Familiar sounds; Torn heart

At the top of the page, you’ve probably noticed a little iframe widgety thing. Contained therein are the songs currently playing at WNCS, FM 104.7 (pointfm.com) out of Montpelier, VT. If there is a phenomenon of a radio station being the center of a teenager’s life, then this one was mine.

When the options for radio included country, speed metal crap rock, big hair bands, soft rock, and country, WNCS floated its alterna-folk-rock sounds to my bedroom and car in those formative years. Though static was what I most often heard — being nestled in the Buffalo Mountain valley will do that — I knew that when I came up out of the valley between Hardwick and Woodbury, the sound would clear and so would my head.

I don’t know if it’s possible to explain how calming and exciting it is to be able to tune in to the familiar — but also new — sounds from here in Massachusetts nearly 15 years later. Static-free, zipping along co-ax and fiber-optic cable instead of bouncing off of clouds, ‘NCS still calms my soul and reminds me where I’m from. In the moments between notes I can drive once again along Route 12 between Montpelier and Elmore after dropping dad off at work. I can feel the cold morning air rushing against my face through the open window of an ’82 Ford wagon (Farley, I called him).

Up until a day ago, I kept forgetting how much a part of my life music really is. Finding ‘NCS again is a reminder that I do have a sound in my head and that it’s not half bad.

Take a listen if you can. I don’t know if the sounds will mean the same thing outside of Vermont, outside of my head, beyond the confines of an old brown Ford, but who knows. Maybe you’ll get a sense of what it was like growing up where everything — including your future — seemed so far away and hard to get to. “You can’t get there from here” wasn’t just a local color cliche. In parts of Vermont, it’s true.

I’m just glad ‘NCS can get here from there.

Saab Progress

About a month ago we bought a 1994 Saab 900S from ebay for $USD 950. So far it’s been a very good purchase. Since we got it on ebay, we knew it would be a project car, so the repairs we’ve had to do have been expected and fairly typical, in my mind, for a Saab with 187k+ miles on it.

So far we’ve spent about $USD 1100 on repairs, with another $750 or so to go that absolutely have to get done. The work has included a serpentine belt drive wheel replacement, exhaust re-weld and replacement, and a new control arm. Remaining work will be done on the front end: strut rebuild for both sides. We should also get the brakes replaced, because the rotors are a bit rusty, but we may wait awhile on that.

We took a trip to a local salvage yard today, too, and got a new SID unit that actually works as well as two hubcaps for the back wheels for $USD 30 all told. All in all, the car runs really well and seems very solid and in great shape for being 13 years old. It feels like it’s been taken well care of, which is the most important thing.

We can’t wait to be able to get it on the road and really run it through its paces to see where we want to go with it in terms of performance/handling/styling/etc. See, the idea is to have a stealth-sport car. In other words, it should look like your average, three-person-family sedan but have really good handling and pickup as though it were completely tricked out. I’m not sure how to get there, but I’m thinking it’ll be a lot of fun to try.

Soccer: Obsession for Life

No, I haven’t mothballed anything over here. I’ve been busy with work down in Boston and figuring out all of those things. Plus, I’ve picked up an amateur writing gig covering the New England Revolution for theoffside.com.

Other than that, it’s a typical April Wednesday evening here on the East coast.

Enterprise IA and the convergence of web/hybrid/software

As design for software and design for web continue to merge (AJAX, Flex, etc), I find myself searching for the connections and disparities between the two.

What is navigation in terms of software? What is a task-oriented website design? Is there a need anymore for the click-wait-load-click-wait-load navigation model? Can context for task and space be given through users’ past actions, current needs, and visible future?

Besides the philosophical questions, there are also the practical ones. How much cost difference is there between launching software vs. hybrid vs. website? What is the requirements-design-development-launch cycle like for the three? How do they each fit into an enterprise?

I’m going to continue to poke around at these things and post as I meander my way through.

The degradation of American talent (or) Where have all the players gone?

There’s a guy at work I chat with, and we frequently have the following discussion: whether it’s good for the United States for soccer players to increasingly be heading overseas to play.

There are — at least — two sides to the discussion. I’m sure there are more, but for tonight I’m going to focus on just two of them.

  1. With the best players going to the EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc, the United States ends up with a stronger pool of talent for the national team and the U.S. is taken more seriously on an international level.
  2. With the best players going to the EPL, Bundesliga, Seria A, etc, the United States ends up with a weaker stateside league, leading to the decline of a recently increasing soccer enthusiasim in the U.S.

Both arguments have merits. Both arguments have pitfalls. For instance, do U.S. players from foreign leagues make for a stronger national team? Our performance in the 2006 World Cup would seem to indicate otherwise with the only goal coming from an MLS rookie of the year, Clint Dempsey.

Does the MLS get weaker with the best players leaving for foreign leagues? MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis says no (ref: SoccerNet article here), but if soccer has a reputation of being a boring game here in the states, how is it a good thing that our most exciting players (most recently, Clint Dempsey) are leaving?

What neither argument takes into account is the opportunities for the players themselves. In short, it’s a good thing for individual players who want to succeed and prosper in professional soccer to get out of the U.S. at the moment. That’s fine. We should, however, be thinking of how to build up the MLS so that those players can make a living here. Can be successful and prosperous here.

Call me nationalistic, but I think it’s a shame that talent like Dempsey, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, and local ace Charlie Davies aren’t playing for our league.

So I land closer to the second point listed above, though I can see merit in the first. First and foremost, however, I believe that the MLS should work to strengthen not only the league financially but also with talent. To do that, we need to get these players to want to play here. As more stay, the competition gets tougher, and more will want to stay.