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.


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.


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


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

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 now displays an AOL Music banner.

Game over, man. Game over.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


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


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.


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.


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.


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.