Saturday, September 27, 2008

Visitors and an Anniversary

It's been a busy week. My buddy Dave and his wife Bernice arrived in Boston Harbor on a cruise ship last Saturday, followed soon after by Oki and Clothilde from Germany (via NYC). We stopped by RiverSing on Sunday evening, and on Wednesday night Katy and I drove to New Hampshire to hike Mt. Chocorua as our anniversay celebration. I got a new camera last week, so all these goings on provided an excuse to give it a try.

Dave and I are friends from college; I met him a few weeks after arriving at FTU in the fall of '72, hanging out in the computer room late at night. He got me two of my early jobs (computer operator at Orange Memorial Hospital, and super-junior programmer at Orange County Public Schools), and we've somehow stayed in touch ever since. He and Bernice were passing through Boston on Saturday at the end of a ten day trans-Atlantic cruise, and we had the privilege of putting them up for the night. Here's Dave on our living room rug, noodling around with his fancy cell phone.

From Visitors and an anniversary

It was all too short a visit.

Later on Saturday Oki and Clothilde arrived by car from NYC. I won't go into all the details, but Katy knows Oki (and the rest of his family) from generations of cross-family extended visitations. Oki's brother, Toby, visited us earlier in the summer. Here are Clothilde and Oki at RiverSing on Sunday evening.

From Visitors and an anniversary

RiverSing was a big party in celebration of the autumn equinox on the north bank of the Charles River. It featured many singers (including Bill Staines, one of my favorites), big puppets and general frivolity. We were also treated to a lovely sunset.

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

Today is our anniversary; because my Morris team (the Pinewoods Morris Men) had a tour planned for today, Katy and I decided to celebrate our anniversary early by hiking Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire. We originally planned to drive up on Thursday evening, but the threatening weather forecast led us to move the trip up a day. This monkey-wrenched our overnight plans; Katy had to find us a new inn for Wednesday night on short notice, and we weren't able to cancel the Thursday night reservation. This turned out to be just fine; once we finished the hike, we decided to spend Thursday in New Hampshire and drive home very early Friday morning.

Chorcorua has an incredibly exposed summit cone.

From Visitors and an anniversary

We decided to try a different route than our "usual" route up Chocorua (the Piper trail to the Carter Ridge trail and down the Hammond and Weetamoo trails) and instead did a loop up the Brooks trail and down the Liberty trail.

View Larger Map

From Visitors and an anniversary

This blowdown looked like a critter of some sort - a dragon? a moose?

From Visitors and an anniversary

The views from the top of the mountain were, as ever, spectacular, although the day was a bit hazy.

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

We took this self-portrait after finishing lunch at the summit.

From Visitors and an anniversary

We clowned around a bit at the Jim Liberty Cabin.

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

The trip down was fast, but it always seems longer that the trip up. We (especially our feet...) were happy to get back to the car.

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

The Gilman Tavern Inn in Tamworth was a great place to stay. The room was nice, and it's right across the street from a very funky little store (the "other" store, next door.)

From Visitors and an anniversary

From Visitors and an anniversary

Addendum: Katy has been uploading pictures to Picasa, including some from Mom's visit to Boston in August.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yet Another Hyderabad Map

Someone on IndiaMike just posted a link to a PDF map of the Outer Ring Road, which I've cached a copy of. The original is from the web site of the Hyderabad Growth Corridor Limited.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Orchard Street Block Party 2008

Our neighborhood block party was today. Here are the few pictures I took. It was fun!

Block Party 2008

Lies, Damn Lies and McCain Campaign Statements

The McCain campaign is so full of lies that even Republicans are starting to complain. See this article in today's New York Times.

The policy lies bother me the most; I think the most outrageous are in regards to tax policy, which I've already written about. McCain claims that Obama plans "painful tax increases on working families." In fact, the detailed and well-sourced comparisons at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center show otherwise. Their analysis states:

The two candidates’ tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income. In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution, while taxpayers with the highest income would see their taxes rise significantly.

Sarah Palin's assertions about her opposition to earmarks really get to me, too. She has said, "I told Congress, thanks, but no thanks for that 'Bridge to Nowhere' in Alaska. If we wanted that bridge, we'd build it ourselves." This is a flat-out lie. As a candidate for governor, Ms. Palin supported the project. She told the Ankorage Daily News in 2006 that she would like to see it and other projects built sooner rather than later, "while out Congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." After the bridge drew national ridicule, making it harder to secure more federal money to meet rising cost projections, she abandoned it, citing the financial shortfall. Alaska was able to keep the federal money and direct it to other projects.

Wake up, America!

Update: Go watch the ABC news interview with Sarah Palin. Could she possibly be less prepared to be vice president?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Strange local politics...

I had an odd, unsigned note slipped into my mail slot sometime today, asking me to attend a City Council meeting tomorrow. The details of the situation aren't interesting to the general reader (look here if you really care), but I do want to say that I think it's slimy to slip unattributed political propaganda into people's mail slots.

This gave me an excuse, though, to noodle around a bit with Google Sites. I'm thinking that this is good enough to use for rehosting all the old content from, which would finally let me power down the server in the basement...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Energy Balls in the blogospheric echo chamber

A recent posting on Engadget about a new spherical wind turbine design by "the Swedish company Home Energy" caught my attention:

I wanted more information, so I started following links back the chain of blogs - sort of a game of telephone - looking for a link to the company that makes these. No luck. So I turned to Google, and quickly found Home Energy International, a Dutch company. It's amazing to me that none of the previous bloggers did any fact checking - something always to bear in mind when reading blogs...

Anyway - a few of the specs for the turbine:

  • Rated power, 10 m/s wind: 100W
  • Max power, 17 m/s wind: 500W
And it's supposedly very quiet, unlike many small turbines.

Update: All Small Wind Turbines has a list of small wind turbines. Cool!

Pakistan, Twitter, Schools and Shrinking Republicans

This week's Sunday New York Times Magazine is worth the price of the paper all by itself. Home delivery gives me the luxury of spending Saturday mornings with the Magazine, and today my lingering over coffee was especially stimulating.

Paul Tough leads off with 24/7 School Reform - What poor kids really need can't be taught in a classroom. He describes the two camps he sees in the Democratic Party regarding education - "the unionists" and "the reformers." The unionists argue that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the biggest problem in public education: that it encourages "teaching to the test" and blames teachers for the poor performance of disadvantaged children. The reformers, on the other hand, see problems with the implementation of NCLB, but applaud the accountability provisions and the encouragement of experimentation through charter schools. (Neither camp, it seems, are particularly attracted to vouchers - a policy I personally favor, which makes me persona non grata with much of my liberal cohort when it comes to discussions of education...)
The two camps are anxiously dissecting Barack Obama's speeches and policy announcements, looking for support.

Tough argues that both camps have missed the point: Obama's education plans are novel and interesting in that they largely involve institutions other than schools. Tough quotes a speech Obama gave last year:

If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.
This is a realistic assessment, one I agree with - but not one easily reduced to the sort of bumper-sticker catchphrase that seems so important any more in American politics.

Next up is I'm So Totally, Digitally Close To You, by Clive Thompson. He explores the effect of what he calls "incessant online contact" on friendship and privacy. This is a topic that I've long found interesting and blogged about before. By and large, people who have come of age in the past 10 years or so are very familiar with this. Older people, except for the tech-savvy like me, who've used email for over 30 years, tend to know little about about it and generally don't get it. This sort of "radical transparency" is freeing to some, terrifying to others, and emerging as a new norm.

Thompson is followed by David Frum's The Vanishing Republican Voter. Frum, author of Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, argues that the growing income inequality in the U.S. is undermining the G.O.P. and must become a conservative issue. Frum seems to be calling for a return to the brand of "main street Republicanism" so colorfully described by Garrison Keillor in Homegrown Democrat (for a real treat, buy the audio book, read by Keillor).

Finally, Dexter Filkins gives us Right at the Edge, an insightful look at the complex relationships between Pakistan, the Taliban, Al Queda and the U.S. It's scary but compelling reading.