Friday, December 31, 2004


It's the New Year. I've not really made any resolutions like losing weight or anything, but I've decided to make some changes.

As opposed to the vague resolutions of years past, I've decided to be specific.

The first change revolves around my diet. I know I eat too much, but I don't really know how much I eat. So I'm going to start journaling what I eat. And perhaps that will motivate me enough to actually modify my diet. I figure I'm eating an average of 3300 calories a day. And while my 250# frame seems to absorb that just fine, I'd rather not have a weight that can be labeled as 1/8 ton. Granted, 200 pounds (a weight I'll only achieve if I get very sick) is still 1/10 of a ton, but at least we're talking double digits there (10 has two digits...). Besides, the number 250 just seems too large for anyone who isn't a professional athlete.

The other change is to become more active. Ok, that's still a vague resolution. But I've got a plan. My first goal is to race in sprint triathlon the Beaver Freezer. I'm not sure what my goal time is, but I figure I should be able to beat 1h30min pretty easily. Perhaps I'll shoot for 1h20min. And then I'll look for other triathlon's in the area, perhaps one at Hagg lake.

And, I hope to race in a few mountain bike races. I'd like to find someone with whom I can race, but people haven't really been all that excited. If I can get someone to join me, I'll do the Spring Thaw in Ashland at the end of April. That's the race that got me all excited about riding a singlespeed.

Since I'll be logging all my food (starting tomorrow I guess), I'll also be logging my exercise. I found a web page that not only has a bunch of good articles about triathlons, including a nice training schedule for someone who's going from couch to sprint triathlon, they also offer a free service for logging your exercise. It's pretty trick. I might log stuff there as well.

The exercise is really just an excuse to use the new heart-rate monitor I got for xmas.


Mary and I went to the beach for the week after Christmas. As opposed to driving into work every day, I've been working from Seaside for the past few days. There's a little coffee shop, Espresso Connection, that has free Wi-Fi.

The italian sodas are tasty, if a bit expensive. But I figure that's the price I pay for working from the coast.

There were some interesting characters that came through the shop in the past week. Here were a few of choice quotes:

"It's an ice machine, I don't know why it's spitting out so much damn heat." (Someone obviously didn't pay attention in physics class.)

Two people were complaining about money: "I've got 4 TV's, but that doesn't mean they're nice."

No explanation needed:

Q: "You ever get your cigarettes in the mail?"

A: "No, I've got 20 cartons in the mail. They're all lost in the mail."

And I wasn't sure what to make of the last one:

"He didn't need to be drinking a beer while having that radioactive stuff put into him."

Monday, December 20, 2004


For as rainy a reputation as Oregon has, we've been having a great winter. Though the skiers would probably disagree - here it is less than a week before Xmas and Mt Hood only has 30+ inches of snow, Bachelor weighs in at a whopping 48. Not good. In fact, pretty piss-poor. I'm glad I've not been so keen on skiing lately b/c I'd be crushed.

Anyway, the weekend was beautiful. I took my new singlespeed into the hills on Saturday. I have a newfound respect for those blokes who ride singlespeed the entire time. I did a loop in McDonald forest I've done dozens of time, and I couldn't make it up that little section of switchbacks. Usually, when riding uphill, I can stand on the pedal and my weight will be more than enough to push the pedal down - making me go forward. No longer, with the 2:1 ratio, I had to muscle the pedals around on the hill, and my legs weren't up to the task on the steeper section. Usually, the only place I walk my bike is in Moab, on 30 degree slopes.

Needless to say, I'm gonna have to get out more often on that bike. I don't think I want to do any races with it, but I do want to be able to actually ride with my wife. At this point she'd just pedal past me - probably gloating. I know she'd pass me b/c she's ridden up that stuff before.

But, needless to say, it was a great ride. It began in the fog, and as I gained elevation in the forest the sun started to shine through the trees and the fog - making cool shadows. Soon enough I was above all the fog and in the sun. I wished I'd had a camera, but that would have meant more weight - and I was barely making it up most of the incline anyway. The ride down really showcased the difference between the plush full-suspension ride offered by my Epic, versus the old, bottom-of-the-line-when-it-was-new, front shock and hard tail Raleigh M-600. The latter feels more like riding a jack-hammer when coming down gravel roads.

That evening I made egg nog - from scratch. I love egg nog, but I've never actually made it before. I took a recipe out of the Joy Of Cooking and modified that. It was the standard recipe that had you beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold them into the rest of the ingredients. I used half-and-half instead of cream, and of course, only the freshest of organic eggs. The result was a very light nog, a little too light - the liquid would usually drain out of the egg white foam while I drunk it, leaving behind a tasty, but frustratingly difficult to drink, foam. I think the next time I make egg nog I'll only beat the whites (yeah, beat whitey - so many ways to take that) until they have a good body - but not to the point of even soft peaks forming. I think that would result in an easier to drink, and richer, egg nog. By Sunday, the foam had dissipated, and I was left drinking "flat" egg nog. It was still very tasty, but not as thick as the store bought egg nog.

On Sunday, Mary and I again celebrated the beautiful weather and hiked in the forest for a couple of hours before the sun went down.

What a wonderful winter...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Latest Engaging Thoughts

I've had some Engaging Thoughts you may or may not find interesting. The Bush administration is behind two of them - and the result of a third.

privitizing social security

school teaches that slaves had good lives

national parks service sells book with biblical explanation for grand canyon

the rapture index and the election

YAFL (yet another frivolous lawsuit)

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Gads, nearly 3 years ago I received a unicycle for my birthday. The party was rad, Mary set it all up as a surprise down at the beach house. Best 30th birthday party ever.

Anyway, I got a unicycle because I'd had the hankering for doing something new and different, and unicycling always seemed cool. This from the guy who thinks telemarking, single speeds, and the hammered dulcimer are all just the neatest things since sliced bread.

The actual goal of the unicycle wasn't just to ride around the neighborhood. The two little girls that lived across the street from the duplex Mary and I used to rent could do that. They were always taunting me, riding by on one wheel. I had to learn.

Plus, years ago I'd seen some footage of Kris Holm riding around the North Shore on Vancouver Island, B.C. Now, if you don't know about the North Shore, the bikers up there decided that single-track just wasn't interesting enough. Instead, they modified the terrain by adding bridges made of 2x4's (and I mean that the bridge was 4 inches wide), teeter totters, huge drops, and all sorts of crazy structures. These trails would be hard to walk, let alone ride with two wheels, forget about riding a unicycle. Well, Kris rides this stuff with his unicycle - I saw footage of him taking a 6 foot drop. Apparently he did not suffer damage to the family jewels.

Just take a look at some of these pictures of Kris from his 'best of' album: tall bridge, Bhutan, wire bridge, santa cruz, hand rail, vegas baby, and prow wall.

Wow. Seriously, take a look at all of those pics.

Anyway, I decided that my goal would be to get good enough to do some basic mountain unicycling (aka muni). And I would define success as being able to ride up Bald Hill.

Well, it's been two years, and my longest, unaided, ride was about 30 feet. And I haven't been on the unicycle since early spring.

Mary was talking to someone who's husband rides with the local unicycle (and juggling) club. Actually, he's so into it, that he got a bunch of guys from his work to start unicycling at lunch and doing muni on the weekends. So, I'm going to give the club a shot. I'd figured it was a bunch of kids, but now that older farts (like myself) do it I'm not so intimidated.

Google Library

As you may have heard, Google is going to digitize the contents of several libraries and make them publicly available. While this is an admirable task, I think the press it has received is a little too much.

The announcements often talk about the idea that the public will really win from this, that it sort of turns copyright on its head - wrestling control away from the publishers and giving it back to the people. And others think that Google will just increase its level of copyright infringement.

The reality is you probably don't care about the books they'll digitize.

You will only get full access to books whose copyright has lapsed. Copyright has only lapsed on books that are 75 years old or so. Remember the Mickey Mouse copyright battle in the courts (aka Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act? Well, it keeps books in the hands of the publishers. Most people really don't care about books that were published at the turn of the century. Seriously, when was the last time you picked up a book back then?

Any queries that hit newer books (the ones you read) you'll get a couple lines of context, which is nice, but it's not turning copyright on its head or somehow making the books available to you and me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Santa Clara

I had the pleasure of working at Intel's Santa Clara site all last week. Our customer wanted some re-assurance that they were getting the level of support and focus they were hoping for. So I hopped on the plane and flew down Monday morning.

This was my first time in SC with a car rental. Normally I just went for the day and took the shuttle that provided door-to-door service (the two doors being the charted-Jet-center location and the entrance to SC12 (one of Intel's buildings). I don't have a Hertz Gold Card, so I had to hoof it a quarter mile to the building where Hertz kept their service people.

Driving in SC is just a bit busier than driving in Portland. All the main streets are a minimum of two lanes each direction, and the main thoroughfares are actually 4 lanes each direction. You can take U-turns at many intersections, and traffic is (of course) worse.

I made it to Intel's building just fine, and I even saw the hotel where I'd stay (all of 2 minutes from SC12 - an easy walk if it weren't for the 8 lane road you'd have to cross).

I worked a bunch, and hung out with Bill one night.

Work progressed fairly well, we got some results for the customer and a new release for them to play with.

I was booked on the 4:30 flight out, and since the Jet Center is all of 2 miles down the freeway from Intel, I gave myself plenty of time (30 minutes) to get there. I didn't count on the fact that my directions were not to the Jet Center, but were instead to the main airport. So I took the exit toward the airport and drove in circles - looking for any sign of the jet center. Of course the Jet center was nowhere to be found, and a couple of the people I asked had no idea what I was talking about. Long story short, I arrived 7 minutes late and lost my seat.

Great. Thursdays are packed and I wasn't able to get on the later flight. I broke the news to Mary and back to the hotel I went.

Now it's Friday morning, and I'm here at the Jet Center 20 minutes before I can even check in. And what happens? The place is fogged in and flights are delayed at least an hour. sigh...

By driving around SC I've been exposed to new things and I have a few observations.

1) all the parking places are way too small

You'd think that in California, land of the car, they'd make the parking spots large enough to accommodate the mid-sized sedan I drove. Yet most every parking lot I had the pleasure of navigating had about 2 feet of clearance on either side. That's barely enough space to open the door and stick my foot out.

2) apparently SUVs aren't as popular in SC as they are in Oregon.

Especially at the parking structure at SC12, but in general, I saw very few SUVs. Most people seemed to actually be driving regular cars. I found this very refreshing.

3) many many many radio stations

This is obvious. The Bay Area just has a ton of radio stations. I never get to listen to them when I'm in SC because I'm usually working. Driving around affords me the luxury of checking out all the stations. I found myself listening Usher, popular Mexican, techno, and, of course, KQED. I've always liked that name (read the definition of QED). I got accustomed to the radio stations while at grad school, and have missed them ever since I went back to Portland - and especially now that I live in Corvallis. While a great city to live in, Corvallis boasts only about 5 radio stations.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I get all these ideas of what to blog about, usually while I'm on the pot or while driving my long commute, or any of a variety of times where I don't have the computer handy. And, "no," I don't use my wireless laptop while on the crapper, but that's not a bad idea.

Miles has taken to carrying a little audio recorder to take messages, which is kinda dorky. Plus, next to his cellphone and pocket PC, it seems a bit redundant. Whatever, that's not for me. Plus, I'd have to listen to myself, and I don't like that - I'm lucky other people are nice and pretend to listen to me.

My latest idea was to blog about my xmas wish list, but that seemed even more vain and self-absorbed than normal. So I'll have to slide the gift ideas in subtly. Like, if I were to get something to record voice messages, I'd probably go whole-hog and get the iRiver 799 because it plays mp3s as well (and can now be found for under $200). Though the N-10 looks real slick and is less than half the size.

I'm still looking for good programming blogs, but it turns out that most of the good programmers spend their time programming, or if they've got enough ideas, writing books like Modern C++ Design or C++ Template Metaprogramming. Maybe if I spent more time programming and less time looking for blogs on programming I could write a book. (BTW, both books are on my wish list).

About the best thing I've found is USENET. I've been reading usenet for years - before the Web was even around (not long before). I read the emacs newsgroups (, gnu.emacs.gnus, gnu.emacs.sources), the C++ group (comp.lang.c++.moderated), and occasionally comp.lang.tcl. The C++ one generally has some pretty big names on it and the quality of the information is relatively high - especially when Andrei or Dave Abrahams writes.

The one thing I've gotten really accustomed to is RSS. I wish all web pages would provide an RSS (atom, whichever) feed so I wouldn't have to manually check them for updates. I really appreciate the "pull" model it provides, as opposed to the barrage of email and spam I get in my inbox. I think it'd probably work well in the work setting as well.

But enough of blogging, must get back to "reality."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Movie Review: The Contender

Mary and I rented The Contender last weekend. We knew only what the back of the DVD case said about it, and forgot all of that before we even watched it.

Great movie. It seemed kind of slow, but totally kept us enthralled. The character development was good, the acting great. All in all, most definitely worth the rent.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I finished the singlespeed bike. Yay.

I even test rode it: just a little jaunt to the gym and back. Both times I started biking I immediately tried to shift up as soon as I hit a certain RPM. Of course there was no shifting to be had.

I did not feel super efficient riding w/out the shifters, and I certainly didn't notice the lack of weight. The bike feels different enough from my full-suspension Epic just because it's a hard-tail, with a 7 year old bottom of the line front shock, and narrow handlebars. Oh, and the pedals are still my Speedplay Frogs, so my feet got sore b/c I was just wearing normal tennis shoes.

So, if someone wants to get me a pair of $12 platform pedals (metal please), or, if Santa wants to be real nice, the crankbrothers mallet c (color: anthracite).

Friday, December 03, 2004


Over Thanksgiving I got to eat Ambrosia. I've always loved this salad for some reason, it's probably the marshmallows.

My mother-in-law made it with yogurt which was yummy. She didn't put in any marachino cherries, which I missed. But I can't turn my nose up at Ambrosia.

The other interesting food I recently became aware of is the persimmon. Last year we got some in our food box. I didn't really pay them much mind last year, but I've been eating them up this year. My latest finding was a persimmon salad:

slice 1 persimmon into wedges
slice 1 tomato into wedges
tear up spinach or arugula
toss with your favorite savory dressing


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hidden Rose Apple

Wow, I picked this apple up from the co-op a couple of days ago. It's a variety I've not seen before and it was on sale.

As you can see from this picture

it's a pretty apple, and it happens to smell nice as well. So I bought a couple and didn't really think about it.

Today I bit into the apple, looked down and saw a bright, pomegranate red interior! Amazing! What appears to be a normal apple is actually hiding a vibrant interior. Really cool. The apple tastes pretty good, but visually, this has to be my favorite apple.

It reminds me of my first experience with a blood orange.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bike Update

The Phil Wood folks took a look at the rear hub, and a piece of the pawl had chipped off and become lodged in the freehub mechanism (thereby disabling it). Once they'd removed the chip, everything worked just fine. They followed through with their agreement and have sent the wheel to Peter White (who hasn't yet received it). I appreciate the special service that Brent @ Phil Wood has given me, and I'm sorry I won't be riding a Phil Wood (except that it failed on me). Soon, soon I should have my rear wheel back.

But, in the meantime, I've begun the transformation of my Raleigh M500 to a single speed. The bike is 6 or 7 years old, and I like how it fits, so I hope it'll work well as a single speed. The first night I worked on it I got most of the components stripped off, the recycled cassettes were torn apart. I removed my old cassette, put on the spacers and one of the old 16 tooth rings. One set of the spacers didn't quite mesh with themselves, so I filed down some of the stubs - now they're a little off in a different spot. But, the rear cog is fairly secure. The bar-ends came off, which allowed me to see that I'd bent the end of my handlebar (it'll work just fine, the bend just made it hard to remove the shifters).

I ran to the bike shop to get some new grips, some new brake cables (old ones were original) and housing, and some shorter chainring bolts. Everything worked well, except the chainring bolts were the wrong size. Today they traded me for the properly sized bolts and I'll get the crank put back on tonight (with the 32 tooth chainring). Because of the mixup, the shop guy gave me the two replacement chain rivets for my Shimano chain (of course you cannot reuse the rivet on a Shimano chain... but everyone other chain allows it). All I have left to do tonight is actually shorten the chain, finish putting the chainring back on the crank, the crank back on the bottom bracket, and make sure everything is aligned properly. Woo-hoo! A new bike.


I'm not much of a shoe person, I buy a new pair of shoes every year or so. Seriously, I'm still wearing the shoes that I wore on my honeymoon - and they were old then. And my tevas were bought just a week before, and they still look almost new.

Ever since we moved into the house I've wanted a pair of slip on shoes that I can leave by the front door to keep my feet dry and clean while I take out the trash or get the mail. But since I've got large feet, the slip-ons never seem to fit. I still can't figure that out. People make a shoe long enough for a size 13 foot, but don't make the opening large enough for my foot to get in.

Over the summer I almost bought a pair of keen sandals, but they didn't quite fit. I'm waiting for the size 14 to be available. They seem ultra comfortable, and do provide the toe protection to help out against stubbing. I'll just wait for spring to roll around to buy them. Besides, I've already bought my pair of shoes for the year.

While down at Moab I saw a bunch of people wearing some funny looking sandals:

I ran across the vendor's tent at the 24 hours of Moab and one of the guys convinced me to try on a pair (it wasn't that hard). It turns out that the Crocs are really comfortable - I recommend checking them out if you're in the mood for a sandal that sets you apart. Except for when I was riding my bike, I wore them the entire time I was in Moab. And, they're warm enough to wear in the winter here in Corvallis.

And, no, I did not get the sage-colored sandals. It was black all the way for me. The sage ones looked large enough to be a Cadillac.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Proof - this web page is 77% Good

This site is certified 77% GOOD by the Gematriculator

or, if you prefer:

This site is certified 23% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Home Improvement

This past weekend we worked on the home. Minor things for most people, but I rarely do this kind of thing. The plan was to finish the study.

Mary had re-arranged the room, unpacking my books, buying me a ficus, putting up some framed pictures and all. It was looking real nice. The big project was the closet.

The closet had only one shelf (about 6' high) and one bar from which to hang clothes. It was a huge waste of space as the closet is 4 feet deep. So, we bought a closet corner organizer (C11), and some wire shelving (super slide - see this pic). Sounds easy, eh?

Before we did anything, we painted the closet and trim because they were looking ratty. And easy item.

Well, the first problem was that the cable modem installation was horrible. The Comcast dude just screwed the face-plate to the drywall, which promptly popped out (a good year and a half ago). Of course there's no power near that wall, so the coax cable is stretched across the room to the nearest power outlet. So my first task was to put in a proper outlet for the coax cable, as well as a power outlet. I did want to move the coax outlet b/c currently existed outside the location of the corner unit I was about to install.

Installing outlets in the walls (of the wood-framed walls, don't get me started on the exterior walls of our house which are poured cement) means cutting into the walls, always a scary prospect. I'd only done it once before - at the Portland house, and dad was telling me what to do each step. This time I was taking it on by myself - and I'd have to take the fall when I drilled through the bedroom wall ruining Mary's nice paint job. I measured 3 times, triple checked that the lines were all square and level, and began drilling and sawing holes in the wall. When I did the same thing in the Portland house I made the hole a little too large (the crumbly lathe & plaster contributed) and the face plate didn't quite cover the hole. Now I find out you can get oversized face plates. This time I was super careful about getting the hole just the right size, and I did. The next step was actually getting the wires up to the newly cut holes, which meant visiting the crawlspace.

I'm not a big fan of spiders, so it took me a little while to work up the nerve to crawl around under the house. Luckily, spiders weren't too keen on the crawlspace either. I crawled under the house and noticed that the cable installation dude missed drilling through the wall of the next room by about 2 inches - which just added to my annoyance at him. I wanted the power/coax on the other side of a stud in the wall - which meant I had to drill a new hole through the floor. After measuring several times, I put the drill bit to the underside of my house, and prayed I wouldn't drill up through the beautiful new hard-wood floors we'd just installed (er... had installed by someone else). After blinking the wood shavings out of my eyes (I know, I should have been wearing safety glasses) I looked up and saw daylight, daylight that was obviously coming from the two outlet holes I'd cut. yay!

Next I had to pull the coax cable out of the first hole and push it up through the new one I'd made. Of course the end connector was too large for the hole, so it got stuck and I had to cut the end off. This meant another trip to the hardware store. Do you know the difference between an RG6 and RG59 cable? Even knowing the difference, can you recognize one on sight? Me neither, but I had to choose which end connectors to buy. When in doubt, buy both. So I did. The hardware store dudes didn't know the difference, so they were no help, and my internet connection was down because I'd cut the cable myself - so the internet wasn't an option. I looked at the different connectors, they appeared the same - except for the size of the hole through which some of the cable passed. I looked at the cable and chose the smaller of the two connectors (RG59) and tried it out. It worked no problem. Turns out, the only difference between the two cable types is the amount of shielding, and the connectors can more or less be interchanged.

Now on to the electrical outlet. I just had to find an existing power cable to tap into, preferably the same one as the other outlets in the study. Of course, since this is a new-fangled house and has no basement, there were no cables to be seen in the crawlspace below the house (and it's a crawlspace - I barely fit underneath one section of pipes). What now?

The obvious choice is the attic-space, and as much as I didn't want to go under the house, I didn't want to wade through the sea of blown insulation, risking putting a foot through the ceiling in one of the rooms. So I called dad, who pointed out that I should check the electrical panel to see if the wires go up or down. Up. Damn.

So I poke my head into the space above the ceiling and look around for a while. No spiders, but lots of yellow insulation. I look right around myself and determine that I really don't want to dig through the stuff to try to find existing power lines - because I have no guarantee I'll even find them. And, even if I find one above the closet, it doesn't solve the problem of the outlet we want to put in the middle of the living room floor. I punt on the issue, figuring that the real solution is to add a new breaker or two to the panel, put in conduit outside the garage (where the panel is) leading to an opening in the foundation, to route power under the house - from which I can easily wire the closet - and the still-to-be-found-and-installed outlet in the living room floor.

Whew, lots of work for just two little holes, and only one is finished.

I patch up the old hole, assemble the corner unit, put it against the wall and find out the walls aren't square. Damn-it! The unit needs to be anchored to the wall (preferably a stud), so I figure I'll just add some shims to fill the gap so I have a nice strong connection. Of course the unit is in two pieces (top and bottom). I get the bottom all anchored in the wall, shims and everything. I then put the top half on, and it doesn't fit. One of the (three) supports is about half an inch out of alignment. son-of-a-bianchi! Long story short, I screwed in one of the shelves on the bottom half 1/2 inch off of where it's supposed to be done. I fix that and voila - the wall is suddenly square. The rest of the shelving goes up quickly. I seem to make more work for myself than I accomplish sometimes.

In the middle of all of this, our kitchen sink decides to no longer let water flow at more than a trickle. Huh? I begin to dismantle the entire sink - when Mary points out some easier places to start. We take the spout and knobs off and find a bunch of light turquoise sediment floating in the fixture. The sediment has the texture and look of the light green necco wafers I used to eat as a kid. I have no idea where it comes from, but after cleaning the stuff out, the water flows normally. whew.

On to the wire shelving (this is actually Tuesday b/c I'm too slow to do everything on a weekend). The wire shelving is actually pretty trick. You install the hang track across the top, and from that you just hang the standards, and hook in the shelf tracks and shelves. Installing the hang track was a little bit of a pain because I had to cut the track so that the pre-drilled holes could be lined up with the studs. And, of course, my stud finder was telling me the studs were 3.5 inches wide, so I worried about getting that all dialed in. You're supposed to secure the standards with a single screw - but it feels solid without that, and I'd like to have the option of easily moving the standards if I don't like the initial setup.

Now I've got a new closet. One with nearly 5 feet of hanging space (both shirt length and pant length) and at least triple the shelf space (21 feet) I originally had. I can easily add another 9 feet of shelf space. Hurrah!

The next task is actually putting my stuff away.

Friday, November 19, 2004

English Drink Cabinet

Mary and I purchased our first real piece of furniture about a month back, a 1930's English drink cabinet. I've posted some pictures below (here, here, and here).

It is probably the first piece of furniture that caught the attention of both of us. It's pretty plain and simple from the outside. The cabinet has a nice curly maple veneer, but other than that it is just a box with legs. But when you open up the top you're dazzled by sparkling mirrors on a shelf that rises up to greet you. It's pretty slick. The top portion that sticks up (you can see it in the second pic) has a couple little shelves with little metal clips that can hold short drink glasses by the stems. Two of the doors on the bottom open up to trays that slide out. Each tray is broken up into 3 rows, which hold 3 bottles of booze perfectly. And, original to the cabinet, in each of the doors there are 3 metal olive skewers. All-in-all, a very unique and interesting piece of furniture.

My parents gave me a crystal decanter they're not using, so we can look real classy when offering someone some brandy. Though I think we'll probably put port in the decanter as neither I nor Mary really care for brandy.

Now I need a drinking jacket and a pipe...

Bottom doors open. Nice rack for the alcohol (JD, two types of Tanquerray, 3 scotches, and a few others). Note the olive skewers.

Cabinet top open. Not what you'd expect, eh?

This is the cabinet while closed. Nice wood, but kind of plain.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bike Notes

So the rear wheel is off to Phil Wood. They should have received it today (gotta check out my tracking number to see if it really did get there - I've had some bad luck with the USPS). The deal is that they'll examine it first, then send the wheel off to Peter White, who'll rebuild the wheel using a Chris King rear freehub (ISO disc, 36 hole, stainless steel hub shell) and new spokes. Phil Wood said they'd cover the cost of the rebuild (though I don't know if this includes new spokes or not, nor do I know about shipping). With any luck, I'll get a little money back because the Chris King hub costs less about $60 than the Phil Wood.

The hope is that I'll have better luck using a mesh gear system as opposed to the pawls. I sure hope so because I'm tired of this.

Thus, my nice Epic is out of commission for now. I could throw the rear cassette on the old rim and hub, but I'm afraid I'll just kill that hub - and I may have someone who's interested in buying it. Are you?

The next task on my list is to convert my old mountain bike to a singlespeed. I'm doing this on the cheap because Mary will kill me if I spend money on a bike I don't really use. The first steps are to remove the shifters and front derailer. You keep the rear derailer to use as a cheap chain tensioner. The after-market chain tensioners (surly, convert and others) cost upwards of $50, and are viewed as kind of kludgy. I figure, if I'm going kludgy, I might as well use the old derailer to save the money. Then you need to get a single rear cog lined up perfectly with the chain ring you wish to use. Again, the plan is to go cheap. I called up a couple of local bike shops until one actually was friendly enough (hurrah Cyclotopia!!!!) to see if they had any old Shimano cassettes in the trash. You see, if you bust apart the cassette you can get your hands on all the spacers that were holding the cogs at perfectly in alignment and use them to hold your single cog in perfect alignment with the chainring of choice. I'll probably start out with a 32-17 tooth combination, which is a little easier to pedal than the 2-1 ratio that's suggested as a good starting point. Then I use my chain tool to take out a bunch of the extra links in the chain to achieve proper tension and I'm ready to go!

If I invest any money in the bike it'll be for a set of platform pedals (I've still got the Speedplay Frogs on - which are a pain to use for just putzing around town) - estimated cost $10-15. If I actually ride the bike much, I'll probably need a new rear cog because the Shimano cogs are shaped specifically to make shifting easier - and you don't want your singlespeed to ever shift! A Shimano BMX freehub cog costs $5 (woo-hoo!) And then the luxury item would be some new handlebar grips because the other ones have worn through to the metal. At that point, I'd have a decent singlespeed that would work just as well for riding around town - total cost $30.

Now, ideally I'd like to get into riding the singlespeed bike, and I'll want a "clean" solution that wouldn't use a chain tensioner. The only practical way to do this (without buying a new frame or welding) is to get one of these nifty rear hubs: Eric's Eccentric ENO.. I'd then build a wheel around that, shorten the chain a little more, and have a beautiful singlespeed. I'd even be able to have a fixed gear if I wanted. It's a great Xmas gift idea!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post Election Thoughts

So, it was kind of depressing to wake up this morning and hear the news. I had figured Bush would win, but was rather hopeful Kerry could pull it out. It's still possible for Kerry to win, but nobody really believes he will. The vote throughout the country was pretty heavily Republican, so I guess we get what we deserve.

I voted for a couple people in Oregon that won, but basically everything else that I voted for lost (except for the anti-SAIF measure).

Very saddening.

What's seems odd is that Oregon voted primarily Democratic, yet the ballot measures that passed (in my opinion) are rather conservative.

It will be an interesting 4 years. Either the Democrats will be able to say, "told you so" when things go to hell in a handbasket, or the Republicans can say, "we were right all along." Unfortunately, the policies the President sets doesn't really have an effect today, it has an effect years down the line. It's kind of like global warming - which, hey, Bush doesn't think exists either.

Time to drown my woes in some chai.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Yay, it's election day!

I pay attention to a couple of blogs, and several of them have said they'd be blogging live on November 2nd! How silly is that?

Hey y'all! I'm not blogging live today!

I already voted, so perhaps it's time to watch a good movie.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Mary and I voted this past weekend. This election (as everyone is predicting) is an especially important election. We've got quite a few ballot measures in Oregon, some of which are rather confusing. And, of course, Kerry vs. Bush is on everyone's mind.

The most confusing was measure 37 - which deals with zoning and what the government has to pay you. It sounded like you could look at the potential history of the zoning of your property, and if you "suffered" a loss of potential reduction in property value, the state would have to give you the difference. Voted no.

Measure 36 is popping up all over the country, and Bush is pushing for it as well - defining marriage as one man one woman. There were the most hilarious arguments "in favor" of measure 36 - you just have to read them. A bunch of people got all pissy about those positions for the measure. All I have to say is: if you're stupid enough to believe the argument, then you get what you deserve. It's paid advertising, and you cannot introduce censorship because what may seem as a valid argument to one person (i.e. believing in God) may be ludicrous to another person. Voted no.

Erin Brokovich got my vote for measure 35: the standard "tort reform" aimed at health care. Numbers were flying for this one, and the "pro 35" advertisements were silly - people dressed in lab coats saying ridiculous things. Voted no.

Measure 34: this one was easy - I like forests, I'm a tree-hugger. Voted yes.

Measure 32 wins the "I really don't give a damn either way" category. But since it appeared to mean less money earmarked for roads and parks, I voted no.

Measure 38 just seemed like a scam by Liberty Northwest to get rid of its competition. Let them compete by lowering their prices. Voted no.

Moving on to the race for the presidency:

I've read a couple articles about Bush vs. Kerry. It's pretty obvious that neither candidate is capturing the hearts and minds of the public. Bush has some hard-core supporters - mostly based on moral issues (abortion, anti-terrorist image, "family" values, etc.). Kerry doesn't have the same strength - some people think he'll be a good president, but a lot just don't want Bush.

The question is, "do you vote someone out?" In other words, does it make sense to vote for someone to replace the incumbent because you want a change? Some people think that's not a valid reason for choosing who to vote for. I think it makes complete sense, at least in the U.S. We don't really have a choice in most of our political races. The country has been pretty much carved into either Democrat or Republican - 95+% of the time you know who is going to win each race long before you ever cast a ballot. Nader has been pointing that out lately (probably forever, but come on, who listens to him?). We don't have multiple choices, we have two, so not liking one person is just as good a reason for choosing the other as any other reason.

A pollster (well, a Move-On.Org guy) asked me for the issues that influenced my vote. I didn't know what to tell him, he didn't have a category labeled "Not Bush". But it boils down to the fact that I don't like what Bush has done, nor how he has carried himself as the President. I don't see that I have any other option. I only have two choices: Bush or Kerry. Voting for someone other than those two is tantamount to throwing my vote away.

I don't know how Kerry would be as President. But I don't know that you can really tell how anyone would be as president before they actually assume the position. If you're going to criticize Kerry's behavior as a senator and use it as an indication of his potential as a president, you should criticize Bush by his behavior as president of several corporations (they all chose chapter 11 bankruptcy). The truth is, people as president act very differently than they do as senators/governors/whatever. The Presidency is such a different role, you have such different power and resources available.

I wrote a small snippet on this issue on the Engaging Thought web page.

Now I drop the ballot off and wait for the results.

Phil Wood

So, Ron and I went to Moab this past week. We had a good time. The weather was reasonable, though a bit windy and cloudy. This was the first trip where I didn't take any pictures.

But that's not what I want to write about.

In the spring I decided to buy a new rear wheel (rant1 and entry2) using a Phil Wood rear hub, a velocity deep V rim, and built by Peter White. I used it throughout the summer - though I didn't ride as much as I wanted. Occasionally I heard a little 'ping' when pedaling, which I associated with the rear hub, but I figured that it was just unique to the Phil Wood that I wasn't accustomed to. However, on the second day of riding Slickrock, while riding down hill I heard a loud, metallic grind, and my chain wound up. Ron and I both knew what that sound meant: the rear hub locked up. I could no longer coast - I essentially had a fixed gear bike. I stood there in disbelief, staring at the really expensive piece of equipment that I purchased explicitly to prevent this problem.


I just couldn't believe it. About 50% of the time I ride the Slickrock trail I break a freehub. And I broke a Phil Wood - a product designed for high torque (tandems), a product guaranteed for life, something highly touted as the last hub I'll ever have to buy. Everyone was wrong.

Luckily, I'd talked with a Phil Wood rep before I made the purchase, and he agreed to a refund (not just fix) if I broke it in the first year.

I hope to get a full refund for the hub and will purchase a Chris King - which uses a completely different hub design (more of a gearing than pawls) and will hopefully handle my massive legs.

I'll follow up with what actually happens.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Two Monday's ago I had some minor pain in my abdomen, it kept me up for an hour or so, but I was able to sleep most of the night. The pain level dropped to a 1 out of 10 and everything seemed to be back to normal. Except that my urine was deep, dark yellow.

At first, I thought it was just because I was a bit dehydrated, but on Wednesday I still had the same color, even though I had drunk nearly a gallon of water. This really worried me. That and the fact that Mary was recommending I get this checked out soon.

So, I drove myself to St. Vincent's and walked into the ER. After some blood work, a urine-sample later, and several hours, I was told that I probably had a gallstone lodged in my common bile duct. This is the common drain from the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder into the begining of the small intestine. By having a stone lodged there, all those fluids were backing up into the liver, causing it to work overtime.

What this meant for me was my bilirubin level shot up (yes, the same thing that often happens to newborn babies - though for different reasons), and my liver enzymes were also very high.

The net effect was they had to go in and remove the gallstone, and the doctors further recommended the surgery to remove my gallbladder.

I spent the night in a lovely room with a view of Beaverton, slowly turning more and more yellow. Thursday afternoon I laid on my side in an operating room, they showed me a tube (not much bigger than the cable going to your TV) they'd use to do the operation, and that's about all I remember. The operation consists of putting a tube down my throat, through the stomach, into the intestine, and up the common bile duct to the stone. They make a small incision in the sphincter there to allow the stone to pass, balloon sweep the stone out, and they're done. Half an hour later I was back in my room, recovering.

It's pretty amazing what they can do nowadays - the only cutting they had to do was at the sphincter to let the stone out.

My color is back to normal, I feel great, except for the worry of the remining stones in my gallbladder. Now I have to decide what to do about it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

EFF Action

I posted an entry at Engaging Thought about the EFF.

However, it's an issue I care enough about to let everyone know through both blogs.

Basically, the EFF fights for keeping freedoms we've always had in this country, only these freedoms are being challenged on the internet. The two reasons I find this important are:

1) they are freedoms we should continue to have

2) by restricting our rights, Congress is just ensuring that innovation and development are going to happen in other countries, and we'll be left behind.

So, go visit the EFF and see if any of the issues resonate with you. If you do, fill out the form and let your representatives and senators know. The web page makes it very easy.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I strongly dislike dogs, but I'd never do this to them...

I found this blog entry earlier that shows what screwballs some dog owners do to their dogs.

No cat would ever let you do that to it. And if you managed to hold it down long enough to actually dress it up, it'd never sit there while you take a picture. The only chance you'd have at dressing up your cat is doing it while it's napping in the sun.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I went to the gym today for the first time in a year. I'd even suspended my membership (why pay dues for something you're not using).

But today, my wife came home and said, "You've got a date tonight. At 6pm."

I thought, "Cool, we're going out."

But no, she continued with, "You're doing x-bike with Tina at the gym."

A little less exciting than a night on the town with my wife. Instead, I was going to work-out at the gym with my brother's ex. Hmmm...

Well, lately I've been a lump of poo on a stick. I've done next to no exercise - notice how my last post about biking was .... July 17th. Wow.

I've been working far too much, and my body is rebelling. I am currently recovering from a rib that is out (first rib, right at the base of the neck). What does it mean to have a rib out? I don't really know, it's slightly out of place, and as a result, it's pressing on some nerves, causing things to be inflamed, causing pain, causing muscle tightness, which causes further pain/inflammation/tightness/etc. It's made sleeping difficult, and moving my head has been tough. I'm certain that if I had kept in shape, either through biking or yoga or whatever, this wouldn't have happened.

So, back to the story at hand, I had a date, with my brother's ex (also my dental assistant - Hi Tina!).

But that's a good thing. I've got a trip to Moab in just over a month, and a race at Hagg lake in less than a month. I've got to get my rear in gear.

So, the gym has this new, hip, exciting aerobic exercise called "x-biking". It's very similar to spinning which I used to do at my old gym. You hop up on a stationary bike, you pedal to music, sweat a lot, and generally get a good workout.

What's the verdict? After one class, I can say that I like spinning a little better. There are a couple of reasons:

  1. The spinning bikes are more like a fixed-gear track bike, you can't stop pedalling unless you stop the flywheel. I realize many people don't like this, but I think it's a good thing because it forces you to round your pedal stroke, very much like the training you'd get riding a track bike. So I miss that.

  2. The music for x-bike (we're using the canned CD's) is lame. It's a cross between techno and elevator music. It's got the driving beat, but you can barely hear it, and it's as repetitive as the music from the original Nintendo.

  3. The class is only half an hour long - need at least 45 minutes, if not 1 hour.

  4. The scripted work out is very repetitive - you only have 3 different things you do: pedal while seated, pedal while standing, don't pedal but rock the handle-bars back and forth. Lame.

  5. The bike itself doesn't fit quite as well: the handlebars are way too close to the pedals (you can adjust the seat back, but that doesn't help when you're standing). Plus, the rocking motion you can do with the handlebars is kind of dorky - you can't tighten it down very much, and I was pretty unimpressed with the "upper body" workout the web page claimed I'd get. I prefer the fixed handlebar because you can actually use it to help you press down on the pedals. The rockability of the handlebars takes away from that.

Needless to say, the club has just started the x-bike thing, and the instructor today said they'll be looking to make changes, so give feedback.

What I really want is my old spinning instructor, Chrysanthi (I think that's how you spell her name). She rocked. The classes were tough, the music was jamming, and she really got into setting the scene - you could almost imagine the ride she was leading. Plus, the spinning instructors had a bunch of different activities you did on the bike: jumps, runs, jogging (no-hands), really high-speed spinning, different hand positions, etc. That may not sound like much, but when you are stuck on a stationary bike, it's a fair amount.

I'm sure that the club will make the appropriate changes and let the x-bike instructors play with music and workout composition. They've got to be as bored and uninspired as I was with the canned lesson.

I'll be taking the class again, because, as I said, it's a good workout. And there aren't any spinning classes available.

Talk Like A Pirate

This sunday is national Talk Like A Pirate Day, now I just need to find the proper keyboard:

Pirate Keyboard - just has 'R'

Wow, I Should Have Figured

I'm surprised we haven't seen data like this report earlier. I would have figured it'd show up in the emergency room stats.

Or, perhaps it shows up in more chronic ways. Sure enough, what is one of the causes of nasty hemorrhoids? Excessive straining during bowel movements.

Those folks in Japan/Italy/India have it right, use a squat toilet and avoid the stress.

Of course, I didn't learn until I was the ripe old age of 24, on my Muir Trail trip how to properly poop in the woods (how to poop while squatting). You only pull the pants/shorts down to your knees! Nobody ever told me! I always pulled the shorts down to my ankles, and then had to somehow avoid the shorts that were spanning the space between my ankles. It's a game you don't want to lose.

For sure, proper squat and poop technique will be one of the first things I teach my kids.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

More on Sports

You can like whatever sports you want to like. You can think some sports are stupid, and be passionate about your favorites.

What I don't understand, though, is this irrational declaration by many Americans that sports like soccer are boring. This, from the same people that religiously watch baseball and Nascar. Ok, so perhaps you don't like soccer, but to say that nothing happens is just ludicrous.

Something is always happening in soccer. You may not understand it, but something is always happening. Occasionally play stops for a couple of seconds for a throw-in or free kick, but that's it. The games are 90 minutes long with a 20 minute half-time. So, perhaps 5 minutes of each game is spent with the ball not moving. That means the ball is moving about 95% of the time.

Compare this to baseball. An average professional baseball game lasts just under 176 minutes (2001 stats,). There are an average of about 285 pitches per game, with about 20 hits per game. It takes at most a second for pitch, and maybe 30 seconds (as if there were that much action) per hit. What does that compute to? A whopping 91.6% of the time in a baseball game, people are standing around, scratching themselves, spitting, chewing, and signaling. Think about it, over 90% of the time you're watching 10 or 11 guys (one at bat, one on base) standing around, doing nothing. It's like watching the characters of King of the Hill at the beginning of each show. Life is just passing you by.

What about Nascar? The races are 2-3 hours long, and sure, they're driving the entire time, but what really happens? Not too much, the drivers are generally just drafting, biding their time for someone to make a mistake, going around and around the oval track. Oh - but it's sooo exciting. Right. There are 10-15 lead changes in an exciting race. Wow, that means you'll get a lead change every 12 minutes or so. Damned exciting. At least the Indy cars sometimes race on non-oval tracks, giving you a lot more opportunity for passing and accidents.

Ok, ok, I'm picking on the obvious sports. How about football? In a typical NFL game that has 48 minutes of on-the-clock time only has 12-15 minutes of actual ball movement. That doesn't even count all the stop-time - which makes an NFL game last about 3 hours. Wow, that's ball movement about 7% of the time. During TV coverage for a game, the announcers have enough time in between each play to have complete conversations about other sports, to conduct mini-interviews with players on the field, and to do in-depth analysis of the last few plays. They have to come up with filler to keep you interested in between the plays.

So what makes football/Nascar/baseball "interesting" to people whereas soccer is "boring"? It's knowledge of the game, if you know what to look for and understand the nuances of the game, then the sport is probably interesting. Because, let's face it: Nascar, baseball, and football have almost no activity during the normal course of the game.

I view soccer in the same vein as hockey. Sure, hockey (the U.S.'s 4th sport) is a little more action packed than soccer - mostly because they're on a smaller "field". Hockey scoring is about 2X that of soccer, but it's primarily the same kind of game (minus the fights). You've got plays, lots of passing, defensive zones, etc - all the same things as soccer. But, if you didn't understand hockey, all you would see is people skating around in a bunch, slapping at a puck, and randomly slamming each other into the boards and fighting.

I don't think I'm going to convince anyone that soccer is interesting to watch. I'd just like to try to wake you up into actually thinking about what you are saying when you state, " is boring." All you are really doing is saying, "I'm ignorant. I don't know jack about ."

Don't worry, I won't hold your ignorance against you.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Oregon State Fair

Last weekend, Mary and I went to the fair. I hadn't been to the fair in 15 years or so. I'd almost forgotten what the fair was like - except that my bro and I went to the Benton county fair last year to see Carrot Top.

I guess all fairs are about the same, you've got your carnival rides, carnie games, food on a stick, food booths, animals, etc. We watched a couple of equestrian drill teams. The first one was pretty dorky - just some young kids that rode around with horses that were dressed in red white and blue. It was nothing exciting. The second one was based off of "Lord of the Rings" and had the dark riders, Gandalf, and the chasee - an elf on a white horse (yes, I know Frodo should have been chased, not an elf, Mary told me to "shush" when I pointed that out). The costumes were pretty fun. The best part was when the elf's horse layette on its side and "died". At that point, a little wizard came out on a miniature horse to heal the elf's horse. Some little faeries also came out with a little goat. They all danced around the elf's horse - which of course recovered beautifully. We promptly left after that performance as I'm sure it was the pinnacle of the horse-drill-teams.

Of course we sampled the food. My new favorite is funnel cake. I'll take funnel cake over elephant ears any day of the week. I'd never had them before, but their crispy crunch is so much more consistent than the sometimes soft or soggy elephant ears. Plus, there are a large variety of toppings for the funnel cake that are just not available for the elephant ears. And, of course, I picked up a large bag of kettle korn. Delicious.

The surprise for the night was not the discovery of funnel cake, but of a comedy act, Hypnomania. When the show first started, Mary and I thought it would be pretty dorky. But it was hilarious. He had people doing really silly things, like being a shoe thief, using "magical" glasses that let you see through people's clothes, and other silly things. The "magical" glasses were awesome, because the guy who got them immediately began looking up-and-down at the woman next to him. The next step was that they were to slap themselves when they thought a dirty thought, and that guy was constantly slapping himself.

Ok, so it doesn't sound very funny, but trust me. It was almost as good as Carrot Top, people were rolling in the aisles with laughter. I don't think it was rigged, because there's no way those people could have kept straight faces while doing the act.

The only thing that could have made the show funnier would be eating a funnel cake while watching it.

TV continued

In my earlier post about TV shows, I can't believe I forgot my main motivation for writing. The show, "Last Comic Standing", really annoys me. They've supposedly got 10 of the funniest people in America, but what do they do? They let the dork of a host blab on with jokes that would make Bob Sagget cringe. On the premier this year, the first 40 minutes didn't have a single stand-up routine. That's half the show w/out a joke by the people who the show is supposed to be about.

Obviously, if I'm watching 40 minutes of a show I don't like, I've obviously got problems of my own.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


I'm all for some good TV. Tonight I'm waiting for my favorite show, "Scrubs", to start. However, the new animated show, "Father of the Pride" is currently on. What a stupid show. In the 5 minutes I've watched it, I've seen nothing but the gags that were on the promos - which makes me wonder what they'll have left for episode 2. And, there's a ton of swearing and sexual references. The references are so stupid, so blatant, that it's actually insulting to watch. I'm embarrassed for NBC. I'm definitely not a prude, but come on, I think we've matured a little bit since Benny Hill show.

Now, Scrubs, that's a quality show. It's got great writing, good humor, good show premise, the show always ends with a good message, and pretty much everyone on the show is attractive. That's about all a show really needs. Unfortunately, most of the shows nowadays just get the last characteristic right. "Father of the Pride" fails on all accounts.

Now, taking things to the other extreme, I do have to give props to the show, "Hot or Not." It was unabashedly superficial, it simply walked people out onto the stage and they were either voted "hot" or "not." The hot ones got to stay, the others had to leave. There was the little bit of competition, and a lot of hotties. The cost for the show had to be near zero, everyone and their sister probably tried out for the show - so there was no shortage of 'talent'. What a great show. However, it wasn't quite interesting enough to keep people interested because I don't see it in the fall lineup.
Another show worthy of watching is "Fear Factor" - it's got the good premise, the host of the show is quick on his feet, there's always a winner, and, of course, most everyone on the show is attractive. Plus, like any good game show, you can imagine yourself in the contestants shoes: either being grossed out about eating cow placenta, or climbing over a wall that's flipping end-over-end.

Seinfeld was also incredible, but alas it is just in syndication. Oddly enough, I found the fact that NBC is making BUCKS off Seinfeld, reportedly over $1 billion for 9 years of syndication. At least I know it'll be around to entertain me.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Our house is on the edge of Corvallis, we occasionally see deer (they eat our vegetable garden). We're not quite in farm-land, but sometimes it feels like it.

Well, the crickets are so noisy this summer that I feel like the house is on a big sound stage for a movie. I always figured the movies were exaggerating the noise, but now I can say, the cricket sounds in movies can be found in real life.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Fundamentalism on ETJ

I have a new entry about fundamentalism, check it out.


I read a couple of blawgs: public defender dude, uncivil litigator, Crime and Federalism. (if you read Blogs - use Mozilla and Sage, just do it ok?).

I have no idea what it's like to be a lawyer, and I'm sure that most lawyers have pretty dull jobs (kind of like most programmers have pretty dull jobs), but I get a kick out of reading their blogs.

What I'd really want to do is read some programmers' blogs, but I want to read about interesting programming they've done (kind of like interesting cases or issues lawyers blog). Only, I don't think programmers write about it - they publish source code. Or they're writing code for companies (like mine) who have proprietary software and can't publish their tips and tricks.

Oh shut up, you're giving me a hard time now.

The closest I can get is reading boost's documentation. They do amazing things, and I can only hope to learn half of what they've put out there. They make C++ look like Lisp.

Update: I did find one guy's blog about tracking bugs down in Microsoft products. Which, while it isn't cool tips/tricks about programming, it does talk about something integral to programming: debugging.

Software Department

Again, I work for the man in a department that provides software for the chip designers. It's about as close as Intel comes to caring about software (translation: Intel only cares about chips).

The department only pays lip service to software development. The latest thing is the build environment. In short, it sucks. My team happens to have a build environment that is reasonable (thanks to Tim J). Well, the department is mandating that everyone use the same, sucky, build environment.

I understand that the build team needs to know how to build all the tools, and it should be the same between all the different tools and engines. And they've worked hard to make it a little less sucky, but it still sucks. And sure, I realize the build team has to juggle different political battles (we have people in Oregon, California, and Haifa Israel). But come on.

This is essentially what you have to do to build:

source /path/to/script -tool
setenv OUTPUT something
setenv TEMP somethingelse
setenv DONT_USE_LOG true
setenv LAST_VAR anothersomething

Huh? What is all that stuff?

You can download and build pretty much any application for Linux with:


And, arguably, you wouldn't need to run ./configure in our environment if you knew where everything was (compiler/linker/vendor libraries) - which we should b/c we're all using the same computers. So really, all you should have to type is gmake!

The other thing that's really stupid, is that you have to write a Makefile for each of the libraries that you build. The Makefile for each of our libraries is 2 lines long - each and every one of them. The build environment they want to push on us has 30-40 lines.

Anyway, I'm all railed up. My manager is behind me, but it's just stupid that I should have to waste any effort to fight this battle. No self-respecting software company in the world would put up with our build environment.


Both a friend at work and my niece and nephew think I look like Gary Hall Jr.

Sure, the body is a dead ringer, but I'm much more handsome...


Like most people in the U.S., I'm watching the Olympics - I've been staying up past my bedtime to catch as much as I can.

We don't have Cable or DirectTV, so we stuck with NBC's standard coverage.

It pisses me off how much time they devote to the big "sports": swimming, gymnastics, and track. Now, I like Track, but do we really need to watch the quarter-finals of the 100m dash? Sure, its' "our" event, but seriously, couldn't we spend a little bit of the time covering a different sport, or even different events? Plus, all of the human interest stories that surround it are silly. The U.S. men sprinters are just so cocky and full of attitude - they exemplify what I think other countries think of the U.S. in general: full of talent/potential, but arrogant, self-centered, and oblivious to the rest of the world. Bronze medalist is a prime example, and the other two U.S. finalists were thumping their chests and bandstanding in the semi-finals. It was enough for me to want a different country to win.

I also like swimming, but the coverage is just too U.S.-centric. The commentators focus only on the U.S. athletes, and they seem to know so little about the rules (or are not willing to share it). For example, Aaron Peirsol had a judge rule an illegal flip turn in the 200m backstroke finals, a ruling that threatened to take away his gold medal. Did the announcers begin talking about what the rules are, what judges usually look for, what might have gone wrong? No, the commentary was all about, "he's in shock, he can't believe it, the U.S. coaches are probably going protest, he's in shock, nobody can believe it, ..." Give us some information to use. Don't simply repeat the same emotional statements over and over and over.

The commentators for the gymnastics are just as bad. When Paul Hamm stumbled on the landing for his vault, they responded, "You just can't do that and expect to win, let alone place." While that is normally a fair statement, he did, in fact, go on to win the gold medal for the all-around. Fine, give them that one, but they said the same thing when some women stumbled the next night. Hello? McFly? Anyone home? You were WRONG last night, perhaps you shouldn't repeat your mistakes so quickly. And how many times do they have to remind us that those little steps (on landing) count? I must have heard that phrase ten times in one evening.

And we've got some pretty insensitive camera men and commentators. I forget which sport it was, diving probably, but one of the women messed up a dive and blew her chances at a medal. She was pretty much guaranteed a gold, messed up, and dropped out of contention. So what did the camera man do? He followed her, around the corner to the deserted warm up area, and watched her grieve, getting very close. Have a little humanity, please. And, after some controversy over a judging problem that potentially could have given a South Korean athlete the gold in the all-around competition instead of Paul Hamm, some commentator quizzed Paul, "So how are you handling the controversy? How do you feel about having the gold when the South Korean athlete's performance was incorrectly judged?" The commentator acknowledged that the controversy could be wearing on Paul, yet, knowing that, still went ahead with throwing it in his face.

Sometimes, it's just embarrassing to be an American.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Road Rage

I had my first flare up of road rage today in a long time. I used to get angry at other drivers quite a bit - mostly for something to do - I commute 100 miles each way twice a week. But I kicked that habit months ago - people stopped bothering me as much. All I ever did with my road rage is bitch and moan - perhaps flashing my lights or honking the horn, but I don't cut people off, I don't tailgate, I don't charge people like a bull.

So today, I'm almost at work, I'm turning west from Shute road to Evergreen road. There are two lanes in either direction on Evergreen, and some guy is pacing me on my left (pacing == right next to my bumper but in the other lane). So I step on the gas and accelerate to 55 (speed limit is 50) quickly. At this point he (and the other cars) are a good 200 feet behind me. I quickly forget about them.

Now, Evergreen slims down to one lane after 3/4 of a mile or so, and people sometimes jockey for position. Whatever... We're less than a mile away from work, so position at this point doesn't matter. Anyway, as I'm getting close to the merge point, thus guy suddenly accelrates and gets back on my bumper. So there we are, the two lanes soon to become one, and this asshole is right next to me. Note: he had to speed up to 60 or more to catch up, then slow down to pace me. I've very consciously kept my speed a constant 55 mph. Right as the lane is ending, he slowly starts to pull even with me, and eventually pass me. The lanes have officially merged at this point, but he has still not passed me.

I look over at him, he's deep in thought or something. He shows no sign of noticing me or my car. I lay on the horn for 3-4 seconds, still no reaction. So I slow down and let him pass me - b/c I'm not enough of a prick to actually get in an accident to prove a point. Never a reaction from him. Man was I pissed.

I have a couple simple driving rules. They basically boil down to the Golden Rule: treat others as you'd want to be treated.

  1. get out of other peoples way: if you're in the left lane and someone comes up behind you, pull over to the right lane
  2. if you're going to pass someone - do it: drive at least 5 mph faster than the person you're passing, simply inching past someone does not count (VW Bus drivers get the exception on this - I feel for you)
  3. get to freeway speed quickly: you don't have to floor it, but you should easily be going the speed of traffic by the time you're epxected to merge (again, VW Bus drivers get the exception)
  4. when merging - align yourself with a gap between vehicles

That's it. Nothing pisses me off more than the slow drivers in the left lane, especially when they're simply pacing the car in the lane next to them. It happens so much in Oregon that I just started passing people on the right. I've spent far too much time waiting for a person to get a clue, so I pass on the right. I don't even wait more than a second or two, I just signal and pass. I figure my defense (if I'm ever pulled over like my brother) is that I was obeying the signs that say, "Slower Traffic Keep Right." I figure, when I'm not passing someone, I merge right. And if nobody is in front of me, I hit the gas.

When I had my Subaru GL, named "Xena", I often wanted to get a megaphone installed - like the cops use. That way I could yell at people, "Pull over!" "You're going too slow." "Check your blinker grandpa!"

The guy today made me want to get one installed in the Mazda.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Last weekend, Mary and I spent 3 nights backpacking in the Wallowas near Eagle Cap. For those of you unfamiliar with the Wallowas, they're kind of like the Sierras, only a little smaller, and in Oregon. Beautiful granite peaks, crystal clear lakes and streams. A wonderful place to spend a few days.

The trip was great, the company good too. A quick trip description is: Hiked from Two Pan up the east fork of the Lostine river to Mirror lake. Day hike to Glacier Lake. Day hike to top of Eagle Cap (Mary and I just hung out at Mirror lake while Ron & Cyndi were macho). Hike out.

The wildflowers were still blooming, and the weather was excellent (except for a 1 hour thunderstorm - which provided a good excuse for a nap). About half an hour after the quick rainstorm, the ground was dry as a bone. Amazing.

Unfortunately, the first night did not afford Mary the best sleep. One of our cats (Jade presumably) had punctured Mary's mattress with their claws, and the mattress would not hold air. My dad would probably say, "That's why we always use the closed-cell foam pads - they can't go flat!" Of course, with those pads you just feel "soft" rocks - whereas the air mattress can actually keep you from feeling the rocks at all.

Long story short, I swapped with Mary and slept on top of her thermarest and sleeping bag, and she used my thermarest and bag.

Luckily, I'm always prepared, and I had a patch kit for the pad. For pinhole punctures, you don't even have to apply a patch - you just rub in some of the glue, and voila! 1 minute of work, 15 minutes of waiting, and we had a good-as-new mattress. I highly recommend picking up a patch kit - because a deflated thermarest sucks.

We had just received our new digital camera, and Mary was very excited to check it out. It, of course, has a gazillion features and modes, but one of the most exciting is the macro lens. With it you can focus on objects only 1/2 inch away from the lens!

Check out some of the pretty flowers we saw.

Daisy with bug.

Glacier Lake

Bright blue.

Little yellow flower.

Tiny yellow flower

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


I just have to keep track of all the masses of people who are reading my blog. I figure if I get enough hits I'll start selling ad space and retire soon.

But seriously, I'm writing these posts, and I've no real idea who reads them. My feed gets about 1 click through a day (if I'm lucky). So I figure, now that I know about this killer way to get web page statistics, I can see how often the two people who read this come back.

And, no, I don't artificially inflate my counter by counting my own visits.

Engaging Thought

I've been invited to post to a blog that a friend of mine co-founded (I'm a celebrity... not). The posts are generally anti-Bush and left-leaning, which I'm all for. I figure I'll post once or twice a week, so check out the blog.

In fact, here is my first post.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

What Book Are You?

I didn't cheat, seriously. The first time through,
I was matched with "The Hobbit."

You're The Hobbit!

by J.R.R. Tolkien

All you wanted was a nice cup of tea when some haggard crazy old man
came into your life and told you it was time to do something with yourself. Now you're
all conflicted about whether to stick with your stay-at-home lifestyle or follow this
crazy person into the wild. While you're very short and a little furry, you seem to be
surrounded by an even greater quantity of short folks lately. Try not to lose your ring,
but keep its value in perspective!

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Difference Between Men And Women

I was biking the other day with Miles, and among other things, we were talking about relationships with our wives.

The relationships are, of course, perfect and always getting better.

But we did have some laughs about differences in the way (to paint with a stereotype) men and women think and relate.

So far the best example can be summed up with this joke.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Victoria B.C.

As my buddy, Ron, would say, "Ahhh, Victoria, land of the beutiful people."

Mary and I flew to Victoria for a long weekend this past weekend. Great times. The forecast for Oregon was a heat wave, and we thought it'd be nice to escape it by being in Victoria. Wrong. They set a record (102) on the first day we were there. Oh well.

We stayed at a cute bed and breakfast in an old Victorian house. The couple running it was very nice - they had the right balance between providing enough hospitality/information without being weirdly attached to their guests. And their breakfasts were amazing. They're five courses, with just enough at each course to give you a good taste, but leave you feeling full - not stuffed. The main dish was always beautiful. The first morning was a rolled omelette with cheddar and broccoli, and a fresh roll adorned with edible flowers. The second breakfast was some fresh grilled salmon, lox, a toasted bagel, and cream cheese - on a bed of fennel. Both the salmon and lox were delicous. One of the "desserts" was fresh apple crisps - cookies so thin they broke when they hit your tongue. The crisps were served with thinly sliced apple and fresh apple mint. And each breakfast was started with a bowl of fresh fruit and honey yogurt blended with more fresh fruit. I'd easily stay there again just for the breakfast.

You meet interesting people while staying in bed and breakfasts. The hosts were ex-psychologists. The woman wrote a book on the american system of creating victims, ahh, here's a link to the book. A little too deep for me. And the husband is into photography, the shot of the bridge is especially nice.

A mother and daughter were staying in the master suite. They were having a last outing together before Kendra (the daughter) headed off to college (U of SanDiego). The mother was obviously very proud of her daughter, but ribbed her thoroughly about the designer jeans that cost $180 and the sunglasses that cost $400. I can't even imagine trying on clothes costing that much, but, I'm not a fashionable college co-ed. Especially not one that looks like a young, tan Angie Harmon.

While Mary and I were walking around the lovely town of Victoria, I noticed a flyer for a "foam party". I'm no social scientist, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a bunch of if you combine college kids in swimsuits and a bunch of foam, and you've got a recipe for hot foamy sex. You know there's going to be drinking and some drug use, which is only going to increase the orgy. Good times.

We were pointed to several restaurants in the area. The first, Matisse was a wonderful french restaurant with some $450 bottles of wine on the menu. I highly recommend the duck with crispy skin (mmm.... - the skin was crispy and salty like bacon, yummy), the goat cheese salad (imported from france), and the creme brulee was amazing.

On Saturday we ate a lunch at the Blue Fox Cafe a little cafe we ran across. The sandwiches were pretty good - especially their homemade veggie burger. But the secret of the Blue Fox is their coconut creme pie. An older couple at the table next to us was raving about the pie. The lady said she'd called down to find if they had any left - there was one pie. She asked them to hold keep the pie in the fridge until they got to the restaurant because it normally sells out in a matter of minutes. So I asked to see if they had a piece. It arrived just a minute later, topped with some barely sweetened fresh whipped cream. It has to be the best coconut cream pie I've ever had. The pie was crammed with coconut, freshly grated by the baker herself. There's so much coconut that it was difficult to slice through the pie with the fork. And the creamy filling tasted of fresh cream and was just sweet enough. Track this place down the next time you're in Victoria.

That night we weren't terribly hungry due to the cocnut pie, so we just ordered starters and side dishes at Cafe Brio. The risoto is super yummy, and the fresh morel fricassee showed Mary why people eat mushrooms. The dessert was a little molten chocolate tart topped with some cherries. Their mojito was pretty good as well.

And of course we needed some fish and chips, so we stopped by for some yummy halibut at Swans Pub for our last lunch.

As much as I would have enjoyed it, we didn't just eat.

I pampered myself by getting some really nice shaving cream called Razorantium at lush. It works very well, and doesn't smell too strongly. I also got my brother some silky underwear (you have to know Sam). Oh, and Mary noticed a shampoo named I Love Juicy, so we got it for a friend of mine named Gyuszi (the name sounds the like "Juicy"). Ironically, Gyuszi shaves his head.

One of the mornings, after breakfast, Mary and I wandered over to the gardens at Government House with a couple we met at breakfast. The husband, Brett, and I chatted up a storm - he works for Intel's partner in crime, Microsoft. He also takes really nice photos of flowers. His digital camera was very cool, and had a great lens that allowed him to focus on flowers an inch or two away.

That evening, we all went to the luminaria festival at Beacon Hill park. Evidentally, it's a once-a-year festival where local artists create some pretty amazing luminaria sculptures: swans, flowers, people, etc., and set them up in the park. Then people come at night and walk around carrying their own luminarias. It was kind of neat, but there were a ton of people, so we didn't stay real long. The next morning, Mary and I wandered over to the park again, and it was amazingly clean. We were hoping to see some of the reported Great Blue Herons nesting there. We saw over a dozen nests, but only two actual birds. Oh well, perhaps next time.

We of course wandered around and went into a bunch of the local artist shops. There was nothing we couldn't live without. The highlight of the art was the glass blowing shop. Mary and I watched the artist known as Gary and his trusty assistant create a large orange bowl with a green spiral on the outside. It was a blast (get it, glass-blowing, furnace, blast) to watch - the viewing area is on the second floor, and you get to look down onto the artists as they work.

It was an awesome trip. Too bad we forgot the camera...

Sweep 2

So we've had the sweepa for a couple of weeks now. I've got to say that it lives up to its reputation. It's basically just a pull-broom with 1 inch rubber bristles.

For whatever reason, it's a lot easier to use than the standard broom. Perhaps it's because the short bristles don't flick the dirt. Perhaps it's because the bristles are pretty sticky, kinda like those rubber octopi that you can throw onto a wall that slowly crawls down the wall. And it takes care of dust bunnies real quick.

So, if you've got hardwoods, buy one, it's sweet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I took Amtrak from Corallis (Albany really) to Portland. My friend Eric picked me up for work. It's been a while since I've taken it.

Today they had "Scooby Doo 2" on the TV. It's got to be one of the dumbest movies ever made. I occasionally watched the show growing up, but the movie was as dumb as all the cartoon versions rolled into one. It had more fart jokes than I could handle, and I'm all about farting. Scooby even got rid of one of the bad guys by farting on him. About the deepest part of the movie was the allusion toward Fred having unrequited love for Daphne.

The best thing about the ride, other than not having to drive, was that they had a drawing for a free bowl of steaming oatmeal. The guy announcing the drawing had a great time with it, finishing with "it's to die for". I don't know that the lady who won it ever collected.

Amtrak doesn't seem to attract as many weird people as Greyhound, but with the recent announcements that Greyhound is cutting out a bunch of the small cities on its routes, some are forced to ride Amtrak. While waiting for the train to come, I had the pleasure of listening to this one dude who talking at a bored looking older gentleman. The old guy got to hear all about this dude's rich uncles and aunts. I couldn't help but think - why don't you hit them up for some cash to buy some class. The talker had a black button down shirt with a dragon on it, but it was completely unbuttoned - and his physique was not worth watching. Well, he's now pacing around the train, with his shirt still completely unbuttoned. (Update: upon leaving the train, I passed him boring some poor conductor while dragging on a cigarette, shirt still wide open.)

Sadly, the Amtrak line from Eugene to Seattle doesn't have Wi-fi, so I wasn't able to surf the web, I worked on the materials for a class I'm about to teach and wrote this dealy.