Mikes Thoughts

News, Views, Subterfuge

Page 2 of 4

Life, lemons, juice, android!

Well, in my never-ending attempt at finding completely bogus blogpost titles, I thought I would sum up some stuff, offer some other things, and perhaps conclude with yet another group of things.

In my sphere and circles, the things that weigh a lot are Linux and Android. Its no accident of life that adb and fastboot work the best on Linux. No messy device drivers with linux. In fact, I think that USB devices just work that much better on Linux than they ever did on Windows. My flash drives, bigger USB drives, camera all just work on Linux. On Windows they require mumbling incantations, waving MSI files around, rebooting, swearing, fighting, getting madder. Windows is just not meant for the work of adding Android devices. Its like a messy after thought.

In the game of life, you have choices to make and sometimes the choice impact things later on. You can believe that life is all random and nothing really has an impact on a thing that is going to happen; but I believe that for the better or worse the choices you make will come back to you. I think sometimes even the best things you do come back with the worst consequences and it works the other way too. Perhaps when you are making juice from the lemons of your life you should remember that nothing is for certain. But its a sure bet that the pendulum force of life will swing back and I think it has a ruthless memory.

I was out walking the other day considering. Thinking about how life and lemons may interact. The sun was setting on this walk of mine. I had been out an hour and ten minutes and was heading home. It dawned on me then that my walks were gradually getting longer. Where before I would do about an hour and wanted about 7000 steps now I do an hour and change and really want 8000+ steps. This is goodness I think because even at my old age, walking has a positive benefit. I get better at it!

I started thinking of an article to write about how to experience cities using pedestrian tourism. What cities I have been to which lend themselves to that type of visiting. I came up with some prereqs for the walking that you can easily find out by looking at city websites, google maps, or whatever:

Sidewalks – well, this is a duh thing but many cities really do not have good sidewalk systems. I’ve found that my best walks start with having an access system which covers the city and allows the tourist to travel with ease. As an example, in Tokyo, the city seems really made for walking. Sidewalks, city signs in english, and the final exhausted subway sign with a noodle place that servers beer is heavily recommended.

Light Controls – I think many cities are dangerous and pedestrian tourism should not be done. As a positive example, the city of Eugene, Oregon has some of the best light controls and really gives you a chance to cross. How many times you seen the walk light in green turn to a don’t walk after about 5 seconds? What’s up with that? Another city that has this beat is Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto really has the walking thing done. You can tour the city with a map, camera, android tablet with google maps stuck on it in style and comfort. I still got exhausted but the streets did not scare me. Lights were well done and you could see the traffic easily.

Accessibility – Its nice to have the big cultural, historic, and social places accessible. One should be able reach them by walking first and foremost.  The city of Sydney, Australia has this really well done. Walking the Sydney Harbor Bridge with its walk path really lets one do the distance in comfort. Remember to allow time to visit The Rocks and eat, drink and be merry. Its all about accessibility! The other part of accessibility is access to mass transit and understanding it. The city-state of Singapore and Tokyo Japan win here. Never have I been to places where access to mass transit is so easy. Of course, most things are easy in Singapore. Most everyone speaks English so access to help is just right there!

Cost – The final point is what it costs. If the cost is too high because of any of a myriad of factors its not worth it. Its not much fun to walk a place and be scared of your every turn or not have the places to walk. The cost goes way up.

My next walking endeavor comes in September. From September 1st to the 7th, I walk Seattle and take a day tour to Victoria. The day tour is via a ferry that will take three hours to get there on a Saturday morning. The next day I come back to work, the house, the new family.

So, there are my life, lemons, juice and a dash of the Droid. Android really is an atom smasher of a thing. I want it disruptive, making inroads to new devices that I may never buy. I want the Nexus program to widen and the Android Silver program to wither away


The Point of the Tip

A projectile point can be a thing of beauty when seen. I love the materials often used to build these things. Consider these two as samples.


The obsidian point is a thing of beauty I believe. Carefully crafted.

See how the technologist structured the flakes taken off. While its a thing of beauty, this obsidian point is deadly as well. Ever touched obsidian or wonder at its make-up? Its actually silica or otherwise called glass. Sharp as glass and sometimes as fragile if the technologist/artist wrongly works.

chertNow consider the chert projectile point. A completely different base material. The chert stands out in its tough makeup but the beauty here is that chert comes in so many different wonderful colors. The material is also known as crypto-crystalline silicate and the names are wonderful. I love the rock names like Chalcedony, Jasper. The coloring is almost hypnotic in nature. See how the pinks, blues, and almost greens bounce around in your vision? Truly something of beauty yet lethal.

The artistry and technology of these things has always interested me. It seems that the art and style and technique were valued enculturation items taken from father to son in a odyssey of style and approach. Perhaps though as the new generation got the design elements, changes were made. There was evolution of style and approach. Nothing stays static in technology and science as we know. To remain static is to lose relevancy.

The art of building stone tools evolved as we all know. It started here, went there, evolved, changed, became different when the need was or perhaps as an innovation not based on extreme need. Who really knows since the ideas can never be excavated along with the rock material. We can only build our surmises and theories and approaches based on what we see. The archeological record is incomplete. Like a rather famous southwestern archeologist once told me,

ideas and thoughts are the hardest to excavate

Yes indeed! The mentors I found or that found me on my journey way back when filled my head with wonder at the shapes of the tools above; but never stopped there. They also told me perhaps what the ideas and thoughts were as the person built the tool. Maybe its more like the tool building the person though. The tool evolves, the person evolves, the need evolves, the society evolves in some kind of cosmic dance.

The art of simply building a hearth or cooking pit I believe was always more than just the rocks burned up and the dead bunny bones we would find. I have thought the ideas and thoughts we could not excavate pointed at a rich social and oral tradition where the pit was the social media, the Google Plus of the time. We have circles on Google Plus and the hearths were in circles. No coincidence there? I believe that these things were more than just fires built to keep warm. They were socialization institutions where families gathered and poured over their lore, told the young ones the stories of the day and the past day. Perhaps those flintknappers gathered then and taught their young the art and style. But they also knew that the young would enrich the style and bring a new element.

Question for Today

How many things do you innovate do you think? Do you touch things and build your own mental projectile points to thrust at the prey? Perhaps that prey is work. Maybe life. Maybe conditions you find yourself in. I believe if you apply the old, tired methods you will not build things of value. Just like trying to teach someone a set of morals and guidance from some old book if you know what I mean. That old book had a set of morals and codes maybe good for the day. We have evolved since then. Has the book? It still seems to teach the same ole, same ole to me.

If religion is to be the point of the tip, where is the evolution that it dances around to stay relevant? If our lives are to be relevant, where are our evolutions? As the anthropologist once said,

there is nothing so constant as change

Are you under the wheel of the change or driving it? I admit to not being a vehicle of change but being the victim of others that conducted the change. Perhaps without my knowledge or approbation. But hey… When you consider how it all works you may not be the headmaster of your own change. Time to still adapt and adopt and build your projectile points.

I’m Tired of Things

Every so often I reach the plateau of being tired. I’m tired at this point of doing what I’m doing, being what I’m being. I reach a point of hating the job as well. I don’t like inheriting stuff that’s messed up. I am really looking forward to the weekend. I may just leave and find another place to be fed up.

I’m tired of living here. I’m tired of this town, this city, this state, this country.

Great way to welcome a weekend but this blog is Mikes Thoughts and that’s what I’m thinking about.

I always think there is a bright side to a thing and I can transcend and reach the point of rescuing a severely fucked up thing. Then I think why? Why should I put my name on a thing. I think I will take off tomorrow afternoon after I get done with the most screwed up thing I have worked on in awhile.

Another Troubled Project

I guess there is a sign that lets IBM know that they can just let one PM go with a day’s notice and that I will just take the project on. Happened to me today. I could tell that the work was not good because our customer seemed terribly unhappy with no matter what the PM did or did not do. Her time was limited and I knew it weeks ago hearing how the management team there talked with her. I now have three projects for them and each one has its challenges.

It does get me that much closer to this personal goal I have for work. Now my so-called “seat” is good until next February with them. Getting closer to the magic month. Next year will see no vacations and my spending on things will get cut significantly. Money will flow into savings because I implement Plan B at the end of the year.

A major change because I have to do major changes. I have to walk away from everything and leave nothing behind but a shadow, a whisper, a thought. I’ve let things go way too long. I know what I need and where I need to be and what it will take to get me there.

Its not just work and play and travel. Its this life I want to have which is not this one. Not this one with troubled projects. But this gets me to the next so I’m happy.

Now its time though for beer and drinking and getting messed up. I walked over 6.1 miles tonight. This was a damned good day all in all. I’ll take the projects and take the work. At least until next year when Plan B happens.

All bets are off when Plan B time comes.

Questions that have bugged me

See if you agree.

  1. You are cool. How did you get that way?
  2. You are stupid. How did you get that way?
  3. Will you loan me some money?
  4. Can you fix my: [ ] laptop [ ] phone [ ] tablet [ ] life?
  5. Why did you stop doing X for a living and move to Y?
  6. I don’t like X or Y in the house. How do you handle it?
  7. What will you do tomorrow?
  8. I bet your divorce was painful. How did you survive?
  9. People always need other people. When will you meet the next perfect person?

Seriously peeps. If you are so worried about me, what time is left for you? In answer to all the questions above, you should go quantify and qualify your own existence. Like Thoreau said,

If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears however measured or far away


Most men lead lives of quiet desperation

Take your pick. Most likely your most important questions should revolve around your own lives. I think its because people are naturally curious and want to do cultural or social eavesdropping. Most others actually are lonely even when they have thousands in their spheres. They don’t know what they need. They don’t need what they want. They don’t want what they have.

There is the punctuation at the end which signifies you are waiting. Don’t hold your breath. I’ve decided that most of you are simply not necessary. If you end up in my spam queue on Akismet please welcome yourself. You are in excellent company with the 20 or spammers each week which visit this geography. You can make deals on drugs, read about social disease, and also find out information on special money offers that will make you rich, rich, rich!

Like another friend from the “long ago” told me.

Don’t complain about things unless you intend to follow it with “and I will do something about it”.

Huzzah! Of course this is placed in my subterfuge category because I feel like a fuckhead today and this is my blog.

Traveling Future Tense

There’s a trip for me coming up in early September. I had wanted to do this back in 2010 but events with Celestix Networks precluded it. My goal is to travel across the United States on Amtrak.

amtrakusaThere are a few ways to do this trip as you can see from the map but I’ll be focusing on the route like this:

  1. San Francisco to Reno
  2. Reno to Denver
  3. Denver to Chicago
  4. Chicago to New York

There is one train line on Amtrak which will do the first three segments of the trip. The California Zephyr reaches across America’s heartland and will drop me off in Chicago after some days and stops along the way to see the places above.


As you can see, I can board the train in Emeryville and reach all the way to Chicago. I will stop along the route though to see the cities stretching from Reno to Chicago.

The times on the train hover around the day long trip to reach each destination along the path on the left that I have chosen.

As usual, each stop will involve city investigations using my preferred method.

For the last part of the journey, the Chicago to New York segment, I have a number of choices. The travel time on the train hovers around 19 hours.

Why not just fly you may ask. What do you see when you fly? Do you see the prairie grasses kissing the sunset sky? Can you feel the winds in the windy city? Do you get intimate with what our country involves? Not at 30k feet I wager.

Vacations as a statement

Its my right and I am exercising my right to take time off from work and see the country. The birth county. The place I call home. I may still travel to Japan but I have a feeling that trip will not happen this year. I don’t really feel the inclination to go far and spend the time flying to a international destination at this point. I can Amtrak and see my country in a way that I have not before. This also came about and raised my interest when talking to a fellow Amtrak passenger on my trip up to Eugene. She had criss-crossed the US on the train and was still so excited and positive about the whole thing.

I’ve already requested the time off the first week of September and will soon book all the train tickets. This time no office closures or people issues. This time it happens.

Chromebook Work and Play

So how much of everyday life can I get done with my Chromebook? My Acer C720 is a capable and rather fun little device which is quite easy to travel with, use in hotels, be on the road with. It does do better with a wifi connection but that’s okay because I can supply that using my hotspot. I got curious though how much I spend doing tasks on it and what things I cannot get done and need a regular laptop for.

  • Playing movies, music. All possible and quite nicely done.
  • Playing games. I don’t play games.
  • Streaming content. Yep. I can do this to my chromecast
  • Editing files. Well, the google docs and this lightweight graphics program handle it for me.
  • Banking, Bill Paying, Other online stuff. Yes, yes, and yes. No surprises there.

What I cannot get done.

  • Uploading music to Amazon cloud. Google Play upload is probably easier.
  • Photo uploading from a memory card is “janky”. Takes a bit of patience.
  • Heavy duty file editing. I probably need my Windows 7 laptop for that stuff.
  • Work. Well, there is a Thinkpad T410 which is only for work.

I would say for about 90% of my daily activities a chromebook works exceptionally well.

Conclusions of some kind

If you are looking to use a chromebook, study your uses. Daily browsing, banking, watching content online, streaming music? You are good.

Photoshop, Office 2013, video editing. Look elsewhere at this point.  For me I don’t do so much of the second one so the use case of the first group of things make the balance swing decidedly toward the chromebook. Its advantages in quick start, painless update, security conscious operating system; all mean I get to play on it that much quicker.

Final Days at Eugene

This post blends my yesterday which was a travel day and today getting back to the home front. I went for a final few hour walk along the river path to see a part of the trail I had missed the first time.

Got back to the Amtrak train station at 3pm and had a late lunch and then read a bit and waited for my Coast Starlight train. I also got to see the Amtrak Cascades train which is a very different. I have not ridden that train yet but started considering a new plan for September already to get me there.



Here’s the Coast Starlight Train running by the coast somewhere. It has two levels and the viewing car seems to always sit in front of the dining car.

It also has sleeping compartments behind the viewing car and a cafe below the viewing car.

cascadesHere’s the Cascades Train. The organization is completely different although there is a dining car and an observation/viewing car I believe.

These trains run from Eugene to Vancouver BC so perhaps they don’t need the dedicated sleeper car.

Transition Times

There always comes a time to make the transition. I remember in India sitting in my room at the Raintree Ecotel watching the cable movies and news. Oftentimes I would have gone down and visited with the folks in the coffee shop on the first level and was gently talked into having a specialty of the house — Chicken Tikka Marsala. Often with a helping of rice and some Naan. A perfect dinner it always seemed.

Soon the time would come though and I’d catch the hotel taxi back to the airport for the 4.5 hour flight to Singapore.

Them days is gone…

Now I transition on the train. I sit and wait the boarding time and perhaps remember all the great walks on the Eugene trip. Rethink for a thousand times how much better I have it now. I can go on vacations numerous times each year. I starting looking at a trip to Vancouver and then down to Seattle and perhaps ride the Cascades south to Eugene. Still in the formative stages.

The train trip was a delight except for the sleeping part. I always seem to sleep but I am very uncomfortable sleeping in that position and get sore and unhappy. I arrived back in Oakland right on time and got the car and drove myself to the room.

It used to be that the dog Misty would be the first one to greet me. I should have married the dog I have thought more than a few times. Totally loyal. She never cheated on me which scores all the points. Now there is no daughter force waiting patiently. Its all different. Instead my buddy Free is waiting for me to get back. I like this better!

So the transition ends and I’m home and heading to work tomorrow. Its a 5 foot commute so I should be right on time.

Day 2 – Eugene

Today set out after breakfast out and watching some morning news. I did the northern part of Eugene along the Willamette River walk and then back to central Eugene along a different path. Very nice walking today and got to see a beautiful park and walking trail along the river, rose gardens, and lots of access to the city.

I enjoyed today’s walk even more than yesterday’s since I got to see a beautiful location by the river, local businesses and historic districts, city scapes. Walking this way really is the difference for me. As I sat at a park bench this afternoon dwelling on the times I’ve done this, came away with a few key things about this kind of tourism.

Thing 1. Its not impacting. No car or bus or even subway or train are used. The main impact is your feet on the sidewalk. The level of impact is so little and the pace so sustaining that one gets to see many things that otherwise are lost as the tourists scratch their heads at bus rides and transfers.

Thing 2. You can cover a great distance on foot believe it or not but you never see the thing on the next block which may be earth shattering, unreal, life changing. And that’s okay. Life is that way too. I remember walking in Tokyo thinking that the blocks to the left and down and then to the right could be completely different. In Kyoto with temples being the norm, missing one on the block over to the right but seeing three on the path I chose seemed to be okay. You don’t need to apply yourself for Thing 2. All you need to do is decide that the city stretches out to greet you with its sidewalks and people and streets. Some cities are better meant for this kind of tourism.

Thing 3. Its good for you. Lets face it when I do this, I often drink beer at night and eat way good. I feel that I have walked the distance, covered the paths, and I have deserved that third beer or hamburger or chili dog (like last night). Maybe some of the desire to do this is because I walk every day. But I never walk this far every day. There is a difference in goodness between the two. The walking every day is supposed to be at a generating pace which makes me feel good and may raise my heartbeat just a bit. The pedestrian tourism is good but it takes longer. I have to apply myself for the tourism and accept the fact that I will make mistakes. Google Maps on my Nexus 5 is my friend!

Thing final. This is my thing. You may hate it. Your feet will be sore, your legs tired, you may get blisters. I don’t get blisters but I do get sore after hours of walking. So what? Who cares. My form of tourism is not for every city; but when I visit a Singapore or a Tokyo or a Kyoto or a Singapore or a Sydney and now Eugene; I wonder what other places are meant to be seen on foot.


Today is the last full day here. I end the vacation tomorrow and will head back down to work, my house mates, my life there. Work awaits me. I’ll apply myself to it with clarity based on the miles I covered these last days. The things I got to see when my two feet lovingly caressed the streets and paths.

Eugene earns my Pedestrian Tourism of fame award! I may not be back here because there are so many other places which are deserving of the same inspection. I don’t need to leave to some far away shore. I am wondering if Seattle is the same way. I think in September, I will just have to find out.

By the way, Happy 4th of July too. The holidays have ceased to mean things to me besides days off from work. I think they were casualties of the divorce when I felt completely taken advantage of and used for those years. I’ll never feel for any day again except maybe Veteran’s Day.

Day One at Eugene

Today was one of those great days. I walked probably 10 miles today in about 5 hours. I had setup the south part of Eugene to go see in no particular order. I walked streets today that were industrial, residential, urban. I took a walking path which let me see an ambling stream, birds playing in the water, and the occasional walker or cyclist nodding to me.

I designed the trip to kind of be a big square but it never works out that way for me. When I do the pedestrian tourism thing, I just go. I ended up about three miles from the hotel but on the correct street. There waiting for me was a Starbucks only about .3 miles from the hotel. There I appreciated the no-walk moments with a Vente Iced Caramel Macchiato and considered the day I had. I’ve done this in a few cities in a few countries and I’ve come away realizing that many of the cities are easy for the pedestrian tourist to experience. Eugene gets added to the list which include from the past Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, and Kyoto.

I also took my new camera along for the walk. This is the first new camera thing I have bought in years. My old camera that faithfully took pictures for me in so many countries gave up and would not start any more. There will be a new Google+ Photo album for this trip and I’ll gather the photo’s taken with my Nexus 5 and the camera.

Tomorrow will take me to the central and northern part of Eugene. A place of trendy restaurants, walking trails that accompany a river, and shopping malls and more touristy type things.

Stay tuned. The Eugene adventure has just begun!

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2014 Mikes Thoughts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑