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:: Saturday, January 31 2009 ::

Don't forget to look for Rusty Blackbirds the week after next, as part of the Rusty Blackbird Blitz. They're looking for them over a huge swatch of the country, in hopes to figure out what's going on with their population. So, if you plan to leave your house between the 7th and 14th, keep your eyes and ears open.
:: David (12:29 in Arkansas, 19:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

As is often the case, the American press has been ignoring our neighbours to the north and south. I ran across an article today which suggests that Mexico may be entering another currency crisis. It seems they export a large percentage of their goods to this one other country, that hasn't been buying so many things of late. Canada is also not immune, and the article notes that if 'buy American' provisions are included in the stimulus package, we could see a serious fall in the Canadian dollar.
:: David (12:17 in Arkansas, 19:17 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, January 28 2009 ::

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has written a piece, intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in which she calls for the heads of certain banking industry leaders (metaphorically). It's funny, because on some level this is step one. Government exists to prevent mob rule, but in certain destabilizing events this breaks down. It will be interesting to see how far government decides to go along with the mob. Research has indicated that fairness is a concept that goes pretty far down in the brain - I expect the events of the past six months are triggering a lot of people's 'unfair' reaction.
:: David (17:49 in Arkansas, 0:49 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, January 27 2009 ::

I've been sent home early from work two days in a row now, due to ice. Not actual ice, but probable ice (which has yet to materialize, though tonight is supposed to be the big ice storm, and other places have been quite hard hit. As before, all the two percent milk was sold out at the supermarket, but happily we have switched to one percent (they've started charging more for one percent down here, and since we only use it in coffee it was easy enough to switch). To add insult to injury, when I went out to the car this afternoon to go buy the milk (before the rush hit, or so I thought), my tire was flat. As it turns out, with enough effort you can inflate an automobile tire with a bicycle tire pump, which I did, and then drove over to the tire fixit place. But standing in freezing cold rain pumping a tire pump for what seemed like hours is not something I recommend as a fun way to spend an afternoon.
:: David (20:23 in Arkansas, 3:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

The liberation of Auschwitz was apparently today, and thus today is holocaust memorial day. Does anyone know why this doesn't seem to be true in the US?
:: David (9:08 in Arkansas, 16:08 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, January 26 2009 ::

If you already miss goofy photos (and not so goofy photos) of Bush, the Times has a selection for your approval:

The traveling pool of press photographers that follows presidents includes representatives from three wire services AP (The Associated Press), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and Thomson Reuters. During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration.
They range from the absurd to the deadly serious, and the photographers' comments serve as a reminder that every picture has a story, and in the right hands can as easily obfuscate as enlighten.
:: David (7:13 in Arkansas, 14:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, January 25 2009 ::

I read an article in the Times yesterday about a terrible, horrifying new product from Microsoft called 'Songsmith'. I thought the product sounded bad in print, but then Gizmodo posted the original ad for the product, and some remixes of popular songs people have done using it, and my horror (and laughter) meter went to 11.
:: David (22:04 in Arkansas, 5:04 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

I honestly don't know how I survived before we had a dishwasher.
:: David (9:39 in Arkansas, 16:39 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Saturday, January 24 2009 ::

We're having a get-together this evening with some of Sasha's colleagues, which means we're both in 'must clean the house' mode. Now that we have to wake up early during the week, we seem to also wake early on the weekends, which isn't all bad (just mostly bad). I dread to imagine, however, at what time this evening I'm going to be like 'I'm so sleepy!'
:: David (10:05 in Arkansas, 17:05 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Thursday, January 22 2009 ::

I finally had some genuine BBQ at a little hole in the wall near where Sasha works. It came with all the deep fried sides you could ask for (except the yams, which were floating in butter and brown sugar instead). It was, in a word, heavenly. Sadly, I'm pretty sure I should eat it infrequently, if at all.
:: David (7:19 in Arkansas, 14:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Tuesday, January 20 2009 ::

It is awfully weird getting ready to go to work after six months of not doing so. On the other hand, given that I was not waking up until 11am of late, it looks like most of my work time will occur when I would otherwise be sleeping, so I'm not really losing much (except, perhaps, sleep)
:: David (7:13 in Arkansas, 14:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, January 19 2009 ::

Went for a nice long walk over to Sasha's office today, as part of a new program Sasha and I have enrolled in that requires us to walk 70,000 steps each week. It's run by Engagement Health, which is a company that offers programs designed to keep an insured population healthier, and thus lower insurance costs. It's really targeted at insurance companies and companies which insure employees, but since employees are the pesky jerks who get sick (and thus cost insurance companies money), it's the employees who get to participate in fun filled programs like 'walk four miles every day' or 'keep a food diary'. Basically a percentage of the savings is passed on to employees who choose to participate. It's a win-win, except the programs are all invasive, or dumb. But, once you get past that, it's quite nice to have an incentive to do some serious walking. Yesterday we wandered over to where I will be working (starting tomorrow!) to see how long it takes to walk. Looks like 15 minutes, which is very do-able (and will let me get in my morning RFI, so my French will stop disintegrating).
:: David (16:01 in Arkansas, 23:01 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Friday, January 16 2009 ::

One of my Christmas presents this year was a new lens for my camera, and as such I shot about a thousand more pictures than I would have otherwise. I've put together a little page with some of the better shots for your viewing pleasure.
:: David (15:40 in Arkansas, 22:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

Oh boy! Small town drama! It seems a local police officer didn't do the math right on converting milliliters to ounces, and so arrested a guy for having too much pepper spray in his car. Now the man has filed a federal lawsuit against pretty much the whole of Conway's administration, from the mayor on down.

Can I just note here how much I would not want to drive around with a bottle of pepper spray in my car? It seems much more likely that I would end up the teary-eyed victim than any would-be criminal!
:: David (7:04 in Arkansas, 14:04 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Thursday, January 15 2009 ::

Ah, finally we have the triumvirate. This evening my trap caught, not another squirrel, but a rat. How nice. The trouble with catching a live rat is determining what to do with it once you've caught it.
:: David (22:25 in Arkansas, 5:25 in Paris) - Comment

An interesting article in the New York Times shows the complexities of the bailout, using a small bank from my old stomping grounds as an example. Independent Bank, headquartered in Ionia, Michigan, received 72 million dollars in bailout money, and immediately gave it all back to the Fed to pay back other debt. The article also sheds further light on the difficulties in lending in this environment.

In other bailout news, I was reading the details on the new stimulus plan proposed today by the house, and noticed that I may personally benefit to the tune of nearly 10K. I'm not absolutely positive I need that much stimulation, but I certainly will not complain if I get it.
:: David (13:48 in Arkansas, 20:48 in Paris) - Comment

I am informed (by Angie's List) that January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day. Perhaps we can celebrate by running through the house with one (then even the cat can help 'celebrate').
:: David (10:12 in Arkansas, 17:12 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, January 14 2009 ::

Slashdot informs me that Ricardo Montalban has passed away. Sad.
:: David (20:08 in Arkansas, 3:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

It's kind of like 101 Dalmatians, only without the bloodletting: inhabitat pointed me to a clip on youtube from Animal Planet of a woman who will weave your pet's fur into sweaters and the like. Whoa.
:: David (18:33 in Arkansas, 1:33 in Paris) - Comment

I headed to the doctor's office yesterday, after spending yet another restless night trying to breathe. He gave me a wide assortment of pills and sprays, which, if my experience last night is any indication, worked exactly as advertised. Which was nice. I think I have a ten day supply of yummy horse pills, which in theory will clear this all up. I'll be starting my new job as a web developer for AETN (specifically, ideas) on Tuesday, so I'm hoping this is all cleared up by then.
:: David (12:53 in Arkansas, 19:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, January 13 2009 ::

If you needed a face to hate at the Justice department, you could do worse than (I am not making this name up) Randy Schlozman. What a racist was doing as head of the civil rights division is a fairly obvious question, but then add in his psychopathic political bias (who knew there were still people using the term 'commie' as a pejorative?), and you get a nice solid package. Even is the report is " inaccurate, incomplete, biased, unsupported by the law, and contrary to the facts", as Schlozman's lawyer recently called it. What I want to know is why noone is bringing charges against this jerk.
:: David (15:50 in Arkansas, 22:50 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, January 12 2009 ::

If you needed proof that the New York Times was excited about Obama, this extensive article about the Inauguration dress rehearsal should set your mind at ease.
:: David (18:05 in Arkansas, 1:05 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, January 11 2009 ::

There's been a couple of exciting developments on the 'guitar playing / game interface front'. First off, last week Mac announced the new version of Garage Band will teach you to play guitar (for five bucks a song). Actually, it's a whole musical blitz, where they tell you the history of the song, tell you how to play it, etc. Then today I read about Disney Star Guitarist, which lets you play a guitar hero/rock band style game, but with a real guitar. Hopefully the musical selection is more than just High School Musical songs!
:: David (13:16 in Arkansas, 20:16 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, January 9 2009 ::

A story on AP reports unemployment is up again, at 7.2 percent in December, "the highest level in 16 years", which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to you. Seeing the report reminded me of a statistic I had wanted to check, concerning employment under Bush. As the rest of the story is crazy long, I include it in the comments.
:: David (13:11 in Arkansas, 20:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, January 7 2009 ::

I decided to swap Sarah Palin out, and put in my twitter feed instead. There's still some customizing to do to make it look as pretty as I would like, but I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. I expect this will cause me to use twitter more, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
:: David (10:20 in Arkansas, 17:20 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, January 6 2009 ::

You're probably tired of stories about the economy, but try this one on for size anyway. It does a nice job of walking down the list of those responsible for ensuring things don't get messed up, and pointing out why they have an incentive to lie.
:: David (23:52 in Arkansas, 6:52 in Paris) - Comment

I hear my name called somewhat hysterically from upstairs, and I race up to have Sasha tell me Mina has a mouse cornered behind the clothes drawers. It is, apparently, 'huge'. I have decided in my mind that we have rats, when out pops this guy onto the top of the closet door. I'm thinking to myself 'that looks like a flying squirrel' when he does a leap across the bedroom to demonstrate. He falls to the floor (good jump, bad landing) and Mina has him cornered, but she's not really sure what to do with him. He races out the door and down the hall, Mina hard on his trail, into the office, and then into my clothes closet. Onto my suits, of course. We dismantle the closet, and trap him with a trash can. Hopefully he'll stay outside, though he got in once, so probably knows some secret way in. Maybe the fear of giant crazed predators will send him packing...?
:: David (23:10 in Arkansas, 6:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

I ran across a fascinating graph on Economist's View, comparing share of income earned versus share of taxes paid by quintile. As you can see, given this spin on the numbers taxes in the US are anything but progressive. The text explains that most local taxes in the US are in fact regressive, and thus invalidate the somewhat progressive federal tax system.
:: David (21:45 in Arkansas, 4:45 in Paris) - Comment

...aaaand we're back! After more than two weeks on the road, visiting friends and family, we're safely back in our spiffy house. We were supposed to make it back last night, but the one thousand mile drive from D.C. was interrupted by an ice storm in the final two hundred miles. Given that Sasha had acquired some sort of bug in DC, we decided to stop for the night in Tennessee. But now we're back, our kitten is very happy to see us, and a slew of new posts will probably be forthcoming (along with a photo or two, perhaps). As I've still not had any word on my new job, I am still considering myself free for the foreseeable future (though I'm hoping this doesn't become a long-term thing!)
:: David (19:24 in Arkansas, 2:24 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, January 4 2009 ::

The face of Abu Ghraib is out, and the Guardian has an interview. It makes me want to smack someone, or despair, or maybe both at the same time.
:: David (0:59 in Arkansas, 7:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Saturday, January 3 2009 ::

We're safely ensconced in DC, and yesterday we did the '30 museums in 3 hours' tour. Today looks like a lazy day, as probably will be tomorrow, and then Monday there will be mucho driving. DC is funny - everyone is quite excited about the inauguration - there was an exhibit on the Lincoln inauguration (which had a wonderful description of how there was a chaotic rush on the food table), and everyone was selling inauguration t-shirts. It's interesting, and pretty clear the one thing Obama has failed to do is manage expectations.

If there's one thing I wish Obama would do, but I know he will not, it's deal with the disgusting situation in Gaza. With the entire Israeli political spectrum seemingly ready to kill however many people it takes, and a complete lack of world leadership to protect civilians, we will probably see a lot more deaths before this is over. It's a heck of a way to start 2009.
:: David (12:51 in Arkansas, 19:51 in Paris) - Comment

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