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Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This fine Worksman cruiser bike is an imposing presence in my hotel

I'm in Sacramento this week for work, and with some Googling, I found
a brand new shop called Practical Cycle (it opened last Thursday) that
sells and rents basic bicycles. Since I was taking the bike for a few
days, they let me have it for the very affordable rate of $20 per
day. I'd also like to give props to the Holiday Inn Express -- when I
inquired at the front desk about a place to park my bike, I did not
expect the lady to say I could put it in my room.

I took a cruise down the bike trail along the American River this
evening, and cut back to the hotel through some neighborhoods that
blended from industrial to residential. (The maps on the iPhone make
this sort if wandering much easier than it would otherwise be.) Always
great to experience a new city by bike...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News via Facebook

The Washington Post posted an editor's note today about integration of Facebook with their site. If you're logged into Facebook on your computer, you will automatically see a box on the Post that shows articles your friends have recently shared. And there's now a Facebook "Like" button for every article.

There's some irony in the fact that the Post has dubbed this new feature "Network News." The original television network newscasts for which that term was coined, along with other traditional media like the Post, created a mainstream where media gatekeepers guided the national conversation to a certain set of issues. New media have been dismantling that, serving up specialized channels of information that are only relevant to and consumed by a subset of the population. The Post's "Network News" embraces social media's tendency to take that one step further, and expose you to information based on what other people in your social circle are consuming. This has long-term implications for the flow of information through society and our ability to have collective discussions about topics that affect us all. It's not like this change at the Post's website will have much impact along those lines on its own, but I had previously noted that the social media effect can be a bit unnerving when you can see it happening.

In any case, I'm sure the Post freaked out a number of people, because while opt-out instructions weren't included when I saw the note this afternoon, they have now been appended. It's actually rather counterintuitive to opt out, because it's controlled through your Facebook account -- I imagine that it would be difficult for many people to understand that they need to go to an entirely different website in order to remove a feature that appears on the Post site.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


A bit lacking on the blogging lately.

This new table I got for the porch is awesome. Sitting on the porch with a beer and a couple friends is a lovely evening activity when the weather is this nice, at least until the bugs kick in later in a couple months.

I went to Cincinnati for work during the first part of the week. I found the farmland on the way from Columbus to Cincinnati very reassuring for some reason. (Ohio seems to be very heavy on the beginning of the alphabet -- Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton.) We ate the local specialty of chili, which, for the uninitiated, is more like a sauce and is served over spaghetti. Not bad, but not great either.

My parents visited last weekend, and we got a West Wing tour courtesy of John. It was cool to see it in person; perhaps not surprisingly, all the parts you're used to seeing look much smaller in person.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Warming up

Today, it felt like summer outside -- a high in the low 80s, and even warmer temps expected in the next couple days.

After work, I took a ride up the Capital Crescent trail from Georgetown to Bethesda. The destination was the Apple Store to try out an iPad, but it was really just an excuse for a ride on a beautiful evening. (The iPad was cool, but I think I'll be able to restrain myself for a bit. While it's spectacularly thin, it's heavy enough that you'll pretty much always want to be sitting down while using it.)

I took the Capital Crescent back home -- it's not the most direct route, but because it's an old railroad grade, it has a very gentle downslope for all 8 or so miles from Bethesda to Georgetown, and you can cruise 15+ mph with little effort. The slope is almost imperceptible visually, so it makes you feel like a very accomplished cyclist. By the time I was heading home, it was dark, and cooling down. When you have warm days followed by cool evenings, and you're wearing only a t-shirt, differences in temperature are easy to feel on your skin -- warmer air near swaths of pavement, cooler air where the trees are thick, etc. The variety of vegetation, development, and water features that the Capital Crescent passes through create a good number of these noticeable variations, and the fact that you're cruising pretty fast makes them more obvious because the transitions happen faster. Between the lovely cool night air, the zippy ride, and the the ability to feel the environments as I passed through them, it was a wonderful ride.