North by Northeast

Clean Out Your Storm Drains Now, Please.
19 December, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: General | Tags:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you have a storm drain in front of your house, clean the debris our of it before this snow hits. This will eventually melt, and then our streets will be flooded. But, if everyone takes five minutes to clean out their drain… no floods.



Too many personal blogs?
2 November, 2008, 6:51 pm
Filed under: General

Folks, I have four blogs, two of which are “catch all” anything-I-want-to-post blogs. Those two would be this one and my Tumblr blog.

This seems a little ridiculous. I first started the Tumblr blog as an experiment on several levels: to see the interface (love it), to assess Tumblr for Amanda’s usage (she now uses it and likes it), to test Disqus as a comment plug in (worked there, works on Amanda’s), and to try out moblogging (pretty neat).

So it turns out that pretty much everything I need for a personal blog is on Tumblr, since I’m just looking to keep it simple there, and I have other blogs for “pro-level” blogging and customizations (whatever it means).

Should I stop posting here and move my longer text posts to Tumblr? I’ve thought about integrating my Tumblr blog onto my personal domain ( because that looks simpler than any other system.

Can I get an opinion from you, one of the (at least) six of you that read this blog on occasion?

Many thanks!

3 Blog Ideas
11 October, 2008, 11:41 pm
Filed under: General
  • The fine print on common TV ads that tell you something asinine.
  • Photoblog: screen caps of silly things (usually facial expressions) caught when pausing your TiVo
  • A blog that just lists ideas for other blogs

Putin’s Take on the Georgian Conflict
14 September, 2008, 8:05 pm
Filed under: General

This is a fascinating interview with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and CNN, where Mr. Putin suggests that the United States may have pushed Georgia to begin the conflict in South Ossetia, and possibly to benefit the U.S. Presidential bid of John McCain.

CNN’s Matthew Chance interviews Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

I’m not making this stuff up. If Putin is (and frankly, let’s remember he was in the KGB) it still makes for interesting reading.

Also, Mr. Putin gives us some historical background on the region, and offers some thoughts on other international issues, from Kosovo, to Iran, North Korea and even agricultural trade between the US and Russia.

Foreign Policy and the Candidates
30 August, 2008, 3:29 pm
Filed under: General

The Editor of the Jerusalem Post has interviewed Bush, McCain and Obama on the US’s stance on Israeli issues.

In this piece, he compares his impressions of the three men, their cadre and in the second part he shares his most recent interview with Barack Obama, where he drilled the Senator on the intricate details of Israeli internal and external affairs. A very revealing interview, which may shed light on whether Obama will make for a capable leader on international affairs.

What Can You Do with Your Life?
27 July, 2008, 10:57 pm
Filed under: General

Something has really had my head turning the last few days. I have a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for a little while. We grew up together, probably about a mile down the road from one another. I was a year older, but we did many things together. He was on my Little League team, he played in my section in school band, he taught me how to drive a standard transmission, and we took our dates to the prom together one year. Smart enough guy, nice guy, you know just an average guy.

Sadly, we didn’t stay in contact so much when I went off to college. I stayed in-state, but when he went the next year, he went off to the midwest. We saw each other occasionally on breaks, for the first few years at least. The occasional email or IM would be exchanged. We found each other on Facebook in the last year. I learned he was still involved in rowing, which he started in high school. We lived in the type of town that actually had a crew team…

Boring enough story for you? Well, let me jump to the extraordinary part. He’s traveling to China in August. Going to the Olympics—As a member of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. This is a guy who was, no offense, never picked first for any sport. He was a decent athlete. Played on a handful of school teams. I was pretty impressed when I found out he was rowing for a Division III college. I wasn’t surprised, I figured he definitely was talented enough for that. But somewhere about the time that we started losing touch, Andrew was apparently really dedicating himself to rowing.

This really gives me cause to pause. I wonder, if he can do that, what extraordinary thing can I do? I’m doing a lot in my life right now. I pretty happy with my job, in the industry I want to be in. I’m doing a full-time Master’s program, and participating in an open source educational software project, too. I have a beautiful wife and we’re expecting our first child in September. All great things that I’m proud of.

But I wonder what it would take some part of of my life and really kick it up to that next level. Something that when you tell someone, “x” they say, “Oh really?”

I’m in Philadelphia
16 July, 2008, 12:57 pm
Filed under: General

I’m on my lunch break in the second and final day at the University of Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Web Symposium 2008. My own UIE helped to put the conference together and I must say that I think it’s going exceedingly well. Big congratulations go to Ben Adams and the Penn Med Web team for really getting the conference going smoothly. Plus, it’s all being held in Wharton’s Huntsman Hall, which is a structure that’s less than 10 years old, and is a wonderful scholastic building.

I’ve had the privledge of attending with presenter perks, thanks to UIE’s involvement, and it’s pretty nice to get a nice dinner and lunch without having to conduct a 7 hour workshop. One day, maybe.

They’ve put us up in the Club Quarters Hotel. From what I can tell, only organizations that “belong” to the Club can have their members stay there. A neat business model for CQ, and it seems hotel rooms in the heart of Philly are really cheap there for the member orgs. Overall it’s a classy place, the room was comfortable, if compact (think European proportions). I had the misfortune of arriving to a room with a few issues, but my gripes were quickly addressed. A fine enough place to spend sleeping hours.

Working at UIE, I have the good fortune of being able to schmooze with all the speakers, which is a real treat. They’re always a lot of fun as people, beyond just being very intelligent people. The two are not always found in a single person.

I took the Acela down from Boston’s Back Bay Station, and just found that the train goes all the way to South Station (maybe another mile down the track) which would be much more convenient to my travel. The question is, will I be able to stay on the train 5 minutes longer than I paid for? We’ll see.

I was impressed with Philadelphia’s 30th street station. Reminiscent of New York’s Grand Central, with a very high ceiling and a classical design. I had expected something less, and compact, like Boston’s Back Bay which architecturally uninspired, but perhaps functional. Boston could really use a beautiful train station. (See post update below) Of course, we could also use a tunnel that connects North and South Stations, so Amtrak can travel on to Maine! If you are unaware, currently, to travel by train from, let’s say DC to Maine, you have to get off in South Station, and travel by another mode (there’s a subway connection for example) to get to North Station, and hop on another Amtrak train. That’s pretty lame, if not downright embarrassing. Especially given the Big Dig project.

I’m thinking we’re going to see a major shift to train travel in the next few decades, due to its efficiency. Amtrak needs a lot of help, but the basics are there. Following Europe’s and Japan’s lead, high speed rail works. Maybe not the fastest for trans-continental travel, but for most trips, it is a pleasant mode of travel. Especially when the tracks have been converted for high speed travel (>100mph, which means banked rails and few stops). But I digress.

I felt pretty awful this morning, but I’ve recovered and hope to maintain till I get home to Medford. Sadly, this meant I had to strategically skip today’s authentic Philly Cheesesteak lunch. If you know my tastes, despite eating a reduced-animal protein diet, this saddened me greatly.

That ends today’s dispatch.

UPDATE: I short changed Boston’s South Station here. I had not been in the portion that Amtrak travelers would see until the night I returned from Philly. It’s pretty cool.