Monday, June 12, 2006

new design for

we recently launched the re-designed best viewed in Firefox (which you should be using instead of Internet Explorer, anyway).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


keep an eye out for a new and improved very soon (which means in the next four weeks or so in my language). although i'm pretty much done with this blog, i'll be creating a new site just for me (something i haven't had recently), which i will post a link to from here, so you'll know how to find me eventually.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


the other day i looked at my wells fargo account and saw that i had been charged a $2 "PHONE BANKER" fee. no, i had not been transferring assets over the phone, or arranging some complicated financial contract with a banker on the telephone explaining everything to me patiently. instead, i had called wells fargo customer service to ask them to reverse a fee that they had mistakenly applied to my account. so, i wondered, would they charge me a $2 fee to call and ask that they not charge the $2 fee? does the house always win? on the same day, i ran across this article: Microsoft plans new PC security service for June. these disturbed me because they both appear to be conflicts of interest, at the expense of consumers.

the reason professional athletes are barred from betting on sports is apparent: those same players are in a position to influence the outcome of the event on which they are betting. thus, their incentives deviate from those of a non-betting player, whose only incentive is to play the sport as well as possible. the betting player might be in a position where it is more profitable to play as poorly as possible, at least in the short run. sports organizations seek to discourage this possibility.

similarly, if wells fargo makes money from customer service calls, they have little incentive to operate error-free accounts. on the contrary, they have an incentive to maximize the number and amount of erroneous fees to the point just below which the public might think that they are error-prone. if the customer doesn't notice the erroneous fee, it's free money. if they notice the fee, they will incur a $2 charge to fix it. the bank might attempt to justify the charge with a complaint about the high cost of employing customer service personnel, to which i would respond by encouraging them to spend resources reducing the number of erroneous fees and thus the cost of fixing them. alas, they did not discuss it with me first.

the microsoft example is also rather underhanded. if they make (rather a lot of) money from a subscription-based anti-virus service, what would compel them to invent a virus-free operating system? in this case, the sports example is even more pronounced, because microsoft is playing a game without an opponent. even if they "lose" (i.e. they create a virus-ridden operating system), there is no other game in town. of course, that might change at some point (viz. the recent popularity of firefox, a more secure browser alternative to microsoft's internet explorer), but probably not too quickly that they could not do an about-face and respond accordingly. my solution to this, of course, is to simply not use microsoft windows. it is a luxury, however, not available to many.

Monday, January 30, 2006


four items of note today.
  1. "spicy thai" kettle chips are the best potato chips i have ever tasted.
  2. i know about as much about greenspan and what he will and won't do as you do. and i care a lot less, so don't bother asking me.
  3. i'm not as good at staying up late drinking coffee and working as i was five years ago.
  4. this blog is the number two result in a google search for "hawsie".

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


short hair
short hair,
originally uploaded by nclinton.
"different is good." --bill murray, groundhog day

Saturday, January 21, 2006


as christie went to attend her class (an all-day affair), i walked into town carrying a few books (for pleasure and work) and my laptop, intending to read and work on various projects in the morning and afternoon. instead, i arrived at yali's coffee shop (chosen for its soft couches and free access to the internet) and read the last 400 pages of jonathan strange & mr. norrell in one sitting.

the paperback edition is just over 1000 pages, but i never found a dull section. it is a sort of adult magic/fantasy/history/mystery story. i can't summarize it easily, but i can recommend it highly. it even has footnotes (because it is written as if by an historian recounting the tale). genius.

i'm feeling that slightly sick feeling of having done one thing for too long. time to wash the dishes and do my chores.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


i meant to go to the farmers market on saturday to get some veggies and take some pictures, but i was zonked out in bed with a bad cold and fever (which, predictably, i seem to have passed on to christie).

instead i read this book. i have seen lahiri's name around since her collection of stories, interpreter of maladies, won the pullitzer a couple of years ago. since i'm not really big on short stories, i bought her novel. after my severely disappointing struggle with gravity's rainbow, the namesake was refreshingly direct in both language and plot. highly recommended.

support this site by using the link here to purchase a copy from amazon.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


estelle's first christmas
estelle's first christmas,
originally uploaded by nclinton.
it was estelle's first christmas; her hat says so. i posted some pictures of winter holidaying in nevada city, ca and batavia, il. go look at them. and check out the fancy flickr magic on the sidebar of this site. cool.


illinois favored us with warm-ish weather. holiday traditions were kept and broken and created. loot was exchanged. sudokus were solved.

the trip home broke us. our evening flight was late leaving; one checked bag cost us $25 in over-weight fees; upon arrival the geniuses at united made us wait a couple more hours for our checked bags. i half-awoke at midnight to mumble happy new year to christie (or so she says - i don't recall).

i am back to work now while fighting some kind of sinus/cold thing (along with the rest of the world). christie disappeared in the middle of the night last night to attend a birth. our building's basement flooded the other day and doused the pilot light of our heater. we have a dehumidifier working to discourage some of the mold.

our bathroom looks spectacular in burnt orange (thanks to n.w.).

Saturday, December 24, 2005


christmas eve in batavia (illinois, that is). christie and i arrived on thursday from the west coast while mom arrived from the east coast. since then it's been a headlong rush towards gifts, trees, family, music, baked goods, and glug. c and i are playing tonight's midnight service in a little ad hoc orchestra. we had fun rehearsing yesterday - i'm looking forward to it.

tomorrow is the big day. all of christie's cousins, aunts and uncles are coming over to nancy's house for a proper smörgåsbord and the distribution of holiday goods. i will provide pictures when possible.

right now i'm back in my "office" - the local panera. free internet, bottomless mug of coffee, free bread samples. heaven. christie and her mom are busy watching "babes in toyland" which i was not too sorry to skip. the temperature is an unseasonable 40 degrees today, and a good thing too since my winter jacket was lost in the Summer of the Great Purge.

i hope everyone's holiday celebrations and travels are proceeding well and happily.