8/30/2008

Court Square Tavern news

First off, I had a great night there tonight for the first time in ages. It began when I went in and discovered they have in fact gotten rid of the bartender that drove most people away, myself included. Another Matt is now in place, and they've got a cook who seems to know what he's doing. Even Bill Curtis himself seemed to be happy with the way things are going. He stopped me in the street to make sure I knew that Spaten Octoberfest is currently on tap.

I went in tonight after the kids were asleep as I wanted to just go out. I don't have time to go out much anymore, and frankly, at 35, I don't know to do when I do go out. I did have a good time at Court Square Tavern during my birthday surprise party, but I've been reluctant to go back in part because of the former bartender, who I witnessed running so many people out of there.

Court Square Tavern is never going to be perfect. I doubt we'll see it on a Best Of list anytime soon, and there is much to be snarky about. But, to me, the place has been in business for 32 years. Before that, it was another bar going back, I guess, to the beginnings of the Monticello Hotel which I believe was built in 1925.

It hurt that I couldn't go in there and just relax. It hurt that the bartender exuded so much negative energy. When the place reopened, it had so much going for it. No smoking. Wi-Fi. A deeper menu (which, admittedly, is more of an illusion). Yet, I remember being in there one night, relaxing, and my Charlottesville Tomorrow intern was having a difficult time getting any kind of service without extreme attitude. I complained at the time, but it didn't take.

So, this is my official announcement that things might be okay there now, and I'm certainly going to have to adjust my budget accordingly. Bill let me sample a Scottish brew, Red McGregor, and it was incredibly enjoyable. He gave me an interesting perspective on the future of Monticello, and we ended up having a great chat about energy policy.

What I like best about Court Square Tavern is the ability to sit there and have a conversation. The music isn't loud. Service isn't obnoxious. And, you get the sense that all of this has happened before, and that all of this will happen again.

8/27/2008

CTS: Strike Two

I'm the kind of person who should be riding the bus. I live less than a mile and a half away from work. My office is two blocks from the bus station. I'm keen to not drive.

However, I'm growing very tired of incidents like today, when the bus-tracking software provided by the Charlottesville Transit Service fails me.

I jumped out of bed at 8:05 AM or so, thinking that my bus would be along in 25 minutes or so. After all, I hear the bus take the left turn in front of my house every hour. I knew that it should be there at about that time. Why would CTS change it during rush hour?

According to the CTS tracker, they did not. At 8:13 or so, the read-out for my bus-stop said the next 4A would be along in 17 minutes. Plenty of time for a shower and to finish getting ready. After my shower, the read-out said 8 minutes. Still plenty of time. I felt good knowing I would help the City reduce its Vehicle Miles Traveled statistic by 3 miles for today.

However, then it got weird. A few minutes later, the tracker showed 5 minutes. And then continued to say 5 minutes. At one point, it went down to 4, and then went right back to 5. At about this time, I could see a mini-bus speeding past It was labeled "SPECIAL" similar to the bus from earlier this month. Did I miss the bus?

According to the tracker, no. I had 3 minutes left. And then, it went down to 2. I left my house, walked to the bus stop in the rain. And waited, and waited, and waited. I phoned Amy to see what the tracker was saying.

30 minutes, she told me.

So, I walked to my car and drove to work so I could get there on time. I'm not pleased. I'm willing to give the system one more chance. Would you? I have a sense I'm more patient than a lot of people, but even my patience is wearing thin.

8/24/2008

Streaming audio to stay until the end of 2008


The Charlottesville Community Media stream will be in place through at least the end of 2008. This is my experimental live stream, which rebroadcasts content from the Charlottesville Podcasting Network and other interesting things that come to mind late at night. Occasionally, we'll be experimenting with live events, and sometimes we'll be digging through my archives to listen to various odds and ends from my psyche. At times, some of them could be quite embarrasing.

This may seem indulgent, and perhaps it is. But, I'm kind of enjoying having it live and it's affordable. And, it's teaching me things that I want to know. Isn't that why I stay up late into the night working on a computer, the same way I did when I was a teenager?

In other news:

8/21/2008

Special treat until midnight!

Sometimes I wish I had a sense of how many people actually were paying attention to the content of this blog. As a test, I'll say here that for the next 30 minutes, I'm going to use my special live stream experiment to play some of my original rock-star days. So, if you're lucky enough to be an night-owl worker like me, you'll take a listen and you'll either be horrified or absolutely amazed or most likely somewhere near indifferent. If you do listen, for some reason, drop a line in the comments.

This experiment will likely be repeated. I'm trying to keep the stream up 24 hours a day, so even if you're getting this at another time, you'll hear stuff from the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. As I've said before, I enjoy the serendipity of not knowing what's coming up next. So, hence, the stream. Occasionally I do live experiments with it, but for the most part, it's the last week of podcasts. So, take a listen and let me know what you think.

But for the next 30 minutes, you'll get the chance to hear what it's like when I "sing" in the improvisational way that we used to do. To some, that may be a special treat.

8/19/2008

History of former Olympic venues in the Independent

I've not paid much attention to these Olympics. I can't get excited about watching the awful television coverage, and I don't have time to see if my prejudices are borne out by reality. We've watched maybe three hours since it began, and it's been kind of fun to watch the sporting event. But, I've not been too excited about the games being in Beijing. I'm just glad that there have been no disasters.

However, I'm very keen about the 2012 Olympics, and hope to take my family there in four years if we can make a million dollars between now and then. Either way, Henry lives about 35 miles away from there, and they're going to shape his life one way or the other. I'm worried that Britain's terminal pessimism about itself will end up creating an incredible debacle, so over the next four years I'll be paying attention to what's going on. On Sunday, I'll watch the closing ceremonies and guarantee I'll get all teary-eyed when the Olympic flag is handed over.

So, with that context, I share with you an article in today's Independent about what happens when the Olympics are over. What happens to all the infrastructure? Does the massive amount of investment pay off in any tangible way?

In the opinion of the writer, Athens and Sydney didn't plan too well for what came next. Atlanta did, as did Barcelona. There are important lessons in here for London and other city that hopes to hold the games.

8/18/2008

A bus report!

I've been continuing to ride the bus, though not as much as I would like. The reasons why are many, but mostly I have an odd schedule that causes me to drive equipment around, as well as late night meetings here and there. But, on days like today, when I get to work an actual 9 to 5 shift, I figure I may as well take the bus when I can. After all, the bus runs right past my house.

So, at 8:10 I got out of bed and raced to get showered and prepared for the day, and to get out the door by 8:30. At 8:31, the GPS tracker told me the bus would be arriving at my stop in 2 minutes. Somehow I managed to grab all my gear and get out the door. I was halfway to the stop when the bus, a smaller one, drove up, stopping at my out-stretched hand.

However, it was not the 4-A. Instead it was a "SPECIAL" that picked me up anyway. The driver asked me if I was going straight downtown, and seemed kind of disappointed that I was. Another passenger who got picked up after me wanted to get dropped off on Roosevelt Brown. So, suddenly we're going that way, instead of down Cherry Avenue. Sensing a potential adventure, I stopped reading my book.

By the way, that's the best thing about riding the bus. Having 15 minutes to read a book while I get driven home? Works for me.

This morning, though, no book, because instead I wanted to see where we were going. Maybe I was being kidnapped. Perhaps because I'm special.

So, the woman gets dropped off near Crispell Avenue, and we turn right onto West Main Street, just like every other bus. Though, after having the 4 B for a while, it was nice to see what that looked like during the morning commute. We kept on going, and I assumed we were just copying the 4B, and we'd end up going down Market Street. Instead, the driver took me straight down Water Street, past 2nd Street (where the trolley goes) and towards the transit center, in the wrong direction.

One flaw in the transit center is that the vehicles can only access it in one direction. This takes away a lot of options in terms of routing the buses, in my opinion. Maybe at some point they could put a bus pull-in somewhere close to downtown in that direction. Today, though, the driver went to the end of Water, and then switched round in the other direction in the kind of tricky move that I do when I drive. He then turned back around and was able to light directly into the transit center's pull-in. Or is it pull-out?

So, in general, it was a pretty good ride, and much faster and direct than I'm used to. I liked it, but of course, when I take the bus again, it won't be like that I'm sure.

This afternoon was a different experience, only slightly confusing. I'll admit I don't know the full schedule for the 4A yet, but I did kind of expect it to leave the transit center at about 5:20 or so. I left my office at about 5:10, and walked down. The GPS tracker did not identify the 4A as coming, but when I got to the transit center, the monitor said the 4A would arrive in 4 minutes.

So, I took a seat and waited. And waited. And waiter. About ten minutes later, I got up and checked the monitor inside again. Now the 4A was due to arrive in 2 minutes. Sure enough, 10 more minutes later and the 4A sped up to the station, another small one. This one smelled brand new.

The day over, I had another nice 15 minutes of reading my book, for real this time.

8/11/2008

Pie Day 2008


I seldom use this blog to write up about my work at Charlottesville Tomorrow. That's what writing for Charlottesville Tomorrow is for. However, I've had to make an exception for Pie Day, our one-day quest in search of fresh pie in Albemarle County.

You can see all of the details there, and I'd encourage you to comment there if you're interested in this very important issue. But I thought I would reflect for just a brief moment on the day, which was a fantastic birthday present of sorts from my boss. One full day in which I got to play navigator, riding shotgun trying to find routes from one Albemarle community to another. I'm proud to say that I have now been to the northern and southern points in the County, and that I better appreciate exactly how Crozet is laid out. I'm much better equipped now to write about land use topics.

We're truly blessed to live here, though. I can definitely say that I'm proud to have Albemarle County surrounding Charlottesville, the jurisdiction I chose to live in for various reasons that I won't repeat at this time. When I first moved to the area, I lived on what will one day be the North Pointe development. At that time, gas was cheap and I drove around a lot more looking at things. Now, I pretty much never leave city limits because there's not much need to do so. Pie Day was a good way to be reminded that there's a world out there, a beautiful one, that's good to see every now and then.

Do check out the site, though. Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow's Executive Director and my boss, spent the weekend painstakingly putting together a map of our travels, which you can view in either Google Maps or Google Earth. I'm proud of what he's accomplished. Go and check it out, and make your nomination for where we should go if we ever decide to do a sequel!

Brian will also be on Coy Barefoot's show tomorrow night.

8/06/2008

More thoughts on Dr. Horrible

I am watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog for the tenth time, I think. It's on Hulu, as I said, even though I bought it in iTunes because I thought I couldn't watch it legally any other way.
The content is so engaging to me that I want to do whatever I can do to make sure that people follow in Joss Whedon's path.

I know that a small percentage of Americans are watching television online. Even many fellow nerds don't like the experience. For me, it's different, as I've been seeking out television programs since 2002, when I discovered Star Trek episodes somewhere. As with Napster before, I knew that the whole content delivery universe was about to change.

Six years later, I'm repeatedly watching an original program that was created for the Internet, and I'm playing it over and over and over again. I spent $6 on it, and now I'm watching the ads here on hulu.com as I do my nightly after-work work.

Why am I watching it repeatedly? Even on this tenth viewing, there are new things I learn. And of course, because I know the full tragedy of the three acts, re-watching simply fills me with a sadness for what I know is coming. And, of course, I can empathize with Dr. Horrible as a man who gets exactly what he wants - at terrible cost.

8/01/2008

Daily Show clip on Virgil Goode

I need this link to serve as a reference point for a link on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. It won't embed hulu, so I thought I'd do it here.



After all, this blog is supposed to be a key support link in the CPN supply and demand infrastructure!