Monday, November 30, 2009

Klamath Falls - Not Exactly (Part I)

My accidental Klamath Falls adventure. This occurred by driving to the back side of Mt. Shasta and neglecting to turn the car around. I'm from Southern Calif and grew up taking part in impromtu driving tours so this behavior is quite natural for me.

I WAS going to do my usual Black Friday Snowshoeing on Mt. Shasta, but the weather was so-so.

and I've done that trip a lot so I decided to stay in the car and go check out what the North Side of Mt Shasta looked like.

Well as you might guess, it looked a lot like this.

But looking the other direction on Hwy 97 looked downright inviting. Compare the view over the hill with the view in the mirror. So I continued on as I was curious about the roads that lead to the trail heads even though I knew they weren't passable and you could totally tell that me and my non-4WD were not going on them. So I just kept driving thinking that I'll turn around at any second.

So then I find myself coming into the tiny CA-OR border town of Dorris.

Dorris' whole purpose appears to be about getting in your way. It's like they used the border crossing (see photo) as a theme (see map). Zig. Zag. Zig. Zag. And don't you really want to stop at one of our fine dining establishments?

So after some zigging and zagging I find myself in Oregon and I see that Klamath Falls is just ahead even though I feel like I'm walking as the Oregonian speed limits for highways that aren't interstates is the glacial 55 mph. I've never seen Klamath Falls so I decide to check it out. Might be pretty, and I love water falls. Hold that thought for part II.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Hazards of Driving While Listening

I love listening to audio books and podcasts, but they are not without their hazards especially when driving.

I've gotten somewhat used to avoiding the Drive off the Road While Laughing hazard that Wait Wait Don't Tell Me needs to disclose. Or the OMG Can You Believe That?!! one that often accompanies This American Life (and once in a while Fresh Air).

But the one I haven't quite gotten used to is the slow building, steaming, sex scene (of whatever genders involved) that, while not the abrupt laugh out loud hazard, has that steady attention derailment effect that can make you drive into a parked car without even realizing it. It's insidious too. I'll be fine and then I realize that my imagination has completely absconded with my brain (mmmmm) and then I jolt back to the reality of moving more than 5 mph in a vehicle larger than a bicycle and then I have to pause the book a moment. I'm getting better, but these things really need to have Use Caution When Operating Heavy Machinery While Listening to This Book. I mean really. This is something you REALLY don't want to have to explain. "I drove into the back that car because well you see... Oh, never mind."

My current hazard right now are the heavy petting incidents (of various genders) in James Baldwin's Another Country (at least it's a classic that's making me a driving hazard).

Less vaulted, but just as fun distraction material can be found in
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong - seriously, steamy, werewolf sex
and The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher has some rather distracting interludes as well.

And I just noticed that Diana Gabaldon's sexy historical fiction series/romp Outlander is available in audio. That's amazing and I'm surprised that terrible crashes haven't been blamed on it.

Mortise and Tenon Who?

Dealing with my garage carriage doors is becoming quite the journey.

So I've been learning the hard way
  1. Don't be more anal that the tradespeople you hire
  2. If you can't afford more anal tradespeople then you have to
    (a) Get used to it
    (b) Learn how to do it yourself
For the most part I've done ok with (1) or (2a), but when it comes to intricate Victorian woodwork I'm really learning that's not the case. It's something I feel strongly about, and want to do the history right. The amount of artwork and craftsmanship in a Victorian Carriage Door (, is just exquist, and I've inherited some that are just falling apart.

Up until recently, I've been totally intimidated by the doors - We have a more complicated version than shown here: Terri's been showing me how they were put together and that just intimidated me more, and I just couldn't fathom how mortise and tenon ( and a page with a nice illustration: worked at all especially on something as large as a door. Carriage doors are amazing puzzles that hang together just so.

I had someone working on the doors and when i got them back I wasn't happy with the door that was the worse off (the other was ok and we had managed to do the other two ourselves). After staring at it for a while I decided that I needed to really commit to learning how they fit together and do it right as doing that meant that the money I spent would net me more skills (and more tools!).

So I undid the sloppy patch and am now contemplating what's really involved. The thing that was really getting to me was that I just couldn't visualize how routing really worked despite all the pictures I looked at. Enter: You Tube. What did I ever do before Google and You Tube? I watched 10 or more routing demonstrations of varying quality. My favorite was the slightly goofy:, but there were a whole bunch of other ones. As I watched, my imagination worked out how it could work on my doors and then I had it all in a flash (mostly).

The cool thing is that Terri inherited a router from her Dad. After my You Tube session we dug it out and I started seeing how it worked and what we needed. The hard thing about routers is their versatility and the fact that this weirdly shaped bits can carve out something beautiful.

So then it became what router bits will create the right shape so we can recreate the broken piece of the door that has to fit in just so - but not quite "just so" as the other side is kind thrashed too.

When you look for router bits you need to look at the profile that they carve. This site showed exactly what we needed: a Beading Bit : The wood will have to have the beading bit pass over the edge on each side and a regular bit to carve a channel (clearly I'm going to need a picture here.)

Fortunately the beading bit has a little roller on it where it can roll along the wood. The tricky part is cutting a straight channel down the edge of the wood (that holds the interior panels in place). That took a lot more thought last night. This is going to require the application of money but not as much as I thought (and the router bits aren't that expensive fortunately.

The thing that we need to insure a very long straight channel is the same concept as putting a saw in a table (i.e. a table saw). Yes a "router table." Turns out that routers are built with the idea that it can be guided by hand or bolted into a table and they are not priced in the stratosphere at all and cost less than half a day of a craftsperson's time. Here's a basic one and I think it's all we need:
What I find amusing is that you can't even see the router in the pictures because it mounts upside down. They have these mounting holes in the router that allow you to do this to it (how very clever.)

So after staring at these doors for years and doing small piecemeal work on them like patching/puttying holes and replacing the windows, I can now better see the big picture and I'm actually excited about this. I'm sure reality will set me back a bit, but I'm enjoying this small euphoric, rose-colored, highly theoretically-based insight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New development in MS research

An Italian Professor of Medicine Paolo Zamboni, after much research and re-research which included dusting off a lot of old medical text books, has developed a surgery that early evidence is suggesting that it might dramatically improve the lives of Multiple Sslerosis suffers.

Things are still in the early stages, but what has been written about so far is intriguing and leading to some annoying conspiracy theories (one is at the end).

The story has a great romantic side as Zamboni was motivated by his own wife's MS.

I can't help but wonder that since his specialty is Vascular areas that it's one of those "When you have a hammer, every problem is a nail" things, but maybe it really is a nail. All in all it's very intriguing and I will be watching it develop.

Oct article by the MS Society basically saying it's interesting, but more information/research is needed.

Zamboni's own web site

His linkedin page:

One bordering on wacky conspiracy article is here

I left a comment that they'll never approve so here it is:

You need to have a citation for the "[Drug companies] in an uproar" comment as there's no obvious Google evidence for it at all. At this point it looks like you just made that up.

And there is no "unbelievable array of drugs prescribed for MS" There is only the ones you explicitly list: A.,B.,C.,R., and Tysabri and that's it. Everything else listed is just for secondary symptoms that someone may or may not get.... Read More

The MS Society in the US has said that if they get a solid research proposal they'll likely fund the research.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Berkeley Brick and Mortar Adventure

I don't get out to stores enough particularly ones where parking is a challenge like Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley a place I used to go to a lot. Fortunately UC Berkeley has opened up the Channing parking lot to the public for a $1 and hour which is more than reasonable. It's funny, it you give me parking then I will come as it's not like you see me not going to REI, and Mike's Bike's now has parking which helps a ton - though I mostly stay away from Mike's Bikes in financial self defense.

My mission was to go to Amoeba "Records" on Telegraph to order Philip Glass's ("'s" rule is here) opera Satyagraha (sa-TEE-a-gra-ha - and yes I had to ask someone how to say it). I'm not an opera fan, but I love Philip Glass's operas - especially that one. It's just been rereleased and the price has plummeted. The person helping me (whose name I have narrowed down to three possibilities and am afraid of committing the wrong one to memory - though I'm leaning towards Zachary) explained that the contract has expired and now it's just profit for the record company which explains why the price dropped from $50 to $18. The price of this particular Opera has gone completely all over the place since it went out of print. I have a whole separate entry called "That LP You're About to Replace? Check on It First" on the ridiculous prices I have found on Amazon Marketplace. But back to Amoeba... I asked about a different Glass opera called Einstein on the Beach but that's still in the earlier really expensive category. (Though I do think it's out of print so that may change in not too long of a time - I told them to keep an eye out for a used copy for me.) It's funny, I have been carrying around a $20 credit for Amoeba for the longest time and I just can't believe that I might have credit left over (that won't happen as I don't want another piece of paper to carry around for over a decade, but I do have some CDs I could sell them and then get more store credit - aaaaah!)

Order placing mission accomplished I then went across Telegraph to spend lots of money at Moe's books (
I'm really glad I finally got my butt out to that part of Telegraph as it's so good to see Moes. It's sad to see Cody's books all closed up. I asked Moe's how business was with them gone and the clerk said that it was ok since they have a difference clientele, but that they missed having Cody's around.

Telegraph is much the same in a way. Still has that dilapidated feel to it, but that's always been the case (maybe a touch more without Cody's). I am resolved to show up more. It's fun to actually go into stores these days. They seem very happy to see me.

The basement of Moe's is like having my own personal book buyer. I'm spoiled as I have the locally owned Books Inc in Alameda, but it's Moe's and Cody that really have the special place in my heart. I can walk into Moe's and always find something cool to read. From Moe's I got the new David Byrne book Bicycle Diaries (no link - go buy it a Moe's), Mort an older book by Terry Pratchett that I need to reread, and for Terri: Stephen Colbert's I am America and So can You. She's thrilled at the surprise.

I really also need to get over to 4th Street in Berkeley also but I don't have quite the same romantic attachment there except for Bette's Diner (bliss.) Oh and Builder's Booksource and the Pasta Shop and I hear that Title Nine is moving there (risky move hope that works for them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Opting out of Valassis Advertising Mail

I make a career out of getting off of junk mail lists, purely for the challenge and also because it's so irksome having a large pile of pointless newsprint come in. Unfortunately, my postal carrier doesn't know that and thinks that everyone gets one (I keep trying to explain about opting out, but he doesn't get it). But if I can make it so that there isn't one there to deliver, it's ok. It used to be that there was a card that had to accompany the advertising, but that appears to have changed. This is for the better as the card was always getting separated from the rest, and I would be bestowed a pile of paper with no identifying marks on it.

Now there has to be a return address on the advertising which means that opting out should be easier. On this one I'm looking at the first page shows who it's from in teeny tiny print, but it's there. and it is from a company called Valassis.

The cool thing is that if you can figure out the company name then they always provide a way to remove yourself from the mailing list. A quick Google reveals the contact page:

and the opt out is right there on the menu:

Select: I am a: Consumer
Select: I would like to go green and be removed from your mailing list
Enter your mailing address and click Submit

Hopefully that will be it. They say it takes 5-6 weeks but we'll see if it that works after that.
Certainly when I opted out of ValuPak it worked though I had to write them then.

[Update 11/25] Got another pile. I'll have to keep track to see how long this takes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That LP you're about to Replace? Check on it first

I was waxing on to Terri about the incredible beauty of Philip Glass's 1980 opera Satyagraha, and how I only had an LP of it and wanted to get a electronic copy. I took a glance at iTunes and was mystified that out of 100's of listings for Philip Glass I wasn't finding it except on a really expensive retrospective and that didn't even have the full work.

So I went back to Google and Amazon has an entire Philip Glass store (wow) and I found it there. Prices for the CD set start at $40 and I noticed that it wasn't listed on the main site which means it's out of print (sees like a crime personally). Scanning down the list I see the prices hovering around $40-$50 (expected - it's a 3 disc set) and then suddenly they jump to 89, 90. 100, 120, 159 ?? What is going on? On closer look I see words like "slipcover," "libretto booklet," and "disks appear unplayed" Huh? When's the last time you could tell if something was played? OH! When it was made of vinyl! They're talking about LPs. It starts to slowly sink in and I go find my copy just to make sure it's still there. There it is gathering dust. Something I was thinking of replacing is actually worth several times what I paid for it. That's a nice surprise. And I do have that "libretto booklet" which is a thorough description of the opera. I'm wondering if I can get that $15 price tag off the front without messing it up.

The weird thing is now what do I do? I guess I should put a post it on it saying that it is worth money and shouldn't just be tossed out (unlike say the other LPs). We are going to be digitizing some of the out of print LPs but now I think I should probably just get the CD rather than play it again. Fortunately the price of the CD hasn't changed that much save for the fact that the price of the used one is pretty close to the price when it was new 10 years ago.

Just out of curiosity I check on another Glass opera Akhnaten which I have on CD. Similar story. Out of print average price is around $35 with a weird sudden price jump to 65 for a couple of CD sets and then up to 90 and 115 for what must be LPs, though I'm not sure as Akhnaten was released in 1987 and CDs were becoming the norm then.

For fun I also checked on Laurie Anderson's 4 CD set United States which is also out of print on CD though you can order it in MP3 format new (because she's nothing if not high tech :). Prices for the CD Box are even more insanely variable. 40 to over 400(?!)

Strange that something that just sits around becomes more valuable simply because they're not making more of them, though it's little weird with the CD getting more valuable since it can easily be copied. Guess I'll at least dust them now. Maybe CD box sets are an investment of sorts. Now I'm trying to figure out what will be the next big thing. Actually that sounds like a money trap so I should pass, and just stick with what I'm passionate about which is plenty.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gyms: Strangely Similar to Parallel Play

This has been occurring to me for a while and is now really sinking in. My gym is very much like adults doing parallel play. That type of play that very young children do when they're able to play with toys in the presence of other kids but don't want to interact with them.

Now that's not entirely fair. People do interact with each other esp if the already know each other and I know some folks in class, but it's not the default. I'm so used to dog and team sports where you have to interact, and it's part of the fun. I think I'm feeling this acutely right now because I took a month off to heal from some tendonitis and I hadn't been doing the RPM class as much any way. Now that should be nothing for regulars, but it's just long enough for some shifting around and the people I usually see there aren't there, and I never knew them that well. Compare that to dog agility where I know people very well esp. if they're in a class of mine or in my club. Even in herding or obedience I have plenty of time to talk to people, and I used to that and miss it.

Now my gym membership is due and I think I need a break from it, but it's a great way to get wintertime exercise. However it cuts into my dog walking time and I don't like that and I can run with Trek at noon if I like. Not to mention (that's a weird phrase as I'm about to mention it), it's expensive. If you have no other way to get exercise it's an excellent choice, but I think I can keep up with it and there are running, biking, hiking clubs a plenty so I'd get my social outlet too.) And I can't help but look at the price and think that's 11 lift tickets or 1/2 a bike. I'm also at risk of my depression coming back if I don't exercise, but I actually feel more depressed after the last two gym visits, so maybe it's not helping with that at all. I like the dog walks as I spend the a lot of the time talking to the dog, and they actually listen too. I think they're easily amused. I also talk to people whose houses I often pass by on the walk.

Though I will certainly miss the over the top nature of the RPM class. I just love it. I think I have to wait long enough to miss it.