Esta and I were at the MFA today (pictures to come). On the way home, we were discussing “Long Distance Salvation,” which Esta has yet to receive (once I design the CD label, we’ll be in business). I was giving her a track-by-track breakdown, and said,“I am living liner notes.”

She said, “Huh?”

I said, “There are no liner notes for this mix, so I’m giving you your living liner notes.”

She said, “Ah. I thought you said you were living liner notes.”

We were silent for a second. I said, “I’ve been living liner notes. But it’s been for a John Cage album. And I don’t know what the hell is going on.”

—Hey, it was funny at the time.

Distributed census records

I periodically get email questions from people who have come to my site by searching Google for their ancestors and have found my genealogical records. (In fact, I’m currently working through a backlog of six questions, some of which have sat in my inbox for six months…the shame.) Anyway, in looking up some information about a distant cousin, I found out that there’s a regional repository of census microfilm in the Boston area at the Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center in Waltham. Since driving to Waltham is cheaper than paying $20 a month for access to the records, I may have to make a little field trip…

What are my parents going to do for a tailgate?

Just peeked at University of Virginia’s football schedule for 2004. And lo and behold, there is no game against N.C. State scheduled this year!

This is a problem for my parents. For the past umpty years—at least 15, I think—my parents’ gourmet group, which included three N.C. State alums and one UVA alum, would meet at the UVA–NC State game for a tailgate party and a great game of ACC football. Except this year.

But it’s too good a tradition to let die. So shall it be Duke? or (gasp) Carolina? Sadly, no games in the Boston vicinity…

Catching up

I caught up with two old Virginia friends last night at the All Asia in Cambridge. Daria graduated with me at Sloan, so it had only been two years since I saw her; I hadn’t seen Adam Olenn since I graduated ten years ago. As I mentioned a while back, he’s stayed involved with the Berklee School of Music since finishing his masters, and now plays with a few combos around the area, including both the Homesteaders and a duo with Lindsey Grey. Sadly I missed the latter last night, as I got to the café too late; maybe another time.

Adam and I had a hard time finding each other, as the last time we met we both had goatees (take a look at the photos on the Lindsey and Adam site to see why I was confused). That was a long time ago.

This Land Is … in the public domain

EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation): This Song Belongs to You and Me. Follow the dots as we watch a case lesson in how not to profit from copyright:

  1. Website JibJab releases immensely popular Flash animation parody of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” starring Kerry and Dubya.
  2. Ludlow Music threatens to sue JibJab, claiming it owns the copyright to Guthrie’s song.
  3. JibJab engages EFF and files suit against Ludlow, claiming fair use rights.
  4. EFF investigates and finds that Ludlow filed copyright in 1956, eleven years after Guthrie first sold sheet music with the song and sixteen years after he wrote it. In 1940, the copyright term was 28 years, renewable once. Ludlow failed to renew the copyright in 1973, so the song effectively fell into the public domain—Ludlow’s late renewal in 1984 notwithstanding.
  5. Ludlow backs down.

Cool. Good work, EFF. (Via BoingBoing.)

Another giant leap for (wo)mankind

Boston Globe: MIT set to pick its first female president. If highly qualified scientist and Yale University provost Susan Hockfield rises to the presidency of the greatest science and engineering school in the world, she will set a gold standard example to women in science and engineering everywhere—not to mention helping the reversal of the systematic marginalization of female professors at the Institute that was first documented in the 1990s.

New home page design at Microsoft.com

My friends on the Microsoft.com Home Page team just released a new home page design. Alex Barnett collects some reviews. I note that the JavaScript code for ClickTrax is gone. The code looks cleaner (though it still uses tables for positioning, it’s gone from using over 40 down to seven, and there are now no spacer gifs!). I know there are developers and designers working on the team who understand modern markup (some of the work is done by the same guys who designed the new UI for Microsoft.com Search) and it’s really starting to show.

Minor quibble: in Safari, there are artifacts around the Microsoft logo in the upper left corner:

artifacts around microsoft logo on home page

Also, I’d have loved to see a more flexible layout—there’s still a big band of unused space around the edges. But these things are going to be easier to do next time out. Well done, folks.

The last echoes of Big Star: Chris Bell, I Am The Cosmos

I found a lost gem in my aggregator last night: in the iTunes Just Added feeds was a listing for Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos. Without thinking, even though I had only heard one song from the album, I clicked and bought it.

And am I glad I did. As many of the Amazon reviewers commented, there are echoes here of John Lennon’s 1970s work (in particular, “Better Save Yourself” sounds like it would be at home on Shaved Fish), and the whole album admirably showcases why Chris should be remembered as Alex Chilton’s equal partner in making the first Big Star record the incredible musical moment it was.

Silver Queen? Not really

I miss eating Silver Queen corn, which we used to get in Pennsylvania in the summer when I grew up. Or at least I think I miss Silver Queen; this article in the New York Times Dining & Wine section suggests that the sweet white varieties being offered commercially—and even being grown by small farmers—in the Mid-Atlantic aren’t Silver Queen at all, but several modern descendants of the sweet, white-kerneled corn. (Apparently the real stuff converts its sugars to starches within 24 hours of being picked and stored in hot weather, which makes it unsuitable for grocery sale.) How disillusioning. Kinda. Whatever they’re selling still tastes good.

Once more: wireless printing

It seems that every time we move I spend a few hours reconfiguring our network so that we can print over WiFi to our LaserJet 2100M. This time, as I mentioned last week, the issue was physical; I couldn’t physically connect the printer to the wireless access point as I did before, so I ordered a wireless-to-Ethernet adapter, the SMC 2671W.

The adapter arrived last night, but what with the skunk attack and everything else, it took until this morning for me to get the box open and start working on it. As the reviewers on Amazon have commented, the setup for this thing is non-intuitive via the Web, so here’s how I went about it.

  1. Power up the adapter and connect it to my laptop via the enclosed Ethernet cable. (You may need to toggle the switch on the back between a standard and crossover Ethernet connection until you get a steady green light in the middle indicator.)
  2. Configure your laptop’s Ethernet address to something in the same range as the SMC’s default Ethernet address, which is (I used
  3. Open your web browser and point it to
  4. Use the Site Survey to find your wireless network and click on the SSID to join (note: if your wireless network does not broadcast the SSID, you’ll need to type this information in).
  5. Reset the IP address of the adapter via the Web interface to a valid address on your network. Because my base station serves as a NAT, all the addresses on my LAN are 10.0.1.* addresses, so I gave the adapter the address, and told it to use my base station ( as a gateway.
  6. Reset your laptop’s Ethernet connection to obtain an address via DHCP.
  7. At this point I could connect to Internet sites through the adapter, meaning that the adapter had successfully joined the network and was accessing the Internet through the base station.
  8. I now disconnected the adapter from my laptop and connected it into the WAN port of my 10-port router, and connected the printer into the router. And darned if it didn’t work the first time.

So my network topology is now clusters of wired functionality connected only by 802.11b:

network map

Things come in threes…

…so after our dogs narrowly escaped getting sprayed by a skunk on our front steps last night, I don’t want to know what the other two things to come are going to be.

I opened our front door and our storm door at 10:30 last night, and the dogs bounded out the door and down the steps, where in a second I saw them start barking at something that looked like a big black raised tail. I saw the white in the fur a second before I desperately hauled the dogs back in, but it was too late for the front stoop. Lisa has hit it with a Clorox solution but there’s still a residual stink. And we washed the dogs, just in case. Twice.

Speaking to our neighbors, we learned that skunks are not uncommon in this neighborhood, and there may even be an albino skunk wandering around. So I guess that’s my cue to keep a sharper eye out.


I am, finally, legally recognized as a resident of Massachusetts. As I wrote on Friday, I’ve had some adventures with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Lisa and I went together on Monday with the objective of changing our Washington State drivers’ licenses, and getting our cars registered in the state. That’s four transactions (two drivers, two cars). On the first date, we managed exactly one transaction: Lisa’s driver’s license. We had a cable bill in her name, but at that point, no proof that I resided in Massachusetts; and our insurance agent hadn’t signed our proof-of-insurance papers.

The next day I took care of some preliminary insurance stuff, and then returned to the RMV. I got my car registered, but not Lisa’s (we didn’t realize she had to sign her form). And I couldn’t get my drivers’ license, because I had an as-yet-un-notarized copy of our mortgage papers but no other proof of our identity. So far: two trips to the RMV, each time waiting at least two hours; two transactions in total completed. I was scoring one-for-one.

A smart man would have concluded that I had two more trips to the RMV coming and planned accordingly. I optimistically returned with different proof of residence and Lisa’s signed paperwork on Wednesday. Result: Lisa’s car was now registered, but my drivers’ license was not yet issued, as my other proof of residence was not accepted either.

Today I returned with our checkbook, which had my name and address in it, and got my driver’s license issued.

Four RMV visits, four successful transactions. But we’re finally legal.