Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Gaping Maw

I find this inexplicably pleasing
Oh, dear, I meant to publish this a montha ago. Ugh, well, I will not edit it, but here it is...





Oh!
I forgot.

The move is complete. We live in Mountain View now. I know!

It is the suburbs. I am not a suburbanite. But, the commute will be much nicer, and of all the places in the south bay/peninsula hell, this is the most tolerable spot.

I can take the train to work, as the station is a mere block away.

Taking the train is very satisfying.


1.) The Train
We live a block from the Caltrain station, and I now take the train to work most every day.
I love riding the train. Trains make me happy; they remind me of my dad, they feel so urban, so efficient, so... travel-ish. I lovefeeling the ground shake as the express trains barge through the San Carlos station without even slowing down. and they go fast! Isuppose this is why all those idiots keep getting hit-- they underestimate the speed of the train in their poor last calculations. As a kid, it seems every family vacation in some way involoved trains- riding steam trains through Colorado, visiting model trains and train museums. My Girl Scout troop would ride the train to The City. In Italy, we got lost and found on the train, meeting many charming people along the way. Trains are moving in a way that cars and buses can never be.

2.) the town
We live two or three blocks from the heart of Mountain View.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Endurocross

This year, we returned to Las Vegas to watch Endurocross, which is easily the most exciting motorcycle race in this country.

you haven't been? Well, you are missing out. Really.
and next year there will be races in other cities, so you don't even have to go to the hell that is Las Vegas.




the weather in Las Vegas was nice-- not hot, not cold. Now that I'm not going to Vegas twice a year for work, I actually thought it might be fun. Basically, everything in Las Vegas is an aberration, and a complete and utter ripoff. Casinos want $4 for a bottle of water. Rooms in the resorts are several hundred dollars a night. But? No worries, we stayed at the Imperial Palace.

the Imperial Palace is right across from Caesers on the Strip, but it costs about a third of what the surrounding places do. It's a dump, for sure, and the casino floor is very old-Vegas. Their selling point is their "Dealertainers," card dealers who double as celbrity impersonators. They are truly awful. It was a fun game to try to guess who they were supposed to be, and then wait for them to belt out a number for confirmation. I applaud their acceptance of diversity and color, age, and taste-blind casting. Are you a 50-year old Philipino woman who wants to pretend to be Christina Aguilara, complete with a tight shirt cut all the way down to your navel? No problem! Are you and old blond lady with an inner Lionel Richie? Welcome! The most disturbing thing we saw in the whole trip was actually in the Dealertainer pit, where we saw Faith Hill dealing cards to a woman who very clearly had a strong case of down syndrome. Yikes.

Again, cheap, no bed bugs, and aside from the very loud construction on the next door room early Friday morning, the Imperial Palace was just what we needed.

And? The view:





We wandered around, looking at fishies (Caesers), drinking (buy beer at a store, it's so much cheaper and you can get decent beer, which is not available in the casinos and bars), watching circus freaks (Planet Hollywood), and collecting "escort" cards. We realized that the card passer-outers take delivery of replenishment cards from a guy who goes by on a bicycle. Very efficient!




Here, we discovered the secret source of the porn cards... they grow on porn bushes of course! those guys must have spent all day laboring in the hot sun picking the crops.




Friday night, we went to see a show. We saw Fashionistas, and it was everything you could want from a trashy Las Vegas show. Silly, self-consciously naughty, and with a soundtrack that ranged from Lords of Acid to Led Zeppelin. WTF?


and then? ENDUROCROSS!!!!
Over at the Orleans Arena, we tossed down another six-pack and got noisy in time for the races. Pictures don't really do it justice, but here are a few:








yes, that is a water crossing. And yes, that is a trials bike in the back. One kid from Gilroy on a trials bike beat a bunch of big names on "real" bikes in an early heat.

Unlike road racing, Endurocross is not boring. I know! Really!
Constant action, constant crashing, a lot of passing, and you really don't know what is going to happen until the checkered flag comes down.

If water crossings, tires, and boulders aren't enough stupidity, they upped the ante by running one race in the dark. Srsly! Baja Designs was a sponsor and put one of their headlights on each dirtbike, and each rider had a little helmet light as well. During an early lap, one guy's headligh fell right off, and he continued to finish, and WIN. Just with his teensy helmet light. Basically, he won blind. Awesome.

Video of said dark race:






video

Sunday morning, we went to the Wynn for their ginormous buffet. The line was super long, but we had beer. Then we paid through the nose and stuffed ourselves with food and bottomless champagne before heading out to the airport.


Monday, November 12, 2007

OKAY.
Let's review. If you get hit by a train, it is your fault.
We can assume that the train did not swerve to hit you.
We can assume that it's obvious to, oh, pretty much everyone else, that a train is coming.
We can assume that, especially as a full-grown-adult, you are responsible for knowing that getting hit by a train will *hurt*

SAN FRANCISCO - Nine siblings and step-siblings of a man killed by a commuter train are suing the operator of the commuter rail service for alleged negligence in a wrongful death case, according to documents filed in federal court.

Jorge Guillermo Avila, 58, was running alongside the southbound Caltrain arriving at the San Bruno station when he was struck on July 24, 2005. Avila was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died. Investigators have ruled the San Francisco man's death an accident.

Avila's siblings and step-siblings are seeking $47,079 for medical expenses and $12,319 to cover burial and funeral costs in addition to unspecified damages for loss of love, companionship and solace, according to the lawsuit.

...

The siblings argue that passenger walkways at the San Bruno station were dangerous and defective and allowed pedestrians to walk too close to approaching trains. According to court documents, Avila died due to the negligence of the Caltrain operator, including failure to provide adequate warning signs.



Seriously, WTF, people?

Friday, November 09, 2007



Picture from the Chronicle


This outrages me.

I am not a boat specialist, so maybe someone else can explain to me why the hell freighters are always running into shit and then dumping their oil loads with the slightest puncture in their hulls? Is it necessary to design these things such that the water is separated from 58,000 gallons of oil by a thin sheet of tissue paper?

When I read the initial report, this was a minor incident. A day later, it became clear that that had been absolute bullshit. This is a MASSIVE spill, in a very delicate enclosed marine environment. I just can't believe this is right here in our backyard. Where we have walked on many occasions to observe and enjoy these very birds.

As the past few years we've been making an increasing habit of visiting the marine birds, this depressed me terribly. The Bay had been changing right in front of our eyes-- just in the past few years, the life there had really taken off. It seemed the birds and wildlife had been making a comeback, and then some dipshit with a recent history of running ships aground in the Bay Area runs a freighter into the Bay Bridge? Like it was a tight spot? No one has run into these towers in the 70 years the bridge has been open!

The birds and marine life we have been lucky enough to keep in the Bay Area are so delicate, and so beautiful, and so needed... If we can't design boats better, why the hell are we floating them into such a dense habitat?

Not that I think we couldn't design boats better. I just think no one wants to. Except, maybe the birds want us to?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Old Gold Mountain

As I type this out, I’m on a flight from Denver to Austin, for a training thing at our Austin office. I love traveling, and I like Austin, but right now? I do NOT have time for this.

I’m of course falling behind in my two classes. My Intro to Networking class is well-organized and easy-to follow, but the subject matter is dry, and the text is absolutely terrible. I do the work and the reading, but don’t have the time and drive to really do the background studying and extra effort to really *learn* this stuff. But just having a basic knowledge and vocabulary will be a good start, so I’m glad I’m taking this class.

The Macroeconomics class, on the other had, is a complete mess. The instructor can’t keep anything straight. Now I’m just trying to get through it with a relatively respectable finish.

And?

As of Tuesday, I have an offer letter in hand for my continued employment. This is a huge weight off of my mind, as of course, mergers and acquisitions often mean lost jobs. And, I really need, and really, really like, this job. I’m hoping to stick around for at least a few years, for several reasons, some of which are obvious (vesting things) but more importantly, I have a lot to learn, and this is the first step into a whole new career. Getting to this point was a big challenge, and involved a stroke of amazing luck, and I did not want to try to hit that combination again. And of course, there’s the team, which I adore. So, in short. I love my job, and I get to keep it at least a little while longer.

And?

After 13 wonderful years, I will be moving away from my beloved adopted hometown. It’s not something I expect anyone who lives in the suburbs to understand at all, but a city like San Francisco is more than a place to live and park my stuff, or have my crash-pad. San Francisco is a lead character in my life. Cities, real cities, function in people’s lives in a way that suburbs cannot. We live in them, our memories, attitudes, habits, and needs become interconnected. We compromise for each other. We create and complete each other. Sometimes we are mad at each other, but we work it out, knowing that we belong. Wandering around on Saturday afternoons, the City offers up secrets to its inhabitants, twisted alleys blanketed in trees, tiny parks overlooking the bridge views, neighborhood bars, a beautiful fountain, or a peek into the living room of its other lovers. These are intimate moments with the city you love. And out in the open, in the crowds, the city holds even more. A walk one morning found a Maori dance in Yerba Buena, and a Chinese Dragon dance a few blocks over in Union Square. The traditions! Just now the city is starting to move toward the frenetic Christmas traditions. All the things I know will come to signal my favorite time of the year: the SPCA’s kittens and puppies in the Macy’s window, the amazing animated displays at Saks, a giant tree in the Square will preside over all manner of craft fairs, from the ugly dental office art to the local crafty types fairs. The streets surrounding Union Square will become a throbbing retail mass, while the in the heart, families from all over the world will stop in the square to quietly admire the tree amidst the chaos.

Two weeks ago, I walked through and found there were free swing dancing lessons there. A few weeks before, free movie screenings.

It’s a dichotomy of living amongst the masses, that we are crammed in to each other and yet this mass feels so private. As I push through the hordes, I feel so calm, so private, so anonymous. Never *alone* but definitely with my own emotional space. Watching the sun come up over the Broadway Tunnel on a morning walk through my neighborhood, I see the cars zipping by below, streams of headlights, each with a private story inside. Here we all are together, crammed in, enjoying our solitude.

And now to think of leaving, the history of memories, smells, sights, tastes…

The cable car home from work, up through the fog on Nob Hill as we approached Grace Cathedral.

Sitting with my sketchbook out on the rocks past the cave at the Sutro Baths

The Ferry Building on a sunny weekend morning, feeding the seagulls buttery pastries, then retiring to the park across the street to visit the parakeets

Yakety-Yak coffee house, now gone, where I produced a fashion show, including the night before of getting a stinky Irish art student to completely decorate the walls in a cave-like collage.

The walk home from King Street Garage after stopping off at 2am and breaking up with a boyfriend.

The old Trocadero… the riot police… the shooting… the shows… riding home with a few coworkers afterward to stop in a greasy spoon in the Tenderloin at 4am

The giant rats that used to be at the Powell Street Turnaround area at night

Going cruising through the Tenderloin to check out the hookers, before they swept all the cool ones

Hiking out to the Presidio, drinks in hand

Parades, street fairs, cultural events. All the time, everywhere you look.

The Easter Morning Ride to Mount Tam, well before sunrise, mobs of motorcyclists waiting at their start points to join the fray as we proceed to Marin (the only time I’ll go)

The walk through Alamo Square at night, among the ornate Victorians

Being attacked by a squirrel in the park in the rain, and the quails inching slowly away from us

Following James up the road through the fog to emerge to the Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks lookout

Everything. All the time. And almost all of my memories of the last 13 years.

Sadly, the city couldn’t keep us. Paul’s career is in the South Bay, and mine appears to be there as well, at least for now. The commute was killing him.

Given our different tastes and needs, downtown city life is not going to work for us as a couple, so we’ve found a decent compromise in an area that is at least connected by transit to what I need. The new place is two blocks from a Caltrain station, so I can come back when I want, but also situated very close to our jobs so we’ll be able to enjoy our time and stop wasting so much time and mental energy lanesplitting our combined 150 miles each day. Being near each other will be not only lovely, but convenient, and free us to pursue things we’ve been shoving aside for a long time. I can’t believe I stopped sewing some years ago. But maybe I needed to stop for a while. Somehow the idea of sewing while Paul is nearby seems fantastical to me, like a weird domestic dream I never could have imagined.

The new place is in probably the most walkable city-esque part of the South Bay, next to Caltrain, and with plenty of restaurants and stores nearby, which is an ideal compromise of what we each need.

And I can’t wait, though part of me wishes to prolong my time in my hometown. Now I look forward to many days sitting at home pursuing my hobbies and studies while knowing that Paul is in the room next to me, that we can be nearby and create a new home and new favorites and new memories together. I don’t expect Mountain View to ever be the leading love-interest character that San Francisco was, that’s not what the suburbs are for. But now I’ll have space to be with my real leading love, and time and space to do the things I haven’t been able to do in the past couple of years.

Don’t ever expect me to love the South Bay though. I was raised there, and I know what it’s about. It’s a place to hang your hat, park your cars, and keep your stuff. It’s a place to landscape, shop, and plan your kitchen remodel. None of this interests me. I don’t need to park my car, and I don’t need to have space for a third bedroom, and I don’t need a yard to make my own personal park. I don’t want an Applebee’s; I prefer the worn in seat at Orphan Andy’s where we retired after many a night closing nightclubs. The food was crap, but we always knew we’d get the same cranky but genuine service. I don’t want the options, parking, and service of Home Depot, I just want the hardware store that is too small to carry much, but where I remember putting in my special order for 36 locks keyed alike for my senior collection. They never asked, because it probably wasn’t the weirdest thing they’d been asked that day. I could give a shit about your McMansion with a three-car garage. You wouldn’t need a three-car garage if you didn’t live in a wasteland, and you wouldn’t need all those extra rooms if you didn’t have to fill your life with crap to make up for the lack of substance and culture.

It’s the quiet moments I’ll miss the most. Most people respond to my hometown with “there’s so much going on there” or “I hate it; there’s no place to park.” “Too many people, not enough space” They don’t know that every Tuesday night returning from Mandarin class, raccoons would scurry across my path on Church Street, and they don’t know the glory of Delores Park on a summer weekend. That I can walk 30 minutes and see starfish, an overlook of the bay from a remote bench in a national park, wild parrots (not where you think). Every so often, you let something show, a little flash of ankle: a sunken ship off Ocean Beach, an earthquake shack, a grave hiccupped from your depths (weren’t they all moved?), Lotta’s Fountain, some twisted metal unearthed at Land’s End... Memories of all the great people that loved you. All the memories of my life forming in random places. (will anyone discover them a hundred years from now?) That just there, I broke a boy’s heart, four hundred feet away, mine was broken too. In that grocery aisle, in that intersection. That’s where I decided I would never put up with that shit, ever again. There, I forgave someone smaller than myself. There, I got good news, and behind that corner, I cried…

All this time, I saw our future together, but it isn’t meant to be. Besides, I remember when Willie Brown sold you like a cheap whore. I felt bad for you then, but now it just gets worse. It’s not your fault. Your spirit is still there, but hidden in quiet places the tourists never see. They criticize you because they don’t know you for who you are. You’re right to hide it, keep some for yourself and those who are willing to make the effort. They love you for all the wrong reasons, but you coyly keep something for yourself. Hopefully you’ll keep a little something for me when I come to be with you again. And I hope I will, but we never know where our lives will lead. I couldn’t have guessed this path, and I don’t know yours, but I’ll always carry the Old Gold Mountain with me, and the part of you that is shared by all your many lovers, over the years, over the centuries.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

PMP

I need to pursue professional development programs, ie: PMP Project Management Certification

or other good trainings and certifications


I'm looking for input from someone who has their PMP, about where to start, best paths, good books or classes.

Please to advise.

Whew!

Letter in hand, I still have a job. Mergers and Acquisitions are stressful. As of today, I am on-board! Yays!

I love this job, and want to keep it for a long time!

Ya vote! Y tu?

In Pakistan, they do not get to vote.

Here, we get to vote, but we don't.

That is pretty sad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yesterday morning, I found the rev limiter on the SV. I needed to go, fast, to switch from a stopped lane to a moving one. Drop a gear and go! Fast! Erm, well, I guess there is a limit to that.

Apparently, your bike is not made of unicorn dust, and so it gets to a certain point (oh, I guess about half-past redline, now that you mention it), where this rev-limiter thing kicks in and steals your joy. It feels like a dead spot. Does this mean I need a bigger bike? I thought if I just didn't look at the redline, it wouldn't bother me.

I am totally getting behind on my classes, reading and such. And, on learning and ramping up at work, I feel like I am not absorbing enough. and this is bad. Changes around here make that all the more nerve-racking. Busy, busy, and changes at home too. Lots to do... I head for redline out of habit, will there be a rev-limiter there too? What falls victim to the dead space first, or is it all at once? I don't know. Do I need a bigger bike? Bigger life?

Next few weeks will be hell.

I wish I could just peel the fuck out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apple of My Eye

A few weeks back, I got a Jesusphone. I mean, an iPhone. It is truly Teh Bomb. It fell into my lap through very good fortune, not through my greedy need to buy all things new and wonderful.

Then, Friday, it got wet. Very, very wet. I rode to work in a rainstorm that was much worse than I'd expected, and had not gotten around to re-waterproofing for the wet season. When I got to work, my phone was saying something about "this accessory isn't made to work with your phone, would you like to use airplane mode?" or something o that effect. I was saddened, but had heard that some people who got their palm pilots, etc., wet, had let them dry out on their own and had no problem.

Over the course of the day it got worse. I turned it off but it would turn on and do all manner of psychedelic things before turning off again. It would have nothing to do with me, and ignored my button pushing as well as my please and bargains to take better care of it, if it would just calm down and be my phone again.

By about 2pm, it had crapped out completely, never to be lit up again. :(

I tried rice, I tried low oven heat.

Saturday I went to the Genius Bar (another benefit of living in the middle of it all-- 10 minutes to a genius bar! Which, I was disappointed to find out, does not serve alcohol.) and found that I could get a replacement. I won't go into the gory details, but I returned last night and there was some magic, and I am one happy Macintosh and iPhone user!

Apple is the best.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mommy, where do motorcycles come from?

This is a very informative video for those who wonder how motorcycles are made

Last night I realized something I miss, and cannot get these days.

I miss falling asleep and waking up to the sound of rain through the open window in my apartment.

The past 3 or so years, I have had an exceedingly noisy upstairs neighbor, so I sleep wearing earplugs every night. At Paul's house, I wear earplugs because of the cat.

I miss the sound of the rain.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

riiiiiiiip... BOOM!

There are sonic booms, over my apartment right now, and? They are thrilling.
I know, it is a very, very guilty pleasure, being military and all, but the Blue Angels buzzing my town is an awesome sound.

I have very mixed feelings about it. There are non-military stunt pilots in the airshow too. But I like the whole bit. Sorry.

I just like gas-powered vroomy things. I could definitely do without the rest of the Fleet Week bullshit, but the sound of these planes tearing up the sky, them the BOOM, while in the comfort of my home, is thrilling.

I'm sending more cash to the ACLU this week to make up for this guilty enjoyment of military prowess.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

moody

I am coming up on the midterm time, and am having a tough time with my two online classes. The Networking class is dry but at least organized. I read a lot of stuff and retain like 10%. If it's something I've been hearing tossed around at work, I retain more like 40%.
Economics, on the other hand? The topic is interesting to me (I chose this class for fun) but the teacher is so disorganized, I can't even tell what's going on half the time. Ugh.

Online classes are really hit-or-miss. These are the third and fourth online classes I've taken, and so far the Econ class has been the worst.

It doesn't help that I am so totally stressed out about the rest of my life that I cannot focus on these.

Work is awesome, but I really feel that I have not learned fast enough. I should be doing a lot better by now, and feel like I'm lagging badly on picking up the other product activations. Learning this stuff needs to be top priority for a while, and I feel I have slipped a bit on this. The Networking class helps, but I just need to, like, study every night or something. I get too easily flustered by customers' jargon and yammering about their environments. Mastery of this needs to be a top priority for me for a while. Anyone want to talk mail servers and firewalls? I could really use the practice and learning.

My own personal situation is pretty well at equilibrium, but at any moment, there could be a major job, health, housing change. Right now, all is well. Do I really need to upset the water, just now, when I'm struggling with the learning curve in my new career?

Today does not seem so happy. I have so much to worry about with what *is* in my control. Networks! ISA servers! Firewalls! Connectors! Whatevers!

Monday, October 01, 2007

mom's first text

I got an iPhone on Thursday.
Mom was way jealous.
So mom got an iPhone yesterday.

This is mom doing he first iPhone text message.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Vroom!

We are going to Lodi Cycle Bowl this weekend to watch Clay race.

You want to go to Cycle Bowl?

You have always wanted to go to Cycle Bowl, but never got around to it?

Me too!

Let's all go to Cycle Bowl!!!!!



Weeeeeeee!

(srsly, interested in going? give me a holler. It's an Saturday afternoon/evening thing)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bernanke, you have failed!

"It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve -- nor would it be appropriate -- to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions,"
That was what Bernanke said on August 31st of this year.

Today is the day the Fed sent a notice to specuvestors that it's OK to abuse credit and housing bubbles.

A jubilant Wall Street barreled higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate a larger-than-expected half a percentage point. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 200 points shortly after the Fed announced its move.

Although some investors hoped for a large rate cut, most were betting on a smaller quarter percentage cut in the federal funds rate. The Fed responded to the spreading impact of credit market problems on the rest of the economy, saying, "the tightening of credit conditions has the potential to intensify the housing (market) correction and to restrain economic growth more generally."

The Fed cut the benchmark rate to 4.75 percent after keeping it unchanged for more than a year.



Of course, even Greenspan is admitting that the problem was caused by keeping rates too low, too long. so why drop now? Easy!

"Privatize Profits, Socialize Losses"

On the upside, were all these speculators offering to share their funny money with me? I don't remember it. Now? they want government bailouts, they want the FHA to insure worse loans (and by "FHA" they mean me) they want lower interest rates (which? historically are already way low), they want HELP! Help with their foreclosures. Why? Propping up inflated asset prices is only hurting the economy and American families.

Is it good for America that young families can no longer afford to live somewhere without working several jobs? Is it good for America that our workforce is completely tied down by overpriced houses, unable to relocate to respond to changes in the workforce or their lives, too busy working to improve their skills, too worried about their mortgages to take on new careers or entrepreneurship? Is it so great that people in the Bay Area can't have children because they can't afford the home they are in, let alone a larger one? WHY does everyone think that housing prices going up is such a great thing? a 20% increase in your house price? HOLY CRAP! 20% inflation ought to be alarming, not pleasing!


So? If I lose $1000 in Las Vegas, will you bail me out too?
Because, really? If you do? I'm just going to keep going back to Vegas.

Moral hazard in finance

Financial bail-outs of lending institutions by governments, central banks or other institutions can encourage risky lending in the future, if those that take the risks come to believe that they will not have to carry the full burden of losses. Lending institutions need to take risks by making loans, and usually the most risky loans have the potential for making the highest return. A moral hazard arises if lending institutions believe that they can make risky loans that will pay handsomely if the investment turns out well but they will not have to fully pay for losses if the investment turns out badly. Taxpayers, depositors, other creditors have often had to shoulder at least part of the burden of risky financial decisions made by lending institutions.



If I win, I keep the money! If I lose, ummmm, someone else softens the financial blow, so I sort of win. I like those odds!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bartender? I'll have a Googletini!

well, gentle readers, now it is official: I work for Google.

today.

There is NO WAY that I could have gotten a job at Google. We've all heard the stories about the hoops you have to jump through, and the creative criteria.

Six months ago, I was at a job I hated in a dead-end industry. I made a choice to jump ship, take a completely new direction, and, AND?????

more importantly?

found a friend who believed in me and helped me make the jump. A few friends, actually.

found a boss who was willing to take a gamble

somehow, found a company I love, with coworkers I'm totally inspired by.

Today, we are being eaten by Google. Here's a new chapter in the adventure. I hope to hang on as long as I can, and convince these people that I can be trained, despite my lack of experience with the matter at hand, and that I will be worth it.

Six months ago, to now, is a complete 360. I have so much to be thankful for. Today it's Clay, who helped me immensely with a small effort and gamble.
From now on, I DEMAND that all software upgrades be launched with a campaign like this. Even *I* want to upgrade to DOS 5 after watching this! It has a graphical shell!!!!! ZOMG!!!!!
And dancing elephants.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

feedme!!!

I've added buttons on the right that I think will let you add this blog to a feed reader. Why? Because I don't read things that don't go into a reader any more. I read a lot of feeds. I use google, but mostly because it's convenient. I have no idea if it is better. It works for me, and I do really like the gears bit, where I can download my feeds and read them offline (thought they are usually missing pictures and videos, etc)

I do not know if I did these buttons correctly, though, so let me know if they are borked.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Last night I was reminded of why I will never own a Windows machine. I could forgive bad design if it was just aesthetic; it would be hard to compete with Apple on that front. But bad functional design as well? Nearly catastrophic? No thanks!

I had the nicest time this weekend just being at home. It seems so long since I've just had the time to putter around the house doing some cleaning, sewing, stuff like that. I really missed it. Being at home is good for me; I have so many hobbies left undone. I might even finish a small project instead of leaving it half done for several years.

I cleaned out a bunch of old clothes and made a Goodwill drop-off run with Paul's help. There's some other stuff I still need to unload, but it's harder. Some things are so tied to your image of yourself, or the memory of how hard they were to make or get... I'm trying to find homes for some things, which might make getting rid of them easier.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Birffday


A few weeks back (I am totally behind) I had a birthday! And, since I had not had birthday party goodness for a few years, I demanded a little party. It was also Amy's birthday, so we combined festivities and had a get-together at the Park Chalet. Park Chalet is pretty good, and it was a nice warm day, perfect to enjoy the indoor-outdoor park setting. Park Chalet is at the end of Golden Gate Park, near the windmill.



After nearly losing our table due to lateness, the waitress finally took pity on me and seated our half-party. By this time, I was a few beers in. I then drank some more. Beer! I even had the little taster menu, which was darn cute. The food was good, the company was grand, and, oh, did I mention BEER?











Things get a little blurry in the middle, but afterwards, Jennifer and Paul and I walked out to the beach. There were a lot of bonfires, and the weather was reasonably good. Then we hiked up to the Cliff House and down to the Sutro Baths side. That area has changed quite a bit in the past few years. We woke a hobo up in the cave, and then found that some park authority had "closed" off the opening of the cave on the other side. This is where you access what I deemed my favorite spot in all of San Francisco when I was in college. An excellent judge of my own inebriation, I hopped the new fence but did not attempt the climb to my old spot. Next time.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fluffy Cat



Last night we came home to Berkeley (from the Salt Lake City trip that I will post about later)
to find Squeeky had not been taken away as planned. We walked into the yard to find Squeeky sitting in the middle of the yard mewing, and two metal food bowls on the bricks, for the two nice downstairs kitties.

This perturbed me for many reasons, including that I knew the owner of these two cats wasn't home and hadn't been for days, indeed, had moved out, telling us that the cats would be picked up last Friday to go to her dad's house.

Cat and two bowls were there, but we had a bad feeling about the little cat, since she was nowhere to be found. Last time she came back from the dad's house, she had lost three or four of the few pounds she ever had (at most ten? to start?) and came back with bones sticking out. She'd lost so much weight, she was eating birdseed to feed herself.

Paul and I are the ones most frequently at the house, and as such, we take it upon ourselves to shower the two downstairs cats with love and, when we can, extra food. But the last trip to the dad's house had taken most of Flluffy's weight away.

A telephone call confirmed our fears. Fluffy had been put to sleep. Something about dehydration and a possible urinary tract infection, and possible kidney damage from said dehydration. As much as we loved the little cat, serious neglect from the proper caretakers had hurt her, and she was either too far gone, or deemed not worth the effort.

R.I.P. little kitty. I'm sorry you landed where you did.

Fluffy cat had grown her personality tenfold since I met her. first a shy, skittish ball of fur who was frightened by the sound of her drool hitting the couch, she gradually gained self-confidence finally to the point of slapping and ambushing the other two, much larger cats in the yard. Once, after she'd spent a few days ambushing Fang repeatedly (and she was too small to hurt them, but kept trying), I pulled a cat claw out of her head while petting her in the garage. She turned into a little scrapper! I declared her a bully; Paul called it "sassy," and was charmed by it. Paul was her favorite, and she'd follow him around the yard, "ack"ing. She rarely could squeak out a real "meow," usually just choking out an "ack... gaaak" instead. She was a beautiful soft little kitty, who we will miss. I can't help but feel we failed her.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Countrywide

Anyone else out there who's a housing bubble and crash junkie like myself?

You've probably been following the Countrywide situation... and OMG, and honest-to-goodness run on a bank!

Meanwhile, customers crowded into branches of Countrywide Bank today to withdraw as much as $500,000 at a time because of concerns about the financial problems of the mortgage lender that owns the bank.

Everyone said this couldn't happen, right?
So now the billion dollar question is:
Is Countrywide too big to fail? Will this jackass get a government bailout?

it's ok, real estate always goes up. Just keeping buying, folks!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the "damn, I didn't think he'd be one of the ones to get taken down" news, Craig Hightower died today in Oakland.

OAKLAND - A man was killed Tuesday morning near Chinatown when the motorcycle he was riding was brushed by a SUV causing it to hit a parked car and eject him into a retaining wall, police said.
OK, and seriously, "brushed by a SUV!??!?!!??!!" Cars do not "brush" motorcycles. How a writer and editor allowed this to be printed?!?!? Correction: the SUV driver hit the motorcycle. That kind of bullshit writing makes me really angry.


Craig wasn't a friend of mine, just one of those staples in the Bay Are motorcycling community, in the vein of solid riders you just assume will be riding around into their 90's.

Motorcyclists die all the time (so do car drivers, McDonald's eaters, and skiers, for that matter) and I see a hell of a lot of bad riders out there. I expect it when they go down, and I vacillate between callous and frustrated by their actions and attitudes and impact it has on the rest of us. But there are a lot of riders who I consider to be in it for the long run, more skills, less stupidity, just better, right? When I consider the weight of "motorcycles are dangerous...." comments, I simply group myself with the better riders, the ones who will be going into our old age on our bikes. Some are my friends, others just people I know about. I feel secure(ish) in knowing that there's a sub-set of motorcyclists that the public doesn't consider, and that being a part of that sub-set makes me safer.

But it's not necessarily the case.

There are still hurried SUV drivers trying to "brush" even the good ones. There are moments our minds drift. There are moments when a driver comes up with some maneuver so completely beyond any bizarre or stupid thing we've seen before (and we have seen a lot of bizarre and stupid driver tricks)

And then you're done, extinguished, and in conversations with people who don't know the difference, tossed back into the group of failed squids, as yet another example of why motorcycling is necessarily deadly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

If only I could get a loan to buy more tulips

The Fed is leaving rates where they are today!

Am I worried about the credit crunch and recession? Yes.
Do I recognize that sometimes we have to take our medicine even though it's unpleasant? yes.
Do I feel bad for all the speculators ("homeowners") who will be stretched to or past their limits? Not really.

Rates were too low, too long. We put off reality for a long time with easy funny money. But now it's time to take the medicine. There has been a lot of bad news in the mortgage sector this past week, and credit is tightening everywhere. It may be painful, but it's far past time for this.

Fasten your seatbelts! Tulips do NOT always go up.

Doped up on Dramamine

Saturday night I worked at New Wave City and got in about 2 am. Which meant that I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep when the alarm went off at 6:30 am. No matter! There were BIRDIES and WHALES to go visit! And they would have no lateness.

We got to Fort Mason to meet our boat at about 7:30. I had already taken my Dramamine Less Drowsy an hour before takeoff time, and so at 8 am, we were on our way! With about 40 other people. One of whom was some Marina chicklet (she had not fully grown into a Marina chick, as she was not wearing heels or carrying a large purse) and her boyfriend. She complained about her hair and the ten pounds of makeup she had dutifully applied getting mess up as we made our way out through the bay and into the ocean.

I had worn my entire riding get-up, sans helmet, which, as it turned out, was a very fortunate outfit. Standing on deck gets you really, really wet. And it's cold too, but mostly, wet. Seawater, which is super salty and tastes icky. We stood on the deck most of the time, as sitting inside is more for people who wish to get seasick, which I did not.

We first made our way up along the coast of Marin, never getting close enough that I would have the misfortune of meeting any Marin people. We did come upon some harbor seals in a cove, balancing their fat carefully on tiny rocks. Puppies!

Out at a bouy, we found a bunch of sea lions playing in the water. The picture doesn't do it justice. They were jumping up out of the water over and over, and when they traveled as a pack, they were jumping and propelling themselves they way we imagine dolphins doing, only with less finesse and showiness.

We quickly left the sea lions when someone spotted a whale nearby. And as we chased that whale (not really chased, just trying to get closer), and everyone got to the front right of the boat, I was left on the left side of the boat, and something weird was in the water near our path. At first thought? Dead body. No, wait, too much surface area. Not a whale, too ridgey. Then, holy CRAP! The biggest damn turtle I have ever seen! It's unfortunate that I did not have the camera at this point, because I had a very, very clear shot of this thing. I have never seen a turlte in the wild before, and certainly not on e like this. It must have been about 10 feet long? And was floating near the top of the water nearly directly by where I was standing. Beautiful!

Once the captain saw what we had found, he kind of lost his shit and got on the horn to tell all of the other boats, which all stopped whatever they were doing to rush over to see the Leatherback. Leatherbacks are very rare to sight, and very, very endangered. They will most likely be extinct within the next decade or so. To bad, they are cute. And could probably be saved with some party hat fashion, to warn fishers to get them out of their nets.

After all the other boats had come to see the turtle, and it had become less easy to see anyway, we went back on our way, stopping here and there to see whales. The rest of the people on the boat were starting to get seasick as we headed out to the Farallones, so I thought maybe I'd better take a second dose of Dramomine Less drowsy to make sure I did not get sick. Big mistake! That stuff mess you up! Two days later, and a whole lot of extra sleep hours, and I am just feeling normal again.

The shape of the Faralonnes through the fog emerged slowly around the same time the smell emerged. Nature is stinky, and noisy. As we pulled close to them, the noise of the sea lions and gulls is nearly deafening. The islands are covered, literally, with birds; Cormorants hop up the rock face, murrs are hanging out on the beach, gulls are flying around picking stuff out of the water and carrying it up to the top of the rock (I guess they are nesting up there?)

As we floated away from the Faralonnes, we found the water teeming with jelllyfish. I had also never seen jellyfish in the wild, and to see so many was, frankly, a little much. Somebody should eat them! Like the Leatherback, but unfortunately, he was nowhere near there.

Coming back to the bay was a long trip, and everyone was basically passing out. Trying to keep my eyes open on the way, Paul and I sat in the front of the boat by ourselves and got to see several more whales. Each time we saw some whales, people would rush to the front of the boat and then we couldn't see anymore, nor could I sleep. Bummer. This must be when I got sunburned as well. Fortunately, I was wearing a hat to keep the sun off of my scalp.

Eventually, we came back to the bay, where the water got choppy again, and we saw some porpoises. The porpoises were not all that exciting, because you could barely see them in the water. They were not feeling like putting on a performance for us, apparently.

We got back to dock around 3:30 I think (I was so out of it by this point, I just wanted to nap, and could not be bothered by any more whales) and then headed back to Berkeley, where we took a nap, hobbled to dinner, then returned to bed. We were in bed by 8pm! Monday morning I had to be at work early, but still managed a good 9.5 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, no amount of sleep would cut through the thick cloud of Dramamine, and I was drowsy all day Monday as well.

We went whale watching with sfbaywhalewatching.com and I highly recommend them. they seem to really like what they are doing (there is a lot of cool info and pictures at their website) and they allowed a good deal of flexibility in going to see what we wanted, when we wanted. Good times!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Never Trust a Robot

Paul and I had dinner with his mom last night for Birthday Dinner II.

We ate a ton and polished off a bottle of champagne (mainly Paul's mom and myself)

Paul's mom drilled him about his job. I do this too sometimes, because I worry that Paul isn't all that engaged in his job. I want to him to enjoy work and be challenged! Little did I know how dangerous his robot job could be!


Tonight is Birthday Dinner III.

I'm enjoying relaxing a bit while I'm not in class. I think my two Fall classes start in about a week, so then it's back to a somewhat crazy schedule. For now? Long walks around the City, whale watching, and sitting in the hammock with the cats.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Paul's Birthday, and OMG- Stuffed!

Last night was Paul's birthday, so we went to Indigo for dinner, where we opted for the wine dinner (after 8pm, they'll pour as much wine as you like off of a list of like 12 wines, with a prix fix menu) My food was tasty, but it was too much to eat, so most of the dessert course went uneaten.

Fine, after Google food all day, I'm not all that hungry.
There is a ton of food here now, but I mostly avoid the crap. After the initial few days of wonder, I've toned it down quite a bit. Today is like this so far:
8:30 coffee and oatmeal (organic, maple nut)
10:30 about 1/2 cup of nuts (organic, mostly cashews, but with almonds, walnuts, and those big nuts I don't know the name of)
12:30 LUNCH! snap peas (with some teriyaki sauce), salad, and some really tasty fruit (organic: strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe)


Really, the worst thing is probably the nuts. I shouldn't eat so many. But it could be worse. I mean, just look at what they are tempting us with in the snackroom:








OK, so this is just one of the snack fest areas. There's actually a bigger one upstairs. And every day there is something new. Like yesterday they added an espresso machine. And new cookies. I am declining all of this though. I do appreciate the veggie food though, and the fruit is awesome!


Anywhooo, we enjoyed Paul's birthday dinner and had presents. Paul is impossible to buy things for. What did he get? A new camera? Well, OK, so I'm the one who mostly uses the camera, but whatever. So there's finally a decent camera. Mine sucked and Paul's old one broke last week. So, yay. What else? We are going to look for birds on a whalewatching cruise this Sunday, out by the Farallone Islands. Cool! I don't know why birds go out to watch whales, but I'm not going to argue. Birdies!!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Weekend, with birdies!

Saturday we went to Boulder Creek for a surprise birthday party. There were babies and mojitos with no liquor and some very noisy Bong brothers.

Sunday afternoon, we decided to go for a little walk that turned into a 12 or 13 mile hike. We started with beer (of course) and hiked out toward the Presidio. This took us through some fancy-pants neighborhoods, where the only really good way to piss off your 7 million dollar neighbors is by posting a giant robot out front next to their chateau. Bonus if your giant robot appears anatomically "correct."















Paul stopped to pop some flowers, and then found a house he liked.




























Heading down the Lyon Street steps, we found some great views of the bay and Alcatraz. I found a house with nifty glass and stuff.





At the Presidio, we played on the wartoys and then wandered around a bit looking for lunch. Instead, we found parrots. Laughing at us. No pigikeets these! These were big and green and had a different call than the ones in Berkeley or at the Embarcadero. They were too shy to photograph.





















Out by the water, we found a little marsh that had been reclaimed and set aside for birdies. There were a ton of seabirdies that we hadn't seen before. They were rather noisy, and enjoyed divebombing the pond. Fishing? Or just screwing around?




























We finally got out to Fort Point just as they were closing. We just got to run in to the main interior area as they were telling us to get out. Bummer. But we caught some nice touristy photos at the Fort Point parking lot.



































Then Paul climbed down to the rocks to make the starfishes famous. He apparently forgot that we were close enough to the ocean to get waves, and got splashed a whole bunch.




























On the way back from the Fort, we found this friendly bird of prey. He wanted to play with us, but was too shy to ask. Oh well. Better luck next time, birdie!






The hike home was a bit of a death march, but we did make it back around 7:30, in time to return to Berkeley to visit cats and clean up the birdfeeder (catfeeder?)

Wednesday is Paul's birthday. He is teh bestest.