Sunday, October 31, 2004

feast and famine

Much as I expected, work has come in waves, and when the waves come you do your best to dive in and miss the crashing waves. Crashing of course being a key worry. We try to vet each computer that is brought into the office. A virus the day before had brought the network down. Otherwise, it was mostly tracking down errors in cables. Cables are everywhere underfoot in a twisted profusion, and finding the beginning and ends is sometimes a challenge. A few computers die: 1 keyboard to coffee, 1 screen to age, and a network card to the same. But otherwise it is mostly easy stuff amounting mostly to "is it plugged in?" The hardest thing is often getting people to pay attention to you, their minds half elsewhere, interrupted by other people, other more important problems.

The first day however is brought to a grinding halt when the network goes down. We spend and hour as people mutter and mumble trying to track it down. Our router, our nice lovely hook up to the internet has died, admist rumors of attacks on Kerry websites, we try and fix the problem, but a couple hectic and stressed hours later are back up and running.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

in the swing of things

Friday morning, I was out my door at 20 to 6 and off for BART and the airport. Despite the fact that my airline went bankrupt earlier in the week, my trip was what you might expect "it had its ups and downs" as my dad would joke. My seat mates were quiet, and I plowed through a Nevada Barr mystery and poked my head out the window whenever I had a moment: a beautiful array of clouds and snow colored landscapes.

Passing low into Philadelphia I was surprised to see a bunch of navy ships -- more than I would have expected, more than you'd find in SF or Oakland. A larger tanker was midway to completion on a nearby dry dock its ribs still exposed to the sky. I didn't think they did things like that in the States anymore.

The pilot brought our flight to an abrupt end, slamming into the runaway a good deal harder than I've ever experienced, but still leaving the plane and us intact.

The most blessed part of the trip was that I heard nary a whisper of politics all day, no overheard conservations, nothing, no buttons for bush or kerry, nor any other visible sign of support. The only glimpse really was on newspaper covers. Everyone else travelling incognito and avoiding the inevitable conflicts, just like me perhaps.

My friend's wife LB picked me up from the airport and we drove into the city heading downtown for the PA Dems Hq, where my friend TB was working away.

They city was lively with people, Nation of Islam set up in a park, people walking with large Kerry signs, people in costume, a halloween critical mass cycled past, a 200 strong, loud, happy, and in costume, most pedestrians looking on curiously, a few taking photographs. We picked up dinner at a hole in the wall Indian place around the corner from the office, and then headed on up.

It was a loud and intense place packed with red white and blue Kerry/Edwards signs, maps, dry/erase boards, maps, cables, computers and phones scattered everywhere, clumps of people mostly young gathered around, talking on cell phones. By the end of our dinner (and numerous interruptions) I was glad I decided that I would not work that night, but just get an intro and head back to their place.

The PA narrow streets lined by lovely looking brick buildings were filled with fallen leaves, and people spilling out onto the sidewalk from restaurants, parties, bars, and art openings. TB and LB's apartment is a nice big old place -- if a bit delapidated -- filled with lots of comfy looking chairs and one skittish fat cat named kitty.

I ensconced myself in one of the chairs and a Patrick OBrien novel, the Surgeon's Mate. Willing my exhausted brain to stay up a little later, lest my time become totally whack.

I slept well in the borrowed bed, despite the street noise. Early in the morning I was awakened to a tremendous boom -- a noise that my brain first identified as an empty dumptruck taking a bump. But it and subsequent booms were followed by the low, long, growl of thunder. In my sleep addled way, I began to wonder because I had never remembered a boom like that, although it seemed a natural thing for lightning to do -- in fact, thunder in retrospect seems rather odd. Why are there long peals of thunder when lightning strikes are sudden and momentary? A question I did not ponder long as I fell right back to sleep.

My dreams were long and usually odd -- some stressful some not. Which is a good description of my day today (more on that later)

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Been spending the past few nights and days going through news pages. Looking at speech after speech of President Bush. It was a strange and hard thing to do, his oft repeated phrase of "ushering in an era of personal responsibility" hit a chord with me... How exactly is he ushering it in? By not owning up to any mistakes? Reading about his religion and faith, and how he applies is to his job (in New York Times magazine) gives me the creeps.

Here's the results of the work anyway.

I also did this as a CSS expirement

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

First Rain

We had a big rainstorm sweeping across us all this morning. It was delicious. Ever since I was young I have loved the sound of rain if nothing else. In a book I created in kindergarden I had wrote that one of my favorite sounds was "rainwater going down the street drains."

I even like biking in the rain, all my gear on the sounds and smells of splashing water. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

I like to ride in the rain
my bike tires sending up their own shower
a muddy streak on my back
glasses fogged
drips down my cheek
as i ride into the rain
the smell of ozone on the pavement
my torso warm
and dry

A poem I wrote to win a gortex jacket recently (I'm not sure anyone else submitted anything).

The picture is from inside Ramblas one of my favorite dinner AND brunch places of late.

Monday, October 18, 2004

morning light

morning clouds
Woke up this morning to a beautiful but somewhat unnatural orange glow diffusing through the house. I cursed I found out my camera batteries were near dead, and the light had pretty much faded to grey by the time they had enough juice. The clouds were still pretty though as the above picture can attest.

Saw Paul Hawken speak as part of Stewart Brand's Long Now Foundation monthly lecture series... It was a good speech, as others have attested. It also began a serendipitous evening: dinner with a friend I haven't hung out with in a while; meeting my long time acquaintance mike; bumping into some coworkers who unexpectedly took me up on my invite; drinks with them; drinks with some old coworkers; and then bumping into an even older coworker -- who just happened to know my upstairs neighors who were also there.

Which led to the next night, a dance performance which was pretty fabulous, where I ran into a friend of my little sister, and possibly a TA (or close enough) from my days at UM.

Sunday was not nearly so exciting. I did do this (3Mb QT), but it ain't quite done.

Meanwhile 'Deep is knocking on doors in Florida. Go 'deep!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

fish are cool


From a recent trip to Monterey. I could watch the fish for hours. It's a wonder I've never owned a fish tank. Click the image for more -- we got to see the first white shark to last more than a couple days in captivity. She was as menacing as you might imagine (not that you can tell from the pictures), except for the fact that half the tuna in the talk outweighed her (one recently took a nibble out of her)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Confusion

It ocurred to me yesterday that the study of the inner workings and decisions of cell phone companies would be immensely fascinating. Liz and I were purchasing new phones--a replacement for one lost, and one failing--and trying to figure out which plan made the most sense to us (Liz did most of the work on that).

The woman setting up our new choices was rapidly going through a bewildering array of options (in a pretty crappy interface no less), and I had to wonder -- are there teams of accountants and actuarians devising these ever more complex plans to eek out a few extra cents here and there? laying traps for the unwary consumer? is it just bored cubicle farm workers seeking a little entertainment? or is it just a ploy to frustrate competition?

The answer fascinates me, partly because it bears on a conversation I've been having with a friend on the free market, which is somewhat related to the book I'm reading right now, Neal Stephenson's The Confusion - the middle (and overall much more fun) portion of his Baroque Cycle.

Monday, October 11, 2004

got their head on backwards

If you walk or bike down market street you have probably seen this ad. I have the occassion to stop by the ad every day several times on my commute to and from work, and it bugs the hell out of me. No doubt do to the wonders of air brushing the woman's skin has no particular features, so it is hard to tell if that is her front or backside. Given the position of the orange skin, it looks like her front side -- consequently, it looks like her head is on backwards. What were they thinking?! If anyone mentions Cointreau from now, I will immediately have this image pop into my head.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Whale Watching

Friends et al, getting ready for an 8 hour cruise out to the Farallones Islands and back under the auspices of Save the Bay. It was a grey day mostly, and for while, it did not look promising -- despite seeing a sunfish floating at the surface, and a ton of birdlife, at one notable instant, streaming from miles in all directions to one point far off our starboard bow. But no sharks rose to challenge us as we cruised past the Farallones, and the islands seemed not quite as busy with birdlife and sealions as they should have been.

But another boat had spotted a couple humpbacks and we made our way over. They were feeding and not particularly interested in us, but neither did they completely dissappear and avoid us ( as blues did to me and liz on a different boat a couple years ago ). We followed one along for a while, he/she even brought his or her nose out of the water as it swam along, and was within a boatlength or two for a while.

We also started to see a lot of sealions, rafting together or porpoising out in mad dashes to somewhere. It was cool to watch. They seemed to like hanging out with the whales as well.

The boat headed back, the passengers -- fairly well satisfied -- began to crash as they stopped fighting off the effects of dramamine (which I thankfully had not taken). I stared off at the sea on the sunny, non windy side of the boat for much of the way back, enjoying the play of light on water.

And then three more humpbacks showed up about halfway back, and stopped still a couple boatlengths distant to check us out a little before showing us the backsides of their flippers as they kicked into the depths. I would have given a lot to have been able to dive in after them and check 'em out underwater.

The best show in a way though was as we approached the gate, and the sky was suddenly alive with birds, and the water seemed to sprout porpoises swimming madly about; add to that a backdrop of the golden gate bridge and para gliding surfers, sailboats and some sun, it was a pretty glorious moment. For the fish the porpoises and birds were after it was probably a massacre, but I'm sure most got away.