Diary of a geek

July 2007
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Andrew Pollock

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Saturday, 21 July 2007

Best. Ribs. Ever.

It's our second wedding anniversary on Monday, and because Sarah's not been to Napa Valley yet, and because this is probably the last opportunity to spend a bit of quality time away together before the pitter-patter of little feet, we've lashed out for a nice weekend away.

We're staying two nights at the Gaia Napa Valley "hotel". It's really nice, but a lot more like a motel in most respects. I really like the environmentally-conscious initiatives they've taken though. I can highly recommend it, and the day spa attached is also excellent. Oh, and they have free wireless, which whilst surprising given how much they charge for things like in-house movies, is also a bonus. It was good enough to make laptop-based VoIP calls with.

Today, we drove around aimlessly after our massages, in search of wine tastings (it was handy having a a ready-made designated driver). It seems the wineries here are all into charging for tastings, which in my opinion is a bit of a deterrent (in some cases) to purchasing. The charge varies between $5 and $15. Some wineries seem to refund the cost of the tasting if you make a purchase (which seems like the way to go in my opinion).

We stopped for a late lunch at the Rutherford Grill, where I think I've had the most awesomely delicious rack of barbecue pork ribs I've ever had in this country. I cannot recommend that place enough. Apparently their rotisserie chicken is also to die for.

We picked up thirteen bottles of wine in our travels this afternoon, so for the first time in ages, we'll actually have something in the wine rack at home.

Tomorrow we're going on the Napa Valley Wine Train, which looks like it'll be fun.

So now Sarah can say she's seen Napa.

[18:32] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

We finished watching Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price last night, and, well, this user comment pretty much summed it up.

It was a fairly poorly presented, heavily one-sided piece of "documentary" work. A lot of their claims we're really backed up with anything.

I've no doubt that Wal-Mart is an evil mega-corporation, and we didn't really shop there much before, and we'll certainly never shop there again, but I would have preferred to have a seen a more balanced, better presented piece than what this had to offer.

There were a lot of "Mom and Pop" businesses going "wah wah, Wal-Mart stole my lunch", and frankly, that's capitalism for you, sorry. I can appreciate that the "Mom and Pop" businesses may have provided better conditions for their employees, but that didn't seem to be the focus of those stories, just that various governments provided subsidies for Wal-Mart to come in, and all of the local small businesses had to shut up shop as a result. At no point was there any discussion about sales-tax benefits to the cities that provided incentives for Wal-Mart to move in.

So yeah, the movie was an eye opener, even when taken with a large salt-shaker, but it could have been done a lot better. The user comments on IMDb are quite interesting in and of themselves.

[22:44] [opinion] [permalink]

The trials and tribulations of trying to be compliant

Just because I'm a geek, I try to keep my blog standards-compliant.

I've managed to keep the HTML compliant for some time now, and tonight I figured out how to embed Google Video the right way (rather than using the "HTML" that it provides) thanks to Flash Satay.

So after I managed to maintain HTML compliance and have an embedded video, I thought I'd have another look at RSS feed compliance, because I've noticed that my feeble attempts at embedding video don't seem to make it into the various Planets that aggregate my blog. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to placate the Feed Validator with my blog's RSS feed. It seems to get bitter and twisted about embedded HTML, no matter how hard I try to escape the HTML.

I've no idea if that's got anything to do with why my embedded videos won't show up on the Planets, but it's as far as I've been able to get with compliant RSS feeds...

[22:27] [tech] [permalink]

Sarah made the news

Last night NBC11 was running a story and an email poll about the impending new legislation requiring that all cats and dogs over 6 months of age be spayed or neutered.

Anyway, the legislation seems (surprisingly, in my opinion) divisive within the community. Since Sarah has done a lot of volunteer work at the Palo Alto Animal Services animal shelter in the past, as well as doing a bit of feral cat trap/neuter/release work, she's strongly in favour of the legislation as it'll help reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies that get dumped at shelters (or just dumped) every year.

Unfortunately, plenty of pet owners seem to feel some need to not have their pet spayed or neutered, even if they have no intention of using the animal to breed, and these people have been kicking up a fair bit of fuss.

So, as I was saying, NBC11 ran an email opinion poll, and Sarah wrote in a fairly informed piece about why she felt the way she did, and got an email back this morning for a reporter wanting to interview her, and that happened today.

It's funny, Sarah was saying on the way home from work, that in hindsight one of her answers was pretty lame, and sure enough, the one sound bite they decided to use was that one... Oh well, she's had her 30 seconds of fame.

[21:28] [life] [permalink]