Aug 15, 2013 Brainwaves, New York State
(Why, yes, in fact, you’re right — I haven’t written here in years. So, uh… Hi! For the new folks, have a look around and see what I used to think about a bunch of years ago. Comments, if I’ve got everything set up right, are closed on older posts. I don’t promise to write here regularly, but maybe once in a while. In fact, I’ve already got something cooking maybe for tomorrow — but don’t get used to the daily posts. )
The great blackout of 2003 was 10 years ago yesterday, on August 14, 2003. While it affected a great many people, I remember it as being, for me, personally, a non-event.
I was living by myself in North Chili, New York at the time, about a month or so away from moving in with some friends in nearby Scottsville (both locations just far enough away from nearby Rochester that once can’t really call them suburbs). Though it was a Thursday, I wasn’t at work — my job at the time had me working a 5-day week from Saturday to Wednesday, so it was, in effect, my Saturday. My parents had been up to visit earlier in the day, and had left an hour or so before.
At what Wikipedia now tells me would have been about 4:10PM, the power in my apartment flickered — I don’t remember anymore if it was enough to take down my computer for an impromptu reboot — but came back on immediately. I didn’t have the TV on, or anything like that, so I didn’t think anything of it.
I had just recently bought my first digital camera from my friend Nate (in an unrelated coincidence, I went with him to Best Buy when he bought it new three years before), and to start to play with it and get used to how it worked, I decided to take a photowalk around the North Chili hamlet.
North Chili isn’t very big, and aside from the gas station minimarts, the biggest retail outlet in town was an Eckerd. I stopped in to grab a bottle of water to take on my trek around town. While deciding what bottle size to get, I heard a woman in a nearby aisle talking other cell phone, relaying to the other party, “yeah, we have power here, but I know they lost power in Ogden, north of the town line…”. In hindsight, she was referring to the blackout already underway, but, still having had power in my apartment, working traffic lights and everything all-systems-go in the store, I still didn’t think anything was that out-of-the-ordinary.
Water bottle in hand, I resumed my photowalk. I still have the photo collection I took that day; being my first digital, I hadn’t got into the idea yet of taking a bunch of shots of things and editing down to the best one later, so all 38 shots I took that day are here on Flickr (I uploaded them last night; Flickr wasn’t around yet in 2003).
After taking a last few shots of my car, I walked toward the front door of the building, stopping to take a cell phone call from my sister. “Oh, I was going to ask if you still had power, but I see you just popped back online on instant messenger, so I guess you do,” she said.
I mentioned that I hadn’t been home, I’d been out taking pictures. She replied, with half a laugh, “Uh, maybe you’d better go in and turn on CNN.”
Hearing about how widespread the event was, it was really weird not actually being much of a part of it. The biggest effects I remembered seeing — primarily on TV — were New York City’s workforce, in the biggest city-wide “disruption” since 9/11, not going completely bonkers under crisis, but instead calmly walking home, and the local Rochester newscasters, without primary station power, broadcasting not from their tricked-out studios, but from remote trucks in the studios’ parking lots — if they could get any broadcast on the air at all.
By the end of my weekend (and the start of everyone else’s) on Friday, power had largely been restored to the Rochester area, and life returned to normal.
The 2003 blackout predated most everything resembling what we now know as social networking. It definitely would be interesting to see, now that we have Twitter and Facebook in our social sphere, how we would have commented on such a huge event.
Jun 15, 2010 Brainwaves, Geek
Dave Caolo writes today at The Unofficial Apple Weblog about how, with all the emphasis and hype and interest in multitasking, one of the coolest things he likes about it after using it for a few weeks is that it does just one thing at a time.
It’s amazing how eagerly we invite distraction upon ourselves. Consider how frequently we do two (or more) things at once. While an app launches, I check Twitter. As a Web page loads, I Command-Tab over to Mail. All the while, iTunes plays music, and I’m thinking about what else must be done today.
I became keenly aware of how infrequently I focus on one single thing when I started using my iPad. For the most part (yes, you can play music in the background), it does one thing at a time. In fact, when I’m using an app on the iPad, it becomes that app.
WeatherBug makes it a weather station. Launch Twitterrific and your iPad becomes Twitter. The New York Times turns my iPad, for all intents and purposes, into an (abridged) issue of that newspaper. There’s no beep, chirp or other electronic fidget to lure me away from simply reading a story.
Having owned an iPad now for a little over a month, I’ve found he’s right.
Over the last month, I haven’t stayed caught up on the different Google Reader RSS articles I’ve wanted to read. Like Mr. Caolo, I’m definitely an information addict. I found a very-well-reviewed new Google Reader app yesterday (also on TUAW, ironically) called Reeder, available both in iPhone and iPad flavors. Through most of yesterday evening, I just zipped through all of the back articles I wanted to check on, getting back down to zero, and the unitasking environment of the iPad helped get me through it without being distracted by Twitter, Facebook and other web pages — my iPad wasn’t any of those things at that point in time; it was just a feed reader.
Open for comment: how do you handle distractions when you’re working online?
Jun 8, 2010 Brainwaves, Geek, Photos
For those who hadn’t heard yet, I have new wheels.
Pictured: my new 2009 Chevrolet Impala LTZ. Officially, the registration says “Blue” for color; while it looks very close to what GM says is Aqua Blue Metallic, it could also just as easily be Slate Metallic, too. The interior is gray leather.
Its only previous owner appears to be a Hertz rental shop in Hawaii (I’ve never been there, but apparently my car has!), and it only had about 12,800 miles on it when we bought it from Auction Direct USA in Victor, NY. Under the hood (more photos likely to come later on this) is a 3.9L V6 engine, getting 233 hp. The car is capable (see the “FLEXFUEL” badge on the tailgate) of running on E85, but considering 1) it’s not as easily available in Rochester and 2) it’s not as powerful or as efficient as gasoline, I’m likely sticking to gasoline for the time being. Features include power sliding sunroof, rear spoiler, built-in remote start and keyless entry, Bose 8-speaker sound system, heated seats and dual-zone climate control (passenger can set heating/cooling temperature independently from the driver).
Have a look through the Flickr set to see more of the car, as well as the new Empire Gold plates being issued in New York State. They’ve generated quite a lot of reaction, both good and bad, but I kinda like them.
May 10, 2010 Brainwaves
…and we’re headed to California. Back in a week!
May 3, 2010 In The News, Politics
An article in yesterday’s Washington Post attempts to diffuse some of the myths surrounding the illegal immigration debate. It’s pretty straight-forward, if biased toward an opinion in a few spots, but one paragraph jumped out to me, in a section about immigrants’ integration into American life and society. The section overall points out that integration doesn’t happen overnight, and immigrants do work in large numbers to learn the English language and become educated. The paragraph below, however, stuck out like a sore thumb:
However, the unauthorized status of millions of foreign-born immigrants can slow integration in crucial ways. For example, illegal immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition at most public colleges and universities, putting higher education effectively out of their reach. And laws prohibiting unauthorized immigrants from getting driver's licenses or various professional credentials can leave them stuck in jobs with a high density of other immigrants and unable to advance.
Ummm… isn’t that the point? If it’s illegal for them to be in the country, why should they be getting the benefits designated for residents of a state? Sorry, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for illegal aliens complaining they don’t have the same privileges as legal residents. I have no problem extending such benefits once they’ve left the country and re-entered through legal processes, at which point I’d be happy to see (and help) them integrate.
Apr 26, 2010 Geek, Photos, That's Hot
For those who hadn’t spotted the Twitter and Facebook posts yet.
Apr 20, 2010 Photos
Originally uploaded by Pauley2483.
Yvonne wanted to share some pics of her new car with her friends, so here are some. It’s a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ, pimped out with (almost) every option there is. Makes my ’94 Lumina look pretty sad by comparison (you can see it in the background of a few of the shots).
Apr 13, 2010 Geek, In The News, Spaceflight
As I’m writing this, it’s a little under a half-hour to the exact 40th anniversary of the oxygen tank rupture that severely damaged the Apollo 13 spacecraft, Odyssey. To mark the occasion, of sorts, I just finished watching the film Apollo 13 again. On one hand, it still amazes me what everyone had to go through not only to make normal missions successful, but to come through in pinch after pinch to make #13 survivable.
I’m not sure anymore, with reports of funding and program cuts, that NASA will send anyone to the moon again soon, if ever; government programming to get people to the International Space Station after the end of this year seems to be in doubt. I’m curious to wonder, though, what might come from private business ventures. Time will soon tell; I hope it’s within my lifetime, as I would love to see humans on the moon again, and beyond to Mars.
Apr 6, 2010 Brainwaves
We’ve surprised everyone we’re gonna surprise, so it’s time to come clean.
As of last Saturday night, my wife Yvonne is a legal permanent resident of the United States.
I’ll go into more detail later on.