things i wrote in 2001

December 15, 2001
I now have a wireless broadband network in my house.  I bought a Linksys wireless router, which provides a firewall for my desktop, and allows me to access the internet from my laptop anywhere inside my house, or within 100 feet outside of the house.  It's really nifty. 
Amazing Race review has been posted.
The updates to the California Bar Exam Primer are coming along smoothly.  It's been almost a year since my last major overhaul, so it's in bad need of an updating.  The new version will be posted around the end of the year.  It's hard to believe it's had 45,000 hits since July of 2000.
December 11, 2001
Broadband is back!  Yippie!  It's so fast!
December 9, 2001
Good news - my broadband connection should be back up on Tuesday.  My old DSL provider, Rhythms, went bankrupt a few months ago, and Pac Bell doesn't provide DSL service to my block.  Sprint Broadband wanted to put a 10 foot pole on top of my roof, which wasn't an option, and then of course they stopped signing up new customers all together.  But Reality Networks came along, and they are providing high speed access to Campbell, from an antenna on the Pruneyard Tower.  So on Tuesday they will come and install a funky cone-shaped antenna on the chimney, pointed at the Pruneyard, and supposedly that will give me high speed access.
I have given up on trying to make coconut rice.  Banana Leaf gets the patent on that.  I tried to make it three different ways yesterday, and finally gave up.
December 3, 2001
New restaurant reviews: Romano's Macaroni Grill, Stoddard's Brewhouse & Eatery.
Time to archive some more of my bookmarks:
December 2, 2001
Last night I watched Waiting for Guffman ... hilarious movie.  Same cast as Dog Show.   (Rich, you might want to consider this for your Netflix queue).
Wow, I'm "Cool Link 1" on David Chen's Yahoo! Profile.  Thanks, David!  (whoever you are...)
Ever wonder why the Cow Palace is called the Cow Palace?  The building was proposed back in the early 1900's as a place to show animals, like a fairgrounds.  Then the depression hit, and critics wondered aloud why the city was spending so much money on a palace for cows, when there were people who were starving and living on the streets.  The name stuck ... Cow Palace.
If you use AT&T Wireless Services a lot (you know who you are), you can set up your own address book with people's numbers in it.  That makes it a lot easier to send text messages, without having to type in the person's phone number each time.  Here's the link:  Messaging Services.  Once you get your address book set up, just go back to that link and *walah* ... there it is.
November 29, 2001
I don't recommend using to order flowers. I ordered a wreath, to be delivered to someone on the 27th.  Today they received a centerpiece, with a dented candle.  Sheesh.  We'll see what customer service says about that.
I wonder if reality television has reached its apex?  I watched Survivor III and Temptation Island 2 tonight.  Neither really captured my fancy.  The characters don't seem to have very deep personalities, and the tricks are repeats from prior seasons.  It will be interesting to see if next season there are more or fewer reality shows.
I'm going to see Charley's Aunt (the play, not the person) on Friday in Palo Alto, and going to the bird show at the Cow Palace (what an oddly named building) on Sunday.  Oh, and getting the Christmas tree on Sunday also!
November 28, 2001
Last night I listened to someone give a speech about the "The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993."  The problem was that every time she said the name of the Act, she called it "The Ominous Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993."
November 26, 2001
November 25, 2001
Last week's West Wing (just watched because of vacation) was great ... I love it when the President called the Butterball hotline for cooking tips.  I wonder if the real president ever makes phone calls like that?  Last week's Amazing Race was also very good.  As much as I initially wanted Team Guido to win, but the past two weeks have started to make me think otherwise.  Two weeks ago they were so arrogant about being in the lead that they dilly-dallied and got to the check-in point last.  That meant they were last to leave on last week's episode, and last to arrive at last week's check-in.  Normally that would mean boot, but it was a no-boot week (ugh).  I'm secretly hoping they get booted next week.
Travel Updates:  Catalina Island review.
Other Updates: The short-lived "Wireless Messaging" page has been removed.  Text messages of up to 110 characters can be sent to, or use the AT&T Wireless Text Messaging form.  I can't figure out where to put this stuff, so I'll put it here:  My Yahoo instant messenger ID is twise (Yahoo! Instant MessengerYahoo! Instant Messenger), and my AOL instant messenger ID is twiseesq (AOL Instant Messenger).

November 3, 2001
I'm retiring the "Places I've Been" page.
North America
  • Acapulco ('94, '96)
  • Akron
  • Ann Arbor
  • Atlanta (__, '00)
  • Blue Balls ('90)
  • Boston
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Canton
  • Cape Canaveral [Kennedy]
  • Charleston
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Columbus
  • Crater Lake ('01)
  • Dayton
  • Flagstaff
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Loramie
  • Guadalajara
  • Honolulu
  • Huntsville
  • Indianapolis
  • Intercourse ('90)
  • Kennybunkport
  • Kiawah Island
  • Kokomo
  • Lahaina ('9_, '99)
  • Las Vegas
  • Lima
  • Makinaw Island
  • Maui ('9_, '99)
  • Mazatlan
  • Mexico City (2x)
  • Miami
  • New York City ('90, '01)
  • Niagara Falls
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Phoenix
  • Princeton
  • Puerto Vallarta (2x)
  • Reno
  • Rochester
  • St. Louis
  • Seattle
  • Sidney
  • Toronto
  • Trenton
  • Vancouver Island
  • Virginia Beach
  • Wala Wala
  • Wapakanetta
  • Washington D.C.  ('8_, '90)
  • Amsterdam ('95)
  • Barcelona ('95)
  • Liechtenstein ('95)
  • London ('95, '00)
  • Madrid ('95)
  • Monte Carlo ('95)
  • Nice ('95)
  • Paris ('95)
  • Pisa ('95)
  • Rome ('95)
  • Vatican City ('95)
  • Venice ('95)
  • Bangkok ('98)
  • Beijing ('98)
  • Hong Kong ('98)
  • Macau ('98)
  • Singapore ('98)
  • Tokyo ('98)
November 1, 2001
Is there any team that better deserves to win the World Series than the New York Yankees?  No, not this year.
October 30, 2001
The Justice Department warned today that terrorist activity is likely in the next few days.  As a result, Dick Cheney has been moved to a "secure location," (i.e. under a mountain) and his security is being evaluated on an hour-by-hour basis.  On the other hand, President Bush will be sitting in a seat at Yankee Stadium tonight for the third game in this year's World Series, before tens-of-thousands of people, in what is obviously a huge target.
I think it's clear where our priorities lie.
The news keeps reporting that traces of anthrax are being found in mail facilities and government offices.  What they aren't reporting is if that is normal to find traces of anthrax in buildings, or if that is abnormal.  So far it doesn't sound like the quantities they have found are lethal, and since anthrax grows naturally in dirt, it seems like some of these findings could just be normal anthrax.
October 28, 2001
Tonight was the fifth annual Wise-Hom pumpkin carving.  For the first time in five years, I didn't use a template and instead drew the design myself.  It turned out considerably worse than when I use a template.  Kenny used a template, and his looks like a professionally carved pumpkin.  It should - he spent a few hours on it.
My coworkers will be very happy to learn that I bought a bag of 480 tootsie rolls to fill the pumpkin on my desk.  They have been complaining about the lack of chocolates in my selection.
Tonight I finished reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.  Great story.  It's on the best-seller's list.
October 27, 2001
"Timothy Near" isn't really a good name for a woman.  "B. Modern" isn't really a good name for anyone.
On the other hand, "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" was a good show at the San Jose Rep, about the creation and collapse of the stock market in 1998 and 1999.
October 26, 2001
CNN headline:  "U.S. decides to issue anthrax vaccine."  Oh, wait, there's a vaccine?
Yesterday the audit department decreased itself by 10% (about 100 employees).
October 25, 2001
The Pro Bono Project, an organization of attorneys serving the public, has misspelled the word "attorneys" on their webpage... "attornies".
"If your plane was hijacked, who would you rather sit next to?  Righteous reverends who will sit back and say 'This is God's punishment for gay Teletubbies' or the gay rugby player who lays down his life to save others?" -- NPR Commentator Scott Simon, comparing the Rev. Jerry Falwell with openly gay Flight 03 hero Mark Bingham.
I had dinner last night with my best friend from college, Diane (note to mom: she's getting married).  As we're walking through Willow Glen back to her apartment, she points out a huge house where "some guy named Garcia from the 49ers lives."  Yea ... that'd be #5, Jeff.
October 24, 2001
If you could choose any career other than your present one, and money was not a factor, what would you choose?
My coworkers and friends have been asking that a lot lately ... I think it's a reflection of increasing discontent with work (in general, not just at my company).  I would be a teacher.  Probably high school history.
Sometime around September 15, all of the networks stopped airing the video of the planes crashing and the WTC collapsing.  That video hasn't been on the networks since.  Compare that to the Challenger explosion, which repeated for months, and still appears occasionally on TV.  I'm glad the networks pulled that video - kids (and adults) don't need to keep seeing those images.  But I wonder how much of a role airline advertising dollars had in getting the networks to stop the footage?   
October 23, 2001
We seem to be bombing a lot of hospitals and nursing homes lately.  Is our intelligence that bad, or is Afghanistan putting civilians in military buildings?  The pentagon briefing for last Friday's ground attack disclosed that we considered taking prisoners at the military base that we overtook, but we decided to shoot them all instead during the attack.  
This Thursday I'm teaching my high school mock trial class how to prepare opening and closing statements.  I can't get over the irony that I'm teaching this stuff, but I've never really done it myself.
The IT department upgraded my computer over the weekend and I can't get the webcam software to work very well with my computer, so it's been disabled until I figure out how to fix it.  I think when I get it back up, I'll just use it on Yahoo! Messenger - that software is easier to use.  Don't worry mom, I promise I'll put up a digital picture of me in my Halloween costume next Wednesday.
October 22, 2001
I overhear so much good stuff in the hallways.  Like today, I learned that a hoodrat is like a mallrat, but they hang out in the hood.  That's good info.
One of my coworkers asked me today what my favorite [Internal Revenue] code section is.  Ummm... yea.
I decommissioned some stuff this morning:

About This Site
Why a personal website?  I'm not exactly sure, but it has to do with self expression, keeping on top of current technology, creativity, information storage, and just because I can.
The predecessor of this website was first created in 1994, and has undergone many reincarnations since.  I registered the domain in February of 1999.
This site is currently maintained using the following stuff:
  • Formatting: Cascading Style Sheets
  • Font: 10 point Verdana, Arial, or sans-serif; black
  • Link Color: 663300
  • Margin: 60 point
  • Content Width: 700 points

Genealogy: The Wise, Weiss, and Brumbaugh families.

House Remodeling
I hired Steve Hampton (408-249-0644) to paint my house, and he did a darn good job.  I'm glad I hired someone, because I have high ceilings, and I would not have been able to paint those as well as he did.  But after watching him paint the bedrooms and ceilings, I think when those need to be repainted, or when other rooms need to be painted, I will do it myself.  It didn't look that hard.
    Fix Squeaky Floors
Most homes older than five years have at least one squeaky spot somewhere on the floor. I had several on my first floor which were very annoying. I was replacing the carpet anyhow, so I tore up the carpet above the squeak, bought a box of long screws at Home Depot, and started screwing the baseboard into the floor joists wherever I heard squeaks. It took about forty screws to solve the problem.
Once I had the new carpet layed and moved the furniture in, some new squeaks appeared. Obviously I could not tear up the new carpet to drill more screws, so I usedSqueak-Relief floor squeak fixers from, which have to be installed from the crawlspace (the same company makes a device to stop floor squeaks on the second floor).
    Replace Light Fixtures
The prior owner of my townhouse installed ceiling fans in the two upstairs bedrooms. Ceiling fans are nice for air flow, but it wasn't quite the look that what I wanted.
Replacing ceiling fans and light fixtures is relatively easy. Light fixtures and fans have four main components: The decorative cover which you see, the fixture mount, the ceiling bracket, and the wiring. The fixture mount is attached to the ceiling bracket with two screws. The decorative cover is attached on top of the fixture mount, usually with one or two screws.
To replace a fixture, first turn off the power to the fixture at the circuit breaker. Unscrew whatever is holding the decorative cover in place, and remove the cover. Two screws should be visible, going up into the ceiling. Remove these two screws and lower the fixture mount. Two wires will be visible coming from the ceiling, connected to the fixture's own wires with wire connectors. Remove the connectors and discard the light fixture.
To install the new fixture, connect the two wires from the fixture mount to the wires in the ceiling using wire connectors, and then attach the fixture mount to the mounting bracket with two screws. Fixtures usually come with their own mounting brackets, but I usually use the ones already installed in the ceiling if they are compatible with the fixture. Install the decorative cover (i.e the glass dome) over the fixture mount, and turn on the circuit to test.
    Replace Exterior Door
The door that leads from the mud room to the garage had a dog door installed in it. I don't own a dog, and this isn't up to code anyhow. So I wanted to replace the door.
Southern Lumber in San Jose has a door matching service that is wonderful. You take them your old door, sans-hardware, pick out a new door from their selection, and they will cut the new door to match your old door, including the doorknob, deadbolt, hinges, and shape of the door itself. I picked out a door that was the same depth as mine, and Southern Lumber did a great job of matching the doors.
Back at home, I painted the door and installed the hinges, and hung the door in the existing frame. Unfortunately the door wasn't matched perfectly, and it hung a bit unevenly in the frame. So I used 1/8th inch balsa wood to shimmy one of the hinges out a bit, and that fixed the problem. I reinstalled the hardware, and I had myself a new door.
    Restain Front Door
I'm not sure why I thought restaining the front door would be a good idea. It was much more work than I had initially thought. This project taught me that there are some projects that it is best to just pay someone else to do.  Although I will say that the door looks much better now that it's been restained.
My front door is a large, heavy, hardwood door, with a lot of grooves and carvings in it. The former owner had stained the door to be dark, and then put polyurethane on top of the varnish to protect the door. That was fine, except the varnish was starting to fade unevenly.
At Home Depot I bought a can of paint stripper, a can of mineral spirits, a wire brush and a plastic scraper. I already had goggles, gloves and rags at home. I applied the paint stripper with a rag, and let that do its thing for about fifteen minutes. Then I scraped off the goop with the plastic scraper and wire brush. To clean up the residue goop off the door, I used the mineral spirits on a rag. Then I sanded the entire door. Sounds easy enough, but that took three full days to do the entire door.
I lost interest in revarnishing the door for about a month, so I just left it alone for a while. Then I realized the unprotected door was probably getting damaged from the sun, and it looked like some animal had peed on the door, so I figured it was time to finish the project.
I took the door off its hinges and put it down on sawhorses. The door is soft wood, so I applied a wood conditioner, and then the wood stain. Eight hours later, the stain had dried.  A few weeks later, I applied three coats of polyurethane sealant with a foam brush.  The door looks great!
Saving Energy
I moved into my house in December of 2000, and received my first PG&E bill in January of 2001.  That was the height of the 2001 energy crisis.  My bill was $190.  I decided that I needed to do something not only to reduce my PG&E bill, but also to contribute to the conservation of electricity so that California could avoid rolling blackouts in the spring and summer.  I made it my goal to find some way to reduce my energy usage each week, and put that idea into practice.  I managed to reduce my PG&E bill down to $16 a month during the summer of 2001.  These are some of the ways I did it:
  • Put front porch light on timer (or motion detector), and use infrequently
  • Add fiberglass insulation to telephone and cable TV access boxes
  • Make sure all windows have blinds and drapes
  • Caulk around windows and doors
  • Add weather-stripping to exterior doors so that no light is visible around the door
  • Add weather-stripping to attic access door
  • Add Styrofoam sheet insulation on top of attic access door
  • Caulk around plumbing (outside faucets, laundry drain)
  • Replace most frequently used light bulbs, including halogen torch lamps, with florescent bulbs
  • Dry clothes on clothesline or drying rack
  • Turn down water heater as far as is tolerable
  • Turn water heater on "vacation" when traveling
  • Hand wash dishes
  • Put televisions, VCR's, computers, and other electronics on power strips that can be turned off when not in use
  • Get rid of unused electronic devices (unused clock radios, cordless phones, etc.)
  • Replace manual thermostat with programmable thermostat
  • Replace furnace filter regularly
  • Caulk furnace air leaks
  • Turn off heat vents in unused rooms and seal those rooms off in the winter
  • Use toaster oven instead of large oven
  • Close fireplace flues, and put Styrofoam insulation sheet in fireplace when not in use
  • In the summer, replace attic access door with a board with a circular hole in it, and put a fan on top of the board to suck hot air up into attic and out the roof vents
  • Make sure all lights are turned off when not in use
  • Put foam insulation around all electrical outlets and light switches which are on exterior walls

Movies I've Seen Recently:  Iron MonkeyHaiku Tunnel.  Both very good.

Most of these trails are appropriate for jogging, but some are purely hiking trails.  The  Santa Clara County Parks website has a trails page, which lists trails by category:Hiking OnlyPaved Multi-UseEquestrian/Hiking, and Unpaved Multi-Use.  For people who are into serious hiking, I recommend visiting Kevin Gong's Hiking Page.
Coyote Creek Parkway (map)Santa Clara CountyPaved Multi-UseThis is a 13.7 mile paved multi-use trail that follows Hwy 101 near Blossom Hill Road. The trail runs along Coyote Creek from Coyote Heller County Park to Anderson Lake County Park. The trail is secluded by trees and brush, but close enough to the freeway to hear the cars.  I parked at Shady Oaks Park, just off Blossom Hill Road.  Some parts of the trail, particularly just south of El Parque de la Raza de Paz, are quite bumpy and would not be good to bike on.  The rest of the trail is well paved, smooth, and not very hilly. 
Jug Handle State ReserveMendocino CountyUnpaved HikingA 2.5 mile unpaved trail exploring an 'ecological staircase'.  500,000 years of geological history is laid out in giant terraces that each contain a different ecosystem.  The trail takes hikers to cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, past a pristine beach, and through majestic woods.  At the end of the trail is the pygmy forest, which contains stunted trees limited in height by the leached soil.  It is located one mile north of Caspar, and five miles north of Mendocino, off of Highway 1.  There are a number of stairs to climb, but it is not very strenuous.  
Los Gatos Creek Trail (map)Santa Clara CountyPaved Multi-UseOver seven miles of mostly flat, paved trail for biking, walking, jogging and skating.  Stretches from Campbell (Leigh Ave) to Los Gatos (Vasona County Park and downtown), and then continues unpaved to Lexington Reservoir.  Bridges and underpasses mean the trail never crosses a street.  The trail is well maintained, and dogs must be kept on leashes.  Emergency call boxes every 1/2 mile.  Access from nearly any road crossing the trail, but best parking is probably near the Campbell Park (Campbell Avenue), the percolation ponds at Los Gatos Creek County Park, off of Dell Avenue, and at Vasona County Park.
Quicksilver Park, Senador Mine Trail (McAbee Road entrance)(map)Santa Clara CountyEquestrian/HikingBad trail to jog on because of rocks, uneven surfaces, dusty, and very hilly.
Vasona County Park (map)Santa Clara CountyPaved Multi-UseThe park consists of Lake Vasona and 151 acres of parkland near Los Gatos.  The park is at the southern end of the Los Gatos Creek Trail.  The trail runs along the east side of the lake, and loops around to the west side, but does not make a full circle.  South of the lake, the trail divides and reconnects near the miniature train station and carousel, where it then continues through the town of Los Gatos and up to the Lexington Reservoir.  The trail is paved (except the Lexington Reservoir leg), and the terrain is level.  Access the park and the trail from Blossom Hill Road or University Avenue.  You can also access the trail from Lark Avenue, although there is no parking along Lark.  Jogging around the lake can be difficult because of all the picnics going on and kids on bikes, but the section between the park's train station south to Los Gatos is very peaceful and serene as it winds through the woods.
October 21, 2001
Some people have e-mailed me asking what that broom looking thing is in the background of my webcam.  It's a broom. Last Halloween I dressed up like Harry Potter, and never took the broom home.  So many people commented on it that I just hung it up on my wall.  On the stick it says "Nimbus 2000".   The thing that seems to be dangling from the left hand side of the broom is a yo-yo.
October 20, 2001
It's Oktoberfest in Downtown Campbell.  Traffic is bad.  Street parking is bad.  I finished weatherproofing a door leading to my garage, and put those foam insulators on most of my electrical outlets and light switches.  Last night I saw Iron Monkey.  Paid $44 for a haircut today.  That's about four times my normal price.  The reviews will be posted Monday. 
October 19, 2001
Survivor Africa is plodding along.  The challenges are less interesting the third time around.  The only pressing problems are the water supply, and coalition building.  The contestants appear to be living in a desert, and yet for the cow-drinking contest it was set next to a rushing river ... where did all that water come from?
October 18, 2001
People haven't been taking my halloween candy that I put on my desk nearly as much since I put the "Free Anthrax Candy" sign on the candy bowl.  My manager did request that I stock chocolates though ... I'll bring those in when the current supply of peanut butter taffy is gone.
Amazing Race is getting weird.  Team Guido is pulling punches that are good strategy wise, but I think they are almost crossing the line ethically.  I wouldn't have the guts to do what they did last night - cutting in line and trying to stop the other players from getting to their plane, and pushing Emily's mom.  I think they will win because they have the skills and they are being aggressive, but like Big Brother's Will, I don't think they really deserve to win.
Some of the departments at PwC SJ are really underutilized ... the folks are just sitting doing nothing.  I don't think that can last very long before something has to give (or go).  My group has pretty good productivity though, relative to the others at least.
I'm archiving some of my bookmarks of people's personal websites:
October 17, 2001
You'll never learn earth shattering news of general importance by e-mail.  When you receive an e-mail that has a story in it, and you wonder why you didn't read about it already in the newspaper or see it on TV, it's because the story isn't true.  Don't forward it on to other people.  Especially if the message has racist overtones (i.e. war against Afghanistan).  Or check one of the many urban legend databases.
This week's TV Guide has an interesting article on the effect of the media on presidential decisions.  What if JFK had the media pressures during the Bay of Pigs that Bush had on September 11?  JFK would have had to made a decision and a statement within an hour if not minutes after the Bay of Pigs escalated ... not the hours that he took to make the decisions.  The result could have been vastly different - rushed decision making could have led to a nuclear war.  But he was able to take the time to make a rational decision.
Which reminds me - thank goodness Cheney is hidden in a mountain somewhere.  They're keeping Bush out in public, kind of a visible target, but the real brains behind the operation is safely tucked under tons of concrete.  Good idea.
October 16, 2001
The webcam is now up and running, on a trial basis.  Access it from the home page.
Darn - they put The Mole II on hiatus.
October 14, 2001
Mendocino was great.
October 11, 2001
Wow - it's been a month since the WTC was attacked and collapsed.  My company organized a blood drive as a result of the attack, and it was today.  I tried to donate, but they had too much A+ blood, so they sent me away.  The Red Cross is in desperate need of O type blood.
If everything goes as planned, I get my new Windows 2000 enabled laptop on Monday, and the webcam will be on much more during the day than it currently is.
Survivor III premiered tonight!  Ooooh.
October 7, 2001
Only a six year old can (or should) get away with wearing a leather coat with flip-flops.
October 6, 2001
My neighbor told me where I could find a store with full size (3x5) flags in stock ... the army surplus store on Bascom.  So I went over and bought two.  I don't have anything to hang the flag on, but when our next national emergency or holiday comes, I'm partially prepared.  I could hang it in the window.
October 5, 2001
You might have had trouble viewing this website or sending me e-mails this week.  I moved the domain name to a new server, hijinks design, and whenever you move servers, it takes a few days for the internet to readjust.
October 4, 2001
OK, here's a SAT-style test, from last night's West Wing:
Islamic Fundamentalists : Islam :: ______ : Christianity?
Solution:  Islamic Fundamentalists : Islam :: KKK : Christianity
October 3, 2001
I hope I never get sick, so that I don't have to deal with insurance companies.
October 2, 2001
Need website hosting?  I strongly recommend hijinks design.
September 30, 2001
The webcam is now up and running.
September 26, 2001
Right now it looks like about $500,000,000 (half-a-billion-bucks) has been raised for charities related to the WTC attack.  If we assume there are around 6,000 victim-families out there (between the WTC casualties and Pentagon casualties), that comes out to $83,333 per family.  Of course, that doesn't include those who were injured, who lost their jobs as a result of the WTC collapse, or the consequential damages to travel agents, airlines, etc.
September 25, 2001
Got more than $100,000 in net worth?  Call your insurance agent and buy an umbrella insurance policy.  Today.
September 23, 2001
In Cincinnati, race riots broke out several months ago when a white police officer shot a black man.  In response to the riots, the police severely cut back patrols of the black neighborhoods.  As a result, the murder rate has increased dramatically in those neighborhoods.  Not everyone in Cincinnati sees a problem with that.  It will be interesting to see if the police officer is found guilty or innocent.
September 22, 2001
The news has reported that the WTC attack is the first time America has been attacked, apart from Pearl Harbor.  I guess they forgot about the War of 1812.
Bush has put a bounty on the head of "terrorists."  Can I turn in other Americans?  We did the same thing to Native Americans that modern terrorists are trying to do to us.  We did the same thing every time we colonized another sovereign nation (i.e. Philippines).
September 21, 2001
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Monroe, is still teaching.
America's new vocabulary:
"Ground Zero"
"Homeland Security"
And of course, the phrases the news channels use:
"America Under Attack"
"America Rising"
"America On Attack"
"America Attacked"
"America Rebuilds"
"America's Resolve"
"Attack On America"
"America on Alert"
"America the Vulnerable"
"American Answers the Call"
"America United"
The list goes on...
September 20, 2001
I flew to Ohio today to visit my family. The images of planes crashing into buildings were hard to suppress, for everyone. I arrived at SJC the proscribed 2 hours before my flight, prepared for lengthy security lines. Fifteen minutes after entering the airport, I was ticketed, through security, and sitting in a chair at my gate. So much for 2 hour delays. The only increased security I noticed was that all passengers had to be passed over with the metal detector wand, and our ID's were checked at the gate while boarding. The metal knife on the lunch tray was gone.
The pilot on my second flight welcomed us on board and acknowledged our (and his) nervousness. He suggested we introduce ourselves to the people seated around us. No one did. Then the plane took off over downtown Chicago, right next to the Sears Tower.
September 18, 2001
No one ever believes me when I tell them I'm allergic to melons.  From the National Institute of Health website:
"Another interesting example of cross-reactivity occurs in people who are highly sensitive to ragweed. During ragweed pollination season, these people sometimes find that when they try to eat melons, particularly cantaloupe, they have itching in their mouth and they simply cannot eat the melon."
I'm highly sensitive to ragweed.  That explains the melon allergy.  So far I've only run into two other people who have melon allergies.
September 16, 2001
This article urges us not to just bomb the hell out of Afghanistan.
September 14, 2001
Five PwC employees died in the hijacked airplanes, and the 3 year old son and partner of one of the employees also died.  It appears that no employees were in the WTC.
Next Thursday I am scheduled to fly to Ohio for the weekend.  It should be interesting to see how the airport security has increased.
As of this morning, all three major networks were still doing no-commercial coverage.  I wonder how long until they stop for the first commercial?
September 12, 2001
The most amazing video I have seen of the attack is the shot of Plane #2 going into the WTC, shot from the WTC plaza (below the building).  The plane enters from the left side of the screen, and enters the building as if the building just opened up for the plane, and then a fireball comes out the other side.  I have heard that at least one person who was on the floor the plane came in on survived by locking himself in an office.  Somehow he survived the collapse of the building.
Several employees of my company were aboard the airplanes that crashed into the WTC.  No doubt many other employees were in the WTC - we have over 20,000 employees working in Manhattan.
On another note, it's tax return season, with the corporate deadline being 9/17.  I just gave our processing guy a tax return that is six inches tall.
September 11, 2001
I woke up this morning at 6:15am to see the aftermath of Plane #1's hit on the WTC.  Then I saw live as Plane #2 hit the WTC.  Then the Pentagon, and then the collapse of the towers.  The only other thing like it was watching the Challenger explode.
I know there will be thousands of horrific stories, however this poor man that worked at WTC Tower 1 was on an NBC audio feed and told of his escape, running down the emergency stairwells. He then broke down as he blurted "I hope someone helped those poor people in the wheelchairs. They were just sitting in their wheelchairs, hoping someone would carry them down because they couldn't use the stairs."
September 10, 2001
September 8, 2001
CBS's The Amazing Race is really a good TV show, as far as reality shows go.  The race starts with 11 contestants racing around the globe.  At each checkpoint, the last team to arrive is eliminated from the race.  The personalities of the contestants are very interesting, and the producers did a good job of editing the show.  Tonight I watched NBC's competing "Lost" and I got lost just watching the show. 
September 6, 2001
From yesterday's Campbell Times:
Witnesses of an incident on August 27 at Home Depot told police they thought a man was intentionally trying to run his wife over with a car, but the whole thing turned out to be just a bizarre accident, caused by a mechanical problem with the car
"We got a call of a person who was ramming other cars in the parking lot at Home Depot," [the police chief said]. "Contrary to what all of the witnesses said, it was an accident."
A middle aged couple was having severe car problems that afternoon. The man, who was driving a four-door Mercury Tracker, first backed into a car, then pulled forward two aisles and struck another car. At this point, the man's wife got out of the car, supposedly to check to see if they'd hit anything else. He backed up again and hit her, pinning her against another parked car. One more time, he pulled forward and hit another car, causing that car to hit two more cars. Then the folks from Home Depot got him stopped and got things under control.
The woman sustained a broken leg, the man was taken in for questioning and released, and two of the seven damaged cars were towed.
September 4, 2001
Today was my one-year anniversary with PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Nothing vested.  But I'm still happy there, and I don't want to leave... so that's a good thing.
September 1, 2001
Today I finished Gone With The Wind - right on schedule (2 weeks).  I also finished watching the movie, which was very true to the book, except in the book she had 3 children, and only one in the movie.  Now I can start on The Wind Done Gone.
August 31, 2001
I'm now a cubicle dweller.  I gave up the office which I occupied for a year, and moved into a three-walled cube.  I think I like it better.
August 29, 2001
Almost done reading GWTW.  And I'm a little over an hour into the movie.  When this is all done, I can read TWDG.
So Frank Brady, a member of the Hell's Angels and drug producer/dealer, got himself charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of two firefighting pilots whose planes crashed fighting the fire that Frank started, supposedly with his meth lab.  Wondering if your next campfire could lead to a murder conviction?  Check below:
  • Legal fire, not negligently set:  No murder charges if the planes crash.  Ooops, it's an accident = no liability.
  • Legal fire, negligently set:  No murder charges, but you'll get sued in civil court by the pilots' families.
  • Legal fire, recklessly set:  Manslaughter charges, and you'll get sued.
  • Misdemeanor fire (didn't get a permit):  Misdemeanor manslaughter charges (and of course you'll get sued).
  • Felony fire (your meth lab explodes):  Felony murder charges (and sued).  This is what happened to Frank.  Felony murder = murder which occurs in the course of an unrelated felony.
August 26, 2001
On my server logs I can see what search terms people have used on search engines like Yahoo! to get to my website.  Sometimes they're amusing ... for example, "usps proof of service by mail divorce".  I guess that person is getting a divorce by mail.  Or "contingency fee divorce california" ... no, you won't find that in California.  Here's a funny one:  "women don't belong in the military".  That's more of a statement than a search, I guess.  "what does a person do after passing the bar exam"  ... most of them get drunk.  "community property vs joint tenants" ... it's a hot debate.
August 25, 2001
Over half-way done with Gone With The Wind, and Scarlett still hasn't married Rhett.
After a year of sharing an office with my office mate (who is very nice, by the way, and we get along fine), this Friday I'll be moved about 10 feet from my current office to a cubicle.  I'm looking forward to the move, because I'll have more wall and desk space.  The trade off is that I'm giving up my privacy - my phone calls can be overheard, and more people can see what's on my computer.  Still, I'm looking forward to it.
From the "I can't figure out where to put this" file, here's a sample "notice of intent to vacate premises" letter, which you can use to give your landlord 30 days notice that you're moving out (assuming you're on a month-to-month lease):
January 1, 2001
Mr. Land Lord
123 Main Street
Anytown, ST 51234
Dear Mr. Lord,
This letter notifies you that I will be terminating my lease agreement effective February 5, 2001. I will be vacating the premises at 456 Slum Street no later than February 5. I request that a full refund of the security deposit be mailed to my forwarding address. If any portion of the security deposit is not returned, please send a written explanation detailing your reasons. My forwarding address is: 789 New Street; Anytown, ST 51234. Please contact me if you have any questions or need additional information. I can be contacted by phone at [day] (408) 555-1212 or [home] (408) 555-3434.
Thank you for your cooperation,
Ima Tenant
Deliver the letter to the landlord either by certified or registered mail, or personally. If mailed, send it 33 days before moving out.
August 24, 2001
"God's nightgown" is such a strange phrase.
Gary Condit is acting the way Bill Clinton acted before he was impeached.  He has chosen to be cagey and evasive, and use body language and words that have "guilt" written all over them.  Why can't these people get better advisors?  Mark my words, a year from now Gary will be sorry.
August 22, 2001
One third of the way done with Gone With The Wind.  It's a darn good book.
Poor poor spineless Bunky.  He cries when someone looks at him strange.  Not the best gay role model out there.
August 18, 2001
I wanted to read The Wind Done Gone, because it's been in the news lately and got good reviews.  But after 10 pages, I realized I needed to read Gone With The Windfirst, to understand where the heck the wind done gone.  So I checked Gone With out of the library today... 1,000 pages.  We'll see how long that takes to read.  I'm betting 2 weeks.  It's the longest book I've read in at least seven years.  Once I'm done with Gone With I'll read Done Gone.  I'm going now.
August 17, 2001
It's such a pleasure to deal with competent customer service representatives.  Our electric bug catcher vacuum broke, and the company is shipping me a new one, no questions asked!
There's this guy in the East Bay who killed a home invasion burglar with the burglar's own gun.   The guy is being called a hero for saving the lives of the other people in the house.  But now he's in jail ... turns out he was on parole, and violated his parole by holding the burglar's gun.
The Genealogy of the Brumbaugh and Wise Family got moved here.
August 13, 2001
Today was Black Monday at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
August 12, 2001
Vehicles must yield to pedestrians who are either crossing with the light in an intersection, or crossing in any intersection not controlled by a light.  Vehicles stop, pedestrians go. Always.  Cal. Veh. Code Sec. 21950(a).
August 10, 2001
Reuters Headline:  Elderly Couple Dies Off Florida Keys in Sex-Plane Hijack.
If you have Federal student loans, now is the time to consolidate!  Lock in the current 6.x% interest rate for the life of your loan!  Do it before September 30 and get a .8% interest rate reduction!!  You can't beat that.  And you can apply for the consolidationonline.
My Bookmarks page is up on-line.
August 8, 2001
My new Restaurant Reviews page is up on-line.
Never mind.  The ABA voted against changing the model ethics rules.  Too controversial.
August 6, 2001
Today the American Bar Association changed the model ethics rules for lawyers to allow lawyers to divulge confidential client information if "reasonably certain" to prevent death or substantial bodily harm.  The old rule was "imminent".  This rule change was prompted in large part by the Goodyear tire lawsuits, in which many lawyers knew the tires were killing people, but were unable to sound the alarm to the press because of the confidentiality rules.  The settlements with Goodyear included confidentiality clauses, so for nearly a decade no one knew that the tires were exploding and killing people.  Now, those lawyers would be able to tell the proper authorities and the problem would hopefully be fixed earlier.
Interestingly, this rule change has no effect in California, which has the most strict confidentiality rules - I cannot divulge confidential client information for any reason, even if it means someone else dies.
In other legal news, today the California Supreme Court held that gun manufacturers could not be held liable for deaths caused by their guns.  Gun control advocates are already blasting the court for the decision.  But in order for the court to hold the gun manufacturers liable, the manufacturers have to be found "negligent."  The California legislature passed a law saying that as a matter of public policy, gun manufacturers are not allowed to be held negligent for deaths caused by their guns.  Therefore, the California Supreme Court could not legally find the manufacturers negligent, and therefore liable.  The courts only interpret the law.  If you don't like the law, complain to the legislature, not the courts.  
August 5, 2001
My Big Brother predictions, in order of getting booted:
1. Will
2. Kent
3. Bunky
4. Nicole
5. Krista
6. Hardy
7. Monica (winner)
August 2, 2001
99% of the time when I call a business, all I want to know is their closing time.  It is such a pleasure to call a business who answers their phone, "[name of company], we close at 9pm".  I don't have to ask anything - I can just say "thank you" and hang up.  The Home Depot in Campbell answers their phone "Thank you for calling Home Depot, where we close at 9pm tonight."  The Walgreens in Campbell answers their phone "Walgreens, open 24 hours."  What a great idea.
July 28, 2001
Brian Palmer Gilbert of San Jose has been charged with two felonies in connection with the death of his 5-month old baby boy.  The baby died after Mr. Gilbert left the baby in a hot car last week for 2 hours.  Mr. Gilbert has told investigators that he "simply forgot" the baby while he went inside a friend's house to watch a movie.  He forgot the baby?  I can understand forgetting your cell phone, or your wallet, or your car keys, but how do you forget your baby?  Mr. Gilbert should be put in a hot car and forgotten as a way to weed out the stupid people from this world.
Why do people who do bad things always have three names?
July 27, 2001
Goodbye New Jersey.  Goodbye 6:30am fire alarms.  And buffet food.
It was time for a slight redesign of the website.  Some pages got consolidated, some got eliminated, and the front page got reworked.  Most of the pages containing my political and social commentary got appended to the Etc. Archive.  If you're looking for the page that describes how to rewire three way switches, here it is.
Why I'm A Tax Lawyer
"Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."
                                 -- Justice Learned Hand1
One of the side effects of being an attorney is that people frequently ask me what type of attorney I am. They are probably hoping for something interesting, like death row appeals, civil rights, or environmental law. When I say "I’m a tax lawyer," I immediately see their eyes glaze over with boredom.
It’s true that there is not a lot of glamor to tax law. Most of my time is spent analyzing the tax code and court cases and administrative rulings which have interpreted the tax code. It is my job to apply these resources to my clients’ situations, to minimize the amount of money that they have to pay to the government.
I think that job is very interesting, and a challenge which I enjoy. I believe that people have a duty not to pay any more taxes than the government can legally demand. Otherwise, we are not challenging the government’s powers. When we fail to keep those powers in check, we surrender our liberty. My career allows me to put that belief into practice every day.
The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution established the Federal Income Tax in 1913. Since its inception, there have been many court cases which affirmed and reaffirmed the obligation of citizens to pay tax to the government.2 However, citizens also have a right not to pay any more taxes than what they legally must pay. U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland said that, "The legal right of a taxpayer to decrease the amount of what would otherwise be his taxes, or altogether to avoid them, by means which the law permits cannot be doubted."3
Western jurisprudence has created a judicial presumption of immunity from tax unless it is clearly imposed, and the freedom of taxpayers to arrange their tax affairs in such a way as to minimize tax is a right, provided that the means used are effective at law and they do not seek to conceal or misrepresent the true situation.
The duty of tax lawyers and the role of accountants is to defend that right, and to ensure that the citizens are not forced to pay any more taxes than the government can legally claim they are obligated to pay.
In the words of Judge Learned Hand, "Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible … for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands. Taxes are enforced exactions not voluntary contributions."4
That is why I am a tax lawyer.
1Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 810 (1934).
Brushaber v. Union Pac. R. Co., 240 U.S. 1 (1916); Bowers v. Kerbaugh-Empire Co., 271 U.S. 170 (1926).
3Gregory v. Helvering, 293 U.S. 465, 469 (1935).
4Commissioner v. Newman, 159 F.2d 848, 850-51 (2d Cir. 1947).
July 26, 2001
The further east you go, the worse the Chinese food gets, and the more strange the people get.  At least it seems that way.
July 19, 2001
The question is not why did these companies go public, because any company can go public, but rather why did people buy stock in these companies?
July 17, 2001
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported today that they are have lost track of 449 weapons and 184 laptops.  You'd think they could ...... investigate ...... that.
July 13, 2001
Jennifer Daughenbaugh, an investigator for the Santa Clara County Probation Department, was assigned to write the pre-sentence report for Judge Kevin Murphy inPeople v. Andrew Burnett.  Jennifer failed miserably in her duty to serve the public by recommending that Andrew Burnett, who threw Leo the Dog to his death, serve no jail time but rather be placed on probation.  She had the nerve to suggest that the community would "benefit" by placing him on probation (as opposed to placing him in jail).  She said that Burnett has shown "remorse for the victim and accepts responsibility for the death of the dog."  Really?  It didn't look that way to me when Burnett was interviewed on 20/20 two weeks ago and acted very smug about the incident.
Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy, an all-around bright guy, choose to ignore Jennifer's recommendation, and instead sentenced Burnett to three years in jail (the maximum allowable sentence).  Usually judges follow the pre-sentence report, but Judge Murphy clearly recognized the danger Burnett poses to society.  Three cheers for Judge Murphy.
July 12, 2001
The ultra-conservative "Alliance For Marriage" has proposed a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage.  I guess these folks don't have anything better to do, since there is no chance of the Constitution ever being amended about something so controversial.  Merely officially proposing such an amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, as well as two-thirds of the legislatures of the states.  The final amendment must then be ratified by the legislatures of 75% of the states.  There's no chance in hell they can get that many people to agree on anything, let alone something even remotely controversial.
Let's look at the last few amendments that have been approved:  #27: Compensation of Senators and Representatives.  #26: 18 year old voting age.  #25: Order of succession to the presidency.  #24: Qualification of electors.  Those are all boring!  There's no chance of ratifying an amendment about anything controversial.  That's why flag burning and abortion (and heck, even women's rights!) failed.
July 9, 2001
Rep. Gary Condit made the same mistake Bill Clinton made.  He thought that if he denied it, it would go away.  That didn't work for Bill, and it didn't work for Gary.  Bill found out that when the truth finally came out, the repercussions were worse than if he had been truthful up front.  For Gary, I think he's in deep shit no matter what.  It was clear from the beginning that something was improper about Gary's relationship with Chandra.  Politicians like Gary don't have 24 year old female "close friends".  They have affairs with 24 year old females.  And this one is missing.  Fingers are pointing to Gary, as well they should.  I'm putting my money on Gary or his wife. 
July 7, 2001
Oregon outlaws self-serve gas.  Apparently it's part of their state employment program to keep everyone employed.
I overheard this from employees of the Department of the Interior:
"That's freakin' weird." (explaining Darwinism)
"Big birders" (describing people who watch birds)
June 30, 2001
The AT&T Cable repairman who came to fix my HBO bragged about all the great services AT&T would be rolling out to my neighborhood in the next 18 months.  Cable modems, local phone service, more channels.  My experience just trying to get cable T.V. with AT&T has been so painful I cannot imagine getting any other utilities from them.  If I had a choice, I would prefer to get my cable tv from someone else (maybe the water company?), but AT&T has a monopoly with the city.
All you white guys who married Asian women, tell your wives to check out Monolid Magazine
June 28, 2001
Today the Supreme Court ruled that states may not specifically ban tobacco advertising around schools and in businesses, because such a ban violated the First Amendment.  In related news, a poll released today shows 40% of Americans think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
June 25, 2001
Headline: "Texas Mother's Mental State May Be Best Defense".  That's an understatement.  When she opened up the door to her house and told the police officer, "I just killed my children," that pretty much closed the doors on any other defense.
June 22, 2001
On June 19, Andrew Burnett was found guilty of felony negligent cruelty to an animal, which resulted in the death of Leo the Dog.  He will be sentenced on July 13.  He could be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison.  I think a more appropriate sentence (if it were up to me to write the sentencing guidelines) would be to drag him out of his SUV and throw him into the path of an oncoming semi.  Maybe then the smirk on his face would disappear.
Speaking of dogs, what is it with people keeping pit bulls as pets?  Shawn Jones, currently clinging to life in Oakland, has had his two ears ripped off his head, and his face, head and arms have been permanently mutilated by the dogs.  This happens far too often.  The government should sponsor a program where they exchange cute little beagles for each pit bull dog that gets turned in, kind of like those "cash for guns" programs.
June 18, 2001
My bar of soap lists "soap" as the main ingredient.  Oh.
June 14, 2001
At my bus stop in the morning, there is usually a woman who gets on the bus with me who is not a native English speaker. She has told me that she is taking English classes during the day. Occasionally she asks me to explain an English word or phrase to her. Today she had an e-mail with her which contained a bunch of redneck jokes. So I had to explain each joke to her, and try to help her understand why they are supposed to be funny. I think we both learned that if you have to explain why a joke about marrying your cousin is funny, its not funny any more.
June 11, 2001
I don't know ... I'm not really satisfied that executing Timothy McVeigh was the best thing we could do.  I was (and continue to be) all for executing Richard Alan Davis, for killing Polly Klass, but I lacked the same enthusiasm for executing McVeigh.  I'm not sure why, after all, McVeigh inflicted much more carnage than Davis.
June 10, 2001
The religious protesters at the corner of Market and Santa Clara streets were so ... annoying.  Can't they just let people be happy?  Who gave them the authority to tell other people what is right and wrong?  Amazing Grace as an amazingly appropriate response. 
June 7, 2001
I walked around the neighborhood this evening.  It was humid, but not hot.  A fan in the window would have cooled a house down nicely.  I couldn't believe how many people had their air conditioners on.  One house even had its outdoor holiday lights lit up. I wonder if those are the same people who are saying, "we're doing all we can to conserve electricity, and our PG&E bill is still through the roof!"  Holiday lights in June?
June 4, 2001
Got this e-mail today:  "This is not a SPAM. You are receiving this because you are on a list of email addresses that I have bought."  Oh, ok, I guess that isn't SPAM.
May 30, 2001
Headline: "Bush Kids Tried To Buy Booze."  For the second time in a month, Jenna Bush was caught by the police trying to buy alcohol, this time with a fake ID.  My goodness, can't someone control these kids?  Hasn't anyone told her that her daddy is the president, and she needs to be on her best behavior?  Didn't she learn anything from her arrest last month?  These are not the signs of an intelligent family.  My goodness, if Chelsea Clinton got in this much trouble, the media would have been all over her like jam on toast.
May 27, 2001
The State Bar released the results of the February 2001 California Bar Exam on Friday.  One of my classmates finally passed the exam ... after taking it four times over a two year period.  He is an inspiration for everyone who has had to retake the exam.  I am so thankful that I passed the first time.  It's really a horrible measure of how good of an attorney a person will be, but I guess it's the best system they've got.
If you ever get a burning desire to replace a door in your house ... fight the urge ... it's not quite as easy as Steve makes it looks on This Old House.
May 21, 2001
I was in the bathroom at work today and I heard the beeping sounds of someone using their PDA from one of the stalls.  That just seems weird.  Although, if it had wireless internet access, you could e-mail the facilities people if you ran out of toilet paper.
May 20, 2001
I went to the Campbell Prune Festival this weekend, just a few blocks from my house.  There weren't many prunes there ... hardly any.  Lots and lots of people, though. 
May 18, 2001
This month's PG&E bill: $22.00.  That clothes line out back was a good investment.
May 16, 2001
Nathaniel Brazill, age 14, was sentenced to prison for 25 years today for second-degree murder.  Testimony in the trial showed Brazill was sent home early from school last May for throwing water balloons. He retrieved a gun, returned to the school and shot his teacher in the head at the classroom door.  Defense attorneys argued he made a "mistake," and that he should be found guilty of manslaughter, not murder.  I haven't thought much about whether it's good to try teenagers as adults or not, although if they're going to be engaged in adult activities such as carrying guns, then it seems logical to hold them to an adult-level of responsibility.  If it were up to me, I'd put Nathaniel's parents in jail for 25 years also, for completely failing as parents.
May 13, 2001
Target stores in California sell a lightening bug catcher that is supposed to act like a lantern. Only problem is that we don't have lightening bugs in California.
Leave it to the FBI to screw things up. Timothy McVeigh all but volunteered to be executed, and the FBI couldn't help but withhold over 3,000 documents related to his case. This could conceivably drag things out for 10 years or more. Good going, FBI. Between this and their spy problems, they're looking mighty incompetent.
May 11, 2001
I get on the bus to work near an elementary school, and the kids these days are pulling around their books and supplies in airline luggage - the carryon kind with wheels.  What the heck is in there?  Why do elementary school kids have so much crap to lug around?  I don't think I even had a backpack when I was in elementary school. 
May 9, 2001
Goodbye, Mrs. Landingham.
May 8, 2001
The California Supreme Court yesterday outlawed jury nullification - the process by which juries vote what they feel should be right, and not necessarily what the law requires them to do.  Jury nullification has been around ever since the invention of juries, and I'm sad to see it go away, because there are a lot of cases in which I would have voted my conscience and not with the law, although I think juries will still vote their conscience, only now give different reasons for it.
April 30, 2001
My facts for the day:
Did you know that sharks are the only interauterine cannibals in the world?  The fetuses prey on each other in the womb until just one remains.
What do tennis courts have in common with lungs?  They both have the same surface area.
April 29, 2001
Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.

End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev. 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev. 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev. 24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan. 
April 28, 2001
So one of President Bush's daughters got cited for underage drinking.  I'd hate to have been that police officer ... I mean, can you imagine, giving the president's daughter a citation for anything?
I'm now beyond the point of no return for getting a Palm.  I know, I've got to be the last person getting on this bandwagon, but I didn't realize how much I needed one until now.  I've been using Desktop 4.0 for a week now, and I love it.  The calendar and phone book are super - better than any other PIM I've used before.  It's too bad there isn't built-in e-mail, but hey, I can't ask for everything.  A week from Monday I'll get the Palm Vx. 
April 26, 2001
Did you know that it is illegal to ride a bike on a public road while wearing headphones?
April 24, 2001
Captain Scott Waddle, the former commander of the USS Greeneville, is a good man.  Yes, he was in command of a submarine that collided with a Japanese fishing boat full of high school children, killing 9 aboard.  Nothing can diminish that.  But Captain Waddle did something that few public figures have done in recent years:  He took responsibility for what he did.  With no concern for his own considerable legal exposure, Captain Waddle has repeatedly and frequently made heartfelt apologies for what happened.  He takes full responsibility for his acts, and insists that the buck stops with him.  He does not blame others - not the crew, not the civilians on board, and not the Navy.  He takes full, undiluted personal responsibility.  Bill Clinton didn't do that for his sexual escapades, and George Bush didn't do that for his DUI and drug use.  This captain is someone to respect, and he is a good man who made a mistake and fully owned up to it.
My dental insurance (MetLife Dental) has an 800 number for me to call to verify benefits, but the customer service representatives consistently give out wrong information.  I'm always amazed what we allow health insurance companies to get away with.  
April 22, 2001
The annual retreat to San Luis Obispo was great!  Cal Poly's Open House was good - we watched the Robot Rodentia (electronic robot maze competition), looked at the exhibits by the school clubs, ate lots of good food, and generally had a good time.  The weather was good, and we were able to stop at the beach and play a round of mini-golf at the World's Most Difficult Miniature Golf Course.  We also enjoyed Sycamore Mineral Springs, which is a great spa to visit if you're in the area.
What is it with people who don't follow the "every other car" rule when there's a traffic jam in a parking lot?  I hope they get hit by a big-rig.
And these folks who have $400 electric bills this month ... mine was $32, and that's for gas and electricity ... what are these people doing with their electricity that causes them to use 10 times more than me?  I can't imagine.
How's that war on drugs going?  Last I heard, the CIA just managed to score a big hit by shooting down a plane with a missionary family, killing a woman and her baby.   Good job.
April 19, 2001
I'm getting ready to join the 21st century and buy a Palm Vx.  I compared it to the Handspring Visor Platinum, but the Handspring just seems too plastic.  Plus the Palm has an upgradeable OS.  So now I'm converting most of my stuff - calendar, address book, etc. over to Palm Desktop to upload to my Palm Vx, which I hope to get next week.
Palm's Desktop 4.0 impresses the heck out of me as a PIM.  I'd use it even if I wasn't getting a Palm.
April 15, 2001
I had a very productive day yesterday.  I replaced the weather stripping on the front door - now no more air leaks.  I also did some landscaping on the back patio.  And used the new clothesline to air-dry the laundry.  So exciting.
Today is the day that countless Silicon Valley dot-comers who were once millionaires when their stock options went through the roof, but have since tanked, will learn about the Alternative Minimum Tax.  Those folks will be paying taxes on stock that once was worth something, but now is worthless.  The IRS never intended the AMT to apply to people in this situation, but it does, and all over the Valley people are waking up, wondering how they will pay their tax bill.
April 13, 2001
Finally, justice is being served:
I couldn't help but smile this morning when I heard that Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel got evicted from their apartment last night.  And they have no money to pay for a private attorney.  Maybe they should just stay in jail to get the free food and shelter. 
Andrew Burnett has been arraigned on felony charges in connection with the killing of Leo the Bichon Frise last year at the San Jose Airport.  Maybe someone should yank Mr. Burnett out of his car and throw him in front of another car and see how he likes it.
Today is Friday the thirteenth.  It's also Good Friday.  Doesn't that seem like an unlikely combination?
April 12, 2001
No, we didn't apologize, nor should we have.
We expressed "sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft" and that "we are very sorry for their loss."  We then said that "we are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance."  That language merely expresses our sorrow for their loss and our sorrow that the aircraft and landing did not have clearance.  The language does not acknowledge responsibility for the loss or the lack of clearance - it merely says that we are sorry that the events happened.
I can be sorry that the stock market went down, but that doesn't mean I had anything to do with it, or that I am apologizing for my role, if any.
An apology would have been, "We are sorry that we caused your pilot to die, and your plane to crash.  We are sorry that we did not get verbal clearance to land our plane on your island."
It's like when Dr. Laura said, in reference to some comments she made, "I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community."  She wasn't saying that she was sorry she caused the hurt - she was merely saying that she was sorry the gay and lesbian community was hurt by her words.  It's two different things - one is an apology, one isn't.
April 11, 2001
Okay, Netscape users, I changed the color scheme!
Channel 5 news reports that the car belonging to Marjorie Knoller was vandalized.  The 1969 Mercury Cougar was spray-painted, its tires were flattened, and the windshield smashed.  Well, Marjorie, what goes around comes around.
Moved here from some other pages on this website:
  • Why aren't there any female game show hosts on TV?  I have never seen a game show, including ones from the 70's and 80's, with a female host, other than shows from Great Britain.  [Mark correctly pointed out that Weakest Link, a British Import Millionaire-like game show which debuts next week, does have a female host, who is also a British Import].
  • There is a new study that shows joining an online community of more than 50 million people globally is causing increasing loneliness and depression. Doesn't that seem odd?
April 10, 2001
I wonder how they would react if they knew the person vacuuming their floors was an attorney who normally bills several hundred dollars an hour for his work?
April 9, 2001
Remember the TV show Murphy Brown, where the running joke was that each show Murphy had a new secretary?  That's kind of like where I work.  Every week, we have a new receptionist.  I guess they're from a temp agency or something.  Anyhow, today's receptionist answers the phone "PricewaterhouseCooper."  Every time I come down the stairs or out of the elevator, I hear "PricewaterhouseCooper."  I must have heard it 20 times today.  The problem is, the name of the company is "PricewaterhouseCoopers."  With an "S".  Anything less is terribly annoying.
April 5, 2001
The good news was announced this week:  The TV show First Years was cancelled.
April 3, 2001
George Bush is handling his latest foreign / military mess by telling the Chinese government that they had better not be snooping around in our spy plane that made an emergency landing in China.  So ... it's ok for us to spy on them, but we're supposed to be outraged when they spy on us (if looking at a plane that landed in their country can be considered spying)?  What a hypocrite!  Of course China is going to look at the spy plane.  We would do the same thing if a Chinese spy plane landed in America.
March 28, 2001
Hurrah for the grand jury indictment of Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller!  These two people are some of the scummiest lawyers I have ever heard of.  For example, trying to blame the dog attack on the perfume that Diane Whipple was wearing.  As far as I'm concerned, even if Diane did wear perfume that attracted the dogs, that in no way mitigates Noel and Knoller's fault for having such vicious dogs in that apartment building.  I think the prosecutors will have a difficult time proving second degree murder for Knoller, but I hope they are at least found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and disbarred. 
March 27, 2001
Power is expensive in California.   Gas for cars is expensive.  Gas for heating is expensive.  Electricity is expensive.  When the PUC raised rates 40% today, the newspapers and evening news was full of interviews with people saying that they were paying close to $200 a month in electricity bills now, plus the 40% increase next month.  The question I think needs to be asked is, "Why are you using $200 of electricity each month?"  My electric bill for February was $26.  That supplied enough electricity for two people to live normally, in an average sized house.  I think people who are using $200 a month in electricity aren't doing their part to conserve, and we shouldn't feel much sympathy for them.
I tried to watch First Years again last night.  I turned it off after 15 minutes, when one of the "first year" lawyers asked another, "What does TRO stand for?"  It is inconceivable to me that a lawyer, fresh out of law school and fresh out of the bar exam, would not know that a TRO stands for "temporary restraining order."  It's like a doctor asking, "What does ICU stand for?"
March 22, 2001
How many more high school shootings will it take before we get the guts to take steps to end this embarrassment?  This is not what the authors had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment.  It's no longer acceptable.
March 19, 2001
OK - I'm going to try this again.
I just watched the debut of First Years, a TV show about a bunch of lawyers in their first year of practicing law at a big law firm.  Let me just say that there are not that many good looking people in law school.  And there is nothing exciting about the first year of practicing law for a large firm.  This show is destined to fail.  Why did they ever think it would succeed?  What demographic are they going after?
I did my pro bono work tonight at Lawyer's In The Library.  Yes, it's true:  If you run up a lot of debt on the credit cards, eventually they're going to want their money.
March 5, 2001
Some people think that they have a First Amendment right to free speech on the internet, i.e. in chat rooms or message forums.  They don't.  Unless the chat rooms or message forums are run by the government (including a public school), or the government is trying to shut down the forum, there is no First Amendment right to free speech in that forum.
February 22, 2001
The 2001 Grammy's was not without much controversy.  Rapper Eminem, well known for his homophobic lyrics, sang a duet with Elton John, the well-known flamboyant gay singer who was one himself well known for controversial lyrics.  The media did its part to stir the controversy by interviewing people who said they were offended by Eminem's lyrics.  But even more pronounced were the interviews with musical celebrities who supported their colleague and defended his lyrics with the First Amendment.
On the days leading up to the Grammy's, it was hard to turn on the TV and not hear some entertainer discussing the merits of the First Amendment.  Of course, it was no surprise that the entertainers are not experts on Constitutional law.  The First Amendment had no relevance to Eminem's duet with Elton John.  There was absolutely no threat of the government interfering with the Grammy's.  Eminem's right to speech free of government restriction was never threatened.  More interesting than this display of Constitutional ignorance was the fact that the First Amendment was the only defense the entertainment industry had for Eminem's lyrics.  Since that defense did not apply to Eminem's performance at the Grammy's, one wonders what defense is left for the lyrics.
January 16, 2001
Western Appliance: I bought a washer, dryer and refrigerator from this chain of appliance retailers. I choose a delivery date, and stayed home from work to await delivery. My purchases never arrived. They explained that the shipping paperwork got lost. So a new delivery date was chosen, and again, I stayed home from work. No delivery. This time, the shipping paperwork wasn't the problem - they simply forgot to put the appliances on the truck. I vigorously complained, and they dispatched a special delivery truck to bring me my purchases later that day. It shouldn't be that hard.
AT&T Broadband: This company is the sole provider of cable service where I live. Believe me - if they had competition, I would choose the competition. All I needed was for AT&T to switch the cable account from the previous owner of my house to me. I'll spare you the details, but the bottom line is that it took over nten phone calls to their customer service people, putting up with sales pitches that rival used car salesmen, and finally reaching a manager to change the account. It shouldn't be that hard. I then made an appointment for them to come out and install a new outlet in my house. The first visit was unsuccessful because the installer lacked the proper key to access their cable distribution box. The second visit was unsuccessful because the installer disconnected my cable, rather than connect it (and this in turn took two additional visits to remedy). The third visit was never scheduled, despite promises by the manager to do so. I finally gave up and installed the jack myself. The nightmare finally ended when I wrote a nasty letter demanding my money back. Who ever thought that utility monopolies were a good idea?

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