31 March 2008
Just when you thought you were irreparably tainted by proximity to K Street or Capitol Hill (or both), Washington offers its self-cleansing antidote for the soul: the famous Japanese cherry blossoms.
Granted, the antidote lasts only about two weeks, which some might consider remarkable in this environment and is in no way a reproach to the people of Japan, who kindly gifted us with batches of trees starting in 1912. I'm no botanist, but I cannot think of a more beautiful tree.
Cleverer people than I think of holding weddings underneath them:
Of course, you have to put up with the gawking of tens of thousands of spectators as you smudge your bride's makeup with an exceedingly badly targeted kiss, but no worries - only a few hundred people probably caught it on camera.
Plus, I have no idea where your wedding guests or planners find parking, as even the outlying Metros are full up, and topping up your SmartCard or buying a Metro ticket is a tad complicated by the ten clueless tourists in front you in one of multiple lines. But that's your guests' problem, isn't it?
Some of my better photographic luck turned out thusly:
I hope you can see the pinker blossoms mingling with the whiter blossoms. There are several varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and south of the Jefferson Memorial.
And if you like closeups of blossoms, I'm here to indulge you:
Of course, there are more than a few people who don't seem to grasp that if the rest of the surrounding mob took advantage of public property as they did, there might not be any cherry trees left:
These two budding conservationists apparently are not aware of 18 USC Sec. 1853, which suggests that the feds can fine them up to $1000 and/or imprison them up to a year for taking those sprigs.
I wish I'd remembered to get my camera out earlier for plenty of others, but surely these two deserve a small chance of recognizing themselves on the interwebz?
Personally, I'd just like to thank them for doing so much to honor a priceless gift from the people of Japan.
DC cherry blossoms cherry blossoms
Posted by Frank Sellin at 9:51 PM
23 March 2008
Dear Software Manufacturers of America and Elsewhere,
If you have the slightest interest in pleasing customers, you might take account of the following bits of marketing savvy:
(In keeping with this blog's belief in naming and shaming, particular offenders are cited by name...)
1. Do not hog system resources, especially memory. That would be you, Symantec (makers of Norton Antivirus and other internet security software). It's possible to do your job with a lighter strain. Oh, and there are far better products than yours.
2. Do not put crap in my system tray and/or resident memory without asking during setup. I'm looking at you, Logitech, Adobe, and many, many others.
3. If you are going to put crap in my system tray, give me a nice right-clicking way to turn it off completely. Preferably forever.
4. A particularly aggravating, dangerous, and intrusive practice: DO NOT install third party software, or your own monitoring software, without my consent, let alone with every update. That would be you, Tax Cut (by H&R Block), and, at least circa 2002, Turbo Tax (by Quicken).
I already have a PDF reader, thankyouverylittle, and greatly resent supervision of my hard drive by mega-corporations.
5. Every last damn one of you, regardless of your product: When you provide an uninstaller program - and there is zero reason not to - that uninstaller had better clean up every last damn registry entry and file folder you have scattered all over my computer.
There is no excuse whatsoever for arrogant and shoddy business practices such as these. With help from CCleaner and similar crap blasters (use with caution!), I'll be removing a good deal of your trash, and voting with my feet towards software manufacturers who understand what it means to be "user-friendly."
You read correctly.
software software installation uninstalling software good business practices system tray CCleaner registry cleaner
Posted by Frank Sellin at 4:48 PM
15 March 2008
I have been remiss in posting two cool photos of a rare atmospheric phenomenon. Rare in Virginia, that is.
To wit, a sun dog, a/k/a parhelion, in more scientific parlance.
Both photos were taken in December 2007 on our way to go investigate the Natural Bridge. The first is my brother's, with some cropping on my part. The big glare to the left is the sun, and the sun dog is the smaller glare, with a more prismatic spectrum on the right.
The second photo is by yours truly, without cropping. Enjoy!
sun dog parhelion parhelia
Posted by Frank Sellin at 7:36 PM
14 March 2008
Did you earn your doctorate at some university outside the European Union?
If so, don't use the title "Dr." in front of your name while in Germany, especially not on your business cards.
According to the Washington Post, that would be a criminal offense. At a minimum, you risk a nice chat with the criminal police for following a custom that certainly isn't limited to the United States.
The basis for this is allegedly a Nazi-era law. The surprise is not that it's still on the books, but that it's actually being enforced.
Me, I just wonder how German students earning non-EU doctorates at respectable institutions will react when they get home and find out they don't have a right to the same title as their domestically educated counterparts, despite having completed comparable work.
Normally, I never bring up the title at all, unless I'm being quizzed on my educational background or if my interlocutor has opted for being a wee bit snooty.
But now I have to re-read the details surrounding diplomatic immunity for consular officers (less extensive than for other diplomatic personnel). Because if it's sufficient to keep me out of the clutches of the title police, I might just plant a big, fat "Dr." in 16-point font on my business card when I get to post.
But what do I know? I'm just a quasi-educated American.
P.S. Check out the informative comment on the Post site by rgellately, correcting much of the original reporting's understanding.
Germany Deutschland doktor Ph.D. PhD
Posted by Frank Sellin at 9:43 PM