Archive for March, 2010

Protected: Hang gliding and priorities

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Locks have small parts

Locks are a clever mechanical trick. Brilliant scientists are often able to figure out just how they work, even without seeing their innards.

Well, when my key stuck in a small lock in my possession, I ended up taking it apart to get the key out. Then, I tried to put it back together. After all, a clever engineer could do it, right?

The good news is that I figured out how it works and what all the bits do: I could put it back together!

The bad news is that I lost some parts, making reassembling it rather difficult.

The conclusion is that I’m a clever enough engineer, just a crappy technician.


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Managing mailing list subscriptions

I’m feeling comedic. Also, Google Groups recently started ending emails with, “To unsubscribe from this group, email google_groups….”

I’d rather unsubscribe in more creative ways. To unsubscribe from this group:

  1. kick a puppy.
  2. write “unsubscribe” on your chest and flash the Google Street View van.
  3. moon the Google Street View van. No writing is required.
  4. burn a hair from the head of a virgin under the darkness of the new moon. The owner of the hair will then receive the emails meant for you.
  5. click your heels three times and say, “There’s nowhere like real life.”
  6. teach a child to read and write, then assign them to manage your group subscription.
  7. punch the computer so hard the email bounces.
  8. sneak into the Google cafeteria and steal a free lunch.
  9. post endless rants to this group until everyone ignores and avoids it.


Attempted bicycle theft

Today, I found my bicycle upside-down, with the wheels taken off… but still there, chained to the bike rack.

Because I had a busy day and went into SF last night straight from campus, I left my bicycle at the downtown Berkeley BART station, right in the heart of Berkeley. I locked it up thoroughly, with my U-lock through the frame and helmet, and a cable lock through both the frame and the wheels.

When I found the bicycle, the U-lock and helmet were missing, and the wheels were taken off, but still there. I have no idea how they removed the U-lock; it’s possible that I didn’t lock it properly. They apparently bashed the cable lock with a brick, but that wasn’t highly effective, so they couldn’t get any of my precious bicycle.

The really funny thing was that all I really lost was the lock and helmet. Most of the cost of the replacement was the new lock: You know things are upside-down when all you lose is the lock itself!

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DJ skills

I would like to be able to DJ for blues dance events. I have taken the first steps, and now I have an appreciation for the music and the beginnings of a collection. However, my knowledge of the music is not as broad as I would like–I know a few songs that I really love, but I don’t have enough music to fill more than about a half hour. It’d be a good half hour, though!

I also don’t have the interpersonal skills needed. In order to be a useful DJ, you have to be able to read the reactions of the room. I haven’t put much effort into feeling a group’s mood, and I’m prone to be more sensitive to negative energy than positive energy, so I’m not sure I could redirect things well. I’d like to learn, but I don’t know how.

So, maybe after another couple years of dancing I’ll have the music and the talents for DJing. Until then, I’ll just appreciate those who already do.


Leave a Comment sounds like a good idea. For $12/month, you get 24 songs per month, in DRM-free MP3 format. That’s half the price of Amazon or iTunes. The selection isn’t infinite, but it’s pretty good, and you know that if the service takes off, it’ll grow.

However, there’s one catch, and depending on your perspective, it’s either minor or really annoying. Those 24 songs per month–if you don’t pick them, they go away. They don’t advertise that much, and they don’t provide automatic warnings or anything to remind you that they’re about to take away what you already paid for.

From one perspective, who cares? If I’m careful, it’ll never be an issue.

On the other hand, that means I’m signing up for music plus eternal vigilance. They’re clearly out to screw you, and a bit of care will avoid it. But I don’t really want to get into a contract-with-the-Devil-so-watch-your-back sort of position. If they want to make money off my stupidity, well, I’m not stupid enough to go there.

That said, I think I may stick with their audiobook program. The catch is more or less the same, but it’s easier to avoid because I only have to pick one thing each month, and there aren’t other good ways to get DRM-free audiobooks. As soon as there are, I’ll ditch the carefully-laid trap that is

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