Thursday, August 31, 2006
The following is interesting, but mostly, to me as to the application of AI.
"This turns out to be the perfect division of labor between man and machine: Evaluating content is easy for people, and analyzing large data sets is easy for computers."
Google Revealed: The IT Strategy That Makes It Work - Management News by InformationWeek:
"VP of engineering Adam Bosworth last year wrote that Google's success in making a more relevant search was based on "leveraging the wisdom of crowds," referring to the company's PageRank algorithm. (James Surowiecki's book, The Wisdom Of The Crowds, was published in 2004 by Random House.) Company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin built the business on PageRank, which analyzes the human-generated link structure of the Web to determine the relative importance of a Web page. As PageRank sees it, the more people link to a given page, the more important that page is likely to be.
This turns out to be the perfect division of labor between man and machine: Evaluating content is easy for people, and analyzing large data sets is easy for computers. By marrying collective intelligence with automation, Page and Brin built a company fueled by artificial intelligence. "AI is a great tool for helping people make better decisions," Merrill says. "It's not so good at making complex decisions."
The wisdom of the crowd, farmed and refined by machine, remains critical to Google. As Merrill puts it, "All of us together are smarter than any of us individually." That insight may not be as surprising now that it has been reinforced by the likes of Wikipedia and Digg.com, but it's still mostly lip service at many other companies."
I'm pondering the difference(s) between "Crowdsourcing" as applied to Intangibles, such as software, vs. Tangibles, such as ... Cars. Hardware has a much longer amortization period, much harder to change once the design is set. Software, esp. in the case of Google, is very much an evolving product, and there is virtually no "installed base" (on the customer's machine/device/interface)
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
"Sales of newly built homes tumbled last month, but a firm reading on orders for big-ticket factory goods suggests the economy will continue to grow moderately despite head winds from a slumping housing market and high energy prices.
The Commerce Department said sales of new homes in July fell 4.3% from June to a rate of 1.07 million units, a pace that is 21.6% slower than a year ago. The inventory of unsold homes on the market rose to a supply of 6.5 months, up from 4.2 months a year earlier, while the median price fell to $230,000 in July and is essentially flat compared with a year ago."But the actual situation may be worse than it looks from the numbers.
Home for Sale, by Anxious Owner - New York Times
"In California, the Northeast, South Florida and parts of the Southwest, deal sweeteners like these are playing an increasingly important role in supporting home prices. From large national home builders to individual homeowners, many sellers are offering thousands of dollars in perks, including straight cash, so they do not have to slice deeply into asking prices.
But these discounts are almost entirely missing from the statistics on new-home prices reported by the government and on existing-home prices reported by the National Association of Realtors. As a result, home prices may now be falling, despite what the official numbers show, many economists say.
The use of rebates helps home builders and individual sellers by making the real estate market look healthier than it may truly be and by preventing a snowballing decline in home prices. It also keeps commissions for real estate agents higher than they would otherwise be."and:
"Mr. Zandi, the economist, said he believed that the use of perks was now approaching its peak and that sellers would soon be forced to cut list prices more heavily. He predicted that the home-price data released by the Realtors association would show a year-over-year decline, relative to the same month a year earlier, before the end of this year. If so, that would be the first such drop since 1993. The Realtors have never reported a drop in the annual average of national home prices, a fact frequently cited by real estate analysts.
“The reason the Realtors’ data has never showed an outright decline” before, he said, “might be that they’re not measuring the effective price.”
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Weather Street: 2006 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season Below Normal (August 21):
The slow hurricane season and the cooling sea surface temperatures might be somewhat surprising to the public. Media reports over the last year have suggested that, since global warming will only get worse, and last year's hurricane activity was supposedly due to global warming, this season might well be as bad as last season. But it appears that Mother Nature might have other plans."
"Part of the reason for the slow season is that tropical western Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are running about normal, if not slightly below normal (see graphic below, which shows SST departures from normal).
In contrast, at the same time last year SSTs in the same region were running well above normal.
The cooler SSTs in the Atlantic are not an isolated anomaly. In a research paper being published next month in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists will show that between 2003 and 2005, globally averaged temperatures in the upper ocean cooled rather dramatically, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years."
An effective alternative to retirement
|AARP covers blogs. Ronni Bennett is featured. Here she catches us up on other elderbloggers.|
Earlier post :
|Wednesday, August 16, 2006|
Talk about getting hard on a guy
|Ariel: Old Men Can't Get It Up, Erect Blogs Instead.|
|On the other head, maybe we've kept it up longer than the rest of ya'll.|
"Charlie and I think newspapers are indispensable. I read four a day. He reads five. We couldn’t live without them. But a lot of people can now. This used to be the ultimate bulletproof franchise. It’s not anymore."
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Fake or Photo?
Autodesk "quiz" to see if you can differentiate CG from Photo's.
I missed one, which I wasn't sure about, so would give myself "partial points"
All in all, a lot better than the Reuter's crap: (Bloggers Bash Bogus Photos )
I had a prior post was about economists...
Looney Dunes: Why Blog?
Back to Doc's piece.
Is blogging just about getting rank, promotion, and therefore just about advertising?
Doc rebuts the following "...in the end, that¹s what the A-list is all about: directing traffic. They are the traffic cops of the blogosphere and they are not as easily replaced as some would like to make us believe. They are brand names and we tend to trust them, even if they let us down sometimes."
|As the blogophere has become more rigidly hierarchical, not by design but as a natural consequence of hyperlinking patterns, filtering algorithms, aggregation engines, and subscription and syndication technologies, not to mention human nature, it has turned into a grand system of patronage operated - with the best of intentions, mind you - by a tiny, self-perpetuating elite. A blog-peasant, one of the Great Unread, comes to the wall of the castle to offer a tribute to a royal, and the royal drops a couple of coins of attention into the peasant's little purse. The peasant is happy, and the royal's hold over his position in the castle is a little bit stronger.|
|Want to succeed in the blogosphere, or the Web in general? Easy. Do search engine optimization. Here's how:|
|I can't promise royalty, because there isn't any. But I can promise a rewarding relationship with the readers you'll get, regardless of how many there are.|
Back to my "voice"...
Can blogging be commercial? Damn right it can, and it can be a powerfull tool for those that know how to use it. But that discussion is for another time/place/
But it can also be simply a means of communicating with friends (know and unknown) and a broader community.
I personally "work" from a home on a lake in NW Mich, surrounded by a National Park.
We have our circle of friends here, but I also have friends, business associates and other contacts from coast to coast. I can work the hours I want, post ideas (good, bad or indifferent) at any/all hours of day or night.
This blog is public, others are private - family/friends only.
Now back to anger management practice ... (VBG)
Thursday, August 17, 2006
You dial up the 800 number, confirm the balance due and key in the credit card number and expiration.
OK, all of this is straightfoward.
Bot voice, which sounds like a stern grade school teacher, reads back the information with query if this is correct press 2.
You key 2
Then the bot reads your confirmation number and asks if you want it either repeated or "if this is correct press 2"
Does not compute ... Sprint gives me confirm number with no further information and expects me to confirm their confirmation.
2) Charter Communicatons, my internet provider, via cablemodem
So ... service is out.
Dial the 800 number, before you get series of decision trees to get to service information, there is an offer to let Charter be your phone service.
Decision tree almost invariabley all Bot's
Message that they are either out of service or down for maintiance...
Sooo ... I want to call Charter to check service and they offer to have a service that may not work?
Almost as good as the our Electric Utility website that offers estimated time to be back in service during an outage .... which most likely knocks out my internet service.
Who dreams this stuff up?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"WHEN activists, journalists and others speak of “Big Oil”, you know exactly what they mean: companies such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell. These titans have been making lots of money for their shareholders; their bosses enjoy vast pay packets; and their actions affect us all. BP's decision to shut down Prudhoe Bay, America's biggest oilfield, to repair leaking pipes is a case in point, outraging many and pushing petrol prices even higher (see article).
Yet Big Oil is pretty small next to the industry's true giants: the national oil companies (NOCs) owned or controlled by the governments of oil-rich countries, which manage over 90% of the world's oil, depending on how you count. Of the 20 biggest oil firms, in terms of reserves of oil and gas, 16 are NOCs. Saudi Aramco, the biggest, has more than ten times the reserves that Exxon does. Those with misgivings about oil—that its price is too high, that reserves are running out, that it damages the environment, that it is more a curse than an asset for countries that produce it—must look to NOCs for reassurance.
These companies are certainly sitting on a reassuring amount of oil. Saudi Aramco's proved reserves alone could keep the world supplied for several decades. But it is only exploiting ten of its 80 or so fields, so will be able to pump at the present rate for about 70 years even if it never discovers another drop of oil. In fact, Aramco and other NOCs are likely to find plenty more if they look, since their territory has not been very thoroughly explored. Only 2,000 wildcat wells have ever been dug in the countries around the Gulf, according to Leonardo Maugeri, an Italian oilman, compared with more than 1m wells in the United States."
"Dell plans to recall more than four million laptop batteries with components from Sony that can pose a fire hazard. It is the largest PC-related recall in Consumer Product Safety Commission history...
Dell's move follows a series of smaller recalls of lithium-ion batteries, and comes at a time of intense scrutiny of the battery technology -- particularly on airplane flights. Now that lithium-ion-powered laptops and MP3 players have become favorite carry-ons for many air travelers, transportation officials are evaluating the safety risks posed on airliners and whether tighter restrictions are required. The dangers of battery-related fires in laptops aboard airlines were the subject of a page-one article in The Wall Street Journal yesterday."
I do trust that the problems will be worked out, but no easy answer.
More Here: Need for Battery Power Runs Into Basic Hurdles of Science - New York Times
"But scientists are running into some basic hurdles of chemistry and physics. The more energy they store in a small package, the more volatile and dangerous that package becomes.
The volatility of batteries in laptops, and those powering millions of portable consumer devices from cellphones to power drills, was made apparent Monday with Dell’s recall of 4.1 million laptop batteries. Dell said the batteries, made by Sony, could catch fire because of a problem in the manufacturing process.
Though the chance of a flaming notebook is small, the number of incidents involving burning batteries is rising each year because there are so many more devices using small and powerful power sources.
There is another pressing reason for the quest for improvements: battery-powered cars. An electric car needs a power source that is 2,000 times as powerful as a laptop battery. “That size would be extremely dangerous,” said Sanjeev Mukerjee, a chemistry and chemical biology professor at Northeastern University. “This technology has a downside, and that is that it is very sensitive to how it is manufactured.”
The potential for fire in a lithium-ion battery is a result of its chemical composition. Contained in that small package are all the elements needed for a fierce blaze: carbon, oxygen and a flammable fluid. The battery is made of a thin layer of lithium cobalt oxide, which serves as the cathode, and a strip of graphite, the anode. These are separated by a porous insulator and surrounded by fluid, a lithium salt electrolyte that happens to be highly flammable."
Monday, August 14, 2006
Maybe not paths to prosperity, but some success
Dooce, Moveable Type, Del.icio.us, Digg & Zoot.
Washington Post:Blogger Takes Aim At News Media and Makes a Direct Hit
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; Page C01
"Charles Johnson could tell there was something wrong with the news photo the minute he saw it. Something about the three plumes of black smoke rising over the buildings -- smoke just doesn't curl that way, pirouetting in unison. It was, he wrote Saturday, "blatant evidence of manipulation."
He was right on target.
The Reuters photo showing the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on Beirut was doctored. The British-based news service acknowledged as much Sunday, withdrawing that picture and another doctored image, of an Israeli jet, that were taken by freelance photographer Adnan Hajj. The agency subsequently severed its ties with the Lebanese photographer and purged its files of his work.
The exposure of the doctored airstrike photo was a coup for Johnson and his four-year-old political blog, Little Green Footballs. Make that a second coup, of sorts.
In September 2004, not long after "60 Minutes II" seemed to offer damning revelations about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, Johnson was at the forefront of bloggers who raised questions about the CBS report. (Johnson used the Microsoft Word program to retype the memos used in the report and found that his computer could reproduce the same typefaces and line breaks that Dan Rather had said were produced by a manual typewriter in the mid-1970s.) The incident became a historic debacle for the network and contributed to Rather's retirement from the "CBS Evening News" anchor chair."Bloggers Drive Inquiry on How Altered Images Saw Print - New York Times
Like what blind editor would ever fall for this:
And :Strategy Page : Information Warfare:
"Pictures That Don't Tell the Story
August 12, 2006: As the scandal around Photoshopped and staged war-in- Lebanon photos used by various mainstream media outlets continues, it is becoming more obvious that what happens in newsrooms is having an effect on the war. Hizbollah, unable to defeat Israel via conventional means, resorted to the use of the Western media – which usually has very few restraints – to increase diplomatic and political pressure on Israel."
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Long Bets [ 257: Hydrocarbon fuels will be the "fuel of choice" for personal transportation for the next 50 years ]
"Picking up on Danny's argument (#168) about non biogenic sources of hydrocarbons and a belief (faith?) in the market system where higher prices will bring increased exploration for hydrocarbons, I would argue that hydrocarbon fuels will remain "desirable".
The energy density of hydrocabon fuels trumps alternatives for mobile systems.
Note that I'm not arguing about fixed plants, where such systems as fuel cells may well work, only mobile."
I'll add to the argument (later).
Mostly that with the pace of development (slow) in personal transportation, due to the installed base (plant and equipment), as well as the adoptation of technologies such as hybrids, we'll be using hydrocarbon fuels for a long time. Maybe not gasoline, althought this may well be the choice, but bio-diesel, or diesel from Natural Gas are likely.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Now here's one that makes more sense... real world vs. image and video game.
Autoweek on Saturn Vue Greenline:
"It’s good to see that people building these vehicles are working toward simple everyday use, with hybrid in mind. This is no super-high-tech setup—just a belt assist via a starter/generator, regenerative braking, a battery pack, fuel cutoff, and some electronic gear to keep it all working together. But overall, it just does its thing—auto stop/start, belt-assisted acceleration, a gauge to report whether you’re using electric power or generating it, and a little green “ECO” light to tell you whether the vehicle is exceeding the EPA mileage estimate. Otherwise it works like a normal gasoline-engine SUV. It doesn’t call attention to fuel economy with some readout on the dash—that’s just the kind of thing that has greenies driving their hybrids as 49.3 mph in the California HOV lanes as they try to squeeze another mile per gallon out of their average miles per gallon readout. That may be green in the extreme, but it’s equal part stupid, and unsafe as well.
Overall, the Vue Green Line is a smart package at a great price for a hybrid with this much utility. This one was decked out with quite a few options—heated power leather seats, DVD entertainment system—and still cost $4,000 less than the last Ford Escape Hybrid we drove. And you’d be well on your way to buying a second Vue Green Line for the money you’d save over a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which starts at $33,635.
This hybrid trucklet may not thrill the techno-geeks, nor will it calm the hardcore enviro-whackos, but it should please anyone looking for space for five and cargo room, a nice sticker price, and a lot less stress at the gas pump with the big $3.09 per gallon staring you in the face."
Old friend from High School, Brooks Stover, dropped by.
We haven't seen each other for something like 40 yrs.
Yup... dates me/us.
Turns out that he has owned property up here almost as long as I have.
Small world - common good taste (VBG)
Brooks showed up with his H3
His was tan/grey rather than red.
Turns out that he was project manager on this before retirement.
some PR here
Earlier project had been this:
We'd drawn cars all the time in HS.
Good that he made a career out of this passtime!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Yesterday, despite, seemingly all day coverage on CNBC of Prudhoe Bay and oil prices, the Dec futures closed on the low for the day. I'm following Dec just as it has some time left and starting to get some volume.
Well, overnight we have the airline bombing plot foiled
NYTimes : "LONDON, Aug. 10 — British authorities said today that they had thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up multiple airliners traveling between Britain and the United States and cause “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”
No link ... yet.
Today oil heads lower.
Chart here : iFS | Interactive Charts
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Now he comes to NYC:
"Mr. Robuchon, a Michelin three-star chef whose creativity and perfectionism have kept him at the pinnacle of the culinary world, has become conspicuously active since he “retired” 10 years ago, expanding the number of restaurants that bear his name and changing his approach so that it’s more casual. He made his first foray into the particularities of the American palate last year in Las Vegas. He describes that venture these days as a warm-up for the scary, tough crowd in New York.
Last week, he was finally seeing his latest restaurant in its completed state — clearly he knew the clock was ticking. His first reaction was general approval.
Then he took a closer look."
"When Mr. Robuchon turned 50 and announced that he would retire at the top of his game, saying he was tired of haute cuisine and all the formal folderol that it involved, it rocked the world of food. Then his announcement in 2002 that he would open L’Atelier, a 36-seat, counter-only restaurant in Paris on the Left Bank, was just as stunning. By 2003 he was back in the restaurant business in France. (He had first tested the waters by opening a version of it a few months earlier in Tokyo.)
Within a year after the opening in Paris, Ty Warner, the owner of the Four Seasons hotel in New York, began to court him for his hotel, as a replacement for the Fifty Seven Fifty Seven restaurant. “Everybody was saying he was the greatest chef in the world, so I ate in all his restaurants and I was convinced,” Mr. Warner said.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York is a little different from the others. For one thing, it has been incorporated into an existing space with a blond wood, somewhat Art Deco style by I. M. Pei, who designed the hotel. The Atelier’s look, created by the French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, is sleek black with touches of burgundy. Mr. Pei was consulted on the design and Mr. Robuchon approved every piece of kitchen equipment.
Unlike the other Robuchon restaurants, this one has a counter that seats only 20 and is of blond wood; the others are black. Beyond it, the black open kitchen is typical of the other Ateliers.
The restaurant has another 30 seats, at tables with banquettes. But the menus for both parts of the restaurant are the same, with a list of about 20 dishes served either as small tasting plates ($12 to $78) or larger, conventional portions ($17 to $88), at both lunch and dinner. The restaurant will also offer tasting menus. Desserts are $15."
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Bottom line: distance matters less today.
Access to ideas means more.
Aug 3rd 2006
From The Economist print edition
Why do economists spend valuable time blogging?
“CLEARLY there is here a problem of the division of knowledge, which is quite analogous to, and at least as important as, the problem of the division of labour,” Friedrich Hayek told the London Economic Club in 1936. What Mr Hayek could not have known about knowledge was that 70 years later weblogs, or blogs, would be pooling it into a vast, virtual conversation. That economists are typing as prolifically as anyone speaks both to the value of the medium and to the worth they put on their time....
"The faster flow of information and the waning importance of location—which blogs exemplify—have made it easier for economists from any university to have access to the best brains in their field. That anyone with an internet connection can sit in on a virtual lecture from Mr DeLong means that his ideas move freely beyond the boundaries of Berkeley, creating a welfare gain for professors and the public."
" Global oil prices are slightly lower Tuesday, a day after the market jumped 3 percent on news BP was shutting down Alaska's giant Prudhoe Bay oilfield, possibly for months.
The 400,000 barrel-per-day Alaskan field accounts for eight percent of U.S. domestic production.
U.S. light, sweet crude oil was down 28 cents at $76.70 a barrel by 0641 GMT Tuesday, Reuters reported. It jumped 3 percent to $76.98 a barrel on Monday, within sight of its record of $78.40 reached in July.
London Brent crude is down 41 cents to $77.89 a barrel. It hit a record high Monday of $78.64.
Share markets in Asia, which fell sharply on Monday as part of a global slump, recovered Tuesday, with Japan's Nikkei up more than 2 percent at the close. South Korea, Taiwan and Australia were all up more than 1 percent.
BP said on Monday it would shut down its Prudhoe Bay operation for an indefinite period after finding "unexpectedly severe corrosion" on one line and a small oil spill.
In a subsequent statement, BP said it would replace all of the field's transit lines, potentially putting it out of service for months.
BP America President Bob Malone said in a news release dated Tuesday, August 8: "We have now taken the decision to replace the main oil transit lines at Prudhoe Bay. This will be accomplished as part of our overall plan for ensuring the integrity of the field."
Malone said BP deeply regretted that it was necessary to take the "drastic action" of a shutdown.
Crude oil prices began climbing as soon as the first BP announcement was made and analysts said consumers could expect an increase in gas prices at the pump.
"We apologize to the nation and to the state of Alaska for any adverse impact, however this decision was made due to discovery of unexpectedly severe corrosion and a small spill from a crude oil transit pipeline," BP spokesman Daren Beaudo told CNN. (Watch BP man apologize -- 4.26)
The U.S. Department of Energy said it was willing to release supplies from the nation's emergency oil reserve to prevent a crisis.
BP, which is already facing a criminal investigation over a large corrosion-related spill in March at Prudhoe Bay, saw its stock drop several percentage points on the London Stock Exchange after the shutdown announcement, The Associated Press said.
Beaudo said it would take a "few days" to shut down production on the affected pipeline.
He said approximately four to five barrels of oil had leaked, but the spill had been contained. He said pumping would resume until it was environmentally safe to continue.
BP said tests had revealed 16 anomalies in 12 locations in an oil transit line on the eastern side of the oil field.
According to AP, the oil firm confirmed in June that it had received a subpoena from a U.S. grand jury investigating the March spill at Prudhoe Bay.
Also last week, BP said it would shut down 12 oil wells on Alaska's North Slope as a precaution after whistle blowers alleged more than 50 were leaking, AP said. Most of the closed wells were in Prudhoe Bay.
Monday's announcement follows more than a year of escalating oil prices with violence in the Middle East and Africa, wranglings over Russian energy firms and adverse weather in key North American oil fields all piling pressure on a jittery market.
But there are some hopes for a breakthrough in the Middle East conflict."
And from July 12 International Energy Agency:
Supply ahead of demand
International Energy Agency - Oil Market Report:
"Benchmark NYMEX WTI crude futures rallied above $75/bbl in early July driven by strong gasoline prices, refinery problems and geopolitical uncertainty. Supply constraints remain in Nigeria, although Iraq’s northern pipeline is providing additional supplies. Headline-driven reactions to developments involving Iran’s nuclear programme continue to have a major impact on market sentiment.
World oil product demand growth is largely unchanged for 2006, at 1.21 mb/d, as weak 2Q06 OECD consumption is counterbalanced by Chinese demand strength. Demand projections for 2007 show growth of 1.57 mb/d based on recoveries in North America and Southeast Asia.
Non-OPEC oil supply growth accelerates to 1.7 mb/d in 2007 from 1.1 mb/d in 2006. Supply (including biofuels) averages 53.0 mb/d next year. The FSU and Africa account for 60% of growth, and the Americas for 30%. New oilfields and an assumed rebound after severe 2005/2006 outages underpin the increase in 2007. The North Sea and OECD Pacific also see a temporary respite in 2007 from recent declines."
Now back to our regularly scheduled nonsense ...
know that I'm missing Alaska and Maine
Check this link to create your own visited states map
Then there is World Travels
Guess I'm pretty much a "Northern Hemisphere" guy.
And you can: create your own visited countries map
Monday, August 07, 2006
"BP said oil production would be reduced by 400,000 barrels a day, close to 8 percent of U.S. oil production."
If oil doesn't gain at least $5 on this news, my guesss is that it will drop $5-10.
News of major cut in production should be positive for prices.
If not, this will be evidence that there is plenty of oil either in the market or ready for the market.
This would drive down prices.
Unwinding of speculative positions will further pressure prices.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Just spotted a piece that ran in Detroit Free Press back on July 26th
Get 11 friends and your checkbook
High bid: Lunch Up North with star chef
July 26, 2006
It isn't for the faint of heart, stomach or pocketbook, but superstar chef Mario Batali is offering to cook with you and 11 of your friends Up North next month, if you're the high bidder in a charity auction.
Uber restaurateur, Food Network icon, author of best-selling cookbooks and last year's James Beard Foundation chef of the year, the pony-tailed Batali and his family -- wife, Susi, and sons Benno, 9, and Leo, 8 -- have a home near Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula. The Aug. 27 afternoon cooking lesson, wine tasting and multi-course lunch is a fund-raiser for the Leelanau Conservancy, a group dedicated to land preservation in the area.
This is the second event he's done for the group; the first one went for $25,000.
"It was fabulous -- one of those events of a lifetime," said Mary Loveless of Omena, a guest of the winning bidders, who did not want to be named. "Mario was just so much fun -- fun and funny and gracious."
This year, according to the Conservancy Web site at www.theconservancy.com , the meal featuring "the bounty of the Leelanau Peninsula" will start at 1 p.m. "and continue until the Roman mindset is achieved."
With the bidding finale set for next week, we caught up with Batali at his Up North home and peppered him with questions about the event and his life in Michigan.
Here's what he had to say:
Question: I understand you recently did a charity dinner for your child's school that went for $52,000. How many of these events do you usually do a year, and why are you doing this one for the Leelanau Conservancy?
Answer: This one is a lunch, but I do dinners of this variety between six and 10 times a year, and they all go for around that range. But I did one with Emeril that went for $150,000. It's a case of having the right people involved -- and they'll drop that money anyway. As for why I'm doing this one, we spend a substantial amount of our time here and all our holidays. I think it's a remarkably beautiful place that needs to be protected.
Q: If my friends and I scrape up several thousand dollars to win this event, what can we expect?
A: It's Roman cooking at its best. And it's hands-on participation to the extent that someone wants it to be. They could just sit there if they want to and let me cook, but last year's group got down and got into it. We'll have a lot of wine, little artichokes, fava beans, saltimbocca ... There'll be 10 courses, each in small portions, prepared on the spot -- and everything will be fresh.
Q: Can you describe "the Roman mindset"?
A: That of running the world, likely intoxicated, and (being) deliriously happy.
Q: And they say money can't buy happiness ...
A: But you can certainly trade some cash for a few moments of it.
Q: What's the difference between living in Manhattan and living in Northport?
A: (Laughs.) Well, let's put it this way: You can drive slow in Northport. You don't have any stop lights ... well, no, there's one blinking light in Northport. There are no taxis. Everything's over at midnight, and nobody minds.
Those are some of the crucial differences.
Q: How'd you end up there?
A: My wife went to college at the U of M. We started coming out to visit some of her friends about eight years ago. We stayed one week, and the next year we stayed two weeks. And then three weeks, and then five. And then the guy whose house we had been renting decided to move up here. So we started looking around at places, and at that point, we decided to buy.
Q: So you go in winter, too?
A: We come at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and last year at Thanksgiving we had a beautiful snow. It was just like being in a beautiful snow globe. I hadn't realized it, but the lake effect makes the snow just float around. We were here for five days, and it was just magnificent.
Q: What's your favorite thing to do up there? Do you have a garden? Make wine? Fish for walleye? Read paperbacks? Write more cookbooks?
A: All of the above, but I do have a wood-burning pizza oven in my backyard overlooking Lake Michigan. So making pizza out there may be my favorite thing to do here. It makes my children very happy, and it makes me happy.
Q: What's a typical night on the Leelanau Peninsula for you and your family?
A: The other night we went on a big boat ride -- drove across to the other side of Grand Traverse Bay, looked at Eastport and rode around, dragged the kids on an inner tube, and then we went to my friends Barbara and Lee's house, and they made barbecue chicken and peach and raspberry cobbler.
Q: Does anyone up there invite you over for dinner?
A: Well, sure -- Barbara and Lee do! (Barbara Nelson-Jameson is a close friend of Susi's from college and a member of the Conservancy board.)
Q: By now, do you consider yourself a Michigander?
A: I am definitely, ... particularly in the summer. But I still honk my horn every now and then, so I must be a New Yorker.
And here's coverage from the TC Record-Eagle
A buddy in the kitchen: Batali repeats offer to cook as fundraiser prize
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Got email from Graeme first thing this AM with the link The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, Aged 51 1/2
Some pretty funny stuff, esp. for Mac-aholic (evidence below).
The following shot from this summer's "family gathering"
Several Powerbooks "elsewhere" and the rest of the kludge a collection of devices kept out of way of the 13month old. Add in a few digital cameras, diapers, kiddie snacks
And this was just 4 adults, one left her's at home.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Pretty interesting shots of swiss bunkers
(check out the site - 19 shots)
Some are obvious
some very much non-obvious at first glance
From the site:
For over four years, I have developed a photographic documentary work on Swiss fortified constructions – bunkers. Each element of these photographs has a relation with Switzerland and particularly the mountain landscape that is an inherent part of our identity. The bunkers are a integral part of a finely developed popular defense military system in Switzerland, a military with historically strong links to the landscape.
After the cold war ended many of the bunkers became obsolete. The tendency is to forget them or even to renounce them, my approach on the contrary, aims to expose them from a new angle. This approach has led me to discover a great number of bunkers, some in remote areas, sometimes difficultly accessible, covering the whole of the Swiss territory. The relations between these basic shaped bunkers and the often-sumptuous landscape surrounds them became an essential part of the study. I looked for the most spectacular bunkers, notable for their camouflage devices, true theatre scenery made with the utmost care. A quality indeed fully Swiss.
Here is shot of "Water Vapor" from Intellicast
For fresh input of water to the Great Lakes Basin, we need sources from the outside, either Pacific or Gulf of Mexico.
This looks like Pacific off the coast of Mexico
Winter, we sometimes get it from off coast of Canada.
We got the first bands last night, a bit before 9PM.
Minor bands overnight (about 2AM)
Then early this AM we picked up some more.
Of note is that as the water warms up (Lake Mich) the storms can hold together as they pass over the lake.
Earlier in the season, when the waters are colder, they seem to suck the energy out of the storms.
From now through the rest of the year, storms will carry across the Lake.
For the rest of the summer, we'll get occasional light shows.
As we are situated on the north shore, we get to see storms move across our view.