In the next 27 hours and 10 minutes, I need to put together my final ranked list of places that I would like to do my pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship. It’s due tomorrow, by 11:59 PM; the programs all had to turn their lists in by tonight, and after all us applicants submit our ranks, the match computers start doing their thing. On May 22nd, the results are released, and I’ll find out where I will spend the three years after residency.

I’ve never really been an indecisive person; on this, though, decisiveness isn’t exactly nipping at my heels. I’ll probably just sleep on it, and tomorrow morning, certify my list and not look back.

So, as you can see, the machine is back on its feet, and a little dusty from the chaos.

(For those who missed it, the primary hard disk of the machine running this site died today, and it’s taken me all afternoon to get everything back up and running.) has a great column up naming the ten judges who committed the most grievous offenses against their profession in 2001. It’s a funny read; I especially like the part about the guy who served as judge and prosecutor in a trial.

Wow — has it really been a year since Shannon read this, posted this, and wheedled her way into my life? smiley

Last night was a tough one in the neonatal ICU. I was on call, and over the course of the night, it seemed like every bad thing that could happen did happen. One super-premature infant (born at 26 weeks gestational age) started having bloody diapers, and it now looks like he has necrotizing enterocolitis. Another premie (30 weeks) with bad lung disease developed a pneumothorax and needed an urgent chest tube, as well as initiation of big-time cardiac support meds and inhaled nitric oxide. The obstetricians delivered a baby via emergent C-section and inflicted a 5-cm, down-to-the-bone laceration on the newborn’s scalp. A baby in the newborn nursery, who had had an arterial blood sample done just after being born, developed blue fingertips. A baby was transferred in from another hospital with horrendous lung disease, and needed bloods drawn every few hours and aggressive respiratory management. Everywhere I turned, there was a baby that needed intervention, and while I stayed on top of it all, I felt like I could be sucked under at any moment.

The nicest thing about hard nights on call is that, while the hits keep coming, it’s impossible to stop the clock. By 6:30 AM, one of my classmates was there to take over her kids; my other two teammates were there by 7:00, and the whole team was rounding at 8:00. By 10:30, I was out of the hospital, and by noon, I was soundly asleep in my bed.

Man, I haven’t been keeping up with my Dahlia. Last week, she had a great column about Hope v. Peltzer (a case in which a prisoner was cuffed to a hitching post for seven hours) highlighting Justice Scalia’s, ahem, personality. And a few weeks ago, Dahlia handicapped McCain-Feingold’s chances of getting past the Court. She’s still the best out there at distilling complex legal issues down to easier-to-understand arguments, and nobody comes close to her ability to bring out the real people that sit on high at the Supreme Court.

For future reference: using JavaScript and HTML to build a WYSIWYG webpage editor. (Of course, it only works in IE5/6, but it’s damn cool, and some neat programming to boot.) If I start writing my own content management system, this is guaranteed to be a part of it…

So, the solitude around here for the past few days has been enlightening, in that I’ve learned that New York’s premiere telco still doesn’t have its shit together.

My T1 went down at 12:53 PM Eastern yesterday, and my ISP’s automated trouble system immediately noted it and generated a ticket to their networking group. It was quickly determined that the problem was between me and them — in other words, in Verizon’s territory. Verizon did some testing, said they fixed it, then when it wasn’t fixed, did more testing and eventually determined that they’d have to come here to check out this end of the circuit. The only problem with this was that it all was determined at 9:30 PM, and by the time that they got the dispatchers to look at the ticket, they claimed that it was too late to dispatch for a repair. (This was despite my ostensible 24/7 service contract.) So they were set up to come this afternoon, when Shannon could be here to let them in.

They came this afternoon, and within an hour, determined that another Verizon tech had stolen one of the cable pairs that makes up the T1 to use in another line. The kicker? The tech said that they’ll never be able to figure out who did it. Yep, that’s right — they know that it happened at 12:53 PM, and they know which pair was involved, but their records aren’t good enough to determine who it was that caused a 30-hour outage on a T1.


In one of the surest signs that spring has sprung, there was a street fair outside my building today (and, like a dumbass, I didn’t get a capture from my webcam). Shannon and I were able to take a two-hour break and play a little; we got faux-cheese nachos, pad thai, fresh corn, and a few little necessities. Shannon was also able to take unknowing advantage of my total love for street fairs and coax a new necklace out of me — I’m such a sucker when her wearing pretty shiny things is the potential outcome. smiley:

If you’re looking to set up secure (SSL-encrypted) access to your Linux mail servers — like I was, tonight — you may find the following three pages of immense use:

And remember — if you’re setting up your machine to have an SSL pathway to the SMTP server (the mail-sending server), then you’ll want to make sure to set up your access restrictions again, since the sendmail anti-relay stuff doesn’t apply to connections coming in via stunnel on the same machine.

(WOW, that was all geeky of me.)

I don’t get it. When people started sharing music and software over the Internet, depriving artists, authors, and companies the money that — whether you agree with the price or not — they have the right to charge, did they really not see coming efforts by those same groups to protect and enforce their rights?

Don’t get me wrong; I can’t even begin to support the heavyhanded way that the SSSCA infringes on some already-present rights (like fair use and backups). I can, however, support the more general premise behind both WPA and the SSSCA — that reliance on the general law-abiding behavior of people has been a miserable failure, and that something is going to have to fill that breach.

pMachine could very possibly be the new weblog publishing tool that I’ve been looking for. I’ll try to download it over the weekend, and kick the tires a bit. (Thanks, Derek, for pointing it out!)

How about another disclaimer, Dave — that using the Radio outliner to manipulate Manila directories has a longstanding bug that Userland hasn’t fixed?

Cory Doctorow has a great response to the Author’s Guild call for a member boycott of Amazon over its aggressive integration of used book sales into the Amazon bookselling site. It’s a short read, and well worth the time.

How is a supercolony of ants stretching thousands of miles not one of the coolest things ever? (There’s a CNN story here, for when the Yahoo one expires.) I mean, we’re talking about a total society of ants; they probably have little areas that they think of as cities, and others that are vacation spots.

I can just see them chattering back and forth: “Take Intercolony 95 north, and you’ll want to take exit 42 to Fern Mound. Best. Leaves. EVER.”

I’m off to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore tomorrow, for my very last fellowship interview before I have to rank all the programs and commit myself to fate’s hand. I have to wake up at the crack of the middle of the !@#*%& night to catch my train, due to excessive laziness on my part leading to all the convenient trains being sold out; my train reading was delivered yesterday, though, so it’s not as bad as it could be. (Update: Shannon, in her infinite wisdom, recommended that I keep checking the Amtrak site to see if the later trains opened up… and one did! so instead of the crack of the middle of the night, I now leave on the edge of the crack of the beginning of the morning. Whew!)

Wish me luck!

Reading this article about New Jersey trying to make the Catholic Church share some culpability for priests who engage in sexual abuse, the only thing I could think about was: you mean New Jersey has a friggin’ law that prevents charities from having to take responsibility for knowingly hiring sexual abusers? That’s disturbing.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally-important groups — the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

If you, like me, can recite that entire preamble from memory, then you’ll enjoy Molly Haskell’s NYT article, “A ‘Law and Order’ Addict Tells All.” (You’ll probably want to hit that link soon, since it’s from last Sunday, and thus, will fall into the pay archive soon.)

“I actually think cheating is good. A person who has an entirely honest life can’t succeed these days.”

— quote from CNN’s recent article on the rise of cheating in high schools, and disgustingly, it appears that the speaker’s now in the majority.

If you (like me) find yourself in the market for a new DVD player, and (like me) want to know what all the “progressive scan” hoo-hah is about, look no further than Don Munsil and Brian Florian’s progressive scan primer. Replete with examples, hypotheticals, and illustrations galore, it’s a great reference, and it helped me understand why my new DVD player should support the feature.

Network Solutions seems to have illegitimately yanked out from under Leslie Harpold, and now, four days later, have yet to reinstate her as its proper holder. Really, could NetSol be any worse at what it does? How can there be people who don’t quake in constant fear that the company controls a huge chunk of the net?

With much prodding, I finally got the pictures from my trip down to Washington, D.C. last weekend online.

I’ve just gotta go on record and say that I had no idea that Wired — I’m talking about the made-from-dead-trees magazine here, rather than the website — had gone back to publishing legitimately good articles. The April 2002 issue is an absolute keeper, with an awesome Bruce Sterling piece on the militarization of space, a look at the way a simple manual water pump has changed the face of Kenya, and Steve Silberman’s glance inside the mind of Oliver Sacks. It’s worth finding a copy on the newsstand, if only for the illustrations that go along with Sterling’s piece.

Interesting — this post on Sean Gallagher’s site (about hypocritical asses who question everything that other people do but don’t tolerate even the most casual of glances at the propriety of what they themselves do) used to have comments, but they somehow got dropped into the ether. Naturally, I find myself wondering who did the dropping…

I have a very hard time understanding Microsoft’s wanton desire to completely ignore my preferences every time a security update to Windows Messenger is released, and reinstate the “Run this program when Windows starts” option despite me having explicitly turned it off. It’s really, really annoying. (And, of course, the “Contact Us” link that is provided on the Windows Messenger help pages doesn’t work…)

Matt Frondorf, a photographer and engineer, pointed a camera out the passenger window of a Ford Explorer, hooked the camera’s shutter release up to the odometer, and started driving from the Statue of Liberty (well, near it in New Jersey) to San Francisco. Every mile, the camera took a picture, resulting in 3,304 images that form mile markers for a cross-continental journey. It’s a pretty cool idea, and some of the images are beautiful.

It’s funny, though — as cool as this is, it happened at least three years ago, and the site’s been around for equally as long (although the Wayback Machine only has entries starting in August of 2000). I wonder what recently sparked everyone’s fancy.

Think you know wireless? Sure, a lot of you probably know the difference between 802.11b and 802.11a, but do you know what 802.11g is? How about 802.11e? Don’t worry, Glenn Fleishman’s got your back; he has a good summary of each spec, and the progress made on each, in his 802.11 Task Group Update over at O’Reilly. It’s worth a read, if only to check the status of standardized higher speed equipment, and see where things stand with implementing actual security over wireless.

There’s another good story over at CNet about the (pretty moronic) FCC petition filed by Sirius and XM Satellite Radio that proposes new limits on the stray interference caused by wireless networks. At issue is the fact that the two satellite radio systems transmit on a bandwidth very near that used by the 2.4 GHz wireless network standard (otherwise known as 802.11b, or WiFi), and the makers are worried that the networking equipment will cause enough interference to prevent the satellite radios from succeeding.

As is typical, though, my sense is that this is an issue of a company being pissed that their business model isn’t succeeding due to circumstances that they didn’t take into effect. You can see that in two big problems with the FCC petition: the companies are demanding a lower emission limit for others than they themselves are limited to, and the limit that they propose is actually 8 dB below the thermal noise floor (roughly meaning that the interference that results from random thermal noise in the environment is greater than what they are proposing WiFi manufacturers be limited to).

Really, if popup ads weren’t enough, now we’re going to have to deal with popup downloads? I would say that a general uprising of disgust by the web community would put and end to this kind of thing, but I suspect it wouldn’t, given that popup ads are not only alive, but present on a ton of otherwise respectable sites these days. Mozilla has an option to prevent the ads, but since I haven’t found a site with the downloads, I don’t know how it deals with them; it’s about time for Internet Explorer to follow suit, though.

I’ve been pretty quiet about all the recent problems that I (and one of my employers) have encountered with Frontier, the application upon which this site is built, mainly because I felt that Userland should have a chance to fix the problems and return to the entire world of supporting a core product of theirs. However, I now find myself in the position where the two Userland people who were helping me have both been let go, and the President and COO of Userland has told me that his company can offer us no more support (that perhaps I should “consider another system to accomplish [my] programming goals or a consultant”).

I’ve talked about moving off of Frontier and Manila before; I think that if I take this entire situation, and add it to Userland’s current focus on another of their products to the near exclusion of all support and maintenance of Frontier and Manila, it’s hard to argue against a move. (Of course, this is where I wish I had more time to actually figure it all out.)

(Personally, I love the “consider a consultant” statement, since I would probably consider myself a pretty strong Frontier/Manila programmer, and on top of that, I don’t know how much anyone outside of Userland can do to fix actual, crashing bugs in the Frontier application itself. I also love how much the Cluetrain that Userlanders talk about so much applies here — specifically, numbers 76 through 79.)

Very, very cool: British doctors have combined gene therapy and bone marrow transplantation to cure 18 month-old Rhys Evans of SCID. (SCID is a disease wherein both forms of lymphocytes — the heavy lifters of the immune system — are defective as a result of a single genetic defect, causing the need to live in total, sterile isolation from the rest of the world due to an inability to fight infection.)

Diseases like SCID are perfect for this form of potential cure; the defect originates in cells produced by the bone marrow, and since doctors have been performing bone marrow transplants for decades, using gene therapy to correct the defect in a small population of cells and then replacing the defective marrow with the corrected cells is as close to a cure as you can get. In the coming months to years, we should be hearing about attempts to use the technique for other diseases that are similarly terrific candidates, the largest of which is sickle cell disease.

Boxes and Arrows currently has an interesting article up about how came into being. It turns out that the site (that I’ve mentioned before) originated in the redesign of CancerNET (now; the designers collected everything that they could find which offered real data on usability, and conducted a great deal of testing on their own, in order to base the site’s new look on more than just their own feelings of what should go where. They then collected all that evidence into one place, It’s now one of the only places that webdesigners and information architects can find actual evidence-based guidelines on design, and probably should be on every web designer’s bookmark page.

Whew, I’m glad that New Mexico cleared that one up! (For those looking to view the New Mexico governor’s actual press release, it’s also available.) [Thanks to Shannon for the heads-up.]

Just as a preemptive warning: I just discovered that my ISP, who provides the T1 that serves this site and a bunch of others, is in Chapter 11. I am investigating the details of the situation, including what would be involved in moving the T1 elsewhere; I’ll keep y’all informed.

(I just did a little bit of searching, and it turns out that this has been going on for a few months now. I need to stay better-informed of what’s going on with my ISP!)

Shannon and I ran away to Washington D.C. this weekend for a well-deserved bit of rest and relaxation (pictures to come), and we both were able to take the new Acela Express train back to New York (her yesterday, me tonight). Looking out the window, I didn’t think that we could be going that much faster than the normal train, but getting a glimpse at the engineer’s control screen and seeing 115 MPH in big, bold letters made me happy. Zoom zoom!

(I also realized that, in the current air travel atmosphere, you’d be nuts to take the airline shuttles along the Northeast corridor; the train takes three hours, the stations are all right in the hearts of the big cities, you don’t have to get to the train station 90 minutes early, and the seats are way more comfortable.)