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Friday, December 31, 2004


I’d rather buy from … A.J. ?

A.J. Richard of P.C. Richard Fame Dead at 95

Obviously, “A.J. Richard” was no kind of name for an appliance store. But P.C. Richard … now, that’s a name.

Earth needs editors

Think I might throwup

YMCA flyer

Oh, look. You can workout at the YMCA. After you dropoff the dry cleaning and before you pickup the kids, you can stopby the Y, puton your sweats and setup your yoga mat.

Before you printup an advertisement and mailout a few thousand copies, thinkabout whether you should lookover the copy for errors, lookup any words you’re unsure of and cleanup any mistakes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Twisted metal

One from the archives:

twisted metal

This was on the beach in Capitola. I think it’s what was left of someone’s fence after it fell down the cliff and got battered by the ocean for a while.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Site news

Geegaws galore

There are a number of things I’ve wanted to add to the site for some time now, but I’ve lacked the free time to put them all together. With a hellish semester behind me, I now have the leisure to geek out on code for a while. So here’s the fruit of my labor:

New, improved comments

The quality of the comments is really up to you, but the forum is improved a little. There are timestamps on the entries now, just like in the big city. And threaded comments are allowed, so you’re free to get all up in the grills of the people before you.


Again, just like a regular blog, this one is now tagged with categories, allowing you to look at just the posts with links, for instance, or with photos. You can also see the entries with recent comments. There’s a list of categories down there on the left.

Now playing

Further down that column, if I’m listening to music on the ’puter, you’ll see the song that’s playing, along with the artist and album. (If nothing’s playing, the area will be blank, and that link won’t work.)

Why? Because I can. And because I love the abuse of technology involved in getting my musical choices posted to the web every two minutes. It feels like the internet equivalent of using cell phones to locate friends in a crowded bar. All this technology, and what do we do with it? Make up problems to solve! Hooray!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Macintosh: The Campagnolo of computers

There’s a blog I enjoy called The Cult of Mac, and the title pretty much says it all. A great post there the other day discussed a Bicycling magazine article on the legions of people loyal to Campagnolo components.

The parallels between Mac addicts and Campy cultists are striking. Both pay a premium for well-designed, visually appealing products, often featuring unfamiliar technology that later becomes standard. Both are proud minorities, giving the collective finger to companies with a virtual monopoly in the field (Shimano, in case you haven’t heard, is the Microsoft of bicycle components). And both groups include extremists that take things a little too far. But I’ve said enough; read the story.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Site news

Speak to me

As much as I enjoy working on this site, it’s a pretty thankless job most of the time, owing to the fact that it’s a pretty one-sided conversation I have with my visitors. There used to be a lot more e-mail links all over the site, but nobody ever used them. Until recently, in fact, I had never heard from anyone that I didn’t already know.

Lately, I’ve definitely heard from more folks out there, as the president would say — the Danesch family of Hungary, for instance, and a Frank Allison fan somewhere. So I’m all the more inspired to open up a new channel of communication, and make this blog a two-way street. Henceforth and retroactively, all the posts will end with a link to see comments and a link to make them, which is pretty much the same place. What I’m saying is, talk back. Give me some input. I’m eager to hear from you.

There aren’t a lot of controls imposed on the posting, because I’m trusting my fellow man not to be a jackass. There’s no doubt in my mind that the comments will soon be overrun with ads for discount drugs, but until then, have fun.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Earth needs editors

Crappy college textbooks: Not an isolated incident

Here’s another gem from Politics in America, Fifth Edition, basic version, by Thomas R. Dye. In addition to some truly horrible writing, this book has the kind of mistakes that make you wonder where the editors have been living for the last 20 years.

Al Gore, Republican

(In case you’ve been hiding out with the editors, Al Gore is not a Republican. He is a Martian.)

They get extra points for leaving out a needed comma, making it sound as if New Hampshire had never hosted a Republican primary before.


Earth needs editors

Crappy college textbooks: Just one more today

Another winner from Dye’s Politics in America.

In order to appreciate this one, you have to know that Congress meets in the Capitol building, and what the Capitol looks like. It would also be helpful if you could recognize the White House. Apparently those things are not common knowledge among the people cranking out political science texts at Prentice-Hall’s Pearson Education division.

mislabeled White House


Earth needs editors

College textbooks: As crappy as they are expensive

If you haven’t been to college in a while, you might be surprised to learn that the average new textbook costs more than $100, meaning the average student spends almost $900 a year on books.

What do you get for your money? Inevitably, you get a CD-ROM and access to some online repository of worthless video clips. You’re also likely to get a new annual revision, hastily cobbled together from last year’s book, full of sloppy errors and disagreements between the text and the index.

Sadly, I’ve come to expect shoddy editing in my slick $110 textbooks, but every now and then, I see the kind of error that every single person involved in the book’s production should have noticed. Today’s example comes from Shirley Biagi’s Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, Seventh Edition. It’s published by Thomson/Wadsworth, a leader in the field of costly, crappy textbooks.

9-11-03 attacks?


Tuesday, November 30, 2004


New Jersey town names mystified

Growing up in New Jersey, I couldn’t help noticing that a lot of the town names sound the same. And I’m not talking about Oakland and Oaklyn, or Belmar and Bellmawr, or even Hopatcong and Pohatcong. This also isn’t about the fact that there are five Washington Townships and one Washington Boro, as well as four Franklin Townships and one Franklin Boro. No, I’m talking about the fact that many of NJ’s 566 municipalities were named as if only a handful of words were approved for use in naming towns. If that was indeed the case, wood was clearly acceptable, as was ridge — so now we have Ridgewood and Wood-Ridge. And Park Ridge. And Ridgefield. And Ridgefield Park. Keep in mind this is all in a state about as big as a wad of chewing gum.

Anyway, someone reminded me of this the other day, and for some reason I began picturing the state in terms of a Venn diagram. Some 80 towns in NJ have at least one of nine basic components in their name. This is by no means a complete representation of the lack of creativity at work in the state, which would require a few more circles. But with a few well-chosen additions to the chart — bridge, brook, and lawn come to mind — I think most of the non-Indian town names in New Jersey could be related to each other in this way.

Click the picture to see a bigger version.

NJ towns
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Site news

Firefox: Oh happy day

To all the Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox users out there, I’m sorry. The most recent version of this site never really worked quite right with your software. I could never get the background layer at the top of most pages to show up in Mozilla. The problem got put aside for a while.

With the recent 1.0 release of the excellent Firefox browser, I decided to have another try at solving the issue. Everything should show up properly from now on.

So now I can say it: If you’re a peecee user and still using Internet Explorer, get your Firefox on, pronto. Come to think of it, there are some minor visual elements of this site that don’t work on IE, and there’s only one solution to that: Don’t use IE.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


That’s not a telescope

This is a telescope. Couldn’t even get the whole thing in frame.

big scope

This is the 36-inch refractor telescope at the Lick Observatory just east of San Jose. Built in 1880-something, it’s often described by astronomers as ginormous. Oh, and Bay Area philanthropist James Lick is entombed in the telescope’s foundation.

Lick Observatory

As much as the building looks like it should be surrounded by a campus, it sits fairly alone on the remote peak of Mount Hamilton, 4300 feet above San Jose. There are several other observatories clustered nearby, but bugger-all else but a sickeningly tortuous road that winds up the mountain. I lost count of the hairpin turns. The road would be a blast to drive if it were any more than about 12 feet wide.


And in a moment that made me regret my no-cameras-while-driving policy, I passed my first coyote on the way down. Looked like a large, unwashed dog with huge stiff ears that stuck out like Bozo’s hair.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Flew to New England for a wedding

Mendocino church

Or did I drive to Mendocino for that wedding? To be honest, I’m still a little hazy on the details of last weekend. But I’m sure it will all come back to me as I work on posting the photos, which I hope to do this weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004


Fooled you twice?

Then shame on you. I mean, 2000 was one thing, but I find it astonishing that after four years, a majority of Americans really think President Bonehead is the best man for the job. I almost wish he had just stolen the election, because that would have been less disheartening.

On the other hand, a California governor named Gray Davis was reelected, too. But it didn’t take much time before the people yanked him out of office. Since California often sets political trends for the rest of the nation (and not just lefty stuff like medicinal marijuana, either — voters here passed a same-sex marriage ban four years ago!), maybe the cretin-in-chief isn’t as secure in his job as it would seem. A pipe dream? Of course. But whatever gets you through the dark, four-year night, you know?

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Just what the world needs: another web designer

Just finished my first web design project for someone else. It’s just one page, but it ended up being a lot fancier than the bare text links I started out with. You can see it at billduane.com by clicking the banner below. Feel free to offer him a high-paying IT job while you’re there.

billduane.com banner
Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Hints for living: crazy person edition

This afternoon, after my media law class, I grabbed a window seat on the train and headed for home. The woman who sat down next to me seemed to be carrying on a conversation with someone across the aisle, but a quick glance over there revealed only people trying to ignore her.

Sensing that this was not someone I could allow to get my attention, I pulled out my textbook and began reviewing today’s case. Between the sunglasses and the book, I was pretty well insulated, and I was able to tune out the lady’s continuing babble, even as she stared right at me.

She wasn’t about to give up, though, and before long, I could no longer ignore what she was saying. Without looking up, I turned my attention to her voice. In an accent that sounded Haitian, she plowed robotically through some kind of nonsense. “To many this is. And will. Always be folly. But we have staked upon it our all.” Pretty typical script for a public transit lunatic, so why was it so distracting? “U-nited States vee Ah-sociated Press. Fifty-two eff supp three sixty-two, three seventy-two. S-D-N-Y nineteen fahty-tree.” Dammit! She was just reading my textbook out loud! United States v. Associated Press, 52 F.Supp. 362, 372 (S.D.N.Y. 1943).

She continued to do this for the rest of my trip. It was one of the most irritating things I’ve ever encountered. If my ride had been any longer than 10 minutes, I don’t know what I would have done.

So for all you people who ride trains, buses, planes, or whatever, and are determined to get the attention of people who choose to ignore you, here’s a great tactic. Read those people’s books into their ears, and see what kind of friends you can make.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


But…but we’ve got a unified branding strategy!

San Jose logos

You’ve got to love a city with a logo and a tagline. Right? Don’t you? How ’bout if we put it on the garbage cans?

Thursday, October 7, 2004


A revolting development

After a little more than two months in San Jose, I was finally getting used to the noise of low-flying jets in the neighborhood, but I was still pleased to hear a news report that the completion of a runway extension project at SJC “should also lead to a decrease in noise for residents under the landing path.”

Later when I read the airport’s press release myself, I noticed a detail that had escaped me earlier: With construction finished, the air traffic pattern would now return to its original position — just west of where it’s been for the last five months.

The upshot of this is that the planes I used to see flying low a few blocks away are now flying low right down my street. It’s a whole new world of airplane noise.

On the bright side, my visit to the SJC website turned me on to a very cool web tool. With AirportMonitor, you can watch the radar tracks of the planes going over my house (though they’re subject to a 10-minute delay). If that doesn’t fascinate you for some reason, the same system is available for Boston Logan, Newark, JFK, and others. While the origin/destination info on the planes always seems to be blank (for security reasons, one presumes), you can still see the heading, altitude, and aircraft type. It’s neat to see how airport traffic flows over the hills and around the bay, while high-altitude through traffic sails down the coast.

Thanks to this magnificent technology, I was able to figure out just how low the neighborhood planes fly. Answer: about 700 feet, which is low enough to make the bottom of a jet look very large.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Respect my uptime!

I read a Slashdot article a few weeks back reporting that modern Windows users have to reboot their systems about 8 percent of the time. Since the article being quoted is in French, and I don’t care enough to run it through the Google translator, this statistic and the methods used to find it might be horribly flawed, for all I know. But if half the Windows horror stories I hear are true, then 8 percent sounds a little low.

Many of my fellow students use Windows laptops in class, and I’ve definitely seen a few of them having to restart their huge, ugly beasts.

Thankfully, my major requires a Mac laptop, so the pain of rebooting has been unknown to me in the month or so that I’ve had the PowerBook.

A month without rebooting, you say? Check it out:


You can keep your Windows, thanks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


What became of the magic words?

Last week, at the train station near my house, a kid came up and asked for 50 cents to call his mom. If this had happened a couple years ago in San Francisco, I wouldn’t have even slowed down, but I’m trying to be a good neighbor and all that. The kid was only 8 or 9, and he really seemed like he needed a hand. All I had was a quarter, but I handed it over and told him he was halfway there.

He didn’t say a word. He just acted pissed that I didn’t give him enough, made a face, and walked away. Punk.

Today, as I walked into that same station, a girl of about 9 or 10 shouted “Hey! Hey you!” as she ran toward me with two or three much younger kids in tow. When I stopped, she asked for a phone to call her mom. Okay, so I’m a sucker. I gave her the phone.

“Hey! Hey Mom! Where are you?” There is nothing on earth as loud as a 10-year-old girl, and frequently, nothing more obnoxious. She hollered at her mom and proved herself to be a real brat. After it was decided that she would walk home, she shoved the phone back at me and walked off. Five minutes I spend helping this monster, and that’s the thanks I get.

I don’t want to get all parental and remind them to say please and thank you, but seriously, what the hell is wrong with these kids today? Everyone I’ve described here was well-dressed, clean, apparently healthy, and generally pretty normal. I bet they even use AOL at home. So why must they be such little savages?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Hints for living: college edition

Sunglasses are meant to be worn over the eyes. They are not a hair accessory.

Rolling luggage is for flight crews and other people who actually ride on airplanes. Get yourself a backpack.

If you’re going to use your laptop in class, cut your freaking nails. You sound like a blender full of plastic.

Nobody cares that you can twirl your pen. Cut it out.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Either you’re with us, or you’re with the hurricanes

I just glanced at the headlines and saw that the U.S. death toll for Hurricane Ivan has reached 45. Forty-five Americans killed by an invader to our shores! And that doesn’t take into account the victims of Charley and Frances, two other univited guests from foreign lands who came here, laid waste to our coastlines, then seemed to disappear. How much longer are we going to tolerate this?

The time has come to send a clear message to the weather by hunting down Charley, Frances and Ivan and bringing them to justice. This will be the beginning of our war on hurricanes, which shall not cease until bodies of warm air and cold air alike learn to live peacefully alongside one another, and respect the values of our homeland.

We stand at a crossroads in history, and it is up to us to secure this nation’s future. Now is the time to begin a new era of climate-building in order to ensure that our children never will never again have to live in fear of killer storms.

Monday, September 13, 2004


I walk through the valley of the shadow of silicon

So, this is San Jose. I can imagine less hospitable places, but it was a good plan to set my expectations low and be pleasantly surprised. Had I expected someplace as wonderful as, say, San Francisco, I would have been disappointed. (My apologies to pathological Valley-booster Leigh Weimers of the Mercury News, but that’s the way it is.) If San Francisco were New York, San Jose would be Paramus. A hot, dry Paramus with a million people.

Something else about San Jose: They didn’t bother to separate the airport from the city. As a result, the planes fly damn low over downtown, the university campus, and to a lesser degree, my house. Keep the volume control handy at all times.

Southwest jet

In contrast to the fanatically protected coast I just moved from, San Jose seems to have obliterated all signs of nature. I have seen a grand total of zero dolphins and seals in the streets, but there are a few hawks around, and a couple ratty-looking hummingbirds in my yard, god love ’em.

scruffy hummingbird
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Site news

Entering radio silence

A week without the internet. The thought gives me chills, but I must press on.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Zip codes pass like stars before my eyes

zipdecode is way too entertaining and informative. Written by a doctoral candidate at MIT, this beautiful web application is essentially an interactive zip code map. It’s the implementation of it that’s so amazing.

Click on “zoom,” then start typing in a zip code. Behold the quiet beauty of government planning.

The interface is so fluid, it encourages poking around and trying to make sense of the arrangement. Manhattan is 100. Washington is 200. Los Angeles is 900. San Francisco got 941. Can’t win ’em all.

I know this sounds dorky. Go check it out yourself.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Ah…now I get it

I guess I’ve known about RSS for a little while, but it was one of those technologies that solved a problem I didn’t have. In case you’re not hip to it, RSS is a scheme to deliver web content to other people and sites without delivering the whole site around it. (As with many such abbreviations, not everyone can agree on what it stands for, and nobody really cares. But “really simple syndication” makes good sense.) When you see Yahoo! headlines on some fool’s personal page, that’s RSS at work: Fool creates a little place for headlines to go on his page, and Yahoo! delivers them there whenever you visit, and takes care of updating them. If you want to include feeds on your site like baseball scores or the latest coverage from the Scott Peterson trial, RSS is great. But so what?

Here’s what: RSS readers. If you’re interested in keeping current on something without having to go and check on it every few minutes, RSS kicks ass.

Let’s say I’m looking for an apartment, because I am. I want to know about any two-bedroom cat-accepting place in Willow Glen as soon as it gets posted on craigslist, but I don’t want to go to the site every 15 minutes. Enter a program called NewsYouCanUse, one of many news readers available. I give it the RSS address corresponding to my craigslist search, then forget it. NYCU just sits quietly in the menu bar, checking craigslist every 15 minutes for me. If a match comes up, it gives me an audible alert, and the menu icon changes color. Blue means a new listing somewhere in the South Bay, and red indicates a new listing in my preferred neighborhood.

Is this such a fresh concept? Not really. I know the Windows world, especially, is full of geegaws that exploit RSS. But when something like this really fills a serious need, like finding a freaking apartment, it’s cool as hell.

Friday, July 16, 2004


My latest stolen idea


If I had gotten this post up in time, I would still be able to link to the July 8 article in the New York Times about a guy in England who’s come up with the splendid idea of using old telephone handsets in conjunction with modern cell phones, attaching them just as you would attach a hands-free headset. He calls his design Pokia, and lacking mass production and distribution, he sells the one-off prototypes on eBay. The last one went for around $200 this week.

As soon as I saw the article, I knew this was for me. Not because I want to cultivate a street style based on the Home & Garden section, but because I crave a phone that’s actually comfortable to speak on. Most of my phone conversations happen on a tiny little Motorola, even at home. There’s no good way to hold it for any extended period, and my hand cramps up trying. The plastic flexes and creaks audibly under normal use, and its flat design keeps the phone side of my face all sweaty and hot. I’ve tried using a hands-free dealie, and while that’s an improvement, I can’t help but feel a little insane when I speak without either a face or a mouthpiece in front of me. I had to have one of these things, but I wasn’t about to pay $200 for it.

The Times article assured me that the success of Pokia had inspired a legion of imitators, with knockoffs available on eBay and instructions available on the web. An eBay search turned up nothing. Thinking that I would need instructions to construct my own alternative handset, I scoured the web for an hour, but had no luck in finding so much as a wiring diagram.

I’m certainly no genius with electronics, but my limited grasp of audio circuitry made me think that the speaker and microphone in a Bell System handset probably wouldn’t just automatically work if you could plug them into a cell phone. I mean, why should they? You wouldn’t expect the audio standard on a modern battery-powered digital phone to be compatible with the Bell standard developed for line-powered phones decades ago. At least, I wouldn’t.

Undeterred by an almost complete lack of knowledge about what I was doing, I decided to just start working and see how close I could get to success. I had an old telephone receiver (a spare from my BellSouth payphone) lying around, so I had a head start. I also had a hands-free headset that came free with an old cell phone. I’ll spare you the gory details, but the bottom line is that it works, and it’s great. I think it delivers better audio to both parties in the conversation, and just like a landline phone, it lets you hear your own voice through the earpiece. I find that this diminishes my tendency toward “cell yell.”

Besides, let’s face it: for all the messing around done with telephone design over the last 20 years or so, has it ever improved? Is there a handset more comfortable and pleasant to use than the good old Western Electric style? I don’t think so.

handset in use

In case you came to this page in hopes of finding instructions on how to put this together, here’s the secret: There are four wires in your old handset. There are four wires inside the cord of the hands-free headset. Figure it out. If you can’t, I will personally build it for you, provided you pay me dearly for it.

Sunday, July 4, 2004


Free to be a crustacean

Today will be the Fourth of July I remember for finding a big old crayfish in Aptos Creek. I can’t believe this thing belongs here, but where did it come from? And how best to cook it?

Aptos crayfish

By the way, if you’re hiking around there and you find a goat, here’s the number to call.

lost goat

Man, I love it here.

Friday, July 2, 2004


Love me dew

Maybe I was way too captivated by these dewy spider webs. But damn, what a macro lens, huh? And the film scanner’s not so shabby, either. The web can’t show the level of detail present on these negatives, but you could really see it in, say, some prints that could be for sale soon.

dewy dewier dewiest
Thursday, July 1, 2004


Fun with awful music

I just got this link to an audio experiment proving just how crappy and formulaic Nickelback’s music is. They’re really on the periphery of my music awareness, so I was doubtful, but this is funny stuff.


This is Bush country

Not this site, of course, but the part of California from which it originates. Personally, I have a thing against chimps in general, and ignorant ones in particular. But the little slice of central California that I call home has already voted for Bush with its campaign contributions. I know because www.opensecrets.org told me so. Want to know who your town supports? Want to know the names and addresses of all the contributors, along with how much they gave and to whom? Of course you do. It’s pretty interesting.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


In agave da vida, honey

This strong, brave blue agave plant began as a shoot from our neighbor’s place in San Francisco. It had grown under a fence and through a rock wall with its point facing east instead of up. I put it in a pot for a while, and while it got pretty big, it didn’t really flourish like an agave should.

A couple years later, with great difficulty, I hauled the agave down to Aptos and put its ten feet of potbound roots in the ground. It doesn’t get as much sun as it would like in that spot, but it’s still growing into a big, fearsome plant. It’s also spawned about eight new plants.

The other day, I saw a shaft of light illuminating the slow process of a new leaf unfolding. These things are like the tortoises of the plant world — it’ll be another couple weeks before the leaf opens fully.

Monday, June 28, 2004


View the dew

The June gloom is here in full force, meaning no sun today as the inland valleys bake and the coast gets blanketed in fog.

On the plus side, the morning dew didn’t disappear so fast today, so I saw some pretty scenes. Dew had accumulated on the spider webs in my garden, and it just seemed to levitate above the plants. The scene was so good, I came back with the SLR, but it’ll be a few days before I get those pictures back.

le dew
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Neither here nor there

Ancient, annoying jingle of the day

Not sure what I owe this to, but I woke up this morning with a 20-year-old jingle from a New York mattress dealer in my head.

Have more fun in bed!
Have more fun in bed!
Buy your bed at Kleinsleep,
and have more fun in bed.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Site news

Stupid MSIE!

I thought I had ironed out the problem with this page losing its two-column format when viewed on a PC. From what I’m told, though, it’s only a problem if you’re using Explorer. Since that describes about 99 percent of you, I’m still trying to figure out a fix. In the meantime, sorry for all the scrolling.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


That heavenly coffee

For three years now, I’ve been complimenting Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee for retaining the World Trade Center as part of the skyline pictured on their cans. Hats off to them for not jumping to change their decades-old design for fear of offending someone. After all, they didn’t destroy the towers, and the can design is a classic.

Well, everything has to come to an end, I suppose. I just now read that the cans are changing. Sigh.

Site news

A sense of history

While I’m reluctant to characterize this front page as a blog, I guess that’s what most people would call a personal web page with frequent pointless posts.

With that in mind, I’ve finally set up an old blog standby: the archive. At the very bottom of the left-hand column, you’ll find links to all my old posts, a month or a year at a time. I’ve tried to preserve all the old links and media I posted, but if something doesn’t work anymore, well, that’s the web for you.

You’ll also notice that every post now has a “permanent link” in it. Just as the name implies, that link won’t change even after the post scrolls off the bottom of the page. If you want to bookmark an entry or link to it on your site, that’s what you should use.


This fish is starting to stink

Got the new Phish record the other day, and while this is a preliminary assessment, I don’t think this review is too far off the mark:

If my band had just released this CD, I’d probably want to break up, too.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Ah, summer

Looked up through the apple tree yesterday, and there was Luna.

la luna
Saturday, May 29, 2004


A couple cool links

There are two great sites that I’ve been meaning to add links for, but I keep forgetting. Luckily, two legal issues in the news have caused me to remember.

The California Coastal Records Project has thousands of aerial photos of the coastline, and they’re fascinating to look through. Once you pick a place to start, the site makes it easy to cruise up and down the coast, zooming in when you want to. Since I don’t have any friends with boats, planes, or helicopters, it’s all new to me — my local beach is a different place when you’re looking east.

Like me, Barbara Streisand has a home that’s visible in a photo on the site. Unlike me, Babs has sued the creators of the site for making her more vulnerable to stalkers or some garbage like that. (In fairness, her home is a good deal more visible than mine, and she’s much more stalker-worthy than I.) Now she’s the one paying their legal fees. Hooray!

On the other coast, www.nycsubway.org has been on my mind because of New York’s proposed ban on cameras in the subways. There are a lot of fools like me who think trains are cool, photogenic things, and they’re rightfully hot and bothered about not being able to take pictures anymore.

Funny thing is, I thought there had always been a ban on cameras in the subway. Last I knew, there was, but apparently they lifted it in 1994, by which time I was in California and unaware of what the MTA was doing. That’s why you won’t find any pictures of the NYC subway here. Except for a little video. Shhhh.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Site news

New section buffed, polished

A helpful reader pointed out that all the Cabrillo Voice articles I posted were pretty tough to read. Truth is, I don’t have that much experience making pdfs, so I screwed it up a little the first time. The files are now a little larger byte-wise, but they should have much larger type, as well. Keep in mind when you look at these that they’re much clearer at certain magnifications than at others — zoom in and out a little, and you should be able to get very sharp type.

These new versions come straight from the page layout program, rather than from scans, so they should look pretty damn snappy. Well, except for the faculty authors piece, which is still a crumby scan. That should be fixed next week.

My last article for the Voice is posted now.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


What a coincidence!

And I have a cure for an illiterate president! I’ll tell you about it in November.


Yahoo! Weather: When you absolutely, positively need to know the temperature within 40 or 50 degrees

Wherever you are tonight, bundle up!

Thursday, May 20, 2004


I got yer gas prices right here

This is getting insane.

spendy gas
Friday, May 14, 2004


They grow ’em small in Jersey

Before I saw this headline, I had no idea that the NJSO was so very tiny.

FBI Investigates NJ Orchestra In Violin Case

Site news

New section, new content

Because I’m saving all my stories for the college newspaper in pdf format, I thought I might as well post them here.

None of them are Pulitzer material, but I’m sorta proud of the story that ran today. I worked hard on a photo idea, and I think it worked out pretty well. Part two of the story will run two weeks from now.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


“There’s nothing left that won’t cross over”

I noticed on iTunes the other day that there’s a new Phish single, which is odd because they don’t usually go that traditional route of releasing a single before the album. It’s also odd because the song is eerily radio-friendly and un-Phishy. No interminable Tube Screamer guitar solo, no awkward goofy lyrics, and the whole thing’s less than three minutes long. Could this be their “Touch of Grey,” the radio hit 20 years in the making?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004



must every sandwich on TV feature ingredients that are “piled high”?

No piles for me, thanks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Site news

Yeh, I’m still here

And I’m going to graduate in a month. What the hell’s going on around here?

Well, there’s an awful lot of work yet to be done, so I’m not posting very much right now. Obviously.

On the other hand, I have been working on rebuilding this site with leaner, meaner code. It won’t look very different on the outside, but it should load more quickly, and future updates will be much easier to do.

I’m also thinking about making all the images a little smaller, so that the whole page fits on a 1024 x 768 screen without scrolling. Of course, I could accomodate people with 800 x 600 screens … but how many people is that? What do you use? Let me know, why dontcha.

There’s a new mp3 today from Ann Arbor pop legend Frank Allison. There is no justice in a world that ignores him while allowing Counting Crows a career. About this mp3 thing, though: I don’t know if I’ll continue posting them. The lawsuits are telling me to quit, as is the fact that few people apart from Yale students appear to be downloading the songs I put up here. If taking away the mp3s would break your heart, let me know. Otherwise, expect them to fade away soon.

Anything else you’d suggest? For the love of God, let me know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Something I’ve always wanted to do

Today’s Chronicle had a good article by a man on a quest to walk every foot of San Francisco’s streets. I really enjoy walking around the city, and I often thought about trying to walk it all. After reading the particulars laid out by this guy (2,350 streets, 850 miles), I’ll probably think about it a lot less.

When I move back, though, I’ll probably resume work toward my goal of visiting all 200-odd city parks.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Marilyn’s a mess

It’s not every Sunday that I read Parade magazine, but sometimes I just want to put my finger on the pulse of Americans who love seasonal flags and collectible porcelain figurines.

This last Sunday, I saw another example of the reverse sexism that’s so popular these days. “Ask Marilyn,” the Q&A with the record holder for high IQ, took two stabs at men in the way TV commercials do: “Oh, those men are as clean as pigs and as smart as dogs, but you can train ’em, girls!” I won’t violate the copyright here, but you can find a copy of Parade in your local laundromat or bus shelter, or go to the Parade archives after Sunday and you can check it out.

Or you can just get the idea from the email I wrote her:

Dear Marilyn,
Thank you for showing your readers that intelligence does not equal good judgment, and that smart people can be biased, too.
In this week’s column, you printed a reader’s comment that the phrase “Primary Colors” answers the question, “What are the only three colors men can correctly identify by name?”
Let’s imagine that the phrase given was “makeup mirror” instead. Had I suggested that was the answer to “What’s the only part of a car that women fully understand?”, would you have thought that a funny response and printed it, or thought it a rash, sexist generalization that only perpetuates faulty stereotypes?
I realize that the joke was not your own, but your decision to include it in your widely read column signifies your support of it.
Anyone doubting the sexist bias of your column needs only to read to the end, where you answer a gender-neutral question about human hearing with, “I could believe that [people] lose a large chunk of their brainpower [when naked] — especially men.”
Now let’s imagine that I’m the one writing the column. You write in with, “Is it true that people get hungrier in shopping malls?” and I respond like this: “I don’t know about that, but people sure seem to get violent around sale tables — especially women.” Offensive, no?
Marilyn, I’m sure you wouldn’t demean your own gender with such thoughtless comments. Please give men the same courtesy in the future.
Daniel Esch

Tuesday, April 6, 2004


This bear just fell out of a book

Ursus label

I picked this label off the beer I got at a Romanian restaurant in Queens last December. Romanian wasn't my first choice, mind you, but it was too painfully cold outside to go strolling Queens Blvd. looking for something less weird. We were the only non-Romanians there, I think, but it was a fine meal, and we got to hear some local stars of Romanian music. The beer from the homeland did not suck.

Next time inclement weather forces you into a Romanian restaurant, reach for an Ursus.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


Two video classics

Understand that neither of these are mine, but I believe they deserve to be seen.

Orson Welles, if you don’t remember, was a pitchman for supermarket wine toward the end of his life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this clip would indicate he drank a fair amount of that wine as well.

I’ve long heard about William Shatner’s worst-ever interpretation of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” but I had never seen it until recently. Now you, too, can revel in its awfulness.

You can thank me later.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Neither here nor there

Sounds of bells and hammers

I forgot to mention another excellent aspect of the phone: the sound.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Severe weather alert

I want to reassure the folks back east that our 80-degree weather didn’t last forever. For the first time in two weeks, I wore something other than shorts and sandals to school. Already tonight, the mercury has plummeted to 55. Brrrr.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Coolest gift ever?

It’s shiny

payphone 1

It’s intact

payphone 2

It’s the real thing

payphone 3

This Christmas gift took longer to get here than all the others, but it was well worth the suspense. I am now the proud owner of 45 pounds of Baby Bell steel, fully functional and currently not requiring coins.* It looks bad-ass, and it has a receiver you could give someone a serious bludgeoning with. Thanks, Bill!

*Terms subject to change before your next visit.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Site news

Web shockers pt. 2

More weirdness from the traffic stats: At the risk of disappointing these same six people again, here are the web searches that led them to my site:

i am not a number i am a free man
elliott smith wallpaper
fotos de rodney dangerfields
i am not a number a free man you are the new number

Mind you, I have deliberately avoided doing things that would get me listed in search engines, but their persistent little robots found me anyway.

Did you know there’s a .aero top-level domain for the air transport industry? Me neither, but one of them stopped by. Also in my magic mirror, I see … someone in Canada! Making up 0.29% of the traffic! Graham? Nancy? Who are you?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Site news

They’re tops

There are three new desktops available on the Desktops page.

I took my first look at the traffic statistics for this site, and much to my surprise, there are people coming here and looking at stuff. Lots of people. Every day. If I told you how many, you wouldn’t believe me. So who are you? Let me know.

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Site news

It’s on

Two new galleries, as promised. I’ve recently taken my Mamiya TLR to Big Creek Lumber and New York, scanned the negatives, and off we go.

There’s now an “About the Photographs” page that offers a guide to the 11 galleries on the site. There’s a link at the top of the third column over there, as well as at the top of every gallery home page. As I think of more things that need explaining, I’ll add them.

In describing the photographs, I found myself needing to explain the cameras, so there’s a page for that too now. It’s linked in the second column of this page and all over the Photographs page.

Want more? There’s more. I’ve collected the few video clips I’ve made and given them their own page. Included on that page is the movie I’ve been wanting to make for seven years.

I welcome feedback. Drop me a line.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Site news

Days late. Dollars short.

At last, at last — pictures from New York in December and Davenport in November are up and running. These are the first galleries I’ve done with scanned film instead of scanned prints. With the exception of one or two pictures in the New York set, the images came from the Epson 3170 flatbed scanner. It does a pretty fine job, and it’s a little easier than the darkroom.