Archive for April, 2008

Observations from DisneyWorld

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

So I am at DisneyWorld this week. Having a great time but spending a lot more money than I expected. Still it is worth it.

I’m doing a lot of people watching and noticing things. Here then are a few random observations:

  • The more skin people show the more likely they are to have a sun burn. Probably not a surprise but at the same time “sun screen people?”
  • Lots of little girls (under 12) in skirts and dresses. And that isn’t including the princess outfits.
  • One almost never sees a teenaged girl in a skirt or dress. Well except for the scores of cheerleaders here for some competition over the week end.
  • Lots of young mom’s (say 20 something) in skirts.
  • Lots of men and boys wearing shorts. Not me though – if it is too hot to go out in long pants its too hot to go out. Unless it is more than 80% humility and 90 degrees warm (both) I am more comfortable in long pants. Shorts for men are for swimming and other athletic activity.
  • People who probably never wear hats at all will wear silly hats at Disney. I wonder how many of them will wear these hats at home? Me? I bought a hat I can wear anywhere. I like hats. (Much more than caps.)
  • There are lots of families here with 3 or more kids. Small kids. How do they do it?
  • Smiles and good service make trips like this better. Disney knows how to provide good service. I wish more companies took lessons from them. Of course it also makes is less painful to spend money so companies should want to take these lessons.

Obsessive but not compulsive

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I think I am a defective OCD person. That is to say that I am somewhat obsessive in that I really like things neat, organized, clean and very “ship shape.” But unfortunately I’m not compulsive about getting things that way. So if the mess gets too big it bothers me a lot but I’m not motivated to clean it up. Rather I am motivated to leave it behind.

Take my office for example. When I get in the midst of a lot of travel the office quickly becomes a mess. Now you are wondering if I am away so much how could it become a mess? Well the way it works is that when I come back from a trip I empty out all the things I picked up so that I have a clean backpack for the next  trip. But I don’t really have time to organize it well. I think “I’ll get to it later” but of course I don’t. The next time it is even harder to organize and I don’t have time to fix things so it gets worse. Until finally I take my laptop and I work in the dinning room or the family room or some other place.

This cannot last though. In fact soon it will be over because Mrs. T will be on summer break. It is much to distracting to try to work outside of my office when she is in the house. We’ll not go into the details but it is enough to say that soon I will clean out my office – it will likely take about two days – so that I can work comfortably there again. That has been the pattern for the last four or five years now. Some how I really need to find an easy way to keep the office neat and tidy.

I figured it out for clothing. About two years ago I “outsourced” cleaning of my shirts and dress pants. Rather than trying to wash them with everything else and iron them myself (or try to talk Mrs. T into doing the ironing) I started taking them to the dry cleaners. They come back clean and very pressed. I ask for starch so they really feel neat and clean all day long. It’s a reasonable trade for my money. The office is not so easy though. Sigh. Maybe I need a fully functional OCD office mate. 🙂

Digital Dorm – In A Bus?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Edwin Guarin is driving a bus fitted out as a high tech, lots of games and devices, digital dorm room to campuses around the NorthEast.  He’s writing about the trip on his blog.  He’s showing of computers, Zunes, Xbox 360 (apparently Rock Band is popular on the tour so far) and giving away gifts and prizes. Its a fun way to get a look at some cool technology.

The full schedule is here. Stops this week include:

  • Hofstra University
  • NorthEastern University
  • UMASS Boston
  • Bunker Hill Community College

Next week

  • Bentley College (I expect reports from this stop)
  • Harvard
  • Boston University

Still more following that – check the schedule for schools, dates and times as some of the locations are yet to be determined. If he comes to you campus or to a campus near you stop by and tell Edwin I sent you.

The Truth Can Get You In Trouble

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Last week Obama said "And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." He got in some hot water for that. Some are saying that is proof that he doesn’t understand rural voters. He replies that he just explained the truth poorly. Personally I think he is largely right.

I think he does understand rural voters at least as well as Clinton does. The big problem, and it is a problem for both of them, is that they are on the wrong side of issues that are important to rural voters.

Clinton said "Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right" and I have no doubt that Obama understands that as well. But the fact is that both candidates want to seriously abridge that right in ways that go against rural values. Clinton is just less honest about it.

Religion is another area where both candidates are weak. Personally I think Obama is more credible as a Christian (as one who really believes what they say about what they believe) to me but Clinton is the better politician about it. Her show is better. Obama gets hurt because people, especially in rural areas, are being fed a lot of misinformation on one hand and on the other hand there is his whole wrong stand on abortion. It’s hard for people to understand a religious person standing for abortion when their own religion sees it as so abhorrent.

And immigration is just such a mess I’m not sure there is a right side to be on. Trade is an area that hits rural areas differently than urban ones. Its complex to solve but easy to pick a simplified side.

It’s a mess. I understand what the man was trying to say. I think he is largely right. Economics are not deep ingrained "values" though it is a huge concern. Plus it is a complex concern with complex "fixes." Religion, guns and even immigration are issues that are more easily simplified as reasons to vote. Right or wrong it is easier to say "she’s different" or "his stand on guns is wrong" or "they’re more interested in immigration as a way to get the ethnic vote" then to really take a look at the greater economic issues and suggested solutions.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama loses some votes in rural areas because of his skin color. No doubt at all. It may not be so much that he is black as it is that he looks different. I suspect that a white candidate who looked too upper class or too different in some other way would lose some votes for that. As much as Obama loses for being black? In some areas yes and in other areas no. Racism is still stronger in rural areas than in urban ones. Denying it may win some votes but that doesn’t make it right.

I don’t think this makes Obama less electable than Clinton though. When push comes to shove and voters have a choice between a woman and a man as many people are going to vote for the man as would vote for the white in a white versos black election. Not the same people but about the same numbers. Sexism still exists to! But in both cases I think that the issues will be the deciding factor more than the "they look different" factor. None of the sexism and racism is near as bad as it once was.

In my own case, between Clinton and Obama I see little differences in issues. But Clinton is not a nice person (in my perception) and Obama is. Obama seems sincere in his Christianity and Clinton does not. Sincerity is more important than the specific religion BTW. At least in a political candidate I am evaluating. I feel better after listening to Obama and somewhat slimy after listening to Clinton. So I’d vote for Obama over Clinton without a second thought.

McCain over Clinton without a second thought. McCain against Obama? That requires some thought.

SPAM by postal mail

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

So today I get this official looking mail in my mailbox. It looks like a bill though I do find a place where it says "THIS IS NOT A BILL" and then it goes on to say that it is a solicitation and that I have no obligation to pay it. No kidding! But you know I’ll bet a lot of people pay it anyway.

Well what is it for? Well they want to list my website with "25 MAJOR search engines" (CAPS theirs) four times a year with 8 different key words or phrases. All for only $75 dollars.

25 MAJOR search engines? Some people would say that there is only one major search engine and a bunch of small ones. Arguably there are three or four. Maybe five but that will get you close enough to 100% of searches that who cares about the rest.

Plus of course if you have good content and a few inward links the search engines all find you anyway. Just getting listed doesn’t get you to the front page either. This is an offering for suckers and people who have no clue how the Internet and search engines work.

Crazy world we live in. Besides my web sites show up in the top of the first page of every search engine I check for in just about all the search terms I test. I’m not sure how they could do better than that. 🙂

The Year 08

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I was writing the date on my taxes this morning and it hit me. I wrote today as 4/7/08. Why not 4/7/8? Why do I and most people always add the leading zero? Sure if you are writing 2008 it makes sense to include all the digits but why abbreviate the year to two digits when we so freely leave out leading zeros for the day and month?

Or sure we are not abbreviating the day or month but so what? There are forms, especially online, that want the leading zeros for days and months so it is not like we never add them. The day and month on my credit cards have leading zeros as well.

Not sure what to make of this. What is that drive for leading zeros on the year abbreviation?

AP CS AB Exam going away

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

So did you hear the news that the College Board decided to drop the AB exam and just keep the A exam in computer science? BG teaches the AB exam for now. I assume they will teach the A exam the year after next but I am not sure what other changes that will cause. Opinions?

The Safe Bed

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Worried about getting beaten up or kidnapped while you sleep? Living in a hostile environment? Like a dorm perhaps? Then this may be the bed for you!

I actually designed something like this when I was a kid. I’m not sure why though. But it is interesting to see that someone did it for real. I wonder what sort of market there is for this sort of thing?