Month: October 2006

And the winner is: Orhan Pamuk

One of those serendipities in life: I had started reading "My Name Is Red," by Orhan Pamuk. I would read it sparingly, because the writing was incredible and it was a pleasure to just revel on each page; maybe the mystery thriller aspect was not too forthcoming (I find the book still a little on the slow side, of course). In any case, I was about to write wonderful things about the interaction between the original writer (Pamuk) and his congenial translator, a native of Turkey that is to write his first novel.

No sooner do I do this, that NPR announces Mr. Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature. No sooner does that happen, that the government of Turkey issues a statement accusing the Nobel committee to have awarded the prize for political reasons. Turns out Mr. Pamuk is accused of being a treasonous Turkey-slanderer. 


Finding a Custom X

Well, I decided to treat myself to something special, this year – a Custom X. My friend D. has one, and it looked like it could do a lot that my own Cruiser couldn't. It's more rigid, but has better torsion flex. The cruiser behaves a little like it doesn't even have a core!

I went to REI, and they had only the green model. Not wanting to look like a frog on the mountain, I checked Sports Basement, but they had only one Custom X, size 160. Where to find a 156? 


New Boots: K2

Would you have guessed how I spent my $150 REI gift certificate? I went to – drum roll, please – REI and bought myself a new pair of boots. What was wrong with the old ones? For one, the lacing system was a pain to deal with: the strings would get wet and then freeze, and I would alternately cut off the circulation in my fingers and then in my feet from trying to tie them strongly.

I compared the three brands they had in the store: Burton (my first preference), K2, Solomon, and Vans. Once I saw the different boots in real life, I quickly honed in on the Vans. They were incredibly easy to tie, and amazingly durable. Once in the boot, you simply tie the front clip, then twist a dial in front that latches a cabling system. I loved it!!! 


New Spam: Bush’s staunchest

You know that a politician has become a hallmark when spammers start using their name in subject lines. This is because spammers have to guess some subject that is so common that it won't trip up the spam filters. So the moment I started seeing more and more Bush spam, I knew that George W. Bush had made into the rare category of iconic that is the man that everyone talks about…

I mean, that's quite a feat: I receive no spam pretending to talk about Jesus, Mohammad, Marilyn Monroe, or Christina Aguilera! That it would be Bush my spam talks about can only mean one thing: the random email generators are trying out everything, and the spam filters cannot tell real pro- and anti-Bush rants from spam! 

Do you live at home?

The company that insures my home in Hawai`i, Zephyr Insurance, is requesting that I prove that I am living in Hawai`i. Hmmm…. That's kinda hard…. The mail doesn't deliver in Ninole, I have no utilities, and gym membership is not good enough…

Now the big question, of course, is why does my insurance company care? Ok, I get the part about the house standing empty – but then again, there is currently nothing much to steal there! So, since there isn't much to steal, there isn't much risk. Unless someone gets into the house and burns it down to the ground, or steals the posts, what business is it for the insurance company?

Of cuorse, this kind of bureaucracy has its own domino effect: if the insurance company determines that I do not live full time in Hawai`i, then they will probably cancel my insurance. If they cancel my insurance, my bank will promptly start asking the same question, and at that point may choose to foreclose.

What a strange world: I have to prove that I am living in my house, but don't really have a way to do that. Maybe the car? Maybe the furniture? Maybe a visit once in a while, and if I don't respond within a week, then I am in trouble? Go figure… 

First snow in Heavenly!

After an absurdly disappointing October season in 2006, things seem to be more reasonable this year. Maybe the 5th of October is a bit early for the first winter fluff, but it's the first inning in what we all hope is going to be a great season!


Starting off the season in BC

It's that time of the year again! I am starting to feel the chill in the morning, and the board is looking longingly at me every time I walk through the basement to get to the car… It's snowboarding season! (Almost.)

This year, it sounds like I am going to be invited over for a Thanksgiving event to Whistler. Remembering how much last year sucked (no snow until mid-December), I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, and I'll get a chance to tell you all about the wonderful mountains up in British Columbia. Stay tuned!

Escaped another bug

Looks like the cold season already started: everybody is reporting symptom of the common cold, like persistent cough, sinus infection, fever, headache. The whole nine yeard. This year, the cough seems to be particularly persistent.

 Ken, my spinning class neighbor, insisted on coughing in my direction, and I got away with a mild case. Fortunately, my immune system recognized the attacker and reacted right away. I woke up feeling miserable yesterday, and by end of day things had started to get better. Today, working from home on a sunny San Francisco Tuesday, things are fine again. Well, except for the skin on my face, which looks like I am 15 years old again and pimply…

Which brings me to a question: does exercise exorcise the cold? My mentor in Aachen, Prof. Dr. Roepstorff, told us he would play tennis when he felt sick. If it didn't kill him, it got rid of the cold. I can only say that he looked extremely healthy! 

What does a beetle taste like?

So I was at Trader Joe', buying raspberries. You know, those red buggahs that spoil within a day if you don't notice they are molding? Well, I was going through the packages, most of them in advanced stage of rot, and found 4 that seemed passable. The best one had evidently been left out because it had a sizable black beetle in it.

At home, I place the berries in the refrigerator – some of them in the freezer, where they won't rot – and make a mental note of checking the package out in the morning. I wanted to get the beetle out safe.

Next morning, I have a sore throat from my neighbor in spinning class (that's at least the assumption) and I don't feel quite myself. I prepare the coffee, then fix the yogurt with the raspberries and cereal. I remember to check, but I can't see a beetle. I suppose I expected something crawling, but there wasn't anything. 


What’s the Matter With Kansas? (T. Frank)

Eureka! Finally a book that manages to be original and not controversial!

Despite frequents jabs against his own home state, Mr. Frank manages to give us an outstanding introduction to how Kansas turned from the most progressive state in the Union to one of the most conservative and (in the eyes of the authore) most backwards states.

And the reason is: elitism!