17 December 2007

Taking Lessons From Shawshank Redemption

Don't read this if you have not watched Shawshank Redemption (which, incidentally, is a very good movie)

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, two (former) inmates apparently took (at least somewhat) careful notes on Shawshank Redemption. The long and short: two inmates chiseled their way out of a prison in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and, although they didn't crawl through a sewer pipe, they did take careful notes on the movie, in that they covered their chiseled hole with models from a magazine. I wonder if they'll meet in Zihuatanejo.

04 November 2007

A Late Halloween Posting

I had meant to post this around Halloween, but never got around to it. Anyhow, this is a link to a posting about witch trials in Connecticut. It's unfortunate, but witch trials didn't just happen in Salem. There's actually a lot of documentation linked in that blog entry about it.

28 October 2007

Ikea Breaches the Implied Warranty of Merchantability

I bought some pots from Ikea awhile back. Like most things Ikea, they were assemble them yourself, so I finally got around to assembling them this week. Within a week, the handle fell off the pot. The weld that holds the bracket broke as I was washing it in my sink. So, it looks like I will be returning the pot to Ikea.
I don't think I will get into the intricacies of the Implied Warranty of Merchantability with the clerk, though.

27 October 2007

Regional Variations In Store Stock

Yesterday at Giant, I tried to find Maypo. Usually this is by the oatmeal, but I found, much to my surprise, that they didn't have it. Today I tried Safeway, which also didn't have it.
Safeway, on the other hand, stocks Tilamook Cheese, which is from Oregon.
It's a bit frustrating, since brands that I've taken for granted in New York are difficult to find here. At least they still sell Campbell's Soup.

21 October 2007

Highway Sunrises, Back to Carlisle

I went to the alumni weekend this weekend at Penn State Dickinson. To do this, and get to an 8:00 lecture, I had to get up at 5:20 a.m. and drive up there. It was dark when I started out. As I drove into Pennsylvania, dawn broke over the fields, mist was rising, and it was pretty neat. I'm not usually up and driving before dawn, but when I am, I always think it is neat to see the sun come up.
All of the events were at the Advantica building, which I think they've done a somewhat good job with. The only problem is that students don't hang out at the school after class, they all flee back to Carlisle, so there isn't as much community at the law school.
I saw a few people from my class, and overall, it was a good experience.

26 September 2007

A Little Cajun Music at the Kennedy Center

Last night I saw The Lost Bayou Ramblers at the Kennedy Center. It was part of Millenium Stage, which puts performances on 365 days a year free of charge. There is quite a variety of music, as you can see if you check out the calendar.
The Lost Bayou Ramblers not only sang in French, but also spoke to the audience in French too. I think it's neat that over 200 years after we bought Louisiana from the French, there is still so much French culture in Louisiana that there are still people that speak French and preserve this excellent music.
You can catch a recording of the concert here, and there are free downloads of music at The Lost Bayou Ramblers website.

17 September 2007

People Who Think Rules Are For Other People

People like these people annoy me. Short story:
People from my synagogue parked in front of a fire house in a no parking zone so they could do this ceremony where they throw bread crumbs (symbolizing sins) into the water. This was on a Jewish holiday -- Rosh Hashana -- the Jewish New Year.
It is a no parking zone so the fire trucks can get out. The fire department asked them to move. The congregants didn't, because they thought an exception should be made because it was a Jewish holiday.
They (rightly) got ticketed. I wish their cars were towed, the extra fees might have made an impression on them. It's not as if Cold Spring Harbor was enforcing some strange ordinance. It's just common sense. You don't park in front of a fire department, because, if there's an emergency, the fire trucks need to get out. Did the congregants think that there wouldn't be a fire because it was a Jewish holiday?

26 August 2007

They are Penn State...Too

There was an article in the Times about Penn State's football team and how, to fundraise, they have to clean the seats at Beaver Stadium after football games.
I think this is wrong. The football team (except this year, when they are being punished for alleged misdeeds) does not have to clean Beaver Stadium after the game. I realize that the fencing team does not generate the same type of revenue for Penn State that the football team does. But, it strikes me that Penn State could invest some of the vast fortune that football generates and put it into the fencing team (and other "minor" sports). The fencing team, after all, had a better record than Nittany Lions Football last year. Of course, then Penn State will have to hire someone to clean the football stadium, rather than using free slave labor from the fencing team.
A disclosure: In high school, I was on a fencing team, not a football team.

14 August 2007

Red Cross Sued for Trademark Infringement

According to this BBC article, Johnson & Johnson is suing the Red Cross for trademark infringement. Apparently Johnson & Johnson owns the red cross that Red Cross uses as its symbol. Johnson & Johnson believes that the Red Cross is violating the agreement that it entered into by licensing the red cross to other companies, who are selling Red Cross-endorsed first aid kits.
A copyright/trademark attorney friend of mine tells me that Johnson & Johnson is going to lose, because the trademark does not make people think of Johnson & Johnson and really doesn't have a particular meaning.
I had no idea that Johnson & Johnson owned the trademark for the Red Cross. Prior to reading this article, If you had stopped me on the street and asked me who owned the trademark to the red cross, I would have answered the Red Cross.
To me, if I see a red cross, I either think of first aid or I think of the Red Cross. I certainly don't think of Johnson & Johnson. I think of Johnson & Johnson when I see the script Johnson & Johnson.
Perhaps that's why the Boy Scouts don't use the red cross for the first aid merit badge.

30 July 2007

The meaning of the word "Yield"

I've been driving back and forth between Chambersburg and metro Washington, DC recently and have noticed that there is a particular intersection that people seem to have problems understanding the meaning of a yield sign. The intersection is I-81 and I-70, going east on I-70 towards Frederick/Baltimore. For Dicksonians, this is the intersection that you'd go through if you were going to the Hagerstown outlets.
Anyhow, I-70 is essentially three lanes at this point, with one lane being a segregated lane that is meant to just be used by traffic getting on from or off onto I-81. I go around the cloverleaf from I-81 south onto I-70 going east and am in this third segregated lane. This lane will end shortly after the intersection (it merges with I-70 east) so I have to be at highway speed or close to it. Shortly before the third segregated lane merges with I-70, traffic from I-81 north merges in, at a yield sign. There is no merge area. The yield sign tips people off to the fact that there is no merge area. Despite this, people come into this intersection and expect me to yield to them.
A yield sign means that you may proceed if the way is clear. It does not mean that you can proceed if in so doing you'll require another car to apply its brakes hard (or, technically, apply its brakes at all) or take evasive action. Yet, at this intersection, people seem to take it that way. If you have to stop at this yield sign, because there is no merge area, then you have to stop.
Of course, I'm not going to prove my right of way to them, sure, I may have the right of way, but I'll also have a car in an accident, with all the hassle that comes with. So I've just learned to watch other cars at this intersection.
Of course, why Maryland thinks it is a good idea to have no merge area where two interstates merge together is another question, but that's for another blog entry.

19 July 2007

Apple Quality Control

Compared to Microsoft, Apple has serious quality control problems with their software/system updates. For many of the updates that they release, there are significant problems with them. One firmware upgrade caused my computer to become unbootable, requiring me to hold down a combination of keys on my keyboard to make their computer useful again, if Apple Support knew that trick (which they didn't, they made me send my computer in for service). One of the updates caused my computer's speakers to make popping noises (it wasn't just my computer's speakers, other people had the problem too). Apple resolved this problem with another update. Another update caused people's optical drives to stop working. Apple removed that update. Yet another update causes applications that were not specifically built for Intel-based processors (Rosetta applications) to stop working. I could sympathize with Apple (somewhat) if these were caused by obscure applications. But they're not. Many problems occurred directly with Apple's hardware. (The first three problems I've listed). While Apple may have come out with with Intel-native applications, there are certain applications -- for example, this obscure application called Microsoft Word -- that run on Rosetta. I'd like to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, but it is now at the point where if I see an update, I wait a week for Apple to iron out the bugs before I install it. For Microsoft updates, on the other hand, I install them instantly on my PC and, knock wood, have not had a problem with them.
Microsoft does not control the hardware that its updates are installed on, and yet still manages to have very few serious problems with their updates. Apple should improve.

11 July 2007

Summer Reading Suggestions

I surfed into this website recently. It's published by the University of Texas at Austin, and has a list of summer reading suggestions. Kind of nice of them to go to the effort to get all these suggestions together. At the bottom of the page are links to previous years' lists.

10 July 2007

Avril Lavigne Plagiarizing?

People are saying that Avril Lavigne plagiarized her latest song "Girlfriend" from an obscure band from the 1970s. There's an article discussing this on CBC. (Be forewarned, the video that this article links to, at least the quicktime version, is rather loud) Her manager claims there is "no basis" at all, but I disagree. The chorus seems pretty similar, in my opinion. I wonder if whoever wrote the song gambled that because the band with the song was so obscure, they could get away with it.

09 July 2007

Small Towns, Long Term Residents

I saw an article in my town's local newspaper about how this year's summer concert series on my high school's lawn will be dedicated to the memory of Donald Luckenbill. He was a music teacher in the school district from 1944 to 1980. Although I never had Donald Luckenbill as a teacher, I sang a song by him in elementary school (essentially an ode to Sagamore Hill, home of Teddy Roosevelt) and later played that song when I was a member of the Oyster Bay Community Band. I also played Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs that he arranged when I was in the boy scouts and performed at a kresh/memorial lighting.
I guess I'm writing about this because I really enjoyed growing up in my town. It's small enough so that my middle school band teacher had my third grade teacher when he was in kindergarten. This teacher could also point to a portrait of a basketball team hanging on the high school wall and point out his father on the wall.
I was at a meeting with the elementary school's principal while I was in high school to discuss a fundraiser that the club I was involved in was doing. He said, so, [D], your parents are long term residents, right? And without really thinking, I said yes. Looking back, I also don't know what this had to do with fundraising.
Afterwards, though, I realized that it all depended on how one defined the word "long" in long-term resident. Sure, my parents lived in East Norwich since right before I was born, but we're certainly not one of the "generational" families that have lived in Oyster Bay/East Norwich since the Revolution, or even since before suburbanization. In some ways, Oyster Bay is different from other towns on Long Island. Unlike other towns, it has a history of its own, and wasn't just potato farms until the suburbanization boom of the 1950s.

02 July 2007

Free Music from Smithsonian Folkways

There is free music from Smithsonian Folkways (downloadable as an MP3, no signup or registration required) at this link:
Right-click on the MP3 link to download them.
Check out Rabbit in a Log by The Stanley Brothers. It has some wicked good banjo picking.
One of The Stanley Brothers is Ralph Stanley, who did the "O Death" song in O' Brother Where Art Thou (this is the scene during the KKK rally)

A Spider, a Swan, and Another Spider

I was at the public library the other day and was flipping through a biography of E.B. White (author of Charlotte's Web) There was an interesting discussion of how, originally, Fern (the girl in the story), was not going to be featured so prominently, so he originally planned to start the book with what is now the opening scene of Chapter 3, at the barn. It also had pictures of drafts of the book that he had typed up and scribbled on, which I thought was kind of neat, to see the original wording and see how he had changed it.
The biography was critical of The Trumpet of the Swan. I enjoyed The Trumpet of the Swan when I was growing up, partially because I played the trumpet when I was younger, but also because E.B. White is just a talented writer. Louis' father is funny in that book.
And now, for "Another Spider," as promised in the blog post title.
When I was looking at my car in the hotel parking lot in Washington this weekend, I noticed a spider web on it, in between the spare tire and the side hinge of the door. I drove back to Chambersburg and discovered that the spider was still there (after hurtling at over 65 mph on the highway). Impressive. It spun a web between last night and today. I wonder what it thought when the blue "rock" that it had spun a web on started to move, and then was hurtling down a highway with other "rocks" at amazing speeds. (Probably nothing, since spiders don't think, but it's still impressive that it stayed on my car)

01 July 2007

The Beatles in Court

A defendant wrote: "Like the Beetles say, 'Let It Be.'" when asked how he should be sentenced. The judge in his case, in Yellowstone County, Montana, wrote a two page opinion in which he incorporated many Beatles songs. He also took the opportunity to correct the defendant's spelling of The Beatles.

13 June 2007

A Little Civ Pro Does a Body Good

There was an interesting Supreme Court decision published Monday where Philip Morris tried (and failed) to argue that because it used the government's method of testing cigarettes, it fell under a statute that allowed removal to federal court when someone acted "under" a federal officer. The opinion talks a lot about federal officers being accused of murder during prohibition and using the statute to get their murder cases removed to federal court. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this use of the statute, although I suppose the climate was different then and states had less respect for the federal government than they do now. A federal court (and its jury) might have more sympathy for a federal agent than a state agent would.
The opinion is pretty short and worth reading in my opinion. Who knows, maybe it will be used to torture first generations of law students for generations to come.

Oh, Dickinson

It looks like Dickinson messed up with their temporary facilities, since they are waiving the fee for transfer applications. To me, that means it is a fair bet that they suffered a high attrition rate from the 1L class. Not that I blame them, I'm not sure how much I would have liked going to school amongst the truck stops.

Dell Windows Install Disks

I read on this blog that Dell -- one time only -- will give you a copy of the installation disks that came with your computer in case you lost them. I'm not sure if they charge you for the install disks (I don't see a discussion of payment on the initial page for it, and I'm not going to type in my information since I have the install disks already and I'd rather wait until I've lost them before ordering them)
Yet another reason I like Dell.

12 June 2007

40 Years Since Anti-Miscegenation Laws Were Banned

Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that the US (in particular the South) was so different forty or fifty years ago, with segregated schools, anti-miscegenation laws, etc.  Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (which banned anti-interracial marriage laws).  

When I was in law school, I always liked Loving because it was an easy case to remember (Loving = Marriage)
Anyhow, the NPR story talked about how far we've come and how far we have to go.  They talked about an interracial couple and the challenges they face.  The white wife was probably still racist (or at least used stereotypes about African-Americans)
I've realized how far we have to go as well.  My neighbor used the n-word the other day, and that has made me even more eager to get out of Chambersburg. (I'm assuming my neighbor doesn't read this blog)

11 June 2007

Surfing in Cupertino

I wanted to come up with a somewhat creative title for this blog entry about Apple Safari entering the Windows market.  

This blogger has much more authority than I do about Safari's market prospects, but my initial thought is that unless it offers something unique, it's going to have a hard time gaining widespread popularity among people other than techie-computer users.  The only thing Safari does is surf the web, and unless it has a "killer" feature, I'm not sure what its market prospects are.  Firefox came on the market and gained widespread popularity partially because Microsoft had so many security problems. Firefox has a reputation for being a "safe browser," and I don't think that Safari has that reputation (I don't mean to say Safari is unsafe, I just mean it doesn't have a reputation of being safe).  Unless something disastrous happens with Firefox, people who want a "safe" browser are probably going to install Firefox, not Safari.
I've installed Safari on my Mac, and am typing this blog entry using it.  I wish that Safari gave me the opportunity (Firefox does) to simultaneously have the beta and non-beta versions installed.  
I also wish that it had an option to add a new tab button to the toolbar.
I would install it on my PC, but my PC runs Windows 2000, which Apple apparently has chosen not to support.  It looks like Windows 2000 is beginning to fall by the wayside for Apple.  I don't entirely fault Apple for this.
Microsoft didn't develop IE 7 for Windows 2000 (although they'll continue to provide security updates until 2010).

10 June 2007

Congestion Pricing in NY

In case you had not heard, Mayor Bloomberg is trying to institute congestion pricing similar to what they have in London (you'd get charged eight dollars for entering Manhattan, with a discount if you used a toll bridge to enter). I think this has potential to work well and will encourage people to take mass transit. I just hope that they are not overwhelmed with people who decide to take the subway instead of paying eight dollars. I'm surprised to see how quickly it is moving thus far, I expected it to stall out in the state legislature, but it looks like it may not.

06 June 2007

Controversial Carousels

There is a controversy in my town about a proposed carousel in Oyster Bay (my town). There is a waterfront park which was donated by the Theodore Roosevelt Association to the town of Oyster Bay in 1942. As part of the deed, it was ordered that there be no carousels or other mechanical rides. The Association (which still exists) has agreed to waive that provision of the deed, but there are a number of people who are still opposed to it. I wonder if (cue scary music) there is a Rule Against Perpetuities concern here, although maybe the way New York implements the RAP will prevent a problem with that.
The park is a relatively small park, and a number of people think that the carousel would add a lot of noise to the park. I tend to agree with them, I also wonder how they are possibly going to get enough visitors to the park to cover the cost of running the carousel.
The Main Street Association also thinks it will draw visitors to the downtown. I disagree. Unfortunately for Oyster Bay, it's on the northern shore of Long Island, and that means it is far away from major east-west arteries like the Long Island Expressway. Even a less major east-west artery (Northern Boulevard/25A) is probably four or five miles from downtown. There are no major roads that go through downtown Oyster Bay, so the downtown has suffered. Two car dealerships have closed, and the downtown is not doing so well. The problem is that the park is not that close to the business district, it's two or three blocks, so I don't think people are going to go to the park and then go shopping.
We'll see what happens, it's before the town board right now.
Here is an article from Newsday.

31 May 2007

Tilapia Recipe -- So easy, Douglas can do it

Lately I've been experimenting with cooking tilapia. To do it, I put an inch or so layer of water in a frying pan, bring it to a boil, and then put a filet of tilapia in the water. I then return the water to a simmer (not a boil), cover it, and poach it for five minutes. Then, I flip the tilapia piece over and poach it (covered) for another five minutes. It's then pretty much done, and I usually eat it with rice and some vegetable. It makes my meals more interesting. My grandmother has suggested adding lemon to the water, and I also use pepper on the fish.

30 May 2007

Bottle Deposits

There was a posting on bottle deposits on a mailing list that I subscribe to. I think that bottle deposits are a good thing, I think that to encourage recycling it might be necessary to increase the deposit on the bottles from a nickel. It has been a nickel since I was a child, and I think longer than that. (By bottle deposit, I also mean the deposit on soda cans as well)
The problem, though, is, at least under New York State's law, if you show up at any store with a bottle of a drink that they sell, they have to give you a deposit back. You don't have to return it to the store where you bought it. This is a problem for mom and pop stores.
There was a New York grocery store that I used to go to that was on the Pennsylvania (no deposit) and New York border. Someone took bottles/cans that he got in Pennsylvania and brought them to New York, where he attempted to redeem them. The New York grocery store got tired of this and eventually stopped him, probably by noting that some of the cans he was redeeming were not stamped with a five cent refund, even though the barcode was the same as refundable cans. If they doubled it to ten cents (or even made the amount more meaningful, like a quarter) it might have a significant impact on a store's income. On the other hand, recycling has become bigger now, so maybe it is not necessary to have the deposit law at all.

28 May 2007

Giving Apple Credit Where Credit is Due

Thomas' iPod displayed the "sad iPod" icon, and so (after I tried and failed to fix it) we took it to our local Apple Store on Long Island. Within about fifteen minutes, the Genius fixed his iPod, and it didn't cost us a penny. Apparently, the hard disk had frozen, and he forced it loose by applying extra current to force it to rotate faster. Although this does not redeem Apple from their previous fiasco (or, after Dorothy's experience, make me any more likely to purchase a Macintosh computer again), it's still nice that they were able to fix it. That's more than I would be able to say for Dell, which doesn't have Genius Bars.

20 May 2007

A Jury of Your Peers in Newfoundland

I listen to a podcast entitled Newfoundland and Labrador This Week from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. There was a segment about how a judge declared a mistrial because the entire jury pool for St. John's, Newfoundland had not been updated for eight years. (For those not up on their Newfoundland geography, St. John's is the capital of Newfoundland and is also it's largest city.) Apparently the person responsible for updating the jury pool just didn't, and so no one born after 1980 was listed in the jury pool. The judge hearing the case held that this violated the Candian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and rescheduled the case for October. All criminal trials in St. John's will have to be put on hold while they fix this problem. Plus, even the Justice Minister has conceded that people within the appeal period might have viable appeals about this. I don't know what Canada's jurisprudence is about juries, but it seems to me that they might have some argument to make. I had tried to find the judge's opinion online at this site (useful if you need to do Canadian law research), but no dice.
The best I could find was this article from the CBC.

17 May 2007

Another Funny Email from Flickr

Flickr sent me another unusual email the other day, although it wasn't nearly as good as the last one.
This one said:
"New photos from friends

[Rene's screenname] has uploaded 1 photo in the last 24.139444444444 hours.

Funny that someone at Flickr took the time to program this email to make the number of hours a variable and also calculate it out.

15 May 2007

Cheating or Not Cheating?

Thomas brought this to my attention, but I wanted to throw it out there. At Columbia, there is a course that all students are required to take -- Literature Humanities -- which is taught by different professors (there are 57 sections). It is a survey course and there is a course-wide exam given at the end (basically to the entire first year class). The exam asks students -- among other questions -- to identify quotations from the various works studied. One professor came up with a study guide which listed the quotations that were to be used on the exam. Students in this section redistributed the study guide to other sections of the class, which messed up the exam (to put it mildly) because students knew which quotations were to be used. The lead professor of the course found out about this "study guide," (initially she thought someone had stolen the exam) and has now decided to discard the exam results and allow students to either take the exam again in the fall or use their other grades to determine their grade. I think it's clear that the professor should be fired.
Was it cheating for the students to use this study guide? I don't think so, the provenance of the guide was legitimate, it wasn't as if some student was distributing it improperly. On the other hand, the students reading the study guide might have realized that the professor should not have been giving out this much information. Columbia does not require students to report academic misconduct. Comments?

08 May 2007

A "Family Tree" of Firefox

There is a pretty good diagram of Firefox on a website which is done by Mozilla Japan (Mozilla is the company that makes Firefox) It's a PDF, but if you are not familiar with Firefox and how it is related to NCSA Mosaic (and Internet Explorer) it's worth looking at.

06 May 2007

My Law School Could Have Decided to Move to Florida

Through RichardZ (which I found through Jerry and Tammy), I learned about how Ave Maria School of Law has decided to move to Florida from Ann Arbor, Michigan. After seeing what happened with DSL, it was interesting. Here is a link to a blog entry which sets forth the faculty view. In the interest of balance, I'm also including a link to Ave Maria School of Law's own page on the topic. I'm not taking a position on this, though.

03 May 2007

Running Again

I've been at a loss for things to blog about recently. However, I've taken up running again. I ran a lot last summer while I was studying for the bar exam, but kind of dropped it after that. I've started doing it again, and as I'm sitting in my office during the day, I kind of look forward to it. I've got a new route worked out, which goes around town, a lot of it is along quiet streets, so I don't have cars whizzing by me all the time. I'm debating joining a gym, but running is a good workout in and of itself.

25 April 2007

Old Supermarkets

The other day I got a flyer from Weis Market in the mail saying they were celebrating their ninety-fifth anniversary. That means they're a really old supermarket, comparatively. According to this Wikipeida article, supermarkets started in 1915 with Piggly Wiggly. That makes Weis (if they started in 1912) older than Piggly Wiggly. The grocery stores in my town on Long Island have gone through several iterations. First, there was a Food Town in the downtown portion of the town. It then moved to the outskirts of town and has changed its name from Food Town to Finast to Edwards to its current name, Stop and Shop (which is part of the same gigantic corporation that owns Giant. Waldbaums and King Kullen continue to exist on Long Island, although I wonder how they are doing when they have to compete against big chains like Stop and Shop. Waldbaums in Hicksville seems to do a decent business, though. I wonder about the King Kullens though.

18 April 2007

A Different (from usual) Single of the Week on iTunes

There is a different single on iTunes, it's called Philosophia by The Guggenheim Grotto. They remind me a little bit of Simon and Garfunkel in terms of the style of their music. It definitely sounds like something that could be older music. I don't guarantee you'll like it (it's not going to be one of my top songs), but it also isn't going to be removed from my playlist (which is what happens to a lot of other songs that I download free on iTunes) If you have iTunes, download it here. The price is right.

17 April 2007

Astroturf in New York City Parks

On Gothamist, there was a blog entry explaining how New York City wants to put astro-turf in its parks for use as athletic fields. I don't think this is a good idea. I think that plastic grass (at least the type that I am picturing) is not really that comfortable to use, at least compared to regular grass. I think it would be easier to skin one's knee if one fell on artificial turf. This is also New York City we're talking about. What happens if someone spills something on the artificial turf. With dirt, it would soak right in (or the grass would grow out). But that won't happen with artificial turf. The gum, or whatever it is, will stay stuck in it. I wouldn't want to play on a field that looked like the bottom of a subway track.
Or, someone could spray-paint "D wuz here" on the turf. If one did that on grass, they would be pretty stupid, because it would grow right out. But on turf? It would be permanent.
I realize that grass has its own problems. If it rains, I realize that one football game can ruin the grass, but I still think that natural grass may be better.

12 April 2007

Thomas has a Blog Too

Thomas (or Tom) co-authors a blog too -- he blogs about sports for Gothamist. The link is:
There is a link to the feed too:
He says that he does about half the posts. It looks like they are mostly about New York teams, so those of you reading the blog from out-of-town might not find it so interesting.
Oh, and I took the picture for his bio on the blog.

Animal Welfare Act in the UK

Last Friday, the Animal Welfare Act came into effect in the United Kingdom. Quoting from the Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs' web page...
The five essential requirements that the owner of a pet will need to provide are:

  • a suitable environment (where it lives)
  • a suitable diet (what it eats and drinks).
  • to be able to behave normally.
  • to be housed with or apart from other animals, (whatever is best for that particular animal).
  • to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
There must have been an anti-animal cruelty statute before in the UK, I'm sure, but this is interesting because it imposes duties on a person. Would it require someone to take their cat to a veterinarian if it got sick? (I'm not saying that a person shouldn't do this, of course, but it imposes a duty like a parent would have for a child.)
Speaking of children, you will now have to be sixteen to buy a pet in the UK (or receive it as a prize).
The full text of the Act is here. I love how it starts with language that probably has not been changed since, oh, say, 1600 or earlier:
"BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:— "
My question, though, is who are these Lords Spiritual? Are they Lords from Parliaments past?
(Yes, I suppose it could be King's most Excellent Majesty as the case might be, but otherwise I imagine it has not changed much otherwise)

10 April 2007

Smoking Ban in State College

I think that the smoking ban described here is a good idea. There has been a ban on smoking in bars in New York City for four years now, and I think it's really good. If every bar is forced to ban it, then I don't think that customers are going to go elsewhere, since they will have no choice. Second-hand smoke has been proven hazardous to one's health, and it would help the staff at restaurants if the ban was implemented. I know there are arguments for the other side, but smoking is already banned in a lot of other places, so maybe this is just the next logical step.
Besides everything else, it is refreshing to go out to a bar and come back without having my clothes smell like cigarette smoke. I don't mind my clothes smelling so much as I mind my jacket smelling, since that I have to wear again.
I realise I'm a non-smoker, so do other people have comments?

Recipes from Target

I got a Target ad in the mail that also had a recipe for a Shrimp Noodle Bowl. After reading the recipe and discovering that the most extensive cooking it involved was simmering and boiling, I decided to try it. I halved the recipe, since I like to use my medium saucepan for other things, and it came out pretty well. I tried the same recipe again tonight and modified it with a bit of onion. That worked well and made the soup a little bit less bland. Half the package of spaghetti is a lot of pasta, though, so you might want to use less if you would like your noodle bowl more soup-like. (I did)
With part of the rest of the onion I made some pickled cucumber. Maybe one day when I am feeling more ambitious, I'll try Caley's recipe.

03 April 2007

Unrestricted iTunes Songs

I think it's great that Apple and EMI have agreed to allow people to download unrestricted music. I hope other record companies follow suit. One of the reasons I chose iTunes to download music (even before I had an iPod) was because, at the time, it was the only store (I think) to allow you to burn a song to a regular audio CD without any restrictions.
I've blogged before about how I feel about record companies. I still feel similarly. I think they are really greedy, but I suppose 30 cents may be a fair premium. Steve Jobs has claimed in the past, though, that the 99 cent price point was essential for consumers to buy music. Hopefully they won't raise prices for copy-protected songs.
There's an article that says that the idea of prices was EMI's, not Apple's.
What I would really like to see next is the record companies allowing people from other countries to download music. I like Canadian, British and Australian music, and it can sometimes be really difficult to download this music, because although Apple has licensed the music for the the other country's market, people outside of that market cannot download it. I can order a CD from Canada, Britain or Australia, but this sometimes takes a long time and also is pretty expensive (especially in Britain, where CDs cost 10 pounds which doesn't seem too bad until you realise how much 10 pounds is in dollars ($19.72, according to Google))

02 April 2007

Microsoft and the Animated Cursor Vulnerability (A PSA)

There is a vulnerability where, if you get an email message (and use Outlook or one of its progeny), or visit a malicious website, you can catch a virus. It's sufficiently serious that Microsoft is planning to go outside their normal security update cycle to release it tomorrow, 3 April. (In order to be stable for businesses, they usually try to release security updates on the second Tuesday of every month). In the past, they have usually pushed the update by 10:00 a.m. prevailing time in the Pacific time zone. I'd imagine that by tomorrow evening, it should be posted and you should be able to download it from their website or using Windows Update.
This is one reason I use Firefox. That and it's an awesome browser.
I'll have a more exciting post tomorrow, probably. It's about EMI and Apple's deal, but I'd like to work on it a bit more.

01 April 2007

What law school has done to me

I was reading Boston 1775 and saw a neat post on "dentrifice" which from the description sounds like toothpaste. In the description, he said the following:
"This Essence and Dentifrice is prepared by himself, and warranted perfectly free from the least corrosive Particle or Injurious Property whatever."
And I realised it was an express warranty. Sigh.

29 March 2007

Need directions on Google Maps to London?

Tell Google maps that you want to go to London in the UK, and you will get this direction:

I saw this on another website, but thought it was funny
Obviously, someone at Google has a sense of humor (or is it humour?)

28 March 2007

Moving Between Cars on the Subway

There was an article in the Times about how the new rule that prohibits moving between cars on the subway has resulted in the police catching people involved in crimes on the subway. Apparently there have been 1,995 summonses issued this year for walking between the cars. Personally, I liked the old rule. If I didn't like someone in my subway car, I could move to another subway car to avoid them. Now, you can't; at least not without risking a summons. I understand that they are doing it to stop crime (and also because it is dangerous), but I don't like it. I've walked through subway cars since I was very little -- my father and brother and I used to go into the city on Columbus Day and we would occasionally walk between the subway cars or between cars on the Long Island Railroad. I also liked walking between cars because I could walk up (or back) on the train so that I was in the right position for the staircase. Now, I'll have to pre-walk.
New York, incidentally, is the only place that allowed walking between cars. It's certainly not allowed in DC and I don't know of any other city that allowed it.
This new rule was part of a slew of other rules that they implemented, including one prohibiting you from jumping the turnstile even if you had a valid Metrocard (by which they mean unlimited ride)
This is a technical explanation explaining why people jumped the turnstile, but if you are going to ride the subway in New York City, it is worth reading:
When you have an unlimited ride Metrocard, once you successfully swipe it at the turnstile, it locks you out of the subway system for eight minutes. This is to prevent people from buying one unlimited ride Metrocard for four of their friends and using one Metrocard for all four people.
Under some circumstances, the card can be locked out, but the turnstile not released. Usually this results from people not obeying the "Swipe again at this turnstile message" That message really means just that. If the person doesn't swipe again at that turnstile, then the card will be locked out for eight minutes. The person, who being a New Yorker, is in a rush, decides to jump the turnstile. If the person was summonsed, he or she would just say that they had a valid Metrocard. The MTA got tired of this excuse.
(This problem also occurs if you have a regular farecard, only if you don't swipe again at that turnstile, you can lose the fare that you paid)

22 March 2007

Easily add searches to your browser

I run searches a lot, and often they are not just on Google. However, Google has come up with a really easy way to configure their toolbar to run searches on practically any website. You just right click on the search box and select Generate Custom Search. You can then, by clicking on the "Manage" option from the search pulldown menu, choose to have this search appear either as a button on your toolbar, or if you don't want that, as an available search from a pull-down menu, as you can see from the screenshot on the right. There is no coding required. The only tricky thing is that it uses the web page's icon, so if you have a web page that doesn't have a custom icon, you are limited to which ones you can show as buttons on your toolbar since you won't be able to tell them apart. Penn State has this problem, the icon shown next to PennStateFullName is what would show up if I put that on my toolbar as a button.

Historical Myths

Most people know that one of the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights is the prohibition against quartering soldiers in people's homes. That, supposedly, is one of the reasons that the colonists fought against the British in the American Revolution. However, according to this blog, the statute permitting quartering of soldiers never permitted quartering soldiers in people's homes. It permitted quartering in outbuildings, but even then, other resources had to be exhausted. Maybe whoever was responsible for quartering the soldiers chose to ignore the statute and quartered soldiers in people's homes anyway.
I must take issue, however, with the blog's belief that breaking and entering is redundant. It's not. Burglary requires two elements:

  • The defendant must break a lock, window, etc., or technically open a door, I think.
  • The defendant must then go inside the building.
If the defendant breaks the lock but doesn't go any further, then it's probably vandalism, but I don't think it would be burglary.

As a side note, in California, it's burglary if you enter an outhouse (among other places).

This post does not constitute legal advice.

20 March 2007

Found Boy Scout

There was a boy scout lost in the woods in North Carolina over the weekend, and they found him today. I'm glad they found him. I had been following the story somewhat, as I was once a boy scout (and a cub scout). I've read the book that he liked: Hatchet. It's a good book, I liked it when I was younger.
Boy Scouts was a really good experience growing up. We used to go to Wauwepex Scout Reservation which was a scout reservation owned by the local boy scout council in New York. It has since been named Schiff Scout Reservation, but it will always be Wauwepex to me. One time when I was in cub scouts, I remember playing hide and go seek or manhunt or something and running through the woods until I must have reached the edge of the property, and came out on a huge farm field. It was really neat, and a quintessentially American experience to come out of the woods to be standing on the edge of this vast farm field. I'll bet the farm field doesn't exist anymore. It's probably a subdivision. As I went to Wauwepex later in my scouting career, I noticed how many houses were going up nearby. It wasn't out in the country like it used to be (if being out in Suffolk County was ever out in the country)
When I was in the boy scouts in middle school, we went to Resica Falls Scout Reservation for a week in the summer. This was in the Poconos, near East Stroudsburg. Also a lot of fun, I got to learn how to shoot a gun, leatherworking, lifesaving, first aid including CPR, etc.
The boy scouts were pretty careful to avoid people getting lost. At summer camp, scouts were always supposed to go with another person, using the "buddy" system, so that if someone got hurt, the unhurt scout would be able to get help. I suppose the buddy system wouldn't protect against a scout wandering away so he could hitchhike home, though. The most dangerous things that we did was playing manhunt -- in the dark -- and that was without buddies. That was when we were furthest from the trail -- and yet no one, that I know of, ever got lost or seriously injured (at least from my troop)
The other cool thing about scouting was the skits (short humorous stories that usually involved corny jokes), but I'll have to blog about that some other night.

16 March 2007

Why I Probably Won't Buy Another Macintosh Computer

I purchased a MacBook awhile ago, and it has had more than its fair share of problems and has had to be shipped for a repair three times. The last time I shipped it back (for what turned out to be a failed hard drive), there were smudges on the wrist rest, and I had asked them to replace the wrist rest while they were at it, as it really shouldn't have this problem. I got an email from them saying that my repair would not be covered my warranty and that I should call them. When I called them, I was informed that they believed the smudges were my fault and they would not replace the wrist rest for free. They wanted me to pay them $400+ for it. I explained to them that since the hard drive failure had nothing to do with the smudged wrist rest, could they just replace the hard drive? They told me that no, they could not, because a Mac leaving their repair shop had to be up to "specs" and the wrist rest was not up to specs. Since I was unwilling to part with $400+, I asked to speak with a supervisor, who overrode it and authorized the repair. I thought this was a fluke, but it looks like it is not.
See this blog post. To summarize: The person had a hardware problem, and because he was outside of the ninety day free technical support period, the telephone technician wanted him to purchase an extended (AppleCare) warranty (I don't know the prices off-hand, but I know it's over $100) so he could diagnose the problem to see if it was a software problem. The only other option was to go to an authorized repair center (like an Apple store) and get the repair that way.
Apple tried to extort money from me to get my computer repaired, and they also tried to extort money from this person as well.
Dell, on the other hand, does not extort money. Once they figure out what is wrong, they arrange for the repair. I have never once had a problem with Dell and a repair.

15 March 2007

Update on Mining Safety.

Here is an update from a post I did nearly a year ago on mines. According to West Virginia Public Radio, and this press release (a pdf) on International Coal Group's website, International Coal Group is going to install mine shelters in all its mines in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Illinois. Illinois and West Virginia both require them, but Kentucky does not. International Coal Group is doing it voluntarily. I'm sure there could be more safety improvements, but I think it's good that International Coal Group is doing this voluntarily.

A funny email from Flickr

I emailed Flickr technical support and got this email back. They win points for a sense of humour.

My Flickr name,

Just a quick email from Team Flickr to let you know that
we've successfully received your recent Help by Email query
and we hope to respond within 1 days.

We'd also like to take an opportunity to remind you that
one query is sufficient and multiple queries regarding the
same issue make the Magic Donkey cry.


The Flickreenos


No humans were involved in the creation of this email.
It is auto-generated, so please don't reply.

14 March 2007

Old User IDs/Email Addresses

I was talking with someone online today and was thinking about the ID that I use for The New York Times and realized that it is probably the oldest logon ID that I still use. I've had it practically since I started using the Internet, before Mosaic and Netscape (and certainly before Internet Explorer), when you had to use a text-only browser called "Lynx". The link has a screenshot, but keep in mind that my Lynx was black and white. The second oldest ID that I use is probably my AOL Instant Messenger ID.
My cousins keep on switching their AOL Instant Messenger IDs, but I don't. In retrospect, I probably should have come up with a better ID, but occasionally old friends have used it to get in touch with me, after they haven't spoken to me in years.
As far as email addresses go, I have been less consistent with these. As I've moved around, I've switched email addresses a few times, but I still use my college one occasionally and plan to use my Gmail address for a long time.

More UK Mac Ads

Here is a link to more UK Mac ads. It's too bad PC's objection in the "Court" ad doesn't work in real life.
Update: Whoops. I suppose it would be helpful to include the link.

12 March 2007

Spammers Get Shut Down by the SEC

The stock scams that spammers use can actually raise the market price of the stocks, and the SEC has decided to do something about it. As a result of this, they have decided to freeze the trading of these stocks. I'm glad. I really hate spammers; I think that they should get substantial jail time. This is probably just a drop in the bucket, but I'm hopeful that the SEC will eventually put a stop to this stuff. From this link, there are some interesting (I think anyway) links to more information about regulations that have to be followed, etc. when a broker starts allowing people to trade on these stocks again.

07 March 2007

Classical Music Online

There are free downloads of MP3s of classical music from Deutsche Velle (which looks to be Germany's version of the BBC) here. Click on the Classical Masterpieces Link.
For downloads that are tethered to your computer, there are more downloads here (from Cincinnati's Public Radio). You can find the William Tell Overture (the Lone Ranger theme song) or Aaaron Copland's Rodeo (that's the song that they played on the "Beef -- It's what's for dinner" commercials years ago, among other songs.

05 March 2007

As Coroner, I Must Aver

Saw an article in the Times awhile ago about the Coroner of Munchkinland, who is still alive, along with a few other Munchkins. It's also online (for free) in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. When I was in first grade, I remember the teacher saying (after we finished watching a movie, not a video, mind you) that we shouldn't applaud at the end because all the people were dead. Looking back, I'll bet that since it was not a silent movie, some of the people were alive. The Wizard of Oz was a (relatively) early movie and some actors from it are still alive. A little bit before I was in first grade, Margaret Hamilton (the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West) was still alive.
I realize that the real reason that they didn't want us applauding is that they didn't want us to make noise. They shouldn't have told little kids this, though, they're impressionable, and you could make them think that everyone in a movie is dead. I don't think I was fooled for long.

03 March 2007

Booting Windows from a Floppy

My father's computer displayed a blue screen of death on boot-up the other day, and when we tried to boot from the Windows Install CD to troubleshoot, we got another blue screen of death, as discussed on this page on Microsoft's support site. Essentially, despite the fact that you are booting from a CD, Windows Setup still tries to mount (start reading and writing data to) any hard drives that are available. Following Microsoft's instructions, we had to create a set of four floppy disks to boot the computer. Then, we had to tell Windows Setup not to mount the hard drive by editing a configuration file. After doing all of these steps and running chkdsk, we were able to get my father's computer booted again. Fortunately he bought this computer with a floppy drive. And I thought that in the age of compact disc install programs, I would never see this message again.

01 March 2007

Lobsters and Deep Sea Netting

There was an article in the Times on Wednesday about fishermen that want Maine to allow them to use deep sea nets (essentially nets that run along the sea floor and pick up everything and anything in sight) to catch lobsters. The "normal" way one captures lobsters is with a trap. The lobster fisherman has to go from lobster trap to lobster trap pulling them up to see if they have any lobsters in them. If they are too small, then the lobster fisherman is -- on the honor system -- supposed to throw it away and back into the sea. Lobster fishermen notch female lobsters with eggs so that other lobster fishermen know not to catch them. The lobster industry is relatively stable because of this. Given that the ground trawlers already avoid the Maine law against "landing" lobsters by going to Massachusetts with their lobsters, I don't trust them to follow the rules. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty lobster regulations, Maine's Department of Marine Resources has a discussion of the rules for recreational fishers. I think the laws as to size are the same for commercial and recreational fishermen alike.
I went out on a lobster boat once (when I was younger my family used to stay at a place for a week or so that had a lobster fisherman that used the dock). It was a lot of fun; a beautiful summer day. I imagine that it is not so much fun in the middle of the winter, though. So, I may be biased for the lobster fishermen, but I still think that a net that catches everything would damage the lobster fishery, possibly permanently.

26 February 2007

Bar Bri Proposed Settlement

For those of us who took Bar Bri, there is an article in Sunday's Times about a proposed settlement for the class action, which, according to the article, would be $125 for each member of the class. It also explains more details about how Bar Bri came to be so powerful, which I am not going to rehash here.

The Silence of the Priuses

Or is it Prii?
In any case, I heard a piece on NPR about how Priuses are very quiet, and this creates problems for blind people who try to cross the street by ear, because they cannot hear a Prius approaching.

21 February 2007

Flickr Email Notifications

You can now tell Flickr to email you when your contacts post photos.
See Flickr's blog entry.

George Washington and Hanukkah

A children's book was published about George Washington, Hanukkah, and Valley Forge. Although it is a nice story, it looks like there is insufficient historical documentation to prove that the events portrayed actually happened. Boston 1775 has a lot more information on it. The link is to the first post, although there are many more immediately afterwards.

Cingular and AT&T

Cingular -- after switching from AT & T -- is now switching back to AT&T. It's interesting how much weight the AT & T brand name has, although, by now, I think Cingular has its own reputation and weight. At the same time though, when I think of historic telephone companies, I think about AT & T (even though AT&T is not really what it used to be)
For awhile, I used to have a calling card that I used from them. For twenty-five cents a minute, I could place a call to anywhere in the United States, which, at the time, was a decent deal. I did not have a mobile at the time, so it was convenient. Unlike prepaid phone cards which made you wait through advertisements, it was really quick to place a call using AT&T. I dialed the 800 number, dialed 1 and the number i was calling, and then -- without waiting -- my calling card number and pin. After being thanked (quickly) for using AT&T, my call was placed. With a prepaid card, you have to wait for ads for the store where you bought the card and also wait for the computer to figure out how many minutes you have left. They got rid of the service about two years after I got it.
For people that do not have mobile phones, AT&T could do quite well for themselves if they offered a service with competitive rates that was fast like the AT&T calling card.

15 February 2007

Presidential Dollar Coins

As Jerry points out on Jerry and Tammy, the US Mint has just -- again -- come out with a new variety of dollar coins, this time featuring the US Presidents. I think that this experiment is going to fail, for the same reason most people don't use Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, and most people don't use the Sacajawea dollar coins. The dollar coins, whether they are gold or not, are too similar to the quarter in size and shape. They are not easily distinguishable, and that will make it difficult to catch on. Canadian dollar coins have caught on. First, they took the dollar bill out of circulation, second they are a different shape from other coins and don't look like a Canadian quarter (or any other Canadian coin for that matter)
The US coins are bad for another reason. Unless you are at the post office or traveling on the Long Island Railroad, most vending machines don't take them. I know someone, who will remain anonymous, who tells me he likes to watch people use the Long Island Railroad ticket vending machines with a twenty dollar bill buy an eight dollar ticket and receive twelve dollars worth of dollar coins back. That's why I always use a credit card with the Long Island Railroad and won't use a twenty dollar bill to buy stamps from a post office vending machine.
Update: My brother has de-anonymized himself. See the comments.
Ok, wow, I just put a bluebook style cite in a blog entry. Sigh.

06 February 2007

Steve Jobs on Apple's Copy-Protection

Steve Jobs posted an explanation of Apple's copy-protection scheme and his feelings on music that doesn't have copy-protection. It's worth reading as it explains why Apple doesn't want to licence their copy-protection scheme to other companies that sell other music players. If you believe Steve Jobs, it is not simply because Apple wants to sell more iPods.

05 February 2007

Funny Guardian Column on Macs

Here is a link to a funny Guardian column on Macs.

Testing AOL Instant Messenger Connectivity

If you want to test to see if you are really connected to AIM, just add the screen name AOL System Msg to your buddy list. If you add it, you can IM that screen name to test your connectivity. If you don't get a response back, then you don't have a connection to AIM. If you do, then you know that you are connected to both the Internet and AIM. You can also use it if you inadvertently leave yourself logged on, because, as you'll see, it gives you the option to sig nyourself off from your other AIM sessions.
I've sometimes found that it takes a little while for my instant messenger client to realize that it is disconnected.

04 February 2007

Jurors Asking Questions

Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal's law blog about jurors asking witnesses questions during trial. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but there are interesting comments to the blog entry.

Getting to Talk to a Human Being Instead of Voicejail

I do not like how some companies have made it really difficult to get through to a human being and how sometimes, to get to where I want to be, I have to wend my way through three or four layers of voicemail just to get the information I want. I don't mind using a teleresponse system to get an account balance or something like that. I especially like the teleresponse system when I don't know the answers to questions the agents ask for verification, it can be faster to use the tele-response system. I'm very good at my social security number, but not so good at the other information they ask for.
But, I don't like it when companies do not tell you how to speak to a human being, so you are left to guess -- usually zero works in those instances. Or, if zero doesn't work, often pressing the "wrong" key multiple times eventually fails me out and I get to an agent.
The one teleresponse system I like is Julie on Amtrak. She's very good, understands me when I speak, and I can often make a reservation with her over the phone quite easily. Plus, if I need to talk to a human being, I say agent, and she puts me right through, passing whatever I told her along, so I don't have to explain my travel plans all over.
While I don't like ING direct's tele-response system, I do like the fact that when I call the line they have that is specially set up for requesting to talk to a human being, they realize that I called the line because I really, truly, want to talk to a human being and place my call through without any voicejail at all.
The number that Commerce Bank has on the back of my ATM card is direct to a human. I think that's cool of them.
And, speaking of that, this is a neat website that has the phone numbers for lots of major corporations and how to get a human being, whether that is saying certain things to the automated response system, pressing buttons, or simply calling a special number.

01 February 2007

How many legislators does it take to change a lightbulb?

A member of the California Assembly, Leonard Levine is planning to introduce a bill which is called -- really -- how many the How Many Legislators Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb Act. Another bill (with a less interesting mame) is also being proposed. Apparently these Assembly members want to eventually require all light bulbs sold in California to be non-incandescent light-bulbs. I have not had much experience with non-incandescent bulbs, but from my family's experience, they do not last long enough to be worth buying instead of incandescent bulbs. In any case, here is a link to where I found this information.

31 January 2007

Useful Firefox Plugin

I was looking at an entry in Yahoo! employee Jeremy Zawodny's blog and decided to try a plugin he uses -- Aardvark. What's useful about it is that you can use it to kill off ads in web pages on an individual basis. If you want to print from a website, you just activate Aardvark by a right click, mouse over the item that you want to remove, and then press r (for remove) It disappears. There are other hotkeys which you can use -- press h (for help) when Aardvark is activated. The homepage for the actual program is here.

29 January 2007

Jolly Good Apple Ads

Apple has ads for the UK market which are pretty good. They are generally the same thing as the American ads, but with a British accent.

25 January 2007

On Radio Stations Switching Format

Regarding Jerry's earlier post, I recently had a radio station change format on me too. The Washington, DC NPR station that served a repeater in Hagerstown that I could pick up changed formats so that it plays all classical with NPR news at the top of the hour. That's unfortunate, because I like other NPR programming as well.
So, now, I listen to West Virginia Public Radio out of Martinsburg (probably 45 miles south of here). If I travel north, I can pick up the Harrisburg NPR station.
While listening to West Virginia public radio, I learned that -- at least for school closings -- they control the school closings by county rather than by individual district (although I'm suspicious that since they did not mention school districts, that all of the schools may be controlled by the county in West Virginia)

A Good Tennessee Supreme Court Decision

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently published a good decision. In Re A.M.H. dicusses how two parents from China thought they were just temporarily placing their child in foster care while they got back on their financial feet. Instead, the foster family refused to give their daughter back, forcing them to go to court. The family still refused to give them back, and one person advised the trial court that because the parents intended to return with the child to China, it was not in the child's best interest to be returned to her natural parents. If you choose to click on the link (which has a summary of the opinion), unless you have WordPerfect, you should click on the "View" link on that page (which gives you a PDF of the opinion), because the link to the opinion is to a WordPerfect file. It's a sad opinion, but at least it ends happily.

21 January 2007

Skill and Key Cutting

I went to Home Depot on Long Island to get a key copied yesterday. Only one of the keys (out of four) that they made worked properly in the lock. I think part of the problem is that the machines that they have require no skill to use. You stick the original in one slot and the blank in another, press a button, and it makes the copy. This means that the person operating it need not put sufficient care into it (although, in this case, I'll add that the clerk did put some care into it. The machine was just out of adjustment.) The older machines (that you actually had to manually line things up) were better, because then the person had to know what they were doing. I'm always afraid the person is going to put the original in the space for the blank and recut the original, damaging it.
I'm always glad when my apartment keys are Kwikset keys. Home Depot has no problem with those.

18 January 2007

A Continuance Based on Football

According to this blog entry, the attorneys in a case in New Orleans requested -- and got -- a continuance based on the Saints' football game this weekend.

Spanish Music on iTunes

This week iTunes has a free Spanish song which is pretty decent. It's called Me Falta, I think it is about someone whose significant other has left him. The price is right, too.
You'll need iTunes to use the link.

14 January 2007

Original Wording For A Bounce Message

I got this message when I tried to email someone on an AOL account. It's a change from the usual bounce messages.

Besides the usual stuff, it says:

Technical details of permanent failure:

PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 9): 550 We would love to have gotten this email to aolmember@aol.com But, your recipient never logged onto their free AIM Mail account. Please contact them and let them know that they're missing out on all the super features offered by AIM Mail. And by the way, they're also missing out on your email. Thanks.

07 January 2007

Heroes and Heroes that get missed

I do not mean to minimize what Mr. Autrey did. His heroism -- and it is heroism -- has been all over the news; it even was discussed on a BBC newscast (as news that they told on the hour and half hour). There is even an article about him on on the BBC's website.
But, over the summer I heard about Alberto Medina, who jumped into a river to save a boy that he did not know. Mr. Medina died (the boy survived) -- he certainly was a hero for saving someone he did not know -- but the most I heard about it was on an NPR story. Perhaps the danger was not as obvious as diving in front of a subway train is, but I also think that Mr. Medina was a hero.

03 January 2007

A hero

The man in this article is a hero. When someone fell down onto the subway tracks and a train was coming with no time for the man to be pulled up, Wesley Autrey jumped down to the tracks with the man and held him down while five cars of a train passed over both of them. The person who fell down on the tracks suffered bumps and bruises; Mr. Autrey had no injuries.

02 January 2007

Old Maps

Boston 1775 has a post where the author discusses an old map of Boston from 1894 with a map from when Europeans first arrived superimposed on it. A large portion of Boston is built on landfill.
The area around Old North Church (the church that figured prominently in the midnight ride of Paul Revere) existed when the Europeans first arrived.
I think it's neat to look at old maps to see which streets existed 100 years ago. There are some streets like that in my hometown, because it predates the suburbanization of Long Island.

Closing A Library for Children's Misbehaviour

The Maplewood Library has decided to close between 2:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. because they are tired of dealing with middle school miscreants who come there after school. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I have never been a fan of punishing a group for the actions of a minority. At the same time, when I lived in New York City, I would avoid taking the subway just after school let out (if possible), because I did not want to contend with noisy/misbehaving schoolchildren. I'll add that the standards for behaviour on the subway are quite different from standards of behaviour in a public library. The subway children may not have been out of line.
However, the behaviour of the schoolchildren while they are at the library are reprehensible. Urinating on the bathroom floor and drawing graffiti is disgraceful. I can see why their parents do not want them to be home by themselves if they behave this way when there is limited adult supervision.
So, I sympathize with the library. A library is not a babysitting service. At the same time, I'm not sure if it is fair to the rest of the community who might want to use the library during those hours.