Category Archives: earth

Print Toner Return

ink packagePrinter ink is a big scam, and the scam is not limited to ink jet printers. I have a laser printer and recently discovered that the cartridge it comes with only contains half of the normal amount of toner. In any case, I was convinced by picture of the molecular structure of printer toner that I should avoid eBay refills and go straight for the giant, name brand, costs-more-than-the-printer cartridge. There is one thing this company does right though: they provide free shipping for the return and recycling of the old cartridge. While I doubt their motivation is truly a heartfelt environmental concern, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to pollute the earth with a giant hunk of plastic and chemicals in addition to paying a hefty price for all those time I actually printed “this page for your records.”

A9 Street Photography

Amazon is taking a novel approach to search engine competition. Instead of trying to make a better website search than Google (which is near perfect already), they seem to be thinking up things to search. Books were an obvious place to start, but their new yellow pages search has a very cool option to search photographs of entire city streets. You can “walk” up or down the street and see how it looked last time the A9 truck drove by (which, in the case of Boston was during the summer).
Because the camera on the truck stays parallel to the angle of the street, you can get a view of San Francisco as though the entire city was stretched flat. Take a ride on San Francisco’s #24 bus up Divisidero to see what I’m talking about.
It’ll be interesting to see Google’s response to this. They no doubt have been planning something similar. (They did buy KeyHole after all.) I’d like to see software that integrates satellite images, aerial photographs, and street level photographs into one system. Then I’d like to see all those images mapped into some sort of video game where you fly around and shoot stuff. Let’s be honest, this stuff is more about entertainment than function.

Blizzard of 2005

There was quite a snow storm last night in much of the northeast United States. Here in Boston, the forecast actually said “blizzard”, which is an interesting word because it has no present continuous tense like other weather verbs: raining, snowing, etc. It was “blizzarding” for most of the night, and this morning there was more than two feet of snow on the ground.
I went for a walk around my neighborhood (Central Square, Cambridge) and took a few pictures:
snowy Brookline Street Central Square
There were some huge snow drifts, but the biggest heaps were plow-induced hills along the sides of the street.
snowy Middle East Restruant Cambridge
A lot of local restaurants and businesses are actually open today, but not the Middle East Restaurant which is closed due to “brrrrrrrr”.
shirtles snow shoveler
Not everyone outside is cold. This guy was apparently working up quite a sweat digging out the fire hydrant, and apparently figured that he could strengthen his macho image by wearing a considerable amount of bling around his neck.

Empire State Plaza

I mentioned yesterday that I won’t be taking the bar exam in the Pepsi Arena in Albany. Instead I’ll be taking it at the Empire State Plaza. I’ve never been to Albany, so naturally I might not know about this place. After doing a little research, I’m come to the conclusion that the Empire State Plaza is the pulsating central administrative brain that controls all of New York State. It’s part Pentagon and part Death Star – four identical skyscrapers lined up next to a giant concrete egg.
Underneath the plaza is a labyrinth of airport-like tunnels and, apparently, conference rooms. This is where I will take the NY bar exam. Check out this photo tour.

Ford Rouge Plant

ford rouge roofI took a trip to Detroit last weekend and visited Ford’s massive Rouge manufacturing facility. Ford only recently resumed tours of the plant after closing the tour about 25 years ago. The new tour is a Disneyland style “experience” with giant video screens, flashy buses (old city buses painted over to look new – but obviously old), and tour t-shirts. It was actually quite interesting.
The tour and marketing campaigns make a big point of the fact that the new assembly facility is an environmentally advanced building. The US Green Building Council has given the site a Gold LEED rating. The building features a giant green roof and a (semi) permeable parking lot.
It’s nice to see companies developing environmental buildings, but the idea of an ultra-enviro-friendly car manufacturing facility is just a little bit ridiculous. Isn’t manufacturing hundreds of gas guzzling F-150 pickups in a green building something like building WMDs in a hospital?

Annual Street Cleaning

Most street cleaning I’ve seen is done on a weekly or fortnightly basis. For some reason, my street in Boston (Park Drive) only gets cleaned one time each year. It seems the city has mistaken the concept of spring cleaning (doing a thorough cleaning in the spring) to mean “clean only once, and do it in the spring”. Nevertheless, spring is upon us and Park Drive is now clean.
So what does a year’s worth of street filth look like?
street cleaning

Munich Trip Report

Neuschwanstein CastleI just got back from a long weekend in Munich and Salzburg. Amazingly, it was the first time I’ve left the Netherlands since arriving here in January. What I really wanted to see down there was the Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen, which is featured on the cover of Blur’s Country House single. (I know that’s a weird reason to want to go to a castle, but I’m not alone.)
I traveled in style on the German ICE trains. They’re among the fastest trains in the world. They actually display the current speed in each cabin so that the passengers can occasionally look up and think, “yeah – we’re going really fast”.
I drank lots of beer and ate lots of sausage and other weird meat products, and now it’s time to get back to some work.