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November 30, 2007

Structure Fire in Newark

From my perch high atop Newark, New Jersey, I bring you a photo of a raging structure fire about one or one-and-a-half miles southwest of here. Exciting!

Structure fire in Newark. Photo taken at 5:26 PM on November 30, 2007. Click to enlarge

An appropriate end to a really awful day of trading, a train collision in Chicago, and a hostage situation in New Hampshire.

November 27, 2007

Subprime Mortgages

Are you confused about the subprime mortgage crisis? This comedic skit from The South Bank Show, via YouTube, with John Fortune and John Bird explains it all. It's quite excellent.

November 10, 2007

Free Rice

For every word in this vocabulary test you choose correctly, 10 grains of rice will be sent through the United Nations World Food Program by the advertisers on the Free Rice page to poverty-stricken locations around the world. Read more about it.

My "vocab level" in the game swings between 39 and 42. The highest level is 50, with very few people scoring 48 and above. What's yours?

November 04, 2007

DARPA Urban Challenge

The DARPA Urban Challenge took place this morning in Victorville, California, where 11 teams let loose their fully automated robotic vehicles on a course designed to determine which robot can autonomously handle urban driving the best.

I'm happy to report that Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing was one of only three contestants to cross the finish line. Virginia Tech and Stanford were the other two teams. Apparently, the course was different for each robot, so the judges are still figuring out which team really finished first.

Two other competitors, the robots from MIT and Cornell, ended up in a funny, slow-motion collision.

Go Tartan Racing!

(Update at 7:49 PM: Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing Team is granted the first prize, of $2 million. Stanford finished in second place with $1 million, and Virginia Tech in third with $500,000. Go Tartans!)

(Update at 8:22 PM: This news is now officially covered on the Carnegie Mellon web site.)

November 03, 2007

Signs of Winter

As Hurricane Noel passed the New York City area today, we had high winds and a bit of rain under dark and cloudy skies. With a high of 49 degrees, Noel provided a much-needed segue from the unnecessarily balmy weather of the past couple months into more pleasant winter conditions.

Earlier today, I was set up to take a panoramic picture of the reds, yellows, and oranges that make up most of the tree-tops to the west, but when it came time to hit the trigger, the rain started pouring. Rather than sacrifice my camera to whatever the rain brings down from the skies above the New York City metro area, I capped it and walked back inside.

Soon, I hope to have the opportunity to take another panorama. The unending miles of bright, colorful trees are a sure sign the weather is becoming nicer, but about five percent of those trees are already stripped bare of their leaves. Photos of bleak, lifeless flora generally just don't evoke the same sort of warmth and exuberance, so I need to be quick about it! When the masterpiece is finally created, I'll be sure to post it here.

So far, I'm quite enjoying November.