Table Of Contents
1: 1999/01/21 - SF Magazine I was in a swing photo shoot for San Francisco Magazine with Maggie Moon. We not only got to be in a bunch of the shots they used, but the photographer Erik Butler completely kicked ass, and he let us come and make copies of whatever photos we wanted, and many of them were so well done. I have some of the photos up in the Swing section of my personal photo album 2: 2000/07/21 - Flying Through The Air With The Greatest Of Ease I've come close to death a number of times. The closest yet was when I was in a pretty gruesome motorcycle accident. I don't remember much, but evidently I was driving down Pennsylvania St in San Francisco when a car pulled out in front of me. The only part of the accident I remember was seeing a car the very instant before I smashed into the front end. I totalled my cycle, and I'm told I totalled the car too. My helmet flew off of me, I flew off of my bike, and I also flew out of my shoes (yet to be found!). I sailed about 25 feet and hit the side of a parked van. I hit the van right on the driver's door, and fortunately my head hit the window and went through - if my head had hit the van then I wouldn't be here to type this. I got to see the door of the van later - it was smashed in a few inches, though sadly it was not Dave-shaped as cartoons had led me to believe. After I hit the ground, the car that I hit came sliding to a stop right above me, having been pushed by my cycle. Some of the local residents came outside to see what happened, and found me underneath the car next to the van. If that wasn't enough, the car caught fire above me and they had to push it across the street. Evidently I was trying to move and they had to hold me down until the paramedics arrived 10 minutes later - I don't remember, I was having weird, non-visual motorcycle dreams and didn't wake up until the paramedics got there. I spent a day in the hospital - mostly just waiting because SF General is so slow, and then I finally went home with a broken left wrist and a bunch of bruises and some whiplash. (Although we realized a few days later that my right wrist was still sore because it was broken, and I ended up with casts on both arms. Ugh.) (Speaking of SF General being slow, I was surprised by a newspaper report on the hospital problems that came out 6 months later but had a photo of me in the emergency room. Funny.) The general consensus amongst the witnesses and the paramedics and the doctors is that I should be dead, not alive and typing (albeit slowly) For those of you with a morbid sense of curiousity (like me), I have a photo showing the motorcycle before and after. You'll notice the motorcycle is about two feet shorter. I have more accident photos in my photo album, including pictures of the car that hit me, the van that I flew into, and the surgery pins in my arm. 3: 2000/09/27 - May the force be with you Today my excellent friend Eric who works at ILM gave me a fantastic treat. We went up to SkyWalker Ranch, the well-hidden home to the genius that created one of the best movies of all time, Star Wars. The ranch is beautiful - it's like a resort, not like any work environment I've ever seen. They have their own fire department, their own lake, their own pool, and even a vineyard for what I assume is ILM wine. We had lunch in the main building, which is a gorgeous mansion with a small collection of Lucas artifacts in the lobby. In the restaurant we ended up sitting at a table that had me about 10 feet away and facing none other than George Lucas himself. Talk about a good lunch, though it was really hard to pay attention to Eric since Lucas was talking about how directing was creating something, much like how an animator has to direct all of his/her models. Good day. 4: 2001/05/18 - Foosball play of the week I was playing foosball with some co-workers. One of my opponents put a beer bottle on the table above the goal. I informed him a-la Babe Ruth style that I was going to knock down his beer bottle by shooting the ball off the board right at his bottle during the game. He laughed at the ridiculous notion and said he'd give me $10 if I did. He caught the bottle as it was falling, so he refused to give me my $10. I think he ripped me off. 5: 2001/05/30 - Google searching for coupons I just ordered something from a company called skymall. They (like most ecommerce companies) have a spot in their order form where you can type in a promotion code. I searched on the web for "skymall promotion+code" and found myself a special deal from Hilton for 20% off. It worked. :) Update: There's so many bogus coupon sites now that this isn't worth it anymore. 6: 2001/07/21 - Herrang Dance Camp Herrang Dance Camp is the biggest swing dance camp in the world. It's held in the little village of Herrang in Sweden, North of Stockholm. People from all over the world travel to Herrang for 1-4 weeks of dancing and classes and sleep deprivation. I've been trying to go there for three years, and I finally made it in 2001, for weeks 3 and 4 of the camp. I managed to snag some space in the school house hallway thanks to Anne, which is lucky since I showed up a day late on Sunday. Getting sleeping space in the hallway is not uncommon - it's not like you'll get much sleep anyways. The dances go into the night, usually ending around 6am or so, and I managed to be one of the last dancers dancing for four of the nights I was there. I decided not to take classes the second week, instead just dancing and spending some time in the middle of the week driving down to Stockholm. Photos in my album 7: 2001/08/23 - Escaping the Pool Police I decided to go swimming with two friends of mine, Jake and Nadja, around midnight. We knew someone who lived in an apartment complex that had an outdoor pool/jacuzzi, so we drove over there and climbed the fence. During a soak in a lukewarm hot tub (the power was off), we saw someone wandering the grounds towards us with a flashlight. It later turned out that they did us a great service by tipping us off. So we grabbed our clothes and climbed over the fence and hid behind an apartment building, waiting for him to go by. We started to walk to my van - I had pulled my clothes on without changing my suit or drying off. My friends; however, thought that running around in swimsuits wouldn't make them look suspicious. If I had to run from the law for something serious, these are probably not the people I'd want with me. So we walk back to my van, and we notice a cop car parked 20 feet away, the cop is shining his light towards the pool. I step into the car, wearing clothes, looking normal. My friends have to enter the van from the side closest to the cop, where the sliding door is, because it doesn't turn on the interior lights. They jump in and don't know how to close the door, the cop starts walking towards us - my friends are in their swimsuit and Nadja is sliding the door back and forth. The cop keeps walking towards us, like a living dead zombie from a horror movie. He's six feet away now. I'm sure we're goners. Jake reaches over, dripping wet and without a shirt, and closes the door. The cop, three feet, is still only walking, and I'm casually looking forward and pretending I don't notice him. All he had to do was reach forward and tap my car, and that would have been the end of it... I start the car, and start slowly pulling away. Two feet. The cop just looks at the front of the car and I drive away. Never got a call from the police station on my license plates, so we're home free! 8: 2001/08/16 - Polite Recruiters My website is a place where I like to store my stuff, including my resume. Unfortunately, if you work in a strong job market like hardware verification, having your resume online means getting called twice a week by headhunters. Especially when your resume is the first result for a google search of "verification engineer resume" To avoid these calls, I changed the objective on my resume to: Objective: To stop getting called by recruiters all the time. Which has actually worked surprisingly well in terms of reducing these calls. But at 2:10pm on 8/16/2001, I received this call: [mp3, 208k] "You may want to pull your resume off the internet, you fuckin' idiot." Now I'm a fuckin' idiot. So this guy must be a genius. He's such a genius that he hasn't heard of caller ID, evidently, which listed his number as: 818.735.6712. I call it, and, not surprisingly, it's a headhunting firm called Transquest Ventures Transquest Ventures, also not surprisingly, refers to their "product" as Human Capital. Not like they are people or anything. So I find their website and I look up the CEO's name, and I give him a call. He is very helpful - and I send the message to his cell phone. Unfortunately, although he makes many promises - nothing ever comes of it and I don't hear from him again. Amusing update, someone in the industry contacted me about Transquest Ventures because they were trying to figure out if they wanted to associate with them. Maybe they won't, now. If you search for Transquest Ventures on google, I'm happy to report that I come up on the first page of links. 9: 2001/08/29 - Burning Man I finally make it to my first Burning Man, after years of wanting to go. o Wow. \ / / \ There are some things in your life that are just too big to describe. I had read plenty about Burning Man, talked to people about Burning Man, seen photos of Burning Man, watched videos, done research, etc.. The only thing I hadn't done to vicariously experience Burning Man was smell the playa dust. But none of this could prepare me for what actually is Burning Man. BM is about different things to different people. Generally people go to BM for some combination of: - Freedom - Sex - Drugs - Art - Fire But BM can really be just about whatever you want it to be. I wanted to make a list of what BM is and what BM isn't, but I couldn't think of anything that could definitively go on the "isn't" side. Maybe it will help to read this essay on how to recreate Burning Man. Photos fail to describe Burning Man, but of course I took some anyways. 10: 2001/09/11 - Stranded in Canada I decide to go see some of my Herrang Camp friends in Toronto, so I flew out there for a weekend. Much fun was had in the short time I had there, or the short time I thought I was going to have there. I was sitting on a plane on the runway. It was September 11th, 2001, and the plane was supposed to go to San Francisco. That was when we found out about the plane bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We found out about it about 10 minutes after it happened - so I know what I was doing when the planes hit. And here's the freaky bit: So I have this portable DVD player that I bring with me whenever I fly. This morning I was watching Escape From New York. And at the time of the incident, I was watching the scene where Air Force One crashes into the World Trade Center. Whoa. That's super freaky. Anyways, we had to deboard the plane and I ended up stuck in Canada for the week, finally getting home on Saturday. Fortunately I was able to access work remotely, courtesy an internet cafe that became my "Transmeta Toronto Office," and I got to meet even more of the excellent Torontonian dancers. Either way, I didn't have much to complain about considering what most people went through. Update: 2001/10/07 It gets weirder. Today I woke up to the sound of missles falling and exploding. Last night I had finally washed everything in my car that was covered with playa dust from Burning Man. This included a silly Jar Jar Binks doll with sound effects, including the missle firing sound. The circuits had shorted out, and it was making the missle sound every minute or so. This morning we bombed Afghanistan. Freaky again. 11: 2001/09/27 - Fightin' Crime! My buddy Justin and I were driving to dinner when some guys ran out of a store and jumped into their car. They took off pretty quick, which was pretty odd even for rude people. Then they started shooting across many lanes of traffic. I asked Justin, "Do you think they just robbed that store?" Justin, still surprised, said that he noticed they were holding handkerchiefs when they opened the door. So I pulled across traffic and casually followed them around the block. I'm getting ready to call the police when they pull backwards up a one-way street and park up on the sidewalk. I drive by (no need to mess with possibly armed criminals) and we go back to the store. "Did you guys just get robbed?" Sure enough the had been robbed by two men with guns. Fortunately for them, we had the license plates and the location of the car. The cops came and wanted to know where the car was, so we rode in the back of their squad car to the location. The car was still parked there, and looked possibly empty. The cops got out and walked to the car with guns drawn. That was when Justin and I realized that we were locked in the back seat of the squad car, where the criminals could easily execute us after killing the cops. Fortunately this didn't happen, as the robbers weren't around. Admittedly the criminals will probably get away since the car was probably stolen. Next time I'll have to wear my black cape, so I can chase after them, darting from rooftop to rooftop. I told Justin that he has to be the effeminate sidekick, since I was the one driving. He hasn't agreed yet. 12: 2001/10/04 - The Millenium Falcon is Breached I have a bitchin' 1979 Chevy Van, a.k.a. The Millenium Falcon, due to the large collection of Star Wars toys that it has amassed, including a 12" Wookie, my original Chewbacca which sits in the drivers window as my co-pilot, tempting thieves everywhere. So, today I walk to my car, and there is glass everywhere. The Millenium Falcon has been boarded by hostile creatures! Okay - enough with the geeky Star Wars references... Here's the best part: Contents of van before breakin: $1.50 in cash Two old truck speakers Numerous vintage Star Wars figures CD player 400 Watt Amp 2 bicycles Contents of van after breakin: Numerous vintage Star Wars figures CD player 400 Watt Amp 2 bicycles Some genius broke my window and the window frame to take $1.50 and some old truck speakers. Way to go, brainless! 13: 2001/10/23 - I'm a movie star! Much to my surprise I found out today that I'm a movie star! A few years back when I was starting to get into linux installs, I was installing RH on my tiny little Libretto at a svlug Linux installfest. There was a film crew there making a documentary, but I didn't think much of it, because as a dancer I see film crews all the time that never end up getting to any sort of production. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until someone mentioned to me they had seen me on the screen. Evidently this film actually made it, and it must have accomplished something because it had a showing at the Sony Metreon, which is the monster theater complex here in SF. The movie is called Revolution OS (available at thinkgeek) The best part of this is that (apart from being a famous movie star, hounded by the paparazzi), I now have a Bacon Index of 3! (Please note that my name changed after the movie was made) David Ljung was in Revolution OS (2001) with Susan Egan Susan Egan was in Hercules (1997) with Keith (I) David Keith (I) David was in Novocaine (2001) with Kevin Bacon (You can also do Susan -> "13 Going on 30" -> Mark Ruffalo -> "In The Cut" -> Kevin Bacon) Another route that yields a Bacon Index of 3: David Ljung was in Revolution OS (2001) with Jose Medeiros Jose Medeiros was in Copacabana Me Engana (1968) with Maria Gladys Maria Gladys was in Guns (1990) with Jeff (I) Silverman Jeff (I) Silverman was in Pyrates (1991) with Kevin Bacon 14: 2001/10/27 - Lucas Halloween What are my two favorite things? I would be tempted to say: 1) Star Wars 2) Halloween So, when my most excellent friend Eric Wong invited me to the ILM Halloween party, I pretty much did the happy dance. Photos may or may not be forthcoming, depending on how ILM feels about it, but suffice it to say that the costumes are amazing. Consider what happens when you let the geniuses from the creature lab loose upon this holiday. My favorite costume was the Boba Fett mint-on-card. Yes - it was someone dressed up as Boba Fett in the actual store packaging, he needed help from someone to walk around, as his card was something like 10 feet high. Wow. 15: 2001/10/30 - Endurance dancing Got second place in a Tempo dance contest with Natasha. The music started at 150bpm for 1m30s, then it went to 175bpm, then 190, 200, 208, 224, 240, 248, 256, 304bpm... Whooosh! Hell, I'm turning 30. I almost died out there. 16: 2002/03/26 - CrimeFightin' Dave vs. Drunk Drivers I'm talking geek with one of my computer friends while parked by the side of the road. This car pulls up behind us and the driver gets out and is staggering drunk. Nice. So I'm talking to my friend for a while, and the guy comes back to his car and gets in and starts it up. Lovely. So I call the police to let them know they're about to have a DUI on the streets. I'm telling them exactly where we are, and the guy is just sitting behind us, waiting to be caught. He's there for so long that a cop car comes... and drives right past us. Nice. Turns out he was having trouble just getting the car moving, he finally figures out where drive is and pulls forward. I should note that he's totally clear for 50 feet or so behind him, and I'm right in front of him, but evidently the subtleties of reverse are lost on him because he bumps right into me. I quickly pull my car forward and call the police again. The guy pulls out right in front of another car and proceeds down the wrong side of the street. He's completely drunk, and he's swerving back and forth from the left side of the road to the right. I get the plate and my friend remembers it while I start following him (yes, mom, from a safe distance). He comes within inches of hitting some parked cars on the left side of the road, and I'm frantically trying to get the police to get out here before he kills someone. A car coming towards us stops at an intersection, and the drunk drives on the left side of the road, right into his headlights, and crunches into the stopped car. He backs up and pulls away and speeds off. Lovely. So - we give the license to the police, but they hadn't found him yet. They have our phone numbers, but I'd be surprised if I ever hear from them. I've found that reporting crimes rarely gets anything done. I need a cape and a utility belt... Yea. 17: 2002/07/18 - Corporate Loyalty Surprise, surprise. I go on vacation after working my arse off for the end of a project, and again, on this vacation, I find out that I've been laid off. This time my (ex)company decided to say goodbye to 40% of it's workforce, including self. Anyways, the big question is, what do I do now? Not options: 1) Leave San Francisco 2) Blow out my savings Serious considerations in the running: 1) Find another verification job, but work less. 2) Give up my posh but expensive apartment (sadness!) and move into either an RV or boat, and then either: 2a) Work odd jobs to cover food and expenses 2b) Work part-time or consulting occasionally to cover expenses. And then, with my free time I intend to work on some projects that I've been sitting on the back burner, such as: 1) MarginalHacks 2) Wearable computing designs 3) Writing (english, not software :) Check back in a few weeks.. 18: 2002/10/?? - Uncle Dave So, I have a little nephew named Parker who I get to see once or twice a year. Last time I saw him he couldn't talk, most he could say was "moo" and "woof" and "roar". Anyways, Thanksgiving was coming and my mom was excited to see me again, so she asked Parker (about two and a half) who was going to be visiting soon. His second guess was "Uncle Dave?" Which is a shock, since I didn't even know that he knew my name, much less that I was his Uncle. Pretty neat. 19: 2002/12/25 - Holidays After Mo and I went to my family's house for Thanksgiving, we did the Christmas thing at her house in San Diego and had a good time. I have some friends in San Diego (it's where we met, actually) and they were holding a Swing Dance for Christmas. They needed a Santa Claus, so I jumped in. It was very entertaining, we had a Santa Dance Jam (which became more ludicrous as my beard and costume pants kept slipping off). Then I sat on my chair and let all the good and bad little boys and girls sit on my lap and I gave them presents. Wow, that sounded really dirty. I thought I'd have some Santa Photos, but I haven't managed to find any yet. After a good Christmas, Mo and I took off for Antigua and met up with my family - my parents had very generously put together a Carribean trip for the family using the inheritence from my Gramps, the consummate traveller. Unfortunately, I got sick before I ever got on the plane, and I stayed sick for almost a week, so most of my Antigua time was less than ideal, including a grueling 7-hour trip to the Antigua hospital. The only bonus out of that experience was the "Antigua Medical Plan" which allows for all of your hospital visits to be free if you leave the hospital during non-business hours, since the cashier has gone home. This came to our advantage again, because we had to go to the hospital a second time (ugh) because Mo had some insect bite that swelled up and made her arm all stiff. Apart from our various hospital adventures, the trip turned out to be very fun. I got to Scuba for the first time (down to 80 feet) and swam right over a Barracuda. Good times. We also built a massive sand dragon on the beach with the little ones, harkening back to my childhood vacations spent in Grenada where my brother and I learned the art of sand dragons. 20: 2003/02 - Pinky Mulligan Maybe this should be a FAQ question, but it was too weird a story to not go into my history. Also, the story has been updated, the person in question changed their mind and the original photos are back up, thanks to me posting this. It's still too good a story to not have up. If you look through my photo album, you may run into references to a person I call "Pinky Mulligan," and you may see a few photos were someone's face has been replaced by my buddy Mitch Gottlieb. Here's the explanation behind that. I dated a lawyer not so long ago. I'd made this mistake once before, dating a lawyer, but sometimes it takes me a couple times to figure these things out. I'm not saying lawyers are bad people. (And to be clear, I'm not saying they're good people either). I'm just saying that I shouldn't date lawyers. You can if you want. Have fun. Anyways, eventually it became clear that things weren't going to work between us - she had her reasons and I had mine. And that's fine - that's how relationships go. But last month, over a year later, she demands that I take down all the photos I have up of her on my photo album site, even though her full name isn't used anywhere. Kooky. So - I'm not happy about this. The only photo album I keep these days is digital, and the only copy I have is on my website, so taking down her images means removing them from my personal photo album as well. So we discussed it - I initially didn't want to do it, but I finally tell her I'll take care of it but it's going to need to happen later because I'm busy. I had just taken a contract job and was working day and night, then I was out of town for over a week. When I get back, I have some threatening letters from her implying that she can sue me and so on.. Groovy. Seems like a really great way to treat your ex's - when they agree with you, threaten them and be mean to them anyways. So - I took down most of the photos. Some of the photos were very important to me (such as photos that were taken by other people, like the only photos I have of me at my very excellent 30th Birthday party) so for those I replaced her image with my buddy Mitch and removed her name. In place of it I needed to make something up, so I made up the name "Pinky Mulligan." I think it's a good name, and there's no need to put her real name in there. No need to assault her with my google juice. I suppose it would have been funny if I had fought back so she could have sent me a cease-and-desist letter - I've never received one of those, and then I could post it on my website, and that would be worth some chuckles. All the cool websites have cease-and-desist letters, right? ;) But I suppose it's better to not make enemies (or dates) with lawyers. Now I know. 21: 2003/04/10 - Go Speed Racer! I got a speeding ticket driving back from San Diego in February. I was speeding, but I was also going the speed of traffic. Ah well. Anyways, it had a required court appearance of 4/9. I didn't want to drive down to San Diego for a court date, but I wanted to try and fight the ticket. Turns out you can ask for a "Trial by Written Declaration" for situations like this, so I did. I got the paperwork and took it to a traffic lawyer to fill out, I figured they could do a better job. Unfortunately they didn't. They called me (on 4/9!) to tell me that the due date on the written declaration wasn't 4/9 like we thought, but was actually 3/31, and they hadn't sent it in. I had missed it. Not only that, but now I had missed my court date as well. I was unhappy. But today I bugged my lawyer to try harder to do something about the ticket, since he was somewhat culpable for my position. He called the San Diego courts and discovered that the officer had been told of the request for a Written Declaration. Consequently, he hadn't appeared on the court date. So when I didn't send the Written Declaration and the court date was back on, he didn't find out about it and he didn't show. An officer failing to appear to the court date is reason for dismissal. Ticket dismissed! 22: 2004/03/24 - Wash and Wear Electronics I use a Jabra FreeSpeak Bluetooth headset on my cell phone to avoid radiation into my brain. And this weekend I couldn't find it anywhere, until I was folding my freshly washed clothes. Oops. (do not try this at home, kids) On a whim, I decided to see what would happen if I charged the headset back up. It took a bit for my phone to recognize it, but it works. I'll be damned. I was never too happy with the battery life on this headset, but major kudos to Jabra for making a 'washable' bluetooth headset. 23: 2004/04/01 - Customer Service Hell No, this is not April Fools, though these days it always feels like April 1st. I seem to be cursed. My life isn't spent working 9-5, like it used to be, and it isn't spent frolicking through the fields, like it should be, instead it is spent with life maintenance - dealing with health insurance, phone bills, rental issues, car repairs, yadda yadda. The last few months I've been spending about 4 hours a day dealing with this. It boggles my mind how so much trouble can come along. An example: Recently AT&T (a horrible, horrible company) decided to steal my phone service. I spent approximately EIGHT hours on the phone trying to get my cell phone number back on T-Mobile. It was amazing how horrible and idiotic their customer service was. They'd tell me they'd fixed the problem, then they made it worse, they'd refuse to talk to me, they wouldn't understand the problem, they'd disconnect me while I was on hold, it was an endless nightmare, and everytime I needed to call them I had to put up with HOUR LONG wait times. One hour. In the end, AT&T managed to screwup my phone number (this is my business phone, mind you) for a number of days until I got it transferred back to T-Mobile. The best part is that after I finally got it sorted out and got my number back on T-Mobile, AT&T actually had the gall to send me a bill. I'm not kidding - they're trying to charge me for stealing my phone number. I called them and sat on hold for hours again. When someone finally answered I *might* have told them that if they didn't take the charges off the bill that I would come down and burn down their entire fucking building with everyone inside. I might have. But I certainly wouldn't admit that here. I will say that I didn't end up paying the charge. But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Today my problem was with PG&E, which isn't necessarily a bad company, but they have long phone wait times like everyone else. My power has been flickering in my house, enough to shutdown my computers (now on UPS which have to kick in regularly) and spikes that have so far fried one answering machine. PG&E comes out and finds something wrong and fixes it and leaves. Unfortunately the power is still flickering, so I call them back and, once again, I'm on hold. Hold is where I spend most of my life lately. And while I'm on hold, calling from my land-line, mind you, believe it or not, the line goes dead. No, PG&E did not hang up on me (as our friendly AT&T centers would), my land line was actually dead. Kaput. My DSL was down as well. To plagiarize from Dave Barry, I am not making this up. 2004/04/02 Update: I spent a half-hour calling AT&T to straighten the billing thing out. Much to my surprise, while sitting on hold I realized that they had overbilled me on my other account by about 20%, no kidding. I guess sitting on hold has some advantages. So I sent in my final check today, and on the back I wrote: By endorsing this check, bearer admits that it is a pudwhacker We'll see if they accept it. 24: 2004/06/24 - It's a small world after all. I popped on to the Settlers Java server to play a quick game of Settlers of Catan (which rocks). I started playing a game with two random players, and we start chatting. One of them, from Finland, noting my game name of 'daveola' asks me, "Are you David Madison?" Turns out he had seen my web page (at Daveola.com) just a few days ago, and noticed the similar username on the game. Let's all sing. "There is just one moon and a golden sun.." 25: 2004/08/13 - Dave's Super Tax Bracket I got my tax results for 2003. 2003 was an interesting year for me - I was laid off the year before and was enjoying the advantages of what I like to call a work-lite economy. My (no-longer) savings managed to make this possible, since in the end my income put me below poverty level, even for outside of SF, where the cost of living is so high. And that's fine - last year was quite an adventure. But what's particularly amusing is that (thanks to 'self-employment tax') my effective tax bracket was: ** Seventy-Seven Percent ** (I thought I'd spell that out for emphasis). Yes, 77% of my income after deductions, an income that was less than minimum wage, an income that was less than a third of my rent, yes, 77% of that was sent to the IRS. Thanks guys! Thanks for the roads and stuff! 26: 2004/10/31 - Email Access Isn't For Everyone Because I write some very popular software that generates photo albums, I often get mail from confused surfers who think that the person who wrote the album tool must be the same person who took the photo. If that were the case, I would have taken millions of photos by now. Anyways, if you try to contact me, which I admit is (intentionally) difficult, you'll have to pass a guantlet of pages, including one that tells people that I didn't take the photo they think I took, and to talk to the owner of the website the photo is on. Unfortunately, there are still many people who, in their mad rush to get information about 'my' photo of the Ampullariidae Snail eating a piece of lettuce, they zoom right past this page that should give them pause. I finally started collecting these mistakes, I'm well over a 100 now, I get about 1 a week. To save time, I simply send them the URL of the page they missed, simply: http://MarginalHacks.com/Contact/Photos.html The responses I get are sometimes very amusing. One of my favorites was this woman who kept mailing back asking about the picture and wondering why I kept sending her the same URL. Finally she read it and then got very angry that I would make fun of some poor woman who didn't know how to use the internet. Make fun of? Please, if you haven't yet, take a look at the contact page. It simply states that I didn't take the photo and suggests contacting the owner. Today I got a particularly good response - good old Al Aranowitz (or should I say "AL ARANOWITZ" because he hasn't learned how to turn off his caps lock yet) didn't like my one-line response with the contact URL, so he replied with a one line response of his own (I've left in his spelling/grammatical/capitalization errors in order to keep the 'flavor' of the original document). To quote: WHAT ARE YOU A ASSHOLE Thank you, Al. Have a nice day! 27: 2005/01/22 - LindyGras Ego Boosting I went to LindyGras, which was just about the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life, not counting poetic moments of love. And I had the greatest compliment of my life. I was walking the waterfront with my two ladyfriends, Haley and Jen, and we passed by this lovely black woman sitting on a park bench. We were in a cuddly mood (I think 'cuddling' was a theme at LindyGras) and we huddled together in our hooded jackets in a triangle. The woman saw us huddling there in the distance in dark and asked if we were okay. We laughed and said everything was great, and she laughed with us and explained that we looked like a bunch of homeless kids huddled together for warmth, wondering where our next meal was coming from. It was an amusing picture. Anyways, on our way back, I was walking with a beautiful woman on each arm (pimpin', baby!) and she got a better look at us and said with surprise: "Now that's the prettiest white boy I ever seen!" That is, without a doubt, the best compliment I've ever had. No flowery claims of being the most attractive man ever, but the prettiest white boy she ever saw. She qualified it, and in that she gained creedence in her statement, and my ego bloomed. K'pow! I was king of the world that weekend! (Having the company of two beautiful women and being at the top of my game with my dancing helped as well :) 28: 2005/01/30 - Google Juice Spewing Everywhere So, I know I have lots of google juice, and that's nice, but it usually moves me up the search results in ways that make sense. By sheer chance I came across this very strange result. There's a good book that you can buy at Amazon, "Why Is Sex Fun?" (Coincidentally enough, I own this book and it's pretty good, perhaps google has been spying my bookshelves?) Okay - so follow me on this, it's only two steps, so open up a new window. Then, if you search for that book on google (you can also do it by searching for the title) And click on: Find web pages that are similar to www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465031269/ (or on 'similar pages' if you searched by title) You get some very surprising results. (I've grabbed a screenshot in case the results have changed) I'm honored to be linked to a book about sex being fun, sure, but why my Zoo page?? What does google think of me, exactly? :) 29: 2005/02/23 - My Life Is Stolen - The Story Of DaveLion One of my lindy friends came up to me yesterday and said: "I've been meaning to ask you Dave, when did you learn portugese?" I told him that I didn't know any portugese. He explained that he ran across my photo blog and it was written in portugese, and he was pretty sure it was me. I was pretty sure it was not, since I was still holding on pretty tightly to my not-knowing-portugese thing. I wondered aloud if I had a doppleganger somewhere who spoke portugese, and he had maybe confused the two of us. He said it was possible, though strange that this person who looked just like me would also have a photo of his UW-Madison graduation with someone who looked just like Bert and would have the word "Bert" in the caption. Excuse me? I have a photo of me at my UW-Madison graduation with my then girl, Bert. Oh yes, and things were even stranger than you might expect. No - I was not living a double-life (nor was Bert). I headed over to the URL he gave me, and much to my shock, someone had tried to steal my web life. Let's call him "Rick" for now - since I'm pretty sure that's his name. Seems that Rick went ahead and created an account for me as DaveLion, a portugese speaking resident of Luzerne, Switzerland (where I've visited, as can be seen from my photo album, where you can find the photo that presumably inspired the name, Dave Lion). Then over the course of the last three months, he regularly stole photos from my album and recreated a new fiction of who all these people were and what were doing. Sometimes he changed names, sometimes not. That wasn't enough for him, so he took my friend Mel's photos (many of which can be found on my site) and created another persona by the name of "CatiaLuzern" who is, as near as I can tell, my sister-in-law. And then he kept posting photos of us and made many friends in this entire Portugese pic/blogosphere. He invented a story about my wonderful dog Kodi who had died of cancer, re-inventing her as "Skiper" - the old dog who was still battling tumors and in need of operations. DaveLion had a huge list of friends (I think my artificial life had more friends than I do) all concerned about how "Skiper" was doing. Evidently I had a car accident in Germany and "Skiper" saved my life by getting the attention of some sheperds while I was bleeding to death - and there are photos (from my motorcycle accident and from another accident) to help tell the tale. Fucked up. Amongst all the friends, there was one in particular who seemed to be a good friend of "DaveLion" and "CatiaLuzern" - his name was Rick Ipanema and he was from Brazil (where it turns out all these photos were posted from). DaveLion and Rick would often comment on what good friends they were and Rick talked about how he met DaveLion through "CatiaLuzern". In fact, I discovered that Rick had another photo album on another website with a whole section of (my) photos devoted to his buddy DaveLion. It got to the highest level of fucked-up'edness when Rick copied a joke photo I had from Herrang of being kissed by two girls. He copied the pose and then put the photos next to each other. (That's his text on top of the images, not mine) Hello, psychotic stalker hotline? I'd like to file a complaint... I'm comforted by the fact that many of the comments from the cute Brazilian women (from what Portugese I could translate) seemed to think that DaveLion was cute. I suppose that's something. I talked to the owner of buzznet, and he was very understanding and helpful. Hallelujah to that - not another battle. He handed over the accounts to me and I shut them down, which is why users of buzznet now see a 'This Account Is A Fake' image when looking at DaveLion. I've sent mail off to Rick, we'll see if he handles this intelligently or psychotically, so hopefully I'll be able to understand why "Rick" is doing this and if I have to fear for my life if I ever go to Brazil. For histories sake, I've archived the sites at my Archives listing, even though it wasn't really my website. 2010 update: Rick has sent me an email 30: 2005/02/28 - Dancing For Old People I have a swing friend who often dances at retirement homes for reasonable but meager pay, the main incentive, as I see it, being to give some joy to the older folks who live there and can reminisce and be entertained by a pair of young'uns dancing to their music. Occasionally she asks me to partner with her, as she did this Monday, and we headed out to a local 'old folks home' here in SF. We danced for an hour, and the senior citizens mostly sit in wheel chairs and smile or sleep and occasionally try to clap. I'm ashamed to confess that it's more of an emotional workout than a physical workout. My initial thoughts going into this the first time was that it would be this amazing exchange of youthful energy for this aged wisdom, but sadly this doesn't pan out. I'm sure they have some wisdom, possibly to share, but mostly they're just trying to stay alive and go through another day. It's hard to watch, and it certainly raises powerful feelings of mortality and fear of what may happen to me. It would be so nice if we didn't hide our old people away, but after staring it in the eye I can understand why so many of us are afraid to go and visit and spend time with our earlier generations. It's hard, and I have to force myself to do it everytime we go dance. I'm always glad that I do, but it always leaves me somewhat melancholy. What will my life be like when I can't dance? What will it be like when I'm going to depend on someone for all my needs? What will I do when each day I watch life go by without being able to grab it by the horns anymore? Maybe we need to find a new way to view those that came before us, to face our fears so that we don't need to hide from them so much, so that these lost generations can be a part of our lives again, and us theirs. If I had the answers then there wouldn't be so many questions in this little monologue. Maybe I'll figure the answer out when I'm old and nobody will listen to me... 31: 2005/03/01 - Daveosaurus I'm making a costume for Burning Man. That's pretty impressive considering it's going to be my fifth year there, and after exhausting all my Burning Man energy on my various projects, I finally decided to take care of myself (which is nice, since it means I'll have something warm to wear at night). That's not the point. The point is that I needed some horns, which brought me to the Bone Room in Berkeley. Now, this place is kind of spooky, especially considering the fact that I'm a quasi-vegetarian and it's full of dead animals, but I needed to at least look at animal horns for design sake. And while I was there I found that you can buy dinosaur fossils. Whoa. That's right, dinosaur fossils - and I don't mean casts of dinosaur fossils, I mean the real thing. And if you're not picky, then you can get them supercheap. I picked up two pieces both about the size of a small cork, one from a duck-billed Maiasaura and from what is either a Raptor or a Triceratops. That's right, a Raptor or Triceratops. Whoa again! I had a Triceratops sticker when I was a kid and I thought that was cool. Total cost? $5. That's nifty. I almost feel bad that I'm going to make a necklace out of them once I pick up a dinosaur tooth for $20. Maybe I'll get a whole set of bones and finally build a full-size replica of the massively powerful and feared Daveosaurus. 32: 2005/06/10 - Dave's Lindy Mansion I run what is often referred to as the "San Francisco Lindy Hop Hotel." If you don't Lindy Hop, this probably won't make much sense, but basically I have a house with an unusually large living room (which leads to some fantastic parties..). And I generally have dancers crashing at the place from all around the world. I only started a guestbook in late 2003, but I think it's safe to estimate that a few hundred guests since 2001 have stayed at the SF Lindy Hotel. Evidently, this has become a known phenomenon - I've met many a person that has already known me through my housing. The tops of it was tonight, when I met someone from Australia who was dancing in our city. I mentioned that she could stay at my place if she needed a host, and she replied: "Oh, you're the Dave of 'Dave's Lindy Mansion!'" (not that I live in a mansion - a stretched one-bedroom, maybe..) This has happened before, but what's particularly funny is how she heard about it. She was at the Cleveland Airport and mentioned she was a dancer going to San Francisco, and some random person said "Oh, are you staying at Dave's Lindy Mansion?" This was some airport somewhere, not a dance. I guess I got my 15 minutes of fame, and it was really just for my apartment. Time to move out, I think. ;-) 33: 2005/08/04 - My Software Bites Back So, I use this great software for making photo albums. Maybe I think it's great because I wrote it. Anyways, it played a little trick on me today. I had put up my photos for Herrang '05, and one of my friends asked me why I was being so explicit in one of my captions: Justina (Lithuania) ..ked with me week one Oops. See, my software shortens captions that are too long by breaking them up and putting a '..' in the middle. It just so happens that when you break up the caption (which is only one character too long): Justina (Lithuania) worked with me week one It turns into an entirely different message. Sorry Justina! 34: 2005/09/07 - But At Least People Use My Software.. I received two email messages today. One from a dancing friend in Atlanta who received an invitation from her brother and noticed my name at the bottom, which confused her until she found out that he was using some evite-replacement software that I had written. And then I received a question about the album software that I wrote from a church - it turns out it's the big church from right near where I grew up as a kid. Sometimes it's good to be used.. 35: 2005/09/07 - It Really Is A Small World... If the last story wasn't enough, I also received a phone call today from a recruiter who wanted to get me a contract job with HP-FC Now that's comedy. 36: 2005/11/12? - Smartass Dave Sometimes I can be awfully shocking in my obnoxious behavior. But usually it's funny, so it's okay, or at least I tell myself. Today I outdid myself. I was talking to a nice, innocent girl while working at the DogHouse. We were talking about numbers and I had figured out something clever and used my line (particularly amusing since I get paid $10 at the DogHouse) Dave: That's why they pay me the big bucks! Then the innocent girl also figured out something clever and said: Innocent Girl: I didn't get my degree for nothing. Dave: What was your degree in? Innocent Girl: Art History. Dave: Yeah you did. At least it's better than the canonical "fries with that" joke, yes? 37: 2005/10/12 - Archive.org saves the day! I had a court case against a scumbag from LA (I know, that's a bit repetitive) who had ripped me off with some online advertising. He had sold me some advertising and then he pulled the ads without telling me. When I discovered that they were gone and demanded that he put them back up, he refused. Finally, I gave up and demanded the rest of my money back. He refused. Wow. So, I took him to court, and fortunately I had figured out what he was planning.. I showed up in court and, sure enough, he claimed that the ads had never come down! He stood in front of a judge and told him that the ads had always been up and he didn't understand why he was being sued. Scum. But fortunately I had predicted this and had gone to the wonderful Wayback Machine at archive.org and had printed out a few pages from their archives. Fortunate yet again, it turns out the archive had taken a snapshot of the page in question just days after the ads had been removed. Screw you, scumbag! 38: 2005/12/04 - Parking Respect I live in San Francisco, and on top of that, I somewhat live in the hood. There isn't much respect for other people's property here, and people are often blocking my driveway. Today, however, was the penultimate in parking disrespect. Today I noticed a car blocking my driveway (not actually in the driveway, they've learned that they can be blocked in by my car that way, and they sure wouldn't want to be inconvenienced). Most parking offenders have learned that it takes the city a few hours to tow, so they can happily ignore my car horn honking requests to get out of my garage for an hour or so, as long as they move before DPT shows up. Because of this, most cars are usually gone before I can do anything about it, so I decided to not sweat it. No need to waste my energy on anger. But four hours later with a car still in my way, and with plans that night starting to get in jeopardy, I called the DPT. A couple hours later they showed up with a tow truck, and I was free. So I now could get ready to go out that night, and unbeknownst to me, as I did so, another car pulled in front of my driveway. Now I'm sitting here waiting for the DPT to show up again to tow car number two. 39: 2006/01/13 - Justin I was heading out to Utah this weekend for another Lindy Exchange, and had some flight problems. I ended up getting rerouted through Portland and got stuck there for a few hours at the airport. My best and oldest friend, Justin, actually lives in Portland. I hadn't seen him in ages, and he isn't currently working right now, so I called his cell to see if he could drop by the airport. Sadly, he's not good about picking up his cell, he treats it somewhat like people would treat an answering machine in a remote mountain cabin with intermittent electricity. Anyways, when he finally calls me back days later, I find out that he actually could have seen me at the airport. He could have, because he was *across* the hallway, at gate C-8. About 40 feet away from me. Lesson learned: Answer your phone when Dave calls! 40: 2006/02/21 - Department Of Parking And Traffic Acts Surprisingly! This is amazing in this day and age. But first, the pre-story: In San Francisco we have weekly street cleaning. If you're parked during that time, you get a $40 ticket. I forgot to move my big old bus on 1/19 and I received a $40 ticket at 1:15pm. That's a standard hazard of living in San Francisco. But then I received a $40 ticket at 1:19pm. Oops! Those little scooters that zoom in front of the street cleaner and issue tickets had gang banged me and didn't even realize it. Now, San Francisco has a policy that you have to mail in a letter if you want to protest a ticket and then the ticket goes into holding while they sit in judgement. You'll eventually receive their findings which determine whether or not you have to pay. Bah. So I tracked down a phone number and called the DPT directly and went through their phone maze to find a human operator in the hopes of saving myself from having to type up and mail a letter (I'd much rather write this history for you, dear reader :). And I found a human operator. And I showed her the two identical tickets, just minutes apart. And do you know what she did? She cancelled one of them. Can you believe that? Someone, somewhere, is answering a phone and acting with responsibility and intelligence. Can I get a hallelujah! I think I just might have to spend the rest of today happy. 41: 2006/04/17 - Telemarketers Teach Dave How To Be Polite The phone woke me up this morning. It should be noted that because I: A) Hate telemarketers and B) Work evenings (and generally sleep till noon) That my number is on the do-not-call list and I'm very protective of who gets it. It is against the law for telemarketers to call me unless we have a prior business relationship. So I was surprised to be woken up this morning by the (already fraudulent) "Domain Registry Of America" for a telemarketing call. I told them to remove me from their list and not contact me again, and I heard: "Is that a demand, request or comment?" I was sure that couldn't be what he said, so I asked him to repeat. "Is that a demand, request or comment?" Excuse me? I'm not even sure how "do not contact me again" could be referred to as a "comment" - but a demand or request? I asked him what the difference was, and he launched into a sermon on the virtues of being polite when asking someone - get this - to do you a favor. You've got to be kidding me. A telemarketer preaching to me about being polite on the phone. I should have told him (I'm sorry, I should have "requested") that he run over himself with a car. But I didn't. Somehow I restrained myself and merely repeated my demand (or is that a request??) to never contact me again. Finally he hung up on me (without saying goodbye). Ten minutes later the phone rang again and the person on the other end didn't speak. Coincidence? I think not. If that wasn't enough, later in the day I got another call from a telemarketer from an insurance company. Actually I should clarify, the call wasn't for me, it was for "Kodi Bear." Kodi was my dog - she died last year of cancer. Even before the cancer, she probably wouldn't have taken the call. She hates telemarketers too. *grrrr* 42: 2006/09/27 - Police And Scooters So, I have one of those little standup scooters. They're legal in California according to California Vehicle Code 21224 (by definition in 407.5b). Unfortunately, most police aren't aware of this. I've been pulled over twice before (and incorrectly cited once). Tonight I was meeting some friends and was pulled over and told: Officer: That vehicle isn't street legal. Dave: Yes it is. The conversation went on for several minutes, pretty much continuing this theme. I told the officer to check the vehicle code and they would see that what I was doing was legal (I couldn't remember the exact number). They didn't have a copy of the vehicle code on them. I told them I had done my research and there was a section of the code that made this legal. Officer: Do you have a copy of that section? Dave: I'm not required to carry a copy of the vehicle code around. I believe in generally respecting the police, but I get a little ornery when I am told I'm committing a crime when I am not. He said I was giving him bad attitude, though I disagree. Officer: You know, there are plenty of things I could cite you for! Dave: Such as? I never got an answer to that question. The officer then challenged me on whether the vehicle was safe or not. I thought that was odd, since it was street legal. Last I checked, the police force is part of the enforcement branch of the law, not the legislative branch. Perhaps he should write his local representative to see if he can get the law changed for my safety?? Eventually the officer told me he was going to go back to do some research and find out for sure. Officer: My sergeant told me to confiscate the vehicle and cite you, but I'm not going to do that... but the next time I see you driving this, I'm going to confiscate it. Dave: Please be sure to do that research first so you find out that you can't confiscate it. I have had similar discussions when I'm pulled over in my bus. Officer: You need a commercial driver's license to drive a bus! Dave: No you don't. It's licensed as a Class A Motorhome... And repeat. That's what I get for my love of unusual vehicles. Maybe I will carry around a copy of the vehicle code. 43: 2006/09/29 - Where have I been? Updated 2008/11/09: So that's a bit out of date. This is now kept somewhat up-to-date in the DaveFAQ 44: 2006/10/01 - Systems Crashing All Around Me I run UNIX at home. I do this because it never crashes. Pretty much. Except when it knows that it can really muck things up. It generally stays up for hundreds of days at a time. In fact, it crashes pretty much on schedule, once a year when I'm out of the country and can't fix it. Except for the last few days. This time I was home. I was having recent problems with my webserver because of a bug I'd started to hit with my webserver (conceptually similar to #28637). It was causing a good portion of my web pages to show the wrong page of content. Bah. I was trying to compile a new one with the bugfix, and the computer my website runs on suddenly shutdown. And it wouldn't come back up. This is very troubling, because I make part of my livelihood off of my website, and any downtime can lead to lost income. Fortunately I keep a mirror of the entire website as a backup on one of my internal machines (over 10gig!). So I take the disk out of my webserver and bring it upstairs to rebuild it. An annoying process that should last about an hour. Not this time. This time, in an amazing "lightning strikes twice" moment, my backup system crashed during the restore. And crashed hard. Like, I couldn't even read the partition table when I tried to restore *that* disk. I had to rebuild the partition table by hand, and use that with the webserver disk to create a new copy of my entire website, and put it on a new system with a new web server. Finally, over 24 hours later, I have the majority of my website working again with a few glitches to still clean up. Suffice it to say I now have multiple copies of my website now littered throughout hard drives in and out of computers. Next step is to start keeping copies in other buildings. Yeesh. 45: 2006/11/18 - ATM Cards, Expiration and Magnetic Stripes My ATM card stripe stopped working rather suddenly, and two interesting things happened. 1) I learned a neat trick to helping a near-dead magnetic stripe work again. Put it in a ziploc bag and run that through the machine (obviously this only works for swipe machines :). Somebody suggested this to me when they saw I couldn't get my card to work on an ATM machine, and I thought they were on crack. I tried it on a whim, and it worked perfectly. I haven't a clue why, but suddenly my non-working, non-swiping card was fully able to be swiped on the first try. Weird. I'd love to know what's happening here. 2) I finally found out for sure that the expiration date on my first card was a typo. The new card I received (in 2006) had a reasonable expiration date of 2010. My previous card had a *later* expiration date of 2012, and I received it in 2001. The first few years of using it was odd, people on the phone didn't believe that I was reading the card right because the expiration date was 11 years out. And many web orders were difficult because the pages had a drop-down menu to select the expiration year, and they usually stopped around 2007. I had to save the HTML of a number of pages and edit them just to submit the form. I suppose this is technically considered hacking, but I never heard from any of the online shops about it. :) It's kind of sad not having the longest lasting ATM card in the world anymore. Ah well. 46: 2007/06/01 - Lindy guest, five years late Tonight someone knocked on my door and wanted to know where the dance was. I was perplexed by this - I asked if I was supposed to be hosting him (I have hosted hundreds of dancers at this point and can easily lose track), and I asked if he had been told that I could give him advice on where to dance. No, he insisted, there was a dance at my house that night. I was surprised to hear it, since I was just sitting at home working, and after further questioning was surprised to hear that there was actually an exchange at my house. It took a bit of discussion, but finally I figured out that he was talking about the San Francisco Sleep Over. Indeed, it was for this weekend, and indeed, it was scheduled at my house. But in 2002. He was a bit late. He had been travelling to SF and had been searching for Lindy Hop and found the weekend and hadn't checked the year. Oops! 47: 2007/08/16 - Dave Fought The Law, And The Dave Won I have a little stand-up gas powered scooter. They're dangerous as hell, and very fun. Unfortunately, because those little motorcycles are *not* street legal, many police officers are under the impression that the stand-up scooters aren't either. They are. Feel free to check out California Vehicle Code 407.5b and 21224. Unfortunately, most cops don't know this, and most cops don't like being told that they are wrong. I've had to deal with this many times before. So, back in May of 2006 I got pulled over by Officer Mark Eveleth (badge 193) in Santa Cruz who told me my scooter was illegal. I corrected him. He then spent the next 15 minutes combing through the vehicle code trying to find things to cite me for. "Where's your muffler?" "Right here, Officer." "Where's your lights?" etc.. etc.. In the end he wrote me up on four nonsensical violations. I did a Trial By Written Declaration and was found guilty. Because the courts don't take written declaration seriously, they allow you to follow it with a Trial De Novo (new trial). At the new trial the "judge" (no traffic court judge is a real judge) Kim Baskett threw out most of the violations but left the most ludicrous one. And here's how it goes. Vehicle Code 21228 talks about what scooters going less than the speed of traffic should do. The title is: Operation of Motorized Scooters: Driving At Less Than Normal Speed of Traffic Got that? And it talks about how you have to ride on the right side of the road, except if you're doing something like turning left, where you have to dismount and walk your scooter across the street. Here, read it for yourself. (local copy) That may be fine for those pansy-ass scooters that can't go very fast, but that doesn't fly for driving around at normal speeds. And that's what the law says. If you're going less than the normal speed of traffic, you have to do all these things. And that night I got pulled over, I *was* going the speed of traffic. In fact, I was traffic, I was the only vehicle on the road besides the cop who was a block behind me and going the same speed. Irrelevant, claims the officer, you have to dismount regardless of what speed you are going. I explain to the court that this isn't how the statute is written and ask them to please read it. Clearly "Judge" Kim Baskett failed to do this, because I am found guilty. Now comes the fun part. I decide that, even though we're only talking about a ~$130 ticket with no points, there's the PRINCIPLE of the matter. Not to mention the precedent that needs to be set, so I can ride my scooter around like a normal person. So I appeal. And I decide to do it "In Pro Per" (without a lawyer). This turns out to be much more difficult than I thought. There's a reason why google lists millions of pages if you search for "lengthy appeals process". So I have to file a number of briefs, and a continuance, as well as some proof of services. And nobody at the Santa Cruz Court House seems to know who these filings are supposed to go to, even though they presumably deal with this every day. And then they lose one of my filings and almost get my case thrown out against me, and I have to have another court date just to keep that from happening. The brief steps are as follows. I file an Opening Brief. This turns out to be quite a legal document, with "Standard Of Review" and "Elements of the Action" and "Certificate of Compliance" as well as a host of other things that I used to not know the meaning of. And the courts (because we're now talking about "People Of The State Of California vs David Ljung Madison", Appellate Case Number AP001427, Traffic Case No 6SM026702) get a lawyer for the city attorney to write up a response. So I get a ludicrous response from lawyer Jeffrey Barnes of the firm Atchison, Barisone, Condotti & Kovacevich. The Response Brief was full of misinformation, such as completely false claims about what the Vehicle Code states. In addition, it claimed my case should be thrown out because my Opening Brief was late. It wasn't. And in double-checking the dates to make sure I hadn't screwed up, I realized that their Response Brief was late, and they had incorrectly filled out the dates on their (unsigned!) Proof Of Service to hide that fact. I made sure to mention that in my Closing Brief which pointed out many of their factual "errors" - but didn't use it to win the case because again, I wanted to win the case on it's merit so I could set precedent and never have to go back to court for this. And so the court date came today. I drove down to Santa Cruz yet again and my case was called in the Appellate Courts. Yet the lawyer Jeffrey Barnes was not present. I was worried that the case would be dismissed in my favor, but I wouldn't get a chance to set the precedent - thereby opening myself up to having to deal with this all over again. Turns out that someone from the City Attorney's office was there, though. She asked that the case be delayed, and the judge said no. The judge then went on to answer the city's claims by pointing out that the speed of traffic is a necessary condition for the statute and that the judges agreed completely with my interpretation of the statute. They judge (who seemed, at this point, to be smirking) asked the city laywer something like, "you don't really want to jump in on this, do you?" to which she answered no. I had won. I thanked the judge, and on my way out he asked me, "Are you a law student?" I said no, and smiling he said, "This is a very well written brief" Justice is served. Delicious. 48: 2007/10/24 - Paypal implements "two men enter, one man leaves" dispute resolution policy I had a problem with a cheap seller that I paid through paypal, and I needed to look into their dispute resolution policy. You can probably find it here: (unless the URL or text changes) [2014 update: amazingly it still hasn't been fixed, 7 years later] Paypal's Fight To The Death Dispute Policy First it tells you how to report a problem. After that, the last paragraph gives a sobering view of possible outcomes: I'm going to hope that something is supposed to fit in that blank space after "live" and before the comma, but perhaps Paypal is building Paypal Dispute Resolution Arenas (tm) as we speak? 49: 2007/12/03 - Dave Fought The Law, And The Dave Won, AGAIN After fighting the State of California for an incorrect ticket and winning in Appeals court (and setting legal precedent for the State of California), I had one more bone to pick. Back in November of 2006, after having parked my bus along the park on Fulton for over a year, the city decided they didn't like it anymore, and they illegally towed it. At first they claimed I was violating CA VC22502A, the vehicle code which requires that you are parked within 18 inches of the curb. This was nonsense, as my wheels were *pressed up against the curb* as they are *every single time* I park my bus, since the thing is so damn wide. This was confirmed by the towing company, who remembered that the bus was against the curb. I got my bus out of the tow yard immediately and fought the tow. My tow hearing was denied, with no reason given. I talked to the belligerent Sergeant Ching, head of the towing portion of the district. I've since discovered that Sergeant Ching was arrested for a DUI back in 2002 and charged with misconduct. And now he gets to hassle people who get towed. Anyways, I called Sergeant Ching, and asked him if he could explain what portion of the vehicle code I was violating. He was difficult through the entire process, and refused to give me the "authority of tow" (the right they had to remove my vehicle) until two months had passed, claiming I had been towed for 22651b, a different part of the code. There's a part of the vehicle code (CA VC22852b) requires that I am notified of the authority of tow within 48 hours. This is not just nitpicking, this is to allow for due process, which I did not get. This was really important, because I didn't get to find out what I had been towed for until after I had my tow hearing. I asked for another tow hearing, because I can demonstrate that they also didn't have a right to tow me under their newly claimed section of vehicle code and was refused. There goes due process, and there goes the cities requirements to follow it's own laws. So I filed a complaint with the city attorney. He denied my claim. Evidently it's his job to estimate whether or not I have a case (and presumably whether or not I was likely to pursue it). Perhaps he decided I wouldn't pursue it further. He was wrong. (Maybe he should have read this blog :) So on 10/17/2007 I filed suit against the City and County of San Francisco, and on November 28th I went to court. It was quite pleasing, very similar to the experience I had with the scooter appeal. This time I had two attorneys (City and County) up against me, and they were bumbling with attempts to come up with reasons why they could get away with an illegal tow. On a few occasions the judge actually challenged what they were saying before I even had a chance to, and I had to stare at the ground to avoid chuckling out loud. My favorite part was when, in answer to my point that I had not received due process, they claimed: "This [the issue over 22852b, notification of authority] is not important, all that is relevant is whether this was a legitimate tow." To which I responded: "I am shocked to hear that the city does not feel that the vehicle code applies to it. I am not sure why they feel that there should not be due process." Judgement was filed in my favor (on my birthday, nonetheless) for the tow fine, the court costs, as well as the cost of the lock they cut to get into my bus. Take that, city hall! 50: 2007/12/18 - Dave's secret iPhone So, I've been wanting an iPhone for a while, but what was holding me back (apart from $$) was that the iPhone was locked. It was software locked and SIM locked (to AT&T, nonetheless). And since AT&T sucks in such an incredible way (I'd put that in my history if it wasn't such a long story), I couldn't use an iPhone. Then a brilliant team figured out how to unlock it. So after pondering for a while, I decided to get one, and found out that this was tricky. See, the iPhone had come out with different firmware versions, and November 8th they released 1.1.2, which the cracking team hadn't figured out yet. They probably wouldn't be able to break it until 1.1.3 came out, and nobody knew when that would be. I searched ebay, I searched craigslist, and to no avail - the unlocked (older) phones were all going for hundreds more. Finally I gave up. I knew that when 1.1.3 came out, I wouldn't be able to get a 1.1.2 phone anymore anyways, so I went out to buy a new phone. At the store I asked if they had an 1.1.1 around, and the clerk smiled, knowing full well what I was planning and said no. So I bought the phone and took it home. I jailbreaked the phone so I could use it as an iPod even if the phone wouldn't work. And as I played around with my new toy I noticed that, according to the settings, I was holding a vintage v1.1.1 iPhone in my hands. What the heck? And sure enough, it unlocked just fine. Perhaps the clerk had some hidden in back and decided to give me a break? Who knows. Either way, go go new iPhone powers! 51: 2008/01/17 - Delta Airlines sucks ass On the 17th I flew on Delta to Fort Lauderdale for the SoFlex Lindy Exchange. Or was *supposed* to fly to Fort Lauderdale. When I got to the airport, the flight was overbooked, and they were offering $400 in Delta credit to fly out the next morning. I didn't want to miss the Thursday dance, so I decided against it. This turned out perchance to be a mistake. For one thing, after it was too late to get the $400, I realized I was actually flying in too late to catch the dance anyways, I had been thinking of the flight to another city I was taking a few days later. So it wouldn't have mattered if I had stayed in SF another day. Actually, as it turns out, I would have made it to Fort Lauderdale earlier. We boarded the plane, and then sat there for a good hour or so. Mechanical problems, we are told, and we wait and wait. Finally the plane takes off and we arrive late into the layover in Atlanta. As we land, we are told that everyone with a connecting flight has missed it as all the planes have already left. So the vast majority of us whose final stop was not Atlanta head over to Customer Service to figure out what to do. And the fun begins. First of all, I have never seen such an incompetent and lazy customer service staff. There were approximately 7 agents sitting around at the counter, and on average they were helping about 4 people. Many of them were sitting around and talking with each other and looking bored. All the while there was a huge line of people, all stuck in Atlanta and very tired. Finally one of the nearby gates decided to help out, and for reasons entirely unclear, they would pick people randomly out of the line to bring to the gate to find hotels and flights, usually taking them from the very end of the line, helping people who had just shown up, and ignoring those of us who had been in line for more than an hour. When some of us at the front of the line finally confronted the agent as he was picking the seven people from the back of the line to help, he merely waved us off and continued to bring the seven people with him. This happened when I was standing at the front of the customer service line with the inept customer service agents. I should have gone over to the gate, because I *stayed* at the front of that line while those seven people got their issues resolved at the gate. Instead I made the mistake of watching 7 agents helping 4 people for the entire time. Finally one of the agents calls me forward. They initially suggest a flight out on either the 19th or 20th. This is the *17th* mind you. After much pressure, I finally get them to put me on a flight 24 hours later than I was supposed to be in Fort Lauderdale, and they give me a hotel room and a food voucher worth $7. I'm not sure what I can possibly eat with that, but at least (I think) I'll finally be able to get some sleep, as it's now past 1am. I head out to baggage claim to get my luggage and wait in another line. When I finally get to the front I am told that they *refuse* to get my luggage. I explain that I have medicine and contact lens supplies that I need, and they refuse again, claiming that they don't have any employees to get my luggage. More on this later. I go outside and wait for a hotel. There's a mass of people waiting for hotel shuttles at this point. I watch a number of hotel shuttles come and go. As it turns out, with the *plethora* of hotels actually near the airport, Delta Airlines has decided to place me extremely far away, and I spend about an hour waiting for a shuttle that takes almost another 30 minutes to get to the hotel. I spend most of this time calling people trying to figure out how I'll get to my host's house the next day, but my cell phone dies. I think about how nice it would be to charge it with the charger which is in my luggage that they won't give me. I finally get to the hotel. I travel quite a bit and I've gotten laid over because of late flights before, and I can understand that, but this is, by far, the worst hotel I've ever stayed in. Motel, actually. Northwest once delayed me *in my own city* and put me up in a four star hotel right next to the airport. That's class. This motel was not. I finally get to sleep around 4am and I'm waken by repeated poundings on my door by the maids in the morning. I keep yelling at them to go away, but it seems they don't understand english. I'd put a "do not disturb" sign on the door, but the room does not have one. I call the front desk to tell them to make the maidstaff leave me alone, and they remind me that checkout is at 11am. I explain that I plan on staying until about 3pm since I've barely slept and my flight is in the evening. The front desk tells me that Delta has only paid for that night. Not even 8 hours. I get up, exhausted, and sit in the lobby for about an hour waiting for the shuttle again. One of the shuttle drivers, incidentally, starts yelling at me when I politely ask him "Is this shuttle going to the airport?" I'm still not sure what he was upset about. Again, the worst motel I've ever stayed in. I get back to the airport and head to baggage claim, so I can get my luggage (and charge my phone so I can actually make some phone calls). Again the baggage office refuses to get me my bags. They explain that my bags actually went to Fort Lauderdale the night before. Excuse me? Turns out they had gone on the flight I was told I had missed. Excuse me? No, my bags aren't capable of travelling in time. It turns out that my second flight was late and that I could have caught it, if only the flight attendants hadn't told me that it had already taken off. And I could have missed the awful experience of dealing with Delta's awful customer service and that crappy Atlanta motel. Way to go Delta! Update: Delta responds with an apology and a $100 travel voucher. That's a step in the right direction, but not even close to worth the trouble I went through. So, Delta's off my future flight plans. 52: 2008/01/27 - Item Not As Described I was perusing ebay for lightbulbs and came across an 18" neon light that spells "SEX" Buy it now for $12, shipping is $12, total cost of $24, offered by ebay seller rounder23. How awesome is that! When the item arrives, I am surprised to see that the 18 inch light turned out to be actually 8 inches (about 1/3 the size). I send mail to the seller, rounder23 (also known as Shawn Peacher): To: rounder23 From: Dave Madison Subject: Item Name: NEON SEX Bar Sign Light Up 18" w/ Base NEW In Box RARE Not quite. The sign is 8". The box isn't even 18", so I'm not sure where you got the measurements from. Did you send me the wrong light? His response (and only response) is that the box was 18" which I had already noted was false - nor am I clear as to how he claiming to sell "a neon sex light in an 18 inch BOX!" Woohoo! An 18" box!? Really! Oh. No. Not quite, my friend. So, I tried to resolve it with this guy, but he wanted me to pay the shipping to send this light back, another $12. I don't see any justification for having to pay $12 for his mistake/lie. I told him that I wanted a refund, if he wanted me to send the item back then he could pay shipping and I would happily do that. He did not respond. Nor did he respond to any of my numerous followup emails, so I opened up an ebay dispute and a paypal dispute. Here's where it gets interesting. It turns out that paypal's "money back guarantee" is a joke. They don't want to deal with the hassle of actually getting *more* money from the seller, so they only guarantee the *original* money spent and only if you return the item. To illustrate the problem with this, imagine that I sell you something heavy, like a generator, on ebay. You get the item for a steal at only $100, but the shipping is $500 freight. You pay me $600 and are surprised to receive a large concrete block instead. Paypal will give you your $600 back if you pay $500 to ship that concrete block back. You're out $500 because of my scam. I don't think so. But I noticed in the paypal dispute that they needed a tracking number to facilitate processing the dispute. And that's when I realized I was justified in acting quid pro quo. An "eye for an eye" if you will. You see, he had claimed to send an 18" light which was really an 8" light in a box which he then claimed was 18" (but not quite). So I realized that to properly send this 8" light back, I could send back a 4" light in an 8" box (but not quite). And I did. I took a normal light bulb and then, with the help of some *neon* colored markers, transformed it into a beautiful "neon 8 inch sex light". Yup. And it was glorious. And I sent it back, and sure enough, the seller rounder23/Shawn Peacher was likely confused. And did nothing. And didn't realize that a few days later, when the tracking number showed the item had been delivered, paypal's automated dispute system closed the dispute, and refunded the money. Now do you see the quid pro quo? That's when rounder23 stepped into high gear. He appealed the case at paypal and got furious on ebay, and the disputes stayed open for a few weeks, but eventually paypal decided to close it. I can't help but imagine the customer support at paypal hearing his story and trying to act business-like towards him but at the same time covering up his quiet snickering. And to be clear, I have no intention of ripping him off, as I've contacted him multipled times to offer sending back the "18 inch" light *if he just sends me the shipping costs* - I have been ignored every time. Doesn't matter to me, because I have my money back. Point and match, rounder23. Go try and rip someone else off. 53: 2008/04/24 - Where Am I Now? "Where Are They Now?" That's the title of a blog of one of my long-ago exes that a mutual friend sent my way for a chuckle. Recently she's become married, and I'm under the impression that she's happy, and that makes me happy. She was a sunshiney person when I met her, and it's good to hear that her sun is still shining. Her posting isn't as happy, though. In it, she lists her exes anonymously, with such titles as "The Uppity" and "The Druggy." It isn't hard to figure out that I am listed as "The Goof Off" At least I didn't get "The Druggy" :) Anyways, here's the explanation of where her life would be had she stayed with me, the goof off: Boyfriend #8 (The Goof Off): We met and dated in college when his goofing off was cute and age-appropriate. His motorcycle really won me over. But, after I had seen some of the world, it all seemed less charming. I'd likely be miserable, living in a tour bus, traveling the country swing dancing, while trying to write my memoir. I don't think I'd have had any children with him, given he was so much like a child in so many ways. Damn! I was pretty surprised by the rudeness of posting something like this online, even if anonymous. I thought for a while about how or if I wanted to respond to it, when I realized that the best response was clearly to post a response to my "blog" All rudeness aside, what really surprises me is the clear lack of self that she demonstrates in each of these listings. My favorite is "Boyfriend #10" where her "life prediction" is: I'd likely be a lesbian stripper if we'd stayed together... because it seems like those are the people with whom he rolls. So - the question that bugs me is, doesn't she have any say as to what happens in her life? Or does she just have to fit herself (rather unhappily, as we can clearly see from her ex-boyfriend listing) to whomever she's with? Strange. So, in the same vein, here's my entry for her: Girlfriend #6: If we had stayed together, I'd likely be miserable, because she's actually married to someone else now. *chuckle* Okay, now back to goofing off. UPDATE 2009/02/02: Someone sent me more of her musings - seems she's writing reviews from Yelp.com, and she's webbed me again. This time it was positive, perhaps she was working through something last time. Here's the 2 star review for Pomodoro, it's actually pretty amusing: "In college, I had this male friend who wanted to date me. I, on the other hand, felt very lukewarm about him. I can't tell you why he didn't trip my trigger, exactly, but I can tell you that he didn't get me all a-flutter like the dangerous motorcycle riding senior I had my eye on. That's how I felt about Pomodoro. The pasta was only okay. The fish was, well, the usual. Nothing stood out as particularly interesting, zesty... RISKY. Pomodoro rides one of those ridiculous scooters to class instead of a big, burly Honda Magna. Pomodoro will pick you up at your dorm, open the doors for you, and pay for your movie ticket. And yet... meh. Sorry, Pomodoro. I didn't call back because I... um... lost your phone number." 54: 2008/06/11 - Dave Fought The Law, And The Dave Won, AGAIN AGAIN So, I've been incorrectly stopped by cops because of my silly scooter a number of times, and I even got a ticket that I had to appeal in the California Supreme court (and won!). I've been pulled over in my Triumph because it has a tiny backseat, and police want to harass me about that (even though it's not against the law) and they hold me for questioning. This is, incidentally, a violation of my constitutional fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. I've been pulled over in my bus a bunch of times because police thought (incorrectly) that I need to have a CDL to drive it. I've even had my bus towed (incorrectly) by the police when it was legally parked, and had to sue the city to get my money back (and won, again, of course). It seems the police like to pull me over. So, I was feeling rather brave when I approached the courts to fight yet another mistake of our loyal police force. This time I had been given a ticket for a U-Turn I did that was legal, but the cop did not fully understand the vehicle code. I won't go through the entire argument here, but it seems clear to me at this point that I have a far better understanding of the vehicle code than most police officers I encounter. The basic point was that a U-Turn is legal if you have visibility on the road you are on - I had done it right after a left-turn and the cop thought I needed visibility on the road I had turned off of. Incorrect, and irrelevant when you consider that the maneuver is as dangerous as pulling out of a driveway at the same location. And sure enough, today I got my case dismissed. The amusing thing is that this was quite disappointing to the cop, who spends his time sitting on this street looking for violations exactly like this. Evidently nobody had read the vehicle code and fought him on it before. After my case was dismissed, he asked the judge, quite flustered, what section of vehicle code he could cite people for. The judge, of course, explained that she could not give legal advice (not even to a cop, kudos to her for that). The cop then blurted out, "Well, can we just throw out the next case, because it's for the same violation on the same street?" I turned around to the last person sitting in the courtroom, and he looked at me with eyes that very clearly said "THANK YOU" :) I've got another ticket to fight in a month. Also nonsense. And I expect to get it dismissed as well. At what point can I get a restraining order to keep the police from harassing me with nonsensical tickets/tows? Yeesh. 55: 2008/08/09 - Rude Customers and the Sushi Bath I went to one of my favorite sushi places tonight, and had a fairly entertaining and rude experience. I was sitting at the sushi counter, and there was a (tipsy) woman and her boyfriend(?) sitting one seat over. The woman was rudely harassing the sushi chef, which I don't approve of if only because he's a great sushi chef and a nice guy. This woman kept complaining about everything she got, saying that she was "fucking with her" and that she "wanted the good shit" So he kept giving her new dishes, trying to please her, but she kept repeating this over and over, and that she shouldn't fuck with her because she worked in a restaurant and she was a chef and she knew what was going on. Sure. I keep wanting to say something in the chef's defense, but I keep figuring it's better not to butt in - even though the chef was clearly unhappy with how he was being treated, and she clearly didn't give a damn. But I didn't have to worry about butting in, because she scooted over to the seat next to me and started to try to win me over to her side (while definitely violating my personal space). Likely. So we have a short conversation that goes like this: Woman: ..blah blah blah blah.. Dave: So you're a chef? Woman: ..blah blah blah blah.. Dave: So you're a chef? Woman: ..blah blah blah blah.. Dave: So you're a chef? Woman: [pauses, a bit confused] Woman: Well... I work in a restaurant. Dave: So then you should know better to treat the chef here like that. Woman: What are you talking about? Are you serious? Are you fucking with me? Dave: I think you've been very rude to the chef. He's a master at what he does. I think you should sit down, eat your food, and apologize when you leave. Woman: Oh, of course, I'm all about that, I'll definitely apologize, but ... And then she tried to win me back to her side. I simply told her multiple times that she should sit down, eat her food, and everything was going to be okay. At some point tears start to well up in her eyes and she tells me that I have insulted her. I'm not sure how I can insult someone just by telling them that they're being rude, but then again I've never (directly) experienced the idiocy of an intoxicated brain. She went on about how she was thinking about walking out. I repeat many times that she should just sit down and eat her food and everything will be fine, but she kept trying to defend herself to me. It got to the point where the manager came over and asked if I needed help with the woman. Fortunately my food came and I told the woman that I was going to eat, she should do the same, and that we were done talking. She sat back down, but didn't seem to be eating, she kept talking to her useless boyfriend. I happily started to enjoy my meal. For about five minutes, at least, until I decided to take a bath. Or not quite. Suddenly I was covered in water. The genius woman had thrown her glass of water at me. Particularly amusing about this was that she did such a good job of throwing the water that she lost her balance and fell down, taking a bunch of counter stools with her. Hysterical, albeit quite a bit soaking wet. I'm not sure why I got the water attack instead of the chef, since she was clearly upset with both of us for irrational reasons, although it did occur to me that the chef had a sushi knife. I took out my phone and wallet, neither of which were damaged, fortunately, and started to clean myself off while the boyfriend tried to help the idiot woman stand up again. She eventually left, and the boyfriend was super apologetic, offering to pay for my drink (irony being that I was drinking a glass of water). Finally they left, and the management and waitstaff came over and took fantastically good care of me. They were very apologetic, but I assured them that it was not their fault and that everything was fine, even a little amusing. In the end they gave me some special sushi and wouldn't let me pay for my meal. Like I said, great restaurant. On my way out the chef bumped fists with me, as a thank you for the defense, and I assured them that I would happily come back. And people ask me why I don't drink alcohol. Go figure. Some day maybe I'll understand why the question in society is "why don't you drink?" instead of "why do you drink?" but not today. Now it's time to take a hot shower! 56: 2008/11/05 - My Travelling Cat I had a realization today, which is rather fitting since it would be my Bear's birthday today. She would have been 16. In my house, many years ago, I had a dog named Kodi Bear and a cat named Cinder. Into my house came the little kitten Mr. Peterson, a 6 week old stray who still needed a mom to take care of her. Mr. Peterson bonded to my dog Kodi in a way that is not normal in the animal world. As far as Mr. P was concerned, Kodi was her mom in ever way. She followed Kodi around, unsuccesfully attempted to nurse off of Kodi (for *eight* years), and pretty much ignored the rest of the world. She generally avoided people, including me, only tolerating human affection in the odd circumstance that they were holding her while standing up. Otherwise she was content to be Kodi's little "puppy" It took a few years before I realized what was going on. When Cinder and Mr. Peterson first met, they did not get along. I had to teach Cinder to not pick on Mr. Peterson and they finally became friends. What I didn't realize is that Cinder had actually learned that he couldn't pick on Mr. Peterson when I was watching, and Mr. Peterson had learned that I was off limits, and that's when she finally turned to Kodi for the motherly love that she needed. I discovered this one day when, in a rather unusual move, Mr. Peterson came up on lay down on my stomach. This was shocking behavior for her, as she generally spent her time with Kodi. I enjoyed the moment, and then she suddenly got up and walked away behind me. I turned my head around to watch her go and caught Cinder out of the corner of my eye swatting at Mr. Peterson and putting her in her place. All this time, the best friendship of Mr. Peterson and Cinder was based on a clear "allocation" of the people in the house - Cinder would get me, and Mr. P could have Kodi. Eventually, Cinder passed away, and I wondered if Mr. Peterson would finally realize that she could be my cat, but any such time spent together would make her clearly nervous and fidgity, almost as if she was haunted by the ghost of Cinder. She was content to sleep at the foot of my bed, where she always had, so strongly conditioned to believe that Cinder owned the head of the bed. And eventually again, as time passes, Kodi Bear passed away. Mr. Peterson and I became much closer, she would spend more time with me and definitely started to come to me for affection and attention, but eventually, as always, would get nervous and have to run away, chased by Cinder's ghost. Many of you who know me already realize that I travel quite a bit, and, marching to my own drum as usual, my cat often travels with me. I have a rule that I won't leave my cat alone for more than two weeks, so if I'm gone for longer than that, then she comes with. It's not always easy, for either of us (you try to plan trips to Europe where you are restricted to pet-friendly airlines and pet-friendly hotels), but in the end I think it's worth it. I know that she has a great time, for example, every year when we go to Herrang, Sweden, and she gets lots of attention from the dancers at the camp there (and gets to eat yummy Swedish cat food!) But something became clear to me today. In the last few years, Mr. Peterson has finally given up the "ghost of Cinder." She sleeps next to me, and is totally comfortable with human affection. I used to think it was just a change that needed to come sooner or later, but I realized that it was the travel that did it. Everytime we travel somewhere, she bonds closer to me. We go to all these places that Cinder has never been. Cinder never flew anywhere with me, and this makes it clear to Mr. Peterson that we are a team now, and there's nothing that can come between that. Cinder was a great cat, but for Mr. Peterson's sake, it's good that she's finally let him go. I love my little cat, we're in Zurich right now, but we'll be heading back home soon. When we get there, Mr. P will happily jump out of her travel bag and meow to me that she's happy to be back in our (ghost-free) home. 57: 2009/03/19 - Flourishing Improv Career I've been doing Improv Theatre for a number of years now, but only took it seriously the last year or so because of my mentor and teacher Rafe. I didn't think I was ready to perform however, but Rafe shocked me by telling me that he not only wanted me to perform, but that it would be with him. Wow. He decided on an improvised Western long-form. So then I started to get nervous, because my first performance was going to be on stage in a theater full of people, many of whom knew me. I thought it would be nice to get a chance to perform on the BATS stage before the big show (BATS is the center of improv performing and teaching here in SF). Perhaps in the Sunday Players, which is a student production I've been thinking of joining. Well, it turned out that my chance came to be on the BATS stage, but not at all as I expected. I was flying back from one of my many travels, and was fortunate to be on one of the new planes for Southwest Airlines wifi testing, so I was checking my email, and Rafe had asked if I could make it to a rehearsal that night, because BATS needed a supporting player. The rehearsal was for an improvised Hitchcock show. With four of the biggest names in improv. Holy cow. These are my heros, and I have a chance to be on stage with them. I was just a supporting player as opposed to a main player (i.e., evil henchmen, waiter, driver, etc..) so I didn't spend that much time on stage, but it was an incredible experience and an honor to work with these guys. In the end, my hope for a warmup turned into something much bigger than my main show, and the improvised Western was a cake walk, and lots of fun. I got to play the psychotic villain in the first Western, and the next night was a "character redemption" story of sorts, where I got to play one of the leads across from Rafe. An honor all around. Yippee 'kay yay, mother... *ahem* 58: 2009/03/21 - High School Hitler My life in Junior High and High School was pretty dark, thanks to a number of sadistic bullies who tormented and beat me the entire time I was there. You can read about it in the High School section of DaveHistory. One particular scumbag has always stood out to me. Tony Campagna. The last of the bullies. My Senior year, when I had started to grow from being so tiny, and it looked like people finally might leave me alone, Tony wanted to show how tough he was by regularly attacking me. But not by himself, he was always with his "gang" of two other punks, and often attacking me behind my back. One of his favorite pasttimes, it seems, was to sneak up behind me when I was opening my locker and slam my head into the locker and then walk away. Very brave. I actually saw Tony at the five year reunion. I actually thought about starting a fight. He was bigger than me, but I am no longer the small, frightened child that he picked on, and I was fully prepared to give him the beating of his life. My biggest fear was whether or not I would stop. But I decided against it. At some point we need to let go. Perhaps not forgive, but at least move on. People talk about forgiveness in these things, but I'm not sure why it would make sense to forgive someone who has so brutalized you and has seemingly had no redemption to speak of. Perhaps if I was religious this would make sense to me. As it stands though, I figure it's best to forget about these people and look at the fantasticness that my life has become since freeing myself from High School's despicable clutches. Fast forward another 15 years. Facebook exists, and I use it to keep in contact with the hundreds of friends I have through the dancing world. Dancers are all tech savvy, so email and facebook are common in that crowd. But now my high school classmates are starting to learn about the internet, and in the last year a bunch of them have started to "friend" me on facebook. It's been surprising so far, since a good portion of them certainly weren't friends of mine. I always wondered what would happen when one of the people who used to attack me got on facebook. Evidently Penny Arcade saw this coming as well: And then it happened, the friend request arrived. And to top it off, it was none other than Tony Campagna. What really surprised me was the starkness of the friend request. No message, no notice of apology or redemption. Just a friend request. And this raises a bunch of questions. I can't help but wonder what his perspective is on all this. I can't help but wonder if he has somehow *forgotten* about his brutality - and somehow thinks of us as actually school buddies. Or has he realized the err of his ways and has somehow magically converted into a decent human. Considering human nature and the fact that no note came with the friend request, I'm guessing it's the former and nothing has changed. Sadly, his facebook profile shows two small daughters and I sadly wonder about their future with a bully for a dad. I suppose it happens around the world. And how to respond to a friend request from someone who gave us such harm? I remember that facebook at one point had this amusing application called enemybook which was supposed to keep track of your enemies, but I don't really need enemies, I always thought it was a better policy to ignore and move on. Maybe I'll just send him a link to this part of my website. Update: 2009/04/09 I sent him the link. No response. I guess in the end the fairy tale moral was correct, the coward was the bully, not the geek. 59: 2009/06/12 - Computer Mass-Suicide I run Linux at home. And this means that my computers never crash. At least in theory. And at least not while being watched. Evidently my computers are massively insecure and co-dependent, because they manage to all crash as soon as I leave on a long trip. This seems to happen about half of the time I leave for a month-long trip, which I do regularly these days. To call it frustrating would be an understatement, especially since my email and work and website all require that my home machines are up and running. My failures seem to come in groups, such as the time that I realized that the two external hard drives I had bought *just* for backup had both failed about a month after the warranty expired. Thank goodness I didn't find that out when I needed to make a restore. But I'd only had two epic failures, one was back in 2006, and then I had one recently. First let's do a rundown of the important computer equipment in my house. 1) Laptop (Panasonic *Toughbook*) 2) Workstation 3) Firewall/Webserver 4) Mail server / guest computer 5) LCD Display (Workstation) Five components, got it? I was, of course, travelling. I had my laptop with me, when the laptop fan started making lots of noise and the laptop started overheating. I had to figure out how to open up a Toughbook Y5, which was a daunting experience. Unfortunately when I closed it up, the fan was sometimes working (though the laptop was still getting too hot) and the screen now had a huge line of dead pixels on it, and two of the keys were broken. I've fixed one of the keys, and more than half of the dead pixels have magically healed themselves, but the laptop is still problematic. Twelve hours later my mail server went down. Fortunately I had a friend who was house-sitting that night, usually I just need them to reboot and handle the fsck which I can walk them through over the phone. No such luck. I called one of my UNIX geek friends, and we had to walk through it the next morning, one of the hard drives had severely failed and needed to be worked around. When I got home later I discovered that *two* of the fans had broken, causing the system to overheat and the drive to fail, not to mention a second backup drive that also turned out to have gone bad.) Okay, fine, at least the system was up. Except that 24 hours later I couldn't log into my main workstation. When I got home, I discovered that the workstation had literally fried - it took a bit to realize the power supply had actually broken. I put in a new power supply and decided it was time to update all my computers. This was when the firewall had it's failure - it needed a debian update that it was not able to finish, I had to do days of tweaking to the packages to convince it to load everything properly, until then my webserver was down and I had no network. Furthermore, my LCD display stopped turning on properly after sleep mode - it would take minutes of turning it on and off to get it to wake back up. My LCD had a hardware failure as well, though it was kludgily solved by turning off the sleep mode for the display. So, let's look at that list again: 1) Laptop hardware failure 2) Workstation hardware failure 3) Firewall/Webserver software failure 4) Mail server / guest computer hardware failure 5) LCD Display (Workstation) hardware failure Got that? It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Do not worry about your troubles in mathematics, I assure you that mine are far greater" - Albert Einstein 60: 2009/07/12 - Sad Day On The Dance Floor (technically the morning of the 13th) I'm at Herräng, as I am every July, and things were going swimmingly until tonight. I was dancing in the Folkets Hus with Ursi when suddenly a lead fell to the floor. My first reaction was to be annoyed with the people all staring. I think that the best way to deal with someone who has a spill on the dance floor is to look away so as to not embarrass them. That was not the case here. It took a few seconds to register that when he had fallen he was completely prone. He was lying flat on the ground and not moving. After a moment, I realized that this wasn't just a run of the mill 'embarassing moment' and something was wrong. People had started to gather around, and I think someone mentioned that he wasn't breathing. I'm not completely sure, as things become a blur when you move into high gear. But somehow I knew that he wasn't breathing. I also knew that my friend Kyle was likely to be somewhere in the building, and he is trained in Search and Rescue, so I needed to find him. I ran out of the ballroom, and I think I said "We need to get Kyle." I ran downstairs looking for Kyle and a phone. I heard someone mention 1-1-2, which is the emergency number in Sweden/Europe. I didn't even realize I had a phone on me at first, and when I did I assumed, incorrectly, that I wouldn't be able to call 112 with my American cell. Turns out I was wrong, I'll have to remember that for next time. I was downstairs and Kyle was found in the bar. He seems to recall that I found him in the bar, grabbed his hand and brought him out to the foyer, I seem to recall him showing up in the foyer. Again, things are a bit blurry. He runs upstairs (pushing people out of the way) and I follow. It's been about a minute or a minute and a half now, and Kyle goes in the room and stands over for a few seconds to see what is going on. Some of the people have started mouth-to-mouth, and evidently his heart is stopping and/or weak. Kyle takes over and starts CPR, giving breaks for the others to do mouth-to-mouth. The man makes short gasping breaths after getting mouth-to-mouth, but then stops, and his pulse is very weak. It's looking bad. At this point, someone has finally called 112, and an ambulance is on the way. The room is mostly cleared, though Kyle tells me not to leave. Peter from Portland is also in the room and mentions the possibility of Diabetes, and we realize we need to figure out if the dancer has any medical issues. Unfortunately, nobody knows who the dancer is, just that he's Swedish, and possibly from Uppsala. I run outside and start a search to figure out his identity and eventually find someone who has a name. I break into the reception and go through the books to find his info. Someone points out that he has a girlfriend, and we only get a first name. So then we need to hunt her down, all while an ambulance is coming and a team of people are trying desperately to keep this man alive in the ballroom. At some point Abeth(sp?) from reception arrives and tries to find info on the computer, but it turns out the dancer wasn't taking classes that week. My guess is that he's probably staying in a tent, since the general accomodations are only for registered students. We get a last name for the girlfriend, and Peter jumps in a car to go to the school area to see if he can find her. Juan and I are standing there brainstorming, when we realize we just need to go up to the camping area and start yelling the girlfriend's name, so we grab some bikes and ride. It's weird how powerful social programming is, even for someone like me who generally doesn't concern himself much with social mores. I get to the tents and for a second I really feel like it's wrong to start yelling someone's name at 4 in the morning. I actually have to remind myself that a man is dying, and I start hollering for the girlfriend, while Juan is combing the other side. I remember that there are tents behind the Alhambra Ballroom and I run back there, just in time to meet another dancer who had realized who we were looking for and that he knew where she was camping, he got to her tent and waved me over. I checked with her, no medical history, and sent Juan back on a bike to tell the team at the Folkets Hus while I talked briefly to the girlfriend. I got back to the Folkets Hus and the ambulance had arrived, probably about 10 minutes later. Kyle was still inside, but I didn't want to get in the way, so I waited outside to make sure Kyle was okay. The medics decided that the man needed to go in to Nortallje, so a helicopter came in and landed at the Folkets Hus, and he was transported out. I talked to Kyle, he was still in adrenaline mode and heavily concerned about his patient, as was I, so I got Herrang to get us a car and a driver to take us to the hospital. When we got there, we found out the bad news. The dancer hadn't made it. They had kept him on resuscitation the whole way, but he didn't come through, in the end he had been on life support for about 90 minutes including the 20 or so minutes that Kyle and his crew had spent trying to keep him alive. It's amazing how crushing that is. Kyle was devastated for obvious reasons, as was I. It's a whole mix of emotions you go through. Feeling huge sorrow for someone that you had tried so hard to save, especially for Kyle. But then feeling odd about feeling so much sorrow for someone whom you effectively had never met. And then feeling guilt for feeling sorrow, as it seems like that sorrow should be owned by the people who knew and loved him, as if we were emotional trespassers of a sort. It took a couple days and lots of sleep to get to a point where it made any sense. I wish we could have saved him, but I know that we did our best and that it was out of our hands. Regardless, as far as I'm concerned, Kyle is a hero, and I'm going to renew my CPR certification when I get back home. 61: 2009/09/16 - The Fulton Fun House Is Closing I've lived almost a decade at 1553 Fulton Street. The house has quite a history, once the Malcom X Unity House and home of Patrice Lumumba Publishers, also a halfway house and possibly a drug house. Since I've rented the first floor, it has become a part of dancing history, the location of LindyBooty, the largest Blues house party in the world, as well as a big part of the beginnings of the Blues Dance scene. It's also the SF Lindy Hotel, and it's had over 500 guests with somewhere between two and three thousand guest nights, as well as the record for most Lindy guests for one event (I broke 30 on a few occasions). And now it's closing it's doors. After 9 years of paying rent on a huge apartment in one of the highest rent locations in the world, it had come time to make a choice between getting another job and giving up the apartment. In the end, I realized I was essentially weighing between an apartment and my life, and of course, my life won. So I am out. What next? Well, it looks like after years of starts and stops, the Bus Project is finally taking off and I will be moving into my bus. We'll see how that goes. After I get my finances back on track, the plan is to find a few people who want to rent a warehouse and convert it to a few lofts plus some dance space, so in the end, I may have even bigger parties without any noise issues. If you know anyone who is looking for a massive space for cheap in SF, let me know. And thus ends an era and begins a new chapter. Goodbye Fulton Fun House!
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