Archive for February, 2010

snowpocalypse now!

maybe you haven’t heard. if not, i’ll clue you in, it just might maybe snow in atlanta today.

now this means many things in atlanta. it means schools are already closing, delta is most likely already cancelling flights and you should probably not head to the grocery store thinking you are going to find any bread, milk or toilet paper.

it also means that invariably a bunch of jack-asses who grew up in places like buffalo, chicago, wisconsin and other points north are going to start saying things like:

“geez. the entire city shuts down for like 1 inch of snow. back in wausheegan/lake winnepaupak/big rock candy mountain we WALKED to school if there was a foot of snow.”

or (said really snarky)

“OMG! two inches of snow. panic! panic! panic!”

or

“people in atlanta don’t know how to drive in the snow.”

this happens every single time there is winter weather in the forecast. so i have a message for my northern friends. THiS IS ATLANTA GEORGIA. IT’S IN THE SOUTH. in fact, we even have an absurd nickname for our city; HOT-FREAKING-LANTA.

WTF should we do? invest millions upon millions in snow plows and salt trucks for the two times a year we get one inch of snow? should we all fly to vermont every winter to learn how to drive in snow?

or maybe, just maybe, all you northerners should just STFU and let us have our fun.

maybe.

Freeside ATL: a DIY paradise

Mural at Freeside Atlanta

I spent last Tuesday evening checking out Freeside Atlanta, a local hackerspace collective off Metropolitan Parkway, nee Stewart Avenue. I was aware of Freeside’s existence peripherally through some of El Hermano’s friends, but hadn’t paid enough attention to really understand what it’s all about. BTW, does anyone else have the experience where no one seems to know where Metropolitan Parkway is? I told El Padre I was headed over there, and he had no clue where I was going. “Stewart Avenue,” I said. His reaction was predictable, “At night?!” Which is why they changed the name, I guess.

Getting back to the point – what is a hackerspace? Well, I was all set to make a Johnny Lee Miller joke, but Creative Loafing beat me to it a while back. The term hacker is a bit of a misnomer for a public focused on computers. Nowadays, the term hacker encompasses a much broader range of activities.

Freeside, basically, is a DIY paradise. Want to know how to make a 3D printer? They’re working on making one out of a CNC router (a what??). How to make an aluminum foundry out of $50 in spare parts from Home Depot? Check. Sewing? Not only can you learn how, but they’ll show you how to take it apart.

The space itself is half lounge, half workspace. There are couches and a kitchen, along with a rather large recycling bin full of empty bottles. Various computer parts and monitors are stacked on shelves halfway up the warehouse walls, motors in various stages of assemblage litter the workroom. Motors seem to be a side obsession for Freeside members, in fact.

The space itself is a focal point for a community of DIY enthusiasts. Freeside, above all, is a community. It’s is a place to go and find folks who can help you with whatever project you are working on. They have regular classes for things like welding and circuit bending, while the First Friday Flash Talks are a series of five minute lectures on a wide ranging array of topics, from the stock market and card counting to making the perfect omelette.

Overall, Freeside is about sharing and expanding knowledge – it is the open source mentality taken off-line. They pay their rent with member dues, and try to get as much stuff donated as possible. I took a few minutes to chat with Madelynn, Duckie, and Raiford about Freeside.

If you can’t tell from the interview, the vibe at Freeside is remarkably relaxed and communal. Just as we were starting the interview, someone walked by playing Marco Polo. A local artists collective was there, as well, basically taking the Freeside approach to non-profit forming – basically, “we haven’t done this before, and you have, so we came here to learn.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5XKqUcPHF8[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj-V3gg_NhQ[/youtube]

I also have to mention what seemed like a fantastic idea. At the next gathering, someone threw out the idea of “PowerPoint Karaoke”. It is like regular Karaoke, except you are giving a random PowerPoint presentation instead of singing a song. Brilliant! This in itself might be enough to get me to go back over there.

Voter choice

Georgia Senate Bill 359, sponsored by Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth), was introduced and referred to the Ethics Committee on February 4.

What is Senate Bill 359? Well, I’m glad you asked. SB 359 (in a nutshell), if passed, would open the state’s ballots to any political party that receives the support of at least 1 percent of voters in a statewide race. The current percentage stands at 20 percent, which seems almost insurmountable. There are other means by which a candidate may get one’s name on the ballot, if they don’t meet the 20 percent, but that’s not really the issue. The issue is the right of other political parties to have their candidates’ names on the official ballot.

The Libertarian Party endorsed SB 359 yesterday and I suspect many more grass-roots type parties will follow. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to this bill as it progresses through the Senate and on to the House (if it makes it that far).

using that scoutmob.

since i posted about scoutmoba few weeks ago*, i thought i would just take a moment to follow up on my experiences with the service.

i have used it twice, both times for 50% of deals. the first time i used it was the day after scoutmob had launched and i used it at no mad cantina and while the server was a bit confused when i showed him my phone, he returned with the manager who promptly gave me 50% off the check.

by the time i used scoutmob a week later for brunch at murphy’s the servers were pretty well prepared and the table next to me was actually using a scoutmob coupon too (one note from murphy’s – the scoutmob iphone app requires you to be near the location to get the coupon and i couldn’t get a gps connection inside so it wouldn’t let me pull up the coupon. suggest pulling up the coupon before heading into a venue.)

both of those establishments were picked, btw, because i had a scoutmob coupon.

there are a ton of other scoutmob coupons sitting on my phone that i am dying to use too as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

so call me a fan. you should get on board atlanta, and if you have an iphone get the app. it’s a pretty cool way to manage the coupons.

MARTA Observations

When I can, I take MARTA a few days a week into work. It’s a fun ride. Here are a few observations I’d like to share.

1. MARTA is an art gallery for graffiti. East, west, north or south, you’ll see a collection of Atlanta’s finest taggings. It’s all on display for you. Enjoy.

2. MARTA time is faster than normal time. Today my commute took about an hour and it went by quickly. It didn’t feel like an hour. 20 minutes in my car can feel like an hour. An hour of MARTA time feels like 20 minutes in a car.

3. MARTA is good for you. Most, if not all, of the escalators are out of service forcing you to take the stairs. That is good for you. It’s good for your heart and body. Taking the stairs gets your blood pumping and energized as you start the day. Not only that, you have to walk to get where you’re going. MARTA is a good health alternative to driving.

4. MARTA gives perspective. You will see beautiful views of Atlanta you will never ever see driving.

5. MARTA saves money. Sure driving is way more convenient but it’s way more expensive. You can make a tank of gas last many days longer.

Try it out and see for yourself.

how to make a banned german novel into a tony winner?

just like this:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNglewl6mQw[/youtube]

color me pretty excited that the tony award winning spring awakening is going to be coming to the fox theater this spring.

not only am i a fan of edgy musical theater of the avenue q and urinetown variety, but this particular musical happens to be based on the banned frank wedekind novel frülings erwachen which i read back in the day when i was a german major. it’s an aggressive piece to turn into musical theater; a great story and from all i can tell done with great music in this incarnation.

it’s playing march 9-14 at the fox so check it out. also, keep your eyes peeled here as we’re going to work on getting some tickets as part of a giveaway.

I wrote some haiku

These are about Atlanta.

*ahem*

white flakes in my hair
falling gently from the sky
cigarette ashes

rain, rain, go away
come again another day
wait, I was kidding

slow and steady race
like turtles crawling to sea
hello traffic jam

This one is about South Georgia, probably not amusing unless you’ve been there. Or have lived there.

springtime mating dance
soulmates for life meet an end
lovebugs on my car

And this one is about tonight.

long night at the Earl
drank many shots of strega
dude, where is my car?

Love y’all, I’m out!

Let’s do the time warp again….

If Pecanne Log isn’t already on your RSS feed, you are missing out. ┬áChrista T always finds the best stuff… this time it is a slew of old local news bits. ┬áThe absolute best is this old WXIA theme song.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyZ_avgPtmk[/youtube]

I don’t want to seem like I’m stealing all Christa’s best stuff – so go over there and check out the rest of the goodies, and enjoy her always hilarious commentary.

takin’ marta? you are climbing stairs

as all of you know, i am just about a daily marta commuter. and a few weeks ago, i started noticing that more and more escalators were going offline. now, just about every marta escalator is out. the reason: apparently marta was the victim of fraud and mismanagement perpetrated by a contractor.

i am sure this will do wonders for ridership. i know how it goes, someone will ride marta for the first time, have to climb some stairs and say “f it” my car is better than this exercise thing.

poor marta, it seems they just can’t win for losing.

it’s easy to just point the finger and marta, shake your head and say, “man, they can’t run anything.”

the real problem with marta, of course, is not bad management or waste. it is politics. everything about marta, from it’s board, to it’s absurd state oversight committee to it’s funding structure is political. people in atlanta complain all the time about not having a world-class transit system like dc or boston.

we really only have to look at ourselves.

Go on, take the kids

While I do not have children, I can understand the need, especially given how the weather has been of late, to get them out of the house especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom (as many of my friends are). In my ongoing quest to discover inexpensive or free things to do around Atlanta, I’ve discovered something quite cool for the Moms and Dads out there (and the Aunts, Uncles & Grandparents too).

Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, through a sponsorship from Target, has Target Free Second Tuesdays every month from 1:00-7:00 pm where admission to the museum is free for all ages. More details can be found on the website.

I only discovered the existence of this museum last year but I’m looking forward to taking my nephew next time he’s in town.

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