Searching the Haight for Signs of Life

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Slight Change of Course, Outlook Still Warm and Sunny

It looks likes I will be couch-surfing for the remainder of this month at friend Kevin's abode. With his lease ending at the end of September, and Dan looking for a move to the city, we are going to find ourselves a cozy 3-bedroom apartment. So the Craigslist quest continues, but with a different bent. Hopefully, as September wears on, the pickings will become fuller with students settling on housing and leaving leasers looking to get leasees in a hurry.

Tonight I have to find an interesting place in the Mission District to meet someone I met on Craigslist, and in the meantime work on an assignment I got from E/S in Pittsburgh. Next week, the SureLogic work will begin with vigor, and I have to think about better arrangements besides Kevin's couch.

For tonight's adventure, I'm thinking taqueria, lively coffehouse, or a bar that's not too terribly loud. Cass suggests for help with deciding.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Craigslist and Me

I have spent most of my waking hours in San Francisco scouring the pages of Craigslist for appropriate housing, and it's a competitive jungle out there, full of strangers, strange situations, and odd accomodations.

It will be a nice place to call home if I can ever break into the city proper. Sooner better than later too, since my company finally got its funding and I need a desk at which to work.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Soaking Eggplant

Soaking eggplant... ripped from the pages of The Darn News:

Here it is. To make good eggplant, you should soak it (sliced up) in salt water for at least a couple of hours. I usually soak it over night. My cooking mentor Claudio Masci likes to soak it, coat it with flour, dip it in eggs, and then fry it in vegetable oil. Then he'll smother 3-4 stacked slices in sauce, put some provolone on top, pop it in the oven, and voila!

Soaking eggplant in saltwater makes it more tender and less bitter.

Witness the Birth of Arlo Asa Silverman

Congratulations to Brian and Phyllis, who just had this beautiful baby Arlo. See you in L.A.!

7 lbs. 3.5 oz., 19 inches.

Look at my cute sleeping face. Look at it.

Baby Arlo and mama.

Arlo, "ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The White Group Escapes

Here is the final position of a go game I played with my buddy Mike the weekend I was moving out of my Pittsburgh apartment. He ended up winning by about 10 points because I screwed up and let a big group of dead white stones escape in the end game.

Thanks for sending me the pictures of the game Beth!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Does Washing Your Car Improve Mileage?

Here's an interesting discussion on this question based on a claim that regularly washing your car could save you 7% on gas mileage. The discussion is much better than the blog post, and one comment hit it right on the head with, "How dirty is your car?" I tend to believe that your car would need much muck caked on before you saw even a 1% difference.

I would be happier if the Internet were less anonymous and we could see the physics credentials on the spreadsheet guy and everyone else who makes a deductive claim. Dan and I were discussing the direction of the Internet in terms of its quasi-anonymous nature just last night. This discussion could really shed light on the question if we knew who to believe.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Home at Last, But Not Home-Free

My travel plans went slightly awry, and here I am in Santa Cruz at Dan's early. So I am essentially home, but have no permanent place to live as of yet. Home, but not home-free.

Since I got in this morning, just as Dan was heading out to work, I have showered and tooled around on the computer, staying awake so I can get a good night's sleep tonight and be on the same normal human being schedule as my friends here.

Now, the only thing left to do is to try and find an apartment before Arlo Silverman's bris in eight short days. Brian told me Phyllis delivered a beautiful baby boy last night, complete with all fingers and toes and other necessary apparatus.

Back to the jungle of Craigslist for me now and a few more hours of wakefullness. No telling what you will find on that thing. At least some things in the housing department are obvious no goes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Food Psychology

Here's an interesting tidbit from an article I found on Fark. I'm curious as to how much these factors weigh in comparison to other deciders of food liking:

"We know, thanks to recent findings, that people drink more than a third more fruit juice when they pour it into a short, wide glass instead of a narrow, tall one, and that people will eat more of a product if it comes in a bigger package. We know that people will report that a breakfast bar tastes worse if the packaging describes it as containing soy, even if it contains no soy, and that Black Forest Double-Chocolate Cake tastes better than Chocolate Cake, even when the cakes themselves are identical. Above all, we know that just because people say they want to eat more healthily, it doesn't mean they really do."

Read down a good bit to read about how to fatten people up just by providing a bigger spoon through the wizardry of "unit bias."

Almost to Paradise

I have gone now 3,000 of my 4,000 miles of travel, arriving after nearly the entire length of I-10 at my cousin's palatial estate in Tucson, AZ. I bet it's always beautiful here, but heavy rains have turned it recently into a green summer paradise smelling of fresh sagebrush.

I think ranch house may be the way to go after seeing my cousin Ben's here, and my friend Russell's house back in Pittsburgh. I love the kitchen most, which wends its way around a centerpiece stove with plenty of counterspace and utility on all sides. Pool, stone floors, and a big friendly lion of a golden retriever... what more could you want out of an abode? Plus, you can tuck the kids, or the recording studio, into one wing for maximum harmony.

Next stop is San Diego to see Brad's sister, then up to Elsinore Lake to visit Jeannie, and then on to Brian and Phyllis's house in Los Angeles, before arriving into San Francisco about Friday. Though, with Bri and Phyllis's baby due the 27th, this trip could go haywire, and I also need to find a fishing hole and make use of the gear I just got (thanks mom!).

Favorite Albums of the Trip:
The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairtytales
Jim Croce - Photographs and Memories
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Led Zeppelin - Box Set
Neil Young - Harvest

Favorite Songs:
"New York's Not My Home" - Jim Croce
"Unknown Legend" - Neil Young

Most Skipped Music:
Rakhmaninov's Liturgies (wtf?)
Tom Waits (oops)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Halfway Home

I am now sitting in my hometown of Houston, recharging after the first 2,000 miles of my journey. Tomorrow, I leave for Tucson to see some family members and make that last charge across the desert to paradise. My stay here has been pleasant, but I am antsy to get to San Francisco, find an apartment, and go to work.

On Wednesday, I chose to gamble a little bit and turned down a position with Grey Advertising to instead work with a new start-up based in Pittsburgh. While we are 99% sure the funding is coming through, there is still the odd chance that I threw away a good position for nothing. So the last half of this trip will be tainted by a nagging worry, but I'm confident nonetheless.

It has been nice to reconnect with all the Pittsburgh expatriates as I go. It seems that they are all getting married, and I will be going to three wedings in the next year or so.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lyrics, Before I Lose Them

Now the time has come for leavin'
Only time left to pack our bags.
See you soon and travel well
Life is strange and you never can tell
And I always got my dreams.

The Right Search

My (soon-to-be-ex) boss asked me this morning to find a statistic on average advertising expenditure as a percentage of revenues. She had quoted 3% to a client, a figure she has used somewhat religiously for many years, and he asked for a bit of supporting evidence.

I toiled mightily on Google and various media Websites. I searched for _advertising expenditure services industry_ and _advertising expenditure statistics_ and all sorts of variations with quotes and synonyms. I banged away at Google for an hour, but couldn't come up with a nice concise conclusion. I dredged up statistics on revenues by industry and cross-referenced them with statistics from Ad Age on expenditure. I tried to be narrow and I tried to be broad. Everything seemed contradictory, particularly when you delve into the debate of whether you should calculate your ads as a percentage of revenue.

But Eureeka! I wasn't looking for a statistic, I was looking for a rule of thumb. And when I asked Google for an _advertising budget rule of thumb_ my boss was very happy with the answer I found on a nice, credible .gov site.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Cellular Age

What did we do before we were blessed (cursed) with the cell phone? Those little chirping beasties that permeate everything we do and how we do it. They connect us in real-time. They make it a hell of a lot easier to find friends for a rendezvous in the middle of a debauched Saturday night. They interrupt movies and classes with their shrill incessant whines, but hopefully it’s the emergency room doctor getting the call at least some of the time.

They are also kind of a social pulse. You can feel your own social pulse through your cell phone. Who’s calling you? Do they want a favor or just to chat? Does it go off over and over on your birthday? Are people always calling you because they need you at work? You can feel the ebb and tide of your relationships in buzzing and beeping. A name will appear constantly for months, calling you all the time, and then nothing. Sometimes a relationship ends, and at least for me, my cell phone list gets a little shorter.

And if you can pay close attention, if you really want to be neurotic about it and sort through the mess of the cell phone social network, then you can start paying attention to the calls that your friends accept and decline. You can tell who’s on the outs with who, who fits where into everyone’s ladder of friends, who’s popular, and who’s not. And it’s just about enough to drive the world crazy.

There are many unintended consequences of the cellular revolution. Sure, it makes it easier to pick someone up at the airport, or to call the sys admin when the network goes down. But conversely, perhaps, cell phones ruin our accountability and feed into the instant gratification complex that plagues the modern world. If you’re going to be late… why hurry? Just call ahead, and they can keep busy until you get there. And you don’t have to bother paying the sys admin to be on call. Just another annoyance to ride their belt. It’ll never come up until it does.

The last time I lost my cell phone, I realized exactly how much I depend on it. So it goes.