November 2005

Summary: Beijing People's Art Theatre in The Teahouse by Lao She, Birthday Dinner at Plumpjack Cafe with Patrick, Chris and Nate Visit San Francisco, Creole Thanksgiving

Dates on this page

Tue 1

Student computing committee meeting, Doug C guest starring. Met with drop-in student KB about setting up a website. Fixed wireless on Chris's laptop—some IP settings were incorrect. Updated a student organization website link for student UW. Coded and uploaded a new news story for Susie. Small web edits for James to the interview reply form. Helped Timmy figure out why he wasn't getting any e-mail (Outlook was accidentally in Work Offline mode). Updated the OSACA map and directions page for Joel, who spotted a small error—the instructions had referred to dry cleaners which had closed in the past 6 months or so. Met with student NT about how to remove a trojan. Dinner at home with Patrick: pan-fried tuna and new potatoes; spinach, basil, and heirloom tomato salad.

Wed 2

Telecommute day. Backfilled journal entries for the past few days. Updated yesterday's news story for Susie. Helped Susie figure out what to do when she sees the error message "ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange has blocked an attachment." (The answer can depend on whether you're trying to receive or send the attachment in question, but one solution I recommend that works for either case is yousendit.com.) Placed an order for a memory upgrade for Joel's computer. Our office computers are roughly 3.1 years old now. Although in my professional opinion the recommended window for replacing computer hardware is 3 to 4 years, I have been asked to stretch that out to longer. Indeed, when I first arrived, the office was running very inefficiently on equipment that was 5 years old or older. Even today, we have some HP LaserJet 5 printers that are still wobbling along at 10+ years old. Fortunately, the Dells we bought 3 years ago are, for the most part, very well made, and I keep Windows XP very clean of software junk startup items (*cough* QuickTime Task *cough* Real—nobody wants your spam—*cough* SunJavaUpdateSched *cough* Adobe Reader Speed Launch) and always automatically updated with Microsoft. As time passes, however, anti-virus and anti-spyware software takes up more and more memory, so I think we're now to the point where I wouldn't buy a Windows computer with less than 512 MB of RAM. I'd probably set my minimum at 512 MB and preferred at 768 MB or more. Completed Kevin's Student Computing Priorities survey. Spent the day updating the student database on the web project. It's been a very productive day. Reviewed password security web pages. My pal Tony An has some great photos of the new de Young museum. To find his Xanga site, search Google on ynotswim. Lunch at home with Patrick: I made homemade shrimp fried rice with vegetables. Dinner at home by myself: leftover fried rice. Watched Rick Steves (Provence). Watched Simpsons (Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Children of a Lesser Clod) with Patrick.

Thu 3

Breakfast: a banana, eggs, sausage. Installed PharmAdMIT for Timmy, set him up with a password manager. Updated web calendars. Linkchecking. Verified that the admissions pages were automatically saying the right thing since our deadline for admissions was November 1. Lots of digital housekeeping. Joel and I got our flu shots today. The hardest part was finding the location for it. Afterwards on our way back to the office, we saw a wagon with three letter-sized sheets of paper taped to it saying FLU SHOTS --> but we didn't notice it at all on our way in. I suggested to Joel an inflated giant hypodermic needle lit from the inside instead but I don't know if anyone makes such a thing. Lunch: a banana from home, a large salad from the cafeteria. I had had a doctor appointment today but it got cancelled, so I decided to use the time to fortuitously shop my car around a few repair shops. I need the car for the weekend, so I knew I didn't want to leave it at a shop just yet. Just getting estimates for now. So far it would be between $2000 and $3000 if I were to pay for it myself, but both shops I spoke with today recommended I call my insurance company and talk to them. I am reluctant to file a claim because I suspect it will make my insurance rates go up. Since it's a hit-and-run claim, the insurance company has no guilty party from which to collect. One place said it shouldn't make my rates go up. Another wasn't sure when he found out it was hit-and-run. Home. Shopped online. Worked on graphics for Joel's secret blog. Figured out that Tennessee Orange seems to be Pantone Orange 021 U. Rain late tonight. Patrick spent the evening visiting with Aaron.

Fri 4

Breakfast: a banana. Met with Susie and Cindy about next steps for the video of a recent lecture they want to put online. We agreed the prep would be done out of house. (Why does no one say out-house as the opposite of in-house?) Betty-ann, Chris, Cindy, Joel, James, Susie, and I watched a (different) video Susie obtained called "Pharmacists: Unsung Heroes" which was created by public television station WLIW in New York. The video describes the job that pharmacists do, and the title refers to how pharmacists are often overlooked as a critical component of health care. The video includes many people from UCSF. It referred to the PharmD degree program as a 6-year program which seemed strange to me but I learned today that a six-year program is more common on the east coast of the United States. On the US west coast, a 4-year program is more common, and our program at UCSF is 4 years (or slightly under, depending on whom you ask). Helped Heather (via Joel) figure out what to do with the Outlook Express error message "Message is no longer available on the server." (Answer: Search Google.) Late lunch with Joel: we both had fish and chips from the cafeteria. Met with student KB—anti-virus questions. Dinner with Patrick at Pasta Pomodoro (415-566-0900, 816 Irving Street, cross street 9th, MUNI: N-Judah, 44, 71). I'm a member of the Pasta Pomodoro club—you can sign up at any restaurant—and they'll rather infrequently (a good thing) send you news and offers in the mail. I don't join many clubs, but this one I'm satisfied with because the food and service of Pasta Pomodoro is so consistently good. Recently, the offer they sent was for two free truffle desserts: "As a valued member of my email club, I would like to invite you to come in and taste my new dessert. I have just put the finishing touches on a new truffle, a rich and creamy treat made with cocoa, rum and bits of biscotti rolled in cocoa powder and served with sweet marscarpone cream. Please print and present this offer to your server, and you will receive: One Free Truffle Dessert per person at your table." The truffle was delicious, but I personally prefer the tiramisu better. We learned, however, that the truffle's price was only $1.75—very reasonable for what we received. Upon learning the price, we decided we would indeed order it again. Our entire bill before tip was $27.34—I had forgotten how reasonably priced a dinner can be at Pasta Pomodoro. We had: two iced teas, we shared an insalata di biete (beet salad), I had ravioli di magro (large ricotta and spinach ravioli in pomodoro sauce), Patrick had healthy fish (spaghetti with salmon). When we ordered dessert, we were told that they only had 3 left and asked us if we would order a different dessert in the place of one of them—also free. We happily agreed because it enabled us to try a different dessert. We opted for the crostata amaretti, which we liked better than the truffle. Small, round amaretti cookies are baked in a tart along with a layer of custard. A slice is served atop the sweet and smooth mascarpone cream. The sweet almond flavor is striking, and it brings a smile to the face. Patrick thought the almond flavor could be stronger, but I thought it was just right. (Almond is one of his favorite flavors, so maybe that's why.) The truffle is not on the menu—they're field testing it, but I imagine if you ask sweetly and bat your eyelashes you might be able to convince them to let you try it. The crostata appeared on a tableside specials card instead of the menu—visit soon if you want to try that one. Our server was Brielle who was great. We sat at table 28/1 in the center front section between two families with young children. Patrick didn't like how one parent permitted her child to crawl along the top of the banquette, but otherwise the kids were quiet and well-behaved. I found a recipe for "Custard-Filled Crostata with Amaretti" on foodandwine.com, but their website says, "Recipes are only available to Food & Wine magazine subscribers and newsstand buyers" but I found a workaround anyhow—they aren't hiding their content very securely.

Sat 5

Patrick helped Sam yesterday with a term paper. I did shopping research for a digital camera. Lunch: Patrick had leftover spaghetti. I had tortelloni with red sauce (but not leftover). Napped. Patrick and I went to Remi's for a karaoke party, which was fun like last time but not as many people. Before we arrived, we stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some drinks and party food and a sandwich for me because I was really hungry. Remi organized a group order of Chinese food, too. Galen returned our copy of Baraka on DVD and my copy of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and apologized for having kept it for so long. He let us borrow some techno music he thought we'd like, too.

Sun 6

Breakfast: ramen noodles. Napped. Patrick and I drove to Berkeley for a Cal Performances performance by the Beijing People's Art Theatre of The Teahouse by Lao She. The play is described as "a masterpiece of world drama in which 65 distinct characters converge on a traditional teahouse as they make their way through three generations of modern Chinese history." This is the first Chinese theater company to tour internationally. It is performed entirely in Mandarin with English supertitles projected above the stage (with Windows 98!). The performance was outstanding, and I'll remember in particular the opening scene which was filled with so much activity that for a few seconds I forgot to look above to "hear" the dialogue that was taking place. The play is told in three acts which show the teahouse scenes in 1898, 1918, and 1948. An intermission occurs after Act 2. For me, the best thing about this play was seeing history come alive in the stories and lives of the characters. The company received a standing ovation at the end which lasted for many minutes. This evening I met for the first time Patrick's martial arts instructor, Simmone, who also attended the play with Rhonda, one of her other students. Simmone is just as I had imagined and gathered from Patrick's descriptions of her interactions with her. It was a pleasure to finally meet her. Dinner with Mom Ryan and Patrick at Eric's Restaurant (415-282-0919, 1500 Church Street). Combination platter for 3 (crab rangoon, egg rolls, potstickers, drums of heaven, shrimp chips), sesame chicken, Eric's chow mein, assorted vegetables with prawns, Hunan fish (not spicy), steamed rice. Mom Ryan's fortune: You are capable of extremely hard work and dedication. Patrick's fortune: You are very persistent in pursuing your goals in life. My fortune: Use your charm and personality to your advantage. All the dishes were excellent, and service was attentive, as usual. We had plenty of leftovers to take home. Dinner was $56.90 after an $8.25 tip. After dinner Patrick and I attempted to hang some decorative banners for her in her apartment but we were missing some tools we required, so we decided to try again another time. Mom Ryan's apartment is just about all set up. She received her coffee table and has lots of photos and artwork on the walls.

Mon 7

Met with Lucia for InDesign training and working with schedules. Met with Susie. She had new updates for the faculty listing for me, and we talked about web video production. Scanned a document for Cindy. Experimented with an Exchange calendar to distribute our class schedule information. Lunch: salad from the cafeteria. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers from Eric's.

Tue 8

Met with Cindy. Staff meeting. Got Kristina's e-mail account to forward to Cindy again. Worked on schedules and InDesign training with Lucia. Dealt with requests about itsa to Exchange e-mail migration coming from students which I don't serve; redirected them. Lunch: cafeteria: Greek lemon chicken soup, small salad. I burned my hand while pouring the self-service soup into the small styrofoam container - wah! No more self-service soup for me after today. The burning stung for hours afterward. Dinner at home with Patrick: he made pennette with sausage in red sauce but the sausage was spicy even though when he asked at Tower Market if the sausage was spicy the man behind the meat counter told him no. I made leftovers from Eric's instead for me. Voted. Grocery shopping at Safeway on Taraval where the checkout area smelled like cigarette smoke the entire time we were there. I instantly got a mild headache even though I pinched my nose the whole time we checked out. It was such an unpleasant experience I might never go back.

Wed 9

Woke up at 4 AM with a sore throat, couldn't sleep. Drank lots of hot water. Back to bed at 6:41 AM. I asked Patrick to wake me up before he go-goes. Faculty web page updates for Susie. Checked in with Julie about the secure server project—it's still a priority on her to-do list. Backed up the student directory project files to CD-ROM. Reconfigured Google Desktop Search for Chris to no longer index his BounceBack backup drives. Restored Bluetooth functionality for Chris. Attempted to restore Java functionality in IE for Chris (failed, but it works in Firefox). Restored password databases and shortcut icons for Chris. Lunch: cafeteria salad. Dinner at home by myself: beef stroganoff, corn off the cob, bread and butter. I found this Panda Express fortune in my pocket the other day. I don't know from when it was. "Many opportunities are open to you. Seek them out."

Thu 10

Late last night I bought a new digital camera for my birthday. The last digicam I had was one of the first models of digital camera—a Ricoh RDC-4200 which didn't take very good pictures. The next digicam I have a lot of experience with is the Canon PowerShot G2 which I bought for our office in 2000. It takes very good pictures except it's a little hard getting good macro shots with indoor lighting—if you use the flash it overexposes, if you don't your photos come out too blurry to be very useful. The new digicam I chose is the Canon PowerShot A610 which I selected because I couldn't find any reviews that said anything bad about it that I thought would be problematic for me. On the whole, it seemed to be praised everywhere I looked. It's a lot less expensive than the G6 but with many of the same features. Since I'm familiar with the G2, the interface learning curve will be very small. I also bought some new AA 2500 mAh batteries—the last time I bought batteries a few years ago I got 1800s and I'm surprised that the technology is changing so quickly. Now to find a high-speed SD card to go with it... Patrick cooked my favorite breakfast for me—deluxe style. It was too much to eat! Tina called just before I left for work to send birthday greetings. I chatted with my sister at work to get ideas for gifts for my nephew Jeremy's birthday coming up. The office held a small birthday party for me: Cindy, Lucia, Ena, James, and Timmy. We had Lucia's lemon blueberry pound cake and chocolate chip cookies, James's frosted banana nut bread, Cindy's variety of scones from Arizmendi Bakery, and orange and berry juices from Joel. Met with student JL whose laptop refused to connect to the network either via wired or wireless. I spent several hours with his computer and I'm not sure exactly how I fixed it because I was going back and forth between normal mode and safe mode a lot. In Safe Mode With Networking, TCP/IP worked, but in normal mode, it wouldn't work. Sometimes I'd get a valid IP address but it just wouldn't connect to anything, other times I got 0.0.0.0 or a 169.254 address with no connection. The Program Files folder had incorrect permissions on it, so I fixed those. I reregistered some system DLLs. Chatted with Don Don online who says happy birthday. He and Jenna are expecting a baby in May! Dinner: Patrick took me out to dinner for my birthday. He didn't tell me where we were going, so it was a surprise. We rode bus 43 from 9th and Judah for a long time before getting out in the area where the Fillmore meets the Marina. We stopped in front of 3127 Fillmore Street, where we entered PlumpJack Cafe (415-563-4755). The dining room is surprisingly small, but more cozy rather than crowded, and tastefully designed, with a coat of arms and flags-hanging-from-curtain-rods theme detailed throughout. We started with Pelligrino sparkling mineral water ($7) and bread and butter. Not long after Patrick selected a bottle from the 21-page wine list, the wine arrived—a half bottle of Chateau Monbousquet Grand Cru 1999 Saint-Emilion ($70). Next was an amuse of cauliflower soup topped with chives, compliments of the chef. It was served in a small, white tea cup with saucer. Tasty. Appetizers: ahi tartare cones (yellow fin tuna, hijake, chives, sesame, jalapeño-ponzu gelee, yuzu crème, wasabi tobiko, $13.00) and dungeness crab duet (fresh dungeness crab arancinis, sherried crab bisque, $13.00). Main courses: For Patrick: grilled "premium Hereford" filet (wild mushroom stuffed artichoke heart, truffled mac n cheese, caramelized shallot-red wine sauce, $34.00), for me: seared sea scallops (roasted baby pumpkin stuffed with butternut squash risotto, pumpkin seed and sage brown butter, meyer lemon, $32.00). Patrick and I shared both appetizers. The ahi tartare cones are fantastic! They're served in a towering polished wire holder (see plumpjack.com for a photo). The cones themselves are like sugar-ice-cream-cone-shaped egg rolls stuffed with fancy sashimi. We thought at first I wouldn't be able to each them because of the jalapeño and wasabi, but it seemed hardly spicy at all. The ahi and gelee are diced tiny, and the cones are topped with the yuzu followed by the tobiko. On Patrick's second bite, he said, "I could eat 12 of these." They're that good. The crab duet was also delightful. The bisque was a little spicy, so I only had a few spoonfuls, but Patrick finished it off easily. I didn't know what an arancini was (it's an Italian rice ball), but these arancinis seemed like spherical crab cakes. They had an herby aroma which we enjoyed and couldn't place. I noticed Patrick doing the same thing I was doing while eating them—while holding a bite in your mouth, then inhale deeply. The herbs from the food are picked up and fed right into your nostrils—a pleasant sensation. Entrees: Neither Patrick nor I knew what "Hereford" meant, but we presumed it was good. (According to Merriam-Webster: any of a breed of hardy red-coated beef cattle of English origin with white faces and markings.) His filet was cooked exactly as ordered (medium) and extremely tender. I was very happy with the plate of scallops and risotto I received. We waited an unusually long amount of time between the entrees and dessert, at which point I asked Patrick if Tina had something to do with our dessert. As it turns out, I was right. When the dessert finally arrived, our server announced that it was compliments of Chef Tina Luu. One plate was a slice of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream—a single candle burning. The other was a glass block which looked like it could also be used as a tealight holder with indentions for 3 rows of 3 tealights. Each space was occupied by a small scoop of ice cream or sorbet, so there were 9 flavors to sample. Burnt caramel ice cream with caramel sauce, white cardamom ice cream, raspberry sorbet, strawberry sorbet, vanilla bean ice cream topped with honey-coated granola, Meyer lemon sorbet, chocolate ice cream. (Patrick will help me fill in the rest later.) We had very full and satisfied stomachs when we left. A lady cab driver drove us home (about $25 after a $5 tip). I opened presents: my brother had sent a small, 6-bottle case of wine from Blackstone Winery where he used to work. Steve M sent me CDs from my Amazon wishlist: Madeleine Peyroux (Careless Love), Prince (1999), and the Kill Bill Volume 1 soundtrack.

Fri 11

The sore throat I've had since Wednesday is still around. Hasn't gotten worse, hasn't gotten better. I thought of calling in sick, but I figured no one would believe I was really sick if I called in on my birthday. I didn't check my home e-mail all day yesterday since I went to dinner right after work, so this morning I found a whole bunch of birthday greetings in my inbox. Archived documents. Cleaned the bathroom. Did some organizing in the closet. Brunch: leftovers. An amusingly worded headline from today's sfgate.com: "Man fatally shot in Tenderloin." For those of you who don't know, the Tenderloin is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco known for its higher rates of crime and general seediness. Patrick found Madonna's new album Confessions on a Dance Floor on mtv.com—you can listen to the whole album before its official release a few days from now. Archived my birthday messages. Sent thank you cards. Dinner at home with Patrick: carnitas (pig) quesadillas with tomato, grilled mushrooms, and cheese. We finally finished off the XO truffles that Melissa gave me a long time ago—the last two were still delicious. Watched recorded TV with Patrick: Simpsons (Bart the Fink) and An Ice Cream Show (KQED, 1996). While purchasing ink jet cartridges on Amazon, they offered, and I accepted, to join Amazon Prime free for 4 months. It gives me free 2-day shipping on all eligible items to the contiguous United States. I set a calendar reminder for March to opt out if I don't want to continue the privilege at $70 per year. I can't help feeling like I've just been bought, but they made the offer in a very friendly way. The thought of free 2-day shipping on most everything at Amazon is a little mind-boggling, though. I'm a little afraid for myself, to be honest! I know Amazon isn't exactly the best friend of Democrats according to BuyBlue.org, but it is for me one of the best sites for shopping. Stayed up late doing research for putting together an emergency preparedness kit.

Sat 12

Breakfast: an orange. Got two more estimates on my car repair. Brunch at home with Patrick: mushroom and tomato and cheese quesadilla. More research for buying emergency preparedness supplies. Dinner at home with Patrick: cabbage soup with ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes, and radishes. Watched Simpsons "Behind the Laughter." Wrote up an outline for our disaster plan.

Sun 13

I am certain I am not the first person to write about this, but here it goes anyway. It's about how websites with community feedback need to be more proactive in weeding out fake feedback. Here's the example I ran into today. On amazon.com, there's a book called Making Instruction Work: Of Skillbloomers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Designing and Developing Instruction That Works (Paperback) by Robert F. Mager. I don't remember why I added this to my wish list, because upon viewing this today I'm not sure I really want it, but it has a 4.5 (out of 5) average star rating from 3 reviewers. People who don't bother to read the reviews (which start more than halfway down the page) are led to believe that this is a great book. Let's look at the feedback. The first review was on October 11, 1999 from an anonymous reviewer who gave it 4 stars. The second review was on June 13, 2000 from Ken Myers of Naperville, Illinois who gave it 5 stars. The third review was on August 29, 2000 from an anonymous reviewer who gave it 5 stars. A link is provided for Ken Myers: "See all my reviews." When you click it, you see that Ken Myers has reviewed 5 other books, all written by the same Robert F. Mager, and all of which he gave 5 stars. Since the other reviewers were anonymous, there is no such "See all my reviews" link for them. Now Ken Myers of Naperville, Illinois might indeed be a true fan of Robert F. Mager's works, but it seems highly suspicious to me that he has 6 five-star reviews of Mager's books and no other reviews, say, of similar books in the same book category. I went back to the first page listing all the reviews. For the first review, 7 of 8 people found the review helpful. For the second, 6 of 6, and for the first, 4 of 4. Indeed, the reviews are written with some thought and are somewhat helpful to helpful. But what Amazon needs now is a way to say "Upon closer inspection, I suspect this review is not genuine" (and why) and make that information publically available alongside the review. I found this same problem while shopping for an emergency radio—many reviews are by people who have only one review within the system. When, on occasion, I encountered someone with even a handful of reviews (like 5), I trusted that review and reviewer a lot more. I wonder how people would react if Amazon decided one day to change how it displays reviews. For example, if one hasn't written at least one review per year since opening an account, Amazon could simply not display any of your reviews. Or one has to review at least 3 books by different writers within the same book category. Or it could implement different or more stringent requirements. Anything to encourage people to have better reputations. Chatted with Steve M, who told me about mturk.com where he says he made about 2.50 USD for an hour's worth of work. Still, Amazon Mechanical Turk is an interesting concept, I think. Errands in the Castro. Patrick ordered the 20-pound (!) turkey he's going to cook for Thanksgiving from Buffalo Foods. I went to Cliff's hardware to pick up parts for the last shelf in the closet shelf project as well as some hardware for hanging Mom Ryan's decorative banners from Ikea later today. Stopped at Mom Ryan's. She gave me a bag of chocolate covered cherries as a late birthday present. She also gave me and Patrick each a Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream bar. Patrick ate his at her place. I saved mine until later. We talked about earthquake and disaster preparedness. We hung up the Ikea banners. The hardest part was that our wire cutters weren't industrial strength, so it took us a while to cut the wire to the length we wanted. When I get my new digicam I'll take a photo and post it somewhere. Dinner with Mom Ryan and Patrick at Blue: Mom Ryan had decaf coffee, lentil soup, chicken breast plate (with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans), Patrick had iced tea, lentil soup, mac and cheese with chicken, I had hot chocolate, salad in a bowl (which, oddly, came on a plate), and chicken pot pie. Dinner was great, Cathleen was our server, reliably efficient and pleasant, as usual. They have some new servers I haven't seen before. One was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans and looked exactly like a Tom of Finland drawing. In fact, it's pretty common to see Tom of Finland men just walking around the Castro or, even more likely, at the intersection of 18th and Castro. At 10:08 PM Pacific time, rei.com is down!

Mon 14

Breakfast: lemon blueberry pound cake leftover from last week's office birthday party. Finished troubleshooting JL's computer, finally got everything working after resolving some permissions problems on root folders and doing a clean manual uninstall of Zone Alarm. Worked with Lucia on schedules. I think she's getting the hang of them. Late lunch: cheddar cheeseburger, fries. Minor web updates. Installed RAM upgrades for Joel's and Timmy's computers. Defrag and scandisk for Joel's computer. Linkchecking. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover soup, white garlic marinated chicken boobs. Pick up cough medicine and soap from Walgreens. Watched Simpsons: Burn, Baby, Burns.

Tue 15

Breakfast: a banana, orange juice. Student Computing Committee meeting. Sean S guest stars, and I meet him for the first time. Posted winter draft schedules. Installed HTML email templates for Sarah. New homepage news story for Susie. Met with student KB about building a website. There are still problems with page refreshes not appearing as expected in a timely manner. We'd make a change in Dreamweaver, upload the file, it looks fine on the server at the shell prompt, but the correct page is not always served. Problem happens in multiple browsers, on multiple computers, in multiple subnets. Problem happens even if IE is set to check for newer versions of stored pages on every visit to the page. The changes will show up a few minutes later, but this is not practical for web development. Free disk space in our partition on the server is at 5%, but I don't think that's the problem. There must be some kind of proxy somewhere. Lunch: panda bowl from Panda Express with chow mein, vegetables, orange chicken. My fortune: You will do well to expand your horizons. Recently I added clubfly.com and weatherbonk.com to my bookmarks page. I found the links from an article in sfgate.com about mash-ups—websites that take data from different sources and combine them in new and interesting ways. Club Fly is useful to gay nightclubbers, and neither Patrick nor I go out much any more, but I still submitted Eight (Club Dragon), which was missing from their list. The site owner, Kerry Tucker, added the listing within a few hours. How's that for service? If anyone is interested in adding other unlisted locations or reviews, Kerry says to have at it. Weather Bonk is particularly great for San Francisco because SF has so many microclimates which are constantly changing. If it's too hot, cross the street to the shady side and if it's not perfectly comfortable, you'll be freezing. Walk a few blocks and it all changes again. The mash-up I'd really like to see is Google Maps crossed with Weather Bonk crossed with airline ticket prices so that you can see, for example, the cheapest path to 80-degree weather. Some mash-ups are still experimental and don't work perfectly, such as the one which crosses Gas Buddy with Google Maps and another (same author) which crosses movie theaters and showtimes with Google Maps. I think Google Maps has been a popular mash-up ingredient because location is often everything, but it's certainly not the first web API around. Why haven't we seen the same kind of enthusiasm for Amazon's API? I don't know. Maybe it's a licensing issue? Mom Ryan had a difficult day, so Patrick took off in the afternoon to talk with her. Dinner at home by myself: chunky soup: vegetable cow, with oyster crackers. Shopped online for flashlights. Learned what tritium was in relation to glow sticks. I am already familiar with tritium although I don't recall knowing its name before. The alarm clock I have has tritium painted on the clock hands, and I've been very happy with it. I read on BBC news today that China plans to vaccinate 14 billion poultry to combat the spread of bird flu. To accomplish this goal, they are producing 100 million doses of vaccine per day. Incredible!

Wed 16

Breakfast at home: half-bagel with cream cheese, pancakes. Updated an admissions web page for James. Interviews #1 and #2 for our pathway position. Linkchecking. Updated recently posted news story for Susie. Our landlord Norita called me today to ask us to move out of our apartment by January 1. I didn't say okay right away but said that we'd see if our schedules could accommodate that. We are on month-to-month, so I'll have to check our rental agreement, but I think it's legal for her to ask that we move out. In the elevator on the way to lunch, I saw one construction worker hand two new cigarettes to another construction worker. He said with a smile, "And you take care of your health!" Lunch: chicken quesadilla from the cafeteria. This quesadilla is so huge I usually have to throw half of it away. Today Joel asked me to search Google News for news about the UC Regents decisions about student fees which were taking place today. I was dubious we would find something easily, but we found a little snippet of headline that said, "BREAKING NEWS 1:45 pm UC regents raise fees again Santa Barbara News-Press (subscription)." The page at Santa Barbara News Press required registration, but I worked around that pretty easily by turning Javascript off with the Firefox Web Developer Toolbar. We learned that the regents voted 17 to 2 in favor of raising fees for the 5th year in a row. Reconfigured backups. For some reason within the past 3 days the backup tapes now fill up the entire tape instead of being only about 50% full after a complete full backup. Not sure why just yet. Burned some large filesize and unlikely to be used again documents to CD-ROM so that they wouldn't take up space on our backup tapes. Today it took me an hour and 15 minutes to get home by MUNI. I left work at 7:15 PM, walked to 9th and Judah by 7:30 PM but the 7:30 PM bus did not show up. At 7:45 PM I caught a bus 44 to Forest Hill. When I arrived, the monitor said an L train was arriving in 15 minutes. I went in to the tunnel and waited. While I waited, a K train passed. A few minutes later, another K train passed. A few minutes later, another K train passed. A few minutes later, an M train passed. Finally the L train arrived. It was only one car and it was packed. The announcements said that another L train—two cars—was only 5 minutes after this one, so I decide to wait for it. The crowded train let off a few people and took on a few more people (still packed) and left. After a few minutes, an announcement said that the next train was going out of service—do not board. The 2-car L train I was waiting for passed without taking on passengers. I waited a few minutes more and another L train showed up. This one was two cars and not packed. I got on and rode through West Portal station and down Taraval. However, at 22nd Street, the driver announced that this train was turning around and that all passengers were to deboard. I got off and walked 2 blocks. Another L train showed up, and luckily I caught it at the stop and rode from 24th to 30th. Days like this make me want to get in my car and drive to nowhere in particular just to spite the broken concept of successful mass transit in San Francisco. Google Maps says the driving distance from my work to my home is 3.3 miles and takes about 8 minutes. In contrast, my MUNI trip today took 75 minutes, or about 9 times longer. It made me realize that I need to do something drastic about this like move within walking distance to work or get a bicycle or something. MUNI doesn't deserve the $45 per month I'm giving them to provide poor service. And I still haven't heard a word from Supervisor Fiona Ma after I sent her a letter complaining about the problems with bus 66. Grrrr! GRRRRRRRR! Removed the Katrina web page from frankfarm.org—we no longer needed it. Archived documents.

Thu 17

Breakfast at home: pancakes and sausage. Work. Checked on the fix I put in yesterday for the backups problem—it worked. Backups are again taking up only half of our backup tape. Made live some news story edits for Susie. Interview #3 for our pathway position. Figured out with Chris De Lay's help whether I should upgrade memory in the G4 I have at work or buy a new Mac. Answer: buy a new Mac. Some late birthday presents arrived today—I'll open them tonight at dinner with Patrick. Lunch: takeout from the cafeteria: roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sage dressing, carrot slices. Did account setup for our new pathway assistant. The birthday present I ordered for myself arrived today also! Hooray! We also received some special household cleaner called Bar Keeper's Friend. I ordered it from a supermarket in New York called Gristedes since we could not find it in any grocery or hardware stores around us. Isn't that crazy? Created a checklist of things that need to be done when a new employee is hired. Put together an instruction sheet for office staff about how to use the HTML e-mail letterhead templates and Microsoft Word letterhead templates I created, gave it to Cindy for review. Dinner at Pasta Pomodoro Castro (415-558-8123, 2304 Market Street) with Patrick. It's the last day we can use my coupon for a free entree via the Pasta Pomodoro club. You tell them the month and day of your birthday and they send you a coupon for a free entree about a week before, and it's good for two weeks. We started with butternut squash ravioli, Patrick had iced tea and grilled chicken boob with portabello, I had a latte and ribeye (bistecca gorgonzola). I was not fond of the ribeye. It's possible to get good cuts of ribeye, but this was not one of them—fattier and gristlier than I expected, even for ribeye. We've both been tired by recent events, so I did not care about complaining. And just fyi, they give you the most (or more) expensive entree free—just as you'd hope. Our server was Eva who wasn't exactly speedy but we tipped her well anyway. Two days ago Patrick went over to his mom's place in the evening to help her through some problems she's been having with getting her son Kerry to move her stuff out of her old apartment. She also had problems with her medical insurance she needs to figure out. Over dinner, I unwrapped the birthday presents that Chris and Nate sent me. One is The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. The other is The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Thanks, Chris and Nate! I don't remember how exactly these two books made it on my Amazon wish list, but they did, and I think I will enjoy them. After dinner, we went to a Chloe Atkins photo salon at the San Francisco Photography Center (415-554-9522, 50 Scott at Duboce). Our friend Jenny Sampson is in the show—Go Jenny! The show also included Lynnly Labovitz and Shiloh Burton. Each had a slideshow and talked about her photos and working styles. Patrick and I both enjoyed seeing the works of these women and hearing the discussion afterwards. When we left, I felt more cultured than before. We got home late and almost immediately went to sleep.

Fri 18

Interactions with strangers: I forgot to mention on the 16th that while I was in the Forest Hill station a man and woman speaking a language I couldn't identify (but would guess Italian) asked me for directions to 5th Avenue via bus 43 and I helped them out. And last night at Market and Noe Street, a man praised the wisdom of my using a flashlight at night to increase visibility while crossing the street. I told him that I especially use it while walking to Market from Duboce Park, but I didn't tell him that the real hazard is dog poop on the sidewalks, not muggers or cars running down pedestrians in the crosswalk crossing when the White Man says it's okay. Breakfast: bagel and cream cheese at home. Started reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. After 15 pages of reading, I found that it is immediately reminiscent of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Met with Susie. She authorized me to purchase a new Mac Mini to replace the five-year-old digital audio G4 I have. I got the base model but with 1 GB of RAM. Met with student CHK about getting VPN working. Met with drop-in student NB about a laptop hardware problem. Helped Cindy with problems setting up her out of office e-mail auto-reply notice. Did more setup for our new pathway assistant's computer. Coded a new news story for Susie. Lunch: Panda Bowl with cow and broccoli from Panda Express. My fortune: Health and happiness are coming your way. Dinner at home with Patrick: penne with chicken in alfredo. Watched Harry Potter 3 on DVD with Patrick. Patrick has to wake up early, so we went to sleep early. For a few months now Patrick has been waking up at 4:30 AM to practice martial arts. I can't remember if I wrote about this before, so here it is again just in case. He practices the stick, which is a bamboo pole about 8 feet long. Its exterior is sanded smooth, then coated with the powder of babies during practice. Patrick wants me to take photos of him practicing with our brand new digicam. Maybe we can put up a movie or two as well.

Sat 19

Had trouble sleeping due to the cough and phlegm which still remains since I first got a sore throat last week. Woke up just before 4 AM. The phlegm is coming out easier now. I've been patient this past week feeding my body expectorant and lots of hot water like one feeds tokens into a slot machine, but until recently I've been getting such poor results. The phlegm blobs are coming out like a jackpot now, but the coins aren't exactly what you'd call golden. I took a few test photos with the new camera. It's much lighter and faster than the PowerShot G2. Grocery shopping at Safevay. Patrick took a nap in the afternoon. Lunch: caesar salad. Dinner: I made pasta with tomato garlic sauce and alfredo sauce. Watched Harry Potter 3 extras.

Sun 20

Cut my hair. Showered. Napped. Patrick cooked my favorite breakfast for me. Mom Ryan arrived. She and Patrick did a lot of cleaning in the apartment. I did work for Corinna: website mockups. Lunch: canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. We took Mom Ryan home. Dropped off the Harry Potter 3 DVD at the video rental store. Tower Market for additional groceries. Patrick painted a painting of a phoenix in two hours. Added Google Maps Mania to my bookmarks page. We were thinking of seeing Harry Potter 4 this evening, but we stayed home instead.

Mon 21

Stayed home from work today because of a problem with my foot. My heel has been numb for the past 4 days. There's a very small amount of pain when I put weight on it. The numbness persists even without any weight on it. It's the same side as the patellofemoral pain I've had in the past, so I'm worried that it's related. Haven't had any pain in the knee lately, so I thought that was getting better. I went to the doctor who said that the numbness should go away in a few days on its own. I don't enjoy going to doctors, especially those that hold the attitude that they know my body better than I do, and that was the case with the one I had today. I believe that both doctor and patient bring different kinds of knowledge, but too often the doctor doesn't do enough listening. Saw Harry Potter 4 with Patrick. We liked it.

Tue 22

Met with student LT - laptop problems. Met with drop-in student MB - laptop problems. Both students seemed to have problems caused by a spyware threat called Apropos.C. Lunch from the cafeteria: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn off the cob, roll and butter. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers and pizza.

Wed 23

Met with student LE - laptop problems. Lunch from the cafeteria: swedish meatballs with noodles, corn off the cob, dinner roll and butter. Coded licensure pages for Cindy. Home. Played with the new camera—it works surprisingly well. Dinner at home with Patrick and Mom Ryan: pizza.

Thu 24

Spent the whole day preparing for Thanksgiving. This year, Patrick and I had his mom and a bunch of our friends over for a feast. The menu: Southern Biscuits, Shrimp-Stuffed Merlitons, Good Luck Black-Eyed Peas, Stewed Okra, Boiled Corn on the Cob, Maple-Glazed Yams, Bourbon Glazed Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing, Southern Pecan Pie, Mamere's Bread Pudding with Creole Hard Sauce, Tangy Cranberry-Tangerine Relish. Patrick had started cooking 5 days ago. Mom Ryan came over yesterday and assisted with the cooking. I rented a 6-foot table and 6 chairs and was a little surprised that it all fit in my little car (with no other passengers). I rented from Abbey Party Rents (415-715-6900, 411 Allan St near Geneva), which was a bit of a long drive and in a neighborhood in which I didn't feel that comfortable, but the pick-up and drop-off was both fast and easy. In attendance: Peter, Galen, Remi, Jesse, Yan Hui, Phil, Danny, Drew, Hao, Tony, Mom Ryan, Patrick, and me. Perhaps even more amazingly, that table and chairs all fit into our front room, which we informally referred to on occasion as "living room #1." Everything was tight, but we all fit for a buffet-with-seating dinner. We don't remember what everyone brought because we were concentrating on getting dinner ready, but here's what we remember (corrections gratefully accepted): Hao brought a dracaena bonsai, Tony brought a bouquet of flowers, Remi and Jesse brought chianti and raspberry rum (Bacardi Razz), Galen and Peter brought an Anselmann Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese dessert wine and (a 2004 Marqués de Cáceres dry rose rioja?). ? brought a 2003 Smoking Loon merlot. ? brought a Foxhorn merlot. Yan Hui brought a 2002 Santa Ema merlot. Mom Ryan got plenty of laughs with her pecans joke, and everyone was interested in the stories she had to tell about all the jobs she has held in her 71 years of life.

Fri 25

Party cleanup. Chris and Nate arrive—I haven't seen these guys in ages, and it's wonderful to see them again. Lunch: La Mediterranee. Driving tour of SF neighborhoods since they're looking to move here: Noe Valley, Mission, Cole Valley, Parnassus Heights. Stopped at UCSF to show them where I work. Home. Hang out and chat. Dinner: leftovers from last night.

Sat 26

Breakfast with Nate and Chris: yogurt, banana, cereal, raisins. We drove to Golden Gate Park and stopped at the windmill and Queen Wilhelmina's garden to take some photos. We had lunch at Beach Chalet (415-386-8439, 1000 Great Highway). Nate had the spinach salad. Chris had a burger and fries. I had a crab louis salad. Fries for the table. Stopped at the beach so that Chris could take a picture of a shopping cart that had errantly ended up in the middle of the sand. Drove through Golden Gate Park to Noe Valley where we walked around the shops on 24th. Drove to Hayes Valley to see the new Octavia development and the GLBT Center. Drove through the Haight to the Castro. Stopped in at Peet's for coffee. Ran in to Tony Q at Bearbucks, chatted with him for a few minutes. Drove to Berkeley and showed Chris and Nate the 4th Street shopping district. Visited Jen C at her place in El Cerrito. I haven't seen her in years, and we hadn't been in touch lately. She moved to the Bay Area about 3 years ago and is now working as a city planner for the city of El Cerrito. She took us to dinner at Picante, a popular Mexican restaurant. We chatted for hours catching up on each others' lives.

Sun 27

Morning coffee at home with Patrick, Chris, and Nate. Tried to go to Ton Kiang for dim sum, but the line was too long. Tried to go to Luna for brunch, but the line was too long. Ended up at Cove Cafe for brunch. Walked and shopped in the Castro. Nate bought a small wooden box to hold tarot cards. Home. Rested and chatted before saying goodbye to Chris and Nate. Napped. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Uploaded Thanksgiving day photos to Ofoto.

Mon 28

Breakfast: yogurt, banana. Alumni e-mail meeting. Late lunch: cheddar cheeseburger, fries, small salad. I forgot to bring leftover turkey to work today to eat for lunch. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers.

Tue 29

Student computing committee meeting. Eric K guest starred. We talked about student orgs e-mail, listserv, website, and file storage needs. We also talked about calendaring. Staff meeting. Lunch: salad from the cafeteria. I forgot to eat the turkey I brought from home today. Lots of preparing for my vacation. Tested Skype 1.4.0.84 with Chris. It is a lot slicker than the last time I used it last year. Very impressive. Sound quality was surprisingly good even through our laptop's built-in microphone, and there was no noticeable lag time. Dinner at home by myself: leftover turkey and yams. Archived documents. Watched Seven Swords on DVD with Patrick.

Wed 30

Breakfast: a banana. Worked on schedules with Lucia. She's getting to be a real pro at InDesign now. Made dupes of the ergonomics CD-ROM that disability management sent us. The Mac Mini to replace my old G4 arrived today! Hooray! Linkchecking. Minor updates to the current students calendar and news. Deployed a new USB drive. Started setting up the Mac Mini. Realized I don't have the right cables for hooking up to my KVM, so placed an order with Cyberguys along with a few other items our office needed. Susie and I met with Harold Mann of Mann Consulting to ask questions about taking raw video content to the web. Harold was very helpful and a clear communicator. Today Chris and I tested Skype-to-Polycom and then Skype-to-Skype in a conference room for a forthcoming meeting while he'll be in Asia. We were surprised to find that the Skype-to-Skpye sound quality was significantly better than Skype-to-Polycom (using SkypeOut). On his end he was using headphones and a microphone, and on the conference room end I was using just the laptop's built-in speaker and microphone. We are very pleased with Skype's performance in this test.