The HOV Experiment has Failed

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment in Mountain View, so I had a pleasant 70 minute crawl north on 85 to El Camino Real. I had plenty of time to observe the HOV lane.

The HOV lane was a noble idea. Incentivize people to carpool, making a dedicated lane for vehicles with 2 or more passengers. A fast lane so to speak during the commute hours.

Of course, here in California, they have expanded the lane to allow first Hybrid cars. Then zero emission vehicles, and then super low emission vehicles.

Enough loopholes that the lane is now about 9:1 solo occupants. You can bet that many of them are hipster douches.



House – Almost Ready!

As the sojourn of our house comes to a chaotic close, we are almost ready for the heavy lifting of the move. A good time to reflect on the travails to date.

When we started, the house was ridden hard, and put away wet. The interior had some surface warts, including an odd paint scheme in the rooms that look somewhat haphazard, popcorn ceilings that were the rage in the 1970’s, a yard that was overgrown, and unkempt (totally understandable, as I am loathe to do yard work personally), and appliances straight out of the pleistocene.

However, even with this veneer of tired and well worn exteriors, clutter in the yard, and in need of some TLC, we saw a diamond in the rough. The inspection report supplied by the selling agent wasn’t too scary, and our own inspection concurred. This is a house with good, solid bones.

The journey began with a successful offer to buy, a whirlwind of navigating the loan and closing, and finally, transfer of title.

House Journal – Comcast buggery

As we are preparing to move into our new house, after all the work and changes we wanted, it is time to begin the migration of things like utilities.

Monday, I called Comcast, our cable provider, and got a cheery person who assisted me. I explained that we were moving next week, and that we wanted to move our service, and to add a landline phone (at the Wife’s request).

No problem, and in fact two days later they had an install appointment, and could just get it all set up on Wednesday. I asked twice that this wouldn’t be an issue with our current service, as we would be in the apartment through the weekend, and until we moved. I was assured that this was fine.

Wednesday morning, and the technician is on time, efficient and gets it all set up, even activating our internet. Cool.

Or so I thought.

Apparently, when he activated out internet, he queued up our service in the apartment (about a mile away) to be shut down. So while the Tivo and the cable cards still worked, the cable modem there went dark.

I got home from work on Wednesday about 7:00PM, and of course the Wife was a bit peeved. I called Comcast support, and the technician was polite, but after an hour of diagnosing, it was determined that the account was put in the shutdown queue.

I was bounced to the “move” department, and the chipper technician there told me that he saw the note ont he account, and that it was in process of being deactivated, but since it was after 6:00PM, he was unable to fix it. He advised me to call in the morning.

I called. Apparently, to get service back in the apartment, I would have to order new service, and pay for a technician visit.

Fuck that for one week.

I politely declined to be put through to sales.

However, I did get the bright idea of taking the now functioning modem from the house and bringing it to the apartment. Voila, internet access.

Lesson learnt: If Comcast can screw up, they will, and you will have no recourse.


Apartment Life – tagging

As we prepare to end our time in the apartments, I was looking for an icon of the life here. I have complained about the safety, the cleanliness, and even the character of the neighborhood. However …

Anything standing still will be tagged

Anything standing still will be tagged

One picture wraps it up well. Here we have a piece of furniture that was dumped near the trash station over the weekend, a sign of a vacate and bail on the lease event. On Monday morning, as I was headed work, I noticed that in the 8 or so hours that this piece of furniture (a couch / sleeper it appears) was tagged by a grafitti artist.

Yep, some düsh shook a can of illicit spray paint, and fucking tagged this discarded furniture.

Typical for the neighborhood, anything standing still gets tagged by one of the street gangs.

I feel like Rutger Hauer at the end of Blade Runner, time to leave…

Passing of the torch – EA Sports Pro Tour

I have an Xbox 360, I play only two games with any regularity, Forza Motorsports, and the Tiger Woods Golf franchise (actually, I play that with my wife, and we enjoy it).

I haven’t kept up with the franchise lately, because the 2012 edition was pretty good, and we really didn’t feel the need to shell out money for the latest version.

Tonight, I got an email announcing the next one. However, it does appear that Tiger Woods’ douchiness has finally caught up to him, as he is no longer the standard bearer of the game.

Welcome to Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour.


Usher in the next generation of golf with the power of the Frostbite engine and play the most beautiful sports game to date with no load times, enabling you to explore authentic tournament courses or unique fantasy environments.

I guess banging family restaurant hostesses, and crippling back pain have finally caught up to ol’ Tiger Woods’ marketability.


The water pipe

House Journal – Plumbing Fun

Buying a house that is well into middle age is always a challenge. Appliances are old, electrics are often ancient, and not up to current code, and of course there is plumbing from the dark ages.

Not that in the mid 1960’s was bad for plumbing, but back then a lot of sketchy piping was imported from a rapidly industrializing Taiwan, and the early plastic piping and junctions often had polypropylene blended with paper (why?).

We of course had some that we knew about from the inspection. The main drain pipe under the house was at the end of its serviceable life (the Taiwan steel), and the sewer junction between the bathrooms was the polypropylene/paper junctions. Plus some small things (like plumbing the kitchen for gas). Total bid was $2100.

Of course, adding a cleanout to the main sewer line near the house allowed us to inspect the main 4″ sewer connection, and of course that was not good. After nearly 50 years, there was encroachment of tree roots into the main sewer line, that we should clean/replace, as well as adding a cleanout at the property line to the city for future maintenance issues.

The neighbor has had the Rotorooter people out a couple times to snake the main line, so we know that it is endemic to the neighborhood.

Add to that a failing water valve at the street, and crappy old steel piping of the main water to the house, which we should replace as well, and we added 3 days and $3750 to the total.


We have the money, and it is good to do it before we move in (imagine living without sewer or water for 3 days in the future), but it is an unexpected expense. What can you do?

Of course, none of this is in the disclosures, and even if they were, we would be stuck anyway.

Suck it up cupcake, and get it done.

Saying goodbye to a friend – Braun Oral B 3D

In 2003, shortly after moving to Tucson, we got a pair of Oral B 3D electric toothbrushes. I was hesitant of this new fangled technology, but since we had them I used it. Then a strange thing happened …

The Braun Oral B 3D

The Braun Oral B 3D

I liked it. At first it had just the standard brush heads, the round ones. As time went on, there were other heads, ones that wiggled, rotated, gyrated, and the like Some had rubber gum massagers. But the standard round heads were the best.

It had two speeds, fast and slow. But I always just used the faster speed.

It had a timer. Yes, you’re supposed to brush for two minutes. Using a regular brush, and your time instincts are way optimistic. So using a toothbrush with a timer is a great thing.

Fast forward to today.

After 12 years, its battery is about dead (recharging it 2 – 3 times a week), and it is getting weak. Time to replace it.

Of course, the new dentist I selected in San Jose recommended the Phillips Sonicare. So I ordered one up.

The Phillips Sonicare

The Phillips Sonicare

Instead of the mechanical rotating brush of the Braun, it is a piezo ultrasonic system.

Some observations:

  • The best way to use it is to put a small amount of toothpaste on the bristles, and to keep it almost stationary at the gum line. Not scrub or move the brush in an exaggerated manner.
  • It has a built in “quadrant timer” that gently alerts you to move from quadrant to quadrant. Nice touch, as you often get distracted and don’t move.
  • Less “foaming” of the toothpaste. One of the drawbacks of the Braun unit was the rotating head, it would churn the toothpaste, and it would drip down the brush onto your hand, and make a mess of the counter. The Sonicare id much less like this. There is not a hollow core to the brush part, and thus no tendency for the spit/paste slurry to migrate.
  • Cleaning the brush head. As there are no moving parts, and no hollow tube to capture the spit/paste slurry. Thus cleaning the brush head is trivial, and like regular toothbrushes.

I haven’t had it long enough to figure out whether the brush heads last a long time, but the recommendation is to swap them at 3 months, about the same as the Braun.

One note: Several years ago, the patent on the Oral B 3D brushes expired, and there became available generic brush heads. One would think that would be awesome, but they sucked so bad, I only bought one package of 3, and only used one of them before switching back to the branded ones. Not worth the cost savings…

It is different, but so far I like it. I wonder if it will last 12 years like the Braun.

Apartment Living – You can’t make this shit up

This is a grab bag, but all things that really happened in our apartment complex.

  1. One day, pulling into the parking lot, a lady was standing in the middle of the driveway. Naturally, we stopped to avoid hitting her, but she just stood there. Apparently, she dropped a bag of McDonalds yum-yums, and was yelling at her friend to come pick it up. Instead of picking it up, she kicked it to the side instead of inconveniencing herself to bend down to pick it up.
  2. Apparently, if you have a motorcycle, you can park it in the walkway. No really, it is cool to just leave it in the middle of the complex.
  3. The rules are crystal clear, you are not to wash your car or do any maintenance on it. Of course, this is the most broken rule out there. The neighbor did a full on detail of their POS Chevy crossover SUV. Of course they left it where the damn birds roost, so it looked like the avian navy used it for gunnery practice about 8 minutes after the dude was finished waxing it.
  4. Walking the dogs in the morning is interesting. One douchenozzle just lets his two chihuahua’s out to roam, piss and shit. He literally opens the door, lets them out, and the closes the door. It bothers me enough that he doesn’t pick up their stools, but far worse is having the pair of these yappers barking at my greyhounds.
  5. Hey, I get it, life is depressing here, especially if this is as good as it gets. I think I would go insane if I knew I wasn’t going to be able to escape. But some people escape with heavy pot smoking. One unit, across the walkway from the main office (like 15 feet), has someone who bakes at 6:00AM. Walking the boys through a huge cloud of pot smoke is enjoyable.
  6. The recycling dumpster, you know, the one that says NOT FOR TRASH. Yeah, that one. You really can just toss trash in it. Nobody cares. So they get filled with sacks of trash. I guess I shouldn’t complain, because …
  7. … the trash dumpsters are so far away, that it is cool to just leave your trash bags in the walkways. Really, nobody minds the decaying food waste, the used diapers, the mountains of moldy cigarette butts that will fall ont he ground when the plastic breaks. Or a dog opens it up. Oh yeah …
  8. … it is totally cool to let your dog walk off lead. Everybody does it, so what the hell. Especially since they lifted the 25# limit on dogs here, but there some breed restrictions, that means no …
  9. … Pit Bulls. Yeah, they really didn’t mean that in the lease, so it is cool to just move them in after you move in. Nobody can tell that it is a Pit Bull. It is also totally okay that it lunges at every other dog in the complex, and you are barely able hold onto the leash. (note, I know a lot of pit bulls, and pit mixes who are the sweetest, most lovable dogs. These are not those dogs. These owners need their heads examined.)

Yeah, it is good to be preparing to move.

House Painting – DONE

For the first time EVER, we have had the time (and enough, barely, money) to spruce up a house before we move in. We have a long list of things to accomplish, first and foremost was the interior painting.

Our Real Estate agent recommended a painter and a color consultant that he had used often. I was a bit hesitant on the color consultant, but if it meant peace in the family, then so be it.

colors-10Our colors were a grey/olive color for the kitchen that worked well for the cream colored cabinetry, switching to a lighter shade in the living rooms, and a yet lighter shade for the hallway. A dark grey paint on the bricks on the fireplace, and a white cream/off white for the trim and the ceiling.

colors-9It looks great.




For the bedrooms, there are four.

colors-8Barbara’s Office – a red called “Cinnabar” that looks fantastic. She currently has white shutters, and the contrast looks great.




colors-4My Office – as I am a fan of purple, I ended up with a dark burgundy. It is called “Bewitched”, and it came out dark and perfect. I am visualizing wall mounts for my guitars.



colors-3Master Bedroom – we went for a deep green, called “Fair Isle Blue”. We wanted something that was fun, and yet dark enough to allow for good sleeping in (not for me, for Barbara who will sleep all day if she could.


colors-1Guest Bedroom – We have a 4th, “guest” bedroom, that will be a post seizure resting area with Tate, It was panted a lighter blue, “Cornflower”, and it also came out spectacular.



The house looks great. Now we have plumbers, electricians, and handymen to come and work on the rest. New appliances will be installed late next week (they are deserving of a post by themselves), and on 3/25, the west fence will be replaced. The other fence will be replaced when the permit for removing our neighbor’s monster tree is approved.


Getting Old – The Gout

I have been struggling with whether to mention it or not. Last week, starting on Tuesday, my left foot began to hurt. By the weekend, it was agonizing.

I thought it was a torn ligament or something, possibly even a plantar fasciitis flare up. A couple of years ago, I had something similar in Chandler, and the podiatrist gave me some super Aleve. I figured this was the same thing.

How wrong I was.

Monday, I begged and wheedled to get an appointment with the on call Podiatrist. At 4:00 they were able to give me a time slot.

The left large toe was super sensitive, about as much pain as plantar fasciitis, and it was swollen. 3 vitamin I’s (ibuprofen, 200mg) would take the edge off the pain, but not really relieve it.

It took about 10 seconds for the initial diagnosis. Gout. In the left great toe.

To get a definitive diagnosis, he aspirated the fluid in the joint, looking for uric acid crystals. Also, I had a blood test to check uric acid levels in my blood, and to check for kidney function.

Results: Crystals visible in the fluid in the joint, uric acid was high, but my kidneys were working OK.

Being that I eat beef or red meat once a month, and can’t eat shellfish due to an allergy, it is most likely a genetic predisposition. Lovely.

Industrial strength anti inflammatory drugs, and a special regimen to use if I get a twinge in the future has helped. I also got an injection of cortisone into the joint.

The next day I was much better, although the injection site was sore. Add my anti coagulants, and I have a nice bruise, but I am able to wear shoes, and walking is pain free.

I feel old, having the Gout.