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Friday, December 3

Navel gazing 

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As I was leaving Lambeau Field, I tuned into an interesting discussion about the rise and importance of blogs on Wisconsin Public Radio's MediaTalk. Host Dave Berkman was speaking with Henry Farrell, an assistant professor at George Washington University.

The conversation seemed to be hitting all the right notes, with some interesting points about political blogs, starting and following blogs, etc. I wanted to ask a question that's becoming a concern for many people trying to find information on the Internet -- the increasing prevalence of blogs in search engine results.

I asked my query in three different ways before Farrell tackled my real question. Based on the conversation, it seemed that he thought I was asking how important content filters to the top of blogs -- which is an important point. However, I was more interested in how someone searching online for something specific can sort the wheat of solid content from the chaff of secondary blogs.

I did appreciate his response and his perspective about the state of search engines in the era of the blog. My phone connection was understandably cut before I could thank Farrell for his response. After all, I don't think many people usually get to ask so many questions on a radio talk show.

Ultimately, I think the discussion was quite fascinating -- especially for those who may not visit blogs all that often or else visit blogs but not even know it.

BTW, Farrell and others contribute to, a site dedicated to philosophy and other discourse. Farrell pointed out that, despite the name, the site does not discuss wood. For that, you'll have to go here. ;)


Thursday, December 2


MUNSTER -- One of my regrets living in Houghton is that I didn't travel enough. Well, I've been doing driving during the past two months than I have in the past four years.

Since my early October trip to St. Paul, Minn., I've visited six states and one Canadian province. I'm on the verge of driving around Lake Michigan for the second time in as many months. Seeing the country from the highway can be frustrating at times. It's like sampling a buffet of geographic destinations when I want to the full course meal. Sorry, but I'm just continuing a tortured analogy I made earlier today.

At the same time, I've gotten to explore rural Michigan to the urban cores of Detroit and Chicago. Things have certainly been exciting. At the same time, I noticing that the whirlwind pace that many of these places are moving at is a dramatic change from the more sedate pace of my life over the past few months. Part of me is excited for the opportunity to race with the pack, but part of me is afraid that I can't keep up.

The weather's certainly gotten cooler as the glowing embers of fall have faded to the early twinges of winter cold. I've gotten to see a lot of neat places and I just want to keep going as far as my car can take me. Unfortunately, the pocketbook is the tightest leash on my travels at this point.

Tomorrow, I want to visit Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Like seeing the Stanley Cup in person, I'm awed to see this place where history was made, but I'm also saddened because I'll never be in a condition to win a physical contest like the Super Bowl. Still, perhaps glimpsing sports history will encourage me to strive to be a more physical person and to bust out those leg warmers. Just kidding about the leg warmers part.

End of the rope 

While driving around during the past few days, I've listened to many stories from This American Life. When I'm not listening to a CD, I try to find a local NPR station.

For some reason, all of the frustrations of the election flooded back as I drove through southwest Michigan. I think it was the old Bush-Cheney billboards touting such slogans as "Remember it's your money" and something about national security being a top priority. I guess it was frustrating because I know that Bush's record isn't as shiny and satin-y white as some (apparently, a lot of) people believe.

Listening to Talk of the Nation and the debate on Congressional efforts to reform the federal government's intelligence apparatus was just excruciating today. I had to pop in a music CD of klezmer music just to get my mind off the matter.

This, too, shall pass and I'll be right back to being in the thick of it. For now, sometimes I want to get off of this crazy carousel.

Time's awastin' 

MUNSTER, Ind. -- On one of the many online bulletin board's I frequent, there was a discussion of how many TV shows we all own on DVD. It started getting scary when I added up all of hours of TV I own.

If I watched all the DVDs in one sitting, I would have nearly 12 days of consecutive viewing ahead of me. And that's not including sleep.

Here's what I've got:

1. Babylon 5 (syndicated) - Season 4, In the Beginning
2. Coupling (BBC) - Series 1-3
3. Doctor Who (BBC) - various stories
4. Farscape (Sci-Fi) - 1.1
5. Futurama (FOX) - all seasons
6. Homicide (NBC) - Seasons 1, 2
7. Made in Canada (CBC) - Season 1
8. The Newsroom (CBC) - Seasons 1, 2
9. The Office (BBC) - Series 1, 2, holiday special
10. Saturday Night Live (NBC) - The Best of Phil Hartman
11. The Simpsons (FOX) - Seasons 1-4
12. Stargate SG-1 (syndicated)- 1.1
13. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (syndicated) - all seasons
14. Yes, Prime Minister (BBC) - Series 1, 2
15. Tuning In (a series of specials about the CBC's 50th birthday)

I've really tried to focus on getting a few series complete (collecting a UK/Canadian series is far easier and cheaper than a U.S. show) and then cherry-picking the rest where possible.

Totaling everything up was a bit of a pain, but I currently have 485 episodes of television programs. If I were to watch them entirely non-stop, I would have ~11.5 days of TV viewing ahead of me not counting sleep and any other non-essentials. Let's not talk about how much all of this cost.

The 176 episodes of Deep Space Nine account for roughly half of my collection (~5.3 days).

I don't watch them all at once. It's nice having shows that you know are going to be good on my shelf. It's a guaranteed good time. I don't go out of my way to buy a TV show that I don't really want to watch.

Fun with Yahoo! Mail 

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Although I initially loathed the squiggly red lines, I've grown accustomed to programs checking my spelling as I go along. I just sent an e-mail from Yahoo! Mail without hitting the spell check button first. I double-checked after the fact and thankfully there were no errors. Still, I think I was a little quick on the trigger.

Another thing about the computer checking your spelling is that I've grown lackadaisical in my vocabulary when I'm not at a computer. I've recently purchased a book to help me improve my word power. I hope it helps in my future work.


Monday, November 29

No luck 

I don't buy into omens -- bad or otherwise. However, I think it's a bad sign that my fortune cookie recently didn't include a fortune. Does that mean that I don't have any luck at all? I hope not -- although the black cat that walked in front of my car the other day probably isn't a good sign.

So despite signs to the contrary, I think things are starting to look up. I've got a couple of meetings coming up and I hope that those will be productive. And despite nothing solid coming out of an earlier meeting, the guy said I did "reasonably well" and "above average" on a very long test. Woo-hoo!


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