Monday, July 31, 2006

Electric bill

Jardna asks how much your last electric bill was. She paid $239, although it's unclear if the gas was included. My last bill was $6.58 for gas, $44.35 for electricity. With surcharges, it comes to $51.32 total. Hard to believe that we live in the same town!

In reality though, I know whence the difference originates. As I documented it in my main blog, I am anti-A/C freak. And my numerous computers do not consume as much electricity as the A/C unit.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

A garden waste week.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pebbles vs. pebbles

Pebbles on the left (on concrete) are twice as expensive as pebbles on the right (in the bed). Left are known as "Noya", and right are just river rock.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why Pombo has to be removed ... safely

So, here's the deal. Our dear Richard Pombo voted against all of Flake's amendments.

He really needs a boot in the butt. The problem is, doing so in general election is going to give Democrats the seat, and we all know how hard it is to unseat anyone. So, the main battle is in the primaries.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling


Friday, July 21, 2006

Poor garbage citizenship

I was awaken by the sound of the garbage truck trying to digest something for 10 minutes and garbage men dealing with the problem, at around 6 a.m. At 9 a.m. the same story happened to the garden waste truck, so I went out to have a look. Apparently, my neighbours from 1785 Camelia had a renovation and stuffed construction refuse into their regular bin and the garden waste bin, which was too much for Delta's trucks to handle. Such cheapskates! Evidently, they didn't want to pay for the removal of the construction debris. The sight of the garbage man entering the maw of the truck and poking with a broomstick was interesting too, to say the least. But of course, if the man was torn in two by the mechanism, his estate would be paid by Delta's insurance, not by owners of the 1785 unit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


There was a rain overnight. My newly-fixed roof appears to hold ok.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

What a week... Anyway, the next one is Garden Waste.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

THAAD test yesterday

A reported by Las Cruces Sun-News, THAAD test was a success.

THAAD (terminal phase defence) is important because it compliments the existing midcourse phase defense system, deployed at Alaska and Vanderberg. Many scientists criticised the MD system for not being reliable. Indeed, testing for it is extremely expensive and low-rate. It needs testing ranges which span a quarter of Earth's circumference, because the intercept occurs in space. With low testing rate comes high probability of failure. Also, not only testing is expensive, but everything else is too: radars, interceptors, silos, and the whole army of personel needed to service the equipment.

So, why bother with a midcourse system? One reason is because high-altitude terminal phase system was not feasible two decades ago at all. It became useful because of a revolution in rocket performance which happened in front of our eyes in recent years.

When I was an air defence 2nd Lt. in 80s in Soviet PVO/PKO forces, we still used hypergolic-fueled rockets, which were only good for targets such as an American bomber B-52. Basically, it was the same thing as American Nike. In the 90s, faster accelerating solid-fueled S-300 rockets were deployed which could hit cruise missiles. And now, American rocket scientists came up with solid rocket fuels which make rockets speed up at 8G or more. This way, they can meet Iranian warheads falling down at orbital speeds. This is a stunning level of performance.

Another reason for the midcourse system to exist is that it works better against sophisticated missiles with separating warheads. So when NK or Iran figure out that trick, we'll be ready.

Still the whole THAAD program was only about 4.5 Billion Dollars (including the 48M overrun in 2006). It's the amount of money which could keep the Space Shuttle program operating for only about 6 months. And don't get me started on Department of Education. Oh well, at least some public money get spent in a useful way.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Liveblogging the roof repair

Two contractors came to my door and said, "we're here to fix your roof". I am mildly surprised that they did not call ahead. What if I weren't home?

They are working now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Owning a Mitsu in Tracy is a hassle, because we're right between Concord and Modesto. Concord is a better and more professional dealership, and Modesto is somewhat closer, so they balace out.

After parts people of Modesto Mitsubishi (now Planet Mitsubishi) were unable to find me the 13-hole tranny gasket, I swore off them. But I guess my resolve wasn't strong enough, so I returned there to have my rear left wheel bearing replaced. The results are somewhat mixed. Although we set an appointment, they simply put my car in the queue as if I were a walk-in, so it sat in the lot for about an hour and a quarter before getting on the lift. So, why did I go through the trouble of setting up the appointment, I have to ask? I must be gullible. However, the job seems to be done well and quickly.

It's a pity that our own Mitsu dealer went belly up. They chose a bad time to open, a year before the Endeavor and Outlander started gaining traction. And you could not sell only Monteros and stay profitable. Naturally, it's going to be a while before someone else tries to set up a Mitsu dealership again in Tracy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

Recycling week on the west side.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Canon ES-350

I got a new camera this week and so the blog is going to get pictires - not on the level of Dave Parker of course, but just some pictures. At about 2 a.m. I went out to test it in low-light settings. Results were interesting... I hope none of my neighours saw me walking around and snapping pictures the City of Tracy in the dead of the night. Fortunately, we aren't living near the Central Avenue, so I wasn't even armed, and nobody appeared to care.

By the way, on those occasions when I worked until 4 a.m., I was surprised just how much activity happens at my block through the night, at all hours. People keep moving around and getting in and out of cars.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!

I am hearing some pretty badass explosions, although no windows blew out yet. Also, it seems that someone just cannot resist to fire a pistol, moron! There's plenty of "conventional", or better say, pathetic fireworks as well.

Unfortunately, since my family is away, I didn't participate in the "Grill for Victory!" movement. I'll be having a pre-made cordon-bleu tonight.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Scott Speed of Manteca

I saw the U.S. Grand Prix of Formula 1 on my TiVo today. An American driver, Scott Speed, participated, and one of the commenters mentioned that Scott is from Manteca, California. Scott had a great weekend for someone driving an uncompetitive car and qualified and excellent 12th, but he was eliminated in the 1st corner pile-up in the race.

David Coulthard, a veteran of more than 200 races and multiply time winner, drives for a midfield team Red Bull now. This is what he said about the incident:

"I was up along side Christian at the start going into Turn one and could see Tonio coming up on the outside. I didn't like the look of it, so I backed off, kept in the middle of the road and let them all go past."

So, David actually lifted when he saw that accident was imminent. That's pretty amazing, because obviously you lose a lot of positions if you do that and nothing happens. He later went on to finish 7th and got 2 championship points. Looking at such performance it becomes evident that Scott has a lot to learn about the racecraft yet.

I wonder what path Scott took to get where he is now. Our racing community is not what you'd call booming. He had to race carts somewhere when he was 12. But I do not know of a cart track and teams anywhere around her. He probably moved to Midwest early.

LiteOn DVD recorder for $119

I knew I forgot something in my last post about Costco, and that something is the LiteOn's DVD recorder for $119. Three or four years now, home DVD recorders were stuck on $300 point while everything else was getting cheaper and cheaper. I am a victim of this stonewalling, too, with my Panasonic DMR-E30. And finally, LiteOn broke through, and how! Well below 50% consumer price! This is a great development. Unfortunately, it still comes from factory locked to region 1, so it won't show any of my Japanese DVDs. But that will be fixed in due time.

Also, DVD-recording camcoders started to appear in America last year. U.S. a very backwards country when it comes to electronics. Often it's justified, as in case of smartcards. Sometimes it's arguable, as with SIMed cellphones and GSM cellphones. But not having DVD-recording cameras when whole world did for years was just stupid. And it's not anything like the in-car electronics where the liability held back the innovation.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden Waste on the west side.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

At Yoshi's Tonight

I was amusing to watch how the younger sushi chef taught the older but less experienced guy, especially because I never eat what they produce. I always order a katsudon or a tonkatsu. But I wish I knew what language they speak. Yoshi and (presumably) her husband speak fairly conventional Japanese, which I can understand. But this is different. I heard some weird dialects before, which sounded nothing like Japanese, so I am in no rush to conclusions. Still, it probably is Korean. Oddly enough.


Costco was not as busy as I expected. I thought everyone would be stocking up for the weekend, but apparently not. Maybe they all are going to travel.

Traveling would be nice. There's an anime convention in Anaheim near Disneyland this weekend. I am skipping it for the second year now. This time the excuse is that my leg is not recovered completely after the surgery. Hum-hum. In reality I am just too lazy.