What's New? 2005-06-15

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What's New? 2005-06-15

 Thursday 30 June 2005
  Not so much to say about today, other than it was a rather regular day. Consultant technical writing done at a local café, an afternoon celebration of the in-laws' anniversary, and a bit of technical work on their wireless router.

Downloaded Israel - Birth of a Nation from the 'net; this version has hebrew subtitles. Recently I grabbed all of James Burkes' Connections, which was a pleasure to watch. I heard that the BBC are considering putting much or all of their older content online. That would be *so* great. So much work is lost or unavailable just because it's not being broadcast. I would spend a good amount of time going through all the incredible BBC productions over the last few decades.

 Wednesday 29 June 2005
  French telephone I like eBay.

I found, for cheap, a French telephone (to work when an earthquake takes our power away). I'm looking forward that trilling sound on my desk.

I'm extremely dissapointed with the parade of modern cordless telephones which break after eighteen months. Garbage!

 Monday 27 June 2005
  Coïncidences can be creepy. This weekend two of the voices for Disney's Winnie the Pooh characters died; Paul Winchell, who voiced Tigger, and John Fiedler, Piglet. Howard Morris, the voice of Gopher on the original Pooh animations, died a few weeks ago.

The Curse of Pooh?

 Sunday 26 June 2005
  Today we had a slightly later wake-up; 0830. We're heading to another birthday party, this one of a relation-by-marriage. It's being held at a country club, the McInnis Golf Club, in San Rafael. We caravan with the in-laws; 45 minutes door to door. The restaurant is surprizingly good, and there was a great family vibe.
 Saturday 25 June 2005
  Today is a day towards which the kids have been looking for a year. Pink Saturday, when the huge pink triangle is assembled on Twin Peaks to commemorate those persecuted for sexual identity by the Nazis.

We first stumbled upon the pink triangle in 2003, when we drove up while it was being taken apart. It was a foggy day, with driving winds, and our tiny kids (Lila was almost two; Isaac was four-and-a-half) couldn't do much more than sit on the bucking pink materials as it was being folded. Being used as weights during this dramatic time got them hooked. For the next year we were frequently asked when the pink triangle was going to return.

In 2004 the Pride Week celebrations took us by surprise, and we had made other plans. Too late we saw the triangle go up, and the next day we returned too late to help take it down.

2005 was going to be different. I set the alarm. With only two hours of sleep I awoke at 0630, started the coffee and french toast, and then roused the kids. I only needed to say the phrase "pink triangle" and Lila and Isaac rolled out of bed. Rose was far behind. We made it up the hill by 0745, and there helped nail the tarps down.

Pink Triangle

We were done a bit over an hour later. Rather than wait an hour more for the Mayor and other dignitaries we opted to attend the birthday parties of friends of ours: Maddy & Jonah. It was their wish to celebrate at the Oakland Zoo.

Here are the kids on one of the rides in the play area outside the zoo entrance.

Oakland Zoo

Lila's reflection on the carousel.

Oakland Zoo

Isaac and a friend on the roller coaster, which Lila didn't like at all.

Oakland Zoo

From the skychair we saw lots of wildlife. Here's a camel enjoying the shade of a palm tree.

Oakland Zoo

On the way back from Oakland, whilst on the Bay Bridge, we were able to see the pink triangle from afar. Not too shabby.

Pink Triangle from afar
 Friday 24 June 2005
  If you've been sending email to me (or us) at some goofy address (like ThoseBozos@GeekTimes.com) it will stop working very shortly. Why? Well, I've been processing our email (and dealing with SPAM) for all my domains locally (on my PowerBook). It's been okay.

spamassassin arrow logo Recently geektimes.com was used as a forged return address by a spammer and now I'm flooded by email to accounts as ntqpr7z@GeekTimes.com. So I'm trading the ability to let people be sloppy in addressing email (micky versus the correct mickey) in exchange for having SpamAssassin weed out SPAM at my ISP, before I suck the messages over to be checked over here.

no SPAM I'm sorry that I'm giving up on this, but so it goes. This will make things a bit better when we travel, as I won't have to pull messages (about 15,000 per 8 hours) through a very thin pipe (depending upon where we're visiting) before I process it.

So you've been warned. If you're sending me email *please* check your address book contact information. Michael, Mickey, Rose, Isaac, and Lila are all valid email addresses for us.

 Thursday 23 June 2005
  Cousin Jessica underwent a dunking in a mikva (Jewish ritual bath) today. Lila and Isaac were very impressed by the whole process, and peppered the Rabbis with questions, commentary, and suggestions. It turned out to be a family day, as we ate at Sydney's Restaurant (at the Jewish Community Center) around the corner beforehand and even got to chat at a neighborhood café whilst waiting for our appointed time.

Sydney's: tasty food, big portions, great staff, espresso drinks, kid-friendly; no complaints heard in our big crowd. Recomended for casual daytime dining. It's around the corner from Osteria, which is a much better (evening) choice (starting from 5pm, which is when we bring the kids).


Hey Mickey... I'm in Arizona.. in a little town called Page. I later realized that I didn't put my name to the e-mail I sent you. Thankfully, there's "free" Internet access in this hotel (which consists of one old Dell, but at least they have Firefox on it!). Last time I had to pay $3 just to send you an e-mail and checkup on stuff. Anyway, I'm getting a signal here, so you can call me if you wish. Gabriel Morales

Gabriel! Sorry about the $3, but I can tell you that your site is up and running and your new contents do appear (and they look good). But's what this about Page, AZ? I visited maps.google.com to check it out, and when I switched to the satellite view I got a surprise:

Page, AZ

That's right, here's a place where one can see two kinds of imagery appear. The high-resolution flavor on top is quite pleasing, the one on the bottom less so, and just a bit south of this I see the "no imagery exists" message. Interesting. Anyway, that's Page, AZ, with The Glen Canyon Dam at upper left, an airport at right, and people happily living in the middle.

 Wednesday 22 June 2005
  Shatner - Miss Congeniality 2 I can't believe that I have something serious to say about a movie like Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous! The movie seems to build up to having William Shatner's character - Stan Field - be the bad guy (when the kidnappers are after him rather than Miss United States). It seemed obvious that he'd orchestrated the whole thing to have the ransom pay off his gambling debts. Three-quarters of the way through the movie it appears that someone decided that a bad Shatner was a bad idea, and that entire thread just fell apart. Kidnapees rescued, nobody responsible for the crime. So, so shabby. Shatner was great as a bufoon; he'd be even better as a bad guy pretending to be a bufoon. I can't believe that I have something serious to say about that movie.
 Tuesday 21 June 2005 - Summer Solstice
  Today, on the longest day of the year, Omi Marga celebrates her birthday and I my half-birthday. We called her this morning; caught her in a car with Daniel, on Eivissa (Ibiza). She was able to hear our family because we use Skype on the PowerBook with big external speakers. Almost like being in the same room, when the volume is turned up. Happy 93rd, Omi!

While I did some paperwork and bill-paying Rose and the kids did a lot of gardening. I had to crunch down our green (compostable items) can. Later Isaac took a bath, Lila brought him ice cubes, and he re-created the Titanic (about which he learn in the last weeks of kindergarden).

Isaac, the Titanic, ice cubes
 Monday 20 June 2005
  Userland Frontier (and now Radio) is a really great tool for generating websites (like this one). But it has some long-time bugs which are rather vexing if one wants to use it to the fullest. This morning, whilst tracking down a nextPrev bug, I squashed a related bug. Download the fix if you please.
 Sunday 19 June 2005 - Father's Day
  Growing up, my father was the stereotypical dependable provider of song and stories.

Twenty-five years later he left pretty much everything he'd gotten used to since getting married and moving out of New York City (to which he'd moved after World War Two (where he was a translator for Gens. Patton & Eisenhower after the concentration camps were liberated)). Why? To be in San Francisco with us and his grandkids.

He sees us pretty much every other day, and he's way better as a grandfather than any of us - including him - ever expected. He sees my sister's side of the family tree, across the bay in Alameda, at least weekly.

We're thrilled to have him nearby.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

We spent the morning at the Lake Chabot marina, where Felicia and family were. Here we are picking blackberries outside the main gate.

blackberries @ Lake Chabot

We saw two birds nests; it's the "peeping" of the baby birds that gives it away. The kids were amazed.

Lake Chabot bird nest

Finally we're on the water. I wanted a canoe, but they only had three-person kayaks, not real canoes. So it was a poorly-maintained rowboat instead. Worked just fine into the wind, terribly returning.

Lake Chabot

The kids had their turn rowing. It was a beautiful day. Sadly we never connected with Fel & family. They had a motorboat, and so we never caught up to them. They saw my Burning Man Ranger shirt, but didn't motor on over; they were busy fishing.

Lake Chabot

We were a bit early for the barbeque, and hungry from all our exertions, so we stopped off at the Holy Land restaurant. The malawach - or "nan" as Isaac calls it - dipped in tahini was absolutely fantastic. Rejeuvenating.

Holy Land Restaurant

The girls were outside; Lila sleeping, Rose resting in the car with her. Isaac loved getting the plastic cups, water, and ice to the table.

Holy Land Restaurant

He claimed not to be hungry, but when the food came he dove right in!

Holy Land Restaurant

With just a bit more time left, we went to Lincoln Park in Alameda, near Felicia's house. (I thought of heading over to Asena Restaurant - Alameda's best food - to wish a happy Father's Day to the staff, two of which have newborns. Alas, they're closed today.

Alameda playground

The afternoon, in Alameda, included an(other) incredible gas-grill barbeque of veggies, fish, and meats. The veggies seriously overshadowed the meats, and if you know me you'll know that's saying something. Adam and the new grill have become one. Good for the rest of us.

Afterwards tired people relax. Here the TV is captivating the kids (and Dziadziu.

TV zombies

Once the food is digested the kids come alive, playing with Adam's collection of musical instruments. Here Isaac is playing the bandleader.

Isaac the bandleader

Courtesy of Felicia, here's a photo of me cutting the birthday cake. Certainly not my best photo ever :-) but perhaps it's the effects of the fresh kiwi alcoholic beverage Felicia made, after we visited four stores to find sweetened condensed milk.

me cutting cake

To celebrate Isaac's half-birthday he decided at the very last minute (just before we were about to park the car) that he needed, absolutely required, a very special meal of In-and-Out burger, fries, and a dessert of Krispy Kreme donut. By the time we got to bed we were all used up.

 Saturday 18 June 2005
  Breakfast at May's Coffee Shop, some shopping at the Parkside Market to pick up Middle Eastern / Turkish / Greek / Macedonian treats, a visit to a Hapkido dojo, lots of spring cleaning, dinner at Pasta Pomodoro in the Castro.

Isaac: We're going to go to sleep very early so we can get up early and go to the lake to celebrate Adam's birthday.

A very nice idea, but as usual we're not in bed early. It's 22:30 and the kids are still chattering themselves to sleep.


The Alameda Sun newspaper just wrote an article which mentions Dad. It's entitled Remembering the Holocaust - Right Now.

 Friday 17 June 2005
  Damn! With none of my Digital Cameras with me I can't this great telecommuting moment: I'm at a local café with a vase of beautiful roses on the table. A wet caffè latte completes the still life.


Natalee Holloway Natalee Holloway of Alabama, 18, has been missing on the Caribbean island of Aruba for about three weeks; she dissapeared on the last evening of a graduation celebration. The investigation in Oranjestad continues, with suspicion spread between the three men with whom she is said to have left a bar, Carlos & Charlie's, in the wee hours of the morning.

(Why do I mention this here? So that I keep a bit of cultural context handy, and can explain it to Lila and Isaac someday.)

This is unbearably sad for her family. And the 'net pundits are going strong: blaming the incompetent police, the evil poor Arubans (although one of the men, Joran van der Sloot, is the son of a rather well-to-do judge), the parent-chaparones on the trip, and her friends - who watched her get into the car with the three men, and Natalee herself. At this moment I'm tending to think the worse of Natalee and her friends, not one of which tried to prevent a somewhat intoxicated friend from getting into a car with three strangers.

Interestingly Natalee is not the only American girl missing with a connection to that bar. In 1998 Amy Bradley of Virginia, 23, went missing after three cruise ship employees told her parents they wanted to take her to Carlos and Charlie's. A naval officer says he was asked by Amy, now working in a brothel in Curac'l on Canal, for help but didn't report it because he didn't understand who she was (and presumably what kind of help she wanted) and because brothels were off-limits to servicemen.

Fueled by cryptic police reports - one of the suspects said "something bad happened" to her; her death was confirmed (and subsequently denied) - and the small size of Aruba coupled with the intensity of the search, 'net speculation runs rampant. It's pretty much divided between (un)consensual sex gone wrong on a beach to white slavery.

Hand-in-hand with the Michael Jackson case, news of Natalee's dissapearance has saturated our news bandwidth. Hopefully she'll be found alive, hale and hearty.

 Thursday 16 June 2005
  My Casio Exilim EX-Z4 died last night. I'm not sure why, but it's under warranty. Since Rose and I have been juggling the camera between us I decided to buy another. After a lot of research and user reviews I've decided upon the Casio Exilim EX-Z750. But where to buy? The range in price from my convenient local retailer to some Hong Kong outfit that refuses to use an escrow service is around $100.

Checking out some of the comparison shopping places I came across this review by "ladnerda from IL" of 42nd Street Photo (in New York, a place I happily frequented in the early 1980s):

Upselling on each phone call, attempted bait & switch, lying about delivery time and product availability. Hmm, would I use them again? Let me be clear. I would build a digital camera from saliva and baked beans before I would even visit their website again.

Priceless! In the end I chose a local seller via eBay (who, besides having the best price, also pays the sales tax). The camera should be here in a few days two or three weeks, as the last one sold out just as I bought it (according to an email from them, offering a refund).

I guess I have to dig in the basement to find my Nikon CoolPix 950 in the meantime. Oh, and that warranty and receipt as well. Meh.

 Wednesday 15 June 2005
  A work-at-home day. Dinner at the New Tsing Tao in West Portal. The food has really improved; a few months ago I had a very underwhelming experience here.


New and improved! Bigger pictures in my Burning Man 1998 travelogue. Enjoy!

Newton @ Burning Man


For no particular reason, here's a look at an item from my in-box:

From: support@cacert.org (CAcert Support) Subject: [CAcert.org] Your Certificate is about to expire

Your certificate is set to expire in approximately 29.96 days time, you can renew this by going to the following URL:

Approximately? 29.96? I want to see what passes for accuracy over there!

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