Thursday, December 23, 2004

Is That Serial or Cereal?

Last night, Dawn and I got into a discussion about mumbling. She does it a lot and it can be frustrating for me. Once upon a time, Dawn would get mad at me for constantly asking her to repeat things, but it really wasn't that I wasn't paying attention or didn't care. If I didn't care what she was saying, I wouldn't ask her to repeat herself, for instance. Anyway, the problem was that she mumbles a lot. Then last night after she mumbled something at me I started trying to recap some of why it's frustrating for me and I said something along the lines of "you do it a lot. there's mumbling, there's drive by mumbling, and there's serial mumbling." This lead to quite a bit of laughing, the kind of easy, happy laughter we haven't had near as much of as we might like or as we often used to. Dawn said she got the drive by mumbling (mumbling something at me as she walks by and out of earshot) but wanted to know whether it was serial like cereal and I said, no, like a serial killer - mumbling something and then mumbling again and again when asked to repeat.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How 'Bout That iPod?

I've had my iPod for almost a week now. I've used it every day and I love it. I love having all of our music on a device I can take to work or use with any of our stereos. On the stereos in the bedroom and living room, we connect it with Y-audio cables (1/8" stereo on one end and an RCA audio pair on the other). For the little boom box in the breakfast nook, I've actually used the cassette adapter - as my friend Duane says, they can't really make a CD adapter because the cord will tend to get wound up. Hah. In the car, we can use the FM transmitter. It's not all that great when there's any kind of interference, so I don't tend to use it much, or haven't yet. I figure on our trip to LA for Christmas we'll use it. I love that I can not only look, when I go to the CD store, at the list of stuff we have, to make sure I don't buy something we already own, but that I can have a text file list of artists or albums I'd like to pick up.

And I can use it for carrying other files around, such as the hysterical fake MasterCard ad where MasterCard collects all the things RedSox fans said they'd pay to have the Sox win the Series... $5000. Motorcycle. Car. House. First-born child (go Sox). And Denis Leary's left nut. Not to mention the Fenway Flasher video, of a woman in the stands right behind the plate talking on a cell phone who flashes her breast a little and then completely while the pitcher pitches. Several friends I've shown it to have been watching the play, strangely enough, and not seen it without it being pointed out to them.

Naturally, being an erstwhile (read "limited budget at present") gadget-head, I have certain ideas about how the iPod and iTunes could be better. Shocking, I know. So, let's see... In no particular order... and I've only been using iTunes with iPod for so long, so I'm sure there'll be more.
  1. It's my bloody music, I should be able to copy it off the iPod with iTunes. I know, I know. DRM. Fuck that. I don't have pirated music on my computer or my iPod. Period. If my home machine gets blitzed, I don't want to have to re-rip 250+ CDs or buy all the stuff I've already bought from iTunes. Now, yes, I can, in fact copy the data off the iPod using it as a hard drive, but it is poorly organized and it would be a major production to get it all sorted out again. Not to mention that wouldn't help me with the playlists, which are becoming more important to me because...
  2. It isn't really all that easy to find a point in a list that contains thousands of entries; I've been listening to all my music in alphabetical order by song (since 10/18 whenever I'm at work, pretty much, and now sometimes when I'm at home). If I want to go to that particular point in the iPod's master list, it will take several minutes to scroll through using the touch wheel. Not that I can think of anything to do about that off the top of my head. The iPod's interface is pretty simple and that means it's going to have some limitations.
  3. The iTunes interface is quite simple and generally very nice, but there are some things that are just really annoying about it's lack of compliance with Windows' keyboard behavior. For example, the context menu key works some times (while editing a field) and not others (with a single song highlighted). It would be nice if I could use that to get to the context menu so I can bring up Get Info for the song that's currently highlighted. Oh, and this one is classic - say you're going to highlight a bunch of songs using the keyboard. You find the first one, hold the shift key and use the down arrow to go down several songs. But wait, you went one further than you meant, so you hit the up arrow thinking it will un-select the one you picked by accident. Nope. Guess again. What it actually does is to leave all the songs selected, including the last one that you don't want, and then add in the one that sits before the one you started with! Huh?
  4. Oh, and going back to #1, the iPod should really synch both directions with iTunes. That is, I should be able to say the iPod is the master and my two computers are the slaves. If I am at work and buy a song and add it to the iPod, I want it copied automatically to my home computer the next time I hook up there. And if I change a playlist or the name or info for a song, I want the change to propagate among the three sources as necessary until they are all the same. I mean, even if I'm manually managing lists, if I grab the whole library and throw it on the iPod, it shouldn't duplicate anything that's already there!
  5. There was a #5 I was just thinking of, but it's late and I can't think of it now...
OK, I just noticed that you can hit ^I to get to the Get Info screen, but it would still be nice if the context menu worked the way it is supposed to. The home and end keys don't really work the way I would expect either with or with out control, shift, or control-shift. I don't feel like figuring out what they do or which do nothing right now. The just oughta do something sensible like jump to the top or bottom of the list the way other Windows applications do.

As for the problem of trying to get songs out of the iPod onto a computer, there are various packages available, such as iPodRip. iPodRip isn't all that great, but it's working at the moment. I'm going to have to look around some more and see what's out there... and if I don't find what I want, then I'm going to write one myself.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

These Boots Are Made for Walking

My co-worker Michelle comes by a little while ago and asks if I want to go for a walk. No, I've got work to do, I say. Just 15 minutes, she says. So, I say, no, 30. Wait... didn't I say I couldn't go?

It felt good to walk, although my headache is bugging me a bit. I haven't had any exercise in a month, since I tried to go for a bike ride and wasn't sure whether I was going to die first from my heart jumping out of my chest or from choking on all the residual mucous from the cold I evidently wasn't as far over as I thought. Ick. Now I just need to start get back into a better habit again...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Enough Already!

Hallelujah! Dawn had finally had enough of torturing me that she gave me the rest of my gadgets tonight! I'm very happy. Basically, she got me an iPod and a Belkin kit. She says she was planning to give me the iPod the first night of Hanukkah, but then Elisabeth put her up to giving me pieces from the Belkin set one at a time.

This actually could have resulted in 8 gifts without ever getting to the iPod, which would really have been mean, but she relented after giving me the batteries (for the FM transmitter, it turns out), the headphone splitter, the cassette adapter, the FM transmitter, and the car charger. That gets us through Saturday night. Sunday night, first she gave me the belt clip carrying case. It's more or less been a foregone conclusion what is ultimately coming, but the carrying case really confirmed it. Then she had me close my eyes and had Rachel give me a wrapped cube. Hmm. I wonder what this could be?! She even had me open it with my eyes closed.

Needless to say, I was very excited and had it hooked up and synching within minutes. In fact, I think it was fully loaded with nearly 20G of music before an hour was up. Then she let me have the rest of the pieces from the Belkin kit (the Y audio cable and the car charger cable to connect to the FM transmitter). And I told her about some of the things I'd been thinking about. See, Elisabeth called me the week before Hanukkah started, asking me about iPods, supposedly for herself. Now, I did know that she was considering getting herself one, but I am much too suspicious to leave it at that and wondered if she was calling on Dawn's behalf. I also considered the possibility that Dawn might have called my friend (& co-worker) Duane, whom she knows is a serious tech-head and would be perfect to give her advice about what to get.

Turns out Elisabeth was really calling for herself, but gave Dawn the information too, and that Dawn had been trying to call Duane but our office's phone system doesn't actually ring through to a person unless you know a name or extension. Anyway, Dawn gave me an iPod & I'm very happy about it. I've got all our music loaded on it and we're going to fall asleep to some of it playing from the iPod through our little bedroom stereo tonight.

The Nutcracker Suite

Tonight, we and my parents took Rachel to her first Nutcracker ballet. We've been looking forward to it, especially Dawn and my mother, for a while, and talking it up a lot, playing the music every couple of days, and so on. Dawn even goes and gets a nice new dress and dressy shoes for Rachel (which are ultra cute, by the way).

While Dawn's doing that, Rachel's playing more or less by herself, so I start on a project, a gift for Dawn. Can't say more about it right now, since Dawn might read this, but suffice to say suddenly it's 4:15 and I've got to get dressed, make a snack for Rachel, and get us all out the door - Dawn's been home for a little while and she and Rachel are almost dressed. I do all this and we are actually in the car by about 4:40, which isn't bad because we don't have far to go - we're actually only taking the truck to get it closer to where we'll be having dinner after the show so that we won't have to walk all the way home with Rachel right about her bedtime.

Problem is, I don't really think we should park right by the restaurant because it's metered and probably already busy, so I try to get somewhat close to the mid-point between the restaurant and the theatre, not really paying attention to the fact that there are a bajillion blocked streets in that area. Very quickly, now, Dawn and I are bickering over where to park and how to get there. Ugh. Finally, I just take a space. It is a lot closer to the theater and restaurant than our house is. This means that even if it didn't turn out near as well as planned, it isn't actually an unmitigated disaster. Dawn and I, however, are both annoyed and touchy.

Now we have to walk a few blocks. It's cold. Rachel doesn't want to walk. Dawn and I are irritated. Oh, what a delight. The ballet was actually great. Rachel did really well and sat through almost the entire thing without bothering other people. She wanted to leave just before the end, so I took her out to the lobby and we kinda tooled around looking at stuff until it was over.

Then we went to dinner. Dinner was so-so, at best, but the service was lousy and, of course, it's late and Rachel is tired and hungry, so the last thing we wanted was to have to wait a long time for food. Of course, the server clearly doesn't have children and didn't get our little hints. Things like "could we have a bit of tangerine for her to eat while we wait" that say to me "go get it quickly".

The walk home went a little better, except that we couldn't find Rachel's jacket. Hmm. Did we leave it at the theater? I wasn't in the seats when we actually left, and I hadn't taken it when I took Rachel out, but I couldn't remember for sure if I'd seen Dawn or my parents carrying it when they left. Instead of walking directly to the car, we walked a block or so out of the way to go back in the direction of the theater. Dawn is very upset at this point, because it's Rachel's only heavy jacket and if we don't find it or get it back from the theater fast we're going to have to replace it, which won't necessarily be easy (or fun, since Rachel's not big on jackets). We don't really have a lot of hope of finding it, since Dawn was walking in front of Rachel and me most of the way, and we'd have seen if she dropped it. Luckily, about 40 feet before Dawn went ahead of us (when we stopped so Rachel could jump off a little wall), there was the jacket. Some one had picked it up and put it on top of a hedge. Whew.

By this time, Dawn and I are starting to be a little more conciliatory about our... adventures on the way to the theater. My friend Chris one mentioned a book called The Tipping Point to me; I want to read this book - it apparently talks about how people behave when they are, or think they are, under stress. Like getting freaked out about whether we're parking as close to the theater as we thought. Or that we're not precisely on the same page about the plan.

All in all, it turned out well. Rachel was ultra-cute in her new dress and enjoyed the ballet. We had a good time and Dawn got to take Rachel to her first ballet.

Friday, December 10, 2004

My Wife is Being Mean to Me

Dawn is being mean to me. That's the only way to describe it. And she says it is my cousin Elisabeth's idea. Here's the deal. It's the third day of Hanukkah. We are celebrating it and that includes, although it is not really part of the tradition, gifts each night. I suppose Rachel's really young enough that she wouldn't have noticed if we didn't do gifts, but we feel like it, so we are.

The first night, Dawn gave me a very nice card. And no, that's not when she started being mean, clearly.

The second night, she gave me a very small package. It contained a pair of AAA batteries. Not just ANY batteries, these are clearly from A DEVICE. You know the type. They're not from a name brand. They're not in a package batteries would come in if you bought them from a store. They're not loose, either, though. No, they're wrapped tightly in semi-rigid plastic with a hole down either side. This pair of batteries obviously came directly out of a larger package with other items in it. When we got our Tivo, it had a pair of no-name AA batteries for the remote control wrapped in this same fashon. So, am I getting a small remote? Duane suggested that it might be a small vibrator.

So, then I'm reading the batteries. Dawn wants to know what I'm doing. Well, you gave me batteries. I'm all for giving someone everything they need to make a gift work, but... breaking it up into multiple gifts is... something. It's not as if you gave me a CD and I can read the liner notes, so I'm stuck reading the side of the battery.

Last night (third), I get another very small gift. This one, I can actually identify without opening almost immediately. It's a short 1/8" stereo headphone splitter cable by Belkin. I look at Dawn. "People say you need this," she says.

This is when I become convinced that Dawn is being mean. And she says it's Elisabeth's idea.

But, yes, Dawn... I am enjoying it.

Define Normal

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless for the time being, is living a bit of a normal life and some other friends are alternately amused, impressed, or aghast. Regardless, we want to hear more, especially the single ones for whom there have been jokes about his creating some sort of lesson plan based on his... exploits.

Here's one of the updates he gave us the other day. The background is that he was going to dinner with a recently divorced co-worker who is stacked, and whose sister he has apparently dated in the past. And, yes, he acknowledges that he's breaking at least 5 rules and is being bad. We (principally I) are trying to get him to start a blog...

You mean you guys CARE about the 22 year old I ran into at the restaurant? The one I went to Burning Man with and who makes a beeline to my table from the bar with a screech and a hug? So I introduce her to my date, but I introduce my date using her sister's name instead of hers? Whoops. So then when my date asks "So how do you know eachother, from school?" The girl answers, "No, we got to know each other taking showers together at Burning Man. Can't wait until next year. Have you been? It's a lotta fun..." Smile. Hug. Exit 22 year old nanny. Can you imagine the next question I got? "So are you thinking of my sister that you mix our names up?"

Now see, at this point, things could go either way. Smooth recoveries are essential. "Actually, I was thinking about your sister. I was going to ask you how she was doing right before Jordan walked up. By the way, did you notice Jordan had forgotten my name?" Take notes. Lines like this are key. It's like a sub commander ordering "Launch countermeasures!"

"What makes you think she forgot your name?" my date asks. I pointed out small signs that gave me a 70% feeling of accuracy that Jordan had spaced it. She's a spacey blond. My date continues with her train of thought. Notice, ... no name switch in topic right now. "But she remembered the showers," my date points out. Big grin on my part. "They always remember the showers. I'm good with a wash cloth." Smile. Silence. "So," I continue. "How is your sister? Does she ask about me?"

A fun night. Of course, when I got home I got an email. Another co-worker. She sent me a .jpg of herself, ... full frontal nude shot. To both home and work email. Jinkies. So it was a dash back to work, delete, delete, delete, toss out a bunch of other stuff to hope the network guys are asleep at the wheel and not checking Zip files, ... you know, toss out a bunch of stuff and cross fingers. And then phone call with a gentle reprimand that "reply all" is dangerous. And yes, thanks, I did think the picture was nice. (This is another secret test to see if they are paying attention. Prudence demands switching to the private email account...)

See what I mean? Even if it's all bull, he tells a great story. Having finished this one, he then claims that since he can scarcely believe it & he's living it none of us, nor anyone else, would believe it or want to read it on a regular basis. AND, he wants to hear our stories of the normal. Of the group of us, 2 or 3 are married or coupled and the others are single. According to him, 'normal' includes things like the following:

Fighting with the wife or girlfriend over what color the new towels in the guest bathroom need to be. Saving time two weeks out to actually schedule sex. Being woken up at 4am on a Sunday by a pair of brightly alert pair of child eyes that are staring at you so hard that the auto defense systems in your medulla oblongata alert you to being potential prey, followed swiftly by the question "Are you awake, daddy?"

Well, OK, if you say so. I'm happy to oblige, since I can, starting in a few minutes...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A 3-Year Old's Logic

We were lighting our Hanukkah candles last night.

Rachel: "We have candles at my school too!"
Daddy: "Oh really? Where are they?"
Rachel: "In the boy room"
Daddy: (thinking "the boy room??") "Where's the boy room?"
Rachel: "Next to the girl room"
Daddy: (uh-huh) "Where's the girl room?"
Rachel: "Next to the BOY room!"

Monday, November 08, 2004

A New Tactic, But Who Won?

We've been having a lot of trouble with Rachel and naps on the weekend lately. She's probably on the cusp of not needing to nap regularly, but it's still usually pretty unpleasant when she doesn't nap. Yesterday, we decided to try a new tactic: take her for a drive and let her sleep in the car.

We've done it a couple of times before, though not as deliberately. We've gone shopping twice in the last couple of months, knowing that she might fall asleep in the car on the way, so I took a book. Worked out quite well those times... I just sat and read while Dawn did the errands and Rachel slept.

This time, Dawn just took her for a ride until she fell asleep and then came back, parked in the driveway, and slept while Rachel slept. This seemed to work well. They got good naps. I did some stuff around the house and then an errand or two on my own. When Rachel woke up, she was refreshed and happy and must more pleasant as the day wore on. We did discover that for some reason the truck battery had almost died while they were sleeping. Dan pointed out that if the ignition was on, it would have sucked the battery pretty fast.

So far, so good. So we have to push the truck out of the driveway and jump it and then drive it around a little bit to recharge the battery. Not that big a deal, and we can figure out why it died and make sure that doesn't happen next time. OK, cool.

Then we went to push it out and jump it. Not a big deal. Dawn was nervous about whether she would be able to stop the truck without the power brake, so I sat in the truck and pushed with one foot while she pushed from the front. Still OK. Got the truck in position; the jumper cables are nice and long, so we don't even have to bridge with the ones we borrowed from Xin.

Here's where it gets fun. The alarm. I wasn't surprised when it went off when I turned truck on (it actually almost started just from the Accord's battery, but not quite). I was rather surprised when it didn't turn off, however. Hmm. Turning the truck off doesn't work. The remote isn't working. And I'll tell you what... with the hood up, that alarm is flippin' LOUD. So loud it's more like a concussive force than a sound.

Dawn takes the truck and goes up to the busy street near us to stop hammering our poor neighbors, while I go looking for the manual (I thought there might be a way to turn it off with the remote or the valet switch) and a couple of wrenches and a flashlight. She's around the corner for about 30 seconds before a cop shows up. Of course, it's 9:30 and we were getting ready for bed when we remembered we needed to deal with the battery, so naturally she doesn't have an ID with her.

The cop hangs around until I show up. As I'm heading for the front of the truck, Dawn says something about her ID. It hasn't really occurred to me that he might want to see it, so I ask him if he wants to see it, and he says "might be nice." I managed not to say anything snide or flip and just showed it to him. He could have asked, though...

Anyway, disconnected the battery, let it sit for a few minutes, and then put the cable back on and, lo and behold, no more unbelievably loud and obnoxious alarm. Dropped Dawn off at home and then drove around for a bit to make sure the battery was charged back up. Oh, and did I mention... on the way back to the house at some point during this adventure, I stopped to take the jumper cables off the Honda and close it's hood... and it's damn alarm went off too!

So, was all the alarm crap just payback for tricking Rachel into a nap?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Despite various predictions and hopes, even more people voted for Bush this time than last. In 2000, there were 105 million votes cast, 50,456,002 for Bush, 50,999,987 for Gore, and 2,882,955 for Nader. This time, as counted so far, CNN reports 59,117,523 for Bush, 55,557,584 for Kerry, and 395,969 for Nader. I assume the rest of the candidates got less than a million combined (such as Leonard Peltier, who got some 21k votes in California, in spite of being in jail). Let's call it 500k even. That's a total of 115,571,076. Basically, what happened, then is Bush got 9 million more votes than last time, or almost all of the increased turn-out, because Kerry got 2.5 million of Nader's votes plus the other 1.5 million-ish of the increased turn-out. So much for the Democratic efforts at registration and motivation.

Obviously, I'm less than pleased. Bush is certainly going to get to appoint at least 1, probably 2 or 3, Supreme Court Justice within the next four years. He's going to throw more of our money and lives (not to speak of other countries' citizens) at the so-called War on Terror. He's going to continue his efforts to ravage the environment and the world for the betterment of his friends. And he's just generally going to make this country less well educated, more fearful, more conservative, and more fundamentalist.

Some interesting blogs I've run across today:

Badda Blog!
E's Surf Report
Mike's Message I'm rather surprised he hasn't written anything since sometime yesterday. Perhaps he's, as one of my co-workers said, too depressed to think about it.

On the bright side, now there will be more chance to impeach him. Of course, with a more Republican Congress than before, it'll have to be something particularly egregious and especially undeniable.

Here's a joke for you... how do we get Bush out of the White House? Wait. Just four more years. No problem, right?

In other news... To top off the fun of trying to manage a diet, especially now that I've figured out I'm not supposed to be eating peanut butter, cashews, or hummus, I seem to be coming down with something. My throat started feeling odd yesterday. I'm hoping various supplements and "sticks and twigs" from our accupuncturist can keep it at bay, or at least from turning into anything big.

I've taken lunch to work three days running, now. I thought Michelle and Duane and I had planned on Wednesday's being days to eat out, but Duane suggested Friday when I called him to make sure this morning. So, Friday it will be. Which is fine, since Michelle's been out sick for a couple of days now.

I went and did some shopping tonight to fill out our meals for the next couple of days... chicken apple sausage, more eggs, lots of veggies (discovered I like Swiss Chard, at least the way Elisabeth made it tonight; don't remember having it before, though I certainly may have), apples, oranges, pears, and frozen strawberries (the fresh ones are 7 bucks for 2 pounds - no way!) Bacon. I know Ann Louise Gittelman (author of the Fat Flush Plan) wouldn't like it much, but that's just tough. Will be having bacon on Friday morning. Ground turkey breast for meatloaf tomorrow. I think we've tried the one from the book before, but it might have been from the South Beach book. Not sure.

Oh, and I started doing push-ups and crunches on Sunday. Only managed 2 sets of 10 and 1 of 6 pushups on Sunday... then 3 sets of 10 monday... then almost couldn't make all 10 in the third set yesterday, but got a little better today. Need to increase the crunches too; I've managed three sets of 20 each day, but I'm only lifting my shoulders. I like to do leg/hip crunches too. And more of them.

But, I'm tired. Good night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's Heeee-eeeere

Well, as little attention as I've paid to the election campaign, I can tell I'm going to have to fight to focus on my work rather than paying excessive attention to the election through the day.

We can see our polling place from our house, and the first person was in line about 6:45. By the time the polls actually opened at 7, there were at least a dozen people in line, and now there are a dozen people in line outside, besides the people who must be inside. I've seen several people (it's trash day, so I've been out there twice already) pull up and run in to drop off absentee ballots. I'll be doing that myself shortly.

My mother was thrilled when I told her that Ohio courts had ruled that the Republicans couldn't have registration challengers in polling places. Now it seems the Court of Appeals has ruled they can be right outside, which is not much better. My neighbor's biggest worry is how the Republicans will find to cheat... like the Republican funded organization in Nevada that registered people and then tore up registrations of Democrats.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What are you doing?

I asked Rachel tonight, "What are you doing?" She said "Nothing." Wasn't sure she had the first time, since she was downstairs and I was surprised... turns out she was, because I asked again and got the same answer. Keep in mind she's 3. My parents don't remember how old I was when I did that...

Plodding Along

It's a little odd being back on standard time again. It's only 7:30, but it feels as if it ought to be 9 or so. It's not all because it got dark at 5ish... I also left work early to go see my doctor for a check-up and spent some time before Dawn and Rachel came home trying to figure out where I stand on the 45 BILLION issues on our ballot tomorrow.

Some of them are ridiculous, and the sniping between the people for them and the people against them is even worse. Not sure why I'm surprised. Of course, I don't have time to really get into them, so I'll either go with my first instinct or just skip the ones I'm not immediately sure about. The only ones I really care about right now, really, are the federal and state elected offices. In particular, which idiot we are less opposed to having in the White House for the next 4 years. Saw a great t-shirt the other day while walking on Telegraph after lunch... had outlines of two people, about the same size... one said Bush, the other Kerry. Kerry's male genitalia were substantially larger in this drawing than Bush's. I don't think there's anything more important than getting Bush out of the office he was given by Judicial Fiat four years ago.

My next door neighbor is convinced Kerry's going to win, for four reasons I can think of:
  • because no sitting president polling under 50% has ever won re-election
  • because the polls that have them so close together only take into account "likely voters", which does not include the newly registered
  • because there are something like 14 or 15 million newly registered voters with a distinct advantage on the democratic side, and
  • because a large percentage of undecided voters tend to vote against the incumbent - they don't really need to be convinced whether to vote for him because he's been in office for four years... they're just taking time to decide whom they actually will pick

I've also been hearing that turn-out in certain groups could make a significant difference. For instance, Kerry has a 2-1 advantage in the 18-34 (I think) year-old age group, so every 1% of the total turn-out that comes from that age group represents a 1/3 percent net gain for Kerry. Only time will tell.

I've actually paid unusually little attention to this race. John asked me a couple of days after Kerry's acceptance speech whether I had watched it. What for? There's nothing to change my mind... if there were someone I believed in more than Kerry, which probably isn't hard, I would only dare vote for him or her in an election when keeping such an awful choice as George W. Bush out of office wasn't a problem. Though I agree with some of his politics, I'll never vote for Nader in anything ever. He says he's staying in the race for the good of the country, but that's either bull or he's lost his mind. Maybe both. While there are certainly similarities between the evils of the Republicans and the Democrats, there's simply no way to justify helping Bush stay in office.

During the primaries, a campaigner for Kucinich came to my door and started talking about him. He's for socialized (or at least universal, anyway) health care. The right to choose. Peace. Basic civil rights. Education. The environment. I was actually quite impressed with the obvious intellectual capabilities of the campaigner, which I realized then have actually been lacking in those of most other candidates. I asked, "why should I vote for him? he doesn't stand even a snow-ball's chance in hell of winning." Imagine the response - the point is not to win the primary, as there's no chance of that, but if we can get a significant showing, maybe we can get some real attention from the party when it comes to making the party platform for the election. I voted for Kucinich in the primary on principal because I think his ideas much better represent mine and because there's no way a vote for him at that time could possibly interfere with getting Bush out of the office!

Work has been a lot of long hours for several weeks. Not as badly lately as early in the month. I spent the last week of September in NJ visiting M to go over their requirements for the next build. This led to a significant amount of time working on the spec and refining it with them through the month of October until we got them to sign it and the price structure on the 29th. Hallelujah. Bob, who was our project manager on M's implementation and left right before the conference in NJ, and Derek, who was Patrice's boss and was laid off in... July I think, evidently had a bet about the signature. Bob said we'd get it signed but not until the end of the calendar year. Derek said we wouldn't get it signed at all. I'm a little disappointed in those assessments. Their faith was overwhelming. Especially considering that I've really not found M to be anywhere near as unreasonable as the seemed before Patrice and I took over and that the project was in an absolute shambles before then. For instance, we were in NJ sitting in the conference room with them making the project plan! How anyone knew what was going on or when things were supposed to be done, I do not know. M, I'm happy to say, has come to realize lately how much better things are now.

I think I'm already behind schedule on M and we only got sign-off on Friday!

Meanwhile, Dawn and I are planning a night away for our anniversary, which is coming up on the 11th. It's our fourth. I have both the 11th and 12th off, though I'm not lucky enough to work for any of the huge number of employers in the country (not to mention Europe) who take the 11th off, so I have to take 2 vacation days rather than one. Not that big a deal, but it seems as if it should be really cool to have Veteran's Day (or Armistice Day) for an anniversary... So, we're going to have dinner at the Lark Creek Inn where we got married and then spend the night at a b&b-esque cottage near Point Reyes. I figure we'll spend most of the 12th out there wandering or whatever and then come back in time to pick Rachel up from school.

Rachel will stay home with Elisabeth... I think that should go pretty well. I'm hoping we can see about having a practice night before then so Elisabeth can put her to bed when we're not in the house. It shouldn't really be a big deal at this point, since she's getting to spend a lot of time with E (and her cats). In a real pinch, we'll be close enough that we can come home if we have to. I don't think anyone's ever dropped Rachel off at school besides us, though... not that there should be any problem there either; we just have to make sure the school knows it's going to happen.

We're really looking forward to this. I was thinking about calling up the woman who made our wedding cakes and having her make two small cakes for us again; she did that for our first anniversary when we went to the Lark Creek as well. They were delicious, but I think we'll go with the desserts they have. I know that whole meal is going to be outside our diet plan, along with breakfast the next day. The cottage will provide an "ample" supply of organic breakfast materials, including pancake mix, fruit, eggs, and on and on. Ample really is how they put it, but I seem to remember the food they provided for us when we stayed in one of their other cottages with my parents being enough to feed at least 6 people. Not that we'll over do it... we can probably bring some of it home with us too.

I need to look around and see what we should do on the 12th around Pt. Reyes... I don't think it's whale watching season yet. Maybe we'll just wander around Pt. Reyes itself and go to the light house. Hmm...

A Diet Odyssey, Day 1

Dawn and Elisabeth (who is presently living with us, by the way) and I decided that we should go on a diet together. I've pretty much leveled off and have been maintaining a 5 lb weight range (235-240) since the end of June, but I'd like to see if I can kick myself down another 20ish. Dawn and Elisabeth also want to lose some weight and/or size. My friends & co-workers, Duane and Michelle, were also talking about wanting to get back on their respective diets last week. And our friend Karolyn was over Saturday night and we were all talking about it, so she's joining in the "fun" (and I use the term loosely) as well.

Duane's diet started today after lunch, because he decided he couldn't let last night's pizza go to waste and ate it for breakfast. He and Michelle and I have agreed that we'll have to go to Zachary's for pizza when we're finished with the diets, although it does occur to me that we'll need to be very careful about what we eat from when we finish this first phase (in a couple of weeks) through the holiday season. I think Michelle and Duane are doing the South Beach diet, while the rest of us are actually doing the Fat Flush Plan.

Both plans start with a 2-week (or more) phase 1 that cuts out essentially any carb that's not part of a vegetable, most or all artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and so on. This helps stop the tendency toward insulin overload - insulin is a fat storage hormone, so keeping insulin levels reasonable helps avoid storing excess fat in the body and, in fact, in eliminating the excess that's already stored. The Fat Flush plan takes it a step further and attempts to enhance liver function by adding essential fatty acids and cranberry juice (straight, though it can be sweetened with Stevia Plus). The liver is quite good at processing fat for elimination rather than storage, provided it isn't eternally busy processing all sorts of other junk like artificial sweeteners and many medications.

So, today it begins. For the three of us living in my house, breakfast was the Long Life Cocktail (cranberry juice, half a lemon, 1 tablespoon each of flax seed oil and ground flax seed meal) followed by a blueberry protein shake, which was fairly tasty, although it might have been nice if the protein powder had been mixed in a little better. I think it's time for my mid-morning snack, either an apple or orange (chosen highly scientifically: the one that comes more easily to hand when I go get it). Karolyn reports that she didn't find all the flaxseed to be so bad as she expected, but that the urge to have a second cup of coffee (one cup of organic coffee is permitted per day) is! I'd suggest some Tylenol for the impending headache, but it's not great for the liver :-)

Duane and Michelle and I will be bringing our lunches with us four days a week, at least, and going out at most once, on Wednesdays. The nice thing about these diets is that as long as you have a reasonable array of choices, and we have plenty between the Emeryville Public Market and the Bay Street mall, it's not all that hard to find things to eat that stay within the constraints of the diets.

Karolyn and I decided that we should have a joint blog where we can all write in, so I've created one. I'll probably post my entries there as well as here, but we'll see.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

The Giants are truly out of it now. Somewhere around the fourth inning of today's Giants/Dodgers game in LA, the Astros clinched the wild-card spot by beating the Rockies. Honestly, I'm just as glad they didn't make it in. I'm in work hell, can't really afford the tickets, and don't really have a lot of faith that they'd make it very far. I do think that what we'd probably have done is go to the first home game of the NLDS and NLCS, if they made it that far, and then as many games as they managed in the World Series. Ah, well... maybe next year. It's funny, though. For all the talk of needing a big bat to back up Bonds, the Giants ended the season second only to the Cards in runs scored. The real problem was pitching & defense, I think, although it would certainly have been nice to see Bonds walk fewer than 200 times! It would be really nice to get a big bat (or three), but I'd rather see some real pitching changes - Schmidt's been awesome and Tomko was great toward the end, but we need some more guys who'll go longer and keep the opposing offenses down...

I think I mentioned work hell. I spent all of last week in NY visiting M along with Patrice & Rich. It was pretty good over all... we got a lot done, established a good rapport with the customer, and had a good time. Dinner at Nobu one night... Rich had Washu Beef (it's the same as Kobe except it's not actually from Kobe)... I kid you not, it was $14 PER OUNCE! I had a taste. It was really good. 9 of the people from the customer (from all over the world) had the "chef's choice" thing they do... basically, you tell them what you're allergic to or just don't like and how much you want to spend and they bring you a bunch of courses. The suggestions for price are "$80, $100, $120, and up". It was pretty good, but I am glad it wasn't on my dime!

Anyway, M's been going on for significantly more than a year and we're working on defining requirements for implementing our software to the second of their three divisions. When Patrice's boss was let go, all of his extra responsiblities devolved to her... as if she didn't already have her hands full with everything she already had. Then right before we were all supposed to go out to see M, Bob quit. Bob was their project manager; had been since we started their first division in early 2003. In fact, I heard they went so far as to demand that his name be included in the contract. I'm using the term loosely, because a few weeks ago when we were supposed to be in QA and were two days behind, he didn't even know. And now last week Patrice has been creating the project plan while we sit with the customer going over the requirements! Unbelievable. I don't know if Bob can really be THAT bad, but at the very least he must have completely checked out a long time ago. I'm working on revising the requirements doc, as I spent most of last week doing; I have to turn it around to them by the 6th and it's already vastly different from Bob's last version. Moving the lists of vendors and such into embedded spreadsheets alone dropped it from 63 pages to 34.

I don't really understand what all was going on with the project; I really should have been much more involved with the project, particularly lately. Oh well. Water under the bridge; now I AM more involved - I'm sharing the project management with Patrice and, somewhat, Rich. Rich is so busy with their current issues he's not getting to do much new right now; I'm mainly doing the requirements and then I'll manage the customization implementation while Rich handles the configuration. Assuming it all comes together and they sign... we're already under a little pressure to stop working because they're taking a long time to sign and aren't paying much along the way. If they don't sign by the end of the month, we'll almost certainly miss our quarter.

Rachel did pretty well while I was gone; we were able to talk at least once every day but Friday while I was gone. My leaving on Sunday was hard; she didn't want to say goodbye, which was hard for all of us. I guess she and Dawn spent some time hanging out at the airport before going home. I think I realized I'd been gone too long when I called at 7:30 to say good night; Dawn seemed perplexed as to why I was calling at that point... it took me a few minutes before I realized that I'd called at 7:30 NY time! Seeing them at the airport was great. I heard Dawn call me from a fair distance and moved so Rachel could see me and she came running, TOP SPEED! It was very nice! Last time I was gone for that long, we met up in LA at the end of the week, and Rachel barely looked at me for the first couple of hours after I got back.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

You Better Get Some More Steam

It's been a while since I posted a significant entry. Between being busy at work and sick for a bunch of the week before labor day, I haven't had much time when I didn't have something better to do. I still have some better things to do, but I'm going to procrastinate for a few minutes instead.

I've now put just under a hundred miles on the new bike; it would have been more by now, but I was sick for a few days. Rachel was even going to let me take her to school on the bike on Friday, but I wasn't feeling up to it. I was fine for driving and probably would have been fine riding, but somehow relying on myself for balancing and powering a bike seemed too much. Far better to let the truck's 4 wheels and 190 hp engine take care of those tasks!

Yesterday and this morning I rode up to Spruce and Grizzly. Yesterday, I was approaching a red light on the way and was thinking of running it, but there was a car coming; then I realized it was my father, and started considering running it again, but I had already put my foot down. Then today I decided to go on up to Euclid on Grizzly and come down that instead of Spruce; I had been telling my mother that I was going to wait to do that until I had worked up to doing the ride a little faster or better. I should have known, given how much easier Spruce to Grizzly was the first time I rode it this year than the last time I rode it (probably high school), that Euclid wouldn't be hard - it's only two blocks and neither long nor particularly steep ones, at that. Euclid, on the other hand, is paved almost all the way back to the Cal campus, which made it far nicer to ride down than Spruce! Except for the part where I got a flat tire as I went by the Rose Garden.

This kind of made the rest of the morning interesting. We are working on getting ready for Rachel's birthday party this weekend, and having to walk home and still go to the bike store for a new tube and such, would really have messed things up. Between that and work I'm sure we'll be good and busy the next several days.

Here's a funny story: as we were discussing at dinner what else we should do for the evening, Dawn commented that she was out of steam, to which Rachel announced "you better get some more steam, Mommy."

It gets better, really... a little later, she holds up her hand, holding the ring finger down with her thumb and says "can you do this?" So we teach her the rock-and-roll salute with both the middle & index fingers down... and within a few minutes she's bobbing her head in time to Iron Man. A little later, she's naked dancing with Dawn to Baby Got Back. And we have video of that...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

It's 10 O'Clock On a Wednesday

It's 10 PM. The power's been out for most of four hours. It came on around 8 long enough for me to get around to starting to reset clocks, only to have it go out again a few minutes later. I'm writing this in Notepad to post later. Rachel did OK; she was a little freaked out. I talked to her about being able to see as we got used to it and we walked to get a flashlight.

I had to dress up a little for work today because my boss's new boss is in town. I already told her that I won't bother dressing up tomorrow or Friday since some other people didn't today in spite of being instructed to do so. Partly it's because I wanted to ride today and it was getting late and hot and I didn't want to deal with any changes of clothes. Maybe I will ride in t-shirt and shorts tomorrow and take good clothes to change into, which is what Dawn just suggested.

Anyway, at dinner, while I was still dressed up, Rachel says to me "can you be handsome again, Daddy?" I immediately knew Dawn must have said something about me being dressed up this morning after they left for school, so I said "is that what Mommy said, that I was handsome?". to which she said "yeah. Because you had a meeting today." Then after we got home I said I was going to go change and she says "you don't want to be handsome anymore?" I guess the clothes make the man.

I just called PG&E again about the power outage. The automated system now knows that the problem is from 'damaged equipment' and that they expect to restore the power by between 5 and 7 tomorrow morning. Nothing like getting the power back up quickly. Can't wait to be trying to get up in the morning with no power. Not to mention claiming the cost of the contents of our refrigerator and freezer from PG&E if it can't keep everything cold enough for that long.

Accidental Procrastination

OK, I haven't really been setting out to procrastinate today, but I've gotten very little done and as late as it is now, I'm not likely to get much more done now. I haven't even been procrastinating per se, I just haven't been able to focus on anything. So I suppose I might as well spend a few minutes on a blog entry since I've been wanting to do some for a while. Not that I'm going to remember all the things that occurred to me to write and I never got around to. I even started an entry a few days ago but was actually busy and abandoned it after a few sentences.

I've really been pretty busy with work again. M needed some critical attention into the end of August, so they got it. We have a deadline of 9/15, which means I had to have my stuf finished by the beginning of the month so that it could be integrated, built, tested, and delivered on time. It looks as if that's all going to happen. M is basically my meal ticket at this point - they've got work signed for me for at least the next 3 or 4 months, maybe longer. And they'll probably ask for yet more customizations when I go out and meet all of them at the end of the month. As long as we don't screw this thing up, I think I don't need to worry about my job while the market is still so poor. I do start wondering about my career path occasionally, but this job is easy and convenient, so I'm not very motivated to try to find something that will pay as well or better, which will take some looking.

Then J had a melt-down last week. They've been testing the migration I gave them for weeks and then last week they discovered (needing to go into production starting 9/3) that there's a significant performance problem at one point in the workflow, apparently as a result of the changes I gave them. Fortunately, we'd already canceled our half-vacation trip to Santa Cruz, between our being sick and internal political bull at work. Spent a TON of time, including numerous hours over the holiday weekend, trying to nail down what the problem was, or even just prove whether it was really a problem caused by the migration. I still don't understand what caused it, but it's definitely not related to their testing environment or the database restores they were doing because it's happening now in production.

In the midst of all this fun, Jeff decided to have IT nuke the OS and DB software on a shared machine called FISSION. With 75 minutes notice. While I happened to be out of the office taking Tom to the vet again. And while I had a database connection open to it. But some how both he and Garrett decided it was OK to kill it, so I had to do all this attempted troubleshooting with J completely blind and rely on them to do all the work. Here's a tip: if you think it's reasonable to ask people whether there's any critical data on a machine you're going to kill, you need to wait until you hear from everyone in the negative, NOT assume that it's OK if you haven't heard in a little while! I'm STILL fucking pissed off about it.

We had a great Labor Day weekend. Saturday, we took Rachel to Stinson Beach for the first time, along with our neighbors and their children, Carmen & Leila. It was, surprisingly, neither as hard to get to nor as crowded as we expected. I suppose that might be attributable to the great white shark sighting the day before! We weren't going to go very far out anyway. We all had a great time. We played in the water, which she took a little while to get used to, and made sand castles. Sunday she went to the SF Zoo with my parents; when they came back she started showing me on the map where they went. For the most part, this consisted of her pointing at random points and saying "we went there", but while we were all talking about what they saw and did, she would start looking for the little animal icons to find the correct spots.

Then, Monday was our end of summer block party. It almost turned into a major fiasco because the temple on our block was having a big thing and didn't tell us until Sunday night. To be nice, we only blocked half the road, from their parking lot to the other end of the street so that they could have people arriving by car on the unblocked portion. Surprisingly, we only had one problem, right near the end, when this psycho nut bitch came flying up the road even speeding up when we yelled at her to stop. That aside, the party was great. Almost all the regular (that is non-student) residents showed up, and John arranged for a fire crew to come out with an engine and talk to the kids, which was awesome. We even got to spray each other with one of the hoses, which most of the kids just loved. One of the two high school aged kids on the block brought one of her friends from school and I overheard them wondering how Labor Day came about. I said, "brought to you by the same people as the weekend: the labor movement."

I haven't been getting to ride much, having been sick for more than a week, but I'm determined to ride tomorrow. John and I went down to the marina on Monday morning, though, which was nice, including a ride through the aquatic park where I'd never been before. It felt really good to be back on the bike. Must ride in to work tomorrow. Must, must, must.

And now, I think I'll go get Rachel from my parents' place.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sweetie Pie and Love Bunny

A few days ago, I went to pick Rachel up at Louise's house. I said something to Rachel, addressing her as 'sweetie pie' and Louise said "My mom calls me Sweetie Pie," presumably noting that it was her mother who did so rather than her father as it is with Rachel. So Rachel said "my daddy calls me sweetie pie; my mommy calls me love bunny."

Monday, August 30, 2004

Death Warmed Over

Dawn and I have really been enjoying Last Comic Standing. I'm sure it is staged to some degree or other - would have us believe it's all about the money rather than "the funny" as they put it. Why that's a surprise, I'm not sure. Tonight's show had it's moments. It's a little lame that John Heffron's prize for winning season 2 is about half as good as Dat Phan's for season 1, but it's worse that the new "season" started three weeks after Heffron won!

Anyway, Alonzo Bodden was GREAT and a couple of the others were somewhat funny; Ralphie May answered our curiosity about why he looked so blue during the intros - his dad died last night. I'm sure he'll get some sympathy votes, but no matter what he definitely should stay on the show. Dave Mordal, though, looked like CRAP. A couple of times during his routine his hands were shaking; I can't imagine it was because of nerves.


Our cat, Tom Sawyer, got in a fight yesterday. I suppose it was really Saturday night, but the noise woke me just past midnight. We took him to the vet on Sunday morning; we're supposed to call first, which was a bit of an odd call - are you guys busy, cuz I need to bring my cat in but I'm supposed to meet friends for breakfast in two hours. Dawn and I made it to breakfast, but we're having to keep Tom inside for a few days while giving him antibiotics, and we can't use normal litter in his box - we have to use shredded paper, but he's never had that before.

So now it's been at least 36 hours since he did anything, and he's getting desperate. We've tried the usual thing of putting him on his box, and I almost just locked him in the bathroom with it, when all of a sudden he jumped in the tub. I thought he was hiding from us because Rachel was all over him. 'Til I suddenly started hearing the sound of water going down the drain! I kid you not, he was in the tub, crouched over the drain!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Wooooow and That's Beauuutiful!

This was quite a weekend. Friday afternoon, I went and picked up my new bike; also dropped off the old one and Dawn's. They're both going to be tuned up and the pedals swapped so Dawn will have clipless pedals and my father will have the toeclips. We'll probably put a new stem on Dawn's too, so she can be more upright and not have to stretch as far. Had them move the rack for Rachel's seat to the new bike, though they didn't do a good job of it, and put a new computer on it as well; this one has only one trip distance, but adds cadence, which I'm interested in. I have a feeling that eventually I'm going to get something more like Jason's that does tracking of cadence, heart rate, speed, and even elevation over time so it can be downloaded for graphing & such. That'll be a while, though.

Anyway, the new bike is awesome; I love it. I took it for a little spin in the evening and found that the front brake was too loose and the seat too low and maybe angled up in front. Have to figure out how to change that. Saturday morning I took the same ride I did with John; took me a little less time, but I didn't stop at the lake or the coffee shop. According to the new computer, it's 8.25 miles; I can't remember what the old computer said, or what John said it usually is, so I'll have to check on it next time, or when I ride to work next. Actually wound up heading back out for a few minutes just to get a couple things from the grocery store so we could have breakfast.

Yesterday was a little rough; after my ride we went to music class, and then I went to the accupuncturist. We tried to clear my plastics allergy, which was very frustrating, because it meant I couldn't talk on the phone or touch much of anything including most of Rachel's toys, light switches, etc. Couldn't even get my vitamins out for myself. Frustrating.

After Rachel's nap Saturday, I took her to the park with Michele, Xin, Carmen & Leila where Xin & I tried to teach the girls a little about soccer. This amounted to encouraging them to kick it to each other or us and many many many repetitions of "no hands, sweetie, just use your feet". Then they all came over to our place for dinner; we could have just as well gone to their place since all we wound up providing was the place and some sausages - Michele brought over a ton of great Chinese food made by Xin's parents. Delicious!

Was constantly forgetting about the plastics - Dawn turned on the BBQ for me, and I actually adjusted the flame using the tongs (which are wood & metal), but then when I took the girls' sausages off I turned the flame down with my hand before I remembered I wasn't supposed to touch it. Sigh. What a pain in the neck!

Today was great. I gave up on the plastics allergy stuff for now because I got tired of trying to explain to Rachel that I couldn't help her do something with her bracelet. Either the clearing took or it didn't. We had breakfast at my parents' place, and then all went up to Marine World where we had a grand old time.

I wore an old pair of shorts because the only new clean ones have plastic as part of the integrated belt; this pair is a size 38 that several months ago I was almost too big for, maybe hanging over the waistband a little bit. Now I've got a huge amount of room in them - I can actually take them off without unzipping them if I don't have a belt on! My mother made an interesting comment about the accupuncture - on the one hand she's delighted with the changes it's helped me make; on the other, it sounds like so much hocus pocus. I certainly was a skeptic before we started, but now I sometimes feel like some kind of cultist when I talk about it! It does sound like hocus pocus sometimes, and I wouldn't have believed the testing would work before she did it on me.

At Marine World, we saw the Sea Lion, Dolphin, and Orca shows, fed sea lions and giraffes, rode an elephant, and walked through the butterfly house. Rachel just loved the shows, especially the dolphins and orca. She said her favorite part was the dolphin show; or the sea lion; or the orca, depending on when you asked, but I thought the best part was when she pointed at the dolphins and said 'wooooow' completely on her own during their show. The butterfly house was amazing and I got some fantastic pictures - Dawn and I decided that one of the things that has to be on our list for after we come into a large sum of money is having a butterfly house of our own! Near the main entrance to the park, there's a sculpture of 4 or 5 dolphins the make up the centerpiece of a large fountain; it's quite pretty really, in stark contrast to all the commercialization going on around it, and Rachel actually commented on it's being pretty on her own, which was great! She said "that's beauuutiful!" several times.

Rachel did amazingly well throughout. She did spend a lot of time being carried, mostly by me, but she wasn't clingy or demanding about it. Part of the reason we went to Marine World with them instead of to the ballgame by ourselves was that we were worried about how she'd do at nap time, or without one, and that we would have to deal with the aftermath; at least if we were there we don't have to wonder what happened. It certainly isn't that we were worried about my parents' care for her, though my mother said she felt that way a little bit because we didn't make up our minds about going until almost the last minute. It's just harder on us when Rachel's routine gets messed up and we don't know how exactly. Although we had a pretty rough night (she was up at 3:00am after having had a short nap and then again at 4:20, when Dawn brought her to our bed, and then up for good a little before 7) and she was obviously tired at points, she did really really well; almost no fussing/whining/etc at all!

Tonight after we had dinner, I did some work on the new bike, with Rachel "helping" me and working on her bike. Raised the seat (still need to ride it to see if it's the right height), repositioned the seat rack, tilted the handlebar up a little (which meant removing the computer mount because its wire was got too tight). Discovered by accident that there's a second barrel adjuster for each brake close to the brake that let me make the front brake tighter. Also discovered that one of the pads on the rear brakes wasn't very tight and it was angled so that it was rubbing on the tire. I think I checked both on the front but probably still need to check the other on the rear. I think that's probably more work than I've ever done on a bike, though I did put V-brakes and a suspension bike seat post on the mountain bike.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Who Wears Glasses?

Rachel lately has actually been reading to us before bed time, rather than the other way around. She pretends to be Vanessa, the newest teacher at her school, and sits on the chair and insists that I sit on the end of her bed and Dawn sit on the stool. Then she "reads" the book to us, including showing it to us pretty much every page. Tonight, she picked a book called 'The Okay Book' to read to me (Dawn was out to dinner with friends). It's a pretty cute book about how it's OK to be different - tall, small, skinny, big, different colors, from different places, freckles, ..., glasses. When she got to the glasses, she looks at me and says, with this very cute inquiring-teacher kind of look on her face, "who wears glasses, hmm?". When I said I didn't know, she said "is it the tall daddy sitting on the bed? is it the man with the phone on his hip?" I just about lost it; thought I was going to die laughing. Later, she got to a page about being skinny or big and started talking about being tall. I suppose the skinny person looked tall, but then she started talking about who was tall and told me I am the tallest daddy in the whole world.

Well, That's a Tradition, Now

I went for a morning ride with my neighbor John (aka John Down the Street) today. Got up at 6, though Dawn heard me trying to turn the alarm off and thought I was snoozing it. Had my morning 'long life cocktail' and a zone perfect bar and hit the road at 6:30. It was just the two of us, although there are three other guys he's been doing this with for years. Eleven, to be exact. Not sure about EVERY day, or the RAIN-OR-SHINE question, but I know it's basically meant to be daily. John turns 59 this Friday and started this ride 2 years before having a hip replaced. It felt great! Wound up through some of the nice residential areas of South Berkeley/North Oakland, including The Uplands and Chabot Canyon. Stopped briefly at Temescal park to enjoy the quiet and the outdoors (and rest a few minutes).

Wasn't really all that hard, though it could certainly be easier. The new bike will surely help with that (more gears, longer top bar, wider handlebars), but ultimately it's just a matter of practice and getting in better shape. There was one point when I wanted to shift into an easier gear (I was in my lowest) but was stuck between needing to hold the handlebars because of the pressure I was exerting on the pedals and wanting to reach down to the down-tube shifters to shift. The bike has arrived and the guy I talked to today said he'd put it together first thing tomorrow if it isn't done today.

I think I would like to make this ride a fairly regular thing...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

No Wireless Speed Records Either

I mentioned getting the Linksys WRE54G - Wireless-G Range Expander the other day. I tried to set it up a couple of nights ago and it wasn't working, even after a couple of online chat conversations with Linksys support. I tried again tonight, and now it is working, although the link light doesn't light up blue the way it is supposed to. It's a pretty dramatic difference - without it, I get a 'low' signal at best when I'm up in the bedroom. Now that it's in, I'm getting a full signal.

It is relatively slow, though. I'm getting half the throughput (1.4 megabit as tested at using the repeater that I am getting on the desktop machine that's hardwired to the router. If I were really getting 54 megabit to the router the way the wireless sensore makes it seem, I wouldn't see that difference. I'll have to try putting the repeater somewhere else. And maybe even see about getting the high gain antenna for the router.

No Land Speed Record

I've said before that I'm not likely to set any land speed records, apropos of aerodynamics and bike weight, but I did make it in to work pretty fast this morning. 17.9 mph average, according to my possibly miscalibrated speedometer, just under 13 minutes actual riding time and less than an extra minute of stopped time. I didn't have to stop at a single stop sign, and only a couple of lights. It feels good! I do wish Rachel had wanted to ride with me, even though that would have taken longer, though.

I think that today while I'm waiting for things to happen I may start moving my posts from livejournal to here. I also added a 'favorite links' list to the sidebar and got it to save the template with the "friends' blogs" list set to show on all pages rather than just the main & archive pages. Now, if I can just figure out how to get items to show up in smaller chunks when there are multiple items to a page.

Last night, I did a bit of digging around the area where I figured the water pipe would be. After just a little bit, I decided to check the pipes around the meter and found that the meter has a short length of curved copper coming out of it, but at the bottom of the meter box it connects to galvanized. Doesn't give me much hope that the main pipe to the house is copper, but I started digging on the other side of the sidewalk anyway. Got to about 18" deep without finding the pipe, but I did find some stuff associated with the gas pipe. Guess I'll still have to meet the plumber tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2004

6 Ways From Sunday

Ah, what a day. Dawn and I had a meeting, but blew it; she had one time written down and I had another and for some reason we decided mine was right. We went to Doyle Street for lunch instead. Her work is pretty unpleasant right now; there's a ton to do and no place for her to go at work to be alone and focus. The building is under construction, and they're running out of time to be ready for the new school year, both in the construction and in the work they already have to do. And the best part is that the Fed oversight team is coming in later this year.

Elisabeth is going to run in the Honolulu Marathon, working with Team in Training. I've been encouraging her to start a blog, so now we've started one at least for the marathon training. I still think it would be cool for her to have another (or continue to use this) for other stuff - she travels and does so many things it would be fun for her to put them up on a blog. I have a feeling I'm going to have to come up with a good way for her to post pictures soon. In the meantime, we started her marathon blog.

She's also probably going to come live with us for a while; she is selling her house and wants to be out of it before she sells, but can't buy something else until after. It'll be fun to have her with us again; we don't usually get to see her as much as we like, so having her coming home to our place will probably increase that a bit.

Work's been a little odd; frenetic yet not, at the same time. M was having a cow and we agreed to deliver something to them by tomorrow morning, but then we ran into some more problems and the shear amount of work that a single person can get done in a short period, and they asked whether we shouldn't just push out to 9/15 while adding some more of the stuff we're planning on. Ummm. Gee. That sounds like an excellent idea to me. Why don't we do that? Funny thing is that we tried to suggest that once before, but got shot down and that's why we were doing build 1 tomorrow and build 1a by 9/15. So now we'll do it by 9/15. We do have to be careful, though, to make sure that we get it done because there's a good chance we'll lose the account if we miss again, and that could mean some peoples' jobs - more from a revenue stand-point than punishment/example setting, I think. Including mine. I'm not terribly concerned. I think 9/15 is easy.

Spent most of 2 hours on the phone with J; they're doing a lot of testing this week with plans to make the major transition around 9/1. They did mention going to Oracle, but I am still hoping that's not set in stone. Have to look into that again...

I added True-a-Day to the bottom of the blog's main page today. I can't recommend This-is-TRUE highly enough, so I decided to do it. It was also kinda fun to play with it to get it right. I haven't been getting to do much playing of that sort lately. Randy once asked me if I was interested in helping him build the scripts necessary, and I am sure I could have done it - I just didn't have the time. It would have been interesting. And fun. And maybe even some good exposure. I have a list of things I'd like to do just to learn them and play with them, but having the time for that sort of thing is rare...

We had a really nice party at my parents' place on Saturday afternoon for my grandfather's birthday; also just to get the whole family together at least once while my neice and nephew are in town. Rachel played with her cousins, particularly Tycho. It's been really great to see her enjoying them so much. I know that she could just as easily wind up hating a sibling as loving one, but it does sort of increase interest in having another child. Tycho came to music class with Rachel and me as well, and then we went to a park for a while. That all went really well until Tycho hurt his finger just as we were about to go home. No big deal, really, but it probably hurt a lot at the time.

Rachel and I had a bit of trouble this weekend. She's not napping on weekends for some reason. On the one hand, it was pretty funny to turn back towards the back door after half an hour or so of sitting in the backyard talking to Dawn, while Rachel was supposedly in bed napping, and find Rachel standing outside the backdoor naked with a broom in her hand! On the other, she can be pretty frustrating when she's as tired as she gets when she doesn't nap. Yesterday, we eventually tricked her into napping by taking her "to do errands". We drove to Old Navy so Dawn could return/exchange some new clothes for Rachel, but we went about 15 miles out of the way until Rachel fell asleep!

My new bike has been shipped and will probably be at the store on Wednesday; they may even be able to get it built that day! I'm excited. I hope it actually turns out to be the right size and I like it. I've decided not to get a new computer for it at this point; I'll just move the one I have. I think I'll even let the guys at the bike shop put the rack for Rachel's seat on, since they offered. I got to work at an average of 17.2 miles per hour. I think the speedometer might be over by as much as 10%, though I'm not really sure, but even so, that's somewhat faster than I've done before. I do think part of it was not having Rachel on the bike for part of it and therefore not having her seat at all, but I also felt pretty good. But I still wish I'd been able to ride at least once over the weekend.

Bought a Linksys WRE54G. They call it a 'range expander'; aka a repeater. I've been wanting one of these for a while, and I'm really hoping I can get it to work. At the moment I can't. It doesn't notice the router, even after I upgrade the router to the latest firmware. Even after I put the repeater in the same room as the router. I can actually get my wireless card to hook up to the repeater, but can't browse into the repeater's control system. Spent some time on an instant message chat with someone from Linksys but didn't quite get it solved - for one thing, the setup program kills my connection to the router when it tries to find the repeater. We'll see how it goes. The manual says that it should be placed right near the limit of the wireless reception of our devices; I imagine that it is more powerful and/or more sensitive, so will be able to communicate better with the router from that distance and through the same obstructions. Otherwise, it won't work well. I'm also contemplating the high gain antennas or just running a wire outside the house from the router to the bedroom and then putting a second access point up there. It sounds as if we can even have the second AP set up with the same network name.

The landscaping is pretty well underway, but Luke mentioned water pressure (it's not great) and that reminded me that at some point we are going to need to do something about the water service line and the connection into the house. The water service line is probably galvanized, as is everything under the house, but I'll have to check. The problem is, of course, that to replace it we have to dig up a channel right through where Luke is doing a bunch of work. He's already done some stuff we'll have to interfere with, but I'd rather not have him do more, or let the new plants he's going to put in grow for a couple of years and then rip them up to do this. So, now I'm going to have to do some digging tonight when I get home; if I'm very lucky, I'll discover that the line is already copper... if not, I'll be meeting an estimator at the house on Wednesday to discuss what it will cost and when they can do the work. I wouldn't mind having them replace the galvanized pipe in the crawlspace, along with the three outside hose bibs. They will have to move the water shutoff outside, because having it deep under the house isn't up to code anymore.

Truthfully, I'd like to have them do even more than that if I could... I want to move the water heater into the corner of the basement and redirect all the water pipes around the sides of the room. That would make the room a lot more usable. And I suppose they might also be able to rearrange some of the gas pipe stuff too, along the same vein of making the basement more usable but also to give us a place to connect a gas dryer, which I'd prefer over the electric one we have now.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Curiouser and Curiouser, Said Alice...

I might be leaning more toward using; I do like the editor better, and I like that I was able to modify the template so that it includes a section for links to friends' blogs, although I've not yet looked into whether I can modify it to pick the links up automatically from somewhere because I have to 'republish' the blog whenever I change the links list. It doesn't have the current music and current mood bits the way livejournal does, but I don't always use that and I don't know if it matters to me. Of course, there's still the fact that I have a bunch of blog entries on livejournal already. I suppose I could do some general research on blog sites and also learn more about the changes I can make to livejournal without having to pay for it. As if I have that much time for things like this.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

First Post

Haven't actually posted anything here before. I've been using livejournal for a couple of months or so and like it reasonably well. I do like the initial appearance of the rich editor here, but I also like the ability to have a friends list on livejournal. So far, this service seems faster, though. Might have to think about switching. I only have one 'friend' on livejournal, at least as far as I know...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Write Those Things Down!

First, here's a blast from the past. I was swapping the 48 CDs I ripped the last few days back into their cases and another 48 into the folder to take to work starting tomorrow. Came across the CD I burned as a 2nd anniversary gift for Dawn, which has the 17 songs played for the dancing at our wedding. I had the DJ make a list of everything he played for us; I didn't ask him before he started playing unfortunately, so the list may not be quite complete, but it's got 18 dances, the 3 pieces from the ceremony, and 26 from the cocktail/hors d'ouerve part of the reception. I started to say some things about the wedding, but it's late and I have some other things I want to write about, so I'll have to come back to the wedding another time.

I keep saying that I need to write down some of the funny/interesting/impressive things that Rachel does, but I always forget. Well, here are a couple...

First, a recent one from last Monday. I was working at home for a lot of the day because there was no network or phone (some SBC problem that supposedly affected large portions of Emeryville & downtown Oakland) at the office and most people left anyway, so I did too. Eventually, Dawn & Rachel came home. We talked for a bit and then they wandered upstairs to play. After a while, I'd been hearing them playing, when suddenly Rachel came running up to me, stark naked, and said "I have to do some work, Daddy, OK?". I said "OK", and she ran off. This happened about three more times over the next half hour or so.

Second, another blast from the past. When Rachel was about 10 months old, so July/August 2002, we had a 1st birthday party at our place for all the kids in Dawn's Mom's Group. She and Isaiah, a boy about a month or so older, were playing on the floor; not really together, of course, since they're not really old enough yet. They're both sitting cross-legged, or as close to it as they get, facing eachother when Isaiah starts kissing Rachel. After a couple kisses, he leans back, and then Rachel, who hadn't seemed sure of what was going on at first, leaned forward, grabbed his shoulders and pulled him back over for another kiss! It was hysterical!

Clearly, there are tons of other stories we'll have to keep track of. Once upon a time, we were keeping track of the words she knew. I think we started when she was about 8 months old and we went up to Lake Britton where he was saying 'buh' to mean 'bird'. There were others already. Her first abstract concepts were 'eddie' (empty) and 'wheet' (wait). The first time she used empty, she was sitting in her little blue chair on the counter in our new house, and she had a small bowl in her hand that had, for the brief time it took her to scarf them, held either Os (cereal) or blueberries (which she called 'booorrreeeeeeees'); she turned it over, looked at it, and said 'eh-deee'. Took us a couple of minutes to figure out what she was saying.

When she was about 13 months old, we stopped keeping track of the words she could use, because she already had around 50 or so and we weren't remembering to put them into the list regularly enough. She's always been extremely verbal; when the weekly newsletter I used to get from said that most kids could use 9 words and maybe the occasional 2 word 'sentence', Rachel was using over 100 words and had, just days before, used a NINE word sentence. As Patrice said once, it's really too bad that I'm not a proud father...

I think Daniel once mentioned being totally in love with Fergie from Black Eyed Peas; as I type this, she's being listed as #13 on Spike's list of top 52 most irresistable women. VH1's site is better; when they do their lists, you can actually get the list on their website, which doesn't seem to be the case with this one.

Oddly enough, I seem to be getting a migraine right now. It's 11 at night, which may be a first for me. I think I'll say good night, take a couple of the pills and try to go to sleep. I wonder if this is because I had a pretty large amount of carbs today? A small bowl of cereal for breakfast, with blueberries and grapes; a chicken burrito with more rice and chips than I planned for lunch, and spinach linguine with lobster & tomatos and risotto with prawns and such for dinner (Dawn & I split the two entrees). Also a lemon drop (with absolut cintron) and a chocolate pate with rasberry puree. OK, well, since I can only see about half of what I'm typing... good night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Of Bikes, Tivo Series2s, and Outdoor Furniture

The landscaping project finally started yesterday. We've been contemplating some kind of relatively major landscaping project basically since we moved in to the house in early 2002. And we spent quite a bit of the spring and early summer trying to decide what to do, so we're pretty excited that it's finally underway. There seem to be new decisions to make almost every day.

One was whether we want less disruption in the back yard or a shorter total project time. Luke, the landscaper, isn't going to be at our place every day, but there may be days when he isn't working on our yard but doesn't need his assistant's help and could have him working on our back yard, which is going to take some time. We're having the whole lawn replaced and a lot of dirt and weeds will have to be removed. Juan could work on that on days when they're not both doing something else, but that would mean that the backyard would be unusable for quite a long time. Instead, we elected to have them do all the work in the back in as short a time as possible so that we don't have to deal with not being able to use it for any longer than necessary.

I picked up our 6 new outdoor chairs today. They're teak, from The Wooden Duck. We love the Wooden Duck; all their furniture is made from recycled or farmed wood. We went for their big summer BBQ bash, planning what we would buy on the way there. The funny thing was that we thought the sale was 30% off, but it turned out to be 50%, so we got more than we planned for the same money. We took the bench home that day, but had to back-order the chairs and table, which are now all ready. The table won't fit in my truck, so I'll have to go back at some point with a truck that can carry it. Maybe John or Xin can help me with it. The new chairs are still wet; I guess they must have gone in the container pretty soon after being built and they've had no time to dry, so I'll have to wait to stain them.

I want to call Hank & Frank and see whether they know when they will get my new bike in. It's only been 3 days since I ordered it, but I'm itching to get it. Surprise. I'm trying to decide whether I want to get a new cyclocomputer (as what I have been calling a speedometer is called by bikers evidently). I definitely don't want to spend much on it, though, so I probably won't because I doubt that I can get one for a low price that does much more than the one I have now. My friend Jason has one that includes a heart rate monitor and altimeter and downloadable data. It can do graphs of heart rate, altitude, and speed over the course of the ride. And probably more than that. It's pretty cool. It's also around $300, probably without the downloading kit.

John & I went over to Jim's last night. Had dinner out and then watched 3 episodes of Junkyard Mega Wars, which Jim thinks are the last three episodes. It's a pretty bad show now; they tried to spice it up by adding an "eye-candy" hostess and an "extreme" host. The dork points, gestures, and yells far too much. And has nothing particularly interesting to say. They spent a heck of a lot of time in transit so that you don't really get to see the teams planning and executing as much as might be interesting. And they do things like arrange to find a charged nitrous system in a junk yard. Yeah. Right. It was fun, though; we spent the whole time dissing the contestants and hosts, and the show, and making all sorts of comments about it all.

I also looked around their Tivo Series 2 a little. The main thing we want them for is to be able to watch things recorded on one from the other; i.e. in the bedroom. It also includes the 'home media options', which would be cool since I'm now ripping all our music; I wonder if I can connect the Tivo to the little boom box we have in the bedroom? Another nice feature on the series 2s is that anything recorded with the same title can be grouped into folders, which would surely make it easier to find the things we have recorded. I am particularly interested in the fact that it supports wireless networking, including encryption, although I don't know if I would really get a good enough connection up to the bedroom for the wireless to be useful, but it should be relatively easy to run a wire from the hub in the study out the east side of the house and then into the bedroom. And then, if I were smart, I'd put a wireless access point there and still use wireless. Or I could put a 2-port hub with a wireless access point on one port and a wire to the Tivo on the other. We'll see. First we have to commit to buying them. The prices look pretty good right now, although we'd still have to spend $300 to get lifetime service for one and then $6.95 a month for the other (because it would take 44 months for the monthly service to pay itself off with the multi-unit discount).

Of course, the rebate they're doing right now expires tonight. And I can't reach Dawn. We're both interested, but we also were thinking about putting some of the other purchases we've been thinking about on hold... Tivos, new window coverings, track lighting for the kitchen... there's always stuff to think about buying for the house.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

You Did WHAT???

Figured out Thursday's problem on M's project yesterday. Something about the class path. Pretty much finished with that task, which is good since I'm theoretically on the hook to deliver it and 2 or 3 more I haven't started on by the end of next week. I say theoretically, because I sense there's going to be some infighting about it. M changed their requirements the day after I started working on things. I told Bob (our project manager for M) that I needed to know by the next day (7/27) what was in and what was out and that, anyway, I didn't know if I could make the 13th the way we'd been talking about. A week or so later we finally got their response to the technical design we sent them back then, but I haven't actually been able to get Bob to call me back to talk about it. I really ought to give Patrice some warning on that. But it's good that I've made some real progress.

Once I had that done, I left a little early to go bike hunting. Went to Missing Link, where I tried the Trek 520, a touring bike that was really quite nice except that the shifters are on the bottom ends of the handlebars. That's better than on the drop tube, but not much, and I really want click shifters rather than the older 'feel' style like what I have. I also tried the Bianchi Brava and the Trek 1000 or 1500. Can't remember which it was. The Brava was OK. The Trek was really, really, really nice. I think it would even give the one I eventually picked a run for its money, but the Trek 1000 and 1500s don't have attachment points on the back for me to put Rachel's seat on. It's also about 3 or 4 hundred dollars more than the top of my intended budget (before tax). If it'd had the attachment points and been, maybe, 50 bucks over, I might have thought about it pretty seriously.

From Missing Link, I went to Mike's Bikes, where I only tried one bike, the LeMond Big Sky SL. VERY nice. Initially the same price as the Trek, but it's on sale, which puts it just at the top of my range. I don't know if it is quite as nice as the Trek, but it's pretty nice and I was pretty interested. Today, though, I spent quite a bit more time at it. I went to Solano Cyclery, REI, Velo Sport, the Bent Spoke, Hank & Frank's, and back to Mike's. It would have been nice to have had the time to do all that on my bike, but it seemed as if it would take too long, so I took the truck instead. Tried the large (not XL, which is what I need) Giant OCR2 at Solano & they said they'd have more in a week or so), REI offered to build a 61cm Novara Strada, Velo Sport had only one that met the general requirements, but it was a custom at $2250 (!), and the Bent Spoke had nothing. The OCR2 was fair, but not great. It was too small, which is understandable, but I also wasn't crazy about the shifting or braking.

Hank & Frank, though, had the OCR1, which I've been pretty interested in since finding it online yesterday. The XL is a bit bigger than the 61cm LeMond, and it uses almost all Ultegra parts, which are a step up from the parts on the LeMond and a step or more up from the OCR2. They only had the L in stock, so they raised the seat & the handle bars & I test rode it. It's very nice. Smooth shifting; quiet freewheel; quiet brakes. I would probably make the brakes a bit tighter, but other than that, it was a nice ride. Amazing how much nicer it is to be on a bike with appropriately wide handlebars; the ones on my old bike are 42cm, and I think these are 46. Not sure, though... will have to check. Anyway, they're a more appropriate width and that alone makes the ride nicer, along with having the shifters integrated with the brake levers.

After riding that, I went back to Mike's to try the LeMond again. It's nice, but its parts aren't as good and it's a little smaller than the XL OCR1, so I decided to get the Giant. There were a couple of other factors; I decided I like the guys at H&F better - they were nicer and they gave me more interesting and useful side information, like confirming that it's best not to shift under high torque and it's best to keep the chain inline, so if you're using the big gear in front, you shouldn't also be using a big gear in back. Then there's the difference in service - Mike's is free for 90 days, then $95 for five years' free tuneups & labor, and for the 90 days (or so), everything else you buy is 50% off (though I assume that doesn't extend to, say, a second bike); H&F's, though, is free tuneups for the life of the bike, including labor on all parts (I assume bought from them, though they offered after I paid the deposit to adjust Rachel's bike and move her seat from my old bike to the new). I just got a better feeling from these guys.

I also picked the Giant because when I asked Rachel whether I should get silver or blue, she said blue. I know they train lawyers for this: I only asked the question because I knew the answer would be what I wanted it to be.

After a while, we rode back over to Hank & Frank's and paid a deposit of $100, fully refundable, just in case I decide I don't like it after all. By that time, it'll be too late to get the sale price on the LeMond, but I'm willing to take that risk because I think the Giant is better and it's certainly a better value for the price. They have to order it from Giant, but it should still be ready in about a week. I think that I'm going to move the bike seat myself, because I want to ride the new one without the seat or the rack a couple of times before I put it on. It only took me about 30 minutes to put it on the old bike, not counting the trip to Mike's to get the extra clamps I needed. I'd forgotten about that. This'll definitely be better in that respect - there are attachment points where I put some of the clamps on the old bike.

Then we were going to meet Dawn & Karolyn at Barney's, so Rachel and I went riding for a bit longer. It was pretty nice; did some little hills up & down a few times, nothing big. Turned for one without much speed and it was too high with her on the back. I wasn't going fast enough and the front wheel was coming up, and then I couldn't get my foot out fast enough, so we fell over. I'm not quite sure who was more scared, Rachel or me, but I don't think I was on the ground for more than about half a second before I turned around (my foot had come out right before we hit) and picked the bike up. Rachel was pretty upset and had a tiny little bit of road rash on her elbow. It, and what I got on my knee, were barely even worth calling road rash, but it sounds more dramatic. It took a little bit for us to be ready to move on again; we talked about how it had been an accident, and I'd thought I could make it, and we weren't going to do any more hills today. Before I put her on the bike, she decided she wanted to walk to the bottom of the hill, so we did, and then we got her in the seat.

Before we started, I reminded her again where we were going and that we weren't going up anymore hills today and told her that after dinner she could ride home on the bike or she could go in the truck with Dawn & Karolyn. She said then that she wanted to go with me, but changed her mind by the time we were finished with dinner. Dawn, of course, is the source of tonight's subject... I told her pretty soon after they met up with us and she was pretty worried. We're both completely fine, but I probably won't be taking any significant hills with Rachel any time soon.

Odd that the first thing I did after ordering a new bike was dump the old one. Can't remember the last time I did that; went over the handlebars on the mountain bike several years ago; broke the (practically brand new) leather strap on a toe-clip when I was in high school - I was coming to a stop near Mining Circle on the Cal campus and the strap was too tight and I started to fall... then my foot was free and I put it down. Didn't notice until later than the strap was broken. The guys at Missing Link were impressed that I'd broken it since it was so new; I think we all agreed that there must have been something wrong with it or it wouldn't have broken.

Also in the flashback category for the day, I bumped into my 10th grade science teacher, Amy Hansen. I still remember her dropping pieces of Sodium into water; she was doing it because she thought it was important for us to see, but she was not entirely comfortable with it. She stood every bit as far as her reach and the little spoon would allow her to, and dropped the Na into the water from as high as she could manage. Neither of those distances was terribly big, of course, because at best she's 5'3". She's principal of Oakland's Skyline High now but seem to have about the same view of public education as we do right now - believes in it, but despairs of its future because of the economy and current views on public funding for it.