Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Thursday 27 September 2012

A couple weeks ago, I finally tasted whisky from the FEW Distillery in Evanston, Ill. FEW is named for Frances Elizabeth Willard, who, in the mid-19th century, ran the Women's Christian Temperance Union and later bequeathed her house to the organization.

In other words, this is a distillery named after one of the leading advocates for prohibition, headquartered in a city that was dry for more than a century.

Also, FEW's master distiller, Paul Hletko, is one of the first people I met in law school. Mazel tov, Paul: you've made a great collection of spirits.

Thursday 27 September 2012 11:49:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 26 September 2012

Monday's SSD crash took an annoying, but reasonable, amount of time to fix. Otherwise I would have posted this photo of Great American Ball Park yesterday:

And, of course, an obligatory photo of Cincinnati's most recognized landmark:

I'll have a couple more in days to come.

Wednesday 26 September 2012 11:58:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Geography#
Tuesday 25 September 2012

Last night, while watching the Seahawks-Packers game (and rooting for the Seahawks for the same reason I wore a Giants hat to a Reds game), I saw the end of the rule of law.

For three weeks, the National Football League referees have been locked out in a pensions dispute. The NFL has called in refs from the lower rungs of college sports, causing, to put it politely, controversy. Games have gotten longer by about 15 minutes as the replacement refs double-check the rules and the replays, causing players to test boundaries and fans to scream blue murder.

Last night's game ended with a disputed call in its final seconds—disputed, in fact, by the two line judges standing a short meter from the thing they were disputing. Touchdown? Stop the clock? Pass interference? No one knew. On TV, it clearly looked like an interception, and a Packers win. The head ref for the game called touchdown, and under review, let the call stand.

If almost no one trusted the replacement refs before, after last night, their authority has completely vanished.

The owners have little incentive to end the labor dispute, and strong incentive to stand firm. They're thinking ahead to negotiations with players; appearing to cave in their dispute with the refs might look bad. And fans keep watching, for fifteen extra minutes each week, so the league has an actual financial benefit.

Without trusted referees, though, games will get nastier, messier, and more disputed. Remember the 1994 World Series? Superbowl XLVII may look a lot like it.

Tuesday 25 September 2012 11:57:40 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Monday 24 September 2012

My laptop's solid-state drive died this afternoon. It had a long, long life (23 months—almost double what they usually get). I am thankful to the departed SSD for that, and:

  • for dying after the client presentation, not before;
  • for dying on the first day of a three-week project, not the last; and
  • for living 23 months, which is about as spectacular as a dog living 23 years.

I am now rebuilding my laptop on a larger but slightly slower SSD, which I hope lasts nearly as long.

Monday 24 September 2012 18:33:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Work#

Yesterday I posted a shot of the Cincinnati Reds clinching the National League Central Division title. Here's the whole park, from the cheap seats:

And here's a little nerd humor for you. Why can't anyone hit a home run over Cincinnati's center-field wall? Because no one can find it:

More Cincinnati photos after my 1pm meeting...

Monday 24 September 2012 12:20:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball#
Sunday 23 September 2012

Yesterday afternoon, I saw this happen:

That's the Cincinnati Reds just after they beat Los Angeles to become the National League Central Division champions this year. And because they beat L.A., they helped San Francisco clinch the West, making it an all-around fun afternoon. (N.B.: I wore a Giants hat to the game.)

More Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park photos when I get back to Chicago.

Sunday 23 September 2012 09:24:41 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#
Saturday 22 September 2012

It's a beautiful afternoon for a ballgame, at least here in Cincinnati, where I hope to see the Reds become the first team this season to clinch its division outright. I'll actually be wearing a Giants hat, as a Cincinnati win against the Dodgers today moves San Francisco's magic number to 1—and I want to see them in the playoffs.

Anyway, it's 21°C, partly cloudy, and Oktoberfest is right outside my hotel room. I am optimistic about this trip to the 24th park in the Geas.

Update: O noes! I missed the world's largest chicken dance!!!11!1

Saturday 22 September 2012 15:19:16 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball#
Friday 21 September 2012

As a person with a bachelors degree in history, this compilation of Republican ideas about history made me laugh. And cry:

1500s: The American Revolutionary War begins: “The reason we fought the revolution in the sixteenth century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown.”—Rick Perry

1619-1808: Africans set sail for America in search of freedom: “Other than Native Americans, who were here, all of us have the same story.”—Michele Bachmann

1812: The American War for Independence ends: “ ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’…that song—written during the battle in the War of 1812—commemorates the sacrifice that won our liberty.”—Mitt Romney

Oh, my eyes.

Friday 21 September 2012 12:12:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Via writer Daniel Vergara, the Guardian U.K. newspaper posted a quiz on Mitt Romney's gaffes:

Who said:

1. On making the case for greater consumer choice in health insurance: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”

  • Mitt Romney
  • John McCain

Et cetera. Well, it seems Mitt made a cracking impression on the Brits, what what!

Friday 21 September 2012 10:15:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Deny thy boardroom and refuse thy chiefs,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn on-time,
And let the Cactus purchase you!

Sorry. For those joining our program in progress, "Cactus" is the callsign of US Airways, who are now in merger talks with the airline I fly all the time, American. Today American's pilots are trying to make that merger happen more quickly, but they have come to bury American, not to praise it.

American's pilots, who spurned management's "last best" offer before the company went into bankruptcy protection, have gotten surly that management has gone ahead with its rule changes anyway. Pilots picketed outside O'Hare yesterday, while coincidentally finding an unusual number of "maintenance problems" over the past few weeks that caused flights to be delayed or cancelled. This has dropped American's on-time rate to 54% and prompted a nervous but defiant Air Line Pilots Association to deny in a statement yesterday that this is a work action:

One area of increased operational unreliability we have observed is in mechanical delays, which isn’t surprising. Although American Airlines operates the oldest fleet of any major U.S. carrier, management has decided to furlough a large number of mechanics and close one of its largest maintenance facilities. Management also decided some time ago to reduce its inventory of spare parts.

In addition, management halted the recalls of furloughed pilots late last year, which has resulted in an insufficient number of pilots to maintain the schedule properly.

It’s also important to remember that management chose to reject the APA-American Airlines Collective Bargaining Agreement, which served as an operating manual for our pilots. Management’s action has generated significant uncertainty for our pilots with respect to employment protections and operating rules, which are now under management’s unilateral control.

APA members are experienced professionals who conduct themselves as professionals under whatever circumstances they encounter. Any negative impact on our airline’s operational integrity is of management’s own making.

I'm going to watch this closely, particularly while finalizing plans to visit the UK next month. I'm outbound from Atlanta on British Airways, and getting to Atlanta isn't a problem at all if American cancels tons of flights; but returning from the UK might be. Now, where did I put my Tums?

Update, 10:49am: The president of American's frequent-flyer program has just sent an email announcing some changes to the company's schedule through October: "We are proactively reducing the rest of our September and October schedule by approximately one to two percent. These schedule adjustments will enable us to provide our customers with more reliable service while minimizing impact to travel plans. Additionally, we are increasing staffing of maintenance, reservations and airport personnel to offer you more flexible travel options." Let's see how that affects my trip.

Friday 21 September 2012 09:34:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Thursday 20 September 2012

Before I forget, and get lost in my work again today:

All for now...

Thursday 20 September 2012 12:23:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | US#

Last night, around 11:30pm, the power went out in my apartment building and the ones on either side. I know this because the five UPS units around my place all started screaming immediately. There are enough of them to give me about 10 minutes to cleanly shut down the servers, which I did, but not before texting the local power company to report it. They had it on again at 1:15am, just after I'd fallen asleep. I finally got to bed around 2 after bringing all the servers back online, rebooting my desktop computer, and checking to make sure no disk drives died horribly in the outage.

But unlike the last time I lost power, this time I did not lose email, issue tracking, this blog, everyone else's site I'm hosting, or the bulk of my active source control repositories. That's because they're all in the cloud now. (I'm still setting up Mercurial repositories on my Azure VM, but I had moved all of the really important ones to Mercurial earlier in the evening.)

So, really, only Weather Now remains in the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center, and after last night's events, I am even more keen to get it up to the Azure VM. Then, with only some routers and my domain controller running on a UPS that can go four hours with that load, a power outage will have less chance of waking me up in the middle of the night.

Thursday 20 September 2012 11:46:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business | Cloud#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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