Friday, March 30, 2007

Nerd

I just installed Quicksilver on my machine last night. I am just getting into it, but it appears to be teh bomb.


Really, TEH BOMB.

Once I clicked the right plug-in and watched it go, I actually called it "sexy."
I don't say that about a lot of software.

Mac-only, this seems to be a new necessity.

Yays!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Parents!

My folks were born two days apart. March 24 and 26, some, uhhh, several years ago.

We decided to take them to a nice dinner, at a wonderful restaurant, so I made reservations at Amber, which is really nice, and the food is good, and all of that. Very parents'-birthday appropriate. Except that there is absolutely nothing appropriate about Santana Row.

We should have had plenty of time, but it took like 20 minutes to get to the strip mall (yes, San Jose, that is still a strip mall!) from the freeway, which is only like 3 blocks. It occured to me that this is what car people experience as the norm? I have no idea how they have the patience for it.
Once in the faux-urban strip mall, we spent another 30 minutes going up, and then down the two or three levels of the parking garage, not even to the top because I declared it bullshit, and proclaimed that there wouldn't be parking there either. Then "let's just valet the damned thing!"
But the valet was full.
Thankfully, we went in the Prius, so we felt quite smug that as we sat through stop and go traffic, we weren't burning gas. Smugness trumps all!

And then gave up on Amber.
Santana Row can rot to hell, for all I care. What a dump. I declare it Disneyland's bad vision of a city. I live in a city, I know what it looks like. There's less traffic, for one thing.

And found ourselves, for our fancy occasion with our dearly-honored parents, at... the Elephant Bar! (well, at least it wasn't Denny's)
We did get candles in their desserts and sing to them. Does that make it better?

Sorry, parents, you deserve much better. I had no idea that shithole stripmall would be such an attraction to everyone else! It seemed like a good idea when I made the reservations?


Saturday my dad went off to a train party (raucous fun) and so my mother, my sister, my Hott Boyfriend, and I went to Alum Rock Park, where I spent many a day as a child. Alum Rock Park is the place where we had Day Camp and other events as Girl Scouts, visited the park and Youth Science Institute with our elementary schools, probably had a few birthday parties, etc. I spent a lot of time there since my mom was the organizer of several such events and as such, my entire family would be there. My grandfather got poison oak in his eye one year at Girl Scout camp, when he was the leader of the boy's unit. We would put watermelons in the creek to keep them cold for the afternoon. We would keep our old shoes with holes in them and go creekwalking, letting the algea and waterspiders squish around between our legs and toes. At the YSI, we'd visit owls and snakes, and if they had time, they'd gather the kids in a large circle and let a ferret out in the middle for us to see. I remember evacuating a few troops of girls out of the playground at the YSI area once when a mountain lion came down near the playground. And of course the many times we'd stick our heads into the mineral springs and baths to wrinkle our noses and imagine why in the heck some people thought it would be a good idea to drink it or soak in it.

It's a wonderful place, in short. And I hadn't been back as an adult.

We got sandwiches and had a little picnic with a red robin, some blue jays, several squirrels, and some sort of heron or crane. Then we went for a little hike, which turned into a somewhat decent hike when we decided to go up to the South Rim trail. I think it must have been about 3 miles, the first being a switchback ascent, followed by a beautiful view over the canyon and into the San Jose valley. There were many critters, including a lizard which had lost most of its tail, fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillars, a deer, and several birds of prey. The only downer to this trail was the outrageous amount of poison oak. I've never seen so much poison oak, with such healthy leaves. It had completely taken the trail, such that you had to wiggle under and around it to avoid it.

We felt quite pleased with our hike and finished Saturday night at the Rockbottom Brewery, where some waiter insulted me by describing a beer as being IPA-like (it wasn't, it was more like a Belgian) and taking five minutes to warn me how strong it was. What. Ever. Bring me the damn beer, bubba. At some point I started talking about elephants and Paul tried to take my beer away. Feh. Anyway, it was like a poor interpretation of a Belgian, and just really not all that.

We came home and found that my dad's train party had not landed him a night in the slammer, and shared some port and chocolate.

It is so nice to have my sister around now. Where she used to always scurry off after whatever planned activity had brought her, she now gets to hang out and do fun stuff with us, or boring stuff, as it sometimes may be. I really enjoy her company. I'm so happy for her!

Sunday morning we jump started Paul's bike off of mine and made it back to Berkeley just in time to meet up with Paul's mom for breakfast (breakfast #2 at this point) She had to hurry off to prepare for some great adventure. So we took advantage of the afternoon to hike down to "downtown" Berkeley. Fortunately, there is a restaurant called "Downtown" there so you know when you're "downtown." After some beer and Irish food (?) at Becketts, we finally saw Pan's Labrynth before heading home. Dark movie. I enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, Monday had to come, and ruin everything. Feh.

This coming weekend, we will probably go to the hillclimbs at Carnegie. Dusty Beers!

Friday, March 23, 2007

ooh! Microsoft finally did something I like!

This asirra thingie is for determining if a user is human. It involves cute doggies and kitties, and you can even find out how to adopt them while you are at it!


Did I mention CUTE DOGGIES AND KITTIES?!?!

I often fail at those "are you human" tests myself, where they ask you to type in the letters and numbers you see, but they are skewed, and I screw it up like 25% of the time.

Cool!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No Backsies!

WTF, is this 4th Grade?

Fielding said the two would speak to lawmakers in private and not under oath. He indicated he was not prepared to negotiate in the matter.


So the sticking point is that Bushco demands they not be under oath?!?!
So, what, they can just cross their fingers behind their backs?

Isn't requesting that something said not be "under oath" pretty much the same as saying beforehand that you plan to lie through your teeth?

I mean, not that anyone in this administration would ever do that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Renters are Coming! Hide Yer Wimmins!

More stupid people!

The couple bought in 2002, as the boom was beginning. At its peak, the house was worth more than three times what they paid for it. But they refinanced and took cash out to do upgrades on the house, and then they refinanced again because — well, Quinlan isn't sure why.

She's learned this about lenders and loan agents: "They make it look like they are trying to do all this for you, but the reality is that it was mainly for them. They got their chunks out of you, and then they put you out to the wolves."


now I understand why we should bail these "homeowners" out-- how were they to know that nice loan shark was out to make money off of them? He seemed like such a nice guy! You mean he wasn't really just cold-calling because he cared about my self interests?!?! You mean *I* was supposed to read those forms, that, um, well, *I* signed?!?!

Wait, this gets better:
At the top of his street, next to the charred shell of a house that mysteriously burned a few months ago, is a house for sale. The house immediately next door is on the market too. A few doors away from De Leon's home in the other direction is a third house looking for a buyer. Some owners are trying to rent their places out, advertising with little signs on the front lawn.

De Leon fears what will become of his neighborhood if it becomes dominated by renters.

"You get people who don't care about the neighborhood and don't take pride in it," he says.

He's hardly alone in that view.

"If people start to rent, that's when you start to worry," says De Leon's next-door neighbor, Jose Serrano.

Serrano, 34, grew up in Long Beach. He saw friends die in Long Beach. He still commutes there every day to work on the docks for Toyota Motor Corp. It's an hour in the morning and two hours coming home, a grind he suffers for the sake of his three young kids.


Oh, so the following people are good for the neighborhood:
  • People who commit mortgage fraud (Not enough income? Just "State" it!3)
  • Gamblers (I'll take out the most loan I can't really even afford, since this house will triple in value in two years!)
  • People so totally irresponsible that they lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity
  • People who "mysteriously" burn their house down
  • People who forsake time with their kids for the ability to "own" their homes. (3 hours/day is 750 hours/year! 31 days you could have spent some other way?)
  • People who don't repay debts ("you are in default")
  • People who rent money from the bank to "own" homes.

The following people are BAD for the neighborhood:
  • People who rent houses from people

Keep an eye out for those bastards. Once they start moving in... there goes the neighborhood!

Worst. President. Ever.

Instead, Sampson wrote, "we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys -- the underperforming ones. ... The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc."


I know, they haven't named Bush in this, and they probably never will. This administration always has a fall guy to blame and fire. Bush never does anything. Somehow he just sits in the middle of all of these scandals (real, constitution-abuse scandals) and shrugs. It was someone else on his staff, never him. Are they so totally out of his control? Is he that clueless? No, he's either at the center of all of this, or he's a puppet in a way I can't even imagine.

Makes me nostalgic for Presidents who get blow jobs and then lie about it. Were we really so upset then? How sweet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

No. Just NO.

U.S. homeowners with subprime mortgages struggling under payments need federal government help to ease them through the crisis, a leading consumer advocacy group said on Wednesday.

EXCUSE ME?!?!?!
So people who saw nothing but greed and financial irresponsibility now are in line for BAILOUTS?

The group, which represents hundreds of low-income housing advocates across the country, said Congress should immediately step in to aid subprime borrowers.

Wait a minute. Two years ago, when these same people stretched themselves out, took out irresponsible loans, and said "housing only goes up," they were not looking to share their profits with the rest of us. Why in the hell are they entitled to shove their losses on us then?

Oh, yeah, it's called "privatize profits, socialize losses."

As I understand it, these same greedy "housing always goes up, I'm making tons of money doing nothing by buying a house" (and by "buying," they really mean "renting money from the bank to live here") are now crying about the downside of their risks? And the gubmint is supposed to bail them out? So WE should pay for their poor gambling mistake? Let me see... so it follows, that if it had gone the other way, and they had made money, they would have happily given that money to the rest of us, right? I mean, they wouldn't ask for us to pay their downside, if they weren't willing to give away their profits too, right?

I will be absolutely outraged if we have to pay for these idiots, and thereby prop up home prices to keep financially responsible people out, by subsidizing the gamblers. I'm offended that it's even up for discussion.

You gamble, you lose, you pay.

Home ownership is something you save for, and do responsibly. In the past few years, it has turned into an "investment" vehicle for the masses who were unwiling to consider the long-term reality and fundamentals. Guess what? "Investments" sometimes go up, and sometimes go down. Don't play if you aren't willing to pay. Now it's time to pay.

Bailing these idiots out punishes the financially responsible, by wasting their taxes and artificially propping up home prices instead of letting them fall to levels in line with fundamentals.

Ugh.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Well, color me shocked!

"The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday."
This is so surprising!
Although, I think the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act stinks so much, that even "legal" use of it is wrong, wrong, wrong, and illegal, in many cases.
"The American Civil Liberties Union said the audit proves Congress must amend the Patriot Act to require judicial approval anytime the FBI wants access to sensitive personal information. "The Attorney General and the FBI are part of the problem and they cannot be trusted to be part of the solution," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director."
I know, the ACLU is so evil. They want a judge to be involved in, you know, making judgement calls and interpreting law. Wait, remind me again what it is judges are for?



Now, this is not tin-foil hat news for me. I sincerely doubt the FBI has spent much time tracking me. If they did, they would be very bored. "she ate pizza for dinner... again?!?!" "Look at this, boss! She bought $26 of groceries today!" (can they tell it's mostly beer?) "she's googled 'fancy pigeons' fifteen times this month! Is it a code for some terrorist cell operation?"

But this is so not OK. Are you all ACLU members yet? Wake up; this is important.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dear Sportbike Rider

It would probably be better if you didn't wear such a puffy jacket, so you can actually see the fact that there is traffic piling up behind you. You know, through those shiny things that are sticking out above your handlebars?

Also, perhaps buying a Hayabusa, just so you could go slow while lanesplitting, was not such a good investment. It would be less embarrassing if you just rode a Hawk, and I could just write you off as someone's nervous girlfriend.

This time: vanity plate "DURBUSA"

You're freaking slow.
And you're an asshole for not checking your mirrors.

Mt. Whitney

need a permit to do this, and this year's permit lottery already happened:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreation/wild/mtwhitney.shtml


It might be possible to pick up dates if there are any left, after April 1st.

Perhaps next year.

anyone?

In honor of my dad

I have no idea what this means:




You're the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Daring, risk-taking, and just the slightest bit dangerous, you
have a bold sense of adventure. Unfortunately, you don't really get an
opportunity to pursue real adventure, so you have to settle for the depths
of your imagination. It's a lively imagination, and one that captivates
countless people around you, but sometimes they tire of waiting for you. On
occasion, you've been known to say "Matterhorn Shmatterhorn".



Take the Trains and Railroads Quiz
at RMI Miniature Railroads.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Final

I just found out that someone I know (though not closely) killed himself over this weekend. I saw him a few weeks ago last, watched him play video games by James' bedside. We spoke quietly. I told him I was sorry to hear his mother had passed away. He said "thank you" under his breath while he kept entertaining James with the video games. Several months ago, he'd tinkered a little with my SV. Many nights we shared a little laugh here and there.

I had no idea that he was in such pain. I suppose no one did.

Sobering evening.

Just feels so FINAL. The words didn't even sound right. I expected to hear "got hit by a car," or, "his dad died," or, well, pretty much anything but those words that weren't meant to go together.

I wish I could all of you close tonight. Near and far, however infrequently we see each other, I love and value all of my friends and acquaintances, and, no, an answer this final and this wrong...

Makes me realize again tonight, how little we each know about the personal hell our loved ones are living in. I hope we can reach out into each other's hearts a little better, to fill the void, and stay afloat together.

Goodnight, J.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Seattle

This past weekend, Paul and I went up to Seattle to visit Maggie. My new neice is cute, I guess, but babies of this age aren't all that fun. I was sick, so I didn't, like hold the baby or anything. Mostly she just screamed and pooped and slept. I should have waited a few months if I wanted something more entertaining. Babies don't get interesting until they are a few months older, when they can actually interact. For now, she is a pooping and screaming machine, and she keeps Ben and Megan busy. They are quite possibly the most responsible and engaged parents I've ever seen.

So while they changed, bathed, fed, rocked, and gave bourbon to Maggie (just kidding about the last one, sort of), Paul and I walked around their new neighborhood a bit, and by around, I mean, straight to the pub, and then straight to the cupcake shop.

We screwed around with the cat, G, who is really a dog in kitty clothes.

We drank the beer, lots of it.

I felt a little better just in time to fly home. I just hope I did not get baby or parents sick.