Yeninko of the Umlaut

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kleine Äpfel

I found myself at the local Safeway admiring little apples and reflecting. Growing up I rarely enjoyed apples. It seems that the size of them simply prevented me from finishing them or, if I would finish them, I’d get that full bloated feeling that only eating a one pound apple can give. Which was odd because I loved oranges, apples, grapes, you name it. If it had a seed in it I’d eat it by the truckload.

Last Autumn while in traveling with Ginevra, Jenny and Chris through Europe I solved my apple dilemma. We were all staying with German Jenny at her Parents house, Jenny and Chris in the trailer in the front yard and Ginevra and I in the houddie* in the backyard. The backyard was littered with apple trees. These trees however weren’t your average commercial grade trees bred and enhanced to produce massive perfect Barbie apples. These were just plain old, drop-a-seed-in-the-ground-and-see-what-comes-up apple trees. And what came up were apple trees that bore small, sometimes unshapely, little apples. So small that you might need to eat half a dozen to feel full. And they were perfect. I took to filling my pockets with these apples from off the ground like some sort of prehistoric hunter-gather, and snacking on them as we traveled around the region taking in the sights. Natures first power bar, er, power orb. Small, filling and delicious.

Back at Safeway I was staring at these usually small apples on sale, reflecting on those apples and that time in Germany. I bought a pound and a half and filled my pockets on the way home.

*I dunno how it’s spelled but it’s like a shack, albeit a well developed one, with plumbing and all. We might think of it as a mother in alw unit.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It Is Cold

This weekend while in Half Moon Bay in my wetsuit huddling from the wind with Paula, Shawn made an astute point. Perhaps it was a little to cold to be surfing. Which is a pretty obvious thought if I had bothered to think about it. It IS getting cold. Just the day before I could hardly bare to crawl out of the warm electric blanket heaven that is my bed. In fact I didn’t for hours. I know that out here on the coast in California we don’t get the severe weather with snow and what like much of the country not but damn, it does get frigid out here. Things aren’t built for the cold. I’ve yet to see double paned windows on any of the house in which I’ve lived in California. I think it may be time to start snuggling in. Time to grab those sweat pants and extra blankets, warming up some yams and winter veggies and stocking up on some books. Today I rode my motorcycle through the rain to get it home despite my vow never to ride in the rain again because it looks like it isn’t going to stop raining for a while. But she is stored out of the rain and will probably stay there for some time. No more cycling through the city either.

Cold and wet. Luckily attending college in Arcata has prepared me for just such an occasion. No if I could only find some gamer kids to trudge through the woods with me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New Toy

Not too long ago I bought a new digital camera, my last one having died on me after only four years. Can you still get 1.2 megapixel cameras? Anyway , I bought the beautiful, sleek Olympus Stylus Verve.

Whilst looking for the best deal via froogle what do I discover but that Olympus makes water proof camera cases not only for the Stylus Verve but for nearly every one of their digital cameras, which, as far as I am concerned is one of the coolest things ever. Water proof also means sand proof, and even Playa proof for all you Burners.

I received it last night and tested it by leaving it in the sink for about 5 minutes and it looked good. What surprises me is that all the functions (buttons, scroll wheel, etc.) are fully functional while the camera is in the case. The case is only built to withstand water pressure up to 3 meters but I'll tell you, I get a little worried at about that depth so it shouldn't be a problem. Also the case, with the camera in it, floats. Which means if I drop it I am only probably screwed, not certainly screwed.

Now, I eagerly await my next trip out surfing. Alabama, when will you send back Jason?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


If you, like me, work in a large public building you are probably familiar with the security force present in such areas. The rest of you can’t possibly have missed these rent-a-cops when shopping late at night at grocery stores in urban areas or at the last visit to a hospital.

The point of this security forces has always eluded me. After all, what are these unarmed, generally overweight, individuals going to do exactly to provide security? Obviously they will be mostly useless if someone with a gun, or really any kind of weapon shows up. Even in unarmed combat I don’t think I’d be willing to wager on their ability to diffuse the situation. So why not use well trained and presumably well paid replacement?

Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was because it is simply cheaper to have some rent-a-cop show up and pretend they are not talking to their cousin on their phone. And to the causal viewer this would seem to satisfy all groups. The customers would feel like someone is watching out for them, the business operator would be saving some dough in insurance and the criminal would in no way be dissuaded from commiting a crime.

Or so it would seem. But then one day it all clicked. Imagine security dude in the lobby sitting around waiting for his shift to end. Now imagine some psycho intent on wiping out HR with his seven day old Bradley Bill 9mm. Psycho walks in, caps security dude before he has a clue, continues on to HR where everyone is freaking out, running and hiding. Panic and drama ensue. Now let us do this again with a real cop armed in the place of rent-a-cop. Armed cop is sitting there bored as hell waiting for his shift to end when Psycho walks in, caps armed cop before he has a clue, continues on to HR where everyone is freaking out running and hiding. Panic and drama ensue. Study’s have shown that when you repeatedly check for something that isn’t there you get bored real quick and end up performing poorly when needed. Think security screeners at airports looking their whole life for that bomb or gun that will never show up. This is the same situation in most security jobs, so having someone really well trained probably isn’t going to do much good.

So then, you ask, what exactly is the point of having ANYONE in the lobby watching for psychos? After all, trained or not these security people will most likely not be of much use to anyone. You are so astute! What a fine question! Let us go back to our little scenario. Psycho walks in bang, bang. Everyone runs, chaos ensues. But let us imagine the situation with no security at all. Psychos walks in, passes through the lobby, opens the door to HR and wastes the first five people who, totally unaware, don’t have a chance. So now accounting is dead as are both the guys who cut checks. Now you have to hire a new accounting team and find some to pay you before Friday because you already have tickets to Vegas. Now if you had had that security guy there, as soon as everyone in HR heard the pop-pop of gun fire they would pretty quickly make for safety. After all, we in HR know exactly how loved we are.

That security guard is out front just to take that first bullet so that the rest of us have a chance. A chance to run, or a chance to hide or wonder what those loud bangs were. He or she is much easier to replace than a highly trained specialist in the field of, in this example, Human Resources. And if that is the case, if that is really why they are there, then of course they should be low paid. If Sally in HR is making $12 an hour, why bother putting Joe, Security Technician First Class, who is making $25 out front to take that first bullet? A highly trained security guy is going to be at least as hard to replace as a highly trained HR guy. What you want is the cheapest guard possible since he is going to get offed anyway.

An that is why rent-a-cops deserve your pity. They are the poor mans Secret Service just waiting for the day when they take that bullet for you. And they don’t even know it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Miracle at Costco

I am easily awed and amazed, a point not so gently made By Mr. Dorfman, by the magnificence of simple things. For example let me regale you with an account of the events of yesterday which were, so far as I am concerned, a miracle of biblical proportions.
I have a greatly sliming number of bubble gum machines located in the Mission District. I fill them with candy and drain them of quarters every other month or so. At the request of one of the proprietors of a business where a machine is located, I was requested to stock the machine with nuts, which I willingly do. After all, I live but to serve. And, as you must already know, if one is to purchase nuts in bulk there is but one place to shop, that demi-god of suburbia (and urbia as well), Costco.

As any of you who have ever shopped at Costco must know it is neither for the faint of wallet, short of heart, or slight of time. Nonetheless, checking my watch as I arrived, I entered in that very latter state. I rushed to the nut section, hoisted up two five pound jugs of nuts and made my way to the queues. Fortunately for me they were short, it being just before five and all the worker bees not quite having left their hives. I jumped to a line which, while not the shortest, seemed to have an angelic spirit working the cashier position. Her speed and deftness were unrivaled in my experiences of the service industry. She hardly seemed to notice the humans, focusing only on scanning and processing of our bulk goods. At this time I had another uncanny bit of fortune. The couple in front of me, seemingly immigrants, from what nation was I cannot say though I suspect in may have been heaven, let me go before them. Near tears I handed my jugs of nuts to Beth the spirited machine of scanning.

Before I knew it my groceries were in a bag and I twenty dollars poorer. Shocked at the speed, I walked to the door and checked my watch. Not five minutes had passed! Not yet five! I can say with much confidence that I have never spent less than five minutes in a Costco, even when I have decided it was too crowded to shop and left without purchasing anything. Considering I usually bring a novel to read while waiting, the fact that I spent so little time shopping in Costco, much less a local grocery store, establishes the events at Costco on November 11th, 2005 as a miracle.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I’m not sure my life can get more convenient. As you may know I have a laundry to the right of my apartment and to the left is a grocery. Not only that but when I looked up my local polling place it turns out it is actually right next door in the grocery store.

I’ve voted today and I look forward to the results. In case you care I voted thusly.

Proposition 73
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

I voted NAY on this one because I’m not about to redefine life in the State Constitution.

Proposition 74
Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status. Dismissal. Initiative Statute.

I voted NAY Only because I feel like this is payback by the Governor. I think I might vote for it if it comes up as part of a larger education referendum.

Proposition 75
Public Employee Union Dues. Restrictions on Political Contributions. Employee Consent Requirement. Initiative Statute.

I voted NAY . If you don’t want to support the unions political objectives you are free to not join the union. Additionally, if you are in the union, you get to determine how your funds are spent through political means. And lastly if feels like BS since it only applies to unions that are made of government employees. What is that all about?

Proposition 76
State Spending and School Funding Limits. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Yea, I voted NAY on this one. A silly power grab by the Governor.

Proposition 77
Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

A toughie but I voted YEA on this. I realize this is probably a ploy by Republicans to try to get some sort of chance of gain seats both within the sate and federal government. Currently the California legislature determines the districts and since it is, and has been, democratically control for the last many decades what I feel has happened is that the Democrats and the legislature (which are the same thing). This means that the people getting elected are determining the dirstricts taht are electing them. This is where the word gerrymander comes from. So Prop 77 seems like a far way to determine voting districts which will probably mean a few more Republican districts, which I think is generally a bad thing but over all I think we should maintain a sense of fairness in the political realm.

Proposition 78
Discounts on Prescription Drugs. Initiative Statute.

I voted NAY on this bit of corporate appeasement.

Proposition 79
Prescription Drug Discounts. State-Negotiated Rebates. Initiative Statute.

I voted YEA for some a bit of real change.

Proposition 80
Electric Service Providers. Regulation. Initiative Statute.

Again this was hard to decide, but I voted YEA on this one.

I'm going to apologize right now for my spelling/grammer but I've become a total lightweight and as a result I'm feeling quite the buzz of one homebrew. Happy election everyone.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Let the Drizzle Begin

It looks like the rainy season has arrived in San Francisco, bypassing any hint of summer this year. As you may know, San Francisco and most of the North Coast tends to get sunny weather later in the year, August through September or October, but it looks like that won’t be the case year.

The rain here always reminds me of my life in Arcata. While I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to Arcata to live, I do remember with great fondness my time there and, I think for the most part Jethro Bell, Trevor Shirk and Susie Bacon are the reason for that. So to all of you, thanks. Wherever I am, when the sky becomes overcast and the drizzle begins, I’ll be thinking of you.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Travis is a Freak.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I’m a big fan of odds, of sizing things up using the blinding light of logic and indisputable force of math. Math brooks no argument, unlike its sissy cousin, statistics which brooks nothing but argument, however I digress.

From Frontline;

The odds of winning the California Super Lotto Jackpot are 1 in 18 million. For some perspective, it is three times more likely for a person driving ten miles to buy a Lotto ticket to be killed in a car accident than to win the jackpot. As a matter of fact you are much more likely to die in a myriad of esoteric ways than to ever come close to winning the lottery (or lotto) such as being killed by flesh-eating bacteria (1 in 1 million), a lightning strike (1 in 30,000) or cancer from eating a peanut butter sandwich a day (1 in 5,000) which sort of begs the question, peanut butter causes cancer? If you like to gamble you might try your luck at roulette where it is eight times more likely that the same number will come up four times consecutively than it is you will win the Lotto Jackpot

Surprisingly, it is only 62 times more likely to die from ignition or melting of nightwear (1 in 286,537) than it is to win the Lotto Jackpot.