Archive for August, 2008

Obama & Biden

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

I haven’t had a political post, or any post at all for that matter, in a while. I’ve been busy moving, but I found a bit of an update on the whole Obama voting for the FISA bill thing. He did actually respond to the members of the Get FISA Right group, the by far largest group on his social networking site. He actually did this almost 2 months ago, I just missed it. The summary is what you would expect to hear from someone in his position. It espouses the idea that it is a good compromise, that he wouldn’t have drafted the legislation, and that it is important for us to remain activists despite that he’s not listening to us this time. Its basically a lot of pandering, don’t be mad at me and not vote bullshit, but it’s at least somewhat of an improvement over the Bush administration, in that he does actually respond as though he did actually hear us.

Of course, up until he jumped the FISA ship I was hopeful that things would improve by much more than that episode reveals Obama is willing to go. I have since been in a bit of a political funk. It’s been a good time to be in a political funk since not much has been going on anyways. Suffice it to say I have not been watching the convention. I have only one thought on the matter of party unity that is so central to goals of the convention. That idea is to have Hillary Clinton be the one to lay out a good bit of the party platform. Mind you, this is not her platform, but the party platform – over which Obama has much control. I think that all the Hillary-ites, who are so mad, will likely be appeased if it appears that she still has a large say in the party platform (which may well be true). It seems the best way to make it appear that way is to have her say it. Essentially, Obama’s words, filtered through the party, coming out of her mouth. I think that would work much better than repeated calls for unity, which can ring empty.

Finally, I suppose I’ll say a bit about Joe Biden for Vice-President. Of the field of however many candidates there were last fall my three favorites (based on debate coverage alone) were Biden, Dodd, and Obama. I apparently didn’t blog about this, but many of you may have heard me say I liked them. I still like Biden, whose signature campaign idea was the breakup of Iraq into three countries; I still think that may prove to be the best plan. I have since learned that he is not on the right side of the Net Neutrality Debate. I think, however, that he may actually have less power over the way that debate goes as Vice-President than he would as an actual senator. Obama, and the FCC appear to be on the good side, so there is not as much to worry about there as there was in the recent past. Biden did vote to get FISA Right, which is a very large plus for me. I don’t know how/if he helps the electoral votes number game, but I’m happy to have him on the ticket.

Outer Banks Trip

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

This year my family’s annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with one of my best friends from back home’s family was in August. I got back about a week ago but I’ve been too busy with moving to write up a post. The trip was fun, but I was too busy flying my new kite, watching the Olympics, and playing some Diablo 2 to take out my camera. I did take out the camera during my flights there and back.

First things first, in the Boston airport under some of the seats they now have new electric sockets for charing phones and laptops. They also have usb charging ports, so those of us with the right cable can use those and free up the electric socket for someone else:

Now on to the flight. Cape Cod:

Martha’s Vineyard:

Week of fun at the beach.

On the flight back I got a great view of New York City. The harbor:

Manhattan Panorama:

New Haven, CT:

I didn’t get any nice shots of Boston due to our approach pattern, but I did get a nice one of a lighthouse in Boston Harbor right before we landed:

Kennebec White Water Rafting

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

On July 27th a bunch of us from my Wednesday Night Dinner group went white water rafting on the Kennebec River in Maine. It was a great time, we camped, kayaked, rafted, and cooked dinner over a fire. We drove up Saturday, stayed overnight, rafted Sunday morning and then drove home. It was a long trip, we were only ~35 miles from Canada. This was the first time I got to use my tent or otherwise come anywhere close to camping since moving it to Boston. The weather was perfect – it was 70 and partly sunny, although; it did rain a bit during the night, which eliminated the chance to do some star gazing.

Kayaking was on a nearby lake, and included an encounter with a loon. We came upon a what appeared to be a duck, at least until it opened it’s mouth to make a sound – then we knew it was no duck. After a few minutes worth of calling by the first loon, a second arrived. This one had a baby loon on its back. It seemed to be about 1.5 times the size of a baseball. It climbed off, presumably, its mother’s back and into the water. We had two kayaks approaching in on it from different directions, on a line running right through the family’s present location. They made a dash, as fast as the little one could swim in the perpendicular direction. We did not follow, it was very cute.

The surprising thing was that the water was also ~70 degrees. It is a damn controlled river, but they must release from the top of the lake or something to get those temperatures. The river was also strange in some other ways. First, we put in within sight of the damn, maybe only 100 meters downstream. To get to the put in there was a huge stairway to take down fully inflated rafts, carried by us. There were immediately 3 large rapids – two class 3’s and then a class 4. The class 4 was a ~6 foot waterfall. The water was big and it was hard to paddle so hard so close to the start of the run. It was also interesting, going over the waterfall they actually told us not to paddle but instead get the paddle away from us and hold onto some rope in the raft. It was quite the departure from the never stop paddling mantra I’ve learned.

The rest of the river, however, was quite different from the first, say, 30 minutes of it. There were only a handful of class 2 rapids the entire rest of the 4 hour trip. So here we are in these enormous 10 person rafts, which were needed to get through the big water upstream, but which make class 2 rapids super lame. It appears the company was well aware of this problem. After lunch they trucked in a double ducky raft for each raft, so that people could trade in an out of a smaller boat (where the smaller rapids would be more fun). They also let us swim pretty much the entire rest of the river. It was ok, but I would not go back to this river unless I was either in a smaller boat, or only did the top few miles (and did them multiple times).

Also, the lunch on river was simply amazing. A pre-trip choice of chicken, steak, or salmon with rice, pasta salad and cookies. There was also gorp, lemonade, ice tea, and water while we were waiting for the real meal to cook.

Google Maps Walking Directions

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Maybe this is old news, but I just noticed today that google maps now has walking directions! They did not import properly into the embeddable frame though, but heres a screen shot and a link.

It knows that you can walk through Boston Common, and it knows where the paths are so you don’t just cut across the grass like a hillbilly. It also takes the esplanade and some of the paths near MIT. It did not, however, take the bike path near my house, there’s no faint line for it either, so that does make some sense. They do warn that it is in beta and that one should “use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas.”