Month: October 2005

Digital SLRs

{moszoomimglink:canon_eos_digital_rebel_xt}I have been a fan of digital photography since the early days (for amateurs). My Nikon 950, despite its shortcomings, shot wonderful pictures. So did the 990 that replaced it. Unfortunately, I was always dreaming of something better. I remembered my old days with the first autofocus cameras, my first EOS 650, and the beautiful pictures it shot. Stolen by a vandal in Amsterdam, it was replaced with a Minolta that, I am sure, was state of the art back then.

Nickel and Dimed (B. Ehrenreich)

A MUST READ. I don’t care what you have read this year, you HAVE to read this book.

An incredible account: successful journalist decides to descend into the bowels of mankind and tries to balance her budget by working like a low earner and spending like a low earner. She finds out that’s impossible.

What is really shocking is that she really, really tries. Barb goes in and tries herself at waitressing, at house-maiding, at Wal-Marting. And she fails. She fails, and she fails, and ultimately she fails. She just can’t make ends meet. Sometimes it’s the job that kills her, sometimes the housing market, sometimes her ailing health.


Second Month

{moszoomimglink:Honokaa/makai window frames (flash)} Back! This time, the weather was abysmal, but the progress was swift.

Brad succeeded in getting the floors done, the main lanai, the window frames. There was a lot to be looked at, and I am only sorry that it was so short. I had fun seeing the house growing, and for the first time I was already looking at furniture.

Brad was not only working on the house: he has been great with suggestions for improvement. He’s just about my hero in this whole deal – he worked for free for two months, then notified me he needed to see money, and stuck it through until I found some.

And the work!

I just gushed over the rows of screws that hold the lanai in place. Look at the floor, the precision of placement! Look at the window frames upstairs! Brad should not just be general contractor, he should have gotten a degree in architecture!

I am so pleased, I can hardly describe it. I can’t wait until it is Thanksgiving, and I will be able to stay there for five days!


It’s a sad moment. After a long series of sad moments. The 2000th American soldier died in Iraq. Despite the fact that I am not a citizen (yet), I find that deeply saddening. I am just thinking of myself when I was a young and stupid kid, being in the military, and realizing that’s probably who is in Iraq right now.

I remember us being trained in the Soviet Union being about to invade us. We knew that if that was going to happen, all of us would have been toast. And still we went on, happy to be around, happy to have friends – in uniform and without. We were silly, we were serious, but we always knew that it could hit us.

This is just for 2000 women and men in uniform that died in Iraq. I don’t care if it’s good or bad they were there. I don’t care if George Bush was right or wrong. What I care is that 2000 people died in their prime – all innocent people that wanted no harm to anyone.

God bless their soul. Every single one of 2000.

Into Thin Air (J. Krakauer)

Do you think an expedition to climb Mt. Everest sounds fun? Well, if you do, you should read this book.

Jon Krakauer is very sympathetic to the plight of mountaineers. He understands very well why people are attracted to high mountains, their rarified atmosphere, and to the incredible opportunities to die. And the latter are the most remarkable things about this book.

Sent by Outside magazine to discover the thrill of Everest climbing, Mr. Krakauer sets out with a group of unprepared humans and a set of sherpas and guides to climb the highest of Earthly mountains. The expedition succeeds, and all but a handful make it to the top.

Coming down turns to be difficult. Many a member perish, and the book recounts the deaths with mastery and conviction.


The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Ernesto "Che" Guevara, famous revolutionary, came from an upper middle class environment and dreamt of becoming a doctor before deciding to shoot at people instead. This movie is about the young doctor-to-be going on a road trip with a friend and discovering poverty.

Like a great many European (and European-inspired) movies with a background in social strife, this movie is very plump in its melodramatic accentuation of the rigors of poverty and prejudice. There is no criticism of the hero, who becomes pure and immaculate in preparation of his immolation on the crazy altar of politics.


OpenSuSE 10.0

I did it! After running my IBM Thinkpad T41 for a year on Fedora Core 2, I decided it was worth switching to OpenSuSE, in an attempt to move back to the old days (0.96) when I first started with SuSE, trying before deciding to switch this site to OpenSuSE as well.

I started with the BitTorrent download. Initially, this was extremely painful, because bits would trickle in at a snail’s pace, but after applying routing changes suggested and waiting for a while, things picked up. Instead of waiting for four days things were over in about 20 hours.

Then I burned the ISO images from the torrent to CD, and restarted my machine. Everything went up perfectly…


Searching a New Home

A few days looking… And it looks scary, very scary. The rentals are diminishing in number by the day, and the closer we get to the end of the year, the worse it is going to be. Maybe I’ll even have to move to a temporary shelter, and at this point even the cats are negotiable.

This is quite the tragedy for me. I should have reacted much sooner, in September, when the opportunities were still numerous. Or I should have waited until January, when the first people break their leases because they can’t stand it here. (Why?)

I still stand by my original assessment, only that now Palo Alto is pretty much out of the question because there just isn’t much going on. It would have been interesting, though!

Moving On Out

I received an email, then a letter from Jim, my landlord here in the City. He says he needs to move back into his apartment and gave me a generous 55 days to find a new spot.

I would be totally demoralized if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted this to happen. I wanted to move out, and he just kicked me in the butt.

Now, of course, the problem is where to move to…


What the Bleep Do We Know? (2004)

This is actually an interesting movie – not because of the content, but because of the way it mixes documentary with conventional story-telling!

Somehow the real story is never clear. Things move from physics to biology, to theology and then back rather quickly. At the same time, Amanda, a mute photographer with a strong aversion to weddings, has to come to grips with reality – a challenge much greater than one would think.

The real clincher of the story, of course, is Portland, which is the silent star of the movie. Starting from the Goose Hollow station of the MAX, the whole movie plays in my beloved Portland, and an intense sense of nostalgia overcame me.

The content of the movie itself is unremarkable – the usual hogwash of cognitive theories based on liberal interpretation of physics, in particular quantum mechanics. The ‘experts’ all sound a bit over the top, and the whole literal content is not good for anything.