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Category: News: California

March 31, 2008

Sewage Plants

An SF group called Presidential Memorial has formed with the goal of sponsoring the following ballot initiative:

"Should the City and County of San Francisco rename the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility the George W Bush Sewage Plant?"

I'm against it mainly because the analogy is inappropriate: a sewage plant eliminates crap.

July 3, 2007

Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

Simpsons 7-11According to the 7-11 Kwik-E-Mart Locator, one of Mountain View's 7-11's has been redone Simpsons-style:

San Francisco, CA/Mountain View, CA

Clang, clang, clang went the Squishee; ding, ding, ding went the Hot Dog!

1380 Pear Avenue
Mountain View CA, 94043

Appropriately enough, across the street from the movie theater

June 26, 2007

85 Galaxies

85 Galaxies

Frank Chu's sign now sports 85 Galaxies. What oh what will 12 Galaxies do?

via SFist, photo credit: impeach

May 25, 2007

MacArthur Maze already reopened

I couldn't quite believe it when I read in the paper today that the MacArthur Maze is already re-opened. The contractor,C.C. Myers, had predicted this short of a timetable (and banked money on it), but it's been less than a month since the interchange collapsed. Somehow they (Caltrans, C.C. Myers) managed to cleanup the debris, test the damaged concrete and steel, put together a reconstruction plan, ship parts from Pennsylvania and Texas, and get it all assembled.

I once watched a video in engineering class where two teams raced against each other to each build a house in under 24 hours. That was plenty impressive, but there were test runs, much planning in advance, and amazing feats of spackling. Repairing a freeway interchange with no advanced notice in 17 days seems more impressive to me.

May 21, 2007

Caltrain Bike Survey

caltrainCaltrain has a survey up for bikers that is worth taking the time to fill out. The survey fills me with a bit of dread because it ignores the #1 reason why biking and Caltrain has hit a snag: Baby Bullets reduced the number of bike spaces by 50% on trains. Just about everyone I talk to shares the opinion that they could design the Baby Bullet bike car better.

Rather than address the source of the problem, Caltrain seems focused on bike deterrence: charging extra for bringing bikes on and adding more/better bike parking. The latter is a good thing but does little for people who need their bike at both ends.

There is an additional tangential proposal to move the bike car to the southernmost car, which is more related to San Francisco bike congestion.

Thanks for the heads up, Cyclelicious.

May 15, 2007

Southwest + SFO

On the heels of comes the new that Southwest will begin SFO service August 26. I'm excited: SJC is closer but I'd rather Caltrain to Millbrae than Santa Clara.

See also: ota's notes on Southwest President Colleen Barrett's Stanford talk

April 29, 2007

So glad I don't have to commute to Berkeley anymore


The news coverage on KRON 4 has me and d in stitches as the newscasters attempt to show how you can circumnavigate the current mess in the Maze. I believe their eventual advice was, "Good luck." (and a whole heap of BART tips)

The Chronicle also has its fun quotes:

"We're screwed, huh? That's going to be rough on everybody," said Joe Dorey, 55, an engineer who lives in Oakland.

March 8, 2007

Future of the salt beds

My favorite sight flying into the Bay Area are the Cargill salt beds. Many of those beds are in the process of being returned to wildlife refuges and the Mercury News has an article about the 50 year, $1 billion plan in the works. Although I'll miss the colors that high salinity can bring, I look forward to more wetland trails and wild life.

October 26, 2006

Wireless Caltrain in September

It looks like September is the target date for wireless on Caltrain. This isn't as tempting as it once was as my Caltrain commute is a lot shorter nowadays, but there does appear to be a benefit for even those that don't crack open their laptops:

One side benefit is the technology may help Caltrain and commuters track trains using Global Positioning System, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.

I've always been annoyed that the digital announcement boards at Caltrain rarely tell you anything useful about the train schedule. Most often they show ads for Caltrain service; rarely they tell you when Caltrain will be late. If this would allow Caltrain to more frequently provide time estimates for trains, or if it would allow me to have an online tracker that could tell me when I needed to leave the office, that'd be fantastic.

Caltrain aims to bring the office on board -

Squirrely election


Dana Street Roasting Company has this amusing photo on their tip jar that I had to share. I've joked around with friends that squirrels will be the deciding issue for this year's local elections (three city council positions are up for grabs). The local papers have run amok with stories of the Cuesta Park squirrels attacking children: are they rabid? will Mountain View trap or kill them? are our children safe?

I can't seem to avoid squirrel tales in this area. First, there's the many apocryphal tales of the Stanford black squirrels: they escaped from a Stanford Lab, Jane Stanford brought them back from Italy, etc... the truth is that they are fox squirrels that probably migrated with the Transcontinental Railroad. Then there are the Xerox PARC squirrels, which are fond of eating the wiring out of cars (they are not alone). Then there are the SRI suicide squirrels, which sacrifice themselves on the SRI power grid to short out our power for the entire day.

Now there are the violent Cuesta Park squirrels attacking our children. Will we make them wear tiny GPS devices? Will we build a fence to keep the Stanford squirrels from entering Mountain View? Important election issues.

Remember to vote.

August 3, 2006

Wireless Caltrain?

Caltrain has successfully tested a proof of concept for wireless Internet on its trains. I'm a bit torn over this, but not too much. In the past I've felt that I'm much more productive while programming on Caltrain because I don't have Internet connectivity -- I can focus on programming instead of answering e-mail or surfing the Web; however, my Caltrain trips are pretty short now, so I don't work on the train anymore.

Instead, I treat the train as my 15 minutes of morning entertainment and 15 minutes of cooldown after work, long enough for a podcast or a chapter of a relatively easy book. Without wireless, I would have to make sure that I 'sync' anything that I might want, i.e. plugin the iPod/PSP or get the right book off the bookshelf. But sometimes I get on the train and find that I'm too tired to read the book I selected or I forgot to put the latest Daily Show on my PSP. Wireless on the train would allow for "just in time entertainment": go straight to the train station and stream whatever content I want directly to my laptop or PSP. I imagine I could even try and figure out how to play some multiplayer Nintendo DS on the train. Hopefully others will find this announcement exciting, as Caltrain could use some stronger ridership -- but not too strong, because I don't want a bunch of people hogging my bandwidth ;).

Caltrain Wireless FAQ

July 10, 2006

Cody's Books closes Telegraph store

Cody's has closed its main branch at Telegraph Ave -- their Fourth Street and Stockton Street stores are still open. Cody's is where I turned to for author's events when Keplers closed (temporarily, as it turned out). The cause of the closure seems to be multiple factors, from declining foot traffic and crime on Telegraph Ave that has lead to a 10%+ vacancy rate, to a shifting student audience that now uses online stores for books more and more. I have used the Fourth Street store much more than the Telegraph store, but I wonder if Cody's will still have the same draw for author's events.

April 4, 2006

Stop rain, stop!

It won't stop raining here. SF just eclipsed its record for most rainy days in March set in 1903 and apparently it's causing the Devil's Slide to slide (portion of the Pacific Coast Highway near Pacifica): Album: Devil's Slide on the move. It's good to know that CalTrans has sensors to detect PCH splittig in half. via

April 1, 2006

Starbucks Roasting Company

Dana Street-1

First we almost lost Keplers, now downtown Mountain View is being taken over by the evil empire!

This entry sponsored by Google Romance: live happily, and contextually, ever after.

March 12, 2006


Just so you non-Bay-Area folks are aware. It frickin' cold here. There's snow on the hills around here. Every store on 4th Street in Berkeley has a sign on its front door: "We're open. It's just cold outside." We're not used to having to keep the front door closed to keep out the cold. We don't have Metro stations to hide in. We usually stick up a heat lamp outside a restaurant and redeclare that patch of land "summer." We see frozen little ice balls coming down and have to pause to think of what the right word for it is.

My parents called me from Virginia to tell me how it's 70 degrees outside and perfect for yard work. This arctic cold front must have flipped its compass because I think this ball of hail was meant for you, East Coast.

November 10, 2005


Our little city of Mountain View is going to be the first city to receieve free city-wide Google wireless. Just think, I could convert my R/C to run off of 802.11.

November 9, 2005

Treasure Island being redeveloped

treasure.island.plan.jpgd knows I'm interested in SF's Treasure Island -- last year she showed me another class' studio where there were maps of Treasure Island GIS data and development ideas that I wanted to rip off the wall and run away with... I'm strange enough to find such things very cool. It's a good thing that I didn't steal all their work: d just forwarded me an article that says those proposals may become a reality: Towers, farm seen for Treasure Island: Self-sustaining neighborhood of 5,500 residences proposed.

November 8, 2005

Child's Play - Oakland

The Chlid's Play 2005 site is now up. Child's Play is a charity that lets you buy toys, books, movies and music for kids in hospitals in the US, Canada, and the UK. They have Amazon wishlists setup for each of the individual hospitals including Children's Hospital Oakland. Everything from Nintendogs to books in Spanish are available for you to choose from so that you can click-donate to your heart's content. It's also good Uncle/Aunt practice -- I took some mental notes on what to get my nephew when gets older. You can also make a direct cash donation by check or PayPal.

May 12, 2005

Local news

I love reading the Palo Alto Daily News. After growing up reading niche papers like the Washington Post that ramble on and on about our federal government, it's comforting to read a paper that focuses on real front-page news, like noisy leafblowers and vandalism in pedestrian tunnels.

My favorite ongoing saga is a $10,000, seven-foot tall egg made out of various computer parts, subtlety symbolizing the role of the Silicon Valley as the birthplace of the computer age (note: actually the second $10,000 egg as the first melted into a pile of glass in a fire -- this, of course, symbolized the dot-com bust). I might be misinterpreting here; they placed the egg in front of Pizza-My-Heart, so it could be representing the innovations that had their genesis over a slice of pizza and a beer.

This area in front of Pizza-My-Heart is a popular hangout for all the Paly kids, and when you stick a $10,000 giant green egg in front of a bunch of high schoolers, you end up with wonderful back-to-back news paragraphs like:

Gabe, a Palo Alto High School junior, was also displeased that the city's money was not direct toward education. "In my (chemistry) class we are using five different textbook editions, and we're supposed to be the rich school," he added.

Other teenagers in the group, who regularly hang out at the plaza, said "Digital DNA" lacks coordination and begs to be rolled down the street, rocked from its base, and subject to other thoughts/acts of violence typically inflicted on seven-foot tall egg sculptures.

Paragraphs like those, along with documentation of typical acts of violence inflicted on seven-foot tall egg sculptures (graffiti, ramming it with shopping carts, etc...), as well as quotes from the artist about how she fears her sculpture won't survive to its official unveiling make the Palo Alto Daily News a refreshing take on the issues confronting my community.

March 28, 2005

F--- Atherton!

... well, their Caltrain stop at least. Caltrain has put up a proposed service schedule that is, IMHO, pretty awesome, though it will require a lot more planning to make sure I catch the right train. The major improvements are: * you can now sleep in an hour or two later and still catch a Bullet train * for half-peninsula commutes, the Limiteds are now very similar in speed to the Bullets there is a new-style of Limited that is designed to shot you from San Jose to the mid-Peninsula quickly and vice versa * They got rid of the Atherton, Broadway, College Park, and Paul stations.

For my particular BART-Millbrae-Caltrain commute, where my Caltrain stop is a second tier stop (Hillsdale, SM, MP, SC) the philosophy appears to be that they stack two Caltrains for your stop within 15 minutes of each other -- i.e. if you miss the first train, then another, similarly fast train will be along in 12-15 minutes -- but if you miss the second train, you will have a long wait (~50 minutes). In my experience, BART will be more than 15 minutes late on a regular basis, so I will have to figure out how to properly buffer my schedule and yet still take advantage of the faster service.

Of course, just as happened last time, there will be long, drawn-out community meetings in which this schedule will get modified; in particular, Atherton and Broadway might be able to get themselves back on the schedule.

December 7, 2004

More police blotter

m's entry on the police blotter reminded me of a gem that Paul found this morning during coffee:

West Dana and Hope streets, 2:03 a.m.: Someone was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest.

That's right near where I live. I'm a little worried about the safety of my new place now with all these sketchy hooligans.

See if for yourself: Palo Alto Daily News Police Blotter 12/7/04

September 28, 2004

Stupid car suspension

An earthquake this morning and I missed it all because my car suspension absorbed it all. Granted, it wasn't even strong enough to dislodge my collection of iTunes promotion bottlecaps, but still, where's the fun?

April 5, 2004

Why the Millbrae station is failing

I read an article in the Palo Alto Daily News awhile back about how the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station isn't doing as well as planned. Let me elucidate my reasons for why I think it sucks with an example. I have aligned the schedules for the two systems side-by-side for riding into San Francisco in the afternoon/evening. As a reminder, you ride the Caltrain to the Millbrae station, and then switch over to the BART to ride into the city.

BART 5:18 Caltrain 5:20
BART 5:33
BART 5:48 Caltrain 5:50
BART 6:03 Caltrain 6:06
BART 6:18 Caltrain 6:35
BART 6:48 Caltrain 6:45 <- We have a winner!
BART 7:03 Caltrain 7:04

Does anyone else see this as downright malicious?

November 17, 2003

Arnold is here to pump up our deficit

Get ready for impact - Arnold is rolling into town to demonstrate how he will decrease our deficit without increasing taxes or cutting spending.
Schwarzenegger Begins as Governor Today

October 28, 2003

Update: satellite view of fires

10-27-03.satellite fire update.jpg

satellite photo

October 27, 2003

Update: my old neighborhood is on fire

10-27-03.scripps ranch fire map.marked.jpg

The red circle shows approximately where I used to live. It was an elevated cul-de-sac that overlooked the Miramar Naval Air Station.

October 26, 2003

My old neighborhood is on fire

I had been watching the news about Rancho Cucamonga being on fire in SoCal. What I didn't realize is that there are now multiple fires down there, including all around where I used to live. I found this photograph, which was taken less than two miles from my old house:
fire photo

Apparently, the particular fire that is burning my old neighborhood (Cedar Fire) was started by a moronic lost hiker who lit a signal fire. The San Diego firefighters are screwed because they sent their planes to LA to fight the fires that were raging there. I guess it's a good thing that my parents sold there house down there.

Also, honeyfields posted that she was stuck in LA. I was wondering why, but this photo gives a better clue:
satellite photo

- > News > Metro -- Fire crews battle to limit damage from raging wildfires

October 8, 2003

Survivor: California Post Mortem

If you want to blame anybody, blame the Central Valley for their blanket support, and blame the San Diego/San Bernadino/Orange County region for their sheer numbers:
recall map Election 2003 - California Recall

October 7, 2003

Survivor: California Season Finale

No surprise endings here. It's Arnold all the way. No word yet if there'll be a second season.
- Voters Oust Davis; Schwarzenegger to Become Calif. Governor

September 30, 2003

Survivor: California

To be honest, when I first chose the "Survivor" metaphor, I don't think I realized how much it would really resemble the TV show. After plenty of catty exchanges between Ahnold and Arianna, Huffington is the latest to drop out of the series. You really could package this race up into a series of 30 minute episodes with a ticker on the side showing the latest poll results. Arianna's dropped to two percent, and she decided that was enough. - Huffington withdraws from recall race - Sep. 30, 2003

September 24, 2003

Survivor: California

Oh the drama - it's on! it's off! it's on and we won't appeal! So I guess the final decision is that there won't be an extended season of Recall 2003, and all will be decided two weeks from now.
- - Appeals court reinstates California recall vote - Sep. 24, 2003

Update: wow, even more plot twists - 1010Blog: Issa says: "vote no, on recall!"

September 15, 2003

Survivor: California

Loved the current season of "Survivor: California" and wish it it didn't all end on October 7? Well, the federal appeals court has just granted your wish. Looks like we'll have plenty more of more fun episodes from Schwartzenegger, Georgy, Bustamante, Davis, Coleman, and the rest of the gang as the season has been extended to Mach 2004.
- - Appeals court blocks California recall - Sep. 15, 2003

September 12, 2003

Survivor: California - The Ballot

California Recall Ballot

They should hook this thing up to an eye-tracker. It took me forever to find Georgy's name on this. I mean, duh, the letter R comes after L and before W, right? How stupid of me.

On a side note: I wonder how many votes "Dan Feinstein" will get?

(via Boing Boing)

September 9, 2003

Survivor: California

The Republican tribe has voted another member off the island. After extensive polling of home viewers, Ueberroth came in last among the prominent Republicans with only 5% of the vote. With the Terminator and McClintock splitting the major votes, we can be that Arnold's camp is crossing their fingers for a physical challenge.
- - Sources: Ueberroth to leave California recall race - Sep. 9, 2003

September 3, 2003

Yes, California, We Got Screwed

The energy companies finally got fined for manipulating the energy market. So how much is the penalty for such actions that cost California $9 billion? <dr-evil>ONE MILLION DOLLARS</dr-evil>. You see, ladies and gentlemen, if you are an energy company, you can only get fined for the amount that you get caught stealing.
- Another Friday Outrage

August 25, 2003

Survivor: California Update

poll graphicNow that Simon is out, who will be the next to drop? Bustamante has built up a strong lead on Schwartzenegger - the Terminator is currently splitting votes with two other big republican runners (McClintock and Ueberroth). Also, the poll for Davis' recall currently sits with 50% wanting to recall, 45% against, and 5% on the fence. Stay tuned next week as we wait and see how The Republican Party will react to bring them all into line, and also find out what other things Davis doesn't give a "rip" about. We'll also see if Georgy can shore up enough support to get that coveted 1% line in the poll.

August 23, 2003

Survivor: California Update

One down, 134 remaining.... - Simon drops out of California recall race - Aug. 23, 2003

August 19, 2003

Cali Edubacation

I was cruising my usual papers, and I noticed that there appears to be a new Op-Ed format that the papers are using for their pieces. It goes somewhat like:

1. Introduce problem
2. Describe how California tried to solve that problem
3. Recommend the opposite

For example, in the NYTimes, Krugman talks about the lessons we can learn from California's energy deregulation. Also, from the Washingtonpost Op-Ed section, Lessons From California ( talks about how not to do tax policy, which places some blame on voter initiatives back by Arnold, who apparently isn't Republican enough for the true Republicans. Gee, and I thought the Daily Show campaign slogan for Arnold would appeal to them: "Cutting violence in half with a laser guided chain saw across a charred landscape... for the children."

August 14, 2003

Survivor: California - The Candidates

Finally found the full list of candidates for the coming recall election. It seems to me that a lot of people registered b/c their name is similar to someone famous. For example, there's a Michael Jackson and a Richard Simmons. There's also a Feinstein, Wozniak, Dole, Kennedy and an Issa. Sadly, local Mountain View geek candiate Georgy Russell's summary comment is "sells "Georgy For Governor" thong underwear."

August 12, 2003

Survivor: California Update

Finally, a candidate that can take on the Governator and protect us from the Rise of the Machines: Save our State, Vote Terry Tate
- NYTimes article

August 10, 2003

Survivor California Update

It looks like 155 contestants will be competing for the prize for Not-As-Bad-As-Davis. The producers of this one must be proud, as among their contestants they have an actor who's sure to have plenty of great one-liner soundbites, a 100-year-old woman, a pr0n star (who promises webcams in the mansion), a bail bondsman, a Lt. governor, and many more. It's sure to be a ratings bonanza.
- > News > Politics > Gray Davis Recall -- More than 150 file for unprecedented governor recall election

August 7, 2003

Survivor: California Update

Today's episode is sure to garner good Neilsen ratings as the creator of this twisted reality series has now dropped out of contention. I guess another $3500 was too much on top of the $1.5M he's already spent, or maybe he thought the show would be more entertaining to watch from the comfort of his couch. Will miss your crazy antics Darrell, you mischevous little millionaire.
- - Issa drops out; Schwarzenegger files paperwork - Aug. 7, 2003

August 6, 2003

Survivor: California

This really feels like a very bad celebrity reality TV show ("I'm a voter - get me the hell outta California!"). Here's the latest rundown:
- Schwarzenegger: running
- Ariana Huffington: running
- Larry Flynt: running
- Gary Coleman: running

The only good news is that Feinstein isn't running, which leaves hope that California computers will stay safe from the RIAA for a little bit longer.

June 24, 2003

Paly High

I wish my high school network was this easy to breach: Palo Alto High School Security breach. Not only did they leave the wireless network open, but they also allowed guest logins full access.

Saw this on BoingBoing

June 18, 2003

Ikea Camping

According to the washingtonpost, people are camping out in line for the new Ikea. The East Palo Alto Ikea looks almost done, do you have your sleeping bag yet?

March 24, 2003


Iraq updates
- US know believes Hussein alive because of second TV appearance
- Some believe that Iraq is creating impression of more dissent than there is

Indiana abducted girl found
- found along highway in Northern California
- Lindsey Ryan, 14
- Amber alert system used up and down California
- white Dodge Dakota repainted black