Monday, December 22, 2008

Sick Sophie

We mistakenly left a bowl of mixed nuts on the dining table yesterday afternoon and the dog promptly ate them. Unfortunately for Sophie, some of the included nuts were Macadamias. Apparently, Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. When we woke up this morning, Sophie was suffering the symptoms: wobbly walking, vomiting and depression (although I can't really give a definite diagnosis on this one). Sophie spent the day sleeping in her bed and was fine by the evening, just like a bad Macadamia nut hangover.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Sophie dug a big hole in the garden.


* We went up to Palomar Mountain State Park to see the snow. I went a slightly different route up there that took us past Lake Wohlford, which I have never seen. At the park, the sun was out and the weather great.


The kids made snowmen...


threw snowballs and tried sledding without sleds...




The dog loved it as well, especially when a squirrel scampered across the snow.

* Took my parents to see Dr. Suess' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! as the Old Globe theater. The acting and music were great but the stage was the best part of the show. The scenery people outdid themselves on this one. The only negative was the heat in the theater, too hot for me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Kids went to Disneyland for the Christmas festivities.
* Kids had their Christmas piano recital. Jaya played "We Three Kings" and Bengt played "Good Kind Wencelas".
* Waited for the storm.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Jaya held a garage sale and was quite the little salesperson
* Lux Art Institute Open House
* Hike at San Elijo nature center and South Cardiff

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend Activities

* 2 Thanksgiving Dinners sans kids (they were in St. Louis visiting my brother).
* Build another loft bed for Bengt. This one was shorter than Jaya's.
* Hiked San Elijo Lagoon with the dog.
* Painted the ceiling (over a year after we removed the popcorn).
* Put up a dartboard in the garage.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Record Rainfall

San Diego is deluged with over 1 inch of rain. Truly a storm of biblical proportions. Note that sections of Florida received 15 inches in one day during Tropical Storm Fay.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"See No Evil" by Baer

"See No Evil" is an extremely interesting look into the CIA from 70's through 9/11 from a bottom up view.  The first section is a surprisingly candid look at the nuts of bolts of HUMINT (at least the way it used to be according to the author).  The later sections describe the gradual disintegration of the CIA starting from Reagan and culminating with the complete intelligence failure that led to 9/11.  Although the author finds fault with the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, he minces no words when describing the utter disdain the Clinton administration had for the CIA.  A novice observer might argue that with the Cold War over, there was/is no need to maintain an expensive overseas intelligence framework.  However, Clinton's policy of appeasement made us blind to terrorists and other threats (like China and Russia).  It also contributed to the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq War.
Written right after 9/11, this book has some interesting characters that are seen in a much different light 7 years later.  One is Ahmed Chalabi.  Baer writes about Chalabi's efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the mid 90's that Clinton refused to support (for nefarious reasons the author later found out).  Chalabi was then a prime mover in getting Bush to invade Iraq in 2003.  If the CIA has boots on the ground, that whole mess might not have happened.
It will interesting to look back at the Bush administration to see if he allowed the CIA to get back to its roots and foster a new HUMINT network.  One lesson we need to learn is that there are always bad guys and we need to keep an eye on them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PMBA Books

Two more books from the PMBA. Note that the PMBA has an updated list so some of the books I have read are no longer on it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Hiking at Guajome County Park.
* Classics 4 Kids concert at the newly renovated Balboa Theatre. The Balboa is a wonderful venue. I highly recommend taking your children to see Classics 4 Kids to kick start their appreciation of the arts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Awesome Adventure Princess event at Agua Caliente County Park. Visited the mud caves which were amazing. They are formed by water carving tunnels through the hills, but they look like they were drilled out by man. Tested out the new pool which is unheated buy very refreshing.
* Kids had a piano recital.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stock Ratings

Is there anything more ridiculous than brokerage stock "ratings"?  One example of how worthless these ratings are can be found in todays GM news.  JPMorgan just now decided that GM is deserving of a downgrade.  But even given the stock's 65-year lows and the very real chance the company could go under any day now, the geniuses give it a rating of "neutral".  Not a "sell" or "shitty" rating, but a "neutral".  What does it take to get a bad rating?  It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the stock itself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Soon to be Homeless

The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean is looking for a new home. If you have a spare bedroom or room for 273,800, give them a call.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Activites

* Built a bottom bunk for Jaya's loft bed
* Walked the dog in the rain
* Visited the new SRF book shop

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Break Up the Trojans

Maybe Obama will help distribute the college football wealth like he will all our money.  At least UCLA might be able to complete.

Single Muslims

Came across this image ad on some site. I thought it was a joke.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Had a Guides event at Del Mar Beach. We had great weather this time; no rain, thankfully. Not many activities to spoil the lazy time on the beach.



* St. A's had its Fall Festival fundraiser for the Sudanese outreach. Our chili entry again failed to win. Green Flash brewery was on tap which made a perfect compliment to the chili.

Laws of Unintended Consequences

DMCA was passed 10 years ago today and Wired has an interested take on its first decade in force.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greenspan Shocked, Absolutely Shocked

What a joker this guy is.  The Fed is the primary cause of all these problems. Considering this was a guy firmly in the belief of free markets (and the gold standard), it makes it more surprising what a political buffoon he has turned into.

Update: Ron Paul thinks so to.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rocketry

This story about amateur rocketeers demonstrates pure American ingenuity and the human desire to explore and expand our knowledge. That being said, I am certain the government will shut them down sooner or later.

TSA Comms

This is too funny.  But given the probable reaction from the screener, I would make sure that you have plenty of time before your flight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Playing darts, dog-sitting, baking cookies, roasting chickens

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Politics

I started a new political blog here if anyone is interested in nationwide and local Encinitas issues.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Woodcutters Weekend

The kids and I have been going to Camp Marston near Julian for several years now. I always wanted my wife to go to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out that the camp has a Woodcutters Weekend that families can attend. Your family gets to stay at the camp at no charge, but in return you have to cut wood, literally. We spend 8 hours on Saturday and a few more on Sunday turning big pieces of wood into little pieces wood.
Here is a before picture of the wood pile.

Here is the after picture of the pile; it is more impressive in person.

The family operating dangerous machinery

Friday, October 10, 2008

Land Of Lost Knives (and box cutters, wine openers, etc)

Every wonder what happens to all those pocket knives, box cutters, wine openers or anything mildly hard and/or sharp that the TSA confiscates are airports? You would think that these items which are so dangerous they can't be allowed on a plane, would be melted down into paper clips. Don't want these weapons to end up in the wrong hands, do we now.
But it seems that the geniuses at the TSA just hand the knives off to your local schools. Here is but a small sample of the potential hijacking instruments that were removed from the hands of law-abiding citizens and given to 3rd graders.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Weekend Activities

Slow weekend. Did two dog walks, one of which was a return to Pipe Hike (aka Manchester Preserve).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Change

Change is a word that being thrown out a lot these days.  Barack Obama popularized the trend during the Democratic primaries and he used it to overcome Hillary Clinton, something I didn't think was probable.  I have written about change recently as well, mainly due to the disgust with our current government.  But I think my definition is different than Obama's.  I require a change in government that means more freedom, more responsibility (both personal and by government), less government (in all areas, defense, entitlements, etc.).
When Obama speaks of change, I am not sure what he means.  I have not seen anything in his platform that constitutes real change.  Yes, his platform differs from John McCain's in some minor ways, but neither candidate has solutions to the government's problems.
On the Encinitas city council, change here would be getting back to responsible government.  When we first moved here, the city seemed very well run (and for the most part, still is).  Yet it has started down the slippery slope of corruption and greed that the federal government has been sliding down for decades.  Corruption in the sense that certain council members seem to want to hide from decisions, meet in closed sessions.  Greed in the sense that the council tries to pass illegal and/or unethical taxes (i.e. the water tax from a few years ago).  Greed in the escalating salaries, benefits and costs of running the city.  The goal of the council should not be to have your name on as many plaques on as many public properties as possible, but to serve the residents of your city.  In my mind, only one (possibly two) of the current council members does this, Teresa Barth.  Hopefully more will join her.
Do I think that the other council members are bad people. No, they seem likable enough and I have never seen evidence of major wrong-doing.  The issue is the age-old problem of power and money corrupting those who hold it.  A lot of what they did for the city was good.  But after years of building small parks (Moonlight Beach), they feel the need to build a huge, overblown park that nobody wants (Hall property).  After having a small, but usable public works facility, they feel the need to overpay for a dilapidated car dealership.  That kind of service we don't need.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Voice of Reason

TMQ's Gregg Easterbrook is usually right on the money when it comes to the lack of common sense in our government.  Today is no exception as he gives some wise advice to our lawmakers.  I've often wondered why governments seem to get fleeced in deals with non-government entities.  Just look at all the lousy sports stadiums deals in the country.  The reason is that they have the Warren Buffett's on their side and the government has Congress.  It is not a fair match.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can We Believe This Man? Now? Please?

WMD's in Iraq, nuclear weapons in Iran, uncountable numbers of overblown "terrorism" warnings, now the collapse of the US economy. Last I heard, the economy was still growing, albeit slowly, but nothing that seems to warrant the dire forebodings the government is putting out.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Elfin Forest Reserve - sans kids, did the Way Up Trail to the top. Only 1.5 miles but straight up. A bit too hot still, but will be a good one to try during winter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

World's Most Dangerous Golf Course

I wonder what the rules of golf say about a plane interfering with your line of play.  Free drop perhaps.

Bob N. and the NC Times

Does Bob Nanninga work for the North County Times?  Or is he just extremely available for comments on every article the NC Times does on Encinitas, especially when it concerns the city council.  Reporter Ruth Webster sought fit to get Nanninga's comments on the sidewalk dining policy that might be under consideration for alterations.  Why were none of the other 10 or so council candidates consulted for their views?  Granted, Bob N. does own a downtown business, a restaurant in fact, but that pertinent information was not mentioned in the article.  The Bob Nanninga political machine is hard at work it seems.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Hiked Calaveras Mountain for the first time. We didn't make it to the top this time but plan to in the near future. I give the city of Carlsbad two years max before they develop this land.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Hiked Elfin Forest Reserve for the first time.



* Adventure Guides event at Indian Hills.

Topos

I wanted to teach my son how to use a compass, something I learned back in my pre-GPS Boy Scout days. I started digging on USGS topographical maps. They finished with the basic mapping project in 1992 and are now in update mode. Their website doesn't give a lot of detail, but they said they will update the maps that have the greatest interest. Most of the maps around San Diego were updated in 1997 (except for the Encinitas one which was updated in 1975 making it fairly useless).
The USGS does offer free scans of the maps. Here is a good blog post on how to download the PDF's of the maps. I tried to print them out on regular paper but Adobe couldn't tile the larger image onto 8.5x11 paper, it just printed a scaled image or a single tile. The only way I could use regular sized paper was to select the area of the map I wanted and print only that selection (note that Foxit Reader does not offer this feature). It was trial and error to get the selection to fit onto one page, otherwise it would be cropped. I actually taped a couple pages together to get a usable map this way.
I still might buy software which I assume solves all these problems, but I would really like to find out if they update their maps more than the USGS or just use the same ones.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How 'Bout Them Angels!

Let's see another Series win this time.

Windows Mobile 6

CingularAT&T is offering a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 for Blackjack 1.0 owners. I am applying the upgrade now and will report back after I have used it for a while.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Weekend Activities

* San Elijo Lagoon nature center hike - the new nature center is started to come along nicely. It is still too big for my tastes but I can't wait for it to be completed.
* Choctaw kickoff meeting at Poinsettia Park
* Fun at Cottonwood Creek Park

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

US Military Mythbusters

I recently finished two books that purport to bust some of the myths that surround various aspects of US military history.
The first is "Dirty Little Secrets of Vietnam War" by James Dunnigan and Albert Nofi. In the '80's I knew Dunnigan from work with wargames (the Avalon Hill paper and cardboard variety, not the "Call of Duty" kind). From the title, you would expect top secret information to be divulged about nefarious operations and political wrangling. But while the book is good, it does not really contain "secrets" per se. It does have tons of stats and facts about the Vietnam war. Some of which dispel certain myths (such as the supposed "defeat" we suffered during the Tet Offensive in 1968) and backs up others (the gradual degradation in the morale and quality of the military during the war). If you are interested in learning the numbers behind some of the generalizations of the Vietnam War, I highly recommend this book. If you are looking for top secret blockbuster information, look somewhere else.
The second book is "Patriot Battles" by Michael Stephenson. This book goes over the armies on both sides of the American Revolution. The first half of the book has details on the men, weapons and equipment of the opposing ground forces. Although the jacket says it will dispel myths about the Continental Army, it really doesn't have any true revelations. Probably the most startling to the casual reader is the ineffectiveness of the American militias. The common view of the militias is that of brave men grabbing their musket from the mantle and heading off to fight the red coats at a minute's notice. In fact, the militia had a terrible record against the British in standard engagements. Only late in the war (such as at Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse) were they used effectively and then only as a screen for the line. The second half of the book has accounts of the major battles. My main gripe about the book is the author's occasional comparison between modern warfare (mainly Iraq) and the Revolutionary War. These comparison have a political tilt to them and come off as clumsy and out of place. The primary reason for the book seems to be to put the American side down. Very rarely does he give credit to the commanders and men in the Continential Army. The Amazon reviews have the same views, but a bit on the harsh side.

Shaara Revolutionary War Saga

Jeff Shaara's Revolutionary War saga, Rise To Rebellion and The Glorious Cause, are my favorite Shaara books. The first volume covers the years leading up the revolution, independence and the war through 1776 (Concord, Bunker's Hill, etc). The second book covers the war from 1777 through the surrender at Yorktown. The books follow the primary military and polical figures of the time: Franklin, Adams (both Sam and John), Washington, Greene, Cornwallis and others. The American figures are suger-coated a bit but the English are given fair treatment. The "first-hand" accounts of the events prior to the war, such as the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party are very well done and have a nice intenseness to them. My only regret (other than having only life to give for my country), is that Shaara did not follow a grunt. I love the low level point of view given in his later books and it would have been great to see Valley Forge from the infantry's perspective.

Weekend Activities

* A nice hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. We really enjoy the nature center their as it is very hands on and the people are great.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

For Better Or For Worse

The well known comic strip, "For Better Or For Worse", ended today. I have been reading FBOFW for years now and have always enjoyed the stories. It was especially interesting since it flowed in real time, the characters where not frozen in time like most strips. It will be interesting to see how the "new" strips will play out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Garden Images

Seeing how many flies there are, this is something I would like to see more of.

Sign of the Devil

A recent screenshot of my email folders showed 666 spam emails. A sure sign of impending doom.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Replaced a broken belt tensioner on the car.
* Fixed a leaky tub drain.
* Birch Aquarium - nothing new to report, although the octopus is getting very large.
* Drove around the UCSD campus and made a stop at the Geisel Library. It is a very striking building from afar, but the concrete constructions looks very rough when up close. We went up to the 7th floor to see the views but the windows were quite dirty. They had a couple of neat exhibits. One contained a small sampling of Geisel's artwork and books. On the arts and music floor, they had a Etch-A-Sketch display. Apparantly, the library will give you an Etch-A-Sketch for you to draw with and they will put it in the display. We might go back and give this a try. The kids had lots of questions about college. My daughter was very interested in the independence that college offers (mainly that no one forces you to attend classes).

Bricksack

Bricksack is now live! Check it out for the easiest way to store Lego, WebKinz and all kinds of toys.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blog Changes

Made a few changes to the blog.

  • Added Digg and Yahoo Buzz widgets.

  • Enabled anonymous comments.

  • Fixed some html bugs.

Cuban Missile Crisis

I recently read "One Minute To Midnight" by Michael Dobbs. It is a new book on the Cuban Missile Crisis and supposedly has new information. The author claims that he accessed sources that were previously not accounted for, Russian soldiers, for example. Some revelations (according to the author) include the fact that the Soviets had nuclear cruise missiles deployed just a few miles from Guantanamo Bay, unbeknownst to US forces. The books also has a complete accounting of the U-2 flight that accidentally strayed over Western Russia during the crisis.
The book is thorough and very interesting to read. The dynamic between the different factions in the Kennedy administration is fascinating to follow.
My only real nitpick is that Dobbs constantly compares every nuclear device to the Hiroshima bomb. The is fine once or twice, but he over does it.
If you are interested at all in Cold War history, I recommend "One Minute To Midnight."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ghost Sites of the Web: The End of Cyber-History (My Small Part Of It, Anyway)

I have been following Ghost Sites for at least 10 years now. Along with Yahoo and ESPN, it is probably the site I have been regularly visiting over the longest period of time. Steve Baldwin, the curator, has decided to move on due to a variety of reasons. His blog will still be in my feed reader but I will always enjoy reading of the ghost sites of the web.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Hiked San Elijo Lagoon from the La Bajada trailhead. Halfway to the 5, Jaya sprained her ankle quite badly and it swelled up like a peach. I had to carry here piggyback most of the way back.
* Walked Sophie at Cardiff Seaside beach during the evening. I love the beach in the late afternoon to dusk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bessie Has Left the Building

After 14 years of loyal service, Bessie has been passed on to another owner. May she live long and prosper.






Is 'Surge' the New 'Gate'?

Recently , John McCain said the U.S. needs 'economic surge'.
Is the word 'surge' now going to be added to everything that demonstrates any measure of extra effort in the same way that 'gate' is annoyingly added to every quasi-scandal the media comes across. Coming soon: 'Obama surge', 'war-on-drugs surge', 'Britney surge'; it will never stop.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Lunch with Chuck at Dave's BBQ in Vista - the BBQ was excellent
* Finished painting and replacing the hardware on the garage entry door.
* Installed Tiki torched in front patio.
* Attended Cardiff Dog Days of Summer for the third straight year - this was the hottest year yet and Sophie still does not like other dogs. It seemed like the vendor booths where more popular this year but the contests were less popular, go figure. Another phenomenon was the number of pet portrait services. I don't remember any from last year but this year I counted at least 4, from photography to paintings.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Book Update

Books I have recently completed:

  • A Year in Provence - a clever and witty book about living in Provence by Peter Mayle. A perfect travel/airplane book. Highly recommended

  • The Steel Wave - the second in Jeff Shaara's WWII trilogy covers the Normandy invasion and the subsequent breakout. This one is better than the first.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hawaii

Just got back from a wonderful week long family vacation on the Garden Isle of Hawaii, Kauai.
* Discovered Queen's Bath in Princeville. It is a very steep and muddy hike down to the lava rocks. The adventure was better than the snorkeling.
* Rented bikes and rode the new pathway along the Kapaa coast.
* Shore-dived Tunnels on the North Coast. Saw a couple of sleeping white tip reef sharks, eels and two small turtles. The current was rough coming in on the first dive. IMHO, Tunnels is a better snorkeling spot than scuba.
* Caught a luau at Smith's Tropical Paradise. The grounds were wonderful, the food delicious, and the show was great. I highly recommend this luau.
* Did the 2 mile Kalalu trail segment to the first beach. When we reached the beach, we some locals returning from a pig hunting party. They had about a dozen dogs that rounded up the pigs which the men then killed with a knife. These guys already had one pig dressed and one fellow carried like a backpack. Jaya thought it was very creepy.
* Kayaked up the Wailua River to Secret Falls. The hike to the falls was worth it. The kids did some great paddling even with the fierce winds coming back.
* Got a lot of beach time right in front of the condo. The kids were old enough to tolerate the waves.
* Good eats: Chaka Taco in Kapaa, Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Atlanta Vacation

We recently went to Atlanta to visit family. Some of the highlights:
* Stone Mountain - awesome time at the small amusement park. Loved the SkyHike even with its two hour line. Bought a fire poker made the resident blacksmith. Took the gondola to the top. Took the tram to the top of the mountaingiant rock. Pretty nice views from there given the flatness of the area.
* Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield - this time we drove to the top and saw the amazing view (better than Stone Mountain). Also went to the Dead Angle on Cheatham Hill. Over 5,000 soldiers were killed during the battle, many on Cheatham. For prespective, 19 soldiers died at our local battle site, San Pascual.
* Smyrna Historical Museum - had a nice chat with a life-long resident. My wife may donate some of her high school yearbooks next time we go.

Monday, July 07, 2008

4th of July Weekend

My parents live in Santa Ana, last refuge of the "safe and sane" fireworks. Growing up, we bought fireworks, but never to the quantity that I wished. A couple of years ago, my brother was in town for the 4th and we were like kids in a candyfirework shop. This year, we bought a large (but not quite "block party" size) box of pyrotechnics. The kids loved the little items: ground bloom flowers, sparklers, worms, lightning bugs, etc. It gives a parent great satisfaction to teach their brood how to start the fuse of an explosive device without losing a finger or hand. As we set off our fireworks, the rest of the neighborhood joined in. There were multitudes of air-burst rockets, like mini-Disneyland fireworks. I imagine they were purchased in Tijuana given the area's large Mexican population. In any case, I was very jealous; the bottle rockets we had as kids were pathetic compared to the new ones.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

billg retires

Bill Gates has "retired" from Microsoft. The end of an era, perhaps. I've often wondering why Gates and Microsoft get such a bad rap. They certainly played hardball but in my opinion most of their competitors created their own problems and/or couldn't keep up. That is the beauty of free enterprise. A small company can come up with great products, cut even better deals and make a fortune. The PC industry grew so fast so quick just because of brilliant people like Gates (and many others), not because the government was there to control what came with our operating systems. Microsoft may be on the downturn, but its rise will be one for the history books. Mr. Gates created enormous wealth, let's sit back and watch him use it.
Here is an Then & Now shot of the classic early MS pic.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers' Day Activities

* Started a big maintenance job on the BMW: fix two leaky hydraulic hoses (more on this in a later post), replace the transmission filter and fluid, replace the front brake rotors, fix the front brake squealing, and replace the rear brakes.
* Fixed the front garden irrigation system.
* The kids had their final piano concert until classes begin again in the fall.
* Had a PTA transition meeting from the old board to the new board (I am El Presidente).

Hyundai Sante Fe Review

After driving the Santa Fe for a few weeks, I have some initial thoughts on the car.

Cons
* No backup sensors, would be a nice option
* After putting the car into park, it rolls an inch or so; this can be disconcerting
* Auto transmission just like all other wimpy automatics
* I hate that new car smell
* The option package we got includes the tow prep package which has an enlarged radiator and a transmission cooler, but no hitch; how about throwing in the hitch for a couple more bucks so I don't have to go back to get it installed

Pros
* Love the styling
* Leather is very nice
* Pre-tinted windows keep the interior cool
* Nav system is cool
* Third row of seats very handy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fork It Over

Just finished "Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater" by Alan Richman. I loved Richman's articles when I read GQ. This book is a collection of those plus others from "Food & Wine" and other publications. I love Richman's dry, witty style. I just wish he included the article on Djibouti.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Trip to the dump - here was the goodbye committee:


* Saw "Prince Caspian" - not a big fan of the Narnia series but my daughter is and she won out over Indy.

* Fixed the kids' closer doors - they were a 1/8" too long due to the unevenness of the floor, so we had to shave some material off the bottom to fit in the floor guides

* Cleaned up the backyard - with the old playhouse off to the dump, I vacuumed up all the leaves and pine needles and put in a new light fixture; it looks very nice now

* Saw the whip snake at San Elijo again - this is the second time we have seen it roughly the same spot

Hyundai Spam

Here is the first spam we got after buying our new car. Notice the professional mail merge. You can tell Hyundai is a big company when they have the money to spend on quality correspondence with their customers.

Hi,

I’m the Sales Manager at [Dealer_Name]. I wanted to drop you a quick line and personally thank you for allowing [Dealer_Name] to recently satisfy your new vehicle needs.

If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase or the treatment you received from my team, I would like to personally hear from you. Your satisfaction is my number one priority.

I also wanted to give you a heads-up that we will be sending you a satisfaction survey regarding your purchase experience with us. Please take this opportunity to give your opinions regarding our dealership and my team.

If there’s anything I can do, please email me or call me at [Dealer_Main_Phone].

Thanks again for your business.

Sales Manager
[Dealer_Name]
[Dealer_Main_Phone]

Monday, June 02, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Biked 10.5 miles
* Great Adventure Princess event at Indian Hills

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Car

I ventured onto a new car lot for the first time in over 13 years to get me one of those fancy new horseless carriages.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Personal MBA

I knocked out a few more PMBA books.

  • The 4-Hour Workweek - the seminal book for the "New Rich". I bought this one and have been reading and re-reading it. Have even put some of it into action (more on this to come).

  • The Bootstrapper's Bible - great tips for startups and you can't beat the price.

  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers - pretty much what the title suggests. A litte too basic for me.

  • Law 101 - a good intro to the American legal system, warts and tall. I skimmed the sections on tort and Constitutional law and concentrated on contracts and property. This would be a good reference to have on the shelf.

  • Getting Started in Consulting - got this for my wife and didn't read it myself.

Roomba Cleaning Tips

One drawback to the Roomba is that you have to clean it much more than a regular vacuum. I usually have to a complete cleaning after doing the whole house. With practice, I can do this in less than 15 minutes (assuming I don't break anything). Here are some tips:

  • The center wheel gets hair and other debris wrapped around its axle fairly easily. This makes the wheel harder to turn and greatly reduces battery life. I tried removing the wheel and seemed to have broken something inside wheel assembly so I don't recommend this approach (look for a repair entry soon). The best way I have found to clean it is with a good utility knife. Scrape the blade along the axle and up the wheel. This motion will get a lot of the debris out and you can use small needle-nose pliers to further extract it. With a few strokes, I can get the axle completely clean.

  • The beater brush also gets hair wrapped around it. Simply remove the center screw and you can remove it for easy cleaning.

  • iRobot offers a cleaning tool for $5.99. I bought it (along with some spare parts) but it doesn't really do much. The blade is good for cleaning the brush, but you can just use a letter opener or utility knife for that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Activities

* Zoo - haven't been in a while. Noticed the new giraffe home and saw the construction for the new Elephant Mesa. The slow loris was a no-show.
* Finished the front yard patio
* Dinner with family and friends on Orange County
* Started the back yard rehab
* Did a nice 7.4 mile ride from my house to the 101 and back.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Laid down the patio pavers.
* The pool was finally warm enough to go in.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weekend Activities

* More work on garage and front yard.
* Mother's Day BBQ with one grandmother out sick and one wife with a jaw wired shut.

Isreali-Syrian Air Strike Update

It seems that the evidence is mounting that the target was indeed a nuclear facility.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Indian Guides trip to Vail Lake
* Got sick at Vail Lake
* Spent Sunday in bed

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Dorado cocktail party (stayed verrry late)
* Sick on Sunday (not from party...I think)

Isreali-Syrian Air Strike Update

An update from my favorite amateur IMINT analysis blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Old News

All the national news outlets should impose a moratorium on the following topics:
* Gas prices going up - everyone knows what gas prices are doing
* Fire danger in Southern California - everyone knows that fires are a problem in a desert-like climate with lots of brush
* Anything about the economy - the government can't predict the economy, economists can't predict the economy, you can't predict the economy. That is part of the gig when you have a free-market system; sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down. If you want stable, move to Cuba where it never goes up.

On a different note, has there been an inordinate amount of deaths on the North County railroad tracks lately? The UT has yet another one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Personal MBA

On my journey to explore new directions with my career, I cam across a cool biz book site, The Personal MBA. The site author has a list of what he considers to be the best business books on various topics. Since none of us have the time to spend reading every book that comes along, this is great service; especially since other services that you find in airline catalogs can cost hundreds of dollars.
My M.O. is to get the book from the library (they carry some, but not all the books in the list) and then buy it if I really like it and will go back to it. I have read several of the books so far:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Jyoti's jaw surgery.
* Kid's at the grandparents: ate ice cream, watched E.T., went to Disney's California Adventure.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Thoughts from Glenn Beck

I have been reading Glenn Beck's columns on CNN for a few months now and like his ideas. Unfortunately his tax agenda, though sensible and probably supported by most everyone, will never see the light of day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Spent most of Friday at Disneyland on the kid's new annual passes. Lines weren't too long and it wasn't that hot.
* Waited out the heat in our nice cool house (sans a/c).
* Grilled up a fabulous pork tenderloin with my rotisserie grill attachment. Haven't used it in ages, but it cooked up the roast beautifully.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Adventure Guides event at Hurkey Creek near Idyllwild. Great times with laser tag, hikes and nice creek to get muddy in.




* Starting planting out the garden and getting rid of the big mound of grass I ripped up

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Pipe hike
* Started the garden rehab
* San Elijo Lagoon hike - saw 3 deer between the flood control dike and the freeway, a buck and 2 does
* Easter at Grandma's

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Activities

* "Horton Hears a Who"
* Called into work
* Pompeii exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum
* Jaya's piano test, the performance part
* Choctaw meeting

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Encinitas Library

The new Encinitas Library recently opened after being closed for several years. Here is a panorama photo I took of the old facility shortly after it closed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Art Theft

If you are thinking of getting into the business of armed robbery, don't bother with liqueur stores and watch shops where the proprietors are most likely better armed than you. Just head to the local private art museum, wave a gun around and walk out with $163 million worth of paintings. Its just that easy.
If I had an art collection worth that much, I would have better security than a few guys that roll over when "threatened with a pistol" and "forced to the ground."

Then & Now: FLOPS

FLOPS (floating point operations per second) are one way of measuring raw computing power.
Techreport has a review of a three-way SLI graphics card system. This system has 1.7 teraflops just in the graphics subsystem, not counting the CPU. This configuration would cost around $2,000 just for the graphics cards. A lot for a PC these days, but peanuts compared to the old days.
According to Wikipedia, in 1961, a single FLOP would cost you over $1,000. As recently as 2000, a $1,000 buys you a gigaflop; a billion-fold increase in cost efficiency.
With Moore's Law alive and well, who can tell what the future will bring.

Weekend Activities

* Very muddy pipe hike
* Encinitas library grand opening
* Cleaned rooms during another rainy weekend

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Attempt to keep dog alive after she ate a bunch of chocolate (she made it)
* Hike at Manchester Open Preserve
* Kids at Grandma's
* Clean carpets and other stuff around the house
* Jog along 101 from Java Hut to Chesterfield
* Lunch with wife
* Trail walk beside El Camino Real from Lavante to La Costa

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend Activities

* Walked dog at Viewpoint Park and checked out soon-to-be completed Encinitas Library. Went down D Street and strolled in the Seaside Bazaar.
* Kids had a piano recital and both did great.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

SAN Tour (part 2)

Interesting things we learned about San Diego International Airport:

  • There is a runaway plane catch area at the west end of the runway. It looks like a bunch of gray boxes in a big pit that is designed to stop a plane with little damage to it.

  • The airport is home to very successful California least tern nesting sites. The areas have tiny fences around them to keep the chicks from wandering onto the tarmac and taxiways.

  • There is a pet relief area between terminals 1 and 2.

  • Human waste from airliners is disposed of in a little shack just off the east end of the runway. Trucks pump it out of the planes and then pump it into the sewer system.

  • Due to their limited space, SAN is quite anti-general aviation. Since they accept FAA money, they have to allow GA aircraft, but they only have a small area for them. There is only one FBO which is a jet company. I counted only about 10 jets, 1 turboprop and zero piston aircraft.

  • The runway can support large jets like the 747 and 777 but they takeoff with a weight penalty due to the hills of Point Loma directly in the takeoff path to the west. This means they can't carry a full fuel load and wouldn't be able to make it to Asia non-stop, thus they are not cost-effective for the airliners. They also don't see the A380 coming to SAN for similar reasons. They hope that the 787, with its greater fuel efficiency, would be able to make it non-stop even with the weight penalty.

  • Another reason you don't see a lot of 747's is that they must taxi on the north side of the runway due to the narrow south taxiway. This means they have to cross the runway which is not good. Plans are in the works to enlarge the south taxiway by removing some of the old Teledyne-Ryan buildings in the southeast corner of the property.

Friday, February 08, 2008

SAN Tour

The kids and I took a tour San Diego International Airport. It was very interesting and informative. We starting in the commuter terminal and took a bus to terminal 2. When then walked though terminals 2 and 1 learning the history of them as well as the planned expansion. Terminal is interesting in that it was designed from the start to be expandable to two levels both inside and outside. We then took the bus around the entire runway. We even stopped near the tower to watch some takeoffs and landings. I highly recommend it to those interested in aviation.



Looking south from the north side of the tarmac. Commuter terminal on the right, UPS cargo plane on the left.



Southwest 737 landing; shot taken from near the tower

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Batesville, IN

For some reason, I came across the website for Batesville, IN. Check it out here but please turn down your speakers or you will get a taste of the rave action that Batesville is famous for.