A Stationary Odyssey

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My work e-mail has gone down, and its interesting to see how much that makes me change what I do. I have to use my aol account, but I also can see a few things that get on through my remote server account for my work e-mail. The problem seems to be the registration lapsed, and the guy who set up the registry in the first place was a consultant and is hard to track down.

So, for now I am using my home e-mail for work, and guessing that some work e-mail is just vanishing.

Monday, August 28, 2006

We went up to Belhurst Castle, just outside Geneva, to have brunch with Laurie's parents and Herb and Barbara who were visiting from DC. They are about to take a vacation to the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It sounds like a great trip. It would be fun to travel as much as they do - they said these were almost the last countries in Europe they had not been to, having been nearly every other place. They haven't been to Moldova or Belarus, but had been to the Soviet Union when they were all together, so it partly counts for them.

Anyway, Belhurst Castle is one of those places that used to be a big house and is now a hotel and restaurant. Its a glorious red sandstone castle-house in a Richardsonian-Romanesque style, and has fabulous workwork on the inside. We'd been up there before, with great food and long lines at the buffet. This time, the lines were almost non-existent, and the food was ok, but not as good as it had been before. Its too bad, really, but I found enough to eat.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Part of my job is finding maps, satellite photos, aerial photos and such for projects. I look around to see what is available, and use it to help document projects. I also think its fun, which is always nice. I found a remarkable comparison between a satellite and an aerial photo.

This is a satellite image of my house, with "color enhanced" imagery, so everything that is red would normally be green in real life (I wonder why it is called color enhanced?). This image was free from the NYS GIS system on the net. In some places the quality is much better. Google Earth is much the same, with some places superb, and other places a messy blob of green and brown. We're in the blob zone, so I wouldn't bother looking.

This is an aerial photo I found of my house, reduced in size to 20% of the original. The true color and the really good detail make a huge difference in the quality of the picture. There is a cost to use the system, but I was able to look with a free trial and get this. This is actually about 10 separate images put together in Fireworks from screen prints, so it was time consuming to get this image done.

So, I have a pretty clear example of the difference, but I don't know where the line for work can be drawn. Is it worth a few thousand dollars a year to have this level of quality for some projects? How often would we need to have something like this? Sure, its great to be able to put up an image like this, and would make a report look pretty slick, but in most cases its more than we would need.

Spam, and its getting worse. One of the things I do for my job as executive secretary for ACRA is moderate the discussion list. Its a free subscription, but you have to give your name. I used to get a couple of fake subscriptions a week, with some crazy name. Today I got two that had what appeared to be real names, with suspicious e-mail accounts. I dropped them an e-mail and yep, they were spam. I had a false subscription from Samuel Jackson yesterday, too. Maybe the spammers are getting smarter, but why? Yes, they will get to send one message to 1,000 people who don't want to buy imitation Rolexs or canadian drugs, and then they will get closed down.

I guess its part of modern society where the criminals and hustlers have gone from scams at the train station to trying to find gullible people with a wider net. Its too bad, really. I wish the penalties for sending spam were stronger so it could get better controlled.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Politics in New York is an interesting thing. I live in one of the "swing districts," NY 24, because Sherwood Boehlert is retiring. I have enormous respect for Mr Boehlert, and met him once at Fort Stanwix. I did the archeology there before they built their new visitor's center, and Mr. Boehlert represents both myself and the Fort. To put it simply, Mr. Boehlert is smart, and was willing to be smart and defend a position based on careful consideration and precedent rather than simple political expediency. I suspect his being chair of the house Science Committee is related to that.

The race has been pretty hot. Now we have a choice between a Democrat and a couple of very conservative Republicans. I don't like the things the Republican party has done to the country with full control over Congress and the White House, so I would be happy if they lost control of the House. I have to say it was not very smart of them to put a candidate forward that wasn't a moderate like Boehlert was. I think the Democrat will win, and I hope he does to show the conservative powers-that-be that they are out of touch with America.

We also have Hillary Clinton, our current senator and running for re-election. She has overwhelming odds against everyone, both of the Republicans and some Democratic challengers. The Republicans are, not surprisingly, challenging her from the right, while at least one Democrat is challenging her from the left. The democrat challenger, Jonathon Tasini, wants to win like Lamont did over Lieberman (who I think should either leave the Democratic party or drop out of the race, since he lost the primary), but I don't think he has a chance. Not because of the money, the name, or any of the rest of it, but because Hillary has not managed to make the NY voting public hate her like Lieberman did. Sure, the Republicans don't want her elected, and a few wacko's hate her (hmmm... competant woman with a brain that is willing to act. Could this be why?), but the majority of New Yorkers see her as a politician that has worked out fine.

But then we have a few more interesting fellows in the background, like this guy from Trumansburg. I have to agree with some of his views, like the trampling of the Constitution by the Bush adminstration, but he, like many, rails against the Federal Reserve and the entire U.S. and global monetary system. I'd rather start with having our elected officials follow the laws and make decisions based on good ideas rather than their own ideology, a desire to control the world, or simple stupidity or greed, like Duke Cunningham. I'm glad he's not from New York.

Last Year's Gentian

Its getting close to the blooming season for Fringed Gentian, a rare wildflower we are lucky enough to have on our property. The description of fringed gentian says that before is blooms, it is "an innocuous rosette," which means it just looks like everything else. I might have found the pre-bloom plant by comparing what I know with what all is in the patches Cornell has boxed off across the street, but there's no way to know until the flower stalk starts to go up.

Last year, they started blooming at the end of the first week of September.

I just found a poem by William Cullen Bryant dedicated to Fringed Gentian.

The Odyssey was the journey Ulysses took to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. We used to live near Troy, and have come home to Ithaca. Our journeys are now through life, so here we are.

Besides, it sounds better than "Scott and Laurie's Blog."