Five Days, Five Ways

Last week, I commuted to work every day, but took a different route each time.


I woke up too late to catch the 7:45 bus. Instead, I left my house at 7:53 and biked down to the train station to catch the 8:14 express to Mountain View. Work is only 2 miles from the Mountain View train station -- I rolled in while the pancakes at Moma were still hot.


Still working overtime, I caught the bloody-early 6:30 bus from my apartment. It arrived at work before breakfast even started serving. Who knew such a time existed.


I had intended to bike on Tuesday, although work got in the way, so I biked on Wednesday instead. I was on the road by 6:35. Which fresh air in my tires (thanks Paul!) and no laptop, I made good time, and breakfast. Leaving San Francisco, going up the Bayshore hill, I passed a tiny SF2G ride. I took an unfortunate detour through Menlo Park and they caught up. So, I passed them again on the final leg of the trip.


Thursday was Bike To Work Day, so I hauled myself out of bed and on the road for 6:15 and a 6:30 meet-up at Ritual. At least 50 people turned up for a easy and scenic commute. It was my first SF2G since Halloween last year; I'm still not a huge fan of group rides: there is an entirely different focus. We rolled in just before 10, missing breakfast.


I had to make a quick stop at the drugstore to buy new insoles for my shoes. So, I left my apartment with my bike, waved to the 9:45 bus pulling out of the stop and rode down to Polk St. I passed the bus in front of City Hall and made it to the Civic Centre stop before it. Breakfast was long over by the time I showed up at work.

(no subject)



I decided to be productive today: I cleaned, I set up my workstation and booted my file server. I taped my wireless gateway to the window so the whole world can share. The tape didn't hold and it fell down. No worries, I taped it back up using twice as much tape. Walking out of the kitchen, I tripped over the phone cable running to the gateway.

I investigated moving it, so I took the covers off my phone jacks and poked around to see if there was a better place for the gateway in the apartment. The short answer was no. I replaced the jacks and continued cleaning.

I went to check the Internet for the best way to clean my walls. No Internet. I untaped the gateway so I could see the blinky lights. The DSL light was blinking red. That is bad. According to the AT&T tech support (not bad, btw), they can't see my modem; they are sending somebody on Tuesday.

So, LJ friends, what in my story caused my DSL connection to stop working?

March 25.

/LiveJournal is emo/

(I may have previously discussed this, sorry)

Paperwork is stressing me out. I should have just hired somebody to take care of the paperwork: a lawyer, an accountant, a dude to fill out rebate forms. But hiring people to fix my problems seems wasteful (although economically it makes sense), so I'll continue to stress.

A couple months ago, I read Basic Black, by Kathy Black. It was a career advice book written by a New York publishing executive targeting women. I would have never bought it, but it showed up on my SFPL hold list, so I read it.

My first response was "Wow, I am glad I'm not in that industry": publishing interns are typically unpaid and you are expected to work for decades to get to where you want to be and everything is dictated by personal relationships. Her advice was "be focused on yourself and make sure you are wearing the latest designer outfits". Terrible advice, but she likely filed her taxes February 1.


Six months in the city and I spotted a KFC for the first time. I didn't stop; but maybe one day I will venture back and try their infamous American menu.

Last weekend, I was at Tony's house making dinner. He subscribes to a vegetable box and has trouble eating the whole thing every week. This time he was stuck with a lot of kale and potatoes. Yep.

Also, on Friday, the breadmaker I ordered from the Internet arrived. I made bread and it was yummy. Two things to note:

1) I used the reviews on Amazon to choose the model. That was the first time I'd actually done that, and it worked out well; although, I did end up buying a more expensive model. At a store, the only signals are a list of features and a price; I would have never known the model I was considering rattled so loudly it would wake me up at 4 in the morning.

2) Completely unintentionally, everything in my bread, except for the water and salt, was imported from Canada. I even bought my canola oil from the hippie food co-op and my yeast and flour from the neighbourhood Big Organic outlet. (The flour was milled in Oregon, but used grain from "select farmers throughout Canada and the US" -- that is good enough for a blog post).

Maybe it is not so surprising. I see more of a bread culture back home. At a church potluck there would be crockpots of soup and chili and then plates full of sandwiches. In San Francisco, church potlucks might have a few dinner rolls if at all. At work, there is bread available, but rarely is it included in the main meal and never in the suggested servings.

According to the Canadian Wheat Board, Canadians consume 10% more flour than Americans; but maybe that is just all the Timbits eaten.


The day after Lloydminster I started down Hwy 16 towards Edmonton after the morning rain had cleared. In typical Alberta fashion, the road was overbuilt, fast and full of oversized pickup trucks. Being overbuilt, there was enough space for everybody, so the traffic left me alone. However, it was still a far cry from the grid roads in Saskatchewan.

Wanting something a little quieter, I turned off onto a range road. After about 50 feet, mud had collected between my wheels and fenders, bringing the bicycle to a halt. I spent the next half hour poking my knife around the fenders trying to free the wheel. Through the rest of Alberta, I stuck to pavement.

My coding work feels a lot like that right now -- it looks easy, but as soon as I get started, ten things appear to block any progress I am attempting to make. It is stressful: work has deadlines; transversing Alberta did not.

I went climbing three times in the past week. Scaled a couple 5.10Bs; I am improving.

Wednesday, I skipped work in the morning and biked to Mountain View. It was the first time I did it in just shorts and a t-shirt; that and a freshly oiled chain made for a quick ride. Also, for the first time, I took the Bayshore/Third St interchange. All the bike routes from San Francisco to the peninsula go out of the way and up crazy hills to avoid the interchange -- it looks like a messy freeway on/off ramp, but it is actually [legally] bikable. The motorists, however, think it is part of the freeway and gave me no respect at all. A few simple signs would solve that problem; in the mean time, I will continue to avoid the area before dawn.

Friday was Critical Mass. A nice night with happy people. I still find it amazing how trapped motorists are in the road system. A BMW, driven by a girl on her cell phone, was sitting at an intersection waiting to cross Market. When her light turned green, she sat on her horn. When her light turned red, she stopped.

Saturday, I struggled out of bed for the EFAP distribution. This month, people again lined up around the block to collect one can of pears, one jar of peanut butter and one kilo of rice.

And perhaps the biggest news of the week:

Following Al Gore's plan, I am half way to saving the planet: I replaced my old lightbulbs with CFLs. At fifty cents a bulb, they were heavily subsidized* by PG&E. Next, I will look into buying a hybrid car! (* The money comes from the "public good" line on my hydro bill).

My Plant is Not Dead

I looked at my Croton this morning and found tiny buds growing on the stems. For a while, I was worried the plant may be dead, but it is not.

The Croton needs to be watered every five days, at least according to the man at the Plant Warehouse. When I left for Christmas, I put it out on the fire escape; it is the rainy season here and I figured it could live off rainwater while I was gone.

While it did get watered, it was the wind that was the problem. Upon my return, I discovered the plant had blown over. All the leaves on one side of the plant had fallen off and the remaining leaves didn't look too healthy. I moved it back to my south window and hoped for the best.

I also bought a new "roll-up" plant. At night, its leaves will roll up into little spirals, and then, in the morning, they unroll. If I am out of bed before all the leaves are finished unrolling, that is good enough -- and if the day is so gloomy the leaves never unroll, I likely should have stayed in bed..

Project Bike

Over the holidays I acquired a bicycle. sjwalters left California and locked his bike behind my building.

It is an old Dawes Galaxy; built in the late 70s. According to Walters, it has been sitting in a garage for the last twenty years.

I spent Saturday afternoon stripping it. The brakes look fine, but the entire drivetrain needs to be replaced (the front derailleur snapped in half on a trip up Mount Madonna this fall). And something needs to be done with the paint.

Should be fun.


I went home for a vacation over Christmas. I took my laptop; did some hacking in the airport (with Alex!); slept on the plane.

Day 1: Left laptop in bag all day.
Day 2: Read some email, built a snow fort.
Day 3: Casual hacking, poked at old code for a bit (with eggnog).
Day 4: Wikipedia party. Compiled a bit of code. A little bit of Facebook.
Day 5: Stayed up late building a RSS generator for yet another language; parsed XML without XPath.

Clearly, the optimal length of vacation in 4 days.

My fridge

In my super awesome apartment, the only thing I have plugged in all the time is my refrigerator.

I would love to disconnect it and live off the grid; but then my milk would go bad even faster than it does now.

Instead, I devised a plan to run a series of experiments on ways to reduce the fridge's energy consumption. Ideas included filling the empty space with Styrofoam and freezing ice in the freezer then letting it melt in the fridge.

First, I needed a control run. I purchased a KillAWatt hydro meter off the Internet and set my fridge to the typical, lowest, setting.

Control Run:
172 hours
8.47 kWh used

kWh/day: 0.96

I currently spend about $0.10/day on my refrigerator. Spoiled milk is costing me more than electricity; instead of running fridge experiments, I should bake more often.