A perfect storm

When I got to Boston Tuesday night, the TV weather folks were talking about a probable snowstorm on Thursday. Fortunately, they were wrong; instead, today opened with light rain and above-freezing temperatures, and now they’re predicting a mixture of rain and snow (more snow outside the immediate Boston area) and then clear and cold. At this time of year, that’s not a bad deal.

Restaurant Recommendation

We had dinner at Helmand, an Afghani restaurant in Cambridge. Yummy. Highly recommended! They had traditional and non-traditional dishes (at least, I don’t think swordfish is a traditional Afghani dish), but we all stuck with traditional choices. I went for Murgh Kabob, which was a nicely spiced and marninated chicken dish (but not in bite-sized pieces).

I also enjoyed the wine — a 1998 Pouilly-Fusee (I know I spelled that wrong) White Burgundy.

Greetings from Cambridge, Massachusetts

I’m in Cambridge at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting (imagine a couple of hundred process/policy/standards weenies in one room, most of whom are taking advantage of the good Internet connectivity to do their e-mail or web browsing instead of focusing on the meeting). It’s at the Royal Sonesta hotel, which rose considerably in my estimation yesterday when they had the right kind of room waiting for me when I got here at 10pm, unlike a previous trip, when all they could offer me was an interesting variety of “nonstandard” (that is, horrible) rooms. I did help my odds this time, though, by phoning the hotel before I left home and verifying my reservation and room requirements with the front desk manager!

After unpacking, I wanted a small nosh; the nearby shops were closed, so I was at the hotel’s mercy — which translated to using the minibar for a packet of pretzels. I was appalled but not surprised at the cost ($2.50 for a 25-cent package), but I was offended by the 15% “restocking fee” that the hotel tacked on! Have they no shame?

On the other hand, I was amused by the interesting variety of stuff available in the minibar. Besides the obvious snacks and drinks, they offered a headache kit (aspirins, I guess), an “adult intimacy” kit, and an Ethernet cable. I can’t imagine that they sell all three of those to many visitors!

So far, the weather here has been just gorgeous — I took a brief walk by the river this morning before breakfast, and another one after lunch, and on a day like today, I almost make me wish I lived here. On the other hand, the weather is supposed to change significantly in a few hours and then I’ll remember why I don’t want to live here!


Click for Cambridge, Massachusetts Forecast

Televisions and Telephones — when do we get Teleportation?

I guess I have to admit it — even though we don’t watch much TV, I’m addicted to the idea of having a TV around. So, even though I had to pack last night for a trip today, I decided I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave the rest of the family TV-less while I was gone.

First step: take the old TV in to the service place offering the slow but free estimate so that we can get it fixed if possible. Other than letting me see how much working out at the Y has increased my strength, this wasn’t a problem — but next time, I will accept the proprietor’s offer to help get the TV in from the car!

Second step: do some research on the Web to figure out what to buy as an interim set. This didn’t take too long, either, and I quickly narrowed my choice to the JVC AV20120 and the Sony KV20FV12. The Sony had better reviews and more features, but it cost $150 more, and Diane reminded me that this was an interim set, which we might even donate to charity when we’re done with it, so I reluctantly agreed on the JVC.

Third step: figure out where to buy it. None of the local shops were answering their phones (one claimed they were closed; the other one’s automated attendant worked, but no one on the store floor would pick up the phone), so I couldn’t get prices directly, but I thought I’d comparison-shop the Web and then go out. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Circuit City would let me buy on the Web and pick the set up at the store the same day — this seemed to be a good mix of on-line and off-line technology, since I wouldn’t have to waste time with a salesdroid and I could still install the TV before leaving.

Fourth step: register for the Circuit City site, give them my credit card data, and make the purchase. All easy, until I got to the screen saying “we are finalizing your purchase; this may take 30 seconds or so”. 20 minutes later, I decided to go to the store anyway, figuring that I could always just buy the set as if the Web hadn’t existed.

Fifth step: check at the pickup counter at the store; they did have my order, and the TV was ready. And it was $30 less than the price on the Web site.

When I got home, my session with Circuit City had timed out; I checked my e-mail, and there was a confirmation note about the purchase, dated roughly 30 seconds after I’d pushed the “Buy” button. I guess I should’ve checked e-mail while I was waiting, but I’d call this a successful hybrid e-commerce experience anyway.

So I installed the TV, finished packing, and went to bed, since I had to get up at 5am to make my flight.

At 3:40am, the phone rings. It’s American Airlines. They’ve cancelled my flight due to a mechanical problem (I guess it was the same plane that had to make an emergency landing in San Jose yesterday), and want to know if I can take an earlier flight via Chicago. Or a flight out of San Francisco. I can’t do either of those, so they rebook me on the 1pm nonstop to Boston, and I try to go back to sleep, with limited success.

Eventually, I get up so I can tell the taxi driver not to pick me up early, and while I’m up, I look at American’s web site. They had a flight via Dallas which left only a few minutes later than the one I was originally going to take, and which would have gotten me to Boston two hours earlier than the one I’m now taking. But I was so tired I didn’t call American to get them to put me on that connection; I figured there was some reason they didn’t offer it.

This morning, after I got up again, I took another look at the site; it was too late to take the Dallas connection, but it was, indeed, operating. So I called American customer service (not toll-free, of course) and asked what had happened. They couldn’t explain it, but after talking with several agents, they eventually offered to give me a couple of thousand miles as an apology. This was better than nothing, but I was hoping that they’d give me a gratis upgrade. I may still follow up with a letter and see what happens.

Repairing things — an interesting concept

First, I called the Panasonic help line, who told me that their factory service center in South San Francisco (50 miles away) would be delighted to help me if I brought the set to them. That didn’t seem like a winning strategy, so I called the factory-authorized service shop in San Jose, who said there was a 3- or 4-week wait for an in-home service call — but I could bring it in, pay $40 for an estimate, and they could probably fix it in four to ten days.

That was better, but still not what I was looking for, so I tried a local non-authorized shop I’d used for stereo gear. The answering machine says that they’re still in business, but their hours are “by appointment only”. I left my name, e-mail address, and phone number; I’m still waiting. [Update, 4:35pm: They called back. Their free estimate has a 3-week wait. Hmmm…perhaps a 19-inch set would be a useful addition to the household electronics collection anyway; I can probably donate it to some charity if I find I don’t need it in a month or so.]

So it was off to the Yellow Pages; I picked a relatively close place that’d been in business since we moved to the area. They answered the phone, and said they could have someone out to look at the set (and haul it into the shop, if necessary) tomorrow, or I could save a few bucks and bring it in myself. But they don’t know how long it’ll take to repair the set, and I don’t know what kind of reputation they have (other than being willing to answer the phone!)

I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but it’s good to know that I don’t have to throw away the old set yet.

Pop! Click, Click, Click…sniff…smoke?

This evening, we were watching The Naked Gun — suddenly, there was a pop, and the picture vanished from the TV. Then it started making a clicking noise, which I couldn’t stop with the TV’s power button. I made a joke about the smoke coming out of the set, and then we realized that it wasn’t a joke — we could smell smoke. So I did what I should’ve done right away and unplugged the TV — that stopped the clicking, and the smoke stopped, too.

I guess we really are in the market for a new TV after all. Remind me not to joke about cars or houses!

Northern Lights?

[Update, 10:21pm PST…it doesn’t look like auroral activity is likely this far south, and it’s somewhat foggy outside anyway.]

Flu shots?

Al’s on a crusade to encourage all of us to go get
our flu shots. I became a believer two years ago, when Diane got a flu shot and I didn’t; sure enough, I spent a miserable week or so down with the flu, and she wasn’t affected at all. I’m just waiting for the vaccine to be available at work; they’ve postponed the immunization campaign to let high-risk people get it first.

It’s so easy to find useless information department

Jeffrey asked me when Rex Morgan, M. D. started, and thanks to the Web and Google, it took me less than a minute to answer his question (if I hadn’t had to wake up the computer, it would’ve been even faster). I’m still amazed how much trivia is available on the Web.

Second Thanksgiving

But once a year, the Havurah (group of friends) to which we belong flies in the face of this feature; instead, we add a day to our Thanksgiving celebration. That day, of course, is today, and so we’ll be working on our leftover supply, while playing games and chatting. It’s a far better way to celebrate than fighting the crowds at the mall!

Then later this evening, we’ll go to shul for brief Shabbat services followed by a musical evening with the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars, who will be playing at Klezmer Mania tomorrow at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. Apparently, there’s a family connection between one of the AllStars and a member of Shir Hadash, so we get a free concert.

I am thankful….

…for friends and family, near and far.

…for good health.

…that I enjoy my work.

…that people find what I write interesting enough to visit here more
than once.

…that the Web is a two-way street, so I can read your interesting
writing.

…I don’t have a bet on the election.

…that I’m not travelling over the holiday.

…that I don’t have to put up Christmas lights!

Gopher was a turkey

Today, Al points out the Gopher Manifesto, which calls for people to move away from the advertisement- and graphic-laden Web and back to the pure text simplicity of Gopher.

I remember Gopher; Gopher was very good to me, in fact. When I decided I needed to learn C programming on OS/2, I thought that a Gopher client for OS/2 would be an interesting project. That was probably the best single career decision I ever made, since it put me on the leading edge of the Internet community inside IBM, and that’s been an excellent place to be.

But the Web flattened Gopher — and it wasn’t just because of ads and eye candy. The Gopher Manifesto itself shows the basic problem with Gopher — namely, you can’t link from one Gopher document to another; only menus can have links. So the Gopher Manifesto has a long list of other pages to visit — but they’re not live links; instead, you have to manually enter them into your browser (or use cut and paste), and that, my friends, is too much work.

Gopher had some other problems (the University of Minnesota got greedy, for one thing), but basically, once people saw the value of hyperlinking within documents, it was doomed.

Urp!

We just finished Thanksgiving dinner; it was a simple affair, with turkey (the carving lessons on Tuesday helped), squash, carrots, rice, bread, stuffing, Coke salad, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and made-on-the-spot whipped cream. This year, I used the pecan pie recipe from the Karo Syrup label (some years, I go with a recipe from one of the Joy of Cooking editions I have), and it came out pretty well; the Nancy’s frozen pie crust was far better than the ones I’ve used in the past, though the crust is not the main attraction in pecan pie.

After eating, we watched some edited videos of Thanksgiving 1992 (boy, the kids looked small then!), and played a few rounds of Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond. And now it’s time to finish the cleanup and put the garbage out for tomorrow’s pickup.

Dave strikes again!

I can always tell when Scripting News links to me in the text of Dave’s log — my Site Meter referrals report is suddenly filled with visitors from Scripting News.

Report from the Probability Seminar

Last night, I went to the Shir Hadash Men’s Club meeting. The main topic was a demonstration of the right way to carve a turkey (Diane’s comment when she saw that in the temple e-mail: “At last, a useful program at Men’s Club!”), but after that, we had an informal seminar in applied probability. I almost left the seminar with a failing grade, but the last hand made up for the rest of the evening, and I finished with a 13% profit on my admission fee — or to put it differently, I won a full forty cents. If only the stock market were as kind!

Food Safety Department

The pecan pie is done; I think I want to refrigerate it overnight, but I’m not sure — I usually make it on Thanksgiving proper, but this year, we planned ahead for a change, and now I don’t know what to do!

So I asked the oracle for advice. Actually, I asked Google (using the new Google Toolbar that Joel recommended today) this question: What pies should be refrigerated? Google replied with pointers to dozens of pages, including the USDA and the Ohio State University Food Safety pages, and the consensus was clear: refrigerate pies containing eggs. And I did. I’ve had food poisoning once; I don’t want to repeat the experience.

Half a clue, half a clue, half a clue onward!

I got a response of sorts to my letter to Hilton Hotels complaining about being awakened at 7:15am on a Sunday to take a “customer satisfaction survey”. The response came from the survey firm, not Hilton:

Dear Mr. Singer:

We are very sorry for the inconvenience of our call at 7am on a Sunday
morning. Unfortunately, the call to you was supposed to be dialed at
9:15am and was instead programmed for dialing at 9:15am Central Time.
It is never our intent to wake someone up to conduct a customer
satisfaction study … especially not at 7am! We have followed up with
the interviewer who miscoded the call time and informed him of the
ramifications of the error.

Again, we sincerely apologize for this. Because of this issue, we will
remove you from any future dialing on the Hilton customer satisfaction
study.

Sincerely,

Gwen Amador
M/A/R/C Research
Account Manager
949.719.1004

c: Linda Immer
Hilton Hotels Corporation

I wonder if I’ll also get a response from Hilton. Probably not; that would require someone at Hilton being awake. But I’ll wait a few days to give them a chance before answering this letter. Politely, of course.

Working for the [long] weekend

Congratulations on homeownership, Garrett. Your wallet will never be the same.

And it’s great to see that Kaycee is doing better — it doesn’t look like she’s on the keyboard in person yet, but that can’t be far away.

Things I Learned Today

I’ve been a moderately happy IE user since moving to Win98; today, Joel‘s
review of Netscape 6 taught me two very useful IE features — features which are especially useful to reduce my mousing and keying:

  • Hit Alt-D to jump to the
    “Address” line with the whole address pre-selected (makes it easy to type a new URI).

  • Hit Ctrl-Enter to enclose whatever you’ve typed on the “Address” line between
    "http&58;//www&46;"; and
    “.com” (so
    “cnn” becomes
    http://www.cnn.com“), avoiding any conflict with locally-defined names.

Thanks, Joel!

And I also learned that Manila is very eager to turn things which look like URIs into links — I tried many tricks to avoid having it make “http://www.” into a link and finally gave up. Sorry for any confusion. And thanks to Al and Andrea for hacking at the problem — I never would have considered putting a backslash inside the “http://www.” string, which was the trick — I guess that breaks it up enough to get Manila to stop special-casing it.

I can stop watching CNN….

I subscribed my pager to their President-Elect alert, which will send out a one-time e-mail when the next president has been determined. So I guess I can expect my pager to go off at noon EST on 20 January.

Another Monday

Need I say more?

Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but even though I was busy all day, I don’t feel that I accomplished as much as I wanted to. And real soon now, I have to get down to some administrivial tasks, such as working on my “Personal Business Committments” (in other words, what I plan to do in 2000) and also writing up my yearly results. It really is considered bad form not to have the plans approved before the end of the year, though it does make it easier to hit one’s targets that way.

I also got rid of the Microsoft Trackball Explorer we bought a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like a good idea, but having both the left and right mouse buttons (and the scroll wheel) all being operated by the thumb was too much — and trying to remap the buttons screwed up the mapping on the trackpad that Diane prefers to use, so I returned it to Fry’s. For a change, I was taken care of immediately (usually, there’s a 15- or 20-minute wait; I brought a book), and the whole experience wasn’t half-bad — and the thought that we might not like the trackball is the reason we went to Fry’s in the first place. Much as I dislike some of the nonsense there, their return policy makes them my first choice when I’m experimenting with gadgets.

Sunday morning radio

I usually listen to the local all-news, classical, jazz, or classic rock station when I’m in the car. But on Sunday mornings, they often run strange programming, so all bets are off and I tune around the dial in hopes of finding something I’ll like.

This morning, as I was driving to the Y, I happened to tune into NPR’s Weekend Edition just as they were starting the puzzle segment. I liked it. In fact, I sat in the car until the segment ended, then I spent most of my exercise session thinking about the puzzle. After getting home, I kept trying different solutions until I found one that seemed to be a good candidate (10 total steps). I’m glad they put the puzzle on the website so I don’t have to listen to the show every week (is the puzzle always at the same time?).

Ruining my reputation for expertise

Al asks for my opinion on the right wines to accompany a dinner of Boeuf a la Bourguignonne. I guess my occasional “Wine of the Day” feature must sound as though I know something, rather than what it really is — a way of remembering some of the wines we drink in hopes of not buying bad ones a second time!

We hardly ever have beef at home, so I’m afraid I don’t even have any experiences to share as starting points for this one.

The Wine of the Day for Thanksgiving, by the way, will be a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Corbans Marlborough 1999), chosen through the scientific process of rushing over to the wine racks at Lunardi’s while Diane was in the checkout line and looking for the first Sauvignon Blanc which had the words “good with poultry” in the writeups on the shelves. I’ve heard good things about New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs; I hope they’re right!

Parashat Vayera

Today’s Torah portion was Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24). It’s filled with action, including the Binding of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that wasn’t what caught the eye of the person giving the drash today. Instead, she talked about the meaning of hospitality, pointing out that the sin which really sealed the doom of Sodom was the lack of hospitality, and talking about how Abram’s hospitality to the three strangers led to the birth of Isaac. And the Haftorah follows through on the same theme.

After my unfortunate experience Thursday at the Iron Cactus (followed, fortunately, by the great treatment I received at Taco Cabana), I wish that people in the hospitality industry would read the Torah!

United Airlines keeps trying to make good for their summer problems; today’s mail said that I could have my choice of 15,000 miles or two confirmable domestic upgrades as yet another apology for any inconvenience I might have suffered during the summer (this is on top of double mileage for my travel since May and a reduced mileage level to requalify for Premier). I’d really prefer it if they spread out the seats throughout the cabin, not just in the first few rows of Coach, and if they’d serve food on any flight over two hours, not just those which fit their definition of “mealtime”. But since they’re not likely to take those measures, which actually cost money, I guess I should be happy that they want my business enough to try to bribe me for it.

Technology: No place for wimps!

I’m sitting in the Austin Admiral’s Club waiting for my flight home. American has cut a deal with MobileStar to offer wireless LAN access, and the price seemed reasonable, so I thought I’d give it a shot. One hour later, I was still unconnected, though I’d had a very pleasant conversation with MobileStar’s tech support, and I was about to give up, when another weary traveller (all travellers are weary — it’s part of the job description) came in and connected wirelessly with no problem.

I asked him what he’d done, and he said he connected through Wayport. So I tried to do that, and hey, presto — I connected up on the first try. Even better, Wayport is offering free access until the end of the year, a price even better than reasonable.

And here I thought I wouldn’t be able to flip my page today, at least not without using a phone line.

MobileStar just told me that they do, indeed, have a down access point here at the airport. So maybe they’ll work better next try.

Home again

I hadn’t come back to San Jose on a Friday night in a long time, so I was surprised to see a very long line of passengers waiting for taxis. Fortunately, the taxi starter was helpful and tried to double-up passengers heading in the same direction, and I got lucky and got paired and out of the airport quite a bit sooner than I would have if I’d had to wait in the entire line. And the driver was happy, collecting almost two fares (and, I’m sure, reporting only one fare to the company). Now I get to stay home for a few days — I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend and a quieter week at work next week, before things heat up again after Thanksgiving.

Shabbat Shalom!

So much for knowing where I am….

I had two GPS disappointments on my journey from San Jose last night. The first was on American Airlines, as the flight attendant asked me to turn my GPS off — apparently, they’ve decided that there is a microscopic chance of interfering with aircraft navigation systems (or, perhaps, they’re tired of passengers asking why the plane isn’t flying in a direct route to the destination!), and so the latest list of prohibited devices includes GPS receivers (but only in the English-language list — the Spanish and French lists hadn’t been revised). Naturally, I complied — there’s no way to win an argument in that situation, and, technically speaking, attempting to do so may be a felony.

Once I landed in Austin, I thought I’d be all set, though; I’d built a route from the airport to my hotel and had loaded it into the GPS, and the GPS worked beautifully. Unfortunately, the route that Street Atlas had computed didn’t match reality, and I found myself way off course — I knew I was off course (thanks to the GPS) but I couldn’t figure out how to recover (thanks to not having a decent paper map). Fortunately, my cellphone worked, and I had the hotel phone number, so they were able to talk me in. But I would have been better off staying with the tried-and-true technology of printing the directions from the hotel’s web page and following them.

This morning came awfully early.

Avoid the Iron Cactus in Austin

Tonight, I almost had dinner at the Iron Cactus restaurant on Stonelake in Austin. I was here to participate in a press event, and the hosts had arranged a group dinner there. But the restaurant wasn’t at all flexible about catering to the needs of the guests — apparently, they’d proposed a menu with three choices, and if the guests didn’t like any of them, too bad. They eventually agreed to let a few of us order from the real menu because of food allergies or vegetarianism, but it was clearly being done under protest, and I decided I didn’t want to take the chance of having them cook my meal with shrimp and then remove it before serving it. So I left (the fact that the restaurant was horribly noisy didn’t make me want to stay, either — and the noise level was obviously by design, since the restaurant was all done in stone and tile) and went to Taco Cabana, which I’d walked past earlier in the evening.

Taco Cabana turned out to be a fast-food Tex-Mex place, but it was clean, simple, and good, and they were accomodating — I didn’t like the desserts they offered, so I asked the manager if he knew where there was an ice cream place in the area. He didn’t, so he asked his kitchen staff for recommendations for me, settling on Amy’s Ice Cream a few blocks away, which I also enjoyed.

I’m glad I decided to leave the Iron Cactus; I caught up with the group when they got back to the hotel, and several of them were complaining about sore throats from having to yell across the table.

Things you find out from referer logs

I look at my referer page and my Site Meter page from time to time, and today, I notice that someone was sent to my July 24 page via a Google search for “22 Paper Jam”. On that day, I was talking about the problems I was having with my Optra R printer; I’m happy to note (if I haven’t already) that I was finally able to fix the problem by replacing the paper tray, which got damaged when it was shoved back into the printer too quickly.

Another quickie

I’m off to Austin later this afternoon, arriving far too late to want to update my page (not so much because it’ll be late when I arrive as much as it’ll be morning much earlier than I like tomorrow). I suspect the election coverage in the American-Statesman is far different in flavor to that in the Mercury News.

We just got back from the 1st quarter parent/teacher conference; no surprises, which is good (pleasant surprises would be better, but the teacher’s done a good job of keeping us informed all along).

Silence is golden

So I won’t say anything about today’s edition of the Florida Follies.

I also will be losing my network connection in a few minutes (the perils of having one’s employer be one’s ISP…when they do maintenance, access from home goes away too), so I don’t have anytime to say anything profound.

But I didn’t want to miss a day, hence this brief entry.

A quietly busy Sunday

Today was the last day of Pete and Debbie’s visit, so a trip to SFO was on the agenda for the afternoon. Before that, though, we had to take Jeffrey to Sunday school (though apparently a lot of people took the day off — he said there were only five other kids in his class today!), and I returned the remains of our door installation project to Home Depot. It was very difficult to get their count of what I was returning to match what I’d brought back — and no, they weren’t using a butterfly ballot. Instead, it was an unwillingness to move 80-pound bags of stucco around to find a small piece of wood and scan it — but eventually, we reached an agreement and I got my refund. Then, to my delight, I found out that I was also entitled to a refund for some unused labor on the installation, so all in all, it was a moderately successful and financially painless trip.

Even though Pete and Debbie had a 4pm flight, they didn’t want to take any chances on missing it, so we left for lunch and the airport at 12:30, arriving at the airport just after 2pm. And then they got in the endless United check-in line; I had forgotten how poorly airlines treat “regular” (non-elite-level) passengers, since I do almost all my flying on airlines where I have elite status. Not only was there a very long queue, but they hadn’t been given pre-assigned seats and couldn’t get two seats together — they did manage to score exit-row seats, but they were middle seats.

We saw them off (SFO is not a bad place to kill an hour, especially if you’re carrying anything — the bookstore in the United concourse is very nice, as is the fast-food court there), and then headed back home, returning library books and a tuxedo along the way. Then I had my new watch’s band resized so I could actually wear it, and that was about the end of the productive activity for today.

Bypassing a Microsoft bug

In today’s Scripting News, Dave Winer complains that the MSIE 5.5 text entry box has a bug making it impossible to select one-and-a-fraction words, because the selection moves backwards to encompass a whole word. This is true, but only if you use the mouse; if you use the keyboard to manipulate the selection, you can select any portion of the text you like.

20/10

ice sculpture: Tonight is Shir Hadash’s 20/10 Gala (celebrating 20 years of the congregation and 10 years with Rabbi Aron). We’ll be there — I’ve even rented a tux. Sheesh!

dressed up for the gala: All dressed up for the Shir Hadash 20/10 Gala

Book of the Day

Actually, it’s a trilogy — Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. I just finished volume 1, The Golden Compass and have started volume 2, His Subtle Knife. Officially, these are children’s books, but I don’t think I’d describe them as such; they are quite a bit darker and more grown-up than the Harry Potter books.

Analysis of the 2000 Presidential Election

I’ve done more analysis of proportional allocation, and it can, perhaps, be made to work, but it’s hokey. Let’s start with the raw popular vote (courtesy of ABC News’ website):

State Electoral
Votes
Bush Gore Nader Buchanan
Alabama 9 940153 694734 17983 6303
Alaska 3 134829 63437 22601 4194
Arizona 8 673657 609937 40301 10903
Arkansas 6 469918 417949 13205 10936
California 54 4054756 5254500 372543 39897
Colorado 8 883858 738378 91461 10479
Connecticut 8 544704 789532 59950 4382
Delaware 3 137081 180638 8288 775
District of Columbia 3 17020 162004 9925 0
Florida 25 2910203 2909872 96844 17358
Georgia 13 1404058 1101101 0 10868
Hawaii 4 137785 205209 21609 1071
Idaho 4 336299 138354 0 7687
Illinois 22 2012154 2566489 103028 16060
Indiana 12 1231713 888201 0 17173
Iowa 7 628716 633969 27898 6942
Kansas 6 614419 391026 35583 7239
Kentucky 8 869946 637518 23125 4181
Louisiana 9 924670 789837 20817 14478
Maine 4 283988 315466 37757 4315
Maryland 10 770911 1093344 51078 4067
Massachusetts 12 876106 1610175 173758 11086
Michigan 18 1936288 2140755 81089 0
Minnesota 10 1110192 1168091 126579 22256
Mississippi 7 548634 399306 7890 2233
Missouri 11 1189521 1110826 38488 9806
Montana 3 239755 137264 24487 5735
Nebraska 5 408719 215616 22975 3431
Nevada 4 301539 279949 15004 4747
New Hampshire 4 273135 265853 22156 2603
New Jersey 15 1247791 1729021 92333 6868
New Mexico 5 258795 267501 19911 1347
New York 33 2218620 3742101 222075 33202
North Carolina 14 1607238 1236721 0 8971
North Dakota 3 175547 95723 9524 7330
Ohio 21 2294049 2117555 114474 25980
Oklahoma 8 744335 474326 0 9014
Oregon 7 667803 671178 68175 6490
Pennsylvania 23 2264309 2465412 102453 16879
Rhode Island 4 132212 252844 24115 2250
South Carolina 8 804826 578143 21008 3540
South Dakota 3 190515 118750 0 3314
Tennessee 11 1056480 977789 19694 4218
Texas 32 3796249 2427785 137706 12423
Utah 5 512161 201732 35661 9277
Vermont 3 119273 148166 19810 2182
Virginia 13 1426951 1216925 58864 5578
Washington 11 794567 883794 69578 4953
West Virginia 5 329708 291088 10440 3101
Wisconsin 11 1235991 1242115 92925 11206
Wyoming 3 147674 60421 0 2724
Total 538 48889821 49108420 2685168 442052

Now, if we allocate the electoral votes in each state in strict proportion to the popular vote in the state, we get this result:

State Bush Gore Nader Buchanan
Alabama 5.1 3.769 0.098 0.034
Alaska 1.797 0.846 0.301 0.056
Arizona 4.038 3.656 0.242 0.065
Arkansas 3.092 2.75 0.087 0.072
California 22.522 29.187 2.069 0.222
Colorado 4.101 3.426 0.424 0.049
Connecticut 3.116 4.516 0.343 0.025
Delaware 1.258 1.658 0.076 0.007
District of Columbia 0.27 2.572 0.158 0
Florida 12.26 12.259 0.408 0.073
Georgia 7.255 5.689 0 0.056
Hawaii 1.507 2.245 0.236 0.012
Idaho 2.789 1.147 0 0.064
Illinois 9.423 12.019 0.482 0.075
Indiana 6.916 4.987 0 0.096
Iowa 3.392 3.42 0.151 0.037
Kansas 3.517 2.238 0.204 0.041
Kentucky 4.535 3.323 0.121 0.022
Louisiana 4.756 4.062 0.107 0.074
Maine 1.771 1.967 0.235 0.027
Maryland 4.016 5.696 0.266 0.021
Massachusetts 3.936 7.234 0.781 0.05
Michigan 8.382 9.267 0.351 0
Minnesota 4.574 4.813 0.522 0.092
Mississippi 4.009 2.917 0.058 0.016
Missouri 5.571 5.203 0.18 0.046
Montana 1.766 1.011 0.18 0.042
Nebraska 3.14 1.657 0.177 0.026
Nevada 1.995 1.852 0.099 0.031
New Hampshire 1.938 1.886 0.157 0.018
New Jersey 6.085 8.431 0.45 0.033
New Mexico 2.363 2.443 0.182 0.012
New York 11.778 19.866 1.179 0.176
North Carolina 7.887 6.069 0 0.044
North Dakota 1.828 0.997 0.099 0.076
Ohio 10.583 9.769 0.528 0.12
Oklahoma 4.85 3.091 0 0.059
Oregon 3.307 3.323 0.338 0.032
Pennsylvania 10.74 11.694 0.486 0.08
Rhode Island 1.285 2.458 0.234 0.022
South Carolina 4.574 3.286 0.119 0.02
South Dakota 1.828 1.14 0 0.032
Tennessee 5.646 5.226 0.105 0.023
Texas 19.058 12.188 0.691 0.062
Utah 3.375 1.329 0.235 0.061
Vermont 1.236 1.536 0.205 0.023
Virginia 6.849 5.841 0.283 0.027
Washington 4.986 5.546 0.437 0.031
West Virginia 2.599 2.294 0.082 0.024
Wisconsin 5.265 5.291 0.396 0.048
Wyoming 2.101 0.86 0 0.039
Total 260.965 259.95 14.562 2.493

We can already see one oddity creeping in — though Gore has the most popular votes in the nation, Bush has the most electoral votes in this scheme, but not enough to elect him.

But fractional electoral votes seem hokey to me, so let’s simply round every candidate’s electoral votes to the nearest integer. In some cases, this results in an under- or over-allocation of electoral votes. And in all cases, Buchanan’s allocation is zero, so we’ll drop him from the rest of this discussion.

State Bush Gore Nader Difference
Alabama 5 4 0 0
Alaska 2 1 0 0
Arizona 4 4 0 0
Arkansas 3 3 0 0
California 23 29 2 0
Colorado 4 3 0 1
Connecticut 3 5 0 0
Delaware 1 2 0 0
District of Columbia 0 3 0 0
Florida 12 12 0 1
Georgia 7 6 0 0
Hawaii 2 2 0 0
Idaho 3 1 0 0
Illinois 9 12 0 1
Indiana 7 5 0 0
Iowa 3 3 0 1
Kansas 4 2 0 0
Kentucky 5 3 0 0
Louisiana 5 4 0 0
Maine 2 2 0 0
Maryland 4 6 0 0
Massachusetts 4 7 1 0
Michigan 8 9 0 1
Minnesota 5 5 1 -1
Mississippi 4 3 0 0
Missouri 6 5 0 0
Montana 2 1 0 0
Nebraska 3 2 0 0
Nevada 2 2 0 0
New Hampshire 2 2 0 0
New Jersey 6 8 0 1
New Mexico 2 2 0 1
New York 12 20 1 0
North Carolina 8 6 0 0
North Dakota 2 1 0 0
Ohio 11 10 1 -1
Oklahoma 5 3 0 0
Oregon 3 3 0 1
Pennsylvania 11 12 0 0
Rhode Island 1 2 0 1
South Carolina 5 3 0 0
South Dakota 2 1 0 0
Tennessee 6 5 0 0
Texas 19 12 1 0
Utah 3 1 0 1
Vermont 1 2 0 0
Virginia 7 6 0 0
Washington 5 6 0 0
West Virginia 3 2 0 0
Wisconsin 5 5 0 1
Wyoming 2 1 0 0
Total 263 259 7 9

Bush’s lead has increased, but we’re not done. Now, let’s take the under- or over-allocation in each state and assign it to the leader in that state.

State Bush Gore Nader
Alabama 5 4 0
Alaska 2 1 0
Arizona 4 4 0
Arkansas 3 3 0
California 23 29 2
Colorado 4 4 0
Connecticut 3 5 0
Delaware 1 2 0
District of Columbia 0 3 0
Florida 12 13 0
Georgia 7 6 0
Hawaii 2 2 0
Idaho 3 1 0
Illinois 9 13 0
Indiana 7 5 0
Iowa 3 4 0
Kansas 4 2 0
Kentucky 5 3 0
Louisiana 5 4 0
Maine 2 2 0
Maryland 4 6 0
Massachusetts 4 7 1
Michigan 8 10 0
Minnesota 5 4 1
Mississippi 4 3 0
Missouri 6 5 0
Montana 2 1 0
Nebraska 3 2 0
Nevada 2 2 0
New Hampshire 2 2 0
New Jersey 6 9 0
New Mexico 2 3 0
New York 12 20 1
North Carolina 8 6 0
North Dakota 2 1 0
Ohio 11 9 1
Oklahoma 5 3 0
Oregon 3 4 0
Pennsylvania 11 12 0
Rhode Island 1 3 0
South Carolina 5 3 0
South Dakota 2 1 0
Tennessee 6 5 0
Texas 19 12 1
Utah 3 2 0
Vermont 1 2 0
Virginia 7 6 0
Washington 5 6 0
West Virginia 3 2 0
Wisconsin 5 6 0
Wyoming 2 1 0
Total 263 268 7

Now, Gore is back in the lead, but still short of a majority. So let’s allocate Nader’s votes to the leader in each state.

State Bush Gore
Alabama 5 4
Alaska 2 1
Arizona 4 4
Arkansas 3 3
California 23 31
Colorado 4 4
Connecticut 3 5
Delaware 1 2
District of Columbia 0 3
Florida 12 13
Georgia 7 6
Hawaii 2 2
Idaho 3 1
Illinois 9 13
Indiana 7 5
Iowa 3 4
Kansas 4 2
Kentucky 5 3
Louisiana 5 4
Maine 2 2
Maryland 4 6
Massachusetts 4 8
Michigan 8 10
Minnesota 5 5
Mississippi 4 3
Missouri 6 5
Montana 2 1
Nebraska 3 2
Nevada 2 2
New Hampshire 2 2
New Jersey 6 9
New Mexico 2 3
New York 12 21
North Carolina 8 6
North Dakota 2 1
Ohio 11 10
Oklahoma 5 3
Oregon 3 4
Pennsylvania 11 12
Rhode Island 1 3
South Carolina 5 3
South Dakota 2 1
Tennessee 6 5
Texas 19 13
Utah 3 2
Vermont 1 2
Virginia 7 6
Washington 5 6
West Virginia 3 2
Wisconsin 5 6
Wyoming 2 1
Total 263 275

And we see that Gore would be elected, which is the result I personally would like — but by this point, we’ve made so many arbitrary decisions to get integral electoral votes and a final result that I suspect going to the House would be a better answer.

Election speculation

In the wake of this week’s never-ending recount, there have been a number of proposals to change the way the President is elected.

One of those, direct election, would complete the transformation of the United States from a republic to a democracy (and it would obviously have ended up with a Gore win) — but it would need a Constitutional amendment, and, as the Curmudgeon pointed out on Wednesday, there are enough small states which would significantly lose power to make it unlikely that the necessary number of states would ratify such an amendment.

The other proposals retain the Electoral College. One of those would allocate each state’s electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in that state, and the other would give one electoral vote to the winner of each Congressional district and two more to the winner of the state as a whole. Both of those preserve, to some extent, the power of the smaller states, but they avoid the huge amplification effect we’ve seen this year.

The proportional allocation proposal is very subject to choices in rounding rules — assuming each candidate must be given an integral number of electoral votes, you can still get very interesting results. For example, look at Minnesota’s totals:

Gore:    1110192  48.13%
Bush:    1168091  45.74% 
Nader:    126579   5.22%
Buchanan:  22256   0.92%

Minnesota has 10 electoral votes; should Nader get one of those votes? If so, should it be taken from Gore or Bush?

Allocating the votes on a district-by-district basis would avoid those particular errors. I can’t find district-by-district returns anywhere to do an analysis, though.

A Modest Proposal

I did some more analysis of what would happen if electoral votes were allocated in proportion to the popular vote in each state; it’s too long to put inline here, but feel free to read the details. In short, though, getting to a clear result requires a number of steps, and it’s not clear that it’d work any better than today’s system.

And that raises another question

If the election does go to the House, each state gets one vote. The Republicans control the House (both in the old and new Congresses), but which party controls more state delegations? I can’t find the data in a compact, crunchable form anywhere…does anyone reading this know?

Wine of the Night

When Jeffrey had his Walkathon last month, we bid on and won a French Wine and Chocolate basket. Tonight, after watching Duck Soup, we decided it was time to try it. The chocolate (Rumpelmayer Angelina 72%) was ok, but the wine was a real winner! It was a Chateau Mossé 1995 Vignes des Causses, Appellation Rivesaltes Contrôlée, and I highly recommend it with chocolate (it would probably go well with cheese, too, much like a port).

Since none of us liked the French chocolate much, we decided to see if any of the other chocolates would go well with the wine. My favorite was a Leysieffer Halbherbe Schokolade 55%, and Diane liked that one, too. We also tried three flavors of Droste pastilles (milk, bittersweet, and orange — I didn’t particularly like the bittersweet but the other two were OK, and Pete thought the orange pastille was the best chocolate we had), an 85% Leysieffer (which, though it was chocolate of the year in 1998, didn’t do much for any of us), Callebaut Extra Fine Milk Chocolate (Jeffrey’s favorite (no, he didn’t get the wine)), a Hershey bar (Debbie’s favorite), Dove Promises, and Double Chocolate Frangos. Not a bad way to spend an evening, and I can still type, even though we did kill the wine.

Where are the fact-checkers?

The online version of the story also omits the photo showing us and the remains of our lunch (I wanted to clear the tray, but the photographer said “no”), but through the miracle of modern technology, I can repair that omission.

15 minutes of fame (after lunch): From the San Jose Mercury News, 9 November 2000, page 17A.  Reprinted without permission.And, of course, the online version will vanish in a day or so, while the paper version will live on in landfills for centuries to come. So I’ve captured the online version here, complete with original typos.

The New Yorker did better on accuracy when they did a story on “where e-mail goes” — their fact checkers called several times, once to verify that you could, indeed, see mountains when sitting in the IBM Almaden cafeteria. On the other hand, they didn’t like my actual title (Senior Technical Staff Member) and had me make up something slightly crisper (and I’ve forgotten what I made up), so you can’t rely on them 100%, either!

Free Ice Cream

We had a Webvan delivery this morning — as always, they were on time and courteous. Unlike previous deliveries, though, this time the ice cream was very soft; the driver said it had been in the freezer compartment on the truck, but “maybe there was no dry ice”. I called to complain, and the customer service rep immediately credited our account for the price of the ice cream and said she’d check with the warehouse to make sure they’re putting dry ice on the trucks. I’d really rather have had the ice cream arrive solidly frozen, though — tonight, we’ll have to do a quality assurance test on it.

It ain't over till it's over

When I went to bed last night, it looked like Bush had won, so when I picked up the paper a few minutes ago and the headline said “Too Close to Call”, I thought they’d gone to print before 11pm Pacific and didn’t pay any attention. But I decided to check the Web anyway, and was surprised when CNN said that there was going to be a recount in Florida.

It’s too late to do anything to affect the outcome, but I can still hope.

Media Lunch

Pete, Debbie, Diane and I had lunch at Falafel’s Drive In, a San Jose institution; while we were finishing up, the people at the next table introduced themselves as a reporter and photographer from the San Jose Mercury News and wanted to know if they could ask us a few questions about our reaction to the election and take some photos.

We were game, and wound up talking with them for about 15 minutes, describing how we were following the news last night on TV and Internet, and how I tried to get news during dinner using my cellphone and Sprint’s “Wireless Web” but failed (and I tried again while we were talking and got similarly useless stories), and how Jeffrey was so interested he wouldn’t go to bed until after 11. I don’t know if any of our conversation will actually make it to the paper; I guess we’ll find out tomorrow, probably before we know who got elected!

The reporter did like Pete’s quote: “It felt like we had flipped a coin and it landed on its edge.”

How many votes does usability cost?

The Curmudgeon has a truly informative interactive graph showing just how far out of balance the Buchanan vote in Palm Beach County was compared to the rest of the state. And Dan Bricklin’s discussion of Ballot Usability in Florida is worth reading, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel has a long article from the scene of the crime (I guess that’s a bit judgmental on my part, isn’t it?). And the Jerusalem Post says
in the end, it came down to bubbe and zayde“.

Non-political commentary site of the day

Microsith. May the farce be with you, and thanks for the pointer, Doc.

Election Day!

Finally, it’s Election Day. Soon, I’ll be able to stop tossing the hit pieces from the various candidates into the recycling bin and get on with the usual work of the season: tossing holiday catalogs from various companies into the recycling bin.

Vote early, vote often, vote Gore!

Diane and I just voted — the precinct is very conveniently located at Jeffrey’s school, so we usually vote at 8:30am, right after walking him over to school. This morning, there was a longer line to vote than I’ve ever seen, and the election worker who signed me in said that it was a very heavy turnout so far. I’m always surprised that I’m not asked to show ID to vote, just to sign, though the people working the precinct here have been doing it for years and years and know most of the people in the neighborhood by sight if not necessarily by name.

The house directly across the street from the school has an enormous Bush sign in its yard; I wonder how far from the actual polling place electioneering is prohibited? The answer: Any “electioneering” must be conducted from a minimum of 100 feet from the place where people are voting. (EC &167;18370), as quoted on the California Secretary of State’s website. I’m pretty sure that this sign is at least that far away, since it’s on the house, not at the front of the yard, and all the way across the street — my GPS isn’t accurate enough to measure it that precisely, I’m afraid.

How the hell am I supposed to decide?

I got a note yesterday from “Paid Prescriptions, LLC,” the manager of my prescription drug benefit program, telling me that they’d suggested to my doctor that I be switched from Nasarel to Nasacort, a “preferred medication”, and that he had agreed to the switch. They also mention that “Your decision to change to the preferred medication is voluntary and does not determine benefit coverage.”

How am I supposed to know whether to accept this change or not? If the doctor had prescribed Nasacort in the first place, I would’ve been just as happy as I am with Nasarel, I’m sure, but now I have to wonder if the substitution is really a good idea or not.

Al?
James? Any comments? (Not necessarily on this particular substitution, but on the general case.)

The Wireless Web loses the election

We went out for dinner tonight, and naturally we were all interested in what election news was available. So I used my Sprint phone to check the CNN.com “Wireless Web” site and was horribly disappointed — the news was old and hard to read; in fact, they didn’t even bother to give a total electoral vote number in the stories they ran. The New York Times’ site was worse — it still had the morning’s stories. So much for modern technology. I’m glad to be back home with a connection to the real Web, though I’m not happy with some of the news I’m reading (especially Florida).

We seem to have a political junkie in the house

Jeffrey is having another sleepless night — he’s been watching TV all night (as have we all), and just came out of his room to tell us to let him know if they announce who’s going to become President.

I’m afraid he, and all of us, are going to be waiting a long time. I just hope the result isn’t what I’m afraid it’s going to be, with another Bush league presidency looming.

The people have spoken

Or at least the media has decided that the people have spoken. We survived Reagan. We survived Bush the first. We should be able to survive Bush the second. I hope.

On vacation at home

Pete and Debbie’s plane finally arrived at SFO at about 7:15 last night, more than three hours late, and by the time we got home (after stopping to feed them — since the flight was only supposed to be two hours long, there was no food on board other than pretzels and “nutritional bars”), it was quite late.

We’re supposed to be on vacation this week, but since Jeffrey’s in school, we can’t go very far. Today, we took a nice walk after breakfast; then, since it was lunchtime, we walked to lunch — the same walk, as it happens, since that’s where the closest restaurants are. Oh, well, I needed the exercise!

After that, I had a conference call I couldn’t avoid (I’d suggested scheduling it for today before realizing I was “on vacation”), and then we visited the Saab dealer to get our new, slightly smaller keys, and then Fry’s to return my failed X-10 ActiveHome controller. Returning things to Fry’s is always an experience — this one only cost me an hour or so. And they didn’t have any more ActiveHome controllers (they had a huge stack a week ago; maybe they were all bad?), so I’ll have to find one elsewhere later on.

This is definitely not a high-pressure vacation so far.

How do you read a ruler?

I got an odd e-mail from my mother yesterday. One of our cousins is a teacher in Richmond, and she asked Mom if I could find anything on teaching the kind of “rulers” I used to use in school. I guessed that what was meant was slide rules, and I sent off a pointer to Sphere Research’s Slide Rule Universe, which has more than you need to know about slide rules — and even a 43-page brochure from Pickett on teaching the slide rule.

This morning, I got a reply from my cousin — she didn’t mean slide rules — she meant rulers. Plain old regular rulers. Apparently some of her 10th grade students can’t read them, and it’s not covered in high school curricula.

I did a search, with limited success; I don’t know if it’ll help her or not (I did find a $149 instructional videotape on the subject, as well as some porn — I doubt either of these will be useful), but we’ll see.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

I’ve had mixed experiences with technology today, and for a change, none of it is work-related.

Shir Hadash held a blood drive this morning, and I’d signed up to donate. But when they signed me in, the computer printed “Not Eligible” on the form — this alarmed me, since I couldn’t think of any reason I wouldn’t be eligible to donate, unless they’d found something bad in my blood from a previous donation. So the head nurse called back to the home base, where they discovered that I’d been deferred last time because I’d taken antibiotics within 72 hours of trying to donate, and someone had coded my record to indicate that I was taking them on a regular basis and was unable to donate because of that. Fortunately, that’s not the case — but no one was available at the blood bank who could update the records, and so they couldn’t take my blood. *sigh* I had a doughnut anyway.

We’re also waiting for my brother-in-law and his wife to arrive from Denver, where the weather is apparently dreadful. I used United’s “Flight Paging” service to have updates on their progress sent to my cellphone, and it’s worked wonderfully well — I got a page two hours before their scheduled arrival, then another one twenty minutes later telling me that they’d be an hour late, and another one just a few minutes ago telling me that the flight would be over two hours late. Pete also called from the plane to tell me that, while it pushed back from the gate almost on time, they were waiting for de-icing, with no estimated actual takeoff time. So thanks to modern technology, I’m sitting comfortably at home instead of paying $4/hour in parking fees to wait at SFO.

A minimal Friday entry

I don’t have very much to talk about today — I had an early phone call, and, as often happens on such days, I wound up spending the day working from home instead of driving to the office. This saved me from another exposure to the world’s saltiest sauce; on the other hand, it’s not clear that microwaving a frozen entree is much better for me (even if it did come from Trader Joe’s, so it was low in fat).

Turnabout is fair play

I’ve just finished providing “360-degree input” for four of my fellow employees. This is an exercise in which you are asked to answer two simple questions (slightly paraphrased):

  • What behaviors has this person exhibited in support of Win/Execute/Team and what effect has this had on others?
  • How can this person improve their behavior and what positive effect would there be?

The results are sent to the employee’s manager, who then consolidates them into one document which is made available to the person with the attributions removed. This is supposed to provide perspective for the manager’s year-end evaluation of the employee; since I’m not a manager, I can’t say whether it works or not.

The first question is usually pretty easy to answer — in general, no one is going to ask you to provide a 360 unless they expect you to be able to say good things about them, and I like giving praise (especially when it’s deserved). I’ve always found the second question to be much tougher — even when there is something I’d like the person to do differently, this doesn’t seem to be the right way to get the point across. So I find something to write, but it’s usually inconsequential (along the lines of “Fred would be more effective if he didn’t include the entirety of every e-mail in his responses”), and I feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Do other companies have this particular ritual?

Shabbat Shalom!

Turkeys on Parade!

The day didn’t get off to the best of starts: the radio didn’t go off — and I had two different X-10 boxes programmed to fire it off. But we woke up only 20 minutes or so late, which isn’t too bad (actually, it felt good to wake up naturally instead of to the radio).

And Jeffrey got off to school on time — in his pajamas, true, but it was pajama day, so that was fine. And we found out that the cleaning service would be at our house on Saturday morning instead of today, but that’s ok, it gives us more time to straighten up for them. I even got a bunch of e-mail tended to before leaving this morning. And remembered to buy gas on the way to work.

Got to work, opened up the trunk to take out my briefcase…and it wasn’t there. I could have sworn I’d put it in there, but maybe not — and I have two other computers in my office, so that’s not a big problem either. Off to the presentation on “Emerging Technology Opportunities”, which was quite interesting — unfortunately, I couldn’t resist the donuts which were available before the presentation, but at least the one I ate was chocolate, so the calories weren’t in vain.

I should’ve let the donut serve as lunch, too — I had pasta (feeling slightly virtuous in doing so), but there was a small problem with the marinara sauce — whoever made it decided that salt was the most important ingredient. I spent much of the afternoon going to the cafeteria for yet another mug full of ice water in hopes of conquering the thirst!

It didn’t seem like a good day to work late, so I left on time, but was slowed in my progress halfway down the hill by a line of stopped cars. This is very unusual, since the road down the hill only serves Almaden traffic — no intersections to mess up the flow. But then I looked ahead of the first car, and realized why we were stopped: there was a long line of wild turkeys crossing the road, at least a dozen of them, with another dozen or so staying put where they were. Somehow, it seemed appropriate.

And how was your day?

Skullduggery afoot?

I just got a note from my Mom telling me that when she clicked on the Gore-Lieberman banner on my navigator, instead of going to the right page, she got an error screen. I tried it, too, and sure enough, here’s what I got:

Where's Al?: What I get when I visit http://www.gore2000.organd I get the same screen if I manually go to http://www.gore2000.org. On the other hand, http://gore2000.org still works, and so I’ve changed the navigator to point there.

[Update: It’s fixed as of 2136 UTC, but I’ll leave the navigator pointing at the shorter address anyway. I also notice that algore.com and algore2000.com work; I wonder how many different domains point to the site?]

This entry will become entirely historical in one week; I can’t wait for this campaign to end. The national stuff is bad enough, but the lies being tossed around on the state propositions are truly stomach-curdling.