Friday, August 28, 2009

Things I Want

You can add to the list a solar-powered hybrid robotic lawn mower. How cool is this? Apparently it's in the neighborhood of $3,000 worth of cool... and damn, not sure that's going to fly right now, but I have to tell you... it sure is tempting. The funny part is that I actually enjoy mowing the lawn, we just happen to have a broken lawn mower right now and a heckuva lot of grass to tend to, so we're without a great solution, and then comes along the internet to tempt me with robotic solutions.

Wind! Huh... good god, what is it good for?

Quite a bit in the right circumstances. There was a very nicely put together piece on wind energy on NPR yesterday as I drove home. This morning I tracked it down on Follow the link to either read or listen to the story. One piece that was encouraging given what I find myself doing these days was to hear an expert say that residential solar is really the best solution on the market right now for homeowners or businesses with a small need for electric generation. Wind is such promising technology, and it was fascinating to get All Things Considered's perspective on where the wind industry stands.

WashPo Poll Shows Americans like Obama Energy Policy

We want cap and trade (subscription required - but only a free one), say 52% of Americans... probably if they worded it something like, "would you support a system where companies that pollute beyond certain reasonable thresholds are required to make contributions to a system that invests in renewable energy projects" that 52% might grow. Anyway, this is awesome. Thank you Washington Post, and thank you America for being friggin awesome. Now, Congress, are you listening!?!?!? Seriously! Let's get this cap & trade done, already.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An interesting peek at Iran

I stumbled today upon an interesting collection of images from Iran pulled together by a guy who's a student at teh New School in NYC... he was interested in showing some of what normal life (before the election and the ensuing protests) looks (or looked) like in the streets of a nation many Americans know so little about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PA to have 2 Democratic Senators as of later today, Democrats to have even bigger less filibuster-prone majority!

Wowzers... so PA has played big this year... the Phillies won the World Series, the Steelers the Superbowl... the Sixers and Flyers made the playoffs (at least I think the Flyers did, right?) but no sports action can quite rival what's going on in Washington today thanks to the Keystone State. With almost 30 years of service in the Senate, stalwart independent/moderate Republican Arlen Specter is announcing later today that he will switch party affiliations to join the majority and (once the whole Minnesota debacle is settled) provide a filibuster-proof margin to the Democrats in the US Senate.

Now, Specter has been facing up with the prospects of a concerted challenge from right-wingers in PA come the next round of elections, and while he enjoys a high degree of popularity back home the state laws are such that only registered Republicans can vote in their party's primary for the Senate seat. If Specter lost the Republican primary he would not be able to run as an independent like Lieberman did up here in CT... so there certainly is some smart political calculus behind the decision. Anyway, this is a pretty monumental day in politics, PA state politics and a big day for Democratic priorities up on Capital Hill!
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. - from a statement released by Specter today
Thanks, Arlen!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oklahoma suddenly a much much cooler state, after all

Why? Because their official state rock song (how many states are even cool enough to have one of those?) is "Do You Realize?" by the Flaming Lips, one of my all-time favorite bands! If you don't feel the coolness yet, read more about the epic legislative battle and internets vote that lead to this triumphant outcome.

Or you could just listen to some of the song and get the idea of what a Flaming Lips show is like below!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weren't they going to secede already?

Wow... Texas produces another of its wonderful turdblossoms in the form of this amazing exchange that took place in the house of representatives on the pressing subject of where oil comes from.

Wow, it's frightening to think this guy helps write/decide on our laws. What a dingbat.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Turkish Um... You know... thing, with music and craziness

Wonkette posted this, and I couldn't resist passing it along.

Happy Friday folks! It's getting up to the 70's here in CT today! Wahoo!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

R.I.P. Harry, Voice of the Phillies and the summers of my childhood.

I've been waiting for the right video to post about this, and since Jayson Stark, who is now a baseball commentator for ESPN wrote about sports and baseball in Philly for many years I think this one, narrated by Jason is the right one:

... from a description of yesterday's game:
After Victorino homered in the third, he crossed himself and then pointed up to the booth at Nationals Park where Kalas was supposed to be working.
The day was full of tributes to a man who will be dearly missed.

From a story on about tributes to Harry:
...But to properly honor Kalas throughout the remainder of the 2009 season, players, coaches and manager Charlie Manuel will wear "HK" patches on their uniforms. The black circular patch will be located on the front of the jersey near the heart.

It seems a fitting tribute for a man who Phillies fans loved for 39 years.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Will your job be outsourced to Dr. Roboto?

Yahoo News reported yesterday that scientists have created robot scientists, capable of reasoning about scientific data and drawing conclusions, planning subsequent experiments, etc.
At Aberystwyth University in Wales, Ross King and colleagues have created a robot called Adam that can not only carry out experiments on yeast metabolism but also reason about the results and plan the next experiment.

It is the world's first example of a machine that has made an independent scientific discovery -- in this case, new facts about the genetic make-up of baker's yeast.

"On its own it can think of hypotheses and then do the experiments, and we've checked that it's got the results correct," King said in an interview.
Watchout! It's only a matter of time until they advance so that the robot scientists are made of liquid metal and can shift into any shape or form they like, then we're all doomed!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

TPM TV's Thursday in 100 Seconds

This is a fun bit of editing wonderment, put together by the folks over at This is a regular feature of their site, but yesterday's antics up on Capitol Hill made for an entertaining barrage of rhetoric... so enjoy! I have now watched the Stephen Colbert clip you'll see late in this video a handful of times, and I continue to be amazed by Meredith Viera conceding that she, like Stephen has "twatted."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Shatterproof Wooden Baseball Bat?

The resiliency of popular maple bats was a hot topic in the major leagues last year as several people were grievously injured by shattered pieces of the nontraditional wood. In an article on the recovery of a Pittsburgh Pirates coach who was injured by a broken bat, an ESPN article linked to the interesting story of a guy in New Jersey who quit his consulting job to start a company that makes "shatterproof" bats out of wedges of wood using glue and pressure. The bats won't be appearing in MLB games anytime soon but as somebody who always liked the feel of wood a bit better than that of an aluminum bat, I was really intrigued by the idea.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Photo Galleries

I like pictures. I like them quite a bit, actually, so I enjoy the way the web has become a fun place to view strange collections of photos. Huffington Post often collects little slideshows to accompany the main news stories of the day, or even to illustrate something smaller... say, Michelle Obama's hugs. Yup, that's right. Today I found a gallery of photos of the first lady hugging people on HuffPo. Wow. I really don't quite know what more to say about this 'cept, um... wow.

Now, don't get me wrong, it looks like Michelle gives out a good hug, and who doesn't like a good hug, after all? But... well... bah, what do I know. I looked at it, and now you can too.

So, aside from hug slideshows, what else is fun out there this Friday? How about Sesame Street explaining the Bernie Madoff Scandal?

Have a good day, don't get ripped off out there, and hug someone you love this Friday, the 13th!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Doom Bunker!

Stephen Colbert takes some inspiration from Glenn Beck... and goes nuts. I laughed really hard at this though, so enjoy.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Rob Riggle Says... Drive Safe!

I honestly am not so sure what to say about these PSAs... other than that they are strange enough that I thought I would post a couple. This first one stars Rob Riggle, formerly of the Daily Show...

...and the other stars a lady who I know appears regularly on Best Week Ever.

Music to warm your snow-bound heart

Witness the musical stylings of your friends @ the Office.

What the... Duck???

My mom forwarded this video today, and I think it's the proper antidote to our March NE snowstorm:


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Response to the Response to the Response

I just caught this on Huffington Post and couldn't help sharing it with you all for various reasons:
  1. to test and see if there is still a "you all"
  2. because I haven't been posting enough recently
  3. because it's pretty funny (although it's no fake trailer for a Disney movie about Sarah Palin... damn, I still love that... gotta go back and watch... "You pucked with the wrong Ice President!"
  4. Kenneth the page is involved... and 30 Rock is such a funny funny amazing show that brings sunshine into my life
  5. Latest excuse to create a numbered list

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rez Abbasi: a case study in the weirdness of Amazon reviews

I've become a considerable fan of Rez Abassi, a talented young guitarist who has studied classical, jazz and Indian music. My introduction was his work on Rudresh Mahanthappa's absorbing Kinsmen album, but I thought I wouldn't mind checking out the work Abassi has done as a bandleader. So, as is typical, I began looking on Amazon to see what there was. I read two reviews of Bazaar that talked about Abassi as a master of the "surf guitar" and was a little taken aback. I don't really hear any surf in his music (whatever that sounds like!). What made me chuckle though, is an additional review, by none other than the master himself, that puts everything in perspective.

"Thanks guys for your nice comments.

Just to set the record straight, I am NOT influenced by "surf music". The liner notes say I grew up in Southern California near the beach and did BTW, surf. Influences here are jazz, classical and Indian music.
All the best."

The funny thing is that the other reviewers really seem to know their stuff. I wonder if they intended it as a joke. Anyway, I got a kick out of it and thought I would share.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heading Home, a baseball legacy comes full circle...

Ken Griffey Jr. is headed back to Seattle, and I, for one, really can't see anything wrong or sad or problematic about this idea. I read two articles on this morning about the Mariner's signing of Junior, and while they took markedly different views on the matter (pro and con), I side with those who say this is a good move for Seattle. I think that it is actually a good move for baseball in general. One thing that struck me as a kid who grew up in Philadelphia, watching Mike Schmidt play his whole Hall of Fame career (complete with its ups and downs) in one town, and also watching Cal Ripken do the same down in Baltimore just a few hours away that a star baseball player having a strong relationship to a town has become a truly rare thing these days.

This offseason we saw John Smoltz, who played almost two decades for Atlanta sign with the Red Sox, and I think we've all grown weary of the ARod tales about mounting pressures playing on different stages, for bigger contracts in new cities. Meanwhile, Griffey is one who has bounced aroud as well, taking advantage of his early success to land a huge deal that was supposed to simulatneously bring the kid home to Ohio and restore the strength of the Cincinatti Red's franchise. Anyone who was paying attention knows that story didn't end quite as it was predicted, and in a reasonable move, Junior spent the end of last season in Chicago trying to help the White Sox eek out another trip to the playoffs.

Now, after may years, the kid returns home to Seattle, where his story began back in the my childhood years. While writers and fans alike can quibble about whether this is a smart move, a marketing ploy, a healthy thing for the team, etc. it strikes me that this just seems like such a feel-good choice. The Mariners are not paying Griffey a ton, and they aren't taking the biggest risk ever. If it works, I beleive it might just be seen as a brilliant choice, and for a franchise with a real need to develop young talent, I really can't imagine a better influence to have around the clubhouse. Sure, he isn't a kid anymore, and there is a reasonable chance he'll get injured again this year. Even if he doesn't he may ride the pine more than he or some nostalgic fans might like, but if there is anything that has consistently been true about Ken Griffey Jr. over all the seasons, struggles and glories of his career thus far, it is this: the kid truly embodies the joy of the game. If I were a General Manager looking to concoct a formula for building strength for the future, I can imagine few ingredients I would prize more than bringing joy and passion into my clubhouse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1,000 Shady eBay Electronics Stores Just Cried Out in Pain ...

... because of this story reported by CNN. In a victory for the environment, consumers, and common sense in general, cell phone manufacturers are pledging to move entirely to a common micro USB charger standard by 2012. This has been a long time coming. I can't tell you how happy I was to find that my new phone used the same micro USB plug as my old one. I happier still when I got to return the new travel charger I'd just bought to the Verizon store.

Of course, cell phone companies will just roll the profits they were making off of these accessories into the price they charge for the handsets themselves but at least we'll be throwing away less obsolete electronics this way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dutch Tango? Van Twillert/ Van Beck's Tribute to Astor Piazzolla

Tributes to Astor Piazzolla seem to be cropping up lately. There's the one by Yo Yo Ma, and the jazz-driven works by Gary Burton and friends. You might ask what two classically trained Dutch Performers would bring to the table. Quite a lot, as it turns out.
A bit of background: Astor Piazzolla was the Argentinian bandoneon-player and composer who is often called the Duke Ellington of the Tango, the person who brought a musical form out of the dance hall and into the concert hall. Even more than Ellington, however, he had serious classical training, having studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His music brings elements of jazz and classical music to the Tango, traditionally an exciting but less than adventurous kind of dance music. For this he was at first despised, and then revered in his native Argentina (in New York and Italy, however, reverence always seems to have been the reaction). He recorded numerous records as a bandleader with several of them, most notably Zero Hour and The New Tango, considered classics.

Now, unto the task at hand: Saxophonist Henk van Twillert and violinist Sonja van Beek decided that they would do the obvious: get together with a string quintet and record some tango. The bandoneon, Piazzolla's instrument and the tango's main voice, is completely absent, with its place taken by the sax. The vibes and percussion that characterize much of Piazzolla's music are also gone. The result, however, is entirely something the composer would have been proud of. Burton's highly regarded outings for Concord reminded us how much jazz is in Piazzolla's music. In this case, our Dutch friends remind us how much Astor took from the European classical tradition. His music sounds as appropriate with a string quintet as a jazz combo.
Don't get the wrong idea though. This is tango, not chamber music and it positively swings, or stomps, or whatever it is tango does when it makes you want to move. I can't dance tango to save my life but if I could, I bet I could dance to this. The playing is exemplary all around, and some of the slower pieces are particularly beautiful. Van Beek plays a 1709 Strad' and her tone is truly lovely.

This is probably not the best introduction to Piazzolla's work-- it isn't meant to be. But, if you're a Astorhead like me, it's a fresh and satisfying take on the music of one of the 20th century's greatest talents, in any genre.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Drill Baby Drill into the Future???

Well, the GOP had a bit of a tough time picking their new leader but in the end they chose Michael Steele, Lt. Governor of Maryland. Grist magazine helpfully points out today that one of Steele's biggest accomplishments to date has been coining the term, "Drill, baby! Drill!"

That's right! You mighta thunk it was our pal Sarah, but I'll say it ain't so, Joe. It was Mikey who likes oil and drilling so much that he put this clever little tidbit together, and only after it had slipped out of his mouth did it later gain legs and become the happy-go-lucky rallying cry of Mrs. Palin and so so so so so many Republicans from sea to shinging sea.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Liveblogging the latest interesting live event on the TV

The Boss is rockin' "Glory Days" on the Teevee and Kim and I kicked some household chores' butts all afternoon so I gots to thinking, what should I be doing right now?

Liveblogggin! That's what!

8:17 PM - "IT's BOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS TIME!!!!!" Um... wow.
8:19 PM - Well the Max Weinberg halftime show was AWESOME, at least in my humble opinion.

9:50 PM - Ok... um... my liveblogging skills clearly do not extend to sporting events. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Live-Blog

Good Morning everyone, and a Good... nope... GREAT morning it is!

9:10AM - CNN says that Washington DC's Metro Transit says 207,000 people have entered the metro system today by 7am to ride trains down to the mall and take in the festivities. Watching on TV it looks pretty crowded down there, which I'm sure makes folks happy as it is also pretty chilly so hopefully the crowd can huddle together and stay warm. Oh what a day.

9:26AM - MSNBC's ticker reads, "Security Checkpoints Overwhelmed as DC Streets Fill" while they run video of Metro stations with lines stretching blocks away of folks trying to get on a train to head down to the mall. Secret Service estimates put the crowd number between 1 and 2 million.

9:54AM - On MSNBC's Morning Joe, "One wants to get in the White House, one can't wait to get out!" says Joe Scarborough of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

9:57AM - They just predicted there are more than 1 or 2 but more like numerous millions of people out in DC today. I am struck, and I don't know if other folks are watching along feeling this way, but I am struck by the beautiful canvas of America that you can see out on the national mall today. Not only is there racial diversity, inter-generational diversity, but there is also this profound feeling of elation that is palpable as you scan across the faces of America represented today out on the mall. The energy, the hope is real.

10:47AM - Obama and Bush just emerged from the White House and hopped into a limo to ride over to the stage for the swearing-in. Also, I just saw Mark Warner talking with John McCain as they both joined the dignitaries who are gathering on the stage for the swearing-in.

11:15AM - As the moment draws closer, it really is pretty overwhelming. It's fun to watch some of the dignitaries that are streaming in, former Presidents and Vice Presidents. Bill and Hillary look great. George H.W. Bush looks either like he's showing some signs of his age in his gate, or like he is very very bundled up for the cold (which may be the case, and if so is probably wise), Jimmy and Roslyn Carter both look quite vibrant. I predicted on Facebook that this morning's events would give me chills. Well... here they are, the chills that is.

11:28AM - CNN Just mentioned that at noon Easter time, regardless of whether sworn in or not the Constitution says Barack Obama will be our President. They said this in the context of mentioning that the ceremony appears to be running a few minutes behind schedule right now.

11:30AM - I can hear the crowd breaking into chats of, "Obama! Obama!"

11:34AM - Kimmy says by txt, "Michelle looks beautiful!" and I couldn't agree more. Sasha and Malia as well, what lovely girls they are... such a striking first lady. The folks on MSNBC are getting choked up, and I can't help but agree with them.

11:37AM - "This is all really happening!" - Keith Olbermann. Awwwww, he's so gushy this morning.

11:38AM - MSNBC just had a nice shot of Obama and some others in the tunnel approaching the stage, and Nancy Pelosi had a nice warm smile as she walked a few paces in front of the President-elect. They also mentioned how the flags you see in the crowd were distributed free of charge to whomever wanted them... very cool... Inredible to see the undulating flags throughout.

11:40AM - Supposedly we're now about 15 minutes behind schedule. Oh well... can't imagine anyone much would be bothered by having this moment extend a bit just so we can all savor it.

11:47AM - Dianne Feinstein is eloquent, inspired, and clear.

11:47AM - Warren was a controversial choice, but not a controversial voice this morning:
Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all. May all people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.
11:55AM - Aretha Franklin's voice is stirring, she looks great and damn she can still belt it out with unrivaled gravitas. Great choice. Very cool. Kim likes her hat too! The arrangement of 'Tis of Thee is pretty nice, I have to say. Elaborate and appropriately ceremonious but not entirely over the top.

11:58AM - Biden is sworn in. I think Justice Stevens may have accidentally finished by saying, "Thank you, Mr. President" but Stevens is getting up there in years, so you can look past the slip, right?

12:00PM January 20, 2008 - Barack Obama is our President. He will be sworn in momentarily, but by law he is now the leader of our great nation. Fun facts, CNN just broke into the music being played by Yo Yo Ma and others to mention the fact I just typed up. Also, before that they have this funny little, "FACT: " bar at the bottom of the screen that has been displayign interesting tidbits all morning... prior to it clicking over to noon the fact was simply their listing of what music was being played by whom. True, that was a fact... but weird that they listed it as such... it was really more a program note, like you're listening to ___. Ha ha ha. Fun with cable news. It didn't end with all this change that's coming in.

12:03PM - It seems cool to me that noon passed with folks playing simple gifts, a tune I've always loved and one that seems very appropriate and cool for this profound moment.

12:05PM - Some funny little slips from John Roberts in the administering of the oath... but it is done! WE'VE GOT A NEW PREZ!!!!!!

12:13PM - Oh noes! I'm on delay now watching Obama's speech because I got a work call and had to pause the proceedings. Thank God for DVR!!!!!11!1

12:19PM - (on delay) "Starting today we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America."

... I also appreciated, "...we will restore Science's rightful place..."

12:21PM - (on delay: actual time was 12:16) I like the first daughter filming daddy's speech on her digital camera. Very cool!

12:23PM - (still on delay) "We are ready to lead once more."

... "our power grows from its' prudent use."

12:24PM - (still on delay) Obama's flag pin glistens in the sun like a ray of Change Hope Sunshine happiness.

12:41PM - Capt. Sully is at Inauguration!!!

1:04PM - YES! I hope this makes Daily Show! On CNN Wolf Blitzer was just talking about Barack Obama's penmanship.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Liveblogging the Inaugural Bonanza!

Ok... so I'm not sure if anybody who used to normally read the blog even bothers anymore, given that I've been neglecting it so, but I'm hoping to pick things back up a bit here and I'll start by blogging along tomorrow as I watch Barack Obama sworn in live on CNN. I think the swearing in starts at 11:30, with Obama's inaugural address to follow. I'm lucky enough to have no appointments for work so I'll be able to spend my day working away on some follow-up and paperwork and then take time off around 11:30 to bask in the excitement of tomorrow's events. I hope you are as lucky, and if you're near a computer when you do so, feel free to join me!

A celebration of the day, and the day to come tomorrow

The BBC unearthed a clip you can see here where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is asked (in 1964) about the possibility that America could elect an African American president within 40 years, something Robert Kennedy predicted might happen at the time. Dr. King suggested that not only were there black men who were qualified at the time, but that he could imagine scenarios in which this might happen as soon as within the next 25 years (or by 1989). While we didn't quite live up to Dr. King's hopeful time-line, it is wonderful to think about tomorrow in the context of celebrating Dr. King's life today.

I don't know how you all are feeling, but I'm excited about the prospect of feeling hopeful and inspired by my President. Even now, with the change of power only a day away, it still can't come soon enough.

God bless America.

I wish I was down in DC to celebrate!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Congratulations are in order...

for Senator Franken (D) MN, pronounced the winner of this November's election match-up with incumbent Norm Coleman. Wowzers... very cool.

I'm home this week spending time with family and mourning the loss of my Aunt Andy. The memorial service was today and was really very fitting and lovely. It was a mild day, especially by January in Philadelphia standards, and after the ceremony and a trip to Ivy Hill Cemetary we gathered back and Andy and Ray's house for a wonderful afternoon of recollections, pastries, coffee, beer, wine, and later the last few stragglers dined on pizza. Tomorrow a wintery mix will settle over the tri-state area, but for today we had grey skies and dry sidewalks, sad eyes but good memories.