Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blog Heaven... Travel Log, Pre-Trip Preparation

Travel Log... nothing too deep here!
Marc and I are heading out on my first road trip since leaving Los Angeles & married life. I'm SO totally excited!! We're leaving in a few hours, driving out to 99 and south. Making a left to go over to Visalia - I think Duncan's friend Charles was from Visalia, always heard of it, never thought I'd pass though it. We're staying at Three Rivers tonight and then tomorrow we head into Sequoia National Park.

It has been ages since I've been to the mountains. I miss it so. Michael and I had such wonderful road trips. Speaking of Michael, I finally ran into him. Quite a pedestrian encounter, but shocking all the same. I have to admit, I do check his blog occasionally - the voyeur that I am. He seems to be doing well and that is good to see.

So, today we're off. Giant Sequoias today, then tomorrow King's Canyon. Then two days in Yosemite. I've got to do a little research and figure out some 3-5 miles hikes with views for us to do the next few days. More than anything, I'm looking forward to seeing the lovely landscape that is California. I want to see the hills and the views.

Next summer I hope to climb Half Dome. Marc is game. He's also game to join me on that marathon quest I have - how amazing is that? I think I found a keeper, and so quickly - another truly amazing thing. It's like I'm living under a rain cloud of blessings- but then, it could be in my outlook. I recently read an article about luck. How people see themselves as lucky see most of life as blessings. They look at what is and pluck out the good. Where as those who see themselves as unlucky are more focused, searching for what they want and often do not see it, or any other good thing as it doesn't fall into their myopic focus.

Department of Funny Names

I'm so juvenile - can I be the only one to find it humorous that Obama found someone with an odder name to name to his cabinet?
Obama Names Orszaq to Run White House Budget Office

Deep Thoughts from Dr. Who

Last night Marc and I were watching an episode of Dr. Who. (Boy do I feel geeky admitting that!)
Regardless, they were visiting New York in the 1930's and they were set in Hooverville - the homeless encampment that was there during the great depression.

What struck me was the thought, will this happen again with our current economic crisis? There was a recurring theme - work, no matter how menial the job - or starve. Will it get that bad? Mixed in with these thoughts was the recent NPR report on a farm in Colorado that offered to let the general public come and pick the fields bare after the harvest. 40,000 people showed up and there was some massive amount of food that was harvested and taken home.

The ideas that arise in my head are, "How can we have Americans going hungry when we are still exporting food"? We have more sophisticated food production techniques and we subsidize our crop production - can't we better manage that to bring food to those without in America?

Next, with the housing problems, will we again see Hoovervilles? In the 30's there was a general stoppage of the economy. The engine stopped humming. We are facing a current slow down of the engine now. Seems like we could use this time to improve the fundamentals of our system. What brought us out of the Great Depression was a war. This time I expect that innovation will save us. We have a fantastic base of intelligence in this country - and a culture that fosters innovation. Put money into research, development and solutions. The dot.com brought us a new way of doing business. Find new, cheaper, faster ways to do things and then lead the world with an engine of brain power.

We can do more science research, stem cell discovery, computer innovations, green energy - provide a better value proposition than over-sized, gas guzzling trucks from Detroit. We can make the needed changes. We have the internet and new, cheap ways to innovate. Anyone with access to a library can give themselves new skills, educate themselves and put themselves in a better position.

The people in Hooverville in the show didn't have those resources. They didn't have ways to add skills, or value. Now, with our new economy more people have more means to prosper. I think helping people see the new avenues could help fix our economy.

Monday, November 17, 2008


So yesterday I think I took myself down in Marc's opinion. I requested one television show. Now, I'm slightly anti-TV. I feel like it is a big waste of time, for the most part. I don't like getting hooked on shows, as I'm so drawn to them. I think of TV as somewhere between cigarettes and alcohol: Possibly a little could do you good; must mostly it is addictive and detrimental to your health.
I'm not alone - http://www.livescience.com/culture/081115-tv-unhappy.html

Now, all that said - I did admit to Marc, my enjoyment of a specific show. This show is the equivalent to an umbrella drink you have only on tropical vacations - Wipe Out. It is a bit embarassing, as the show it 100% useless. I learn nothing. I do not feel empathy or compassion for any characters. No, instead I laugh and laugh and laugh.

The way I do justify this, however, is that laughter is the best medicine - see: http://www.bupa.co.uk/health_information/html/health_news/160305laugh.html
So, watching Wipe Out, or going to see Tropic Thunder or, my own personal favorite - Dodgeball: the True Underdog Story - it is all medicinal. Like going to the gym, but for mental health and well being. In the end, I just feel better. I do think my abs get a workout from jerking around all that air. My vocal cords are strained and I feel spent by the end of.

So, Marc, Please, Pretty Please - will you watch Wipe Out with me? It is for our health.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Older Brother Adoration

So, having grown up with Warren, I'm still programmed to have a mild dislike for him. As my brainiack older brother, I find that he is excessively smart and focused. In order to feel better about being in his shadow, I console myself with thoughts like, "He's a geek."
That said, I worked with him at Sunesis years ago and that was a wonderful, wonderful time for me. I did IT work and didn't really understand what was happening in the labs and on the robots - basically the research methods were beyong me.
But, thanks to my big brother, the geek, I finally understand.
Here's a little video he helped to create which blessed me with the light of understanding.
He did all the images of chemical structures, they spin and change from lines to bubbles and back. He both wrote & sells the open source software that runs that and does contract work - I think he occasionally works with lawyers on drug suits. If you're interested: www.delanoscientific.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notes from the spam file

I work for a company that produces appliances to filter email for spam and viruses. I just got an email blast from a Product Manager who, for I think the first time in my 2 years at this company, wanted to report a giant drop in spam.
A company call McColo down in San Jose has been hosting icky sites - ones that allow trafficing of spam money, child porn and other bad stuff, was being monitored by their ISP Global Crossing. Global Crossing pulled the plug on them Tuesday afternoon. The result - a 75% drop in spam volumes. 75%!! Crazy. My own daily spam email went from the standard list of 20+ emails to 4. I was wondering of we had some new crazy-good filter. Nope, we just had less spam.
Marketing sent us this email so that we could answer questions from any confused customers. "No, your appliance isn't broken, they just shut down a big spam hub." Maybe I'll get a converstaion tlie that today... kinda doubt it.
If only that would cause more than a week or two dent in spam...

Here is more information:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last night I took Tsunami out for a walk just about at sunset. From where I walked, I could see Mt. Diablo in the west. The lighting gave a perspective of the distance and clouds such that they appeared to be a roof over Mt diablo. The colors moved from cloud white to tween pink as the mountain lost its details and became a dark silhouette on the horizon.

On the Eastern Front, the moon was coming up. It appeared fully if not almost. It glowed. With the sun on my right, the moon reflecting its light on my left, I paused to think. All that light bouncing off the moon is light that came from the sun and didn't get stopped by our planet. Earth's shadow is so microscopic on the planetary scale. While I think we're so big and my ego feels like we take up so much space, in reality we don't. A lunar eclipse happens - I've seen several in my life, but they aren't a regular occurrence, as I would think they should be. The moon is small compared to Earth, and yet it rarely finds itself in our shadow.

We are much smaller than we'd like to think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lovely Sunday

Yesterday was one of the better Sundays on record.
It wasn't a Sunday I could have imagined enjoying 10 years ago, when Sunday was for tending hangovers and recounting the events of Saturday night. This Sunday found its glory in being a day filled with exactly what I wanted to do; a manifestation of my priorities and values.
Unlike years past, I awoke around 8 AM and was out on the open road by 8:30. Marc and I had an urban hike on the morning agenda. We left the house and went south, then west, past the ball park and around along the Embarcadero, stopping for breakfast at Ghirardelli Square.

Most of this route - said like "root" if you're British - I knew by heart, having walked it so many times. However I didn't know exactly where Ghirardelli square was. Marc, who is not a long time San Francisco resident, said he'd lead me there. I have to admit, I had my doubts as we walked the full length of the tourists district. When we passed the Cannery, I was pretty sure we were going to have to double back. Instead, it appeared like a mirage, just as Marc promised. As we climbed the steps, we passed McCormick's & Kuletos' where Adam had taken me to dinner over 12 years ago. I never could figure out where we had eaten and was thrilled to finally learn where it was.

We had agreed to see what we could find for food at Ghirardelli Square. I had hoped we would find Fritz's opens so we could enjoy their crepes & fries, but it was no longer there. We dined at Lori's Diner which was exceptionally mediocre. Tsunami did get to come in the restaurant with us, which was nice and my eggs were good.

Before long we were off again, through Aquatic Park, up over Fort Mason, down along the waterfront of the Marina Green and then to Crissy Field. We walked down & back, then stolled through the Palace of Fine Arts. For the last few months, I had done a number of urban hikes in my walking training. This was the first long hike that Marc had kept me company. He, like me, enjoyed nearly the same thing - watching how the buildings move as one walks past, drinking in the views, mocking the tourists. Having a companion for this walk was such a treat.

After tackling Filmore Street and passing the local color to be found in Hayes Valley & the Civic Center, we made our way home completing a solid 11.5 miles. We were beat. Marc took a short snooze while I packed up my things. We hopped in the car and headed east out to the Country Home. With a quick stop at Whole Foods, we landed at Marc's place with food & provisions for the coming week. We unpacked and I was left to cook in the kitchen.

I boiled up a chicken, picked the meat from the corpse for snacking and boiled down the stock further to have for future soups. The main dinner was a chili with squash & chard. I was quite a prize, having not carefully read the recipe. I was 2 cans of beans short as well as a can of crushed tomatoes. Marc kindly ran out to get those, while I kept cooking, only to realize that the squash I was peeling & dicing was not the butternut that the recipe called for. I simply minimized the amount of squash and then realized I was short on ground cumin. So I had to spend 10 minutes grinding the cumin seeds into ground cumin.

After dinner we enjoyed reading hour. Such a lovely day. Walking, cooking and reading. I tended my health, I fed my body and stimulated my mind. Such simple pleasures, I wonder how it took me so long to enjoy their richness.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Two Ideas for the next election

The apparent passing of Prop 8 has put a damper on the happiness I felt with the Obama victory. How can so many of my fellow Californians be so prejudiced?

But more than that, how can it be that we only need 50%+1 vote to change the state constitution? That is also totally amazing. Women make up more than 50% of the population, maybe we should change sufferage to only women? We'd just need that 50% +1 to remove men's suffrage. So I think we should put two measure on the ballot: 1.) Change the constitution so that it takes a 60% of the vote to change the constitution and 2.) Introduce a marriage equality constitutional measure to allow any 2 people, over the age of 18 to wed. You know, that really should be over the age of 21 - getting married at 18 is just silly. Maybe 30 would be the best... I was unable to get it right at the ripe age of 28. But fix both problems with one fell swoop.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I am so happy. McCain is about to concede defeat.
We really are seeing the end of the horrific Bush years.


Less than 100 years ago, women weren't allow to vote. At that time we were working our way to citizenship from chattel. The long road hasn't been easy and we're still plugging away. Not helped by those who think that discrimination is (choose one of the following): Non-existent, our fault (be it that we are actually inferior or our actions simply lead to so be paid less), justified.

Today we get to vote. I encourage everyone to go out and vote. In California we have two very important measures to defeat: Prop 8 & Prop 4. They strip away rights of our citizens. The conservative minority keeps trying to make our society more hateful and restrictive. We must go out and vote against these two measures. Prop 8 removes the right of gay people to marry. Prop 4 requires that minors get signed permission from their parents to have an abortion - leaving our most vulnerable population stuck with back alley abortions or unwanted pregnancies.

Also, we have the chance to vote for president. We can take steps to move our country to a more positive vision - one where we care for the environment; where we provide for those with less; where we might give people a shot at health insurance; where we education our children instead of leading them into useless wars; where we join the global community instead of trying to dominate it.

We can get on a better path. Please go out and vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Better Money Management

I feel fantastic. Finally I have vindication...

Since I've been aware, I have seen the Republican Party run up massive amounts of government debt with out of control spending and their lets give the rich a free ride tax policy. I'm not the only one who sees it that way.