Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Education

I am debating adding the following to my résumé, under the education section:

Knows how to locate an air leak in and patch a bike inner tube. Learned after walking 10 miles home through Silicon Valley after spare tube burst crossing the Dumbarton Bridge.

So I know you're supposed to carry a patch kit with you when you go on bike rides. But since I've never had much success finding leaks, I always carried a spare tube with me instead. This method doesn't work very well when you lose two tubes on one ride. Yes.

Also, I have two things to say that nobody cares about. First, I know why most places in the valley don't allow left on green, but all these places should allow left on green and eliminate left-turn arrows during low-traffic periods (for example, all the commercial parks in northern San José and Santa Clara on weekends). Also turn off the traffic lights at the parking lot entrances on weekends. If we can deal with lanes that change directions we can deal with that, and it would make my bike rides more pleasant. There is little enough traffic that the people pulling out of the lots would be better off fending for themselves. Second, it would be really really awesome if when they swept debris off the roads they would sweep it all the way to the curb instead of leaving it all in the middle of the bike lanes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am just going to let this stand on its own...

Heard while walking down the halls of my company:

"Either that or make people that make less than $30,000 pay 50% income tax like we do. Half of 'em are thieves anyway."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mountain Charlie

Mountain Charlie was a man, a California man. He lived in the Santa Cruz mountains up at the top of a hill. He fought a bear and lived to tell the tale. And as seems fitting for a Californian, he built a road: Mountain Charlie Road.

I biked on Mountain Charlie Road today, and if you ever find yourself generally anywhere near the Santa Cruz mountains you should do it to. If you're up for an 81-mile ride that climbs from essentially sea level up to 1800ft, back down, back up again and then back down, you should do the whole ride! Mountain Charlie Road is paved with dark chocolate and the trees on the mountainside drop fruits spun from silver and gold, and when it rains up there, well it didn't rain today but I'm sure when it does it rains delicious beer. Mmmm delicious beer.

I didn't bring my camera with me because I thought, "Oh, I've already seen Santa Cruz, and pictures of beaches are boring." Mountain Charlie Road made that a big mistake. I would have taken three pictures. Two of the two most spectacular views I've seen in California, and one of the stuff that I described in the last paragraph, just so you don't think I'm shitting y'all or nothin'.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

... and seeing that I'm going to launch into this rant,

I at least want y'all fair readers to know why I'm doing it.

I went this past weekend to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains. There are big redwoods there. I could construct a big tree-like structure indicating dependencies of reasons that I went, but that would neither be brief nor linear enough for blogging. And that wouldn't even get me all the way to one of the reasons for the rant I'm about to do. You see, everything is extremely complicated (every time I try to think about ideas I'm bowled over by tangents, trying to find my place in an inorder traversal of the knowledge that I'm drawing on, and my mind does not do a good job of stack management), to the extent that I cannot understand how people ever take action, knowing that their action could potentially generate a flurry of knowledge, and that trying to gather that flurry into something just simple enough to be meaningful is likely to break my brain! How could they be so thoughtless!?! So I went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park because Heather stopped by and crashed at my apartment with her roommate Leah during their vacation in northern California, and we were thinking about going to Yosemite but we realized that it would be full of snow, and I knew from the bay area cycling guide that Aunt Nancy sent me from when she lived in the bay area that Big Basin Park had big redwoods and this fact was corroborated by Heather's Stanford Law student friend whose name I don't remember, who strongly recommended the park. And now we go from selected excerpts from the roots to this one point on the tree to park of the branch that goes from it. Still later will come the real point of this post. Patience. To lift an idea from the Magnetic Fields, the book of life is long and boring. We liked the park so much that we went back the next day, armed with the camping equipment they'd brought, and also Leah got in touch with some friends she'd met in Portland who were vacationing together in California and the six of us camped in the park that night.

Specifically Leah and her friends that met in Portland met doing Political Stuff and were all fairly involved and interested in progressive/liberal (in the US sense of the word... omg foreshadowing) politics. That then became conversation fodder as we drank delicious locally-brewed beer around the campfire (and there are a few really awesome campfire and beer related stories that I'm simply not going to tell here because they're off-topic, I'm just going to leave that out there as a tease). And I went off for a while on how I didn't like the word "progressive". And I guess this is the thing, because I can't articulate what I mean until having about 2 days to think about it: I have to be progressive, because the future is great (alternately: the past totally sucked and we haven't really fixed it yet), regressive because there were some great things in the past (alternately: we've fucked up and thrown away everything we had, and aren't likely to get it back any time soon) and preservationist because the present is great (alternately: it took us a long time to dig out of all that shit from the past, and the future's going to be an even bigger pile of slightly-different-but-functionally-equivalent shit at the current rate).

Really, now. Progress is something that happens. In our particular region of spacetime this correlates with entropy rising. More locally than that it means death and taxes; somewhere near taxes on the scale of inevitability/localness lies the increase of Earth's human population. Solidly between death and taxes lie inequality, poverty and strife. Also joy, just for balance. Way more on the local/uninevitable end than taxes fall most political issues. They are walls, you push on them and then you bounce off and fall over, but you've maybe moved the wall a little bit. And some of the really local ones seem to have not so much walls as waves of humans crashing together like a giant Rugby scrum trying to move the status quo in the n-dimensional space they live in.

So, The Times, They Are a Changin' is awfully progressive. Get out of the way of these shifting walls, get behind 'em, push 'em harder, cries Dylan-but-in-Al's-words (really Dylan sounded much better with his own, but this is Al's blog and he rules it with an iron fist in an iron glove that is responsible for lots of clumsy typing)! But someone that was totally progressive would get behind the push of civil rights as it was at its excited peak speed in Dylan's time, get behind the currently accelerating push for gay marriage, and get behind the global warming struggle: you know, global warming is about to run away, let's all consume just a little more and see if we can't get Sacramento some coastline, with a nice harbor for launching day cruises to the Island of Former Mt. Hamilton, or expeditions from the Isle to dig up old caches of pirate microchips in the underwater cities from San José up to Palo Alto. No, people decide whether the change is good and then do what they can to make the change they want. And once you choose some progress and not other progress, you have got to be something other than progressive. Saying one change is progress more than another is just opinion and rhetoric. When people tell me I'm regressive because I'd really prefer that people made the decision to live in tighter communities, closer to their neighbors and jobs, rather than making longer commutes in cleaner cars, I guess I'll just give them that, because it doesn't matter. For the record, I'll push for simplicity when I can, whether that gets called progressive, regressive or stubborn.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Wheel of Fortune

fortune is a simple program. When you install it it stores many snippets of text (usually funny or wise quotations) in files on your computer. When you run it it displays one of them for you to read. So many Unix geeks configure their shells to run fortune at startup, so that every time they pop open a command terminal they get a dose of humor or wisdom (some take care when doing this not to cause extraneous output in the case that the shell is invoked by rcp or similar programs such as scp, because they think that extraneous output breaks rcp; this is not really true: rcp is already broken because it relies on such particular formatting from the shell, and I find the insistence that I bend my .bashrc backwards for such a poorly thought-out program onerous).

Anyhow, today fortune showed me a quotation from Oscar Wilde: "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." It made me laugh. You see, if you told me, "We should all look for the good in life," I'd probably tell you to stuff it. But if you told me, "Life sucks, but we should all look for the good in life," I'd think you just said something profound and wise. Yep, I'm a fool for sure.

Would you like to write this blog?

Wow, I have not posted to this blog in a long time... because I have not had original things to say? That sounds awful. Anyhow, Blog, I saw a bus on the way to work today and thought of you.

It was a bus from a retirement home and on the back it had the message, "Would you like to drive this bus? Call (408)xxx-yyyy". I thought that it must be stressful for the driver, doing his job in a vehicle with an advertisement on the outside seeking his replacement.

I ought to put something like that in my code. Instruct the computer to show you a message when you boot: Would you like to code this driver? Call (408)247-2539.