Friday, December 20, 2013

LDB - Everywhere

Here comes drummer boy,
Here comes drummer boy,
Right down drummer boy lane...


O little town of drummer boy...

Pa rum pa pum pum,
Pa rum pa pum pum,
Pa rum pa pum pum all the way
Oh what fun it is to sing
With the little drummer boy.


Oh come all ye drummer boys,
Joyful and pa rum pa pum pum...


Hark, drummer boy,
Sweet drummer boy,
All seem to play,
pa rum pa pum pum...


And I was going to do "White Christmas", but... it comes off like a pedophile's song.  Try it in your head, it's really bad.  Consider it the one you just don't do.  Like when Tiny Toon Adventures didn't do Plucky in the Name Game.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Ride

So, it's not really news to most people that 30 Seconds to Mars is one of my favorite bands.  When I came across their music, their second album (A Beautiful Lie) was brand new.

When their third album came out, they pre-released a singles called "Kings and Queens" with a video.

Today that song came on my iPod as I was making my way towards the BART station.  It's a great song, and an even better song to ride to, if a bit tiring to keep up with the tempo.

Monday, December 16, 2013


So a few weeks ago, you all saw the picture of our finished Christmas tree.

I think that this Imy comic best describes how I feel.

We (meaning my family) has never had a store-type decorated tree.  Even when we had two front windows in Kentucky and the family room tree was colored lights and the living room tree was white lights, we just split the number of ornaments in half.  Yes, mom and dad ended up buying a bunch more ornaments, but the trees weren't made to look like a store display.

LDB - The Wonder and Beauty

So most of this weekend, except during the GURPS game on Saturday, my iPod was playing a randomized loop of every version I have of "The Little Drummer Boy."

Now, the song permeates me, and it is all I hear.  Soon everyone will feel this way.  It will become the new start-up sound for Windows.  It will play year-round over MUZAK systems.  It will be the anthem for the world.

Can't you hear it?  Don't you wish you could be listening to it right now?

Go on... Give in...  You know you want to.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LDB - The Truth

So, the other day I announced I was out of the LDB game.

But you know, since then I've listened to it now probably a dozen times, and it's really grown on me.

There are really some subtle nuances to the song, no matter who is singing it, that it takes several listens to really catch.

I urge everyone to take some time and listen to your favorite version of the song.  And if you're playing LDB, maybe this year, just stop, and enjoy the song.

Friday, December 06, 2013


I'm out.

Little Drummer Boy came on the satellite music Jennifer was listening to.


As you know, I recently got new tires for my bike.  What was bugging me was that even though my tires felt well inflated inside, a few blocks from home I got the familiar "slogging though sand" feel of flat tires.

So, let's talk science.

First off, here is the Ideal Gas Law defined.

Now for simple comparisons, the constants can be ignored, so you are left with PV/T; meaning, the ratio of  the product of the pressure and the volume to the temperature is constant.

So let's look at my bicycle tires.  The volume (the space inside the inner tube) is constant.  So when I take it outside and the temperature of the air inside drops, then the pressure has to drop as well.

Then I started to think about the differences during the year.  So in the winter, the tires are experiencing a drop in temperature of around 40 degrees (yes, I know that's Fahrenheit, so maybe 20 degrees Celsius).  In the summer to get the same effect, I'd have to be riding in 110 degree heat or more.  Fortunately it never got that hot in Walnut Creek this year.  At least not while I was riding.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


It almost seems that my past has been preparing me for riding my bike to work in all kinds of weather.

Several years ago, a friend had a Chrome bag.  I was fascinated by the seat belt buckle straps and clasp.  I believe I bought it for my birthday one year.  Now it is perfect for carrying things to and from work (it is a messenger bag after all).  And it's great on those rainy days being nearly waterproof.

Today I had to be prepared for the cold.  There was a 10 degree difference in temperature from Emeryville to Walnut Creek, and that 10 degrees was colder to the east.  I wore a long sleeve pullover, a thick hoodie, and a North Face rain jacket my parents gave me many years ago.  Now this is without the removable liner, which being a North Face liner, would bake me in my own juices while I sat on the BART train.  Today, it was perfect for blocking the wind.

Then there's this little scarf I have.  It was probably a hand-me-down from my dad who as provided me with many cool pieces of clothing through the years (not the least of which is a great red and paisley button up shirt that he thinks may be anywhere from 30 to 50 years old).  This scarf is black, synthetic, and very thin.  However, it is incredibly warm.  It's perfect for biking.

My gloves lately have been CLC hi-visibility work gloves that are bright orange with a reflective stripe as well as reflective finger tips.  They're not too thick, but have a padded grip, and keep my whole hand warm while also making me feel safer when I signal.

And finally some behind the head fleece earmuffs.

So, I promise, I'm keeping warm.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A Following Wind

So, last night I was awakened by the wind.  It had worked our window open from half a crank to nearly three cranks.  The breeze was a bit much, so I went ahead and closed the window completely.

This morning when I got up, it was still blowing, and I checked the weather to see what I'd be dealing with on my ride.

As it turns out 20 mph winds aren't so bad when they are predominantly a tailwind.  They're even better when you're going uphill.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Interior Decorating

So, yesterday Jennifer and I took down our Thanksgiving decorations, and brought our Christmas decorations out of storage.  We didn't get very far doing anything else lacking the motivation.

Today, we buckled down and decorated while watching football on NFL RedZone.

Felix was the first to discover the tree skirt.

Then we had the blinds open for the beautiful weather, and he found the storage boxes.

Then he left, and Oscar found them.

Keep in mind, cats are only semi-solids, and will flow slightly in direct sunlight.

Felix was frustrated by the packing material being in his sunlight.

And here is the completed tree.  The rest of house will be decorated this week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Away for the Holy Day

First off, I would like to declare myself participating in LBD (

I've been lucky so far, but I'll need to make sure it are it off of Jennifer's iPod so that it doesn't accidentally come up while I'm at home.  Last year Starbuck's got me, so we'll see how I do this year.

Today, Jennifer and I are on our way to the Harvest Festival in San Jose (  We're enjoying a nice Amtrak train ride south.

BTW, football sucked yesterday.  None of the teams we liked won; although, we do enough watching the Lions win.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


So, I've had my bike for almost three years now; we bought it right after I was laid off in 2011.

It's had some work performed on it over the years, not the least of which was the repairs after it was stolen.

We've found a local bike guy, so that we don't always have to go into the city for bike maintenance, and one thing he had pointed out was that the brakes on my bike were pretty cheap.  We think the brakes that had come originally with the bike had been switched out between theft and recovery.

We'd placed orders for parts, including brakes and tires since my rear tire was going bald, but hadn't gotten around to getting the work done.

Saturday things became a little more important as after an afternoon ride with Jennifer, I was coming back to the front door of our building, and with a snap, my front brake cable broke.  We made an appointment, and Sunday took a little ride to see if I could handle one brake.  It wasn't too bad, just forced me to keep extra stopping distance in mind.  And last night we got our work done on our bikes.

It turns out that Bike Man Dan has moved, and is just a couple blocks from the MacArthur BART station.  He needed a little time to work on both bikes, so we took a walk for dinner.  We were going to try Cafe Biere (nice site right?), but when we got there, the place was closed with an eviction notice and list of assets inside posted on the front door (yeah, I know I should have taken a picture).  Looking online today, it appears to have moved to Albany.

So we had dinner at Miyozen instead.  Jennifer ate small, and I had my new Miyozen favorite: the Flaming Dragon Roll.  This has a spicy tuna and tempura shrimp core with salmon on top with a bit of sauce.  They then wrap it loosely in aluminum foil, and put it on a plate with alcohol of some sort which they then set on fire.  The heat is not too high so the roll comes out slightly cooked, and incredibly tasty.

Afterwards, we walked back to Bike Man Dan's, got our bikes, and rode home.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pressure Equalization, Part 2

Yeah, so it looks like it's going to be one of THOSE days.

So not long after I posted, the previous post, I got a notification that BART was now back up and running.

So, I said goodbye to the cats again, got in my gear and rode to BART.

Now at work, and just a little bit winded.

Pressure Equalization

So... BART's shutdown.

Apparently it has something to do with a computer system problem.  At this point, I'm kind of wishing I had taken a picture fo the station.  The metal gates were almost closed, and people (including me) would walk up to them in confusion, getting slower and slower, then read the signs and walk away with a puzzled look on their face.

The wind was absolutely insane last night.  The gusts were so powerful that up on the top floor it felt like a series of magnitude 4 earthquakes.  thew cover was halfway blown off of my grill, and the empty, spare propane tank had been rolled around the patio.

On the way to BART this morning there were lots of empty garbage cans on their sides as well as broken  branches.  I saw one tree that was at least a foot and a half in diameter that had been snapped off just above the ground.  Luckily it fell towards the street and not the house it was in front of.

But, at least the predicted 30+ mph winds weren't blowing on my way to (and much slower return from) BART.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In the Village

So, I have three songs by the Village People on my iPod.

One is "YMCA", because it's "YMCA".

Another is "In the Navy", because it's also a fun song, and has good memories attached to it.  I remember more of the emotions associated with it, but they're happy and fun parts of childhood.

The last is "Go West".  I first heard this last one in the movie "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert".  It's jsut one of those songs that strikes all the right chords.

So today, on my ride home, I was just about to turn onto Alcatraz Avenue, and "Go West" came on.  That kind of thing just has to be acknowledged.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Smashed Tomatoes

Two weeks ago I sent a couple days in Lodi preparing for last week.

Last week was also spent in Lodi doing digging and drilling.

Jennifer and I took this weekend for some Us Time, and today I am back at work.

I had wondered if I might end up riding my bike in the rain, but the predicted storm hasn't hit land yet, and so it was just riding to work after a bit more than a one week lapse.

At least I can say that I didn't get overly sweaty, but it was a tough ride nonetheless.

Now I get to have a short week this week from having Monday off, and then next week is a nice three day work week.

In the intervening time since my last post, I have passed the halfway mark for the Discworld books.  I can feel the reading accelerating since at this point Pratchett has got his stride and characters set.  And now he begins exploring new characters while putting the main characters into the background.

Additionally, I've been reading the relevant pages from the Annotated Pratchett Files after I finish each book.  Most of the little bits I've already picked up from articles about the author, explanations from the quizbooks, and the occasional news article that ends up revealing the hidden secrets from which Pratchett pulled his ideas, but every now and then there is a note that just makes me smack my forehead.

Friday, November 01, 2013


So I had my first iPhone for two and a half years.  In that time I dropped it once.  I was bringing it out of my pocket, and it slipped out of my fingers.  I was in the kitchen at home, and for those that don't know, it's all hardwood floors downstairs.  I could see it all happening in slow motion.

And then it hit and landed on one of the two floor pads.  All was well, and I started to breathe again.

Then there are the things that are valued in the single digits and I can't seem to keep them whole.

I am on my third acrylic straw cup combination at work.  Drop them once and the join where the inside cup meets the outside cup just snaps.

I'm also on my second "coffee" mug at the office.

No idea where I was going with this originally, but I guess I'm just saying.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things Take a Turn

Last week, I had an errand to run on my way home from work.  I'd put it off all week because I didn't want to get back on my bike for an uphill ride after getting home.

So I did some Google Maps research, and found a way to hit the store after getting off at Rockridge instead of MacArthur.  And then the ride was mostly downhill.

So yesterday I did essentially the same ride without stopping at the store.  Jennifer and I think I made it home at just about the same time.

I looked at the distances and it's only two-tenths of a mile farther from Rockridge, and with the majority of it being downhill it's similar time.  All this because after Rockridge, the BART tracks and Highway 24 turn a bit south.

On a related note, I was paying a little more attention yesterday than Friday, and noticed that the Safeway at Claremont and College is gone.  There's just an empty lot ringed in fence.  I checked the website, and it's still listed, so I'm guessing that it's being renovated.  And it sure needed it.

Friday, October 11, 2013


So, next week, I'll be in Watsonville helping out with some regular sampling.  So I'll be there Monday through Wednesday.

And today I get to drive to Lodi to submit permits.

At least I'll be away from the Bay Area if BART decides to strike next week.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Yesterday (Friday), was supposed to be a day for getting work done on my tattoo.  However, it turned out that my artist was getting over being sick, and so he postponed that until today.

So yesterday I go the new iPhone 5S.  Now, I had waited for my contract to end, and then waited for the new version of the phone, so I had been using an iPhone 4 for over two and a half years.  I had already experimented with the new iOS 7, and had been very happy with it.  I was just ready for a faster phone, and the new features really interested me.  Plus the home button onthe 4 was about shot.

I love the speed onthe new phone, very much an improvement after so long, and the fingerprint reader is amazing.

So for those who know, you may be wondering, how do you get to Davis without a car?  Well, you take Amtrak.  Emeryville to Davis is not much more that and hour and a half, and is really a nice ride.  Home is about 10 minutes from the Emeryville station, and Primary Concepts in Davis is only 0.2 miles from the station on that end.

And, sad to say, I'm not done; however, seeing what the artist did today, I'm happy to take another session.  The colors are amazing and intense.  And it makes the black of space that much more 

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Bridge Kind Of Near

Yesterday when I got home, I changed into biking togs, and Jennifer and I biked out to the new span of the Oakland Bay Bridge.

Once we got to the gate we felt pretty good, but there was a growing wind as approached the bridge proper.  At the end of the land trail there is a steep incline that is reminiscent of the climb at Golden Gate Fields.  And then, you're on the bridge, and it is a constant 2% grade.  Even when you get to the suspension section, it doesn't really slope down.  We got to the end of the bike lane which is where the trail would almost intersect the old span.  According to signs and such, we will have to wait for the old span to be removed for the lane to be connected to Yerba Buena Island.  That isn't scheduled to happen until 2015, so we've got some time to wait.

It was a good time to rest and take some pictures.

Then we went downhill home.  That was an awesome payoff and we laughed, yahooed, and chortled the whole way to back to IKEA.

Of course, I forgot to run my tracker app, so I'll have to do it again, but after almost half an hour of riding to the end of the lane on the bridge, we seemed to get back to IKEA in 5 minutes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I am Disappoint

So Jennifer and I have been bummed from being sick and unable to ride our bikes across the new span of the Bay Bridge.  And tonight after dinner, we had a bit of energy and thought we'd do a little night jaunt to Yerba Buena and back.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

The weekend before Labor Day we had ridden the trail to a set of gates that allowed us to see the toll plaza, but go no further.  Tonight those same gates were closed again.  And taped to them was an 8.5x11 sheet of paper stating that the trail was closed at 6:00.

To this I ask, "Why the hell is the bridge closed to bikes at night?"

There are lights.  More than four of them, even.

I cannot determine why the bridge is so much less safe for bikes after dark, not even dark, but 6:00 PM, that the trail would be closed.

I'll certainly be making some phone calls tomorrow to find out why I can ride on any surface street 24 hours a day, but can't ride on a well lit bike and pedestrian trail after 6:00.


Earlier today, I was pointed to Phonebloks by two sites that I regularly visit.

Technically, I was referred to this video below:

I think the concept is incredible.  It's like legos and reminds me of my old PC tower.  I was gettign good for a while upgrading my PC.  This could really be a thing.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Failed Health Rolls

Many of my friends who read this may or may not know that my mom has a blog.

And last Thursday, mom was admitted to the hospital due to heart and blood pressure problems.

I just to go visit her today because Jennifer and I were sick last week and didn't really recover until Saturday night/Sunday morning.  I figured one of the last things I should do is go see mom in the hospital while I have a fever and a cough.  Really, the only time you should go to the hospital with a fever and a cough is because you have a fever and a cough.

We weren't that bad, just bad enough we felt we shouldn't subject others to our condition.

I saw her today though since I work about 10 minutes from the hospital, and she looks pretty good and is in good spirits.  Her only complaint (other than the whole heart thing and missing out on volunteering) is that the heart monitor will not allow her to shower, so her hair is a little flat after five days.

She's still not going to get to go home today, but hopefully she will soon.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Magma Illumination

I think one of the coolest gifts I ever got was a lava lamp.  And I didn't get it until I was in college.

Lava lamps were fascinating items when I was a kid.  Watching them in stores was amazing.  The easily surpassed those other kitschy items: the miniature Venus de Milo surrounded my what looked like rain falling.

I'm actually on my second lava lamp now (same color scheme yellow wax in blue liquid in a brass stand) because the original one stopped circulating no matter how I changed the light bulb.

And today I read this article.

Friends of mine have a huge collection of lava lamps and variations on the theme.  They have all different colors, plus glitter lamps that swirl.

It might be a night to turn on the lamp again.  It's been a while.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Elevators of Blood

So yesterday, I watched "Room 237" a documentary about symbolism and trickery in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining".

Most of the documentary was pretty good, but I realized that I had seen part of it on YouTube (the section on the architectural tricks).

Over all, it's an interesting film with guesses on it's hidden meaning.  But of course there's no way of knowing.  Is it a statement on the Jewish Holocaust?  Is it about the massacre of Native Americans throughout US history?

And then suddenly, I was taken out of he movie and angered.  One of the "experts" started going off on how there are hidden messages in the movie that Kubrick is using to tell everyone how he was the person behind the filming of the faked Apollo missions to the moon.

At that point I half tuned out because I was so pissed off.  The rest had some cool ideas like using the mirror imagery to show the film forward and backward projected on the same screen.

So, if you like the movie, I would recommend the documentary, but take some of the ideas with a grain of salt.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Bridging the Bay

Tonight about 10:30, I heard a helicopter hovering outside.

Yes, I know, of course it was hovering outside.  But anyway,

I looked out at the new Bay Bridge, and saw a fleet of police cars with lights flashing heading across the bridge towards Treasure Island.  And they were followed by a swarm of red taillights.  I watched with binoculars as they kept going, and I could only assume that the bridge was open.

Then a few minutes later, another fleet of police cars came the other direction followed by headlights.

It is certainly a sight to see.

On a lighter note, I also discovered that if you have a high enough powered telescope, you can see into my bedroom from the Hills Brothers sign in San Francisco.

Just an FYI.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fool Me Once...

So some people might remember this post about me getting on the wrong train at MacArthur.

This morning I was a little earlier, and was standing with my bike at my usual spot having noted that the next train (Concord was next) was a few minutes out.  I have my headphones on, and I'm reading, so I vaguely hear the sounds of a train coming, so I begin getting ready.

Then I not that the train is shorter than advertised, so I check the signs.  They say "Richmond".

I didn't get on, but I watched several people rush on and I wonder if they ended up going the wrong way for a few stops like I did that one time.

I do wonder though, why the train occasionally ends up on the wrong track.

Is it a switching issue?  Or is it just a little hiccup?

Either way, I was glad I had arrived 5 minutes prior.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Triskadekamania - The Conclusion

So "The World's End" was lots of fun.  I'm kind of glad I came across an interview with Simon Pegg, because I had some cool things to look for during the movie, but they might have been more fun to look for on a second viewing.

Afterwards, Jennifer and I wandered around Bay Street, and had lunch at the Elephant Bar.

Then we rode back home and did laundry.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


It was thirteen years ago today that Jennifer and I got married.

Today we've gone bicycling for breakfast, explored the extent of the new bike trail to the new Bay Bridge.  It's a little short of the toll plaza so far, but we're looking forward to the new trail.

Now we're waiting for Simon Pegg's new movie "The World's End".

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blood Song - Raven's Shadow

So today at lunch, I finished Anthony Ryan's Blood Song which is apparently the first book in a saga about the Raven's Shadow.

Jennifer always describes books that move her as movies.  She talks about dodging for the hero during a fight.  She talks about seeing the action like a movie while she's reading.  I can think of some that I've experienced that way, and now I have another.

As I read Blood Song, I could feel some of Ryan's influences.  The literary style of the story is reminiscent of the Kingkiller Saga by Patrick Rothfuss (also an amazing series).  There are elements that hark to the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.  And in the way that the occasional person talks, there is just a hint of Terry Pratchett.

Now that is not to say that it is a book that is just a mishmash of other people's work.  The action is fast and just carries you through.  I kept expecting the book to nearly be over because so much had happened.  And yet the story keeps going, carrying the tale and making you want more.

I am certainly looking forward to a sequel.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Perfect Apple

So those who know me know that I eat very little fruit.  I don't like berries, I can't handle citrus pulp, and feel the same way about the skin of an apple.  I will suck a lemon wedge dry though.

I discovered that I could eat apples when I peel them or cut into them and eat out to the skin.

Eating apples started to become a regular thing during my field courses during my undergraduate work.  We got to make our lunches, and one time I grabbed an apple (red delicious).  I had my Leatherman with me, and at lunch time I skinned it, and it was one of the best tasting things I had ever eaten.  Plus it gave me some needed sugar and water.  And as an added bonus, the pile of skin that I was smart enough to pile up away from where my team partners and I were eating gave the flies a place to gather and not bother us while we ate.

After returning to civilization, I would occasionally try to recreate the experience, but then I had to hunt for the right flavor and texture.  I wanted something slightly tart with a crisp texture.

After much experimentation, I found the braeburn apple.  It has become my go to, and yet still there is a surprising amount of variation from apple to apple depending on the color, the date, and their age.

Every now and then I get the perfect apple.  One that is crisp, moist, sweet with a hint of sour, and no hidden bruises.

But today, I read this article, and fear for my apples.

And you cannot imagine how difficult is was to type "apple" so many times.

Monday, August 12, 2013


So today is a day of split feelings.

I am glad that BART is running.  All thanks to the governor and judge who enacted a 60-day cooling off period for the union and management negotiations.

At the same time I am bummed, because I could have worked from home.  There's just something nice about working at a computer and having a purring cat on the desk with you.

But I guess that ius all delayed until sometime in October, unless of course negotiations get everything worked out before then.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

And the Words Just Keep on Coming...

So yesterday on BART, I suddenly came to the end of Bowl of Heaven by Larry Niven and Gregory Benford.

I say suddenly because as I read the last page there was a very clumsy segue from what the captain of the orbiting ship is thinking about the giant structure his crew has been exploring and a page telling me the title of the next book.

Now, it was no surprise at about two-thirds progress that the book wasn't going to resolve, but I expected some kind of stressful event at the end.  Some minor revelation that would engender some anticipation on the part of the reader.  Instead the last four chapters are perspectives from the two exploring ground crews, a perspective from the aliens, and then a brief chapter from the captain.

I've read almost everything Larry Niven has written including all of the Ringworld series, and Niven knows how to wrap up a story.  Even ones that you can anticipate as having sequels he wraps up the small threads leaving the big thread dangling, and usually will give a little cliffhanger.  I can only guess that this is Benford's writing style, since I've only read anthologies that he has been editor for.

So now I move on to some different things.  I've started Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat which has already been very fun and entertaining, and might last me through tonight.  It's fast and funny, but it's a comedian's book, so it's not very deep.  And if you haven't heard or seen his stand-up, you really need to.

After this book...  I'm just not sure.Perhaps I'll read Discworld again.  Pratchett has said that the 40th book of the Discworld series is coming out in October.  I could easily be through the other books and short-stories by then.  I might even have time to read the fourth installment of the Science of Discworld.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Book Reviews

So earlier this week, I completed Ted Kosmatka's Prophet of Bones.

This is a book I could see turned into a movie.  And it would work with or without the parallel world tenet that potassium-argon radioactive dating had been discredited.  And I say that it would make a good movie in that it read well and I could see the movie kind of action in my head, and yet it didn't seem like a novelization of a script.  I will certainly look for other works by Kosmatka.

The only thign that really bothered me was one possible villain who seems to disappear.  In the movie in my head, I was totally expecting him to jump out near the end.

In the intervening days, I have read Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington's The Goliath Stone.  And I tore through this one.  It read fast even for a Niven book.  I think it could have easily been twice as long.  The reader follows four people in various levels, and the story is fun, but I did find myself wishing for more story.  It moved fast and was fun, but I wished it could have had the intensity of Footfall or Lucifer's Hammer.

Now I'm on to Niven and Gregory Benford's Bowl of Heaven which already has overtones of Ringworld  and Rendezvous with Rama.  It does have a "thicker" feel to the story, but is still intriguing already.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Plague

So my friend John posted these two posts (1, 2) with regards to squirrels found to have the bubonic plague in southern California.

It reminded me of a story the CIH (certified industrial hygienist) at Kleinfelder told us of work he did on a base in Wyoming or Colorado.

Their health and safety briefing including a warning to avoid the prairie dogs in the area.  Apparently, prairie dogs are normally shy and keep their distance from humans.  Unfortunately, the prairie dogs on the base were infected with bubonic plague, and the sicker ones were lethargic, and unable to flee from curious humans.

Now, we all in the modern age know how the plague was spread, and that the fleas would leave the dead or dying body of the rats and jump to nearby humans.  A similar thing was happening to the prairie dogs, with the added bonus that the sick ones were too weak to run away from the humans.  Those humans who had not been warned would approach the prairie dogs and get within flea jumping range.

I think I'll just avoid all rodents for a while, thanks.

(And as I tag this post, I discover that I've already told this story...)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reading to Come

So last night I finished Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long War.  (Yes, yes, I know, some wars are longer than others...)

I enjoyed the concept in the first book (The Long Earth), and I appreciate the story this time, but each book has ended with a big event that seems to only be there to set up the next book.  I think this is probably more Baxter's influence than Pratchett's.  Terry always wraps things up neatly at the end.  (Perhaps it isn't just an American sensibility then...)  That's not saying I won't read the coming sequels, it's just that the end of the book kind of comes one or two commercial breaks before I think it should really end..

I my reading queue I've got two new collaborations by Larry Niven, and then I'm probably going to re-read Discworld before the new book come out.

But first I'm reading Prophet of Bones.  I heard about Ted Kosmatka's new book this iO9 article.  And I found the concept intriguing.

Now, I'm not the kind of guy that reads the credits of video games.  I don't even always know the names of the people in the bands that I like.  (Yes, I know there isn't really a Pink Floyd.)  But the Portal saga runs parallel to the SimCity series for my favorite computer games.  And so I thought I would have to try this one out.  I just started it this morning on BART, so I'll withhold judgement for a while.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Birthday Weekend

So it was a busy weekend.

Friday I worked from home doing an online course for my 8-Hour HAZWOPER refresher, and in between sections, I went into the city and had a dental exam.  It appears that the silver fillings were not done very well, so I was scheduled to get a new filling on one tooth for Monday and we'll keep an eye on another one.

Saturday, on the day, Jennifer took me shopping, ostensibly for a new outfit for the evening's celebration.

We went in to San Francisco Center, and started the day with gelato.  Then we went to David's Tea and got some loose leaf.  For clothes, we found a cool jacket and a shirt at Express, but the shirt didn't really go with the jacket.  So, we just trotted up to Nordstrom and just happened to hit their anniversary sale.  We got two really nice shirts, one that I ended up wearing and another that we ordered to get the correct size.  That one has these great royal blue stripes and crisscrosses.  I'll wear that one soon.

So we went back home, relaxed for a bit, and then put the outfit together with other pieces I already had.

And that night we went to Bourbon & Branch with two other couples.  We even got the upper room.  We started everyone off with the Laphroaig Project which is Laphroaig Whiskey, Chartreuse, and citrus.  TI has an amazing mix of flavors that blend and separate when you drink it.  Then we all just experimented with different mixed drinks.  Then because none of us had eaten since around lunch, we went to Nopa for a late night dinner.

Sunday, Jennifer and I rode out on our bikes and had donuts at Golden Gate Donuts, and then went to Piedmont Springs for a hot tub and sauna experience.  After that, it became a supplies shopping day, and we did runs from Target and Trader Joe's.

Yesterday, I got my new filling, and came in for work afterwards.

This weekend, we're looking forward to the Berkeley Kite Festival.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Be Cos, Be Cos, Be Cos, Be Cos, Be Cos....

I just read this, and I am so happy.

There's nothing up yet at Comedy Central, but this is exciting news.

I can remember my parents talking about getting to see Bill Cosby live at one of the Chevron conventions.  They even have a picture of them together.

My first exposure to Bill Cosby was through "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids".  It was a show right up there with Looney Tunes, and I loved watching it.  It wasn't until a few years later that some other Chevron kids introduced me to his stand-up.  They had to albums: "The Best of...", and "When I Was a Kid".  And when I learned about then, I listened to them whenever we were over at their house.

Then we moved to Kentucky, and the charity my parents were volunteering for had an auction.  I bought two things at that auction (live too, not silent).  I got a black, baseball mitt which I would use for a good 20 years and a promotional LP copy of "Bill Cosby: Himself".

That's when I stared looking around, and soon found out that some libraries had records you could check out.

So I began to grow my Cosby collection.  TDK SA90 all the way.

It was at this time that my physics class partner in my Maryland high school and I used to run whole routines back and forth during Physics lab.

As I worked my way back and around, I heard the evolution of the Cosby kids, and that Fat Albert's car with a Cessna airplane engine was originally attributed to someone else (whose name I am ashamed to say, I cannot remember right now).  Then there were the routines that I recognized as having been turned into Cosby Kids episodes (the Chicken Heart, the hernia, the game of buck-buck).

Not long after my parents saw and met Bill Cosby, his son Ennis was killed in a shooting.  I thought he would stop performing because it was obvious that while he loved his four daughters, Ennis had a special place in his heart for his son.  He did take some time off, but he returned and kept providing humor to all of us who have enjoyed his work for years.

I am certainly looking forward to November, and a new show.

Jumping for Joy

So my latest binge read was Steven Gould's Jumper series.

...Except for Griffin's Story which was written as a prequel for the movie.  That book sucked.

Jumper came out in 1992, and I was instantly a fan.  It is a book about a boy named Davy Rice who becomes able to teleport, and how it affects his life.  There are other events that follow that direct his development, and the book just gets better.  It's a 5-star book.

I wanted a book every year like some of the other authors I was reading at the time.  Jumper became one of those books that I would read every year.  And then when our GURPS group started a psionics campaign, I shaped my character around Davy.  My character even keeps a copy of Jumper in every home he has, and often has a copy on him as well.

The sequel Reflex came out 12 years later, and tells the story of Davy's wife Millie.  While it doesn't have quite the same fun behind it as Jumper did, it's still a really good book.

Then there was 4 years of silence, and then a tease with a short story called "Shade".

Last year, he wrote a third book called Impulse, the story of Davy and Millie's daughter Cent.  Yes there's teen angst to it, she's only 16, but there's also the continuing story of Davy and Millie doing their good deeds, tracking those who are hunting them, and dealing with their daughter.

Everything after Jumper is 4-star stuff.  That's probably my perspective because the first one caught my imagination so much, but that is not to say that 4 stars are bad, they just weren't as captivating as the first.

I can only hope that Gould writes more in the series.  Soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Haste Makes Waste

So, sometimes things go differently than what you expect.

At MacArthur BART (and most BART stations), it is stated on signs and therefore, predictable what train is on which track.  This morning I came up the stairs and there were two trains waiting at the platform.  On any normal day, from the stairs, Concord/Pittsburg/Bay Point trains are to the right, and Richmond trains are to the left.  The doors to the trains were open, so I rushed into the nearest car, and waited for the doors to close.

As the train took off, I started reading, but I noted that we got to a tunnel before stopping.  I thought I must have not been paying attention, and missed Rockridge.  Then the next station we stopped at was underground.  Neither Rockridge, not Orinda are underground.  Then right before the doors closed, I heard the voice of the operator say, "Richmond."

Damn, wrong train.

So, I got off at Berkeley, thankful that there was a new bike policy in place from July 1 allowing bikes in the commute direction, and rode back to MacArthur where I got on a Concord train, and ended up at work no earlier than I had been getting there.

Friday, July 05, 2013

8,500 Pages

So, Wednesday I finished Sandworms of Dune.

With the completion of the series, I read just about 8,500 pages.

There are probably other books that will come out that will be designed to fill in portions of the story, but the over-arcing tale is complete.

I have to admit that Brian and Kevin did a pretty good job of writing like Frank.  There are still bits of the story that I wish had gone better, but I am happy to have read the complete tale.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


So BART is on strike.  And being in negotiations with someone over buying my car, I didn't really have  way to get to Walnut Creek.  I explained my situation with my office manager, and he gave me permission to work from home.  At least this week.

So I've been working in my home office with my work computer.  I've reviewed boring logs, and have been working on reports.  Yesterday was so nice to sit with Jennifer and have lunch together.  And the weather has been so wonderful.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Biking Wife

So I get home yesterday, and Jennifer had a stack of things for me.

First was some things to help fight tinea which has come back with all the sweating from riding.  It has a lot to do with the backpack not allowing my back to breathe, but we're working on it.

Next to the that she had a pair of tire separators and an inner tube.

We actually did the repair behind the couch.  First off, I cannot stress the importance of latex/nitrile gloves for bike maintenance.  Otherwise, you end up with grease all over your hands.  These gloves were great.  We'd learned our lesson on Sunday.  We inflated, and everything seemed fine.

Thsi morining the tire was still tight, and the ride to BART and work went great.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Bike Woes

So Sunday, I had this great plan for getting to my parents.  I would bike to BART, ride to the station near them, and bike to their place.  I had it all worked out on the schedule and Google Maps.  All I needed to do was pump up my rear tire which was a little soft.

I attached the pump, and umped it up, then when I took it off, all the air leaked out.  All of it; the valve was limp.

So Jennifer and I did the Zipcar thing, and had a wonderful time with my parents at The Englander in San Leandro.  What made it feel even more authentic was the non-American football playing on the big screen.  The only non-English thing was that it was Mexico and Italy playing.  With lots of Mexico fans.  The food was good and the beer selection was amazing.  I told Jennifer we can got here for Monday Night Football in the fall.

So to make sure that I could get my bike fixed, we cut the visit a little short, and found a bike co-op just a block from home called Spokeland.  For just $5, they showed us how to replace the inner tube on my wheel, including how to take off the wheel off the back without losing the chain.  The only drawback was that they didn't have a tube in my size with a presta valve.  They found a used/patched one that they threw in for free, and so after a ride home, I thought I was all set.

However, this morning the wheel was totally flat.  So Jennifer is out looking or inner tubes for me today.  We're going to get to get a couple so that we'll have a spare available.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reel Steel

Yes, I went to see it tonight.

Yes, I enjoyed it.  The effects are cool.  I like Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.  Russell Crowe is an excellent Jor El.

No, that part didn't bother me; I can see how they can use that in the future.

What bothers me?  Kevin Costner.  He bugs the hell out of me.  And it's a stupid death.

Two things to watch for: the satellite and the captain.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So I've noticed that my blog has been a little light on pictures recently.  And what does the Internet need more of?  That's right...

Pictures of cats!

So this first one is Felix on the upstairs balcony.  He is our little black-body radiator, and works hard to maintain his requisite temperature.

Now, this is not to say that his brother Oscar doesn't like the sun; he just has a lower tolerance for the heat, and will tend to lay int he sun, then move to the shade, and back again.

We recently got a sampler box of one of our favorite breweries, and Oscar decided to see if he could fit.  The answer below.

 But back to my own little Basement Cat.  The other day I came home, and was greeted by Oscar, but Felix was not immediately found.  Then I saw the disturbed blinds, and went behind the love-seat to find this looking at me.

I'll try to be better at pictures.  Because Penny Arcade says it all about why pictures are better.

Wiggle Room

So Tuesday morning I had a little issue with my bike:  I noticed that the left side pedal was wiggling.

Now, I had experienced this issue before right after my bike got stolen.  The pedals had been removed, and when I got new ones installed, they got stripped, and one came came off.  I got a new pedal and gear set, and they've been great.  But this wiggle made me nervous.

So when I got to the office I raided the supply closet and found an allen wrench set, and tightened things up.

Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the pedal arm had come off the shaft somewhat, and so on my way back to BART at the end of the day, things just got worse.  soon I had about half an inch of play with the pedal shaft sliding back and forth through the frame.  I texted Jennifer from the train, and asked her to bring me my allen wrench set from home.  She met me at the BART station, and with just a little wiggling, the pedal arm came off.  I got it all back together, and everything seemed fine.

Then yesterday on my way home from BART, it all started again.  Apparently, I had not tightened the nuts down enough on Tuesday.  When I got home, I took the pedal arm off, loosed things up, slid it back on, and tightened things as hard as I could.

Then this morning, I got downstairs ready to get on my bike to ride to BART, and what do I notice?

I had put the left side pedal arm back at the same angle as the one on the right.  So I went back inside, and did some quick maintenance to get the pedals offset by 180 degrees like they are supped to be.

I have seem some of the recumbent bikes that have hand cranks instead of pedals (I don't know if they are for disabled riders, or just for using your arms), and the arms on them tend to be set at matching angles, so I guess it would be possible to ride a regular bike that way.  With toe clips.

I am now tempted to try that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Music of the Ages

So in re-reading the dune series, and especially Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune, I have had flashes of music either in my head, or older songs that have come up on my iPod that have taken me back to the 80s.  And then I began to think of the different kinds of music that have pretty much described different parts of my life.

Until I really started listening to my own music, I was surrounded by Oldies and Pop music.  Mom and dad would have one of those stations going in the car and in the background all of the time.  Oldies I especially came to associate with moving, and putting up wallpaper and painting.  Or scraping the ceiling of sprayed plaster.

The first really unique music I got into was Soundtracks, and that started with the "Star Wars" soundtrack.I played the LPs of the double album over and over on the turntable I had.  Over the years in California, I added "Superman, the Motion Picture," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "The Black Stallion" to the rotation.

When I moved back to Kentucky, I was starting to get interested in modern music, and so a lot of things in the background for me were MTV.  But when I think of playing games (especially the Ultima series) on the old Apple II+, I hear Genesis.  Almost always "That's All" or "Illegal Alien" because they were in heavy rotation.

Moving to Maryland, I was big on Dire Straits thanks to my friends from Kentucky.  Also there was a little of the new Invisible Touch album from Genesis.  But still a lot of MTV, and getting into The Alan Parsons Project.

Then for my Senior year of high school, Peter Gabriel, Huey Lewis, and Sting dominated the music.

College became a blend.  I still listened to soundtracks, but I had a seed that had been planted in early high school, and I made a personal discovery of Def Leppard.

After college, that blend continued, and now with my iPod, I have music from the Beatles to 30 Seconds to Mars.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Bicycling Atmosphere

So I've recently found a much easier route between home and the BART station.  In the mornings, it's less of an uphill climb for the last stretch of the ride, and in the afternoon, it's not so much of a wind tunnel like Horton is.  Plus it's nowhere near as busy as San Pablo.

What it does have is some interesting smells.

I hadn't noticed anything the past couple days beyond one cloud of cigarette smoke.

Today, I passed through 3, count 'em: 1 - 2 - 3, clouds of weed smoke.

At that early in the morning?

I've heard of "Wake and Bake", but don't people like that usually sleep in?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Reading Rainbow

So I took another break from the Dune series to catch up on some other reading, and to help build up some personal momentum for the end of the series.

Brandon Sanderson's completion of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (A Memory of Light) was masterfully done.  Sanderson brought back a lot of my excitement for the series that had dwindled with Jordan's dithering over the series.  I don't know if I'll ever do a straight through reading of this series, but I can say I appreciate the ending.

Then I caught up on my Magic Chick-Lit books with Kim Harrison (Ever After) and Patricia Briggs (Frost Burned).  They're both always fun modern-magic reads.

And then I've been enjoying some comic book compilations on the iPad.  They're all books that I have hard copies of, but are fun to be able to read in bed or at work without carrying the trade paperbacks around with me all of the time.

And just last night, I finished Frank Herbert's Heretics of Dune.  I think this book is what shaped my memory of Frank Herbert's writing style.  When I began reading the books after the movie came out, I had read very little science fiction.  Heretics is an ever accelerating book of action with some of the events left to your imagination, being mentioned only by character's thinking back to them.

At lunch today I started Chapterhouse Dune, and I can remember parts of what is to come that make me want to sit and just read all day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cut It Out

Tuesday, Mom posted some pet peeves of hers.

I would just like to say this:

I have encountered two men this week on their Bluetooth headsets: one at the urinal and one in a stall.  I know the one in stall had a headset because he was talking on it when we went in.

Now, I can understand that some work things are important, but no.

Just, no.

Life's Ups and Downs

So things have gone up and around and there are times you want to just throw up your hands and say, "What next?"

So about a month ago I had my first crown.

Then recently we found out that our cat Felix (the miniature black panther) has a heart murmur.  Apparently three out of every six beats.  Apparently that doesn't reduce like a fraction, because those were the doctor's words.  Mom was encouraging and reminded me that one of our dogs had a heart murmur and lived a healthy life for eight years or so after being diagnosed.  We're just going to continue to love Felix and keep our home peaceful and happy.

Mother's Day (yes, that far back) was a fun visit for brunch at my parents.  Dad cooked, and I provided tech support including introducing Mom to an RSS reader.

I have been continuing to get to work in the office, so I really can't complain about that.  Being back on an 8-hour workday is pretty nice.  And when almost everyone else is in the field it's pretty quiet in the office.  And when the more senior people don't come in until 10 or 11, then I've got 3 to 4 hours alone to really get stuff done without distraction.

And then Tuesday, when I parked my car, my driver's side window refused to roll up.

Now, about 3 years ago, I was coming home from a long day of drilling: early start and late end.  I was driving on a residential road in late twilight, when I saw what looked like newspaper blowing across the road in front of a car going the opposite direction.  And then suddenly that newspaper was a deer running in front of my car.  I managed to slow down, but still hit the deer kind of hard.  It ran off the rest of the way, but I've got a dent in the corner of the bumper, and some minor crumpling of the fender and door.

I guess it's good that the window kept working this long.  Now I get to find out how much to fix it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Universal Truth

I have a hair appointment this afternoon, it's time for a cut.

So what happens this morning?  My hair decides that it will go in all sorts of new directions.  Or when brushed smooth, it will shape itself into a pompadour.

You would not believe the amount of hairspray in place right now.  One more failed attempt and I would have had to wash it again.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The New Reality

So for the first time since it began in 2002, I did not participate in Free Comic Book Day.

I really hadn't kept up with the event.  There was some hype last week, but then suddenly on Saturday it seemed like every blog out there that I read was talking about FCBD.

I remained strong, and Jennifer and I went for a bike ride to Piedmont to check out a local bead store.  And for those not in the know, one of the best comic book stores in the SF Bay Area is located on Piedmont: Dr. Comics and Mr. Games.  And the route we took T-ed us right on Piedmont at the store.

I have to admit that at that point, I was tempted.  However, I remained strong.  There really wasn't any reason to go in.

And instead, after the bead shop, we hit a new burger restaurant called Sparky's.  And while we were there, we watched the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.  That had to be the wettest track I'm ever seen for the Derby.  Jennifer noted that all the horses were the same color by the end of the race.  At least from the front.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Miles to Go...

So it's been a while since the last post, so once again, we play catch-up.

Last week, I spent three days in Santa Cruz installing soil gas vapor wells around one of the buildings.  Then this week I spent three days sampling those new wells.

Then on Thursday, I got my first crown.  A month ago I had broken one of the tips on my second lower right bicuspid.  I had a filling there and the inner tip had chipped off from the filling when I bit into something.

So I took Thursday off for the crown.  Friday I ended up staying home because I had not slept well due to lingering pain from the work.

Today, after an amazing night's sleep, Jennifer and I went for a bicycle ride.  I suggested we try the Iron Horse Trail.  So we rode to MacArthur BART, and then got off at Walnut Creek BART.  We coasted downhill to the trail near Ygnacio Valley Road, and then rode all the way to the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station.  We took a nice ride back to West Oakland BART and rode home.  With a detour after missing a turn, we ended up doing 27 miles total today.  It was good to be back on the bike for so long.

Another bonus was a set of walkie-talkies that we bought.  It's really difficult sometimes for Jennifer and me to talk to each other when we're on our rides.  So we bought a set that had headphones and vox capabilities.      It was a great experience   We had to learn radio protocols and remember to wait to respond until the radio had completed transmitting, but it made the ride so much nicer.

Tomorrow, we will decide what to do next.

Monday, April 01, 2013


So I was going to say I'm watching my first reality show, but I'm not.

I watch "Mythbusters" which isn't quite a reality show, but it's not quite a completely normal show.  I've been watching it since the middle of its first season.  I came across it when I was stuck on the back side of the Sierra when I was working at the Marine Corps Mountain Winter Training Camp.  And I've been watching them ever since.

I watch "Undercover Boss" which is reminiscent to me of the Michael Moore "TV Nation" where he challenged different CEOs to do basic tasks.  He challenged the CEO of Phillip-Morris to roll a cigarette.  He challenged the CEO of GE to change a light bulb.  His only successful challenge was getting the CEO of Ford to change the oil in an Explorer.  Plus I loved the intro song.

I also watched "Miami Ink," "LA Ink," "NY Ink," and just "Inked" which was set in Las Vegas.  All of them were fun shows more for seeing the artists work and hearing the stories why people were getting what they got.  I also learned a lot about reasons for tattoo sizes and how things will change over time.  But the manufactured drama just got too be too much.

I've tried some of the other shows, and nothing has interested me.

But, as kind of a fun thing, I'm watching Penny Arcade's "Strip Search" reality show on YouTube.  It's a contest being run by the guys from "Penny Arcade" who will give the full support of their comic company to the winner of the competition.  And I'm finding out that I read several of the comics from the artists who are competing.

It's really a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Running in the Sand - UPDATED

So, I had a friend who has been tracking my progress through the Dune saga ask me, how many pages are there in the whole thing.

So I took some time at lunch to go find articles on the books and short-stories online and totaled what I found.

It turns out that it is essentially 8,500 pages.  And that's so far as Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are still writing interim books.

What I have left are 5 1/2 books and three short-stories.  And at this point, I am almost at exactly 67% completion.

So I doudble-checked my numbers on my spreadsheet, and I found a typo.

I'm at over 70%.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why Johnny Can’t Reader

I don’t know how many of my readers use Google Reader, but any that do I’m sure have by now seen the popup message telling us that it will be discontinued.  I asked a good friend who works at Google (he’s on the Chrome OS team, so he’s not always a good source of information for things aside of the browser itself) why they had discontinued Google Reader.  He said that use was on decline and that many people use Twitter, and he uses Google+.

Well, I don’t use Twitter that much.  I find it’s like being in a room surrounded by a bunch of people with no personal filters talking all the time.  I can’t track the conversations.

Then there’s Google+.  It’s just not the good stream of information that I want.  I like being able to pick through the section of material that I read.  Google+ is, once again, a stream of consciousness.

So, I began looking for an alternative.  Yes I've got a little over three months, but I want to have something I’m happy with when the transition deadline hits.

I read an article on Lifehacker and then an article on Gizmodo.  So after reading those, I have decided to throw my first lot to The Old Reader.  It has the ability to link with my Google account to sign in, and then I tried to import my data from Google Reader.  Yesterday, they were swamped with import requests, and had to disable the feature.  This morning, there was an option to upload an XML file from my Google files.
If you’re in need of transferring your data, give this a shot:
First do the suggested XML download from Google Reader.  This will come in a ZIP file that you'll need to extract to a folder.
Then go to Old Reader and using the import page, upload the XML file.
Right now, I got this message, "Thank you for uploading your OPML file. We will soon start importing your subscriptions, which might take up to several hours depending on the amount of feeds you have.
There are 22218 users in the import queue ahead of you."
Why it says OPML, I don't know, but the XML file is what I used for the import.
I say good luck to you.  While I’ve writing this, my number has dropped to 22217.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pea Soup

I got up this morning, and things looked foggy.  And then as I got ready, it just got thicker.

When it was thick enough that the lights of the office building two lots over were just a glowing blur, I decided it would be better to drive to work rather than bike to BART.

And then of course once I got to through the tunnel, it's all clear with the sun lighting up the sky behind Mt. Diablo.

I'll just have to exercise this afternoon.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"... Everything else is therefore your own problem."

So today for my third week back in the office, I rode my bike.

Man, it's dark.  Although, I will say that riding in the dark at Santa Cruz got me all kitted out for a ride through Oakland and Walnut Creek.

Riding on BART did make me think of working in San Francisco   I'm thinking of asking for a transfer to our newly opened office there.  I just prefer going that direction.  And then I wouldn't have such a long commute.  Apparently our office is in a building that you don't even have to go outside to get to from the BART station.

I think it sounds great.  Plus it can't hurt to ask.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

dooooooooooo -- BEEEEEEEEEP!

So, my phone is a geek detector.  Yesterday, in my second day at the office after 6 months in the field, it rang, and one of my coworkers laughed and said, "That is a cool ringtone."

Being who I am, I have personalized the sounds of the phone, and so each one is a little slice of geekdom.  Jennifer got to enjoying my sounds so much that she asked me to find a way to personalize her phone.  It was a little harder as she has an Droid, but hers are all various sounds from R2-D2 with her ringtone being the award ceremony music from the end of "Star Wars - A New Hope".  My ringtone is the "conversation" between the technician and the alien spaceship from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

It gets lots of good reactions.  Geeky phone techs love it when it rings.  A friend who has an apparently very geeky brother laughs and wants us to meet.

I'll have to test him on the rest of the sounds.

My incoming text sound is the wrist-com sound effect from "Babylon 5".  My missed call/voice-mail is the message waiting sound from "Babylon 5".  The rest are from the game "Portal" where I use button sounds for sending and receiving emails, and the bouncy sound for calendar reminders.

For "Portal" to be such a popular game, I'm surprised I don't get more comments on the sounds.

Still, when people do hear it, and look up with a start, I can look them in the eye and smile.

Gotcha, geek.

BTW, Mom and Dad, your ringtone is the Turret Serenade from "Portal 2".  Just because I like the sound of it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

WTF! - Shirts

I have two pairs of WTF jeans.  I've written about them once before.  Last year I got v2.0.  Below are pictures of the front and back of the two versions.

Today I got an email that WTF is doing shirts.  They're running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for it.

When i signed up they were at $500 of $4,000, so 1/8 of the way there.  I'm hopeful.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Joy Returns to the Bay Area

I got the news today that except for one task that is dependent on warm weather, we are done in Santa Cruz, and I will be back in the office on Monday.  We're letting one of the junior scientists stay on site for next week, and I will get to be home.

Allowing for the week I took of vacation this will have been 5 1/2 months working in Santa Cruz.

I'll probably be coming down for some other work in a month or so, but it shouldn't take longer than a week to perform.

YAY!  I'm coming home!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Outlet of Creativity

So when I made my decision to not buy any new comics, I was obviously left with a little void in my life.

Over Christmas, Jennifer and I talked a little over what I could do to fill that in.  Over a day's time, the time isn't that much; we though maybe half an hour's time.  So I thought to keep it in a similar vein, I should try to do something creative for that block of time.

Delineating that block of has been the next difficult step.  I've tried to write here more, but that hasn't been happening as much as I'd like.

A decided boost has been the fact that I've taken the reins of the fantasy role-playing game for the near future.  we're presently in one of my countries, and eventually we'll be on a sailing ship where despite everyone's fears, we'll be traveling to yet another of my countries.  Then assuming the world doesn't end (no really, if the heroes fail the world will end for "Evil Shall Be Unleashed."  Oops.), we'll take a quick jaunt to the island of the Sea Elves, and after finally after a short hop to the mainland  John will take over again.

So since the first weekend of January, little slices of my day have been taken up with everything that goes on in-between the adventures.  Exploring the city they are in.  Making plans.  Buying things.  And just playing some of the little motivational sides of the characters that come out so much better in writing than in person.

Some, but not all.

So I'm fielding and returning emails from up to four people.  I could be filling in information for a conversation with the NPCs where all of the player characters are present.  Or perhaps they have... split the party (that's an inside joke for a small group, and not very helpful to people like Mom.  Mom and family: go here and here.).  When they split up, that means, I've got multiple areas of a city, or keep, or an event to describe.

Additional outlets have been map making.  I've tried several times to use computer programs, but I'm never as happy with them as I am with my own pen and paper creations.  I like to use my geology knowledge to shape the coastlines (and yes it's true, fjords are not really equatorial enough.), and lately I'm been mapping cities.  What's been fun is to give each city it's own personality.

Try to imagine the organicness of some cities versus those that maybe were "planned".  Perhaps there are sweeping roads, or perhaps the city grew up around a keep.  Or maybe the city just has that fractal feeling where each block gets cut just a little smaller with an inverted shape of the larger streets.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

- a **CHOKE!** Addendum

So I guess the question is, "Why?"

I think it's that we all can relate to the relief when suddenly there are people in our corner.

We know what it's like when something drives a wedge between us and the person we care about most.

We want to think that if we could, we would help someone out who just needs that little boost to achieve something so much greater.

Monday, February 04, 2013


I will admit right from the start that I am a sucker for things that are meant to tug on my heart-strings.

Beat Superman to a pulp, and have him look up bloodied and beaten to lock eyes with Lois before he gets back to his feet, and I'll choke up.

Do anything to break the relationship between Lilo and Stitch, I'll probably tear up.

Have the common man stand up and take the side of the super-hero, helping him in some way be it big or small to get to his goal, and there will be a lump in my throat.

Even when I see it coming from half an hour into the movie and know the moment won't occur for another hour, it will still overwhelm me.

Of course, this is why I don't watch shows about dogs.  Benji (not my dog from school years, but the movie dog) is the only dog to live through his own movie.  Milo and Otis doesn't count; that's a buddy movie.

Obviously it doesn't matter whether or not it's live action or animation.  Apparently, I'm an easy mark for that sort of thing.

That said, I have to say that I enjoyed watching the new "Amazing Spider-Man".  I don't know if I could have handled the web-slinging and -swinging on the big screen.  The little I know of the Spider-Man mythos informed me beforehand how some things would turn out, but overall it was an entertaining evening to watch.

But who gets chocked up over a bunch of construction workers lining up a series of cranes?

Yeah... this guy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cinematic Connections

This past weekend, Jennifer and I were looking for something different to watch and came across the channel HDNet Movies.  It’s one of the few non-pay channels that doesn’t have commercials.

The movie that was on was Thoroughly Modern Millie, and semi-musical comedy set in the 1920s.  It was full of stars with Julie Andrews looking like she does and Mary Tyler Moore looking gorgeous as she does.  Carol Channing does her thing, and I actually recognized a song she sang from when my parents and we saw Carol Channing at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

One of the subplots behind the romance-seekign of Julie Andrews as the title character is a Chinese run white-slavery ring being run out of a hotel for single women.  The hotel manager and her two henchmen drug women with no family connections (basically those who won’t be missed) and ship them off to a brothel in a nearby Chinatown.

The mind-blowing thing for me was to find at the end of movie during the credits that the two men listed only as Oriental #1 and Oriental #2 were Jack Soo (best known as Nick Yemena from “Barney Miller”) and Pat Morita (who’s been in a TV show and a movie or two).  And we never recognized them during the entire 3-hour movie

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, yesterday, I took a woman on a picnic.

It was a brave endeavor as it had been raining every day since the rainy season began.  And as it turned out it would for almost every day through the month of February.  But January 25, 1998 turned out to be a beautiful sunny day with big fluffy clouds all around the San Francisco Bay Area.

I took her on a visual tour of the city.  On the way in, we stopped at Treasure Island to admire the view.  We also went around to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and up to Twin Peaks.  Then we headed down to Golden Gate Park and enjoyed what I had prepared: shrimp cocktails, pork tenderloin with rolls, and Grand Marnier chocolate mousse.  While we ate, we admired the tiny daisies growing in patches around the lawn of the park, and we were visited by a gopher who would stick its head out to watch us, and then hide when we looked at him.

After eating, we went to the Cannery, and walked around for a bit.  Then we headed back to my parents' house, with a stop at Treasure Island again to see the city all lit up for the night.

The next day, we watched the Super Bowl eating salmon with dill sauce, and before she left to go home, we had our first kiss.

Yesterday, we were in the city again, this time for a dentist appointment.  We parked in our usual spot behind Kennedy's, and walked hand in hand up Columbus to Washington Square Park.  Afterwards, we had a mid-afternoon meal at Burger Meister.  Then we drove home.

I still have a picture of that woman from that day on my desk at work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Violence Inherent in the System

Of the past five movies that I’ve been to see in the theatre, I expected three to be violent.

Yes, “The Hobbit” was violent, but that was CG fantasy stuff.

“Skyfall” while violent, was nowhere near as extreme as the first two.

“7 Psychopaths” was more violent than I expected, but it was placed more to be surprising.  The violence itself was not too extreme.

“Gangster Squad” was no nearly as violent as I anticipated, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The violence comes at the very beginning, and the rest is very typical movie style stuff: gunplay and fisticuffs.

“Django Unchained” was a gory splatter-fest that I almost couldn't handle.  But as many have said, it’s just too long.  The desire for it to be over just compounds with the length of the movie and the over-the-top violence.

But then what am I looking forward to seeing next?  “A Good Day to Die Hard”.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Little Things

Over the past few months, I've been trying to memorize the periodic table of the elements.

Yes, really.

It's not for any real reason, I just thought I'd pickup a personal challenge.  And it's certainly not been easy.

I've been working through it learning one lien at a time, and I've gotten stuck.

Now I'm good through Argon (18), that's three lines.  But to complete the next line I have to double the elements that I can recite.

So, I'm working on it, but we'll see.

I do have an urge to learn the etymologies of the element names now though.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Books I Read in 2012

So looking back at 2012, I apparently made some time to read.  I read 58 books in a year which makes me feel pretty good when I add it to the things I read online, not all of which are comics and jokes.

I did recently start the original Dune by Frank Herbert, and am presently halfway through.  I've been enjoying revisiting the whole arc of the Dune series, and was surprised at the writing style of Dune after not having read it for a couple decades.  I've been criticizing the prequels for jumping around in characters' heads from paragraph to paragraph, but Frank does it as much as his son and Kevin Anderson do.  SO I guess they are following his style more closely than I thought.

So last year, I read the following books:

A Blink of the Screen - Terry Pratchett - *****

BTW, this is post 1,000, so I've got that going for me as well.

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