The Major

Yearning for a Life

I yearn for a life of my own. My current weekdays are filled with taking care of the family and working. I get maybe an hour to myself at night.

I do go out with my friends once or twice per month for games, and I cherish that time. I feel some guilt about it though, because when I go out, my son is literally screaming, crying, hitting himself, and destroying things for most of the time (a few hours) that I am out.

Recently, my wife told me to not feel guilty about going out for game nights, or for my yearly work trip to Las Vegas. Despite all the chaos at home when I am gone, it gives them an opportunity to grow emotionally together. It does seem like a very painful way to grow emotionally, I’ll have to say. But her telling me that has eliminated most of my guilt about going out.

I crave more hobbies, though. I’d love to join an adult basketball league. Or start a progressive futurist meetup. Or learn artificial intelligence and math. Or exercise more. It’s possible that I’ll one day be able to pursue some of these things. But for now I’m limited. Although I feel some freedom from my wife’s reassurances recently, I still couldn’t be care-free with how I might spend my time, because it comes at a high cost to the family.

When my kids, and especially my son, are older, then I will be able to pursue my own interests more. The big question is: will that age be 10? 12? 21? I really don’t know.

I’m mostly at peace with this, even though I do crave personal freedom. I know I’m at peace with it, because I want more kids. If it was such a terrible situation, I would just say, “I’m DONE!”

But I guess I live to be a father. I love being able to bring my son some comfort when he is in such pain. Even though I bristle at the loss of freedom in the moment. I love being able to spend time with my daughter giving her reading and math lessons at age four. I can’t imagine many things more rewarding than that.

But I can still dream of a perfect life. I find value in dreaming. You can even dream of being single, without actually wanting it. When you dream of another version of your life in a parallel universe, you can then step back and think, now what are the things from that dream that I really love? And pull some of those things into your real life.

I recently dreamed of what it might be like to be retired. I dreamed of spending three hours per day exercising, another three hours learning, and a bunch of time cooking and napping.

Now, I’m not going to have three hours per day to exercise. But from that dream I realized that if I plan each day around my hectic schedule I can usually find time for a two-mile run and a one-hour weight lifting and physical therapy session. So, I get 20% of my dream, instead of 0%. Good progress!

The Struggle is Real

I’ve got nothing to write. But I figured I should write anyway. It’s a nice change from endless “nexting” on Feedly, Reddit, and Twitter.

I’ll spend minutes at a time downvoting low-effort post after low-effort post on Reddit. Minutes at a time hitting j on Feedly.

I definitely don’t take enough time to be mindful of how I’m spending my few idle minutes here and there.

My main chunk of “me” time is the hour between when the kids go to bed and when I go to bed.

I do make sure I do things for myself, though. I’m training for the half marathon in Tahoe in October.

But, when you’re the parent of a child who uniquely needs you, making time for yourself is a real challenge. To get in my six-mile runs, I wake up around 4:50 so I can get out the door by 5:15, so I can be back by 6:30 to make breakfast for the kids, pack lunch, keep the peace, and get them sent off on the bus.

Now my wife is gone for a few days and I won’t be able to do these runs, because I don’t think my kids are quite ready to wake up and not find a parent in the house.

But, something else I did for myself: I got myself my fourth tattoo. A kick-ass unicorn on my chest! And this time it didn’t hurt nearly as much as when I had my back done. I actually have one more session to finish the unicorn. Then pictures shall be forthcoming.

Really, I don’t think I’ll be able to fully embrace my passions though until the kids are at least a few years older. And, I just have to accept that. I need to remember to enjoy these years while the kids are still young. I do enjoy spending time with them, doing family events, and taking care of them.

Until next time!

Getting Back to my Roots

I think it is super cool that I’ve had this blog for 16 years. And it’s super sad that my posting cadence has slowed down to once or twice per year for the past five+ years.

I feel like I need to get back to my roots.

To some degree I never left my roots. One aspect of myself that I have never abandoned is my love for basketball. I have watched basketball my entire life. Every once in a while, I get some sense that I should stop watching basketball because it is a waste of time. But, really, it’s a core part of who I am, isn’t it? And I have never stopped being silly, singing silly songs about the dog, and telling silly jokes. Sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t embarrass myself in that way. But you know what is embarrassing? Not being yourself.

In some other ways I have certainly gotten away from my roots. Twelve-year-old me would certainly be disappointed that I haven’t played organized basketball in over 20 years. My god, man! What were you thinking!

But there’s also plenty of other things that I don’t do that previous versions of myself would be astonished — aghast even — that I don’t do anymore. I don’t go to drum and bass shows. I don’t play video games.

Other stuff is stuff that I have never lived up to. I remember in elementary school, getting mostly As and a B or two. And after the quarter was over, saying to myself, OK, this is the quarter where I absolutely will get straight As. Perfect homework, perfect studying. And of course it wouldn’t happen. But I was still fine, obviously, at least in that respect. But there is a lingering disappointment of all the hundreds of little promises that I have made to myself and betrayed over the years.

And yet, here I am. Beautiful, caring, wise wife. Talented, loving children. I’ve always wanted a family. Twelve-year-old me would be proud. Nice house. Great job. So, I shouldn’t beat myself up. I’m doing great!

Yet, I’m not living up to what I should be. From the little things — can’t I stick to doing some chin-ups on work breaks during the day, rather than mashing the “skip break” button? — to the big(ger) things — can’t I break out of watching TV at night when the kids go to bed, and instead do some form of meditation?

But we all deserve to cut ourselves some slack. And, yet, we all owe it to ourselves to really try to live up to the person that we want to be.

Personal Growth

I am really proud of myself for becoming the strongest and most muscular of my life during this pandemic. For the few years leading up to the pandemic, I got into basic barbell strength training, then considered taking a more bodybuilding approach, and ultimately decided to focus on pure raw strength, specifically powerlifting. When the pandemic hit and I realized that it was going to be months, not weeks (little did I know it would be more than a year), I knew that I had to figure out how to continue my powerlifting at home. It was a new-ish hobby of mine, and if I just let it fall by the wayside, it would essentially mean that I was no longer doing something that was purely for myself. For my own self-worth, I needed to have that thing that I would do for myself.

The rest of the country decided to buy fitness equipment at about the same time, so it was a bit difficult to get the stuff, but with enough persistence I pieced together the equipment I needed. So this whole year I have pretty consistently been doing my lifting. I have gotten bigger, stronger, and I feel good about myself and what I have achieved. Last year, I even participated in a virtual powerlifting competition. I came in last (of three) in my age and sex category, but that’s OK.

Despite having adopted this healthy habit and achieved the improvements that came with it, I find myself wanting more. Yes, more progress on physical achievements, like a running habit and increased flexibility. But more than that, I want to grow my spirituality, emotional well-being, mindfulness, willpower, intellectual pursuits, and conscious leisure activities. I know each of these things will take a similar amount of commitment that my growth in physical strength has taken. So I have to keep reminding myself of that.

I am 37 years old. Just continuing to “think of” myself as a mindfulness-aligned, spiritual-seeking, intellectual person does not make it so. I have to actively pursue these goals and others. Aside from putting in the work, I need to make room for that. I need to slowly shed non-core responsibilities, so that I have more room (primarily time, but also mental context switching) for personal growth.

I have been “wanting” to cultivate a mindfulness practice for at least ten years now. And by “mindfulness practice,” I mean even just ten minutes of meditation per day. Of course, that would just be the start. But even that start, I have never begun for more than a few days. So how much do I “want” it? That is what I need to prove to myself by taking steps to make it possible.

I also find a certain amount of sadness in, for instance, finishing a day of work plus other responsibilities, to walk to get the mail and realize that I have hardly been outside all day on a beautiful day. It’s not that work alone prevents me from getting outside. More that a combination of other responsibilities after work as well as a lack of sufficient willpower to take advantage of little 10- or 15-minute blocks of time together prevents me from getting outside, or whatever my “conscious leisure” activity might be.

All of this is to say that I only live once, and simply floating from day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season, year to year, without putting in sufficient conscious effort in designing my life, cultivating my spirit, sculpting my body, caressing my relationships, appreciating my intellect, and fully experiencing life, will be a disappointment to say the least. We only live once, and we must grab life by the horns and ride it for all that it’s worth.

Happy New Year!

My resolution for 2021 is to get organized. There’s many things I hope to accomplish in life, and being organized isn’t one of them really. But being organized allows me to more easily accomplish my other goals, and brings peace and harmony to my life. Specifically, and most importantly, I am mostly referring to my house. I want my house to be mostly picked up and tidy the whole year.

I’m going to make a video tour of my house today, and at the beginning of every month, to mark the progress.


Wow. I haven’t felt this much anxiety for quite some time. Two people close to me are exhibiting mild symptoms that could be COVID-19. One of them is older, so that’s more dangerous. The other is much closer to me, so that’s much more worrying.

My kids’ school was just cancelled for a month straight. A month. I’ve never heard of anything like that in my life. It could be that two months from now we’ll mostly be back to normal. But more likely is we’ll be four months from now and two million Americans will have died from this shit and I’ll know several of them. There’s almost certainly going to be a recession as a result if not a depression. My feeling right now is to not go anywhere. Don’t go out to eat, don’t go to the gym. Maybe other people aren’t there yet with this same feeling but they will be within a few days probably. Lots of people aren’t going to be able to pay their bills, they’re not going to be able to be paid.

I can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be a life altering moment. Nothing will be as it was supposed to be after this. I can’t shake the feeling that this is just becoming a pattern of one fucked up thing after another. For years now here we’ve been dealing with nearby wildfire, our town covered in smoke for days at a time, whole towns in the region wiped off the map. Just a few months ago our power went out for days at a time. Living by candle light, working for a technology company by battery backup and Internet by cell phone hot spot. Whole refrigerators of food thrown away.

Now this COVID-19. And what’s after this? Probably the depression or recession that I mentioned. After that? I can foresee civil unrest, food shortages, more wildfire. I want to think that I am just worrying unnecessarily but I really don’t think I am.

One thing I need to take away from this assuming I get to the other side of this crisis as an unbroken man is to live up to the full potential of my intellect. I am disappointed in myself that it wasn’t until just about two days ago that I really understood the full gravity of this situation. I didn’t understand the severity of this disease as far as its fatality rate, the rapidity of its spreading, the effects of it on the economy, and its effect on everyday life. I could, if I chose, put a large amount of blame for this on the inadequacy of messaging on the subject. I saw a dearth of messaging answering the question of “why is this a big deal?” But the real blame should be on myself for not proactively researching this issue to really understand it. I won’t be so unprepared in the future. Yesterday I felt lucky that there was no shortage of rice and beans at the co-op. They had been stacking them by the front door for a week. And I didn’t wonder to think what would cause them to put such a display by the front door. It could have just as easily been empty by the time I looked, and my unpreparedness would have been the cause of that failure for my family.

The second takeaway from this is that life is short. I’m not going to waste my time on inconsequential shit. I’m going to accomplish important things in life, like making a real difference on issues of justice, and being an effective leader in these areas. I’m going to make real progress in becoming the man I want to be and treating myself and my family right. Because life is too short to do otherwise.

Technology Smorgasborg

I’m trying to find the right medium to write on. First I started a blog that I thought was anonymous but it followed me around the web based on my email address.

Then I tried to write a career-related post on LinkedIn but it limited me to 700 characters. Screw that.

A recent interview of Matt Mullenweg (sp?) inspired me to write on this blog some more. I’ve had this blog for over ten years I believe. The nice thing about an anonymous blog is that I could write what’s on my mind without fearing hurting anyone’s feelings.

I think with this blog I’ll take a middle ground. First of all I’ll write less about personal things, but secondly I’ll allow myself to be a little more open about my personal things when I do write about them.

OK, now that that’s out of the way! What I really want to write about is my technology learning experience. I left the farm a month and a half ago. (Has it really been that long? Wow!) Since then I have been spending my days learning. Surprisingly, I think I might have already found a job through an old college friend, but that hasn’t officially started yet. Until it does start, I am treating learning technology as my job. I’ve enjoyed learning python, R, machine learning, and now ASP.NET. When I do start my job, I will need to make sure I set aside dedicated time just for learning.

I want to have a full tool belt at my disposal. I want to be “beginner OReilly book” capable at dozens of technologies, and I want to be expert level at a few. I also want to get on the ground floor of a new technology. Something like Rust would be interesting to learn in this regard. And lastly, I want to contribute seriously to an open source project.

I am legitimately excited to be learning and using technology every day again!

Thought Themes

I have noticed that over the past few years, perhaps since we moved to Nevada City, that I have had certain themes in my thought. I think that maybe having a stable place that we are living, in contrast to our vagabond lifestyle in 2012, allows me to be more introspective.

One of my favorite times of day is often laying in bed before I go to sleep. I am usually a belly sleeper, and I find that if I lay on my back at bed time that I do a lot more thinking for some reason. During these times I tend to think of whatever theme has been dominating my thoughts for the past few months.

My themes tend to last for months at a time.

For a while, after reading Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near, my thoughts have been on the radical artificial intelligence future. In my view (to steal a Bernie-ism), Kurzweil is far too optimistic. It may be that his Utopian future does come to pass. However, I am cautious about putting so much optimism in our AI overlords. We have very real problems to worry about before artificial super intelligence arrives to save us all. Relying so much on AI to save us seems to be a gamble. What if we screw ourselves over with climate change before AI has reached its full potential? This concern is completely separate from the existential threats that Nick Bostrom raises in his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Bostrom’s example of a paperclip optimizing AI turning the entire Earth, all of its life, and beyond, into a massive amount of paperclips reads like something out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but in my mind it is an entirely plausible example.

Mostly as I lay in bed at night thinking about these things, I am thinking in the context of imagining what my own life will be like in certain scenarios. In the case of an intelligence explosion, it is hard to imagine what my life might be like in 50 years. In that time, we might have uploaded our brains onto a digital medium. In Kurzweil’s examples, the entire universe could be one big computer. How could I possibly conceive of what life might be like in this situation? Rather, I think more in the shorter term. I think about driverless cars and how that would affect daily life. But more importantly I think about how it would affect my profession of farmer. AI will probably take over the thousands-of-acres commodity farms first. The wheat and soybean farms will be largely automated. Eventually, however, AI will come for the small vegetable farms as well. What will it do to my sense of self when machines exist to the degree that I show up one day and find that all there is for me to do is sit in a lawn chair and drink a beer? An AI-powered machine will be planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, washing, packing, and delivering my produce all more efficiently than I could ever dream of doing myself. That first day of sitting in a lawn chair, drinking a beer, and watching the machines do all the work on the farm might indeed be glorious. But I doubt the 50th day will be glorious.

I do believe that humans have a need to feel needed in this world. If I feel that there is no work that I could do that is truly useful, that no one in my town is expecting anything of me, that no one will notice if I don’t show up for work, I can say personally that that will be a huge blow to my sense of self-worth. I imagine the same will be true for many other people, and I think that AI is coming for other people’s jobs a lot sooner than mine. What will happen to the tens of millions of truck drivers, accountants, lawyers, journalists, and others, who will be put out of work by AI? I think we could be facing a huge mental health crisis in this country.

I do think that will adequate planning we can mitigate the problems that might arise as AI gets more and more powerful. But given the current state of politics in this country, I don’t have high hopes that we will tackle this problem proactively.

Next time on my blog, we can talk about Buddhism!

The Coming Robot Revolution, Part One: Driverless Cars

It is time to start writing on this blog again. All of my blogging energy has gone into, and now that Mags and I have decided to settle down in Nevada City, California, it is time to do more writing, which is more what this blog is about.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the coming advances in robot and artificial intelligence technologies, and how much change these advances will bring about in our economy, transportation systems, and personal lives. My thinking has been stimulated and prompted by a piece by 60 Minutes on robots in the workplace, and a series of articles in Forbes about the Google Driverless Cars.

I think it is most clear what the impacts of the Google Driverless Cars will be, and that is the subject of this first post. Very quickly, this new technology will turn every part of our transportation system on its head.

First and foremost, in most respects driverless cars will be a huge boon to street safety for all users. Collisions between two driverless cars will be virtually non-existent, as the cars will be in constant communication with each other. The algorithms and sensors controlling the cars will have much quicker reaction times and much lower error rate than any human driver.

These algorithms will be required to follow all traffic laws. This will be a huge plus for all sorts of streets, but especially in cities. As a cyclist, I look forward to the days when cars will properly yield and merge, and not double park.

Even for the clueless, iPhone-wielding pedestrian will driverless cars be a great advance in safety. Even the best algorithms and sensors can’t bring a car to a dead stop in no time, but a driverless car could begin perfect evasive and slowing maneuvers the second a pedestrian steps into the road. This extra half second and use of perfect technique will avoid many collisions with all road users, no matter who is at fault, and when collisions do occur they will be much less likely to be fatal.

Perhaps the greatest advance in street safety will be the elimination of drunk driving. There will still be plenty of dolts who decide to drive themselves home when they have a driverless car option, but most drunks will opt to let the car drive them home. Drunk driving is a huge problem, as we all know, and I think it is a problem that will eventually be close to eliminated.

The entire car ownership model will be turned on its head. Many people will choose out of habit or pride to still own their own car, driverless or not, but more and more people will realize the great economic benefit of simply renting a driverless car on demand, paid hourly and/or by the mile. If you live in a city or suburb, you will be able to request a car to pick you up, and a car without anyone in it will drive itself to your front door within minutes. Most people will opt for this option over owning their own car, especially young people and city dwellers.

With near perfect utilization of a fleet of driverless cars, many fewer cars will need to be produced. This will be a giant shock wave to the auto industry. The vehicle fleet will eventually fall to 10% of what it is today, since cars will rarely be vacant, save for the times like 3am when most people don’t want to go anywhere anyway. This change alone will be disruptive to many economies, especially the United States, Japan, and Germany. A smart auto maker will realize this change is inevitable and get out ahead of the change. Half or more of current auto makers will fold within the next few decades as demand vanishes.

With far fewer cars sitting idle, giant parking lots will become a thing of the past, as will many areas of street parking. This will be a great thing for bicycle infrastructure, sidewalk widening, and using old parking lots for things like parks and public gardens. This will also cause business real estate prices to drop, as many huge parking lots will now be open to development for business use. Indeed, even streets themselves will be able to be significantly narrowed as driverless cars will be able to follow each other with just inches to spare. This narrowing and removal of car travel lanes will present even more opportunities for more sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure.

Again, driving will be much more efficient, and I mean an improvement by leaps and bounds. Gone will be the days of constant traffic jams due to irrational driving behavior, collisions, and inefficient use of road surfaces. Because driverless cars will be in constant communication with each other, they can follow each other within inches, braking instantly as needed, and gaining a huge boost in wind drag efficiency due to drafting. This huge increase in efficiency will make our current freeways look downright silly as most of the road surface will be completely empty while other parts will be crammed with cars safely going 100 miles per hour. Rather than our current ridiculous trend of widening freeways, we’ll actually contract them and save bundles on maintenance costs.

As you will be able to instantly get a personal vehicle sent to your location at any time, equipped with a computerized chauffeur, public transit will go through a huge change. Many public bus lines will be eliminated, and where they are kept the drivers will be replaced by computers and sensors. Some people will have their driverless car memberships subsidized by local government so the costs to them will be comparable to their current subsidized transit passes.

Other types of transit will show resiliency as they offer speed advantages over cars with rubber tires on asphalt and cement. Airplanes and eventually high-speed rail will be used when you need to get somewhere more quickly or more comfortably than a driverless car can get you there. However, routes like San Francisco to Los Angeles will greatly shrink as people can do the route in 3.5 hours using a driverless car at 100 miles per hour, without having to deal with the indignities and delays of airports. Air travel and high-speed rail will mostly be used for trips of 500 miles and more, and of course trips across the oceans. I don’t see good local trains and subways going away any time soon, as in many cases they are already such a fast and efficient way to travel.

Even many of our errands will be turned on their heads. You’ll be able to place an order on the web to the grocery store, and a car with no one in it will arrive at your house at the appointed time with your order. Your package deliveries will also arrive in a driverless vehicle at appointed times. A driverless car will arrive to take kids to school.

Taxi drivers will of course resist this entire endeavor, and of course I feel for them. But, honestly, resistance is futile. It is not a matter of if the taxi driver profession will be almost entirely wiped out, but simply a question of when.

Unfortunately, with the increases in efficiency, cost, speed, and convenience, many people will actually increase the amount of time they spend in cars. People won’t mind living two hours away from their job as much when they can work, read, eat, and drink from their moving car. Unfortunately this all equates to more time people will spend sitting on their asses, increasing incidences of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Driverless cars will be the push that electric cars needed. When it is a computer rather than a human worrying about how, when, and where to charge, many companies will make the switch. Gasoline combustion engines will still have a significant role for longer trips, but for shorter trips electric cars will rule the day. This will be a significant advance in air quality and engine noise.

However, another form of noise will surely increase: that of cars moving at 100 miles per hour regardless of any engine noise. This background “wooshing” noise can travel for many miles, and I think it will increase as there are more cars moving at a faster speed at any given time.

Google already has working prototypes of the driverless car, and I think within three to five years we will start seeing them on the roads. In that time frame they may still be out of reach for most private owners, but they will start to be used for car sharing, where people can share the costs of these expensive cars, currently estimated to cost $300,000. The car sharing model will be the one that eventually comes to dominate, anyway. Costs for these cars will rapidly fall until they start to approach the price of current human-operated cars, and as the prices fall these things will really start to take off. I feel that most people have no idea what huge changes in transportation are on the horizon but soon enough everyone will know about it.

Despite this lengthy blog post detailing the many changes I expect to see, I am not necessarily a full advocate of driverless cars; I just think that these changes are inevitable. Overall, I think the changes will be a net positive over our current transportation system, mostly due to the huge advances in street safety for all users. However, we need to be aware of the significant drawbacks, some of which I have addressed above.

The biggest downside I see to driverless cars is that it will make it much more tempting to not engage in active transportation. Cycling, walking, and combining these modes with public transportation are currently attractive to many people because of the cost and convenience compared to private automobile ownership, especially in cities. As using driverless cars becomes inexpensive enough, many people will start to use the service and miss out on the significant health benefits that active transportation provides. In fact, I think cyclists and walkers will increasingly be seen as quaint and behind the times. The social and economic pressures to travel by driverless car will be great.

People who choose to not own a cell phone will probably be left in the dust, as they will be needed to get picked up anywhere you don’t have access to a computer.

As people are no longer in control of their own motion, they will lose touch with their sense of direction, even more than they already have with smart phones and GPS. People will lose the sense of connectedness of places as they will pay less attention to the geography between points A and B.

As active transportation decreases and public transportation shrinks, we will become more atomized as individuals than we already are. When you get picked up and dropped off door-to-door in an encapsulated vehicle, you interact less with people. The driverless deliveries will have the same effect as you no longer interact with people at the grocery store. However, you may be able to easily choose to carpool in a driverless car which would increase your interaction with people.

As it stands now, the easiest way to limit the adverse effects of car culture for yourself is to simply not own a car. It is a big, expensive decision to own a car and therefore you can easily stick with your original decision to not do so. However, when a car lifestyle is a simple web form and $50 membership fee away, it will be much more difficult to remain true to your decision to not own a car.

There will be impediments to the widespread adoption of the driverless car. These impediments will come in the form of cultural resistance, mostly from conservatives, resistance from the auto industry, and from lawmakers scared of change. These impediments are real, but at most they will slow but not stop the driverless car. Resistance is futile, for better or for worse.

How Your Electronics Are Made

I just listened to a This American Life episode about the working conditions in which all of our electronic crap is made in China. It is really quite eye-opening, and it is amazing yet totally predictable that pieces like this are not more common.

Our economic model (capitalism) guarantees that these atrocious working conditions will exist. Capitalism turns everything, including people, into mere objects. When you have an iPhone, it is just an iPhone. It is not this particular unique piece that contains aluminum from a particular mine and made by a particular person with their own unique feelings, wants, needs, fears, and passions.

The person that made your iPhone in fact does not have time or space to express themselves as a unique human. During their 12 to 16-hour working day, they aren’t even allowed to talk to their coworkers while on the assembly line. They then go “home” to a 12′ x 12′ dormitory containing 15 beds. There are even cameras in their dormitories.

One Foxconn (the actual manufacturer of Apple crap) worker died after working for 34 hours straight. Other workers are poisoned from hexane, losing use of their hands in their 20s, or even dying from it. If they complain to the official government agency about working conditions, they get put on an official government blacklist. With nowhere to turn, many workers choose to end their life.

And of course Apple and Foxconn did not want to talk to Ira Glass. They, like all of us, see what they want to see. Apple complains a certain amount about the working conditions, but clearly not enough to prevent all of the above from happening consistently year after year.

The New York Times “liberal” Paul Krugman and “conservative” Nicholas Kristof actually speak highly of the current economic phase that China is in. Kristof actually has an article titled Two Cheers for Sweatshops. Sure, there may be problems with sweatshops, they say, but the lives of the workers are better than they were when living in their hovels. At least Kristof is honest enough to call them sweatshops. Steve Jobs wouldn’t even admit that Foxconn was a sweatshop.

You’re officially allowed to stop celebrating the life of Steve Jobs. Certainly, we’re all guilty in this globalized system. It’s complex. But the level of guilt is on a continuum from “just trying to get by” to “massively profiting from the misery of others and the destruction of our planet.” Steve Jobs was on the latter end of this spectrum.

It always amazes me that these people, people like Jobs, Kristof, Krugman, and almost any economist, are actually taken seriously. How poor are our critical thinking skills that we accept their dichotomy of abject poverty on the one hand and sweatshops on the other? Why should the lives of people in third world countries be reduced to these two choices? And how little respect we must have for these people to never realize that it is not up to us to decide what is best for them? It is our responsibility, in fact, to instead model our world around giving people their due human rights and then letting them decide what is best for themselves.

Props to my friend Greg for linking to the This American Life episode that inspired this post. This post was tapped out on an Apple Macbook Pro 15″.

Finding a Home

I have learned a lot over these past few years. And I have also changed. Some of the changes are typical. I got married, so one would expect that I am not as interested in partying or staying up late. This is true.

I want my future home to be located in an area with very low noise and light pollution. I want to live in a community with other responsible, loving adults. I have come to value responsible, trustworthy people more and more.

I want to be able to walk outside my door to nature and beauty, not a street with cars. I want to see more than civilization when I look from my window.

Basically, I want peace, health, love, and beauty to be in my life in abundance. I need an environment that supports my growth as a person. I have a wonderful partner who also greatly values these things. Together, we will find and create a home that allows us to prosper and be happy.

Our Plans

A while ago I tweeted that Mags and I would be quitting our jobs in October. Some people were confused as to what was going on, and I promised a full blog post. Here it is!

Our last day of work will be October 21. For about two months following that, we will focus on organizing our stuff and also relaxing in San Francisco. I’ve lived here for six years and haven’t had much non-job time to just experience the city. I’m very much looking forward to this 🙂

In late December, we will go by train to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to visit family for the holidays. Around New Years we will go by train and bus to Las Vegas. Mags will be teaching for about a week while I’ll be holed up a few hours away getting my exercise and meditation on for a few weeks. Mags will join me when she is done with her teaching gig.

After this is when the real adventure starts. What follows is not set in stone, but it is the general plan. It is inevitable that we will add some things, shift some things, and subtract some things.

After Vegas, we will go to Haiti to volunteer at a refugee camp for about a month. We’ll both use our professional skills and also probably do some grunt work. They’re still suffering a lot down there over a year after the earthquake.

From there we want to go to other parts of Latin America: Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil. Probably not all of those. And we don’t really know yet what we’ll do in those places.

Then we will go to Taiwan to learn Mandarin from Mags’s aunt and visit family for two-three months, followed by a couple of weeks vacation in Japan.

In the fall we will go bike touring, with camping and couch surfing, in the Northeast US for about a month. At an undetermined time of the year, we will travel the US by train, bus, hitchhiking, etc, to explore where we want to set down roots.

There will also be a couple months of unplanned time to allow for some degree of spontaneity.

What comes next, you ask? Well, we want to have a baby or babies. We want to move somewhere that we can afford some land (read: not San Francisco proper). We want to live with others in some fashion. I want to work with my hands and not often in an office. That’ll probably take the form of farming or bicycle mechanics. We want to start a home business centered around healing and well-being – physical therapy, massage, exercise, etc.

So, lots of plans. We’ve been thinking about all of this for a long time and we’re excited to get started. The nice thing is that we’re close enough now that we can actually begin to make concrete plans, buy tickets, decide things, etc.

And, just another reminder, all of the above isn’t set in stone 🙂 For about 75% of it I wanted to preface it with probably or possibly. But I thought reading that over and over would get tiresome 🙂

The Mysterious Dunk Poster

Seemingly twice a week you’ll hear that someone got “posterized” by a slam dunk. Like the dunk by Taj Gibson on D Wade. “Posterized” means that someone dunked on you, and therefore you’ll be on their poster that will go on the walls of countless twelve-year-old boys across the country. However, a cursory search turns up no results. You can get posters of players dunking, solo, in Slam Dunk Contests, but none of them dunking making some other guy look foolish.

So, maybe we need to end the term “posterize,” unless someone actually starts printing the posters 🙂

Although, it looks like you can get this classic on eBay.

Writing Letters to Prisoners

I have been paying more attention to my dreams lately. Last night I dreamt that I was a prisoner of four years, who hadn’t even been charged with anything yet.

So today, I will write a letter to a prisoner.

Prison is a really, really awful place. From Wikipedia:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 7,225,800 people at yearend 2009 were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole — about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population.[7][8] 2,297,400 were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails.[1][9] The U.S. incarceration rate was 748 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, or 0.75%.[9] The USA has the highest total documented prison and jail population in the world.

NPR recently did a story on prison towns. While they were critical of the idea of basing a town’s economy on a prison, they still stated the facts of the system a bit too matter-of-factly. They presented the story in such a way that we should feel sorry for the towns whose economies are being hurt by a drop in the prisoner population due to a recent drop in crime.

We have to remember that these are human beings, and they are being locked in cages for years at a time. Many of the folks in prison are there for drug offenses, which should be treated as the addiction that it is, not as a crime.

If we lived in a decent society, prisons would be one of many issues that we just wouldn’t stand for. We would say, OK, if you politicians aren’t going to fix the problem for us, then we’re going to march en masse to the local prison and tear the damn thing down.

But, the least I can do is write a letter. So that’s what I’ll do today.

Date Morning

Sometimes Twitter just doesn’t cut it… it’s not worth it to try to fit everything in 140 characters.

Mags and I have date morning this morning. We are going to start it off by going to Mission Dolores, which is the oldest building in San Francisco, built in 1776. It also contains the only cemetery in San Francisco, where even many native Ohlone people are buried. Almost everyone else that dies in San Francisco is buried in Colma. Mission Dolores is a Catholic church.

After that we are going to local restaurant Pomelo for brunch. Yum yum!

I hope everyone has been having a fun weekend!

Smoothie Recipe

Mags and I make smoothies somewhat regularly. This morning I made one of the best ones I’ve made so far. Here’s the inexact recipe:
two apples
one orange
one carrot
about two cups of blueberries. I used frozen.
a couple of scoops of protein powder
about a half cup of dry uncooked oatmeal
about a cup or two of milk. I used almond milk.

Blend for a couple of minutes and enjoy.

Fitness Update

Well, I haven’t lost any weight. But I’m not particularly concerned about it just yet. The reason is that I feel like I have been taking care of myself physically.

Peter-man and I have been doing daily push-ups, and we had a contest on Sunday to see who could do the most in one day. I got 500! I definitely couldn’t have done that a few weeks ago, especially considering that I wasn’t sore the next day.

I got a new cheap digital watch for Christmas, and I have been using it during my runs. It made me realize that my standard run was shorter in time (and distance, it turned out) than I thought it was. So this morning I decided to run out thirty minutes before turning around. Here was my route:

View Larger Map

I set out at 6:30am, when it was dark, so I got to see the absolutely beautiful sun rise, and the cityscape as well, from atop Diamond Heights.

I was getting frustrated by a recent slew of minor injuries. Minor ankle sprain thing, minor ab strain thing, minor knee hurty thing. But this time instead of just resting to cure the injuries, which is also important, I have asked for Mags’s help in giving me physical therapy to do for injury recovery as well as injury prevention. And I have been sticking with the PT routine pretty well.

So, adding all of that up, I feel pretty good, even though I’m not dropping the pounds yet.

I think my body is better adjusted to the exercise after this three-and-a-half weeks, so I can hopefully expect to be injured less often as well as be able to do more. I feel confident that, given the time and motivation, my body will allow me to complete a ten-mile run. Maybe this weekend?

The Good, The Bad, And The Better

I was feeling a bit restless and needing to get out of the office today, so I took the afternoon off.

After picking up a book from the library and doing some reading while eating lunch outside in front of Canyon Market, I headed home. It was a beautiful day today.

I brought the book into my bedroom and continued reading. And while I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while, there were two problems: The book was a little bit depressing (I’d be surprised if it wasn’t) and I wasn’t outside. I knew I’d kick myself if I finished the day without getting outside for a significant amount of time. I walked out to the living room and sat by the open window. I looked outside and felt a mild sense of melancholy wash over me as all I saw outside were houses, and houses, and more houses. I needed to see something other then civilization.

So I headed to Glen Canyon Park on my bike, sans helmet, wind blowing through my hair. I packed light: just my keys, wallet, knife, and bike lock. I left the cell phone at home. Good choice!

My first general thoughts were: wow, beautiful day. It really was. It was the perfect temperature. I locked my bike to a pole along the main path and started hiking up the hill. It was about 3:30 and I wanted to see the sun on its way down from an optimal position. I was cheered by the folks that made eye contact and responded when I said “hello.” After a few short minutes, I got all the way to the top of the hill and found a nice bench to sit down on. I made myself comfortable and laid down.

Then I noticed the constant whir of cars driving along O’Shaughnessy Boulevard. I noticed the noise from the airplanes, and the really annoying noise from some sort of weed whacker in the distance. I was still glad I came, but it definitely soured the experience a bit. I thought, “why can’t we have a peaceful bit of nature right here?” There should be restrictions on noise if it means that one can’t find a bit of nature near their home to relax in.

And then a friend arrived. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a six-inch stalk with purple flowers attached to it disappear into the ground. My interest was piqued. After a couple of minutes I discovered that it was just what I thought it was – a little groundhog or other similar furry guy that lives in holes. Every so often, he would pop his head out of his hole to take another few nibbles of grass. While I was still conscious of the annoying noises of modern civilization, I stopped caring as much while I was observing the little creature just a few feet from me.

Overall, it was an excellent afternoon off of work. And I realized that this park might be even more enjoyable right around the time when the sun comes up – same park but less external noise.

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I Saw Some Crazy Ish Yesterday

Yesterday, I was out with Mom near her place, returning with her groceries in a City Carshare car. We were waiting to turn left at Monterey and Foerster. All of a sudden, we hear several harried beeps coming from a car across the intersection to our left. We look, and there is a car flying around the corner, out of control. He swerves left, now going west on Monterey. Rather than coming to a stop, he stays on the accelerator, swerving back to the right and very soon runs into a tree.

I quickly pulled into a nearby parking lot, got out, and started running to see if they guy was OK. Unfortunately he had backed up and drove off, car smoking.

His car was smoking so much that I figured the first policeman that saw him would pull him over. I start on my way again, and only a block away I see him again, dirt and grass wedged in his car grill. This time I was able to get his license plate number. I pulled over and called 911. Halfway through my short conversation, I heard sirens.

I am guessing he was caught. It didn’t look like he did too much damage to the tree, but he certainly should be held accountable for reckless driving. Besides that, there was clearly something wrong with him that I am sure he could use help for. Hopefully the police were able to connect him with the help he needs.

Early Motivation

After my monster workout a couple of days ago, I am finding it hard to muster up motivation to work out. I think I need two things to succeed:
– no hangovers. Hard to avoid on New Year’s Day, even though I didn’t drink much on NYE.
– early to bed, early to rise. Mags just left for a week this morning for work out of town. This involved going to bed late and waking up early. This shall be fixed tonight! And I’ll still work out tonight, after I feel a bit more “with it.”

Today By the Numbers

Today’s weigh-in: 159.5 lbs.
Goal weight for February 1: 150 lbs.
Pounds I must lose per day to reach this goal: .297
Calorie deficit needed per day: 1,039
Hours on the bike trainer today: 1
Minutes biking on city streets: 50
Minutes running: 43
Miles run: 4

Here is today’s running route:

View Larger Map

Happy New Year!

Cliche Fitness in the New Year

Our honeymoon is over and so is the holiday visit to the East Coast. In between the two I got some form of the flu that was one of the worst illnesses I have had. It lasted about a week.

With all of this comes a few extra pounds and also some restlessness – the need to move, to feel the cold air, to breathe hard, to be sore. Basically, I need to get back in touch with my body after all of this.

I have stayed pretty fit and healthy ever since I took off about 50 pounds a few years ago. But I never did get all the way to my end goal. So that’s what I’m going to do here, cliche or no.

I don’t have a detailed plan as of yet. But the idea is to exercise as much as I can without injuring myself. I want to run. A lot. And my buddy Peter-man gave me a bicycle trainer. So I can use that when I don’t feel like going out into the weather, or if I have limited time. I can do calisthenics in the garage and also hit up 24-hour fitness. So, I just want to make sure I exercise a lot every day, and within a couple of weeks I may put together a more structured plan based on what I know works.

As far as diet, I want to eat healthy stuff like I usually do, allowing myself the occasional treat. I’ll probably have to set up a set of rules for this so I don’t have a slippery slope problem.

I want a big component of all of this to be data and blogging. I want to track my runs, including their times and their routes. I want to track my weight daily. And I want to take pictures of my progress.

Exciting times! I know I can do it, and I could use all of your encouragement!

Thoughts From Today’s News

I find myself getting more and more jaded about what goes on in our society. So I felt the need to share my feelings about recent goings on.

Juan Williams was fired from NPR for a bigoted remark about Muslims he made on the O’Reilly Factor. And, in the society we live in, we have people writing in to NPR – not just Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, but actual listeners – to voice their displeasure at his firing.

If the remark had been made about African Americans instead of Muslims, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. All but the fringe would just say, “Yeah, OK, of course that makes sense. Dude’s gotta be fired. Why are we even talking about this?”

Usually I don’t like NPR; their reporting is often called “liberal” but unfortunately that is far from the truth. They parrot all of the establishment assumptions about things like the moral integrity of our political elites. But at least in this case they’ve done well.


I am really glad to see Meg Whitman down 8 points in the polls, according to KPFA morning news. It really gives a little bit of hope for our society. She has spent $141 million of her own money on this governor’s race, and it’s not going to buy her the election. Jerry Brown, by contrast, has spent about a tenth of that and is winning. Sure, he’s not perfect – he is likely far from it – but he is also far from being as bad as Meg Whitman.

Also, I heard today that there is a Tea Party movement in Europe. God help us…

And, I watched a few news reports about the French protests. I personally think the protests are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Interestingly enough, the things that I have heard about the protests have included people saying “Of course, everyone knows that the pension age must be raised. However, the unions have to save face.”

Really? They _must_ be raised? There is no other possible place in the budget that can be cut, or taxes can’t be raised?

This reminds me of what is going on right now in San Francisco. The MUNI workers (bus drivers, etc) are being scapegoated by local politicians for MUNI’s woes, saying that their salaries should be lowered and benefits cut. I’m not the biggest fan of MUNI workers, but we’re looking in the wrong place for the source of the problem. Almost no one is bringing up the possibility of greatly cutting the salaries of managers and politicians. For instance, MUNI head Nat Ford makes over $300,000/year. How is this not a problem?

That is all.

Got My Gaming PC!

Computer games used to be just a waste of time for me. Sure, they were fun, but they did me more harm than good.

When I heard that Civilization V was coming out in September 2010, I knew I had to play it. But these days, the only computers I have are a Macbook and an Eee PC. Both of these computers are woefully underpowered for the task. Something surely had to be done…

I have loved the entire Civilization series. It is truly engrossing and it is really fun to build an empire from the ground up. Besides that, I feel like I am missing out on experiencing the art form of our times: video games.

So, I set out to get a gaming computer. For a while I thought I would get a gaming laptop. But, with my budget being limited (about $600), I knew that I could get so much more in a desktop. I had a few requirements: lots of RAM, small physical size, Windows 7 (I didn’t want to use a nine-year-old OS, and I wanted Direct X 10), decent video card, low power usage, and quiet.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • Shuttle barebones: case, motherboard, 250W PSU
  • AMD Athlon 2 64-bit 2.9Ghz dual-core processor
  • 4GB PC8000 RAM
  • Radeon 5700 1GB video card
  • Wireless NIC
  • Windows 7 Home Premium

For my hard drive I used an old 120GB IDE drive that I had sitting around. I also used an old DVD-ROM that I had sitting around.

If I had another $250 to spend on it, I’d get an SSD as my hard drive and up the RAM to 8GB.

Since Civilization V won’t be out for another couple of months, and because it won’t be the only game I’ll ever want to play, I went onto the Interwebs to see what else I should get. I perused the past few years of top games on and decided to get Company of Heroes (an RTS from 2006), The Witcher (an RPG), and Empire: Total War (an RTS/TBS hybrid).

So far, Company of Heroes has arrived. I played it for about an hour or less last night. It seems like a pretty solid game. I like how the soldiers take cover.

I realized this morning that I actually really like the fact that it is a desktop computer and not a laptop. We don’t have a desk at home. Well, rather, we are using my desk as our dining table. My big 24″ monitor lives, covered, on a side table in the living room. We uncover it when we want to hook it up to a laptop for a movie or some such. Because we don’t have a desk, I need to borrow the dining table when I want to game. This means moving everything over there and plugging it all in, and unplugging it and putting it away when I am done. This will result in more “intentional” gaming sessions and less gaming because it is just so easy to start. This means less time wasting and procrastinating through gaming, which is a good thing!

Although, when Civilization V comes out, I am pretty sure I am going to have to set aside a weekend to play the hell out of it. Also, I think I should try to organize a small LAN party. I can throw an Ethernet cord down to the garage. With folding tables, I think I can get maybe an eight-person LAN party going. Ah, just like old times…

mysqldumpslow on FreeBSD

Because it took me 15 minutes to figure it out, and because Google was no help… to get the mysqldumpslow command installed on FreeBSD, use the databases/mysql51-scripts port.

G20 Coverage Comparison

Just a quick and dirty update… you can use Google to look up the relevant clips if you’d like 🙂

The other day, I heard a brief piece on NPR describing the G20 protests in Toronto. The correspondent described the protests as having turned violent due to the smashing of some corporate shop windows (Starbucks, Urban Outfitters) and setting fire to a police car. One can argue whether property destruction should or should not be categorized as violence. I say it shouldn’t, but that’s not the point here…

To say that the protests turned violent due to these acts and then not mention the arrest of 600 peaceful protesters and beating of many by police is an example of remarkably dishonest coverage by NPR, not that I expect anything better from them.

Contrast that with the recent Democracy Now update which spent more than twenty seconds on the story. Democracy Now covered the overwhelming violence used by police as well as the property destruction. Democracy Now always puts almost all mainstream news to shame. Imagine that – actually looking at the facts on the ground rather than passing everything through a pro-authority, pro-capitalism, pro-US-government filter. It’s amazing what results from using that technique.

To conservatives that think that all progressives look to NPR and Obama as their heroes and leaders, please know that many of us don’t.

Call of the Wild and Stanza

I just finished reading Call of the Wild by Jack London. I had been wanting to read something by Jack London for a while because, of course, he is regarded as a great writer, but also because he was a radical leftist.

Call of the Wild was a somewhat enjoyable read. I’ve definitely read better, though. The story seems a bit out there.

I read Call of the Wild on my iPhone using the Stanza app. I got the book for free from Project Gutenberg because this book is in the public domain, along with a great deal of other books. The app was a breeze to use: just tap left or right to flip pages. And when you start up the app it remembers which book you were on and which page on that book.

I am going to at least start reading American Power and the New Mandarins by Noam Chomsky next. It was his first political book.

Processed Food as Poison

Every couple of years I seem to read a book that is really influential to my thinking and my life. A couple of examples from the past six years or so are Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky and Expect Resistance. I read another book recently that also falls into this category for me: In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. It is a really excellent book that has completely revolutionized the way that I think about food. Yes, I ate pretty healthily before reading In Defense of Food. I ate a close-to-vegetarian diet, got regular exercise, maintained a healthy weight, and regularly ate fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

However, I am now able to think of food with a much more basic framework that makes a lot of sense. Pollen has three basic rules, which he has put right on the cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Of course, Pollen gives lots of background and evidence, and goes into much more depth on these rules. But he has done an excellent job of summing up the whole book into these simple rules that will make it so easy for anyone to remember.

The key was really for Pollen to redefine what you think of as food. For all of the things that you think of as food, stop thinking of all of that processed, refined crap as actually being food. Corn is food. High fructose corn syrup is not food. The idea is to get to the basics. Think of a healthy, local, grass-fed cow as being food. Don’t think of a McDonald’s hamburger as food.

One rule that I have thought of myself that isn’t in the book is to think of this processed crap as actually being poison. After we got back from San Diego one week ago, which is where I read the book in a day and a half (it was that good… and I had that much time on my hands 🙂 ), I haven’t drank any soda. I had been in the habit of having two or three Diet Cokes (with its artificial sweeteners and other strange things that I didn’t really know what they were) a week and one or two ginger ales (with its high fructose corn syrup) a week. That went immediately down to zero when I got back. It didn’t take any effort, and I didn’t look at it as a sacrifice. I simply realized that that crap isn’t food, and in fact it is poison.

Yes, I am going to commit a writing faux pas, but I think it is helpful in this case. Poison, defined:

a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism b (1) : something destructive or harmful

This pre-packaged, processed, artificially flavored, artificially colored, artificially fertilized, unnatural crap is exactly that: poison. It kills through obesity, diabetes, cancer, and countless other ailments, not to mention the problems of industrial agriculture like global warming, poisoning of our land and water supplies, and workers’ rights.

Here’s to a healthier life through real food.

My New Super-Secret Blog

I realized some time ago that there are a lot of things that I needed to write down, and that I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t doing it mostly because they were things that I didn’t necessarily want my whole Twitter feed reading.

So, I started a new blog and Twitter feed that will probably get a lot more posts than this one. But, of course, I’m not telling y’all what they are, because that would defeat the whole purpose.

And, seeing as how I am a geek, I wanted to provide anonymity for myself on a technical level as well. To this end, I am using the Tor Project to anonymize my IP address. I am using a completely different browser just for using Tor. I didn’t want to share my regular browser (Firefox at the time, Chrome now) for my regular browsing and my anonymous browsing because there was the risk of not using Tor when I meant to, the risk of my anonymous browser visits getting logged in my browser history unintentionally, the annoyance of possibly having cookies get mixed up, and also the annoyance of having Tor possibly slowing down things that I didn’t need or want to use Tor for. It was much easier to just relegate Tor to its own browser.

Unfortunately, a couple of browsers on OS X use system-wide proxy settings. I didn’t want to use Tor for my whole system, just one browser! I settled on Opera as my Tor browser because it allows you to set the proxy settings that only affect it and not the whole OS. Also, Opera for OS X is a pretty nice browser, even if Opera Mini for the iPhone has awful privacy implications (please, please don’t use Opera Mini).

Anyway, I don’t know if my new blog means that I’ll be blogging here less. Probably not, seeing as how I only post on here about once every month or so. But the ten or so posts that I have made on the new blog have been really helpful for me so far. It is really good to get thoughts and feelings down in writing sometimes to help myself really understand them.

I did tell one lucky person about the blog – Mags. I wanted to make sure there was nothing hidden, and be completely open with her. On the flip side, she said that she decided not to read it unless I showed it to her, as to respect my need for a private outlet. One thing I thought of, though, is that I’ll need to show her how to use Tor if she is to view my blog from her computer, because my paranoid side knows that combing the visitor logs would reveal her IP address… which is also my IP address. And my anonymity would be potentially blown 🙂

I had been thinking for years of starting an anonymous blog. I am not sure what took me so long to do it. One thought of mine has been – if I want the blog to be anonymous, why go through all the trouble to put it on the web at all? An encrypted text file would do just fine. And I am not really sure how to answer this question completely. But I guess my vanity demands the potential for some readers, which I have had zero of so far 🙂 Also, with the potential for other people reading what I am writing, I am motivated to make my writing more coherent more thoughtful and complete, which helps to further the purpose of the blog to begin with.

OK, it is time to make another post on my super-secret paranoid anonymous blog!

Who Wants to Go Camping?

Mags and I want to go camping, and I had a fresh desire to do so just this morning. I really want to see the stars clearly, snuggle up in my sleeping bag, sit by the fire, go hiking, you know, all that good stuff. Anyone want to join?

Ruby on Rails and databases

I’ve decided to start messing around with Ruby on Rails a little bit recently. I am reading Learning Rails from O’Reilly Press. I like this quote (page 178):

Because Rails works hard at staying independent of any given database implementation, migrations also offer you a convenient technique for creating your application using one database for development or testing and yet another for deployment.

Fun stuff so far. I haven’t written anything besides Perl for a long time, and even when I have written Perl it has been small systems administration scripts.

My Picks for the Western Conference All-Star Team

In a just world, this would be the Western Conference All-Star team:
Deron Williams
Brandon Roy
Kevin Durant
Carmelo Anthony
Dirk Nowitzki
Tim Duncan
Kobe Bryant
Steve Nash
Pau Gasol
Chris Paul
Tyreke Evans
Amare Stoudemire

The Western Conference was much harder to pick than the Eastern Conference. The following players really deserve to play in the All-Star game as well:
Chris Kaman
Monta Ellis
Zach Randolph
Andrew Bynum

My Picks for the Eastern Conference All-Stars

In a just world, here is who would be selected for the Eastern Conference All-Star team:
Dwight Howard
Lebron James
Chris Bosh
Dwayne Wade
Joe Johnson
Antawn Jamison
Rajon Rondo
Gerald Wallace
Danny Granger
Derrick Rose
Brook Lopez
David Lee

Still Waiting for Video on the Web to Work

It is 2010 and video on the web is in a sorry state.
– It is choppy on all OS X web browsers, no matter the video source. It is better on Chrome and Safari, worse on Firefox, but definitely choppy on all three.
– It doesn’t work on the iPhone.
– There is too much buffering on all platforms. Really, software developers, set it so it buffer enough before it starts playing so playback isn’t interrupted.

Sometimes, a lot of the time, modern technology seems like it is in one giant beta test. Being a sysadmin, I see hardware and software fail to do really basic things all the time. Things like:
– servers locking up with no useful error logging to let me know why
– Apple’s crashing, with no error messages
– my new keyboard, of all things, needing to be unplugged and replugged at least once per day to work correctly

And with video, well that is supposed to be the new hotness on the web, but I for one still find it remarkably frustrating.

Honeymoon Update!

We’re going to Copenhagen in September or October, for about ten days!

Yeah, it’s a long way away, but we’ve got to save up our paid time off 🙂 Immediately after the wedding, we’ll go to a bed and breakfast for two or three nights.

I’m getting pretty excited. Things are moving along pretty smoothly. Invites will start to go out tomorrow night.


I decided recently to start blogging more in lieu of certain posts on Twitter. I find that, whodathunkit, it is hard to fully contain a thought in 140 characters sometimes.

Mags and I talked tonight and it seems like it will probably make the most sense to have a short two- or three-day honeymoon immediately after the wedding, with the full honeymoon coming some months later. The short honeymoon will probably be at a nice bed and breakfast. Here are some ideas for the longer honeymoon – maybe about ten days in length…

Copenhagen. Cute, European city from what I hear. The most appealing thing, though, for both of us I think, is the huge bicycle culture here.

Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to go to Tokyo. Seems like there would be endless partying and world-class food here.

Mixed trip: Napa Valley and a cabin in the woods somewhere. This would probably be the most relaxed, peaceful option. The days would be filled with wine tastings, hikes in the woods, and lazy days in small towns.

Obligatory island somewhere. This option obviously has to be explored.

That’s all I can think of for now. I am sure we will come up with more ideas. I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

Project Tuxedo!

So as y’all probably know via word-of-mouth, email, Twitter, Facebook, or otherwise, Mags and I are getting married. I’ve decided to buy a tuxedo for the occasion rather than rent one. And I’d like to lose some weight for the wedding. So if I want to buy the tuxedo sooner rather than later, I’d better start losing weight now.

The goal is to lose ten pounds. I am at 161 this morning. Two pounds per week will put me at 151 on November 12.

I can certainly do it. I’ll be alternating running and biking along with push-ups, chin/pull-ups, and ab workouts. Of course I am going to try to improve my diet as well. I’ll go with my previous strategy of cutting something out of my diet if I get off track.

Wish me luck!

Worst Motorist Intimidation So Far

After more than a year of using a bicycle as my primary means of transportation, today I experienced the worst yet dangerous confrontation on the road.

As I was going down the hill on the 200 block of Chenery St, one block from my home, I heard a car behind me trying to pass in the oncoming lane. There was a car in front of me already, a stop sign coming up, and I was already going fast, as I was going down a hill. So I put my left hand out, palm facing the passing motorist, to tell her to “stop.”

Indeed, she did stop trying to pass me, and also yelled out a few things like “Move! Move!” and “Hurry up!”

Keep in mind that this is a residential street. Also keep in mind that on this downhill, bikes go faster than cars.

Of course, I point out all of this to you, my logical reader. Unfortunately logic literally does not enter into the decision-making process of many people. Moving on with my story…

So I am still in front of her, and I come to a complete stop at the stop sign. I turn around and ask “Just how fast do you think you’re going to go on this street?” She only responded, “Move! Shut the fuck up!” She then went around me at the stop sign, almost hitting me.

I am glad I am not a naturally violent person, because I did have a strong urge to kick out her tail light, but obviously I didn’t do that. You can probably guess that I easily caught up with her again, showing that in this case cars slow bikes down, bikes don’t slow cars down. I pulled up alongside her car at the next stop sign and said, “Did you happen to notice that I am going as fast as you are?” to which she responded (using her immense powers of logical argument) “Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up!” She then sped off.

This is the worst confrontation I have had yet with a motorist. Mags and I did have another person yell at us on Chenery a few weeks ago, though. This time, we were going up the hill. I was hauling 60 pounds of bagged compost on my trailer, and Mags was riding alongside me. A car behind us gave two light beeps. Mags motioned for her to go around us. For some reason this really pissed the motorist off, and she passed us, cursing up a storm as she did so. She was an elderly woman, acting this way. A nice pedestrian on the sidewalk remarked, “You just can’t win, can you?”

Oh, but we can win, and we will. It is incidents like this that show the continued need for Critical Mass, which just so happens to be tonight! And, as long as it is taking, we are getting better bicycle infrastructure in the city, starting soon.

Bikers are pissed, organized, and we’re going to stand up for ourselves. Motorists don’t have that going for them, that’s for sure.

This Time Last Year

This time last year, I was living in the Tenderloin. Peter-man was “the guy on the couch” (or the floor, or the air mattress). It was good times. I had only recently met Mags, I think about a week previously, and I had a major crush on her but I waited about another week to take action. My birthday was celebrated with Fun-yuns and Slim Jims at the Brown Jug Saloon in the Tenderloin, along with a sandwich party in Dolores Park. Last year’s celebration was a lot of fun, but I dropped the Brown Jug, kept the sandwich party, and added a small meal with a couple of guests at home for this year.

I was working at IS Logistics, and generally enjoying that. I was probably about 8 pounds lighter. Oh, and another major difference is that a year ago I had basically no savings, but that has changed drastically. I am much better with my money now.

Also one year ago I was going to school and working at the same time, both full time, which gave me three near-breakdowns. Not doing that again 🙂 I value my mental health too much.

Overall, I had a good life one year ago, and I have a better one now. I am working at EFF, living happily with Mags and two great roommates in Glen Park. I am about to move my Mom out here, and I am excited about what is going to happen on that front. Also, I am becoming more politically active, and I have made a lot of new friends.

If it is this good at 26, could it possibly get better at 27? Well, I’m not going to worry about that too much. I am just going to do what feels right.

Last Night’s Critical Mass

Last night, I met up with a couple of awesome Couch Surfers for Critical Mass. The weather was absolutely perfect. Since it was oppressively hot, by San Francisco standards, during the day, it was just pleasantly warm by 6pm when we left the ferry building.

There were a good number of us, and spirits were high, as always. Three guys had fog machines on our bike, which I initially mistook for someone’s electric assist bike catching on fire. As we rolled down Market Street, a young woman tisk-tisked us, talking about how there were more emissions because of us from the idling cars. Oh, sorry! Our fault. Because we’re the ones that drove the cars to begin with… And climate change is the only reason any of us ride…

Anyway, moving along. We went through Union Square, then down to the ballpark, where a game was getting ready to start. There were so many pedestrians that I think they could have had a critical mass of their own, if they had asserted themselves in crossing the street, that is…

At one point, I saw my good friend Derrick, all dressed up in his shirt and tie after work. I talked with him briefly and then escorted him across the road through the mass! That was funny. Another time, in SOMA, a young woman in an SUV honk-honk-honked at us, which only makes us cheer, wave, and flash the peace sign. This, of course, pissed her off even more, because – damn! – she couldn’t get under our collective skin! She flashed us the most pissed off look accompanied by two middle fingers… Even with a few annoyed people, the vast majority of the pedestrians and drivers, even, were in a celebratory mood with us, cheering and smiling, giving us high fives.

We made our way through the wiggle and then through Golden Gate Park. We ended with a perfect sunset at the beach.

All in all, this Critical Mass ride was right up there with the Halloween ride as the most fun.

It was also exactly what I needed. I found myself getting more and more bitter every day. I was thinking about politics and the negative aspects of society all the time. But Critical Mass is adding something positive instead of combating something negative, and I need to make sure I make this type of activity a mainstay of my life so I don’t get too depressed just thinking about everything else. So, I certainly have some ideas on how to bring this about, and I’ll be working on it!

Man’s Economic Motivation

This is a great quote from Karl Poyani, in The Great Transformation:

The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social assets.

This idea is central to the concept of an anarchist gift economy, and it is great to see a non-anarchist historian talk about it. I’d love to read more about research on this idea.

This is How Us Hippies Shop for a Party!

Bike Trailer Shopping!

Bike Trailer Shopping!

Yes, that is a whole box of firewood strapped to the bike trailer.

Wait, you are coming to our housewarming party tonight, right?

As I Chill on Derrick’s Couch…

Derrick is cooking in the kitchen. I got here super early, the rest of the guests will arrive in about an hour. What better opportunity to do some political blog reading?

I just subscribed to the Fire Dog Lake RSS feed today. I think I like… from today’s post, titled The Anti-Bush, Or Bush Lite?:

If Obama were a Democratic Dubya doppelganger, he would have made it clear from Day 1 that he would not settle for anything less than big wins on financial and healthcare reform, economic stimulus, and carbon emissions, and he would have used the presidential megaphone to make the case for them loudly and aggressively. He’d talk about his mandate from the American people, lean on Congress, accuse the Republicans of obstructionism, and refuse to sign any bill that was not to his liking. If he failed, so be it, but at least he’d go down swinging.

I find myself thinking to myself more and more, about Obama: I told you so (1, 2, 3, etc)

It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific.

Why I Do Not Subscribe to the Ideas of Mainstream Economics

Of course, there are other reasons, but this is probably the biggest one. It is nicely summed up in two paragraphs in the article Whirlpools and Turbulent Flows by Geoff Olson in the September/October issue of Adbusters:

David Suzuki is another skeptic and he offers a great anecdote about economic thinking. While at the University of British Columbia, Suzuki figured it would be a good idea to supplement his academic background in biology with an understanding of economics. During the first class, Suzuki’s instructor stood at the blackboard drawing lines in chalk to show the flow from the resource base into the market, with subsidiary industries adding value and creating wealth for investors.

Suzuki pointed to the side of the blackboard that was empty of equations, the resource base, and asked whether the calculations took into account the effect of human activity on the environment, the diminishing reserves and growing waste that Suzuki reasonably regarded as a cost mortgaged into the future. “That’s an externality,” the instructor responded drily. In other words, the environment is something external to the grand human workings of the market and not worth factoring in. Suzuki left the class on the spot.

Thoughts on the Chevron Protest in Richmond

I was at the protest against Chevron on Saturday in Richmond, CA, at the Richmond BART station and at the Chevron refinery. Among the various charges made on that day against Chevron:

  • Chevron has been damaging the health of Richmond residents for decades, causing major problems like asthma.
  • Chevron has been tasked by the city of Richmond with cleaning up the emissions from their refinery. Instead, they are also retrofitting their plant to be able to process dirtier crude.
  • Use of fossil fuel is a huge part of the global warming problem. As one of the most profitable corporations in the world (~$24 billion last year), Chevron is a critical piece of this.
  • Chevron has a hand in the death and exploitation of workers in oil-producing nations around the world, such as Burma
  • Chevron is an active war profiteer, processing Iraqi oil that has been stolen from the people of Iraq

This long list of charges motivated many groups to coalesce against Chevron on Saturday.

The events of Saturday were disorganized and largely ineffectual. The day started off with a music, food, booths, etc, at the Richmond BART station parking lot. There was much singing, dancing, and overall merriment. Yes, a good time, but I don’t agree with the several people who said that we were celebrating our resistance. Guess what? Protests of this kind happen very infrequently, and when they do happen, they don’t last long, and everyone goes home afterward. That’s nothing to celebrate.

I was at the protest with the Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW) “contingent,” which was basically nonexistent. From DASW, there was myself and two other people. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was also there, and I spent my time hanging out and marching with them.

We marched the 2.5 miles to the Chevron refinery where there were more speakers. Towards the end of the speakers, some commotion broke out. Thirteen courageous individuals took it upon themselves to rush around the side of the police line and into the Chevron parking lot with cleaning supplies. The cleaning supplies were to add a message of “we’re going to clean up Chevron” to their action. They then played dead in the Chevron parking lot, surrounded by cops. At this point, the mass of people moved over towards that side of the parking lot and people lined up behind the police tape. The tape eventually fell down and people inched forward a little bit. I was right up at the front, feeling more angry than scared. The cops were remarkably frightening. They were all armed with billy clubs that they had out and ready. Some had large tear gas guns. Most of the cops were absolutely huge men. There were probably about one hundred police officers in full riot gear, guarding the Chevron facilities.

A short while later, a reverend with the West County Toxics Coalition (the local folks who have been fighting Chevron for years) stepped forward closer to the police, and unable to provoke them by his advance, negotiated his arrest. At that point, Dr. Henry Clark, the leader of the West County Toxics Coalition, grabbed the bullhorn and told the crowd that we had accomplished what we had come for. This completely diffused the anger of the crowd, and the crowd slowly dispersed.

While this protest had some positive elements to it, I think it and most other protests misses the point. The point is that this isn’t a game. We shouldn’t be out just to feel good about ourselves, eat, drink, listen to music, and then go home. These issues are vitally important.

The anti-war movement and the environmental justice movement need to step up their games. These protests need to have increased seriousness and frequency. I am currently reaching out to like-minded individuals to get serious about accomplishing our goals. We are at a critical moment for our society, for us as individuals, for our communities, our country, and for the world. Let’s not mess around.

WordPress Automatic Upgrade Error

In trying to automatically upgrade WordPress to 2.8.3, I got the following error: “Missing zlib extensions”

I am using apache 2.2.11 and FreeBSD 7.1-RELEASE-p3.

To fix…
cd /usr/ports/archivers/php5-zlib
make install
apachectl restart


Posted to fix the nonexistent Google results, hopefully.


Now that everyone and their dog is hooked up to the Internet, over-the-air radio stations don’t get much ear time, especially among my demographic of young tech workers living in big cities. But I still like it for its simplicity. You hit the power button and it is on. It also isn’t as completely overtaken with utter crap like television is.

Usually the only place that many people listen to the radio is in their car, that place where audio technology lags behind the home by a good ten years. Well, thankfully, I rarely drive. And I am not about to put ear buds in when I am on my bike. No, that wouldn’t be safe 🙂

When I was in New York City last summer for a week or so, my first Couch Surfing host had a radio in her bathroom that she kept on most of the day. I had an awesome Grundig radio sitting around that I wasn’t using, so in our new place I’ve put it to use in the bathroom.

So far I have been just listening to KQED, 88.5, San Francisco’s NPR station with some of its own local programming as well. I have been getting pretty frustrated with it lately, because of problems that I already knew existed. NPR is essentially a bull horn for the government’s propaganda machine, even though they do it while attempting to sound respectable by leaving out the yelling, the majority of ads, and the fancy sound effects and gimmicks. Surely, this is an improvement over corporate TV news, but what really matters is the substance of the broadcast, and in this area they are just as bad as corporate TV news.

In multiple mentions of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have not heard talk of the civilian death toll, which is probably over a million combined, or the United States’ responsibility for this death toll. These things are by far the most important aspects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the war in Pakistan, which gets no mention). The guests interviewed or quoted for NPR’s pieces on these wars are US, Iraqi, or Afghan government and military officials, never representing or discussing the will of the people of any of these countries.

I wonder what would happen if NPR brought on Dahr Jamail, Amy Goodman, or the unthinkable – the parent of one of the countless children that had been murdered by the US war machine.

I think I will be learning how to set the station favorites on my radio and trying out KPFA and KPOO.

Update: And, of course, Pirate Cat Radio, which is what inspired this post to begin with.

Creating More of my Own Content

I realized yesterday, not for the first time, but maybe most poignantly so far, that I spend almost all of my waking hours consuming someone else’s ideas. Even in my downtime, I am often reading. In the many times per day when I have the opportunity to be occupied solely by my own thoughts, I often break out the iPhone to read emails, RSS items, or Twitter updates.

Even at work, I am implementing someone else’s software.

Sure, I do create my own things from time to time, but this creativity is not frequent enough and it is often small in scale. Posting a tweet, designing a system or network, discussing my ideas with someone… these are the kinds of things that are usually my only creative outlet.

Things I would like to do, just off the top of my mind, are blogging, journal writing, meditation, building a bike trailer, contributing to open-source software projects, and DJing.

Hopefully these thoughts of mine will mean more posts here 🙂

What Is Wrong With Our Culture?

What is it about our culture that makes us care so much about one dead pop star, and so little about so many others? Why do you have to go back two hours on Twitter to get twenty mentions of the Uyghurs, but you only have to go back one minute (!) to get twenty mentions of Michael Jackson?

Twice today I counted the occurrences of the word “Jackson” on The first reading caught twenty-seven instances. The second reading caught twenty instances. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China/Uyghurs got one mention each at most, and all mentions were pushed down to a much less prominent part of the page.

Our mass media is broken in that it promotes insignificant stories and neglects extremely important stories. It is also broken in that the stories themselves are filled with propaganda. But the mass media isn’t the only thing that is broken. Our culture is broken in that, when people go to and see it plastered with “MICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSON” they don’t have a mental gag reflex that says, “What the hell is this? I came to this website to see the news, not this crap. Surely there is a better source of news. I am going to go look for that source right NOW.”

What is it that causes this blatant disregard for the rest of the world, the significant things that are occurring in this world, the horrible injustices that are being carried out, many of them in our names?


“How does it become a man to behave towards this American government to-day? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.” – Thoreau

Better Money Management

For the first time in my life, really, I am being smart with my money. There are many factors contributing to this, but I think the key recently has been frequent and small transfers to pay off debt and into savings.

What I have been doing is every few days I’ll log into my credit union’s website and look at my checking account balance. If I notice that I have breathing room, which I almost always have, then I’ll make a transfer into my savings or pay off some debt. Previously I would get paid and be overly ambitious on putting money into savings or paying off debt, and only do it once per month. So what would happen is I would run out of money in my checking and either have to put money on a credit card or empty out my savings again. Now what I have been doing is when I get paid, I still put in a larger amount of money. But this time it might be $125 to pay off debt and $125 in savings. Three days later I might log back in and put another $50 in savings. Getting close to the next paycheck I’ll see that I have plenty of money left in savings and maybe transfer out another $100 or $200.

This gives me a better idea at all times of how much I have. I also am good at thinking of the next several days of expenses but not good at thinking of a whole month’s expenses at once.

Also to prevent taking money out of savings I try to keep at least $200 in my checking account at all times. The only time when it should get this low, anyway, is right before my next paycheck. And anything that needs more money than this can easily wait an extra couple of days.

I’ve also made it much harder for myself to borrow money. Probably about a year ago I canceled my two credit cards, having paid them and another loan off with a debt consolidation loan. So I haven’t borrowed any new money in this time. I only have this and one other loan to pay off currently, the smaller of which should be paid off in the next two or three months.

By the time I get this smaller loan paid off, I should also be pretty close to having three months of living expenses in savings, which is my short-term goal. In this case, any extra money I have will be able to go into my debt consolidation loan, which will make it easy to pay this off very quickly.

I should make a small point. As personal preference, and after seeing it suggested in at least two places, I’ve decided that a good strategy is to pay off smaller loans first even when they have slightly smaller interest rates. Certainly if it was 12% vs 19%, I’d pay off the 19% first. But in my case, twice now I’ve chosen to pay off a loan that was .5% to 1% lower interest rate first. The reason for this is this makes it less to worry about, less to manage, and less chance for late fees and such. Better for my peace of mind 🙂

I’m very excited to be debt-free. But I also get excited each time I pay off more of a loan or put more money into my savings. It feels really good. Once I am debt-free (hopefully in about a year), all of my extra money will go into savings. I don’t intend on working eight hours a day, five days per week my whole life (at least, not for someone else), and being able to consistently save money while I am working will allow me to live off of these savings for months or years at a time while doing something that isn’t making me a ton of money. Like school full-time. Or going on a cross-country bicycle trip. Or traveling the world (frugally, of course). Or spending my days reading and writing (self education). Or finally starting to write that video game that I’ve wanted to write. The possibilities are endless, and the decisions that I made today, and day-to-day will help me realize any number of these things more fully and for longer periods of time.

You might be asking yourself why I would choose to not have any credit cards. Having a small number of credit cards in good standing and with a balance of about 40% (I think) of its limit can help your credit score. Well, I try to think of things in terms of risk/reward. In my case, the risk of having a credit card was higher than the reward of a higher credit score. After I am completely debt-free, I will worry more about improving my credit score. As it stands, my credit score is good and landlords in Mags and my recent apartment search have been eager to have us as tenants due to our credit scores. So it isn’t a huge concern right now.

Of course, you can’t save or pay off debt unless your expenditures are much less than your earnings. I am comfortable with my earnings. Comfortable enough that I have recently turned down an opportunity to greatly increase my earnings (because I love my current job). As far as expenditures, I have cut down on them significantly since I moved to the city. When I first moved here, I had a one-bedroom apartment in Russian Hill. I had a car, too. I didn’t really think about how much I was spending and why. Now, I am splitting my studio apartment with Mags (in the Tenderloin), I don’t have a car, and in many other ways I am spending less just by constantly being aware of how much I am spending, if I could get the same thing for less somehow, and if I really even want or need what I am buying. It certainly helps that I enjoy my more frugal lifestyle more than my more extravagant one, even if you were to ignore the money aspect. I avoid driving as much as I can as it tends to stress me out and make me depressed. The driving, suburban lifestyle was, after all, the primary reason why I escaped the Maryland suburbs. I also enjoy communal living, and too much space equals too much stuff and too much clutter, which also depresses me. So it all works out well in this case.

Of course, it has taken me too long to get smart with money, but it could have taken a lot longer or never happened, as happens with a lot of people, so I feel fortunate of where I now stand.

Atlas Shrugged: Worst Book Ever

Spoiler Alert: Don’t read past this point if you’re planning on reading this book.

Also, a warning: this blog post is only slightly less disjointed than Atlas Shrugged. I am just going through point by point the complaints that I have with this book.

Well it only took me about four months, but I finally and begrudgingly finished Atlas Shrugged. Clocking in at 1,070 agonizing pages, with tiny type, it was a pain to read. I wanted to read it because it is such an influential book, especially for many neocons.

The “heroes” were not heroes at all. What kind of hero simply gives up and lets their world go down the drain? That is what all of the characters have done when they went on strike. This is what they have done when the acquiesce to a corrupt government. This is what they have done when they refuse to actively and effectively fight back. How is John Galt a hero when he tells the President that he will say anything and do anything that he is ordered to do? He is presented as a hero because he says he won’t volunteer to do what he is ordered to do.

For a book that has at its core the concepts of reality, reason, and logic, Atlas Shrugged remarkably lives in a fantasy world. Sure, the setting is the United States. But it isn’t the United States that exists anywhere outside of Ayn Rand’s head (and maybe some neocons, too).

Somewhere in the book someone is describing the hard work and honesty that the United States was founded on. Give me a break. The United States was founded on dead Indians, dead African slaves, indentured servants, exploited workers, racism, sexism, and other forms of exploitation. Ayn Rand would have done well to take a decent history class.

Rand would have us believe that when a few dozen industrialists disappear, the world descends into chaos. I contend that if the leading industrialists disappeared, we would live in a slightly better world. (Only slightly, because there would be people to replace the disappeared industrialists. This new stock would be slightly worse at exploiting people for profit, hence, a slightly better world.)

Rand also would have us believe that socialism is akin to zero productivity. What would she say today when presented with some European states that are much more socialistic than the United States and still productive? What would she say when presented with countless cooperative businesses, such as Rainbow Grocery here in San Francisco? What did she say about the anarchism that was successful in Spain during the Spanish Civil War?

Another problem with Rand’s argument is that she has no concept and no mention of externalities – the concept that people don’t always pay for the negative effects that they have on society. The cost of these effects are not reflected in the price of their products or the price of doing business. An example would be a power plant that sickens the surrounding community, such as in Richmond, California, and doesn’t have to pay for the resulting medical bills. In fact, several times in the book, Rand describes disasters that happened to the Taggart Railroad. Many people died in these disasters, but there was no implication that their families were compensated. In fact, it was implied that it was the fault of the socialists that the accident happened. Well, guess what? No matter who creates the unsafe conditions for a railroad, you can’t just run the train anyway. The “heroes” were essentially taking the same position as the villains without actually saying it: the position of “It couldn’t be helped! It’s not my fault!”

Yet another disgusting part of the book was when Hank Rearden’s family was begging him to not let them starve in the coming economic collapse. Letting your mother starve is evidently OK she has disrespected you. Eye for an eye, right?

I would have liked Atlas Shrugged a lot more if it had at least partially represented the opposing argument. Instead, this book was the worst misrepresentation of an opposing argument that I have ever read. The left was portrayed as “looters” who only stole the productivity of others. The leftist characters in the book never attempted to present a credible philosophy, supposedly because they had no philosophy. They were portrayed as being the worst kind of nihlists.

The absolutely most grueling part of the book to get through was the 70-page rant by John Galt. It was rambling, incoherent, poorly written, and disorganized. I did manage to get through it, skimming part of it.

All of the characters were portrayed as pure good or pure evil; there is no inbetween. It takes a remarkable lack of creativity to write a book with completely interchangeable characters.

At one point, a train explodes in a tunnel. Rand painstakingly goes through the passenger list, describing how dozens of people were part of the leftist problem that she sees. She implied that those who died in the crash deserved to die. This included children. Ayn Rand really must have been an awful person.

At the end of the book, the judge adds an amendment to the constitution saying that business is a fundamental right. A clause such as this in reality would ruin the environment and destroy the lives of workers.

Ayn Rand is a wanna-be great philosopher. I think she has deluded herself into thinking that her theories must be true due to a world that she sees as black and white, ones and zeroes. Unfortunately, her theories only work in the fantasy worlds that she creates. I find myself thinking this a lot about different people (mostly people, I suppose, who buy into Rand’s BS, like Dick Cheney et. al.): I wish I could see Noam Chomsky debate Ayn Rand.

Portland Part Two, Hawaii Part One

This’ll be a quick update; it is getting to be bed time.

Some interesting things happened in Portland. Mags and I were supposed to stay, for nights two and three, with a couchsurfer who had previously stayed with me in San Francisco. We got to the place and it was a complete wreck. Horrible smell from the cat and dog, an old cooked turkey on the kitchen counter, a huge trashcan full of empty beer bottles/cans, a deflated air mattress that meant we got to sleep on the floor. We stuck it out for that one night but then we got the hell out of there as soon as we could. Our first host invited us back for night three. Staying with him was great. Him and his roommates were so awesome. Family-style meals every night there and great conversation.

There were also some highlights, though, from the rest of the Portland trip. The day that I escaped early from the filthy apartment I needed to destress, so I spent most of the day local. Burger/beer and coffee shop until dinner, when we met up with an old friend of Mags’ for sushi and arcade games. On Sunday I mostly made it my mission to make a second trip to Powell’s books. I also got the joy of riding my rental bike in the freezing rain.

We got to Hawaii on Monday morning after an overnight layover in San Francisco. We had lunch in the North Shore area, then came home, napped, and made dinner (mmm, fish with mango salsa). The kids are calling me pop pop because of my beard.

Yesterday we went to the beach and then watched about four episodes of Heroes. Pretty relaxed time here 🙂

We’d also like to go to a luau, go on a hike, and explore Honolulu. Adios!

Portland Part One

Mags and I woke up at the break of…well actually at the break of nothing. We woke up at 4:30am. We BARTed it to the airport and I promptly slept through the entire flight to Portland.

The first pleasant surprise in Portland was that the light rail picks you up right outside of baggage claim. We made it to our wonderful host’s house that he shares with three roommates and then went out to a wonderful pho lunch.

Mags and I then headed to City Bikes Cooperative to rent a couple of bikes. Nice folks there. I think I have been in four co-ops in Portland now. It is a welcome sight.

We took our bikes along the east and west banks of the Willamette River on the Esplanade, which is a walk- and bike-friendly area mostly consisting of separated pathways. Some of the views were really beautiful. A few places that we stopped:
Umpqua Ice Cream: had some delicious spumoni ice cream
The Aerial Tram: Super-futuristic looking gondola thing that takes you quickly up a hill to some university hospital. Beautiful views. If only we had thought to take our bikes up there so we could ride them back down…
Shareit Square: Some residents completely redid an intersection, painting the roadway and setting up little tables and benches on each of the four corners, including a free tea station and a free book exchange station, both unattended.

It is nice biking in Portland. Throughout the whole of yesterday and so far today, I haven’t been honked at ONCE.

Last night, our wonderful host cooked for us. Mags went to bed, and then our host and I went our bar hopping along Alberta Street. Fun times.

Today, Mags is in her Physical Therapy class so I am on my own. I started by getting some hippie-dippie breakfast which was delicious. I then went to an Army Navy surplus store where I got four shirts for $22. Already feeling hungry again, I went to Hot Lips Pizza for some good pizza and some great blackberry soda that they make themselves. Now I am at the Red and Black Cafe, a worker-owned and -managed cafe in the Southeast. Today is my southeast day.

Other stops today were a nice co-op grocery store and a computer place that refurbishes/repurposes used computers and puts them to good use. It is volunteer run.

Tonight Mags and I are heading to our next host’s place. This guy stayed with me in San Francisco for a week so it’ll be good to see him again.

Adios, loyal readers!


Tomorrow morning, I will be leaving for a much-needed vacation. Mags and I are going first to Portland until Sunday, and then we are off to Hawaii on Monday until April 5, to see Tim, Kelly, and their two boys. I can’t wait!

New Job at the EFF

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.

Time for Another Turbo Diet and Exercise Program!

So I officially gained about ten pounds in maybe a little over a month. Unacceptable.

It’s time for another turbo diet and exercise program!

This one is for serious. By the end of it I want to be “carved out of wood,” as señor Peter so aptly put it (as also heard in Fight Club). I hope to get to “carved out of wood” status in maybe a little over two months. Here is my plan:

The main component of my plan will be exercise. Three days per week I will be going on a long-distance run. I am currently planning on this being a twelve-mile run, which is actually two miles more than I have ever run. But I am confident I can do it (especially with the sweet new kicks that I just got). The other three days per week, the main two components will be a calisthenics workout that my buddy showed me a while back (and almost made me puke the first time I did it) along with the one hundred push ups program. Sundays will either be a day of rest or a fun exercise day – basketball, bike ride, whatever. Since Monday, Wednesday, and Friday consist of little more than thirty minutes of exercise, I’d likely mix in some bike riding, walking, a short run, or some pilates on these days as well.

I am going to start out my diet in a non-strict way. Having said that, I will aim in general to eat better but I am not going to wholly restrict myself to start. I think my staples will be yogurt with granola, eggs with oatmeal, Clif Builder bars, and stir fry.

But one concept that worked well in the past was the idea of punishment. So, I’ve got my weight-tracking spreadsheet going again. If I am above a weight goal on a certain morning, then I have to cut something out of my diet for the remainder of the program. If I miss a day of exercise, same punishment. Things that would be cut out would/could be: sweets, cheese, alcohol, red meat, all land meat, all meat and fried things.

Anyhow, I am excited to get started! On another note, I am going to be sore as hell by the end of this week! 🙂

How to Make a Soda Can Stove

I really love well-put-together, informative and complete tutorials like this. I want to try this soon. Maybe in a few weeks I will put one together.

How to make a soda can stove:

How To Make A Soda Can Stove
by bicycletouringpro

My Transportation Evolution

Since living in San Francisco, I have changed as a person in at least a few ways. I have changed in terms of my outlook on life, but, more concretely, I have changed several aspects of my lifestyle. Today I’m going to talk about transportation – how I get from place to place.

The early days: car
I arrived in San Francisco with a 1994 Lexus ES300. It was an incredibly smooth ride, the car was fast, and it looked nice. After getting a raise at work I decided to buy a new car and ended up with a 2006 Honda Civic Si. This might have been my favorite car that I have ever owned. It was sporty-looking and did 0-60 in 6.9 seconds with a manual transmission. But I soon realized how foolish it was to have a car in the city, mostly because of the cost. I paid $300/month for parking (which was probably unnecessary), $300/month in car payments (again, unnecessary – there was no reason I needed anything better than a 15-year-old Civic), $150/month in insurance and $50/month in gas. So several months after buying the car, I sold it. Great move.

Pros: speed of arrival (to most places), convenience in some situations.
Cons: cost, environmental concerns, lack of convenience in most other cases, lack of exercise as part of a lifestyle, difficulty in finding parking, stress while driving, stress when worrying about maintenance, the dividing effects that private transit has on our culture, encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, danger to myself, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists. I didn’t think there were this many cons when I first started thinking about this post, but now that I started typing it, it almost seems as though I am missing some cons.

I ditch the car: bus
After ditching my car, I took a bus most places that were more than a dozen or so blocks. This was fine but I still was irrationally averse to more physical exertion.

Pros: very inexpensive (a Fast Pass is only $45 per month), proximity to other people.
Cons: unreliability of MUNI, lack of exercise as part of a lifestyle, not as fast as a bike.

I get on my feet
At the beginning of 2007, I think it was January 2, I stepped on the scale and it read 198.5. From that moment I was determined to lose weight. Part of the strategy, besides diet and non-lifestyle exercise (that is, exercise for the sake of exercise) was to walk to work every day. I lived two miles away from work and this couldn’t have been a better decision. Sure, on lazy days I would take the bus. But I would say that four out of five days I would walk, both ways. What a beautiful walk it was, too. I started in Russian Hill then walked through Nob Hill and a little bit of the Tenderloin before arriving in north-eastern SOMA. If you’ve never walked through Russian Hill and Nob Hill, I encourage you to do so.

I found that I genuinely enjoyed walking. So I started walking most places that were within two or three miles.
Pros: lifestyle exercise, more intimately discovering the neighborhoods, fresh air, more energy.
Cons: usually slightly slower than the bus (but really only slightly), not as fast as a bike.

Penelope and I meet
I had been wanting a bike for a while and finally got one in mid August of this year. Her name is Penelope and she is green and covered with stickers. This has completely revolutionized how I get places. It has also changed my daily lifestyle. I feel in tune with the “biker culture.” I go to critical mass, I roll my right pant leg up. I’m fit, in shape, feel great when I get off the bike, feel great when I am speeding down a giant hill. In short, I am in love with biking. I’ll take my bike on pretty much any trip. I ride it on two or three round trips to school every week, which is about eight miles each way. The ride to and from school actually ranges from a little faster to a little slower than taking MUNI. Of course on the way there I need to factor in time to stop sweating and change clothes.

Biking sometimes requires a lot of planning ahead: Do you need/have a change of shirt? Do you have an appropriate route mapped out that doesn’t involve hills or highways? Can you bring your bike inside of where you are going, or onboard the train or bus that you are riding? But generally it is incredibly convenient; you just hop on, ride out, and lock the thing up right outside of your destination.

Just last night, Peter-man and I took an exhilarating ride out to 46th and Taraval, got a couple of beers at Riptide, and then rode back. We got to the bar all sweaty, but I didn’t really care. Biking has given me a new outlook on sweat; I don’t mind being sweaty anymore. It’s a very human thing to do.
Pros: lifestyle exercise, faster than almost any form of transit for medium-length trips, inclusion in a common culture, exhilaration from the ride
Cons: sweating, bicycle maintenance, potential for becoming a splatter mark on someone’s windshield

My next form of transit? Probably teleporting.

Inadvertent Advertisement for Chris Daly

I wonder if the folks who made this ad realized that they are giving people like me no reason to not vote for these “cronies.” I am represented by Chris Daly in City Hall, and he isn’t up for re-election this time, so this ad doesn’t apply to me anyway. I just find it funny.

Nader Poster

I love this Ralph Nader poster. It is a nice change from the BS Barrack Obama propaganda “Change” or “Hope” poster.

Some More Thoughts

Some random rumblings from my gray matter recently:

– I’d like to go on a cross-country bike trip after I graduate. And not just a fast-as-you-can straight shot from San Francisco to Baltimore. More of a San Francisco to Fresno to San Diego to Flagstaff to Phoenix to Austin to Houston to New Orleans to Key West to Atlanta to Baltimore with 25 more destinations in between. And stopping for extended periods to get involved in local social justice movements or to read or to soak up some rays or anything else that floats my boat. And maybe go back and forth and all around a few times. Lots of camping and lots of couch surfing. Anyway, this idea has been occupying much of my thought for the past couple of weeks.

– School has really started to ramp up. I am unbelievably stressed and busy but I am somehow still doing well. I really don’t understand how.

– I am currently reading How Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos. I can’t say that I am completely convinced by some of the things he says but it is interesting and generally well-argued nonetheless. I might try to tap out a whole book review after I am finished.


What I’ve Been Up To

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…

Patrick Citroni

Patrick Citroni, my brother Rich’s campaign manager, died yesterday at the young age of 29 in a tragic motorcycle accident. Rich had the following to say about Patrick (full post here):

His energy, passion and sincere belief in our cause, was not just boundless, but it was also infectious to everyone surrounding him. At 29 years Patrick had discovered a sincere passion and skill for politics.

I read this post on the way to work from school today. It really hit me like a ton of bricks. I had met Patrick twice and I could tell that beyond being an energetic, bright and skillful political worker he was a genuinely nice guy and a pleasure to be around. I’ll certainly miss him.

After taking some time to collect my thoughts I read an article about a US raid on an Iraqi village in which eight members of one family, all innocent, were killed. A connection was made between Patrick’s death and the deaths of the Iraqi family for me. Rich’s campaign, and this speaks for Patrick as well, is against the war in Iraq. Iraq also happens to be the issue that I am most passionate about.

I am sure Patrick would not want us to simply go on with our normal lives, not putting forth any extra effort towards ending the war. With one less brave soul counteracting American imperialism and its extraordinarily high human costs, that means that we all have to step it up. Take what we are doing right now and add to it. For Patrick. For the innocent Iraqis.


I’ve launched a new blog, From the first post:

This site has been born out of my frustration in finding a centralized place to locate information on drum and bass in San Francisco. I intend first and foremost to make this a place where you can find and answer to the question: Are there any dnb events in the city tonight/tomorrow/this weekend?

Also I intend to post reviews of shows and clubs that I go to. Stay tuned. The first event I will be going to is this Saturday 9/20 at Underground SF: Bassism

Large Hadron Collider Rap

Thanks to Joyce for showing me this one. Spectacular and educational.

A Humorous Way to End a Shitty Day

As you saw earlier I got a flat tire this morning on my bike. Not a good way to start my day. After class today I discovered a $70 parking ticket on the City Carshare car. This was because I forgot to put the parking voucher thing in the dash – I had paid for the whole day but they didn’t know that. So overall my flat tire cost me at least $150.

So I get home and for the first time in a while I am looking at my blog’s statistics. There, I notice that there have been 0 visits and 27 hits from an…eyebrow blog. (Jesus, they really have a blog for everything, don’t they?) 0 visits and >1 hits usually means that someone is using an image on my site. So I follow the link and…


My eyebrows are the feature picture on a post talking about how more men should thin their eyebrows! Hahahaha. I think that is hilarious.

Since they are using the image off of my site without the courtesy to ask (just as a politeness thing, I don’t care about the law on it), I have taken the opportunity to update the picture with a barely legible note.

Cycling Woes

It was great bicycling weather: cool and overcast (so I don’t sweat). At Valencia and 24th I got a flat. I noticed some glass earlier and tried to avoid it but it seems I wasn’t able to. Sure enough, pulled a piece of glass out of my tire.

I left the apartment with plenty of time to spare and I had just packed my bag with maintenance stuff: needle nose pliers, inner tube, pump, pressure gauge. So I go to replace the inner tube. It seems that the person and Valencia Cyclery did not sell me the correct size. That was a very annoying and costly mistake. Thankfully I was right at a City Carshare pod location. I reserved a Prius for the whole day and off I went. Of course this was not all great as it will end up costing me over $60 just for the car.

And now I get to go to Ocean Cyclery during lunch time to get the correct size inner tubes. Maybe have them install it for me and show me the correct procedure to do so.

Moral of the story: I don’t often get pissed. But the person that shattered glass in the street really pissed me off. And to a less extent the person at Valencia Cyclery that sold me the wrong size tube pissed me off too. Something else that pissed me off? The automated phone reservation system that City Carshare uses.

Update: The inner tube was not too big. It turns out (surprise!) that I just didn’t know how to put it on correctly.

Police Brutality in Denver

As some of you may know, the Democratic National Convention is currently ongoing in Denver. Sounds like a great reason for a protest.

So far, over 100 people have been arrested. I have been following the progress on Colorado Indymedia and on Submedia. Keep in mind that both of these sources are openly pro-anarchist/activist. But the videos, they don’t lie.

Took a Nasty Spill

I was having a great bike ride this morning from my apartment to SFSU and back. It looks like it will take about 40 minutes each way.

On the way back, I was going eastbound on Market Street, wanting to go left onto 7th St. So I started to get over. I tried to go diagonal over the street car tracks. I made it over the first one fine, but the second one, my front tire decided it wanted to align itself into the track. Down I went. OUCH. I banged up my left leg and scraped my left elbow. I got up pretty quickly and walked across the street into UN Plaza. Then something weird happened. My hearing was pretty much shot for about a minute. After that I was fine. I think my body was just like “What the hell just happened?”

As of now my leg hurts but I am sure it will be OK. And I will have some nasty scabs on my elbow.

The bike is mostly OK. I just have to put the chain back on and straighten the handlebar.

Last Weekend of Every Month

For the last Friday of every month: San Francisco Critical Mass
For the last Saturday of every month: Really Really Free Market

Monitored and Recorded

I just got a call on the super secret Stuphone in the closet. It was AT&T.

att: Hi my name is suchandsuch and I’m calling from AT&T.
me: OK
att: The purpose of this call is to ensure that you are receiving the best possible service from AT&T.
me: OK
att: This call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes.
me: But I don’t want to be monitored and recorded.
att: Well it is just for quality purposes.
me: Is this a necessary call?
att: It is necessary to ensure you’re receiving the best possible service.
me: But it’s not necessary. And I don’t want to be monitored and recorded. So we should end the call.
att: Oh. Whatever. *click*

Funny how some people can’t comprehend that you don’t want to be recorded when they call you.

A Lot Has Been Accomplished

In the 26 hours since I got back from New York, I have: joined the YMCA, purchased a sweet road bike, canceled a credit card, paid more money to SFSU so I can sign up for more classes and fixed a billing problem with City Carshare.


Trip to New York, Day 6

Yesterday was not as much of a success as the previous days. It started off pretty well. I headed out to The Bronx, where I made Tino’s Delicatessen my destination. Of course I walked around the neighborhood some too, and I liked what I saw. There were a lot of people out on the streets. I also liked the unique, tall brick residential buildings. My sandwich at the deli was spot on.

After dodging the rain a bit, I made my way to the Upper East Side in Manhattan. There, I visited a ridiculously overpriced cafe called Via Quadronno. I just had a latte and some gelato, both of which were pretty good, and it kept the cost down. I dodged some more rain drops and got on the subway to head to Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan’s East Village. My purpose for going here was to attend an anarchist meeting. I was sorely disappointed and discouraged that no one showed up for the meeting.

From there, I walked, which was stupid of me because of the rain, to Revival where there was a CouchSurfing event. I met some nice people and I met some bizarre people. But it was fun. I also got a “I Couch NY” shirt, where the couch is a graphic instead of a word – a spoof on the “I Heart NY” shirts. After this I headed back to the place in Brooklyn. I stayed up all night doing laundry, packing my stuff and talking. At about 5:30am I made my way to the bus stop, where I caught a bus to Boston, which is where I am right now. I’m looking forward to my two days here.

Trip to New York, Day 5

I am not in much of a writing mood today so this may be a bit short. But I can always update it later.

I started the day yesterday by bumming around Chinatown for a bit. Nothing too exciting. Then I met up with the Harlem couch surfer for lunch; I feel much better about the situation from the other night even though it still doesn’t make much sense. We had some pretty good Vietnamese food.

He recommended to me that I go to Bluestockings book store, so I trekked over there. I believe I actually fell in love with the book store. My love for it might be equivalent to my love for City Lights. I picked up a few books and a t-shirt for myself and a friend.

After that, I walked back to Chinatown and got a massage. It was the first paid massage I’ve ever had and it was awesome. Only $21 for 31 minutes too. I might go back today.

I then walked over to Greenwich Village in a post-massage daze to meet people for pizza and gelato. Both were tasty and delicious. The normal activity of having a few drinks at a bar followed in unspectacular fashion, but we still had good conversation of course. Back to the Bushwich loft we went to hang out on the rooftop again.

Yesterday was a good day. Today I hope to go somewhere in Brooklyn, maybe a more relaxed day to do some reading. Tonight there is an anarchist meeting I will go to.

Trip to New York, Day Four

Yesterday was a bit more relaxed than day three. As noted previously, I woke up on a couch that was too small for me. Not having a remarkably comfy bed to sink into, I woke up early, at about 9am, considering that I went to sleep at about 6am. The other three people in the apartment slept surprisingly late! Not that I minded. It gave me plenty of time to write on here and Yelp.

Once people were up and about at about 2:30pm, we went across the street to Tasty Thai, which was remarkably lacking in the taste department, at least for my red curry dish. My friend and I then made our way to 5 Pointz, a huge building covered in some excellent graffiti. I took pictures, of course. That was neat but there is only so long you can look at something.

Unfortunately we had our bags with us which was a little bit of a pain, but we forged onward nonetheless. The next stop was Strand Book Store near Union Square. This is a spectacular place with mostly used books but also rare books and discounted new ones. I picked up a book called The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse for 48 cents. The text from the back is as follows:

A boy named Jack sets out to seek his fortune in the big city, but when he finally gets there, it is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town. There is a serial killer loose upon the streets. One by one, the old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being brutally slaughtered. The Toy City police are getting nowhere. Bill Winkie, Private Eye, has also mysteriously vanished, leaving only his sidekick, Eddie Bear, to take care of business. But Eddie is ready, and when he teams up with Jack, the two set out on an epic adventure, not to mention a lot of heavy drinking, bad behavior, fast car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, bizarre toy fetishism and all-round grossness of a type not normally associated with Toy Town.

It sounds like an enthralling read.

We didn’t browse for as long as I would have liked to, on account of the bags and also the fact that we had to get to our respective sleeping locations. But that didn’t stop us from first dropping by Coffee Bar, which I can’t find a link for, for a couple of drinks and some cheese fries.

Off I went to the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn. I arrived at this spectacular old building that was now being used as housing in the form of lofts. The naked guy was indeed there, but everyone else was clothed. Honestly it didn’t really bother me. He was otherwise a pretty normal guy. After a few hours of rooftop revelry, I went to sleep on a sleeping bag located on the floor. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I would have imagined, but certainly not that comfortable either! Joining me in the loft were four people that actually lived there and six other couch surfers, if I am counting correctly. I like it here. It is a very festive and communal environment. I’ll be here for the next two nights as well.

Today I am going to probably get lunch with the guy that ditched me in Harlem the other night; I really don’t think he meant to so I won’t hold it against him. And then I want to check out Revolution Books. For dinner I am meeting people in Brooklyn for pizza. After that is open.

I am still having a great time.

Trip to New York, Day Three

Well yesterday was an interesting day.

It started off calm enough. I did my laundry and then headed to Cafe Nijasol around the corner to get something to eat. Nothing special, but it was a good way to start my day. After saying goodbye to my CouchSurfing host, with the hopes that we’ll hang out again, I headed back into Manhattan.

My first goal of the day was to go back to the library near Times Square, since it was closed on Sunday. What a beautiful building it was. And the reading room was great – huge, painted ceiling and rows and rows of nice wooden tables. Surely a good place to read. But what do people usually read? Books, magazines and newspapers. This library was sorely lacking in all three. I had anticipated that I would be browsing for at least a couple of hours. This was obviously not possible. I kid you not, this gigantic library had a lack of things to read. It is an understatement to say I was disappointed.

From there I walked to the now somewhat famous Apple store near Central Park. The motivation for doing so was because I had left my iPhone charger at home, and this would be a problem now that I wasn’t staying with someone that had an iPhone. But also I figured I would pick that particular Apple store since it was rather unique – it is a glass cube above ground and you walk underground to actually shop. It is also open 24 hours per day. The inside was absolutely ridiculous. Surely it wasn’t very large. But people were packed like sardines in there. I have a couple of pictures which I will post later. Well, I was glad I saw it but it was time to go.

From there I want down to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, where I was told I might be able to find some interesting characters that would fit in with my mission of exploring New York’s activist side. Well, I didn’t find the bicycle messengers that supposedly hung out here, which seemed appropriate considering that they usually hang out in a financial district during the middle of the day. But after sitting for a little bit I noticed a guy in an anarchist shirt. I didn’t actually talk to him, but when another fellow he was hanging out with came over and asked me what someone else had said to me (he was referring to a young lady trying to give me a sushi menu), I followed up by making some inquiries into the activist community. Actually I specifically asked him if he knew of any troublemakers, in a good way, that I could talk to. We talked for a little bit and he gave me a name and a number to call.

I took the name and number and made my way to Manitoba’s, right around the corner from the park. There I engaged in such activities as drinking beer, reading (currently Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto), conversation, watching TV and charging my iPhone. There were two things worth noting here. The first thing, which doesn’t imply a greater importance over the second thing, was that I had something called, I think, Pennant Ale. It was good. Secondly, I asked the bartender a similar question that I had asked the man in the park. And although he said he wasn’t involved in politics, he gave me the same name that the man in the park gave me. I will be calling this mysterious man, maybe try to buy him lunch and pick his brain.

Now it was time to head to Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant in Greenwich Village where I met up with a friend and two of her friends. The food was good but the service really brought down the experience for us. We moved next door to MacDougal Street Ale House, an unspectacular bar where we had a good time. Although they did have Magic Hat #9, which remains my favorite beer. Unfortunately it isn’t sold on the west coast.

Here comes the interesting part. I had invited my CouchSurfing host to dinner with us. He had accepted originally and then canceled, saying he was too tired. So far, no problem. I asked him what time I should be to his apartment by, and he told me by 1am would be fine. At 1am I had arrived at his apartment in Harlem. I called twice. I rang the buzzer twice. No answer. I decided not to hang around for too long, especially since I was carrying my crammed bookbag, which made me look out of place. So I headed to Popeye’s where I could sit for a little while to give this guy a chance to call. I was eating chicken that I wasn’t hungry for at 1:30am in Harlem. Meanwhile, I sent a text message to my friend letting her know what is going on. The guy didn’t call and my friend said that I could stay with her CouchSurfing host. So I headed back to Greenwich Village. The bars here are open until 4am. Darts were played.

At probably around 3:30am we get in a cab to head to the host’s place, which is in New Jersey. Evidently there was a misunderstanding on what the cab fare would be, because we were quoted at $85 before we left. So we declined. The cabbie was very nice about it…The two other people we were with offered for us to stay at their place. Very nice of them. After a long subway ride, we arrived at their apartment in Queens. Amazingly, we stayed up until 6am discussing literature. Or, at least they discussed it. I didn’t chime in very much; literature isn’t exactly my strong point. In any case, I slept on a couch that was too small for me, sleeping in the sitting up position that I fell asleep in for a while, before switching to a legs-on-the-arm-rest position. Not the most comfortable sleep but amazingly I awoke today feeling pretty refreshed.

All in all it ended pretty well considering that I got ditched by my host. I am trying to figure out what to do in terms of a bad reference or whatnot. This morning he text messaged me asking me what happened last night, as if couldn’t tell that he slept through my calls and buzzes. I responded telling him that I called and I buzzed, and he seemed to think it was strange that he missed it, claiming to have been awake until 2:30am. But he did confirm that he saw the missed calls on his phone. Anyway, it is annoying, but I am still alive so it is OK!

Here’s to hoping the rest of my trip will be just as interesting as yesterday was, hopefully without the whole being ditched in Harlem at 1am part.

Trip to New York, Day Two

I had a great time yesterday. I started off by seeking out some lunch. On Yelp I found Ganni’s Pizza. It had good ratings but it was a bit of a letdown. The sauce sucked. But it’s OK, I only got one slice.

From there I went to Brownstoner’s Brooklyn Flea Market. Lots of neat stuff there, but I didn’t buy anything. Well, I did stand in a giant line a buy a taco. And a tamarind drink. Delicious.

On the walk from the apartment to the pizza place and the pizza place to the flea market, I walked through some neighborhoods that had a large Hasidic Jewish population. Something you’re not going to run into in San Francisco, as far as I know.

From the flea market, I hopped on the subway and headed over to the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn side. I walked across the bridge, which was nice. I am currently uploading the pictures; I’ll put some up later. (Update: photo added below)

When I got into Manhattan I decided to check out the main library, which was conveniently very close to Grand Central Station, which I also wanted to see. Unfortunately, the library is closed on Sundays during the summer. This was a real shame as there were actually about a dozen people sitting outside of the front door of the library, reading. I am sure they would have rather been inside. I am planning on going back to the library today.

The library may have been closed, but I still wanted to read. So I hopped on Yelp and found Universal News and Cafe. The newspaper and magazine selection was better than anything I have seen in San Francisco. I picked up a few things and then got back on the subway. I met up with Greg in the DUMBO neighborhood. We headed over to an all-organic restaurant, the name of which escapes me at the moment. From there we went to the Lower East Side in Manhattan, near NYU, where we had a surprisingly difficult time finding a bar. But find one we did. Of course I don’t remember the name of that place either. But I do remember that we drank Brooklyn Lager, which was delicious. I have had some really good beer so far on this trip.

From there I headed back to Brooklyn to my host’s apartment. This morning I am just doing a bit of laundry and, obviously, writing. Unfortunately it is raining right now. Tonight I will be staying in Harlem. Onward!

Trip to New York, Day One

So far, so good.

After a late night Friday night, I got approximately two hours of sleep in my clothes and with the light on (I find it easier to wake up if it feels like I was just napping). Hopped on the airport shuttle, which sucked because it is more expensive than BART, which wasn’t running that early. The flight was unremarkable but comfortable, considering I was in the back row where my seat wouldn’t go back all the way. I flew Virgin America, which I had been wanting to do, but really they are pretty much like all the other airlines despite the hype. They did have purple mood lighting, which both didn’t put me in a purple mood and also was a little bit annoying. Some of the features on the seat-back display weren’t implemented yet, such as the Internet. And their much-vaunted chat feature was a letdown, by no fault of their own. I joined the airplane-wide chat room and stayed there for over an hour while I read, and was a bit surprised when no one else joined.

Anyway, that is enough about my plane ride. I got to JFK airport with my one backpack – I am really happy about my light packing abilities – and sought out the subway. I was amazed at the size of the airport – it was just massive. Once I arrived at the subway station it was pretty intuitive on how to get where I wanted, which included a transfer. I really loved the subway stations. They were old, run down in a very-lovingly-used sort of way and most of them had their own style and character. A marked difference with BART in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I arrived at my gracious host’s apartment (from CouchSurfing) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She was very nice and conversational from the moment I arrived. After a little while of shooting the shit and a much needed shower, we headed around the corner to DuckDuck for a beer. It is always nice being on the East Coast where I can get a Yuenling. By the way, I won’t say too much about each of the bars and restaurants I go to because I will be reviewing them all on Yelp; my New York Yelp map is at the bottom of this post.

After that we met up with a couple of my host’s friends and headed to a beer garden. What, did they do a personality check on me beforehand and figure out exactly what I would want to do? They nailed it. This place was great. I got some delicious German beer, a whole liter of it in one mug, and a brat with fries.

After that we went to another high-end beer bar where I had some more of the best beer I’ve ever had. I had some great conversation with all three people I was out with.

We finished the night off at a pizza place at 1:30am, and while it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in a New York pizza joint, it came pretty close. The pizza was delicious – you might say it “hit the spot.”

Off to bed I went on a comfortable air mattress. One note – it stays HOT at night in New York. Not that I didn’t expect that. But I slept pretty well. Today I am off to a flea market and then I will probably meet up with Greg later. I’ll try to actually get some pictures today.

What’s this?

Old(er) Stu Teaches Young(er) Stu

Ah, young(er) Stu, how much you don’t know. Going on a trip? Don’t get a hotel, Couch Surf. Bring a suitcase? I don’t think so. Pack few clothes and just use the laundromat.

You’ll learn eventually, young buck.

NBA Players Going Overseas

As more and more NBA players jump ship to play overseas, I think it would be really weird if Kobe or LeBron took a large payday and left the NBA as well.

What Time to Go Running

Recently I have changed my routine a bit and done short runs in the morning and long runs after work. I have noticed that I run much better in the later parts of the day, hence the short runs in the morning. One other thing I noticed is that when I run in the morning, my mood and energy levels are higher throughout the day.

I took these observations and wondered if they were normal or it was just me. What I found from this site was pretty interesting. In terms of actual scientific studies it has been shown that:

Subjects who exercised at night had much larger drops in glucose levels in response to exercise than at other times of day. Exercise in the evening and at night elicited large increases in the levels of two hormones important for energy metabolism, cortisol and thyrotropin. Exercise at other times of day had much smaller effects on these hormones. In contrast, marked increases in growth hormone levels in response to exercise were not effected by the time of day.

The doc doesn’t go on to explain what that means exactly, but it seems that it means exercising at night will better increase your metabolism.

In general I think I will stick with my routine. Running in the morning some days for that good-feeling mood and increased energy. And long distance at night because I can do the distance better then and it seems like it would be more effective in burning calories.

Update: This article supports what I have read, and spells it out much better.

As Running Relates

One of the great things about running is that the further out you go, the further you have to come back. It is a commitment you can’t get out of. I have realized this for a while but it hit home yesterday when I did a 10-miler, the longest run I have ever done. I got 5 miles out and I think I actually said out loud, “I did it!” I immediately reacted, thinking to myself that no, I hadn’t done it, that I had to come all the way back. But I made it inevitable that, short of an injury, I was going to do it.

I find this to be a very valuable concept. I began to wonder what other kind of activity there is that once you get to a certain point you have to finish. I haven’t been able to think of any. Any ideas out there?


Robert Novak hits a pedestrian, flees the scene, and gets let off with a ticket.

This pisses me off so much…

Google Maps Walking Directions

I am excited – Google Maps now has walking directions. For instance, here is my run from yesterday.

Middle East Dominance: Obama vs. McCain

I don’t read nearly enough. This great quote is from an article entitled “Coercive ‘Diplomacy’ – Prelude to War: Don’t be fooled by Washington’s diplomatic overtures to Tehran”

The American elites are unanimous in their verdict that the US must establish and maintain an American enclave in the Middle East: the only “debate” is over where the main forward base is to be located. McCain says Iraq, and Obama prefers Afghanistan.

That is close to a one-quote summary as to why I won’t be voting for Obama or McCain.

Translink on MUNI?

It can’t be true…I won’t believe it until I see it myself: MUNI finally enabled Translink?

I really goddamn hope it is true.

Anand Reviews the Apple iPhone 3G

Anandtech has been amazingly consistent for as long as I have been reading it, probably over 10 years by now. Amazing for a website if you ask me.

Anand just put out one of the best and most detailed reviews I have read in a long time: Anand Reviews the Apple iPhone 3G.

BTW, loving the new “Press This” feature of WordPress 2.6.

A New Idea For Completion of Goals

As I was out running after work today, I had an idea on how I can get myself to complete my goals. You see, I had intended on going running this morning, but I didn’t quite make it. In general, I have been pretty good about my exercise this summer but not as good as I wanted to be.

So my idea was to set a goal and set a monetary punishment for not meeting the goal. If the goal was to go running before work and I didn’t do it, I would put $5 in a bin set aside for that purpose. At the end of the month, I take whatever money is in the bin from the running goal and other goals and donate it somewhere.

Of course this plan has its limitations too. I would need to be better with my money so I wouldn’t be dipping into the bin because I “need” the money. And I don’t think this plan would work well for goals that are monetary in nature. Other than that, I think I will start doing it and hopefully it will help me to complete more of my goals.

Miracle Fruit

I want to try some miracle fruit, as seen on today’s Democracy Now. It makes things like lemons, tequila, cheese and Guinness taste sweet.

It is rare and expensive though. I am mainly posting this here so that one day I remember to order some! Or maybe when I am in New York I will stop by the Garden of Eden store and get some if they are in stock.

Congress Makes Me Sick

The Senate passed retroactive telecom immunity. The House had already passed this bill.

Notice where Obama’s name falls on this one.

Late Wakeup

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.

Inactive Activists

I am planning a trip for New York City – I will be there from August 9 to August 18. One of my main goals while there is to connect with local activist, community and political groups.

Unfortunately in my several hours of research so far I have not found one event worth attending. Actually, I haven’t even found one event. Whether it is anarchism, direct action or bicycling, there is as of yet nothing for me to attend.

This drives home the point that activists, across the political spectrum generally, are disorganized and very small in number.

True, I cannot speak much myself, which I’m not too proud of. But this is something that I think needs to change drastically.

I will continue to search for groups in New York City. I still need to search around other issues like anti-war, environmentalism, fair housing and other things. And I would also like to try to find community groups like those who provide free food, health care and other services to those in need. I hope my search turns less depressing.

Because activists often are battling against large corporations, they need to learn from these corporations and become disciplined and organized. It is never going to be enough to have two “organizing meetings” per month and one action every two months. It is never going to be enough to take a lackluster approach towards outreach and publicity. The large, successful corporations, while not nearly perfect, certainly don’t engage in these ineffective activities.

I’m mad, and it is time for a change.


Prediction: Maliki isn’t going to last much longer as prime minister of Iraq.

Because of… US rejects Iraqi demand for troops’ withdrawal timeline

It All Comes Together

I have just noticed that a track on Dieselboy‘s newest mix CD, Substance D, includes some spoken word by Bill Hicks. Bill Hicks strongly influences Tool, my favorite band, and now he’s on my favorite DJ’s CD? Kind of neat…

Twitter Integration

I am testing out Twitter integration with my blog using Twitter Tools. Hopefully this blog post will automatically show up as a tweet.


Every morning, or almost every morning, the streets by my apartment in the Tenderloin are cleaned. This is a good thing, but every morning it makes it look like it had rained the previous night.

So Much Work

Losing weight is so much work. Yet I continue.


I’ve been struggling to find a go-to grocery destination near my new place.

Rainbow Grocery has very high-quality, mostly organic items, and they’re a co-op. They have a great bulk foods section. So I like that about them. But they’re pretty damn expensive. So they’ll be a once-in-a-while stop.

Trader Joe’s has good prices but bad selection and sometimes questionable produce. I can’t come here frequently if they aren’t going to have everything I need.

Of course there is Whole Foods, but we all know how expensive they are.

With those options out the window, I feel that I am left with about two options. One is Safeway. I think I’ll check them out soon. There are three within decent walking distance. But something that went through my head yesterday while I was on the bus is to do a lot of my shopping in Chinatown. Of course they aren’t going to have everything I need there, but they should have most of it. And there is a Walgreen’s there to compensate. I feel like the prices won’t be beat in Chinatown. Certainly I won’t find any organic items in Chinatown either. And it is a 1.7-mile walk.

Actually, a third option would be a Costo membership. But I am going to try out the two options above first.

Back Up

Finally, my website is back up. As some of you know, my website runs on a server in my apartment. Today I got a free few moments to get the lil’ guy back up. Other things had been taking higher priority, like mopping the kitchen floor and clearing out some space in the closet.

Still a lot of work to do!

And a sad statistic from my trusty web server:
root@pub0:~# uptime
16:52:11 up 13 min, 2 users, load average: 0.10, 0.06, 0.05

I’m Moving

So after almost three years of living in beautiful Russian Hill, what with its…hills, restaurants, views, architecture, staircases, bars, cable cars and even the world’s most famous crooked street, I am moving to the Tenderloin. Except for the facts that it, too, is very densely populated and is also downtown (whereas Russian Hill was at least “downtownish”), the Tenderloin is the polar opposite of Russian Hill. While Russian Hill is mostly filled with 20-30something yuppies and professionals (not to be confused with the Southern Californians in Cow Hollow and the Marina), the Tenderloin is filled with working class folks, minorities, and the homeless, not to mention a smattering of ne’er-do-wells.

Although I certainly appreciate how nice Russian Hill is, on a rare occasion it is too nice for its own good. For example, the upscale grocery store does not sell American cheese. I thoroughly enjoy the grocery store, but not selling American cheese just kind of screams of pretension. And I only know of one sandwich shop, some five blocks away. In fact, a middle eastern sandwich and salad shop has closed down a few blocks from me and replaced with – another – wine bar. A local antique store has been replaced with a lingerie store. However slowly it is changing, the neighborhood is certainly changing.

Contrast this with the new neighborhood. The downside is certainly that it is not nearly as nice as Russian Hill, not by a long shot. The Tenderloin is essentially the homeless capital of San Francisco, a city with arguably the worst homeless problem in the United States. However, the upside is that the neighborhood definitely feels more “real.” There are several sandwich shops and cheap restaurants in the area. I am sure you could find American cheese at any of the 5-10 corner stores in a two-block radius. Things like a community center and the YMCA are just a block away.

Other perks are that the new place is just a 5-minute walk from work compared to my current 35-minute walk. Not that I mind my walk now. It is actually very nice getting that exercise. I am sure I’ll find other ways to get that exercise. Getting home from school will now take 30-45 minutes compared with 45-75 minutes. That is a big plus. I am very close to a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. Just a several-minute walk from the main library and City Hall. Actually, I think I will be using the City Hall steps to run up in the morning.

As for the apartment itself, the building is very nice. It is nicer than my current building and the building and the apartment certainly have more character. Higher ceilings, bay windows. I am now on the third floor with a view of the street. My current apartment is quiet whereas the new one is noisier, which I view as a good thing. I think it is good to always have some life and activity going on around me. And of course if I need to drown it all out I can just put on some headphones.

The most important reason on why I am moving is because I will be saving a few hundred dollars in rent. That will be nice. Without further ado, here are some pictures.

Firefox 3

I am now using Firefox 3. It isn’t much different from Firefox 2. That is probably a good thing, but I don’t know if it deserves the “3” label.

Price of Oil

Holy crap, oil is $138/barrel? Times, they are a-changin’. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they or someone they know is now taking public transportation where they would previously drive. And GM may stop making Hummers. The high price of oil, while painful in the short term for many, will have a positive effect in the long run.

I wonder, if oil prices stay high and people continue to take public transit, if many people who previously were on the other side of the argument will now argue in favor of expanded public transportation. I would love to see that happen.


Damn it. The bummer about waking up at 4:30am is that I don’t remember things too well. Hence, I forgot my iPod and all of my toiletries.

iPod Battery, Update

I finally replaced my iPod battery. It took about 15 minutes. I let the thing run overnight. The battery now lasts about 9 hours instead of maybe 3 or 4 hours.

This will come in handy for my flight back east on Saturday.

Holy Crap

I just woke up at 6:30am…to go running.

Weight loss is going great. I like this diet/fitness plan.

I’ve Been Missing Out

I have been eating eggs almost every morning for the past few weeks – two eggs whites with one whole egg. For a while I was having scrambled eggs, which is how I’ve eaten eggs my whole life. For the past week or so, however, I have been making them sunny side up.

Why in the world had I been eating scrambled eggs my whole life? What a waste! Sunny side up is so much better, even if it is difficult to make correctly.

Why I Like McClatchy

Here’s an article that is a great example of why I like McClatchy Newspapers: Both McCain, Obama exaggerating Iran’s nuclear program

McClatchy was one of the few, if not the only, corporate news company to do real journalism in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

I Have a Niece! And Other Announcements.

I have a niece! My brother is a father! My sister-in-law is a mother! My mother is a grandmother! My grandmother is a great grandmother! It’s a girl! All on the same day.


In just 10 days I will be getting a nice break, a break that will likely include diaper-changing duties (or is it “doodies?” Sorry, I had to do it). I haven’t had a vacation since December…which seems to be a long time for me. In case this confuses any of my loyal readers, I will be going to Maryland for a week for the birth of my new niece or nephew! Looking forward to it.

Although the break that I am already having is nice in and of itself. Since my semester is over I am definitely more relaxed. I’ve hosted a couple of sets of couch surfers and have been having a good time with them. Tonight it is a bonfire on Ocean Beach! Last weekend I had my first 6.5-hour World of Warcraft session in a long time.

A Warm Bristle

I am reading a Spanish-language newspaper, my first attempts to try to learn some more Spanish. You know you aren’t translating correctly when this is the sentence you end up with “They have taken the hair in a warm bristle.”


The powers that be need to take the saying “If you can’t beat them, join them” to heart. I believe that the capability of technology to serve copyrighted works illegally will not ever be defeated. Shortly after it was announced that efforts are being made to dismantle The Pirate Bay, I see this article on Slashdot about efforts to not only decentralize file sharing but to decentralize the searches for such items as well.

Let’s Get This Party Started!

The semester is over! And I have off on Monday!

I’ve worked really hard this semester. True, I’ve played hard at times too. But I haven’t had a great chance to just relax. So I am going to do just that this weekend.


Schwarzenegger – not bad for a Republican.

One-legged Two-legged Man

On my walk to work today, I saw a man sitting on the stairs that had his legs so perfectly aligned with each other that at first I thought he only had one leg.

Newegg Warehouse

I like Newegg. I like efficient and large-scale operations. I like Anandtech. I like this article.

A Good Start

I suck at getting up in the morning. I suck even more at getting up in the morning to go running. But that is what I’ve been told to do by my buddy, who is a personal trainer and made a summer fitness plan for me.

Today is the first day of my fitness plan. And I am up. And groggy, and in a bad mood.

Bah humbug.

Escape the Heat

More on the weather. Depending on which site I went to, the high temperature today was somewhere between 64 and 101 degrees. What is wrong with the weather sites, by the way? I’d put the high temperature at about 90.

Anyway, I would have normally walked to class but I didn’t want to sweat up a storm on the 2.5 mile walk. Public transportation it is. I decided not to take the bus, figured it would be too hot. I got on BART instead. Boy was that a mistake. Evidently they don’t use A/C either.

In general the whole city of San Francisco isn’t prepared for the heat. If a place has A/C it doesn’t seem like it is prepared to handle these temperatures, as even the air conditioned places seemed about 5 degrees warmer than usual. At least in the areas where it gets hotter on average than San Francisco they are prepared for it!

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler. I don’t mind the heat too much right now though. Like I said before, it is a nice change.

What’s a (Lazy) Man to Do?

I have been sending my laundry out for wash and fold service. It isn’t much more expensive than washing the clothes myself and it saves a whole lot of time.

The first place I tried was good but they fumbled my pickup date. Said it would be ready at a certain time, I show up, it wasn’t ready. They tell me to come back at another time, I show up, again, not ready. Finally it was ready on the final time they told me to show. But I was ready for a different place.

The second place had my stuff ready when they said it would be ready. Except they said that it would be about four days. On more than one occasion. I decided this was too long to be without the majority of my clothes.

I hoped I had hit gold on the third place. And I thought I had. Until today when I was going through some of my clothes and found that they got some bleach on one of my black shirts.

Argh…must find another place now.


The UPS guy showed up today while I wasn’t home. I let him into the security door with my cell phone. I am excited to find out what was delivered – I’ve ordered a few things in the past few days.

Spearmint Itch

Why does spearmint gum make my nose itch?

The Weather

It is a beautiful, warm and clear day in the Bay Area today. Hopefully the next few nights will be warm too, even though I generally enjoy the cool San Francisco nights. It’ll be good to have a change.

Lenin Update #2

Been reading more of the Lenin biography. It is extremely well written.

It turns out that he was a lawyer, specifically a barrister. Also, he barely did any work as a lawyer. He had a low case load. And he was still being funded mostly by his mother.

He was born in 1870 and I have read up to 1895. We’ll see what happens as he gets a little older and his mother’s money presumably runs out. Right now he is in jail at the end of 1895.

A Great Night

It is really just a night not unlike many others. But still, what a great night I have had tonight.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that I just had my World History final tonight, which I am confident that I aced.

Website Visits

I thought my increased postings about boring, everyday topics would drive my website visits down. I was wrong:

Update on Lenin

At this point he has self studied for his law degree. I think it took him about 6 months (read: crazy smart). And he finally got his first job, not as a lawyer, but something related to the law.

More updates forthcoming.


I was at the sports bar tonight watching the Spurs vs. Hornets. HDTV is so beautiful I could see the individual white hairs in Byron Scott’s mustache. Usually I had noticed it most during football. But tonight it so enhanced my basketball watching experience.

It’s My Blog and I’ll Brag if I Want to

I got my paper back yesterday. The title was “Anarchism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.” I have waited five weeks to get the paper back.

I got a 275/275.

I couldn’t be happier. My first final is tonight. The semester is over in 1.5 weeks.


I am really, really excited to go to Compression this Thursday.

Closing Tickets

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


I am reading a biography on Vladimir Lenin right now. I became interested in him because one of my professors described him as a full-time revolutionary. I want to see what the practical details were of how he accomplished this. Namely, how did he support himself while pursuing this path?

So far I have read up to his college years, and he hasn’t done a single day of work in his life. Either school or reading. Living off of his parents’ income. We’ll see what happens.


Repeat after me: Summer is almost here. Summer is almost here. Summer is almost here. Summer is almost here. Summer is almost here. Summer is almost here…

Chomsky on Information Overload

Ironic. (Or maybe not. I never really understood this word well enough to be confident that I am using it properly.)

In my RSS reader, where there are currently 2774 unread articles and 361 marked for later reading, I came across an interview with Noam Chomsky on information overload. And then I opened my 7th tab in Firefox to write about it.

Of course, Chomsky may not be the best person to ask about this subject. He says, “I wish I could answer sensibly. I just can’t. You should see the room in which I’m working. Piles of books, clippings, manuscripts, notes … All sorts of lost treasures buried in them.”

Now I’ll actually read the article.

Update: It turns out that quote was Chomsky’s entire contribution to that article. Haha.

US Forces Not Allowed in Sadr City

I was surprised by this line:

Sadr supporter Araji, however, said the agreement specifically barred American forces from entering Sadr City.

“The Iraqi forces, not the American forces, can come into Sadr City and search for weapons,” Araji said.

We’ll see if this agreement is honored by the US military. Full article here.

The South is Awesome

I am enjoying the south. The big hair. The accents. The crawfish. I am enjoying it all, and I’m looking forward to coming back some day soon. Hopefully I’ll be returning with some peaches.


That is all.


I am in Georgia right now for my cousin’s wedding. It is a much-needed break, even though it is only for a weekend.

The first thing I did when I got here was go with my cousin (not the one that is getting married) and my bro to Waffle House. Awesome.

San Francisco and California are great and all, but they are missing a certain something. That something, while I can’t sum it up in a tidy description, are best conveyed through Waffle House. No waffle houses in San Francisco. There are a lot of things right with San Francisco. What is wrong is they don’t have the Waffle House. *tear*

Music With Words

Most of the music I listen to now doesn’t have words. This is because I am usually studying when I have a chance to listen to music, and if it had words then I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on what I was studying. So I have found myself making a point of picking something with words when I am not studying.

Now that my iPod is functional again I think I will start taking it with me for my morning walks to work. That’ll give me more of a chance to listen to music.

Full Screen

If I am studying at home, I have been turning off my computer monitor. I get too easily distracted. But sometimes I need to actually use my computer. How to not get distracted then?

If it is with Word, I use full screen. It works well. But with Firefox, their default full screen sucks. The tabs still show. Enter fuller screen. Simple, but beautiful.


God damn I love this place.

I also love consumable containers. Ice cream cones. Bread bowls. What’s next, frozen beer beer mug?

Orioles Plummet

That was a pretty quick first to last by the Orioles. I was starting to get excited, and then they started sucking again.

NBA Playoffs as a Great Struggle

For some reason, and maybe this season more than previous seasons, the NBA playoffs somehow seem to activate a certain part in my brain that is usually reserved for intense interest in political struggles or a great movie drama.

The playoffs are great this year. The only way I could enjoy them more is if I could watch more of the games.


My muffin is feeling neglected.

No Comment

The subject says it all.

iPod Battery Replacement

It looks like I’ll also be replacing my iPod battery as well. It seems that my iPod can only play music for maybe 3-5 hours on a single charge now. Still better than buying a new one.


This summer I intend to learn some Spanish through self study. (That is, studying by myself, not the study of myself.) I have a three-faced approach I want to take.

I am going to buy the Rosetta Stone program, getting the set that goes through beginner to expert level. It is a bit pricey but the reviews are good. I would also like to read Don Quixote in Spanish. Lastly, I will watch some Spanish television and/or movies. I think these things are a good approach. Maybe I will even seek out a language partner.

After I get a better grasp on Spanish, which would be beyond this summer, there are other languages that I would like to learn, not necessarily fluently. I’d like to learn French so I can read certain texts in their original language. Most recently I have wanted to read Proudhon, one of the fathers of anarchism. I’d also like to learn some Arabic and a dialect of Chinese.

So there I have it. Spanish for now, and then the others for later on down the line.

Update: Earlier I forgot to mention Hebrew. For a similar, but not the same, reason as French.


God damn, I love oatmeal.

Ipod Resurrection and Sacrifice

William/Will/Billy/Oogablah lent me his Ipod. I sacrificed it to the Apple gods, took the 10GB hard drive out, and replaced my dead 40GB hard drive. It’s like getting an inferior kidney from a family member. Better than your now defunct kidney but it’s not as good as you once were.

I did cut my finger though opening William’s Ipod.

More Posts

I think I am going to start posting more. And start posting more mundane, everyday things…like Twitter. That should help to get rid of all those pesky readers.

First one of the new style: I just watched water boil. It didn’t take that long, but I grew impatient nonetheless.

Construction in the Alley

I love it how for 2.5 years the people outside of my window on the other side of the alley seem to have been working on constructing something (constructing what? don’t ask me) on and off the whole time.

English Paper

Writing a paper that I am not interested in for English class sucks.

My Ear

It started as the flu. Then it turned into a sinus infection. Then I supposedly got another cold. The doctor gave me some medicine. The nasal congestion and cough cleared up (for the most part). My left ear still felt clogged. I went back to the doctor’s today and he said it wasn’t congested but it was now inflamed. Ugh. Now I have ear drops. Which I have to use four times daily. For ten days. I’ll also have an appointment with an ear/nose/throat specialist if the prescription doesn’t help.

All I want is to be able to hear well again out of my left ear! Enough already, argh!

Google transit finally included MUNI in their service. An example.

I’ll be using this a lot more frequently now.

Next Up

MCSE. Hoping to get it by the end of the year. I might go for either the messaging or security specialization which would require nine tests, instead of seven for the base MCSE.


I am now a Foundry Networks Certified Network Engineer (FNCNE). I like to pronounce it “Fahnooknee.” They need new people in marketing.

Anyway, passing score is 75 out of 100. Last time I got a 74. After intense cramming, especially last night, I raised my score to a 78. Haha I almost would have rather just gotten a 75.

Anyway, yeah, last night, with the help of my first caffeine in 1.5 years (and a lot of it, about 300mg total), I had the most productive mental night I have had in a long time. I spent about three hours studying for Foundry, one hour working on a rough draft for English, and one hour reading for English. To bed by 3:15am and up at 7:15am. That was after working for 12 hours. Wow…crazy. I didn’t want to go back on caffeine but in this case it was worth it, even if all it got me was four more correct answers.

Anyway, I’ll be buzzing until tonight…and then I intend to sleep very well. This is a very strange feeling, I’m very anxious, excitable, on edge, etc. Whatever 🙂

Vibrating Eye

My eye vibrated for a second there. Was it the caffeine or the bass? I don’t know, I think maybe it was the awesome.

I am feeling good about my Foundry test tomorrow.

How to Listen to Dieselboy

1) Late at night.
2) Extremely loud.
3) On good headphones.
4) While pumped up on caffeine (see previous post).

God damn, this never gets old. I’m glad at least this part of me hasn’t grown up.

About to Fall Off the Wagon

Got a LONG night ahead of me. Going to do a 2-day caffeine binge and then stop again…hopefully it won’t bring on a migraine.


If I worked for Caltrain, I would have an uncontrollable urge to yell “All aboard!” from time to time. It would be awesome.

I Lost It! Wheee!

I never thought I would be one of those people that said they wanted to lose something or have something get stolen so they could have an excuse to get a new/different one of whatever that was. Well I have become one of those people. You see, I bought this wool coat at Target a few years ago for $50. I liked it a lot at the time, but I have been wanting a different coat for a while now. The old one had gotten worn down and faded. But I could never find a new one that I liked at a decent price. I didn’t look very hard, either. After all, I already had a coat!

Well last night I finally officially lost the old coat. I think I left it in the City College Mission Campus Cafe. Oh well! Time to go coat hunting!

My Annual NBA Playoff Predictions That No One Cares About

Round 1
Celtics over Hawks, 4-0
Pistons over 76ers, 4-0
Magic over Raptors, 4-1
Cavs over Wizards, 4-2
Lakers over Nuggets, 4-2
Hornets over Mavericks, 4-2
Spurs over Suns, 4-2
Jazz over Rockets, 4-1

Round 2
Celtics over Cavs, 4-2
Pistons over Magic, 4-2
Jazz over Lakers, 4-3
Spurs over Hornets, 4-3

Round 3
Celtics over Pistons, 4-2
Spurs over Jazz, 4-3

Celtics over Spurs, 4-2

Anarchism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War

My paper on Anarchism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, if anyone cares to read it. I find out my grade in a freakin’ month.

Got My Drugs

I finally went to the doctor today for my symptoms which include nasal congestion, ear congestion (including not being able to hear very well) and a persistent cough. I told the doctor that I had the flu or a bad cold about a month ago. After taking a look at things, he said that he suspected that I got another cold about a week and a half or two weeks ago. Wonderful luck, just wonderful.

Anyway, he prescribed the following medicines to me: cough syrup, which may make me drowsy, a decongestant pill, which may also make me drowsy, and an inhaler (to clear out my lungs). I am actually really looking forward to starting these medicines. I am tired of always having to blow my nose, I am tired of the coughing, and I am tired of not being able to hear very well with this damn ear congestion. I think I’ll wait until I get home to take this stuff though, what with all the drowsiness.

All in all, with health insurance (Kaiser Permanente), the visit cost me $25 for the doctor visit, $30 for the medicines and $10 for the chest X-ray.

Oh the good news is, though, that the doctor said my achilles tendon is just fine, even though it is a bit sore. He said I could run on it, but I should wait until my other symptoms clear up to go running. So about another two weeks for that.

I Am Going to Bitch for a Little Bit

Several things to bitch about today:
– Someone, caller ID “unknown,” called me at 6:30am today. I didn’t pick up in time to bitch them out, and they didn’t leave a message.
– I have recently been reorganizing my apartment. So my alarm clock isn’t hooked up, and I have been using my cell phone as an alarm. The cell phone alarm went off way early, at like 7am, and then started going off TWICE once it reached the time it was actually supposed to go off.
– I went to bed early last night, around 11pm, and still didn’t wake up in time to eat breakfast. I hate not being a morning person sometimes. I did bring a PB&J with me to work though.
– Having woken up late like usual, but this time a little bit later, I decided to take the bus instead of walk. I looked at – next bus in 17 minutes. I walked anyway – it was faster this morning.
– Last night after class, I wanted to take the 28 bus home, which doesn’t require any transfers. I checked my phone, again, and it said 63 minutes until the next bus. I have found that is horribly incomplete for this bus line, but I didn’t want to chance that it would actually be correct. So I took the M instead and got off at Van Ness. There are two bus lines that run on Van Ness. The 47 and the 49. The 47 was an 18-minute wait, and the 49 was a 12-minute wait. I decided to just start walking. I walked the 1.4 miles without being passed by a single bus. I think this happens about a third of the time that I try to board a bus from here at this time of night. Overall it took me an hour to go 8.5 miles. *start sarcasm* Ah, the joys of not having a car. *end sarcasm*

And, I think that is all I have to bitch about from the past 12 hours.


Since reaching my weight goal of 155 on February 29, I’ve successfully maintained my weight. I am very happy that for a month, without dieting, and actually without much exercise because I was sick and now my achilles tendon is acting up, I haven’t gained any weight back. My weigh-ins for the last month:
153.5 155.5 156.5 155 154 154 153.5 153.5 154 154 154.5 155.5 153 153.5 154 153 154.5 154 154.5 154 153 154.5 154.5 155 155 152 154.5 153 152.5

As I’ve got a little gut still left that I’d like to get rid of, I want to pick back up on the exercise. But I surely can’t complain.

The key here has been quantity of food. I’ve been usually having one larger meal and two smaller meals every day, and even had some desserts!

Miami, Tomorrow

Holy CRAP, I haven’t wanted to go to Miami since I was there in August ’05, but I am pretty sure I need to go tomorrow for this.

Not literally, of course. Therefore, I end this post with a 🙁

Update: Let’s make it a long weekend.

Spring Break? Who Needs It?

Strange, I actually miss going to class this week. Or maybe I just want to get my graded assignments back.

So Much For the Cease Fire

The cease fire between Sadr’s forces and US-backed forces seems to be in danger as US-backed Iraqi forces attacked the Mahdi Army militia. Those “decreased fatalities” you’ve been hearing about? Get ready to say bye bye to them. From the NY Times: Fighting in Iraq Continues Amid Crackdown

Nader: Impeach Bush

An excellent article by Ralph Nader to John Conyers, calling for impeachment proceedings.

What a Change

What a difference it makes to not have class. I actually made dinner for myself, even if it was only eggs and oatmeal. And here it is not even 10pm, and I have time to read some before bed.

This is a really weird feeling, but also really nice. I didn’t realize how busy I have been until just now.


I put up some shelves today with help from my buddy William. I like how they turned out:

Spring Break!

A slight break. I still have to work, 9-5, and I still have plenty of schoolwork to do. Nonetheless, it is a slight break from the constant grind, the constant thinking. More later, maybe. As for tomorrow night? World of drum n bass. ‘Nuff said. (Well, ’nuff for me, and if it’s not ’nuff for you, then you don’t appreciate dnb like I do, which is probable.)


Today I encountered the perfect example of why I moved to San Francisco: More than 100 arrested in S.F. anti-war protests

I couldn’t ask for better inspiration than this. I am going to take some time on Sunday to just think.

Not Even Jackassable

I love the history of my city: Not Even Jackassable

Stuff White People Like

Out of the first 87 things, I like 26 of the items on the Stuff White People Like list. How about you?


I spent my lunch hour at work yesterday looking for a decent pack of socks. Marshall’s sucked. Ross sucked. Payless didn’t have any. Nordstrom evidently doesn’t sell socks. The Adidas store had a crap selection. Even THE SOCK STORE in the mall didn’t have any normal white socks. It seems like sometimes that stores (and our lives) are filled with such high quantities of useless, pointless, overpriced crap that we can’t even find something basic, like a 6-pack of high-quality socks.

So I ordered socks on Amazon. I never thought it would come to this. $54 of socks for 12 pairs of white and 6 pairs of black gold toe socks. Next up is boxer shorts and under shirts. Seriously, I was looking for those also and got nothing.

F It

Been sick for about two weeks now, but I have to get back out running. I’m going Monday, no matter what.

Question of the Year

I was walking home the other night – I think it was after class – and a woman, standing on the sidewalk with her baby, asked me “Do you know where the…” and I started to think “restaurant…store…street…bus line?” But she continued “…moon is?” This took me completely by surprise. This was the night that there was a lunar eclipse. I took a quick look around. No, I didn’t know where the moon was. I feel like I should have known, though. How disconnected am I, are we, when I don’t know where in the sky the moon is?

I think I need to go on survival training or something.


Friday, nay, tomorrow night can’t come soon enough. I guess 24 hours isn’t too bad to have to wait for a killer drum and bass show. And then my first “do nothing” day in a few years. (My definition of do-nothing day is simply to not plan anything and then do whatever I want that day, no work of any sort.)

I have taken off of work on Friday. And even though I’m not officially planning anything, I have some ideas of what to do. I can imagine my day right now and it sounds awesome…wake up at around 11am. Eat something. Play basketball. Go to the sports bar from 5pm to 10pm to watch some killer basketball games (while eating something else), and then World of Warcraft. But like I said, no official plans! I haven’t promised anyone, including myself, that I will be somewhere at a certain time, so I might end up doing something completely different than this. Maybe fall asleep in Golden Gate Park. Maybe drive to Sausalito and look out on the bay. Maybe a giant game of Civ. Maybe World of Warcraft ALL DAY (probably not – I’d end up viewing my day of freedom as wasted). The possibilities are basically without limit for a whole 24 hours, and it feels awesome just thinking about it.


Imagine you’re sitting in a dead quiet library. And it is 30 minutes before closing. All of a sudden, the GODDAMN FIRE ALARM GOES OFF for about 5 seconds. Is there a fire? No. This is how they get your attention to announce that the library is closing in 30 minutes.

I haven’t written a letter in a long time, but I think the SFSU library may be getting one.

McCain Now Pro-torture

The one thing I used to like about John McCain was that he was strongly anti-torture. Why then has he voted in favor of torture? My theory is that he is desperately trying to win over the conservative voters that he evidently doesn’t have the support of. I knew he would do this on some issues, but torture seemed to be one issue that he wouldn’t change his mind on.

I am more and more scared of John McCain every day.

Martin Luther

Sorry for all the quotes recently. Part of my study strategy this semester is to look up on Wikipedia everything that I highlight (for my History classes). I found this information on Martin Luther to be fascinating:

Much scholarly debate has concentrated on Luther’s writings about the Jews. His statements that Jews’ homes should be destroyed, their synagogues burned, money confiscated and liberty curtailed were revived and used in propaganda by the Nazis in 1933–45. As a result of this and his revolutionary theological views, his legacy remains controversial.

Barack Obama

From an article on, a nice snippet that nicely sums up my view of Barack Obama:

Barack Obama, an Iraq war opponent who otherwise has found no foreign intervention he opposes.

Cosimo de’ Medici

Cosimo de’ Medici sums up the attitudes of those in credit card debt:

…it became clear that spending money gives me greater pleasure than earning it

Of course, he didn’t have to be in debt to spend money.

Random Update

I know I haven’t written on here for a bit. School has started, and with three classes, plus work, plus activism stuff, plus trying to lose weight, plus trying to have a social life at least once or twice per week, that has left blogging on the back burner.

Good news is that all of the above, besides blogging, is going pretty well. Hopefully I’ll have time to write more later. But for this morning I just wanted to say that, oh my, organic apples have so much more flavor than conventionally grown apples. I try to keep apples and bananas at my place all the time, but when I don’t get home until late the grocery store is already closed. So I stopped by a corner store on the way to work for an apple this morning. It was certainly bigger than the organic apples, but it wasn’t as firm, and it tasted a lot more watery. Less flavor per cubic centimeter, you might say.

Poll: Should I Grow My Goatee Back?

Update 2: Neck and neck with 4.5 hours to go!
Update: Just a few days left, with Huge Goatee in the lead by a 2:1 margin!

Clean shaven:
Clean shaven thumb

With huge goatee:
Goatee thumb


San Francisco Murders

The murders in San Francisco last year were NIMBY.


Almonds are delicious. No need for seasoning, smoking, or whatever. Just straight up almonds. Word.

My PC Is Getting Old

My video card is about to be two generations behind the bleeding edge. Check out the new GeForce 9800GX2.

What The Funk?

Since I got back from my vacation, I have been in a sort of unmotivated funk. Granted, I have been back for less than a week. But still, it was a little discouraging. I haven’t gotten myself to exercise or eat right. I gained about 6 pounds in a week and a half in Maryland!

Well, I am proud to announce that today I finally feel motivated. Motivated to eat right, exercise, save money, and work hard at work. Go me!


Imagine this scenario:

You are doing some laundry in the shared laundry room in your apartment building. You put your load in the wash, come down right when it is done, and put it in the dryer. You come back down, again, right on time, only to find the laundry room door locked. You don’t have a key to this room, and you never have. What would YOU do?

1) Write a note on the door asking someone to open it.
2) Break the door.

Well, I did #1. I came back down every hour or so to see if someone had opened the door. When I came down at 11pm, I found a broken door.

Sure, a locked laundry room door sucks, but why the hell would you break it? I mean, come on. Wait until it is open, and then maybe duct tape the latch hole. I would be really interested to know which one of my neighbors broke the door.

Stately Eyebrows

In other news, it has been decided (by me) that my eyebrows are not “large;” rather, they are “stately:”

Stately eyebrows


That’s how I put it on my calendar anyway.

Anyone that happens to be in San Francisco tonight and wants to have a good time, head down to Temple (Howard and 2nd) to catch Dieselboy tearing it up. $10.

Missed My Goal Today

And just like that…no more meat from land animals. This is going to be hard. I <3 chicken.

Cutting More Stuff Out

After a week of dieting again, I am right on schedule for my weight loss. I started last week at 172.5 and I am at 170.5 now. But when you’re dealing with a half pound here and a half pound there, you can easily get off track with just one screw-up. That’s why I am going to institute a new system of punishments for myself should I get off track for even one day. Basically, for each day that I am above my target weight, I am going to cut one of the following out of my diet for the remainder of the diet:
– dairy
– meat from land animals (of course the only ones I am eating anyway are chicken and turkey)
– egg-based products (like mayonnaise, which has been in several tuna sandwiches that I’ve had)
– meat from sea creatures

That will give me extra incentive to be good. If I am essentially a vegan by the end of the diet, it’ll be weird!

So the idea here is, I’d better stay ahead of my goal because if I don’t there is a good chance that I’ll be behind one day. And just like that – no more chicken and turkey! That really would limit my Subway options.

Feels Good To Be Healty

Since Monday I have been cold turkey on all those things I mentioned before. The first day was brutal, when I had a headache that was probably caused by my body yearning for all the crap I had been putting into it up until that time. But the rest of the week has been great. I have been running every night since Tuesday. I’ve lost 2.5 pounds just since Monday! Woohoo!

And the best indicator, to me, that I am doing something right was how I felt when I woke up this morning. Usually I am groggy as hell and I want to just go back to sleep. But this morning, not only did I wake up a few minutes earlier than usual (this is a big accomplishment for me), but I felt GREAT when I woke up.

Obviously at some point I am going to eat steak, french fries, pizza, and ice cream again. And obviously I am not going to go running every night indefinitely. But I think after this little diet I will have to set some guidelines for myself for regular habit. Because this feeling is just too good to only have when I am dieting…

Oh, and one more thing I discovered – A great apple can really make your morning.

Teenage Mutant Ninja San Francisco Pizza Turtles

Who do they think we are, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? You can’t just take away our pizza and expect us to stop fighting.

A Strange Week

I’m a little thrown off right now. Things just don’t feel normal. It’s probably because so many things are different this week.

I am in Santa Clara for three days this week. Yesterday, I woke up at 5:55, took the bus to work, got a couple things, took the bus to Caltrain, took Caltrain to Santa Clara, and took VTA light rail to Foundry Networks headquarters. And then sat in a class for 8 hours and did almost the reverse on the way home.

Also yesterday, I started another diet. It is my “sprint to the end” diet. Since being about 167 pounds (and that one marvelous day when I was dehydrated and the scale read 165) I have put on about 5 pounds and am back to 172. I want to make a habit of completing my New Year’s resolutions, so my goal is to lose 7 pounds by December 23. That is about a pound every four days. So I’ll be cold turkey from the following until that point (except for one night with some friends, which was already being planned):
– red meat. Just my luck – the caterers today at Foundry served meatloaf! No main course for me!
– sweets. Just my luck – All the soda and junk you want for free at Foundry!
– cheese. I <3 cheese.
– fried things

So yeah, that sudden shock to my body (I think it was mostly not having the fat content I am used to, but it may have been the sugar, too) gave me an annoying headache yesterday. It was no migraine, thankfully, just a run of the mill headache that happened to last the whole damn day.

And then last night after I got home from that long day I had to flesh out and practice my speech that I am giving on Chomsky’s ideas in speech class tonight. Another thing that was out of the ordinary.

And then today, so I can get to class on time tonight, I took City CarShare to Santa Clara. And let’s just say I don’t miss ONE BIT sitting in stop and go traffic. That has to be like the 7th circle of hell or something.

Tomorrow is the last day of training, and then Thursday and Friday should be back to normal with the usual wake up, work, do something after work (class, some event, etc.), go home, sleep, repeat routine. It may not be the most exciting thing in the world but it makes me less stressed, I think.

For Your Sunday Reading Enjoyment

Excellent article by Majorie Cohn – Preventing the Impending War on Iran


I am reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I am really liking it. I’ve got a whole list of other books that I want to read that are listed in the book.

I’ve had a running theory in my head for a while that really only about 5% of people in a population will actively participate in politics and activism. Much of what I am reading backs this up (I’d love to find a study on this, though). But right now I am reading about the labor movement in the late 19th century, and it paints a different picture. Hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide regularly went on strike. So maybe a more complete picture will say that a much greater percentage of people will fight for things that clearly and directly affect them. Labor conditions one of these things, foreign wars are not. If true, this greatly affects strategy. For foreign wars, you’ll have to rely on great amounts of action by a small amount of people. So for the Iraq war a good strategy might be things like blocking war shipments or civil disobedience in the streets.

For issues that affect a great amount of people, you may be able to rely on much larger participation. A current issue that comes to mind that might benefit from this great participation is global warming. Maybe 10-20 years from now we will see general strikes and huge rallies.

Bike Ride

My buddy Peter is letting me long-term borrow his bike. It is a single-speed road bike. I definitely like it…I’d rather have a multi-speed bike, but beggars can’t be choosers!

Today I took the bike for its first serious ride. I’ve already bragged to a couple people about my ride…but I’ll post it here anyway. I mapped it out in Google Maps. From my apartment, to the main library, to SFSU, and back to my apartment. 17 miles in all! Very tiring, but it was nice, too.

I am looking forward to my next ride, although it may not be 17 miles. I think I’d like to ride along the coast. Also, I am not sure how practical the bike will be for trips longer than a couple miles, because I worked up a serious sweat. It was great, though, just getting to the main library to start with. It’s the fastest I have ever gotten there, I think, and by the time I got there I wasn’t terribly sweaty.

God Damn

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.

The American Public Scares Me

Really, I try to have confidence in the intelligence of the American public, but polls like this one really scare me and make me rethink my assumptions.

Twenty-eight percent believe the U.S. should wait to strike until after the next president is in office while 23% would favor a strike before the end of President Bush’s term. Another 29% said the U.S. should not attack Iran, and 20% were unsure.

STFU – The Finest Education Around!

I was telling Ben about my awesome new email address – – and he was saying it would be better if it was Well, now I have a new life goal, to start STFU – Southern Texas, Falfurrias University.

My main email address remains the same – simply forwards to it.


🙁 No more Barleycorn 🙁

Your Democracy In Action

From Tuesday’s Democracy Now:

NBC Bars Sen. Mike Gravel From Democratic Debate

In campaign news, former Senator Mike Gravel is protesting a decision by NBC News to bar him from next Tuesday’s debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia. NBC said it made the decision in part because Gravel hadn’t raised over one million dollars. Gravel said “The fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world’s leading military contractors, is frightening and certainly smacks of censorship directed at the most outspoken critic of the influence that the military-industrial complex holds over this great nation.”

End The War In Iraq Day, San Francisco

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring October 27 as “End The War In Iraq Day” in San Francisco. This makes me happy. 🙂

Dating in Azeroth

Alyssa and I go on dates in World of Warcraft now that she is in LA. Here’s a nice portrait that we had done in game:

World of Warcraft

Copper Thieves Ruined My Saturday Morning

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.

Talk Is Cheap

This is several posts that I wanted to make all put into one. I realized that they all centered around a central theme: Talk is cheap.

First, we have Norman Solomon on Democracy Now on October 3, 2007:

The opposition is registered in opinion polls, but largely quiescent, and if we look at the progression of the Vietnam War, year after year, from the late ’60s through the first years of the ’70s, opinion polls show that most Americans were opposed to the war, even felt it was immoral. You fast-forward to this decade, for years now most polls have shown most people are opposed. But what does that mean? Our political culture encourages us to be passive, not to get out in the streets, not to blockade the government war-making offices, not to go into the congressional offices and not leave, not to raise our voices in impolite or disruptive ways. We have to become enemies of the warfare state, not in a rhetorical way, but in a way that speaks to the American people in terms of where our humane values are and should be.

So he is essentially saying here, if you see something as morally wrong, don’t just oppose it in thought, oppose it in action. Stop being polite.

And now lets turn to Yoko Ono on today’s Democracy Now. She is introduced on the show as a peace activist. But what has she done to deserve this title? From what I can gather, close to nothing. Sure, she has spoken as an advocate for peace, but what really needs to be done to accomplish peace is civil disobedience. It seems that she has done what has been convenient for her to do. Since her whole life has been one of wealth and privilege, she doesn’t need to worry about her next paycheck, doesn’t need to sacrifice anything. And here are quotes from their “bed-in” protest:

YOKO ONO: Be sure that instead of making war, it’s better to just stay in bed. Let’s just stay in bed for the spring.

JOHN LENNON: And grow your hair for peace. Let it grow ’til peace comes.

Like everything else in life worth having, peace takes work. Peace does not come by laying in bed. Will it come by laying in the street? Maybe. But you have to pay for the privilege of having that bed to lay in. You have to have money to get it. You have to have money to buy the food to sustain you while you lay there. It must be nice that they can afford those things and at the same time feel really good about themselves for “working” towards peace. Give me a break.

I know this post is somewhat disorganized and rambling, but I had to get it out. I am sick of the situation we are in. The people that rule this world, the big corporate executives, the people in the governments that call the shots, all of them – do you think they accomplish the things that they do by laying in bed and saying “I’m laying in bed to give US hegemony a chance.” No, they don’t. They have very exacting strategies, and they work hard at what they do.

We can learn something very valuable from those in power. That is the value of hard work. Let’s not just imagine peace and think that is enough to get it done. Let’s not sit around in a room of like-minded individuals and argue over which strategy is most effective, never coming to an agreement and not leaving enough time to implement any of them. Let’s get down to the real work. Don’t be scared to get your hands dirty. Here are some real suggestions.

Wave signs for Ron Paul. Send out postcards to libertarians. Answer his emails. Of course, this goes for any peace candidate. Show up at your favorite candidate’s campaign headquarters and say “How can I help?”

If you don’t believe in the political system, pick a date and location, print up some flyers, and tape those things to wherever people congregate. Contact groups and organizations who support your message and get them to join you. Organize people that will be in attendance to participate in civil disobedience. If there is a group in your area that is already doing this, again, simply show up. They may be starved for volunteers.

Show up. Don’t just lay in bed. Don’t just let your hair grow and think that is going to make a difference. Put your thinking cap on and if you are going to imagine anything, don’t just imagine peace, but imagine how you can help bring peace. You can’t just imagine the end result, but you also have to imagine how to get there.

Enjoying Some Good Music

There aren’t many things that are better than good, loud music. The song “Clones” by The Roots randomly came on, and here is what transpired:

Prediction: my website visitors will shortly fall by 50%.

Western Digital 1TB

After working in a data center for six months and seeing with my own eyes the failure rate of different brands of hard drives, I will never again buy anything but Western Digital. They’re always among the most inexpensive and fastest of all the brands, too. They usually lag behind by a few months in the size category, though.

Well, thankfully, they finally reached one terabyte. I’ll probably pick up one of these in the next few months, especially considering I can put one more hard drive in my computer before I have to start just upgrading the ones that are already in there.

One more cool thing – the new drives are “green”. Go Western Digital.

Another Big Lie

We’ve all heard the big lies that led to the war in Iraq. First it was that Iraq was behind 9/11. Easily proven false. Then it was that Iraq had WMDs. Also proven false, but it took longer for it to become accepted among the public. The next lie was that the United States government cared about democracy in Iraq. This idea is still widely accepted by the mainstream press, and as a consequence, the public still generally believes this as well. The more honest reporting does not make this assumption.

One idea that still receives rather universal acceptance is that violence is largely sectarian. Sunni against Shiite, Shiite against Sunni. However, Anthony Arnove’s Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal put forth the claim that the majority of violence in Iraq is pro-occupation against anti-occupation, and anti-occupation against pro-occupation. So, Iraqi police, government, and military are pro-occupation. Remove the American occupation, he says, and you remove a majority of the violence.

I hadn’t heard this idea before reading Arnove’s book, and he didn’t provide much evidence, so I was a bit skeptical. But after reading it, I started paying attention to why massive amounts of Iraqis are being killed over there. In the news articles, they usually say where the killing was done. At a market, at a police ceremony, at a military checkpoint, at a school, et cetera. You can easily separate the sectarian killing from the occupation-influenced killing. And this isn’t meant to be a thorough study, but I have noticed that since I have been looking for it, the vast majority of Iraqi-on-Iraqi killing is indeed anti-occupation against pro-occupation, or vice versa. I am just ashamed that I hadn’t noticed it before, on my own. And of course this is to say nothing of US against Iraqi violence and Iraqi against US violence.

I, of course, was an advocate for withdrawal all along. It is not our country, and the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want us out. This alone is reason enough for us to leave. But having a clearer picture of what is going on in Iraq just reinforces the case for withdrawal for me. Not only do we have no right to be in Iraq, but if we leave the violence will likely drop significantly.

Relying on Robert Gates

Great, we’re apparently relying on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stop a war against Iran: Gates v. Cheney on Iran? (Think Progress)

Ron Paul Article

Excellent article on Ron Paul. I really hope he wins the Republican nomination, and it is looking more and more like he has a real chance.

SFSU, Finally

As some of you know, I am taking a couple of classes at City College of San Francisco this semester. A couple of snoozers – Critical Thinking and a Speech class.

But because I am taking those classes, I am now able to attend SFSU next semester. Woo! I have been looking forward to taking some History classes for a while. Also, I am guessing the campus will be a bit nicer, because the CCSF campus is kind of old and falling apart (especially the bathrooms).

Some downsides: It is further away. The night classes start at 7pm, which means I will get home no earlier than 11pm two or three nights per week. And it is more expensive. Time to start saving…

Truly Off His Rocker

The worst of the worst…here is a recent installment of the daily comic Marmaduke:

Really. This truly makes no sense whatsoever. The comics are almost never funny but they usually at least aren’t completely absurd.

Thanks to Joe Mathlete for bringing this and all the other Marmaduke comics to my attention in all their awful glory. As Joe Mathlete points out, Marmaduke is hopping up and down on two legs for some unexplained reason. The dog catchers, who are in their truck which is floating in mid-air, somehow confuse this with the moonwalk.

Amy Goodman, Get Better

Watching Democracy Now last night, I could tell something was up with Amy Goodman. Sure enough, she has Bell’s Palsy, a temporary paralysis of the face.

Just want to give a shout out to my favorite journalist – Amy, hope you get better soon!


Through some Google searching, I have discovered the strangely-named Dial-a-fix. It fixed some Windows Update problems I was having, and can evidently fix other problems as well. I am happy that I got it fixed, but if that program can fix it, why can’t Microsoft? Nothing on the MS knowledgebase helped me at all.

Also, never again will I reinstall Windows XP due to borked hardware. Borked software? – then yes, maybe an OS reinstall. But if your hardware is borked and you have to replace some or all of the components, give the following a try:
1) Make a Ghost image of the machine.
2) Transfer Ghost image to new machine. The first two steps here are only if you’re also using a different hard drive, obviously.
3) Insert WinXP install disc and boot from it.
4) Run the repair utility (not the recovery console). You’ll be asked if you want to run this rather than installing from scratch. This will take about the same amount of time as a fresh install takes you, and the machine will reboot a couple of times.
5) Talking about borked, all of your drivers will be borked. That’s OK. Just download and install all drivers that you need.
6) Your Windows Update may also be borked. Use the Dial-a-fix as suggested above. You will have to run Windows Update, by the way, because during the repair process it overwrites all of your Windows files and hence any updates you have done that aren’t on the install disc.

Voila! All of your programs, files, and settings are now intact on your new hardware. Isn’t exactly fast, but it sure is a lot faster than getting all of your programs and settings, etc., back how you wanted them.

Trusty Little Webserver

I love my trusty little web server that could. It lives in my closet and is a Pentium M (the same type you find in some laptops – low power, can run under high heat)…

root@pub0|log 12:15pm uptime
12:15:38 up 107 days, 16:21, 4 users, load average: 0.33, 0.10, 0.02

Anti-war Action

It’s a Saturday morning. What better thing is there to do than to participate in some anti-war action? Go ANSWER.

Update: I had a great time doing this. We put up posters on 24th Street and under the BART tracks along MLK in Oakland. The posters were mainly for the October 27 anti-war protest in San Francisco.

2.33 Terabytes

My personal computer storage is now up to 2.33 Terabytes. Sweet…

But I could totally use about another 3 drives.

Yay For Mornings

One of the few good things about the morning is when I wake up I can almost always count on having new email to read. Wheee how fun!

More On Iran

I didn’t have time to find the full text of the bill, but here is another probably scary bill that just passed the House of Representatives 397-16, with 19 not voting:
H R 1400 – Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 – To enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran, and for other purposes.

I call it scary because of the short description and because of who were among those who voted against it: John Conyers, Barbara Lee, and Ron Paul. Kucinich was a no-show, but I am guessing he would have voted no as well.

Update: Well, at least they threw this part in there: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force or the use of the United States Armed Forces against Iran.” And here’s the full text.

And We Move Closer To Another War

This article was on the front page of the New York Times today: Iran’s President Vows to Ignore U.N. Measures

The drums of war are being beaten louder and louder every day.

Update: And not shortly thereafter, the Lieberman Kyl Iran Amendment passes.

WordPress Upgrade Party

As if you hadn’t guessed from the last post, I am a nerd. And hence…this event on Wednesday is something that I would really like to go to:

WordPress 2.3 is coming out on Monday, so come out Wednesday evening and upgrade your blog with the pros. How badly can you screw it up when the developers are right there? If you upgrade your blog before Wednesday come and help out others and make feature requests.

Super-chill event, just bring your laptop, yourself, and your WordPress blog. I’ll provide booze, soft drinks, and wifi.

Topics of discussion will include Trackback Etiquette: Ping on the First Date?, Join the Conspiracy to Relabel All Websites Blogs, and Putting the Friend in XFN.

Unfortunately, there is another event that I would rather go to that night. Naomi Klein is coming to San Francisco to talk about her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Last Night As a MUD

Here’s part of last night portrayed as a MUD:

> go party
You have arrived at a party.
> look party
You see several people. You also see several beverages.
> drink mead
There is no mead.
> look beverages
You see wine, cocktails, and beer.
> drink wine
> talk people
> drink cocktail
> talk people
> drink beer
> talk people
> drink beer
You feel slightly inebriated.
> talk people
Several people are preparing to go to a bar.
> go bar
You arrive at the bar.
> order cocktail
You order a cocktail. Your inventory has decreased by $7.
> talk people
> go dieselboy
You arrive at Dieselboy with a party goer. Your inventory has decreased by $20.
> order 2 beer
Your inventory has decreased by $12.
> listen music
You listen to the music. It is quite enjoyable.
> dance
You proceed to get your schwerve on. You go boy.
> order beer, water
Your inventory has decreased by $8. You feel slightly inebriated.
> look watch
It is 2:15AM.
> talk party goer
You talk to the fellow party goer. It is time for him to go home.
> dance
You proceed to get your schwerve on. You go boy.
> dance
You proceed to get your schwerve on. You go boy.
> look watch
It is 3:10AM.
> go home
You go home.
Congratulations, FourMajor! You have leveled up! You have two skill points to allocate.
> train social
You train your social skill. Your social skill is now at 9.
> train confidence
You train your confidence skill. Your confidence skill is now at 8.
> exit
Goodnight, FourMajor! Until next time…


A couple days ago, the mercenary company Blackwater was at the center of a rather large incident in Iraq allegedly involving a dozen or two dead Iraqi civilians. There are conflicting reports, depending on who you want to believe, from the US State Department, the Iraqi government, and eyewitnesses at the scene. Some say the Blackwater employees were fired on first, some say they were responding to an exploded bomb, some say the bomb was too far away for that to be the reason, some say that it was because a civilian car (mother and child) ignored an order from police to stop and was slowing moving into the intersection, prompting the firefight. I have my preferences on who and what to believe, you have yours.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. What it all boils down to is that the Iraqi government has ordered Blackwater out of Iraq. It’s their country, so it should be up to them, no? Evidently not. The US government and Blackwater are basically saying that the Iraqi government has no jurisdiction to kick Blackwater out. I think this is really going to blow up into a much larger issue than it already is.

Imagine if an Iraqi mercenary group were in Washington D.C. protecting Iraqi officials, and they were ordered out of the country by the US government and refused. Imagine the uproar that would ensue. Fortunately for the US government, we get what we want and those folks would be out of here and/or imprisoned faster than you can say quagmire.

For some really great entertainment, listen to or watch yesterday’s Democracy Now. Blackwater expert Jeremy Scahill has a debate, about halfway through the show, with a security/mercenary firm trade group representative. For some decent reading on the issue, I found today’s NY Times article to be quite good (page A12, or I am guessing on their website).

Wait, What?

Holy crap, my Yelp profile has been viewed over 1000 times. Crazy.

Non-Focused Post

I’m watching The Office right now, season 3, and this I’ll have to say that this is a really great show. It is obviously hilarious. The characters are really well thought out. Last but not least, it is really sweet sometimes. Less obvious than the whole Pam and Jim thing, which is a good story to begin with, is the Michael and Jim thing. They obviously care for each other and every once in a while they do something really nice for each other. I think this element is what is missing from the British version. That was a good show, but nowhere near as good.

On a completely different topic, a white russian (or two) really hits the spot after a day of work and class. And it also helps me write a rambling blog post.

Kenneth Foster Lives

I am glad to hear this one:

Texas governor calls off execution

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today spared the life of inmate Kenneth Foster Jr., just hours before he was set to be executed for a murder he did not personally commit.

Perry’s decision to commute the death sentence of Foster — the getaway driver in a botched 1996 robbery that ended in a shooting — came after he received a rare recommendation to do so from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

This has been covered extensively on Democracy Now.

Recent Run-ins With TV News

The past two days I have caught a few minutes of Headline News. Once was, I think, here at the newspaper. They were talking about the Michael Vick case. Today was even worse. I was in a small cafe getting a bagel before work and the topic of discussion on Headline News was dieting soap opera stars. Horrible, just horrible.

I am so glad that I now get my news from sources other than the mainstream press.

It Is A Good Day

Picture from my scale this morning: 165

New Year’s Resolution: done

Week of September 15

I am really looking forward to the week of September 15. Why, because it’s my birthday? Well, yeah, but that isn’t the main reason.

The main reason is that September 15 is the start of a week of action in Washington D.C. aimed at stopping the war in Iraq. If it weren’t 3000 miles away, I would really try to make it.

I am probably dreaming, but I really hope to see things getting shut down. As in, so many people on the streets that the government can’t function effectively. Of course, October 27 is the day for local action and you’d better believe I will be there.

For Once, I Agree With Bush

Of course, actions speak louder than words, but this is the strongest I have agreed with Bush’s words in a LONG time:

…when asked about Mr. Levin’s assertion that the Iraqi Parliament should oust Mr. Maliki, the president’s answer — with its implicit lack of an endorsement — spoke volumes. “That’s up to the Iraqis to make that decision,” Mr. Bush said, “not American politicians.”

Source: Bush Takes a Step Away From Maliki – NY Times

Beer and a Haircut

I went to get a haircut today at like, the best barber ever today, who I had raved about earlier, I believe. Except this time it was more awesome. He gave me a beer to drink while I got my haircut. How awesome is that?

Only downside is I had to hold my finger over the top to prevent hair from getting in.


I’m mildly addicted to Minesweeper. I found a good site with a brief tutorial:

San Francisco Restaurants

San Francisco has the highest amount of restaurants per capita. I love it. There are so many different choices for food that I’ll never run out. Within walking distance of my apartment there is:
– pizza
– Thai
– Italian
– Brazilian
– Chinese
– Indian
– Mexican
– Spanish
– Japanese/sushi
– ice cream
– burgers
– Vietnamese
– French
– American

And near work there is:
– Italian
– Thai
– Vietnamese
– Turkish
– Indian
– Soup
– Indian

I definitely prefer the restaurant scene near home more, but I am discovering more and more hidden treasures near work. My favorites near work are Little Delhi, Anatolian Kitchen, Split Pea Seduction, King of Thai Noodle, and Little Joe’s. My favorites near home are Zarzuela, Okoze, Za Pizza, Escape From New York Pizza, Lemongrass, Gary Danko, and Swensen’s. Yum!

Current State of Activism

Here are the things that the current leaders of various activist movements suggest that you do:

For Impeachment of Bush/Cheney: wear orange
For Global Warming: Change your lightbulbs. Give us money.
For the Iraq War: Protest for two hours every two months.

I’m really getting sick of this. The message needs to change.

Mercenary War

From CounterPunch, Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, writes:

If you think the U.S. has only 160,000 troops in Iraq, think again.

With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation through the use of private war companies.

There are now almost 200,000 private “contractors” deployed in Iraq by Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored and whose crimes are virtually unpunished.

Read the full article.

Root Beer Cupcakes

OK, I really want to make some of these: Root Beer Float Cupcakes

San Francisco Mayoral Race

The 2007 San Francisco mayoral race will officially suck. Gavin Newsom is running for reelection and he doesn’t have any serious challengers. Matt Gonzales has announced he will not seek the office and Chris Daly has decided again that he will not run.

Now, I am not a huge Newsom hater. Actually I’d say that overall I approve of the job he is doing. But if Gonzales or Daly were running, I’d probably vote for one of those two. Also any way you look at it, especially with the city’s instant runoff voting, more choices are better. Right now the most serious contenders are Josh Wolf, the previously jailed journalist/blogger whose platform includes making San Francisco sovereign, and Chicken John, some performer/artsy type guy whose platform seems to mostly consist of “if we just make more art all of our problems will go away.”

I guess there’s always 2011 for an exciting mayoral race…

Well That Felt Good

I’ve recently been hooking up with the San Francisco A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. I went to a general meeting two weeks ago where I listened to some really bright people talk about recent developments in national and world affairs, ranging from Iraq to Iran to Jena, Louisiana. And then there was discussion about what is currently being done to remedy the problems they were talking about.

This really sounded great to me and I wanted to get more involved. I went to the next meeting this past Tuesday where I was able to do some actual work. Some frustration lately has been that all the other groups seem to be all talk and no action.

Myself and two other people got out on the streets and put up fliers for an anti-war rally in San Francisco and a movie that was showing tonight. We had a great time just chatting it up and stopping at every light post to put up a flier. They were actually my age, which was a nice change from the other groups that I have tried to get involved in. We also spoke with a few people on the street, including a drunk Spanish-speaking man who was saying something about having been a guerrilla in Guatemala.

One area of disappointment was that one person I was out there with I think was only out there because his mom was involved with the group. He actually said that he likes John McCain. John McCain? Mr. Escalation? And he’s out there putting up anti-war posters? Strange, but I guess actions speak louder than words.

I am looking forward to doing more things with these folks.

Garnett Trade

Celtics land Garnett in unprecedented 7-for-1 deal

Prediction: Even with Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, The Celtics will only have a 50-win season anyway.


Holy crap. I love finding new songs by my favorite artists.

Maynard James Keenan sang Where The Streets Have No Name on the Axis of Justice: Concert Series, Vol. 1 album.

Media Corrections We’d Like to See

I’ve been catching up on my CounterPunch tonight. Check out this short article: Media Corrections We’d Like to See

What a Depressing Show

I’ve been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm recently. I don’t know if I can watch any more. What a horribly depressing show. The guy just can’t do anything right.

Actually, somehow I am addicted. I can’t say that I enjoy the show. Maybe I’m just waiting for something good to happen.

Don’t Be Alarmed

I’ve decided to try a new way of waking up. A way that doesn’t involve an alarm clock.

The past two days I’ve woken up naturally and it feels great. I set my alarm as an emergency backup plan but haven’t needed it so far. I guess the key is to just get to bed at a respectable time, which I hadn’t been doing lately. I also tried keeping my bedroom blinds open to have the sunlight wake me up, but instead I had my &^@$ neighbor’s &@#* outside !*@^ light wake me up several times in the @*#$ night. So the blinds will stay closed. And so will the windows. It got pretty cold a couple nights ago, as it usually does.

Planet of the Drums

Last night, William and I headed out to Mighty to catch The Planet of the Drums. Dieselboy, Dara, AK1200 and Messinian were all there. It was the most amazing show I have ever been to. Those four went on together at 1am. Non-stop beats going the whole time. Great crowd. None of the guys there were trying to impress anyone…very relaxed. And unlike the show Alyssa and I went to a few months ago, the hardest drug I saw anyone doing was marijuana. And there were no guns 🙂

Also, the bar was very accessible (you had your drink within a minute). Too accessible, I might add 🙂

We didn’t check out the outside performance much, but we did check out the smaller room on the inside (there were a total of three acts going on at once). I’ll have to look up the other DJs and see when and where they were playing, because they were pretty good acts as well. I especially liked the guy who was DJing and playing drums.

The only question is…when is the next Planet of the Drums?

Belly Still There

Well I’ll have to admit that I am pretty happy with myself. Only 1.5 pounds to go and I will be at my goal of 165. Of course it has taken a remarkable amount of time to get from about 175 to 165. For some reason, the first 20-25 pounds fell right off.

While I’m happy with this and I feel much better physically, the belly is still there. It isn’t a huge belly but there is no question that it is a belly. So I don’t know…I guess I might as well keep going with the diet until the belly goes away. Actually I am thinking that if I do some daily weights and sit-ups it might help.

Or maybe I was just cursed with a body that doesn’t prioritize well. I would tell my body “ok take the belly off first and then you can take away from the arms, legs, butt, etc.” But unfortunately I don’t have that control. Not that it hasn’t gotten much smaller. It just doesn’t look like it has gotten 32 pounds smaller.

And I looked at a BMI calculator. Evidently I have to be at 159.5 or lower to not be considered overweight. So maybe my ideal weight is around 155? I really don’t know. I guess I will just have to keep looking in the mirror.

But for now I will just concentrate on those 1.5 pounds. That was my New Year’s resolution. I certainly knew I wanted to do it but I didn’t know if it was just something I was telling myself or whether I could actually do it. And if I am 165 on December 31st, I will be happy. But if I am 155 it will be even better.

Sadly, or maybe not, I have already figured out next year’s New Year’s resolution. Get out of debt! Of course I can get a head start on that…it will ease the pain of next year.

Windows Vista

So Alyssa and I picked out a new Dell laptop for her. It’s arrived and I have some time tonight to play with it (and install WoW and MS Office).

I have to admit I was a little frustrated with it for the first 15-30 minutes. But it is starting to grow on me. It isn’t slow or anything. But I guess I am glad we got her 2GB of RAM. Because, for instance, Minesweeper is taking up 67MB. Wow. I am just glad it has over 1GB left over. But as a comparison, my Windows XP machine right now is using 1.2GB of RAM (out of 2GB). I have a remarkable amount of applications open, as I usually do. The biggest thing the Dell laptop has going is World of Warcraft installer. So yeah, I guess it is a little bloated. Seems nice, though, as long as you have the system to handle it.

And it took a little hunting for me to find this one…to do the neat flippy thing you’ve seen/heard about, hit Windows+Tab instead of Alt+Tab.

Democracy Now!

The past two days has brought two great segments of Democracy Now.

Yesterday, they aired a segment they did with Ralph Nader in June at a conference called “Taming the Giant Corporation”. I think I am starting to realize that Nader is my man for domestic policy and Chomsky is my man for foreign policy and high-level analysis. Anyway, it is really amazing to see that at 73 years old, Ralph Nader has not lost any of his spunk, his ability to retain information, and his quick off-the-cuff speaking. Here is a snippet from the interview that really hit home with me (emphasis mine):

AMY GOODMAN: How do you think mass movements should organize themselves and hold politicians accountable, make them more accountable to citizen, civilian, non-citizen movements than corporations?

RALPH NADER: Well, let’s start with the easy things, like half of democracy is showing up. So why don’t workers who have lost their jobs or their pensions to industries that have gone to communist China with US Department of Commerce subsidy and encouragement, why don’t they mass and rally? I mean, who’s keeping them from rallying and massing? American Idol? Is that what’s doing it? I mean, let’s stop making excuses for ourselves. Let’s take the farmers, the dwindling number of farmers. They have great important causes that mesh with environmental causes at times, and the whole issue of genetic engineering and the dispossession of the small family farm by the big suppliers corporations and the big buying corporations. Why don’t they come to Washington, the way they did twenty years ago with their tractors? Show up!

I have found that to be so true the past couple of months. In my efforts to get some sort of meaningful global warming group going in the city, I’ve found lots of interested people but almost no one that is even willing to click on a link to RSVP for an event. This is a huge problem.

You can view the full transcript of the Nader segment here and the full show in video here.

And today, another great show. They dedicated most of the show to the Jena Six, an extremely disturbing and ongoing story of unbelievable racism going on in Louisiana. You can view the full transcript here and the full video here.


Classic WTF

A classic WTF: Employee shuts off A/C to computer room saying “I’m sure you can deal.” “…for two full days, employees of The State were unable to logon [sic] to their computers or access email, and that this caused business within The State to grind to a halt.”

Bad Fox News

Any shred of respect that I had for Fox News just disappeared (I don’t think it was there to begin with). Check this out:

Found on Think Progress.

Missed Opportunity at the Live Earth Concerts

I wrote a short article on the Live Earth concerts yesterday. You can find it on the new blog for the group I am trying to organize, The San Francisco Global Warming Group.

VMWare Fusion

Copy/paste from an email I sent out at work. In short, VMWare Fusion rocks:

Two really cool things about VMWare Fusion for Mac OS X. First of all, it has an automated Windows installer. You punch in your preferred username, password, and product key, and VMWare Fusion takes care of the whole Windows install for you. It even updates all of your drivers for you. None of this “click, wait 10 minutes, rinse, repeat” stuff. VMWare has done the Windows installer better than Microsoft.

Secondly, the “Unity” feature is really cool. It allows you to detach the individual windows from Windows and interact with them in OS X. For example, check out this screenshot.

Libby Fiasco Just Got Worse

I was extremely pissed off when I heard that Scooter Libby’s sentence has been commuted. Why should this asshole be able to get off scot free for revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent as part of the plot to quiet critics of the impending Iraq War, a war which has cost Iraqi approximately 1 million lives, cost the United States a few thousand lives, and resulted in millions of Iraqi refugees?

As I have said to a few other people, if there were an immediate call for a demonstration at City Hall involving sleeping overnight in sleeping bags…I’d be there. Maybe if I don’t hear anything in the next day or so I’ll organize some sort of demonstration.

The abuse of power that has taken place today is ridiculous. If it isn’t technically criminal, it should be.

Supreme Court Ages

The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot recently. This has prompted me to check them out on Wikipedia. A bit disappointing for a flaming liberal like myself are the ages of the justices and how they align with their record on progressive causes. The justices, sorted in order of descending age, with their political leanings, below.

Stevens, 87, liberal
Ginsburg, 74, liberal
Scalia, 71, conservative
Kennedy, 70, moderate
Breyer, 68, liberal
Souter, 67, liberal
Thomas, 59, conservative
Alito, 57, conservative
Roberts, 52, conservative

So the three youngest are conservative. The two oldest are liberal. I just hope someone decent gets into the White House in case one of these old fogies croaks. Imagine Giuliani getting elected and Stevens biting the dust. I am sure he’d appoint another conservative like Roberts. Then it would be 5 vs. 3 vs. 1. But I am pretty sure the House and Senate are still going to end up Democrat and the presidency will go to a Democrat. I guess the question then becomes…even if it is a Democrat, is that going to do us any good. I feel very confident in Edwards and Obama doing the right thing, and somewhat confident in Clinton doing the right thing. She may be a war monger but I don’t see her screwing up the Supreme Court for some reason.


On Sunday, September 9, 2007 at 10am, I intend to be at Greens Sports Bar sipping my first Bloody Mary and watching the Redskins play the Dolphins. Damn. Over two months away.

Update: What have I committed myself to? Here are the ingredients for a Bloody Mary, from Wikipedia:
* 2 parts vodka
* 3 parts tomato juice
* Ground salt and pepper
* 6 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
* 5 drops Tabasco
* 1 tsp. celery salt
* 1 tsp. horseradish
* Dash of lemon or lime juice
* Dash of orange juice (optional)

Brzezinski Rejects Paris Hilton Story

I wonder if she will get canned for this.

San Francisco Budget

Wow, San Francisco has the highest city budget per capita in the United States.

How about some better public transport out of that massive budget, eh?


I just watched this short video about the iPhone and I have to say that I’m not that impressed. The thing I like most about it is the visual voicemail, which when you think about it isn’t a very advanced feature, but for some reason other phones don’t have it. Basically it just presents you with a list of your voicemails so you can skip to the one you want rather than listening to them all in order.

As for all the other features, I say “meh.” My Cingular 3125 has got it already.

I Guess I’m a Wimp

Warning: This post not for the squeamish.

So I went to Kaiser today to get my ingrown toenail taken care of on my right big toe. The doctor rubbed my toe with some reddish-brown stuff, sprayed on this super cold stuff, and then injected some intense pain killer right next to/into my two main nerves in my toe. I think it was about this time that the doctor asked me if I felt OK. “Yeah, I feel fine,” I replied. He asked me if I felt sick to my stomach at all. No, I didn’t. He then took my pulse. He had the nurse in there to put a cool towel over my head and give me some ice water while the doctor removed about 1/4 of my toenail. I had no idea that I was about to faint, but they said it was pretty obvious, and it happens pretty often. I guess that makes me feel a little bit better. But I keep telling myself that it was because it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten yet.

Also, I am impressed. Impressed with my toenail that the doctor called “one of the most impressive ingrown toenails he has ever seen” and that if there were an ingrown toenail exhibit at a museum, my toenail would be in it.

I was more impressed with the doctor and the whole procedure. As they are removing 1/4 of my toenail, the only thing I felt was the doctor grabbing my toe. I think I was so nervous because I was expecting a lot of pain. I figured they’d be snipping the toenail right down to the root and it would hurt a lot. But the worst part of the whole procedure was when he was injecting the pain killer next to my nerves. And that only pinched a little bit.

Hopefully my toe will be less numb tomorrow morning and I can walk to work still.

This whole ordeal has impressed upon me that I need to take a little bit better care of myself. If I had gone to Kaiser soon after I noticed a problem, rather than two weeks later, the whole experience probably would have been a lot more pleasant.

New Approval Rating Low

I would really like to see Bush’s approval rating dip below 20% by the time he leaves office. It has hit a new low, 26% in a Newsweek poll. All the numbers here.

Minimum Wage on 30 Days

William and I watched the first episode of 30 Days today as we were waiting for World of Warcraft to install on his laptop. It was showing what it is like to live on minimum wage in America. I think it may have a rather profound effect on my personal spending habits. Just thinking about how little other people have really puts things into perspective.

Pardon the Interruption

My DMZ switch at home went dead. It served me well for a few years…but a enterprise switch it was not. My website proceeded to go down because of this. Back up now! Welcome back 🙂

Back in Action

I’ve just logged into World of Warcraft again for the first time in while. Check it out…



Two Movies in Two Days

Alyssa and I saw two movies in the past two days. On Thursday, we say Knocked Up, which despite hearing that it got good reviews, I was a little skeptical about seeing. I guess I didn’t find the whole “beautiful woman is impregnated by unattractive man, hilarity ensues” concept to hold much comedic potential. Boy, was I wrong. It was a hilarious movie. I don’t claim to be good at analyzing things like this, but one thing that struck me was the number of really unique characters. All of the characters seemed to have a very distinct personality and were funny in their own way. I also like that for a comedy, it was pretty long. I’d Netflix it.

Last night, we saw The Lives of Others. “The thriller/drama is about the cultural scene of East Berlin, monitored by secret agents of the Stasi, the GDR’s secret police.” (Wikipedia) I think this movie was pretty unpredictable, which was refreshing, and it kind of opened my eyes to what life in East Germany was like.

I’m not a very good critic. All I can say is that I recommend that you see these movies.

Bill Clinton Interviewed by Amy Goodman

I am not sure what I would do without Amy Goodman. Check out this interview she did with Bill Clinton in 2000. Clinton was just trying to call in to get out the vote, but Goodman actually asked tough questions. I thought Clinton did very well in the interview, except for when he briefly lost his cool, that is.


I usually like MUNI, but it sucks tonight…

Yes, I know it is a Sunday night at 10:42PM. But this timer was at 35 minutes when I first looked, and certainly the bus is supposed to run more often than that.

Liveblogging the Democratic Debates

Update 27: Kucinich says he doesn’t believe in assasination, even with Osama bin Laden. Obama says he doesn’t believe in assasination, but would take out bin Laden. And my train has arrived in San Francisco…I am cutting out of the debate about a half an hour early.

Update 26: Clinton was asked what she would do if diplomacy with Iran failed. She said “I am not going to get into hypotheticals.” That isn’t very reassuring. John Edwards said that he “wouldn’t take any option off the table.” Joe Biden much more realistic about this question, saying that Iran is a decade away from getting a nuke and that nukes are the only thing keeping us from attacking them. But at the end of the day, if they stuck a nuke on a pad, he would take it out. No one mentioned anything about our own nuclear arsenal in response to that question.

Update 25: So far, there has not been a single mention of the number of dead Iraqis. There have been approximately 400,000 to 940,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the Iraq War, as of one year ago.

Update 24: Dodd says that the principal responsibility of the United States president is to keep the American people safe and secure.

Update 23: Obama has been asked about his desire to increase the size of the military. I didn’t hear from him why he wants to do this.

Update 22: Kucinich is advocating cutting military spending.

Update 21: Christopher Dodd took the subject of rising gas prices and turned it around to a question of global warming. I like that. Mike Gravel “There is nothing I would do as president to lower the price of gasoline.” Even better.

Update 20: Bill Richardson thinks Bill Clinton would make a good Middle East “peace envoy.”

Update 19: Clinton says we should allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Joe Biden agrees, and is pissed. All of the Democrats now agree.

Update 18: Kucinich is putting forth the best health care plan; completely not for profit, health care for all. Applause from the audience (rare so far in the debate).

Update 17: Edwards is really sucking up to Obama. Is there going to be some Obama/Edwards ticket or something?

Update 16: Obama is letting Blitzer have it for asking the question about “Should English be the official language of the United States?”

Update 15: Again with the “If I had known then what I know now…” from Clinton. I am getting sick of that line.

Update 14: John Edwards is criticizing Hillary Clinton for not apologizing for her original vote to authorize the war. Obama isn’t criticizing her at all.

Update 13: Wolf is getting on Hillary Clinton for authorizing the war without reading the NIE report. She says she knew all the issues and was “briefed.” She didn’t say she regrets not reading the report. And she is blaming the Iraqis for their situation, not what we’re doing over there.

Update 12: Joe Biden is pissed off at Kucinich. He is saying the Democrat’s need 67 votes in the senate so long

Update 11: Kucinich is saying we should end the war by ending the funding.

Update 10: Mike Gravel is speaking. Already letting them have it. He says it is a Democrat’s war as well.

Update 9: They haven’t let Mike Gravel speak yet, 17 minutes in. They have given Kucinich about 15 seconds.

Update 8: Clinton is calling this “George Bush’s war.” I think it is just as much her’s.

Update 7: John Edwards is calling Clinton and Obama out on not speaking out on the Iraq War.

Update 6: Hillary Clinton says that all of the Republican candidates support the Iraq War. Is she not familiar with Ron Paul?

Update 5: Joe Biden says that if he funds the troops, he is protecting them.

Update 4: Kucinich says the PATRIOT Act needs to be overturned as unconstitutional. Wolf Blitzer is giving the candidates about 15 seconds per answer.

Update 3: John Edwards is calling the war on terrorism a bumper sticker. Right on, Edwards.

Update 2: Obama offering strong words on Iraq. Saying that the war there has only hurt our country’s security. He says we need to focus on Afghanistan. Question from me: Is Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan?

Update 1: According to this page, only two candidates, Democrat or Republican, supports same sex marriage.

The next Democratic debates are coming up. They are airing at 4pm PDT. I’ll be liveblogging them, in this post. You can watch the debates live on Hopefully my Verizon card won’t crap out on Caltrain.

Another AACS Key

45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B2

Instant Feedback

A copy/paste from an email I just sent out. For background, the content of the letter was urging the cab companies to use more fuel-efficient vehicles.

On Monday night after my failed meeting with two people in my neighborhood to discuss global warming and what we can do about it (they didn’t show up), I decided to take action anyway. Over a couple of hours, I sent letters to Newsom, Supervisor Peskin, and Green Cab. I also started sending letters to all of the cab companies in the city (there are a total of 30-some). I got to eight of them before I ran out of envelopes.

I included my phone number on these letters, and I actually got a phone call today from one of the cab companies, Bay Cab. The guy seemed a little bit confused but we had a several minute phone conversation about global warming, what is being done about it, and why he should feel a moral responsibility to do something about it.

There definitely wasn’t much progress made in the conversation — I think we would need a couple hours of conversation to make progress — but it was something. He was under the impression that George Bush was doing something about global warming, and hopefully I at least placed some doubt in his mind.

Being new at this activism thing…I learned today that the smallest bit of success can be very motivating.


Before Alyssa goes to law school, we decided that we’d like to take a trip together somewhere. Camping in Canada? Too crowded, we decided. Mexico? Nah (I don’t remember why). Chicago? Maybe…maybe too expensive.

Then out of nowhere…North Dakota? Hell yes. We will vacation in North Dakota’s largest city, Fargo, population 90,599.

I am looking forward to going to the local yokel restaurants and bars. Also just seeing what life is like in such a sparsely populated state. Looking at the satellite view on Google Maps, that area is nothing but farms. And then if you look at the map view on Google Maps…the whole state is filled with a grid pattern of roads. Should be interesting.

The Home Stretch

At 169 pounds…I’ve only got 4 pounds left until I reach my goal.

As I was showering, I realized something weird. I have lost 14.9% of my original body mass.

So now on the way to work, I can sing that song, “I’m half the man I used to be!” Or maybe it should be “I’m 85.1% of the man I used to be!”

I am really looking forward to reaching my goal. So close!

Dirty, Dirty Lawmakers

I was sickened when I read this article this morning: Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process

I was very surprised to hear that Obama is on-board with this one. I really wanted to vote Democrat in 2008. They aren’t letting it happen.

Hurdles to Combating Global Warming

I am organizing a Russian Hill global warming group through some postings on Craigslist. Our first meeting is tonight.

I am sitting in Starbucks trying to do my homework to answer some questions and get some ideas ahead of the meeting. Some questions are:
– What are the man-made causes of global warming?
We know the general list. Cars, trucks, airplanes, most power plants, deforestation. But in order to do something about the problem, we need numbers. We need to know where our efforts will have the most effect. A quick Google search turned up one promising link. Unfortunately it was several years old and the percentages added up to over 100%

– Where does my electricity come from?
This turned up even less results (0) than the first question. I have no idea where my electricty comes from. A Google search implies that very few people in the country will be able to answer this question easily. PG&E does have some information. It says that 58% of their energy comes from non or low-emitting sources. This implies that 42% comes from heavy emitting sources, but it doesn’t say explicitly.
Update: Obviously, I was researching this while I was writing. Thanks to Wikipedia, I have a pretty good breakdown.

– Where does my food come from?
This one will take a bit more research, and I couldn’t expect it to be answered by a simple Google search.

– What can I do to combat global warming?
Most or all websites that you go to talk only of individual action. For real change in habits to take place, we need political action as well.

Hopefully the group can put our minds together and come up with some answers and solutions.

Mike Gravel

Mike Gravel seems to be doing to Democrats what Ron Paul is doing to Republicans. Calling them out on their BS on live TV.

Go, Mike, go.

Cold War

For my book club this week, we are reading Globalization or the Age of Transition? by Immanuel Wallerstein. The essay says this about the agreements that came out of the Yalta Conference between the United States and the USSR:

…both sides were free, indeed encouraged, to engage in vigorous, reciprocally hostile rhetoric, whose chief function seemed to be to consolidate the political control of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. over their respective zones.

Holy crap…that is a pretty serious claim but now that I think about it, it is pretty plausible. I’ll ask the book club about that one to see if they can offer any insight.


Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what can be done about global warming. One thing that can be done, and I don’t think enters many people’s minds, is to eat locally.

Our food often travels thousands of miles before reaching our mouth. This is all well and good if you don’t have to worry about the consequences of how it got here. Unfortunately we do have to worry about this very thing.

Eating locally aims to reduce this impact on the environment. On a whim, I googled “eat locally san francisco.” The first result was for Locavores, “a group of concerned culinary adventurers who are making an effort to eat only foods grown or harvested within a 100 mile radius of San Francisco for an entire month.”

Their next eat local month is September. It looks like I am going to give this a try and see what I learn. Of course, it will be much easier for me than for someone from, say, Arizona. It seems as though Northern California has enough variety so that I will still be able to eat like a king. Continues to Rock

I couldn’t have picked a better ISP…

So Jasper plans to roll out his own equipment, providing residential Internet access at speeds of up to 24 Mbps — nearly four times the speed of what Comcast and AT&T currently offer on their next-generation equipment. And he plans to offer that service not only to some of its 32,000 customers, but also to other small ISPs across the state. These other ISPs will be able to buy wholesale access from Sonic, replacing AT&T’s traditional role.

Full article here.

Basically is becoming their own phone company so they can’t get screwed over by AT&T and the FCC. Rock, rock on.

Learning Some New Tech

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.

:-( Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales’ Harvard Law classmates have taken out a one-page ad in today’s Washington Post. This story is getting more interesting by the day.


I wanted to like Obama, I really did. There’s still hope for him getting my vote if he reverses the things he has been putting forth lately…Read up:
Reassessing Barack Obama
Obama’s Military Plans Conflict with Progressive Values

Both links from BeyondChron.


It’s official; the Hitachi 1TB SATA hard drive is on Newegg.

Anyone got $600 to spare?

Of course, I am partial to Western Digital, so I probably won’t get a 1TB drive until they release one. Probably within a year, I am guessing.


Reached my next milestone…I am officially below my previous low weight.

Only 6.5 pounds to go!

I am looking forward to eating like a normal person.


Exactly one month ago, I weighed in at 175.5. Well after being up and down between that and 180, I’ve finally managed to shed another pound and get to within 10 pounds of my goal. The next milestone is 172, the low weight I was at when I was dieting and exercising the last time.

However…I look at my belly and I am thinking, “That looks like more than 9.5 pounds of belly fat.” Oh well, I’ll get to 165 and take it from there.

Computer Repair Shops Are a Ripoff

Please, do the right thing and befriend a geek. Then have him or her help you with your computer problems. A beer or some cookies should be all the payment that is required.

Why? Because computer repair shops will rip you off, or at least most of them, anyway.

And in other news, I think they gave me caf instead of decaf at the coffee shop tonight. And hence, I can’t sleep.

It’s a Good Day

And somehow, during a weekend in which I exercised zero, and didn’t eat too badly but didn’t eat very well either, I lost a pound.

SFSU Update

I decided I needed to come into work late today so I could make some “business hours” phone calls that have been piling up. I am so glad I did.

I called SFSU, and the admissions counselor said that if I take the two required general education courses this summer at CCSF (City College), I can still be admitted for the fall. Wow. I was totally not expecting that. Woo!


For only the second time, Bush’s approval rating drops to 28%.

Of course, approval ratings will go up and down slightly due to margin of error and also due to who you ask. This particular rating is from Newsweek, while others have him as high as 38%.

Enough Bitching, Time for Action

Click here to check out
The San Francisco Out of Iraq Group!

Our Massive Military Budget

If you’d like to have a better conception of just how huge our military budget is, I suggest you read this article: Income Redistribution in Disguise: Escalating Military Spending, By Ismael Hossein-Zadeh (Counterpunch)


There are two issues that are top on my list for things that need changing. The Iraq War (let’s get the hell out of there) and global warming. As I walk through the city streets almost every day, rarely do I see anything being done by ordinary citizens on either of these two issues. How are things going to change if we don’t make them change?

I figured there would be a few possible avenues that I could help make some progress. First, in concert with someone else, I checked with my Chomsky book club basically asking the question, “Reading these books has given us a better understanding of the world. Wouldn’t it be great, since we are already a group, to do something about these things as a group?”

It was decided that people didn’t want to do anything as a group. We’ll just keep reading about what is wrong with the world. Granted, certain individuals are certainly doing things outside of the group to right the wrongs that they see. Anyway, that disappointed me, but I decided to explore other possibilities for action.

Before I continue, I should point out that there are organizations that work for change. But there are some major problems that I have with organizations like the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and World Can’t Wait. First of all, the events aren’t nearly frequent enough. Secondly, they are generally always in the same place all the time (5th and Market). How can you have an affect on a large number of people if you are always in one place? The same people will see you every time. Also, specific to A.N.S.W.E.R., they don’t focus. They want to get us out of Iraq and free Mumia and something about the Cuban five and and and… Having said this, I am currently trying to join up with one or both of those groups. We’ll see how that goes.

I think it would be good to form some local, smaller organizations which both do their own thing and join with larger organizations for select events. So I went ahead and made two posts on Craigslist. One was for The Russian Hill Out of Iraq Group. The second was for The Russian Hill Global Warming Group. And you wouldn’t believe how few responses I got. Zero. Zero responses. You know people are looking at these group listings. I guess they’d rather join the Gay Scrabble Club (seriously, I saw a posting for this) than actually do something about what is wrong with the world.

OK, so maybe some people had a different idea about how to approach problems than I did. Fair enough. So I put myself on the other side of the Craigslist posting and responded to one that wanted to meet with other people to explore how to do something about the problems that this person saw in the world. It was more of a general group, and it wasn’t neighborhood-specific, but I figured I would give it a shot. I responded, as did two other people. Four people is better than one, at least. Well the group creator emailed all of us with some ideas on how to meet up. I responded, with three days passed I have not heard from the other two people nor have I heard again from the group creator.

Maybe Lee Iacocca was right. Maybe Rich was right. People do need to be more outraged. If people just took one night per week to do something about the problems that they saw in the world, rather than watching TV or going to a basketball game or “getting their drink on,” I think a lot of people would live in a much better place. Seriously, 20,000 people regularly meet in the same place at the same time to watch a basketball game for $20-$200 but we can’t get four people together for an hour to do something about the world, all for the price of bus fare and a cup of coffee?

Now don’t get me wrong. I could certainly do more. A lot more. And my ideas about what is not being done correctly to make change are likely to be out of whack. But I have found that most people don’t want to even open their mouths let alone get their hands dirty.

And like Lee Iacocca, I am mad as hell. If I can’t find other people to join up with that want to do something about the problems in the world, I will find out what I can do on my own, not just in terms of changing my personal lifestyle (war tax resistance, buying local, among many, many other things) but also in terms of changing the behaviors of other people. As liberal as I might be, I often have the very Ayn-Rand-ish viewpoint that I’m not going to wait around for others to let me do what needs to be done.

People My Age

I don’t know what it is, but I don’t really know almost anyone my age out here, except for Alyssa.

I don’t think anyone in the Infrastructure group at the Chronicle, which I am a part of, is under 35. Maybe one guy, but no less than 30. And at the company that actually employs me, I think one person is in her mid-20’s. Other than that, probably about 30 and older.

In the Chomsky Book Club that I go to every two weeks, I don’t think there is anyone under 30 that has attended recently.

There isn’t anything wrong with this, I guess, it is just kind of peculiar. Furthermore, I think I am getting either increasingly bad at guessing people’s ages or I just don’t notice someone’s age as much as maybe I used to.

315 Seconds

I’ve decided that in the run-up to school starting again part time, I might as well work on my career skills a little bit more. So I am going to go for my CCDP (Cisco Certified Design Professional), because with the tests that I passed for my CCNP, I only need two more test to get the CCDP.

One interesting thing that I have read so far is that network engineers are expected to achieve 99.999% network availability. This means that in the course of a year, up to five minutes and 15 seconds of network downtime is acceptable. Yikes.

Copyright, or Lack Thereof

I just realized I had no information about copyright on my blog. Well, I added the following to the bottom of all the pages: “Copy this content freely — no attribution is needed to the original author.”

“Censoring a Number” on Slashdot

Slashdot has an article up about how the MPAA is sending takedown notices to websites that publish a certain number called the HD-DVD Processing Key. This number is used to decrypt (and hence, watch) HD-DVD movies. Certain privileged companies get to use this number so that their players can play these movies. But what if you wanted to watch your HD-DVD movie in Linux, or with some other unsupported method? You’d need this number.

Well the first comment to the Slashdot article had that very number in it. I find this hilarious…a slap in the face to the MPAA. Oh, what is the number, you ask? 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Hack away.


Update: and…we have Also, Wired joins the fight.

Update 2: Kevin Rose does the right thing.

“Skateboard” Part III

Here is a good article on “Skateboard,” the legless man that got around on a skateboard: Tenderloin mourns an original: Legless panhandler known as ‘Skateboard,’ killed by mail truck, lived life on the edge

Thanks to Alyssa, SFGate reader extraordinaire, for the link.

WordPress Search and Replace Plugin

So a few weeks ago I made a change to my site on how the permalinks were displayed. A permalink is a link that you can use permanently to link to one of my posts. So if you wanted to say “Look at what this idiot Stu said about Democracy” on your blog and link to a post that I had written rather than the main page, which changes, you’d link to a permalink of mine.

The permalinks had previously been displayed as:

I changed it to:

When I put an image into one of my posts (such as a picture or a screenshot), I would write the HTML like this: img src=”images/image.jpg” That way, if I ever changed the name of my website to, say,, I wouldn’t have to change any of my image tags. Well, when I changed my permalink structure, all this got broken. Instead of looking for, my web server was looking for This obviously wasn’t going to work. I figured there had to be a better way…

Thankfully, there is. What I did was to download this nifty search and replace plugin. I replaced all instances of “images/” with “”. This way, I can use the permalink format that I like. And should I ever change my domain name, I can simply do another search and replace. Oh, and for good measure: w00t.

House Panel Approves Subpoena for Rice

House Panel Approves Subpoena for Rice

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration’s claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

This should be good…

Heartbreaking Update on the Legless Man

Remember the legless man that got around on a skateboard that I posted about in January? Well there is a tragic update on him. He was struck and killed by a mail truck today. After seeing him and writing about him, hearing this definitely made me a little upset.

Sweet Sweet Webmail

I’ve been thinking for a while now that while GMail is great, I’d really like to host my own mail. Except I would want webmail, and I don’t want to use SquirrelMail. Well, after a little bit of searching, I found Roundcube WebMail. It’s AJAXy and it is GPL. Looks good to me. Of course it is still in early development stages, but I’ll take a look at it.

And now…A screenshot.

That’s a Lot of Blogs

“Since 2004, the number of blogs on the Internet has grown by a factor of 50…”

from MotherJones (Internet Don Chooses Sides in 2008 Race)

Bob Dylan

I haven’t listened to much Bob Dylan. I really need to. I really like the songs “John Brown” and, as of tonight, “Masters of War.”

Time to hunt down VNV Nation – Judgement and Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

NBA Playoff Prediction

It is time for my annual NBA Playoffs prediction that no one cares about:

round one:
4-1 Detroit over Orlando
4-3 Miami over Chicago
4-2 Toronto over New Jersey
4-1 Cleveland over Washington
4-2 Dallas over Golden State
4-2 Houston over Utah
4-2 San Antonio over Denver
4-3 Phoenix over LA Lakers

conference semifinals:
4-3 Miami over Detroit
4-2 Toronto over Cleveland
4-1 Dallas over Houston
4-2 San Antonio over Phoenix

conference finals:
4-0 Miami over Toronto
4-3 Dallas over San Antonio

4-3 Dallas over Miami

The LeBrons

Ah, damn it. Looks like we have to play the Cleveland LeBrons in the first round of the playoffs. He’s going to torch us.

Michael Albert on Democracy Now

Michael Albert, co-editor and co-founder of Z Magazine, was on Democracy Now yesterday. I hadn’t heard of him until today, but I have read Z Magazine a few times.

He said something that I think is rather brilliant. He was quite long-winded in saying it, so I’ve summed it up: There are two obstacles for people to try to change the world around them. One is an ignorance of reality. The second is that they think there is no alternative.

This man’s ideas rather intrigue me; I think at some point I will read one of his books: Parecon: Life After Capitalism


So after working night shift, I told myself that I would start getting more sleep, and start respecting the need for sleep in general. Well, two nights ago, that plan fell through. I had a ton of laundry to do and I wanted to get caught up on Chilling Effects. And watch 24. And do a couple other things. Well I did end up getting a lot done, but I stayed up until 2am to do it. That wasn’t very good.

For the first time since working night shift, I got my days seriously mixed up. I was thinking that I had walked to work from the train station yesterday morning, when in fact it was actually Monday morning that I did that. That kind of confusion would happen all the time when I worked night shift and it was really, really weird. Well today, I have one or two things I could do. I could (a) watch the Wizards game at the sports bar or (b) work on Chilling Effects. I’m not going to do both. I am totally hitting the hay by 10pm tonight and getting a full 9.5 hours of sleep, which is a full night for me. Man, that will be nice. Damn you, over-ambitious Stu from two nights ago!

Did You Know…

Did you know that there are about 2.3 million Iraqi refugees? And that there are about 1.9 million internally displaced Iraqis? I sure didn’t, until I read this article.

Imagine 2.3 million Americans leaving the country. Now imagine 23.8 million people leaving the US, which is the equivalent to what has happened in Iraq.

What a Sad End to the Season

From Steve Kerr’s final NBA power rankings:
“With no Gilbert Arenas or Caron Butler, the Wizards are the team everyone in the East wants to play in the first round. It looks like Toronto will have the honor.”

Ah This Should Be Good

I’ve got my glass of wine. I’ve got my Chilling Effects (boring but relaxing at the same time). And I’ve got Democracy Now, today’s show with Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. I’ll update this later with links.


OK, 24 has officially gotten really ridiculous. I’m going to finish watching the season anyway, but…yeah. Give me a break.

Enough Don Imus

This sums up how I feel about the coverage of the Don Imus story: Outrageous Words, Outrageous Deeds (article by Ralph Nader)

Argh on Technical Support, Again

Well one of my technical support queries got answered quite well today. The second one, however, not so much. In my query, I said “please give me a call.” But they couldn’t call, could they? Noooo, they decided to email about calling. OK, so I played their little game. I said “I am available today from 1pm – 5pm Pacific.” Haven’t heard back…

Anyway, why would you email about calling? When I worked in tech support and I knew someone wanted a call back, I would call first and if they didn’t pick up then I would either leave a voice mail or leave a voice mail AND send an email.


Justin Morneau

I officially have not been keeping up on baseball. I didn’t realize how much I had missed out on when I just today heard of Justin Morneau, the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins who last year won the American League MVP.

Damn…I need to keep up at least a LITTLE bit this year. So far all I have done is to check the Orioles’ record every couple of days. I have to make it to some Giants games this year, go to Oakland for the Orioles vs. Athletics game, and catch a few Orioles games at the sports bar. Of course there are the NBA playoffs to take up my once-every-few-weeks sports bar trip…so after the NBA playoffs I’ll catch some MLB games at the sports bar.

George, Go Sit in the Corner

OK, George, that’s enough of that now. How many times have I told you to not lie to the American public? Bad Bush, BAD BUSH! *rolls up a newspaper and whacks him on the head*

VIDEO COMPILATION: Bush Fear-Mongering Reaches Fever Pitch In Iraq Speech

Eco-friendlier Way to Travel

I am a train fan. I take Caltrain fairly regularly, and I have taken Amtrak a couple times out to Davis.

After a recent episode of Forum, I have begun to think more about what it means to fly. So I did a little research, and found that train travel is by far the best way to travel in terms of energy consumption. Cars, buses, and airplanes use about the same amount of energy per passenger mile, while trains use about 60% of what the other modes use.

Of course, Amtrak is also remarkably more expensive, about double what you would pay for a plane or bus. That will hopefully change.

As our climate problem gets worse, and more people get concerned about it, I would hope to see hundreds of billions of dollars doing into train travel. Where do we get this money? The military budget. Hopefully Americans will learn to swallow that one.

Technical Support Today

I called technical support twice today. The first experience:

Me: “Hi, we’re having some problems with HSRP. It’s not letting us use more than 16 standby groups. Do you know of any way to get around this?”
Him: “Uhh. Could you email that to us?”

That was hours ago. Haven’t received even a confirmation.

The second experience:

I called a support number at 4:15pm Pacific. I get an automated message saying it is after hours because they are open M-F 8am – 8pm Eastern. 4:15pm Pacific = 7:15pm Eastern. Am I missing something? So I send an email, which they say will be responded to “within one business day.”

What is wrong with technical support? Having worked in technical support, I know that crap like this just isn’t acceptable.

Two Thirds

Another diet post…

I am all about numbers and milestones relating to those numbers.

I have now reached and surpassed the two thirds mark for my weight loss goal. I’ve lost 23 pounds and I have 10.5 to go. Hopefully very soon I will reach the next milestone of only 10 pounds to go. Woo!

Little Miss Sunshine

My mom and I just watched Little Miss Sunshine, and I thought it was just great. I was expecting a run-of-the-mill comedy, but it was a really sweet and emotional movie too (without the mushy romance). Definitely not a cookie cutter either.

Another Diet Post

Down to 177.5 now…that is 21 pounds from the start and 12.5 pounds from the finish. Woohoo!

Getting Left in the Dust

I am usually on top of things technology wise. But certain trends just don’t do it for me.

Take Twitter, a newish site that “that allows members to inform each other about what they are doing and what they think. It allows users to send messages via phone, instant messaging or the Twitter website.” (Wikipedia)

Is it just me, or is it (1) a big pain to always be putting in things like “on my way to work” and (2) really annoying to be constantly updated with what all of your acquaintances are doing throughout the day? To me, that would be very disinteresting and a little too much information about myself being put out there. I just don’t see the appeal. But the hipster Web 2.0 crowd evidently sees the appeal. Twitter won the 2007 South By Southwest Web Award.

And then there is MySpace. It seems like most everyone my age is on MySpace. I refuse, though. What is wrong with phone calls, IMs, blogs, and forums? Most of the MySpace pages are butt-ugly. Ze Frank even had a “I Knows Me Some Ugly MySpace Showdown.

And in 5 years…everyone will be on MySpace. Everyone will be on Twitter. Here’s to hoping I don’t cave. Goes Mobile

After a little bit of searching, I found WP-PDA for displaying my site correctly on mobile devices. Just go to the regular URL on your mobile device and it should render correctly.

Ban Ki-moon Close Call

This is one of the scariest videos I have seen in while…I read about it but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I watched the video. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the right, Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Kamel al-Maliki on the left.

Things have to be really bad in Iraq if a rocket can explode 50 yards away from the UN Secretary General.

Democracy Now!

Democracy Now rocks. I regularly watch their podcast.

The LeftList

Well, I have a bit of a starter page for The LeftList: Check ‘er out here.

The biggest bit of work will probably be populating it with events. I think I have a good idea of which websites to check for events in order to combine them all on my site. As you can see, I’ve got a series of “phases,” each of which I don’t think will take too too long to implement.

An Event List for the Left

At the Chomsky Book Club last night (by the way, William, you’ve still got to come to this), I asked the group if they knew of a comprehensive website that listed events such as protests. I didn’t get a very good answer. It amounted to “join” and “I hear about things through people that I know.” I don’t think that is good enough.

I think a huge problem with the left (and maybe with the right, too, but then again they’ve got their mega churches) is that people just don’t know that events are happening. I can say that that is the case with me. I hear about the major protests, but that is about it. Even though I subscribe to several “progressive” RSS feeds and watch the Democracy Now podcast a few times per week, I just don’t hear about things. I think this is something that needs to change.

So I’ve got an idea brewing in my head for a website that would simply list events by type and location. It would also allow people to submit events and to request RSVPs. I think it is a missing and necessary resource for the left.

I hope I can find the time to do this.

A Long-Term Solution

A question that has been on my mind for a few years now is: How is change most easily brought about?

At first, I thought the answer was individuals making changes in their own lives. Certainly, this has some value, but I soon realized that it is extremely difficult to make change in society in this way.

More recently, I have thought about and participated in the idea of mass protest. This certainly is more effective than individual change. But let us think in very simple terms here. Say the thing you are protesting against is the use of public funds to finance a new highway. While you and your fellow protesters are marching down Maple Street with your signs, yelling your catch phrases, the construction crews are busy pouring concrete five miles away. There is no direct connection between the protest and the thing you are protesting against.The construction goes on and those in power happily ignore you.

So what is at the heart of the matter, then? In many cases, it is money. Without money, those in power cannot fund the projects that you don’t like. The money obviously comes from taxes. You get taxed on your income. No income equals no money for the project.

But are you going to just stop working? Hell no. First of all, you won’t do almost any good by yourself. The government won’t miss your $10,000 in yearly taxes. More importantly, how are you going to pay your rent and feed yourself?

So what I have been thinking about lately is unions. Multi-industry unions, so that you’re not just fighting for your own working conditions, but the policies that affect many people in the country. These unions would have to have a large bank account. You pay your union dues, which essentially become a savings account for when the union goes on strike. If a large portion of the union agrees strongly enough for or against a policy, they can instantly go on strike. Imagine 25% of the income taxes suddenly disappearing. Do you think the government would notice you then? Do you think the government might notice you more than if you were marching in the street holding a sign up? Hell, the government would be so scared that even the mention of a strike would greatly influence policy.

If you look at our current system, the best way we have of creating change is elections. Unfortunately, in our current system we really only get two choices many times. Candidate A who you agree with 10% of the time and Candidate B who you agree with 20% of the time. And you only get to choose at most every two years. That simply isn’t good enough. We’re being forced to vote on one issue, if that.

I think that my method that I described above would significantly speed up the transition from public opinion to public policy. I’ll be thinking about this much more in the coming weeks and hopefully discussing it with my book club and other friends and family.

Yay For Vermont, Part II

Yay again for Vermont politics: Vermont towns seek to impeach Bush

“Props” to Alyssa for the link.

Halfway There

When I started my diet on January 3 I was my heaviest ever, 198.5 pounds. I am just glad I didn’t get to 200.

Initially, I lost weight rapidly. I got down to 182.5, 16 pounds from where I started and 17.5 pounds from where I needed to be. Then Gary Danko happened, which threw me off for a good week. I didn’t follow my diet very well and I got back up to 186. Diets have their ups and downs, especially when you’re dealing with 33.5 pounds, so I just shrugged it off and “charged forward.”

The next phase definitely wasn’t as good as the initial phase, but I have still lost weight. I am proud to report that this morning’s weigh-in was at 181.5. That is 17 pounds from where I started and 16.5 pounds from my final goal. Woo! The halfway point after just two months! That makes me feel great.

And now I will reveal my “secret” to weight loss. Of course, it isn’t a secret at all, since dieting is essentially just starving yourself; burning more calories than you consume. There is no way around that.

First of all, I am very lucky to have a job that fits in very well with my diet. I live two miles from work, and if I go the right way, the walk to and from is quite beautiful. So I have been walking to and from work most days, for four miles per day of walking. That is my only real exercise. But I think it is plenty; 70 minutes of walking per day is nothing to sneeze at.

The other component is the food. This whole time I have been skipping one meal per day and replacing it with a very small snack. I eventually settled on breakfast as the meal to skip, and in its place I just drink a bottle of juice in the morning. For lunch, I have the snack bar in the building make me a turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. Or I go over to the Latte Express and get myself a Vietnamese sandwich. I really don’t know I haven’t gotten bored of the turkey sandwich yet, I am just glad that I haven’t. If I really can’t stand it, I will have a bag of chips in the afternoon. And then for dinner, I have something that is pre-portioned. Something pre-made. I have not cooked for myself almost at all during this time. If I cooked for myself, the portions would be too big for a diet. So I started off for a while having different kinds of “wraps” from my local grocery store. Greek wrap, bean and cheese wrap, burrito. Not the most nutritious things, but only about 500 calories and quite tasty.

I did eventually tire of these and recently I have switched to a can of cheese ravioli with some chips and salsa to add to it, as the ravioli is only about 380 calories. So let’s add this up:

Juice: 250 calories
Sandwich: 500 calories
Snack: 250 calories
Dinner: 500 calories
Total: 1500 calories

From some earlier “analysis,” I need about 3000 calories/day to break even in weight. Walking makes this higher. So on my best days (with no free lunches at work, walking both ways, and no drinking at night), I estimate that I have a 2000 calorie deficit. If I put my mind to it, I can easily lose about one pound per day. This can be hard to do for a whole week straight.

So this is how I have done it so far, and this is how I will continue to do it until 165. My advice for anyone that wants it:
– Make exercising part of “doing” something. My “doing” something is getting to work. It may be a little more difficult for you to find your thing to do, but just keep looking.
– Skip a meal and replace it with a small snack.
– Eat yummy things in small portions. I look forward to my dinners because they are tasty, but I just pick out things that have relatively low calories per portion.
– After eating your “allotted” portion, you may still feel really hungry. Give yourself 30 minutes, and you will probably feel more full after your mind has caught up with your belly.

Anyway, that is my advice, and I hope someone can use it. As for me, wish me luck in my last 16.5 pounds!


Holy crap, there really was an earthquake yesterday. I heard some coworkers talking about it, but when they were saying “What’s its eventID?,” I just figured it was some nerd joke. It was evidently felt in downtown San Francisco, but I sure didn’t feel anything.

I am both scared of and somewhat mystified by the prospect of experiencing the “big one” that is supposedly coming in the next 30 years.

I Like Vermont Politics

Vermont Becomes First State to Call for US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

Another Failed Attempt at Linux on the Desktop

I recently set out to replace Windows XP with Kubuntu GNU/Linux. I figured it might take a couple of months before I would be comfortable with completely removing Windows from my system. It turns out that I won’t be able to remove it at all. In fact, I am giving up on Linux on my main desktop completely.

The reason? My Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card is not supported. Creative doesn’t have a driver and they won’t give any information to ALSA so that they can make a driver. It is really, really annoying.

And right now I need a Linux desktop to do development of the client side of Project Stockton. So it looks like what I am going to do is purchase a cheap, small, and quiet desktop devoted to Linux. I’ll need to get a KVM switch, too.

I Get the Last Laugh

So it turns out that I owe money to the IRS. I really thought I would be getting money back. Oh well. I get the last laugh…the check I am sending them is #666. And I didn’t plan it like that, either.

Configure Error

I was trying to install snort on a Debian machine, and during the configure I got the following error:

“C compiler cannot create executables”

After searching The Google, I found someone saying to just install g++ (I had already installed gcc). That fixed it.

Just want to bump this solution up on the Google rankings.

The Saddest Thing

I saw one of the saddest things I have ever seen a few days ago on my way to work. There was a man downtown with no legs. He was standing up, as much as a legless man can stand up, on a skateboard, which he was using to scoot himself around by pushing off against the sidewalk with his hands.

And the thing is, in this city homeless and disabled people have plenty of services available to them. So I am guessing that he could have a wheelchair. But for one reason or another, he has decided to forgo the wheelchair. Maybe he had one but he sold it? Who knows. All I know is that that was a really horrible thing to see.

Diet at Day 25

You probably noticed that the picture of my hairy beer belly did not appear on the site as “promised.” What a relief, eh? Well maybe I will eventually post some sort of “before” picture. But the real point is to lose weight. And that has been coming along very well.

As of this morning, I have lost a total of 11 pounds. I am quite pleased with myself 🙂 Already my clothes are fitting better. I am really looking forward to getting down to 165. It will be nice to not have to carry around all of this unneeded weight. And I think when I get to that weight I might even join a basketball league. I think I will have my old speed back.

Project Stockton

I have had a bunch of ideas floating around my head quite regularly for the past couple of years. These are ideas that have stuck with me, and not just floated off into nothing like some grand ideas often do.

The ideas are for a revolutionary massively multiplayer online game. The main concepts are:
– Everything in the world is player generated, except nature. There will be no NPCs (non-player characters). Any missions that exist will be player created. Any buildings and items will be player created.
– You won’t be able to “see” your stats. If you want to know how good you are at bow hunting, you should shoot an arrow and see how accurate it is. You won’t see everyone’s name floating above their heads. If you want to know their name, you ask them.
– The code will be released under the GPL (GNU Public License). I don’t like the concept of “owning” something that isn’t even tangible. The GPL allows anyone to see and use my source code. If they add on to the code, they also have to release their additions under the same license.

I have a ton more ideas, and I will be adding them to my website shortly. I have set up my servers for this game, and you can find the links to the websites below.

The name of the game is Project Stockton.

Game websites:
Main Project Stockton website. Here you will find official announcements, downloads, et cetera.
Project Stockton developer blog. Here you will be able to track the progress of the developers (currently only me 🙂 ).
Project Stockton wiki. This will be a place where anyone can contribute to any information about Project Stockton. This would be a good place for a game manual and in-game info.
Project Stockton forums. Mainly meant for technical support, but also a meeting place for anyone that wants to talk about Project Stockton.
Project Stockton bugtracking. Once there is actually some code, there will actually be some bugs. They will go here.

I will start posting my progress on the PS blog, but I will put any big updates on this site as well. Stay tuned!

Another Work Update

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.

Dumb Joke

I am proud to say that I made this one up:

So a repairman is at a grocery store working on a broken change dispensing machine at the checkout.

The manager comes up to him and says, “What’s wrong with it?”

The repairman replies, “I don’t know, it just doesn’t make any cents!”

How Much Wood…

OK, we all know the little rhyme, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

I always thought it should be, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?”

Well, That’s One Way to Start my Diet

When I got back from Maryland, my muscles were aching big time. I was hoping that it was just because of the tiny seat, but I knew in the back of my mind that I was sick.

And yesterday I couldn’t really take off of work because of it, since it was my first day back. So I went to work feeling like crap. But at least I got some work done and I made it through the day. Of course the day would have been a little easier if I had remembered my Tylenol. I came home last night and went straight to bed after a bath. I slept from 6:30pm to 4am.

I weighed myself yesterday morning and this morning…and because of being ill I have lost 3.5 pounds. A horrible way to do it, but you’ve got to look at the bright side of things. 🙂

I don’t think today will be much better. My muscles are aching less and I don’t have a headache yet, but my throat is horribly sore. Ouchie! I hate getting sick.

Uncharacteristically, I Can’t Sleep

I usually fall asleep very easily. Not tonight. It is not something that particularly worries me, but a short while back I was listening to a podcast with a sleep expert and he said that if you can’t fall asleep, then you should get out of bed and write down your thoughts. Well, I have been a bit behind on updating my blog anyway, so I figured I would throw some stuff on here.

It may sound a bit cheesy, but my new year’s resolution is to lose weight. I am sparing myself the stress of worrying about it until after (the day after, to be exact) I get back from Maryland. So I will start on January 3. I will be sure to make a post that includes my current weight, my target weight, and a picture of my belly. So if you are easily creeped out by a hairy beer belly, then you might want to block all images originated from the domain. I am going to do this for a before/after effect.

One thing that I have recently learned, and that I have previously written about, is that if I am to stop something, it has to be cold turkey. So for the purpose of my diet, I am going to completely abstain from all things sugary until I hit my goal weight. And same goes for grease. And mixed drinks. And non-light beer (I am not ready to give up drinking altogether, otherwise what would William and I find to do together?).

This is a difficult block to live on to avoid those things. Without crossing a street, I can go to my favorite ice cream shop in the entire country and my second favorite pizza place in the entire country. They’ll be missing out on my business for a few months.

I have decided that once I hit my target weight, I am not going to allow myself to go above it. I haven’t felt this motivated about losing weight in, well, ever.

On to other news, I went from worst barber shop experience ever to best barber shop experience ever. Thanks to Yelp, I discovered 1512 Barber Shop. It is about 10 blocks from my apartment and well worth the walk. Sal is a very friendly, soft-spoken, and professional barber. For the first time in my life, I made an appointment to get a hair cut, and surprisingly I didn’t feel strange doing it. A two-chair barber shop, 1512 has been open for about six months, and I learned that Sal had most or all of the furniture custom made in Mexico. Even though it has been open for such a short time, the barber shop really has the feeling that it has been around for a long time. It was the most I have ever spent for a haircut ($20), and I felt like it should have cost more. I think I will go there once a month and get a haircut and a straight-razor shave. Sal described it as taking an hour and a half and being like a massage. Sounds like a man’s version of a pedicure. Count me in.

Last but absolutely not least, I have recently returned from Maui, where I was vacationing for a week with Alyssa’s family. What a great time we had. I was fortunate enough to have joined them on the trip in which they stayed in the nicest condos they have had yet. The view from our condo was absolutely beautiful. We ate like kings (I have never had such tasty pineapple!), I learned of a great Hawaiian breakfast (papaya topped with banana), we had the best sushi I have ever tasted at Sensei’s and the best overall meal I have had in a long time at a restaurant, the name of which I don’t remember. And to top it all off, I ate the most in one sitting that I have in a long time (three t-bone steaks; I really don’t know how I did it).

Other than eating, which by itself would have made it a great week, we went snorkeling at Molokini and we went to the Ocean Center. Just how I like it, the vacation wasn’t too jam-packed with activities, leaving plenty of time to bum around and read.

I kind of feel like a bum, having not earned almost any money since September and taking two straight vacations. Yet I know that I accomplished something very valuable in those months and when I get back to San Francisco on the 2nd, I will have months of hard work ahead of me, both at work and on my new year’s resolution, before I have my next major break.

And on a side note, I had a bit of a realization yesterday. I think I realized what brings me a great deal of happiness. As I was out running errands on foot, I was enjoying walking around the city. So in life, you have the things that you enjoy doing and you have the things that you have to do. I don’t think the hard part is enjoying the things that you like to do anyway. I think the hard part is bringing the most enjoyment to the things that you have to do. And while I would rather be doing a great number of things rather than visiting the Coinstar at Cala Foods, at least I can walk next to the cable car on my way home, among many other pleasant sights in my neighborhood.

I leave you with this picture of the view from our condo in Maui:

Oh yeah, and mele kalikimaka.

Work Update at One Week

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!

jot a gob

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.


I passed test four out of four today (CIT). Passed by a lot, too 🙂

Time to start looking for jobs. First thing’s first, though:

New Word for Shower

De-stink. Credit goes to Alyssa.

The Prime Minister of Estonia is an Idiot

In an article in the New York Times today, I learned that the prime minister of Estonia has read a total of one book on economics in his life. The book was by Milton Friedman. He also thought that much of the Western world used a flat tax.

Based on these two things, he implemented a flat tax for his country. I think I would like someone that was a little more aware of what was going on running my country.

Finally cold

It is finally getting cold in San Francisco. Up until about a week ago, it was staying pretty warm in the city. Low of 38 today. Nice.


I was thinking about making a short trip to Davis to see my buddy William sometime soon. Public transportation isn’t the easiest thing when you start heading too far east of San Francisco, so it would require a car. Now that I don’t have a car, I’d have to rent one. City CarShare wouldn’t work; it is meant for local trips, so they charge you $0.44/mile plus an hourly charge. That won’t work well for a long trip.

I have always thought that car rental places are too expensive. I figured that one reason for this is because you always get a new car. Why do I need a new car? I don’t. Today, I happened to stumble across Rent-A-Wreck. They rent used cars at discount prices. Sounds good to me. I just did a search, and I can rent a car for $24 from Rent-A-Wreck. The lowest price I can get on Expedia is $35.

Of course there might still be the under-25 fee from Rent-A-Wreck, which I find silly, but that is another discussion.

Gay-hating Barber Shop

Here is my experience at Lombardo’s Barber Shop on Friday November 10:
1508 Union Street (at Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-0356

I got in the chair, and here is the conversation that ensued:

Barber: So you live around here?

Me: Yeah, Larkin and Union.

Barber: Where you from originally?

Me: I’m from Maryland. I moved here a little over a year ago.

Barber: So what brought you to the city?

Me: Well, I just decided that I needed to move on. So I checked out a couple of cities and ended up here.

Barber: I just don’t see why anyone would want to live here, what with all the fags and lesbians and the high cost of living.

Me: Well, gay people don’t really bother me. And I work in IT, so I was able to easily find a job, so the high cost of living doesn’t really bother me either.

Barber: Well I’m a native San Franciscan, and I’ve seen this city go downhill with all the fags and lesbians. I don’t agree with live and let live.

Me: OK, I don’t want to listen to this while I am getting a haircut.

Barber: The nice thing about this country is that there’s freedom of speech. I’m just waiting for all the fags and lesbians to be wiped out by a fag disease.

Me: All right, let me out, I’m going to go.

Barber: Well I’m almost done, you might as well stay.

Me: All right, well I sure won’t be coming back here.

I wanted to start cussing the guy out and get in a fight with him. But instead I sat there, trying to get my heart rate back to normal. I knew that a more effective way to combat this would be to let as many people know about this as I could.

In retrospect, however, I should have just left when I said I was going to. But hindsight is always 20/20.

I urge you all to not patronize this barber shop, and if you live in the area, let other people know about this horrible place.


I passed the BCRAN exam today after failing the last time by one question.

Today (about one month too late), I read the reviews of the book I was using to study on Yeah, horrible book. The book left out so many details, where if you memorized every single thing in the whole book, you might pass barely. The only way I was able to pass was by finding some supplemental materials online to help me out.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter since I passed…now I just have to take the CIT exam tomorrow. I have no idea how that will go.

Why I Love Living in the City

Everything is just so close. Directions to my polling place this morning (looked up afterwards, for effect):

“1. Head from Larkin St – go 163 ft
2. Arrive at 2200 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94109”

My Life Was a Novel for About Five Minutes

I got on the bus last night to take a trek to Amoeba Music in the Haight. On the bus was a man quietly playing a guitar. The guitar music made a usually mundane and ugly thing into a beautiful thing. And then the novel came to an end – The man with the guitar got off of the bus.

I think maybe if I followed the man off of the bus the novel may have continued. But something bad may have eventually happened to the main character. I’ll save my novel for another day.


That’s the word of the night.

Post-Election Preparation

On a recent The Show with Zefrank, I learned that President Bush is evidently not preparing for a Democratic takeover of the House or Senate. It is claimed that this is because they are in the “game” to win (and is therefore only planning for the possibility of a win). I ask this question to my faithful readers; Is the Bush administration not preparing for the possibility of a Democratic takeover of the House or Senate because:

a) They are idiots.
b) They know the Democrats aren’t going to take over the House or Senate because it is rigged.
c) They are lying. They actually are preparing, but are saying otherwise for some purpose.


Recent Comings and Goings

A few weeks ago I had a thought hit me pretty hard. It was a realization that I have rarely ever worked as hard as I could in my life. I have frequently been compelled to work just hard enough to get results that were “acceptable.” Well, when I had this realization, I decided that it needed to change.

The results have been pretty good so far. I had failed my first two attempts at passing the Cisco BSCI exam. After my realization, I hunkered down and studied hard for the few days before my third attempt and I passed. I then began studying fresh for my next exam, the BCMSN. Yesterday, after 2.5 weeks of studying, I passed on my first try by over 100 points. Now those are the kind of results I am looking for.

The thing is, I am pleased with myself and the results. But I know that I could have worked harder. I don’t think I will be completely satisfied until I see what happens when I truly put 100% into something.

But even if I don’t get to that point, just striving to work harder is going to bring better results. Additionally, a lot of working harder doesn’t even involve dedicating more time to what you are working for. Sure, that is part of it. But I think a bigger part of it is to work smarter, to work more efficiently.

That may be one reason I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Blogging is something that “just takes a few minutes” but isn’t that fun compared to other activities. So I will tend to do a few things that “just take a few minutes,” and in the end you’ll end up wasting an hour.

Now, when you are satisfied with the work you have done for the day, you can relax and do the things that you really enjoy doing. In my case, read, play a video game, walk around the city, hang out with Alyssa (Hi, sweetie!), cook, et cetera.

Anyway, only two more tests to go, and hopefully my new realization will help me pass them quickly.

You Are Being Robbed

This is the most blatant evidence of election fraud I have seen so far. Read the brief write-up and then watch the video: Video testimony of vote machine whistleblower

Defrosting the Freezer

A little before I had been in this apartment for one year, my freezer started frosting up again. I went at it with a screwdriver and hammer, and got the bulk of it out. Well, a few weeks later, the iceberg was on its way back. I guess the ice was in some air holes or something, making it build up even faster than it did the first time.

OK, I guess I have to go all out this time. I carried a 40-lb. bag of ice from the liquor store 5 blocks away (tip – it’s not easy). Then I turned my sink into a temporary fridge, moving everything from the fridge to the sink:

Then I figured I would accelerate the defrost process with some boiling water:

And there you have it – my little project for the night. I hope it is 100% done by morning so I don’t have to worry about all the ice in the sink melting while I am at the library tomorrow.

A Great Sign

I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while. I snapped this picture a few months ago off of Van Ness in the city here while I was waiting for my car to get washed:

A Great Day

A mashed together play-by-play description of my day:

I woke up, showered and shaved, and ate a couple slices of pizza. I left the apartment and walked to the corner of Hyde and Union where I waited for about 10 minutes for either the cable car or the bus. Neither arrived in that time frame, so I waved down a cab. The cab driver was talking on his cell phone the whole time in another language, and within about 10 minutes, we arrived at my destination – 150 Spear Street. I was early, so I went into the Walgreens and got an Arizona iced green tea. I nervously chugged 12 ounces of it and chucked the rest. I drank it fast enough where I almost got a brain freeze. And I didn’t want to have to pee during my test.

Up to the 12th floor I went. I signed in, stored my items in an office, and entered the test room. I plopped my butt down in the chair and went to work on my third attempt at passing the Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks exam. Approximately 90 minutes later, I completed the test and was presented with a “next” button. I clicked it and the screen magically said, “Congratulations!” I had passed by 16 points, hardly a landslide, but it doesn’t matter at all how many points you pass or fail by. I’ll take it.

I went back to the front desk to grab my score report. Delighted, I quipped, “Third time’s a charm!” I went into the office where my coat was stored, grabbed it, and went down to the street. I left a voice mail for Alyssa, sent Rich a text message, and made my way towards Market Street. I decided that today would be a good day to take the cable car, so I walked up California Street towards Powell Street.

Well, the walk was a little farther than I expected, but that’s OK – I got there and I could use the walk anyway. When the cable car finally arrived, it was packed to the brim; I had thought it might be since this is the one that all the tourists get on at Market Street. No worries – I got on the one continuing on California Street which was practically empty. I got off at Polk, and remembered that John Barleycorn, one of my favorite bars even though I have only been to once, was on Larkin. Backtracking one block, I discovered, not surprisingly, that the bar opened at 5pm (it was noon at this point). I figured I’d have my celebratory alcohol a bit later. Walking up Polk Street, I didn’t see anything else that I wanted to do, so I just went back to my apartment.

Arriving back home, I played a riveting (seriously) game of Madden, broke my good news to a few people, and then took the bus down to North Beach. I walked along Columbus and marveled at the beauty of the day. Maybe it was just my exciting achievement from earlier, but the perfect weather certainly didn’t hurt.

I knew exactly what I wanted at this point – a light lunch and a latte at one of the cafes. I stepped into one cafe, saw the women behind the counter, and remembered how they messed up my order the last time I was there, so I went next door to Cafe Greco. I got a proscuitto, mozerella, and roasted red pepper on focaccia bread with a Diet Coke. That was one of the best sandwiches I can remember having in a long time. As I ate my sandwich, I casually perused my the book for my next test (Building Cisco Multi-Switch Networks) while, also casually, evesdropping on the two tables on either side of me. One man was arguing with a coworker over voicemail, and a man and a woman were discussing the finer points of relationships and love.

I asked the man next to me to hold my table (prime sidewalk table) while I went inside and got a latte. I came back out and drank my latte while continuing to read my textbook. This test looks like it will also be challenging, but not as much.

I don’t like idly sitting at a restaurant table when I have nothing left to consume, so after I finished my latte, I walked further down Columbus. Alyssa called me and I stood in the alley for a bit talking on the phone and observing my surroundings.

Then, I went down to City Lights Bookstore where I started to read “8 Weeks to Optimum Health” by Andrew Weil, M.D. I have thought for some time that it isn’t very clear what is good for you and what is bad for you. So many people from so many different directions are telling you that you need to consume/not consume do/not do so many things. I think it would be very difficult to keep track of them all. So this is the kind of book I was looking for. He takes a lot of advice from a lot of different places, and kind of mashes them all together for kind of a user’s manual to your body. Works for a hacker like me.

I bought that and two other books and went across the alley to another one of my favorite bars – Vesuvio. I discovered that they are open from 6am – 2am every day. That is awesome. I got a Guinness and a Jack and Ginger, read my book, and realized that I like the bar even more than I did before today.

After I started to feel a little too tipsy to read properly, I decided to head out. I caught the bus back home, played another game of Madden, bought some Cod for dinner, made dinner, ate dinner, started laundry, then wrote this post.

Whew. What a great day.

Space Boobs

For Valentine’s Day, Alyssa got me pasta boobs:

And her sister got her some space needle pasta:

Add in some sausages…

And voila! Space boobs!

Letter to Teavana

September 20, 2006

2164 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

To Whom It May Concern:

As I walk by your store most every day, I couldn’t help but notice the sign posted on the door stating something to the effect of, “Closed for remodel until 9/15.” It is clear that the store:

1) Is not being remodeled.
2) Did not reopen on or immediately after September 15.

With your permission, I will gladly affix more accurate signage to the door free of charge.

Stuart Matthews
(address omitted in the online version of this letter)

Zee Lack of Zee Blatherings

Hello my faithful readers. I apologize for the lack of posting lately. I’ve been busy with kicking my own butt into gear 🙂

Alyssa and I went jet skiing for my birthday yesterday, and it was great fun. I’ll post some pics later and do a more thorough update.


Last Night

Rich is out here in San Francisco for a brief visit. Yesterday, after tooling through the Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Chinatown, we went back to the apartment for a spell.

For dinner, we went to Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen on Polk. We ate up a bunch of raw oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, ceviche, crab, and lobster. Good dinner. Then we got some Swensen’s for dessert. Then the night really took off.

We were going to head out to North Beach to get our drink on, but we decided to hit up some Rambo and beer instead. Three Rambo movies, 1.3 gallons of Heineken, and one late-night pizza later, we hit the hay.

Awesome. Off to the A’s vs. O’s game today.


When networks became large enough to outgrow distance vector routing protocols such as RIPv2, and the networking community wanted something non-proprietary to fill the role, Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS) was created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) had historically put forth such Internet/networking standards. Later, Open Shortest Path First, an internal link-state routing protocol very similar to IS-IS, was created by the IETF. As explained in OSPF and IS-IS: Choosing an IGP for Large-Scale Networks by Jeff Doyle, one main reason for OSPF’s creation seemed to be resentment at having their responsibilities taken over by the ISO:

One camp looked at IS-IS and decided that it made little sense to develop a new link state protocol when one was already at hand. Why not just extend IS-IS to support TCP/IP? The other camp did not want a protocol that was controlled by an outside body, particularly one as rigidly bureaucratic as the ISO. The IETF approach was proven and familiar, so why not develop an open, nonproprietary version of the ARPANET’s SPF—OSPF—to better coexist with the open TCP/IP? A visceral resentment of the ISO’s arrogance in dismissing TCP/IP also fed the second camp; IS-IS was unacceptable simply because it was an ISO protocol.

Because of their egos, I now have considerably more work to do in my studying for the BSCI exam.


What Will Our Children Think?

I am currently reading After the Ice, a book on global human history between 20,000 and 5,000 BC. I was in City Lights and was looking for a history book with a large scope, so this sounded like the perfect one.

I have often found myself frustrated with early man as I wait for him to domesticate plants and animals. Not that early man was stupid, but I wish I could go back in time and tell them the basic concept of what they need to do so they have thousands more years of comfort.

And that has made me think: What will our descendants wish we had thought of earlier? Will it be some obvious technological breakthrough that we are missing? Or maybe it will be some societal change, like “Why didn’t they embrace peace more quickly? It’s so obvious!”

Thoughts like these make me wish that after this life is over, I could spend one year living in each of the next five millenia, just to see how things turn out.

ARPANET Outage in 1980

I just finished reading about an ARPANET-wide outage on October 27, 1980: RFC 789

It is a nice story for us computer nerds.

Good Ol’ Libraries

I’ve got a new idea. I think I am going to make a point of visiting all the main libraries along the Caltrain and BART stops. That’s a lot of libraries. Tomorrow it is Palo Alto.

I think I’ll be able to hit up a lot of coffee shops this way, too.

Silent Library

A hilarious Japanese game show: Silent Library

One Great Week

Man I have really been loving life since I quit work. My biggest fears about being unemployed were that I would be unmotivated, bored, depressed, and I’d sleep in way too late. Well, I have been slightly bored for maybe a couple hours at a time, but that is about the extent of it.

I went to the main San Francisco library on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I went there and back on foot. I can’t say it is a “nice” walk, as the further south you go, the crummier it gets. But it was neat going down a different street each day, just to confirm that there were no little shops that I was missing. The only things that I found were a grocery store on Leavenworth that I had been in once and since forgot about, and a restaurant on Jones, Alegro Romano, that I have never gone to but have been meaning to. I’ll need to make sure I go to these places.

One interesting thing to note is that on Hyde and Leavenworth, things get pretty ugly pretty quickly as you walk south. On Jones, however, it takes a bit for things to get ugly (but they definitely do get ugly). One funny story from Wednesday (the Jones day): As I walked down Jones, I spotted a tourist couple in one of their tourist cars (a tiny little open-air thing that just scoots around town). You might call it a two-person scooter. Anyway, if you know anything about the Tenderloin, you will know that it isn’t a tourist attraction. So the first thing I wondered when I saw these people is…what the hell are they doing in this neighborhood? And secondly, what could their GPS-guided tour possibly be telling them about their current location?

They were parked on the side of the road, and a man passed them going the other way on his bike. He said, “I’ll race you!” I found that pretty humorous, but the tourists probably didn’t, because their little scooty thing wasn’t starting. I saw the guy give the keys a turn, and nothing happened. I walked past them, but then I turned back figuring that these poor people could use some help. I said, “It won’t start?”

He replied “No, it’s starting.”

In a statement completely ignoring what he had just said, because it obviously wasn’t starting, I said, “Oh ok. Do you have a cell phone?” as I showed him mine.

“Yeah, we’re just parking it here.”

I figured, OK, if the guy doesn’t want help, then it isn’t my problem. I am guessing his girlfriend let him have it right after that.

Anyway, getting back to where I started – The main library is very nice, but mostly I just holed up at a desk and studied for a bit. Actually, I hit up the library cafe every day, too. Studying can make me tired, and sipping on a diet coke helps keep me awake.

The cafe is surprisingly nice. Strange, though, that they don’t let you bring in outside food. It makes me wonder where I am going to eat my lunch once it starts getting even colder.

Thursday, as I mentioned earlier, I made it to the Western Addition library. I also walked here. I walked along Scott street, and man oh man, the houses here are nuts. If you want to see the craziest entrance to a house, go to Scott and Pacific. The view was beautiful:

My apartment is approximately in the middle left of this picture.

In contrast to walking to the main library, it took a good long while for this super-ritzy neighborhood to degenerate into even a middle-class neighborhood.

The Western Addition library is pretty nice, too, although obviously smaller. I went outside to have my lunch and noticed a homeless woman having a lively conversation with…herself. Well, that’s OK. It wasn’t bothering me much. But then she started talking about a fight she had with someone. “Kablauw! Hahahaha!” she said. And then a few more times. She became less and less amused with the conversation…time for me to go back inside.

Evidently she didn’t like what she was saying to herself, and started a rather lively argument. In go the earbuds, but she was obviously bothering the other patrons too. Oh well, made for a more interesting day for me, at least.

And you’ve already seen how my quest for excellent bar-b-que went later that day. Well on my way back on the bus, I spied a tasty looking cheese-steak place. My hand instinctively pulled on the cord for the next stop, and in I went.

This place looked awesome. It looked very close to Jim’s Steaks in Philly. I thought I may have just found cheesesteak nirvana.

Now, at Jim’s Steaks, it is definitely a little soup-nazi-ish. That is, they’re going to be short with you, but they’re definitely going to get you your steak. This place was a bit different. Standing directly under the “order here” sign for approximately three minutes, I looked right at the cheese-steak guy who was standing behind the counter. Nothing. Out I go. I satisfied my craving for grease at Za Pizza later that night, and burnt my tongue on a slice of pepperoni, “not too hot,” I asked for. So much for customer service that day.

Yesterday, I decided it was high time to head over to Berkeley. I had only been there once, and I decided that I would like to go again. They have an excellent public library. It is a good-size library, and there are some really neat parts of it. They have a rather large science fiction section, as well as an impressive reference section. I found an Encyclopedia Brittanica from 1911. The reference section always makes me want to spend a whole day there. Unfortunately, I did have some work to do.

After studying in the library for a bit, I walked around town a couple of times looking for the perfect coffee shop. I guess I had an impression of Berkeley as being the home of great, cozy coffee shops. I will definitely have to say that none of them seemed particularly cozy. However, I did end up settling at Tully’s coffee where there was some outstanding customer service. I do believe I will be writing them a letter.

Both Friday morning and afternoon, I caught the cable car. What a joy it is to ride. Confused, due to the lack of signage, on what was the official way to signal that you would like to get off at the next stop, I struck up a short conversation with one of the cable car operators. What a charismatic bunch those guys are.

This coming week, I hope to check out at least one or two more cities. Maybe Mountain View, Palo Alto, or San Jose.

Zombie Flash Mob

I read about a Zombie flash mob happening today at Powell and Market streets here in San Francisco. I didn’t have anything to do today until later, so I thought I might as well hop on the 45 and check it out.

I got there 5 minutes before the mayhem broke out. I was surprised by the amount of zombies that showed up. Great fun:



A Little Story I Made Up

Alyssa asked me to tell her a story over IM. So I did. And since I had already typed it all out, I figured I might as well make you all suffer just like she did when she was reading it. Anyway, here it is, unedited:

there was a little boy named Jimmy
Jimmy grew up in Arkansas
His daddy was a farmer
and he didn’t have a mommy
it was just him and his daddy
they lived on the farm that had been passed down through the generations
there was a man named hank
who came and bought the produce from Jimmy’s dad, Bruce
Hank and Bruce came to become good friends over the years
in fact, Jimmy and Bruce rarely saw anyone but Hank
Jimmy always wondered why his daddy did not like other people
but it didn’t bother him much
they always asked Hank for certain odds and ends from town
and in fact, Bruce didn’t even send Jimmy to school
he didn’t want Jimmy interacting with the other kids much
but Bruce wanted his son to be educated nonetheless
so he had Hank buy books for Jimmy
he tought Jimmy how to read
but beyond that, he didn’t know much
but since he had books, he could teach himself things
when he was 15, he decided that he was starting to get interested in Economics
unfortunately, he didn’t have any Economics books
he didn’t ask for much from his daddy, but his daddy always got him whatever he asked for
so the next time Hank came by, Bruce asked him to bring back an economics book
“Bruce,” Hank said, “sorry, but the price of corn has gone down. There isn’t enough to cover the cost of a book.”
Jimmy was let down, but he wasn’t one to complain
It was a year later, and the price of corn still hadn’t gone up
Jimmy was getting tired of the books that he had
so in his boredom, he set out to town
he had to try to find a way to make some more money
There, he saw another farmer, who sold his produce himself in town
they got to talking, and Jimmy explained how he just wanted some more books
the conversation got to the subject of the price of corn
“Yeah I’m just here in town today to pick me up a new pair of snakeskin boots! On sale for $150! What with the price of corn going up, and all!”
Jimmy was shocked
“You must be confused, old man.”
Jimmy walked away only in half belief of the old man
he didn’t want to believe him
but at the same time, he had to find out more
he trusted old Hank, so he decided to go find out more
he went to Hank’s office, but no one was there
He stepped in the door, and went to the desk to write a note to Hank. He started to write – “Hank, we need to talk. Thanks. – Jimmy”
as he placed the note on a piece of paper on the desk, he saw the price being paid to other farmers
it was far more than what was being paid to old Bruce
he was already very mad, but he had to find out more
he went rifling through the file cabinet, and found out that poor Bruce had been swindled his whole life by Hank, but never this bad!
all in all, Bruce was owed over $30,000
Furious, he went home to Bruce
he explained the situation; Bruce was heartbroken
Bruce was so distraught, that he just retired to his bedroom
come next morning, Bruce did not come out for breakfast at normal time of 6:30am
Jimmy knocked on the door
Bruce said, “I’ll be out soon.”
7 am came, then 8am
by 9am, Jimmy knew that Bruce would not be out for a long while
after checking on his father and seeing him just curled up in bed, Jimmy decided that he had to take matters into his own hands
he could not stand to see his father like this
Jimmy hopped in the tractor, and lumbered along at 15mph to town, 40 miles away
2 hours and 40 minutes later, he arrived
he drove right up to Hank’s office
in fact, he didn’t just drive right up to it
he drove right THROUGH it
the office was now split in two
on one side was Hank, sitting dumbfounded at his desk
Jimmy was about 130 pounds; Hank was about 250 pounds and known for his great strength
nonetheless, Jimmy walked right up to Hank’s desk and looked him right in his eyes
didn’t say a word
Hank opened a drawer at his desk
and pulled out…
his checkbook
he walked right out of the split open office, due east
(the farm was west)
for two weeks, no one saw or heard from Hank
Jimmy tended to the farm while Bruce lay in bed most of the day, only coming out for meals
after the two weeks passed, Jimmy discovered an envelope in the mailbox with no return address
it had two items in it:
a blank check made out to Bruce
a small slip of paper that said “sorry”
Jimmy cashed the check for $30,000 and upgraded the farm significantly
Hank was never heard from again
unfortunately, Bruce just wanted his friend back
the end

Letter to Lily’s BBQ (Formerly Brother in Law’s BBQ)

August 17, 2006

Lily’s BBQ
705 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

To Whom It May Concern:

Having moved to San Francisco almost a year ago, I noticed from time to time that this is not a city famous for its barbeque. Determined to satisfy my craving for a pulled pork sandwich with BBQ sauce and slaw, I scoured the Internet looking for a good barbeque restaurant.

The two places that I found online were your restaurant and Memphis Minnie’s. Pulling out my trusty Zagat guide, I found your restaurant to have a slightly higher rating.

Having made my pick, I made my day centered around going to your restaurant. I went to the Western Addition library, and after a few hours of studying there, I decided it was time to quell the rumbly in my tumbly.

I arrived at the restaurant at approximately 1:50pm, a good time for a late lunch. Unfortunately, I discovered a “Closed” sign on the front door. There was no indication as to why the restaurant was closed. No “sorry, closed for today,” no “be back in 15 minutes” sign. Nothing. Walking around to the side, I found the menu which listed the hours of operation. Well it used to at least. Now it just says:

Hours: 10am – 10pm Call

You can be sure that I won’t be calling. I won’t be making a point of coming to your restaurant. If you’d like to win me over as a customer, I suggest you try finding me in Memphis Minnie’s.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109

Yay! The Library is Closing!

Today I have decided to go to the Western Addition library so that I can go to Lily’s BBQ afterwards. By the way, the Zagat guide gave Brother in Law’s a 23 (out of 30) on food, and a FOUR on decor. Seriously. A four.

Anyway, so of course I had to look up the address and hours for this library branch. And now I find out that this library is closing for renovation very soon. In fact, they’re having a freakin’ party (pdf) to celebrate the closing. This seems a little messed up. The branch will reopen in the spring of 2008.

I am not saying that it doesn’t need renovating, but it seems a little strange to celebrate the fact that a community educational resource will be unavailable for about a year and a half.

At least I will get to see it before it closes, and I might even make it out to the little party just to see the absurdity of it all.

A Little Tidbit

I just found out that my monthly MUNI pass is good for the cable cars too. I thought I would share this here because it is hard to find this information stated clearly.

Not Working is Treating Me Well

It’s the middle of my first week without a job. It is going great so far. I’ve been waking up at a decent time so far – 7:30 to 8am. And I’ve made it to the library and reached my study goal each day.

If things keep going as they are, I’ll be able to pass this first test within about 2-3 weeks. If I had a job during all this, you can guaran-damn-tee that it would take me months to be able to pass this first test. I honestly feel so much more productive without a job.

A Good Prospect Down the Drain

So I interviewed for a position in the financial district in SF. It wasn’t a “dream job” like KEI and, but it did seem pretty sweet, and I was excited about it. The position was for a system administrator working mostly with Unix and working with some Windows. I got the lead through a recruiter.

I interviewed there on Friday, and the interview went pretty well. He assigned me a quiz to complete at home and I really enjoyed it. It had one question where I had to run nmap against his network and use other tools to find out as much as I could about his network. I spent a good deal of time on Friday taking this quiz.

I evidently did pretty well on the quiz, because he assigned me the next task – installing Apache and Tomcat on his Ubuntu GNU/Linux server. I didn’t ace this one, but I did well enough…

He asked me to come in today for a second interview. From the sounds of things, I was very close to getting an offer. Well, I got a call yesterday from the recruiter, who told me that the CEO now didn’t want to pay the recruiter fees…after, AFTER they had already agreed to those fees.

So here I am, missing out on a job because some big-shot CEO somewhere decides that he’s going to change his mind. It wouldn’t have been so bad except for the time that I spent completing the assignments, and going to the interview. Ten hours of my time, and I can’t even be judged by my qualifications for the job.

Oh well – several months of CCNP studying, here I come! Last day here at GuardianEdge is tomorrow.


Dear Guy that Peed on the Toilet Seat,


Stuart Matthews


MetroNaps – allowing workers to take a nap in the middle of the work day, at a very reasonable price.

This really needs to become mainstream.

I’m Coining This One

You can measure the change in your life by the change on your keychain.

Heard From Google

Just a few minutes ago, Google emailed me about a Technical Support Engineer position. Damn it all. It would be cool as hell to work for Google, but I am putting my foot down on this anti-tech-support thing of mine.

One interesting note – the woman that emailed me used Outlook for her email client.

Update: The woman who emailed me was nice enough to thank me for letting her know I wasn’t interested, and the reason why. So I will do her a favor and let my readers know that she asked me to let others know about this opportunity. I don’t have too many Northern California readers here, but if you’re interested just shoot me an email to

meebome Released

From the brilliant creators of meebo, a web-based, multi-protocol IM client, comes meebome, a little flash app that you can add to your website to allow real-time chat with the people visiting your site. Think integrated google chat within GMail.

I’ll be adding this feature to my website tonight.



That is what the salary of every Exxon employee would be if they split the profits evenly. Is that not enough for everyone?

OK, let’s suppose that the top 1,000 employees just have to be better than everyone else. So let’s lower the salary of 82,700 of the employees to $300,000/year. That leaves the top 1,000 employees making $11,319,999.75 per year. Really, is that not enough?

No, it isn’t, evidently. You can be damn sure that there are plenty of people working for Exxon that make $20,000-$30,000/year. I don’t even know what else to say about this.

The Results of My Job Search

My job search was rather fruitless. I applied for one job, and had contacts with people about many others who found my resume online.

I had interviews with three companies:
KEI: Kapor Enterprises Inc.
This company is owned by Mitch Kapor, one of the founders of the EFF. The company is for profit, but they do work for Mitch’s various non-profit foundations, as well as several other cool organizations like the Mozilla Foundation. They provide IT and HR services.

The position was for desktop support and system administration. Mostly Linux, some Windows. In San Francisco. I interviewed with them on the phone two Mondays ago, and he said he would get back to me in the middle of the week. The middle of the week came and went, and then the week came and went. So this week I’ve sent two follow-up emails and have not heard back. is a dating website that draws their visitors in by displaying non-nude pictures of people like you and me, and letting people rate them from one to ten.

This job would have been sweet. This is the only one I actually applied to. I would have been the sole system administrator responsible for about 90 web servers. Very relaxed hours. Very nice neighborhood that I could have walked to. Very small company.

I managed to get an interview, but unfortunately I did not get the position. I don’t hold anything against them though; I honestly wasn’t qualified. Also, they actually got back to me on the results of their hiring process. I wish them the best.

VMWare makes virtualization software that lets you run multiple servers on one computer. They are located in Palo Alto.

The position was for Support Engineer I. The people that worked there were highly technical, and it would be a great environment for learning. I interviewed there this past Tuesday.

The interview went pretty well. I could have done much better with the Linux questions but I nailed the networking questions. I am not sure if they are going to offer me a position or not, but I’ve decided that if they do offer it I won’t take it. The office was super cool, and the people were super smart, and I think I would learn a lot, but ultimately I don’t want to go to Palo Alto every day and I don’t want to work in support any more.

So what have I learned from this process? I’ve learned that I probably could have nailed one of the two “dream jobs” (KEI and if I had more technical experience. I also learned that there are lots and lots of jobs out there, but that I don’t want to settle for another job that I want to quit after a year. So the solution to this is to learn more, and get more certifications.

From experience, I cannot very well learn and have a full-time job at the same time. My second semester in school, when I did not have a job, I got three B’s and an A. My best semester. And it took me a long time to get my CCNA. The weekend that I crammed before the exam was the hardest I have ever studied. And I seriously burned myself out.

So if I am going to learn and improve my resume by getting more certifications, I am going to have to focus on that task alone. To accomplish this, I have decided that I am going to take 2-4 months and not work. I will just concentrate on getting my CCNP. This is my goal for these several months, and as an extra-credit assignment for myself, if I can fit in some learning about DNS, Apache, and scripting, that would be great.

But I know that the biggest risk with this plan is that I’ll not be motivated to study. So to lower this risk, I am going to treat my studying like a job. I will leave the apartment at 8 or 9 every weekday, and go to the library to study for 8 hours. And then I’ll come home and forget about studying. Also, I am very interested in the subject matter. The CCNP exams (there are four of them) cover in-depth routing protocols, remote access, multi-switch networks, and troubleshooting. If I were studying something I didn’t care about, it would be very difficult.

The next few months should be interesting. But I think I’ll enjoy them.

Wha Happen?

This pretty much sums up all that is wrong with the world: Parker Brothers releases version of Monopoly using debit cards instead of cash

Seriously, who doesn’t love having a big ol’ wad of Monopoly cash?

Honk Shoo

Tonight is my last night working night shift. Ever.

I have kind of an unofficial list of things I will never do for work, and now I am adding this to it. My current list:
1) I will not work in a restaurant.
2) I will not sell things.
3) I will not work weekends.
4) I will not work nights.
5) I will not travel more than one hour each way.

I hope to add as many of these to the list as possible with my next job:
1) I will not work in support, no matter how high level.
2) I will not work with Windows.
3) I will not be on call.
4) I will not work an overly strict schedule. So, I’ll need some freedom on start and end times.

I am guessing that I will only be able to add about two of those with my next job. And the ultimate goal here is to become valuable enough, with knowledge, experience, and certifications, where I can eventually accomplish the following as well:
1) I will not work more than 35 hours per week.
2) I will not accept less than 4 weeks of vacation per year.
3) I will not work for a for-profit company unless they share the profits very generously with the employees.

It is going to feel so great tomorrow night to want to go to sleep, and then just go to sleep. It’s also going to be great that, if I want, I can go out and have a couple of beers at midnight. Or I can stay up until 2am playing some Eve Online with Mark. Obviously this takes a bit of self discipline, because you can’t come in to work every day on 5 hours of sleep (even though that is what I do now).

The night shift did have its perks though. I rarely had to wake up to an alarm, and I got to work by myself with no interruptions. But I think I will be able to do without those things 🙂 Time to join the “normal people.” It was going to happen sooner or later.

Unnecessary Arguments, Part II

Following up on yesterday’s post about global warming, I thought of another example of an unnecessary argument. This one has to do with gay marriage.

Social conservatives sometimes argue that it is a choice to be gay, not something that you are born with. The liberals bite.

It shouldn’t be about why someone is gay. It should be about equal rights alone. It should be about being able to marry any consenting adult, whether you are straight or gay, or even if the relationship based completely on friendship alone – a “life partner” type arrangement.

Unnecessary Arguments

There are a few things that I believe in strongly enough where I think that the other side is just plain wrong. Global warming, for me, has quickly become one of those issues. Saving ourselves from rapid climate change must be one of our very highest priorities.

Some of the arguments from the other side are absolutely absurd. They don’t have anything to stand on, so they just start making shit up. Even those that agree that there is or might be global climate change argue that if we were to do something about it, it would ruin our economy.

And the rest of us give in to this argument. Not give in in terms of agreeing with it. But we give in when we even argue that at all. We let them change the argument. Now it isn’t about global climate change, it is about the economy. First of all, our footing isn’t nearly as steady when talking about the effect on the economy as it is when talking about science – things like CO2 emissions and temperature change. Even if it was as solid – What is the point? Our main argument is that we are putting ourselves at risk of massive flooding and millions of deaths worldwide. Who cares about the economy when faced with these prospects?

This post inspired by this post on ThinkProgress.

Electric Car Goodness

0-60 in 4 seconds.
redline 13,500 RPM
two gears

The Tesla Roadster is Awesome

It is worth the (small) premium to get a good ISP:

“We will not allow warrantless wiretapping or access to customer information.”


Patience is a bitch sometimes. And so is only getting a few hours sleep, even for just a couple days.

The Media is Good at This…

Well I guess the media got bored of the Mexico story

Buried deep within the NY Times website. Definitely not on any front pages. And I know there are some very important stories right now, but Bush saying a swear word is getting more coverage than 1 million people in Mexico City protesting a contested election.

Source of Military Equipment

There’s a lot being said about Hezbollah getting their rockets from aid from Syria and Iran. Well…who do you think supplies Israel’s warplanes? It sure isn’t Israel. Yep – It’s the United States.

And every time over the past few days when you hear that Israelis have been killed, how does Israel retaliate? An eye for an eye? Impossible. They kill many more of their enemy.

This whole thing really is making me sick. And to think my tax money is going to support this crap. That really pisses me off.

Drunk Observeration of the Night

A high five is not great unless it hurts.

Furthermore, I will likely delete this in the morning.

Maybe not. That may or may not have been added for comedic effect. I have Biff here reading what I type, and the combination of my typos and his drunken verbal screw-ups are highly…amusing.

Done. (If I wanted to be artsy, I would say “fin.”)

Bringing Revolutionary Ideas to the Mainstream

I am a slow reader. So I am still reading The ABC of Anarchism.

Berkman does a great job of making Anarchism make sense. His arguments are logical and well-thought out, even if they could use some more evidence.

This is different from most revolutionary thinkers that I come across, on paper or in person. Case in point: Months ago, Alyssa and I went to see Kevin Zeese, who is running for senate in Maryland, speak in San Francisco. At this event were many other liberal speakers. One of them was an immigrant to this country, and she was simply railing against the US population as a whole. Does liberalism not claim to represent the working class? I wonder what percentage of our country she would have fathomed to think belongs to the working class? You can be sure that it is a large majority.

And I have seen this plenty of times – speakers or politicians insulting their audience. Perhaps they don’t realize who their audience is? More likely is that they are elitist. You aren’t going to win anyone over with your ideas this way unless you are in fact speaking to the elite.

Now, even if you think that the masses don’t “get” it, as Berkman argues, then you should look at why they don’t get it, and not just jump to conclusions like “they are all stupid.” Berkman looks at this very closely, and essentially comes to the conclusion that the masses don’t get it because they are being trained their whole lives to not get it. Chomsky put it another way – that of course the system is not going to let ideas succeed which are harmful to the system itself. It’s just not something that makes sense.

Anyway, I hope that after I finish this book and a few others, I can be a little bit more coherent. I hope you all are doing well 🙂

News and Notes

I think once or twice, I have started a blog post in this fashion. I think I have a lot of things almost worth saying, but nothing that is worthy of its own post. So I just start slamming my thoughts all into one post. Anyway, here goes:

I posted my car for sale on Craigslist. I hope it sells soon. Because when it does, I am going to buy a mountain bike and maybe a new laptop. Also, I can “move on.”

I really get a great feeling out of doing something correctly. I usually can’t do something correctly if I am rushed. So I have learned to not even try, sometimes, if I am going to be rushed. Today with my car, I was able to take my time and get this first part done right. I double parked in front of my apartment to take all of my belongings from the car to the apartment. Then I drove it down Van Ness to get it washed. $50 + $10 tip. Worth it for a good detail. I then drove it back to my garage and took about 40 or so pictures. You can see them here. Posted on craigslist…and now I just have to hope it will sell. Actually, if I don’t hear from someone by tonight, I will post on eBay or the paper or But the great thing is that my legwork is done. At this point, almost all my work can be done from a desk.

Moving on…Alyssa and I saw “An Inconvenient Truth” on Saturday night down at Santana Row in San Jose. It was a great movie. Gore covered everything: past, present, and future of the effects of global warming. past, present, and future of what is being done to prevent global warming. I think that a lot of “issue” movies miss out on at least a few of those things.

I was honestly pretty amazed at the scope of our current problem. I didn’t realize that we were already so far in the deep end. But that doesn’t much change my outlook. I was already on Gore’s side, at least I would like to think, when it comes to the environment. One thing I would like to do, however, is take a look through the Gore-debunkers’ arguments just to see if they have any substance to them.

I sometimes think that I am a bit too exposed to the liberal viewpoint of things and not exposed enough to the conservative viewpoint. And even if someone is a complete liar, you can still learn a lot from listening to them.

On the way back to the city on Saturday night, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh. I have always thought that the guy spouted complete nonsense, but I gave him another chance. He failed. He spouted complete nonsense (except for one small rant he had about a Walmart issue). But even so, it was good to listen to him because so many other people soak this crap up, and it is good to know what the talking points from the other side are.

The same theory goes with reading almost all newspapers. Even if you think that they are completely controlled by corporate America, you can still learn what corporate America wants you to think. And that is very valuable.

Moving on (again)…I am currently reading ABC of Anarchism by Alexander Berkman. I can’t really say that this book is a great read. But it is great in the fact that the main idea is so new to me, and it has gotten me thinking a lot. The main ideas are that workers are “wage slaves.” This means that they have the freedom not to work, but they will starve if they don’t. And they are being stolen from by the capitalists – they get paid much less than their work is actually worth. This is evidenced by the fact that there is so much excess capital to go to those at the top – those who did no actual work. I can’t really say that I disagree with any of this. But at the same time, a lot of what he says is stated as fact, when indeed it could use a lot of supporting evidence. I cannot complain about this too much, however, since this is indeed supposed to be an introductory book to anarchism. I would very much like to read more on the subject after reading this book.

One way that these ideas are applied to real life is by thinking that – remember that guy that cut you off today? That was horrible, wasn’t it? Well where were you coming from when he cut you off? You were coming home from work. Your workplace where you spent 8 hours getting stolen from. So, yeah, that guy that cut you off wasn’t very nice. But if we’re going to get mad at someone, why are we going to get mad at that guy? Get mad at those who are stealing your hard work.

Having said that…I would not say that I am an anarchist. I will have to read a lot more on the subject before that previous paragraph becomes something that I would care to defend fully. The field of Economics is pretty much the enemy of anarchism – I’ll have to do a bit of reading on that as well.

Thank You, Black People

It looks like black people just “get” it. Only 15% of black people approve of the job that President Bush is doing. This is virtually unchanged in the past two years.

Yesterday, Today, and Other Things

It was a long week. I had a few consecutive days getting five or six hours of sleep, and then I went to EFF after work yesterday to send out t-shirts and such.

So I got home yesterday at about 2:30pm. Browsed the web for a bit, and decided to get some sleep at about 4pm. I told Alyssa, “OK, time to go sleep on the couch now.”

“Why are you sleeping on the couch?”, she asked.

“Because I won’t sleep long on the couch. And since it is Friday, I’ll be sleeping tonight anyway.”

I figured I would wake up in a few hours and do something. So, I put on “Remember the Titans” and layed down. I didn’t even come close to falling asleep during the movie, so I went to sleep after it was done at about 6pm.

I woke up, and the very first thought I had was, “Sweet, it is night time! I am going to go to North Beach and get some pizza and a beer.” Unfortunately, the very next thing I did was look at the clock and notice it was about 3:15am. Damn, another event missed because of my damn schedule.

Oh well, I was still tired, and might as well finish out my sleep in my bed. I stumbled into the bedroom and plopped down. Wow…I love my bed. So comfortable. So much better than sleeping on the couch.

I finally woke up again at about 7:15am this morning. Sweet…13 hours of sleep. That felt damn good. And I woke up early enough to get a good start on the day. A relaxed start, even. I just got back from the bagel store, and the bagels are delicious. Oh, and one thing I have noticed a few times is that the sell the Sunday paper AND the Saturday paper on Saturday. What the hell?

Soon, the maid(s) will be here. This is the first time I have hired maids. My apartment could definitely use a bit more cleaning attention, but I usually keep it pretty picked up. I am hiring maids not because I can’t clean, but because I want my time back. It takes way too damn long to clean. So if this works out I might hire them every other week or something. It would be nice to get some more of my free time back. Because I sure as well won’t ever be able to find a good job where I work 30-35 hours per week. So I’ll have do other things to reclaim my time.

Drill On, Drill Man

There’s nothing like a guy drilling into concrete right outside your window to put you to sleep.

Thanks drill man. Keep drillin’.

Burn the Newspaper

DHS wants to bring charges against the NYTimes.

Myself and a lot of other people are going to be very, very pissed if this sees the light of day.

Eve Online

Mark and I in Eve Online:

We’re both looking forward to getting better ships.

To Better Understand the World

I get the feeling that to really understand the world today, one must have a solid understanding of thousands of years of history about Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Having said that, I know close to nothing about this subject. I’d really like to learn more.

Go Away!

For the nine millionth time, Mr. Windows XP:
– I don’t want to take a tour of Windows XP.
– I don’t care that there are unused icons on my desktop.
– I don’t want to activate.
– I don’t care that my high-speed USB device is plugged in to an non-high speed USB hub.
– I don’t care that my system may be at risk.
– I sure as hell am not ready to reboot my computer yet after applying patches.
– I don’t care that new programs have been installed and are now available for my clicking pleasure in the start menu.

Leave me alone and let me use my computer in peace!

Web OS

Operating systems are slowly becoming less and less important. We can perform more and more tasks through a web browser.

I am rather picky about what applications I use, but even I have migrated some of my tasks to be web-based:
email: Gmail
IM: Meebo
RSS: Bloglines
Life Organization: Somewhat custom implementation using MediaWiki

Having these things entirely online is great because it gives me a consistant environment to work with. I don’t have to worry about customizing every single computer that I work on. I can simply fire up a few web pages, log in, and I feel comfortable.

And if you need to, there are a few more things you can do entirely in a web browser like word processing (Writely) and spreadsheets (Google Spreadsheets).

I like the direction things are going.

Domo Kun in Napa Valley

Alyssa recently went to Napa Valley, and took her Domo Kun along for the ride:


OK, I Usually Don’t Do This

I am nerdier than 89% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!


In the House, lawmakers moved toward a vote Friday after more than 11 hours of debate on a Republican resolution promising to “complete the mission” in Iraq…

…Let’s rewind a bit here…Mission Accomplished

California Phone Call Recording

I have been thinking about setting up an organized system to track my correspondence with businesses and the like. One thing I would like to do is have a detailed record of all emails and phone calls between myself and a business. The basic premise here is that it would make it easier to protect my own consumer rights – “You specifically told me on June 2nd at 10:38am that I would only be billed once!” Stuff like that.

So I figured it might be a good idea to set up a recording system on my home phone to record my conversations. Then hopefully I could save these conversations to digital format and link them to a case number that I would create. But I knew that wiretap laws can be a little tricky, so I googled a bit and found this from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: “Wiretapping/Eavesdropping on Telephone Conversations: Is There Cause for Concern?” Specifically, this is exactly the information I was looking for:

California law does not allow tape recording of telephone calls unless all parties to the conversation consent (California Penal Code 632), or they are notified of the recording by a distinct “beep tone” warning (CPUC General Order 107-B(II)(A)(5)).

So I think this leaves me with two options:
1) Every time I call up a business or receive a call on my home phone, I ask for the consent of the other end that I record the call.
2) I take detailed written notes of each call as it comes in.

Either way, this isn’t really relevant until I get this system in a workable state. But I thought I would post this information here just as an FYI to my California reader(s).

Bye Bye, Beautiful Car

I was reading an article yesterday on high-speed rail in California (still just a dream, by the way), when I realized how insane it was for me to own a car. It costs me over $800/month to own my car in the city:
$300 car payment
$300 garage payment
$150 car insurance (even though I have a clean driving record *shakes fist*)
$50 gas (conservative estimate)

And this doesn’t even take into account repairs.

So it looks like I will probably sell my car very shortly here. I am not completely sure I am going to do this yet, but I am about 90% sure. Thankfully I live in what is considered “downtown,” so there is great bus access right near my place. And since I live downtown, groceries are just a walk down the street, as is drinking. So here is what I would do for transportation in lieu of a car:
– SF MUNI bus for going to work, EFF, Best Buy, other not-too-far-away city places
– Caltrain for going to places south of San Francisco
– walking for things that I already do (no-brainer)
– a new Trek bike for medium trips during the day when it doesn’t involve carrying much
City Car Share for when I need a car. They have a few different models, and plenty of parking spots (where they store the cars) throughout the city. One of them is five blocks away (right near where I currently park my car) and one is just a few more blocks away than that. I would look forward to driving the Scion, Prius, and Civic Hybrid.

I think the biggest thing holding me back is that I love my car and I love driving a fast car. But I don’t think this is a good enough reason to spend $800/month. I have been thinking a lot about all the toys I could buy with that amount 🙂

And I also think that if I got rid of my car, I’d get part of my soul back. I think we all have our concepts of “how the world should be,” and in my world I see a lot less cars and a lot more public transit. So I’ll be one more bus-riding bum, very slightly growing the demand for expanded public transportation.

Taking a Stand on One Thing at a Time

I read a short article about Richard Stallman trying to meet with the French PM. I have a lot of respect for Stallman, but the Slashdot nerds brought up a good point: If you want to play ball with the politicians and businessmen, you have to dress the part, or you’re going to lose a lot of respect for your original cause.

This reminds me of a few years ago when Michael Newdow was fighting against the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. At the same time he was a stickler for using the word “de” as a unisex version of “he” or “she.” Sure, I could maybe agree with that…but could you hold off until you’re done with the other issue please?

I guess the basic moral is: Choose your battles wisely.


Now that the CCNA is a thing of the past…Active Directory, here I come.

Honestly I am much less excited about learning Active Directory than I was about Cisco stuff. But hopefully it will start to interest me as I read more.

A Note on Cleaning

I went on a bit of a cleaning binge last night, as much of a binge as the time between dinner and work will allow, and I noticed that you can clean a kitchen 80% of the way in about 15 minutes, and 100% of the way in about 3 hours. Still, though, it is good to get a “perfect clean” once in a while.

Elections Today

Looking up my polling place information…

It is in a garage which is located in…
an alley on a…
15.3% slope.

Only in San Francisco 🙂

My cousin Mark says, “15.3% slope? Does that affect the way people lean towards or away from a candidate?”

I Passed

I passed the CCNA today. Then I had a beer.

The first RIP that I have gotten since high school.
Rest in Peace? No.
Routing Information Protocol? No.

Really Important Paper.

Damn It

I don’t know what it is…but straight-up studying isn’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I studied my ass off this weekend, but it was really a test of my will power. Such a miserable weekend. It involved diet coke, coffee, lattes, and almost no chores at all. Everything else was not even secondary this weekend – it was tertiary. Secondary to studying was studying. My study habits weren’t perfect but they were almost as good as I can get. From Friday at 11am until now I haven’t made it more than three blocks from my apartment.

Time goes slow as hell when you’re sick of studying.

But in the end, I know it will all be worth it. Because in about 16 hours I will fianlly be a Cisco Certified Network Associate. Because if I don’t pass tomorrow, I am not really sure what else I might be able to do to study even more.

I can remember before the other times that I’ve taken the exam. And there are so many subjects that I either didn’t know almost at all or only knew with average competence. This time I feel like I have a solid grasp on not just the concepts, but also the implementation of routing protocols, vlans, stp, design, security, subnetting, ISDN, Frame Relay, VTP, trunking and all the subjects inbetween. The only things I could use some more work on are dial-on-demand routing, “show” commands, and “debug” commands.

I almost passed the other times. And since I am so much more solid on all of these subjects this time, I am confident that I will pass tomorrow.

I am not sure what to do with myself for the next four hours before work. I almost just really feel like sitting here and being tense and nervous. But most of all I want the time to go as quickly as possible. So I think I will go to sleep. I’ll want to be as alert as possible before the test tomorrow anyway. Hopefully it will work out.

I’ve been thinking about what it will feel like once I finish the test, walk up to the front and get my print-out saying I passed. And I really don’t know. I’ll just have to pass and find out.

Routing Protocols Comparison Table

While studying tonight I found that I didn’t have a good listing of several characteristics of routing protocols to study from. So I made a table for studying, and released it under the GFDL:

Comparison of Routing Protocols

You will need to be able to read OpenDocument Text Documents to view the table. Open Office can be used to view such documents.

It’s weird…

…fighting against what my body is trying to tell me.
…having my hand on my knife as I walk to my car to go to work.
…being first at every stop light in the middle of downtown.
…having no one notice if I come in late.
…stepping out on the balcony and seeing people return to their cars from a night of clubbing.
…having my eyelids twitch.
…taking a nap in the break room during my lunch break.
…turning the lights on, and putting my shoes back on in the middle of the work day.
…having caffeine as a necessary substance for my job.
…needing to call people by 9am so I can catch them before they go home for dinner.
…having my superiors’ expectations lowered because they don’t think they can expect much from people that work my hours.
…having every new hire say things like, “Wow, what’s that like?” when I’m introduced as one of the European support techs.
…having our receptionist say, “Have a good night!” at 10am.
…having my senses feel numb by the time I go home.
…being used to staying up for over 24 hours straight.
…having to wake up early to spend quality time with my girlfriend (not that I mind at all, sweetie 🙂 ).

You Have Been Robbed

You owe it to yourself to read this article on Rolling Stone about how the 2004 presidential election was stolen.

When Will Microsoft Learn?

From a great Windows Vista overview on Tom’s Hardware:

The first user defined during installation is automatically granted administrative privileges. Worse yet, the reserved account named Administrator is not required to have a password to log into the machine!

When will Microsoft learn? I thought Bill Gates was now supposedly pushing security above all else. This horrible default settings shows exactly how committed Microsoft is to security.


Seagate releases a 750GB hard drive.

I am excited, even though I probably won’t be getting one. I am excited because this drives down the price of the 500GB drives, which is what I’ll be buying now instead of the 320GB drives. My current drives (for my main desktop):

1 Internal 250GB: Windows, Program Files, Music
1 Internal 320GB: Movies. Lots of movies.
1 Internal 120GB: “Temporary” storage. Where I put my Bit Torrent downloads until I can organize them, and where I put my DVD rips until I can encode them, and then delete the huge temporary files.
2 External 320GB: One has TV shows and software. The other is a backup of my movies drive.

Actually when I get more drives, they’ll be used for backup mostly. And when I stick another internal drive in, I want to get a new power supply.

It’s a damn shame that I probably won’t actually get to buy more drives for a while. *plays world’s smallest violin for self*

Ballplayers “Safe” with Breakaway Bases

There are so many little things that can be done to enhance the safety of our everyday lives. I like this article on “The Nader Page”: Ballplayers “Safe” with Breakaway Bases

Using the Bill of Rights as Toilet Paper

I was chatting with Ben the other day, and we were talking a bit about the Bill of Rights. I was explaining how I am familiar with the Bill of Rights, but I am not so good at recognizing which amendment goes with with number. So I thought maybe it would be good to read it over again. While reading, I was noticing how little the Bill of Rights is actually respected. The following are just examples, and are by no means intended to be comprehensive.

1st Amendment: All of the things that are done with faith-based initiatives. Attorney General Gonzales speaks of prosecuting journalists.

2nd Amendment: San Francisco has banned handguns.

4th Amendment: Illegal NSA wiretapping of US citizens.

5th Amendment: Guantanamo Bay.

Feeling Like a Dope

I found an article over at the Free Software Foundation about a protest against ATI on the MIT campus recently. Reading stuff like this always makes me feel like a dope. I feel like a dope for not being a part of this movement.

And it isn’t just the Free Software Movement. There are so many things that I am not a big enough part of. The anti-war movement. The workers’ rights movement. The consumer rights movement. Many different civil liberties movements.

But at the same time I realize that you have to mix practicality with being a stubborn bastard. Sometimes I feel like I am compromising my morals too much. Most of the time I feel comfortable with how I live my life.

But however I feel, I look at these people – people like Ralph Nader, Richard Stallman, and Noam Chomsky – and they just provide me with more motivation to do things about what pisses me off. Maybe one of these days I’ll be more of an activist. Probably my own greed will only let me do so much.


George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

I wonder if this great saying will hold true if Bush tries to invade Iran, where the American people are the ones being fooled.

24 Season Five is Over

Alyssa and I caught the last two episodes of 24 tonight. So I’ve been trolling the Web for 24-related stuff.

1) Kiefer Sutherland is nucking futs.
2) When I get home, Jack Bauer is going to become my new computer wallpaper.

Comments on Several New Pieces of American Culture

I’ve digested two new movies and one new album recently, so I thought I would throw all of my comments into a post here. I suck at writing movie/music reviews, so I’ll keep it to a few sentences:

Music – Tool: 10,000 Days
This album definitely has a unique feel to it. I’d say that it sounds more like Ænima than any of their other albums…but it does have a bit of Opiate in it.

I am absolutely in love with Vicarious, the first song on the album. One thing that sets Tool apart from other bands, for me, is their excellent lyrics. Vicarious seems to be about people’s need to watch tragedy happen from afar. Great social commentary/observation.

The song Rosetta Stoned is quickly growing on me. It seems to be the insane ramblings of a man that is under the heavy influence of drugs.

I think that this album is going to go down as one of my all-time favorites after a few more months of listening to it.

Movie: United 93
I had no idea what to expect going into this movie, other than I heard it was good. This movie is action packed from start to finish. One thing I just realized is that there is no “main character.” I think this is a good thing for this movie.

It is definitely one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. I think the scariest part was the anticipation of waiting for the terrorists to make their move.

Also, I liked how this movie was not overly patriotic. The terrorists weren’t portrayed as stupid or as cowards. It seemed to portray the facts as plainly as possible.

Movie: Over the Hedge
A kid movie for sure. But this was definitely something adults could enjoy as well. I knew I would like this movie when I saw the previews, when they showed the “Hammy” character.

Not much I can say about this…just a fun movie with animated, talking animals. I’d definitely recommend it.

A Day in Pictures

More studying…

Meh. Rain.

The Diet Coke keeps me going.

Edible therapy. Swiss orange chip.

True Blatherings

A lot of times I start to write a post, and end up cancelling it because I can’t get my thoughts together. So here are just some random comments which are held together by questionable relations, comparisons, and segues:

I recently took a couple of days off from work. Didn’t go anywhere, and I didn’t have almost anything planned. It was everything I thought it could be, and more. I played a lot of Civ IV, studied some, played some basketball and did just a couple of other things. Despite the very low number of things that I actually got done, I didn’t feel bad at all about slacking off so much. I think everyone needs to just relax sometimes, and in my case, I needed to relax for about three days straight.

One of the things that I did actually get done was study more for my CCNA. After failing the test three times, I realized last time that I needed a new approach. So what I’ve done is buy all the books for the CCNP. The CCNP requires four tests, which cover all of the topics that are on the CCNA but much more in depth. I think this approach has helped greatly. I am currently reading the Building Cisco Remote Access Networks (BCRAN) book, and I can say that I’ll be very solid in ISDN, Frame Relay, Dial on Demand Routing, and other remote access topics that will be on the CCNA test. Hopefully I can get through a lot of the three other CCNP books before June 9.

A nice side effect of the above approach is that I might be able to go straight for my CCNP shortly after getting the CCNA. However, I was actually hoping to go for my CCSP (Cisco Certified Security Professional) rather than the CCNP, so if I do go for the CCNP, I don’t want to get too sidetracked.

One area where Civilization IV and studying for my CCNA have converged is learning to be patient. In Civ IV, I’ve learned that when I want to take over a city, I should wait for all of my units to get there, even if it takes an extra five turns for them to show up. That way, I can run over a city, even if it is Paris, Timbuktu, Madrid, or Rome, with overwhelming force in one turn when the time is right.

Sure, maybe if I don’t wait for my catapults to get there I could still take the city, but I’d have heavy unit loss. And then I would have to make peace immediately with my rival Civilization. If I am patient, I can take over the city, have most of my units take about four turns to fully heal in the newly conquered foreign city, and move on to conquer one or two more cities. A much better result. This most recent game of Civ IV that I am playing, I get anxious to attack, attack, attack. But I keep telling myself, “patience, Stu.”

And I am learning that patience also applies to studying for my CCNA. I think it is best to be completely confident in my ability to pass the test. So, by using the methods I described earlier, I can be 75 per cent ready to pass the CCNP, which will hopefully translate into passing the CCNA with flying colors. I’ll just be jumping for joy if I completely smack down that test when June 9 comes around. However, if I pass by a margin of two points, I’ll probably have a stupid smirk on my face like I got away with something that I shouldn’t have. And if I fail by two points, I’ll be dejected for a good month and not want to pick up a Cisco book until that month is over. Hopefully I am doing this right.

But as much as I am going on about being patient, patience isn’t always best. Sometimes, rather than doing it right the first time, you just have to do it the first time, and do it right the second time.

Case in point: A few months ago I realized that I needed a good way to organize my notes, lists, schedule, and anything else I needed to write down or get off my head. Optimally, I would have some great calendar system that would be accessible online, and be able to synchronize with some sort of mobile device. And I would have a nifty to-do list that would also be accessible anywhere, and email me with notifications. And I’d have a custom database that could track my diet and exercise progress. And also a nice way of tracking my bookmarks. The list could go on and on. It would take forever to find the perfect application for each of the things I wanted to keep track of. And in the mean time, I’d still be dealing with the anxiety of having all these ideas floating around in my head because they weren’t written down somewhere and organized. So I just decided to install the MediaWiki software (the same software that runs Wikipedia) on my web server and just throw everything on there. I could just plop all these ideas onto seperate lists, and organize it all better when I could.

This hasn’t been perfect, but it’s worked great so far. And now that I am using this tool to get my life organized, I can start working for “perfection” in each of the functions I talked about above. I can replace them and not be rushed.

And working from this example, I’ve learned to apply this philosophy, as it were (I’ve been wanting to use “as it were” in a sentence for a while now), to a few things in life. In general, when I see a problem, the first priority is to remedy the problem. The second priority is to remedy the problem perfectly. I guess this is me fighting against my own perfectionism. I think I used to only have one priority – to remedy a problem perfectly or not at all. Trying to do it this way usually means that the problem doesn’t get remedied at all.

Now, kind of jumping right back to a previous topic (I warned you at the beginning that this post would be random)…I’ve realized that a lot of my money for the forseeable future will be going to education, both formal and independent. This IT certification stuff requires pretty big investments if you want to do it correctly. First of all, each of the tests usually costs $125. And I am planning on taking one test a month for a while now. Secondly, I am realizing that I will need a lot more hands-on experience with Cisco equipment. This equipment is going to cost me at least $1000. And then there are the books. Each one costs about $40. I’ve got about $400 of books saved on my Amazon wishlist right now, and I haven’t even started to add all of the Microsoft books that I will eventually need.

Also, after a bit of wrestling, I finally got UMBC to send my damn transcript to SFSU. It hasn’t actually arrived yet, but assuming it does, and then also assuming I get in, there is another couple thousand dollars per semester.

Add all of this to the fact that it is starting to become really clear to me just how expensive it is to live where I am living, and there goes a lot of my “fun” money. But, as expensive as it is to live in Northern California, and specifically downtown San Francisco, that isn’t making me want to move one bit. Let’s just hope that all of this “personal/career training” that I have lined up will lead to a larger salary. Not that I can really complain. I am just a greedy bastard, I guess. This is all especially important to me after looking at housing prices on Zillow. Houses in my neighborhood go for about $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. I am not trying to kid myself into thinking I am anywhere near certain that I know exactly where I would want to buy a house in five or ten years, but if I had to guess, I’d say it would be in the neighborhood I am living now. So I will pretty much have to become filthy rich to afford a house. Hell, to even buy a very small house in a working-class neighborhood I’d have to be filthy rich. I am guessing the least I’d be able to get away with paying is $600,000 for a house like that. Oh well, I am fine with renting until I can become filthy rich 🙂

I don’t want to torture you any more. That is all I have for now.

Secret Pictures of Phone Switches

WARNING! Do not click on the below link if you are not a geek!

Secret pictures of phone switches.

I was studying ISDN when I read about these phone switches, and just had to see what they looked like. What a find. I can’t explain how great that is.

Observations from a Networking Nerd

Here are a few acronyms, and what a networking nerd thinks when he hears them, compared to a normal person:

Normal Person – Los Angeles Police Department
Networking Nerd – Link Access Procedures, D Channel

Normal Person – Dance Dance Revolution
Networking Nerd – Dial on Demand Routing

Normal Person – Automated Teller Machine
Networking Nerd – Asynchronous Transfer Mode

In other news, I am really glad I am interested in this stuff, or else I would go nuts trying to study it.


OK, I know that this is a good investment when you consider how it will help me get my certifications, but ouch, this hurts:

Boson Netsim

The Good of Working Tech Support

Comments like this are why I generally enjoy my job:

“Thank you for being there. Would not have recover the laptop data without you.”

Update: And then an hour or so later, I speak with someone who reminds me why I need a couple days off.

To-do List for this Weekend

I am taking off Friday and Monday from work, just because I need a break. On my to-do list for this four-day weekend:

  • Wear pants as infrequently as possible.
  • Play video games.
  • Hit the bar one day before 2pm to watch basketball.

Man…this is going to be great 🙂 But in all seriousness, I am taking time off to get some things on my actual to-do list done, as well as do a bit of studying. But with four days, I’ll have plenty of time to be a lazy-ass as well.

Spanning Tree

As I was telling William, I don’t really like poetry, but this is just too beautiful…


I think that I shall never see
a graph more lovely than a tree.
A tree whose crucial property
is loop-free connectivity.
A tree that must be sure to span
so packet can reach every LAN.
First, the root must be selected.
By ID, it is elected.
Least-cost paths from root are traced.
In the tree, these paths are placed.
A mesh is made by folks like me,
then bridges find a spanning tree.

Radia Perlman

*tears up*


Hot damn I am tired.  I had a nice deep sleep during my lunch break nap, and now I am fighting sleep at my desk, half hallucinating.

Oy.  Yo quiero mi snugglebutt 😀

GG Park

Alyssa and I made it out to Golden Gate Park today.  Emergency room visit aside, we had a great time.  It feels damn good to have a sunburn.

You Go Boy

Go Suns.

Schedule for an Awesome Tomorrow

1am-10am work

10:30am – 2:30pm EFF

3pm – 5pm sleep

5pm – 7:30pm sports bar for game 6 of Wizards/Cavs

8pm – ? Civ4 or RoN

So This White Guy Buys a Wok…

Sounds like the beginning of a joke…

But no, really – Guess which part of this page I am responsible for.

Pay-to-Use Gyms are the Scum of the Earth

Many of us have fallen victim to a gym’s predatory contracts. You can’t join unless you join for 1/2/3 years, and you can’t cancel without an exorbitant fee. They do this because they know that most people won’t go to the gym for more than a couple of weeks, but you’ll have to pay anyway.

Well I decided that if I was going to join a gym again, I would not sign such a contract. I already got screwed once, and I won’t get screwed again.

There is a gym near me called “Crunch.” I had tossed around the idea of joining…but there was no way I would walk in there to be hassled by a salesman. God damn, how I hate dealing with sales people.

So I went to the Crunch website, to my location, and requested more information. I asked that they email me a list of their rates, and the services that you get at each rate, and a copy of any document I would have to sign should I join the gym. I received no response.

Moral of the story: Businesses don’t like dealing with smart consumers. Ralph Nader once told a story of a man who went to a car dealership. They gave him the contract that he needed to sign to buy the car, and he made changes to it, and handed it back to them for their approval. They proceeded to call the police on the man.

Morris Berman on KQED Forum

Cultural Historian Morris Berman, who has just written a new book “Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire.” was on KQED Forum yesterday talking about the downfall of the American empire.

One of his biggest arguments of why the American empire is coming to an end is because, evidently, Americans are idiots. He used the standard statistics about x% of Americans don’t know this, and x% of Americans can’t even locate [location] on a map. Despite these standard arguments, I still get the impression that Americans aren’t generally idiots. I think that we may be particularly strange, good or bad, in certain ways, but one thing we are not is stupid.

And a question that I always thought would be great to ask these people that make the American idiot argument is – “Well what of other countries? How do they stack up in these same surveys that have been asked of Americans?” Well, one caller asked just that question, in his own words of course:

Mr. Berman is wrong if he thinks Americans are ignorant and the rest of the world is informed. As someone who has lived in Europe, Mr. Berman should know that people in those countries are just as ignorant about the outside world and their countries as we are. These surveys are taken often, and the results are just as depressing as our own…

What was Mr. Berman’s response (to the above caller and other “detractors”)? Mr. Berman: “Read the book.”

Of course Michael Krasny, the host, wouldn’t let him stand with this response alone. He pressed for more, which Mr. Berman responded to as follows:

Oh, it’s so untrue, so untrue. The, the uh, surveys that have been taken, you know, I don’t know, of course this would be politically too sensitive, to do, that the UN or UNESCO would do a comparitive IQ study, but I’m, I’m guessing that Danes, uh, there was one study that indicated that Indians, as in Bombay, that Indians had a higher IQ than Americans by about five percentage points. I, I thought, “Don’t you mean twenty-five?” Umm, I would say the same of Danes or Swedes and so on. I remember, um, Patricia Williams did an uh, she’s an attorney that does a column in the Nation, and she was, uh, in the provinces in France talking to a 12-year-old boy in the nineties who knew, she said, more the in and out, ins and outs, of Clinton’s US foreign policy than the typical anchor person on TV in the United States – that you couldn’t have the same level of discussion. That’s been my experience of Europe as well. These people read, and if you read European newspapers, whether its The Guardian or Le Monde, and so on, what you see is that there’s a level of discussion that we can’t even come close to, that the New York Times turns into largely mythology, when you come down to it now, as opposed to something like, um, (couldn’t understand) in Europe, it’s a…(Berman cut off)

So, the best argument of the American people’s stupidity as compared to other countries is using the following evidence:
– Indians have a five percent higher IQ.
– Some 12-year old boy has a better understanding of Clinton’s foreign policy than the typical US news anchor.
– Newspapers from other countries have a higher level of discussion than US newspapers.

Wow. I mean, if he really had some solid things to say in response to that caller’s comments, he could have started to convince me that Americans are idiots. But when he resorted to a comparison of our mass medias when asked about the ignorance of the general population, it was obvious that his thesis is baseless.

Opinions like this, which I think are rampant in the liberal elite community, are what I think is wrong with the liberal movement.

Still Haven’t Heard From SFSU

I applied to San Francisco State University over a month ago. I heard from them once, saying they needed a residency form and my transcript from UMBC. Well, I had already requested a transcript mailing from UMBC, but I requested another, double-checking that it was being sent to the correct address. And of course I sent in the residency application. I haven’t heard from them since.

I am thinking if I don’t get in…maybe I should concentrate on career certifications instead. Of course, I am still going for my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), but I am pretty close to getting it. So a CCNA is kind of like an associate’s degree in networking, then I could go for a CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional), which is kind of like a bachelor’s of networking. And if I am still up for it…I could go for a CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineer, I believe). That is like a doctorate of networking.

Now, I am not just making the above comparisons for the sake of analogy. Those certifications really are comparible in several ways to the degrees I have associated them with. In terms of the amount of work required, they are maybe a little less work required, but not all that much. And in terms of the expected salaries for those who hold the certifications, they seem to be a bit higher than their comparable degrees.

Anyway, it would be a damn shame if I didn’t get in to SFSU. But at least I have a backup plan.

How to Quit Things, and How to Start Things

I’ve been wanting to write this one for a few weeks. I was kind of reminded to write it after reading Greg’s site, where he talks about quitting smoking.

I’ve found that I start things and end things very differently. The only way I can stop doing something is cold turkey. If I try to stop doing something gradually, then I will always be able to find an excuse for myself that I can keep doing it more and more. And I think the only way I can start doing something is slowly. If it too quickly changes my normal day-to-day life, I think it will stress me out.

Let’s take for example two closely related things: dieting and exercising. I’ve recently started doing both. This is definitely the most successful I have ever been in dieting, I think. And I owe that to the fact that I don’t let myself have a “break,” and eat junk food once in a while. I haven’t had any desserts or large amounts of cheese, red meat, et cetera, for several weeks. And the urge sure is there. Out drinking with William last night, I had a huge craving for a slice from Golden Boy pizza, which has become to be a bit of a tradition for us. If I had the “once-in-a-while” mentality, I could have easily told myself, “Hey, you had a crap time in NJ. You deserve a slice of pizza!” And then it would have been all downhill from there.

Now as far as starting exercising, I’m having to take it slow. I think in the past when I tried to start exercising, I over-did it. It would end up screwing up other things in my life because of the extra time it took that I wasn’t used to yet. So this time, even though my exercise schedule hasn’t been perfect, I think it is working better because I am being reasonable to start. But at the same time, doing it this way has the same danger as above…where I can start making excuses. But that is just something I’ll have to work at.

But so far it is all coming together pretty well. I lost about a pound a day for the first 10 days, which was actually frighteningly fast, but the past few days has seen me stay even, probably due to the interruption of my NJ trip. Hopefully I will continue to make weight loss a priority and actually get it done. Really, I am just looking to lose another 15 pounds or so, and I will be where I want to be. So if I just work my ass off for a couple of months at this goal, I’ll reach it. Easier said than done.

The Only Good Thing About My New Jersey Trip

New York City Skyline

A Bad Start to My Trip

So I am on my first trip for GuardianEdge Technologies. They sent me to Jersey City, New Jersey.

To start the trip off, the woman sitting across the aisle found everything possible to bitch about. First her audio jack wasn’t working, so the flight attendant asked me to switch with her because I wasn’t going to watch the movie. At least I got offered a free cocktail or snack, but I didn’t really want it anyway.

As a side note, one thing I have noticed about being on a plane is that I get some of my best reading and thinking done on a plane.

When I went to go pick up my rental car, I found that it hadn’t been payed for yet…so that meant $400 out of pocket probably until the end of the month. I barely have it right now too after my trip to Reno.

And then I ordered room service because I was funungry. I got chicken teriyaki…honestly mostly for the rice. And I get a call saying they are out of rice. Who runs out of rice?

The food comes…no knife, the sauce is salty, and the soda is warm. Not impressed with this particular $180/night hotel so far. However, the room is nice and at least this one has already been paid for.

Here’s to hoping my trip will get better and I won’t have to work overtime Thursday and Friday.

Been Meaning to do That

Finally got around to touching the Pacific Ocean yesterday.

More Food

Wow…I sure am funungry. Someone want to drive to San Rafael and bring me a cheeseburger? What, 4:30am too early for you? I’ll remember this insult!

Virtual Cheese

Share with me a piece of virtual cheese.

Ah, one of my favorites – Asiago. They stopped selling it at my local grocery store of choice, so I guess it will be an extra luxury for me now since I will have to trek to the cheese store for it.

Anyway, we are celebrating because I just got past a major “roadblock” in a project at work. There is still a lot of work to do on this project, but the rest is just mindless. Now all I have to do is hit a few keys, read a book for a minute, and repeat a few hundred times. This is definitely better than banging my head against the beast that is Novell.

Don’t Cheap Out on Me

There are certain things that you should never cheap out on when buying computer hardware. Here is a list…hopefully it can save someone some of the pain I have gone through in my years of geekdom:

  • Power supply. Go with Antec, or if you don’t mind reading for a bit, head over to Tom’s Hardware and read one of their PSU reviews.
  • RAM. Skimp on other things and get lots of RAM (hopefully 2GB nowadays). You will need it. Also, go with a name brand: Crucial, Corsair (my fav), Kingston, Mushkin, or OCZ.
  • hard drive. Worry about brand before you worry about size. Definitely do get Western Digital (I don’t buy anything else), and definitely don’t get Hitachi. There aren’t many things worse than a dead hard drive.
  • KVM switch. Go with a Belkin, and don’t get one of their shabby ones. Bad KVM switches will annoy the hell out of you.

On side note, my arms feel removed from my body. It is a very weird sensation. And for some reason I can still type correctly.

Best Broken Program Ever

My IM client, gaim, recently stopped working. I tried a couple of things to fix it, but for about a week I hadn’t gotten around to really trying hard to fix it. And then I realized how nice it was to not be online all the time. People don’t get the impression that they can bug you about whatever they want, whenever they want. And I don’t feel obligated to sit down for 5 more minutes when I was just about to go do something else, just because someone IMed me.

And then there is the whole concept that people know when you are and aren’t at the computer. I didn’t like that from a privacy standpoint. So I turned off “idle reporting” so people couldn’t tell if and for how long I had been idle.

But when I did this, if I ever forgot to put up an away message, which sometimes happened, I would get a couple people accusing me of ignoring them. That irked me.

So I won’t fix my IM client. I am just going to use Meebo whenever I want to chat. And I will sign off when I don’t feel like it anymore.

Iraq War Deaths Animation

This flash animation just brought out a lot of emotions. Sadness and anger.

New Civic Si

I have been having car problems recently, so I decided to treat myself to a new car. I’ve never actually bought a new car, only used. Anyway, I will spare you all the boring story. Here are the pictures of my new Honda Civic Si:


197 horsepower. 0 – 60 in 6.9 seconds. Slalom as fast as the $86,000 Dodge Viper. Yay.

Answering the Phone

In any job that I’ve had where I have to answer the phone with a customer on the other end, my “line” goes through my head when I hear the phone ring. Right now my line is, “GuardianEdge support, this is Stuart.” But every once in a while I hear myself thinking, “George’s Restaurant”. I really hope I don’t say that one day when I pick up.

The Value of More Money

I am constantly amazed at the things people will do for money when they already have so much of it. I mean, really, what good does it do you to have $2 billion instead of $1 billion? I would think there would come a point where people would want to live for their morals rather than their own personal gain.

I thought of this because of two things I noticed in the world:
– People still work for someone else doing something they don’t care about long after they’ve become filthy rich.
– Most wealthy people go to great extents to ensure that themselves and fellow wealthy people can stay wealthy and become more wealthy.

What really is the point to all of this?

I, personally, am very content money-wise right now. Of course, I live on my own and don’t have a family to feed. But really, if I had maybe $12,000/year more after taxes, I would, I like to think, be completely satisfied. With that I could get some more square footage and a decent view. Of course, if I had $12,000/year more, I might think of why I could use another $12,000. Maybe this is how the greed snowball works.

Another thing I have been thinking with relation to all this, is that money seems to have less value as you have more of it. For instance, if you had $10,000/year as opposed to $0/year, you could at least feed and clothe yourself. You might be living on the streets, but those two things are very valuable. Surely they are more valuable than a nicer view in your apartment. And if you had $20,000/year instead of $10,000/year, you could get a room in an apartment too. $30,000, you might be able to drive. $40,000, you can start affording some basic luxuries like electronics, eating out, cable, Internet access, et cetera. And as you keep increasing your income by $10,000/year, the additional things you can get with that $10,000 seem to become less valuable than what you could get with the previous $10,000. I would be very curious to see if this concept is covered in some Economics book.

But I have started thinking recently: If I was making double the money that I am making now, what would I do with it? I like to believe that I would save it up and then quit working for a while and do things that I love in the mean time, getting another job when I need some more money. And a lot of people might think this sounds lazy…but I would ask them – What is so glamorous about having a job? Most jobs involve making those at the top wealthier or more powerful. What is so great about this?

Protest in San Francisco

I wrote up a short article on Wikinews: Thousands in San Francisco protest US wars.

It isn’t a great article, and it is pretty short, but it is kind of neat to write your own news. Also, the nice thing is that other people can go in there and edit it – add more information and such.

Can We Not Also Blame Ourselves?

A lot of people are pissed off at the current administration. Surely, George Bush is one of the worst presidents that this country has seen. And so we will go ahead and blame, blame, blame the Bush administration. OK, sure, the administration should take a lot of blame. But we are only in the situation we are in because we have allowed it to happen.

You might say that George Bush was never actually elected in 2000. And you’d be right. But actually elected or not, it was damn close. So we still should take a lot of the blame because, stolen election or not, the election had to be very close for it to be stolen. But then he was elected to office again in 2004. So we have failed in electing someone else to office.

OK, well let’s suppose that we have all “learned” from our mistakes and elect a nice Democrat to office in 2008. Who are we kidding? All a Democrat will do is be less of a corporate whore. A Democrat will whine and complain that we never should have been in Iraq to begin with, but of course according to almost all of them, we can’t leave now.

So our country will still have a lot of bass ackwards inequalities and still be fighting a war of agression in Iraq. But of course it won’t be our fault, because we will have voted for a nice friendly Democrat. What else were we to do?

Well, what exactly is holding us back from not voting for one of the two major parties? In the end, nothing. Sure, our election laws are pretty screwed up. I mean a third party can’t even get into the debates. They can’t even get on some ballots. Well, this needs to be fixed. But we all have a responsibility to analyze our current situation and then analyze what options we have to remedy the current situation. Not voting or voting for one of the two major parties is not a remedy to our current situation. It is time for each citizen in the United States to take responsibility for their part in the current state of the country.

I like how Noam Chomsky puts it — He says that he couldn’t look himself in the mirror each morning if he didn’t do what he does.

Cereal with an Agenda

I am eating some “Golden Honey Granola” right now. Wow, it sure is delicious. But a couple of things irk me here.

First of all, it is put out by the “Peace Cereal” brand. Sure, peace sounds like a great idea. But how about you just give me the god damned cereal, and let’s keep politics separate from it. You sure as hell don’t see “War Monger O’s” promoting the neocon viewpoint.

Secondly, the box says that “10% of Profits Donated to Creating Peace”. Here’s an idea: how about you charge less money for your cereal to make the same profit, and let me decide what to do with the difference?

I am not sure who these people are trying to fool. OK, so donate whatever percentage of your profits to some good cause. Great. But by putting it on the box, it is obvious that you are just trying to profit off of the peace movement.

Another cereal I have seen is “Heritage O’s”. Ooh, I want to buy those so that I can support cultural diversity! I can taste the moral correctness in every bite!

I’ve got a better name for these cereals. Let’s call them “Help, I’m Being Eaten by a Crazy Liberal!”

So you want to be a liberal company still? Well let’s do it in a way that makes sense. Get rid of the normal corporate structure and make the company worker owned. Be environmentally responsible. Be honest to the consumer and put out a good product. Now those are things that I can get behind. That is being a good liberal company within the confines of being a company.

I guess this is the punishment I get for shopping at San Francisco Real Food. This is a store which obviously just panders to the rich liberal crowd. I shop there because it is yummy, convenient, and the only full grocery store within a decent walk from my apartment. All of the food there is organic, and all of it is very much over priced. It is quite obvious that they are simply looking to profit as much as possible off of the organic/liberal/yuppie/anti-capitalist/anti-war “market”.

And when I googled “San Francisco Real Food” to try to find their website, I find this gem of an article. So this company quite obviously cares little about the liberal movement. They’re just another union-busting company looking to line their pockets.

Large Underground Marijuana-Growing Operation

Someone in Tennessee was busted for a large marijuana-growing operation.

This just seems so neat to me. I love projects of a large scale, and of good organization.

I guess that is why I just upgraded my storage capacity to over 1TB 😀

1350 Dead Filipinos Isn’t News

Some of you may have heard about the mudslide on Leyte island in the Phillipines with an estimated death toll of 1,350 people. Many of you haven’t. It happened on Friday, February 17, 2006.

Today, the Washington Post online front page does not have a single link to the story. Neither does its “World News” section. Neither does its “Asia/Pacific” section.

The New York Times online does an pretty job with the story; you can see it on the first screen full of text on the front page. There is a featured picture for it on the International section and it is the top story in the Asia section.

BBC News online has a link to the side about the mudslide and it is the top story in the Asia section.

The San Francisco Chronicle online has a larger link to the side, which is nice. One thing I did notice, however, was that there is no “World”, “International”, or “Asia” section. In fact, their main sections are listed as sports, business, entertainment, food & dining, and travel. This just goes to show you how much this newspaper is actually a newspaper, and how much it is a pop culture magazine.

The actual print San Francisco Chronicle newspaper from Saturday had as its two main stories (top half of the front page) something about the weather on some local mountain, and a story about how crime is falling on a certain street in Oakland.

I applaud Google News for having the mudslide as the top story. I know that Google News is automated, but whatever algorithm they are using managed to pick out a good top story today.

So depending on your news source, you might get a good sense of the importance of this story. Or you might think it is just a minor occurrence, perhaps judging by a small link to the side with relation to a story that seems much less important. Or you might not even hear about it at all, even if you happen to read the all the links posted on all of the relevant sections on the Washington Post website.

The above analysis was not done with small-town newspapers. The Washington Post and New York Times are two of the most important newspapers in the country. The San Francisco Chronicle is the largest newspaper in the fourteenth largest city (and twelfth largest metropolitan area) in the country.

If the media makes a story sensational, many of us will perk up and pay attention for at least a few minutes. After this, we will have formed our own opinion on how important the story is. But the story’s initial placement is very important. Some stories will just never be heard unless they are made to be important by the media. The media has a huge responsibility here.

And who can blame the average citizen for not knowing the real most important story of the day? Most of us have busy lives; who has time to do analysis of the media and world events every single day? You really have to watch the news carefully to catch what is important. If you happen to go off the radar for two days, you are probably going to miss something huge.

I am just putting these facts out there, and you can take them how you want. I have my own ideas on why things like this happen, but I can’t say that my ideas are fully formed enough for me to attempt to state them as fact or even as a well-thought-out theory. The bottom line is – it is a damn shame that stories like this are not heard like they should be.

Work Today?

It is almost 6:30am, and I am still the only one in the office. I am sitting here wondering if we are even supposed to be open today. I double-checked our official days off in two places, and didn’t see President’s Day listed as a day off.

Well, I would still welcome going home at 8am or so if no one arrives. Not that I am expecting that to happen…just being hopeful. Kind of like when I would wake up in the morning for school and sit there glued to the TV seeing if we had off for snow. That is definitely a unique experience for some people…some places get so much snow that there is no way they are going to get off for it. Some places get no snow at all and have the same effect.

But Maryland…if a little snow was sticking to the road, we got off school. And man, that was great.

Update (8:09am): There is indeed work today. One guy (at least) had off, and a lot of people are working from our other office because of limited transit today.

“Login” vs. “Log In”

Mistakes don’t bother me in general. What does bother me is when people don’t bother to really think about what they are doing or saying to make sure it makes sense. It also really bothers me when people know they are doing something incorrectly but don’t bother making an effort to change it.

One example of this that really bothers me is the use of “login” instead of “log in”. “Login” is a noun, not a verb. “Log in” is what should be used as a verb. For example: “Please log in using your login and password.”

I see this error made all across the Internet. I wonder if I am just really strange, or if this kind of stuff really irks other people too?

Of course…my website even says “login” and “logout”, but I didn’t write the web software, so it would take a while for me to find where to change that.

Moved Servers

In an attempt to reduce some of my monthly costs, I am going to be getting rid of my hosted servers. Step one of this is to move all of my websites that I host to one of my servers at home.

So, is now running out of my closet. You might notice that speeds are a bit slower, but it should still go fast enough.

Someone Needs to Learn About Subnet Masks

At work, our internal network uses a subnet mask of That allows for 65,534 host addresses. Talk about not knowing how to plan a network.

And here I can’t pass the CCNA…

Thanks, Microsoft!

The Real Headline

The past couple of days has given us headlines like “White House Takes Heat Over Shooting Disclosure” (ABC News). But I see that headline and read “White House has Cheney Shoot a Guy to Take the Heat off of Them for the Whole Orwell Thing”.

Yeah, call me paranoid, but would that not be good strategy? The wiretapping story is now at #12 on Google News’ US news section. Another interesting note – four of the top twelve stories on the US news section are about the White House getting in trouble.

Kasugai Fruit Gummies

Alyssa and I ventured to Chinatown this past Saturday a couple of times. I love all the little stores there. There are neat little bakeries, candy stores, tea stores, and stores with assorted knick knacks.

So we went into a candy store. I got “pineapple gummies” and “apple gummies”. I saved the packages, because the writing on the front of the packages is just great. Check it out:

Every drop of fresh apple juice, carefully pressed from the reddest apples, shining in colors of the cheeks of a snow-country child, is yours to enjoy in each soft and juicy Kasugai Apple Gummy.

The gorgeous taste of fully ripened pineapple, imposing as a southern island king crowned in glory, is yours to enjoy in every soft and juicy Kasugai Pineapple Gummy.


9 to 5? I think not.

I often see people refer to work hours as “9 to 5”. Who the hell works these hours? Almost everyone gets a lunch break, usually one hour. And you still have to work 8 hours, so shouldn’t we say something like “8 to 5” or “9 to 6” as the standard work hours?

Damn old sayings…sometimes they stick around even though they don’t make sense anymore. Either that or I am missing something.

Artificial Products

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re paying for nothing?

Software and data in general is an artificial product created by our laws. We can sit here and argue about whether these laws benefit or harm society. But I’m not going to do that.

What is a valid product is the service of creating data. You can surely pay someone to create data that does or says what you want it to. But why is it that it is against the law to transmit this data to some unauthorized party? Something just seems inherently unnatural about this. Support is also a valid product. You create software for someone and then charge them to support it.

I think this is partly the basis for the free software movement.

Hell, I don’t even know if I agree with all of this myself. I have recently shelled out $189 for VMWare, when I could have easily just pirated it. I guess it is because I feel like they deserve my money. It is a good product. But at the same time, I see this as a donation in the sense that it doesn’t make sense that it should cost money once it is already written. I mean, other than the negligible cost of their bandwidth, it cost them nothing extra to “allow” me to download their software. In other words, I wouldn’t have felt particularly bad if I had pirated the software. I only would have felt as bad as, say, listening to free Internet radio without donating any money.

Of course, the software and entertainment industry wants us to believe that each time you illegally download software, music, movies, or some other sort of data, they are somehow losing money. Sure, some of the people that did it illegally would have otherwise paid for what they downloaded. But they would have you believe that a college student, had they not been able to download $250 Photoshop and $10,000 worth of music, would have paid for it.

Give me a break. More on free software to come (free as in speech, and free as in beer).

Books that Change Your Life

I didn’t intend for this post to start off this way, but a thought has come to mind. I am very glad I decided not to get a TV when I moved. My motivation was not that there isn’t anything good on TV. Surely, there could be a lot more good content. But this wasn’t my main issue with TV. My issue is the advertising. And if you have been reading this blog somewhat regularly, you will know how I feel about advertising and subscriptions.

But anyway, I don’t intend to get all high and mighty like…”Oh, you watch TV? I don’t. In fact, I don’t even have a TV.” The reason I am glad I don’t have one is because if I did, I would watch it as a default activity to do, out of habit. I, of course, still subject myself to the same mind-numbing content as everyone that owns a TV. I illegally download plenty of TV shows and watch them on my computer. But not having a TV and cable just makes that default habit-induced urge go away. Now when I want something to do to relax by myself at home, instead of reaching for the remote, a beer, and a bowl of peanuts, I reach for a book, a beer (well, actually, usually Diet Coke, juice, or water), and a bowl of peanuts. And I have always wanted to read more.

That brings up another point. Question all assumptions. When people think of the different rooms in their home, and think of what they need to have in them, I think there is a preset list in their minds. It is nice to be able to think of living without a certain thing, and come to the realization that you either don’t need or want that certain thing. This might be a function of the size of my apartment where I kind of need to cut back on some of the things that are found in almost every home in America. So I don’t have a microwave in my kitchen. Again, I am not trying to get all high and mighty here. I am certainly just protecting myself from myself. Because I’d rather not use a microwave, but if there was one there, I’d use it. But things, I think, taste better when heated up on the stove or in the oven. And it really isn’t much extra effort at all.

But now I would like to move on to the main idea I wanted to get across tonight. I hope you’ve made it this far. Back to the reading thing. It is rather remarkable how something like a book can change your life, or at least your outlook on life. A few books have done this for me over the past few years.

First, it was the Ralph Nader biography, Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon, that I read a couple of summers ago. That made me realize that there really is a lot that one person can accomplish just with hard work alone. Surely, it isn’t easy doing what Ralph Nader has done. But it is rather obvious what you need to do to bring about change. Work your ass off. Devote yourself to what you believe in. These are simple concepts, but difficult in practice.

Secondly, this book motivated me to start volunteering some of my time. I volunteered for the 2004 Nader campaign. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And it made me realize how good it makes me feel to devote even a little bit of time every week to something I believe in.

A few months ago, I finished reading The Fountainhead. The book was maybe a bit over simplistic, but it also made me realize some things. You shouldn’t spend your life compromising yourself. Make sure you are doing something you love doing for a living. Of course, this is not something that is very easy to accomplish, but at least I realize this as a goal and I am working on acheiving it.

Currently, I am reading Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. This book has really opened my eyes in terms of how the world works. I am sure I still have a ton of learning to do, but I think I am starting to see things a bit more clearly. It also contains tons of references to other books and articles. In fact, the footnotes are longer than the book itself. This book is a collection of discussions that Chomsky has had over the years. These aren’t prepared speeches. Someone will ask him a question or propose a discussion point, and Chomsky answers. Every single one of his answers reads like a thorough essay, but this is stuff off of the top of his head.

He has a lot to say about the nature of power, the media, state-sponsored terrorism, propoganda, and a wealth of other subjects. I can’t really give a fitting summary to this book. You’ll just have to pick it up and read it.

Now all this isn’t to say that I read a lot per se. In fact, I read quite slowly. Alyssa gave me Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky for Festivus, and a month and a half later I am still reading it. It is a 400-page book. But I do enjoy reading often, even if it is only a few pages a day when I am trying to fall asleep. It keeps me thinking.

I really wish I had discovered books like these years ago. Because of this, I am going to start a page of recommended books, so that perhaps someone else can discover these books much earlier than I did. This is not to say that I have some amazing taste in books – this list should be taken with a rather large grain of salt.

My Inherent Right to Privacy

With all this recent talk of domestic spying, we’ve been hearing some pretty interesting things about how the NSA and the federal government operate. Most of these facts aren’t new to anyone, especially me. But the recent happenings have gotten me thinking nonetheless.

The NSA has taps on every major information pipe in the country. This isn’t even a secret.

You are restricted on the level of encryption you are allowed to use in this country. You aren’t allowed to use an encryption key larger than 256 bits. Why? Because the NSA wants to be able to crack your communications if they choose to.

Well, my viewpoint on all of this is not only does the government not have an inherent right to monitor my communications, but I have an inherent right to my own privacy. There is a concept called “innocent until proven guilty”, which isn’t always practiced in this country. Many people will say “Well, why does it matter if your communications are being monitored? If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.” Yeah? Well on the same note, if I am assumed innocent then the government also has nothing to worry about.

Why does the federal government get this special place in our lives that they evidently have a right to know everything we say and do? I personally call for civil disobedience. Use methods such as anonymizers to protect your identity (tutorial here). Use strong encryption to protect your communications. It is a shame that these technologies aren’t built-in to our everyday communication systems.

US Budget

I don’t want to hear another politician bitch about the budget until we fix this:

image source:

Weird Dreams

I have been having some really strange dreams lately. They are strange because they are vivid.

Today, during my lunch-break nap, I dreamt that Cuba was no longer a Communist country, and that Nelson Mandela had become its president. There were all these Cuban people that decided to come to the United States now that they were allowed to. They decided that San Francisco would be a good city to swim up to.

And I had another dream where I was explaining the finer points of the encryption software that my company sells to a customer. I was talking about how you can use your current deployment method to push out our installation MSI. Nerd dream.

And another one where I beat the crap out of the guy (dream part) that wanted to beat me up because his wife was hitting on me (real life part from this weekend). He was coming at her with a spatula.

More crap that I want

Hello, my name is Stu and I am a computer addict.

I keep a wish list on my personal wiki. I started this because I found myself always buying little things and never being able to save up for the big-ticket items that I really wanted. I figured if I wrote down what I really wanted, I would be able to save up for it. It is working, at least a little bit.

Anyway, so my wish list is kind of crazy. On it, I have the following:

  • $400 sound card
  • $400 laptop
  • $350 printer
  • $90 network switch
  • $60 network switch
  • $160 RAM
  • $340 video card
  • $200 hard drive
  • $75 scanner

I am kind of glad that I am not rich. Because if I was, I would spend a lot of damn money.

Work Requirements

I’ve started to realize that I am going to be a picky bastard when it comes to working. I already have a short list of requirements, and the list will get longer in the next few years:

current requirements:

  • I will not work in food service or retail. I loved my first job working at George’s Restaurant, but I am past that phase now. I don’t think this is a very hard requirement…but it still is one.
  • I will not sell things. I think I decided this one when I was in elementary school and they had you sell those things out of the catalogs. I spent so many hours selling, and all I got was this god damned plastic thing that you twirl around. I never did that catalog shit ever again. And then I worked at Ruby Tuesdays for a month once. It was only a month because I hated the customers, and I hated selling their stupid appetizers and margaritas.
  • I will not work core business hours every single week. This makes it impossible to get errands done, and more importantly, it makes it impossible for me to do volunteering. So I’d rather bear the stress of working night shift, for now, than to work business hours every week.
  • I will not commute more than 30 minutes each way, with a little bit of leeway if I get to take public transportation. My last job was at least one hour and fifteen minutes each way.

future requirements:

  • I will not be on-call. When I am not working…I am not working, damn it. I currently have to do on-call once every three weeks (soon to be once every four weeks). We get paid enough for the on-call that I am going to buy EVDO (cell phone Internet) access just so I don’t have to be tied to my apartment for a week straight.
  • I will not work night shift. I currently work night shift, and I am starting to hate it. My sleep sucks during the week. I feel unmotivated until about 7am. Not to mention how annoying it is on my social life to have to leave at 12:30am every night.
  • Within a few years, I just won’t be caught making a living doing something I don’t care about. This will probably mean that I will have to be my own boss, which is fine with me. Of course, this is all easier said than done.

So the point of all this is, I would gladly trade a better salary for having all of these requirements fulfilled. Hopefully within a few years I will be able to accomplish all of these things.

Chomsky quote

I have been reading Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. What a great book. I’ll probably write more about it later, but here is a quote from it that I really like (page 188):

“Look, part of the whole technique of disempowering people is to make sure that the real agents of change fall out of history, and are never recognized in the culture for what they are. So it’s necessary to distort history and make it look as if Great Men did everything — that’s part of how you teach people they can’t do anything, they’re helpless, they just have to wait for some Great Man to come along and do it for them.”

At the Library

Well, I am having a bit of an interesting day so far.

First of all, I woke up again feeling a bit sore, with a slight headache. Nothing too major…but it definitely makes me not want to get up. And once I get up, it makes me not want to get moving. Weird…even my eyes were a little sore when I looked down.

So I finally got out the door. I figured I’d head over to Starbucks for some headache medicine. Latte and blueberry muffin, it is called. Headache – gone. Anyway, so I found one open seat in the place, and took it. It was pretty obvious why it was an empty seat. Some random guy was sleeping on the other side of the table. I didn’t mind though. He wasn’t bothering me. It looked as though he had been in a fight – he had a nice little cut by one of his eyes. It kind of made me wonder what his previous few days were like. I’ll bet they were interesting. He had on the table, among a few other things, a pack of cigarettes and a folded up photograph.

I finished up breakfast number two, and headed out the door. I hopped on the bus and…well bus people can be interesting sometimes. One guy, innocently sitting there, pulled out a can in a paper bag out of his inside jacket pocket and took a swig, then *ever so sneakily* put his disguised can back into his jacket. No one will ever figure him out.

Then a couple of ladies got on the bus, and of course decided that everyone on the bus needed to hear their story. “Girl, I got real sick last night. Felt like my stomach was about to collapse…ate some spoiled meat. I was so sick I was cryin’…I was up at 6:30 this morning cleaning up the vomit.” Other woman – “How’d you know it was the meat that made you sick?” Sick woman – “I saw the hamburger when it came up.”

I thankfully made it off of the bus without having my own vomit story to add to this post. I trekked a few blocks to the library, and boy, do I feel like an old man. I worked up a sweat walking up the stairs, and by the time I got to the section I was looking for, I was literally out of breath.

I can’t wait until I am completely over this flu/cold/whatever. I like to think of myself as quite physically able. A few pounds overweight or not, I pride myself on being able to not just walk up some damn stairs, but also being able to run a couple of miles, lift something heavy, or in general just not feel lazy, which, valid reason or not, I have been feeling lately.

Doctor’s visit

So I haven’t been writing on my blog as much, and yet my number of daily visitors has gone up from about 25 per day to about 45 per day. Does that mean that my blog is more interesting when I don’t write? Probably. Oh well, I will make you all suffer anyway.

I’ve been sick since about Thursday last week (2006-01-19). I’ve had headaches ranging from none to mild to downright annoying-and-can’t-get-anything-done (I don’t care about grammar in this post.) And my muscles have been sore and tired.

On Tuesday, I was at my worst, and I actually made a doctor’s appointment (actually a nurse practitioner’s appointment, but that just sounds weird). This is unusual for me – I usually don’t go to the doctor’s enough. So Alyssa and I went to the Kaiser clinic today on 10PSI in the front left tire, and I told the nurse about my symptoms. The nurse generally came off as…you shouldn’t have even come in. You should have called the advice line and they would have told you what I just told you. And what she told me was…get some rest, drink some water. You probably have a viral infection or the flu. I asked her if I should go to work tonight. If you think you have the flu or a viral infection, then don’t go in, she told me. Err…isn’t that what she is supposed to tell me?

Yeah so basically, here I am at work, because it is a big hassle for someone else to cover for me. At least my headache is gone…but I am still a bit sore and out of energy physically. But my day and a half off of work I think was needed. I feel energized mentally and I am for some reason motivated to do the boring parts of my work! I’m going to try not to breathe on anyone and go home early if I start to feel worse.

So the moral of this story is that the best treatment is usually having someone come over and bring you chicken soup and go buy you ice cream. Thanks Alyssa!

Sorry if this comes off as jumpy. I don’t feel like proofreading tonight.

Steve Nash is a Flaming Liberal

This article pretty much shores up Steve Nash as my favorite basketball player.

Macworld pics

So I went to Macworld yesterday with the EFF. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed, but I did get some neato pictures. See below.


Click here for the full album.

No cheap iBooks


(Image removed because it was being used way too often on other sites)

No cheap iBooks. I guess I won’t be using a Mac then…ever.

How to be Anonymous on the World Wide Web Using Windows

I wrote a tutorial entitled “How to be Anonymous on the World Wide Web Using Windows“. Read that tutorial if you want to know why you should care and how to do it.

Winky Zed

I present to you, Winky Zed:


He is the guy that wants to be this guy 😉
So he ends up deformed, and pissed at his creator for the rest of his life.

Sweet New Song

Check out this sweet song that I just found.

Thanks, The Sneeze.

Ariel Atom

You’ve got to see this car to believe it: The Ariel Atom


I am very fond of things that are unquestionably true. Some things are so simple, or so well defined, that no one but a nutcase is going to argue with you about it. Despite their simplicity, once you begin to analyze things like this, they can become extraordinarily complex. I will provide a few examples.

I thoroughly enjoy studying maps. Ironically, I am not very good at geography. There, of course, is a slight bit of ambiguity with maps, as often we will find ourselves torn between two groups of nutcases, both who provide some reason or reasons to believe that a certain territory belongs to them, such as with Israel and Palestine.

Another great resource is CSPAN. They provide unfiltered live coverage of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. This coverage is also available online. This isn’t to say that the words coming out of the politicians’ mouths are the absolute truth. But you hear exactly what is being said, and not someone else’s analysis of it.

And one of my favorite subjects is mathematics. A well-written proof is a truly beautiful thing. Since concepts in mathematics are so well-defined, then a proof is concrete (so long as you did it correctly).

To me, it is so difficult to find things in life that are pure, absolute truth. So many people are trying to pull one over on you, or have ulterior motives, that it is a constant struggle to know what to believe. When you truly have trust in a person, thing, or concept, it is a very comforting feeling.

Happy Festivus

Wishing you and yours a happy Festivus!

A Bold New Idea

As I laid in bed a few minutes ago, unable to sleep before work like usual, I came up with an idea. Usually the reason I cannot sleep during these times, I think, is because way too many things are running through my head. Most of them are just dumb little things like “Oh I need to get my car registered in California” and “Hmm, how should I do this or that particular thing at work?” I think this stems from the fact that I generally cannot concentrate on things very well for an extended period of time. From this madness, I managed to pull one lucid idea. I am going to attempt a bit of an…experiment, if you will. I don’t have much faith that it will work, but it is worth a shot.

What if I could concentrate on doing one (and only one) thing remarkably well each week? For instance, I currently want to buy a mountain bike. If that happens to be my goal for next week, I can attempt to forget about everything else and just do a really good job at buying a mountain bike. I can concentrate on going to several stores, meeting with one or more people off of Craigslist, reading about different mountain bikes online, et cetera. By the end of the week, the job I will have done will be so thorough that I won’t need to even think about it any more. Instead of dedicating just a few hours to buying a mountain bike, which is absolutely possible, I will have dedicated a week. I’ll not only have a mountain bike, but I will have a helmet, some hooks for the wall where I can hang the bike, and I will know the basics of mountain bike maintenance.

But that was just an example. I could tell myself any number of things to do. It doesn’t have to be an errand-type thing. It could be something like learn how to make a new dish or a new style of food. Or it could be to read “Atlas Shrugged” (which I am currently reading at the pace of about 10 pages per week, literally).

Now, as for the problem of my wandering mind, I think I may have already come up with a tool to help me with this. On my web server at home, I have set up some software (the same software used to run Wikipedia) to manage all of these damn ideas in my head. It has definitely helped some so far. I wrote down my to-do list, grocery list, short-term schedule, books I want to read, among many other things. It helps at least a little bit to clear my mind.

As I said, I have little faith that this “plan” will work very well. But if I am able to pull it off I think it might just reduce my stress level, which for some reason has been going up lately. Actually, I think it is the holidays that is doing it to me.


Do you ever get the urge to feel like a redneck? Sometimes I just like cutting down some trees, driving a pickup truck, drinking Bud, or digging some holes.

Free Software Explained

Here is an excellent interview explaining the free software movement.

Your Democracy has been Hacked

Your democracy has been hacked.

But, of course, this only verifies what many hackers like me have long suspected. But, we could never verify it because the Diebold machines do not run on open-source software.

Letter to MSNBC

My first positive letter:

December 9, 2005

MSNBC on the Internet
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to applaud the free podcast service you provide for several of your television shows. I especially like the NBC Nightly News podcast and the Meet the Press podcast. This is a great service that you provide and it speaks highly of MSNBC that the service is provided for free.
Having said this, I do understand that these programs cost money to produce. My free listening is currently being subsidized by cable TV and advertising revenues. I would like to let MSNBC know that I would be willing to pay a reasonable price for this podcast service. Hopefully, others will be willing to do the same, so that at the time when the podcast becomes too popular to provide for free, we can pay a subscription for the podcast rather than have it paid for through ads.
Keep up the good work.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street
Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109

Thomson Prometric Sucks

My brother Rich has started a new website – It details his horrible experiences in dealing with Thomson Prometric testing. There is no point in me writing any more – just click the link above and read on.

CNN Pipeline has launched a new service called CNN Pipeline. I have waited a long time for something like this. What a beautiful concept. On-demand, low-cost, commercial-free, online news. Four simultaneous video streams, three of which are unedited. It is $25 for a whole year. I will be signing up for this when I get home, especially since it has a free trial.

I have always thought that our high-speed Internet connections weren’t really being utilized. But now we’re getting there. I think we’re really seeing the beginning of something big here. If I could get this kind of service for other shows, I would be all over it.

Reviews here ( and here (PC Magazine).

Holy Crap

Holy crap – the range of things you can find online sometimes really amazes me. 2 hours of table tennis.

By the way, if you haven’t checked it out yet, Google Video is an amazing resource.

John Hall Rocks

Redskins kicker John Hall is freaking awesome. You generally don’t see a kicker getting rough like he does. Earlier in the season I remember seeing him completely level a guy on a kickoff return. And now from yesterday’s game recap:

…kicker John Hall elbowed Cardinals defensive end R-Kal Truluck, forcing Truluck to sit out the second half with a bruised jaw.

Violence in sports is so much fun.

Typing Speed

Woo and I type at 65 words per minute. How fast do you type?

Reading Speed

I read at 253 words per minute. How fast do you read?

Fermat’s Last Theorem

Wow, this article just really gets me pumped up and makes me want to do math.

Pierre de Fermat, a famous number theorist of the 17th century, rarely published his work – instead, he would often write comments in the margins of books. In one margin Fermat proposed that xn + yn = zn has no non-zero integer solutions for x, y and z when n > 2. However, rather than providing a proof, he only offered this taunting sentence: “I have discovered a truly remarkable proof which this margin is too small to contain.”

“It was so indescribably beautiful,” said Wiles about the moment he solved the problem. “It was so simple and so elegant, and I just stared in disbelief for twenty minutes.” Thus, in 1994 the final proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem was complete, weighing it at 200 pages, more complex than most people can understand.

That second paragraph I quoted is what really gets me pumped up. The “beautiful”, “simple”, and “elegant” part is something you can really appreciate when you love math.

One Red Paperclip

One red paperclip is an amazingly entertaining and creative website. It documents the efforts of one man to start with a red paperclip, and trade up to a better item. He is attempting to continue this process until he ends up with a house. He currently has a snowmobile out of the deal.

You may want to start reading the website from the beginning so it makes more sense. Click on the links on the left of the site to progress through the trades.

Don’t Swallow That Gum

I happened to stumble upon this story. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Let’s just say you won’t ever catch me swallowing my gum.

Wikipedia decision making

Today, it was announced that Wikipedia is restricting article creation to registered users only. Many might choose to argue one position or the other on this issue. I happen to not feel strongly either way. However, I find the process by which it was decided to be questionable.

A week after being contacted by John Seigenthaler Sr. about an inaccurate article, Jimmy Wales (the founder of Wikipedia) made the change to an official built-in policy of Wikipedia. He logged on to the Wikipedia chat to discuss the change, but it is clear that this was not required prior to making his decision.

Wikipedia is:

a multi-lingual Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing articles to be changed by anyone with an internet connection and added by anyone with a Wikipedia member account.

Because of its very nature, it is clear that Wikipedia should not be considered to be owned or controlled by one man alone. Yet this is exactly how some high-level decisions are made.

Of course, this situation would be different if elections were held for every position. Currently, only two of the five members of the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation (the parent organization of Wikipedia) are elected. Jimmy Wales is on the board, but also has additional arbitrary powers over the direction of Wikipedia.

A rudimentary search turned up no substantial results with discussion about the decision making processes and leadership of Wikipedia. This discussion must take place. If it does not take place now, the possibility exists that our community will devolve into something which few of us find acceptable.

Essentially, what is needed is an official handing over of the community to the community. The new structure should also be decided upon by the community. Wikipedia should not continue to run with arbitrary processes governing its decision making. Jimmy Wales may be a “benevolent dictator”, but we cannot rely on his or his successors’ benevolence indefinitely.


Only Alyssa and I will get this . . .

We’re so very proud of Mr. Freezer . . .

Letter to Postmaster General John Potter

I have written the following letter to Postmaster General John Potter as a follow-up to the letter I sent to the Pine Street post office in San Francisco, to which I have not received a response.

2 December 2005

Postmaster General John E. Potter
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20260

Dear Postmaster General Potter:

     First of all, I am writing this letter directly to you because I was unable to find a general mailing address for the USPS on the website. I find this a bit ironic.
     On November 2, 2005, I sent a letter (included in this mailing) to my local post office, located at 1400 Pine St. San Francisco, CA 94109-9991, concerning a customer service complaint. I have not yet received a response, which only further adds to my evidence of shoddy customer service at this location.
     I understand that the USPS is not motivated by profit, and therefore it may be more difficult to motivate managers to provide good service to the customers. This is the reason I am writing – in the absence of feedback in the form of rising or falling profits, managers have to receive feedback from the customers as far as their performance is concerned.
     I hope you will take action to improve the customer service skills of the employees at this location. I would like to hear back from you or someone at my local post office with details on what actions are being taken to improve customer service.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street
Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109

**** Original letter to SF post office omitted from this post, because it can be found by clicking here. ****


I have many quirks, some bordering on being obsessive-compulsive. One of my quirks is that I am rather anal about hyphen usage (and to a lesser extent, grammar in general). On that note, I admit that I don’t have perfect grammar. But I do have a great desire to learn how to write and speak clearly.

So it is with deep regret that I annouce that one of my heroes, Ralph Nader, has written an article titled “The Corporate Controlled Media”. Let’s just hope we can blame his webmaster.

Having said that, I just read the article, and I suggest you do the same. Another great read.

Penn Jillette is an Atheist

I think Penn and I think about atheism a bit differently, but this is still a nice article: There Is No God by Penn Jillette

EFF volunteering

Well I was finally able to hear back from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). I will be volunteering for a few hours today. Hopefully things will go well and I can keep at it.

Caring for Your Introvert

Inside the minds of introverts. A very interesting read.

Aftermath of the First Live Mix

I had my first live mix show tonight, broadcast online on FourMajor Radio. As mentioned in a previous post, I will be doing live shows weekly on Wednesdays from 2200-0000 PST.

Tonight’s show went OK. I had three listeners (Thanks guys!). Most of the mixes between tracks were either bad or OK, with one “good” mix that I really think I nailed. There were a few hiccups. I had one record skip on me, and had to quickly and messily switch over to the other turntable. On another mix, I got caught rushing back to the beginning of the next track . . . and accidently started the next track at the wrong speed! Oops! Also, the program I was using to rip the stream (streamripper) didn’t work. It said I was capturing the stream, but at the end I was left with a 0 byte file. So, unfortunately there will be no podcast this week. And as I mentioned before, I need to get some more records. I simply run out of good tracks to play in the course of two hours.

I am really having a great time mixing records. I am looking forward to next week’s broadcast. I really hope you all tune in.

Top Websites

Here is a list of websites that I find to be best for these basic purposes. New tools are constantly coming out that are later and greater than what is currently out, so this is simply a current snapshot.

weather National Weather Service
maps/directions Google Maps
reference Wikipedia
news Google News
all-in-one homepage Google Personalized Home
sports Yahoo Sports

Do you think I am missing something? I generally give higher points to websites that don’t have moving ads and are easy to use.

FourMajor Radio Weekly Shows

As I showed you all in a previous post, I have obtained some turntables, a mixer, and some records. Well, after a little bit of practice mixing, I am still not all that good, but I think I am getting better.

I am going to broadcast a live show weekly, starting tonight (2005-11-23) on my Internet radio station FourMajor radio. It will be held every Wednesday night from 2200 – 0000 PST. I will mostly be playing drum & bass and trance, but you might just hear some industrial and rap in there as well. I will broadcast at 160kbps, 128kbps, and 64kbps

I am also going to be recording all of the shows, and making them available via podcast.

To listen to the live broadcast you will need a mp3-capable audio player program for your computer and a broadband Internet connection. Please visit FourMajor radio for links to the streams.

To listen to the podcast, you will need to run a “podcast receiver” such as Juice and add my podcast feed (which I will link to later). You do not need a broadband Internet connection to listen in this way.

Anyway, I hope at least a couple of you tune in each week. I will be going record shopping soon to expand my collection. As for tonight, I will be running through most of my records to fill the two hours.


Ah, life is good!

The Search Engine Experiment

A public experiment discovering which of the top three search engines (Google, Yahoo, or MSN) really offers the best results. By taking the test you also find out which engine you personally prefer (and it’s a blind test, so prejudice won’t effect the outcome).

read more | digg story

Evidently I’m a *gasp* Yahoo guy.

Another Letter to Macy’s

Macy’s doesn’t seem too interested in protecting their customers against fraud, so I’ve written them again and copied the California Office of Privacy Protection. Hopefully we will get some results. The contents of the letter are found below.

November 18, 2005

Macy’s Customer Service
P.O. Box 8067
Mason, OH 45040

CC: Office of Privacy Protection
Department of Consumer Affairs
400 R Street, Suite 3080
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Macy’s Customer Service,

On October 5, 2005, I wrote a letter (a copy of which has been included in this mailing) to Macy’s customer service with a concern about the security of the credit card mailing methods. I have not yet received a reply. I was fairly certain that someone at Macy’s would be interested to know the ease in which fraud could be committed on their customers’ new credit cards.

Since that time I have received two promotional offers in the mail from Macy’s. I hardly think your sales and offers are more important than your customers’ identity theft concerns.

Due to the apparent lack of interest in the protection of your customers’ credit card accounts, I have sent a copy of this letter to the California Office of Privacy Protection. I hope that between all of us, we can come up with an acceptable solution.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street
Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109

October 5, 2005

Macy’s Customer Service
P.O. Box 8067
Mason, OH 45040

To Whom It May Concern –

I have recently received a Macy’s Visa card in the mail. I have noticed a stunning security problem with the way the card is sent.

The credit card number, as you know, is shown on the back of the card as well as the front of the card. On the back of the card, it is printed in black ink. The glue used to affix the credit card is placed directly onto this part of the card. When you remove the card from the paper, guess what gets left behind on the paper? That is right – the credit card number, and the three-digit security code. This, in combination with the credit card holder’s name and address, is almost all that is needed to make charges to the card. The only other thing needed is the expiration date. A nefarious individual can quite easily guess this date in a short amount of time. They can either start trying dates starting from one month after the current month, or they can easily apply for a Macy’s card of their own and see what the expiration date is on that, which will be close to the date of the stolen card number.

Many people throw this piece of paper away unmolested. The only personally-identifiable information they should expect to be on this paper are their name and address. Not everyone will have as good of eyesight as I do to be able to notice the small numbers left behind on the glue. I hope you correct this error quickly and update me with any actions that have been taken to prevent fraud due to this error.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street
Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109

Letter to Google

I have written a letter to Google. The letter text is below:

November 18, 2005

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View CA 94043

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to start this letter by saying that I really admire your company. I have always thought that many companies require far too many employees to create software that is either not extremely complex, or software that takes entirely too long to complete. Google proves that software can be written quickly and efficiently, and at a high quality. Because of my faith in the company, I am also a shareholder.

But this was not the point of my letter. Unfortunately I do not often send letters for the sole purpose of praise, although I suppose maybe I should. Rather, I am writing with concerns over how Google makes money.

By making money solely through advertising, you are giving your users no choice other than to have messages which are often nothing more than misleading half-truths shoved into their faces. I personally take offense to advertising. Advertising by its very nature is likely to be extremely misleading. Advertisers, entirely motivated by capitalism in most cases, will say whatever needs to be said to generate the most profit. This and many other things are what offend me about advertising.

Having said this, I admit that Google is hardly the most evil corporation in the world. Indeed, I believe that Google has done a lot of good for the world. The reason that I have picked Google, however, to write this letter to, is because of the size of Google and its future potential for growth. Because of Google’s size, I wanted to make it clear that not necessarily everyone is “OK” with advertising. Not everyone accepts a service as “free” when we are being forced to be shown advertising.

I am not suggesting that Google change its entire business model. To do so would surely be the ruin of the company. What I am suggesting is that the users be given a choice. I am sure you have plenty of data regarding how much money is made on each user per visit, day, click, etc. I suggest that you offer a pay model that would match this revenue. If a user such as me were to sign up for this pay model, I would simply not be shown the ads, yet you would be receiving the same amount of money from me that you would expect from a normal “free” user. You can count on the fact that I would be the first person to sign up for such a service.

I have attached a recent article that I have written on my blog. You can find the online copy of this article at I hope you will think about what I have said in this letter. I do not expect one letter to cause a change in how you do business, but if everyone that felt as I do would write a letter to Google, perhaps you would consider changing how you do business. I would greatly appreciate a reply containing your thoughts in response to my letter.

Stuart Matthews
2240 Larkin Street
Apartment 103
San Francisco, CA 94109
Google Account name:

** text of attached article removed from online version of letter. Please click this link to view the online version of the article **

New Computer

I’ve been drooling over computer parts recently. Well, I usually do, but I mean more than normal. The problem is that I am a computer snob, so I cannot settle with just a regular computer, and therefore it gets quite expensive. If I were to buy today, here is what I’ve got lined up:

1 Athlon 64 X2 3800+
1 ABIT KN8 SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI
2 CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)
1 Western Digital Caviar SE WD2500JD 250GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA150
1 MSI NX7800GTX-VT2D256E Geforce 7800GTX 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16
2 NEC Black IDE DVD Burner Model ND-3540
1 Lian Li PC-6070BPLUS Black Computer Case
1 SeaSonic S12-600 ATX12V 600W Power Supply
Total cost: $1837.98 before shipping and tax.

Yeah, so that is a lot of money, and I should really hold off, although I’d be selling my laptop to raise about half of that money. I figure I should squeeze at least a couple more months out of my laptop. I think a good way to enforce this for myself is to plan a wild case-mod that I don’t have time to do right now.

This post motivated by this case mod.

I Want to go to Tokyo

I don’t get access to any of the vacation time that I am currently accruing at my new job until I have been working here for 6 months. At that time I get 5 vacation days.

Well, I haven’t been out of the country since before I can remember. I think I’d like to go to Tokyo for a week once I do get my vacation time. It seems like a great city to explore culture, technology, and night life. Have any of my readers been to Tokyo? If so, what do you think of it?

Festivus Pole

I am writing this now so none of you let me get away with not doing this: I am going to put up a Festivus pole in my apartment this year, and write a detailed tutorial (with plenty of pictures, of course) on how to do so.

I tend to get these really dumb ideas in my head sometimes and then take them to extremes . . . and have a really good time doing so. So, five minutes into this idea, I have thought of a good extension of it. I also intend to write a detailed article on Wikipedia about the Festivus pole.

Damn it, I wish it were Saturday already, when I will have idle time to waste on such frivolties!

My new aura

I recently purchased some turntables, a mixer, and some records. And today, my new desk came in. Of course this meant “redesigning” my “aura”, which is what I like to call the expanse of electronics that surrounds me in my computer chair. Click here for the full gallery, or if you trust my discriminating taste then you can just look at the pretty pictures below.

DJ table
My DJ table with pretty lights.

The whole aura in one shot
The whole aura in one shot.

“About FourMajor” page added

When I go to a website, if I am confused about what the hell I am looking at, I scan the page for the “about” page, describing … well, what the hell I am looking at. I get frustrated when I can’t find one.

And going back to the whole “not wanting to be a hypocrite” theme from an earlier post, I have created a page titled “About FourMajor“, which you will always be able to find on the right side of this site.

This Post Brought to You by: No One

Every day we are assaulted by advertisements. We wake up to radio ads from our alarm clock. We see ads rolling down the streets on taxis and buses. Our fellow citizens wear advertisements on their chest like a badge of pride. In pursuit of knowledge online and in newspapers and magazines, our reading and thought is constantly interrupted by large text and flashing images that insult our intelligence. We sit ourselves in front of our TVs at night to be preached to by corporations.

Advertising is an insult to the intelligence of all of us. We are expected to, and many of us do, buy products based on 30-second snippets that say very little about why a certain product is good. Beer is purchased because a commercial made us laugh. Clothing, cologne, fast food, and many other things are purchased because good looking people are using them and meeting other good looking people who are doing the same. Wouldn’t you rather base your purchasing decisions on a well-written review, or perhaps a hands-on test drive? Every time you are shown a mindless advertisement, you are being called stupid. You cannot make informed decisions on your own. Not only that, but you cannot even make informed decisions with help. Advertisers are relying on the fact that you are going to buy their product based on factors that have nothing at all to do with their product. Advertising is inherently dishonest. You are constantly being lied to. Does this not enrage you?

For some forms of advertising, there is the following dilemma: How are you to view content without advertisements?

Many people use technological tools such as ad blockers to remove advertisements from web pages. I find this to be a breach of the unwritten (and, I am sure, written) contracts that you have with websites that you view. You are not directly paying for the content you are viewing, so why should you be able to use their resources (bandwidth, server resources) without viewing their ads? Having said this, I think pop-up blockers are a different story. It is not expected or acceptable behavior for new windows to open from an unauthorized website.

First of all, if the website offers an acceptable subscription offer, shell out the dough. Slashdot offers a subscription to their website that is quite acceptable. For $5, you get 1000 ad-free page views, along with several other small features. I signed up for this subscription on October 19, 2005, and have since used only 260 page views. At this rate, I am paying approximately $0.065 per day to view Slashdot, which I do frequently.

Secondly, if the website does not offer an acceptable subscription, write them a letter telling them what you are seeking. If they get enough letters, they will start to listen, especially if they see that they are losing readers.

The subscription method is not the only way to make money from a website without advertising. Some websites sell merchandise. An excellent example of this is Homestar Runner, my favorite web cartoon. They have no advertising, but do quite well through merchandise sales alone. A website that seems to have missed out on this opportunity is, sadly, Rob Cockerham could have surely made a decent amount of money by asking for donations and selling merchandise. Unfortunately, his website has advertisements. He even whored himself out to huge advertisements plastered on one of his pages as auctioned off on eBay. I emailed him, pleading for him to make money in another way, and even bid $50 on the eBay auction. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the auction, nor did Rob respond to my requests to calm down on the advertising.

Television and radio have similar problems and solutions. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about broadcast TV, other than to support our public access channels to keep them ad-free (which isn’t always the case). The problem is that broadcast TV cannot deliver ads to some, and not to others.

Focusing on cable TV, everyone pays for it, and everyone still has to view advertisements. Looking up cable television rates on the Comcast website, the minimum monthly cost for zip code 94109 is $16.52 for basic cable. There are plans costing as much as $100/month with most of the channels still including gratuitous amounts of advertising. But, there is no alternative, correct? Well, almost. True, there is no other option as far as cable TV goes. There are alternatives to entertainment, however. Netflix and others offer DVD movies by mail subscriptions. And, of course, there are books, magazines, and the Internet.

Use your personal power of capitalism and choose not to pay for cable television. Write the cable company a letter telling them how you feel. Additionally, many of us have heard of Tivo by now. It lets you record TV shows and watch them at your leisure, even skipping through advertisements. I personally find it to be too expensive, especially when added to the cost of cable TV. But, for those who like to watch TV more than I do, it is a viable option.

At this point we have discussed several ways in which we are advertised to on forums owned by corporations. But what do we do when our own government is promoting advertisements? Corporate advertisements on public property are endorsements of whatever is being advertised. How can our government possibly endorse the practices of corporations such as McDonalds, which purchased advertising space on subway cars in Washington DC? Could we perhaps personify a corporation? McDonalds has unfair labor practices, and promotes unhealthy eating. Maybe we could replace the images on the subway with a slave owner eating red meat and cheese. Maybe then people viewing the ads would see what is really being shown to them.

Even our public schools are polluted by advertising. From Commercial Alert, “Channel One is a company that delivers two minutes of advertising and ten minutes of “news,” banter and fluff to captive audiences of about 7.7 million students in 11,500 middle and high schools across the country.” In addition to Channel One, we have a larger problem of corporate-sponsored vending machines and fast food restaurants being allowed access to our schools. Super Size Me (documentary) and Fast Food Nation (book) provide excellent details on this growing problem.

Fortunately, we have several ways to change how government works. You can write your representative, protest, and most importantly, vote. Unfortunately, even our elections have been greatly influenced by pathetic forms of advertising. Votes are captured by 30-second sound-bytes and phrases such as “flip flop”. The presidential “debates” are just one giant taxpayer-funded advertisement for only two choices, excluding (and arresting) those who actually have new ideas that they’d like to explain at length.

So what is the “big picture”, society-wide solution to this advertising dilemma? Truthfully, there isn’t a “big picture” solution as long as we are living in a capitalistic society. As long as advertising works to sell more products, advertising will be used. Having said that, we should not be content to let our government promote advertising. Advertising needs to be removed from our public property like public transportation vehicles and public buildings. Write your respective representatives to let them know how you feel.

What can be done, however, is to remove much of the influence of advertising from your own life. Reject magazines, newspapers, television, radio, and other sources that have obnoxious amounts of advertising. Write to these companies stating that you would prefer an ad-free subscription model as opposed to the model that is currently promoted.

Not only can you remove yourself from the influence of advertising, but you can also be a small part of the solution for others. You surely have countless articles of clothing promoting one company or another. Get rid of them. Wear clothing that does not obnoxiously promote for-profit enterprises. Be the change that you wish to see in the world.


Ralph Nader wrote the following letter to President Bush. You can find the original here.

Dear Mr. President:

A humanitarian catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions is unfolding in the Himalayas, yet your administration seems remarkably unorganized in applying more resources. Has anyone shown you the wire service photos of frightened children standing in the rubble with nothing between them and the impending winter but a blanket? Reports tell of 2 to 3 million people who are without homes, hundreds of thousands who have received no aid whatsoever, and helicopter flights facing cutbacks because they have no aid to deliver. Is the world community prepared to turn its back on these people? Are you, the self proclaimed leader of the compassionate forces in the world, looking askance?

While hundreds of millions of dollars in aid have been promised by the international community, only a fraction of it has been received. What is urgently needed are tents for shelter and equipment for removing rubble, reconstruction and other materials in advance of the approaching winter. Lack of medical care is causing relatively minor infections to fester to the point where doctors are forced to resort to amputation. Reports from the scene tell us that the 80,000 dead from the earthquake may be matched by a second wave of preventable deaths, deaths attributable to disinterest and neglect among those who have the capacity to preserve these lives.

Our nation has large and well-organized communities of both Indians and Pakistanis. If the reports and the images of this tidal wave of human disaster do not move you, perhaps you and your party should prepare to explain to these communities why their brothers and sisters were not worth saving. The aid pledged by your administration so far amounts to a few hours worth of what you are spending on the boomerang Iraq War opposed by a growing majority of the American people. Please spare us from the suggestion that you, our history’s largest tax-cutter for the wealthy, including yourself, cannot afford to do more.

You have often loudly and publicly proclaimed your Christian beliefs, most recently in your support for Ms. Meyers’ nomination to the United States Supreme Court. Perhaps your religious beliefs could offer you some guidance in determining what is the decent course of action for the President to do in this moment of grave crisis for so many helpless families.


Ralph Nader

Letter Writing

Some or all of you may not have noticed, but I have put a link on the right to my letter writing. New this week – me complaining to the Washington Post and my local post office.

Diets suck

Diets suck. I want jelly beans.

My Dirty Undies

Hahaha . . . go Homestar!

I love where I live

I absolutely love the location of my apartment. Last night I went for a run north on Larkin street, past Ghiradelli square. As I extend my run I think I will run to the sea lions and back.

And then this morning I find out there is an anti-Wal-Mart documentary coming out soon. It will be shown in select theatres (11 total in the country). One of them is 0.6 miles from my apartment. That makes it rather easy to go to.

Exam Rescheduled

Well I just rescheduled my CCNA exam from tomorrow to Friday. That is a monkey off of my back. He was starting to scratch, too.

How to best separate oneself from Christmas

As many of you know, I am an atheist. Not only am I an atheist in the broad sense of the term, which is “an absence of belief in the existence of god(s)”, but I am an atheist who has an affirmative belief that there does not exist a god.

Everyone is a hypocrite in some way. I personally try to minimize my own level of hypocrisy. This is difficult for an atheist to do in a Christian country. We encounter Christianity and religion every day. Through the use of phrases, belief in a god becomes assumed among everyone. It is amazing how difficult it is to remove certain religious habits from my daily practices. For a few years now, I have been trying my hardest not to say “bless you.” Instead, I say “salud”, which means “health” in Spanish, and is the customary equivalent to “bless you.” Just changing this one phrase in my vocabulary has proved extremely difficult. Maybe ten years from now I can stop saying “God damn it” and “Jesus Christ!” as exclamatory remarks.

As difficult as it is to change your own behavior, I would imagine it would be much more difficult to change others’ behavior towards you. We are approaching the winter holiday season. As we get closer to Christmas, I can expect to receive at least a few Christmas cards. Additionally, I will hear “Merry Christmas!” directed towards me quite often. Unfortunately, Christianity is something that is placed upon you by default in this country. It is something you have to opt out of. Another unfortunate trend is that one seems to have a limited number of choices. Unless you are outwardly a member of another major religion, you become Christian by default to almost everyone.

So now the question becomes – How do I protect my own identity? There is a fine line between protecting my identity and avoiding confrontation with those close to me. I think I will make a conscious effort to kindly inform at least some people that I do not celebrate Christmas if they are to wish me a merry Christmas. But will I do the same with my own family? That is not likely to happen this year. I can only remove so much of my hypocrisy at a time.

A great quote from Tim O’Reilly

Tim O’Reilly says:

“Wikipedia may have its problems, but the output of traditional media can be pretty crappy too,” he said. “Fox News managed to persuade much of America that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, didn’t they?”

The above quote was found in the article “Web 2.0 Cracks Start to Show” from Wired.

Sweet video of Sean Taylor

For all you Redskins fans – check out this sweet video of Sean Taylor highlights.


So I wrote an email to the EFF. I’d like to volunteer some of my time to them. Hopefully they will find me worthy.

Constant reminders

I am reminded every single day of the life that I thought I would be living. I will be happily sitting at my computer reading some news and I will see a story about Madison, Wisconsin.

It is like going to and seeing:
8 Marines die in Iraq
Your girlfriend broke up with you
Redskins beat 49ers

It is inescapable.


Holy shit, I just made a blog post using Flock. Although I had to go back and edit it because it screwed up my link.

Non-automatic respect

You have probably heard the following countless times: We must respect everyone’s beliefs. Well that is, of course, unless such beliefs have already been deemed taboo.

It is unacceptable to subscribe to a belief system that does not allow equal rights for all, and I do not respect any such belief system. Take, for instance, gay marriage. Why should I respect the viewpoint that gays do not deserve equal rights? Calling gay people second-class citizens, which is essentially what such a viewpoint is doing, is hateful. It doesn’t matter that the majority of our country holds such beliefs, or that many sects of Christianity advocate such beliefs. These beliefs are still hateful and those who hold them should be called on it.

At the same time, why not listen to the arguments of a belief that you don’t respect, at least once? However twisted or wrong these particular individuals may be, some of them are very intelligent and aren’t just talking out of their ass.

See, here we have two extremes. If a belief is taboo, then we aren’t even supposed to listen to and carefully consider the arguments for said belief. On the other hand, if a belief is mainstream, then we automatically have to “respect” said belief.

Birthday number 22

Today was the 22nd anniversery of my birth. I was able to, rather sporadically, arrange to meet Rosa at a bar near Columbus Avenue. Her friend from work was scheduled to spin some rap and R&B.

I think I may have found a new “good” bar (although, *grumble*, they don’t make White Russians). Well, I suppose it was Rosa that found it, not me. I digress. I asked for two shots of “good” (I need to lay off the quotes) vodka. Some bartenders might have probed me for an exact brand name, but this one understood that I wanted him to figure it out for me. He returned with the best damn vodka I have ever had. I felt a little awkward downing two shots of vodka for no particular reason, so I explained that it was my birthday, and that drinking two shots was better than drinking 22 shots. What a great bartender! He gave me the premium vodka on the house!

Conversation was good with Rosa and her friend. Oddly enough, I think birthdays are best celebrated with people you don’t know well. I remember my 18th birthday. Two of my friends ditched me, and I celebrated my birthday with my friend Jamie, and three of his friends that I don’t even remember any more. Even though I knew only Jamie, that was one of my best birthdays.

I hope everyone else had a great day as well. As for me, only two more nights of sleeping without a mattress!

Well, I am here

Wendy, Rich, and I arrived in San Francisco Friday morning. We dropped my car off at the shop, and then frantically unloaded the UHaul and I signed the lease. This included me running 2 blocks to get Rich to move the UHaul out of someone’s spot. Quite comical to the passer-by, I would guess.

In the short time that Rich and Wendy had in San Francisco, we walked around the immediate neighborhood a little. They liked what they saw of the area. Then, they flew home to Maryland that night.

Thankfully, I was able to catch a stray wireless Internet signal, so I have had something to keep me entertained. I have been spending a lot of time buying odds and ends for my apartment. Unfortunately, I still don’t have any new furniture. But I do have a bed and mattresses coming Saturday. Here are a few pictures of the place. I don’t have bedroom pictures yet because it was a mess at the time that I was taking the pictures.

The first day of work was today. The people there are all pretty nice. It will take me a while, though, to remember all of their names. Oh, and I found out I am going to be getting TWO high-end desktop computers for my cube. SWEET.

For the curious – I will post roadtrip pictures shortly.

On the Road

Wendy, Rich and I left Maryland at 7:08 AM EDT on Tuesday morning. We had my Lexus ES300 towing a 5×8 trailer. The car was definitely handling it well, but we weren’t pushing it – a maximum of 70mph the whole way.

A few hours into our trip, we had our first problem. We, of course, had way too many things hooked up to the cigarette lighter. We had a car mini fridge, a cell phone charger, and a power inverter powering an ipod and a couple of laptops hooked up. Needless to say, the cigarette lighter did not hold up. It was only a matter of time before everything ran out of batteries and our drinks got warm.

Despite the lack of DVDs to watch, we somehow weren’t at each other’s throats. We drove straight through for 30 hours, with rotating sleeping. Just past Denver, we discovered a tire and wheel in the road that, unlike all of his brothers, was not connected to an actual car. The Lexus unfortunately discovered it before we did.

The homeless wheel did its best to try to make my car its home. It failed miserably, instead tearing up the bottom of my car (exhaust, catalytic converter, and the radiator). We limped into the next exit, where there was conveniently a UHaul place. After calling my insurance company, I decided to tow the car to San Francisco with a UHaul truck and get it fixed there.

We finally got a hotel last night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We also got a decent meal and, most importantly, beer. We’re now hitting the road again at 8am Mountain Time. We are aiming to get in to San Francisco by 12pm Friday.

Conclusion of my trip, beginning of a new life

Today was a rather big day, and a long one. I started it off by accepting a job offer with PC Guardian Technologies. I will be doing high-level tech support during European Business hours (2am-11am Pacific time). Also, about half my time will be devoted to research and problem replication.

After running a couple of errands at FedEx/Kinkos, I grabbed some lunch. Of course, since I didn’t technically have an income, I hadn’t been able to apply to apartments until today. So, at about 1:30pm I was able to start seriously looking at apartments online. I found two that I decided to look at. One was near the Tenderloin district (crappy area of San Fran) but it looked really nice, and it seemed to be a decent size. Another one was on Russian Hill (which is a nice neighborhood) but was rather small.

So I walked over to the first apartment, to get a feel for the neighborhood. Even though it was near the Tenderloin, the neighborhood wasn’t horrible, but not the best either. I called the person that listed the apartment, and she didn’t pick up. Well, I didn’t have time to burn, so I walked to the next apartment. The neighborhood looked very nice, so I called the person in charge of that apartment at about 2:45. I explained to them that I would like to see the apartment sooner rather than later, and they set an appointment for 4pm. This left me with the opportunity to check out the neighborhood more. One street over, I discovered restaurants, bars, coffee shops, grocery stores, and a bakery.

The apartment is small, but it is nice. The kitchen and bathroom look to be all new, and the carpet is clean. After looking at it for about 5 minutes and asking a few questions, I started filling out an application. I explained to the man showing the apartment that I would like to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Well, by 7pm I found out that the apartment is mine. I am meeting the woman in charge tomorrow to pay her the deposit, and my lease will start on September 8.

I am flying out of San Francisco tomorrow, and Rich, Wendy, and I will be driving cross country Tuesday, hopefully getting in on Thursday the 8th. I start my job on Monday the 12th. I guess I have just been lucky to be able to do everything so quickly around here.

It is funny sometimes how the smallest occurances can change one’s life so much. For instance, I likely would not have even come to San Francisco had it not been for a reader of my friend’s blog, who had not commented before on the website, but with her first comment really spoke highly of San Francisco. I have been emailing her since, and she has been a big help. Also, if the person from the first apartment had picked up the phone when I was there today, I might not have even looked at the second apartment. But, because she didn’t pick up, I went on my way.

San Francisco Night 5

After lunch with Andrea and Steve yesterday, I walked to Golden Gate Park. I was amazed at the beauty and upkeep of this park, along with how many people were using it. There was a huge area of flowers, nice big lawns, and a road closed to cars on the weekend, which is nice for bikers and skaters. I even witnessed an impromptu rollerskate dance party. Here are a couple of pictures from the park:

After leaving the park, I walked through the Haight-Ashbury area. I will have to say I wasn’t too impressed. It all seemed a bit gimmicky to me for some reason. One neat find, however, was the anarchist bookstore. I am sure I could find some lively debate in there if I was up for it one day.

I had gone out every night since I arrived, so I decided to stay in last night. At about 9 I felt a bit hungry, and decided to get a snack at the hotel restaurant. I took a book with me, and wasn’t really looking at the chicken strips I was eating. On the last one, i noticed that it was quite undercooked. I am glad I didn’t get sick today. Also, thankfully they didn’t charge me for the food. Otherwise, there would have been quite an argument.

I had my interview today. It was with a company called PC Guardian. They are in the encryption business. The interview went very well. About 20 minutes after leaving their office, I got a call to set up the second interview for Wednesday. The outlook for this job is very good, and I was really impressed by the description of the company and job. Evidently, about half of my time would be spent doing research, both for current customer issues, and research on personal interests (that I guess would have something to do with my work).

San Francisco Day Four

Yesterday was a day of relaxation. My legs were extremely sore from walking so much on Friday. Added to this was the fact that I couldn’t sleep more than four hours.

At noon I went to an open house for an apartment. I didn’t intend to actually attempt to get the apartment, but rather take a look at it and get an idea of what my money would buy. I joined about a dozen people standing in front of the apartment, but the agent never arrived to show the apartment.

Afterwards, I came back and napped for a bit. After waking up and BSing online for a while, I went up to North Beach for dinner. There are a multitude of Italian places there to get dinner, and not much seems to differentiate them at first sight. I picked one that seemed to be not too busy, and offered to take an outside table. The table, I was to find out, had quite a slant to it, so much so that I had to carefully watch my glass of water. I suppose they felt bad for me having to eat at such a crap table, so they gave me a free glass of wine. I ordered lasagna, and it was excellent.

After burning some time at the City Lights Bookstore, I walked through the financial district to Club Six. This was quite a unique experience. Upstairs, they had traditional South Asian music, with one guy playing the tablas (drums) and another one playing a type of guitar, and later singing and playing an organ-accordian-type instrument.

The music downstairs was what I came for. It was drum and bass with a guy playing the tablas, and a couple of MCs at times. Honestly, the music wasn’t very good (lots of reggae, which I don’t like) until about midnight. The mixing was also not very good. At times it sounded like they just ripped the record off of the turntable and a couple of seconds later switched to the track on the other table. Well, at midnight, Karsh Kale came on. He is a rather famous DJ – I had heard him previously on the Asian Massive CD. He was rather good, with actual drum and bass tracks that had a lot of tablas and South Asian vocals. I listened for a while, but I was ready to go by this point. There didn’t seem to be any good opportunities to meet people, and the floor was quite packed making it hard to dance. I had a good time, but I am not sure I would go back to the club often. I would like to check out the event again sometime though; It is a weekly event.

Today I met up with Biff’s sister Andrea and her friend Steve for lunch. It was nice to see someone I knew for the first time in about a week and a half! Today I think I will actually make it out to Golden Gate park and check out the areas around there. It may be inevitable that I will have to learn the bus system here pretty soon. It seems quite confusing.

San Francisco Day 3

Yesterday was a very long day. I started off walking from the hotel to the Pacific Heights neighborhood. This is a very upper-class neighborhood, with huge mansions, manicured lawns, and expensive cars. This is at the top of a hill, and there is a great view of the Marina district here. From there, I walked to a park with a nice view of the Golden Gate bridge.

One of the mansions in the Pacific Heights neighborhood

Alcatraz and the Marina district as seen from Pacific Heights

After taking a break there, I walked east through the Marina district. I came to the Fisherman’s Wharf, ate and In-N-Out Burger, and then make the long trek back to my hotel. The Fisherman’s Wharf seemed rather hokey, which is why I left it so quickly.

I think I walked about 10-12 miles yesterday. I came back to the hotel and took a 2.5-hour nap. Last night, I decided to go to the Rogue Pub in North Beach. The pub is really great – they have dozens of their own beers, almost all award-winning.

I came in, got a burger and a beer, and talked a little with the waitress. After finishing my burger, I moved to the bar for my next beer. At the bar, I met a guy (using fake names here) named Charley. Charley and I talked for a bit, and he explained a lot about the different neighborhoods in San Francisco.

He told me he was meeting his friend at the bar, so I was expecting a woman to walk through the door at any time and say hi to Charley. But, instead, he was actually meeting the waitress, Melissa (again, fake name). She sat down between us and the three of us talked for a while. Then, Xavier came in and joined us. He is a bartender at Rogue’s. They invited me to go to another bar with them, so after a little while, we left.

As we walked towards the next bar, Xavier saw some friends in the street – Zoey and Rhonda. They joined us, and we happened upon three older guys that were rocking out in the back of a pickup truck, playing old rock favorites, just for the hell of it, it appeared. We watched them and cheered them on for a few minutes, and finally found our way to the bar.

There was a great band at that bar, and Xavier was nice enough to buy me a beer. Melissa and I watched the band for a few songs, and then she walked off to go talk to Charley. I watched the band for a couple more songs, then turned around to try to meet back up with everyone. I had a brief moment of horror when I didn’t see anyone that I had come with. I walked outside, rather dejected, to see Melissa and Charley talking. They were ready to call it a night, but we are going to get back together later, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I then joined Xavier, Zoey, and Rhonda in the next bar over. There was a very loud punk band playing there, and we yelled to each other to get to know each other a bit. After the band was done, we talked at the bar until last call.

Well, we were having a great time, and weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so Xavier invited all of us back to his place, which was just a few blocks away. We sat there until about 4:30am just shooting the shit. I think I am going to get back together with them as well before going back to MD. I got back to the hotel at about 5am, and slept for about four hours.

Today, I went to an apartment showing, along with about a dozen other people, but the shower never arrived. So now I am probably going to nap for a couple of hours and then head to Golden Gate park to check out the neighborhoods there and also check out “Hippie Hill” as Charley called it. Tonight, I think I am going to go to Club Six for drum and bass with Asian vocals!

San Francisco Night One

Well, as you could probably notice from my lack of posting during the last couple of nights in Miami, nothing exciting happened. I did enjoy myself to an extent, relaxing and reading. But, I suppose it just wasn’t all that interesting since I knew I wasn’t going to be moving to Miami.

But, here I am in San Francisco. I got in to the hotel today at about 4:30pm Pacific time. I am a bit disappointed with the hotel, but oh well. It is somewhere to sleep, and there is Internet, even if I do have to pay $10/day for it.

Soon after arriving, I set out for North Beach. I am staying in what I think is the financial district, so the walk to North Beach was a nice one through downtown and part of Chinatown. San Francisco is a very picturesque city. Here are some pictures from North Beach and atop Lombard Street:

View from Washington Square

San Francisco as seen from atop Lombard Street

During this walk, I felt that I had already fell in love with San Francisco. Of course, I am not ready to commit to move here, but I have a VERY good first impression. Upon coming back to the hotel, I decided to go out to a club tonight. I went to Il Pirata, where it was supposed to be Drum and Bass night. Instead, it was trance and house, but still very good stuff. I met two people tonight, one of whom I might be going to a Giants game with tomorrow, if he remembers to call. The other one I was talking to for a while. She is a mail carrier, originally from Peru. Very interesting to talk to.

I noticed a very sharp contrast tonight between Miami and San Francisco. In Miami, you are your clothes. You are your date. You are your abs. In San Francisco, you are your thoughts. You are what you say. You are the music that you like. This difference was immediately evident to me, and immediately relieving. I had the most fun that I have had in a long while tonight. The music, the people, and the atmosphere were perfect. I suppose I will go back to this bar before I leave San Francisco.

I can only hope tomorrow will be as great as today was. My friends, I may very well be moving to San Francisco. It may just be lust, or it may be love at first sight.

I’ve lined up an interview!

Well after submitting quite a few cover letters and resumes, I managed to get an interview in San Francisco on Monday. Good location, good pay, night shift again (but I can handle it, right? :-)) Finally, I will have a reason to wear one of the ties that I brought! Maybe I will wear both of them to impress everyone!

Fifth Night in Miami

Saturday night pretty much finalized that I won’t be moving to Miami. Not a huge disappointment; I’ve got two more cities to go to. Because of this I decided that I would just kind of chill out yesterday instead of doing more exploring. (Stop reading here if you are expecting a bit of excitement.) I chilled out on the porch for a while, took a nap, and then went to the beach later. Well, even though that may be boring, at least I got some nice pictures at the beach:

Today, I went on a rather long trip . . . to get Madden. But at least I have it now. Of course, I took a nap. Then I finally got the really nice dinner I have been wanting: Corona, snapper with plantains, a glass of wine, and a slice of key lime pie. It was expensive, and excellent.

There probably won’t be much more excitement until I get to San Francisco, but maybe I will feel like exploring some more tomorrow or Wednesday. That is the great thing – I have nothing planned and I can do whatever the hell I want. Yay!

Third Night in Miami

Well today started off pretty good. I set out for Little Havana. This is a really neat area. Everywhere you look, there are these lunch counters and cafeterias serving inexpensive Cuban food. Unfortunately, since it took me a while to get going the right way, I was really hungry with about 12 blocks to walk before I got to Little Havana, so I ended up eating at Burger King.

I only got pictures of some monuments, since any other pictures would have been of people, and I didn’t think they would like that too much.

Bay of Pigs Memorial

One interesting area that I really wanted to get a picture of was Domino Park. This is a little courtyard where a bunch of old Cuban guys play dominoes and talk.

After another failed attempt at buying Madden 2006, I came back and took a nap. It was still early, but I was hungry and had nothing to do, so I decided to scope out the club downtown that I wanted to go to later and then get something to eat. I took the bus downtown, and was (in theory) only 4 blocks away from the club, so I started walking there. It was only about 6:30pm, but evidently this is when the ruffians start coming out on Saturday nights. I had one guy trying to tell me he met me several weeks ago. Of course, I didn’t let on that I wasn’t from Miami, and I started to walk away. He proceeded to follow me, about a block behind, for several blocks. I found the club, and if things hadn’t been so shady, I would have walked around looking for a decent restaurant. But, I had two other people try to get my attention (I am sure they had something really important to say); I ignored them and decided to take the Metro Mover to the Bayside Marketplace for dinner. Dinner was good, the service sucked, and tip was automatically included.

I sat around for a little while, watching some live music at the marketplace, and waiting for it to get late. 10pm rolled around so I decided it was late enough to go to the club. I had a hell of a time finding a cabbie that wanted to give me a ride. Of course the “first cab” has dibs on passengers, but when there is no driver near the cab, this can get a little confusing. I hailed a cab, got into an argument with a couple of cabbies (this would be great comedy if caught on tape), and finally found someone that wanted my money. We made it about 10 feet towards the club when the cabbie informed me that the club didn’t even open until midnight. Well, I wasn’t about to sit around for two more hours, so I asked him if he knew of any good bars.

He took me back to south beach, and dropped me off at the absolute chillest place I have ever been to. This place had white curtains everywhere, beds to lay on while you sip your drinks, and a very shallow pool for looks in the middle of the garden area. The only problem was that this place wasn’t exactly the type of place where a dude like me can find a table in the corner and just enjoy a couple of beers. At this point, I decided that the night, and Miami as a whole, was pretty much a lost cause. I walked the 14 blocks back to my hotel, had a couple of Coronas and the free cigar I got earlier in the day out on the porch. After a whole book of matches, I can now say I know how to properly light a cigar.

Mark and I played a little World of Warcraft to round things out, so not all was lost.

Second Night in Miami

Today I did a bit of exploring. I don’t know how long it has been since I rode a public bus . . . but I managed to figure it out today. I walked a few blocks from my hotel in South Beach to the bus stop, and rode across Biscayne Bay to the Bayside Marketplace, which is evidently a big tourist thing. It is just a bunch of stores . . . and the EB Games doesn’t even have Madden 2006 for the PC (neither does the whole city of Miami, it seems), so I don’t see what the big deal is. It does offer some nice views, though:

Biscayne Bay as seen from the Bayside Marketplace.

My guide book suggested that I ride the Metro Mover – a driverless electric train that is elevated above the street level. Metro Mover is free to ride, and seems to be a good way to get around much of the city. First I rode one of the loops in a . . . loop, to get a general feel for downtown. Then, I rode south to the financial district. Miami is a financial connection to the US for much of Latin America, so the financial district is full of tall bank buildings, and it is quite impressive.

The financial district is also home to luxury apartments such as these.

After sitting out a short rain storm, I headed back north. In my quest for Madden, I got off at a stop that was described as having a “mall”. I ended up walking around what seemed to be a Latin market area, with store after store with electronics, clothes, and perfume. When I decided I had had enough, I tried to get back on the Metro Mover, but it was taking forever, so I walked back to the bus station, and rode back to South Beach.

I ate some good sushi for dinner. I still want to go out for a really nice dinner, but I’ve got plenty of time for that.

First Night of Miami

As promised, I bring you “Night 1 in Miami”.

I will skip the boring details of the flight . . . well let’s just say that the Budweiser restaurant may be getting a letter . . .

Upon arriving at my hotel, I smelled marijuana twice in fifteen minutes. Oh well, that doesn’t bother me; It is just an interesting note. After getting my laptop and speakers set up, I decided to go out and check out South Beach. I have never seen more clubs in my life. The only problem is that almost all of them seem to be “Top 40”. I did expect this, however. This is why I consulted my trusty (well, maybe not so trusty) National Geographic Miami guide book.

The guide book suggested a certain club/bar called “Jazid” about 10 blocks north of my hotel, where it is evidently more laid-back and there is live music (you’d think it might be jazz?) every night. I went in, and there was some horrible solo guy with a guitar on stage, but I sat down at the bar anyway. I went with my old standby – a White Russian. The bartender proceeded to put about half a shot of milk in and the rest ice, vodka, and Kahlua. Yeah, that would have been great if my only goal was to get trashed, but I also like to enjoy my drinks. Oh, and she for some reason put a CHERRY in my White Russian. Total cost: $10 + $2 tip. I got a $5 Bass after that and then left. Final score for Jazid: sausage fest.

I decided to make my way back to the hotel at a leisurely pace, with the intention of stopping again if something caught my eye. I found a cool record store where I proceeded to buy a mix drum and bass CD. I also asked the guy at the counter if there were any places that played trance or drum and bass. He guided me towards sixth street where he had heard of some vague reference from his friend of drum and bass. I found no such place, but I did find a flyer on the sidewalk for Paul van Dyk this Saturday in downtown Miami. Maybe all the trance clubs are downtown?

Tomorrow should be interesting. I want to check out the mass transit and get some Cuban food for lunch, and something nice for dinner. Hopefully my guide book won’t let me down again.

Random tidbit that no one but me will understand

One of the things I love most about myself is my ability to make important decisions quickly and without fear.

Firefox sucks, and so does everything else

I was a long-time user of Internet Explorer until maybe 1 year ago. I switched to firefox. It is better than Internet Explorer, but it still sucks. Here is what is wrong with all web browsers I have tried:

  • Internet Explorer: no tabs. bad security. no pop-up blocking
  • Firefox: disables extensions when you upgrade to a new version. copy/paste doesn’t work correctly when you have two firefox windows open. scrolling with the up and down keys doesn’t work when you have two firefox windows open. firefox crashes. firefox has a serious memory leak problem. There are hundreds of unresolved bugzilla bugs. You can’t customize the toolbars like in IE
  • Opera: ads
  • Maxthon and Avant: standardized hotkeys for tabs don’t work (ctrl-t). f6 also doesn’t work.

Sigh. I guess I will put this on my list of projects. Maybe I should learn how to program better first. Something based off of firefox would be best, I think.

Improve Your Computing Experience: Using screen

I have written a tutorial on using the Unix utility GNU screen. Click this link to read the tutorial.

Potential Future Wikipedia Crisis

I have been using Wikipedia a lot lately. I have been editing a lot of pages too. I have read stories about the extremely dedicated users who spend hours per day editing Wikipedia stories.

This got me thinking that there has got to be a way that people will make money from their Wikipedia skills. One way is, as Wikipedia becomes more popular as a reputable source of information, companies, political groups, or religious groups might hire a full-time Wikipedia expert to support their views and polish their image.

Scary, isn’t it?

Save Cockeyed

One of my favorite websites is If you have a sense of humor anything like mine, you will be amused there for hours on end (that is, if you haven’t been there for a while). The website’s owner/creator is Rob Cockerham. He usually updates the site once or twice a week.

Recently, Rob has decided to make a little extra dough from his site by sponsoring links and putting up ads. It started with the fatwallet ad at the top of every page. I guess I will let him slide on that, because they give him free hosting in exchange for the ad. Then came the “Websites that I Encourage You to Visit” page. Now, Rob is actually selling ad space on an actual Cockeyed content page through this auction.

We are molested every day by ads in everything we do. It would be rather unfortunate to see Cockeyed taken over by ads as well. I understand that Rob would like to make money off of his site, but I think there are better ways of doing so. He could sell Cockeyed merchandise (this is how makes money) or even just ask for donations. For now, though, I have appealed to Rob to stop the advertising, making the suggestions I have made above. To show my sincerity, I have bid $50 for the ad space. If you all are as big of cockeyed fans as I am, I implore you to chip in. Contact me at if you’d like to help.

Slashdot Story Generator

I was looking for alternatives to Slashdot when I stumbled across the Slashdot Story Generator.

If you are looking for alternatives to Slashdot as well, I suggest you visit this “Quit Today!” page.

Serial . . . Litterer?

This is the funniest article I have read in a long time. Evidently a crotchety old man in Virginia was pissed off at the state, and decided to dump his trash on public land.

Yahoo! Unlimited reviewed

Yahoo! today launched their new Yahoo! Music Unlimited. For $4.99/month (when paying for a whole year), you can listen to their whole music library from your Windows PC. You also have the option to pay $0.79 to burn a track to a CD.

You access their service with the Yahoo! Music Engine (pictured below).

The interface is pretty nice. It is much more responsive than iTunes, which I have found to take a decent amount of time between page loads and music imports.

When I first started the Yahoo! Music Engine, I was prompted to import the music that I already had. I directed it to the C:\Music folder, and it imported all subdirectories, including files encoded in ogg, flac, and mp3 formats. I was able to go about my business exploring the program while it was busy importing my music.

I decided to put Yahoo! Unlimited to the test right from the start. One of my favorite artists is Dieselboy. I attempted to type “Dieselboy” into the search box on the Y! Unlimited page, but my text would not take. Instead, I used the “Browse By Genre” dropdown box to the right to select “Electronic / Dance” and from there choose “Jungle / Drum & Bass”. I saw several tracks listed, and I wanted to see how quickly their music would start streaming after I clicked play next to one of the tracks. When I clicked the play button, I was informed that I had to download a security update to play the music. The download seemed to go pretty quickly (I am on a fat connection at work). When I next clicked on the play button, the album art simply greyed out. This seemed to be a deal breaker, but having the classic computer mentality, I restarted the program.

And, I am now successfully listening to an artist I have never heard before “MJ Cole”. Clicking “play” on the album started playing the first song within a second. Again, I am on a fat Internet connection, but this is still impressive. I had been wondering for a while where I could find good Drum & Bass. I have now found that place.

I have not used any of the other subscription-based music services to be able to compare, but Yahoo! Unlimited does seem to be lacking in one very important area: completeness. As mentioned before, one of my favorite artists is Dieselboy. My all-time favorite is Tool. Searches on both of these artists turn up a grand total of 0 albums. This isn’t a big deal for these two artists, since I have all of their albums stored locally on my hard drive, but it does not sound good for future searches. Other artists that I have searched have missing albums. I understand that this may be very hard to acheive, but what is really needed is for this service to have very close to all the music I would ever be looking for. Then it would really be of full value to me.

A great part about this program is that it integrates countless radio stations into the interface. You can pick from a standard Launchcast station on the left, or you can choose to “Play Artist Fan Station”, which is supposedly a mix of what fans of that artist will like. In the limited time that I have listened to the Tool and Dieselboy Artist Fan Stations, I have noticed a nice correlation to the artist, and the type of music that is played on the station. I have also noticed something very peculiar. For both artists there are no albums available for download/streaming, but their songs are included in the station mix. I am sure it is some sort of licensing crap, but still annoying that they can play it on the station but you can’t stream the album as a whole.

Another note about the stations is that it can be rather awkward on some stations to not have the tracks mix together, like in almost any electronic station. The tracks were meant to be played back-to-back, so you are left with an abrupt start and ending to each track. There may be a feature to do this, but I haven’t found it yet.

Even on the first day that this program has been out, there are plugins for it. One of them is “1337 m1n1 m0d3” (pictured below) which replaces the current inadequate mini mode.

Overall, this program and service seems to have some growing to do, but being the first day that it is out, I am very impressed. $4.99/month is a bargain, and I think they realize that. This seems to be a limited-time offer. I went ahead and signed up for a year, but my card won’t be charged for another week, so I can cancel if I don’t like it!

The New Grammar

The Internet brings about new grammar questions. A couple of examples are:

  • When opening a parenthesis, and ending the statement within with a smiley, does one end the parenthesis with a seperate parenthesis, or does the mouth of the smiley take over in this role? So this:
    (Hello 🙂
    versus this:
    (Hello :-))
    I generally prefer the second option, but I think the first option looks better but more awkward.
  • When typing a URL, path, or email address into a sentence, how does one put a period in? A period would change the meaning of what is typed, and it can also be unintentionally interpreted as the actual end of the sentence. Example:
    I think you should check out
    I think a good solution to this problem would be to instead write the following:
    I think you should check out ‘’.
    There, now doesn’t that look better?

Holy Crap

I have 3 listeners on my Internet radio station (FourMajor Radio), none of whom are me or my cousin. In fact, I don’t think I know any of them, just by looking at the IP addresses. I am playing some Yo-Yo Ma right now – maybe that was the secret.

NES Mod idea

My brother and I love the classic game Genghis Khan for the NES. I just thought of a way to play on a REAL NES over the Internet. You could make a controller emulator that plugs into a computer’s serial port on one end, and into the Nintendo controller port on the other end. Make the video and audio output go into the computer. On the remote end, have the other user plug a modified controller into their serial port, and transmit it back to the NES video/controller server. There could even be a nice all-in-one window that would display video, sound, and maybe even a clickable controller on the client side. This sounds like a lot of work, but DAMN that would be awesome. I am assuming it wouldn’t be too good for action-packed games, but it would be great for a turn-based game like Genghis Khan.

Numa Numa

It is amazing what a little Numa Numa can do to cheer a guy up.

Life Experiences

Life seems to be a collection of unique experiences. These experiences can exist mostly in the real world, or they can exist in an abstract or imaginary world. When doing something like cutting down trees or soldering a circuit, I consider that to be completely concentrated on the real world. You are extremely focused on one “real” thing, on which you have a unique perspective. One person may see a tree with a thin slice in it, while you may see a strategy well or poorly implemented. One person may see a seemingly random organization of melted metal, while you see an abstract circuit design.

But when I am in the real world with sensory stimulation that requires little to no concentration, sometimes I can feel like I am completely in a different world. If I am sitting on a couch listening to good music with nothing else in the room to grab my attention, I can be in a completely different fantasy world in my head. A passer-by will see a guy sitting on a couch nodding his head while staring at the floor.

There are also other situations in which you can feel almost completely removed from reality. One such situation for me is when I am hacking. I am completely concentrated on my command prompt or other related interface. My virtual sense of where I am almost overtakes my other senses. My sense of sight is little more than a tool to transfer information from this other experience to the real-world experience.

In essence, I sometimes have the feeling that I am in more than one place, or experience if we’d like to use the popular word of this moment, in a given day. My experience hacking can be completely separated from my sensory overload in the real world that is a walk down a city street.

Taking off my belt

Why is it such a social no-no to take off your belt in public?

Courtesy in the Tech World

For a while, I have been trying to get into chatting on IRC. Let’s just say it’s not working too well so far. My main problem with it is that you can literally have a chat room with 100 people in it, and NO ONE will be chatting. What the hell is the point in this?

Anyway, so last night I went into the #freebsd room on the server. I asked a question “Is anyone in here familiar using snort?” I got a response “I prefer to use a tissue.” OK, funny enough. But I wanted to assure them that I actually had a question. So I said “No, seriously, I am trying to educate myself on security tools. Should I be starting with tcpdump?” Then, the conversation proceeded to play off of the “dump” part of my question. I never did receive a response, not even a “I think you’re asking that question in the wrong room.”

Why are people in the tech community so often hesitant to be helpful? I find this lack of cooperation to be extremely frustrating. I believe it is also quite harmful to the community.

A rough idea: Open Education

Something I have noticed about myself has given me an idea about an alternate form of education. What if you were given a large amount of resources such as access to books, classes, professors, and TAs and you were judged on your worthiness for a degree at a point of your and your adviser’s determining? So basically, you would decide what to study at all times. You could go to a lecture for two weeks, get what you want from it, and put what you have learned towards something else. You could do independent research and learning, and possibly go to professors and TAs to help you understand something or to guide you in the right direction.

I find that I learn best when I find something that sounds interesting and just see where it takes me. A lot of times I will find myself holding back on learning something that I want to learn because I know I have “classwork” to do. And the classwork is not particularly interesting so a one-hour assignment might take me four hours since I am constantly procrastinating. I am sure this idea has a lot of flaws, but I am just throwing it out there.


I remember the good old highschool days. I remember relishing in the fact that I was happy almost all the time. Life was good (for a time). What has happened since then? I have turned into a person that struggles daily with a quest to acheive happiness.

I think there are several contributing factors. But, the scary thing is that I only think I know how to help myself. I have to test out my hypothesis to know for sure. Welcome to the experiment called my life.

Another night at work

Well at least it is slow here at work tonight, as it should be. I don’t think most people are busy fucking with their servers on a Friday night. And life is good at least at this moment. I’ve got my favorite DJ playing on my new headphones, and I’ve got it broadcasting on my radio station, which no one besides my cousin Mark listens to. But that is fine by me. It is fun even having only one person besides myself enjoy my music.

That brings me to the next subject. I have recently found a program called psycle that lets you create electronic music. I guess one might call it a synthesizer. (Sorry for my lack of music knowledge, I have almost no real educational experience in music.) It seems complex to get good at, but easy to at least get started with.

So the night begins . . .

got my new blog set up

So I got tired of waiting for myself to write the custom blog software I had always meant to write. Well I did start on it and get a decent amount of code written at one point. But it was in CGI and, being the perfectionist that I am, I had decided that I was going to rewrite the whole thing in PHP. I had seen wordpress in action a couple of times, and it looked pretty nice. So, as you can see, I went ahead and downloaded it and installed it. At first, I was thinking “This is really nice, but there are still some basic features I want to implement, like nested categories.” Well, they done implemented them.

So now I figure that since wordpress is released under the GPL, maybe I can just help out and add/improve features on this software.

I suppose that’s all for now.