Blogger, You Disappoint Me

One thing I like about hosting this blog on Blogger is that I don't have to upgrade, and I get new features all the time.

Of course, the bad thing is that I am at the mercy of Blogger, who has decided to shrink the space for my banner image at the top of the page.

Damn you Blogger!

I Know About Bad Bosses

So the chief of police, Thomas Streicher Jr., has come under fire for not spending around $2 million or so of money city council gave him for the explicit purpose of providing high-visibility walking patrols to high-crime neighborhoods in the city. There are two issues here that interest me.

One, the conservative in me has always had a real problem with budget-based organizations, such as government and most non-profits. The primary motivation for businesses, make money or close, is not there. Operating income for non-profits will always be there, every year, mostly regardless of performance, as long as flaws are not egregious, and/or they stay on top of their grant-writing. It's just different. And just like in the movie Falling Down, I believe that there are cases where departments find ways to spend their budgets just so that their budgets are not reduced the following time around.

So when the chief of police saves $2 million dollars and offers to return it, something has gone haywire. Is this incredibly awesome, showing that budget-based groups can save money? Or is this wrong, showing that the public has not received services it has paid for? In this case, when the money was specifically allocated for walking patrols, and there was none (which is different from having walking patrols, but they were cheaper than first thought), I lean towards the latter.

Two, the chief of police has come under fire in the media time and time again. While the media is not gospel, something is fishy. He has browbeat federal monitors, resisted federal rulings, and yelled and thrown tirades at civilians in an office setting. That's just the off the top of my head. These do no good for the image of our city's safety and community relations, which is what I'm most concerned with. Then I read the CityBeat article which quoted from the expert study:

"Among its findings, the study stated the police department is “overwhelmed and defensive,” while its operating culture was described as a “systematically defensive posture hamstringing operations and affecting all basic systems.”

Perhaps more important, it stated that rank-and-file officers felt ignored and treated unfairly by department leadership. It found that there was major mistrust of supervisors by officers, with only 28.1 percent believing that discipline within the department was fair and uniform and that most police officers — 64 percent — said their supervisors are more concerned with being obeyed than understood."

I've been in that environment before, and such an environment is poison. When leadership is neither respected nor trusted, a group will waste money, time, and health and not quickly achieve any purpose which provides reason for that group to exist.

No matter how the $2 million should have been used, if that report is true, it is damning.

The Problem With Main St.

Reports are in that Vinyl (formerly The Diner, formerly The Diner, formerly something else) has closed indefinitely. And that the opening by the same owners of Vinyl of Jardin Wine & Tapas Bar in the former Neon's spot does not look promising.

The opening of a sushi bar/restaurant/lounge/thingy in the former Jump space still looks to be on track. That with the openings of Cue and Speakeasy in the former RBC and Japp's spaces make this turn out to be... a wash?

And, hey, there's always The Exchange, which now looks like the Main St. veteran (not counting Kaldi's which will probably be there until armageddon).

Bars opening, closing, re-opening. They've been trying to re-create the Main St. Entertainment heyday of the late 1990's for 8 years now. But I believe that it's fruitless. Neighborhoods evolve, especially the ones in OTR. Main St. had its day as an entertainment stop, now why not let it have a chance at being a real neighborhood? Or an arts district? The entertainment is moving downtown to the CBD where frankly I believe it belongs. Let OTR be a residential area, and let the Central Business Disctrict have the businesses.

One block over on Vine in The "Q" (worst name for a "district"), space is being flooded with retail and residential (with significant corporate backing of course). This is Main Street's chance to open a video store, a real grocery store, more neighborhood restaurants like Courtyard Cafe to go along with the theaters.

Again, I have no problem with a bar district in OTR. I just think the time is right for something else.

And Then There Were Idiots

Allow me to chime in on the recent "scandal" involving the Lakota East high school performance of "And Then There Were None" a.k.a. "Ten Little Indians" a.k.a. "Ten Little N------" (I do believe some words shouldn't be used).

GravatarIf any of you have been involved with high school theater at all, you know that these kids have put in months of work into this show. That is I believe the single most important factor in all of this. And to have all that work nearly thrown away?

And for what? To please one man who apparently likes to hear himself talk. Shame on Mr. Hines for even bringing this up. Though he may have a legitimate issue, this is hardly the arena for raising it.

Shame on the school administration. This makes them look like they are afraid of their own shadow. This should be a total non-issue. If they want to offend someone, there are more interesting ways to do it.

I can empathize with Mr. Hines, since I don't know anything about his background or experiences. Some people say that there are no black people or white people or yellow people - there are only people. I believe that those people are mistaken. Race should not be ignored, because it is an integral part of who we are. It affects our culture, our behavior, our speech, our very looks. Why ignore it?

By the same token, we cannot underestimate what it is like to live in a minority culture in this country, or any country. Majority/minority issues disrupt the playing field. One type of outcome for the majority and minority person might appear identical, but rest assured it was far more difficult for the minority to accomplish. Outcomes of another type may be easier for minorities to accomplish.

I didn't mean for this to turn out to be a race manifesto. To Mr. Hines, awareness is necessary, but not at the expense of a high school play.

Holiday Spectacle 2007

Our holiday party was this weekend. Not as high a turnout as the last one, but it seemed like there was more... participation, and definitely the most food eaten. So much for leftovers!

Setting up...

The "punch table."

Some meat on a stick.

General merriment.
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Here Comes Another Bubble

This video about the Web 2.0 bubble has been making the rounds. Since Cincinnati is 20 years behind the times, at work we still have time if there is a Web 2.0 bubble.

Ok, I Get It - Ruby Is Lightweight

Lightweight, simple, elegant, beautiful. Okay, I get it, rubyists. Your stuff is lightweight. I am all for lightweight - ohhhh, believe me I'm for it - but do you have to be so obnoxious about it? It seems that everything written in, associated with, or that requires Ruby all use the same words.

But just saying something is lightweight does not make it so. And those that make something lightweight must be careful not to make it so lightweight that it's useless. (BTW, as easy-to-use as Rails claims to be, I've seen some pretty fucked up configurations involving Mongrel, mod_proxy, Pound and who the hell knows what else. And this is supposed to be easier than mod_php?)

I probably shouldn't be saying these things, as I'm not familiar with the Ruby world. But it's just something I noticed after seeing Ruby solution after Ruby solution pop up.

Most times I've adopted a technology or application, it's because of a clearly-defined need. As many times as I've tried to pick up Ruby, I just haven't found a reason to yet.

Read My Blog! Make Yourself Smarter!

I usually wouldn't put these little badge things on my blog, but I couldn't resist this one.

cash advance

Statistics 101

The latest crime rankings making the rounds ("City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America", published by CQ Press), that ranks Cincinnati as the 16th most dangerous city in the nation, is so statistically unsound, they might as well have placed all the cities in a hat and drawn names to get the rankings. The AP article already mentions two flaws, and I'll add another one:

  1. Different states define different crimes in different ways. So right there your data point is inconsistent.
  2. The study assigned a crime rate score to each city with zero representing the national average, but the study excluded Chicago, Minneapolis, and other Illinois and Minnesota cities. What kind of average is that? That's like finding the average income in America and leaving Bill Gates out (which by the way is why median is usually more useful).
  3. The FBI crime data the study uses is based on per-capita crime. But in metro cities that have annexed surrounding suburbs such as Indianapolis, Columbus, and Louisville, the per-capita crime rate will always be lower than cities like Cincinnati.
I couldn't agree more with the FBI response on the findings: "Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents."

Cincinnati takes another hit.

I Love/Hate Chris Henry

Busy weekend! Sarah and I got tickets to the Bengals vs. Cardinals game from Mike. They outplayed the Cardinals, but with two interceptions returned for touchdowns, it's hard to win. Chris Henry hauled in a 30-some yard TD pass today, but he has got to be the pansiest receiver in the NFL. Whenever he feels like he's going to get hit, he drops the ball. He killed two drives today by dropping two balls that hit his hands. One was over the middle. One was on the sideline, but his back was upfield and he felt the DB coming before catching the ball.

And my stitched panorama didn't turn out so well in the cloudy weather.

Urban Planning 101

On the way back to my car, I snapped this picture standing in-between 2nd and 3rd Sts.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I just love how the neighborhood around the ballpark has taken off ever since they decided to build it on the river. So many lively bars and restaurants.

Of course, by "neighborhood" I mean "12 lanes of highway," and by "lively bars and restaurants" I mean "homeless living underneath the bridges." But whatever.

Joe Nuxhall R.I.P.

When I heard the news about Joe Nuxhall on Friday morning, I cringed a bit, and felt a wave of sadness pass through me. I went down to the ballpark - not sure why - maybe for no other reason than because it was a clear morning.

News crews were already down there doing location spots.

On Saturday afternoon, Sarah and I went for a walk and ended up back at the ballpark. By that time, the memorial had grown.

At some point, this guy from 700WLW with a handheld DVR asked me a few questions. You can see more of my salient thoughts on the video here.

Rest in peace, ol' lefthander.

Another Shot From The Deck...

OOH, I can make one of these every day and then after a year form them together to make a MOVIE...!

What I Do All Day And All Night Long

So here's what I'm working on at work:

  1. Process improvements
    1. Upgrading our version control system
    2. Upgrading our bug tracking system
  2. New project architecture
    1. General framework
    2. Business layer
    3. Web layer
    4. Testing
    5. DB/persistence
    6. Validation
    7. Authentication/authorization
    8. Logging
    9. Caching
  3. End-to-end performance improvements, starting with:
    1. Your browser
    2. To our machines
    3. To the web server
    4. To the code or static files
    5. To the database
    6. To the data
  4. System administration
    1. Upgrades
    2. Patches
  5. Urgent bug fixes as they arise
I'm just sayin'...

Michael Flannery

So Michael Flannery, whom you may vaguely remember from his kids show on Fox, has won a seat on the CPS school board. In fact, he was the top vote-getter. In fact, he earned more votes than any of the city council members. One day, I might be voting for him for mayor!

"I've been in front of boards and organizations. These people are going, 'Why are you running?' And my question is, 'Why aren't you?' These people complain about the school board: 'They're not being fiscally responsible, and look at all this money.' What partner of an accounting firm has stepped up to run for school board? Nobody. They say it's being mismanaged. What executive or CEO has stepped up to run for school board? Zero. So you get a kids' show host. I have no qualifications except I'm a parent. I care about Cincinnati, I care about the kids. I want someone in there who's looking out for the kids. That's what I'm qualified for."

But he said he's still amazed that people are questioning his ability to do the job.

"It's an unpaid position that nobody wants," he said, "and they're questioning my qualifications?"

Electronic Voting

I am not into the voter disenfranchisement thing. If you want to vote in this country, if you really want to vote, then no one can stop you from voting. I don't care if you don't have a car, move every week, work from 6 am to 10 pm every day, no one can stop you from voting. There are absentee ballots. There are provisional ballots. Polls open before most job shifts start and close after most end. Precincts should not be more than a few miles from your home (less if you are in the city). The only way to make voting easier if they brought the ballot to your doorstep and let you vote while they waited outside. If you are unwilling to take the trouble to vote, then sure you may find obstacles. If you are too stupid to figure out how to vote, then maybe you shouldn't be voting anyway.

That said, why can nobody in this country Gravatar install a reliable, electronic voting system?

Think about every time you use your credit or debit card. You swipe it in the little tiny machine, electronic records across the country are updated, and you get a paper receipt, all within a few seconds, the same way, every time.

Probably because credit card companies are highly motivated to maintain such a network. Probably the same reason we're still driving cars on gasoline in this country.

Jailhouse Not

The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates of industrialized nations in the world. Hamilton County has one of the highest incarceration rates in Ohio. Clearly, the solution to these problems is to build more jails. Not.

Let's ignore the fact that the 15-year tax would raise $736 million in tax revenue, one of the largest single increases in funding for county government programs. Let's ignore the fact that the estimated amount for direct construction of the new 1800-bed jail is $239,428,594, which is over $133,000 per bed, or more than the $128,300 median price of a home in the county.

Assuming that those ridiculous amounts of money would be okay if there in fact was a jail problem, the question remains: is there a jail problem?

In 1999, 37 percent of the county's jail population were not serving out sentences. They were awaiting trial. In 2006, that same figure rose to 81 percent. Currently, people who are ultimately acquitted spend twice as many days in jail as those who are ultimately found guilty. 70 percent of inmates are repeat visitors. Isn't prison supposed to be rehabilitative? Hamilton County does not offer specialty courts such as a drug court, domestic violence court, or night court to improve efficiency.

The county is losing population, yet the county needs more jails? Something doesn't add up. I think I'll vote no on the jail tax, and you should too.

See here for more information.

Stupid Bengals

In 2005-2006, when the Bengals won their division and went to the playoffs, many fans including myself thought that it was the start of something great. Apparently, that's all we get.

So every 15 years, we get 1 playoff game. Perfect. Who dey!

When The Levy Breaks

When I married Sarah, hidden in the vows was the clause that I am to vote yes for public school levies for the rest of my life. I could live with that, despite my Libertarian-ish ways.

Despite being bothered by the fact that only a government institution could abruptly find itself $72 million in debt. Despite the fact that only government budgets must separate capital funds from operational funds, leading to a ridiculous situation where teachers and staff are cut while nearly $1 billion is spent on building new schools. Despite the fact that these levies continue to feed into a public school funding formula that has been declared unconstitutional multiple times by the Ohio Supreme Court (SCOO?). Despite the fact that the teachers unions allow the youngest, cheapest, most energetic teachers to be cut first, while the teachers who have taught the longest are allowed to do and change the least while being paid the most.

Despite all these things, I support the upcoming CPS levy. And you should too. Because they haven't asked for a new operating levy in 7 years. Because these teachers work in extraordinary - no - super-ultra-extraordinary environments. Where they are required to do more and more with less and less. Get to school at 7 am. Use one hour to plan 6 hours of talking. No bathroom breaks. A half-hour for lunch, maybe, if you don't eat while grading. No office supplies. No assistants. No climate control. Advanced education requirements with no advanced salary. Kids who misbehave. Kids who are behind. When you get home, maybe you can grade some more. At least you get summers off.

And that was all before No Child Left Behind. You see, in the past few decades, kids who were behind, or were severe behavior problems, were either casually advanced or forgotten about altogether. But NCLB is literal in its name and its intent. But that last 10%-20% of kids who never graduated high school and weren't thought of again, it takes a lot more than 10%-20% of extra effort to get them to meet ever-rising federal standards. A lot more.

So now, on top of all the problems with education that were already there, now teachers have to participate in counseling, intervention, special education, and behavior plans. More counselors. More psychologists. More aides. More specialists. And where does the money to pay all these people come from?

No where at the moment. But the levy, our disproportionate property tax unconstitutionally funded levy, will help.

Vanilla Sky (Or Pink Lemonade Perhaps...)

The sky looked funny this afternoon from outside the office.

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Streetcar Drivers Wanted

The reality of streetcars in Cincinnati is closer than it ever has been before. I've seen more criticism of the plan than support so far, and I can understand it. $102 million is a lot of money to pay for a streetcar system, and I still won't be able to get from UC to downtown. $102 million is a lot of money when the Banks are still not developed, CPS thinks it needs a levy (which it does), and the county thinks it needs a new jail (which it doesn't).

But I support this plan and you should too. Many people who criticize the plan say they are in favor of it ultimately, but it's not the right time when there are so many other needs. I say that, like most things in life, there is never a good time. And so many things that don't get done in this town is based on lack of political will, and this may be the only time there is political will for this project for a long time. If the political will is there, let's get it done, details be damned. We can add the route to UC later.

War On...?

Not much time today. Off to Bowling Green this afternoon, back tomorrow.

From AlterNet (a bleeding heart blog, but I happen to agree on this one):

What would you buy if you had an extra $42 billion to spend every year? What might our government buy if it suddenly had that much money dropped onto its lap every year?

For one thing, it might pay for the entire $7 billion annual increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program that President Bush is threatening to veto because of its cost -- and there'd still be $35 billion left over.

Or perhaps you'd hire 880,000 schoolteachers at the average U.S. teacher salary of $47,602 per year.

Or give every one of our current teachers a 30 percent raise (at a cost of $15 billion, according to the American Federation of Teachers) and use what's left to take a $27 billion whack out of the federal deficit.

Or use all $42 billion for a massive tax cut that would put an extra $140 in the pockets of every person in the country -- $560 for a family of four.

The mind reels at the ways such a massive sum of money could be put to use.

Why $42 billion? Because that's what our current marijuana laws cost American taxpayers each year.
Read more. This November, avoid voting for City Council members who support last year's ridiculous marijuana ordinance.

How To Save Cincinnati

Okay, I don't know how to save Cincinnati. I did try to compose something more coherent, but after wasting a lot of time just staring, I think I'll just try a list.

1) John Fox's editorial in last week's Citybeat caught my eye. In it, he wonders why the corporate powers-that-be have never sought to sponsor Midpoint Music Festival but fall all over themselves to get behind the Bengals, when arguably MPMF in many ways is a more important event for the city than the Bengals have ever been in recent times, despite their success. He referred to an old CityBeat article on the Creative Class with this quote: "And here's the kicker -- there isn't a density of high-tech workers in a place without a thriving music scene."

2) Why do people move to a city? Jobs? Culture? Friends? Family? Reputation? There are people who move to California because they love to tell people that they live in California. There are people who move to New York City for the same reason. But there are people who move to California because they love the weather. There are people who move to New York because they love walking to the store and riding the bus and taking the subway to see a play and so on. There are people from Cincinnati who think Cincinnati is nothing, and move to Chicago. There are people from Grayson County, KY, who think Grayson County is nothing, and move to Cincinnati to live in a great city. I don't know of anyone who moved to, say, St. Louis because they didn't like it in Cincinnati.

3) I read this article a long time ago about how to be Silicon Valley. He claims that the two main requirements to duplicate the Valley are nerds and rich people. Pittsburgh has lots of nerds, but no rich people. Hence you don't hear about the next Google coming from the Steel City. The same applies to Miami, which has lots of rich people, but no nerds. In considering things like personality, creativity, and youthfulness of a city, I like the following passage:

...Most good startup ideas seem a little crazy; if they were obviously good ideas, someone would have done them already.

That's the connection between technology and liberalism. Without exception the high-tech cities in the US are also the most liberal. But it's not because liberals are smarter that this is so. It's because liberal cities tolerate odd ideas, and smart people by definition have odd ideas.

Conversely, a town that gets praised for being "solid" or representing "traditional values" may be a fine place to live, but it's never going to succeed as a startup hub.
Does that last paragraph sound familiar? Does it sounds like a description that has ever been applied to Cincinnati?

4) If Zipscene is successful, it will have been in the face of the extraordinary limitations of where Zipscene started. Namely, Cincinnati. I love this town, but this is no place to start a internet-type startup along the lines of Google, or Facebook. One of the reasons I joined Zipscene was the idea of being a part of the first real consumer internet success in this city. I cannot think of anything else that comes close. (That's not true. would probably have been successful back in the 90's were it not acquired by eBay early on. There's also and (before it was acquired by Intelliseek) with varying degrees of success, but have you heard of them?)

5) Now, I love this town. But Larry Gross is right in this week's CityBeat when he says, "We have some very nice people here, but there is a tenseness -- some kind of a vibe that covers this city." I know this vibe. I've emanated it myself, I'm sure. It's the same vibe as, "Ohmigod, you're a stranger, can't talk to you." In Cincinnati, family is important. So is working hard, shutting up, and doing what you're supposed to do. It's why clubs like Club Clau and Bang get so much guff. It's why people take comfort in things that have been the same and familiar for so long, and why people get upset when the Fountain gets moved 30 ft. to the north. It's why the most successful businesses here are still in manufacturing, consumer goods, and insurance, despite the best efforts of Pill Hill and the likes of Zipscene. It's why the man with the most hits in baseball, who for 20 years worked hard, shut up, and did what he was supposed to do, can do no wrong in this city. This is why Cincinnati loves Pete Rose, and always will.

Why I Love Where I Live

Not to be an urban snob, but I love where I live. Here are some reasons why.

View Larger Map

And downtown is right down the hill. I know there are other places like this. Clifton on Ludlow. Probably some areas in Hyde Park. Even Short Vine, when you think about it. Now if only they'd build a Target nearby.

Cincinnati 28, Rutgers 23

Just got done watching yesterday's UC-Rutgers game on TiVo. Well, most of it. For live sporting events, I always, always record an hour past the end time. Except for when I only record half-an-hour past the end time. Like this time. Dammit. I missed the last 8 minutes of the game, but I saw the high points.

Full speed ahead, bandwagon driver! GO CATS!

Alas, Poor Wendy's

The Wendy's on Gilbert Ave. recently burned down.

Alas, poor Wendy's. I knew thee well. I can't even begin to think of how to replace you. There's the McDonald's on Victory, but eating McDonald's always makes me feel guilty. There's the Skyline, and I do love Skyline, almost as much as you, but a little Skyline goes a long way, and I usually pay for it later.

But I could eat you every day for some reason. Probably because you are healthier.

You had the best drive-thru service in Walnut Hills. It was open 'til midnight every night! Even though sometimes I swear your employees turned off all the lights and ignored the drive-thru at 11:45. But that was okay, I understood.

And you had the best dollar menu anywhere. I usually got two Jr. Cheese Deluxes and small fries. All off the dollar menu, all for $3! Awesome! Just like in college. And, on top of all this, I can't count the number of times Sarah and I hit the drive-thru to treat ourselves after a long day. "Two large Frosty's please. Chocolate," I would say. I tried a Blizzard at McDonald's, but it's not even close.

I'll see you again some day. You'll be back, bigger and better than before! I just know it! Maybe, not in the same place, but I'll see you again. Because true love is meant to last. And I am a lazy cook. R.I.P.

Fond Memories Of City Council Election Time

This week's issue of Citybeat covers the upcoming city council election. There are 25 candidates total, including nine incumbents and three former council members. That's a lot of candidates.

But not nearly as many as the 31 who vied for a spot two years ago. At the time, The Cincinnati Dealer was alive and kickin' and I put together this City Council ballot.

Click to enlarge and print!

It tooks me a while to lay it out, and so it remains one of my most favorite creations. I even got some comments from a few candidates! Though they responded primarily because I got their names wrong. No city council ballot this year - but it's like 75% the same people, so you could probably re-use it for bingo.

Take Me Out

So I may have exaggerated my big news earlier. The news isn't that big, at least, not until it pans out. And I don't know how long it will take to pan out, if at all. But to the point: I auditioned for a play!

Last weekend, Sarah and I saw the second running of Songs From An Unmade Bed at the New Stage Collective on Main St. A couple days later, I received an email from the a lady there asking me if I wanted to audition for their upcoming production of Take Me Out. I replied and said, "sure, why not?" and warned her that I had not been onstage since the 10th grade when I played Drunkard #3 in the sophomore production of Beauty and the Beast. That was in 1992.

So I did not even know what I was to do at an audition. Apparently, all I needed was a 1-minute monologue. Thank god for the internet. I settled on this scene from the movie Beautiful Girls:

Supermodels are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a beautiful girl. In her smile, in her soul, the way she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay. The supermodels, Willy? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope dancing in stiletto heels.
I didn't start getting anxious until Sunday afternoon. I hadn't had time to get anxious - or practice - thanks to LinuxFest. It went about as well as it could have, I suppose. At least they didn't ask for references.

At the end, I hightailed it on out of there. I guess they'll call me back if they're interested. For now, I'm trying to push it out of my head. I've got some systems monitoring to do.

I See A Pattern Here

Sarah is a Walnut Hills alumna (how could I forget), so my eye notices things about WHHS. So, I ended up reading this story about the head football coach resigning, in the midst of a 30-game losing streak.

You have to read to the end to get to the funny part:

Walnut Hills' 30-game football losing streak marked the area's longest since Amelia also lost 30 straight, a streak that ended in October 2005. Amelia broke its streak by beating Walnut Hills 12-0 in the final game of the 2005 season.
But wait, there's more!
Entering Friday, Walnut Hills had not won a varsity football game in more than three years. The Eagles' last win was 35-0 over Amelia on Sept. 17, 2004, the fourth week of the '04 season.
Amelia is on the schedule on October 12. Go Eagles!

Twitter Sucks, Somewhat

After using Twitter for a couple weeks or so, I like the service and the idea well enough. But the site itself is pissing me off.


Tales of performance woes and downtime on Twitter have not been greatly exaggerated. I had heard of these problems before, but now I get to experience them firsthand. About a quarter of the time I click on anything, the site just hangs, or the little Ajax progress indicator swirly-thing in the corner of the page just spins and spins and spins.


Another quarter of the time I click on anything, I get an error message, or the request returns, but without having effected the intended result. As a result, my home page is littered with twitters from some spammo turd and I can't seem to unfollow him, and there are people I would like to follow, but can't. At least I think I can't - sometimes I get their updates. But I guess getting an error or incorrect results is better than waiting indefinitely for no results.


They really need to clarify some of the flows through the whole system. If I log on to IM and message OFF, does my phone get messages? What if I message ON to IM, then go to my home page, and click Send To Phone (assuming it works)? The documentation on the site is mediocre. But I can't say much there because nobody likes documentation.

In Conclusion

Twitter was the first large-scale, super-popular, consumer internet site built with Ruby on Rails. There has been much debate on the merits of that decision. Now, there are other successful Rails sites out there, including the 37signals folks, and Zvents. But I wonder how wide their audience is and/or how much traffic they get. (And there a lot of newsy, CMS-type sites, but simply publishing articles doesn't really turn me on.)

Personally, I'm not impressed with Rails when I consider Twitter. I don't know if it's the language, or their developers, but neither speaks well for Rails. Of course, I say that having coded exactly one Rails app in my life. These days, I can make PHP do anything for me (of course, it wasn't easy getting here).

Captcha Cincinnati

So yesterday I signed up for Capture Cincinnati, a collaboration between CiNWeekly, C-Change, and Pediment Books. The concept is simple: the public uploads photos, the public votes on photos, the best photos are made into a book and DVD. My questions is: who made the website?

Because I think it's a great website. Love the design, love the look-and-feel, love the navigation. It's intuitive and responsive. Very web 2.0, dare I say. But from the links at the bottom I can't figure out who built it. It differs so much from the other Gannett properties - not to mention that it's just better than other Gannett websites - that it couldn't be Gannett. I don't know much about C-Change, but it didn't sound like they built it. I don't know anything about the publisher, but they didn't claim it either. I'm just curious.

By the way, vote for my photos!

Progressive Cincinnati

The topic in Sunday's Forum was the Independent Living program run by Lighthouse Youth Services and Hamilton County. In a nutshell, the program places 17-yr-old foster kids in their own apartment. They are given some financial support, but other than that must operate pretty much on their own. They must hold down a part-time job, manage their income, their rent, their laundry, their meals, and all the while finish their (ideally) last year of high school.

It's a great program, especially when you consider most foster kids, upon turning 18, are "handed bus fare and their belongings in plastic garbage bags, sometimes being chauffeured to the nearest Salvation Army shelter." I know 18 is considered adult in our society, but how many 18-yr-olds do you know who can suddenly live on their own with no family?

I'd heard about Independent Living before from Sarah, who sees some of her kids enter foster care under Lighthouse, and from CityBeat. But this is what I never knew: the Lighthouse Independent Living program started right here in Cincinnati and is now considered a best-practices model being implemented all across the country.

Who knew Cincinnati was so progressive?

Meeting People In My Neighborhood

Sarah and I get two parking spots for our townhouse. One spot is directly in front of our unit. The other spot is in the parking lot past the other end of our row and at the bottom of the hill. I give her the spot in front because I figure she has to be at work at a certain time and I don't.

So every day I get home from work, and I have to walk up the hill, past all of our neighbors.

But I don't mind. This way, I get to talk to some of our neighbors on the way home. I figure I know about half the people in the complex. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, after a long day, I sprint up the hill, muttering, "Please, please, let nobody talk to me." But usually I like it. It really is one of the qualities of living in the city. Sometimes, you just can't avoid your neighbor. Another quality is that parking will be a pain in the ass. In this case, the two qualities are intertwined.

So there's that and also, most days, the walk is the only way to keep my legs from atrophying after sitting at my desk all day long.


For god's sake, more coverage of Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby? As if two weeks of unrelenting stories and video of her police interview and video of her dropping off doughnuts moments before Cecilia's death weren't enough, now we have exclusive photos of... the inside of her car.

At least the print edition doesn't have the the same photo front and center, like it did recently with a vidcap from her police interview.

Not to say I haven't read each and every one of those articles (I did not watch the videos!).

Because the Enquirer is right about one thing: the story provokes, I believe, some interesting opinions on topics ranging from equality in our justice system across race and class, to the frenetic lives many middle-to-upper class Americans are leading right now.

In a society that is moving faster and faster, observe: a 40-yr-old mother with a 2-yr old and a 5-yr old, an assistant principal, earning $70-$80k/yr. Put another way, a career woman holding off children like many career women these days, doing well for herself compared to most women, her daughter's not-too-common name, and her own hyphenated surname. From her interview today, she had tried to do be everything to everybody, a super mom and a super administrator.

Let me point out some other things. Admittedly, I am biased because I hear about some nightmares in education every day. Nesselroad-Slaby was at the bakery by 6:30 am, at work by 7 am for her 7:15 am school-openeing meeting that was to last 8 hours. The woman was up by 6 am at the latest. I know that there are millions of career mothers who have never left their children in their cars. But all it takes is one time. And how many of them consistently wake up before 6 am every morning?

Some months ago, a poor, young, single African mother was arrested for locking her two children in the closet while she went to work. Her children were taken away. The children were fine save some bruises, hungry - I think they had pissed themselves or something. Apparently, she had done it many times before. This mother was single and poor. No father to watch the kids. No money for daycare or a babysitter. No father to earn extra money. Have to have a job. America is worst in the world when it comes to policies for working mothers. What was she supposed to do? Now she has a criminal record. Her young children will grow up in foster care for quite some time probably. Any chances her son/daughter will contribute to a single parent family himself/herself?

The mother who accidentally forgot her 2-yr-old daughter in her car deserves no charges and no jail time. Honestly, I don't believe the poor, African mother deserved any either. In the single mother's case, of course she made a (bad) choice to leave her children at home, when she should have sought help from either friends or from government programs that are available. But if she didn't have any friends, and these programs are not ideal or she didn't even know about them, then it doesn't leave many options. I'm not sure what the solution would have been for her case, but locking her up and taking away her kids certainly does not get at the root causes.

Not Quite A Cubicle

So Zipscene just moved offices. Our new place is pretty sweet. Here is a picture of my desk.

I guess one of the perks of working an unconventional job is you get to work in an unconventional office.

Blogging... Microblogging... Nanoblogging?

I just signed up for a Twitter account. In the way that blogging has become a way to keep your audience informed of your whatever via short (paragraph scale), somewhat frequent posts on a web page, Twitter, and now also, Jaiku and Pownce, present microblogging (did I see that somewhere, or did I make that up?), a way to to keep your audience informed of your whatever via very short (sentence scale), very frequent (multiple times per day) updates, ideally over SMS.

So what's next, you may ask? How do you make this more real-time? And is this crap really necessary? If there is something that is next, you better start building it.