Archives for February 2005

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How Not to Take a Midterm

I have to be honest with you... I'm not the best of students. That's why it's not too surprising that I got up this morning worried I might have some assignment coming up that I had forgotten about. I checked my syllabi and sure enough, I had a midterm today in my earthquakes class. The downside was I hadn't at all studied for it, but the upside was I actually knew about it before the test itself. In the body I'll give you an encapsulated version of how not to go about preparing for a midterm, but yet how to get off lucky and hopefully get away with it. — Continue Reading...

Fun from Lecture Notes

I'm reviewing for a midterm that I think I might have today, and came across this from lecture notes explaining stress vs. force.

For example: considering the effect of a fat woman wearing flats vs. one wearing spiky heels. The total force on the floor is the same. But the normal stress on the floor is much larger right under the spiky heels because the acting surface is much smaller. The spiky heels will clearly do more damage to a wooden floor (want to try it on your feet??) when the floor gets stepped on.

Political correctness has not yet completely taken over our lives.

Speeding Things Up

I'm trying something new here to speed the blog up. Basically with the server issues I had to downgrade the processor, so for now (until I go buy new hardware for the server) I'm actually proxying requests here and to blogdowntown through to my desktop machine, which is a fairly fast Athlon with 1gig of RAM. Apachebench says that tripled how fast requests are served, so that seems like I good change to me.


More in my series of computer problems... I noticed something weird going on with my server late last week. Then today, well, things got weirder. Like a load over 3.0 with 98% idle CPU and a zombie kswapd. I know that doesn't mean much to a lot of you but to me it means something seriously weird is going on. So I tried to reboot, and got the ever fun Kernel Panic. Right now I'm running again on a different motherboard and CPU, so it looks like the cause may have been hardware. I'll try to break the whole ordeal down more later, but for now I'll just let this load average graph scare the UNIX folk among you:

load average

I realize my cropping cut off the legend. The high step is about 10. First step about 3, second about 6.

A Tale of Two Campaign Emails

I got campaign emails this morning from both Antonio Villaraigosa and Bernard Parks (not personally... just as a "neighborhood leader"). I don't think at this point I want to make much of a comment on the politics of the race, but I've fine to instead take a minute to look at the technical merits of their email solutions. — Continue Reading...

Mmmm... Google Maps

I wasn't so impressed when I first tried to check them out and nothing showed up, but now that my technical glitches are worked out I have to say that Google's new mapping feature is amazing. As many others have said, Google is doing incredible things with building rich web apps, and the map images they generate are gorgeous. Check out this map of my apartment. The only thing I don't see is any map indication of which streets are one-way, but their directions get things right.

Of course, their browser tricks mean not everyone's going to be supported. Sean's still trying to get it to work for him. — Continue Reading...

Flexcar: Spying on the Union Station Car

I had a little time to kill this afternoon so I took the DASH up to Union Station to check out the Flexcar car there. Again I found a regular Civic -- nothing hybrid about it. At least this one looked to have a cd player, though. Only one of the two Union Station cars was in when I was there.

I couldn't find where the Gateway Transit Center cars were supposed to be (though I wasn't sure if they were going to be there). Looking back at the directions I think I could have found them. I'll probably take a look Friday.

Somewhere there's got to be a hybrid. Their site still proclaims that

Flexcar's Los Angeles program offers members a fleet comprised entirely of brand new Honda Civic Hybrids, a car powered by a combination of gas and electricity.

If only that were true.

Update (9:30am): I've just been informed there are currently three non-hybrids in the LA fleet. The cars move around a good bit, but as of right now they're at the Bonaventure (6921), the Union Station car I saw yesterday (6912), and the Holly St. car in Pasadena (6927). Now my goal is to next time get the other Union Station car or one of the Gateway Transit Center cars.

More Experiences on the Bus

Coming to class this morning I walked over to Hill to catch the 81 down Figueroa. I missed the bus I really wanted, but ten minutes or so later made it onto one that got me here right on time.

There were six or seven people on the bus when I boarded. Four of those were a younger black lady, probably mid- to late-twenties, her mom, and two little boys. The lady and her mom were engaged in an excited conversation, so I couldn't help but listen in. It turns out they were headed back home after being in court successfully fighting some sort of an eviction attempt by a shady landlady.

Too often you hear about all sorts of bad situations where tenants get evicted so that landlords can end up charging a new tenant higher rents. It's fun to hear about people who trust in the system to protect them from that sort of thing.

Just a Normal Workday

I know, I've been a bit quiet here over the last few days. That happens sometimes...

Taking public transit to work is starting to become a comfortable routine. This morning I walked to the corner at 9am to catch the DASH D, rode that to Union Station, took the Gold Line to Pasadena, and then caught the 177 to JPL. Not quite clockwork, but it's a workable life. — Continue Reading...

Sizing Up Portable Music

I'm thinking about buying an mp3 player. I never have because the places I listened to music were either my car or a computer. But these days, well, I don't have a car and I spend a lot of time sitting on the bus or the train. So I think it's time. The trendy choice is obviously the iPod, but I don't know if it's necessarily what I'm looking for. — Continue Reading...

Flexcar: My First Trip

I took my first trip with Flexcar tonight. Kathy and I headed out for the evening, getting some food at the Koo Koo Roo on Wilshire (by the Tar Pits), stopping to buy a pair of shoes at The Grove, and then watching A Very Long Engagement at the Laemmle Music Hall 3 farther down Wilshire in Beverly Hills. There was no particular reason for me to drive, but I figured tonight was as good of a time as any, so I walked over to the Bonaventure and picked up the car. — Continue Reading...

TripMaster: A Strategic Plan

Is it funny that it took noticing that people were finding my blog by googling for mta tripmaster to actually make me think of that for finding more info? Weird how that works sometime...

So according to a July report from last year (PDF), the TripMaster was developed internally by the MTA with the goal of eliminated an expensive outside contract. That's a goal I absolutely agree with, and I think they've got the right idea.

But when it comes to implementation... Well... You know how I feel.