The downside of Public Transportation

I am lucky. I get to ride public transport to the office. Heck, there is a tax break, so my employer even gives me a pass to ride for free. About a mile from my house to the train station, so I even get a little exercise. What’s not to love about it?

Well, I will tell you. I seem to share the air in the train with anywhere from 2 to 40 of my peers within the human race. That means that at any one time, somebody is sick on the train.

And many of them are probably contagious.

So, every bug that runs wild through the population is likely to come to my nose.

So far, this year, I have been sick 3 times, twice enough to miss a day or two of work. That is more in 5 months than in the prior 10 years. Ugh. I doubt it is because I have suddenly an impaired immune system. It is just the proximity with disease vectors.

This last week, I took a combination route twice, starting with the bus, which is about 2 blocks from my house. Turns out that a parcel of school kids gets on at Snell and Blossom Hill, and ride for about 5 stops. That was enough to give me a gnarly head cold. Congestion, sneezy, sore throat. Yep, I am miserable.

Thanks Obama.

Free at last

In October 2013, I woke up one day to the news that my hosting provider, MediaTemple, had been bought by GoDaddy. That set off a furious search to find a new home for my web properties. I moved all my hosting away within a few days, but I only moved my domains away after they expired.

Except for two, I just kept getting lazy when the renewal time happened, and at $15 per year (versus $8.92 with my new registrar) it wasn’t a big deal to leave things as they were.

Until last Friday. I got the notification that both WordsByBarbara and ScriptsByBarbara were coming due for renewal. Continue reading →

Music Appreciation: The Nice

Before Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Keith Emerson was a member of a British band, The Nice.

Having started my Progressive Rock trip in the late 1970’s and really by the fascination of the ELP song Karn Evil #9, 1st Impression, Part 2, that got a lot of airplay. If you click the link, I suspect that you will recognize the song.

After this initial introduction to the rabbit hole of Prog Rock, I chased many of the other big names. Pink Floyd, Camel, Yes, Jethro Tull, and so on. This accelerated when I got my driver’s license and began trekking to Santa Cruz, and the used record stores on Pacific Grove Avenue. My collection grew and grew. Continue reading →

Grinds my Gears – Maths

I was going to write something about politics, but the bizarre keeps happening, and is totally dispiriting. So I will talk about something entirely different.

As I am currently working in a role related to education, one of my tasks is to figure out what is out there. You know, competitive investigation.

The other day I was poking around the MOOC’s, and their offerings related to my research, and a class jumped out at me. A refresher on linear algebra with applications in Python (the programming language).

dot productBeing a math geek, and somewhat familiar with Python, I signed up. It was free unless I wanted a certificate (which I didn’t). Continue reading →

Bad commute days

Being somewhat ecologically conscious, I take pride in riding the train to work. Stress free commuting, predictable schedules, and for the most part a hassle free experience.

Bonus is that my employer sponsors a transit pass for my, a tax break for them.

Most of the time it is fine. Sometimes, there are annoyances, like the passengers who reek (either poor personal hygiene, or (far worse) those who smell of being heavy marijuana smokers), or rude passengers, but mostly it is just a joy to settle into a seat, open my kindle, and read while listening to whatever strikes my fancy.

Then the occasional curve-ball is thrown at you. Yesterday was one of these.

I left the office late, I had a couple of documents to finish up, and get submitted, and knowing that I would likely not get to them at home, I just bore down and finished them. About a quarter past five, I walked over to the station in front of the office, and grabbed the train.

About 5 stops into my trip, the engineer comes on and says that the last stop for the trip will be Bonaventura, and that we would have to get out and catch a bus bridge to get around an accident.


We hit Bonaventura, we got out, and to where they said the bus bridge would be. One of the gathering crowd actually called the VTA support line. Apparently there was no bus bridge in operation (liars), so a goodly fraction of us fellow train riders walked to the next station, Component. Alas, the wreck appears to be an auto and a light rail train decided to tangle it up at First street and Trimble.

Caught the next train, and what is normally an hour trip took almost 2 hours by the time I walked across the threshold of the door.

Stupid drivers who play chicken with trains. Dumb.

If I would have left 15 minutes earlier, I would have had no issue.

I swear I am cursed.

Music Mess

My music collection is a mess. They say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. And boy do I have a problem.

I have nobody to blame but myself.

How did I get here?

I first started collecting music back in high school. Of course, back then, the state of the art was dragging a rock along a jagged groove and then amplifying the signal through loud speakers. But, while that might be the start of my collection, that isn’t the root cause of my chaos today. Continue reading →

More VTA Observations


Capital of Silicon Valley? Perhaps. But on April 10th, the VTA changed the schedules of the buses and light rail trains. Here we are, two and a half weeks later, and they still haen’t posted updated schedules at their stops.

How freaking hard is it to print 50 or so posters of the new schedule, and get them posted? Seriously.

And the changes? They moved the times ahead 3 – 5 minutes. That means that I need to leave my house no later 6:30AM if I am to make 8:00AM calls in the office. Sigh.


Continue reading →

Group Dynamics

Some observations I have made, purely anecdotal, about the dynamics in groups. I do not offer these as scientific, or that there is any universal truths, but some of the behaviors are bizarre in the greatest.

Group 1 – Guitar Enthusiasts

Being a Guitar player, Facebook recommended to me a closed group, with about 80K members. Several of my friends were in there, so I asked to join and was accepted.

At first it seemed cool, people sharing clips of their playing, pictures of their guitars, and some general fun stuff. Continue reading →

My VPS Journey

When I began my web journey, oh so long ago (it was 2009), I was somewhat naive. At the time, I was looking for a solid performance, a provider that seemed competent and professional, and made it easy for someone who knows just enough to be dangerous.

Shared Hosting

At the time, shared hosting was the rage, and there were several options, even then. I settled on MediaTemple as a provider, and I was happy. They made no promises about “unlimited” things like disk space and bandwidth, and the few times I needed support, they were great. They weren’t cheap, ad $20 a month, but they worked. Continue reading →

Xfinity Time-wasting

Yesterday, as she was headed out to the gym, the wife tossed over her shoulder that her printer wasn’t working. A simple request for her IT person (a.k.a. me).

Simple, right? Ha ha hahahahahaha.

Log into her computer, and sure enough, the printer is offline. Poke and peek around and it looked like it just couldn’t see it.

Then I tried with my laptop. Same problem. Crap. Continue reading →