Jan 312005

A lot of people died, but it is good to see around 60% of Iraq has an ink stained finger. Though it looks like turnout in the predominantly Sunni areas is low.

Finally killed all the bugs left in the system here at the office, I think. Doing a network rewire and a server reorg is always fun. You just never know what interesting problem is going to crop up. I was mostly trouble free though. I still want a sunny day in exchange. I did manage to get a bit of sun at the beach yesterday with the P’s & dog.

Anna and I were tossing around the idea of driving up to San Louis Obispo on Thursday for the farmer’s market and some camping. After finally seeing Sideways on Friday, that plan will probably cement a bit more. I though the movie was great. It was fun to see a movie feature a place you know well. “Hey! I’ve been tasting there!” I have no idea how Paul Giamatti didn’t get nominated for best actor. Depp was good in Neverland, but Giamatti did such a better job, with a much harder role.

I’m tempted to telefile again this year, as it is free. But with Anna and I joint filing, I don’t know how that would work. Anyway, if you follow this link from the IRS you can use the federal, online version of a lot of programs (Quicken, H&R Block, etc) for free. You have to pay 9 or 10 dollars to efile though. However, don’t you have to pay to efile with the full program versions as well?

You can file your CA taxes for free with the FTB’s CalFile.

Jan 292005

Damn. It is an absolutely gorgeous day out. Everything is green and blooming. The ocean is that fantastic blue-green. And I am inside ripping out network cable. My comp day better be this nice.

Jan 272005

I went to update my transactions today in Quicken and received the following message:

“As of April 19th, 2005, in accordance with the Quicken sunset policy, Online services… Will no longer be available for Quicken 2002 users.

Sunset policy, how quaint. This means I can’t get Quicken to download my bank transactions. The product could work for years as ’02 gives me all the functionality I need. But they are breaking it so I have to buy the next version. Aren’t they sweethearts.

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush’s push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families. But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president’s proposal. “Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?” Gallagher said yesterday. “I don’t know. You tell me.” OK, I will. You did, dumbass.

With the dollar in the crapper, you would think that the govt would be promoting tourism in the US. However a bit back we decided to fingerprint and photograph everyone coming into the country. More than a few got upset over that, and Brazil started doing the same to US travelers. Of course, the US complained. Apparently this was not enough of an attack on these evil people wanting to spent money in our country. Now we are going to start using RFID tags with US-VISIT. RFID tags are about the size of a grain of rice and they transmit an ID number a few feet away. Insane. I think we should just start ear tagging any visitors. Might as well go all the way.

Good ole North Korea is buying Nuclear, excuse me, Nucular bombs from the old soviet block or our best buddies, the Pakistanis. Good thing we focus on trouble makers like Iraq.

Jan 242005

Anna and I saw Finding Neverland at Hazard 7 last night. It was my first time back to Hazard since Madstone died off. They seem to be keeping most of the good things about Madstone, but I wonder if they are going to survive as a regular theatre by charging 9 bucks. There are better seats out there for that price. I just hope they keep doing the latin film fest.

We both enjoyed Finding Neverland. It had a slight tearjerker formula, but I enjoyed the story. My favorite element of the movie was the mix of fantasy and reality. A similar feeling to Amelie or Big Fish in that one person was seeing something that others were not. Great visuals and the acting was well done, some of the better performances by kids I have seen.

Prefab Fab. Residential Architect covers modern prefab pushers and the potential they offer. Good information, but nothing groundbreaking.

Theo Jansen’s animals – immense multi-legged walking critters designed to roam the Dutch coastline, feeding on gusts of wind. I’ve wrote about him before, but wired gives him another look.

Good to see environmental rules and the proliferation of discarded devices push firms to design gadgets that are easier to recycle and safer to dispose of.

Your daily “we are screwing ourselves” report: report warns point of no return may be reached in 10 years, leading to droughts, agricultural failure and water shortages.

Jan 202005

Wow. 6-8 foot waves today, with some 10-15 on the reefs. That just doesn’t happen very often in San Diego. I’m going to head down to the cove at lunch to check it out. If it looks as good as it sounds, I’ll have to run home and get my boogie board & suit.

Bhutan banned tobacco. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to visit the country. At $200/day, I’m going to be saving my pennies for a while though.

The Sustainable Condo is a great site for anyone who is looking at doing a green remodeling or purchasing appliances.

Shag, the modernist/tiki illustrator, shows off his home.

Boo! I wanted the collision of the century: Largest iceberg on Earth runs aground instead of crashing

Jan 192005

The INS, sorry, USCIS, accepted our paperwork and our money. So I guess that’s a good thing. I have a fancy employment card, a travel document on the way (4-6 weeks), digital fingerprinting at the end of the month, and an interview in 6-8 months (though if I was a betting man I would say 8+). All for a super steal of a deal – $910. Ouch. That hurts. I don’t even get a free potato peeler. That price hurts for me, but how would someone on a low income ever manage it?

I went out for a morning run on Monday, fantastic weather we are having. I like the mild Santa Anas – not too dry, but it clears everything up. I did a run through Florida canyon, up around the end of the golf course, and through the other canyons in South Park on my way back to Golden Hill. The rains have made it a really nice run. There were so many bees on trees and shrubs that they almost had a harmonic quality to their shake.

Jan 182005

I thought I would write a little bit on some of the hiking/travel gear I love, since it is part of year-end sales right now.

Mountainsmith Ghost Pack – 3000ci (49L), full suspension, weighs 2 lbs. 1 oz (0.94KG). On sale at Backcountry Gear and Campmor.

I wanted a bag that could be used for travel (local and world, carry-on), as well as hiking. As long as you don’t over-stuff the bag, and have stuff hanging off it, you should have no trouble sticking it in overhead compartments or under a bus seat. But more importantly, it can also be stuffed into the metal baggage size tester at the airport. It is well shaped, and I don’t have to worry about bumping into anyone when I have it on. Side straps and a bungee on the back let you compact the pack even further when you have a smaller load. It has bottom bag straps and side pouches to easily fit tents/rolls/odd shaped items for camping. The panel loading is handy.

Unlike a lot of bags in the 2lb range, the Ghost has a great waist belt and strap system. My shoulders don’t fit very well in V strap systems (like the Granite Gear Vapor Trail), the minute I put a Ghost on, I knew it was for me. I usually try to go fairly light, but even water heavy loads were easy with the suspension system.

The bag is made out of a pretty tough sail material. I’ve smacked it around and there are no signs of wear on the bag. The material is also quite water repellant. We got rained on a few times on the Inka trail, but there was almost no moisture in the bag. The waterproof zipper is a bit sticky, but does the job. The waist and shoulder straps are made of a tough outer mesh, with a bunch of small foam tubes inside. They are comfortable and don’t hold moisture.

I love this pack. I tried a lot of other lightweight packs (most of the Golight brand, Granite Gear packs, MEC, REI brands, etc) before I settled on this one, and I have no regrets. Mountainsmith is also a great company, we managed to loose a sternum strap on our Wraith pack, and they sent us a new one, no charge.

SmartWool/Icebreaker – I own shirts, long underwear, boxers, and lots of socks. Smartwool sale at Backcountry Gear

SmartWool and Icebreaker are made with Merino wool. The smaller, longer fibers of this wool are quite soft and stretchy (no itch). They are great in hot and cold environments (perfect for Peru, freezing nights 13k feet, and boiling in dry desert) and all the technical info on Merino can be found on the Icebreaker site.

Besides being sustainable, warm when wet, etc, they also have another huge advantage over synthetics. No smell. A couple hours in coolmax or polyprop and I stink, badly. Some of the newer synthetics will let me last a day or two before they have a funk. But I wore the same shirt, socks, and underwear for 4 days on the Inka trail with no funk. How? Merino fibers absorb water and are naturally antibacterial. Merino doesn’t dry as quickly as some of the synthetics, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I can wear wet merino if I have to, it will be dry quickly and I will still be warm. In short, I love this stuff for hiking and travel.

Jan 182005

Today is INS day for us. Happy bureaucracy everyone!

I woke up at about 4am this morning. Picked up the cat off the bed, and put him outside. Anna said “What are you doing?” I replied, “He wants avocadoes”.

I have no idea what the hell my dream was about.

I was just thinking about Burning Man the other day. We have been the last three years, and enjoyed it every time. However, I was feeling like this year might be the year to take it off. It costs a lot of money and time. Tickets went on sale early this year, so we are already in the higher ticket price. Anna and I were feeling that maybe this year we spend that money and time on a different trip.

People go to Burning Man for different reasons. Some go to party. Some go to be freaky. Some go for the community. And some (myself included) go to be blown away by the art. I received an email that pointed me towards the bet. This year BORG2 will try to match BM’s art budget, and set up inside the event. Intriguing? Yes. Will we go? Dunno, but it gives me something to chew on.