March 2006

Summary: Visit with the Honmas; French dinner with Galen, Phil, Drew, and Danny

Dates on this page

Wed Mar 1, 2006

Cereal, banana for breakfast. More student laptop configuration. Forwarded messages accidentally tagged as spam. Chatted with student KH. Handed off the laptop of student TN. Began reinstalling Win XP for another student's laptop. Announced GALEN toolbars on current students news. Lunch: sandwich. Linked to the recently migrated Personnel website for Nancy. Susie and I met with Lynn and Alison from UCTV to discuss UCTV. We invited other communications representatives from other schools to join us. It sounds like UCTV can help us a great deal with some of the video things we want to do. Helped Ena with My Network Places shortcuts. Worked on an HTML e-mail template for Bill's unit. Troubleshooting server problems (CPU problems, reconfiguring backups). On the way home I was so engrossed in reading A Deepness in the Sky that I forgot to ring for my stop. Did dishes. Dinner at home by myself: turkey burgers, fries. Errands: Walgreens for drugs, Safeway for groceries.

Thu Mar 2, 2006

Telecommute day. Spent the day researching Microsoft Vista and IE7 and preparing and delivering heads up notices for appropriate people. I'd like to test Vista but I don't have a spare computer. Coded the new Update from the Dean, added photos provided by Laura. After work, while I was taking the garbage out, a young Asian guy dressed in a suit walked by and said hello. We chatted small talk for a few seconds, he was smiling a lot and said his name was Steven (Stephen?). He then asked me what I was doing on Sunday and would I like to join him at church? I told him that church really wasn't my thing, and our conversation ended a few seconds later. I washed the car windshield getting window gunk off that makes the window yucky when the wipers are on. Patrick got home and prepared dinner: whole grain butternut squash and sage fettuccine with grilled corn off the cob and onions. Yum! I started coding RSS for Lodestar. It's coming along, but I need to add some data to the database to make it work like I want. Not a problem, it will just take a few minutes but not tonight. I also realize now I need to find a way to make all the image hues match. There's an easy way to do it, but I don't know what that is just yet. Essentially, I have a bunch of duotones I want to all look similar—like they're all from the same set. How do I do it? Send me e-mail if you know, okay? Otherwise I'll research it on my own. Sent Corinna status and key for previewing her website.

Fri Mar 3, 2006

A few days ago I had said that the home we're in now has the most space of all the places we've lived, but I now think that's incorrect. Our home at 302 Junipero Serra probably had more space; I made the mistake of using square footage figures which weren't complete. Not that it's terribly important to know which place had the most space, but just for the record. In planning for the eventual (?) scenario of me using Mac computers for everything (!), I started learning to use more keyboard shortcuts for OS X than Command+Tab. Apple has come a long way since OS 9 with respect to keyboard accessibility, and Apple's dearth of keyboard shortcuts has long been one reason why I hadn't taken its operating systems seriously for a long time. Sure, Apple immortalized Ctrl+{ZXCV} for Undo, Cut, Copy, and Paste, but as far as I know you still can't use the keyboard to resize a window in OS X—and this is still true more than 15 years after Microsoft first introduced it in Windows 3.1. One of the first things I did when I got my Mac Mini was swap the locations of the Command and Option keys. This feels more correct to me than the default configuration in Tiger 10.4, especially with things like Alt+Tab (aka Command+Tab). Today I learned that Ctrl+F1 turns on "full keyboard access" and Ctrl+F2 puts focus on the Apple menu in the menu bar (but it doesn't open it—you have to press the down arrow, which is very inconvenient). This decision—to not have full keyboard access on by default—to me is a little like Microsoft deciding to leave ClearType off by default for Windows XP, but I'm guessing the Apple gurus have a good reason for keeping it off by default. (Why must there be two modes?) The behavior of Ctrl+F2 is particularly irrational because there's no reason why the Apple menu couldn't automatically be opened when you press Ctrl+F2. Focus could still be on the Apple menu bar item, but the menu could at least be displayed so you can see your options immediately without an additional keystroke. Ctrl+F2 followed by Right Arrow could (should) display the Program menu item dropped down but with focus still on the Program item (e.g., Finder). Indeed, if someone has pressed Ctrl+F2, he or she is going to need to see a menu drop down at some point to get any good out of that action. Why force an extra keypress every time? Maybe this is a screen reader issue. But even if Apple were to change that behavior, Microsoft still has the advantage of being a single keypress (Windows key) with a strong finger (left or right thumb) instead of OS X's two-keypress combination (Ctrl+F2) which involves at least one weak finger (either pinky), presuming touch typists, of course. Maybe there's a way I can remap the Windows key on my keyboard to Ctrl+F2 followed by Down Arrow. But then what would I use for the Option key? Erg. Breakfast at home by myself: a banana, some yogurt, some cereal. At work I worked more on and later handed back a fixed laptop for student DES. Another student, TN, bought me a Starbucks gift card and a big bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans, which I will enjoy very much. Poster work for Cindy. Troubleshot problems with Retrospect backup. I forgot that REV was a disk drive instead of a tape drive, so I chose the wrong thing when setting up my backup scripts and Retrospect later then gave an error I couldn't figure out: "No tape backup devices found." Fixed designer access for student KT. Answered a VPN question for student BR. Update from the Dean work for Susie. Answered a question about phishing for student MK. Met briefly with student WO about Idea Box forums. Asked Taylor by e-mail if I can get the Windows Vista beta. Dinner at home with Patrick: slow-braised pig ribs with mini penne in red sauce. Delicious! After dinner, we watched portions of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on DVD.

Sat Mar 4, 2006

I forgot to mention yesterday the clothes I ordered from arrived and I tried them on. These shirts fit correctly in the neck and sleeve (because I was able to select based on specific measurements), but not in the torso or armpit. The green dress shirt I bought from The Gap a few weeks ago fits well in the torso and armpit and sleeve, but not in the neck. Although these shirts from are made of extremely thin material and although they didn't fit perfectly, I decided to keep them because I can probably take them to a tailor to have them fixed. I confirmed that my neck size is 15.5 and my sleeve is 31.5. It will cost me more money, but I'm tired of having clothes that don't fit me. I also got a tie which is sized smaller than most ties. I had ordered #1302G but what Al sent me was #1301H. I didn't complain because I ended up liking #1301H anyhow, but it's weird to me that he got both the number and letter of my tie order incorrect. His site says the tie is 52 inches long and 3.25 inches wide, but the one I received measures 51 x 3.25, which is still fine by me. Breakfast: cereal, yogurt. Home improvement: more velcro work in the bathroom inside the bathroom cabinet and under the sink. Worked on Corinna's website. Napped. Dinner at So with Patrick: So Fish, shrimp dumplings soup, pork chops. We really like the appetizer called So Fish—it's battered and deep fried and coated with a sweet-savory sauce. Patrick wants to learn how to make it so that he can try this fish out in a Chinese poboy of his own invention. The pork chops were good, but not as juicy as the ones Patrick makes. It also felt weird eating pork chops in a Chinese restaurant. (How often is it you go to a Chinese restaurant and the server brings you a fork and steak knife without you asking?) The shrimp dumplings soup was good except that I didn't like that the dumplings fell apart so easily. They tasted good, but I wish they didn't fall apart. Patrick thought they fell apart because the soup was so hot we had to wait a long time before we could eat it and they got overcooked, but they were just as flimsy when it first arrived. We realize this time at So that there is only ever one server on duty. He is always busy doing things and never gets much of a chance to catch his breath or take a break. Despite being overworked, he is extremely efficient and fascinating to watch. We felt sorry for him, and I think Patrick tipped a little extra because of that. Indeed, our tea never got refilled, and we frequently saw people getting up to fill their own water glasses. It's real punishment to make a single server handle 40 or 50 customers, I think. It makes me think poorly of the management at So. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the same server is also the bus boy and the greeter/seater. Errands: Walgreens, Safeway. Changed long distance telephone service providers from ZoneLD to ECG because ZoneLD's customer service people repeatedly ignored some of the questions I would send them. I even warned them I would switch if they didn't answer one question in particular, and they again completely ignored it, so I switched. ECG is less expensive, anyhow, and they made it very painless to switch. Good riddance to ZoneLD! You have failed me for the last time! Today's OS X keyboard shortcuts: F9 shows all open applications at once, F10 does something but I can't tell what, F11 reveals the desktop, F12 opens the dashboard. Also: When Command+Tabbing you can press H on a selected application to hide it or Q to quit it—that's very cool and something that Windows XP doesn't have. I also learned that I need to use Option+Home in Firefox to go to my home page instead of what I expected: Command+Home. I also started using Ctrl+F3 to move focus to the dock. Okay, I figured out F10—show all windows open in an application. This one doesn't seem very useful to me since, for example, Firefox uses tabs instead of new windows, and Text Wrangler opens additional files within the same window, too. Consequently, when you have only one window open in your application, F10 doesn't seem to do much except make the background dimmer. I noticed in Mac Help there's no way to bookmark a particular search results page (such as the page you see after searching on "keyboard shortcuts"), and there's no way to bookmark a particular help page (such as the system keyboard shortcuts page called "Shortcuts for the system"). Hrmph! Our neighbor Melissa found herself locked out this evening, so we helped her get back in in a way that didn't break any laws or windows.

Sun Mar 5, 2006

Sam accidentally saw me naked today because he came over after he and Patrick practiced shao lin and I didn't know he was here so when I got up in the morning to go to the bathroom it was a surprise for everyone. He had been having trouble with his car and needed to take it to the dealer, so we helped him out with a ride to the dealer and then back home. Afterwards, we visited my sister's family. On the drive down, I was feeling tired, so we stopped somewhere around Menlo Park and I took a quick nap. We had lunch at their place. Kiana is crawling already, early at 5 months or so. Jeremy showed off the sweater and cap set we got him for his birthday, and Matthew's favorite expression now is "super awesome." Back at home, Patrick whipped together a pasta salad for me to take to Tony's Oscar party potluck. I tried to help, but he wouldn't let me. He had a term paper to finish, so he couldn't go. After the party, I did a little bit more work on Corinna's website. Chatted with Nate late. Left used packing materials for someone on craigslist to pick up.

Mon Mar 6, 2006

Breakfast at home by myself: cereal, yogurt. Checked on backups. Burned archives to CD-ROM. Troubleshot problems with printers in the IRC lab with Kim. Lunch: sandwich and fruit cup at desk by myself. Met with Cindy. Poster work. Uploaded revised schedules for Lucia. Made live CGE links on the current students page for Cindy. Snack: a banana. Added a link to the graduation section from the PharmD home page for Chris. Updated current student news. Met briefly with Susie—her water heater at home exploded, so we rescheduled our meeting for tomorrow morning. Installed IE7 Beta 2 Preview for Windows. I am surprised at how few problems I found with websites. I was expecting the worst, but many sites I looked at in a few minutes looked perfectly fine. Helped someone from Radiology troubleshoot a problem with sending e-mail to a student. Snack: a banana. Dinner #1: leftover noodle soup from So. Dinner #2: yogurt, turkey burgers. Today on my Mac Mini I had a problem with the Finder's Help Viewer application. When I started it, the screen was blank, and when I attempted to search for items, it would begin searching and never stop. I found the answer by searching Google on "help viewer" broken which led me to a FAQ at which had the answer: trash the preferences files. It disappoints me that I still have to deal with corrupted preferences files on the Mac. When I worked technical support at Aldus and Adobe, trashing the prefs file was one of the first things we frequently did when troubleshooting problems on the Mac. We did it so frequently I had wished Photoshop automatically trashed its preferences file every time it started up. Now, over a decade later, people are still trashing the prefs, trashing the prefs. Why?

Tue Mar 7, 2006

Breakfast: cereal, banana, orange juice. Tweaked backups. Met with Susie. Worked on our privacy policy. IRC lab printer troubleshooting. Worked on shared calendars and out-of-office hours with Ena. Granted access to archived e-mails to Pollyanna. HTML e-mail work for Bill. Lunch: oriental chicken salad at desk. Snack: turkey and cheddar sandwich. Reviewed orientation materials for computing services. Home. Snack: yogurt. Washed dishes. Leftovers by myself for dinner, watched Baraka's behind-the-scenes and portions of commentary for House of Flying Daggers. Patrick got home from school and meeting with AJ. I showed him the RSS feed I'm working on for Lodestar. Booked a vacation online for me and Patrick then had a bit of panic attack because I forgot to check my work calendar and found a conflict, but I immediately telephoned customer service and they were able to cancel my order without penalty—whew! I rebooked and now everything is okay (presuming I get my refund for the first order).

Wed Mar 8, 2006

Breakfast: hash browns, chicken meatballs, eggs. Telecommute day. Updated the faculty page for Nancy. Worked on privacy policy stuff and the flickr project. Lunch at home by myself: leftovers. Dinner at home with Patrick: chicken cacciatore. Watched Lady and the Tramp on DVD with Patrick.

Thu Mar 9, 2006

I realized something this morning which startled me. We were watching Lady and the Tramp last night, and in the film a man and woman have a large (I think) Victorian house with a large front and back yard. I realized this morning that whenever I saw that house in the film I thought to myself, "I'll never ever own a home with that much space!" or "By San Francisco standards, and fixed up the right way, that house could easily be home to at least 20 people!" and this latter thought is really the wrong thing to think anyhow. In this film, this is how people lived—and were supposed to live—in Victorian homes. In our Victorian flat apartment on Capp Street, our bed was next to what was supposed to have been the living room fireplace. The living room was probably what used to be the sitting parlor. The upstairs and downstairs were split into separate apartments. The kitchen, bathroom, pantry, and closets were cruel (oh so cruel) afterthoughts squeezed into the remaining space. I have a strange vision of someday leaving San Francisco, buying a home somewhere, and then becoming so paralyzed at the thought of having so much more space that I fall into a coma for years until they figure out how to freeze people and I get frozen and I sleep for decades or possibly centuries before they thaw me and pull me out of the coma and as I get up from the table I see hundreds of other people around me doing the exact same thing—getting up from a table—and I eventually learn that they all left San Francisco around when I did and they all bought houses with 900 square feet of space—or even 1,000 square feet!—and they all were paralyzed just like me. And here the vision splits—I can't decide which way it will turn out, but it's either—together we build a single, giant, multi-billion-square-foot Victorian house and we all live in it—or—we build a vast city of rows and rows and rows of giant Victorian houses—each one is at least 5,000 square feet and has several miles of surrounding gardens—and a single person or couple lives in each one. Either way, it's a beautiful ending. Breakfast: yogurt, cereal, orange juice. Helped Lucia install an imaging unit into a laser printer, tweaked backups, poster work for Cindy, link checking, updated photo credits for Update from the Dean for Susie and Steve, printed a floor plan for Chris, handed off the first final for Cindy's poster project to FedExKinkos. Spent a lot of time trying to get the tabloid color inkjet printer to print correctly. We don't use this printer often, so as inkjets do, the inks don't come out reliably if you let it sit for long periods with no printing. Lunch: double cheddar cheeseburger and fries at desk. Patrick did a great job today cleaning up the "garage" so that I could install some shelving on one wall. He also hung some art in the living room and bathroom. Dinner at home by myself: turkey burgers. Worked on Corinna's website.

Fri Mar 10, 2006

Lunch at Five Happiness Mandarin Cuisine Restaurant (415-387-1234, 4142 Geary Blvd): cashew nut chicken lunch special. This place is decent—awful decor, wanting cleanliness, good food that's inexpensive, service above average especially in friendliness. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth it just to step foot in the door to see the gigantic fish in the foyer fish tank. I think one of them was bigger than me! My fortune: Good health will be yours for a long time. Listserv troubleshooting for Joel. Took photos of student MB for a publication. Scanned in documents to PDF for Cindy. Updated block calendars with a new note about holiday schedules for Cindy. Finalized the poster project for Cindy. Met with Rodney to review things I'll need to know while he's away. Tonight just before dinner around 7:00 PM there was a truly frightening and very brief lightning storm. It started as I was working at the computer. I saw the first flash through the closed venetian blinds and my initial thought was, "How can there be fashion photographers in my back yard?" but one second later a severe brownout hits, the lights go out briefly, and the uninterruptible power supply on my computer beeps loudly. One more second later a very loud rumble of thunder confirmed the reality. Not long afterwards—maybe 30 seconds?—the same thing happened. I was hovering near the door and window trying to gauge whether it was raining—there were some drops, but no downpour. Wherever the lightning hit, it seemed to be very close. The lightning and thunder continued for perhaps a few minutes more but stopped completely. We got a little bit of a steady rain, but then even the rain stopped. Very strange! I had wanted to unplug our computers and did so with Patrick's laptop, but I felt the web server was safe enough to risk leaving it on and it was too difficult to find only the remaining computers and unplug them. Dinner at home with Patrick. Patrick cooked oven-baked, flavor-bursting, honey mustard chicken with an Italian herb risotto. I went to bed early tonight—around 8:00 PM.

Sat Mar 11, 2006

I dreamt last night I accidentally erased a bunch of photos in my digital camera before I got a chance to upload them. Woke up early today: around 4:45 AM. Breakfast: hash browns, teriyaki something meatballs, scrambled eggs. Patrick got home from shao lin practice and showered and took a nap. I found a fortune behind the rack mount computer just now: Imagination is more important than knowledge. Did some organizing of things in the bathroom and various closets, tidied some computer cables. I stumbled across today—neat—but I couldn't figure out what the difference was between cb2 and c&b despite what they said on their "about us" page. I canceled my membership today with the Shell Motorist Club which somehow morphed into the Motorist Program provided by the United States Auto Club. A very polite man (Texan?) assisted me with the cancellation, but I was surprised that he didn't bother to ask me why I canceled: I found one day that they no longer bothered to maintain a website. There used to be websites at and, but not anymore. And I don't recall Shell or United States Auto Club notifying me about any transition of ownership. I searched on the phone number they provided to us for roadside service—1-800-355-7263—and I couldn't find any website describing the service. I found 11 web pages which referred to the phone number, but none saying, "here we are and here's our legitimate service." The service might still work, but the lack of a website makes me feel uneasy about doing business with them. The man said my $54 annual charge would be prorated and refunded back to my credit card—exactly what I had hoped. I stumbled upon a fun, short piece of writing by sumo_rhino on epinions dated May 22, 2001 and titled "Quest of the Out-of-Print Oracle: Part 1." I notice today that Chris's blog (psychobauble) is doing some fancy footwork (presumably AJAX, presumably via WordPress 2.0.2) when I post a comment—neat! I laughed painfully hard today at a link to some Engrish on that Chris sent me. Cowboy leg (beautiful pole); frog gruel; GIGI—it's not me, it's the wind. It's all good. Worked on Corinna's website: gathered images. Cut my hair, took a shower then a bath.

Sun Mar 12, 2006

I dreamt last night I was sitting on the floor in a church. A friend of mine (unidentified in the dream) was sitting near me. There were a lot of other people in the church, and people were talking quietly. Suddenly, I look up and two people I know (but in the dream they were not immediately familiar to me) were proceeding down the aisle. The friend sitting next to me got excited when he saw them. I realized I was watching someone's wedding. It was two men and one of them was wearing something non-traditional—they were like modster pants with suspenders but plaid or somehow otherwise gaudy. I pulled my camera out but by the time I got it powered up they were upon us already. From our seated position on the floor, I pointed my camera essentially straight up to capture the moment. I knew it would turn out to be an awful photo, but I took it anyway. All during this time, there was no processional music, and many of the people sitting in the pews nearby didn't seem to be paying any attention, so I presumed they weren't here for the wedding. Little Brian was nearby looking beautiful as usual, except he had two lines going around his head as though he had been wearing a hat with piping while he slept. As I looked around I saw Tina and Domenica and a female friend of theirs—they also had seats on the floor nearby us. Someone to my left was seated in a chair with his back to the wedding ceremony. He turned his body to see what was happening and I could see that he was eating a meatball with a fork. As he turned, the meatball fell off his fork, bounced off his shoulder and back, and I looked away knowing the meatball was going to be rolling on the ground in the next instant. I couldn't help laughing out loud, but the wedding ceremony didn't appear to be disturbed at all this. The man got up from his chair to retrieve the meatball, looking around, and I pointed to where the meatball had come to stop near my feet. That's when I woke up. Breakfast: same as yesterday. Backfilled journal entries from a couple of days ago. This evening we held a dinner party to thank nearly all of the people who helped us move. Patrick cooked a fantastic meal for us using recipes from The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells. (I helped.) Mesclun and frissee salad with matchsticked ham, aged cheddar cubes, and glazed walnuts. Penne gratin (in the book it's called macaroni gratin even though the recipe uses penne instead of macaroni). Chicken fricassee with wild mushrooms and vin jaune. The Apple Lady's apple cake (gateau aux pommes de la reine de pommes).

Mon Mar 13, 2006

Breakfast: cereal, banana, orange juice. Lunch at Nan King Road Bistro with Joel. He's getting over a cold, went to a lip synch contest with Heather at Sonoma State last weekend, and is going to Anaheim this weekend to watch a cheerleading competition. Ena was missing from work today—she too has been getting over a cold. Tweaked backups. Linkchecking. Small edits to the Transcripts checklist page for James. Helped Joel with a number of small issues: show/hide white space in Microsoft Word (very frustrating to search for on the net or even to figure out where to start to find an answer), long delay while entering form data in Acrobat 6 in certain forms (problem solved in Reader 7.0.7), how to prevent reading layout in MS Word. Researched how to embed Real Player files into a web page, researched MAGpie, researched video accessibility (reread several chapters of Joe Clark's Building Website Accessibility—the book with the world's longest colophon). Began transcription of a video we plan to work with on our site. Home. A couple of days ago Patrick found a Google Earth tour of the Hayward earthquake fault. It's interesting, especially the horror of all the stuff that lies directly on the quake line, such as the Cal Berkeley football stadium, freeway overpasses, residential neighborhoods, business buildings. Put in a favicon for Corinna's website. Signed up with AAA auto club. Dinner at home with Patrick: biscuits, leftover chicken.

Tue Mar 14, 2006

Backfilled dinner on the 12th. Breakfast: my favorite breakfast at home. Video transcription, new student computing services documentation, minor web changes for James. A student asked some interesting questions about Outlook Web Access and I could not find these issues documented on the web, so here they are. Question: In Outlook Web Access, when I view my Sent Items folder, the Size column does not appear. How can I view my Sent Items sorted by size? Answer: There does not seem to be a way to get the Size column in OWA's Sent Items folder view. However, here are two workarounds: (1) Create a new folder, then move all your Sent Items to the new folder, and the size column should appear there as you expect. OR: (2) Select the Search button (magnifying glass icon), which is available only when you use OWA in Internet Explorer. In the search terms, type the single letter e and select the checkbox to search the message body also. Select Find Now. After the search is done, sort by size in descending order by clicking the size column until you see the down-pointing arrow on it. Then select the First Page icon, which resembles an arrow pointing left toward a vertical bar. Your largest messages should now appear below. If someone sent you attachments with no text in the subject or body that contained an e, they might get missed by this method, though. Depending on how many messages you're working with in Sent Items, you might prefer to use Outlook or Entourage instead to do this.—Another question... Question: In Outlook Web Access, is there any way to resize the columns manually? Answer: The columns cannot be resized manually in OWA; they adjust automatically based on the size of the entire browser window. If you need more space, the best you can do is to maximize the window --and-- you can also drag the vertical divider all the way to the left to cover up the left side navigation. If you must have this manual-resizing functionality, you'll need Outlook or Entourage. The big news today: Stacey gave 2 weeks notice, she's moving back to the east coast. We'll miss her! Pre-lunch: a turkey sandwich. Lunch: spaghetti in cow sauce, corn off the cob, dinner roll from the cafeteria. Dinner at home with Patrick: ginger soup, leftover chicken, leftover biscuit. Watched Simpsons: Another Simpsons Clip Show and Homerpalooza. Joel's favorite song of all time is Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (from Rumours). He also likes James Taylor.

Wed Mar 15, 2006

Tweaked backups. Susie stopped by for an impromptu meeting today. We worked on her clin pharm survey and covered other topics: video, flickr, etc. Scanned a document to PDF for James. Made the survey live. Opened an inquiry with Alison about getting source data for a video project Susie and I are working on. Coded some of the video news story. Transcription. Joel received his gift today—I bought him the Barbra Streisand TV Specials 5-disc DVD set to thank him for all the sewing projects Patrick and I have given him, for sharing his fantastic baking skills with the office, and for being a super nice guy (well, most of the time). I realize today for the first time that has finally implemented shop-by-size though the feature doesn't appear everywhere it should, so it's a little hard to find. Maybe in a couple more years I'll be able to order a dress shirt from them with the proper neck size, sleeve length, and torso width. I mean, someday maybe Google will let me order a dress shirt...

Thu Mar 16, 2006

Breakfast: my favorite breakfast at home. Installed security cables for Chris, removed them after they prevented him from inserting his laptop in his docking station. Computing services documentation. More transcription and video news story work. Scanned a document to PDF for James. Pre-lunch: a sandwich. Lunch: salad from the cafeteria. Set up the laptop for James for a meeting. Investigated transcription and captioning vendors for Susie. Picked up a video at the video rental store. Dinner at home with Patrick: square pizza. Watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) on DVD with Patrick. Although he knew the titular song, he had never seen the film before. I remember seeing it at least several times in my childhood but was surprised to find how much of it I had forgotten and also surprised at how charmed I was with the entire story and all the songs all over again. We both enjoyed watching it very much. I keep forgetting the keyboard shortcut in Firefox for switching among tabs. I want Ctrl+Tab, which is the Windows shortcut, but in OS X it's Cmd+Option+RightArrow, which on my keyboard is Alt+Windows+RightArrow. Ctrl+Tab in Firefox on OS X switches focus from the address bar to the page. Backfilled yesterday's journal entry.

Fri Mar 17, 2006

Returned last night's video. Cable management for Joel. Flash updates. MAGpie work. Filed reimbursements. Helped Chris troubleshoot problems with his D/Dock station. Installed print cartridges for the tabloid printer. Shopping at Target and dinner at Elephant Bar in Colma to celebrate Mom Ryan's birthday. We started with the coconut shrimp skewers which were very similar to the ones I ate at Halekulani in Honolulu. Mom Ryan had jambalaya, I had crispy teriyaki chicken with rice and vegetables, Patrick had misoyaki salmon. For dessert, we were all too full, but for Mom Ryan they brought a scoop of ice cream in a cinnamon krispa shaped into a bowl with a single candle and they sang the happy happy birthday clap clap clap song and Patrick and I shared a few bites at her insistence. Mom Ryan had a great time celebrating her birthday with her son for the first time in about 15 or 20 years, and we were all happy for the evening.

Sat Mar 18, 2006

Breakfast: blueberry froot smoothie, cereal. Today I caught up on a lot of e-mail (but not everything), and I started my taxes, grateful that I was thoughtful enough last year to save my notes from Tax Boy who helped me last year with some very puzzling questions. Patrick got back from martial arts practice and took a shower, a bath, a nap. After he woke, I had a quick lunch (leftover pasta), and he and I did some Union Square shopping. When we got to Crate and Barrel, we noticed that there were lots of motorcycle cops blocking off some of the streets, and there was a TV van set up ready to film something. I looked around some more and realized that the anti-war march scheduled for today was just coming down the block. Fortunately we didn't get caught in any the traffic it had caused. We ducked into Crate and Barrel where the employees were all agog at the forthcoming wave of protesters which were clearly seen and heard through the giant display windows. I overheard one employee ask her manager if they could leave the doors open, and the man quite wisely said most definitely no. Patrick and I still support the anti-war movement, but after the events of the past 4 or 5 years we've decided it really isn't very productive to participate in marches like these—kind of how it no longer seems very productive even to register or vote (though we still do). The march does create an awful mess of traffic, and in San Francisco a protest like this is like preaching to the choir. Around the nation and around the world, everyone knows San Franciscans and Bay Areans are among the most liberal Americans, so efforts like these are easily dismissed as not being representative of everyone in the nation. And, we're not even sure if terrorists who might attack the United States are smart enough to leave San Francisco alone—the terrorists we've seen in the past just seem angry and fervent and devoted to religion, and logic doesn't seem to be controlling their actions. We went to C and B looking for dish towels but we couldn't agree on any that we liked, and none of them were on sale except the ones with Valentine's Day hearts on them. Instead I found and bought a wooden utensil holder that I will use as a fashionable stand for my monitor at work (if it works out sizewise). It's been long enough I've had the two reams of paper holding my monitor up. Those quick and inexpensive tricks the ergo police at Adobe taught me finally wore thin on my aesthetics and patience. (Some may be surprised I even lasted this long.) After Crate and Barrel, we went to Macy's. Again, we couldn't agree on dish towels but we did get pillowcases that we had needed, and they were on sale. We're fonda the Hotel Collection, 460 thread-count, which I believe is much stronger than the Calvin Klein bed linens we've purchased in the past and which tore easily at the seams. We stepped in to Sur La Table which had a wide array of dish towels, but again we couldn't agree on a design and none of them were on sale that we could tell. Stopped at the Starbuck's across from the newly remodeled Cafe de la Presse, which appeared to be packed, so I didn't even get to see inside. Patrick says he's seen it and the cafe and dining room have been conjoined and the magazine rack moved elsewhere so there's more seating. He thinks it's a vast improvement. We went to H and M where it was a bit of a zoo. There were people everywhere, and we noticed there seemed to be a lot of attractive, young Asian men. Patrick did a little flirting, telling one young Asian man that a particular jacket the stranger was trying on looked good on him, and I didn't mind until I realized that he was trying on the last one available in my size! I asked Patrick to go back and tell him he was mistaken and that it looked ugly on him, but Patrick just laughed. Oh, well. I tried on a suit and this is when I realized H and M is a lot like Ikea. The suit's jacket fit me reasonably well, and we wanted to buy it, but it was paired with a size 32 waist pair of slacks. We found an employee and asked for size 31 or 30 for the slacks and she looked tediously through the rack for us but there was none to be found. I asked if she knew if the slacks came in 31 or 30 and after some confusing dialogue (a misunderstanding over whether the slacks could be separated from the jacket which wasn't what we wanted), it seemed that yes they did but they get new shipments frequently and they simply come in whatever sizes they get. I asked if there was a way someone could call me if those sizes came in, but she said no. We asked if we could order the size we wanted from their website, and she said no. (And at this moment we remembered having visited their site before and found that it's really an ineffective website for a clothing retailer—you can't order online, even in 2006. Oh yeah, Ikea doesn't have their entire catalog available online, either, huh?) So we hung up the jacket that fit and the slacks that didn't and quite sadly walked out of the store. I say this is like Ikea because it was very similar to the experience we had on (I think) October 1, 2005. I didn't write about it then, but essentially, Mom Ryan found a love seat that she wanted but Ikea didn't have it in stock, they couldn't tell us when it would come back in stock but—like H and M—invited us to come back at any time to check if it was, they wouldn't let us call ahead to see if it was in stock to save us the trip over the bridge, they wouldn't call us to let us know when it had come back in stock, and they wouldn't let us pay for it and deliver it later when it came back in stock. We ended up finding something that worked for her at Levitz. But it was a similar case of us as customers saying, "We want to give you money" and then "We want to give you money in a way that makes things easier for us and/or for you" and then finally "Oh well, we'll find someone else to take our money, thanks anyway." I mean, come on, Ikea, it was like a contest to see how many ways can you say, "We don't want your money!" before we'll leave. And good grief, H and M, I spent an hour in your store which I realize now was a waste of time, and I am far less likely to return knowing that finding something in my size can only be the result of good fortune rather than a reasonably simple process of information exchange followed by monetary exchange. At least at the Gap I can go home and see what's in stock online and order online (except when the site is closed for maintenance—hey, Gap management, it's possible for a retailer with your resources to create a 24/7 always-available e-commerce website, so there's no reason for your site to be completely closed when I visit at 2:38 AM, no reason for you to say, "We don't want your money right now!"). After H and M we went to the Container Store and bought some shelves and bathroom items we needed for our new aparment. On the bright side, today we had really terrific service from employees at the Container Store and Starbuck's. At the Container Store not just one, but several employees helped us find items and did so cheerfully—it was quite refreshing. At the Starbuck's in the Fifth and Mission Garage building, the barista kept pace with the torrent of customers' drink orders far better than the stocking pace of the food case items, informed customers when there would be an extra minute of delay due to "a problem with the chocolate," got everyone's crazy drink names spot on, and apologized to me and Patrick for the lack of speed in getting us his drink when we hadn't experienced anything but the usual waiting period—it would seem her standards are much higher than ours. I should have gotten her name. On our way to the garage, I ran into pharmacy student DZ—there's a conference at Moscone this weekend and a bunch of our students are attending. Bought gas at Twin Peaks Auto. Home. I took a nap. Patrick woke me up because the power had gone out and he didn't know what to do about the beeping UPS. (He figured out on his own that he needed to reset the circuit breaker.) I went back to bed. Woke. I set up some of the things we bought: a clock and a shaving mirror for the bathroom tub area, wall pockets to hold mail in the garage. Dinner at home with Patrick: spinach pasta with mushrooms and sliced ham. We were tired from the day's activities and went to bed somewhat early. Oh, just fyi, there's no restroom at H and M—I went across the street to Lori's Diner where the stinky restroom is reasonably (but not legitimately) accessible to non-customers. The Apple Store and Crate and Barrel are two other pretty easy places to take a wizz in that area. I realized today that one phase of my backups process at home wasn't functioning properly, so I fixed it and now it's better. I wish computers—personal computers—handled fault tolerance automatically, like Photoshop or OS X Help auto-deleting the preferences file when it gets corrupted, or like Windows XP reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows and restoring the data after a blue screen of death, or like OS X automatically fixing file permissions when needed, or like Microsoft Office repairing itself when it knows it has gone braindead. Microsoft and Apple have some of this idea right with Microsoft Update and Software Updates, and some applications like Adobe InDesign have similar features—it just needs to be extended to other situations, particularly those involving data loss and those involving all the soft parts of the computer at the OS level. I wouldn't be out of job, I think—there are plenty more things to worry about that require expertise. Sort of like the bizarre illegality of marijuana—cops really should be spending their time investigating—and preventing—things like homicides instead of putting potheads behind bars. Personal computers and all related hardware can and should be designed to not lose data so that I can spend my time on tasks that really do require a human. How long will it take humans to reach this level of sophistication? Apple? Microsoft? Linux? Google? Bueller?

Sun Mar 19, 2006

I woke up this morning with a little bit of upper back pain but after some aceto and some time on the heating pad it seems to have mostly gone away. Patrick got home from practice and took a nap. I ate breakfast, installed the two shelves we bought yesterday, mounted a power strip on the wall next to the refrigerator, shredded paperwork that was no longer needed, finished my taxes. (I lost.) Lunch at home with Patrick: turkey burgers. Patrick wrote most of today. He also helped me find our ink jet cartridges which were filed in the office supplies box rather than our usual spot. I changed ink in the printer, chatted with Tina, made some purchases online, installed a small halogen light over the sink so Patrick wouldn't have a shadow fall on the dishes while he washes them. Phil and Drew invited us over for dinner, which was excellent: breaded talapia filets with Thai rice, and dish #2 was Mongolian salad with flank steak. At Drew's request, we brought with us a dvd rental: Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which they hadn't seen but seemed to enjoy. I loved seeing it again, and we enjoyed spending time with them.

Mon Mar 20, 2006

Today it seemed as though Muni completely ignored my bus route. I waited from 8:08 AM to 8:30 AM and no bus for my route passed in either direction. As I started waiting, a very cold rain began to fall, and it continued steadily even after I gave up waiting. I had been holding my umbrella and carrying a small shopping bag (the "monitor stand") as well as my backpack, so my fingers were numb even though I carried the shopping bag with the same hand as the umbrella and alternated which hand was kept in my pocket. The monitor stand aka utensil holder from Crate and Barrel didn't work out as I had expected. It's the right height, but too small in the width, so I'll return it. I'm sure I can find something similar, though—I just need the right size. I'm guessing medium-sized salad bowl. Today I worked mostly on completing video transcription and began captioning with MAGpie. I created a test file with about a minute's worth of captioning and was successful in getting it to play synched with video in RealPlayer. The SMIL file wouldn't play in Windows Media Player or Quicktime, and I think it's because the SMIL file references the Real format—I think I need to create separate SMIL files for each player format once the conversion is done. I wouldn't call this easy work. The transcription alone took about 5 hours. We had to send it back to the speaker for proofing which took about a day's turnaround (a quicker response than I might have expected from our busy faculty). It took most of today to split the captioning up into bite-sized chunks in MAGpie. Once the start times for each caption are set in MAGpie, MAGpie automatically generates the corresponding RealText and SMIL files, but even those have to be hand-edited since I'm working with a streaming file on a server I don't own and the filenames will change once it's uploaded to the server and I wanted to add additional metadata. But at least I know the technology works with RealPlayer. When I figure out if we can do the WMP and Quicktime conversions, I'll need to figure out how to create a simple, elegant interface on the web page for this to let people choose their player and turn captioning on or off. If we don't have enough time, I might need to forego elegance and go with just plain simple. Chatted with student DU about computer hardware. Dentist appointment—just a cleaning, all is well. Didn't feel well after my appointment—some mild stomach problems—so I went home. Patrick has been having severe allergy symptoms today, and we've coincidentally run out of food, so we ordered in. We would have ordered from Xiao Loong, but they are closed on Mondays, so we ordered from another place instead. Patrick's fortune: Stubbornness is not a good virtue (3, 4, 6, 8, 44, 45; map). My fortune: To be beautiful externally is like a glass rose; one false move and it can crack (2, 4, 8, 14, 18, 26; blue). These were the first fortune cookies I can recall which attempt to teach people Chinese. For example, on the back of one, it says "LEARN CHINESE" followed by an English word and then the Pinyan and then the Chinese characters. Map is Di-tu and Blue is Lan-se. The brand of cookie is called Super-K and it is manufactured by Kari-Out Company in New York (800-433-8799).

Tue Mar 21, 2006

My favorite breakfast at home. Student computing committee meeting. Staff meeting. Lunch: a turkey sandwich while watching the Dell ImageBuilder LiveMeeting. Helped a student with the problem of trying to send a very large file attachment in e-mail. Listserv update for Joel. Uploaded final spring schedules and announced. Chatted with PSPG student MS about itsa to Exchange migration. Confirmed admin access to PaperCut. Met with and handed back a laptop to student DU. Met with Susie. Met Phil and Drew at Japantown. We ate dinner at one of the Japanese restaurants and tried to get tickets to see Patrick Mendoza's Colma, but it was sold out and from the line Drew got in for rush tickets it seemed unlikely we would get in, so we got dessert instead at the crepes place in Japantown and then called it a night.

Wed Mar 22, 2006

My favorite breakfast at home. Podcasting seminar with Dane Riley. Podcasting follow-up lunch with Susie at Pomelo. Took photos of students TC, TD, and DS for a forthcoming news story. Checked on IRC keys with Ena. Created a photo sheet of Pharm Sci students for Polly. Updated the P1 schedule for Lucia. Minor web updates for James. Licensure checklist update for Cindy. More MAGpie work—the timestamp coding isn't working as I expected I think because I am using a Real video stream instead of having the file on my computer. I think I can work around this once I have the original DVD (on its way in the mail) and create a Quicktime conversion. Updated iTunes for Ena and Cindy. Completed Flash updates for the office. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: farfalle in marinara. Made pick pay cards for Joel and Michele when they trade off sushi dinners. Recreated the pay card that Joel lost for him and me. Added a few photos to Tina's website. Watched Disc 1 of the Barbra Streisand TV Specials with Patrick—he borrowed the DVD set from his mom who is leaving for New Orleans and Erath tomorrow to visit her brother Tommy. Such a joy to see the creativity of television from so long ago and to hear and see Barbra so powerful and yet so graceful doing what she does best—entertaining.

Thu Mar 23, 2006

Met with Anthony and the Student Computing Committee to discuss this year's Dell configuration. Chatted briefly with Taylor about MCCA. (I realized just now I no longer remember what MCCA stands for—it's essentially our agreement to license software from Microsoft.) Got signed up with a Dell Image Builder account. Researched ePocrates info, but couldn't find our current info so I sent an e-mail to our rep. Minor updates to the computer security guide (e.g., pointed to the campus site license for Sophos). Did a number of small web updates for James. Made live a new news story. Helped James with a printer problem: pages printed with black backgrounds. It turned out to be a combination of our website and his printer, but I was able to resolve it using stylesheets. Lunch: leftovers. Announced Sophos availability to students. Dinner at Fuddrucker's with Patrick, Drew, and Phil. Afterwards we saw V for Vendetta at the Daly City Century 20. The showing we saw was a digital projection, which (I think) means there is no film involved—it's digital directly to your eyeball. Well, almost like that, anyway. The film is a wondrous, marvelous achievement, and it is certain to cause controversy as free-thinking films like this do. I don't always agree with the protagonist's actions, and the film is a bit confusing in places, but I wholeheartedly endorse the discussion of the ideas this film embraces, and it is likely to open perspectives for most anyone who views it. Go see it, then decide for yourself.

Fri Mar 24, 2006

Tweaked backups. Students complained that Sophos wasn't available, so I submitted my problem report to the site admin. Did a lot of cleaning up of website code, taking care of some things that had been on the to do list for years. Lunch: salad from the cafeteria. Snack with Joel: soft serve ice cream—he got peach and vanilla, I got mint chocolate chip. Organized e-mail and files. Sorted through and weeded unneeded cdroms. Unsubscribed from listservs I no longer needed. Reviewed computer requirements from last year for Monday's meeting with Rob. Home. Stacey and her husband came by to pick up some unused moving boxes we had leftover. She brought us a dozen plain Krispy Kreme donuts to thank us for the boxes—she's so sweet and thoughtful! Dinner at home with Patrick: tomato and basil soup, pork chops, saffron rice. Patrick drew a new star for Lodestar. I caught up on some e-mail. Tweaked Tina's website some. Lodestar is late this time—we should have released last Tuesday, so this weekend it will be coding that, getting rid of junk on craigslist and eBay, measuring shirts, working on Corinna's website, returning undesired items to stores, and, if there's time, setting up shelving in the 2nd bedroom.

Sat Mar 25, 2006

Woke up around 7. Fruit smoothie: blueberry, banana, orange. Breakfast at home by myself: 2 hash browns, 2 sausage. (Out of eggs.) Washed dishes, finished routing the cord for the light I installed recently over the sink, archived documents. Patrick returned from practice, took a shower. I scanned in the star and started editing works. Patrick ate a donut, prepared a manuscript to send out, started work on the shelving project, then took a nap. I took a lunch break at noon: leftover steamed chicken, rice. I went to the grocery. Patrick woke. I took a nap. Went to Johnson and Chika's for dinner—special guests Corinna and Pat. Lani, Dexter, and Jeremy joined us. Rob and Matthew stayed at home, Matthew has been ill with an awful flu.

Sun Mar 26, 2006

Killed weeds in the back yard. Ran errands while Patrick worked on Lodestar: Crate and Barrel, Cliff's, Walgreen's (ran into one of our pharmacy students). Nap. More groceries at Safeway. Patrick left to meet Aaron. Dinner at home by myself: oriental chicken salad. Edited Lodestar pieces.

Mon Mar 27, 2006

Breakfast: grape, orange, banana fruit smoothie. Installed Audition. Met with Rob about computer requirements. At Rob's office, I briefly met Dean Dracup—the School of Nursing dean; her lively energy was refreshing and infectious. Wrote up proposed computer requirements. Met with Cindy. Patrick's back has been hurting lately—he's not sure why, but he is taking care of it. Dinner at home with Patrick: he made frozen pizza, I made a hearts of romaine salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, sliced ham, grated 3-year grafton gold cheese. Made a new phone number and bus schedule card for my wallet. Printed some web pages for Emily at the dentist's office. Patrick went to bed. Chatted briefly with Sam.

Tue Mar 28, 2006

Breakfast: an orange, a banana, banana cream pie yogurt. Chatted with Tina at work. Redirected admissions forms from Stacey to James. Video work. Dell ImageBuilder work. Lunch with Joel at You See Sushi. Reviewed resumes for Jeff. Tweaked backups. Groceries. Picked up a movie. Dinner at home by myself: tuna and egg noodles in cream sauce, corn off the cob. Patrick got home from school. Watched Haunted Mansion on DVD with Patrick. Patrick made a pasta salad.

Wed Mar 29, 2006

Breakfast: yogurt, a banana, a fruit cup. Dropped off web page printouts for Emily. Returned the movie. Tweaked backups. Linkchecking. Video conversion work in DiVA. Checked on IRC printers for Kim: cleared a paper jam, successfully test printed to both, changed toner in another. At noon the office held a potluck party for Stacey's last day with us. She was only with us a short time, but she did an excellent job and we will miss her. Cindy brought a green salad, James brought his jambalaya, Ena brought drinks, Lucia brought meatballs in red sauce, I brought a pasta salad, Polly was absent, Joel brought a bright yellow on the inside lemon bundt cake with white glaze (and James gave him grief for omitting the lemon zest, causing Joel to hint to me that he needed a cheese grater or zester since I've bought him kitchen tools as gifts in the past). Computer security poster work. Computer services documentation work. Post-lunch: a sandwich. Said goodbye to Stacey. Rode the N, chatting with James. Eye doctor appointment, regular checkup, all is well. Dinner at Fuzio (rhymes with Sussudio) with Patrick. At All American Boy, I bought a swimsuit from Hussein and that waiter from Orphan Andy's. Home. Patrick went to bed, and I worked on Lodestar.

Thu Mar 30, 2006

I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw a new eye doctor. He referred me to a Lasik doctor if I was interested in having a laser cut my eyeballs to correct my vision. I asked him what happens if there's an earthquake or power outage and he said he thinks the machine shuts off automatically—that it was safe—but he wasn't sure. On average, he said it's $5,000 to do both eyes—the cost varies based on exactly which procedures you need. The Lasik doctor he referred me to is Ella G. Faktorovich, MD (415-922-9500, One Daniel Burnham Court, This surgery does not yet interest me because (a) I don't believe they can guarantee complete safety without complications, (b) I can get by well enough without it, and (c) the results could be disastrous if anything did go wrong. I also forgot to mention a day or two ago that I was waiting for the bus and was startled by a street-parked car nearby me automatically starting. There was no driver in it, and the steering wheel was clubbed. I looked around to see if anyone was coming toward the car or checking it from a nearby window but it was not the case. I looked more carefully in the car to make sure there was no child or dog in it—you never know when you might end up in one of those stories which later become Hollywood films. Nothing. It reminded me of KITT. And then I realized it was just someone warming up their car with an automatic starting device, and I thought, "Come *on* now, you're not living in Alaska, Chicago, or even Seattle," but to each his or her own—everything is relative, and I haven't had a car commute since 2000 and back then I was able to afford a garage. Today I got on the elevator and at least one of the two men also in the elevator smelled really awful. Usually this kind of thing happens only on Muni. I got off two floors early and took the stairs the rest of the way but for hours the smell haunted me and I thought at times I could still smell it—that it was still on me somewhere. Humans stink! Wireless info gathering meeting with John W, Carl T, Waylon S, Joe G, Sean S, Dan F, Steve L, me, Binh N, and Steve Y with Eric Y dialing in. Met with student KB—Dreamweaver help. Helped Robin C who had a quick question about PowerPoint: when I click on the text to edit, the background color changes so that I can no longer see the text. In about 5 minutes I found the answer using the web (answer: Format > Slide Design > Color Schemes > Edit Color Schemes, then change the background color appropriately) and then improved my answer by opening up Photoshop to look up an RGB color value which matched the one in her template.

Fri Mar 31, 2006

This morning I woke up early, made edits to and reprinted my emergency phone number card, printed my schedule for next week's conference, updated my privacy calendar. My favorite breakfast at home. Napped. Lunch: I made sandwiches for me and Patrick: turkey, spinach, hearts of romaine, tomatoes, cheese on sweet french rolls. Packed. I'm going to be away from the journal for a few days, back in less than a week. Dinner at PhilDrew's with Drew, Phil, Quyen, and Patrick: tacos, nachos, and burritos. Drew and Quyen are going to Dragon tonight and wanted us to join them but we leave early tomorrow morning and so we cannot.