Archive for February, 2008
Here is an awesome Flickr slideshow that represents well known songs as charts and graphs. Go look at the whole thing, but here are a couple of my favorites:
(Hat tip: Willow Gross)
Like, for instance, typing with your nose. According to CNET, it’s a useful skill when you want to dial a phone number, but you don’t want to take your gloves off on the ski lift.
Those with insanely good memories will remember back in July of 2007, when I learned of the fire at Este Pizza by analyzing my web server logs. Este Pizza, of course, is the Salt Lake City pizzeria that was the source of the not-yet-executed-but-still-hoping-it-happens-one-day Great Simple Tricks Pizza Challenge, in which Chenopup (and Este’s owner, Dave) attempt to defend their claim that Este Pizza makes a pizza that “rivals or excels over the best New York has to offer.”
At any rate, I received this e-mail from Chenopup this evening:
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:12 PM
Subject: Este Pizza Back in Business!!!!
I just got word today that Este Pizza has reopened and done a little stylin’ in the same location but interior has changed now. I’m going by tomorrow to take pics.
Spread the word. The gates to Pizza Heaven have reopened :)
I’m thrilled to hear it. Gentlemen, start your ovens…
So I get this e-mail a couple of weeks ago from Citigroup, marketers of my Citi MasterCard. It says I have an opportunity to purchase advance tickets to Billy Joel’s “Last Play at Shea” concert on July 16th, which will be the last rock concert at Shea Stadium before they tear it down in favor of the new Citi Field, currently being built in the parking lot next door (funny how Citi’s name is all over everything here, right?)
Little did I know how valuable an e-mail that was…
At 9AM on Saturday (2/16), I logged on to 507tixx.com and put in my special password. Viola – I got right in and purchased four tickets on the field. They were a bit pricey ($110/ticket), but what the heck – it’ll be a special night, right? The last concert ever at Shea Stadium. History.
Well, not so much. It seems that Mets season ticket holders were allowed to buy tickets two days earlier, and then the rest of the stadium sold out in 48 minutes. Also, 507tixx.com had problems handling all the volume, and by 10AM on Saturday, a lot of angry, shut-out Billy Joel fans found 441 listings for tickets on StubHub, top asking price: $99,215. As a result, a second show was added on July 18th, making the show I bought tickets for the (somewhat less historic) Second-to-Last Play at Shea.
I’m of mixed emotions on this. On the one hand, I thought I was going to see history being made, and now there’s a little less of that. On the other hand, Joel has always been disgusted by scalpers, so I’m sure he’s no fan of StubHub either. Adding a second show definitely gave fans who weren’t able to buy tickets another chance to do so at (somewhat) reasonable prices. On the third hand (what? why can’t there be three hands?), history aside, if I knew there were two shows in the first place, I would definitely have tried for the Friday night show, avoiding the need to trek out to Queens on a Wednesday night (I live in New Jersey, so it’s a schlep – especially on a work night).
On the whole, I’m not really upset at all. I’ve always enjoyed his concerts, even the more recent ones, and this will still be a special night. Also, it’s not like there isn’t any history here. The July 16th show will make Joel the first (and last) musician ever to play New York’s four major sports venues: Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium and Madison Square Garden. And the concert will be the night after the All-Star Game, which will take place across the river in Yankee Stadium, so we’ll get to hear Billy Joel’s take on that game first hand. All in all, it should be a great night…
The New York Philharmonic just performed a concert in Pyongyang, North Korea. The program consisted of the following:
|Patriotic Song (the North Korean National Anthem)|
|The Star Spangled Banner|
|Dvorak’s New World Symphony|
|George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”|
|Encore #1 (not mentioned in the article)|
|Encore #2: Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”|
|Encore #3: Arirang (a folk song beloved in both the North and South and often used as a reunification anthem at friendly events between the two Koreas)|
Kim Jong Il did not attend, but the Vice Culture Minister did. He said this:
I can say that through the concert tonight, all the members of the New York Philharmonic opened the hearts of the Korean people. . . . The concert serves as an important occasion to open a chapter of mutual understanding between the two countries.”
When the concert ended, the audience “stood and applauded enthusiastically, waving to the musicians.”
Bravo, folks. Bravo.
(Hat tip: Kushol Gupta)
If you haven’t seen the New York Times’ recent article about John McCain yet, it’s here. Allow me to summarize by reading through the article and pulling out the relevant points sequentially (all emphasis is mine):
Eight years ago, McCain’s campaign staff thought he was having an affair with a lobbyist, Ms. Vicki Iseman. Without telling him, they met with her and told her to stay away from McCain. Even if they weren’t having an affair, his advisors were worried that too much contact with a lobbyist would damage his reputation as “the ethical candidate.”
Last weekend, my friend Jeff Porten and I were in the same physical location, which basically means we got to stare at the same computer screen, rather than two separate ones.
In this case, I had an Excel spreadsheet to show him, which I had stored on my USB flash drive. I put the drive in his MacBook, and we were able to bring it up in Excel with just a couple of clicks. Excel threw a couple of warning messages at us, but the spreadsheet seemed to work fine, so we didn’t investigate.
Anyway, today I tried to use the flash drive on my Windows machine. Well, well, well…
I’ve got four hidden folders on the drive now, containing a total of 84 files that take up 17.5MB on the drive (to be fair, the spreadsheet has a bunch of bitmaps in it, so it’s 14MB on its own). The folders are named as follows:
The one with the word “Spotlight” in it has 50 of the 84 files, all with inscrutable filenames, so I’m guessing the Mac tried to index my flash drive and stored the index on the drive itself.
The one called .TemporaryItems has several sub-folders, but eventually I come to a local copy of each bitmap in my spreadsheet, stored in .png format.
The other two folders are empty.
Everything deleted with no issues, and the spreadsheet still works, but it’s yet another example of how 100% compatibility is a false hope, as there’s always something that needs to be done whenever Jeff and I try to share/swap files.
No big deal for me, but I’m glad I’m not the guy on the other end of the tech support line when a novice user calls in asking if the Mac gave his flash drive a virus…
Given recent events in the baseball world, I thought I’d comment on what Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens have said and done over the last week or so. My perspective is that of a lifelong Yankee fan, and also as a father of two young boys.
I mention my kids because I’m very much of the opinion that sports, for adults, is entertainment. It’s a diversion from the things that truly matter in our lives – our families, our jobs, our communities, our politics, etc. As an adult, my interest in whether or not a professional baseball player cheated to win a World Series doesn’t amount to much more than idle gossip. It simply isn’t that important in the big picture. But kids view sports differently. Kids dream of becoming professional athletes. They emulate them. They watch their every move and listen to their every word. The athletes are, for better of for worse, heroes in their world. Superheroes, like Superman or Batman, but real enough to watch on TV and during the occasional trip to the ballpark.
My older son became fully aware of baseball right as it was becoming obvious that Jason Giambi had been taking steroids to achieve his unusual bulk and, consequently, his inflated stats. At the time, I encouraged him to look up to the likes of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but steered him away from Giambi whenever I could. When he asked (and he did ask), I told him that Giambi was a great baseball player, but not a very good person, because even though he hits homeruns and wins games, he cheats.
And no one likes to play with a cheater.
My younger son is now at that age where he follows and roots for the individual players. And, of course, my older son is still fully fixated. Therefore, the widely publicized Pettitte/Clemens events present me with another dilemma. When the season kicks in, they will almost certainly hear about it and ask me what I think. And here’s what I think I’ll tell them:
Andy Pettitte is also not a smart person. He got hurt twice, and instead of listening to his doctor, he took medicine from someone who was not a doctor. That’s a very dangerous thing to do, and he’s lucky he didn’t get sick or make his injury worse.
But he didn’t cheat like Jason Giambi did. It’s true that taking the medicine was against the rules, so he did break the rules. But he didn’t take the medicine every day to make him pitch faster, strike out more batters, or win more games. What he did was wrong, but he wasn’t lying to his teammates every time he played in a game. Also, he admitted that he was wrong and said he was sorry. And that’s why his teammates supported him.
It’s hard to call what Pettitte did role model material, but at least based on what we know right now, he’s doing a pretty good job of showing kids how to handle things after you’ve made mistakes.
Roger Clemens, on the other hand, continues to surprise me. Back in December, I wrote this:
Instead of lawyering up, Clemens is adding the charge of “lying about steroids” to the one of “using steroids” that Mitchell delivered . . . For all of his on-field accomplishments, he’s counting on being proven (or believed) innocent at this point, because if he’s ever actually proven guilty, his actions today will do just as much to keep him out of the Hall of Fame as any drug he ever took.
Given Pettitte’s testimony to Congress, and whatever physical evidence Brian McNamee may or may not have, Clemens seems to be losing that battle. If it turns out he did use steroids or HGH, I will waste no time in telling my kids that what Roger did was even worse than what Giambi did, because not only did they both cheat, but Clemens also lied about it – loudly and frequently, and that’s the opposite of saying you’re sorry.
And good boys always say they’re sorry. Otherwise, they get punished.
Fidel Castro has resigned as Cuba’s President, turning the position over to his brother Raul.
Here’s what President Bush said about it:
The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy. Eventually, this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections – and I mean free, and I mean fair – not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as true democracy. [If Cuba remains much the same], political prisoners will rot in prison and the human condition will remain pathetic in many cases.
Unless he knows something we don’t know (and that’s entirely possible, of course), I would think this is a giant missed opportunity. Why not invite Raul Castro to Washington, DC on his very first day in office, and then get him in a private meeting and explain to him the untold benefits (financial and otherwise) of forging a strong and lasting alliance with the United States. If he demurs, we’re no worse off than we were, except now we have the moral high ground. If not, Americans instantly have better cigars and a new vacation hotspot in the Carribean.
Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, believes the next U.S. President will probably take this kind of tack, but “the current U.S. president is unlikely to make any changes in a hostile position towards Cuba.” He doesn’t say why, but I think if history has taught us anything about George W. Bush, it’s that he really doesn’t like to change his mind…
OK, now that I’ve covered Dolly Parton and Harvard University, I simply can’t resist the first (and likely only) opportunity to mention Paris Hilton in three consecutive posts.
“It’s not like Paris Hilton to rise above her material, but The Hottie and the Nottie sinks so low that all she has to do is stand upright.” — Sam Adams, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Great actors make the craft look easy. In this Paris Hilton comedy, acting looks very, very difficult.” — Kyle Smith, NEW YORK POST
“How bad is this feature from deservedly unknown director Tom Putnam? How’s this?: It’s a blot on Paris Hilton’s dignity.” — Andy Klein, LOS ANGELES CITYBEAT
Click through and read the rest for yourself. It’s oddly satisfying. Or, if you like, click all the way through to Rotten Tomatoes, where the movie is currently scoring a whopping 7%, and check for new hi….er, lowlights!
Who says there isn’t justice in the world?