The Big Dig We Must

It’s somehow comforting to realize that, after all the years of construction, heavy machinery, foundation problems, and everything, the biggest threat to the two big sections of the Big Dig opening on time is… software. Or, more precisely, software plus all the infrastructure needed to run it. (Why is it that no one thinks until it’s too late about avoiding the need for “temporary… leased phone lines or microwave” data lines?) It’s not like they didn’t know they were going to need software a long time ago…

Like I said, though, it’s comforting to know that the software is the “make or break” for the opening of the tunnel. Software, after all, can be fixed, and everyone’s software is bad.

There’s good news…

An unexpected letter today from my friend Dan in DC. A while back when I was singing with Suscipe Quaeso Domine (aka the Suspicious Cheese Lords), we used to joke about doing a joint concert with the Mediaeval Baebes. (The Baebes were founded by Katharine Blake from Miranda Sex Garden and exemplified a female version of our attitude toward medieval music, only with sexy costumes.) Since the group was UK based, I finally, reluctantly assumed nothing would ever come of it.

Fast forward to today, when I receive a card from Dan. He writes, “Now that you’re in the West I’m not sure if you keep up-to-date on the Mediaeval Baebes. This year, they played the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and several of your old Cheeselord clan was in attendance. They managed to meet the Baebes, and they got you the enclosed signed and lipsticked token.”

Inside was a postcard announcing the new album. On the back: signatures and one lip print from the Baebes, including Ruth, Marie, Cylindra, Audrey, and Teresa, among others.

As Opus once said, “I got the best friends in all known space!!!”

Summing up undergrad in half an hour

The recruiting panel for the University of Virginia last night was fun. Assistant Dean Shawn acquitted himself nobly. The panel discussion was good, though at one point a bit awkward (“What’s the alcohol policy? And how many students drink anyway? And what about outside the dorms?” Umm…). At the end, we were asked to sum up our first impressions and how they changed by the end. My rambling version could be condensed to this: “When I arrived I was a little in awe. I mean, Thomas Jefferson! The man was President, and he left that off his tombstone, but put on that he founded the University! But by the end I felt like the school was my family.”

I drove away feeling that my description had been inadequate. But on further reflection I realized it would have to be inadequate. How do you do justice to a place and an experience that made you an adult and a leader? that took a boy and put him on the road to manhood?

Mario in the house

We watched Mario Batali make orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe yesterday afternoon in front of a large crowd at the Festa Italiana Seattle. He was appropriately fun and informative, explaining the rationale behind using hard semolina flour for his orecchiette, then busting a little on Emeril (he added a clove of garlic to the sauce he was cooking and said, “Bam. Now you’ll notice that’s the only ingredient that makes a noise going in…. Don’t get me wrong, I like Emeril a lot. But we have different styles. I prefer to let the food do the talking.”)

Mario also managed to set a towel on fire. He had been letting his saute pan heat over a gas burner, and as soon as he added oil flames jetted up a good two or three feet into the air. He said, “Now when this happens in our kitchen we don’t get loud or panicky. We just say, ‘Smokey, put that fire out!’” He then proceeded to try to smother the flames with a towel, which promptly caught fire. He tossed it to the stage and stomped it out into the green plastic carpet. Afterwards his dad (who runs a great salumeria in Seattle) crept onto the stage to retrieve the towel and could be heard saying, “It’s stuck…”

Afterwards we tried out some of his dad’s salumi, which were tremendous, and got an autographed copy of Babbo, Mario’s cookbook. It was a good time.

Adam: the politics of talking

In a pair of good blog entries, Adam discusses the thought process that goes into participating in class discussions at HBS. For that matter, a lot of the thought process is the same at Sloan. I like the point about stale hands. I think the same is true about other discussion forums. There’s nothing more annoying that finding a discussion that was finished months ago bubbling up again because someone stumbled upon it and had to add his $0.02.

iSync, therefore iAm

With my wireless dead, it took me a day to find out that iSync had finally been released (in beta). Pluses: great interface, reasonable speed syncing to my iPod and my .Mac account. Minuses: didn’t detect my iPod automatically when plugged in (there’s a “Scan for devices” button); my sync’d address book doesn’t show up in Webmail at my .Mac account; it wasn’t smart enough to figure out that I had manually exported a .ics file from iCal to my iPod and created duplicate entries.

Rainy Seattle day

We got Larry safely off yesterday after wandering the Public Market for a while. (In case you were wondering, the Athenian Inn is long on atmosphere and view, short on staff and food.) We decided to go to see Mario on Sunday and napped and gardened yesterday prior to going to dinner at Arvind and Kim’s. Excellent company and Indian food.

It’s raining today so it’s a good chore day. Brining a chicken for roasting later, organizing the files, laundry, transferring prescriptions from Massachusetts. Ah, domesticity.

Wireless gateway resources

Apple hasn’t adjusted its price points downwards on its wireless networking gear to compensate for the general industry trend. This is ironic, because Apple was a prime mover in making WiFi more popular and therefore driving prices down. The net effect is that I&8217;m wondering whether I should look elsewhere for a replacement wireless router.

I started trying to find a comparison matrix of the different models on the market through Google. Fortunately for me, the 802.11b/WiFi blog has already done the legwork to compare the feature sets, though their comparison chart needs to be updated to cover Microsoft’s entry into the market. Adam suggests the SMC model with print server in the discussion group (registration required). It looks like one of a couple of good entries.

Wireless hiatus

The good news: Doc got his base station back (the one that was lost a month ago at Linux World).

The bad news: my original graphite base station has bitten the dust. It continuously flashes amber and red lights (before now it would intermittently cycle into red and then back to normal functioning). It’s outside the range of known bad serial numbers, which means we’ll have to pay for a new one. Maybe I’ll have to put off that new DVD player for a month or two.

Birth of the Bush Doctrine

Greg points to the Al Gore speech and points out some interesting parallels between now and 1991, when the campaign was under way and Gore was part of a team hammering Senior about the economy.

Because of Greg’s link, I finally went back and read Gore’s speech. And I have to say, I’m actually pretty impressed. The speech echoes my thoughts of the past six months:

At this fateful juncture in our history it is vital that we see clearly who are our enemies, and that we deal with them. It is also important, however, that in the process we preserve not only ourselves as individuals, but our nature as a people dedicated to the rule of law …

What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.


Lyric revisionism in service of products

Just heard the first commercial to use music from Moby’s new album 18 (as opposed to his completely licensed album Play): an Intel commercial using “We Are All Made of Stars.” To begin with, using Moby’s song for a commercial promoting burning mix CDs is pretty cool. However, they revised the chorus: Instead of “People they come together/People they fall apart/No one can stop us now/Cause we are all made of stars,” they substitute “We are all made of stars” for “People they fall apart.”

Why the substitution? I think it makes it a weaker song. Is it to avoid any mention at all of negative things, fearing that we weak consumers will freak out? It’s very sad, I think, that advertising agencies think so little of us. After all, Windows 95 was sold with a song whose chorus featured the line “You make a grown man cry,” and people bought it in droves. (Granted, they cut the song before the line. But at least they didn’t alter the parts that they played.)

Later: Just heard the commercial again, and damned if they didn’t play the song unaltered. So much for punditry.