December 2006

Summary: Tree trimming party at Phil, Drew, and Danny's; Dean's Office Lunch at Ton Kiang; Patrick's first ever real Christmas tree trimming; Karaoke with Julie B and friends at The Mint; 15th Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert with the Mission Dolores Basilica Choir with Patrick and Mom Ryan; Tina visits for 3 nights; Tina and Melissa join us for a visit with the Honmas; German Christmas Eve Party; Christmas Day Brunch at Yank Sing with Patrick, Mom Ryan, Sam, Phil, Drew, Danny, Ted, Emery, Remi, Jesse. New Year's Eve party at Phil, Drew, and Danny's.

Dates on this page

Fri 1

Ironically, just as we received our new Brother MFC-845cw printer (all-in-one), we've been finding that we really aren't happy with the Brother HL-5250DN that we bought about a month ago. It's a really great printer in speed, ink crispness, setup instructions, and networking but it also has this awful page curl problem. We thought we had fixed it by buying 24-pound paper as suggested by many customers (Brother employees?) on Amazon, but after Patrick printed new copies of a chapter he's sending out—using 24-lb paper—and seeing it curl frownworthily, I'm ready to just get rid of it at any cost. 24-pound paper does not fix the page curl problem! At least I didn't buy any toner for it yet. Patrick didn't understand why the paper curls, so I explained that the platen is heated, and it acts just like a curling iron. However, I don't know why this design is the only laserprinter I've ever seen that makes pages curl like this. Patrick found that if he takes a foot-tall stack of cookbooks and puts them on top of his printouts just after they come out of the printer, then 3 hours later they are almost straight again. I suggested he could speed up the process by using our clothes iron and our wooden cutting board, but he'd have to be careful to not burn the paper or the cutting board. Alternately, for a few minutes, I considered how well two letter-sized, superheated, heavyweight pizza stones might work, but you know the risk of fire from that is absurdly great, and one shouldn't have to go to that much trouble even if it did work. The Brother HL-5250DN was my second choice of black-and-white laser printer after the HP LaserJet 1320 which also was a bust (see September 13, 2006). I don't know what I'll do now except go back to the grid and see what else I can pull out. I forgot to mention previously that, to HP's credit, some manager-sounding person (who happened to have an Asian Indian accent—hmmmm?) called me back, albeit weeks after I returned the printer, trying to follow up on my problem report and (probably) my claim that Best Buy sold me a used printer as new. I never bothered to return his call—there was no point since I no longer had the printer, and I was still upset with them anyhow. He left a message only once, and I never heard from him again. This told me that HP is trying—they're really trying—and that counts for at least an honorable mention in my book. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Installed the Envivio plug-in at the IRC for Monday's video showing. Had to check with Rodney because the sound wasn't hooked up properly. He found someone had put the wires back in wrong on the back of the computer. Welcome party for Alyssa. Cindy brought bagels, cream cheese, and Odwalla. Poster work for Susie/Marilyn/Helene. Add-ons updates for Firefox for all staff. Lunch: minestrone soup, crackers, garlic bread. Took inventory and prioritized the purchase of new computer hardware for our office. Still need to gather some RAM and graphics card data, but have it mostly figured out. I'm guessing the Mac Mini will be revved sometime early in 2007—I'm guessing February or March—and we'll make our first batch of purchases after Leopard is released. Dinner at home with Patrick: vegetarian quesadilla, rosemary chicken boob with wild rice. My Streamlight Trident Headlamp from Cyberguys arrived, and I'm very happy with it with one exception, which I'll mention first—it comes in a blister pack. The Trident Headlamp by Streamlight provides forehead-mounted light using a combination of 3 LEDs and one Xenon bulb using three AAA batteries. It's water resistant and has a limited lifetime warranty. The one I purchased is black and safety yellow. The elastic headband is black and red-orange. Within minutes of removing it from its awful, plastic clamshell, heat-sealed bordered packaging, I learned how the lamp head moves up and down. The clicks it makes are rather loud/noisy, but the feel of it is good. I really like the rubber feel of the black part of the lamp head. I loaded the batteries—the battery compartment door is a little hard to open because it's small and not rubber like the head, but it works. Both compartments that open include rubber o-ring seals, and the seals are tight and fit well. The headlamp seems to be pretty water resistant, and I would feel confident using it in wet conditions (e.g., rain) or accidentally dropping it in water. I easily adjusted the elastic headband and put it on. I turned out all the lights and pressed the on switch several times, cycling through the different light options: single LED, three LEDs, Xenon bulb, off. It does not light the LEDs in any combination with the Xenon bulb—this wasn't clear to me before I bought it. The LEDs provide a white-blue light, and the Xenon is white-yellow light. Out of the packaging, the headlamp is fitted with an elastic headband. The package also includes a rubber chin strap, but at first I couldn't tell how you would remove the elastic headband without cutting it. The instructions included don't indicate that where the plastic meets the elastic they've left a small hole so that you can wiggle the elastic out without cutting it. You can't see this hole, however, unless you move the elastic aside. If I hadn't seen that, I might have cut the elastic in order to switch bands. It's a little unbecoming to wear a headlamp, but for the wearer it's completely natural to have light always be where you're looking and to have your hands free at the same time. I recommend this product, but be careful with the clamshell packaging. Streamlight could improve this product by putting it in less dangerous packaging, by improving the instructions to say how to remove the elastic headband, by making the tilting head quieter, and by including rechargeable rather than single-use batteries. (But at least they are genuine Duracells—a trusted brand.)

Sat 2

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Prepared for getting rid of things. Napped. Went to PDD's for a holiday party. We helped them trim their tree, baked cookies, drank hot cocoa, watched Flickr slideshows and photos from their recent South Asia trip. Spent the night at PDD's because we didn't want to deal with transit late at night.

Sun 3

Breakfast at Welcome Home with Patrick: oatmeal and banana, orange juice for me; 2 eggs over easy, 2 sausage, and 2 pancakes, coffee for Patrick. Ran errands in the Castro: Walgreen's, Cliff's. Home. Archived documents with the new scanner (all-in-one). There was a big backlog of documents to be archived since it took so long to get this new scanner. On October 1, we purchased the OfficeMax TS8200c cross-cut shredder to replace an old crosscut shredder I had owned for years. We've been very happy with this new shredder, which is an improvement in nearly every respect over the old shredder. The old one had a very heavy head unit, which made it difficult to empty. It handled only 5 pages (rated) and in its old age it could only handle 3 sheets at a time and the reverse feature was broken (only forward worked). It was time to replace the shredder because I wanted to be able to shred credit cards and cdroms—typical office store shredders couldn't handle these items when I bought this shredder years ago. The new shredder, the OfficeMax-brand TS8200c (item #20987737, style #OM96146, my receipt also says 00011491961466) is slightly smaller, has convenient casters, has a pull-forward leaning and removable bin for easy emptying, is crosscut (diamond-shaped), shreds staples and credit cards and cdroms, and shreds 12 sheets of paper at a time. The diamond crosscut pieces are slightly larger than the crosscut pieces created by the old shredder, but it should still be secure enough for home and most business users. The cdrom is not shredded into diamond crosscut pieces—I was surprised to find that cdroms are shredded into strips about 1 inch wide because the description on the box doesn't make this clear. You might be able to feed them through a second time to get 1 inch squares, but I think it's pretty unlikely people will go to that much trouble to get your data. I still haven't tried the credit card shredder (or if I did I don't remember what sizes the pieces came out). The shreddings from the cdrom and credit card fall into the same bin as the paper, so if you're strict about recycling, you'll need to empty the bin before you switch media. The shredder shreds with much more gusto than my old shredder. I have not yet had to use the reverse feature. The shredder also comes with a special oil packet that you feed into the shredder when you need to oil it. You can purchase these from the shredder manufacturer, but it's probably a lot cheaper to buy your own multipurpose machine oil, squeeze some lines onto a sheet of paper, fold it in half, and feed it in the same way you would the special packet. After shredding plastics (cdroms and credit cards), for additional security I take the pieces with me and deposit one piece in a different public trash can rather than throw all the pieces in a single wastecan. Recently I've modified my Flickr settings to make all sizes available for download. I had turned off the all sizes download feature because I feared people will steal my photos and appropriate them as their own or use them in ways against my will. However, it had gotten too cumbersome to share photos with others with the feature turned off. Flickr has an option to share only with "friends and family" (but not only friends and not only family), but they don't provide the level of granularity I would have preferred. I've also relaxed the licensing on my photos a bit, changing all of them from all rights reserved to a Creative Commons license. I am hoping that more good than bad will come of this decision. Did a lot of cleaning and vacuuming today. Finished installing drivers for the new all-in-one on all computers. Wrapped a gift. Dinner at home with Patrick: couscous-stuffed salmon, steamed broccoli. Archived documents. Did a tiny amount of work on Corinna's website. On occasion in the past I would catch a glimpse of backups running and noticing that files that were—or already should have been—backed up were being backed up. I only figured it out today when I saw some of my files in blue text rather than the normal black text (Windows XP Pro). Files in blue text indicate files that have been compressed, for example, after you run Disk Cleanup. Because these files are compressed, the backup systems I have in place now see the changed file as a new file and backs them up again, which essentially wastes space on the backup media. Obviously, this has been going on ever since my backups were in place. I can resolve the problem by wiping out the existing backups but then I have to remember to never compress files. (They'll be compressed by the backup software instead.) This puts my problem of finding good backup solutions in a new light and essentially makes visible a layer of complexity I hadn't realized before. We might not have to get rid of the Brother HL-5250DN after all. I found some support information that said to set the paper medium type to Thin Paper and that seems to have reduced the curl a great deal using 24-pound paper (haven't tested with 20-pound). I've set all our computers up with the fix, so we'll give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.

Mon 4

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Bought EMT or paramedic scissors at the UCSF bookstore ($11). Yesterday I bought heavy leather garden gloves ($16) at Cliff's. Only thing left to get to open plastic clamshell blister packs is a set of arm-length leather cuffs to protect the arms. (I already have the plastic eye protection goggles.) I've given up hope that blister packs will go away. Won't happen in my lifetime. SFS video. Group interviews for pathway coordinator position. Purchasing research for Chris: usb drives, backup solutions for him, notebook stands. Flickr work (NIPSA). Workstation setup for Alyssa. Lunch: Panda Express. My fortune: Success and wealth are in your future. Bus didn't show up this evening for my ride home, so it took an hour. Grrr! Thought about filing a complaint with MUNI then thought again and didn't. Dinner at home with Patrick: angel hair with red sauce and 2 animals. Chatted with Lani on the phone. Shopped online for gifts.

Tue 5

Usual oatmeal breakfast. James announced the winner of the admissions guessing game—it's me! Each year members of our office guess how many applications we'll end up with after the application window closes, and I came closest without overbidding this year, guessing 1278 and we had about 1397 this year. The prize is a (I think) $25 gift certificate, and I chose Macy's. Set up Alyssa with e-mail. Flickr work (NIPSA). Met with student LQ about computer problems. Reported a problem with downloading Sophos to OAAIS. Lunch with Joel. We wanted to eat on campus but the cafeteria, the MU food court, and Palio were all lines out the door. Strangely enough we went downstairs and there was no line at Subway, so we ate there. Joel not only complimented me on my jacket but also asked where he could get it and do they have his size? Mine is a Dainese Intruder tex black 46. UCSF shuttle to Laurel Heights campus. Shot some work photos of the campus for Flickr. Attended Steve L's class on information security. Chatted with Tiki who I hadn't seen in a long time. The class was excellent. Afterwards I chatted with Michael K and Geordie E, who work at Mission Bay, about Flickr, computer support, IT, computer gaming, restaurants at and near Mission Bay, the Mission Bay recreational facilities. Shuttle back to Parnassus where we said our goodbyes. Stopped briefly at the hospital gift shop, picked up some greeting cards. Back in the office. Revised my exiting employee form, send old and new versions to Steve L. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: pig loin, Kraft organic macaroni and cheese (it tasted like day-old mac and cheese to me and Patrick and I had an amusing discussion about how weird it was for Kraft to be selling organic foods (and for Patrick to be buying it)), steamed broccoli. For dessert, Patrick made a dish from Celebrate Cuban called plátanos dulce which they say means sweet plantains. These look like bananas but when they ripen they turn sweeter and they don't turn mushy. Patrick served it with Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream and the dish was quite delicious and an interesting combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures. Dainese research for Joel. Caught up on some old e-mail. Late night run: about 15 minutes. I started running again last Saturday (and forgot to mention it) after not having run for a long time because my knees were hurting. My calves have been sore ever since—I didn't ramp up like I should have. Knees are not bad right now. Weight training: front raise, push up. Tonight after Patrick went to bed I found a very small cricket in the spare room and removed it with the spider catcher.

Wed 6

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Followup with student LQ. Listserv work. Research on Office 2007. Arranged to have Alyssa's keyboard tray fixed. Set up Alyssa with access to the shared OSACA e-mail account. Coded and made live a new news story. Calendar update for Jerry L in SFS. Lunch with Patrick at Pasta Pomodoro. After lunch, Patrick helped me pick out new glasses at the vision center in Millberry Union which replaced the dry cleaners across from Subway. Dinner at home by myself: vermicelli noodles in vegetable broth with wontons, spinach, and baby bok choy. Began creating a master plan for home backups.

Thu 7

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Closed a preview session for Joel, who is on the road in Santa Barbara. Coded December closure notices for the web, sent to Cindy for review. Prepared for the arrival of our new pathway coordinator Carol who begins tomorrow. Chatted by telephone with student AP who had trouble with wireless. MacBook Pro packaging cleanup. SATE work. Interview page updates for James. Lunch by myself at Minh Tri: bun bo xao with imperial roll. Bought milk at the grocery. Got lots of work done on the student database project. Some Flickr work. E-mail cleanup. Dinner at home with Phil, Danny, Drew, and Patrick. Patrick cooked stir-fried chinese celery cabbage with shrimp, braised beef with garlic. Danny made a deliciously sweet dessert with rice and taro. Afterwards we watched Flower Drum Song (1961), which was released on DVD in November.

Fri 8

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Voicemail help for Alyssa. Submitted the request for Carol's e-mail account. Hardware inventory. Student database work. Training prep. Created and distributed new phone number cheat sheets. Updated the staff web page. Listserv maintenance. Firefox and Outlook training. Today the dean of the school took the dean's office staff out to lunch at Ton Kiang. I have been to Ton Kiang many times but I had never had the pine nut salad which I liked very much. There were 32 people, and MaryAnne asked us to introduce ourselves one by one which was helpful for me because I had never met some of these people before. Food arrived continually. Potstickers, rice noodles, lots of dumplings, salt and pepper shrimp, crab claws, egg rolls, snow pea shoots, chow mein with string beans, mixed vegetables with tofu, almond jello, mango jello, sugar doughnuts. Chatted briefly with former student FS about assigning drive letters. Dinner at home by myself: leftovers from last night.

Sat 9

Morning run: about 15 minutes. Weight training: tricep kickback, lateral raise, plank. Cut my hair, showered. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Watched Flower Drum Song extras. Patrick got back after spending the night at Aaron's, then took a bath and a nap. I napped. Returned the DVD. Dinner at Park Chow with Patrick: Death and Taxes stout, cow short ribs for Patrick; orange spice tea, half grilled chicken with snow peas and mashed potatoes for me. We shared ginger cake with pumpkin ice cream. Our server was Bex who treated us well. Home. Watched episode one of Heroes, which was entertaining.

Sun 10

Slept in. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Grocery shopping at Safeway and driving practice with Patrick. Looked at Christmas trees but didn't find one the right size. Watched episode 2 of Heroes with Patrick. Dinner at home with Patrick: flank steak cow quesadillas. Dishes and cleaning. Laundry. Prepared food cards to identify dishes for our forthcoming holiday feast. Night run: 15 minutes. Weight training: front raise, lateral raise, dumbbell curls. Late snack: yogurt.

Mon 11

Had trouble sleeping. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Welcome party for Carol. Helped student AP with laptop wireless troubleshooting. New news story for Susie. Did research for and purchased a USB to parallel cable for Chris. I hadn't known such cables existed—they let you use an older printer or laser printer with a newer computer. You might think these won't be needed for much longer, but I tell you they don't make laser printers like they used to. We have some in our office that are like 12 and 15 years old and still going strong. They amaze me. Lunch: sandwich from Subway. Closed preview sessions for Joel. Helped Carol with laptop orientation. Placed a volume order for Acrobat 8 Professional for Windows for our office. Ordered a battery for a spare UPS. Chatted with Mike L. Digital housekeeping. Today was Esther's last day in the OSACA. She has been fun and helpful to have around, and I will miss her. Dinner at home by myself: I prepared angel hair with spinach and mushrooms in red sauce. Patrick got home lateish, and I prepared his dinner as well. Earlier today he had secured a small Christmas tree, so we spent the evening setting it up. He's never had a live Christmas tree before in his life, so the event was rather special. He purchased ornaments from Cliff's: glass icicles; glass ball ornaments in white, orange, and turquoise blue; rice lights; a golden tree topper; a green and red skirt; leaf and berry decors. My Dremel tool proved quite useful in removing some branches that were poorly situated or leaning the wrong way. (No need for a glue gun, though.) I even used the cutter that Drew had bought and given me because it didn't work for him. Sam had extra Christmas lights he let us use. Patrick said we had to wash our hands after handling the lights because of lead in the electrical cords. The rice lights twinkle with 8 different settings. We drank hot cocoa and reviewed the food cards I prepared last night.

Tue 12

Morning run: 5 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Student computing committee. Rob is back! Hooray! This is also Ian's last meeting—he retires at the end of the month. Wah! Posted new draft schedules for Lucia. Did lots of backup solution research. Reviewed web code for Jayson J and told him that I thought he was a top-notch web coder. Dinner at Thai Chef on 18th with Patrick and Mom Ryan. Mom Ryan had recently returned from a trip to New Orleans and she showed us photos of Tommy, Kerry, and her and also of the current conditions of the Lower Ninth Ward which still has many ruined homes and cars which haven't been cleared away yet. "It's a ghost town," she said. She also gave me and Patrick a copy of Prejean's Cookbook which has a lot of Cajun recipes from the owners of a popular Cajun restaurant in Lafayette.

Wed 13

Morning run: 5 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast plus yogurt. Telecommute day. Posted notes from yesterday's SCC meeting to the group's wiki. Student database project. Recordings policy work. Lunch at home: leftovers. Weight training: barbell fly. Dinner at home with Patrick: hot potato salad with bacon, meatloaf, butternut squash and apple soup. Watched a Christmas DVD and episode 3 of Heroes with Patrick while eating chocolate-covered gingerbread cookies and drinking rum egg nog. Weight training: plank, front raise, lateral raise.

Thu 14

Morning run: 15 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Lunch with Julie and John at NKRB. Computer support coordinator meeting. Chatted with Henry DS, Michael, and Geordie. Joel gave me a very late birthday present: a small gold(-colored?) paperweight (from Anthropologie?) which I like very much. Dinner at PDD's: Cambodian-Chinese noodle soup.

Fri 15

Morning run: 5 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Answered questions about antifilesharing education for Cindy and Eric K. Made live final winter schedules for Lucia. Reported a problem with listservs. School of Pharmacy holiday party in the Millberry Union gym. I volunteered to be a helper, which meant that I handed out gifts to people who found others with nametags with matching stickers—a game to get people who don't know each other to learn about others in the school and what they do. They raffled off 6 poinsettias and 2 gingerbread houses. Lucia won one of the gingerbread houses, and the other went to (I think) Patrick F's family. Retracted my problem report about listservs. Grad info web updates for Cindy. I learned a day or two ago that Office 2007 and Vista are already available to me as part of our unit's licensing deal with Microsoft, so I downloaded images and investigated system requirements to prepare for testing. The Office 2007 requirements don't look very stringent, and our nearly-5-year-old computers are just within (or questionably at) the lower limit of what Vista will run on. It seems Parallels is committed to supporting Vista. I haven't investigated about whether Boot Camp will or not, though I suspect it's still too early for Apple to say. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Watched episode 4 of Heroes. Dessert: leftover yule log from the holiday party.

Sat 16

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Did some catching up on e-mail. Updated Lodestar to no longer accept submissions. Patrick went to Simmone's to practice. Archived documents. Tidied frankfarm.com a bit, very minor changes. Tested borderless printing with InDesign CS and the Brother MFC-845cw—took several combinations of InDesign settings and printer settings to get it to work. I also didn't understand how the 4 x 6 photo paper (index card) mechanism worked; I put in 4 x 6 index cards but when I printed it came out on letter-sized paper instead. Eventually I figured it out—you need to slide the 4 x 6 photo paper bypass tray forward when you want to use that paper and then slide it back when you want to return to regular (letter) paper. Patrick got home and ate lunch. We napped. On Thursday at lunch Julie mentioned that she was planning to sing karaoke tonight and I thought it would be fun to join her and hear Patrick sing as well. Patrick's mom came along, too. We met Julie's friends Robin, Mike, and Rex. Everyone sang except me and Mom Ryan—it was a lot of fun. We three enjoyed everyone's singing. Patrick's first song was My Man by Barbra Streisand, which he sang flawlessly and with a style which made me proud. His second song was Cabaret, which he also sang well but we were all surprised that it was a really short version with the part about Elsie omitted. His last song he sang for his mom—Angel by Sarah McLachlan. I didn't think to film with my camera until Cabaret. Dinner at Red Jade (415-621-3020, 245 Church Street) with Julie, Mom Ryan, and Patrick: green onion pancake, crab rangoon, combination wor won ton soup, vegetable chow mein, garlic prawns with vegetables, peking duck, steamed rice. The food and service here are both good. No complaints. Patrick's fortune: You should be able to undertake and complete anything you desire. Mom Ryan's fortune: Every man is a volume if you know how to read him. My fortune: Focus on the color purple this week to bring you luck. Home. Weight training: plank, push up, barbell curl, hammer curl, concentration curl, lateral raise, front raise. Late snack: yogurt x 2. Shower. Chatted with Melissa.

Sun 17

Morning run: 30 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Shopping with Patrick in the Castro. Lunch at Sausage Factory: sausage and mushroom pizza. Ran in to Phil on 18th, chatted for a bit. They were doing laundry at Sit and Spin. Patrick and I shared a mocha at Phil'z Coffee. Mom Ryan invited us to the 15th Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert with the Mission Dolores Basilica Choir (Jermoe Lenk, conductor). The first half was slow and sleep-inducing, and the second half was more spirited and fun. I think everyone's favorite part was when the rose petals fell gently from the domed ceiling on top of the audience.

Mon 18

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Post office. Minor web updates. Began burning copies of Office Pro Plus 2007. Office lunch at Scala's Bistro. Cindy let us go shopping afterwards and it was very productive for me. Home. Weight training: tricep kickback, woodchopper, plank. Shower. Wrapped presents. Dinner at home with Patrick: angel hair primavera. Chatted with Tina. Wrapped presents. Watched episode 5 of Heroes.

Tue 19

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Reviewed student AR's computer—problems starting Windows and the cdrom drive was not functioning either. Today we did the office secret santa gift exchange. Cindy brought her (in?)famous coffee cake and Martinelli's. James made banana bread. We also had fresh fruit: banana, melon, satsuma oranges. Candy canes, chocolates. Before it ended, Lucia, James, Joel, and Scott got into a crazy stealing match over fleece blankets, a bamboo cutting board, and a Crate and Barrel decanter. Here's how it ended up: Carol received the photo frames and christmas stocking with chocolates and snowman ornament brought by Lucia, Alyssa received the Food for Thought book brought by Carol, Cindy received Cranium brought by Alyssa, James received a pair of black and white plaid fleece blankets brought by Joel, Scott received a silver and platinum Crate and Barrel wine decanter brought by James, Joel received a bambu bamboo cutting board brought by me, and Lucia received an iFlop stuffed animal (you put your iPod in the pocket and the music comes out of speakers) brought by Scott. Met with Susie. Finished burning copies of Office Pro Plus 2007. Lunch with Joel at NKRB. Helped James resolve a problem with the "delayed write failed" error message he got with a PharmAdMIT 2007 file. Fortunately we were able to recover from it with little trouble. I adjusted his network settings in attempt to prevent the same problem in the future. Attempted to remove an old battery from a Tripp-Lite SmartPro (SMART500USB) but it was stuck and could not be removed at all. I kept wondering why Tripp-Lite would design a UPS that would not permit an easy user-serviceable battery exchange. Even worse was that there were no instructions other than the obvious: open the battery compartment door, exchange the battery, close the battery compartment door. Not helpful at all. For example, it's not obvious how the battery compartment door opens. There's a single screw, but after I removed it I still couldn't open the door. I tried pressing and sliding, just sliding, nothing worked. The instructions didn't provide an illustration to show how the door opened. I tried using a flat head screwdriver and still it would not open. We also have APC BackUPS Office units and by comparison they are extremely easy to service—once you know how it takes less than a minute. Eventually I got the battery compartment door open after using significant effort with the flat head screwdriver—working it in the seams in a number of places. However, after I got the door open I found I could not remove the battery! It seemed to be stuck inside. The design leaves very little room to grasp the battery, and you have to be careful to not touch the battery leads. After about 20 minutes (!) of trying, I gave up. The new battery will be returned to our vendor, and the old UPS and old battery will go to surplus. I've had really good and really bad experiences with both APC and Tripp-Lite now. Notified the office about Office 2007 and Vista forthcoming. Registered for Macworld, got a free pass to the exhibit hall using priority code PC0619. Reposted P1 schedule for Lucia. Met Alyssa's husband Anthony. Installed Netscape 8.1.2 for Alyssa. Performed manual backups for PharmAdMIT. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: homemade fried chicken. Recently I had very good customer service experiences from Ambassador Toys (186 West Portal Avenue), WineStyles (415-242-9463, 9 West Portal Avenue), and a stationery and greeting cards store in the middle of West Portal Avenue. A WineStyles franchise (winestyles.net) opened in West Portal 10 days ago, and I found James, one of the managing partners, to be very friendly, knowlegeable, and helpful. Patrick and I moved the Christmas tree to make a little more room for Tina. Backup research.

Wed 20

Morning run: 5 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Backup solution research. Crystal Reports troubleshooting for Lucia. Lunch with Joel. We walked down to Irving intending to go to Ten and happened upon Michele just starting her lunch, so we joined her. Student database project: styles cleanup. Applications training for Carol. E-mail housekeeping. Tina arrives with Luna for a 3-night stay at our place. Patrick gets home. Tina and I walk to a nearby restaurant for takeout while Patrick showers. Tina has the box she sent us last Christmas and which got lost at the post office for 3 months before being returned to her. We laughed over the year-old cookies, amazingly not rotten (tho we didn't eat any). Left a message with my sister. Chatted on the phone with my brother. Tina had Patrick and I taste Vemma. It tastes fruity and sweet, so I like it. Did some laptop maintenance for Tina. Went to bed late.

Thu 21

Morning run: 4 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Scott showed me how to find the name of the next Harry Potter book at jkrowling.com. Photo processing. Took the shuttle to Mission Bay, took some photos. Lunch with Geordie and Michael at The Pub. On the shuttle ride back, I saw a woman rolling a 6- or 7-foot black and white peace sign through the Golden Gate Park panhandle. Would've made a neat photo, but it was raining and the shuttle doesn't stop. Registered Chris's laptop for AppleCare. More photo processing. Website backups and archives. Reposted schedules for Lucia. Installed sounds for Carol. User accounts cleanup and security review. Dinner at Mondo Cafe with Patrick: rice and chicken and carrot soup, caesar salad, shrimp and roma tomato and basil pizza. Patrick went home. I went to 111 Minna Gallery for Antuan's fashion show. However, I got tired of waiting for the show to start, especially having no one to talk to—where were PDD?—so I left at 10 and went home. Shower. Tea. Tina and I listened simultaneously to Esquivel's Space Age Bachelor Pad Music on wireless headphones. (Thanks, Steve!)

Fri 22

Downloaded Ubuntu 6.10—I think my copy is at work and one of the laptops Tina brought is running Windows Me, so it's hard to deal with—some utilities won't work on Me. I don't know if Ubuntu's mp3 player will play music seamlessly, which is the only thing we need this laptop to do. We noticed yesterday that there's a 7 Eleven at 711 Market Street. How smart is that? Installed Snowfall, a beautiful OS X 3-D snowflakes screensaver to which Chris sent me a link. Patrick and I spent the day in the south bay at my sister's with Tina and Melissa. We are attacked by blanket blobs, play pillow fights and hide and seek and pickup sticks, and make provolones (Mexican sugar cookies). I take a series of photos of Matthew and a peanut butter sandwich. Afterwards Melissa introduced us to Dittmer's, a gourmet and specialty meat house (650-941-3800, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View). The line had 26 people waiting when we arrived—too long to wait for us. Home. I napped. Patrick prepped food for Sunday. Tina left to visit Jenny and her family. Watched episode 6 of Heroes with Patrick. Ubuntu actually didn't work for Tina's spare laptop—it was too slow. I also tried Xubuntu, and that worked better, but the media player wouldn't play any mp3 files, and I couldn't figure out why. The media player slider would run for a second or two for each song but no sounds came out of the speakers. Got Windows Me in a stable enough condition to work for what Tina needs it for. Stayed up late helping Tina with laptops. She had also accidentally locked her keys in her car and had to wait for the road service people to come out and help her.

Sat 23

Tina left early to return home. I slept in until noon. Morning run: 20 minutes. Usual oatmeal breakfast. I helped with house chores while Patrick prepared food for tomorrow. Prepared take-home gifts for our guests. Archived documents. Lunch: leftover pizza and salad. Chatted with Drew. Dinner at home with Patrick and Aaron: chinese food delivery. Patrick's fortune: Adversity is the first path to truth. 50, 12, 24, 31, 26, 5. Learn Chinese: Fruit = shui-guo. Chatted with Chris and Nate. Aaron leaves. Watched episode 7 of Heroes with Patrick. Our black and white laser printer stopped working recently. I'll send a print job and the printer will run for a bit and then stop. A red light comes on. I check in the front and back and underneath and there's no paper jam. I close the service doors and the printer resets with a green light but the next print job does the same thing. I rotate and flip the paper in various configurations and still the same problem. For a while we were having no printer problems, but now it's frustrating again.

Sun 24

Woke. Showered. Napped. Woke. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Tidied, prepped for party. Patrick and I throw a German Christmas Eve party for a handful of our friends. Attending: ynotswim, Tony Q, Remi, Jesse, Peter, Hao, Galen, Ted, Emery, Yan-Hui, Drew, Phil, Danny, Drew's mom Jane, Sam, Mom Ryan. Patrick served: Pfeffernüsse (spice cookies), Sauerbraten (marinated pot roast in sweet-and-sour sauce), Kartoffelsalat mit Speck (hot potato salad with bacon), Rotkohl mit Äpfeln (red cabbage with apples), Blumenkohlsuppe (cream of cauliflower soup), Haselnusscreme (hazelnut cream pudding), Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake), Dresdner Stollen (Christmas fruit bread), Bratwurst und Bockwurst (German sausage), Schokoladen Brezeln (chocolate pretzels), Saftiger Rührkuchen (gingerbread cake), Marzipanstollen (marizpan Christmas bread), süsser Senf (sweet mustard for sausage). It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. It felt like a big family. All the food turned out the way Patrick wanted. I made food cards using modified nutcracker images by Kevin Trotman (kt) which I found in a Creative Commons search on Flickr. People brought lovely presents for us as well as party snacks and drinks. We talked about Seattle, taoism, quantum physics, French. We watched Taco Town, Will Ferrell imitating George W. Bush, and a chorus of singers complaining in a foreign language about problems.

Mon 25

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Patrick and I opened presents. Mom Ryan gave us a candle platter and pair of votives, Ursula Rucker's ma'at mama CD, George Michael's Twentyfive CD, a table runner with pair of matching napkins, a toy soldier cookie, and a Superstar video gift certificate for 9 rentals. Sam gave us a popcorn tin, a Food for Thought mini calendar, cds of music, and a North Face black winter jacket for Patrick. Phil, Drew, and Danny gave us a Warre's Otima 10-year-old tawny port (porto), sushi place settings for 4, and 12 beige oversized cloth napkins. Tony Quang gave us a set of 4 Downey's 4-ounce liqueur bundt cakes. Ted & Emery gave us a Jelly Belly box set, cheese and crackers. Tina gave us a box of christmas gifts lost in the mail from 2005 (customized Jesus candle, cookies and tin, Gay Haiku), Chuao truffles, Cocoa Bella chocolates, Vosges Creole chocolate. (Her package from 2005 was lost in USPS limbo for many months.) Melissa gave us a Godiva chocolates. Joel gave me a Michael Grecco book called Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait. Remi & Jesse gave us cookbooks: Korean Cooking for Everyone, Japanese Cuisine for Everyone. Rob gave us a "night out with the guys." Hao gave us a Lucky Bamboo dracaena. Peter gave us a Hickory Farms cheese, sausage, and hot mustard assortment. Aaron gave us a Neiman Marcus chocolate covered cherries, Joseph Schmidt chocolates. Steve gave me an Esquivel cd. I gave Patrick a Lightwedge book light and carrying case, Kabuki Springs Javanese Lular massage and body treatment. Sam picked us up and we drove to Mom Ryan's for gift exchange. Sam then drove us to dim sum brunch at Yank Sing One Rincon Center (101 Spear Street at Mission). Joining Patrick and me were: Phil, Drew, Danny, Drew's mom Jane, Mom Ryan, Sam, Ted, Emery, Remi, Jesse. We took photos in front of the beautiful Rincon Center Christmas tree. Brunch was 30 USD per person, and I was a little shocked that the price was that high. Karaoke at PDD's—Phil, Drew, and Danny recently got a new karaoke machine. Films at the Metreon: the women watched Dreamgirls, the men watched Curse of the Golden Flower which had really thinly developed characters but was enjoyable for its grand sets and costumes. The martial arts in the film was enjoyable but there wasn't much of it.

Tue 26

Woke. Patrick was away practicing shaolin. I cleaned up from the party, had my usual oatmeal breakfast, began compiling a list of who we gave what and what we received from whom. Pulled out thank you note cards. Archived holiday greeting cards that were sent to us. Listened to the Ursula Rucker CD that Mom Ryan gave me. Midday run: 10 minutes. Cut my hair. Disk space management. Photo processing. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Watched Heroes episode 8. Patrick and I created a cd jacket for Patrick's electronica album called No Fighting.

Wed 27

Woke. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Was dressed to go out and run errands but needed more sleep. Patrick left for tutoring and errands. I napped 3 hours. Woke. Lunch nearby at a restaurant. Errands: post office, picked up maps. Home. Photo processing. After some puzzlement, I figured out today that the whole DMV thing was really just a misunderstanding on my part—I didn't remember receiving the new registration and applying the new registration sticker but I had already done so. So I'm okay to drive again. I don't know how it happened, honestly. But I've set calendar reminders now so that it hopefully doesn't happen again. The weird thing is that when I called the DMV in mid-November they should have been able to clarify the issue but instead they only made it more confusing for me. They mistakenly told me that my renewal was still in process when in reality it had been delivered. Evening snack: peppermint hot cocoa. Watched Heroes episode 9. We've discovered that while watching Heroes I have a superpower—I can accurately predict the future of the show's plot. This time, I accurately predicted what happened to the cheerleader. I've been successful at seeing the future several times in the past episodes but didn't bother to record it here. I don't believe this to be a particularly useful superpower, though. I am sure there are others just like me out there somewhere. Dinner at home with Patrick: grilled chicken and herbs, leftover saffron rice, grilled zucchini. Night run: 15 minutes. Weight training: front raise. Late meal: soup.

Thu 28

Breakfast with Drew, Danny, and Jane at PDD's. Errands: car wash, bought money, recycled batteries, watered plants at work. Home. Lunch at home: noodle soup with spinach, baby bok choy, mushroom broth, bean thread noodles. Worked on Corinna's website: print stylesheets. Installed Firefox 2.0.0.1 and IE7 at home on my primary computer. The first time I tried installing IE7 it failed. Disabling Sophos and Spy Sweeper seemed to fix it. Installing IE7 changed my internet shortcut icons from a page with a Firefox icon to a page with an IE icon. Had to muck about in File Types to change it back. Dinner at home with Patrick: grilled cow, spinach and boiled egg, biscuit. Watched Heroes episode 10. Everybody remember to update your online wish lists.

Fri 29

Spent the day with Melissa retrieving data from a corrupted hard disk and mostly helping her with other computery things. She brought dim sum for breakfast. Patrick left to spend time with Aaron, Sam, and Mom Ryan. Melissa and I had lunch at Naan and Curry. Late dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Late night snack: the last piece of black forest cake from the xmas eve party. Yum!

Sat 30

I woke up from a dream in which I was just about to lie down for a nap—very confusing! Processed photos. Japantown. Snack: sushi. Kabuki Springs Spa with Patrick—Javanese Lulur body treatment and massages for both of us. Dinner at Kushi Tsuru (415-922-9902, 1737 Post St, Japan Center). Gyoza (4.95), tsukemono (4.95), tempura soba (8.25) for me, katsudon (7.25) for Patrick—about 32 USD after a $4 tip. Home. Watched Heroes episode 11.

Sun 31

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Archived documents. Bills and related paperwork. Digital housekeeping. Updated journal entry for December 25. Photo processing. Shopping with Patrick at Stonestown. Lunch: lunch box special at Sorabol, two thai iced teas. Photo processing. Uploaded Christmas Eve and Christmas Day photos. Afternoon run: 6 minutes. Dinner at home with Patrick: penne pomodoro. New Year's Eve party at Phil, Drew, and Danny's. Chatted on the phone with Chris and Nate.