Possibly it’s my imagination but here on the second to last day of the year it seemed the western sky was a small bit lighter outside when I left work today. We’re just over a week past the solstice, twenty-five weeks from full illumination but our escape from the gloom is starting to seem like a reality. Darkness begone!
And while we’re ushering things out the door, 2008 begone as well. It’s not a year I’d particularly care to re-live. Here’s to the ever present hope of new new beginnings.
I’m guessing after a week away from me and running wild through the hills of Marin with her new pack mmmja isn’t going to want to come back to the tight quarters of urban studio living. Well tough stuff sorry frog you don’t get no choice in the matter. Enjoy your last hours of freedom…
So, despite the dreary weather, we rocked out at the first annual Jingle Blast Tri-K road race this morning. On a personal level I managed to avoid any major wipeouts on the remaining sidewalk ice and CNHB somehow put off the harbor dunking that is her destiny for another year. Some rain kicked in at the halfway point during the lazy lap around William Prescott and the Bunker Hill Monument but nothing like the steady downpour later in the morning. The final route (roughly Freedom-trail shaped) brought us back over the locks between the Zakim and Charlestown Bridges where unfortunately many of the Matisse bells weren’t working. Still, gorgeous scenery of light rain on a flat and still Charles. A strong push in the North End secured me a top-five finish. Check the bottom center for impressive race metrics from the remarkable trailguru app (courtesy of our wet winner). Thanks to everyone (six woo!) who came out.
I was hanging with the baby nieces today, playing with their new toys and watching them sky off the back of the couch, body-slam each other into momentary bursts of tears before returning the favor to the next smaller sister. The best of their gift loot wasn’t from Christmas but was something Suzanne gave Victoria for her birthday earlier this month – the walking, roaring, biting dinosaur. This is a very uncle-type gift to give a four year old girl so am glad the aunts are stepping up in that department (given my absence). Isabelle got a new & hopefully more sturdy camera so maybe we’ll see some of life from her perspective on the photo blog in the future. They decided my earrings meant I was a pirate and I almost convinced them the adults they knew were all pro-pirate and in opposition to the evil Peter Pan. All in all terribly cute, up to and including when their mother told them they wouldn’t see me in a long while prompting Victoria to give me a big hug and blue-eyed stare and asks me if they’ll see me in heaven. Hopefully not that long, small ones.
I hope all ya’ll had a Merry Christmas. You know we did – the final math was something like one bloody nose plus one hundred escapes from the big bad wolf times one thousand dogfights all over one meeeellion cookies equals tuckered out nieces. Let’s do it again – next year, same time?
ps. full Christmas set…
pps. I wonder if fuzz one had a good Christmas.
ppps. MV is going to Guatemala Saturday??
I keep getting people here looking for the BVPDG so here’s link love to their new website. It looks like they’re doing some rebranding as well, they’re now a commie collective instead of a discussion group. There’s a meeting scheduled on January 28th. Other forthcoming dates of interest – Boston Cinema Census deadline is February 10th, Best of Open Screen is coming on January 13th. Homeboys need a calendar.
Two somewhat related things of note today, both under the general auspice of restricting flow of academic information.
I got a curious email from Brain today. They were pitching the concept of Oxford Open, a program into which an author can enter their publications such that they will be freely accessible to non-institutional subscribers. For authors in the US the fees for this are up to $3000 (depending on membership status of the primary investigator’s home institution). So we’re clear – their business model is that authors will pay a fee to not have their research embargoed (to the public) for 12 months. This isn’t particularly unusual for academic journals (most of which have some sort of publication fee) but it’s mind-bogglingly backwards for someone who spends any time at all thinking about the modern open source/open access movement. It doesn’t take much mental twisting to turn a program like this from a positive (free access!) into an obvious negative (it’s friggin extortion!). Why is this not the default behavior of this journal (or the other 86 Oxford journals? And why the heck would this open option cost more money?
So why not just publish somewhere else? That brings us to my second point – today I received a final proof of a paper I’ve got coming out in Circulation. This is interesting to me primarily in that Circulation has the highest impact factor (~12.7 in 2006) of any journal I’ve published in recently (or, ever?). At any rate there isn’t a higher impact cardiac or cardiovascular journal. If you’re unfamiliar, impact factor is a way of ranking the reputation (or putative importance) of journals. To over-simplify, it serves the same basic function as Google pagerank does for websites. Yet oddly, Thompson Scientific, the company that generates the impact factor values themselves treats them as proprietary information. Though there are open alternatives (that are arguably more appropriate and fair), impact factor is by far the best known and most widely used.
So to recap, a closed, proprietary system is used to assess the reputations of publications that further restrict the scientific information within them (unless you’re willing to pay big bucks). The mindset of those in the industry of academic publication makes the death throes of print media look positively vigorous by comparison. One could easily come to a conclusion that it’s only a matter of time until PLoS and their Creative Commons Attribution licenses drives everyone who derives their existence on the restriction scientific information clean out of business.
It’s not too late to sign up for the Jingle Blast! December 27th, North End, bring your running shoes and kindling for the emergency post-splash bonfire.
About a week ago I received a letter from the San Francisco Department of Elections telling me my provisional ballot for the November 4th election had been rejected (”Unfortunately, you were not listed on the active voter rolls”). Merry Christmas! Included was a helpful form to return to register to vote – familiar in that it basically the same form I already mailed to them back before the election. Today, I got a second card from them, confirming my registration, effective November 6th. So, yeah. Scratch all that happiness and pride about being engaged in the civic process. Scratch the bit about playing a small part in the most important and historic election in a generation. And scratch my vote against Prop 8. This just sucks. I can’t say much more than that. And now I gotta vote twice next time to make up for it, and that ain’t gonna end well either.
Enough pictures of the white-out blizzard. Here’s a little Christmas color courtesy of yjp’s (and Austin’s) Trail of Lights.
Snowbound in a Boston blizzard vs a nice morning at the beach? Of these two, it’s obvious which is rationally preferable (frostbite being a more immediate and pressing threat than crab attack). Though, I do feel I’m missing out on something with no snow (or future prospect of snow). Dog would probably agree if she was aware and was given a choice. Here’s CNHB’s full Snow Day set, and my expanding Ocean Beach set.
Someone on some floor above me is having an electro-slap boogie remix dance party tonight. I’m getting a clear flow of beats down through that weird steam chimney thing in the bathroom. Other than having to be up in a few hours this is no big deal, but is still worth noting because I was under the impression that everyone else in this building is a) over the age of 75 and b) a crotchety unsmiling Russian. Maybe these Russian grandmas like to get crunk now and then? A mystery.
When the scientists (ecologists, anthropologists, agri-geeks, whatever) who study ranchers or pastoral peoples and their herds talk about animals, it helps to have a way to collapse different species into a common value. Typically, a cow is taken as the base unit, and other animals are given a value that’s some subset of a cow. This is called a Livestock Unit (LSU). For sub-saharan Africa, the FAO Compendium of Agricultural – Environmental Indicators sets the value of a goat at 0.1 LSU. A duck is less than a third of that (0.03 LSU) while a chicken
clucks clocks in at a tenth (0.01 LSU).
I was thinking about this today when my mom sent out an email with our World Vision Christmas goat/duck/chicken donation plan details. The extended family pooled our money, making it mathematically ambiguous to say which participant purchased how many of each animal. To make things tricksier, the absolute cost for certain animals (hello expensive goats!) were greater than a single present-share, leading to mandatory fractional stewardship.
In addition to the previous LSU ratio mentioned (which I’ll scale to 100:30:10) we also have a cost ratio from World Vision, which can be similarly scaled to 100:8:16.67. Notice the duck/chicken value is inverted from the LSU values. If we collapse within species, we get a ratio of LSU/cost ratios – specifically, 1:3.75:0.6. In other words, the highest LSU/cost “bang for your buck” comes from ducks while chickens on the other hand are a relative ripoff.
So, in my optimal self-centered world, I’d straight-up maximize my share of the herd by claiming 8 1/3rd ducks, for a total of 0.25 LSU. If I do to that though, it dilutes every one else’s share by sticking them with the damn chickens which doesn’t seem very smurfy. Since the total gift was 0.54 LSU, a more dispassionate way to split is to just divide total LSU by relative share size, giving me 0.104 LSU. I’m not quite that generous though so I’ll just take one chicken for the team, leave the nasty red-meat goats out of the mix altogether and end with a count ratio of 0:6.25:1 for a total of 0.1975 LSU, or roughly 1/5th of a skinny cow. That sounds about perfect to me.
[In case you missed that link up there, this is a game you can play at home... :)]
An open invitation to join us in the North End for a tri-K plus polar bear harbor plunge. Tentatively planned for the morning of December 27th, round-about 8am, warm (and stylish!) t-shirt to those who survive. Please RSVP! Map forthcoming.
I got to skype with the really little dorks (RLD?) today during the annual co-birthday party (37 & 3 + 1 = best cake ever). It just so happened that that party also coincided with the annual FBCA Christmas Pageant. Prompted by Victoria’s admission that her performance today marked her last year as a Christmas Angel, I decided an appropriate repost from last December was in order.
The TX1 is alive!
Had a fancy margarita.
Ankle is broken again.
The TX1 won’t focus.
KU lost to UMass.
For whatever reason, the most searched for post on this site is The World According to Curly Girl where I mentioned a calendar my friend Leigh put out under her Curly Girl brand (there’s a new one for 2009). In the eighteen months since then it looks like she’s been more productive than most, having opened a boutique in Belmont (just west of Fresh Pond) that I know some of you would be interested in (if you’re looking for more non-goat-type Christmas purchases). Here’s her new site and a few more photographs. Go, check her out, and write her up something nice on Yelp since there’s nothing there yet.
CNHB just sent on a Globe article based off new MWRA Advisory Board research showing a 6% increase water/sewer rate increases in metro Boston area. For comparison sake, rates in San Francisco dropped 0.9% between 2007 and 2008. The most interesting / greenest idea to address the issue?
One measure would levy a 5-cent tax on bottled water, with the revenue used specifically for infrastructure improvements.
I can’t find it in the original source document so am not sure if that’s a true tax or a deposit similar to the bottle bill, but either way, an interesting proposal and good way to further reduce bottled water sales.
I was watching The Dark Crystal the earlier this week, and though the Skeksis are pretty trippy & hilariously scary, something was really discomfiting about the nominal good guys, the three-armed Mystics. Today I remembered why they bothered me – one of Shannon Larratt’s interviews I read on the internets way back in (holy crap!) 1999. So, I’ll share said same interview with you. Be forewarned, it isn’t for the squeamish. If you’re still interested, Adding and Subtracting.
To put it simply, Dave had his entire right arm (since we’re left handed) amputated at the shoulder and we surgically reattached it immediately behind my right pectoral muscle.
Dogbrake & I modified our route a little tonight to avoid the GGP stabfest and instead extend down to Ocean Beach. I didn’t have my camera (obviously, and not that it’s working anyway) but this is shot is roughly representative of the color the sky was. The last surfers were packing up and out when we turned back up Cabrillo.