mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Saying goodbye to a part of me...

I knew this day was coming for years. It was genetic - it had affected my father and my older brother, and it would hit me one day. But I always tried not to think about it - to pretend that it somehow wouldn't happen to me, that it couldn't happen to me. But now it is.

No, I don't have cancer or some serious disease. If anything, it's proof of both my own health and the quality of life in America that what is afflicting me can be called a disease, that there are medications that are supposed to help it. Because what I'm suffering from is male pattern baldness.

I noticed a few months ago that my hair was starting to thin at the top, but I tried to ignore it. But the last couple days, I've noticed that the top of my forehead has started to creep up, and that there are quarter-sized patches without hair on both sides of my head. So far, it isn't too noticable, as the rest of my hair covers it, but it will grow, and it will become noticable.

So pretty soon I will have the curse of not only being fat but also bald. Add in my general social awkwardness, and you have the ugly loner trifecta. Going bald at age 24.

There are a couple of ways I can deal with . The first is to ignore it - keep pretending that it's not happening, and when it becomes obvious, try to comb over to make it less noticeable.

The second option is to wear hats all the time. I actually have a coworker who does this, with some success. The only problem is that it's become his trademark - people refer to him as "the guy with the hat" - and I don't want to tread on that.

The third thing that I can do is shave off the hair that's left. I'm not sure how well I can carry off the cueball look, but it might be worth a try.

I'm glad I did the hair bleaching thing when I did, since pretty soon I won't have anything left to dye. I'm hoping enough hair sticks around that I can try dying it red eventually.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The cut rate goes upscale

I was reading about the protesters ejected from the Professionals in the City Cuban Embassy party and stumbled on an upcoming event in Baltimore - a wine tasting at the "wine underground". The address - Evans Chapel Road - seemed oddly familiar.

And then I realized why - the "Wine Underground" was where my roomates and I bought beer in college before we turned 21. It used to have a different name back then though - Frank's Cut-Rate Liquors.

See, we didn't have any of those fancy fake ID's, so we had to find a pathetic enough liquor store tha would't bother carding us, and Frank's was it. Located in an old house, with 70's era paneling and shag carpet, and cut-rate prices on those college staples, Shaffer Light and Ruble Vodka.

Shopping at Frank's was always an experience. Once, the guy behind the cash register appeared to be sipping on vodka as he rang us up. On one occasion, one of my then-roomates was carded. As he pretended to look for ID that wasn't there, the guy behind the counter noticed his college ID and said that it would do, since he just wanted to make sure he wasn't a cop.

The point-of-sale system at Frank's was also, umm, interesting. It once rang up a 40 and a small bottle of Kahluah, and declared a total in the neighborhood of $750.

I wonder if anything has changed, other than the name and the umm, professinals in the city.

I am so smart, S-M-R-T

Your IQ Is 130

Your Logical Intelligence is Genius
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

My coffee done blow up...

I woke up early this morning (falling asleep 10pm last night will do that) and thought "maybe I'll stop by Dunkin' Donuts for coffee this morning". Then I talked myself out of it - I mean, why spend $2 on take-out coffee when I can brew it myself for next to nothing, like I do most days?

So I get out of the shower, put on boxers and a tee shirt, and go to the kitchen. Put the filter in my Cuisnart coffee maker, put in 4 scoops of Folgers, and go back to my room to finish getting dressed. That's when I remeber I never bothered to put water in the coffee pot.

Turn off the coffee maker. Now the bottom of the coffee pot is really hot, and if I fill it with cold water it might shatter. So I put a couple drops of water in, swirl it around until the bottom of the pot is cool. I then add some water, pour it into the pot...

and the coffee pot gives it right back to me - on my shirt, on the counter, on the floor.

I change my shirt and head out to Dunkin' Donuts...

Friday, June 24, 2005

When timing is everything...

A while ago, I scored a free TV Guide subscription - although I found myself tossing them without reading them, since I pretty much watch whatever my RePlay has on it. But TV Guide generously decided to send me a free sample of their new, magazine (instead of digest) sized mag today.

I started flipping through it - and noticed that the episode of Bullshit! sounded like one I had seen two weeks ago. That's when I looked at the date on the front cover - June 12-19. Yup, last week's.

Now, if you publish, say, Maxim, sending a free sample of last month's issue is fine. After all, hot chicks and dirty jokes never get old. But when the primary reason people buy your mag is for TV listings, sending last week's listings doesn't make your magazine very useful - and probably leaves a bad taste in potential subscriber's mouths.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Deep thoughts, 24 edition

(occurred to me while watching season 3 of the show 24 on DVD)

How come a bunch of government agents and Mexican drug dealers can get a perfect cell phone signal in the middle of a forest in Mexico, and I can't make a phone call from my apartment in the middle of Baltimore City without getting it dropped?

Deep thoughts, supreme edition..

Is it a sign you eat too much taco bell when the guy behind the counter goes "hey, I see you changed your hair color"?

The return of the Aspen..

Chrysler is bringing back the Aspen name. Unlike the compact Dodge Aspen of the '70's, the Chrysler Aspen will be a full-sized SUV.

This Aspen talk brings back memories - the family station wagon until I turned 7 or so was a 1978 Dodge Aspen wagon - white, with woodgrain and a tan vinyl interior. It wasn't a bad car - my parents got 100,000 miles out of it with minimal problems. The interior fit and finish could have used some help though - my dad remembers that he used to be able to unlock the car by reaching his hand around the panel gaps between the door and fram.

My family has made some, umm, odd car choices, and the Aspen was replaced by a much worse car - a 1986 Renault Alliance sedan.

All in the family...

I watch Penn and Teller's Bullshit. Sometimes they manage to state exactly what I believe (when they beat on PETA and recycling), sometimes I firmly disagree with them (religion), and sometimes I can't find myself really caring (circumcision, cursing).

They had an episode a while ago on family values that had been sitting on my RePlay for a while. I finally got around to watching it a few days ago during my "use up my personal days" vacation.

The bulk of it was on why they disagreed with conservatives like Michael Medved that the traditional family and marriage was good/necessary/important. Their proof that it was were studies that kids raised by lesbian couples do as well as ones with 2 heterosexual parents, and two examples - a lesbian couple with 2 kids concieved by artificial insemination, and a foursome - a married couple that lived with their girlfriend and boyfriend.

I still tend to think that having a father in a household is a good thing, and gives a little bit of that "diversity" that liberals always love. But it's probably fair to say that a kid raised by two loving, concerned lesians or gays is probably going to come out ok.

But it seemed to me that there was a big elephant in the room that Penn and Teller managed to keep hidden (they are magicians, after all). That is the "nontraditional" family that makes up the bulk of "nontraditional" families - single parent households. The traditional family hasn't been replaced by lesbian couples raising kids - they are a tiny segment of the population, and I don't think people "choose" to be a lesbian couple instead of a heterosexual couple.

No, it's single parent households that make up the bulk of nontraditional families. It would seem fairly intuitive that having two parents (of whatever gender) is going to make kids better off than having one parent, if only from an economic standpoint - two incomes are better than one, and a second parent means more time to spend with the kids in terms of taking care of them, educating them, watching them, and, well, parenting them.

And unlike kids raised by lesbian couples, kids raised by single parents generally are worse off.

This isn't to disparage single parents - stuff happens, and a kid is probably better off with one parent who cares about the kid than a household where one or more parent abuses or neglects the kid. But many women are choosing to be single parents, and I think that is a choice that is contributing to a cycle of inner-city poverty. To not even address this issue on a show about how "traditional families are bullshit" seems like, well, bullshit to me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

An interest-ing statistic....

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I want to buy a house. I was hoping to do it this year, but I've decided to table it to next year. This is partly for personal reasons - I want to focus on a few other things, like grad classes and my diet - and partly because I'm hoping that prices will drop a little bit and that my savings will increase.

The Baltimore Sun this Sunday had an interesting editorial on interest-only mortgages in Maryland. They now make up 24% of new mortgages in Maryland.

That's scary. It shows how high home prices are. But the fact that banks are willing to give them, and that people are willing to take them, is hurting people like me who are unwilling to use them - because now you have lots more people in the housing market who probably shouldn't be, and they are bidding up the price of houses.

To me, a reverse mortgage sort of defeates the purpose of buying a house, since you aren't building up any equity. It's sort of like leasing the house with an option to buy. It bets that housing prices will continue to increase - and if they don't, the people who are using them will have paid a bunch of money for a house that they can't refinace or flip for a profit - or pay for at all.

What I fear will happen is that soon after I buy my house, the housing prices will fall and I'll get burned. But if I don't buy and the prices keep going up, I'm also screwed.

I am of the mind, however, that housing prices won't decrease all that much. There are a lot of people like me who are waiting out buying houses, and they will move into the market once prices start falling, which will drive prices back up. And in places like the Baltimore Metro area, there is a land gap - there is only so many places you can put houses that are close to where people work. Since most people don't want an hour commute, they will want to live somewhere near the Beltway - and prices will continue to be high because supply can't really increase too much because there isn't a lot of room for new construction.

Also, I've noticed that almost all of the new construction of late is aimed at the higher end of the market - $300,000+ houses. That means that the supply of houses for first-time or low-income buyers is not increasing. That's bad for me now that I'm a buyer, but it may be good when it comes time for me to sell.

btw, David Bernstein at Volokh had a good personal perspective on this issue almost a year ago - which is one of the first places I heard of interest-only mortgages.

Gitmo out...

There are a bunch on the left decrying the percieved "torture" at Gitmo - the horror of Christina Agularia music and naked ladies that poor terrorists were subject to. I don't have a lot to add to that, as others like Lileks and Goldstein have already said it better than I can.

But much of what the left wants to close Gitmo down to reduce the "negetive perceptions" of the US by, well, people like them. The Baltimore Sun, for example, ran this editorial calling for the closure of gitmo. What the editorial - or anyone I've heard so far - doesn't answer is what to do with the terrorists who are in Gitmo if we close it.

Option 1 is release the terrorists into the streets. That poses a couple problems. First of all, we've gotten a ton of information from the detainees, which has helped us stop other terrorists and their plots. Secondly, the ones we have released (presumably the least dangerous of the detainees, since we released them) have a nasty habit of going back to fight us. And I can't imagine the very people complaining about Gitmo would not complain if a terrorist attack, or a troop attackin Afganistan or Iraq, occured with the involvement of someone we released from Gitmo.

Option 2 is to move the camp somewhere else. This accomplishes nothing but technically fulfilling the desire of those who want Gitmo closed. The same complaints will occur someone else.

Still, it does bring up a tempting option. Make the liberals happy and announce that we will close Gitmo. Then piss them off even more by announcing that we will be moving the detainees - to Abu Ghraib.


Road rage always puzzles me. That is not to say that I don't get very angry while driving. It's not unusual for me to unleash a string of explatives that would make a sailor blush, especially at people who manage to drive just slow enough to prevent me from making a traffic light while I'm running late to work.

But I usually keep my cursing to myself. I don't honk. I don't flip the bird. I don't yell out the window. Probably because I'm in general scared of confrontation, especially from people I don't know, and because I don't want to appear a jerk.

So I don't understand people who are willing to confront other people over some percieved injustice - especially when they are the person who caused or escalated whatever traffic sin has been committed.

Case in point - I'm driving off the exit ramp near exit 8 on 83 North (the one that if you keep going on goes to falls road). I'm trying to merge. I see a spot in front of an older civic. I put on my blinker and am about to merge when I realize that there is a Ford Explorer sitting in my blind spot. Wait for it to pass, then prepare to move over. The civic is now right near my quarter panel. I accelerate and he accelerate. So I slow down, and he slows down, until we are both almost stopped. He then accelerates, flips me off, and passes me.

Huh? If anyone should be pissed at me, it would be Explorer guy. And does he really think that coming to a near-stop in the right lane of an interstate is a safe driving technique? Or that merging off an exit somehow wrong?

I'm messy, I'm so messy..

I took off yesterday and today. The college I work for gives out 3 personal days per year, which have to be used up by the end of June. There are multiple approaches to using these personal days - use them at the begining, when you first get them, use them as you need them, or forget about them and use them at the last minute. I picked #3.

I've been trying to use this time to get some stuff done, like cleaning. So far, I'm a day into my 2 day "vacation" and haven't accomplished a whole lot. I have a ton of trash, but my room doesn't look any neater. Probably because I have so much stuff piled on top of each other that even getting rid of the first layer doesn't help because there are 10 more layers under it. I'm going to buy some plastic storage boxes today in the hopes that I can store some of the "stuff I don't need but can't bring myself to throw away" stuff.

The other thing is that a bunch of the stuff in here is currently on eBay. I also have a bunch of empty boxes I'm hanging onto until the auctions are done. Once I get rid of that stuff, I'll have a little more room to play with. Or so I keep telling myself.

BTW, here is a picture of my desk, to show you what kind of mess I'm dealing with. For the last year or so, I've been so busy with work and class that I've been like "I'll deal with that later" as far as cleaning. Now it's later, and I'm finding it harder to deal with than I thought (plus I've had more on my plate than I expected to).

Sunday, June 12, 2005


For years, I've wanted to do something crazy with my hair, like dye it blue or bleach it. There has always been something - my Catholic grade and high schools, my rather conservative parents, having to go to job interviews - that has held me back. The other thing that has held me back is the fact that I have incredibly dark brown hair - practically black. So everyone has always told me that I shouldn't even try bleaching it, because it would just turn orange anyway.

I finally have limited excuses. I've been at my job for over 2 years, so I'm fairly sure they won't fire me based on hair color (and if they do, maybe I can argue that hair color, like skin color, is a protected class). I have another month until my grad mba classes start, and my parents are several hundred miles away. Plus, I had a package of Clairol Herbal Essance Maximium Bleach Blond, which was free after rebate at CVS - I used a $2 coupon, so they paid me to buy it. So I decided to ignore the advice and go ahead.

Well, the advice was right. It's kind of orangish, and worse, I missed a big spot on the back-left corner of my head. But the front looks kind of interesting, and it should wash/grow out in 6 weeks or so according to the package. When you think of how many billions of years old the earth is, 6 weeks is like nothing.

And I can say I've bleached my hair. If I was one of those people who made a list of "things to do before I die" I would cross that off.

Question to the gym management, part 1

Is it really necessary to have 2 of the 6 TV's that face the treadmills playing MTV while they are running "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic"?

Going postal...

Looks like the post office might be raising postage rates in January - stamps would go to 39¢ from 37¢ and a 5.4% increase for most types of mail. The first I actually saw of it was on the post office's website - where I was buying Regan commemorative stamps (I don't have the nerve to ask for them in person at a Baltimore post office - I think you can get shot here for that).

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of news coverage on it - maybe I just haven't been watching enough news, or maybe it's overshadowed by the Jackson trial and that missing chick in Aruba. Most of the Google news hits for "postal rate increase" are to direct mail industry sources like this.

The background on it is actually pretty interesting. From what I can understand, the Post Office was overfunding their pensions, and a law was passed to make them reduce the funding of their pensions. However, it also required that the money that would otherwise go into the the pensions go into a trust fund. The Postal Service needs moeny for that trust fund, and is raising the rates.

Only in government do you have overfunding of pensions - coming around the same time that the automobile industry and the airline industry is discovering how underfunded their pensions are.

Gongol led me to this testimony of the postmaster general where he talks about the issues facing the post office.

My government leanings tend to go libertarian, and that doesn't make me like the post office very much. Like most government programs, they benefit some groups (people who live in left bumblefark, where it isn't cost-effective to deliver mail) at the expense of others (urban dwellers, private delivery company owners). I worked in a mail room for two summers in college, and we would frequently get mail for other people in our office complex, for the jail down the street, or for an office complex that was located at, say, 2000 Route 22 when we were 2200 Route 31. I've long gotten a laugh at the occasional shredded piece of mail packaged in the "we use high tech equiptment, and every now it eats your mail" bag. Their delivery confirmation is nothing compared to the UPS delievery tracking that tells you exactly where your package is. And most times when I go to a public post office, I wait in a long line.

In their defense, though, their employees seem to be less surly than they used to be. And they do have some good features - like their Click-n-Ship service, which I use for most of the stuff I sell on eBay. I can print postage and drop it off at the post office at work, without having to wait in line, and I get free delivery confirmation. And they do deliver a whole lot of mail.

So the post office can do well when they want - and it's not surprising that the places that they innovate are in things like package shipping. Click-N-Ship only works for priority and overnight mail, where they compete with DHL, UPS, FedEX, and courier services. Competition in this area has made the post office better. First class mail and retail post offices, where they by law have no competition - USPS has a monopoly on first-class mail - will always be worse, because they have no incentive to improve.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Given a choice...

There seems to be big debate on the internet these days on if it is good that we have a lot of choices. Via Mindles at Janegalt comes the horror of having to buy toothpaste - from, of course, the NY Times.

First of all, I have to say that I'm proud to live in a country where having too many varieties of toothpaste to choose from is worthy of an entire edititorial column in the "newspaper of record".

But I don't understand how people can get annoyed by having lots of choices. Obviously, there are enough people who like those choices to keep buying those products, or nobody would buy them. They must deliver features that people want, or nobody would buy them.

Virginia Postrel explains it best.

Since different people care intensely about different things, only a society where choice is abundant everywhere can truly accommodate the variety of human beings. Abundant choice doesn’t force us to look for the absolute best of everything. It allows us to find the extremes in those things we really care about, whether that means great coffee, jeans cut wide across the hips, or a spouse who shares your zeal for mountaineering, Zen meditation, and science fiction.

People tend to be passionate about different things - so they enjoy having choices in those product catagories and "satisfice" on the rest - work out a compromise that is not ideal, but good enough.

I can think of examples from real life. I have a friend who is an electronics and camera nut. He literally owns dozens of cameras, and several high-end computers, including a Sager. On the other hand, he doesn't care about cars, and views them as appliances. He drives an 8 year old Escort that has never seen a car wash and whose interior is covered by a fuzz composed of spilled soda and dust.

Meanwhile, I'm a bit of a car nut. I'm already thinking about what kind of car I will buy in 2 or 3 years when I replace my PT Cruiser. (right now, I like the Pontiac GTO and the Saab 9 2-x, two very different vehicles, but I'm sure that will change by the time I buy a car, especially since the 9-2x will probably be replaced soon). My desktop computer, on the other hand, is 3 years old and will probably last me another year or two.

Another aspect is that people like variety in many of the products they purchase. There are people who have their regular brand of products that they buy all the time, but there are others who will occasionally "treat" themselves to a different variety or a more expensive product than they normally buy. The variety of products out there means you can drink Folger's during the week and Millstone on Sunday morning.

And sometimes people have very specific life situations that make a product ideal, even though most people don't need that much variety in their lives. My sweatpants quest comes to mind. Somewhere, there is someone who really wants a whitening toothpaste that is a gel and tastes like lemons. Why should they not get it because some NY Times person has a friend who doesn't know what they want in a toothpaste?

Scenes from work, everything-goes-better-with edition

Coworker: You know, I love these Jello snacks. Tastes like candy, and only 10 calories.

Mad Anthony: Well, it's just nutrasweet and boiled cow hooves.

Coworker: what?

Mad Anthony: You do know that it's made from boiled animal parts?

Coworker: No it's not.

Mad Anthony: then what is it made from?

Coworker: I don't know.

Mad Anthony: Well, let's do some research (opens google)

Mad Anthony: here we go

The gelatin you eat in Jell-O comes from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hooves, and connective tissues. To make gelatin, manufacturers grind up these various parts and pre-treat them with either a strong acid or a strong base to break down cellular structures and release proteins like collagen. After pre-treatment, the resulting mixture is boiled. During this process, the large collagen protein ends up being partially broken down, and the resulting product is called gelatin. The gelatin is easily extracted because it forms a layer on the surface of the boiling mixture.

Coworker: Why did you have tell me that?

Can you put on some pants before you talk to me?

About a month ago, I joined the gym (excuse me, "fitness center") at the college where I work. It's a pretty good deal - $300 a year, taken out of my paycheck. Sure, I could use my landlord's very-old treadmill or walk laps around the resevoir, but the gym has some advantages - better and more varied equiptment, TV's, air conditioning, cute college girls (who I would probably be fired for talking to).

I've never been a gym person, or really exersized at all. So one thing I haven't gotten used to is the whole locker room thing. I still find it odd to have conversations with completely naked guys. Specifically, one of the professors I've had as an undergrad will frequently be finishing his workout when I'm getting in. So he usually says hi to me and starts up a conversation with me - while he's completely naked. Which begs the question - is it ruder to not look at him while he's talking (my prefered choice) or to look at him?

I could have sworn I parked here...

The NY Times has an interesting article on the people in NY who had a wall fall on their parked cars on Riverside Drive. It's a bad situation for the people who were parked there - their cars are buried, and their insurance companies won't pay until the cars can be unburied, because otherwise they can't prove that their cars were destroyed. It's like trying to prosecute a murder without a body...

I feel bad for these people - I can't imagine what I would do without my car for a year. The times it has been in the shop for a day or two have been a pain. Not having it for a year would be both a financial and logistical nightmear.

Then again, I can understand where the insurance companies are coming from. When I was in college, I spent two summers working in the mailroom of a large insurance company whose name rymes with "hate parm". I saw some crazy stuff, my favorite being a guy who claimed his car (which was involved in a hit-and-run where the license plate was left at the scene) was stolen. He later admitted he traded the car for crack.

So insurance companies do have to be careful for fraud. But mostly this illustrates the problem with standard policies and procedures. Most of the time when you have a car accident, getting the VIN number and the car is easy. Even stolen cars are frequently recovered within the 30 days that insurance companies wait before paying (although they are usually missing some parts or extra-crispy after being set on fire). When you have an exception like this and follow the standard rules, customers end up losing out.

Of course, living and working in a city, I bet the first thing they thought of when they parked their cars there was "man, I got lucky and got a great parking spot..."

These are not my people...

You know how some people find their dream job, and they say they walked into the place and knew that was where they belonged? Sometimes, you get the opposite feeling...

Working in tech support for a college lets you see all kinds of people - everyone from physical plant employees to the college president. While I normally do helpdesk, lately I've also been helping out on computer migrations - and one of the departments we do is what is called "development". Basically, they are the people who raise money for the college, plan alumni events, do PR, and the like. They make the college's existance possible, but if you are a student, you probably don't even know they exist.

Most of the people who work there are actually pretty nice. But when I walk in there, I always feel out of place. Development is where all the "cool kids" wind up. It's the kind of job that involves lots of public contact, and requires people who really like talking to people. It's filled with well-dressed, talkative, outgoing people who enjoy other people.

In other words, it's kind of the opposite of the people who wind up working in tech support.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The terrorists really do want to win...

I saw Lilek's post from last week about the NY Times expose on the CIA's secret airline.

I like Lilek's commentary on if this kind of thing should be revealed. But the sense I get from this expose is that the NY Times sees this as a "covert operation" and doesn't think that the US should be engaging in "covert operations".

Aero's much-larger ancestor, Air America, was closed down in 1976 just as the United States Senate's Church Committee issued a mixed report on the value of the C.I.A.'s use of proprietary companies. The committee questioned whether the nation would ever again be involved in covert wars.

The war on terrorism (and yes, I am one of those crazy right-wing nutjobs who belives it is a war, and one we need to win) must have covert wars. It's not covert in the sense that we deny that we are fighting it, but it's covert in the manner that we must fight. The terrorists are the very definition of covert - blending into civilian society, using cars and planes as weapons, trying to attack office buildings and amusement parks. We can't fight that war without being covert ourselves.

One thing that makes me realize what a tough battle we have is the Al Queda training manual(via Protein Wisdom.

It's worth skimming - to get an idea of how organized the enemy is in their goal of establishing an Islamic state "by the dialog of bullets, the ideals of assasination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and the machine gun" since "Islamic states are established... by the pen and gun, word and bullet, tounge and teeth".

Yes, their goal is to establish a state religion via violence. And some of the same people who are usually opposed to any form of religion in government seem to have no problem with that...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Maybe now it will have a potato chip aisle...

There's a kind of cool shopping center not too far from where I live - The Rotunda. It's cool in concept anyway - a huge old industrial complex that's been converted into a mall and offices. It houses a RiteAid, a Giant supermarket, and some smaller stores, including a Radio Shack.

Unfortunatly, it also has a bunch of empty stores. And the Giant is, well, anything but Giant - it's tiny, and carries way fewer items than most. As my ex-roomate bsom was fond of saying, no real supermarket doesn't have a potato chip aisle. (the Rotunda Giant has all their salty snacks on endcaps).

Now there is talk of a new owner as well as an expansion of the Giant to double it's size, and presumably give it a real potato chip aisle.

I'm always kind of surprised that the mall isn't more successful - it's a good location, between Hampden (popular among hippie arty types as well as working class Baltimore-ites) and Roland Park (popular among wealthy kinda-urban types). In addition to the location, it has plenty of parking, is convinient and in a cool building. But I guess people prefer to shop at a grocery store with a full selection - and there is another (strip) mall, with a much newer SuperFresh and another Rite Aid - just down the block.

Which I guess proves that a potato chip aisle will beat out a historic building every time.

It's a small internet after all...

A couple days ago, I was watching the latest episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! off my RePlay. The episode was called "College". As someone who works for a college in a staff position, I have a special interest in college since I deal with students and faculty every day.

At one point in the show, the talked about St Cloud State University, and I thought "hey, that's where King from scsu scholars is from. Maybe he'll be on the show". And he was.

It's always interesting to see people from blogs I read in the news. SCSU Scholars isn't a site I read regularly, but I'll check it every week or so - it's intesting to read how a college operates from a conservative prof's viewpoint, and the econoblogging can be pretty interesting too.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Memorial Day photoblogging...

I brought the Minolta Dimage Z1O with me when I was up in NJ this weekend and took some pics.

My parents had asked what I wanted. I don't grill - that's what happens when you live in the city - so asked them to make grilled turkey legs.

my dad, master of the grill

mmm.. turkey

my parent's trusty grill

my parents are rather religious

my car, freshly washed - they 16's, but I keep 'em clean

and let's not forget what Memorial Day was all about

This would look great next to my eOne...

AOpen, a computer hardware manufacturer best known for their motherboards, has revealed the AOpen Pandora, a small-form-factor PC that looks very similar to the Apple Mac Mini.

Now, there is a lengthy discussion in the forum, with Mac fans claiming that it's a direct knockoff of the Mac Mini and PC people saying that it's just a coincidence and that there were other small-form-factor PC's, some of which shared design characteristics of the Mini, before the Mini. I tend to side with the Apple crowd - the Pandora looks nearly identical to the Mac Mini to my eyes. (For the record, I own both a desktop PC and an Apple Powerbook, so I consider myself pretty neutral).

There is a bunch of debate over if Apple will sue AOpen, and if they will win.

What's funny is that this isn't the first time that a company has tried to make a knockoff of an Apple product and gotten sued by Apple. When the original Bondi Blue iMac came out, eMachines came out with a knockoff, the eOne. The eOne looked similar to the iMac, but was a Celeron running Windows 98. It also had a few interesting features of it's own - including RCA inputs, so you could hook up a gaming console or DVD player and use it as a monitor.

Apple sued eMachines, and they ended up settling the case by agreeing to pull the eOne.

In a way, it doesn't really matter if the AOpen is a ripoff of the Mac Mini or not - chances are that Apple will sue (Apple likes to sue). AOpen will probably wind up giving in and settling - small form factor PC's aren't a big part of their business, and they would probably rather stop selling these than devote the time and money to fighting the lawsuit.

As a side note, I'm actually the proud owner of this fine eOne, which I consider to be a part of computing history. A few months back, an English professor at the college I work at mentioned that he had one and was about to replace it. I told him I might be interested in buying it. I offered him $50, and he initially balked, but then realized nobody else would want it and accepted. I threw Fedora on it. It's kind of slow, but then again it is about 5 years old. It does have some nifty touches, like the afformentioned monitor feature and a PCMCIA slot.