Thursday, February 27, 2003

GDP of Iraq:
low estimate $20BN (CNN)
high estimate: $57BN (Mid-East Source Book)
most likely: $31.8BN in 2000 and $25BN in 2002 (Economist)

So, Iraq's total economy is about the size of the bribe we are offering to Turkey.

I wonder what it would have cost to just buy Iraq?

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

122 Labor Party MPs defied a three line whip today to oppose the war.
Defying a three line whip normally means expulsion from the party.
In 1994 8 Torys defied a three line whip and were expelled for a year.
Let's see if Tony Blair has the nerve to expel 122 members.
20 minutes in the car to go 4 miles on a freeway this morning.

I'm not used to working a full time job. I don't know how i did this for 30 years without going fucking crazy. Oh, ... come to think of it... i did.

The San Jose Mercury this morning says that the bay area is isolated from the rest of the U.S. Everywhere else there's support for the war. "The nation is more like Texas these days than California."

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Pax Romanus as seen from 100 AD:

"To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace."
- Tacitus (Senator, Consul, Gov. of Anatolia)
The Bear Market has now lasted 30 days longer than the Bear Market of 1929-1933.
To get a longer Bear Market you have to go back to 1893-1898.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Attended the premiere of two documentaries last night, 'Moment by Moment' and 'Seeds of Hope Take Root'.

For the last few months I've been working as a volunteer on "Moment by Moment". After the film, I was surprised to see my name in the credits.

The film is about a Molly Hale, a woman who developed her own recovery program after a serious spinal cord injury. Molly and her husband spoke after the film. He said, "While I was watching the film I thought, 'those people up there (on the screen) are extraordinary!' Then I thought, 'wait a minute, that's us'. But you know, we don't feel like we're doing anything extraordinary. We just get up every day, and do what it takes to get through the day."

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Another Beautiful day in Lake County. 72 degrees, green hills, goats grazing, cat on the Wireless Access Point.

I chased balloon with Tony yesterday, great sunrise, warm. Had a really fun time and great breakfast.

I saw 3 flags flying upside down at homes in Calistoga and a large banner saying "Not in our Names - No War in Iraq".

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Chased hot air balloons in Calistoga this morning. A welcome change to working in a cubicle, staring at a computer all day.

It was a shock to the body, however. I'm not used to physical labor.

Just a gorgeous spring day in the Napa Valley. Brilliant yellow hot air balloon floats in the brilliant blue sky over Calistoga. Below, trees filled with pink and white blossoms, and mustard blooms bright yellow between rows of twisted black grape vines. Bicyclists in neon-green jerseys pedal earnestly on Highway 29.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

* 1/19: Iowa Caucuses
* 1/27: New Hampshire Primary
* 1/19: Delaware "non-binding" Primary

* 2/03: South Carolina Primary
* 2/03: Missouri Primary
* 2/03: Arizona Primary
* 2/03: Washington Primary
* 2/07: Michigan Caucuses
* 2/10: Virginia Primary
* 2/17: Oklahoma Primary
* 2/24: Michigan Primary

* 3/02: Super Tuesday (Much of the NE, New York, and California)
* 3/09: Super Tuesday (Florida, Texas, and the South)
Quote of the Day:

"Stash away the duct tape. Don't use it. Stash it away."
-Tom Ridge

Gloria is due at SFO on Feb 27

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Sounds like northern Iraq is getting crowded. A couple thousand Turks with armor. A few hundred US special forces. 5000 members of the Badr brigade (Iranian Revolutionary Guard). The People's Mujahideen Organisation has about 8000 fighters in the north. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Basra Shia) have several thousand fighters in the north. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan now rules an area the size of Switzerland in the north. Various small time militia romping around the countryside. Sounds Colorful.
Does Old Europe Hate New America, Or Just President?

Check out the scathing column by Arianna Huffington about Iraq, oil, and the current administration.

Back slowly recovering. I'm stretching it out slowly during the day.

Had lunch with a friend who is paying for a $750,000 house in Silicon Valley. He is afraid there is a housing bubble in the Bay Area, and he's obsessed with picking the right moment to sell.

If he picks right, he can recover a big chunk of equity and buy a house in a rural area and retire. If he picks wrong he works for the rest of his life. He is nearing 60. His mortgage is so high that he can never hope to pay off the house in his lifetime, so he must sell before the bubble bursts.

Selling and moving means that he and his family will have to give up relationships developed in the Bay Area over the last 20 years.

Light rain all night in San Jose. I injured my back (not in Yoga class) so i'm hobbling around and moving very slowly this morning.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Montmarte images link doesn't work. Sigh.
Beginning week 7 of contract. Difficult, slow, monotonous work.

At Gail's recommendation, I started going to yoga class in evening after work. A traditional Indian yoga teacher leads the class through 90 minutes of sweat and streaching. After 14 days of daily practice:
- my appetite is diminished. I just don't have any interest in overeating in the evening. Prior to yoga class I always overate in evening after work.
- I sleep better.
- I handle stress better.
- My sense of smell is sharper.

I'm noticing that yoga is a useful weight loss motivator, simply by they way it raises my awareness of my body. There's no place to hide in Yoga class. I'm surrounded by mirrors, wearing spandex, and focussing attention on the body for 90 minutes. I *see* how overweight impairs movement. It's pretty ugly.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Sun shining. Hills are green. House is warm. Dogs asleep on the floor.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

It's been overcast all day. Shortly after dark it started raining steadily. Not really cold enough to build a fire in the fireplace, but we built one anyway.

Worked all day trying to fix M's computer. Can't figure out why it won't connect to wireless network. Looks like a motherboard driver problem. Times like this I *hate* MS windows.

Have been thinking a lot about being 50 something. Jim says it is like the end game in chess. Fewer pieces, fewer moves, fewer options, and the game is played differently.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Read the "50 something" generational article from the San Jose Mercury. The people in the article sound just like me. Laid off after 9-11, can't find decent paying work and "overqualified" for many jobs. Have to admit, for the first time in my life I'm scared.

It seems a kind of paradox that people are encouraged to get certifications and degrees in order to get better jobs. But then you're considered "overqualified" and no one will even talk to you. I can't even get jobs in aviation out here. Right now, I'd be happy to do my penance and crawl back to the airlines. Except they're going broke.

I'm starting to have regrets. Maybe I should have stayed with United Air Lines and had some financial security. Right now I feel like I'm floating in space with no anchor. Just brick walls all around.

Maybe it's just because it's 3am after coming home from work and I'm feeling tired and morose.

Office politics. They are incredibly intense in a recession/depression. People are scared, angry, and frustrated. They feel like they are losing control, and bad things are about to happen. Then they try and take control by playing office politics.

In this economy, most people's fears are justified. Bad things *are* going to happen. People *are* losing control. This week, the San Jose Mercury is running an excellent series on how people of different ages are making out in Silicon Valley.

It's not clear whether office politics gives anything more than the illusion of control, but it's the only option many people have these days.

From Rick Steve's travel newsletter. He's been getting hundreds of calls from reporters. They want to know if it's safe to travel. Among other things, he says...

"You may die this year from a number of causes. Here are a few of your odds:

Heart disease 1 in 300
Cancer 1 in 500
Gunshot 1 in 9,000
Car accident 1 in 18,000
Hit by a car while walking 1 in 45,000
Drowning 1 in 200,000
Lightning 1 in 4 million
Airline accident 1 in 8 million
Terrorist attack 1 in 9 million
I just came across a 17th century usage: Issac Newton is the very beagle of truth. (beagle?)

Well, why H.M.S. Beagle? The other RN exploration ships had names like Endeavor, Challenger, Bounty why Beagle? The web was built for questions like this.

The survey ship HMS Beagle just completed its 34th year of service and is to be decommissioned in 2003 (this is the 8th HMS Beagle).

Beagle II is due to lift off for Mars in June (ESA).

Darwin's Beagle: 100ft 10 gun brig.

Beagle: a detective, a constable, a bailiff

A virus hit the company this afternoon. Apparently it's memory resident, so all computers have to be powered off for at least 2 hours. Some of the newer computers apparently store information in cache, and it takes a whil e to 'drain off'. At first people were standing in the halls. Then people started to leave. 200 people miss 4-6 hours work, and probably spend another 4 hours to reconstruct what they were working on before the virus was discovered.

$ lost is hard to evaluate because most people (including me) will put in unpaid hours over weekends and evenings to catch up.

I'm at a coffee shop that offers free internet access. Enjoying a latte and fresh fruit while i surf the web and catch up on email. Three of four other people drink coffee and read. Outside a light rain is falling. When cars and busses go by, their tires a distinctive silky 'hummming' sound on the wet streets.

Looking forward to seeing Gloria.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Paglia's article was wonderful! Amazing how Bush, et. al., ignore most of the rest of the world along with the majority of American citizens. I'll expecting a new book to be written called " The Rise and Fall of Democracy in America". Now just waiting for someone to write it.

I've decided that the only way to make my employment life work out is full time telecommuting. So....I've devoted myself to making this happen. Ordered an interesting e-book for $8 called "The Real Deal On Telecommuting" written by Rosalind Mays. It's fun reading. The author starts out telling the reader how she got into telecommuting. She was a laid-off mom with two kids who increasingly could not afford to pay for childcare. And found out she was pregnant with their third child. So she decided it was a financial necessity for her to work from home. The book is a summary of her experiences and a guide to others. How to recognize "Work from Home" scams, etc.. There is a growing number of telecommuting moms. And boy, do they have websites!!

Now, just need to get started...

Monday, February 10, 2003

Yesterday Tom digitized a landscape photograph for me. I am using it as a screen saver.

A couple months ago, I took a picture of the road leading to lower lake. The air was filled with silky white smoke from huge wild fires in Oregon. It gave the landscape a muted impressionistic feel. I had the picture developed at a custom lab, and have had it hanging on my wall for the last couple months.

After Tom digitized the image I had to photoshop it to remove a heavy blue cast, and return to muted grass/earth/tree tones. My laptop computer display is heavily tinted in the blues. Flat panels in laptops are lit by tiny flourescent lamps that are very weak in the red part of the spectrum.

Now i have a beautiful country scene to look at while I'm in my Silicon Valley cubicle.

Lunch at an Italian restaurant today. Several friends. Everyone talked about the war (no one is in favor of invasion) and depression (everyone fears that the enormous debt load being run up by the governement will ruin the economy.)

Saturday, February 08, 2003

22 degrees last night for 8 hours. Winter may arrive yet.

I see the Australian Senate has just voted
in the government for the first time ever.

Friday, February 07, 2003

If my life teaches me anything, it is that i don't learn from history very well.

Push a microphone at me and i'll say something stupid, guaranteed.

I saw the Paglia column this moring and thought the same.
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.
-Will Durant
while at the local coffee shop this morning, i got interviewed for the local radio station. "What do you think of war in Iraq?" the interviewer asked. Then he pushed a microphone in my face.

I took the microphone and immediately started to sound like an idiot. Cliche's, etc. Later today i came across Camille Paglia's column in Salon magazine . She says *everything* i've been thinking. She starts by saying:

...I'm extremely upset about our rush to war at the present moment. If there truly were an authentic international coalition that had been carefully built, and if the administration had demonstrated sensitivity to the fragility of international relations, I'd be 100 percent in favor of an allied military expedition to go into Iraq and find and dispose of all weapons of mass destruction.

But most members of the current administration seem to have little sense that there's an enormous, complex world beyond our borders. The president himself has never traveled much in his life. They seem to think the universe consists of America and then everyone else -- small-potatoes people who can be steamrolled...


l'm deeply disturbed by this rush to war. I do NOT think it is not going to be the 'cakewalk' that Mr. Rumsfeld so confidently assumes. I spent four years (as a volunteer) in the US Air Force. My job was tending to systems that deliver nuclear weapons. I seriously doubt any of these slippery, smug, corporate bastards ever spent four years continuous service in *any* branch of the military.

Just purchased my ticket to California. Can't wait to come home and see everyone.

The dogs have been digging under the fence while we're away and taking themselves out for a walk. Guess we'll have to get creative about keeping them in the back yard.

Anne is very excited about starting her own mortgage company. She's putting everthing together that's needed to run an office. Her new office is only 2 miles from the house and is being rennovated and repainted by the owner. Anne selected the new carpet and will be moving into the office next week. The salespeople Anne trained at Fairmont Funding are leaving Fairmont and coming over to work for Anne. There are salespeople going in and out of the house all day. Barely a week after leaving Fairmont, Anne has 6 salespeople and 9 loans being processed. She's very happy.

It's good to see Anne so passionate and involved in the new business. Everthing is coming together for her. I've been explaining to Anne that I'm a firm believer in one's Path and one's calling. I think Anne has found both.
This is a test. Just published a blog that didn't post. Second try.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Great dinner with Tom and Gail last night. We met at a Thai restaurant next to the place where I work.

Wonderful conversation. Tom is going to Grad School. He's gonna do great. I'm happy for him. I remember following him around the Orsay museum in Paris. He gave me a two hour lecture on rennaissance and impressionist art. He's really quite good. Last night he started a rap about the influence of Dostoyevsky upon Van Gogh, and German expressionists. Fascinating stuff. It was great to see them.

A couple nights ago I walked out of exercise class without dressing warmly first. Standing in cold night air in full sweat. This morning, I'm sniffling and coming down with a cold. First one in a couple years. I hope it's not the 'mega virus' that is going around. Everyone that gets it reports 2 weeks of physical hell.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

bill joy says "the network is a computer".

A modern notebook computer has built in: Ethernet 10/100, wireless, usb, modem, firewire, and bluetooth.

Not so long ago, adding a simple modem was a Big Deal. Amazing changes. Bill was right.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Last Night was the first frost of the year.

Monday, February 03, 2003

The results of a European internet opinion poll in the paper this morning. 7% believe Iraq to be the leading threat to world peace. 84% believe it to be the USA.

My laptop died. I have to buy a new one. Looks like there are two design philosophies in laptops. Slim and sexy and fat and reliable. Day-to-day use in an industrial environment kills slim and sexy laptops dead. Fat and reliable just keep klunking along. IBM thinkpad looks like best way to go. But i will see who has good sales. Laptops are (what's the word for it...) disposable? items in this business. Maybe good for three years at the max.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Now let's think about this:
The League of Nations did not stand up to Italy when it invaded Abysinia.
The French and English did not stand up to Germany when it invaded the Sudatanland.
Are those that fail to stand up to the US when it invades Iraq also appeasers?

Of course its the oil. But, I suspect it is not oil as a natural resource that we are after, if that were the case Saudi Arabia is a more plusible target. I suspect that Iraq is a large pile of money that is relatively unguarded. They are already deciding who gets what contracts.
Best theory I've seen yet of why the US administration iso hell-bent on invading Iraq. It's at
James Kunstler's web page. It makes sense to me, but then I'm really cynical.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

dianna is finally over the 2 week plague.
still no frost at all this year. we have gone into what seems like a 9 month per year spring.
gloria is due here in late Feb. early Mar.

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