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February 29, 2004

The Pirate Movie (Happy Leap Day)

The Pirate Movie is a 1982 rewrite of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical, "The Pirates of Penzance." I vaguely remember seeing it on HBO (as did the reviewer in the IMDB article linked to above), and one of the funniest bits (to me, at the time) was the protagonist's being apprenticed to a bunch of pirates until his 21st birthday, and the protagonist's birthday being on February 29th. And since February 29th only happens once every four years, yadda yadda yadda, har har har.

Anyway, happy leap day. It's not often that a roundoff error does anything for anyone, but here it's given us a whole extra day to play with.

On an unrelated note, Word.

February 22, 2004

September 11 Memorial

of the mural On the side of Duke's bar, in Bloomfield on S. Millvale Ave., there's a small mural commemorating September 11. I don't know when the dead branches and graffiti were added. Perhaps some time after the adjoining gas station shut. My girlfriend points out that this could be a metaphor for how the country's patriotism has faded since the initial surge after 9/11.

of the building Here's a picture of the front of the building. Note the sign promising "no crap on tap".

Click on the images for larger versions.

February 17, 2004

Information Wants to be Free (of Attribution)

Dare to compare my December '03 weblog entry covering an essay by Reed Hundt about broadband in the U.S. with a Slashdot story today about the same essay. The person who submitted the article to Slashdot seems to have magically arrived at almost precisely the same blurb about the essay that I used a couple months earlier. Mostly, I'm just happy to have a little validation of my blurb-writing skills, but I would have liked some credit. The copyright on this site allows anyone to use any of my material, but requires attribution.

What makes this incident particularly precious (well, coincidental anyway) is that this afternoon, I led a discussion in a seminar using a set of powerpoint slides that someone mistakenly left out on a public web server. I found them through a Google search, and they were just the thing for the seminar, but I should have asked the author for permission to use them. So yeah, I'm a big hypocrite, what can you do?

February 16, 2004

Snowmobiling is not for wimps (wimps shouldn't even watch)

The NYTimes has an article, Driving: In the Snow: Speed, Schnapps and Bloodshed, about a Nascar-style 500 lap snowmobile race in Michigan. The event consists of lots of crazed spectators drinking and barbecuing in the bitter cold (temperatures below 0 F aren't uncommon), while a bunch of crazed snowmobilers race around a track, causing grievous injuries to each other and to the spectators. Yeah, I could get into that. But then, every year I'm half tempted to drive out to Punxatawnie for groundhog day.

February 11, 2004

Comcast wants to buy Disney

Cause, you know, that AOL/TimeWarner thing worked out so well. Here's the NY Times article.

February 09, 2004

Hit and run is fun fun fun

my dented car

On Sunday morning at the Waterfront Target, somehow my car acquired a huge dent in the rear quarter panel. I was inside the store at the time, so I have no idea what happened. I do know what didn't happen: nobody left a note taking responsibility, apologizing, or offering to pay for the damage. I guess everyone who told me never to park near the shopping cart return was right.

Today at the body shop, I was told that the quarter panel is toast, and they'd need to replace the whole thing. $500 for the part, another $1800 to install and paint it. Exorbitant! I'm supposed to believe that replacing one (obviously flimsy) body panel is worth a fifth of my car's current value? Yeah right. At least the insurance company is going to pay for it. But in the end, we'll all pay. Everyone in Pennsylvania is going to wind up paying just a little bit more for their car insurance because some yutz at Target couldn't keep their hands on their cart.

February 08, 2004

Van customizing shop

of the van shop mural In Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, there's an old van customizing shop whose windows have been boarded up. Usually, that'd make a building uglier than a pig in a mincing machine, but in this case, someone took the time to paint over the boards with Charming Scenes of Urban Life (tm).

The van shop's sign alone is a classic. It evokes an era (before my time, thankfully) when vans roamed the earth unchallenged and unmocked. Note the text on the sign offering installation of "flares, spoilers, & sunvisors", "custom grills", and of course, "captain chairs". In case anyone wants to call the number on the sign to inquire about getting their van customized, I'm pretty sure that this place is in the 412 area code.

By the way, this building is on Penn Ave., near Main St., and right across from Tram's Kitchen. If you haven't been to Tram's, you're missing great Vietnamese food. Especially the fresh rolls, which are the best I've ever had anywhere (disclaimer: I've never been to Vietnam).

As always, click on the picture for a larger version.

February 05, 2004

Douglas Adams' How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

Thanks to Doc Searls for linking to this essay by Douglas Adams, which is absolutely sublime. I quote:

1) everything thatís already in the world when youíre born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after youíre thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until itís been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

And he goes on to put the Internet in context as something we don't understand, and perhaps won't understand until some people grow up with it as a fact of life rather than the cool new thing. I'm only 29, but that just makes me feel old.

February 01, 2004

South side Goodwill

picture of the goodwill mural

Driving on Carson St. (on Pittsburgh's south side) today, I noticed a mural on the side of the Goodwill building near 27th St. This area is a few blocks beyond the "trendy" part of Carson Street, and there hasn't been much there beyond the Goodwill and a coffee shop. But recently, gigantic office complexes have begun sprouting. If those buildings manage to take off (not a sure thing given Pittsburgh's glut of office space), I wonder how long it'll be before Goodwill is gentrified off the block.

Click on the image for a larger version of the mural.

"So long and thanks for all the blood"

the billboard

Around Pittsburgh, awful billboards like the one at the right are popping up. I'm not against blood donation, or saving little girls, but the message "Thank you for my blood" is pretty repulsive. Whatever happened to "Give the gift of life"? I guess I shouldn't be surprised, seeing as this is the town where the health care advertisements say "Choose a hospital as if your life depended on it." Here's one of the commercials that ran on tv for a while. (Copyright on that belongs to GBL by the way.)