Link payback

Debra Galant, who writes from New Jersey for the New York Times, has a blog in which she explains the universe. Here’s an Onionesque take on the subject of “Open Heart Fundraisers.

WUTEGGSIT, N.J. — The Wuteggsit PTA was devastated today to learn that its spring open-heart surgery fundraiser will be cancelled because of threatened lawsuit by a major New Jersey hospital trade group.

All my Macs

I’ve been a Mac user since 1990. This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh, so I figured I may as well make an accounting of all the Macs I’ve owned.

The first was one of those boxy little Macs with the tiny screen — they called it the Macintosh SE. It had a 20-megabyte hard drive, five megs of RAM, and a black and white screen. I think I paid $800 for it, secondhand. It also came with one of the earliest porn apps, “Macplaymate,” which allowed the user to help a digital girl disrobe and do sexy things. Fun for about a week. First addition I bought was an external hard drive … $400 for 100 megs.

The second was a Mac IIsi — my first Mac with color monitor. I paid $2,500 for it in 1990, plus the trade-in of my old Mac SE. The IIsi had 5 megs of RAM, upgradeable to 17, which cost $800 or so. One of my first additions was a CD-ROM drive. The IIsi was a sturdy little beast, but slow, underpowered and lacking in upgrade potential. Didn’t take long for me to have visions of new digital sugarplums.

In the early 1990s, Apple came out with its Power PC line, based on a more powerful processor. I, of course, had to have one. I bought a Power Macintosh 7500 in 1995 for about $2,500. It came with a CD-ROM drive built in and had room for a lot more RAM, by the standards of the day. I think I may have had a whopping 96 megs of it. Back then it was a big deal to have a 1-gigabyte hard drive. Ah, the good old days. I built my first Web site on this machine.

In the fall of 1998 I had the upgrade itch again, so I bought one of the G3 Minitowers. It cost about $3,000. This one had room for tons of RAM (I eventually maxed it out 768 megs when RAM got dirt cheap after tech bubble popped.) My third Mac was the first one that really felt fast and powerful. It also was my last Mac with a floppy drive. We were still using it around our house up until this month, when we donated it to Melissa’s brother.

Two years ago, Melissa had some money burning a hole in her pocket so she bought me a Quicksilver G4 for Christmas. She splurged on the flat-panel Apple Studio Display and an Ipod, which had just come on the market back then. The G4 is super fast and super powerful, though I suspect Apple has done what it feared most: built me a computer I may never have to replace.

Finally, my most recent Mac is a G4 iBook laptop. It’s a handy little ditty for surfing the Web and blogging from the living room couch, and the wireless access is way cool. It’s fast and powerful for a laptop; boots up in a jiffy even running OSX. Battery life is 3-4 hours … passable but not wonderful.

Overall I’ve had wonderful experience with Macs. For a dark stretch in the mid-90s I had to recommend people buy PCs because Apple was so inept. But these days there’s not much of a price to be paid for owning a Mac, and you get great equipment built stylishly that works well.


Had a sneaking suspicion after last week’s Packers-Eagles game that the Eagles could be beaten. Donovan McNabb’s running was the X factor last week, and his rib injury this week made it pretty plain the Eagles had everything riding on McNabb. His inability to run totally defused his greatest threat — forcing defenses to respect that he can run on any play.

Didn’t see the Panthers play all season, so I didn’t know what to expect. They shut down the Eagles in ways that eluded the Packers last week. Have to respect ’em in the Super Bowl.

But, seriously, the Patriots seem like a lock this year. They have momentum like the Bears had when they pounded the Patriots back in the mid-’80s.

Patriots-Colts wrapup

Patriots spent half the game looking like the Team of Destiny and the other half reassuring each of their potential rivals in the upcoming Super Bowl that no matter how bleak things look, the Pats’ll give ’em a chance to get back in it.

Gotta give the Colts credit for being good enough to get to the AFC championship and eek out whatever breaks they could scrape up, of course. Peyton Manning can pass up a storm against almost anybody, except the Patriots. And I may as well bring this up again: Manning has had bad days every time I’ve seen him play. It’s like me watching him is a curse. Maybe I’ll call him up and see how much he’ll pay me not to watch any of his games next year. I’ll do it for a reasonable price, say $500,000. (Look, nobody plays for peanuts in this league.)

Summation: Killer pass defense trumps killer quarterback.

Patriots-Colts, second half

0:55: Adam Vinatieri, the kicker, has a chance to put it away. It’s good. And goodbye Colts. 24-14 Pats.

1:16: Field goal try to ice the game. Pats kicker is due to miss one.

1:20: Holy crap, Tom Brady rolls out, fumbles the ball away. Do the Colts have one more chance? Wow, replay shows Brady clearly down before the ball came loose. This call will be overruled.

1:48: Manning can’t find an open receiver on 4th and 10. Barring a miracle, looks lke the Pats are headed for the Super Bowl.

1:51: 3rd & 10 for Manning. Pats defense is gonna come at him hard. Manning pass misfires.

2 minute warning: Manning’s 80 yards away from tying the game. Can Peyton Manning engineer The Drive to keep the Colts alive? My hunch is no.

2:16: Pats intent on keeping the Colts in the game. Troy Brown drops a first down pass he desperately needs to catch.

2:19: Pats need a first down … they need to be aggressive … second down pass batted down.

2:22: Colts need an onside kick to go their way. No luck; Pats recover. Interestingly, the tight end who dropped two touchdown passes may have saved the game by making the catch.

2:27: Manning TD pass to Marcus Pollard. PAT good; 21-14 Pats.

2:57: First and goal at the 10. Manning has a few tricks left.

3:19: Completion to the 25.

4:15: Desperation pass to Troy Walters nets a first down.

4:56: Manning sacked; Jarvis Green nails him for the third time today.

5:30: Colts at midfield; Edgerrin James takes a pass down to the Pats 42.

6:10: Colts can probably score once, but can they score twice? Pats need to stay in the defense that got ’em this far.

6:52: Colts defence finally gets a stop and forces Pats to punt for the first time all day.

8:17: Not that anybody’s following along, but I raised the specter of a Manning Meltdown in the first quarter. Not happy to see it come true, really, because Manning’s one of the class acts of the league, and now everybody’s gonna call him a choker for the next nine months.

8:57: Manning sacked. 4th and 13, Manning picked off again by Ty Law, Law’s third pick of the day.

9:57: Colts first down at the Pats 27.

10:50: 3rd & 2 at the Pats 40. Manning throws incomplete. Colts going for it. Edgerrin James sneaks across for first down.

12:25: Manning gets first down on short pass. Pats defence is giving up nothing deep and Manning’s receivers are not getting open.

13:34: Brady pass intercepted by Walt Harris in the end zone. Colts’ hopes alive, barely.

13:50: 2nd and goal. Tight end drops another touchdown pass.

Opening of the fourth quarter.
Things look bad for the Colts. Troy Brown hauls in a tipped pass. First and goal.

0:45: Brady’s first pass good to the Indy 17. 3rd quarter ends on the next play.

1:06: Rested Pats defense sacks Manning; Ty Law gets another interception on the next play. Wow.

2:15: Pats need a touchdown here. 3rd and goal at the 3. Pass excruciatingly through the fingers of tight end Christian Fauria in the end zone. Another field goal. 21-7 Patriots. Four long drives deep into Colts territory. Bad news for Indy, but the Pats keep the score a lot closer than it should be.

2:55: Nice lofted pass to Troy Brown for the first down.

4:06: Offsides penalty, Pats on the Colts 15.

6:17: Antowain Smith has a big hole up the middle, takes it for 34 yards to the Colts 35.

6:35: Three-and-out for the Pats defense.

7:15: I’ll feel better about the Pats’ chances if they get a defensive stop on this drive. James stopped on first play, second down pass batted down. Hmm…

7:28: 3rd & 10. 8-yard pass obliges the Pats to settle for a field goal, which is good. Pats lead 18-7. Observation: All three Pats’ field goals have been chip shots, which means they’re driving the Colts’ defense deep on every drive. How much legs will the Colts’ defense have left late in the game?

8:58: Another pass to the Colts’ 13. Nothing conservative about this offense.

9:40: First Test for the Colts defense fails: Larry Centers takes a short pass for about 28 yards.

9:49: James rumbles, then reaches over the goal line. Touchdown Colts. PAT good, 15-7, Pats. Interesting halftime adjustment: Colts remember Edgerrin James ran well early in the game; he runs for 32 yards on this drive, taking pressure off Peyton Manning.

10:23: First & goal after after another good James run.

11:11: James pounds the ball to the 9 yard line. 3rd & 3.

12:16: Colts at the Pats 25, Dominic Rhodes slashes to the Pats 15. Colts offense is impressive when it works.

13:40, 3Q: Colts go for it on fourth and short, get first down.

14:00, 3Q: Third and short after two good Edgerrin James runs. Marcus Pollard drops pass.

Opening kick: Colts runner takes it to midfield.

Classic cars

I promised a tryout of my new Canon A-70 digital camera. Yesterday I took it
on the road to a place I’ve been meaning to go for years now: The Blackhawk
Automotive Museum
in Danville, a town about 10 miles north of Dublin.

The musem has about 90 cars in it. Most are either racers or playthings of
the rich and famous. Nevertheless they are wonderful examples of style, design
and mechanical prowess.

All of these photos were taken without a flash using existing light. The camera
shutter slowed down to 1/8 of a second to get enough light in. I’m impressed
at how nice these came out. I figured they’d all be fuzzy as hell because of
my unsteady hands, but the A-70 is pretty forgiving. And keep in mind this is
Canon’s $300 consumer camera, not one of the expensive models for hardcore shutterbugs.

Simply no way an auto-focus/exposure point-and-shoot film camera would have
done this well with neither flash nor tripod. Interesting aside about the museum:
they let you take pictures but don’t allow tripods. I suspect the darkened rooms
with overhead lighting hide a lot of the flaws in the cars, which are really
old and bound to show their age in the harsh light of day.

The foyer

Backlighting creates an interesting effect, and it’s still in focus. What I
love about digital is how it allows rank amateurs to get cool shots that never
work on film without tons of tinkering with shutter and aperature settings.

How about those headlights
A 1930 Ruxton with really wacky-looking headlights. It’s sitting at the
entrance to the museum.

We got wings
1957 Mercedes, the famous gull-wing door model. I was tempted to ask the guys
who work at the museum if they’d open the doors so I could takea picture, but
I chickened out.

Tucker’s dream car
1948 Tucker Torpedo, the star of "Tucker: A Man and his Dream."

French twist
1949 Delahaye, one of the great French-built cars of the Post War era.

Stutz deluxe
Stutz Bearcat, one of those most famous open roadsters of the early 20th

Call it a woody
Yes, this car is coated entirely in wood. It’s a 1924 Hispano-Suiza "Tulipwood

Fat man’s tires
This the front wheel of a mammoth beast of a sedan that belonged to early
movie star Fatty Arbuckle. It’s a 1924 Pierce Arrow with 38-inch tires on
24-inch rims.

As white as it gets
This 1929 Mercedes-Benz touring car belonged to Al Jolson of Jazz Singer
fame. I heard the tour guide saying Jolson was obsessed with whiteness.

Strictly gangsta
I liked the way these clips held the spare tire in place. Gotta love the
classic Gangster White Wall.

You sure that’s not a boat?
I forgot to note the maker of this fine machine, which was once owned by
Indian royalty, if memory serves. Note the back deck more aptly suited to
a speedboat.

Before there were wings
Stylish rear fender of a dream car built on the frame of a 1937 Cadillac,
which came with a 454 cubic inch V-16 engine.

On the road
One of several bronze statues around the museum.

Outside the museum
The Blackhawk Museum from the front.

The neighborhood
The museum’s in a scenic setting — a tony shopping center full of fancy
shops and expensive food.

My Cleveland Plain Dealer tale

I’d been at the Tampa Trib a couple years (think summer of 1990 if you can remember back that far) when I saw this ad in Editor & Publisher for a copy editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A few years out of school and full of piss and vinegar, I figured it was high time I moved up to a real Big City Paper.

So I sent my clips, resume and pageful of bold lies (that is, a cover letter) up to Cleveland. After a week or so I called up there and the kind folks said something the lines of “we’re still making up our minds, but don’t worry, you’re still in the running.”

I never heard back from them and was getting a little miffed when we got the word that our copy chief was leaving to take a new job — at the Plain Dealer.

It was the one time in my life when a hiring decision that didn’t involve me made sense: They didn’t hire me because they hired my boss.