Ben Franklin kicking it on the current spying debate tip

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

I was reading Christopher Hitchens’ excellent essay in the April 2006 Vanity Fair in which he referenced this quote from BF and it made me wonder if this is engraved into any marble in DC anywhere. I’d love to see it engraved on the edifice of whatever building the NSA is in.

PalmTX mini-review

I’ve had a PalmTX now for a few weeks, here are some thoughts

I bought the TX so that we could access e-mail and the web on our trip without having to lug around a laptop. I also figured that it might be a nice way to organize some of our info for the trip and keep track of things.

So far it seems ok, I haven’t had too many problems. I can’t say I’m overjoyed though either. Considering that Palm is the main PDA solution for Mac users, you might think that they would provide better software for us. It seems to work ok, but it doesn’t sink with Entourage automatically, the included PDF software doesn’t work at all on the mac side, the cable doesn’t attach securely to the device, so it is constantly disconnecting with the slightest touch. This isn’t my first Palm, I had a Visor before, but I sync’d that to a PC and I can say that it was a bit better of an experience. Even with the included Palm Apps and the freeware Palm Apps I’ve found, I’m finding myself having to buy quite a bit of non-cheap software to make this device useable for my needs. The software that Palm does include mostly seems ok, the web browser is functional and displays most pages well enough (although the Unit Circle Rekkids page doesn’t display at all), but it won’t display a text file off a web server for some reason. The mail app seems pretty reasonable.

On the plus side, it is fairly tiny. I could easily see myself whipping this out on the street to check an address or a map, but I couldn’t imagine doing that with an OQO or even an Origami. I think I was hoping to use this as my single information device whereas Palm was thinking that this would be the device I would use in transit or in a single meeting.

It will be an interesting test to see if we have to resort to an internet cafe during our trip, it will be an even more interesting test to see if I use it at all after we get back from our trip. I can’t sync it to my corporate e-mail outside of work thanks to our VPN, I can’t connect to my corporate wireless ethernet thanks to our authentication mechanism, so it isn’t that useful for me as a business tool. I don’t spend that much time on public transit since I live close to work. I have a PSP to keep me entertained on flights and in airports. The note-taking, list keeping and basic calendar and contacts stuff is already supported by my cell phone… Maybe PDAs really are dead…

Way to shore up the low approval ratings


So, GWB comes out and basically says “Iran, Syria, Korea, you’re next.” That is sure gonna make friends for us in the Middle East, moron. Nope, not gonna help terrorist recruiting at all, you projecting America your personal bully squad to make other countries do what you want. Mr. President, you are playing a dangerous game of chicken with the lives of the American people in the balance. I think it is time you get over your tough guy fantasy and try to come up with a better plan that maybe involves less military threats and more international cooperation. Oh wait, thats right, you’ve completely isolated us with your bullying ways. Well done, the next 4 presidents will be left cleaning up your mess and the non-wealthy Americans will see their quality of life stagnate as the damage you’ve done is fixed.

I’m still alive

and I’m still here

I just haven’t had anything to say for a bit, or rather, anything I’d like to blog about. We’re getting ready for our big excursion to the continent as they say, and that has been keeping me busy.

I’m generally disappointed with the Michelin travel guides for Europe, even penny-pinching Rick Steve’s guides are a lot more useful. And the Frommer’s is the best. I think we’ll be carrying those with us.

Hey U of I alumni! Thanks for liking my blog name and motto. It makes this native son of Chicago proud, although I went to school somewhere else…

Last Olympics thoughts

and they aren’t positive ones…

Dear NBC, please don’t take a lack of ratings on the Olympics to mean there is a lack of interest. Instead, take them as a criticism of your crappy coverage (again). Maybe you could spend less time doing puff pieces about the athletes and more time showing the actual events. Also, instead of breaking up the events across an evening, maybe you could have the whole event followed by another whole event, so we don’t have to watch 20 minutes of skeleton to get book-ended snow-boarding coverage. Take a lesson from the CBC, they do it much better for both Winter and Summer games which is why we mostly watched them instead of you.

Dear Canada, Avril Lavigne? Really? Whose idea was that? I mean, she is better looking than most of your music exports, but Sum41 or the Bare-Naked Ladies are much prouder Canadians and they are also much better musicians. Also, I mean, the ceremonies are supposed to be full of art-wank moments, but I have no idea what you guys were going for. I know having the Cirque Du Soleil guys do the event would have been expensive, but they would have done a much better job for the 3 billion people judging your country.

Dear Olympic Committee, nothing like capping the Olympic games where men and women compete on the global stage as equals by having Ricky Martin trot out dancers dressed like hookers caressing him and each other. Don’t wait too long to remind those female athletes that they really are just objects after all. Also, was having him a budget cutting move or is he much popular in Europe than he is in the US these days?

Seattle Meals By Location

Here are some of my favorite meals by neighborhood, these aren’t the once a year meals, there are the once a month meals (not that I eat all of these every month, I’d be dead of heart disease if I actually ate like this every night). I mean that they are all reasonably priced (and some are quite cheap!)

Pike Place Market
Duck Confit or Cassoulet at Cafe Compagne

Mixed Seafood Grill at Queen City Grill
Poulet Forrestierre at Le P’Tit Bistro

Paella in the bar at Brasa

Queen Anne
The Brisket or honey stung fried chicken at the 5 Spot

Mixed Tandoori platter at India Bistro
#2 at The Other Coast
Udon at Bento Sushi
Chicken Pad See Eiw at Thaiku

Indian Buffet lunch at Quazi’s
Gyro Omelette at Costa’s
Captain Neon Burger at Dad Watson’s

Super Chicken Burger from Red Mill

Sausage and Black Olive Chicago Deep Dish Pizza from Delfino’s

Capitol Hill
Veggie Sandwich from Olympia
Super Chicken Burrito at Bimbo’s Bitchen Burrito Kitchen
Lasagna Bolognese at Machiavelli Ristorante

netflix part deux

supposedly, the more you rent from netflix, the slower your service will be. They do this so that your per-rental fee will always be above $2. I can understand this from a business perspective, but from a customer service perspective, it sucks. Given a choice, I would rather pay more money for my membership and never have my movies delayed. As it stands, I don’t see a major reason to stay a netflix customer if I have to wait a week between each rental. The local video store may be more expensive, but if they have the movie, they give me the movie, they don’t make me wait a week for it.

Here is someone else’s netflix disappointment page:

my e-mail to netflix

I sent the following e-mail to netflix this morning

There is a longer and longer gap between when we send movies and when you acknowledge receiving them. Also, once you have received them, you are taking longer and longer to mail out the next film in our queues. We live in downtown Seattle, films dropped in the mailbox in the morning will usually be received by your Tacoma facility THE SAME DAY. Films sent from Tacoma should take no longer than one day to reach us. However, it is now taking up to a WEEK to get the next films in our queue when we send in others. It used to take 2-3 days when we first joined your service.

Is this the level of turnaround we should be expecting?

Icon Grill

worth checking out if someone else is paying

Walking in the door any night at the Icon Grill, you’ll see large parties of people. These are business groups on expense accounts. You will also see a fair number of tourists due to its proximity to the Westin and other hotels. That these groups are the staple customers should point out one thing to you, which is that this place looks better than it is. The atmosphere is funky yet kind of fancy. However, the booth we were seated in had a huge hole in the vinyl seat that was covered with packing tape. This would be OK in a Denny’s, but not somewhere with $20-$30 entrees. The food itself is Northwest-fusion with some staples. The pizza Margherita was worse than tasteless, but the squash soup was good. Their Stuffed Tuscan Chicken was tough and hard to chew, but the sauce it was in was good. My drink was watered down which I find to be the height of evil.

Basically, this place is just a bad bang for your buck. You are paying for the atmosphere, but not the quality of the food. If atmosphere is all that is important to you, there are better places to go. If food is what is important, then there are better places to go. I think you get my general drift here.

If they dropped their prices by a third, this would be a fun go-to. Not the first choice, but an occasional one. As it is, there is much better food to be had near by for the same price or less. Check the place out if you are on an expense account or stop by for a beer or wine (which they can’t water down), but don’t spend your own money here.