Sunday, December 28, 2008

If I Were Rich, I Would Buy Books

I read a lot. This year it will be 77 or 78 books, depending on whether I finish my current book before the new year; I read the complete Discworld series this year.

I also measure the books that I read with a caliper, so I know how much shelf space they consume. This year it'll be at least 107% percent of my height (6 feet even); last year it was 75 books and 110% of my height.

I put a list of everything I read online: (No RSS on that; sorry.)

Currently, I get nearly everything I read from the library. But if I were rich, I would just buy the books, because I'm a pack rat, I love books, and libraries have limited collections, so frequently there's a lot of messing around to get certain books.

So, I looked up the prices of all the books I've read this year on Amazon, to see what the damage would be. I chose new and hardcover, when possible. The total? $1,313.93, not including shipping.

I would buy them from a local bookstore, not Amazon. So maybe it would be $2000. Still, that's less than I thought. Hmmm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Digital Camera?

I got a new toy in the mail today, a Canon SX-10 IS. I'm not entirely convinced it's right for me... it's kind of a bizarre bastard child occupying the space between point-and-shoots and full DSLRs. It's three times bigger than my old camera, but 1.5-2 times smaller than a DSLR. It has an extraordinarily versatile lens, 28-560mm (which is fairly wide to huge zoom), and zero-centimeter macro capability (i.e., the subject can touch the glass)... for a DSLR that'd be 3-4 lenses, and at least $2000 and 10 pounds of glass (but higher quality glass, of course).

However, it's way bigger than the P&S that I've been taking on hiking trips so far (36-105mm) and been fairly happy with, and it has the same kind of small, noisy sensor that compact cameras do, and the user interface is rather weird in places. Is the fancy lens worth the extra mass and bulk? I'll contemplate this question over the next few days.

This is a picture of my cat. Believe it or not, it's a 1/2 second exposure, hand-held. Sometimes image-stabilization really kicks ass (click through - it's even reasonably sharp full-size). [Edit 1/5/09 - no, it's actually not very sharp at all.]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Minnesota Senate Recount: Is There HCI Research to Be Had?

The drama here in Minnesota these days is the recount of the U.S. Senate race -- and it's dramatic: a difference of a couple of hundred votes out of 2.5 million cast, a hand recount, going to court, etc. Kind of like Florida in 2000, but more competent. (Minnesota Public Radio has good background coverage.)

But the most interesting part is the "challenged" ballots: these are ballots where the election judge doing the recounting wanted to classify the ballot one way, but a campaign observer objected. There are a few thousand of these ballots; most of them are fairly clearly frivolous, being done for PR reasons, and now the number of challenges is fluctuating day by day as the campaigns withdraw and un-withdraw challenges.

These ballots are now before the Canvassing Board, a 5-member panel convened by the Minnesota Secretary of State to determine the final disposition of each. You can watch the proceedings, live during the next few days or archived. Here's a direct link to one 90-minute segment of today's proceedings. (I was only able to make the link work on Internet Explorer. However, don't use Explorer until you've patched the latest nasty zero-day vulnerability!)

I find the process fascinating. Each board member, and a lawyer for each campaign, has a binder containing photocopies of each challenged ballot. For each ballot, the committee chair (MNSOS Mark Ritchie) announces which ballot is being considered, and then makes a motion with a proposed disposition ("I move to reject the challenge and allocate this ballot to Coleman"). Simultaneously, the board members and lawyers examine their photocopies, and an aide passes the original ballot down the line of board members. The process takes a few tens of seconds for a ballot where there's immediate agreement with the chair's motion, and maybe a couple of minutes if there's discussion.

Having the original ballots (Minnesota uses optical scan voting) is critical; some of the ballots which are clearly one way when viewing scans online are clearly something else when the original is viewed. (Example: The pen ran out of ink. The bubbles are blank in the scan, but on the original you can see the indentations in the paper where the voter tried to mark -- clear voter intent, which means the vote must be counted under Minnesota law.)

Also, if the decision takes more than a few tens of seconds, the camera switches to a laptop feed, where there is someone manipulating a PDF viewer to show the ballot. You can see the mouse cursor and UI manipulations and everything.

It's a very human process, with synchronization all accomplished by verbal announcement, at least one synchronization error ("Mr. Secretary, I missed the decision on ballot Minneapolis foo"), and occasional dry humor on the part of the committee members.

Bottom line, I think there's some HCI research with a great story here. I think the basic premise is a case study of the human processes going into this laborious and monotonous task, with some participants having extreme vested interests, some but limited computerization, the need for high public visibility, and a very high-value outcome.

Who's gonna do it?

(Crossposted to the GroupLens research blog.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


In case you missed the last half-dozen blog posts that I didn't write, here's a summary:
  1. I attended the CSCW conference in San Diego, where I presented my paper, "Computational Geowikis: What, Why, and How", which was nominated for Best Paper and earned an honorable mention. My talk was very well received and cited as the "best talk of the conference" by at least one stranger.
  2. I demoed Cyclopath to a standing-room-only crowd of ~50 city planners and other governmental types. They liked it.
  3. I attended an HCI symposium in New York and gave a talk.
  4. I gave my oral preliminary exam and passed, making me a Ph.D. Candidate. It will be official when all the paperwork that I was supposed to bring to the event is signed. ("Where's the paperwork?" "What paperwork?")
  5. I moved to a virtual private server, which is way faster and more reliable. E-mail service will follow soon (not that you'd notice any difference).
  6. I bought a fancy battery charger with all kinds of buttons and modes. It's great.
  7. My FW made incredible toffee, and I ate it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mozilla Developers Hate Saved HTML Manuals

My website, Cyclopath, is written in Flex, Adobe's development environment which produces apps that run in the Flash Player. Needless to say, I occasionally need to reference the Flex documentation, which is HTML. I can browse it either on Adobe's website (slow) or save their zip file and browse it off the hard disk (fast). Guess which I chose?

Anyway, recent versions of Firefox 3 break these docs, because they don't allow different files in the doc package to reference needed JavaScript (because it's in a higher directory), so all the helpful links like "Show Inherited Public Properties" don't work.

And here's the error message that shows up in the error console:
Error: uncaught exception: [Exception... "Security error" code: "1000" nsresult: "0x805303e8 (NS_ERROR_DOM_SECURITY_ERR)" location: "file:///export/scratch/reid/flex3.2.0/doc/langref/asdoc.js Line: 493"]
...impossible to Google. Bah.

Wandering around the Mozilla bug database a little (using, frankly, a lot of expertise that most people don't have) revealed that, in fact, this is by design.

You can turn off the behavior by going to about:config and setting the secret configuration variable security.fileuri.strict_origin_policy to false. Mozilla developers are not interested in making this more obvious and don't believe that anyone other than a web developer needs to change it, despite the large installed base of on-disk HTML user manuals for a variety of things.

I don't fully understand the security reasons for this change. I assume they're sound. But what an absurdly opaque failure mode.

Shame, Mozilla!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

72 Hours Later: President-Elect Obama

The election was called for Senator (now President-Elect) Obama almost exactly 72 hours ago. I hosted an election-night party with map & charts. Here's photos, as things were at the end of the night, and some additional thoughts with another three days of perspective.


It looks pretty well wrapped up. Indiana (home state of my lovely FW, yay!) and North Carolina has since been called for Obama, Montana for McCain. Missouri will probably go McCain. The fun thing is that Nebraska will split its electoral votes, the first time that this has ever happened (Nebraska and Maine are the only states that aren't winner-takes-all). Voters in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District (Omaha) will send one elector to vote for Barack Obama.

That puts the final EV count at 365-173. My own prediction (393-145) proved too optimistic, as we lost Georgia, Montana, and Missouri, all of which I expected to win. However, we did win NE-02, which I did not expect.


Races not resolved in the photo:
  • Ted Stevens (R-AK), convicted felon, wildly outperformed his polling. He is currently leading by 3,500 votes out of ~200,000 counted, and there are a bunch left to count, which Nate Silver thinks will favor Begich, the challenger. But regardless, this one wasn't supposed to be close. Seriously, Alaskans... you should be ashamed of yourselves.
  • Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is 3% ahead of Jim Martin, but a hair under 50%, so this one will go to a runoff on December 2. I can't figure out who's favored, but personally I think it'd be quite a surprise if Martin pulled it off.
  • Norm Coleman (R-MN) is currently ahead by 221 votes, or 0.01%. Despite Colemans power-hungry demand on November 5 that Al Franken concede and waive his right to the automatic recount, this one will be hand recounted. The Secretary of State is a Democrat and a nerd, so it'll be fair. Some believe that the ballots without a machine-recorded vote favor Franken. Probably no resolution until December. I think our odds are no better than 50%.
  • Gordon Smith (R-OR) was ousted by Jeff Merkley. The race was called on November 6.
Democrats will flip at least 6 seats and Republicans none, for a 57-seat Democratic majority at minimum (counting Sanders and Lieberman, Lieberman's risk of being thrown out of the caucus notwithstanding). There's a lot being said about a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority, but in reality cloture votes rarely go along party lines. The power of Republicans to be obstructionist is much, much diminished even if they retain all three seats still unresolved.


There are a few races still uncalled, but the new House stands at 255-174 so far, with Democrats netting at least 20 seats. Highlights:
  • AK-AL: Alaskans unexpectedly re-elected disgustingly corrupt Don Young. Alaska, have you no shame?
  • AZ-01: My mom's district, an open seat left by corrupt Rick Renzi (R). Flipped blue.
  • AZ-03: The netroots had hoped to retire John Shadegg, member of the Republican House leadership, but failed.
  • CO-04: Republican hate-monger Marilyn Musgrave, incumbent, was ousted.
  • CT-04: Chris Shays, the only House Republican from New England remaining, was ousted.
  • ID-01: Republican hate-monger and lunatic Bill Sali, incumbent, lost to Walt Minnik.
  • MN-03: Stayed red despite being an open seat in a swing district (Western Twin Cities suburbs).
  • MN-06: Voters sent Republican gay-bashing fundamentalist embarrassment Heather Wilson back to Washington. Shame!
  • NM-01: My home town's district. An open seat vacated by Heather Wilson (R) in her pursuit of New Mexico's Senate seat. She lost the primary. Now blue.
  • NM-02: Another New Mexico flip, now blue.
  • NM-03: Stayed blue. No surprise there, but New Mexico's Congressional delegation is now 100% Democratic.


Everyone and everything I endorsed won, with the exception of the yet-to-be-resolved Coleman-Franken race. Wow! That doesn't happen to me very often.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted Today

This morning, my lovely future wife and I proudly voted for Barack Obama and many other liberal men and women who will work together to restore America's standing in the world and begin the task of undoing the long national nightmare wrought upon us by three decades of Republican policies.

We were voters #732 and #733 and waited in line for ~75 minutes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Official Electoral Prediction

Here's my prediction for Tuesday:
(Prediction built using the nice Flash tool over at

Optimistic, yes, but I think the Obama GOTV machine will push us over the top in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri (all currently close in the polls). We'll win Montana because Ron Paul is on the ballot as a third-party spoiler. Early voting in North Carolina is massive too, and we currently enjoy a slim lead in overall polling.

And to be perfectly frank, I believe we have already won. The Kerry states are all safe (even Pennsylvania) and so are New Mexico and Iowa, and Obama has banked a tremendous lead in early voting in Nevada and Colorado, sufficient to win those states even given a substantial loss on Election Day voting. That's 278 electoral votes, 8 more than we need.

(Of course, this all assumes that the giant volunteer GOTV effort continues. No complacency!)


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Reid's Downticket Endorsements

Your vote has a disproportionately high effect on downticket races. Yet, it's much harder to find information on those candidates. This is the reason why your vote is magnified... aside from the smaller voter pool to begin with, many people don't vote. For example, 646,000 people voted for President in Hennepin County in 2004, but only 330,000 voted in the contested Soil & Water Supervisor race (District 5).

Therefore, here's my endorsements on the downticket races on my ballot (South Minneapolis). These aren't based on anything fancy; I just spent the hour reading through candidate statements in the Star Tribune (link) and looking at their websites so you don't have to. Also, I met my state representative, Jim Davnie, last week and took him to be a thoughtful, smart man who generally agreed with me, so I weighted his endorsements fairly highly in my thinking.

You may wish to fill out a sample ballot and take it with you to the polls.

As an aside, I will also be proudly voting for Barack Obama, Al Franken, Keith Ellison, and Jim Davnie (state House).

Constitutional Amendment

"Clean water, wildlife, cultural heritage and natural areas". I will vote yes, though somewhat reluctantly. I do believe it is very important to fund these sorts of efforts. I do not believe it is appropriate to muck around in the state Contstitution for this sort of thing -- it's a funding decision, which is a job for the Legislature. It's a regressive tax, which I don't like. I am also concerned that the Legislature will simply trim discretionary funding, resulting in no net effect. However, I don't trust the Legislature to do much about increasing funding, and if they do, I expect Pawlenty to veto it. Also, the amendment sunsets in 25 years.

Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor - District 3

(District 1 is unopposed.)

I will vote for James Wisker. He's young, but he has a relevant degree, has relevant and reasonable opinions, and seems to be taking the race seriously.

Other candidates:
  • Richard A. Klatte - Does not appear to be serious. Candidate statement (in full): "Global Warming. Making big oil companies pay for cleaning the air, water, and soil they've destroyed."
  • Rahn V Workcuff - Candidate statement is anti-gay-marriage rant.
  • Ben Torell - Too corporate; candidate statement is ungrammatical and badly capitalized. Also, he's a snowmobile/ATV safety instructor, and I don't want anyone associated with those horrible machines anywhere near my soil and water. I suspect he may be a "wise use" right-winger.
Soil & Water Supervisor - District 5

In this race I was not particularly happy with either candidate. However, I will vote for Jeffrey A. Beck (not the Jeff Beck who works in GroupLens) because he's not the other candidate.

Other candidates:
  • Karl Hanson - Anti-government right-winger. Candidate statement talks about property owners' right to "absolutely minimal government interference" and reducing taxes.
School Board

I will be voting for:
  • Lydia Lee - Candidate statement seems reasonable and thoughtful. Endorsed by people I like. Also (and this is silly), she lives near one of my friends, whose neighbors like her.
  • Carla Bates - Endorsements by people I like, including Davnie. Has a Ph.D. She is a lesbian, and so I suspect she'd bring an important perspective to the school board.
  • Jill Davis - Endorsed by people I like. Mentions sustainability.
Other candidates:
  • Doug Mann - Doesn't seem to be a serious candidate (Strib photo is awful).
  • Sharon Henry-Blythe - Incumbent, but no candidate photo on Strib. No endorsements from people I know. No campaign website.
  • Kari Reed - Home-schooler. No serious endorsements. Opposes school funding referendum (below). I fail to see how a serious school board candidate can oppose increasing school funding; the job is to advocate for schools and that includes advocating for resources.
School District Ballot Question 1

This is a funding referendum that will increase property taxes. I will be voting yes because I have never heard anything about public schools being in anything other than an urgent to desperate financial situation. My mom was a schoolteacher for many years and always struggled for adequate funding.

School District Ballot Question 2

This expands the school board from 7 to 9 seats and introduces 6 district-based seats. (Currently, all seats are at-large.) I will be voting yes because this eliminates the need for all candidates to run an expensive city-wide campaign and because it ensures that all parts of the city have representation (currently, North Minneapolis regularly gets shafted).

Supreme Court - Associate Justice 3

I will be voting for Paul H. Anderson (incumbent) because he seems pretty reasonable and Tim Tingelstad is a right-wing nutjob and strict constructionist, just like Scalia and Thomas.

Supreme Court - Associate Justice 4

I will be voting for Lorie Skjerven Gildea (incumbent) because she seems pretty reasonable and there's strong circumstantial evidence (2nd section) that Deborah Hedlund responds with agreement to racist anti-Obama hate e-mail.

Court of Appeals - Judge 16

I will be voting for Terri J. Stoneburner (inc) because she seems pretty reasonable and Dan Griffith is running to make a statement about judicial elections, not because he wants the seat.

4th District Court - Judge 9

I will vote for Philip D. Bush (inc), despite the fact that his name is Bush, because he seems pretty reasonable, is endorsed by people I like, and Eugene Link did not respond to the Strib candidate profile questionnaire.

4th District Court - Judge 53

I will vote for Jane Ranum because she's endorsed by people I like and talks about procedural fairness. David J. Piper is endorsed by a bunch of sheriffs, which makes me suspicious.

4th District Court - Judge 58

No endorsement here... I couldn't figure it out. James T. Swenson (inc) seems reasonable, endorsed by Arne Carlson, but also Sheriff Rich Stanek (yeccch). Thomas F. Haeg - nothing much interesting here either. He talks a lot about cutting costs, which is often code for right-wing nutjobbery. Anticlimactic, I know... sorry! If you have any ideas, please let me know.

Here's another analysis of the Minneapolis ballot which I found interesting: Turtle's Voting Guide: The Whole Darn Ballot. He's more or less in agreement with me, with some more nuanced views on the school board races/referenda in particular.

That's all folks! Go vote! This may be the most important election of your lifetime.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama: Photo + Door-Knocking

Here's one of the most moving Obama photos I've come across this campaign:

The image is by Callie Shell, and there are lots more extraordinary photos from the campaign trail at her website. The caption reads:
These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, "Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King's words can be true for them." Jan. 21, 2008.
What kind of future do young black men have to believe in if we elect Barack Obama? The Presidency of the United States. What kind of future if we elect John McCain? Prison.

(One in nine black men between the ages of 18 and 34 are currently behind bars. That's appalling and shows a total failure by all of us, collectively.)

In other news, I spent a few hours door-knocking for Obama's final-days get-out-the-vote effort. This task is not for me; I found it extremely difficult and emotionally draining, and this is in a heavily Democratic area (79% for Kerry in 2004). I don't think I'll be doing it again; it's just not me.

My respect and gratitude to those who do this day after day. I know that many people have different personality types and don't find it as difficult, but still.

One cool thing was that I got to meet Mayor Rybak and Jim Davnie, my state House Representative. Now, in a district like mine, Davnie is extremely safe. I asked him about this (he is actively campaigning even though he could probably win doing nothing) and was quite impressed by his answer: "The people deserve a race." Jim Davnie is a good man, and you should vote for him.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

496 Obama Buttons

This is what 496 Obama buttons looks like:

I counted them. We'd ordered 500 and had given away 7 before this pic was taken.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cyclopath Writeup in the Minnesota Daily

An article about Cyclopath was published on Tuesday in the Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota student newspaper. Brief excerpt:

Loren Terveen, associate professor in the computer science and engineering department, worked with Priedhorsky to get the project off the ground.

Terveen said Cyclopath creates several technical research challenges, including figuring out how to monitor geographic editing in a wiki and what tools are needed to edit a geographic entry.

“The tools you need to edit a map are more complicated than those for a text wiki,” he said.

p.s. It's getting cold, which means that the cat it getting cuddlier. The cat likes to sit on my lap even if I'm trying to type. This makes typing somewhat more difficult.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reid on KMSP

I was interviewed about Cyclopath by KMSP ("Fox 9"), one of the local TV channels, for their 10:00 news on 10/14. Here's the video:

Some thoughts, carefully numbered but in no particular order:
  1. The news people at KMSP, as a whole, know nothing about bicycling -- pedal misspelled as peddle, intro refers to the map as a way to "get off the streets" (the whole point of the cycling movement is to get accepted as traffic).
  2. Talking to the press is fun.
  3. Being interviewed by local TV news is extremely cursory. Few follow-up questions; basically it was "Tell your story. Go."
  4. If you're interviewed for TV or radio, observe whether the interviewer is miked: if not, then remember that the questions will not be included in the final cut, and adjust your answers accordingly.
  5. Overall, I thought the story was decent. Good publicity.
I also have a piece coming out in the Minnesota Daily on Tuesday. I'll blog about that too when it's out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pinto Beans

Erin graciously helped me put in a 32x2 bean patch along the side fence this spring. We planted pinto beans and sunflowers. The beans were plain old bulk pinto beans from the co-op.

Between the bunnies and the slugs, it was a hard life for the beans. Erin says pinto beans are bush beans, but the happiest plants were the ones that climbed up the fence before being eaten by the slugs and bunnies.

I harvested 346g of pinto beans, about 1-3/4 cups beans or roughly a week's supply for Erin and me. That's 920 beans, or 14 beans per square foot.

We originally planted three rows of beans with a spacing of something like 6 beans/foot, i.e. 18 beans per square foot or about 1150 beans planted. Hmmm....

However, I feel like I've learned a lot and have high hopes for next year.


I had thought the mushrooms were over -- declining yield, a failed flush, and then the sawdust block they're growing on was crushed.

But after waiting a rather long while (most other flushes had begun to emerge within 1-3 days), I got a flush. Here's the result.

The yield: 1oz. Not much, but infinity percent more than I was expecting.

On the suggestion of my friend Aaron, I began regulating humidity using dampened perlite. This is highly effective; humidity hovered around 85-90% with no spritzing, ever. Yay.

There were some fruit flies in the terrarium, which is kind of yucky. I hope that this can be avoided in the future.

Aaron has also promised me some oyster mushroom spawn soon. These grow on coffee grounds so I'm looking forward to that. Maybe they will be less finicky than the shiitake.

So, I'm going to continue with this shiitake block. I'll have to think up something to support the falling-apart sawdust block.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Photo on a Book Cover (belated)

Way back in April, I received an e-mail out of the blue from the art director at St. Martin's Press asking if he could use one of my photos on the cover of one of their mystery novels.

Long story short, I said yes and made $800. Wow!!!

Here is the cover in question:

And here's the original photo (from one of my trip reports). It's Angleworm Lake in the Boundary Waters.

I sat on the news until the book was published in August so that I could mail copies to family and surprise them... but then I slacked off and didn't post about it here, until now.

I haven't read the book and don't know if it's any good. My mom says it's pretty good but not great. (I was paid a flat fee, so it doesn't matter to me if you buy it or not.)

Backscatter Spam Explosion

Wednesday morning, I woke up to a huge e-mail inbox. Both my inbox and my spam folder were clogged with thousands of unwanted e-mails, and the mail system (I run my own e-mail server) was groaning under the load.

What happened? "Backscatter". Someone had sent off a big load of spam with my e-mail as the return address, so I got all the bounces from the misconfigured servers out there that believed I'd really sent the junk -- 15,000-20,000 of them, I think.

So... I spend the morning cleaning up this garbage. I had to disconnect my mail server from the Internet (to stop the continued flood), and disable my spam detection (SpamAssassin) because that seemed to be a bottleneck.

One of the related problems was that if placing an e-mail in my inbox failed (which may did because the system was so clogged up), that would cause ANOTHER e-mail to be sent to me notifying me of the problem... sigh.

Here's a screenshot of Thunderbird in the middle of the mess. I had already sorted through maybe half of the unwanted mails.

Anyway... bottom line, it was a crummy morning. Lessons learned:
  1. is wonderful. This blacklist lets me simply ignore many/most misconfigured systems that want to give me backscatter spam.
  2. Do not, repeat, do not use a lockfile for your SpamAssassin procmail recipe. This is why mail was not getting through. SpamAssassin takes several seconds to process an e-mail, and because I had it set to use a lockfile, only one SpamAssassin instance would run at once. In other words, I could only receive ~1000 e-mails per hour on a sustained basis before some e-mails were at risk of being dropped, and in a backscatter or spam flood like this, the rate is much higher. Here is the recipe I use now:

# Send mail through SpamAssassin. Note that we do NOT use a lockfile (unlike
# many examples on the net) in order to avoid timing out delivery under
# sustained spam barrages (we do use lockfiles below to serialize the actual
# delivery into folders).
* < 262144
| /usr/bin/spamassassin

(Note: Yes, I should be using spamd, and I plan to, but I haven't gotten to it yet.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cyclopath Publicity (updated)

A couple of minor publicity items for Cyclopath:
  • An article written by Rick Moore for the University's internal news service: U researcher unveils 'geowiki' for cyclists. I'm not sure what the visibility of this is; I was told it would be on the U home page but have not seen it there in the past few days. This was the "Featured Article" in the Education and Outreach section of the (unfortunately Flash-based new) UMN home page; it never appeared on the home page itself, but was two clicks away.
  • Robin Garwood, staffer for Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon, blogged the project on the official Second Ward blog: Cyclopath!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Today I harvested my sunflowers. They were planted along the fence in front, to provide color for folks looking up or down the block. I had not planned to harvest the seeds, but there were so many that the prospect of free sunflower seeds became very compelling.

Here is the product:

I think there may be enough seeds for myself and about 20 of my closest friends. If you are local and want some seeds, let me know. There are bright yellow and pale yellow, and I know which is which. Both grew to about 6 feet. I don't know if the seeds will grow true.

Here is a close-up on one of the largest heads. Note the many interlocking spirals:

Monday, September 22, 2008

9/19 Radio Interview

Last Friday, I had a brief live interview with WCCO Radio about Cyclopath. Here's the audio (4 minutes): 2008-09-19_wcco.mp3.

John McCain on Personal Greed

Barack & Michelle Obama:
  • One (1) house
  • One (1) car
  • No (0) airplanes
John & Cindy McCain:
  • Eight (8) houses
  • Thirteen (13) cars
  • One (1) airplane

Sunday, September 21, 2008

America's Fortune Cookie

The other day Erin, my lovely FW, was eating dinner at Evergreen, a local Chinese restaurant. She recieved this fortune. I think there may have been a mix-up at the fortune cookie factory.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

John McCain Is a Liar

For proof... mosey over to, it's pretty clear.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This Is No Ordinary Election

OK, this campaign video actually made me cry.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary election. And this may be our last chance to reclaim the America we love!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Read Discworld... All of It

Starting with The Colour of Magic, completed on February 3, through Thief of Time on August 26, I read all 32 main-line Discworld books this year.

Lest you be disappointed at my progress rate, I should point out that I've read 26 other books this year so far, too, for just under 0.8 times my height.

The list of books read this year and past. No RSS feed on the book list, unfortunately.

Sad news: Apparently Terry Pratchett is getting old. Ouch.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain Interferes with Hurricane Gustav Preparations

John McCain is headed to the Gulf Coast to do... something?

Moira Whelan of the Huffington Post writes:
John McCain's mere suggestion that he should go there shows his horrific and dangerous judgment. If it actually happens, which hopefully it does not [it did], then he will actually be doing harm. Because he is a presidential candidate, air traffic stops when he lands, roads are closed, and press follow him. Secret service and law enforcement personnel have to make sure everything is secure. That means all of these things STOP WORKING to make the area safer for the people getting out and protecting their homes. The only thing working in the favor of emergency management professionals are the noticeably small crowds at McCain perhaps people will not be motivated to stay around.
Bonus: more comedy gold from McGaffe Machine:

"I think Sen. Obama, if they want to go down that route, in all candor, she has far, far more experience than Sen. Obama does," McCain said.

He cited Palin's stint as governor of a "state that produces 20 percent of America's energy" as well as her previous membership in the PTA and her time spent on the city council and in the mayor's office in Wasilla, a town of fewer than 7,000 people outside Anchorage.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, John McCain cited Palin's PTA experience as a relevant qualification for the Vice Presidency of the United States.

"The Worst Vice-Presidential Nominee in U.S. History"

Today's recommended reading: Robert Elisberg explains why Ms. Palin is "the worst Vice-Presidential nominee in U.S. history":

Vice presidents are usually selected as people who are adept at blasting the other side's presidential candidate, because it's only the presidential candidate that matters. Joe Biden has already done that - twice - at length, spoken as someone who knows John McCain well and likes him. Sarah Palin had her first chance...and whiffed. Didn't even try. And it's hard to imagine what she has in her arsenal that will remotely allow her to do so in the future....

Now add on all the problems expressed above. Sarah Palin's inexplicably laughable lack of substance, most-especially on the foreign policy stage. Her taking away the one issue, experience, Republicans were even attempting. Her pushing away voters who might otherwise be willing to vote for a senator with 26 years in the Senate. Her bringing Hillary Clinton aggressively back into the campaign. Her inability to offer anything to off-set Joe Biden. Her standing as supposedly the most-qualified Republican woman as John McCain's first decision.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack Obama at the DNC

Obama's nomination speech at Invesco Field. Folks waited in line for 6 miles to see him. It's a good one. Definitely worth your 50 minutes.

It was so good, Pat Buchanan loved it. (In case you don't know, Buchanan is a far-right whack job, e.g. regarding AIDS: he believes homosexuals have "declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution".)

Sarah Palin? Really? Mr. McCain, Can I Please Have Some of What You Are Smoking?

Turns out the Republican VP pick is Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska for the past 21 months.

Er... huh?

Reasons that Palin is a good pick:
  1. She's a woman.
  2. She's an interesting and unexpected pick.
  3. She locks up Alaska for McCain: it was a stretch for Obama anyway, it's a small state, and it's typically ignored by Presidential campaigns.
Reasons that Palin is a completely stupid pick:
  1. Hillary Clinton, a woman with great credibility on women's issues, beloved by millions of women across the country, will tear her a new one and can do so without accusations of sexism. In other words: she was clearly chosen in order to appeal to women. It's obvious pandering at best and idiocy at worst.
  2. She is strongly pro-life anti-choice. Female swing voters are mostly pro-choice.
  3. Alaska has 3 electoral votes.
  4. She's the target of an ethics investigation demanded by the Republican legislature in a state where the Republican Party is in serious trouble due to widespread ethical problems.
  5. She endorsed Barack Obama's energy plan.
  6. She is a creationist, and the Republican Party is already taking heat for being anti-science.
  7. Joe Biden wipes the floor with her in any comparison and will crush her in the VP debate.
  8. She recently dissed the office of VP.
  9. She might not have been thoroughly vetted.
  10. Even without all of that, Palin is a completely stupid pick because she eliminates McCain's best argument against Obama, and one of the few effective ones: that he is too young and inexperienced to be President. Palin is younger and less experienced than Obama. Less than two years ago, what was her job? Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 6,715.
Frankly, I think that McCain had picked Mitt Romney, but then when the houses thing came up, since the Romneys are even more disgustingly rich than the McCains, he was forced to abandon that plan.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Joe Biden at the DNC

Another knockout speech, this one from Joe Biden, Vice Presidential nominee.

The best part is the part where he talks about his mom starting about 5:30. She was in the audience. If I can make my mom one tenth as proud as she looked, I'll know that I've succeeded mightily.


August 28 is the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton at the DNC

Hillary Clinton addressing the DNC. Very, very well done: an extraordinary speech, a wholehearted, sincere endorsement of Barack Obama, and a clear call for her supporters to help elect him.

Honest and sincere Hillary Clinton comes across very well. If this had been the woman who ran for the party's nomination starting in January, she would have gotten it.

I wonder, however, if she does better without the pressure of the candidacy.

Here she is during the roll call vote moving that Barack Obama be nominated by unanimous voice acclimation:

Bonus Video

Everyone's favorite Congressdork, Dennis Kucinich. He's on fire!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Many Houses Does John McCain Own? McCain Himself Does Not Know.

In a spectacular gaffe that would be comedy gold were it not for the dire importance of the election this fall, here's John McCain on how many houses he owns (listen):
Q: How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?
A: I think, uh ... I'll let my staff get to you and tell you about that ...
Politico (who did the interview) reported it as:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
Interestingly, it actually is unclear how many houses he owns -- do you count the two luxury condos combined by remodel as one or two? how about the one ranch with three dwellings? -- but there's nothing in McCain's answer suggesting this thought process. He just said, "I don't know". (I counted six, though others have produced numbers as large as nine.)

Democrats smell blood. The new theme is that McCain is:
  1. Out of touch at home.
  2. Reckless abroad.
It seems to be effective, enough so that Obama has apparently delayed the VP announcement planned for today. A fine political day after the dismal polling releases yesterday.

UPDATE 8/22:

Here's yesterday's network news on the matter (hat tip). Ouch!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

John McCain Doesn't Know What Middle Class Means

John McCain being interviewed at the Saddleback Forum last weekend:
Q: Define rich.
A: ... if you’re just talking about income, how about $5 million.
From the Carpetbagger Report:
As far as McCain is concerned, if you make $4.9 million a year, more than 99.9% of the population, you’re not quite rich.
In graphical form (click for bigness):

This has led to an excellent DNC attack ad:

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Have Readers I Don't Know

So, one of my older posts mused about how many houses John McCain owns and how the number (six) is excessive. Recently I've received a couple of comments on it from people I don't know. Interesting. Why might this be? Well (click for bigness)...

I'm kind of baffled how this happened, particularly since it doesn't seem to be an obscure search (1M+ hits). But... cool huh?

(Incidentally, if you read this blog and I don't know you, please comment. I'd love to know how and why you found it.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Milli Vanilli, China Style

From the AP: Olympic opening uses girl's voice, not face

"The real singer, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, with her chubby face and crooked baby teeth, wasn't good looking enough for the ceremony, its chief music director told state-owned Beijing Radio."

Update, 8/13 9:30am:

Here's the pics (from Windsor Star). Girl on the left was too ugly to sing in public.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Two Good Obama Ads

This one is running nationally during the Olympics:

This one is running in Nevada. While I'm a supporter of more nuke power, and lots of it, myself, I understand that the Democratic platform is anti-nuke. I like this one because it's such a clear whack at McCain's nuke positions: storing waste at Yucca Mountain, yes, trucking said waste through Arizona, no.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

10,000 Reasons Awards Event

As mentioned earlier, one of my photos won an honorable mention in a local photo contest. Today was the awards event.

Here's me with my photo:

I wasn't all that excited by the event itself. There was mingling for an hour, which Erin and I don't really enjoy and aren't too good at, though I did talk to a couple of folks from Friends of the Boundary Waters who were very impressed by my photo.

This was followed by an awards ceremony which was about 30% clapping and 50% giving fundraising awards to organizations participating in the MEF (sponsor of the contest) fund drive. I got a certificate and the foam-core print, which is pretty nice but is on plain paper.

The winning photos are online (and all look much better onscreen than on paper). Apparently, I was the 2nd honorable mention. Of the photos ahead of mine, I thought the 1st and 2nd place winners, and the 1st honorable mention, were very strong. I thought the 3rd-place winner was also very strong except for a severe composition error (a man's head aligns perfectly with the horizon, which looks weird) which IMO should have nixed it.

Also, Erin took a photo on our most recent BWCAW trip which I thought was simply extraordinary and which I believe to be a shoo-in winner next year.

Finally, here is our cat in a box:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

John McCain the Maverick?

Well, maybe if you define "maverick" as "voting with Bush 9 times out of 10".

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Fourth flush. 3.2 oz this time; up, but less than I was hoping for.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Cyclopath Publicity

Further publicity for Cyclopath: The project is (well, I am) on the front page of the CS Department web site. (Click for image for bigger.) Cool huh?

These news items also display on flat panel monitors the department has wasted thousands of dollars on installed throughout the building.

Mushrooms: In other news, I have another flush of mushrooms going -- 4 mushrooms, perhaps more. Pics on harvest sometime in the coming days.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cyclopath Writeups in Both Major Twin Cities Newspapers

The Twin Cities are a two-newspaper town. The Pioneer Press also published a nice story about Cyclopath today. Excerpt:

Cyclopath is [...] a geographic wiki, which any user can edit. On a block-by-block basis, you can add, change or correct the roads, paths, bike lanes and even alleys and sidewalks over the seven-county area and rate them for bikeability.

You can add recommendations, warnings, comments and critiques. And you can add important landmarks, such as locations of ice cream vendors, bars, pizza joints, coffee shops, repair stores, drinking fountains and portable toilets, all from a bicyclist's point of view.

I like the Pi Press article slightly better because it describes Cyclopath's features more effectively, and also because it's the lead item, with a photo, on the Pi Press home page.

Other cool things happening this morning:
  1. As a result of the publicity, I'm receiving requests to be a tester and/or to be notified when Cyclopath goes live every few minutes.
  2. Cyclopath is on the Most E-Mailed list on the Star Tribune front page.
  3. Cyclopath is #4 on the Most Viewed list on the Pioneer Press front page.
  4. Cyclopath is #1 on the Most E-Mailed list on the Pioneer Press front page:


Turns out the Pi Press article was on the front page!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cyclopath Writeup in the Star Tribune

My project, Cyclopath, is featured in a story in tomorrow's Star Tribune. Excerpt:

It's the kind of spokes-to-the-street information that cyclists crave. Riders can rate road conditions block by block, enter text descriptions, pinpoint interesting places and fix faulty map data throughout the seven-county metro area. Then Cyclopath crunches the information and returns personalized routes based on a "bikeability" rating.

"There are lots of bike maps out there, and I think each of them have significant failings," Priedhorsky said. "Who knows where cyclists can go? Well, cyclists do, and they know better than anybody else."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How many houses does John McCain own?

At least six (four more than a senator needs):
  1. A $4.7 million, 6,000-square-foot condo in Phoenix.
  2. A $2.7 million beachfront condo near San Diego.
  3. Another $2.1 million beachfront condo near San Diego.
  4. A $1.8 million, 15-acre creekfront ranch in Yavapai County, Arizona.
  5. A $1 million beachfront condo in La Jolla, California.
  6. A $850,000 condo in Arlington, Virginia.
Bonus property excess:
  • The McCains bought their daughter Meghan a condo, in cash, for $700,000 when she graduated from college last spring. No word on who pays the association fees.
The McCains also own a rental condo which they are currently trying to sell. It can be yours for $730,000.

The total value of McCain real estate is $13,800,000.

Yet despite their large net worth, the McCains can't manage their credit cards responsibly, and John McCain doesn't understand the economy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mushrooms 3

I harvested the 3rd flush of mushrooms today. Only 1.75 oz this time; hopefully this trend won't continue. Perhaps the mushrooms are too warm or not humid enough? I will move them from the living room down to the basement for the next one.

I Win Honorable Mention in Local Photo Contest

The above photo won an Honorable Mention in the 10,000 Reasons Why Photo Contest, sponsored by the Minnesota Environmental Fund. I get to go to an awards ceremony on August 7, and they are going to make a real big print for that event.

Photo in context (near the bottom).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Would John McCain vote to authorize the Iraq war, even knowing what he knows now?

Yes, yes he would. Viz:
In an interview with reporters on the back of his campaign bus, the “Straight Talk Express” Monday afternoon, McCain said that even in retrospect he would still have voted to authorize the war, as he did in 2002.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marilyn's Incredible Red Sauce

This is a recipe for incredible red enchilada sauce given to us by a family friend, Marilyn Yeamans. "Marilyn's" is technically a misnomer since she apparently got it from Rancho de Chimayo, a restaurant in Chimayo, New Mexico? But that's how I think of it.

The recipe below is how my lovely FW, Erin, makes it.

Makes approximately 5 cups

1/2-3/4 cups dried ground red chile, high quality
2 generous slices fresh onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp water
  1. Saute or carmelize onions in a large, heavy sauce pan.
  2. Add chile, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Slowly add the broth, stirring carefully. Break up any lumps of chile.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium heat until warmed through, and add the cornstarch.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The completed sauce should coat a spoon thickly and no longer taste of raw cornstarch. Sauce keeps well in refrigerator or freezer, though texture may be affected if frozen.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Science Killed Tim Russert?

I finished reading a quite remarkable book the other week, In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (Amazon).

In it, Pollan tears down mainstream thinking on food and how to eat - "nutritionism" - arguing that to be healthy, one simply should "eat food, not too much, mostly plants".

But in a deeper sense, the book is an efficient and persuasive critique of science, pointing out how its failures over the last century have led us Westerners to a diet that slowly kills us. Those failures are:
  1. Hubris.
  2. Failure to stand up to those who twist our results to their own profitable ends.
These failures in the 40's and 50's led to the environmental disasters that we struggle to clean up today, and these failures in the 70's, 80's, and 90's led to the public health disaster that is only beginning to emerge.

Tim Russert died of cornary artery disease, one of a constellation of "Western diseases" rare outside the "civilized" world. As scientists, we all share the burden of his death and the duty to improve our field so that it truly and fully serves the interests of the people.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

John McCain Is Not a Moderate On Reproductive Issues

John McCain would have you believe he is a moderate. In 1999, he explained (quoted by Cliff Schecter via Joe Conason):
I'd love to see a point where [Roe v. Wade] is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force x number of women to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.
But what does his 2008 campaign website have to say on this issue?
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.
I didn't go digging for this. It's the first paragraph on his "Human Dignity and Sanctity of Life" issue page.

Conason elaborates:
Perhaps he honestly cares about reducing the number of abortions. If so, he might want to encourage broad access to contraception and sex education, since he probably remembers what young people tend to do (and what he tended to do as often as possible when he was young and not so young).

On these issues McCain might, in other words, think for himself. Instead he merely parrots the ... far right, who vainly hope to prevent sex but in fact promote teenage pregnancy - and abortion as well as sexually transmitted disease - by blocking contraception and sex education. He simply doesn't care about [or doesn't understand] the toxic effect of these policies on young women. He prefers mindless posturing to thoughtful policymaking, as he demonstrated a year ago when he fumbled reporters' questions about condoms, contraception and AIDS...
Not only is McCain computer illiterate, he lacks even basic understanding of how condoms work. The New York Times was there:

Q: ... Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) You’ve stumped me.

Read the rest of the exchange if you think I've quoted him out of context to make him look dumb. The reporter goes on to ask him specifically about condoms, and McCain still has nothing.

To summarize, John McCain:

  1. Wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, period.
  2. Opposes scientifically accurate sex ed which is effective in reducing teen pregnancy and slowing the spread of disease.
Further reading: "Of condoms, Clinton, Obama and McCain", by Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. (Source for point #2 above.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A 78-Mile Grand Canyon Dayhike

This man is named Davy Crockett, and he took a dayhike from the North Rim to Boucher Creek and back in 33 hours. That's 78 miles. Details.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More Mushrooms

Above is a photo of my 2nd flush of shittake mushrooms, taken this morning. I harvested all 7 mushrooms today and the yield was 5.8 oz, down slightly from 7.5oz in 4 mushrooms for the first flush.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Barack Obama's Nomination Victory Rally

Last week, Barack Obama came to St. Paul to declare victory in the Democratic nomination battle. The rally was downtown at the Xcel Energy Center. I attended with colleagues Shilad Sen, Andrew Sheppard, and Rich Davies and some of their wives/friends/colleagues.

Doors were set to open at 7:00 pm. We managed to find the back of the line about 6:15. Rich appeared mysteriously -- he said he'd been tracking the rest of us from the opposite side of the line for several blocks. We got in line on Kellogg between Wabasha and Cedar (about 0.85 miles from the front, as it computed later!). The line continued to grow at a walking pace as people streamed past us on both sides.

As we were waiting, we did a little awkward Internet surfing on Shilad's smart phone and discovered that Barack had only 10 delegates to go. This would be the night!

Bob Collins at MPR created this map of the line as part of his excellent writeup of it. As it turns out we were only about halfway back!

We had been doing some math. I'd estimated that 3 people per foot of line: this converts to about 1.25 miles for 20,000 people, the approximate capacity of the Xcel Energy Center. While we were waiting, Rich counted counted people and came up with a much more generous figure of 1 person per foot. As it turns out, however, 17,000 people got in while 15,000 more had to watch on the jumbotrons outside. Assuming that 1 mile of line got through the doors, that's 3.2 people per foot; if the total line containing 17+15 = 32,000 people was 1.7 miles long as Bob Collins figures, that's 3.6 people per foot.

Anyway, we stood around for a long while, until 7:30 or so?, with one false start where we gained about half a block. Then the line started moving and we shuffled slowly towards the Xcel.

On 5th St. we got word by text message that no food or umbrellas would be permitted inside. This reminded me that I was carrying my Leatherman tool -- yipes! However, one of Katy Sen's friends was kind enough to let me go back to her car and stash my tool inside. So there was a mad dash by me several blocks up St. Peter and back to the line.

After 2.5 hours waiting we finally got through the doors and wound our way through the bowels of the Xcel to some really excellent seats. I was surprised that they were still available since the place was mostly full when we arrived. We didn't have long to wait.

First up was JoAnn Syverson, someone I didn't know. Turns out she is a communications professor at the U of M and didn't hear until the day before that the campaign wanted her to introduce Barack. Anyway, she gave an excellent speech. Her body language read clearly even though we were so very far away.

Shilad got a great shot of her giving the first really big crowd response line of the night ("I love being a Democrat, and I love Barack Obama!", you can see it on the closed caption):

And here's a video of her speech:

We were expecting another introductory speaker, but no: "Ladies and gentlemen... please join me in welcoming Michelle Obama [crowd stands, loud cheering begins] ... and the person we know will be the Democratic party's nominee [louder] and the next President of the United States, [even louder] Senator Barack Obama!" The crowd goes absolutely bananas.

Pandemonium continues. It takes a minute and 44 seconds from when Barack Obama comes to the podium until the crowd calms down enough for him to speak.

It's an awesome speech. Here's the video:

And here's my panorama of the scene (click for bigness):

It's an extremely enthusiastic crowd. I timed some of the big response lines:
  • Arrival at podium - cheering for 1:44
  • "Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America" - 0:49
  • "Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America" - 0:49 also
  • Talking about education ("recruit an army of new teachers") - 0:40, though basically the crowd went nuts for the whole sequence, to the degree that I had to read what he was saying off the Jumbotron since I couldn't hear it.
  • Thank you, Minnesota - 0:29 until the end of the video, though the crowd more or less went crazy for the whole last 3 minutes of the speech, starting with "America, this is our moment!".
The New York Times provided a transcript. Here's the money quote:

"Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs to the jobless, this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal, this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment, this was the time, when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals."

And that was it. What a night.

I will be incredibly proud to cast my vote this November.

Other coverage:


John McCain also gave a speech June 3. And, well... even Fox News thought it was awful. Attendance was 600. I won't subject you to the whole thing, but here is a mashup between McCain and Obama on June 3. Don't miss the dehydrated babies line at 1:20.

Finally, I leave you with a photo of John McCain: