Monthly Archives: October 2013

On Sunday night, I had dinner in Redwood City with my Dead Runner friends Ian and Jane & Don.

Friends Karl, Kathy and Kaleigh were supposed to be there too, but there was some mixup as to times. Turns out that it’s a bad thing that they weren’t there, because, had they BEEN there, the conversation would not have been the same, which means that different things might have happened. The whole “butterfly flaps its wings and palm trees gro in Nova Scotia” effect thingy.

Because Ian is a Silver-Tongued Devil. And he has a way of talking me into doing things that I simply wouldn’t do otherwise – yet when *he* suggests them, they suddenly make sense!

“Lemme ‘splain. No – is too much. Lemme sum up.”¬† — Inigo Montoya

When I got to Pleasanton, I spent the first four days commuting by bike, as my co-workers in Salt Lake have a bike locked up here at the home office. It was actually fun commuting by bike, but I have to go to meetings, after dark, much, MUCH further away from the office and hotel than my colleagues ever rode. At night. After doing that a few times, I realized that it simply wasn’t safe for me to keep doing that, so I got a car.

But I actually enjoyed the bit of bike commuting that I was doing (when I wasn’t in danger of merging with the sidewalk) and so I spent a little time on the exerbike at the gym, as well, after turning the bike in.

I also was feeling pretty depleted; I’m here, umpteen-hundred miles away from Ethel, and Bso I tended to either be working, going to meetings, or at the gym. So I’m feeling a bit beat up – thus, I decided to do a bit of swimming as well, at which I am no good whatsoever, but tends to have a rejuvenative effect on me.

When Ian heard that I’d been doing this, he said, out of nowhere and apropos of nothing : “Oh, so then you ought to do the St. George Half Ironman next May.”

Now, see, Ian didn’t say “Hey, you’ve been riding a bike? Cool!…oh, you’ve done some swimming? That’s interesting. Gee, have you considered doing a triathlon? No? Perhaps you should consider it. Maybe signing up for a short sprint or even Olympic distance some time. Thing about it.”

No, that’s not what Ian did. He hit my frontal lobes with a conceptual brickbat, in such a way that I couldn’t formulate a “No!” response fast enough, and the next thing I knew, I was saying “….okay…”.

When I sobered up the next day (I think that they had booze in the guacamole – it HAD to be booze in the guacamole) the aforementioned Karl asked “Why go straight for a Half Ironman? Why not do shorter distances and work your way up? Why….why…..why….?”

And the only answer that I could give was what Cool Hand Luke said when they asked him why he ate fifty boiled eggs…”Aw, hell – it’s just sumpthin’ to do…”

So Douglas, in Ireland, likened that sort of decision-making to “Let’s invade…Poland!”

And I can’t say that I disagree with him : )

Now I’m facing 10-12 hours of triathlon training per week, plus the expense of a swim coach or joining a masters’ swimming group, and – of course – a spendy bicycle. And Half Ironmans (Iron*men*?) are not cheap events to participate in – St George is gonna cost a bundle.

But….”let’s do….a Half Ironman!” …Yeah, sounds good : )

I just don’t get Californians.

Why is it San Francisco, San Mateo, San Ramon, etc? Why not just Francisco, Mateo, and Ramon?

From Wikipedia:


It seems to me that, once you start putting the same empty syllable in front of words, the syllable loses all meaning. It’s like saying “Foo Capistrano, Foo Leandro, Foo Pablo”.

I wonder how many man-hours have been lost typing “San ” in front of all of these city names. How much extra signage space has been used up in all of the business names that include the names of these cities and towns?

And why use “San” and “Santa”, anyway? Somebody said “Santa means that it’s a female saint that it’s being named after.”

Oh, yeah? Then explain Santa Claus.

…but that’s just more Californication. Sure, other states have Sancities – Texas and Arizona come to mind – but nowhere near as many, by an order of magnitude. And I’ll bet that Arizona has Santowns because they want to be a little California (at least, that’s the case for Phoenix. It’s just LA with cactus. Tucson actually is a real Hispanic city, but that’s another long post – one that I did years ago, and which disappeared when I lost all of my Go Daddy stuff. But I’m not bitter!)

But I’ve been thinking about this State of California. They may or may not know it, but the rest of the country – at least, those folks in the flyover states – tend to think of Californians in certain ways. Californians (we think) are sort of shallow wastrels – they are very wealthy, they spend their time in trivial pursuits that the rest of the country sees as frivolous, they seem to have loose standards of behavior, they let fashion and convenience substitute for tradition and principle.

In short (it seems to me) Californians are to Americans as Americans are to the rest of the world.

We Americans are the world’s Californians.

That would make Californians the most American of Americans.

And that is a thought that leaves me disquieted.

I’ve had a great 65″ Mitsubishi 1080p DLP for seven years or so.

I love it. It’s a great TV.

But it won’t fit on the wall.

Now that we’re in the Park City townhome, we don’t have the room for a DLP, and the living room isn’t laid out in a way that would let us put it at the end of the room and still have access to the fireplace.

Thus, our new 70″ Sharp Aquos Quattron LED, after installation on the fireplace wall:

quattronQuattron is a new technology from Sharp that has four subpixels instead of three – instead of RGB, it’s RGBY (Red Green Blue Yellow). This is supposed to make another billion colors available (how many billion colors did we have before?) and also is supposed to help the brain process color information.

Others say that that’s a bunch of hooey, that there isn’t any material out there to supply the fourth subpixel content. But who cares? It looks pretty darn good to me : )

Ethel is overseeing all of this (she also painted the wall before they did the install; that’s the same red that we had in Colorado, and she’s gotten the same green as well. We’re using the same color scheme here, except we are using a slightly brighter gold). She’s handling everything back in Utah while I am in California. You go, girlfriend!

…meanwhile, back at the motel, Silas and Sapphire have migrated to Oregon. He lost his gig as a laptop salesman in Phoenix; now he’s going to be doing tech support for the XBox Live thingy for a company in Salem, OR. Now, I hate to admit that I have a child living in the dominion of Satan Himself, but it’s pretty cool in many ways – my son has actually found a way to make a living out of knowing about video games : )

Wonder what that XBox thingy would look like in Quattron? : )

I saw this car in the parking lot here at Workday:

pheart arubaI’ve tried, but the best I can come up with is a phonetic rendition that means “Caribbean Flatulence”.

Californians are strange folk. They seem (around the Bay Area, at least – the East Bay) to be much as advertised; fit, well-to-do, mostly pleasant, casual, and as liberal as Karl Marx.

They eat tofu, drive late-model cars, don’t yell, and rarely wear ties. Much to my surprise, they seem to sleep later than I would have expected (most healthy-lifestyle folks I’ve encountered seem to be early risers, but the office here is a ghost town until at least 9:00 AM). I suspect that this is because they are on the freeway at night.

But, then, they are on the freeway during the day, as well. When I get up and drive to the gym at 5:30, they are already all on the freeway, driving in both directions. I think that when they get to the end of the freeway (here, freeways have ends) they turn around and go back in the other direction, because, Californians on freeway, right.

Now I understand that the towns are designed around the freeways, rather than the other way around. For my first two weeks here, I couldn’t understand why it took me 15 minutes at lunchtime to drive the 3 miles to a noon meeting. Now I’ve learned to drive the extra distance to go to the freeway, and then take the freeway, and then get off the freeway – I’m probably traveling twice the distance, but it only takes me five minutes.

Coming home from the gym, I take two DIFFERENT freeways over a four-mile drive. It seems like overkill – I don’t think that this is what Dwight D Eisenhower had in mine – but it’s the only way to get around town, even a town with just 50,000 or so folks.

That’s not a big town, but the folks here are big-town folks. For instance, they don’t talk to each other. It’s sort of like New York in that they never look each other in the eye. Here, they are always, all the time, everywhere, everybody, looking at their cell phones. They walk down the street, go up the stairs or into the elevators, to the urinal or the coffee pot, looking at their cell phones.

You might think that they don’t look each other in the eye because they are looking at their cell phones, but I suspect that they are looking at their cell phones so that they won’t have to look each other in the eye.

They will be pleasant to each other if forced into actual interaction – pleasant, but not friendly. And it’s a serious difference. The people that they are friendly with are the people on their cell phones.

I…am a stranger in a strange land.

Home is Utah – or, rather, it isn’t yet, because I haven’t lived there yet. Ethel is living there now, making Aspen Drive a home, but it won’t be my home until I get there.

And I have a lot of freeway to drive on before that happens.


Nevada is a godless wasteland.

GodlessWastelandNow, this might not be a surprise to anybody who’s spent any time in Las Vegas, but I have never spent any time in Las Vegas; I’ve driven through it once, and I’ve flown in for a retreat in St George, and the retreat staff put me in a car and drove me straight to Utah before the sin could get me.

So my perceptions of The Silver State are colored by movies and books; I don’t have much in the way of actual experience to guide me.

However, I have determined the godless wastelessness of Nevada via logical induction.

In Arizona, Utah and Colorado, which is where I have lived for the last fifteen years, the Lord’s Prayer is ended with the following phrasing:

“….for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory…”(pause)

“….forever and ever” (pause) “…amen”.

But here in the East Bay, the locals ends the Lord’s Prayer like this:

“….for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever” (pause) “…amen”.

Now the reasons for the differences are unclear. It could just be that Californians are in a bigger hurry, because they have to go sit in traffic for two hours to get to their job where they will work for twelve hours to pay six prices for a house two sizes too small. That can leave a fellow feeling kinda impatient, like he doesn’t have time to add an extra pause and the phrase “…and ever”.

Got places to go, traffic to drive in, work to do. God will understand.

But the fact of the differences is itself unimportant. Here’s the thing – how can the differences exist?

If the West was a single continuum, then that would mean that there was some place between Salt Lake City, UT and Pleasanton, CA where the people on one block said “forever and ever, amen” and the people one block to the west said “forever, amen”.

Should such a situation exist, then there would be hurt feelings, arguments, fights and holy wars over which way was the proper way to say the Lord’s Prayer. One town would¬† have the “Forever and Ever Baptist Church” and the town to the west would have the “Church of God of Forever”.

The social and religious tension would be unbearable, and thus one of the versions of the Lord’s Prayer would overwhelm the other, and would migrate west to the Pacific (if that one won) or east to the Great Plains. Folks in Denver would say the same prayer as folks in Marin County.

So this means that there must be some Liturgical Demilitarized Zone; some place in the middle where the folks aren’t saying the Lord’s Prayer at all, and thus nobody is noticing the differences. It would have to be a large area, such that the “Forevers” weren’t rubbing shoulders with the “Forevers and Evers” on a regular basis. People in this theoretical region would have to be busy doing other things with their time together than praying.

And if you can think of a better example of “large place between Utah and California where people wouldn’t pray much” than Nevada, then I’d like to hear about it.

“Forever and ever. Amen”.