Friday, December 07, 2007

Luxury < safety

Attention bikers:

Headlights and taillights are both legally required for night riding and a really good idea.

Bluetooth headsets are luxuries.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Helen wants a dog

Helen wants a dog. She wants a dog very badly. She's desperate enough that she's even suggested a puggle.

We're in an apartment with a great price, great character, and great location. However, it's in our lease that we can't have a pet. Even if we were in a better place, we both travel a lot and work long hours. It wouldn't be fair to a dog. A smaller, lower maintenance pet might be ok in the right apartment, and so I broached the issue with Helen.

Me: what about a bunny?
Me: as a pet?
Me: when we want to go skiing, we can make stew
Me: and start over with a cuter one
Helen: I was almost considering it ... then you said stew

Monday, October 29, 2007

But I thought all of you were broken!

Apparently I have a genetic disorder: photic sneeze reflex (aka ACHOO (Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome)). I sneeze when it's too bright. No, seriously. Helen thinks it's funny.

My mom used to tell me people without this are the broken ones. Now I know that it's really a syndrome!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I biked to Half Moon Bay, and all I got was this pumpkin. And the makings of a cool scar.

Last Saturday, a Googler named John arranged a bike ride called "The Pumpkin Fetch". The premise is just to bike to Half Moon Bay, buy a pumpkin, and bike back. Also, we were required to buy pumpkins. (Apparently John's been doing this ride for quite some time.) I'm not an amazing biker, but I figured a 60 mile bike ride would be fine.

The ride requires two ascents from basically sea level to the top of the hill between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Most people call it going up to Skyline Boulevard. I've biked up to Skyline about 5 times now, but never twice in one day. I knew it would be a strenuous ride, but John said that he took his time and would be ok with people a bit slower.

I left home at 7:30 am. I met my friend Jim and John at 8 am at Google. It was pretty chilly last Saturday, and I didn't really warm up until about 3 miles out from Google (9 miles total into the ride). Jim and John kept a pretty fast pace to King's Mountain, and I just tried to keep up. We had a pretty leisurely ascent up Kings Mountain (according to Jim, I took 48 minutes from Tripp Road to Skyline). We then turned north and biked to 92. 92 is a busy road to Half Moon Bay. We descended on 92, and then passed quite a few cars while we biked on the shoulder.

We picked up our pumpkins at a small farm on 92 and took a bit of a break. John purchased a 29 pound pumpkin, and I picked up 50 cent pumpkin - one I'm very proud of!

After the pumpkin selection, we headed west towards Route 1, and then south on Route 1.

The second ascent was up Tunitas Creek Road. From the description, I thought Tunitas would be just a little bit more challenging than King's Mountain. I was wrong - Tunitas is one heck of a road. It's beautiful, not many people, but fairly steep for a few miles.

After one of my many stops on the way up Tunitas, my right foot slipped while trying to clip into my pedals, and came back against the chainring. I started lightly bleeding, but there wasn't much I could do but continue on.

About 3 miles from the top of Tunitas creek, I got a flat in my rear tube. I tried to replace it, but broke off the tip of the Presta valve on my spare. I was trying to reach Jim, who was far ahead, and let him know that I got a flat. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, it took me 15 minutes to get a text out. In the meantime, a very nice biker named Ryan stopped and helped me out - we busted a third tube before we realized that my tire also had a hole in it.

John came back down from the top to help out. Some duct tape, a patch kit, and 15 minutes later, I was on my way again. We reached the top of Skyline again, and I biked home.

I recorded 66 miles and about 6000 feet of vertical. John got quite a lot of compliments on riding up Tunitas with a big pumpkin on the back of his bike.

GPS data and the map of the ride.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Las Vegas!

Helen and I are off to Las Vegas this weekend, and I'm curious - what would you do in Vegas? We have 3 shows to see, and we're staying kind of south strip.

What's really worth going to? What made your trip to Vegas? What stunk?

So far, this is what I want to see:
Anything else must do? Is the New York New York roller coaster worth it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I might be a little old

I might be getting old, or at least too interested in the economy. I heard the Fed cut the federal funds rate a half percent, and all I could think was "What's this mean for inflation?"

Monday, July 02, 2007

I shouldn't be surprised

Bush commutes Libby's jail time.

President's statement

Article about it

Things to learn before going to a foreign country

I just got back from Austria, and while on the trip I figured out that I didn't prepare enough. There are a few things I think I should have learned before I went to a country where I don't speak the native language. (Although, Austrians spoke great English in a commercial setting. Gas station employees switched to English easily, as did servers at restaurants.)

How to say:
  • Excuse me
  • Sorry
  • Do you speak English?
  • I don't speak X
  • Please, thank you
  • May I have a ?
  • Do you have a menu in English?
What the road signs look like. For example, European road signs are different from American ones. Who knew this meant "no bikes" as opposed to "caution, bikes"?

Helen giggled whenever I tried to speak German.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bad news, good news

Bad news: the USPS is raising stamp rates to $0.41 per stamp on May 14.

Good news: the USPS is offering a new "forever stamp" that can always be used to mail a first class letter, no matter how much stamp rates go up. (You can't put it on a package and expect it to be worth the current first class stamp rate, but I never have tried that.)

It makes a ton of sense to introduce "forever stamps", assuming that first class stamps rise with inflation - I use maybe 50 stamps a year, and they raised rates this time 15 months apart. I could never go through a roll of stamps in between fair increases.

I lost my temper

Today, I biked to work. I was in the bike lane, all the way to the right. A Prius driver was on my left, with her right blinker on. Well, when the light turned green, she tried to get ahead of me and make the right in front of me.

From talking to other guys to bike to work, I'm not the only one who is sometimes cut off by a recently passing car. (It happens every once in a while to all of us it seems)

Bikers aren't nearly as slow as drivers seem to think they are. Or cars aren't as fast as their drivers think. Either way!


I have a new favorite drink. The Company recently added a new bottled water, and I adore it. It's called Hint. I drink about 6 bottles of Hint a day at work. It's lightly flavored water with 0 calories - it's so lightly flavored that I feel like I'm drinking water, but it's flavored enough that I don't feel bored like I do chugging water all day long.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

If you want to lose weight

If you want to lose weight, you might want to stop looking at the prices at the grocery store.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why Snapfish is the worst site ever

Snapfish has earned some wrath today: they force you to log into see a photo album and they charge you to download the originals. They charge me to download the images my mom took.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Flying flying flying

I fly about 50,000 miles per year. Assuming that's split into 10 round trips, with non flying time of 4 hours per trip (layovers and getting to the airport early), and an aircraft speed of 500 miles per hour, that's about 140 hours per year of travel. 1.6% of my year.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Boooo Dollar

Dollar rental charges $25/day if you're under 25, as opposed to the $15 that other companies charge.

I tried to rent a Charger and they gave me a Grand Marquis. Lame.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bob Marley went forth

Bob Marley went forth and multiplied.

My favorite thing? 3 kids born in one month:

Stephen, born April 20, 1972, to Rita
Robert "Robbie", born May 16, 1972, to Pat Williams
Rohan, born May 19, 1972, to Janet Hunt

Google Maps is still the best

New York, NY to Dublin, Ireland

That's right, no flying for you

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

At least they were honest (and spell well)

From: "Parr, Kelli"
To: Matt
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 07:21:16 -0500
Subject: Fraudulent Spam.

Dear Homeowner,

You have been pre-approved for a $438 ,000 'refinance' Loan at a 3.23 % Fixed Rate.

This offer is being extended to you unconditionally and your credit is in no way a factor.

To take Advantage of this Limited Time opportunity all we ask is that you visit our Website and complete the 1 minute post Approval Form.


Sincerely yours,
Brett Abraham

Friday, March 02, 2007

NovaForm + Roomba?

When I crawled into bed last night, I felt a little congested. But I hadn't felt congested before. So I decided I should change my sheets and probably vacuum my bed.

Lo and behold, my Roomba does not like to work on my NovaForm mattress. The Roomba's cleaning rotors suck the mattress cover in, and the Roomba can't go anywhere. Maybe I'll have to do this the old fashioned way...

Friday, February 23, 2007

New favorite site!

Thanks to Fark, I've found my new favorite site.

Goalie fights are beautiful! And this fight last night between Buffalo and Ottowa is fun.

Fat fingers forge fear

Every time I mistype my password at work I get:

Username or password not recognized.

and I worry I've been fired and that I haven't been told. :'(

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tragedy of the Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons. I think reading an essay on this should be in every high school English class.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Colbert + O'Relly

Colbert on The O'Reilly Factor

O'Reilly on the Colbert Report

O'Reilly likes to yell, and Colbert didn't rise to it, although O'Reilly was baiting him.
Colbert was so patronizing that O'Reilly couldn't find anything to yell and get angry about.
Seeing O'Reilly on the Colbert Report was kind of anticlimactic.

Monday, January 15, 2007

(Belated) New Year's Resolution

The Alpine Meadows National Ski Patrol is looking for more patrolmen. They have a "ski check" that you have to pass to be a patrolman. Well, I ski most of their terrain, but not their double blacks or some of their off piste terrain.

In 2007, I want to get in good enough shape so that in the 2007-2008 ski season I can train to be a patrolman. Basically this is a 2 year resolution: year 1, fitness to train. Year 2: train on the terrain and gain a bit more strength to be able to take a loaded toboggan down all of that terrain. Then, fall 2008, take that ski check and pass it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"But daddy, I'm only 5"

University Ave, Palo Alto. A father has his five year old son in his arms.

Father: "You have to be, pretty much, first in your class every year for that"

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


On New Year's Eve, Helen and I went to one of her LA friend's parents' house for a small party. One of the other people there brought a student movie he acted in for us to watch.

Towards the end of the movie, there are zombies and there's a non zombie guy who is leading the zombies. This dialog still makes me smile:

Leader: What do we want?
Zombies: Brains
Leader: When do we want it?
Zombies: Brains

Edit: apparently this wasn't as original as I'd thought.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Loyalty: hard to earn, easy to lose

Usually, mileage from United Airlines flights posts on my US Airways account within a couple days. When I flew back from Pittsburgh in early December, I didn't get my miles normally debited. So I mailed in the ticket stub, as they say to do after a couple weeks. A couple weeks later, no miles posted.

So I email them:
... I haven't yet received the miles, and miles are always deposited within 2 days. I even mailed in the ticket to the
mailing address you specify...

They reply, 8 days later:

To credit missing flight activity ... in your Dividend Miles account, we require both a copy of the ticket receipt and the original boarding passes to be submitted ...

Ok, at least pretend to read my email, please.

So I call. I have status on US Airways, so I call my spiffy elite line. I figured I'd get some perky, happy customer service rep - I mean, shouldn't frequent flyers get better service? Nope, the CSR was completely unenthusiastic and bored.

I used to be happy with US Airways: usually on time, usually pretty good service, usually just kind of another mainline carrier. In 3 events (miles not normally posting, lousy and slow email support, unenthusiastic customer support reps), in the span of a month, I've completely lost any enthusiasm to fly with them.