Sometimes it rains in California

So, I just looked out the front door and noticed that my car was wet, the sidewalk was wet, and water was all over my porch. I wondered for a moment if my sprinklers had misfired or someone was playing with my hose, still attached to the front spigot.
The sky was clear; I went to the backyard — which was also wet. Then a drop of rain fell on me. And another. I looked up to see one dark cloud, just over my house. Yes, for a few moments, there was rain in July in San Jose. And after the brief — I hesitate to call it a shower — that old familiar scent of summer rain is in the air.

When geeks collide

You got Star Trek in my Monty Python!
You got Monty Python in my Star Trek!
Hey, two tastes that go great together!

I miss Ben and Jerry (mostly Ben)

Since my parents flew back east, oh, a week or two ago, I’ve been left to fend for myself. I’m not really doing all that great a job of it. You see, I don’t cook — unless it’s a big deal, like having people over or something. My usual eating habits involve something that is pre-packaged and prepared that goes into the microwave for 4 minutes.
So, I’m having difficulty meal-wise. For the first week after they were gone, I lived on leftovers. But now, I’m on my own. And inadvertently, I’ve become a vegetarian. Except for the scrambled eggs I had for breakfast yesterday, for the last week I’ve eaten no meat, which is very unusual for me. I’m a carnivore, you know.
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Over there, over there

Mah sistah Sara is participating in this year’s Blogathon, in support of Invisible Children. Head over to Zen la la to read months worth of entries, all in one day!

Who are all you people?

I hadn’t even noticed, but in the last day the odometer on the blog turned over to a million hits! that’s an average of 143,216 hits per month — a vast increase over last year, when I averaged 85,910 hits per month.
And yet, those Google ads at the bottom have only generated about 40¢ in revenue.
Word of warning to all these new readers: you get what you pay for around here.

While Rome is burning

What am I doing? Why am I not posting constantly, long screeds about the wreckage of our civilization, falling down around us? Why no comments on yet another war in the Mideast? The Senate moving us ever closer to forcing women to reproduce whether they want to or not? Bush sending more troops to Iraq? Lance Bass coming out of the closet (but not until he’s dating a super-hot hunk)? The White House coming with legislation to make legal something the Supreme Court said was illegal? Bush claiming that stem cell research was murder, and with the other hand causing the deaths of untold thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq? The Congress, with no other pressing issues before it, spending time claiming that The Pledge of Allegiance (even the title sounds fascist and un-American to me) is part of our country’s “spiritual history” despite the fact that it was written only 114 years ago, less than half our nation’s history; and the “under God” but was only added in in 1954?
I don’t want to exacerbate my blood pressure or stress levels, of course. I could probably find a way to blame my heart attack on George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and all those other creeps — by the way, why is it that every time I hear Condoleeza Rice’s name in conjunction with the title “Secretary of State” I think that the commentator has made an error?
It is very easy, I’ve found, to slip out of reality and pay no attention to politics or the horrors around the world. And now I feel as if, by doing that, I have become one of those non-voting, non-engaged people who sat back and let things happen around them, part of the problem through inaction.
Give me a few weeks. I’ll be back.

Still hot, but could be hotter

Things could be worse. Even though it is 100° right now in San Jose, the humidity is an astonishing 23% — that means that the heat index is 98°, it feels cooler than it is. If this had been DC, the humidity would have left it feeling 120° by now.

I was prepared today: I closed the blinds and drew the curtains before it got hot (although, it was already in the 80s when I got up this morning). The air conditioner is set at 85°, and I spent nearly the entire day in my bedroom under the ceiling fan. I admit that I didn’t go out walking this morning, but since it was already hot I figured that discretion was the better part of valor, especially when talking about walking in excessive heat with heart trouble.

Last night as I was drifting off, the phone rang with a call from my sister, who got married yesterday. I was supposed to be there — but sitting in a narrow, confined airplane seat for 6 hours only a week after a heart attack seemed like a bad idea.
I certainly wouldn’t have stayed up past 1am drinking with my siblings; still, I missed being there, not just to see my sister’s big day but also to see relatives I hadn’t seen in years. Time is flying by for all of us, and since I see some of these people once every 10 years or so, I feel like there are some relatives that I might not have the chance to see again.

And to my brother Pat, who is certainly reading this: you may have been drunk last night, but you still promised to stop smoking on Monday. Don’t want to make heart attacks run in the family, you know.

It’s not the heat, it’s the air conditioning

Wow, it was hot here today. Temps hit 102° here in San Jose, and while people around me are puzzled about the unusual heat, I’m still a bit bemused because the humidity is so low. In fact, one newspaper article was abuzz about the “high humidity” at 54%, a figure that made me laugh. I’m used to summers where we routinely have 97° days with 99% humidity, so this is nothing.
Still, I stayed indoors mostly with the air conditioner set to 81° and fans placed strategically — but my electric meter was spinning like crazy and the shock of last month’s high bill led me to set the thermostat at 85° instead. It turns out that I was just in time, because California is now under a “stage one power emergency.” The total usage of electricity in this heat-addled state is rising past the reserve margins, and one power plant failed, making the situation worse. So, I’ve got things turned off, unplugged the wine cooler, and now the only thing running is the webserver, refrigerator, 3 fans, and the various little power vampires around the house — the cable box and the other little things with lights.
No rolling blackouts yet, but tomorrow is due to be even hotter than today.
Interestingly, the California Independent System Operator — the organization that manages the power grid — has a system where they turn off power by blocks, and your block is listed on your bill. There is one block, #50, which is not turned off because it is designated for “essential services, such as larger hospitals that meet certain criteria, fire departments, police stations, and other vital government functions”.
Surprise! I’m in block 50! I guess this blog is designated as an essential service. Still, it’s on battery backup anyway, so you won’t miss a moment of the fun.

We do more before 10 o’clock

Despite over sleeping, I was up and out of the house at 7 this morning for my 30 minute walk. Thirty minutes is longer than I’d expected. Still, the little voice in my headphones — which I call The Voice of the Shoes — urged me on, letting me know how far I’d gone and how much longer I had to go. (Side note: this iPod gadget is quite cool in that it shows off a new capability of the iPod software. It automatically lowers the volume of your music and the Voice of the Shoe calmly interrupts with a status report, then the music returns to full volume. Not jarring at all. But the capability of the iPod to mix two audio sources like that is interesting given all the rumors of future Apple products, including a mobile phone. This software strings together phonemes and words when reading off your time and mileage elapsed; the phone could speak the incoming caller’s name and number over your music instead of pausing it, as the Motorola phone does. But I digress, as usual.)
When I got home, my iPod announced that I’d walked 1.37 miles in 34 minutes… and just as I was about to remove my earphones, what did I hear but Lance Armstrong congratulating me on my longest workout yet! Makes me wonder if Lance knew, when he recorded that, that he’d be congratulating someone for walking only a little over a mile.
Breakfast, shower, and my morning medication, then it was off on the scooter to the farmer’s market. I figured that if I was going to start eating healthier, I could combine that with a “eat local” approach — at least, to a small degree until I start to get used to/enjoying healthy food. First stop was the farmer’s market on The Alameda, in my own neighborhood. Kind of small, sort of lackluster. Still, I got some locally grown organic strawberries and a nice green pepper. I was also kind of hoping there would be at least a few cute guys there, since The Alameda is the closest San Jose has to a gay neighborhood. I guess that I’m the only gay guy around here who gets up so early. Where are the cute, granola-eating-yet-stylish-hunks? Maybe they only exist in my head.
Then, went to the Santa Clara farmer’s market, in the other direction from my house. Many more stalls here, lots of flowers — beautiful orchids for $10 each, but I couldn’t have carried those delicate flowers on my scooter. Really cute guy, in an intense and offbeat way, hawking organic, cage-free eggs which I wholeheartedly believe in and religiously buy… except that I’m avoiding eggs, or at least their yolks, for the time being. Still, didn’t stop me from looking at him from behind my sunglasses.
And now, back home. Feeling much better now, and much less sore although the lump at the top of my leg reminds me that there is a big old plug in my vein and leaning against a counter or something really reminds me.
I have a bunch of work to catch up on but I just feel so ambivalent about it right now. One of the jobs has been sitting around for months waiting for the client to provide materials; they provided them last week while I was recovering; now I sort of feel like it’s my turn to procrastinate in retaliation. But that would be difficult since I need the money.
So, I guess a few hours of relaxing this morning then back to work. Still, I’ve already done more this morning than I used to do all day.

First steps

Really, having a heart attack is simply one more reason to buy gadgets.
The first part of my plan to get more exercise is to simply walk — most experts say that 30 minutes of walking every day is plenty of exercise for the average person, and that seems like something that I should have no problem doing. There’s only the question of motivation.
Well, today I found the perfect kind of motivation for an Apple-obsessed gadget junkie like me: the Nike + iPod Sport Kit.
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Bite-sized pieces add up to a larger meal

I wonder how most people quantify the cost of real estate — is it an analytical thing, or do they do it by gut feeling, by emotion?
I think I go by emotion, but there is a tipping point where my feeling about a house doesn’t justify the cost.
There is a house on the next street over which has been on the market for a while. It was originally listed at $675,000, now it has been reduced to $669,500. Outwardly, it doesn’t seem any bigger than my house, but in fact it has three bedrooms and two baths instead of my two br/one bath, and 1,028 square feet to my 830. Still, it looks far too small for that price. When priced by square foot, it comes to $651/sf. (My townhouse in Arlington was exactly the same square footage, but had only two bedrooms so I’m afraid that three bedrooms must be very tiny. I sold that place for $416/sf.)
Here’s the surprising part: even though I paid significantly less for my house on the next street — more than $100,000 less — I paid far more per square foot: $674/sf, to be exact.
Like anything broken down into smaller chunks, the higher-priced house is easier to digest: more space, more bedrooms, smaller price. Until you add the chunks together. Like buying something for three easy payments of $49.99 until you realize that you’ve bought a $90 appliance for $150.

They shouldn’t send these to people with heart conditions

The bill from the hospital came today.
This is when I kneel down and thank Kaiser Permanente… and myself for paying a $217 premium for my own insurance every month since I arrived in California.
$125,067.16.
This is just the bill from Good Samaritan Hospital, it doesn’t include the Kaiser costs. Hey, don’t you think a hospital with a name like “Good Samaritan” should be free?
This is for one night in the hospital, the angioplasty, and drugs. $43,080 of that seems to be the stents that were implanted in me, so I now have three teeny tiny bits of mesh in my veins that cost more than my car. Or anything else I own other than my house. Good thing they’re implants, I wouldn’t want to lose something so valuable.
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