Monday, September 19, 2005

Things

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Sox are done. Like I said a few days ago, they may hold off the Yankees (I won't count on it), but they just plain don't have the horses right now to get it done. Nixon, Damon, and Varitek are hurting, Kapler is out, Renteria has fallen apart both in the field and at the plate, and their pitching is a wreck. Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo are pitching great, but otherwise you have no idea what you'll get from a starter, Miller was a bust and will be going back under the knife, and Foulke is probably done. On the bright side, Manny has been solid, Ortiz amazing, and Timlin has been a rock in the bullpen - and the two kids (Papelbon and Delcarmen) have shown signs of being the future. I'll be happy if we get anything more from this team, but I'm looking forward to seeing them next year.

The Pats finally lost a game. Go figure. I commented a little yesterday, but the shock is still fresh.

In a non-sports note, if you happened to watch SmackDown by accident this past Friday (they changed the night), Ken Kennedy is going to be the next huge star if they handle him right. He's got ring skill, intensity, he's brilliant on the mic, and he just oozes charisma. Kennedy and John Cena can be the future of the company if they do it right - but Cena needs to step down from the top spot for a few months and work on his ring skills. He can still have a good match with the right opponent (which is probably why he's working a program with Kurt Angle - Angle could make me look good in the ring), but his matches have become way too predictable and the crowd backlash is starting to mount.

Completely unrelated - my favorite webcomic (MegaTokyo) has finally started to advance the plotline after meandering for about a year. This is good. Even when it sucks, MegaTokyo is still a terrific piece of work, but right now it's getting good again.

I have a fairly busy week through Thursday, then a possible all-day job on Friday that I'll need to confirm in a couple of days. If all goes well, I can take a couple of days off next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

If an office supply chain falls down

...and nobody cares, does it matter?

Seriously, I'm jotting this quickie just before going to bed because I just read that Office Depot announced they were going to close 27 stores (16 here, 11 overseas). The announcement was made five days ago, but hardly anyone noticed. Basically, ever since the aborted merger quite a few years ago, they've been Staples' bitch, anyways. They already pulled out of the northeast once, realized it was a mistake, and then got back in too expensively by buying a bunch of Toys R Us' locations. They bought a bunch of low-end Internet retailers to get into tech sales. They're wasting money on NASCAR sponsorship when the target audience doesn't really match up (though Office Depot is strongest in the South).

Basically, they haven't got a clue, and are a weak #3 in a market where Staples has busted it open and OfficeMax is picking up the scraps.

Scratch one reader...

As of today, I will no longer be making sure to check the New York Times' website every morning. They have now taken all their op-ed content and locked it behind a $50/year gateway called Times Select - although they've added some incentives I don't find them valuable enough to justify $50 just to see the op-ed and sports columns. I fully expect readership to decline somewhat as a result, even if revenue starts to go up. The shame of it is that most columns are about a paper's trying to extend their voice and influence to a wider sphere - the nitty-gritty of news coverage is what I think would drive subscriptions.

If anything, going to this model is likely to weaken the Times' voice right when it needs to be heard loudest. The paper of record may not be such much longer.

Sports report

What a day. I've obviously lost all my ability to pick NFL games - had I gone the exact reverse of all my picks I might have won the Newsguy pool this week. It was that bad. Then the Sox got slaughtered (at least the Yankees lost too), and the immensely annoying Ryan Newman won the NASCAR race up in Loudon today. At least the race had some entertaining moments and temper flare-ups - the baseball game lacked any excitement and the Pats game only had the Vrabel interception return as a highlight moment. Belichick was curiously sloppy, failing to challenge on the 1st quarter Davis touchdown that was actually a fumble, and the Brady fumble that might have been an incompletion. Surprising. Even the Pats have to be human on occasion, though.

Busy week coming up, in week 1 of "no minivan warranty" world (I hit the magic number on the way to brunch at Flynnie's today). I will be doing some local stops during the week, along with trips to Boston, Norwood, and Stoneham before the week is up. If all is well, I should be able to take a day or two off the following week (I was originally planning to go on vacation then), but who knows at this point?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Torn

Under the original plan, I should have been asleep by now. However, for the second year in a row there's a tropical storm passing by the area as our bikes are supposed to be heading towards P-town. This year, though, we have a rain date scheduled - in the event of rain Saturday the event is supposed to be held Sunday.

The problem seems to be logistics, though. If it were me running the ride, it would be a no-brainer - cancel Saturday and ride Sunday. Simple enough. But there's also a whole bunch of festivities planned for Provincetown Saturday night and Sunday morning, plus many of the riders have rooms rented for the night out there. So they've come up with a mediocre solution: unless the weather is truly horrid, they plan to ride anyway in the morning, and just ride to the foot of the Cape (about 60 miles), then bus out to Provincetown and have the festivities on schedule. If the weather is still bad in the morning, that will be cancelled and replaced with a ride from Provincetown back to Bourne (68 miles) on Sunday morning at 11. I don't like it when people start tinkering with contingency plans. If it's raining Saturday you ride Sunday. Period. That's why you call it a "rain date".

I don't think it's especially safe or smart to try riding in marginal conditions, and since Jane has to work regardless of whether I go or not, we need a babysitter if I go. If I go and the ride is cancelled until Sunday, then we still have a babysitter all day Saturday. I'm not planning on overnighting at any point, so I'm not going to gain any benefit by going to P-town to wait for Sunday.

So here's the call I made: I'm not riding tomorrow (as mentioned above) no matter what happens with the weather. If the ride is cancelled tomorrow, I will go out to Provincetown on the first Sunday morning ferry and ride back. If the ride isn't cancelled tomorrow, I just won't go. AIDS education, treatment, and prevention is a cause that is important to me, but my family comes first.

Besides that, it's been a heck of a busy week for me. I put in a full week at Adlife, took care of a few of my other customers during the week as well, and filled up my calendar for next week. Business is very good right now, and I'm very grateful for it.

When Gabe Kapler went down with his Achilles' injury a couple of nights ago, I mentally gave up on 2005 for the Sox. So I'm not bugged too much by their problems right now. There's just too many people hurt and just plain sub-par on that team for them to win another title, I think, even if they hold off the Yankees (who are winning with smoke and mirrors right now). 2005 is playing with house money right now, anyways. I think the likeliest outcome is that the Sox hold on to win the East, and go down in the ALCS.

Next year should be better regardless of what happens in the next few weeks - we will likely have a fully healed Schilling back, a (hopefully) re-signed Damon, and a healthy Miller (who has showed signs of getting his stuff back). The sticking point is Keith Foulke - part of me thinks that he basically used up his body last year and then used up his mind this year. And we're on the hook for two more years with him as well (or one and a buyout).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Busy me

I'm typing this as I prepare to go get lunch - I'm down in Norwood right now, on Day 2 of a stint that will take me through the entire week. I'm the fill-in sysadmin at the ad agency I used to work for, and I'm doing a lot of break-fix work. Tomorrow, though, I start my day at another client at 6:30 in the morning to help debug a NetWare backup issue before driving here, and then Wednesday afternoon I have to go to Boston to do a Mac install. Besides that, I have a BNUG meeting tomorrow night, and an orientation meeting Friday evening in Boston before Harbor to the Bay on Saturday.

But other than that, not too much... I got in a good training ride yesterday - about 56 miles or so (to Newburyport and back). And David is getting interested in potty use. So that's good, too. I'm pretty well booked through the end of the month for the most part, and that is the best part of all right now!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nice Kit

iPod Nano - wicked freakin' cool. It'd be nice if it came in 4GB and 8GB versions instead of 2 and 4, but it's still a pretty darn good value despite that.

iTunes 5 - new skin. Meh. It's OK, I guess, but not as exciting as I would have liked in a full point release. I think the biggest argument for calling it iTunes 5 is that the previous version was 4.9.

Motorola ROKR phone. Nice. I'll stick with my Treo, though.

The Nano will sell like hotcakes and destroy what little part of the flash-based player market wasn't already owned by Apple with the Shuffle. My only disappointment is that there was no Shuffle upgrade as part of the announcements today - I was hoping to see a 2GB Shuffle hit the market. But that would have overlapped the low end of the Nano line, so I expect no upgraded Shuffle until bigger Nano models come out.

The interesting thing will be to see what Apple Expo Paris in two weeks brings (if anything) - Steve cancelled his planned keynote, so I think that there won't be any major hardware announcements. Maybe a PowerMac speedbump, or possibly the final PowerBook update before Intel models start shipping next year.

Or maybe nothing minor, either.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More milestones

Today was a big one - for the first time, David asked to go to the potty, and after a while he peed in it.

Better still - he wanted his seat put on the toilet instead of using the little potty - so I didn't have to clean up afterwards! A definite bright spot in a weekend otherwise filled with bad behavior. Maybe potty is the light at the end of the tunnel...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A new era begins

With Chief Justice Rehnquist's passing, we enter a difficult time on the Supreme Court. Now a hard-right President gets to replace two justices in a span of only a few months - the key question here is whether he tacks a little towards the center with his next pick. If he announces a centrist appointment this week, it makes it all the more likely that Roberts sails through.

The big question is this: Sandra Day O'Connor turned into a pretty centrist justice during her 24 years on the Court. Slighly right-of-center, but generally supportive of precedent, supportive of individual rights, and supportive of privacy rights. Roberts is generally seen as more conservative than O'Connor was (based on what's known about him so far), but may not quite be the reliable right-wing vote that Rehnquist was. A Rehnquist court with Roberts on it probably breaks 5-4 in the other direction more often than it has, but if Rehnquist's replacement is more centrist than who knows?

Of course, knowing Bush, he'll probably appoint one of the far-right judges that didn't make the cut for the first vacancy. Or he'll hold off on an appointment until after the Roberts hearings are over. Because our President is not exactly known for making conciliatory centrist gestures now, is he?

On that note, it's sleep time - I've got a 40 mile bike ride waiting for me in the morning...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Waxing Philosophical

I'm personally pretty conservative in many of my views, though I refuse to impose them on others (which makes me a liberal by today's standards). I'm a capitalist through and through, despite realizing that supply side is a bunch of bunko. I'm an entrepreneur trying to build a company, and if it succeeds (so far, so good) I fully deserve all the rewards I earn. I believe in limited government, but I'm also a Democrat.

And watching New Orleans descend into "Lord of the Flies"-hood over the last few days has really made me think a lot about it all. The bottom line is this: I don't believe in socialism. I think government shouldn't be in the business of redistributing wealth. But I also think that the consequences of simply looking out for yourself are crystal-clear: when civilization goes away, the haves will inevitably get destroyed by the have-nots who resent and detest them.

Heck, in New Orleans the haves made it out of town for the most part. The ones who were foolish enough to stay are paying the price - when everyone else got flooded out of their homes and destroyed everything left standing.

I'm not saying that you should all go out and tithe your money to charity. But remember. What you do with your money, your life, and your planet just may come back and bite you in the ass if you don't keep your fellow humans and this planet in mind.

Just a thought.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans

This week's disaster in New Orleans shows what can happen when you build a city below water level, add poorly maintained infrastructure, an indifferent federal government, insufficient resources and preparation, and a "party it out" mentality that arises in folks who are regularly threatened by major storms.

The solution? I'm not sure, but I think the smartest thing they could do is simply level the city and start over somewhere nearby that's above-grade. Call it "Newer Orleans" and let the original city's ruins stand as a monument to human hubris.

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