Thursday, July 31, 2008


Or rather... Maybe I am all pooped out. I was up all night prepping
for a "procedure" and I don't feel I slept much at all. Now I am
sitting in the lobby of the doctors office waiting to go in. As of
right now the doctor is running an hour late, which just means I get
to sit here in discomfort a while longer. I cannot wait for them to
knock me out!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hold the Press!

I remember when the press were proud of being independant and unbiased in their approach to world events. The world used to go up in flames when some terrorist group would grab a reporter and threaten to execute them as a secret subversive spy!? We would all be offended that they would treat that reporter in that manner, as if they were a military or political figure and not an independant unbiased reporter of world events. Well, I think those days are quickly coming to an end.

Check out this article:

Notice the bit that says...

"When Obama walked on stage at the McCormick Center, many journalists in the audience leapt to their feet and applauded enthusiastically after being told not to do so. During a two-minute break halfway through the event, which was broadcast live on CNN, journalists ran to the stage to snap photos of Obama."

What is this, a rock concert? And why were they told not to act a certain way?

Obama campaign press secretary- "Ah, hem, folks, we want you to appear a... little more like unbiased press, so, while you'll want to rush the stage and scream Obamas name and faint back onto your friends when he touches your hand, could you please just 'observe and report' at this particular meeting?"

Well, I am OK with enthusiam, and it is likely true that whether you are a Republican or Democrat (or identify, more or less, with one or the other) you can likely name at least one news group that seems to portray an obvious political bias. But I guess that is the very problem.

I don't know that we ever had a "media news" provider that was truly unbiased. Saying that there was would most likely be generally ignoring the facts. I think that the problem right now with all of us is that in an election year, biased reporting turns "the news" into "fanboy reports" that either affirm what we want to hear or make us feel like our values and preferences are being slandered. The next inevitable step is watching our news hosts on TV wear political flair!

As for journalists in the fray. I say double up that bullet proof vest and start carying a cyanide tablet just is case you get caught by a hostile group durring a war or conflict. After this election, it is going to be pretty darn hard to convince anyone that the news still plays an unbiased role in any world event!


Check this out:

After you watch the intro video all of the videos in the background are available for additional viewing. Funny stuff!

As a related side note, the other day I finally fiddled with my laptop and took a look at what was loading at the start. The cool thing was that windows logs in vista show you the gap between the core load time and the remainder of load time caused by other software appending itself to the startup process. For example, once I pulled all of the iTunes/iPod related stuff from the startup, the laptop booted twice as fast. When I pulled some Adobe stuff out, turned off MS SQL Server on boot up (as a developer it is nice to have it when I need it, but I can click it to start it and don’t need it running all of the time) and pulled a few other offending apps out of the startup, my boot time went from 4 minutes to 1min 30sec. There is more I can do but I haven’t done it yet.

That is clearly an issue with Vista, being able to start a bunch of stuff at boot time. They let people hook into that process, which in some cases is critical (for example, you would want SQL Server to have started on boot up even if you are not logged in if you are running a server.) So technically it is a feature of the system to allow software to do that… BUT it makes no sense that software like, ObjectDock (which creates that mac like docking taskbar for Windows) has to load before delivering the desktop in general.

The smart next move for Microsoft was creating an option for loading services AFTER boot, which means that even though I am starting to fiddle, like open a browser or check my email, the OS can continue to load services. Interestingly enough, my home PC since Vista, Service Pack 1, hasn’t continued to exhibit any buggy behavior. I would say it is the most solid windows OS so far.

So... I am happy to see that Microsoft is finally doing something about the ad campaign leveraged against it by Apple. I have no problems with the Apple ads (I think they are hilarious) or Apple Corp (I like their products well enough having invested, to date, about $800 in iPod devices not to mention the money invested in iTunes downloads.) So this isn't about Apple bashing. It is about seperating the "marketing experience" from the real experience, and I think that will begin to happen now for Vista.

Long time coming.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slow It Down

I am sitting in the parking lot of the medical lab building having just completed a few tests in preparation for a procedure I will be having on Thursday. Thursday procedure has everything to do with the fact that I have had an upset stomach along with other completely uncomfortable, now painful, symptoms for a number of months now. I am so tired of the discomfort and pain and I really hope that Thursday sheds some light on what is going on in there.

I get ready to turn the key and start up the car. It is 7:30am, I am a thirty minute drive from work and the day starts at 9:00am. “Steve, slow down,” and voice inside me says. “Take your hand off of the key and slow it down a second. Roll down the windows. Don’t turn on the air conditioning. Let the world in a little bit.” I breathe a deep breath and realize I could have just jetted to work and started the day an hour early for no reason whatsoever. I already know what is on my work agenda for the week and I have no real reason to show up so early. I take another breath and start the car.

A few miles down the road, I am listening to my ipod, feeling the breeze through the car windows and noticing people in their cars. My stomach is turning, which makes me feel generally nauseated, a state which has become the norm as of a few weeks ago. I start thinking about maybe eating some breakfast anyway. This reminds me of my mother, who in her later days battling liver cancer stopped eating due to discomfort. I recall telling her that she needed to keep eating if she was going to have the strength to beat the cancer. I couldn’t imagine feeling so sick that giving in felt better than fighting in hope of a better day. Though I think about these memories, I am no where near that now so I start to think about picking up bottled water and maybe a breakfast bar at a nearby QuickStop convenience store.

As I approach the QuickStop, I see this diner, the Amwell Diner, which sits a few buildings down. Everyone talks about New Jersey having this regular love affair with diners. So far I have only been in one and frankly I don’t think it qualifies. In my town I have visited the Frenchtown Cafe a number of times. But Frenchtown is such a little tourist trap that every business is a quaint caricature exaggeration of its common counterpart. If the average diner in New Jersey has a checkerboard floor, then the Frenchtown CafĂ© has a custom cut ceramic tile floor in the checkerboard style. See what I mean?

My ipod starts to play “All Possibilities” from the album “Have you fed the fish?” by Badly Drawn Boy. Hey if breakfast bars and yogurt doesn’t sit well on the stomach, let’s change the tune a bit. Pancakes and some bacon maybe? Orange juice and a coffee? Am I going to regret this later once it starts to snake its way into my digestive system? Probably. But for the moment, I am thinking of the possibility of pretending I am not feeling nauseated or in a bit of pain.

The Amwell Diner is amazing. I’ve driven past it so many times and wondered about it. Stepping in the door is like entering a time machine. It doesn’t look made-up or manufactured in an older style using new modern cheap material. It simply looks like I am in a very well manicured diner at some time between the 1950s and 1960s. Everything is shiny metal edges, reflectively clean flooring, and the room washes with a green tint when the sunlight comes in through the window shades. This feels unique and immediately relaxing. Then again, maybe every diner is generally like this in New Jersey.

I am invited to my own booth where I am offered a beverage. “Regular coffee, please?” I am left with the menu and quickly find the “hotcakes with bacon” option, which surprisingly comes with a small orange juice. I hope I can do this.

After ordering my food I take a sip of coffee and it is great. Mind you it is no Starbucks non-fat caramel cappuccino but it is smooth non-burnt diner coffee. Just a little more sugar in the coffee and I am diving into my copy of “The Sun Also Rises” by Earnest Hemingway. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to discover Earnest Hemingway. People have been raving about his writing for years and I have watched a number of films that address elements of his life or writing. I just had no idea that his writing style was so accessible. I recently broke my teeth on the very short “The Old Man and the Sea,” so this is my second foray into the Hemingway reading experience.

Even though the story is great and the characters are engaging, reading doesn’t keep my attention long because of a few living characters in the restaurant. To my left, a young girl and what seems to be her grandmother have started looking at menus. The girl is that lanky preteen aged girl who has recently started taking an interest in the adult world around her. You know that age? Asking a lot of questions of adults and having thoughts and opinions about the world they are discovering.

There is something special about the way a kid relates to their grandmother I have observed. A parent can ask a kid for a hug and also immediately get a, “Mom!? Not now!” in embarrassed response. But a grandmother asking the same question gets what she is requesting almost as if the kid were waiting to hear the request.

They are trying to figure out how to spend what seems to be their special day together, “Well, I thought we could look in the paper here. Maybe we could find a movie to go see?” The girl excitedly interrupts, “What about Mama Mia!?” They go on to excitedly chat about the movie, of which I know nearly nothing. Grandma says, “Actually, I did already go see it. But I would see it again if you want?” to which solicits the response, “Grandma, I saw it too.” They both laugh. The kid feels like she’s been busted! They both pretended to be interested in seeing it but it ends up they both already did. “Actually,” interjects grandma, “I’ve already seen it twice!” They laugh at each other. I can’t help but laugh a little too at their cute little interaction.

The food was great. The generally older population was highly entertaining and my stomach is already chastising me for the stupidity of this breakfast decision. I ignore it and enjoy the moment. I am soon out to my car, but not after paying the bill and congratulating the staff for what a great diner they have.

I stop before getting in my car and take a breath to offset a little pain. I have a half hour to get to work and I am about 10 minutes from it. Without even looking at the clock I am doing great on time and I have invested leisurely in the moment. No matter my stomachs complaints, I feel like it was a good investment. I start up the car and head on toward work to the remainder of the song “All Possibilities.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let it begin!!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

On the topic of: War Isn't Very Pro-Life

Recently someone I know made such a statement. It is a good one to think about. I don't mean that anecdotally. I mean, I hope you really think through this one. And whether you fall into pro-life position or not, or an anti-war position or not, I thought this would be an interesting statement to examine.

First, let’s talk about what sucks about these “labels” here:

Pro-life: The idea here is that “pro-life” means all life is sanctimonious and we should honor it in a vacuum. In reality, anyone who says they believe this is a bit more ideological than they are being realistic. The majority of people I know, eat harvested vegetables, and hamburgers, have been hurt enough in a personal way to wish someone else wasn’t on the planet (that last bit is pretty heavy, but in some cases sadly true.) I think the real definition of pro-life had everything to do with defending defenseless babies. On the flip side I think that statement offended folks on the other side of the fence because I do not know a single pro-choicer who felt they were the implied “pro-death.” So, I will grant anyone the possibility that if they say “pro-life” they mean those terms under some new definition, but I really think the issue was about defending the life of humans who couldn’t defend themselves.

War: Nobody is about to put a great definition to war. Outside of Hollywood and a few historical figures with clinical issues, I don’t think that anyone would say that war happens, for the sake of war and in a vacuum. So let’s put a couple definitions to it for the sake of argument:

“War is about death.”

Based on a definition like that, I don’t know anyone who is pro-war. Based on a definition like that, I can see how “war is not very pro-life.” But I don’t think that the goal of war is to cause death, as if an end in itself. In fact if we follow the rules of war at all in the world, we honor our enemies when we defeat them in a battle by not killing them. So this definition, while it may be true that people do die in war, is too simplistic a definition and more importantly doesn’t make sense as a definition (unless again, we are talking about Hollywood or a few crazy people from history.) What about this definition:

“War is standing terror in the face and saying, not only will we not give one more inch to you, but we will take back what was stolen in defense of the defenseless.”

I think that people can see a definition like this, but because of death, they struggle with it. Is war, is standing our ground and taken lost ground back worth the cost of the loss of so much life? I surely cannot answer that but I could imagine giving my life for a cause! (mind you I said imagine… I have never really come too close but a few times stood across from Russian solders with guns wondering if maybe I was about to?) If I give my life for a cause, then is war in that case OK? If in giving my life in defense of something I also at the same time defend my life, does that suddenly make me a war-monger? I think maybe you can see how answering this question becomes complicated. Apparently, for those living in a vacuum defending against tyranny or even fighting for the right against tyranny, if it ends in death, like the vacuum-sealed definition of pro-life above, death and killing is always a moral wrong and so they join Bruce Springsteen in asking the question, “War, what is it good for?” But I have found that many people, like I said above, will kill for food or defend their families to the death, but after seven degrees of separation from war they start to imagine that these simpler definitions actually make sense. I don't see how they can.

I have heard people say that defending war at a peacetime is like being a vegetarian between meals, meaning that once war is upon you, you won’t care about the value of it any more. You will just want out of it. I believe that to be true (that doesn't mean we should get out, but we surely might want to.) I have heard Hollywood say that once you are in war you forget about politics and are just trying to save yourself and your friends to your left and to your right. I also remember talking to World War II vets who talked about their duty to defend against tyrannical figures like Adolf Hitler. There are always so many reactions: from fear, to friendship, to duty and honor. All of them are valid and make the whole thing complex and multifaceted. I suppose if I were in the service or married to someone who was, I might feel these ideas hit closer to home. But I would honor the career decision of my spouse. rather than say that if her career bring her into participating in war, regardless of defending life and values, she is now not very pro-life (or pro-death as it implies, however you can stomache it.)

So in the end I don’t know that I have convinced you or me that “war is (or isn’t) very pro-life” other than to say that I think that statement is light and un-inspected at best. It is anecdotally quotable at worst as an over-simplification of the complexity and origin of why we might defend helpless babies, pigeonhole pro-choice folks as if they are pro-death, or feel reasonably that anyone is pro-war under the definition that war is killing for the sake of killing. I imagine that the quote is simply being passed along without thinking about these ideas, and so that is why I share them.

Maybe you have thoughts of your own? Feel free to comment. Remember, it’s only a monologue if you refuse to turn it into a dialog!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

X-Files Movie: do you believe?

This month on July 25th is the new X-Files Movie "X-Files:I want to believe" which is the second X-Files movie to date (the first was X-Files: Fight for the future). I can't wait!

As a side note, while hanging out with a friend in NYC this last weekend, we got on the topic of both being original X-Files (meaning the first eight seasons) fans and our mutual interest in checking out the new coming movie. While I have heard that the movie takes the X-File in some new directions, it is (possibly) the first of a set of X-Files movies that continue the storyline into the direction that the franchise always wanted to go.

I guess the original plan was to segwey the TV Show into a format most suitable on the silverscreen. According to Fox Mulder (eheem... actor David Duchovny) this was an early desire for the show and I guess they are hoping that hitting the reset button with this film will be the trial run to kickstart X-Files new life in cinema. By trial run, I mean that the director Chris Carter (same Chris Carter that gave us the TV show) was given only $35 million to make this movie. When you compare that to flops like "Meet Dave" that had a production budget of $60 million (and only grossed $9 million) you can see that Fox Film Studios is taking a chance on rebooting the X-Files franchise, but not a huge risk financially speaking.

This is where I come in. So, in preparation for the movie I went out and bought the DVD set "X-Files: Revelations" which is supposed to be a crash course in relevant X-File episodes that play (to some degree) into the plot of the new movie. While the movie is supposed to be a stand-alone that anyone could enjoy without knowing a ton about the X-Files backstory, if you know anything about the coming films plot then you see shadows of the plot in these eight episodes included on the DVD (I am only on the second episode and I can see it... and am getting excited.) Ironically, just as it was raining in the first episode on the DVD set, it started raining outside my apartment... which just made getting back into the X-Files mode even more fun!

Without giving much of a spoiler, here are three things you can expect from the movie:

  1. sci-fi alien crap we all love
  2. the characters we all love (minus the ones who died, of course)
  3. detective / investigation plot that includes FBI and serial killer stuff

So, if you like TV shows like X-Files and CSI and Law and Order and enjoy movies like... well... X-Files, and Silence of the Lambs, etc, then this should be fun. But think of it more like a two hour cinematic TV show on a TV show budget rather than expecting blockbuster budgets filled with ceasure-causing special effects. So, if we go and fork over the bucks for the movie, then as history proves, studios will hand over bigger budgets for larger stories and productions for the next X-Files films.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Batman adventure

So we have started watching the 1989 batman with Michael Keaton and
others. Tonight, we will do dinner localy as well as watching batman
begins and later "the dark knight"!

Friday, July 18, 2008

First annual NXLevel golf outing

And even recovering from what ends up being Gout in my foot, my team
won the corporate (mini) golf outing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ATM Usability

So, I am driving up to an ATM the other day, in my car, and I find that I am third in line to make my transaction. The car right ahead of me is a late model volvo wagon, which could mean "older person driving" but in this case it is a youngish woman. In front of that is a Cadillac. Now, there is an interesting spread of demographic stereotypes that one might find purchasing a Cadillac so I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, but here is the thing. i was planning my morning and by looking at these cars I am attempting to guestimate the amount of time I will spend in line here. The late model volvo seems to have two customers: the ones that keep them up well and love their dependability, and then there is the person who loves talking about the dependability of Volvos in general but who's car is held together with rust and love and exits parking spots like an octopus jetisoning an oily plume of diessel smoke as if escaping some predator. Ah, but this is a stereotype and not all Volvos are dependable, and just because there isn't rust doesn't mean their isn't love. But that is another story. I digress.

The Volvo ahead of me was the former not the later. She took car of this Volvo and falls into the "efficient at the ATM" category, so the Volvo will definitely not be slowing me down. The Cadillac is, as you would guess, another story. The two major demographic groups here are: hooptified ghetto-licious owners, and Easy Riders. The hooptie group is actually a diverse group in itself including everything from "Classic car owner" to "pimp-my-cadi" lo-riders. The cadillac ahead of me didn't fall into that category. This was clearly an easy rider. By Easy Rider, I mean that the owners in this demographic buy the cadillac because it is such a boat that it can barrel down the road and smoothly pass over a pothole large enough for a Prius to fall into. Easy Riders want a ride so smooth that they can even manage to forget they are driving (they think they are at home lounging on their plastic covered couches) or so sound proof that they think they are the only car on the road (and driving accordingly.) Easy Riders also typically go by another name: Blue-hairs (a.k.a. elderly folks.) The Cadillac ahead of me was an easy ride'n Blue-hair.

Why is it that Blue-hairs take soo long at the ATM? You can see they are not simply confused (though some are)? They are typing and swiping multiple cards. I have taken less time at a keyboard writing computer programs! I am convinced that the Internet banking to the current generation is what ATMs are to the Blue-hair demographic. My bet is that if you poll Blue-hair people on the street, asking them how to record a TV show with a DVR, they wouldn't have a clue what a DVR was. BUT... if you asked them what takes them so long at the ATM, then would explain that they were "auto-banking" their five bank accounts, as well as having found some hidden menu in the ATM screens that let them chat with other Blue-hairs sitting at other ATMs across the planet!

So my morning is now running late as I watch arms come in and out of the cadillac swiping multiple ATM cards and typing furiously like a middle-school kid texting their BFF on some rediculously tiny cell phone! By the third card, I begin to throw my hands in the air and declare "Come on!" when I saw the Volvo do the exact same thing. In fact I heard it out my window, "COME ON!" Seriously, I think it is a Blue-hair prank. They know we are all in a rush, and they are not, so they text each other via ATM across the city and all converge on efficient lines everwhere in an effort to slow them down to an unreasonable pace. Whether you are just trying to get out $20, or if you are wanting a morning coffee, they are all in a conspiracy to toss wrenches into this grind of a high-speed system we are all slaves to. I love it AND I hate it. COME ON!

Finally the Cadillac leaves, and like clock work the Volvo is in and out faster than I can retrieve my banking card. I get up to the machine and position myself as close as possible to the keyboard. This never works. I can never get close enough. So with the window unrolled, I len out to start the transaction. The card is swiped! I am entering my code. I learn to hit "english" and oops!... I have selected chinese or something, which is the point of this blog entry!

Once you have selected the wrong language on an ATM, you are now screwed! Is there not a universal symbol or word for "Oops! Go Back!" Nope. There isn't I guess. So after scanning the screen for a while, finally I noticed the "cancel" button on the keyboard, which ended the transaction. At which point I had to get my card out again and swipe it... again! At which point I heard an exclamation from the car behind me...

"Come on!"

As an upside, after I heard someone yell "come on" just to piss them off some more, I found a menu on the ATM that let me write this blog entry. So, I am signing off for now, since my $20 bill just popped out. Now, how do I text on this thing?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

End of a long day

Today was sunny, warm and relaxing! After church I went and saw "meet
dave" which was rediculous. Then I headed home to be greeted by a
community street event of some sort. There was a guy outside my place
DJing club music in the middle of the afternoon. I chatted with a few
people on the street (who almost convinced me to throw a cookout for
them) and ended up reading in a lawn chair on my deck! For lunch...
Hotdogs and raspberry tea! Did I ever mention my passion for Brisk
brand raspberry tea? So now I am waking up from a late nap on the
couch having slept my way through Extreme Home Makeover just in time
to head to bed! A good lazy day!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mobile blogging

Hopefully, being able to blog right from my phone will make life more

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flip-flopping politicians?

Yes. This is yet another blog entry out on the web that is curiously questioning what is going on inside the mind of Barack Obama.

According to MSNBC news, over the past few weeks Obama has made a few moves that are getting him labeled as a flip-flopper. (As well, so that people don't accuse MSNBC of being a conservative media perspective, here is Bob Herbert of the New York Times questioning Obama's politics!) For example, do you recall the heat he and Sen. Hilary Clinton got into when Hillary talked about a need to get out of Iraq, but Obama said that she landed way to far into the conservative political perspective on that point? He was all about making it a priority to get out of Iraq. The devil in the details, he more recently revealed a plan / recommendation that got us out of Iraq in 16 months (so 1.33 years after he would theoretically get into office.) Now, he saying that he doesn't want to undervalue the progress that is being made in Iraq, the "gains" that we are working hard to establish, so he is ready to be more flexible on when we leave in hopes that even more progress is made toward stability. Wait? He claimed we shouldn't be there to begin with? And he has been screaming "get out" for more than a year now. I know people who are ready to vote for Obama almost completely on this issue alone! Suddenly progress is happening, so he jumps on board and getting the troops home is less of a priority? At best, this leaves people wondering what his priorities and motivation really are here. Apparently, knowing his rhetoric isn't nearly enough. He was raging against a "stay the course" conservative proposal, and now suddenly he seems to support it.

In addition to that, he recently supported an augmented surveillance intelligence bill. This was a bit of a shocker to most, in that he is suddenly running against the majority opinion of his party.

As well, Barack had a fairly firm position about thoughts on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has suddenly softened and at the same time he publicly supported the Supreme Courts ruling in favor of upholding citizen gun owning laws (this was about the Supreme Court overturning a hand gun ban in DC) as well as landing in a more conservative perspective on the death penalty. Wow! Who is this guy? (Actually, the issue of being OK with the death penalty in the case of intense issues like "child rape" is a known issue that Obama somewhat supported before. It was only recently that is has become a political opportunity to re-brand him as a more politically moderate candidate. That doesn't stop press folks like Bob Herbert from calling his support of the death penalty in any form "barbaric.")

Now, a naive person might (only might) think that "this is the true perspective" of Obama finally coming through. Or they might ask the question, "Wouldn't this mean that He is a candidate that more people can get behind?" but really I think it begs another question altogether.

I think the question is, if these more recent political moves reflect a side to Obama we are only now being exposed to (he never voted like this in his previous years of politics -- he always voted the party line, nearly 100% of the time), then is his short run in federal politics significant enough to really throw our weight behind in an election? Said another way, if these decisions blur our political view and understanding of him (and the experts say it raises reasonable questions) then how do we back him, if we are not honestly sure how he truly stands on these issues? I would grant enough grace to the general population in that I don't think people could have imagined that he would be doing and saying some of the stuff he is siding with these days, so they could reasonably question this whole "change" rhetoric and at this point not be accused of flip-flopping themselves.

Personally, I think we can see with more certainty the positions of McCain and Clinton. It has me wondering if the Democratic party might want to reconsider the candidate they are backing. Or in reality, they likely will not reconsider. Why? Because Washington already knows he is a politician like all of them. The best we could hope for is a good guess on how they will truly act and react as president. In the case of Obama, he can motivate you and make you feel you are on the team, but the question is, where is this team going, really.

In conclusion, I think that this significantly raises into question what sort of "change" Obama has been imagining, if he is now siding with stuff that we imagined he previously wanted to change. Or are these recent political decisions reducing his "change" speeches into hype-rhetoric to get people excited (i.e. "Hey, I want change and he wants change. We must want the same change!? Go Obama, go!"). Maybe what we are seeing is a man who wants votes so he is compromising his values to gain more middle-ground? Who knows, and that is the problem. As Markos Moutlisas writes in his blog entry on July 8th, Obama is "now acting like every other politician. For those who thought he was something 'new' and 'different', fact is, he's behaving like every other politician before him."

I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this. If anyone wants to blog their own explanations of what this is really all about, write about it on your blog and add a link to the blog entry in my comments on my blog here!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Selling the Jeep (Part III: Final Chapter) -- Driving is Fun again

Three quick pictures for you: Driving is fun again! Just about the time I was ready to finally sell the Jeep, gas prices were beginning to rise. In New Jersey, we were at around $3.70 for a gallon of regular. While my motivation wasn't completely fuel related, selling the Jeep almost assured that my miles per gallon situation was going to improve. Now, understanding that Jeeps typically make just into the double digets when it comes to MPG, you can see how the first picture here makes driving fun again!

That's right! An average of 42.9 miles per gallon. This number changes, as you can imagine (it is based on the trip, meaning from the moment I start the car to the moment I shut the engine off.) So, for example, driving one route to work everyday yeilds about 43 MPG for me. While at the same time another route gets me about 38 MPG (still good.) I did notice the other day that driving around Princeton (it is fairly flat around there) yeilded around 45 MPG! That is awesome. It isn't PRIUS awesome... but it is pretty cool, since this car is about half the price (not quite) of the PRIUS.

Picture #2: George Washington Bridge into New York at around Columbia University and "the Cotton Club."

I really like this bridge. While the traffic can be backed up getting on the bridge (not to mention that you might have the pleasure of seeing an entire car on fire!), once you are on the bridge it is fairly smooth sailing and delivers a nice view of the city. Again, not having to wory about the Jeep breaking down, or getting warm because the air conditioning can't keep up with the city heat makes driving fun again.

Picture #3: And while we are on the topics of bridges, I was driving to a friends place the other weekend and had to ride over this lift bridge. Now, I have driven this route a couple of times now, so I got my camera out quickly! The thing about lift bridges is that there are (or at least I was told there are) not many in the world. In fact, an old friend used to swear that the Lift Bridge in Duluth, MN, was only one of three on the planet. Well, unless the other two are in New Jersey (I've driven over two different lift bridges) then that dude was sorely misinformed! Here is the proof of one, equally as large if not larger than the one in Duluth, and in a fairly obscure and simple two lane road.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July Weekend

Well, the weekend started out by running south to about 30 minutes outside of Philli to hang out at a coworkers house for a little fourth 'o July party. It was fun. We grilled, we ate, enjoyed a few libations,... I introduced the left-coasters to beer-soaked brats and we sat around playing games, listening to music, laughing and joking around until many late hours into the evening sitting around a table on his porch. Mike, it was yet another enjoyable time... even if you didn't get the "Rock Band" game for the Wii you were talking about for days... anyway!

On Saturday I got up a little later than normal (sleeping in doesn't happen too often these days) and ate a late breakfast while watching Gattaca on BlueRay. Gattaca is an old-ish movie about fears surrounding the future of genetic-descrimination. I always just liked it because it depicted the future from a very 50s mindset (which makes for a cool looking movie.) After watching the movie and doing a hort-load of laundry I jumped into the shower and a fresh set of crispy-clean clothing and headed across to my friend / co-worker Claudine's place where the two of us ran up to the Hoboken area to check out the newly refurbished Liberty Science Center. It, as you could expect, it really geared for kids, so naturally, that was right up my alley! They did have a very interesting exhibition on Architecture and specifically urban skyscrapers and in the middle of it a display of some steel that was taken from the rubble of the Twin Towers across the river.

It is quite amazing to acklowedge the amount of steel-bending pressure that came down to the earth that day.

After the science museum we headed into Hoboken for dinner. The next photo is of the water side of the Erie Lakawanna Subway / Train station. For those of you who know my parents story about how they met, how or when my father proposed to my mother, then you may remember the significance of this location in their story (if you don't know the story, well, I will get my dad to write it down and I will blog that another day.)

The remain photos are of our after dinner walk, including a few shots across the Hudson River aimed at the NYC skyline. Enjoy! (Better yet, if you aren't living around here, you need to come check it out for yourself some day!) Some of the color in the pictures are a little off (the light was going dim fast and all I had for a camera was the iPhone...)