Jul 27, 2009
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. Pushing Tin. New York Transportation Control on Hulu
By coincidence, perhaps, I just spotted two "New York transportation control"-themed movies on Hulu.com (note that they aren't available forever, so watch now or plan to rent).
In The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Robert Shaw and crew take over a New York City subway and hold its passengers hostage. Subway exec Walter Matthau manages the crisis with the cool of Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon. The writing and acting are top notch, and of a rhythm and style that we don't see these days. Cultural bonus: it's a great look at 1974 New York -- very pre-Giuliani, and well before the spread of politically correct speech. Music bonus: a fine score by David Shire. Trivia: this movie gave Quentin Tarantino the idea to name his Reservoir Dogs characters after colors.
In Pushing Tin, John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are New York area traffic controllers. (Note that this film came out in 1999, two years before 9/11). I didn't much care for the whole movie (which also stars Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie for the drama parts) but I loved the air traffic control scenes, especially the opening flight sequence. If you just want to see the air traffic control parts that I liked, watch the opening, the scene at around 27 minutes, and the scene at around 1 hour 26 minutes.
Minor actor bonus from Pelham One Two Three: a younger Jerry Stiller, and Doris Roberts as the Mayor's Wife. Roberts also has a small part in Walter Matthau's A New Leaf.
Carrboro Farmers' Market Farmer Foodshare -- Unsold Food Goes to Poor
My friend Margaret recently started a food gleaning program at the Carrboro Farmer's Market. Her low-tech, common sense "why didn't someone think of this already?" effort reminds me that there are so many "obvious" opportunities for good that still need someone to notice, step up to, and do. In this case, talk about your "low hanging fruit" :-). No diss to the good farmers and organizers at Carrboro Farmer's Market for not doing this until now -- they've been doing many great things for years. Now they're doing one more.
Excerpt from yesterday's News & Observer:
Margaret Gifford makes her rounds on a recent Wednesday evening near closing time at the Carrboro Farmers' Market. With a cardboard box in hand, she reminds farmers that she's there to collect any produce they can't sell and won't keep until the next market day.
...The idea came to Gifford, a market regular and former public relations executive, when she heard farmer Ken Dawson of Maple Spring Gardens talking about composting unsold tomatoes. "I noticed farmers taking some unbelievable produce home," she says. "We need to get the food from the people who have the food to the people who need the food."
...On that recent Wednesday night as the farmers start breaking down their stations, the collection begins. John Ferguson of Ferguson Farm donates two large boxes of ripe peaches, which were just selling for $4 to $7 a basket. Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm brings over a box of tomatoes worth more than $60. Basil comes from Cane Creek Farm. Cucumbers come from Turtle Run farm. Elise Margoles of Elysian Fields Farm drops off a grocery bag filled with eggplant.
"Thanks for taking care of this," Leah Cook of Wild Hare Farm tells Gifford. "It's so nice that someone will take it from here."
-- Collecting Unsold Produce for the Hungry (<-click for full text). Andrea Weigl, News & Observer, Sunday July 26, 2009.
For my Durham friends: the article mentions that the Durham Farmer's Market has been donating to Urban Ministries of Durham for years :-)
Jul 17, 2009
Twenty Years Ago?!
Twenty years ago today I started my first post-college job. Holy crud. "Twenty years" seems like both too big and too small a number for what I remember of then and for what I remember of what happened in between.
Random things about first job:
- I was hired as an environmental engineer with the Alliance Technologies Corporation, which would later fold into its parent company, TRC Environmental (now TRC Solutions). We mostly supported the US EPA in their efforts to write air quality regulations.
- My starting salary was $28,000 (which was enough to let me buy a $65k townhome five minutes from the office).
- My senior bosses -- Rich and Art -- were really cool. They're still cool people. Just no longer my bosses.
- I wore a tie on my first day, and Rich said "we'll see how long that lasts."
- My interview process got off to an odd start. I met the company through one of my dad's colleagues - Buddy - who used to work for Alliance. Buddy connected me with Tom -- one of the senior staff -- for an information interview during winter break of my senior year. Tom and I had a nice chat (after I failed to fix the postage scale that fell off of Marjorie's reception desk while I was waiting), and he wanted me to have another visit with his colleague Alan who wasn't in that day. But when Gail the admin called to schedule me for a chat with Alan, she told me to plan for at least three hours. Huhn? Turns out that by then, it was a job interview.
- After the interview (in which young intern Andrew interrupted my meeting with big boss Art so that Art could throw some car keys at him), I was pretty interested. But I didn't get an offer for the longest time until I typed up a note (on a typewriter, yes) to ask if one might be coming. (Intern Andrew said that the staff had all liked me but had assumed I'd take a higher paying job in industry, so they didn't bother with an offer.)
- Picking a start date was odd, too. I figured "the working world doesn't give a lot of vacation, so I think I'll not start until like November." But they wanted me to start as soon as I graduated. We picked July 17 as a compromise, which gave me enough time for a month-long trip to Indonesia.
- By the time I started work, Buddy had rejoined Alliance and was my new boss.
- At least a half-dozen of my colleagues smoked at the office, which I didn't think was unusual. By end of summer, I turned into the "it's 4 o'clock -- go fetch some beer" boy. But that's a story for later.
Meanwhile, I'll take a moment to be thankful for all the people who got me to that first job, and all of those who helped me enjoy it for the next five years.
Photo of the Europa Center yoinked from a site that seems so cheesy, I won't even credit it. Our offices occupied most of the ground floor.
Jul 16, 2009
I can't recall his name, but we had a pleasant half-hour together last June -- hanging out in his open-air cabin alongside the Rio Cangrejal, just downhill from the Omega Jungle Lodge. The little pipe at left is his water supply. Don't ask me where it comes from. More about that afternoon, later.
These days I am of course thinking of my Honduran friends. Here are quotes from a couple of my Honduran friends (both of whom were born elsewhere but moved to Honduras as adults) who sent news within the ~72 hours after the change-of-power:
1. Incredible false reporting by CNN (Esp)! CNN (ESP) is using a voice tape of an imposter saying it is Zelaya. IT IS NOT ZELAYA, doesn't even sound like him. How irresponsible. They were using Hugo Chavez's Telesur feed in this pretend telephone interview. J says the imposter has a Ven. accent. Even I could tell it was NOT Mel Zelaya. CNN should be sanctioned before they start a war in Honduras.
2. Yay! Micheletti! Whew. As far as anyone here is concerned, this IS A GOOD THING. The entire world is mis-informed. YES, it is true that it is called a 'coup', however, there are few civilians opposed to it.Okay, NO ONE seems to be reporting things as they are... Just a few things: 1) How many 'coups' are taken over by someone from the same party 2) How many 'coups' actually had SO FEW DEATHS (yes, there is ONE now... a 19'year old, but what the %&* to you expect when there are thousands and thousands of people with opposing views, gathered together in one place with police/army with guns. AND IF THEY WERE OPEN FIRING on the crowd, I'd imagine their shot can't be that bad!!!!! 3) It's been HOW MANY DAYS SINCE THIS STARTED, AND HOW MANY DEATHS...? LITERALLY NONE 4) Whose plane did Mel try to come back on???? Chavez'. People wake up!!!!!!!! 5) HE BROKE THE CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. From my extremely knowledgeable head on politics (NOT), they are waiting for things to calm down before letting him back, and they probably won't do it if he's bringing Venezuelan backing with him..
In B-flat, "A collaborative musical/spoken word project" by Darren Solomon
In B-flat is a "collaborative musical/spoken word project" by Darren Solomon. It's brilliant. Various folks recorded riffs in the key of B-flat, and Darren assembled them into a multi-voiced web instrument that you can mix and play however you like. I started with the xylophone (upper left) plus the voice (guy with California t-shirt).
Note:each panel has an independent volume control.
Wired magazine brief notes on In B Flat
NPR notes on the strange life of B-flat, the note (not the art piece).
Jul 08, 2009
R: It's true. Nice guys finish last.
Me: So... I'm going to finish last?
R: [without pause] You're not that nice.
Dazzled into Dumb
I saw an interesting online article about teeth whitening and signed up for a great promo offer -- just $1.95 S&H from DazzleWhite. Halfway through the order process, I saw that they were texting my cell phone with reminders to complete. "OK, OK," I said, "I'm almost done."
I entered my credit card number and was grateful for the text message cease fire. And then it occurred to me -- "waitamminit -- did I just scam myself?" A few clicks of the "back" arrow confirmed that I'd just bought through an ad, not through an article. And a few more searches verified that DazzleWhite has a great record of luring folks into un-realized $60 purchases, sometimes with multiple hits. Evil genius marketing people.
So... time to talk with my bank, and maybe change my debit card, which means all the time it will take to update other online accounts, etc. etc. D'oh!
In my defense, I'd just woken up from a nap.
Jul 07, 2009
"Just Around the Corner" Independent Bookstore Video
Video by Jim Haverkamp, commissioned by the Regulator Bookshop, Durham NC.
Hat tip, Christina P. who plays one of the hot book-packers.
Jul 04, 2009
Fourth of July and Fireworks Safety in the Philippines
While the Philippines also celebrates Independence Day on July 4, Christmas and New Year's are their big fireworks season. I was there for Christmas in 1996 and remember tons of black and white safety posters plastered on walls all over town. The posters showed a four-fingered hand, with a terse warning about fireworks safety. Since then, they've gone to four-color and even more gore. Click image to be wholly grossed out.
Image from this article on fireworks injuries in the Philippines. Quote: "The total injuries [~800 between 21 Dec 2007 and 5 Jan 2008] were further broken down into 853 (98%) fireworks-related, 14 (2%) stray-bullet injuries and 2 (0.23%) watusi/firecracker powder ingestion. Three (3) deaths were reported - one died due to watusi (a kind of sparklers) poisoning and two died from non-neonatal tetanus secondary to fireworks injuries.... 35% of injuries were children 10 years of age and younger."
Jul 02, 2009
Gross Vehicle Weight, Part II -- Diet and Such
Thank you to folks who read my Gross Vehicle Weight post at the Archer Pelican and on Facebook. Some folks have asked "how did you do it?" Here's the summary answer:
- The first twenty pounds (from 172 to ~152) came off over ~2 years of modest portion control. Reminding myself to put less on my plate, and to not eat when I'm not really hungry. ~152 seemed like the new equilibrium for a while. Then I started visiting a Chinese medicine/acupuncture provider in Carrboro, to look at my ADHD and GAD issues. She recommended that I drop everything that I knew was tough on my body: refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol and dairy. And she added wheat to the mix. I didn't have stop everything 100% -- just stop as much as I could. So I did. And that knocked off another five pounds in two months. Another few pounds have fallen off while I've been doing a "yeast cleanse" of some sort.
I feel good these days. Really good. Not crazy good. But very steady and rarely gross. My body used to go into hyper-vigilance mode (elevated pulse, high blood pressure, etc.) for no good reason, or it would stay in that mode for longer than appropriate. Not so much these days. I'm very very grateful. As Dave and Barry commented, "good" dieting focuses on the benefits that are coming, rather than the food that's missing. Fortunately for me, I love most healthy foods just as much as I love the less-healthy stuff, so there's little pain from substituting a spinach and mushroom soft taco for a slice of pizza; or some fresh fruit and nuts for a Cinnabon. Guylian "no sugar" chocolate is a great treat -- but I've found that I can keep a bar of that stuff around for more than a week. I don't crave the fix.
I should mention that I used to consume a hell of a lot of candy and Diet Coke. I worried they'd be the hardest things to kick, and they were -- for about two weeks. Then suddenly, I didn't want the sugar any more. And I didn't seem to need the caffeine. While I still miss the idea of pizza and beer, I also remember how gross I felt the last time I had a pizza and beer dinner, and I don't miss that -at all-. So it's a clearly positive trade. My appetite seems to get satisfied on the new, modest portions and foods that I now give myself. This really isn't bad. Did I mention I feel good these days? Really good. Except when my 34" waistline pants fall off my butt. Then I feel kind of embarrassed :-)
Coming soon: diet, supplements and the ADHD/GAD.