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Luke Melia

11/28/02, 10:25 pm – Giving thanks

Happy thanksgiving, America! I love that as dysfunctional as our society can be, we have enough sense of humor and cheer to all take a day off and gorge ourselves with delicious food.

I appreciate being alive.

I appreciate my health, and that I’m recovered from the foot injury that had me on crtuches this time last year.

I appreciate having a fun job in an economy where that feels like a luxury.

I appreciate my friends, who are busy planning everything from road trips to weddings to backpacking adventures to volleyball victories to interior decorating and more.

I appreciate my family, which is extraordinarily loving, affectionate and easygoing.

I appreciate my girlfriend, with whom I fall in love each day.

I appreciate coming home to a stock I own doing this, though I suspect it’s too good to be true. I’ll find out tomorrow.

I appreciate music, the listening and the playing and the beauty and joy it brings.

I appreciate volleyball, for being a game within which I can challenge myself and let the addictive parts of personality flow relatively harmlessly.

I appreciate the developers who created the free and inexpensive software which I use every day to be creative.

I appreciate the year since last Thanksgiving, for bringing more perspective and more joy to my life than I could have guessed.

If you’re reading this, take a second to add a comment and tell me one thing you appreciate. Happy Thanksgiving!

11/24/02, 5:38 pm – You Could Be Like Einstein

I happened upon the FBI file on Albert Einstein this afternoon.

The 1,427 page file particularly interested me because of a few conversations I’ve had recently about the return to our nation of spying on its own citizens. Some people say, “What would I care if the government collects information on me. I have nothing to hide.” People who feel strongly about civil liberties and the constitutional freedoms afforded to Americans might argue that it’s the principle of the matter. But the pragmatic argument (which is why the principle exists) is that there may be cases where you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong, but government officials feel like you have.

Consider that Einstein’s file has a section on his participation in “The American Crusade to End Lynching.” Sound like a cause you could support?

The FBI includes his activities in this organization (he was co-chair with FBI file]) as evidence of his communist activities. His file cites a “reliable source” as follows: “in view of some of the endorsers, this crusade had all the ear marks of another Communist attempt to instill racial agitation.” It further supports the theory by noting that a Washington DC protest staged by the group was mentioned in Communist friendly newspapers.

So what kind of file will you have at the FBI? How about in the Department of Homeland Security?

You may never have the satisfaction of knowing, because the same bill that established the Homeland Security Act significantly weakened the Freedom of Information Act that enabled Einstein’s file to be made public.

11/23/02, 3:47 pm – Boston Breakdown

The return train ride from Boston was so convenient that I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s in Boston before I came home. It seems crazy, but it was no more or less hassle than shopping at Whole Foods here in Chelsea. And with good balsamic vinegar for $1.69, how could I resist?

It was a good trip, overall. The conference had interesting parts. I mostly followed the .NET track and also went to a class about XML Schemas. The keynote by James Golsing (inventor of java) was pretty cool. Gosling is working with NASA on a Mars rover project. He lamented the “testing problem” they had on that project.

I found the conference to be bit souless. There are various reasons for it, I imagine: The attendance was down considerably from when I attended two years ago. The attendees are primarily corporate developers. And the target audience is broad: software development is no longer a niche but rather a category full of hundreds of niches. The spirit of the smaller and more focused Meet the Makers conference I went to was much more engaging.

Nevertheless, I learned some stuff, had a few days away from it all, got to see Emily, and also got to spend time with my Uncle Jamie.

My uncle manages a nice restaurant called “Stephanie’s on Newbury.” We had dinner there one night and in Chinatown another night. He aso gave me a nice driving tour of Boston, including the spectacular new bridge. My uncle is the self-described outsider of the family and also the most politically conservative in a pretty liberal clan. Our conversations were wide-ranging and interesting.

A lot of discussion focused around issues raised by “Bowling For Columbine,” which I saw in the movie theater near my hotel. My uncle is a member of the NRA. I’m pretty anti-gun, but pro civil liberties. The political influence that the NRA has over some politicians disgusts me. Still, I would agree that Americans should be allowed to have certain categories of weapons, until we make changes to the Second amendment. I don’t think such constitutional changes are likely, but if the American people ever did jointly decide to say no to guns, it would be a glorious day.

Anyway, the food and atmosphere at the restaurant was excellent. I’m working on a website for him, which will launch in the next few weeks.

11/19/02, 10:53pm – Boston

I left New York on the 4pm Amtrak Acela bound for Boston. The train, with its automatic sliding glass doors, spacious seats, and quiet speed, feels decidedly definitely more modern than most airplanes. I left from Penn Station in New York and got off the train across the street from my hotel. Very convenient. Of course, I could fly to London for the cost of the ticket…

I’m in Boston (tapping away on the Westin’s complimentary high-speed internet access — how cool is that?) for a software development conference. Learn some more .NET stuff, catch a couple of XML and Java seminars, and scout out the exhibit hall for products we might want for work. Yes, all extremely high on the glamour scale.

After arriving tonight, I caught up with my friend Emily, who I went to high school with. We went out for vietnamese and chatted about work, love, friends, etc.

It’s a good time for me to get out of New York for a few days. A friend I met while living in India unexpectedly passed away a few days ago. He was 23 years old. Really sad. And a reminder of the fragility of life. I’ll write more about him soon. For now, it’s nice to have some time and space away to digest it all.

Two different friends are leaving for trips to Thailand soon. Others are loading up there VW bus with high tech gear for a cross-country bonanza of a voyage. I’m toying around with some travels of my own. Myanmar, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Australia are on the top list. I’d want to fit Singapore in there, of course, to see Aji.

Volleyball never stops. Thankfully. The “Underdogs” are knocked down to second place. The team is going to make a run at retaking first place tomorrow night. I’ll be cheering them on from here. Sand court has been fun despite politics among some personalities in the gym clique. Silly stuff but a part of most groups of people, regardless of whether they’ve gathered to debate or gathered to be in harmony with one another.

It has become clear to me that I’m psychologically addicted to the chemical rush I get playing volleyball. If I go too long without playing I start getting down. And I start feeling good walking down the street to a game, as my body anticipates it.

In the news, the Homeland Security Act passed the Senate without amendment to the stuff I was frustrated with in my last post. I find the current politics of our nation and world to be scary, but also fascinating. Some good reading of late is a NYT Magazine piece on the UN Security Council, the excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book that the Washington Post is running, and a New Yorker piece I’m still working through about Ayman Zawahiri, an Islamist (New Yorker, September 16, 2002, “The Man Behind Bin Laden”).

11/15/02, 12:15 am – But It’s Looking Like 1984

Copy of a message I just sent to my Senators and Congressman:

Dear ___________,

I understand from a New York Times editorial today (“You Are Suspect” by William Safire, 11/14) that the Homeland Security Act includes provisions for the government to begin collecting an extensive amount and wide variety of data on American citizens. I strongly object to legalizing such an Orwellian concept and encourage you to make sure the bill gets amended before passage.

Thanks for your attention to this critical issue.

11/8/02, 5:40 pm – Met The Makers

On Wednesday, I attended Meet The Makers here in New York. It’s a one-day conference for web developers, and it was pretty cool. The conference is built on a great business model. Where most if not all of the attendees attend for free as VIPs and sponsors pay for the privilege of bringing the attendees up-to-date on the bleeding edge of web development. It also pays for raffle prizes, speakers and a delicious lunch. It was fun to meet the people who have taught me a lot from their sites [Zeldman, Eric Myer]. And I liked what Joshua Davis had to say, too, even though he doesn’t have that respect for inline skaters.

And it was a hell of a lot more fun than listening to the election results that morning. If I wasn’t an atheist, I’d pray for our nation and our world…

11/5/02, 10:30 am – Election Day

I just got back from voting. It was fairly quick. Short lines (on account of me not getting out of my apartment until after 10). There was a short delay, while they had trouble getting the voting machine working. Turns out it had come unplugged.

The guys running the voting machine to the left of me had no line. “Seventeen…,” said one of the guys. “That’s pathetic,” replied the other. Hopefully, their count will increase. Chelsea residents aren’t known for being early risers. And I heard that Paul Van Dyke was spinning last night, which makes an early start even less likely in this neighborhood.

This election is vaguely frustrating. I find it incredibly lame that New York’s incumbent governor declined to participate in a debate with his challengers. I’m very happy to help reelect my local congressman, Jerrold Nadler, but almost wish I could make my vote count in one of the more closely contested races around the country.

Anyway, national politics pale in comparison to the infighting happening among the group of volleyball players who play at the gym’s sand court. We must have had at least 75 group emails in the last 24 hours posturing, negotiating, and taking personal jabs over scheduling playing time on the court. I hope these people take the time out to vote for the makeup of their government…

One other piece of volleyball news… My indoor team is in first place. We’re 12-3 on the season so far, with half of it done. One Team, Under Dog! Maybe if we win the playoffs, we can rule the nation as a secret tribunal…

LukeMelia.com created 1999. ··· Luke Melia created 1976. ··· Live With Passion!
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