July 31, 2004

Write Your Own Epitaph

Ever have one of those introspective days when you wonder what your life will amount to? Want to give yourself a platform for summing it all up in 25 words or less? Then jump on over to The Original Tombstone Generator and see what you can come up with. Here's mine, subject to future revision.

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July 30, 2004

The Dark Side of Online Ads

Prankster uses plastic wrap as road trap. That was the headline on CNN one day last week. It tells the story of how some dingbats in Wisconsin made an invisible barrier across a two-lane road and caused a motorcycle accident. If you click on the link now that it's in the archives, you'll see some benign ads for credit reports and home equity loans.

But if you read the story on July 18th you would have seen the ads generated automatically by Overture's software scanning the content of the article. The story was about plastic wrap, so Overture dutifully ponied up these ads: "Plastic Stretch Wrap Equipment Experts"; "Plastic Wrap - Low, Discount Prices"; "Plastic Stretch Wrap Shipped Today". Click the image to the right to see the original story.


How perfect! If you were inspired by the sheer genius of this prank, CNN was there to provide the resources you need to launch a copycat crime wave.

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July 29, 2004

Dare I Hope?

Kerry's speech is on right now. Not bad at all! Can we actually get ourselves a smart, honest, president who's not just looking out for the big dogs and pandering to dinosaurs? I'm starting to be optimistic. I'm glad this hasn't been four days of snarky bushbash, even though that's my favorite sport.

Can't wait for the debates. It's going to look like an experiment in inter-species communication.



Meanwhile, I'm checking the Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004. Unlike all the national polls, this one looks at polls state by state and turns it into electoral votes. It changes just about every day but there's consistently a nice sized bi-coastal bluishness.

July 18, 2004

Vacation Post-Mortem

And what terrific sweep though my home turf it was! No time to write it up in detail, but here's the itinerary:

Three days in New York City: the St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central, the Guggenheim, Times Square, the UN, and Empire State Building. Then we rented a car and drove up the back way into Connecticut, stopping at the birthplace of Charles Ives in Danbury and staying a couple of days in Waterbury, the land of my birth. Saw the 4th of July fireworks at Lake Quassapaug (Quassy), the amusement park where I broke my arm in first grade. Wandered through the Immaculate Conception Church where I was an altar boy, sang in the choir, and sold newspapers on Sunday mornings; St. Mary's School, my alma mater; the Timexpo Museum built in the Scovill building across the street from where my apartment house once stood; and the Mattatuck Museum, which does a great job of summarizing Waterbury's three and a half centuries. The high point of the Waterbury segment was sneaking past the barricade of barking nuns and wandering through the ruins of Holyland USA, a handmade replica of Bethlehem that I played in during the 60s and which is now dissolving back into the jungle floor.



Then up through the green hills and 300 year old towns of Northwestern Connecticut and two nights in a B&B in the Berkshires where neither the beds nor the breakfasts could be recommended. Visited the Norman Rockwell Museum and Hancock Shaker Village. Onward to Worcester and a tour around my undergraduate haunts at WPI.

Then Boston. Went to Concord, the site of the shot heard round the world, and to Kimball Farm, a roadside ice cream stand that my friend Joe Doran turned me onto years ago. Then the Salem Witch Museum and lobster in Gloucester. We settled into our hotel in Cambridge and the next morning we walked to Harvard, wandered through MIT, and dined in Quincy Market. I had to fly to Missouri for an advisory board meeting for a day, while June and Alex went to the JFK Library, the MIT Library, and a performance of the Blue Man Group. When I got back, we all went to the Museum of Science, which I think is the best one of its type I've ever seen.

Finally, time to head back toward JFK. We drove down to New London, toured the first nuclear sub Nautilus, and took the ferry across to Long Island.

All in all it was a great vacation. We stayed on Pacific Time for the whole 2 weeks, sleeping late and staying up late. Though we saw a lot, we paced ourselves and made up the itinerary one day at a time. It was just long enough.

And of course, there are pictures.
New York City - July 1-3
Connecticut - July 4-5
Holyland USA, Waterbury CT - July 5
Massachusetts and back - July 6-15

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July 01, 2004

Up, up and away.

A densely packed 24 hours. We got together for dinner last night with old friend Don Gettner and Kathy and just as it was the last time, it was nice to slip easily into conversation with someone you know well. The food at Anthony's, though, seems to have gone downhill a bit.



Then a flurry of wrapping up old business so that we can leave home without worries. This morning I took Alex to the DMV, the seventh circle of Hell, so that he could take the test and get his learner's permit. He passed, of course, so later this summer we'll move on to the next phase of behind-the-wheel lessons. Another life milestone looming ahead.



And then, at last, we boarded the plane for New York. We're staying in midtown at Le Parker Meridien for three days, then heading up into New England for a couple of weeks. This will be a very welcome break!