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:: Sunday, August 31 2008 ::

An article in the local paper notes that during and after hurricane Katrina "an estimated 1,800 evacuees fled from the Gulf Coast to Conway", and details their plans to make a possible repeat happen more smoothly. With New Orleans having been evacuated again, I wonder if we'll see folks here?
:: David (2:44 in Michigan, 8:44 in Paris) - Comment

Despite not having tickets, I was able to see OK Go this evening. As it happened, the opener was a dancing contest among the students of the college, pants-less (well, they do wear shorts). So all in all an... eventful evening.
:: David (0:50 in Michigan, 6:50 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, August 29 2008 ::

McCain gets some bonus points, both for his message yesterday congratulating Obama, and apparently for picking a woman as his running mate. It seemed official on the radio, but the web seems to be a bit behind, so I'm not positive it's the truth, but it appears Sarah Palin of Alaska will be the Republican VP pick. As folks on the radio noted, each of the candidates has picked their opponent as their VP, effectively, with Obama choosing age and experience, and McCain apparently choosing youth and star power (or so I am told).
:: David (10:50 in Michigan, 16:50 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Thursday, August 28 2008 ::

So that was a pretty good speech, huh?
:: David (23:17 in Michigan, 5:17 in Paris) - Comment

You may remember I mentioned the UCA president was in a bit of trouble down here. Well, he's apparently just resigned for health reasons. They broke in to whatever NPR was playing to let everyone know.
:: David (14:58 in Michigan, 20:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Wednesday, August 27 2008 ::

Our friend Kevin sent me a fun link to a (thought experiment?) which involves having someone wear a camera mounted on their back, and a pair of video goggles, which allows them to see themselves as they would in a video game. The video is a laugh riot. But in the wider context of augmented reality (see this video for a demonstration), it makes me very curious as to where games, and life, might be headed....
:: David (11:39 in Michigan, 17:39 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, August 26 2008 ::

Harper's magazine rolled in this month with a very exciting article (to me) about the role of Kaplan, a private corporation, in American education post-No Child Left Behind. In the article, Kaplan is compared to Blackwater in Iraq - a contractor with no checks on their ability to write their own mandate (and paycheck). It appears Kaplan was not amused, calling the author a 'disgruntled former employee with a personal agenda'. You can read a significant chunk of the article here.
:: David (17:10 in Michigan, 23:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

Bernard-Henri Lévy has written a long post on his view of the war between Russia and Georgia. Interesting in part because, despite his bias, he seemed to be present for some serious events, and firsthand accounts are always interesting.
:: David (16:55 in Michigan, 22:55 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 25 2008 ::

Read the BBC to see what prompted Willy Miller, a Scottish cattle farmer, to say "I've never noticed that my cows all face the same way." It's actually a more interesting story than this blurb might suggest.
:: David (23:50 in Michigan, 5:50 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

I can't believe anything ever got done before the internet! Today I had a couple house-related tasks I wanted to get done - some pest control for our little bug problem, and someone to look at our turbine vents. Coincidentally, the yellow pages were delivered today, so I thought I would use them. Except they cover several hundred miles, so finding someone close to the house was tough. And I had no idea who was good. So I gave up on the analog approach, hit Angie's List to see if there were any highly rated companies in my area, then busted out Google Maps to see who was closest. Internets FTW!!!
:: David (23:40 in Michigan, 5:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Warning: Geeky post follows.

I have spent the last few days trying to find a new firmware for my wireless router, the WRT54G. The eventual goal is to have both an open wireless network and a private network, so that my bank info isn't being transmitted in the open all the time. But the first firmware I tried, dd-wrt, brought the wireless network to its knees (and made the movie we rented on iTunes not download until the next day, which was very sad). So I took us back to the stock firmware, and will be trying a different option.
:: David (23:08 in Michigan, 5:08 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, August 23 2008 ::

Another musical interlude: if you need proof that living in Japan makes you crazy, check out this ticket from the Bryan Adams concert I went to in Fukuoka in 2000. Even at the time I remember I felt a little weird....
:: David (0:33 in Michigan, 6:33 in Paris) - Comment

I believe Washington Mutual bank may have a permanent enemy in me, because their recent ad has caused me to have Twisted Sister stuck in my head. *shakes fist at sky* Whyyyy!?
:: David (0:20 in Michigan, 6:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Friday, August 22 2008 ::

I love this story about high school students doing a quick and dirty DNA sequence on local fish to see if what was on the label (or menu) was actually what they were eating. The answer: usually not. My favourite example: "Seven of nine samples that were called red snapper were mislabeled, and they turned out to be anything from Atlantic cod to Acadian redfish, an endangered species." I would prefer, however, not to think about the implications of mail-order DNA sequencing, because I'm sure there's a dark, dark possibility on the horizon there....
:: David (15:31 in Michigan, 21:31 in Paris) - Comment

How in the world did it get to be Friday so fast? Holy cow! I've been keeping busy of late working my way through a book on MS Project, which is one of those pieces of software everyone loves to ask if you know, because they're sure it must in some way be important. So far I've managed to plan a pizza party (I didn't write the book, people, I'm just following along!)
:: David (15:20 in Michigan, 21:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Thursday, August 21 2008 ::

Jason pointed out something I had recently also noticed - I seem to be blogging less, despite all my free time. I think this is in part a function of my device of choice, which is my phone, not my computer. Additionally, we're still having some teething pains with the wireless keyboard on the Mac, which means sometimes when I type on it te wrds al hve mssig ltters. I've also been keeping bizarrely busy since we got into the new house, mostly doing homeowner-y types of things. Today, for example, I took an inventory of the 30-odd cans of paint in the tool shed, looking for the one used to paint the dining room... then I read the Economist, which was less work-y. In part, I find if I don't have a list of things to do the day gets whittled away by minutia, so I've of late either (a) been working to a list, or (b) been whittling the day away with minutia. There's also just so much left to do - the office is a pile of wires six feet on a side, for example. We'll see if this keeps up, though, to be fair, at any moment I could find myself working again (or at least interviewing again).
:: David (15:06 in Michigan, 21:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, August 19 2008 ::

Oh boy! Local political dirt! It seems the president of UCA (that'd be the University of Central Arkansas) may be in some trouble, and the local republican state Senator seems to be involved too. What fun!

A related article seems to indicate the board of trustees (who could fire the president) won't be taking action, which would be interesting. I'm not totally clear what the starting point of the story was, though it seems to have involved a lot of money.
:: David (18:43 in Michigan, 0:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Intel's Chairmen of the Board, Craig Barrett, fired off a round at the US government today from an unexpected place: the Intel Developer Forum - a conference generally devoted to topics of deep tech. According to Tom's Hardware, "Barrett discussed at length the need for R&D and innovation and slated the U.S. for not recognising how important these were to the future competitiveness of the country". He also "pointed out how much funding was being taken up by the war in Iraq."
:: David (15:29 in Michigan, 21:29 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 18 2008 ::

If AT&T ever wants to know why I canceled my account, tell them it was because it took me 40 minutes (and seven seconds) to pay my final bill through their customer support line. I spoke to four agents and at least as many 'automated' systems. The only good part about the whole thing was that, unlike in France, it was a free call.
:: David (10:49 in Michigan, 16:49 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, August 17 2008 ::

I dipped a toe into local government recently, going to a meeting of folks who want to make Conway a bike-friendly town. The local newspaper has the scoop. I'm hoping to pick up a corollary topic, as the city could also use some work re: pedestrian traffic (i.e. there aren't sidewalks - I kid you not). We actually had to disregard basically all the new construction in town because we couldn't see any way to get anywhere on foot. It seems there's a law that new stuff has to have sidewalks, but since there's nothing about filling in the old, the sidewalks don't really go anywhere.
:: David (23:18 in Michigan, 5:18 in Paris) - Comment

A visual smörgåsbord for you this fine evening - what we've been up to recently.

First and foremost, I have discovered that if you offer things up for free, people will come and take them away. This started with our moving boxes (of which there were apparently two hundred). A woman came with a friend and made them all vanish. Hooray! But this will not be as great as the victory I am hoping for tomorrow: someone has said they will come and take the swingset away! Unlike Johnny Five, I am saying 'yes - disassemble!' in regard to the behemoth in the backyard. It came with the house, somewhat unexpectedly, and having mowed around it once, I decided it needed to die go away.

In addition to the give-away-fest, or perhaps more accurately, in a parallel give-away-fest where we give away money in exchange for items, we have started the antique binge which is sure to continue until we run out of money (because I don't think we're destined to run out of space here). The first item is a wood buffet which will sit next to our wooden dining table in our wood-laden room, creating the mother of all fire hazards. Actually, it isn't as bad as I jokingly describe it, though I am sure my friends who are into more modern dining arrangements are having a heart attack. This is quite nearly the last large piece of furniture we need - apparently we had a five bedroom house worth of furniture jammed into our two-bedroom apartment in Ann Arbor.

:: David (1:13 in Michigan, 7:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, August 16 2008 ::

Sasha just pointed out to me that Michael Phelps, winner so far of 7 gold medals this olympics, could have been (but wasn't) her student at U of M. Small world.
:: David (20:47 in Michigan, 2:47 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, August 13 2008 ::

The leader of the Arkansas Democratic party has been shot dead in his office.
:: David (18:57 in Michigan, 0:57 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

So my friend Holly always used to tell me about finding rattlesnakes in the backyard, and quietly, in the back of my mind, I was thinking 'what kind of crazy person lives where there can be rattlesnakes in the backyard?'

Today, I was prepping to mow the lawn, and for some reason the previous owner of the house had put a giant stone right where the fence door is. So I moved the giant rock. And then I peered in to have a look at what could be seen under the rock I had moved. And I saw a large black spider. With red markings. And I thought 'wouldn't it be funny if...' and I leaned closer to have a better look. And there was the hourglass. And I decided that this area probably belonged to her, and I should go.

So now I, too, live in a crazy place.
:: David (18:30 in Michigan, 0:30 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[6]

I ran across an interesting report recently, concerning how well forests deal with greenhouse gases. According to a report recently released in Australia, old growth forests are three times as effective at dealing with CO2. It's pretty obvious, if you think about it, but it's nice to have some data backing that up.
:: David (12:25 in Michigan, 18:25 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 11 2008 ::

I had originally planned, when we moved into the new house, to get a push mower for the lawn. When we arrived, I realized that our yard was... large. Larger than I had remembered. And suddenly the push mower didn't seem like such a great idea. So we went for the next best thing: an electric mower. We forked over the (excessive amount of) money, drove it back, I unpacked it, put it on the charger, and left it sit until today, when I finally decided to try it out. I actually got a little carried away, and did much of the yard, which given that the grass was wet was something of an achievement for our little mower. It's quite a change in some ways from a gas powered mower - the instant-on/instant-off takes some getting used to. But in some bizarre way I'm really pleased to have a lawn to mow. I'm fairly certain this will wear off quickly.
:: David (19:21 in Michigan, 1:21 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, August 10 2008 ::

I assume you've all been following the conflict between Russia and Georgia. It has been really interesting to me to watch this play out, as I have no idea whatsoever what is really going on. I don't have a news source I trust completely, and those that I trust somewhat seem as confused as I am. According to Le Monde, various meetings of international organizations are taking place (the UN, EU, etc.) but noone seems quite sure what to do. Russia is also, interestingly, trying to place blame on the Ukraine's shoulders as well as Georgia's. Haaretz, a left-ish Israeli newspaper, has a deeper analysis of the war explaining some of the background and possible strategies that have led to this point. They even, interestingly, assert that the timing, coincidental with the Olympic games, may be intentional. Certainly it appears that there are no 'good guys' in this conflict - I especially found interesting the point that Moscow may have provided passports to Georgians, then said it was 'defending Russian citizens'.
:: David (1:00 in Michigan, 7:00 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, August 9 2008 ::

I don't care what you say - Snoop is AMAZING! Now he's gone all Bollywood on us! Who saw that coming?
:: David (0:02 in Michigan, 6:02 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, August 6 2008 ::

Today I paid the assessment on my car. Apparently Arkansas used to have an MOT test of sorts, requiring an annual exam to see if the car was roadworthy. But under Huckabee, that was repealed, and at some point (possibly immediately - I don't know) replaced by a property tax. So each year, according to some odd schedule that must relate to some fiscal year I've never heard of, you have to pay property tax on your car, based on the make, model, year, and mileage (I guess). For reasons that escape me, the office in charge of automobiles here (the OMV, or Office of Motor Vehicles) is not the same as the office you usually transact your business at, which is called the Revenue Office (at least they're clear about that), and as it turns out neither of those is where you pay the property tax on your car. Riiiight. But I found it, so soon my car will be all nice and legal here in AR.
:: David (23:54 in Michigan, 5:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

So all the stuff arrived Monday, and in the triple digit heat was carried into the house by our friendly movers. Now the house is full of boxes. I mean, quite literally, full of boxes - we've more or less resigned several rooms to the mess. Honestly, if they hadn't delivered our furniture, if they had only arrived with our boxes, we could have built all we need out of cardboard. It's crazy.
:: David (10:13 in Michigan, 16:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

:: Sunday, August 3 2008 ::

If the blog stopped working for you for a bit, it was probably because of a bug involving one of my widgets. If you use Firefox (which you should, IMO), please disregard this message.
:: David (21:03 in Michigan, 3:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Saturday, August 2 2008 ::

One of the many sights one can take in while in the area is Branson, Missouri - famed for Silver Dollar City, and perhaps more importantly, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show. But if we should decide to head on up for some wholesome family fun, the first place I'm headed is Pirate's Cove 'Adventure Golf'!
:: David (17:03 in Michigan, 23:03 in Paris) - Comment

Were one to ask the cat her opinion on our recent move to Arkansas, I imagine she would offer up the details of what was clearly an elaborate plot to kill her: "first, they took me out of my apartment, and when I came back all my stuff was gone. Then they drugged me and stuck me in a cage for 16 hours. Once I arrived they had vicious attack fleas try to eat me alive, and then they covered me with this irritating goop for a full day. Then they shut down the air conditioning when it was one hundred degrees outside, and finally, horror of horrors, they gave me a BATH!"

In our defense, we did not realize the dog the previous owners of the house had would leave a little present of fleas in all of the carpeted areas. Nor did we expect, any more than she, the blackout that happened this morning, presumably due to the heat (according to weather.com, it's 99 (37 C) and feels like 108 (42 C)). And the bath was necessary to get the flea goop off of her.
:: David (16:17 in Michigan, 22:17 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Friday, August 1 2008 ::

Hot water, a fridge, and internets. The house is complete. I expect the mad spending of money will continue into the weekend, as we still need a washer, dryer, lawnmower, and probably some stuff I haven't thought of yet.
:: David (21:37 in Michigan, 3:37 in Paris) - Comment

Well, we don't have hot water, but we do have internets. It seems we missed the fact that the gas company is not the same as the company that provides electricity, water, cable, internet, and probably delivers food, too. So the gas didn't get turned on, which has meant cold showers for all. Which, given the heat, isn't that bad. As for the internets, they were installed moments ago, and thus the surfing can once again commence, without the use of my phone.
:: David (13:20 in Michigan, 19:20 in Paris) - Comment

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