Friday, December 31, 2004

A Stranger in a Strange Land


In spite of having lived in California for the past eight years, I've always thought of myself as a New Yorker who happens not to live in the state. That's not true anymore.

This last week was a great deal of fun, and I love getting to spend time with my family. But, the time I spent in the company of other New Yorkers felt alien. This was the first time I ever really noticed New Yorkers accents and customs. Since noticing a thing usually comes from a difference from expectations, and this is the first time I ever really noticed these sort of things, I think that in the last year I've 'gone native.'

Maybe it's just that I've grown up a lot in the last year (I thought that was supposed to be behind me by now) and that growing just reflects the nutrients in the environment. I actually am putting some stock into that one since it's in the last year that I think I've gone yuppie too. I've been enjoying the rations for a while now, but recently I've starting to enjoy the uniform too much.

Well 2005 is almost upon us, so let's see where it takes me.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Skiing


I love double 'i' words like skiing. I really should go to Hawaii at some point, just so I can type 'ii' a lot.

But anyway, today I went on the ski trip that I had been promissed last week before it started to rain. This week on the other hand was nice and cold and precipitationless. So we (Cherie, Dad and I) went to Camelback and hit the slopes. This is only my second time actually skiing (the first time being at the same place), so I was still a little trepidatious. And actually I was a little too cautious as my first time down the bunny slope as a warm up I fell.

But after a couple of warm ups I was ready for the top of the mountain (I know, I'm on the east coase and should say hill - whatever) and started running some greens. Of course after a couple of these I got bored and started pushing to do some blue runs.

Those were fun. And after I started I was hooked. It was good to know that I've got some general purpose balance skills, and that my legs are very good when I need them to be (I actually don't feel like I exercised them at all). I did take one tumble, and while it was technically on a blue run, it was on the flat section leading up to the downhill part. Other than that I remained upright the whole time. Yay!

Cherie did take a good tumble on one of the runs, and I had to do some work to avoid her. She actually ended up in a position where when Dad went past, he didn't realize it was his own daughter in the snow. But she got up with nothing hurt besides pride and continued right on skiing.

All in all we had a great time, and I'll be sorry to leave everyone here in N.Y. tomorrow, but I'll be happy to see everyone in Cali. I'm almost glad there's a 6 hours of plane ride in between to help reset the worlds. And I can't wait until I get dragged off to Tahoe this year. I think this may be just the kick in the ass I need to get my Jeep registered.


Keith's Life Now Comes With a Soundtrack


So I finally got around to beefing up my geek status by getting an ipod. You'ld think that with my time at nullsoft, I'ld have gotten one earlier. And actually after having played with it for a day, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't.

There are plenty of raves out there, so I won't go into all my favorite features of it, but rather say that I had a great time with it skiing today. It was so nice to have some music to listen to on the slopes (there's nothing quite like getting off the ski lift to Van Halen's Jump). Of course Cherie and Dad made fun of me for being less communicative than normal since I couldn't hear them. But on the other hand, I couldn't really hear their taunts either.

I'm so happy, and am very glad I purchased it before both my ski trip and my flight home.


Monday, December 27, 2004

For Mike

End Times


Could someone please exlpain to me what's going on in the world? We are in a time of tidal waves, meteors, and locusts. The only thing left is the anti-christ and we can have ourselves a little Armagedon.

Maybe it is time to invent the Digital Cash Line 16 (or DCLXVI). At least I know it would be a success ;)


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Snow!


And today it snowed. I'm so happy that I'm getting a chance to play in the snow out here, and even during Christmas vacation (even if it is the day after, I'm putting this down as a white Christmas). Actually it started snowing on the drive to lunch, and then really started coming down during the drive back. Thank goodness for Dad's driving skills and on-the-fly 4 wheel drive.

But when we got home, I found I couldn't wait for the sun to come back up before I went out to play, so I grabbed my dad's headlamp (didn't expect to need mine) and bundled up in by fleece and Gor-Tex and I went to build a snow man. I discovered that my clothes are very warm, and keep me exceptionally dry (which will be good for skiing this week). However the snow is also pretty dry, so it doesn't stick together to well. (Californian's who don't understand: Snow comes in two varietys, dry and wet. Wet snow is good for building because it's got a little water to re-freexe and hold shape. If the snow is too cold and dry it's just powder and doesn't stick)

So while there is now snow-man outside right now, there is what many forth grade science projecteers would recognize as a snow volcano. Maybe when the sun comes out tomorrow it'll be better for sculpting and I can really play.


Thank You, Santa


Well the last two days have flown past in a fury of torn wrapping paper and new toys. I've been very happy with what santa left under my tree, and everyone else seems happy with what I got them. It's amazing how the magic of Christmas still shines brightly, even if I have started to be able to fall asleep the night before.

And after yesterday at home, today we did the 'Bev & Wayne' extended lunch in Jersay. Not in Princeton this year, but after the grandma-started straw paper wars of the last few years, it might have been a good idea to change the venue a little. We hit up the Old Mill Inn, but with traffic on the Belt parkway we arrived a half hour late, and so the lunch far too short, and I barely had time to say hello and goodbye to everyone.

I really only get to see that part of the extended family once a year, so we rarely get past factual talk about what we did during the year. It's still nice to see them, and I know it means a lot to Jeanne that we all get together.

Of course now that the familial obligations are out of the way, it's time to fire up the H.B.C. and raise some hell. Apparently in Manhatten this year, but we'll have to see how it goes.


Friday, December 24, 2004

F$%^&ing Spyware


So I got roped into helping my dad set up his home wireless network. The thing is that he has no concern about leaving an open access point, and I've tried to convince him of the risks that such an action runs. He's started to get it, but I'm still working on him.

Anyway, I started futzing with David's laptop to play with it, and discovered that it was hopelessly infested with spyware, and completely unpatched. Well that took precedence, and I installed adware, contacted Microsoft update, and began to clean house. (The phrase 'David we really need to talk later about computer hygiene' was uttered at least a half dozen times) So after the first couple of security updates, and a pass with spyware removal, I rebooted. And when the system came up there was no longer any networking.

Now as I said, I was looking at securing the wireless network, so there were a whole host of issues that could have been wrong, and it took me hours before I got it down to realizing that XP just wasn't receiving any packets. Anywhere. Of course failing to connet with an actual wire in the back also leant some evidence to that theory.

So I figured I'ld remove the networking interfaces, reinstall them and go from there. Of course windows doesn't let me do that because it had some messed up network bridging in an impossible state. (Kinda like the sofa in the staircase from Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency). Anyway, another dozen reboots and I found the right keystroke to send me into safe mode. I removed the interfaces, rebooted, reset them, and still nothing.

During this I had been downloading SP2 on a separate computer, and was trying to work out the right way to move it to a machine that didn't network. With no CD-Rs, I wasn't looking to kindly on 200+ floppy transmissions.

But again google came to my rescue. With the right set of keywords ("windows xp 'not receiving packets') I found a thread in a forum somewhere informing me that some spyware took a scorched earth policy towards the TCP/IP stack and left the computer completely unusable. (For future reference you want to do a google search for "winsock tcp fix" if this ever happens to you).

That fix fit neatly on a 64M USB keyring drive lying around the house, and so now I am able to leave my brother's laptop alone in a pareto optimal state from when I found it.

I'm so glad I don't have to worry about spyware when I compile eveything from source.


Home for the Holidays


Well this has been a busy week. I've been doing some fun stuff at work and am gonna have to see if I can't get knoppix working at home to try and continue to play with it while I'm here. It sucks that I wasn't able to burn a CD while still in California, but my blank CD-Rs have apparently not been happy with the thermal changes they've been exposed to. Well I'm busy with family stuff through Monday when Best Buy will be open again to get a CD-R here. But they'll have some after-Christmas sales then, so I guess I need to go anyway.

And beyond work stuff, I've been wracking my mind to get Ishy cared for. I know that I really aught to be getting this dealt with long before I actually leave, but since I'm always able to get him properly cared for, I never the negative re-informcement I need. But regardless I owe Andrew, Lexi some whiskey, and Mike some tequila for their help. Thanks guys.

On the other hand, I flew back with all of my shopping done, so I was pretty far ahead of the game and didn't have to accompany Jaime or Cherie on their last minute runs to Riverhead. Of course this meant a buttload of baggage to deal with through security. And apparently they have no problems opening up electronics (like knifing the original packing tape) to do inspections. Good thing I didn't wrap anything pre-flight, but I learned that lesson two years ago.

And of course today was spent in a whole other hell that will get it's own post latter tonight. Until then, there's some corned beef with my name on it.

It's good to be home.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Ishy, get your ass out of my face


So last night was Jaime's last in California, so I brought Ishy up to visit her and Kate for some Mission burritos and Monster House. I'm glad that we got some more time to hang out just the two of us. There will be plenty of family time in the next week, and Jaime and I only got an hour or two together, but she has been one of the two greatest influences on my life for the last year. And I miss the time we had together while she shared my place in San Carlos.

But, in addition to spending some time with her, I went up to grab some stuff that she wasn't planning on bringing across the country. Like her CPU, motherboard and case. Now I have an excuse to install Gentoo at home and really start messing with the ebuild system. It's so cool to have compiled everything on your system from source yourself ... Whoops, I may have got a little geeky there. Sorry.

But anyway, back to the title. So because of the way parking works, I was a good distance from her apartment. And while I have carried a T.V. a quarter mile down the street before, that was Pasadena. I probably wouldn't have been harrassed by anyone, but I definetly would have looked more like a looter on 19th St.

So we decided to load up her rental car which was parked just outside her apartment with the stuff transfering ownership, and then drive to my car. Not really sure how that logic got worked out, but it seemed a good idea at the time. But then with the back crowded, I sat in the pasanger seat with Ishy, who was still excited at seeing 'Mommy', on my lap.

So needless to say he was up and standing, and I ended up with an unfortunate view .


Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Alter of Commercialism and Warm Pants


Well, I've been spending a lot of time shopping this weekend. With David around it was a good chance to get a second opinion on Christmas ideas. Though of course I'm still lacking in presents for him. We've been all over the place and I have 60-70% of my shopping done. Given that it's not December 23rd, I'm way ahead this year.

But, while I was out shopping for others, I did get something for myself. David pointed out some fleece lined jeans at one of the stores we visited, and mentioned how much he liked his flannel lined jeans. Well I ended up getting a pair (I figure I should have something warm to wear for skiing), and wore them today.

But they were a good purchase. Because they're so warm and soft, they've put a smile on my face in spite of hours spent navigating Christmas hordes today.


Time With Family


So I've now sent David off for home, and will follow him later this week. He's headed off into a snow storm, and is going to land a few hours late, so I hope all goes well.

It was so nice to get to spend the day with him yesterday. I got to take him climbing and he's definetly jealous of my finger strength. This is O.K. though since I'm jealous of his martial arts skills. I think it all works out.

And we got to go to Blowfish for sushi with Jaime. It was so much fun to hang out with both of them, and it really made me miss those moments. But Jaime seems to be doing well, and is really looking forward to her move to New York, so I think that things are working out for her.

Well it's only a few more days now before we're all together again.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

How was Customs, Dave?


My brother David just got into town. He's essentially got a 40 hour layover in San Francisco on his way back to N.Y. from Japan. It's so good to see him again, and he's got some wonderful tales of his semester abroad.

But to celebrate his return to this land of plenty, we wandered off to the San Francisco In-N-Out for some massive burgers. We'll go hit up some typically american sushi tomorrow so he can get an S.F. feel, but tonight was about beef. And it's good to finally go visit the chain at the wharf. And we managed to park right in front of the door. I've never had such luck before. But then again, I've never tried to park there at 10:30 before.

But he's looking really good. He's been keeping up his martial arts practice in Japan, so his arms have been building similarly to mine. Of course this means that he wants to challenge me to an arm wrestling match. Well, seems my time has been well spent as well since I'm still alpha male in those regards. It should be fun to see what he can do at the gym tomorrow.

And after the gym, we'll go do some Christmas shopping. Can you believe he's never seen Frys before?And there's some stuff I have to get in S.F. before I leave, so this weekend is the optimal time to go.


Friday, December 17, 2004

Etymological Duhs


I've come across two latin-root duh's in the last day. And by this I mean that I've seen two separate word pairs in a new light that I don't know if I'll every be able to unsee.

Universal and University - Well I suddenly like the word 'university' a whole lot more than I used to. A place to be exposed to a universe of knowledge and ideas.

Secretary and Secret - Kinda puts a new light on those secret-keepers.


Christmas Party


Wednesday night was the Topix.net Christmas party, and what a fun time it was. It was held in the Piccetti winery (which is a good thing we'll get back to later). Apparently the wine was quite good as Andrew felt the need to buy several bottles wholesale before he went home. And it was a bit of an adventure to get to the place since it's in the hills just ouside the valley. Turns out though the path is well marked, so as long as you know what you're looking for it's not too bad.

But anyway, I had a wonderful time chatting away with people. Several of whom I hadn't seen for quite some time, like the LiveOps crew. This guy that Tolles had told I would be a good ear for listening to his business idea (I haven't decided yet if I think this was intended solely to force me to talk to a new business contact at the party or not). And I got a chance to spend some time talking with a nice girl with whom I had been meaning to for a while. For all my concern about my social energy reserves, I seemed to make do pretty well.

Andrew and Lexi were kind enough to give me a ride home. Well Andrew gave me a ride, and Lexi passed out after drinking her and Andrew's wine quota, since he had to teach the next day and she had started drinking at a google outing earlier in the day.

This would be the good part of having the party at a winery, since it meant they were used to people leaving their cars there over night. And since I had left my car there, this meant that yesterday I got to sleep in late (since going to the gym would have been about as much work as I would have done at the gym) and take the train down to work.

On a side note, the San Antonio station has a neat underbridge to cross from one side of the tracks to the other. San Carlos has something similar a half mile down the road from its station, but the San Antonio stop is below road level, wheras in San Carlos the train is raised above the street. Anyway, it made me miss the days when I trained into S.F., and almost makes me wish that Caltrain wasn't more expensive than driving.

But Tom gave me a ride to get my car at lunch, and it was definitely a nice feeling to be independantly mobile again. Even if all I used it for was to drive home, I could have gone anywhere, and that's what was important.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Finally Figured it out!


As I went through security on my way to N.Y. for thanksgiving, I overheard someone whistling a tune. The tune wasn't sinsiter in itself. It was actually kind of charming. But it was connected rather deeply in my mind with something truely evil. And because I was in airport security at the time, I kept coming to the thought that it must have been from 12 Monkeys, but knew that wasn't right.

This tune proceeded to annoy the hell out of me for the time I was home, and it wasn't until a few days after I got back to California, that the song finally left my head and didn't come back.

It was weird though. Every time it got stuck in my head, there was a brief instant between when my mind swapped to the tune, and when the tune started where I felt like I almost knew where it was from. But then I would lose the feeling and the madness would ensue.

Well I guess it's been long enough, because I was listening to the radio this morning, and it came on, and as soon as it did I knew where I had heard it before. It was the damn Viper Assassin music from Kill Bill. At least that won't bug me any further now.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Keith Learns a New Word


And it turns out, it's not a word that probably anyone who knew me a year ago would really bet I'ld have learned. hypotension. I went to give blood this morning, and when you do so they take all your vitals, including blood pressure. Turns out that this morning mine was 106/60. Whoa. And I said as much when the tech wrote it down, so he ended up remeasuring it to make sure. It came out to be the same the second time as well.

Of course I figure that this is due to my good veins and not needing to use as much force to send the blood through my system. But it got me thinking that since all things are about balance (as the tech reminded me when I asked what a 'good' hemoglobin level was) that there should be an antithesis to hypertension.

Of course, if I had remembered the word 'hypertension', and had remembered some latin, I could have saved myself some google dead ends ("'blood pressure' 'standard deviation'" gives interresting results, but wasn't exactly what I was looking for). But on the other hand, I felt a sense of minor victory over the vastness of human knowledge when I eventually found the right term.

Oh, and while apparently the vein down the center of my left arm is harder to find than the one on my right arm (this tech almost took from a vein at the edge of the inside of my elbow. ) it still did a good job pumping it's blood. That same tech asked if I was trying to go for a record on donation time when the scale beeped so soon. :)


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tea Reviews


Well, I've been sitting down and re-reading the Dark Tower series. I always love the feeling when I get really into a book. It's been a while since the reading bug really hit me last (I've been reading too many technical books of late). So I've got to admit that it feels good to be at the point where you can't go to sleep at night until you finish the next chapter (or as is more often the case, the next three or four). Or where you just get a buzz from sitting in a comfortable seat with a blanket on and a light over your shoulder.

And a nice pot of tea to drink.

So with all this soothing caffination (what was Giles's response to "Coffee? I though you english types drank tea?" Something like "Tea is soothing and right now I want to be tense") I've finally gotten around to writing down some thoughts about the teas I've been drinking and put them up for all to ... well probably not admire ... but they'll be indexed by google soon and maybe I'll get a whole new class of weird traffic.

Anyway here are the reviews.

Of course after a post like this, I'm thinking I'm going to have to go hunt down some testosterone and howl with Ishy at the moon for a while...


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Update your RSS links


I've moved my blog to a slightly different URL (there were far too many /blog*.tpl files floating around so I moved them all to /blog/).

New RSS is at http://www.ginyu.com/blog/rss.tpl

I've got 302 redirects set up for now, but they will likely be removed in a few weeks. The o.c.d. part of me just needed to do some house cleaning today.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Busy Week


Sorry for the lack of updates, but it's been a busy week at work. I've been playing with some of the really fun parts of the system and so have gotten a little wrapped up in them.

So let me take a chance and make mention of last weekend.

Wizard People Dear Reader

There was a fundraiser for San Francisco's IndyFest on friday where they showed Wizard People Dear Reader. This is an alternate soundtrack for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, accompanying the orignal video. It was absolutely hilarious at points. Between the time when he went completely off the visual and talked about fluffy eating Hermione and then Harry resurecting her, to the line at the end of the quidditch match 'Behold I am the destroyer of worlds. I am Harry Fucking Potter'.

On the other hand this is one of the first times Jason has gotten me to come up and go to anything film festival related, and so I was definetly struck by the independant nature of the film. Where independant is a euphamism for extremely lacking in budget. It's a very different experience to see something put together by a few people for fun or art as opposed to a mass produced but further machined cinema. Just something to think about.

B.O.B.'ing

Regardless of the short term and possibly dubious nature of what it might stand for, it's perfectly clean. I helped move Wen on satuday and so got to refill my favorite roll as Beast Of Burden. Well mostly. I don't think I lived up to hobbes' tradition, but I definetly was getting props from the other guys towards the end of the move.

It was a bit sad to see him move from the insanely spacious loft he once had to the single bedroom apartment he moved into. On the other hand it appears that the roommate situation is far improved, so it probably nets a positive trade.

And finally...

Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra

Gen has decided to let her voice free again, and is singing with the Berkeley Community Chorus, so Lexi, Andrew and I went to go join Bryan and watch her sing. It was held in a beautiful (and acoustically amazing) church in Berkeley a couple of blocks from where they live, and it was a wonderful experience to hear them perform. You've still got a chance to see them a week from Sunday (12/19) if you want to listen to Gloria or Agnus Dei.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004

Website updates


Since it was the most requested feature (even before this weekend), I've now made it possible for people to actually sign up to comment on my blog. Don't know if anyone will or not, but there should now be a way for everyone to inform me that a moch turtle neck is half of a real one. (Thanks b.t.w).

Friday, December 03, 2004

L.L. Bean Catalog


Well, it's Christmas time and the catalogs are coming. The thing is I just got an L.L. Bean catalog, and I really don't know what I did to deserve it. I'm really not sure what I could have ordered that would have had it sent to me. I'm thinking actually that one of my friends or family who things I should be on Queer Eye signed me up for it.

But regardless of the reasons, I took the time to look through it, and I think I may be in trouble. Not only do I now know the what the difference between a v-neck and a crewneck are (well we'll see if that passes into long term memory), but as I look through the catalog, there's a whole bunch of stuff that I'm thinking "that's pretty nice, and not too costly".

The one thing I would like to know is, what is a mock turtleneck and how does it differ from the original?

It's definetly dark times for the part of my psyche that thought a 'bachelor pile' was a good idea.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

BAD DOG!


Well I got an hour less sleep last night than I'm used to because of Ishy, and came the closest I ever had to actually striking him.

Mike came over and we watched the West Wing almost live (which is usually how I refer to starting a program about 20 minutes after it starts so that we finish just as the live broadcast does) with Lexi and Andrew. Ishy was receiving some training on not jumping on people as he does in his excited state when others arrive, and was taking it fairly well.

But I think he resented not being able to sit on the couch with us while watching the show, or maybe I'm just giving him too much retaliatory credit. Anyway after everyone left, I starting futzing with some stuff in my bedroom, and Ishy walks in, jumps on my bed, and pees right where I sleep.

I lost my temper and houled at him, and he definetly got the message that it was a bad thing to do. I really hope that this lesson doesn't need to be taught again...

At least during the hour and a half of washing my only set of sheets I was able to do some re-organization of my house that I had been planning for a while and read a good chunk of my current book...I've missed reading...


Monday, November 29, 2004

Commercialism, Commence!


Well, I'm not a big fan of making Christmas lists for three reasons. 1. I dislike the immodest selfish attitude that is required to create the list. 2. I like to be surprised. And 3. well, a gift always means more when it's not asked for. However, in recent years I've come to learn that sometimes it's nice to have a jumping point to look at when you're trying to buy gifts for others, especially friends and family you don't see all that often. So here you go Cherie, a helpful list of things that I would be definetely happy to find under my Christmas tree. And for the rest of you reading this, just look at this as an opportunity to know who I am by what would spice up my life, and make it just a little happier.

Christmas List 2004

Oh, and of course I don't expect to get everything on my list. That way I ensure a surprise as to what I get, and what I go shopping for at the end of year sales.

P.S.

I moved it to a location out of the blog so that you can more easily ignore my materialistic urges, and so that I can update it at times.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

Mens Belt Fashions


O.K. - So I'm begining to understand the problems some people have with finding things on the web. When you have no idea what the exact right keyword is to put into google sometimes it's hard to find what you're looking for. So I'm going to put a question to all my loyal readers and see if I can't get an answer here.

I was watching SG-1 and I noticed that some of the male military folks where wearing their belts with the surplus material on their right (i.e. they wound their belts clockwise, starting at the buckle, about their bodies). Now this is what would be suggested by the orientation of text thats currenty on my mens Eddie Bauer belt. The thing is that I thought that the buckle faced the orientation of the flap of fabric over this zipper, which in turn was oriented differently for men and women. This would imply that the belt should be wound counter-clockwise about a man's waist.

Am I completely bonkers here, or is there a fashion rule for this. I've tried searching on 'men's belt orientation', permutations with 'direction', and even tried looking for general 'fashion tips'. If anyone know what the rule is, I would greatly appreciate it if you e-mailed it to me.

Mostly because having upside down text on my belt actually drags a bit on my conciousness during the day...I'm weird. I know.


Early Breakfast (Relatively)


This morning I got up at about 7. Probably remnants of Eastern Time still in my system. But there was a light drizzle this morning, and the sky was cloudy, so I figured I'ld go to the Depot Cafe for breakfast and enjoy my favorite avocado and cream cheese omelette (yeah, I'm Californian). When I got there I was the only person in the store. While I do feel a little bad for the people there (and I hope they have plenty of customers today), it was wonderful to sit with the whole place to myself, drink coffee and read the morning paper...

I am far too grown up. I think I need to go build a tree house, and spend some time with comics today...


Crossing the Country Twice in Four Days


I think my time on AOL business trips has affected my patience with air travel. going across the country twice in four days was not nearly as bad as I had always dreaded (though I didn't fly on the really big travel days). Armed with the Dark Tower series and a GBA I really wasn't even phased by the travel. I suppose I should also be thankful for a row to myself on the flight last night.

Black Friday in New York


Well sometimes the logic in my head is less than rational, and I figured that since I had to be in Brooklyn at 4:30 yesterday to get on a plane at J.F.K., why not spend the day after Thanksgiving in Manhatten? Well I had no particular plans other than to brave the crowds and spend time wondering at the concrete jungle, so I was very happy with the expedition.

There will be pictures soon (I need to do one more revision to my photo album code before I put up the next sets of pictures), but the four of us had a great time wandering around Midtown. We almost followed the path set out on the front page of New York Times' business section today (Lexi, I brought it in from the rain, you can have it back when you return). I didn't do any real shopping, but that's par for the course. I don't tend to do any Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve^2. Or at least until I get home for Christmas. And that's not entirely laziness after airport security almost made me unwrap a present one year.

But I did get the new Trans Siberean Orchestra CD and am listening to it as I type. And we saw the skaters at Rockefeller (it's so odd to see the tree unlit). And just had a good day walking around town.

Update

Enh, screw it. The code works, it doesn't need more 'improvements' now.

Pictures


And One More Note of Thanks


I included them with the loving friends in my previous post, but after getting home, they really need to be singled out. I really wany to thank my neighbors for looking after Ishy. Not only did they take care of him on only two days notice, and gave him a bath. I come home to find that my front door is fixed as well.

Maybe I'll look into renting Phil's place next door (different neighbor) which has a backyard for Ishy rather than moving to S.F. because I don't think I'm likely to find as good a set of people anywhere else.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Giving Thanks


As it's not quite midnight on the west coast yet, I still have a few hours to give thanks on this national holiday. So here are the things I am thankul for this year.
  • Loving family and friends (cliche, but still number 1)
  • The time that Jaime spent living with me. Spending that time with here helped to inspire me to improve myself in ways that I hadn't really put any effort into before. I'm leaner, stronger, and actually a little more outgoing and vocal than I was before she dragged me kicking and screaming into it
  • Ishy - he's family, but he should get special attention.
  • C.M. - he's also family, but if I single out one 'child', I intend to embarass all of them
  • Not understanding why people act out to get negative attention
  • The blessings that I got growing up in my small town. I spent too much time looking at the the bad and not enough at looking at the good.
  • Having enough to live comfortably
  • ...and finally, that it's now O.K. to start whistling Jingle Bells again

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Time at Home


It's fun to spend time with the family again. Even if Jaime and David weren't able to make it, it's still very good to see Mom, Dad and Cherie again and to just spend time with loved ones. Every so often I forget just how much I miss them.

But I've also had time to myself the last couple of days (with Dad at work and Mom going to her class), so I spent some time working on the site. Nothing should visibly be different, but there is now an rss feed for my blog (those of you using firefox should have a little icon allowing you to add it to your bookmarks, and everyone else well you should be using firefox but the link is http://www.ginyu.com/blogrss.tpl)

And I've redone the photo albums to work with the perl templating system, and have worked a bit on separating out the layout css from the color css. This was a feature asked for by burnszilla since he uses some of my album code for his moblog. Still not ready for him to use the updates, but it's getting close.

Oh, and since I've been forced to use a 1024x768 monitor for the first time since, well the last time I was home, I made the albums use an alternate layout to improve visibility on low-res displays.

Well the smell of pumpkin pie is reminding me that I need to go off and start cooking dinner. Dad wants to try my atkins lasagne for dinner tonight before he goes off-dient tomorrow. I promised him I would accompany him if he goes running with me to help work off the stuffing and potatoes.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Home for Thanksgiving


I'm off tonight on the red-eye to New York to spend thanksgiving with family on Long Island for the first time in almost 10 years. I'm really excited that I'm going to get to see everyone again, and am in a very festive sort of mood. I've wanted to start playing Christmas music for a week or two now, and I think that's because I feel the familial love coming.

I've only got 4 more days before it's OK to start listening to the Trans Siberian Orchestra again.


Winamp's Demise


A lot of people have written on both side of the 'winamp is dead' story. One thing I would like to point out is that winamp.com now displays an AOL Music banner.

Game over, man. Game over.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Women


The Good

It's been a while since a woman cursed my name. And it's in the same context now as it was the last time. I ended up lifting with Mel at the gym on Tuesday after Mike left to drop off a squink, so I was the drill instructor. I may have pushed her shoulders a little further than she was used to. Ah well, Amanda like to curse my name too. I take it as a matter of pride.

The Bad

Note to self: When a pretty girl invites you to go to a party, you say 'yes'.

The Ugly


Friday, November 19, 2004

Introspection


It's weird how the very week I ponder the banality of most conversation, I have two independant chats that help give me some insight. But as I keep count, most conversations that occur are pretty plebian - wow, I'm an elitist snob sometimes.

Anyway, the first conversation was with Andrew on monday. Talking about spending some time in the woods pondering life, we wandered off onto a tangent about the values of self introspection. Since we started wandering down religions pathways, we got back to our favorite discrepency on life which would be his dont-deny-self attitude against my almost puritanical view on the world. But he talked about all the actions that we perform that betray ourselves, and trying to identify and work around them. I always viewed my decisions as coming from two sources: The Id or Ego. You can't deny the urge to sleep, eat, and fuck, but that part is offset by the rational mind, which I always viewed as having the final say. Guess that's what comes from being paid to think rationally.

We'll get back to that thread in a second, but before I do, let's talk about the other conversation. I was talking with Mel and Mike about some behavior that teens exhibit. The relevant part of the converation was when I couldn't understand why teens act out specifically for negative attention. I've never really understood that psychology (btw - thanks mom and dad for that). But when it was explained to be in 'dog training' terms, i.e. a behavioralist view of direct consequence of actions reinforcing behavior, it started to make sense. Well that and the assumption of an absent parent which I still have to work hard to imagine.

I've been applying the 'dog training' mentality to thinking about how humans behave for a while now, and realize more and more that it controls a lot of how people behave.

How does this all lead to an epiphany? Well the thing is, as I went to sleep one night this week, the thought crossed my mind "what do I do simply because I have been trained to?", which then leads back to the idea of betraying oneself. And the answer crossed my mind easily. My social behavior. I think that it might be that a lot of what I interpret as fear may just be a trained response. I've never been able to quantify what I was afraid of in a lot of the cases where I avoided social situations, and if it comes from a nebulous fear of some past bad, well I think I need to get some positive feedback going.

It's not often that I have to revise my mental models of how parts of the world work, but I'm much more on the side of three forces in the brain than I was before. At the very least I hope I'll be on the outlook for trained behavior.


The U.S. Government has Identified me as Prime


At least my social security number is. I was reading Matt's blog (which I just found) and in it he mentions his was prime. After the first 4 quick tests, I figured it was worth running a rigorous analysis on mine. Apparently mine is prime as well.

The thing is that I think I've got him beat. The floor of the square root of my SSN is the zipcode for where I grew up. And it's not that far a rounding either.

Update

And no, that isn't enough information to uniquely identify me, so :P


Climbing Overload


Last night Pat came up for climbing (well he really came up for reasearch at SLAC, but he came over for climbing). It was a blast as we stayed at the gym for almost 3 hours and put in about 10 routes each. And what was really fun was I started to really push him on some of the routes. He and Mike have been definite markers for my progress and with Mike's shoulder hurting and Pat a little out of practice, I'm starting to make some serious strides to compete against them.

Driving is a Privelege


Well this should probably go down as a rant, so feel free to ignore it...

We need to do something about the quality of drivers that are out on the roads. It's been too long since I've driven out of state to even know anymore if it's a California drivers thing or not, but I've started to get really frustrated over the last week.

The thing is that there is a course of action to fix this problem. Driving is a privelege right? That's what they told me when they took my fingerprint and made me sign away my right to refuse a breathalizer to remind me that it wasn't exactly gestapo tactics. Now I want some returns on that. Let's make the driving test damn hard to pass. I want something that tests a wide birth of skills, in a variety of situations and hazards. I want a written test that isn't a joke of remembering stupid numbers from the manual. I want something that I would have to work hard at to pass.

The thing is, this will a) force people to become better drivers and b) will mean there will be fewer drivers on the road. I'm talking about full retroactive testing. That'll mean fewer deaths on the roads. Less property damage. Less wear and tear on the roads. And less dependence on foreign oil. And more biking, walking, etc.

Yeah I know there will be problems of the rich being able to afford the right classes to take and learn and the poor being in a lurch, but even now cars and gas are expensive and we're starting to head that way anyway. Let's make sure that those on the road know what they're doing.


Friday, November 05, 2004

Tire Trouble


Well the nail that has been in my tire for a while now finally finished it's job. This morning on the way to the gym my tire went completely flat, and I went and pulled off the road and changed to my spare (which I must remember to re-inflate if it hasn't already been done). And so I was left sitting on the side of the road operating the jack and planning out my morning.

I thought first of getting new tires at Costco. But of course they wouldn't be open to me (no business membership here) until 11 and I would at that point probably miss pizza for lunch. And I would also be disappointed with the whole not going to the gym in the morning part of that decision. I ran through my head a few of the local tire places and eventually came to a realization.

There web page with it.

Pictures are up as well over here

Oh and Ashley licked a banana slug. That girl is brave!


Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Bad Day Even Outside the U.S.


So my brother got into an accident in Japan yesterday. He was biking around and got hit by a car. He seams to be O.K. and is in the best hospital in Kyoto, so I'm hopeful everything will work out. But he has two cracked ribs and has received four sets of stitches.

But the thing that surprises me the most, is that the driver who struck him is hanging around and looking after him to make sure that he's all right. My brother even received a croissant or something for breakfast from this kind, if slightly in error, driver. I don't know if I've just lost most of my faith in humanity, or if I live in far too litigious a society, but I just don't expect that behavior from people anymore. Thank you random dude for helping me remember that there are good people in the world.

David - I know you'll be fine. Get better than tell me the story.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Only Thing Left to Decide


Is whether to start telecommuting from Canada or Mexico. I like the sun more than the snow, but universal health care is certainly tempting too. Or perhaps I'll just see if I can get the evidence I need for Irish citizenship. I just don't know if I can stay in the U.S. for the next four years.

And besides that, I must say I'm a little disappointed with Californians. We vote for state-funded embryonic stem cell research, but still force kids to serve 25 years for some simple drug possesion charges, and force all people accused of commiting a crime to give their DNA. I suppose we do the same thing for fingerprints, but I certainly don't want to be dragged off of a protest and have my DNA put on state records.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Day After Scotchtoberfest


I actually had a very full day planned for after scotchtoberfest, and ended up doing more than I had planned.

Kayaking

Well I actually made it out the door and to Sequoia high school to go kayaking at 8:30 the day after scotchtoberfest. And while it did take a lot of effort to deal with getting things ready and being around, I think I did mostly O.K. Those B-Vitamin supplements and 64oz of water did wonders to minimize the hangover.

So I was able to drive the squinkies up to Sausalito (they all wanted a ride in the mustang. It was so cute). And even go kayaking with them. Some of Mike's control issues are starting to rub off on me, because it definetly bothered me when the guides put me at the front of one of the kayaks with a squink in the back. I did not like losing control of the steering. On the other hand, after we turned around and started heading back, I was glad that I could just sort of sit there and quell my stomach through the waves at times.

But I made it safe and sound back to shore, and didn't need to stick my head off to the side of the boat. And I even managed to partake in the lunch we had upon our shore arrival.

Creol-La

And when I got back to San Carlos I found out that Bryan and Gen had stayed the day, and was invited off the the only Cajun place I know in the area (it's nice to find a place that will serve you alligator). So I got to go out with them to one of my favorite spots in San Carlos that I rarely get to go to.

After dinner they went off to see Ray, and I wandered off to my next destination.

Autumn's Reading Party

The theme was 'Raising the Dead', and I've always liked the Dabney style Halloween reading party. This one was not disappointing. I got to hear a bunch of new stories that were great. No one read 'The Raven' though I had brought a book of Poe and might have read it myself if I had had the time. But I did get to hear 'The Landlady' by Roald Dahl which I haven't heard in a long while, and very much enjoyed hearing again.

I pulled out a book Jason had leant me: The Zombie Survival Guide, and read a section on starting your offensive against the undead. It went over quite well, and I left just in time to make it to my final destination of the day.

The Hypnodrome

There's a troop of actors in San Francisco who put on Grand Guignol performances around Halloween time. (for those that don't know, Grand Guignol was a troop in Francs in the early 1900's that was know for putting on taboo plays. Both for sexual content and for the gore they portrayed). And this troop had a special performance for Midnight of Halloween that we had managed to get tickets for.

It was an amazing performance. Part of this comes from the fact that I so rarely get out to see 'legitimate theater' and that was a good experience in and of itself. But I was also impressed with the special effects that they were able to perform. In the event that you get a chance next year, I definetly recommend the experience.

So that was my day after Scotchtoberfest. Busy and full (right up until the clocks switched back and I got my extra hour to sleep), but also I think the best day-after-scotchtoberfest I've had so far.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Emotional Contagions


Scrubs this week had a bit about how a cheery attitude and a spring in your step can be contagious and can cause second and third order effects of happiness (i.e. people you effect, effect others). It's funny how the reverse is true as well.

While driving into work this morning, I was getting onto the freeway. I was in a rush to get up to speed, and ended up merging left and accelerating in a way that prevented the person who had been in front of me from doing the same. This appeared to annoy him since a few hunder yards later he approached me on my left and prevented me from merging into the far left lane.

That was fine by me as the second from the left lane was moving faster. Except that he cut in front of me and then swung back in the left lane two cars further.

The part of this that really impressed me was that the two cars he passed then went to some extreme lengths (and dangerous maneouvers) to geand malt definetly got me re-thinking lowlands and some of the 'good' (read non-peat) scotch flavors.

I remember as we approached the end of the first pass through the scotches that I was starting to get a little power trip and forcing the line to keep moving, and after I had sampled all of the scotches I went down to see the dogs (Steve had brought Sophie so she could play with Ishy. I'm so glad they could play). And wandered into the smoking circle wherein I smoked my cigar (and a bit of Andrew's - sorry I was too drunk to tell which was mine and which was his when I pulled them out)

Apparently that was the point where all the alcohol hit my bloodstream because that seems to be the last point I really remember, and the point that others noted a discontinuity in my behavior. I got embarrasingly drunk and passed out at sometime after midnight. There are certainly some interresting stories about how I behaved for that time period, most of which come from people I trust so I'll have to believe them, and there is enough photographic evidence to lend support to some.

My last memories of the night are passing out in my bed, and Sam coming in to shake me awake telling me there were 3 women upstairs who wanted to talk to me. I couldn't figure out why Lexi, Gen and someone else would want me to un-pass out, but in my state that was what I had gathered. Turns out my neighbor showed up with some friends who wanted to meet the host. Ah well. I was in no condition to entertain at that point. And when I saw my Cathy later that weekend, she apparently tried to shake me awake as well.

...

Then comes the next day, whering I felt like I had awoken into a whodunnit novel. I started to survey the area, and found clues of odd behavior all around that I had no idea the exact circumstances that had left them. But I had to get out and go kayaking so I left them for later.

Pictures


Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm not allowed to go to R.E.I. with Mike anymore


At least not until I'm ready to spend some real money again. But I now have the perfect over-clothes to go snow camping and skiing, so this should definetly be a fun winter. And looks like we're gonna go backpacking the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I'll get a chance to break in my new Gore-Tex soon.

Team America: World Police


After the pumpkin festival, Andew was feeling a little better so we took in Team America: World Police, the latest Stone/Parker movie. Wow, going in I had no idea how you could make an NC-17 marionette movie. Well now I see how with a few more minutes of footage it would have crossed that line (which I think will be interresting to see on the DVD). But it was absolutely hillarious, and held no punches. I think they did an excellent job of making sure everyone in the audience was offended at least once by something that was said.

Some thoughts:

  • America: Fuck Yeah!
  • I'm not sure where I come down on Wire-Fu where you're supposed to see the wires.
  • They needed to get a little more skill with the puppetry. They made fun of their own ignorance in a few points, but it still effected the end result.
  • Puppet porn and vomit...I didn't think I'ld get to see that outside of 'Meet the Feebles'
  • Only these guys could get away with labelling Samuel Jackson a F.A.G.
  • The speech at the end was one of the most brazenly offensive, yet poignent that I have ever heard.
  • When in doubt look to the humor and laugh. Remember they're just puppets.
And on a slightly unrelated note: the scene with Michael Moore shoving hot-dogs in his mouth helped me realize that it probably wasn't a good idea to watch 'Super-Size Me' and 'Farenheit 9/11' on the same day, because I'll tend to get those wires crossed.


Pumpkin Festival


Well, with Andrew out for the day, Lexi and I decide to hit up the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival. For future note: from San Carlos the 84 and the 92 take the same amount of time to get too and from the festival, but you're actually driving on the 84 and not stuck in traffic. I remember to bring my camera, but forget it in the car once we're parked. I got in a few camera photos of the faire, so it wasn't too bad.

And it was good to wander around a similar, but slightly different faire than the one in San Carlos. Many of the same vendors where there, but the food was definetly a little different. There were a few 'big meat' places: I got some BBQ beef ribs, and there was apparently someone selling turkey legs. But there were also arichoke hears, brussel sprouts and some salad places. It was definetly a little surreal to see a health-food consiousness at a festival like that, but also very cool to see some americans making 'good' food choices.

And the master pumpkin carver was incredible. He's inspired me to try to carve my pumpkin in a new and interresting (and probably completely unsuccessful) way. But if it works, it should definetly be a sight to behold. And if it doesn't...well I wanted to do a more classic carving on a second pumpkin anyway.


Andrew's Black-Out


So Andrew had the brilliant idea of going to Schroeder's for Oktoberfest this year. For those not familiar with the story (it pre-dates this blog), we went there two years ago, and after a pitcher of beer Andrew and Bryan decide that they want a big stein of beer. So they point the the big steins on the fireplace and say 'give me one of those'.

As it turns out those steins hold 5 liters of beer (we did the math, and I was a complete geek as I shouted in the bar 'you forgot to multiply by pi') and they gladly served us the beer. Bryan almost finished his. He probably would have too if he hadn't had a few beers before we got there. Andrew on the other hand was quite defeted at about 2/3rds of the way through.

So he felt that some revenge on the beer was in order. He only got to 3.5 liters again this year, but part of that is us Atkins folks needed something to drink too. We wandered across the street for some hard liquor, and Andew continued to imbibe.

We had some really good coversation (certainly by the looks of the pictures). But slowly over time Andrews positions became more eratic, confusing, and eventually a little, well, non-inclusive. It was slow going to see how the alcohol effected him, but he was getting real trashed.

At the point at which we head out he's leaning on Lexi for most of his support. So much so that the three of us get about a block before I realize we're not all going to make it the quarter mile to my car, and I leave Lexi to care for Andrew and her poor feet.

When I return Andew's passed out. Gone. Nothing left. So much so that the kind gentleman who asks if he can help actually believes that Andrew is dead and not passed out. Come to think of it, I had already check his pulse at that point. But with his help we get the dead weight into my car and head for home.

And when we get there, I have the brilliant idea of attempting to carry him inside the house. Well when we get him just outside my car it becomes obvious that we should have just left him to sleep it off. But it was too late at that point. Instead we get a 4x8 piece of wood that just happened to be lying in our backyard, roll him on it, and drag the board into the house. Of course there's a nail on the underside that drags in the concrete making an aweful ruckus for 2a.m. I was kinda surprised the cops didn't show up and ask us any questions about the body Lexi and I were dragging into the house.

But we get him inside (my place. No way he was going up those stairs) and leave him passed out on the board waiting for his liver to do the dirty work of cleaning that alcohol out of his system.

Apparently it was a 2 day hangover too. I really hope that's not a getting old thing. I don't want to have to deal with one of those.


I hate the smell of solder coming from my computer...


So I was all set to update my blog on Sunday (or at least I had convinced myself I was), when I had a critical failure on my home computer. I was busily typing away (well I was working on a way to sign up to comment on a post) when all of a sudden my computer just shuts down like the power blinked. I don't have a UPS so this isn't unheard of, but my monitors where still on and the L.E.D. on the front of my computer was still on.

I hit the reboot button. Nothing. I hit the power button. Nothing. I turned the power switch on the back of the computer. Nothing (including leaving the L.E.D. on). I yanked the cable out of the back of the computer. It took 3 seconds for the L.E.D. to go off. When I plugged it back in and tried to power up...Absolutely Nothing (off to never-never land...wait that's a different post).

At least it was obvious what the problem was, but I wasn't driving down to Fry's at that point, and I wasn't going to buy a power supply anywhere else, so I had to wait until today. But I got the new supply and installed it, and everything is back up and running without a hitch. I feel so useful that I solved a hardware problem :).


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Dumbass Kids


So while lifting at the gym today there where a bunch of dumbass kids putting themselves and us in danger. They obviously had no idea what they were doing and where trying to 'max out' (their words) on squats. Now ordinarily if someone wants to go to their extreme and see what they can do I'm fine with it, but these dumbasses had no control, where wavering the bar around (to the point at which the unsecured weights would nearly fall onto us while we were bench pressing, and had no form.

So after Mike got them to secure the weights to the bar (and get us out of harms way) was kept the corner of our eye on them waiting to see the Darwin Award moment. And it came. One of the kids actually got the bar on his back, buckled and folded in half with the bar resting on the final safetly catches (the idiot bars). Now none of his friends rushed to help him, and he could have caused a serious spinal injury in the process.

Unfortunately no great lesson was learned, as they then proceded to lift dumbells with comparably bad form. I feel old for saying this, but high school kids should not be left unsupervised lifting weights.


Thoughts on the final 2004 Presidential Debate


Well, there aren't many because like the one last friday we had some people over and Andrew made his might strong mojitos, so the event turned into a lot of generally loud Bush bashing.

But there were two things I did take notice of. The first being that all it was was an opportunity for the competitors to get to their talking points on national T.V. without spending any of their hard-raised funds. A lot of time was spend just giving short lip-service to the question on a segway to what they wanted to say.

And I still can't believe that Bush tauts 'no poorly educated child left in school' as an accomplishment. It's funny to watch him talk about it while I'm surrounded by teachers directly effected by the policy who know damn well the bullshit he spews when he says it's a good thing. Did you know that the law requires all schools to perform at the 60th percentile? Yes, everyone must perform above the median on standardized tests. WTF!

The other thing that I noticed was a vast change in attitudes that has occured in the last decade or so. Just before the much maligned decision to bring in Cheney's daughter, it occurred to me, that here we are listening to presidential candidates saying that homosexuality is not a choice (or at least that they're not sure about it from the guy who left sodomy laws on the books). This would never even have been considered to be said 10 years ago.

It definetly brings me hope that we are moving forward to a more tolerant (and educated) society. Maybe 'activist' judges are playing a more vital and healthy role than a first order consideration would lead us to believe.


Topix Snafu


So today we noticed a slight problem with our top story selector here at Topix.net. Apparently we had a story from The Onion classified as a 'Top Story', and as great as the story was to read, it might cause us a lot of hate mail to read tomorrow (People can be a fickle bunch).

Here's a saved version of the page so you can see what it looked like: topix cheney nafu


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Tuesdays


The only thing better than all-you-can-eat wings after a couple hours pumping iron at the gym is eating those wings while watching the Yankees kick some Red Sox ass. Much as I enjoy the rush of protein to build and heal my muscles, everything tastes better watching New York triumph over Boston.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Six Feet Under (Season 4)


We finally finished watching this last season of Six Feet Under at this Sunday's dinner. I definetly can see what my co-workers were saying about it at lunch a few months ago. They were mentioning how it had become very much like a soap opera, and fell back to rehashing it's strongest point (the gay couple) where it may or may not have been wise. And the soap opera effect was definetly enhanced by the complete lack of letting the opening death affect the Fisher's lives.

The thing is though, that it is still a pretty unique piece of television (well, maybe Dead Like Me comes close, but we haven't even started Season 2 of that yet -- so little time for T.V. nowadays). And I really like the art world thread that exists in it (no it's not just because I think the redhead is cute). There's a world there, and a collection of people that I feel like the writers probably get pretty close to true and that have a piece of life that I'm still working to get ahold of.

I think the weekest part of the season though was the violation of 'conservation of happiness' that had pervaded the previous seasons. Prior to this season, at the end of every episode you felt like happiness was neither created, nor destroyed, but mearly transferred from one character to another.

Without that, there were a few episodes that were definetly not the right ones to introduce people to the series.


Silent Hill


It may have only taken me a year from purchase to beating it, but I've now seen the Good (+) ending of the original Silent Hill for the PS1. Granted it only took about 6 hours of play time (which I restarted from scratch this weekend), but my plans to play some spooky video games for October seem to be at least progressing a little bit.

Now I need to see the UFO ending. Get the chainsaw. Shoot things with the laser gun, and then I'll be ready for Silent Hill 2. Then 3. Then 4 (if I can rent it for the XBox in time, otherwise I've got Fatal Frame and a few others).

It's definetely been trippy playing a PS1 game. We've come a long way in graphics in the last 5 years, and you don't often step back and look at it.


Beautiful Day


Today was absolutely gorgeous (I probably spelled that incorrectly because I was thinking of the Ithaca saying). The sun was bright and warm, and as I took Ishy for his morning walk we saw several Blue Jays, a pidgeon and a dray of squirrels (that's my vocab word for the day now). Granted they were all probably out because it was garbage day, but it was too nice a day to think of such things.

As a matter of fact, Ishy got to play with Matisse at the park this morning, so he got all runned out before I had to go to work. It turns out that they are starting the annual re-seeding of the park so I won't get a chance to see Matisse there any time soon. Maybe I'll go over to Burton park some morning to give Ishy a chance to play.

But back to the day. It was actually shorts, tevas and convertible weather like it hasn't been since mid-September. I may be missing out on the changing color of leaves in New England, but I think I'll do alright with a few more 'autumn' days like this.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

San Carlos Art & Wine Faire (Part II)


Went back again today for pictures, but no cowboy hat. Jaime wants to go to the pumpkin festival next weekend, so maybe then.

And Plantation was doing much better today, so hurrah for local java.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

San Carlos Art & Wine Faire


Well this weekend is the anual time for Laurel Street to load itself up with craft booths and fair food. And to allow some small bit of public intoxication (which this year I can't partake in - No beer for Keith). I wandered off for a breif introduction today (I'll go back tomorrow with my camera and try to come up with enough to say to put something up on sancarlosca.net, though from looking at it I think Rich may have that well in hand).

I didn't find a good celtic art booth (there were several people selling CDs though) so Cherie's Christmas shopping will have to wait. But the Sky hammock chairs were there as were a bunch of people selling cowboy hats. I kinda want to get one, but without Jaime to tell me which one I should get, I'm not sure I will (I've always trusted her sense of style). And I may yet find something to help decorate my living room, but art costs a lot.

And as far as food is concerned well, here's a piece of advice you might want to know. There are several places selling BBQ pork or chicken skewers. The one on Cherry St. sells them for $5 (2 for $8) and has a long line, while one block further away from Starbucks (I forget the street name) has the same thing with no line for $6. I think that it was worth th $1 not to stand in line in retrospect, but that might be rationalizing my impatience to see the whole fair.

And one thing that surprised me...I'm working through a hangover, so I went to Plantation Coffee for a latte to see if that would help cut the headache (and it seems to be working). This is where I usually go for coffee since it's one of the local non-Starbucks places and is right next to the best Taqueria in San Carlos. So anyway, what I'm getting at is that they know me there. And I talked a bit with the nice lady who made my latte, and she was saying that apparently the fair is reducing their customer count.

You'ld think with all sorts of extra people coming in from out of town, walking right past there would be a lot more traffic to the local shop. I did see a starbucks truck that was giving out 8oz cups of coffee though, so I bet that's why no one is going to Plantation. Yet another time Starbucks' money screws the local shops. And some people still don't understand why I refuse to go there.

Anyway, there will probably be more tomorrow. Certainly there will be an interresting story or two if I bring Ishy to town. There were a lot of other dogs out.


Hangovers vs. Social Recharge


For the second Saturday in a row, I have woken up nicely hung-over after an evening of drinking with friends (and consequently expending more social energy than I usually do). And for the second saturday in a row I'm really not looking to spend time with other people for a while. I'm kinda wondering whether it's a social recharging that I need to undergo, or if it's just that a headache makes me want to stay in my dark cave.

Last weekend I missed a BBQ with the neighbors (and consequently probably dropped my chances of having them show up for Scotchtoberfest, but at least they've been invited), and this weekend is the San Carlos Art & Wine Festival (more on that later). Ah well I'll go spend some time on the couch with Ishy and watch Farenheit 9/11.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Good Veins


So Stanford medical center had an add in the local paper this week that mentioned that they needed A+ blood (in addition to O+ and O- which are always in demand), and I was flattered that my blood would be in demand. I figured that A+ was a blood type that there wasn't much call for (as I expected an abundance of donors in the area).

So I made an appointment on-line for this morning and went to give blood. I must admit, I was a little trepidacious since the last time I gave blood I hadn't had anything for breakfast, and nearly feinted. I certainly wasn't going to let that happen today, so I made sure to drink plenty of water this morning.

But I got through the procedure no problem, and was pretty efficient. Apparently I have 'good veins', which means that they are large. And I learned that this can be enhanced with exercise, so I guess I was right in my thinking that with more time climbing I would develop arms more like Pat's.


Good Veins


So Stanford medical center had an add in the local paper this week that mentioned that they needed A+ blood (in addition to O+ and O- which are always in demand), and I was flattered that my blood would be in demand. I figured that A+ was a blood type that there wasn't much call for (as I expected an abundance of donors in the area).

So I made an appointment on-line for this morning and went to give blood. I must admit, I was a little trepidacious since the last time I gave blood I hadn't had anything for breakfast, and nearly feinted. I certainly wasn't going to let that happen today, so I made sure to drink plenty of water this morning.

But I got through the procedure no problem, and was pretty efficient. Apparently I have 'good veins', which means that they are large. And I learned that this can be enhanced with exercise, so I guess I was right in my thinking that with more time climbing I would develop arms more like Pat's.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Tech geek conversation at the park


I ran into Sheero and her owner at the park again tonight. It was a good opportunity to talk with him. He remember both my name and what I work on, but unfortunately I remembered nothing about him other than he worked on web stuff too.

Apparently he is either in a managerial or tech-lead role (and liked the opportunity to bounce some ideas off of me) and it gave me an interresting appreciation for a few things. The most important of these is the persepectives gained from working with less-than-stellar programmers. I've almost always worked with great coders. Through school I saw some amazing feats, and even at AOL my immediate group was awesome (hence why I work with them now). Then at winamp... well there are few people out there who don't respect that they are some of the best examples of cool coding on a Microsoft O.S. (Id and TeamNinja being, I think, the rest of the best)

But apparently there are bad coders out there :). And part of this guy's job is keeping their products as good as can be. Given that, I can all of a sudden see some of the reasoning behind the castration of the Java language (no operator overloading...give me a break). If you're trying to work with people who only think they are clever, you can't give them a chainsaw.

Anyway, apparently he likes to walk Sheero after 10p.m. so I think I may start taking Ishy to the park late.


Accents


Well Tea Girl has a pretty southern accent and seems to have gotten a similar impression from the vice-presidential debate as I did. That makes me feel better about my reaction to the candidate's exchanges.

Zeitgiest


I headed of to the city (notice the lowercase...) last night to go to Zeitgiest and hang out with some of the ex-winamp crowd. It was great to get a chance to talk to them again (even if it was brief), and to plug Scotchtoberfest. Every time I visit the city now (which is only once every couple of weeks) it makes me realize how much I wish I lived there (or at least wax nostalgic about when I was there daily). But that's an all-things-being-equal thing, and I like having only a 10 minute commute and good friends for neighbors.

And I'm proud of pulling at least one game of 8-ball straight out of my ass to victory when I ran the last 4 balls on the table.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Global Test


It was probably the worst moment of the debate. I was watching Kerry ramp up to it, and you could tell that he had wandered into a position where he needed a phrase, and one that his preparations hadn't previously thought through. The thing is, that even before he said it, I thought I knew where he was going, and I still think that my initial assessment was accurate. And it took a Bush supporter to help me with the wording that I was looking for.

As far as I'm concerned, the phrase 'Global Test' was meant to be used as an unscoped test (for those not familiar with programming, well that was a very geeky reference). He just meant that pre-emptive action had to meet the same criteria that our founding fathers required for their revolution. Certain in-alienable human rights that where being contradicted by the written laws of the land.

Of course I remember when I didn't actually watch the debates a when the question explicitly asked the candidates not to mention their running mates by name), but I expected more from an accomplished trial lawyer.

Since I feel I am armed with knowledge about Cheney's past, and connections to industry, I was able to parse a lot of what he said through that filter, but I thought he spoke very well, and did an excellent job staying within the format, and generally providing good debate.

I just worry/hope (it's weird the way those two feelings can intermingle) that some of my view comes from Edward's accent. I remember a story I heard about a college professor (and pretty well accomplished one), who came from the South. He was greatly respected...until he opened his mouth. As soon as people heard his accent, their perception of his I.Q. dropped 10 points. I worry that I'm pre-programmed with the same bigotry, but hope that maybe some southerners will have the opposite reaction.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Snootchy Bootchies


Just got back from the Jay and Silent Bob-aton. The midnight movie in Santa Cruz was actually all 5 Jay and Silent Bob movies in production order. So I spent 10 hours in the movie theater with a box of chocolate covered crack (well espresso beans) to keep me up. It was definetly a lot of fun, as between having all the movies in short term memory and having a crowd to help point them out, I saw a lot of the inter-movie connections I hadn't before. And man does the number 37 come up a lot after Clerks.

It's good to know I can still pull an all-nighter if I need to, and the 17 looks very different when the sun is out. Now I'm off to bed.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Amatuer Debate


Well, I'm pretty drunk right now, but I think that's the best time to write this. I've just spent the last hour or so debating abortion with several friends. It's amazing how we can all be pro-choice, and yet still have such varying views on the issue.

I think it's because I'm extraordinarily intoxiated that I say this, but I haven't thought about an issue like this in quite a while. I was forced to think in lines I hadn't before, and to actually work through several lines of logic I hadn't been exposed to in the past.

The majority of our argument came down to the implications in having the Supreme Court make the decision instead of the majority (and the pros and cons that such an affect has on a democracy), but a lot of personal beliefs surfaced in the debate.

I'm still trying to decide on how I feel about 'hippies'.


Anti-Bush vs. Pro-Kerry


Well, the first presidential debate was yesterday, so here are my primary thoughts...

For the most part I had been anti-Bush in the previous months. There are so many reasons to hate him that I won't go into them here. But I had only been slightly in favor of Kerry as president (of course I preferred him to Bush) over recent history.

Now the thing is that after the debate that has changed. While watching the debate I saw the president on the stage. And while he was answering questions, I wondered why he shared the stage with some someass from Texas.

For the first time I saw Kerry as a viable presidential candidate. His positions where clear and well educated. His resolve was firm, and his opponent was (for lack of a more P.C. term) a yokel. While Bush tried to explain the basics of the job as president, his opponent discussed actual foreign policy (and reasonably).

Of course neither candidate struck far from party hard-lines, or pre-written quips, but I saw a leadership in Kerry that Bush couldn't match. I really hope the undecided voters are still capable of inteligent thought.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Stupid Animaniacs...


Cherie got me thinking about the Animaniacs lately. We were just chatting and something spurred my brain to start thinking about Yakko, Wakko and Dot which I literally had not thought about in years (though Pinky and the Brain still come up occassionally). The thing was I got the little girl who says "why" all the time stuck in my brain. If you don't know how she talks, she just keeps asking you "why" until she becomes bored and ous ass on the routes Tuesday. There were a couple of routes that I made it through without falling that Mike didn't. Guess his fingers were strained from his booty call the night before.

Ishy's First Birthday


Ishy turns one year old today. At least in people years. I'll have to stop by Bow-Wow Meow and pick him up some cake after work today.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Coupling


I've been watching through the first three seasons of Coupling on DVD this weekend, and for a while was struck by how similar I was to Jeff. I have a lot of the same over-obsession and guilt that his character demonstrates, but I find that I get into less trouble simply because my default reaction when nervous is to shut up rather than over compensate with conversation. Don't know which is better really...

Climbing with Pat and Lexi


The three of us hit up the gym today. It was so sweet to do the three man rotation. It really gives your arms a chance to rest just about the right amount to really trash them by doing more routes. I got to nail a few routes I hadn't gotten a good run at before, and on the last route I did for the day, I made it through the overhang just fine, before I struggled with some small grips on the other side. It was so cool that my fingers and not my biceps where what were screaming in pain at the end of the day. Bouldering is definetely improving my technique and strength.

20/20 Hindsight


I hate it when I have to make a locally optimal, but globally suboptimal decision because of an error in judgement several moves back. Well that's at least how I word it when I play chess, though I suppose social settings deserve a slightly different vocabulary. Anyway I had two social engagements to attend on Saturday (I know, so busy for me), and I of course did what I could to try and attend both giving priority where I felt it was due...I hate couching my language so that I don't offend anyone...guess I'm a high self monitor...

I got to spend some time again with the Winamp gang, which is something I've sorely missed in the last few months. Not the work atmosphere of lay offs and despair of course (and it's only gotten worse since I left), but I haven't kept up with my friends there as much as I should. It was so good to wish Wen a happy birthday and to meet Songo outside of her and Denny's blogs, and just hang.

But I missed saying goodbye to Dr. Cyn. I'll have to drop her a line sometime this week to apologize properly, and wish her well at UNLV.

But I did get a chance to hear praise on my improving physique, and a pretty girl told me she liked the clean shaven look on me.


The First Fall Rain


So I was pleasantly awoken at 9:30a.m. this morning to the sounds of heavy rain (well for California anyway). And I know that it's not technically fall for another two days, but I grew up in a beach community so summer for me will always be Memorial Day through Labor Day, regardless of the astronomy. There's something about the fall rain in Northern California that makes me feel right at home. Every year when it starts I always think back on the start of elementary and high school and the preparations for halloween that would be there for the first few months. There's something about the way the rain falls here that just reminds me of home. Something I guess I never quite got in L.A. It's weird how you can feel so homesick and so at home at the same time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Changing Times...Creativity


You might have noticed that the picture of me has changed. Well as inspirational as the old picture was I finally gave into the peer pressure telling me to change. I didn't give in so far as to actually put in the morphing image to show the changes that have occured in the last 8 months, so I think you all should appreciate that.

Oh, and today I hit T-minus 40lbs. Next goal is T-minus 20kilos, both to keep my mind somewhat in the metric zone, and also because it maps closely to 45lbs. OK, so the first rationalization might be a load of crap, but I do wish I had a better instinct for metric.

Back to the photo...Another reason for it is that I had been getting some pressure to take some recent photos of myself. One of my greatest sources of artistic inspiration and guilt over creative inactivity pushed me to get some up to date photos of myself on line. I haven't made them all publicly available...(not for that reason you sicko, but you just lost your viewing privleges)... But it's amazing how much just a little bit of artistic expression can remind me of what I haven't been doing of late. Maybe I'll take some 26 things inspiration and run with it.

I also went and did one of those cutesy on-line personality tests atg quality for quanitity, but I don't thing there was that much quality here to begin with :)


Brand Spankin' New Backend


So I was going to update my blog more often...I say that so much, but maybe it will be true now. And here's why I hope it is: I've completely re-done the backend of my site. It should look pretty much the same (maybe a broken link here or there, I'm still working on everything), but the whole backend is a little easier to manage. Of course by this I mean that it's got another couple layers of abstraction, and is correspondingly a little slower. But that shouldn't be a problem since it's not like all that many people hit the site as it is.

So as for the backend, well I've got it all running on the perl template toolkit, which kicks so much ass. There's been a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I should learn php for a while now. Now there's no need to do that. I've got everything I could ask for from php, in addition to all the power I've come to rely on from perl. And if I ever do need to start worrying about performance issues I can just run everything through mod_perl. For now I'm not ready to do that much server hacking for my personal website, but some of the fun but useful domains I have might get that treatment at some point.

And how does this translate to (hopefully) more updates? Well I'm glad you asked. Now that I have a kick-ass architecture to work with, I've made it a lot easier to edit my blog. No more hand editing crufty html code for me. It's all done automagically. Now I think I may almost be motivated to put a couple of my other ideas into motion.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Flirting


And this one goes at the bottom, because I don't expect anyone to wade through this much unadulterated self-indulgence (and it's about to get worse) ...

There have been a couple of times in the last week where someone has flirted with me and I completely dropped the ball. It's weird how I can completely over-think, and over-analyze to the point of paralysis. Well O.K. that's not too weird - even in the general population. But it does make me wish sometimes that I could take life a little less serious.

Like, a long time ago (well at Caltech) I was having a conversation with one of the frosted flakes (I'm not really sure which, it was so long ago), and was talking about my inability to flirt. She mentioned that, of course I could, and she gave a specific example of someone with whom I was quite good at it. Problem was, that this other person was someone with whom I interacted with on a purely childish level. One might almost say a teddy bear level if a guy was capable of such a relationship :).

But seeing as how I was aware of the problem at the time, I should have probaby taken advantage of the frosted flakes, and gotten some advice on how to improve my skills. Now I sit waaaaaaay behind the curve, at a place where I'm in a catch-22. I need to aquire some serious experience, and yet I can't since it wouldn't be fair to waste anyone's time. I think I need a circle of friend-girls again.

On the other hand it's nice to not have heard "oh, you're not a guy. And I mean that in a nice way" in quite some time. :)


Boy Scouts and Jars of Food


And apparently I learned some useful skills in Boy Scouts after all. For example, when you're camping out (y'know with limited food) and are in a group, it's not okay to eat half the supply of peppers that are left out.

The more time I spend hanging out with Mike the more I appreciate my time in scouts, and the more I realize that I actually did learn some things from them.

It's weird how once you have certain pieces of knowledge (mostly things that in retrospect are pretty obvious), how you can forget that others don't have the same experience.


Climbing with Mike


Finally was able to drag Mike to the gym yesterday, and my whole upper body is yelling at me for doing so. After a re-introduction to 'Kuliga' time, we started climbing. I tried too hard on the first couple of routes, and so my poor fingers we barely hanging on the rest of the time climbing.

And then Mike had the brilliant idea of hitting the weights. It has been too long since I hit the weights too hard, and we did a nice tour of all the muscles above my solar plexus, so I'm pretty much dependant on the table to hold up my arms so that I can type this.

Actually with the cycling earlier in the day, I spend 3 hours at the gym yesterday. I don't think I've ever spend over 12% of a day in a gym before.


Hole Digging


And also this weekend, I made the mistake of getting really drunk Sunday night with Bryan and we decided we would go dig a hole on Monday morning for a luau (at an undetermined though early October date). Well monday morning came along and we were both too hungover to think better, so we started digging.

About 30 minutes (and Bryan yuke'ing twice) in we decided that we should probably put it on hold for a while, so I went and spend the hottest parts of the day in an air conditioned move theater watching Hero (very good. Pretty colors. Cool Kung-Fu). Then after the movie, Andrew, Bryan and I finished the hole and the worst of the physical labor of a luau is done.

Guess this means I need to find a pig somewhere.


A-Man and LR


I forgot to write about "A-man"s birthday party last weekend. He turned one year old, and so I went over to help be part of the mob that sang happy birthday and got to watch him hit an important milestone. His firtst birthday cake.

And I got to meet the infamous lrdole. Very eduactional experience. And a lot of fun to talk with a professional chemistry geek in person over some whiskey. College chemistry geeks are cool too, but the ones that have been working for years at a national lab just have a slightly different feel.


NPR Pledge Drive


Got on the exercise bike this week after a really long weekend and found that it was pledge time for the local NPR station (I don't actually know if they do all of them simultaneously). But in the continuing tradition of putting money where my mouth (or in this case ear) is, I went and made a donation to help them out.

Now if they could just stop bugging me in the mornings looking for money from others.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Peta, Vegans, and Atkins


Ok, so I've really got to thank vegans. They won't like it, but I've gotten some good advice from them recently.

First off, I had purchased a rabbit from the grocery store and was going to have to cut it up in order to prepare it. I have in the past been uneasy with fowl because you can still see the general shape of the animal when you have to carve it up for preparations. Though foul doesn't affect me at all since de-boning three birds for a turducken.

So anyway I was a little worried about cutting up a cute little bunny (who as it turned out still had a few organs left attached ready for eatings as well). But P.E.T.A.'s website helped me get over it. Now I'm not talking about one of the faux-peta (like People for Eating Tasty Animals), but rather the geurilla nut-jobs that give vegans a bad name. And they had put up a billboard with a fish hook through a dogs lip (computer generated) to try and discourage fishing.

As I was thinking about it, I realized I have no problems with catching and gutting a fish, so why worry about carving an already dead rabbit. And it's not like I don't have mammal blood on my hands already.

Anyway the other thing I wanted to thank vegans for is that they can find the best foods out there. They use them as reasons to be vegetarians, whereas I look at them as reasons to be a meat eater. I think this is part of the idea that if you go far enough to one extreme you end up at the other. Kinda like how the major scale with 5 flats is the same as the major scale with 7 sharps.

But anyway, here are a couple of good links for carnivourous food ideas:

And then, finally, I've ended up reading a lot of anti-atkins stuff while wander around vegan forums. Now I certainly can't fault the vegans for not liking the Atkins diet. It's very hard to do it without eating meat, and I think impossible without eating animal products. So my complaint here isn't about how vegans view the diet.

It comes from so-called researchers who don't bother to familiarize themselves with Atkins work before they go and puplish studies saying why it doesn't work. And I'm not just talking about how everyone seems to think fruit is 'bad' under Atkins. It's the first carbs that you put back in once you get past the point in the diet made so that even type-II diabetics would lose weight. So many people view induction as atkins, and that annoys me, but most people that talk about diets would freak if they came within 20 feet of real science.

But the researchers that do actual studies about the atkins approach and have obviously not read the published material really bother me, and make me worried about the sources of what I had previously thought to be well researched dietary data.

I saw a paper published that says that the reason people lose weight while doing atkins is that a high protein/fat diet is more filling and make people eat fewer calories. Duh. That's in the book. That's two of the three big reasons given for the low carb diet.

  • 1. Fat calories aren't absorbed as efficently as carb ones
  • 2. Stopping the sugar/insulin roller-coaster results in fewer food cravings
  • 3. Fat and protein are more filling.

I suppose I should be glad for scientific verification, but still, the original research is at least 20-30 years old now.


Caffiene Effects


And jumping back a few subjects...while in Chinatown I ended up spending far too much on tea. I got a nice tea pot not too long ago from Peet's, and have been trying out teas to see if I can get a good breadth of knowledge, and find out what I like and what I don't.

I must admit that it's a little depressing that I have such a high tolerance/addiction to caffiene that when I drink a pot of tea an hour before bed, it actually doesn't affect my sleep. I miss the days where that much caffiene could keep me up all night.


Off Leash Ticket


One night last week, I start taking Ishy for a walk, and the neighborhood dog grape vine lets me know that I shouldn't take him to the park right then. This is cool because I now know my neighbors well enough for conversation to occur, and for them to want to warn me.

Apparently there were a couple of dogs at the park down the street (one off leash, and a not so well trained pit bull on a leash) that got into a bit of a scuffle. The owner of the leashed dog got mad and called the police, who dutifully came down and wrote the owner of the off-leash dog a ticket.

Now I am fully of the opinion that if you break the law you do so at your own risk and need to deal with the consequences. When I let Ishy off the leash at that park, I realize that I could get a ticket for doing so. But I also can get a ticket for going 5 mph over the speed limit and I do that too.

What I don't like about this situation is that it was a dog owner that called the police. I could certainly understand a concerned parent, or even just someone who didn't trust or was afraid of dogs. But a dog owner doing it just feels like a dirty turncoat thing to do.