Friday, December 21, 2007

The Appellate Court Judge on Eric Volz

One of the appellate judges who ruled Eric Volz should be released from prison was interviewed as part of the package on the Today Show earlier this week. He looked at the evidence and clearly saw that there was no possible way that Eric could have possibly committed the crime he was convicted of, ruling that he should be immediately released.

Unforunately, if past record serves as an indicator, he'll probably lose his job or began to face threats from the public due to the anger and propaganda surrounding the trial, which is a shame. As my brother said yesterday: you do the right thing, and sometimes it hurts you.

Too bad the original judge caved to the massive local and media pressure in the original trial in which she discarded the evidence in favor of the "easier" road of conviction. If only she had half the gumption of this man.

Watch the entire 6-minute package from the Today Show. (Video not embedded)

And as always,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Free Eric Volz!

I haven't posted in a long while, but I need to get some traffic going to Will Hinton's open letter to President Bush, urging his involvement in freeing Eric Volz, an American held illegally in prison in Nicaragua, from prison immediately. His conviction was overturned earlier this week, but Nicaraguan authorities are holding him in jail without cause or merit under the law.

Free Eric Volz!

Learn more at

Monday, October 29, 2007

Amazon still sitting on hands

A full 10 days after placing an order for 4 in-stock items, direct from Amazon, and receiving a shipping message 6 days ago, I still get this message when I try to track the package:

And you know why? Because they haven't shipped it yet, even though it says they have. So Amazon: I'm not signing up for your silly prime service. So quit intentionally delaying my orders if you want me to come back. There are plenty of other options these days.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amazon: Intentionally slowing down free shipping?

We'll know in a few days, but I suspect the answer to be "yes". I ordered a few cd's last, all in stock, and all directly from Amazon and not a third party. As I usually do, I got the free Super Saver Shipping since the order qualified. I don't expect to receive the order in two days or anything, but I certainly expect it to be shipped as soon as the items are pulled and ready.

I made the order on October 19th, and it didn't ship until October 23rd, even though all the items were in stock. But even now, when I login to check the status of the order and click "track your package," a message comes up that says "tracking information not available at this time." I may be way off base, but I suspect that it hasn't been shipped yet and is simply on hold in a warehouse somewhere, since the estimated delivery date is October 31 - November 6th.

Seriously, 12 days at the earliest to deliver 4 in-stock cd's, when I'm in DC and likely near a distribution center of some kind? I'm guessing if I ever do get detailed tracking info that I'll find out that the package did not ship on the 23rd, but likely several days after that.

There's no form of shipping on the lowest rung, UPS, DHL, FedEx, or even USPS, that takes 8 days to make it to a destination that's not hidden in North Dakota or something. Once it's shipped, there's no reason it would take less than 3-4 business days to get here, unless the CD's were ONLY in a warehouse in Seattle. And even then, UPS usually still makes it cross-country in five days.

I've used Super Saver Shipping for years now, and I suspected that Amazon is intentionally delaying their free shipping to entice customers to sign up for their new Amazon Prime shipping service; a great deal if you order 9-10 or more times a year.

Turns out I'm not the only one who has noticed the drop in service:

and most damning of all, their own customer forum

Amazon, if I'm way off base here, I'll delete this post. But I seriously doubt my order is even in the mail.

I'll be ok. Not a big deal, but this is seriously annoying.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I nearly dropped the paper when I read this yesterday:

Fred Smoot, less than a role model already (Minnesota Sex Boat scandal), perhaps uttered the dumbest quote of the NFL year so far after the Redskins close win last Sunday. Smoot, apparently forgetting about some guy named "Mike Vick" for the moment, made a less-than-fortunate analogy to the Redskins' ability to finish teams off:

Later, cornerback Fred Smoot grumbled in the locker room that he and his teammates could not keep allowing these games to unravel. "Finish it off" is a phrase the Washington players often use to describe games in which they appear to be in control early. They had come close to not finishing "it off."

"Once you got the dog down you got to kill it," Smoot said.

Uhhh...Fred Smoot everyone! Let's give him a hand!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Moving update

I never thought we'd be this far along after just four days, but we're nearly finished moving.

Courtesy of our gracious new landlords, they let us start moving "some stuff over" on Monday. I don't think they knew we were going to move absolutely everything over during the course of the week, but that's what we've done. After Tuesday, we had piles of stuff in the center of each room, but after he painted the living room on Tuesday, I figured that room was done anyway. So I started organizing and putting things where they go.

Since Monday, we've filled up my truck 8 times, and a friend's car trunk twice on Tuesday when we had help from friends. Not only did this save us the cost of having to rent a moving truck to do it in one day, the place is 3/4 unpacked and settled. Every night this week (except Monday when I just moved everything from the walls), I've taken the Bride back home and then biked back over to arrange the bedroom (Tuesday), arrange and unpack the living room (Wednesday), and put wardrobes together (Wednesday and Thursday).

Wednesday and Thursday, we just took one load in the truck over and then spent the rest of the time unpacking and organizing.

So now we have left: Couch, bed, dresser, dressing table, baker's rack, kitchen table, and bathroom stuff. That's basically it. So instead of a full 14 hour day on Saturday in the heat of packing an entire truck, moving it all into the apartment, and then unpacking in the midst of chaos, we're going to have 2 hours and 2-4 truckloads of big stuff left. That's it.

This is totally the way to move.

I'd post some pictures I took the other night. I found the camera after all, but now I can't find the cable to hook it up!

If we can get some help, we'll move everything but the bed tonight and sleep in a nearly empty house. We have Labor Day off on Monday, and up until yesterday, I figured we were going to be busy unpacking and recovering all day on Monday and not able to enjoy it.

Dude, we're going to be DONE on Monday.

But we might be recovering. Last week (coding and launching the new blog) and then this one at work (three speeches) have been crazy, and I haven't gone to sleep before 1:30 a single day this week after working at the new place late every night.

I think I'm about as tired as I have ever been. I'm totally going on fumes at this point. I'm not actually sure how I'm still sitting upright and getting work done at all.

I'll have some pictures once I find a cord. Later!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'll be on the lookout for a pony-tailed Scottish guy with a big sword

Man, I meant to post this the day it happened, but unfortunately I was actually working at work, so I couldn't. I was telling my friend Dan this story this afternoon, and it reminded me to post it. There's going to be some colorful language here, so turn away if you don't want to read it (ahem family members)

I'm sitting in Farragut Square with my friend Kasey last Thursday eating lunch. There are a few interesting characters who hang out in the park all day long, from the hordes of bike couriers, to the sleeping homeless guys, and occassionally the severely crazy people.

There's a woman I've seen there before, usually talking to herself hanging out in the park. Well, I'm in the middle of a conversation with Kasey, but I see her making a beeline for us from across the park with her eyes fixed on me. So I'm listening or talking one, but I'm totally distracted with this woman walking up to us.

And she stops right next to us, bends down closely, looks severely pissed off, waves a finger in my face, and says emphatically:

Don't you EVER tell me to settle down again! If you do, I will find a FUCKING Highlander to come after you! Do you hear me?

Kasey and I sorta just stared at her dumbfounded, and tried not to laugh as she waited for us to concur that we understood the ramifications of ever telling her to settle down.

I for one, am going to be on the lookout for this guy on my six'o clock for the next few weeks:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The moving has begun

Well, I should be in bed now, but I have too much rolling around my brain. Measurements, boxes, furniture alignments, and all that's left won't stop cycling through my gray matter. The moving began on Monday. I guess it really began last Saturday when we started packing what we could fit in a corner of Meridian Place. Our new landlords were kind enough to let us start moving in early, and it's made all the difference in how this process has worked out.

The old tenants moved out the first week of August, and then our landlords went out of town 'til the 11th. I asked if we could get in a day or two early, and it turns out we got a week instead. Mr. Landlord is still painting the walls to make things look fresh, and handling a few other things, but we started taking our stuff over last night.

I tell you what, moving things over in batches during 75 degree evenings sure beats the experience we had last year. Hottest day of the summer, moving in the middle of the day...good night that was terrible.

Last night we started moving, just the two of us, and we got 3 full loads in the truck over, which was a lot of stuff! I did the last load by myself, and it was late enough that parking was terrible here so I had to ferry it halfway down the block to the truck. All our stuff basically got piled up in the center of the rooms over in Mt.P so the walls could still be painted.

Here's what it looked like with the other folks stuff in it:

We'll send pictures after this Saturday when we get all moved in and all.

After last night's tiring work by ourselves, tonight we had help. So thanks Laura, Randall, Yan, and Daniel for all of the great help. You are all good friends and you gave selflessly. We appreciate it.

When we suffered through the moving by ourselves when we got to DC, we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that we'd probably have some friends here by the time we moved again, so all that we brought in by ourselves, would be brought back out with the help of others.

Tomorrow night we're just going over with one load, maybe 2, and then beginning the process of putting things where they go now that walls are painted. We've got our IKEA wardrobes that we've got to put together, and lots of boxes to unpack. There's not a whole lot left to move before we're ready to really get all the way out of here. We'll be moving the bed, couch, and other big stuff over on Saturday, but hopefully finishing in time for the UGA vs. Okie State game later that evening.

Pictures to follow....

If I can find where I packed the camera.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The LA Times on Critical Mass

For those of you who may not know what it is, Critical Mass is a monthly (or other intervals) bike ride by bike advocates. I took part in one back in Athens on my old BMX bike. Bike riders bike en masse, flaunting traffic regulations, blocking traffic, and doing everything possible to draw attention to themselves and the need for better bike facilities and conditions on our roads. Now, to be fair, not all Critical Mass rides across the country are as rude as the ones portrayed in this story from the LA Times, but many of them are.

As a biker, and one who is concerned about safety and accesibility of bikers in The District and beyond, I can't say I've ever thought these rides were a good idea. I know some would argue that when the pendulum has swung far to one side of the spectrum (designing for cars at all costs), overcompensation is required to swing the pendulum far back the other direction so it recenters.

While I was reading this story this morning, I thought of this analogy:

There once was (or is) a popular perception that all the major news and media outlets, especially network and cable television news, had a leftist or liberal slant. So along came Fox News. They came up with a nifty slogan—"Fair and Balanced". Which would be great, except they want to have it both ways.

They want to be known as the unbiased, fair, accurate answer to the perceived leftist slant, which they say has no business in journalism and isn't fair to viewers. But rather than actually living up to "We Report, You Decide", they clearly skew to the Right instead. So which is it? Fair and balanced, or "recentering the discussion by tilting the other direction? You can't be both. I wouldn't mind FN so much if they just came out and said, "hey, the playing field is unlevel, so we're just going to a news organization with a slant that serves as a mouthpiece for the Right, cus, y'know, they don't really have one out there."

I feel like Critical Mass does a similar thing. Yes it raises awareness about the car-centric view of roads, possibly like the initial discussion about Fox News got people talking about the bias of networks. (It sure did when I was in journalism school.) But at the end of the day, I think Critical Mass does more harm than good by escalating the issue (roads made for all users) into an open hostile polemicized "battle." And then they become exactly what they're protesting: One small user group dominating the roadway at the expense of the other.

A quote from the story illustrates this well: "For 29 days a month, cars call the shots. It's Auto Mass," said Kate McCarthy, a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "But for a few hours of one day, we turn the tables. We take the streets back."

And in doing so in such a fashion where traffic rules don't apply, rudeness rules the day, and the needs of others fall by the wayside, they take what should be a reasoned discussion and devolve it into an oversimplified "Us vs. Them" battle that does no one any good.

I'd imagine that if I was a regular motorist in DC, and was on the fence about the need for more money for sharrows, bike lanes, or other bike facilities, this sort of action could certainly sway me against the bikers. It's self-serving and completely un-productive. More bikers organizing (like with WABA here) and positively reinforcing their message through events like Bike to Work Day and targeted lobbying of officials and business leaders will lead to much more of a productive outcome than pissing everyone off with blatant disrespect.

In the story, several of the riders complain about the perception that motorists have of them: that they're riding a child's toy and that they should grow up. And the biker respond with a monthly childish hissy fit, flaunting the rules that they say the drivers should have to obey. That'll teach em that you're not children!

If you're not willing to follow the rules on one day out of 30, why would you follow them on the other 29? And why shouldn't the cars box you in and smash their car into your bike for no reason if you do the same?

Thumbs down, Critical Mass.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Going hungry so the cars keep running

Will ethanol save us from climate change, reduce our dependence on foreign oil (or oil period), and allow us to keep living the exact same way?

This is not just hype -- it's dangerous, delusional bullshit. Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption -- yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World. And the increasing acreage devoted to corn for ethanol means less land for other staple crops, giving farmers in South America an incentive to carve fields out of tropical forests.
Here's to hoping this story will soon shift from lefty type publications easily dismissed by segments of society and into the Newsweeks of the world. He may be too alarmist for some of you, but James Kunstler has been all over this one for years now.
As a Pennsylvania farmer put it to me in February: "It looks like we're going to burn up the last remaining six inches of Midwest topsoil in our gas-tanks." Friedman's statement also ignores the facts that running cars on ethanol would make no material difference in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, or that ethanol is 20 percent less efficient than gasoline, meaning we would have to produce and use that much more of the stuff just to stay where we are.