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June 30, 2004

We're 6-0-1!

My soccer team won 11-1 tonight -- four goals by women at two points each, and three goals by men -- making us 6-0-1 on the season so far. I wish I could say that I had something to do with the win, but I was playing hobbled, with a strained tendon in my left ankle. Just as my right knee and right hamstring are feeling better, now I'm struggling with yet another injury. We have a long break over the holiday week, and I'm looking forward to plenty of no-impact exercise, hopefully coming back 100 percent and raring to go.

I felt bad for the other team. The ball was on the other side of the field so much that I exchanged a few words with one of their forwards. "I've been playing for 10 years and this is the first time I'm not having any fun," she said. "We have too many competing male egos on our team." I suppose our team's good attitude could simply be a result of winning so much -- which tends to smooth over everything -- but I think it's deeper than that. We have fun, but we also practice consistently. I asked the forward if her team practiced. "We mean to every week, but it never happens," she said. Also, cognizant of the two-point goals, our midfielders work hard to get the ball to the women playing up front.

I feel lucky to be on the team I'm on.

June 28, 2004

Canadian Elections

Canada's national elections are today. The Economist has this to say:

Six months ago... Paul Martin seemed to be stepping into an enviable inheritance. Under the Liberals' stewardship since 1993, Canada's economy was transformed from a debt- and deficit-ridden disaster to one of the best performers in the rich world. [Former Prime Minister Jean] Chrétien had seemingly buried, if not quite killed, the threat of secession by French-speaking Quebec. The Liberal embrace of immigration, cultural diversity and bold reforms such as gay marriage seemed to speak of a tolerant and self-confident country. This newspaper was much impressed by Canada's mix of tough-minded economic management and social liberalism. Last year we ventured to suggest that Canada might be "rather cool". So thought many Canadians: in December, polls gave the Liberals almost 50% against a fragmented opposition...

[T]he voters now look unlikely to give [Martin] a mandate worth having. The probable outcome of the general election due on June 28th seems to be a weak and maybe short-lived minority government...

So why are the voters so unimpressed with Mr Martin and the Liberals? Mainly because of a widespread sense that after 11 years they have been in power too long. That was crystallised by a corruption scandal in Quebec, which will cost many votes there. But the Liberals are also wounded by the power struggle between Mr Chrétien and Mr Martin. Instead of running on his record as finance minister, Mr Martin chose to pretend that he was heading a wholly new government.

The trouble is, his brief tenure as prime minister has been singularly ineffective. His advisers have been good at only one thing: knifing their fellow-Liberal rivals in the back -- and even then Mr Chrétien did it better... Otherwise, Mr Martin has been a bumbling and hesitant chief executive, trying to placate all voters. During the campaign, he has often seemed tired...

Though Canada will not fall apart under a minority government, it might not progress much either, and the public finances could be weakened. If the Liberals do squeak back it will be by default, as Canada's only national party. That should be a warning. If he does win, Mr Martin needs to forget about his differences with Mr Chrétien, and focus on the needs of Canadians: more efficient Medicare, a serious defence policy and fixing provincial finance. Otherwise, a Liberal defeat may only have been postponed.

Let's see here:

  • A left-of-center government in power for many years
  • A long period of sustained economic growth
  • Consistent federal budget surpluses
  • No engagement in serious international conflicts
  • A generally content populace
  • A former second-in-command trying to distance himself from the former leader
Now what does this remind me of?

To my Canadian friends, for what it's worth, we in the US have gone down this path. We threw the Democrats out of the White House after a spectacular eight-year run. The results have not exactly been what we were promised -- "compassionate conservatism" and a "humble" foreign policy. And we've had four years of poor economic performance and budget deficits going into the stratosphere. I hope you think carefully about what you're doing. I rather like Canada the way it is.

June 27, 2004

An Outsider's Perspective of the US

This is from an overseas friend -- part of a recent e-mail exchange we had that covered geopolitical issues, especially the Bush Administration and how it is perceived by foreigners.

I think my perception of the US (at a national rather than individual level) has changed over the last four years -- and that ironically the US is by far the greatest threat to world peace that there is now. Think of it this way -- if someone presented to you a country that:
  • Has the world's largest supply of weapons of mass destruction
  • Doesn't recognise that citizens of other countries have civil rights -- see below
  • Doesn't have an excellent civil rights record in own country -- see below
  • Is known to engage in torture of prisoners of war
  • Is the world's largest economic power -- of which substantial amounts are invested in 'defence'
  • And most frighteningly -- appears to be increasingly paranoid about other countries' intentions
If you knew of a country with these attributes -- would you not be a little worried?

My reference to the civil rights issues for citizens of other countries relates firstly to Guantanamo Bay (it's appalling that Bush calls it a 'war' on terror, and then refuses to grant the inmates there the rights of prisoners of war. Even if it's not a war -- why are they any less worthy of these rights than others?). And do you remember the uproar when the Iraqis showed pictures of American prisoners of war early on in the war? At least they were relatively healthy and safe. The hypocrisy of the uproar about those pictures against what subsequently happened is astounding.

And re the reference to civil rights in your own country -- I have to say that as the wealthiest country in the world, I find it a little odd that you can't find enough money to have a comprehensive welfare system and a comprehensive public health system. I was amazed at the large number of homeless people in Washington when I visited there last year. And is it true that your people are not guaranteed to get hospital care? For the country with the most sophisticated health system in the world -- again, truly amazing.

What am I supposed to say to this? I can't refute a word of it.

I can't blame anyone for being frightened of the US right now. They should be. The only reason we're not more of a threat is that our military is currently so over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan.

June 25, 2004

More on the No Sidewalks-Obesity Link

I've blogged before about the link between unwalkable towns and obesity. Now comes word from Nature of a recent conference focused on this very issue:

Public-health officials in the United States are proposing a new and drastic way to fight the onslaught of obesity: they want to redesign entire towns to make them exercise-friendly...

Many recent health campaigns urge people to walk, cycle or be otherwise active during the day. But that's easier said than done; in a typical US housing estate, the only way to reach workplaces, shops and schools is by car. Many streets lack pavements, and cycle paths are virtually unheard of.

To really fight the flab, US public-health officials are now realizing that they may have to change the entire layout of towns. The suburban mansion and sport-utility vehicle (SUV) may fulfil the American dream, they say, but it is taking an unforeseen toll on health.

One study from last year compared the health of people living in foot-friendly city areas with that of those dwelling in sprawling, car-dependent suburbs. People's average weight and level of hypertension rose along with the degree of sprawl...

To tackle the problem, obesity experts, town planners and architects, among others, came together in Washington DC last week to focus on obesity and the built environment. Delegates were queuing up to attend the conference, says organizer Allen Dearry of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. "It struck a nerve," he says.

I'm about to move from the small town of Apex (population 20,212) to the larger town of Cary (population 94,536). I've never seen a greenway in Apex (though supposedly they exist), and there are no sidewalks that traverse it. Meanwhile, Cary is criss-crossed with greenways, and has an extensive (though incomplete) network of sidewalks.

The irony of this is that I've had to give up walking for exercise -- to try to let the inflamed cartilage in my knee heal, I'm avoiding any lower-body impact exercise (running, walking, etc.) aside from soccer, which I refuse to give up. On non-soccer days, it's the elliptical machines at the gym for me. But still... it will be nice knowing the trails and sidewalks are there when my knee is better.

June 24, 2004

We're 5-0-1!

The now-obligatory soccer match report: my team won 7-0, making us 5-0-1 on the season -- or as our captain Tony says, "five, oh, and a sister kiss."

My daughter Kelsey went with me to cheer us on this evening. Well, that and watch boys. Okay, mostly watch boys. But she was there! Seriously, she was very sweet to come along with me. After the game, I asked her how she thought I had played. She considered my question carefully. "You're determined," she said.

I'll take "determined."

June 23, 2004

Copyright Bizarreness

Via boing boing, via Joe Gratz, comes word of an interesting copyright infringement case:

Frank Field points to this press release from Irdial Records describing their settlement of a copyright dispute with WEA International.

Here's the story. Irdial put out a CD full of recordings of shortwave "numbers stations" called The Conet Project. The numbers stations are broadcast anonymously and more or less everyone acknowledges they have something to do with international espionage. For this reason, the recordings themselves are probably either not covered by copyright at all (in the case of recordings made by the United States government) or are protected by rights that are extremely unlikely to be enforced, since doing so would blow the broadcaster's cover.

Wilco sampled one of these recordings at the end of "Poor Places" on their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot -- a numbers station repeating the words "Yankee... Hotel... Foxtrot". The sample was taken from the Conet Project CD. Irdial sued WEA, Wilco's record company, for copyright infringement in the UK. They claim, first, that their recording is unique because of the radio interference that surrounds it, and that this interference gives them a copyright in the recording. Second, they edited the recording to make it more interesting. Third, they processed the recording to make it clearer. Each of these, they say, gives them exclusive rights in their recording.

Now from the press release itself:

The recording we made of YHF was not made directly from the source of the people who originated the transmission, in other words, we did not go to the building of the originators, and plug our cassette machine into their tape machine to make this recording directly. This is a personally made recording of a shortwave transmission, with all of the nuances, noises and distortions short wave radio produces. These distortions, nuances and noises make our recording unique, and completely remove it from being a literal duplication of the original source. It is in art terms a piece of "Found Art", unique to itself, and impossible to replicate, since the above-mentioned qualities of shortwave interference are random effects.

In another context, imagine if we had made use of an anonymously authored traditional carol, which is copyright free. We make a creative use of this free work, and publish it in a special book of traditional Christmas carols, which have been typeset and designed by us. If someone then took a scan of one of the pages from our book, and then made a Christmas card out of it, or took this scan to use in their own book of Christmas carols, our copyright would have been infringed, irrespective of the fact that the original carol was copyright free. This example put to rest the argument that the recording of Phonetic Alphabet NATO is not protected by copyright, and that Irdial are indeed, the owners of it.

The key phrase is "we make a creative use of this free work." Irdial is claiming that the mere act of recording something over the air is making "a creative use of the work." By their logic, anyone, anywhere, anytime who records anything off the air is creating a derivative work (if what they are recording is protected by copyright) or an original work (if the source material is not protected by copyright). This is a bizarre argument. It equates tuning a radio dial with artistic expression.

The recording of Phonetic Alphabet NATO is directly analogous to a hydrophone recording of whale song. When a marine biologist makes a recording of Sperm Whales, the copyright of that recording belongs to the person or institute that made it. No secondary use of that recording can be made without the permission of the person or entity that made the recording; the physical recording itself is copyrighted, meaning that you cannot make a copy from that physical tape, minidisk or CDR without the explicit permission of the person who made it.
This is even more bizarre as an argument. Irdial is equating phonetic alphabet broadcasts with animal sounds. By definition, animals are not people and so cannot hold copyright (or any other property). Of course the biologist owns the recording he or she makes: the animal can't.

By Irdial's logic, if I'm using a radio -- from a walkie-talkie to a ham radio -- to talk with a friend, and I don't explicitly identify myself and claim copyright, then anyone can record my broadcast, copyright it, and control the use of it as they see fit. This cannot possibly be the case.

June 22, 2004

"I Am Beautiful Only Because You Are"

I was on the phone with a friend the other night when her just-turned-nine-year-old daughter delivered to her the following handwritten note, reproduced here verbatim:

You are the best mom on earth did you know that? You are so beautiful you literaly should be a modle on TV & in magizines. I am beautiful only because you are.

PS Can you make us dinner now please?

As my friend read it to me, neither of us could stop laughing. Later, she wrote to me:

She was very distraught that I was laughing about this. I had to explain to her what was funny about the whole thing because she didn't make the connection between her letter and the PS... but it's funny just the same.

We're 4-0-1!

I've been so busy lately that it seems the only blog entries I have time for are soccer-related. I keep saying I'm going to make the time and get back to other topics, but it just hasn't happened yet.

My soccer team won again last night, 2-1, making us 4-0-1 on the season. It was a good game and I feel like I'm improving a bit each time I'm out there. Not that we track such things, but last night I had my first assist on a goal, which was fun.

After the game, I said to my teammates that one of the things I liked about us was how enthusiastic we were to get out on the field. I noticed during the game that our opponents were having to coax substitutes off the sidelines to come in for them. With us, it's the other way around.

As for the one tie we've had, we confirmed last night that the direct kick (i.e., a kick awarded on a penalty that goes straight into the goal without touching a player) on which our opponents tied us should not have taken place under our league's rules, so we're protesting the decision. We might end up 5-0.

June 17, 2004

We're 3-0-1!

I know, I know: I've completely given my blog over to discussion of soccer and related injuries. At least it seems that way. And I know that I could probably count all the people who care on one hand (and have fingers to spare). But it's what has been on my mind of late. At some point, I'll settle down, it will become routine, and I'll get back to blogging about more popular topics. I'll also work on upgrading to the latest version of Movable Type so that I can re-enable comments.

Anyway, our soccer team won again last night, 5-2, making us 3-0-1 on the season so far. I came out with about five minutes left in the first half and our unofficial co-captain complimented me on my play. I replied, "I actually started to feel like I was a soccer player out there." I meant that as opposed to feeling like someone playing the role of a soccer player and faking it. There were moments of decision where I felt like I knew what I was supposed to do without thinking about it. And there were moments where I did what felt right and it worked out. It wasn't quite at the transcendant level of learning to carve parallel turns, but it was up there.

It turns out that I didn't pull my thigh muscle, I tore it. I'm now the proud owner of the largest bruise I've ever seen on anyone in my life. In fact, the people who have seen it have all said it's the worst bruise they've ever seen. That's because it's not a bruise in the typical sense of the word -- it's discoloration where the muscle tear bled out. But I've played two games on it, and actually felt like I was playing at 80-90 percent last night, so it can't be too bad.

June 15, 2004

We're 2-0-1

My soccer team, the Defenders, played to a tie last night, so we're 2-0-1. We had a number of new players on our team, so I think we did well to come together as we did. Personally, I was happy to be playing at all.

Sunday morning, I took my daughter for a workout at the gym -- our first together. She wanted to focus on weight training, so that's what we did. I never do lower-body work when I'm lifting, and she wanted to, so we included some of that in our workout. Not being used to it, I pulled a muscle in my right thigh, though I didn't realize it at the time. During my cardio workout afterwards, I felt a little pain, but shrugged it off and kept going (mistake #1).

That evening, my team had soccer practice. My sons went with me to help out. As the practice began, I wound back and took a hard kick on the ball and instantly felt the full extent of the pull. Not wanting to miss the practice, I stretched for a while and then hobbled through it (mistake #2). After half an hour of practice, we were challenged to a pickup game by some people on the next field. Despite the fact that I was in pain, and had a game the next night, I played the full half-hour (mistake #3).

I'm sure it's obvious that by the time I woke up Monday morning, I could barely move. I started taking ibuprofen (the anti-inflammatory wonder drug) and stretched before going into work. I took more ibuprofen during the day and stretched again. Then I took yet more ibuprofen and stretched right before the game. Thankfully, I was able to play, and able to run nearly at full speed.

If you're curious, yes, I learned my lesson: at the first sign of pain, stop, figure out what's going on, and treat it appropriately. Had I taken it easy Sunday night, and done the right kind of streches and used an anti-inflammatory, I probably would have been in better condition by game time Monday.

A slightly cynical friend of mine listened to my story yesterday and gave me three weeks before I quit playing. That's not going to happen.

June 11, 2004

"Strange Brew" Revisited

Plastic ran an article this week revisiting that pinnacle of modern cinema, Strange Brew, and I have to admit, I saw things in it I hadn't seen before:

In their brave retelling of that Hamlet thing you might have heard about somewhere, filmmakers Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis dare to put their own spin on the tale, instead of slavishly reproducing it line for line, like that hack Sir Lawrence Olivier. Perhaps sensing that most of the original's inaccessibility to modern audiences derived from the location, they made the bold decision to set the story in Canada as opposed to Denmark. (And hey, as long as we're changing stuff, why not make Hamlet a cute chick, eh?)

Strange Brew introduces us to Pam Elsinore (Hamlet), and her return to Elsinore Brewery after the murder of her father. Her mother Gertrude has recently remarried, and a strange ghostly visitation by the deceased points the finger at her new father-in-law, Claude. But from there, the film breathes its own life (with a suspiciously strong smell of beer) into the classic characters, making them into people that a modern audience of drunken louts and college kids -- same thing, eh? -- can relate to, while still paying homage to Shakespeare's classic tale of love and revenge.

The end result may seem to put a positive spin on what were formally tragic events in the original, but still manages to remain true to the source material. For instance, Ophelia (in the guise of a retired hockey player named Rosie La Rose) dies, but is revived by drinking from the blessed beer bottles of Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). And in Moranis and Thomas' retelling -- unlike that one with the guy who played Sid Vicious -- the two hapless assistants manage to escape the doom prescribed to them in Shakespeare's original. In fact, they assist our "Hamlette" in tracking down her father's murderers and dole out justice.

Take off, indeed.

And then there was this comment on the story:

One of the Lord of the Rings movies I went to in the theater had a long, sweeping shot of a devistated battlefield. During this shot, someone in the audience started reciting the beginning to The Mutants of 2051 A.D.:
It was 10 years after World War 4... 2051... the future. I was the only one left on the planet after the holocaust, eh. The earth had been like dezvistated by nuclear war. Like Russia blew up the US and the US blew up Russia. There wasn't much to do. All the bowling alleys had been wrecked. So's I spent most of my time looking for beer.
I just about peed myself laughing.

June 10, 2004

"Children Need Encouragement..."

Via Rob Lockstone, a quote from the ever-funny Jack Handey:

Children need encouragement. So if a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way, he develops a good, lucky feeling.

We're 2-0!

My soccer team is now 2-0, after a 6-2 win last night. I play in a coed league in which goals by women count for two points. One of our two primary forwards is a woman and she had three goals last night, one on a penalty kick. So far, the team is doing a good job of feeding her the ball and she's doing a great job of being in position to make plays.

I felt like I played a little better last night. I went on a walk Tuesday with my son Duncan, who has played defense for soccer teams for many years now, and he gave me some good tips. I found it quite rewarding to be learning from my own child. There was something gratifying about him having things to teach me instead of it always being the other way around. I think that's a good sign.

In any case, as I wrote to a friend:

I have a lot to learn. Where to stand on a near corner. Where to stand on a far corner. Where to stand on our own corner. When to push up. When to fall back. How to defend one-on-one. When to cross. When to clear.
Of course, my first thought was to turn to the Internet. Amazingly, at first search, I couldn't find a free "how to play soccer" resource on the Web. I would have thought there would be something just like that. Market opportunity?

June 09, 2004

Self-Replicating Machines in a Decade?

100 years from now, this may well be viewed as the most significant news story of the week:

A useful self-replicating machine could be less complex than a Pentium IV chip, according to a new study (PDF, 1.73 MB) performed by General Dynamics for NASA.

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems recently concluded a six-month study for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts that examined the design of "kinematic cellular automata," a reconfigurable system of many identical modules. Through simulations, the researchers demonstrated the feasibility of this kind of self-replication, which could in a decade or more lead to the mass manufacture of molecularly precise robots, display monitors and integrated circuits that can be programmed in the field, the study said.

Via KurzweilAI.net.

June 08, 2004

"The Rest of Us Have Been Given a Pass"

This column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times says more eloquently than I could how I feel about the Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq right now:

Last week the Army had to make the embarrassing disclosure that it did not have enough troops available to replenish the forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. So in addition to extending the deployment of many of the troops already in the war zones, the Army announced that it would prevent soldiers from leaving the service -- even if their voluntary enlistments were up -- if their units were scheduled to go to Iraq or Afghanistan...

In any event, the Army is so over-extended, stretched so dangerously thin, that most knowledgeable observers, whatever their take on the war in Iraq, have described the stop-loss policy as inevitable...

The stop-loss policy is the latest illustration of both the danger and the fundamental unfairness embedded in the president's "what, me worry?" approach to the war in Iraq. Almost the entire burden of the war has been loaded onto the backs of a brave but tiny segment of the population -- the men and women, most of them from working-class families, who enlisted in the armed forces for a variety of reasons, from patriotism to a desire to further their education to the need for a job.

They never expected that the failure of their country to pay for an army of sufficient size would result in their being trapped in a war zone with the exit doors locked when their enlistments were up.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have been given a pass. The president has not asked us to share in the sacrifice and we haven't demanded the opportunity to do so. We're not even paying for the war. It's being put on credit cards issued in the names of future generations.

For America's privileged classes, this is the most comfortable war imaginable. There's something utterly surreal about a government cutting taxes and bragging about an economic boom while at the same time refusing to provide the forces necessary to relieve troops who are fighting and dying overseas.

We should stop the madness. A president who is sending troops into the crucible of combat has an obligation to support them fully and treat them fairly...

Mr. Bush has always been quick to characterize himself as a wartime president. But he's never been candid about the true costs of war, about the terrible suffering and extreme sacrifices that wars always demand.

June 07, 2004

We're 1-0!

One of the items on my list of things to do in life has been to play soccer in a league. I haven't played an organized team sport since I was in high school (and that was orienteering, the kind of sport where you get a letter but get made fun of if you have the temerity to sew it on your jacket).

I finally joined the Triangle Adult Soccer League for their coed summer session and my team, the Defenders, had its first game tonight. We won, 3-1! What a nice way to start my soccer playing days.

Early on in the game, I happened to be in the right place at the right time and came this close to scoring the first goal. My shot went just over the net. It was luck, because after that, my lack of experience showed. I know I have a lot to learn. But what fun!

Why didn't I do this a long time ago?

"Life Isn't About Finding Yourself..."

This is a wonderful quote from George Bernard Shaw about personal growth and how we should look at it:

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
Via Daily Celebrations.

June 06, 2004

Oh, the Irony

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June 05, 2004

"Buddhism Without Beliefs"

I've been reading an amazing book, Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor. In essence, it's Buddhism for agnostics. The more I read about Buddhism, the more I read that most of my perception of it -- temples, statues, monks in robes, prayer wheels, lamas reincarnated in children, and so on -- has been added on by successive generations of people over the last 2,500 years. Stripping all that away leaves something that's more akin to a philosophy than a religion.

In any case, this passage on craving has been much on my mind of late:

Moods dictate my behavior. If something makes me feel good, I want to have it; if it makes me feel bad, I want to get rid of it; if it leaves me indifferent, I ignore it. I find myself in a perpetual state of conflict: emotionally pulled one way and pushed the other. Yet underpinning both attraction and aversion is craving: the childish and utopian thirst for a situation in which I finally possess everything I desire and have repelled everything I dislike. Deep down I insist that a permanent, separate self is entitled to a life removed from the contingencies and uncertainties of existence.

And I invest my icons of craving with absolute finality. Be they sex, fame, or wealth, they shine before me with an intoxicating allure unsullied by the ambiguities of lived experience. I do not consider their implications. Diapers and tantrums figure as little in my fantasies of sexual conquest as do journalists and taxes in my daydreams of fame and wealth.

Such craving is crystallized from the spinning turmoil of confusion. In my metaphorical blindness, I reach out desperately for something to cling to. I yearn for anything that might assuage the sense of loss, anguish, isolation, aimlessness. But craving is distorted and disturbed by the very confusion it seeks to dispel. It exaggerates the desirability of what it longs to possess and the hatefulness of what it wants to be rid of. Bewitched by its own projections, it elevates its goals into matters of supreme significance. Under the spell of craving, my whole life hinges on the acquisition or banishment of something. "If only..." becomes the mantra of unconsummated desire.

A world of contingency and change can offer only simulacra of perfection. When driven by craving, I am convinced that if only I were able to achieve this goal, all would be well. While creating the illusion of a purposeful life, craving is really the loss of direction. It spins me around in circles, covering the same ground again and again. Each time I think I have found a situation that solves all my problems, it suddenly turns out to be a reconfiguration of the very situation I thought I was escaping from. My sense of having found a new lease on life turns out to be merely a repetition of the past. I realize I am running on the spot, frantically going nowhere...

Life becomes a succession of minibirths and minideaths. When I acheive what I want, I feel reborn. But no sooner have I settled into this feeling than the old anxieties resurface. The new possession swiftly ages as it is diminished by the allure of something more desirable that I do not have. What seemed perfect is abruptly compromised by alarming glimpses of its imperfections. Instead of solving my problems, this new situation replaces them with others I had never suspected. Yet rather than accepting this as the nature of living in an unreliable world, rather than learning to be content with success and joy and not to be overwhelmed by failure and pain, rather than appreciating life's poignant, tragic, and sad beauty, I grit my teeth and struggle on in thrall to that quiet, seductive voice that whispers: "If only..."

June 04, 2004

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

We had a great dinner last night at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank. It's a downscale, self-service restaurant right on the water, apparently famous for the quality of the food, and available only from late spring through early fall.

Everyone on the team had 1.75-pound lobsters, but when we saw an 11-pound lobster on the menu (for $109.00), we couldn't resist asking to see it. The staff was kind enough to let us walk around back and bring it out. I'm sorry we didn't have a camera with us -- it was a monster! When I saw it, my first thought was, "I wouldn't want to run into that thing in the open ocean." Think claws large enough to snap off multiple fingers at a time.

On Board the USS Hartford

I've been in Groton, Connecticut this week with a team from my company. We have a contract with the US Navy Submarine School to develop a simulation-based port security trainer for the Submarine On Board Training group. Our job this week has been to capture the interior and exterior of a 688I Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, the USS Hartford, such that we can model it in 3D.

Spending most of the week inside a nuclear submarine has been extremely interesting and something I wasn't sure I'd ever get to do, despite having designed a submarine simulation game (Tom Clancy SSN) earlier in my career. Thought I knew a bit about submarines, I have to admit that I wasn't prepared for how tight the conditions actually are aboard them. I walked away impressed with the submariners who spend months at a time in such conditions.

Until this week, the most expensive vessel I had been on was a Boeing 777, which costs up to $231 million. A Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine like the Hartford costs $900 million. It was sobering to think of that -- to look around and say to myself, "this is almost a billion dollars of hardware."

The officers and crew of the Hartford were extremely gracious to us, so although it has been a very long week, it has been productive and fun, too.

I'll post some pictures when I'm back in the office and have access to them -- probably sometime next week.

June 01, 2004

Temporarily Disabling Comments

I'm traveling for business -- an interesting story, but I'm too tired to tell it now. I just returned from a very hard 18-hour day that included two flights, a drive, and a huge amount of work, all on top of about three hours' sleep, and was greeted with no less than 53 spam comments all over my site. Given Movable Type 2.63's one-at-a-time interface for dealing with comments, it was a good deal of work to get rid of them all. This is going to be The Week from Hell when it comes to working hours, and I can't bear the thought of coming back to my hotel room tomorrow night to another 53 pieces of spam... so I'm disabling comments for the time being. My apologies in advance.