Friday, March 31, 2006

Put Down Your Pen

At one time I could derive these rules from first principles. Now I can't even remember the rules...

Krisswampthing knew the answer:

x= 10(Sin 48°)⁄(sin63°)


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Test Your Trigonometry

I learnt trigonometry 30 years ago when I was in the 4th Form, and now I have a trig test on Tuesday. The test at work is for a job opening in the Measure and Tolerances Department.

Here's a sample question: find x

If I do well on the test I'll take a second practical test which will involve micrometers, rulers, gauges and whatever else Toyota uses to measure the tolerances on their cars.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The job What I Do

When I was a boy, there was a popular comedy team called Morecambe and Wise. Ernie Wise was the little one. He had pretensions of being a writer, and often talked about "the play what I wrote".

So the job what I do is one of the better jobs in the factory. The benefits and retirement are good, my coworkers are great, and we're very well paid for unskilled labour. But that doesn't make it easy to get up at 4am, drive 45 miles, then work a 9 hour shift plus 2 Saturdays per month. That's my complaint.

I'd be much happier getting up at 7am and riding the streetcar to work here in the city. I'd have to take a big pay cut. I'm thinking about doing it.

Finding a good job here will be a challenge because San Francisco is not a working class town. There is no industrial 'base' in SF. I will have to be inventive.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Richard Riemerschmid Chair

While you're at the de Young Museum, take a look at this chair from the Arts and crafts exhibit.

Notice the triangulation offered by the curved diagonal. This serves to strengthen all four legs and the back. And by curving the wood, the seat remains a more 'open' area.

Made in 1899 from walnut.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

William Morris at the de Young Museum

From now until June 18th there is an exhibition of Arts and Crafts Movement furniture at the de Young.

The exhibit is divided geographically into Britain, Europe, US, Japan. To me, the British section was the most interesting because of William Morris and art critic John Ruskin (his sex life alone makes for interesting reading).

Morris and Ruskin kick started the Arts and Crafts movement which then spread to other industrialised countries (In the 1930's The Bauhaus school brings 'Form follows Function' design into the modern age. But this exhibit is not about the Bauhaus). It's all about the response to the shoddy design of products during the industrial revolution. Some of the early furniture might strike us as overly decorative, and we might confuse some of the later work with Art Deco design. But for the 19th century, this was cutting edge.

Click on the picture of the Red House for more about William Morris.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Photo Booth

Rocky and Aileen in a Photo Booth at "The Knockout" in the Mission.


Friday, March 24, 2006

GM Branding

GM is switching from the Opel to Chevrolet brand name in India. More proof that GM is in a marketing mess and is juggling too many brand names (Vauxhall, Holden, Pontiac, Buick ...). Any other car maker faced with a poor image or slack sales would improve their product and establish a good image for their cars over many years (cf Audi in America).

I would guess that Indians are more eurocentric, and would prefer a European brand to an American brand. Since they don't have a long history of 'car-culture', the Chevy name means nothing to them.

But really, I think it's better to keep it honest and call the car a Daewoo. The same goes for Europe, where this car is sold as a Chevrolet Kalos.

Thanks Jalopnik

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Totally Wired

The homeowners in my little area (6th Avenue and Hugo) agreed to tax themselves so that the utility wires could go underground. The whole process has taken about two years, and was completed when the utility poles were pulled up a few months ago.

I miss those old wooden poles covered in staples from decades of fliers advertising garage sales and political rallies. I miss looking down from my front window at the lattice of wires connecting my building to houses across the street.

Old utility poles and wires are becoming quaint. Lets save our money and leave them in place.

Photo by Rocky Arroyo
Thanks Metroblog SF
Categories:Architecture San Francisco

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Vintage Car Racing in Golden Gate Park

This may be old news to you, but I just heard about it: The San Francisco Vintage Grand Prix is scheduled for October 1, 2006! The race will follow the same course used in the 1950's.

I was able to find a little bit about the race on the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department website, and piece together the race course from there:

I'm not concerned about the safety of vintage street racing because some of these cars will be worth $1M+, so no one is going to make any risky passing moves, and (almost) everyone will be driving within 9/10ths of their ability.

The race course will be on the less used west end of the park where noise won't be so much of a problem.

Categories:Cars San Francisco

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Sometimes a single picture reveals a complete idea worth stealing: Make a chandelier from Ikea anglepoise lamps. While this chandelier definitely needs a large room with high ceilings, the concept could be scaled down for smaller rooms.

Thanks Gizmodo

Categories:Furniture Design

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's All Coming to an End

Today I looked at the job I've been offered at NUMMI. I stood at the end of the Toyota Tacoma production line and watched QC inspection at work. The workers rotate between six jobs, and none of the jobs looked too hard. In fact, Cathy (whom I worked with in truck assembly 12 years ago) was wearing a thick jacket. In all the years I've worked at this factory, I've never worn anything more than a T-shirt, and I'd still be sweating. Another sign that this might be a good job is that all six workers were women.

My days on disability are coming to an end.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wild West

Wild West
Originally uploaded by treough.
This is Main Street Mendicino. This must be what small towns in California looked like in the 19th century.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Originally uploaded by treough.
Last night at 3am the fire siren sounded and Lani woke up with "what the hell is that?". Just a late night emergency call to members of the voluntary fire brigade, but your instinct says 'duck and cover'.

Tonight we ate at The Moose Cafe. Lani had the duck, and as is my habit, I had the lamb. Lamb in America is very good. We had to wait an hour for a table so we went to the Mendocino Hotel and had drinks while we relaxed in wing-back chairs. A very pleasant evening!

Friday, March 17, 2006


Originally uploaded by treough.
Lani and I are spending the weekend in Mendocino at the Sweetwater Inn. We reserved Sears Tower cottage, which has an upstairs bedroom, and then a water tank above that to provide water preasure to this and other cottages.

Neither of us had been to Ukiah before, and we stopped for lunch at the Ukiah Brewing Company. Their stout is the best I've had, and the 'pulled pork' sandwich was very good! Ukiah is a great little town.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pedestrian Safety II

Relatives visiting from GB and NZ like to spend the day exploring the city on foot. SF is small enough that with a comfortable pair of walking shoes you can do that.

But I worry when I see tourists walking on the shoulder of Alexander Ave. from Vista Point (north end of the GG Bridge) down into Sausalito. Cars travel down there at 45mph. It's not a safe or pleasant walk. The National Park Service should post signs with a map of the pedestrian route through Fort Baker and the Discovery museum. That's a nice walk with great views of the entire bay.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pedestrian Safety

By California standards SF is a good place to be a pedestrian. Pedestrians have the right-of-way, and drivers must stop to let them pass, whether or not the pedestrians are obeying the road rules. There are footpaths everywhere in the city, and walking trails in Golden Gate Park and the Presidio.

So I was upset to learn that a jogger was hit by a car last Thursday morning in the Presidio. The jogger was running on the street. As I noted here, it is now possible to walk/run/mountainbike through the Presidio without being on any roads or near any traffic. I don't want to blame the victim, and I allow that by running on the street, rather than a trail, a person is safer from attack/mugging. I just want to point out that there are options.

The driver gave the victim no options. After striking her he/she didn't stop.

Categories:San Francisco

Monday, March 13, 2006

How to Eat Marmite

Retrothing has this article about a new Marmite container (I'm pretty sure it's been photoshopped). What's interesting, though, is the comments which include a good explanation of how to eat Marmite:

"The trick is that you want to butter up your toast and then apply only the thinnest veneer of Marmite to the top. The two should intertwine on top of the toast so that it's hard to tell where the butter ends and where the Marmite begins."

Well put.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

SF Real Estate

From time to time Lani and I like to look at apartments in preparation for when we're ready to buy. Today we viewed an apartment in the San Francisco neighborhood called the Outer Richmond.

An Edwardian two bedroom, one bathroom TIC for $630,000. Huge double parlor and large gas kitchen with walk-in pantry, laundry room, large closets, hardwood floors, garage and storage room. At 1200 sq.ft. this place is bigger than the average SF apartment, and we really liked it. The price is right, but this is not a good time for us to buy.

Categories:San Francisco Movies

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Intel iMac

I visited the Apple store to shop for a replacement for my iMac G4. The 17" iMac would probably be the best value for me. It has great performance, built in webcam/WiFi/Bluetooth and starts at just $1300. But I wasn't impressed with the cabinet design. It tilts but doesn't rotate, and doesn't have the design flair of the G4. I'm going to try and wait until the next redesign before I buy. And by that time all OS X applications will have been rewritten for the Intel processor.


Friday, March 10, 2006

SF Maritime Museum

Today I rode the N-Judah to the Embarcadero, and walked across to the Ferry building to catch one of the vintage streetcars on the 'F' Line to get to Fishermans Wharf. From the end of the 'F' line I walked 3 blocks to the Maritime Museum at Polk and Beach street. The museum is in a streamlined Art Deco building overlooking Aquatic Park. From there I walked up to North Point, and took the 47 Bus down Van Ness Avenue to Market Street, where I got back on the N-Judah for the trip home. Public transportation is great!

The museum is small but free, and worth the visit if you're in the area. They have some great panoramic photos of SF in 1851, and lots of information on sailing ships.

Categories:San Francisco

Thursday, March 09, 2006


In the old days NZ hospitals gave this beer to their male patients. And my great uncle and aunt in Maidenhead (just west of London) would each drink one in the evening for their health. I can't remember which version of Guinness they drank, but I prefer Extra Stout.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ford Model T

When I was a boy, a friend who lived on a farm had one of these. To make it faster he removed the body, and used it to practice slides and handbrake turns.

First thing I noticed about this car(apart from that color) was there's no driver's side door. The body has a ridge where the door opening would be, but no door. I think that back in those days the driver would enter and exit the car from the curb side through the passenger's door. That also explains why so many early American cars are RHD: The driver could just step from the right seat onto the sidewalk.

Click on the image for the QuickTime movie (It's a very small file, so it should load quickly).

Categories:Cars Movies

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Organized Audio

This single gadget lets you control headphone volume (3.5 and 2.5 mm plugs) and switch between headphones, speakers and microphone without unplugging anything (good for Skype or Gismo calls).

What this means for the Treo is that I can drop it into the Seidio cradle on my night stand and listen to podcasts through external speakers or headphones with the push of a button, and control the volume while the Treo is 'off'.

ThinkGeek has it.


Monday, March 06, 2006

The Customer is Always Right

When a self-interested salesman cold-calls me on Sunday evening, or anytime, I feel indignant. My standard telephone technique is to say "I'm not interested, please don't call again", then hang up the receiver. Of course my phone number is on a "do not call" list which eliminates most of these calls, but it doesn't stop calls from companies and organizations to whom I may have made inquiries, or donations. Charities are easy enough to politely deflect. I just express my support and wish them luck. But a commercial enterprise calling me at home to get my money and boost there sales, profits and commissions... well that's another matter. I give these greedy capitalists a fraction of the time I have for a homeless person begging for money.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Create a Hidden Room

This idea is so cool I might steal it! Hide a room by converting a door into a built-in bookcase. Why? For whimsical fun.

The manufactures website has great demonstration videos with dreamy music. They sell kits, but it would look more convincing if you design and build it yourself to match the style of your home.

Thanks Redferret


Saturday, March 04, 2006

City Optix Sale

City Optix has these sales once a year at each of there 2 locations. This sale starts today at their Chestnut Street store.
The prices are so good, that I buy the frames myself, and have my insurance pay just for the exam and lens. If you shop this week you'll miss the crowds that show up when the newspaper advertisements come out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Le Corbusier Chaise Longue

Yesterday I swung by Malik at 555 Pacific to try the LC4 for comfort and quality. I thought it was good on both counts, so I'll have to compare it to the DWR version LC4, which sells for $2200 (manufactured by Cassina in Italy under license from the Le Corbusier Foundation). If I can't tell the difference, I might buy the cheaper version here.

Malik also has the Rietveld Zig-Zag chair, which was surprisingly sturdy. And the excellent Eames chair.

Next door at Vitra, these cardboard chairs caught me attention.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Happy Donuts

Happy Donuts
Originally uploaded by treough.
Across from PacBell/SBC/ATT baseball park at the corner of 3rd and King is Happy Donuts, the only building I recognize from when I worked in this area 15 years ago. After my medical appointment I popped in for a snack before heading home on the N-Judah. This donut shop is still as I remember, just fewer homeless people.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

American Luxury Cars on Display

I don't spend much time around Van Ness Avenue and Washington, so this showroom/museum may have been here a while, but I just noticed it today. This building was a car dealership, but now it's used by the Academy of Art College. The showroom has Packards, Cadillacs, at least one Cord, and other cars I couldn't make out. I was told the collection is owned by Richard A. Stephens, the past President and 'owner' of the Academy of Art, and it is not open to the public.

Categories:Cars San Francisco