html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Anand was hogging the whole place. Whatever. He can keep it.

Hey folks,

I'm blogging with Sherry these days. I know! She came out of retirement. We are so lucky.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anand says bye too.

Hey folks.

My visit is over and I had a wonderful time meeting you. I had great conversation after great conversation. Your hospitality meant that I got to see beautiful places and sleep comfortably in the houses of friends. I am incredibly lucky that my blog introduced me to so many of you.

I am sure now that I'm done with From the Archives. I'm not done with the friends I've met here, so please come meet me out in the world. At this point, I owe you guys a porch with snacks, a stay in the woods, a helpful ride, a place to stash your stuff for the afternoon, good restaurant recommendations, a delicious dinner with a view of fireflies, a chat over ice cream, a long walk, a tour of my city. You should come claim your share of that. I know this spot on the river...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Philadelphia Wed night

Hey y'all,

You guys up for a potluck? Dubin says we can gather on her beautiful porch. That sounds perfect to me, so I hope you guys will come over. I'll make some food, too.

Email, please, to let me know you'll be there. I'll know from your grammar and punctuation that you are not a crazy person, and send you the address.

Looking forward to it!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fresh Salt tonight

The real Megan has foolishly given me the keys to her kingdom to pass along an urgent message. I regret a little bit that I don't have the time to fully take advantage of this situation right now, but duty calls. So here's her message minus false information or impersonatory mischief:

Megan would like you to know that she's on a later bus than planned and expects to arrive at Fresh Salt between 6:30 and 7 pm. Go see her then. (And bring a flower. She likes flowers.)


Friday, June 06, 2008

Even more plans

Hey friends.

It was wonderful to meet hk and Dewb in Boston. (Nathan! We missed you!) They've maintained the streak; I like everyone I meet through here. So I'm looking forward even more to meeting you guys next week.

Sunday - Amherst/Northampton.
Monday - Uncertain arrival time in New York, joint Unfogged meet-up at Fresh Salt after work.
Tuesday - also New York. The morning and lunch are booked; after work I'm leaving for Philadelphia. Afternoon, anyone?
Wed - Philadelphia, morning with Witt, aft free, then lets have a bigger meet-up for dinner. Action item: pick a dinner location in Philadelphia for us.
Thurs - uncertain departure time to DC. I have dinner plans, but am otherwise free.
Friday - DC. Lunch plans, but am otherwise free.
Sat - head back home.

I don't have much internets, but intend to keep these plans. I'll check in as I can, but would love for you guys to make decisions without me.

I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Need details.

Hey y'all. I think I have a schedule, so now we need locations.

Tuesday June 3rd - Boston meet-up; Cambridge Commons first to play catch. I'll bring a disc and HK will too. Food afterwards somewhere.

Sunday June 8th - Amhearst to see Capella and Northampton to stay with Asymptote Beagle. It isn't clear to me why you don't pronounce the "h" in Amhearst, but you do in Northampton. But that's what my Dad tells me.

Monday June 9th and Tuesday the 10th - New York city.
Monday 9th: Joint blog meet-up with the NY Unfogged crew. After work at Fresh Salt.
Tuesday 10th: I have lunch plans, but would love to meet you for tea time or showing me neat things during the day.

Wednesday June 11th and Thursday June 12th - Philadelphia to meet eDubin!'s handsome son and also you.

Friday June 13th and Sat June 14th - DC. I know imaginary people in DC but don't have plans yet. That is probably because three weeks out is like the next millenium or something. Plan things three weeks in advance. Hah. That's crazytalk.

Anyway, Boston is a week from today. Where shall we meet?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Plan my trip for me?

OK. Here's the rough outline of my trip:

Fly to Boston area Sunday June 1st or Monday the 2nd.

That Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday is my best chance to do things and meet people in the Boston area or around there. There might be a trip to Maine somewhere in there too.

Thursday-Sat, I'll be busy. Sunday the 8th, I could start to head south.

Perhaps I go to New York for a couple days, the 9th and 10th?

Then Philadelphia maybe for a day or so? Wednesday, then?

End up in D.C. for another couple days, perhaps the 12th and 13th or so.

Here's the thing. I would LOVE if this blog set my activities for me that second week*. I would love to go from meeting people to meeting people. If you guys were all insider-knowledge about your city and wanted to show me cool things, that would be the best. I'll go to where you are; I'm on vacation.

And, I'm not asking, because I do have people I can stay with, but if you want to put me up for a night, that could be fun too. I say this because I would (and have) happily host a reader or blogger I was familiar with and I know that for some of us, welcoming people into our homes is easy and obvious. I don't mean to be all bleg-y about that. I just want to say it is an option, because I don't think you are ax-murderers and it would seem natural to me, and then I could fit more people in and maybe you like the idea too.

So, Boston and north the first week of June. Places between Boston and D.C. the second week of June. Direct me, please. Don't tell me about things I should do in general. But if you want to, let me know where I can meet you and pick something fun. I'll have a frisbee for daytime and I might even bring a dress for evenings. (No promises about wearing it.) Let's!

*What I would really like to do sometime is to have an entirely blog-directed and supported trip (not money support, but hospitality support). Something long, maybe walking or biking across the country. I’d love to check in, write up a post and have the blog tell me where to go that day and who would be letting me camp on their property or putting me up. This is as close as I’ll get to that for a while, but I like the idea that I would see such different things, because my own expectations wouldn’t be setting my path.

Monday, May 05, 2008

You already knew, I'm sure.

Hey folks,

It is foolhardy to make any pronouncements about something as reversible as closing a blog, but as far as I can tell, I don't have any more enthusiasm for writing here. I've been trying to hold out for just a few more weeks, but I'm embarrassed by my recent half-hearted blogging and I can't seem to do better. In the past few weeks, I've clicked away from the first paragraphs of posts way more often than I've published finished posts, weak as they are.

If I write a post-mortem, it will only embarrass me if I return in two weeks. If I call this a hiatus, you might think I'll be back. If I don't say anything, I'll feel guilty that people might still be checking in. Don't keep checking in. I don't know what to call this, but I don't anticipate more here in the foreseeable future.

I had two reasons for putting this off. The first is that I'll be on the East Coast in June and want to meet you. Boston area the first week of June, heading southward to DC the second week of June. East Coast, we should get together and do fun things. The second reason I was postponing this is that I wanted to post a video of me doing pull-ups. But close as I am, I'm not there yet and I can't fill the days until then. You'll just have to imagine it.

There'll be a couple more planning posts for the East Coast trip, so that's not done. I can't swear I'm done. Who knows, maybe in a few months I'll fill up with stories and rants and you'll need to hear them. Maybe I'll slip back into blogland all quiet and sneaky, and find out what you can say when your friends aren't reading and your face isn't on the front. It'd be interesting to find out what happens when you don't get big links early on. Maybe I'll stay outdoors and play catch and ride my bike.

My hope, as it has been since the very first days of this blog, is that you guys would turn to real friends. I will still be here, and I'll still welcome all the friends who want to cross over into the real world with me. Email me. Let's meet and walk around somewhere neat. We'll find some tasty food, and you can tell me what you've been up to. Tell me over bread and olives and sangria, at a table under lanterns. Tell me face to face.

Wishing you the best,


Friday, May 02, 2008

Nothing stands in the way of Anand's blogging.

Megan: Hey, Anand, what does this mean?
Anand: Yeah, not entirely sure. It is not, as far as I know, an approach that anyone else is pursuing. [It also sounds like the guy who discovered this effect was surprised to hear HP doing it.]
From what I can tell, they rely on oxygen diffusion to modulate the resistance of TiO2. The big obstacle would seem to be the programming speed – O atoms do not move nearly as fast at electrons.
I’ll have to read the technical publications to get a better idea of how they’re doing it. At this point, it’s hard to say if this is important or not.
Megan: Well I surely hope you aren't going to wait to read something "technical" before you blog about it.
Anand: Oh, of course not – I would never let my ignorance stand in the way of my blogging...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm in love with Representative Waxman.

I used to like the Endangered Species Act primarily because it is our best hope of saving species. Now though, I think I mostly like the Endangered Species Act for the way it must drive Vice President Cheney to distraction.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pacing is for suckers.

Speaking of life with expensive gas, I have anecdotes! I am definitely seeing more bikes out. I don't know whether it is the warm weather or expensive gas, but bikes are chained to my parking poles and we suddenly have to figure out the right of way when bikes arrive at stop signs at the same time. I've never had either trivial problem before. What is much worse, however, is that my last four near-collisions have been with new bicyclists. Dudes. Off the sidewalk!

I know you're scared of cars, and you should be. They're too big and the hazard is all one way. They might kill you just by inattention, which is too dangerous a threshold for something that humans do. But if you're on the sidewalk, I think you aren't understanding where the risk is.

New cyclists, the car that kills you will most likely hit you from the side. In Midtown, that'll be coming out of an alley or blowing a red light. You are much less likely to be hit from behind as you ride in a lane. Even car drivers are likely to see a cyclist moving in their same lane ahead of them. So ride in the street. After getting T-boned, the next most dangerous part is getting doored. DO NOT RIDE WITHIN DOOR RANGE. If the lane isn't big enough for cars to pass you when you are out of the range of doors, take the lane.

Chris and I were hanging out one time when he looked up from his laptop, startled. "That can't be right," he said. I asked what, and he said that he'd done a b.o.t.e. calculation that showed that someone will open a car door on you every ten miles or so. I thought about it. I live about a mile from work, ride back and forth every day, and someone opens a car door on me on that route about... once a week. Yeah. Getting doored is a big risk. Ride on the street like a car, and ride wide.

Anyway brand new cyclists, I hope you're loving being on your bike. But you are scaring me as you pop out of sidewalks or go the wrong way in the bike lanes. Please, get used to riding and then do what you do when you drive. Take the lane and turn from the left turn lane. You should especially take the bike safety courses. My friends teach those and they're good. I so want to welcome all of you to riding Sacramento's streets, but we need you to ride predictably.


My comment on How the World Works got a little star! I have been graded and validated! You can't know how my perpetual student's soul craves that. (On second thought, I suspect everyone who reads here knows that feeling well.) One day I will write a post good enough to be linked on How the World Works*, and then I will be happy forever.

*Or one funny enough to get linked by Defective Yeti.

In the comments where some people got stars and some people didn't, I saw this by futhark:
3. Probably 5 out of 6 people alive in the world today are here because of the bounty we have enjoyed due to using petroleum as a resource to plow, plant, fertilize, irrigated, cultivate, harvest, process, and distribute food. In the days when agriculture depended on real "horse power", a third of the acreage under cultivation was devoted to raising grain and fodder for the horses. When the oil bounty is exhausted, a substantial portion of the world's population will of necessity expire.

That is the unsourced-by-me rule of thumb I've heard as well. A third of the grain you raise with animal power goes to your ox. I knew that cheap energy was a substitute for human labor and I knew that cheap water is a substitute for careful management. But this was a reminder that cheap energy is also a substitute for animals and land.

I didn't agree with this comment by IaintBacchus:
I'd be more concerned about whole metro areas, LA and Phoenix come to mind, that are too large and situated too far from any source of agriculture to feed in a low energy culture.

I think L.A. could provide a good chunk of its own food if it had to. It was an agricultural region in my lifetime; I remember the orange and walnut groves. Even in a low energy culture, if sustenance were on the line, there's a lot L.A. could do. They have a year-round growing season, good soils, aquifers in the San Fernando Valley and available labor. Some of those laborers were peasants recently enough that they still know how to grow food (it would be fun to watch their skills suddenly become valuable). With greywater systems in houses (low energy costs), cisterns (low energy costs), wastewater treatment plants, imported water and solar power, I think L.A. could grow just about everything but major grains. If you switched out lawn for garden everywhere and people re-learned how to do manual labor, Los Angeles could substanially feed itself.

Remember, in food production, cheap gas is a substitute for labor. If you have reserves of labor (on the couch perhaps, watching television) close to your food production, you can do without cheap gas. People would have to be willing and knowledgeable, and I fully recognize that most don't think of themselves as gardeners or growers. But I think if gas got radically expensive, Angeleños would decide to grow their much of their own food before they abandon the region.

I assume they would get major grains by freight or container shipping.
Not much meat in that diet.
I think this is true for the major valleys and L.A. Basin. In an expensive energy scenario, the circumference deserts will be abandoned when air conditioning, fire protection costs, importing water and commutes get too expensive.
When I say "grow pretty much everything" in L.A., I really mean it. They can even grow the bananas I eschew out of fanatic self-righteousness. I have heard, though, that they may be losing their apricot crops for lack of winter cold. That brought a sheen of tears to my eyes, because I can describe the three apricot trees we had in our back yard in elaborate detail. The middle one was the sweetest.
I did not cry one single tear for news that an oleander blight is going to take out all the oleanders in California. Good. Neutral-looking poisonous non-native plants. I never liked them. It'll change the look of California when they don't line the median of our freeways, but I won't miss them.
Of course, if gas becomes radically expensive, food production will be a minor problem for Los Angeles compared to transportation costs. But this is a water and ag blog with a bike fetish, not a transportation blog.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My WonderTwin!!

best of craigslist > washington, DC > Want your ex-boyfriend back? [Unfortunately] I can help.

Originally Posted: Fri, 4 Apr 11:52 EDT
Want your ex-boyfriend back? [Unfortunately] I can help.
Date: 2008-04-04, 11:52AM EDT

So, I've recently come to the realization that I possess a remarkable skill. I have the ability to reconnect women with ex-boyfriends that broke up with them. Now, some of you might be saying "Hey, that's pretty cool! How do you do that? I could make millions, or at least I could use that to trick women into sleeping with me!". Let me tell you, it sucks! The last three "girlfriends" I've had have all had their ex-boyfriends contact them shortly after starting to date me!

It took about a month and a half after we began dating for the first girl's ex to reconnect with her. And I really liked her (and he is an abusive asshole, she deserves so much better). Man did that suck. With the second girl, it took about three and a half weeks for her guy to come back (he was supposed to have left the freaking country!). I really liked her too. The third girl, it took her ex literally two days to contact her after our first date (and they had been apart for over five years!).

So, I appear to be getting better at this. Not only can I get you your boyfriend back within a few days, I can bring him back from incredibly unlikely circumstances. Have you been pining over an ex? Want him to give you a call? Perhaps he moved to Russia 12 years ago, got married, has 7 children, and you haven't heard from him since. No problem! One dinner and a movie with me and he'll likely be waiting on your doorstep when I drop you off.

Now, I haven't had a chance to properly test this, but I suspect that my skill works much better if we sleep together. Now, this might not be absolutely necessary, but you do really want to see your ex again right? Why risk it.

* Location: Herndon
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

All right Internets. Are you all-powerful and connected or not? How fast can you guys find this guy in DC and send him here? Tell him I've got him beat by one, and that he can read about it here, here and here. I'll stop the clock when I get an email from him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I crack myself up.

I laughed when I saw this news article title: “Residents to oppose water fee increases” and figured I would skip to the next story, the one about how the sun rose in the east this morning. But I read it anyway, and came across two things that caught my attention. The first was this line:
The water district is proposing a $2.30 increase on its pumping fee for large water users in the area…
I am fairly sure the reporter meant $2.30/acrefoot pumping fee, else I can’t imagine why large water users would care. I am sure we all agree that this is yet another example of the flagrant journalistic misconduct that has dominated our discourse for the past many years.

But journalists dropping units from their reporting has been endlessly hashed out on the leftwing blogs, and I was actually more interested in this line:
Smith and Beuhler said if 50 percent plus one of the land owners at the meeting vote against the fee hike, the district will not be able to implement the increase.
Naturally, I thought ‘Fifty-one percent of landowners, or fifty-one percent by acreage?” Did you know that different water districts have different ways to vote in district elections? Some districts have a one-landowner, one-vote structure; others have a voting structure where the vote is weighted by amount of acreage the vote caster owns; others have a voting structure where the votes is weighted by the dollar value of the land the voters owns. ‘Aha!’, you said to yourself! ‘At long last, I know the difference between a water district and an irrigation district!’ Not so fast, Spanky. I thought that too, but we’re both wrong.

After consulting the General Comparison of Water District Acts*, I found that it can be all over the board. Irrigation districts have a one-person, one-vote rule. Reclamation districts go by one vote per dollar assessed value of taxable land and improvements. Water Conservation Districts formed under the 1927 Act go by one vote per acre, but Water Conservation Districts formed under the 1931 Act allow all registered voters to vote in district affairs. Water districts can weight votes by dollars or by acreage.

There are people who think that this is important stuff. I can see that. Water districts have an awful lot of local authority, and the ability to assess taxes on landowners in the district, hold liens on land and use eminent domain. There is a fair amount of room for very large landholders to dominate water district decisions, which can be the same as land use decisions in farming regions. It certainly is not a very egalitarian, democratic voting method. Dr. Goodall looked at water district voting structure in California district and civic life, and found correlations. East side of the San Joaquin Valley has irrigation districts, more varied agriculture, more small farms, nice towns. The west side has big farms, water districts with one dollar, one vote rules, no cities worth, no non-farm anything**.

I can’t get too worked up over it. For one thing, if there is a cause in water district voting structures, it is long lost. Second, most districts assess landowners for improvements by acreage. If landowners are going to pay by the acre, maybe they should vote by the acre. Wouldn’t want a bunch of little guys to decide on a canal that one big landowner would substantially pay for. So I dunno. I don’t have a huge stake in it. But it crossed my mind when I read that article and having two whole thoughts as I read a short article is reason enough to tell you water stories.

*I’ll have you all know that I walked across the street to get a copy of Bulletin 155-94, General Comparison of Water District Acts, and carried a paper copy of it back to my desk. Don’t you ever question my dedication to accuracy on this here blog. I’m glad I did. I’d never heard of half these kinds of districts. A Protection District, to protect property from overflow damage by widening, deepening, changing, straightening, etc., channel of any innavigable stream, watercourse or wash? Resort Improvement Districts? Districts created by individual acts of the Legislature? New obscure forms of government? LOVE IT.

**It is true for the length of the Great Valley that cities on the 5 are horrible places, with the exception of Red Bluff. Towns on the 99 can be lovely and usually have at least remnant downtowns. (Um, Sacramento is on both. I guess I think it has the characteristics of a city on the 99.) But if you really want to go to an eerie place in California, you should divert west of the 5 south of Coalinga to go to Avenal. Avenal and that whole valley is very strange. The prison is there, and there is an entire settlement up on one hill that looks to be entirely makeshift, dozens of houses on dirt, no visible infrastructure. Chickens and clotheslines and no foundations. With zero evidence whatsoever, I’ve decided it is a frontier type place; I imagine it is run by some local strongman. Like I say, I have absolutely no proof of that, but when I mentioned Avenal to my boss, he emphatically agreed that it is a lost place. I’m sure that if the comments were on, someone would show up to tell me that Avenal is just lovely, a place with real great neighbors. (Also, you guys know that Coalinga is named that because it used to be Coaling Station A, right?)

Monday, April 21, 2008


I think the following would be enough to completely satiate my body:

Sleep from ten to six on weeknights. Weekends, sleep as fun allows.

Hour walk on weekday mornings.
Swim at noon five days a week.
Lift heavy three times a week.
Dance hard, outside, two to three hours, about three times every two weeks.
Ride bike for transportation.
Play catch once or twice a week.

Assisted stretching for half an hour, once a week.
Hour and a half massage, once a week.

Sleep next to a man, nightly.
Twice a day ought to be plenty.
Pick a kid up for a hug, couple times a day.

I think that if I got that, I would finally be saturated for motion and touch. My face would relax, my brows and cheeks soften. My shoulders would drop from my neck. My hips would loosen, my gait would get springier. My feet would still hurt, but that's how it is.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Time to learn hardstyle, I think.

I went to this* last night: a public dance at a BART station in SF. I went by myself and had a really good time. What was it like, you ask, to go by myself to a dance party? Well, it was exactly like going with one of my worthless friends (you should hear that in the most resentful embittered tone you can summon). After years of practice, we have the routine perfected. We go to a party or bar and I hear good music. I ditch them immediately to dance and they drink and hold the wall up or talk to each other. We're past any thoughts that it could be different. I don't ask them to dance anymore; they don't keep me from the dancing, trying to talk to me as I stare mesmerized at the dancers. So really, there was no point in trying to haul one of my non-dancing friends out with me.

I didn't need them anyway. Last night was testimony to the power of self-selection. I have never been in such a big crowd of people who danced just like me. My dance style, I thought until last night, is unusual. Lots of traveling, loose jointed floppy knees, hips sometimes, arms doing things. It is, I hope, goofy and fun; it is not, I don't think, sexy. This is because I do not want it to be sexy. Sexy dancing is mostly boring dancing. Sexy dancing brings some guy who also wants to do sexy grinding and it turns out that grinding gets old fast. If you are not actually going to leave to have sex, there isn't anywhere for grinding to go. Grinding is about the same ten seconds in, a minute in, a song in, and the next song. Yep. Grinding. Hips, back and forth. Yep. If you want to mix it up when the song changes, you can't while you're grinding. Boring.

But the people last night weren't boring. Near all of them danced like me! Exuberant! That was fun. If you don't dance, you might not know how much dancing is a conversation between everyone on the floor. There are people picking the topics and people responding and redirecting. In a good crowd, there is eye contact and smiling. There is a fair amount of joking around. My favorite dance last night came 'cause I was checking out this guy with glasses. I'd sorta seen him and thought he looked smiley, so I danced over and saw he was with this girl. I wondered if they were a couple but couldn't tell. She had short hair and a cardigan over a buttoned up shirt and tie, which made me think that maybe she wasn't dating him. I checked with her before I danced in on the guy she was with. She smiled and offered him up. Dancing with him was fun, but I turned away from him and back to her at one point. Dancing with her was GREAT. She was fun and smart and responsive and subtle, great sense of humor. I danced with her for a few songs. I hope she's at the next one.

Now that I know how great it is to dance outside, I want to do it all the time. Two weekends in a row I got to dance outside. And surprisingly, at a dance of several dozen people in San Francisco, I ran into two people I know. Dan (played on a couple of my league teams, is at the grocery store every third time I go**) and I had this unilluminating conversation.

Me: !!!!
Dan: !!!!
Me: What are you doing here?!
Dan: I came to dance! What are you doing?!
Me: Dancing! But.. you live in Sac!
Dan: So do you!

I gave up and went back to dancing. Truly, a good time.

*Just the first dozen pictures or so. WARNING! Brace yourself and cover the children's eyes. There is quite a bit of breast visible in one picture. I know how you hate to be surprised by glimpses of breasts. I didn't see any of me in any pictures, although one guy took a few shots of me. That happened last week in Sacramento, too. Dude with a huge lens taking pictures of me dancing. I don't care, except that I would like to know where to see them later.

**Dan's one of those people with imaginary spouses. You know they're married, but the spouse never comes to any games, and they go to league parties alone. Despite the fact that I see Dan grocery shopping more than anyone but Dave, I've never seen her there too. And! He was at the dance last night alone. Dude, you're visiting another city for the weekend, going to dances. Where's your wife?