Happy Winter Solstice! Here is my latest contact information: Robert . where-I-live our-San-Jose-phone-number (voicemail) our-San-Jose-phone-number our-Oakland-cell-phone-number (cell) http://dummy.us.eu.org/robert http://dummy.us.eu.org/robert My solstice update is below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ News Lifestyle * Home * No slouch potato. I finally executed my plan to move the bulk of our boxed stuff in our dining room/computers area into the basement to make room for a couch. (As it turns out, we found a couch on the sidewalk a few days within my completion, which was convenient. Yet more used furniture.) * Pets * Not a drop to drink. A meeting was had between my backpack and the cat's drinking water. The result of this union was a very wet appointment book with a number of entries forever lost to history. Thus, this year's solstice message may be missing important details. * Transportation * Car * Quiet, shiny, and red. Since the VW Jetta was dying, Noelle bought a new Toyota Prius this year. She used some of her inheritance to buy it. Since she has had to give up riding her bicycle due to a neck problem she developed this year, it has turned out to be a useful form of transportation. See http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157604486460809/ * No help at all. I was contacted by someone to try carpooling. (I had forgotten that I had signed up for this.) The experiment lasted only one week. It turned out that, besides getting almost no exercise, it saved me very little time in getting to work, and ended up slowing down the driver. * Property * Be prepared. I attended a 5-week CERT (Community Emergency Response Team -- SJ Prepared!) course in September and October. I only signed up to know how to deal with a major earthquake, but they provide you with a whole lot more training -- probably more than I can ever use or will want to use. * Utter non-cooperation. Our efforts to assemble some people for a where-I-live-based cohousing project have thus far fallen on deaf ears. Our monthly meetings are woefully underattended. It's probably partially the economy, but I think there are motivational problems within the city limits of where-I-live. * Travel * The medium is the massage. We went to a massage workshop in Esalen in April. 'Though we learned a lot, I really think it was an excuse for Noelle to relax in the hot tubs. Lots of relaxing and lots of yummy vegetarian food. See http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157605255761741/ * Not so fast times. Noelle and I went down to Santa Barbara in early August for Noelle's high school reunion. It was the first long drive in Noelle's car. Although the reunion was a bit dull for me, the car performed adequately. See http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157606544169382/ * The low road. We boarded the Coast Starlight Amtrak train in San for the 18 hour trip to Portland. Noelle wanted to experience the train. She elected to book a Superliner Bedroom, which includes 2 twin-sized (or sub-twin-sized, IMHO) beds, a shower (which we never tried), and a bathroom (which was useful). There were 3 motivating factors for the trip: Noelle's friend Liza, Noelle's cousin, and Evergreen. Our plan was to (1) stay at Liza's place for a few days and visit Noelle's cousin, (2) drive up to Olympia to see Evergreen, and then (3) return to Portland for more futzing around. There were a few kinks in the plan. The first part was fine ('tho not having a car in the 'burbs was a bit stifling). The second part started out well (we visited Mt. St. Helens on the way to Oly), but, after visiting Evergreen, we soon ran out of things to do with in Olympia (we drove to the Pacific coast in desperation). The third part had a surprising twist; we had to find a hotel to stay at since Liza had an unexpected visitor. And visits to her cousin and his family were complicated by medical issues. Anyway, the pictures can be found at http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157608360589786/ * 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 Bruce Moreland If you're in contact with any of these people, please tell them that I am missing their email addresses. * Health * What's up? My benign positional vertigo (BPV) came back with a vengeance earlier this year. It was a challenge to ride my bike but I forced myself to do it. Eventually, I had the canalith repositioning procedure in April which I think fixed it (it wasn't clear at first and I have trepidations declaring myself "cured"). * Clothing * More Birkenstock woes. I found out that Birkenstock now makes no vegetarian (non-leather) sandals. I broke down and bought some Tevas (one of the few brand-name vegan sandals). (They are surprisingly comfortable, as it turns out. So, the choice wasn't too bad.) Entertainment * Movies * Web, too, point oh. As with last year, movies not in MovieLens (http://movielens.umn.edu) are available via http://wikilens.org/wiki.php/robertb/MovieRatings?show_rated_by_active=0 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 http://www.netflix.com/BeMyFriend/PkvARh1w2ZXNcwhbyLjZ And my Netflix queue is always available from http://tinyurl.com/qu8lj or via RSS feed from http://rss.netflix.com/QueueRSS?id=P8598597045281752300300559819027949 * 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 are still Star Wars Episode II, Eragon, and Spider Man, but also Star Wars Holiday Special. * Television * Not in Movielens. We've been watching some shows via Netflix, but I was most impressed by "30 Days: Season 2". Other shows we've been watching have been "Foyle's War", "The Wire", and "MI-5". We've stopped watching "Scrubs" since there were too many children. * Spoken word * The third Reich. We saw Robert Reich. It was the third time I saw him (once in Boston, once in , and this time in Cupertino). This time, he debated Newt Gingrich. Of course, Robert Reich was very funny and good. Newt...well... * Music * We've got the funk. Michael Franti finally came to the south bay (Santa Clara University). The auditorium was a little funky and, despite wearing earplugs, I still had ringing in my ears. It was during the week and was too tired to really enjoy it, but I'm glad we went. * Theater * The lack of silence was deafening. We got to see the San Francisco Mime Troupe this year after a failed attempt last year. We saw them in a park in Santa Cruz. It was enjoyable and thought-provoking, as usual. * Why split hairs? Along with a couple of other childfree couples, we saw our first where-I-live Repertory play: Splitting Infinity. Needless to say, it concerned physics, but was also about religion. * Social * A positive pollution contribution. We had 2 BBQ parties over the summer. Some people I hadn't seen in a very long time. Others I may never see again. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. See http://flickr.com/photos/noelle/sets/72157605874131391/ Politics/Society * Politics * Never a wasted vote. My gal, Cynthia McKinney, didn't win the presidential election, needless to say. And a lot of my Green Party candidates didn't win, unfortunately. I was happy that Prop 4 (Parental Notification Initiative) was defeated. I was sad that Prop 8 was passed (Same-Sex Marriage), not because it denies marriage to gays/lesbians, but because it reveals how difficult it will be to end marriage as a government-sanctioned benefit. Technology * Internet * It's like being there. I signed up for a virtual private service (VPS) to host my domain (it's more of a virtual domain) dummy.us.eu.org in an effort to conserve the electricity my home server was using. (Actually, my home server is still running and probably won't get rid of it until next year.) The provider is quantact.com (in Santa Rosa) and I decided upon Debian 4.0 (etch). I use key-based-only ssh for remote access, lokkit for the firewall, thttpd for the web server, exim for the mail server, and dovecot for POP3 access (CRAM-MD5 is used to prevent password sniffing).