2009

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Live from Hanalei Bay… maybe

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

In a fit of last-moment planning and improvisation, we’ve decided to attempt to do a live video broadcast of our wedding ceremony from the beach in Kauai, Saturday 9/12/2009, 2pm local time (5pm Pacific, 6pm Mountain, 7pm Central, 8pm Eastern, 9pm Atlantic… and a half hour later in Newfoundland :-) ).

If you want to check it out, go to the Ustream.tv page for the event.

The video should come up automatically when we start broadcasting.

The odds that we’ll actually pull this off are not great, hence the following disclaimers:

  • The ceremony may be delayed in case of rain;
  • The video broadcast stream may falter, or halt entirely; in the absence of a reliable Wi-Fi connection I’m doing this by connecting my laptop to the Internet through a tethered 3G data connection on my iPhone; the brief test I did yesterday showed it could work but who knows?
  • The camera work will probably be not good (pointing the built-in camera in my laptop without being able to see the screen may prove problematic);
  • The audio will probably be even worse (there’s wind, lots and lots of wind);
  • Even if everything else works, Ustream.tv has been known to fall on its face for no good reason.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this works!

The next big step

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Tam and Janice Save the Date card

Janice and I are flying out tomorrow morning to Hawaiian island of Kauai, where on Saturday afternoon we’ll be holding our wedding ceremony with our families and friends.

For the most part, everything has been arranged and planned, mostly thanks to Janice’s efforts, so I have little trepidation about the upcoming nuptials. It also helps that ours will be a very small ceremony, so there’s no pressure for us to pull off some sort of major production.

Janice has once and again asked me if I’d ever dreamt of getting married and what my wedding would be like, to which my answer has been a rather vexing (to her) “no”. Maybe it’s one of those “gender gap” things but I’d never really given the wedding itself much thought. It’s made planning the details a bit easier, I suppose, because we’ve had few if any contentious issues about various details of the event.

All in all, I think that the biggest reason that I feel totally relaxed about the wedding, marriage and all that is something that I’ve come increasingly to realize: life rarely unfolds the way one expects or plans. Rather than straining to wrestle our destinies with an iron grip, I think it’s best to steer from far upstream as best we can, see how things actually turn out and adjust accordingly.

I realize of course that I’ve lived a relatively charmed life, fairly free of truly trying tests, so it remains to be seen how my philosophy will hold up in the face of adversity. One thing that has changed over the recent past is that I now have someone by my side to help me meet those challenges, come what may.

Use “Search”, n00b!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Such is the common response to new users posting frequently-asked and answered questions on Internet forums, but in this case I’m referring to myself: the previous post is the second time I’ve used “death, taxes and stupid” in a post headline. I thought it sounded familiar, and when I used the “Search” feature, there it was.

It’s been over six years since that posting, so maybe I can be excused for not remembering.

Death, taxes and stupid CA laws

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

As if the California government hasn’t done enough to increase misery and suffering through tax increases and budget cuts, last week they took the initiative to do it in a more direct fashion. The state Senate approved SB 484, a bill that once signed into law would make pseudoephedrine, the only truly effective decongestant component of cold medications, available only as a prescription medication.

The motivation as most people already understand is that pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines, so measures reducing its availability may discourage people who can’t easily obtain it from making their own drugs.

What many people don’t know about is that pseudoephedrine’s over-the-counter replacement, phenylephrine, simply is not effective taken as a pill or syrup which is how it’s most often packaged. Have you noticed your cold medication hasn’t worked worth a damn lately? Take a close look at the active ingredients list; most drug makers have quietly substituted phenylephrine for pseudoephedrine in their cold remedies.

Moreover, what the law’s proponents have so far overlooked is that addicts and the criminal elements who supply them are highly motivated. Making prescription-only a medication that would remain available over the counter in other states, not to mention more readily and cheaply from, say, Mexico, would have negligible impact on methamphetamine addiction. What the proposed law might instead do is shift the manufacture of meth to areas where pseudoephedrine is more easily obtained like, say, Mexico. (As if the Mexican drug gangs needed any more business and by extension, money and power…)

What the proposed law will certainly do is make effective cold symptom remedies more expensive and less accessible to law-abiding citizens, thereby generally increasing the level of suffering (since the common cold isn’t going away anytime soon)… One might plausibly speculate that there would also be some economic impact due to reduced productivity, with more workers immobilized at any given time by cold symptoms.

The bill is currently before the state assembly; Californians, contact your Assemblymember and let them know that this proposed law is a bad idea that needs to be nipped in the bud.

In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on pseudoephedrine, just in case the law passes and forces cold-relief-seeking citizens to become drug smugglers.

Showing off

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

A couple weeks ago the San Francisco Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SFR-SCCA) put my Spec Miata race car on display at the Silicon Valley International Auto Show in San Jose.

smsviasThe first challenge was getting the car there. The San Jose convention center where the show was held was only a couple miles from my shop where the car is stored, but the car hasn’t been registered for road use in over a year. A couple days before the move I went to the DMV to try to get a temporary moving permit, but unbeknownst to me starting this year the rules for issuing these have tightened, and I wasn’t able to get a permit. That wasn’t a big deal, as towing the car was always an option, but spending 30-45 minutes for loading/unloading, not to mention driving an unwieldy tow rig around downtown SJ, seemed a bit silly for moving an otherwise road-worthy car a couple miles.

Once at the convention center, getting the car inside was interesting, involving taking a shortcut driving over the sidewalk to get into the parking garage without driving the car on public streets, and then through a set of double doors onto the main floor. Regrettably our display was on the first floor so I didn’t have the chance to drive the car in and out of the freight elevator.

Contrary to what television shows would have you believe, driving a car indoors isn’t very much fun. Or rather, driving a race car with a solid-hub puck clutch at walking pace indoors isn’t very much fun. The race car clutch doesn’t like to be eased in—trying to do so would stall the engine—so I had to “launch” the car as gently as I could into first gear, then immediately clutch in and let it coast at a walking pace for a short distance, and repeat; not unlike driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but just a bit slower.

Logistics aside, having the car on display was a fun time. I set up a looping playback of race videos from last season which, as moving video always does, turned a few heads and caught some attention. Whenever I could I would let people—kids mostly but also a few folks interested in getting into racing themselves—get into the car and have their photos taken. I enjoyed talking to the general public about the SCCA’s motorsports activities and also about my particular experiences; it was nice to have a fresh set of ears to hear my stories.

As an upshot, in preparation for the show I cleaned the car thoroughly inside and out, and kept the outside clean and shiny with generous amounts of detailing spray. The car is probably cleaner than it’s ever been.

History is for the early birds

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

In my relatively short time here on Earth there have been a few events that may in the long run punctuate the history of our civilization… but I’ll be darned if I was actually able to witness any of them, by live broadcast if not in person.

Case and point: The Challenger accident occurred while I was in class, and as I was in Canada we weren’t tuned in to the event as apparently many American schools were. The September 11 attacks had all taken place by the time I woke up.

The bulk of western civilization, it seems, lies in a span of time zones that seemingly increases the probability of noteworthy events happening while I, here in Pacific Time, am in bed asleep. As a matter of practice, one of the first things I do after waking up in the morning is checking the news on the BBC, CBC and CNN web sites, as a quick check that the world hasn’t changed in some drastic way in the previous few hours.

Of course there are plenty of other events that have occurred while I was fully aware, but they tend not to be singular moments. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami may have been (to a degree) a pinpoint in time, but its far-reaching effects took some time to become known. The fall of the Berlin Wall may be considered an “event” but it didn’t occur all at once, certainly not in the literal sense.

Only time will really tell how “monumental” tomorrow’s inauguration will be… But at least this time I might wake up on time to see it, if my alarm clock doesn’t fail me.

Shout it to the world

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

With our parents fully informed I’m finally able to lift the news embargo: Janice and I got engaged on Thanksgiving Day this past November.

Happy New Year everybody.