Monday, December 19, 2005

The best multiple choice test I ever took


Once a month at work, we invite our affiliates to join us for some type of interaction. This evening, with the holidays just around the corner, was a more relaxing event and we spent the bulk of the time tasting chocolate thanks to a fair trade-focused group called Chocolate Dividends. The founder guided us through a blind, bracketed, taste-test competition of eight dark chocolates and eight milk chocolates. Two chocolates would compete again each other and slowly but surely, the winner, Organic Swiss Dark Chocolate from Whole Foods, emerged victorious above the rest.

As an added treat, there were also nibs to try out.

Chocolate Dividends is but a month old...but I think they will find many friend here in the Bay Area. If you would like to organize a tasting for your own company/organization, give them a shout!

Holiday Party 2005

Last night, my company had its annual holiday party at the Hiller Aviation Museum next to the San Carlos Airport. This was my first trip to the museum and the place was filled with more planes/helicopters than I expected. Very educational and for a info-geek like me, I was quite happy. No less than three people asked me to be more social (I was off in various corners reading placards. :-)

They have the front end of a 747 outside and you can go inside, sit in first class and watch a movie (we were playing Top Gun during the party). You can also go upstairs and check out the cockpit: sit down and grab the controls, flip the levers, push the pedals and adjust toggles as long as you want. Inside the museum, there were several interactive areas where you could fly a virtual helicopter or a virtual plane or watch how planes take off and land.

The food was buffet-style and we were treated to a chocolate fondue fountain for dessert (I'm told that these are pretty popular at Crate & Barrel this year, which means if you buy one, you'll use it once and then put it in storage for 20 years. From time to time, you'll think about it, wish that you used it more, but it will stay in the same place. Guaranteed!)

We had a raffle drawing and oddly, one family won 43% of the prizes. Note to Alex...you still owe me $20 for fixing the raffle for you! ;-)

All in all...a good evening. I would recommend going to the Museum if you get a chance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The fine *art* of pleasing a woman...teach yourself via a videogame!

My colleague at work, David Pescovitz, posted this little story on Boingboing today.

For those who don't know what they are doing in the sack, this can help as a guide...






From a CanWest News Service article: The more (players) stimulate the bunny, the happier he becomes until eventually he begins flying through the air. But Lapis is also an unpredictable creature who needs a variety of sensations. Sometimes, no amount of stimulation is going to work.


I'll give it a try tonight and report back later. ;-)

[Update: I couldn't get the software to work...wonder what that says about my skills?]

Monday, December 05, 2005

Orange Bowl Bound!

It's a done deal...Penn State is headed to the Orange Bowl! I'll be there with some of my friends...from Dec 30th to Jan 4th. Not sure where we'll be on New Year's Eve (Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach or the Everglades), but plan on meeting up with many old pals.

Also, here's a good PSU Sports Blog & not suprisingly, Penn State's is the most popular of all of them!

See ya in Miami!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Some sound advice for the future...

You know it is coming: the day when your loyal robo-pet turns on you and feasts his laser-breathing eyes on your bad self. For those out there who wish to be prepared and fight the Robot, you best buy the book How to Survive a Robot Uprising.

I'm sure some of you are thinking, "That will NEVER happen!" Well, what happens when your Mechanical Death Spider turns on you, huh? Yeah...that's what I thought. Read the book!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A new ski conditions website is online

Skibonk is using Google Maps to show ski conditions, open runs/lifts, snow base and other assorted resort information. Check it out!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Camping at Pinnacles this weekend

I'm going camping with my friends to Pinnacles National Monument this weekend. Last time we went there (2 years ago...same time of the year), we hiked to some caves on Saturday and hiked the peaks/gorges on Sunday and spent the nights eating/drinking, enjoying the campfire, chasing raccoons and spotting wild boars. There should be some stories and pictures to share next week.

[Update] Great trip! We saw 6 California Condors perched on top of the Pinnacles during our Saturday hike, with 3 of them soaring above us at one time. The weather could not have been better for November...clear blue skies, highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. As usual, the gang enjoyed themselves...eating/drinking/being merry.

Here are some pics of the trip...thanks Donna & Bryce!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Spending mid-week in Monterey

I'm spending a couple of days in Monterey for one of our health conferences. I arrived last night at the hotel and spent some time enjoying the Tuesday nightlife with a couple of friends who live in the next town over. Today, the conference started and our meeting room is adjacent to Monterey Bay. The doors have been open all day and even though it's been raining on and off, it is still a great place to host an event. Nice to hear the barking of sea lions, the cries of seabirds and the rolling of the waves waft in during the presentations. We are on a break right now...the cocktail party starts at 5pm, followed by dinner. Not sure when I'll get to bed...but LOST (yes, I'm an addict) starts at 9pm.

The last time I stayed at a beachside resort was for a conference in Huatulco, Mexico, years ago (1998?). It was too hot while there, but an excuse to have the employer at the time pay for my first jungle golf adventure (lost 24 balls in the round), go scuba-diving for the first time and eat tons of octupus cooked in a myriad of ways.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Slowly creeping up there

We are #5 and a full month of big games are left to be played. We only have one game left and if we win, we will just have to sit out and wait for the fun (USC/UCLA, Auburn/Alabama, LSU/Alabama, and the SEC, ACC and Big 12 Championships) to unfold. We may squeak on into the National Championship game if all goes well! Though the ticket prices sure are frustrating...

E-Mail Time Capsule

Seen on Boing Boing: Forbes.com is allowing people to send an email to themselves in 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 years. Seems like an interesting idea. I only see one problem: will you still be using the same address then? Mine has changed (hotmail -> yahoo -> gmail) every few years due to spam. So far so good with gmail...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Christmas in Vegas

It's almost that time of year: my yearly late December flight to Vegas to see my family. My brother and his family have lived there for about 10 years now and that is the most convenient (re: no bad weather there) place for all of us to meet.

Our activities typically include: visiting an Xmas village to see lights and ride a train, going to one of the big hotels for a big buffet lunch and watching my niece and nephew tire themselves of opening all the presents that they get.

A story from last year. We were on our way to see the Xmas lights and my niece started to tell me a joke:
Her: Uncle Sean, knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Her: Ambulance. [An ambulance with lights/sirens had just passed by.]
Me: Ambulance who?
Her: Someone died. [Who who...ha ha!!!! she laughed.]

A future in comedy may not be in her career path...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What city influences you?

This is a nifty experiment being conducted by The Commoncensus Map Project. You answer a few short questions and a map is created that shows the influence of an urban area...which city does one have the most affinity to. They are also doing it with sporting teams. No word yet on NCAA football (supposed to be displayed today)...looking forward to how big of a footprint Penn State has.

One oddity to me in the map is right smack in the middle. People from Sioux Falls are culturally attracted to Omaha. Those in central South Dakota are attracted to Sioux Falls. I guess, for those in Pierre, they would go to Sioux Falls for a good time...and those in in Sioux Falls would go to Omaha. Maybe the map will shift once more people participate.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

We're back!

WOW! I was late getting to the bar to watch the game, but we are definitely back! The energy of my fellow alums reminded me of the old days. Here's a great SI.com article on the rejuvenation of the program.

UPDATE: We are now ranked #8 in the nation! Nice story here.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Saturday

On Saturday, a friend rented a sailboat (see picture...Radiance) for the day and invited others (including me) to join him. This is the second time that I've been out with him this summer. The day was perfect...sunny, warm, a little slow on the wind-side, but that picked up later in the day. We left from the Alameda Marina, headed North and around the time we hit the Bay Bridge, the wind picked up and we were able to actually get some real speed. We found our way to Tiburon, found a berth (woohoo!) next to Sam's, were seated right away and had some drinks/appetizers. We made it back about an hour after sunset.

After that, I headed over to another friend's house for some dinner. He lives high up in an apartment that overlooks the Bay/Alcatraz and just as I arrived watched a fireworks performance that was taking place somewhere around Fisherman's Wharf. Not sure what was going on there, but we were all happy for them. Then it was time for some George Foreman grilled lamb and wine...yum yum yum! Not a bad Saturday, huh?

Friday, September 16, 2005

A cool conference my employer is putting on next month

LIFE IN CONTEXT

Over the last decade, computing has been rapidly diffusing from our desktops into the wider world around us. It has become embedded in our homes, roads, offices, hospitals, factories, and even clothing. Wireless networks are now ubiquitous, keeping us and our smart devices connected no matter where we roam. Meanwhile, new sensing devices are beginning to act as the eyes and ears of these same networks. Taken together, computing, communication, and sensing technologies are now bringing a new level of sentience to our everyday environments—a new kind of context awareness.

This transformation of our environment is proceeding along two very different paths—via top-down design, on one hand, and via bottom–up emergent processes, on the other. Both will create environments that are more proactive in responding to our needs as humans; they will also change the way we function in the world and indeed what we think is humanly possible. Beyond these human-centered trends, the new technologies will mobilize objects, places, and processes into networks of activity and intelligence that have the potential to reshape business practices as well as global economics.

At our Technology Horizons Fall Exchange, we will examine these two paths and their implications for daily lives—and for the creation of value in the form of services, products, and social benefit.

AT THE EXCHANGE YOU WILL …
  • Tour a map of the emerging technologies of context awareness, exploring the two paths of top–down design and bottom–up emergence
  • Hear from pioneers who are innovating in the realm of context-awareness, from enabling technologies to social frameworks and business applications
  • Uncover the special role that pervasive games are playing in the transition to a context-aware future
  • Meet some unexpected citizens of this future who have already begun to redefine the limits of the human body and mind as they participate in this emerging environment
  • Hear from innovators and your peers in other companies about their strategies for capitalizing on context-aware technologies and applications

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Going to LA this weekend

I'm heading to LA this weekend. Spending some time with a college pal...should be pretty relaxing.

Lassen Peak snow

Here's a picture looking from the summit southwest towards the false peak. You can see the snowfield that we crossed to reach the true peak

Climbing Lassen Peak

Over the Labor Day weekend, I went camping with 20 friends to Lassen Volcanic National Park. On Sunday, 12 of us decided to hike to the peak, a 2.2 mile/2000 foot jaunt. Five of us ended up reaching the top in only 70 minutes. This is a picture of our group with a bottle of champagne that I brought up to *celebrate*. After reaching the peak, we played around at the top in the caldera. Then we had a quick snowball fight in the bit of snow that had survived the summer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Only in Palo Alto

On my way to my car from work, I passed by a house with a minature rabbit in front. Not a wild one, but a tame, *house* rabbit. I was able to snatch her up and went to the front door to see if she belonged to whoever lived inside. The man who came to the door said that the rabbit lived across the street and that it was allowed to run around the neighborhood. It enjoyed the greens in his front yard garden. To *protect* the rabbit, the owners have a sign in front of their house that says Rabbit Crossing. So...I dropped her back in the front yard and continued on to my car.

How long before that rabbit gets hit by a car???

Monday, September 12, 2005

My first Cops/Bad Boys experience

On the Friday of Labor Day weekend, I was riding North on I-5 with a friend on my way to a camping trip at Lassen Volcanic National Park. We were traveling behind another friend's car and were minding our own business, cruising along at a nice clip when this small SUV zips on by us. It had a noticeable dent on the passenger side doors and I thought to myself, "well...I know why you got those dents...you drive like a madman".

About 2 or 3 minutes later we saw a police cruiser kicking up rocks and dirt on the median as it pulled onto the highway in front of us (and a tanker truck). It drove down the middle of the two-lane highway and gradually slowed us down to a complete stop...we soon saw why. On the Southbound side, there were 3 cruisers parked, in front of us were several more and police officers were out of their vehicles and approaching that aforementioned SUV. There was a bit of confusion and the officers jumped back into their cars, and drove forward, but only for a few feet and then jumped back out again. I remember seeing two officers with handguns drawn on the suspects and one officer with a shotgun pointing in the same direction. Soon they had the driver out and on the ground, next a passenger and then another passenger got tossed into the ditch on the right side. Within two minutes, they were cuffed and stuffed into a police car and we were directed to move forward.

While this was happening, we were parked behind a rather large gasoline tanker (not too smart), while our friends were several yards back in a more protected location (distance-wise). Not sure what those boys did...but the officers didn't seem too fond of them.

Afterwards, I remembered the part of Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" where he mentions that policemen who are involved in a high speed chase probably should not also apprehend the suspects due to heightened pulse rates and stress that lowers one's ability to think clearly. In this case, the chasers seemed to do the arresting, but nothing bad happened.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Keith Olbermann on Katrina



This is a great editorial on our government's response to Katrina.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Intelligent Design conversations are such a WASTE of time

What is our country coming to? While the rest of the world is advancing their technology base (Go Asia!!!) we have do waste our time having inane conversations with people who are making us look like idiots.

It seems that one of our (America's) biggest problems is lack of education. I think before I would have an intellectual conversation with an ID fanatic, I would want them to read this first.

[Update 1: I love this stamp!] [Update 2: Don't be surprised if some out there think that Intelligent Falling is a serious idea.]

[Update 2: Here's a Dec 19, 2005 New Scientist story with Darwin's fingerprints all over the human genome.]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finally hiked Half Dome

My buddy Michael and I made the journey to Yosemite this past weekend to hike up Half Dome (17 miles & 4,842 vertical feet).

We left on Friday after work and arrived in the Valley a little after 9pm (delayed at the craptastic Iron Door Saloon in Groveland...see my The Iron Door Saloon Sucks! post) and promptly carbo loaded with some beer at the Curry Village Bar. We made it to our beds in our tent cabin (thanks Stan & Judy for letting us crash with ya!) by 11pm. Our tentmates planned on climbing Half Dome, so were up and out the door by 4:30am. Thinking that we weren't gonna go back to sleep, Michael and I decided to get up and hit the trail.

With lunches packed and headlamps on our heads, we left the Curry Village parking lot by 5:30am. We took the John Muir trail up and made it to the top of Nevada Falls a bit after 8pm. After a bunch of pics, we pushed on meandered our way up at a pretty decent pace. By about 10:30 we found ourselves at the hill before the chains. OUCH...what a killer! Luckily, we were there early enough that there wasn't much of a crowd on the trials. After about 20 minutes, we crested the top of this hill and saw the chains before us.

With gloves on hands we scampered up to the top within about 15 minutes...11:20am. Once there, we took a peek at the Yosemite Valley side and then quickly found a flat place to lay down and nap. By 12:15, our time was up and we headed back down...alongside a 72 year-old woman and her family. 72!!! and on top!

We had planned on jogging down (we had done that 2 years earlier down to the Valley from Glacier Point), but the steepness of a good bit of the trail, the crowds and sore feet put a damper on that idea. Still, we made it back to Curry Village by 3:30pm.

How to celebrate? More carbo loading at the bar: pepperoni pizza and some tall 22 oz beers. Within about an hour, we bumped into Judy & Stan and hung out with them for awhile along with a couple that we (all four of us, but on different parts of the trail) met on the trail.

That marks four big hikes that I've done there: valley floor to Yosemite Lookout, valley floor to Glacier Point, Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest. I'm thinking the Tenaya Lake to valley floor (via Clouds Rest) may be a fun one to do. And Michael really wants to try out Tenaya Canyon. Looks like quite an adventure!

Here are the pics from the hike...thanks Michael!

The Iron Door Saloon Sucks

On the way up to Yosemite last Friday, we stopped off at the Iron Door Saloon in Groveland, CA. It's hard to miss on the drive up 120 and we thought it would be a great place to catch a quick burger. Boy were we wrong!

We each ordered a burger and thought that we'd be chowing down in a few minutes and then be back on the road. After about 20 minutes, we started to get antsy...where's our food. When asking the bartender, he replied, "I don't know...I'm just the bartender." We turned around and saw our waitress...good she'll be right over. Wrong! She sat there and chatted with her friends for a good 15 minutes.

When another bartender asked Mike how he was doing and he replied, "Hungry!". She quickly "Now now'd" him. Mike is hungrier than me, so walks over to the waitress and asks if our order was lost; to which she replies, "No, there's lots of people ahead of you" and promptly sits down and chats more with her friends. Okay...decision was made...waitress is NOT getting a tip. About 8 mnutes later, the burgers come. We quickly ate, then waited another 5 minutes for the check to come. I think our tip was $0.32.

If you want to make me happy...never go to this place. They have never head of the word service.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another new toy...


For kicks, I decided to buy a BIG tent.

Details:
  • 18' x 12' or 198 square feet
  • 4 rooms...sleeps 11
  • only 45 pounds!!!
Hoping that it will arrive by Thursday so that I can use it this weekend up at Lassen with my friends.

[Update: It has arrived! Woohoo!!!!]

Monday, August 22, 2005

Going to Yosemite this weekend

Gonna hike Half Dome this weekend...hope to have some stories/pictures to share next week!

Friday, August 12, 2005

I finally used BitTorrent


A friend sent me a link to a "failed" Fox sitcom pilot called Heat Vision & Jack that stars Jack Black as a former astronaut who flew too close to the sun on a mission and now (during daylight hours) knows everthing. A la Night Rider, his trusty sidekick is Heat Vision, a motorcycle played by Owen Wilson. On the run from NASA (they want his brain), he is being trailed by Ron Silver...you know the actor/NASA fugitive chaser. Anyway...here is the BitTorrent link for the 301 MB download. Don't have BitTorrent? You can download it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A new work toy

Yeah...I got a new work toy today...a Sony VGN-S470P.

I've loaded up most of the programs I need for work (and play). Looking forward to running it through some hoops over the next few days, but don't anticipate any problems. Earlier in the evening, I was archiving email, playing music on iTunes and flying around on Google Earth and none of the applications seemed to be affected whatsoever. Nice, huh?

Anyone out there get any new toys lately?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Chris Anderson chats about the Long Tail

On Thursday, I went to a breakfast chat with Wired Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson about the Long Tail.

------------------------------------------

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He is on a book-writing leave from Wired. The Long Tail manuscript is due in mid-September and the book will be out in May 2006. The Long Tail article is the most cited article in Wired's history. He is writing the book on his blog, so if you like to read from your computer, you can skip on buying it. He is working with Stanford and Harvard Business School students to come up with case studies to *bulk up* the book. For now, he will be keeping non-entertainment examples out of the blog (his publisher is making him do this); though he claims to have many examples.

Other notes:
He mentioned that no economists have taken a strong look at his idea.

He sees a rise in micro-celebrities - not famous for 15 minutes, but famous for 15 people
His blog gets 5000 visits a day and he is using the comments and ideas from visitors for imput into his writings (collecting collective wisdom)

# of times Chris said the word notion: 4

Friday, July 08, 2005

Dearest poison oak

Oh how I have missed you. Welcome home. Grrrrr.......

"It feels like 1997 again"

Those were words I heard last night.

Remember 1997 here in the Valley: the scent of money permeated the air with everyone goo-goo ga-ga over the Internet (My stock is worth $2.3 million! Yippee!!!); companies were hosting free parties left and right (Which dot-com do you work for? Ummmmm, yeah....I just joined my third new one this year, I don't remember the name of the new one. CHEERS!); everyone had a 2-year BMW lease; and there were whisperings of the dreaded "bubble" word.

Flash forward to 2005: the scent of money permeates the air with everyone goo-goo ga-ga over real estate (My house is worth $2.3 million! Yippee!!!); companies are hosting free parties (okay, not left and right, but I went to two free drinkfests this week alone); everyone has a 2-year Cingular/RAZR contract; and there is constant talk of the dreaded "bubble" word.

Now a confession: I didn't move to the Bay Area until the summer of 2001, roughly 15 months after the peak of the bubble (When was the peak? I say it was the day before Microstrategy stock fell something like 65% in one day. Remember them?), so I didn't experience much of the exuberance, though I did travel here much for work and play (lots of my college friends had found there way here by then).

Sad things I do remember from the go-go days:
  • a 26-year old Internet marketer traumatized by the quandary of whether to buy the million dollar ski house and make the seismic fixes it needed or tear it down and build anew (her stock tanked before it vested, she never had to make the final decision).
  • rental trucks leaving the valley cost 4 times as they did coming in. (I benefited there.)
  • there was no parking anywhere in the city
Anyway, after hearing those words, I thought for a bit on the drive back home. Is it coming back? My gut says no and my hope is also no. Slow, gradual growth is much, much healthier. I never did care for the egos that the boom generated. And if it does come back, I really hope that people will remember that having money doesn't mean you have to act like a prick.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Notion

A day doesn't go by that I do not hear the word "notion".

At my workplace, its use is rampant..,three times on this morning's team concall alone! (I would bet that at our last conference, it was used well over 50 times during the various lectures.) On NPR, every educated person uses it. At the conference I went to yesterday, it was used four times. I don't seem to recall it being used so much in the past, but like many things, you don't notice them, until you notice them. Enough of my co-workers know this (I've mentioned it to them on numerous occasions) that we have a smile/nod routine whenever we hear it.

The car you are driving, the first week or two that you drove it around, I'll bet you thought that there were hundreds of the same make/model on the road (actually there are, since there really aren't that many different kinds of cars). Something new to us always has a way of heightening our senses of it. "YOU are reading that book, too?"

Different businesses (accounting, consulting, software, etc.) probably all have their "words du jour". What things consistently (annoyingly?) stand out in your life?

[Update] One of our former interns found a phrase that irritates him.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Will you download your brain?

Last week, I finished reading Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau, a Washington Post reporter. It contains various scenarios (heaven, hell, prevail and transcend) that detail how we humans will evolve in the coming decades. I have to agree with most of the reviews that I've read: prevail seems the most likely. In heaven, while downloading your brain & living forever seem interesting, it's just to *sci-fi* to believe. Hell, with its doom and gloom doesn't seem likely either...I have too much confidence in mankind. Prevail, with its fits-and-starts idea of how we will muddle ever onward seems right in step with humans. We are sloppy and dumb at times, but we always seem to figure things out and move forward. Regardless of which way you think we'll go, this makes for a good read.

Now, I'm reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. It contains a series of essays on popular culture. Its a quick read and it shouldn't be too long before I've moved on to my next book.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back from the mountains

My friend Michael is a nature photographer and I was able to mooch my way into joining him this past weekend on a trip east into the mountains. This would be a weekend of many things: camping, backpacking, snowshoeing, and seeing a master at work.

DAY 1 - Friday
We left the Bay Area about 9am and headed East through the pass that goes by Kirkwood. On the way down the east side of the Sierras, we stopped at a waterfall and took some digital pics (I'll add some of those later). We made our way over to 395 and then headed south to Bishop to find out about backcountry access to a few locales. We had wanted to get to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and head to the Patriarch Grove, but that road was closed. We ended up setting up camp at the Grandview Campground (oddly named as there is not a grand view from there) and headed to the Schulman Grove to find a good spot to take some sunset pics. Michael seemed to be happy with the results of that night and we returned to the campground for some dinner. We were the only ones on the mountain...had the whole park to ourselves.

DAY 2 - Saturday
Morning temp: 41. We woke a little before 5am and headed for a new vantage point. We found one and I think he was again happy with the results. Getting one good image makes his day.

Back to camp to nap some and then we headed into Bishop to get some sunglasses for me, though we had to take a detour due to the Mule Days celebration. Next stop...Mammouth Mountain for a snowshoe/backpack trek into the woods. Our goal was Garnet Lake, but due to the amount of snow we've had this year we had to start hiking from Mammoth ski area parking lot instead of Agnew Meadows which added about 3 miles to our trip...too much added distance in fact. We didn't make it to Garnet Lake, but did get a good hike and snowshoe trek: ~8.5 miles. The slope from the valley up into the mountains wore us out. By 7pm we decided to call it a day, set up camp and relax (collapsed in the tent is more like it) as the winds started to pick up (40 mph gusts throughout the night). We stayed in the tent while Michael boiled some water under the fly for our dinner. Sleep came around 10pm.

DAY 3 - Sunday
Morning temp: 38. Dawn came fast and Michael was able to sneak in some pics in between the gusts. We broke camp and hit the trail for the return around 9am. The trek down the mountain was much more relaxing this time, even if my boots were soaking wet. We passed a waterfall and some black & white pictures were taken. At the bottom of the hill, we made our way back through the woods and across the meadows and then back up the long windy hill to the summit and then a slight decline back into Mammoth Resort by 1pm. Once our gear was back in the car, we went over to the resort and had a couple of beers and some r&r on a couple of couches.

Next up...a drive up North to see some more lakes off of 395 and then to Mono Lake. We set up camp nearby under the Mono Craters, hung our socks on a tree and my boots under the tree and then went over to Mono Lake and Michael gave me a tour of the tufa. Back to the campsite, only to see that the winds had blown our tent a few dozen feet away. Time for some reading, snaking and napping. The two days of backpacking wore us out and we ended up not having dinner and fell asleep around 8:30pm.

DAY 4 - Memorial Day
Morning temp: 34. At 4:30am, we woke up and headed back to Mono Lake to get some pictures. We were vehicle #2 there and Michael had warned me about the dueling tripods (there were probably 8 or 9 photographers there at the peak that morning). We jigged and jagged and he finally got a few shots off.

Back to camp we went, had breakfast and packed up and headed to the ghost town of Bodie. At its peak in 1879, Bodie had 10,000 people. Goldmining during the day and drinking and gunfighing at night were the norm back then. Today, less than 5% of the buildings remain standing.

By 10:15am, we left and headed back home, up through the Sonora Pass which had opened up a few days earlier. If you have a chance to drive though there, it is a must go...soaring mountains, deep canyons and some stretches of road that are at a 24% incline.

I got home around 5:30, unpacked are realized that my boots are still under that tree at the Mono Craters. Time to do some shopping...next camping trip is two weekends away!

Here is a link to more photos...thanks Michael!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It's called Fog City for a reason

This morning, I got an early start (for the weekend, that is) to the gym. I dropped a friend off at the airport a little after 10am and was headed for Pacifica. As I pulled off of 280 onto Highway 1, the wind and fog picked up noticeably. At the crest of the hill, I pulled into the left hand lane, ready for my normal swooshing back and forth on the curvy highway. I noticed that the motorcycle in front of me (50 feet and one lane over), did a slight jog to the left and a thought occurred to me: Uh-oh...driving fast, fog is limiting my (and other's) vision...what happens if this motorcylce bit it and I swung to miss, crashed and then got rear-ended again and again by drivers ignorant of the conditions?

No sooner had this thought exited my head that I noticed some cars ahead in my lane that were not moving...and another truck in the right breakdown lane in front of them. The little car in front of me slammed on its brakes and came to a stop behind the van and car that had been in (I presumed) a little mishap. I was able to slide towards the left side of the left lane, just behind the little car in front of me. The motorcycle decided to pull over to the far right behind the truck in the breakdown lane. The car driving behind me slide in between everyone and went through the accident scene unharmed.

Now I had the please of watching the action unfold behind me thru my rear-view window. Cars approached around the curve at 60-70 mph, saw us sitting there and had to decide what to do. The first up was an SUV, driving in my lane, it swerved into the right land (phewww!!! missed me!!!), but then saw the motorcycle and swerved farther. BIG MISTAKE!!! To the right was an earthen embankment and the SUV catapaulted up, did a little pirouette at the top and landed (miraculously) on all 4 tires and slowly edged further, around some trees before coming to a stop behind a guardrail facing the accident. The driver seemed okay, though obviously shaken up.

The initial truck in the brakedown lane decided to put itself into reverse and drive backwards up the hill (to alert others of the accident, I think). Meanwhile, I continue to watch behind me as cars slam on their brakes and guide themselves through the one available lane. I keep hoping for a break in traffic long enough for the little car in front of me (I can't get around it) to make a move and get the hell out of bulls-eye land. Finally it moves forward, though I have to wait as another barrage of autos panic, swerve and slide around us.

Finally, I make it around and drive past the accident. Ahead I see flares...first of the left, then on the right...more slalom driving! A Mustang was smashed up in front of a police car and was about to be towed away. What did it hit? In about a mile I found out...there were two more magled cars that drove off the highway into the local Safeway parking lot and the drivers were speaking with a police officer.

Boy, did I feel lucky! The whole time, all I wanted to do was get around those two cars. I've read too many stories about 40 or 50 car pileups on California highways...and I'd prefer not to be part of the story.

So...now it's time for a little PSA, courtesy of the California DMV:

DRIVING IN THE FOG

The best advice for driving in the fog is DON’T. You should consider postponing your trip until the fog clears. However, if you must drive, then drive slowly and use your low beam headlights. The light from high beams will reflect back and cause glare. Never drive with just your parking or fog lights.

Increase your following distance and be prepared to stop within the space you can see ahead. Avoid crossing or passing lanes of traffic unless absolutely necessary. Listen for traffic you cannot see. Use your wipers and defroster as necessary for best vision.

If the fog becomes so thick that you can barely see, pull completely off the road. Do not continue driving until you can see better. Turn off your lights or someone may see your taillights and drive into you.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Here's a fun artificial intelligence game

From the website 20Q you can play an AI game.

My first pass...I thought frisbee and it need 19 questions to get it correct.
My secon pass...I thought stamp...and in 15 questions, it guessed "sticker". Not too bad!

Try your luck at it!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Haven't written much here lately

Wonder if this (blogging) is like other *fads* of late...like social networking sites (when was the last time you spent more than 5 minutes at one of those?). What do you think...are blogs here to stay? Slowly evolve to something else? Die a slow death?

Friday, April 15, 2005

The age of documentaries

Learned something new yesterday: documentaries are hot hot hot! With Netflix in use in some many households, people are finally taking the *risk* of renting documentaries. With the average price of a rental down to $2 and using the recommendation engine on the site, people are discovering and choosing to rent deliveries. I am one of those people. Of the 35 movies, I have rented so far this year, four have been documentaries (What the #$*! Do We Know!?, Shakleton's Antarctic Adventure, Spellbound, and Control Room), with several more in the queue (Touching the Void, A Touch of Greatness, The Fog of War, Capturing the Friedmans, etc.).

It was mentioned that Netflix has approached the Discovery Channel and other sources of documentaries to feed the hunger for nonfiction cinema. I'm very happy with this trend. Will this new interest be popular enough to overtake the drivel (Survivor, American Idol, and the rest of the reality crap) that permeates the airwaves? I do hope so...

Monday, April 11, 2005

7cm = 2.75 inches, in case you were wondering

Ah...the miracles of modern medicine: "Hey, is that a penis on your arm, or are you just happy to see me?"

The Internet and maps

The Institute is very big on the evolution of the Internet to incorporate mapping into its core: layers and layers of information that will be available to you as you move around in place. Information will be tagged with latitude/longitude/elevation coordinates and you will access content via a device that knows where you are, so your place in space will allow you access to information that is relevant to you at that very moment. Combine these two with search, security/privacy, social networking, content filtering, and presence technology and you have a wonderful new place that we call the GeoWeb. A site I saw last week that shows where we are going is a marriage of Craigslist and Google Maps. This is only the start of the next big wave of innovation. Hope you catch the ride early!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

California Organ Donation Registry

On NPR on Friday morning, there was a conversation about California's new Organ & Tissue Donor Registry. The old model of signing a donor card and putting the pink dot on your license did not put you on any list or Registry. It only takes about 60 seconds to sign up. Hope you will!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Remember playing video games as a kid?

...or maybe you still do. We are starting to do research on pervasive gaming and how it is becoming more and more part of our lives (at least for a good chunk of the population). To assist in that, we are asking people to tell us about their experiences with gaming...so if you got some history to share, please do so! ...and feel free to share the link with all your gamer friends. Thanks!

--

Note...our request made it to the BoingBoing blog.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Back in school I am

The night class that I had originally registered for (Anthropology of Silicon Valley) was cancelled. As a backup, I decided to take Introduction to the Arab World. Since most of us Americans are know to be very ignorant to things that are *foreign*, I thought it would be nice to expand my horizons a bit. It's a 9 week course...and I"m through the first two weeks. I'm taking it for credit, so I have a paper due on the last day. I'm leaning towards writing about the educational system in Saudi Arabia and its impact on Saudi Arabia's future (the study of engineering, medicine and the sciences is very rare...most study religion). If anyone has some nice links for me to check out...send 'em my way!

Week 5 of the gym

Ah...finally...I'm back! Tonight, I passed into the I'm-in-shape zone. How do I know? If you've been there...you know. At the end of the workout, endorphins start to flow and you get that little high. Nice, very nice! I've been averaging about 4 trips to the gym per week...90 minutes each time.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Only in SF...37 years ago

I just finished watching Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, starring Sidney Poittier, Spencer Tracy (his last movie), Katherine Hepburn. I have to say...bravo for this movie having been made back then. There were some great soliloquies, most notably Monsignor Ryan's about how mixed marriages were America's future and Mrs. Prentice's thoughts on old men. Thankfully, Tracy's character comes through in the end with thoughtful remarks on how two people who love one another will be able to stand up to hatred and other challenges.

The sad thing is that even though it was made 37 years ago...people are still hateful, prejudiced and bigots. I know of parents who still think it there place to dictate what their children should and should not do. I think my favorite quote in the movie was when Mr. Poittier tells his father, that he doesn't owe him anything. "You brought me into this world. You are responsible for me. I owe you nothing. And just like you, I will be responsible for my own children."

Children are a parent's responsibility. True. Do your best for them, teach them well and then once they are adults, let them be free to do WHATEVER they want. Your responsibility ends when they leave the nest. It boggles my mind why, to this day, this is still not understood...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's springtime, so that must mean it's...

POISON OAK TIME.

This morning, while putting on my socks, I notice a scratch. Upon closer examination, it has all the signs/symptoms of poison oak. Where did that come from??? Skiing at Heavenly? Walking around downtown Palo Alto. Dammit!!! The only thing I detest about the wilds here is how those oils just seem to jump onto my skin without me knowing it. Okay...done venting.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

You know why hotel shams are multi-colored?

To disguise the stains. Nice, huh?

Luckily, we have people like Barry Sternlicht of Starwood to bring us the wondrous Heavenly Bed. This week, while at the Innovations in Marketing Strategy in SF, Scott Williams, Starwood's Chief Creative Officer, enlighted me with a talk on the Bed Wars and Innovation and Design in a commodity market.

Hotels...all the same, right? We typically choose hotels because of cost (cheap!!!), preferred status (points!!!) or location (the conference is there!!!). Then Barry came along and said, "Hey, I sleep in a nice bed, why can't all of our guests?" And voila, the Heavenly Bed was created: white comforters; high threadcount sheets and big, fluffy pillows. Now when you walk into a Westin, you think: clean, comfortable, HOME!!! Marriott and others quickly said "me too" and the bed wars were launched. Not to be complacent, Starwood asked themselves where else can they look to innovate (with a strong leaning towards design). Answer: Heavenly shower...with a curved shower curtain, protecting raised elbows from touching icky curtains; Heavenly cribs...so your child doesn't have to sleep through a Romanian orphanage experience; and Heavenly Dog Beds...so 27 million travelers with pets can pamper Fido.

So...now it's checkout time and as you close the door you give a fleeting look to your newfound flame. You mention it offhandedly at checkout, "boy, I would sure love to have one of those beds in my home." Well guess what...you CAN! The Heavenly Store sold over 5,000 beds last year. You can buy the whole damn Heavenly line if you desire!

Scott's message: innovation and design are hand-in-hand partners now. We can't escape it. His favorite design and innovation trendsetters: Starbucks, Apple (each new product release = AWESOME!) and Masterlock (a nice segue where we learn that new products positioned Masterlock as a security company, not a lock company, radically altering the size of their potential market from $300MM to Billions). We can have cool, nice things for low prices too...think Target. Design doesn't have to mean expensive.

So, if you are locked into a commodity business with a product that hasn't changed in years...you better start innovating/designing now, cause your competitor is gonna sooner or later.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Making gym memberships part of your health plan

My idea: encourage gym usage by paying people to go to the gym. Who should do this? Your health provider, of course. What better way to ensure that you are healthy and in good shape than to have you at the gym several times a month. Each visit, you make $3...go 3 times a week and you have $36...almost covering the cost of a system wide monthly fee at 24 Hour Fitness (~$46). Cap it at $50 a month. Kaiser and their peers should buy up Bally's, 24 Hour Fitness, Gorilla and others and build them out to more neighborhoods (increasing accessibility) and make sure they have a large day-care center (so moms and dads can go and not worry about the kids). Add nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropracters to the locale and you have all that you need...a real fitness/wellness center. I bet this $600 *investment* far outways the healthcare costs of dealing with unfit people.

I heard a rumor that the city of Monterey pays you $1 for each gym visit...you just sign in and they tally it up at the end of the month and send you a check. I spent a few minutes googling this, but couldn't verify it. But...a good rumor nonetheless.

Next idea: you know those VIP cards that gamblers get in Vegas to track gambling activity? They should put those readers on exercise machines so that you can track your workouts: calories burned, heartrate, progress in matching your exercise plan, etc. Make it interactive, make it fun!

C'mon Kaiser, get proactive!!!

Ships flying kites

This is VERY cool...ships that use kites to save fuel and cruise faster. Wonder what they will do at night, put lights on them? Wouldn't want to fly into a kite while in a plane. OUCH!

Friday, March 04, 2005

DoCoMo's vision of the future

Just came across DoCoMo's Vision 2010 project. The streaming video is about 11 minutes and shows some future technology scenarios. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

We are a BIG-TIME New York ad firm!!!

4pm...sitting at my desk...phone rings:

*me* Hello
*btafg1* [on speaker phone] Yeah...how much do your memberships cost? I'm with an ad firm and we want to give away your memberships?
*me* Could we back up? Who am I talking to?
*btafg1* Look, we are a BIG-TIME New York ad firm, working for a BIG-TIME global telco, working on a promotion to give away predictions about the future.
*btafg2* Yeah [indecipherable mumbling on speaker phone], we want to know how much a thousand memberships costs.
*btafg1* How much are memberships to your website?
*me* I'm sorry...I need to know more about who you are and who you work for. And, who is your client? A telco or the top 1000 Forune companies?
*btafg1* I am not at liberty to disclose who I am or my firm's name. We are a BIG-TIME ad firm, though.
*btafg2* The telco is our client...who we want to be our client. We want to give about a thousand memberships to the Fortune 1000 companies.
*me* You mean get memberships for all of the Fortune 1000?
*btafg1* Yes...how much will that cost?
*me* [I take this time to explain that we are not just a website, how we work, how we market our services and how much our services cost.]
*btafg2* So we can't give away trials to your memberhips?
*me* No, we don't work that way, we don't do trials and we don't give discounts.
*btafg2* Oh...well, we can't afford that.
*btafg1* Yeah...we can't afford that.
*me* Have a great day.

Interesting, no? I'm picturing these two clowns sitting in a 40th floor office scheming about how to pitch their client. What cracked me up most was their usage of the term: BIG-TIME. Now c'mon...if they were really BIG-TIME New York ad guys, what the hell are they doing at 7pm on a Wednesday calling me up. Wouldn't one of their lackeys be doing that? Wouldn't they be chasing some tail at the hip, new bar-of-the-moment in the Village?

By the way:
btafg1 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 1
btafg2 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 2

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The thwarting of innovation over 50 years ago

I just finished watching The Man in the White Suit starring Alec Guinness, in a 1951 movie about the invention of fabric that won't wear out or get dirty. After toiling in various labs, Guiness's character, Sydney Stratton, finally produces the magic polymer and a suit of the material is made for a press conference. The textile mill owners quickly realize that it will be their ruin if such a material is produced and band together with labor to supress the technology by attempting to stop Sydney's idea from becoming public. A chase ensues, leading to a surprise ending. Funny thing: nanotech is making this movie more and more likely.

Nowadays, innovation paranoia isn't as prevalent, though it does exist here and there (Verizon's recent attempts to thwart the city of Philadelphia's efforts to deploy broadband via Wi-Fi is a good example).

The movie leads to thoughts about existent and nascent technologies/services, allowing serious changes to business/profit models:
Lots of companies will lose money, though lots will make money; many people will lose jobs, though many will find new jobs. All I know is that the consumer benefits time and time again. Keep your eye on the future...it's gonna be fun to see what happens!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Obsessions

I woke this morning, unprompted (as usual), at 6:30am. Doesn't matter when I went to bed (was up til 4:30am reading last night), what I had to eat, or what I have to do...I wake up at 6:30am. However, this time, I had a blogging inspiration: obsessions. In particular, I'm interested today in WordNet 2.0's 2nd nounal definition:
obsession: an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone [syn fixation].
Sound familiar? Ah yes...we've all had them.

It being a being a cloudy/ugly holiday, I thought I would reflect on obsessions and my experiences with them.

Let us begin by dividing them up into various categories: self, collecting, digital. And then let us delve into the various precursors for obsession: genetic, boredom (sorry...couldn't find a decent link for this) and culture (yeah, yeah, yeah...this link was gratuitous...what of it?).

Let's walk through a few of my life's obsessions:
  1. Baseball cards (collecting...culture) - In 1978, I collected baseball cards. Not Fleer. Not Donruss. My cards were Topps. I lived and breathed these things. As soon as I had some loose change, or a dollar or two...up the street to the Candy Store I would go to get more. In the end, it all came down to Duane Kuiper...I sent word out that anyone who had Duane would get ALL of my duplicates, triplicates, etc. Meaning...one card was worth another three or four hundred to the lucky finder of Duane's card. I look back now and think: WHAT AN IDIOT. All those cards for Kuiper? At the time...it was the only thing to do. It ended my obsession. I got Kuiper and could rest easy. The cards now rest in my room in my mom's house. Not sure what condition they are in or when I'll ever see them again. Perhaps it is time to send them back into the collecting world for others to obsess over. (Note: I will never forget Duane's name...impossible to do so. Upon moving to the Bay Area, a smile was formed when I found out that he is the local color commentator for Giants broadcasts.)
  2. Exercise/Food (self...culture) - In high school, I was pretty good at the 110-high hurdles. (Thanks for all that coaching Max, wherever you are!) When senior year rolled around, I got off to a lousy start, my times were not as good as I thought that they should be, and I blamed it all on my weight: a whopping 5 pound increase from the year before. I would train at practice, and then come home and stretch and do plyometrics and have a very meager meal. I NEEDED to get better. I was TOO heavy. Luckily, the French Club interrupted the season and while living large in Montreal and Quebec City with my classmates, I gained 7 pounds. Upon my return, the new weight changed everything: the records started to fall again, and I finished the season on a high note. And...I learned that food is fuel, not a foe.
  3. Games (self/digital...boredom) - The summer of '92, I spent at college, working part-time at the HUB and hanging out with friends. Most people were taking classes, so while they were busy studying, I was busy mastering Minesweeper. I HAD to have the best score on all the levels...and once I did, I had to beat that score. I think my records were: 6 seconds, 28 seconds and 62 seconds for the three different levels. It was INSANE how much time I spent playing that idiotic game. Luckily, a project came up that soon became my new compulsion (history project for a club I was in). To this day, I detest playing video games since I see them as such a waste of my time.
  4. Reading (self...boredom) - Sometime, after college, I REALLY began reading for pleasure. I typically jump around from genre to genre, but sometimes, I get hooked on a certain writer and immerse myself in her/his works. The last immersion was Vonnegut. I think I covered about 12 of his books in about three weeks. This isn't necessarily bad, but I have seen it impact my work in the past...staying up really late to finish a book and then being dead tired the next day. These days, I actually wish I had more time to read.
  5. Social Networks (digital...culture) - This is a relatively new phenomena...last 5 years or so. The Bay Area seems to be the hotbed for these networks (either founded or highly popular here): Ryze, Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, Mixermixer, LinkedIn; and now a few new destinations to steal time from my soul: Flickr, Blogger & Bloglines. I have a profile on every social site known to man. It probably didn't hurt knowing some of the founders (helping out their cause), but I definitely went WAY overboard in my dealings with those sites. The upshot...I made tons of friends, so the time can't be seen as a complete waste.
So..now you know some of my life obsessions. Do you have any to share? Are you living any of your own now?

One more reason I love my Alma Mater

In college, I participated in an event (dancing and organization) called the Dance Marathon. It supports the Four Diamonds Fund and is run by the Greeks of Penn State. This year, they did it again by raising over $4.1 million. The increases have generally been on steady uphill climb since the first event in 1973 raised a few thousand dollars. Even during periods of recession, the event generally matched the efforts from the previous year.

Back in the mid-90s the Children's Miracle Network knew a good thing when they saw it and took the idea and have franchised it to several campuses around the country. A few weeks back, while returning to work from lunch, I passed by a couple of canners (kids collecting money) for Stanford's Dance Marathon...their first Marathon. It brought back a wave of memories and money quicly flowed into their can.

Kudos to the kids at Penn State...JOB WELL DONE, again!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Michael Jordan/Wayne Gretzky of Lacrosse

Last night, I had the opportunity to see the San Jose Stealth lose (14-6) to the Colorado Mammoth in a National Lacrosse League match (thanks for the tickets, Joe!). It was the last regular season appearance in San Jose for lacrosse legend Gary Gait. True to form, Gait either scored or assisted on the first three Mammoth goals.

I have to admit, I had a great time at the game.
To describe it quickly...imagine regular outdoor lacrosse played like hockey: it had the back-and-forth quickness of tennis, the in-your-face agressiveness of hockey, the light-up-the-scoreboard scoring of basketball (well...peewee basketball). Perhaps this is why it is the fastest growing high school sport in America.

Based on what I saw last night and what I have read today...this sport is going to grow in popularity over the years. If you get a chance...check it out!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

From Aaliyah to Zulma...

Check out the Name Wizard to see how the popularity of your name has waxed and waned throughout the years. Trends I noticed:
  • If you want your kid to stand out, have her/his name start with an F
  • Vowels...very popular these days
  • No one names their kid Claribel, Madonna or Mortimer anymore
  • Mercedes has been around longer than I thought
  • Boys dominate Q, U, W & X
  • Girls dominate K & Y
  • Pascual has come and gone a couple of times
  • There is only one Cher

Dearest Netflix...why I love thee so

I wanted to see what happened with unreleased movies(Saw and The Motorcycle Diaries) when placed in the #1 & #2 slots of my queue. Would they ship on time? Would they be passed over, due to "Long Wait" or "Very Long Wait"? Nope and Nope.

To my surprise, they shipped the day before they were released and arrived the same day that they could be purchased or rented at Blockbuster. Isn't that nice service!!! Too bad I had plans tonight and didn't have time to watch one of them. Netflix...you got an A for effort today!

Antarctic antics

A co-worker of mine spent a year at the South Pole. At lunch today, he spoke about life down in the land of nothingness:
  • The 300 Degree Club - when temps dip below 100 below, they pump the sauna up to 200 degrees, then jump outside for a quick pic in their shorts (with icicles instantly forming on their bodies) next to the YOU ARE AT THE SOUTH POLE sign. He cl
  • During the summer, when temps reach a balmy 20 below, they race clockwise around the pole for 3 laps...passing time zone to time zone, they quickly go back in time 72 hours...
  • Food is just about the only luxury they have, so late night kitchen snacks include leftover lobster and chocolate eclairs
  • The postman comes just once during the winter...and he just delivers...no outbound mail
  • He was there before that Internet thingy...so he had to pass time by actually *talking* to people....the SAME people...day after day after day. Well...not true exactly, cause winter was just one LONG night.
  • Sleep rhythms adjust to the body's norm: two 4 hour naps separated by 3 hours of wake time.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

To possess or not to possess?

Yes...I did spend the weekend reading. Just finished with Tokyo: A Certain Style by Kyoichi Tsuzuki. In the mid-90s, Tsuzuki spent a couple of years putting together a photo book of low end Tokyo homes: students, artists, musicians and people who need a place to crash from time to time. The result: an inside look into the *real* urban Japan...that of the masses who are not professionals and who do not need material possessions to rule their lives.

It reminded me of my college and just-after-college days, when magazines, books, and music were my major possessions. Furniture and kitchen/laundry appliances were not needed; or if owned, were secondhand. My fraternity had dozens of rooms...some singles, and doubles and a handful of larger group rooms (the Penthouse and Cook's Room). Creativity and sweat equity were constants during each semester's shift in rooms: painting, ripping up/replacing carpets, constructing/deconstructing wet-bars, hanging tapestries. Hours and hours were spent fixing up my room to be just *right*.

In my first move to DC after college, my possessions equaled one carload. Two months later, en route to my new home of Boston, my material wealth had evolved to two carloads. In DC, I slept on the mattress removed from a foldout couch. In Boston, I slept on the floor for a few weeks and then on a doubled-over waffle mattress cover. That soon turned into a futon and then a real-life double mattress. By age 25, I came of age upon purchase of a real-life wooden bed frame.

In 2001, my move across the country forced me to rent a 17' truck to transport my *wealth*: living room/dining room/bedroom furniture, pots/pans, books, shelves, artwork, kitchen items, stereo/TVs/DVDs, sporting gear and lots and lots of clothes and shoes. I quickly moved to a flat in the city with enough closet and storage space to easily (and cleanly) store everything. Three point five years later, I have downsized to renting a room in a house, with several of my possessions either on loan to friends (thanks for helping out!), stored in boxes in the garage, or hastily stowed away (shoved) in the closet or under my bed.

The next move will again require me to rethink what I want and what I don't want. My gut tells me: those who have taken in my goods will end up inheriting what they are sheltering. What I have learned is that I can easily get by in life with much less than I thought I needed years ago. As long as I have some space to sprawl out on the floor, room to entertain a handful of friends, and quick access to what is important to me then life is good.

Confession: I like Dick

While perusing the company library, I stumbled across Philip K. Dick's The man in the High Castle. Dick was a sci-fi author in the 50s and 60s who is now widely known for his work being turned into movies such as: Blade Runner, Total Recall & Minority Report. He spent a long period of his life in San Francisco, so it comes to no surprise that he writes often of the city.

TMITHC takes place in 1962. FDR's assassination led to a serious change of events: the US doesn't enter WWII, allowing the Germans to whoop the Allies and the Japanese to whoop the US; and now America has been divied up by the conquerers. Along the way, those oh-so-lovable Nazis emptied the Mediterranean for farmland, wiped out the blacks and the Jews of the lands they controlled, sent astronauts to the moon and Mars, and take control of the world economy.

In the US, marijuana cigarettes are smoked for pleasure (legally...remember, he's from SF and he wrote this in 1962...wishful thinking on his part), Americana (antique Zippo lighters and Mickey Mouse watches) is desired by rich Japanese collectors, and people are starting to read a book that tells of an alternative world...one where England and the US were the victors of WWII. The book is banned in German controlled areas, but freely read in the Middle West of America and the Pacific States of America.

I am now inspired to add Dick to my writers-I-should-read-more-of list. What do you think...which of his works should I read next?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Using Flickr now...

I started using Flickr today to upload/webitize some photos that have been sitting in my hard drive. Now, I can share them with friends and family. I hope they do the same (hint hint...nudge nudge).

Flickr is a web-based photo-sharing/social website that is growing at about 30% a month. I'm way too knew to the service to fawn over all of the features...but the ones the I like so far:
  • You and others can comment on your photos
  • I can set up groups and watch them in a slideshow (though it seems that the show will only run once, and then prompt you to start it again)
  • In the "Everyone's" section, I can "play" by looking what other people have done with their public photos
  • From the Home page, you are welcomed with various international greetings: Hello, Ni Hao, G'Day, Salut, Ahoy, Namaste, etc.
What cool ways are you using Flickr?

Monday, February 07, 2005

How do you keep track of your blogs?

Now that I'm spending more and more time reading blogs, I decided to organize them with Bloglines, allowing me to instantly see which blogs (RSS feeds) have been updated. Integration with Firefox also lets me add a new feed very quickly. One reason I like it, is it allows me to see how *popular* various blogs are by listing how many subscribers each blog has (I have a whoppin' 2...and 1 of those is me. Whoever you are...thanks!) How do you manage your blogs?

My new toy!


An ARC'TERYX Khamsin 62 Posted by Hello

Who *borrowed* my wallet?

Looks like my wallet was *compromised*. Last week, I noticed that my ATM check card had a $29.99 security software download expense that I didn't make, so I called up and had to file a fraudulent claim. They noticed that my address and the address given didn't match. Today, while going through my AMEX statement, I found another erroneous listing: $475 at the Belmont Enterprise Rent-a-Car. This time, they noticed that the card was keyed in rather than swiped. Hmmmmmm...something smells fishy here!!!

So, looks like someone/somewhere went through my wallet and copied numbers down from my cards. Very cool!!!! Now I am wracking my brain, trying to figure out what happened. So...who *borrowed* my wallet?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Are you a geek or not?

If you can understand this, then you are...

A drive through the Central Coast

Just got home from watching Sideways at the artsy theater near work. Glad I finally saw it before the Oscars. Next week, I'll See Ray, so the only Best Film nominee that I will not have seen by then will be Finding Neverland. Having seen three of the five, my vote would go to Million Dollar Baby.

My (limited) thoughts:
* An actor friend of mine is getting married soon as well. Thank God (wait, I'm agnostic...) he's loyal and honorable, or I'd have to kick his ass.

[NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN SIDEWAYS...DO NOT READ BEYOND HERE]

* Thomas Haden Church (Miles)...when I detest someone in a movie...I know they did well.
* There is a scene where Paul Giamatti (Jack) and Virginia Madsen (Maya) are discussing why they like wine late at night on a porch. As Jack describes his love of pinot, you realize how lonely and sad he is. Lost in life and loved by none. Though as Maya describes why she loves wine, Jack sorta wakes up and gets a glimmer in life in him.
* Usually, I am mostly disappointed in endings. Not here folks (knock knock, fade to black...)...and I called it! Love when I do that!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

My boss got mugged!!! - (REVISITED)

The wallet was found...all is good now. We still need to be more cautious in our new environs.

Plastic-tube beasts wandering around on beaches

I was directed to this cool page today - strandbeest - once there...click on the word film below the first image and view the various films on Theo Jansen's work.
Since about ten years Theo Jansen is occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic matierial of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.
Can you picture these walking around the playa at BM?

Update - here's an article on Theo.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

My boss got mugged!!!

It had to happen eventually. We recently moved our office from up on the hill, nuzzled amongst beautiful redwood trees, 2 story buildings housing venture capitalists and darting squirrels, down to the evil, dark metropolis of downtown Palo Alto.

While coming back from lunch, some kids accidentally bump into my boss, apologize and move on. She arrives on our floor and states very quickly, "my wallet was stolen...I think someone stole my wallet." She checks her backpack and sure enough...the wallet is missing. We ask if she remembers what they look like and where they ran off to...her response...they are right around the corner.

Three of us jump to action (okay...we put on coats and one of us had to slip some shoes back on) and head down the back steps in search of the culprits. We circle the block...no hoodlums in sight. Next, we decided to check out Blockbuster (hey...where else would they run to, right?). While walking in, this annoying girl shoves something in our face, spouting off about "top 20 this or that" and is very loud and obnoxious. We move past her look around, exit and go up the alley behind our office and still nothing...no hoodlums. Oddly enough, loud girl circled around the other way and is back this time yelling more and with her friends. I mention that we went looking for hoodlums and all we find are stupid gypsies (they looked like, dressed like, and sounded like them).

While heading back up the stairs, gypsy-girl mentions to my co-worker that he has a nice shirt...where can she get one for her boyfriend? Reply: in the Haight in SF. Response: that's too far for me to go. We continue back up the stairs. In the office, we see that the cops have arrived and our interviewing my boss; and within 5 minutes, they apprehend the 3 that did the deed...yep, you guessed it...the gypsies.

Unfortunately, her wallet was not recovered. What we learned today: be careful in the *big* city and stay away from gypsies...