Saturday, December 26, 2009

A good book

There is nothing like a good book.

The past month has been pretty hectic - in a good way really - but I finally had a chance to just sit and read a book tonight. No urgent paperwork, no deadlines, the holiday rush is mostly over, there are several days before my next flight, and I have a reasonably clean house at the moment. So this evening I sat and read a book. It was wonderful.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Go Tar Heels!

Some of you may have noticed that I have not spent much time talking about basketball since the season started. Ok, most of you probably did not notice and now that I am pointing it out are just relieved that it is true. I have found a couple of new outlets for talking about Women's Hoops.

I have been helping the communications committee of Tar Heel Team Tempo in sending out a weekly "blast" where I get to write up very short game previews for the calendar, game recaps with links to articles, and summaries of the polls. I get to look for and share links to stories, interviews, and other interesting goodies about Tar Heel Women's Basketball. This is also the group that got me back into photography.

I have also started lurking and occasionally posting on the message boards at Inside Carolina which is part of where there are fans with a lot more basketball knowledge than I have and only a handful of negative attitudes.

I think this years team is great. There are the usual lulls in energy or complacency such as loosing an 18 point lead to the University of South Carolina last weekend. But there is more talent in this young team than I have seen in a while. They grew up a lot and showed some Tar Heel fight at the end to win a fast paced fun game. I am looking forward to conference play next month.

Lets Go Tar Heels!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Digital Bubs

Have I mentioned how much I hate digital tv? Ok, so for a geek, I am pretty low tech at home. I do not watch a lot of tv to begin with and whenever I travel I am reminded in the hotels of much more nothing is really on tv.

Someday I will give in and get satelite so I can watch sports live but for now I am still all about the rabbit ears. Some days I get some stations some of the time. Most stations are a little too far away to come in consistently. Back when it was analog that meant I got a fuzzy picture but all the sound. With digital it is all or nothing. Most of the time this is not a problem. The few shows I do watch show up on hulu or I just wait and get a the dvd (own or netflix) a season later. But with a live a cappella show it just does not work.

Turns out that the NBC show The Sing Off is on hulu. So tonight I can finally watch all the bits of last nights show. The Bubs did advance. If you want to see their performance from the first night - they are the first group of the second hour singing "Magical Mystery Tour". For night two they sing two songs. The first one - the "Big Hit" song is "Right Round" at the opening of the show. Their "guilty pleasure" song is "Come Sail Away". I am hoping that tonight's episode will be on hulu just a quickly. The Bubs sing again tomorrow.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Cappella

I am a fan of a cappella groups. I like the harmony. I wish I could sing so well. I often like the songs, especially when it is classics.

Last week I came across a PBS special featuring Straight No Chaser They started as a college group, went their separate ways after school, and more recently regrouped. They were spotted on You Tube with a song and animation short called "The Christmas Can Can" which can currently be seen at their web site. You can also listen to a number of their Christmas tunes. Their songs are fun in addition to be being well done.

One of my favorite groups is the Tufts Beelzebubs. I first saw them when I was kid. I have seen them perform a couple of times here in the Carolinas. They get invited to some of the local invitationals. The other groups are good but then when the Bubs come on you realize there is a whole other level. Some groups are good in small venues with good acoustics but then as they get into larger auditoriums they begin to shout or they get too close to the microphone and it picks up every little pop and sputter. The Bubs come on and they stay back from the microphone and use breathing and projection to be heard. They also stay in tune and time more consistently.

I mention the Bubs because they made the NBC reality show The Sing Off which starts on Monday Dec 14th. I don't usually care for reality shows but I will try to watch some and see how the Bubs fare.


Friday, December 11, 2009

auto-detect amusements

The "auto-detection" features of technology can be great, horrendous, or simply amusing.

Last weekend the Fedora Project held it's winter FUDcon in Toronto. At least one US participant commented in a blog about the amusement of seeing as they searched for information.

I spent this week teaching at a customer site in the Atlanta area but the parent company headquarters and domain registration is based in Europe. The result is that in addition to google choosing a non-US server for searching, several times when I went to a site and was asked to login or continue the question was not in English.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where is the gas cap?

Q: What happens when the computers stop doing their job and a worker has to do something manually that is usually done by the computer?
A: The scratching of heads begins

So I got on the plane for my flight home yesterday afternoon. It was packed with no open seats. A bunch of people had to have their roller-board carry ons checked through to their final destination. The announcement to turn off all electronic devices indicating the closing of the doors. And then the captain speaks.... I'll drop most of the apologies but lets see how well I remember some of the more humorous phrases:

Captain: Sorry folk but there will be a slight delay before we leave, they are not yet done fuelling the plane.

[A minute later]
Captain: To update you on our situation, there is some head scratching happening at the moment by the fuel crew. Normally they deliver the fuel to the central tank and the computers move it out to the other locations. That is not working. Not a problem, they can add fuel to each side by hand but the fuel crew appears to be having some trouble finding the gas cap.

[a few minutes later]
Captain: To update you on our situation, the fuel crew seems to be done scratching their heads and should have us taken care of in just a few minutes.

[about 20 seconds later]
Captain: To update you on our situation.... um... let me preface this with - the fuel crew does not work for [our] airline and is in no way associated with [our] airline. They are a contractor for the airport. It seems the fuel truck they brought over is out of gas and they need to go get a different truck. They should be back soon.

[a couple of minutes later]
Captain: OK folks, the are now loading fuel to the right wing, then assuming they can find the left wing, will get the fuel added to the left side and we will be on our way.

Well, they did get the fuel in the wings, and we did leave, and the airport was nice enough to send us to the front of the takeoff line.

but wait - there is more...

Just after the flight crew brought out the drink cart...

Captain: We have reached our cruising altitude of [whatever] but it will remain bummpy for a while. I am told that is it not any better at any other altitude so we will just have to ride it out. Please stay in your seats, seatbelts fastened [blah, blah, blah]

[about 10 seconds later]
Captain: I am also going to ask the flight attendants to please be seated.

For those that fly regularly (or used to fly regularly) you probably already know the outcome of my flight - very bumpy most of the way with no "beer or wine for $7 or $8, snacks including ... starting at $4, or a sleep convenience kit including a blanket and ... for $7" Gosh darn it and I really wanted to spend $7 on a blanket for a 40 minute flight.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sunday travels

It is not uncommon for me to be traveling the week after Thanksgiving but this year there was an extra wrinkle in the plans. By the time I was confirmed to a location, the airfare for the Sunday after Thanksgiving travel day was outrageous. Being the polite and flexible person that I often am, I decided to save my client $700 by taking the last seat on the 7am flight. Of course this ment that I had most of the day to kill before checking into the hotel.

So I did what I do. I went to two Whole Foods that I had never been to before. I had breakfast at one, then read an entire book at a bookstore before picking up dinner and groceries at another. They are both a little further from the office than I like to spend fighting traffic after work but for a Sunday it wasn't a problem.

I have friends that collect shot glasses from places they visit. I have relatives that used to collect matchboxes from restaurants back when they had those. I even have a colleague that collects subway maps. I visit Whole Foods Markets.