Dec 202006

Anna and I traveled to frosty Canada late Nov and early Dec. Anna managed to survive -45C with a wind chill, and apparently my blood hasn’t quite thinned to SoCal levels. The visit north was really great, and my family has grown – I’ve got a new brother in law. Congratulations to Brooke and Greg! They make a great couple.

Photos from the trip:
2006.11.25-06 LA to Calgary by air and back
2006.11.27-28 Calgary and an early Christmas
2006.12.01-05 Brooke & Greg’s wedding, visiting family

Nov 012006

(All photos for this post can be found here)
halloween halloween halloween

It was a good thing Anna and I carved pumpkins on Sunday, traffic coming home for Halloween on Tuesday was horrible. When we finally got home we had just enough time to light the pumpkins before the kids started to show up. We placed some candles in the trees and garden, cracked a beer, and ordered a pizza from Luigi’s. We sat back and had a great evening on our porch.

Golden Hill is really slacking on Halloween though. We were the only house on our block handing out candy, and the other blocks weren’t doing a whole lot better. What’s up with that? Golden Hill used to be a bit of a destination for kids. Shape up people!

Oct 312006

(All photos for this post can be found here)
golden hill block party golden hill block party golden hill block party golden hill block party

Scott, Sophie, and the rest of the Cat Dirt Records folks put on another great party last Saturday night – The Golden Hill Block Party featuring ¡Society!, Fifty On Their Heels, The New MotherF*s, Qu’est-ce Que C’est, Gasoline Chicken, DJ Edgartronic and DJ P$. As expected, the concert started off a bit slow because of the early start time. Once it started to get dark, the crowd started to really grow. San Diego needs to get it together and let them have an event past 10 PM, most people don’t show up until 7 or 8.

All the bands did a great job, and there was a good community feel to the event. I was really impressed by the final act, ¡Society!. They were the perfect finish to the evening. They had a lot of energy, the crowd was dancing and loving the performance. Someone uploaded a recording of ¡Society! at the Casbah if you want to get a sample of their sound.

Thanks again to Scott and Sophie!

Oct 292006

Last weekend Anna and I headed out a bit past Alpine on the 8 freeway to try to get a look at the meteor shower. Just outside of Alpine the change was fast and dramatic. It was probably a combination of heading away from the sprawl and light pollution, and climbing a few thousand feet above the moisture of the ocean. Gone was the dark blue sky. It its place was a black sky filled pin holes of light. While we only saw a handful of meteors, it is always nice to be reminded just how amazing the night sky can be.

Oct 262006

Perhaps you are familiar with the voting machines that you will be soon using. Maybe you have heard they might have flaws. If you follow the news, maybe you have even heard the ridiculous specifics. That data is stored in an unprotected Microsoft Access database that can be changed without a trace, that the machines can be opened with hotel minibar keys, and that Diebold has distributed uncertified software at the last minute on electronic voting machines.

Jon Stokes over at Ars has written a great piece on just how screwed up the current electronic voting situation is; How to steal an election by hacking the vote.

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company’s internal computer network—to steal a statewide election? You might think I was crazy, or alarmist, or just talking about something that’s only a remote, highly theoretical possibility. You also probably would think I was being really over-the-top if I told you that, without sweeping and very costly changes to the American electoral process, this scenario is almost certain to play out at some point in the future in some county or state in America, and that after it happens not only will we not have a clue as to what has taken place, but if we do get suspicious there will be no way to prove anything. You certainly wouldn’t want to believe me, and I don’t blame you…In all this time, I’ve yet to find a good way to convey to the non-technical public how well and truly screwed up we presently are, six years after the Florida recount. So now it’s time to hit the panic button: In this article, I’m going to show you how to steal an election.

Now, I won’t be giving you the kind of “push this, pull here” instructions for cracking specific machines that you can find scattered all over the Internet, in alarmingly lengthy PDF reports that detail vulnerability after vulnerability and exploit after exploit. (See the bibliography at the end of this article for that kind of information.) And I certainly won’t be linking to any of the leaked Diebold source code, which is available in various corners of the online world. What I’ll show you instead is a road map to the brave new world of electronic election manipulation, with just enough nuts-and-bolts detail to help you understand why things work the way they do.

Along the way, I’ll also show you just how many different hands touch these electronic voting machines before and after a vote is cast, and I’ll lay out just how vulnerable a DRE-based elections system is to what e-voting researchers have dubbed “wholesale fraud,” i.e., the ability of an individual or a very small group to steal an entire election by making subtle changes in the right places.

Even if you aren’t technically inclined, the article is a good introduction on just how insecure our current situation is.

Bonus link: Quebec bans electronic voting
Bonus bonus link: Foxtrot’s very scary Halloween costume.

Oct 232006

Golden Hill Block Party

It’s that time of year again, folks. Take a break from axing the rising undead and enjoy the The Golden Hill Block Party. Saturday October 28th on 21st Street between B and C streets, 5 PM to midnight. Dress up in your best costume and enjoy the free music.

Saturday too long to wait for ghoulish fun and music? Well rest easy, you can get your fix from the Bride of Monster Mashup.

Oct 162006

Last Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving. I couldn’t put up with the torturous IM’s from up north about turkey dinner and stuffing, so I had a mini-thanksgiving dinner. No one had thawed turkeys in store, so I bought some legs and drum sticks and cooked them up with some yams in the oven. I also cooked up a batch of oven pan stuffing. Since most people either suffer through the boxed kind, or risk food poisoning and overcooked turkey with the stuffing in the bird method, I figured I should share my rough recipe for stuffing.

Oven Pan Stuffing

2 good quality baguettes (rustic french is best, no sourdough), chop into 1″ cubes
1 stick butter for the heart attack version, I like to substitute half with olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
3 small/medium onions, diced
3 teaspoons dried sage
3 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 carton of chicken stock (4 cups)
3 eggs

Rough instructions:
1) If the bread is not stale, put the bread cubes on cookie sheets and cook in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes until crunchy, stir every few minutes.

2) In a pot, saute the celery and onions in half a stick of butter and a few table spoons of olive oil – for the heart attack version, add only the stick of butter. Cook until the onions start to turn clear. Add in all the spices and cook for another minute, then turn off the heat.

3) Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a large baking tray(s), and have a lid or tin foil hat ready for it.

5) Add the carton of chicken stock to the pot. When that cools it down, beat the eggs, then mix them into the liquid.

6) Put the bread cubes in a very large mixing bowl and gradually pour the pot of liquid over them, mixing it all evenly.

7) Put mix in the baking tray(s), cover with lid or tinfoil, and bake for 30 mins.

8) Take the cover off the dish and bake for another 25 mins or so. Pull it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before dishing up.

Serves 6 that really like stuffing. This mix can be a bit on the ‘spiced’ side. For those sensitive super tasters out there, just half the spice measurements.