New CDs

Two new CDs arrived from Amazon today:

  1. Tanto Tempo by Bebel Gilberto — mellow bossa nova from the daughter of Joao Gilberto. It’s subtle and sweeet music, with down tempo beats enjoyable vocals (even if I don’t understand what she’s saying). One of Amazon’s Best of 2000.`
  2. Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol — found these guys by browsing related artists from Hot Hot Heat. They’re a British punk/pop group, more ‘atmospheric’ sounding than Hot Hot Heat, and well stated lyrically.

Microserfs

Finished Douglas Copland’s Microserfs. While it may sound like a book about Microsoft and the people that live around it, it’s acutally a novel on “geeks” in their search to find themselves (and lives) in the midst of working 14+ hours a day. While not awfully deep or compelling by itself, it’s the characters that add value and thought to the book. They’re generally intellectual snobs, quirky, amusing, and quite dorky which leads to making them interesting to read about and make an interesting comparison against my own Microserf life. It makes a quick read and is pretty amusing, whether or not you’re a MS employee or somebody who somebody who wants a peek in to the mind of people in this Valley.

This Years Republican National Convention

Forwarded to me by Steve:

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE
CONVENTION SCHEDULE
New York, NY

6:00 PM Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell
6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd Amendment)
6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing
6:46 PM Seminar #1:  Getting Your Kid a Military Deferment
7:30 PM First Presidential Beer Bong
7:35 PM Freedom Fries served
7:40 PM EPA Address #1:  Mercury:  It’s What’s for Dinner
8:00 PM Vote on which country to invade next
8:10 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh
8:15 PM John Ashcroft Lecture:  The Homos Are After Your Children
8:30 PM Round table discussion on reproductive rights (men only)
8:50 PM Seminar #2:  Corporations:  The Government of the Future
9:00 PM Condi Rice sings “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”
9:05 PM Second Presidential Beer Bong
9:10 PM EPA Address #2:  Trees:  The Real Cause of Forest Fires
9:30 PM break for secret meetings
10:00 PM Second Prayer led by Cal Thomas
10:15 PM Carl Rove Lecture:  Doublespeak Made Simple
10:30 PM Rumsfeld Lecture/Demonstration:  How to Squint and Talk Macho Even When You Feel Squishy Inside
10:35 PM Bush demonstration of trademark “deer in headlights” stare
10:40 PM John Ashcroft Demonstration:  New Mandatory Kevlar Chastity Belt
10:45 PM Clarence Thomas reads list of black Republicans
10:46 PM Third Presidential Beer Bong
10:50 PM Seminar #3:  Education:  A Drain on Our Nation’s Economy
11:10 PM Hilary Clinton Pinata
11:20 PM John Ashcroft Lecture:  Evolutionists:  A Dangerous New Cult
11:30 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again
11:35 PM Blame Clinton
11:40 PM Laura serves milk and cookies
11:50 PM Closing Prayer led by Jesus Himself
12:00 PM Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Overlord

Flying on a Real Airline

Typically twice a month, I fly from San Jose to San Diego. The route sells out incredibly ahead of time, so all the cheap seats are sold months in advance on Southwest. No other airline is really an option, except American, but they have less flexible flight times.

That typically leaves me buying a full fare Southwest ticket, which are $107.00 each way. Tack on the “Security Fee”, “PFC” and “Taxes”, the ticket comes to $234.20. San Diego and San Jose are about 700 (?) miles from each other, so it comes to roughly $0.17/mile. As I blogged about a while ago, I got my tickets from SFO to EWR for $276.70. The flight is 2500 miles, giving us a rocking $0.06/mile on Continental!

Flying on Continental feels so much more like a real airline than Southwest. On my way to New Jersey, I watched part of Chasing Liberty and I’m watching The Big Bounce on the plane right now. In this segment, we were served Cape Cod Reduced Fat Chips (only potatoes, canola oil, and salt!), Pepperidge Farms Milano Cookies and sandwiches. Pretty impressive, I thought, for an airline in an industry that is generally headed south. Having assigned seats is also a simple pleasure that I’d forgotten about, not to mention enough overhead baggage space to accommodate all the passengers.

New Jersey, Part 2

Having a part 1 blog entry is quite binding to have a part 2. So, here is the part 2. On Saturday, we went to visit both Princeton and Philadelphia. Princeton was a short 30 minute drive from my parents place to the borough and township of Princeton. The campus is quite elegant, although it is lacking in much of the Ivy that my parents seem to have remembered it having. The building we saw were all in the quasi-gothic, vaulted ceiling, ornate support pillars and stone style. Given that the buildings were build in the early 1800s, it’s hardly surprising. Definitely different than the modern glass and steel buildings of UCSD that have names such as EBU1 (= Engineering Building Unit 1).

 

After Princeton, it was an hour or so until Philadelphia (along the 95, over the Delaware and past Sesame Street amusement park). Downtown Philly is impressive scene. It’s quite a bit bigger than I remembered it (AAA says it’s around 4.5 million in the area). We drove past City Hall on Market street through the main downtown area. Cool downtown, lots of stores, bars and offices. We parked near Independence Hall, went and saw the Liberty Bell then saw the Hall itself. Lots more security than I remember (of course), and the Liberty Bell had been relocated to a new building. The old one which it used to be housed in has become the x-ray and metal detector room.

 

We walked past the Constitution building and the Philadelphia Mint on the way to Betsy Ross’s old house. After realizing there was an entrance fee, we went down to Elfrish Alley which is the oldest inhabited area in the nation. The alley is probably about 10 or 15 houses long, full of little quaint homes and little gardens. Reminded me of parts of Antwerp. After walking back to the car and driving through Society Hill (and all the really nice houses there), we headed back to NJ.

New Jersey, Part 1

I’m spending the weekend at my parents new place in New Jersey. I left out of SFO at around 9:15pm on Thursday, watched part of the horrible movie Chasing Liberty, and arrived at EWR around 6AM. After my parents picked me up, they gave me a quick tour of the new house, we did some quick catching up and I passed out till about 1030AM (EST). The rest of the day was spent driving around seeing all the little towns that make up this part of New Jersey and going to temple in the evening. Also of consequence was the Lakers victory in Game 1 over the Timberwolves (of which I missed the 1st half to field a work phone call — c’est la vie).

The new house is quite nice. It’s smaller than our old home in Laguna Hills, but it’s quite quaint; it reminds me much of a vacation rental in Mammoth. Being that it is a smaller than the old home, things are more closely packed in together, which I think makes it look better and cozier. The home has quite a stately and warm feel. The downstairs is almost all hardwood floor and the basement is fully finished (complete with dart board and wet bar). Upstairs are three (well, perhaps four, but the fourth has been made in to a study) bedrooms and it has 2.5 baths. Overall, very nice home.

Thinking of being in New Jersey, one conjures up images of an industrial wasteland. Surprisingly, out here in Bedminster (so many kooky Anglo-British names around here), it reminds me much of the Pacific Northwest. The trees are most definitely not as thick and towering, but are as dense and lush as one might find on the 5 between Portland and Oregon. The entire area around here is quite beautiful. I’m sure if we went and visited the Newark/Jersey City side of things, the ugly Jersey would surly show up.

Today, it’s on to take a day trip for a refresher course on historic Philadelphia. Time permitting, we’re going to visit our old digs of ’87-’88 and ’91-’92 in Blue Bell, PA to see what our old home and that place looks like today.

Jamus Makes Fun of Himself

I went to dinner last night with Jamus and Pam after they’d finished a vacation in Yosomite. Jamus and I were talking about a student in his law school who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and Jamus postulated that she went to law school only because her boyfriend did. I asked him is her boyfriend went to McGeorge (where Jamus goes), to which he responded, “No, he goes to Boalt, he’s smart.” OOOH, you just burned yourself Jamus! Forever I will hang this over his head. 🙂

Life of Pi

I finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The book has a great story with an very clever ending. I suggest that you read the author’s notes at the begining of the book (doesn’t matter if it’s at the before or after you read the book, there are no spoilers). The book tells the story of with Piscine Patel, a 16 year old boy, who grew up as a Hindu in Pondicherry and took on the additional religions of Christianity and Islam. The first half of the book largly focuses on the hilarity of his multiple religions and him growing up a zoo owner/keepers son. His family relocates to Canada aboard a Japanese ship which sinks at sea. Yadda yadda yadda, I’m terrible at writing book reviews. Bottom line is it’s a great book, an awesome tale of perseverance written in a fun, intelligent and whimsical way.

Why I Miss College

We had a big office shuffle on Friday and got the day off. I took the time and flew to San Diego a day early. I realized why I miss school. It’s days like Friday, when you wake up, see what your roommates are up to and hang out on and off during the day. My Friday went roughly like:

  1. Woke up
  2. Worked on email for about 2 hours
  3. Hung out with roommates
  4. Headed down to Fry’s with Dan
  5. Swing by Dumpling Inn and picked up lunch
  6. Came back to University City
  7. Hung out with back at Cather
  8. Went to the gym
  9. Met friends downtown for a Hip-Hop dance show
  10. Bar hopping
  11. 2AM Burritos
  12. House party in Tierrasanta
  13. Sleep

So structureless! It’s truly enjoyable, just hanging out and doing whatever seems interesting at the moment.

New Government in India

Big news in the world today, India has ousted the BJP party from its legislature and voted in the Congress party. Story from Reuters and from BBC. It’s democracy in action in the worlds largest democracy:

The BBC’s Adam Mynott in Delhi says it is the huge unspoken mass of Indians, largely ignored by the BJP and who have no electricity, poor sanitation and filthy water who have spoken.