Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/01/gong-hay-fat-choy/

Jessica helped me welcome the Chinese New Year today by inviting me to join her family at her brother’s place. We stuffed our belly’s with Taiwanese-style hot-pot. Chiawen had invited me over to his house at the exact same time as well, but Jessica got to me first. Yay for my Taiwanese friends!

Jessica’s friend Lisa has a place in the city, and they have two rooms coming available, one for $500, and another for $600, with free DSL via a wireless network, blocks away from Golden Gate Park, and the ocean! Lisa says I’d love it and Jessica thinks I should move there because then she has an even better place to crash when she gets up there to party. Unfortunately, I can’t make it up there to check it out tomorrow without a working car. Public transport, without weekend Caltrain service, is two hours just to get to the city!

The current game plan is to rent from Brian this month. I want to try and live differently, somehow, and changing my environment is part of that. Brian responded that he kind of likes having the place to himself, but I’m welcome to stay the month. Works for everybody!

Brian woke me up this morning with the news that Columbia had exploded. I couldn’t do anything about the space shuttle, so I just went back to sleep. Seems like a crappy way to start off a lunar new year when the country’s been having a rough go of the economy, and we’re close to war. I hope its not a portent of a bad year ahead.



The Car

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/02/the-car/

The most noteworthy accomplishment of the day is that I got the car back. I did this by buying Jessica some lunch, then guilting her in to a ride down to Angel’s house. You see, Angel picked the car up from Dave and Rebecca when they moved back to the midwest.

When I got there, Angel was out, and his roommate Pat gave me the keys. I took some time to double-check the fluid levels and whatnot, before starting the car. That quiet quiet engine made me wonder if it had died, but no, it was just smooth as ever.

The car was full of trash. Bits of food, melted crayons, one baby shoe, one baby sock, and a couple bags of neatly-packaged garbage. Ahhh, yes, I knew well the mark of Dave from the days when I lived with him. Angel called at this time asking if I found his car-starter gadget thingy that he needs to start his high-tech car, because he was trying to find it and maybe he’d dropped it in my car. I couldn’t tell what he was talking about, so I asked about the garbage, and he said it came that way, and the first thing he had noticed was that the steering wheel was sticky! Oh, and by the way, they stole the license plate.

The rear license plate. The one the cops look for to nail you for expired tags.

I had to count my blessings: the car didn’t smell, there were no critters crawling around inside it. It seemed like it would go. I figured the bagged garbage was Dave’s way of collecting much of the trash that would otherwise have grown nasty on the floor. By Dave standards, this is actually pretty responsible.

I tapped the gas and was suprised by the eager V8 that I’d been away from for so long. Now, on the last day I had it, the transmission suddenly started acting funny: things weren’t shifting right. Dave and Rebecca consequently drove it almost not at all, as it fell into a state where it couldn’t top 35 MPH without making ineffectually eager revving noises. It was at this top speed that I navigated surface streets back to Mountain View.

It was quite the trek. I made two stops. The first to at a 7-11 where I removed the garbage bags from the car, then went inside where the nice South Asian guy behind the counter allowed me to borrow his wash rag, with which I wiped off the steering wheel. Further down the road I found an auto parts store, checked the transmission fluid again, and topped it off. Mike told me that there was this magic sauce that can reconstitute the transmission fluid after it has been screwed up by heat, but I couldn’t find this. The improved fluid level didn’t help; It was worth a shot, though.

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Unemployment Insurance

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/03/unemployment-insurance/

First day back to “working.” Telephone interview from EDD to determine my eligibility. They’re not concerned with Transmeta, they’re focused on the claim they’d have to file with my very last employer, the Pizza Place. Since I was voluntarily separated from that position, I think I may, in fact, be ineligible.

Not to worry greatly, there seem to be more jobs out there, including server positions, and the bank account is currently around $2,000, so I can float at least a month …

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The Car

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/03/the-car/

After this, I took the car to the mechanic. The estimate to figure out what’s wrong is around $80. Hopefully it is an easy fix and not a doomed transmission, that threatens to eat into that $2,000!

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/03/perl/

Much time today has been spent brushing up on Perl to write the answers to a technical pre-screen for a job writing Perl code. It’s nice to be “working” and even if I don’t get the job, the technical exercise is worthwhile.

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Windows File Synchronization

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/03/windows-file-synchronization/

I have files on my laptop that are important. I’d like to keep a copy of them on another computer. The handiest is the desktop machine I’ve assembled by buying a hard drive at Fry’s, and installing in a machine I’m borrowing from Brian. Today I set up a Windows network between the two, to see how well that works. Large file copies from the laptop, on Brian’s wireless network, to the desktop, tended to bomb out any time a packet dropped in the WIRELESS ETHER. So, I kibbitzed with Lemson on IRC, who sent me to the Knowledge Base article that explains how to turn on “file synchronization” and now when I copy to the server, the file synchronization service handles it.

Windows’ “file synchronization” is designed to locally cache files that are stored on a network server. This allows you to trundle away with your laptop, and work with the files, and settle up the difference when you get back near the server again. This means that it acts as an elaborate FILE CACHE.

What I really want, is to have two copies of the same set of files: one on the laptop, and one on the server, and something to occasionally reconcile the differences between the two. On Unix I would use rsync, which I can also use on Windows, thanks to Cygwin, but since I’m operating on Windows, with a “server” that does not have an Internet-style hostname, it seems more interesting to me to see what Microsoft wants me to do, by fiddling with icons, instead setting up a more Unixy environment and typing crazy commands.

This way I’ll be more in touch with what “normal” people do, which can come in handy when you need to help them out.

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Style Sheets and HTML Elements

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/04/style-sheets-and-html-elements/

Whilst writing up today’s entry, I came up with the idea that maybe I should make a stylistic distinction for different flavours of content. Most notably, the techy talk in this section. Don’t like techy talk? Skim through it quick. Easier to pick bits out.

Since we like to re-use code, and defer to precedence, I told this document to source in an additional style sheet, instead of replacing the site-wide style sheet. This way I can override the bits I want to change for this log document, while also catching whatever style properties change for the site as a whole.

The problem is that in the main style sheet, I had spelled out “monospace” as the “font-family” attribute for several elements, and now I wanted to change this part of several elements by using the DIV tag on a set of elements. For example:

<p>Stuff about the car.</p>
<div class="techy">
<h3>Techy Stuff</h3>
<p>Blah blah blah</p>

In this way, I wanted the text within the techy DIV to come out monospace, while everything else was in the nice Helvetica font. The problem is that I had already defined the P, and H3 attributes to use Helvetica, so they never came out in monospace.

The answer came out to be that in the site-wide style sheet, I should stick with monospace as an attribute for the BODY parent tag, and tell the P and H3 elements to inherit:

        font-family: monospace;
        color: black;
        background-color: white;
        margin: 1em 2em;
P {
        font-family: inherit;
H3 {
        font-family: inherit;
        color: maroon;

So, in this document, I set the BODY font-family to Helvetica. Now the P elements in this page inherit Helvetica, instead of monospace, and everything comes out Helvetica. Unless, of course, the P is contained in a DIV tag that spells out a different font-family.

Ah, so let’s take this a step further, and change the colors of the H3 elements from maroon to a green color. Again I run in to that same problem that I have already set my H3 elements to be maroon! But since I want black text, I can’t just inherit maroon from the BODY element. What to do!?

After much searching through w3c’s recommendations, and different style sheet guides, I found a reference to an entry in Tantek Çelik’s log that invokes CSS syntax in a way I have never noticed before:

.techy H3 {
        color: #003300;

This makes H3 elements within a techy parent class turn dark green. This is different, and vastly more useful to me than specifying H3:techy as I am used to doing. This allows me to take the techy class from my parent DIV, instead of having to specify techy as the class for each element. Yay!

It took a lot of effort on my part to figure this one out, so I had to share here. This is why you see this part of my document in green shades with a monospace font, and all I have to do to apply these styles to this section of the document is to wrap it in a DIV element of the appropriate class!

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/04/californication/

Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation
And little girls from Sweden dream of silver screen quotation
And if you want these kind of dreams its Californication

This was a favorite song of the cover band in Hat Yai. I hadn’t heard it much before my time in Thailand. I thought it was a neat song about California. It’s also a neat song about America, a land of dreams and controversey that occupies the minds of young people around the world: the Italian guy who thinks that he should be able to vote for America’s president, the Argentine gal who feels reluctant to bring up America’s meddling in Latin America, the good-natured Jordanians who love America all the more despite the boiling conflict between our civilizations.

It’s the edge of the world
And all of Western civilization
The sun may rise in the East
It least it’s settled in a fine location
It’s understood that Hollywood
sells Californication

I was flipping channels at Mom’s place, and we stayed a few minutes on a BBC news report from Ivory Coast, where in among the crowds of people who had showed up to rally for whatever cause they thought would do their country right, several were holding American flags, mostly simple paper ones colored by hand. Why are they waving our flags, we wondered? At least they’re not burning them. The French are involved with their former colony, not us!

Everyone in the world has an opinion, an impression they have of America and Americans. The world is watching us. Please, countrymen, try to set a good example: we’re not alone in our own wilderness these days.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/05/ouch/

The way the mechanic explains it, this little plastic thing that holds the throttle cable in place broke, which is why the car started acting funny. After awhile the transmission eats itself alive, and costs $1,250 to swap in a rebuild.


He says this is a common problem on Fords. He showed me the plastic ring in question, as he always has a few on-hand. What with the recent shuttle tragedy and the economic impact, I was thinking “O-Ring“.

Since the price is a serious chunk of change, at this juncture, I told him that maybe I’d pick the car up and hold on to it until I at least know my unemployment status. I thought about it some more and it really is a wonderful car. Everything else on it works awfully well, and I swear it is worth keeping. What’s more, I need a car around here – heck, my stuff is still in Oakland. I’m thinking on the question tonight, and I think I’ll call them back tomorrow and authorize the work.

Shikata Ga Nai!

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The First Monty

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/05/the-first-monty/

So, I asked myself, “Self, isn’t it about time we learned Python?”

Being as I am more open-minded these days, I replied “Yes, let us do this! Then we can learn Medusa and re-implement Gallery!”

So, I went over to the Python website and started reading the Python Tutorial, and among the technical arguments in favor of Python, on the first page, I read:

By the way, the language is named after the BBC show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and has nothing to do with nasty reptiles. Making references to Monty Python skits in documentation is not only allowed, it is encouraged!

That alone convinces me that Python IS the Ultimate Programming Language Ever!


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Good News Bad News

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/09/good-news-bad-news/

Good news is that the car is fixed. The bad news is that it ran me around $1,300.

The bad news is that I’m not qualified for unemployment compensation, because I voluntarily seperated from the Pizza Place. The worse news is that business is extremely slow at the Pizza Place right now, so even though one guy just left, Jefe is reluctant to take on new staff at this time. “The salad-maker just quit because I couldn’t give her enough hours.”

The good news is that there’s a room available for me up in the city, a block away from Golden Gate Park, not far from the ocean, that I’d share with Jessica’s friend Lisa, and a handful of other reputedly groovy people. The bad news is that it would take what money I have left to pay for it, so I must decline this opportunity.

The good news is that there are jobs out there. The bad news is that I may keep expenses light by hopping from guest house to guest house, which could make for some annoying commutes.

The bad news is that someone stole my license plate. The good news is that I can replace it at the DMV for $7.

The bad news is that I’ll have to hustle for a source of income. The good news is that I’m not completely broke. The good news is that I have friends, and family to help me stay afloat, if need be. The good news is that the economy isn’t completely shot to hell.

The good news is that I am healthy and capable.

The good news is that I’ve passed the first hurdle on the Perl job. The less good news is that twenty to forty others also passed. Those are odds I’m willing to run with, though.

The good news is that I shall be extremely motivated in my job search, starting tomorrow.

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Georgia on a Fast Train

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/10/georgia-on-a-fast-train/

I been to Tokyo on an airplane, honey,
I wasn’t born no yesterday.
I’ve got a midwest raisin’
And a college education,
Aint no need of y’all treatin’ me this way!

(You can listen to this guy‘s version.)

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Good Reads

Atherton Police Blotter

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/10/atherton-police-blotter/

Tales of crime in America’s richest suburb, as reported in the Palo Alto Daily News:


Stockbridge Avenue and Selby Lane, 9:33 a.m.: A black limousine reportedly cut off a gold Lexus and was travelling at 65 mph on Stockbridge, but police were unable to locate the vehicle.

First block Serrano Drive, 10:36 a.m.: A resident complained about a suspicious Chevy pickup parked in the street with a lawn mower: it turned out to be that of a legitimate gardener.

Think these rich people are being uptight? Well, there are consequences when one is not vigilant about suspicious lawnmowers plied by potentially illegitimate gardeners, as we learn the next day:


First block Atherton Ave., 1:17 p.m.: A suspected stolen 2001 Mercedes was found dumped on Arastradero and Page Mill and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s officials asked Atherton police to contact the registered owner.

First block Bassett Lane, 10:13 p.m.: A black Ford Mustang was stolen and later found stripped in East Palo Alto.

Okay, it turns out that Atherton is only the second-wealthiest town in America.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/11/war/

I’ve been wondering why I feel weird about all the anti-war sentiment now that I’m back here in the liberal land of California. One of my favorite days was the winter day before the 1991 air war started, when we walked out of my Chicago high-school, and walked downtown on Lake Shore Drive to protest the potential war. The march down LSD was extremely cool, because we were walking on a highway, hundreds of young people, taking up two lanes, with a third lane of police cars, and a fourth lane of cars that honked as they passed us, either because they were upset at us blocking traffic, or because a honk indicated solidarity with peace demonstrations in those days.

Now, I feel ambivalent. I certainly doubt the President’s motivations. I’m inclined to believe that there is more immediate gain for him in securing oil supplies and domestic support in a time of international crisis, than any imminent threat to us from Iraq. On the other hand, while the resumption of war would cost a lot of death and destruction to the Iraqi people, if we actually remove Saddam Hussein, we will also be removing a long-standing source of death and oppression.

One way or another, the sanctions need to end; The Middle East needs stability that is not based on detent and decay. If we had to occupy and rebuild Iraq, there would be an excuse for resentment among Islamic Fanatics. On the other hand, perhaps it would mean that we could leave Saudi Arabia, the land of Mecca, to its own devices, which may give in to pressures to reform once we’re done propping up a redundant oil supply.

Maybe if we worry ourselves with occupying and building a strong and stable Iraq, we’ll feel more secure about Iran, and better able to sanely pursue relations with this formidable country.

Most of all, I feel most frustrated with European insistence on giving the inspections more time. More time for what? We’ve been trying “inspections” for more than a decade. Saddam Hussein has never been inclined to test clean, and the latest inspections are just a fancier version of the same old tired show. In America we fight wars in foreign lands, while Europeans have more direct experience with war, which encourages them to cherish peace all the more. While I think this is great for the cause of peace, it can lead to the “Peace at any Price” mentality which left Germany’s earliest WWII aggression un-checked. It is that sentiment in Europe today that causes the most direct emotional support, I believe, for the United States “proactively engaging” a problem overseas before it becomes a problem at home.

Of course, the most proactive policy would have been to remove Hussein in the first Gulf War. I believed at the time and I still believe that the cease-fire was a terrible decision. Whatever strategy you choose to solve a problem, you need to devote yourself to success. If you choose peace, you devote yourself to a peaceful solution. If you choose war, you devote yourself to victory. We chose war in 1991, which leads me to feel that the coming conflict is the attainment of victory, foolishly delayed, at the expense of a prolonged suffering on the part of the Iraqi people, who should have been liberated a decade ago.

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Workin’ It

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/02/12/workin-it/

Filed an appeal with the EDD today.

Submitted applications at two restaurants. The first had a handful of other people also working on their applications. Not an encouraging sign.

Yesterday I got my hair cut. First, I had to walk over to the bank to get some precious money. On Castro Street I counted five hybrid cars, with a RAV4 EV in front of the barber shop off Castro Street. I figured that was a positive economic indicator.

I got my stuff back from Oakland yesterday. Erik fed me pasta, I left him cookies.

Also submitted a resume for a consulting and support position at a company that provides back-end software to restaurants.

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