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Archive for April, 2006

April 27, 2006 2 comments

i don't know what the deal is w/ various articles of women's clothing showing up in my belongings, but that has got to stop!  within the past month, my lovely lady has discovered a thong and a pair of shorts, neither belonging to her, in my car and an old backpack.  what the hell?  i have no idea where they came from, who they may belong to, or why they were there.  the shorts and thong were from two different women (different sized articles), and neither one of them had the courtesy to let me know they'd be setting me up for a fall.  seriously, i'm looking totally shady right now, and it's 6 months before my wedding! 

so i am now issuing a proclamation to all the ladies of the world:  i know it's hard, but please, keep your clothing to yourselves!  i don't need it, i don't want it, and most especially, my fiance won't wear it.

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Categories: misc.

vote for Net Neutrality!

April 23, 2006 1 comment

there's legislation working its way through congress that will result in an unequal internet. telcos and providers are lobbying to allow differential charges to website vendors for bandwidth. what that means is that big sites that have loads of visitors and provide lots of content will have to pay more money to the bandwidth providers. bigger companies and websites will spend more to maintain the same amount of viewers, and smaller websites will get screwed by the preferential treatment showed to higher paying customers. this screws everyone on the web except for the people providing your internet connection.

all major websites and internet companies are pushing against this bill, but their lobbying efforts have not proven equal over the years to similar efforts by the telcos who will benefit from the bills. this bill goes against everything the internet stands for – equality. it is a philosophical break with the very foundation of what has transformed our world and economy. the internet is based around a level playing field – those who provide better services and content end up w/ more visitors and users. the others get left in the dust. this bill will insure that those who pay the big bucks will retain more visitors. it's kind of like saying that only Barnes & Noble can move into ground floor retail in your downtown city districts – small bookstores need not apply.

you can learn loads of info and see the way your state reps are voting at this website: http://www.savetheinternet.com/ if your rep is voting against net neutrality (red dot) or is on the fence (yellow dot) you should call (phone #s are provided) and just tell them that you want them to vote for net neutrality.

don't let them ruin the internet.

Categories: tech, web

Texas Sports as subscribed via Google Calendar

April 23, 2006 2 comments

i've never been much of a sports guy.  never followed any sport whatsoever, never watched any sport religiously.  i have gotten hyped up for the Rosebowl the past two years, but on the whole, getting riled up over a glorified substitution for military strategy and activity has never been my cup of tea.  but now that i go to a big state school w/ a huge sport arm (and a good one, too) i figure its time to perhaps try to keep up.  i've said the same thing for the past 4 yrs, actually, and have never kept up w/ any of it.

but now that i can subscribe to the schedule of all UT Longhorn sports through an ical subscription on my Google Calendar, perhaps that will change.  this morning i loaded that calendar and discovered that UT baseball (last year's national champs) was playing Nebraska this afternoon.  right now i have a tab open tracking the game w/ constant updates.  unfortunately for my first day in tracking UT sports, we're currently losting 6-0.

why the sudden interest in Texas sports?  i think b/c i'm in NY.  to be from TX and be in NY carries a certain amount of baggage.  as i'm originally from NY, i used to think that NY was the shit – the be-all and end-all.  nothing could compare.  but after college (in ATL) i moved back to NY and wasn't in love.  i moved back to ATL and discovered that there was more to urban life than just NY.  there are other cities that have great things to offer, but it's funny that most NYers don't really understand that.  now i live in Austin, and though i didn't love it my first few yrs, now that i'm in NY i can understand the things that make Austin so unique and such a great place to live in.  i'm really looking forward to going back this summer and enjoying my remaining time there (how long we'll stay in Austin following my graduation is up for debate).

it's funny, b/c i had never noticed that egocentrism that is central to the views of nearly all NYers.  i obviously succumbed to it, but i now see past that juvenile belief that nothing compares to NY.  cities are just different, but NYers believe NY is the best.  it certainly has loads of experiences not available elsewhere, but can you go biking along a creek in any number of greenbelts w/ your dog in NY?  can you just chill w/ some beers and margaritas and beers in jeans and sandals anywhere you go in NY?  can you enjoy a mild winter in NY?  can you get Ruby's organic BBQ and Tito's vodka in NY?  and can you experience a nice airport in NY (take that LGA – JFK, i'll cut you slack b/c i think that following the renovation you'll be alright)?

everytime i talk to people who have never really lived or been outside of NY, they always somehow let something slide about the superiority of NY when i mention i live in Austin.  this morning at a doctor's appt, i had to change my address and health insurance to reflect my current TX status, and they were enthralled:

'you're from TX?  you're a long way from home!'    'well, NY is my original home.'    'do you like TX?'    'yeah, i do.  it's really different.'     'everything's different from NY.  NY is the best.'

i'll bet that girl has never lived outside of NY, and has traveled very little outside of NY.  its such superficially elitist outlook. 

Categories: Austin, NY, travel

the wonders of the web in relation to research

April 22, 2006 1 comment

i love the internet – everyone who knows me understands that i'd likely be the first to sign up for a permanent jack into the web.  but where it is really starting to shine for me has nothing to do w/ entertainment, but rather the ease w/ which i can gain access to information – and not just John Doe who wrote something on his blog about something that interests him or some CNN article.  i mean scholarly academic work.

Google Scholar's been around for something over a year now, and it is by far the best addition to online research.  my school, University of Texas, integrates Google Scholar right from the library's main webpage.  if you're on campus, than any hits you pull up through Google Scholar that the university maintains subscriptions are automatically integrated.  so my search on XYZ pulled up a hit in the journal of ABC – UT has access to it, so all i need to do is click the link and read the article.  better yet, you can still access this feature even if you're not on campus (like right now as i'm doing research in NY).  you can log in through a link on the library's homepage to still access this google scholar feature.

but what if we don't have access to a journal in the years desired?  for instance, today i did a search for an article in New Scientist from 1996.  UT's access only goes back as far as 2002.  but i could access the article through UT's membership w/ Lexis-Nexis.  so even if the university itself doesn't have the info, it is very likely that through some sort of partnership w/ other research institutions or organization that i'll be able to find the info.  all from my computer no matter where i am.

this is a wonderful development in the world of research, and one that i think will make research and learning more accessible to the masses (if they choose to learn).  one no longer need trek to the library if they live far away or if the weather is bad.  you can learn anywhere you want in any condition you want.  this isn't an argument against congregation – the ability to interact physically w/ others is still extremely important, but it doesn't have to be a determining factor anymore.

when all new books are published both physically and electronically, so that i can take out a book from the library no matter where i am and search the text to find exactly what i want – then we'll have some serious asskicking learning!  [btw, google book search and amazon's 'search in the book' already provide the ability to search text in a book and read excerpts, but only for a few pages with the intent that you buy the book to read more.  it would be great if libraries had this service in its entirety – something google has been trying to do, but unforunately has been stifled by copyright activists.]

Categories: school, tech, web

LI is a technological backwater

April 22, 2006 Leave a comment

so i'm trying to write this paper today, and i'm looking for a coffee shop w/ wireless internet.  i know starbucks can accomodate this need, but i don't want to go there unless i really have to – especially since they charge for their wifi.  but there is no alternative!  i just spent 40 min calling around a 15 mile radius to see if anyone had free wireless internet, but half the time they didn't even know what it was!  not know what wireless internet is?!  i'm sorry, what??!!  they responded as if i was a 3-headed idiot for asking such a weird question – internet at a coffee shop?  ludicrous!  then at starbucks, one store told me that their connection works half the time – something tells me they have no idea how to troubleshoot it.

am i in bizarro world?  is NY not supposed to be generally at the forefront, or at least up to date?  this is widely accepted technology that gained a foothold 4 yrs ago already!  do people around here not have computers?  do they not know how to communicate in our modern world?  i think that if the rest of the world's population disappeared, the people on LI would be perfectly comfortable continuing their daily existence devoid of the knowledge that something catastrophic had even happened. 

Categories: NY, tech

indoor noise pollution

April 22, 2006 4 comments

today i am set to write one of my two remaining papers for Society, Nature, and Technology – a class i took an incomplete in last semester b/c i could not catch up w/ all of the missed work due to Solar Decathlon. i was also really burned out and exhausted, so that was another reason i didn’t finish the work, and is one of the reasons i took off the semester to work. anyway, enough analysis – it’s time to write!

my first paper in the class was a small meditation on technology a la Heidegger. my final paper in the class was an exploration of the current state of automated home systems – what brought them to fruition, what their future might be, and what blocks them from gaining a significant foothold in modern houses. i’ve occassionally posted my thoughts on that, and once even had a home automation installation specialist from thailand post a comment! perhaps i’ll post my papers in the future…

today, though, i am going to focus on indoor noise pollution. not many people even think about the amount of noise that we have to contend with inside our offices and homes. that noise generally comes from HVAC, lighting, and computers, though there are certainly other items that create noise. most people disregard the associative noise as not worthy of attention, or a necessary component of modern life. but i intend to show that such noise contributes to an atmosphere that can lower concentration levels and heighten anxiety. many people will think that this is tree-hugging hippy ranting, but why is it, then, that people have to go out to the quiet country to relax? why do we need to take vacations in serene settings? sure, we want to get away from it all, but one of the most significant differences between our modern surroundings and undisturbed nature is the constant background hum of various mechanical devices designed to ‘enhance’ our quality of life.

of course, nature is chock full of it’s own noise, albeit a very different kind of noise. modern mechanical noises tend to be constant, whereas ‘nature’ tends to be sporadic. modern tends to inhabit sound frequencies not normally found in ‘nature’ – when was the last time you mistook a brook or wind blowing through leaves for an air-conditioner?

additionally, offices (moreso than homes) are very likely above the acceptable decibal range for indoor noise pollution. all modern buildings are designed to meet a threshold of noise – generally accomodating for mechanical equipment. due to improper design and maintenance, loads of buildings exceed that noise threshold. just this past week i was building a model in the office of our partner architect, and the entire time i was amazed at house loud the ventilation was as it escaped the vents. this leads to my next component – the advance of newer methods to distribute ventilation will allow new systems to be designed to reach lower maximum noise thresholds.

that’s a tall order for a 5 page paper, so perhaps it will be cut into two papers. either way, it’s something that is near and dear to my heart. ACTUALLY, maybe the second paper will deal with outdoor noise pollution in regards to road traffic (buses and trucks) and lawn maintenance (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed wackers)! i hate those things! i’m pretty sure that somewhere in my future will be the passage of a law banning leaf blowers from earth…

i present…the beautiful Penn Station!

April 21, 2006 Leave a comment

typical site at the entrance to the 1/2/3/9 subway from Penn Station:

subway

Categories: architecture, NY