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Time:03:44 am
Dear Diary,

Today I:

- Rode a train to a strange city
- Saw a black helicopter
- Fed a pony
- Stood on a hill in blustery winds to look at a pile of rocks
- Climbed up another very big hill while wearing the wrong shoes
- Retrieved a runaway dog
- Got blown off the top of the wall of an ancient castle (well, almost)
- Tasted half the cheeses at Neal's Yard
- Had the best seat in the house while John Lithgow entertained us with a delightful farce
- Saw stunning, award-winning landscape photography
- Took goofy pictures of sheep and birds
- Walked eight miles and climbed 45 flights of stairs, according to my FitBit
- Told off the water at an Indian restaurant so politely that I don't think he felt insulted
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Subject:Hello London!
Time:06:37 am
I've landed in London. The tiny little apartment that I rented is, as expected, tiny. It's also perfect for me. I have a teeny tiny kitchen with a stove, oven, microwave, hot water pot, toaster, and a clothes washer. There's a small refrigerator which you get to by walking around the bed, and a little two-seater table in a nook by the window. The bathroom is itty-bitty too.

I'm a three-minute walk from the Queen's Park tube station on a quiet tree-lined street. There are train tracks across the street, but they only give muted background noise. There's a busy high-street right by the tube station, and another one about five minutes in the other direction.

As I headed for the apartment today I saw a sign that said "Farmers Market, Sundays 10-2". As soon as I checked in and dropped off my bags I headed over. It was fabulous! I came home with extra-aged cheddar, a loaf of artisan bread, a dozen organic pastured eggs, some butter, fresh-pressed organic apple juice, two little single-serving squashes, and a couple of hand-crafted soups. That should save me from eating too much Indian takeaway while I'm here.

Tomorrow I'm going to see John Lithgow in Magistrate. Wednesday my friend Mollena and I have on-stage tickets to see Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night. There's a whole bunch of other stuff on my list to see too... too much to get to, in fact.

Now, a quick nap then I might go see Rufus Wainright tonight.
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Subject:An open letter to Bill the Giants fan
Time:04:39 pm
Dear Bill,

I sat next to you during one of the baseball playoff games recently after we'd both purchased our tickets from the same scalper. We managed to have a good time even though I was in outfitted in Cardinal red and you were in Giants orange. During the game, we made a bet on the outcome of the series-- if the Giants won, I would donate $20 to charity, and if the Cardinals won you would donate $20 to charity. We both know how that turned out-- congratulations on the World Series victory.

You mentioned that you were particularly fond of charities that work with animals. In light of Hurricane Sandy's attack on the east coast, I have made a $20 donation to the Humane Society's Disaster Relief fund on your behalf. They are working along the east coast to help both people and animals that have been affected by the storm.

I doubt you'll ever read this, but I'm posting it in case you someday stumble across it. Based on our conversation, I am confident that you would be happy with my settling the bet in this way.

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Time:12:37 am
I just got some weird email:
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 23:07:00 PDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
From: Calista Carradine
Subject: Im sending you a link at Michael Madsens request Check it out

Check it out Watch the video and all See if you're interested >
madsen's kickstarter project.
no pledge is too small. and please forward to
> as many friends as you can. thanks, john sjogren and michael madsen. here is
> the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1432218764/honorable-warrior?ref=email
So what's weird about this? I had no idea who Calista Carradine was until I googled her. The mail was sent to my regular pattib@my_domain address, not one of the tagged addresses that I give out to businesses, and definitely not to the address I use on Kickstarter. The project itself appears to be exactly what the email claims it is. I've crawled all over the mail headers, and they check out.

I have no idea how some Hollywood actress got my email address. It's a puzzler!

I'm almost through with crazy travel month. Two weeks ago I was in LA for the weekend. (Saw Book of Mormon again... as fabulous the second time as the first.) Last weekend I was in Vegas. (Happy birthday adb_foldem!) This weekend I'll be in LA again, though via Newport News Virginia. Don't ask.

After that, I get to stay home 'til mid-November. I just booked my annual London trip, and I'll be there for about a week, including thanksgiving and my birthday... which happen to be on the same day this year. Rather than booking a hotel, I decided to investigate Air B&B. I settled on a small studio apartment near the Queens Park tube station. It's a little farther out than I usually stay, but the apartment is very close to the tube station and from there it's a straight shot to Piccadilly Circus and the theater district. All that for less than a hundred bucks a night... seems like a win to me.

I'm coveting a Zenbook Prime for travel, but I've just spent so much money on travel that I don't feel like I should buy it. Oy.

I will be really happy when the World Series is over. The neighborhood around my office is a total clusterfuck. Today my regular parking garage was charging $90 at noon, and $120 by the time the game started. No, I didn't pay that-- I'm monthly. Still... insanity!

I'm also ready for the election to be over.

Tomorrow is my second physical therapy appointment for the chronic shoulder thing that I've been dealing with for years-- the one where the orthopedic surgeon looked at the MRI images, did some tests, and diagnosed me with a 47-year-old shoulder. (Thanks doc.) I really like the woman I'm working with, and the exercises she has me doing seem to be helping at least a little bit.
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Subject:Corollary to yesterday's entry
Time:01:27 am
Running on level ground is easier.

My GPS is confused, though. When I was running in Redondo Beach, I had maybe 40-50 feet of elevation change between the highest and lowest point, with lots of rolling hills. The GPS claims that my total ascent was 602 feet, and my total descent was 621 feet. That seems high but not unreasonable given the amount of up-and-down I was doing.

When I run at home, I have approximately ten feet of elevation change between the highest point and the lowest point on my route. The GPS claims I did 1098 feet of ascent and 1059 feet of descent tonight. That seems silly. In one "lap" of .21 miles it claims I did 250 feet of ascent and descent. Silly electronics.
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Time:03:35 am
I'm in Redondo Beach. I have to say... running on hills, even relatively small ones, is *way* different from running around the flat parts of Oakland. I did it, though, including a couple of segments where I deliberately ran up the hills.

I'm not sure which part is crazier... the running up hills, or, "No, you guys hang out and drink. I'm going running."
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Subject:More running
Time:02:09 am
Ever since I posted about the muscle in my butt being sore, it's pretty much stopped being sore. Go figure. After tonight's run, that muscle was about a 1.2 on a scale of 1-10, and it didn't bother me at all while I was out running. My calves/shins are a tiny bit sore now, but not enough to worry about. I'm trying to run almost every night, and succeeding.

Just as I was about to head out the door today, while I was waiting for my ForeRunner to find satellites, one of my neighbors came in. It was about 11:45 p.m., give or take a few minutes. He looked at me like I was insane. "You're going running? NOW?" I confirmed that I was, and he shook his head as I headed out the door.

About ten paces into the warm-up walk I felt rain. This seemed like a good time to figure out whether I really was or wasn't made of sugar, so I kept going. Apparently I'm not. It seems "you are what you eat" is total bullshit.

I remembered to wear my ForeRunner tonight, which meant that I got stats. I'm still a sloooow runner, but I run about .5-1mph faster outdoors than I do on a treadmill. That's consistent with the way I feel.

As I was coming in, one of neighbors was also on her way home. "Were you out running? At this hour?!" Sigh.

Because I haven't run in forever, I'm creating my own extra-slow C25K for this time around. It comes down to "figure out what you can do without dying, then add to it whenever it doesn't seem too hard."
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Subject:Running pain
Time:02:07 am
I'm back to running after an extended hiatus, so I'm starting back at the beginning.

All seems to be going well, except that running is a pain in the ass. I mean that in the most literal sense-- after a few minutes, I get pain on the right side of my ass. The pain pretty much corresponding with where the glueus medius is on an anatomical chart. It's only the right side.

I can run through it and not hate myself afterward for doing that. I can also make it go away for a while by sitting down and putting my right foot up on the bench in front of me.

Anyone familiar?
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Subject:More lighting help
Time:01:33 am
So I did the stage lights thing in my living room. I bought a lighting truss that looks like this:

The truss is about ten feet wide, and I have it at about eight feet off the ground right now. I put four of these on it, only with LED bulbs rather than the crappy incandescent one shown:

(Those are totally not to scale, BTW.)

It worked out pretty well, only there's one thing I can't figure out-- how to get power to it. Each of the cans has a standard three-pin power plug on a 4' (I think) cord. I need to figure out some way to get power from the outlet to the fixtures. I can think of a few options:

Lots of extension cords. It's workable, but it seems sloppy.

Mount some sort of power strip. I found this power strip at a hardware store today. It's pretty close to being right for the job, except that it needs a longer cord. I have no doubt that I can find something similar with a longer cord, though.

Get a stringer extension cord. The cheapest one I can find is this one, which seems like it will do the job. It feels like it might be overkill, but I haven't found a lighter-weight solution.

Find some other magic gizmo. It seems like this has to be a well-solved problem, but I really haven't been able to ferret out what the standard solution is.

I don't really care about having separate control over individual lights, though ideally I would like to have them in two separate sets. I have two of the lights pointed up at the ceiling as soft ambient lights, and two pointed down for more direct lights. (I'll probably add one more of each at some point.)

Anyone know what the magic answer is?
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Subject:Survey says...
Time:08:47 pm
Yesterday I posted a poll about people who order stuff and give out my email address.
I'm amused by the resultsCollapse )
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Subject:People who don't know their own email addresses
Time:10:00 pm
In the ongoing saga of People Who Are Too Stupid To Know Their Own Email Addresses, I've recently gotten emailed order confirmations for two different people, on two separate websites. They are obviously separate incidents, and at least one of them is a new player in this particular flavor of dumbfuckery.

The email that I received included full order details, including snail mail address, phone number, and login credentials to the website that they ordered from. In neither case do I have a contact email address for Ms. Patti B. Dumbfuck, for the obvious reason.

Every time this happens, my email address inevitably gets added to the website's email marketing list, which means that I either have to jump through unsubscribe hoops or get a bunch of spam. It's not the end of the world, but it's really annoying.

I'm torn between wanting to be helpful to these morons and wanting to annoy them as much as they've annoyed me. To that end, I'm wondering which of the following steps my friends would consider ethical and/or reasonable.

Which of the following is an acceptable response?

Sending them a copy of the invoice via snail mail, with a request to stop
Calling them on the phone and requesting that they stop
Trying to hunt them down on Facebook to ask them to stop
Logging into the online site to remove my email address
Logging into the online site and closing the account
Logging into the online site and requesting that the order be canceled
Responding to the email and requesting that the order be canceled
Logging into the website and attempting to reroute the order somewhere else

Something else?

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Subject:Lighting update
Time:10:31 pm
I had Amazon send me two American DJ Par 38 cans, which arrived today. I also stopped at Home Depot and picked up one Phillips 18W Par 38 LED bulb. I screwed the two lights to a board that I had sitting around my loft, replaced one of the stock bulbs with the LED one, and then stuck them over my kitchen.

The preliminary verdict: Yes! The LED bulb is fabulous. It throws a bright light, both in color temperature and in overall output. At $35/bulb it's expensive, but the bulb is rated to last for a couple of decades. I like being able to aim the lights wherever I want them.

In order to do this well, I'll have to rewire the light socket into an outlet, but that's not the end of the world.
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Subject:My review of the Chevy Volt
Time:02:24 am
Chevy recently offered me two days usage of a Volt at no charge. I guess it's because they think I'm a wonderful person or something, and they thought their car might possibly live up to my standards. More likely it was because I chatter enough on social media to have a moderately high Klout score. Let's go with that last theory because it happens to be true. In any case, Chevy gave me an excuse to spew my opinions on the internet, and so I shall.

A fairly long reviewCollapse )
Overall I liked the car a lot more than I expected to. With the exception of the lunacy that they call a control panel it's a pretty nice car. It's not zippy, but it's comfortable to drive and it feels good on the road. It's not bad looking, even if it's not exactly my style.

So, would I buy one? No, probably not. The $40K price tag is just too high. Even with subsidies, it's still north of thirty grand. If I were in the market for a semi-luxury sedan that got really great gas mileage I would certainly consider it. I might even overlook the bizarro-land control panel.
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Subject:Maybe-crazy lighting for my kitchen
Time:03:51 am
The light fixture in my kitchen sucks. It's a bare bulb screwed into a box on the ceiling. Here's a picture that's sort of what it looks like, though it currently has a 150W floodlight bulb in it rather than whatever is in that picture. Here's a picture of the general kitchen layout, though the overhead light isn't visible. It's approximately right over the guy's head. These photos were taken during the property inspection when I bought the place. The appliances have been changed, but the kitchen is otherwise identical.

So I have this crazy idea that I want to put in par cans and some sort of lighting rail or truss. I've always sort of wanted theater-style lighting in my home, and a loft is the right place to pull something like this off. I could put a rail on the all that's above the cabinets, and put maybe four can lights on it pointed in different directions. I suppose I could also put the rail on the ceiling, but since it's concrete that would be a lot harder to do.

For bulbs, I'd probably use LED PAR bulbs. They're expensive, but they're power-efficient and don't generate much heat, and they last approximately forever.

The problem is that I've never worked with these lights, so I don't know if there are any gotchas.

Am I insane? Is this feasible? Is it stupid?
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Subject:The hoser in Spokane responded
Time:10:11 am

I apologize again for the email mix-ups. But we certainly do appreciate your information and want to thank you very much. It is rare in today’s busy world that someone would “step outside the box” as you have demonstrated. Be assured that we will utilize your attachments accordingly. It just so happens that one of Board Meetings is coming up.

Thank you again and have a great Labor Day weekend. I do not know if you are an Oakland Athletics fan, but most of us up here love your team. I am a die hard Dodger fan but one cannot help loving Billy Beane.


Boring! Plus, I could never give my loyalty to a team with designated hitters.
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Subject:When you accidentally cc: the wrong (or right) person
Time:12:46 am
As I've mentioned before, my Gmail address gets all sorts of randomly misaddressed mail. FirstnameLastInitial is a pretty common address pattern, and lots of people send me mail that is meant for other people. Quite a few extra-dumb people give out my address, mistakenly believing that it is their own.

A couple of days ago I got this:
Ladies and gentlemen,

We have a request for a "dish" to be installed at a homeowner's residence to discuss and vote on. Mr (Dude) of (Mr. Dude's Address) wants to change his TV connection from Comcast to Direct TV. In order for him to do his, he has to have a "dish" installed in the front of his home for proper reception. In our CC&Rs in section 8.12, it states the following:

No alteration to or modification of a central radio or television antenna system or cable television system shall be permitted , and no owner maybe permitted to construct, use, or operate his own external radio, television antenna, or other electronic antenna without the consent of the Board. No Citizen Band or other transmission shall be permitted on the Property.

Attached is a picture (another to follow) of what the "dish" would look like after installation. Keep in mind that the "dish" would be 2 feet shorter because the mounting pole will be inserted in the ground. Mr (Dude) also is willing to put some landscape plants to "hide" the base. However, the "dish" will still be visible.

I respectfully ask for your input, direction and vote as to approve or disapprove this request. Please, if you can, go down to his home and look for yourself. I am available to assist in any manner deemed necessary. If we need to have a short meeting, I can do that also. Mr (Dude) is planning to have this installed on Thursday afternoon should we approve.

Thank you and regards,
(Some hoser)
The message was addressed to about ten different people. I quickly responded, with a cc: to everyone, informing them that they had the wrong address. Nonetheless, I soon found myself cc:ed on email of the sort that only a homeowners association can have, wherein they discuss the minutiae of their CC&Rs and their Architectural Rules and Guidelines. Of course, they cite chapter and verse of both, and examine the conflicts between the two documents.

It was clear that they were struggling and needed help. Luckily, the person they were spamming has artistic and technical skills, as well as the ability to use Photoshop. I spent some time creating mockups, and sent them the following message.
Ladies and gentlemen,

I know that I was included in this email thread accidentally, as I am not a part of your homeowners association. Frankly, I have my own HOA to deal with... if you are so inclined, I would be happy to share our fascinating discussions of trash room etiquette, smoke from the nearby restaurant, 2 a.m. music, or our recent emergency plumbing issues. I can assure you that the details of the items that were cleared out of our pipes will cost you your appetite for at least a day-- they are recommended reading for any weight loss plan.

Even though I notified you all after the first message that I was receiving your mail erroneously, I have followed the continuing discussion with great interest. Over the last couple of days I have come to share your concern for the aesthetics of your lovely neighborhood, wherever it may be. Because I was so moved by your plight, I have taken the liberty of putting together a couple of proposals for hiding what is indeed an unsightly satellite dish, and transforming it into an asset to your neighborhood.

I am enclosing three proposals for your consideration. Please feel free to use any of them without compensation or credit-- my design skills are my gift to you.

Oakland, California
I do hope that I've been of assistance to them! Here are my proposals.

Dish Camo #1
Dish Camo #3
Dish Camo #2
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Subject:Property tax followup
Time:04:26 pm
I wrote Ron Thomsen, Alameda County Tax Assessor, a nice letter explaining that I thought his assessed valuation was a fantasy, and including two valid comps from my building that suggested the value was $130k lower than his delusional one.

He sent back a nice letter saying that my assessed valuation had been changed, and the new valuation was the one that I suggested.

This was surprisingly painless. 20 minutes plus one letter equals a four-figure savings.
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Subject:So I got a monitor
Time:11:34 pm
After thinking about it for a while, I decided that my best strategy was to pick up one of the cheap 27" Korean monitors and see how that worked out. If it worked well, then I got a shiny new monitor for less than $300, and my problem would be solved. It seemed that the worst case situation was that it would be usable but annoying, in which case I would use it as a second monitor and then buy a nice one.

Sunday evening I ordered an Achievia Shimian QH270-Lite from EBay. Sending $300 to some dude in Korea felt a little like doing a backroom deal, but what the heck... getting screwed out of that much money wouldn't kill me, though that didn't seem likely. This morning the monitor showed up in my office.

My review: the display is gorgeous. I see no stuck or dead pixels anywhere, and images are crisp and clear. Colors are rich. I haven't calibrated it yet, but intuitively the colors feel good. There's a little bit of backlight bleed at the edges, but it's minimal and it's in places where it won't affect me at all. The only controls are power and brightness, and both do what they're supposed to.

The stand is sketchy-- it works, and has tilt but not swivel, but it's not reassuringly solid. The monitor has VESA mounts, though, so I have plenty of options.

The power supply came with a Korean power cord, and there was a two-prong US adapter in the box. The power supply takes a standard power cord, though, so I just grabbed an extra out of my box o'cables and used it instead of the cord + adapter.

I'll know more after I use it for a few days, but overall I'm quite happy with the purchase.
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Time:05:41 pm
So I've been monitor shopping, and got a great tip in a comment from prock-- there are 27" IPS monitors available on EBay for less than $400. They're imports from Korea, and feature the same panels that are used in Apple & Dell monitors, though they're generally the A- ones rather than A+. The downside is that they're relatively shady transactions, and you're mostly on your own for a warranty. On the flip side, I can get the Dell U2711 for $699 right now, with a three-year warranty.

Last night I went to Fry's and looked at monitors. I think I've decided that I like the 30" version better. I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy the Dell U3011, though I'm going to wait a day or two and decide.
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Subject:Monitors and car chains
Time:11:13 am
Two things:

(1) I'm thinking of buying a new monitor. My current setup is two 1600x1200 20" monitors side-by-side-- I use the same setup at work. I'm thinking about switching both to one larger monitor. Currently, I'm thinking of the Dell 27" with a resolution of 2560x1440. It's an IPS monitor, which means that it has a huge color gamut-- that's important for me at home, but I couldn't care less at work.


(2) We had a car stolen out of our garage while I was at BARGE. There's a giant concrete pole in the garage right next to my car, and I have a chain with a padlock wrapped around the pole from when I had a motorcycle parked down there.

It occurred to me the other day that my car has nice sturdy tow hooks. Is there any reason that I couldn't or shouldn't chain my car to the pole in much the same way that I would a bike? I'm guessing most car thieves wouldn't carry bolt cutters, and/or would be likely to just try some other car.
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[icon] Patti
View:Recent Entries.
View:Website (pattib.org).
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