Wow, am I out of shape – Mountain Biking

On moving back to the San Jose area, I started fantasizing about getting back into mountain biking. When we moved to south San Jose, close to Santa Teresa Park, the urge grew.

My last mountain bike was a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp M2. I think I bought it in 1997, when I lived here before. A really nice bike when I bought, I rode the hell out of it, all over the bay area. Unfortunately, living in Arizona, I got out of the habit. Not that there wasn’t great riding, but I just didn’t get with it there.

When we moved from Tucson to Chandler, I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike in a few years, so it was sold at our moving sale. In Chandler, I got back into road riding, racking up lots of miles on my Lemond Buenos Aires.

I ended up buying a new bike. A Specialized “Crave” Expert model. A hardtail, 29’er bike. Not top of the line, but a high quality ride nonetheless.

Today I took it for a first ride. Santa Teresa park. The climb up Bernal road was brutal, but getting to the top, and veering onto the trails was bliss. The reflexes, and the skills are still there, a little dormant, but they come back.

I am embarrassed with how many times I had to stop to rest. I will get back into shape, but, it is going to be brutal.

A future post will give a review of the bike.


Apartment Living – irresponsible dog owners

We are lucky to have found an apartment complex that welcomes our greyhounds. Especially after a brief survey of the houses (that rent for more than $1200 a month more) are mostly no pets, or cats only, this is quite a find. However, I wish that all the dog owners here would just clean up after their dogs.

Part of the problem I believe is that until recently, they had a 25# limit on dogs. That means that there are lots of small dogs. Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Boston Terriers are common. These diminutive canines produce stools that are roughly the size of Tootsie Rolls, so their owners probably think that is “too small” to have to pick up. Sigh.

Alas, walking on any of the grassy areas is navigating a minefield of little poop-bombs.

Convenient receptacles for pet waste with baggies

Convenient receptacles for pet waste with baggies

It is not like there aren’t trash cans all over with “poopie” bag dispensers. I count 4 of them, all conveniently located near the large grassy areas.

Or, there are three parking lots with multiple trash dumpsters. Yes, that means you need to carry your own bags. We do. Having larger dogs (Greyhounds), we appreciate the heavier duty “Mutt Mitts“, as they are better suited for the larger stools.

Of course, the rules are clear that you must clean up after your animals. But that is about as effective as the “No Smoking” signs in the common areas.

Heavy sigh.


Apartment Living – Now the party house is a car repair…

More on the trials and tribulations of living in an apartment, this time, the house across the street has stepped up their game beyond the 4 nights a week of parties. Now they are doing auto repair.

Yep, auto repair. Changing oil, replacing starters, installing LOUD stereo systems, and fart cans on cheap Japanese econoboxes.

It is a joy, especially since they start at about 6 PM. Nothing like unmuffled motorcycles buzzing up and down the street. I think I prefer the parties, the fights, and the police activity.

Then last week, an honest to god street race on Sunday night. About 8:00 PM two cars pull up, a chase car behind them, and redline clutch drop. Sigh.

I hope we can one day afford to buy a house.


Spam – The SEO Expert

More in the Spam files. This time, we have a jackass trying to tell me how to better do SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Of course, the best suggestion is to hire them to help me.

Oh boy.  I get 2-3 of these a week across my wordpress sites. I really don’t do this for money, fame or notoriety. I do a little SEO, but in general, I don’t give a damn.  I write to scratch an itch.

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at.

Yeah, I am gonna call you right up (roll eyes)

Persistence Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

Spam – Persistence…

More in the series on comment spam. Some people keep at it, against all odds. Meet “Vivienne Westwood Dragon Lady Shoes”.  She seems to think that aficionados of Greyhounds (and my “GreytBros blog) would want to buy some shitty knock off shoes (that are often made with PVC instead of leather).

From the dashboard of the Greyt Bro's blog.

From the dashboard of the Greyt Bro’s blog.

Persistence pays off, so says everybody. Particularly if you are in the comment spam game. It is a business model that requires a lot of impressions, so the perpetrators cast their net far and wide.

Obviously, enough people will click on and buy this crap so it must work. But that doesn’t mean that I will perpetuate it. So, I will delete and report as spam all these comments. Vivienne needs to phish elsewhere.


Spam – the Suck Up

Spam filters like Akismet do a phenomenal job of keeping the trash at bay (if you ever want to see how bad it can get, create a web forum, make it open access, without moderation, and watch the spam fill your hard disk). However, one type of message is very likely to fill the filter. It is – The Suck Up

Short, it is highly congratulatory. It praises the content (yet never anything specific, just generic), and how they will be sure to read more from you in the future.

It can also mention the awesome style, and quality of your writing. Hey, I know I am a talentless hack, so that is totally bullshit, but it does fool the filters. On to this edition of comment spam:

constantly i used to read smaller posts which as well
clear their motive, and that is also happening with
this article which I am reading now.

Note that this has hard line breaks into smaller lines. I suspect that indicates to the filter that this is written by a breathing human.  Sigh, so easy to fool.

As with all spam, this user points their “web page” to an online store. Cleverly disguised as a spearphishing link to a faux Youtube channel.  Sigh.  Delete, and add to the Akismet learning set.


Spam – The Mulberry Outlet

So begins a series of the comment spam I receive on my wordpress sites. Yes, I use the Akismet plugin (and have since 2009) to keep the spam comments at bay, and it does a phenomenal job, blocking literally thousands of spammy comments. But lately, there have been a steady stream of comment spam that sneaks by. This series of posts will highlight some of the insightful verbiage to get by the bayesian filters.

Today’s contestant is someone selling (presumably knock off) Mulbury goods. He crafted a message to circumvent the filters, and here it is in all it’s glory:

Or mulberry outlet do not need to understand, because they do not the same people of the world. Day policy camp has appeared in sight, mercenary embattled, without the slightest malaise is not following simple defense staggered during the District number baizhang the distance, I do not know the surprise trip, or a death march. Without wasting mulberry outlet to this was. The “Amherst Act finally spoke, the first sentence is to praise the enemy. Three hundred eligible thieves on horseback, see mercenary can only rear junction array to be only one person alone in front, and his heart laughed, single-handedly to resist the 300 horses in the open heaven’s I was just kidding!.

Of course, it might be a social media expert from the Mulberry company, but I highly doubt it.

Of course, the goal was to get the poster’s IP address and website in the comments, to lure unsuspecting rubes to click on his link to a knockoff shop.  But instead, I put a link to the real Mulberry site.  How is that?


Apartment Living – Friday Night Sights and Sounds

Friday night is party night, right? (Well, if you are the asshats in the duplex across the street, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are party nights, but I digress …) Ah yes, the outdoor activities are up.

Kids are playing Soccer out front of our door. Cool, except they keep kicking it into the wall and our door. Fortunately there are no windows to break within reach.

The teenagers are coalescing around the play ground. Not sure if they are going to neck, smoke dope, or leave used condoms around. Probably all three. (yes, there are often used condoms lying around. Ewww)

As I mentioned in the leader, the duplex directly across the street is beginning their “party”. About 9:00 AM, they will move cars out, and then the driveway becomes an impromptu dance floor. If we are lucky, it will break up around 1:00 AM without any verbal shouting. But, I am not feeling very lucky.

I sit here at my computer, listening to some Return to Forever, something magic about Chick Corea and Al Di Meola… Makes it all better.

Update: Yep, at midnight, there was police activity. Some loud arguing at the side of the street (about a bad parallel parking job?) prompted someone to call the po po.  My friday night was complete.


Getting Old – the Signs are Everywhere

There are plenty of symptoms and signs that you are getting old. And I am not talking about the harassment by AARP for you to join.

Sign 1 – You have a pill box to organize your daily medication. Often this starts as one, but soon becomes two as you will have morning and night medications. Statins, Ace Inhibitors, Beta Blockers, aspirin, anti coagulants. Yep you are getting old when you are on a first name basis with your pharmacist (and I am not talking weed)

Sign 2 – You give up your motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license. I have had that endorsement since I was 16 and got my license. I carried it with me to Arizona. But coming back to California, I let it drop. This is acknowledging I will never ride a motorcycle again. Sad day indeed.

My Atheism – 4, What a Waste

The next episode in my experience with organized religion and why I am grateful to have been a life long atheist, is from my time in College. Not well known is the fact that I worked my way through college in restaurants. There I met a mormon woman, I will call Cheryl (not her real name).

Cheryl was in high school, and knowing that I was studying physics and math, she asked for some help with her schoolwork. She was a junior and was taking AP calculus, so without a doubt she had aptitude.

After these mentoring sessions (really, it wasn’t tutoring, she just needed some blocks to her thinking removed), we became friends. As friends do, we shared stories about ourselves, mostly just topical themes (completely platonic.)

As with many religious people, she was completely molded by her religion, chosen for her by her parents and enforced by her familial ties. I had known she was a “Mormon”, but at that time I really didn’t know what that meant, other than that it was  some form of Christian.

As time went on and I was helping her more with her math and science topics, I asked about where she was going to go to college, and then I was floored with her response. She wasn’t going to college. She had a husband arranged for her, and he was on his “Mission” in some place of the world. When he returned they would be married, and she would be the homemaker, raising their kids, and doing her part.

Wow. Here was a very bright, gifted young woman, who because of the religious indoctrination of her family would be trapped at home to care for a gaggle of kids. And she seemed to be satisfied that was her place in life. At the age of 17.

Not to denigrate the role of homemaker, and stay at home mom, but to have that decision made (for you) before you finish high school seems really whack to me.

Years later, when I was learning about contemporary religions, I learned about the story of Joseph Smith, and the genesis of the Mormon church. 100% quackery and bullpuckey. Thanks to the boys of South Park who did a quite factual episode describing their beliefs and origins (and not making fun of their special undergarments).

I was quickly learning that there was little positive about the blind following of a religious sect. And up to this point I had only experience with “christian” denominations.