Accident on eastbound Route 9

June 2nd, 2011

Car accident on Route 9 in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Photo of an accident that helped snarl traffic on eastbound Route 9 in Framingham on June 2, 2011.

Pictures of Georgetown Cupcake in-store display and box

May 29th, 2011

Georgetown Cupcake is of course the cupcake bakery made famous by not only its truly delicious cupcakes but also the reality TV show D.C. Cupcakes. Below are a few photos of the Georgetown Cupcake store in Bethesda, MD, (the main one really is in Georgetown, but we didn’t go there) and a half-dozen cupcakes and the box they were packaged in.

Here’s a tight-angle shot of the Georgetown Cupcake storefront in Bethesda. The store is located in a quite charming block – Bethesda Row – with a good deal of foot traffic and dozens of restaurants and stores adjacent to a somewhat large parking lot and a parking garage. It reminded me a bit of Coolidge Corner in Brookline, or perhaps the best parts of Newbury Street in Boston. Very, pleasant, in short. The large sign in the window announces the new season of D.C. Cupcakes.

Georgetown Cupcakes storefront in Bethesda, Maryland.

The traditional display of the cupcakes is pretty much pitch perfect. It’s how baked goods should be displayed, although it is admittedly not the most cost-efficient way to do it.

Cupcakes display in the Georgetown Cupcake store in Bethesda.

The Georgetwon Cupcake cupcakes box – sort of like Tiffany for cupcakes!

A plain but stylish cupcakes box from Georgetown Cupcake.

(But don’t try to be cute by putting a cupcake in a Tiffany box. No woman is going to find that clever or amusing.)

Here’s what the cupcakes looked like when we opened them in our hotel room next to Dupont Circle in the District. Not bad at all. Great taste, too.

A half dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C.

We also visited a cupcakes bakery on Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle. I am by no means a cupcake expert – or even much of a cupcake fan – but the Georgetown Cupcake cupcakes really are noteworthy for their presentation and taste. As a point of comparison, the bakery on Connecticut Avenue had run out of bags, which is the kind of unimpressive inventory management that just happens to favor the seller over the buyer.

Flip out as smartphones move in

April 13th, 2011

The once widely popular hand-sized Flip camcorder has been discontinued by Cisco, which purchased the camera’s manufacturer, Pure Digital, in 2009 for a staggering, MySpace-like sum of $590 million just two years ago.

This paragraph from New York Times article on the Flip camera’s demise is painfully accurate:

At the same time [as smartphones undermined Flip's market], the smartphone has crushed the market for GPS devices, put a serious dent in the point-and-shoot camera industry and threatens the existence of many other everyday devices — the wristwatch, the alarm clock and the portable music player.

The rise of the smartphone has monkeywrenched business plans for many retailers and manufacturers who used to make decent money from MP3 players and GPS devices. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if smartphones take a huge bite out of the thumb drive market within a couple of years. The rapid rise of the smartphone – and now iPad, which has killed off the once-promising netbook market – is a headache for merchandisers trying to cobble together competitive product mixes.

As far as the Flip goes, I was a very early adopter of it but I quickly found it unimpressive. It wasn’t any better than my digital point-and-shoot Fujifilm camera, had an abysmal zoom and its software features were a tad too barebones for my taste. It’s real competitive advantage was its compact size and that obviously made it very vulnerable to competition from smartphones. Flip made the same mistake as Palm did by not transitioning to becoming a phone as quickly as possible. And now it’s too late, although I imagine Cisco will sell the brand name to a low-end electronics company that will slap the Flip name on all sorts of products, including cheap smartphones.

(I really wanted to include a photo of my Flip camera in this post but I can’t find it. It’s packed away somewhere, perhaps next to my Microsoft Velo)

Boston’s population 2010: 617,594

March 23rd, 2011

The population of Boston in 2010 was 617,594 according to the United States Census Bureau’s decennial population count.

That was an increase of almost 5% from 2000, when the city’s population was 589,141, but quite a bit less than what recent population estimates had suggested would be the case.

Here’s the breakdown of the 2010 population by race:

White: 47%
Black: 22%
Latino: 17%
Asian: 9%

The number of children in Boston declined to about 104,000 in 2010 from about 117,000 in 2000.

Boston’s split majority

March 23rd, 2011

Boston had majority non-white population overall in 2010, but a majority white population among those 18 and over, according to data from the 2010 Census that was released yesterday.

The city’s total population was 617,594 and non-whites made up 53% of that.

Of the 513,884 who were 18 or older whites made up 51.8% of the population.

Non-whites made up 77% of the under 18 crowd.

There was a slight non-white majority in the 2000 Census. The American Community Survey, another product of the United States Census Bureau showed whites as the majority during the last few years of the decade that followed. It now appears that the ACS somewhat overestimated not only Boston’s total population but in particular its white component.

Thomas Saves the Day

March 13th, 2011

Thomas Saves the Day is a live-performance musical starring every boy’s favorite tank engine. The play is less than 90 minutes and that includes a 20 minute long intermission. Besides Thomas there his his best friend Percy (the little green tank engine best known for pulling the mail on time), Sir Topham Hatt (also known as The Fat Controller), Sir Topham Hatt’s grandson, Devious Diesel and a handful of other characters of lesser importance. The biggest difference between the play and the typical Thomas and Friends episode is that the drivers get to talk and do a lot in the former.

The plot of the play spins loosely around the steam engines’ efforts to put Island of Sodor back in order in time for the Lantern Festival after the island has been ravaged by a storm. Thomas and Percy engage in various cheeky hijinks along the way while Diesel stays at the sheds and belittles them.

Below are a few pictures from Thomas Saves the Day at the beautiful Hanover Theatre in downtown Worcester in central Massachusetts. Check here for performances in your area.

Thomas the Tank Engine, Percy and Sir Topham Hatt in Thomas Saves the Day.

The set of Thomas Saves the Day.

Devious Diesel.

Thomas saves Percy from the mine after a rock slide at the quarry.

Sir Topham Hatt and his grandson with Thomas and Percy.

The audience us treated to a confetti rain at the end of Thomas Saves the Day.

The grand finale of Thomas Saves the Day, a jubilant song and dance number at the sheds.

Massachusetts militia reenactors

March 12th, 2011

Massachusetts colonial-era militia reenactors.

Colonial-era militia reenactors on a Saturday afternoon at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury in Massachusetts. I think they were part of a wedding ceremony celebration.

Movie review: Daybreakers. When vampires run out of humans.

March 4th, 2011

Daybreakers is a 2010 movie that delves into a theme that is often hinted at but hardly ever explored in vampire movies, namely what happens if the undead bloodsuckers go through the world’s entire supply of human.

A mere ten years after an epidemic – described in fairly vauge terms – has turned the vast majority of humans into vampires vampiric civilization finds itself grappling with hunger, starvation and complete destruction (one could say they’re past peak blood). Attempts to develop a blood substitute have failed. Starving vampires are turning into deformed, violent cannibalistic creatures. Meanwhile, a smattering of human survivors, hiding out in a winery that is of no interest to the undead, have found a cure for vampirism. While trying to escape the police during a night time search for other humans they crash into a vampire scientist (played by Ethan Hawke) who detests being a vampire and longs for ways to restore human freedom and dignity. Unfortunately for him, his brother is vampire tribalist, so to speak, who loves being a vampire and has no use for reproachment with the people who spawned. As desperation sets in the cycle of violence speeds up and turns into a non-stop orgy of blood-soaked feeding.

Daybreakers is a well-crafted movie that serves up enough visual cues and gags to keep viewers entertained without overloading them. A fairly brisk pace also keeps viewers from spending too much time pondering the finer details of the largely post-human world. The vampire-run city in which the most of the action takes place is sort of a cross between Minneapolis and Japan (or maybe Germany, given how whites were apparently particulalry apt to turn vampires when the epidemic struck. While Minneapolis has an intricate system of tunnels and walkways to shield inhabitants from the harsh winters, Daybreakers’ city has a similar solution to allow movement during daytime, when the sun poses a lethal threat to the daybroken. But mostly the vampires simply stay at home during the day and go to work after sunset.

Human society more or less rotates around the securing the resources necessary to ensure reproduction. The vampires in Daybreakers are immortal and seem to have their sex drive entirely replaced by a bloodlust that is satisfied by rather sterile consumption of packaged blood. The mechanism for mortality is apparently that people stop ageing once they become vampires (thus Hawke’s character is celebrating his ninth 35th birthday). Judging from the newscasts that are sprinkled into the storyline the vampires more or less maintain the same governmental structures they inhabited as humans (they seemingly also favor the same kind of innane political gabfest shows).

It is tempting to read all kinds oallegories and metaphors and meanings into a movie like Daybreakers but given that that its creators are two 30-something brothers who’ve done pretty much nothing but movies their entire life it is probably a waste of time to do so. Michael and Peter Spierig, I think it fair to say, make movies about movies and that’s about it. Their stated interest in making sequels or a TV show based on Daybreakers can best be treated as a joke.

Daybreakers fared undeservedly poorly at the box office, probably because the vampires in the movie possess little of the powers typically ascribed to them in movies and literature. The only thing they seem to have going for themselves is immortality. Eternal life without sex isn’t the most compelling fantasy.

Boston University beats Vermont 3-1 at Agganis Arena

February 28th, 2011

Here are some photos from Boston University Terriers men’s ice hockey’s 3-1 victory over Vermont at Agganis Arena on February 26. It was an entertaining game in which the home team produced several solid opportunities to score in the first period, but weren’t able to put the puck in the net until about half-way through the second period when Chris Connolly capitalized on a power play opportunity. With less than three minutes to go in the second period Alex Chiasson scored on an assist from Adam Clendening. Matt Nieto made it 3-0 late in the third before Tobias Nilsson-Roos got a consolation goal for the visitors.

Adam Clendening, Boston University Terriers men's ice hockey.

Alex Chiasson, Corey Trivino and Matt Nieto figthing for the puck along the board against Vermont.

Ben Rosen takes a face-off for Boston University.

National anthem played before Boston University Terriers game at Agganis Arena.

Chris Connolly, captain of the Boston University Terriers ice hockey team.

Core Trivino celebrates after BU Terriers take a 2-0 lead against Vermont.

Kieran Milan, Boston University Terriers goaltender.

Kieran Milan and Patrick McGregor fight off a Vermont attack.

Boston University's mascot Rhett works the crowd next to one of the student sections at Agganis Arena.

A kid takes off his shirt during a jumotron dance contest at Agganis Arena.

Intermission entertainment: Kids from Andover playing ice hockey at Agannis Arena.

The link diseconomy

February 20th, 2011

Diseconomy: a factor responsible for an increase in cost. Merriam-Webster.

This past week a German journalism pundit I follow on Twitter tweeted a link to a post on his website that quoted a chunk of a blog post, with a link to the blog post at the end. A day or so earlier another person had tweeted a link to a post on Huffington Post that was basically nothing but a post with a link to another web site.

Welcome to link diseconomy. The far more famous “link economy” is “the new media economy” where “links are the currency” (all quotes by Jeff Jarvis). The most commercially viable instance of link economy is scraping and wholly or partially re-publish other people’s work (although the more polite terms are “aggregate” and “curate.”) I submit that link diseconomy is a result of this form of link economy. The increased cost is the extra time it takes to actually get to the content in question, and that cost is borne by users who have to traverse these layers of links.

As a non-commercial actor you can reduce link diseconomy by linking straight to original source while acknowledging whatever party brought you the link.

Yes, I am old and I have a hard time staying jiggy with it.