Thursday, September 7, 2006

Atlantic Yards Voter Guide

Atlantic Yards is the name of a massive development located at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in downtown Brooklyn, NY. Proposed as a way of "revitalizing" a run-down area, the project would be built over the LIRR's rail yard as well as require the condemnation by eminent domain of a number of homes, apartment buildings, and businesses.

I oppose the current plan for Atlantic Yards, and as a result will vote against candidates who support the Atlantic Yards project in next week's primary.

I think that some aspects of the project are good. However the entire process has been one of railroading opposition, paying off local groups or creating fake "grassroots" groups to support the project.

If you believe the EIS, which was funded and developed by the developer, Forest City Ratner, Atlantic Yards will bring the densest concentration of urban development to an already dense, congested area of Brooklyn. The city and state are offering $500,000,000 of taxpayer money to help the project along, in addition to a sweetheart deal for the rail yards.

There is no legal requirement nor commitment for afforable housing, only a vague community benefits agreement which has no legal standing in court.

There is no commitment to beef up the public infrastructure to support the influx of people, cars, trucks, and refuse from the project.

It's a bad project, being rammed down the throats of Brooklynites. City, and New York State residents should poll their own candidates to see what their positions are on using $500 million of taxpayer funds to subsidize what's essentially a massive, private, real estate development in the heart of Brooklyn. I believe strongly in the use of market economics to justify development. If the local real estate market truly supports this development then it should not require such a massive subsidy of taxpayer monies.

I've prepared the following tables of candidate's positions on Atlantic Yards based on the "Atlantic Yards" Voter Guide:

Candidates opposed to Atlantic Yards
OfficeNameSupports Atlantic Yards?
57th A.D.Bill BatsonNo
18th S.D.Velmanette MontgomeryNo
25th S.D.Ken DiamondstoneNo
10th C.D.Charles BarronNo
11th C.D.Chris OwensNo
NY GovernorTom SuozziNo
NY Attorney GeneralSean Patrick MaloneyNo
Brooklyn candidates' positions on Atlantic Yards
OfficeNameSupports Atlantic Yards?
57th A.D.Bill BatsonNo
57th A.D.Hakeem JeffriesYes
57th A.D.Freddie HamiltonYes
18th S.D.Velmanette MontgomeryNo
18th S.D.Tracy BoylandYes
25th S.D.Ken DiamondstoneNo
25th S.D.Martin ConnorYes
10th C.D.Charles BarronNo
10th C.D.Ed TownsYes
10th C.D.Roger GreenYes
11th C.D.Chris OwensNo
11th C.D.David YasskyYes
11th C.D.Carl AndrewsYes
11th C.D.Yvette ClarkeYes
NY GovernorTom SuozziNo
NY GovernorEliot SpitzerYes
NY Attorney GeneralSean Patrick MaloneyNo
NY Attorney GeneralAndrew CuomoYes
NY Attorney GeneralMark GreenYes
NY Attorney GeneralCharlie King (withdrew)Yes

This guide is also available as a separate file here:

e.p.c. posted this at 17:06 GMT on 7-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Tribute In Light 2006

Tribute In Light 2006

Tribute In Light 2006, originally uploaded by epc. A shot of this year's Tribute in Light. The horizontal dashed line is a plane which flew through during the exposure.

e.p.c. posted this at 05:45 GMT on 8-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Allergy Day

I woke up this morning with a head that felt stuff with cabbage. Or wool. I can't quite decide on an appropriate metaphor.

So, I've sequestered myself in our bedroom, cranked up the A/C and the Vornado AQS Hepa air filter we have and taken a generic Claritin knockoff.

I didn't have allergies as a kid, or if I did they paled in comparison to my parents' ailments.

Some time after starting at IBM I started on a once-a-day Actifed regime. I don't know if it was the air at Myers Corners Lab, the profound levels of dust that accumulated around the terminals and PS/2s, or the cat at home for a couple of years but I developed a mild but irritating case of sinus congestion that I found was only cleared up by the Actifed.Fast forward years. Skip over the mild panic about importing pseudephidrine into Singapore. I kept taking the Actifed nearly daily. When I was in Australia I switched to Claritin, it was available OTC there and though it took longer to take effect, lasted longer as well.

I stopped the Actified regime in 2004 after my doctor said to kick it, that it was raising my blood pressure (sure enough, with no other change to diet or exercise my BP dropped by about 10 points within a month of kicking the actifed). Luckily Claritin went OTC in the U.S. and generic Claritin (loratadine) became available.

I don't know if there's more crap in the air, or if I'm more sensitive (does exposure to airborne crap make you more sensitive?) but the only time I've felt "clear" this summer was the ten days in Ireland. Since I don't plan to pack up and move there (the lack of broadband and the distance from a decent bagel being two critical issues), I guess I'll have to keep the Claritin stocked up and the air filters at the ready.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:10 GMT on 8-Sep-2006 .

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Try to Remember the kind of September

Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
when grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
when you were a tender and callow fellow,
Try to remember and if you remember the follow.

My parents' 40th wedding anniversary would be today. They got married forty years ago at St. Joan of Arc in Lisle, Illinois. The reception was at Willoway Manor, an elegant reception hall on the then outskirts of Naperville, IL (it's now a tapas restaurant I believe).

Scan of photo of Edward and Kathleen Costello, September 10, 1966

I found some better pictures than the scans I made, so I've updated this and replaced the photos.

Try to remember when life was so tender
that no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender that
dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender that
love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember and if you remember then follow.
Scan of photo of Edward and Kathleen Costello, September 10, 1966

My father was in real estate in DuPage County, my mother was an accountant and finance specialist for the Village of Downers Grove. My father died in 2000 after several years of recovery and set-backs from heart-bypass operation. My mother died in 2004 after twelve years of deteriorating respiratory problems due to exposure to toxic chemicals at work in 1992. Both were relatively young at their deaths, both from a perspective of modern lifespans as well as the life spans of members of either family.

Deep in December it's nice to remember
altho you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
without the hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow.
Scan of photo of Edward and Kathleen Costello, September 10, 1966

Forty years is a long time, and a short time as well. I'm not quite there yet, but can vividly remember watching Apollo landings (though I'm never quite sure which ones), or destroying the typewriter with a hammer when I was two, or the first time I got to use a computer when I was, perhaps, five.

I first came to New York thirty four years ago, in September 1972. My father was then a manager for Pinkerton's. My father, mother and I drove out to New York for a week (I missed the first days of kindergarten!) while my younger brother stayed with family.

I don't remember much about that trip. I've only found a few photographs, me on the Liberty Island ferry, me in front of the U.N., my mother and I in front of an "Oriental Phonebooth" somewhere in the city (I assume Chinatown but can't really tell). I remember the Central Park Zoo (where I dropped a hot dog and a "bum" asked if he could take it. Was the source of stories about New York for years to come).

I remember sirens, countless sirens all through the night. We stayed at the Commodore, which is now the Grand Hyatt New York.

I don't remember much else. I don't remember Wall Street (have no idea if we walked through there), I don't remember the subways (I'm fairly certain we didn't take any).

I don't remember the World Trade Center, the towers of which would have been rising but not quite complete that fall.

We stayed for a week, my father working somewhere on Franklin Street while my mother and I did various touristy things. On leaving the Commodore I remember getting my foot stuck in the door and a bit of a kerfluffle occurring.

For years afterwards there'd be talk about our week in New York, the various trials and tribulations of driving into the city (my father would claim that he hit every borough trying to get from I-80 to the Commodore, a tale which I now believe to have been slightly fabricated or enhanced). The bum in Central Park, the Rabbi and the Priest who bracketed our climb up the Statue of Liberty.

But I don't remember what the city looked like. Little snapshots of street scenes, invariably fixed by the few photos that my mother took. Which is sad because I love living here now, in Brooklyn, and want to be able to reach back and claim "I was here and I remember" but I do not.

Updates: fixed typos. The lyrics are from The Fantastiks which held the record for longest running musical in New York until 2001 when the post-9/11 box office crash forced it to close.

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I don't have much to write, it sucked then, it still sucks now.

I am very lucky, I lost no one, I moved out of my Battery Park City apartment a year before, I was uninjured (physically). Yet to this day I can still feel the clump-clump-clump as the floors collapsed into each other, I can still smell the acrid smoke in the air over the house, I can still picture the glinting glass in the smoke and dust.

And still I hear the sirens. And the disquieting silence of no sirens, no traffic, no noise, no nothing after the fall.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:29 GMT on 10-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [1]

Monday, September 11, 2006


I will be offline until 12 September 2006 observing the memorial in my own mental hell sort of way.

e.p.c. posted this at 03:31 GMT on 11-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Upcoming Travel

  • September 14-17, 2006: Aspen, CO
  • September 21-24, 2006: Amagansett, NY
  • October 21-26, 2006: Austin, TX
  • October 27-29, 2006: Pittsburgh, PA (MAPW Reunion....maybe)

I'd like to go to the Web 2.0 conference again but 1) the price increase this year took it from expensive to insanely expensive (even including the "alumni discount) and 2) I have a negative travel budget.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:00 GMT on 12-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Miscellany for 12 September 2006

  • Proposed design for Beijing 2008 TOC via Archinect.
  • What News Corp doesn't want you to know about MySpace: Condensed edition. Alleges that Myspace is far from a viral success and is instead the result of a cold, calculated business play. Duh.
  • Sex Baiting Prank on Craigslist Affects Hundreds: this is the best coverage I've read about the prank so far. In brief, a guy in Seattle posts an ad to Craigslist Seattle, posing as a woman who wants sex. He then posted all of the replies he received via email to a public site. A warning: many of the links are NSFW. My initial take is that this was a terrible prank played on unsuspecting people. But it is also an interesting window into people's expectations of privacy and willingness to suspend their suspicions when interacting on a site like Craigslist. Strip away that this was initially about sex, replace it with a generic “legal activity that is acceptable to some people but not necessarily the public at large”. Should people be held up to shame for whatever their belief/practice/gender/employment/race is? Would we accept this behaviour offline? It's the second privacy wakeup call in the past week (after the Facebook fiasco).
  • Bill Stumpff, designer of the Aeron chair, passed away last week. The Aeron Chair is the sacred, most holy chair for web professionals everywhere. Brief story: Lisa and I spent a weekend at the W Union Square in 2001. We're walking around the block (18th Street between Park Avenue South and Irving Place). Just east of the W is a large, low slung building with cubicle after cubicle of identical cubes, each with its own Aeron chair. We both said “that's gotta be a dot com”. Rounding the block on 18th we discovered we were close, it was the offices of MarchFirst (which imploded shortly afterwards in the dotcom meltdown).
  • I briefly caught the Thursday night edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Briefly because, well, I don't normally watch the 22 minute digest of the world's news, and more importantly: that night's Free Speech segment was handed over to Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has had a show on major radio networks across the U.S. for nearly 20 years. I don't think he is the sort of person who needs more coverage. So I turned off the show, and apparently many others did as well.
  • I am playing with Harvest for time tracking.
  • An interesting followup to last week's dustup over comments by Arnold Schwarzenegger printed in the Los Angeles Times: the comments were on digital audio recordings (unclear why the recordings were made), which in turn were stored on California state computers with limited access. Schwarzenegger's Computer Security Is Probed and Arniegate: I'll be hacked describe that the comments were recorded digitally and stored on computers, whose security was then breeched. About the comments, the LA Times writes: In the recorded conversation, the governor describes Republican lawmakers as a “wild bunch” and ascribes the “hot” temperament of Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) to a mix of “black blood” and “Latino blood.”
  • Two blogs I've started reading in the past week: Get Rich Slowly and Web Worker Daily.
  • Lou Rosenfeld has posted the survey results for a survey for Search Analytics for your Site.

[posted with ecto]

e.p.c. posted this at 15:33 GMT on 12-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Stuart of Sycamore, R.I.P.

Another buddy of Frisket's, Stuart, passed away suddenly this weekend. Stuart and Frisket sort of played with each other a couple of weeks back when we visited Stuart's family, the Mesjaks of Sycamore, IL. Stuart was (I believe) five.

Stuart of Sycamore

Our sympathies to John and Laura and Alice.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:08 GMT on 13-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dear bozo at Harvard: Please turn off your bot

Someone with Harvard's eecs group learned how to download the rome client today and, oh joy, ran it against my site. Again, and again. Still running as far as I can tell. It's attempted to fetch feeds off the site slightly over 700 times since mid-afternoon. Most of the requests are being redirected, using 301's, to, but it's still annoying. If you get a 301 redirect from a web server, it means GO AWAY, find the document over here. It doesn't mean Hey, why don't you check back here in, oh, ten seconds.

So, just because I'm a jerk about these things, the Rome user agent joins the list of user agents blocked from the site.


The addresses:


I don't know, nor care, whether the problem is with the Rome code or the person who's running the user agent. It's just stupid to fire off a bot and walk away without checking to see if it's operating correctly (I'm guessing that I'm not the only site getting hit by this).

e.p.c. posted this at 06:03 GMT on 14-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [2]

Friday, September 15, 2006

I am having a good time

I keep repeating the mantra I am having a good time. I need to in order to counteract the actual reality of the trip so far. We spent about two hours on the tarmac at LGA waiting to take off. Allegedly "they" closed the airport down so that Air Force 2 could land or take off.

Wheels up around 5:45 EDT (originally scheduled for 4:00 takeoff). We made it to DEN by 7:15 MDT. Our flight to ASE was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MDT and actually took off around 8:50.

We arrived in Aspen around 9:25 MDT. I'd like to say the scenery was stunning, however the snow sort of blocked out any views until we dropped below 10,000 feet.

We waited for our luggage. Our luggage, apparently, did not make the treacherous walke between gates A-something and gate B56 at DEN. That is, it's still somewhere at DEN, likely on a belt forlornly going around and around.

Our ride to the hotel was delayed. Allegedly, I mean, come on, allegedly because the Presidential Motorcade had tied up Aspen. We get screwed by both dinguses in the same day, in different cities?

United tell us that the baggage should arrive on the first flight in the morning. I hope so because, while I did dress up a little bit for the flight, the shirt and slacks will be a tad used by the time of the wedding we're attending on Saturday if they're all I have to wear.

As an aside, I noticed that the style for the popup comments is hosed. I cannot fix it while on the road (I didn't bring my laptop, so I'm borrowing someone else's cycles and wifi). Given the volume of comments on this site I do not think it will be a problem.

I've been informed that while there was a Presidential Motorcade, it's unclear which President was in Aspen other than that it was not POTUS. In addition to the Aspen Ruggerfest, there's also a big shindig hosted by financier Teddy Forstmann.

e.p.c. posted this at 06:20 GMT on 15-Sep-2006 from Aspen, CO.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Elsewhere This Week

e.p.c. posted this at 00:00 GMT on 16-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

The Day So Far

Our luggage arrived on the first flight into Aspen Friday morning. We found it was fsater to drive out to the airport and pick up the luggage than wait for United's Aspen staff to drive it in to the hotel.

While at lunch Friday I received a call from the kennel Frisket is staying at. I won't go into details but she is sick. She has had this thing where maybe two-three days after we drop her off she has a temporary intestinal disturbance. This seemed different.

This morning the kennel called and they were in the process of taking Frisket to a vet (her regular vet actually). So, more panic and angst.

I make the, possibly rash, decision to fly home. Not because we don't trust either the vet or kennel, but because, well, I don't know, somehow I figured it would be better if I were there and could take Frisket home two days early.

So I pack. Given United's utter inability to get baggage through the Denver airport (based on sample set of 1 trip), I left my luggage with Lisa and just grabbed a carry-on bag.

I cleaned up, since a day-of-travel ticket brings you, er, "extra scrutiny" and headed off to the airport.

At the time I arrived there were six scheduled flights, all on United, to Denver.

All were oversold.

Except one scheduled for 3:00. I bought a ticket on that flight, since you cannot fly standby with a ticket for another day (so my ticket for tomorrow, Sunday, was useless).

I go through security. Before entering security I check the departure board and everything looks ok.

At security I get "special attention", which I expected. As I was the only person going through security, the special attention took about ten minutes.

One caution: when you are receiving special attention, and your belongings are in the red container, do not touch your belongings until you are directed to do so by the TSA agent. I mistakenly thought I was done after the pat down, the chemical sensing of my shoes and clothes, but I was not. Each item had to be scanned by the chemical thing.

And I can tell you this: neither the chemical scan nor the pat-down can detect a tube of Prada brand lip-balm.

After getting through security I enter the departure area at Aspen. The departure area is filled with people waiting for two flights to Denver which have both been delayed.

Both flights were cancelled. While the weather on the ground was fine, the weather at the pass into Aspen was apparently too bad to fly through, so the inbound flights turned around to Denver.

The next flight, scheduled for 12:something, was rescheduled to 2:something.

The flight I had a ticket for, originally scheduled for 2:54 p.m. was rescheduled to 4:54 p.m.

I managed to get a standby assignment, finally, for a 1:something flight which had been rescheduled to 3:something.

I don't see any point in being specific with the times, United is quite flexible with them after all.

I should mention the departure screen: it was still showing everything ok. Then I noticed the time: 3:49 a.m. And the date: September 4, 2006. I realize that Aspen is a couple time zones away from Brooklyn, but that seemed a bit excessive.

Over the next couple of hours the time on the departure screen never changed, it was still at 3:49 a.m. when I left.

I did leave, via the hotel shuttle. After getting some food (unfortunately incredibly stale junk food which was the only option at the airport) I talked to Lisa and she checked into the NYC bound flights. Assuming all went well with connections (and who am I to doubt that all would not go well), the earliest I could get to NYC was sometime Sunday morning. And that involved spending an inordinate amount of time at Denver, which I would like to avoid spending any time in at all if possible.

So, after paying an obscene fare for ASE-DEN, I cancelled that ticket and the standby ticket and hopped the shuttle back to the hotel.

All in time still to go to the wedding in about fifteen minutes.

And that is the day so far.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:41 GMT on 16-Sep-2006 from Aspen, CO.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back home

Arrived back at LGA around 6:30 EDT. After close to 45 minutes our bags appeared on the belt and we headed home. It was too late to retrieve Frisket from Monstermutt.

This morning we slept in (had to in order to get that fresh mountain air out of the lungs!). I walked over and picked up Frisket around 9:00 and then slowly walked her back home.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:54 GMT on 18-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The new year's update

So after the flurry of posts last week I ...stopped posting for no reason whatsoever.

Frisket is fine. I picked her up Monday the 18th from Monstermutt. We kept her to just her normal food, no treats, no strange items off the street, to try to keep her stomach settled down. We all think that this incident was a combination of her normal dietary indiscretions combined with being upset at being left at the kennel for several days. We are going to try some things to get Frisket less attached, I guess, to me as well as to the house since we can't always take her with us. We have four weeks until the next long trip (Austin and Pittsburgh for me at the end of October).

We spent the weekend in Amagansett, attending the Rosh Hashana services at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons and consumed many excellent meals of food over the course of the three days. It was a little rough for Frisket, this was her first trip out to Amagansett since the death of Coco. Since most people seem to think I'm insane, I have no problem admitting that I took Frisket out to the back yard, sat her down and tried to explain that Coco was not there and would not be there (If you speak dog or have spent anytime with Frisket, you'll understand the phrasing: Coco no Coco. Coco closed.). And, admitting I could be interpreting far too much, Frisket seemed to get it at some level. She wandered around the yard (this was late Thursday night) and then slumped down next to me letting out a solitary whimper.

While Frisket did wander around the house, she did not do the manic-looking-for-Coco which she has done consistently for the past 4 years. So, I don't know whether or what she understands, but she was sort of down all weekend.

This week, in addition to various work-ish things, I'm having lunch with Pete Fiorese today, am going to the Wired NextFest preview day on Thursday, and am planning to go to part of Bar Camp NYC 2.

Oh, and the MAPW 25th Anniversary reunion is on in Pittsburgh, PA the 27th-29th October for anyone interested. What? You have no idea what an MAPW is? Well, let me tell you: it was (is) the a three semester graduate program at Carnegie Mellon where I learned everything I needed to know as a professional, technical writer for Corporate America: how to use NROFF and TROFF, Scribe, emacs, vi, Aldus PageMaker and Microsoft Word version 3 for the Macintosh. And I picked up a little bit about writing, which I've since obviously forgotten.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:46 GMT on 25-Sep-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, September 29, 2006

2006 Wired NextFest

I went to the Wired NextFest at Javits' this afternoon. My one word review: eh.

To be fair, this was a preview day, and several of the booths were either unstaffed or yet to be set up. However I think I got the general idea of what's being displayed. No doubt there are many cool technologies under development and being demoed, but eh.

A lot of robotics this year. Some animatronic-type 'bots, some examples of "bomb" bots that go off in search of IEDs, a couple whose purpose I could not quite ascertain.

Robotics, "green" solutions, and VR/entertainment were the three major categories.

Made me sort of miss Internet World (I think the last good Internet World I attended was at Javits Center in 1996. Unfortunately most of what I remember is sleeping through Lou Gerstner's keynote while backstage.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

e-taf automatic door placard
Each display has a placard like this. They are very informative. Unfortunately they are in a 16-18pt font, unreadable until you get pretty close.
A placard in its element.

It sort of had the feel of a high-end high school science fair. I mean, maybe I am too used to the commercial conferences, but these signs should be at least four times larger, with larger type.

General Grievous, Your Wheel Bike Is Ready
General Grievous, Your Wheel Bike Is Ready"

A definite high point was this wheel bike. General Grievous was not around to demo it, and I'm not sure how demo-able they will be when the show is actually open, but I took some movie clips of this woman test-riding the bike: (you will need to click on them to play, I didn't want to embed them into the page)

thumbnail of movie clip of wheel bike part 1thumbnail of movie clip of wheel bike part 2
Immersive VR Ball-o-doom
This is a sphere with all sorts of controls and cameras inside. The guy inside is playing a first person shooter game. As he walks, the sphere turns so he is actually walking. He has a VR helmet on and sees the game's world.

This last clip is a movie of the door described in the first image, the e-taf automatic door. The door has sensors which determine the outline of the person walking through and then slides the slates open only enough for the person to walk through. I first read about this door at we make money not art.

Thumbnail of e-taf automatic door movie
e-taf automatic door

So, if you're a technology junkie I guess it wouldn't be a waste of time, I just sort of felt: eh. I mean, it's 2006. Shouldn't many of these things on display be commonly available now?

e.p.c. posted this at 05:44 GMT on 29-Sep-2006 from Jacob Javits Center, New York, NY.

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as

More about me here.