Archive for October, 2006


Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Two hours remain until National Novel Writing Month. It’s not too late to sign up! I’ll be off to a frightfully unprepared start as usual this year. My characters don’t even have names yet…

Charlie and the Bus to the Burbs

Monday, October 30th, 2006

It was a windy day today in America’s windiest major city, as I waited half an hour for the bus to the suburbs. I was the only one at the stop for a while, which normally would mean I’d missed the bus, but in this case meant that the bus was so behind schedule that my fellow 8:45am commuters had caught the 8:10 sometime around 8:40, leaving us suckers who show up at 8:43 in the lurch.

When the bus finally arrived, the bus driver told us (me and some serious stragglers) what went so horribly wrong: the new CharlieCard machines have been installed on my bus route.  Now I’ve seen the dread beasties on the occasional 66, but I figured my bus had far too high a number to get Charlie’s attention so soon.

But I guess it’s not so soon anymore.  The new fare machines were so much more trouble for everyone to use, from the driver to those of us with passes holepunched onto our keychains to the poor low-tech slobs passing three dollars and change into the dollar-sucker every day, that the cumulative delay of rush hour added up to half an hour.

Keep in mind that the full trip to the far corner of the burbs takes 45 minutes (fortunately I don’t have to go that far), so the half-hour late bus I stepped onto could only have been on its fourth run or so of the day. In addition, the burb-ward morning runs are relatively underpopulated compared to the full buses coming into the city, and sometimes the bus just goes back empty and out-of-service for another burb-to-Boston run instead.

I live in fear of the day Charlie comes to the green line trolleys.

The Return of Futoshiki

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Thanks to Stephen Lang for reminding me that Futoshiki was coming back. He has the latest puzzle from the Guardian up in his blog.

If you liked that one, has a google module and a printable page of six random futoshiki. Uniqueness of solutions is not guaranteed. guarantees uniqueness.

Season Passes Revoked?

Friday, October 27th, 2006

The rumors are flying that BSG is moving to NBC. Here’s someone who claims his iTunes season 3 pass was partially refunded in connection with the move.


Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

I upgraded to Firefox 2.0 today at work. I didn’t care for the new new tab button, so I went looking for themes.

I found a bunch of Safari-like themes, but most of them are OS X-only, e.g., GrApple. I wasn’t pleased with iFOX or GrayModern; Phoenity Modern was pretty good, but I ended up going with the new, slim Orbit Blue.

Parking on the Tracks

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

As I like to point out, when pedestrians cross the T, the train wins. When large vehicles cross the commuter rail, however, it’s usually a draw, as in yesterday’s commuter rail crash. A train on the Franklin commuter rail line hit a stone crusher atop a flatbed truck that was stuck on the tracks. The train was a total wreck, and reports of injuries vary between 17 and 19 commuters, none killed.

The truck driver was outside the truck waving frantically at the train when the accident occurred and was uninjured.  The state of the stone crusher is unknown.

Airport Congestion

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

After sixty days of uptime, I rebooted my mac recently to do some updates. I noticed when it came back up that it connected to an open network in the building rather than to my network. I looked in System Preferences, and my Network location was very confused about how I was connected; it said I was using “PCI Ethernet Slot 2″ instead of my Airport card, but I think I would have noticed an ethernet cable hanging out of my mac.

So I went into the Network Port Configurations and turned off everything but Airport and the internal modem—not that I’ll be going back to dialup anytime soon. That shocked the system into admitting it was connected with Airport. However, this made the original problem worse: now every time I put the mac to sleep it reconnected to the weaker open network rather than my network.

When in doubt, google. I found this macosxhints thread which recommended deleting all preferred networks and starting over. So I did, sad though I was to see Yersina, Veronica’s wireless network, go. Now the airport connects to my network, although it could just mean that the open network has faded out completely…

Greater-Than Sudoku

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

The sudoku of the day is greater-than sudoku, where you get no clues; instead, every box is marked greater-than or less-than its neighbors. If you need more than the ten at the link above, Killer Sudoku Online has a weekly greater-than sudoku. The greater-thans I’ve tried so far have been less challenging than other variants, but I’ve seen people claim it can be fiendish.

Greater-than is sudoku-like enough to come in some of the standard variants: here’s a samurai greater-than sudoku and a jigsaw (nonomino, geometric) greater-than sudoku.

A related puzzle type is futoshiki, which got off to a bad start in the Guardian.

Police Take Action

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

So I foolishly went to Brookline Village this morning around 9am to run errands, thinking it’s past rush hour and the D line is fast so I can’t possibly miss my connection downtown. It’s not like two trees were going to fall on the D line in the space of a week, was it? Was it?

Well, somehow I’m always around for these things. I strolled down to the Brookline Village stop, but it was crawling with T workers. Any time you see a live T worker (as opposed to a CharlieCard machine) these days it’s a bad sign. The more T workers, the worse the situation is going to be.

I kept strolling towards the station though, because although there were two trains parked on the outbound track, the inbound track was clear and I was headed inbound. A T worker swiftly disabused me of my illusions of mass transit. He said there was a police action at Beaconsfield (two stops outbound) and the D line would be out of service for an hour. Go catch a bus to the C line, he added.

I was tempted to wait around and see if an inbound train came anyway, because T workers don’t necessarily know when the trains run or where the busses stop (even if they’re driving them at the time). This one seemed to think the 60 goes to the C line, when it actually goes to Kenmore. In fact, the comments at Bad Transit reveal that at least one inbound train in fact did come through Brookline Village, but at that point every police siren in Brookline was wailing its way Beaconsfield-ward and I figured the D line was really out of commission for the time being.

Fortunately I have a clue and I not only know which bus really goes to the C line but also which one is most likely to show up long after rush hour. I was already hosed as far as making my connection downtown went—the T stops for no man—but I gave it a shot anyway.

There were some very confused folks right behind me (perhaps refugees from the parked trains) as I was walking to the 66 stop who later tried to explain to the bus driver about the police action at Beaconsfield and that they’d already paid (quite a bit—the D line costs more than the regular subway, never mind a bus). He said he hadn’t heard about it, but he let them on the bus for free anyway. I asked the driver to announce the Coolidge Corner stop for them, since they didn’t seem to know the C line from the commuter rail. In that helpful MBTA way, he didn’t, but they managed to follow the more clueful commuters off the bus. The last I saw of them they were headed for the outbound platform; I certainly hope they meant to go outbound.

Of course I missed my connection (the legendary bus to the ‘burbs that runs once every hour and a half) and hours later when I finally got to work we speculated in vain about the police action. I googled it tonight, and according to the Brookline TAB it was a “bogus bomb scare” reported by a guy who thought his luggage was vibrating. I’m sure it was, along with everything else on the train, until he brought all D line service to a screeching halt for half the morning. (The article says it happened at 10am but I heard the sirens and got turned away from Brookline Village at 9:45 already. Some BadTransitters report even earlier times.)

I wonder how many more major incidents the D line will have this month—or this week.

If a tree falls on the D line…

Monday, October 16th, 2006

I was on the D line Thursday, but I managed to avoid being hit by the tree. I didn’t even hear about it until my mother asked me whether I was hit by the tree. I did hear about the drunken college student who hit a pole at Warren Street on the B line, left his two passengers in the burning car—which later exploded, fortunately after some non-drunken person or persons had rescued the passengers—and thus took the B line out for a while this weekend. Of course this is all hearsay from reading the ever-informative Metro this morning, so my details may be off. In particular, I’m not certain that the car exploded.

This morning we were moving in fits and starts from the time the train went underground until we reached Government Center. I was late for my bus, but fortunately my bus was late as well.