31 July 2008

Useful links, daily double trouble

Useful links:
Life happens:
  • Taco party at work for one of our lovely clerical staff who's retiring - we'll miss her and her urge to bring cookies to work (mostly just her though - she's super fast, competent, and friendly!).
  • My brother updates me on his job representing folks at Parole violation hearings - plenty of driving, but great work. Something to consider ...
  • The summer law clerks will be leaving soon - they were really a bright spot at work with their dirty jokes and optimism. It didn't hurt that they made our carpool much better too.
  • Good day at work - got an interesting project and am making quick work of it so I can get back to the old, tedious project (which is also moving quicker than expected, thank FSM)

25 July 2008

Drinking with PD's and Web fun

Life falling apart? Worried about money and love? Maybe it's time to drink alcohol! PD drink night in the near future with some friends might make me feel better - we can all express our distrubingly dark funny stories with beer, popcorn, and darts!

Web fun:
"Spam King" dies, but it sucks
Funny/honest review of Iron Man movie
Excellent - Monty Burns as a bug
There'll be a cheaper, smaller, better Smart car in 2010 hopefully
Mediocre but interesting article on a pot broker in LA

22 July 2008

"Just Don't Look" according to Kottke

In a special Halloween episode of The Simpsons that aired in October 1995, a freak lightning storm brings all of Springfield's giant advertising statues to life. The advertising monsters begin to destroy the town when Lisa, an advertising executive, and Paul Anka come up with a jingle urging everyone to stop paying attention to the monsters. Here's the chorus:

Just don't look. Just don't look.
Just don't look. Just don't look.
Just don't look. Just don't look.

The townspeople comply and with no one paying attention, the advertising monsters collapse and die, saving the town.

The "just don't look" strategy works for more than advertising...it's effective in any situation where someone or something runs on attention. On the web attention comes in the form of links and pageviews so "just don't look" translates roughly into "just don't link or read". If you don't like who's on the cover of Wired, just don't look. If no one talks about her, she'll go away. Think media gossip sites are ruining the web? Don't read them. Leggy blonde conservative got your knickers in a knot? Just don't look. Commenters ruining the internet? Moderate your comments or close them up. If some Web 2.0 blowhard says something stupid, just don't look. Hate blonde socialites? Just. Don't. Look.

Craigslist search tools and "Why wake up so early?"

I missed my co-workers, but I didn't miss getting up so early! I'm getting jealous of the 4 day work week.

Now searching craigslist.org (CL) for housing or a car can be time consuming if you simply repeat the search over and over to find the newest posts. Also, it is not possible to directly search more than one region (i.e., search for a car in SF Bay Area, Sacramento, Modesto, and Monterey Bay). But there are several ways to get around these problems:

(1) CL offers RSS feeds - these are little subscriptions that can be sent to a simple program on your desktop which update like news headlines everytime a new result matching your search comes up.

(2) Crazedlist.org - searches multiple cities/regions at the same time and provides the results on a single page. It has a little bugginess for firefox users, but it's easy to work around.

(3) Craigshelper.com - very similar to crazed list but with ads for other services, forced to initially also get eBay results, promotes the author's other programs (which may be useful, such as Hankshelper.com which searches multiple car sale sites simultaneously).

(4) Craigspal.com - comes in a "free" (which is VERY limited) and "paid" version that will notify you by cell phone SMS or email. Can do multi-city searches. Requires a download though. Honestly, I wasn't too impressed.

(5) Craigslist Search - easy multi-city search, some minor bugginess with removing cities from results in tabbed view, but great interface/tabs compared with others.

Summary:
There's no one solution to both (1) notify you of recent posts AND (2) search multiple cities
UNLESS you create your own RSS feeds for separate cities and searches.

Maybe these attempts will get somewhere or CL itself will make the feature available in their efforts to remain at the top as they get pressure from eBay, google, and others similar free classified sites. Hear that folks at 9th & Judah? Have a slice of Milano's or Arizmendi and think about it, eh?

21 July 2008

Daily links of goodness and fun

Car still missing (and hunt for an efficient replacement begins), insurance company is fun, great pics of the wedding coming from friends/family every day. First day back at the office since the honeymoon break (which was amazing, Tahoe and Truckee goodness) is going fine - it's nice to have people happy to see you're back even if it cuts into work for a minute or thirty. Actually, being relaxed from the break and happy with my generally fun office types makes me work about twice as fast. Dinner with pops tonight should be great as usual, teaching him to use a bluetooth earpiece tonight will be mellow.

Wants: new laptop, new car, massage, control over the office heating and AC.
Needs: reinstall windows, look for car/file insurance claim, Advil, less insulation/adipose.

Time for fun links:
There's something wrong with Mr. Bush's banana.
PC vs. Mac (vs. Linux) - don't ask
Why don't we see unicorns these days?
Suicide of sorts
First gaffe of Obama's trip to the Middle East ... by McCain

Less than fun links:
Uncomfortable Answers to Questions on the Economy
Crazed List - search multiple craigslist locations/cities at the same time!

14 July 2008

Looking for a used commuter car? Let's see here:

Summary:
30+ mpg easily and less than $6000 from either:
1996-2000 Honda Civic (not the SI) or
1998-2002 Toyota Corolla (2000+ better)

My ideal car?
  • Under $5000
  • Less than 75,000 miles
  • 5-speed
  • No sunroof (heavy so bad on gas, less headroom, almost never used)
  • Hatchback if available (Civic)
  • HX if reasonably priced (high fuel efficiency Civic)

Details:
My car (1991 Toyota Camry Station Wagon, 4 cyl) was stolen this past Thursday (seen it anyone?) so I'm probably in the market for a new car. I'm inclined (as is my amazing mechanic, Nancy at Grandma's Garage) toward Hondas and Toyotas for both fuel efficiency and reliability. I'll have between $3000-$6000 to spend. Salvage vehicles are a last resort only, and not at all from private dealers (rather than private individuals). Also, there's not such thing as a "salvage title due to theft" ... it's due to "theft for joy ride resulting in serious damage to the car." Someone is lying about the title if they tell you otherwise. Salvaged vehicles may have had serious damage to the frame - though they'll drive great and be mechanically sound, modern vehicles have specifically designed safety mechanisms (i.e., "crumple zones" which are designed to withstand one serious accident. It is nearly impossible to know how a car will withstand another serious accident after it has been compromised. So, again, salvalage titles are only considered as a last resort and not from asshats who lie about them.

My priorities:
I'd like to get something with close to 100,000 miles (less is better, but more expensive, so we'll see) that gets over 35mpg on the freeway. Manual transmissions get slightly better MPG, but then the wife (yes, I'm married as of Saturday!) is not excited to learn to drive a standard so automatics are acceptable also.

Honda Civic: 5th generation Civics (1992-1995 = $1,800-$5,000) got great mileage, but they're a bit older and the MPG and some amenities improved in the 6th generation (1996-2000 = $3,500-7,000) which get between 31-34 on the freeway (under the current MPG estimates, more under the old standard). Self-reporting drivers find this to be accurate. With some hypermiling and modifications I understand a few more MPG can be squeezed out of them making 40 MPG a feasible goal for 65mph crusing. They take a Scan Gauge II which can read their MPG from the car's computer directly which is a big plus (older cars using OBD I cannot use such a scanner). The later civic models also get up to 35mpg on the freeway, but they're more expensive, the 2001 apparently has automatic transmission issues.

Toyota Corolla: Does about as well as the civic in terms of MPG - the 7th generation (1992-1997 = $1,700-5,750) gets 27-34mpg on the freeway and the 8th generation (1998-2002 = $4,000-10,000) gets about 34. 2000+ have variable valve timing which apparently results in a slight MPG improvement.

Any thoughts folks?

09 July 2008

Body Makes Pot-Like Substance To Help Skin

Our Bodies Like Marijuana Plant, Doctor Says

The body makes chemicals similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to help the skin, scientists reported.In the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers said that learning more about so-called endocannabinoids could lead to drugs that treat acne, dry skin or skin tumors.The researchers treated the cells that produce oil for the skin with endocannabinoids to make them produce more oil.
One scientists said the products could include new skin creams."This research shows that we may have something in common with the marijuana plant," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann. "Just as THC is believed to protect the marijuana plants from pathogens, our own cannabinoids may be necessary for us to maintain healthy skin and to protect us from pathogens."

Giving up on people, wedding, gray water

It's strange how it only takes one person close to you to lie and fail a couple times for you to start feeling alone and weak. The closer the person the less they need to screw up for you to get that same feeling. And the more often they fail the more you feel and hope that "this is the last time, they're going to be better" though you know that probably isn't the case. How's that for depressing optimism or failed cynicism? Now I understand how ... no, wait ... don't understand anything, just bummed.

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So my wedding is this weekend - yes, we've got everything pretty much taken care of, the taco truck is arriving at 9:00 and the groomsmen's wives/girlfriends are monitoring them so they won't be hung over during the wedding.

I can't quite get it into my mind that the wedding is actually happening - in three days! At least the flashlights have arrived on time from around the globe.

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Fun with gray water (wiki link):
Grey water is water at your house that goes down the drain other than water with harsh chemicals or human waste (basically, what's in the toilet or with heavy cleaning chemicals - that's called "black water" - just think of the shitty mercenaries / death contractors, Blackwater USA). Grey water includes most water down the sink or the shower drain. It makes up more than half the water the average house uses daily - and the average house uses over 200 gallons every day. You can "save" your grey water by collecting it in tanks that you either empty into the toilet (not the tank, but the bowl) to flush it or to water your plants (not on plants you eat, but for trees or on/under the ground surface).

The expensive pump / filter systems are not quite easy enough for the weekend DIY'er to put together in a way that is (1) reasonably affordable, (2) long lasting, (3) easy to maintain, or (4) has a positive overall impact on the environment (they take plenty of materials to build).

The cheap/easy systems basically include a small amount of plumbing, buckets, and some not too heavy lifting - like making your bathroom sink drain into a bucket then using that water to flush the toilet OR collecting rain water.

But the easiest, easiest method is to simply conserve water by changing your habits (shorter showers [or navy showers], wash tubs for your dishes, buying local foods [okay, that's a stretch, but it's a great idea],
How not to conserve water: don't drink it. Water's good all the time - drink it!

03 July 2008

Torturing Christopher Hitchens - yes, someone got paid to do that!

Christopher Hitchens writes about getting waterboarded for the July issue of Vanity Fair.

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it "simulates" the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning-or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The "board" is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered.

As you can see in the video, Hitchens maybe lasted 15 seconds or so.

01 July 2008

California - Yeah!


Californian's are trying to get enough signatures to legalize marijuana - then regulate it and get taxes from our biggest agricultural industry then actually fund our schools. Yeah, sounds crazy.

And how American's see the rest of the world: