Fairly Symmetrical

December 2002 Archives

10:05 AM by Eric: Being evicted—in the digital sense Personal

So I see (via a report on a news site) that DirecTV DSL will be shutting down all ISP operations in no less than 30 days. Argh. We've been with these people since they were Telocity. At least it looks like there are other ISPs who can give similar (not quite as good, but reasonably similar) deals.

01:40 PM by Eric: My first viking Personal

I saw my first Viking takeoff today. As I was driving by the runways at the airport I heard engines rumbling (and since I never hear commercial jets in the car with the radio on, it had to be a military jet); looked over and there's an Eagle standing on its tail. Just as it got too high to see (which took maybe 10 seconds from takeoff), the pilot started his rollout. Very cool.

For those not familiar with the term, a Viking takeoff is one where, as the aircraft gets up to flight speed, the pilot pulls back on the stick until the aircraft's nose is pointed straight up. Fighter jets are about the only aircraft that can pull this off, since it requires that the engines produce more thrust than the aircraft weighs. As the aircraft reaches its cruise height, the pilot will "roll out" the aircraft: he rolls it until its back is facing the direction the pilot wants to go, then pull back on the stick until the aircraft is level (but flying upside down) in the direction he wants to go, and then roll the aircraft over until it's right side up. Boeing has some videos of Viking takeoffs up on their media site; look under the F-15 Eagle section.

11:05 AM by Eric: Fighting the war in Iran Politics

OxBlog has an interesting post about the administration's ongoing reaction to the current unrest in Iran. Apparently they're using subversive programming (over the Voice of America channels) which doesn't directly confront the regime; instead, it shows the Iranian watchers how life is different (and hopefully, more attractive) in a free country (specifically the U.S.) than it is under a theocratic regime. They don't seem to have many viewers yet (no official numbers), but that seems to be an issue of reception rather than desire (the NYTimes article referenced quotes an Iranian fellow who says they listen to the channel over the radio since they can't get it on TV). Money quotes:

The show carefully avoids direct criticism of Iran's Islamic regime; its style is subtly subversive.

A recent entertainment segment, for instance, profiled the Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, who did not have a word to say about Iran or Iranians but talked movingly about fleeing a repressive regime for political and artistic freedom. The interview with Jay Leno focused on using comedy to criticize politics.

Another segment showed Iranian students at the University of Maryland enjoying Mehregan, a traditional Persian fall festival, without mentioning directly what viewers in Iran already know: that this secular holiday's celebration is discouraged by the country's religious leaders.

A regular feature called "A Day in the Life" uses a reality television approach to showcase ordinary Iranian 20-somethings living in the United States. As the jumpy camera followed Anahita Sami, a 20-year-old student, and her friends around the campus of George Washington University, she chatted about dorm life, exams, being away from home for the first time, nothing particularly exciting. But the point is made: Yeah, she can wear those clothes, say those things and do that stuff.

This is a good thing, I think. In some countries, we may not have any choice but to use force (Afghanistan and, IMO, Iraq)—some countries have such a tight grip on their populace and/or are so dangerous that time is too short. But in many other countries, like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc, I think this is a great tactic.

10:58 AM by Eric: Long time no update Personal

Yeah, so, things have been pretty busy lately. However, Jen's play is over, Thanksgiving is over, and Jen's grandma has returned to Florida, so hopefully some peace and quiet will bless us until Christmas.

I spent most of the weekend cleaning the apartment; it hadn't had a good cleaning since about mid-November, so it was something of a disaster. The laundry still isn't done, and I started the first load about 10:00am on Saturday. :-P I also still have to do some work on the office, but everything else is clean and smells nice. Now if only I could freeze it that way. :)

Charlie's training is progressing. Last week he was stubborn and unhelpful, possibly the least-well-behaved dog in the class. Yesterday we tried a different training collar which really gets his attention, and I found a treat he'll actually pay attention to in class. The short version is that he was probably the best-behaved dog in class, particularly at heeling (which he is usually horrid about)—he walked right at my side, watching me very closely. The other people in the class were very impressed (hell, so was I). Last week I came home incredibly frustrated, but today I'm optimistic. Unfortunately we're having class both the Sunday before and the Sunday after Xmas, which means that I (and possibly Jen, if she decides to come) will have to drive back from Louisville for those two classes. I am irked.

You have no idea how difficult it is for me to not stop by Barnes and Noble on the way home and pick up the Lilo & Stitch DVD. No idea at all.

Work is in one of those in-between phases. There's a certain amount of steady work (website changes, bugfixes, setting up a new trouble report tool, etc etc), but it's neither really cool nor incredibly stressful. Largely I think it will stay this way till the new year, which makes me happy. Downtime is good.

Oh, I almost forgot. We finally bought groceries again. Massive amounts of groceries. It's so nice to open the fridge and see real food again. :)

01:56 PM by Eric: The optimal way to lace a shoe Current Fruit

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