Archive for June, 2008

I’d like to write more about SQLAlchemy and Django, and I will, but for now, just this little note. (As a teaser, we use Django and SQLAlchemy [along with Elixir] on a daily basis, and it’s a great combination.)

As far as open-source support goes, we all know that projects vary greatly in how well they support the folks using their code. The incentive for them to do so is almost entirely altruistic, unless one considers having a popular open-source product as a certain kind of fame.

Anyway, in that environment, Michael Bayer, who wrote most of, maintains, and supports SQLAlchemy, single-handedly answers nearly every question on the mailing list. His answers inform, but also point the question asker to places where he or she can learn even more past the answer to the initial question.

I use SQLAlchemy and I really like it, but past that, it’s great to see Michael be such a great resource to the community surrounding the product.

When I was a high school teacher, our whole school read Buzz Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights. It’s a good book, and was very familiar territory for me as a guy who grew up playing high school football in the South.

It’s a little odd then that I am only coming around to watching the TV series, on Hulu, based on that book. These are some of my first impressions having only seen the first two episodes of the first season.

  • Peter Berg’s hand is directly evident in the direction of the show and that’s a good thing. I like the closeups, interesting camera moves and natural tone to the lighting and color paletter.
  • There seems to be a pervasive sadness in all the characters. I don’t remember this from the book, but I read it a long time ago. Perhaps, this sadness comes from the way a small town always feels like it teeters on the edge of oblivion.
  • Kyle Chandler’s portrayal of Coach Taylor is perfectly balanced: his concern for his players always at odds with his need and desire to win. I would be very interested to see Chandler get a hold of some meaty film roles.
  • The possible demonizing of the townspeople is, like in the book, done with nothing more than what is very close to reportage. It’s not mean-spirited, but is presented by reality. As one of the team boosters says, “Football is all this town’s got.” That’s the reality of many small southern towns whose dreams are pinned on the occasional exceptional athletes or really young people of any kind that are products of these towns. There’s an irony there that’s worth exploring.
  • While I tend to disagree with the football as a metaphor for life, it’s hard to ignore the parallels any sort of competition or group endeavor gives a person to the challenges we face internally.
I can’t wait to watch more. I am deeply involved, but I still feel like the show has a deep undercurrent of sadness that’s hard to shake.

Recently, two places of which I am an alumnus have started making me very angry.

As best I can tell, both the high school from which I graduated and the fraternity of which I was a member in college have recently contracted out their alumni data gathering to a company called Publishing Concepts. Took a look around the web and you’ll see what sort of insanity this company does in it’s quest for your information.

In PCI’s effort to contact me and “verify my information,” I have received 3 postcards about my high school and 4 about my fraternity, numerous emails, and now, multiple phone calls per day. When I answer the phone, I hear nothing but a dial tone, then the call disconnects. This phone tag happens at least 3 times a day.

The real gipper here is that I have already pledged both of these organizations money and am making ongoing contributions. This is exactly the sort of treatment that makes one begin to question his/her continuing support.

I’ve now emailed the school and the fraternity to let them know exactly the treatment they’ve paid for their alumni to receive.