California

Cactus Farmer

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 

A few years back, when I was in 3rd or 4th Grade, my brother and I went to visit David and Jesse Lenat at their Cactus Farm. While we were exploring the green houses, their dad, Richard, gave us each a cactus to take home.

Mine lived in a small pot near the window through the rest of grade school and high school and then my mom cared for it through college. It grew into a little cluster of pencil thin green, spiky pads over the years.

After I graduated, moved to California, and got an apartment in SF; I was home for Christmas one year and took one of the pads wrapped in tissue to California. It grew well there and now produces big, bright yellow flowers every year.

This Christmas, I stuffed two tiny buds into glass bottles and brought them to Iraq and planted in the yard with one of the cat’s help (paw in the background).

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Posted at 03:01:17 GMT-0700

Category: catsGeopostphotoplaces

Scrapper

Thursday, October 20, 2011 

I went to see Scrapper, the documentary by Stephen Wassmann, that was showing as part of the SF Documentary Film Festival.   It is the story of the people who live between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountain Bombing Range and make a living gathering scrap metal off the range between bombing runs.

It’s quite a frank and intimate portrayal of some extremely eccentric characters.  They spend their time divided between driving around the range gently prying the aluminum tail fins off unexploded ordinance, heating the booty over open fires to loosen the scrap-value-reducing steel rivets, and doing crystal meth and drinking, though the last activity isn’t so much divided from the former two.

The most entertaining character is an old guy who set up camp on the isolated East side of the range, far from humanity, and cruises around the range in a highly modified VW bug living a life pretty much straight out of the Road Warrior.

It is definitely a movie where every moment seems to balance precariously on the edge of a ravine or on a delicate trip wire on a 2,000# bomb that failed to release when it buried itself fins-deep in the desert sand.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/11457549[/vimeo]

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Posted at 04:18:18 GMT-0700

Category: filmsGeopostPositivereviewsvideo

Phew. Now Jeff can buy another jet.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 

As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that had forced us to terminate our California Associates. We are pleased to invite all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to the prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

I first read this as Amazon giving up and quietly reinstating their associates program and thus paying the sales tax they owe.  Alas, not the case.  I guess California vs. Amazon, Amazon wins.

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Posted at 21:41:15 GMT-0700

Category: Negativepolitics

FB vs. G+

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 

An interesting artifact of the FB vs. G+ debate is the justification by a lot of tech-savvy people in moving to G+ from FB because they believe Google to be less evil.  It is an odd comparison to make, both companies are in essentially the same business: putting out honey pots of desirable web properties, attracting users, harvesting them, and selling their data.

Distinguishing between grades of evil in companies that harvest and sell user data seems a little arbitrary.  I’d think it would make more sense to use each resource for what it does well rather than arbitrarily announce that you’re one or the other.

However, if one is making the choice as to what service to call home on the basis of least “evil” and assuming that metric is derived in some way from the degree to which the company in question harvests your data and sells it, then it is somewhat illuminating to look at real numbers.  One can assume that the more deeply one probes each user captured by the honey pot, the more data extracted, the more aggressively sold, the more money one makes. The company that makes the most money per user is probing the deepest and selling the hardest.

From Technology Review May/June 2011, annual revenue per monthly unique US visitor:

Facebook: $ 12.10
Google:     $163.60

Google squeezes out and sells more than 13.5x the data per user. Google wins. But Facebook is gathering $12.10 worth of user data, why should Google allow Facebook to have it? If Google wins that last morsel of data to take to market and takes out Facebook, Google can increase their gross revenue by 7%.

I’ve also heard people argue that Zuckerberg seems more personally avaricious, mean, or evil than Google’s founders, comparing Google’s marketing spin to “The Social Network”

Zuckerberg’s only newsworthy purchase was a $7m house in Palo Alto. Google co-founders were in the news over a lawsuit between them over whether their 767 “party plane” (Eric Schmidt) could house Brin’s California king bed. This is in addition to their 757 and two Gulfstream Vs they talked NASA into letting them park at Moffet under the pretense that the planes would be retrofit with instruments for NASA. When they couldn’t do that (FAA regs, who knew?), they bought a Dornier Alpha, but still get to park their jumbo jets and gulfstreams inside NASA hangers for some reason. Suck on that, Ellison!

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Posted at 01:25:13 GMT-0700

Category: technologyvanity sites

Oh No!!

Friday, June 24, 2011 

I got Raging Bitch in special for Carolyn (her favorite) at the local liquor store, and now there won’t be any more. 🙁

Apparently there are only 300 cases left in California, no more to come! Why, Flying Dog, why do you hate California so much?

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Posted at 19:37:50 GMT-0700

Category: photo

March 1997?

Monday, September 13, 2010 

What happened in March of 1997?

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Posted at 11:42:43 GMT-0700

Category: funnyodd

Time Zones, how do they work?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 

Time Zones are a peeve of mine I’ve been trying to get sorted out for years. I’m not alone either, at least one rant has been cross-posted. The gist of the problem is embodied in the following:

You are in California on the phone with someone in Boston planning a phone conference from 10:00-11:30 am for next week at which time you’ll be in London. What time should you set the conference for? Can you do the math? How about if you’re in Phoenix in April? There are 31 time zones and almost all contain some regions that observe and some that do not observe DST. This is the sort of irritating arithmetic my computer should do.

Time zones are actually very easy to handle – and it is also easy to give reminders to people as to what time zone they are in all in one simple modification to the “new appointment” and “new task” dialogs: just add a start and end time zone for each that defaults to the current time zone the computer is in. Why both start and end? Because when you get on a plane you very frequently start in one time zone and end in another and airlines give you takeoff and landing times in the local time zones.

We’re using Zimbra ZCS these days, a pretty nice program, but they handle time zones worse than any modern program I’ve used. Hopefully they’ll fix it to something like this:

zimbra_time_zones.png

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Posted at 12:23:43 GMT-0700

Category: Linuxtechnology

Pretty Cool Contrail and Halo

Sunday, June 29, 2008 

Odd atmospheric effects for a summer day in California. This is a 22 degree halo, sometimes called an “icebow.”

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Posted at 00:00:36 GMT-0700

Category: photoweather