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


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


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 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

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.


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


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...