Multivitamins for Teen Boys & Girls to Support: * Healthy muscle function with Magnesium (for Him) * Healthy skin with Vitamins A and C, Copper, and Iron (for Her)

Now, as I said, I’m not a teen girl, nor was I ever a teen girl, or a girl of any kind. But I feel I can speak for them when I say that girls need muscles, too. You know, for exercising and playing sports and moving. Does One a Day Teen Advantage really think that the only thing girls might get (or want) from their vitamins is healthy skin? That sounds like a pretty worthless vitamin.

Banana Leaves - Yum

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dinner was so good. I had the Grilled Honey Peanut Tofu with brown rice and the wife had the Malaysia Mee Goreng, and we each had a vegetarian spring roll. The website lets you choose a time for delivery. We chose 7:45, and the delivery guy arrived at 7:43. It’s funny, because the first time I heard of them, it was because I found the website, and I made fun of it for being really awful. And in some sense it still is really awful, but at least they spent their time (or, more likely, money) on an online ordering system rather than gobs of awful Flash. Well done, Banana Leaves. We will definitely be ordering again. Local blogging sensation Prince of Petworth mentioned Banana Leaves today, too. The commenters there aren’t all as positive about the place as I am, but what do they know?

Dancing bananas and surprising websites

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Have you ever been to Banana Leaves at Connecticut and Florida NW? I went once when they first opened, and was pleased with the food. The bench seats were freshly varnished and stuck to my jeans, though. They have a pretty goofy website with a little dancing banana gif straight out of 1996, but they also have a pretty neat little online ordering system. It apparently doesn’t work too well in Firefox 3 on OSX (The wife’s computer, not mine), but it was fine on my work laptop (Firefox 3, XP). I just ordered dinner. I’m waiting for confirmation. The interface is a little bit three years ago, lacking the polish that we’ve become accustomed to, but it seems to work well. This is fantastic for those of us who would really like to abolish phones. I try not to ever have to talk on the phone. I did have to call them to make sure they deliver to us, although I could have just ordered and waited for them to say no, but that would have taken too much time. We’re trying to time delivery with the little Fusspot’s eating schedule so that maybe the wife and I can both eat together without a screaming baby. She’s been pretty good today, so we’re hopeful. I’ll let you know how the food is.

Monuments to Nothing - My 2008 Nanowrimo novel

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So here is my 2008 Nanowrimo novel, Monuments to Nothing. It is shared here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. That means you can read it, share it with your friends, write a sequel to it, edit it, write fan fiction about my characters, or ignore it. If it is possible that you are my Christmas secret stocking person, you should not read it yet. You may not present it as your own, share it without giving me credit, share it or derivative works under a more restrictive license, or use it commercially. Unless you ask me and I say it’s okay. The story has a little bit of sex, violence, and profanity. Nothing really crazy, but I feel I should warn people. Enjoy.

Nanowrimo is over for me

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

I hit 50,000 words this afternoon. I kind of like the story. It’s not my favorite, but after the last two years of utter garbage, this one is fantastic by comparison. I plan to post it here eventually, but I kind of want to take a break from it, at least until tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait if you want to read it. As you see in the picture, I didn’t get out of all my parent duties this month. The wife went above and beyond in helping me make time for writing, although she complained a bit. I am indebted to her for a while now. I couldn’t have come close to 50,000 if she hadn’t helped, and I am very grateful, even though she doesn’t believe me when I tell her. I wrote a lot today with the kid in either the Moby wrap pictured, or in her Lascal M1 Carrier after we went for a walk when she wouldn’t take a nap this afternoon. I like the M1 better for carrying her for a while because it distributes the weight better, but it’s harder to sit down wearing it, so if I hope to come home from the walk and have her stay asleep, the Moby is better. I should get back to posting regularly now that I don’t have a novel to write.

Wikimetro says, "We're totally not a scam"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I got an email from Wikimetro last night telling me that they were not a scam. They did nothing to address my concerns, however.

Dear Complaint Hub (we dont know your real name, sorry), We just saw your comment on Complaint Hub and wanted to reply. Wikimetro is not a scam at all, but rather a marketplace that lets ad buyers and bloggers meet. If you are avail to talk, just email us a tel number and time to call, or give us a call using the contact us page on our site. Jeff B www.wikimetro.org

It was nice of them to actually read my blog this time rather than scraping a header tag for a name-like word, but this was never really my concern. It was more a clue that the email was auto-generated by a script. But telling me you’re a “marketplace” is one thing, and listing blogs as available to purchase ads on when these bloggers have never heard of you is quite another. I’m going to start my own “marketplace” here on Complaint Hub. For $500, Jeff B of Wikimetro will tattoo your name on his forehead. No, he doesn’t know it yet. But when you give me the money, I’ll approach him (Through the convenient contact us page on their site) and see if I can work something out. Or maybe I’ll just pocket the money and never even tell Jeff B he was part of the transaction.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , internet , scams

That's a weird place for an ad, Google

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Those of you who use Google Finance to track the implosion of your stock portfolio have probably noticed that they’ve moved the graph that tracks the Dow and the S&P; over to make room for a big box of ads. I’m curious why they did that. Not only does it look a little out of place, but do people really go to Google Finance looking to buy something? If they offered a cheap way to buy stock, I could understand that. But the ad it’s showing me now is “Free Grants for Finances”, whatever that means. It doesn’t seem to really fit in with their typical strategy of unobtrusive, targeted ads. I suppose it doesn’t cost them anything, and could bring in plenty of money, but it could also backfire by annoying long-time users like me by taking up a pretty large chunk of prime screen real estate. I hope they don’t make any money off the ads and decide to remove them.

Posted in: advertising , complaint

I hate the Cowboys

Monday, November 17, 2008

Originally uploaded by thetejon

What a disappointing game. Fantastic seats, though. The picture from my phone kind of sucks, but I didn’t feel like bringing the cool camera and I forgot to steal the wife’s point and shoot. Have you ever been to FedEx Field to watch the Redskins? It is the worst stadium I’ve ever been to in terms of getting home. There don’t seem to be signs to get back to the Metro (Probably because it’s a mile away) and getting out of the parking lot takes hours. I met my friend at New Carrollton because he was coming from Annapolis, and I rode with him to the parking lot. On the way out, he was going to drop me off at the Metro again, but I had to leave him and walk. When I got to the Morgan Boulevard station, he still hadn’t moved from his spot, and I caught the second to last train of the night. It’s too bad, because I like the stadium, but I’m not sure they could have made it less accessible.

Posted in: complaint , dc , football , harvardstreet

Is Wikimetro a scam?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recently, I got an email from someone I’d never heard of from Wikimetro.org wanting to talk about advertising on my site here.

Drupalcon, Who is the contact for discussing advertising on your blog Complaint Hub? We have received 24 requests this week for advertising on Complaint Hub, and the page has been viewed 69 times. Our website, wikimetro.org, is the largest online BlogAd marketplace with more than 50,000 blogs in more than 2,300 US cities and towns. Here’s a link to your blog on wikimetro: http://list.wikimetro.org/market/info.aspx?blog=822 If you are agreeable to scheduling a time to talk on the phone about this, please tell me a good time by contacting me at this link (choose phone): http://list.wikimetro.org/contact.aspx I’ll cc my assistant to set up a time to talk, if there’s interest. Alex Rawlings Wash DC BlogAd Account Direct Email: alex.rawlings@wikimetro.org Website: www.wikimetro.org Motto: “Everything Local” Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.wikimetro.org/wikimetro_guide Tel. +1(202) 470-0961

It sounded a bit scammy to me, especially because by addressing me as “Drupalcon”, they clearly didn’t actually look at the site, but just scraped it with some script. A bit of Googling made it sound like Wikimetro was a scam, but nothing really concrete. So I looked at the local blogs they had listed as participants and emailed one I recognized to ask if Off Seventh was actually participating, or just being used to bait others. I got an email back, and it turns out Off Seventh was totally unaware of the deal Wikimetro claimed to have. So, the conclusion I draw from this is that Wikimetro is a scam. If they contact you, I suggest being very cautious. Edit to add: Follow-up from Wikimetro is here.

Shame on you, Columbia Heights

Monday, November 10, 2008

Over the weekend, I noticed that someone stole the Bell’s Beer sticker off the back window of our car. It may have happened over Halloween, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the car. I like to think that the person who did it felt that I was promoting drinking and driving, and stole the sticker as a protest. I wasn’t, for the record, promoting drinking and driving - one of the huge advantages about living somewhere like Columbia Heights is that there are tons of places you can go drink where you never ever ever have to drive home. Wonderland, Marx Cafe, Saint Ex, all fantastic bars that I can walk to easily, not to mention everything on U Street and Adams Morgan. Anyway, if the person felt I was making a statement like that, then I forgive you for your misguided attempt to make the world a better place. If not, however, I hope you got a paper cut from the sticker. It’s not a big deal in either case - those stickers only last a year or so, and I’ll be back in Kalamazoo next month, when I planned to get a new sticker anyway. If anyone who works for Bell’s is listening - how about some inside-window stickers so it’s safe from the elements and from would-be thieves?

Posted in: beer , complaint , crime , dc , harvardstreet

What a glorious world we live in

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No, not the election yesterday, though that certainly was glorious. I don’t have time to do justice to the election, so I will just say that I have never seen people dancing in the streets over a President, and I’m looking forward to the coming years. The glorious thing I’m talking about is the search box in Firefox 3. I was making a dumb joke in my novel about Keira Knightley. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know how to spell her name. So I went to the search box with its awesome autocomplete. By the time I had typed “kie”, which is not how you spell her name, the first result was her name, spelled correctly. Now, keep in mind, I didn’t actually perform the search, I just looked at the suggestions that Firefox gives for what I might want to search for. Actually, I did do the search, but just to verify that I had the correct spelling. I did. Can you imagine this sort of information so readily available even five years ago? Sure, it wouldn’t have been hard for me to find out how to spell her name. But the only way it would have been easier this time is if the Open Office standard dictionary was hooked up to some online dictionary that was constantly updated. So maybe someone should get on that.

Nanowrimo tonight

Friday, October 31, 2008

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m staying up past midnight tonight so I can get started on my novel. Currently the Nanowrimo website is inaccessible, typical for the few days before and after November 1st, but that’s not dampening my enthusiasm.

The hard streets of Columbia Heights

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I was out with the kid on a trip to DCUSA for a few pictures frames this evening. She got mad when I stopped to look at frames in Bed Bath and Beyond, so I thought I’d take the long way home and give her a chance to settle down. I was heading south down 13th NW, about to cross Harvard, when there was a bit of a commotion. It looked like someone driving north on 13th was trying to turn left onto Harvard, which is one way in the other direction. There was plenty of honking. “What an idiot,” I thought. “The signs and the honking aren’t tipping him off?” Then a man got out of the car, which was now stopped in the middle of the intersection. He was holding a shotgun. Now, at this point I was a little nervous. The kid was sleeping, which I suppose was good, but her big fuzzy winter outfit is not, in fact, bulletproof. Then I saw all the police cars. More arrived as I stood there. The man with the gun was DCPD. That was mildly comforting. More officers poured out of the cars, at least a dozen. They quickly went up the walk to the northwest corner of Harvard and 13th and banged on the door. At this point I decided I was going to take my daughter and get out of there. Before I left, the police had entered the building, and I could hear them yelling at someone to get down. I’ve never seen the police break down a door. And in truth, I didn’t actually see them open the door. But I don’t think anyone let them in. I’m going to watch the Columbia Heights forum to see if anyone knows what happened. Hopefully the police got whoever they were after and no one got hurt.

Real authors doing Novel Writing Month

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One of my favorite authors, Charles Stross, is going to do Novel Writing Month this year. Stross' Iron Sunrise is one of my favorite books, and those of you paying attention know that I’ve met him over delicious beers at the Brickskeller. I know Nanowrimo is not quite the same for someone who makes a living writing novels as it is for someone who just wishes he had the motivation and dedication to make a living writing novels (You’ll notice I don’t say I lack the skill - I have the skill until I prove otherwise). But it’s cool to be writing along with someone who writes really cool stuff, who is successful doing professionally something that I do now and then as an amateur. Now I just have to figure out how to get my daughter to sleep for a few hours in the evening so I can actually write my 50,000 words.

Experts Exchange sucks

Monday, October 27, 2008

If you’re a programmer, you’ve probably come across Experts Exchange while searching for help on some programming problem. Today I was wondering if sqlldr could generate a table for you, or if you had to make the table, then run sqlldr. It’s not important. Unless you know the answer. Anyway, the first result for whatever it was I searched for was from Experts Exchange. This sucks, because while they let you read the question, you have to pay (or start a free trial) for the answer. So they often come up on Google, but the question is never helpful. Yes, I could pay for the answer. I won’t, but I could. What I’d really like to do is never get results from their site when I search. Can you do that with Google? You should be able to.

Posted in: complaint , stupid people

Great moments is passive-aggressiveness

Monday, October 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

I know this may seem slightly ridiculous coming from a guy who runs a blog called Complaint Hub, but doesn’t it make you laugh when someone goes to a whole lot of trouble to publicly complain about something they could (and should) just fix themselves?

THIS IS A FLOOR SHARED REFRIGERATOR
Please toss out old food
IT SMELLS!!!

NEED VOLUNTEERS TO CLEAN REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER
SIGN UP SHEET?

I think it should be a law - if you put out a request for volunteers with a sign-up sheet, your name should be first on the list. The laziness here is really astounding. Well, not really, I’m never really surprised by how lazy people are, but it should be astounding. Not only has the sign-maker not actually done any cleaning, but he or she didn’t even put up a sign-up sheet.

Twitter will kill us all

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I thought this was idiotic when Gizmodo mentioned it, but now Slashdot says that this is actually the US Army. This is terrifying.

A chapter titled ‘Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter’ notes that Twitter members reported the July Los Angeles earthquake faster than news outlets and activists at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis used it to provide information on police movements.

Do you know what else is both ubiquitous and super dangerous? AIR. It’s highly flammable, and it’s friggin' everywhere. I pray every day that no one tells the terrorists. And you know what else is really dangerous? WATER. It makes us drown. Think what could happen if Al Qaeda found that out. And the Earth is over seventy percent water. I hope Osama Bin Laden doesn’t read my blog. You know why education and health care in this country is always short on money? It’s because we pay people to conduct studies like this.

jrenaut - Kobe, ARod, Michael Phelps, and Tony Hawk(?) channeling Tom Cruise? Rock Band is pulling out all the stops with these

Sunday, October 26, 2008

jrenaut: Kobe, ARod, Michael Phelps, and Tony Hawk(?) channeling Tom Cruise? Rock Band is pulling out all the stops with these commercials.

jrenaut - It is unclear if the Redskins could look any worse this week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

jrenaut: It is unclear if the Redskins could look any worse this week.

I'm drinking a can of beer from my own fridge for the first time since I don't know when.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

jrenaut: I’m drinking a can of beer from my own fridge for the first time since I don’t know when.

Not just for chicks, this thing is going to save me

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Despite the implication from the website that it’s for women only, our Moby Wrap is maybe going to save my November. This is my seventh National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve only failed to finish once. But I was afraid I was doomed to failure this year. It’s one thing for the wife to roll her eyes and go about her business while I write, but it’s quite another for me to say, “Sweetheart, will you take care of the kid for a little longer while I write my yearly novel?” They’re home together all day, and I know the wife looks forward to being able to move around on her own for a bit when I get back. But with the Moby, I can write AND watch my daughter. In fact, I’m doing it right now while the wife is out running an errand. I’m sitting here, typing away, while the kid is sleeping happily in her Moby. It has taken a little getting used to - it slightly hard to sit and type while wearing it. But it sure beats listening to the kid scream, or dumping all parenting responsibilities on the wife. And everyone says wearing your baby is great bonding, although I’m not sure how useful it is if she’s just asleep the whole time. Note to Moby Wrap - put a guy on your front page! It’s already hard enough to overcome parent/gender stereotypes without you pitching in to reinforce them. These things are great for fathers, too. And not just because women think that guys wearing their children are sexy (Trust me, I’ve walked through Dupont and Adams Morgan wearing her, and I’ve never gotten so much attention from women in my life). Wearing your children is great for you, too. It keeps your hands free AND puts the kid to sleep. That means you can drink a beer and watch the game and still be a good dad. And if your wife is like mine, the more you watch the kid, the more she cooks and cleans. Everyone wins!

Posted in: Anti complaint , kids , nanowrimo

I don't read partial RSS feeds

Friday, October 24, 2008

jrenaut: I don’t read partial RSS feeds

DC parking ticket adjudicator lacks sense of humor, soul

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I finally contested a parking ticket and lost. That puts my record at 5-1, which is still pretty good. And technically this ticket was the wife’s, so I probably could still call myself undefeated. In any event, DC’s parking enforcement extortion officers got us for parking within five feet of an alley. This rule is especially absurd because DC stubbornly refuses to paint curbs red to indicate that parking is not allowed. This is, of course, because they want you to get a ticket. It’s certainly not because the city cares where you park. Look at the boot system. That is a system designed for maximum revenue and driver inconvenience, not for keeping our streets clear of illegally parked cars. If they really cared where you parked, they’d tow you for violations, not lock your car in place. Anyway, they didn’t buy my argument. And it was a weak argument, I admit. But it was civil and in complete sentences, so I thought maybe they’d give me the benefit of the doubt.

To Whom It May Concern: I am writing to contest a parking ticket, citation #[unimportant], that I received on Monday, July 21st, 2008, for parking less than five feet from an alley. In my haste to move the car because the ticket indicated that towing was requested, I did not notice that the ticket was for parking on the 1300 block of Harvard St NW. The car was on the 1400 block, just across the street from my house, where I’ve parked numerous times in the past. I realize that you can’t just take me at my word. I have lived on Harvard St for about a year and a half. In that time, I have parked on blocks besides the 1400 block fewer than a dozen times, and never on a Monday. Every Monday at 6:30PM, you can see all the residents of the block who don’t have off-street parking move their cars from the north side of the street to the south side. The south side is usually closed to parking during rush hour, but after 6:30 it’s open, and on Tuesdays, the north side is scheduled for street cleaning. So the minute the south side opens up to parking, those of us who live here move our cars. At 7:31PM, when the ticket was issued, the south side of the street had been open to parking for only an hour. That side of the street never fills up until much later in the evening, so there would never be a reason for me to park on the 1300 block of Harvard rather than my block (1400 block), as the ticket stated. I have to admit that I’m a little paranoid about my car being ticketed, and this causes me to pay a lot of attention to parking on our street and to ticketed cars. Every day, there is a car parked in the spot where I received the ticket. Some of these cars are within five feet of the alley, and some are not. But not once have I seen a car parked there with a ticket that wasn’t clearly violating some other parking rule. For example, during the day a residential parking permit is required, and frequently I’ve seen cars with VA or MD tags with tickets. I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but if this particular violation was enforced with any sort of regularity, I would have become aware of it. But it is hardly reasonable to expect me to assume that behavior I see go unpunished every day is anything but legal. Further, the ticket incorrectly cites me for parking on a block where my car was not parked. I live, work, and pay taxes in the District, and I endeavor at all times to park legally. For these reasons and those above, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forgive this parking ticket. I am also curious - the ticket itself states that I have 60 days to contest, which I am timely doing now. However, I subsequently received a letter indicating the ticket doubled because I did not answer in 30 days. If it is decided that I do in fact owe money for this ticket, I would appreciate that the cost of the ticket revert back to $20 since I have answered within the 60 day window. Thank you very much for your time. Sincerely, [A frustrated DC resident]

They also only give you five days from the postmark on your rejection letter to pay the ticket. I’m inclined to write a check just so I can write something unpleasant in the memo field, but I probably shouldn’t. They did, however, only charge $20, so I guess that’s some sort of partial victory.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , parking

I still don't know what to do with Twitter, but at least now I can tweet from my desktop with Gnome-Do

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

jrenaut: I still don’t know what to do with Twitter, but at least now I can tweet from my desktop with Gnome-Do

Are you Flickr friends with the Smithsonian?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution

If you aren’t, you should be. The Smithsonian is one of the organizations, like the Library of Congress, that is using Flickr to share all sorts of images free from any kind of copyright or licensing restrictions. This makes the hippie socialist in me very happy. For $25 a year, they have unlimited storage of photos. I know the Library of Congress encourages people to tag their photos, so they’re crowdsourcing the categorization of whatever they post. That certainly saves them more than $25 a year. And this way everyone benefits because people can use the photos for whatever they want. And we all get to look at cool pictures like this one, a supernova photographed by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Posted in: Anti complaint , awesome , DRM

Manny is the new Bonds

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

jrenaut: Manny is the new Bonds

It would have been a disappointing time

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Except that I haven’t run in months. My first 10K since my foot surgery was both my worst time ever and a great success. My official time was 57:48, a 9:18 pace, which is well off my personal best of 49:38, but that personal best was in April, and since then I’ve had foot surgery and run less than 20 miles total, I don’t think this was so bad. It was frustrating to be so slow, and to not have that extra bit at the end. But after more than five months of almost no running, I expected it. I like the course - it’s at West Potomac Park, just south of the Mall, and right on the water. It’s flat and wide and scenic. The Run Geek Run 8K is going to be at the same place in a few weeks, and I’m thinking about running it, but I know I won’t have much of a chance to run between now and then, so I won’t do much better than I did this weekend.

Posted in: dc , fitness , harvardstreet , health , running

Seriously, some needs to bailout my 401K

Friday, October 10, 2008

jrenaut: Seriously, some needs to bailout my 401K

WalMart caves on DRM

Friday, October 10, 2008

BoingBoing | WalMart now says they’ll keep the DRM servers on forever I wrote about this when WalMart first announced that they were revoking your ability to play the music you “bought” from them, but it looks like they’ve changed their mind, just like Yahoo. Well, not quite like Yahoo, but the same idea. They’re going to leave their DRM servers on for some undisclosed additional time. BoingBoing seems to think they’ll leave them up permanently, but the press release doesn’t actually say that. Regardless, WalMart is paying real money for their mistake, and it’s always nice to see that. Except in this economy where we need WalMart to keep the entire country from going bankrupt. Then it kind of sucks.

There goes my retirement.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

jrenaut: There goes my retirement.

I can't believe IT removed Firefox from my work machine.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

jrenaut: I can’t believe IT removed Firefox from my work machine.

Now I did sign up for Twitter

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I did sign up for Twitter. You can see it to the right if you’re actually at the site and not reading the RSS. I also signed up at IMified so I could “tweet” through Google Talk. I still don’t really see the appeal, but I haven’t given it much of a chance. We’ll see what happens.

Posted in: the internet , twitter , web 2.0

My life hasn't really changed since Twitter. Everyone is a liar.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

jrenaut: My life hasn’t really changed since Twitter. Everyone is a liar.

jrenaut - I'm ready for Twitter to change my life

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

jrenaut: I’m ready for Twitter to change my life

Nanowrimo is coming

Monday, October 06, 2008

It’s almost that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away. They’re celebrating their 10th year of Nano, while I’m celebrating my seventh. It’s hard to believe this is my seventh. It’s not hard to believe that I’ve never truly finished any of the “novels” I wrote during November. Maybe when the kid goes off to college. It will be very hard to hit 50,000 words this year. Having a 7-10 week old daughter in the house will no doubt cut into my novel writing time, and having a job that actually expects me to do something productive doesn’t help, either. Plus I’d kind of like to spend time with my wife now and then. I have two ideas I’m kicking around. One I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now, and one I just thought of recently. I’m leaning towards the more recent idea, because I’m afraid I won’t finish this year, and I don’t want to “waste” the more developed idea. But the newer idea still needs a second and third act, which makes things a little difficult. Just looking at the freshly updated Nano website and thinking about entering my first word count of 2008 gives me goosebumps. If you’ve never tried it, go read about what it is and how it works. In short, you will be writing a 50,000 word novel from November 1st to November 30th. Yes, this is hard. No, this is not impossible. Yes, it is incredibly rewarding (and addicting). Yes, most people you know will think you’re a little weird. But if I could only share with you the elation I felt when I first hit the word count button in my word processor back on November 27th, 2002, and it said, “50,000” for the first time, you would be totally sold. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me at jon at complaint hub dot com if you have questions about Nano, or contact me through the Nano site if you’re a participant.

Posted in: nanowrimo , writing

I almost signed up for Twitter

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I seriously considered signing up for Twitter just so I could easily liveblog the vice-presidential debate tonight. But then I’d have to find friends on Twitter or integrate it here or something, and that all sounded like work, so I didn’t do it. But, boy, am I looking forward to it. Listening to Sarah Palin try to answer questions, and listening to Joe Biden try not to beat her too senseless. He’s really in a tough spot - if he goes easy on her, it’s because he doesn’t respect her as a woman. If he’s hard on her, he obviously hates women. If he ignores her and focuses on the issues, he’s not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. There is absolutely nothing he can do that won’t get him into trouble. So I’m just hoping that she self-destructs all on her own. Which I think she’ll do. I mean, Saturday Night Live used her actual answers to questions because they couldn’t think of anything funnier. On one hand, you have things that Sarah Palin actually said as the candidate for the vice-presidency. On the other hand, you have every other thing that anyone has said or could say. And the things she said were funnier! That is true talent. A friend pointed out to me earlier today a survey that says that 60% of Americans don’t think she’s qualified. After tonight, anyone still in that other 40% is just lying to themselves.

Her favorite pastime

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

I hate the “I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog” posts, but I’d like to point out that I actually do have a really good excuse (Pictured at left).

Anyway, my excuse loves to look at herself in the mirror while she’s being changed. I’m not sure what she thinks she’s looking at, because I don’t think she really has that self-awareness. But any time she’s awake, not eating, and not screaming, I’m happy, so at this point I don’t care. People keep telling me that the six week mark is where it all turns around and gets easier. We’re almost at three weeks. I have to say that, while I love my daughter and still can’t believe she’s real, the first few weeks of parenting are hard. I wasn’t really prepared for this. It’s cool, though. At least I have a photo subject that doesn’t (can’t) run away.

Posted in: blogging , kids , parenting

If you buy anything with DRM, you are stupid

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And there’s another in the long list of music retailers who decided to turn off their DRM servers, effectively taking back the music you “bought”.

As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site.

WalMart is actually telling people to burn their DRMed music to cd so they don’t lose it. This is a pretty callous way of telling customers that WalMart doesn’t care about them. I don’t really understand how there can’t be a better solution. Is it really that hard for WalMart to leave a server running that just always says, “yes, you’re authorized”? It is increasingly clear to all those paying attention that any business model that depends on some sort of DRM is doomed to fail. And those who buy DRMed goods are doomed to lose them when the seller decides not to support it anymore. Let that be a lesson - DRM is anti-consumer. Always. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either mislead or lying.

Ooh, burned!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Messing with the Washington Wizards online saleschatter.

agravitz: Welcome to our real-time support chat. How can I help you today? Jon: When do single game tickets go on sale? agravitz: usually in early october have you ever thought about doing a ticket plan Jon: no, I don’t like the Wizards, I just want tickets to the Celtics game thanks though. agravitz: sure no problem

That's my daughter!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Originally uploaded by Nine Inch Nails
Official

No, not the picture. That’s clearly not my daughter. No, the wife was taking her to get her hearing tested and had some issues finding the place she had to go. The kid was fussing, so the wife turned on the radio, thinking she’d tune in a station that doesn’t exist, and maybe the white noise would calm the kid down.

Well, the last time I was in the car, I was listening to Nine Inch Nails, and that came on instead of the radio.

Sure enough, the kid stopped crying right away. I think she might have fallen asleep.

Posted in: Anti complaint , music , parenting

The first Google phone launches today

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unless you live under a rock (or don’t pay as much attention to gadget websites as I do), you probably know that TMobile is launching the first cell phone running Google’s Android operating system today. This is what open-source techno-hippies like me wish the iPhone was. Instead of a closed, proprietary system controlled by one company that hates you, it’s a totally open system, designed to run anything on any hardware, “controlled” by a company that loves making money (And only wants to own all your personal information in return). You won’t see any exclusivity contracts from Google, so it’s likely that Android will arrive on carriers that don’t suck soon. It looks like work is not going to buy me a Blackberry (jerks), which may end up being good for me, as I’d rather have an Android phone. Suggestions for convincing the wife that I need one are welcome. You will, however, see things like the Amazon MP3 store pre-loaded.

Amazon.com said this morning that its MP3 music store will be pre-loaded on the T-Mobile G1, the first phone to be powered by Android.

I think I'm awake

Monday, September 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

On the bright side, the kid met her great grandmother yesterday. She even behaved herself.

On the other hand, we are going to have to teach her that staying up until 2AM is moderately tolerable on the weekend, but highly frowned upon when Mommy has to take her to the doctor at 8AM the next day and Daddy has to go to work.

Like a poison dart frog, it's there to warn you away

Friday, September 19, 2008

The telltale signs will vary - a popped collar, big aviator glasses, whatever the well-dressed DC bar junkie with too much disposable income is using to woo unsuspecting (read: drunk) young women in Georgetown or Dupont - but it’s never too hard to pick out the douchebags. I know, that’s not a really nice word, but I can’t think of anything with a connotation that more closely matches the type of person I’m describing. Anyway, a few weeks back, a guy got on the 16th Street bus (At U St, big surprise) wearing jeans, an untucked button-down shirt, and aviator glasses. My first thought was, “Why do you wear those ridiculous glasses?”. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it did - I was annoyed that he looked like an idiot. But then I thought a little more. This guy is actually doing me a favor. There is no chance I want to talk to the guy. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I judged this guy, and I know I was right. His glasses, though, are a big warning sign. If he looked like a normal guy who didn’t spend an hour getting ready to go out, I might not know he was a douchebag without talking to him. I might actually waste thirty seconds talking to a guy I would most certainly want to punch. The poison dart frogs use their bright colors to warn away predators, screaming, “I’m poisonous! Don’t eat me!”. This guy uses his glasses to yell, “I’m annoying! Ignore me!”. This is really an important milestone in the evolution of the human race. In fact, if we wait another few generations, we may all self-identify ourselves so accurately that I will never have to talk to another useless person again. It will be easier when we all have location-aware social networking mobile computer/phones and you can check the Facebook profile of the person next to you on the bus. So, next time I see one of these guys, I won’t be so annoyed. In fact, I might even thank him for warning me.

Guest post at Vinotrip

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I have a guest post up at a friend’s blog while he’s “stepping out for a little bit”. Go check it out and make him jealous that my posts get more hits than his.

Posted in: guest blogger , wine

I might go into the office and take a nap

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I’m working from home today. In front of my house, they are jackhammering the street. Next door, they are cutting concrete. On the floor above me, the loudest cleaning lady in the Universe is still puttering along. It is truly amazing that the wife has managed to get the kid to sleep. Now if only I could actually get any work done.

Posted in: complaint , noise , work

If I don't admit I'm exhausted, maybe I won't be

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I’m back at work for the first time since the kid. It’s not fun. She was up really late last night. The wife tried to get her down so I could sleep before work, but at 2AM she needed some help. The kid and I fell asleep on the couch sometime around 2:30, and here I am at work by 8:15. I have a two hour meeting at 9:30, and a shorter meeting at 1, and then I’m going home. So maybe five more hours. On the bright side, it’s a pretty amazing feeling to listen to her slow down from screaming to crying to sleeping while I’m bouncing her up and down and whispering in her ear. In the long run, I suspect that’s what I’ll remember, rather than the sleepless nights.

As much as it sucks, we still have to pay the contracts they signed

Monday, September 15, 2008

When I first heard about the giant “golden parachutes” that were supposed to go to the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - in the neighborhood of $10 million each - I was pretty mad. After the government stepped in to bail them out, we, the taxpayers, were on the hook for these ridiculous firing bonuses. These two men had been in charge of the two companies when it was decided that they couldn’t go on without a government bailout - even if they didn’t start the practices that led them here, they certainly must have been aware of what was going on. Now, after their mismanagement and incompetence, taxpayers were going to pay them more than most of us will make in a lifetime. But then a friend pointed out that we can’t pick and chose which employee payments get made when disaster happens. The government has just stepped in and said, “We’re renegotiating the employment contracts retroactively because it’s too much money”. Partly I’m torn. It is really infuriating that these guys will get so much money for utterly failing at their jobs. It’s infuriating that we’ll have to pay for it. But it’s not the government’s place to come in and change the game at this point. Yes, the government is paying some or all of the bills. But if we wanted that sort of control over what happened at Fannie and Freddie, we should have created the Department of Secondary Mortgages. Then the “CEOs” would be appointees and we could make political statements and fire them without resorting to just telling them that the legal contracts they signed are null and void just because we say so.

Welcome to the world, Adelina

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Well, that was certainly an experience. At exactly 9AM Friday morning, Adelina Sheehy Renaut was born at the DC Developing Families Center in Northeast. It was pretty quick, as these things go - the wife went into labor around 7:15 PM Thursday, and we were at the birth center at 7:30 Friday. I’m not sure it felt so quick to her, though. The baby was 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and 21 ½ inches long. I think she has my eyes. We got a lot of puzzled looks from people when we told them we were doing a natural birth at a birthing center, with midwives instead of doctors. Not that I have anything to compare it to, but our experience was fantastic. Our doula, Heather Wilson, was amazing. I’m not sure I would have made it through the experience without her. A doula, for those that don’t know and won’t read the Wikipedia page, is basically a birth coach/assistant. She came to the house before we went to the birth center, and she sat with us and helped and gave advice and did everything you could possibly think of to make the experience easier for us. Then she came with us to the birth center, and worked with the midwives as if they’d known each other for years. She’s also responsible for most of the photos taken just after Addy (Addie?) was born.


Originally uploaded by thetejon

The birth center is really more like a hotel than a hospital. One of the frequent complaints I’ve heard from dads is that there is no place for the at the hospital. The best they can hope for is an uncomfortable chair. The birth center had a bed big enough for two, and also a great couch that I easily could have slept on if that had been necessary. It was a private room, with a private bathroom. And the midwives never left us. It wasn’t like a hospital doctor, who might check in now and again. At least one of our midwives, Sierra and Lisa, was there every moment until they gave us some time alone after the baby was born. And even then, Sierra was just down the hall, available whenever we needed her. And they never took her out of the room. The first time Addy left the room where she was born was when she left with us to come home around 7:30PM (Much earlier than they would have let us leave if we were at the hospital). So, all that to say, if you’re having a baby, or planning to have one soon, and don’t think there are options besides the hospital, there are. Check out the birth center. Talk to a doula. It’s pretty crazy, being a dad. I look at her and still have a hard time believing she’s my daughter. But she’s pretty amazing.

Cross-platform file syncing and storage

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Via Lifehacker, DropBox just came out of beta. Installing it gives you a folder on your hard drive that’s synced to their server. Any file you drop in there is automatically synced to any other computer you have registered with the service. It’s cross-platform - I have my work computer (running Windows XP) and my home computer (Ubuntu) connected, and file syncing between them seems to be flawless. There are tons of other ways to do this, but DropBox gives you two free gigs or lets you pay for more, and the interface is pretty sweet. In addition to the desktop folder, you can access your files from a web browser anywhere. It’s really nice to see the level of Linux support they’re offering. They’re not supporting all distributions, but how rare is it to see a service come right out of beta and already have a Linux version?

Fahey is back!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Orioles brought Brandon Fahey back up from Norfolk! He just tripled and scored in the third inning against Cleveland.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball

I never wanted to do business with Countrywide in the first place

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I’m among the many people who had their personal information sold by a Countrywide employee to some “third party”. I’ll share the first paragraph of the letter.

We are writing to inform you that we recently became aware that a Countrywide employee (now former) may have sold unauthorized personal information about you to a third party. Based on a joint investigation conducted by Countrywide and law enforcement authorities, it was determined that the customer information involved in this incident included your name, address, Social Security number, mortgage loan number, and various other loan and application information.

If this were happening to someone else, it would make me laugh on so many levels. First, the “employee (now former)”. It’s sad that they felt the need to specify that the employee is no longer employed. It’s sadder still that, had they neglected to mention it, many would have assumed that the employee was still there, undoubtedly selling more information to more third parties. Then, he/she “may” have sold. If you aren’t sure that my information was sold, how can you be sure what information was involved? And then to list all these things specifically and then add, “other loan and application information”. Have you ever applied for a home loan? It’s about a 7,000 page application. If this “third party” studies for a bit, he could email my mother and she’d think it was me. My favorite part is that I didn’t even set out to do business with Countrywide. Because of the ridiculous shell game that is the mortgage market in this country, I never went to Countrywide and asked for a loan. Sure, I signed papers allowing my lender to sell the loan or the servicing or whatever they did to Countrywide. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to do business with them. They end the letter with another apology.

We apologize again that this incident has occurred and for any inconvenience or worry it may have caused.

No, not “we apologize that we vet our employees like John McCain vets VP candidates (ZING!)”. Not “we’re really sorry we betrayed your trust and exposed you to identity theft”. Nope, they’re sorry it happened. They’re sorry you’re all freaked out and upset that someone has all sorts of personal financial information about you Apologizing for what happened without ever acknowledging that it was your fault is not an apology at all. Not once in the letter do they take any sort of responsibility. They “take [their] responsibility to safeguard your information very seriously”. Yes, they are very serious about offering two years of free credit protection once incidents like this happen. If that’s taking it seriously, I’d hate to see how they handle problems they don’t feel are very important.

Posted in: complaint , credit , money , stupid people

Running, cramping

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I went running today for the first time since before my surgery. Things were going great for the first mile and a quarter. My toe didn’t really hurt, and I was feeling pretty good. Then I got a leg cramp. I’ve never had one before from running. I talked to my sister, and she thinks it’s because “the surgery changed the biomechanics of [my] running”. That sounds feasible. I was trying to run normally on the bad foot, but I’m sure I wasn’t. But it was a good start. I ended up, according to Map My Run, running about 1.4 miles then walking 1.6. Next time I expect to do better. I don’t have much time to get ready for my 10K.

Posted in: complaint , fitness , health , running

Baby Never Forget

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No baby yet. I am becoming increasingly worried that we will have a baby born on September 11th. I mean, that wouldn’t be the end of the world, and it would attach a nice thing to that unfortunate date, but it really isn’t my first choice of birthdays for the kid. In any event, a friend told me yesterday that, if the baby is born tomorrow, we have to name it Never Forget. Or Rudy Bush. I was thinking, though, that if it was a girl we could probably get away with Neverina Forget. That has kind of a nice ring to it, huh? Or maybe Giuliana Bush. Edit to add: Another friend suggested FREEDOM GLORY. I like the all-caps. That means the baby will be forceful and confident. Feel free to add your own 9/11 baby name suggestions in the comments. If one of them makes me fall on the floor laughing, I promise to name the baby that. Thankfully, the wife will certainly veto this.

Clean bill of health for me, but no baby yet

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Just got back from the podiatrist - I am completely medically cleared to run, jump, dance, and generally frolic about on my surgically repaired foot. If you are looking for a podiatrist in the DC area, I highly recommend Dr. Ian Beiser. Every aspect of my experience with him and his practice was excellent, and I will definitely go back next time I’m in need of podiatric (is that a word? Firefox doesn’t think so, but Firefox’s dictionary is often a bit lacking.) services. That means I can play flag football this weekend if I’m up to it, and I can slowly start getting ready for my 10K next month (Although with about 30 days to go, I can’t imagine I’m going to be all that prepared). But there’s no baby yet. The wife has an appointment today, and maybe they’ll have something insightful to tell us, but as far as I know we’re just waiting. We have until September 24th before they’ll induce her, and I think that will be plenty of time. I’ve been trying to tell the kid about how great it is out here, but it doesn’t seem convinced.

The baby is officially late

Monday, September 08, 2008

The official due date has come and gone, and the house is still baby-free. That’s okay, because it’s perfectly normal for first-time mothers to be late. However, it’s not okay, because the wife would really like to be done with this whole pregnancy thing. And I’d really like to meet our kid. We’re not quite at the “spicy food and pineapple” stage, or any of the other crazy techniques to entice the kid to come out. For all you parents out there - did you do anything to get the kid to come out? I’d especially like to hear things that 1) worked and 2) are fun for me. Like, if you went out to a really nice dinner, maybe? Or I really like the suggestion that pregnant women should clean the floor on their hands and knees because it’s a good position to relieve pain from carrying the baby.

Posted in: complaint , kids , life , parenting

Beer and Babies

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

The baby has not yet arrived. The official due date is tomorrow, so that’s not exactly a surprise, but believe me when I tell you that the wife is ready. I’m pretty ready, too. What has arrived, though, is a big package of onesies from the wife’s family. Pictured here is the creation of one of the baby’s uncles-to-be. Please excuse the trademark-infringement. It really is the sincerest form of flattery. And Bell’s doesn’t actually sell onesies, so he’s not taking away a sale. The Bell’s Octoberfest, by the way, is quite nice. I recommend you try it if it’s available in your area. And if you work for Bell’s and are reading this because it showed up on your traffic logs, why not offer onesies? I can’t speak for everyone, but we’d definitely buy some.

Posted in: Anti complaint , beer , parenting

The worst inning in the history of the Universe

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thankfully I didn’t actually watch this, because there would be a giant hole in my TV right now. The Orioles started the eighth inning down 3-2 to the Athletics. No big deal, right? The O’s hit like crazy. One run is nothing. According to ESPN’s play-by-play, it went a little downhill from there. We start the inning with a walk, then a hit batter. That won’t do, so Brian Burres comes on in relief. Stolen base, walk, walk, and it’s 4-2. Burress is gone. Some guy I’ve never heard of comes in to pitch. Walk, walk, strikeout, walk, and it’s 7-2. The next pitcher gets a fly out and they’re almost out of the inning … Except for the grand slam. That is eight runs, ONE HIT, and no errors. Six walks and a hit batter. This is actually worse than the Redskins' performance last night. This is, in fact, worse than any performance in the history of sport. And this on the same day that ESPN announces our worthless manager will be back next year. Does anyone know the record for walks allowed in a year? Are we going to break it this year? If not, I’m sure we’ll get it next year. That’s something to shoot for. If you’ll excuse me now, I think I’m going to go curl up in the corner and cry until I’m an Angels fan.

Posted in: baseball , complaint

A baby present for me

Friday, September 05, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

I’ve been talking about this forever, and with birthday money from my grandmother burning a hole in my savings account an unexpected bonus from work, plus the imminent arrival of the new baby, I could no longer resist. To top it all off, it was on sale at Penn Camera through tomorrow. And the whole operation is wife-approved because she wants to steal the old camera. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

Nine points has never looked so bad

Friday, September 05, 2008

As promised, I have a few things to say about the Redskins' opening day loss to the Giants. In some sense I’m still in shock. You know how some teams have a great game plan, but just don’t have the personnel to pull it off? And some teams have all the talent in the world, and just keep banging their collective head into the wall? Last night, the Redskins displayed the worst of both worlds. They had neither the talent nor the plan, and the result was much worse than the score indicated. The two things that top my list of inexcusable faults are the tackling and the punting on fourth and short. The Redskins didn’t tackle. At all. Nearly every guy on the team managed at some point to get bowled over by Brandon Jacobs. Eli Manning made the linebacking crew look silly on his touchdown run. The punting was ridiculous. Not the performance of our rookie punter - he was fine. But the decisions to punt. I’m not a big fan of the punt in general. Sure, it has its place. But with less than three to go, I’d like to see coaches go for it more often than not. So what did Jim Zorn do? I lost track of how many times he punted on fourth and one or two. When the Redskins needed a change in momentum and they had the ball near midfield, did he challenge them to win the game? No, he gave it back to the Giants. Punting on fourth and one from your own 40 while down two scores in the fourth quarter is putting a big sign on your forehead that says, “I’m trying to keep this game close because I’ve given up on winning”. The only thing that saved this game from getting completely out of hand was Eli Manning’s lack of talent and Tom Coughlin’s stubborn refusal to run the ball. When your running back is averaging over five yards a carry and you have a lead, why would you even consider passing the ball? As a team, the Giants averaged 4.8 per carry, and that’s including Eli, credited with -1 yards on two rushes. If your average two rushes result in a first down, you never trail in the game, and you still call 35 passes, you’re a moron. The Redskins' lesser sins were in abundance, as well. I’m not sure why no one except me has ever noticed that Randle El is a terrible punt returner, but someone should really tell Zorn that. Watch every punt returned for a touchdown in the last 20 years. If more than one in ten involved as many changes in direction as the typical Randle El return, I’ll eat my hat. And it’s not like he doesn’t have a role model - Rock Cartwright is one of the most consistent kick returners I’ve ever seen because he gets the ball, finds a hole, and RUNS FORWARD. I don’t know why we didn’t cover Plaxico in the first half. A miserable throw from Eli when he was wide open probably cost him a touchdown in the first quarter. He consistently had no defenders anywhere near him as he caught pass after pass. I know Shawn Springs is out, and we lost Fred Smoot late in the game, but no one playing for an NFL team should get beaten that badly, every time. Now, the good news - the season has to go up from here! Also, we can look forward to the Giants returning to Earth after their Super Bowl win - if they had played a real team today, they would have lost. Badly. Jacobs will not continue to rush like that. And most offenses are not nearly that ineffective. So there’s still hope. And we still have the Tony Romo December meltdown to look forward to. The NFC East is still wide open.

Posted in: complaint , football , sports

The unintended consequences of blocking webmail

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

No matter how hard you try, you can’t effectively block anything on the internet. My favorite angry tech geeks just mentioned the great quote from John Gilmore, “the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” That’s not exactly what happened when they blocked webmail at work, but it might as well have been. There’s a free wifi signal in our building provided by the DC government. I have no idea why it’s there, or who it’s meant to serve, but it’s been great for me. However, it goes in and out a lot. You have to authenticate with an email address every time it drops you, and sometimes that would happen every few minutes. It could be really frustrating, especially when I really needed that connection. It was the only connection I had for the laptop where I do all my work, and when it wasn’t working, I couldn’t get to source control, I couldn’t do all sorts of necessary work tasks. So, when they blocked webmail on the official work network, the DC wifi took a beating. They started blocking on a Monday, and through Wednesday, the DC wifi was totally useless. Even when it would successfully authenticate me, it wouldn’t let me do anything. What happened next? Whoever runs that wifi network must have upgraded some equipment, because now that connection is better than it’s ever been. They must have gotten complaints from whoever is actually supposed to be using that network, and took steps to improve it. And now I have a pretty reliable connection. It hurts my argument that work needs to buy me a Blackberry, but I didn’t really need a Blackberry. In some sense, everyone wins here. People aren’t checking webmail on the official work network. As misguided a security policy as that is, it remains their right to block webmail. And I have a better uncensored connection that helps me be more productive at work. Clearly I’m not the only one using it, and the others undoubtedly benefit from the increased quality of the wifi service. More and more, we have to realize that everything is available on the internet. You can accept that, figure out how it affects your business, and move forward. Or you can waste resources fighting against it until you realize that no amount of censorship, lawsuits, or new laws will ever stop the flood of information.

Happy hour at Target?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I was just at Target at DCUSA picking up some aluminum foil and some other stuff so we (read: the wife) can cook stuff to freeze for quick post-baby dining. And also so I could cook some soy-free seitan (Note: URL is not safe for work. At least, if your work doesn’t like profanity. It’s probably safe, but I just like to warn people just in case). Anyway, school is clearly back in session. The escalator into Target was mobbed, and there were literally thousands of kids running around buying up dorm supplies. Well, maybe not thousands. But a lot. And I love that the vast majority seemed to be coming up the escalators, meaning that they walked or took the Metro rather than driving. Maybe that’s more a function of not owning cars than green city living, but I’ll take what I can get.

The walk is unforgivable

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I hate walks. I’d rather a pitcher give up a home run than a walk. If a batter hits a home run, he beat the pitcher. It happens. I understand that. But if a batter walks, the pitcher just blew it. There is no excuse for walking a batter. I knew the Orioles were playing above their heads for most of the season. They were expected to be bad, and they were in it for quite a while. But there was always something bothering me about the team. It turns out it’s the walks. They lead the American league with 582 walks allowed coming into this game, an average of 4.2 per game. 4.2! Some highlights from that:

  • “Closer” George Sherrill has 30 walks in 50 1/3 innings (5.4 walks per nine innings)
  • Fernando Cabrera - 16 in 27 innings (5.3 BB/9)
  • Jeremy Guthrie and Jamie Walker are the only players on the team who are below the league average of 3.3 BB/9
  • Dennis Sarfate has walked 60 in 74.3 innings - 7.3 BB/9! I mean, seriously. How is a team supposed to win like that? The offense has been pretty good. But none of the starters except Guthrie can make it through the fifth innings with any sort of regularity. As I type this, walk machine Radhames Liz (6 BB/9) has just exited the game in Boston after 3 and two thirds, the Orioles down 7-1. It’s pretty frustrating for the fans. Oh, look, home run by Dustin Pedroia and it’s 10-1, Sweet.
Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

A little weekend getaway

Monday, September 01, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

The wife had the brilliant idea of heading out on our 84th babymoon before this kid finally arrives. Not that it hasn’t traveled enough in utero - it’s been to San Fransisco, NYC, Paris, LA, Boston, Las Vegas, Nashville, three MLB stadiums, an NBA finals game … And now it’s been to a nice little bed and breakfast near Charles Town, WV. Our first stop was Harpers Ferry. We wandered around, had lunch, and took some pictures. We passed on the hiking, which is supposed to be nice, but since the wife is 39 weeks along, and my foot is still not totally recovered (The only shoes I can get on my foot at the moment are flip flops and my work shoes - my running shoes and hiking shoes both require more flexibility in my toe than I currently have), we didn’t walk too far. And there were a ton of people tubing on the river, which looked really nice. The B&B; is in a town called Berryville, which unfortunately closes down at 6pm. Since we arrived at about 4, we didn’t really get a good feel for the town. But we had a nice dinner in nearby Winchester. The B&B; itself was really nice. We’ve been encouraged to come back with the baby, as the proprietor is waiting to be a grandmother and has apparently tired of waited. However, it’s not a really large place, and the sound tends to carry a bit (I could hear Law and Order all the way down the hall, even with the door closed), so I’m not sure the rest of the guests would appreciate it. The next day, we were served a great breakfast and then we headed out. Our first stop was a consignment store in Charles Town. We passed it on the way in and it was closed, so we went back and bought some baby clothes and two books (One was a Harold and the purple crayon book, which perhaps only my mom will appreciate). Then we were off to the wineries! We stopped at three - Veramar, Bluemont, and Willowcroft. All three were very nice - much prettier than the average wineries. Bluemont, for example, is high up on a hill and offers a view of Tysons Corner thirty miles or so off in the distance. We stopped at the Leesburg outlets on the way back, which was probably a huge mistake given that it was Labor Day weekend, but we survived. And then back home. The cat didn’t even seem too irritated with us.

Posted in: things to do , travel

Would this business model work for writers?

Friday, August 29, 2008

I’ve spoken before about alternative business models for authors - some way to get paid for writing while at the same time embracing digital distribution and the economics of infinite goods. Techdirt talks about music artists getting fans to help pay for the creation of a new album - fans give money and the artist uses that money to produce the album. Then, the artist has some options for what to do with the music after it’s created, like selling cds or giving it away for free or whatever they want to do. This might work for writers, too. Not all writers, maybe. But let’s say you’re a talented writer without a book deal. You set up a blog and connect with people who love the type of books you want to write. Give away free short stories or excerpts from your novel-in-progress. Then take money to produce the book. People who donate maybe get a discount on a paper copy, or a signed paper copy, or whatever other non-scare goods you might be interested in producing. If you’re really good with your non-scare goods, you can give away the resulting ebook when you’re done writing. This builds more fans, and helps you get more money to produce the next book. I think it’s harder for authors to do this than musicians, because it’s harder for the author to come up with compelling non-scarce goods to sell. They have no equivalent of the live show (At least for the vast majority of authors). But at the same time, producing a book, especially an ebook, is vastly cheaper. In fact, with a little computer knowledge, it’s almost free. So what your fans are really paying for is your time more than the production of the book.

Wolf Blitzer needs to go

Friday, August 29, 2008

I hate to bring this up again, but Wolf Blitzer was worse last night than he has been previously. They were talking about Obama’s acceptance speech, which I thought was excellent. The confetti and fireworks were over, and someone on stage started some sort of closing prayer. Now, I’m not a religious person. And I don’t like mixing religion and politics. But if people are praying, you should be respectful. And most of the CNN talking heads were - someone suggested that they all shut up for a minute. That lasted for all of two or three seconds before Wolf started talking again! And about nothing! He was sending everyone to CNN.com for more information. Wolf Blitzer needs to be reminded every single day that anyone with good enunciation can do his job. Just because he’s well known does not mean that he’s important. The day robots can read cue cards is the day that Wolf Blitzer is redundant.

From the farmers market to your table at Poste

Friday, August 29, 2008

If you’re looking for a unique and interesting dinner in DC on a Thursday night, look no further. You have to make reservations in advance (Which requires a form. A form to fax in to get a dinner reservation. I feel so important.), and it books up (Although not last night), but the “To Market/To Market” dinner at Poste at Gallery Place is a fantastic way to spend a Thursday evening. We were supposed to go last week for our anniversary (My surprise for the wife, thanks to my coworker for the recommendation), but they were already booked. So we went tonight, and were the only ones doing the special dinner. The evening begins with greetings from the chef and your server. Then you’re whisked off to the farmers market across the street. We got a tour from the guy who runs it, and got to hear about all the different farmers who sell things there, and a little about what they sell. It’s a very warm and inviting atmosphere. And there’s a good chance you’ve eaten food from there even if you didn’t go yourself - many DC chefs show up there at opening with huge carts to take back to their respective restaurants. After the tour, we got a tour of the garden at Poste, which is inside their charming little courtyard, just past people drinking fruity martinis and glasses of wine. They grow all sorts of stuff to supplement what they buy. We got to taste their spinach leaves, which the chef picked while we were standing there. And then dinner. It’s a little pricey, and the organic wine pairing is also not cheap, but it’s a ton of food, and it’s delicious. We started with amuse-bouche. There was a salmon tartar with dijon mustard in a funny sweetish cone that was really good. My favorite was the yellowtail with fruit. They had fried squash blossom with cheese, and a very salty oyster. The second course was a gazpacho that I didn’t like very much. But the wife thought it was great, so I conclude that I just don’t like gazpacho. Next was a tomato salad, which was great. Different kinds of tomatoes, prepared different ways, with some fresh cheese from the market. And then fish with a mushroom sauce for me, and a pistou (Apparently French pesto - who knew?). Which brings me to another point - I mentioned when making the reservation that the wife eats seafood but no other meat, and that she can’t stand mushrooms, and they made sure not to serve her either one. That was followed by the “main course”. All the courses were small, but it ended up being plenty of food. I suppose that’s what happens when you have so many courses. Anyway, my main course was rabbit, which was delicious. I would never have ordered rabbit if I were choosing from a menu, but it was good. A little more meaty than chicken, I thought. The wife had ravioli with cheese and nettles from the garden, which was also delicious. That’s the hidden benefit of a partner who doesn’t eat meat - if your dinner has meat in it, you can taste hers and not share yours. Marry a vegetarian who can cook, kids - you won’t regret it. And finally the dessert course. There was a cheesecake with blackberries and sweet corn ice cream (Yes, I know that’s weird. Yes, it was good). There was a chocolate mousse, and olive oil cake with rosemary, dates, and creme fraiche ice cream. Just when we thought we were done, they brought out peaches, poached in paper, with a honey cheese sauce. They were fantastic, as well. And on the way out, they gave us little mason jars, one with pickled heirloom tomatoes, and one with apricot jam. If I did it again, I might skip the wine pairing. They were all good - I was especially surprised by the muscat that they served first, because I don’t generally like sweet wine, but it was very light and pleasant. But the wines were all white or rose. I would have liked a nice dry red. I suppose it doesn’t pair with summer vegetables, but they could make up an excuse and no one would call them on it. Except maybe super food snobs, and no one cares what they think, anyway. I wish I’d written down the wines we had (Well, I had, and the wife tried. It’s funny - the tables are high enough that you can’t really see that she’s pregnant), but I didn’t think to bring a notepad. The service was great. We got a lot of attention from a number of different people, and never had to wait long when we needed a server. The atmosphere in the restaurant was good, although the bathroom is quite a hike (Through the hotel lobby, around the corner, up the stairs, down the hall). The bar had a very Happy Hour crowd, although it wasn’t unpleasant. At the end of the night, we were quite happy with our evening. It was a lot of money, but it was also a lot of food, all of it delicious (Unless you don’t like gazpacho). If you love white wines and some sweetish light reds, go for the wine pairing, but if you’re more of a dry red person, you’re probably better off ordering your own wine. But we would definitely go back. And I think we’ll be visiting the farmers market sometimes, too - it’s nice to know about a market during the week, since so many are open only on a weekend day.

Go check out Mozilla Ubiquity

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yesterday, Mozilla Labs introduced Ubiquity, “An experiment in connecting the web with language”. It’s a lot like Launchy or Gnome-Do, except different. Install Ubiquity into Firefox and then hit the shortcut keys to launch Ubiquity, and then start typing. You can search Google, post to Twitter, send an email - all through an intuitive command-line interface. It’s not for everyone - if you spend all your time pointing and clicking, you may not like using the keyboard this way. But for those of you who use the mouse only when you really need it, this may revolutionize the way you use your browser. Remember, the browser knows a lot about you. If you’re signed in to Gmail, for example, and you find a great webpage you want to share with your friend, you don’t have to know your friend’s email. Just type, “email ” and then your friend’s name - Gmail will find the address, and copy the url for the page into a new email to your friend. And this is just the beginning - there are already tons of user-created scripts available, and it’s pretty easy to create your own. There’s even a tutorial. And lest you think I forgot to get in a dig on Microsoft, ye of little faith, let me remind you that this is the sort of functionality that will be in Internet Explorer 17, due to be released around the time your great-great-grandchildren are colonizing Mars. If you’re in Firefox now, install Ubiquity now. If you aren’t, get Firefox first, then install Ubiquity. And if you find or write any really cool scripts for it, be sure to let me know.

What would happen if the airline industry failed?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I’ve often wondered if we wouldn’t be better off in the long run if a significant chunk of the airlines went out of business. It would suck for a while, but it would really open up the market for innovation and new ideas. Today, Techdirt wonders the same thing.

… people seem to take for granted what cheap and readily available air travel allows. It touches on so many different businesses that it’s hard to fathom how deep the eventual impact would be if air travel needs to be significantly curtailed in the future.

The whole flying experience is pretty unpleasant these days. And a lot of that is TSA’s fault, and I’m hoping that maybe a new President might come in and remind TSA that the enemy is actually people trying to hijack or blow up planes, not people with unfortunate names, liquids, and underwire bras. But a lot of it is the airlines' fault, too. The incessant nickel-and-dime charges are pretty annoying. Customer service is often lacking, like when I was told they would hold our connecting flight, even though I knew I would miss it, and we ended up staying at a hotel at the airport in Milwaukee instead of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the night. Some new airline innovation would be really nice. But in order to get there, it may take a few years of transportation (and shipping) misery first. As an aside - could someone please comment on a post? Any post? The total number of comments for the site right now is 666, and that’s just bad karma.

Do you ever Google yourself?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you ever typed your name into a search engine? I have a relatively unusual last name, at least outside of French-speaking countries, so most of the results for my name are actually me. That’s kind of nice. Then, earlier this evening, a friend told me, “you aren’t that hard to find on teh intrawebs”. That got me thinking - I wonder what else is out there? For the first time, I googled my usual screenname, thetejon, which I’ve used for most everything ever since I had my first AOL account. The results are pretty impressive. Some of the most interesting: Wedding Toasts for the Groom - a blog post that used a picture of me giving a toast at the wedding of one good friend to another. 2006 October PUNK Blogs & News @ PROPUNK.COM! - I suspect this site runs scripts to scrape content tagged with “punk” from wherever it can find it and hopes to generate ad revenue. The picture they got is actually of my cat. большое спасибо мите за лицензионный balance 005 - a LiveJournal entry linking to one of my photos from Costa Rica. The entry is not in a language I’m familiar with. Perhaps you are. So, there you go. Think about that next time you do something stupid on the internet. Google doesn’t forget.

Posted in: fame , internet , strange

Forget playing, this mouse is having Five Guys

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The wife having dinner with a coworker down on U Street is a perfect reason to venture over to everyone’s favorite greasy bag of french fries, Five Guys. I’m not sure how Columbia Heights survived without them. Of course, Five Guys isn’t really helping my waistline. And the months of relative inactivity since I stopped running due to the bunion help even less. But soon that will be no more! I wore shoes yesterday, and today my flip-flops were nearly comfortable. I’ll give shoes another try tomorrow as I actually have to go into the office. And that means I can get back to running soon. I have a 10K in six weeks that I’m woefully unprepared for, so that should help a lot. It would certainly be embarrassing if it turned out that I’ve gained more weight than the wife in the last nine months.

Is this even legal?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don’t really know much about the law surrounding this, so I have assume that the LPGA is within its legal rights to require all members to speak English. I mean, they have lawyers, and I imagine the lawyers approved this. But it sure doesn’t sound that cool.

“The economy is bad, and we are losing sponsors,” [golfer Seon-Hwa Lee] said, according to the report. “Everybody understands.”

I can understand the LPGA’s motivation. They are in the business of selling women’s golf, and if their players can’t communicate in the target market, it makes their job more difficult. I get that. But surely there’s a way to increase the marketing appeal of the sport that’s a little more tolerant. It would be interesting to see a once-in-a-lifetime golfer come through who doesn’t speak English and refuses to learn. I bet the LPGA would back down before alienating a potential superstar.

Posted in: complaint , intolerance , sports

Experimental new stuff from Mozilla

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remember when Internet Explorer was pretty much the only browser out there? Yeah, me neither. IE has always sucked, and IE7, touted as competing with the newer browsers, is really just playing catch-up. And not actually ever catching up. Over at the Mozilla Labs Blog, they have a little video about experimental browser changes for Firefox. The idea is to anticipate your actions in the browser and offer no-cost assistance. That is, when I open a new tab, if my browser could offer me options, like a search bar, instead of a blank page, there is no cost to me, and it may streamline my browsing experience. Anyway, it’s a cool video, and it demonstrates one more time how far Microsoft has fallen in terms of innovation.

Get over yourself, CNN

Monday, August 25, 2008

Would someone please remind CNN again that they report the news, they are not news themselves. This convention is about Barack Obama and the future of our country, not Wolf Blitzer and additional information at CNN.com. Anyway. Kind of cool that they’ve been embedding the commercials inside the border showing the schedule and whatnot, so you can always see the dumb factoids that CNN thinks you should be aware of. We’ll be seeing more of this in the future.

Posted in: complaint , news , politics , television

Is everyone holding their breath for Obama?

Monday, August 25, 2008

What is going on with the news today? I don’t usually read mainstream news sources, figuring that if it’s important, either someone’s blog will mention it, the wife will mention it, or my office-mate will read about it in the Express. But today, my RSS feed was so devoid of anything interesting that I went to the Washington Post website to see if anything interesting had happened. Almost the entire front page is dedicated to whatever Obama is going to do tonight, and I just can’t get myself to care. I made up my mind long ago that I was voting for him. And at this point, he would pretty much have to tear off his face and reveal himself as a chupacabra or space alien or something to get me to change my mind.

Actually, I would vote for either of those ahead of McCain so long as they promised to try and undo some of the damage to the country that Bush and Co. have done. And listening to the news anchors talk about President Chupacabra would be fun, too. I think I also can’t get interested because I just can’t (or maybe won’t) imagine how McCain could possibly win. I may be naive. Considering the lukewarm response to his “I forget how many houses I own” remark, coming during the lowest point in the real estate market in my adult lifetime, it’s a strong possibility. Anyway, I suppose we’ll watch some of whatever is going on tonight. Maybe it will even be interesting. And maybe tomorrow the news will be back to normal.

Posted in: complaint , news , politics

Your job is more interesting than mine

Monday, August 25, 2008

I can’t be the only one who constantly finds that most other jobs seem more interesting than mine. It doesn’t help that I’m going through a frustrating time at work where we’re understaffed as we’re expanding, so I get to deal with a ton of customers who aren’t that happy with us because we’re pushing back deadlines. And I generally like my job. I’m paid very well relative to how hard I have to work, the company treats me like a person, and I like my coworkers. But there are so many other jobs that sound cooler. For example, I’ve recently rolled over an old 401K into a new IRA, which means I can do a little playing in the market. So I’ve been reading market articles here and there, and I read about a “planned coup” at Lehman Brothers, and a lowball offer for a competitor by Precision Drilling Trust. These things sound exciting! And then you have the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac disaster, and the general unrest in the financial industry, plus releasing earnings statements … All I have here are annual budget submissions. It pales in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a day trader or a fund manager or anything like that. That sounds distinctly like work. What I’d really like is for someone to pay me for offering uninformed insight on the market. That would be pretty cool.

You probably just helped her book sales

Monday, August 25, 2008

Unshelved points us to a story about a librarian getting fired for writing a book about library patrons. Since the book is easy to find on Amazon, I have to think that her sales are going to go up based on the loss of her job.

Posted in: angry people , overreaction

A hub of Central American culture

Monday, August 25, 2008

In the Post today, via my mom, there are improvements coming to the strip of 14th Street north of Park. For some of you, that may just be “the area around the Red Derby”. But keep an eye out for some new stuff.

[the Mid-14th Street Business Association], in conjunction with a District-based nonprofit organization, the Latino Economic Development Corp., has begun an effort to add fresh layers of paint and new signs to many of the businesses. The business association also plans to launch seminars catered to the shop owners starting in September. Rosemarie Salguero, executive director of the association, said one of the goals is to brand the area as a hub of Central American culture.

If I’m lucky, maybe a Costa Rican restaurant will open up and serve some nice casados and gallo pinto.

I'm wearing a left shoe!

Monday, August 25, 2008

It will be six weeks on Wednesday since I had my foot surgery, and today I wore two shoes to work. For many of you, that may not seem like a big deal. You probably wear two shoes to work every day. But try only wearing one for a while. Better yet, try only wearing one because your foot is so swollen that it won’t fit into the shoe. Then you’ll see. So the foot is a little uncomfortable in the shoe, but not terrible. And I brought the boot, just in case. But I’m hoping to make it through the day with my shoe on.

Posted in: Anti complaint , health , life

Buy my stuff!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blue Complaint Hub Shirt

You may have noticed a new section in the right sidebar - Merchandise! Inspired by a friend, I have made Complaint Hub t-shirts! And you can buy them! And, just in case the sheer awesomeness of the shirt isn’t motivation enough to buy one, the first person I see wearing one who I don’t know in person at the time of seeing the shirt will be entitled to a beer at CommonWealth on me. Or, something of more or less equivalent value if you happen to not drink beer for whatever reason. So, current friends and family are not eligible for this offer. But all of you locals reading the site hoping I’ll go off on another rant about DC parking enforcement are! If you have ideas for how I could make the shirt better, feel free to share. A graphic designer I most certainly am not.

Giant's okay, but the customers are crazy

Saturday, August 23, 2008

There’s been a big discussion over at the Columbia Heights Forum about the relative merits of Giant vs Harris Teeter, the two major grocery stores serving Columbia Heights. I would argue that the Whole Foods on P does, too, but whatever. The argument boils down the fact that Giant is union, but the service is awful. Harris Teeter is not unionized, but they have shorter lines and friendlier staff. I won’t really get into the argument, because I’ve had quite enough of it at the forum, but I thought I’d relate my experience at Giant this morning. I went out to get milk for coffee and a lemon for delicious lemon-cornmeal pancakes. I would have gone to Hi Market, except they often don’t have fat-free milk, and I didn’t have any cash. So I walked to Giant. It wasn’t terribly crowded, although another checkout lane might have been nice. Still, at 9AM Saturday, it was acceptable. And I moved through the line pretty quickly. The cashier was pleasant if not outgoing. The problem I had was with another customer. I passed her on my way to the milk, and she was talking to someone, and while I didn’t hear what they were saying, the dynamic of the conversation seemed strange. It appeared that the guy she was talking to didn’t really want to be talking to her, but was too polite to walk away. I didn’t think much of it. I grabbed the milk and turned around to pass her again. I was walking on the wrong side of the aisle, as that’s where the milk is, and she was coming towards me with her cart in the middle of the aisle. She actually jerked her cart abruptly to the side so she was coming straight for me! “Excuse me,” she said sweetly. Excuse you? You intentionally moved across the aisle to try and run me down with your cart! I have an injured foot! Well, it’s not all that injured any more, but I still can’t wear a regular shoe because my foot swells during the day. But it hampers my mobility. So, everyone employed by Giant was just fine this morning, but I could do without the crazy customers.

Just because HDTVs are cheap now doesn't mean your child needs one

Friday, August 22, 2008

Have you ever ridden in an elevator with a little TV screen provided by The Captivate Network? There’s one in the elevator at my office. I like to watch because it makes me forget that I’m in an elevator (As faithful readers know, I hate elevators). It also occasionally has some interesting things, like little news tidbits and weather. Today, I was coming back from lunch, and the screen showed a “gadget review”. They mentioned a 32" Samsung HD TV. They mentioned that it was perfect for any dorm room. At the bottom was the price. $850. What college student could possibly need an $850 television in his/her dorm? Do you know how big the TV was in my college dorm? 13 inches. And I turned out just fine. Seriously, parents, if you buy your college student an $850 TV, you are a bad parent. College is about being poor and trying to hook up with as many people as possible. If you’re spending a lot of time in your room watching a huge TV, you’re doing it wrong.

Clicking ads is not saying thank you

Friday, August 22, 2008

I like reading Seth Godin’s blog. It’s generally interesting, and he talks about marketing in a very general sense that applies to more than just “professional” marketers. It probably even applies to you. But today I think he is absolutely wrong. He says that you should click on ads to say thank you for good content. Let’s list the reasons why this is not what you should do. First, you’re tipping with someone else’s money. If you want to give the author 10 cents for a good blog post, great. I’m sure he or she will appreciate it. But when you click on an ad (And we’re assuming no interest in buying, if you’re actually looking to buy it’s different), you’re giving the author someone else’s 10 cents. Sure, that person left piles of dimes out, but they left them with the understanding that you’d take one and give it to the blogger only if you really wanted to look at what was being advertised. Second, you are actually putting the blog author’s account at risk - ad sellers take click fraud very seriously, and if tons of people click an ad then immediately leave the advertiser’s site, the ad seller is going to get suspicious. Third, you are under absolutely no obligation to support the business model chosen by the blogger. If the ad doesn’t speak to you, ignore it. If they can’t make a living without your ad click, then perhaps they need to rethink the business they’re in. There is a demand for quality content, and it is definitely possible to be compensated for creating it, even without advertising. If you see an ad for something that interests you, and you think you’d like to know more about the product or service, by all means click the ad. That’s what it’s there for. But if you have no intention of learning more about what’s being advertised, and you certainly aren’t going to buy anything, then just skip the ad. By the way, note that I did not say that clicking an ad with no intention to buy is stealing. It’s not. As I mentioned, the advertiser has put the pile of dimes out there for you to take and give to your favorite blogger. And yes, you have no obligation to support the business model of the advertiser any more than that of the blogger. But if we want to talk about honoring the writer, then we need to talk about honoring the advertiser, too. Edit to add: He’s posted again, clarifying his position, because apparently I’m not the only one who disagreed. I still don’t entirely agree, but the second post is much better than the first.

Posted in: complaint , internet

Record labels are stupid

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

For whatever reason, NIN.com has a really crazy archive system, so this link may not work for you, but apparently someone has released an old NIN album on vinyl without Trent’s knowledge or approval.

You may have heard there’s a new re-release of The Downward Spiral on vinyl. I heard that, too. I have no idea what it is or what’s on it because the band has had no involvement in it.

How typical of the music industry - a band finds new ways to make money without treating fans like criminals, and some label that has rights to older music decides that it’s going to support the artists by cutting them out of the loop. Way to go, record label! That’ll show everyone that you’re still relevant!

Posted in: complaint , music , stupid people

When friends show they care

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

None of you will get this at all, but I have to share. It really means a lot when a friend spends $10 just to make fun of you. Case in point - Sony Complain Thub. It all started with a thread on our super secret private forum where we complain about our wives talk about sports. The thread was about the Patriots, and it came up that I was rooting for them in the last Super Bowl. This is because I am a Redskins fan, and I would root against the Giants if they were playing absolutely anyone except the Cowboys, and in certain situations, even then. Anyway, this came as a surprise to some. I responded thusly:

I really don’t think there’s anything the Patriots could do that would make me root for the Giants or the Cowboys. Maybe if they went two tight ends with Winslow and Shockey, changed the team name to the Sony Complain Thub, and violated the GPL a couple hundred times. I mean, I still hate the Patriots, and it was like rooting to lose an eye vs lose both eyes, but a Pats win would still have been preferable to me.

Of course, that was a small bit of hyperbole, and a large bit of inside joke, but still, relevant to the link that you may or may not have clicked above.

Posted in: Anti complaint , friends , funny

Blackberry research and crazy Verizon saleschatters

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Since our webmail got blocked, I’ve been hoping that work would provide me an alternative internet connection. The best solution from my perspective would be if they would pay the difference between my cell phone plan now and a Blackberry that can be used as a modem for my laptop. So, I was doing some research at Verizon’s website, and a helpful salesperson popped up and offered to assist me. Here’s the transcript of the chat. My comments are in red.

Chat InformationPlease wait for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience! Chat InformationA Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with Elisha Definitely picturing this Elisha Elisha: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today? You: I have a couple questions You: first, is there a way to make this chat window pop up whenever I want? Elisha: How can I help you with your order? Elisha: Yes, by going to contact us. That is a dirty lie. I tried that. I wish you weren’t a liar, Elisha. You: is it only available certain hours of the day? Elisha: The sales chats are open 8 am to 11 pm. Elisha: How can I help you with your order? You: what’s the difference in the two data plans listed with the Blackberry Curve? Elisha: The $ 29.99 only give you unlimited access to the web and access to personal emails. Elisha: The $ 44.99 gives you unlimited access to the web and unlimited access to business/personal emails. Plus it comes with the tether feature where you can use the phone as a modem. Elisha: Which is best for you? You: so for 29.99 you can’t use it as a modem? What needs to be included in order for that to work? Elisha: Yes, that is correct. Elisha: You can hook the phone up to the laptop to use the phone as a modem. That doesn’t really answer my question, Elisha. Elisha: What key features in a cell phone are most important to you? I already told you I wanted the Curve (Although I really want the Bold, but it’s not out yet) You: I’m curious why I can’t use the phone as a modem on the 29.99 plan. You: it seems to me that bandwidth is bandwidth, and Verizon shouldn’t care what I do with it Elisha: You can’t , you are not paying for that feature with the $ 29.99. Elisha: I am sorry the feature alone is $ 15.00. Elisha: That is the way that the plan is set. Elisha: I am sorry. Elisha: Are you looking to order online today? You: well, I’m sure it’s not your fault You: no, I’m trying to get work to approve the upgrade Elisha: Yes, thanks for understanding. Elisha: Okay. Elisha: I understand, are you sure you don’t want to take advantage of our free shipping and instant online discounts today? You’re starting to sound like a used car salesman here, Elisha You: no, thanks. You: you’ve answered all my questions, thank very much Elisha: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day! Thanks for kicking me off the chat as soon as it became clear you weren’t getting a commission! Elisha: You are very welcome!

Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous that I can’t use the phone as a modem without paying the extra $15. If I pay for the bandwidth, why does it matter if I’m using the phone itself, or my laptop through the phone? I know, Verizon has a right to charge me whatever they want. I’m not arguing that they can’t charge me, I’m arguing that it makes them big fat jerks. And Elisha was pretty annoying. I went to her to find an answer to a question that I couldn’t find anywhere on the website. When I didn’t want to buy today, she blew me off. This is a bad salesperson. And I will probably buy through a Verizon brick and mortar store because of my experience. Take that, Verizon’s website!

Posted in: complaint , gadgets , internet

The (unborn) baby likes me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The wife was sitting on the couch just now, so I thought it would be a good time to go have a little chat with our unborn child. I had been reading to it now and then. It is said that a story that the baby hears over and over before it’s born will have a calming effect on the baby once it comes out. But I’ve been slacking a little in my reading. So I offered to read the baby a story tonight. I offered again, asking it to move if it wanted a story. It kicked me in the nose! The baby clearly wants a story tonight. And a story it shall get!

Posted in: life , parenting

BMI is bunk

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I’ve said many times before that we should stop computing BMI (Body Mass Index), we should stop basing any sort of judgments on it, and we should just stop even remembering that it exists. It’s a terrible measure of health, and it mistakenly classifies all sorts of people as healthy or unhealthy. Well, now I can say the same thing again. But this time with science! Chad Orzel, physicist and new father, says:

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever put the stats for their favorite pro athlete into a BMI calculator (you want to tell Michael Strahan he’s obese?), but it’s nice to see it holds more widely.

He references a NYT article that I won’t bother to read because, frankly, the NYT gets on my nerves. But it says just what I said above - if you use BMI to judge a person’s health, you’re going to be wrong much of the time.

Posted in: fitness , health , stupid people

Two years ago today

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon
Photo by Terp and Associates

August 19th, 2006 seems like a very long time ago, and also no time ago at all.

Here’s to many, many more happy years of marriage.

Posted in: Anti complaint , life

Not a meaningful distinction

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The [Devil] Rays played the Angels last night. The Rays came into the game 75-48, tied with the Cubs for the second best record in the Majors. They were behind only the Angels at 76-46. This is a 1.5 game differential. So why on earth is the headline on the front page of ESPN.com for this article Rays top MLB-best Angels? If the Rays were their normal selves, sitting 25 games out, then sure, this is significant. But do you know what they call it when the second best team in the league beats the best team in the league? They call that baseball. Or normal. I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I’m already annoyed with ESPN for their full page splash screen ads that have been popping up recently. Of course, now I’m possibly sending a little bit of traffic their way, so this is probably a pretty stupid response to my annoyance. But never mind.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Once again, I'm reminded why I hate Microsoft

Monday, August 18, 2008

I just spent about three hours this morning trying to debug something at work. It turns out the issue shows up in Excel 2003, which our customer is using, but not Excel 2007, which I have on my laptop. This just goes to show you how important it is to mimic the customer’s environment as closely as possible. Anyway, I figured that part out, so now I had to decipher the error message when I tried to open the file in Excel. XML Spreadsheet warning in Table Reason: Bad Value Okay, sounds simple enough. I just have to find the bad value, and fix it. Excel didn’t offer me any advice, so I figured I’d try MSDN, Microsoft’s developer reference. You’d think that, since I was using a Microsoft product on a Microsoft operating system, maybe Microsoft might have some idea what the error message meant. As an aside, can I tell you how frustrating it is to have Excel tell me that the error has been printed to a log file hidden deep inside some Windows hidden temporary directory? Not only does it fail to provide me with a link to the file, but because it’s hidden, I can’t navigate through Windows Explorer, and I have to actually type the file address in manually. I can’t even copy the text from the error window! It’s like someone intentionally made it as hard as possible to look at the log. Anyway, there were ZERO results on MSDN. Zero. I’m forced to conclude that I am the only person who has ever had this problem. There isn’t any other explanation. It’s inconceivable that Microsoft could possibly have just ignored this error message, never once mentioning it anywhere that their vaunted search engine was able to look. It turns out the error was reasonably simple - Excel 2003 only allows 30 values in a sum. It will handle more if you use the range (A1:A40), but you can’t list the cells individually (A1, A2, A3 …). Excel 2007 doesn’t have a problem. Interestingly, if you use plus signs instead of the sum function, the limit of 30 goes away. Which is probably how I’m going to work around this. But couldn’t that have been in the error message? “We’re sorry, you can only have 30 cells in a formula”. Look, that was really easy. So, I hope the next person who has trouble deciphering an Excel error message find this post and saves some time. And I hope the people responsible for the idiocy on which I wasted the last three hours are all hit by a bus. Well, not really. Not a real bus. A three hour bus of mental anguish. That sound perfect.

Posted in: complaint , computers , the devil

Infinite goods want to be DRM-free!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I’ve gotten into a little discussion on DRM and ebooks over at Feedbooks. If you’re interested in potential business models for authors in a world of infinite goods, hop on over there and join the discussion. Especially if you can contribute more than me (That is, if you can do more than parrot what you read on Techdirt).

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It’s not often you can bring up Starship Troopers (The movie more than the book in this case) while talking about television and the internet and how they interact (or don’t). I was reading Ethan Kaplan talking about the tv in his house goes beyond just displaying channels coming through his cable box or movies from his DVD player.

Like it or not, television has become an interactive experience, but not because the broadcasters did anything to curate that. If anything, broadcasters have been sitting on their hands in terms of the possibilities of the bandwidth and platforms they helped put in our homes!

He grabbed my intention by bashing Internet Explorer 6, a plague on web developers that refuses to die, but then he talks about how he watches tv with one eye on the internet. And that’s where Starship Troopers comes in. The movie handles background information by showing little news clips, as if you’re watching tv in the movie’s universe. At the end, the narrator asks, “Would you like to know more?”. I always took that to mean that viewers could somehow interact with the tv and direct it to provide more on whatever they were just watching. And that was 1997. The tv stations still haven’t figured this out. For example, when I watch sports, I usually have my laptop out. Not that I ever put my laptop away, but whatever. If I’m watching the Orioles, I usually have the box score open at ESPN.com on the autorefresh. That way I have instant access to the starter’s pitch count, what this batter did in his last at bat, and all sorts of other relevant stuff. I probably have a browser tab on Baseball Reference to look up more unusual stats, or maybe check something the announcer just mentioned. There’s no reason this has to be separate from my tv-watching. We have a big tv in the living room. It might annoy the wife, but there’s no reason I couldn’t have extra stat feeds running along with the baseball game, or or maybe something else of interest. The issue is probably one of money - the cable providers are afraid of new revenue streams.

Display advertising, temporal advertising (commercials), usage based charges and other economic systems aren’t in tune with nascent usage and thus we have not only an uncapitalized usage system, but also a rather anarchic one.

Not that they’re afraid of new ways of making money, but that they’re afraid of losing control. The old ways of making money with tv are broken. That’s why there have been so many efforts to keep DVRs from skipping commercials and things like that. You don’t have a captive audience anymore. If you bore people, they’re going to do something else. So you have to embrace what people want.

Finally made it to Commonwealth

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

A friend and I met our wives at Commonwealth last night. It had been girls night - they met up in Arlington and had dinner. So the guys went to the Nationals game to watch the Rockies pummel the Nationals, I still haven’t seen a Nationals win in the new stadium. Anyway, since the wife is 37 weeks pregnant now, she got to choose the location, and she chose one near us. It was a beautiful night, so we sat outside. This means I didn’t really get a feel for the inside, but maybe we can do that next time. They were serving from their pub menu since it was late. We got an order of fries, which I didn’t actually try, but the table consensus was positive. They are large chunks of potato, so if that’s the way you like your fries, you’re in luck. And we tried the Scotch eggs, which were very good. And the service was good. I think my only complaint was the lack of any sort of description on the menu. We thought at first it was just the pub menu that didn’t have descriptions, but they brought us what I assumed was the regular menu, as well, because it had the drinks, and it didn’t have descriptions, either. Since there is a ton of stuff on the menu that’s a bit out of the ordinary, at least for this side of the pond, it seems that maybe descriptions on the menu would be nice. But if that’s the biggest complaint from a self-proclaimed complainer, I think the trip was a resounding success. I’m sure we’ll be back - my father-in-law has already been informed that there is a bar with outdoor seating and bubble and squeak on the menu, so it would take the intervention of the health department or some equally powerful entity to keep us from revisiting Commonwealth next time he comes down to visit.

The little brother is off to law school

Friday, August 15, 2008

My baby brother is leaving today for law school on the other side of the country. It’s a pretty mixed feeling for me. On one hand, I’m obviously happy and excited for him. Law school is a great opportunity, and it should be a great experience, and I’m glad he’s figuring out what he wants to do with his life. On the other hand, I’d kind of gotten used to him being close by, playing on the flag football team, and all that. Plus, he’ll be in Arizona when his first niece or nephew is born next month. Luckily, I’ll be at happy hour when his plane leaves today, so I can have a drink for him. I think he’ll appreciate that.

Posted in: Anti complaint , complaint , family , life

Where's the media love for this guy?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was just reminded of Brad Ziegler by a post at It Is About the Money, which is a Yankees blog but not obnoxiously so. Anyway, Ziegler still hasn’t ever given up a run in the major leagues. 29 games, 38 innings, zero runs. He broke a 100 year old record for scoreless innings to start a career 13 innings ago. But you barely hear anything about him. I haven’t seen him on the front page of ESPN at all. I know Oakland isn’t New York or Boston, but if this guy played for the Yankees or Red Sox, he would be on SportsCenter every 34 seconds. I wonder how many innings he has to pitch without giving up a run to get some attention? Maybe after the Olympics are over. Edit to add: It was less than three hours from the time this post went up until his streak ended. I feel like I jinxed it. That sucks.

Posted in: baseball , strange

Your government at work - 16th and U to get a makeover

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You may recall that I was nearly killed in a crosswalk not too long ago. No, not that time, this was another time when I was nearly killed in a crosswalk. Before my foot surgery (And again as soon as it’s healed enough, which should be soon), I walked to work with the wife every day. We had a few “incidents” at 16th and U, where cars like to turn onto New Hampshire without yielding to pedestrians. I understand that the traffic pattern is a little confusing, but it’s still a problem. So I emailed my councilmember, the often-helpful Jim Graham, and asked him to do something about it. I didn’t hear much for a while, until yesterday when I got an email from a member of his staff.

I apologize for the delay. I misfiled your email. I am forwarding this to the pedestrian safety coordinator so that he can evaluate options for increased enforcement here. Councilmember Graham reported a new law out of his committee that will increase fines to $250 for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. The bill also requires that signs be posted to warn motorists. This law will come before the Council for final vote on September 16. Obviously, increased enforcement is also necessary as part of this effort. Councilmember Graham has been working to get the Department of Transportation involved in issuing moving violations to improve pedestrian safety. Finally, in a few years, DDOT plans to redesign this intersection to make it much safer. I’ve attached an image of the proposed changes. Jonathon Kass Committee on Public Works and the Environment Office of Councilmember Jim Graham

So that’s pretty awesome. Below is the picture he sent me. I’ve never used Photobucket before, and it has a very “We built this site for AOLers in 1997 and just slapped a Web 2.0 facelift on it” feel to it, but theoretically if you click the picture you can see a bigger version.

Photobucket

And that’s your DC government at work. They may be slow sometimes, but they do listen when you voice your concerns. The plans look pretty decent to my untrained eye. It looks like they’re widening the sidewalk on the northwest corner, which is good. And the goofy traffic pattern on the northeast corner will be gone. Of course, it will be a few years before this happens. And I imagine that intersection will be a bit of a disaster during construction. But in the end, it’ll be safer and better. I hope.

Can the Sarfate-as-starter experiment please end?

Monday, August 11, 2008

I know the Orioles are looking for another starter after sending Brian Burres to wherever they sent him (Is he on the ML roster? I don’t even care). But it seems pretty clear that the starter they are looking for is not Dennis Sarfate. He has now started three games. I honestly can’t decide which is his worst performance. He hasn’t gotten through the fifth inning. His ERA is 11.45. His WHIP is 2.18. That’s 13 hits and 11 walks in 11 innings. And the 13 hits I can even forgive. You can give up a hit even when you make a perfect pitch. It happens. But walking a batter per inning is just inexcusable. As Satchel Paige (supposedly) said, “Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move”. I have no idea if he actually said that - it’s often attributed to him, but it’s never been entirely clear if he really said the things they say he said. But it’s good advice nonetheless. At least if you throw the ball over the plate, you have a chance to succeed. I’m not interested in seeing him pitch any more. He wasn’t a great reliever, and he’s a miserable starter. It’s really too bad Jeremy Guthrie can’t pitch every night.

Posted in: baseball , complaint

We need more science

Monday, August 11, 2008

So I’ve been watching the Olympics, as I gather most people are doing. I’m not a huge fan, although it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. I mean, the swimmers are breaking a world record every few hours, and there’s apparently a ton of drama in the women’s gymnastics (because, I think, all the athletes are 12 years old, and you know how girls are at that age). But I was reading this article and thinking that, not only does the media ignore some pretty easy science in the relative radioactivity of granite countertops, as mentioned there, but also that a few numbers could really make the Olympics more interesting to me. First, swimming. We keep breaking records. It would be nice to know how long a record stood, how much it was broken by, and things like that. We even had a swimmer break the split record and they not only didn’t mention his time, but they didn’t mention the time he had beaten. How hard is it to flash a number on the screen? Maybe instead of 37 shots of Michael Phelps screaming, we could have gotten some background on the numbers. And then the gymnastics. They’ve changed the scoring system so that you get a score based on difficulty, which they seem to know before anything happens, and then a score based on performance/accuracy/whatever. Why in the world can’t I know what the difficulty score is going to be while it’s happening? If it’s going to be a really tough routine, that would make it more interesting. Or I could at least compare something that’s rated 6.5 with something that’s 5.5 and see how much harder one appears to be than the other. They don’t even tell you what the score range is. I assume the accuracy score is out of 10, because most people were between 8.5 and 9.5. But I don’t really know. Is there some reason they can’t show these numbers? The commentators frequently ramble on about absolutely nothing. Maybe instead they could talk about the science behind why the swimmers break records every race this year. Apparently wider, deeper pools, combined with better suit technology and new stroke rules are all combining to make the swimmers faster. But I haven’t heard anyone on tv talk about that. The American public is not afraid of science and numbers. And some of us actually find that they enhance the experience. So can we maybe get some? It’s not that hard. On a sort-of-related note, congratulations to the blogger linked above - his wife just had their first baby last week.

Stupid IT department

Monday, August 11, 2008

First webmail, now Del.icio.us. Actually, Delicious went first. The webmail ban isn’t supposed to go in for another week. Why is this annoying? Because I bookmark work-related sites through Delicious. Sure, that’s not all I use it for. But a big chunk of my bookmarks there are reference for work. And now I can’t get to them. And I’m not saying they don’t have the right to block what they want, because it’s their network, and they can block all IP addresses divisible by 17 if they want. I’m just saying it’s stupid, it makes me less effective, and it annoys me to no end.

Posted in: complaint , computers , internet , work

From the mouth of Jobs himself

Monday, August 11, 2008

Steve Jobs has reiterated that you’re renting all $30 million worth of iPhone apps you’ve purchased. Engagdet says,

[he] confirmed the controversial iPhone application kill switch in the event that Apple inadvertently approves a malicious program for distribution. Jobs said, “hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull.”

He went on to say, “We know you all love to buy anything with our name on it, though, so you should be happy to repurchase anything we decide we don’t want you to have anymore”.

Posted in: complaint , gadgets , iphone , technology

Of all the dumb things to say

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I’ve always been a fan of Mike Mussina. He broke into the league in 1991, and quickly became a star the next season. He was a big part of some exciting Orioles teams that kept losing to the Blue Jays. I’ve never been a fan of Murray Chass. He’s a favorite target of Fire Joe Morgan, and deservedly so. He recently started a blog, but refuses to call it a blog, refuses to allow comments … He pretty much took all that’s good about a blog and threw it away, while taking all that’s bad about journalism and put it on a pedestal. Anyway, today he’s writing about Mike Mussina. He has no idea what he’s talking about. So, because Mussina is having a good year at age 39, and people think he might finally break the 20-win mark for the first time, we’re starting to hear talk about the Hall of Fame. That seems pretty reasonable - five of the ten comparable pitchers listed at Baseball Reference are in the Hall, and at least one more (Curt Schilling) has a good shot. What does Murray Chass think about this? “Mussina has an impressive career won-lost record (265-151) but not much else.” His won-lost record is actually the least impressive thing about his career. Sure, he’s 39th all time in winning percentage for players with 100 decisions. That’s pretty good. But won-lost record is a pretty useless measure of a player’s actual ability. Let’s look, though, at the good measures of a player’s actual ability. Let’s look at WHIP, 1.19, 9th among active players. Let’s look at K/BB ratio, 3.56, 13th all time. Or how about strikeouts, 2759, 21st all time. All of those are much better measures of a pitcher’s ability, and in all of those Mussina compares well with Hall of Fame pitchers. What else does Chass have to say? He compares Mussina to some of his compatriots who are not in the Hall - Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat. “All had career victory totals in the 280s. Except for winning percentage, all had better records than Mussina.” I’m not even sure I can address that. What does it even mean? Let’s start with Tommy John. 288-231 career record, a winning percentage of .555. That’s not nearly as good as Mussina. Neither is his 1.28 WHIP, 1.78 K/BB, or total strikeouts, 2245. Then look at Jim Kaat. 283-237 (.544), 1.26 WHIP, 2.27 K/BB, 2461 K. Not in the same league. Now, Blyleven is harder to bash, because he, like Mussina, deserves to be in the Hall. He’s become something of a sabermetrics poster boy. He excelled in the “new-fangled” stats like WHIP (1.20), K/BB (2.80), strikeouts (3701), 5th all time. But he played on crummy teams, and compiled a 287-250 record (.534), and it’s keeping him out of the Hall.

John and Kaat were each 20-game winners three times, Blyleven once. Mussina doesn’t come close to the number of complete games and shutouts any of the three had. The three had slightly lower totals of baserunners per nine innings. But why let facts get in the way of a partisan view?

I’m not sure how he’s measuring baserunners per nine innings, because all three are higher than Mussina. It’s true, Musinna’s complete games and shutouts are low. But no one (except Roy Halladay) finishes games anymore. Mussina is fourth in both categories among active pitchers, so he compares well to present-day pitchers. So, Murray Chass, I can only conclude that you are either a moron or a Red Sox fan. You certainly don’t seem to know a whole lot about baseball.

Investing for the l33t

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I was reading this article about the failure of some ETFs to really commit to their theme. He talks about some ETFs that claim to be based on wind power but have holdings like BP that really don’t depend on the success of wind power at all. The most interesting part of the article, though, wasn’t really his point. It was an ETF called PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio. For some of you their ticker symbol, PWND, means nothing. For others, it has a rich and humorous meaning. In any event, I was looking at the Google Finance page for the fund, and saw the a discussion thread that caught my eye. I don’t know why these things make me laugh so much, but they do, and this did. I guess I’m just a sucker for dumb internet memes that won’t go away.

Posted in: funny , investing

A call for financial advice

Friday, August 08, 2008

I just finished rolling over my old 401K from a former employer into an IRA. So now I have a lot more control over what I can do with one chunk of my retirement savings. The question is, what to do? I’m looking for advice, and I’m looking for a good resource to get an overview of investing. I mean, a friend mentioned beaten-down financial sector ETFs. I had to Google “ETF”. I don’t want to invest in something that I have to Google until I learn a bit more about it. Anyone have advice on a good place to start?

Posted in: investing , retirement

A congestion tax alone is not enough

Friday, August 08, 2008

I’ve long thought that a large congestion tax on cars entering DC would be great. Charge $10 to enter the city. Take most of that cash and spend it on expanding Metro and putting giant parking garages out at the end of the Metro lines. Make those garages FREE. It would make public transportation a heck of a lot more attractive. They’ve tried it in London with mixed results:

At first, the new fees did seem to ease the traffic moving through the congestion zone. Now, studies are finding that the measure has actually managed to somehow slow down the pace of traffic through central London.

The problem here is the reason it hasn’t helped - construction and new pedestrian walkways have caused more traffic jams than before. It got rid of 100,000 cars each day, so it sounds like it made a huge difference. I don’t think it’s fair to blame London’s mismanagement of construction and pedestrians on the congestion tax.

Posted in: dc , driving , harvardstreet , traffic

I love to hate the iPhone

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I know my opinion on Apple and the iPhone differs from many of my readers, but this is worrisome if you’ve bought an iPhone and mistakenly think you’ve bought an app from the App Store. Engadget | iPhone hacker says the device ‘calls home’ to Apple, allows apps to be remotely disabled

the suggestion that a process of the OS would actively monitor, report on, and possibly deactivate your device’s software is unreasonable, and clearly presents an issue that the company will have to deal with sooner or later.

If you buy something, and the seller can take it back at any time for any reason and not give back your money, you are renting, not buying. Because of the closed and proprietary nature of Apple’s world, if you buy into it, you’re stuck with whatever they want to do to you. Updated to add: Engadget says that the iPhone probably isn’t calling home to disable your apps after all. I still don’t like Apple, and I still don’t trust them any more than I trust Microsoft. But it doesn’t seem like they’re doing anything objectionable here.

Posted in: complaint , gadgets , iphone , technology

Didn't mean to censor the TSA propaganda

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Someone (Or, more likely, some script) claiming to be Bob from TSA Blog left a comment on this post. It was a totally useless press release talking about the ineffective things TSA is planning to do about the lost (now found) laptop. Despite the fact that it fits my definition of spam (It wasn’t a response to the post, which “Bob” clearly didn’t read, it was a monologue on the same subject with a link to the author’s blog), I published it. But due to a little snafu with the back button and not paying attention, I accidentally deleted it. So, sorry to censor your spam, TSA Bob. If you post again, I’ll publish it again. But note well that spamming blogs that call out your stupidity and/or incompetence is not going to do a bit of good, and you might be better off finding something more useful to do with your time. Edit to add: Here is the text of the propaganda, stolen from the original Boing Boing post’s comments.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of a Clear®- owned laptop computer on July 26 that contained unencrypted data of approximately 33,000 customers. TSA has verified that a laptop was discovered by Clear® officials yesterday at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It was voluntarily surrendered to TSA officials for forensic examination. TSA’s regulatory role in this matter is as follows: Every commercial airport is required to have an approved airport security plan. So Register Traveler is part of that comprehensive plan at the airports where it operates. Under the airport security plan, the sponsoring entity, (SFO in this case) is required to assure its vendors have an approved information security program. Because the computer at SFO was not encrypted it is in violation of the airport’s security plan. TSA also has the ability to go directly to vendors when the plan is not being adhered to so TSA is conducting a broad review of all Registered Traveler providers’ information systems and data security processes to ensure compliance with security regulations. Clear® needs to meet the information security requirements that they agreed to as part of the Register Traveler program before their enrollment privileges will be reinstated. Encryption is the wider issue as opposed to one incident with one laptop. So for now, Clear® enrollments remain curtailed. Current customers will not experience any disruption when using Registered Traveler. Bob TSA EoS Blog Team

The worst part about this is that TSA’s response to this seems to be a stern wag of the finger at the contractor. I feel safer already.

Let's blow this way out of proportion!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Orioles rookie Chris Waters, so green he doesn’t even have a Baseball-Reference.com major league page yet, made his debut last night in the bigs, making the Angels look silly. He opened his career by striking out Chone Figgins on three pitches. Unfortunately, the wife and I only watched the first five innings - the game was in LA/Anaheim/Sacramento/whatever and didn’t start until 10 Eastern. But Waters didn’t need us - 8 innings, one hit, three walks, and a hit batter. No runs. That sure takes away the sting of Brandon Fahey’s demotion. Anyway, despite the fact that he’s making his debut just shy of his 28th birthday, and the small sample size, I’m going to go ahead and call him a first ballot Hall of Famer. I predict he’ll give up his first earned run sometime in 2011 (and it won’t be his fault), become the first pitcher in years to win 30 games in a season, and cure cancer with his curveball. ESPN wrap

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball

Speaking of IT security and idiots

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It seems a TSA contractor has misplaced an unencrypted laptop full of people’s personal information

The Transportation Security Administration suspended Verified Identity Pass Inc., the company that operates the registered traveler program under the brand name Clear, from enrolling new applicants due to the alleged theft of the unencrypted laptop.

Link from Boing Boing, but they kind of dropped the ball by not mentioning the unencrypted status of the missing laptop. Luckily one of the comments mentioned it. Keep in mind this is entirely against TSA regulations (I worked there for 9 months). TSA is colossally stupid sometimes, like when they made me take my unencrypted (before the regulation went into effect) laptop home on the Metro every day for a week rather than leaving it in the secure facility where I worked. But I’m almost inclined to not blame them for the actions of a contractor.

TSA officials said the suspension will protect consumers waiting to enroll in the Clear program and allow the company to bring its procedures into compliance.

How about making them give back all the money due to breach of contract? There’s no accountability in government contracting.

Posted in: complaint , stupid people , TSA

Tragedy in Baltimore!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Okay, maybe “tragedy” is a bit of an exaggeration. But first poor Brandon Fahey, despite getting his slash stats up to .241/.267/.345, has been sent to Norfolk, the O’s AAA affiliate. And then George “Captain Overrated” Sherrill blew another save by loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth and walking in the winning run. The Orioles came back from 5-1 in the ninth and he walked in the winning run. It is unconscionable that he was not traded for prospects at the trading deadline. Were I the Orioles GM, I would have taken $30 and a ham sandwich for Sherrill. Actually, were I the Orioles GM, I probably would have had him taken out back and shot a month ago. In any event, the loss of Brandon Fahey pains me more. I was really starting to like the little guy. I don’t know why we sent him down. I mean, I do, but I don’t like it. It’s obvious that Alex Cintron and Juan Castro are not the future at shortstop. Why even bother with a 36-year-old infielder on a team that is clearly not going to make the playoffs this year? Good luck in Norfolk, Fahey. And come back soon (You could have Sherrill’s spot, or Sarfate’s, if it were up to me).

Posted in: baseball , complaint

Webmail isn't evil, IT departments are

Monday, August 04, 2008

The IT department at work has decided to block all webmail beginning August 18th. This is a big problem for me, because I’m a contractor and don’t really use the work email. It’s a pain, and I can’t get to it from home without jumping through hoops. My actual work email is my Gmail account. So this is going to cause me a ton of problems. And for what? I did a little Googling for the security risks associated with webmail.

“Any pop-up ad that appears in a webmail message could potentially contain a virus when it opens,“ she said. "An attachment that comes in from a webmail message could possibly bypass all the safeguards all the way to the user’s computer.” In addition, just opening a Web browser window to these commercial webmail sites can leave a computer open to outside attack. (Source)

This is a bit of a strawman argument. First, you can get popups or viruses or whatever from all sorts of sites. It’s not restricted to webmail. But if you use good, up-to-date software, this shouldn’t be an issue. There are some really good free, open-source tools to protect your computer. If your users are getting viruses and hacked computers, it’s not the fault of Gmail or Hotmail. It’s your users, and it’s the tools you’ve chosen to give them.

I’m an … advocate of the "block access” point of view. Personal webmail, if accessible, provides another vector for your data to fly out of the window but one that you have poor control over and little ability to monitor and audit. Neither can you comply with data storage and archiving regulations if the service is being used to legitimately send and receive business data to and from external addresses. (Source)

Archiving is a legitimate concern. Although I can’t imagine why the author thinks it’s not possible to comply with regulations - there is nothing stopping you from hooking up your webmail account to Outlook or Thunderbird and downloading it all. Then you can archive to your heart’s content. Actually, I think Yahoo and Hotmail make you pay for POP3 access, but that’s because they hate their customers.

If anything, what’s [sic] it’s partly demonstrating is the problems in the usability associated with security products. By making them too cumbersome, it’s natural for people to seek routes around them — making the security procedures a risk in their own way. (Source)

This I totally agree with. I use a ton of Google’s web tools for legitimate work purposes because they are easy and useful. If you block them, I’m going to try to get around the blocks, like the way you can use https instead of http to get around some filters that block Gmail. But I more or less know what I’m doing. I’ve heard of some ridiculous unsafe hacks to get around work-imposed security. Some of the workarounds are much more dangerous than the thing being blocked. But you know what’s more dangerous to security than all of this put together? Stupid people. And, to a perhaps greater extent, smart but ignorant people. People who think they know better, but don’t, are a huge source of problems. Much better to know you’re incompetent and stop trying. I remain entirely unconvinced that this will do any good. You can’t possibly block all possible routes for sensitive information to leak out of the office. By blocking webmail, you’re taking away one of the most convenient methods, but what you may end up doing is driving the leaks to more and better hidden channels. Maybe now one person is going to start Twittering all day, while another is going to use some other service. The information can still get out. And what about someone who goes to do a little online banking and accidentally hits a phishing site that steals their banking info and deposits a virus on their computer, giving a hacker total control of their PC? Are you going to ban bank sites, too? Why not just ban everything? Chain employees to the desk in rooms with white walls and no windows. Give them three breaks a day where they can use the bathroom and buy lunch from the company (Wouldn’t want them sharing company secrets at the local deli, would we?). Maybe we should just stop sharing secrets with employees altogether. Just keep it all with the executives, who can lock themselves in ivory towers, making angels in piles of FOUO and COMPANY PROPRIETARY documents. Maybe we shouldn’t even do any work. The dangers of compromised secrets are too great. We should all go back to a hunter-gatherer economy, where there were no documents in need of protection from the horrors of webmail. Better for the environment, too, as a majority of Americans would die of starvation within the year. Or we could save time and trouble by committing mass suicide in orderly rows. That would teach Google to make a great webmail service with an intuitive, helpful interface. Stupid jerks.

Maybe my SEO with Drupal is working

Monday, August 04, 2008

I posted a little while ago about my attempts to optimize my blog for search engines. I think it’s working. Take this example. This morning, I linked to an article on Prince of Petworth about a new restaurant opening in Columbia Heights, CommonWealth Gastropub. Now, PoP is a near-deity in the greater Columbia Heights/Petworth/Logan/Shaw area. It’s a good blog. I read it regularly. I, on the other hand, am a relative unknown who complains too much. PoP went to an early preview at CommonWealth and took pictures, then wrote an article about the experience. I linked to the article, and offered very limited commentary. Now, go do a little Google search for commonwealth dc gastropub. you will notice that item seven is my post. The first item from PoP is item 23, and it’s not even a link to the most recent article. So, on one hand, you have a good blog that did some real journalism. On the other, you have a blog, where half the readership was at the author’s wedding, that just linked to the real journalism. But I show up first on Google.

Oddly Enough, You're an Idiot

Monday, August 04, 2008

Have you ever posted to an internet forum or commented on a blog post and began with, “Oddly enough”? If the answer is yes, then I don’t like you very much. Has anyone ever followed “Oddly enough” with something really odd? Not in my experience. It’s pretty meaningless. If what you’re saying really is odd, we’ll know. Are you trying to forewarn us of the oddity so we don’t think you’re weird for saying something odd out of the blue without acknowledging it? That is, are you embarrassed to be thought strange by people you don’t know? I realize now that the likelihood of someone commenting on this post and beginning with “oddly enough” is now near 100%. Just remember that I have admin rights on all the comments.

Posted in: complaint , the internet

The CommonWealth Gastropub is almost open

Monday, August 04, 2008

PoP Exclusive: First Look Inside the New Restaurant CommonWealth Opening Aug. 6th

Even with all the craziness it had a very warm and open feel. I was excited to see checkers and chess tables, an open bar area and some very comfortable seats. I am super stoked to try the place.

I hate it when restaurants don’t update their website. But I guess I’ll forgive them if the place ends up being as cool as people say it will be. I haven’t been past it yet - with the bum foot and pregnant wife, I haven’t been doing as much walking around as I might otherwise. But PoP’s pictures of the place look great, and this thread at realbeer.com suggests the beer selection will be good. This is also a great option for me next time I work from home and the wife admonishes me, “No PotBelly or Five Guys for lunch today!”. Although I don’t suppose obeying the letter and ignoring the spirit will win me many brownie points.

I'm a DC Blog

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I’ve been re-added to the DC Blogs Live Feed and Blog Directory. I suppose that means I have to write something about DC. If you’re interested in DC blogs, they have an extensive list, so you should go check them out. Or ask them to add yours, if you have one.

Posted in: blogging , dc , harvardstreet

When all else fails, check the system logs

Friday, August 01, 2008

As some of you know, I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux as my only operating system on my personal laptop for about a year now. About a month ago, the wireless stopped working. Our router is a couple years old, so at first I thought that might be the problem. But the wife didn’t have any trouble connecting, and two computers from work could connect, so that wasn’t it. Then I thought it might be the latest Ubuntu kernel update. A few threads on the Ubuntu Forums seemed to suggest that might be the case, but no one seemed to have quite my problem. And then the upstairs neighbor came home from vacation and turned his wireless network back on. I still have his password saved from once when I was borrowing his network while ours was out, and I could connect to that, no problem. So I was puzzled. I posted a few times to the Ubuntu Forums, which usually are very helpful, but got no response. I did a lot of Googling. Nothing. Finally I found something on Google Groups. Someone having an unrelated problem had found the answer in his system logs. System logs? Holy cow, I have system logs! I suppose I should have known about them, but it seems strange that I’ve never seen mention of them on the Ubuntu Forums, or anywhere else. Sure enough, the system logs told me that the stored info that allows the network handshake to happen was bonked. access point 'coatimundi' is encrypted, but NO valid key exists. New key needed. So I deleted the saved connection info for my network and tried to connect again. It asked me for my password, and POOF! Connection is successful. So now I have my laptop back. And all is right with the world. If you are having problems with anything in Ubuntu, or probably any other Linux distro, check your system logs. The answer may be right in front of your face.

What happened to the service industry?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Our condo building has a video entry system that allows people to ring the doorbell out front and get buzzed in by the unit they’re visiting. It’s a pretty cool system. Except that it stopped working a few days ago. We suspect it was during the big lightning storm. So I’ve been trying to get someone to come take care of it. First, I called the electrician who’s done some work here. He’s hard to get a hold of because his worthless Nextel phone tells me “The Nextel subscriber you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time” every time I try to call. After I hang up, I think it says, “If I had a soul, I’d send you to his voicemail. But because I’m a cold, unfeeling machine, I won’t help you at all. Ha ha ha ha ha!” When I finally got him, he said to call the company that put it in. He apparently works for them, but is willing to do freelance on the side, probably against their wishes. But whatever. So I called C&A; Electric. They said they’d call back to set up a time to come by. They did not. That was Tuesday. I was in NYC on Wednesday, so I called them Thursday. They were apologetic. They said they’d call to schedule an appointment. This time, they actually did, 8AM Friday. Then they called back to ask about the problem, and decided to send someone else, not the guy I talked to. I thought, “whatever, as long as someone shows up.” At 8:45AM Friday, no one had arrived. So I called. They were again apologetic. But they didn’t know when anyone would arrive. They promised to call back with an update. They actually did call, and pretty quickly, and told me that someone would be here at 10. They made good on that appointment, but didn’t fix the problem. The two guys looked at the unit, and complained about some stuff, and fixed nothing. They think one of the three modules that makes up the portion of the system that is outside has gone bad. Since they are unable to fix this, they suggested I contact the manufacturer. So I contacted Aiphone. I talked to a tech support guy via their little web chat interface. He was (shockingly) unhelpful. He wanted to know if I’d verified power to the unit. Now, I assume the electricians did that. I mean, wouldn’t you assume that would be the first thing they’d try? But I don’t actually know if they did or not. When he found that out, he pushed me off onto the dealer who sold us the unit. I have no idea who that is, so I tried to contact the developer. He’s not answering his cell phone. Not that he ever does. So, I have now spent the last three hours getting absolutely nothing accomplished. Hooray! Is it too much to ask for a company to actually stand behind the goods or services that they sell?

Worst Game Ever

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Seriously. I finally made it to Yankee Stadium. And I was rewarded for my troubles (Well, the wife’s troubles. Thanks, wife!) with a horrible Orioles loss. Sarfate managed only 4 innings, walking three and allowing five runs, although only three earned. Burres and Cabrera were even worse. On the bright side, I did see a future Hall of Famer hit a home run in one of the most hallowed places in baseball. And we had a nice lunch with a friend and a nice dinner with a brother-in-law. I was impressed with the Yankees fans. They were much more pleasant on their home turf than they are in Baltimore. There were a few words exchanged between Yankee and Oriole fans, but nothing nasty. And the Orioles fans actually came out in pretty good numbers. The guy next to me was part of a group of about 400 O’s fans from Pennsylvania who came up for the game. The new Yankee stadium across the street is UGLY. I mean, hideous. I didn’t get a good look at it, and the inside is probably nicer, but the outside looks like a giant bank. Next on my list of stadiums to visit is Wrigley Field. Probably not this year, though.

Glad I just use the Nationals for their convenient stadium

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It’s been a rough week for the Nationals. Since a 15-6 win over Atlanta on July 20th, they’ve lost six straight. Three of their last four games were shutouts, and tonight’s game was a shutout until the 8th. They’re still losing, 2-1, as I write this. They have the worst record in baseball. They’ve scored the fewest runs in all of baseball (Nearly 100 fewer than the next worst team in their division, and the only team in the majors with under 400 scored). But they sure have a nice park, huh?

Posted in: baseball , dc , futility , harvardstreet

Way to go, Yahoo

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Techdirt | Yahoo Offers Refunds Or DRM-Free Music In Exchange For Shutting Down DRM Servers Looks like Yahoo is going to make things right for customers who bought DRM'ed music at their old store. They’ll either replace the music with DRM-free editions, or give refunds. Unlike Microsoft’s band-aid (Keeping the DRM servers up for a few more years), this is an actual solution, righting the wrong that Yahoo did to its customers by “selling” them music that could be taken back at any time.

MASN is the worst network ever

Monday, July 28, 2008

The MASN HD feed on Comcast in DC is simply the worst quality HD signal I’ve ever seen. I actually turned on the non-HD feed, hoping it would be better. It wasn’t. I know no one cares about the Orioles, but they’re playing the Yankees. You’d think someone in their organization would make sure the DC-area Yankee fans could watch the game in peace, and then I could benefit indirectly. At least the Orioles are winning. At least Adam Jones just hit his first career grand slam to put the O’s up, 11-0, in the sixth.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , dc , harvardstreet , tv

The iPhone and the PETA Effect

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gizmodo reports that Defective by Design, an anti-DRM group, is going to clog up the Apple Genius Bar this weekend with people complaining about the restrictive nature of the iPhone. This is an idea (DRM sucks) that I totally support, but a terrible way to protest it. I mean, when I see idiots from PETA dressing up like animals or throwing blood around, it just makes me want to go on the Atkins diet. When I see Truth.com’s super-obnoxious anti-smoking commercials, I want to buy cigarettes for minors. I support treating animals humanely. I support keeping kids from smoking (And encouraging adults to stop). And I support telling Apple and the rest that they’re a bunch of jerks with their insistence on DRM. But this isn’t the way to do it. The response to bad behavior is not more bad behavior. Apple’s anti-customer policies are not justification to make this much of a nuisance of yourself. Remember, when someone buys an iPhone, they’ve made a decision, based on their knowledge of the product, that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. For you, they may not. They don’t for me. And really, we all know the only thing that would make me buy an Apple product (Except as gifts for my wife, because she’s great) is if all of you stopped liking them. And yes, DRM is bad for everyone, and everyone who buys DRM-infected content or devices is making it tougher on the rest of us. But this is a free country, and that includes the freedom to make decisions based on your own relative needs and desires. Anyway, not that anyone listens to me, but I urge you to ignore Defective by Design’s request to mess with the Apple Genius Bar. It’s not the right way to protest DRM. I mean, really, does anyone think Apple cares?

Posted in: Apple , complaint , DRM , gadgets , iphone , PETA

A healthy debate on the internet?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My friend with the marketing background has a new blog, and he’s weighed in with his side of the full- or partial-text RSS feed discussion.

Posted in: blogging , internet , marketing

Setting up the baby's room

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

We just finished round one of setting up the baby’s room. Pictures are here. We had “Before” pictures, as well, but we’re having memory card problems. Hopefully we’ll recover them eventually. The wife did a ton of work on this. I did some work, but, as usual, she did the bulk of it. The dresser is mine, which we recently replaced. It came with bunk beds my grandmother bought for me when I was 10 years old or so. We painted it with leftover paint from the rest of the house, and it looks pretty awesome (Even better in person). The room is pretty awesome. It’s loud and vibrant, and gender-neutral without being pastel green and yellow. We’ve moved the futon out into the sun room. I’m not sure how we’ll like it there. So far the cat seems okay with it, so there’s that. And I’m not sure how houseguests will like it. We’ve had tons of people stay with us since we moved in, and now we don’t have a guest room anymore. Only six weeks or so, and the baby will be here. And now it has a place to sleep.

Posted in: baby , home decor , parenting

Terrifying acts of god

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The wife and I were just sitting in the living room, watching the Orioles game and taking a break from Sunday chores, when the chimney of the building across the street got hit by lightning. I have a perfect view of the chimney from my spot on the couch, and I actually saw the flash when it got hit. The wife and I both swear we could feel it when the lightning hit. There was a loud crack of thunder and a big flash, and now a few of the bricks on the corner of the chimney look like they could come down in a heavy wind. I think we’re going to stay inside until the storm passes.

Yahoo isn't as bad as Microsoft

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yahoo! Music Store Will Compensate Customers For DRM-ed Music Looks like maybe Yahoo will make it right for people who thought they were actually buying songs, rather than renting. Good for Yahoo. I hope the “compensation” details are actually consumer-friendly.

Possible site outages tomorrow

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It is possible that I will upgrade to Drupal 6 tomorrow. If so, there may be some changes and some downtime for the site. Or maybe I won’t get around to it, and there will be nothing. But I thought I’d warn everyone paying attention, just in case. Edit to add: No upgrade today. Didn’t get a chance. Maybe next weekend.

Posted in: blogging

Marketing your content

Friday, July 25, 2008

I have a friend with a background in marketing. He’s the one who sent me the Comcast complaining article. We’ve been talking about marketing and the internet. The two of us come from completely different perspectives on how we consume content online. I’ve just introduced him to Google Reader and the concept of subscribing to an RSS feed. He seems to be enjoying it, and even shared an article with other people on his GTalk buddy list. I complained to him that he shared a link to a NYTimes article that didn’t have the full text in the RSS feed. This is a pet peeve of mine - I read almost no websites that don’t offer full-text RSS feeds. Techdirt talks about how full-text feeds are better. Feedburner does, too. But NYTimes.com doesn’t do it. Are they stupid? I don’t know. A little Googling suggests that there’s a lot of disagreement on whether or not a partial-text feed drives more traffic to the site. That is, if you have a feed that doesn’t show the full article, do more people actually click through and come to your site, where you probably have ads? Or do most people (Like me) just skip it? Techdirt makes the point that the real bulk of your traffic comes not from your regular feed subscribers, but from them sharing it with their friends or on their blogs. Things get passed around on the popular sites - when something hits the front page of Digg, it’s probably going to show up on a lot of other popular sites. That can generate way more traffic than you’d ever get from your subscribers themselves, even if they clickthrough on every RSS item. My friend says that NYTimes is not dumb, and they’ve probably researched where they make their money, and decided that partial feeds are the way to go. I’m less inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I realize that the way I consume content is not the way everyone does, and I’m probably in the minority. We may be a growing minority, but NYTimes doesn’t make its money on what people will be doing in 10 years. I will always provide a full-text feed. But I don’t make my living with this blog, so I have the luxury of doing what I want rather than what might drive more clicks. I can’t bring him around to my way of thinking, though. But I’m still working on it.

Posted in: blogging , internet , marketing

Where's my love from Comcast?

Friday, July 25, 2008

NYTimes.com | Griping Online? Comcast Hears and Talks Back

From a sparse desk dominated by two computer screens in the new Comcast Center here, Mr. Eliason uses readily available online tools to monitor public comments on blogs, message boards and social networks for any mention of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company. When he sees a complaint like Mr. Dilbeck’s, he contacts the source to try to defuse the problem.

A friend pointed out this article, which describes a blogger complaining about Comcast, and getting contacted by a “digital care manager” from Comcast, who helped him with his problem. I bitch about Comcast ALL THE TIME. Where’s my digital care manager? This is a load of crap. I’m angry with Comcast pretty much every time I turn on my tv, and especially when I get my monthly bill. Or when our tv and internet was out for three weeks, and the techs kept either being unable to fix the problem or leaving their equipment in our living room. But I get nothing. Thanks a lot, Comcast. As an aside, the fact that the NYTimes mentions the guy’s blog by name but doesn’t bother to link to it is complete and utter horsecrap. It’s incredibly rude. Not that it’s hard to find Brandon Notices via Google, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Posted in: complaint

Where Microsoft went, Yahoo will follow

Friday, July 25, 2008

Boing Boing | Yahoo Music shutting down its DRM server, customers lose all their paid-for music the next time they crash or upgrade

“All those years the music industry spent insisting that the only way they’d sell music is with crippling DRM attached managed to totally discredit the idea of buying music at all.”

Techdirt | Did Yahoo Not Pay Attention To What Happened When Microsoft Pulled The Plug On Its DRM Server?

could [Yahoo] seriously not have noticed the massive backlash that Microsoft received for telling people that it was turning off its DRM servers, effectively locking all the songs people had “bought” to their current computers.

I thought I’d written about it a little while back when Microsoft decided that the servers that check to see if the music you’ve “purchased” from Microsoft’s music store is legal or not were no longer necessary. That meant that all the music you thought you “bought” from Microsoft was really just being rented, and now they’d decided to terminate your lease because they didn’t feel like complying with the deal they made with you anymore. And now Yahoo is doing the same thing. All the music you “bought” from Yahoo won’t work anymore if you move it to a different computer. I’ve said this numerous times, and I’m not alone - if you pay for ANYTHING that has DRM attached, you are NOT buying. You are RENTING at the discretion of whoever is taking your money. Some people may be okay with that. I’m not.

Dinner at The Heights on a lovely Thursday night

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birthing class got out early tonight, and we don’t have any food in the house. It’s a combination of my bum foot and the wife’s almost-full-term baby that leads to us not going to the grocery store. So we went to The Heights for dinner around 8pm. Thursday night is generally a nice night out, and tonight is some of the nicest weather we’ve had in a while. The Heights was full but not overcrowded. Most of the seats were taken, indoors and out. It was a diverse crowd - a pregnant couple with a friend on one side of us, a gay couple on the other. A woman and two young boys were being seated as we left. A couple walked in just in front of us, apparently having walked from somewhere nearby (I choose to believe that they walked from home rather than parking in the neighborhood). The food and the service were good. The wife says she’s not sure that we’ve ever had a bad server there, and I certainly can’t think of anything to contradict her. And I was impressed by their mixed greens salad that comes with all the entrees. It was plain lettuce, but it had cherry tomatoes, jicama, and beets, which is pretty exotic and healthful for your average restaurant. The buffalo shrimp appetizer was delicious, although a little light on shrimp. I recommend saving some bread to mop up the extra sauce rather than eating it with a fork, as someone at my table for two did this evening. Their rotating beer taps were not entirely exciting this time - Brooklyn Lager and a Sam Adams seasonal - but the idea of rotating taps is cool. The table next to us was raving about the bread pudding sundae, which we didn’t order because we were both full. And we found that Merkado, a restaurant in Logan Circle owned by the same people, is closing at the end of August. In its place will be “a neighborhood place” called Commissary, hoping to emulate Busboys and Poets and Tryst. They hope to grab all the trendy kids who will move into the new building across from Whole Foods and take all their money. I’m a little sad that Merkado is closing - the wife and I had a lovely dinner there for my 29th birthday - but this sounds like an interesting replacement, although calling it “Commissary” is a little too hipster for my tastes.

Blackberries are the devil

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sonda lik wrong file FRM svn Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

That’s an email I got from my boss this afternoon. I probably didn’t have to put that second line there - you knew it was from a Blackberry as soon as you read the first line. Now, I’m not bashing my boss. He’s a good guy, and I actually do know what he means by that. His spelling isn’t that great even when he’s got a full size keyboard. And it actually did answer the question I asked. I know everyone bashes the Blackberry. I do, too, although I also really want one. And they can be used for good - I borrowed a friend’s at a bar once to make sure I didn’t have a job interview the next day. That was before I got my current job. Anyway, the problem is that people are lazy. I’ve always found it, not amusing, but interesting that my mom uses complete sentences, proper capitalization, and proper punctuation in ALL instant messages. No one does that. Well, maybe your mom does, I don’t know. I don’t have her on my buddy list. But Blackberries are like the opposite of my mom. Because you’re “on the go”, you can’t spend thirty seconds actually typing out a sentence. It doesn’t take that long. So, next time you send an email, Blackberry or otherwise, take a moment to think. Are you responding to the email, or just making a written record of having received it? If you’re not responding, then don’t bother.

And then it rained

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Originally uploaded by thetejon

Went to the DC United game last night. We didn’t stick around for the three hour rain delay. This was the third time they tried to play this game (Although the first time I had tickets). We had pretty awesome seats thanks to a friend, and access to free food and drinks thanks to VW (through the same friend through another friend), and I managed to get home without getting my foot wet, per doctor’s orders. I’ve been to a couple of DC United games this season, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the team doesn’t much like to play defense. They just don’t seem to have their hearts in it. Which is too bad, because the team doesn’t seem half bad, and the defensive problems really look like they’re due to a lack of effort more than a lack of skill. I won’t claim to be a soccer expert - I played rec league and high school, but never higher than JV, so take my opinions here with a grain of salt. There were delays on the Green Line getting home, too. Everything seemed cool at first, since most of the stadium was still sticking around, waiting to see if they would resume the game, when we left. So the train from RFK wasn’t full, and usually once we transfer to Green it’s smooth sailing. But it took us a half hour to get from Shaw to Columbia Heights. If my foot wasn’t busted up, we could have walked it in that time. Anyway, more pictures here.

Comcast did something right

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I complain a lot about Comcast Cable in DC. Any of you in the area waiting for Verizon Fios to come to DC and at least make Comcast pretend to compete know what I’m talking about. But they’re actually doing something cool right now - they’re doing a free preview of their MLB Extra Innings package. Unfortunately, it ends tomorrow, and I just found out about it today. And most of it isn’t in HD. But it means I get to watch the first game of the big Mets-Phillies series, and watch the big rivalry that no one (but my wife’s coworkers) cares about, David Wright vs Ryan Howard. So far Wright is winning. Both are one for three, but Wright has a double, run, and RBI, while Howard just has a single. Good thing I’m not making rash statements based on small sample sizes. I’m a little tempted to pay $129 for Extra Innings for the rest of the season. But I watch too much tv as it is, and I don’t REALLY need to watch out of market baseball games. Maybe when I retire.

Getting back to running

Monday, July 21, 2008

I just saw the doctor this morning about my foot. He says it’s healing nicely, and I got a less bulky bandage that makes it a little easier to walk. He also told me that I should be able to start running again in about six weeks. So, to celebrate my return, I’m going to do the Boo! Run for Life on October 12th, a 10K to benefit the Dean R. O'Neill Renal Cell Cancer Research Fund. It should be fun. West Potomac Park is a nice, easy 10K course. It’s flat and there’s plenty of room. And it will be good motivation to get me running again.

Damn it, Tor

Monday, July 21, 2008

Until Sunday, July 27, you can download all the novels and wallpapers that were given away in our recent “Watch the Skies” program–for free. Don’t delay!

Now they’re gleefully boasting that the carrot they held out to encourage people to sign up early is available to everyone. I know, I could have been reading all those stories I downloaded before everyone else, and it’s not Tor’s fault that there are no good ebook readers. But I really can’t figure out why they wanted people to sign up early. And now that all the free stuff is available to everyone, I can’t even gloat about how I got it first. What a bunch of jerks.

Posted in: complaint , science fiction

After all that, Scalzi had to tell me?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The new Tor.com beta has launched. Despite signing up with them months ago, when they promised free goodies for getting on the mailing list, they seem to have forgotten to notify me of the opening. They did come through with the free goodies - I have a few dozen free ebooks to read as soon as someone makes a stinkin' ebook reader that doesn’t suck. And now they have new short stories from John Scalzi and Charles Stross, which is cool. But I didn’t hear about the launch from Tor, I heard about it from John Scalzi’s blog. What’s the point of signing up for the early mailing list if you aren’t informed when the new site goes live? And why did they do it on a Sunday when no one is paying attention? And why didn’t I already have a username and password? I don’t remember if I signed up for one when I got on the mailing list, but I should have, and they should remember it. I haven’t poked around on the site yet, so I can’t speak to what it’s like, but after all this buildup, the launch itself has been pretty disappointing. Hopefully they’ll iron out the wrinkles and end up with a nice site. I suspect that they will. So now I’m off to check out the site.

Posted in: complaint , science fiction

Nice night for a baseball game

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I was thinking this afternoon that I might watch the Orioles game, since I’m still more or less stuck on the couch. The foot is better, but it’s tough to move around. Dinner intervened (The wife has been fantastic about taking care of me while I’m immobile), and we didn’t see the beginning of the game. I checked ESPN to find the Orioles down, 6-2, after only one inning. That wasn’t encouraging. Daniel Cabrera was walking batters and giving up bombs. It took a minute to find the game - at first I thought MASN was only showing the Nats game (Seriously, who’s watching that?), but then we found the Orioles. It was 7-2 by that time. And then the O’s came back. Let me take a quick break from writing - as I was typing that last sentence, Luke Scott hit a monstrous home run to win it in the bottom of the 10th after a bad call at the plate to end the Detroit half of the inning. Anyway, a big back and forth game, a huge home run from Ramon Hernandez to blow a save for Joel Zumaya, 17 hits for the Orioles. Crazy. But this post is tagged complaint. It was one thing when the Red Sox and Yankees were in Baltimore and the crowd was cheering the visiting team. Not that I think that’s okay, but it’s expected. But in the top of the tenth, the Tigers cheers were loud. The Tigers! That’s the team from Detroit. Who cares about the Tigers? Okay, so the wife likes the Tigers. She’s from Michigan, so it’s okay. But I don’t expect to hear Tigers chants at Camden Yards. Peter Angelos needs to go. Camden Yards is going to be the fastest stadium to 50,000,000 fans in the history of baseball (Although I have to think that the new Yankees stadium will eventually beat that). But if you look at the average attendance each year, you see a big dropoff. It was 45,000 a year for the first seven years, then it dropped under 40,000, and then under 30,000. The Orioles have not shown a commitment to winning in a decade. Their payroll isn’t the problem - they don’t spend Red Sox/Yankees money, but they aren’t the Marlins, either. But Angelos has been too busy complaining about the Nationals to bother putting a good team on the field. This year has been a surprise - the offseason looked like they were rebuilding, and then all of a sudden we have the best team we’ve had in Baltimore in a while. Anyway, it was a fun game to watch. I hope Angelos was busy doing something else and didn’t get to enjoy it, too.

Posted in: baseball , complaint

Am I immune to codeine?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The busted foot is not feeling too great today. I’ve been icing it, and moving my ankle around to keep the blood flowing, but it’s still bothering me. So, I figured I’d try out the Tylenol 3 that they prescribed for me. I finished the work I really needed to get done this week, had some lunch, and took two of them. Well, that was disappointing. Friends had assured me that Tylenol 3 was pretty good stuff - it would definitely take care of my foot. Unfortunately, they were lying. I think it made me a little drowsy, but it sure didn’t help my foot much. The only thing that really seems to help is icing it, and that’s only for twenty minutes at a time. So, I’m left here to complain about it. Fortunately I have lots of practice.

Posted in: complaint , health

What is Billy Beane doing?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just after shipping Rich Harden to the Cubs, Billy Beane trades Joe Blanton to the Phillies? I mean, these seem like fine deals if your team sucks and you’re looking to rebuild for the future, but the Athletics are 51-44, only six games out of first. Seems like the time you want to be adding that one critical part, not dealing away the critical part to National League teams. I read Moneyball, and like anyone else who blogs about baseball, I think Billy Beane can leap tall buildings and travel through time and trade overpaid pitchers for prospects just before their arms go out, but a baseball team can’t compete without a starting rotation. Should be an interesting second half for anyone following the Athletics.

Posted in: baseball , strange

Fleecing the poor

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Via ShysterBall - In the Fray - WSJ.com

Sports economists have long argued that publicly financed stadiums are a waste of taxpayer money. And they have the data to prove it.

Not only are the Nats not paying rent on their beautiful new (empty) stadium, it’s not giving much back to the DC residents who paid to build it. Sure, some new jobs were created. And sure, construction is happening around the stadium. But the new Department of Transportation building right next door probably has a lot more to do with that than the Nats' stadium does. They got a huge taxpayer contribution to build the stadium. Taxpayers pay again for tickets, overpriced food and merchandise, maybe parking. But how many taxpayers are really benefitting? Never mind the state of the Nationals as a baseball team, which is pretty sad. We were lead to believe that paying for a stadium would pay us back in new growth and tax revenue, and I don’t think there’s much evidence of that. The stadium did hit at a bad time in the economy, and that’s certainly slowed the potential growth, but if the economy (and especially the real estate market) had stayed booming like it was a few years ago, we wouldn’t need the stadium promote growth in the area. Supply and demand would have taken care of it.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , dc , harvardstreet

You'd think it would be great

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You’d think being ordered to sit around the house and do nothing would be great, but it sure sucks. The bright side of the surgery is that I haven’t had any pain to speak of, at least not yet. It’s uncomfortable, but not really painful. Haven’t touched the drugs yet. The downside is that, despite having work to do, I’m already bored out of my mind. I’ve made progress with the report I’m working on for my real job, but it’s not interesting work, and it’s hard to stay focused.

Posted in: complaint , health

Foot surgery is awesome

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I had my bunion removed this morning. Right now, I’m sitting on the couch with my foot up, wondering how much it’s going to hurt as the anesthetic wears off. They told me it would be six to eight hours, and the surgery was eight hours ago. Right now I mostly just feel pressure. They wrapped it pretty tight. If it hurts, I have some great drugs, so I should be fine. But I’d rather not have to use them. I guess we’ll see. If you are looking to have surgery, I highly recommend the Center for Ambulatory Surgery at 19th and L NW. From beginning to end, everyone was friendly, helpful, and professional. I can’t speak to the results yet, but so far so good. Too bad it’s the All Star break - this would be a great time to watch some baseball.

Posted in: dc , harvardstreet , health , surgery

The exception to the rule

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ripken Originally uploaded by thetejon

There are some unwritten rules about baseball, both for the players and the fans. You don’t talk to the pitcher during a no-hitter. You don’t walk to or from your seat during an at-bat (Although the clowns in our section at the Nats game the other night didn’t follow this one, not even when the Nats had runners on. I missed a Nats run being scored because an entire family decided they had to get up just then). And you don’t wear a jersey to a game that’s for a team that isn’t involved in the game. Unless it’s a Cal Ripken jersey, as shown in the picture above. You can wear a Cal Ripken jersey to any game, any time, and it is considered perfectly acceptable to punch anyone who makes a disparaging comment. Go ahead and try it - all real baseball fans will have your back. Why, you may ask? That’s a good question. Cal Ripken redefined the position of shortstop. He was 6'4" and 225 pounds when he played the game. That’s about five inches and 50 pounds more than a shortstop was “supposed” to be. But that’s not why he’s the exception. He made the All Star game 19 straight years. That’s longer than most people play. But that’s not why. He played for his dad, right next to his brother. Wikipedia tells us “His 1991 season is the fourth-greatest in baseball history (second among non-pitchers) as measured by WARP3 at 17.0 wins, bested only by Walter Johnson’s 1913 (18.1 wins), Babe Ruth’s 1932 (18 wins), and Amos Rusie’s 1894 season (17.6 wins).” But that’s not why either. No, Cal Ripken is the exception to any rule you might think of (Like the “don’t elect a guy to an All Star game based on reputation alone) because Cal Ripken saved baseball. Back in 1994, baseball went on strike. It was a horrible time to be a fan. I had just gotten into the game a few years before, following the 1988 Athletics through their crushing World Series defeat before latching onto the Orioles' glorious 1989 season and never looking back. And then the strike, and no one knew what to do. We all wanted to go back to being fans, but we were sad and angry and didn’t know what to do. Then came 1995. They restarted the season, although a little late. Then, on September sixth, Cal broke the streak. He played in his 2131st game, surpassing Lou Gehrig’s record, one of those "never be broken” records that every sport has. It’s the most memorable sporting event in my life. I got home from work and turned on the game, still wearing my Subway uniform and smelling of mayonnaise and onions. I watched his victory lap, and I listened to one of the longest ovations in sports history (Thanks, Wikipedia, for the recap). All of a sudden, baseball was cool again. Instead of overpaid, uncaring superstars, we had a guy who just went out there, day after day, and played ball. There are always exceptions to the rule - some pitchers will talk about their no-hitter in the sixth. But Cal can always be the exception. In fact, you may not know this, but a genuine Cal Ripken jersey is even considered acceptable attire, even at a black-tie affair. Try this out, too. Remember, anyone who questions your dedication to Cal can be legally punched in the face. Every baseball fan in the room will be right behind you.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball

Astak, you suck

Friday, July 11, 2008

The jerks at Astak have pushed back the release date of their entry-level ebook reader. Again. Why can’t someone release a reasonably-priced ebook reader that doesn’t suck? The instant someone does it, I will buy one. Please, someone. Please. Not you, Sony. I wouldn’t buy a fire extinguisher from you if my head was on fire. But anyone else.

Posted in: complaint , ebooks , reading

Howard Vs Wright - it's no contest

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some of the wife’s coworkers were having a little argument about the NL All Star selection. On one side we had two Phillies fans, and on the other a Red Sox fan. The Phillies fans thought that Ryan Howard deserved to go the All Star Game. The Sox fan thought David Wright deserved it. Far be it from me to ever agree with a Sox fan, but this time I think I have to. Let’s forget everyone else who might be more qualified. That’s too complicated a question to get into right now. Let’s just compare David Wright and Ryan Howard. First off, I’ll throw out some of the points they made, such as assigning credit towards this year’s voting for past performance. I don’t believe in that. Please ignore all the seasons that Cal Ripken was an All Star on reputation alone - Cal Ripken saved baseball after the strike, and is above reproach. Nothing you can say or do will ever change this fact. I don’t care that Howard led the league in home runs in 2006. He was an All Star that year, and deservedly so. I don’t care that Wright was unfairly blamed for the Mets' catastrophic nosedive at the end of last season. He hit .352 in September and October, and it’s his fault they choked? Please. What matters is this season. And this season, Wright is clearly better than Howard. First, look at fielding. Wright is a good fielder. He won a Gold Glove last year. I know I’m not giving credit for last year, but fielding stats are impossible, and I haven’t seen either of them play enough to judge fielding prowess. It’s enough for me that Wright beats Howard in Gold Gloves (1-0) and Wright plays a real position, third base, while Howard plays the position where you stick your big immobile slugger (Hello, Prince Fielder). If someone can show me that Howard is more valuable in the field this year than Wright, I’ll listen, but I’m going with my gut on this one. Then we’ll look at hitting. Howard leads Wright in home runs, RBI, intentional walks, and double plays. Wright leads in every other offensive category. Let’s look at what Howard leads in. Leading the league in home runs is very nice. It’s valuable to your team, and a good reflection of your worth as a hitter. Point to Howard. Leading the league in RBIs is largely a function of getting up with runners on base. It’s not a consistently good measure of a batter’s ability. Intentional walks are fine, but largely a function of runners on base and the guy hitting behind you. And while hitting into double plays is something the player has some control over, Howard’s small lead (7-11) is not really statistically significant. Wright leads in everything else. Howard is hitting .234. There is no scale on which that is good. But, you may say, what about clutch hitting? Well, first, it’s a myth. But second, Howard is having an absurd year in the clutch, while Wright is pretty miserable. Wright has a .247 batting average and a .737 OPS with runners in scoring position. Howard is at .330/1.079. That’s a pretty big difference. But let’s examine a little more closely. For those not familiar, BABIP, Batting Average on Balls In Play, is a good measure of a batter’s luck. .290 is about average. Anyone significantly higher is probably lucky, and anyone significantly lower is unlucky. Much lower means your line drives are going right to a fielder, while much higher means you’re hitting ‘em where they ain’t at lot more than average. It’s true that a consistently high BABIP would indicate a guy with great bat control, but there are precious few examples of that in the history of the game. Wright’s BABIP with runners in scoring position is .250. For the season, it’s .302, not far from average. Howard, on the other hand, is at a ridiculous .403 with runners in scoring position, against a pedestrian .272 overall. What does that mean? It means that Howard has been absurdly lucky in the clutch this year, while Wright has had a rough stretch. Howard seems to be a monster in the clutch, but it’s entirely unsustainable, and if you watch, he’ll taper off in the second half. Ryan Howard is a great player who should have a very successful career. Everything I’ve heard says he’s a good-natured guy, positive in the clubhouse, and a guy you want on your team. I like Ryan Howard. But David Wright is simply having a better season, and is more deserving of the All Star selection. If Howard has a problem, he should take it up with vastly overrated Matt Holliday, a strictly average hitter when he’s not in Denver.

Posted in: baseball , statistics

Over before it began

Friday, July 11, 2008

The wife got me a big stack of baby books for Father’s Day. It was a great gift, as I’m already looking forward to reading to the kid when it’s born. In fact, we’ve already started reading to it a little bit before bed. Apparently babies are often calmed by hearing books that they first heard before they were born. One of these books is Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karent Katz. The editorial on Amazon is glowing - “Karen Katz’s adorable babies play peekaboo in this delightful interactive book. The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps are perfect for parents and children to share.” Sounds great! Until you look at the cover. Ms. Katz has begun her suspenseful mystery story with one unanswered question - where is Baby’s belly button? But on the FRONT COVER of the book, we clearly see Baby with her shirt pulled up, exposing the missing belly button! Never mind the horrible lessons we’re teaching young girls about lifting their shirts in public. I’ve solved the mystery before I even open the book! Ms. Katz tries to pretend that we’re all stupid, and waits until page six to once again reveal the location of the belly button. At the mere halfway point in the book, we’ve twice revealed the culprit. What if the cover of The Sixth Sense was a picture of Bruce Willis, dead? And then an hour into the movie, we watch him die? That is the sort of nonsense that Ms. Katz thinks we’re looking for in a baby book. She tries to arouse our curiosity with other mysteries - where are baby’s feet? Where are baby’s hands? But I have to admit that I found these questions empty. Once the belly button had made its premature appearance, the rest of the story couldn’t hold my attention, and I quickly put it down.

Posted in: baby , book review , complaint

The Nats aren't paying rent

Friday, July 11, 2008

ShysterBall: Are the Nats Deadbeats?

Here’s my special argument: it doesn’t matter if the stadium is unfinished. Given how bad the Nats are, they aren’t using half the seats, most of the light bulbs on the scoreboard, and the visitor’s bullpen has been virtually untouched, so what’s the problem if the place isn’t done yet?

Indeed, one assumes that the city of DC, when it made the deal to help the Nats build a stadium, thought they were getting a real Major League team to fill it.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , dc , harvartdstreet

Crosswalk misadventures

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I got hit by a truck today. Seriously. I’m fine, although a little bruised. I went to the post office after work to send a cd of wedding photos to the father of the bride and a Book Mooch book. I was meeting the wife at Whole Foods, but I was early, wanting to catch the post office before 5. So I decided to walk to Whole Foods. It’s not a bad walk, although it was pretty hot and disgusting out today. I was waiting to cross 16th St NW at P when the light changed and I got the walk signal. I began to walk. A Ford F-250 coming the opposite direction tried to make a left before the crossing traffic started to move, and I guess he didn’t see me. I didn’t have time to get out of the way. The truck’s bumper hit my left leg, just below the knee. I also have a bruise on my knee and a bruise on my left wrist. I kind of bounced off the truck. Luckily, someone’s Lexus (I think it was a Lexus - it came up on me kind of quick) was parked where I could bump into it and not fall on my face in the middle of 16th Street. That would have been totally embarrassing. I can’t recount the exact conversation I had with the driver. He got out, and was suitably freaked out and apologetic. I think after the initial shock, I was mostly sort of amused that I had actually just been hit by a truck. Have you ever seen an F-250? It’s a big truck. And here’s where I’m non-confrontational to a fault. I’ve gone over this in my head dozens of times since this afternoon, and I still don’t regret walking away. With this guy right in front of me, apologizing profusely and clearly concerned with my well-being, I just wasn’t mad. There were numerous witnesses, and I think some of them called the police. I just wanted to keep walking. Which I did. I got most of the way down the block before the guy caught up with me. There were two DC government employees at the scene, possibly Metro, but I’m not really sure. Apparently they told the guy that he had to get something in writing from me saying that it was cool or they’d have to report it. I didn’t have any extra paper, so I had to wait while the guy called one of the passengers in the truck to bring paper and a pen. That was kind of weird. We both stood there, looking across the street, pretending we were somewhere else. I mean, what are you supposed to do in that situation? “So, you hit me with your truck. Where were you going?” I signed a note saying that I was okay and this was over with, and that was that. The guy thanked me, shook my hand, and sort of hugged me. It was not quite as awkward as it probably sounds, but close. I did ask him what kind of truck it was. I had thought it was an F-250, but I wanted to make sure I got my story straight. I mean, I wouldn’t want to claim to have taken a hit from a bigger truck than actually hit me. I’m no liar. Most of the witnesses were more upset than I was, I think. Two of them came up to talk to me, and one gave me the license plate number of the truck. I appreciate that. I guess maybe I’ll keep it, although I can’t imagine I’d ever need it. My leg is sore, but I’ve been hit harder playing flag football. I imagine other people would have reacted differently. I was in the crosswalk. I did have the right of way, and even if I hadn’t been there, he was still breaking some traffic laws. If he had reacted differently, I probably would have, too. If he had blamed me, I would have been angry. But I’m okay with my reaction. I realize that I take a lot more than I have to without getting angry, or even demanding what I deserve. I’ve always been like that (You can ask my mom). And now I can truthfully tell people that I was hit by a truck and didn’t even fall down. How many people can say that?

I think Brandon Fahey reads my blog

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ever since I posted about him, Brandon Fahey is hitting up a storm. Including that game, he’s .294/.294/.529 with a triple and three doubles. He’s hit into two double plays, but maybe they weren’t his fault. I mean, if there weren’t other jerks on first, clogging up the basepaths, he’d just be grounding out.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball

Maybe that's why everyone loves Wall-E

Friday, July 04, 2008

WALL-E: Cute robot or liberal propaganda? - ParentDish

“From the first moment of the film,” wrote Shannen Coffin, former general counsel to Vice President Cheney, “my kids were bombarded with leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind.”

So, Wall-E has been described as “a 90-minute lecture on the dangers of over consumption, big corporations, and the destruction of the environment.” The cynic in me is wondering if the blogs I read, predominantly pretty liberal, pick up on that, and overstate how good the movie is because it speaks to some of the issues they believe in. That is, it’s getting “good movie” points for “good message”. It’s only natural to come away with a more positive perception of anything - a movie, a person, a work of art, whatever - if that thing supports views you already hold. I certainly don’t mean to imply that the reviewers of Wall-E are being dishonest, even unconsciously. But it’s something to think about. Especially if the conservative reviewers consistently have lower opinions of the movie. I guess I’d have to check out some of them to be sure.

Posted in: interesting , movies , politics

Five Guys is a delicous disaster

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I’m working from home today, which gave me a chance to check out our new Five Guys for lunch. It was busy, but I got through the line quickly. And then I waited. They seemed to be getting orders out pretty fast, but I was number 88, and they served 79 right as I paid. So I waited. When I finally got my lunch, I checked the bag to find two burgers instead of one. Since no one else would eat a second burger (I’m home alone, the wife wouldn’t eat the meat anyway, and the cat probably wouldn’t care), I took the bag back to the counter. As they were trying to figure out what happened, a woman missing a burger from her bag came up beside me. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what happened, and they quickly fixed it. So I came home and ate my delicious pile of fried calories. And now I have to get back to work.

Posted in: Anti complaint , dc , food , harvardstreet

Women give funny looks

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Let me paint you a picture. You are at work in a large office. You don’t know nearly everyone who you see every day, but you recognize most of the faces. You pass by a woman in the hall. She looks at you and makes a face. This face is not a smile. It is as if she has started to smile, but her lips are stuck together, and she forgot that smiles usually convey happiness. This look simply acknowledges your presence. You can make this face, too. Start to smile, but stop yourself before the corners of your mouth turn up, and think of something you don’t care about very much. I believe that this is the female version of The Nod, a universal greeting between males who recognize each other but have never spoken. This Nod can speak 1,000 words. It is a conditioned automatic response. With The Nod, you can say, “We have made eye contact. I do not know who you are, but I have seen you enough times to know that we must have something in common, even if that thing is only that we work in the same building. However, this commonality brings with it a small amount of respect. Since we occupy the same space so often, in order to uphold my self-image, I must assume that your presence here is for some lofty purpose or goal. To deny you this respect is to threaten the foundation of my own self-respect. This I can not do.” I don’t know what the female-equivalent look means. I could guess, but I’d be wrong. If you are a woman, or if you understand women (Read: you are a liar), feel free to leave an explanation in the comments.

The MVNO road is not the one you want

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blogging Stocks | Google’s one chance for Android - become a wireless carrier

The competitive landscape is so tightly controlled that Google’s mantra of “open access” just won’t sit well with wireless carriers used to telling customers what they can and cannot do with their phones.

This is very true. Time and again, the major US wireless carriers have rejected anything they can’t control. But there are a ton of things wrong with this article. First, Verizon announced last year that it’s opening up its network. I’m sure it won’t be as open as it could be, because Verizon is a bunch of jerks, but it’s still a step in the right direction. Second, I think Google’s name will drive some openness. You know how all the carriers want a piece of the iPhone? Look for that to happen again when a few sexy reviews of Google’s phone operating system start cropping up. Like Apple, Google has a sometimes irrational following. People will assume it’s good just because it’s Google. The article continues to state, “the MVNO model has largely failed in the U.S.”. That’s very true. Amp’d? Helio? Bye-bye. It doesn’t seem to be a sustainable business. Google isn’t really into failing, and they’re not stupid. But the dumbest thing the article says is the final line. Google should buy its own space on someone’s network and “give them anything they want. Like, mobile search results with ads next to them.” This is just a fundamental misunderstanding of some or all of the words in that sentence. I think he means “location-based search”, not “mobile”. I want my phone to do a Google Maps search, and I want the default location to be right where I am, right now. Simply making search “mobile” just means making my computer small enough to carry with me all the time. The real “synergy” of phone and search is that the phone already knows where you are. Now it just has to tell your search engine. It’s nice that Google Maps remembers my default location, but with a location-aware wireless device, there’s so much more it can do. Even worse is the idea that people want ads next to their search results. Search customers don’t want ads. We put up with them because they’re unobtrusive, they’re likely to be relevant to what we’re looking for, and they’re a small price to pay for an otherwise free service. If the ads went away and the search stayed the same otherwise, you would get no complaints from anyone not making money on the ads. I’d like to see Google completely skip the US market. Just go to Europe where the networks are open. Verizon and AT&T; and Sprint will come around pretty quickly when everyone who comes in to buy a phone wonders why they can’t have a Google phone. Well, everyone who isn’t there to buy an iPhone, anyway. Or maybe Sprint’s Samsung Instinct, which is apparently doing really well. Certainly Google has the cash to throw at their own chunk of network. But they didn’t get this successful by throwing money at dumb business ideas. I can’t imagine they’re going to start now.

That's TWO doubles this year

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Brandon Fahey Originally uploaded by dnkbdotcom

Brandon Fahey got another extra base hit! That gives him two this year, and brings his slugging percentage to a torrid .241. The Orioles almost blew another one to the miserable Royals, allowing two runs in the 9th before closing it out. They’re still outperforming their Pythagorean win expectation, although not nearly to the extent that Toronto is missing theirs. But at least they’re competitive, which is more than I can say for the Nationals, and more than I expected out of the Orioles this year.

Posted in: baseball , sports

Unexpected consequences of killing the gun ban

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Techdirt | Supreme Court Decision On Guns May Cut Promoting Progress Out Of The Constitution

Again, so whether or not you’re happy with the way the court decided the Heller case, the fact that it has no problem deciding that a clause in the Constitution can be ignored as “preamble” could have very bad consequences for those of us pointing out that dangerous innovation-hindering intellectual property systems are against the Constitution.

A lot has been said about the Supreme Court’s decision that the DC gun ban is unconstitutional, but this is the first time I’ve heard mention of the effects that this precedent might have on other legislation. I don’t much like guns in the house. I don’t want them in my house. I don’t think you should have them in your house, either, but I think you should have a right to have them if you want to. And I don’t think the repeal of the gun ban is going to have a significant effect on the number of guns in the city. My feeling on the constitutionality of the law is that it probably wasn’t. As written, I think you can make a strong argument that the amendment doesn’t say that everyone should be allowed to have a gun. However, it has been interpreted for years to say that it does. Unless we amend the amendment, I think we have to allow people to posses guns. I think we should amend it - not necessarily to ban guns, but to remove the controversy. It should be very clear what the amendment does and doesn’t allow. We’ve been arguing over it long enough. I’m not sure I’d be happy with what the present political climate in the federal government would come up with, though, so maybe we should wait until things are a little more sane. In any event, I hope this doesn’t open the floodgates to picking and choosing which parts of the Constitution are relevant and which aren’t. Awful intellectual property laws are bad, but there are a lot of other parts of the Constitution that we’d all be even sorrier to be without.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , politics

Delicious frozen custard

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

We waited too long to try out the “new” Rita’s Water Ice in Columbia Heights. Their frozen custard is awesome. It’s like ice cream, but creamier. If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, you must be either crazy or lactose-intolerant. Or vegan. But probably crazy. As we were walking, the wife and were talking about how nice it is to see so many people out and about. The intersection of 14th and Irving is full of people, all the time. Even a year and a half ago when we moved here there weren’t half as many people around. Of course, that was before Target and everything opened. And it doesn’t hurt that this is the nicest evening we’ve had in a while - it’s cool and breezy and we’ve already opened the window in the bedroom in anticipation of sleeping without the air conditioning.

Posted in: Anti complaint , dc , food , harvardstreet

Maybe Wall-E really is good

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Seth’s Blog: Bravery and Wall-e

Pixar, recently purchased by Disney, could crank out multi-billion dollar confections… And yet, instead, they make a great movie. A movie for the ages. A film, not 90 minutes of commerce.

blackrimglasses.com - Wall-E

See this movie, as it is film history in the making.

I don’t know what the deal is with this movie. I know people love everything Pixar does. But with a few exceptions (people, not movies), I figured it was just that people like to watch stupid garbage like American Idol and I Survived a Japanese Game Show. But the reaction to Wall-E is ridiculous. Everything I’ve read about this movie has been superlative.

I guess the wife and I will have to go see it. We haven’t been to the movies in a while.

Posted in: Anti complaint , movies

Drupal and the Blog API

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I wish someone had told me you had to enable the Blog API module before you could use all the cool blogging tools like Flickr’s “Blog This” or Firefox plugin ScribeFire. I tried setting up both, and kept getting unhelpful errors. It looked like my username and password were wrong. This was frustrating, because I was sure my username and password were correct. After significant Googling, I finally found a helpful explanation. And now it works perfectly. You can see the previous post, which I sent straight from Flickr. So, hopefully now this page will be one more Google hit explaining that, if you want an external site or application to access your xmlrpc.php file, you’d better turn on the Blog API module.

Posted in: blogging , Drupal , internet

Hillary and Barack

Friday, June 27, 2008

DSC_2028, Originally uploaded by Barack Obama

It’s nice to see Hillary finally putting the party and her country before herself.

I’m just kidding. I’m finding it difficult to be annoyed with her at this point - she lost, and now she’s helping Obama, because that’s what you do when you finish second in a really close and strongly contested race. She’s very capable, and she’s very smart, and I think she can be a great asset to the Obama campaign. I’m just glad she’s not going to be President.

By the way, if you’re not friends with Obama on Flickr, you’re a total loser.

Posted in: Anti complaint , politics

Is Brandon Fahey the worst hitter ever?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just watching a bit of the Orioles-Nationals game. It seems so far that we have Evil Daniel Cabrera rather than Unhittable Daniel Cabrera. He didn’t walk a batter in the two run first inning, but just about every ball he threw was hit hard, and only some good anticipation by Brian Roberts to get a double play got them out of the inning only down 2-0. But Brandon Fahey. Do you understand what it means to have a career OPS+ of 50? This guy must have photos of the O’s GM doing something really, really awful. I know it was time to get rid of Miguel Tejada, but I think I speak for most Orioles fans when I say that we expected you to replace him with a real major league player. Now the bases are loaded for the Nats with two outs in the bottom of the first. I need to go find a bottle of tequila.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Why do you think I'm stupid, Microsoft?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If you read any of the blogs that I do, you’ve probably already seen Bill Gates' 2003 complaint about Windows Update. Windows Update is a piece of junk. It’s always been a piece of junk. It probably always will be a piece of junk. What’s really disappointing is that it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at the package manager in Ubuntu Linux. It’s probably the same in many other flavors of Linux, but I don’t have experience with them. Anyway, package manager is simple. When there are new versions of software or new patches to the operating system, it puts a little notification in my taskbar. When I click the notification, it tells me what is available for update. It even separates them into recommended vs optional, and tells me a little bit about each update. I can choose some, all, or none of the updates to apply. When it’s finished updating, sometimes I have to restart. It puts another notification in the taskbar, and then that’s it. I can restart when I’m ready. Windows, on the other hand, is much more obnoxious. By default, it doesn’t want to tell me what it’s doing. When it finishes, it pops up a window that tells me to restart now or later. If I say later, it pops up again in a couple of minutes. And again. And again. Look, Microsoft, sometimes I’m at work and don’t have the time to restart. Sometimes I’m in the middle of something and just don’t feel like restarting. Why can’t I have that option? Why can’t you just show me a little “You need to restart at some point” notification and leave it at that? And we’re not even talking about Vista here. This is XP on my work computer. And the only reason Windows is on the computer at all is because it’s a work computer. I’ve restarted now, and everything seems to be fine. I don’t know what update it did, but everything still works, so it can’t have been too big a deal. Nice to see Microsoft still patching XP - I guess they realize that Vista sucks, and most people who don’t have to upgrade haven’t (and won’t).

Posted in: complaint , computers , Ubuntu

Another ebook reader set to fail

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Teleread | Astak E Ink readers: Five- and six-inchers due in July; 9.7 inch flexi screen and Walmart and Costco e-stores in ‘08?

Models with five- and six-inch screens are tentatively scheduled to be offered for sale at the Astak Web site around July 28. That’s next month, yes, not this one as Astak originally wanted, but it is still an acceptable delay, given all the technical and business variables. Astak hoped to sell the five incher for less than $200 but now plans to start out at $229-$249 in order to allow pricing flexibility for the big chains, which Bob hopes will start selling Astak products around October.

The word on this ebook reader just a month ago was that there were three sizes, with the smallest starting at about $150. That was awesome. The $300+ ebook readers out there now are just too expensive to change the market. Sony and Amazon, as well as some lesser known players, already have expensive e-paper devices. To beat them, you have to either change the experience of reading a book, or blow the doors off them on price. This latest news suggests that Astak is doing neither. I see wifi and bluetooth and touchscreen and I cringe. I can get a cell phone with all these things. None of these are going to change the market for reading books. Having Walmart and Costco on board is good for mass adoption, but convincing shoppers to pay $250 to be allowed to read a small subset (for now) of all available books that aren’t even cheaper than their much-more-expensive-to-produce paper brethren is something that even the gifted marketers at Apple would have a hard time accomplishing. So it looks like I’m back to waiting for something that may not come for a while. I thought I could hold out until the end of July, but I thought I was getting change back from $200. As priced (Assuming the linked info is accurate), this one is a pass just like Amazon’s Kindle.

Posted in: complaint , gadgets , reading

I could have been killed

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Have you ever walked south on 16th Street on the right hand side across U Street? You have a light there, but then you have to cross New Hampshire with a crosswalk and no light.
View Larger Map The wife and I do it just about every day on the way to work. It’s not a problem to cross U Street, but crossing New Hampshire is a little dicey. Almost every day, someone assumes that, because they aren’t turning at a 90 degree angle, they don’t have to yield to pedestrians. Twice in the last month or so, we’ve had a car actually slow down or pull over to yell at us for getting in the way. This is all while walking in a crosswalk, by the way. The wife, being more confrontational than I, has exchanged words with some of these drivers. I emailed Jim Graham yesterday, and he has tasked a staff member with looking into it. I want them to put up a sign reminding people that they have to yield. I know it’s a funny intersection, but it’s an area with a lot of foot traffic, and it’s dangerous. It doesn’t help that many pedestrians will yield their right of way to cars. I understand the reasoning there - if you get hit by a car, your broken bones and whatnot don’t really care about the stand you were making for pedestrian’s rights. However, when you give up your right of way, you are also taking mine, because now the drivers think they’re right. So stand up for your right of way. And if you’ve ever had this trouble at this intersection, or any other, write to your councilmember. I don’t actually know who’s in charge of that area - Ward 1 and Jim Graham’s turf ends just north of there at Florida Avenue. But your councilmember would no doubt be aware of who needs to be notified. I’ll keep you posted on what he intends to do about it.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , safety , traffic

A little anniversary

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I don’t remember exactly when I started this blog, but tomorrow is the second anniversary of the earliest post still in existence. That’s a long time. I wrote a lot more about stuff in the news when I started. Maybe I should go back to that. I had more time at work to find things to write about then. Now I actually have to do work when I’m at work. It’s really tough to find time for my hobbies during the day. So, here’s to another two years. Or more.

Nats beat the rain, not the Angels.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

imgp1165Another game, another loss. Lackey was highly effective if not impressive to watch. Jay Bergmann, a nice example of why record is a crummy indicator of pitching success, matched him most of the game. Unfortunately for the Nats, Willie Harris provided the entirety of their offense, and the defense deserted them in the top of the eighth. Our new seats were okay. I don’t really like having to walk indoors through the air conditioning to get to our seats. It just seems wrong. And there was a really obnoxious guy sitting just behind us. He appears to have season tickets, since my boss recognized my description of the guy. But they’re comfortable (Padded seats! At a baseball game!) and it’s a good view. So I guess I can’t complain. And they played the game this time. Two straight rainouts would have been tough to take.

The weather around here is whack

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two hours ago it was sunny. Half an hour ago, it was raining hard enough to fill up the entryway to DCUSA (With people trying to escape the rain, I mean). Now the sun is coming back out. Normally, I wouldn’t care too much, but we got my company’s Nationals tickets tonight, and they’re the newly upgraded seats with access to the Stars and Stripes Club, whatever that is. Last time we tried to go to a game, we got rained out. And tonight the game is delayed an hour and a half, but is scheduled to start at 8:30. So we’re cooking dinner (read: I sautéed some vegetables and now the wife is putting them on a pizza) and getting ready to give the game a shot. I find it a little ridiculous that I’ve had tickets to two games this month, and both have been affected by rain. Although while the first game was one that I chose months ago, these tickets were handed to me this afternoon because no one else wanted to go. Perhaps the weather report had something to do with that. In any event, John Lackey is scheduled to pitch for the Angels tonight, and he’s having a fantastic season (When he’s not on the DL) - his 0.92 WHIP means he’s pretty much not allowing any baserunners. And while Vlad Guerrero is having an off-year by his standards (.289/.348/.506), he’s in the middle of a 13 game hitting streak. There are probably going to be some Nationals players involved in the game, too.

Pregnant wife bonus

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One of the nice things about having a pregnant wife is that, when a recipe calls for white wine, she can’t help you finish the bottle. Just kidding. We have a bottle of white wine, a 2006 Primaterra pinot grigio. So, now we can calculate the Complaint Hub Wine Score.

  1. Alcohol Review gives it 3.25 stars. We’ll convert that to a 100 point scale, multiplying by 20 to get 65. They say it costs $7, and it was on sale at Whole Foods, so we’ll give it a PPD of 9.29. That’s a pretty decent score.
  2. It’s Italian, so no California Penalty.
  3. Again, no Australia or New Zealand Bonus.
  4. It’s got a pretty solid label. It’s a cheap wine, so I don’t expect much, and the label is different, but it’s not doofy. Plus 10.
  5. Multiply by Planck’s Constant.
  6. Planck’s Constant is really small. No one wants a wine score in scientific notation. So let’s open up Open Office Spreadsheet and do some formula magic. First, let’s take the arc cotangent, which gives us 1.57. You can quibble about significant digits in the comments.
  7. That’s still not a good number. So we divide one by the natural log of that, which gives us 2.21.
  8. I’m not a huge fan of white wine, so let’s multiply by 50 and subtract a 25 point White Wine Penalty. Then we round down, because the digits after the decimal were never really significant anyway. And we’re left with 63. So you see, this is clearly a good wine rating system, since it’s right in line with the score from another website! The wine tastes fine. Not too sweet, not too dry. It pairs well with a seitan picatta from Veggie Times. It probably has some flavor notes of something. Maybe fruit? White’s usually have fruit notes, right? In conclusion, it’s a nice value at $7.
Posted in: Anti complaint , food , health , parenting , wine

Out of curiosity

Sunday, June 22, 2008

For those of you who read the site via the actual front page, rather than the RSS feed (Which, if Google Analytics and Feedburner are accurate and I’m reading the numbers correctly, is about 1/3 of you), do you ever look at “What I’m reading” on the right side of the page? These are things I’ve come across on my RSS feed that I find interesting, but don’t really have anything to say about. I’m going to keep sharing things there regardless of who’s reading, because I know at the very least, Mike looks at them on his Google Reader, and sharing them takes virtually no effort on my part. But I was curious if anyone looks at them, or has maybe found a site they didn’t otherwise know about through them.

Posted in: blogging

Looking for a present for me?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gizmodo | Knight Rider GPS With KITT’s Voice!

Apparently, you will recognize his familiar voice as soon as you fire it up and hear “Hello Michael, where do you want to go today?”

The wife doesn’t think this is awesome, which would be grounds for divorce if she wasn’t so cool otherwise. But this is a GPS that gives you directions with KITT’s voice. There are two things that would be cooler. One, if you could get it to say your own name instead of “Michael”. Although it would be cool if it asked where Michael was now and then. And two, the whole turbo-boost, auto-drive, and bullet-proof-ness of KITT would be pretty awesome. But I guess that’s a little much to ask from a $300 device.

Posted in: awesome , gadgets , my childhood

Hey, people like Drupal and SEO

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A bunch of hits on the last post, especially for a Friday night. It looks like people are watching stuff tagged with “Drupal” or “SEO” or something like that. Anyway, at the advice of the commenters, I’ve replaced trackback with pingback, which requires less (no) effort and still accomplishes that two-way link between me and anyone who happens to link to me. I also tweaked my robots.txt file. So, we’ll see what happens. Now I just have to keep writing things that people find interesting. Or, you know, start.

Posted in: blogging , Drupal , seo

Drupal, SEO, and you

Friday, June 20, 2008

I’ve been getting annoyed by a few things about this blog. First, in the last sixty days, exactly 28% of the pageviews on the site are one page - the community bitch page about Vector Security. The percentage is even higher if you include some other random pages that come up on a Google search for “vector security” and related terms. Which brings me to the second point - Drupal’s default “Clean URLs” are crap for search engine indexing. If none of this makes sense to you, stop reading now. Go read something else, like Bad Astronomy Blog or Whatever or any of the other millions of blogs out there. Some of them are certainly talking about something that interests you. But if you’re interested in what I’m doing to help people find me, read on. I want people to find me based on stuff I write about a lot - complaining, sports, probably some politics when we get closer to November. I appreciate the people who come here looking for Vector Security, but that’s not really my focus here. So I took some steps to become more search-engine-friendly. SEO, if you will. First, I installed multiping. By default, Drupal isn’t that good at pinging Technorati and whatnot. I think you can set it up with cron, but I don’t understand cron, and don’t feel like learning. Multiping takes the cron out of pinging. Now, Technorati gets updates whenever I post, and they can share my posts with the world. Then I added trackbacks. Trackbacks are one of those things, like the Metric system, that sound like a really good idea, but depend on widespread adoption to really succeed. But I figure it can’t hurt to be trackback-enabled. And I added pathauto. Now, the link for this post (As opposed to the link to the front page) is complainthub.com/blog/drupal-seo-and-you instead of complainthub.com/node/943. This is much more informative, and I think it’s much better for search engine indexing. So we’ll see how it goes. Either it will be awesome, and my traffic will go through the roof, or it will be exactly the same. Or somewhere in between. I’m betting on somewhere in between.

Posted in: blogging , Drupal , internet , seo

So we meet again

Friday, June 20, 2008

ShysterBall | Cito Gaston’s Second Coming

Gibbons is out in Toronto. Cito is back!

I hate Cito Gaston. Ever since the 1993 All Star Game, when he picked half the Blue Jays team and didn’t put hometown hero (Well, before he jumped ship to the Yankees) Mike Mussina into the game, I’ve hoped that bad things would happen to him. Not bad like losing a limb or a child or anything like that, but bad like losing an inordinate amount of socks in the dryer, or living next door to a really bad teenage garage band. And now he’s back as the manager of the Blue Jays. He was reasonably successful ten to fifteen years ago, but that’s a long time ago. Anyway, I wish him the worst possible luck in his continued management career. But, you know, nothing really bad.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Email Etiquette

Friday, June 20, 2008

We have a user email list at work that people can send mail to and have it distributed based on some permission algorithm that I don’t understand. It’s convenient for system status updates and whatnot. Today, someone with a higher admin level than I would have expected him to have sent an email FROM that email address to about 60 people. Within thirty seconds, I had fourteen autoreply emails from people on the list who were out of the office. Within ten minutes, the number had jumped to 29. First of all, why in the world are 50% of the people in that organization (The State Department) who use our tool out of the office? Second of all, who sends an email FROM a group address? It just means that any replies go to all, even if the replier doesn’t hit “reply all”. Third of all, it’s 3pm on Friday. I should totally not be thinking about work anymore.

Posted in: complaint , email , work

More spam poetry

Friday, June 20, 2008

A 21-YEAR-OLD man has gone missing after a night out in a city centre. Police are searching for Jonathan Jenkins who was last seen in Wind Street in the centre of Swansea last Sunday evening. Mr Jenkins, of Townhill, Swansea, was reported missing some time after he left a city centre pub to have a cigarette. A spokesman for Swansea Police said, ?He was in So Bar, in Wind Street, when he went for a cigarette outside at about 9.30pm, and he has not been seen since.¦ There is safe variant to have cigarettes from here:

This is the text of a spam comment I got on one of my older posts. It also included some links to buy cheap cigarettes online, which I won’t include here. It’s interesting that the spammers are starting to tell little stories about what they’re trying to sell you. This one is topical (More and more states, counties, and countries are banning smoking inside), pertinent (It talks about cigarettes, and then tries to sell them to me!), and slightly incoherent. I’ve never understood why they don’t edit these things. If they had posted this with no grammatical mistakes and only one link, it probably would have gotten through my spam filter. Anyway, just thought I’d share the comment before I deleted it. Here’s another.

Wednesday, 9am - A discarded cigarette caused a car to catch fire in Great Ponton, near Grantham, last night. The owner of the BMW Z3 extinguished the fire with a powder extinguisher by the time firefighters from Grantham arrived on the scene at around 6.15pm. The engine compartment was damaged in the fire. Be careful while smoking! Follow the smoking instruction here:

Posted in: art , poetry , spam

My scale goes to 10,000

Friday, June 20, 2008

Vinotrip | The Search For A Wine Rating System That Makes Sense

No longer must two wines be tied at 90, leaving intrepid point chasers scratching their heads while they decide which wine will impress their friends more. The tie can be broken, with one wine receiving a 904.5 and the other falling short at 901.9. Finally, the question can be answered: which wine is better?

I like my wine to be scored. That way, I can make an entirely mathematical decision on my purchase.

  1. Calculate the Points Per Dollar value (PPD): If the score is 92 and the wine costs $12.99, the DPP is 7.08.
  2. Subtract the California Penalty: My first introduction to California wines was Beringer and the like, and I’ve never quite forgiven the state, even though it does produce some great wines
  3. Add the Australia Bonus and the lesser New Zealand bonus : We went to Australia and New Zealand on our honeymoon and took a wine tour in Australia’s Barossa Valley, so I’m always partial to their wine. As an aside, “Zealand” is not in Firefox’s default dictionary. Weird.
  4. Add the label adjustment: The label should be interesting, but not too cutesy. If you have a cool label, you get a bonus. If you made a label you want me to think is cool, or if you phoned it in, you get demerits.
  5. Multiply by Planck’s Constant.
  6. Realize the wife, who can’t drink the wine until the baby is born, is getting antsy.
  7. Buy the bottle of Rosemount Shiraz on sale for $8.99. Actually, I should probably just keep heading over to Vinotrip for scores.
Posted in: wine

Hooray for placenta migration!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just got back from our final sonogram appointment. The wife’s placenta, which was too close to the cervix at the last appointment, has migrated into a perfectly normal spot. Had it not moved, we would have had to schedule a C-section, which we really didn’t want. I mean, sure, if it’s the choice between C-section and serious danger to mother or child, we’ll take the C-section. Anyway, we’re both quite pleased. Her more than me, I imagine, since she’s the one who would have had her stomach cut open.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baby , health , parenting

Wow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I thought the Celtics were going to win Game 6. I didn’t think the Lakers had any chance of sweeping two in Boston. But I have to admit that I did not anticipate watching the Celtics absolutely blow the Lakers off the floor. That was incredible. The second half was like watching a #1 seed crush the winner of the play-in game. I hope this settles the argument once and for all - Kobe Bryant is not Michael Jordan. Aside from the first four minutes of this game, when he was spectacular, he might as well have been on the bench. My two major complaints: 1) ABC didn’t manage to get the HD feed working until the second quarter. Nice job, ABC. 2) The NBA took their really great “Where [whatever] happens” ad campaign and turned it into a really cheesy championship merchandise ad. Way to blow it at the last minute, NBA. Other than that, what a friggin' night.

Go download Firefox 3 RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Today is the day! It’s Firefox Download Day! Their servers seem to have recovered from the earlier rush, so now is your chance to get Firefox 3. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to close other applications before starting Setup.

Posted in: Anti complaint , internet , nerd

Bring on Game 4

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Lakers won Game 3 at home last night, to the surprise of pretty much no one. However, if you’re a Lakers fan, you can’t possibly be happy with that game. Paul Pierce was in foul trouble the whole game, and wasn’t hitting his shots when he was in the game. Garnett didn’t shoot well. And it still took 20 points from Sasha Vujacic to beat Boston. I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb and say that he doesn’t repeat that performance in this series. In any event, I feel good about the series. Pierce (2 for 14) and Garnett (6 for 21) will play better tomorrow. Kobe got to the line plenty of times and still didn’t dominate the game like the announcers keep saying he will. By the way, I am pretty tired of hearing about him the entire game. He is being contained. 36 points is nice, but nothing special for him, and he had one assist. If Odom and Gasol don’t step it up, this is going to be a tough run for the Lakers when Vujacic, Pierce, and Garnett go back to normal.

Posted in: basketball , complaint , sports

Back from Boston

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

imgp1119 So we’re back from Boston. The trip home sucked - I was tired and hungover after being out until 3, and our train was late, dumping us at Union Station just after midnight. Other than that, the trip was fantastic. The Game, if you didn’t watch it or read about it, was a good one for a Boston fan, so long as you ignore that little 31-9 run by the Lakers in the fourth. The company was fantastic as usual. I finally made it to Beer Works. And the experience of watching a Finals game at the Garden was incredible. The video I posted to Flickr doesn’t do it justice - my crappy little point-and-shoot didn’t pick up most of the crowd noise. But I think you get the idea. We left the game hoarse from yelling, and the wife has a little bruise on her wrist where her bracelet kept hitting when she clapped. There were some L.A. fans at the game, but not too many. It was funny listening to Celtics fans give them a hard time. It was mostly pretty good-natured. One kid walking behind us as we headed towards our seats was yelling at any Lakers fans he saw, until two big guys passed by. He shut up pretty quickly then. I turned around and laughed at him, and he sort of shrugged. I guess he hadn’t yet drank away his survival instinct. And now it’s almost time for Game 3.

Just let me do my job

Friday, June 06, 2008

LifeHacker | IM Can Reduce Workplace Interruptions, Study Shows It has always driven me crazy that so many workplace IT departments block various web pages deemed as harmful to productivity. My philosophy is:

  • If I’m using too much bandwidth, reprimand me
  • If I’m not doing my job, reprimand me Otherwise, trust me to be an adult and do my job. Who are you to say what web sites I might need to do my job? At my previous job, we used GTalk all the time for legitimate work purposes (In addition to non-work purposes) before they blocked it. Dozens of times I’ve been researching a work problem and come up against a blocked website. I spend A LOT of time on the computer. Too much, some might say. And some of it is time spent at work on non-work things. I freely admit this. But I get my job done. Sometimes, GTalk helps me do that. Sometimes some sketchy-looking forum helps me do that. Sometimes Google Documents helps me do that. And sometimes I just want to putz around on eBay for fifteen minutes to clear my head. I think if employers started worrying more about actual employee productivity than micromanaging internet access, we’d all be a lot better off.

I can't handle The Truth

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My wife, six months pregnant with our first child, on a yoga mat doing pregnancy exercises, just looked up at me and said, “I wouldn’t leave you for Paul Pierce, but I would think about it.”

Posted in: basketball , complaint , sports

More music from Nine Inch Nails

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More free music from Nine Inch Nails. Well, sort of. Free download of DRM-free MP3s of one Nine Inch Nails song from the most recent album, The Slip, and four songs from bands touring with Nine Inch Nails. Just downloaded and haven’t listened yet because the Celtics are on, but I recommend that everyone download this stuff. If you like it, consider buying a cd or going to a show or something.

More and more annoyed

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The more I think about it, the more I’m annoyed that I missed the Nationals game today. How often do you see a guy like Albert Pujols walk on to the field as a pinch hitter and hit his 297th career home run? This guy is twenty-eight. His career batting average is .333, OBP .423, SLG .621. If you aren’t a baseball fan, you may not understand those numbers. That’s okay. They’re absurd. If he plays at more or less this level for the next five to ten years, which is what’s going to happen unless he gets hurt, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer, the kind of guy you don’t even debate. It’s just a given. So I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to see him. And the Cardinals aren’t coming back to DC this season. I’ll see him one of these days, though. Next year I get an earlier shot at the company season tickets, so I should be able to pick up a Cardinals game. Now back to the basketball game.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Rainout

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Running for coverThe Nationals game was rained out last night, so I didn’t get to see Albert Pujols. It was fun anyway - we wandered around the stadium, stopped at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and then came home. I actually saw someone wearing a McGwire shirt. I’m kind of surprised - I thought he was pretty much disgraced and forgotten. I mean, he was my favorite player growing up, and I wouldn’t wear a McGwire shirt. There was also a tiny girl in an Eckstein jersey, probably about the size of Eckstein himself. I’d guess she weighed about 95 pounds. I almost took a picture of her to send to Fire Joe Morgan, but then I thought she might not appreciate it. Edit to add: They’re making up the game today at 1, which doesn’t really work for my schedule, but Pujols isn’t playing. I don’t really mind missing a game between the awful Nationals and the Pujols-free Cardinals. Edit again to add: Pujols pinch hit in the 7th and hit one out in a 4-1 Cardinals win. Now I’m annoyed. I should have gone to the game.

My wife is the good kind of crazy

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

So it looks like I’m going to Boston this weekend. The wife has orchestrated a huge family-and-friends get-together at Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. All the details aren’t yet in, but it looks like my father-in-law and at least two brothers-in-law will be there, plus some other friends. We’re taking the train up on Sunday, in part because we have a wedding in Annapolis on Saturday. Then back home on the train on Monday to go back to work Tuesday, since we’re missing the following Monday for our Vegas trip. I thought Paris was our babymoon, but I guess I was wrong. Games at the Garden when the wife was living in Connecticut have achieved legendary status, so I’m looking forward to this. I’ve never been to a pro sports playoff game. I guess Celtics-Lakers is a good way to start. Of course, we’re busy at work right now. So I’m going to be working on the train, which should be interesting. But at least I have that option.

The future of paper

Monday, June 02, 2008

Seth’s Blog: Do you own trees?

Many businesses act as if they have a stake in their suppliers and other vendors. Instead of scaling the part of their business that can move quickly and well, they defend the part they don’t even own.

Many in the music industry are figuring out that there are new ways to make money. As Techdirt says, every aspect of the music business is growing rapidly except the sale of plastic discs with music on them. And Godin says, “there are more people reading more news every day than ever before”. He doesn’t substantiate his claim, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. And then he talks about the book industry.

I worry about my esteemed friends in the book publishing industry as well. The amazing thing about the Times story today was the report that the mood at BEA was ‘unease’ about ebooks. The fastest-growing, lowest cost segment of the business, the one that offers the most promise, the best possible outcome and has the best results… is causing unease!

This is what hits closest to home for me. I like to maintain that I have a book or two in me somewhere that will come out eventually. But I look at the industry of selling pieces of paper with words on them and I think it’s in trouble. It hasn’t happened yet because no one has made the book equivalent of the iPod (No, you didn’t do it, Amazon. The Kindle is kind of cool, but not there yet), but ebooks WILL be better than books. It’s inevitable. We’ll all miss the feel of paper in our hands, but we’ll get over it because of all the things you’ll be able to do with electronic words that you couldn’t with paper ones. And since the marginal cost of producing an additional copy of an ebook is nothing, the price of ebooks must go to zero in an efficient market. Sure, the book industry can go down the same route as the music industry did and put artificial barriers in place to drive up prices. But that kind of an industry can’t last for long. It’s economically inefficient, and it’s insulting to the customer who just wants not to be treated like a criminal. So, how do we get authors to write more books? Sure, JK Rowling can make money without selling paper books. The top authors in the world, and some who hit small but dedicated niches, and some other authors in special situations will all make money. But what is the equivalent of concert tickets in the book industry? Speaking engagements? That might work for a few, but not for most. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know how we can replace the paper book industry with the ebook industry. I wish I did, because I’d be in good position to make a lot of money.

Best Buy electronics recycling comes to Columbia Heights!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Via Gizmodo, our new local Best Buy in Columbia Heights is part of the free electronics recycling test.

Starting June 1, 117 stores in the Baltimore, San Francisco, and Minnesota markets are inviting customers to bring in no more than two (2) units per day, per household, for recycling at no charge. Customers can bring items such as televisions and monitors up to 32”, computers, phones, cameras, and other electronics devices and peripherals in for recycling.

This is really great for DC residents, because while the dump does take electronics to be recycled, my one experience there ended with a never-ending line that I soon abandoned. And now the old and busted computer sitting in the trunk of my car can finally have a new home!

Bill Simmons is fired

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I read Bill Simmons for a long time. He’s written some funny articles, and his nomination of Bo Jackson as the greatest video game athlete of all time is absolutely right. And he was cool, years ago, when the Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots all sucked. He’d talk about his beloved local teams now and then, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t ignore. But when they started doing well, it became quite clear that he would be better off writing for the Boston Globe and not something national. Well, maybe he wouldn’t be better off, but we would. He couldn’t go a paragraph without mentioning his teams. And I actually used to like the Pats and the Sox - my grandmother spends a lot of time in New England, so she got to root for both teams a bit, and since they were both terrible for a long time, I was happy to root for them when they weren’t playing the Orioles or Redskins. And then they got good. You, Red Sox fans, are some of the most annoying in all of sports. Some of you, the real die hards, are okay. But most of you have been waiting years, not for your team to be as good as the Yankees, but for you to have the excuse to be as annoying as Yankees fans. It only took one World Series victory to turn you from lovable underdogs into Yankees fans who wear red. But back to Simmons. He had an internship contest that my brother entered. He went to great lengths to explain how he was going to choose the winner, and then ignored all his rules and chose someone who simply aped his style. I stopped reading him completely a few years ago. I just got tired of him talking about his favorite teams all the time. I’d stop reading an article as soon as he started to gush about a Boston team, and pretty soon there wasn’t much for me to read. Many of you may have read this article, which I did not, but apparently it’s not flattering to the Celtics. The wife directs me to this response from Celtics Blog.

From here on out: Stop It. Just Stop. We no longer want you talking about our team publicly. You’ve lost all credibility with Celtics fans. All of it. Don’t bother with some lame and dumb reverse jinx excuse to explain your writing. And really, spare us the joyous article after we do win the title. None of us want to hear about it from Showtime Simmons. Enjoy rooting for Kobe, we hope you’ll be happier sitting next to Diane Cannon, just don’t tell us about it.

I hope he takes it to heart. He has to decide if he’s really a fan, in which case he should write for a Boston area publication and love his teams no matter what, or he can be a national columnist and pretend he cares about other teams in the league (Aside from, apparently, the Lakers). And speaking of the Celtics (The one team from Boston I still like, because the wife loves them and I never had a basketball team I cared about), I actually agree with Mike Wilbon for the first time in a while - the offensive foul on Paul Pierce that they called on his late three point attempt was absolutely awful. I’m glad it didn’t end up affecting the outcome, because it was just terrible. Tayshaun Prince jumped in the air and landed on Pierce while he was shooting and somehow it’s an offensive foul? Crazy. Anyway, I’m looking forward to game 1 on Thursday. Unlike Simmons, I actually want the Celtics to win, and think they can do it. It’ll be tough - LA is a great team. But it can be done, and it can be done by the Celtics. Edit to add: An LA fan thinks that Simmons sucks, too.

Posted in: basektball , funny , sports

Security Theater is getting literal

Friday, May 30, 2008

BoingBoing | European airlines test spycams in every seat that “detect terrorism” in your facial expressions

The European Union’s Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger’s seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or “air-rage” incidents, by tracking passengers' facial expressions…

This is SUCH a good idea. I can’t wait until they implement this and they start diverting flights because stoned idiots on the way to Amsterdam are making faces at the camera, or maybe someone who’s agoraphobic is sweating and tense. This will be even better than detaining infants who have names on the terrorist watch list.

At least it isn’t the United States this time. I’m comforted to see that we don’t have a monopoly on totally absurd security theater.

There was discussion at the birthing class of bringing breast milk in your carry-on, and how TSA had initially banned it with their ridiculous no-liquids rule. I think they first amended the rule to allow breast milk if you had the baby with you, and then again to allow it without a baby. That way, women on trips away from the baby who were faithfully pumping and storing the milk for their return would be able to do so.

First, I think it’s good that they allow this - it’s much more of a big deal than I realized before the wife got pregnant. But second, if breast milk is safe on the plane, then SO ARE OTHER LIQUIDS. It is utterly insane to think that six ounces of shampoo will cause a plane to crash into the White House, but a long weekend worth of breast milk is totally safe.

Anyway, I wish the terrorists who hate our freedom would try a plot involving things I don’t like. Maybe they could hatch a plot to put bombs in wheelie bags and drag them around the city! That would be great! Then maybe we could ban those stupid things from getting in my way when I’m walking to work. And I wish these terrorists would have a little concern for MY feelings and MY needs. Selfish jerks.

Birthing Class

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We went to our second birthing class today. I continue to feel ridiculous carrying a pillow down Columbia Road. Last week, someone wanted to buy the pillows from us. This week someone asked us if we were on our way to a pillow fight. He did congratulate us when I told him why we were carrying them, so there’s that, but still. Class today was about nutrition. It was a lot of stuff we already knew, and the wife is already doing most of the things that the instructor recommended, but it’s nice to get the reinforcement. The solo husbands from last week both brought wives this time. I imagine the class is more interesting with a partner.

Posted in: baby , parenting

Help Firefox set a world record

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Download Day 2008 is coming. We’re just not sure when. They’re trying to set a world record for software downloads in a day. Since you should be using Firefox 3 as soon as it comes out, this is a great opportunity. In case you haven’t tried Firefox, it is light years ahead of Internet Explorer. Even IE7, which Microsoft put out to implement a bunch of functionality that’s been in Firefox and other browsers for quite some time, is a steaming pile of crap compared to Firefox. Anyway, join in. It’ll be fun to watch the Mozilla Foundation’s servers melt with the download traffic.

Posted in: computers , geek , internet

My happy hour was a success

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I started planning a happy hour for the Columbia Heights Forum because people were starting to argue a bit too much, as people tend to do on forums. I figured it would be more friendly if people met each other in person. So the happy hour was last night at Wonderland, and it was pretty cool. I met a few people I “know” from the forum, and we had some local blog coverage (The Heights Life has a picture of our group at that link). There was a bit of discussion about making these meetups a little more regular, so we’ll see what happens. There are still a few forum regulars I’m dying to meet in person. Edit to add: In the comments to the Heights Life post, there is a discussion EXACTLY like the discussions that prompted me to plan the happy hour in the first place. People get angrier discussing things on the internet because you can’t see a person’s face, you can’t hear the tone of their voice, you can’t get the non-verbal cues that tell you what the person is really saying. And it’s anonymous - it’s much easier to hate someone you don’t actually know. So I think it’s kind of amusing that the post about the happy hour generated exactly the sort of discussion that the happy hour was supposed to prevent.

Maybe Metallica finally gets it

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ethan Kaplan, the VP of technology at Warner Bros. Records, just announced a new website for Metallica that makes it look like they’ve finally decided that music plus internet is not necessarily bad. The site looks like it’s trying to build a community of fans by giving them some free stuff, deals on merchandise, and promoting the new album. It’s too bad I’m not still fourteen and eager to buy anything Metallica produced. It’s funny that the crotchety old guys who wanted to kill the entire internet when people first realized they could download music illegally are now near the front of the pack of major (Okay, it’s questionable if Metallica counts as “major” these days, but bear with me) bands embracing a “I can make more money by giving away non-scarce goods to promote the scarce ones” business model.

A trip to Camden Yards

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Camden YardsThe Orioles climbed out last place yesterday with a win over the Yankees. The wife and I went with two other couples. I had almost forgotten how much I like the stadium in Baltimore. The new Nationals Park is nice, but it’s no Camden Yards. I suppose that may be because the Orioles are my team, and I’d love their park no matter what. Anyway, it’s kind of depressing to go to a game there these days. Thanks to Peter Angelos and his commitment to pretending to want to win, attendance at Camden Yards is pretty sad. There were more Yankees fans than Orioles fans (Although most of the Yankees fans left after the Orioles went up 6-0 in the seventh). I’ve never been to a sporting event where the visiting fans were so overpowering. There were Yankees chants that Orioles fans mostly ignored. I guess it’s hard to yell back when you’re outnumbered. The win was nice. Garrett Olson was pretty dominant in seven shutout innings. Nick Markakis had three hits, two runs, and two RBIs. And aside from Matsui and his three hits, the Yankees were pretty pathetic on offense. And we saw a drunk woman in a Jeter shirt get escorted out by security. We saw an Orioles fan propose to his girlfriend (She said yes). And the weather was beautiful. Now all we need to do is a few more wins to put some distance between us and the bottom of the division.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

Mars Landing

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bad Astronomy Blog and countless others are all over this, but it took seeing pictures to really get me excited. We just landed something on Mars that is going to try and find out if there is or was or could be life on the planet. That’s pretty friggin' cool. The potential for life on Mars doesn’t really excite me that much - it’s not like we’re going to meet E.T. or anything. The life we’re hoping to find is either long dead or just a couple of cells. Scientifically fascinating and important if it’s there, but not that big a deal for the average person. But Mars. It’s incredible that we can actually put a little machine on the planet, and then have it do stuff and send back information. Kinda makes you wonder why there are still places you can’t get decent cell phone reception.

Posted in: Anti complaint , cool , science , space

Getting rid of some books

Monday, May 26, 2008

Last night I joined BookMooch to get rid of some of the extra books I have lying around that no one will ever read again. They range from old paperbacks I bought for plane trips to pretty new hardbacks that I read but didn’t love. I mean, I’m not giving away my tattered paperback Catch-22 that I’ve read a dozen times, or my signed copy of Halting State. But I have plenty of books that I don’t need. BookMooch works by giving you points for giving away books. 1/10 of a point for listing a book you’re willing to give. One point for actually sending it, and 3 for sending it overseas. For each point, you can request a book from someone else. The sender always pays shipping. So I listed eleven books last night that I’m willing to part with. Within an hour, I already had four requests, and by this morning it was up to six. So it looks like I’m making a trip to the post office tomorrow. And I have some space on our bookshelves for some new (Or new to me) books. I think the wife is a little skeptical about the whole thing - we’re trying to get rid of stuff to make room for the incoming baby, not get random people to send us books. But I think she’ll be fine as long as I keep a good ratio of sent-to-received books.

Saturday Night at Nationals Park

Sunday, May 25, 2008

DSC_9672We went to our first game using my company’s season tickets. The seats are great, just past first base. The results of the game weren’t too great - a 5-2 loss to the Brewers. Luckily, I’m an Orioles fan, and I don’t really care too much if the Nats lose. Not many others seem to care, either - 30,029 was the announced attendance, just shy of ¾ full. For a beautiful Saturday night over Memorial Day weekend, I expected a full house. There were a ton of kids there - the lines for ice cream were crazy, but it was easy to get a beer. The rest of the pictures are here. They’re probably only really interesting to me, but you’re welcome to look at them, too. DSC_9707I’m looking forward to our next game - the Cardinals are in town, and we’ll get a good look at Albert Pujols at first. Always nice to see a future first ballot Hall of Famer in the prime of his career. And we saw Charlie Manning’s major league debut. He gave up a hit and struck out two, so I imagine he’s pleased with that. Finally, we made a return trip to Ben’s Chili Bowl, fantastic as usual. For $7, the veggie chili cheese fries are a deal by ballpark standards. Going to the stadium and skipping Ben’s is just crazy.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , dc

An internet company with customer service?

Friday, May 23, 2008

This story has popped up on at least a half dozen sites I read more or less regularly over the last few days, and it’s pretty interesting. Zappos, who are as far as I know the ONLY place to buy shoes online (I mean, the only place it’s worth your time to buy shoes), hire new employees, train them for four weeks, then offer them $1000 to quit. This means that they only get employees who actually want to be there. I’ve said over and over how Dell was so much cooler when they still cared about customer service, but it’s a little more surprising to see this coming from an industry where there’s a lot more room to play with the prices. I would expect Zappos to be able to better compete on price because there’s so much markup on shoes (One of the few things I learned about the money side of the business while working at Boater’s World in high school - the store makes tons more profit on shoes and clothes than on electronics). Dell, meanwhile, has a much smaller profit margin on their computers, so it seems logical that they’d have to compete with HP and the others on something else. I’ve never bought from Zappos, in part because I have weird feet and it’s often hard for me to find comfortable shoes. But if their customer service is as great as people make it out to be, maybe I should try.

Jim "One Inning" Johnson and the Orioles

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The other day I wrote about how Orioles reliever Jim Johnson picked up a nice hold, then gave up a run before getting lifted. Well, he did it again. The first inning he closed out wasn’t dramatic - he got Jeter to line out with a runner on to end the inning in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth. But his second inning was sure dramatic. Single, strikeout, strikeout, walk, and then Robinson Cano singles to win the game. It seems pretty clear from these two games (which is too small a sample size but I don’t care) that Johnson should not be allowed to pitch a second inning. Looking at his gamelogs on Baseball Reference, this isn’t true. It’s just the two games that I’ve noticed where he closed out an inning nicely, then pitched badly when he came out to start the following inning. Anyway, tough loss. Wastes a nice start by Brian Burres. But we’re still third, and they’re still last. So that’s cool.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Birthing classes and onesies

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We’ve gone through two pretty big baby milestones in the last few days. The most recent was our Bradley Method class that we just got back from. It was kind of long (Two hours, and she ran over about 15 minutes Two hours and fifteen minutes), but it sounds like it will be good stuff to know. There are 8 other couples in the class. Two of the mothers didn’t make it to the first class, which seems pretty weird, but I’m sure they had their reasons. But birthing class doesn’t really make this seem real to me. I mean, obviously it’s real - the wife is showing, and I’ve felt the baby kicking, I’ve seen it hopping around on the sonogram. But it still seems like something that’s forever in the future. But the other milestone really brings home the reality of the baby. The wife has started buying some baby clothes (She’s getting a little addicted to Ebay and Freecycle, I think), and seeing these little onesies make the baby seem much more real to me than anything else. So, if you’re a dad-to-be, and you’re having a hard time getting your head around this, I recommend getting some baby clothes and just imagine putting them on your own kid. It’s definitely working for me.

Posted in: kids , parenting

No wine snobbery here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some may not know the 2005 Selbach Riesling Dry, but this guy does.

Riesling is one of the noblest of all grapes, capable of creating wines of the highest quality and in the widest range of styles.

I’d have to agree. I’ve always found them to be quite noble.

The 2005 Selbach Riesling is a straightforward, virtually dry version with bright and fresh fruit flavors reminiscent of apples and melons.

I’m not sure why, in a 300 word review, he only dedicates two sentences to the wine he’s making his Pick of the Week. But whatever. Then we have this guy, who says of the 2004 vintage:

This pale, straw yellow wine is wonderfully refreshing, crisp, and clean. Aromas of apple and citrus are mellow, but the tart flavors of green, Granny Smith-type apples and lemon, explode in your mouth.

And some say the wine is “weak and violently acidic”. Saying it in comic strip form gives it that je ne sais quoi so often lacking in snarky wine reviews. But what happens, you might ask, when you crack a bottle of the 2005 Selbach Riesling Dry, drink a little bit, and then leave it in the fridge, the cork shoved back in, for an entire month? I’m here to answer that question. I have to say that it holds up all right. I’m not a really knowledgeable wine guy. I love my 2004 Gibson Wilfreda, and if I see a Rosemount Shiraz for under $10 at the grocery store, I’m all over it. But I don’t drink a lot of white wine. This month-old Riesling is still quite pleasant, though. I think it might not be as crisp as it once was, but it pairs well with Mexican veggie burgers and Law and Order reruns. So, if you’re like me, and you have an old bottle of this, half open in the fridge, and it’s just bugging you every time you open the fridge, don’t pour it out. Have a glass. You won’t regret it.

Posted in: Anti complaint , wine

THAT'S how you pitch

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Orioles thump Yankees, 12-2 What is going on with Daniel Cabrera? Seven innings, 86 pitches (52 for strikes), no walks, and the only runs he allowed were on a two run home run by the guy who’s going to break Bonds' record. His season WHIP is 1.23, down from over 1.5 for his career. It sounds like he’s actually listening to me when I say, “Hey, Cabrera, you have a hell of an arm - THROW STRIKES”. Apparently there was a little bit of an uproar after LaTroy Hawkins retaliated for Cabrera hitting Jeter in the hand by throwing one behind Luke Scott. As is my usual disclaimer, I didn’t see the game. But if Daniel Cabrera hits your guy in the hand, you can pretty much assume it was accidental. Yes, he’s been throwing more strikes recently. But he still has a 7 walk game this year. He walked 9 in his first 10 innings pitched. The guy has control issues. I mean, if Greg Maddux hits your guy, then absolutely retaliate. It was totally on purpose. But Cabrera? Give him a break. The best part about this is it keeps the Orioles three games back, keeps the Yankees in last place, and was a rare “good hitting performance and good pitching performance in the same game” for the Orioles.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball

Thanks, Mount Pleasant Mainstreet

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The banner is gone! Apparently the contractors fixed their mistake, and our street is no longer mistakenly identified as Mount Pleasant. Nice turnaround time on the fix, too. Isn’t it nice when everything goes your way?

Study to be taken with a grain of salt

Monday, May 19, 2008

Via Gizmodo, a new study suggests that cellphone use while pregnant will cause behavioral problems in children. I don’t buy this. Partly it’s because the article is pretty light on facts. But it doesn’t even address the possibility that maybe mothers who spend their lives glued to the cellphone are not giving their kids enough attention, which leads to the behavioral problems. Cellphone use may be the symptom of the cause, but not the cause itself. Maybe the study addresses this point and refutes it, but the article doesn’t get into that. And I’m inclined not to believe any of the “OMG excessive use of X leads to horrible result Y!” studies that always focus on some technology that’s become common in the last five to ten years and seem to explain away some horrible plague upon our society. Every generation has new technologies, and every generation has new problems. There isn’t necessarily a cause and effect relationship here. Anyway, maybe the study gets into all that, but we’ll never know. Unless you’re one of those weird people who actually research this sort of thing instead of just bitching about it.

Posted in: kids , parenting , science

What's wrong with New Orleans basketball fans?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is there some reason I’m not aware of for New Orleans fans booing the Spurs every time they touch the ball? I mean, I’m all for supporting your team. And I’m fine with some booing here and there. When an opposing player insults your town or your team, boo him. That’s part of being a fan. But when you boo the Spurs every time they touch the ball, when you boo Tim friggin' Duncan, who helps opponents up off the floor, you are bad fans. I had been on the fence on this series because I frankly don’t care about either team, but Chris Paul is pretty amazing, and Duncan has been very good for a good while. But now I’m rooting for the Spurs. I know New Orleans has been through a lot as a city in the last few years, and I have no idea what that’s like, but it’s no excuse for being just awful fans. I’ve never heard so much booing.

Posted in: basketball , complaint , sports

Mount Pleasant misplaced a banner

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Many of you in the DC area have probably seen the street light banners advertising various neighborhoods around the city. I think it’s a cool idea. It can help you identify a neighborhood, and I think they try to contain a little bit of the unique elements of each neighborhood. But Mount Pleasant, an otherwise lovely neighborhood, is infringing on our turf. The eastern edge of Mount Pleasant is 16th Street. This makes it a little surprising to see one of their banners proudly displayed on the 1400 block of Harvard Street. I’m not sure if I should really be so annoyed about this. The wife tells me that, back when Columbia Heights was getting its Metro stop, they wanted to call it Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant. At the time, Mount Pleasant was a much nicer neighborhood, and wanted nothing to do with Columbia Heights. Now that Columbia Heights has a new infusion of shopping and restaurants, apparently we’re not so distasteful anymore. I emailed Mount Pleasant Mainstreet, the organization that sponsors the banners, to see what the big idea was. I’ll let you know what they tell me. Edit to add: I got a reply from them already.

If that’s true then it’s a huge mistake from the contractor. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll bike over and take a look and have them correct this. We’re missing several on Mt Pleasant St. Thanks, [Mount Pleasant Mainstreet guy]

Preakness!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Beautiful day for Preakness yesterday. We had a huge group this year. It’s a family tradition for my wife, ever since her dad started going years ago. This is my fourth year going. We sit in the stands with the civilized people, rather than in the infield with the drunken idiots. We arrived yesterday just before the 6th race of the day. I like to do a little betting, probably two $2 bets per race, more or less. Usually a little more on the actual Preakness race. This year, we brought a friend, Heather, whose father is a pretty serious horse race enthusiast. He sent her some tips on the races. On his advice, I bet a $2 exacta on the sixth race, on #3 Roshani and #4 Lady Digby. Imagine my surprise as they came around to finish in just that order, just ahead of #1 Valbenny, the pre-race favorite. I won $21.40 on that bet, which was a pretty nice way to start the day. We didn’t have any tips for race 7, so I had to make my own decisions. I liked #1, Roman Emperor, one of the favorites, and the wife liked #5, Da' Tara. I was even more surprised to win that exacta, too, paying off $12. The word on the 8th race was #8, True to Tradition. I put down a $2 bet for a friend on him to place, and one for myself. I made my (so far) only mistake on the betting machine and accidentally bet him to show, but figured I’d keep the ticket anyway. When he finished second, both tickets paid, $5.20 and $4.20. I didn’t win anything else on the night, but I did get to see an impressive win in the Preakness by Big Brown. It sure looks like he has a good shot at the Triple Crown. Last time we had one of those was the year I was born. I didn’t see the race. And I ended the day up $10 (Well, not including what I spent on things other than betting). Any day of betting where you end up with more than you came with is a good day of betting. After the race, we went to Chiapparelli’s in Little Italy in Baltimore for dinner. It was good. They did a nice job serving our huge party, although they were a little late seating us. When you arrive 15 minutes early for a reservation, and get seated 10 minutes late, that’s kind of annoying. But it didn’t spoil our evening.

Damn you, loose bricks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The wife and I took the bus today (Stupid rain on Bike to Work Day), thinking that would keep us dry. We slept with the window open, and it was raining pretty steadily when we woke up. When we walked out of the house, it really wasn’t raining much. We could have walked, but then we would have had to go back inside so I could change. So we continued on to the bus. Three of them came right away, so we managed to get a seat together, and were off. Then it started to drip. Inside the bus. Luckily, we were wearing our handy matching raincoats, so that wasn’t too big a deal. Then we got off the bus and went our separate directions. I turned onto 15th, and just before I crossed New York Avenue, I stepped on a loose brick in the sidewalk. It splashed a substantial amount of dirty rainwater onto my right pant leg and shoe. The moral of the story is that rain sucks and we should have just walked.

Posted in: complaint , dc , harvardstreet , work

I have powers you can't even imagine

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It’s been about three and a half hours since I complained about the lack of 64 bit Flash for Linux. Just a minute ago, I was checking out the latest on my RSS feed, and there was a Flash video on BoingBoing. Firefox popped up the little message, asking if I wanted to install the plugin. I figured it wouldn’t work, but I did it anyway. The package manager installed flashplugin-nonfree, and it worked! I can watch YouTube videos! I can use Google Analytics! Even MLB GameDay works! It’s amazing! So, I apologize, Ubuntu. You’ve been so good to me, and I nearly kicked you to the curb just because Fedora put out a new distro. But I’m back now. I’m right back on the Ubuntu bandwagon. On a side note, I’m available for freelance complaining. This is not the first time I’ve complained about something that was magically fixed soon afterwards. For a very reasonable hourly rate, I’ll complain about something that you’d like fixed. Results not guaranteed. Nor even expected.

Posted in: Anti complaint , computer , geek , linux , Ubuntu

Oh, Ubuntu, you make me laugh

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I tried out Fedora for a few minutes. The Gnome desktop looks just like Ubuntu. I’m going to do some research and see what the real differences are. When I rebooted into Ubuntu, I had some upgrades to install, which I did. One of them popped up this message:

A security certificate which was automatically created for your local system needs to be replaced due to a flaw which renders it insecure. This will be done automatically. If you don’t know anything about this, you can safely ignore this message.

That’s pretty awesome.

Is anyone else annoyed by Ubuntu 8.04?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron. I upgraded from 7.10, which I was pretty happy with, and I’d kind of like to go back. I haven’t been getting crashes or freezes or anything like that, but it’s not more polished and stable than 7.10. Also, Firefox 3 Beta is annoying. A couple of the plugins I really like for Firefox 2 don’t work yet, and the new features aren’t cool enough to make it worth the upgrade for me. I also suspect some of my dissatisfaction is not 8.04’s fault - the lack of 64 bit Linux support in Adobe’s Flash is a huge pain. There are some websites that just don’t work without Flash (Some of them, like Google Analytics, are actually useful). And I can’t get Flash to work anymore. But it wasn’t working in 7.10, either. Anyway, I just downloaded and burned a live cd for Fedora 9, and I think I’m going to try it out. I don’t know if I’ll replace Ubuntu, but it’s worth a try. I can still be a smug Linux convert with Fedora. Maybe even smugger because Ubuntu is more mainstream than Fedora.

Posted in: complaint , computers , geek , Ubuntu

Awful website, great restaurant

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The wife and I had dinner at Rumba Cafe in Adams Morgan last night. It was a 1000 point reservation at Open Table, which puts us almost to a $50 gift certificate to any restaurant that deals with Open Table, which is awesome. The Rumba Cafe website seems to be under maintenance this morning (I think it should be euthanized, personally (And did you know that “euthanized” isn’t in the default Firefox dictionary? Weird)), but no matter. We sat outside, since it was so nice last night. The service was very good, the beer mediocre, and the food was excellent. I had the steak with a fried egg on top, served with rice and black beans and a fried plantain. Reminded me of Costa Rican “casados”, which I love. The wife had some kind of fish, I forget what, but it was good, too. I highly recommend Adams Morgan when it’s not overrun with kids (By kids I mean 23-year-olds). 8PM on a Tuesday it’s alive with people (Plenty of kickballers and others just out for dinner or a drink) but doesn’t have that “everyone around you is wasted” vibe that it gets on the weekend. It was just a nice spring evening.

Orioles beat Beckett and the Sox

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Orioles came back from an early 3-0 deficit last night to beat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox. I’m sorry I missed the game, but I was having dinner with the wife (Post to come) and then watching basketball. The game puts the Sox a half game back from first place Tampa Bay (Never thought I’d write those four words) and keeps the O’s in third, 3 back. Not a bad place to be for a team expected to win 65 games this year. Now, I’ve complained about the hold before. It’s a stupid stat that rarely measures anything of real value to a baseball team. But there was an interesting hold credited last night to an Orioles pitcher. So, top of the seventh, Boston leads off with two singles, so we have guys on first and second with no outs. It’s 5-3, Baltimore. Jamie Walker relieves Jeremy Guthrie and promptly throws a wild pitch and walks Ortiz to load the bases for Manny. Pretty much anyone who has ever heard of baseball knows that no outs, bases loaded, and Manny Ramirez at the plate is bad times for the defense. This could be very ugly, very soon. Jim Johnson relieves Walker and Manny grounds into a double play, then Mike Lowell pops out to end the inning. THIS IS A HOLD. Bases loaded, no outs in the seventh, two run lead, and the 4-5-6 hitters coming up - allowing no runs here is a really nice pitching performance. I have no problem giving the guy credit for a hold here. But I do have a problem with the next inning, where with one out, Johnson walks two and gives up an RBI single before getting lifted for the closer. So, we have to try and get to the root of the hold. Is it given for getting out of a jam, regardless of the next inning? That is, let’s say he had given up a two-run home run before getting lifted, making the score 6-5 Sox. Does he still get the hold for the previous inning? Maybe my real problem here is my reaction to pitchers issuing walks. I think it’s because I feel like, if the pitcher allows a hit, then the batter beat him. It sucks, but it happens. But if the pitcher allows a walk, then he beat himself. I mean, sure, some guys are better at drawing walks than others, but in the end, the pitcher still has to throw four pitches that don’t go through the strike zone and don’t provoke a swing. Maybe my initial reaction to Johnson’s night would have been better if he’d just given up two hits and the run instead of the two walks. Anyway, I still hate the hold stat. But at least Johnson earned it this time.

DDOT is a pain

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The parking saga continues. A response today from DDOT, and the email I sent back are here. The wife wrote the email that I sent back. I may be the complainer in the household, but she’s better at snippy. We make a good team.

DDOT doesn't answer my question

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An unacceptable response from DDOT:

There are 5 “Emergency No Parking” signs posted in 1400 block of Harvard Street, NW. The developers Eagle Bank have a valid permit that is valid until May 20, 2008. They will be taking up 5-feet on the north and south side of Harvard Street.

And another email in the chain, ostensibly from me but composed by the wife:

Thank you for getting back to me, but your reply is not responsive to my initial request. My concern was whether there is any oversight in doling out the “Emergency No Parking” signs. The signs were initially posted on May 6 (when I emailed originally), with an effective date of May 6. There should be a 72-hour notice period for residents, which means the signs should not have been effective until at least May 9. (I understand that they’re effective now, but that is because it took you a week to tell me that there were no parking signs on my street). That was my concern - not whether they contractors will have five-feet of space reserved on both the north and south side of Harvard, which incidentally is not what they have “reserved”. They have secured at least four car lengths on both sides of the street - which unless you’re driving a really small car far exceeds five feet. Your “response” therefore begs a further question - in addition to who is overseeing the proper posting of the “Emergency No Parking” signs, does anyone actually oversee whether those with a valid permit are using their permit validly? Forgive me if this sounds a little snippy - but we have been dealing with restricted parking on our street for over a year now with dumpsters and other “Emergency No Parking” signs and it is frustrating that no one seems to give a thought to those of us who live and park on that street. Just to be clear on what my request is - could you please let me know about any oversight that is in place and with whom I can raise any future issues regarding timely “Emergency No Parking” notifications or other concerns over similar parking restrictions on my street?

Guess who's getting foot surgery

Monday, May 12, 2008

If you guessed this guy, you win! Your prize is that you get to come by and ice my foot for 48 hours after I have a bunion removed from the joint of my left big toe. No, my foot doesn’t look like the one on the Wikipedia page. Mine isn’t nearly that bad. The joint is just a little red and sticks out a little more than it should. I’ve been having some pain in my foot for a while. I thought it was related to running, but it turns out that running was just making it uncomfortable, not causing it. Bunions, it turns out, are hereditary. My sister had one removed maybe last year, and says the surgery wasn’t too bad. I’ll be off my feet for two days, then I get to wear some special shoe/sandal thing for 4-6 weeks, and then I’m fine. It doesn’t sound too terrible. And in the meantime, I’m free to do what I want on it - I can run and jump and dance and all that. Not that I do much dancing. But the only restrictions on what I can do before I have it removed are my own level of comfort, which is nice.

Posted in: complaint , health

Wet socks

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sad in the rainAt the wife’s request, I did not take the bus this morning. She might not have made the request if she had, as I did, gone outside to take out the trash. If she had taken out the trash, she probably would have decided that it was raining too hard, and that we should take the bus. But she didn’t take out the trash, so we walked. For those of you not in or near DC, it’s been raining for a while now, and things are starting to flood. Not serious floods, but minor property damage and hydroplaning cars kind of floods. So, we bundled work clothes and lunch and whatnot into bags, put on our raincoats, and set off. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared. There weren’t that many people walking, so there weren’t too many umbrellas to avoid. Umbrellas and puddles are the scourge of the city rain walker. Especially those giant golf umbrellas that take up the entire sidewalk. So I arrived at work, slightly damp but okay otherwise. I changed my clothes, and realized that my backpack is not entirely waterproof. The two things that got wet - my laptop power supply (Although not badly - I wiped it off and it’s fine) and my brown socks. So now I’m wearing brown slacks, brown shoes, a brown belt, and little white athletic socks. Oops. Perhaps the brown socks will dry, or perhaps I will just wear these all day. Only time will tell.

This is what happens when you throw strikes, Cabrera

Friday, May 09, 2008

I didn’t see the game, but it’s quite clear from the box score that Daniel Cabrera is a tremendously effective pitcher when he’s throwing strikes. He threw 76 of them versus only 40 balls. The result? A 4-1 complete game victory over the (hapless, I know) Kansas City Royals. He struck out seven, allowing only three hits and a walk. Lucky for the Orioles that Nick Markakis had a good game, hitting three run homer and scoring on a wild pitch to account for all four of the Orioles runs. Losing a complete game shutout 1-0 is kind of a kick in the teeth. The game also pulled the Orioles a half-game ahead of Toronto into fourth place in the AL East.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

Man, Trent's going crazy

Friday, May 09, 2008

It’s only been two months since Trent Reznor released his last album, and now he’s got another one. This one, The Slip is a totally free download. I was listening to it for the first time this morning, and I was wondering if there was a mainstream single on it. He’s releasing one track as a single so far, Discipline, and I have no idea if it will be a hit. I like it, but I like just about every Nine Inch Nails song ever, so I’m hardly a good judge of what others might like. I was talking to a friend and fellow NIN fan about the lack of a single, and he said, “That’s what Trent said about The Downward Spiral, and then ‘I want to **** you like an animal’ became our high school anthem'”. So I guess we’ll just wait and see.

And there we are

Thursday, May 08, 2008

And the Orioles have lost their fifth in a row to fall into last place. I think everyone saw this coming, but some of us held out hope it would come a little later in the season. It’s pretty clear what the problem is - they’ve now scored fewer runs than anyone in the AL except Kansas City. Their runs allowed are tolerable, they just can’t score. Still, they’re nearly a third of the way to their predicted win total, and we’re not even a quarter done with the season. So that’s encouraging.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Bests

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thanks. I am with this email having DDOT check to see whether this “emergency” was properly authorized. We will be back to you. If not, they should be taken down. Bests

Parking a car in DC sucks

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Posted a new Angry Letter today. I’m tempted to tear down a bunch of “Emergency No Parking” signs. But I probably won’t.

Excessive parking restrictions on my block

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Councilmember Graham - I’m writing to bring to your attention the need for some sort of oversight on emergency “no parking” signs. The construction crew at 1462 Harvard St NW has now claimed a good quarter of our block with these signs, totally ignoring the 72-hour notice period required by the DCPD. At approximately 6PM this evening, they put up signs on both sides of the street to accompany the signs on the south side that went up recently. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t believe the first signs were up 72 hours in advance, either. Our block has already had to park around the dumpster at 1463 Harvard for months now. I understand that construction crews need space to work, but taking fifteen or twenty spots from our street for the next two weeks is utterly unreasonable. I would appreciate your attention to this matter. I don’t think the construction crew should be entitled to so much restricted parking, and I’m certain that neither I nor my neighbors should be subject to ticketing or towing until the 72 hour notice has been satisfied. Thank you very much Complaint Hub

People aren't dumb, just bad at judging actual cost

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

High gas prices driving small car sales

The trend proves again what we already knew - that people respond to events that hit their wallet, not their conscience.

High gas prices driving small car sales Shocker - with gas getting more and more expensive, people are buying more small cars. While I agree with the above-quoted statement, I think what it really gets at is that people are inherently rational. We just aren’t always good at judging value. It goes well beyond over-valuing brand new Lincoln Navigators with 22" chrome wheels and heated massage chairs while under-valuing small, efficient, reliable cars. Now, I know that I tend to over-value that feeling of smug self-satisfaction when I walk to work or take the bus home, laughing at the schmucks who drive two hours into Nowhereville, VA. But I also know that a lot of them over-value the sixth bedroom and second acre their house is on as they give up twenty hours a week commuting. Anyway, I hope GM an Ford can figure things out before the European and Japanese and Korean car manufacturers swoop in and totally wipe out the American manufacturers, who seem to have mortgaged their future on the mistaken idea that people would continue to buy high-profit SUVs forever. I hope that GM and Ford can quickly change with the gas prices, and perhaps bring some of the cars they make for overseas markets to the States as the demand changes. But I have to say I’m not that optimistic.

Posted in: driving , economics , Wind kissing

That was money well-spent

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A little while back I sponsored two pages at Baseball Reference. It was mostly for fun, and because it’s one of my favorite sites on the whole internet, and it’s cool to give something back. So I thought I’d give a report on how that sponsorship is going in terms of referrals. My sponsorship of Mark Knudson has resulted in TWO new visits to the site. Since I’m surprised that two people have even looked at Mark Knudson’s career stats since April 7th, that seems like a good result. And my sponsorship of Chad Bradford has resulted in FOUR new visits to the site. Bradford’s status as an active player having a good year (Small sample size, but he’s got a 1.03 WHIP and a 297 ERA+ in 12 innings, can’t complain about that) means that he’s probably getting more traffic, so it makes sense that he’d drive more people here. To put the traffic in perspective, though, over the same time period, I’ve had 504 total visits (It’s been a slow posting time, so my traffic is down). 27 of those hits are from people Googling “vector security”. Five are from “mccain nude”. Six are from outside.in and twenty are from Facebook. Anyway, I’m certainly not going to quit my day job anytime soon and make a living here. Of course, since I don’t sell ads here, paying for traffic is kind of silly, but that wasn’t really the point of my sponsorship.

Posted in: baseball , internet , sports

Man, who thought this was a good idea?

Monday, May 05, 2008

ESPN - Papa John’s to offer Cleveland residents 23-cent pizzas

Papa John’s Pizza issued an apology to Cleveland and the Cavaliers for making T-shirts with LeBron James' number and the word “crybaby” under it.

Who’s the marketing person in Washington who decided this would be a good idea? I suppose I could probably find him or her by doing a resume search on Careerbuilder for marketing resumes added in the last two days. Since I’ve watched more basketball this year than any other year in my lifetime because of the Celtics-fan wife, I have a better idea of what a hard foul is than I used to. And the little montage ESPN put together of the Wizards pounding on LeBron was pretty ridiculous. So I don’t blame him for complaining a bit. And I doubt he’s crying now, as he’s headed to Boston on Tuesday while Brendan Heywood is headed to play golf.

What to do when your team isn't local

Sunday, May 04, 2008

So my little brother is heading to Arizona State for law school in the fall. I’m both happy for him and this opportunity, and a little sad that he’ll be across the country. But I’ll get used to it - the wife deals with siblings on both coasts and in between, so I can manage. But in his list of things to do, he mentions “Become an Arizona Cardinals fan”. This is where it’s clear that he needs some guidance from his older and wiser brother. I’m in a sort of similar situation. My football team is local (Well, sort of - they’d be local if the Washington Redskins actually played in Washington, but whatever), but my baseball team is not. The Orioles are far enough away that I can’t get to an evening game without leaving work early. But we have the Nationals. There are two important things about the Nationals that I think are nearly mirrored by the Cardinals. One, they’re terrible. They’ve pretty much been at the bottom of the standings since they were the Expos. And two, they have a beautiful stadium. What does this mean? Empty seats and a great place to watch the visiting team. The wife and I went to RFK before the Nats moved to watch the Nats play the Oakland A’s (As a baseball fan, I’ve of course read Moneyball, so of course I have a soft spot for the A’s. Plus they were my team in ‘88 before McGwire was a cheater and when Eck and Stewart and Rickey were awesome). We saw Barry Zito before his arm fell off. A friend and I went to a game at RFK and watched Tom Glavine pitch for the Mets. Now, the Cardinals don’t really play anyone cool at home next year - they play the Redskins in Washington, they play in New England - with one exception. On October 12th, the Dallas Cowboys come to Tempe. This is a perfect opportunity. By attending the game as a Cowboys hater, you in effect become a Cardinals fan without disgracing your DC Metro Area roots by actually becoming a Cardinals fan. You’re free to root for the Cardinals, exchange high-fives with Cardinals fans, and generally have a good time rooting for the home team. But you get to keep your football soul. Everyone wins. Except the Cardinals. They never win.

Posted in: family , football , sports

Watching a little basketball, playing with some computers

Friday, May 02, 2008

So how’s this for a great Friday evening: I’m sitting on the couch. To my left, the windows are open because it’s a gorgeous spring evening. Right next to me on the couch, the wife is napping, waiting for the Celtics game. I have a kitchen full of beer and wine left over from my birthday party last week. We have the ingredients ready for dinner, pasta with tomatoes and asparagus, plus some cauliflower poppers. In front of me is my brand new work computer, on which I’ve just installed Launchy, which everyone should install on their Windows machine. It’s similar to Gnome-Do for Linux and Quicksilver for Mac - I’ve been using Gnome-Do for a while and I love it, and wanted something like it for my Windows work machine. And speaking of Linux, my personal laptop is currently downloading and upgrading to the latest version of Ubuntu, Hardy Heron. So, I have sports, food and drink, computer geekishness, and my fabulous wife. I have no idea what more I could possibly want.

Getting back to my life

Thursday, May 01, 2008

So I’m back at work after my birthday trip to Paris. There are a ton of pictures here. I haven’t finished uploading them as of right now, but there are about 200 posted, so that should keep you busy. And speaking of busy, I’ve been very busy lately, which is why I haven’t been posting anything. I know it’s the fifth law of the internet or something that anyone who runs a blog non-professionally must periodically go through a slow phase and not post, then apologize and say they were busy. The good blogs don’t do this very often. Anyway, hopefully things are slowing down a little and I can get back to complaining about things. There are certainly things to complain about.

Posted in: life

I guess it serves me right for buying a soda

Friday, April 18, 2008

I got a Cherry Coke out of the machine down the hall to drink with my lunch. I don’t drink nearly as much soda as I used to, but every now and then I can’t help it. This time, I should have been more careful in my selection. It wasn’t actually a Cherry Coke - it was a Cherry Coke Zero. That means they’ve taken out all the delicious high fructose corn syrup and replaced it with carcinogens that fool your tongue into thinking you’re consuming something sweet. I know my view on this is a little extreme, but I’d like to see Coke and anyone else who wants to use aspartame and sucralose and all those other non-food products have to put a big disclaimer on the package, like a cigarette warning.

WARNING - this product contains a chemical substance posing as food that is not, in fact, digestible by humans. It tricks your taste buds into thinking it’s sweet, but it is all a lie. Also, there is non-trivial evidence suggesting it causes cancer. If you still think it’s better than high-fructose corn syrup, go ahead and enjoy.

Posted in: complaint , health

I should be more observant

Thursday, April 17, 2008

POPE!A friend pointed out that I not only got a picture of the Pope, but the gentleman (And I use that term loosely) accompanying him is none other than our fearless leader, President Bush. Laura Bush is just a few steps behind. You can see the large size here. So that’s pretty cool.

Hey, all you Catholics

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

DSC_8698So the Pope is in town. Since I work almost right next door to the White House, which is where he was hanging out this morning, some coworkers and I went up to the roof of the building to watch as he hopped into the PopeMobile and drove off down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the adoring throngs. Anyway, there are more pictures here. The view from the roof is pretty good. And there are electrical outlets and benches up there. With the weather getting nice, I might just have to take a laptop up there now and then.

Dell again

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wow. Another email from Dell. The best part are these consecutive passages:

… I will provide you the information.

As a Customer Care I am unable to provide you the information …

Please don’t think that my anger here is because Dell has outsourced their customer service. I truly don’t care if the CSR is in the United States or India or the moon or anywhere else. I don’t care what his or her first language is. The only thing that’s important to me in a CSR is being able to fix my problem, preferably in a minimal amount of time. That’s it. Hence the anger. None of the people who emailed me could fix my problem. What’s even more exasperating is that each of them has chastised me for asking my question to the wrong person. It’s a little frustrating to be directed to talk to a person who tells me that he or she is not the person who can help me. Anyway, I’ll get a computer eventually. And I still hate Dell.

Dell is fired

Monday, April 14, 2008

I’m trying to purchase a computer from Dell. Well, that’s not exactly true. My new employer (Started the new job today, went very well) buys from Dell. The process is that each employee builds a computer at Dell.com, then emails the boss with the specs, and he buys the computer through the corporate account. Sounds simple, right? Well, first of all, Dell doesn’t let you just email specs. I can’t imagine why not - surely they’d be happy to let kids email specs to their parents, or perhaps they’d even be prescient enough to foresee my situation. But no. They let you save, and they even let you tag to del.icio.us and all sorts of other social sites, but apparently that’s just to the initial start page for the computer, not the customized version. So, I thought I’d just get one of their online chat CSRs to help me. Again I failed. Or, rather, Dell failed. They had no chat representatives available. Do they let me get in line and wait for the next one? No, they force me to resubmit my request. I tried about five times and gave up. So I was directed to email them. This steaming pile of crap is what I got in return. Their response was much longer, but that’s the only part that wasn’t boilerplate gobbledygook. Next I tried calling. I hate calling companies. If I’m calling you on the phone, it’s because your website failed. Anyway, I was greeted by loud music and an unhelpful robot voice that refused to give me a person. I tried a different customer service number, because I think I might have gotten the wrong one the first time (I don’t remember why I thought that, but it made sense at the time). This time I got another unhelpful robot, but this one gave me a person. Hooray! Until I asked her my question. Turns out she was tech support. I have no idea how the robot got me to tech support when all I wanted was customer support, but that’s neither here nor there. She transferred me to the correct CSR, who said a great many things, none of them helpful. So I gave up. I’m going to ask someone at work tomorrow. And I’m going to continue to tell everyone I speak to about computers to avoid Dell.

Dell 1, Me 0

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dell Says:

Dear Valueless Customer, Because you selected “Pre-Sales/Sales Question” as your Issue Category when you submitted your inquiry, Dell’s automated response system is sending you the following information on how to obtain product specific information. Dell does not currently offer e-mail support for pre-sales questions. However, there is a lot of information available on our web site and other contact alternatives. This document provides information on the subjects listed below in the table of contents.

My reply:

This is one of the least helpful emails I’ve ever received. It’s really a shame that a company that built itself on fantastic customer support has stooped to automated messages such as this. If you don’t offer email support for pre-sales questions, why in the world would your website direct me to email you? I hope you appreciate the absurdity of your position here. I don’t need anyone to respond to me on this issue. I have resolved it myself. The only reason I’m at your site at all is because my employer uses Dell products, so my work computer will be a Dell. I have owned two Dell computers, but will never purchase another one for my own personal use due to your woefully inadequate customer service.

And Dell again:

Thank you for contacting Dell. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you and I understand that you wish to place an orderunder the existed account. I will provide you the information. As a Customer Care I am unable to provide you the information and I request you to contact our Sales department at 800-284-3355 and place an order. I once again apologize that I could not assist you. The case number for this interaction is [unimportant]. Please email me for any additional support and I would be happy to assist you further. Thank you for choosing Dell.

Posted in: complaint

Another race, my personal best

Monday, April 14, 2008

DSC_8606The fifth annual Race to Stop the Silence took place yesterday. I ran it last year, too, finishing in 55:04. This year, I reached my personal goal of a sub-50-minute finish, coming in at 49:38. There are more pictures here, thanks to the wife. She and the mother-in-law and Phil came to watch on a brisk early morning, and I was glad to put on a good show. The course was moved from West Potomac Park to Anacostia this year, and I wasn’t expecting much. But the course wasn’t bad. It was a 5K course, two laps, which wasn’t ideal. And I was afraid it would get crowded. But with only 428 runners (I finished 166th overall), it didn’t get too bad. I don’t have any more races scheduled for this year. I’d like to get a pace time under eight minutes (This one was 8:01) as my next goal. Maybe I’ll find another one before it gets too hot.

Freecycle rules

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
  • 11:39 AM - Joined Freecycle.
    • 11:45 AM - Approved by moderator.
    • 11:51 AM - Posted offer of old computer monitor.
    • 12:08 PM - Post approved by moderator.
    • 12:15 PM - Offer accepted.
    • 12:51 PM - Monitor picked up.
    • 12:56 PM - Notified wife of new space in closet. Wife happy.

I CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Just announced today, Flickr now does video. I don’t really care at the moment, because I don’t ever make videos of anything (Maybe that will change when the baby comes, but I doubt it). But just yesterday I was writing in my novel-in-progress, which takes place in the not terribly distant future, about Flickr and video. I had been thinking about what Flickr (Or whatever takes its place) might be like in, say, 30 years. Once you start thinking about that, you have to go back and try and define what Flickr is now. On the surface, it’s a photo sharing site with a community surrounding it. But the ways people use it mean that it really goes well beyond just sharing photos. Some people use it as a cheap and reliable image hosting service for their blog. Some people use it to track changes over time in something. You see this a lot with babies and pregnancy. Some people use it almost instead of a blog or public journal - “See what I did yesterday, here’s a picture”. The Library of Congress is using it to crowdsource the categorization of their photo library. Barack Obama is using it to connect with supporters and advertise himself. So I was thinking, as technology advances, will we still take photos? In thirty years, you could be wearing contact lenses that can record hours of HD video. Maybe you’ll even have a hard drive installed in your head that can store video recorded by your eyes. Do we only take lots of photos now because that’s the convenient technology? There may always be a demand for still images as art, but we may get away from using them to say, “Hey, look at my cat!”. Or maybe not. Anyway, just thought it was cool that Flickr is doing what I thought they’d do, thirty years early.

Now I'll get some good search hits

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I was just looking through my Gmail spam folder, which I do from time to time to see if it caught anything it shouldn’t have. I’m mostly curious - anything that gets caught in there is probably not worth reading anyway. But one email jumped out at me - someone named Zane Gay (Not the author, that’s Grey) sent me an email entitled, “Fondle all her internal nerve endings”. Maybe this guy should be an author, because he’s got a way with the English language, I’ll tell you. Maybe he should be a poet, instead. The rigid constraints of prose could never hold Zane Gay back. I hope someone out there was sitting on his couch, thinking to himself, “Gosh, Jane sure is a great girl. I really want to fondle all her internal nerve endings, but HOW?”. And then he happens to look in his inbox and see this gift from Zane Gay. That’s the way the world should work.

Posted in: funny , inappropriate , spam

Contract the Nationals!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Leave the stadium, though. It’s pretty nice. The wife and I went to the game last night. On the positive side, you have the stadium, Ben’s Chili Bowl, an organized and efficient Metro ride, my love of baseball, and an enjoyable evening with the wife. On the negative side, you have the weather, the game itself (And the six unearned runs the Nationals allowed), and the announced crowd of 20,400. First, the positives. The scoreboard is amazing The stadium is gorgeous. We sat in the first row of one of the 400 sections. It was roomy, with a pretty good view. The giant scoreboard in right center is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It wasn’t working for the first half inning, but they’ll probably work that out as the season goes on. But the picture is incredible. When they’re showing replays, it looks like you’re actually seeing the players, not a video. Interestingly, there is no clock visible from where we sat. Maybe no clock in the whole stadium. Ben’s Chili Bowl was awesome, as expected. The line was long, but it moved quickly. My veggie chili cheese fries were cold before I finished them, but that was hardly their fault. They were still good. Metro took us 20 minutes to get in from Columbia Heights, and barely longer to get out. Might have been worse if there was actually a capacity crowd, but I can only judge my experience. There were a ton of Metro employees directing people. They’ve made a lane from the Metro directly to the stadium (Please, Nationals fans, DO NOT experience Southeast UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES until we can put on a fresh coat of paint). It actually reminded me a little bit of walking in to Fenway Park, although DC will need to do some work to build up the collection of businesses that surround Fenway. DSC_8476 Of course you know I’m a big baseball fan, as it’s all I’ve posted about since the season started. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to politics soon, and I’m sure I’ll have some new complaints once I start working again next week. Plus we have a vacation coming up that should be interesting. And of course I enjoyed my wife’s company, as usual. She was somewhat annoyed that she couldn’t have a beer at the ballpark due to that pesky baby she’s carrying, but $7.50 Bud Lights go a long way towards discouraging her. That, and the health of our unborn child. Although, as she said (joked?), you can probably drink a couple of Bud Lights before the baby even notices. Then there are the negatives. I won’t blame the team for the weather. They couldn’t help that it was cold. Allowing six unearned runs and three home runs (one of them to a backup shortstop I’ve never heard of. Robert Andino? He has 86 career at bats. Although he does have two bombs in 5 at bats this year off the bench, that’s pretty nice for him) isn’t cool, though. Stranding 11 runners is not a good technique for winning games. But you can’t win all 162, so I guess I can forgive them. Empty seats in the sixth inning What’s really bad, though, is that the second game in the history of the stadium drew 20,400 fans. I don’t know what capacity is, but it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000. I know it was a cold Monday night when the NCAA basketball finals were on (Although we made it home for overtime), but the stadium was empty. Even the clowns right behind home plate, the ones with the $100+ tickets, didn’t bother showing up. And the fans that were there seemed pretty disinterested. Maybe they were into it and I just couldn’t hear them. But I’m used to going to sellouts at Camden Yards (Before Orioles fans were so beaten down by The Angelos Years that they stopped caring), and this was a far cry from a sellout. I don’t know what the city can do about this. Maybe it’s too early to worry and things will be fine when the weather warms up, but if I had a big financial stake in this team, I don’t think I would have slept last night. Anyway, I’ll definitely be back for more games. The upper deck is a fine place to watch the game, and for $10, that’s worth it for me. And I’m curious to see what businesses and attractions pop up around the stadium. They had ads up that we didn’t stop to look at, but there are clearly big plans for the area. Should be interesting.

O's win again

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Where’s your hold now, O'Flaherty? The Orioles are an amazing 5-1. Can anyone say, “1989”? Too early in the season?

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

The wife will think I'm crazy

Monday, April 07, 2008

She’ll think I’m crazy, but that’s just because she’s not as big of a nerd as I am. Anyway, you may notice that, when I talk about a baseball player, I usually link to his career stats at Baseball Reference. It’s a great site for the stat nerd. And they support themselves through sponsorships. Yesterday, I decided to sponsor two pages in the name of Complaint Hub. The first is Chad Bradford, one of the stars of Moneyball and now an Oriole. As you can see from his stat page, Billy Beane and the A’s got four years out of him for about what the Orioles are paying him this year. But that’s okay. The second is Mark Knudson. When I was little, I had a little handheld baseball game, Tomy Pocket Baseball. You pulled the lever and a ball dropped, and then you released the lever to swing the bat and try to hit the ball into one of the holes for a hit. It was awesome. I had my own league. I used real players, their names painstakingly copied from baseball cards. Mark Knudson was the all-time leader in wins. He retired with a record of 48-5 and a 0.59 ARPI. I used Average Runs Per Inning because my games tended to be higher scoring than real baseball games, and not multiplying by the number of innings in a game made a good ARPI look more like a good ERA. These were four inning games, so his ERA would have been 2.37, which would have been fine. But he was the greatest of all-time, and the average pitcher would have had a much higher ERA. Anyway, I have no idea if these sponsorships will drive any traffic here. But I get a lot of enjoyment from Baseball Reference, and now I’ve given something back.

Posted in: baseball , nerd , sports , statistics

Officially on vacation

Monday, April 07, 2008

This is posted in category “work”, but it really should be posted in “the utter lack of anything resembling work”, because I am totally free this week. Friday was my last day at my old job, and I don’t start the new one until a week from today. So here I am, wide awake at 7:53AM. Some vacation, you say. Well, it is. I’m up now by choice. First, I rarely sleep in anymore, so if I lay in bed until what most would consider a reasonable hour, it would throw off my whole day. Second, I have things to do. I have a novel burning a hole in my head that needs to come out. I’ve planned this one more than anything else I’ve ever written (Although still way less than anyone who writes for a living would have), and I want to get started. Novel Writing Month isn’t getting me any closer to having a novel fit for sending off in search of a publisher, so I’m trying a different technique. So I’m going to start writing as soon as wife gets off to work and out of my hair. Then, later, I have to take the cat to the vet. Then we’re going to check out some day care centers this afternoon, and we have tickets to the Nationals game tonight (Assuming it’s actually done raining). Anyway, big day. And I see my coffee is finished brewing, and the wife is heading out the door, so I’m going to get started on my vacation. Sorry to all of you who have to work today.

Posted in: Anti complaint , life , work

Now the wife loves FireJoeMorgan.com

Sunday, April 06, 2008

After watching a batter and a half of the Tigers and White Sox game, the wife now knows why Fire Joe Morgan exists (She’s a Tigers fan, as a Michigan native). I can’t reproduce the quote verbatim, but I can give you the gist. Morgan is talking about Miguel Cabrera, and how the guy is a total failure because he only has two hits, one a home run, in his first 14 at bats of the season. I mean, plainly the guy is done. We should probably take him out back and shoot him. No 25-year-old with 139 career home runs and a 143 OPS+ should be allowed to exist if he only gets two hits in his first 14 at bats of the year. So Morgan is telling us how terrible Cabrera is. He says some ridiculous things that don’t mean anything, and then he says:

[Cabrera] is confused on the count, he thinks it’s 3-1 instead of 3-2. Since it was 2-2, he had to [do something that one would do on 2-2 and not 3-1. I don’t even know.]

Seriously. He barely took a breath in between “it’s 3-2” and “it’s 2-2”. This is not something that one might need to think hard about. The number of balls and strikes is displayed prominently all over the stadium. There is no doubt that there is a screen in front of Morgan’s face that tells him the count. I feel like this is my repayment to the wife - she’s gotten me into Celtics basketball, and I’ve gotten her to appreciate the wonders of Joe Morgan. This is her reaction after literally FOUR batters of Morgan’s commentary.

I don’t even listen to him anymore. I can’t. I don’t understand what he’s saying.

Posted in: baseball , funny , sports

Orioles win again, and the hold is even stupider than the save

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Holy cow, the Orioles won again! That puts them at 4-1, in first place. I know it doesn’t mean much at this point, but I bet that most analysts wouldn’t have expected them to be three games over .500 at any point in the season, so this is encouraging. And they did this one with a two out, ninth inning rally to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win. Here’s where the stats get ridiculous. ESPN reports a stat called a hold. It’s basically given to a pitcher who enters the game in a save situation and leaves without relinquishing the lead. It’s utterly absurd, and this game is a perfect example. Eric O'Flaherty entered the game to pitch for the Mariners in the bottom of the ninth, when they led, 2-0. He allows a double to the first batter, who then advanced to third on a groundout and scores on another groundout. A single then ends O'Flaherty’s night. He gets a hold because it was a save situation, and he left with his team still winning, 2-1. Mark Lowe comes in and gives up a single and a walk to load the bases. A wild pitch and a single later, and the game is over, a 3-2 Orioles win. O'Flaherty is charged with 2 runs in 2/3 of an inning, but because the tying run didn’t score until he left the game, even though it was charged to him, he gets the hold. Lowe gets the loss because it was his baserunner who eventually scored the winning run. Too bad for Mariners' starter Felix Hernandez, who pitched a fantastic eight innings of shutout ball. He, of course, gets nothing for his trouble.

Hey, look, this isn't about baseball

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Neil Gaiman - my life in green and purple

Because it seems to me that giving away an e-Book with a hardback is an excellent way to grow the e-book world, and something that a publisher could do at little or no cost.

The Orioles won last night, BTW. Anyway, this seems like a pretty awesome idea. A new guy at Harper Collins is considering giving away a free e-book and audiobook copy of a book which you have just purchased. As Neil says, “of course buying the book would give you the audio and the text, not just the object”. This is something of a radical idea compared to what most people are used to, but it could really grow the market for non-paper books. Growing the market for non-paper books is a good thing for authors and publishers (And the manufacturers of e-book readers and MP3 players and a whole mess of other industries who might be prescient enough to hop on the bandwagon) and, most certainly, book readers (or listeners). As I’ve mentioned (And as Techdirt has mentioned roughly 8 billion times), the marginal cost of producing another copy of an e-book or audiobook in digital format is nothing. Therefore, the cost of these goods should go to zero, as well. This makes them terrible things to try to sell, but wonderful things to use as promotional goods or just as “Hey, we (unlike you, recording industry) really do like our customers” rewards. I have some ulterior motives here - I’m hoping that the e-book market grows until someone puts out a cool e-book reader for a reasonable cost. I currently have 26 free and legal e-books saved on my computer. I’ve only read one of them, because reading a book on a computer screen really sucks. But I’d like to read the rest of them.

Barry Bonds - collusion or just not worth it?

Friday, April 04, 2008

I know, this is becoming a baseball blog, but no one is complaining, and I don’t have anything else I feel like writing about. Many sportswriters are up in arms over Barry Bonds not being on anyone’s roster. Many people argue that he had a very productive offensive season last year, and would surely help someone this year, especially an AL team in need of a designated hitter. Many go on to accuse baseball of colluding to not sign Bonds. Oh, they say. It’s not possible that no one could overlook the off-field problems and sign him. I think this is absurd. If you only evaluate the cost/benefit of Bonds' bat in your lineup, then certainly he is valuable to many teams. This would suggest that teams are colluding, although it certainly wouldn’t prove it. But what about the rest of it? What if he goes to jail? How will the fans react? I would rather the Orioles not win another game this year than sign Bonds. You can’t measure his impact on the team by only looking at his bat. And most of the other things he brings to the table are really, really bad. He does seem to boost attendance, which saddens me. I’ve never seen him play, and I’m glad. I realize that my opinions here are influenced by the fact that I hate Barry Bonds and the impact he’s had on baseball. I know he takes probably more than his fair share of the heat for the steroid problem, but he’s brought a lot of it on himself with his attitude. I don’t want him to set foot on a baseball field ever again. I don’t want to read articles about him. I don’t want him in the Hall of Fame. If it does turn out that the owners are colluding to keep him out of the game, fine. Punish them appropriately. But to ignore the mountains of negative baggage he brings with him when imagining why a team might not sign him is irresponsible.

Posted in: baseball , sports

I'll take that

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Orioles were rained out last night. Any night on which they do not lose, I will take as a victory. I suggest you, fellow Orioles fan, do the same.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

THIS HAS TO STOP

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Someone found my site searching for “jason varitek nude”. Now, I don’t know how Google decided that I’d be a good result for that. This is the first time I’ve ever used those three words in the same post. I guess I shouldn’t complain, since the person who found me that way was a first time visitor. But he or she didn’t stay long, so I don’t expect I’ve gained a new reader. Since there are not, nor will there ever be, nude photos of Jason Varitek (Or any member of the McCain family) here, perhaps this is not the right destination for people searching Google for those things. I mean, seriously. My mother and my mother-in-law read this. There are not going to be nude photos of ANYONE at Complaint Hub. Ever. Do you hear me, Google?

Posted in: complaint

I complained too soon

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Box Score The Orioles came back to win last night! Despite Cabrera allowing two runs and then leaving the bases loaded with no outs in the fifth, my new hero Randor Bierd got them out of the jam. He allowed an inherited runner to score on a double play ball, and then got out of the inning. Then Aubrey Huff came through with a home run in the sixth and a go-ahead two run double in the bottom of the eighth for a 9-6 Orioles win! Wow! I might have watched the game, but the Celtics were on TV (Winning their 60th game), and I wouldn’t think of denying the wife her Celtics. Meanwhile, if the season were only two games long, I would be totally wrong on Brian Roberts having an off year. You can’t ask for much more than a .600 batting average and 1.950 OPS (I know, small sample size, I don’t care). Anyway, nice to see the Orioles get a win. In other baseball news, if you read Fire Joe Morgan, you have probably heard their views on David Eckstein. If you don’t, you can read them here. I hope to see an article from them today about how Eckstein managed to score using nothing but grittiness and his monstrous, monstrous heart. Eckstein has nine at bats this season. In eight of them, using his bat, he has managed to get zero hits, one strikeout, and hit into two double plays. But in his first at bat last night, he used his “intangibles” and made Jason Giambi commit an error, allowing Eckstein to reach first base! I didn’t watch the game, and the ESPN box score doesn’t specify, but I suspect that Giambi was mesmerized by the dirt on Eckstein’s uniform, despite the fact that he was the first batter of the game. He was so mesmerized that, when Eck weakly hit the ball towards him, Giambi just didn’t pick it up. Now safely on first, Eck really began to shine. It doesn’t show up in any “numbers” or “sabermetrics”, but it was really Eckstein’s heart that allowed him to advance to second base on Shannon Stewart’s single, and his keen baseball sense that sent him around to score on Alex Rios' single. The other two batters had little to do with it. Edited to add: They posted about Eck, but not about his gritty grittiness grittying a run.

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

Fire Daniel Cabrera

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

There is NO EXCUSE for five walks in four innings. Looking at Daniel Cabrera’s career stats is an exercise in frustration. In 2006, for example, he struck out 157 in 148 innings. But he led the league in walks allowed and wild pitches. In 2007, he repeated as the league leader in walks. He capped it off by also leading the league in runs allowed and losses. A friend of mine who plays baseball (amateur, but competitive) says Cabrera has the best stuff he’s ever seen. If you pick through his individual outings, you’ll find some games where he was absolutely unhittable (here, here, here) and some games where no one had to hit him, they could just wait for the walk (here, here, and shudder here). He is obviously an immensely talented pitcher, but at nearly 27, he’s probably not going to suddenly learn control. Unfortunately for the Orioles, the rest of the league knows that, too.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Nike fails the internet

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gizmodo points out that Nike is offering their little running companion device without the iPod starting April 10th. This is good news to me - I’ve been wanting something like that, and didn’t want to spend $200 on a wrist-mounted GPS. $60 is a more reasonable investment. Gizmodo didn’t include a link to Nike’s site, but just copied the press release or whatever it is. I didn’t really read it. So I went to Google and looked up “nike+”. The first hit is the right one, but it’s very, very wrong. Look, Nike, I understand that you’re all about selling your image, not just shoes that I can’t wear because of the high arches and workout clothes that aren’t any better than generic knockoffs from Target. But I’m pretty sure you’re still in the business of taking money in exchanged for goods. I can’t be positive of this fact, because at no time did your website ever suggest that you have products that may be purchased. It hints that there are methods for possessing Nike products, and that you may (nay, should) already possess Nike products. Seriously, Nike, for the amount of money you pay Tiger Woods for six seconds of looking at a camera, you could have a credible online store where customers could give you money and you could mail them products. I will bet you a bazillion dollars that Amazon would make one for you in exchange for some sort of exclusivity deal. I will bet you two bazillion dollars (that’s bazillion with a b!) that a twenty minute search of Craigslist could find you dozens of web developers who would do it for a dozen pairs of shoes. And they would do it without the hideously awful navigation that you currently have on your site, too. If your site contained a “Preorder now!” link which would take my credit card number and my address and send me your product on April 10th, when you release it, there is a good chance I would have given you $60 today. I’ll probably still give you $60 later. But now I’m going to be annoyed about it.

Oh, great, another infielder who can't hit

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

This article caught my eye because Alex Cintron was my shortstop in MLB 2005 for the Gamecube after I dumped Tejada - the game decided his skills were declining, and he cost too much money. And now the real Orioles have signed him. Well, great. At age 24, this kid looked like an up-and-coming star. He hit .317 with a 112 OPS+, which are pretty nice numbers for a middle infielder. Unfortunately, he’ll be 30 this year, and his numbers haven’t even approached average since that season. I suppose he’s only expected to back up one of the two kids (Fahey and Hernandez, neither of whom can hit, either), but it seems to me that Cintron doesn’t have the ability to be a good backup, or the experience to be a good mentor.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Dinner and Drinks with Charlie Stross

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Charles Stross @ BrickskellerI got to meet Charles Stross! And drink good beer! I dragged the wife down to The Brickskeller last night to meet the author and his wife, and an eclectic group of local fans. It was a little tough for the wife, since they now have a bunch of Bell’s Beer on hand. But it was less tough than it could have been, because they were out of most of it, including the Hopslam they claimed to have on tap. But it was fun. He signed my copy of Halting State. I wasn’t sure which book to bring. I could have done what one person did, and brought everything Charlie had ever published. But really, the marginal utility of each subsequent signature is pretty insignificant. I thought about bringing Singularity Sky, which I really enjoyed. Or Accelerando, the first of his that I read. But I have both of those in paperback. And my favorite of his, Iron Sunrise, I apparently don’t own at all. I guess I must have gotten it from the library. Anyway, I finally settled on a nice hardcover, and I’m happy with my decision. Plus I got this great picture of him. Didn’t get to talk to him much, but that’s okay. Not sure what I would have said. The conversation mostly centered around Charlie, talking about writing and politics. He says he’s not writing any more in the Iron Sunrise post-Singularity universe, which is too bad because I really like those stories. He related some stats on the death penalty that suggest we shouldn’t be killing people. The wife and I talked to his wife about beer - she was looking for weird American stuff they can’t get back home in Scotland, which is exactly my attitude when traveling. I will never understand those who travel abroad and want hamburgers and Budweiser. It was a good night. We got a little wet walking home, but since this was the warmest day we’ve had since last summer, and it didn’t rain too hard, it wasn’t too unpleasant.

Small site problems

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

When I switched from Wordpress to Drupal for this site, I went to great lengths to try and keep all the old links working. I clearly didn’t do as good a job as I would have liked. Every day, people follow internal links that Drupal doesn’t recognize. If you click a link here at Complaint Hub (other than the Home link at the top) that takes you to the front page of the site, it’s probably a broken link. Feel free to leave a comment on the page that had the link and let me know, and I’ll fix it.

Posted in: complaint

Trying to write about something other than baseball

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So, I’m trying to think of something I want to write about rather than rehash yesterday’s Orioles game. No one wants to hear about it - O’s fans will just get depressed, and the Rays don’t have any fans. Maybe the players' mothers. Anyway. So I thought I might write about Quacker of the House Nancy Pelosi advising the President to boycott the Olympic opening ceremonies to protest China’s all-around unpleasantness, but then I was reading the article and my eyes started to glaze over. No one cares what advice Nancy Pelosi has for President Bush. She’d be more likely to get a reaction out of a large rock. Then I thought I should say something about IBM’s temporary suspension from getting federal contracts for some horrendous thing they did to EPA that no one will explain. This is huge news, but until we get some more details, it isn’t all that interesting. Or maybe it’s not interesting because my mind is refusing to grasp the massive incompetence or malice necessary to actually be disciplined by the government at all. But really, the most exciting thing about today is that I plan to go meet Charles Stross at the Brickskeller tonight. He’s one of my favorite authors, and he’s in town for something or other. He claims he’s trying to fend off jet-lag, but anyone going to a place with a beer list like this is merely fending off sobriety.

Orioles in HD!

Monday, March 31, 2008

I know that many of you are sick of hearing about baseball, but you’re going to have to deal with a bit more. We have the Orioles in HD! Last year, the Comcast feed from MASN was not in HD, and it was absolutely terrible. It was poor even for a non-HD channel. But today, I came home from work a bit early to watch the Orioles opening day, and we have MASN HD. Now all we need is an Orioles win.

Posted in: anti-complaint , baseball , sports

Ok, back to baseball. And politics.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Nats 3, Braves 2 What a heck of a way to break in the new stadium. I don’t think anyone could have scripted a better first game at Nationals Park. Cristian Guzman singled on the first pitch a Nationals player saw in the new park. The Nats scored two runs in their first inning. And then Nats golden boy Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Never mind that the home run was just about the only ball any National hit hard all night, it was still a great win. And, perhaps more surprising, George W. Bush hung out in the announcer’s booth for a few innings after throwing out the first pitch, and actually sounded like a human being. He didn’t talk about terrorism, even when they brought up 9/11. He joked with the announcers, and just generally talked like a baseball fan. I wonder what would have happened (Bear with me here, I know this is a stretch) if he had become MLB Commissioner instead of the President of the US. First, it would save us from Bud Selig, who, despite his recent minor victories in the steroid battle, is still a schmuck and not good for the game. Second, I think many of Bush’s qualities that I hate in a President, I would love in a commissioner. I’d be fine with a preemptive strike into Florida (Or Baltimore) to bring about regime change before another Marlins fire sale. I’d be fine with tax cuts for the richest teams - I think these revenue sharing deals are dumb. if the Yankees and the Red Sox want to have payrolls that are twenty times that of anyone else, let them. The A’s and sometimes the Marlins have proven you don’t need to spend that much to compete, so poor teams shouldn’t be getting handouts. I’d be fine with the commissioner acting as if he were endowed by god with infallibility. The commissioner is supposed to be the final word, and while there are issues on which I disagree with god on how to run a country, I’m pretty sure I’m cool with the way god would run baseball (I’ll bet he’d raise the mound a little bit and abolish Coors Field, for example). As baseball commissioner, Bush wouldn’t be in control of the military, so there would be no waterboarding of Jose Canseco, as much as many people might like to see it. We would still have to deal with the pro-Texas bias, but I think that’s a small price to pay. Too bad no one thought of this about ten years ago.

Posted in: baseball , politics , sports

Homemade Seitan

Monday, March 31, 2008

Homemade Seitan recipe If you’re in the same boat as I am, where you don’t really eat a lot of meat at home, but when you cook something like a stir-fry, you like to have meat-like lumps of protein. But you also don’t like to buy heavily processed meat substitutes. Well, you’ll like this recipe. It’s really easy to make. The vital wheat gluten flour and nutritional yeast flakes can be tough to find. I got mine from iHerb.com, and you can get them from Amazon, too. And you must bear in mind that this stuff looks kind of disgusting as it’s cooking - you’re basically putting a doughy blob into water and simmering it for an hour. It looks like something you’d put out at an elementary school Halloween party, telling kids it’s brains. The recipe makes a lot. It instructs you to cut the dough into three pieces before you simmer it, and each one ends up being a pretty good-sized hunk of meat substitute. I made stir-fry with one chunk, and we ate it last night, and both have lunch for today. The other two thirds are still in the fridge. And it’s quite good. I’d heard that some vegetarians/vegans won’t eat seitan because it’s too much like meat. I did not have that reaction to it. It’s probably a little more meat-like than typical store-bought extra-firm tofu (I think I have more hyphenated compound words in this post than anything I’ve ever written), but you aren’t going to sneak this in to a dish and fool meat-eaters into thinking it’s steak. According to the comments on the recipe, it sounds like you can do a lot of tweaking the recipe for different dishes. Since the seitan soaks up a lot of the broth in which it simmers, I imagine that you could play around with the flavor a lot. And I’m sure we’ll try.

Posted in: cooking , health

More Orioles crap

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Marred with a possible drug suspension, Orioles release Gibbons

Gibbons is owed $5.7 million this year from the Orioles and $6.2 million for 2009.

That must be kind of depressing for Jay Gibbons. The Orioles have told him they’d rather just throw away $11 million than have him on their team. I’m not terribly sad to see him go. Even though his picture in MLB 2005 for the Gamecube looks just like my brother’s friend Jay, he’s only managed 500 at bats in a season once. His OPS+ last year was 62. Since 100 is average, it follows that 62 is bad. He’s 30, so his durability is unlikely to improve. Still, he was a career Oriole - all his major league at bats are for Baltimore. And you hate to see the guy just dumped so unceremoniously. Oh, well. I’ll write about something non-baseball related tomorrow.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Please, just get this over with

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Official Site of The Baltimore Orioles: News: Roberts seeks closure on trade front

“I don’t know what the resolution is – I haven’t heard anything except what somebody told me,” Roberts said Thursday. “[Andy and I] talked for two minutes here yesterday. ‘Highly unlikely’ doesn’t seem like a resolution to me.”

I still think this trade is going to happen. And quotes from Roberts, obviously unhappy that it’s not resolved, reinforce my point that he’s not going to be on top of his game. No one wants to be strung along, not knowing what city he’s going to be in next week. At this point, it’s ridiculous not to trade him. Just make the deal already. I think it sucks if he leaves this way, but I don’t see how you can salvage much of anything at this point. The whole situation is soured.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Now that they've said that . . .

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Roberts deal appears unlikely

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley has consistently said that he can’t imagine his batting order without Roberts, a switch-hitting fixture at the top of the lineup. However, he’s also said that he’ll do whatever he needs to do.

Now that they’ve said that Baltimore is unlikely to trade Brian Roberts, I expect a trade to come through in the next day or two. I mean, why wouldn’t the Orioles get rid of a switch-hitting second baseman who stole 50 bases last year with a 112 OPS+ and happens to be one of the biggest fan favorites on the team? I mean, everyone in the league gets 42 doubles out of their second baseman, right? I know, it makes sense to deal him if you’re rebuilding. And if the Orioles aren’t rebuilding, then they’re completely insane. I just don’t see his value going up as the season progresses. The team is a mess, so I don’t expect a career year out of him. The Orioles should probably take whatever the best offer is right now and call it a day.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

You want to see something scary?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Go to Google and type in “mccain nude” without the quotes. You’ll see that, as of today, this is the very first hit. You may ask how I know this. No, I was not searching for nude pictures of John McCain, or of anyone else. But someone else may have been, because someone found my site with that Google search. I’m only sixth when you search for “mccain hates bears” without the quotes, but first if you include them. I’m first for “nude mccain hates bears”. Anyway, none of this is really that important, but it’s amusing.

Posted in: google rankings , politics , scary

I'm so glad baseball is back.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Even if it’s just Oakland playing the f'ing Red Sox in Japan, I’m so happy that the baseball season has started again. Just looking at box scores, seeing that Daric Barton walked twice more, bringing his OBP to .444 despite not getting a hit yet, and seeing Rich Harden make the Sox look silly, striking out nine in six innings, it just brings a smile to my face. Never mind that the Orioles aren’t expected to win even 70 games this year. I’m not going to worry about that right now. Instead, I’ll point and laugh at Jason Varitek, 0-8 with six Ks so far. And who knows - maybe the Orioles will flash back to 1989 and unexpectedly make the playoffs. I can’t imagine Jeff Ballard is too busy these days … Edit: Article here mentioning Barton as an AL Rookie of the Year candidate.

Barton has never hit up to corner-infielder standards – though he’s still young enough to develop the power – but he has never not hit, topping .300 everywhere he has been. He is a remarkably disciplined hitter at a young age – his Minor League totals show 303 walks versus 255 strikeouts.

I like this kid more and more. He’d probably be the poster boy for Moneyball II - What Can Billy Beane Get for Huston Street?

Posted in: Anti complaint , baseball , sports

I know, I know, I'll get to it

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I really need to get “Your Complaints” working again. We have a new complaint, incorrectly left as a comment on another post. For all of you who left complaints at the old site, they aren’t lost. I was working on getting that set up again at the new site, but then I got distracted. I’ll get to it, though.

Posted in: Your complaints

Complaint about merchandise that has never been sent

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I have come down to the place of complaining about the Astorclub.com. I purchased a fire place insert from this company back in January. They were paid. The money has been taken from my account. I have never received the merchendise. I have tried to call them. Each time they are closed, or will not be open until Monday. They are never open. I have emailed them and they never return their email. I want to warn people to never shop with the AstorClub for anything. They will take your money and you will not receive what you have ordered. Thank you for listening. I just want to keep someone else from loosing money to this company. Thanks, Wayneb

I am literally floored by this stunning news flash

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Obama’s New Message, Some Foes See Old Liberalism - washingtonpost.com

But as Obama heads into the final presidential primaries, Sen. John McCain and other Republicans have already started to brand him a standard-order left-winger, “a down-the-line liberal,” as McCain strategist Charles R. Black Jr. put it, in a long line of Democratic White House hopefuls.

OMG, I am totally in shock. The Washington Post is breaking the staggering, unforeseen, and totally unbelievable news that Barack Obama is a liberal! Tomorrow, they plan to announce that water is wet, the sky is blue, and George W. Bush is a miserable excuse for a President. Does this come as news to anyone? Really? And then the Clinton camp is jumping on the bandwagon and saying he’s too liberal. That’s like the Yankees complaining that the Red Sox spend too much money on player salaries. I can’t speak for all of the Obama supporters, but I can speak for me. I am not supporting Obama because of where he falls on the liberal/conservative spectrum. I often don’t agree with him on policy, especially fiscal policy, because I think he’s too liberal. I support Obama because I like where he is on the reasonable/unreasonable spectrum. I like where he is on the trustworthy/untrustworthy spectrum. I like where he is on the “I can see this person as the leader of my country”/George W. Bush spectrum. I think Obama understands that his policy isn’t always what’s right for America, and that sometimes, you have to listen to the other side and make some major concessions. I think if you can’t concede that there are times when liberal view is the right one, and times when the conservative view is the right one, then you aren’t being honest with yourself. More than either of the other candidates, I think Obama understands this, too. When Obama is President, I believe he will push for policy that I think is a bad idea. He will probably implement some policy that I think is a bad idea. But that’s okay. I think he will be a good President, and I certainly think he will be a better President than Clinton or McCain.

Why the save is a stupid stat

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

So, Oakland and Boston opened the baseball season with a game in Japan at what is, in the US, a ridiculous hour. The ten inning game just finished around 930AM Eastern. It gave us a good look at why the save is a ridiculous stat that tells nothing about the usefulness of a pitcher. Sure, good closers get a lot of saves. But that doesn’t make it a good measure of the quality of the closer. Take Jonathan Papelbon’s performance this morning. Now, I won’t argue that he’s not a good closer, because in his three seasons, he’s been utterly absurd. But this particular save he “earned” is absolutely in no way a reflection of a good outing. He came on to start the tenth, Boston leading by two. He began the inning by walking Daric Barton, who must have read Moneyball dozens of times. He then struck out Jack Cust (Who was 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. What a wonderful way to start the season). Then he allowed a double, scoring Barton. The hitter, Emil Brown, was thrown out at third trying for his 11th career triple in his 620th career game. Good job, clown. The next two batters singled, meaning that the game would have been tied if Brown had just held up at second. I didn’t see the game, so maybe he made the right call to try for third and it just didn’t work out, but I think that’s unlikely. Finally, Papelbon got out of the inning. Three hits, a walk, and only a baserunning mistake away from an eleventh inning or a loss. But he gets the save! Way to accurately measure the quality of a pitcher’s outing, save. Really. Nice job.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports , statistics

Why do I hate roller bags at work?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am annoyed (probably irrationally, I know) by people who use the little roller bags instead of a briefcase or something at work. I’m not quite sure why I’m annoyed, but I hate them. Every time I see one, I think to myself, “That person thinks he/she is more important than he/she is”. I’m okay with roller bags when traveling, although I don’t really like to use them myself - they make too much noise and they bug me. But I see the utility, and occasionally even use them. Maybe if they had rubber wheels … Anyway, part of my irritation was the gentleman using the restroom on my floor who had left his roller bag in a particularly inconvenient spot. But it goes beyond that, and I’m at a loss to explain why. Part of it may be that people tend to be less maneuverable with these bags. They expand their personal space, sometimes infringing on mine in the elevator (And we all know I don’t like elevators). But I don’t think that fully explains it, because I don’t even like to see people far away from me with these bags. Any ideas? Do YOU like roller bags at work?

Posted in: complaint , Elevators , work

Family tree building

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Main Page - GRAMPS

GRAMPS is a Free Software Project for Genealogy, offering a professional genealogy program, and a wiki open to all. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.

I’ve been trying to collect some family names in preparation for the baby. The wife and I wouldn’t mind using a family name for the baby if we can find one we like, so we’re trying to find one we like. A cousin of my grandmother gave her a copy of the Wolman family tree (My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Wolman). And I spent most of yesterday evening entering it into GRAMPS, the above-linked genealogy program. It’s really just a graphical front end for some sort of custom database, it seems, but it’s a pretty cool product for creating a family tree. There are websites that let you do it, but they seem to want money. But since this program was developed for Linux (and is included in the Ubuntu packages, for those using Ubuntu), it’s free. I think the final count when I finished last night was 388 people in the tree. Some of them are unnamed, and there were a few guesses where the writing got cut off when it was photocopied. But it’s a pretty extensive picture of that part of the family. My next goal is to get something similar on my dad’s side, and then work on the wife’s family. And I’d like to get the important dates in - almost no one in the tree has a birth or a death date, and many of non-Wolmans don’t have last names. This is especially common for women who married in and stopped using their maiden names, and I imagine many genealogists have this problem. But it’s kind of fun to find out all this stuff. Even if we don’t find a name for the kid, I’d be happy with just having a big family tree to pass along.

Posted in: baby , family , genealogy , linux , parenting

South Park shares all the episodes

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New South Park site debuts, with full episode streaming - Boing Boing

Eventually every episode and clip will be available everywhere in the world. There is a tangle of contracts that Comedy Central has with different cable companies and territories that are preventing us from that right now. But hopefully it won’t be long.

This brings me back to the glory days Chuckles. Chuckles was the name of the forgotten machine on the work network that the IT team didn’t realize was unused. It had every episode of South Park through season 8, gigs of MP3s, movies, and tv shows. Whenever I was bored at work, I could just watch something. And now the creators of South Park are doing the same thing. Shocking that the show that has never been afraid of pushing the envelope (BTW, did you know that “pushing the envelope” actually refers to the flight envelope, which is “the capabilities of [an airplane] design in terms of speed and altitude”?) is also not afraid of experimenting with new business models.

Posted in: Anti complaint , cool , tv

So what's in it for us?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shysterball | Can We Build It? Ev-en-tu-ally!

Know what? Something tells me slogans like “you gotta wait 10 years for this to work out” weren’t part of Evans' pitch back when he and his colleagues were voting to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from impoverished D.C. residents to wealthy baseball owners.

I’ve always thought that the public shouldn’t be on the hook for any part of the construction of a sports stadium unless the public is realizing profits above and beyond tax revenue. I may be totally making this up, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that most studies indicate that the city doesn’t really benefit much from a new stadium. The team owners really benefit from a new stadium. As such, it seems reasonable that the city should get something back. If DC gives $100 million towards the new Nationals Park, it seems reasonable to me that the city get, say, $5 million a year in profit sharing. Certainly with $100 million, any marginally competent financial adviser could turn a 5% profit. So it seems fair that the Nationals should kick that back to the city. I don’t know the actual numbers here, I’m just making these up, but I think the argument holds. Still, I’m looking forward to checking out the new stadium. I drove by yesterday on the way to visit my family, and it looks pretty impressive.

Posted in: baseball , dc , harvardstreet , sports

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Friday, March 21, 2008

ESPN | Humble Jones gives Orioles a face for the future

His name is Adam Jones, and the Orioles spent the better part of two months this offseason prying him loose from Seattle… If the camp buzz means anything, the effort was worth it.

Too bad “camp buzz” doesn’t win championships. Jones better be humble - he struck out once every four at bats at AAA last year, and he gets thrown out on 35% of steal attempts. And that’s by minor league catchers. I mean, he’s young. He’s going to get better. But what we gave up to get him was only one of the best pitchers in the league (I think Bedard led the league in strikeouts per batter faced last year, picking up 221 in only 182 innings). I’m all for going young - if the Orioles want to totally rebuild, and realize that they have to let Bedard go to pick up the prospects to make us competitive in three years, fine. Rebuild. But then why is Melvin Mora still on the team? You can’t go half way on rebuilding. Ditch everyone over 25. Orioles fans really will stick with you if you’re making a real commitment to winning. We’re just getting tired of this pretending. The team hung on to Mora too long. They hung on to Tejada too long. They seem to be stringing Brian Roberts along over a trade to the Cubs. I do like Jones' attitude, though.

“I hate it when people say, ‘Look at all the stuff you’ve done,’” Jones said. “Well, I did it in Triple-A. When I got an opportunity in the big leagues last year, I hit .246. I didn’t do everything I could with the opportunity I had.

That’s exactly what you want to hear from your new 22-year-old outfielder. He’s not coming in cocky, crowing over his .968 OPS last year. He’s putting it on himself to perform and prove he deserves to be there. The season starts pretty soon, and I’m getting into the baseball mood (At least I will be as soon as I’m mathematically eliminated from my NCAA tournament pool). I’m curious to see how Bedard does in Seattle. Part of me is hoping he strikes out 350 with a WHIP of under 1 and wins the Cy Young. That way I can say, "I told you so”.

Posted in: baseball , sports

Alternative means of transportation

Thursday, March 20, 2008

As some of you may know, I drive out to Falls Church for work every day. As I go down 14th Street NW in the morning, I look fondly at the bike path, trying to ignore the frequently double-parked cars, right turners, and other obstacles, and imagine biking to work. How smug I would be, getting some exercise, some fresh air, shrinking my carbon footprint. I mean, in terms of yuppie street cred, commutes go something like this, in increasing order of smugness:

  1. Drive
  2. Carpool
  3. Metro
  4. Long bus ride
  5. Metro from a “sketchy” stop like Brookland or Navy Yard
  6. Telework
  7. Full time grad student (Only if you’re at least 4 years older than most of your classmates)
  8. Short bus ride
  9. Walk
  10. Bike I was thinking, though, how much longer it would take to bike than drive. And then I passed a guy on a bike. I passed him around P St, or maybe T. I thought to myself how it must take him forever to get to work. I wondered if I had that kind of dedication. And then, I got stuck at the light at N St. And he passed me. The light changed, and I nearly caught him, but then he was off as I waited at the light at the circle. I lost track of him after that.

Unfortunate name, interesting product

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tobias Buckell Online | Blews

I’m quite intrigued, as I’m always trying tools that will blunt any attempt by myself to surround myself and read only people who think exactly like I do. I think of all the outraged liberals in ‘04 who thought there was no possible way Bush could win because they didn’t know of anyone who was going to vote for him. Or conservative friends who still think Bush has been the greatest president evar!

I keep hearing about this Microsoft Blews thing, and, as Buckell says, this could be the coolest thing Microsoft has ever done. I’d add “since Windows 3.1” to his statement, but whatever. I have mentioned before that I’d like a nice unbiased news source that leans in the direction of exactly none of the political parties. I’ve tried foreign publications, since they probably lean towards parties I’ve never heard of, and I figure that’s better than ones I have heard of. But foreign news always seems to have this undercurrent of, “Oh, jeez, look what the Americans did now”. Maybe that’s just me - I do have a not-entirely-irrational fear that the entire world laughs at us all the time. Anyway, the one thing that I don’t see anywhere is whether it’s a website or a desktop application. If this is going after Google Reader or some other web-based news aggregator (My Firefox dictionary doesn’t have “aggregator”?), then I think it could be very successful. However, if this is some desktop application (Windows only == fail), then I’m getting interested for nothing. Desktop applications are best suited for things that are too resource-intensive to be done in your browser. Consuming news articles through a desktop application is only a half-step above (shudder) reading a newspaper.

Yay, Nashville!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I wrote about this a little while ago, and now Boing Boing says, Copyfighters beat down Tennessee bill. Well done, Tennessee. People in the comments point out that this is not a total victory - it still requires universities to police their students, which is a dumb idea. But at least it’s no longer a horrible, despicable idea.

My first speeding ticket since high school

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First, let me say it is truly a joy to pay a ticket at the DC DMV website. Of all the things the DC government does, extorting collecting money through the DMV website is something it actually gets right. I got a speed camera ticket on Michigan Avenue near Catholic University a few weeks ago. There were all of two cars on the road, and I was doing 37 in a 25. It’s pretty annoying, because I really don’t speed much these days. It’s a $50 fine and no points, so I guess it isn’t too terrible in the grand scheme of things. It just bugs me because I’m mostly a law-abiding (though aggressive) driver. Every day, I see people doing things in a car that are unsafe and illegal with no consequences, and I get a ticket for speeding on an empty road. What about the cabbie who zipped around me to run the red light at 15th and Mass NW yesterday? Or the four cars that turned right on H from the middle lane of 18th because they didn’t feel like waiting in line? Anyway, I hope you enjoy my $50, DC. I hope it makes you very happy.

Top Three Reasons my Wife is Awesome

Monday, March 17, 2008

There is no question that my wife is awesome. You may think I’m biased, but I assure you that my bias pales in comparison to her awesomeness. Reason #1 that my wife is awesome: She refuses to rest on her laurels. The reasons she is great right now are not necessarily the same as the reasons she was great last year, or will be great next year. For example, earlier in our relationship, she had the opportunity to meet a bunch of my friends from way back all at once. They can be a little intimidating - it’s a big group of people who have known each other a long time, and they’re full of inside jokes and whatnot. Anyway, instead of being intimidated, she jumped right in and made friends. But that’s not on the list now. Reason #2 that my wife is awesome: She’s taking me to Paris for my 30th birthday. She just told me today (Through a little treasure hunt). I can’t wait. She’s wanted to take me for a while. She lived in France for a year or so and speaks fluent French. I’ve never been to France, and can say, “I don’t speak French” in French. But I’m very excited. We’re renting a little efficiency for six nights in late April. It’s right in the middle of everything, and we’re going to see the Rodin museum and the Champs Elysees and we’ll eat baguettes and cheese. Reason #3 that my wife is awesome: She’s pregnant. Yup, about fifteen weeks in. This is our first, and I’m more excited than I’m even going to get close to expressing. I got to see an ultrasound two weeks ago, and just watching my little son or daughter hopping around in there was surreal. Anyway, more to come, but I think I’m going to get off the computer and go hang out with my awesome wife.

Posted in: awesome , family , life

I hate facts. And physics.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Forbes | Blues for Greens I was at the doctor’s yesterday for a routine checkup (Everything is fine, thanks - doctor says I’m healthy) and I saw this article in Forbes magazine. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything in a reputable publication that was so divorced from reality. Well, maybe Fox News. Which is reputable for some value of reputable.

Solving the energy problem is easy if you pay no attention to the laws of physics. That’s the wonder of the U.S. Congress. To pass is easy; to achieve is something else. This is where I break your green heart. Americans know that Congress passed a law ordering all cars and trucks to average 35 miles to the gallon by 2020. It won’t happen.

Writing snarky opinion articles for Forbes is easy if you pay no attention to facts.

But there’s just no way anyone subject to the laws of physics and automobile engineering can get a 5,000-pound pickup, or any mass-produced, reasonably priced sport utility near that weight, up to 35mpg.

Is anyone suggesting that should happen? Let us hop on over to the NHTSA and see what CAFE standards REALLY mean.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is the sales weighted average fuel economy, expressed in miles per gallon (mpg), of a manufacturer’s fleet of passenger cars or light trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 lbs. or less, manufactured for sale in the United States, for any given model year.

So, that means that if I’m Car Company A, and I want to sell some gigantic SUVs that get 6 MPG and not pay CAFE fines, I can just sell a bunch of little fuel-efficient cars and balance out my fleet average. Wow! That was easy. By the way, I have no idea which particular laws of physics he’s referring to. I think perhaps it might be Archimedes' Third Law of Big Honkin' Trucks, which states: SUVs get bad mileage. It might also be something discovered by Georg Ohm, better known for his work with electricity and resitance and whatnot: As the size of the truck approaches 5,000 pounds, the fuel economy (in miles per gallon) approaches some arbitrary number that is most definitely less than 35. It’s probably, like, 12. Maybe 13. There might be other laws being violated, too, but I’m not a physicist, and can’t possibly be bothered to look anything up before I share my opinions with the world.

The best way to increase fuel economy (and reduce greenhouse gases, too) is to reduce the weight and engine size of the vehicles. Congress could pass a law ordering that no car weigh more than 1,750 pounds (a Toyota (nyse: TM - news - people ) Camry is in the 3,200-pound range), no truck weigh more than 2,500 pounds and no engine run more than 75 horsepower. Most Americans couldn’t fit in such cars, but they would average 35mpg.

Okay, I don’t honestly know what the best way to increase fuel economy is, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that this is it.

The U.S. could also lower the speed limit to 40 miles per hour nationally. That would do it, too, since engines would shrink, and air resistance is a lot lower at 40 than at 60.

Air resistance? AIR RESISTANCE? Is this man honestly telling me that he thinks that air resistance is the primary cause of bad fuel economy? Maybe we should ban air. He says some more stupid things about biofuels that I’m not going to get into. I actually agree with him that mandating more production of corn-based ethanol is a bad idea. However, I’m pretty sure this agreement is just coincidence - I don’t want to mandate more corn-based ethanol because we’re already starting to see problems stemming from this practice, and because corn is a stupid thing to make ethanol from. He doesn’t want to mandate it because OMG PHYSICS!!!! What makes this article even more ridiculous is that there are arguments to be made against setting CAFE standards. One could argue that these regulations hurt the automobile industry by interfering with the natural supply and demand. One could argue that it’s not the responsibility of the auto industry to force people into smaller, more efficient cars. One could argue that this unfairly targets American auto manufacturers, who focus more on the big, heavy, inefficient vehicles, and therefore helps the Japanese and Korean manufacturers, who tend to make smaller cars. One could argue many more things, and I would say, “Yes, you have a point”. Then I would proceed to talk to you about changing habits (Driving less, living closer to work, promoting walking and public transportation). I would talk to you about changes in technology (Do you really have such little regard for American ingenuity that you can’t imagine a breakthrough technology?). But this guy didn’t make any of these points. He just made up some “facts” and then complained about the big bad government pandering to the whining of California hippies.

New science fiction site coming soon

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Making Light | Phase one: collect underpants via Whatever Tor Books, a big (the biggest?) name in science fiction publishing, is opening a new website. It is supposed to be “a place and a context for the lively, ongoing, wide-ranging, and profoundly self-organizing discussions that have characterized the science fiction subculture since its earliest days”. That sounds pretty cool to me. I signed up for their advanced membership or whatever it is to get some free ebook downloads. I haven’t read any of them, because I don’t have an ebook reader (Please, won’t someone make a good, affordable ebook reader?). But I have them, and I plan to read some or all of them, and I suspect that I will end up buying something from some or all of the authors that I read. I hate announcements of far away website launches - I don’t really care until your site is live. Actually, I don’t really care until it’s live and finished being Dugg and Slashdotted, which I’m sure it will be. But I am looking forward to this. I was really disappointed with Gawker’s crappy science fiction blog, and I have high hopes for this one.

Spitzer hates our hookers

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer Linked To Prostitution Ring by Wiretap - washingtonpost.com

New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer’s political future was thrown in doubt yesterday after he was identified as an anonymous client heard on a federal wiretap arranging to pay money and buy train tickets for a high-priced New York prostitute to meet him at a downtown Washington hotel.

Dear Eliot Spitzer: You’re a jerk. You got busted because OUR PROSTITUTES WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU. I hope you’re happy. Love, Washington DC

To honor, you have to understand

Monday, March 10, 2008

Uni Watch | Los Gringos Massivos

Am I the only one who thinks this approach reeks of American ignorance? It’s like getting drunk on Tequila in Mexico City and then asking, “Where-o is el bathroom-o?” And it’s not like the words Spurs and Suns don’t have Spanish translations — Espuelas and Sols, respectively. Would that have been so hard? Just tossing “Los” on there is a lazy cop-out, especially since NBA jerseys don’t use definite articles to begin with (well, except for this one). And seriously, does the mere addition of “Los” really strike a chord in any Hispanic fan’s heart? If we’ve got any Latinos out there, I’d love to hear your reaction.

Before I start here, make sure to check out this photo and tell me that you wouldn’t wear a Milwaukee Cerveceros jersey. Anyway, Uni Watch is absolutely right - to honor someone, you must have at least a vague notion of who those people are. In this case, I’m pretty sure “the Hispanic community” is not “a bunch of crazies who use Spanish articles when speaking in English”. Maybe there’s some other “Hispanic community” that I’m not aware of, but I don’t think so. Seriously, it would have taken all of five minutes to look up the Spanish translations of “Spurs” and “Suns”. It would have taken a bit more time and a bit more money to do the extra customization of the jerseys, perhaps, but I can’t imagine they couldn’t make up at least some of the difference by selling Spanish versions of the jerseys. San Antonio and Phoenix, not to mention many other places in the US, have large Spanish-speaking populations that are growing pretty rapidly. If ten thousand New York girls will wear pink Jeter jerseys, is it so hard to imagine that a Spanish-speaking basketball fan might wear an “Espuelas” jersey? I know I can’t speak for the “Hispanic community”, but I suspect that it would have been better for the NBA to just continue to ignore them rather than making this less-than-half-hearted attempt to “honor” them. Edit: Uni Watch has some additional reaction today, from an actual Latino.

All of this just illustrates the point that “Latino” encompasses so many nationalities that it is very hard to get something like this right. But we have been all thrown in the same group, whether we like it or not.

So, this was probably a tough task for the NBA to get right, but I still think they could have at least TRIED.

Posted in: complaint , sports , stupid people

Race results updated

Monday, March 10, 2008

A summary of the race is up at Washington Running Report. The two high school kids who ran in shorts and no shirts passed me about a mile in - I was pretty sure they were insane then, and I remain convinced of it now. The results have been updated - 41:07 was my clock time, but 40:38 was my actual chip time. That is, from the time they said, “Go” until the time I crossed the finish was 41:07. But the from the time I crossed the starting line until the time I crossed the finish was 40:38. Crap. Now I have to run another one and get under 40 minutes.

Posted in: dc , harvardstreet , health , life , race , running

John McCain hates bears

Monday, March 10, 2008

McCain Sees Pork Where Scientists See Success - washingtonpost.com

“Approach a bear: ‘That bear cub over there claims you are his father, and we need to take your DNA.’ Approach another bear: ‘Two hikers had their food stolen by a bear, and we think it is you. We have to get the DNA.’ The DNA doesn’t fit, you got to acquit, if I might.”

The title of the article on the Post RSS feed is better - “McCain Criticizes Bear Study”. Of course he does! None of the bears even had degrees! Anyway, I think he’s upset that we spent the equivalent of the budget for 48 seconds of the Iraq war on something that didn’t involve shooting at or otherwise endangering Muslims. Was that a cheap shot? Oops. Honestly, I do not understand the planet that John McCain lives on. I don’t know how rational human beings can listen to him and think, “Yeah, okay, President McCain, that would be cool”.

Give Maryland its wine in the mail already

Monday, March 10, 2008

Maryland HB-1260 Killed

The opposition is in the form of big, big money from the liquor distributors. Make no mistake about it, they spend millions to keep consenting adults from getting wine shipped to them.

So, Maryland is one of those crazy states that feels that having wine delivered in the mail is going to somehow be a terrible thing. The primary opposition to the shipping of wine to Maryland is not Maryland wineries, worried about what it might do to their business. The primary opposition is liquor distributors who do not understand the business they are in. If you all would allow me a Techdirt moment here: The business of shipping alcohol in the mail is not a zero sum game. Every case of wine shipped to a customer in Maryland does NOT mean one fewer case of liquor shipped to a customer in Maryland. In fact, I would be willing to bet that people who get wine shipped to their house are much more likely to get liquor shipped to their house, as well. We’re not talking about the market for wine vs. the market for liquor. We’re talking about the market for alcoholic beverages in the mail. If the liquor distributors would stop being jerks, maybe they could get together with the wine distributors and grow the entire market space. But no, they’d rather keep stupid laws on the books and fight with each other. Nice job, guys.

Well done, Toyota

Sunday, March 09, 2008

ESPN - Kyle Busch needed more than his immense talent to nab Toyota’s first win - Nascar

Toyota general manager Lee White stood just inside the iron fence that surrounds Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday and watched Kyle Busch celebrate the first Sprint Cup win for the foreign manufacturer.

Frankly, most of this article is about whining and accusing others of cheating (Which seems to be an all too familiar refrain in all of sports these days), but what caught my eye is that Toyota has its first NASCAR Sprint cup win. I was a NASCAR fan for a couple of years - Dale Earnhardt’s first win at Daytona was the first race I ever watched, and the second race I saw was live at Daytona, the Pepsi 400 in 1998. By the way, I find it amusing that the Pepsi 400 is now known as the Coke Zero 400. Nice job, Coke. It’s interesting to see Toyota coming in. Never mind that Toyota doesn’t have a single car with a V-8 engine. NASCAR doesn’t seem to care that the cars on the track bear basically no resemblance to the production cars they’re named for. And it’s weird to see the 18 car not be Bobby Labonte’s green Interstate Batteries car. Anyway, I haven’t really paid any attention to NASCAR since 2004 or so, but I would have liked to have been there for Toyota’s first win. I wonder if the 300 pound guy in overalls and no shirt with a #3 shaved in his back that I saw at Daytona one year was watching. I’ll bet he was, and I’ll bet he said something disparaging about Toyota at some point in the race.

Posted in: complaint , sports

Saint Patrick's Day 8K

Sunday, March 09, 2008

DSC_8371 I ran my third race this morning, the Saint Patrick’s Day 8K, right down Pennsylvania Avenue. Mayor Fenty gave us a brief pep talk before the race, and then ran with us. I didn’t actually see him, but he finished well ahead of me, I believe. I’ll let you know when they post the results later this afternoon. I’m pretty happy with my race. I don’t know my exact time, but the race clock was about 41 minutes. Since I didn’t start at the front, my actual time is probably 20 seconds or so less than that. Regardless, my average mile time was under nine minutes for the whole five mile race, which was my goal. Edit: 41:07 was my time. That’s 136/386 in my age group, 25-29. Average mile time of 8:17. And I was 738/4045 total, 565/1834 males. Mayor Fenty ran it in 32:20. The wife took some great pictures, one of which you can see here. The rest of the good ones are all up at Flickr. She is, as they say, a real trooper. Race time temperature was barely above freezing, and the wind chill made it feel like it was about 20 F. I have another race coming up in April, the Race to Stop the Silence. This will be my second time running it. It was my first race ever, last year, although they’ve changed the location. It was downtown on Ohio Drive by the water. Now it’s still on the water, but over in Anacostia. Big downgrade, as far as I can tell. But I think the Cherry Blossoms are the same weekend, so that’s probably why they moved it.

Posted in: dc , harvardstreet , health , life , race

Took too long to get this set up

Saturday, March 08, 2008

But it was worth it!

Posted in: Life

This is a test of the complaint submission system

Saturday, March 08, 2008

If this had been a real complaint, the piercing screech you would have heard if your speakers were on would have been followed by a long rant, possibly containing screaming.

Posted in: Life

My Complaint

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Can I complain about complainthub?

Posted in: Politics

Shirlington Parking

Saturday, March 08, 2008

They tore down the parking lot.

Posted in: Politics

Citibank Premiere Pass

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So, I’m sick of Credit Card companies promising one thing and delivering something else! I mean, these new Citibank Premiere Pass credit card commercials are awesome. They are funny, and the product sounds incredible.&nbsp_place_holder; I mean, I get miles on purchases and for the miles I fly… Plus I still get my airline miles as well from the airline. Can’t beat that!

But, alas, it’s a sham! You don’t actually get those miles that you earned flying until you’ve spent that much money on the card. So if you fly to Hong Kong for $1,000 bucks on the card, you get 1000 points for the purchase and like 10,000 for the flight… but you can only use 1,000 of those flight miles. Until you spend another $9,000 (!!!) dollars on the card, those points can’t be used. What a farce! And yet, they really don’t explain that in their commercials…

Oh, by the way, the card also has a $75 dollar annual fee. I mean, is that really necessary since the program pretty much sucks anyways?

Please, someone tell the new Democrats to do something about this. If a company makes a claim, they should have to meet it… REGARDLESS of what their disclosure says! Don’t give me disclosures, give me truthful advertising!

Thanks for allowing me to submit this. I feel better now.

Posted in: Life

Time Moves to Fast

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I know this is a silly complaint, but lately I’ve been angry about how fast time seems to move. SO, if I could submit a complaint here… I’d like to call out “time” – yes, the fourth dimension – for its screwy behavior lately.

Thanks.&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Life

getting old

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i swear i never got very sore after flag football games until this season.&nbsp_place_holder; there have always been bruises, abrasions, the occasional ruptured achilles tendon & what have you, but generally little (if any) muscle soreness.&nbsp_place_holder; i know i’m not going as hard as i used to when i block…that’s fine…that explains the decrease in bumps and bruises. but i essentially do the same general ‘staying fit’ workouts as i did during past seasons. i would think there shouldn’t be a marked increase in muscle-soreness.&nbsp_place_holder; the only explanation i can think of is i’m getting old.&nbsp_place_holder; and it sucks.&nbsp_place_holder; well worth testing the complaint submission form.&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Life

stupid metro riders

Saturday, March 08, 2008

so, in the morning on metro, many people read the express, a free publication that’s distributed at the metro entrances.&nbsp_place_holder; it’s a perfect way to pass the time if you’re interested.&nbsp_place_holder; there’s a little headline news, world news, local stuff, sports highlights, some pop culture articles, comics, sudoku and a crossword.&nbsp_place_holder; plenty of things to keep people busy.&nbsp_place_holder; and, again, it’s free.&nbsp_place_holder; can’t beat that.&nbsp_place_holder; what on earth could i be complaining about, you may wonder.&nbsp_place_holder; well, people - after taking advantage of this free reading material - can’t manage to find the recycle bin at the metro exit to deposit the express.&nbsp_place_holder; let me help out these readers: IT’S RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRASH BIN YOU’RE USING TO THROW AWAY THE EXPRESS!&nbsp_place_holder; the bins are SIDE BY SIDE.&nbsp_place_holder; and one is clearly labeled “newspaper”.&nbsp_place_holder; i know you can read, you took a copy of the express!&nbsp_place_holder; the only explanation i can come up with is that the garbage bin is easier to use.&nbsp_place_holder; it has a huge round hole on the top to accept deposits.&nbsp_place_holder; the recycling bin has a wide slit on the side and no open top.&nbsp_place_holder; that means, commuters would have to slow down ever so slightly to have better aim and put it in the recylcing bin.&nbsp_place_holder; and i honestly think it’s the additional 2 seconds it might take them that deters these people.&nbsp_place_holder; i have two responses to that - you’re only going to work. is it really that important that you get there NOW?!&nbsp_place_holder; and second, if you walked up the escalator rather than ride it to the top, you’d save more than two seconds.&nbsp_place_holder; just an idea.

Posted in: Life

Political allegiance

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Politicians, in general, show more allegiance to their party than to the country’s needs.

Posted in: Politics

You call this winter weather?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

How am I supposed to get in the holiday spirit when it is mid-December and still 50 degrees during the day?

Dear Fatty McMiddleseat

Saturday, March 08, 2008

You chose the middle seat next to me&nbsp_place_holder; I know that you chose it because it was the exit row.&nbsp_place_holder; I saw your 300 pounds of balding business traveler body eyeing that tight 17 inch-wide, 34 inches of seat pitch torture chamber right from the moment you waddled down the aisle.

I was in the window seat.&nbsp_place_holder; And yes I chose the exit row too.&nbsp_place_holder; But I chose it because it is the one place on commerical airliners where taller men and women seek refuge from the evil little old ladies who insist on fully reclining their seats directly into our knees.&nbsp_place_holder; But you, Fatty McMiddleseat, were not tall.&nbsp_place_holder; 5' 9" tops.&nbsp_place_holder; You were wide.&nbsp_place_holder; Aisle seats work well for people of your stature, not the exit row.&nbsp_place_holder;

However, judging by the relatively full flight, you may not have had the chance to get a coveted aisle seat.&nbsp_place_holder; Fine, I understand.&nbsp_place_holder; But that does not excuse your behavior for the rest of the 2 ½ hours spent in a cramped, pressurized aluminum tube.&nbsp_place_holder; No, no, Fatty McMiddleseat, you had grander visions for your seatmate.&nbsp_place_holder;

As you suished in between my companion in 12D and me in 12F, I detected the unmistakable odor of vodka wafting from your pores.&nbsp_place_holder; Was that Popov or Five O'Clock?&nbsp_place_holder; It was&nbsp_place_holder;5:30 am and not exactly the preferred aroma of someone who should have just showered.&nbsp_place_holder;

So we settle in, get our obligatory exit row “are able and willing to operate the window in the event of an emergency” interrogatory from the flight attendant, and push back from the gate.&nbsp_place_holder; Take off was uneventful except for your inadvertent seat reclining right as the engines spool up at the runway threshold.&nbsp_place_holder; Was it your thigh pushing the button accidentally?

Upon passing FL 100 and our ability to operate electronic devices of imperceptibly small wattage is restored, I try to catch some sleep and listen to some soothing “happy place” music.&nbsp_place_holder; But that peace is disturbed by the most noxious waft of assgas this side of the Mississippi.&nbsp_place_holder; Oh my god, Fatty McMiddleseat.&nbsp_place_holder; What did you have for dinner?&nbsp_place_holder; I think it involved some sort of nuts.&nbsp_place_holder; Your fart had a distinctly peanut aroma.&nbsp_place_holder; Either that or it got filtered through your peanut dust-infused seat cushion.&nbsp_place_holder;&nbsp_place_holder; Yeah, every 4 or 5 minutes it happened.&nbsp_place_holder; “ppuuffffffffff….”

The greatest insult, though, happened somewhere over Pennsylvania.&nbsp_place_holder; You fell asleep.&nbsp_place_holder; Snore. Check. Snort. Check.&nbsp_place_holder; Then you proceeded to lean over onto my shoulder and place your head a 90 degree angle on top of my shoulder.&nbsp_place_holder; I nudged you and your head snapped back up. Then a minute later, you did it again. A half hour of this.&nbsp_place_holder; You even muttered a half-hearted “sorry” and then did it again.&nbsp_place_holder; Oh, and some more nut farts helped me to make the moment more special.

Thoroughly traumatized, we finally decended.&nbsp_place_holder; Right after the pilot greased it right on the numbers (way to go dude, best landing ever!), then it happened.&nbsp_place_holder; Sometime in the flight you managed to unbuckle your seatbelt.&nbsp_place_holder; The reverse thruster buckets kick out and brakes applied…then you, Fatty McMiddleseat, get tossed forward into the seat in front of you, almost off your seat.&nbsp_place_holder;If it wasn’t so wide to begin with, I swear you would have become your own underseat carry on. &nbsp_place_holder;Damn that was funny to see you sheepishly relatch the stretched-to-its-limit belt.&nbsp_place_holder;

So, thank you, Fatty McMiddleseat, for being a close companion and cuddlebuddy.&nbsp_place_holder; I will miss you.

Posted in: Life

ladies bathroom

Saturday, March 08, 2008

this scenario occurs all too often.&nbsp_place_holder; you are female, wishing to use the bathroom at a bar.&nbsp_place_holder; the bathroom has two stalls.&nbsp_place_holder; by the end of the evening, one stall has a door that will not lock & generally won’t even close.&nbsp_place_holder; the other may have a functioning door/lock, but will inevitably house a commode hopelessly clogged with toilet paper and other more unpleasant things.&nbsp_place_holder; and the line of women intending to use such inadequate facilities will be out the door.&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Life

Living in a furnace

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I live in Northern California, so the weather is pretty nice year round.&nbsp_place_holder; My thermostat only has heaters in the living area; the bathroom and bedroom have separate baseboard heaters.&nbsp_place_holder; I usually leave those doors closed to save energy (and I don’t really even turn on those heaters as it doesn’t get that cold).&nbsp_place_holder; I have the living area temperature set to 62 or so (inaccurate gauge, mind you; it’s closer to 68).&nbsp_place_holder; This morning, I open the bedroom door to enter my living room to a heat blast.&nbsp_place_holder; It must be 75 or more in here.&nbsp_place_holder; I even turned the gauge down to “LOW” (which is below 50), but there is still hot air coming out of the vents.&nbsp_place_holder; I have to get a programmable format, but of course my thermostat is run off of line voltage, which is trickier and more expensive.&nbsp_place_holder; This all presumes that I don’t pass out from sweating out all the water in my system.

Posted in: Other

drive right, pass left

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i am thoroughly enjoying the complaint submission feature.&nbsp_place_holder; that said,

as per code of virginia, title 46.2 regarding motor vehicles:

whenever any roadway has been divided into clearly marked lanes for traffic [say, THE GW PARKWAY], drivers of vehicles shall obey the following:

any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions existing, shall be driven in the lane nearest the right edge or right curb of the highway when such lane is available for travel except when overtaking and passing another vehicle or in preparation for a left turn or where right lanes are reserved for slow-moving traffic as permitted in this section.

&nbsp_place_holder;people, why is this so hard to understand?!?!?!?!

Posted in: Driving

Mass Email List

Saturday, March 08, 2008

People need to check their email distrubution list.&nbsp_place_holder; Lisa M Donais is sending out mass emails about company expense reports to people who are not employeed by her company.&nbsp_place_holder; Check and see who your actually sending your email too and that it makes sense for them to receive it.

limited categories

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Don’t you hate it when you can’t choice multiple categories to file your complaint under

Posted in: Monkeys

cookies

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I swear I wouldn’t eat any junk food if my wife didn’t buy it becuase it was “buy one, get one” or “on sale”.&nbsp_place_holder; Damnit woman, don’t buy that stuff! I feel oddly compelled to eat it once it crosses the threshold of our house.

Posted in: Family

spelling

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Firefox can’t correct my spelling and grammer in the complaint submition box.&nbsp_place_holder; It works in other textareas

Posted in: Monkeys

Smart traffic lights

Saturday, March 08, 2008

There is a traffic light about 100 yards from my apartment complex.&nbsp_place_holder; Heading to work (east), the traffic light is “smart.” I define “smart” as follows:&nbsp_place_holder; if there are no cars intending to turn left coming from the opposite direction (i.e. west), then our light turns green.&nbsp_place_holder; However, on the way home (heading west), the light becomes “f*ing stupid.”&nbsp_place_holder; The light turns green for the left turn lane heading east (despite the fact that there are no cars intending to turn left).&nbsp_place_holder; I sit there idly wondering why both directions can’t be “smart.”&nbsp_place_holder; I guess that would defy the laws of traffic intelligence (which is a similar oxymoron as military intelligence).

Posted in: Driving

Left turn on red

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Here in Iowa, it is legal to make a left turn on red ONLY if you are in the left-most lane of a one-way street, turning into the left-most lane of another one-way street. Turning left on red is never legal when you are in the right-most lane of a two-way street. So you dumbasses at Sixth and High, and the MLK exit off 235 - Cut it out!

Posted in: Driving

this is test complaint

Saturday, March 08, 2008

this is just a test.

Posted in: Other

Infinology Is The Devil AND Sucks

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Piker Press has used Infinology as webhost for a couple of years now. There were occasional service glitches, but for the most part, it did what was needed.

Suddely this week, the Piker Press site went blank. Stuff is still out there on the server, but nothing is showing up on the website. E-mails and phone calls to Infinology have gone unanswered.

A little research (Googling “Infinology sucks” and “Infinology scam”) showed that many, many others are experiencing similar problems with their sites going dead. Most report get no answers to their complaints. The rare few who have had their phone calls answered report that the person they spoke to had very limited English fluency.

Fortunately, the Press has an assortment of geeks who are figuring out how to back up our data and hunting for a new host. And fortunately, we are not a business, so we are not losing any money to speak of by being down for a few days.

But honest to Pete, this sort of business practice is, at the best, rude, and at the worst, sleazy. Considering some people have had trouble cancelling their accounts because they can’t get their e-mails to go through, it may even be criminal.

Stay away from Infinology. Tell your friends to stay away from Infinology. If you are using Infinology and are not having problems yet, thank your lucky stars and start looking for a more ethical webhost while you still can.

And for heaven’s sake, back up your data.

Posted in: Other

emove, usplastics, comcast - why is nothing easy?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

emove - so, we used emove when we moved from virginia to d.c.&nbsp_place_holder; we paid for 2 guys to load the truck in virginia and 2 guys to unload the truck in virginia.&nbsp_place_holder; three charges appeared on my credit card rather than 2.&nbsp_place_holder; i emailed and said, hey, i think two of these confirmation numbers are for the same job.&nbsp_place_holder; after a week of no response from emove, i emailed again today.&nbsp_place_holder; the response: two of the charges are accurate b/c we hired in both d.c. and virginia.&nbsp_place_holder; thanks for that.&nbsp_place_holder; i agree with that proposition.&nbsp_place_holder; it’s the THIRD charge i have a problem with.&nbsp_place_holder; still trying.&nbsp_place_holder; i hate when customer service people don’t actually READ your email.&nbsp_place_holder;&nbsp_place_holder;

usplastics - right after emove completely ignores my request, i place an order for 96 gallon bins and recylcing containers.&nbsp_place_holder; then customer service calls me (again, right on the heels of my emove email) to give me an estimate on the freight charges.&nbsp_place_holder; about $100.&nbsp_place_holder; a bit steep, but, ok.&nbsp_place_holder; i ask about delivery date.&nbsp_place_holder; she doesn’t really know and tells me that i have to pay $15 to be called in advance of delivery.&nbsp_place_holder; WHAT?&nbsp_place_holder; it’s not like you can just leave four huge bins on our landing - there’s not enough room and i’d like to arrange for someone to be home.&nbsp_place_holder; now, don’t get me wrong, $15 is not a lot and it would come out of our condo fees.&nbsp_place_holder; but - WTF?&nbsp_place_holder; i have to pay to have you tell me when to expect delivery.&nbsp_place_holder; no way.&nbsp_place_holder; not now.&nbsp_place_holder; not ever.&nbsp_place_holder; sufficed to say, i’m receiving notification and not paying anything for it.

comcast - we cannot get these clowns to come to our building to do installation.&nbsp_place_holder; the computer still lists our unit as single-family residence rather than individual units and so they can’t arrange for a guy to come out.&nbsp_place_holder; the problem wtih this explanation: A COMCAST GUY CAME OUT ON SATURDAY AND DID INSTALLATION FOR THE UNIT ABOVE OURS.

i go back to my opening question: why is nothing easy????

Posted in: Life

priorities

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i work as a surgery tech in a facility where research is conducted using animal models.&nbsp_place_holder; i play a fairly important role in any surgical procedure we do.&nbsp_place_holder; during such procedures, there is generally a surgeon/vet, sterile assistant, anesthetist and sometimes a circulator (someone in a nonsterile roll who helps facilitate the procedure).&nbsp_place_holder; oftentimes, i will be assuming one of these rolls, but also covering for someone who, in theory, is perfoming one of the other roles.&nbsp_place_holder; yesterday, i was preparing a pig for surgery.&nbsp_place_holder; in the OR were four people, me, another tech (20+ years experience) and two lab animal veterinarians (one of whom is our lab chief).&nbsp_place_holder; not only did i have to lift a 70-pound anesthetized pig onto the OR bed by myself, but the pig started to wake up.&nbsp_place_holder; none of the things that should have been ready were, so i had to struggle with the waking pig while administering intravenous drugs and attaching multiple items of monitoring equipment. &nbsp_place_holder; all this time, the other tech and vets were freaking out over the screen of the anesthesia machine.&nbsp_place_holder; not the anesthesia machine my pig was attached to, no.&nbsp_place_holder; there was another machine in the room (literally two feet away from the one i was using) that we have used once, yes ONCE in the two years we have been using the room.&nbsp_place_holder; apparently someone had sprayed cleaning solution on the screen and not wiped it off afterward, so it streaked.&nbsp_place_holder; the tech and vets were asking, in a quite panicked manner, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS SCREEN?”&nbsp_place_holder; all the while, i was wrestling with a distressed pig.&nbsp_place_holder; they were literally oblivious.&nbsp_place_holder; i explained that someone sprayed cleaning solution on it and then didn’t wipe it off, but that didn’t really seem to sink in.&nbsp_place_holder; actually, the tech said, “whoever did that shouldn’t be using that type of solution on this touch screen.”&nbsp_place_holder; still wrestling the pig (while they are still, honest to god, oblivious) i say (in an irritated voice), “it’s not a touch screen, and it’s perfectly fine for whoever cleaned it to use XYZ solution. they should have, however, wiped it down afterward.”&nbsp_place_holder; under my breath i said, “so the tech of 20+ years and two laboratory animal veternarians would not be so distraught and confused and completely distracted from the fact that i alone am dealing with an ANIMAL’S LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY.&nbsp_place_holder; by myself, i was able to get the pig appropriately anesthetized and hooked up to all the necessary monitoring equipment.&nbsp_place_holder; immediately thereafter, i grabbed a paper towel and sprayed a little windex on it.&nbsp_place_holder; i wiped the anesthesia screen clean and clear and said to the tech and vets, "does this make you happy?”&nbsp_place_holder; response (and i am NOT kidding), “oh great.&nbsp_place_holder; is the dog on the table yet?”&nbsp_place_holder; priorities. &nbsp_place_holder;

post flag football soreness

Saturday, March 08, 2008

every muscle in my body hurts.&nbsp_place_holder; it hurts to blink.

Posted in: Monkeys

no new postings!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i hereby file a complaint against complainthub for failure to post anything new in nearly the past 100 days.&nbsp_place_holder;&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Other

viruses

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i concur with wife on the lack of complaints!&nbsp_place_holder; i’ve had many complaints to share, but felt sorta weird complaining more than the host. :)&nbsp_place_holder; but that won’t stop me now!!&nbsp_place_holder; i have some weird virus that has taken me out hardcore for the past five days and to a lesser extent, the five days before that.&nbsp_place_holder; i can’t run….it’s not that i don’t want to…i just think i’d pass out.&nbsp_place_holder; the primary symptom has been a headcrushing headache that sort of comes and goes.&nbsp_place_holder; everytime i think i might be on the mend, it sets back in.&nbsp_place_holder; i don’t like being down.&nbsp_place_holder; the doc said 10-14 days.&nbsp_place_holder; i’m not used to being down hard more than 3 or 4.&nbsp_place_holder; and now i wonder if i am still sick or just losing motivation to do anything.&nbsp_place_holder; but i’m complaining. so i guess that’s a good start.

Posted in: Life

Imus

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I can’t believe how much attention this stupidity is getting.&nbsp_place_holder; Is Imus an idiot for calling the Rutger’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy-headed ho’s?”&nbsp_place_holder; Definitely.&nbsp_place_holder; Do I think it is important to rake this guy through the coals and allow both Al Sharpton’s coalition and the conservatives to dwell on the importance of this idiocy and expand it to a matter of national import?&nbsp_place_holder; No.&nbsp_place_holder; Imus deserves to be punished by whatever means his company decides (and not by what anyone else says).&nbsp_place_holder; After that, let it go.&nbsp_place_holder; Focus on something of real value.&nbsp_place_holder; Choose Darfur, climate change, the income tax system, or anything that has value.&nbsp_place_holder; Ignore the comments of a has-been radio host who was trying to drum up ratings and aim higher.

Posted in: Politics

Dumbass Major League Baseball

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So I just had to cancel my subscription to MLB.TV… I was paying $15 bucks a month to watch really shotty quality streaming baseball games on my computer. But then I realize that you can’t watch any of the games for teams that you actually live close to, even when they are playing 3,000 miles away!!

Give me a freaking break!… why anyone even signs up for this is beyond me. I guess they think people will pay and just forget to cancel it. Or maybe it’s for all the ass Yankees and Sox Bandwagoners who don’t live within 500 miles of either city. Fucking Fascists! (Can I cuss on here?) (Admin edit: It appears you just did.)

By the way, the MLB.TV product doesn’t really compete with TV. If you have the game on TV, you watch that. There is no reason to freaking block a game because it’s on ESPN. IDIOTS!

Posted in: Economy

cell phone etiquette

Saturday, March 08, 2008

if you’re on a crowded bus during rush hour, please do not use that time to test every single one of your cell phone rings to determine which will be the coolest one to use.&nbsp_place_holder;&nbsp_place_holder;

and i think the same can be said if you’re on an uncrowded bus.&nbsp_place_holder; or metro - crowded or uncrowded.&nbsp_place_holder; in fact, in any public space.&nbsp_place_holder; and at any time, not just rush hour.&nbsp_place_holder;&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Life

complaint about test complaints

Saturday, March 08, 2008

If you don’t have a complaint to make, why do you care if it works or not?

Posted in: Other

Inconsiderate Metro Riders

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So, the wife is into her third trimester now and is clearly visibly pregnant. She rides the metro from Vienna to Farragut West everyday and then of course back in the afternoon. In the morning she always gets a seat because it’s the first stop on the Orange line. In the afternoon of course she has to cram in with a bazillion other people. In the 26 weeks she’s been pregnant there have been less than 5 people who have offered to let her take their seat and all of them have been women. Not a single man has offered her their seat! Are guys today really that inconsiderate that they can’t offer a pregnant woman or elderly person their seat? I find this unbelievable but sadly expected I guess.

Posted in: Life

Bose in-ear headphones - The review

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Awesome sound, especially for only $99 bucks… BUT the effing earbuds keep falling off! No, not out of your ear. When the things aren’t in your ear, the earpiece falls off… continuously. And there’s no way to get new ones. So, once you lose the ones it came with (which is really easy to do unless you only handle your headphones in sealed glass room), you are effed.

This is what I would call a failure of monsterous proportions from Bose. I mean, there is no way that Bose didn’t know that&nbsp_place_holder;their product&nbsp_place_holder;does this. It’s impossible. They knew it, and they released them to the market anyway. Goodbye good brand name, hello newest WalMart brand!!

Oh, and this board is still freaking ugly… fix it you lazy bastard.

Posted in: Other

rolling backpacks

Saturday, March 08, 2008

is your 16" x 12" x 9" backpack really so burdensome that you have to roll it behind you instead of carry it on your back?

Posted in: Other

no more ubuntu posts

Saturday, March 08, 2008

there are far too many already.&nbsp_place_holder; is your readership really interested in ubuntu or wubi?&nbsp_place_holder; i’d rather read about wookiees than wubies.

Posted in: Other

not enough talk of wookies

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I don’t mind the posts about Ubuntu, but I think that there is an alarming shortage of posts about Wookies.&nbsp_place_holder; Shouldn’t we enact some sort of equal air time act for Ubuntu and Wookies?

Posted in: Other

2 driving violations

Saturday, March 08, 2008

On my way to work, I travel about 10 miles on a strech of highway.&nbsp_place_holder; From 5 am - 9 am and again from 3 pm - 7 pm, the outside lane is designated as a carpool lane.&nbsp_place_holder; Allowed vehicles:&nbsp_place_holder; hybrids, motorcycles, and cars with more than one occupant.&nbsp_place_holder; I’m fine with the first two and would only modify that the 3rd condition to allow for cars with 2 licensed drivers (sorry soccer moms).&nbsp_place_holder;

  1. &nbsp_place_holder; On my way to work (around 11 am), I was travelling along in the outer lane.&nbsp_place_holder; Outside of the commuter hours listed above, this lane should then be assumed to be the fast lane.&nbsp_place_holder; If you are driving slowly, move over to the middle lane or the far right lane.&nbsp_place_holder; You are driving slowly if someone is tailgating you and/or your speed is anywhere near 65 mph.&nbsp_place_holder; I come upon an OLD VW BEETLE putzing along at 60 mph in this outside lane.&nbsp_place_holder; Seriously, folks, buy a clue.

2.&nbsp_place_holder; On my way home (around 6:15 pm), a yellow Lotus passed me in that outer lane during the commuter time.&nbsp_place_holder; There was no way there was a passenger.&nbsp_place_holder; I say fine him $1000 / (fuel economy in mpg).&nbsp_place_holder; This makes violators with gas guzzlers pay more for flaunting the law.

&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Driving

stupid woman at improv

Saturday, March 08, 2008

without going into specifics… i feel the need to vent about a particular individual who tried to ruin the night at the improv.&nbsp_place_holder; my advice to anyone out there who’s attending any stand up routine or other live performance, please resist the desire to talk through the entire show.&nbsp_place_holder; i think i speak for the majority when i say, we’re not interested in your running commentary or even less interested in whether you think something the comedian said is “so true!” or “so funny!”.&nbsp_place_holder; we’ll all figure out that you think it’s funny when we hear you laughing. &nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Life

i says

Saturday, March 08, 2008

how can my mother, a stickler for grammar who constantly corrects everyone, possibly think that the past tense of “say” is “says”?&nbsp_place_holder; SAID!!!!!&nbsp_place_holder; I SAID!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in: Family

College football

Saturday, March 08, 2008

&nbsp_place_holder;West Virginia symbolizes everything that is wrong with college football.&nbsp_place_holder; They are playing flag football and winning against legitimate football programs.&nbsp_place_holder; The worst thing that could happen for the BCS would be if West Virginia played any Mike Leach coached team in a bowl game.

&nbsp_place_holder;I will literally cry if WVU wins a national championship, and subsequently earns Pat White a Heisman.&nbsp_place_holder; I’ve never been a bigger Pitt Panthers fan in my life.

And…the Big East is a joke.&nbsp_place_holder; Their automatic bid to the BCS should be stripped for lack of quality teams.&nbsp_place_holder;

Posted in: Other

Bite me, Microsoft

Friday, March 07, 2008

The company I work for recently upgraded Outlook Web Access from “borderline intolerable” to “still pretty bad”. It’s still a piece of junk, light years behind Gmail, but it’s an improvement. Until I tried to save an attachment in Firefox. A coworker sent me this PowerPoint about the mortgage crisis. OWA gives you the option to “View as Web Page”. Cool, I thought. I don’t have to save this file to disk and open it. So I did that. It was too slow. The PowerPoint is 45 pages or something, and the page transition time was getting annoying. So I decided to download it after all. I mean, it’s not like hard drive space is at a premium these days. There’s a little hyperlink that says, “MortgageCrisis.pps(2MB)”. So I clicked it. Firefox will generally handle things like that well - if you click a link to a file type it can’t open itself, it gives you the option to open it with a program you have installed, or save it to disk. That’s fine. Not with the new OWA. It just gives me an error message that this type of attachment has to be saved to disk. This is annoying, but not unexpected. Microsoft has never played well with others. So I right-clicked the file to “Save Link As”. None of this should be shocking to anyone who spends a lot of time online. This is where Microsoft punched me in the face. “Save Link As” attempts to save “attachment.ashx” instead of the PowerPoint. For those who don’t know, .ashx files are idiotic proprietary Microsoft script files for handling HTTP requests. It doesn’t matter if that’s Greek to you. The point here is that, once again, Microsoft has decided that the way everyone transmits data on the internet is wrong, and the way to really serve the needs of internet users is rewrite the rules so that nothing else is compatible. There are agreed-upon standards for transmitting data on the internet. Microsoft repeatedly defies them in order to make competing technologies incompatible with Microsoft products. It’s absolutely unconscionable, and one of the primary reasons I switched to Ubuntu Linux as my home operating system. BTW, “unconscionable” is a totally awesome word. It may be Microsoft’s only redeeming quality that they create so many opportunities for me to use it. Well, only redeeming quality other than Bill Gates' newfound philanthropy. That’s pretty cool, too.

Posted in: complaint , technology , the devil

Target is cool, but . . .

Friday, March 07, 2008

I walked past Columbia Heights' new Target last night on my way to Wonderland. I’ve never seen so many white kids in the neighborhood. It’s like a big magnet. It’s good to see people coming to the new stores, but I’m afraid that people are glossing over the problems that still remain. There has apparently been a big spike in crime this past week - muggings at gunpoint in broad daylight and on the Metro, and Target has serious theft problems. I imagine things will calm down a bit, but spring is coming, and with it the yearly crime spike when it gets nice outside. I hope Target and the rest of DCUSA are prepared.

Florida and Michigan made their beds

Friday, March 07, 2008

It is absolutely absurd that Michigan and Florida are even considering spending $25 million and $10 million, respectively, of taxpayer money to hold new elections. It is unfortunate that Democrats in these two states will not get to contribute to the selection of the nominee this year. But we can’t punish the Democratic party leaders of each state by throwing them in the briar patch at taxpayer expense. The whole reason they knowingly violated the rules was to give their states a louder voice in the election process. They were told they couldn’t move up the primaries, and that they would be punished if they did. They ignored the warnings, and they were punished. If we now let them revote, we’re giving them exactly what they wanted. I’m not sure why the media doesn’t seem to find this absurd. I think Florida and Michigan should send delegates bound by the proportion of delegates already pledged. That is, if Obama has 53% of the delegates from the other states, then he gets 53% of Florida’s and 53% of Michigan’s. That should get someone to the magic number (I think - I haven’t actually looked at the numbers) without giving Florida and Michigan any real influence on the election.

Et Tu, Ohio

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I expect this sort of thing from Texas. I mean, what does “Texas Democrat” even mean? I think it’s like dark matter - something we think might exist, and we’ve seen evidence that it might exist, but no on has really ever seen it. But I expected better out of Ohio. I always figured Ohio was a sensible state. I mean, Cleveland just screams “sensible”. Let me tell you this, Ohio - Hillary doesn’t love you. She used you, like she used New York to get her into this race. She used you to take away some of Obama’s momentum. And now that she’s done it, she’s going to be insufferable for the next few weeks. But no matter. Obama will be our next President, and things will get better.

Changes in Columbia Heights

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Washington Post | A Rapid Renaissance in Columbia Heights

Even within the rush of construction that has swept across the District, Columbia Heights' renaissance is singular, not only because of its scope but because of its locale, a residential neighborhood that is among the region’s most economically and racially diverse.

Sweet. We’re singular. I think they chose that because the connotations of “unique” are too universally positive. “Singular” implies that you could be the only one, but still not that exciting.

Community leaders, said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), envisioned a neighborhood that would serve all residents' dining and retail needs, and include a kaleidoscope-like civic plaza for the working-class families and professionals who make up the neighborhood’s population, as well as the shoppers streaming in from across the area.

Columbia Heights' rebirth is not only about the arrival of bricks and mortar at a crossroads that long struggled to recover from the looting and arson that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. It’s about the blending of cultures and classes.

Nicely done, way to get the MLK Jr. reference in there. It shows the author cares about poor black people.

The new luxury apartments along 14th Street join the neighborhood’s existing stock of subsidized housing, much of it preserved and rehabilitated by officials who feared that the poor would be forced out.

Never mind that other cities have had great success with spreading subsidized housing out all over the place so you don’t create these little clusters surrounded by new condos. If everything is spread out, you have this glaring reminder every day that people in those buildings are poor and people in these buildings are rich. That’s not how you build a diverse, integrated community.

Black residents made up just over half the neighborhood’s population in the 2000 Census, although their share had declined since the previous count while the numbers of Hispanic and white people grew. From 2000 to 2005, home buyers' median income rose from $76,000 to $103,000, according to the Urban Institute .

I’m not sure why you cherry pick home buyers' median income, unless you’re afraid to mention that the overall median income is less than half that.

“Columbia Heights potentially is the manifestation of Dr. King’s vision,” said William Jordan, a resident of more than 20 years. “You have the potential not just for token integration but for a critical mass of old and young, low-income and affluent.” But Jordan questioned whether that spectrum can withstand economic pressures. “Can this last longer than half a generation?” he asked.

No. Not unless you do something about the schools so that the young middle class doesn’t move to the suburbs as soon as they have school-age children.

A few blocks south, in a concrete-paved park at 14th and Girard streets, talk of the neighborhood’s changes can be heard at tables where men play whist and checkers. The park is across from a new condominium building and down the street from where two homicides occurred last year. Graham has secured city funds to renovate the park, a plan that includes installing a fence that would block access at night. Although Graham said a broad spectrum of residents support the design, including park regulars, some say they feel insulted by the District’s attempt to impose control over a spot they consider a second living room, and they see a connection between the fence and all the new development.

This park has a really bad reputation that I don’t think is deserved at all. It happens to be at an intersection where a lot of crime happens, but most of the people who use the park are older, longtime residents. They’re not committing the crimes. But almost every building visible from the park is subsidized housing. Fencing in the park and closing it at night is just going to move the problem down a block or two, and insult the people who’ve been hanging out in that park for years. I love to see positive changes in the neighborhood, but flowery articles that focus on the new money coming in and gloss over the problems under the surface aren’t really helping anyone.

Tequila - the solution to all of life's problems

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Worried the sun is going to explode? Think the terrorists might actually win? Afraid that, by the time we actually get a real President, we might have lost ALL of our civil rights? Worry not. The answer is tequila.

Posted in: funny , life

Amazon recognizes that Linux users like music, too

Monday, March 03, 2008

Linux Downloader for Amazon MP3 Store

Amazon’s launched a Linux-based downloader for its DRM-free MP3 music store – fantastic news! Now if they’d only change the terms-of-service for the store to something sensible like “Don’t do anything illegal with this music.”

Well, this is pretty cool. Now I might actually USE the service. Up to now, you could buy single MP3s on whatever computer you wanted, but to get an album discount, you had to use Windows or Mac. A lot of good news from the music industry lately. I might actually give buying music a try again. I haven’t bought or downloaded any music since I bought the last (disappointing) Cake cd a year or two ago.

Posted in: DRM , linux , music

The co-founder of Netscape on Barack Obama

Monday, March 03, 2008

blog.pmarca.com | An hour and a half with Barack Obama

If you were asking me to write a capsule description of what I would look for in the next President of the United States, that would be it. Having met him and then having watched him for the last 12 months run one of the best-executed and cleanest major presidential campaigns in recent memory, I have no doubt that Senator Obama has the judgment, bearing, intellect, and high ethnical standards to be an outstanding president – completely aside from the movement that has formed around him, and in complete contradition to the silly assertions by both the Clinton and McCain campaigns that he’s somehow not ready.

If you’re an Obama supporter and you’ve ever talked politics with someone who isn’t, you’ve probably heard that he doesn’t have the experience to be President. Marc Andreessen makes the point that running the excellent campaign that Obama has run is a great demonstration of his leadership ability. Obama has a bunch of smart people working for him, getting his message out without stooping to the personal attacks that Clinton and McCain seem to enjoy so much. People talk about how he doesn’t know anything about foreign policy. The guy lived in Indonesia for a couple years as a kid. George Bush probably can’t even spell Indonesia. Oh, wait, was that an immature personal attack? Forget I said that. I think there’s a strange misperception that people from other countries are completely and totally different from people living in the United States, and dealing with Americans will in no way prepare you to talk to anyone from any other country. This is utterly absurd. Sure, cultures are different, and one should be aware of these differences. But it’s not like they’re from a different planet. Find out a bit about a culture, and treat them with respect, and they’re going to respond positively to you. Anyway, I didn’t need convincing that Obama is the best candidate for the job. But others do, and maybe this article will help.

Posted in: election 2008 , politics

Trent Reznor and alternative business models

Monday, March 03, 2008

NIN - Ghosts

Nine Inch Nails presents Ghosts I - IV, a brand new 36 track instrumental collection available right now. Almost two hours of new music composed and recorded over an intense ten week period last fall, Ghosts I - IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain.

New Nine Inch Nails album announced today. I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t get an email, since I am signed up for the mailing list. Luckily, Gizmodo and Techdirt let me know. This is pretty cool. He’s releasing the first nine tracks as free downloads. $5 gets you all 36 downloads, DRM-free. $10 gets you the downloads now, and the cds when they’re released April 1. There are two other options at $75 and $300 that I’m probably not interested in. I’m sure the recording industry is watching this carefully. If this works for Nine Inch Nails, others will try similar things. Radiohead’s “pay what you want” experiment worked well, I think. It reinforces the idea that people are not opposed to paying for music from bands they like. We just don’t like to be treated as criminals just for listening to music. Anyway, I encourage you to download the free tracks. If you don’t like them, no loss. If you do, buy the rest. Think of it as listening to a few tracks at a friend’s house to see if you like the band, and then getting the cd when you find out that the band is awesome. Except in this case, your “friend” is Trent Reznor, and his “house” is NIN.com.

Posted in: DRM , economics , music , nine inch nails

GAAAH! Unwanted mental image!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Swimming Naked When The Tide Goes Out « Jon Taplin’s Blog

What Buffet didn’t say, but I will, is that the Bush-McCain Republican economic policies can qualify as “financial folly” and they are are going to be naked, clinging to each other as the tide rolls out this summer.

Since I’m going to spend the rest of the day with the image of George Bush and John McCain, nude and hugging each other at the beach, seared into my brain, I wanted to make sure that you all are, too. I don’t really know enough about the economy to really speak intelligently about the state of the nation (I know, ignorance has never stopped me before). But I do know that Columbia Heights is feeling the housing market difficulties. There are two large buildings of new condos that have been converted to apartments. One of them, Allegro, converted after taking deposits from many buyers, and is now refunding them. And there have been complaints on the Columbia Heights community forum about home tax assessments going down. A few years ago, it would have been unheard of for a home in the DC metro area to actually lose value. Usually, they say, the DC area is insulated against recession because so much of the money around here comes from the federal government, which isn’t going anywhere. There will always be people here, and there will always be jobs here, even if the economy is terrible. Columbia Heights is probably less insulated because it’s currently “transitional”, and so there is a lot of upheaval and a lot of young people moving in. These young people often have huge mortgages, and probably aren’t tied to their home as much as someone older might be. Without kids and whatnot, it’s much easier for them to pack up and move somewhere cheaper if it gets tough here. And that’s not even looking at the low income residents of Columbia Heights. The median household income here is below $40,000, I believe. Well more than half of the neighborhood isn’t even mentioned when you talk about home sale prices because they don’t make nearly enough money to even consider buying. The wife and I are lucky in that we have some room to cut back if things get much worse. We have some savings, and we’re living within our means (Even though she complains about my credit card bill). Plus we have families to fall back on if we ever got into trouble. But many people aren’t in that situation, and are getting into real trouble. All this to say that, while I would love to see the Bush administration get what it deserves (A 0% approval rating and universal recognition that the last seven-plus years have been an unmitigated disaster), I would rather see the economy improve and people stop losing their homes.

Giving stuff away

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The nature of free

As I tried to explain in the Guardian interview, the problem isn’t that books are given away or that people read books they haven’t paid for. The problem is that the majority of people don’t read for pleasure.

Here is yet another author talking about how giving away books for free is a good thing, and tends to increase sales of other books. John Scalzi talks about this often. So does Charles Stross, and Cory Doctorow. And Techdirt talks about the value of giving away infinite goods to generate interest in scarce ones. I first read Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars shared free online, and then bought some of his other stuff. I first read Stross' Accelerando shared free online, and now preorder his novels before they even come out. And I first read Gaiman when I got Anansi Boys from the library. My long-winded point here is that I have frequently purchased books because I read something the author had shared for free and I liked it. So I sought out more from that author. When someone finally makes a reasonably priced, non-DRMed ebook reader, I’ll do this even more. I have a bunch of free books saved on my hard drive that I haven’t read because I don’t want to sit at the computer to read a novel. Give me a good way to get that book over into the big fluffy chair in the sunroom, and I’ll be thrilled. However, I quoted Gaiman up above for a reason. It is interesting that he says that most people don’t read for pleasure. I don’t know how true that is in general, but I know many of my friends don’t read much or at all. I’ve gotten shocked reactions from people when I tell them that I get books out of the library (Although not so much lately now that I’m driving to work and don’t have an hour on the Metro to read every day). It’s too bad that people don’t read more. I have fond memories of reading while growing up. It was great to not even hear my mom calling me because I was so wrapped up in the book. See, kids, that’s a great excuse for ignoring your mom. Try it sometime. Edit: I should have checked Techdirt before I posted this. They have an article on this very subject up right now. And now Cory Doctorow mentions the very same Gaiman post up on Boing Boing. If I link to a post that links to a post that I already linked to, maybe we can create an infinite loop that creates an vortex in the internet which will spit out the Ghost of Christmas Past to visit the CEO’s of Sony, Time Warner, Random House, Apple, Adobe, and all the other DRM-mongers and show them the error of their ways. Then we’ll all wake up Christmas morning with open source ebook readers under the tree and thousands of free ebooks waiting at Amazon. Do you read for pleasure? Fiction? Non-fiction?

Posted in: economics , free , writing

Battery standardization - probably not going to happen

Friday, February 29, 2008

Green Cell Eco-Concept: One Battery For All

Green Cell is a concept with a single simple idea: use safe, standardized rechargeable batteries in all portable gadgets.

I’ve argued this before - it’s ridiculous that every single portable device uses it’s own battery and charger. Even within the same company they often aren’t compatible. Nokia used to do it with their 5000 series cell phones, but I think they’ve gotten away from it. Anyway, this would be really cool if it happened. I don’t think it will, but it would be cool.

Oops, I broke IE

Friday, February 29, 2008

Oops. I was playing around with CSS last night and never bothered to check the site in Internet Explorer 6. So if you’re using that contemptible piece of junk to view the site, you’re going to see the right sidebar in the wrong place. Unless you’re at work, or somewhere else where you can’t change your browser, you really, really should go get a real browser. I am a huge advocate of Firefox. It is a better browser than IE in almost every way, and it’s free. You should try it. Anyway, I’ll fix the CSS at some point, but it will probably be over the weekend. For now, you’re out of luck.

Posted in: ie sucks , internet , the devil

You WILL like tofu and brussels sprouts

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Caramelized Tofu Recipe - 101 Cookbooks

Here’s how it came together: a quick survey of my kitchen revealed tofu and a cluster of brussels sprouts. There was also a vibrant bouquet of cilantro tucked into the refrigerator door begging to be used. I scanned the cupboards and pulled down a small bag of (already toasted!) pecans and the remnants of a once full bag of my favorite sugar. Garlic? Check.

I know that a lot of people have a very strong reaction to brussels sprouts and tofu. Kind of like my reaction to Hillary Clinton. But the wife LOVES brussels sprouts, and so when I saw this recipe, I tried it out. It’s really excellent. If you don’t enjoy caramelized tofu with pecans, you’re crazy. Or allergic. And not only is it delicious, but it’s also made in only one pan (Two if you cook rice with it, which I recommend) so it’s pretty easy to clean up. Anyway, you should try it. I didn’t bother toasting the pecans this time (I did the first time I made it), and I didn’t notice a difference.

Posted in: cooking , food , health , recipe , vegetarian

I hope my friends in Nashville are involved here

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nashville copyright craziness – success! Rematch on Mar 5 - Boing Boing

Yesterday’s rally in Nashville to stop a new copyright bill that would put the expense of policing the movie industry’s business model onto universities was a success – the bill has been stalled and won’t be reconsidered for ten days.

I have two friends down in Nashville (Well, just outside of Nashville, but close enough). One of them probably knows about this already. In fact, I was sort of expecting a post on the subject. I won’t elaborate on all the reasons why laws like this are absurd - BoingBoing does it pretty regularly, and I don’t really have anything to add. But if you’re in or around Nashville, especially if you are or soon will be a student at a Tennessee college, this matters to you. Don’t let them raise your tuition to support the lazy recording industry that stubbornly refuses to embrace the new business available to them through the internet.

Site Design

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I want to give credit where it’s due for the help I’ve gotten on webdesign and whatnot here. The nice rounded border for the sidebar sections is from Spiffy Corners. More to come - I have to go back and find the tutorials that really helped me get the site up.

Eat Well DC hires new chef - Washington Business Journal -

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eat Well DC hires new chef | Washington Business Journal

Eat Well DC Restaurant Group has hired a new chef to oversee the company’s four D.C. restaurants. Branden Levine, who was formerly chef and owner of The Tavern Restaurant in Heathsville, Va., replaces Sal Del Rosario, who was with the company for 18 months.

This is interesting news. I’ve been to Merkado once, and to The Heights numerous times (How smug are we about being there opening night?). I have no idea what’s going to change with a new chef. The food there is good, although I liked what I had at Merkado better than most of what I’ve had at The Heights. There’s something about the food at The Heights that knocks it down a notch. It’s not that the food is bad, because it isn’t. It just feels like they could tweak some recipes just a little bit and be much better. So, we’ll see what happens.

Getting back into music

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I finally tried out Pandora. If you don’t know, it’s kind of like customized internet radio. You tell them artists you like, and it plays them, plus other stuff it thinks you’ll like. I’m still tweaking the station - at the moment it’s playing nothing but Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. Now, I like both of them, but I’m trying to find some new music, not just listen to stuff I already like. Crap, now it’s playing Ministry. I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong - it seems to think that I’m really angry now. Quick, what’s a happy band that doesn’t suck?

Posted in: music

The dumbest thing I've read today

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Like ‘O7’s No. 1, Ryan has a lot of questions to answer

Brilliant thought, Andrew. Really smart. I agree totally. Entering the combine, Rice was in the late-second-round realm, and I think he moved up some because he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, which was about a tenth of a second faster than scouts thought he’d run. The criticism of him was that he wasn’t fast enough to run past corners, but I think he addressed that at the combine.

I don’t know why I read Peter King - I disagree with him on nearly everything. But I was reading this, and wow, am I glad I did. First, King goes on to say that Matt Ryan will be a good quarterback. I saw him play a few times, and I’ll tell you he’s a mediocre quarterback who played for an overrated BC team in a conference where nearly all the traditionally good teams had off years. I expect he’ll be a tolerable NFL quarterback if he gets on a team with a decent line. Anyway, what’s really ridiculous is how King thinks that Rutgers’ Ray Rice has silenced all critics by running the 40 a tenth of a second faster than everyone thought he would. Does he really think that an extra tenth of a second of speed is going to make that much difference? What’s the margin of error on the timekeeping at the combine? I didn’t see Rice play, although people have told me he’s absurd. Successful college running backs are not nearly as hit-or-miss as quarterbacks, and I expect Rice will do well in the NFL. Of course, that’s all ignoring the strategy that I’d take in the NFL draft, which is to trade away my first round (And maybe second round) pick unless I could get a game-changing player, pick up a dozen offensive and defensive linemen in the third round, and go from there.

Posted in: football , sports , stupid

Where are the nicknames of yesteryear?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bartolo is Worth a Flyer

Final note: a look at Colon’s B-R.com page reveals that he is yet another modern day star without a nickname. How is this possible? The guy is an orca-fat Dominican fireballer who, by all accounts, has a pretty good sense of humor. If he was around in the 50s he would have been given a nickname so early in his career that we all would have forgotten that his name was Bartolo by now.

I think we’ve, sadly, gotten away from good sports figure nicknames. I mean, how many great nicknames can you think of off the top of your head? The best one I can think of is “The Truth”, Paul Pierce, and the only reason I know that is because the wife is a huge Celtics fan. Is it because sportswriters and sports announcers are hired for being loud and “funny” (Hello, Monday Night Football crew) instead of being good at making the fans feel like they are part of the game? As an aside, my post title is a reference to Catch-22, my favorite book. I’ve heard that phrase used before, and I always wondered if Heller created the expression, or if he was making a play on someone else’s words. Turns out he was. So, kudos to you, Francois Villon. Sorry to the wife for failing to include the squiggle under the ‘c’ in ‘Francois’. Okay, back to nicknames. Maybe I just don’t watch enough sports on TV. Or maybe it’s that sports are so national now that it’s hard to use a nickname because no one will understand it. If you’re a local announcer, you know you get a lot of the same fans, over and over, and they know the local team really well. So you can use a nickname and you won’t confuse too many people. But if you’re a football announcer who knows that the audience for this week’s 4PM game has only seen this team once in the past two years, if that, you probably can’t call their defensive tackle by his truly inspired nickname without stopping to explain who it is and where the nickname came from. No one wants that. All this to say that it’s probably ESPN’s fault.

Posted in: baseball , complaint , sports

Test complaint

Monday, February 25, 2008

This is a test complaint

And my next car will be . . .

Monday, February 25, 2008

Volkswagen to Introduce 70 mpg Diesel-Electric Hybrid Golf

Channel 4 writes: “The technology will be used in a number of Volkswagen Group models, including the Jetta saloon [sedan] - which sells in greater numbers in the US than the ‘Rabbit’ - and the Audi A3.”

Okay, I don’t care about the Jetta and the Rabbit, but a 70 MPG Audi A3 is really, really hot. I’ve loved the A3 ever since I first saw one, walking from the train station in London to the house where my sister-in-law and her family were living. We passed an Audi dealer, and every time we went by, there were a couple of A3s sitting out front (Sexy right-hand-drive models, of course). I was thrilled when they decided to bring them over to the States, and now am even more thrilled at the prospect of 70 MPG. Especially if we can get some nice biodiesel stations in the area (I know, fat chance, but I’m dreaming here). Now I just have to convince the wife that 1) We need a new car 2) We can afford an Audi and 3) We can’t afford NOT to get a biodiesel hybrid Audi. Any suggestions?

Posted in: cars , driving , Wind kissing

My first spam!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The new site just got its first spam comments! That’s so exciting. Akismet faithfully caught them, which makes it even better. The post that received the comments is an old one, and the spambot found it through the old URL, so that means that redirection is completely successful.

Posted in: blogging , spam

Redirect is working

Monday, February 25, 2008

You all don’t care, probably, but I got the redirect working. It took a ton of time, but after my 395th tutorial, I finally found something that worked. So if you have an old link to a Complaint Hub blog post, the link should continue to work.

Posted in: blogging , Drupal

Some things good, some things bad

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Well, I can’t figure out the stupid redirect. I’m trying to redirect the old links (http://www.blog.complainthub.com/?p=XXX where XXX is a number) to the new links (http://www.complainthub.com/?q=?p=XXX). I think there are too many .htaccess redirects going on, and I don’t really understand it all. Otherwise, things are good. The friend who said the old layout “made his eyes bleed” has already expressed his approval. Since he picked the colors, he’d better approve. Next on the list is a different project, but then I’ll get back to reimplementing “Your Complaints” so you can complain about stuff, too.

Sorry for the "read more"

Friday, February 22, 2008

I will definitely fix the way that Drupal is cutting off the post and making you click “Read More”. I hate that when I’m reading someone’s blog, and I won’t tolerate it here. I just don’t know how to fix it. But I will. Edit: Fixed. Whew. Thought I was going to have to go back to WordPress for a minute.

Posted in: blogging , complaint , Drupal

Things are a little bit rough so far

Friday, February 22, 2008

So I’m converting to Drupal. I have most of the basics working. I’m not sure my .htaccess redirect from the old site is working. It might just take the server some time to figure it out, I don’t know. I know the RSS feed is updated. If you’ve been reading the feed, it should be basically a transparent change. It’s pretty cool so far. Of course, everything gets messed up when I upgrade to Drupal 6, but they aren’t quite ready for the full release yet (Contrary to what it say on their site). Anyway, it’s late, so I’m probably just about done for now, but keep watching. More cool stuff is coming.

Posted in: Anti complaint , blogging , Drupal

Please let this mean that there are no more Flash websites

Friday, February 22, 2008

Adobe cripples Flash video with DRM - Boing Boing

Amazingly, Adobe seems to have entirely missed the fact that the reason that the Flash video format has taken off is that it’s so fluid, versatile and remixable – not because they sucked up to some Hollysaurs and crippled their technology.

I know there are good uses for Flash (Homestarrunner, Google Analytics, YouTube).  But for every good usage, there are probably 100 bad uses.  If you’ve ever been to a site that takes forever to load, and then when it does, it’s impossible to navigate, it was probably made with Flash.  It’s not that the technology itself is necessarily bad, it’s just that the potential for abuse is so great.

Now, with the introduction of DRM and the inevitable flood of DMCA takedown notices, perhaps we will see the end of Flash.  Not that I think the absence of Flash will prevent bad websites, but maybe it will help.

Posted in: complaint , dmca , Internet

Icepocalypse!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sometime last night, the DC area was hit by the lesser-known Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, freezing rain. I imagine the city has shut down. I didn’t bother to go outside, although we’re supposed to celebrate my dad’s birthday tonight in Annapolis, so I might later. Last time there was “inclement weather”, on Wednesday, I went to pick up the wife and visit my grandmother in Arlington. It was some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen in the city. Things went okay down 14th Street until a block before the circle. Then we stopped. And waited. I forget which circle that is, but it’s just south of 14th and N NW. Traffic in the circle wasn’t moving. About half the cars waiting with me on that final block turned around before we started moving. I got most of the way through the circle before I decided to bail out onto Vermont, which I’ve never done before, but it goes in more or less the same direction. That was a mistake. I ended up turning right on K instead of I St. If you live in the city, you’ve probably driven on K. It’s prety much a disaster all the time. I was almost killed there on the way to my rehearsal dinner, following the then-fiancee and making a right off K without using the stupid access road (Who knew you couldn’t go right from the main road?). The problem I ran into was that you can’t make a left from K during rush hour at all. And I needed to be on I St. I ended up going right on 18th, going around the block and coming back down Connecticut. I probably should have gone right on 20th and came down 19th, but I wasn’t sure I could do that, and I like to do my experimenting with new streets when it’s not 6pm and I’m already late. Looking at Google Maps now, it looks like it would have been fine. Anyway, going left on 19th from I St was a mess, too. Luckily I told my grandmother we’d be later than I originally thought, so we were still on time. All of this is basically to explain that I didn’t go into work today and am planning to do some work from here. I don’t expect anyone will even notice (Except one of our team leads, who reads the blog. Hi, Andy!). Edit: Just noticed that DCist used the same “icepocalypse” in their title as I did. I’m gonna sue. Jerks. I mean, it’s not possible that they came up with the same thing I did. I’m just too clever for that. They must have stolen it.

Posted in: dc , Weather

Mmmm, delicious Consecrator Dopplebock

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bell’s Brewery: Brands

I stopped in Whole Foods to pick up some dinner (Salmon and asparagus, at the wife’s request), and saw they had a Bell’s brand I’d never seen - the Consecrator Dopplebock.  It’s still getting cold in the fridge, so I can’t give a review yet, but Bell’s crappy new website calls it “a well balanced, full bodied beer”.  It turns out it’s only available in February, and not even the whole month.

I feel sorry for my West Coast brothers-in-law, both lovers of Bell’s, who can’t get it locally.

I have to say, it’s more fun to drink a beer with a cool name.  I mean, Consecrator Dopplebock?  That’s awesome.  It’s up there with Rogue Dead Guy Ale (A great beer) and Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre (Another great beer).

Posted in: Anti complaint , Beer

Response from VA Delegate Scott

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thanks very much for your message about needed transportation improvements. The main reason we in No.Va. suffer from inadequate transportation solutions is that we have not increased revenues in 20 years. Again this year, many of us in NoVA tried to obtain support for new sources of funding, but we had little support from House members from other parts of the state. In response to your specific inquiry, I am copying my legislative aide on this email with my request that she contact VDOT about the specific problem you have described—and let you know what she finds out about possible steps that can be taken.

Jim Scott

Posted in: Uncategorized

Response from VA Senator Saslaw

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Senator Saslaw has read your email and forwarded it on to VDOT for comment.

Janet Muldoon

Legislative Aide

Office of Senator Richard Saslaw

Posted in: Uncategorized

Response from Senator Allen

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thank you for your email regarding Leesburg Pike. I appreciate your concerns and value your input on this important matter.

While safety on our roads is one of my highest transportation priorities and I support initiatives aimed at protecting all highway users, this is an issue that falls under the jurisdiction of State and local government. In fact, I feel that this is a matter in which federal involvement would not be appropriate.

As a common-sense Jeffersonian conservative, I strongly believe that the reach of the federal government ought to be limited in nature. States and localities understand the needs of their people better than a remote federal government.

Please be assured that as a citizen of the Commonwealth, I will closely monitor this issue. However, while my staff and I are more than happy to assist you with matters involving federal legislation or agencies, this particular issue should be dealt with at the State level. I encourage you to contact your State and local officials, should you need further assistance in this matter. These officials may be identified through the citizen services page of the Commonwealth of Virginia website.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would like to receive an e-mail newsletter about my initiatives to improve America, please sign up on my website (allen.senate.gov). It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate, and I look forward to working with you to make Virginia and America a better place to live, learn, work and raise a family.

With warm regards, I remain

Sincerely,

Senator George Allen

Posted in: Uncategorized

The Atrocity at Seven Corners

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dear Congressman Moran

I am writing to request that something be done about the Seven Corners intersection Leesburg Pike, Route 50, and various other roads. I’m sure you’re familiar with the intersection, although I’m not sure it’s technically in your district.

I drive through the intersection nearly every weekday after dropping my wife at East Falls Church Metro on my way to my office in Bailey’s Crossroads. And nearly every weekday, someone turns into a lane which I am currently occupying, and to which I have a legal right, and they do not. I have consulted with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and in this particular case, I am entitled to the lane while they are not.

I understand that reworking the entire intersection would be quite costly and would cause impossible traffic delays while work was being done. And while I think that the intersection is an embarrassment to the state of Virginia, a monument to unchecked growth and poor planning, I would be satisfied if there were simply signs clearly identifying which lane a driver should be in to end up in a certain spot.

I am a more observant driver than most people. And if I can’t figure out the proper flow of the intersection after six months of driving through it and a request for clarification from the DMV, then I find it hard to fault other drivers for not knowing which lane to be in.

I truly believe that the only reason there are not daily accidents at the intersection is that there is too much traffic for anyone to build up any speed.

Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to your response.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Im with you on everything but the Mac part

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Conceptual Trends and Current Topics

You could remove many electronic boxes from our home and we would not miss them. But if you took our kitchen computer away, it would hurt. In fact two weeks ago the Mac had to go in for repairs, and we kept turing to its vacant spot for help, only to groan. It felt a little like some feel without their cell phone.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.  I think a small form factor box (Like a Mac Mini, since you all know what that is, but not a Mac, because Macs and I have a mutually antagonistic relationship) with a small touchscreen would be perfect to mount underneath a cabinet in the kitchen.  You could use it for recipes (We constantly bring a laptop into the kitchen for this, but I don’t like my laptop on the counter.).  You could use it, as mentioned in the linked article, for watching movies and YouTube and whatnot while cooking.

The kitchen has always been the most sociable place in the house for me, and probably for lots of others.  I would love someday to build a house centered on the kitchen, where the layout of the house encouraged everyone to congregate in a huge kitchen designed both for cooking and for relaxing.

Now I just have to convince the wife that this is a great idea.

Posted in: Home

Drupal coming along nicely

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I tweaked my strategy to import this blog into Drupal, and it’s working quite well on my local machine.  I had wanted to go with the brand new Drupal 6.0, but it’s not quite finished, and many of the modules that I might want to use haven’t been updated yet.  So I think I’ll go with 5.7, and then upgrade down the road a little when 6.0 is more mature.

My big problem is the permalinks.  I don’t want to have to write individual .htaccess entries for 700-some posts - I can’t imagine that’s a good idea.  So I need a redirect rule, and I don’t know much about writing them.  I think I can figure it out, though.  I think I’m going to have to map http://www.blog.complainthub.com/?p=123 to http://www.complainthub.com/node/123 or something like that.  I don’t think that will be hard, but you never know.  Luckily my webhost uses nice, sensible Apache servers, instead of some hideous abomination.

Anyway, my next challenge will be scraping together a new theme.  I have some ideas, but I need to execute them.  And I need to pick a color scheme.  You can leave suggestions in the comments, which I’ll probably ignore.  But you can leave them.

Posted in: blogging , Drupal , Technology

Saving money through credit cards

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When I finally got fed up with hearing, “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t accept Discover”, and went looking for a new credit card, I started off at Fatwallet, looking for a good deal.  I looked through their list of rewards cards for something with a 2% return on something that I would actually use.  The one that jumped out at me was a Chase/Countrywide card (Even though I hate Chase).  If you, like me, have a mortgage through Countrywide (Which I do, on our rental condo in Falls Church), this card will pay $50 towards that mortgage for every $2500 you spend on the card.

They just applied the first payment to my mortgage, and I was wondering what my long term savings were.  I have 27 years, 8 months left on the loan.  The wife and I intend to continue to rent out the condo as long as we can afford it (And that should get easier from year to year, as rents inevitably go up while the mortgage stays basically the same).  Now, it’s likely that we’ll refinance at some point, although the rate is 5.375%, so it probably won’t be until we can get a 10 or 15 year fixed mortgage instead of the 30 year.

Anyway, I found a mortgage calculator that would tell me my savings based on a one-time extra payment.  I don’t know how accurate it is, but it tells me that my one-time payment of $50 in the 27th month of the loan will save me $177 over the full remainder of the loan.  So my 2% reward turns into a 9% reward (I know, adjust for inflation, present day value vs future value, blah blah blah I dropped my econ major, remember?  It’s not a perfect calculation.).

So that’s pretty awesome.  And it shows how much a small early prepayment can help in a long-term loan.  So, while Chase’s customer service is, in my experience, unbelievably bad, this credit card is a great deal if you have a Countrywide mortgage.  I have no idea whether Bank of America will mess with this or not, but I hope not.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Money

Columbia Heights lost a theater

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DCist: Rorschach Gets A New Home (For Now)

The scrappy theater troupe has been hunting for months for a temporary home to finish out its 2008 season, after being bumped from its former spot at the Sanctuary Theater in Columbia Heights, a converted church space.

That sucks.  I hadn’t been paying a ton of attention to what’s going on at our local theater because the last few times I looked at their website, they had no announced dates for new shows.  And now I find out they’re no longer our local theater.  We went to one show a while back and really enjoyed it, and just hadn’t gotten around to going again.

I hope this works out for them, but it sucks for Columbia Heights.

Posted in: dc , Theater

Someone stole my cherries!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I had some frozen cherries in the freezer at work to eat with my oatmeal in the morning, and someone stole them.  I was looking forward to oatmeal with cherries today.  But they’re gone.  Now I have to eat plain oatmeal.

A coworker tells me they sent out a notice a long time ago that they were going to clean the fridge, but I never saw it.  So I suspect that those jerks threw out a half a package of organic frozen cherries just because there might have been a little bit of cherry juice on the bottom of the freezer.   I hope they’re happy with themselves.

Posted in: complaint , Food

Wow, that was easy

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I did a test import of Complaint Hub into Drupal on my laptop.  It worked nearly flawlessly.  It’s going to be a little tough to keep up the permalinks so that any links to the current site redirect to the new site.  I want to move everything back to complainthub.com (You’ll notice the URL here is blog.complainthub.com), which makes it harder.  And then there are still the posts from my old From Harvard Street blog that are all forwarding from harvardstreet.complainthub.com to blog.complainthub.com.  I suppose I could probably just fix that to go directly to complainthub.com.

The import module for Drupal also does not import multiple Wordpress categories for a single post.  It only imports multiple tags.  Unfortunately for me, I use categories almost exclusively.  There is a way to convert categories to tags, but there’s a big disclaimer about backing up your database first.  I guess I could just do that.

Otherwise, it was pretty awesome.  I still need a nice new theme, but otherwise you may be seeing the changes sooner rather than later.

Posted in: blogging , Technology

The future of Complaint Hub

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I’m thinking about migrating the site from WordPress to Drupal. For many of you, that sentence may make absolutely no sense. If you don’t keep reading, I won’t blame you. If you do stop reading, you should make it up to me by going and buying John Scalzi’s special edition book that he’s auctioning off for charity. Get him to inscribe it to me, with some really inscrutable saying. Bid quickly, as it’s already over $2000.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, I got a little infatuated with Drupal while doing some work for a project that never panned out. It doesn’t do blogging as well as WordPress (At least not right out of the box), but it does a lot of other stuff much better. And I think it would be perfect for a project I’ve been thinking about.

Some of you may know that I’m MUCH better at thinking about projects than actually doing them, and I have a bunch of stuff still in the thinking stage. I have a money-making venture with a friend. I have an online economics course to take with another friend. I have the science fiction novel I’ve been plotting out. I have an 8K in March and a 10K in April. I have my real job. I also have a wife, and a family, and some friends, all of whom require and deserve some of my time.

In any event, the project could be really cool, and a nice side effect is that I’d probably bring back the complaint submission page that people have been missing. And I’ll update the theme of the site - at least one friend insists that his eyes bleed when he reads it.

So that’s in the future.  I don’t know how long it will take to happen, but be prepared.  If you subscribe via RSS, the feed might change, although hopefully FeedBurner will take care of that transparently (To you, at least).  But I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in: blogging , Technology

Back from California

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The wife and I got back yesterday from a super-quick trip to California.  The main purpose of the trip was a baby shower (My first, and I have to say it wasn’t bad - males were forced to go upstairs and drink beer and watch tv while the women played all those ridiculous shower games) in Pasadena.  After driving from LAX to their house, I don’t think I could live out there.  LA is just so enormous and car-centric.  And the Pontiac G6 we rented is a prime example of why Michigan and the American car industry is having such a hard time - it was uncomfortable and unmaneuverable (I’d expect a turning radius like that from an 18-wheeler, not a mid-size sedan).  Although the wife liked having the trip counter and stuff in the middle of the dash, so she could reset it at each turn as we followed Google Maps directions.

Before the baby shower, however, we landed in San Jose and spent the night with a brother-in-law before taking the train up to San Fransisco to stay with another brother-in-law and his girlfriend.  Pictures will be up on Flickr later, but this trip especially has reminded me that I need to take another photography class - I’m less happy with each successive batch of travel photos I take, I think.

We also went to see a show at the SF Museum of Modern Art.  Wow.  It was certainly interesting.  The show was Weimar New York, and it was not quite what I was expecting.  The show is mostly drag, not surprising for the area.  But as the night went on, it was increasingly risque.  After three hours, when we decided to call it quits (It was 1AM at this point, and the wife and I were still more or less on East Coast time), they had arrived at full male and female nudity.  It was an interesting show, although I’m not sure I’d recommend it.  We were talking afterwards, and a brother-in-law remarked that he was unaccustomed to being in the top 5% of the conservative end of the room.  I felt the same way - I think I’m pretty liberal socially, but the crowd in there made me feel like Mike Huckabee.  It was liberal even for San Fransisco.

Anyway, it was a good trip, although much too short.

Posted in: Travel

Email from Flickr

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hi thetejon, Yay! Barack Obama has marked you as a contact too. Here’s a link to Barack Obama’s profile : http://www.flickr.com/people/barackobamadotcom/ And photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/ See ya!

Awesome.

Posted in: Politics

Say no to artificial sweetener

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

‘Diet’ foods weight gain puzzle

 Scientists from Purdue University in the US now believe that a sweet taste followed by no calories may make the body crave extra food.

So, instead of being better for you, artificial sweeteners give you cancer, metabolic syndrome, and make you fatter.   Artificial sweeteners are not actually food.  They are chemicals that trick you into tasting “sweet”.  Every study I’ve ever seen says they’re bad for you.

So, stop eating them.  Just eat less sweets.  You don’t need that diet soda.  You don’t need the little blue and pink packets of powdered crap in your coffee.

I’ve found, as I’ve cut down on drinking soda, that I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to.  I used to LOVE Coke.  Given a choice, I would almost always drink that.  Then I found beer, and that took away the top spot, but Coke was always my top non-alcoholic drink.

I still drink it sometimes - I don’t believe in cutting things that I enjoy out of my life completely just because they aren’t good for me.  If I generally eat healthfully, then one bacon cheeseburger with fries and a large Coke every once in a while isn’t going to kill me.

In any event, you should stop consuming artificial sweeteners.

Posted in: health , Life

It sucks outside

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I just took some trash out to the bin outside, and our driveway is covered in ice.  If you don’t have a compelling reason to be outside, I suggest you stay where you are tonight.  Get your voting done and get home safely.

Posted in: Weather

Voted!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Took five minutes this time. They had run out of Democrat paper ballots and the little blue cards that count how many people have voted for each party or whatever they do. But I voted.

It always seems a little anti-climactic after I vote - such a large event that actually takes just a few presses of a touch-screen. Whatever. I look forward to the results coming in at 8 or so.

The guy who took my little card told me that they had broken the record for most votes in this area already, and the polls are still open for more than three hours.

Posted in: dc , Politics

ITS A REPUBLICAN CONSPIRACY!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

They didn’t open my polling place on time! They know that DC is mostly Democrats, and they’re trying to steal the election again!

I’m just kidding. The polling place at 14th and Columbia NW was just slow to open the doors this morning, and the wife and I decided to come back later. It’s not like they knew this date was coming. I can understand how they might forget that there was an election this year and not get the polling place set up in time. As they say, never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity. Or, in this case, ill-preparedness.

Someone actually came out at 7:10 to put a sign on the door identifying the building as a polling place, and as of the time we left, the doors were still locked - you had to get someone inside to let you in. Not a problem when the polls are late to open and the line is bunching up around the door to escape the cold, but it could be a pain later.

There was one lonely guy outside with a “Demand the Vote” sign. As I’ve said, while I would like a congressional representative or two, I feel that I can’t complain too much about DC’s lack of representation - I knew full well what I was getting into when I moved here.

Update - a neighbor reports on the Columbia Heights neighborhood forum that my polling place was running smoothly at 8:15. So I should have no trouble voting when I get home.

Still nothing all that cool in alternative energy for transportation

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Reality of Greener Transportation « Earth2Tech

Chanaron writes that the growth in hybrids across US car manufacturers, “is based more on customer perception triggered by very clever marketing and communication campaigns than on pure rationale scientific arguments.”

One of my problems with all the new more efficient cars and trucks on the road now is that we haven’t had anything truly revolutionary. The Prius deserves some credit for being the first real success in the industry, but the thing still gets under 50 mpg. If I’m going to drive an automatic-only vehicle that looks as ridiculous as the Prius, it better be getting some really ground-breaking mileage.

That’s a big reason why my technique of using less gas is to walk and take public transportation. Our Mazda 3 gets 23-28 mpg on average, depending on what kind of driving we’re doing.  And it’s still fun to drive.  We try and make up for the difference in fuel efficiency by only using it when we really have to.  My first choice is almost always to take the Metro or bus.  And I expect it to stay that way until there’s a real solution to personal transportation, which doesn’t sound like it’s imminent.

Posted in: Wind kissing

I should have taken a picture

Monday, February 11, 2008

As you know if you were in the DC Metro area last night, it was really, really windy.  So windy, in fact, that the plywood sidewalk cover across the street from the house, erected by the construction company to protect pedestrians, blew over into the street.  Luckily, there’s a fire hydrant there, and it’s the side of the street where you can’t park during rush hour, so only one car was hit with debris.  Well, lucky if that wasn’t your car, I guess.  I mean it was lucky that there weren’t more cars parked there.

The police came, and spent an hour or so driving past, and then backing up (the wrong way down our one-way street), and generally making a nuisance of themselves.  Then they put up some crime scene tape and tore off down the street.

As of 7AM this morning, the car with a huge pile of plywood on top of it is due a parking ticket.  It may be hard to place the ticket on the car, as the front end is entirely covered.  But I fully expect DC’s parking enforcement to try anyway.

Posted in: dc , parking , Weather

I cant believe they said that

Monday, February 11, 2008

Techdirt: Yahoo Now Thinks AOL Will Be A Savior?

Then, late Sunday a new rumor arose: Yahoo! might try to keep Microsoft away by merging with AOL. That seems sort of like trying to keep a wild animal from eating you by covering yourself with feces. It might make awful sense for about a second, but it’s just a bad, bad idea. First, it’s unlikely to work – and, second, it’s just pathetic.

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at an article on Techdirt.  Comparing a merger with AOL to covering yourself in feces?  Do they have a new intern writing articles?  Wow.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great analogy, and really funny, but totally not what I expect from Techdirt.

I don’t really care what happens to Yahoo.  My only request is that they make sure that someone with a soul gets control of Flickr.  That is the only part of Yahoo that I care at all about.  When Yahoo bought them, I was afraid that Flickr would be ruined, but Yahoo has pretty much left the site alone.  There is a really good community there (Slightly obsessed with half-naked women, but isn’t that why most people pick up a camera anyway?), and it’s one of the only things online where I actually pay for the “pro” version.

Anyway, I hope Yahoo finds a buyer and everything works out.  I doubt they’ll ever catch Google, but they can at least keep nipping at Google’s heels, keep them from getting soft (And putting out a product like Windows Vista).

Posted in: Internet

Obama is down with Creative Commons

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I was poking around on one of my favorite websites, Flickr, and found that my favorite presidential candidate not only has an account, but shares all his photos with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.

For all of you internet communist Techdirt-fanatic geeks (like me) who believe that non-scarce resources (like photos and MP3s) should be free (And there is extensive economic theory that reinforces this), this is awesome.

Not that I needed another reason to vote for the guy - he’s the only one running who I trust with my country, even if I don’t agree with him on a lot of the issues.  But if I were looking for more reasons, this would be one of them.

Now I just have to figure out a non-commercial use for one of his photos so I can take advantage of the license.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Politics

Diet soda - not just for cancer anymore

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Symptoms: Metabolic Syndrome Is Tied to Diet Soda - New York Times via Serious Eats

Researchers have found a correlation between drinking diet soda and metabolic syndrome — the collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes that include abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and blood glucose levels — and elevated blood pressure.

I hate diet soda. Not only does it taste terrible, but it’s really bad for you. I’ve cut out most of the soda from my diet. And the less I drink, the less I enjoy it. So I guess that’s good. But I always drink the regular stuff. I’d rather high-fructose corn syrup than some carcinogenic artificial sweetener.

Posted in: Complaint , complaint , health

I dont know what SalesGenie is thinking

Thursday, February 07, 2008

An Ad With Talking Pandas, Maybe, but Not With Chinese Accents - New York Times via Consumerist shared in Google Reader by Mike

Still, “if I offended anybody,” Mr. Gupta said, “believe me, I apologize.”

That is NOT an apology. You DID offend people, and by not acknowledging that you did, you are not apologizing.

Even more ridiculous?

Mr. Gupta said he planned to keep running the other Salesgenie commercial, featuring an animated salesman named Ramesh who speaks with an Indian or other South Asian accent.

The reason, Mr. Gupta said, was that “more people seem upset about the pandas than Ramesh.”

So, let’s summarize. These clowns made two commercials based on caricatures of ethnic groups. But people only really complained about one. So, they issued a fake apology and kept running the one that people didn’t really seem to mind.

I’m not sure what this says about American feelings towards people who are “Indian or … South Asian”. Are we still mad about outsourcing and blame anyone with that kind of accent? That’s kind of sad. In some sense I’m surprised we aren’t more mad at the Chinese, since the ‘toys with lead’ incident is more recent than the explosion of outsourcing. But I guess some people are still serving “freedom fries”, so who knows what grudges the American public will hold on to.

My real problem here is SalesGenie’s response. Anyone can say or do something offensive - it could be accidental, or poor judgment, or whatever. It happens. The real judge of character is what you do to fix it. The very first thing you do is you stop whatever you did which was offensive. They did half of that. The next thing you do is make a sincere apology. They didn’t do that. Finally, you take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t know if they’ve done this or not, and I’m not really inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Posted in: Advertising , complaint

BP may be getting less green

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

BP’s Profits Lag Behind its Oil Peers « Earth2Tech

And while BP has made suggestions that it’s been moving away from the company’s renewable energy division, weaker profits could mean an even paler shade of green for BP.

Well, that sucks. I go to BP whenever possible because of their reputation on environmental issues. Pretty disappointing to see that their competitors, who seem to care very little about the environment, are making record profits again.

Note: I changed the title of this post from “BP maybe …” to “BP may be”. I’m not sure that the first choice was actually incorrect, but I do think that this way is better. Your views may differ, and feel free to correct me if you want. I may or may not listen to you.

Posted in: complaint , Wind kissing

Welcome to five years ago

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency - finally with RSS! While they offer a title-only feed, which I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen, at least they’re making progress.

I guess they want you to come to the site and see the ads for their various books and subscriptions and such, but it still seems very odd not to at least offer a teaser in addition to the title.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Internet

A nice bit of bipartisanship

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Many of the blogs I read regularly posted something yesterday, encouraging those who live in states that voted yesterday to get out and vote.  And not one said, “vote for my candidate”.  Many of them previously had mentioned who they were supporting, but the message yesterday was simply to vote.

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see so many saying that it is not important that you vote the way I do, but it is very important that you vote.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Politics

I HATE ELEVATORS

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I just spent the last 15 minutes stuck in an elevator. This is the second time I’ve been stuck in an elevator in this stupid building.

I went down to G2, where Target is, so I could pick up a few things.  I took them back down (via the stairs) to G3 and put them in the trunk.  Then I got on the elevator to go back up to my floor, and nothing happened.  So I used the emergency call box, and some nice woman on the other end asked me to press some buttons, which did nothing.  So she called the building maintenance people, and they came pretty quickly and opened the door.  I suspect I could have done it myself - I pried the door open a little bit without too much difficulty.  But I’ve seen Resident Evil.  I’m not messing with an elevator unless I don’t think someone is going to come get me.

This wouldn’t be a problem if you could use the stairs.  You can walk freely on the stairs between G3 and G1.  You can enter the stairwell from any floor, but you can only exit the stairs on one side at the lobby, and on the other through G1-3.  You can’t go from G1 to the lobby.  It’s ridiculous.  I would walk most of the time if I could, and I do, when I’m going down.  But going up you can’t walk.

I hate this building.  And all elevators.

Posted in: complaint , Elevators

Almost forgot the good news

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

DC has decided to allow me to vote in the primary! I got my voter registration card last week. So while we don’t get to vote today on Super Happy Fun Awesome Tuesday, we do plan to watch the results come in over tacos at Tonic.

If you live in a state that votes today, you should be voting. I know you may not like any of the candidates. That’s okay. Vote anyway. People died so you could vote. If you don’t vote, you CAN NOT complain about the government. And if you can’t complain, you’re not really living, are you?

As I’ve mentioned, I’m supporting Obama. The more I hear about him, the more I like him. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he wants to do - some of his fiscal policies are a little too liberal for me, and I don’t totally agree with some of the things he’s said about Iraq (I don’t care what you think about whether we should have gone in there, the fact is that we did, we’ve left a huge mess, and I don’t think we can get out now, before we help them get their country back together).

But in a broader sense, I love what he stands for. He wants change, to get away from the Clinton-Bush dynasty and reintroduce some bipartisan cooperation to do what’s right for the country, not the party.

People knock him for his lack of experience. I’ve thought a lot about why that doesn’t bother me, and I think it’s because we all know he won’t be alone. It’s not like he’d take office, and the entire rest of the executive branch will step back and watch him flounder with foreign policy. They aren’t going to just stick him on a plane to Iran and say, “Hey, good luck, come back when you’ve brokered peace!”. The guy will have advisers.  Some of them will have extensive experience in the areas in which Obama has little.  This is not unusual.  It just doesn’t make a good sound bite.

Perhaps my biggest problem with Bush has been that he is amazingly stubborn. It is always his way or nothing, and he has always maintained that he is always right, and we should always do what he says.  This sense of personal infallibility, more than any one choice or action, is why he’s made such a mess of things.  He has always stubbornly refused to admit he is wrong, or that anyone else could be right.  This is not a politician.  This is a dictator.

So, go out and vote.  Totally ignore everything else I’ve said if you want, but please vote.

Posted in: dc , Politics

I should just quit

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nothing ever happens in sports the way I think it will, or think it should.  I didn’t really want the Patriots to win, but I would only root for the Giants if they were playing the Cowboys, and even then it’s not a guarantee.

And giving the MVP award to Eli was just stupid.  He had a bad game, then a good fourth quarter, assisted in large part by an absolutely spectacular catch by David Tyree.  But the difference in this game was the Giants D-Line, and I would have given the MVP to Justin Tuck, with his five tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.

The Patriots offensive line, great all season, looked terrible yesterday.  And thus it follows that Tom Brady looked terrible, which as usual will remind no one how dependent a quarterback is on his offensive line.

Anyway, I can’t wait for the next few months of Eli Manning talk.  That’s going to be awesome.  At least Shockey was hurt.  That’s the one bright spot here - the Giants went on their playoff run without that clown.

Posted in: complaint , sports

Two wrongs dont make a right

Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft Bids $44.6 Billion for Yahoo - washingtonpost.com

Microsoft Corp. has offered to buy struggling Internet search provider Yahoo for $44.6 billion, a merger that would combine two of the technology world’s most well-known names into a potentially potent competitor for Google in the lucrative Web search and advertising market.

I’m not sure I see the point here.  Sure, Microsoft (or anyone else, really) would love Yahoo’s traffic.  But unless they’ve got some great idea for the next step, that’s a pretty steep price for a bunch of pageviews that could go away at any moment.

Neither Microsoft nor Yahoo have shown they can compete with Google, and since it’s so easy to switch from one to the other, simply combining users isn’t going to do it, either.  Do they think that, by joining forces, two companies that don’t know how to compete in the space are going to suddenly find themselves swamped with good ideas?  Good luck with that.

Maybe Microsoft should go back to building operating systems.  If Vista is the best they could do, they don’t seem to be putting enough resources into that department.

Posted in: Technology

Proof of divine intervention

Friday, February 01, 2008

Writing: Hone Your Craft with Free Online Writing Courses

Web learning site Education Portal points to 10 universities (and semi-universities) that offer free online writing courses.

I was just reading How to Use Reading to Become a Better Writer this morning and thinking about writing. As I’ve mentioned before, I often get inspired to write when I read something that I really like.  And that desire to write is intense, although apparently not intense enough to get me to do much of anything about it.

So I was thinking about how I should make more of an effort to write, and wondering how I can get over this hump where I can start but I can’t seem to finish, and then I came across the Lifehacker link above.  I know the old expression about everything looking like a nail when all you have is a hammer, but to be thinking about how to become a better writer and then to see “free online writing courses” seems to go beyond coincidence.

And it may not be divine intervention.  Maybe it’s my paternal grandmother, who passed away last year.  She always encouraged me to write more, ever since she read the story I wrote when I was very little about Indians (Yes, Native Americans, I know, but I’m about 1/32 Wampanoag, so it’s okay).  She loved that I kept using the word “lurking”.  I’m trying to think how old I was when I wrote it.  I’m pretty sure it must have been before my brother was born, because I think the story was about a boy and his little sister, and I suspect there would have been a baby in the story if my brother had been born yet.  So that would have made me about four.  That seems awfully young.  Maybe my mom will comment and clarify my age.

Anyway, I think Granny might be out there somewhere, gently leading me towards writing.  She always believed in reincarnation, though, so maybe not.  Maybe she left a note on her way out of the Reincarnation Processing Center in the sky for someone to give me a little push.

I’m going to go look at those online courses today.  I still have to get started on the microeconomics course from MIT that a friend and I are doing, and I have about 12 other things I’ve been meaning to do, but hopefully now that I’ve mentioned this here, it will motivate me to get going.

Posted in: Writing

Bye, loser

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards quits!

 He lost Iowa’s caucuses, came third in New Hampshire, admitted getting his “butt kicked” in Nevada and came third in his native South Carolina.

Hooray!  John Edwards finally woke up to the fact that America doesn’t want him to be President!  He should have done it a while ago, and he definitely should have done it when he failed to win his home state, but whatever.  He’s out now, and we can concentrate on the two people who actually do have a chance of winning.

Here’s hoping he follows Ted Kennedy and endorses Obama.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Politics

Vector Security summary

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Something like 25% of my traffic here from Google searches is people looking up Vector Security.  This post is the first Google result you get when searching for them that is not vectorysecurity.com.  And I’m getting more and more comments on that post about people with Vector experiences.  So I figured I’d stick my posts about them in a category, and summarize my experience. First, I have had NO problems with them.  Everything they said they’d do, they’ve done.  No one has tried to break into the house since we installed the system, we’ve had no false alarms, and no billing problems.  We don’t have a CO2 detector, so I can’t offer an opinion there. For those of you who’ve had problems with them, I will say it again - if they don’t fix the problem, threaten to contact the Better Business Bureau.  If they still won’t fix the problem, actually contact the BBB.  That’s what it’s there for, and it actually does work. Now, I don’t mean that you should do this every time there’s a little problem.  But if you have a serious issue that they (Or any company, really) won’t resolve after you’ve spoken politely to them about your problem, then it’s very likely that the BBB will help you out. Anyway, I hope I don’t have to disable comments on this post.  I am NOT here blogging in order to give anyone who wants it a soapbox to yell about bad customer service experiences.  But I don’t like to moderate non-spam comments (And haven’t had to, knock on wood), so please be reasonable so I don’t have to start.

Posted in: Vector Security

Lots of rumors, and theyre all bad

Monday, January 28, 2008

My two favorite sports teams, the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles, are both looking to shoot themselves in the foot.

First we have the Washington coaching search.  There are rumors they want USC’s Pete Carroll, a doubly-confirmed NFL failure.  Don’t people realize that coaching in the NFL is different from coaching in college?  Didn’t Snyder learn anything from Steve Spurrier?  Carroll is a very good college coach.  He was a very bad NFL coach.  He would be a disaster in Washington, although that would go right along with Dan Snyder’s past history.  But Snyder has fired the coordinators, probably pissed off the team, and will likely end up with another flashy failure at head coach.

And the Orioles.  I get that they’re rebuilding.  It’s come at least five years too late, but I get it, and I’m thankful for it.  But why would you trade Bedard?  He’s 28.  He could be the ace of the staff for 5-7 years, maybe more.  He is the ONLY player on the team that you absolutely must keep, as far as I’m concerned.  And they want to make a deal with the Mariners that centers around a young outfielder with moderate power (His home runs were up in 2007 in the minors, but his doubles were down, and he doesn’t get on base much)?

I’ll grant you that George Sherrill, the reliever said to be part of the deal, had a disgusting season last year (0.99 WHIP, park-adjusted ERA+ of 183, K to BB of over 3).  But Bedard is, by far, the best player on the Orioles.  Why would you give him up?  Do you WANT Seattle to win their division this year?  Is that your goal?  Is Angelos getting a cut of their playoff revenues?

I think Angelos and Snyder want me to move to Boston.  That’s the only logical explanation.

Can we keep doing this, please?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Deal Spotlights Rarity Of Bipartisan Action - washingtonpost.com

The agreement on a stimulus package represented the first time since divided government returned to Washington a year ago that the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue sheathed their swords and came together on a major initiative without any bloodletting first.

Is it just me, or did you think this was how it was supposed to work, all the time?  It shouldn’t take the worst economic crisis in years to get politicians to do what we elected them to do.

This is one of the reasons I won’t affiliate with a party anymore.  Politics is not supposed to be about advancing your cause and the cause of your party.  It’s supposed to be about serving the people.  I think someone wrote that down somewhere a long time ago.  And that’s why I’m supporting Obama - he’s the only one running who I’ve ever even heard of saying something remotely related to bipartisanship.

And I think this is good for the country.  Even if the rebates don’t fix the economy (And I don’t think they will), I think it will help confidence a little bit to see the government come together and get something done quickly.  If the Senate blocks this, which the Post suggests they might, we should fire all of them.

Dear Dan Snyder

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ESPN - Zorn top candidate as O coordinator but no Fassel deal yet - NFL

Snyder may take a few days to consider his options. If he decides not to wait until after the Super Bowl to expand his list of candidates, the job could very well go to Fassel, who compiled a 60-56-1 record in seven seasons as the Giants' head coach (1997-2003), and who led the club to a Super Bowl XXXV appearance. Fassel, who most recently served as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator before being dismissed from that job midway through the 2006 season, was also a head coach candidate in Washington in 2004 before Snyder coaxed Gibbs out of retirement.

Please don’t hire Jim Fassel to coach the Redskins.  I’ve gone on record time and again as saying that I don’t want failed head coach Gregg Williams to be our head coach, but he would be infinitely preferable to Fassel.  Williams actually seems to be getting the hang of this whole “defensive playcalling” thing lately.  He hasn’t been big-blitzing on third down and getting burned so much.  The Redskins don’t miss tackles like they did a few years ago.  It’s taken him a while, but the defense has actually looked pretty good lately.  Which would be a dumb time to change coordinators.

However, I would greatly prefer him to a guy who may have taken the Giants to a Super Bowl (In which they were blown out), but barely compiled a record above .500, and apparently totally lost control of his team in the season before the Giants fired him.

Why would you want that guy to coach your team?  If he had a long and illustrious career, and one really bad season that led to his firing, I’d say go ahead and give him another chance.  But that is clearly not the case with Fassel.  Let some other team give him his second shot.  He’ll fail there, and Snyder will save a few million dollars.

I don’t understand why NFL teams keep going back to coaches who fail.  If a guy is merely average at his job, and then does such a bad job one year that everyone around him hates him, why in the world would you hire him to do the same thing for you?  The Ravens had the right idea when they hired him at a lower level (Offensive coordinator), but then they fired him, too, because he wasn’t very good at that, either.  At this point, I would consider hiring him to fetch coffee for the real head coach, but that’s about it.

Now, I know that it’s really hard to be a Ravens offensive coordinator - they’ve never had a quarterback in the history of the franchise.  But when your entire job is to make the offense better, and you can’t do it, you should not be getting promoted.

Anyway, I hope we get someone else.  Someone who doesn’t have such a track record of failure would be great.  And I don’t much care for bringing in anyone from the Seahawks to coach our offense.  Although I suppose that anyone who can get a winning offense out of Hasslesuck probably knows a little bit about football.

Posted in: complaint , sports

The Duck and the Dunderhead

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rebate checks floated as way to boost economy - CNN.com

“We’ve got mayors from both political parties here. We didn’t have a political discussion. We had a discussion on what’s best for America, particularly given the economic uncertainty we face,” Bush said. “I talked to them about my desire to work with the Congress to get a stimulus package passed, one that’s going to be robust enough to affect the economy, simple enough for people to understand and efficient enough to have an impact.”

Pelosi on Tuesday also said Congress and the president agree that movement on the plan is “urgent” and must be approached “in a bipartisan way,” but the particulars of the plan are not yet settled.

When you have duck-like Nancy Pelosi and our fearless leader both agreeing that we need a quick solution to benefit the country rather than their respective parties, it might be time to start trading in all your liquid assets for something more likely to hold its value. Like a couple of barrels of crude oil. Frankly, I don’t think that tax rebates are really the answer. Consumer confidence is way down, and a couple hundred extra dollars aren’t going to bring that back. I’m too young to know what it was like in the ‘70s and '80s when the economy was really bad, so I can’t compare it. But this is the most worried about the economy I’ve ever been, and I think I’m pretty financially secure. I don’t even want to see my next 401K statement. But I realize that I’m better off than a huge number of people out there, and some of them are really going to struggle if things get as bad as a lot of smart people are predicting. Anyway, I hope that Congress and the President follow up on their quick fixes with some real long-term ideas. Otherwise, it could be a long couple of years.

Posted in: Politics

You suck, Microsoft

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Featured Windows Download: Make Documents Readable Anywhere with Docx2Rtf

The latest editions of Microsoft Office might have made some welcome interface and functionality improvements, but the newer .docx file formats can leave your co-workers (and your other computers) struggling to open its files.

I guess my stubborn refusal to run Vista longer than it took to download and burn the Ubuntu 7.1 cd meant that I missed Microsoft’s new file format, .docx.  The above article on Lifehacker about how to deal with it was the first I’d heard of this wonderful, wonderful, super-awesome, customer-focused idea.  I mean, the people who use Office have been just clamoring for a new file format to meet their needs.  Now that most MS Office alternatives can deal pretty well with .doc files, of course we need a new format to once again throw interoperability out the window.

And of course, since so many people use Windows and MS Office, it will become the new standard.  And then the open source community will toil away and update all the software to deal with .docx.  And then Microsoft will undoubtedly come out with some other format, and we’ll start all over again.  I don’t know how this benefits anyone but Microsoft.  It certainly doesn’t help consumers.

Posted in: complaint , The Devil

Ill take 8 of these, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dutch firm launches phone with fold-away screen | Tech&Sci | Technology | Reuters.com via Gizmodo.

“You get the large display of e-reading, the super battery life of e-reading, and the high-end connectivity … and the form factor and weight of a mobile phone,” said Karl McGoldrick, chief executive of the venture capital-funded firm, in which Philips still has a 25 percent stake.

In what hopefully will be an unpleasant development for Amazon’s locked up Kindle, a company spun off of Phillips is planning to bring a phone to market in 2008 that uses fold out e-paper.  This is pretty awesome.  If they release it in the States around the time that Verizon opens up their network, this could change the whole marketplace for mobile devices.

Or it could be another expensive toy that the wife tells me not to buy.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Gadgets

Ill take 8, thanks

Friday, January 18, 2008

PCs: Ripple-Mini PC Packs an Awful Lot of Computing into $132

The device, which will retail for a shockingly low €90 ($132), will pack in an Intel Celeron M215 (1.33GHz), 1GB RAM, SiS 662 North Bridge and SiS 964L South Bridge, all in a dinky 20x300x220mm, Mac mini-esque case.

Why can’t we have these over here?  I’d gladly pay $132 for this thing.  In fact, I’d put one in every room of the house.  I’d add a little 7" touchscreen and mount one under the cabinets in the kitchen and use it for recipes.  I’d put one in the bathroom just to annoy the wife.  I’d even buy one for the cat.

I can’t wait until computers like this hit that magical price point where it’s not longer a big purchase that you think about for a while, but a “Hey, can you pick up another computer on your way home from work today?” kind of purchase.

Posted in: Gadgets

I love statistics

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Analysis: Romney takes Michigan gold as S.C. fight heats up - CNN.com

Not surprisingly, the economy was by far the most important issue to Michigan voters. For Romney’s chief competitor in the Michigan primary, John McCain, that was bad news. Only three in 10 voters who cited economic concerns as their top priority gave their votes to McCain; almost four in 10 went for Romney.

In other words, thirty-some percent who thought the economy was the most important thing voted for Romney, which was great.  And thirty-some percent who thought the economy was the most important thing voted for McCain, which was a disaster.  Good use of vague numbers, CNN.

It’s interesting that Rudy has skipped all of these states and just hung out in Florida.  Is this a common tactic that I just haven’t heard about?  Each Presidential election, I pay more attention than the last, and this is the first time I’ve really followed the primaries, so maybe this is all normal and I just haven’t noticed.

I keep hearing the same thing about McCain from Democrats - while he’s the least offensive of the Republican candidates in the eyes of most Democrats, he’s also seen as the most likely to beat whatever Democrat nominee he would face.  So it’s tough to know who to root for.

At least it’s an interesting race.  Hillary and Obama are sniping at each other over some ridiculous, trivial crap.  There hasn’t been a clear frontrunner on either side (I refuse to admit that Hillary is the clear frontrunner).  Lots of people who should have dropped out are sticking around (I’m looking at you, Edwards.  You’d better get 60% of South Carolina.  Actually, don’t, because I want you to be Obama’s VP.).

Anyway, exciting times.  And the city of DC still can’t seem to work out my voter registration.  Here I was, thinking I was registered through the DMV, and apparently that was all a lie.

Posted in: Statistics

Dear Gentleman crossing H St NW

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dear Sir,

I was in the maroon hatchback, waiting to turn right on H from 18th this evening as you walked through the crosswalk, with the light, as pedestrians are permitted to do.  Some jackass behind me honked, and you thought it was me.  It was not.  I know you waved at me as if to say, “Hey, jerk, I have the right of way."  And it’s true that you did, and I was respecting it.  Had I honked at you, you would have had every right to give me a rude gesture or a nasty look, as I would have deserved it.

But it wasn’t me who honked.  I think it was the RAV4 behind me, although I’m not sure what he was complaining about.

In any event, I apologize.  The guy behind me was a jerk.

Sincerely, Complaint Hub

I seriously feel a little bad.  I guess I shouldn’t.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  The guy I don’t know and will never see again, who’s probably already forgotten this happened, just thought I did.  But I do try to be courteous to pedestrians, beyond simply yielding when they have the right of way.  Except jaywalkers.  Jaywalkers are on their own.  I’m not saying don’t do it, because I certainly do.  I’m just saying that you’re on your own.

Posted in: Cars , complaint , dc

Dear Dallas Fans

Monday, January 14, 2008

Look, you have it all wrong. The problem with Tony Romo isn’t Jessica Simpson. It’s December.

In two seasons, Romo has a completion percentage of 64% and a rating of 95. For reference, Joe Montana’s career numbers are 63% and 92. So, Romo’s off to a good start. He’s thrown 57 touchdowns to only 33 interception. His career record is 20-10 (All numbers include his two playoff games).

But then look at him in December. He’s 4-7. 11 touchdowns vs 14 interceptions. His completion percentage is 59% and his rating is 74. He has 31 fumbles in his career, 13 in 11 December games.  The numbers look even worse if you take out two games against Detroit, not exactly the shining model of a good football team.

The numbers are even more disparate if you remove December from his totals (Shocking, I know, that basic mathematics still apply to the quarterback of the Cowboys.  Someone tell Jerry Jones).  67% completion percentage outside of December, 46 touchdowns to 19 interceptions, a 16-3 record, and a 108 rating.  Those are Hall of Fame numbers (Assuming they continue, of course).    But ask Dan Marino how people react when you can’t win in the playoffs.  Or ask Peyton Manning two years ago.

Romo seems like a nice guy, and he’s certainly had some early-season success.  But he needs to learn how to play in December.

If you want to hate Jessica Simpson because she’s pretty, famous, and really dumb, then go ahead and hate her if it makes you feel better. But blame Romo’s playoff misery on something else, because it’s not her fault.

Again, for reference, you want to know someone with a career passer rating of 74?  Gus Frerotte.  Jon Kitna’s career rating is 79.  Charlie Batch’s is 78.

Do you hear me, John Madden?  Romo may go on to have a long and brilliant career, but before you anoint him the heir to your man-crush on Brett Favre, let’s see him win a meaningful game in December.

Posted in: Statistics

Whats wrong here?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Techdirt: Mitch Kapor Finally Pulls The Plug On Chandler

Every once in a while there would be an update, but many other projects seemed to make a lot more progress than Chandler ever did. So it’s not much of a surprise to hear that Mitch Kapor has finally bailed on Chandler, and that the foundation behind it is going to scale back its efforts.

BoingBoing: Chandler: Free, open calendar with awesome sharing

It’s still very early beta, and there’s a lot of polish missing from the current builds, but in the short time I’ve been using it, I’ve seen it make massive improvements. I’m really looking forward to future releases – give it a whirl, send ‘em some feedback, or hack some code.

These two articles were posted about five hours apart.  While they aren’t quite totally mutually exclusive, it’s funny to see BoingBoing singing the praises of this project just as Techdirt announces that the founder is bailing.

Posted in: Funny

This makes me want to be a scientist

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hubble finds double Einstein ring via Uncertain Principles

More than just a novelty, a very rare phenomenon found with the Hubble Space Telescope can offer insight into dark matter, dark energy, the nature of distant galaxies, and even the curvature of the Universe.

I read stuff like this, and it makes me want to go back to school and research stuff.  Not that I know anything at all about dark matter and the nature of the Universe.  But this is just cool.  I don’t get nearly enough of that at work.

It makes me feel very small, though, thinking about distant galaxies.  It reminds us that the Universe is kinda big, and we’re relatively pretty friggin' tiny.

Posted in: Space

Youre missing the point

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ron Paul 90s newsletters rant against blacks, gays - CNN.com

A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks – including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.”

I read enough of the article to see that Paul denies writing this stuff.  I’m not sure I believe him, but whatever.  This doesn’t change his chances of winning - he never had a chance of winning.  But this really hurts everyone.  We need a legitimate third party candidate to remind everyone that it doesn’t have to be a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, that not everyone falls neatly into one of these two parties.

I’m really disappointed that Paul is turning out to be even crazier than everyone thought.  He’d done a great job of generating buzz and support as a guy who isn’t really a Republican, regardless of where he’s running.  But now he’s a racist, anti-semitic homophobe, and he’s probably undone a lot of the good he did.

I wasn’t going to vote for him.  But I was pulling for him to have a good showing to pave the way for others down the road.  This could have been a fantastic election - the first African-American candidate with a chance, the first woman with a chance, and the first non-Democrat/Republican in some years to get a non-trivial amount of votes.  And we still have the first two.  Even if Obama and Hillary both lose, it will be easier for the next candidate who isn’t a white male, and that’s good for the country.

As I told a friend, we had Perot, and then Paul.  We’ve had some others who aren’t even as viable as those two clown.  Maybe by 2025 or so, we can get a third party candidate who is actually electable.

Posted in: complaint , Politics

The media didnt predict for a week that Lazarus would return

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Dramatic Second Act for the Senator From Arizona - washingtonpost.com

Now even his supporters are wondering whether he can take his adrenaline-fueled campaign national, a transformation he could not make eight years ago.

Did someone very important in the world of mainstream news decree that everyone must use dumb words to describe McCain?  During the New Hampshire primaries, he was called “the Republican Obama”, “Lazarus”, “the Eschaton” (Although I think that one was tongue-in-cheek"), and probably a bunch of other stuff I didn’t notice because his followers were too busy chanting “Mac is back!”, which I 1)  found annoying and 2) kept hearing as “Yankees suck”.

And now the article linked above called him an “insurgent”.  Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me the word “insurgent” calls up images of IEDs and 12-year-old Iraqis with rocket launchers.  Is this a jibe at McCain from the Post?

And there can only be one “Comeback Kid” per election, and you can’t start calling yourself that after only two states have officially voiced an opinion.  Hillary and McCain need to sit down and negotiate an agreement.  One of them can be the Comeback Kid.  Since Bill Clinton already had that nickname, I guess Hillary probably has the upper hand there, but the 71-year-old McCain can maybe play the irony card.

So, I’m disappointed that Hillary won.  I’m encouraged that Obama made another strong showing.  I’m encouraged that Huckabee was back in his rightful place with the second-tier candidates.  I think it’s awesome that, for a long time, Gravel’s vote count was below 100.  That would be cool if you were one of the dinks in New Hampshire who voted for him, where you could really see your vote mattering, right there on the CNN ticker.

Posted in: Politics

Inhabitat is fired

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I don’t know how many of you read inhabitat.com. I’d been reading for a while now, and have just removed them from my RSS reader. You’re probably familiar with the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which aims to provide laptops for children in developing countries. You can argue about whether or not this will do any good, or about the motivations of the founders, or whatever. But you can’t call it the “$100 laptop”, which is what they were originally calling it. It doesn’t cost $100. It’s at least twice that, and a website calling it the $100 laptop is irresponsible and misleading.

So, when Inhabitat did that for the umpteenth time, I left a comment expressing my displeasure. It was strongly worded, but no profanity. It was, I thought, an entirely reasonable criticism. Well, whoever moderates the comments there apparently believes in censorship rather than actually defending a position.

I have never deleted a comment here based on the content.  All I’ve ever deleted was spam.  Not to say I wouldn’t delete a comment if it were sufficiently offensive, but if I were going to delete comments of everyone who disagreed with me, I might as well just stop allowing comments.  Or stop blogging altogether.

So, does anyone know any good wind-kissing hippie blogs?  I stopped reading Treehugger because they just aren’t very good.  So I’m left with almost nothing.  I can only deal with a pretty small amount of Al Gore worship in my hippie blogs, so keep that in mind.

Posted in: complaint , Wind kissing

And now for something totally important

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Spears hospitalized; loses right to see kids - CNN.com

A court commissioner Friday gave sole physical and legal custody of the former couple’s two little boys to Federline and suspended the troubled pop star’s visitation rights.

So the court decided that the genius who is now romantically linked to Paris Hilton is the more qualified parent.  Actually, romantically linked is probably too strong.  They probably got drunk and hooked up.

Anyway, somewhere along the line, someone should have sat Britney down and gave her a little talking-to.  She could have been Madonna’s little protege, making obscene amounts of money and doing pretty much whatever she wanted.  Instead, she’s a joke who lost custody of her kids.  How often does a judge give custody to the father?  I have no idea what the number is, but it’s small.

At the same time, I hope whatever she’s been hospitalized for is something they can treat and fix.  Just because she’s retarded doesn’t mean she should be in the hospital.

Posted in: Stupid people

Iowa is a bunch of jerks

Saturday, January 05, 2008

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Clinton out of it, Edwards suggests « - Blogs from CNN.com

“Iowa does not have best track record in determining who the parties nominate, everybody knows that,” [Third place Hillary Clinton] said at an event in Manchester. “You know, New Hampshire is famously independent, it is a place where people want to make up their own minds — they’re not interested in what anybody else has decided.”

I’m sure CNN is cherry-picking the most controversial quotes, and I’m cherry-picking the best of what CNN has, but wow, that is totally awesome. Even cooler than Edwards calling Obama a “corporate sellout”.

I hope all you readers are ready for some politics, because the race is finally interesting again. People are dropping like flies. Pretty soon we’ll only have the legitimate candidates left.

Anyway, as people who know me are already aware, I don’t much like Hillary. It has been suggested that this is because I don’t like strong, smart women. To that I say, “Have you met my wife?”. Still, I can’t really explain why I don’t like Hillary. It’s probably her cabal of witches.

If I were an Iowan, I’d be salty. The only two Iowans I know are both sensible, intelligent, and didn’t vote for Huckabee. Hillary basically said, “Hey, you didn’t vote for me, but New Hampshirians are much smarter and less easily influenced, and surely they’ll vote for me.”

So, Hillary is a big jerk.

Posted in: Politics

Iowa could have been worse

Friday, January 04, 2008

Richardson out

Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who will finish a distant fourth in Iowa, with roughly 2 percent of the vote is staying in the race. “We are on the way to New Hampshire tonight. We plan to make this a referendum on the Iraq war. This is far from over,” Press Secretary Tom Reynolds tells CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux.

As Biden and Dodd step gracefully away, Bill Richardson decides to make this campaign his personal soapbox. Good job, Bill. If you’re lucky, history will remember you as a large-jowled buffoon and not the guy who cost the Democrats the White House. Face it - you aren’t a serious contender, and your time would be better spent supporting someone who is.

I just overheard my project manager and another employee discussing the results. The employee is happy that Hillary didn’t win, although he would have preferred Edwards. His reasoning? She’s cold, and she’s assembled a cabal of women around her who shield her from advisors and the people a President has to listen to. Seriously, he used the word “cabal”.

Now, there are some good reasons and some bad reasons to vote against Hillary. But if this is your reasoning, you might as well start talking about how she’s a space alien who wants to sell us all into slavery. You thought I was uninformed about politics? Wow.

I’m glad Obama won. I count myself a reluctant Obama supporter. Of all the candidates, he’s the only one I can really see as the President.

Huckabee, meanwhile, really scares me. Religion can certainly be a positive influence on people. There is much to learn from many religious documents, including the Bible. But I can’t fathom the thought process that leads one to vote for a man who believes in the literal truth of the Bible.

His recent potshots at Bush are a little childish, too. I haven’t heard what he’s said, just that he’s been ticking off Republicans by insulting our fearless leader. If he wants to distance himself from the President, fine. He probably should. But there has to be a better way. If I was in Huckabee, I’d distance myself by proposing that Bush and Cheney be tried for treason, but some might call that “overreacting” or maybe “lunacy”. To those people I say, “History will redeem me.”

It worries me that Obama gets a lot of his support from young voters.

Obama also apparently had a better showing among young voters. Fifty-seven percent of poll respondents age 17 to 29 said they supported Obama. Clinton handily beat Obama among voters 65 years or older. (link.)

People in that age group typically don’t vote in huge numbers. And wow, I just realized that, by the time November rolls around, I won’t be in that demographic anymore. Anyway.

Still, a somewhat encouraging night. People thought a Clinton victory in Iowa would pretty much seal it for her, and that didn’t happen. I would have liked to have seen something different on the Republican side. For example, anyone but Huckabee. But at least it could have been worse.

Posted in: complaint , Politics

Well, thats kind of scary

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sentient Developments: Odds of Mars getting plastered by an asteroid lifted to 1 in 25

Asteroid 2007 WD5 was only discovered 2 months ago. Had it been heading towards Earth, we would have been utterly helpless to respond.

On January 30th, there is a 3.9% chance that a 160-foot-diameter asteroid will smash into Mars, possibly creating a crater about a kilometer wide.  While this is incredibly cool for scientists, and on some level for the rest of us, it’s also a little terrifying.  If something like that were headed for, say, Washington, DC, things would be a little more interesting to the average American.

I don’t know how big an area we’d have to evacuate if one was heading for us.

The uncertainty region during the Mars encounter now extends over 400,000 km along a very narrow ellipsoid that is only 600 km wide.

Since 400,000 km is much more than the diameter of Mars, that region must extend well into space.  So I don’t really know how big a spot on Mars is actually in danger of being hit, or how far away one would have to be to avoid it (Assuming one could survive on Mars otherwise).

In any event, I hope we have something taking video of Mars when it happens.  That would be pretty sweet.

Posted in: Space

Is this legal?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

alli –weight loss program for healthy weight loss

Take a look at the link above.  I keep seeing this commercial while the wife watches various Law and Order marathons while she pretends she’s doing work.

The first thing I thought when I saw the logo was “Google”.  I imagine that was intentional, and I imagine their lawyers have determined that they haven’t crossed any lines, but it seems like they must have come pretty close.

Not only that, but their red-blue-yellow-green letters mirror eBay’s, too.

Now, eBay doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, so I imagine if they determine they don’t have a case, they’ll let it go, just mutter to each other at the corporate office.

Google, however, ought to send a nice little note to GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Alli, and tell them in no uncertain terms that they’re a bunch of dicks.  They probably won’t, but it would be cool.

Where do you draw the line between a similar logo and an attempt to piggyback on the good name of another company?  Alli is really, really close to that line if they haven’t actually crossed it.  They aren’t competing with eBay or Google, but that’s not really the issue.

Posted in: Advertising

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

So, it’s 2008. The wife and I are enjoying the day off. Well, I am, at least - she has work to do. I think I’m going to bake some bread (Still trying to get a loaf of whole wheat to turn out as nicely as the white loaf did).  And I’ll probably play around on the computer.  Maybe even do something constructive. I don’t have any big resolutions. I’m trying to be more organized and motivated, get more done, and that sort of thing.

The tv is on, and there was just a commercial for a toilet cleaner that kills 99.9% of germs deep down into your toilet.  The commercial ends with a mom walking out after cleaning the toilet, patting her young son on the head as he goes to use it.

I have a better idea when it comes to protecting your kids from germs in the toilet - tell them not to stick their hands in it.  I mean, come on.  Cleaning is great, but toilets are dirty.  You know what we put in there, right?

Anyway, I resolve to be less annoyed by stupid things like that.  I’ll probably still write about them sometimes, though.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Life

Kill Microsoft with Ubuntu, not BitTorrent

Monday, December 31, 2007

Techdirt: How Pursuing Software Piracy Hurts Proprietary Software Firms

After all, as Microsoft and others have long admitted, you’re much better off if someone is using an unauthorized version of your software, than if they’re using the competition (especially if that competition is free). If they’re using an unauthorized version of your software, then at least there’s a chance that they’ll either buy it at a later date or convince others to buy it. However, by putting such a big effort into cracking down on software piracy, all the industry has done is highlight why people are better off going with free alternatives.

This is a big reason why I’m using Ubuntu as my only operating system.  I dislike Microsoft, and have no interest in Vista.  But I’m not going to pirate it.  I dislike stealing, as well.  I won’t say that I’ve never pirated software or music or movies.  But when there is a free, open-source equivalent that fits my needs and I can live with the drawbacks (Ubuntu is obviously rougher than Windows.  But nothing deal-breaking for me.  YMMV.), I’m going to go with that, even though I know I could get a cracked copy of Vista or Photoshop or whatever expensive software I wanted.

Of course, I kind of shot myself in the foot with my last computer - I paid for the computer with Vista because I couldn’t get it without, and then overwrote it with Ubuntu.  But I remain hopeful that my next computer won’t have the “Microsoft Tax” on it.  I’d love to see Dell or someone start shipping all their computers with full hardware warranties and then some stripped down version of Linux.  When you boot up, it tells you, “This operating system is not supported by us.  It’s up to you to put whatever OS you want on there.  We promise the hardware will work, and we’ll replace it if it doesn’t.  Otherwise, you’re on your own."  Or something to that effect.

Anyway, it’s great to see that the use of open source is expanding.  Maybe soon we’ll also be able to convince people that jumping to Apple because you hate Microsoft is like running from the hyena and getting eaten by the tiger.  Sure, the tiger is prettier and impresses your friends, but you’re still dead.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Ubuntu

Someone complains about Vector Security

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Complaint Hub » Blog Archive » Vector Security - still cool This is a comment left on the above post (I get about 30% of my Google search traffic from people looking for Vector Security and finding that post).

Vicky Says: December 29th, 2007 at 12:40 pm eDon’t be fooled. Vector Security in North Carolina is renewing our contract WITHOUT NOTICE OF ANY KIND FOR A THREE YEAR PERIOD. In order to cancel, we are required to buy out the contract for the entire remaining period plus pay a penalty of 80% of that amount. This, after we experienced a false alarm, and could not get the system checked for six weeks. Buyer beware. An additional note: my mother’s Vector carbon monoxide detector malfunctioned. It alarms every five minutes, a shrill, piercing alarm, 24 hours a day. She called the Saturday before Christmas, and was told nothing could be done until the Wednesday after Christmas. The Saturday after Christmas NO ONE HAD CALLED HER TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM, DESPITE REPEATED CALLS FOR SERVICE. It is still alarming every five minutes.

As I’ve mentioned, I can’t speak to how Vector responds to problems because we haven’t had any. Nor do I think that one incident is enough to condemn a company. And certainly this time of year is tough for everyone. However, ignoring “repeated calls for service” is not a good way to endear yourself to your customers. I hope Vector fixes this problem quickly so I can continue to recommend them to people.

Posted in: complaint , Vector Security

Please, stop the quarterback worship

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tony Romo. Brett Favre. Tom Brady. Matt Ryan. Anyone starting for USC. It never ends. I just listened to ESPN’s announcers for the Michigan State - Boston College - Champs Sports Bowl heap praises on Matt Ryan, BC’s quarterback, for completing a touchdown pass where the wide receiver clearly pushed off, blatant offensive pass interference that wasn’t called. The announcers acknowledged that this was an illegal play, but STILL talked about how great Matt Ryan is.

Now, here we are, BC is running out the clock. And by running out the clock, I mean not running at all. And Matt Ryan drops back, gets sacked, fumbles, and it’s the offensive lineman’s fault. “Matt Ryan was expecting the block!” So because BC is up 11 in the fourth, but still throwing because their running game is totally nonexistent, and Michigan State is all over the pass, it’s the offensive line’s fault.

The Michigan State QB just made one of the best throws I’ve seen all year. Touchdown, Michigan State, and they are almost covering the spread. If you weren’t watching that, you missed an absolutely fantastic touchdown pass. And now they got the conversion and it’s 24-21.

Matt Ryan can go jump in a lake. He wishes he could make that play. Sure, he’ll go in the first round of the draft, and Michigan State’s Brian Hoyer will definitely not. But that was a sweet play.

However, Hoyer also has three picks. That’s not going to cut it.

Anyway, I don’t want to heap too much praise on Hoyer - that would be a little hypocritical. But this has been a fun fourth quarter. If you aren’t watching, you should be.

As an aside, if you punt on 4th and 1 while losing in the fourth quarter, you deserve to lose. Do you hear me, Michigan State? You DESERVE to lose.

Edited to add: Ryan just fumbled. Clown. Way to be a winner on 3rd and 1 with 2:45 to go.

Edited again to add: Hoyer throws a pick on the first play. Nice job. Both of these quarterbacks seem to want to lose.

Posted in: complaint , sports

Merry Christmas, jerk! Love, U of Michigan

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dear me:

Thank you for your application for the HEAD FOOTBALL COACH position in the department of Athletics, requisition number 13431. This position was posted 11/26/2007 through 12/19/2007. The department has completed their activity on this position, and it has been filled.

You are encouraged to continue your career search by using the University’s automated employment system at http://www.umjobs.org. If you have questions about this email or your application(s) for positions, please call the HR/Payroll Service Center at [].

Sincerely,

The University of Michigan

Please do not reply to this automated email. Direct responses and inquiries to the HR/Payroll Service Center at []

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Jerks.  They email me Christmas Eve to tell me that they hired someone else.  They crushed my hopes and dreams.  I thought maybe that guy from WVU would fall through at the last moment.  But it wasn’t meant to be.

Posted in: complaint , Work

Totally unacceptable workplace environment

Friday, December 21, 2007

I had a bit of a scary moment this morning - I walked into the office, and suddenly the unmistakable smell of cat urine hit me like a ton of bricks.  At first I thought maybe it was me.  I mean, I do have an occasionally salty cat who quite possibly might decide to urinate on some of my clothes.  Although she’s never done it.  She usually likes to express her displeasure by just barely missing the litter box.

But no, it’s not me.  It’s the office.  My office smells like cat urine.

How this happens is beyond me.  I don’t work in a place that should ever contain a cat.  I don’t think a cat could pass the security clearance.

Posted in: complaint , World

This was cool until I read that

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Striking writers in talks to launch Web start-ups - Los Angeles Times

“It’s in development and rapidly incubating,” said Aaron Mendelsohn, a guild board member and co-creator of the “Air Bud” movies.

Shoot, you had me until “Air Bud”.

Seriously, I think this is very cool.  If the writers can’t get what they want from Hollywood, they should remind Hollywood that their monopoly on the distribution of video entertainment is taking a big hit from the internet.

It will be very interesting when some of these writers start making real money.  It will not only strengthen their position by making them more independent, but also by demonstrating the power of the internet as a revenue stream.  If the writers can go to the studio and say, “Look at all the money our work made online.  Now do you see why we want you to pay us when we do it for you?”.

In the meantime, I eagerly await “Air Bud Online!”

Posted in: Anti complaint , TV

Not sure what this is supposed to accomplish

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FCC OK’s cross-ownership of papers, TV - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to let one owner control a newspaper and a television station in Denver and other large markets, a change long sought by The Denver Post’s principal owner, William Dean Singleton.

So, now, if you are not one of the top four television stations in the market, you can own a local newspaper.  Let us count the things wrong with this.

First, what if I’m number five, I buy a newspaper, and then I pass number four?  Do I have to sell the newspaper?  Do I get grandfathered in?  I can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t either ridiculous, or defeats the purpose of the rule.

Second:

The cross-ownership ban was adopted in 1975 with “the twin goals of diversity of viewpoints and economic competition,” the FCC said at the time.

In the age of blogs and the internet and instant access to all sorts of viewpoints, the issue of “diversity of viewpoints” is a little misleading.  An increasingly smaller number of people get their news only from newspapers and television.  I know the older generation still does to a large extent, but most people my age don’t read newspapers because they’re outdated by the time they get to your door.  And then you have to recycle them, and it’s just a huge hassle.

Third:

“You take the high cost of news gathering and spread it across multiple platforms and you get multiple revenue streams,” Singleton [publisher of The Denver Post and head of MediaNews Group] said in a 2006 interview.

THIS is what competition is about.  Innovating, saving money, providing a better product at a cheaper rate.  When you stick these stupid restrictions on who can own what, you make it relatively more expensive to provide news.  Who does this help?  Certainly not a new company with a great idea about how to get news to people.

When the barriers to enter a market are low, diversity is nearly guaranteed.  If I see the market and say, ‘Hey, that one company is the only one providing the service, and they aren’t reaching half the customers", then I have a great opportunity in that market.

It’s things like this where I tend to clash with the Democratic party.  I want the government to stop sticking its fingers in where it isn’t needed, based on what the world was like in 1975.

Anyway, this new law is a step in the right direction, but it’s not far enough, and I doubt it will change anything.

Posted in: complaint , Stupid people

Orioles move on, I hope

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apology accepted, O’s say – baltimoresun.com

“I wish I could sit here and say, ‘Wow, this was a great day as I got this off my chest.’ But I would be lying. I don’t really have any hopes of what other people will do. I asked for forgiveness and I hope people are willing to do that.”

Sorry, commenter Zac Boyd.  Looks like Brian Roberts did take steroids.  But, he did it before it was officially banned by baseball (Nice job, Bud Selig.  You are truly an asset to the game of baseball). And he only did it once.  And now he’s apologized.

I know I came out and said that everyone on the list should be released, but I’m taking that back.  Everyone who takes responsibility and seems to honestly be sorry can stay.  We’ll just wag our fingers at them.

I’m inclined to believe Roberts, in part because I like him and I want to believe him.  And he hasn’t done anything to make him untrustworthy.  He hasn’t been in the news getting in trouble, he has a reputation as a nice guy.

Roger Clemens, on the other hand, is a big jerk.

Posted in: baseball , Baseball

The DMV has betrayed me

Monday, December 17, 2007

Or am I misremembering?  I could have sworn that they asked me if I wanted to register to vote in DC when I got my DC license.  Now, I know me, and I would have said, “Yes, I would like to register to vote while I get my DC license”.  I’ve known me a long time, and I feel qualified to speculate on what I might have said in that situation.

It turns out that either they didn’t ask, or they didn’t act on my request, because I’m not registered to vote in DC.  With primaries coming up, and a whole gaggle of clowns on both sides of the ballot, this is just not acceptable.  Now, I still have to figure out who to vote for - there’s no one I really like, and every time I try to eliminate the people I absolutely can’t bring myself to vote for, I’m left with a write-in for either Abraham Lincoln or Donald Duck.

In any event, downloaded and printed the PDF, filled it out, and I’ll mail it on my way to work tomorrow.  It’s actually quite easy for DC residents to determine if they’re registered to vote.  If you aren’t, you should be, and you should vote.  If you don’t vote, you can’t complain, and if you can’t complain, I’m not really sure what else you’re doing, but it’s probably un-American.

Posted in: dc , dmv , Politics

How could you do this, Brian Roberts?

Friday, December 14, 2007

So the Mitchell Report is out, as I’m sure you all know.  The only current Oriole on there, I think, is Brian Roberts.  I’ve always liked Brain Roberts.  He’s a little tiny second baseman who gets on base a lot.

I suppose we should have seen this coming - his yearly OPS numbers are .625, .605, .704, .720, .902, .757, .809.  Does one of those numbers look, perhaps, way higher than the rest of them?

The year his bat exploded, 2005, is also the year he started wearing the Nike MaxSight contact lenses, which could explain it.  The Mitchell Report simply states that former Oriole Larry Bigbie said that Roberts told him that he took steroids “once or twice” in 2003.

It figures:  after I call for releasing all the Orioles on the list, one of my favorite players is the only guy who would get released.  At least it wasn’t Bedard.

Preparing for the Mitchell Report

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I’m kind of terrified of this thing.  I love baseball, and this is going to hurt.  It’s a necessary hurt, like tearing off the old bandage, but it’s still going to suck.  There are already leaks that Roger Clemens is on the naughty list, and the promise of other big names.

I hate Clemens, but he’s the best pitcher of my generation, and I don’t want to see his name tainted like that.  Maybe it will knock him down a peg and remind him that he’s not actually bigger than baseball and teams will stop letting him get away with this “I’ll pitch when I’m good and ready and we’re playing at home” garbage.

And I’m afraid that other big names are really going to hurt.  I hope the Orioles release everyone on the list.  Immediate, unconditional release for anyone breaking the rules.  I would rather watch the Orioles have the worst season in the modern era, or promote our entire AA team, than watch them employ cheaters.

My great hope for all of this is that maybe now the Steroid Era can end.  No more.  I want it to be over so we can go back to thinking about baseball, not asterisks.

Who eats better than we do?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Salad: The Wife’s Signature Salad, spinach with candied pecans, dried cranberries, blue cheese, apple and a delicious honey vinaigrette.

Dinner: Scallops over lemon orzo.

Accompanied by: Bell’s Sparkling Ale, a November-only 9% alcohol American Triple.

In the oven: 100% whole wheat bread, rising and almost ready to bake (NB - I used all 100% whole wheat flour instead of the other two types).

Most of the ingredients are organic. It’s very low fat, low sodium, and totally delicious. You thought I was smug about living in the city and taking public transportation to work? You haven’t seen us eat dinner.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Smug

You suck, Citicards

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So, I have good credit.  I don’t carry a credit card balance.  I pay my bills on time.  I have a Citi World Dividend Mastercard or whatever the heck it is that I’ve had for maybe four years.  Actually, it was a different card up until a month or so ago, but they changed it, not me, so it’s been one continuous account as far as I’m concerned.  Anyway, I’ve NEVER missed a payment on it.

So I forgot to pay my November bill.  Just forgot to go to their website and schedule a payment.  Those jerks charged me interest, a $39 late fee, and raised my APR.  For ONE missed payment in four years.  They didn’t even contact me to say I was late.  My Discover card emails me and tells me if I haven’t scheduled a payment and my due date is approaching.  But Citi didn’t do that.

The first level CSR didn’t even think they should.  “Oh, we have so many cardholders, I don’t know how we could call them.  It would have to be on the computer."  Well, of course, moron, I don’t want you to call me.  Why do you think I do as much business with you as I can on your website, and long ago stopped getting paper statements?  I don’t want to talk to you on the phone, or get any regular mail from you.

Anyway, the second level CSR that I got when I asked to cancel waived the fees, gave me some extra cash back bonus temporarily, and dropped my APR to 1.9% for 9 months, then it goes back to the rate I had before I missed the payment.

I’m planning to cancel the card anyway, but they don’t have to know that.

The message here is, when your credit card company does something stupid, call them and complain.  They’ll probably help you out.

Posted in: complaint , Credit

Take that, DC Parking Enforcement!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Complaint Hub » Blog Archive » I win! I’m a big winner!

We’re still waiting on a response for the big ticket, the $100 ticket. The wife wrote that letter. She’s a lawyer, so she should be better at convincing them, but we had a much stronger case on the one that I contested. So we’ll see.

Yes, I just quoted myself. Shut up. A couple of days ago, we finally got the letter saying that they forgave the big ticket, too. We weren’t sure what was going to happen - the car still had the old Virginia tags then. I’m sure if they tried they could get my SSN or VIN or something from Virginia and track down my DC registration that way, but that involves WORK, and I just wasn’t sure they were actually going to do that. But I didn’t want to contact the DMV after it was taking them forever to get back to us on this ticket, because that would absolve them of doing any work to connect me to the old ticket. Anyway, it’s moot now, because they finally succumbed to my wife’s crushing grip of reason and tore up the ticket. That brings our record on contesting tickets to 4-0, I think.

Why do I write?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Zombie Robert Heinlein Rises From the Grave Yet Again to Annoy the Politically Correct

People start writing literary fiction as they tumble through writing programs at Sarah Lawrence or Bennington or Iowa because that’s what they’re expected to write and they want to impress their professors and fellow students; people start writing science fiction, on the other hand, roughly ten seconds after they set down The Star Beast or Ender’s Game or Snow Crash because they get done with the book and think, holy crap, I want to do that.

This comes from science fiction writer and blogger John Scalzi. I’ve had similar experiences with reading something and being compelled to write almost immediately. The first time I remember it happening was reading Faulkner. I struggled and struggled through the first eighty or so pages of Absalom, Absalom before I put down the book and said to myself, “I have no idea what I just read, but the act of not writing (well, trying to write) that myself right now is causing me physical pain”. I don’t know if Scalzi’s quote directly applies to me, though. It’s not just science fiction that does this to me, although Charles Stross has definitely had that effect. I think, for me, I get that feeling of “I must do this” when I get lost in the book. This can be lost in a science fiction world like Stross', or lost in the amazing things that Faulkner could do with the English language. Of course, I never finish any of the projects that these books inspire, but that’s a different issue.

Posted in: Writing

This thing is going to look funny

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inhabitat » TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: The Smart Car

The Smart car is a tiny subcompact vehicle, only about 9 feet long and 5 feet wide. The three cylinder engine has fantastic fuel consumption, getting 42 miles per gallon, and has a top speed of 90mph.

So, those of you not in the United States, or who have traveled to some of those other countries who realize that not everyone needs a gigantic car may have seen the Smart car, about the size of two defensive linemen.  Seeing them parked on the street looks a little ridiculous even when the cars around them are smaller than your typical American behemoth, so imagine this car parked between a Yukon Denali and chromed-out H2.

I ’m a little disappointed that it will both cost $11,000+ and get only 42 miles to the gallon, but the bigger picture is that Daimler thinks this thing will sell here.  That means that we’re starting to see people thinking differently about transportation and conservation and things like that.  Hopefully seeing these tiny things driving around will make more people reconsider buying an 8-passenger SUV to drive to work alone.

He/She/It Listened!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our football game was canceled.  So now we start the playoffs this Saturday.  They should wrap up sometime next year, I guess.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Weather

Maybe the supreme being is listening

Friday, December 07, 2007

Weather.com is guessing that we might get rain tonight and tomorrow, so perhaps the supreme being whose existence I proved may actually be listening.  We’ve recruited a bunch of people for our flag football team, but I would still prefer our regular squad out there (And I’d kind of like to play, as well).

Posted in: Anti complaint , Weather

Im one of those DC snow car people now

Thursday, December 06, 2007

When I first moved to the DC Metro area back in 2001, I was living in Fairfax, VA, and working on Wisconsin Ave NW.  I used to park on a little un-zoned residential street.  One winter, either 2001 or 2002, I forget, we had a big snow that was on the ground for a couple of weeks.  We got 4-6 inches, and then it just stayed cold.  Most of the cars in the neighborhood just didn’t move.  For weeks, they just sat, covered in snow.

Now, today we got our first snow since we moved to the city, and my car is still covered.  I expect it will be covered tomorrow.  I mean, it’s supposed to get up close to 40 degrees tomorrow, so there’s not much point in clearing the car.  In fact, since street cleaning has been suspended for the winter, I don’t expect to touch the car during the week until March or so.

Well, tomorrow we have errands to run in Virginia.  But other than that.

It’s funny how quickly my attitude about driving has changed now that, for the most part, I don’t have to do it.  Going a day without driving used to be really strange, and now it’s the norm.

Anyway, the snow’s kind of nice.  My commute is only outdoors for three blocks to Metro, and then a minute where the Yellow Line train goes over the Potomac into Virginia.  So the snow isn’t really a concern.  I do have to take some trash out tonight, though.

Posted in: Anti complaint , dc , parking , Weather

Bread is delicious

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So, the bread I made last night was fantastic. It’s the kind of stuff you can just sit and eat. We haven’t even tried toasting it or putting butter or anything else on it. I’m all ready to go out and find a good recipe for some fancier bread. Some 100% whole wheat, maybe some grains and other bits of goodness. Maybe some raisin bread, although the wife doesn’t love raisin bread.

I would recommend that anyone who is disappointed by the quality of bread in the grocery store (Or the omnipresence of everyone’s favorite, high-fructose corn syrup) try baking his or her own. Yes, it helps a lot to have a Kitchen Aid mixer, and I know these are not cheap, but you don’t HAVE to have one, and it’ll probably save you money in the long run if you actually bake your own bread regularly.

The instructions for baking, incidentally, are very detailed and easy to follow.  We had to look up how to prepare the yeast, which wasn’t explained, but that wasn’t too hard.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Food

Doing a little baking

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Simple Dollar » Homemade Bread: Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think

It does take time, but once you get used to it, most food preparation doesn’t take much more time than going to the store, buying it, taking it home, popping it out of the package, and following the directions.

Bread!So I’m baking bread tonight. I found the above link somewhere, Lifehacker I think, a while back. And it seemed like a good idea. So here it is. It smells delicious. We have to wait until it cools to slice it, apparently.

I’ll tell you all how it tastes tomorrow.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Food

Snow? Really?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

So, I drive to work less than once a month.  I take the Metro almost all the time, but our corporate office is out in Manassas, and so on the infrequent days I have to go out there, I drive.  Today is the first time since I started at this position in March that I drove to the office where I actually work because I’m going to Manassas a little later today.

Coincidentally, today is the first day of the winter that we’re getting snow.  Now, it’s just flurries, and shouldn’t affect anything, but seriously.  The ONE DAY I drive to work, we get snow.  That’s just absurd.  That, I think, is the most convincing evidence of a supreme being that I’ve ever heard - there must be a god because he/she/it has a sense of humor.

Well, Supreme Being, if it’s not too much trouble, can I get some rain on Saturday so our flag football game gets cancelled?  We’re really short on players this week (including myself), and it’s the first week of playoffs, and I’d really like a rescheduling.

Posted in: complaint , Weather

A Tribute to Sean

Monday, December 03, 2007

We will miss you, SeanThe pregame tribute to Sean Taylor was really pretty moving.  Watching the entire stadium waving the #21 towels that they gave out on the way in while they showed a slide show on the scoreboard was pretty intense.

There was a pretty huge ovation, too, when they ran the first defensive play with only ten players.

It’s too bad the team couldn’t come away with a win, but that was hardly the defense’s fault.  Since the margin of victory was less than the safety allowed when the offensive line decided to just ignore everyone while Campbell dropped back in the end zone, and we managed almost no offense against the 31st ranked defense in the NFL.

Posted in: sports

Sean Taylor tribute

Saturday, December 01, 2007

So, I haven’t heard all the details.  But it looks like Taylor wasn’t doing anything wrong, which is both better and worse.  If he really had turned his life around, it’s an even bigger tragedy that he died so young.

Anyway, a ticket to tomorrow’s game just fell into my lap, so I’ll get to see the tribute and pick up a #21 towel that they’re giving out to everyone.

I’m excited to go, although that’s mostly because I haven’t been to a game in years.  An old college roommate has season tickets, and when we lived together, I used to go to some of the games with him. But we kind of lost touch after I graduated, and I’m not on his invite list anymore.

So, it should be cool.  It’s definitely a winnable game against Buffalo, although we haven’t played too well against that division this year.  Two overtime wins against the miserable Jets and Dolphins, and that utter embarrassment against the Patriots.

I’m going to Metro there, which I’ve never done before.  Apparently there’s a relatively new Blue Line stop that’s less than a mile away.  That should be a disaster after the game, but that’s fine.  Getting out of FedEx is always an ordeal.

But it will all be worth it to spend the day yelling and drinking beer.

Posted in: Anti complaint , sports

Nano is done

Thursday, November 29, 2007

At 7:21PM Eastern, I saved my 2007 Nano novel for the last time.  50,262 words, according to the word counting robots at the website.  I’m happier with it than I was before, but the plot is still kind of strange, and I think my characters are motivated more by wanting to advance the story than by any sort of realistically human motivations.  But that’s okay.

Now I can go back to my normal routine.  There are a bunch of things I thought of doing in November that I’ve had to put off.  Now I can not think of them again until next November, when I’ll remember that I said I would do them in December or January.

Anyway, it feels good to finish again.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Writing

New job?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It’s a long shot, and I don’t know if I’m really qualified, but I just applied for a job as the head football coach at the University of Michigan.  Should be pretty sweet if I get it. 

Posted in: Anti complaint , Work

2481 to go

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

410 words on the Metro this morning, and I’m almost at the end.  The 28th, today, is the latest I’ve ever hit 50,000.  And I don’t think I’ll make it today.  But I’m sure I will tomorrow. 

I’m a little disappointed that no one seems to notice me writing on the Metro.  Or maybe they do and just don’t say anything.  I guess people don’t talk much during rush hour.  But isn’t it weird?  Have you ever seen somone writing in a little notebook on the Metro?  I think that’s weird.  Of course, if I saw me writing on the Metro, I would look at me and think, ‘Hey, that guy’s kind of weird’.  Then I’d go back to reading or whatever I was doing.

Posted in: Writing

Almost finished

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nanowrimo is quickly approaching its end.  And so is my novel.  The story is done, really.  I’m currently writing a completely gratuitous bar scene, where a nerdy-but-recently-famous blogger is being hit on by a beautiful-but-gold-digging girl.  It has nothing to do with advancing the plot, but it’s doing nicely to advance the word count.  I have about 2,800 words to go, and I expect to finish Thursday.  Tomorrow I’m going out, so I don’t think I can get that many words in.  But Thursday I have no plans.  Except probably watch “The Office”.  But I can do 2,800 words.

I’m debating whether to share the story when I’m done.  I was thinking of putting up a Creative Commons licensed text file and letting people do what they want.  I don’t think I’ll ever do anything more with the story. But maybe I should let the wife read it first, and make sure it’s okay to share.  I don’t think it’s very good.  It’s maybe a better story than last year’s, but not as good as 2002, 2003, or 2005.  And my 2005 story was about talking ducks and, squirrel concubines, and evil foxes.  So that may put this one in perspective.

I probably need to rethink my approach for Nano 2008.  My stories are getting worse.  I don’t think that’s really the intention.

Posted in: Writing

I thought wed lose him to jail

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ESPN - Redskins' Taylor dies from injury in shooting - NFL

“I just take this job very seriously,” Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. “It’s almost like, you play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. And if you don’t take it serious enough, eventually one day you’re going to say, ‘Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.’”

I really do feel bad for his family and friends.  Who ever knows if everyone is just saying good things about him because he’s gone, but all the quotes from his teammates say he really was growing up now that he had a little girl.  All the personal fouls, the spitting on other players, the guns and DUIs, that was supposedly behind him.  I’d like to believe that. 

I’m afraid, though, that we’re going to find out that the guy came not to rob him, but intended the whole time to shoot him, and it was because of something that Taylor did.  The reports of burglary are too vague and don’t really sound plausible.  But I don’t know. 

I hope his 18-month-old daughter doesn’t remember this when she grows up. 

Posted in: Sad

Officially back on track

Thursday, November 22, 2007

For the first time since November 7th, I am back on the Nanowrimo pace.  I just hit the 35,000 word mark, and things seem to be going well.  It’s been my experience, as a four-time Nano winner, that 40,000 is the magic number where the writing just comes out.  I want to say it all goes downhill, but I mean that in the sense of a river flowing, not the quality.  Once you hit 40,000 and your ‘words to go’ number is only four digits, it gets easier.  You can see the finish line, and it’s not that far away.  It just gets easier from there.

So I only need 5,000 more words to hit that mark, and then I might as well be done.  That’s encouraging.  The story is going sort of okay, I guess.  There are a lot of things I wanted to get into that I haven’t.  There’s one character who wasn’t important, and then she was, and now I have no idea what to do with her.  She’s stuck at her sister’s house, an invalid on the couch with a broken leg, and I haven’t the slightest clue how to get her involved in the story again.  My female main character is doing okay.  I feel that I’ve written a passable female character, believable but not very interesting.  I don’t think she’s a bad character, and I don’t think she’s a bad female character, but she isn’t very interesting.

Anyway, it feels good to be back on the pace.   Just in time to get behind again because of the holiday.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Writing

You know what, Kindle? No. Not buying you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I really hope the Kindle is the iPod of books.  It could revolutionize the industry and open up all sorts of new business models.  But I’m not going to buy one.  My biggest problem is the restrictions put on free content.  I have a few books in PDF on my Ubuntu laptop.  I obtained these books legally, all downloaded with permission from the author.  Because the Kindle doesn’t work with Ubuntu and doesn’t read PDF, I don’t even know how I would get these books onto the Kindle.  And since reading free books I get online on something other than a computer screen is one of the primary reasons that I want an ebook reader, this is kind of a big deal.

I know the wife will be happy with this decision, because she thought I was crazy for wanting one in the first place.

I really hope that Amazon’s push in the industry brings about more competition.  Sony, as much as I loathe them, got things started with the first electronic ink ebook, and things have started to move more quickly since then.  Now that there’s another big player in the market, it seems reasonable that we’ll see big changes in the very near future.

Posted in: Gadgets

So I hit 30,000 words

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finally.  Well, only a day late.  But I was 3,500 words behind on November 17th, which is the furthest back I’ve ever been.  This year has been tough.  I’m not sure exactly why.  The story is going slowly at the moment.  I don’t like this most recent chapter, and I may be writing myself into a corner.  But, then again, that’s what Nanowrimo is all about.

I’m currently just about a day behind.  That’s not a huge deal.  I can hopefully make that up by tomorrow or Wednesday.

Posted in: Writing

The Kindle hates Ubuntu

Monday, November 19, 2007

USB support only works for Windows 2000 or higher or OSX 10.2+.  What a load of crap.

Posted in: complaint , Gadgets

The Kindle is here

Monday, November 19, 2007

So I’ve spent most of my morning reading everything I can find about the Kindle.  I mean, I’ve spent most of my morning working dilligently.  Yeah.

So, Amazon is going to charge for the books, charge for newspaper subscriptions, and charge for full-text blog feeds.  But they aren’t charging any extra for the network connection.

This is pretty cool.  There are some drawbacks.  It’s not as sexy as an iPhone, but that’s really not that big a deal for me.  It doesn’t seem to support PDF, which people had been saying it would, but it supports some ebook formats, plus Microsoft Word and HTML.  Some of the details are fuzzy.  I’m hearing that you can't transfer your own content through the USB port, but not from anyone reliable.  I suppose you could always do it via SD card.

I think I’m going to have to buy one.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Gadgets

Eagerly awaiting the Kindle

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon is releasing the Kindle, their new ebook reader, today, according to just about everyone.  It sounds really cool.  The idea from Jeff Bezos, the guy in charge at Amazon, is that people should have access to every book ever written, all the time.  So this thing has some internet connection provided by Sprint, and you’re supposed to be able to buy a book from Amazon without using a computer in a few minutes.

Of course, the $9.99 lease payment for a new book is both a little high for something you don’t own and can’t resell, and a little low for Amazon to make any money, so I expect the pricing model to change at some point.  Artificially inflating the price of a non-scarce good doesn’t lend itself to an efficient market, but the people at Amazon have done pretty well selling things so far, so I expect they’ll figure something out.

First on my list would be real ownership of content.  If I buy an ebook, I should own it.  It should be mine.  I should be able to resell it or trade it or give it away.  I would also like to see libraries.

There are some major details missing from the news about this thing so far, such as integration with the computer.  I know you don’t need to use a computer to buy new books, but what about free ebooks released by their authors?  Can I just transfer those or download them directly to the Kindle?  A nice little library program on the computer would be cool, so I could organize my books onto SD cards or whatever this thing is using for removable storage.

Anyway, I’m very excited.  I’d love to see this thing revolutionize the book industry like the the iPod did for the music industry.  If I were a book publisher, I would be very nervous right now.  They may find themselves increasingly less relevant, just like the big music labels, if they can’t figure out how to adapt to new business models.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Gadgets

They couldnt have done it when he hit 754?

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News

“I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely,” Selig said. “It is important that the facts regarding steroid use in baseball be known, which is why I asked Senator Mitchell to investigate the issue. I look forward to receiving his report and findings so that we can openly address any issue associated with past steroid use.”

Selig, you’re a tool. This is the same statement he gives every time they advance the case against Barry.

“I haven’t seen him inject drugs with my own eyes, but I take those allegations very seriously.” Barry’ll go to jail and Selig will say, “I haven’t seen him actually sitting in jail, but I take the word of the California Penal System very seriously.”

Anyway, it couldn’t have happened to a bigger (headed) jerk. I haven’t seen anyone mention it, but I’m wondering if he’s gotten himself eligible for a Pete Rose. That would be kind of funny in a sad sort of way if the all time hits and home run leaders were both barred from the Hall of Fame for their off-field actions.

I’m a little sad for the game of baseball, but at the same time, this can’t come as a surprise to much of anyone.  Which means that most of the damage has already been done.  I hope.

I bet ARod is mad that his smallish contract is getting overshadowed by Barry.  Jake Peavy and his Cy Young award, too.  I am a little surprised that ARod signed for only $27.5 million a year.  I mean, that’s barely more than he’s been making, and significantly lower than the $35 they had been talking about.

Posted in: baseball , sports

No more being nice

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So, I’m a nice guy.  Ask anyone.  Today, I went down to get a key copied at a mall kiosk.  This may have been a bad idea, but whatever.  The woman there spent 10 minutes looking through key blanks before she told me they didn’t have the right on.  Five of those minutes were spent comparing my key to a blank that was plainly wrong.  She showed it to me.  I told her it was the wrong blank.  She showed it to the guy at the kiosk next door.  He told her it was the wrong blank.  She compared them again.  Somehow, they were still totally different keys.

Did I get angry with her?  No.  I was polite.  I left.  I am positive that other customers are not so pleasant.

So, I get back to my building.  I went through the doors to the elevators on the bottom floor.  The elevators only go up from there, and there is nowhere else to go, so anyone going through those doors is going up in the elevator.

Anyway, exiting the door as I was entering was a guy on crutches.  I stopped to hold the door for him, because that seemed like the right thing to do.  Some guy was already in the elevator lobby waiting to go up.  As I was holding the door, he got in an elevator and left.  After I held the door, I saw him through the closing elevator doors.  I didn’t have a chance to make eye contact.

Is that a total jerk move?  Would you have held the elevator for fifteen seconds so I could get in, too?  Or am I being ridiculous?  I’m inclined to think I’m not.

Posted in: complaint , Elevators

My Country Tis of Corn

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So, the large, scary government agency that indirectly pays my salary is celebrating America Recycles Day today. That’s a good thing. Raising recycling awareness is nearly always a positive thing. It’s probably always positive, but I’m just being cautious here.

Anyway, to celebrate this, they “will be handing out biobased corn products and informational brochures”.

I won’t discuss the grammar of the sentence beyond being glad that I don’t work for the public school system. Wait, I will. Do you think the informational brochures are biobased? I think they are. But do you think they are also corn products? The sentence construction leaves it open to interpretation. I love interpretation! It lets me berate you for disagreeing with me even if we’re both right.

What I will discuss, however, is the use of corn. We eat corn. We eat corn in almost everything. Next time you’re at the grocery store. Check the ingredients on everything you’ve purchased. You will likely be shocked at how many of the items contain corn in some form or another. A disturbingly high percentage will contain high fructose corn syrup. Most loaves of bread do (Not the good bread at Whole Foods and, to a lesser extent, Harris Teeter. And probably other stores, too, but those are the ones I usually go to. Anyway.).

We should just replace the stars on the flag with corn kernels. We could replace the stripes with ears. The ‘Ol Corn and Corn, we could say. The Yellow, Yellow, and Yellow. It would be great.

In fact, let’s replace everything with corn. Stop raising cattle and chickens! They just eat all our corn! We can grind corn into a pulp, add artificial flavors and colors, and voila! We have steak! Stop buying imported products! We can make everything we need out of corn! It’s BIOBASED! That must be good because it has “bio” in the name!

Posted in: complaint , health , Wind kissing

Thanks, Akismet

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So, some time this afternoon, Akismet stopped the 10,000th spam comment here at Complaint Hub.  I think we should all take a moment and applaud Akismet’s efforts.  Way to go, Akismet!

levitra, from IP Address 202.105.182.15, decided to ask, “How add your to reds?”.  That was the comment.  The link to “levitra’s” blog or website was some Ukrainian top level domain name.  I’m sure the site is wonderful and informative.  I imagine they sell cheap pharmaceuticals.

I often wonder why they think that someone will take a comment like that seriously and click on “levitra’s” website to find out more.  And then, once there, do they really expect that people will think, “Oh, while I’m here, I should buy prescription medicine from a foreign country without the advice of my doctor!”

Seriously.  At least I didn’t have to censor the comment for language.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Spam

I dont hold grudges. Sometimes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Complaint Hub » Blog Archive » Miro needs your help to not suck

I really do hope the Miro project succeeds and gives us another model for distributing quality video content. But I’m not giving them money when they beg. Provide me with a service that I want, that works the way it should, and I’ll pay for it. But try to get me to donate money to a bloated piece of software that I’m not entirely sure fulfills the needs of anyone, and I’m just not interested.

Just to show that I’m not holding a grudge, I just installed Miro 1.0 on my laptop.  I’m going to wait until I at least hit 1,667 words for the day before I play with it, but I’m going to try it out.  I’ll post my thoughts when I get a chance to see how it works.

Posted in: TV

Letters are easier, anyway

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Due process too much hassle for DC dept. of motor vehicles - Boing Boing

Washington DC’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will no longer allow citizens to protest parking tickets in person, reports Thenewspaper.com. Instead, they’ll offer mail-in and e-mail adjudication.

What kind of crazy person would go to the DMV to protest a ticket in person, anyway?  As many of you have found via Google, I have a bit of experience protesting tickets via the mail.  It actually works.  They really do look at your letter, and they really do respond.  It sometimes takes a letter to your councilmember to get it all worked out, but the statement in the article to which Boing Boing has linked:

Under the DMV’s plan, motorists will only be able to object to a ticket by email or letter where city employees can ignore or reject letters in bulk without affected motorists having any realistic recourse.

Just isn’t true.  Does DC give out too many ridiculous parking tickets?  Probably.  Is the city too financially dependent on this revenue source?  I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Should it be easier to contest an erroneous ticket?  Sure, but we have to weigh the cost/benefit analysis here.  The reason you can’t contest a ticket in person anymore is probably NOT so the DMV can deny you due process (Does the DMV even owe you due process?  I’m not sure.  Maybe some lawyer can answer.).  It is probably to save the DMV some money.  If they don’t have to employ someone to sit and listen to how you know it said no parking, but you only had to run in for a minute, and it’s not your fault that your manicurist had a line and you had to wait and the kids were running around and it’s really not fair and you normally park in a regular spot and take the other car that you can usually park but this time you had the big car and gosh don’t you have kids then you understand, right?  Then maybe they could put some of that saved money to use for education or increased police patrols or any of the million other things the city could be spending its money on.

Anyway, I know I only link to BoingBoing when they piss me off, so I want to state here that I read and enjoy the site every day.  And I really don’t just read it waiting for them to say something that bugs me.  I really recommend the site.  They usually have smart, interesting things to say.  Sometimes they say ridiculous things, but don’t we all?

Posted in: Cars , complaint , dc , dmv , parking

Nano Update - Day 13

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I’m getting myself all caught up.  I wrote a new record 620 words on the Metro this morning, bringing my total to 19,566.  That leaves me needing 2,105 words tonight to catch up to the pace.  I think I can do at least a good chunk of that.

I think I’m getting over the dreaded Week Two Slump.  It was particularly bad this year, but the story is starting to pick up, and some characters are really stepping up and asserting themselves.

It’s amazing what a 3,700 word day will do for you.  This time on Sunday, I was almost ready to throw in the towel, not just on this year, but on Nanowrimo altogether.  But now I’m plunging ahead into the heart of the novel and wondering what I’m going to do with all of these sub-plots.

Posted in: Writing

Nano Update - Day 12

Monday, November 12, 2007

Whew, am I behind.  I got a little behind on Thursday because we had a friend come into town.  Then I got a little more behind on Friday.  Then on Saturday I woke up at 4:30AM puking, I have no idea why, and didn’t stop until around noon.  After that, it was all I could do to just stay awake, much less write.  Then the wife of the friend joined him (she’s a friend, too, but it’s easier to say it this way), and we hung out on Sunday, so as of this morning, I was nearly 5,000 words behind the pace.  I’ve never been that far behind, unless you count 2004 when I only wrote 448 words on day one.

On the bright side, I’ve written 3,058 words today, and am only about to break for dinner.  The Monday Night Football game is going to be disgracefully bad, so I should be able to write through that.  And I’m only 1,741 words behind schedule now.  I can make that up this week.

Posted in: complaint , Writing

Nano Update - Day 9

Friday, November 09, 2007

I’m getting a little behind.  All the writing I did yesterday was on the Metro.  I got 309 words on the way home, and then 345 this morning.  That means I need 2546 more words today to keep on the 1667-a-day pace.

However, I’m rapidly approaching some action scenes, so that should be good.  And I think soon I will introduce a couple of chatty homeless guys that should help the word count along.  I’m just a little behind.  I can catch up this weekend.

Posted in: Writing

This is why were killing the planet

Friday, November 09, 2007

I work on computers all day.  So do my coworkers.  This morning, I came into work and found someone had left some papers on my chair, which seems to be universal for “You should look at these”.  I, naturally, assumed it was something reasonably important.  Perhaps some security form I needed to fill out.

It turns out it was a printout of a sixteen page SQL stored procedure which my coworker printed just so he could highlight the 8th and 9th lines of the first page and write a little note informing me of something I did not ask to know, need to know, or want to know.

He had a bunch of options here.  The first one, and my preference, would have been to just not tell me at all.  The world would have continued to turn.

Second, he could have emailed me the stored procedure with a note in the email.  That would have been fine.  He could have come by my desk this morning and said, “Hey, open up that stored procedure.  See this line?  I changed it.  It works better now."  I would have even been sort of okay if he’d printed out the first page only and made his notes there.  An unnecessary use of paper, but not egregious.

Anyway, now I have to recycle this stack of papers.  All so he could notify me of something I never needed to know.

Posted in: complaint , Work

Nano Update - Day 8

Thursday, November 08, 2007

438 on the ride in this morning.  I had a seat the whole time.  I don’t know if that helped my word count or not.

Unfortunately, with the idiotic waste of time meeting I had to go to before I left work and then the aforementioned trivia, I only got about 1,100 words yesterday.  So this morning’s word count is just getting me back to about on track.

It’s okay, though.  The wife is going out of town for a day or two, and I can spend the entire time writing.  Wives can be really distracting.  I mean, they’re great and all, and mine is particularly great.  But they tend to not like it if you ignore them all the time and don’t help with cooking or cleaning or anything.

Which reminds me, I won a little bet with the wife last night at trivia.  Had I lost, I would have had to cook dinner three nights in a row.  Unfortunately, I never thought of what she would have to do if I won.  It was one of the trivia questions.  It said that Columbia Heights, our wonderful transitional neighborhood, was named for Columbia College.  Columbia College has a new name.  What is it?

Well, the wife was sure it was Howard, because Howard is more or less in Columbia Heights (Or Shaw, whatever, they’re right next door).  While that is certainly a reasonable guess, I was pretty sure it was GW.  Turns out I was right.

Posted in: Writing

OMG TomKat!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flickr has let me down - apparently no one who was outside the Uptown Theater last night taking pictures of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes has posted their stuff yet.  But here is a little gallery that I won’t hotlink, although maybe I could.

Anyway, I post this not because I’m obsessed with two crazy, rich Hollywood people, but because I totally saw them.  We went to trivia night at a bar just down the street from the Uptown, and as I was walking down Connecticut Avenue from the bus stop, there was a huge crowd in front of the theater.  I looked in the center of the crowd, and there was a short man with a really bad haircut (Come on, Tom, now that you’re married, you’re letting yourself go?) and his wife towering over him. 

It was kind of cool.  I didn’t get a picture, because pulling out my camera phone would have just pissed me off because it takes such awful pictures.  I had thought they had the baby with them, because I couldn’t see either of them (especially Tom) below the shoulders.  Tom’s body language suggested he was holding a baby.  Or maybe that was my imagination.  Anyway, the kid doesn’t seem to be in the pictures that I’ve seen of the event, so I guess I was wrong. 

Posted in: Movies

Nano Update - Day 7

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

434 words this morning.  Total so far is 10,590.  Nothing really exciting to report.

Posted in: Writing

Why yes, I am wearing bamboo underwear

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The bamboo boxer shorts that the wife bought me finally made their way into the wash yesterday, and onto my person this morning.  They’re 70% bamboo, 30% organic cotton.  And they’re quite comfortable.  I recommend picking up a pair or two.

Nano Update - Day 6 (Or, the worst paragraph Ive ever written)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I wrote 353 words this morning.  That’s good for the wordcount, but today’s opening paragraph is one of the worst I’ve written since I started doing Nano.

Kathy woke up feeling cold.  Her leg hurt, and she was cold.  As she regained her bearings, she realized that it was very noisy.  People screaming and running everywhere.

WTF was that?  I looked at it as I was counting words after I got to work, and I cringed.  I’m going to claim that I was still asleep when I wrote that, because that’s the only reasonable excuse.  I know Nano is supposed to create more quantity than quality, but there IS a bottom, below which one should take up another hobby.  That paragraph was below the bottom.  But the section picked up as it went on, and I have high hopes for this afternoon’s ride home.

I think I’m going to use that paragraph as my excerpt at the Nano site.

Posted in: Writing

I cant show you what we did this weekend

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stupid Comcast. They fixed part of our cable and internet problems. They’re claiming we have a weak signal. But our HD channels are coming in just fine. But we don’t get Comedy Central and the stations that rerun Law and Order: SVU all day, which makes the wife a little salty. And our internet doesn’t work at all. Which means I can’t post the pictures of our progress this weekend to Flickr. So, let me just say that our hallway/art gallery is looking fantastic. And it only took four drill bits and countless trips to Home Depot. We melted a titanium drill bit. I don’t know the chemical properties physical properties (Thanks, non-blogging-scientist-brother-in-law) of titanium, but you get the impression that it’s pretty tough, right? And you figure that melting it would be hard? Turns out it’s not as hard as you might think.

But it’s all finished now. The wife was putting a final coat of paint on this morning, and we’ll hang pictures tonight. Comcast is due back between 5-8PM to give it one more shot, so maybe I’ll even be able to upload pictures. If I do, you’ll get a sneak preview of the color we’re going to paint our bedroom next time we get a weekend with a little free time. I really like the color.

Posted in: complaint , The Devil

Nano Update - Day 5

Monday, November 05, 2007

Four hundred and sixty words on the Metro this morning.  Did you see how I wrote out “four hundred and sixty”, instead of simply writing “460”?  That is what is called “maximizing your word count for National Novel Writing Month”.  There, I did it again.  I could have abbreviated National Novel Writing Month.  Or used apostrophes.  But I did not.

Anyway, that brings my total up to 7,190.  That’s a pretty good total for four days plus a commute to work.  And I’m just hitting the first big event in the story.  I don’t know the literary term for it.  It’s the big event early in the story that enables the rest of the story to happen.  I think it’s going well.

Posted in: Writing

Joo-dish-oo-what?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Is this a DC thing?  Every time I hear someone on a Metro loudspeaker mention the Judiciary Square Metro stop, they pronounce it “joo-DISH-oo-wary”.

I don’t often take the Red Line out that way, so I don’t hear it very often.  But today something was going on there, and they made an announcement at Pentagon City while I was waiting for my train.

I’m home early, by the way, because Satan’s Cable Company, Comcast, is supposed to come out again to fix our tv and internet.  I was told the other day that they had to do some work outside, and no one needed to be home.  Apparently that was a lie.

I really hate Comcast.  The service is bad.  I hear they’re much better in Maryland, but in DC the service is not good.  The guy who came to look at our connections the other day was very pleasant, but he couldn’t fix the problem.

Anyway, if there was any real competition in the cable and internet market here, I would switch.  But there currently isn’t.  A neighbor is trying out the DirecTV and Verizon DSL route.  I’m going to have to see how he likes it.  I’ve had bad experiences with satellite tv, and I’m sure Verizon is going to complain if I ask for DSL without a Verizon phone line (Although I think they have to provide it).

So, I’m at home, using my wireless internet card from work.  It’s AT&T, and it works occasionally.  Actually, the card says Cingular on it, but Cingular doesn’t exist anymore.

And now I’m just rambling, which usually means I should just stop and hit “Publish”.  So I think I’ll do that.

Posted in: complaint , dc , metro , The Devil

Nano update - Day 2

Friday, November 02, 2007

1817 words yesterday.  428 on the Metro this morning.  If I can knock out nearly half my daily word goal during my commute, that would be awesome.

The story is going well so far.  I love how characters kind of pop up out of nowhere.  I mean, sometimes I have a character in my head before I start, and I’m more or less waiting for the right moment for him or her to make an appearance.  But sometimes I’m writing, and someone pops up, and turns out to be important.  The campaign manager hoping her guy gets elected so she can get a better book deal is one of those.  The surly, hungover police officer might be another.  I’m not sure if he’s going to end up with a big role in the story.

Anyway, I’m happy so far.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Writing

Not a lot of words

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I wrote 205 words this morning on the Metro.  That’s not too many.  Although, it’s more words than I’ve ever written before during my work commute, so that’s cool.  It’s tough to stand and write, especially since I had my normal bag plus my work laptop this morning.  But I don’t usually bring my laptop home, and if it really gets to be a problem, I can probably get a seat most of the time.  I tend to not sit on the Metro that often because I don’t really like sharing a seat with strangers, and anyone who gets on the train probably needs the seat at least as much as I do.

But if I’m going to be writing, and it becomes too difficult to do standing, then I’ll sit more.  Let those elderly and disabled people stand for a change.  They shouldn’t be riding Metro at rush hour anyway.

Posted in: Writing

No one can stay away

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I went back to Starbucks this morning, despite my claims to the contrary.  I had gone the other day just to break a $20 and found that the grande coffee was back below $2.00.  This morning, I just couldn’t bear the thought of the awful office coffee (black, because the only thing worse than bad coffee is powdered creamer).  And they weren’t busy, so I asked the guy who served me about the price change.

He very nicely explained what happened, and it’s actually an interesting explanation.  Starbucks did, in fact, raise prices back in July.  That pushed the price over $2.  But then Virginia changed the tax laws.  They stopped taxing plain coffee.  They still tax the coffee-like milkshakes, and they tax the food that Starbucks serves.  According to the guy, they will even tax your coffee if you get it with a pastry or something.  I think the distinction is between “coffee” and “food”, and coffee is considered to be part of the “food” category if you drink it with something to eat.

Anyway, very interesting.

Posted in: Anti complaint , coffee , Money

Athletes DO graduate from college

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Race, Class, and Graduation Rates

These two together make a valuable point that’s often missed in the operatic hand-wringing about the failures and abuses of college athletics: when you’re talking about graduation rates, it’s important to compare apples to apples.

Interesting article.  Everyone has heard about the abysmal graduation rate of college athletes, especially at the top sports schools.  But the point here is that comparing the graduation rates of athletes to the overall graduation rates isn’t fair.  If you look at the graduation rates separated by race, it becomes clear that the problem is not that too few athletes graduate, but that too few minorities graduate. 

This is not to say that this isn’t a problem.  But the potential solutions to the problem are very different.  It reminds us that it’s very important to actually identify the problem before trying to solve it.  This should be obvious, but too often it isn’t.

Back in college, as a math major, I remember hearing over and over how important it was to first understand the question.  At times, I thought, “Leave me alone, of course I understand the question, and if I didn’t, it’s your fault for the way you wrote it."  But then you get to the real world, and it becomes less and clear what the questions are.  I guess my professors were right. 

Anyway, the article suggests that athletes' graduation rates would take care of themselves if we helped out minority students.  Which seems like a good idea to me. 

Posted in: numbers , Statistics

Its almost time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Just over fifteen hours until Nano starts. I’m ready to go. I’ve got the beginning of the story rattling around in my head. I’m a little afraid that the beginning is ALL I have in my head, and the whole middle and end thing is going to be a struggle. But now is not the time for doubts.

I didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m not sure why, but it’s going to make it even harder to stay up until midnight tonight and start before I go to bed. I do that most years. It feels like a nice head start.

Anyway, I’m excited about the story.  I have a name for my main character.  Well, I have a first name.  She needs a last name.  I notice that none of you slackers responded to my request for character names.  That’s fine.  When I’m a rich and famous novelist, I’ll just forget all of you.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Writing

Net neutrality is not net neutrality

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Obama pledges Net neutrality laws if elected president | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone via Boing Boing

Net neutrality, of course, is the idea that broadband operators shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade Internet content and services–or charge content providers an extra fee for speedier delivery or more favorable placement.

Actually, net neutrality is a problem that would just go away if we had real broadband competition in the United States. Techdirt repeats this ad nauseum. Broadband operator_ should_ be able to offer different levels of service for different prices. In fact, they do now. No one seems to think that Verizon offering a cheap DSL connection, then a more expensive fiber optic connection, is a horrific affront to the fundamentals of the internet. And broadband operators should be able to prioritize content.

If people really had choices in the broadband market, this would cease to be an issue. Provider A could degrade whatever they wanted, and Provider B would step in and take all their customers. Look what’s happened in Japan, when they forced sharing of infrastructure. OMG, fast cheap internet! And competition! Without net neutrality laws!

I won’t blame Obama for this - I imagine he has good intentions, but isn’t getting the whole story. The rest of the Democrats are right in line with him on this, too, so it’s not just his mistake. It’s just funny how people want to promote the freedom of the internet by adding regulation to it.  And, frankly, I think the Republicans are mostly against it as a knee-jerk “no regulation is good regulation” sort of thing.  I doubt they actually took any more time to understand the issue than the Democrats did.

Posted in: complaint , Politics

Well, its not quite under $300

Monday, October 29, 2007

A little while back, I said if the Bookean Cybook Gen3 ebook reader was less than $300, I would buy it.  So it was released today, and it’s $350, or $450 with some extra accessories.

I still want one.  I’d love to be able to play with it first, but I may not be able to resist.  I mean, why did I go to college if it wasn’t to get a job so I could afford to spend $350 on totally awesome gadgets now and then?

Posted in: Gadgets

Go see a play

Monday, October 29, 2007

On Thursday, the wife and I took my mother-in-law to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  NB that I am not linking to the official website of the play because it has a stupid Flash intro.  You can Google it if you’re interested, and the Wikipedia entry probably has a link, too.

Anyway, it was very funny.  There’s one sad song that lasts way too long near the end that doesn’t seem to fit the play at all, but otherwise it’s all very good.  The whole play is, as the title suggests, a spelling bee.  They invite a few members of the audience up to spell along with the cast members.  It’s quite obvious that the audience is supposed to set up a few one-liners, and then go back to their seats.  One of the audience members actually spelled some word I had never heard of correctly, and they had to give him another really hard one to get him to go sit down.

I think my favorite part was when they defined “Mexicans” as “An American slang word for people from Guatemala, El Salvador …"  I think there was more, but I couldn’t hear over the laughter.

Anyway, I recommend the play to anyone with the opportunity to go.

Posted in: Anti complaint , Theater

Whats with the spam?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Akismet spam filter on the comments here at Complaint Hub has been letting me down lately. In general, it has been fantastic. It’s caught about 8,000 spam comments since I started the site, and only caught maybe three or four real posts. But lately it has been holding more and more spam comments in moderation, emailing me and making me tell it that the comment is spam.

Some of what it’s been letting through are quite obviously spam. The latest was a brief message and then forty links to hardcore porn.

I hope this means that Akismet is just nearing the next step in their release cycle, and the spammers are getting better at fooling the filter, but all will be back to normal soon. I hate captchas, and don’t ever want to use one here, so a filter like Akismet is a necessity.

If Dante were writing The Inferno today, what circle of Hell do you think he’d put the spammers into? I’d throw them into the Eighth circle with the panderers (a person who serves or caters to the vulgar passions or plans of others (especially in order to make money [source]). There they would walk in a line, being whipped by demons. That seems appropriate.

Posted in: blogging , complaint , Spam

Curse you, rain

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Well, not really.  We need the rain.  But it’s messing up my weekend.  We have flag football on Saturday morning, and my mother-in-law will be in town from far away, and wanted to see the game.  My mom was going to come from less far away, and everyone was going to watch.  But since it’s been raining for two days now, and isn’t expected to stop until Saturday afternoon, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’ll be able to play.

This probably also doesn’t help the wife’s plans to take her mom around the city tomorrow.

On the bright side, it’s been so long since I’ve actually seen rain that it was really kind of nice.  It wasn’t raining that hard when I was outside, and it’s still warm enough to be pleasant.  As I was waiting to cross 16th Street yesterday, I watched the rain run down the windshield of a Ford Explorer that was blocking the crosswalk as the light was changing.

As I stood there watching, I wondered if anyone had ever uttered the phrase, “The warm rain running down the windshield of your 1993 Ford Explorer is hauntingly beautiful.”

Then I wondered if I had accidentally ingested some drugs without knowing it.

But then I decided that it’s just my subconscious getting ready for Nanowrimo.

Anyway, we need the rain.  But it sure would be nice if the fields were dry enough to play on this Saturday morning.

Posted in: complaint , Weather

Date Night - Half-Birthday Edition

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Monday, the wife took me to Perrys in Adams Morgan to celebrate my half-birthday.  Yes, neither Perrys nor Adams Morgan has an apostrophe, according to the web site.

Half-birthdays are a wonderful tradition that my mom did for us.  We got a little present and maybe a cupcake.  We being my brother and sister and I.  Anyway, because the wife is so great, she has continued this tradition for me.  In addition to dinner, she got me a t-shirt from Design by Humans and some bamboo boxer shorts from Shirts of Bamboo.

Anyway, Perrys.  We ate on the open-air roof overlooking the top of 18th Street.  It was great.  The weather was perfect for it.  And the food was great.  We started with some edamame, which had too much salt on it, but was otherwise good, and a bottle of French grenache-syrah, which was also good.  It was a screw cap bottle, which I’ve almost never seen outside of New Zealand wine.  But the screw caps are getting more popular, and I’ve heard from at least two people who should know that even a lot of wine snobs are okay with the screw caps.

Then we had assorted sushi, which was quite good.  The spicy tuna roll was great, and the fatty tuna nigiri just falls apart in your mouth.

Overall, it was a great restaurant experience, and I would definitely recommend it.

Meat and potatoes for dinner

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tomorrow, my seafood-and-vegetables-only-eating wife is going out to dinner with a friend.  I think I’m going to take this opportunity to cook some french fries and a large slab of red meat for myself.  Not that she opposes me eating red meat and I have to do it while she’s not home, but it seems silly to cook two dinners.

Anyway, I’m not sure how to prepare it.  I think we have some four-year-old steak seasoning in the cupboard.  But that’s not really exciting.  What’s an interesting and not too complicated way to prepare a steak?  My cooking skill level is a bit above average, I think.  I can follow a recipe, and I can do a little experimentation outside of a recipe, but I’m never going to be on tv for my cooking skills.

Posted in: Food

OMG it worked!

Monday, October 22, 2007

PicturesWe finally got some pictures hung.  It was a huge pain in the neck.  Have you ever used a hammer drill?  If not, don’t.  It taps as it spins the drill bit, and it makes the most awful noise.  It makes a nice hole in the cement, though, so that was good.  We picked up a roll of aluminum flashing, which they use for something or other.  Then we got a cheap piece of molding, painted it, and screwed them both into the wall.  I even made an attempt to countersink the screws, and it almost worked.

Anyway, it looks pretty hot.  And now that we know we can do it, we’ll go back and get some more wood and hang some more pictures.

By the way, the photo on the left was taken by the wife on the honeymoon in Melbourne, and the one on the right I took in photography class in college.

Posted in: photo