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.

14 July 2004

The Living Room Candidate

Slashdot linked to an amazing online exhibition at the American Museum of the Moving Image a while ago, but it of course had been slashdotted. I just happened across it today, and can't recommend it highly enough.

"The Living Room Candidate" is a collection of television ads for presidential campaigns from 1952 to 2004 and is truly amazing. It serves as a simultaneous documentary of American politics and the history of television in the past 50 years. Insightful and unbiased commentary on the elections, issues and individual spots allows you to trace the important events in national identity over half a century. And as icing on all the great content, the site is well designed and implemented, and totally ad-free—well, except for the campaign ads.

Clearance Sale

So I was reminded today that I need to start getting rid of all the stuff I've accumulated before I move overseas this fall. Most of this stuff will probably eventually be posted to craigslist in the hope that I can give it away instead of having to pack it up and move it some place myself.

In the meantime, anybody reading this is welcome to the following furniture items which I desperately need to unload. All you need to do is show up at my apartment and cart it off:

  • Steelcase desk, probably about 4' X 3' or so. In good shape.

  • Yellow steel shelving system which I may or may not have stolen from putz last summer. About 7' high with adjustable shelves.

  • Vanilla twin-sized bed. I probably need to hold onto this one until I'm ready to move.

  • 4 drawer dresser in respectable shape.

09 July 2004


Rhéaume has already bløgged extensively about our Independence Day trip to NYC, so I won't rehash all his details, but instead add a few random thoughts from the trip.

This was my first time to New York where I didn't feel overwhelmed by the city. Part of it was the fact that we stayed totally away from the touristy parts of the city and part of it was hanging out with a bunch of New Yorkers whilst we were there. Hanging out in the East Village was different from being in the Midtown/Times Square area. It's hard to explain, but it made the whole trip more fun. For the first time I could see myself moving to New York (not that I'm going to do so anytime soon). Kudos to Lopez and Kimberly for being smashing hosts.

I had an interesting experience on the bus ride into the city. The route goes straight down 5th Avenue all the way from Harlem down to somewhere near 42nd St, where it cuts over to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It was a very tangible illustration of how poorly racially integrated American society is. This isn't a criticism of New York mind you, it just provides a very glaring example: as we drove through Harlem everyone was black. It was a gorgeous Saturday so people were out walking around and hanging out. All the parks were full of families setting up picnics and kids running around hosing each other with water guns. And although I stared out the window for the whole time I saw zero white people. Then suddenly you cross some magic line somewhere near the beginning of Central Park and before the Guggenheim and everybody's white. The only black people I saw in this neighborhood were a guy sweeping the streets, several doormen and two waiters at an outdoor café.

What's my point with all this? Just that it made me sit up and think about how, despite making some strides in terms of racial equality, we've made almost none in terms of integration. People still live in self-selecting neighborhoods of people who look like they do. There are some benefits to having a cultural identity, and being part of a community is often a very positive influence. Problems arise when these communities start to define people above and beyond their individual personalities and when one group becomes antagonistic towards another solely because they aren't in the same tribe. This is very much a part of the story in Israel, and it persists today in the United States.

Hold the Phone

If there's one bløg you add to your daily forage, let it be this.

02 July 2004



The indomitable Cesar Crespo. Currently batting a torrid .165 and slugging .215

Please, please, please trade him straight up to the Padres for a box of baseballs and a couple of avocados.

Gotta love that Dirty Water

If you want to know how it all went down last night, you could do worse than to read my main man MRhé's accounting of the game. Pay particular attention to point (8), toward the very end.

After all was said and done, I got up in shocked silence and went into my room. I forced myself to read some of Heretic so that I wouldn't relive any of the heartbreaking moments in the game. I fell asleep at about 12:30 and when I woke up this morning I had none of the same despair I felt after Game 7 of the ALCS or even after the Red Sox had lost games 1 and 2 of this series.

I guess I'm able to appreciate that it was one of the best games I'll ever see, results be damned. It was just so much fun to watch especially since I had some True Fans to cheggidout with—props to Jon & Bryan (who managed not to boot in my bathroom). Plus, the season is still in full swing. I mean those boys played tooth and nail baseball with the hottest team in the league for 13 innings!


01 July 2004

Deep Breath

A few soothing thoughts for all those members of Red Sox Nation currently writhing in anguish:

Point the first:

Games Played to Date in '04: 76

Games Yet to Be Played in '04: 86


Boston is ranked 2nd in ERA, 3rd in Slugging % and 2nd in OBP. The Yankees? 4th in all 3. Plus, the Yankees season run differential (58) is only 7 runs more than the Sox (51). Yeah, yeah, I know that all this will come for naught in October, but think about it: in many ways the Sox are stronger than the Yankees.


We've still got more than half the season (1) to allow the boys to show us what they're made of (2). Have patience my brothers and sisters. Have patience.

The real point here is to highlight how overly dramatic we're all(i.e. the Nation) being. Today's Globe wrote off all hope for a pennant ("Focus on the wild card!"), claimed that Theo would make a wild and ill-advised trade if the Sox lose again tonight and Dan Shaugnessy (who is increasingly becoming my least-favorite person on earth) predicted not only that Nomar would flee Boston but that Pedro wants to pitch for New York next season.

So for all you true fans in the house: ease into your Laz-Y-Boy tonight, crack open a beer and enjoy a matchup between two of the best teams in baseball.