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Friday, September 29, 2006

The only lesbian at the airport

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2006 at 1:11 PM

I'm leaving this afternoon for North Carolina, to go to my Southern Baptist cousin's wedding. We're pretty close — she spent a couple summers up here in Vermont recently, teaching riflery at Brown Ledge girls camp in Colchester.

I'm flying out of BTV and into Greensboro, with a stop at some larger, hub airport. Can't remember exactly which. So this short video from Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel caught my eye.

I, too, often feel like the only lesbian at the airport. Except when I'm in Burlington.

Incidentally, I'm really enjoying Alison's blog, and not just because I used to be her assistant and started her original blog two years ago. She's really funny when she goes on tour. This post about her stop in Miami is a good one. She blogs about her lunch with the cartoon editor for the New Yorker.

New 7D blog

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2006 at 8:46 AM

Alert readers will have noticed that we added another blog to our line-up this week. The anonymous Mistress Maeve has joined our blog team. She's taking over for Lola the Love Counselor, whose column used to appear in the personals section.  So long, Lola!

The Mistress bills herself as "your gracious guide to love and lust." Welcome, MM.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Not just for gun nuts

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2006 at 1:50 PM

Gay gun nut Jeff from Alphecca emailed me a few weeks ago asking me to help him recruit writers for his group blog science-fiction novel, Colony Alchibah. I haven't had a chance to read much of it, but I'm finally passing along his request.

From the site's FAQ:

In the middle of the 21st century, a ship of dissidents seeking freedom from the oppressive world government of Earth land on a planet circling the star Alchibah.  There, these colonists begin a new life, a new world, a place where the limited government is subordinate to the citizens.  First they had to create that government and the documents that would constrain it.  Actually, first they had to escape Earth!  As in any sci-fi story, there are plenty of other problems as well...

"Here's the thing, writes Jeff in his email, "I have only one "liberal" (in quotes) participant. The other 11 are libertarian or conservative and I'd really like more divirsity, especially for arguments over a "constitution" and bill of rights for the new colony.  Plus, I think readers would like it if not everyone just agreed over everything."

Anybody want to belong to a virtual space colony with 11 conservatives and libertarians, most of whom are probably heavily armed?

Friday, September 22, 2006

The ultimate in internet fame

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2006 at 1:27 PM

The Stoneking/Simmon wedding got Boing Boinged yesterday thanks to this fun photo, by NTodd.

Also featured on the second most popular blog yesterday: Bible for mobile phonesBeheaded dolls from history and my personal fave, Author replicates novel in Second Life for book launch.

Emily and Bill, you're in good company.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Peace Day in war time

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM

Hey, today is the U.N.-declared International Day of Peace. I first heard about it a few months ago, when I wrote this story about a book drive organized by students at Vergennes High School. They were inspired by Peace Day to spend their school year collecting books that they donated to various libraries in Vermont and abroad.

I was reminded of it again by a very persistent guy from Call of the Trees in Bristol. They're launching this campaign based on a book by Dorothy Maclean, who wants people to plant 10 billion trees by 2016.

No, none of this will stop the violence in the Middle East, or the genocide in Darfur. But it's something positive, anyway.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Urinetown

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 2:46 PM

Last Friday night, I hung out with a couple of UVM students at the corner of Main  and South Prospect Streets, to report this story on UVM's Have a Heart campaign to reduce late-night "walk-by noise." Here's how it works — student volunteers stand on street corners and intercept their fellow students walking toward house parties or bars downtown. The Have a Heart ambassadors hand out chocolate hearts and ask the other kids to "have a heart" and keep it down, out of respect for the families who live nearby.

I really enjoyed talking with Erin Renz and Scott McCarty, pictured here approaching a group of late-night revelers. They were so dedicated and articulate and sincere. Way more so than I was when I was in college (for the record, 10 years ago, I would have been on the receiving end of this campaign).

I wanted to kudo Scott and Erin here because I think they and the other Have a Heart volunteers deserve a lot of credit, and I didn't get to say that in my story. I did, however, get to write about my encounters with some of the kids they were trying to shush.

There was one girl in particular who was wasted and totally clueless. She even interrupted Scott while he was talking with her to shout across the street to one of her friends. Later, after Scott and Eriin had called it a night, I saw the same girl on South Willard Street. I had gone down there to see if I could find some more Have a Heart people, but spotted this girl just as she ducked behind some trees to pee.

For years now, I've been hearing stories from Hill Section residents about how the college kids pee on their lawns. I've always been skeptical. I mean, who pees on somebody's lawn? So I couldn't believe it when I overheard this girl say she was going to go to the bathroom behind three trees five feet from the sidewalk. It was only a little after 11!

I told her it was illegal to pee there, and advised her to go find someplace else to go — I know, I know, I'm such a big buzzkill, but I couldn't help it. Maybe it was because I was sober, or because I'm a crusty old prude, whatever. It just bugged me. After she realized I was serious, she stumbled back to the sidewalk and walked off with her male companion, probably to find a less conspicuous hedgerow.

So I wanted to emphasize here that, although I concluded my story in the paper with this amusing little anecdote, I do recognize that not all UVM students (or college students, for that matter), are drunken loudmouths. Scott and Erin, thanks for spending your Friday night asking students to pipe down. I think people really do appreciate your efforts.

Reuters taking citizen journalism seriously

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 11:27 AM

Reuters is giving NewAssignment.Net a $100,000 grant to hire an editor. NewAssignment.Net is the brainchild of NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen, who wants to experiment with making news through a pro-am collaborative process (it'll involve regular folks and professionals).

Says Rosen:

The idea is to draw “smart crowds”—groups of people configured toshare intelligence—into collaboration at NewAssignment.Net and getstories done that way that aren’t getting done now. By pooling theirintelligence and dividing up the work, a network of volunteer users canfind things out that the larger public needs to know. I think that’smost likely to happen in collaboration with editors and reporters whoare paid to meet deadines, and to set a consistent standard. Which isthe “pro-am” part.

NewAssignment.Net is a not a plan for a company; in fact, it’scloser to a charity, an editorial engine anchored in civil societyitself, rather than the media industry or journalism profession. Astoday’s announcement shows, New Assignment can be on friendly termswith Big Media, which it is is not trying to destroy or supplant.

Wish I had something clever to say about this, but all I can come up with is, "interesting."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Apologies

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2006 at 8:29 PM

Sorry for the light posting. My kid's got croup and I haven't had much time online. I even had to miss Bill and Emily's wedding reception, but I did go to the ceremony, and got to see Darth Vader stroll down the aisle.

More tomorrow, I hope, after I get some sleep.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Press release fun

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2006 at 1:24 PM

Bloggers: How do you know when you've become part of the official media? When individuals, businesses and governmental institutions start sending you press releases. Reporters get them all the time.

I end up deleting many of the press releases I get, but occasionally one catches my eye. Here's one I just got from the health department that I thought I'd pass on. If you read between the lines, you'll discover the hidden message: Eat local.

Health Department advises consumers to discard bagged spinach following e.Coli outbreak

For Immediate Release: Sept. 15, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON –  The Vermont Department of Health issued a health advisory today about an outbreak of E.coli traced to prepackaged, bagged spinach that has caused illnesses in eight states including Connecticut and one death in Wisconsin.

“There have been no reported cases of E.coli in Vermont related to the recent foodborne outbreak, but we advise that consumers and restaurants discard any bagged, fresh spinach at this time,” said Patsy Tassler, an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health. “Anyone who experiences symptoms of illness after eating bagged spinach should contact their health care provider immediately.”

The federal Food and Drug Administration is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to trace the spinach back to its grower and vendors. More than 50 cases of illness have been reported to the CDC.

The warning applies to bagged spinach only and not to frozen block spinach, spinach from local markets or mixed bags of lettuce that also include spinach.

E.coli is a food-borne virus that causes severe diarrhea, often with bloody stools, and abdominal cramps. Some infected people experience only mild diarrhea and no other symptoms.

Eeeew.

UPDATE: Apparently this E.coli outbreak is a big deal. Toss that spinach, folks! 

WISPs nest

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2006 at 11:05 AM

Still don't have broadband out there in the hinterlands of Vermont? Tom Evslin of Fractals of Change has a rural broadband success story. He got connected at his South Hero camp via wireless internet service provider GlobalNet

Says Evslin (in tech speak):

Terrestrial WISPs like my new best friends at GlobalNet send a signal from a ground-based radio to a small radio on your premises. I’m getting a true 3meg both up and down with latency of well less than 100ms for $39.95/month. Installation was $99.00 and I signed a one-year contract. Oldtelecom nerds like me will note that the plan I’m on is giving me theequivalent of two T1s. There is also a $29.95 plan with 1.5meg down and400Kps up. ...

GlobalNet’s solution for the east shore of Lake Champlain is clever. They rented colocation space on an tower on a hill across the lake in Plattsburgh, NY.  There’s good line of sight to that from anywhere along the Vermont side of the lake. Even though I’m physically, over twelve miles from the GlobalNet repeater, I’m getting the full bandwidth they promised. 

 

Note that this service is significantly better than most DSL and comparable to most cable. Also note that the service is symmetrical – same bandwidth for uploads as for downloads. Most of us still download much more than we upload but that is changing. Work-at-homers often have a lot to upload. More and more of us are uploading photos and videos. Home surveillance cameras accessible through the web are not uncommon. Just like phone lines, some day we’ll always expect as much bandwidth up as we have down.

Remember, Gov. Douglas wants 90% of Vermonters to have access to broadband by 2007. I found this article on the Vermont Broadband Council website that says the state is up to 83 percent of Vermonters with broadband access. Too bad there's no date on that article. Fortunately, I found this version from the Times Argus, from February 2006.

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