Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

It’s a City!

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Purposed Skyscrapers Rendering It’s a city, where else do you put skyscrapers! The Massachusetts environmental secretary recently decided that two skyscrapers purposed for the Boston waterfront are “too tall.” This ruling supports a bunch of winy brats who are worried about the buildings casting shadows on the greenway in the mornings. Ok, look you dumb people! There is a guy who wants to spend a whole bunch of money and employ a whole bunch of people to build two beautiful new additions to the Boston skyline. All you have to do is let him do it and everybody wins. If you don’t like tall buildings, don’t live in a major city! There are some other concerns the state has, that may be valid, but luckily the developer plans to press on and employ some more lawyers so that the state may eventually let him employ construction workers.

June is Done

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Boston fog

I was reminded by the woot podcast song today that today is July 1st and that means that June is over. But somehow it is still raining in Boston! It has literally been raining for the entire month of June, and somehow I, and everyone else thought that July 1 would be like the second coming of the sun and our collective depression over a summer wasted would be relived. I can’t find an updated article, but just last week it was reported that the so far June 2009 was the least second least sunny June recorded in Boston since 1885. Only 32% of the daily possible sunshine actually reached the ground for the month. The lowest record was in 1903 with 25% and the highest was in 1971 with 77%. Average is apparently 55%. All of that and more can be found in the fancy chart on the story.

It seems like bad form to complain about the weather, especially to dedicate an entire post to it, but this is seriously a 100 year lack of sun event! Anyways now that it’s July and its not sunny I feel totally justified. That said, I just picked up some cheap Red Sox tickets for Friday from someone who apparently decided they didn’t want to bother going it if was expected to rain, which it is. Although, these days 30% chance of thunderstorms is starting to mean the sunniest day of the week.

This just in: Also from the Boston Globe, How to Build an Ark in five steps.

Updated stats:from the Boston Metro on the lack of sunshine. Who said that rag wasn’t good for anything. Also from the Metro, how it is making us feel. I certainly think that “reading and writing about the bad weather” should be added to their list of things people are doing after this much rain that don’t help a darn bit. At least the Globe ended their bit with a rainbow, even if it is a painted rainbow hanging in Cooperstown.

Endings Done Well

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009


Nothing profound is ending for me anytime soon, but it sort of feels like it due to some well done final episodes. A year in the making, the final, first episode of the Tim & Diana Show was released yesterday. Having matured greatly over the year the show was humorously insightful and a lot of fun for a roughly bimonthly break from reality to the world of meta reality. There’s a paper half written in my head for which the Tim & Diana show is but one support; hopefully, I’ll figure it out and write it down soon. I might have to wait until after digesting the directors commentary available on the DVD, which I hope my status as number one fan will get me a copy of.

Scrubs - My Finale 1

The other show that ended well was Scrubs. When I first moved to Boston, I lived for two weeks in a hotel in Burlington, MA. Only one of those weeks I was working. The first week I was dealing with moving my stuff and watching Scrubs. I watched seasons 1 – 3 in that week (I think). It was just amazingly hilarious. I forget which, but one of those early seasons is in the running for best season of television I’ve ever seen. Since then Scrubs has soured, so much so that I begged them to put the show out of its misery at the end of season seven (Note: no actual literal begging or letter writing occurred). That said season eight has been quite a surprise and the ending, while not funny, was so well done it can’t go unmentioned.

I just absolutely loved the wonder years type filmstrip ending to Scrubs, which I didn’t get around to watching until yesterday. I really liked the twist that it wasn’t saying from the future, what did happen, but only saying what might happen. The scenes totally hit me, if only I could look forward to that kind of thing (maybe I can). Also, the music in season 8 of Scrubs has been amazing and it continued to be in that scene.

Scrubs - My Finale 2.

I guess what I’m saying about scrubs is that now I’ve enjoyed it for two reasons: for the comedy that it was and the drama it became. Before this episode I somewhat resented how it was often more touching the funny in than latter seasons.

New Glasses

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I resolved my lost glasses problem today. I got my new prescription from the optomistrist. Surprise, it’s the same as it was two years ago. At least I didn’t pay for them to tell me that directly, but this is totally part of the health care spending problem in this country. If I want a pair of lenses with certain focal lengths, I should be able to get them without wasting money on a doctor. Anyways, I spent more than I expected, but I like them better than my old ones so at least there’s a win. Here they are in black, but mine are silver.
Mine are in silver, not black
Of course, with a broken camera, I can only show you the stock photo. But it is pretty accurate.The last picture of my old pair (I think) They are very similar to my old pair, in that they are silver, have a rim only at the top, and are squarish rather than round. The main difference is that the lenses are smaller and more rectangular. They still aren’t the tiny little rectangles that are in style these days, but they’re smaller. Mary, who I brought along to provide her expert opinion, suggested that my old ones were too big, so at least we solved that problem. Although, these were her second choice, her first choice were even smaller, and I just couldn’t deal.

Oh That Stuff: Operational Amplifiers

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Operational AmplifierThese past two weeks at work have been a re-introduction to ECE 320: Electronic Devices and Controls. I have to do something that is very simple conceptually, but continually reminds me why I am not a hardware guy with how complex it actually is.

The problem:
I’ve got a signal that runs from 0 to 18 Volts. I have an analog to digital converter board that can handle voltages from -10 to 10 volts. I need to essentially subtract 10 volts from my input signal. In C:

signal = signal – 10;


In hardware this involves 4 resistors and operational amplifier and expensive 10 volt reference, two regulators and power supplies to handle the power requirements, and more capacitors than you can shake a stick at. Save me now.

Well, I got some help, cause we employ people who actually know how to do this stuff and he came up with some designs for me. But I had to check them out. He told me what they would do, but I had to confirm, build it, and test it. I was very impressed with myself in how much I remembered. I was able to, in the span of half an hour, figure out the whole thing, including all the intermediate steps. It was just like taking a test in college. I can now add another class to the list of classes where I learned something that I have applied directly in work. There are a lot of those by the way. Maybe OSU CSE isn’t as bad as I thought it was in school.

The circuit didn’t work when I tested it. Today we discovered I managed to screw up and pick the one, in stock, op amp available that is not at all what I need. It was a current feedback amplifier, whatever that is. Apparently there are more than one kind; but can’t blame the ECE department for not telling me that. I’m not supposed to have to worry about this stuff.

New Gloves

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Wow, it’s been more than two weeks since I updated. I’ve been spending most of my words continuing to give internet dating a try. It takes a lot of words, but not so much that I can’t hit an every other week target for the blog. Anyways, today’s story starts on the most recent first date I went on as a result of all the words spent on internet dating. The plan was to go to dinner followed by ice skating with an option for coffee afterward. Coffee, of course, means hot chocolate for me, cause I don’t drink anything else served at a coffee shop.

I met the girl after walking to the T. I was, of course, sporting my nice coat and my one pair of dressy-ish leather (or faux leather) warm gloves. She was late so I had to wait inside for a while, and so I took the gloves off and shoved them in my kind of small coat pocket. That was the last time I remember having the right handed one. When we got off the T I went to put them on and it was missing. By the time I was sure I didn’t have it the train was gone and any chance to go back was lost, so I didn’t mention it.

I did alright without gloves until it was time to ice skate; most of that time was at dinner anyways. And, actually, I did well at ice skating without them as well. My date suggested that I could improve my technique my making less use of my arms, and keeping them in my pockets was a good way to remember not to use them. My ice skating technique is most akin to how I ski when I need to pick up speed on flat ground, it takes wide strokes and a lot of energy. Not using the arms did help; although, I feel square on my ass once this time, an increase from my previous attempts of one. While skating I noticed that I was not the only one without gloves, my date was also gloveless having forgotten. Apparently, that’s part of a pattern for her.

That was Friday; on the following Sunday I went in search of replacement gloves, since getting a back a glove lost somewhere on the Red Line is clearly a crapshoot. As much as I enjoy all the neat little one of restaurants and such that populate Boston’s commercial districts, when I need something quickly, and have strict, known requirments for it, I like to go to the kind of shops I used to from the Midwest. I feel like I’ll be able to get in, get what I need, get out, and pay a fair price more easily with the familiar box stores. I went to Khols. I sent about 20 minutes roving the store in search of winter accessories, eventually finding a clearance rack that looked like the huns had sacked it for months. Sadly after much inspection there were no suitable gloves. The was a Marshalls in the same strip, so I checked it out; having never been there but understanding it to be a closeout kind of place. Also no dice, err gloves.

I considered going to Target, but time was short so I just went to the closest real mall I could think of, the Cambridgeside Galleria. There was a Macys there, jackpot, they will surely… well that had non-lined, women gloves that from the outside kind of looked like what I was looking for, but lets go with no dice. I checked all the other mens’ clothing stores there, all with spring fashions. So, I realize that the clothes come out a season early so people can buy looking forward. But it is literally the dead of winter, and gloves are lost on the T every day. Really, it is to the point that I saw a news story about it. It should not be this hard to find a damn pair of warm dress gloves! So I went home and turned to the internet. After some searching I settled on a good look pair of gloves only to realize they were being sold by Target through In need of gloves quickly, before a possible second date, I went to a Target, but alas they only had the gloves online.

So I looked more on-line and I got the gloves pictured. They came in a package that advertised police gear such as Kevlar vests and other types of badass clothing for police. I think they look pretty damn sharp, especially when I make a fist. They are not as soft and padded inside as the old ones, but they might be warmer since they use some space age insulating material. They fit great, and I have them now, although waiting a week for them was not what I wanted. Sadly a lack of gloves was on the short list of things I had in common with my date, so there will not be another.

Handbell Christmas Concert

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

The second time I ventured out into the snow on Saturday was to go see my buddy Krishna play a holiday concert with his hand-bell quartet.

Start MBTA Rant

This time the bus was more than 25 minutes late. It is as if they just didn’t run one of the buses. I waited at my stop for a about 15 minutes, about half of which were early, just in case. Getting tired of waiting I walked down a few stops until I found a girl who’d been waiting longer than me. We chatted for a bit and I decided to continue walking up to the major street, which has more than one bus running on it. While I was doing this the bus passed me going to other way, but I made it to Concord Ave. and caught a different bus before it caught up to me. The subways didn’t help me make up time forcing me to wait as long as possible for each train and so I was 15 minutes late and missed 1/4 of the concert. Thanks MBTA!

End MBTA Rant

The concert was fun. The quartet plays almost 5 full octaves, which being more than one octave per person involves a lot of running around and other interesting ways to play more notes more often. They do a lot of the arrangements themselves because many of the songs they wanted to play are not commonly arranged for such small groups. Some of the songs they played:

  • Deck the Hall
  • Jingle Bells
  • You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
  • Sleigh Ride
  • O Tannenbaum

Sleigh Ride was particularly good. They had some help with the background sounds, the whip and the snow falling. That helped to prevent me from noticing the notes that they dropped from the song in order to be able to play it. They followed up the concert with an encore performance of Sweet Caroline / Take Me Out to the Ballgame, which is the quartets signature song arranged last spring to honor the Fenway Park tradition. I was glad I ventured out to see them play. As I learned at dinner afterwards half of the quartet is leaving Boston, so this was likely their last performance.

So Much Snow

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much snow fall at once. It snowed from Friday at about 1:30pm until Sunday at about 9pm without stopping for more than an hour in between. I haven’t been able to find a measuring tape but it looks to be more than a foot on the front lawn, and the balcony and the back deck. Work let us out early, so I was home on Friday before the snow hit, thankful to avoid the problems of the snow day last year when it took 2.5 hours to get home. Saturday morning I got up and uncovered the car, which was on the street. We had the driveway plowed by some guy with a plow and I moved the car into the driveway for its 2 week long winter nap. I’ve no plans to dig it out today, I don’t need it since I’ve decied to take my vacation day anyways.

Here I mostly just complain about the MBTA for a paragraph you may want to skip it

I ventured out twice on Saturday. Once to the Harvard Natural History Museum to pick up a Christmas gift I’d had my eye on since I went there in the spring with my mother. That trip was alright. The bus was about 15 minutes late, but I picked it up heading outbound about 5 minutes after it was supposed to arrive heading inbound. It’s not a long loop, and I was happy to ride and be warm instead of waiting in the cold and snow. At this point there was already 8in on the ground. On the way back the bus was running on time apparently so I missed it by 3 minutes. The entire loop takes maybe 25 minutes to run, even in bad weather maybe 35 minutes and they ensure that the bus always leaves Harvard on time, so I don’t see how it could be so late by the time it gets out here 1.5 miles away. I’ll have a post about my other adventure Saturday soon.

Sunday I woke up and finished packing. I waited patiently for my ~6pm flight home to be canceled by the falling snow. I was canceled about 1pm, which was nice only in that I didn’t have to trudge my way to the airport in 6 inches of freshly fallen snow. I spent the day watching Angel, the spin-off series from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I finished season 3, in record time, and started on season 4. I’ve been told season 4 is the best. I thought season 3 wasn’t so bad, so this should be good.

Around 6pm I went out to shovel the snow again. It wasn’t so bad, the snow was heavy but not icy. I cleared the sidewalk and had a good bonding experience with my neighbors who were out uncovering cars and sidewalks themselves. It was still coming down, although lightly, so when I was done one couldn’t see the brick anymore anyways. After that I joined my downstairs neighbor Karen to watch the news. We chatted for more than an hour, which is the most we’ve ever talked.
Afterwards I made myself dinner and watched some more Angel. Anyways that’s the story of my last few days hunkered for the snowstorm. Enjoy the pictures.


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

My dad told me recently, since the election, that he was yet to see this change that “has come to America.” I disagree, but not because I see a grand change to the country, but a small change in myself. I noticed myself reading Ron Paul’s article on where the GOP should go on CNN today. I have agreed with some of his ideas before, and I’m interested to see if he can lead the GOP out of the culture war and into libertarianism, because I think I could support something like that, and I’d like to see it happen. I caught myself, a life long democrat, a bit surprised. You see, now things are scary.

Now, for the first time in my adult life I’m politically without a safety net. I turned 18 during Bush’s first term in office. I had no say in that first contest, and could not be blamed, but already I could cite “I told you so” in my defense. Anything, and everything Bush did wrong was tempered by the fact that he was the other guy, and it was the guy the other people chose who was being so stupid, power hungry, disrespectful of the rule of law and the constitution, ineffective, and wrong. Through it all there was a tinge of rude laughter, “I told you so.” I saw a video during the campaign of a female republican pundit who claimed again and again that no one could see the disasters of the Bush presidency ahead of time. On each issue she broached, I made note that I had seen it coming. Save for the financial crisis of the current year, I did not see that coming, but I don’t attribute it to Bush in any meaningful way either. To be clear, I didn’t see it all in 2000, but I saw it all before it happened.

Now things have changed. If Obama screws up I can not hide behind my cynicism as I have advocated publicly for him. If he leads the country down the wrong path then I am partly to blame. It’s a small part, but it leaves some small part of me looking for the next idea to hide behind. But I can not; I have only to sit in a metaphorical corner crying “Oh shit, what have I done” should he make the wrong choices. That or take solace in the belief that the other guy would have done no better. That doesn’t seem like a message of hope, it is a fear of failure. When all there is, is hope, the fear of failure is small, when a beacon of hope arrives the chance of failure comes with it and the tinge of fear that we won’t be able to make the change is itself a change.

Halloween Inspired Dream

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I don’t tend to remember my dreams very often, so when I do I get excited and write them down as quickly as possible. Then I decided it might be fun to let my subconscious lose on the net. Anyways, this may be a fun story, but um don’t try to read too much into it:

We were at some sort of huge mall complex. So huge that it has a green line like, light rail in the parking lot, that sort of just goes around to all the different buildings. It circles the parking, not the building, there are multiple buildings, but all around the central parking. It is night. I am on the train. I am not headed anywhere in particular. I have some friends with me as I am not alone, but they do not feature prominently. I am wearing my Halloween costume, it may be Halloween, I’m not sure, but it is perfectly normal for me to be wearing it. Other people may, or may not be in costume. I am on the train when costume attacks the attention of a blogger girl who is clearly a hybrid between iJustine, and this girl who was dressed as sexy Darth Vadar at the party I was at last night, but she is not wearing the Darth Vadar mask, or the over sized sunglasses iJustine often wears. She has a fancy bound notebook which reinforces the blogger thing, which is not a costume. She writes her blogs/ takes notes in it. We talk over many stops, this mall place must be huge because we don’t go around in a circle, and it’s a long time. Now waking the conversation escapes me, but its engaging and eventually she’s snuggling me like a cat which feels great in her silk costume. (Ok clearly I thought this girl had a great costume)

Shortly after a large frat boy type, clearly not yet a man, gets on and sits down. In the train car there are doors that can section off different parts (unlike the green line). The doors must be left open (and tucked into the walls) at all times so the driver can see the whole train car and watch for misconduct. The frat boy’s costume or whatever involved showing off his boxers way too much, and makes it problematic for him to keep his pants on, but while hes sitting it’s not a problem, and while crude it is not out of place. He has a friend who sits across from him who does not feature prominently. After a few stops he starts to fiddle around with some things. He does so discreetly, the driver can’t see, but I can. I am sitting closer to the front of the train and the driver than he is. He is on the other side of one of the doors. At the next stop he pulls one of the doors half out and begins rolling a joint behind it, possibly out of view of the driver. This is ballsy, in my mind, and stupid, but befitting his character. (I guess maybe this is on my mind due to the decriminalization of marijuana ballot questions coming up, who knows, there was not any pot at the party, that’s for sure.) He gets pretty far along with his joint rolling, possibly done, and may have handed it clear across the aisle to his friend, but he makes a lot of motion getting to the materials to make another one in his mostly not on pants. He begins rolling, but at this point we’re at a stop and the driver notices. He comes rushing back to put a stop to the illegal activity and takes the two boys off the train and to the mall police immediately. Leaving the rest of us on the train, with nothing to do.

This is the end of the line. The track stops, sort of, it just goes under some legally parked cars. It does eventually stop beyond them, without looping. The driver failed to properly park the train, so it begins to roll forward. Slowly at first, but then fast enough that we notice. The train has emptied more now but my friends and the blogger are still on it now wondering what to do. First how to stop it for our own sake. I take charge since I’m wearing my Redline costume with a T logo, and this is essentially the green line, its certainly operated by the T, and the costume makes me most qualified. We’re futzing around in the divers area, we find the throttle, but its all the way off. We can’t figure out what you have to do to put it into reverse. We try pulling backwards, but it won’t budge. We need to also hold a button or something. We’re getting closer to the cars, about one car length back it dawns on me. Break peddle! I lean over to look for one, it is there, and I begin to push it with my hands. It is really hard to push with my hands, but we’re maybe starting to slow down. We plow into the first of the parallel parked cars, leaving a large dent on the bumper. It in turn hits the next one and a chain of bangs is heard, but we’re slowing. Possibly due to the collision or maybe my breaking efforts. Eventually a occupied parked car moves to avoid being part of the fender bender and the bangs stop. The train is literally going like 3 miles an hour or less here, so its all in slow motion, not intentionally slow, actually slow due to the speed involved. Before hitting anything else we come to a stop.

Having witnessed the crash (the train is perfectly unharmed) some of the observers come running over to help. Most of them are gawkers. One of them is a girl who apparently works for the train line. She is most helpful. She knows how to operate the train and make it go backwards. She backs up the train back to the last stop, which is maybe 100 feet back on the track. She applies the parking break. She is emotionally wrought. Apparently it is her job to take care of the trains at the end of the line, but she was goofing off and now there is property damage. This is a bad night for her now, but she keeps a light spirit. With her, we leave the train, we head to her boss to make a report. He is in a kiosk sort of back around the last curve before the stop. Maybe 200 yards away, but his view of the last stop is hidden by a mall building. There is grass over by the kiosk. We must have made the report, and we’re all milling about in the grass, keeping the T girl happy, and generally having a fine little time. She is not losing her job, she thinks me the hero, I bring up how incapable I was at actually stopping the train. I cite how long it took me to think of a break peddle and then my inability to actuate it for some time. Despite my objections she has described me as the hero to her boss, who later comes out with some sort of rewards sheet where you circle the reward you’d like. It has a bunch of logos and names of famous people you can meet and other sponsors who’ll give you free stuff, none of which I’ve heard of at all. Eventually I notice in the right side middle of the page is the American League Baseball logo. Its a free trip to an AL game, which somehow guarantees that it is a Red Sox game, despite that their logo is not present. It’s unclear if they will be good seats, but I select that. At this point I wake up and the dream is over.

And that’s the story. I definitely want to goto a sox game, I didn’t make it again this year, so free tickets qualify as a happy ending