Jun 232005

Favorite new blog: Jason Mulgrew, Internet Quasi Celebrity (aka Everything Is Wrong With Me). His website won’t appeal to everyone, but I think it is damn funny. And I know some people who should probably not read the site because they would have a hernia from laughing so hard. His take on wine tasting is great. I am reading all of his old posts. He was one of People‘s “50 Hottest Bachelors.” And we keep wondering why our stock is doing so poorly.

I’ve also enjoyed reading Waiter Rant. His most recent post, Nunc Dimittis was poignant and sad; it described a unique experience regarding faith.

 Posted by at 12:52 am
Jun 232005

I spoke with my friend Sharon for 45 minutes last night. (Note to my brother Larry who pays our cell phone bill: she called me.) She and her new husband Mark are now living in Melbourne, Australia. I was really happy to talk with her. We hadn’t spoken in a while. First, she and Mark were traveling on their honeymoon. When they finished their honeymoon, I was out of town for over a month.

(A short aside: Sharon and Mark have traveled more than any other people I know. Sharon’s passport is over 50 pages, and she has had to add pages twice. She and Mark met in Machu Picchu; they started “dating” over email in the following year as they each journeyed separately around the world. Mark, a designer by trade, created a fantastic invitation for their wedding party in Australia. It shows every flight Sharon and Mark took after they met. I’ll take a photo of it at some point and post it. At the wedding, I made the comment that their relationship can be measured in miles rather than years.)

Sharon is having a fun time in Australia, but she still experiences some culture shock. For example, when you rent an apartment in Australia, it only comes with a range and oven. You have to purchase any other appliances you want, including a refrigerator. And refrigerators cost three or four times more than what you pay here!

I would like to visit Sharon and Mark in the next year or so. Flights to Australia are quite expensive. A typical coach fare on Qantas from New York to Melbourne ranges from $1,300 to $1,500, but some days the flights can be as much as $3,900! At that price range, it is worth pricing out round-the-world fares. Why just visit Australia when you can visit Europe and Asia as well? The flights to Australia are also long; the New York to Melbourne flight is over 23 hours airport to airport! When you factor in the time zone changes, you lose almost two days when you fly to Australia. Regardless, I will make it out to Australia. And I want to see a platypus.

I previously mentioned how my camera died when I visited Pittsburgh to see Sharon and Mark get married. Fortunately, other people were clever enough to bring working cameras to the wedding. Sharon was kind enough to send me several photos from the wedding. They got married at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. It was my first time at Phipps, and it was very relaxing to go to a wedding surrounded by plants and flowers.
Mark and Sharon get married

 Posted by at 12:36 am
Jun 212005

I sent a letter to Doonesbury’s Town Hall site regarding the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. It is posted on their Blowback page. Despite some clumsy phrasing (“to not be tortured”), I am most proud of what I wrote in the third paragraph

Author: Sam Greenfield
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posting Date: 6/21/05

Peter D. from The Netherlands writes that the Geneva Conventions were created after World War II. This is incorrect. The first Geneva Convention was signed in 1864. (The founder of the Red Cross, Henri Dunant, was instrumental in their creation.)

Are captured members of the Taliban POWs? Probably not–they did not bear arms openly and they did not wear uniforms. However, if they aren’t POWs but rather civilians, then captured members of the Taliban could be tried for crimes like murder. It’s not a cut-and-dried case either way. There is an interesting press briefing from 2003 regarding the legal status of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. At the end of the meeting Ari Fleischer is asked if a U.S. Special Forces member would be considered a POW if captured on a mission out of uniform without visible weapons. Mr. Fleischer skirts around the question, merely saying that the Geneva Conventions apply to everyone. Of couse, he has to say this–but in this kind of situation, the Special Forces member would legally be a spy.

The applicability of the Geneva Convention to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is not the issue. The issue is that all prisoners should have the right to be treated humanely, to not be tortured, and to receive a fair and reasonably speedy trial. They deserve these rights even if they themselves would not grant these rights to others. One measure of a society can be seen in how it treats the people who violate its laws. With respect to Guantanamo Bay, we can and should do better.

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Jun 042005

I picked up six wines when I went to Italy. I already gave away a bottle of Santi Valpolicella Classico Solane to a friend of mine. She told me that it was very nice. Other wines I picked up included:

Gaierhof Syrah
A Gaierhof syrah. I tasted this wine in Italy. This is a HUGE syrah with lots of fruit and flavor
Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino
A Brunello di Montalcino from Campogiovanni. This is one of my favorite Italian wines.
Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino
A Rosso di Montalcino from Italy from Castello Banfi. I met one of the owners of Banfi the other night at Otto.
Barolo Terre del Barolo
I am really looking forward to drinking this wine from Terre del Barolo. Barolo is one of the most famous Italian wine types.
Vinga San Bartolo
I tasted this wine from Vigna San Bartolo in Italy before I bought it. The wine is a blend of Montepulciano and Cabernet. It is a complex and interesting wine; the Montepulciano gives the wine a lot of flavor, and the Cabernet adds a lot of depth and structure.
 Posted by at 3:50 pm
Jun 042005

We shared a nice bottle of wine with a vendor after we were done for the day. We drank a bottle of 1999 Dalwhinnie Shiraz from Australia. I was surprised by the amount of complexity and flavor in this wine, even though I shouldn’t have been. I had two small glasses of wine; as the second glass opened up, more layers of flavor in the wine were exposed. It was really wonderful.
1999 Dalwhinnie Shiraz

 Posted by at 3:49 pm
Jun 042005

I went to Legal Sea Foods twice in Boston. I went with one coworker when we arrived at our hotel, and I went the next evening with coworkers before I met my friends Kim and Darren. (I later ate dinner with Kim and Darren before they dropped me off at the airport.) Legal Seafoods was right across the street from our hotel. The food was quite good. For lunch, I had a lobster roll and clam chowder. While I was waiting for Kim the next day, I had a glass of Louis Latour LSF Cuvee Chardonnay (Burgundy) with three oysters. Jen was our server both times; if you are ever in the Kendall Square Legal Sea Foods, be sure to ask for her. The second time we were there, she showed us a 10-pound lobster.
Legal Sea Foods 10-pound lobster

 Posted by at 3:26 pm
Jun 042005

Recently, a couple of friends have pointed out that I seem stupider than normal. After some careful thought, I’m inclined to agree with them. Not only have I acted a bit stranger than normal, but also I have been more inclined to snap at coworkers. Consider some of the items I have written recently: “I feel both naked and free;” “One of my coworkers with us ended up having a child while we were all on the plane.” The first sentence is a bit banal, and the second sentence is unclear.

I think it has to do with the amount of travel I have been doing recently. I arrived in Toronto at around midnight, went straight to bed, visited a vendor the next day, and left for New York City directly from the vendor. It was a fairly fast turn around, and it is mentally exhausting. I have a deeper appreciation for my friend Sharon, who used to commute across the country every week for Accenture. After getting a job with Adidas she travelled once a month overseas.

My apartment is still not fully unpacked, but I can really see the boxes whittling away. Every weekend, around three or four boxes get fully unpacked and sliced apart. I think that having my apartment unpacked will make travelling a bit easier. I have also started to buy more groceries, and this makes my aparment a lot more livable. The contracting work is just about complete. I have one more inspection to go before everything wraps up. That will also be nice to have completed, even though my bank account won’t be too full.

I’m actually not annoyed about my travel. I am working on a really interesting, important, and fun project, and the people I am working on are some of the smartest technical people at Time Inc. I would definitely take this project on again in a heartbeat.

Regardless, I apologize, dear readers, for the stupid posts recently. I’ll attempt to make them a bit more interesting as I move forward. Any advice on how to avoid mental fatigue due to travel would be greatly appreciated.

 Posted by at 2:44 pm
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