Angela and I took a trip this past weekend to see a couple of friends from graduate school who live near Philadelphia.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Angela and I took a trip this past weekend to see a couple of friends from graduate school who live near Philadelphia. It was a sort of surprise for Chris for his birthday, arranged by us and his wife Sally. We hauled the two pooches with, so they could visit their pal Ellie (actually, Maggie and she hadn’t met, but they got along okay). Chris was willing to spend his birthday taking us to do and see things Philly. The trip up there was pretty long, since we were caught up in D.C. traffic and then took a couple of wrong turns on some country roads in MD and PA (yes, there’s some very rural areas up there for you Southerners who don’t know).

We started the day off right at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Wow, this is got to be the world’s largest all-you-can-eat Amish smorgasbord. No seriously. Having made-to-order pancakes is my kind of breakfast. I’m not much of a breakfast person, but two chocolate chip pancakes made right in front of you would make anyone start drooling. We all did quite well at the breakfast bars, both breakfast afficianados and novices like myself.

We then proceed on through the rain up to Central City Philadelphia. We visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We were quite lucky to get a very good tour guide. I’m sure that the tour lasted 30 minutes, but I could have listened to him for another hour. Next, we walked over to the new Constitution Center, but there in the spirit of democracy, we didn’t have the majority votes to take the tour. Since the Mint was closed (and heavily secured , anyway) we headed on over to Reading Terminal Market to get lunch and tool around the shops. There, we were able to get as official of a Philly Cheesesteak as one can eat. Angela & I split one with fries, and Sally & Chris did the same. We barely had room after all those pancakes that morning. We then walked on down to City Hall and the LO/VE sculpture (which is surprisingly small). Chris thought it a good idea to have us experience the Philly El while there, so we rode for a couple of stops back to the car park.

Chris drove us over to Drexel University to show us where he spent several years learning engineering and a love for the Mac. From there, we rode through West Philadelphia and onto the more tony suburbs beyond. We got back in time for Sally (with her lovely assistant, Angela) to make an awesome taco and burrito dinner. Chris’ brother, Mom and her friend Ed came over to all help us in the celebration of Chris getting one year older. A good time was had by all.

The next day we went out for brunch and then shopping around. Chris and Sally ended up buying a new patio set which eventually three structural engineers (with the help of our lovely assistant, Angela) were able to put together. Then, it was on back south to VA, although through much better traffic and no wrong turns. It was certainly good to see some close friend again and see some of the cool stuff up in Philly. We’re already looking forward to our next trip up there.

Statue of Liberty Replica

The Statue of Libery Replica in the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris.

Since my initial response to Stacie’s comment was getting a little long, I decided to post it here.

I think that it is a little odd, being an American, seeing the Statue of Liberty in a park in France. (There, of course, is an even larger one on the River just south of the Eiffel tower.) I suppose the French don’t think that, as they probably feel the connection to the statue. New Yorkers certainly think of it as a New York monument, not an American one. However, for both New Yorkers and Americans as a whole, the statue seems strange.

However, this particular statue seemed somehow in it’s place to me, as this whole garden contains statues from great French artists(and maybe other nationalities, I don’t know). It seemed to register immediately as to why I was looking at what would otherwise be a most out-of-place statue. On another note, I think seeing these keeps the differences between America, Americans, and the American government separate in the minds of Parisians. Maybe the statue reminds them why they liked us in the first place, just like all those streets named after America’s progressives and WWII leaders.

My Life In Brief

I’ve been so busy lately, I almost forgot I had a blog. You probably forgot I had a blog, too.

I’ve been so busy lately, I almost forgot I had a blog. You probably forgot I had a blog, too. Here’s just a quick PowerPoint-style list of what’s been going on:

  • I saw Frank Miller’s "Sin City" on the opening night and this is indeed the future of cinema. People keep trying to place this film somewhere in the spectrum of past films: noir, ultra-violence, action, etc. This movie is a whole new genre of film. Go see it.
  • I have been spending some really long hours at work, which is fortunately over for now. Too bad it has interrupted with…
  • I am taking the Professional Engineer’s exam this Friday. Normally, I wouldn’t even so much as sweat it, as I usually am well prepared for this sort of thing. However, I haven’t been putting in my study time like I should. Nobody’s fault but mine, but it still sucks. I’m keeping cool, though.
  • Angela and I ran the Monument Ave 10k this past Saturday. I set a personal best, at 50:45 and this was Angela’s first ever 10k. I’m proud of the both of us. It was a great day to be running (sunny and about 55°F) and we had a fun time.
  • That’s all I got for now. As of Friday, I’m going to be in the mood to write a lot on here, so do please keep checking your RSS feeds or logging on to the site.

Copyright Law

These may be dumb questions on copyright law, but with social software and photography sites being incredibly popular, I can only imagine they’ll come up more and more.

I learned shortly before our trip to Paris that the private company, SNTE, hired by the city of Paris to install flashing lights all over the Eiffel tower has copyrighted the pattern of lights. This effectively makes any photography taken of the Eiffel tower when then lights are flashing a copyright violation. The claim is that this is all to prevent using the likeness in unauthorized ways. Well, let’s pretend it isn’t completely moronic to try and control the likeness of a 100+ year old monument which is the very icon for an entire country.

Sparkling Tower

Copyright violation? Does the effect of the glass window change anything on the copyrighted subject matter?

When we were in Paris, I took lots and lots of photographs of the Eiffel tower. Frankly, it can be hard sometimes to not have the Eiffel tower in your Paris photos; it’s pretty damn tall. Many of my photos were at night, while the lights were dancing about the structure. It’s a pretty amazing effect, actually. The whole thing seems to be made of rare jewels. Anyway, one such photo I took was through the dirty glass window of a boat tour we took. I say that since the dirty glass effectively changes the light pattern, I’m not violating the copyright. Further, couldn’t one argue that air particles, moisture, camera lens, etc. all change the properties of light, therefore changing the image? What about camera motion blur or artsy effects? I mean can you ever expect to copyright a pattern of light? I suppose anything visual is nothing more than a pattern of light, and this argument could be made for music and other art. I’m not really trying to go down that path, but my point is this: isn’t that the way we are heading when copyrights such as this are granted, especially for such widely recognized monuments?

Another photo we have, is of the two of us standing in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. This photo was graciously taken by another tourist, for whom we returned the favor. So, I (an American) have a photo of us taken by an Italian tourist, in France, with my camera. Who holds the copyright? Which countries laws govern? I assume my Italian friend was granted the copyright the instant he pushed the button, at least according to U.S. law. I further assume that where ever the file (or a copy of the file) is located, is under which law governs the copyright. The file is now in America, but what if someone downloads a copy in a country where laws have opt-in style copyright law?

To say the least, I could really care less about copyright law. I’m sure that all these questions have answers, some of which may be conflicting. However, most people taking pictures on vacation don’t know the answers. I for one don’t even care, as I’m going to do whatever I please with my photos. If SNTE or the unnamed Italian tourist would like me to stop using images, they’ll have to just ask politely. Something tells me, I’d hear from the large company long before I’d ever hear from a fellow tourist.

I’m A Kottke Micropatron

Keep this man in clean underwear.

I am a micropatron

I finally got around to donating some to Jason Kottke this evening. Tomorrow is the last day of his fund drive, and I felt it was important to give something to him. I use his really cool silkscreen font on some of the buttons on this site and I read his blog regularly. He’s an excellent writer and I find myself agreeing with him more than not. This feels a lot like when I give to NPR, and for mostly the same reasons.

I don’t know that I’ll be donating funds to everybody on the internet that decides to quit their jobs and blog for a living. However, Kottke is setting an example of a different type: not that quiting your day job is what you should do, but that you should do what you dream of. I’m really paying him something for daring to remind me of that.

I'm a micropatron.

Too Much Going On Can’t Think

Woah! While it may seem like I haven’t posted in forever so therefore nothing must have been happening, quite the opposite is true. There has been so much going on in the past week-and-a-half I’m going nuts.

Woah! While it may seem like I haven’t posted in forever so therefore nothing must have been happening, quite the opposite is true. There has been so much going on in the past week-and-a-half I’m going nuts. I want to blog about all of these things, but I do not have any time right now to do so. I am looking forward to this weekend so bad… Okay, here’s a short list in only somewhat of an order:

  • Angela and I went to Paris, France! They speak French over there and it’s awesome. It is an incredible city and so much fun to just walk around, which we did lots of. I have roughly 1,000 photos, and I am going to have put some of them up on Flickr as soon as I get the chance.
  • Angela and I celebrated three incredible years of marriage yesterday. Of course, we only got to see one another for a few hours at dinner due to having to get our buts back to work. Still, making some time for one another is how we make the whole thing work.
  • I went to a Tim Kaine 2005 rally for the kick-off of his campaign for Governor of Virginia last night as well. This was not a let down, but I had to leave a little early to make it to dinner with Angela.
  • I have had a shit-storm of work to do lately, on top of trying to study for my SE exam next month. I love my job and I hate my job at the same time.
  • Today is my dog, Harry‘s, fourth birthday. I’m Angela is going to pick him up some doggy ice-cream on the way home from work.
  • Trey has updated both Synthetic Rabbit and Gridge’s web sites. This on top of retooling Megan’s site last month. I’m sure he’s sleeping well at last.
  • Star Wars Episode III trailer. So Badass. The best part, what we don’t see means there is so much more: Jimmy Smits & Natalie Portman, for starters (just short flashes)

And even more that I can’t think of right now. Many posts coming soon, and I hope to write a long article on our trip to Paris. Does anybody know how to get 26 hours in a day, because I need it?

Wil Wheaton’s Not Dead

I happened accross Wil Wheaton’s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends.

I happened across Wil Wheaton‘s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends. No, Wil, I’m not going to be stalking you. Plane tickets to L.A. are too expensive right now. However, Wil has a cool site that is all his own. Yep, that’s right. A Hollywood type that does his own web site (down to the code). I suppose many people already knew all about his site, but hey, I can’t read the whole interenet. If you go to the site, you don’t have to read too many posts to learn that Wil is quite the good geek, and not just about coding. He’s a fan of the dark beers, a good liberal, and actually gives a crap what people have to say. Oh, sure you can chock that up to the typical vain, left-coast Hollywood stereotypes, but I did mention he likes dark beers. Explain that away easily. Also, he’s hosted a couple of episodes of "The Screen Savers," which is pretty silver-back for geekdom.

The reason I came across Wil’s site in the first place was reading Garrick Van Buren‘s "Wish List", which credits Wil for. This is a great idea. I’m one who has on many occasions set out personal life-long goals. Many of which were over a beer with friends, and have long since been forgotten. Here’s a list of such goals, out there for the world to see, that can easily be re-visited from time to time to (in Wil’s words) "see if you’re living your life, or just existing." Not a bad idea from some flaky L.A. guy. Okay, I hope you realize that I’m being facetious now.

Anyway, Wil’s getting added to my "Elsewhere On The Web" section of links. I don’t know most of these people and they sure aren’t getting most of their traffic from me (if so, Kottke’s going to starve). However, they’ve all got good sites with something to say. So, if you get bored reading my site, you really should click through to them. I know they’d appreciate you spending some time on their sites as well. Angela will be happy at least. She can easily go check up to see what Wesley Crusher’s been doing since TNG. Oh, and I knew Wil wasn’t dead; that was just a joke. I know, it’s not funny to joke about that sort of thing.

My Rental

Slushy Road
Originally uploaded by super_structure.

I took my truck in yesterday to have some service done (minor recall crap). The dealership gave me a rental for the day, which turned out to be a Mazda 3. Okay, it’s not Ferrari or anything, but much nicer than the broken down Ford Focus they gave me last time. Anyway, it’s a really nice little car. Very sporty. It even has manu-matic shifting (or whatever Mazda calls it) like my truck. Unlike my truck, it has red & black interior with carbon fiber trim. The dash is all submarine-sytle red lights. Even thought it’s a small car, I thought it was very comfortable. It did feel like large bumps might make it take air pretty easy, though. Unsettling for a guy who usually drives small sport utility vehichle.

Speaking of which, they had to replace the trim-work on the A-pillars of my vehicle. Come to find out they didn’t provide a whole lot of padding in an accident. Of course, isn’t that what seatbelts are for? Anyway, the problem is, on a Freelander, the A pillars are already pretty massive and this didn’t really help. They now have a sort of aerofoil shape to them, which is larger and far more dangerous looking than the origional trim. I didn’t think to ask the dealer if I could keep the old plastic… Oh well.