December 27, 2007
Chasin' The Trane, VintageTV
I'm off this week, a stay-at-home holiday. Watching sublime stuff like this, from 1958, Miles Davis playing "So What." At about two minutes, Coltrane starts in. Those watching from the wings are so entranced that they almost stop smoking.
December 23, 2007
When Not To Fly Into Philly
The Avoid Delays web site confirms. The hour between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. is Philly's worst for late arrivals.
Using U.S. Department of Transportation data from October 2007, the site selects the 7 p.m. hour as the worst time of the day to fly into Philadelphia International Airport.
Philly's 7 - 8 p.m. record is so bad that its the fourth worst hourly arrival stat for ANY U.S. airport.
The good news: It was worse in Nov. 2006, when a 7 p.m. Philly arrival time was the worst time to arrive in the whole country.
Linked at Consumerist, where a commenter responds:
Too bad this wasn't posted yesterday. I am at the airport, delayed flying back home to Philadelphia. Wonderful.
December 22, 2007
Waking Up To The Chumby
Go ahead, click the snowfall. If only I could get this Chumby to work like this in the paper. The beauty of the blog ....
Here's Thursday's column:
Yesterday I woke up to the future. Its name is Chumby.
The Chumby turned on at 6:50 a.m. as electronica pulsed from the “Groove Salad” Internet radio station playing on my leather-bound bedside companion.
My one eye unburied in a pillow now focused on a slide show of family photos: the wife, the dog, the kids scrolling across the little screen.
Next came text. First up, headlines from Google News — Hillary’s “warm and fuzzy tour,” South Korea’s new president, earthquake in the Aleutians. Then, local local: the starts of stories and columns from the morning’s Inquirer and Daily News. By the time the weather scrolled across — a graphic showing the temperature and forecast — I was sitting up, rubbing my eyes, ready to watch the animated cars that demonstrated the volume of traffic on the Schuylkill.
When I finished with stocks and ESPN scores, the Chumby showed the time again: 7:03 a.m. The information junkie in me had just started the day with a spike to the brain.
The folks at Chumby Industries insist that their electronic bundle of joy is still in beta, which means it’s not officially launched and won’t be until early next year. You can still buy one at Chumby.com for $179.95, which I did two weeks ago, or rather my wife did for me, as a present.
Naturally she hasn’t paid it a bit of attention, other than asking “What the hell is that?” the time I mistakenly set the alarm on “Klaxon.”
Think of the Chumby as an Internet alarm clock with decent little speakers and a color screen that’s responsive to touch. You set up the device on a Web site, and let it go to work pulling in the latest feeds. It requires a wireless network.
The beauty of your Chumby is that it’s yours — you can program it, customize it, hack it. Users are invited to write their own applications, called ‘widgets,’ though this is way beyond my competence. Since the first batch of devices shipped in August, users have created about 3,000 widgets.
No, I don’t own stock in the company. Yes, I am a bit of a geek.
Some of the things the Chumby can do: summon more than 100 Internet radio stations, from WFMU to KRCW. Play your Mp3s or iPod. Show the PandaCam at the San Diego Zoo. Reveal the latest entries on the PostSecret site or any other blog you tell it about.
You can control the order and timing of programming, set different channels that let you wake up to news and information and wind down to satire and snark.
You might wonder just how hard this thing is to program. (Actually, if you’re like my editor, you wonder why you’d want all that information flying at you when you could be lounging in bed with a cup of tea.)
If you can customize a Yahoo page without calling a 13-year-old for help, you’re in business.
I’ve been tinkering with the Chumby for two weeks now, and although quite proud of myself, I do have a complaint. Not about it, about me.
The Chumby gives me a blast of the day’s info-bits in less than 15 minutes. My worry is that it will satisfy my information hunger, filling without nourishing. Only a few of the newspaper stories and blog posts allow me to scroll down and read beyond a summary.
Maybe this will change with demand - everything about the Chumby seems to. But right now, the Chumby is one of those irresistibly shiny things that seems a mile wide and an inch deep.
The day mine arrived, so did a package from my brother containing a collection of Preston Sturges DVDs and The Best American Essays of the Century collection. Instead of reading the essays, I’ve been drawn to the Urban Word of the Day, Stuff on My Mutt and YouTube videos, transfixed by the endlessly new, and turned off by the timeless.
If the novelty doesn't fade, I’m afraid that my cuddly Chumby is going to be crushed by the growing tower of books that wait for me by my bed.
You can contact Daniel Rubin at 215-854-5917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 06, 2007
Now THAT'S Disgusting
Maybe you read today's column about the Neti Pot and wondered, 'just what was that video like?'
December 04, 2007
A Good Chanukah Ham
Courtesy of The Consumerist, whose shooter found this at a Balducci's market in Washington, D.C. and files this under the Dept. of Monumental Cluelessness, Well-Meaning Division.
(Spotted by Gail Shister)
December 02, 2007
"The Curse of Billy Penn" - A Song of Suffering
Not sure how a singer-software engineer from Flatwoods, Ky., could understand our suffering so well, but Ryan Parker posted a painful Philly sports ditty on his blog last night, exactly 12 hours before A.J. Feeley found Seattle's Lofa Tatupu for the first time.
Parker calls his song and accompanying video, "The Curse of Billy Penn."
The old Quaker, famously offended because developers were allowed to build buildings taller than he stands on City Hall, is the one who sucked the life out of D-Mac during his end-of-Super Bowl reverse peristalsis, according to Parker's reading. Yes, closer inspection reveals a quill from Billy's pen stuck to Joe Carter's fateful bat.
Thanks to the curse I don't know what's worse,
A team that never has hope,
Or a team that believes only to leave,
The Philly fans trying to cope,
Since they have suffered it's gotten much tougher,
To ever expect them to win,
It makes a fan wonder how long they'll be under,
The curse of Billy Penn ...
Looks like Parker floats these around the country, wherever fans are happy, or in this case, hurting.
By email, he said this today:
I know suffering as well being a Cincinnati sports fan...just not the four-sport variety! I've been writing these sports-related songs for a couple of years now and had received a lot of requests to cover the situation in Philadelphia. I looked into it and found out about the "curse" and thought it made for a good angle on the topic.