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Happy 2007 Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Here is my latest contact information:

my-Oakland-voicemail-number (voicemail)
our-Oakland-cell-phone-number (cell)



My solstice update is below.


  * Careers
    * Evil Empire, Inc.  My company was absorbed by Macrosoft earlier this
      year.  I liked my job and was assured that our work would not change
      after the acquisition and so decided to stay.  The jury is still out
      on whether things are staying the same.  We'll see.
  * Family
    * Oh, brother.  My brother, Chris, flew from New England to visit us
      at the end of March and I took a week off from work.  The highlight
      of his visit was our bicycling to and across the Golden Gate bridge
      from the San Francisco Caltrain station.  We also visited one of the
      few interesting sights in where-I-live, Mount Hamilton Observatory, and
      also Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel near Santa Cruz. See
      http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157600467023373 for
      some exciting photos.
    * Parents visited.  My parents flew from New England to visit us in
      July.  Noelle took that week off and I took a few days off.  The
      highlight was visiting Spirit Rock in Marin County.  See
      http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157600903215426 for
      some photos.  Mostly, it was a relaxed visit, catching up on stuff.
  * Home
    * Bicycle
      * 'Tis but a scratch.  After Noelle found my bicycle to scratch her
        car, we are now forbidden from using the bicycle rack on her car.
        So, an arduous process searching for a better rack ensued, only to
        end in failure.  A hitch-based system turned out to be infeasible;
        a mounted system is still a possibility, but there is still the
        danger of scratching.  The current resolution is to wait until
        either another system is tried or a new car is purchased.
    * Property
      * You've got lost mail.  For the first time in my life, a package I
	had ordered was lost and/or stolen.  Because UPS was unable to
	track it down, I decided to file a claim with my renter's
	insurance.  The item wasn't worth much ($13 + shipping), but I'm
	sorta glad I did file a claim because I found out how unhelpful my
	renter's insurance company was.  Because the claim was never
	followed up on, and because I later discovered (thanks to the
	Ca state insurance commissioner) that this company was
	rated as poor, I decided to change insurance companies.  I went
	with State Farm, despite it having higher premiums, because it
	seems to be in the best shape to handle a real problem (e.g., a
	major earthquake) if it were to occur.
  * Travel
    * The great wet north.  Noelle and I decided to fly to Vancouver,
      B.C., during the 2006 end-of-the-year holidays.  We didn't rent a
      car while there, so all travel was by public transit or cab.  The
      highlight was renting and riding bicycles there, around Stanley
      Park, soon after a destructive storm.  (Sadly, those photos were
      lost during upload.)  Noelle was having mouth pains and it got so
      bad, we decided to see a dentist.  It turned out there was something
      wrong and she had to have an emergency root canal.  Ouch.  We also
      visited Museum of Anthropology at University of B.C.  The Naam
      vegetarian restaurant was one of our staples while we were there
      since it was almost always open and conveniently located off the bus
      line that went by the hotel.  It was fairly cold, but not the
      single-digit temperatures that would be experienced in Boston during
      the same time of the year, and it was mostly clear, 'tho there were
      bouts of rain.  It was the first time I brought a laptop on a trip.
      (It was the old So_ny laptop that I bought for cheap when I got
      laid-off from So_ny.  It has Debian installed and was surprised at
      well it worked out.)  See
      http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157600467021163 for
      some photos.
    * The naturally dry south.  In the hopes of visiting everyone we know
      in Southern Ca, we hit the road mid-December.  First, it was
      Santa Barbara to visit the parental units.  Second, we visited
      Noelle's Boston friend and Noelle's childhood friend in Los Angeles.
      We indulged in vegetarian/vegan restaurants, rented a tandem bicycle
      (quite a challenge to ride!) on the beach in Santa Monica, and
      toured the Getty Museum.  Finally, we climbed the mountain, into the
      cold, and hung out and relaxed with my cousin in Idyllwild.  See
      http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157603457420206 for
      some photos.
  * Money
    * No ties to Boston.  This year, I finally managed to clear out the
      bank accounts I had in Boston.  Free at last.
  * Food
    * The never-ending burrito quest.  We're still going through
      http://burritophile.com .  We've visited a lot of places, but there
      are still a few to try.
  * People
    * Missing persons.  Last solstice message, some messages bounced.  I no
      longer have email addresses for these people:

        Louis Dunne
        Clayton Glad
        Jin Young
        Dave Parker
        Louise Zivnuska
	Tracey Layman (Ingle)
      If you're in contact with any of these people, please tell them that
      I am missing their email addresses.
  * Health
    * Psyche
      * It's 4am; do you know where your kitty is?  Our cat, Dolly, has
	started loudly meowing early in the morning, every morning.  It
	was very annoying and bothersome.  Eventually, I managed to block
	it out and continue sleeping, but it was harder for Noelle.  She
	brought Dolly into the vet and discovered that she was suffering
	from a thyroid problem, causing her to be constantly hungry.  She
	is now on a medication, but continues to meow early in the
	morning, 'though less so.  Despite it being less persistent, she
	still occassionally gets larygitis due to her vocalizations.
    * Teeth
      * Solving the root problem.  Earlier this year, I had my first root
	canal.  I dislike most dental procedures, but this experience was
	particularly abhorrent.  Things were going tolerably during the
	first hour.  However, come the second hour, I started getting very
	sweaty.  They asked if I was hot and I shook my head "no".  The
	dentist couldn't understand it.  About 15 minutes later, I felt
	weird and tried to wave them away, and I sat up and started
	dry-heaving.  I felt horribly nauseous and the dentist suggested I
	come back to finish the procedure.  I did.  Unfortunately, they
	don't offer nitrous oxide.  Instead, they gave me a prescription
	for valium.  I took it an hour before the procedure was to begin,
	but it didn't seem to have any effect.  (I had valium before and
	it had the same non-effect in the past, but they had thought that
	it might have just been a fluke and tried it anyway.).  Despite
	the non-effect, the second visit was a little better, perhaps
	because the session was shorter.  But, because the experience was
	so negative and awful, I decided that I needed to find a dentist
	that offers nitrous oxide.  After a false start, I finally found a
	dentist that does, and he also seems to be knowledgeable and
  * Clothing
    * Last of the really great Birkenstocks.  Noelle finally cajoled me to
      throw away my old Birkenstocks (the same ones that I bought just
      before I drove out with Brian in 1987!).  This forced me to repair
      my other pair of Birkenstocks.  Of course, I needed a back-up pair
      to wear while waiting for the repair.  It was then that I discovered
      that Birkenstock has seriously trimmed their vegetarian line of
      Birkenstocks.  The remaining models are unacceptable to me.  After
      much researching, I discovered some remaining old models and ordered
      those.  I am going to try my best to keep these Birks for as long as
      possible because I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get good
      non-leather shoes again.  Sad.

  * Movies
    * Web, too, point oh.  As with last year, movies not in MovieLens
      (http://movielens.umn.edu) are available via


      And, my Movielens ratings of recent movies continue to be at
      http://tinyurl.com/3xxea .
    * DVDs by mail.  If you'd like to be my Netflix friend, please click on


      And my Netflix queue is always available from http://tinyurl.com/qu8lj
      or via RSS feed from
    * More Michael J Nelson.  Noelle and I are continuing to do Rifftrax
      movies (http://rifftrax.com ).  For those who don't know, Rifftrax is
      Mike Nelson and friends making snide comments during the viewing of a
      movie (like Mystery Science Theater 3000).  My favorites so far have
      been Star Wars Episode II, Eragon, and Spider Man.
  * Books
    * No gods, no masters, lots of books.  Noelle and I managed to make it
      to the anarchist book fair in San Francisco this year.  Mostly, I
      purchased DVDs for gifts and just 1 book ("People or Personnel" by Paul
  * Music
    * And the wall came down.  After discovering that Tower Records was
      closing, Noelle and I went crazy to get good deals and build up our
      music collection.  It was a good opportunity to try listening to
      some new stuff (Mr. Lif (which I didn't care for) and Paris (which
      has some good stuff)).
  * Outdoors
    * Big and stinky.  Noelle and I joined my friend Dale, his s.o.
      Tracy, and Dale's other friends to see the elephant seals at Ano
      Nueva near Santa Cruz earlier this year.  The seals were impressive,
      'tho they didn't smell so good.  The butterflies were scarce,
      unfortunately.  See
      http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157600467021681 for
      some photos.
  * Music
    * Summer Rush.  In the middle of a giant, dusty field in Marysville, we
      again saw Rush in concert.  It was a similar set-up to last year,
      although the songs were all different.  (So were the appliances.  Last
      year, there were washers and dryers; this year, it was rotisserie

  * Computers
    * Hardware
      * PC
        * Linux
	  * Sudden death.  This year, I had 2 computers die.  It's amazing
	    that they lasted this long.  The first to go was my main Linux
	    machine used for reading mail and downloading web sites and my
	    main ssh server.  I had bought this computer in 1997, so it
	    got a good run.  I replaced with a much faster machine (the
	    exact specs were constrained by the computer accessories I
	    already had on hand), a Dell Optiplex GX270 2.8Ghz.  Then, my
	    Windows 98 Dell laptop died; this machine was bought in 2000.
	    Because I have been generally been happy with Dell, and
	    because they recently started selling machines with Linux
	    preinstalled, I decided to to buy a Dell Inspiron 1420N with
	    Debian-based Ubuntu installed.  I am pretty satisfied with it
	    so far.  All the Linuxes that I run are now Debian or
	    Debian-based.  And, with these changes, ironically, the only
	    Macrosoft product that I still use at home is Internet
	    Explorer (unfortunately).  This bodes poorly for Macrosoft...
	  * Not that DSL.  I decided to change from running colinux under
	    Windows to go to Damn Small Linux (DSL).  I bought the USB
	    flash drive with DSL preinstalled.  Using QEMU, I can run Linux
	    under Windows, and it's also portable and contains all my personal
	    scripts and programs.  Admittedly, it's a little slow and it's
	    a bit tricky to set up, but I have been happy with it so far.
	    At the very least, it works fine under both XP and Vista and is
	    quite stable.
        * Windows
	  * This is no apex.  We were forced to upgrade our laptops to Vista.
	    I suspect that we are being used as a large, glorified quality
	    assurance (QA) pool.  It was hell.  There were all sorts of
	    warnings about sharing the disk when I burned the ISO image onto
	    the DVD, but I now realize that I wouldn't give this DVD to my
	    worst enemy.  In any case, it first started with my inability to
	    access my EFS (encrypted) files.

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