1.30.2010

Forget TV, all I need is broadband

As not seen on TV: Zdenek Stybar wins a Belgian cyclocross race.

Somehow along the way, my household wound up with extra cable channels -- an apparent oversight by the cable company, because the added services are not showing up on my bill. But I find that even in the long, dark Vermont winter I hardly bother watching.

All I've learned so far from this new found plethora of viewing options is that Iron Chef America features seafood as the 'secret ingredient' way too much (who in their right mind wants to eat a meal consisting entirely of variations on mackerel) and that Man vs. Wild is really just a version of Jackass set in the great outdoors.* But, as usual, I digress.

But if the cable wasteland is mostly unappealing, more and more events are escaping the confines of mainstream network coverage and are being streamed online. Last year live coverage of cyclocross started becoming available, and in the current season, abetted by some technically adept fans in Europe, more events have been streamed online. World Cups, local races in Belgium, and now the World Championships from the Czech Republic are all available online.

As found on Twitter: hashtag #Tabor

In this brave new world of online viewing options, Twitter hashtags point to the sites hosting online video streams. Consequently, in this decidedly middling year for snow, I've been in front of the computer on many Sunday mornings, cup of coffee in hand, vicariously learning Flemish and watching racers struggling in the cold and wet.

And, in the nothing new under the sun department, I've written on this subject previously.

*A recent episode of Man vs. Wild set in Montana included the host exploring an abandoned mine shaft, climbing a railroad trestle, and then hopping on a moving train, among other illegal and/or foolish things.

1.23.2010

2010: Random Photo Content #3: Adirondack High Peaks in winter

From a solo snowshoe hike in March 2005 that almost killed me, I was destroyed at the finish. A view from Lower Wolfjaw up the ridge of the Great Range, the bare peaks are Gothics, Haystack, Basin, and Mt. Marcy, (left to right). A panorama made with my first digital camera, a Canon A60.

I post this because I was trying to get over to the ADKs today but my plans didn't work out, so I will just go snowshoeing locally instead. There's a rainy thaw coming and Vermont could definitely use some fresh snow.

1.20.2010

Visions of the outsourced future

Seen on LinkedIn recently.

Hmm, an Indian RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) firm is looking to hire a recruiter (in India, bandwidth is cheap) for a US retailer... that in all likelihood mostly sells products made in China.

First American manufacturing moved overseas and now services like IT, accounting and HR process follow and then what's left? No matter how inexpensive the goods are in this unnamed US-retailers' stores, who will be able purchase these goods? Perhaps tourists from the Far East?

1.17.2010

Jim Douglas waves good-bye

"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these:
'It might have been!'"


(Image from the 2008 Waterbury Independence Day parade.)

In 2008, I wrote a blog post recounting a Vermont gubernatorial debate -- "I think that Jim Douglas is glib... feckless and cowardly and has not taken hard stands on difficult problems."

I don't think that this sentence is anything to be proud of. "Feckless" -- perhaps -- but "cowardly" -- I don't think this is an appropriate word to describe the governor. It should be redacted, but oh well, once words are anonymously launched into the blogosphere, it's hard to pull them back. Perhaps my only consolation will be (as I have noted) that I write a remarkably non-influential blog.

But, if "cowardly" wasn't the right word, it doesn't follow that I think that Jim Douglas was a profile in political courage. In an act that symbolized his rather negative legacy to the state, the governor recently pushed the detonator button to blow up the decrepit Champlain Bridge.

Governor Douglas used is his preoccupation with not raising taxes to not push for investments in infrastructure that will prove costly to Vermonters in the future. This isn't an abstract, time-out-of-mind problem -- it is something I can think about every time I drive to work on the shattered pavement of Vermont Route 100.

When it comes to the dismal fiscal condition of the state, however, I think Jim Douglas will be able to walk away from a mess and say "I told you so." I followed the antics of the state legislature in overriding the governor's veto of the current state budget. The arguments his opponents put forth are not persuasive and are intellectually dishonest.

Vermont does not lead the way economically in anything, yet 'progressive' factions have constructed a (relatively speaking) vast edifice of state programs. Now the money is gone and new solutions must be found, I'm far from confident that the current cast of characters will face facts and deal with the situation in a rational and equitable way.

There is a generally persuasive description of the Vermont labor market here....

1.14.2010

2010: Random Photo Content #2: The King of Beers, lost in the woods

September, 2006: An unopened can of Budweiser, found while hiking in the woods. Alcohol combined with sports like hunting or snowmobiling is an unhappy mix.

1.11.2010

Ricker Basin in winter: Stark grey January

Ricker Basin, from Waterbury Reservoir (best viewed large).

While Burlington Vermont is enjoying record snow cover (there's almost four feet of snow on the ground), where I live, about 25 miles away and in the mountains, it's pretty much just cold and dry. The mountains need more accumulating snow before it will be safe for backcountry skiing.

Looking south towards Camels Hump.

1.07.2010

2010: Random Photo Content (RPC) #1: Vermont State Capitol

The Vermont State Capitol at night, from 2006. In 'honor' -- not really the word I'm looking for -- of the legislature being back in session (more images here).

Creating content is hard, especially good content, and doubly so when trying to be somewhat reticent about oneself in this golden age of online oversharing. So I've decided to post one completely random photo here each week from the gigabytes of images on my hard drives. It's an easy and relatively straightforward to keep the blog going in some form or fashion while I find the time and energy to come up with longer and more thoughtful posts.

I know that tagging these posts as 'photography' isn't really appropriate but oh well, I'm somewhat trapped by my old labeling scheme, and it would be difficult to re-tag things at this point in time.

1.04.2010

Nothing was really popular: 10 less-ignored blog topics of 2009

Google Analytics: "top" (a relative term) posts of 2009.

Late in 2009 I became aware that a fashion blog produced by a thirteen year old girl was hugely popular and very influential... which just confirmed my suspicion that this document is, by any possible metric, an abject failure.

This is further demonstrated by looking back at the traffic reports for the past year. The 'less-ignored' posts, with few exceptions, are older posts from prior years. My witty, semi-learned and sometimes very prescient observations on economic crisis were largely ignored by the larger world, for example.

Google Analytics: Peering into the global unconscious via search keywords

Instead, here's what was searched for and found on this blog in 2009:
*Cyclist Tyler Hamilton announced his retirement in 2009 after facing a second suspension for doping violations. For whatever reason, this sparked a flurry of searches for his ex-wife's name.

**For some reason that I cannot fathom, "Fidelity" is a rising search term on this blog: Why is there increased interest in the Bush boat?