Fountain

I biked down to Santos Pacheco Fountain today. Before now I didn’t know it existed. I normally just ride thru the park, eventually making a loop back to my home. But this time I heard something different. I looked into walking path and found a small fountain.
I noticed it this time because it was loud. I don’t think they have ever turned it up this high before. The water made such a roar. Much too loud for it’s size.
I sat down on the fountain bench and turned my back to it. I could see thru a double arch way into Todos Santos park. It was dusk and many families were packing up, getting ready to go home.
But every time I tried to think of something else, the rushing water always brought my attention back to it. All of a sudden instead of sitting on a concrete bench, I was sitting on a 200 ton granite boulder watching the water of Nevada Falls fall over it’s lip. Crashing 600 feet below. I was 20 years younger, with my brother and sister. We were just part way thru the hike up to Half Dome.
But now I am back in Concord. It’s getting dark. Time to ride back.

Kubota

I was driving South on 680 yesterday and a flat bed trailer caught my eye. There was nothing special about it, except the color of the thing it was carrying. It was caring a tractor, an orange tractor, a Kubota orange tractor.

Then a flood of memories came to me.

While growing up, I lived on a small horse ranch. One day, my dad decided we needed a tractor. My whole life I’ve beed around tractors, so it was cool we were going to get one. I knew in my head what tractors looked like: they were green. They were made by John Deere. All tractors were like that.

But my dad brought home an orange tractor. What the hell is an orange tractor? Then it hit me. Anyone can make a tractor. Why couldn’t the Japanesse make a tractor? What’s so special about green, anyway?

It’s fun to remember when your world gets tilted a little. It keeps me grounded. I’d like to think I spend all day tilting my world a little.

As a side note, it’s a little surprising my brother and I aren’t dead from all the times we abused that tractor. It had an articulated bucket on the front. I remember taking turns to riding it up and down. Damn that was fun.

OMD in San Francisco, April 12, 2013

Last night I saw a concert performance of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. A week before, they release a new album: English Electric. I spent the week listening to it and enjoyed it very much.
But I didn’t get the feeling that the band took too many risks while creating this new album. I like all the new songs, they reminded me of their past works. But I didn’t see them taking any risks with the new material.
Then I heard the new songs live. I started appreciated them in a new light. Metroland turned from an OK new song (on the album) to a fantastic new song live.
I noticed the audience during the live performance would react differently to the old material and the new material. This is understandable. The old songs have built in emotion for each individual. But I noticed how songs from their previous album, The History of Modern were equally appreciated as the old material. I found that personally gratifying. I know this new album will have an equal place in this fan’s appreciation of OMD. Hopefully other’s appreciation as well.

Perfect POP3 Proxy

My Linux server crashed recently. It happened when the electric company had a planned service day. I forgot to power down the machine and when I brought it back up the filesystem was toast.

I decided to wipe it and start over. I wanted to try using the Netatalk packaged by the Debian project instead of the the hand build version I was running.

So after some fits and starts I finally have Debian 7 (Test) running with Netatalk serving my Time Machine shares.

But now it was time to install Popfile so I could filter and talk to the gmail servers.

The email client I use is MacSOUP. I love it. But it doesn’t talk POP3S. So I need a proxy to get my email from Gmail. But the Debian Popfile package is currently unavaiable for 7.x (Test). So I went looking for an alternative POP proxy package.

I found Perdition. I tried and failed to configure it for my needs. Then I found Stunnel. This was much eiaser to set up. All was good.

But after a day of using it I decided that running Stunnel on my server was over kill. I should be able to run it on my client machine (Max OS X) as a user process. So I decided to set up Stunnel under Launch Agent.

On Mac OS X the Launch Agent service (part of launchd) is what you can use to start programs when a user logs in. So I downloaded the latest version of Stunnel (stunnel-4.53) configures and compiled it.

Then I took the exectuable and placed it in ~/bin. I created a .conf file, a .pem file and a .plist. I put them all in the right place and now I can get my email without my server running. This should encourage me to turn it off every now and then.

Rodney King

A few days after the LA Riots, I was working the day shift at my father’s gas station. It was the Mobil gas station on the Westley Exit on Interstate 5 in California. A little more than half way when driving from Los Angeles to San Fransico.
A man came in to pay for his gasoline purchase. He was about to turn around and leave, but something stopped him. Without any prompting from me, he announced he was a police officer in Los Angeles and he knew Rodney personally. He called Rodney an asshole and deserved what he got.
I learned a lot about racism that day.

Repurpose an amp

About ten years ago I built an amplifier for my Kia Rio. I noticed it came with speakers even though I didn’t buy a model with a radio. My amp was a simple circuit that came pre-assembled, required 12 volts and took the signal from my iPod and feed it to the speakers with 22 watts of power.

About two years ago I got rid of that car. But I kept the amp. Today in my new house I am using that amp to power my computer speakers. I am using a pair of Optimus Pro 74V (26-2048). They sound great and can get quite loud with my little amp.

When I first assembled the amp for home use I connected a 12 volt wall wart power suppily (273-1652D) directly to the circuit. But there was a 60hz hum. I though the DC power coming from the wall wart would be very clean, but I was wrong. I then feed the power thru the noise reducer I used while it was powered in the car. It took care of the noise very well.

Playboy

“Playboy does hereby bestow this award upon Charles August Lindner III For his lifetime subscription to Playboy Magazine and his never-ending pursuit of life’s pleasures. May he forever remain a connoisseur of beautiful women…and may he retain his lust for the good life for the rest of his years. From one Playboy to Another, Hugh M. Hefner”

Early in the 1960s my father invested $2000 with Hugh Hefner, in exchange he got a lifetime subscription to the Playboy Magazine and this plaque. He spent this money fresh out of college. Before he died I asked him why he did it. He said he could never justified it then or now, but did it anyway. He did say he never regretted the decision.

Learning to fly

My brother just called. He tells me he is teaching his 6 year old daughter to fly. He wanted me to to tell her the technique. I said that flying was easy, you just have to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

So now my brother turns back to my niece and says, “He said the exact same thing I did, now all you have to do is practice.” She giggled.

It was a nice moment. Thank you Douglas Adams.

Streams

I’ve started to write code again. Since January I’ve been in one of my non-programming moods. Last December my wife and I had one of the best times together in our marriage, but it quickly devolved into our worst. I was feeling depressed and lost interest in most everything.

But recently I started watching the WWDC videos. I got the urge to rewrite my Blocks program. With Blocks I wanted to experiment with the manipulation data as expressed as named blocks. After working on it for a while I hit the stumbling block of not begining with an abstraction deep enough.

With Streams, I started over. I am starting with digital signal processing (another interest of mine). In the screen shot below you’ll see an example on converting audio data into bytes the way the Color Computer does when reading a tape file.

Streams Screen Shot from August 10, 2011