Sunday, July 31, 2005

Uh Oh 

Sigh. I was afraid NASA would have to face this kind of decision during the Shuttle flight. I know space flight will always be dangerous, but to me it looks more and more like NASA might have glossed over some of the tile problems. After the spectacular launch, there has been a great deal of uncertainty orbiting the Shuttle program.

I'll keep my fingers crossed, and hold my breath (not literally) until the Shuttle crew is safely back on Terra Firma.

OK, time to end this with good astronomy news! Ice on Mars! Tenth planet?

Meat, Fire, Garlic, Good! 

I took a couple of hours to head down to Stinktown, USA, better known as Gilroy. This weekend they had their famous Garlic Festival. I've gone in past years, so I wasn't planning on going. However, a couple of friends had never gone, and I didn't have to drive.

The last one was most important. I didn't feel like sitting in the five-mile backup the festival produces.

It was a better time than I thought it would be. But then again, I can usually be convinced to go somewhere that features good food.


Meat! Posted by Picasa

Not the vegetarian section.


Fire! Posted by Picasa

This is how you cook garlic shrimp for tens of thousands of people; with flames that shoot eight feet in the air.


Ice Cream Posted by Picasa

A friend purchased pistachio-garlic ice cream. Everyone else liked it, but I feel that garlic and dessert need to kept as far apart as possibly. I won't be asking Ben & Jerry's to make a garlic flavor anytime soon.


Crowds Posted by Picasa

Since we got there in the morning, the crowds weren't too bad. It was still pretty packed. Plus admission was twelve bucks, a little too pricey for my liking. All in all, I had a good time but I don't think I'll go next year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cutting Edge? Heh. 

I guess I'm not as vulgar as I used to be:

the Cutting Edge
(60% dark, 47% spontaneous, 33% vulgar)
your humor style:
CLEAN | SPONTANEOUS | DARK




Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's
something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making
people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't in and
of themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery,
or are seriously over-the-top. Your type is the most likely to
appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person
dancing.


PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi



My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 54% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 45% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 45% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid


I'm glad someone can appreciate my ability to make people uncomfortable. Don't know if they're always laughing...

Hat tip: Helen. Bill's results here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Godspeed, STS-114 


Courtesy of NASA.Posted by Picasa

Please go well, please go well. PleasePleasePleasePlease.


UPDATE: Yay! Successful launch. Still, there is concern regarding debris that appeared to fall off the external tank. Stay tuned.

My Weekend 

This past weekend, I hosted old college friend Bill, plus his friend Naeem. Bill is on a sacred quest to visit every single major league ballpark. This weekend was San Francisco's turn. Plus Bill would get the chance to enter the belly of the beast; a LA Dodger fan in SBC Park.

Bill and Naeem brought up more than a meal of Pioneer Chicken for another friend (don't ask). They also brought up a bright-blue Dodger Curse for those hated Giants. Final score of the Marlins vs. Giants on Saturday night: 16-4.

Ouch.

Being a lukewarm Oakland A's fan, I was able to take in the action in nonpartisan fashion. I could enjoy the pregame ceremony honoring ex-Giant Gaylord Perry, and I could enjoy the cascade of boos that the fans gave the struggling home team. Bill has his own (better) pics, including the actual people in our group. Unlike mine, where I went for the scenery.



Shipping Containers at the Port of Oakland.Posted by Picasa

Stuck in traffic waiting to get on the Bay Bridge? Why not snap some pictures? This shot is (naturally) from the Port of Oakland. Not quite "pretty," but I like this picture just the same.


Number 36 Retirement Ceremony.Posted by Picasa

The game we attended happened to have the retirement ceremony for Gaylord Perry's number 36. He was famous for his tenacity and his, ...ahem... spitballs. Oh well. And yes, we were in nosebleed seats. It was still fun.


Home-run fireworks. The lone highlight of the Giants' night.Posted by Picasa


Splash Landing Posted by Picasa

Looking south; the right field wall, McCovey Cove, and the stadium parking lot.



Gameshot Posted by Picasa

This was the best picture I took of actual game footage. The game got away pretty quickly, and I wasn't paying that close attention anyway.


A shot looking north from the concession stands underneath the stadium. I know I couldn't afford to live in any of these condos.Posted by Picasa



Bay BridgePosted by Picasa

The view of the Bay Bridge from the stadium. With views like this, it's easy to forget there's a game on.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What the Heck Is A Hornbeam Tree? 

OK, time to lighten the mood.





You Are A Hornbeam Tree









You are a reserved person, looking in from the outside.

Naturally attractive, you take good care of your looks.

You are not egoistic, and you make life as comfortable as possible.

You look for kindness in others - though you are seldom happy with yourself.

A bit mistrusting and unsure, you dream of being swept away by someone unusual.



What is Your Celtic Horoscope?


Hmmm, those Celts can make a pretty decent horoscope. This one is actually pretty accurate for me. "Swept away by someone unusual." That could either go really well or horribly wrong. Wounldn't mind finding out though.

Taken from the currently hurricane-free VW, who offers a blessing for the Hurricane Sunshine State.

London Redux 

It's still early to tell, but it appears that there has been another attempt to cause more carnage on the London Underground. This has started around 12:35 London time. Three stations evacuated, one unconfirmed now confirmed report of a malfunctioning nail bomb. Fox News reports a witness saying of another possible indicent on a bus. No causualities confirmed yet. The Command Post is on top of the story, and should update frequently all day. I'll be at work (and away from an internet connection), so I'll update much later today.

Looks like a likely follow-up London attack ended up stillborn. Every time I take the local BART trains to work, this seems to happen. Oh well, the last thing people should do is give in to these bastards and uproot out lives.

By the way, we are still not afraid!

UPDATE: Fortunately, no more incidents in eather London or anywhere else. As for effects locally, there was an announcement on BART this evening that trains coming from SF into the East Bay through the Transbay Tube would be about 10 minutes late due to security precautions. Fortunately, this doesn't effect my route. BART has a press release that mentions one of the precautions being taken is employing a bomb-sniffing dog to check trains headed toward San Francisco. Is it too difficult to get another dog to check trains moving through the Tube away from San Francisco? Duh!

Also, here is a transcript of Australian Prime Minister John Howard answering a question regarding the London terrorism and any connection to British involvement in the Iraq War. The jist of it was these people were threatening long before Iraq, and before even Afghanistan. Say what you want to about Iraq, these people wouldn't hate us any less if Iraq didn't happen.

However, that alone doesn't justify everything that took place in Iraq, but that's another matter.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Attack-Hugged!! 

...or is that hug-attacked? Whatever. I'll get to that in a minute. Warning: heavy-duty cuteness at the end of the post.

OK, so I still may or may not be an aspiring marine biologist. With the new job, it will be at least a couple of years before I go back to grad school, and jump back into the MB world with both feet. In the mean time, I've been occasionally volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands, and more recently at the Bodega Marine Lab on the Sonoma Coast.

Once a week or so, I've been helping a postdoc with his mussel study, doing exciting things like removing dead predators, checking the water flow, and feeding the live predators. Ehh, it's not much yet, but I do enjoy it. And I might be able to do a research project soon, if time and circumstances allow.

This Saturday was the bi-annual BML Open House, where the public was able to tour the facility and see what the heck we do. Thanks to an article in the SF Chronicle, tons of people came up. I spent the day explaining as best I could what the mussel study was:

1.) Collect and measure mussels.
2.) Put them into tanks.
3.) Add sea stars and whelks to the mussel tanks; in their own containers so they can't eat the mussels, yet exposed to the same water the mussels live in.
4.) Wait a few months.
5.) Re-measure mussels to see what physical effects have occured, due to the mussels being exposed to their predators. Are there chemical cues in the water that affect mussel growth?

Back to the attack-hug. The highlight of the whole day was a sweet little girl, no more than four years old, who came from nowhere to hug my leg. I didn't want to startle her, so I didn't pull back. Apparently she thought I was someone else, because two visibly embarresed adults (parents, heehee) told her: "Honey, that isn't Brian [or some other name]."

Oops!

Oh well, there are far worse things than getting an accidental hug from a toddler. I told the young girl that her daddy was ready to go now, and somewhat perdictably her mother replied "We'll loan her to you!" Heh, that's OK.

I won't take the girl, but I'll keep the hug. Brian (or whatever his name was) can get a make-up hug from her later.

Not Too Shabby 

An over-simplified quiz, but I still ended up with the same score I usually get on longer IQ tests:

Your IQ Is 125

Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

A Quick and Dirty IQ Test


I'm sure there are...ahem....some readers who can beat my score.

Hat Tip: Bill, Helen, and a Bunch of Others.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Slow Posting 

The new job has been going well. The past couple of weeks, I've worked from 12pm to 8:30 pm. For me, it sure beats the usual 8 to 5 grind, as I usually spend my moring hours in a sleepy daze anyway. The work itself is interesting. There are a lot of big expensive machines that will eventually filter and aloquat the drug product, plus the equipment to sanitize those machines. All this hardware works when it feels like, and this can make training on them an excercise in patience.

OK, so I got my wish: a job. Now I have to learn to juggle all my interests and obligations along with that job. Honestly, I don't know how parents do it all. So, I've got a time management schedule all worked out. Now the hard part is saying to myself, "Yes I'm tired, but I can still quickly (read, blog, clean up, cook a decent meal).

Couldn't we just make the day 30 hours long?

Finally 

So the National Hockey League finally reached a tentative agreement with its players? This is after:

* An entire season lost to the lockout.

* Millions of dollars in revenue lost to players, teams, vendors, and local hockey-dependant businesses like sports bars.

* Likely millions of fans who grew tired of waiting and have no interest in supporting ice hockey again.

Was it really worth it? I never thought too highly of the game of "chicken."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

We Are Not Afraid 

Busy weekend this was. A trip to my mom's in Fresno was on the agenda; I hadn't been back in two months. Plus, I got to see Caltechgirl, her husband GMT, plus Caltechmom and Caltechdad. I always get a kick out of seeing that CTG's high school mementos are still in the same places they were ten years ago.

More to say later on, but a couple of items first:

Hurricane Dennis did its worst, which fortunately wasn't too bad. No deaths in the USA (condolences to the Caribbean, which lost 20 people), and less damage than last year's Hurricane Ivan, which took the same path. Hopefully the US death toll will stay at zero, and crooked reconstruction contractors will be kept away.

Via Instapundit: WeAreNotAfraid.com.

This totally rocks. People send in pictures of themselves, or someone close, with the words "We Are Not Afraid" support the people of London against terrorism. Some people who are good with PhotoShop also have sent in some neat stuff.

Some of my favorites are here, here, here, here, and here.

It's such a simple thing, but I felt really uplifted looking at some of the submissions. I guess it's that feeling that the world is smaller than it often seems, and that good people will always come together to support each other. It makes me feel like many from around the world would care and help, if God forbid, something heinous happened much closer to my home. I'm sure Londoners who visit the site are uplifted.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

God Bless London 

Not again.


This time I didn't receive a wake up phone call. I slept in today, blissfully ignorant.

At 9am (US Pacific time) I turned on the TV.

Not again.

Here I sit, ten minutes later, in a state of confusion, attempting to catch up with the rest of the world. Just like last time. Too scared and shocked, to be angry but that will come soon. I can already feel it.

Last time it was New York and Washington, now it's London.

Motherf*****s.

Sons of bitches. I just took BART last night too. I don't know the exact details yet, but in a way those details don't matter.

First Madrid, now London. Europe has an islamist threat to its people in it's midst, it cannot deny it, and it needs to aggressivly take these people out. No more attempting to "understand." We understand your bombs, now they can understand out guns.

Unlike last time, it wasn't a pre-planned day off. I have to get my day started, somehow.

UPDATE: US Homeland security raised threat level on transport systems to orange. Locally, more security placed on BART trains and San Francisco Muni buses and trains. No delays on either system.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

These Little Piggies 

I can't complain about my Fourth of July. I spend the evening at the Alameda County Fair, and I can't think of a more stereotypically all-American way to spend what was a perfect summer evening. Sadly, no fireworks, but I did see an event just as good:


Piggies! Posted by Picasa

You may have skydived, visited Antarctica, or had dinner with a celebrity, but noting compares to pig racing.


More Piggies! Posted by Picasa

The highlight of the racing was one piglet that took the creative approach. The crowd was promised that this piglet could not only clear the hurdle, but could clear a hurdle with two extensions added on top. The anticipation built. Whoosh! Off went the piglet, racing toward the formidable barrier. And then, he stopped...

After pausing for a few seconds, he did what any of us would do. He ran around the hurdle and jumped the fence, racing to the finish line and he food reward.

Who says pigs aren't smart?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sweet Land of Liberty 

Happy Fourth of July to all Americans, and best wishes to all others!


Liberty Bell Posted by Picasa

Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it. -- Apu-like convienence store owner, pitching Fourth of July fireworks to Homer Simpons.

Stay safe. Everybody keep all the finger you had before tonight!

UPDATE: Here's a classic post from Michele featuring a sign that vividly points out why it's bad to blow your fingers off.

Gimme My Receipt! 

A couple of days ago Alameda County, where I live (main city: Oakland), decided to keep the electronic voting machines it's been using the past couple of elections. The machines are manufactured by Diebold, which has received quite a bit of criticism, some of which is noted in the article.

I have to admit I'm pretty wary of the touch-screen machines. I do worry that the votes contained electronically within the machines could be deleted or altered. But honestly, it can't be said that paper votes can be deleted or altered too. Shortly after the November 2001 election, several ballot box lids from the City of San Francisco were found floating in the bay! Clearly, someone can screw up or falsify votes regardless of which method is used to tabulate.

This is why I'm put more at ease that a state law was passed requiring all electronic voting machines to print out a paper receipt of the vote. And also, at least in California, any voter can demand to use a paper ballot at the polling booth. The poll workers won't tell you this fact, but once you ask, they will gladly provide the paper ballot. This is what I did for the November 2004 election.

Please, no more Floridas.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Kablooey! 

It's been a busy week. Yesterday, one more task was added:


Poof! Posted by Picasa

Get a new tire!


Tire guts. Posted by Picasa

Check out gnarly tire damage! I knew it would be a great idea to always keep my new digital camera with me.

I had a blowout coming back from my weekly trip assisting at Bodega Marine Lab. Fortunately, when the tire went, I had enough time to pull over safely off the freeway. I made an attempt to put the spare on myself, but I was starting to strip the bolts on the hubcap. Little did I know that those hubcap bolts were fake ornamental, so it didn't matter. I ended up calling AAA, and theyy did their usual professional job. Still though, I got a little more sun yesterday than I was planning on. At least I had some scenery to look at while I waited.


Novato, CA, in northern Marin County, CA.Posted by Picasa

Whenever I travel up Highway 101 North past Novato, I always wonder what this building in the picture is. It's kind of isolated, halfway up the hill overlooking the rest of the town. I always inagine something sinister going on there. Perhaps it's a field office of a James Bond villian, or Hank Scorpio, the villian on the Simpsons who took over the East Coast.

Hey, I had to have something to think about while I was stuck on the highway waiting for the road service.