The Pope gets an iPod

Pope Benedict XVI got an iPod on Friday, thanks to a group of workers at Vatican Radio.

According to a Catholic News Service story, the pontiff got a 2GB white Nano, loaded with, among other things, the radio station’s programming in English, Italian and German, as well as classical tunes from Mozart, Chopin and Stravinsky.

The Nano was given to the Pope following a visit to Vatican Radio, CNS reported.

Categorized as Daily Life

Helicopters over my house

The big news around here today was this:

Authorities say 23-year-old Mohammed Reza Taheriazar drove a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee into The Pit at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus around noon Friday, injuring five students and a visiting scholar.

All afternoon one or two news helicopter have been hovering over my house. At one point there was a link on the WRAL-TV website of live footage from the helicopter, but there was no audio and no explanation of the situation.

Here’s what we eventually found out. It turns out after they arrested the guy, something he told them caused all manner of law enforcement to converge on his apartment:

Around two hours after the crash, state and local investigators surrounded Building D at University Commons Apartments at 303 Smith Level Road in Carrboro, where Taheriazar is believed to have lived. Bomb squad officers entered the building around 5:15 p.m., but there is no word if anything has been found inside.

A few minutes ago I heard what sounded like a muffled explosion. I have not found any confirmation that the bomb squad detonated anything. I keep checking, but the local news media are a bunch yahoos. They all got seriously scooped by the Daily Tar Heel, which had more information about the situation, Taheriazar and the connection between the incident at The Pit and “Police Situation in Carrboro” on their web site long before local news media had it put together.

I-Tunes must be hooked into the karma of the situation because Unmarked Helicopters by Soul Coughing just came up on random. It’s from the X Files, so it’s kind of creepy anyway.

I feel like Henry Hill in Good Fellas as he goes through his paranoid breakdown near the end of the movie, and every time he goes outside he things helicopters are following him.

Categorized as Daily Life

Never in my day

From today’s News & Observer:

by Anne Blythe, Staff Writer
A Duke University economics major was testing the law of supply and demand when he thought about accepting $3,000 for a courtside ticket to Saturday night’s Duke-Carolina men’s basketball game.

But instead, Tristan Patterson, a freshman from Raleigh, got a lesson in the value of tradition.

Fellow students evicted him from Krzyzewskiville, the tent village that sprouts every year outside Cameron Indoor Stadium as students wait for tickets to The Game.

Categorized as Daily Life

Asking for money

There is something strange about appearing before the Chapel Hill Town Council and asking for $185,000 when I don’t have a job. Yes, as a voluteer and Chair of the Public Arts Commission (an organization supported by the Council), it is my job to give a budget presentation with our request for 2006-07. So, a guy with no job gives his free time to ask for a chunk of money for a non-profit. Gotta love this country.

The Daily Tar Heel had this to say about it:

The commission asked for what board chairman Jeff Cohen deemed “a modest increase” in its budget, which would increase this year’s bottom line from $150,000 to $185,000 next year.

The funds would help continue the commission’s work, which includes managing the town’s percent for art fund, expected to top $1.5 million, and a public sculpture project that has placed artworks at various public locations.

Categorized as Daily Life

My first client meeting

Today I had my first meeting as a marketing consultant. I met with the marketing director at the Museum of Life and Science. Since this was my first meeting as a consultant, and my first meeting as a consultant, it was a great learning experience.

The meeting went very well. If you call yourself a professional and you interact in an intelligent manner, people take you seriously. This is an important thing to understand as you present yourself as an expert.

I learned that in targeting small businesses/non-profits, especially science museums, they have no musuem. The museum in Durham is a decent size museum and has a small marketing budget and no web budget.

In offering several suggestions for places I could help with, the marketing director responded that their was no money available.

I offered to explore an on-line membership form where members can renew on the web site. My point was that if I can generate additional revenue, then there is some money to pay me. I suggested that I could develop and pay for the infrastructure and charge them a cut of each membership. I would probably need to charge a monthly fee until I have a better sense of the number of memberships.

She certainly was amendable to this idea because there is no risk. Now I’ll have to see what I can do. I told my friend Debbie (my goal-setting buddy) that I would have something to the museum by the end of March.

Categorized as Daily Life

Only in Chapel Hill

Peter has to do a report in his 2nd grade class, and he chose Dean Smith as his topic. His teacher told the class that she would help the kids with their research if the person was related to Carolina, but if they picked someone associated with Duke they were on their own.

Categorized as Daily Life

An axe-wielding George

Grace recounted the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. In her version George’s dad was not mad when he found out that George had cut down the tree because he was happy to have a son that could cut down trees.

Categorized as Daily Life

British 64th Regiment of Foot

Continental and British armies occupied Hillsborough, NC during the Revolutionary War. Commanding figures like Horatio Gates, Nathanael Greene, and Lord General Cornwallis headquartered in the town’s inns and taverns. Cornwallis’ ill-spent week in Hillsborough February 1781 eventually culminated in his surrender at Yorktown eight months later. Year 2006 marks the 225th anniversary of the events that led to the end of the war.

Today we took a step back in time and visited a British encampment of the 64th Regiment of Foot.

Categorized as Daily Life

Trouble with Reading Lights

As you read this post, you will realize that the title is a tremendous understatement, but I wanted to put all of this in context.

Peter, like both of his parents, reads before going to sleep every night. Story time was always part of his bedtime routine, and once he learned to read himself, he took care of story time on his own.

His bed has always had a reading light, but we have always had a little bit of trouble figuring out where to clip it, how to aim it and just how to make it work in general. Here’s the light he had been using:

In the past 6 months Peter got new bunk beds (a hand me down from his Aunt Kathy) and we had the whole where do we clip the light thing all over again. We seemed to get things figured out, but Peter being Peter, sometimes he sleeps on the top bunk and sometimes he sleeps on the bottom bunk. He went for a long time on the top, and the compromise with the light was accepted. It was sort of hanging down and pointing up. He would read by indirect light, and he could turn it off without getting out of bed.

When he switched to the bottom bunk, we didn’t think we had issues at all. The light clipped onto the headboard and could be easily aimed at his book. The only problem is that there is not a lot of space between the lower bunk and upper bunk. For an adult, it seems very claustrophobic, but for a kid, it is alright.

Earlier this week, Peter came into our room in the middle of the night and said he bumped his eye on his light. Sometimes he falls asleep without turning his light off. We checked him over and there were no obvious burns or bruises. In the morning he said it still hurt and it was very sensitive to light. It turned out, after spending some time with the school nurse and a visit to the doctor, Peter had a soft tissue injury to the area above his eye. It healed as it should have in about 24 hours.

Since this light now seemed too big in the crowded space, especially as Peter gets bigger, I went to Staples and bought him this light:

This new light has a smaller lamp head and a plastic cover. I thought that this would be easier for Peter to manage. As it turns out, just because the goose neck is longer and sturdier, doesn’t mean that it is easier to get the light in a good position to shine on Peter’s book. And, since this new light has a halogen bulb, it gets hotter than a traditional incandescent bulb.

Peter has been using this light for a couple of days. I had clipped it up high on the bed, actually to the bottom of the upper bunk, to keep it out of his way, but he moved it down to his headboard. Even though it was smaller and plastic, I wanted to keep it away from his face.

Tonight, at about 2 in the morning, Peter wakes up Meg and tells her his light is smoking. Groggy from sleep, and without her contacts, she goes into his room to find his lamp resting on his pillow, smoldering. She separates the light from the pillow and pulls the pillow off the bed. She asks Peter to call me for help. Here is the pillow:

I come upstairs. I was asleep on the coach due to my continuing dysfunctional sleep habits. I walk into Peter’s room to billowing smoke from his pillow (I never thought I would ever use billow and pillow in the same sentence. They really don’t seem to go together). We stand there for a minute watching the smoke rise and fill the room. Finally we open the windows and I get some water to pour on the pillow.

At this point we realize the trauma is over and everyone is safe. The only loss is one pillow and one more light. For the next 30-45 minutes we hug Peter and talk about how he did the right thing and wasn’t he glad we keep talking about Fire Safety and Home Safety in Cub Scouts.

Both Meg and Peter continue to be a little nervous for what could have happened. Both of them didn’t think they would be able to go back to sleep, but they did. This weekend we will go out and get a fire extinguisher for upstairs, and we’ll look at fire escape ladders.

Here is Peter after what will forever be known in the Cohen family as the Pillow incident. In this picture it is hard to tell the bedhead from Peter’s singed hair.

Categorized as Daily Life


This South Africa movie sounds very cool and is nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. It opens in limited release on Friday, but not here. I need to try to keep an eye out for it when it opens here. The music feauturing Kwaito music is described as South Africa’s answer to American Hip Hop.

Description from Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto — where survival is the primary objective – “Tsotsi” traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking.

Movie Site

Story on NPR

Soundtrack with Streaming Audio of all tracks