21 December 2009

Poor Choice of Hold Music

Someone my brother knows was on hold with Delta trying to reschedule her flight this past weekend.  Her original flight was canceled because of the snow.  Delta's choice for hold music?  "Let it Snow."

13 December 2009

Free Christmas Album on iTunes

iTunes has a free Christmas album available.  See this link.  The song that I like the best is Auld Lange Syne by The Lonesome Traveler Band.  It's a bluegrass version, but I think it is well done.  I'm not sure whether the link will expire on Tuesday, as sometimes Apple only posts free songs for one week.

17 November 2009

If I Were Westlaw/LexisNexis, I would be very afraid

Google Scholar now has searchable legal opinions. They're not that comprehensive right now, but they have a primitive equivalent of Keyciting/Shephardizing.

Here's a link to Google's blog entry.

07 November 2009

Free Admission to National Parks on Veterans Day

There is free admission to National Parks (and National Forests) on Veterans Day. See:

01 November 2009

Cross Country Uniforms

As a former high school cross country runner (and I remember we were only allowed to wear white T-shirts in addition to our uniforms), I can relate to this article.  Someone in my high school wore a different colored hair band and was disqualified.  While on the one hand, rules are rules, I'm not entirely sure what the point of the rule is.  I mean, so long as one team isn't trying to disguise itself as another team, I don't see why there can't be a slight variation in uniforms.

12 October 2009

A Hunch May Be Worth Listening To

According to this piece from the University of Florida, a hunch is worth listening to.  One of my professors at law school said that if you were talking to a client and something seemed off, it probably was.

26 September 2009

Google Document Viewer

If you're on the Internet and don't want to wait to power up Acrobat reader, try Google Document Viewer on for size.
It can also create links for blogs.  For example, IRS Publication 17.

24 September 2009

Sons of Bill: A Generous Band

Sons of Bill, whom I have mentioned before, is an incredibly generous band.  They posted a whole show of songs on their website to download.  Free.  This is aside from the fact that they are also good musically.

20 September 2009

Time Dollar Youth Court

Here is a good video on Time Dollar Youth Court, which one of my friends works at.  See:

29 August 2009

End of Reading Rainbow

I heard on NPR yesterday that Reading Rainbow is going off the air because no one wants to fund it.  That's unfortunate.  There's also an article on the Wall Street Journal's website.

25 August 2009

Skyline Drive History

For anyone in the Maryland Outdoor Club reading this (or anyone else for that matter!), here's a link to a historical site on Skyline Drive.  For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, that's the road that traverses Shenandoah National Park.  There's a picture on the National Park Service's website of what looks like the same overlook that I stopped at last fall and took pictures at.  I'm looking forward to the fall.

19 August 2009

Paying Attention on the Taconic Parkway

I read an article in the Times on the Taconic Parkway the other day and agreed with many of the points made.  The Taconic definitely requires attention when driving it.  The lanes are thin, and there is not much space between the shoulder and the center guard rail.  It's kind of like the section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway between I-395 and where it starts to climb up away from the Potomac.

Another thing to pay attention to on the Taconic Parkway is your speed.  The New York State Police love that road.

16 August 2009

Still More on United Breaks Guitars

Here is an update to my two posts on United Breaking Guitars.  According to this blog post, the musician packed his guitar for transit in a soft case.  Also, to protect themselves against future mishaps, United now makes you sign a waiver before you ship your guitar with them.  While I agree it would have been nicer if they had been more careful with the guitar, Dave Carroll (the musician) did not help matters when he packed his guitar in a soft case.

15 August 2009

Dickinson Law Library History

For those of you DSLers out there reading, Penn State's libraries posted an article by Mark Podvia about the history of Dickinson's library.  I liked, especially, the discussion of the tobacco chewers trying to aim for a hole in the floor.

10 August 2009

A Drive-In Movie Theatre Near Carlisle That I Missed

There was a story on NPR about the Cumberland Drive-In in Newville.   I never made it there during law school.  There's also an MP3 download of the story available.

08 August 2009

The Recording Industry and Its Future

There was an article in the Times (thanks Matt) about the future of the recording industry.  The statement by the article about the amount of music that people are streaming instead of listening to online surprised me.  I guess, with Myspace, and how it allows people to stream music, I should not find this that surprising.  But, on the other hand, you can't listen to streamed music on an iPod.

What did not surprise me as much was how people hardly bought CDs anymore.  I've bought a few CDs this year, but then, I think only from bands that I saw perform in person.  I did this partially to support the band, because I figured I was cutting out middle men.

There are very few CDs that I've purchased (even from bands) where I've liked a lot of the songs on them.  The two that I can think of right now are a promotional CD that was put out by a Newfoundland supermarket chain to celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Cabot discovering Newfoundland and Heroes by Paul Overstreet.

25 July 2009

Update on United Breaking Guitars

United donated $3,000 to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz on behalf of David Carroll, who said they broke his instrument in transit. This article has more details, and also talks about the power of the Internet in getting a response from a company.

22 July 2009

Summer Reading Ideas

Here is a link to some summer reading ideas from the University of Texas at Austin.

11 July 2009

An MTV Style Video about United Breaking Guitars

A musician produced this video after he tried and failed to get United to reimburse him for a broken guitar.

03 July 2009

Metro and its Train Problems

As details continue to come out about Metro and its train problems, it's becoming clear to me that Metro is not careful enough with passenger safety.

This article says that Metro believes that the defect in the train circuitry would have been "impossible" to detect.  I beg to differ.  While perhaps someone staring at the screen might not notice something, one of the advantages of having a computer monitoring things is that you can use the computer to stare at the screen (or watch for strange things happening).  What the computer should have been programmed to notice is a train suddenly disappearing.  Even on Metro, trains don't mysteriously disappear.  They move into the next signal block further down the line.  If a train disappears without moving into the next signal block down the line, then that, to me, signifies a Problem.  The computer should have been programmed to notice disappearing trains and report them.

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) had the same problem.  Rene posted to Twitter about this.

27 June 2009

MLB.com Article by Thomas

My brother did an article on the Yankees for MLB.com

25 May 2009

Chicken and Corn Fried Rice with Lemon Spinach

I saw this recipe awhile ago on NPR's website.  I've cooked it twice and it's tasted pretty good.  I've altered the recipe a bit, though.  I used lemon juice from a bottle, used frozen spinach, used garlic powder instead of minced garlic and omitted the ginger -- ginger is expensive.

16 May 2009

Cracking Down on Downloading Music Illegally In France

I heard this piece on Marketplace the other day on downloading music illegally in France.  While I think it's important that artists' rights are protected, I'm not entirely sure that I agree with the method that France is using.  Summarily disconnecting someone from the Internet, without a court order, strikes me as a little bit draconian.  The idea of monitoring someone's Internet use without a court order also strikes me as a little bit creepy.  Comments?

10 May 2009

Bank of America and the Ransom

I got a brochure from Bank of America about their pricing changes, and I learned that if you want to transfer an IRA to another financial institution, they will charge you $50 (!) to do so. They shouldn't hold someone's retirement savings for ransom. Here's a link (to a PDF) for it. You should probably transfer the funds out of a Bank of America IRA before 5 June, when the pricing changes go into effect.

07 May 2009

Hiking Across Maryland

Last Saturday, I hiked forty-one miles across Maryland in the Hike Across Maryland.  We started at 5:20 a.m., when a school bus disgorged us at the start of the trail.  After a rock scramble at 6:30 a.m., I was at the second checkpoint (and had hiked 5 miles) by 6:57 a.m.  According to the statistics, of the people that finished this hike, I placed in the first quarter.  I was hoping to finish faster than I did (11 hours and 49 minutes), but I'm still pleased.
I've posted pictures to Flickr.  It's definitely an experience I won't forget.

07 April 2009

Trademarks and March Madness

Although it is after March Madness, I wanted to post about this story on NPR the other day about how aggressively the NCAA and its attorneys pursue trademark infringement relating to March Madness.  Unfortunately, it looks like you'll have to listen to the audio to get the whole thing.  From my conversations with someone who knows a lot more about trademark law than I do, I can understand why they are so aggressive about it.

02 April 2009

An April Fool's Joke on an Ant

This NPR story is funny, although I feel slightly bad for the ant.

29 March 2009

A Public Service Announcement About Tornadoes

I was talking to a friend who was near a tornado, and when I advised him to get underneath an overpass, he told me that the radio had told him not to.  He was right, although the misperception is pretty widespread.  This website from NOAA has a lot of information on why an overpass is not the place to be in a tornado.

24 March 2009

On User Notifications in Browsers

One of the designers of Firefox did an interesting post on just how well-designed software should interact with the user.  It's interesting to see how things that I really don't give much thought to in Firefox or Internet Explorer have quite a bit of thought put into them.  It helps explain why Clippy was not the success that Microsoft wanted him (it?) to be.  The discussion of their prototype for a new tab page is neat.  It's pretty neat to see how far Internet browsers have come in the last few years.

16 March 2009

Harmonious Blacksmith

Yesterday I went to the National Gallery of Art's free concert series to see a performance by Harmonious Blacksmith, who played renaissance and baroque music. They were quite good. Afterwards, I discovered that they had free mp3s on their website.

15 March 2009

Black Bean Soup

I made black bean soup following this recipe from the Times, and it came out quite well (even though I omitted the salt).  Cilantro was the only ingredient I was not familiar with, and it was found alongside the parsley and lettuce in the vegetable section.  It was $.99 for a bunch, so relatively inexpensive.  Just be careful not to let the beans scorch, you have to stir it somewhat often.

12 March 2009

Funny Trial Techniques Article in the ABA Magazine

There's a funny article in this month's ABA magazine about trial techniques, and how an attorney has won cases by using some unorthodox methods.  There is not much legalese in it, so it should be funny even for a non-lawyer.  Be forwarned, the article does contain profanity.  Here is a link.

10 March 2009

Quieting Title to a Copy of the Declaration of Independence

There was an interesting post on Boston 1775 (a blog I read) about a Virginia Supreme Court case that involved a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was stored in the attic of a house in Maine.  It looks like Maine's attorney, by not preserving issues for appeal, lost out on arguing a number of things before the Virginia Supreme Court.

05 March 2009

Zealous Representation: What Does It Mean?

There was an interesting article in the Times today about a Manhattan assistant district attorney who intentionally lost a case where he did not believe in the conviction.  According to the Times article, the responsible court agency (which I presume is the First Department Disciplinary Committee) chose not to purse a case against Mr. Bibb.  The case raised the question of what zealous representation means when one is a district attorney.   

03 March 2009

Country Music Song About the Economy

A country music singer, John Rich, who, according to Wikipedia, used to play in the country music band Lonestar, has come up with a song about the current economic situation. While I don't think it's ever going to gain the same historical traction as some of Woody Guthrie's songs, I do think the song is pretty good. His website has a streaming version of it.

Another country music song that discusses economics is Cafe Down on the Corner by Sawyer Brown. That's much older.

28 February 2009

Handy Things the IRS Can Do For You

By calling one toll-free number:
800–829–1040, you can get answers to your tax questions, order free publications and order transcripts of information you entered on previous tax returns.  All of these services are free. 

With regard to publications, may I suggest Publication 17, both for its utility in answering tax questions and helping you fall asleep.

The automated system for getting transcripts will ask you for your address, so I'm not sure how it will react if you want things sent to a new address because you've moved.  In any case, though, the phone system is quite efficient, and you can order multiple transcripts with one phone call. 

26 February 2009

Status Page for Google's Cloud Applications

Google has set up a status page for its applications (like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Talk, etc.)
They really ought to have had such a status page since the beginning of Gmail, but I suppose late is better than never.

22 February 2009

Poached Salmon

Yesterday and tonight I poached salmon fillets for dinner.  To make this, I did the following:
1.  Took a frying pan and put a little bit of water into the bottom of it.
2.  Brought this water to a boil.
3.  Put the salmon in the water and covered it with a lid.
4.  Waited until the salmon was done (flaked easily with a fork and was light pink).
I also made a side dish of pasta (small pasta works better, like orzo if you have it or elbow macaroni), and served it with lemon juice, which you can pour right over the fish and the pasta.
You could also, I suppose, use rice instead of pasta, although then I suppose the lemon juice wouldn't work so well.
It was quite easy to do and did not take long at all.

21 February 2009

Sons of Bill: A Band to Watch

Last Thursday night a friend and I went to see Sons of Bill (music samples are on MySpace and Facebook).  They were quite good, and both of us thought that they were better than the main act, Reckless Kelly.  I'll definitely keep my eye open for them to see if they are in Metro DC again.

18 February 2009

Copyright and Facebook Terms of Service

There's been an interesting discussion in both the mainstream media and Facebook's blog (there have been two entries) about Facebook and copyright law.  My three cents is that the only thing that Facebook needs a perpetual license to is an email that I send to a friend via Facebook.  I think it's weird that they'd even need this, given the fact that one normally doesn't think of email as copyrighteable.  If I send an email on Gmail to my friend on Yahoo!, am I really granting Gmail a license to copy my email and send it to my friend?  Ordinarily, I wouldn't have the need to claim copyright on an email I sent.  Even if I was sending my friend a manuscript for a book I was writing, could I then sue Gmail for copyright infringement?  I don't think I'd have a cause of action.   

Anything else that I post on Facebook, like a wall post or photo, can be deleted.  Therefore, any license I give Facebook for posting something like that should be revocable at my will.

I wonder whether someone who sued Facebook for copyright infringement for redistributing his or her pictures would even have a cause of action (so long as Facebook posted them in compliance with his or her privacy settings).  I guess Facebook is covering itself, but are they going over the top?  

Flickr's terms of service are pretty clear.  Once I remove my content from Flickr (which is owned by Yahoo!), Yahoo!'s license to display and/or distribute this information is instantly revoked.  Sometimes, as when I submit content to a Flickr-sponsored group, the license, by its terms (you'll need a Yahoo!/Flickr account to see these terms), expires at a certain time.

Google's answer to Flickr (Picasa Web), on the other hand, has much broader (and less favorable) terms for me as an end-user.  If I upload a photo to Picasa Web, under the terms of service (Section 11.1), I give Google what essentially amounts to an irrevocable royalty-free license to display my information.  As a result, I don't use Picasa much.

It's interesting to see what at tangled web is woven with all these license agreements.  It also shows the importance of reading license agreements.

Free Starbucks Instant Coffee

Go to this website for free coffee.  There's no strings attached.

Update:  They're out.

15 February 2009

Gmail Outage Updates

If you use Gmail as your email provider, you might be interested to know about this Google group.  Only Googlers can post to it.  It will let you know if there is a problem with Gmail. There's also an RSS feed you can subscribe to if you are so inclined.

03 February 2009

Peanut Butter Recall Information

This website from the FDA has information on the peanut recall and a comprehensive list of every product affected.

02 February 2009

Steve Martin's Surprising Talent

The other day I was on Amazon MP3 and saw a free download (still free as of this writing) from Steve Martin.  At the time, I thought the name was just coincidence, but then I saw this article in the Times about how Steve Martin plays bluegrass.

25 January 2009

Old Folk Music on NPR

Last Thursday, there was a piece on NPR's All Things Considered about people who are preserving "old-timey" music.  The CDs available for purchase on the group's website are pretty pricey, but the audio on the story's page on NPR is free.

21 January 2009

Stats on Google

Google posted some interesting statistics about searches during the inauguration.  It's neat (although not surprising) to see the drop in U.S. queries during President Obama's swearing in/speech.
Google also posted some interesting stats awhile ago regarding the election.  I had meant to post them earlier, but here they are now.

18 January 2009

Pasta with Olives, Cauliflower, and Tomato Sauce

I saw this recipe in the Times and thought it was worth a try.  I modified it slightly.  I used plain olives and frozen cauliflower which I prepared in the microwave.  I also omitted the thyme because I didn't have any.  It still worked out perfectly well.