Nov 19, 2009
I want to thank you, thank you...Thank you to all the lovely people who sent me birthday greetings last week. It was overwhelmingly wonderful to get so many well-wishes, and I guess I should also thank Facebook for making it so easy to feel so good.
To express my thanks more melodically, let me recruit the help of Natalie Merchant who does it perfectly, starting at the 2:40 mark of Kind and Generous :
For Facebook folks who can't see the embedded video, click here please.
Sort of related: a certain friend of mine once referred to Natalie as "bone ugly". I disagreed both then and now but speaking of other short, dark-skinned women of a similar shape: tonight I saw Ugly Betty for the first time. Holy cow that show is good. Then I watched part of the new show Community and thought it was really sharp. Then I watched part of 30 Rock (perhaps my fourth episode ever). Where did all this amazing television come from?!?!
Nov 10, 2009
The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything
For Facebook readers who can't see the embedded video, click here.
Today is much more amusing than the advent of my Jesus year :-) Shout out to mom and dad!
By the way, I haven't seen The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Just this clip. Is it representative?
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 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.
Jul 08, 2009
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 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."
Jun 30, 2009
Michael Jackson / Michael Jordan
Where were you when the Thriller video debuted? On midnight, 2 Dec 1983, I was in the Third Bryan lounge with all my hallmates and our RA, gathered around the TV set. It was awesome. I seem to recall that MTV showed it twice in a row.
With this week's news, one of my Facebook friends said "The Michael Jackson I loved died long ago." Another said, "The Michael Jackson I loved will never die."
Below, some atypical footage in which Michael Jackson talks like a human being and Michael Jordan is awkward. This is a "the making of" video. Finished version of the Michaels dancing is here.
Jun 21, 2009
سعيد عيد الأب -- Happy Father's Day!
This Father's Day, my folks happen to be touring Egypt. I think that's awesome.
While my dad is not Indiana Jones, he is very much a hero to me. Today I don't have sufficient words to praise my father, but Barry does for his. And Doc has a wonderful list for his. Like Barry and Doc, I count myself among the luckiest of sons. May I keep compassion for those sons and daughters who didn't have it so good.
Above, (not) a photo of my dad emailed by my mom. Blog title in Arabic via Google Translate.
Jun 09, 2009
What Counts More
I'm housesitting near Duke East Campus this summer, and biking to work downtown. This morning my partner Adam happened to drive by my apartment just as I was leaving and I figured we ought race. I cut through a construction site. He went the regular way and pulled into the back parking lot as I whipped around to the front door.
I got in first -- yippee! Adam walked in the back door a long 60 seconds later. "What took you?" I asked. "I was on the phone with Heather," he said. "My wife is more important than winning.” Heh
May 11, 2009
"Chalkmark -- When You Forget to Care Enough to Send the Very Best"
I forget to get a Mother's Day card but had found some sidewalk chalk at the house where I'm currently sitting. Scribbled this out just before the folks showed up for lunch.
Dad took porch pix of me and mom (on his camera, therefore not shared). Then mom took some pix of me and dad after I strategically placed a piece of paper marked "DAD" and another piece marked "FA".
"Philin" is my parents' nickname for me, in case you didn't know.
Apr 28, 2009
iPhone on Verizon? My Wallet is Toast
-- Verizon Said to be in Talks with iPhone. NYTimes, 28 Apr 2009
I may be assimilated... Friends and colleagues are all moving to the iPhone, and my top objection (they're only on AT&T) is looking to disappear. My second objection (I'd probably break it) is also fading as I see more people using them, while hearing few (if any) stories about scratches and cracks.
I'm very happy with Verizon coverage (even though it costs a ton more than AT&T), and I'm very happy with my BlackBerry email access. But the BlackBerry camera just sucks. So...
Image from iPhone Can Connect to Anything. The key is my favorite.
Apr 13, 2009
Chapel Hill Parkour
Check out this video from TK17, son of my friend Christian:
Update: RTParkour Meetup
Mar 09, 2009
Tyler Hansbrough = John Travolta?
Great photo by Mark Dolejs at the Herald-Sun, whom I praise for running it along with their article on The (Basketball) Game.
Mar 08, 2009
Vivek Kundra CIO/BIO fail
Last week the prez named Vivek Kundra as the Federal Chief Information Officer, saying: "Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position. I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. As chief information officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible."
I thought I'd see what Vivek was about:
But when I clicked on the number one Google result:
Mar 03, 2009
Custom Painter -- Fancy or Plain. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham or Raleigh
Posting for my friend K whom you should hire if you need interior panting.
Beautiful interior wall painting by a professional painter and artist. I'll put my passion for color and detail to work on your walls. I'm fast, clean, accurate, and reliable, with competitive rates. I'm available for color consulting, basic painting, original faux textures, geometric patterns, or special designs. To schedule a visit, please call 919/259.3949 or email.
For a sense of her sensibilities, here is an interior:
With a closeup of the custom-designed stencils in the hallway:
And some decoupage boxes, why not:
The City at the Straits
Twenty years ago I attended a climate change forum at NC State. Al Gore bored us with his hockey stick, but I still remember the slides from a NOAA guy who showed us possible scenarios for 21st century climate. Every slide said one thing -- buy rural land in Canada, our next Sun Belt. But today's news suggests another option for those who prefer city life:
By Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune correspondent
January 29, 2009
DETROIT — It may be tough to get financing for a new car these days, but in Detroit you can buy a house with a credit card.
The median price of a home sold in Detroit in December was $7,500, according to Realcomp, a listing service.
Not $75,000. Remove a zero—it's seven thousand five hundred dollars, substantially less than the lowest-price car on the new-car market.
If the Obama administration is looking for a city to test new ideas for chronic urban problems, it can look to Detroit, a northern New Orleans without the French Quarter. While bedrock poverty in the Crescent City was violently laid bare by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Detroit has been quietly slipping into social and economic crisis for 40 years. One-third of the population lives in poverty, and almost 50 percent of children are in poverty, according to data from the Detroit-Area Community Indicators System. Median household income has dropped 24 percent since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.
Detroit, which has lost half its population in the past 50 years, is deceptively large, covering 139 square miles. Manhattan, San Francisco and Boston could, as a group, fit inside the city's boundaries. There is no major grocery chain in the city, and only two movie theaters. Much of the neighborhood economy revolves around rib joints, hot dog stands and liquor stores. The candidates travel around this sprawling city, some invoking the nostalgic era of Big Three dominance and vowing that Detroit can be great again.
"Detroit will never be the great industrial center again," said Kevin Boyle, a Detroit native and author of "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age."
"What will it look like?" Boyle said. "I don't know."
I visited Detroit in 1994 and was amazed at how clean the river was. How they continue to support a hockey team is beyond me. Then again, I don't know how the Triangle ever supported one (given the ticket prices and the number of seats) but the Canes are still here.
Hat tip to Brian
Photo yoinked from this interesting blogger.
Jan 07, 2009
Where More Credit is Due
An emerging thought:
In America it seems to me that we often give too little respect to how hard things can be: whether the length of time it takes to mourn a lost relative, or how difficult it is to find the courage to apologize, or how scary it is to leave a job or a relationship.
That said, it also seems that we have to little faith in how strong we can be: whether in the ability to keep functioning while taking the time to cry, or the resolve to push our way through to saying what needs to be said, or the will to walk out a door and to keep walking while everything tries to pull you back.
I could be wrong, but that's the way it seems to me.