Yeninko of the Umlaut

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Rain? Yeah It's Starting To Get To Me

San Francisco set a new all-time record for rainy days in March marked the 24th day this month with rainfall, beating the old March record of 23 rainy days set in 1904.(source)

If at least half-an-inch or rain falls during today's storm, San Francisco will break the record of nine inches that fell during the month in 1983 (source)

Both of those stories were posted yesterday and looking out the window folks, it looks like another rainy day making it the 25th this month. I'm going to guess we'll get that other half inch making this the wetest March in SF ever.

If I was into this much rain, I'd live in Portland or Arcata.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Carter Does it Again

Carter-Led Initiative Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease

A painful scourge caused by a worm that burrows under the skin has been nearly eradicated in the developing world, thanks to an initiative led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Guinea worm disease is a water-borne illness that afflicted millions throughout the developing world just two decades ago. In 2005, however, health experts reported just 12,000 cases worldwide.

The disease is contracted when people ingest guinea worm larvae in water from tainted rivers and ponds. The thin worms make a home under the skin and can grow to over a yard long, eventually blistering through the skin and forcing the afflicted to seek relief in ponds, where the worm releases its larvae to continue the cycle.
Carter made guinea worm eradication a major goal of his Carter Center foundation back in 1986. He said he first saw the worm's horrific effects in Ghana in 1988.

"My most vivid memory was of a beautiful young 19-year-old-or-so woman with a worm emerging from her breast," he told the Times. "Later we heard that she had 11 more come out that season."

A mild pesticide can treat worm-infested ponds without harming drinking water, but local superstitions and mistrust of Western-led intervention have hampered guinea worm eradication efforts, especially in Africa. Drilling wells, or teaching families to strain drinking water through special sieves, can also help stop the disease.

Relentless efforts on the part of the Carter-led initiative have brought results, however, and health experts are hopeful that guinea worm will be the first infectious disease eradicated from the planet since smallpox. "I don't have any doubt that it will be eradicated during my active service," Carter said.

How exactly does one go about nominating a person for superhero?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Search is Finally Over.

As many of you know I have been seeking the holy grail of MP3 players. It started off innocently enough by following the rest of the sheeple and picking up an iPod. I was not impressed. After some more searching I found a player with all the functionality I wanted, the iRiver H320. Handy Buttons (no scroll wheel), FM tuner, recording mic built in, and an ability to delete music off the player without first attaching it to a computer. Unfortunately, the implementation of all those functions was terrible. To delete music you had to stop playing music, even if it was a different track, the FM tuner had poor reception, etc. I sold the H320 back from whence it came (eBay, bought and sold for the same amount as was the iPod Mini).

But now, now everything is different. I found what I was looking for. The Creative Labs Zen Vision (not to be confused with the Zen Vision:M)

Not only does it allow me to delete tracks on the fly (even as I play them), the FM tuner is solid, and it has a built in speaker which is handy cuz it plays movies on the 3.7-inch LCD. Now I can watch movies with anyone willing to scootch up next to me. The battery life is 120 hours which makes it perfect for those non-Jetblue flights. Obviously it displays digital images, and at 30 gigs has all the storage I imagine I’ll need.

Other features

• Compact Flash Slot so I can transfer photos from my camera straight to the Vision (I will require an adaptor).
• Personal Organizer that is actually handy to use
• An option to ‘remember’ music you want to buy. It will then remind you when you connect to the internet.

Some of the downsides
• Size, it is certainly larger than an iPod which could be an issue for some, though I imagine something with a smaller screen might make watching Battlestar Galactica movies harder.
• It doesn’t have a fiewire port which makes large amounts of data transfer slow.
• The software that comes with it has also has one buggy issue (it doesn’t let you move files to new directories easily).

Again of course, I bought it off eBay, for $285, which is about $115 off retail.

I’ve had it a week and so far I’m in love with it.

To complete this geek-out posting I went down to stand in line at CompUSA for there six hour March MADNESS!!! sale. There are fewer things that make you feel more like a nerd than spending half an hour in a line stretching down the block to buy a harddrive. But I did. Western Digital, 250G USB for $69.99 plus tax. Not to shabby


You've heard the argument before: if there's no God to anchor morality, then "anything goes," ethically speaking. So atheism is a dangerous belief system. Curiously, though, a recent Pew Research poll finds that Atheists are much less likely to condone torture than either Catholic or Protestant Christians.

As a you might imagine then, it makes perfect sense that new University of Minnesota study finds that "Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority" (how is that for a headline), less trusted than muslims, recent immigrant, gays and lesbians and other minority groups.

Huh, you'd never know it living in Sodom San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Abortion and South Dakota

As you may have heard South Dakota has passed law banning abortions for any reason other than to save the mother's life (Incest and Rape are not satisfactory conditions).

In response Cecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has made the following offer:

"I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

Full Text

Friday, March 17, 2006

After seeing Blade Runner in my teens and then reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the book that inspired the movie, I’ve been in awe of Phillip K Dick. Total Recall, based on Phillip K Dick’s, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, firmly cemented my appreciation of the author and for the capacity of his stories to translate to movies. While Total Recall may have not have been the best example, those two set the trend. Others include Screamers, Minority Report and Paycheck all of varying quality but to a SciFi fan (to whom quality is a very relative thing) solid movies.

Despite the quality of Blade Runner and Minority Report it seems that the best of Philip K Dick has been saved for Last. Imagine my surprise to find that trailers for A Scanner Darkly, which is perhaps my favorite of his novels, are already out.

In my surprise I went to and found that Next (based on The Golden Man) is in Pre-production. I wonder if the Man in the High Castle is next, the only book he won a Hugo award for.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Different

Some time ago, when I was in college, I found myself in Trevors tiny apartment in the Campus Apartments apartment building (sorry for the affront to clarity, I didn't name it that).

If you know Trevor you know he has a lot of cool stuff. I’d almost go so far as to call him a pack rat except that when you say something like, "I wish I had a microscope" or "Did you ever see that Viking II photo’s of Mars", he’ll wander off only to return with a high school microscope or a book on the Viking missions to Mars. In any case, I found myself sitting on the floor and checking out all the mysterious stuff that presented itself to me from under his bed and just generally all over the floor. One of those things was a small piece of paper, a scroll really, with the poem below by Rudyard Kipling. And it’s something I thought you might enjoy.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling

Monday, March 13, 2006

Netflixed Myself Back Up

Sometime last autumn I found myself being single and with a lot more things to do with my time than watch TV and was having a hard time justifying spending $20 on a move or two a month, so I canceled Netflix.

Maybe it was the rain or maybe I've been spending more time in bed snuggled up something warm, but last night I signed back up along with my roommates. We purchased the six movies a month subscription with each of us having two movies in our queue (a handy little feature of Netflix's). Top of the Queue? Science fiction and cartoons (specifically Star Wars III, Firefly and Chicken Little).

Oh and I saw Transamerica last night with Jason and Alyssa. Good movie. I can only recall one other movie that got an R rating since the 70's which featured either a vagina and a penis (Boogie Nights and the penis was fake). Transamerica had both. Sometimes it's hard to tell if this country is getting liberal or conservative, I'm thinking maybe it's just getting more complex hence the deed for the simple dichotomy.

Blah, blah, blah. I got movies to watch.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ooooooh, SNAP!!!

A while back the rear wheel on my bicycle seemed to be out of true (which is a fancy way of saying bent). It would rub up against the brakes (which I then disengaged) and eventually began running up against the frame, which is pretty untenable. I had the wheel trued (unbent) and began riding it again and the same thing seemed to be happening. I put up a posting on the Craigslists bicycle forum asking if I needed a stronger rim because I was bending it, or what. Someone mentioned that I may have broken the rear axle, which apparently is a relatively uncommon happening. Nonetheless, upon taking it into a bike shop I was informed that that was exactly what had happened. Coincidentally, Alex had just snapped the crank arm (the part a pedal attaches to) on his bike that week, again, another pretty much unheard of occurrence.

In any case, I then went to Costa Rica and it’s pretty much rained every day since I got back till today. Now finally having some spare money I took the I took the rim into the Local shop and had them replace the axle (I guess you need a special tool). I asked for the broken one and that is what you see below. Hardened steel with a clean snap in half.

When I posted my reply on CL explaining that, yes I had actually snapped the axle I got a couple of replies asking how I managed to do that on a road bike. I dunno, how does one snap a crank arm? Just lucky I guess.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Some Text on Costa Rica

Some observations on Costa Rica. First, Costa Rica gets a sizeable portion of it income from tourism (followed my agricultural and electronics exports). As a result the entire nation is geared toward tourism. Many people bilingual (English and Spanish) and those who aren’t, are happy to trade bits of their Spanish for bits of your English. Additionally, since 1949 when Costa Rica disbanded its military it has been largely unaffected by the civil strife that has enveloped many other Latin American countries. This has additionally strengthened Costa Rica’s robust economy, the strongest in Central America. US dollars are accepted most places without a second glance at close to the exchange rate, change is usually in Costa Rican Colones. Along with an emphasis on education (compulsory and free) Costa Rica has been able to devleop into a stable, peaceful, democracy. As such it is an ideal place to travel for tourist who are new to travel or simply prefer a less rough experience. Additionally, Over 25% of Costa Rica is composed of protected forests and reserves making it a significant destination for eco-tourist.

Costa Rica boasts two temperatures, warm and hot. The cabana we stayed in didn’t even stock blankets. While it rains nearly everyday during the wet season, the temperatures still hold in the 70-80 range due to it’s location near the equator.

We stayed in Tamarindo on the Pacific side, which was, until the movies Endless Summer and Endless Summer II affected it’s growth, a sleepy fishing village. Now it is an international surf destination due to it consistent and long, left and right breaks. While the waves are not sizable their consistency and length makes them ideal for beginners or those wishing to learn to surf. According to Harry, the owner of the Cabana where we stayed, the towns population is roughly 800, though the Liberia airport (the nearest international airport roughly one hour away) serves 40,000 people a year, a sizeable portion of which travel to Tamarindo and its environs.

An interesting side note is when speaking with Harry I noted that the streets in Tamarindo (largely unpaved) didn’t seemed to have any street signs. I wondered how mail was delivered with a lack of both street names and addresses. Apparently the postman simply memorized where everyone lived. Harry said that the postman would sometimes drop mail off with you if he saw you in a street or at breakfast.

Tamarindo is nestled between two national parks, one of which, the Las Baulas National Park is where leatherback sea turtles go lay eggs and where Jackie volunteered to help and protect them during this last egg laying season.

Visiting during the dry season meant that there was a lot less animal life present. I saw iguanas, Howler monkeys sleeping on a tree in the distances, geckos (which incidentally produce a sound that seems to mimic bird calls. I spent may an hour looking for a bird in my room before someone let me in on the secret), large insects including a spider whose body was the size of a bouncey ball, two inch grasshoppers, and a stick bug which seriously looks like a stick, and a scorpion.

The food in Tamarindo is heavily influenced by it's history of a fishing village. Rice is server with nearly every meal, beans (universally black beans) are served less so. Chicken and beef and pork are available. I have to take a moment and HIGHLY recommend their fruit drinks. The concoctions consist of some sort of fruit (papaya, banana, guava, pineapple, etc) either with milk (con leche) or with blended ice water (en agua), They run about $2 and I had at least five a day. I’d have more but I heard too much fruit consumption leads to the runs, which really, in retrospect, would have been worth it. All the fruit is hand cut when you order the drink so it is very fresh. Incedentally, the water in Tamarindo (and most of Costa Rica) is safe to drink.

Price wise the, you can find a place for ~$25 a right. Prices move up for luxury hotels like the Best Western (I'm not making this up) and down for various hostels, from there. Meals seemed to be the most expensive running from $6-8 for breakfast to $10-15 for dinner. In fairness we weren’t try to live frugally. Internet access is wildly available at various internet cafes. The flight was about $600. A bus ride from the airport runs $15. Zip line tours were $50+. Various other tours (volcano, scuba, surf tours by boat, etc) were similarly priced.

Most of our days were spent, sleeping, eating, surfing, napping, swimming in pools, reading, and surfing as god intended.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Costa Rica Pictures

Check out more pictures here (or view as a slide show).

UPDATE: Also you can look at everyones pictures >>here<<