Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thanks, Paul Allen

I feel like I've been vacationing with Paul Allen. Yes, that Paul Allen--the co-founder of Microsoft. Actually, I was in Seattle with my husband, and we spent several days enjoying one Paul Allen attraction after another.

  • We started with the Flying Heritage Collection, which features rare and wonderfully restored combat aircraft from World War II. Even the hangar itself was scrubbed down, buffed up, and gleaming. More than just gawking, you can read snippets about the innovations involved in each class of plane--and also the personal story of the individual plane right in front of you. And there are some pretty great videos featuring the people who did the flying.

  • Next up: The Experience Music Project The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. These are two great places within a landmark Frank Gehry building, located at the base of the Space Needle. Lots to ooooh and ahhhh over, and while the goal is to integrate the two museums into a "thought-provoking center for contemporary culture," the primary link for me was a high degree of cool. Where else could I see the Sci-fi faves of my childhood, emerse myself in the music of Jimi Hendrix, and walk away with a DVD of myself and my husband performing as the Beatles cover band "The Never Weres."

When we were done, I felt like calling Paul Allen to ask: What should we do next? I'm sure his answer would have involved seeing one of his professional sports team play.

For the past two years, Allen has been listed among TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. And for several days in September, he certainly was one of the most influential in giving me a great Seattle vacation experience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Indemnify? Really?

Lately I've taken to skimming, if not actually reading, the "terms of use" conditions I agree to follow on Web sites. Now I stop when I see the phrase "indemnify and hold harmless" -- and I push back. Sometimes that means clicking away from a Web site; other times it means shooting an email to the site owner. Indemnify? Really? Me? To join your Web site, post a photo, use your software, do I really need to assume the financial burden of covering your attorney fees and court costs if things go legal? Yes, I know, it's standard language. And it's a far-fetched possibility. But still, that's a steep promise to make.

Here's a good article about the topic--Promises to indemnify, by Susan Butler--that comes from far away (at least for me) at ZDNet Australia and from what seems like a long time ago, December 2000. Worthwhile reading nonetheless.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Olympic addiction continues

For two weeks in August I was transported half a world away, glued to my television and the goings on in Beijing. When the Olympics were over, I actually had withdrawal. But now I've found something to feed my habit for a few more weeks: the Paralympics. Same Olympic deal, but the athletes have greater physical challenges to overcome. One athlete in particular I'm rooting for is Scott Brown, a four-time gold winner in the Adaptive World Rowing Champion (and a really funny guy). His wife Sandy reports from Beijing that he spends "about six hours a day at the rowing venue rowing, weight training and eating!" Scott competes for the first time on September 9th. Go Scott.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The band, the brand, and the bankroll

Brands are bigger than ever these days...and so are Mick Jagger's lips. Not quite a million dollar smile (sold for $92,500 to the veddy British Vic), but pretty great for a nyeah-nyeah, in-your-face pop art design. And how ironic that the very icon of anti-establishment sentiment has been monetized to pay for the education of the artist's son. Private school, no doubt.

Much more (and better) info about the sale on the Creative Review blog and BBC News.