Monday, August 31, 2009

8-31-09: An Awkward Scenario

Man, what a day today turned into! It's so pleasant outside. I'm really looking forward to the nice sleeping weather.

My friend, who I will call Mike, is involved in an interesting, albeit awkward, scenario.

About 18 months ago (or thereabouts), Mike moved into a house with four friends. He was looking around for furniture. Two of his friends, a young married couple right around his age (Mike is about a year older than me at 25), were in a generous mood, and gave Mike one of their extra dressers they had bought from IKEA some time before and no longer required. Mike gladly accepted the dresser, and asked, mostly out of guilt for receiving a free item from a friend, if he could pay for it. He even offered $100, but was told it was a gift. The young couple also gave other things away, for free, to other friends, including more furniture and computer monitors.

A little over a month ago, the young couple had a going away party. They were taking the road less traveled by and moving south to live the simple farming life. They invited many of their friends, including Mike, who was unfortunately on vacation up in Vermont. At this going away party, for some odd reason, the young couple approached the friends to whom they had given "gifts" in years past, which included several people, and asked if they could be paid for the items. They weren't sure of their financial situation in the near future (they were practically retiring but had saved a lot of money) and thought they could use the cash to help pay for the move. Most of the friends obliged, though I know of at least one who wasn't thrilled at being cornered.

Mike did not, and things have gotten interesting. Today I read an e-mail the young couple, let's call them Pete and Sandra, had recently sent Mike. The crux of their e-mail, which was the third in a string of e-mails between them and Mike, was that Mike told them he would pay them $100 for the dresser and they expected full payment. Mike had offered them $40 for the dresser upon returning from his vacation last month, but they had turned it down and also said they did not want the dresser back. He then put off the problem for later, upset at how things had turned out. Mike is also having some slight budget concerns right now as he works out a problem he's having with his former landlord.

I don't really know Pete and Sandra all that well. I'd met them a couple times. They seemed nice enough, albeit a bit odd, but nothing major. They're really into the "off the grid" mentality, which explains the decision to retire in their mid 20's and take up farming. Pete comes from money, and has the reputation of not working too hard and being downright cheap when it comes to money. Sandra seemed nice. I do know Mike quite well, and I can only imagine there was a bit of a mis-communication somewhere along the line. But I can't imagine this is really any one's fault other than Pete and Sandra's.

First, Mike offered to pay them upon receiving the dresser 18+ months ago. It was out of guilt. I honestly would have done the same thing. They told him not to worry. That, in most cases, should end the transaction. Waiting 18 months to ask for money, from friends, at your going-away party, is downright sleazy. If you need the money, don't quit your job. Or, more wisely, don't give stuff away for free. I really hope, if they're decent people, they didn't count on this happening and would get more money out of friends once they moved using guilt as a tool. I'm glad Mike didn't fall for it.

They're now making Mike out to be the jerk, saying it would be the right thing to do for him to pay them the "offered price" of $100, and not the $40 he is offering (he's also offering to simply give it back). If it were me, I'd say "It's $40 or nothing." They're not being at all flexible, and I'm actually surprised at how patient Mike has been. The dresser itself is probably not even worth $40, so they should be happy with his offer ($100 was offered 18+ months ago when the dresser was almost new). I just don't get where they're coming from. But it is an interesting show. Real life drama.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

8-30-09: District 9; Bodies Revealed

It was a slightly rainy and cool weekend, but a good one nonetheless. The lady and I hung out and ended up seeing two very interesting things.

The first was District 9, the science fiction film produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp. I went in with pretty high expectations after watching the review on The Totally Rad Show last week, and was not disappointed. Without giving the plot away, it's about an alien (extra-terrestrial) population living in a slum area outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The story begins 20 years after the alien shipped stopped over the city, seemingly haven broken down.

The central character is Wikus Van De Werwe, an agent for a private corporation that is leading a re-location program for the quite large (1.5 million) "prawn-like" alien population, currently located in District 9. While going around the slum serving eviction notices, Wikus comes across some alien technology, and the rest of the film focuses on his story.

The most interesting part of the film was that you really don't like the "good guy" for most of the film. He comes across as a real ass at first, then looks the hero, then looks part villain, then sort of a hero again. The other, and most striking, aspect is the style in which it is shot. It starts off as pretty much a documentary. It shows interviews from Wikus' family and friends after the story has ended. You begin to wonder what this ass did to make these people feel the way they do. I thought it was a great way to begin. But, by the end, it's an action flick with a heart of gold, and you're stuck wondering... when did they make the transition? It was completely seamless, and wonderful. I really enjoyed the experience, as did the lady.

The other thing we saw was the Bodies Revealed exhibit, currently at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in relatively nearby Ledyard, CT. The ~ 90 minute drive was well worth it. The exhibit is basically a tour of the human body. It takes you through the various bodily systems, showing you actual human bodies. But it's not gross. The bodies are preserved through, from what I have heard, a process involving a silicon-based polymer, which is applied in a vacuum on a cellular level. Whatever they did, it was fucking neat. There were some semi-disturbing parts, which were noted beforehand for the weary, but overall it was a fascinating and wonderful exhibit. If you ever get the chance to see it, don't miss out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

8-25-09: The Genius of Craigslist

I read an interesting article in the latest edition of Wired last night about Craigslist. It featured the small company's two big "stars": Craig Newmark, the founder, and Jim Buckmaster, the CEO. They're quiet, reserved men who love what they do and keep things painstakingly simple. I can relate to both very, very well.

I won't recite all of the observations and facts laid out in the article, but, from an engineer's perspective, I think what Craigslist is doing is remarkable. And from a very simple anthropological perspective, I think they're ahead of their time.

There's a lot of crap out there. There's a lot of crap on Craigslist. But, as opposed to most crap, Craigslist's crap is all user generated. It's ancient, by modern web standards, user interface has no frills, no fancy graphics, and nothing to distract you. The immense spamming that goes on in the various categories, which have given Craigslist an unfair reputation as a portal of sin, is very distracting. But, again, it's user generated. It's not purely democratic, since there are those who find ways to spam on a massive scale, but the employees of Craigslist spend a good amount of time dealing with it. They're simply trying to squash anything blatant.

And yet, Craigslist is blamed for things beyond their control. Two murderers have used the site to attract victims, and the site is riddled with prostitution. The latter is definitely more within their control than the former, but, in the end, Craigslist isn't truly to blame. They just make it easier and more widespread. It's a tool that exposes human nature on a broader scale than previous technology would allow. It's wrong, for sure, but it's also quite interesting that the company doesn't pass judgment on the users on a moral level. They simply reject spam.

The truly amazing thing is that, despite poor overall customer service and a militant disdain for innovation, Craigslist has garnered a massive market share for online classifieds. I used Craigslist to find my current apartment, as well as to sell things before I moved. It was very easy. I plan on using the site again to find a few things for my rec room. Even my parents used Craigslist, with great success. The beauty of the simple interface is: IT'S SIMPLE. Virtually any one can use it. Sure, the site is cluttered, but there are no fancy gadgets, and chances are it will look pretty much the same the next time you use it. This allows users of various ages and tech-savviness to use the service. Most of them stay away from the pornography and spam-laden categories, and most have no problem. I'm actually surprised there have been only two psychopaths, considering the sheer volume of transactions that have taken place.

As an engineer, I'm most proud of the fact that Craigslist has 30 employees, none of which are marketers or salesmen. They keep it simple, which is something so many companies just don't get (look at the success of Apple in recent years: keeping it simple). I hope they keep doing well. It's been an interesting experiment thus far.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

8-23-09: A Week in the Christian South

I'm writing this in the Wilmington, North Carolina airport (by gate 5 to be exact), about 15 minutes from boarding my flight to Philadelphia, then on to Hartford, after spending about eight days down here visiting my family.

This isn't the first time I've been down here. Hardly. I've been coming down semi-regularly since I was 16 (I was down here exactly eight years ago), but will be down visiting my parents a few times a year from now on. I've had time to experience the southern charm of southern North Carolina, in the middle of the famed "Bible Belt."

Being a Catholic originally from Massachusetts, the Christian South is rather foreign to me. I've visited other countries, ranging from England to Thailand, and have had different experiences getting accustomed to those cultures. Strangely enough, visiting the South can sometimes feel like being in another country. Not so much nowadays it seems, since my parents live in an area populated with "ex pats" from New England, just like them. But there are still obviously the natives, who are interesting people.

They are overall quite nice. They're good Christian people, and are almost always smiling. They're mostly devoutly religious, which is fine by me, but can be a bit in your face about it. There are churches everywhere down here, of various denominations. No synagogues, though. There's even at church at the MALL in Wilmington. The mall! Their reasoning: "rent's cheaper." Strange.

But the sheer number of churches is a side issue. You see a lot of religious statements all over ("Jesus is Lord" is on many business signs), and people are seen praying over their morning coffee and muffins in local coffee shops. You just don't see that up north.

The food is another thing. It's really good. I had chicken-fried steak the other night on my birthday that was absolutely amazing. I'm really looking forward to trying that again. Great stuff. Their seafood is also out of this world down here. Everything is fresh; which is usually the case when you live right on the water.

Maybe it's the sunshine and heat, but I actually enjoyed my week-long stay in the friendly South. Sure, it can be a bit much for those unaccustomated (yes, I heard that word down here this week, spelled exactly that way), but I'd rather be assaulted with kindness than deal with constant hassles of some northerners. But I still miss the bullshit, so I'm flying back. North Carolina is for vacationers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

8-17-09: Boating in Southport

Yesterday I went out on my parents' boat for the first time. They bought it late last year before moving down here to North Carolina, and have been officially using it for about five months.

My parents were never really interesting in boating until the prospect of living by the water came into being over a year ago when they bought the land down here. Their house is about a month to six weeks from completion, but they live in town nearby and have easy access to the marina. The town of Southport has a lovely marina, I might add.

The day began with a stop in to P.J.'s Restaurant in Southport, across the street from the marina parking lot. A funky spot, P.J.'s is, with walls of various colors, and a parking lot with non-functioning gas pumps. I had the Fisherman's Special, which is their take on the ubiquitous two pancake, two eggs, and bacon breakfast special. It was decent, but nothing great. The place was pretty busy with the post-church crowd, but the wait was still only 10-15 minutes.

Then it was the boat. A minute's walk across the street to the pier, the whole experience was fascinating. The boat, named "Slapshot" after my family's ice hockey background, is an 18 footer center-console made by Eastern Boats out of Milton, NH. It's done quite well so far, with the only exception being a snafu involving the Bimini top that had been secured with plastic instead of steel. The engine is a 60 hp model, which is remarkably fuel efficient. I think they've only used two tanks of gas in all of the boat's use thus far.

After the boat was lowered down into the water by a worker at the marina (it is kept in dry storage for about $200 a month), we were off. We started by heading up the Cape Fear River for a bit. The water was very smooth, with only the wakes of other boats to worry about. I got to drive for a bit at this stage. It really takes some getting used to, since there's a significant lag at low speeds once to make a turn. But once you get the RPM's up, the response is much better.

We then headed back in and went up the intra-coastal for a bit, heading straight in between Oak Island and St. James, seeing many lovely homes on the way. I got to drive for a bit more up the intra-coastal, which was awesome. I had that sucker up over 5000 RPM's, going about... 12 or 13 knots. Hey, it was my first time! I had a blast. The wind, the sun, the salt air. It was very nice.

I think we're heading out again some time this week. My dad and I might make the 45 minute trip down to Holden Beach. Should be fun.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

8-15-09: Travel and Human Nature

I began a week-long trip to my parent's place in Southport, North Carolina yesterday at 4:00PM. I'm still not there, but am (hopefully) through the rough part of the trip down.

It began quite nicely when I left my apartment in Connecticut yesterday afternoon promptly at 4:00PM. The trip up to Bradley Aiport is normally about an hour, and my flight was at 7:15PM. I had plenty of time.

The drive up was, for the most part, a breeze. Until north of Hartford. There was a bad accident on I-91 North just north of the city. I tried to find alternative routes, and did eventually catch a break on one back road. I didn't feel like waiting in the seven mile backup. I ended up making it to the gate (after having my bag randomly searched; I found my laser pointer!) with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding. Phew.

The boarding began a few minutes late because the crew was caught in the same traffic jam. No big deal, as we were all seated in time.

Then the pilot came on the intercom and told us that, during a pre-flight walk-around check, he noticed one of the tires on the landing gear was flat. Apparently, there was only one mechanic who could fix it, and it would take some time. But, we all had to de-plane for this to happen because they needed to jack the plane up. My layover in Charlotte was about an hour. I didn't think I'd make it. But I was in no real rush, so I just called up US AIR and got another flight for this morning, just in case.

Several other passengers weren't quite as patient. The attendant at the gate at one point told people to stop fighting. It was pretty interesting to watch. Human nature in its purest form. No fisticuffs broke out or anything, but people were pretty pissed. To make matters worse, and I think this came from frustration, the attendant went on the intercom near the gate and told people not to get on the plane unless they were flying to certain cities as their final destination, because they wouldn't make their connections otherwise. My destination, Wilmington, didn't make the cut. But I had already re-booked, and figured I could get a free hotel. Then, a few minutes later, the same attendant came on and said "If you live in Connecticut or Massachusetts, and this is your originating flight, US AIR will not pay for your hotel in Charlotte." Puzzling, and disappointing. I had visions of myself possibly sleeping in the terminal in Charlotte.

We took off at about 8:30PM, arriving in good order at about 10:30PM in Charlotte. I ran over to the other flight, only to miss it by about 10 or 15 minutes. But I was in luck. Instead of going to guest services near my arrival gate, I figured "The people at my departure gate probably don't know we were told we had to pay for own hotel." And, that was the case. I got a free stay at the nearby Ramada Inn. After about a 20 minute wait for the shuttle, I arrived at the hotel just before midnight. My flight the next morning was at 7:30AM. I had five hours of sleep to look forward to. But at least I wasn't sleeping at the airport.

So, here I am, sitting by my departure gate in Charlotte, with about 15 minutes before boarding. The plane isn't here yet, but I honestly am not worried. My parents are very internet savvy (well, my mother is at least) and know if it's delayed. If they leave the house when I take off, they'll make it to the airport when I land.

All I know is: I'm ready to begin my vacation.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

8-9-09: European Soccer in America

I've been reading a lot of the EPL Talk blog recently, especially in the last few weeks while major European soccer squads have been touring around the United States, including Chelsea, Barcelona, and Real Madrid (not to mention Internazionale and AC Milan). One thing that I really agree with the author of that blog is that soccer is picking up in this country. More and more soccer is being shown on major channels, and I'm really happy that ESPN is going to start showing EPL games on a regular basis. With the season less than a week away, I'm excited. Here are the games I'm really looking forward to:

Saturday, August 15:

* Chelsea v Hull City, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, October 17:

* Aston Villa v Chelsea, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, October 24:

* Wolves v Aston Villa, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, October 31:

* Arsenal v Tottenham, 6:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, November 21:

* Liverpool v Manchester City, 7:45am, ESPN2

When I talk soccer with my friends and co-workers, it is usually about either the English game, or other European teams, and, with one co-worker in particular, the Brazilian game. I almost never talk about MLS. I think it's pretty obvious, and well-known throughout the country, that the American game is inferior to the elite games of Europe and South America. Just look at the World Football Challenge: it had two Italian giants in Internazionale and AC Milan, the world famous Chelsea FC, and Club America from Mexico. No American teams. Perhaps it's because MLS is in the middle of it's season, so it'd be far too taxing on teams. But still: no American teams. And look at the attendance at each game. It was outstanding.

I think it's OK, though. I'm not worried about soccer and its following in a country with an inferior domestic game. It's not hurting the national team, which now has mostly foreign based players. I think it's better that we have our own game, and at least recognize that there are great teams in highly entertaining leagues in other continents. I'm glad that more people are watching; there are soccer clubs all over the place (I belong to one in New Haven). I hope it's a nice and steady growth. It's going to be interesting.

On a separate note: congrats to Scott and Taylor for completing 24 Hours at Great Glen in fine style. Great job!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

CNET Should Starbucks ban laptops? - CNET News

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Should Starbucks ban laptops? - CNET News

Some coffee shop owners in New York are banning laptop users between certain hours of the day, as they sit there for too long and don't spend much. Should Starbucks take their lead?

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8-8-09: Flight of the Conchords, Season Two

Over the past few days I was able to watch Season Two of Flight of the Conchords, an HBO comedy series starring Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, who comprise the real life New Zealand comedy-folk duo of the same name. I really enjoyed Season One a couple summers ago, back when I had access to HBO. Nowadays, I have Netflix instead of the movie channels, so I saw Season Two a bit later on.

It was surprisingly good, better than expected, but I don't think Season Two quite met the level of Season One. I think it was summed up well by McKenzie before Season Two began, immediately after they were signed on to continue the show by HBO, when he remarked how surprised he was that they got the extension, since they had already run out of songs.

The show is based in an alternate reality of the duo's life, set in the hard-knocks environment in modern day Manhattan. Their characters' names are slight variations of their real names (Clement -> Clemaine; McKenzie -> McClegnie). In the show they are naïve, luckless, desperately poor musicians living out of a studio apartment in Chinatown. Their manager, Murray (played by Rhys Darby), works for the New Zealand consulate, and is even more naïve. Their gigs are outrageous, including one where they play on an elevator at the consulate, and another at a local library where they are constantly told to keep quiet. They make little to no money, and their gigs are frequently poorly attended (one gig in an episode in Season Two ends with zero audience members). Each 30 minute episode typically consists of two to three short songs, virtually music videos, that don't interact with the plot. The songs usually have something to do with the current situation, but the really funny ones are usually complete tangents.

Season One ended with Murray being marvelously successful with a group called the Crazy Dogs, a rival duo to the Flight of the Conchords, who record the international hit "The Doggy Bounce." Murray tags along with them, and the first season ended with him arriving home from a world tour, and has begun to virtually ignore Brett and Jemaine.

Season Two began with the same scenario, which eventually led to Murray being fired and the duo managing themselves, with relative ease and success. Alas, it didn't last. Murray lost everything when, as it turned out, "The Doggy Bounce," which had won various awards, was actually a direct copy of a decades-old Polish song. Around the same time, Jemaine and Brett get into some trouble with their immigrant status (they are illegal immigrants) while filming a toothpaste commercial, and Murray comes and saves them (by suggesting they run away). So, the trio ends up back together, and go through various lady troubles and bad gigs and general innocent foolishness.

What surprised me was that the songs remained pretty clever and funny. There weren't as many great songs like in the first season, such as "Business Time", "Inner City Pressure", and "Think About It," but Season Two held it together pretty strong overall. The plot got old after a while, though. They recycled a couple themes, though it wasn't so bad that I didn't keep watching. But, after a while, the naivety does get old. The season did end well, though. And, best of all, I think they won't come back for a third season. It's not that I wouldn't watch it; it's just one of those situations where you can see that a show has run its course, and it's best to just end it on a good note.

Thank you, Flight of the Conchords, for your brilliance. I'm going to end this post with two of my favorite songs from the show:

Friday, August 7, 2009

ESPN Adds Premier League To Soccer Line Up

Only one Spurs game? But it is against Arsenal. Good on you, ESPN.


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espn logo ESPN Adds Premier League To Soccer Line Up

ESPN has acquired the TV rights to two of the weekly Premier League slots on US television for the 2009-2010 season. Beginning on August 15, 2009, each week ESPN will feature the 7:45am ET Saturday game and the 3pm ET Monday game.

Those two weekly timeslots were previously held by Setanta Sports who in the past had sub-licensed those games from Fox Soccer Channel. Despite Setanta losing the two timeslots to ESPN, Setanta US will continue showing the two 10am ET Saturday slots (one game on Setanta US, and the other on Setanta Xtra), as well as the early Sunday morning ET kickoffs and the Tuesday and Wednesday midweek Premier League matches. The games shown by Setanta will also be available on its broadband package at

ESPN's acquisition of the early Saturday morning kickoff and Monday afternoon matches are a massive coup for the Disney-owned company who have significantly increased its soccer coverage recently. ESPN has yet to make a formal announcement regarding the acquisition of the Premier League TV rights (the two timeslots), but will presumably show the games on both ESPN2 and ESPN360.

Here are what games we know for certain that will be shown on ESPN2 between August 15 and November 21 (schedules are subject to change):

Saturday, August 15:

  • Chelsea v Hull City, 7:45am, ESPN2

Monday, August 24:

  • Liverpool v Aston Villa, 3pm, ESPN2

Saturday, August 29:

  • Chelsea v Burnley, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, September 19:

  • Burnley v Sunderland, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, September 26:

  • Portsmouth v Everton, 7:45am, ESPN2

Monday, September 28:

  • Manchester City v West Ham United, ESPN2

Monday, October 5:

  • Aston Villa v Manchester City, 3pm, ESPN2

Saturday, October 17:

  • Aston Villa v Chelsea, 7:45am, ESPN2

Monday, October 19:

  • Fulham v Hull City, 3pm, ESPN2

Saturday, October 24:

  • Wolves v Aston Villa, 7:45am, ESPN2

Saturday, October 31:

  • Arsenal v Tottenham, 6:45am, ESPN2

Monday, November 9:

  • Liverpool v Birmingham City, 3pm, ESPN2

Saturday, November 21:

  • Liverpool v Manchester City, 7:45am, ESPN2

Note: For those Saturday mornings when there isn't a 7:45am ET game available, ESPN will have first choice of the Saturday 10am game from Setanta Sports.

For supporters of Premier League clubs in the United States, this is wonderful news. Having the games shown on ESPN2 will bring the league into more homes in the United States as well as making games more accessible for TV viewers who are unable to receive Setanta. ESPN2 will kick off the Premier League 2009/2010 season by showing the first game of the season featuring Chelsea against Hull City at 7:45am ET. The game may feature the debut of American striker Jozy Altidore who today signed with Hull City.

For followers of the Premier League in the United States, supporters will need to have Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN2 and Setanta Sports to watch all of the games available. To supplement those networks, it's advisable that EPL fans also use ESPN360 and Setanta-i.

By Fox Soccer acquiring back the TV rights for the two timeslots from Setanta and sub-licensing them to ESPN, this gives Setanta Sports more financial stability. Setanta US will continue to stay in business this season and, in addition to the Premier League, will be showing Champions League football (via broadband and on TV), Carling Cup, Championship games, World Cup qualifiers, FA Cup and more.

In addition to picking up two of the Premier League TV slots previously held by Setanta Sports, ESPN also picked up the TV and broadband rights to the Australian Football League in the United States and Canada.

The US video rights for the 2010-2013 Premier League seasons have still not been finalized. With ESPN picking up two of the Premier League slots for the 2009-2010 season, the move definitely increases the likelihood that ESPN will mount a serious bid for the 2010-2013 rights when available later this year.

No news yet from ESPN regarding which broadcasters will be presenting the Premier League games and whether they'll be using in-house commentators calling the games off the screen or if they'll be using the international commentators feed.

What are your thoughts about ESPN adding the Premier League to its soccer line up, and how will it change your viewing habits if any? Click the comments link below to share your opinion.

Related Posts:

Related posts:

  1. ESPN Acquires UK Premier League TV Rights From Setanta
  2. U.S. TV Schedule For Premier League Games: Aug Through Nov 09 (Updated)
  3. ESPN Loses Premier League UK TV Rights Battle


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

8-6-09: Hikers Captured in Iran

I meant to post about this yesterday, but I got way too excited when both discs of Season Two of Flight of the Conchords showed up in the mail via Netflix, so I watched a bunch of episodes last night when I got home.

When I first heard about those American hikers who were captured and detained, and subsequently arrested and charged with espionage, while traversing through northern Iraq into Iran, I thought "Well, that was rather reckless on their part."

But I wanted to give it a day or two to sink in and for more details to come out. I'm glad I did, because it got a bit more interesting.

It seems that two of the hikers are freelance journalists who have covered various stories in the middle east. Let's see: two journalists. Captured in a country with which we have no diplomatic relations. How many frequent flyer miles will Bill Clinton end up with by year end?!

I don't know what the other guy was doing with them, but these people have to go down as being either extremely brave or extremely stupid. The odd thing is: we don't really have any leverage in the situation. We didn't really have much in the North Korea deal, either. The only difference here is that we're not in a full-on conflict with Iran (in case you forgot, the Korean War is still technically going on). So, I'd think the two journalists captured by Iran would be easier to get back.

But then there's the fact that they're being charged with espionage. The two journalists captured in Korea, from what I remember, didn't face such a charge (but still got a hefty prison sentence). Who knows what sort of prison time the journalists caught in Iran could face, if found guilty.

Either way: I don't see them as victims in this. This is one of those situations where, seeing that they were journalists with experience in covering the Middle East, they, of all people, should have known better. Sure, it might have been just an innocent mistake, but it does seem fishy to me. I'm no fan of Iran, by any stretch, but you have to be a lot more careful. Then you become a nuisance, not a hero journalist. I hope they are released, but only out of sympathy for their families, not because they're being held by a hostile nation. It's their fault.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CNET Three lessons from the shipping container - CNET News

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Three lessons from the shipping container - CNET News

The history of the shipping container has some useful lessons as we move toward virtualized IT and cloud computing.

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Monday, August 3, 2009 No Casual Fans at World Series of Baseball Trivia

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No Casual Fans at World Series of Baseball Trivia
For players in the Society for American Baseball Research trivia contest, the obscure is common knowledge.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

8-2-09: Tubing down the Farmington

The lady and I went up to Satan's Kingdom in New Hartford today to do some tubing down the Farmington River. I'd done it once before, over 10 years ago. I recommend it to any one.

What a great time. For $20 a person, you get a nice relaxing, with only a couple exceptions during some rapids, trip down the Farmington. Even though the weather wasn't fantastic, it was still very pleasant. We saw almost no one on the river the entire time.

It took about an hour and a half for us to make it down the 2.5 mile stretch of river. We hit a few sets of rapids, and the second set was quite good. The water level was pretty high, and was flowing pretty well. I nearly ate it at least once, but managed to stay in the tube the whole time. The lady went first most of the time. She also had a great time. Good stuff.

Afterwards, we ate lunch at a spot in Winsted that was surprisingly very, very good. It's a little place on Main Street, right near the Route 8 on-ramp, called Broadway Restaurant. If you're in the area, and want a quick, decent bite, give it a try. It's a good local spot. I had the bacon cheeseburger and fries. Delicious.

Now it's time to do some random things around the apartment. It's nice to have a little break in the action from schoolwork. You don't notice until the breaks just how much free time the stuff takes up. I do have The Dirty Dozen in from Netflix; looking forward to watching it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

8-1-09: Ronaldinho "Touch of Gold" Video

I was watching the AC Milan games against Club America and Chelsea, from last week in the World Football Challenge, and remembered, upon seeing some good play by AC Milan star Ronaldinho, this video I saw years ago. It'd be nice to see him come close to his former glory.