Oct 25, 2009
Durham Skate Park at Central Park
~30 skaters this afternoon at the Durham Skate Park, downtown at Central Park. I don't think it's officially open (what with the "do not enter" signage and the construction equipment) but the neighbors directly across the street at the Durham Police Department District 5 substation don't seem to object.
~30 skaters this afternoon: ~5 Afro-American, ~5 Latino, remaining caucasian. All male.
Ages: 12 to 35.
Geographics: some local, some clearly not (overheard: "I'm from Morrisville", "Durham's got a reputation so I've got to mind my f**king cigs. Goddammit. I hope you f**king enjoyed them, whoever stole them" and "where do you get something to eat around here?"
Safety equipment of choice: none to be seen.
Drinks of choice: McDonalds (four cups), Jimmy Johns (one cup), and Cristalino sparkling wine (two bottles, no brown paper bag, and did I mention that it's across the street from a a Durham police substation?)
Links: Bull City Rising on the skatepark planning and design. Per the Durham Parks and Rec page, "Features include a floating quarter pipe, launch boxes, step-up bank, 3-seven step stairs with handrails, a street clam, and an 8 inch trog bowl." And the Durham skatepark's unofficial MySpace page (Age: 36, Mood: stoked)
Please pardon the crap pix from my otherwise useful Blackberry.
Oct 24, 2009
A Singular Window
Now and then I see something and think, "you know -- those things weren't around before our time, and they won't be around after." My list, so far, of stuff that will only exist within the 50 to 150 year window we're in at the moment.
Fifteen year old virgins. In agrarian times, fifteen year olds were plenty old enough for marriage. In the latter half of the twentieth century, a whole lot of states considered it illegal for fifteen year olds to be having sex. These days, parents are fighting a losing effort to keep their high schoolers from sleeping with each other.
Cars with internal combustion engines. Before the 20th century, they didn't exist in quantity. Before long, I suspect that climate/cost concerns plus improved battery technology will take the IC engine off the road.
Lifetime employment with large corporations. That window opened and shut within two generations.
Common folk traveling to see something radically new. Before the middle of the 20th century, very few regular folk could travel far from home to see something very very different. Today, millions of Americans regularly travel to South America, Europe and Asia to some very new things. But I suspect in a few decades, we'll have the technology to "walk" the streets of Rio, Nice and Karachi from the comfort of our own living rooms. We'll have local access to the foods and styles of everywhere, as will they. So sure, we'll be able to travel to Moscow or Jakarta in 2080. But it won't seem nearly as special as a trip would, today.
Marriage for love that lasts forever. Nineteenth century marriages were much more practical than romantic. 21st century marriages are less likely to last forever. (See report: Marriage's Best Days Have Gone By)
America is the world's only superpower. You don't need to read Paul Kennedy to know it won't last forever. And you don't need to be a radical to think the monopoly will last much longer.
Penny loafers, mullets, and pet rocks. I'm pretty sure about at least two of those.
Additions or arguments?
Popular Science scan from the Modern Mechanix blog.
Oct 23, 2009
Measurements on the Fly
Greetings from airTran flight 305, Denver to Atlanta*. I'm having my first airline Wi-Fi experience and I like it. I definitely like it better than the crazy vibe that marred our last moments at the gate -- with several attendants rushing and barking at passengers who couldn't find space for their bags.
My Denver friend Ken is a first officer for a major airline, and just this week he was telling me about one of the industry's particular stupids. It turns out that crew ratings (and their bonuses) are highly dependent on their on-time departure numbers, so they work like crazy to make their schedule, and often piss off passengers in the process. They get left at the gate, or run like cattle in the plane. In theory, the airlines want on-time departures because passengers say they want them.
The error, as Ken points out, is that passengers don't really care about departure times. They care about arrival times -- making connections and getting home (or to meetings) on schedule. Pilots can make up a lot of time in the air, so a few minutes on the ground aren't a big deal -- especially if you communicate. "Hello folks. We're a few minutes late taking off, but don't worry -- we've got good weather over Nebraska and have found a route that will get you to Atlanta right on time."
Related: Ken also wants supermarket cashiers to skip the price check when there are long lines. For as much money as the store spends to get you there -- why hold up the world while someone checks whether a can of beans is $1.29 (like the scanner says) or $1.19 (like the customer thought it said at the aisle)? Instead -- spend the dime. Move the line. Trust the customer and let them tell their friends how "Safeway took my word over the computer -- there's still hope for humanity!"
*continuing to Rio de Janiero. Dang! If only I could stay on -- especially since I'm in business class today -- but I'm switching planes and heading home to Durham. See you there soon, if there's where you are.
Photo from Paul Stamatiou's blog, with an in-depth description of how airline WiFi works, and a screenshot of his speedtest numbers (1.52 to 2.6 MBPS down). My only bummer is that there are no electric plugs and my Lenovo has ween batteries... but I'll live. For Atlanta to RDU, I can continue reading Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, while stretching my legs in a reclining emergency-row seat (yes, I'm a 5'6" traveler who'll grab the good seats any time he can.)
Oct 22, 2009
Denver of the Wacky Weather
Same hammock, today:
Perfect for snowballs, by the way -- many of which I threw after brunch and dinner.
I do love Denver, along with my dear friends who I come to visit when I can. If only I could take the best of Denver, San Francisco, Portland OR, Asheville and Providence and bring them home to Durham... I'd be so pleased.
Oct 07, 2009
Here Comes the Sun -- George Harrison and Paul Simon
For Facebook readers who aren't seeing the embedded video, click here.
We've had some grey days lately. Not cold, but grey and a little bit wet -- the kind of mix that can send me confused in October when I'm fretting that the warm days are gone.
I'm grateful for today's sun and warmth. And for this performance which I first saw in the early 90s. Didn't see it again until recently. In my memory, the Harrison's harmonies were more distinct and more frequent. But I'm OK with the tease, so long as the sun is out.
Oct 06, 2009
If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going
If you are going through hell, keep going.
- Winston Churchill.
Rodney Atkins provides the country version of the Churchill quote. Like many country singers, Atkins uses some, um, "least common denominator" language to get his point across. And like many country songs, this one makes pretty decent sense.
*In case you're wondering what tax lawyers do, in addition to making movies like The Firm, here's something from the Missouri Bar Bulletin.
Published on: 1/1/2006 Stanley Weiner
The seeds of what would become Missouri's IOLTA program were planted in the early 1980s, when the Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar asked Kansas City attorney Stanley P. Weiner, a member of the firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, to chair a Special Task Force on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts.
The Board charged the task force with looking into the feasibility of establishing an IOLTA program - a concept already operational in several states - in Missouri.
"I was appointed to chair the task force because IOLTA had a significant tax issue, and I'm a tax attorney," Weiner recently recalled with a laugh."The analogy that tax people use is that 'whoever owns the tree pays taxes on the fruit.' When clients have their money in a trust account with an attorney, they own the tree.Theoretically, they should pay income tax on the earnings in that trust account.That was the tax issue.
"Because of the fact that the amounts of money that would be generated in terms of [interest] income to clients are so small, and because attorneys combine many of their trust account monies together, the result is that accounting for who has $2.14 of interest on the $1,000 they left in a trust account for two months is just too expensive.Up until IOLTA, these trust account funds were put in non-interest bearing accounts because attorneys could not keep the interest themselves - it wasn't their money and it was unethical," Weiner said.
"It was Florida that came up with the idea of changing it so that the income could be sent to IOLTA without accounting for the income as the client's," he added.The Florida program was also aided by a favorable Internal Revenue Service ruling stating that the interest generated by client funds held in an interest-earning trust account does not belong to the client.
At the request of the Board of Governors, Weiner traveled to Florida to further investigate the operation of that program.
Joining Weiner on the fact-finding mission was Richard F. Halliburton, executive director of Legal Aid of Western Missouri. ... Weiner and Halliburton, along with the other members of the task force, then prepared a recommendation for a voluntary IOLTA program. ... "When the Supreme Court adopted the Board of Governors' recommendation, Missouri became the 30th state to adopt IOLTA," Weiner said. ... "Glenn shared the Foundation's emphasis that a minimal staff was essential," Weiner added. ... "It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years."
Oct 05, 2009
For my pal Grace, who had a real hurricane* named after her this year:
The 2009 list of tropical storms / hurricanes, If pirates ran the World Meteorological Association:
- Hurricane Arrrrthur
- Grace o' my Harrrrrt.
Rumor has it that 2010 will be named by old school developers. Hacked out of somebody's core dump, planned names include: Hurricanes ASCII, BASIC, C++, DevJam** and EPROM.
Recent excavations in northern Sinai have revealed two seasons from antiquity, when Mediterranean storms were apparently more common than now. One season included tropical storms Anubis, Bal, Carnac, and Darius.*** Another season included Avraham, Binyamin, Chaim, and Dori. It is not yet known whether these two seasons represented a time of peaceful power sharing between the Egyptians and the Israelites, or a wresting of power from one by the other.
*From the National Hurricane Center, this morning at 11: ..."GRACE SHOULD BE ABSORBED BY A FRONT BY TUESDAY MORNING." BTW on the Grace of my Heart soundtrack - do LPs spin the other way around, south of the equator?
**suggested by some old guy from OpenNMS.
***"Detroit" appeared before "Darius" but was crossed out. Similarly, "Delicatessen" was crossed out in the second list.