Tuesday, May 30, 2006

room with a view off the back of the ferry

As is our OBX tradition, we spent the day on Ocracoke Island. To get there from Salvo (where our rental beach house is located), you have to drive about 35 miles south on NC-12 to Hatteras Village. Then, you queue up and wait to board the free (er, taxpayer-supported) ferry to Ocracoke Island. Each ferry holds about 40 cars, and you just can't help getting your hopes up that you'll get on the next ferry departing. That kind of luck doesn't happen often, and sometimes you can wait as long as 90 minutes for your queue to get directed onto the boat. It takes 40 minutes to cross the 4-mile span thanks to the serpentine path they have to travel to avoid sand bars. The channel itself is no more than 500 yards wide from one spit of sand to the other.

After a crab cake sandwich lunch at the Jolly Roger on Silver Lake and then a scoop of peach ice cream from candyland (yum!), we decided to forgo the beach since we had several small people who were lacking naps. We lucked out on the way home... we were the last car let on the ferry back to Hatteras. Which meant we had prime real estate on the stern of the boat. Perfect for popping the hatch and watching the propellor wash put distance between us and Ocracoke.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Hannah and Virginia Dare

Hannah and Virginia Dare
Originally uploaded by thomas pix.
At least Hannah kept her dress on for the pose. She loves mimmicking statues wherever we go, and this stop at the Elizabethan Gardens was no different. Great to see that Virginia Dare has Morton's Toe like me (and now, Hannah).

hydrangeas at Elizabethan Gardens

Originally uploaded by thomas pix.
We're at the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a family vacation. Yesterday (Sunday) was a wonderfully sunny and warm day. Today, an overcast Memorial Day, made for the perfect opportunity to go to the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, North Carolina. We usually go later in the year, when the hydrangeas are in full bloom. Most were closed tight, but I did manage to find a couple that were starting to burst into color... here's a pink one. Look to my Flickr stream for some shots of the blues.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

with six hours to go

Well, we did it, and with six hours to go til the car arrives to take us to the airport in the morning. The girls are tucked into bed and Melanie's sleeping too. I'm stuck in my usual vacation Eve restlessness as my mind clicks through everything I've needed to get done in order to go away for an extended period of time. Never fails, this insomnia. And here's what's clicking between my ears tonight:

  • The offer on the new house was accepted and we've gotten it inspected with the results satisfactory for us to move forward
  • Our current house is completely cleaned and prepped and staged to be shown for the two weeks we're gone
  • I've got "lenders competing for my mortgage" courtesy Lending Tree
  • our old monitor, microwave and printer are by the side of the house waiting for E-Waste Services to recycle them
  • Papers and mail are stopped
All that's left to do is sleep. That is, once I finish watching the last episode of Love Monkey. I can't believe even VH1 has canceled the show. This is a travesty that ranks right up there with Sports Night's premature end.

I need a vacation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

pest inspections and room for a car

We had the pest inspection on the new place Saturday morning. "All" that was found was dry termite infestation (recommended fix: fumigation. cost: $3,000) and a few of the upper deck's joists are rotted (recommended fix: replace deck. cost: $10,000). I had to call Heidi, our realtor, to get her to talk me off the ledge about the sudden $13k increase in the "price" of the home. And all this before the general home inspection on Monday morning. I think they'll find at least $5,000 worth of stuff to be fixed Monday. Yes, we put in an as-is offer on the home, but I'm none to pleased at all the $$ associated with fixing the place up.

Looking on the bright side, since I'll be living a little over a mile from work (I now live 30 miles from work), I'll be getting back 12 hours a week in reduced commute time. Plenty of time to do all the fixits.

Back to the Campbell home front: To help make room as we de-clutter our current home, Melanie and I rented a 5x10 unit at a nearby storage complex.

On Friday night, I made my first of 8 trips over to the space. In between sessions riding the elevator and creeping, fully loaded, down the creaky floors, we've cleared out all our boxes of books (unopened since our move from Virginia) and all the assorted other "stuff" that's taken up so much room here in Campbell.

Just a couple hours ago, I made the coup de grace: once again there's room to park a car in our (two-car) garage. Years ago, when we first purchased the place and then promptly went away on vacation, I parked my car in the garage. Looks like the last few nights we're here in Campbell I'll be able to park my car in the garage again. A fitting bookend, methinks.

Three nights 'til we leave on vacation. Two nights 'til the broker tour of our current home. One night 'til the general home inspection at the new place. Better get my sleep.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

so close yet so far away

It appears that the owner of the property we're trying to buy from a) doesn't really care to sell it, b) doesn't see the value of dotting i's and crossing t's or c) all of the above.

UPDATE: turns out is was a much simpler (mundane) reason: jet lag

He'd just landed from a trip to Europe when he mis-marked the counter to the counter to the counter. Our offer has been accepted. Now we just have to see what the inpsections turn up tomorrow (pest) and Monday (general home).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

thank you, may i have another?

We leave for a two-week vacation next Wednesday morning (7am flight out of San Jose).

Knowing we don't quite have enough to do already to prepare for getting ready to depart for that amount of time, we've spent the last 72 hours doing the following:
  • walking through a house we wanted to buy that we didn't even realize we were in the market for
  • hiring an agent to sell our existing home (while we're away on vacation)
  • getting pre-qualified on a loan
  • renting a storage space and reserving a rental truck
  • pulling $30k in earnest money deposit out our collective butt (aka thin air)
  • putting in an offer
  • getting a counter offer
  • countering the counter offer
  • sticking a "for sale" sign in our home's lawn
  • scheduling cleaners, painters, gardners, stagers, inspectors, notaries, broker's tours
  • beginning the de-cluttering process of our existing home
Oh, and all that eat-sleep-work stuff as normally scheduled. I can't believe we found the time to do all this so far (with so much to do before we board the plane). Were we really that lazy before this stretch of hyperactivity?

blowout on highway 101

Melanie was driving in to my office so that we could get some notary work done (relating to buying our new home). All seemed to be fine, from my end, until I got a panicked call from her just minutes from the office.

"I think the tire's going flat," is how she started our conversation.

"Where are you?" was my opening salvo.

"The Woodside exit, oh shit, the tire just came off. I'll talk to you later."

What?!? I called right back and got her to describe exactly where she was. I also got her to confirm that she was standing so that the van was between her and traffic. With that knowledge tucked in my belt, I got Dan to give me a ride in his car to the scene.

Five minutes later, as we neared, I was so very glad to see that one of the CHP Freeway Service Patrol trucks was pulled up behind our minivan and the coveralled rep was already trying to get the blown tire off the van. Turns out he'd come upon Melanie and the girls a minute after she'd gotten off the phone with me. The Woodside exit was the northern end of his route and he was turning around to head south on 101. His job is to patrol 101 looking for breakdowns and flat tires to get the victims off the shoulder as quickly as possible so as to thwart looky-loos from slowing down all the rush hour traffic passing by the scene of the breakdown.

Within minutes he had the spare tire on and the shredded original in the back of the minivan. Very efficient, very friendly, very helpful. All I had in my pocket was $18 cash, so I pushed all of it into his hand even though he said "it's a free service." His helping us out in a jam was worth so much more than that.

We didn't make it to the Goodyear shop in time to get the minivan's tire replaced tonight. Melanie will have to do that in the morning.

I checked out TireRack tonight to get an idea how much it'll cost to buy a replacement Bridgestone Turanza EL42. It looks to be a $200 proposition (as long as the rim is still ok). And to pour salt in the wounds, based on feedback at the TireRack site, this particular tire model is a piece of shit anyway (2 in 10 would buy the tire again, given the chance). We only managed just over 7,000 miles on this one. I wonder how long the others are going to last?

rule of thumb: the cost of moving

We suddenly find ourselves neck-deep in the home-buying process and one of the things we have to calculate is how much it'll cost to move all our stuff from one address to the other.

Thanks to the folks at Cor-O-Van, we have this nifty rule of thumb on calculating the costs:
  • A loose approximation would be to assume an hour for each room of furnishings, or each 1000 pounds of goods to be moved.
  • Add an hour for each flight of stairs and or elevator, at either end of the move.
  • Add additional men for extra heavy items like a piano or large appliances & over-sized furniture.
  • Do not forget to make allowance for the time to drive from one address to the other, then double the drive time as a truck can take much longer to make the trip.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

gold star: diaper wallet

Diaper wallet
Originally uploaded by goldberg.
on my way to looking up reviews and opinions on car seats for the little one, I come across this parent hack entry.

How frickin' brilliant is this? Granted Hannah's finally grown out of her pullups, I've still got plenty of months ahead of me to change Charlotte's diapers.

I gotta make me one when I get home.

very interesting iterative media process

Today, I've been participating (iterating? collaborating?) in the iterative media breakout group of the Beyond Broadcast Open Media Developers Summit II unconference.

During our time, I got to know a whole lot better Kent Bye's Echo Chamber Project.

I'm not too familiar with the whole movie-making process, but I've got an idea of how the thing works. Thanks to folks scribbling on the chalkboard, I was able to put together a flow chart of where they see the iterative process beginning:

The Post-Production process is further broken down into three stages:
(1) shotlogging,
(2) sequencing, and
(3) trimming.

Talking with Kent, he's really focused on how to incorporate feedback loops during the sequencing stage of post-production.

How? here's the process in bite-sized chunks (see also his Map for more visual detail of how it all goes together). The bolded bits are where he's incorporating feedback from the larger participative crowd in the process, although they participate in every step:
listen to raw data soundbites
tag and rate soundbites
thematic groups around soundbites emerge from ratings/tagcloud
create playlists of sequenced soundbites
listen to sequences
tag and rate soundbite sequences
combine nested sequences
listen to nested sequences
tag and rate nested sequences
move to trimming stage

So, the user is able to review/tag/rate at several levels of the process to affect the post-production sequencing outcome:

1. soundbite
2. sequence
3. nested sequence

While this example is sound-focused there are cross-platform implications for incorporating the approach into text/video/audio applications. There are also implications for several roles to emerge in those participating: librarian, generalist, interest area specialist.

Kent's approach is really, really exciting as a way to put together his documentary film (see his 5-minute pitch here).

quit your whining

Sitting here in Ames Hall at the Berkman Center in the unconference part of the Beyond Broadcast Conference: Open Media Developers Summit II.

The session leaders are passing around a mic, and when Pat Aufderheide speaks into the mic, there is a really weird haunting whiny feedback tone that almost drowns her out.

At first, thought it was due to another mic interfering, but no other speaker using the same mic had the problem. When the mic went back to Pat, the feedback whine rang out yet again.

She's either bugged, or the NSA doesn't want anyone to hear what she's saying.

Update: Pat, relax, it's not just you. Seems to be the mic is dying. Maybe the mic's bugged?

Friday, May 12, 2006

the new rules of play

We're all facing this new environment together: small players and the big TimeWarner and NewsCorp leaders alike.

That said, here is advice from Diane Mermigas (Hollywood Reporter) on the new rules of play
  • the power of user generated content cannot be underestimated
  • understand and cater to the empowered consumer, new behavior
  • it's all about interactivity
  • experiment, take risks
  • collaborate, this is a time of strategi alliances
  • think outside the box (the TV set, set-top box, game console)
  • know and redefine your brands
  • be willing to blow up your old business models to invest in new ones
  • innovate to create new revenue streams and revitalize told ones
  • the technology allows for and demands new click-through metrics
  • reach out to grassroots creators
  • know your strengths and build on them; fill marketplace voids
  • the internet is the gateway to a new interactive spectrum, with special interest communities at one end and individual opportunities at the other. Study it, embrace it, mine it.
Good examples of innovation? Look at Brightcove, TiVo advertising, iPods and Slingbox, OpenTV and Visible World.

Public Broadcaster's To-Do List
  • Rethink your value proposition and business models
  • Understand the interactive technology-empowered consumer
  • Create short-term long-term initiatives using existing resources
  • Reassess and reassign value s to your content and services
  • Understand and utilize new forms of interactive sponsorship, advertising and transaction marketing-the lines have blurred
  • Know and leverage the power of your brands in a cluttered arena
  • Reviatalize relationships with grassroots organizations

bigger than the room we're in

I'm amazed at the many different ways that the content of the Beyond Broadcast conference is streaming out of and into the room. From the simulcast in Second Life to the question tool page, I can feel that we're not alone here in Austin Hall.

Here are the streams coming out of Beyond Broadcast for your own enjoyment:
Hit the conference Blog to see how you can participate with us from wherever you happen to be.

The War Tapes

billed as: The War Tapes is a documentary shot by US soldiers from the front lines of Iraq, Director Deborah Scranton had the necessary funding and approval to work as an embedded journalist in the second Iraq war; instead, she went forward with her unique vision—directing a documentary film from the Internet. Ten self-selected soldiers from the New Hampshire National Guard were connected with Deborah, given consumer hand-held camcorders, and briefly trained to use them. The soldiers were then deployed for a one year tour in Iraq, and were in constant contact with Deborah over instant messenger and email.

Speaker: Deborah Scranton The War Tapes

The War Tapes just won the "Best Documentary Feature" award at the Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend.

Scranton equipped the soldiers with cameras and collaborated with them on building a film that reflected what they wanted to show, not what Scranton wanted to show. There was a certain level of trust that had to be built in order for the film to come out.

They found empathy in the middle of war. The soldiers weren't trying to send a message via the film, just to show what was happening.

In response to the question, "What can we do for the soldiers over there?" one of the soldiers in the film said, simply, "Get to know one."

Without instant messaging, the soldiers couldn't have collabroated. Without the inexpensive cameras, the soldiers couldn't have captured their experiences for collaboration. This new model of living narrative can be seen at the War Tapes web site where the conversation and collabroation continue even now.

The first couple minutes of the film are very compelling and quite intense. Luckily, I'll get a chance to see the full film later tonight at the cocktail/demo hour.

Hearing Scranton talk reminds me that I need to reach out to my brother-in-law Mike to see what I can do for the soldiers over there. He's been there. Thankfully, he's not going back (that I know of).

Panel I: What the Broadcasters are doing

billed as: A few broadcasters display and discuss their efforts - the opportunities and obstacles they have experienced - with incorporating, experimenting with, or using participatory and emerging social media tools.

Moderator: Chris Lydon (Host, Open Source from PRI)

  • Bill Buzenberg (Senior Vice President of News, American Public Media/ Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Terry Heaton (President, DONATA™ Communication)
  • David Liroff (WGBH Vice President and Chief Technology Officer)


Is the internet the new "public"? Back when in New England, "public" meant diversity and innovation in the public interest. It was an aggressively non-commercial, anti-commercial space. In the new internet century (Stephen Colbert's world), and any of us can be a broadcaster, podcaster, writer with global reach. What's the new rule on public broadcasting?


Minnesota Public Radio has been obsessed with user-created content for a while now. They've done a "Minnewiki" (ba-dum-bum) which is a music-based wiki on their site where folks are creating more and more pages around the music they like.

Public Insight Journalism

"on any given story, someone in the audience will always know more than we do" - Bill Kling, MPR President.

On a regular basis, they write to those folks in their database to request their knowledge. The knowledge comes streaming back and is reviewed by analysts who prep the info for the reporters who then create the stories.

At first, the reporters were reluctant (why include all these others? isn't it messy?) but now they embrace all these info, stories and ideas that they otherwise wouldn't have heard of. They're using people's ideas to help them know what to cover and how much to cover it (sometimes, what had been planned to be a one-time story grows to be a five-part series).
  • Public Insight Network: 18,000 people in 50 states and 12 countries
  • Resources: 4 staff and an intern


Personal Media and WKRN

"The triumph of personal technology over mass technolgoy" - Glen Reynolds, An Army of Davids

The business models and future prosperity is found in looking at the disruptive spaces where mass media and personal media collide.

Two important value props:
  • Media is unbundled at the point of origin and rebundled at the point of consumption.
  • Mediated people make their own media.
The Personal Media Revolution: What do you do when the deer have guns? You get into the ammunition business.

Nashville is Talking
  • maintains active blogosphere database
  • aggregates rss feeds of 400 local bloggers
  • manages ad networks for bloggers
  • this returns:
  1. influence
  2. visitors
  3. revenue
  4. ratings

They have a blogger that watches the feeds come in and then writes based on what she's seeing. This allows folks to subscribe to the WKRN feed instead of 400 individual feeds.


WGBH traces its history back to the 1830s and the Lowell family was the sponsor of public lectures back then and there's an unbroken line that extends all the way to today, although only a third of that history has been in the electric age.

The opportunities that we now have to engage with the many audiences are enormous.Before we write off the one-way broadcast and embrace the "new way," let's look at how broadcast marries so well with the internet.
  • Do a Google search on Evolution or Jesus, and the PBS sites around those searches are in the first few results.
  • Look at iTunes podcasting, you'll find in the top 100 podcasts on any day, at least 10 from public radio.

Earliest endeavor in this area is the forum network which is a series of lectures from the Boston area (30 institutions in all). Is typically a presentation/lecture attended by a few hundred people, but is then digitized and curated for broad consumption.The key to public media going forward may well be this notion of public engagement. It's dangerous to assume that the for-profit system will worry about a well-informed public. It's the job of the public media organizations.

Beyond Broadcast 2006 Keynote

Keynote Presentation: Reinventing the Gatekeeper

billed as: At every stage, from the intellectual property rights around content production to the technical and regulatory design of the network, vibrant participatory communications media depend on a delicate balance between the realm of property and the commons. If you wanted to upset that balance, to sap the communications revolution of much of its vitality, what should you do?

Speaker: James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School

Boyle says:

We are extremely bad at predicting the future of any new technological innovation.

* cell phones were predicted to have a 400k penetration in USA and 1M world-wide
* pointcast

But what about all those predictions that folks got right? (podcasts, blogs, etc) Well, they got it right because people predicted everything so they had to get something right.

Behavioral Economics: individuals did not perform they way that rational actors would. Folks rely on rules of thumb, on heuristics, and most are wrong. These aren't random affects, but are patterned.

He sees a pattern in the world of communications: there is a blindness to the potential of commons-based production at every level of production/distribution.

In any system, should things be closed or open? This is not a decide-once and it flows throughout proposition. At every level of the system we have to make a decision that is a balance between ideas of protection/closedness and permission/openness. From network design to distribution. At every level, we have to make the decision to go open not closed.

We have a systematic cognitive bias: We tend to under-value the open approach and see (and over-value) the potential of the closed approach. We have to overcome this bias.

Favorite quips from the rest of the speech:
  • "anecdata" is proof via anecdote
  • Should we extend the copyright of dead authors so they can write again? (Some think so, especially those in Hollywood, no?)
  • Look at the intro of the VCR. The movie industry fought it tooth and nail at first, but then embraced the notion of renting tapes to folks with VCRs and turned it into a huge revenue stream. By opening things up, they got a new business model. If they'd succeeded at first and kept the distribution of movies just to the theatres, they wouldn't ever have gotten that new business model. They had to open things up.
  • Our assumptions around control and design are material, not digital. And the mindset doesn't work very well (you can't overfish an idea).
  • This net neutrality stuff is communism

How might this play out?

Imagine I've sugically removed the memory of the last 14 years from your brain. It's 1992. We're assembling a group and what we have to decide here is that we're thinking of having this internet thingy. How do we design it?

There's a wacky proposal that this thing should be open and anyone can connect to it and the network should be dumb and the intelligence at the ends. Folks don't have to ask permission to use it, they just use it.

What would we say? This would be a disaster! There'd be porn, piracy and spam! We need to control who has access so we don't have this stuff!

What would we invent?

We'd invent Minitel (the French network) and we'd give poor people extra time to use it so we'd feel better about this controlled thing.

Absurd, but it proves the point of our bias to closed v open.


Once we're aware of a particular cognitive skew, we have an ability to deal with it. When you're a pilot, you have to learn to fly by instruments only.

We have the ability to be aware of our cognitive biases and take that into account. We need to be mindful of this bias in all levels of the system.

Leave it open as possible as long as possible the system design you're working with. Provide as much room for feedback as possible.

getting to Boston

Remind me never to tempt the playoff gods by hoping for a regulation win. The Sharks/Oilers game went to triple, yes triple, overtime before the Oilers finally managed to bang one in and win their first game of the series. The winning shot didn't hit the twine until 11:30pm (totally blowing my opportunity to sleep more than 4 hours), but so be it. That's playoff hockey.

Was out of the house and on the way to SFO at 4:30am... and if it weren't for the absurdly early hour, I could deal with that kind of traffic on a daily basis. Took me just under 40 minutes to go the 45 miles to the airport (yes, the lanes were mostly empty), and I found a seat at the gate, fresh cup of Peet's coffee in hand by 5:45a.

When the gate agent finally arrived at 6:20a, I rolled the dice to see if I could get out of my middle seat (row 12) and into a window in Economy Plus. The agent held onto my boarding pass and said she'd do what she could. Since folks were upgrading out of Economy Plus and into First, I figured my chances were pretty good.

My expectations were too high.

The boarding process started (crush of folks at the ramp, jockeying to be the first one on after the First Class folks strolled in), and I had no boarding pass with which to join the fray.

My concern? I had a carry-on as well as my computer bag, and I didn't want to have to check my carry-on thanks to being last one on the plane. Delightfully, I heard my name called just as the boarding announcement rang out, and I snatched my new boarding card from the smiling agent and hurried over to the throng.

It was only on queue that I looked down to see I was now in row 24, seat F in a 26 row plane. No wonder she was smiling. I got most of what I asked for (an empty seat next to me, to boot!), but I never got to see who I would have sat next to had I stayed in row 12. Were they as non-intrusive as the woman who lightly snored in 24D most of the trip? Why do I even care?

Although I didn't sleep on the plane, I made it into Boston just fine, if a bit tired. While it's a dreary, misty overcast sky, I hear the sun is supposed to shine again 10 days from now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

boston bound

Here I am working out the logistics in my head of how to get from my home in San Jose to the San Francisco airport to catch a flight that departs (departs!) at 655a for Boston where I'm to speak on a panel at the Beyond Broadcast conference.

And beyond the "if I go to bed at 10, I get 6 hours of sleep... if I go to bed at 9, I get..." ruminations, I happen to check out my Shrook count (didn't get a chance to open it yesterday due to something I'll blog about later) and I see that I'm just shy of 1,000 new feed updates to wade through.

Granted, many of these are those obnoxious BBC headlines that do nothing but wait impatiently for you to click through for the goods (but they do so in that cute british accent, which makes them tolerable).

The sick part is that I found myself thinking "oh good, I can catch up on the plane." Shouldn't I be sleeping instead? That is, unless I can go to bed at 8:30... but the Sharks game won't be over by then. Oh, I really do hope they win in regulation tonight.

Friday, May 05, 2006


When we lived in Virginia, we owned a share in the Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

As most CSAs work, the proprietor, Leigh, took our money (and that of many many others) at the beginning of the growing season, bought seeds, planted, tended and then harvested them and delivered fresh vegetables all summer long. Or, as we did, he allowed you to come to the farm to pick up the weekly share.

We loved it, as the vegetables were absolutely delicious (if a little buggy). The taste of something that was in the ground mere hours prior to your picking it up is light years better in comparison to the stuff in the grocery chains that travels an average of 3000 miles before it gets to the grocery aisle. And, since I'd recently completed my culinary course at L'Academie de Cuisine, it was a joy to build meals around whatever was delivered from the farm that week.

I also loved the fresh eggs that we could pick up from the farm as Leigh dabbled in raising chickens on the farm (he tried raising pigs, too, but that's another story). These weren't the kinds of eggs you'd put into a batter or some other supporting role in a recipe. These fresh eggs were gems: the kind you wanted to feature in the perfectly prepared scrambled egg recipe, or in a light cheese omelette. You could just taste the difference.

Now, we've long since left Virginia (coming up on three years now), but I still subscribe to Leigh's regular email dispatches to keep up with what's going on at the farm and keep the memories fresh of what it was like to go there every Saturday morning. Leigh has a great writing style (I see he has a blog now, too) and the weekly emails were a great blend of farm news wrapped in a parable from life on the farm.

In the latest edition (also blogged), Leigh, who's never been a real fan of the folks inside the Beltway, reveals the sheer brilliance that is our government's approach to the pending Avian flu crisis:
And speaking of chickens the USDA, in the likely event that Avian flu comes to our country, is forming plans to kill all of the small flocks of pastured chickens in the entire country.

At the same time they intend to kill all of the organic and small chicken flocks (with their diverse genetic pool).

The USDA plans on giving the corporate chicken factories a free ride (even though there is overwhelming proof that the spread of avian flu through Asia and into Europe and Africa is largely fueled by the practices of the corporate chicken industry).

The USDA's arguments for killing off the genetically diverse, pastured flocks of chickens while not touching the caged, often genetically engineered chickens owned by the corporate 'food manufacturers' are patently bogus and do not hold up to any close examination what-so-ever.

The people making this policy over at the USDA should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.
Hear, hear, Leigh.

How short-sighted can they be? Or is this simply another example of the kind of corporate coddling that seems to be a specialty of the Bush43's administration? Probably a bit of both.

crap I just don't need

For some reason, on the walk in to work this morning, I felt compelled to participate in a little retail therapy. This urge could be due to the fact the World Market (for months promising "opening soon!") finally opened its doors this week, but I'm not really compellted to buy anything from there, I do plan to heed the siren call and peruse the aisles at lunch today.

As if by magic, my good man Merlin over at 43folders.com posted a blog about David Sedaris' latest New Yorker essay about the stuff we do and don't buy ourselves. Sedaris carries around a little notebook in which he captures all the things he'd like others to give him as a gift.

Then, in Merlin's post was this wonderful little gem:

For what it’s worth, I have a similar “buy me stuff” capture device, but more for the purpose of outgassing my brain’s frequently mindless consumer pollution. My file is called “crap I just don't need.txt,” and I have fended off many ridiculous purchases just by parking the desired item there. Just viewing the long list of previous entries is an embarrassing exercise in aversion therapy. Not to say this always ensure a non-purchase — consumer lust has a permanent apartment in my heart — but at least it provides a satisfying speed bump on the race to the checkout screen.
I think before I head over to World Market, I'm going to create a new file on my Treo to capture the cravings. If I'm not too embarassed, maybe I'll start posting them here.

BMW painting gets greener

Interesting to see this come over the wire today.
"BMW is the first automotive paint shop to integrate the use of landfill gas in its process equipment," said Dave Ciuffoletti, Durr's vice president of sales. "BMW should be congratulated for its environmental stewardship. By taking advantage of a renewable resource, BMW has truly become the world's first green paint shop."
Just how hard are we trying to jump on the green bandwagon that we'll pump out releases like this (overall impact: extremely low) instead of committing to increase the fuel efficiency of the fleet (overall impact: large).

You may begin your jokes about "ew, what's that smell?" now.

Try before you buy...

Talking with Beth Noveck yesterday, she turned me on to this place called Site Ground:

It has a $5/month account available where to use a neat tool called "Fantastico" which lets you quickly install many different open source tools to allow you to play around with them and see if you like their features.

Much Easier than trying to learn about the products on demo sites or from the manuals/faqs.

While the UI of the home page for Site Ground leaves much to be desired in terms of finding anything of value, Beth was kind enough to forward a list of links to the good stuff. From what I can tell, you have to have a geeky streak to truly submerge yourself in the offerings, but you don't have to be really nerdy to try things out:


Content Management

Discussion Boards

Mailing Lists

Thursday, May 04, 2006

babble on, baby

Charlotte, my sixteen month-old daughter, is a very vocal child... all she needs is a vocabulary to add meaning to the stream of sounds that bursts forth without warning and lasts for 30 minutes at a stretch.

It's delightful to hear her carry on what must be vicious debates with herself, especially when she brings in the clenched-fist gestures to make her point better known. I can almost see the synapses in her brain fire as those vowels and fricatives and plosives tumble over her lips (yes, I'm a linguistics geek).

I was just informed that this morning, she's giving an impassioned speech in german. Must be all that glottal action.

Still waiting to find out what her first word will be. Depending how long the playoffs last for us, it could be "SHARKS!" Won't that be convenient when we go to the beach over Memorial Day?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

i heart radiohead

Freddie Windsor's review of Radiohead's appearance at the Friends of Earth benfit in London couldn't have gushed more without soaking my keyboard. The job of soaking my keyboard (with saliva, no less) was mine to accomplish as reader of the review.

I just can't get enough of Thom Yorke's lyrics and delivery. Can't wait to buy the new album when it finally comes out (when? anyone?)

The set list from the London gig on May 1:
  • Karma Police
  • There There
  • Arpeggi (new)
  • Fake Plastic Trees
  • Bodysnatchers (new)
  • Pyramid Song
  • How to Disappear Completely
  • No Surprises
  • Cymbal Rush (new)
  • I Might Be Wrong
  • Street Spirit (Fade Out)
  • Gagging Order
  • Paranoid Android
Of course this is a new playlist on my iPod. If I close my eyes, I'm almost there.

Monday, May 01, 2006

across the Big Meadow

across the Big Meadow
Originally uploaded by thomas pix.
Just got back from a fantastic three-day trip to Yosemite. So many good things happened (aside from the Sharks getting things done and polishing off the Predators in Round One):

- Made it back to Yosemite Valley to introduce the girls to the wonders of granite and tall falls
- Saw more snow stacked high on either side of the road than we expected on the way in (Hwy 120), even though it was pushing 70 degrees at 6000 feet.
- I think we made it through Yosemite Valley the last weekend before it floods. The rapids on the Merced were much bigger than expected.
- Had a good test of how well the girls will do on the long car ride from DC to the Outer Banks later this month.

Definitely need to get outdoors more with the family. We so enjoyed our hike/picnic at Mirro Lake. It's not like we're more than 15 minutes from good hikes here in Campbell.