May 19th, 2002

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Long night ahead

Working tonight, one Saturday about every other month appears to be the norm at the new job. Unlike the last weekend I worked, filling in for a co-worker who was getting married, there is nothing to do. Half a dozen quick jobs when I got here but those are all completed now. I'm left with another six and a half hours to fill and the prospect of maybe 30 minutes of actual work during that time.

I've got tunes, thanks to the iPod. I brought cards if any of the other five folks here feel like a game. (I think pot-limit Omaha for M&Ms would be fun. Have to work out denominations for the colors one of these days.) I'll probably spend most of the time surfing the web, maybe playing a little solitaire.

I do have things to research on the web. I'm looking at buying a bike to commute with and maybe take trips with. (I have this wild fantasy of biking out to visit my aunt and uncle in Olympia, camping along the way.) I'm also planning on buying a laptop one of these days pretty quick. (Rumor has it new iBooks are on the way and I'm torn between the ultra-portability of the iBooks and the sexy TiBooks.)

Updates on these activities, strange findings during tangents and random thoughts likely to spring up here periodically.
  • Current Music
    Do Re Mi -- Arlo Guthrie (Precious Friends w/ Pete Seeger)
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Biking research

The main thing I've learned is that most bike shop web sites suck. The best I've been able to find is actually, which is where I started because I'm a member and I know they have fun-looking bike trips in their "Adventures" lineup.

The kind of bike I'm looking for seems to fit mostly into a "hybrid" sytle. Something that works well for commutes on city streets but won't get bent out of whack or toss me off if I hit the odd pothole or take an off-road trail. Also something that is built to stand up to longer travels without a lot of maintenance. I'm not afraid to spend a couple of hours fixing up my bike, but I don't want to do it ever week.

So it looks like I'm planning on spending $600-$800 on the bike itself, plus money for a helmet, lights, panniers and probably some clothing. (I'm sure Ericka will think I'm adorable in bike shorts....) Probably a grand in total. This is something I'd like to do before the summer is out so I'll probably have to draw on my home equity line of credit to pay most of it.
  • Current Music
    Railroad Bill - Machinery Hill
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Closer to a decision

Well, I dug into the specs on the Apple site and compared the iBook I'd like to get vs. the TiBook I'd like to get. Added in the AirPort bits I'd need to get connected wirelessly at home. If I get the TiBook, I'd end up with 30 GB more hard drive space, about 50% more RAM and a G4/800 MHz processor (vs. a G3/600 Mhz) for about $1,700 more.

Overall, that seems like not a bad deal. I could cut the difference more by dropping the RAM (rationalizing that I could add more later). That would make about a $300 shift, so more drive and better processor for $1,400 more.

Still, I'm kinda nervous about dropping about $4,000 on a laptop (and various bits). So I haven't decided to place the order on-line or run off to the Apple store at the Mall of America tomorrow just yet.
  • Current Music
    Raggle Taggle Gypsy -- Tears for Beers
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Tick tock

Counting down the time until I go home. I could probably leave anytime, seeing as there is no work to do. This is, however, overtime I'm getting here. So what? Go home and watch some TV, play a computer game or three, eat some Cheerios and hit the sack early or stay here and get paid to have less fun, less sleep and hang out on line all night?

I think the getting paid part is winning.

Read my friend Bruce's cool essay about a Japanese professor who fooled fingerprint security devices with a little ingenuity and $10 worth of groceries and other supplies. He made gummi fingers from molds garnered from live fingers as well as residual fingerprints. I can see this kind of thing showing up in some cyberpunky movie with a grizzled old guy defeating some new technology with stuff cooked up in the kitchen. Shades of "Good Eats."

Reminds me again of a novel I read called "Godfather Bank," I think. The premise was that in this future society everyone was genetically tied to a world central bank. Positive and negative balances were measures of social rank; people wore devices that displayed them. Transactions were handled by machines that took a small tissue sample (like those blood checkers in Gattaca) and then charged you for goods or services based on the DNA.

Our hero in the novel was the only individual with a 0 balance. He would get food by slipping a piece of pork over the device that took the tissue sample. The theory was that the DNA was close enough to human to pass the simple tests of the local scanner and when passed for processing to bigger, better machines elsewhere, it was rejected as an anomalous reading. (Some hand-waving there, to be sure.)
  • Current Music
    Talking Columbia -- Woody Guthrie