Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Longest New Year's Eve

The Longest New Year's Eve
Originally uploaded by treough.
Goodbye Ohio.

We're travelling home westward across 3 time zones. Our New Year's Eve will be 27 hours long.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by treough.
Lani graduated from Ohio State University in history. Today we're walking around campus. A lot of substantial red brick buildings and this new Architecture Dept building. The shell of the building is 'tiled' with marble squares that are beveled to hide the gaps between them. They appear to overlap like tiles on a roof. The effect works well from more than a few feet away.

One corner of the building is supported on simple cement pilars while marble columns are used to show different styles of classical columns.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood
Originally uploaded by treough.
The movie "Capote" documents the research work Truman Capote and Harper Lee did in Kansas for this book, so I know how painstakingly complete and accurate "In Cold Blood" is. Capote's examination of the disturbed mind of a mass killler is very disturbing to me.

Perry Smith turns his desire to be an independent man into an anti-social loathing for everyone 'normal'. His few 'friends' are those men who pretend to take him seriously so as to flatter him but then use him for their own ends.

Like all weak men he seeks the approval of others. But he doesn't trust others and so his need for approval is never met. Perry is a lone wolf, and the lone wolf belongs in the wild.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

XM Radio

XM Radio
Originally uploaded by treough.
Lani and I bought Cindy an XM radio. We comparison shopped, and Delphi (the General Motors parts maker) had the best design!

You can pause or replay live radio for up to 30 minutes. It has a built-in FM transmitter, remote control and a stock ticker. I'm hooking the receiver up to her home stereo, but the head unit can be moved to another docking station set up in the kitchen. Over 100 channels including BBC. Nice.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by treough.
Cindy drove us to Dayton today to see the Treasures of Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute. Very good show. But it's a dreary drive across flat farmland from Columbus to get there. The freeway was lined with franchise food chains, motels and warehouses. They treat the land here like dirt.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Car Culture

Originally uploaded by treough.
I just stepped outside to take a morning walk, and it's very cold. There's a bit of white left on the ground where snow plows have piled it up. I came back inside, not because of the cold, but because this housing developement doesn't have sidewalks. Sometimes, without a car, I feel like a second class citizen.

It's night now, and we've been at Easton Mall for dinner. We went to Barnes And Noble to buy books. I bought "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. We saw the movie "Capote" last week and enjoyed it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio
Originally uploaded by treough.
We're staying in Columbus with Lani's sister Cindy. Cindy has a new Ranch-Condo in Gahanna. It's quiet,spacious and has a finished basement, garage, sunroom, deck, high ceilings, and hardwood floors. Very comfortable.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

SF to Chicago

SF to Chicago
Originally uploaded by treough.
SuperShuttle picket us up from home at 4am and dropped us off at the United termal at SFO. Baggage check and security went quickly, and we're now waiting for our our Chicago flight to board. We're bracing ourselves for the 4 hour flight that should be jam packed.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Grassroots Motorsports

This magazine is a source of no-nonsense car tuning advice for AutoX and Roadracing. One of their current projects is an H-stock auto-X Mini Cooper. It's been hard to find good suspension tuning advice for these cars because it's not until after 4 years of production that a car can compete in the SCCA Improved Touring class that allows suspension modifications. So I can't yet find any info on spring rates. However, this article gave recommended toe settings, which is a big help ( Don't use these settings on the street unless you're prepared for your car to over-steer ).

Blog Movies

After publishing yesterdays blog I noticed the mini movie was very slow to load. I opened the movie it in a new window and did some web browsing while I waited for it to start, which was about a minute! I'm disappointed. I've kept these files very small so that those of us with a dial-up connection can see them. I think the Ourmedia server might be swamped with holiday season downloads.

In the meantime, open the movie in a new window (or tab) and do something else. If it doesn't start in 1 minute, wait longer...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cars Dawydiak

Cars Dawydiak do beautiful restoration work, and they have this showroom downstairs. About 15 years ago they called me to replace the windshield on a Saab. While I was there I took a good look around their repair shop. It's very clean and well organized. The atmosphere was calm, relaxed and professional. I would definitely bring a car here for restoration.

Another time I went there to deliver a radiator cap for an E-type Jag. The Mechanic pressure tested the cap and sent me back to my shop for another one. It wasn't good enough for him to use on this car.

Cars are viewed by appointment only.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

MTA Strike

Photos:Sam Hollenshead

I support the 33,700 members of TWU Local 100, and I urge the TWU International to backup their members in the face of court injunctions and fines.

Support from the International can end this strike now. Michael O'Brien, show your faith in the workers and the power of Union Solidarity.

These workers are fighting "broadbanding" or job combinations that would result in one-man crews on some subway lines. The MTA also seeks to cut wages, medical and pension plans for new hires under a "productivity drive".

The workers of local 100 have voted to resist these assaults on their working conditions and benefits for new hires by withdrawing their labor. The Mayor retaliated by obtaining a court injunction under the Taylor Law, which bars strikes by city employees.

Meanwhile, the MTA is running a $1 billion budget surplus.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy

Growing up in NZ, there were no Jews or Chinese in my rural town. But on TV, Jews were doctors and lawyers, and Chinese were wise and all-knowing. That began my fascination. To me they seemed to be an elite group with much in common.

So here's a cool non-Christian option for 12/25: Share your disbelief with others by listening to Jewish comedy in a Chinese restaurant!

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Favourite Podcasts

Before there was podcasting I subscribed to Audible. But because there's so much free audio content I canceled Audible, and this is what I'm listening to:

  • The Dawn and Drew Show--This is what I listen to first. DND make me feel like I'm friends with the popular kids. I feel flattered to be listening to their conversation. Dawn is a foul-mouthed young women, and Drew is the straight guy. They make a great team. (I'll skip an episode if either Dawn or Drew is missing)
  • The Naked Scientists--a BBC call-in radio show
  • Engadget Podcast--From the same people that bring us the Engadget Blog.
  • Slate Magazine--A 5 minute podcast consisting of an article read from
  • Answer Bitch--Hollywood Q&A. See here
  • Inside Mac Radio--Apple news

Sunday, December 18, 2005

First Movie using New Camcorder

It's been raining hard today, so we've stayed inside watching TV, and I've been playing with the cats and making my first mini movie with my new camcorder. With this short movie I was able to practice overlapping each clip and have the music fade in at the start and out at the end.

I used QuickTime to create a smaller file size, and then posted the movie to Ourmedia. Click on the image to view.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Great idea! Convert a long URL to something more manageable. The small URL is permanent, but it unfolds to the full URL when your browser opens.


ahhh, that's better.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friends of the Urban Forest

When I was a child my father bought a live potted tree for the holidays, and then planted it in the garden in January. That tree thrived and grew to be over 20 feet high. It's still there. I think it's a Douglas Fur.

Now most of us urban dwellers don't have anywhere to legally plant a tree, but Friends of the Urban Forest will provide the tree and then plant it for you in SF after the holidays.

FUF will also come to your neighbourhood and line your street with trees. They did this here on Hugo St a few years ago. I don't know how a tree can grow in sand, but they're growing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Lani bought me a Samsung SC-D453 digital camcorder, and it arrived in yesterdays mail. I'm delighted with it!

So today I took the streetcar downtown to the Apple store for a class on iMovie and iDVD (From the Powell St. Station you can walk up the stairs straight into the store).

I am in awe of iMovie and iDVD! These applications have all the power most of us will ever need to edit our movies and create DVDs with custom menus. If you're thinking of using iMovie or if you already use it, take this free class to accelerate your learning. If I hadn't taken this class I wouldn't know what iMovie was capable of.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Amazing Fantasy comic book shop around the corner gets 2000AD 4 weeks after it comes out in the UK, so I picked up Prog 1463, 1464 and the Winter Special. $4 a pop.

I haven't read it since I was a kid, and not much has changed. "Rogue Trooper" and "Judge Dredd" are still in the magazine, but "Strontium Dog" is sadly missing. There's different art and script, but I notice Tom Frame still does the DD lettering.

DD has been called the Dirty Harry of comic books. Cop/Judge/Executioner in one. He gets things done!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

National Auto Sport Association

Twelve years ago I drove my Mazda 323 at an open track event at Sears Point Raceway sanctioned by the Daly City Capri Club. This was my first time on a race track, but I'd done a lot of AutoX events so I felt confident. Back then the only safety equipment we needed was a helmet!

My car had .125 inch toe-out front and rear, so I was careful not to let-up on the gas through the corners. The Yokahama 008R tyres were very forgiving and and I learned a lot about my car's handling. Each session was limited to 20 minutes, so I got through the day without any trouble from overheating brakes.

How things change; now that sanctioning body is called NASA, and they're getting to be as big as SCCA. So I was delighted to see Track Masters has filled the gap. Go here to drive your street car at a race track.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Church for a House

The Christian God used his slaves to build some impressive buildings over the last 2000 years. And now due to His increasing unpopularity these buildings are for sale to the public. The only catch is you have to like open plan living, and know how to instal a kitchen and bathroom. My favorite churches are those non-threatening ye olde stone Anglican/CofE/Episcopalian buildings.
They have that charming English village look. Like this home conversion in Australia:

The challenge will be to landscape the front yard to dissuade visitors on Sunday.

Thanks Cool Hunter and Idea Awards

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Samsung SC-D453 Camcorder

I've put off buying a camcorder because it's the kind of expensive gizmo I might use once then store in the back of the closet. And I'm hard on my gadgets, and a camcorder is a bit delicate for my rough ways.

But now I have a cheap (but good) DV camcorder on the way. It was on sale at for $200 after rebate. This will be perfect to mount on my bicycle to make travel logs of the city.

I use to host my movies.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rietveld Chair Complete

The chair looks stunning! And my total cost was $120. Well under the $150 estimate:

  • "How to Construct Rietveld Furniture" $30
  • Wood cut to size $50
  • Screws, nails, glue, sandpaper $10
  • Paint and brushes $30
Email me for the plans.

I'll be starting work on the Reynolds Desk soon. I priced the desktop surface (actually a door) at only $20 from Home Depot. The other materials should be about $50. First I need to get the door home (which is not going to be easy with the Mini), then measure it for the legs. The biggest design challenge will be making it very solid yet light. To do this I'll make the door a stressed member.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Consumerist

Consumer Reports is your best source for product info, and Froogle will help you find the best price. But what do you do after you get screwed by Fry's?

Tell it to these guys. They'll write it up, everyone will share your rage, and your anger will dissolve.

Oh, and Joel Johnson(X-Gizmodo) is writing for them!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Favorite MTB Tire

FedEx just delivered my new Kenda Klimax Lite mountain bike tires, so I can ride again! These tires are only 345 grams and measure in at 26/195 (actually 26/175). I pump them up to 80 psi for riding on the easy hard-packed clay surfaces on the Marin Headland trails. I bought two of them because the sidewalls are thin and rip easily on sharp rocks.

That's what happened to me on Friday riding down the Miwok Trail to Tennessee Valley Road. I patched the tube and stuck a folded $1 bill inside the tire to stop the tube from bulging out. It worked, so I took a shortcut home through Sausalito in case I had more trouble.

Click on MTB Review for more opinions on these tires.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moving at the Speed of Light Rail

My doctor's office is across the street from SBC Park, home of the Giants. To get there I walk up the street from our flat and catch the N-Judah. Twenty minutes later I'm in the waiting room.

As the streetcar traveled along The Embarcadero I took this Treo movie.

I worked in this area 15 years ago. Back then King Street (next to CalTrains) was paved with bricks. There was an RV Park and a bunch of warehouses. Now all I recognize is the Lefty O'Doul draw bridge and the donut shop at 3rd and King.

But I like all the new development because it's in-fill rather than sprawl. Rincon Hill has many new condominium tower blocks, and more to come. All the buildings are substantial, and this new neighborhood has character.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Laptop PCMCIA Storage Space

No sooner did I learn to say P-C-M-C-I-A, then everyone agreed to call it a PC card. Anyway, StashCard came up with this great idea to turn your empty PC card slot into a wee storage tray.

Thank you Engadget.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dim Sum at Ton Kiang

Lani says Ton Kiang on Geary Blvd. is the best place in SF for Dim Sum, and others agree. We had a great time.

That's Pauline showing off her new hairstyle. Cute!

Click on the Quicktime movie for a quick spin around the table on the Lazy Susan. (This is my first effort at adding music to video, so the music comes in late and loud. I'm learning...)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rietveld Chair Almost Finished

The R&B chair is nearing completion, so I'm starting to think of my next furniture project.

At the top of my list of needs is a wider desk to better organize my expanding list of gadgets and computer accessories.

For the top surface of the desk I'll use a door because it's the perfect size, weight, strength and cost. The legs will borrow features from the chair. I'll use plywood to resist shearing forces. My goal will be to keep the desk light, portable, solid, cheap and easy to build. It will be called the Reynolds desk, and plans will be available. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Craigslist is a region specific online community. Their world HQ is near our house.

We've watched the list expand over the years to include more US cities and Europe/Asia. It's good to know this resource is available where ever we go.

We've been using Craigslist for years to sell or giveaway items we no longer use. My partner looks at San Francisco real-estate, and I look for Mini parts (No, not 'Lost and Found'. It is made in Britain, but parts aren't falling off yet).

On craigslist we can restrict our search to just our neighborhood. Try that on eBay! This is great if you need an armchair and don't have a truck to move it.

So it was with great interest that we went to see 24 Hours On Craigslist at the Red Vic on Haight Street. The producers interview Bay Area people who replied to a List posting asking for participants.
Now, CL is not squeaky clean. There are forums for fetishes and personal services. Some people are selling futons, while others are looking to meet that special someone with that special physical attribute. One woman had six baby carriages for sale because she'd kept trying to buy the perfect one. An unemployed middle-aged man living with his mother posted an ad for a 275lb girlfriend. This documentary begs you to judge these people. We found them likable!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Palm Powered Up Awards

Palm Source (aka Access) is accepting nominations for the Powered Up Awards.
I've nominated my favourite free applications:

  • Area Code by Intrepidsoftware
  • ArseLexis iPedia
  • TCPMP The Core Pocket Media Player
  • KMaps by
  • AutoOff by Juergen Schwister
  • KBlightsOff from
  • LEDOff by treoware
Vote here

Timberland Sale

Timberland sells good quality practical clothing, and they kindly sent me this 40% off savings offer that I'd like to share with you. Sale is this weekend.