Thursday, July 27, 2006

Week End Notes

Things have been fairly busy at work, which has kept a writeup of my Charles Williams reading languishing for nearly a week. I'll post it once it's done, but figured I'd touch base since it's been a little while.

We're finally coming off the little heat wave that has wrapped up the Bay Area for the past week or so. During this time we have experienced some historic highs. Er, high temperatures, that is. Historic highs have been around for a while. Anyways, San Jose set a new all-time record over the weekend of 104 degrees, beating the previous record of 99 degrees, set all the way back in 1917.

What I think is more amazing, though, is San Francisco. It also set a new temperature record of - drum roll please - 87 degrees! The previous record, also set in 1917, was 84 degrees. That just blows my mind... never before in modern history, even in the hottest days of summer, did San Francisco's temperature ever rise above the low 80s.

(Yeah, yeah... San Francisco is a city filled with microclimates, different parts of the city experience wildly varying temperatures, some parts of the city may have been warmer or chillier. The basic point still stands. This is one cool town.)

I'm not complaining or anything - it could be far worse. Close to home, temperatures in the Central Valley climbed above 110, and some older people died because of the heat. And, of course, the rest of the country has been fighting this for the last few weeks as well.

Fortunately, I missed the worst of the heat, as I was in Chicago for Jeff's wedding during much of the weekend. As it was I still took some steps to cope. As previously noted in this space I turned on the AC for the first time (and was curious whether it would actually work or not). I came to rely on it earlier in this week, and actually slept in the living room on Sunday and Monday night because my wall unit couldn't cool down my bedroom. Fortunately, as of yesterday I am once again AC-free.

I also had to give up riding Monday and Tuesday. It was cool enough in the morning to ride, but would have been pure torture coming home. Normalcy has been restored there as well.

So far we've had six "Spare the Air" days, which offer free rides on transit. It's a great program, and also has spawned some interesting side-effects. For one thing, a lot of people took advantage of free BART trips to go into San Francisco and do shopping and sightseeing. Local merchants and politicians were delighted; regular commuters were not. There were also a lot more teens taking transit, and more fights and thefts. As a result, some people are talking about the feasibility of making all transit in the region free all the time, while others are talking about eliminating free rides altogether. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out. Personally, I'd love to see more transit, but think at least a nominal fee is important... make it cheaper than driving, but not cheaper than doing nothing. That should keep the crowds down somewhat while still spurring transit as a viable alternative to private vehicles.

This weekend is the Gilroy Garlic Festival and I'm extremely excited about it. I first heard about the festival about a year ago, when I was sitting in a hotel room at the Los Gatos Lodge and preparing for the next day's interview at Rocket Mobile. Since then I've seen a year's worth of cultural and civic festivals, so the GGF doesn't seem quite as unique, but I still am filled with anticipation. The food lineup is just amazing: garlic ice cream, garlic fries, pepper steak, barbecue (including Famous Dave's!), every ethnic variation you can imagine... mmm, my mouth's already watering. Plus tons of merchandise, of course. I'll almost certainly pick up a garlic braid, and who knows? I may be inspired by something.

I've had Steam installed on my computer for... probably over a year now, and I just now finally bought something on it. Specifically, I picked up Jagged Alliance 2, an old old game. I'd thought about getting a Linux version back in the day, and it was old then. It's a pretty fun tactical combat and RPG, sort of like X-COM or Fallout. You assemble a mercenary squad and fight in an eastern European country. I'm just a few missions in but it's pretty fun so far. The mercenaries have fun personalities. Unfortunately, my guys aren't so good at combat, and they're already close to death. I'll need to figure out if I'm doing something wrong and if I should just start over.

Finally saw Dazed and Confused, thanks to Pat. It's a phenomenal movie... really fun, and more importantly, it features what may well be the Best Soundtrack Ever. Although made in the 90s the movie is set in the 70s, which as we all know is when rock achieved perfection. There's a lot I like about it, but a big part is the kaleidescopic affect it achieves: it's "about" high school, but rather than try to define one particular high school experience, it shows the broad diversity of attitudes people have and gives each their own weight. I loved watching the scenes with the three nerds (including a hilarious Adam Goldberg) who pontificate on the deeper meaning of the universe while the football players are out paddling freshmen. Anyways, Linklater is great at giving a wide angle and making it feel real and not contrived - he did the same thing for Slacker and Waking Life. I need to see A Scanner Darkly and am looking forward to Fast Food Nation.

Also saw Do the Right Thing with Pat while at home. Yet another excellent movie. I need to watch more Spike Lee. It's one of those movies that feels so huge that I don't know how to respond to it... admiration? Horror? Delight? In any case, it's good to check another thing off my Essential checklist. Fight the Power!

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