Almost as soon as I moved to San Francisco, I started volunteering with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). I was mostly folding t-shirts and stuffing envelopes after getting off of work from my night-shift job.

The EFF is a civil liberties organization that concentrates on the digital world. Think the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), but much more focused and much smaller. So, if you know me, you’ll know that this sounds like an organization that would appeal to me very much. It blends my passion for technology with my passion for politics and activism.

For a few months I also did some work with the EFF on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. However, after getting my current job with IS Logistics, I couldn’t volunteer very often as my job generally required my presence during business hours.

In the two years since then, I have remained friends with several of the EFF folks as well as helped out from time to time a the EFF booth at conferences like Macworld and Linuxworld.

And then one night a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a post on Twitter from the EFF feed, which I follow, that advertised for an opening in the Systems Administrator position. Being the opportunist that I am, I immediately jumped on it. I dusted off the ol’ resume, typed up a cover letter, ran both by about three people, and sent them on in. Two days later, I was in the office for an interview with six people.

About a week later, last Friday, I received in my inbox a technical challenge of sorts, where I was to complete two technical tasks and submit to EFF my work. The problems weren’t easy but they sure were fun. I hacked away and sent in my work, the quality of which I was confident in.

First thing on Monday morning, I was asked to come in for a second interview, which was today. I gladly obliged, and was offered the job at the end of today’s interview.

The culture at EFF is really great. You can almost feel the vibrations the geek vibe is so high. Everyone there cares deeply about civil liberties. From the good deal of time I have spent in the office, it seems to me that there is a lot of respect going around – everyone is trusted to get their job done, and they do. The EFF is highly respected in the geek community, even appearing on stickers on The IT Crowd. EFF is also popular on geek hangouts Slashdot and Boing Boing.

Some of the issues that the EFF deals with are things like protecting your privacy from illegal wiretapping by AT&T and the NSA, fighting for your rights to do with what you want with your electronics, such as the iPhone, and intellectual property, among many other issues.

By the time I get fully up to speed, I’ll be the only Systems Administrator at EFF. That means that all desktop, server, network, and phone issues will be my responsibility. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and I am looking forward to learning.

The EFF is located at 18th and Shotwell in San Francisco’s Mission district, which is noted for its large Latino population, not to mention the large amounts of tacquerias.

The new job is a little under two miles from home, which means it is about a 30-minute walk or maybe a fifteen-minute bike ride. I think I’ll ride my bike most days.

When asking during the first interview about opportunities for training and conferences, I was told that the credibility that comes along with working for the EFF may actually get me invitations to speak at conferences. I hope this day comes 🙂 Imagine an expenses-paid trip to go to Vegas for Defcon!

One more little perk is that I may get the opportunity to contribute to the EFF Deeplinks blog.

While I am excited to join the EFF, that is not to say I didn’t enjoy my current job. I wasn’t exactly looking for a new job. I learned a lot with IS Logistics and I worked with some great people.

As for my celebration tonight, I am taking it easy. I had a migraine last night, and while the pain is gone, my head is telling me not to aggravate things by having a couple of brewskies. So I’ll save it for another night.

Suffice it to say, I am ecstatic.

I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit lately. I’ve basically been busy as hell lately, and I suppose the blog has taken a back seat. So this post will be a rambling one bordering on stream of consciousness. So grab a cup of your favorite hot, cold or lukewarm beverage, get someone to rub your feet, and read on.

The fitness side of things has been going very well. It has been mostly bicycling (more on that soon!) but I have also been doing some calisthenics, push ups, basketball and pilates. However I guess I am drinking enough beer and soda to negate any exercise progress I am making. I am still holding steady at my (healthy) weight but I’ve still got that blasted belly fat. I think at some point I may abstain from alcohol for a month just for caloric reasons.

Now onto bicycling. I am surely becoming better at it. My legs are getting stronger and I am becoming more confident in riding. I let myself go faster down hills and don’t mind small bumps as much. I am actually surprised that I have not gotten a flat from some of the huge goddamn pot holes I have unintentionally gone over. I have also somehow managed to not pierce my tube on all the glass I have seen on the street. Also, yesterday I participated in my second Critical Mass. It is quite an empowering experience. After spending all month being a second-class citizen on the roads and being scared out of my wits several times by inattentive or malicious motorists, it is nice to have the bicyclists own the roads for a change. Yesterday I especially had fun stopping for a few seconds directly in front of some cars in a couple of intersections to let the mass go through. I did have to break off rather early, however, to meet some friends in the Sunset for dinner. On my way there I kept running into break-off massers. I am not sure what you call it, but I went through a group of bikers who were using an intersection as their own personal traffic circle, stopping traffic in all directions. Beautiful thing. After passing through that I had all four one-way lanes of Fell Street to myself. I love Critical Mass. I wish it were two times per month, every week, twice a week, every day. Maybe some day…

By the way, a quick “shout out” to my friend Peter’s excellent San Francisco bike blog.

School has been going well, although I probably need to start working harder at it. Last semester I worked too hard at school; I probably worked twice as hard as I needed to to actually get an ‘A’ and ended up with super duper A’s. Right now I am probably working hard enough for everything to be borderline A/B and I would really like to get straight A’s again. Unfortunately this semester there are no term papers like last semester where we get to pick our own topic. I really enjoyed writing my paper Anarchism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War last semester and I wish I had the opportunity to do something like that again. Unfortunately it is mostly book reviews, midterms, and one term paper on which our topic is rather narrow. School has been rather tiring, for sure. 11 out of my 12 weekly class hours are packed between Monday at 4pm and Wednesday at 10am. With bicycling to/from school most of the time I am pretty exhausted by the time I get out of work on Wednesday. But I keep on truckin’. I think I can wait until December and January for a decent vacation.

In December I will be going to Maryland for about a week. I’d like to be back in San Francisco for New Year’s Eve, and then I’ll be off to Hawaii to visit Kelly, Conor and Caleb. Hopefully Tim will be home by then. I’m very much looking forward to this vacation. But the real doozy will be next summer when I plan to go to Europe for a month, couch surfing as much as possible. I should probably get on getting that passport…

Talking about Couch Surfing, I have been hosting a LOT. The vast majority of the days I will have one or more (sometimes as many as four) couch surfers staying with me in my studio. I am taking a several day break from it right now but I really enjoy hosting people. I have met so many people and I’ve stopped counting how many I’ve hosted. Besides the obvious social benefits of it, I am looking at it from an anarchist perspective. It is essentially a gift economy; the apartment is theirs to stay in with no strings attached. They also get to avoid spending money at a hotel and I get the joy of knowing they kept money out of the hands of the big hotel owners. And to be selfish, I am racking up a huge list of people than can host me in the future!

To change gears here, work is also going well. We are trying to spin off a separate company. I won’t go into the details right now, but it’s involved setting aside a few weekend days to get some work done on our project that we are trying to launch. I don’t mind so much; the solitude while I work is nice and it is what I was looking for when I volunteered all of us to work on the weekends. The regular during-the-week stuff is going fine but I am looking forward to this new company getting launched and hopefully working in that line a lot more.

Now onto the “having fun” part of this post. As I posted before, I have recently launched a San Francisco drum and bass blog where I am keeping track of the different drum and bass events upcoming in the city, posting pictures and writing event reviews. I had a tremendous time last Sunday at Compression at The Cellar. I hope to go to more drum and bass events now that I am keeping track of all of them for the new blog.

A few fun things that are upcoming for me: Next weekend I am going to Monterrey for a night with a few friends for a birthday. I’ve been to Monterrey a few times but never spent the night. I think I won’t go to the aquarium again, even though it was great last time. I want to check out other parts of Monterrey, whatever they may be. The weekend after that I’ll be in LA visiting Alyssa. I haven’t been to LA for a while and I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

Now just some comments on our current political atmosphere. I become more and more turned off by mainstream politics every day. I am especially jaded by the Obama campaign. I can’t stand to see Obamamania going on here in San Francisco. If I had more time (how many times have I said this?) I’d challenge the Obamamania. I want to put up posters that say “Obama is a warmonger.” I want to make t-shirts to the same effect. I want to challenge the Obama street table volunteers to an impromptu debate.

What, you didn’t know that Obama was a warmonger? He has voted to fund the war in Iraq. The same war that has killed an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis, many more than you may know who have been killed directly by American soldiers. The same war that has made five million Iraqis flee their homes, internally and externally. Well, surely, you might think, Obama will change all of that when he takes office. Think again. He plans to keep thousands of troops in Iraq, including in the Green Zone, thus completely ignoring the will of the Iraqi people and destroying any hope of Iraqi sovereignty. Obama also seems to think the Iraqi people should be paying us money for our war that is essentially no more than mass murder. Should someone with this mentality be our president?

But it doesn’t stop with Iraq, of course. Obama’s effort to be “tough on terror” includes sending more troops to Afghanistan. Send them there for what? What are more troops going to do over there? It doesn’t take tens of thousands of troops to combat Al Qaeda, who are evidently holed up in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. I’ll tell you what more troops will accomplish however. They will, intentionally or not, murder more Afghan people, like the close to 100 that were killed a couple weeks ago by an American bomb. Is this who you want to be president?

This is the same man who thinks it is wise to leave “all options on the table” with regards to Iran. The same Iran that several years ago agreed to stop all nuclear activity if we would only promise to not attack them. We reprimanded the third party diplomat for delivering the message. Are we really going to consider bombing Iran, too? Or maybe we’ll just starve them out like Bill Clinton did to Iraq. 1 million dead Iraqis thank Clinton for that, and the rest of the Iraqis thank Clinton for making them more dependent on their dictator, making it extremely difficult to overthrow him. And this is who the San Francisco “liberals” are so excited about?

This is the same man that actually wants to increase the size of our military. Our military expenditures are already higher than the rest of the world combined. This is our idea of a presidential candidate that stands for peace, that wants to use diplomacy to settle our differences with the world? Diplomacy at the barrel of a gun, maybe. Change, my ass.

And just a bit on the economy here. I am actually kind of excited about the state of the economy. I think economic collapse would certainly be painful in many ways but it would also be a time of opportunity. An opportunity to make a change in our lives on an individual level and also an opportunity to replace what we have on a systemic level with something at least slightly better. We’ll see what happens, but my opinion is that the current bailout plan will make the decline of the American economy happen slowly rather than suddenly. Either way it’s going down the tubes.

Lastly, a quick comment on some stuff I am reading right now. I am reading Living My Life by Emma Goldman, an autobiography if the title didn’t give that away. An excellent book so far, talking about all of her travels, lectures, romance and more. I certainly like Emma Goldman much more than Lenin after reading his biography. Lenin was essentially a mass murdering elitist who did it all in the name of the working class. One thing I am getting out of all of this, however, is that I think I would admire someone much more for their actions rather than their words. Emma Goldman, until this point in the book at least (I think she’s about 30) has mostly done lecture tours. Anarchist lectures are generally meant to agitate the working class so they take action. Seems like a bit of a cop-out to me. But I still like Emma Goldman.

I also started reading a journal I subscribed to, Anarchist Studies. An article in the current issue discusses Leo Tolstoy’s Christian anarchism, which is something I had never heard of until now. There’s a lot about laws, slavery and non-violence in the article. I am skeptical of some of Tolstoy’s arguments, especially the one that declares that laws are slavery. I think the term slavery is cheapened when it is used so broadly like this. Having said this, I’d like to read some of Tolstoy’s books and articles that this journal article mentions.

Until next time, faithful readers…

The Tenderloin: The only place where I can wake up at 8:50am and still get to work at a decent time, showered and fed.

I am closing tickets like a &%^^$#*&#$ today. w00t.

It’s only Tuesday. It’s going to be a long week…Maybe it is just my speech that I have tonight for class that is making it seem long. Or maybe it is the remarkable speech that I saw on Sunday night.

More later. I’ve had a lot of stuff that needs to be written down, and not enough time to write it.

Friday was a good day, overall. I got to come into work late because I had to stay a couple hours late. Some super-easy after-hours network maintenance needed to be done. I got home at around 7:30 or 8 and chowed down on a store-bought rice, cheese, and bean burrito. Then my new buddy Alfonso gave me a ring, we went out and had a couple beers, shot a few games of pool, and called it a night. I came home, talked online and read for a bit, and hit the hay at 2am. I love not having a strict wakeup time on the weekends – it makes the previous night a lot more relaxed.

Well, so much for that. At 7am Saturday morning I got a call from work. “Union City is down.” That’s where the paper is printed. Three separate circuits went down at the same time, and the phones. Well…that is a little strange. I did the troubleshooting that I could, and chalked it up to a power outage. Not much else I can do, I thought, so I stopped working on it at 8am. Surfed the web for a little bit, and then right when I laid down in bed, my phone rings. “It’s not a power outage. Could you go into the San Francisco office?”

“Sure, I’ll be there in 45 minutes,” I said.

45 minutes later, I rolled into the office. We managed to find a spare T1 that wasn’t being used, patched it in, and at least now the paper could get printed. After sticking around for a bit longer to make sure there wasn’t anything else I could do, I headed out.

Come Monday morning, I found out that our circuits, which were running over fiber optic, were cut. By copper thieves. After cutting our stuff, they realized it wasn’t copper, went across the street, and cut someone else’s copper.

DAMN that pissed me off. It would be one thing if it was some equipment failure at the telco, but someone scaling the phone pole and actually cutting the fiber? That’s crazy.

At least I get Friday off this week for this and other weekend work. Should be a nice break.

At work, we have been messing with iSCSI and VMWare server. When you combine the two…things get really interesting.

Basically, using Openfiler, we connected a behemoth of a server with loads of hard drives to the network in the basement, and connected a machine running VMWare server to the network on the second floor. We were then able to connect to the drives in the basement and use them, even as the root partition for the guest OS, like they were connected directly to the machine with a SCSI cable. Cool stuff.

I might just have to use iSCSI at home. I am thinking three machines: my desktop, a Linux machine running VMWare server, and a machine running Openfiler. I could use Openfiler as one big backup partition for my desktop and use it to mount all partitions for the VMWare server.

Of course…I already have three computers running 24/7, so there won’t be any consolidation anyway. Ah well, the geek in me (and since I am all geek, the me in me) has to always scheme of a prettier way of doing things.

I am really liking my new job, for a few reasons:
1) I have a lot of responsibility. If I do something wrong, a lot of people aren’t going to be able to get their work done.
2) Unlike system administration and technical support, I don’t spend most of my time fixing problems. I spend most of my time preventing future problems.
3) I don’t surf the web at work. There is always something to do.

I put in a fourteen-hour day yesterday. It didn’t seem like a fourteen hour day at all.

From 10am until 6pm I was mostly doing research and the such and getting my cube in order. I also got a working badge to access the building. I have a working sfchronicle email address. I like feeling more official, rather than just like the “new guy.” Now I just have to get my smart phone, which should be coming soon, with a 415 area code even (which will make me feel less like a new guy to the city, with my 443 area code and all).

From about 6pm to 12am we had to reassign IP addresses on tons of printers. We were talking IP addresses, ARP, DNS, and servers. My opinion mattered and I was respected. It was great.

Now tomorrow I am off to Hawaii until the 22nd with Alyssa’s family. Yipee!

Today I officially got a job with I.S. Logistics, a small company that does work for large companies. I will be working at the San Francisco Chronicle as a network engineer.

So very happy. This is the job I studied for.