Thursday, June 26, 2003

I'm <i>sure</i> I'm smarter than the car seat. Maybe.

Just staggered in after 11 hours of travel (though only 5 1/2 hours of actual flight), returning from two weeks of family time on the east coast. And this was special air travel: our 7 month old tagged along, as did her 50 tons of paraphernelia.

I'm exaggerating. We packed pretty light, and Lord knows the baby handled herself like a pro. Each way, she only cried for two or three minutes during landing: flying east, because she was bored, and flying west, because we woke her up to put her in the car seat.

Which brings me to the only blight on an otherwise flawless Baby Travel experience.

See, we have this wonderful fancy expensive car seat, and we didn't want to buy another when we got to the east coast. Plus, we wanted to use it on the plane. Thus, Car Seat was among the paraphernelia we lugged.
It was my job to install and uninstall the car seat as appropriate. Normally this isn't a big deal, and on the plane it went in without much trouble. (The seat belt passes through a sturdy channel near the back of the baby seat.) After I tightened the belt, though, I noticed a problem. While seat belts in cars have the buckles on the side, airplane buckles are in the middle. And while car belt buckles usually release with a button, airplane belt buckles usually release via a big pivoting faceplate.
These two factors made the car seat easy to install, but hell to uninstall. The buckle, buried in the depths of the car seat channel, was difficult (though not impossible) to reach. But the buckle's faceplate, nestled tightly against the side of the channel, didn't have enough clearance to pivot. And no pivot, no unbuckle.
Upon landing, I wrestled helplessly with the seat for ten minutes, and soon began to wonder if the airline would just like to buy the damn thing from me. Finally, though, I twisted the mess enough to wrench the plate open, and then worked the buckle free. Bruised but victorious, I plodded out of the plane as the last flight attendants were leaving.
On the flight back, hoping to avoid such a battle, I tried to find a different way to thread the belt. This resulted in several variants of Jammed, Unusable Car Seat. Soon, and for the first time in my life, I was That Guy Several Rows Up That is Keeping the Plane from Taking Off, Dammit. Don't you hate that guy?
On the verge of a nervous breakdown, I managed to summon a flight attendant, and got him to show me how the belts release at the anchor point. (In addition to the buckle, seat belts can detach from the seat. There's a little sliding thing that reveals a hook that just comes off.) This got me out of Jammed, Unusable Car Seat, and made a much more reasonable installation possible.
This would all have seemed less insane if they'd actually let us board a little early. Remember the good old days (like, a few months ago) when they'd offer for Families with Young Children or Special Needs to board at the same time as First Class? Well, word got out that I finally have a kid, so they put a stop to that luxury. We boarded with our seating section, which meant I had about four minutes to install the car seat before I became That Guy.
But, um, other than the car seat thing (can you tell I'm bitter?), it was a great trip. And, as with all good trips, the best part is finally coming home.
Mmmmm... Home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


Via Lessig Blog, Cabinet Magazine has a chilling graph showing the effect of various term extensions on the public domain. (If you can't read the captions, check out of the PDFs at the bottom of the page.)

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Consummate Post-It&trade;s.

It's exciting to see that the cult classic status of Trogdor the Burninator has earned him a place in the history of MIT Hacks.

If you don't know about Strong Bad or Homestar Runner, shame on you. First watch this. Then this, this and this. Then maybe some of this, then back to this, then over to this. At that point, you're ready to watch everything here, probably starting with all of these, from bottom to top.

Only then will you be forgiven.

Saturday, June 7, 2003

Now go mix me a drink.

A recent entry on In Passing makes me happy.

It also makes me happy to live in an area where things like this are overheard.

Friday, June 6, 2003

Grinding Nemo

Dan Lyke mentions an SFGate article about how a flushed fish would definitely not survive all the way to the ocean. (This has some relevance to events in Finding Nemo.)

But Dan went the extra mile, and contacted a sewage grinder company for more info.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

I'll have to work on that one.

I've become a big fan of foosball in the last couple years. I'm even half-decent, though there are people at work that can still trounce me readily.

And then there are people like this. (Via memepool.)

I hope you don't mind: I'm recording our conversation.

Ed Felton has an excellent post about conflict of interest and privacy expectations in blogging. Specifically, if people behave differently around journalists than they do around non-journalists, how should they behave around bloggers? What about when everyone's a blogger?

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

It's the Hollis/Amtrak line, you moron.

There's this bus that runs near my work. Like many buses, it has a little matrix of LEDs on the back that can spell out a few characters. This particular bus chooses to display two letters: "HA". And they blink on and off every couple seconds.

So most days I end up behind this bus, and it laughs at me. Derisively, I can only assume. In my mind, I hear the cold, cruel monotone of a Speak and Spell™ mocking me: "HA... HA... HA... HA...".

The bus. It knows my secrets.

What can you get for a dollar?

If you haven't already, please sign the Eldred Act petition.

In the wake of the disappointing Eldred v Ashcroft decision (which upheld the latest round of copyright term increases), Larry Lessig is pushing for a new kind of reform. Corporations are unwilling to uphold their part of the copyright bargain, and the government seems unwilling to force them to. Perhaps we can't expect profitable works to pass into the public domain as promised, but what about the thousands of unprofitable, unused works which remain locked up in copyright by default? Vast portions of our culture and history are inaccessible and unusable, just so that a handful of works can still profit.

The Eldred Act aims to fix this. The idea: charge $1 to extend a work's copyright beyond 50 years. Corporations unwilling to relinquish control would pay $1 and continue to profit, but any work which is not specifically extended every five years will pass into the public domain.

If you believe in the importance of the public domain, please sign the petition.

Monday, June 2, 2003

70 Million Smackeroos.

Finding Nemo has made 70.6 million dollars in its first three days of release. This breaks all sorts of records, including biggest opening weekend for an animated film, biggest opening day for an animated film, and biggest single day (Saturday) for an animated film. (The above number is a projection made early Sunday; later today we'll find out what the exact number is.)

I didn't work as much on this film as I did on previous ones--I've been working on tools for future films. And in any case, I'm a simple purveyor of rendering software--not a screenwriter, animator, or other kind of artist. But I'm happy to work alongside the kind of people who can make such fun, beautiful movies.

And speaking of fame on the merit of association: my baby girl Emma is in the credits, in the "Production Babies" section right near the end. Watch for it!

UPDATE: 70.6 was just a projection. The final numbers are in: 70.9 million.