April 29, 2012

Planned Obsolescence

In a conversation with cousins Bill and Jen, I was complaining about the relative incapacity of my cell phone. I'm still using a "stupid phone" that I bought back in 2004, and it can't do anything cool like the modern phones can.

The modern economic model for cell phones is a two-year replacement cycle. You trade in your iPhone 2 for an iPhone 3 or your Droid 2 for a Droid 3. So there is no reason to engineer these phones to last beyond two years, and in fact it is advantageous if they don't last too long, to discourage the used market.

So my phone is still working because it was made before the switch to the "upgrade treadmill" business model. I should treasure it as a classic, built back when things were built to last.

I still want a smartphone, though.

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April 22, 2012

Ah, English

Your education for the day:

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April 17, 2012

I Would Like To Thank Thomas Bayes

Apparently the site's spam filter is doing its job. Site statistics report that just over 6400 comments have been posted, but only 371 have not been filtered out.

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Back to the Archive

My adviser wants me to flesh out my project with a few more details, so it's back to the archive for me. Someday, Google will succeed in digitizing all the world's information, and I can do this from my comfortable chair; but for now, I have to go over to Massachusetts and peer at faded ink with my fallible eyeballs.

I left Tuesday morning, drove eight hours, and arrived at my cousin Bill & Jenn's house, where I will spend the night. They live just over two hours away from the archive, so I can't use them as a free hotel, but I figured that as long as I was in the neighborhood, it would be nice to see them. Uncharacteristically, I left Buffalo earlier in the morning than I had been planning, so I got to New Hampshire with plenty of daylight left. There was some delay, in that I assumed that the "A" condo would be the one with the front door. I was wrong, "B" and "C" share the front door, "A" has an entry on the side. That worked out, I got to meet the cats, then we drove over to UNH for a quick visit. That's one of the schools I am interested in, and it didn't occur to me that Bill & Jenn live right next to it. (When they bought this condo, Jenn was still attending classes there.) The history building isn't particularly attractive, and all the faculty had gone home for the day by the time we arrived. Ah well. If I haven't overstayed my welcome this time, I can come up for a scheduled visit in a few weeks.

After a delicious dinner, we're now all lounging around using our electronic devices. I don't have to get a really early start tomorrow, because I have to get to the opposite side of Boston. If I leave early, I'll just spend more time trapped in rush-hour traffic. Even so, I should get to bed sometime soon, I suppose.

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April 12, 2012

Feet, Do Your Duty!

Last semester, I was meeting a fellow student at the gym twice a week to get some exercise. However, he liked to start very early, and if I wanted to be doing PT before dawn, I'd still be in the Corps! (Strangely, he was a night owl. He worked out early because he was still up most days.)

For the spring semester, I've been continuing to commute to campus by bike, but it's a short trip. I put in some decent road bike miles in the warm spell a few weeks ago, but my enthusiasm waned as the temperatures dipped again.

I spent most of today at home, doing lots of reading and a little writing. At around five, I realized that the sun was still up, there was little wind, the air was about 50°, and I had some new tights from an end-of-season sale to try out.

So I kitted up, making some disturbing discoveries in the process. Now, I knew I was about 20 pounds over my ideal weight, most of that having arrived in the last three months. But putting on skintight workout gear kind of emphasized that fact. Also, not having done any weights or calisthenics has caused my chest to shrink enough that my heart-rate monitor kept sliding down until I tightened the strap by a couple of inches.

Thus looking quite silly, I took off at a conservative pace. Sadly, my lack of running meant what had been a conservative pace is now an aggressive one. The final mile home was at a 14 minute mile, which is to say I would have moved faster by just walking. My pride forced me to maintain a halting shuffle regardless.

I shan't be sharing this particular run's GPS record. But now I've got a good baseline to improve from!

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April 11, 2012

Massholes Beware

Well, I need to go back out to an archive in Massachusetts to do a little more research. (Note- I really hate writing "Massachusetts". That state needs a new name.) I considered flying, because I'm not the sort of person that enjoys doing an 8-10 hour drive, but after consulting airfares, it's road-trip time! The side benefit of driving is that I get to visit with cousins Bill & Jen on the way out, and see my best friend Paul on the drive home. How cool is being a historian? Next week, I get to do a business trip where my "business" is looking at very old documents.

Although, maybe that's just the sign that I'm a history nerd. I think it'll be fun to transcribe lists of names that were written with lousy handwriting a hundred and fifty years ago in badly faded ink.

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April 09, 2012

Uncle Sam Wants Him

Today my roommate got a letter from the Selective Service, that contained his draft card. This seems downright unfair, as he's already been drafted once before, so drafting him again is double jeopardy! He served two years in the Army of the Republic of Korea before coming to attend university in America.

The letter did include a paragraph explaining that he could mail the letter along with a copy of his visa to a specific address to get removed from the list, but he's planning to keep the letter based on how hilarious it is, as in the unlikely event that Congress re-institutes the draft, he'll be able to apply for exemption then.

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April 04, 2012

Sorry, Ride for Roswell

Due to scheduling issues, it looks like my GF and I will not be doing the Ride for Roswell this year. To make up the lack, I might be doing the "100 Miles to Nowhere" instead.

100MtN is another cancer fundraiser, invented and run by the blogger behind FatCyclist.com. The idea is that a century is the distance that "separates the men from the boys" if you will: you don't have to be a pro to finish, but if you're not, it'll hurt. There are lots of scheduled century rides, all over the country. The schtick behind 100MtN is in two parts: first, it can be done anywhere; second, that it has to be done in the most boring manner possible.

So no rides through the beautiful rolling countryside, admiring the forests and fields. No rides along scenic mountain ridges. No rides through beautiful historic cities. It's got to be somewhere boring.

Pretty much anything is exciting when you see it for the first time, so the ride is to be done in laps. The recommended maximum lap distance is two or two and a half miles, if memory serves, so you're going to be seeing the same scenery many times. The truly hardcore do it on an exercise bike or on bicycle rollers.

This year's edition of the 100MtN is scheduled for June 2nd. I'm not sure where I'll be that day, so I don't know where I'll be riding. It could be a short loop on campus, or maybe around the block at the GF's place. Either way, it should be a good time! Or, rather, not a good time, which is kind of the point.

Being an individual-effort race does have perks, of course. You can take rest breaks when you want, and don't have to line up at porta-potties. Instead of munching Clif Bars, you can have a grill cooking burgers somewhere along your loop. And every rider gets to define which division they are riding in, with the intent that everyone gets to win their division. I'm thinking I have a strong chance of winning the "Marine/History Grad Student/30-40" bracket.

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April 02, 2012


Yoda finally learns how to speak proper English!

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