30 December 2004


I've been wanting to organize a small poker tournament for a long time now. In fact, what I really want to do is get a regular home game started so I can rationalize buying personalized poker chips. But that aside, who can I get involved for a one time deal? Here's my list so far:

  • me

  • MRhé

  • Jimmy

  • TheDan

  • Warner

  • Paul?

I need more peeps, though. So ask your friends. And tell me who they are.

Lopez, Tunes!

I need some recommendations for contemporary tunes. My problem is that many of my favorite musical artists are no longer recording new music because they're old or dead. And I've never been one to really follow "pop" or even good music made by people who are still alive. Anyway, my point is that I'd like to experience the excitement I imagine people have when their favorite musicians release new stuff. And I got some Christmas $$$ on my iTunes Music Store account. And I want to spend it on new stuff. So: start suggesting!

28 December 2004


I usually abhor these things, but Mander asked me nicely, so:

Three names you go by:

Three screennames you have:

Three things you like about yourself:
i'm clever
i'm perceptive
my nasty slider

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:
i'm argumentative
i'm getting fat
i'm lazy

Parts of your heritage:
County Roscommon & County Dublin

Three things that scare you:
being in foreign countries
angry dogs
a fourth diamond on the river when I'm holding a set

Three of your everyday essentials:
hair putty

Three things you are wearing right now:
halloween socks
a black t-shirt

Three of your favorite songs (at the moment):
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Don't Stop (Believing)
Queen of Hearts

Three Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
move to England
not being a jackass

Three things you want in a relationship:

Two truths and a lie:
I have a man-crush on Lopez
I voted for David Ortiz in the 2004 Presidential Election
Hotfoot is grim

Three physical aspects you find attractive:
a nice smile

Three things you just can't do:
read anything by Dave Eggers
belch on command
bear to watch the Dr. Phil show

Three of your favorite hobbies:

Three careers you're considering:
Mark's lackey
professional rube

Three places you want to go on vacation:
The Palatinat

Three kids' names:

Three things you want to do before you die:
finish this goddamned rig
get married
make a contribution to society

Three people who I'd like to take this quiz:

The New Left

David Brooks' op-ed in the today's Times is a list of links to some of his favorite political essays of 2004. The only one which sounded interesting enough for me to read was by Peter Beinhart, editor of The New Republic. In the piece he discusses the challenge confronting the American left in trying to redefine liberalism:

The recognition that liberals face an
external enemy more grave, and more illiberal, than George W. Bush
should be the litmus test of a decent left.

A lot of what he has to say aligns precisely with my frustrations with what the Democratic Party has become lately.

18 December 2004

Double Life

A few years back one of my Dad's childhood friends started organizing an annual "Rossmore Road" reunion. This year's reunion is today and its impending arrival motivated Dad to start talking on the way to work Friday about some of the guys he grew up with. The conversation began with the innocuous observation that a lot of guys stayed local and joined the police force. Then he mentioned somebody who couldn't make it as a cop, so he stuck up a bank with a toy gun. This led to the list of other life-achievements by his boyhood pals:

  • Two guys got involved with the Boyos (the Boston Irish mob) and were shot, chopped up, and stashed in a bunch of suitcases.

  • The brother of the aforementioned bankrobber owns and manages the Foxy Lady in Brockton. I commented that at least one of them had succeeded and established himself as a businessman, to which Dad replied that he thought robbing a bank was more honorable.

  • Another guy robbed a bank and tried to escape on a motorscooter with money flying off the back of the getaway vehicle. He ran into a bar where he bumped into one of the neighborhood guys who had become a cop and who promptly arrested him.

17 December 2004

<i>The Metro</i>

A snippet in today's Metro shines light on why the trains were running so intermittently during yesterday's commute home:

False alarms caused two MBTA stations to be evacuated yesterday after suspicious packages were found.

The first evacuation occurred in the morning at Ashmont Station. A comuter informed T police that a styrofoam cooler with the words "biological research"  had been left behind on one of the buses, said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

The container was sent to the State Police Lab, where authorities determined that inside was only a trash bag tied in a knot, said Pesaturo. The station was closed for three hours, and during that time commuters were bused from Fields Corner, said Pesaturo.

Later in the afternoon, a T employee found an unattended paper bag on the platform of Alewife Station prompting another evacuation. Tests done at the scene by a hazardous materials unit discovered that the bag contained a cold pack, said Pesaturo.

Regular service resumed after three hours of interruption.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, public transport in the era of orange-level alerts: 6 hours of delays for a trash bag tied in a knot and a cold pack. If I write "Nuclear Bomb" on a suitcase and leave it in South Station, will they shut down the whole city?

15 December 2004


I thought the following set of photographs was pretty amusing:

The original set (forwarded in an email) had a final image of the green truck falling in as it tried to extract the orange truck. Close inspection revealed it to be a fake, as it showed the red car from the background of the first shot instead of the bigger group of cars in the later frames.

06 December 2004

deplane, v

Scottoway claims that "deplane" is not a verb meaning to get off a plane. I don't know what dictionary he's using but both the American Heritage and the venerable Oxford English dictionaries say that it is. The latter lists as the second definition of deplane:

a. intr. To leave an aeroplane (after arrival at one's destination).    b. trans. To remove from an aeroplane.

This isn't a newfangled interwang usage either; the O.E.D. cites references in 1923, 1933, 1948 and 1967, the earliest of which was in a time when planes were a rather new invention.

As to some of his other etymological musings, note that "refrigerate" comes from the Latin refrigare, to make cold. This derives obviously from frigidus, cold and the original meaning of re- which is not "again" but rather "back" (recede, reduce, refer). Thus refrigerate does not mean to cool again, but to cool back—a somewhat awkward construction in English, but one which makes sense if you look over the varied shades of the prefix as it was applied to Latin stems.

We must use care in attributing the creation of words which were inherited via the French from Latin to English speakers. While "to frigerate" is not a common English verb (O.E.D. cites usages in the 17th century) it is not to say that "refrigerate" has no meaningful root form. That root form existed in another language, Latin, in which the borrowed English formation also existed.

If you're going to be a pedant, at least get your facts straight.

We Need a New Apollo

Tom Friedman has a wonderful op-ed in the Times today. This is the kind of idea we need more of in America today. Why is it that our political leaders find it so hard to ever push a truly shocking agenda? I want to be surprised and challenged and spurred to action.

01 December 2004

Ken Jennings

I've been meaning to watch Jeopardy! ever since I heard this summer that Ken Jennings finally lost in an episode scheduled to air this autumn. Until tonight I had never actually sat through an episode (largely because Law & Order is on at the same time). I flipped over to it tonight and watched Jennings blow two (admittedly obscure) Double Jeopardy questions which cost him nearly $10K. By the time Final Jeopardy came around he had a $14400 to $10000 lead (the third dude was below zero at the end of the second round so FJ was heads up).

The question was actually kind of interesting, something like: "This company's 70,000 seasonal white collar employees work only 4 months a year." I guessed correctly along with Ken's competition that the answer is H&R Block. The woman (I forget her name) wagered $4401, so if Ken was wrong she won automatically.

As "Fed Ex" flashed up on Ken's monitor the audience audibly gasped. It was pretty amazing. They got up and gave him a standing ovation. Funny how that rule change created this random celebrity.

22 November 2004


I saw Kinsey last night and came away feeling disturbed. This is not to say that it's a poor film, just that I had trouble sleeping afterwards—and perhaps that makes it an excellent film. I read a few comments by the director, Bill Condon, on the film's (disgracefully over-flash'd) website, and I found the following to sum up my feelings succinctly:

I've found that the film acts as a sort of litmus test for one's own ideas about sexuality. Kinsey was a very complex man, in some ways damaged beyond repair. I thought it was important to present it all, and let people form their own opinions.

The film indeed does an excellent job of simply presenting the facts and avoiding becoming the "judges of the behaviors we describe" as Kinsey himself puts it. This is part of what left me feeling unsettled: there was no tidying of the decidedly countercultural swinging ways of Kinsey and his crew. This is, of course, a good thing about the film—it elevates it above Hollywood fuzz and gives it the power to affect the viewer.

I was a little disappointed that they didn't delve more deeply into how Kinsey and his wife resolve some of the problems that arise from the increasing nexus of his work and his family life. By the end of the movie they seem to have reconciled everything but I have to suspect (hope?) that all of this promiscuity had a profound effect on their relationship. The historical record indicates that Kinsey's first volume (on the Human Male) was widely met with accolades, while the second (on the Human Female) was spurned. Is this because he pushed the envelope too far in separating sex from love? The film lets its viewers decide, and I think that's for the best.

18 November 2004


There's some discussion happening about everyone's favourite lecture tool happening over in ShazAm's neck of the woods. My thoughts were a bit too verbose to cram into her comment box (keep your puns to yourselves) so I'm posting them here.

Wally did a good job summarizing my thoughts on people's general complaints about PPT. The things that suck about bad PPT presentations are symptoms of bad presenters, not a bad medium. The ultimate fact is that a boring lecture is going to be boring regardless of whether it is delivered with boring PPT slides, boring chalkboard drawings or boring overhead transparencies. Tons of people give tons of bad PPT shows, but that's because they're poor users of the software. Anyone who creates a talk by firing up the "AutoContent Wizard" isn't likely to be saved by switching to a chalkboard (former SecState included).

Even more interesting were the comments about linearity and Scott's desire for a "director mode". As for the former, PPT currently provides the ability to put "hidden" slides in the talk which are not displayed in the default click-through of the show. Unfortunately the interface for showing a hidden slide is abysmally kludgy: you have to right-click during the show to get a drop-down menu, choose one option, then another to get a popup window listing all the slides. The reason there's no director's mode is that most talks are given from computers which simply split their video signal to the monitor and the projector—something the software can't affect. It is a pretty cool idea, though.

This post pretty much sucks. You should read Wally's comments to get a better, funnier version of the same.

12 November 2004

How It Works...The Computer

Some dude scanned both the 1971 and 1979 versions of a book called, How It Works...The Computer . In addition to being thoroughly amusing, it features this total babe wielding a spool of magnetic tape.

High Speed Chase

Lamborghini evidently donated a modified version of their Gallardo sports car to the Italian highway police. The best part of the article? This caption, which sounds like it's from the Onion:

Chief Inspector Laura Ciano and Superintendent Vincenzo Bizzarro have been trained to drive the car.

The World Today

The always enlightening Thomas Friedman has some interesting commentary on Fallujah in his latest op-ed for the Times.

You know, I have to say that this week has had more good news about world politics than any I can remember in the last four years. It looks like the Army & Marine Corps will be able to secure Fallujah without heavy casualties, it looks like a non-fascist will be running the Justice Department and it looks like a non-relic will be running the PLO.

All of these observations have caveats (e.g. the explosion of violence in the rest of Iraq) but at least there's something to be optimistic about.

11 November 2004



Most folks don't take you that seriously, but you really make
a big deal out of being independent.  You don't do a whole lot for other
people, but you make the best of the resources available to you.  You really
like snow.  And mountains.  And being independent.  And you're
probably pretty small.

the Country Quiz at the href="http://bluepyramid.org">Blue Pyramid

10 November 2004


Check out this scathing article about everyone's favorite linguist/self-promoting boob.

Courtesy of elerrina.

09 November 2004

Yay for personal freedom!

John Ashcroft is gone! Evidently he has a "gallstone ailment". When my grandfather developed an ulcer which kept him from being drafted to serve in WWII, my grandmother called it the "miraculous ulcer". Perhaps this is a sign from God also?

Fans of the Constitution rejoice!

Who's in Pyjamas Walter?

Scottoway is evidently really psyched about the new Charlie Card, which will replace tokens on the MBTA. Since we all know how much he loves it when I disagree with him, I wanted to post my thoughts on this development:

The MBTA unveiled their final plans for the Washington
DC-style fare card that will replace the token system. Apparently this
will "dramatically improve ease and convenience" for MBTA users, making
the subway "more convenient" and "easy-to-use" (sense any repetition?)
with "a strong emphasis on the customer." Obviously the best way to
achieve this dramatic new goal is to eliminate any form of human
contact, increase the complexity of the rate structure, and equip every
user with an electronic tracking device.

The last time I visited NYC I had to take the
subway a number of times: to get from the Port Authority bus terminal
to Lopez's crib, to Crooklyn and back, and back to the bus. At first I
was irked at having to buy a card and then I was confused about how
much my fare was going to be. Like much of my hatred for New York, this
was irrational since the Metrocard
machine proved easy enough to use and the turnstile simply debited the
appropriate fare, without me having to worry too much about it. As far
as human contact goes, I don't think I'll miss my encounters with token
sellers all that much, since they're invariably on the booth phone
bitching about their kids. Plus, the article clearly states that
passengers who frown at the wave-of-the-future automation of the
Charlie Card (evidently sourpusses like Scottoway) can still use the
Charlie Ticket, which they can presumably buy from a real person at the
station (all the NYC stations came complete with surly Metro

Anyone who has experienced the "ease" and
"convenience" of the present automated token dispensing machines --
which to date have rejected roughly half of my bills, stolen $3.75
without dispensing anything, caused me to miss two trains, and once
left me stranded outdoors in Newton during a snowstorm because I had
only $20 bills -- can simply wonder what the hell they've been smoking.

This line of reasoning doesn't make any sense to
me. The MBTA is planning to replace all those old, clunky token
dispensers with new machines which will take $20 bills. Sounds like a good
thing to me.

Part of the blame must surely fall on our moronic Mayor Menino

always happy to blame Mumbles, since he's such an insufferable goon. So
I'll make a token concession by not commenting on the unrelated rant
which followed this sentence in Scott's original opus.

I'm not throwing around the term "electronic
tracking device" loosely, either. These passes, they have announced,
will actually be RFID cards, encoded with unique IDs, that can be read
by antennae up to 3 feet away. Not even Washington can track its
population by radio! Isn't it great to be on the forefront of

Ahh, the pièce de resistance—a dash of Richard Stallman level
paranoia. The cards are dispensed anonymously, therefore there's no way
to connect any information to a particular person. I can't believe that
Scott of all people would conflate the new technology (RFID vs.
mag-swipe) with unrelated and already existing functionality (tracking
anonymous usage). Using RFID doesn't give them any more power to track
users than does mag-swipe (unless they care that I've walked within 3
feet of a turnstile without passing through it), it just makes it
(shock!) more convenient for passengers. I'm sure my mag-swipe monthly
T pass has a unique ID on it, and I frankly couldn't possibly care less
whether the MBTA is tracking which stations I enter. In fact, I'm glad
they do, because I'm certain they use such information for such
Orwellian functions as scheduling trains!!!

08 November 2004

The Kindness of Strangers

In perusing my site access logs I noticed that my entry on DJ OBL had received some attention from perfect strangers. I think one of the commenters came via some other MIT bløg, but the others all seem to have ended up here as a result of my fabulous new domain name. Evidently lots of people thought this page was actually created by Simmons or someone he knows, as opposed to the revolutionary underground that it actually is. So instead of making a clever joke I've just confused the hell out of everybody coming from the Sportsguy's page.

So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Georges de Paris

GeorgesdeparisThis is Georges de Paris, tailor to every President since LBJ. He's evidently miffed at the assertions some people made that the infamous rumple in W's jacket during the first debate was due to a "poorly tailored suit". Is it just the angle of this photograph or is he really a four foot tall frenchman with a huge poofy hairdo?

05 November 2004

Welcome to www.sueclintonportis.com!

Dear Sportsguy,

What do I have to say for myself?

  1. You should've registered the domain.

  2. Please stop writing about the NBA.


P.S. If you have no idea what's going on, check this out.

[note: this thread has been moved over to the sueclintonportis page. If you want to comment, do it there. —ed]

04 November 2004

Mr. Pot, please meet Mr. Kettle

Yeah, I'm annoyed that W won reelection. I think he's beholden to dangerous special interest groups and that he was swept to victory by people who believe he's a "good man" as opposed to, say, a "competent public officer". But I am getting really sick of reading liberal media intimating that the only viable choice is to flee the country or for New England to turn secesh. And don't even get me started about this pile of feces.

Most egregious is the sentiment that Republicans (approximately half of America, bolstered by states in the Midwest and South but represented forcefully even here in Massachusetts) are all gay-hating morons. The refrain I keep hearing is, "How can Americans be so stupid?!" Just as I reserve equal distaste for the hacks of the left and the right I can't help but observe that these "enlightened" liberals consistently deign to lump over half of America into the single category of stupid, uneducated, hayseed, evangelical Christian, homophobic bumpkins. Doesn't this generalization display the exact same lack of tolerance and understanding towards which they express such profound disdain?

People: we need to suck it up and work with each other. Maybe W will finally be the "uniter" that he claimed to be four years ago and maybe he'll run amok behind the shield of his new "mandate". But if he neglects the rudder of the ship of state for a second term shall we stand by, wailing about the folly of the people who put him there? Or worse yet, should we all leap off the boat in utter hopelessness? Let us rather make our own effort to adjust the trim of her sails.


DJ OBL had the following to say in his latest #1 Jam:

The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.

The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn't respond.

To which I have the following to say: GO TO A FUCKING LIBRARY. Lebanon was an absolute zoo in the early 80's. Between the Christian minority's violent attempts to maintain control and the wild slaughter happening amongst the various Muslim insurgencies the country was a death zone. Even when the United States attempted to restore some normalcy it conspicuously bit us in the ass. I don't see Osama complaining about the fact that the Syrians plowed into Lebanon and further stirred up the various factions. Plus Hizbollah was using southern Lebanon as the ultimate staging ground for their nonstop guerrilla war against Israel. OBL's helpless child was launching daily rocket attacks against the "crocodile".

Reading crap like this almost makes me glad we invaded Iraq.

OS X rox

Ambrosia Software makes a neat little little utility for OS X called Wiretap, which allows you to record whatever sound is currently being produced by your sound card to a variety of audio formats. It was exactly what I needed for the task at hand (recording some snippets from an internet radio broadcast).

Another awesome OS X utility (quickly becoming indispensible for me) is Quicksilver, first recommended to me by Max. You leave it running in the background and then summon the interface with CTRL-<space> and start typing the name of the application you want to launch and hit enter (it usually only takes a couple strokes for it to figure out what you want). It automagically catalogs everything in the normal places where Applications live and has lots of other neat features which I have barely begun to explore


In the last few days I've had approximately 8 million people stumble across my bløg by searching for don't blame me I voted for Kodos. There's also the guy looking for a picture of woman flashing Foulke. Who knew?

Also, I spent 3 hours last night fooling around with iMovie, which resulted in my new Red Sox montage. Unfortunately it's too much data (ones and zeroes, Marty!) to post on the 'wang, so I'll have to arrange for private viewings.

Rock, rock on.

02 November 2004

Jenn Shulman?

Whoa, I was reading Cardplayer today when I saw the new author photo of Jeff Shulman. At first glance I thought they had mistakenly put a picture of a woman next to his by-line. Is he a recently outed transvestite? You be the judge from these before and after pics:

As Scott might note, "Yeesh, easy on the flash!"

29 October 2004

<i>The Pacific</i>


I picked up a copy of Mark Helprin's new collection of short stories, The Pacific, at my favorite independent bookseller today. Despite my attempt to seriously curtail my book purchasing rate, Helprin gets the automatic free pass to a hardcover edition.

While flipping through the first pages I realized that Winter's Tale is the only one of his books (either novels or short story collections) which I've not finished. I guess it's probably time to give that 'un another try.

GreenspeakI'm totally bummed that I missed seeing this greenspeak in person, but totally psyched that it formed today's sweet MIT variation. As for last night, well, you can read some good details in other places. Me? I'm just glad I'll be getting something approximating a full night's sleep tonight.

The last two weeks have left me feeling like I need to sit down and really write the treatise on the Red Sox and baseball I've had percolating in the back of my mind. So far, though, I've been too exhausted or distracted to do much other than read other people's coverage. Maybe this weekend? We'll see, I guess. In the meantime, a few random thoughts:

  • Toasted ravioli?! Is this really a St. Louisian delicacy? Ok, I can see how it might be fun to do the silly "food bet" on the World Series and all, but St. Louis totally sucks! Was Menino getting heavy odds on this? Seems like he's offering a whole spread (with two distinct lobster bakes) for some raviolis and "Anheuser Busch products" (translation: a six pack of Bud).

  • I take it for granted there will be some kind of "commemorative DVD" for all this, but what I'd really like is to actually get a DVD set with all 14 full-length post season games.

  • I have been beyond unproductive at work these past two weeks. Even when I'm not reading articles about baseball I'm thinking about baseball. Between that and my cold I've accomplished nothing.

  • Can you imagine what kind of money they could've made if they decided to film "Still We Believe" this year?

27 October 2004

More Q-Syyders

I found even more Schilling hatred on the interrowang today:

A hose beast by the name of Laura Vecsey had this to say in a recent piece in the Baltimore Sun (reg. req'd):

Even factoring in the sour grapes, word out of New York is that some Yankees players wouldn't put it past Schilling to dab his sock with red magic marker, or apply generous amounts of Mercurochrome - anything to amplify the Red Sox's amazing postseason run and, of course, to hoist his stature.

Schill responded in his conversation with the Boston Dirt Dogs, which also brought up the worst offender: another anti-Schill article published recently in Newsday. The opening paragraphs:

As inspirational and impressive as he is on days he pitches, that's how annoying and insufferable Curt Schilling is on all other days.

Yesterday was particularly bad because Schilling had a microphone in front of him instead of a batter and was called upon to talk about his three favorite subjects: Me, myself and I.

And then later the following, which shows nothing except the author's inability to construct a sensible English sentence (and trust me, there's no hidden context that makes this any more understandable):

Yet it's hard to fathom a player who's more self-centered, self-aggrandizing and in-your-face than the con man they call "Shill."

The Media Sux

Today's media boobs:

  1. Tim Keown is clearly a huge jackass. He listens to Schilling's post game conference after his World Series start (which I stayed up until 1:30 AM to hear replayed—and was definitely worth it) and thinks Schilling is crassly trying to sell his legend.

  2. Tom Candiotti actually gave St. Louis an edge in pitching when he considered the matchup before the Series started. Why does everyone seem to want the Sox to lose?

  3. I forget who wrote it, but I actually read an article yesterday with the operating thesis that the Cardinals would take advantage of their favorable pitching matchup of Suppan vs Martinez. We all know Pedro isn't the same pitcher he was 5 years ago, but saying that he compares unfavorably against a guy who's played for 4 teams in 4 years and didn't even make the roster when Boston made it to the playoffs last year is absurd.

You know who doesn't suck? The Sports Guy.

Cruise Control

Postseason baseball is a slow-moving game. The pitcher stands in for what seems like hours and the batter calls time-out at the last possible moment in order to give himself another chance to pace around the umpire, spit on his hands, adjust his crotch and step back into the box, where the whole cycle begins again. Despite all this down time between pitches (especially in critical moments) I've been on the edge of my seat for every single one since the Sox began their miracle comeback last week.

That's why my definining moment for the World Series is when Scott Rolen was batting last night against Keith Foulke in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and a 1-2 count. Somebody made a joke and I was laughing and looking away from the TV. By the time I looked back Brian Gorman was ringing Rolen up on a called third strike. For a split second I thought, "Wait a sec, was that the third out?" Then I jumped up and clapped and hollered for the Sox who are now one win away from a World Series title.

See, the Series so far has been so easy compared to the ALCS that I actually let my guard down. People in the national media were talking last week about how the World Series can't possibly be a let down despite the excitement of the ALCS. But it's just not true. Winning the Series will be more exciting, but actually watching the baseball games feels like a midseason series in colder weather. The Cardinals never led in the first 3 games and none of them would even have been close had it not been for all of Boston's fielding errors in games 1 and 2.

Here's to the finale of what will almost certainly be the greatest year in my life as a sports fan.

25 October 2004

Section 43, Row 41, Seat 10.

GosoxI watched three playoff games from that seat this year (I love you LB), culminating in last night's victory over the Cardinals. Heading into the park was weird: between the rain and the overwhelming police presence it was pretty quiet in the Fenway neighborhood. Lansdowne Street was a little rowdier with hundreds of fans standing in line at the day-of ticket window in the desperate hope they'd be able to get inside. Dad and I went straight to Gate C, however, since we already had our tickets.

We just made it to our seats in time to see the pre-game musical act, The Standells performing (what else?) Dirty Water. While it seemed a bit weird to play the song before the game, it was still pretty awesome, especially since we've adopted our own tradition of blaring it in our game-watching abode of choice. After they finished, the PA announcer built up the suspense around the artist who'd be performing the national anthem (when someone in the crowd yelled "It better not be the Cowsills!"). As it turned out, James Taylor was on hand to sing the loveliest rendition of The Star Spangled Banner I've ever heard. Instead of going the traditional "oom pah pah" route with the song, he just tickled his acoustic guitar and made it into a quiet contemplation of what America ought to be.

The game itself was cold. My ability to cheer on the Sox was hampered both by my ski gloves and my sore throat/head cold. The men's room beneath the bleachers looked more like a ski lodge than a baseball park, with everybody having to take off his mittens to pee. Mark Bellhorn has changed in less than a week from ultimate scapegoat (he was booed even more mercilessly than the Cowsills back in game 3 of the ALCS) to Mr. October (2 game winning homers in the course of 3 games and a huge 2 run double last night). Schilling has become a Bird-Orr level hero to the local crowd, with the fans going absolutely nuts when he trotted from the bullpen to the dugout.

By the end, I was a bit dazed, but happy.

Winter Cleaning

Needed to clean up the old bløgrøll. Removed a couple of apparently dead blogs (like getting rid of clothes you've haven't worn in more than a year) and added two of my new daily reads, including my first ever complete stranger blog-o-quaintance, Singapore Sox Fan, who totally rox.

24 October 2004

Songlist Update

En route to Game 2 with my Pop. I used the magick of iTunes Music Store to make some key additions:

  • An unfuxed version of Long Time

  • Right Now

  • My Town by Montgomery Gentry. See if you can guess the genre.

  • Tessie

More Later.

Sox Rox


I just put together a Sox playlist in preparation for tonight's game. So far (what I could scrounge without access to any particularly huge libraries):

  1. It's Been Such a Long Time, Boston. I needed one track from Boston and although I strongly considered More Than a Feeling, I thought this sentiment was more apropos. Furthermore, it kicks ass as a leadoff song on the playlist because it features like 5 minutes of instrumental intro before the lyrics actually start, leaving listeners frenetic with anticipation (much like Sox fans waiting for the World Series to get underway).

  2. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns N Roses. Curt sometimes uses this as his introduction music. And by Curt I mean "Blood 'n Guts" Schilling, not "Instant Panic" Leskanic.

  3. Don't Stop Believing, Journey. I wasn't able to Keep the Faith throughout the whole ALCS: I wanted to push Bellhorn in front of a train, I thought Dale Sveum would actually manage to blow the whole season, and I had a serious post-traumatic-stress episode when Francogrady put Pedro in during game 7. Hopefully this will get my attitude back in line.

  4. Yeah! Usher. This is evidently Dave Roberts's at-bat song. I wouldn't know since he's had like 3 actual at-bats since we acquired him from LA. Then again, he was totally Claude when he was on the basepaths during games 4 & 5 of the ALCS, so I'll throw it in. Plus it will annoy LB.

  5. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond. This song actually annoys the hell out of me, but it reminds me of Fenway, so it's a gimme.

  6. Dream On, Aerosmith. Again I need to give a shoutout to the hometown crews. Plus it's another "on-message" song.

  7. Black Betty, RamJam. This is the song that actually inspired me to put this list together. It's Timlin's burst-from-the-pen in a one run game with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 8th music. I just really love it when this song starts thumpin and Timmy charges full speed from right field with his jacket in hand. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

  8. Man on the Silver Mountain, Rainbow. This is just a good track to represent the ASL which kept it real for two solid years of baseball appreciation. Plus Coors Light reminds me of baseball/sports in general.

  9. Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down. This is VariTeX's long time batting song, and since he generally rox my sox, I'll toss this in for him.

  10. I Won't Back Down, Tom Petty. Another rally-type song. Plus he's from Florida which means he must've been rooting against NY in last year's World Series. Or something.

  11. Dirty Water, The Standells. 'Nuff said.

Notably absent are: any halfway decent salsa to represent all the brothers from the DomRep in the house, a not-shitty recording of Jump Around for Big Papi, Tessie (I need to burninate LB's Dropkick Murphy's CD and then promptly delete all the other tracks) and some shittooth country for Millar and Nixon.

19 October 2004

Try Again

I didn't get to work on time today. And I haven't accomplished much in the time I have been here. Instead I've read every word I can find on the interwang about the Sox. I actually just all the baseball coverage in the Washington Post Sports Section. I don't even like the Post, I'm just addicted to Red Sox coverage.

And as for my previous failing to describe what these two games have been like, screw it: I'm giving it another shot.

I've nearly totally lost my voice after the last two nights. You see, being at Fenway for that game 3 thrashing left me bewildered. The whole season had been building to that moment. I went into the ALCS believing the Sox to be a strong favorite. The idea that they were on the verge of a sweep (after a downright embarrassing night) was practically unthinkable. Game 4 wasn't about going to the World Series, it was about catharsis for 60 million depressed Red Sox fans. We'd had nothing to scream about for the first 3 games and suddenly we were treated to one of the greatest baseball games every played.

Game 5 was different. I paced nervously, I cheered and clapped and gave my friends high-fives. But it wasn't with the same fury that had me worked into such a lather that I was frightening total strangers during Sunday's game. At one point I was so fried that I agreed to go to the liquor store with Josh during the 13th freaking inning. We had Chandler and other putzen broadcasting the game live over Josh's cell phone and got back just in time to see Wake strike out "Turkey" Ruben Sierra. And when Big David (my write-in Presidential vote for him is now official) Ortiz plunked that single into center I just pumped my fist quietly and went to get the André from the beer fridge.

Keep the Faith


Bob Ryan's Globe column today is titled "Where to start?" and I must say it is awfully hard to sit down and try to encapsulate what happened last night in a couple of paragraphs. People often make the semi-joking comment about how baseball is a religion for Red Sox fans, but I don't quite think that gets it right. There's faith and superstition of course, but it's a bit more concrete than that. As it was succinctly put last night, "We don't need lucky charms, we need the Red Sox to score two more goddamned runs!"

After actually going to the park for Saturday's pasting of the Red Sox, I was in a pretty low mood. I snoozed through the Patriots winning their record-extending 20th straight game while the announcers snickered about how many football teams that day had failed to score as many points as the Yankees had the previous night in the Fens. Somewhere before the 8PM starting time of Sunday's game I had at least reached the point where I wasn't fretting about the game. Things become simpler when your team is down 3-0 in a best of seven series. You just have to think about that day's game and forget everything else. No need to worry about tomorrow's pitching matchup when there's no tomorrow.

I'm exhausted today, along with just about every other resident of the Northeast. I can't really find the words to describe what the last two days have been like (thanks to Am for hosting two kickass parties) but let me just say that reading coverage of the game brought me to tears no fewer than three times.

Go Sox.

13 October 2004

My Pal Bill Simmons

I've been checking the Sports Guy's webpage incessantly all day in the hope that he'll have something soothing to say about last night's game. I finally read today's column (which was inexplicably not posted to his site, but only the main Page2 site as of this writing) and it was almost as cathartic as I wanted it to be.

See, there are legions of crazed New Englanders who think of Bill Simmons as one of their buddies. As my brother put it, "How the fuck did this guy get a column on ESPN.com by being a run-of-the-mill Red Sox lunatic?" Well, he's a halfway decent writer (although he's constantly overusing the same old gimmicks) and he's certainly got a feel for what it's like to be a Sox fan.

And today of all days when I've been fiending for a Sox-Yankees rematch since I woke up at 7:00, I needed someone to commiserate with. I wanted it so bad that I was practically shooting Coke out my nose laughing at his really dumb jokes. I mean, making fun of a Cialis ad? That's bush league stuff. Anyway, 8PM can't come soon enough.

Ulcer, Part I

I was ready to go home. It was 8-0 Yankees in the sixth inning and I was ready to go home and get some sleep, since this game wasn't going anywhere. If Laurie hadn't been there I would've just called it a night around the same time Scott did. He left during the commercial break following the 6th, despite Erin nudging him to stick around for the top of the 7th. The only thing keeping me from bugging Laurie to get out of there was waiting for somebody to break up Mussina's perfect game.

In the end it didn't really matter that I stayed, because the Red Sox' rally fell short as they came up on the short end of a 10-7 game last night. It doesn't look so good this morning with Curt saying he might not be ready to pitch again in Game 5. The local media goons are once again rolling out the "Who's your daddy?" nonsense with Pedro and the Yankees. I'm sure the Stadium will be an absolute nuthouse tonight. And I certainly don't want the Sox slumping back to Boston in an 0-2 hole.

But I'm not panicked yet. There is something different about this team. Their Ace was hurting last night and it looked like a blowout to open the series, but they didn't give up. They made it a helluva game in the end and although that counts for nothing when they tally up the wins and losses, it makes me believe that they won't roll over just yet.

Back when people were debating the postseason roster, the Sports Guy talked about how Sox fans keep hoping the old Pedro would come back this year. He didn't quite show up against the Angles (although he was solid) but I still haven't given up hope that we're going to see him come out tonight and dominate. Gotta have faith, right?

06 October 2004

Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos


I didn't write about the Presidential debate until the morning after it happened because I wanted to give some of my thoughts more time to come into clearer focus. In retrospect I think some of my first reactions may have been diluted by the "post-game" coverage I heard between the time of the debate and the next morning when I wrote my bløg entry. I'm going to try something different this time and write my thoughts immediately following the debate.

Biggest Surprise

The VP came off as way less evil than I expected. From the start of the debate until just before the closing statements he presented the Administration's case in a way that made me feel better about them than I have in a long time. This is the exact opposite of what I expected, since I figured the contrast between the dashing John Edwards and curmudgeonly Dick Cheney would really leave the Republicans in bad shape.

One point in particular caught my attention during the pair of questions about gay marriage. I was really shocked to see Cheney make what seemed to me to be a complete break in policy statement from the President. Of the many things in current American politics that bother me, perhaps the worst is the way in which candidates must adhere unswervingly to some company line in order to "please the base." Instead of talking about real ways to benefit the People, they say whatever seems most likely to get them elected. In this particular case, with W supporting the absolutely ludicrous Constitutional ban on gay marriage (which is both pathetic, outright discrimination against gays and a disgraceful affront to the Constitution) Cheney is put in the difficult position of defending that policy vis-a-vis his own support for and love of his lesbian daughter. And for one moment he absolutely refused to sell her out and defend W's support of the Constitutional ban. He gave a watery, legalistic defense of the administration position in the first question (directed at him) and then declined the entirety of his 90 second response to the next question, with the exception of thanking Edwards for kindly mentioning his family. This was a major point in Cheney's favor for me. As W's running mate, Cheney's foremost task in this debate is to defend the administration's policies. And for once a politician refused to sell out his personal convictions to further the cause. I wholeheartedly believe that will be the only moment in all four debates where one of the candidates says something with a goal other than trying to get elected. It made Cheney seem much more human than Edwards, which I previously thought an impossible task.

Biggest Letdown

The Veep's closing statement was terrible. His tone of voice switched from an intellectual debating note to this dull drone. He went from thinking about what he was saying to reciting some rote mantra that had been drilled into him. Plus the content of his closing remarks were practically a threat to American voters; "We're going to be attacked and it will be your fault if you don't reelect us." He painted this maudlin picture of current American affairs that left me feeling like he was simply preparing for the inevitable horror instead of trying to create a better alternative.

Biggest Contrast

Cheney's sepulchral closing followed directly on what I found to be the most eloquent 2 minutes in either debate so far. Edwards hit an absolute home run by somehow managing to tell that story about his childhood without sounding naïve. We're desperately aimless as a nation right now: lousy economy, war in Iraq that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, subjected to intrusions on our civil rights in the name of ineffectual safety measures, watching a color coded warning level without any clue how much danger we're really in. What we need is a direction and a belief in a better future. We need an image of that future right now, and John Edwards opened a window and revealed an ever-so-brief glimpse of what that might be. Bravo.

Biggest Non-Shocker

I'd give both of these guys a C minus for content. The debate suffered from the same problems that cripple seemingly all modern political debates: mindless repetition of vague blandishments. Edwards kept hammering away that everything the Veep said was a distortion and Cheney kept saying, "The senator just has his facts wrong." OK. We get the picture. The "factual" statements are probably very specifically construed to present the data in the way that paints their faction in the best possible light. Let's move on already.

Plus there's Cheney's insistence that "we've made real progress," much as the President reminded us all how running the country and quashing maniacal insurgents is "hard work." I think people are thirsting for a some specific ideas on how to handle these problems, not toothless promises that things are proceeding apace. Not that I think the Kerry-Edwards duo has done much better. So far it seems as if they want to halve the deficit, provide world class schools and health care for everyone, double the number of active duty troops in the Armed Forces and employ everybody, all while only increasing taxes on the extremely wealthy. Sounds like a fantasy to me.

Biggest Annoying Habit

It started really grating on me when Edwards kept flashing his pearly whites and saying, "I don't need to tell the American people this, they can see it for themselves." If that's the case then shut up already.

Is there a way to have a political campaign today without all this hot air? Probably not until we've totally revamped the way we elect our government. Viable third party candidates inject a much needed dose of reality into these events. There's nothing like a good Barbara Johnson to break up the mindsplitting tedium of listening to Mitt Romney and Shannon O'Brien whine at each other.

05 October 2004

Anachronistic Web Search


Tarquinius Superbus doesn't have much of a web presence. For this reason I get a lot of hits from people searching on the interwang for the last king of Rome. But in today's logs I found that I had been visited by someone searching for Tarquinius Superbus photo. Searching for a photograph of someone who died in 510 B.C.!?! What the fuck were they expecting to find?

Dan Rather is a Boob


Not only did he forfeit all his journalistic integrity (The Tech does better fact checking than this), but he did it in pursuit of a despicable story. George W. Bush is not a great president. There is ample proof of this. If you want to impugn his credibility, why not draw attention to the fact that his administration either lied about their intelligence (no pun intended) during the leadup to the war in Iraq or they are unforgivably incompetent? I don't consider myself too far to the left, either. I'm usually the only guy in the room giving W any credit, but I still feel deceived by him and his cabal. So why are we still talking about Vietnam? The continuing abuse of history by both the press and the Kerry campaign is symptomatic of why American voters are so ill-informed.

01 October 2004

Round 1: FIGHT!

Although I didn't play the Fat Farm Drinking Game last night, I did watch the first presidential debate. On one hand it was better and more substantive than I expected, but on the other it did feature a lot of mindless yammering by both W and JFK. I decided to watch the coverage on C-SPAN because they had a basic split screen for the entire debate and didn't have any wavy flag icons obscuring half the screen. Some observations I had:

  • At the beginning of the night JFK looked really nervous. His hands were shaking, he looked like he was gulping down his water, and he looked really uncomfortable. He warmed up a lot as the night went on and eventually hit his stride about halfway through or so. While the President spoke JFK grinned and took feverish notes like a freshman at the first day of class.

  • W also looked worst when he wasn't speaking. He was always squirming, blinking and wrinkling his nose. Plus, the height of his podium was really unflattering since it came up to midchest. He looked like he was peeking out from a hiding spot the whole time.

  • Funny that among all the talk of whether going after Saddam was a diversion from Osama both W and JFK mixed up their names. Who can keep those crazy Middle Eastern names straight anyway?

  • I hate how W always calls JFK "my opponent". For some reason it just drives me nuts.

  • Whenever JFK compared W unfavorably to his father it really irked the hell out of him.

  • JFK made that obnoxious point about "opening firehouses in Iraq while closing them here" that I absolutely despise. It's such a terrible apples/oranges comparison. For one thing, Iraq's infrastructure is so abysmal after the war and due to the continuing insurgency that they need all the essential services they can get, and it's our job to provide them. I mean, they can't even keep the electricity on consistently. It isn't as if we're leaving entire sections of the U.S. without any firemen just so we can buy some fancy new trucks for the Baghdad Fire Dept.

  • They both overplayed their standard messages. Ugh. I hate hearing them repeat themselves. Did you know that JFK served in Vietnam? Or that W thinks "his opponent" flip-flops on important issues? How enlightening!

  • JFK definitely won in terms of zingers delivered. His "I made a mistake talking about the war and the President made a mistake invading Iraq" was definitely classier than when W apoplectically screamed, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us!"

  • Big question: Will the leaders of other countries really give JFK a chance to "rebuild our alliances"? If W is really representative of the disconnect between the USA and other Western countries it is a big reason to vote for JFK. If they just dislike us in general then it's not so much an issue. An inadvertent straw poll of the Aussie and the Brit in my office seems to indicate that they hate W, but that the bigger beef is with the doctrine of unilateral preemption.

22 September 2004


My Magic Summer at Fenway continued last night when my cousin Rob called me at 5PM to offer me a pair of tickets he couldn't use to the Sox-Orioles game. Of course I immediately told him I'd take the tickets, but that's not the whole story. You see, these were the John Hancock season tickets in the .406 Club.

The .406 Club is the luxury box area high above home plate and enclosed in glass. The view looks something like this (minus the toolbox in the foreground). These are the most expensive seats in the most expensive ballpark in the majors. You can only buy them for an entire season and if you divide the annual price into 81 home games, my Dad and I sat in seats which cost the good people at John Hancock $444 each. This made it slightly easier to stomach (literally and figuratively) forking over $6.11 for a Fenway Frank and an astonishing $8 for a bottle of Sam Adams. On the plus side, they did serve free popcorn (to make you thirsty enough to buy another beer). When I picked up the tickets at 6PM I glanced at the attached .406 Club info card and discovered that there's a dress code which requires gentlemen to wear slacks and a collared shirt. Thankfully I had foregone jeans that morning in favor of something classier, so I was all set. I did have to call my Dad back though and make sure he didn't change out of his work clothes before coming over to the game (and it's a good thing 'cause they were pretty strict about the dress code).

It was a bit weird to watch the game from inside the soundproofed area, with the PA announcer piped in along with the NESN broadcast. I have to admit it was nice to be able to glance up at the TV for a replay of any interesting action. As one might expect the place was full of businessmen trying to impress each other and rich old farts (including the guy next to me who was asleep by the 4th inning). Not quite the same as watching the enraged drunks get into a fistfight with Jeff Nelson in the bleachers.

Besides all the hooplah of the seats we scored, the game was absolutely insane. Schilling threw 8 innings of 3 hit ball and registered a season high 14 strikeouts. Plus, certified Red Sox killer Rodrigo Lopez (not to be confused with Javy Lopez or Luis "I'm hitting .195" Lopez, who also play for the O's) was confounding the Bostonians, as usual. So we go to the bottom of the 8th with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out as the Orioles decide to intentionally walk David Ortiz to load the bases. The Orioles go with BJ Surhoff, one of the toughest lefties in the AL and Tito counters with Kevin Millar to pinch hit for Trot Nixon (who's a lefty). Millar fights and fights in the at bat, including two of his patented scorching line drives pulled just foul of 3rd. Finally he lofts a fly ball to right with enough oomph on it to score the Johnny Damon with the game's first run from 3rd. Fenway goes nuts and we head into the top of the 9th with a 1-0 lead.

Keith Foulke comes on for the save and has the Orioles down to their final strike with a man on 2nd when he throws a change-up that the aforementioned Javy Lopez sent over everything in left field and into the westbound lane of I-90 to make it 2-1, Baltimore. Fenway went from rocking to dead silent in approximately 3.2 seconds. Around this time I glanced at the out-of-town scoreboard and mumbled to Dad, "Yankees won."

"Yup," he said.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. Runners on 2nd and 3rd after a Youkilis walk (he saw 4 straight balls that were so far outside he couldn't have hit them with an oar) and a scorching Mueller double off the wall. Tito inexplicably hits Dave McCarty for Pokey Reese when Pokey easily could've put down the squeeze bunt for super-fast Dave Roberts (running for Youk) to score from 3rd. Of course McCarty pops out on 3 pitches and the game is in the hands of Johnny Damon who is approximately 0 for 229 against Surhoff (still in the game). Damon strikes out looking and the game is in the hands of the man who is two strikeouts away from breaking the Red Sox franchise season record of strikeouts (fairly remarkable since he's only played in 85% of this season's games): Mark Bellhorn.

Now I've given Bellhorn a hard time all season (mostly because he seems to make striking out his personal hobby) and he's twice been up in a key situation with the game on the line and I have twice sworn to give him lifetime amnesty from my mockery if he could come through. Both previous times he (what else?) struck out. With my heart in my throat I said to Dad, "I smell a strikeout."

Dad, who had watched the Sox blow games for the past 55 years kind of smiled and said, "I smell a two-run, game winning hit."

I guess that's what it means to be a Sox fan, and this time, Bellhorn crushed the 4th pitch into the triangle in center field and even the stuffed-shirts in the .406 club were on their feet. Sox get a "W" and Bellhorn gets carte blanche for the rest of this season.

20 September 2004

Bernie Mac 3K

I saw Mr. 3000 tonight as a way to kick back a bit after the WI retreat (which isn't all fun & games you know). Plus I need to do something to distract myself from two straight Yankee shellackings of the Red Sox...what better than a movie about baseball?

Anyway, the film was so-so, definitely not worth seeing in the theatre. I'm going to try to pull a Brody here, though and tease out the nice bits and highlight how the film could be made a lot more solid. The premise is that a brash baseball player (Bernie Mac) collects his 3000th career hit and retires on the spot to milk his fame and coast into Cooperstown. 9 years later, as he's about to be voted into the Hall, a record keeping error is discovered which means that 3 of his hits don't count. So he returns to a last place team midseason to try to collect 3 hits and rejoin the elite 3000 club.

The plotlines running through the film are Mr. 3K trying to puruse a former flame from his ballplaying days and his character change from looking out only for his own self-interest to trying to help nudge a bunch of young guys on a losing team toward playing better. The latter bit doesn't go overboard and have him lead them to a World Series or anything — they just try to move up from fifth to third place in their division — it creates meaningful conflict without seeming farfetched.

All these pieces are OK, and there are some funny bits, but they don't really manage to stitch everything together very well. The progress of Bernie's character isn't coherent at all. He jumps from being a big jerk to a role model for no clear reason. Then he starts acting selfish again, also for no clear reason. I felt like the stages of his development needed to be clearer in the writers' minds and then crafted more carefully. The love-interest was similarly poorly implemented. She never felt like a real person and she never put up enough resistance to make that story seem interesting. I just wanted to see each person make decisions that felt like they made sense in the context of everything else.

I think the stoy idea is cute, there were some neat-o baseball shots and angles that made it fun to watch and they have a few nice bits such as the minor character of the team's manager. In that sense they manage to take the very particular lifestyle of pro ball players and create an engrossing world in which to set their film. Then they did a bit of a hack job putting the story into that world.

14 September 2004

Annus Vicesimus Quartus

I really like September. Since I'm not in college any more it doesn't have the same air of excitement and novelty, but that just means I have a greater chance to enjoy the month. The crisp weather is always a refresher after the mugginess of summer; it's one of the nicest times of the year in New England. The middle of the month also brings my birthday, of which this Thursday is my 24th.

Since the WI retreat is all this weekend I've been fitting my birthday plans in this past weekend and this week. On Sunday we had a small family dinner with my parents, my siblings and our significant others. It was low-key, but nice. We had hors d'oeuvres in the yard since it was among the last of the warm days left in the year and then had dinner inside.

It's been a very baseball oriented birthday so far. My Dad gave me a $50 bet on the Sox to win the World Series (which pays a ridiculously bad 3-to-1, but insane Sox fans drive always drive down the odds, since every year is The Year) and Laurie gave me an autographed copy of RemDawg's new book, "Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game Within the Game". Pretty awesome. Jamie and Val told me my gift should've arrived via email. I went upstairs to check and couldn't find anything so I asked them what it was. Turns out they had sent me an iTunes Music Store gift certificate which I had, in fact, already received and promptly trashed as spam. Luckily I was able to dig it out and cash it in. I promptly used the first $0.99 to purchase a copy of Usher's "Yeah!" Everyone was subsequently annoyed.

Continuing the fun is THURSDAY NIGHT RAGE, this Thursday the 16th at Boston Billiards Club in the Fenway/Kenmore area. We'll be watching the Sox game (starts at 7) and drinking $1 drafts. All are encouraged to come. Many will enter, few will win.

13 September 2004

Roof Raising Part Deux


Although I sadly missed the culmination of the aforementioned roof raising, here's a photo of the finished product. And to answer the Good Doc's inquiry. He just wanted more headroom! Anyway, now he's got quite a bit by the looks of it, although he needs to find some way to plug up all the now-bigger window holes and reconnect the front end of the bus to the roof.

12 September 2004

Roof Raising


I spent 6 hours in a construction-crane parking lot yesterday. The occasion was Ehren's bus-roof raising. While we never did get the roof off, it was still a lot of fun. Evidently they're finishing the job today (unfortunately I couldn't attend day 2). If you check out the big version of the photo you can see approximately the state of affairs at the end of the day. We had erected the wooden superstructure to be used to lift the roof off, including the installation of the pipes over which the ropes hung and winches on the side. The free standing towers were a bit wobbly, so we bolted them to the bus frame itself and then attached guy-wires tied off to nearby Big Things to stabilize the whole assembly. I conveniently feature prominently in the photo, lugging a 2X4 off to be chopped into smaller pieces. And yes, the sunset really was that gorgeous.

I really regret having forgot my camera because there were some great opportunities for photography. Especially awesome would've been shots of Ehren doing nighttime cutting of the bus frame. There would've been lots of great shots of him illuminated by cascades of sparks both in the bus and shooting out through the hole he was cutting in the roof. There were a ton of cameras floating around though, so I suspect more photos will surface on the web before long.

10 September 2004

To a Tee

I'm becoming a Golden Tee addict. Who knew slamming your hand against a trackball whilst listening to Pat Summerall's inane commentary could be so much fun? Anyway, the Broad mailserver is alive again. Finally. Freakin' IT mumble mumble.

Network Soilage

Due to some (still unannounced) hardware failure everyone at Broad has been without access to email (as well as a few other Mission Critical Interfaces like the Oracle server) for a full day now. Urgent contact can be done via my gmail account (same username as always). I hate BOFH's, but I hate inept sysadmins more. I mean, what possible excuse is there for not returning email service within 24 hours of an outage in an institution with 400 employees? Bogus.

03 September 2004

9 in a row

It's almost bed time after the Red Sox put the final touches in their 9th straight victory (15 of their last 16, 19 of 22). After what Eck called "3 hours and a thousand pitches," slow moving Bartolo Colon is straddled with the loss as the Sox put 4.5 games between them and the Angels in the wild card race and kept the AL East gap at 3.5 games.

In other news I finally got the wireless network setup here at home which will be a big boon. Maybe this weekend I'll actually have some time to settle down here in Milton, since I've been living out of a few bags and boxes over the last week. The commute is even more fabulous than I remembered—today was my first day where the red line crept along from Ashmont to Kendall, taking 90 minutes. Yee-haw.

Work is busy as I'm trying to crank out the last few bits of code to finish the next Haploview release. After that will be testing, documentation (haha) and then back to several projects (Pinnacle diabetes presentation on Sept. 7, WI retreat on Sept. 17) which I sort of put aside lately in order to focus on coding. Jules and I have been doing some exciting Xtreme Programming lately which has been surprisingly fun and effective. Who knew?

01 September 2004

Today is the first day in a week where I don't have any impending moving hanging over my head. Yup, that's right folks the A-Side Lounge is dead. Long live, the A-Side. We even forgot to have our the-band-is-breaking-up party. At this point, I'm just glad that all our stuff has been dispersed. For one thing I might actually be able to get some work done today instead of thinking about walking up and down that cramped staircase.

30 August 2004

Thoughts on the Passing of Another Summer

I don't think you ever outgrow the wistfulness that comes with the last couple of weeks of August. On the way home from Nantucket I stood at the stern of the ferry and watched the sun set over the water. It was the only real vacation I had taken this summer and it seemed all too short as I was headed back to the stresses of work, moving out of my apartment, and waiting to hear what would become of the next 6 months of my life. It was chilly, too, as it always seems to be out on the water, no matter how warm it is in Hyannis.

Part of my contemplative mood was caused by all the big changes coming up: leaving my apartment, people I know moving away, my own impending move to another country. It was nice in a way to have all those (big, nasty, stressful) things captured by the perennial change from summer to autumn. It's sad to see the summer coming to an end, but there are nice things about autumn, too; and in just that way, it's sad to be getting ready to leave my home for my whole life, but it's exciting, too.

And after all, summer will be back again next year.

24 August 2004

Cone of Silence

As in, I am leaving same. I've also tossed up a few choice photos from the Erection party in Ossipee, some Red Sox games and my recent trip to Nantucket. Now if only I had something interesting to say.

10 August 2004

Erection Party

Well we successfully erected something this weekend, although it wasn't actually an LME (Lightweight Maintenance Enclosure). Instead it was a pair of smaller lightweight tents with a TENT: GENERAL PURPOSE, MEDIUM awaiting additional poles for later erection.

Quite the crowd assembled at Josh's Ossipee land, including the A-Side, Josh & Erin, Scott & Ehren, Brad & Delphin, mdakin, eahearn, Beth Dakin and her friend, paladin, lael, lindsay, mbroxton, greddy and kailas. We sort of arrived in bits and pieces on Saturday. I was originally part of the main car convoy that had departed from Cambridge/Somerville/Revere around 12:30 on Saturday. While we were stopped at a WAL*MART in southern NH, however, we received a distress call from the bicycle party in Pittsfield, NH. Scott and Ehren had left at 6AM to cycle the 135 miles from Boston to Ossipee.

MRhé and I diverted from the rest of the group to go fetch Ehren, who's body had given out on him after 90 miles (which is approximately 85 miles farther than I would've made it). Because my sense of direction is so abysmal we first of all cruised right by Ehren at 50mph before realizing it 5 miles later and doubling back to get him. Then I absentmindedly took the wrong route somewhere in the vicinity of Wolfesboro and wasted another hour heading back and finally getting on track. In the end we arrived only 10 minutes before Scott did on his bike.

Saturday was a lot of brush clearing with the string-trimmer and reorganization of vehicles before dusk fell. Josh, greddy and Brad (with a little late help from me and Ehren) felled a dead tree in the nearby bog (yay, ticks!) and there was much drinking and grilling and revelry into the night. I woke early on Sunday and puttered about the camp site (it was fixing to be a gorgeous sunny day). At around 8:30 I dragged Josh out of bed so we could head to the Indian Mound Hardware Store to purchase a machete for some more heavy-duty brush removal than the string-trimmer was capable of. We arrived just as they were opening (most of the aisles were still clogged with the wares they wheel out front to lure customers in) and the entire store was populated by crochety old men wearing shirts with "INDIAN MOUND" and their names embroidered on the front. Eventually we escaped with a spatula, baking pan (poor man's griddle), bow saw, machete, scythe stone, honing oil, sheath, 100' tape measure and a bottle of syrup from the Valu-Land next door.

Upon our return to camp we had a few people get the fire going to make pancakes while others finished the clearing, measuring and demarcation of the tent site while still others begin inventorying our parts. This last group came to the conclusion not too much later that we did not, in fact possess an LME, but rather a mish-mash of other tent assemblies. After a bit of disappointment we decided to build what we had and ended up with something which could at least shelter the two boats.

Anyway, some photos to come soon, although Amrys's are more plentiful anyway.

02 August 2004

The War of Ideas and the Ideas of War

This would be elsewhere if Scott provided the facility to comment on his website entries. As is, I'll continue the discourse originally prompted from his thoughts on terrorist grievances in this forum.

In the post Scott outlines his belief that President Bush is out of touch with the reality of the so-called "War On Terror". He supports this opinion by contrasting a statement by George W, which in part reads:

"They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."

He then goes on to quote from Osama's 1998 letter to Al-Quds al-Arabi, a London based Arabic newspaper. His point is to show that Al Qaeda lays out several grievances via bin Laden's ltter which have nothing to do with the President's contention that this war is between Freedom (as represented eloquently by the Bill of Rights) and Oppression.

I think George W. Bush (for all his failings) manages perfectly to capture the essence of this war.

Let's begin with the document used to infer Al Qaeda's true grievances, the 1998 communiqué titled, "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." Given that mouthful of a title and the Qur'an quotation which begins the piece:

"I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but God is worshipped."

It is immediately clear that Osama defines this as an us-versus-them conflict between Islam and the infidels. Osama goes on to lay out "three facts that are known to everyone," including accusations that the US is "occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, and terrorizing its neighbors," and bemoaning "the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million." This is not a rational statement of purpose, but a wholesale distortion of reality. The presence of the United States in Arabia represents a challenge to the hegemony of radical Islamist governments in the region. This is a declaration of war on the fundamental beliefs that accompany Americans on every overseas deployment. Osama isn't saying, go home and we'll return to contentedly surpressing and murdering our own people, he's saying, "I'm going to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, then I'm going to come and stomp you out in America too." He calls his fighters in February 2003 to fight "to establish the rule of God on earth," commenting, "take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other."

Let's go further and validate President Bush's representation of this conflict. It's pretty much summed up by Osama's "Letter to America" of November, 2002:

"It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:

You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?"

He derides all the things that Bush claims separate us from the evil-doers: freedom of speech, separation of church and state and the idea that our government is the people's government, not God's.

Not only are Al Qaeda's aims much deeper than stated in Osama's original fatwah, but the claims he makes in same are in such unabashed contradiction of reality that they are nearly meaningless. George Bush and his handlers love painting this picture as a very stark battle between the forces of Freedom and Chaos. He loves using freighted words like "evil" to stir up public fervor on his behalf. But in times of widespread moral tergiversation we need to occasionally stand up and declare, "We believe that our system is the best there is in an imperfect world, and if you choose to try to impose your despotic 11th century ideals on us, you're in for one hell of a fight."

28 July 2004

He Really Ought to Have Bought the Disassembled F-15

Well, I'm not gonna write about any of the stuff I thought I might write about. Instead you get to hear about yesterday's adventure at the Naval Submarine Base, New London, which is inexplicably located in Groton, CT. Josh had purchased a 1984 Dodge Ram Pickup from an online government surplus auction and it needed picking up (or loadout as they call it) from the DRMO office there.

The paperwork claimed it only had 22,000 miles on it, but I was dubious from the start. If we hypothesize that this vehicle was used only for driving around base it is possible that it only got this much use. And when we arrived the 5-digit odometer did, in fact, read "22,286" but something tells me that it's the second time that number has come 'round on that gauge.

Anyway, wear & tear aside, the mission was quite a success. We first headed to Enfield, CT to swipe the plates off the now officially dead Jeep. Somehow time seemed to be slipping away quicker than we'd have liked. We had a 12PM appointment with the guy running the DRMO loadouts and Josh seemed to think these types of dudes only hung around for about a one hour window on any given workday. Despite the fact that we had left Cambridge very close to our planned start time of 8AM, it was already 10:30 by the time we departed the car storage lot known as JRandall Sr's house.

Thanks to some remote navigation by Laurie we managed to sneak across the middle of CT without diverting too much from the straight line path roughly between Hartford and Groton. We arrived at the sub base at about 12:20 and proceeded to the inspection location where the Corvair was searched and documented and several Naval enlisted personnel tried to buy the car off Josh. As an aside, only he would show up to pick up this P.O.S. pickup truck in a '69 collector's item. Whatever.

We were given our "Temporary Employee" base passes and proceeded to head 'cross the upper base toward the DRMO office. Upon arrival we met up with the civilian contractor responsible for the liquidation auctions. After getting some paper work together Josh asked nonchalantly, "Are we insane for thinking we might be able to get this thing started?" To which the guy immediately gave us a look indicating we were indeed insane for thinking such a thing and said, "Well, you never know with these vehicles, but I wouldn't bet on it."

He continued making copies of the official documents and we wandered through all the pallets of goodies waiting for other crazy people to come pick up until we reached the vehicle lot at the top of the hill. Lots of neat-o deuce and a halfs in addition to some other cool trucks parked alongside Josh's new (to him anyway) pickup. It was in decent shape, although the interior looked like it had been subjected to 20 years of bored Navy guys sitting in it.

We discovered that it had a working battery when Josh accidentally brushed the dangling horn wire against the contact point on the steering wheel and scared the hell out us. We searched around for keys under the floor mats or above the sun-visors, but didn't find anything. Josh also found the small "trash can" bolted in the truck bed (which we later learned is actually a urinal—after Josh had been poking around in it, of course). We were joined by the auction guy and Josh said, "Well the battery seems to work," to which he replied, "Oh good, you have the keys, then?"

Evidently keys aren't necessarily included in these sorts of auctions, so we were in a bit of a tight spot. The guy had a handful of keys which definitely did not fit this truck, and told us we had until 2:50PM (it was then about 12:40) to get the truck off the lot or else we'd be kicked out. We returned to the Corvair and drove it up the hill to the truck and connected the batteries so at least we'd have a good charge if we ever managed to hotwire it and bypass the mechanical steering wheel lock. Josh and I discussed alternatives for a few minutes (neither of us had thought to bring picks—next time!) when the dude reappeared with a few more "random keys" he'd found down in his little surplus shed o' fun.

Thankfully, one of the keys was to our truck (he even had the door key) and we were eventually able to get the engine to turn over and start. After pushing it out of the gravel rut it is was in, Josh drove the truck down the hill (with me following in the Corvair) and we zoomed off-base. It was a quick lunch at KFC and then homeward bound. As I tailed the truck on the highway home it belched the occasional huge cloud of black smoke while the whole body would shudder. Josh later hypothesized it had never been in 3rd gear in its 20 years of on-base service, and so the transmission was very unwilling to cooperate when Josh tried to go over 50mph.

In the end we made it safely back to Ducksberry and I managed not to wreck the Corvair. If only I'd had my camera with me, this whole entry would be much more entertaining.

27 July 2004

Lack of Postage

No, I'm not talking about being without a 37-cent number, I just feel lame about not having posted about several recent developments:

  • The exciting Sox game I went to with benoc on Sunday

  • Several good pieces of political writing on the web

  • The play I saw two weekends ago

  • Warner's visit to Beantown

  • Various rigs et alia

Tomorrow, maybe...

23 July 2004

The Politics of Failure Have Failed

I'm really irked by the DNC zealots all over the place who come up to you with their clipboard and ask, "Hello, would you like to help me defeat George Bush?" They don't want to know if you're interested in supporting some positive effort by the Democratic Party, they don't want to know if you're interested in learning more about their platform, they just want to crucify the other guy.

My reaction now is just to smile broadly and reply, "No thanks, I'm a Republican."

Ego Stroke

Bioinformatics accepted my paper! Woo-hoo!

A brief excerpt from Reviewer 2:

It is relatively rare that an analysis tool becomes the de facto world standard prior to formal publication. Haploview, however, is so useful, and so wonderfully useable, that it is without doubt the current world class standard analysis tool for all basic haplotype inference and visualization.

19 July 2004


My Dad had been trying to talk me into going to see NASCAR*3D at the Aquarium IMAX theatre for a few months now. We finally went yesterday and I have to admit that it was much cooler than I expected. I hadn't been to a 3D movie in ages, so that was kind of a neat experience in itself. But the best part was definitely watching the garage and pit crews in action.

These guys are totally nuts. The car pulls into the pitstop at 50MPH, screeches to a halt and these guys change four tires, refuel the car and perform whatever other maintenance is necessary in something like 13 seconds. First a guy sticks a jack under one side and then literally jumps in the air onto the 7' lever arm and rides it down using all his weight to bring the car off the ground in one stroke. 5 seconds worth of pneumatic wrenching and the tires are off and replaced. Repeat on the other side while another guy is pouring fuel into the back of the car and you're off.

Plus, they completely break down the engine after every freakin' race. They showed footage of these guys with a little plastic box with slots for each frigging bolt and piece of the engine as they tear it down, inspect for wear and then rebuild it.

Also, there was the necessary footage of rednecks sitting outside their RV's.

16 July 2004


Dude. The three terms of the academic year at Oxford are called the Michaelmas term, the Hilary term and the Trinity term.

15 July 2004

You Too Can Be a Part of the World Salsa Record

My boss came into the office today claiming there's a rumor spreading around Whitehead that as part of Cambridge's "Unconventional City" promotion during the DNC, up to 60,000 salsa dancers might turn up in the intersection of Main & Vassar Streets (right beneath my office window).

Turns out it's true, although I think the 60,000 might be a typo for 6,000. Evidently "Legendary Salsa artist" Willie Colon will be performing a free Salsa concert in the middle of the street, and will attempt to break the World Salsa Record which was previously set in October 2000 when ~3700 people salsa danced for 5 minutes in Barcelona.

We'll be serving popcorn in my office while watching the festivities. An equally good view can be had from Building 32, I suspect.