Am I the only one that finds it a bit weird that CNN is carrying AP stories on how to avoid getting caught sharing music online? It seems that CNN’s parent company, AOL Time Warner, would want to discourage that sort of thing…
I dunno — perhaps there’s a compelling argument out there somewhere for not exempting anyone from having to go through the metal detectors at government buildings.
I thank the editors at The Morning News for passing along a link that finally makes sense of the many layers that sit between a bottle of wine and your lips. It’s amazing to me how convoluted and arcane the laws are that govern importation and sale of alcohol; it’s even more amazing to me that the entire three-tier structure of alcohol control is based in the grant of state power contained in the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Of course, the Internet has challenged the logic of the rigid distribution network, and even more, has brought about efforts to fight it in the courts. Given the roots of the scheme in the Constitution and its taxation value to each individual state, though, it’ll probably be a long time before there’s any real change seen by consumers.

It’s only in its sixth day of life, but I gotta say that Matt Haughey’s PVRblog, a weblog devoted to TiVo, ReplayTV, and other digital video recorders, is already a damn fine daily read. Matt has already published a few longer pieces that are aimed at helping people through the harder parts of more advanced setups (like putting a TiVo on a network, rather than using a phone line), all interspersed with news and updates from the PVR world. If you’ve got a PVR, or are thinking about adding one to your life, I’d recommend a visit to the site.

Jenny Everett, a Popular Science staff writer, decided to call the Dockers customer assistance line to ask for more details about the company’s claims of a nanotechnology basis for its new Stain Defender line of clothes; the resulting conversation was pretty damn funny.

According to today’s New York Times, the White House has enacted a new e-mail system that makes it significantly harder for people to jot off notes to the President (and, one would imagine, many other top elected officials). Instead of simply addressing an e-mail to, now people have to negotiate nearly a dozen web pages, choosing from restrictive pre-selected subjects and indicating whether or not they agree with the present stance of the White House on whatever issue concerns them. (Note that I’ve been trying to verify the claims of the Times article all morning, but the new website and the site it redirects to have been down pretty much since I got to work.)

On the good side, the process apparetly does include a verification step — once an e-mail is sent to the President, a confirmation is mailed to the original sender which includes a mechanism for proving that that person was the author of the e-mail. That’s the sort of thing that is probably important, given that the from line of e-mail is too easy to forge, and there are plenty of reasons it’s important to know whether or not letters to the Chief Executive are legitimate.

And on the funny side, as seems to be the case lately, the Times could stand to do a little digging before choosing who to use as an article’s prime source. Tom Matzzie, the AFL-CIO organizer mentioned in the third paragraph as one of the first people to discover (and be affected by) the new e-mail system, is described towards the end of the article as “a professional Web site designer.” Elsewhere on the web, Matzzie’s involvement with the AFL-CIO is described as its Online Mobilization Manager, its Internet communications manager, and the organization’s webmaster. Given that the article’s entire purpose is to complain about the new, restrictive forms-based approach to communicating with the White House, wouldn’t it be relevant that Matzzie’s own website has an incredibly similar, and similarly cumbersome, forms-based “Contact Us” page?

I just started playing with TypePad a little bit, and I have to say, I love the photo album stuff. And with that, my first TypePad photo album awaits, and I’d be willing to bet that a few more albums will follow over the next few days.
While I’m as much for quiet cars and restrictions on cellphone use in trains and planes as the next guy, I also think that a few people in this Times article could do themselves a whole heap of good with an iPod and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones…

It’s decently obvious that the United States has now hit its saturation point of mobile phone dealers. Walking around the Arsenal Mall last night, I was struck with how many dealers were crammed into a small space. In one particularly hilarious fifty-foot stretch, there were two T-Mobile vendors as well as an actual T-Mobile store, and likewise, there were three or four AT&T dealers, a Nextel booth, and two Cingular shops. Not a single one of the booths had a customer at them, and of the stores, only the T-Mobile one had anyone other than employees in it. It was a bit of a joke, and it made me wonder when one of the cellphone providers will get wise to this and decide to cut out the third-party dealers, as well as the markup that their presence adds to the cost of cellphone service.

This past week, things turned a corner, in both my professional (medical) and amateur (do-it-yourself home improvement) lives. In terms of the doctor life, this past Tuesday was my first day as a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow, and it felt good. All of my co-fellows are incredibly cool — fun, helpful, equally nervous — and there isn’t a single aspect of the training program that doesn’t totally eclipse everything that I’ve experienced over the past three years of training in New York. The staff is not only helpful, they all go out of their way to make sure that everything goes well. The facilities are beautiful, on both the inpatient and outpatient sides, and reflect planning that took into account what would be best for everyone involved. And there’s no other way to describe the support services than simply unbelievable; every time I ask how to get something done for a patient, the answer is invariably to point me to the person whose job it is to handle exactly that. It’s nice to finally start working somewhere that exudes an understanding that patients are the single most important reason we all work as hard as we do. Of course, it also helps that I started out on neuro-oncology, one of the easier rotations I’ll experience this year, which has meant that I’m able to get my feet wet in the new hospital but am also able to get home at a reasonable hour. Speaking of home, Shannon and I both agree that this weekend was big for us, not because of any sheer quantity of work that we did, but rather because we finally crossed the line between getting basic things done and getting real quality-of-living things done. For example, we framed five photos and hung them along our main hallway, making it feel like a home rather than a sterile passageway, and likewise, we did some decorating in the kitchen that helped it cross into the world of warm and comfortable. And Matt’s visit this past weekend also lit a fire under our asses to work on the bathroom and front room. Shannon tackled painting the bathroom, and then we built a nice armoire and wall cabinet, put up a glass shelf, hung a new curtain rod and shower curtain, and replaced the shower head. In the front room, we got everything painted, set up my desk and computer, moved the sofa bed into place, and hung the curtains on the french doors to the patio; all that’s left is deciding where all the wall decorations are going to go, and it’ll be another room in the bag. And finally, a spontaneous walk around the neighborhood last night (while waiting for paint to dry) led to the discovery of what seems to be an awesome indoor pool a mere four blocks away from me. It’s in the building which housed the first indoor municipal swimming pool in the United States, which is damn cool; cooler still is the fact that the rates are incredibly reasonable, and the hours look like they won’t conflict too terribly with my packed hospital schedule. Here’s to another week of progress!

Shannon and I have returned to New York City for the weekend, and getting out of the new Boston apartment for a few days has provided enough perspective on the past week to allow for an update.

First and foremost, this past week has been a lot tougher than I ever would have thought, mostly because of the amount of work that Shannon and I have had to do in the new apartment. When I signed my new lease, my landlord and I figured out that there wouldn’t be a lot of time between residents. I agreed to take on a lot of the normal between-rentals work myself, after I moved in, if my landlord would handle one huge task: ripping out all of the electric blue shag carpet and decades of layered and dulled linoleum and refinishing the wood floors that lived underneath. What that meant was that I would arrive to some of the most amazing floors that I could ever have imagined, but I would also arrive to an apartment with walls that hadn’t been painted in almost a decade. I knew to expect this (and my landlord had already agreed to reimburse me for all painting supplies and expenses), but I didn’t really process how much work it would take to get it all done, nor did I predict the emotional toll it would take on Shannon and I. And despite a 24-hour trip to Boston two weeks ago to get some of the painting started and a 36-hour headstart for Shannon and her mother, my family and I arrived last Saturday to an apartment that still needed paint in almost every room, not to mention cleaning and other small maintenance projects all over the place.

Another huge fact that hadn’t even crossed my mind in the days and weeks planning for the move was that the need for painting would mean that there was no chance of me being able to unpack when I got to Boston. Needing to repaint and resurface the kitchen cabinets meant that we wouldn’t be able to unpack any of our food, dishes, or even appliances; needing to repaint the entire study (goddamn built-in shelves!) meant that all the one million book boxes would need to stay stacked up in half of the guest room. Add to it a bathroom in need of paint and minor work, a paneled hallway in need of a lot of detail work, and a few pieces of furniture that didn’t survive the move, and you’ve got a general picture of the tasks that have dominated every available minute of our past week.

The one last thing that I didn’t anticipate was the massive hit in clothing space that I took in the move. I had built quite a bit of shelf space in my huge New York bedroom closet, none of which I have in my smaller Boston closets. Similarly, Shannon’s clothes were in temporary storage in anticipation of the move, and we didn’t have any real answer for where they’d end up once they got to Boston. What this all means is that we’ve been living out of our bags for the past week, something that’s driven both of us nearly to tears at various points of tiredness.

Finally, though, it feels like we’re getting over a major hump. On Tuesday, I bought an awesome new desk, to replace the one that was decimated in the moving truck. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, we set up the major living room furniture and got cable and phones installed. On Wednesday, Shannon finished painting the kitchen cabinets and doors, and on Thursday she was able to unpack most of the kitchen and I got five of the twelve doors hung. Thursday night, the new T1 was finally brought up by my ISP. And today, we bought two big dressers that will totally solve the clothing problem.

Tomorrow, I’ll shut down all the computers that still live in my old apartment in New York (including the one running this site and the MetaFilter server), drive them up to Boston, and set them all up on the new T1. Shannon and I will then immediately set to unpacking our clothes into the new dressers and unpacking some books onto the finally-finished shelves, and I think that we’ll finally feel like we’re living in a home. I cannot wait.

I’m in Boston, and have even started work; the apartment is coming along, but it’s still in the phase of requring a lot of effort getting things into a livable state. (Lucky for me, Shannon is doing a lot of painting when I’m at the hospital, and then we get to tool around together in the evenings, setting up rooms, painting, hanging cabinet doors, and other domestic stuff.)

I promise more updates, including before and after pictures, when things settle down a little bit. Next up: the T1 provisioning, the installation of our cable TV and phone lines, the delivery of a new desk (to replace the one that got pretty hosed in the move), and the possiblity of a fully functioning kitchen in the next 24-48 hours.

P.S. Happy 30th birthday to me!