Riding for Charity

Matt Zagaja on his bicycle

This morning I participated in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure in North Haven. My dad has been doing this ride every year for many years now and he asked me to join him this time. Within one week I hustled to get the minimum number of donations. My friends were more generous than I imagined so it was not terribly difficult. Between law school and other commitments I had not been riding regularly so I was a little concerned that the course would be difficult. The weather was not optimal at around sixty degrees with the possibility of rain. So I decided to bring my hybrid instead of my road bike and rode the 25K course with my father.

As I sat on my saddle at the start line the clouds kept things fairly dark overhead. The wind was cool and crisp across my skin. I sort of regretted not bringing my cool weather gear. I was struck by the variety of riders. Some had full kits and expensive road bicycles while others were wearing street clothes and riding mountain bikes. The announcer came on the speaker system and gave-us our final instructions before a rendition of the national anthem. Then we were free to go! After about ten minutes my body warmed itself up. We rode through a mostly residential area. Lots of trees and some older houses decorated the countryside as we zipped across the pavement. The only tough part was a steep hill leading up to the rest stop at the midway point. Many riders chose to dismount and walk up the hill. Dad and I downshifted and kept pedaling.

The cool weather kept the sweat and fatigue that normally accompanies this kind of activity at bay. I almost felt underworked. However I was more than hungry at the end and excited that they provided us with free sandwiches and strawberries. I enjoyed it so much that next year I hope to try the 50K or even 100K if I’m feeling ambitious.

Cool Find of the Day — CT State Library Databases

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Connecticut State Library recently. If you are a resident you can get a state library card for free and this entitles you to access their databases at no charge. Two databases that are especially neat are the Oxford English Dictionary online and Safari Bookshelf. OED Online normally costs $295 a year and is the most comprehensive source of information on the English language. Safari Bookshelf has a subset of about 78 titles from O’Reilly Media. If you were looking for some books on programming, blogging, or twittering its the place to go!

Planet Money's "How to Create Jobs" Research

If you have not yet done so you should check out the Planet Money reports on job creation. There is an episode of This American Life and an issue of WIRED magazine. What I found interesting were the graphics that noted Hartford as an epicenter of jobs for the aerospace, automotive, communications, and electrical equipment industries.

On a side note I downloaded the issue on my iPad and was rather impressed with WIRED’s iPad application. In addition to the regular magazine content there were infographics that came to life and it included a video presentation on the research that Adam Davidson made at a WIRED conference.

O'Reilly Data Bootcamp

I finished finals yesterday and so my first summer project (besides finding an internship) is learning how to process and visualize raw data using tools on my computer. I bought the O’Reilly Data Bootcamp video from their Strata Conference and hope to learn some new things with it over the next day or two. The first pitfall I encountered was setting up my Macbook Pro with the proper tools. The bootcamp requirements are here and they include use of Python. The version that comes pre-installed did not appear to function well so I had to download the latest one from Python.org. I also had to install XCode (included on the Mac OS X install CD) before I could get all the modules installed. I plan on doing the course tomorrow and will post a review and results.

Unpaid Internships

Recently I’ve been having a back and fourth conversation with Zachary Janowski on twitter about unpaid internships. It was spurred from my comment on a tweet by Daniel Schwartz announcing the sixth circuit tossed out the Department of Labor’s internship test. 140 characters is cramping my style so I am expanding my thoughts in this blog post.

I have had both paid, underpaid, and unpaid internships in a variety of fields during my undergraduate years and now in law school. I have enjoyed and benefitted from all these experiences. I do not regret any of them and to the extent that I have been able to afford them I’d do it again.

In spite of this the Department of Labor headed in the right direction with its policy towards unpaid internships. I believe that generally unpaid internships are poor policy. Interns create value that corporations benefit from, lack of paying internships discourages talent from certain fields, and there is a lack of negotiating symmetry on the part of students and employers. However, I do not think unpaid internships should be outlawed or eliminated. Non-profits should certainly continue to be allowed to offer them. Corporations and government should offer them to the extent they serve as classes or are in partnership with the university where the primary oversight and control is by a professor. Otherwise corporations and governments should be required to pay interns at least minimum wage.

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