:: Thursday, November 30 2006 ::
How cool is this? An interview with Robert Pirsig!
:: David (13:29 in Michigan, 19:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Liberal Education Today (written by my colleague Bryan) pointed me to the new issue of Reconstruction, which is titled Theories/Practices of Blogging. It's chock full of interesting articles about the theory and practice of blogging, and, like blogs themselves, runs the gamut from personal to totally theorized.
:: David (13:18 in Michigan, 19:18 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, November 29 2006 ::
I see that Heidi did something to break my blog, as she was the last person to make a comment, and it all went haywire. Which reminds me - an open challenge - a thrown-down gauntlet if you will - while driving through Depew, New York, which is just on the outskirts of Buffalo, we passed the most magnificent restaurant ever. It called itself an 'Italian Garden', presumably because of the statuary to be found all over, and it was truly a sight we will hold with us forever. Shortly thereafter we passed another place, decorated in a similar style, and I thought perhaps this was something Buffaloans did; however, while searching for the website I discovered both places are owned by the same magnificent people.
So where, you may be asking yourself, is the gauntlet? Well, as it happens, I know that Heidi heads over to the fine city of Buffalo on a semi-regular basis, and I believe she might be able to find the words to describe this magnificent palace of fine dining. I therefore challenge her to eat at Salvatore's, and write us all a wonderful review here, on this class act I call a blog. Photos, I think, will score bonus points.
:: David (18:23 in Michigan, 0:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Following on my last post - why was I trying to change euros to dollars? Because at some point the levy that was holding back the euro tide broke, and the dollar plunged in value. According to Yahoo, it looks like the fall happened over the weekend, when the euro went from 1.29 to 1.31. It went as high as 1.32, but now seems to be falling back slightly. These may not sound like big moves, but when you consider how much money is involved, they have a huge impact.
A more colorful description of recent events can be found in the Chicago Tribune, which stated:
Last week, as Americans sat down for Turkey Day, the dollar was getting whacked in thin foreign exchange trading. The holiday is over, but the greenback is still running around with its head cut off.The article is titled "Dollar taking it on chin against euro, pound" (and don't you just love the grammar of that title?) and it basically says 'if you're not worried, you're not paying attention'. The problem is that the fed can't really go two directions at once - lowering interest rates gets the economy moving (theoretically), raising interest rates helps the dollar (because more people want to invest in the US when the return on investment goes up, and they need to buy dollars to do so). So there's a muddle, and meanwhile the dollar sinks and sinks. Bad for some people, good for me.
:: David (7:10 in Michigan, 13:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I don't know what I was smoking when I decided that the day after getting back from a long holiday was a good day to schedule all kinds of events, but it all went down in flames when I tried to execute. Apparently I had scheduled my Japanese class for yesterday afternoon, but I ended up blowing off more than an hour of it. Then it was run around like a crazy person time: I took advantage of the warm weather to wash the Yaris, which was starting to look a little weatherbeaten after all the road tripping. Next, I headed over to pick Sasha up from the 'witch film festival' she's running this week for her students, and then we went shopping to re-stock our sadly empty fridge. And then it was time for bed. Whew!
Oh, and on top of all that, I stopped by my bank and tried to convert some more of my Euros to dollars. I say 'tried' because even though they have done the same procedure for me multiple times in the past, this time they failed utterly, finally telling me it just couldn't be done. I haven't decided how to deal with this yet - I may stop by at lunch, talk to the branch manager, and then escalate from there, or I may just take my business to another bank, and suck up the losses as the price of business. Sigh.
:: David (6:10 in Michigan, 12:10 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, November 27 2006 ::
I have been beaten to the punch, as lorhusol blogged the weekend before me.
:: David (17:51 in Michigan, 23:51 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
We made it back! We left Washington DC about twelve hours ago, and drove straight through, stopping for lunch and numerous drinks. Now we're home, the kitten is happy, and dinner is just about on the table. More soon!
:: David (15:15 in Michigan, 21:15 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, November 24 2006 ::
I've been fiddling around with my new camera, taking some photos with an automatic setting where it over- and under-exposes the picture in addition to the 'correct' exposure (i.e. the camera takes three pictures). Using software I can combine the three pictures to get a single picture where all the bits (both dark and light) come out. This is called 'HDR photography', and the image at right is my first go at it, which seems to look pretty ok (and tells you the sort of nature I've been seeing out here in western New York.
In addition to random nature, I've seen random personages, as Senator Harry Reid was at dinner at the hotel this evening, sitting at the table next to ours. We wouldn't have noticed him except that he asked the person taking a picture of our table for Sasha's mom to take the picture from a different angle so he wouldn't be in the picture. Interesting, n'est-ce pas?
:: David (17:40 in Michigan, 23:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
It was all about fermentation today, after a quick wander about Cooperstown's shopping district. We headed over to the Ommegang brewery and Fly Creek Cider Mill. We acquired more than a little alcohol, before coming back to the hotel, exhausted (both from all the exertion and from being sick, as now Sasha seems to have acquired the same illness I have).
:: David (13:11 in Michigan, 19:11 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, November 23 2006 ::
Made it safely to Cooperstown, New York, after a Thanksgiving day meal with Sasha's extended family in nearby Sharon Springs. We're set for another meal this evening, which will probably finish us off and leave us in a food coma until Saturday, when we'll head down to Washington, D.C. to see Fin, Misty, and a host of other characters. Monday is the drive back to Michigan, and after yesterday I can definitely say I'm not looking forward to it. But I figure we'll survive, and have a good time too, so it's all good!
:: David (13:26 in Michigan, 19:26 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, November 22 2006 ::
I'm typing this from the I-90 in New York - my phone still has internet access. We hit a little trouble near Buffalo, had to take a detour. So we're still on the road, but we've pretty much decided we're going to drive until Utica. I turned on the computer to see what hotels we could stay at, and thought it would be amusing to post one from the road.
:: David (13:55 in Michigan, 19:55 in Paris) - Comment
We're off to enjoy the Turkey day celebrations, in all their splendor, and in places all over the Northeastern United States. I expect the blogging will continue, but maybe not so often. Enjoy the holiday, if you have it, and if you don't, well, consider yourself lucky, as noone will be asking you to eat seventeen pounds of turkey!
:: David (3:38 in Michigan, 9:38 in Paris) - Comment
I got an exciting email recently from a company in California. About a year ago they sold me a giant wine rack. About two weeks ago they lost my personal information:
Sunday November 12th, our offices were burglarized and a computer that
contains customer user profiles was stolen. These profiles contain the
personal information provided to us during the course of most transactions,
including names, addresses, and credit card information.
While the computer's operating system is password protected, we cannot be
sure that our customer profiles and information are out of reach to the
thief.So there's a watch at the credit agencies, and I've spent a little time getting to know the various people who supply me with credit cards. I'm sure it could be a real pain in the bottom, but I'm hoping it will go no further. Meantime, we'll just wait and see.
:: David (3:35 in Michigan, 9:35 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, November 21 2006 ::
I don't know when it happened, but at some point my student loans got really expensive. The last time I checked they were costing me something like two percent per year; yesterday when I checked they were over seven percent. Ouch. So I did a little money shuffling in order to pay them down a bit. Overall I can't complain - they weren't that much, and they let me lead a pretty cushy life when I was living in Ypsilanti (home of the phallic water tower). And if you count the degree I got, they let me live in Paris for two years!
:: David (3:43 in Michigan, 9:43 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, November 20 2006 ::
So you can all share my pain this morning:
You may ask yourself... well, questions the talking heads would have you ask... or you may ask yourself how the Gummi Bears theme song gets into someone's head at 9AM on a Monday morning. I am certainly asking myself that question. But there you go - share the love!
Bouncing here and there and everywhere.
High adventure that's beyond compare.
They are the Gummi Bears.
:: David (4:00 in Michigan, 10:00 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, November 19 2006 ::
I was listening to the BBC tonight on the way home from shopping, and they were reporting on two summits currently taking place, one between the U.S. and Vietnam, and the other between China and India. Without any thought at all on my part, it was clear which one of these was more important. Which was kind of interesting to me when the part of my brain that talks to my conscious self caught on - when did things change to make what the US does seem rather unimportant as compared to the two economic powers India and China? Crazy. Bush will be travelling all over Asia - he's off to Indonesia next, but since it's all scripted, and neither side is listening, who cares? Others are now calling the shots, because the US has stopped listening and acting on what it hears. I wonder if we ever did listen?
:: David (19:43 in Michigan, 1:43 in Paris) - Comment
I realized that the update to the blogging software was going to take a lot longer than I thought, due mostly to the fact that I can't stop playing with the css long enough to finish all the other work. So I decided to put up the old comment program so that people could heckle, pester, etc. and so that I would have a reason to visit my blog other than to ogle the mybloglog pics. Frankly, comments are more fun. So they're back on, and they seem to work, and I even fixed the 'create a new account' page so folks who haven't made comments in the past can sign up. Hopefully the blog v2.0 will be finished before next year, 'cause it's going to have lots of new goodies, but at least this will put things back working, rather than broken!
:: David (6:25 in Michigan, 12:25 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
There's an article in the New York Times titled "Iowa Finds Itself Deep in Heart of Wine Country", which I at first thought was going to be a very basic story about winemaking in the Midwest. Revelation came in the third paragraph:
“I will make as much selling grape plants off of two acres this year as I did many years on 1,000 acres of corn and raising 3,000 head of hogs,” said Mr. Olson, who makes much of his money selling cuttings to other aspiring vintners.The idea that farming had gone that far down (or, alternately, that winemaking had come that far up) was staggering. Is it any wonder that all the cornfields are being converted to condos, with those sorts of economics at work?
The article also raises some other interesting points, like the fact that local winemakers are able to ride on the back of 'buy local' campaigns and environmentalism to get their products to market. It's actually quite exciting to see - the idea of some American terroir makes me smile.
:: David (5:49 in Michigan, 11:49 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, November 17 2006 ::
Wow - maybe the internet bubble really is back! According to a story on TechCrunch, Yahoo is in talks to buy MyBlogLog (the little widget on the lower left side of this page is provided by them). Given that I only heard of the company several weeks ago, that's pretty darned quick! Mind, I think it's a killer idea (and at the moment, that's all), so putting the resources of a Yahoo! behind it could be a huge thing.
:: David (20:35 in Michigan, 2:35 in Paris) - Comment
I was looking at my site statistics when an ad for DueNow.com appeared as the banner ad. The ad said something like 'I haven't written my paper, and it's due tomorrow!' and then offered to 'help' (i.e. do it for the poor student who had much too busy a social life to be bothered with homework). Having heard how terrible the papers from those sort of sites can be, I followed the link (costing them money, I hope) to the site. Sadly, no sample papers were available. Happily, I didn't really need a sample, as the web page itself made the quality pretty clear:
With our Microsoft Word package you'll have the ability to download all of our papers directly into Microsoft Word making both viewing and editting your paper quick and easy. All of the papers will come in a natural, easy-to-use, officially supported Microsoft Word format. If you use Microsoft Word for your writting, this package is highly recommended.Here's a hint, kids - if they can't be bothered to spell check their website, their papers probably aren't very good either....
:: David (11:46 in Michigan, 17:46 in Paris) - Comment
A story in the IHT says that with all the Polish plumbers gone to France, Poland is facing a labour shortage, just when it most needs labour due to the money it is set to receive as a new member of the EU. It gets even more interesting when the official rate of unemployment is higher than 10 percent, but labour can't be found - they've all gone abroad to get jobs, but file for unemployment at home to claim health insurance and other benefits.
:: David (9:28 in Michigan, 15:28 in Paris) - Comment
According to the BBC, Ségolène Royal has won her party's nomination to run for president. I would say something like 'let the beatings begin', but it really has seemed pretty clear to everyone for a while who the contenders would be, and the beatings seem to have started some time ago (isn't it always that way in politics?)
There was supposed to be a photo with this post, but my hosting company has something bizarre going on with photos, so for the moment I'll just offer a link to the Parti Socialiste's flickr photos.
:: David (2:35 in Michigan, 8:35 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, November 16 2006 ::
If it's Thursday, it must be TV night! So, after a trip to the UPS warehouse to pick up a package (we got a new computer monitor), it was off to Kevin's to partake in lots of Dr. Who and Smallville, both of which have started new seasons recently. We also ate pizza and played World of Warcraft. Overall an evening chock full of entertainment. And now off to bed, so that Friday will get here sooner!
:: David (18:42 in Michigan, 0:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, November 15 2006 ::
A story in the Washington Post confirms my earlier speculation: "Despite more than a year of trying, the network has been unable to persuade a single U.S. or Canadian cable or satellite TV system to carry it." The story contains a very interesting statement from Comcast, the US' largest cable company: "We were in discussions with them, but a decision has been made not to carry them. Beyond that, we're not commenting."
:: David (5:20 in Michigan, 11:20 in Paris) - Comment
Aw yeah! It's Al Jazeera, all the time, now in English! As no cable company in the US has picked it up (I think), they'll be available via streaming media. Head over to the Al-Jazeera website and click on 'TV news now' to watch.
:: David (3:47 in Michigan, 9:47 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, November 14 2006 ::
It isn't that there hasn't been lots happening lately, if you were all wondering why my prolific blogging seemed somewhat slackened of late - rather, it is the opposite. Work seems to be transforming constantly, and outside of that there are myriad plans to be made for the holidays (we managed to book Frequent Flier tickets to San Diego, for example). It's all madness and chaos, but quietly, as we do. Given that we are approaching midweek, I'm sure there will be lots more before too much longer. And, fear not, all, for I am still working on the comments!
:: David (19:26 in Michigan, 1:26 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, November 13 2006 ::
Apparently newegg.com, where I buy many of my electronics, was recently used in a hoax email seeking people's personal information. They have created a web page warning people of the scam, with an absolutely wonderful image of someone being scammed online. You should have a look - it is quite amusing.
:: David (5:52 in Michigan, 11:52 in Paris) - Comment
I've been pseudo-following this story on the BBC about banknotes in Germany which have turned brittle and disintegrated after being withdrawn from the ATM. Not like one or two, but rather hundred and hundreds. Now the BBC is reporting that Der Spiegel has the answer:
For those keeping score, these folks are quite literally putting money up their noses....
Users of the drug crystal methamphetamine may be causing euro banknotes to disintegrate, German police have told Der Spiegel magazine.
Sulphates used in the production of the drug could form sulphuric acid when mixed with human sweat, they say, causing banknotes to corrode.
:: David (3:15 in Michigan, 9:15 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, November 12 2006 ::
We had quite a busy Saturday, thank you very much, what with taking over the world (civilization style), going shopping, going to an office party to celebrate some recent weddings (mine included), and then coming home and building a new armoire/entertainment center thingy. We finished up so late we decided to skip dinner and just turn in. But now we have all of Sunday to try and make the place neat again, and now we have more storage space to do it with. Hooray!
:: David (7:13 in Michigan, 13:13 in Paris) - Comment
My goodness! I feel as though I've stepped into the big time with my new hosting service - I had file permission problems with the blog software, which had to be reset using a swanky web interface. Way too high tech for me! But it looks as though the blog posting software is back up and running, so now all I need to do is fix the comments. That could be trickier, but I think I can work it out!
:: David (7:07 in Michigan, 13:07 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, November 10 2006 ::
Well, I've decided to go ahead and move my hosting over. This will take a little work to get right, so for the moment I'm going to disable comments (they wouldn't work on the new system anyhow). Obviously this will be the last post for a little while, although I'm hopeful to have everything working again by Sunday night. If things go pear-shaped you'll know what happened....
:: David (11:01 in Michigan, 17:01 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, November 9 2006 ::
My current ISP just sent me a bill for 20 pounds, so I think I'm going to move the domain before I have the blog software up and running. Perhaps I'll spend the weekend doing silly things. Perhaps.
:: David (15:07 in Michigan, 21:07 in Paris) - Comment
Heh. The cats have a friend in the new speaker of the house. I'm in ur house, impeachin' ur prez.
:: David (12:03 in Michigan, 18:03 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, November 8 2006 ::
I've got to head to the dentist in about twenty minutes, to get some fillings replaced. This means, of course, drilling. Yuck. I hate drilling with a passion, which makes it more than a little ironic that I have so darned many fillings. You'd think I would have put the whole 'brushing and flossing' thing together with the drilling thing years ago. But then, I was always a little slow sometimes.
:: David (13:40 in Michigan, 19:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, November 7 2006 ::
Since it seems I'm destined to reference this in conversations for the rest of the year, at least, here's a link to a bunch of goofy cat pictures. Be sure to check out ceiling cat, 'cause he's the one I talk about.
:: David (14:20 in Michigan, 20:20 in Paris) - Comment
Should it scare me that if you search for "anything on the computer about a hedgehog's habitat" on google, mine is the top entry?
:: David (13:59 in Michigan, 19:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, November 6 2006 ::
This is about the funniest thing I've seen in ages: techcrunch pointed me to a site called Jellyfish where they acquire a number of some item, then start the price at full retail and slowly lower it. You can buy at any time, but if you wait too long, the item sells out. Sounds straightforward so far. The fun part is that they have a live chat running, so people can talk to each other as they watch the price fall, e.g. 'wait for $150' and the classy reply 'if they say wait for $150 they're buying at $160'. It's something of a train wreck, but I'm a gawker, I admit.
:: David (13:39 in Michigan, 19:39 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, November 5 2006 ::
We headed to Kalamazoo this weekend. The original plan was to play games with a friend of mine, but the whole party called in sick. I went anyway, figuring since I had already made plans it behooved me to see the family. Which I did, for the most part. As always, I overloaded, so our six o'clock dinner plans were fast looking like midnight dinner plans, until I cancelled out the visit to my sister's house (which was too bad - I had been hoping to spend some time with the children). So we had a nice dinner with Tammy and George, and ended up playing games anyhow, just in a different location. We got back around three this morning.
Today was supposed to be a trip up to Lansing, as my friend works at the particle accelerator at Michigan State University, and they were having an open house. Unfortunately, the previous day's exertions proved too much for me, and we stayed close to home, doing some shopping for the week and otherwise sticking to the homestead. Overall a more or less uneventful, but entertaining weekend. The possible high point of the weekend would probably be my uncle recounting his experiences as a national guardsman during the 1967 riots in Detroit.
:: David (20:30 in Michigan, 2:30 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, November 4 2006 ::
There's an excellent, long article about G.B. Trudeau over at the Washington Post, which ranges all over the 35+ year history of Doonesbury, but paying special attention to his recent story arc about a soldier who loses a limb in Iraq. It's well worth a read if you have the time.
:: David (10:09 in Michigan, 16:09 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, November 3 2006 ::
Wow! The NYT has an article today about Office Live, which I've been hearing about forever, but I hadn't realized how cool it was. For free (yes, FREE) Microsoft will give you a domain name with a website and email accounts. Now, don't get me wrong, most of this isn't rocket science, but the domain name is cool. You do have to give them a credit card, but since they very clearly state the service is free, and make quite clear when you stray into a paid service, and because it's Microsoft, and they have better ways to steal my money than credit card fraud, I didn't feel too bad about it. If you want your own, head over to the Office Live website!
:: David (16:09 in Michigan, 22:09 in Paris) - Comment
While wandering around the mybloglog world, N'ayez pas peur pointed me to a Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents that Reporters Without Borders has made available. The blurb states:
This referral came in the context of publicizing an event Reporters Without Borders is holding, "24 heures contre la censure sur Internet" (or in English, a 24-hour online demo against Internet censorship) to take place between 11 a.m. November 7th and 11 a.m. on the 8th.
Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.
Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship
:: David (14:57 in Michigan, 20:57 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, November 1 2006 ::
I guess this was reported in the Ann Arbor News, but since I can't bring myself to read that fine example of journalism I had to find it on Auto Blog Green. It seems that Ann Arbor, the city in which I live, is to get its very own set of zipcars. This is basically a car rental system where you fill out the paperwork once, then have access to the car anytime, paying by the day or hour. It's a nice idea for people who don't have a car but need to get some shopping done or things like that. Or it would be, if it weren't eight dollars per hour and sixty bucks per day. Maybe I'm just cheap, but it seems like that's a bit steep for a run to the store, where you will probably spend more than one hour. I suppose if you do it once a week, and get everything done in an efficient manner, it wouldn't be too bad, but it still seems like something that could be done much more cheaply....
:: David (14:19 in Michigan, 20:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments