Saturday, June 28, 2008

If you're gonna join the army...

...figure out a way to join the British Army.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Open Letter to Boston.com

Dear boston.com,

We've known each other for a number of years now. When you're at your best, you're a fun mix of news and silly workday diversions. But you're hardly at your best anymore. Sorry, bro, but it's true.

Look, I understand that you're a Web site that doesn't understand how the Web works, and I'm sure that gets you down sometimes. So please, allow me to help you. I have five suggestions for you. Pick just three of them, and I'll walk the streets in a sandwich board advertising your site (which isn't an effective way to increase traffic, but I wanted to use an example you'd understand).

  1. Stop spamming my RSS Reader. I know you're really excited about your “Most e-mailed articles,” and I'll tell you, I was happy to add that RSS feed to my list. But I just found 60 stories in the feed at 8 a.m. That's after reading all the items I had at 1:30 a.m. How do 60 stories become “most e-mailed” in the dead of night? Aren't you sort of stretching the concept? Are you following the “Dictator wins 102% of the vote” standard of superlatives?
  2. Give me links. I know, I know, everyone yells at you about this. But people aren't saying it just to pick on you. It's super annoying to read about a Web site in your articles and not have a link to get there. Now, this isn't an invitation to over-link to every other word in the article, which is what other bad newspaper sites do. Just, you know, find that balance. It's not that hard.
  3. Fix your photo-based features. You know those fun picture tours you do? Like “Outdoor Patio Dining In Boston” and all that? I'll take one for the team and tell you: We hate them. No, not the idea; the idea is fun. It's the execution. Use a flash-based element to change the pictures so I don't have to reload a new Web page every time. There are ways to do this and change the ads, so you won't lose any revenue. Are you seriously going to ask me to click though 62 pages to look at Red Sox picks and vote for my favorite players? What am I, a link-clicking monkey?
  4. Put the blogs where I can find them. Where do you hide all your blogs? As an example, Ty Burr and Wesley Morris do a great job with Movie Nation. It's a fun read, and the Take 2 video clips are an interesting addition. So how come you bury these guys and their online efforts, huh? How come? Maybe a “Blogs” tab on your top navigation would help. Just sayin.
  5. Stop booting me from reading articles to force me to sign in. OK, so I go through my 60-odd “Most e-mailed articles” this morning, and I select a few to read. But look at this! After the first few I select, the rest are Boston.com member center prompts, and once I log in, every damned tab redirects to the same story. Is it that hard to remember which articles I wanted to read? Are you forcing me to randomly sign in so I can lose my stories and then have to look for them on boston.com? Gah!

I still love you, boston.com, and I hope you don't take this too personally. Just, you know, shape up a bit. We're all rooting for you.

Love,

Berto

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bird Stares Down Revere Man

"You know what I hate most in life? Birds. I'd rather face a guy with a knife."

I went to a diner this morning for breakfast and the paper. While there, a bird got trapped inside the diner's little glass foyer area. The cook freaked out and closed the door, turned around and said the above to me and the waitress, the only other people in the building. Yeesh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bee!



A bee fell from a tree and landed on my windshield yesterday. I was about to get out of the car and go to work, but stopped immediately. I had a bad experience with a hornet when I was a kid, so bees sorta freak me out.




But the bee was a little lazy or lethargic, and was just sort of hanging out on the windshield. So I grabbed my camera and took some pictures.



Then I opened the door and ran away. Stupid bees.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kevin Garnett: Breaking down the breakdown

Kevin Garnett deserves every accolade he's getting today. Slate decided to go a slightly different way, embracing the Big Man's deliciously weird post-game interview with Michelle Tafoya. Great read. Here's the video:






Celtics!


(photo h/t: Celticsblog)

Man, that was a beat-down for the ages. As a casual Celtics fan, this was amazing. I can't imagine how the die-hards feel today!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

10 Dimensions?!?

Holy crap.

Back to the Future with a Reel Mower


Treehugger had a great post about using a reel mower to cut your grass. I just bought one a month ago, and I love it. I'd recommend it to anyone.

People get a little freaked out by the thing. I think it's because they remember hauling out their dad's rusted out, impossible to use mowers and left them behind long ago.

The first time I took the mower out, a neighbor yelled out to me, "What is this, back to the future?"

There are a number of reasons to get yourself a push reel mower:

  1. It's quiet. This could be the biggest personal benefit of a reel mower. You can cut the grass and think at the same time.

  2. It doesn't take longer to cut the grass. Gas-powered machines require a little prep time and down time before a cut to check for fuel, oil level and cleanliness, and after a mow to clean out the cutting area (spark plugs detached, please!). A push reel can go as soon as you touch, but will take just slightly more time to cut the grass. Raking afterwards can take time, but you can solve that by getting a bag for your push reel. Yeah, they make them.

  3. It's cheaper. All you need is the push mower and a little WD-40 to keep things loose. Occasionally, you may want to sharpen the blades. Gas mowers use, um, gas, and I hear that can get pretty expensive these days. You also need to get tune ups and oil changes. And they cost more to buy out of the box.

  4. No pollution. Seriously, if you're considering getting a push mower, isn't that a big reason why?


But there are some issues to consider:


  1. It takes a little more physical effort to use. It's only slightly more work than pushing around a gas-powered mower, but it's still more work. It's the same as a hard walk or slight jog, and you can control the exertion by controlling your own speed and effort. I'm very much overweight and out of shape, and can definitely feel the burn, but it's not a deterrent at all.

  2. It doesn't cut the perfect lawn. If you're looking to model your lawn after the putting greens at Augusta, you're our of luck. Reel mowers, by their design, can't catch really tall blades of grass or weeds. It also leaves wider edging than a gas mower (maybe two to three inches total). You'll need to follow up on these errant strands with your weed whacker. If you do, buy a cordless model. Just as powerful as your gas-powered whacker, but not as heavy.

  3. Expect to rake. There are bags for reel mowers, but the word on the Interwebs is that these bags aren't so efficient. I still haven't gotten around to ordering one, opting instead to rake my lawn after a mow. The whole process takes me only an hour, compared to about 40 minutes to mow with a gas-powered mower. Had I a bag, there'd be no time difference.

  4. People are somehow threatened by push mowers. My mother and sister told me I was crazy for getting one. My next door neighbor offers me her gas-powered mower every time I go out. The guy across the street heckled me. You need to really stand strong in your convictions if you're gonna do this.

So go get a reel mower! It's quieter, it's free exercise, and it's better for the world, damn you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Um...

Either people have too much time on their hands, or the good people at the gummi factory should have thought this through a little better.



(from Consumerist via Buzzfeed)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert RIP



He was a hero of mine and will be greatly missed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What just happened?

Don't follow politics but wanna sound smart? Slate gets you up to date in eight minutes:

Science explained! Think of it as a creepy Euro party...

This is brilliant:

(h/t: Matt Yglesias)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Got an extra $1.4 billion you need to spend?

You can always do this:



Thankfully, both pilots ejected and were uninjured, according to Wired's Danger Room. Still, yeesh.

They're piling us like cord wood on the Blue Line


Globe Photo by Bill Greene


OK, so which is most retarded part of the Globe's Blue Line seat story?

1. The basis of the story is that "many passengers have found themselves alternately fidgeting and slipping since the T began introducing the cars in February." The support for that statement? Four people complaining during the reporter's ride-along with the unwashed masses of the North Shore.

2. Breathlessly reporting that a driver "conceded that many passengers are, in fact, slipping" with this graf:
"Some people do have that problem," he said with a laugh before zipping to the turnaround at the Wonderland stop.

3. The driver had to be quoted anonymously because of T policies that bar employees from talking to the press. This is a story of such urgency that we had to resort to anonymous sources. I sympathize. This is clearly the most explosive revelation in a major newspaper since the Pentagon Papers. Or last year's high-end stroller expose.

4. The scientific survey of pole gripping:

A ride on the new Blue Line cars this week revealed what appeared to be a higher percentage of seated passengers clutching the metal poles than on other lines.

Really. That's in the story. A page one story.

5. Ignoring a more relevant and interesting story revealed by riders and the T's spokesman: People are complaining, and the T is admitting, that people are falling over from hard stops on new equipment. Has anyone been injured? What about the equipment is so different that it causes hard braking? Will operator familiarity ease the problem, or is it an equipment failure?

Ah, but that's for another day. A reporter has to follow his gut, and this reporter's gut told him to feature the middle-aged lady whining about the seats because they have a great photo for it.

6. After heading out into the trains searching for piles of riders on the floor, the reporter waits until the 22nd graf to get the T's official number of complaints about the seats. We read for a screen-and-a-half before we're told there have been seven complaints about the seats in the last four months. Seven complaints. That's a little less than one every two weeks. I can see why we had to rush a reporter out onto the train.


Personally, I like the new cars and the new seats. When you walk into one of the car, you look at all the surfaces and realize a T worker could walk in and wash the entire interior with a garden hose. That makes me happy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama wins!

Andrew Sullivan has linked to this a couple of times, but he's right: It sums up how I feel perfectly:

Monday, June 02, 2008