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Oct. 2nd, 2010


Amazing recovery

Just as a recap... About 3 weeks ago, just after Labor Day, my car was broken into during the night while it was parked at my apartment. The thief unsuccessfully tried to use a screwdriver to open the driver's side door lock (but still managed to permanently damage it beyond use), so he broke the passenger side window, stole the lame after-market stereo, and stole my Garmin GPS, charger, and windshield mount.
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I'm going to have to send this guy an interesting thank-you gift in return, any ideas? :) (The seller has already refunded his purchase price.)
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Sep. 6th, 2010


Laborday camping and kayaking

Got back last night from a quick weekend camping/kayaking trip near the eastern Texas border. Stayed 2 nights and did some kayaking at the Indian Mounds campground in the Sabine National Forest. Even though I arrived at the campground late at night (about 10pm), I ended up picking an awesome campsite when I woke up and could see how close I was to the lake. The lake was huge so it attracts a lot of noisy motorboats unfortunately.

Then on the way back, did some kayaking on one of the paddling trails in Martin Dies Jr State Park. There were 3 paddling trails and I went on the one that circles around the northern campground. I attempted to also go on one of the other paddling trails, but had difficulties following the trail of buoys through the overgrown water lilies.

Then a quick stop at Lake Livingston State Park to check things out (too many weekend Houston motorboaters there though). Very little privacy and the campsites are packed extremely close together. Its closeness to Houston is probably the only reason why there were so many people there.

Then today, I snuck in a few more touch-and-go practice landings with my flight instructor in between the storms and gusting winds. I think I got a little sunburned over the weekend though... :)

Sep. 12th, 2009



Here's a nifty raised planter that I finished last week using some of the left-over wood from the old greenhouse at cowhouse 1. I think it came out pretty nicely, and it was a good opportunity to try making the various lap joints for the joinery. The wood could probably use some water-repelling stain to protect it from the weather though.

(Click to embiggen)

Aug. 24th, 2009


Roadtrip through New Mexico and Arizona

I returned home early last Thursday morning after finishing up a week-and-a-half road-trip through New Mexico and Arizona. The total mileage was approximately 2700 miles, and was shorter in both distance and duration than than previous roadtrip last year.

One of the primary goals of the trip was to visit my parents and see their new home (in Vail, AZ) for the first time. I also got to visit long-time distributed.net buddies (cdy and bang), and a former coworker (Jon Woodring) from Jet Propulsion Lab who now works at Los Alamos National Lab.

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Apr. 20th, 2009



There's been a lot of firetrucks around recently.

Two months ago we had a big fire alarm at the office and had nearly the entire fleet out to investigate a chemical smell that triggered sensors in the building (probably residue from paint).

A few weeks later while dining at Chinatown on Mopac, we observed that their used cooking oil had overflowed into their parking lot and down the access road of the highway. This was naturally causing a large environmental issue, a tremendously offensive odoriferous release, as well as a driving traction impairment. Never fear, AFD to the rescue to help clean up the mess with some absorbent granules.

Then two weeks ago they had to come to assist with the "partybus incident" in front of my house and the cleanup of the spilled gasoline with more absorbent granules, though I wasn't home at the time to watch.

And just this weekend, my neighbor across the street decided that his rotting fence needed replacement so he apparently recruited some of his friends to rip out the old one and start the new one. Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm to use shovels and pickaxes to dig new fencepost holes, they forgot to call the gas company to mark the underground gas lines. Excitement ensued as two firetrucks were required to blocked off all access to the intersection for several hours while the gas company repaired the line and allowed the released gas to dissipate.

I wonder what the average percentage of their calls are not actually fire related.

Feb. 7th, 2009



For the last several months my Jeep has been slowly dripping anti-freeze from a joint near the top of the radiator. Within a week or two it would leak the amount of coolant between the "refill needed" and "full" lines on the overflow tank, but I have been carrying a spare bottle of 50% coolant with me just in case I needed to refill while I was away.
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In any case, by doing it myself I ended up saving about $460 and gained some automotive experience. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the old radiator.

Jan. 13th, 2009


mmm cheese

In recognition of unending advancement of time, and the passage of one year since the last one, I'd like to welcome all of my local peeps to a celebration!

What is everyone's availability for a dinner at the Melting Pot on either this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening? (We'll pick the evening that the most people can accommodate.)

update: Time is Saturday at 5:30pm!


Nov. 14th, 2008



So just prior to the election, I happened to become introduced to simplistic websites like "IsObamaPresident.com", "IsMcCainPresident.com", and "IsSarahPalinPresident.com". After noticing that "IsPalinPresident.com" was still unclaimed, I quickly registered it and put up an comparably simplistic page. I didn't mention the existence of the domain anywhere other than in my regular IRC channels, but quite a few other people must have discovered it just by guessing. 200k hits later and I got asked some questions from a reporter/blogger from the Wall Street Journal:

Jeff Lawson, a 30-year-old tech-industry worker in Austin, was chatting with his friends online about election-related “Is” sites. The domain IsSarahPalinPresident.com already existed, but the breezier IsPalinPresident.com did not. So Mr. Lawson paid a few bucks just before election day to scoop up the Web address, one of several so-called vanity domains he has bought.

“It was basically only the cost of a couple of drinks from Starbucks, which is a fair price for a few laughs with my friends,” Mr. Lawson said. (For the record: “No,” it says, followed by, “And hopefully not in 2012 either.”) He’s paid up for the Web adress until next November, but Mr. Lawson isn’t sure whether he’ll keep the site up beyond that. “I’ve already had my fun,” he says.


Oct. 29th, 2008


Another distributed.net milestone

(Cross posted from my grid.org blog)
For those who don't already know, distributed.net achieved another significant milestone last weekend by completing the OGR-25 project. Over the ~8 years of the project, we've had the computers of nearly 125,000 people contribute (and many people have more than one computer participating). Here's the full announcement that I made regarding the completion, as well as the separate announcement for the next OGR project. Launching a new project for us is always an exciting time, including a flurry of activity involving backend server updates and finalizing the new project's code.

distributed.net's recent success was mentioned in several prominent websites, including the venerable Slashdot (Distributed.net Finds Optimal 25-Mark Golomb Ruler).

Another nice blog mention was in Mark Hopkins' blog post "Microsoft’s Azure is So 1997 (and Why I Love it)", which reminds us that today's recent cloud computing initiatives are basically just building upon the time-tested concepts of the past.

Oct. 28th, 2008


On the topic of garbage

In the 1998 Supreme Court decision of California v. Greenwood, it was found (among other things):
It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.... Moreover, respondents placed their refuse at the curb for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party ... Accordingly, having deposited their garbage ... in an area particularly suited for public inspection and, in a manner of speaking, public consumption, for the express purpose of having strangers take it ... respondents could have had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the [items that were] discarded.[findlaw.com]

The question, then, becomes whether placing garbage for collection constitutes abandonment of property ... [T]he placing of trash in garbage cans at a time and place for anticipated collection by public employees for hauling to a public dump signifies abandonment ... [T]he act of placing garbage for collection is an act of abandonment which terminates [any protection]... The act of placing [garbage] for collection is an act of abandonment and what happens to it thereafter is not [protected].[findlaw.com]

In the 1995 case of United States v. Hall, United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, it was found that:
It is common knowledge that commercial dumpsters have long been a source of fruitful exploration for scavengers. ... [The defendant] did not take sufficient steps to restrict the public's access to its discarded garbage; therefore, its subjective expectation of privacy is not one that society is prepared to accept as objectively reasonable..[emory.edu]

Additionally, summarized elsewhere:
Stealing trash is not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that once an item is left for trash pickup, there is no expectation of privacy or continued ownership.

By definition anything in a dumpster is waste and therefore not needed and abandoned by the owner. So you can recover anything from the trash that you want.

The problem is the location of the dumpster. If the dumpster is on private property then you can't access it without trespassing.[answers.com]

It would of course be perfectly reasonable for an occupant of the building to access a dumpster that is provided by a building for the express use by its business tenants.

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