Thursday, May 31, 2007

New grill

After dilligently visiting a few places, I bought a Weber Genesis E-320, because I liked the workmanship.

This thing is sure big.

And heavy, so I slid it out with a "ramp".

Got it assembled and found that one handle can't be attached, because it's defective. I may make another post with pictures and summary of Weber's customer service.

My phosphate bronze brush leaves yellow residue.

But I figured it won't kill us. It's only bronze, right?

Comcast outage

Comcast service was interrupted in my area for about an hour.

On the whole, I'm happy with their availability. The biggest problem remains the possiblity of a long term outage. When it was TCI, I lived without service for 3 days once. Unfortunately, DSL is not any better. I sat for a week without a voice circuit in Fremont in 2000 because someone simply disconnected it in the pedestal.

I'm going to talk to Sprint salespeople about running bulk transfers across their network. I know that Verizon is up in arms against it, but that may be just because Verizon is evil and stupid.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

TRASH @West: Recycling

Due to Memorial Day, collection is going to happen one day later. Or so I think...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I-580 is restored

I am just back from Frisco, and unexpectedly, the freeway is reopened now. I knew that the new beam was installed on Friday, but by now they have paved it over. It took just under one month for the bridge to reopen, although repairs are not complete yet. They still have some scaffolding on the outside.

So, I never had a chance to try my special route. I even had specially printed maps on me. Oh well. Maybe next time, after a big quake.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Luxurious is Beatiful

I often disagree with my online friends. This time, a fellow Tracy blogger Jardna writes:
How can there be children in this world, in this country, in this state, without enough to eat gong to school hungry and yet someone feels that this is a good idea and people will buy this [some useless item]?

This fallacy occurs in many guises, and it has two faces to it: firstly, the lie of beneficial sacrifice and secondly, the brainwashing with guilt. The two of them support each other in taking the toll on people.

The most important truth about being indulgent is how it fosters progress and thus makes poor less poor. Although it is true that some Americans (and illegals) go to sleep hungry tonight, they are being pushed further and further into the tail of the curve. If you attempt to redirect your money outside of accontable economic activity, you, most likely, end hurting more poor people than immediate beneficiaries of your sacrifice. Buying crap like this makes a lot of good difference.

The other side of this has to do with the way proponents of communality appeal to emotions and take the whole issue into the area of irrational. When this works, a former victim of brainwashing engages into the recreation of the ideology herself. The choice of the item which triggered the rant is shows how this works. If you rant about, say, a cellphone, it does not have the same impact. But the butt cooler, that's a true luxury! Shady tricks of educator were employed: the guilt, the victim complex.

I'm no Lileks to rant about it myself and no Barnett to expose the real economics. So I'll just round it up with a personal note. I think this kind of evil, destructive, and regressive ideology has the power to piss me off especially because I'm interested in humanity expanding into space, and the spectre of "poor" is often brought up when space exploration is discussed.

Almond harvest

I finally managed to harvest almonds this year. In the previous years, unknown pests always ate the nuts before I could.

Mid-May seems awfuly early to me by the standards of the country where I'm from, but this is California.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Funny bruise

I swung by Dublin Iceland again last weekend, but this time I tried to be too adventurous.

Pictured is the imprint left by my watch after a contact with the ice.

Anyway, ice skating is pretty cool. One thing though, if you start doing it regularly, you better get your own skates. Aside from better fit, rentals are somewhat expensive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Closing of the Mini-Mall

As Inside Bay Area reports, the "mini-mall" at the corner of 11th and Central (actually, Holly, because it's on the north side) was closed by the city authorities for being too shady and unsafe. I was going to visit the place just for the purposes of blogging about it, but I guess it's too late now.

This is also a charming quote:

"We tried to meet their [the city's] deadlines but we're still also trying to figure out other things," Cortes said. "There are 12 families that have businesses there, all minorities, and that's what they live on. We've been closed for two weeks and we're hoping to open as soon as possible."

What difference does it make if they are minorities, majorities, or polka-dot colored? I could understand if she said "poor", because that would actually be relevant. Poor people get it tough, you know. But minorities, what gives? I used to work with a Mexican dude at at Sun who bought a house for $7 million. Identity politics sure warps people's perceptions.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Corolla's mileage

I went to L.A. in a rental 2007 Corolla, which allowed me to stage a mileage experiment (rentals come topped off these days). I covered 683 miles and used 20.071 gallons of gas, to the average of 34.03 mpg. Total cost was $70.31. I wasn't driving unnaturally and tried to stay around 76 or 77 mph, sometimes with AC, sometimes with sunroof.

My own car (2006 RAV4) would give about 24 mpg. I can coax it up to 28 by slowing down to 65 mph, but let's assume normal driving. The same trip would use $99.69. So, Corolla saved me about 30 bucks. For comparison, rental cost for 3 days was about $108.

The real reason I took out a rental was that I didn't want to take RAV4 to L.A. where I had to leave it in an open parking. Anyway, it seems that rentals are surprisingly cheap these days.

Unfortunately, our local Toyota's fleet is sort of incomplete. They don't have the new xB.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Next week is Garden Waste week in the West.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pomona threatens localbloggers

One of California city governments does not like its dirty laundry hauled to the light and threatens local bloggers [link], [link]. In Tracy, I am more than happy to leave the buiseness of speaking truth to power to Tracy Press and Cheri, especially since they do such a swinging job at it. This depresses the visitor count, but I never expected this blog becoming some kind of popular destination.

Smart & Final

So we have Smart & Final now. It's right next to AutoZone, in the plaza where Lincoln and 11th St. make a T-intersection. Never was a fan of it, but reportedly it's something like a Costco for socially disadvantaged. This can be useful.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

TRASH @West: Recycling

This is the recycling week.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Grumpy home networker, cont.

I finished routing the network to the TiVO and took a few pictures.

How the hole in the top 2x4 was made (I don't have an electric drill):

Then, the cable was run through the hole down the hollow wall:

I cut a hole in the drywall and pulled the cable out, snapped a Keystone socket on it:

Finally, I closed up the hole with a Keystone plate:

My ancient enterainment stack looks like this:

The yellow cable is the network.

Mounting Keystone plates is exceedingly tricky, because the distance between screws and the opening in the drywall is very small. One wrong move and the screw won't hold. I have no idea how professionals do it. A glue? The plate comes with two bolt-like screws, so perhaps there's something like a back retainer which clamps onto the drywall from the back, and the screws go into that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Speed trap on Stanley

On Tuesday I drove by Stanley on my way home and I saw the most elaborate speed trap ever. I did not have a digital camera ready, so here's my artistic impression of it.

Livermore cops rented a high-lift basket, the kind used by utility workers. A spotter sits in the basket, under a tacky yellow umbrella, and uses a laser gun to pick a victim. Two motorcycle officers are stationed in the trees at the base of the basket and launch to intercept as required. A squad car on a side road backs up the operation in case of an arrest.

I'm wondering how many citations they have to write per hour in order to pay for the operation.

Frankly, it does nothing to improve my opinion about the Livermore and its government.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Grumpy home networker

I wanted to hook up my TiVO to the house network today, so I swung by local shops looking for supplies. The plan is to throw an Ethernet cable through the attic and down the walls, for about 11m or 33' of cable. My house is a very typical for Tracy, wood-frame, slab foundation, 1-story affair. It seems that nobody sells bulk Cat5 though.

I went to Ace, Best Buy, and Radio Shack (I understand now that I should've given Home Depot a chance, but I was getting irritated). Neither Ace nor Best Buy were selling a decent crimping tool. How odd! In Radio Shack, I found something approximating one, but then they only sell RJ-45 plugs in packs of 5 (FIVE) for $6.99 (SEVEN BUCKS!). Best Buy offers a kit of their Dextel tool, 100' cable, and a packet of plugs, for low, low price of $129.

We need Fry's in Tracy, like NOW.

At current prices, driving to Fremont in my 24..28mpg car puts about $8 on top of every purchase. This is noticeable for cheap things like a crimping tool.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Next week is a Garden Waste week on the west side.