1) The Washington Post reported on a ghost bike put up at Dupont Circle. I think I had vaguely heard of the idea (a white bike with a placard commemorating a bicyclist killed in an accident), but I don't think I'd heard of one in this area before.
2) The news about Spirit Airlines planning to charge for carry-on luggage in the overhead bin got lots of coverage. There was somewhat less coverage of Senator Schumer's objection to it (and plan to introduce legislation). I think he has a good point. Airplane tickets are taxable; fees are not. The unbundling of services is a way of cheating the taxman.
3) Speaking of taxes, I got the "your return has been accepted by the IRS" e-mail pretty quickly. Doing my Virginia taxes on line was quick and simple. The iFile system has always surprised me for its ease and simplicity in a state that is normally not interested in anything Thomas Jefferson hadn't thought of. So, sure enough, the neanderthals in Richmond are taking it away for people over a certain income. This affects about 12% of the state. Those people will have to pay for tax software to file electronically. The claim is that this is in alignment with the federal government, but that isn't true. The feds provide free fillable forms for (almost) everyone. (The exceptions involve the need to file certain less common forms.) The really stupid part of this is that, while it will allegedly save the state six cents a return by outsourcing the electronic filing, it costs a dollar to handle a paper form. There are plenty of people like me who refuse to pay a private firm 30-50 bucks to file our taxes. And, oh, I don't suppose it's possible that the large political donations to certain politicians by Intuit have anything to do with this stupidity, right?
3) Back to travel, United is introducing a fee to stand by for an earlier flight. You only pay the $50 if you actually get on, but what is irritating is that they are not exempting all elite frequent flyers, only 1Ks. I need to find the right email address to send my complaint. They have a legitimate concern about people booking cheaper flights and hoping to stand by for more expensive ones, but most elites are business travelers who are just trying to get home earlier if a meeting finishes before they expect it to. (I have also used that system when connecting from an international flight. It's hard to predict how long immigration and customs will take, so I err on the conservative side and switch to an earlier flight if I get through sooner. I have done this exactly twice in the past three years.)
4) There was another news story about the closing of the last sardine cannery in the United States. I have to admit that I can't remember the last time I ate sardines, though I used to eat the ones that came in mustard sauce fairly regularly and the ones in hot sauce somewhat less often. But didn't they switch to pull-tab opening at some point? Do people much younger than I am know about the old key system for the cans?
And did anybody else get the Stan Rogers song "Tiny Fish for Japan" stuck in their head while thinking about this?
5) I went to a reception for the new director of DARPA, Regina Duggan, on Thursday night. The traffic was bad and I missed the first couple of minutes of her talk. From what I did hear, I thought she spoke well - knowledgeably and entertainingly. It gives me hope for the future of science and technology in the Department of Defense. By the way, does it strike anybody else as odd for an event scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to be a coffee, wine, and dessert thing?
6) The resulting flight disruptions are making the eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull a real pain in the ash.
7) I bought my plane tickets for the NPL con in Seattle. I also discovered that next year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is the same weekend as the Virginia Storytelling Alliance gathering. How can I already have a schedule conflict for March 2011?
8) Holly wanted my comments on the last episode of The Amazing Race.
It's no surprise that the models u-turned Carol and Brandy. I think the cops did manipulate them some, but I think it's legitimate to want to get rid of a team who are continually mean to you. And, frankly, the comments they made after elimination convinced me it was the right choice.
As for other things about the episode, the brothers surprised me. They were smart to have the one who was afraid go first on the fast-forward challenge. Given that one of them claims to hate traveling, they've been doing surprisingly well.
I'm still rooting for the cowboys overall. They may be dumb at times, but they come across as personable and fun.