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A Summer Brewsday

We procrastinated until the heat of the summer, imagining that we could get cold, hydrating, beer from Mark at Craftsman if push came to shove. Then it turned out that, pending the brewery expansion, his beer is all spoken for by existing commercial customers. Horror!

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Who do I hate?

I hate the phone companies, but I need a new phone. I hate having to pay the same rate that someone getting a subsidized phone pays, even if I buy an unlocked phone. I hate that there are locked phones. I hate the obligatory contracts. I hate the ignorant, conniving, pushy salespeople in the phone stores. I hate calling customer support. My phone hasn’t worked for weeks. I haven’t gotten a new one because I hate AT&T. I wish they would go bankrupt, or be regulated out of existence in any meaningful way. I wish we had an open, competitive mobile communications marketplace, with low barriers to entry for new carriers, and an open platform encouraging new hardware manufacturers to make innovative handsets, and encouraging writers of software to create innovative mobile applications. But we don’t. Mobile phones suck. The industry sucks. The FCC sucks. Mobile computing sucks. It’s horribly broken, and they all want to keep it that way.

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Escape to High Ground

Michelle and I have wanted to do an overnight bike trip near by for a while. Something that doesn’t involve those infernal machines, but that lets us get away from the city, just a little bit. A S24O as it’s sometimes called. The only option for such a trip out of Pasadena is the San Gabriel Mountains, which are criss-crossed with hundreds of miles of fire roads. Mostly steep and unpaved, mostly waterless, but nearby, and scenic. On the north slopes, you can almost convince yourself LA isn’t there anymore.

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Missing Mountains

Michelle and I hiked 13 miles round trip to Pear Lake in Sequoia National Park on Monday. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced wilderness. That place where people aren’t. It’ll be interesting to see how biking overnight into the San Gabriels feels in comparison.

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Visitor Without Stipend

As of Monday, I will be living up to my official title at Caltech. I tried to quit grad school a couple of weeks ago. In response to Bob’s email: “Please let me know that you’re not dead.”, I replied: “I’m not dead, but apparently, I don’t want a Ph.D. either”. Today was to be my last day, with figures cleaned up for the Wahr et al. 2008 stress paper, and helpful outlines of future research projects written for my academic successors.

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Virtue, Beauty, and Function

Michael Pollan talks about American gardeners (including himself) being unable to bring themselves to cultivate beauty, or to see that as their purpose.  Instead, he says they cultivate virtue.  Sometimes I wonder if American liberals also suffer from this affliction, except instead of seeking virtue at the expense of beauty, they seek it to the detriment of functionality.  It doesn’t matter if this works, only that it’s right.  And maybe American conservatives do this too.

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The IRS is confused

I’d been wondering what was up with my tax rebate. The IRS sent me a notice today saying that I didn’t pay my taxes. Except, I did. They took the $291 I owed right out of my bank account on April 10th. I can only imagine that it was my name change that confused them. I called the 800 number as instructed, and was on hold for so long that my (admittedly decrepit) phone battery died. How exactly I’m supposed to fix this is unclear.

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Whither Ideotrope

Since I started doing what would one day be called “blogging” in the mid-90s, and since Ideotrope came into existence in 2001, a lot has changed on the web. There are powerful and extensible open source content management systems available today that do most, but not all, of what I always wanted to do on the web. The software underlying Ideotrope has fallen into disrepute and disrepair, and other software has charged ahead, and garnered many thousands of users and developers. I believe it’s time for a change.