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Saturday, September 27, 2003


Here's a copyedited version of a silly post I sent to my hiptop Nation moblog yesterday after some heavy duty housework:


A Tourist's Guide to the Quarantine Road Municipal Landfill

landfill_seagulls.jpgVisitors to Baltimore (and even most natives) have yet to discover this well-kept secret of a scenic overlook. If you're looking for a rustic getaway that offers a breathtaking (actually hold your breath...) view of the entire Baltimore skyline and the eastern shipyards, this is the place for you and yours.

Located right on the southern tip of the city, The Quarantine, as we've lovingly named it, is readily accessible from the Beltway or from the harbor if you have access to a tug boat or waste barge. The location is wonderfully secluded by a series of earthen mounds and moats that line the perimeter. When you arrive at the entrance, the helpful "concierge," exuding professionalism with his hard hat and orange DPW uniform, cheerfully directs you to the correct dirt access road. Drive in about a mile and you’ll find yourself at a nice parking spot that is kept clear by cheerful yellow earth moving equipment.

One of the first things you notice, besides the "aromatic" atmosphere, is the thousands of seagulls that swarm around the indigenous fauna. It should be a delight for birdwatchers who can study how these happy, yappy creatures enthusiastically scavenge for food.

landfill_truck.jpgSurrounding you is all manner of interesting artifacts of human civilization: Antique furniture, vintage clothing, classic cars, historically significant office equipment, and much more are piled high waiting for inspection. This treasure hunter's paradise is replenished at a rate of 1,300 tons a day via a steady stream of trucks. I imagine Martha Stewart would find profound inspiration here.

Being rustic, The Quarantine is light on amenities. Besides the attractive avocado green Port-A-Potties, there aren't many creature comforts and the only option for food is to compete with the seagulls. We suggest you pack a picnic basket and bring beer and wine in a cooler. But the greatest charm of this little-known outdoor hotspot is that you can leave your garbage anywhere to be cleaned up in style by city workers driving heavy equipment.

Mike's Rating: *** (out of five * -- fewer stars if it's raining)
Budget: $$ (out of five $)
We got out of the place for only $64.50 for two people and we left .69 tons of garbage!

I was, in part, inspired by this old City Paper essay. Also: How Landfills Work.

11:50 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Mobtown's first smart mob

Via e-mail in the latest Mobtown Shank:

BALTIMORE FLASH MOB #1: THE HUSTLE Time: October 3rd 2003 - 7:20 P.M.

Synchronize watch with TIME.gov
Please arrive as promptly to 7:20 as possible.

Location: Baltimore's Inner Harbor outside the Discovery Channel Store in Harbor Place

Action: 7:20 PM Begin asking tourists and others in your immediate premises the following "Giv ya fi dolla to do the hustle"
7:21 PM While walking the waterfront area loudly ask all round to "do the hustle", "come on buddy do the hustle for me", and "do you know where the bathroom is?"
7:22 PM Begin congregating around the Amphitheater between the two wings of Harbor Place, Shouting "Luv the Hustle" and "Come get some hustle"
7:23 PM Continue with above then Begin The Hustle. A swing-related dance, but the style in which it is performed depends a lot on your background. Most of the time, people talking about Hustle refer to the
3-count Hustle, which has a basic rhythm of 4 steps, counted either &123 or 12&3. The 3&1 or 2&3 can be either a coaster step or a rock. If unable to Hustle fake it.
7:24 PM Disperse into the unknown

For more info: http://home.comcast.net/~dumpkopf/index.html

After party: The Grille in Canton 2324 Boston Street

Well, better late smart mob than never. I wonder if this is just a stunt to perk up a Friday night at The Grille. At any rate, I may go join in.

10:32 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, September 22, 2003

Coffee pause


Steam from my coffee and a daydream condense on the lid—only to be washed away by the day's first sip.

11:40 PM in Food and Drink, Photography | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Storm footnotes

The post-Isabel media blitz and general public mess around power outages and floods continues today. We were very fortunate in Charles Village (near Hopkins main campus) to have maintained power. Two large trees fell on our block, with one landing on someone's pickup truck. My brother and his wife are still without electricity in Gaithersburg, Maryland and yesterday moved all their frozen food to my mom's house. He specifically called last night to tell me how much he was enjoying the Black Diamond Moonlight head-mounted LED flashlight I gave him last Christmas. He had it on all night to read and work by, and the unit will burn for several more days on one set of batteries.

We used the time off yesterday to continue to shovel out the house and took another load to the city dump. We also stopped at Best Buy to check out the latest PDAs and spied the new Sony Clie. Our last stop was a local Storehouse Furniture store to look at prices and options for a new bed, which price pales in comparison to some of our typical computer equipment purchases.

While pulling together yet another pile of outdated computer books to take to The Book Thing, I noticed on BoingBoing that they have made an appeal for financial help. Time to crack open our checkbook.

And Roy sent along a link to a photo gallery of the flooding around my old office at Tide Point. Note that the first photo in Roy's collection, which has been making the rounds in e-mail, is apparently mislabeled. Here's a photo of the entrance to our office I made back in May 2001, paired with one of Roy's:



What an incredible sight. Standing at the edge of the promenade the water is always several feet below, so to see it at the entrance to the office means 1/2 acre or more of our office park was flooded. If I was still working there, I would probably have been snapping away, but I'm equally glad that I was at home watching the news on TV and the Web. Interestingly, MSNBC, of all places, ran a story about the backup systems in e.magination's data center.

Hopefully life around the harbor will return to normal in a few days because I'm already anxious to visit my usual waterfront haunts.

12:22 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Rain days

The core of what is left of Hurricane Isabel—now downgraded to a tropical storm—ended up west of Baltimore over Virginia, so the atmospheric effects here in midtown have been mild in comparison to what North Carolina saw at landfall earlier today. There are, however, widespread power outages across the hurricane's path and serious flooding happening in many low lying areas.

There are a few phonecam photos of our evening's safety preparations on hiptop Nation. I've got my FreePlay radio and 150-hour LED flashlight on hand, but I'm hoping we won't need them tonight.

We heard tonight that most Federal and State government agencies are closed again tomorrow, so that means wife Amy will likely have a second day off, which is a treat for house husband me.

11:45 PM in Family | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Storm prep vignette


The Caulk Before The Storm

11:48 PM in Family | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Magnificent thunderheads at sunset


Here's a Photoshop composite of three phonecam images of a beautifully-lit cluster of thunderheads in the sky opposite of tonight's sunset over Baltimore. This kind of beauty conceals destructive powers that can be swift and strong. We cross our fingers tightly in the hopes that Hurricane Isabel doesn't appear in the same sky. Current computer models have the eye of the hurricane passing over Baltimore on Friday morning. Please, please, no.

Also from this mobile weekend: a road trip on Saturday to Anna's in Princeton for this month's IA salon, and a walk around the University. This morning, a nice brunch at Kiss Cafe.

11:52 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, September 11, 2003

My daily commute around the memory of 9/11


For over 100 days this past winter and spring, I commuted via the NY Waterway ferry from the pier at the end of Wall Street westward around Lower Manhattan to Exchange Place in Jersey City and back again. I was living in a hotel just off Wall Street and consulting in the Jersey City offices of AIG's Corporate eBusiness Group. This daily run on the Hudson River amounted to almost 200 boat rides. On most of these 15-minute boat rides, I'd try to imagine the outline of the Twin Towers over Ground Zero, and think about the view of the smoke and destruction the ferry riders had on the day of the attack. The commuter ferry stopped right at the front of our building, which has a spectacular view of the financial district and the World Financial Center where the Twin Towers once stood. To honor the people from Jersey City that died when the towers went down, the city erected a small temporary memorial on the waterfront promenade near the commuter pier.


The memorial consists of a slab of black granite and four pieces of I-beam wreckage salvage from Ground Zero. The slab has a list of names of the missing on the waterfront side and on the reverse is an engraving of the skyline with the Twin Towers. The I-beam pieces are stacked in the shape of the letter A and point to the slab in the direction of Ground Zero. Standing behind the I-beams of the Jersey City 9-11 memorial, you can sight through the converging metal pieces to the photo-engraving of the towers and beyond to Ground Zero. The memorial elegantly enhanced the thoughts I had on the boat.


I would feel a shudder every time I touched the twisted and torn-edged pieces of I-beam. I'd think about these I-beams churning and pulverizing everything in the vortex of the collapsing towers. I'd look at the big gap of Ground Zero and try to visualize a massive pile of debris consisting only of these I-beams and dust in chunks no larger than the palm of your hand. And then I'd survey the bits of ephemera—ribbons, small flags, notecards, and ceramic cherubs—that people affixed to the beams and feel an inadequate simulation of the profound loss felt by surviving family members.

While this memorial still stands as of this writing, I read that there is a new permanent design in the works. I hope the new memorial succeeds as powerfully as this one.

Lastly, I share with you a photo gallery from 11/11/01.

11:59 PM in New York | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Considering aesthetics again

virginia_postrel_at_aei.jpgVirginia Postrel's tour to promote her new book The Substance of Style made a first away-from-home stop in the 12th floor conference room of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) yesterday evening. Amy and I stopped in to soak in some thought-provoking book ho-ing from this widely celebrated author.

Originally titled Look and Feel, the book, which is on its way to me from Amazon, is said to present Postrel's richly exampled case that we are experiencing an "age of look and feel" where consumer-driven need for aesthetic virtues in products has diffused far and wide into the marketplace to become a source for economic value. To find evidence of this point, one would have to look no further than my own household, which enshrines some pricey and worship-worthy design artifacts including an iPod, Titanium PowerBook, and a PT Cruiser.

After a couple years of intense professional focus as an information architect tasked with devising structured user experiences, Postrel's brief PowerPoint presentation served to jumpstart my brain to think about aesthetics again. Until I start into the book, I have her excellent blog and a bibliography to browse.

11:15 PM in Business Strategy, Product Design | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, September 08, 2003

Aerial hop home


During takeoff from O'Hare this morning, our hotel, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain and the marinas of Lake Michigan came into perfect view under the blur of our 757 jet's exhaust. The core of the city and the "Magnificent Mile" are at the top of the photo. Amy commented that the blurry edges of the photo makes the city look like a tabletop model. Well the city certainly presented a model five days of excellent weather, light crowds and great company. I can't wait to come back.

10:46 PM in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack