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Archive for August, 2008

With the Yankees set to open a new stadium next year, the Red Sox¬†played their last series at Yankee Stadium this week…and they won 2 of 3 ūüôā The Yankees look pathetic as the regular season winds down (will likely miss playoffs for first time in 14 years),¬†but the Red Sox seem to be kicking it up a notch at just the right time (won 8 of last 11). Anyway, in honor of the last series – the end of an era –¬†here are a couple fun statistical nuggets from the games this week:

‚󏬆 8/26: A-ROD’S NIGHT TO FORGET
Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and two double-play ground outs in the Yankees’ loss on Tuesday. It was the first time in A-Rod’s career that he had multiple strikeouts and GDPs in the same game. His total of nine DP ground outs in August already matches the highest total by any player in any month this season, and it’s his highest total in any month of his career. (Update: A-Rod now has 11 double-play ground outs in August – ouch!)

‚󏬆 8/27: PEDROIA’s SLAM – WILL IT BE THE LAST AT YANKEE STADIUM?
Could it be, with only 14 regular-season games remaining to be played in the current Yankee Stadium, that its final grand-slam homer will belong to Dustin Pedroia, whose eighth-inning blast capped the scoring in Boston’s 11-3 win in the Bronx on Wednesday night? Pedroia’s was the 17th Yankee Stadium grand-slam hit by a Red Sox player (the most by any visiting team), with Ted Williams, who hit three grand-slams in the Bronx, being the only Boston player with more than one. But only once before had a Red Sox second baseman homered with the bases full in the House That Ruth Built; that was Bill Regan, who did it in 1928.

‚󏬆 8/28: LESTER TAKES A TOUGH NO-DECISION
Jon Lester struck out eight batters and did not issue a walk in 6 2/3 innings on Thursday. Since 2000, only one other Red Sox pitcher registered at least eight strikeouts against the Yankees, while not walking a batter: Pedro Martinez, who whiffed 11 without a base on balls in the Bronx on July 7, 2003.

Source – The Elias Sports Bureau

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In the 90’s there was a little show on E! called Talk Soup,¬†which in 2004 was¬†“re-mixed” into a much better show that we now know as The Soup. I can’t get enough of this 1/2 hour weekly show of utter hilarity during which host Joel McHale “reports” on the latest in pop culture news and reality show debauchery.

Instead of your typical news show segments (like Weather, Local News, and Politics), ¬†The Soup’s segments¬†include “Chicks Maaaan,” “Let’s Take some E!,” “Reality Show Clip Time,” and “What the Kids are Watching,” among others. ¬†

I can see how these segments may sound foreign and unfamiliar, if you’ve never seen the show. To help clarify, check out this clip from a couple weeks ago. Joel points out the sudden insertion of a spaghetti-eating cat photo into a segment about¬†binge drinking¬†on the Mike & Juliet Show.

New episodes of The Soup air every Friday at 10pm on E!. If you can’t wait that long, The Soup has its own blog with additional clips.

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Towards the end of last week our Internet was “down” at the office for a few hours. My hands were tied. I felt crippled and cut off from the world. It was incredibly frustrating not being able to deliver on the list of tasks outlined on the various colored post-its scattered across my desk.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of “disconnecting,” but on a normal day I spend 90% of my time on the computer and at least 50% on the Internet. Without the web, I’m lost.

When I saw this photo from PamelaSu on Flickr I was reminded of my experience (or lack there of) with the Internet last week. I chuckled because sometimes, at the end of a busy day, my hair sticks up (and may even appear green) and my eyes take on an Anime-like appearance from staring at my monitor, just like this little girl.

So, what is in her hand anyways?

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We were at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA (formerly Great Woods) on Saturday night to see Lynyrd Skynyrd & Kid Rock on their Rock and Rebels tour.

It was a hot, sunny¬†day –¬†we¬†got¬†there at about 2:30 and¬†tailgated all afternoon. It was the first time in a looong time that the atmosphere felt like the old Great Woods…everyone was mingling together having a great time, and no one got harassed by¬†the event staff. When you put it all together – the sights (flags waving, footballs¬†flying, hundreds of Harleys); the sounds (a blaring¬†mix of¬†southern¬†rock, outlaw country and blues); the smells (charcoal grills¬†and all kinds of funny things) –¬†the general consensus seemed to be: music and whiskey makes us want to get down ūüôā

Skynyrd opened the show. They still sound great!¬†Kid Rock always puts on¬†an incredibly¬†energetic,¬†entertaining live show. It is absolutely one of those¬†cases where, even if you¬†aren’t really¬†a fan going in, you’d come out of the concert as a¬†Kid Rock fan. And for this show he had a couple surprise guests too: he did a miniset with Rev Run¬†consisting of Run D.M.C.’s¬†It’s Like That and Aerosmith’s Walk this Way; then, Peter Wolf (former J. Geils frontman) came out and they did Centerfold. It was kick-ass!

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Normally I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for my morning coffee. I can’t remember the last time I bought¬†coffee anywhere else, and today, it showed.

I was in Harvard Square with some time to kill and decided to get my morning brew while I waited. Harvard Square is familiar territory РI was pretty sure that there was no DD within walking distance. I spotted Au Bon Pain, which seemed harmless, so I decided to cut my losses and just go there instead of searching for DD. Walking in, I was confident.

Almost immediately confidence gave way to anxiety – I¬†didn’t know the protocol for getting coffee in this joint. Trying to look unfazed, I went to the main counter and ordered a¬†medium coffee. Oops, its self-serve. I was referred to a counter where I could pour my own, so I¬†made my way to the coffee thermoses and picked a cup from the¬†many stacks – oops again…I picked an iced coffee cup¬†instead of¬†a hot coffee cup (apparently they are differentiated by color).¬†I went back to get¬†a hot coffee cup and finally poured the friggin’ coffee.¬† Home-free…or so I thought.

At this point, I looked around and there was no sugar or milk anywhere in sight. I was totally baffled. I¬†slowly backed away from the coffee area, looking casual, and observed another customer pouring¬†coffee so I could follow his lead. Sure enough, that guy drinks his coffee black and I’m shit out of luck. Feeling stupid,¬†I meandered back to the main counter and asked about the milk and sugar.¬†The woman¬†referred me to yet another counter that is literally hidden from all view when you’re standing¬†at the¬†coffee counter…marvelous.¬†I paid the woman and got the hell out of there. It was 5 minutes I’ll never get back.

I must have, deservedly,¬†been¬†the butt of jokes among the Au Bon Pain staff. You’d think¬†anyone of my generation would be able to buy a cup of coffee at¬†Au Bon Pain without bumbling and stumbling around like an idiot. Oh well, at least¬†the coffee¬†tasted good ūüôā

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I’ve blogged about LEGO before (and I’ll probably blog about the company again).¬†The staying power of the almighty LEGO is¬†stickier than your fingers after eating a huge wad of cotton candy. Given this fact, and that Photo History was one of my favorite courses in college, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to blog about UK photographer Mike Stimpson, when I saw a story about him on Wired.com.

Stimpson has combined his photographic skill with a love for LEGOs to create a number of photographs that mimic the works of classic photographers such as Alfred Eisenstaedt and Charles Ebbets. The quirk? His photos are scenes build from small plastic bricks. Cute? Yes. Buzz-worthy? Definitely.

Below are a few examples of his photos (compared with the originals). Some of these you may recognize ūüôā To check out more of Mike’s photos, visit his Flickr page.

Charles Ebbets "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," Rockefeller Center, NYC, 1932

Original: Charles Ebbets, Lunch on a Skyscraper, Rockefeller Center, NYC, 1932

Joe Rosenthal, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, 1945

Original: Joe Rosenthal, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, 1945

Alfred Einsenstaedt, American Soldier in NY Times Square, 1945

Original: Alfred Einsenstaedt, American Soldier in NY Times Square, 1945

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Two kinds of haze afflict, with appalling consequences, the people of China:

1) The unmitigated haze of pollution spewed daily by power plants, factories, and automobiles that clouds the atmosphere and is estimated to kill at least 10,000 Chinese per year, and

2) The¬†oppressive “red haze” of communism¬†spewed daily by a government that¬†clouds reality in the eyes of¬†Chinese citizens and the rest of the world by shaping the flow of information and falsifying everything from government statistics to Olympic fireworks displays.

During these Olympics China is using the latter to hide the former.

The satellite image below, taken in June, shows a suffocating haze of pollution shrouding Beijing and the entire area to the south in a uniform shade of brownish gray (skies appear relatively clear to the north and regular clouds appear bright white). This is a typical day in and around Beijing, where residents are often warned to spend as little time as possible outdoors because the atmosphere is a veritable pea soup of toxic gases.

Pollution Haze Over Beijing, June 2008

Pollution Haze Over Beijing, June 2008

We already know that China is very concerned about creating a perfect image – or, as it were, a mirage – during these Olympics (e.g., digitally enhanced fireworks, lip syncing singers, and “official” crowds to fill the stands). So it isn’t surprising that as China prepared to host the Olympics, they put “special pollution controls” into effect: Except for taxis and Olympic vehicles, automobiles were banned on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates ended in odd or even numbers. Most construction was banned in Beijing, and factories were shut down in Beijing and the neighboring cities of Tianjin and Tangshan.

These restrictions are expected to last for two months Рjust long enough to fool the world during the Olympics Рand are reducing pollution. Here is an image of Beijing taken on July 21, after the restrictions were put in place. The haze drifting south from Beijing is relatively slight compared to June.

Pollution Haze Over Beijing, July 2008 (click to enlarge)

Pollution Haze Over Beijing, July 2008 (click to enlarge)

Bottom Line:¬†China has¬†temporarily reduced the haze of pollution,¬†and in the process,¬†demonstrated to the world¬†that the “red haze” of communism¬†is as thick as ever.¬†I can’t decide which is worse, the fact the government can shut down whole industries and dictate when people can drive, or the fact that pollution will return to deadly levels just as soon as the Olympics are over?

Images from NASA Earth Observatory

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