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California Dreamin’

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Here’s the view from the hotel room at the Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, Calif. The weather, temperatures in the 70s, certainly compares favorably with that of New York today though it should be noted that New York’s winter, thus far has been relatively balmy and notable for it shirt-sleeved temperatures well into January.

Arrived in Palm Desert Sunday after a weekend in Los Angeles, my first trip to that other cultural capital of the world, and I have to say I like LA, especially Beverly Hills. Having had two breakfasts there, I can honestly say I think that Nate’n Al is the very best diner/coffee shop/deli in all America and nothing less than a national treasure. Never mind Spago, or Trader Vic’s, if you haven’t eaten at Nate’n Al, you haven’t eaten in Beverly Hills. End of story.

Also visited Mann’s Chinese Theater (originally Grauman’s) in Hollywood, and snapped this detail of Leonard Nimoy’s hand print with my phone.

Written by ahess247

January 29th, 2007 at 9:24 pm

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On The Wings Of…..Me?

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Web access logs are a funny thing, when you own your own domain. You get to look at a lot of interesting information, such as the domain names from which people visit your site, but also a little about how they get there.

I look at them from time to time, and occasionally find some odd things vaguely related to things I’ve written about and the articles I host here. There are lots of hits from people searching for information about Bungee Jumping. No surprise there. Or there’s people looking for information about computer hackers. Again, no surprise there.

But three were very curious. They were Google search requests with the syntax “www.arik+air” and then another “arik+jobs+publish” and finally, “on+the+wings+of+arik”.

Having explored the peculiar history of my first name, I figured I’d see where these searches led and plugged them into Google myself. It turns out there’s a new twist: Arik Air is an airline.

Somewhere over the skies of the African nation of Nigeria, there are airplanes bearing the name Arik. According to its corporate history, it emerged in part from the liquidation of that nation’s national airline. A local businessman, stepped up and purchased one of its aircraft for his personal use, and soon word spread and private citizens in the gas and oil industry were using his plane to fly around the country. It wasn’t long before he bought another, and then a few more. I don’t know where the idea for its name came from.

Written by ahess247

November 5th, 2006 at 2:17 pm

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I’d like to forget this, if you don’t mind

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I get irritable at the end of the summer. It wasn’t always that way. I liked the fall, liked the transition to the new season, a shot at a fresh start whether academically or at work. September always seemed like a clean slate. Now I dislike it, in no small part because of the insisten cultural pounding that always starts toward the end of August around Sept. 11. The image pictured is pretty much what I saw that day, and it seared itself into my brain as I stepped out of the subway tunnel at the 22nd St. and Park Ave. and walked west toward the Flatiron building.

This is the time of the year where people ask me “where were you when it happened?” I was underground, okay? I didn’t actually see the planes hit, but I saw the buildings fall. I stopped to vote. The primary election for mayor was on that day, and I stopped as I left home, first thinking I wouldn’t bother, as everyone knew that Bloomberg was going to win in the general election. Then I remembered how much I really disliked Mark Greene and figured I’d go to the trouble of voting for Alan Hevesi, not that Hevesi stood the slightest chance of winning or anything, but it seemed important at the time. If I hadn’t stopped to do that, I’d have seen the whole thing, not that I would have wanted to.

I remember the subway ride was uncharacteristically slow, but nothing else about it. I wasn’t terribly eager to get to the office, and it was an incredibly beautiful day, the kind of day that makes you depressed that you have to be cooped up inside doing things that seem important but really aren’t.

So I got out of the subway and walked west, crossed Broadway and noticed something I can only really describe as a buzz around me. I didn’t hear anything that told me something was wrong, but it was just a sense of something out of place, of people agitated for some reason, but I couldn’t place it and from where I was, couldn’t see anything amiss. The first clue was people looking at their wireless phones, that look that says “I’m trying to make a call but can’t get through, let me look and see how my signal is.” Two or three guys were doing this, and as I pressed on in the along the south side the Flatiron building a woman, walking east who seemed to know the guys walking near me, said “This is just insane.”

At this point my pager went off. I reached down to grab it and looked south, at 22nd Street and Broadway. I don’t remember which came first: Did I read the pager, or did I see the holes in the towers? The message was a news alert from CNN that arrived at 9:12 AM. It read: “World trade center damaged; unconfirmed reports say a plane has crashed into tower. Details to come.” I could clearly see that there were two holes, one in each tower, and couldn’t figure out why that would be caused by one plane. Of course by this point the second plane had already crashed into the towers ten minutes prior. CNN got around to “alerting” me to the second plane by 9:22, by which time I was already in my office.

From that location I was one of several who watched the towers come down from Jim Spanfeller’s office. Someone hadn’t paid the office satellite TV bill, so I and my colleagues couldn’t watch TV news like the rest of the world. We didn’t really need it.

That’s the gist of my Sept. 11 story. I’m not terribly interested in observing the 5th anniversary of what was for me a really unpleasant day with the rest of you. Images of that day on TV make me shaky. Seeing the trailer for that Oliver Stone movie made me mad, but I was glad to see no line outside the Zeigfeld theater where that cinematic calamity happens to be playing as I walked home tonight.

I want to get over it. Its the rest of the country that insists on dredging up old video tape and pictures and survivors tales and permeating the media with it all. I don’t want to weep and shed tears while watching stupid movies made by and for stupid people about it. I’d like to forget it, and frankly I wish those of you who insist on partaking in this cultural weepfest, buying special anniversary editions of magazines and watching TV documentary specials about it all would find something else to entertain yourselves. I have a better idea: Go rent “The Cruise” instead. I found a clip from that neglected 1998 documentary on Youtube, and it appears below.

Written by ahess247

September 6th, 2006 at 9:59 pm

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On The Telly Across The Pond

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The phone rang late in the morning as it often does. I expected the usual — some PR person looking for a little attention for a client. It was a PR person, but was actually one who worked for my own outfit fielding a request from an outside outfit needing some comment on the latest corporate happenings at a certain computer company. A TV news crew wanted to chat with me on camera.

“Great,” I said. “When do they need me?”

“They’re setting up now. Can you be down in five minutes or so?” was the answer on the other end of the line.

So that’s how I happened to appear on “the telly” in London and throughout the UK last night.

I’ve appeared on BBC TV a few times over the years, most recently in a live shot from its studios on the West Side of Manhattan, but almost never been able to see the segments. This week’s slot on the World Business Report was a little different, as the network streams the show online in Real Video format. But what it doesn’t let you do is save the file as it streams to your computer. So how did I get the video above? Well it was a bit of a hack….

This turned out to be an excuse to try a new program I just learned about called Display Eater which captured the video, sort of. What it appears to have done is capture a long string of still images, which it then converts to a Quicktime video clip.

I thought this was all well and good, until when I played the resulting Quicktime clip and learned that Display Eater doesn’t record audio. Here, the solution was to turn to my favorite, app, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro which saved the audio stream of my segment into MP3 format.

Armed with a silent video clip and an MP3 sound file of the segment, I poured both into iMove HD, which would have seemed to be a straightforward operation. All I had to do, it seemed was synchronize the sound file and the video file as best I could. Simple right? Wrong.

As interesting and potentially useful as Display Eater is, it doesn’t come close to capturing the full video stream, but more an approximation of it. The result I had was a video clip that was not only out of sync with the audio, but actually shorter than the audio clip that accompanied it.

So at least now you know why the audio and the video are not synced up right.

One interesting bit of trivia about this clip: Steve Jobs appears once late in the segment giving one of the keynotes for which he is famous. But he actually appears twice, though its kind of hard to spot him. Can you guess where it is?

Written by ahess247

August 5th, 2006 at 9:29 pm

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So what’s my problem anyway?

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Silent in this space now these 71 days. It’s not as if I’ve had nothing to say, rather that I’ve been saying it elsewhere, where my words pay my bills.

This is of course the curse of blogging. In order to make it seem worthwhile you have to feed the beast regularly. This of course takes effort and time, the latter of which is in critically short supply these days it seems.

The onset of summer hasn’t done much for my time budgeting. Perhaps better calendar management will help. I’m somewhat encouraged by what I see of the new Google Calendar service. It seems that with a little outside help, it will sync up with the Outlook calendar on the Windows machine at the office, and thus bridge the gap with the iCal calendar on the Mac, all the while creating a long-term record of where I go and what I do.

Will this magically create some kind of quantum singularity through which I can pull additional time which I can use for writing pointless screeds here? Certainly not.

The key is to simply waste less time, though one could argue that blogging is itself a waste of time. There certainly appear to be a lot of people with opinions on that very subject.

I have been at times variously inventive and not with how I’ve been wasting my time these 71 days. There have been a few too many hours playing “Command and Conquer: Generals”, another set of lost hours downloading Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker concerts (see sample below) from Dimeadozen and trading them with the folks on the Vantrades mailing list.

Intermittently I’ve devoted some hours to raising money for the Columbia’s J-School Annual Fund, an effort to which I have committed five years of my life.

But mostly the hours are tied up with the job. Its as simple as that. It’s now been almost a year since the big change and there hasn’t been a single nanosecond of regret or second-guessing. I guess that, coupled with the lack of personally blogging, combine to be a pretty good sign.

Enough about that. Here’s a shot of Hooker from ’76.

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Written by ahess247

June 10th, 2006 at 8:00 pm

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