February 28, 2008

Organic Bananas

Buying organic foods is becoming more and more popular. Even large grocery chains such as Safeway have been selling some organic foods for a while. For myself, I have slowly but surely been transitioning to organic and locally grown foods over the past few years. I'm making sure to include locally grown foods, because I think it is a higher priority to buy locally grown food than to buy organically grown food because in most cases locally grown foods help your local economy and use less energy overall than organically grown foods. It is even better if the food is local and organic. But I digress. Just this week I started buying organically grown bananas, and I was surprised to find a sticker on each banana that says:

"Visit our Farm at doleorganic.com FARM 003"

along with saying it is USDA certified organic blah blah blah.

So I went to the doleorganic.com website and found FARM 003. You can click here to go straight to it. They have a brief description, some pictures, and even have a kmz file that you can download and open in Google Earth to see where exactly they are farming and packaging the bananas. That is pretty cool. It would be nice if they had a little more information about the operation, but it is nice to see where the bananas are coming from. Unfortunately I can't really buy locally grown bananas, so I'll have to stick with this option for now.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:38 PM

February 26, 2008

The Cost Of Going Green

Becoming more environmentally friendly is really starting to catch on in the mainstream. One example for me is that Timber and I have been doing a fantastic job of bringing our own bags when we go to the grocery store and when we go to buy clothes. Today I read on the San Jose Mercury News website that the public transit agency here in San Jose has been experimenting with hydrogen powered buses. That sounds pretty cool until you see this:

" The most glaring figure: Zero-emission buses - or ZEBs - cost $51.66 to fuel, maintain and operate per mile compared with just $1.61 for a 40-foot conventional diesel coach. They break down much more frequently, and replacement parts are next to impossible to order, according to the report."

and here is a good quote:

"Analifa Bevan with CARB said her agency "is not considering any changes," pointing out that the VTA experiment involves early prototypes and that the next generation of buses will be more reliable and "cheaper to operate than diesel.""

Notice that she didn't give any specifics on WHEN they would be more reliable and cheaper to operate than diesel. So when going green one thing we have to keep in mind is cost. Generally speaking, people would happily go green if it costs the same and has the same convenience level as our current polluting ways. But if you try to make going green inconvenient or cost more, then people generally won't do it. I think most people agree on that. So should public transit agencies be forced to go with a transit option that is 32 times more expensive? I say no EVEN IF they can afford it. Why? Simple economics. Even IF they can afford to go with the more expensive option they should play by the rules of economics which say that they should go with the most COST EFFECTIVE option. That way, in the long run, hydrogen buses and other forms of green transit have to become more efficient in order to compete. I have no doubt that green transit options will drop in price while convential transit options will rise in price, and they will meet somewhere in the middle. But by using economics to decide, you make the green transit options continue to innovate and get better, which is better for everyone in the long run. If you force feed a more expensive green option (even if it can be afforded), you are (1) not using your resource (money) as efficiently as possible, and (2) you are stifling innovation in the green transit options because they don't have to innovate to get the business. So if I were a decision maker in this case I would either scale down the hydrogen experiment or cancel it for a while, but I would definitely not increase it based on it costing 32 times more than the conventional transit option. I would also take surveys of riders to find out how much more they would be willing to pay to take a green transit alternative. But my guess is that riders are not willing to pay 32 times more right now.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:53 PM

February 22, 2008

100 m From the Finish Line

On Wednesday I took the afternoon off and headed to downtown San Jose to watch the finish of the Amgen Tour of California. I got there with plenty of time to spare, so I found a Mexican restaraunt across the street from city hall and had a torta. While I was sitting there eating lunch I noticed a guy sitting in front of city hall with some signs and it looked like he was protesting. I remembered reading about this guy going on hunger strike because he didn't like the name of some shopping center, and this was the guy. So after I finished my lunch I got a picutre of him along with some other seeminly random shots of the finish line scene. The festival that was setup around the finish line was ok. It was mostly the booths of sponsors and some other booths selling bike tires and t-shirts and stuff. Nothing really stuck out. After I'd had enough of walking around taking random pictures I decided to camp out roughly 100 meters from the finish line. That was about 1.5 hours before the first riders were to finish. The good thing about standing there waiting for 1.5 hours was that I could watch the jumbo-tron across the street showing the race going on. And I also spent most of the time talking to the guy next to me about the race. He was off from work all this week and was following the race and watching it in person every day. About 30 minutes before the first racers were to hit the finish line it really started filling up with people. I held on to the barrier that I was attached to and refused to move as people tried to nudge me aside to get up to the barrier too. It is funny how crowds work, after you've been to enough concerts and public events you just know someone is going to try to come along and move you out of your spot. But I held firm and didn't move an inch. If I was in someone's way that was too bad, I waited 1.5 hours to have a good view of the finish and I wasn't about to give that up. :-) We could tell that the racers were getting close when we saw the television helicopters approach. And sure enough, when Robert Gesink and Levi Leipheimer came around the last corner and streaked toward the finish everyone in the crowd went bananas. They flew by in the blink of an eye. Then about a minute later another group of riders flew by. And a little while after that a larger group came by. I don't know how fast they were going, but if you blinked you missed it. After most of the riders made it across the finish line the crowd moved over to the stage for the awards ceremony. I found a spot in the back and took a few photos and then walked a few blocks, jumped on light rail, and headed home. Overall it was pretty cool to see some of the top road bike racers in the world fly by. Next time I don't need to camp out by the finish line, being somewhere less crowded along the race route is fine with me. Oh yeah, I posted my photos here.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:46 PM

February 20, 2008

Tour Of California In San Jose Today

Today is stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California which goes 103 miles from Modesto to San Jose. I am going to take the afternoon off and go downtown to see the finish in front of San Jose City Hall. It should be a good show and I'll try to take some pictures and check out the festivities while I'm down there.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:19 AM

I Actually Agree With Al Sharpton On Something

On my way into the office this morning I heard a piece about how Al Sharpton is against the counting of delegates from Florida and Michigan because they violated Democrat rules and held their Democrat Presidential Primaries before February 5th. I agree with him on that. It just so happens that Hillary Clinton won those primaries, and now she wants to have their delegates counted. It is obvious to me that she is trying to play a dirty trick to get them counted since none of the candidates campaigned in those states believing that they would not be counted. Her name was also the only one on the ballot in those states according to this article. My guess is that if she is able to get them and win the nomination, it will tear the Democratic party apart, and allow John McCain to walk away with the Presidency in the general election. Talk about finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We'll see how this plays out, especially now that Obama has won 10 primaries in a row, but the Democrats may turn out to be just as inept as the Republicans have been lately.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:15 AM

February 19, 2008

Bike Ride And Stray Little White Dog

On Sunday Timber and I went for a liesurly one hour bike ride on the Coyote Creek Trail near where we live. The weather was nice, the hills were green, and there were a lot of other people out enjoying the nice day. On our way back we came upon a small white dog, something of a Lhasa Apso mix on the trail by itself. We could tell that it was old because it walked around like the small robotic dogs I remembered seeing in toy stores as a kid. We stopped, looked at it, and thought about what we should do. We decided that we would find the nearest people and ask them if they had lost their dog. We found some people water skiiing in a small lake next to the trail and asked them, but no one had lost a small white dog. The dog had a collar, so we decided we would check the collar to see if the dog had a tag with a phone number on it. The only problem was that the little white dog didn't let us get close enough to grab its collar. It would run away or show its teeth if we got too close. So we made an educated guess as to which way we should herd it and either get it tired enough to let us check its collar or run into its owner who should be looking for it. Once we got closer to a group of houses we saw a lady walking along the street yelling something. I knew right away that this was the dog's owner. Soon she saw the dog and yelled to it, then the dog wagged its tail and ran toward her. Dogs are wonderful animals but sometimes they strike me as being very stupid. So with owner and dog reunited we were back on our way home. I'm glad that little white dog had a happy ending and I certainly hope that someone would help Wookie the same way if he ever gets lost again.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:36 AM

February 17, 2008

Brunch Party And Test Drive

On Saturday Timber and I went over to Jessica's place for a brunch party. I've never been to brunch party before, but it is just like a regular party except it starts at 11 AM and isn't a BBQ. :-) Timber and I brought our equipment and materials to make crepes (strawberry and banana & nutella). Someone brought a fancy waffle iron, and Jessica had an extra electric griddle. The food included crepes, waffles, scrambles (scrambled eggs, bacon, onions, etc...), bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, toast, etc... Way too much food! Also, there were mimosas (orange juice and champagne). For some reason I remembered the name as samosas, which are obviously different (Indian dumpling thing). And Scott, our resident Brit, said that the British term for it is a Bucks Fizz. I learn something new every day. After we left the party we got Timber's car washed and then headed over to the Acura dealership to test drive an Acura RDX. I read some RDX reviews while we waited for Timber's car to get washed, so I was armed with lots of questions once we got to the dealership. The overall experience of dealing with the salespeople at the dealership was really good, probably the best experience I can remember having at a car dealership. We were able to get a car lined up for a test drive very quickly, and the salesman was friendly, not pushy at all, and very knowledgeable. As for the car itself, the RDX was pretty good overall, and it is still on our list of cars to consider. Here are some of the things I liked about it:
1. Good power and acceleration (turbo).
2. Great handling around corners.
3. All Wheel Drive.
4. Heated seats and side mirrors.
5. Lots of other various good points (well thought out interior, decent technology package, dual climate controls, etc...)

It had a few nice things that I probably wouldn't use too much such as the Sport transmission mode and the paddle shifters. Here are a few things that aren't necessarily bad things but they won't be reasons to buy it:
1. Stiff ride (expected based on the car).
2. Weird storage area in the back. Not very cubic, would be hard to arrange luggage or boxes in the back efficiently. Wookie might not like it back there.

We still have a lot of cars to check out in our search, but our test drive of the Acura RDX did not eliminate it, and I have a feeling that the other cars we check out will be compared to the RDX as the standard.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:26 PM

February 14, 2008

Apple TV Software Update (Apple TV Take 2)

Apple finally released the Apple TV software update that Steve Jobs mentioned at Macworld on January 15th of this year. At the time he said the software update would be out in 2 weeks, which would have been January 29th. But due to various problems (no doubt many defects in the code), they released the software update on February 12th instead, a full 2 weeks after it was originally promised. Before I dwell on the actual software update itself I want to think through this 2 week delay. First, all I can say is WOW, they must have had a lot of problems for it to be delivered after it was promised by the CEO. Either that or someone gave him some really wrong information. Now on to the updated Apple TV. This software update allows users to:

1. Browse and buy music directly from their Apple TV.
2. Browse and subscribe to video podcasts as well as audio podcasts directly from their Apple TV.
3. Browse, buy, and rent movies directly from their Apple TV.
4. Browse photos on Flickr and .Mac directly from their Apple TV.

I played around with most of the fuctionality and have to say that it works as advertised. The only problem I ran into was when I am playing a 30 second song preview, if I pause it, I cannot get it to start playing again. I also decided to rent an HD movie to see if it would be any good. I rented "Live Free or Die Hard", and the download started immediately. Since it was in the middle of the week I didn't test out the functionality that lets you start watching the movie while the rest of it downloads, because once you start playing the movie you only have 24 hours to watch it before it gets deleted. I'm going to wait until the weekend when I can watch it in one sitting.

I also played around with looking at Flickr photos through the Apple TV. I started by looking at mine, and then I branched out to look at photos belonging to people in my contacts list. Overall the functionality was pretty good, but it was hard for me to find the setting to change the music that is played with the slideshow.

Overall I thought the user interface for the Apple TV was pretty well done given the massive increase in functionality. It would be nice to see icons or stars on the movies that are only available for rent. I also think this was a big step forward toward getting wider adoption, but I don't think it will be mainstream until Apple adds dvr functionality. Even better would be partnerships with cable providers to have Apple build the box (cable box, apple TV, dvr) and have people just add an extra few bucks a month to their cable bill for the box. But I doubt that would happen because Apple and the cable companies are competing for movie rental revenue. So Apple could do something like a Tivo/Apple TV hybrid that would probably be widely adopted. But that dvr functionality is not there now and Apple is leaving itself lots of room for improvement for next year's Apple TV Take 3. So overall my recommendation would be to wait for the next version unless the current incarnation of Apple TV just offers too many goodies for you to pass up.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:55 PM

February 13, 2008

The Day Wookie Ran Away

On Sunday Wookie ran away from home for the first and hopefully last time. Overall I'd say he was gone for no more then 15 minutes. It all started when I put him out on the patio while Timber and I took care of some things downstairs. I was going to start another project when I decided to check on him and discovered that he was gone. When I confirmed with Timber that he was really gone I got worried, but I didn't freak out because I thought he didn't go far, I didn't think he would get hit by a car driving through the condo complex, and I didn't think some stranger will pick him up and drive away with him (he doesn't like strangers). So Timber and I bolted out of the house and started the search. She jumped in the car and circled the complex and checked out by the main road while I walked around the interior of the complex along the route that I normally walk Wookie. Near the end of our normal route I deviated a little bit and found him sitting next to a bag of leaves. I shook his leash and he came running to me. He was really happy to see me. I attached the leash and walked him home. Another good thing is that he had his collar on which has my phone number, he also has a chip in him, and he is registered with the city of San Jose, so if animal control did find him they theoretically should be able to call me right away and let me know.

Posted by troutm8 at 06:31 PM

February 07, 2008

I Did Not Expect This

I figured that John McCain would have a big day on Super Tuesday, and he did. According to this article, McCain now has 707 delgates, about 59 % of the way there. Romney, on the other hand, is now up to 294 delegates, which is just 25 % of the way there. But today I saw the news that Romney is suspending his presidential bid. Wow, I did not see that coming. I figured he would be around for at least one or two more primary days before McCain got an insurmountable lead. So now that Romney is out of the race that effectively gives John McCain the republican nomination. Huckabee says that he is still in the race, but he's even farther behind, so it is really over. Now the republicans can get themselves organized to take on the winner between Hillary and Obama. I think McCain has a better chance of beating Hillary than he does Obama, but I personally would rather see Obama beat Hillary.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:48 PM

February 05, 2008

Super Fat Tuesday

Super Tuesday (presidential primaries) are finally here and it also happens to be Fat Tuesday. So if you live in one of the states having their presidential primary today you should go out and vote and then go party afterward! Don't party first and then vote, if you do you'll probably end up voting for Rudy Guiliani or John Edwards. :-) According to CNN, whichever Dem that gets 2025 delegates first wins the nomination, and at the start of today Hillary has 241 (11.9 % of the way there) while Obama has 169 (8.3 % of the way there). So for the Dems today is going to go a long way toward sorting out the winner. You probably won't get a winner outright today, but you'll definitely have an idea on who the odds on favorite will be. I think Hillary will do better than Obama today even though I would prefer to see Obama win the nomination for the Dems. If he wins I would actually consider voting for him in the general election. If Hillary wins I'm voting for anyone but her. I think she has done a decent job as a senator for NY, but if she wins I don't think anything will change. I think Washington DC will be as divisive as ever and she and Slick Willy will bask in the power and crush everyone that didnt' support them in the election. We would also potentially have 4 presidents that consist of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. Maybe we should have a constitutional amendment that says you can't be president if you are a Bush or a Clinton. :-) On the Republican side, also according to CNN, the Reps need 1191 delegates to win the nomination. McCain currently has 111 (9.3 % of the way there) while Romney has 94 (7.9 % of the way there). This is going to be close. Again, I don't think anyone is going to land a knock out punch today, but I think McCain will have some big gains which should make him the solid favorite to win the nomination after today. And that is what I hope happens too. Recently I saw that our Governator endorsed McCain along with Bob Dole. I haven't seen any news about anyone endorsing Romney. So there you have it, get yourself come caffenated beverages and watch the election coverage like a stock ticker throughout the day. It is going to be a long strange trip.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:28 AM

Striker's Den

Yesterday was my first soccer game at the new indoor soccer facility at the Silver Creek Sportsplex near my house. Playing there instead of at Off The Wall Soccer cuts 12 minutes off of my drive time each way, which is always good. The facility itself is really nice and I thought my team would get crushed since we don't know all of the rules and are not used to the field, but we ended up winning 5-2. In this indoor league we play 7 on 7. The field itself is about 30 yards longer than the large one at Off The Wall, also the netting over the ceiling is significantly shorter which means I'll score very few goals as goalkeeper by taking shots from out on front of my own net. :-( I also like to do long passes to the forwards from the back, and having a shorter ceiling will make that more difficult. The goals themselves are smaller overall, a little less wide and a little shorter, which should make for lower scoring games. I particularly like the shorter part because it means that I don't have to jump to reach the top of the goal which is good for me because I've never had a great vertical leap. And the goals are not deep at all. There is a wooden wall about a foot behind the goal line which makes a noise when you hit it. That way it should be really easy to tell of someone scored a goal or not. So overall I'm happy with the new soccer complex.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:10 AM

February 03, 2008


I don't know why, but I really don't like the New England Patriots at all. I think it stems from a few years ago when they beat the Raiders in the AFC championship game which caused the infamous "Tuck rule". In that play, Tom Brady went to throw a pass, decided not to and brought the ball back down to his waist, and then had the ball knocked out of his hands. With that fumble. the Raiders were to win the game and go on to the Superbowl. But the referee said that it was an incomplete pass, and the Patriots went on to win the game. So with that history behind us, I was glad to see the Patriots lose today. I didn't expect it to happen, but I was glad to see them lose. Another reason I don't like them is that their coach is a poor sport. Also, throughout the season, when they would beat teams, they would laugh and talk smack which is also poor sportsmanship. So now they will go down in history as the best team to not win the Superbowl. And that is pretty awesome.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:27 PM

Longest Daytrip Ever

Yesterday Timber and I had the longest snowboarding daytrip ever. It all started when I got up at 4 AM to start getting ready. After Timber and I both got ready, we got on the road around 5 AM then dropped Wookie off at Spots. Then we went and picked up Jessica. After that we were on the road headed for Tahoe. When we got to Colfax we saw that it was snowing and that highway 80 was closed. We asked the cop manning the highway why it was closed and he told us it was closed due to accidents. After we saw that the road was closed we were crushed at the thought of not being able to go snowboarding. So we parked somewhere and weighed our options. We could either turn around and check out free museum day in Sacramento, go watch a bunch of movies, or try to get around the road block and go snowboarding. We opted to try to get around the road block by taking highway 174 to Grass Valley, then highway 20 over to highway 80 near Emigrant Gap. We successfully made it around the road block and slowly but surely made our way to Alpine Meadows. But by the time we got there (11:30 AM), all we could do was snowboard a half day. So that's what we did. But before we started snowboarding we had lunch and hung out with my friend Julia who was there with some other friends. The snow was nice, but it was snowing pretty hard and the wind was blowing even harder. It was very difficult to see, so we had to take it nice and slow. After we were done, we got on the road and were hit by near white out conditions. It took us 2 hours to get from Truckee to Dutch Flat, which generally takes roughly 40 minutes. It is probably not the worst snow conditions I've ever driven in, but it was close. Things got much better after we got low enough to get out of the snow. We stopped for dinner in Roseville on the way back home, and eventually got home at 11:30 PM. Overall it was a very long day.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:56 PM