Monday, December 14, 2009

File away

For when you are tired of being rich and tired of people knowing you

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thomas Hoving - a book worth reading

Thomas Hoving died today, a guy I haven't thought about in a while.  He was director of the Met in NYC for, oh, 15 years or so.  Spent his life, obviously, as an art historian/curator (after 3 post-Princeton years in the Marines, interestingly enough).

Anyway, in the early 90s I read his book called "False Impressions: The Hunt for Big Time Art Forgeries" (or something within a word or two of that title).  Its about his career chasing art fakes around the world, from tiny, dilapitated Italian chapels to the premier auction houses and everything in between.  I think Malcolm Gladwell based a whole chapter of "Blink" on the anecdote that Hoving opens the book with.

Since then down through the years, whenever I get the question, 'what's your favorite book?' (or "what are you reading?" when I'm not, as is often, reading anything), its been a perenial go-to.  He's a curious and quick mind writing on a rich subject that he clearly knows and loves, which is always always always the magic formula for great writing.

here's his obit from the Times today:


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Right tool, right job

The first thing to understand is that the Kenan-Flagler parking deck is full of cars of people who had good-but-not-great entry jobs, and who quit them last year.  So you tend to see 3-4 year old Hondas, Toyotas, etc.  You also see a few cars that obviously date to somebody's undergrad days - older SUVs, fraying Mazdas.  THere's also a solid 25 percent of Lexus, Infinitis, BMWs and the like, that remind you that many of the program's students came from high-end jobs or old money.

and then there are the two essentially identical Porsche Carrera Boxsters.  Both are gorgeous silver, surely 2006 or newer, with killer wheels over bright red brake shoes.

I only realized there were 2 a few months ago when I passed on on the way to my car, then as I drove out saw the second driving in.

I'm sure one is better than the other as Porsches go (turbo or something) but they're both equally slick to look at.

And yet, everytime I see one, I can't help but laigh a bit.  Just what in the hell are you doing with that car?  Campus speedlimit is, like 35 mph on the widest streats, and that's fiction because of traffic, endless speed bumps and kids running out across streets randomly at any time.  Its a campus made for 86 Civics, not 06 Boxsters.  Its a senseless luxury, which is fine, but isn't the killer porsche the senseless luxury you aspire to while you're at MBA school?  Shouldn't the path that takes you to your dream machine be longer than the bridge to the parking deck?

And, funnier still, if you brought your fancy car to campus hoping you'd be known as the Porsche Guy and somebody else showed up with the exact same car.. I mean, its one thing when somebody has the ame trapper keeper, but the same Porsche?

So today, as I've been doing this whole quarter, I wrote my bike in.  Leaving campus on a bike is a joy.  Kenan-Flagler sits above the Dean Dome, on one of the highest rises on UNC's campus.  From the parking lot, it's about a solid 1/2 mile of downhill to the main road, 15-501 (the infamous Tobacco Road that runs straight to Duke).  This 1/2 mile is broken up into 2 quarter-mile runs, one from KFBS, past the Dean Dome and parking lots. down to a stop sign at a central campus street.  The second half is that campus street, which is probably steeper, and is 4 lanes wide and a straight line directly down to 15-501.  The 15-501 intersection, predictably, is a traffic light, and the end of your downhill.  And you're probably braking at the bottom because you get a decent amount of green to get out onto 15-501, but if once its red, it takes FOREVER to turn.

So on my bike today, I cruised down the KFBS driveway.  I was vaguely aware that a car - a VW Passat-like thing, I think - followed me down the hill, but I blew through the stop sign next to the Dean Dome and didn't see it.  As I rolled down toward the main road, I again heard a car behind me, which I assumed was the VW catching up.  With no traffic, I coasted trhough that stop sign, too, onto the main campus raod and pointed straight down the big hill that runs down to 15-501. Its a steep drop, and fun to blast down on a bike.

As I straightened out my line, I glanced ahead and saw the light - a solid 1/4 mile away down the hill - was green.  This didn't matter to me since it would take me a solid minute to coast down there, and I would be content to wait once I got there for another green, so I laid off the pedals and just let the bike run.  This was mythought as I heard the VW gun around the corner behind me.

And keeps gunning.

From a buzz to a growl to a howl and closing fast and- WHAM- a silver Porsche Carrera blows by me at about, oh, 50, and rather than shift of just lift a bit, the engine keeps winding upward into a scream and as it jets away I realize that with 1/4 mile to go and the light already late in the green, he's not interested in waiting out the cycle.

And now it's yellow. And he's - maybe - 1/2 way down the hill.  no brake lights.  no shift, no lift, just a louder, higher engine scream coming back to me as the car sprints faster, farther down the hill.

brake light on.  red light signal.  brake light off.  the car jinx with one more little leap of throttle into the intersection, glides through a diving left turn across the empty intersection and he.  is.  Gone.

As I coasted down the hill, i threw my fist up in salute.

Really, there's never a good reason to own a Porsche.  Until there is.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

More jobs

I think my favorite part is that, yeah, there might be more sensible vehicles to use in an exotic fish tank busines, but F' it - I got into this business for the glam, and I'm a ride 'til I die.






Thursday, February 26, 2009

Great Moments In Bad Newspaper Writing

"The line of job seekers stretched along the second floor pavilion and out of sight, growing like a contrail against the colorless sky."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kids with wierd names

I'm looking forward to Sarah Palin, whose motherhood of Trig remains the subject of doubt, expressing how outraged she must be at people questioning the even-less doutbful details of Obama's birth.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Must see and hear

Couple recommendations, one of which you can set on Netflix and take your time, the other of which comes on Monday, Feb 21.

First, Monday.

Last week CBS radio turned the lights off on the Adam Carolla show, a morning drive talk show out of LA. Adam, you may know, did 10 years as the Love Lines host with Dr. Drew, is the taller Man Show guy, along with a long list of projects in the comedy-central/jimmy kimmel world of comedy. I've been listening to his morning show for about 3 months or so and its routinely, effortlessly brilliant. He's genius-funny, and he is a consumate pro in the talk radio format. He does brilliant bits, he has tons of interesting guests and he does barrages of rifs off of news stories, Stern-style. Fantastic show. He also has no problem letting a genuine underlying intelligence shine through, which is the central thing missing from all bad radio.

So CBS spiked the show from its LA flagship (and affiliates Friday) to go Top 40. Whatever.

Well, Carolla has said he wil start broadcasting on his own Monday morning, on his dime. He won't have the foils he currently does (not having news chick Teresa, who is a legit comedy talent herself, will be tough), but he will have the freedom of the internet that radio does not allow.

I think he's such a creative powerhouse that it's inevitable that he's going to create something groundbreaking. Now, that might not be Monday. I'm certain he's gonna have to get his legs under him, including getting some sponsorship which he does not have. But Monday is the launch, and I think it will be worth hearing The First One when the show becomes a Big Deal.

Second - Mad Men.

Been meaning to put this out, but if you haven't plowed through the first season on DVD, then you're officially down another Seminal Show. THe second season has come and gone as well from AMC, but I can't speak for it because I haven't seen it. But Season 1 was a triumph. I'm not sure what categort it belongs in - Best Shows of the Decade, along with the Sopranos and The Wire? Or best Regular TV shows, along with The West Wing, Friday Night Lights and Real World Vegas? Well, its tone and delivery is solidly in the own-sweet-damn-time category of the HBO shows, as its brilliant-on-a-budget sets and music - all of which you'd have to expect from a show produced by AMC. But the writing is obviously a bit too confined by the 'regular' cable spot its on. THe show glows with sex, but its barren of onscreen hooking up. Of course, this is 1960, and that's the whole point - the world is suddenly drowning in sex as women show up to work, but neither side has any idea at all how to wink at it.
Still, this clearly ain't HBO.

So Monday listen in to Adam (i'd imagine he'll start streaming at 6am pac), and get Mad Men.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yes. On occasion.

When I was applying to schools in High School, I sent away for the
application from UNC CH. The cover was the Old Well (school symbol
that looks like a gazebo with a blue roof for those who don't speak
UNC) covered in snow.

I'd assumed from that day until I got here that snow is, ya know,
common in Chapel Hill, enough so that they put it on the cover of
their application.

Nope. Here's the first and only 'serious' effort at snow we've seen
in 2 winters here. From about a month ago.

HI! My name is...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


1 - The touchscreen is terrific and really worth having just because its so ahead of everything else you've had.  Functionally, i think its true value is a) scrolling pages (say, up and down through your contact list, or a long webpage) and b) replicating a mouse on the web.  Homerun execution for both.
    the squeezing/pnching/zooming "multi-touch" is good stuff, but not as intuitive or useful as you'd think.  the only places i use it are on the web and the maps, and the responses are different or maybe just poor enough to seem different.

Downfall of the touchscreen is that its very sensitive, which causes some 'wtf' moments now and again, but that really starts to be a big deal when it makes it vulnerable to false-dials.  A very common way to dial is this:
- pull up your 'favorites' which you do with a clever double-click of the main button.
- touch a name, which calls them (though the names are kinda small, which makes for more wrong ones than I would have thought)
- they hang up a second before you do, phone call ends.  screen instantly reverts to your 'favorites' page.

then what happens?  as you lower the phone from your ear, your fingers, wrapped around the phone (or maybe you switch hands for some reason), brush across the face and call somebody on that favorite page.  You have no clue you've called them.  the other day i left a 3 minute voicemail of me listening to the radio on somebody's phone because of this.

2 - the maps is great, incorporating most of the Google Maps Cool Stuff.  However as a GPS unit the iPhone is really subpar.  You can, as in google, easily produce directions from where you are (though not instantly), but a major missing piece is that it does not have active navigation (called turn by turn, i guess).  I'm guessing Apple didn't want the headache of claiming to be a true GPS nav system, and have to deal with every ahole who got led down a street that isn't there, etc.
   But not only will it not guide you with "turn left in 200 yards" type directions, it won't even update your directions/trip info as you go.  So if you're zooming up 85 to DC, there's no way to know if you're any closer than the 290 miles you started at without essentially relaunching the whole ap and starting over, which is a long series of inputs, clicks and screens that defy driving.  Put another way, if you'd like to take it jogging to get a decent mileage/avg speed, forget it.  it doesn't track anything, not even as a static route on your map.
   As for directions, it offers you this baffling "step by step" guide which is nothing but a line of text that says "merge onto I-95" and then you have to hit the "next" button - again, ridiculous when driving.
   Put another way, having an iphone "guide" your trip is no different than printing your directions at home.
   I understand there are GPS-specific aps out there with all the features, though I haven't gone after them.
   Major, major disappointment.

3 - If you type a lot, I refuse to believe that even the worst BBerry keyboard isn't better, and I have a specific reason why.  A very cool - in fact, vital - part of the web browser is that you can turn the phone on its side and work/read long-ways.  This allows you to read web pages much easier.  Better still, when you come across a page that needs input, the keyboard appears and you get to type on a long-ways keyboard.  These keys are huge, much bigger than a BBerry and more importantly at least twice as big as the tall-ways keyboard.  On this big keyboard, you can nearly type with a full two hands, and can easily, rapidly and accurately type with thumbs.
   If this long-ways keyboard was the standard configuration, I would draw the line right now and say the iPhone is better than a BBerry.

But, impossibly, it is not.  In the mail ap - where, obvioulsy, you do most of your typing - the ONLY option is the tall, super small and narrow keyboard.  Mail, all parts of it, doesn't rotate.  So you are stuck typing with the small keyboard, which defies thumbs and runs about 70-percent with an index finger hunt and peck.
   This applies as well to the iPhone's TXT app too - long-keyboard only.
   I don't get it - the code is already in the phone to make this happen.  Just active the browser's 'rotate' routine in the Mail and SMS aps, and you double the value of this phone.  Insane, and unlike the GPS thing I can't imagine a single good reason why.

Here is my testament to how bad it is: forget offering me the big, rotated keyboard.  Keep it.  just offer an option that puts the normal PHONE KEYPAD on screen in the tall configuration and lets me type/txt using a 9-button input system of ABC-DEF etc.  Just make it an option - I'm used to it from years of my last phone.  If apple's 'guessing' software is so good, they should be able to help me guess my words as i type on that rather than make guesses based on my wrong inputs on thier horrible tin keyboard.

4 - Having said that, the Mail Ap is WAY better than the any BBerry.  Its simple, intuitive, powerful and easy.  Handles all kinds of media flawlessly.  you can view word, pdf, excel and some others seemlessly.
   Sum:  Flawless platform for recieving emails, serviceable for dashing off quick replies.  perhaps that's where the BB lands, too.

5 - the App store.  Probably the true value.  just about every site worth a crap makes an ap that delivers their content in simple, mobile-ready form.  for instance, you can do facebook on the browser, but the facebook Ap is about 200X easier and better.  But even better are the endless amounts of geek creativity you can come across.  My favorite is "Say Where" which in two touches (a few more if looking outside your current location) lets me speak the name of a place into the phone and then it opens maps with my likely intended location highlighted (ie, "asian restraunt" opens a raliegh-sized map with about 10 places).  That's third party.

google has similiar so you can speak your google searches ("Stormy Daniels GOP images") and it opens as a normal google search page.  Nice.

I don't know what's going to happen with Android.  But Apple is way in front and of the ONE compsci geeks I know here, he's trying to dedicate his life to writing iPhone aps and could give a shit about Android.

6 - Finally, the web.  Its just great.  Just a perfect ap that does everything seemlessly, instinctively and perfectly.  My understanding is that nobody else is close, at least except for maybe the Storm.

THe 3G works fast, its great with wireless nets, and all that.  No complaints at all.

I never looked at the imitators - Storm, Instinct, etc - because i was on ATT and avoided some fees by upgrading/pulling the student card, etc.

if i was coming in cold, I'd see if the others can compete with map features/GPS and have a better keyboard solution.  If everything else was roughly even, I'd definetly consider a phone with a better keyboard solution (longways, fold out, whatever), and if the GPS was more robust it would be a no brainer.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Fortune Cookie for today's job market

Perhaps unreadable due to sorry-ass iPhone camera, but it says:

"Poverty is no disgrace"

Monday, January 19, 2009


From friend-of-friend Stephen Ready - statue in New Orleans.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flight 1549: Best view

If I'd have been there (and not had access to a boat), I'll tell you where I'd have wanted to be. On the shore in the background from this pic:

(vid capture image - click here for the actual video, from a surveliance camera, where you can actually - if barely - see the landing - long clip)

That's the Intrepid Museum, which has its own Concorde, as Flight 1549 floats by. The plane hit maybe a 1/4 mile up the river from there perhaps 90 seconds before. The boats you see there are just arriving.

And I can't help but imagine standing on the pier checking out the Concorde, thinking about the modern miracle of jet flight, then turn around to look
out at the river and.... hey, is that a.... plane?

Here's a better pic of the Concorde at the museum - from this angle, there's a good chance you're actually looking at the impact spot behind it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

iPhone review Preview

Seth here, who runs the outstanding, says the Palm Pre is faster than the iPhone.

To which I say:  so what?  What, exactly, is the iPhone slow at?  It does movies, all manner of web surfing and essentially limitless connectivity.  Are game apps running slow?

Much more to come with an iPhone review, but that's to get you thinking.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Best Food in Raliegh/Durham/Chapel Hill

Not much to look at, but this is exit 278 on I-40, between Durham/Chapel Hill and Raliegh.

View Larger Map

It doesn't look like Walnut St. in Philly, but in the Triangle, it's Restraunt Row.

Thanks to the serpentine town borders, I believe this one actually falls in Chapel Hill, though if you leave central Chapel Hill, exit 278 is one exit past the mall that sits in Durham.

Tax rates aside, its the exit for the best food in the Triangle in at least two highly competitive categories, Thai and BBQ, though you'd certainy never suspect it as you exit the highway. You immediatly get a couple of bad strip malls (C-properties, they'd call them in the biz), a long-stay motel, a midgrade business hotel, a Chick-fil-A on the most prosperous corner, some garages, empty storefronts and poorly thought-out traffic lights.

Don't be deterred. You are about to find two absolute gems.

For the first, you certainly don't need to take my word for it - I found this place by asking the Thai students in my school where they go for good food. They all said the Thai Asian Buffet.

Look for it carefully. It's shoved in the elbow-corner of the Food Lion strip mall on the north side of the road.

Be sure you find it at 4900 NC Hwy 55 Ste 200. None of the map sites will pinpoint it correctly, and there are several Asian restraunts in the surrounding area, all with similiarly vague names, including the word 'Buffet.' Again: As you travel away from I-40, it's on your right.

For $7, you get full run of their 20-item buffet, which includes several kinds of dumplings, vegetable, chicken (orange, peanut, garlic, green bean, etc), and - the make-or-break for any Thai joint - Pad Thai. It's thick and on the hot side, with plenty of egg, peanut and chicken.
Also, the drinks are HUGE (tack on 1.50 for them), and you'll need them.

$7, killer food, lunch buffet on weekdays (menu at night and Satuday),

Or you could go just down the road a few miles, well past anything that might be called 'developed', down to an industrial-looking shop with a sign out front that says "Backyard BBQ Pit."

I found it from H. Kent Craig's remarkable North Carolina BBQ Reviews, where it was awarded the widely coveted:

Four-pig Approval!

Here's the full review.

We went in and met the new owners last year. They bought the place a year prior, and absolutely everything - greens, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, cobbler, etc - gets made fresh, from scratch in the kitchen everyday.

And the BBQ is ridiculous. Soaking in flavor but not in sauce, moist and fresh and lean and just perfect.
I've eaten at every other 3- and 4-pig site Kent has on his site, and nobody is close.

Bonus Exit 278 Food tip: Head back up Highway 54 a few miles and you'll find the cloest Dunkin Donuts to Chapel Hill. Within a few clever turns and a mile of there is the best Chinese in the Triangle at China Palace.

Best easy dish: Sesame Chicken.
Best off the "Chef's special" menu: Squid Kung Pao. Holy cow, is that a terrific dish. Do NOT think you are getting anything like calamari. You are getting large, meaty strips of the octopus that attacked Captain Nemo. AWESOME. I've read everything else on the special menu is good, too.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Epiphany!

Today (Jan 12) is Epiphany. I wanted to mention it before it gets away, so you can remember to celebrate it, if you are so inclined in your faith, or at least to have one, which never hurts.

Today is the 12th day since Christmas (hence the song...), and supposedly the day the three wisemen got to Bethlehem (Western Christianity) or he was baptized in the River Jordan (Eastern Christians, although Eastern Christians apparently are on the Gregorian Calendar, so they'll be having their Epiphany on our Jan 19.). That overlap of calendars also means that today is, for Eastern Christians, Christmas Eve, so all you Eastern Christian Orthadox kids reading this - go to bed!

These events, depending o n which one you are celebrating, marked the revelation of Jesus as God, again, if you're so inclined.

More practically, its traditionally a Feast Day!! Hope you ate yourself stupid.

I know all this (or, rather, went and found out all this) because I bought a $1.99 pocket calendar at CVS a few weeks back to track workouts and apparently the pricing structure on this calendar is one cent per listed holiday. Below is the picture (30 minutes on the tread, 30 mins of Yoga, 3 sets of pulls - solid day).

So while I though maybe I was going to come to great realization about something today, it turns out that its 12 Drummer's Drumming (and for the Paul is Dead-on-Abby-Road hidden religious meaning of that song, check this out: It also dovetails perfectly with my recent recommitment to learning impractical but interesting things.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Best Thai food in chapel hill/Durham

Thai china buffet located in a perfectly disreputable shopping center

$7 eat until you die. Pad Thai comes pretty hot so have the drink ready

Sent from my hoverbike

Friday, January 02, 2009