Sox 2

Posted in Sports on October 26th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: It is so cool that the White Sox won their first World Series since 1917, a year after the Red Sox won their first WS since 1918. In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in four straight games, and the White Sox did the same to the Astros this year. So two very lengthy gaps between World Series victories, and a curse in Boston’s case, have been erased and ended in about a year. The announcers on Fox made mention of these dates shortly after the game ended tonight.

Now the pressure is on the hapless Cubs, who have not won since 1908. Big Guy called me after the White Sox clinched the game tonight, and we talked about how the Baseball Gods, wherever and whomever they may be, seem to be working some weird kind of magic, and it’s a wonderful thing. Now, baseball training camps open in about 14 weeks…

Archive of American Television

Posted in Television on October 26th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: While researching another topic, I discovered this post on the Official Google Blog, regarding the Archive of American Television. From its web site:

The Archive of American Television strives to preserve the rich history of television by videotaping interviews with the individuals who pioneered the medium.

We have rare, in-depth interviews with those behind the scenes as well as television’s biggest stars including: news legends WALTER CRONKITE, DON HEWITT, and DAVID BRINKLEY, actors ALAN ALDA, OSSIE DAVIS, and MARY TYLER MOORE, writer/producers NORMAN LEAR, CARL REINER, and AARON SPELLING, and executives FRED SILVERMAN, SUMNER REDSTONE, and TED TURNER.

By utilizing cutting-edge technology, this Archive will be a digital encyclopedia of television, accessible worldwide by students, historians, and the public. In fact, the Archive has covered virtually every social, economic and cultural events of the 20th Century, which will be used to educate and inspire future generations.

Award winning producer-executives Grant A. Tinker, David L. Wolper, Dean Valentine, and Television Academy Foundation Chair Emeritus Thomas W. Sarnoff are guiding the project’s success.

I’ll definitely check this out, especially after seeing the brilliant new movie, Good Night, and Good Luck in NYC two weeks ago, easily one of the best films of 2005. It isn’t playing in Canada yet (maybe Toronto), but when it arrives, I’ll see it again. Highly recommended.

Mixed Bag Special

Posted in Comedy, Film, Technology, Television on October 25th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Last week, Stephen Colbert, the brilliant and consistently funniest “reporter” on The Daily Show, debuted on Comedy Central with his own show, The Colbert Report (pronounced coal-BEAR re-PORE). Of course, this being Canada, we don’t get the show yet, if ever, so thanks to the miracle of bittorrent technology, I have watched the first four episodes. The show, which is produced by, among others, Colbert and Jon Stewart, is hilarious. Bringing Out the Absurdity of the News by Allesandra Stanley, in the 25 Oct 2005 NYTimes, captures the essence of the show. Excerpt:

And some of the best material on Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert’s shows lies in their sadistic use of snippets from real newscasts and political speeches. On Thursday, Mr. Colbert showed a montage of alarmed reports about the avian flu epidemic on CNN, C-Span and MSNBC, then showed a more upbeat Fox News headline: “Bird is the word on the street. Why the avian flu could send stocks soaring.”

Mr. Colbert praised Fox News for always finding something positive in bad news, be it about the Bush administration or the nation. “Every global pandemic has a silver lining,” he said approvingly. “Remember, the Medici made their money investing in the bubonic plague. A lot of people did. Until the boil burst.”

.:In addition to sending me the link to the NYTimes story, Mike Hall also forwarded this CNET story, Tempted by blogs, spam becomes ‘splog’. Apparently, splog is the new word to describe blog spam.

Google’s Blogger blog-creation tool and BlogSpot hosting service, together the most popular free blogging service on the Web, fell victim this past weekend to the biggest “splog” attack yet–an assault that led to clogged RSS readers and overflowing in-boxes, and that may have manipulated search engine rankings. Bottom line: The scope of the attack, and the sophisticated automation used to accomplish it, mark a turning point for splogging, a problem experts say has been building for some time. It’s not yet clear what Google and others can do to stop the nuisance.

I wasn’t aware of this attack, and as far as I can tell, neither this site or STLQ were victims of this moronic episode.

.: I have 172 feeds in my Bloglines account at the moment, which is beyond absurd. I can’t don’t keep up with 99% of it, but every so often it’s fun to cruise through the feeds and see what’s out there. It seems a little early for movie awards season, but The Movie Blog reports that Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, has earned the Hollywood Movie of the Year award for 2005. The award is one of many given at the annual Hollywood Film Festival, which ended yesterday.

.: Futurists Pick Top Tech Trends comes from Wired News. The trends forecast to happen include simplicity, mobile socialization, the end of the combustion engine, the green movement expansion, and an 2006 IT revolution.

.: I am not into video games of any sort, generally. I tend to default to games like solitaire, spider solitaire, miniputt, and the like. Science writer Clive Thompson writes on his site, Collision Detection, about a game called Poom, in which a ball drops from above, and the player moves a grid of tiles below so that the ball will bounce back up; some of the tiles, of course, are missing. When the ball hits a tile and bounces, the grid below will change. The key is to watch the shadow of the ball as it falls back to the grid. Addictive indeed.

Progress and A Grand Slam

Posted in Personal, Sports on October 23rd 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: I returned home from dim sum today, determined to make some progress on house renos. I washed the downstairs bathroom door and door frame with T.S.P., a heavy duty cleaner, and then covered both with white primer. Following that, I installed a new face plate for my cable connection, and replaced the plugs and cover in the downstairs bathroom. Since April, when the work began, the main floor of my home has been littered with paint cans, brushes, rollers, pans, tools, wood, latex tiles, curtains, and more, and I am growing weary of looking at all of it on a daily basis. The next job is to paint the door and frame a semi-gloss white, and reinstall the door afterwards. Once done, I will call upon the help of friends to install the baseboards in the washroom, and the mouldings around the door frame.

.: I am at home on Sunday night, with the World Series on the tube. As a kid, I was an avid hockey and baseball fan, and my love of these sports continued into adulthood. I’ve also enjoyed NFL football over the decades. Growing up in Winnipeg, it seemed natural to cheer for the Minnesota teams, the Twins and the Vikings. As well, we had relatives living there since the 1950s, and we visited them often. My father was a Montreal Canadiens fan, so we followed suit as kids growing up in his house; despite having lived in Edmonton since 1978, I still cheer for the Habs.

Since the mid-80s, I’ve had few friends who share my interest in sports, so there are few people with whom I can discuss the latest developments. That said, I’m not sure it’s such a big deal anymore. (Aside: White Sox just hit a grand slam, with two out!) My interest in hockey began to wane as the game deteriorated in the 1980s – the NHL expanded to 30 teams and watered down the product, players showed no respect for each other, offense diminished as the emphasis switched to defensive style, and the game itself slowed down as players resorted to clutch-and-grab tactics. The recent lockout, which resulted in a cancelled season, may reinvigorate the game, but this is conditional on a number of issues, not the least of which is whether the referees will enforce the new rules, designed to allow for a more fluid, faster game. Regardless, while I will be a Habs fan for life, I am no longer interested in spending three hours in front of the tube to watch a hockey game. Baseball, however, continues to fascinate and intrigue me, and I will continue to follow it closely for years to come.

The 2005 WS features a team that has never won, the Astros, and a team that has not won since 1917, the White Sox. I’m rooting for the White Sox. Last year, the Red Sox won the WS for the first time since 1918; if the White Sox win this year for the first time since 1917, the two Sox championships would feel like bookends, and the White Sox would end a drought of similar proportions and agony shared by the 2004 Red Sox. Then in 2006, the pressure would be squarely on the Chicago Cubs, a team that hasn’t won the WS since 1908. If the White Sox win this week, and the Cubs perform a miracle in 2006, the three teams with the longest stretch between WS victories will have each one again, in three consecutive years. Lyrical, magical, mathematical. Now I hope I haven’t jinxed the White Sox.


Posted in Personal, The Web, Weblogs on October 22nd 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: I’ve been home from NYC for six days, and am still recovering from a minor cold I picked up late in the trip. I stayed home for three days, missing Access 2005, which from all accounts from my colleagues with whom I spoke on Thursday, totally rocked. I attended one day of NetSpeed 2005, and went to work briefly on Friday to teach a class. I’m doing my best to relax this weekend, but feel like I’m falling behind in work that needs to be done around the house.

.: Wikipedia, the free, online Encyclopedia by Committee, is coming under fire for its inconsistency, slipshod editing, and its many flat-out awful entries. Read “Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems – Yes it’s garbage, but it’s delivered so much faster!”, from The Register. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Wikipedia’s quality is uneven and at times, atrocious. The Register article mentioned a post by Nicholas Carr, The amorality of Web 2.0, and it’s worth reading:

In theory, Wikipedia is a beautiful thing – it has to be a beautiful thing if the Web is leading us to a higher consciousness. In reality, though, Wikipedia isn’t very good at all. Certainly, it’s useful – I regularly consult it to get a quick gloss on a subject. But at a factual level it’s unreliable, and the writing is often appalling. I wouldn’t depend on it as a source, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a student writing a research paper.

.: The Great Canadian Blog Survey is available, complied by U of Alberta Masters student Aaron Braaten. Details: “This survey was conducted by over a period of three weeks in September, 2005. It asked bloggers and blog readers various questions that enable in-depth analysis along 25 different variables. Overall, 1146 responses were collected.”

Not A New York Ending

Posted in NYC, Travel on October 17th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: My last day in NYC was a lousy one. My throat hurt considerably, making it difficult to swallow any food or water. The shuttle picked me up four hours before my flight, so I had to wait at LaGuardia for three hours before the flight left at 1530 hrs. Unfortunately, the flight didn’t leave until 1640 hrs, and my connecting flight to Edmonton was scheduled for 1815 hrs. The flight arrived at 1740 hrs, taxied for about 15 minutes, I cleared customs, waited another 20 minutes for my luggage, by which time the Edmonton flight was gone. Air Canada personnel were of little help (duh), the Lester B Pearson Airport in Toronto is a behemoth, and navigating it is a frustrating challenge. After clearing the customs area, I was stopped because I was carrying an apple, and had to clear the apple before proceeding further. Apparently British Columbia doesn’t like apples from other countries brought into Canada, but because I was going to Alberta, I was given the green light to proceed. Imagine my relief!

I was given a new boarding pass for the next flight to Edmonton, which left four hours later. Well, check that – four hours and forty minutes later, as Air Canada had yet another delay. No aisle seats were available, leaving me with a window seat next to someone who ensured that he had full use of the arm rests. I was crunched in on both sides. The plane was full, and warm, which meant I was uncomfortably warm as well. I spent the trip praying for patience while I sucked two rolls of Hall’s cough drops and drank ice water. I watched two episodes of Harvey Birdman and one of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Finally we landed, but the Edmonton Air Canada ground crew wasn’t quite ready for the plane to dock at the gate. Er, like, whatinhell were they doing otherwise? This is Edmonton, not O’Hare or LaGuardia. Margaret was waiting for me, to give me a ride home at 0100 hrs. Thank God for good friends.

Note to self: never use the phrases “Air Canada” and “customer service” in the same sentence.

So I am at home, the throat is still sore, and I am missing Day One, and probably Day Two of Access 2005. I will also miss a class I am scheduled to teach in 30 minutes in Chemical Engineering 464, the design class.

This is not the way anyone wants to end a trip, and flying home while not feeling well is a slow form of torture. I hope you have a better week. I think I will watch some Rome episodes, and go back to bed.

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