31 December 2005

Trip to the Palisades

Originally uploaded by djboorstein.
So, yesterday we went to the Palisades, where I took this picture of my brother. We went for a walk with my grandmother, my father, and my mother. It was a nice walk, a bit cold, but still pleasant.

28 December 2005

Harry Potter and Emergency Room Visits

Harry Potter releases caused a drop-off in visits to a hospital emergency room in Britain. In John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, (in the UK) doctors noticed that there were significantly less visits by children for musculoskeletal injuries on the weekends that Harry Potter was released. It's a short article, worth reading. It is also worth viewing the text below the heading "contributors," the writers apparently had a sense of humour.

To New York City

Yesterday I went into New York City, and saw a New York Historical Society exhibit on slavery in NYC. It was ok. I had actually learned something about slavery in my History of the City of New York class in college, so I already knew something about it. We took the train in, and the subway around. The subway had $1.00 fares because of the holiday special, which was nice. Lunch in Chinatown, and I got sweet Sennheiser headphones from B and H for my iPod. They're nice because although they are not noise-cancelling, they still seal out a lot of noise so I don't have to turn the music up quite so loud.

23 December 2005

My rather smart cat

Recently, my cat has taken to using her paw to take food from her food bowl and put it into her water dish. She then eats it after it has been dunked in water. I guess she must like the food softer. However, I think it is pretty smart that she has ascertained that water will tend to make food softer. I'm pretty impressed.

22 December 2005

More about Boston, Something about Waterbury

For those of you who know Boston and are curious as to where I went, I took the T to Haymarket, and got off the train and walked from there through the North End to Old North Church, and then across the Charles and along the Freedom Trail to see the U.S.S. Constitution. I then walked back, and had lunch in an italian restaurant -- La Famiglia Giorgio in the North End. I though the North End was a neat neighborhood. I could see that it had not changed that much in years.
Jane Jacobs wrote about how the North End was a good neighborhood in her book, the Death and Life of Great American Cities. Even though the book is old now, a lot of the neighborhoods she talks about are still there, and if you have ever been to the neighborhood, it is neat to see her analysis in action.
It was also nice to be in a place where the subway only cost $1.25 (as opposed to the $2.00 that it costs in New York City)
Waterbury, where I went the next day, was nowhere near as interesting as Boston. It is an old mill town, they used to have brass manufacturing and clocks there, but now there doesn't seem to be much of anything going on, it seemed a bit depressed. I didn't like the hills there, with the manual transmission car I was driving, it was difficult to get the car started on the hills. There was a nice museum there, but once I had walked around the town once and seen the museum, there really was not much else to do in town.
They apparently took lessons from Carlisle on snow-plowing though, a lot of the streets did not have all the snow removed, so that I had to park the car on top of a snow bank.

20 December 2005

In Boston

Originally uploaded by djboorstein.
I went to Boston today and yesterday. It was nice to walk around and see some of the different sites. Although I did not get to go aboard the U.S.S. Constitution (it was closed), I did visit a museum next door (which was free), but good, and told about a battle the U.S.S. Constitution was involved in at Tripoli. There are more pictures if you go here.

My two cents about Gmail's Recent Upgrades

So, I'm going to post my comments about Gmail's upgrades.
I like how they allow you to have group lists in Gmail. This will come in handy for when I need to send groups of people email but don't have them set up as a Google Group.
Sending an automated vacation message is also neat.
Although I like the idea of the RSS feeds in Gmail, I don't like how they implement ads with it. I am fine with the ads while reading the email, they are always off to the right and I can ignore them if I want to. However, I end up reading the ads when I am looking to see what RSS feed Gmail is offering me.
Instead, I have set up NPR and the BBC as live bookmarks on Mozilla Firefox. Just as nice, and no ads. Yet another reason why I think downloading Firefox is a good idea.
The virus scanning that they just set up is obviously good.

15 December 2005

Cleaning the apartment

So, I finally stopped stalling and cleaned the apartment. Mind you, it is not spotless, but it doesn't look like quite the disaster area it did earlier. I'd like to do some more cleaning before I go home for winter break. The apartment tends to get away from me during finals, so I'm glad that I made it look somewhat nicer.

10 December 2005

Done with Finals

So, I'm done with finals for this semester. It's nice. Now, I have time to do some free reading, which is something I don't really have time to do during the school year. I love just going to the library and perusing through the shelves and picking some book that seems interesting to me to read. Right now, I'm reading True Grizz (and I don't have the author in front of me). It's about grizzly bears, and so far seems good. Anyone else have any suggestions for books to read? Anything law-related is probably out, unless it's really good...but I'm open otherwise (fiction/non-fiction, etc.)

08 December 2005

Added an Add to Google Button

Those of you who are observant may have noticed that I added an "Add to Google" button to my blog. This will enable you, if you are signed up for Google Reader/Google's Personalized Home Page, to add my site to it, so that you can view it more easily. I like Google Reader quite a bit, it has a pretty slick interface, and lets me view a lot of blogs in a quick manner, and also is independent of what computer I am using.

02 December 2005

Retro-Computing on an NEC Powermate 2

So, , while I was at home I turned on my NEC Powermate 2+ (which was purchased in 1987 and has an Intel 80286 processor running at 10 Mhz) It runs WordPerfect 5.1, and used to be able to run Windows 3.1 The reason I say "used to" is because of a fire inside the computer which killed the extended memory card.
The story is:
I was looking up the stairs in my house, and noticed my cat staring upstairs into my room, which was unusual. I decided it might be worth investigating, and walked upstairs to discover a cloud of smoke coming from the computer, along with a strong smell of burnt electronics. The extended memory card had shorted and caught fire. That was the end of the extended memory card, and the end of Windows 3.1 on that computer (which requires extended memory to run). Now it runs DOS 5.0.
Anyway, I played some retro games on the computer, including Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, and a game called Intel Memory Hog Hunter. Intel Memory Hog Hunter is essentially like Pac-Man, only Pac-Man is an Intel circuit board, and the ghosts are hogs. The object is to try to catch the hogs and keep them away from the memory chips, you "win" software, it's neat to see the ancient designs for Software (Windows 286, WordPerfect, Lotus 123, etc.) Eventually the game starts to get very slooowwww because it can't handle moving all the hogs around.

Unintentional work of art

Old West Hall on Dickinson College's campus has what I think is an unintentional work of art. As you walk to Old West at night from High Street, you can see in almost all of the windows (and there are probably between ten and twenty of these) three candles lit for the holidays. In one, though, there is a menorah. It would actually make for a nice picture if I could somehow take a detailed enough photograph at night.

01 December 2005

Berenstain Bears Author Dies

Stan Berenstain, the author of the Berenstain Bears books, died on 24 November. NPR had an interview with this bookstore owner, Peter Glassman. Mr. Glassman criticized the Berenstains for rushing out their books, and said that the books had forced morals and were therefore not as good. Honestly, I think many children's books have morals in them. I really enjoyed the Berenstain Bear books as I was growing up, even if they did have morals in them.
My favorite books growing up, though, were probably Robert McCloskey's books, not Make Way for Ducklings, but Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Time of Wonder. I used to go on vacation near the locale of these books when I was younger, and it was fun to read about places that I actually was (or could go visit) in the books. There actually really is a Condon's Garage (If you read One Morning in Maine, you'll know what I mean)

30 November 2005

Firefox -- Why You Should Download It

So, the latest version of Firefox is out (Version 1.5) I use Firefox as my primary browser, and hardly ever use Internet Explorer anymore. Why should you?
It has tabbed browsing (so instead of switching from window to window, you can just click a tab at the top of your browser to switch to another web-page session)
It's very fast, and can be customized with lots of different extensions that will enhance it, much more so than Internet Explorer.
It's less prone to viruses than Internet Explorer is and is really easy to configure.

28 November 2005

Musical Comments

On 18 November, I was listening to Dickinson College's radio station, WDCV, and was surprised to find out that they were offering a free CD if you wanted it, you just had to call up and ask for it (you did not have to be the 51st caller or whatever. I called up, and gave them my address, and after I got back from Thanksgiving, the CD (Return to Cold Mountain) was waiting for me.
I haven't listened to the whole thing, but for now I will say that I am glad I did not pay for it. It's ok, but so far I have not fallen in love with any of the songs on it.
Besides this, I was pretty surprised awhile ago to find Alison Krauss and Union Station's "The Lucky One" and "Every Time You Say Goodbye" downloadable for free on Amazon. If you'd like to download them, just type in the song title and Alison Krauss, and it will allow you to download it. You will need an Amazon account to download it, but they don't charge you. Both of these songs are really good, and Alison Krauss has an awesome voice.
As long as we're on the subject of free music downloads, check out:
Crooked Still. I like Look on and Cry, but Darling Corey is also a free download.

And on the preventing music downloads front...

I think Sony BMG may have gotten itself into a heap of trouble with their digital rights management software. If you did not hear, Sony BMG basically sold CDs which had software on them to prevent you from turning them into MP3s, or listening to it on your computer without using their software. However, their software makes computers vulnerable to viruses and also hides itself, so it cannot easily be removed.
Because of this, Sony is replacing all of the CDs with this software free of charge (and paying shipping costs both ways), and according to their website, is, ironically, offering MP3 downloads to anyone who submits their CD.
The State of Texas has sued them (at $100,000 each incident) because they think that the software is spyware , and so have others. The link I provide above goes to Texas' lawsuit against Sony BMG, which actually has a very clear (and relatively non-technical) explanation of how the software worked, and why it was so horrible.

18 November 2005

Think Twice Before Using a Pit Bull in your Advertising

The Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded two attorneys and sent them to the Florida Bar Advertising Workshop because they used a pit bull in their law firm's advertising. The attorneys claimed that it was indicative of their tenacity, but the court felt that using a pit bull was inappropriate. The opinion is a PDF, docket number 04-40 on the Florida Supreme Court's website. I actually learned a bit about pit bulls from reading it.

16 November 2005

This year's way to avoid studying for finals

After going to this link, click on the left arrow, go out the door, and then click on the penguin. Thanks Caley of The Sweetest Things for this link.

15 November 2005

Song I heard on the BBC on iTunes

So, I was listening to Mike Harding's Show on the BBC the other day, and heard a song I liked. Mike Harding's Show is a folk music show. The song was a Steve Earl/Shannon Sharon with Galway Girl. Usually I have little luck finding these songs on iTunes, since many of them are
by independent artists and therefore Apple may not have negotiated whatever agreement with them. I was able to find the song, and download it, without having to buy the whole album. Here's a link to it on iTunes, if you are interested. Note that you will need iTunes to view the link.

14 November 2005

Weekend Events

Sarah's birthday was this weekend, and she wanted to see Trick Pony at a free concert that we saw in Harrisburg, at the Hardware Bar. They were pretty good, I was impressed with Heidi Newfield's harmonica skills. I was a bit surprised by how few people were there (pleasantly surprised (because I we were able to get pretty close to the band), mind you, but still surprised. It was nice to get out of Carlisle, which is somewhat necessary to retain one's sanity.

06 November 2005

Gmail Tip

If you want to add someone's address to your contacts in Gmail as you send them a message (like if you just looked them up in the Penn State directory and were typing the message to them), just type in the "To" field as shown in the comments to this entry.
(the quotation marks around the name are needed for this trick to work, and there should not be spaces between the email address and the "<" and ">" signs) Once you do this, whoever you are emailing will be added to your contacts list.
To post this and prevent Blogger from interpreting the "<" and ">"as HTML, I had to put the spaces in and post the actual address in the comments section.

05 November 2005

Yahoo! Maps vs. Google Maps

As much of a fan of Gmail that I am, I must admit that Yahoo! Maps is better than Google Maps. Even before Yahoo! Maps got its facelift, it was better. The test that I use for any mapping service is to ask it to plot a route from my house in New York to a place that I used to go on vacation in rural Maine. Sometimes mapping services have tried to plot me a route across the water on this route, but not this time. While I think both of them take me along the same route, Google Maps refers to the roads by name, rather than state road number (as Yahoo! Maps does in addition to calling it by name) It makes it much easier to spot the road if you have the road number, since you see a junction and a large sign with the road number, as opposed to just a little tiny green sign with the name, which is not easy to spot if you're moving at a good clip. Plus, Yahoo! Maps remembers previous addresses I have looked up, Google Maps does not.
Yahoo! also has a new mail service, which I'd like to try, but right now it looks like it is still in Beta and unavailable to most people.

29 October 2005

Virgin Records Sins

So I went to New York on Friday, and when I was in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, I noticed that there was a Virgin Records store there. (It's a modest store, not like a Virgin Megastore that you might be picturing) However, it gave me something to do while Amtrak switched engines. In any case, I noticed that, among the things they were selling, were coasters made from the center portion of records (where the track listings are, along with the hole to put the record onto the spindle for the record player) To do this, I imagine that Virgin had to destroy the record, and I think this is a sin. There was at least one artist that I recognized, and even though I did not recognize it, I'm sure that someone might really want a record by an artist, and now, because Virgin must have gone through its inventory and destroyed a whole bunch of records, they'll never be able to get one again. It's really a sin to do that.

17 October 2005

Technological Musings

Google came out with a version of their toolbar which is compatible with Mozilla Firefox Beta, which is really nice, because that was holding me back on upgrading. I like the spell checking option of it especially, since if I am filling out a webform (as at the New York Times to send an article to someone), I like to check my spelling.

Apple's new iPod Video is nice, but I'm not about to run out and buy one. I usually like to listen to music while I study, and so the video portion of it would not be useful. I guess it might be useful if I was taking a long airplane flight or something, but for that I might as well buy a portable DVD player, which I would imagine are at least somewhat comparably priced.

Google came out with a new blog reader, reader.google.com It's nice because I can get to blogs that I am intersted in watching for new postings from any computer.

New Orleans

There is a post on Ernie The Attorney's Blog about his return to New Orleans, I think it is really well written.

07 October 2005

Cold Case Music

Cold Case is my favorite show to watch on TV right now. What I really like about it is not only the story lines, but the music that goes along with it. Whoever picks the music for it does an excellent job, because they pick songs that toally mesh with the plot. They're picking songs from whatever era the show is set in. Last Sunday they had, as the ending song, Sarah McLachlan's Fallen, which was really appropriate for last Sunday's show.
Although, as I was watching it on Sunday, I called out "Seized!" when the police officers restrained someone from leaving that they wanted to question. Sigh. I suppose I've been in law school too long.

03 October 2005

Rules for Shotgun

I'm going to link to Will Huynh's blog, he has a really clever post on his blog for how to determine who will ride shotgun.

Apple Computer vs. the Record Companies

There's been a series of articles where Apple and the record companies (some of them) have been disputing the amount of money that Apple charges for songs that are downloaded from iTunes. Basically, some of the record companies want to raise the price that Apple charges for songs. I think that the record companies need to read Aesop's Fables. In particular, the fable of the Golden Goose. (One sentence synopsis of the Golden Goose: Goose lays one golden egg a day, farmer likes this, and wants more, so he kills the golden goose to get all the eggs out of her, but there are no more left, and he is left with a dead golden goose)
According to this article in Time magazine:
the record companies get 65 cents per song that they sell on iTunes. This is pure profit for them. They did not have to manufacture the CD, ship the CD to the record store, or produce the plastic needed for the case/CD, or produce the album art (other than to transmit to Apple
a computer file that has the image of the cover on it) They want to raise the price for some songs, and claim that they will lower the prices for others. I'll believe the lower prices when I see them. My big concern is that I think that the record companies make too much money as it is. I think that it is important to reward artists, but the problem is that much of the money does not go to artists, but goes to the record companies.
for information on this.
I think that the record companies should leave iTunes alone.

24 September 2005

Car Talk

Here is a funny story I found about how Supreme Court decisions are like Stump The Chumps on Car Talk, but you'll need to have listened to Car Talk to appreciate it.
Car Talk Stump The Chumps

04 September 2005

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

NPR ended Weekend Edition Sunday with a piece about Fats Domino, who was reported missing in New Orleans, but was found alive in Baton Rouge. The song (Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans) is really good, and I'd suggest listening to it. You can hear the whole thing (with a bit of commentary at the beginning), here:

Also, for those of you reading from Penn State Dickinson, please see this blog for information on a mass fundraiser which will be starting at the school, I presume this week.

30 August 2005

New Orleans

First, I sympathize with the people of New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. I was watching the News Hour on PBS tonight, and even the governor of Louisiana was at a loss for words and was nearly breaking down. It's rare that I see a politician at a loss for words or breaking down.
They also had a man describing how his wife (who has not been seen since) told him to let go of her hand during the flood and tend to their children. Very sad.
There is an interesting article which foretells this sort of thing here:
There is also an article from the Times, which struck me when I read it years ago, and now is particularly relevant. It is a back issue, so you will need access to ProQuest to find it (Penn State people can use Lias to get to it), but the article title is: Nothing's Easy for New Orleans Flood Control by Jon Nordheimer, published on April 30, 2002, page F1. (I'm not posting it here because I don't want to be sued for copyright infringement)

Google Desktop and Google Talk

I'm going to make a quick comment about Google Desktop and Google Talk.
Google Desktop is a really neat program...it indexes your whole computer, so if I am studying for my final exam and need to find something quickly in my notes, I just type in whatever I want, and in seconds it displays the file that has the information I want in it. It can do the same thing with emails. It also has a neat feature which as part of the new Sidebar which has a To-Do List. It also will keep track of RSS feeds (blogs). However, on two occasions, the To-Do-List items along with other features of the Sidebar, have crashed, and all of my To-Do-List items along with my customized blogs have been lost. So, the Sidebar feature is somewhat useless right now.
I'm honestly not sure what Google is thinking with Google Talk though. Aol Instant Messenger has such a huge market share, and Google Talk really does not offer anything new. Google Talk, for all its hype, is a very barebones instant messenger client. You can only communicate with Google Talk users (no one I know is a Google Talk user), and you can't do file transfers at all, and although you can have voice chat with your computer, a cell phone will do the same thing, and is much more convenient to use. If they can persuade AOL Instant Messenger to work with Google Talk, then I might consider using it, but until then, I think Google Talk will get nowhere, because it does not do anything new.

23 August 2005

Back in School

So, I'm back in school again, after a summer that went all too quickly. Over the last two weeks of vacation, I went on vacation with my family, including places like St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri. I had the not-too-unusual experience of watching the KC Royals get slaughtered.
I think the score was eleven to one. However, the traffic leaving the game was absolutely nothing compared to a traffic jam leaving a NYC game, and the weather was very nice.
I also got to visit Mammoth Cave National Park, which is amazing. The cave is the longest in the world, at 365 miles, but they are still trying to connect other caves up to it.
There was even a court case on a (currently unconnected to Mammoth) cave that I learned about on one of the tours.
A cave entrance was on one person's land, but the cave extended into another person's land, and that person sued for damages for trespass.
I also got to see Clinton's Library in Little Rock, and Little Rock Central High School (which is still a functioning high school). I also got to see a Harley Davidson factory (Kansas City), a Corvette Factory (Bowling Green, KY), and a Miller brewery (Memphis) (where I learned that Blue Moon "Belgian" beer is actually brewed not in Belgium but in Memphis)
I eventually plan to post pictures from this vacation, once I get them developed.

25 July 2005

AIM Fights

AOL Instant Messenger has a new thing to play with, www.aimfight.com
You can see how your popularity compares to other AOL Instant Messenger users.
The explanation for it was also written with a sense of humor.

24 July 2005

Scottish Music as a Podcast

Podcasts, in case you don't know, are downloads that are often listened to on an iPod, they are usually sent out as an MP3 file. I say "often listened to" because any MP3 player will do, whether on your computer or another MP3 player)
One of the problems with putting music out as a podcast is the copyright problem (since anytime you make an MP3 file available it can be listened to forever, and if you let someone have a music file forever, you don't give them any reason to buy a CD.)
Anyway. This guy, Mark Hunter, has managed to persuade various Scottish artists (who are unsigned) to allow him to put their music out as a Podcast. Because they're unsigned, there is no copyright concern to worry about.
If you have read this far, you're probably thinking that the music is going to be bagpipe music and thus uninteresting. While I cannot guarantee that you'll like it, the music is not bagpipe music. The show that I listened to, Spotlight Show 6, Ally Kerr, had music that is pop music..
I think it's worth listening to, particularly if you have a high-speed connection, since the files are a decent size (16 MB or so).
If you have Itunes 4.9, select:
Advanced|Subscribe to Podcast...
and type in this URL in the resulting dialog box.
Otherwise you can manually download the MP3s off the first URL and put them into the MP3 player of your choice.

21 July 2005

Seeing Dervish

I went to see this group called Dervish in Lancaster last Sunday evening. It was really hot, but worth it. The concert was free, part of the Longs Park Concert Series.
They ony played one or two songs (out of probably ten or fifteen) from their new album. Personally, I like their new album less than their older ones. While there, I got one of their CDs and had it autographed by the whole band. The one flaw in the concert is that when Cathy Jordan (the lead singer) picked a song to get the crowd to sing along to, she picked one that has a moderately difficult melody, as opposed to something easy.

04 July 2005

HOV Lanes on the Long Island Expressway

After years of construction, there are now HOV lanes on the
section of the Long Island Expressway that I travel on. They
are in the left-most lane, and if you are not traveling on
them during rush hour, you can be in them even if you are not
a carpool.
Does this mean that if I choose to travel in them, I have to
travel at the super high speed that Long Island speed-demons
would have me go? (You cannot switch in and out of them at
will, like some HOV lanes, you can only enter/exit them at
certain stretches) Therefore I don't think that the HOV lane
can be considered a passing lane. Comments?

Pete Seeger on NPR

Pete Seeger was on NPR on Saturday.

NPR did an interview with him where they discussed some of the folk songs he had been involved with, including "This land is your land" As a note, Woody Guthrie (the composer of this song) originally had the final words of the chorus be "God blessed America for me." as opposed to the familiar words "This land was made for you and me" I think the latter is better.

16 June 2005

Some books I've read/am reading

Some books that I've been reading lately include:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This is a book about an autistic boy in England who discovers
a dead dog and the results of his detective work. (Thanks Ben
W. for suggesting this book)
Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira
A reporter spends one year in a courtroom in the Chicago
criminal courthouse.
Disclaimer: If you're sick of lawschool and don't want to read
any books that are law-related, this is not a book for you.

14 June 2005

The latest news on NPR

Here are some more interesting stories that I heard on NPR the
other day...
In one town, an island town is weighing secession from the
(larger) mainland town because they do not want to lose their
school to the mainland.
In another town, taxes have become so expensive that they are
being forced to deincorporate. It would be interesting to do
some sociological study to see why this is occurring.

22 May 2005

Musical Plagiarism

Again, an interesting discussion on NPR (this time on All Things Considered). This time, it is a discussion of Yershulayim Shel Zahav (or in English, Jerusalem of Gold)
This song was used in Schindler's List, at the very end of the movie, as the credits are being played. If you still dont' remember it, the audio that you can link to if you listen to the story includes a short clip of it. Anyhow, I think it does sound somewhat similar. At the same time, Hatikvah (or The Hope) (Israel's national anthem), has the same theme as the Moldau by Smetana. But the United States' Star Spangled Banner is based on a drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven. The Smithsonian talks about this, with a link to a recording of it. Check out the recording of the Star Spangled Banner as well. Although I thought that people improvise too much based on the Star Spangled Banner now, they still did so in 1853. (and I think the 1853 version sounds quite fine, actually)

18 May 2005

Mount St. Helens Erupted 25 years ago today

Mount St. Helens erupted 25 years ago today. There was an article on
NPR Morning Edition today, they talked about tourists visiting the
Johnston Ridge observatory. I've been there, and if anyone was ever in
the area, I'd definitely suggest going to it. Although Johnston Ridge
is a few miles away, it looks much closer than it is, and even today,
you can still see the impact of the eruption.

09 May 2005

Canadian Parliament Could Fall

In Canada, it looks like Parliament might fall, and there might be a new election.  What I find interesting is that the Liberals seem to be trying to to say that various measures which, to me, look like lack of confidence measures are not really lack of confidence measures.  I think it's a little bit weird that they are doing this, but since I do not consider myself an expert on Canadian politics, perhaps I'm wrong, and maybe they are fully within their rights to be doing this.  In any case, here is the link.

Kermit The Frog Here

I love listening to NPR in the morning, you hear all sorts of random stories, like this one:
Kermit the Frog turns 50 today.


I suppose I should get back to Evidence, but this studying distraction was brought you by the letters K, and F, and by the numbers five and zero.

07 May 2005

Cool bluegrass music

I happenned upon a bluegrass concert last Monday afternoon at Dickinson College. The group was Special Consensus, and they have a website, in case anyone is interested, here. I was quite impressed with them, and bought a CD of theirs and I'm probably going to buy some more of their music over the summer. I think that while there are a few good country music songs these days, much of the music is uncomplicated and is not particularly complex to sing. It is thus uninteresting, and I think that country music has been moving closer and closer to being just like pop music. If you're interested in hearing good (at least in my opinion) country music and you're not quite ready to make the jump to straight bluegrass, the "O' Brother Where Art Thou" CD is a really good idea.

One Month Old Ipod

So, I've now had an Ipod (Click Wheel) for a month. For the most part, I like it, it's nice to be able to carry my whole collection of songs around with me, rather than having to switch CDs all the time. There are, though, one or two things that I do not like. If you do not use the Ipod for awhile, usually about a day and a half, it goes into what Apple calls "Deep Sleep" mode. According to Apple, this saves battery power. That's great, except when I turn it back on, it has forgotten all of my settings except for the clock. It still has my music on it (and the music is accessible). Losing my music would be a much bigger deal.
While I was looking around for information on this, I came across this website:
which has information on the Ipod's battery. I think its worth a read if you have an IPod.
The other thing that I don't like is how it forgets how to play songs that I have downloaded from Itunes, requiring it to be reset, losing all my settings (yet again). So far, it has done this twice. But overall, I think it is a really nice device, and it's great to be able to have my music whenever I want to.

29 April 2005

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Had to edit this post to make the links actually work....

An interesting story that has been bouncing around the news recently. They found an Ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, in the swamps of Arkansas last year, and kept it secret until now.
I'm just posting one link here:
but there are other things about this on NPR's website.
Check out:
which talks about many different birds, and has pictures/recordings of sounds, and is generally pretty neat.
On another, less happy note, I also heard a piece about smoking and how its deleterious effects on your health take years to go away.

24 April 2005

Back and forth to Long Island

Driving home takes such a long time. I have, though, discovered construction zones which cause traffic jams, and side roads that I can take to avoid them. I'm always hesitant as to whether to take these roads, because there's always a chance that there will not be a traffic jam. However, ever since I got caught in an hour long traffic jam on I-78 approaching I-81, I have often taken these alternate roads. It involves taking US 22 between I-81 and I-78, and then taking exit 40 on I-78 down to a small state road that parallels I-78, and I then take that east all the way into Allentown.
The other thing that Pennsylvania does is ask that you use both lanes to the merge point. In other states, they tell you well in advance which lane is closed so that you have time to move over. They do not do this in Pennsylvania. In fact, often, to make sure that you use both lanes to the merge point, they keep which lane is closed a surprise until you actually get to the merge point. On the one hand I think this is good, since it maximizes use of the road to the merge point. However, I still wonder if it does anything, because if you have cars merging in gradually as you approach the lane closure, as opposed to one exact point, wouldn't it work better, since the effect of the lane closure would not be as concentrated?
Of course, if they did not have one of those signs instructing people to use both lanes, and someone tried to merge in at the merge point, I probably would not let them in, because they would be cutting the line. I imagine if this idea of using both lanes was so good, other states would use it, and I have not seen this outside of Pennsylvania, so maybe it is not such a good idea.

12 April 2005

The Semester Winds Down

The Semester is winding down here, and oddly I am not that concerned about finals. I am looking forward to Passover this year, it's the one time of the year where I get to see my extended family.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) there is this karaoke thing at Market Cross, which I'm thinking of going to. You may have a rare opportunity (although I use opportunity loosely) to see me sing! I make no promises however.
So, Carlisle, in yet another one of its brilliant moves, decided to drain the fire hydrant near my apartment. This stirred up sediment in the pipes, turning my water a nice appetizing brown color. Gotta love the Borough of Carlisle. That and its snow removal policy, which I call "Wait For The Snow To Melt". This as opposed to a normal town where they actually -- get this Carlisle -- plow the snow!