Train Tracks

9 October 2015

Dear J—

With all due respect, drives should know that trains have one place they will be. If you’re between the crossing gates you should be nervous and uncomfortable; if you can’t see enough space on the other side, stop and wait until it’s safe to cross. Seems easy enough, I suppose, but because of the ‘spike’ in car-train accidents lately they sent out a roving news team to gather some information and tag, I’m it.

Damnit, I knew I should have gone to the San Mateo stop this morning. All signs pointed to it: I was running late and getting to Burlingame was marginal to begin with. Then you worry about what you’re doing with your hands. Is this funny? Does this work? Was I supposed to do this? Am I slouching? I bet I’m slouching. Geez.


So Far This Week

8 October 2015

Dear J—

I can honestly say I’m no longer a liar: the joke I’d made a couple of days ago, about how there are two kinds of people who ride with the cleated shoes? Yesterday, stopped at an intersection, instead of pausing before taking off again, like I thought I could, instead I gracefully fell onto my side. I will say that it’s nice that your feet do pop back out of the pedals once you’ve fallen over, so there’s that. 

At the moment I’m contemplating what it would take to assemble a bike, bit by bit, as we move forward in our lives; there’s frames and thoughts on eBay and you might suppose that it’s all easy breezy from there but no. it would be an indulgence to beggar even the most patient of wives so no. And yet I keep thinking that if only … and then … so no. It’s not that my current bike is bad or not suited but I just like to look at what’s out there and … but no. This is all driven, by the way, by the fact that i bought a rear Nexus-7 wheel, used, for cheaper than I could buy the hub alone. It’s laced into a 26″ rim so then I started looking at various moutnain bike frames, thinking that maybe I could put something together, something with horizontal dropouts and …

This is all dangerous thinking and it’s how I’ve ended up spending money chasing half-formed thoughts that wouldn’t quite die the deaths they deserved, flights of fancy meant not for actual implementation but only really to be brought low and straight after a few more stops on my train of thought.


Better Batter

7 October 2015

Dear J—

Every Sunday I make pancakes from a mix, and follow the “ultimate” recipe on the back, which adds several fresh ingredients that don’t sit well in a box, like eggs and milk and vanilla. I’m not sure if it’s better than the conventional mix they advocate, or if it’s even better than the old stuff which was just-add-water but assuming I’ve done a decent job mixing the dry ingredients together, it turns out all right. I’m not brave enough to try much in the way of variation, but sliced bananas and blueberries (separately, not together) have been good items to add once the batter’s on the pan or grill.

You do the same thing when you’re working towards being done at work; once this week is over I’m sure I won’t recognize what to do with myself. There are recipes to follow and templates to fill out and I still find myself going off-topic and off-path if the writeup requires it. Suggestions are suggestions and if you can find something better than by all means, please do so. There’s no joy or glory in it, just trying to make it something that someone would want to read and understand, right? 

You get along with it, don’t you? Keep rolling forward, as it’s the right and only thing to do; the subtle differences in between reports are because we are not machines and we report what looks interesting, right? Do your best and roll forward.



6 October 2015

Dear J—

There are of course a million other things that need to happen here soon and I’ll put them together just as soon as possible but for now I’ve got enough on my plate. There’s a reference letter, a receipt to turn in, the two reports and then maybe if there’s enough time, the job in Florida that’s been consuming all my time lately. How did it become this crazy?

So, first things first; let’s make sure that we can get the errand type things done because they won’t take long. After that, I think the legal job that I’ve been doing very much in slow motion over the past couple of days. Later we can discuss the effect of things but for now we’ll just have to live with what we’ve got. Finally this afternoon hopefully I can get enough time to put together the analysis and report, assuming that we’ve got enough smarts to know how to do wo.

Does that sound like a good plan? I hope it does enough. Otherwise we’ve got trouble brewing.



5 October 2015

Dear J—

Are these shoes too small? Are they too girly? What makes shoes girly anyway? Shoes are as cool or lame as you decide and although these particular shoes are too small (you can feel it pinching everywhere in the front part of the foot) I can’t say that they’re not worth it, especially since I’m riding with cleated pedals.

The joke is that there’s two kinds of people who ride with cleats: those who have fallen over because they’ve forgotten to twist (or what-have-you) out at stoplights and liars.

I’m not yet so unconscious of who and what and how but I do know that there’s a considerable amount of pressure and binding; maybe if I just … shorten this up. tie that down. Adjust this some more. Funny thing is how much time I’ve spent getting these shoes, and pedals, and cranks, and it still doesn’t feel quite the same as before. Perhaps what I should have done is kept the old cranks and just fitted new chainrings; wouldn’t htat have been easier? And yet no, the allure of new pedals could not be denied so easily. And very tight shoes. With fuschia accents. 

We’re fine. We’ll get through the day and onwards into tomorrow and beyond too; I just wonder how this wasn’t this tight when I was wearing the shoes yesterday, right?


Warning Way

2 October 2015

Dear J—

Well, things could have gone smoother yesterday but I got enough done and I’m okay with that. 

We rode back towards San Mateo yesterday from Hayward Park because the train ahead of us, NB159, had hit a car at the Broadway crossing in Burlingame, and then, according to Twitter, the car fled. I wonder how they might have done that: did a bumper get clipped, were they perhaps too far into the intersection, what is happening? It’s strange to me how you could stop a little too short or perhaps too late and then … just … nothing. No news. It’s sort of how my day went, how we had stuff to do and I chose to ignore it in favor of other things that were not as pressing but still need to be done and … well, you know what? Also needed to be done. That’s enough and I think I’m okay, considering how much other stuff lies on my plate lately.

We have enough as we go forward, and we’ll have enough at the close of this day, and enough after that too.


Chip Away

1 October 2015

Dear J—

Not Chips Ahoy although that sounds like it would be dry but sweet: chip away, gradually drip and get there. Get there from here; we’ll figure it out and finish what we’re doing without much grief. I owe several stacks of paper and we’ll hopefully be done before we know it. I think. There are a lot of distractors, true, but also a will to be won and reports to conquer. What else have you been doing lately? It always seems to come in spurts and drabs, but it’s looking a lot more likely now.

I will get to work today and write down what I need to finish by the end of the month, uh, yesterday, that is. Then a plan to get it done and we’ll be in good shape .



30 September 2015

Dear J—

I’m riding backwards today; there’s a thousand reasons not to but there’s extra people on the train and what else are you going to do? I’m hoping that it’s not going to leave me dizzy but that’s the price I have to pay for getting on later than others. So it goes. I can’t help but think that I’m going backwards, not just physically though. There’s a few report sections that I’m responsible for and I’ve been struggling with those, and there’s a thousand other things we’re responsible for, and … I should really stop cold turkey a lot of the bad habits I’ve developed over the past couple of years.

The truth is that I end up wasting a lot of time reading what other poeple write and undoubtedly that means internalizing their style and regurgitating it back onto the page in a sort of bastardized amalgam of words. What do I really know about x, or y  or z? Nothing, other than what I’ve read about it and I bet that if you went back and read something that I wrote (ten? fifteen? twenty?) years ago you’d be able to ask me what I was reading at the time and see that reflected on the page. 

I write at work in a sort of clinical, detached style which lends itself to all kinds of excitement regarding nothing at all, of course; you end up going passive-voice a lot in business and having to reteach yourself the active isn’t always the easiest thing, which is why editing Wikipedia and making illustrations is important: you get some practice, and you get … uh, more practice, since a lot of editors are content to tweak your grammar without boldly rewriting everything you do.



29 September 2015

Dear J—

Someone pointed out to me that since SVG is a file format that is essentially based on HTML (XML) you can’t really embed it in a webpage as part of a larger chunk and that doesn’t necessarily make sense, now that I think about it – haven’t they had things like frames and subsections for forever now? – but from a simplification sense, it makes perfect sense if you’re considering it as a technology to generate appropriately-scaled bitmaps on the fly.

Bitmaps are more easily understood: here is a coordinate, paint it this color, move on to the next pixel. I’m happy with that and I couldn’t tell you the number of times I used to play around on the pixel level, especially in SuperPaint (Silicon Beach Software). That program had a nice vector mode, though I was always intimidated by it and never used it much until I took some CADD classes later. Very obviously, we aren’t comfortable with the notion of vectors and control points. I wasn’t sure what to do with Bezier curves and handles for quite a while, not until I had to illlustrate my thesis and was forced to learn it through trial and error.

On the other hand, forced may be too strong a word to describe it; we could all simplify our lives by being honest and honestly, I did want to learn it, and honestly ,I do enjoy drawing with vectors, though I’m not at all certain how it benefits me when we’re talking work-wise, but I’ll stick with it as a fulfilling activity.



28 September 2015

Dear J—

When you were young and computer typefaces were bitmapped, the Macintosh came with a serif typeface called New York which was meant to be a close analog for Times New Roman. All the fonts were some sort of city, with Chicago, Geneva (Helvetica), Venice, Monaco (which I still find more readable than Courier) and others now lost to the sands of time, I suppose. The big innovation was the outline fonts that screens weren’t good enough to reproduce but which printed much nicer back in the System 7 days. After a while, you forgot what bitmaps were and whether or not you were even supposed to be paying attention to them.

I have problems on the weekend finding enough ways to occupy our time. Whe we first moved over we had routines carried over from San Diego: you’d get the kids in a stroller and push them down along the bridge to downtown and explore: here is Central Park, here are restaurants and shops and libraries, here is your new city, arrayed and ready for you to discover. Now if there’s any prevailing emotion it must be one of insistent certainty: I know, I know. I know I’m not going to enjoy this, and indeed, you won’t if that’s the attitude you’re taking. 

We end up disconnected and individually situated, no particular place to be and no particular agenda, just a few hours to kill between meals when we might bestir ourselves enough to be active. I suppose you can’t change the world overnight but that’s not what we’re asking, is it? There’s a long ton of activities we could do together and we just need the will to do so. Otherwise we risk being left behind as something new comes up and is adopted; are we the bitmaps or are we willing to be more?



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