Friday, March 31, 2006

Marvelous commute

I started back from Sunnyvale at around 3:45 yesterday, and was home in Tracy at about 5:30. We stopped only once, between Dublin and Livermore. There was no jam at northbound 880 after the merge from 237. I bypassed Sunol in the right lane as usual. Weird, really. Where were all the cars?!

Also, I looked at the parking lot at around 3, when the carpool lanes start. The lot, jammed solid at 11, was almost empty! I cannot imagine what kind of people leave work at 2, but apparently whole building does. That's totally crazy.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

No termites

My termite man from Clark Pest Control, Robert, came by today. He found nothing in traps, despite rains. Can it be that we killed the nest the last time? Heh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

BART was down again

BART is an endless source of bloggage material. I went online to check how it's doing after the yesterday's meltdown and guess what, they broke again this morning. They promise things to get fixed by now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

BART is down

BART trains were stopped for at least an hour around 3 p.m. today, officially with a computer problems. Probably still are. I got a report from a commuter who stayed on the platform in Dublin under the rain for the abovementioned hour, gave up and returned to Tracy. Charming, to say the least. And poor schmucks stuck in trains were really unlucky today.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tanker fire on I-580 near the speedway

I was in a moderate jam on the 580 when returning from Fry's on Saturday (got Chobits v1-v3 and Stellvia v3), caused by rubberneckers. There was a lot of activity on the opposite side in the dip near speedway. Or, actually, near the Grant Line junction.

Today I learned from Tracy News @topix that a tanker was on fire, and it damaged the freeway, which had to be repaired. Obviously, the asphalt burns away if flaming gasoline is pouring at it.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden Waste week.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thin rib-eye

I tried thin rib-eyes from Safeway today. Man those things cook fast, and they turn wafer-thin when they do. The first turn is 5 minutes, 10 minutes total, tops. I think now that pruning them in the same way as normal 2cm rib eye was a bad idea (normally, I remove extra fat to prevent flare-ups).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New blog in Tracy

Well, not really new, but anyway, here goes - The Ignatian Perspective (found at Brian's roll). Weird colors make lots of text unreadable, but this is fixable. He is also at Blogger, which raises some serious questions about the monoculture.

When Google acquired Blogger, they somehow lent the latter a lot of its clout. But in reality, Blogger is as problematic as it always was. It's unreliable, unscalable, insecure (blog hijacking is trivial). I knew about these problems, and my main blog is at LJ, which is miles and miles ahead of Blogger technically. However, I wanted to check if horrors I heard about Blogger were true.

Google services in general fall into two categories: core, which originate at Google Labs, and non-core, which are usually acquisitions, but not always. One of worst failures among the non-cores is Orkut. Orkut (the man) created Orkut (the website) while working at Google, but he did not wet his creation through the Google Lab process, so the architecture of it was not well thought out. He also bungled the implementation (it runs on Windows, and uses ASP frontend). The result is a website just as unreliable and unscalable as Blogger. Worse, it does not plug well into the main Google infrastructure.

Anyway, what now? The Tracy Today was conceived as a throwaway website, but I want to carry on with it for now. And since other bloggers in Tracy seem to be flocking to Blogger, I am going to think about migrating elsewhere. If I were a bit more serious about it, I would get a vanity domain and rented a server. But I am not, so it's going to be some other free-of-charge place.

[P.S. This is just rich: when I went to post this, Blogger reported a problem. "This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate. Status code: 1-500-11."]

Sunday, March 19, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

Yes, it's recycling this week west of Tracy Blvd.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Aching for Falcon news

This has nothing to do with Tracy, but it's not like anyone reads this anyway, so I'd like to announce that Kimball was slacking today. Elon announced at SpaceX's website that the static fire will be done today or tomorrow, and... nothing else was heard since. I'm tapping my foot here.

You know, I would be more content to rely on Elon's official announcements if they a) happened a fraction more often when the launch campaign is under way, and b) had decent permalinks at What kind of sadist designed that website anyway? Flash overload! In fact, it's worse. It's flash _and_ frames. No, really. And it redirects when frames are loaded without the header. Now that's just obscene.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Google ads and Artificial Intelligence

I have Google ads at this page, which serve as a counter. This way there is not going to be a broken counter link as it happens with everyone else, right? Never mind that though... This is what I saw there today (copy-pasted; aren't text ads wonderful?):

Save money on PC-12
Get expert help on PC-12 purchase Make sure you get a superior plane.
TBM 700's for Sale - CAI
Your TBM 700 Specialists. We Buy & Sell TBM 700's. Free Newsletter.
Celebrity Blogging
Hollywood's Original Blogger Powered by Variety
Nagoya Hotel
Thousands Of Hotel Rooms Booked Daily. Find Your Hotel On ORBITZ!
Hokkaido Vacation
Visiting Hokkaido? Compare Hotel Prices & Reviews

It's quite amusing to see how Google struggles to keep up with the variety of topics. Not a single ad is actually useful for a broad subset of residents of Tracy, California. The computer cannot actually understand what the page is about. It can only match keywords.

The Celebrity Blogging thing happened because Brian mentioned MC Hammer's blog in comments.

The idea to save money on a PC-12 purchase is giving me a giggle, because the thing retails for $5.5 million. However, getting a Socata TBM-700 is sort of sneaky. Haven't we heard it before? Same qualities, but 3 times cheaper! Oh yes. How much is for a tiedown at Tracy Municipal again?

Japanese vacations though... That would be a great idea, although I do not want to go to Hokkaido. I am not a big fan of onsen. Hey, I have a hot tub in my backyard :-) And we have plenty of snow at Tahoe. Visiting Kyoto would be cool, but Google has no way to figure that out.

Anime at Library

Someone I know went to the anime event in the library and reported that it was rather low-key, more a club meeting than a convention. They watched 4 episodes of Samurai Deeper Kyo, of all things. Not a show I would select for a lead event like that. Invariably, such recruitment meetings get impressed by the personality of the club's leader. For example, I went to a similar event at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, organized by the college club "Anime etc.", and received a hearthy serving of Kodocha (not a bad show, actually). Personally, I think that showing something with a broad appeal and a variety of shows would be a better choice if recruitment were the main goal. So, my magic recipy would be: 1 ep. of Love Hina (or other harem), 1 ep. of RaXephon (or other mecha), 1 ep. of Naruto (going beyond the fights), and 1 ep. of Haibane Renmei (for accompaning grown-ups).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

No Blue Bread

Went to Safeway, and there was no white bread in blue-striped bags. Only green-striped variety remained, which is sour.

Hail in Tracy

Hail is coming down right now in Tracy, but it's very light and I do not expect any crop damage beyond what a heavy shower would do. The weird thing is... clouds do not look like tall hail clouds at all. We have a somewhat thinnish overcast.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Rotating post.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


To my enormous surprise, Radio Shack closes at 9 p.m., together with the rest of the mall. This was prompted by my attempts to drive my Hughes satellite receiver directly off an IR blaster port on TiVo by way of a special cable.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sister city Memuro

Tracy has a sister city: Memuro of Kasai district, Tokachi subpr., Hokkaido prefecture, Japan. "Memuro" is spelled "芽室町" - the last character ("machi") means "town" as opposed to a "city". For a country where a 300,000-people population center is considered a town, Memuro is positively miniscule: only 18,000 residents!

For an inexplicable reason, Memuro's website is located at, whereas most Japanese towns are located in their geographical domains (just like Tracy). For example, Yokosuka's website is, in the domain of Kanagawa prefecture.

Since Hokkaido is a northerly island, Memuro is buried in snow at present.

Apparently, the sister city activities are, or used to be, led by an entity called "Tracy Sister City Association". According to available records, in good years the association received $5,000 per year or about that from the city government. This is very intriguing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

I didn't do any yardwork due to a knee injury, but at least it's recycling this week, so the bin will not be empty.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Turbo singles

This has a tenuous connection to Tracy, CA, except we have a nice airport which could use a few of these things as tenants. I just saw a nice triumphalism piece from Vern about Eclipse. Read it. In passing, it included this snippet:

There have been attempts to start air taxi operations, using the likes of Pilatus PC-12s and Cessna Caravans, but Raburn says passengers remain sceptical about travelling in turboprops.

So this is what those visiting PC-12s were which I saw from my backyard! Nice. Another thought that hit me is: what is wrong with people not liking props? Props are awesome. Of course, Caravan is not something you'd dream of riding, it's just so slow. But Pilatus is great. People fly them across the Pacific every day - on one engine. The reason for it is, the modern turboprop is just as reliable as a jet, that is, it cannot break unless you suck a bird in, but even then it's likely to bring you to a safe landing somewhere. Since the prop is in front, there's none of that horrible noice which happens when supersonic shockwave shedding off a blade tip hits the fuselage on a twin.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Kohl's in Manteca

Nobody who travels the freeway 120 can remain oblivious to the new Kohl's open just off Airport. That thing is really imposing. And today we even received a Grand Opening ad, which we promptly discarded without breaking the plastic wrapper. I did not know what this chain was, but it was explained to me that a) Kohl's is equivalent of Mervin's, and b) the clothes sold in Kohl's fit badly and wash badly (if at all). It's easier to find something in our mall, so there.