Month: February 2009

Movie: The International

I saw The International and was pleasantly surprised. The movie is about an Interpol agent trying to expose a bank’s role in an international arms dealing ring. It’s a bunch of people chasing each other. The U.S. DOJ is tracking down the Interpol agent. The Interpol agent is chasing the bankers. The NYPD team up with the Interpol agent and the DOJ at one point. The bankers are speaking with an African General, then later with a Middle East arms dealer. There’s also an Italian politician and an assassin involved.

What the movie lacked in substance, it more than made up for with its numerous sub-plots that came together as one. Despite the fact that the acting was suspect and the plot unbelievable, the movie submerged me in the plot quickly, and kept me interested throughout with action and pace.

My Information Experiment

A few years ago I heard that the most informed people were those who regularly watch the evening news – local and national. This came as a surprise to me, a guy thoroughly overwhelmed by hundreds of minute-by-minute RSS feed updates. I thought that I was surely the most up-to-date fellow around. But, I’ve never been able to get a solid grasp of “real” world news from online sources. Either I get overwhelmed by the amount of information or I get distracted by geek news and pictures.

So, two years after first learning that despite being highly tech savvy I was among the less-informed, I am going to undertake an experiment and get my news from three different sources each of three months.

March: I will read one local and one national newspapers daily for one month. I will do my best to avoid both online and television news.

April: I will watch the local and national news daily, avoiding newspapers and online news.

May: I will read online news (sources TBD), avoiding tv news and newspapers.

My prediction is that if I can make/find the time to read the newspapers, I’ll be most informed during March. Least informed in May.

I’ll post my thoughts at the end of each month and a conclusion in June.

The iPhone: This Generation’s Polaroid Camera

Mobile phone photography is instant and everywhere, easily shared, often quirky, and always of suspect quality. Sounds a lot like many of the Polaroid photographs I’ve seen. Even better is that I don’t have to buy film or pay for processing when taking pictures with my iPhone.

I frequently use my iPhone to capture discrete and fleeting moments that would, otherwise, be awkward to photograph with my DSLR or even a point-and-shoot. Often my hand shakes. The lighting is never perfect – usually too dark. Sometimes the iPhone camera quirks and produces a fractured or smudged photo. You would think these imperfections would detract from the photos, but when I view my mobile photos collectively with a macro-mindset their unparalleled character comes into focus.

Spontaneous. Fun. Unpredictable. Click here to see my iPhone photographs.

Tiger Returns

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour today and tees off at 2:02p. I have been looking forward to his return for months. The PGA Tour is just not the same without him – either because he draws interest or people just want to be interested in him.

From what I’ve seen and heard on the Golf Chanel and ESPN, it looks like he’s ready. The commentators are professing that they’ll be surprised if Woods doesn’t win. I feel the same way. Last time he took a break to fix the knee, he won… The 2008 U.S. Open! A couple years before that, when he took time to drain the knee, he returned and won at Torrey Pines.

The choice to return in a match play tournament was a wise one. Match play is a different beast than stroke play. Unlike stroke play, match play allows you to have a bad hole and not have to dig your way out of it stroke by stroke. If Tiger is at all inconsistent, he’ll appreciate the chance to throw away a few holes. Further, unlike stroke play, match play is more emotional. Tiger can better scrap out a win against a feisty opponent. Finally, if Woods is ousted early he’ll be disappointed, but no to the degree of a missed cut.

There’s a lot to watch for today at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. And when it’s done we’ll still get to look forward to Tiger’s stroke play debut. Bam. Bam. Boom!

My bracket for this tournament.

I am here because…

In working on a cover letter it dawned on me that there is much more to who I am, where I am, and how I’ve arrived at this stage of my life than my academic and vocational accomplishments. The formality of a cover letter – especially one targeted to lawyers conducting serious business at prestigious firms – is constricting. Thankfully, my blog is none of those things! So, what I have to say follows.

I was born in the cherry capital of the world to the two greatest parents in the universe. I am here because I watched hours of Voltron and Thundercats, experienced the creative wonders of Disney World at an early age, and learned hockey stickhandling from Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe. I am here because I spent every spare second from my 9th birthday through the beginning of college consumed by the sport of golf, which taught me the value of patience, brutal honesty, and friendship. I am who I am because of the many wonderful people who have been kind enough to say hello to me when I was too shy to say hello to them and because of the few great friends I’ve had over the years and because of the girls with whom I’ve fallen in and out of love. I am here because my sister has made me laugh, inspired me and nudged me in the right direction.

I built monsters and houses from LEGOS and Lincoln Logs. Refrigerator boxes became spaceships. Summer days ran until dusk then darkness. I fell down, then stood up again. Those hours of sax practice – or the lack thereof – are not lost on me. I will never forget the dinners at Mabel’s. I studied economics in college while wishing I was a writer. When not writing and reading, I played poker with friends until the sunrise. Law school has been a good excuse to explore New England, a place that reminds me of home. And a reminder of home is always a good thing.

I am here in Concord, New Hampshire two months away from graduation to the next phase of my life because I’ve done a million different things in my past. I have a feeling, regardless of how I package who I am on this cover letter, it will matter more that I’ve been where I’ve been, seen what I’ve seen, and met the people I’ve met.

Here’s to the next step – the great beyond. I love looking back, but I have to move forward. There’s a ways to go.

My Oscars 2009 Predictions

This year marks the 81st Oscars. I was born in 1981. I believe that makes me more than qualified to spout my predictions for this Sunday’s awards show.

Here’s a semi-complete list of movies I saw in theaters in 2008. Missing are the Best Picture contenders. I’ve seen three of the five.

My predictions are as follows. The selections above the line are educated guesses. Those below the line are pure guesses. I have not read the predictions that were leaked online, nor have I read many other published predictions. I’ve seen all of the movies to which the above-the-line nominations apply, except The Reader (Actress: Kate Winslet).

Actor: Frank Langella
Supporting actor: Heath Ledger
Actress: Kate Winslet
Supporting actress: Penélope Cruz
Animated feature film: Wall-E
Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
—————————
Art direction: Benjamin Button
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Costume design: Benjamin Button
Directing: Frost-Nixon
Documentary feature: Man on Wire
Documentary short: The Final Inch
Film editing: The Dark Knight
Foreign language film: The Class
Makeup: The Dark Knight
Music (score): Benjamin Button
Music (song): Wall-E
Short film (animated): Presto
Short film (live action): New Boy
Sound editing: Iron Man
Sound mixing: The Dark Knight
Visual effects: Benjamin Button
Writing (adapted screenplay): Benjamin Button
Writing (original screenplay): Milk

Book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Last fall I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running ( hereafter “Running“) by Haruki Murakami. It’s a small book with nicely spaced lines of text. A quick read.

As you may well imagine, even before you open the yellow and red cover, Running is neither a running or writing book. It is about life. Murakami talks of owning a jazz bar in Tokyo in the 1960s. And hating it, but working hard. One day he decides to write a novel, submits it and wins a prize. His life begins as a novelist when he sells the bar and turns his full attention to writing. His writing success continues, but is secondary to his discussions of running. Murakami credits running for his writing success. He draws many similarities between the two pursuits. The solitary approach required by each. The pain of each. The decision to not suffer. The focus required.

Running provides a practical approach to life. Murakami talks of struggling with his slowing marathon time. Training harder, longer, or differently does not help. He is simply growing old and slowing down. He acknowledges that this doesn’t translate to writing. That writers peak at varying ages.

The bottom line is that to be successful running a bar, writing fiction, or running marathons, he has to work hard and be extremely focused.

Should I Quit Facebook?

First, read the following excerpt of the “Licenses” clause of Facebook’s new terms of use:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

If that’s not bad enough, read the “Termination” section:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: … Licenses …

Since I’ve been alerted to Facebook’s new terms of service, I will not longer be importing the posts from this blog to Facebook’s Notes application. Further, I will no longer be importing photos via the “my flickr” application or directly into Facebook’s default photo application.

Facebook is now just an elaborate address book to me.

Update: Consumerist has a nice summary and highlights that if you restrict your privacy settings then you may not be as exposed to the drastic licensing provision quoted above.

More Time Needed

I wish I had more time for everything because there are so many things that interest me. It’s inevitable that I discover and archive, drive by, dream up, and am assigned much more than I’ll ever be able to take in thoughtfully. And that is just one day. The next day it starts all over again. It’s not a feeling of being overwhelmed as much as it is disappointment that I can’t effectively absorb more.

I wonder if I would feel the same way if I stopped reading so many blogs, twitter posts, and facebook notifications. Consuming all of that “pop-life” is like trying to get my brain to record the lives and events of a thousand different people each day.

It is my hunch that if I were able to better focus on “local-me” that I would find each day more fulfilling and, in turn, less stuffed. And who I am trying to prove something to – that I care about all of the useless gadgetry, latest fashions, and most obscure routines of people I’ll never know? It can’t be anyone except myself.

So many people.
So many stories.
So many facts.
So little time.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Have a great Valentine’s Day. Keep it simple. That’s what I’m doing. And getting some work done on my paper. How romantic.

Without much to say, I’ll leave you with the following Robert Frost poem that asks you to set aside your love and experience the heartbreak of two lovers unfit for one another – a warm mature woman and a dashing, but fleeting man. What more is to be expected from winter wind?

Wind and Window Flower

Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.

When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the caged yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,

He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.

He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.

But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.

Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.

But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.

Daily Response: Feb 12, 2009

The Daily Response isn’t exactly daily, is it? Well, I do my best. Here’s my response to today.

1. The fourth book of the Twilight series – New Moon – is like a powerful vacuum. I’ve been sucked into this horrible teen drama.

2. I read yesterday that Chicago is one of the 10 worst cities in which to live and that winning the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics would improve the city. Since I’m moving there this summer, I’m going to start supporting the bid.

3. New favorite twitterer to follow: @NickCarraway

4. If you didn’t see Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman last night, find it on YouTube and watch it. He’s gone off the deep end or he’s fronting a major ruse to regain some Hollywood advantage. Maybe he lost a bet. Who knows. Here’s an article about it, too.

5. I want to try this beer: Hitachino.

Romanettes

No, “romanettes” is not the name of a female punk band. It’s the little-known and scarcely used terminology for referring to little roman numerals. This comes up a lot in my tax class. We find ourselves saying, “four little eye,” to verbalize (iv). When you think about it, “four little eye” could be quite confusing. It could be interpreted as (4)(i). Saying “romanette four” is clearer.

Here’s a humorous exchange from the Supreme Court regarding romanettes:

MS. SAHARSKY [of the Solicitor General’s office]: What I’m suggesting, Your Honor, is that the “that” refers to everything that is in Romanette (i) and (ii) up to the break with “committed by.” So that it is an offense that is a misdemeanor and has as an element “committed by.” You know, these — these two different clauses both modify “offense,” just as a grammatical matter, not looking at this Romanette (i) and (ii), but just looking at that sentence.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Romanette?

MS. SAHARSKY: Oh, little Roman numeral.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I’ve never heard that before. That’s — Romanette.

(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

Ruckus RIP

Ruckus, the company at which I first worked after graduating from college, shut down today around 5:30pm EST. I left the company in February of 2006, nineteen months after I was hired as the approximately thirtieth employee. While I’ve been far removed from the company for a long time, I look back on my time there in a positive light. I met some outstanding people, learned about balance in my own life, and had a great deal of fun. I will always have a great affection for “start-up culture,” and hope to experience it once again someday.

Here is a TechCrunch article that explains what will happen with the Ruckus music libraries.

Rest In Peace.

Daily Response: Feb 5, 2009

Daily Response is a new daily series I’m starting that will be hosted here on my blog and distributed via my Facebook Notes and also on my tumblr. Daily Response is my impromptu comments on any notable news I’ve come across during the day either in real life or here on the Interweb.

1. Michael Phelps being suspended from the U.S. Swim team is justice. The team has rules and it must respect and obey them. With this said, I believe marijuana should be legalized. We have bigger fish to fry than catching smokers.

2. There has been an unnecessary public discussion via school wide email today. The short of it is that a student took issue with the content of an email sent by an organization. Instead of addressing this privately, the student chose to blast the entire school with his thoughts. This prompted responses from others telling him to shut up. This is a waste of my email storage space.

3. This video, “Verizon Math Fail” is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.

4. I hate that American banks are being federalized. That the federal government is capping executive compensation is disgusting. We have a capitalist economy. Some regulation is okay, but now we are going too far. These types of moves by the Obama administration make me question whether I should have voted for him to lead my country.

5. While making toast this morning an idea struck me. Toasters should be offset so that piece one springs up ten to fifteen seconds before piece two, thus allowing time to butter piece one before piece two starts to cool off.