Sunday, September 28, 2003

a journey inspired by chile peppers

Atomic Agriculture on the Rio Grande is Eric Gauger's latest edition of Notes from the Road. In it, he talks about the chile pepper, and why it's so hot, and its impact on world cuisine and cultures. He's on a quest to attend the Chile Pepper Festival in Hatch, New Mexico.

Many people think the chile pepper is from India. This is not true--like the tomato and the potato, it's indigenous to the New World: somewhere in South America. It was brought to Spain by Columbus, and from there made its way to Italy, then on to Asian destinations such as India, Thailand, and Korea.

And as for why chile peppers are so hot, there is a good explanation. You'll find it in this Dispatch. Which is interesting and suffers only from a lack of Gauger's beautiful photographs (I'm hoping he just hasn't had a chance to add them yet?). He felt out of place at the Chile Pepper Festival in Hatch--something I understand because I remember such events I attended as the Potato Festival in Posen, Michigan: it wasn't really meant for visitors, but for the locals who prospered or suffered on the fortunes of the local crop. The modern-day, sanitized equivalent of those Harvest Home rituals.
posted by lee on 09/28/03 at 05:59 PM

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Thursday, September 25, 2003

JetBlue and other musings

This story is pretty outrageous: JetBlue Gave Passenger Records To Contractor, Violating Policy. Take a look at the PDF of the powerpoint Torch Concepts presented--if that doesn't make your skin crawl, you may as well live in the display window at Macy's in New York. Torch, of course, sicced the lawyers on the guy that originally posted the powerpoint--Cryptome is mirroring it (interesting site, Cryptome--the only place I've seen so far with not just the number of US casualties in Iraq, but their names and home towns as well. Makes the loss all that more real.)

Another Connecticut blog, this one an amazing news blog covering Westport & the surrounding area:

I'll be SO glad the California recall election will be over in two weeks. I don't know why the entire country has to suffer their foolishness. Aren't there more important stories to cover?

I hope they get the Do Not Call list fracas settled soon--it pissed me off that the judge ruled against the list being handled by the FTC. Seems like a little deft handling would get that popped over into the FCC's court just in case the idiot's decision is upheld. Forty-eight million people are watching this.

I'm behind on my reviews! We went to see The Magdalene Sisters last week. I explained to Stanley why I call myself a recovering Catholic rather than an ex-Catholic; the movie, which is superb, demonstrates how ingrained Catholicism becomes by the time you're, oh, I'd say seven years old. I can still recite the Nicene Creed, and I haven't been to Mass since, gee, 1993 (only for my cousin's wedding).

A couple of weeks ago, we went to see Dirty Pretty Things. Yep, the ending is completely predictable if you have even half a brain, but it was an excellent movie none the less. Such interesting actors, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor (be still, my heart!) I'll watch for him in upcoming movies (he was in Amistad, but I don't remember him in that. Maybe because I tried to forget I wasted two hours trying to watch that flick.)

And we watched Secretary on HBO or something. I'm glad we didn't pay $8.50 to see it, as it was worth MAYBE $2.00. A long, weird movie with the central theme of "masochists need love too!" Or "there's someone for everyone." It held my attention but, by the end, I realized that I didn't really care about either character. Some scenes were funny. To each her own, I guess.

Why are so many graphic designers such pains to work with? Not all of 'em, but way too many of them don't understand the difference between print and web. Two different media, get it? Duh.

I'm dealing with a mushroom project right now. It's overtaking my life!

West Wing is very interesting these days. The season premiere episode actually brought tears to my eyes--very effective use of music, my compliments to whomever chose it. And a creepy psycho on Law & Order, cool!

---th th that's all!
posted by lee on 09/25/03 at 06:15 AM

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

hmmm ... Clark or Dean?

Looked over the America For Clark site today. (Or, I tried to. The font is too small and almost unreadable--I had to copy and paste the text in Notepad to read it. Tsk tsk to the web designer there.)

What's good about Clark as a candidate? He's smart, a skilled strategist, and a war hero who can't be accused of blowing smoke out his ass on things military.

There are those who doubt he would survive an entire election campaign, but I think anyone who can endure things such as a stint in Vietnam and can successfully wage a campaign in the Balkans can certainly survive the slings and arrows of a presidential campaign. Especially since most journalists in this country are such pansies.

He's also an investment banker, which means he knows a lot about money and how the business world works. An investment banker who's a liberal Democrat--what's not to like?

What's bad about Clark as a candidate? Though I think he's in pretty good shape when it comes to foreign policy, things military, and the business world, and being pro choice and pro equality, there is as of now no clear indication of his position on health care, education, or crime and prevention. But then, it's probably too early. I assume he will have something to say about those issues sooner or later.

Wouldn't be interesting to see a Clark / Dean ticket? Right now I'm leaning toward Dean, but he's weak on the world affairs front and I don't think, in this day and age with all the threats from abroad, he can make Americans feel safe enough to vote for him. But Clark can, and I want a leader who at least knows how to figure out what to do very quickly (a man who can plan).

Dean has the domestic policy chops, and has a handle on the day to day lives of just folks. So I think, at least right now, that Clark as president and leader of the free world with Dean as veep and shaper of domestic policy would make an unbeatable combination and start us on the road to recovering from the filthy messes Bush has created.

Dean could get his foreign policy bona fides under the leadership of Clark and then run for prez after Clark has served his terms. This combination could lead to 16 years of solid leadership. That's a possibility that gives me hope.

Looking the above over, I guess I'm actually leaning more toward Clark: more than anything I want our foreign policy and domestic security handled by a smart person with actual experience; I want to believe that the rest of the world is being dealt with intelligently and for the long term. I don't think Dean can provide that--at least not soon enough.

But I'm just not sure. Yet, I need to see some substantive stuff from Clark on issues on than affairs abroad. Are maybe some stuff from Dean on security and foreign policy that make me feel as though he has a handle on it.
posted by lee on 09/18/03 at 04:14 PM

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Friday, September 12, 2003

Fear and Loathing out of Redmond—again

BusinessWeek Online: IE patent endgame detailed

"If you're currently using a plug-in, you will have to change your pages quite significantly," said one person familiar with Microsoft's post-verdict plans. "There might be tools to help you do so, but currently they don't exist."

Regardless of whether the court orders Microsoft to change IE, the software giant has been conferring with its own engineers and those of companies that rely on the browser's ability to automatically launch and display multimedia programs with plug-ins--an ability the court held to be, in its current form, an infringement of the Eolas patent.

Now Microsoft, while expressing optimism that it will ultimately prevail over Eolas in the courts, is advising Web authors to take precautions and prepare for a post-Eolas world.

Even though I know things such as the results of patent disputes are rarely as dire or as drastic as the tech writers and analysts would have you believe, this story still gives me pause. I thought to myself, "Well this shouldn't affect us too much if they DO castrate IE since we use little autoplay Flash on any of our sites." No need to other than ego stroking on a couple of sites, and these could be replaced with animated gifs if absolutely necessary.

But then I got to thinking: oh, all those damned PDFs for all those white papers and newsletters ... yuck.

Then I began wondering what this really means. I thought Microsoft announced it will not be making any more versions of IE any longer. At least not standalone versions. And I don't see how it can go and break the gazillion or so copies of IE already out there. So unless MS breaks versions of IE that will be embedded in future versions of new operating systems, what kind of an impact is this really going to have? And when?

What about Microsoft just paying this guy and the University of California some obscene license fee so this all goes away? Like a few hundred million dollars should keep the guy who owns Eolas happy, shouldn't it? Or they could just buy the technology like they do everything else they want. Why aren't these options being talked about in these heated WC3 meetings?

Something's just not right here. A lot of handwringing, but no real analysis that I've been able to find. Even Zeldman doesn't get it right: he says "Microsoft is supposed to cripple its market-leading browser so that IE/Windows will no longer seamlessly play Flash, Quicktime ... " There is nothing I've been able to find that says the judge said Microsoft has to cripple IE -- only reports that it MIGHT have to cripple IE if the judge so orders. Just lots of FUD mongering.

I have the sneaking suspicion that I won't really have to worry about this unless there is some way Microsoft has figured out to make a boatload of money off forcing us to make changes on all of the websites affected by this. And I don't see how a judge might rule in a way that would damage (financially) those innocent of any wrongdoing. Isn't it more likely for the judge to order Microsoft to pay for licensing?

On the other hand, I'm talking about a legal system that appointed our current president.

I wonder if it's going to affect all those stupid animated ads that launch themselves on top of the content we really want to look at. Are those autoplay plugins, or are they something else? I suspect they're affected too since you don't have to do anything to launch them.

I guess I'll wait for some real analysis before I start worrying about it all. By someone who actually knows how to interpret legal rulings and has no interest in churning PR against the winner of this decision.
posted by lee on 09/12/03 at 07:52 PM

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Win98 down the road

Roll your own Windows 98 Reinstallation Kit -- you don't HAVE to spend $200 to "upgrade."

We're leaving here today. Sob! It's painful to say goodbye to Mom & Dad -- it's always so long before we get to see them again. Yuck. But it was a great vacation this year. The cat is going to hate leaving his screened-in porch, and the dog will absolutely miss jumping into the lake.
posted by lee on 09/09/03 at 02:04 PM

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Sunday, September 07, 2003

3 quick reviews

Spy Kids: Game Over sucks. I mean it REALLY sucks. It's not even bad enough to be interesting. Mercifully, it was short. The 3-D stuff is horrible -- makes it an ugly, nasty little movie. The only part of this movie I liked were the outtakes during the ending credits. I don't even think the kids in the audience liked it since there was none of the twittering and giggling that accompanied the two earlier movies. Avoid it.

Open Range was about 30 minutes longer than it should have been (it lasts 2 hours 15 minutes), but was a pretty decent movie with a kickass gunfight at the OK Stable. It managed to suck in every cliche ever to arise from the genre -- including Sweet Sue, the doctor's sister. But the scenery was gorgeous, the villains villainous, the heroes were heroic. There are no surprises in this movie. And it doesn't hold a candle to to Unforgiven. It's too bad Michael Jeeter died--he always plays such interesting characters. And it was nice to finally see Annette Benning in a role where she actually acted. So, I found Open Range corny, contrived, cliched, but put together well enough so that it didn't drag on too long. My main problem with it is that there were three endings, sorta like the dreadful AI. The first one would have sufficed.

Speaking of Michael Jeeter, we also watched Welcome to Collinswood (I think that's how it was spelled). It is a very funny, quirky movie: Band of Losers pulling off a heist. Bill Macy was really good in this movie. As was George Clooney. We'd never heard of, or noticed this movie, until we spotted it in the video store. It definitely worth watching--it has us laughing out loud and it ended just the way it should have.
posted by lee on 09/07/03 at 04:27 PM

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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Can you canoe?

Last week, Ben, Stanley, and Dad canoed the Au Sable River. They put in below Foote Dam, and finished up by the bridge on River Road in Oscoda. A good time was had by all: Stanley managed to dump the canoe and dunk Ben & Dad without getting wet himself. Plus, a paddle floated downstream. Luckily, they spotted it. Stanley negotiated a slippery log to retrieve it from the snag while Ben fervently prayed that Stanley fall--payback for the dunking. Mom and I had to go get them because they key to the downriver car was still in the upriver truck. Of this turn of events, Ben said to Stanley, "And you're supposed to be the smart one."

Famished and tired, they somehow survived.


So it was into the wind at the end ...


Later, we just hung out in the back yard. Pretty pleasant, mellow kind of afternoon.

I am one with the cat ...




But, but, but I don't want to go in ...


Ben went home--even though he volunteered to miss the first week of school and return with us. We miss him. So do Ginger and Twitch.

I can't believe it's already September.

Tomorrow, I think, we'll go make our charitable contributions to the Chippewa Nation. Then on Saturday, perhaps, we'll do a day trip to the wilderness park just past the Mackinac Bridge. We'd make it a two-day trip, but the rates for the hotels in this area are way more than we want to pay just to sleep. Though we could stay in St. Ignace ... I dunno. We'll decide that day.

So far, it's been a wonderful vacation. I even won at bingo. I'm not saying I'm ahead of the game, oh no, but at least my bingo losing streak is over. Last night, anyway. So the streaker paid just $8--no high-stakes bingo around here, that's for sure! It's just fun.
posted by lee on 09/03/03 at 06:30 PM

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