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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Of Dilemma's 

During Friday night's dinner at this week's WebCred Conference, David Weinberger spoke of those interesting dilemma questions that come up in life (that drew much laughter). For example, if you're with a bunch of people in a life raft with no hope of timely rescue, who do you eat first? It reminded me of a similar and all too real dilemma I witnessed just the other day, one that I experienced difficulty in resolving. If you're speeding an ambulance to the hospital with your lights flashing and sirens blaring because someone on a body board in the back is hanging on to dear life, what do you do if you come across one of those 20 mph school zones while the yellow lights are flashing? Clearly, those lights are designed to protect kids' lives. So, do you risk killing a kid, or risk killing the patient? The driver I saw risked killing a kid.


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Monday, January 03, 2005

ZDNet Podcast Central? 


My Desk
Originally uploaded by dberlind.

My home office: quite possibly the birthplace of ZDNet's podcasting operation.


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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Thank God it was a contraction 

The other day, my 9 mos.-pregnant wife said she was having a contraption when she meant to say (or maybe I heard it wrong) that she was having a contraction.

Update: Fortunately, she had a baby (a girl!). I'm not sure what I would have to said to her if a contraption came out.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Breaking news: The word "pain" found hiding in the word "painter" 

Meet Willie (name changed to protect the innocent). My nickname for Willie is "the residential Rembrandt." After this man is done painting your house, people you don't even know will stop and gawk at it as though it were a masterpiece. But there's one little catch. Like most great artists, he's nuts. Here's a typical phone conversation:

me: Hi Willie. The house looks great for being half finished. What time can we expect you tomorrow morning?
Willie: No later than 8 David.
me: Perfect. See ya then.

me (at 10:07am the next day, on the phone): Hi Willie.
Willie: David! How ya doin'?
me: Great Willie! I was sorta thinkin' you'd be here by now. You plannin' on stoppin by today?
Willie: David, David, David.. Gosh, I'm so sorry. I got held up. I'll be there this afternoon. Will you be there?
me: Great, sure will.

me (at 9:30am, the next day, on the phone): Willie, this is David.
Willie: David my man! How ya doin'?
me: Just fine. Was it my imagination, or were you not here yesterday?
Willie: David, David, David. I'm so sorry. I'm on my way right now. Give me a few minutes.

me (at 8pm that night, on the phone with Willie's voice mail): Hey, Willie.. if you're there, can you pick up? Willie? Willlllllieeeeeeeee. Alright, if you don't want to pick up, can you at least pick up your 60 foot ladder when you get a chance?

Needless to say, Willie has gone completely AWOL on us. What a bummer. The guy is so good.

So, we've turned the job over to an another painter. Unlike Willie the residential Rembrandt, this isn't just a painter. It's an entire outfit with fancy trucks, different crews, walkie talkies. The whole nine yards. You get the drift. So, when these guys returned every phone call and showed up exactly when they said they would, my wife and I were high-fivin' each other.

But, now that they've finished, my wife and I can't decide which we prefer. Do we take the kooky residential Rembrandt that's impossible to nail down, but will perfectly lay paint on your molding's edges without ever making contact with the wall with his paintbrush? Or do you take the smart looking outfit that's courteous and always on time (and calls if they're running be late), but leaves paint in places it's just not supposed to be. For example, on your moldings (where the wall paint isn't supposed to be), on the brass door hardware, and worse, on your furniture. When you step back, it looks pretty good. But they make smaller brushes for getting in those tight spots, don't they? It must be a pain for painters to use them.

Now we know why the word pain is in painter. What a pain.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Barney: The second most hated figure? 

This bit from a story in The Washington Post was irresistable:

'As the U.S. military edged closer to the shrine of Imam Ali and the rebellious Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr vowed "martyrdom or victory," the Iraqi forces that are expected to decide the matter trained in the desert wastes outside Najaf. They practiced marksmanship by firing AK-47s at targets of Osama bin Laden and Barney, the purple dinosaur.'

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Under the thumb of a fish bowl 

Today, I realized that my life is being controlled by a toy fishbowl. It's a Fisher-Price fish bowl that hangs on the rail of the the two-year old's crib. It has real water with fake fish that, by virtue of the way a battery operated motor rotates the bowl, give off the illusion that they're swimming. When in operation -- something that's controlled by the two year old -- the bowl plays lullabyes. I'm beginning to wonder whether the baby has developed an unhealthy addiction to the fish bowl (I don't think I can sue anybody, can I?). As long as he's awake and in the crib, he keeps the fish bowl on. At bedtime, the fish bowl goes for an hour. At 2am, when something random wakes him up, on goes the fish bowl.

So what's wrong with that? Cute kid. Cute fish bowl. Cute music. Awww.. How cute. Until the batteries die. Then, suddenly, things aren't so cute anymore. The phrase "2 year old meltdown" barely scratches the surface of what happens when the batteries die. My wife and I live in fear of fish bowl battery death at 2am. So much so, that we make an educated guess as to the condition of the batteries before putting him to bed. We plan our shopping around the state of our battery inventory. It's the subject of nightly conversation.

me: "Did you hear that"
wife: "No"
me: "that note sounded flat"
wife: "we have batteries, right"
me: (trembling) "I don't know"
wife: "oh shit"

This is a typical conversation about the fish bowl. Bsaed on the cost of the newer model, my wife estimates that the fish bowl originally costed around $20. So far, it has consumed about $200 worth of batteries. I mean, this thing has an appetite for batteries. I should own stock in Duracell by now. Even worse? They're C batteries. Who uses C batteries anymore? Try waking your neighbor up at 2am for some C batteries. D batteries? No problem. Double A's? No problem. C's? Ha ha ha ha ha. Sleep? Ha ha ha ha ha.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Never step on a LEGO with bare feet 

Yesterday, I received a note from one of my co-workers (Hi Ned) asking how he could get an RSS feed for this blog. I believe I've found the answer according to Blogger.com's help. I've added a new link to the section on the left that says "Useful Links." Let me know if it doesn't work. Ned's note surprised me since, if you've visited this blog in the last few weeks, it looks like I gave up blogging or died in May. Other regular readers of this blog have actually been complaining to me that I must be a slacker or something: a warning to any would-be bloggers that once you start, you better not stop or you're likely to get tarred and feathered by your friends and family.

Anyway, I'm not slackin' off (or wackin' off for that matter). I've been busy. Kids. House. Dog. Our cars. The garden. The lawn (actually, I haven't gotten to that yet). Oh yeah, and my job. Life got away there for a minute and something (the blog) had to give. But Ned's note was the straw that broke the camel's back. I figured that if Ned is getting ready to take a feed, then I should probably keep the feed active. So, to rev the engines up again, I've decided to write about something that happened an hour ago. If something worth bloggin' about happened before that, I might get to it.

This week, our two-year old blessed us with a new gift. He suddenly started sleeping-in instead of waking up at 5:30am. Apparently, he'll sleep until 7:30 or 8:00, maybe later, if we let him. You have to be a parent to understand how, after three years (including my wife's pregnancy) of broken sleep, this is an event of biblical proportion. Now, in the mornings, my main challenge is sneaking the dog out of my 13 year-old son's room before she starts beating her violently wagging tail into the walls long and hard enough for the baby to wake up. She's a Lab-mix and when she wags her tail, it's one of those Lab-like entire-dog’s-rear-end-shimmies-while-tail-swings-like-a-propeller movements that’s devastating to most knee-high breakables. The object is to sneak the dog downstairs before my son wakes up for school and lets her out of his room, leaving her to her own recognizance.

By now, you’re asking, “What’s this got to do with LEGO?”

Since my wife doesn’t work on Fridays, Friday is the only weekday that we can take advantage of the sleeping baby. Being that today would be the first official “sleep-in Friday,” I had this silly idea that I could sneak the dog downstairs at 6:45 (that’s already 1:15 of extra sleep), get the 13 year-old off to school by 7:30 (after waking him up four times), and let my wife and the baby sleep until 8:00 or 8:30 while I made some coffee and got an early start on my work. This, of course, is the optimal time for Murphy’s Law.

Somewhere around 6:50am, the neighboring town’s fire whistle honked for what seemed like an eternity. Instead of using modern technology (like radios, pagers, and telephones) to rustle the town’s firemen out of their houses and to the fire station (usually to deal with burnt toast at the local nursing home I’m told), this particular fire department uses a 50’s vintage ex-air raid warning horn. It’s so loud that I'm surprised the Boston Fire Department (40 miles away) doesn't show up. Anyway, the folks who live in the nursing home somehow manage to burn their toast at precisely the same time that we’re really depending on the sort of peace and quiet that gives the phrase “sleeping like a baby” the undeserved reputation that it has.

You can imagine what happened next.

The baby woke up. I went in to retrieve him from his crib and as I was lifting him, I stepped on an upside down (sharp edges up) LEGO part with my bare feet. After doing this, I can think of a lot of harmful things that I’d rather do to myself than stepping on an upside-down LEGO part. You see, when you step on a LEGO part with a 37 pound two-year old in your arms, you need to be a Hollywood stuntman in order to gracefully recover without anyone getting hurt. I learned that you have to do several undulating pirouettes just to stay on your feet. You also have to shut off the pain center in your brain because, as I also learned, where ever there’s one LEGO part on the floor, there are more. Doing ballet on them with size 11 ½ feet while keeping your off-the-charts-sized toddler from harm requires an act of God and a re-aggravation of those ruptured discs in your lower back. In fact, you know those cathartic coal-walking programs? They should try it with a bed of LEGO. My bet is no one can do it.

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Where is he now? The "Ugly" from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" 

OK. If the ice-cream truck post didn't alert you to the fact that I'm not much of an intellectual, this one certainly will.

An updated version of the classic 1966 spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is now available on DVD with new footage that never appeared in the original. Even better for big Clint Eastwood fans like me, the remastered voice-overs are provided by Eastwood (the Good) and Eli Wallach (the Ugly): two of the three original stars of the movie who are still living. The third star -- Lee Van Cleef (the Bad) -- died in 1989. Like so many other Eastwood movies, I must have watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly hundreds of times (thanks in part to the several "Eastwood Weeks" that were aired in the 70's by the NYC affiliate of ABC on its afternoon staple The 4:30 Movie). Even today, regardless of how many times I've seen something, I inexplicably drop the remote when I happen across one of those legendary spaghetti westerns while channel surfing. Though some of them are not technically spaghetti westerns, I'm equally spellbound by other Eastwood classics like The Outlaw Josey Wales. It's like I've been brainwashed into this behavior or something. If you know something about this affliction, please contact me. Anyway, I was alerted to the availability of the DVD by an outrageously funny interview that NPR's Scott Simon did with Eli Wallach who is a much more prolific actor than I've ever realized. In addition to being a major force on Broadway, his filmography covers 98 movies including The Godfather III, The Misfits (which starred Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe), and the Jack Nicholson-directed The Two Jakes. But, as far as I can tell, the biggest accomplishment for this 88-year old pop culture icon is his 57-year-and-still-going marriage to actress Anne Jackson (discussed in the interview).

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