Showing posts from December, 2008

A Hard Day's Night

I am adequately familiar with "A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles. But I never paid any particular attention to the opening chord. That is until I heard this analysis on NPR about the use of Fourier analysis to breakdown music into its component sounds. Paying closer attention to the song also helped me recall why The Beatles were such a great band.

12/11: Live, Freeze, and Die!

New Hampshire is famous for its official state slogan, "Live Free or Die," adopted in 1945. It is a reference to the aggressive sense of independence inherent in the American political philosophy. The phrase has its origin in an 1809 toast written by General John Stark, New Hampshire's most famous soldier in the American Revolutionary War.

However, a new state motto is being proposed by some. I heard it from a former colleague (John Finocchiaro) who is still without power following the December 11 ice storm that threw 1.25 million homes back into the Dark Ages. The proposed motto, rather appropriately, is "Live, Freeze, and Die!"

Additionally, I would propose that "12/11" (a spoof of 9/11) might be an appropriate name for one of the worst ice-storm-induced power outages in recent New England history.

Why I Love The Bose Wave Music System

What I like most about the Bose Wave Music System is its size-to-sound ratio, price-to-sound ratio, absence of external moving parts, and ability to play MP3 CDs. The minimalist external design is simply remarkable. I don't believe there is anything else in the market that is one-piece and can compete on these metrics.
Size-to-sound ratio. This system fits on one corner of my bedroom dresser and is as much music system as I'll ever need. The sound quality and quantity is superb and superior to what one might expect from much larger and more expensive music systems. Based on a volume scale that goes from 0-99, I generally listen at around 35-40, bump it up to 50-60 for party moods, and have never needed to go much higher than 70. There is nothing else in the market that is this small and provides a similar sound quality.

Price-to-sound ratio. Again, the sound quality this system affords me for the $500 price tag is about as much music system as I'll ever need at home or wish …

Coping With Power Outages (And Subzero Temperatures)

Ours was among the well over one million homes that lost electricity as a result of the Northeastern ice storm that hit New England and beyond on the evening of Thursday, December 11, 2008.
The extent of power outages caused by this ice storm is being classified as one of the worst ever. Other outages included land-based phone, cable, and internet services.

Our place went dark at around 10 PM EST on Thursday. We had power restored around 8 PM EST on Friday. We were lucky to have power restored in about 24 hours. Estimates for other regions are as high as two weeks. Living without power for almost an entire day was an important experience, especially for the kids.
Luckily we were fairly well equipped to weather the storm. Here's a summary of the lessons either learned or reinforced.
Keep a powerful outdoor flashlight, e.g. something that operates on three type D batteries. Such a flashlight will provide extended run time and a strong beam of light. However, use the flashlight sparingly…

"The End of Wall Street's Boom" By Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis's take on the current financial crisis belongs in the *must-read* category.

He is, arguably, "the funniest serious writer in America."

His 1990 book "Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street" is widely acknowledged as the quintessential non-fiction introduction to Wall Street's underbelly.

Most articles of this length would be abandoned midway. Lewis throws in plenty of serious material, e.g. the ratio of median home price to income. What makes Lewis's writing such a pleasure to read is that he doesn't forget the human element (anecdotes, character sketches, and so on), which also helps to the lighten the reading experience.

The End of Wall Street's Boom By Michael Lewis.