Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday night photos

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Front St at Harbor Dr

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Waiting for a train

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Major traffic problems in San Diego

Tonight is the first time the Boston Red Sox are playing here at the new Petco Park stadium. The San Diego Padres and the Red Sox are the two best teams in baseball, Padres in the National League, and the Sox in the American League. The game is sold out, so traffic into downtown (where Petco is located) is beginning early.

Making things worse, there's an accident on I-163 southbound heading into downtown. I just got caught in that traffic. A silver mustang rear-ended a black SUV, looked like no injuries. The worst thing, I think, is that the blue and orange line trolleys are dead until midnight. A lot of baseball fans take the trolley to avoid the downtown traffic blitz, and tonight they can't, so there are tons and tons of extra cars downtown. The power was knocked out when a car crashed into a utility box at Union and C.

It's a zoo around here.

I just dropped off at Amtrak, where there are usually 15 cabs lined up. Today there were no cabs waiting, and at least 10 parties desperate for a ride.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday photos

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Harbor Island looking towards downtown across the bay

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Colored curbs

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Malfunctioning fire hydrant

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Island Ave, East Village

Recent rides for Thursday

I drove two Navy guys from a residential address to the Gaslamp Quarter. They wanted to go to the Rock Bottom Brewery on 4th and G, so I took B St to 4th Ave, then went south. Still half a block from G, there was a red light and I had to stop. As soon as the car stopped, they both got out. One came to the driver window and began to pay. Then the light went green and everyone except me started moving forward. A bicycle cop came up to the passenger window.

Cop: Hey, cabbie, you can't drop off here.

Me: I didn't "drop off" here.

Cop: I'm watching you drop off.

Me: No, you're not. I stopped for traffic and my customers jumped out.

Cop: Well, you can't drop off here.

Customer to cop: I'm sorry, officer, we asked him to stop.

Me: No, they didn't ask me to stop.

I got my money, about $20, and everything was fine after that. If I had a nickel for every time a customer put me into a tight spot with the police, I'd have a much better balance sheet.

Also, I drove a middle-aged man from Manchester, England, who was looking for a "specialized" hair dryer for his wife. We went to three beauty supply places before we found what he was looking for. He said the wife already has a hair dryer, but it doesn't have enough power. "And we must keep the wife happy," he said. "I learned that long ago."

He was a fun customer for me. I asked if he was a Man-U fan, and he said he has executive level tickets (season tickets). They cost him just over 7k pounds. Wow. After San Diego they're going to Vegas to see a Manchester fighter take on a Mexican American. He said he went to Vegas in January to see another English figthter, and that time he brought "the lads." This time, he said, the wife came with. "Can't leave her out of everything," he laughed.

Another one wasn't a ride, but it illustrates bad customer behavior, even when they're not my customers. I was out of zone, parked on the street in front of a coffee shop. I was taking a little break, relaxing and sipping an Americano. A group of four tourists came up to the car.

Guy: Can you take us to Basic?

Me: No, I can't pick up here.

Guy: Why not?

Me: I'm not licensed for pickup in this area. The fine is $2400 if I get caught.

Guy: We have cash, and I'll give you a nice tip.

Me: I can't.

Guy: Can you call a cab for us?

I don't like conversations like these. I don't like taking all the time to explain how the taxi business works. People think my two-way radio is connected to all San Diego taxis. I gave them the phone number for a cab company who can pick up. They called, and right after calling, went to a guy drinking coffee at an outdoor table on the sidewalk. He told them Basic was three blocks away. So they started walking. I'm still drinking my coffee, curbside, when a taxi arrives right behind me. He got out and started looking around, then he dialed somebody on his cell phone. He got screwed, and even if the customers had waited for him, it would have been a $2.60 ride, or so. Not all tourists are like them, but enough are to give all of them a bad name.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Falling down

I just dropped off a guy at a bar, sort of a dive bar. I had picked him up at a nice Hyatt, and I noticed he was staggering as he walked to the cab. The doorman ignored him, which is unusual, but probably normal when an undesirable is around. He got in my car and slurred the name of the bar. When we got there, the meter said a whopping $3.80. He gave me $6, which is fair. After he got out I called "clear" on the radio, took a position at a cab stand (virtual line maintained by dispatch), then began pulling away from the curb. Before I made it two feet, the guy came up to the passenger window.

Him: Hey.

Me: Yeah?

Him: I'm not in trouble for falling down, am I?

Me: (WTF?) Did you fall down at the Hyatt? (If he had fallen down drunk in the lobby of a Hyatt hotel, he'd get tossed. Maybe that's what he was referring to.)

Him: No.

The idiot didn't venture any more information, but he didn't walk away, either.

Me: Did you fall down right there on the sidewalk?

Him: Yes.

I started laughing, and told him I didn't see him, and neither did anybody else. Don't worry about it. He must have fallen and then looked around to see if anybody was watching, then maybe he saw me use my radio and got scared I was calling the police. Ladies and gentlemen: if you drink enough to fall down, you've had enough. Perhaps just enough, but it's time to stop drinking.


I just had an interesting ride. I went to a hotel for pickup, and I was bringing a lady to the nearest hospital. The lady's 80-year-old mother had fallen and hit her head, and she was bleeding badly, and complained of neck pain. When the lady got in my cab, she was crying. We followed the ambulance all the way; no lights or sirens.

Lady: I have to remind myself to breathe.

Me: The medics in the ambulance don't look worried. They're talking to her, and she seems to be responding (it's night, and the light was on inside the ambulance, so we could see everything they were doing; two female medics were attending to the patient).

Lady: You're right. They're kind of like stewardesses, if they look worried, you worry. If not, then things are probably okay.

Me: And, the hospital we're going to has a good reputation (that's true, but I would have said so anyway).

Lady: That's a relief.

I didn't really know if that would be a relief or not. She stopped crying, at least. It was a short ride, and I didn't charge her. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to drive a customer with the meter off, but sometimes breaking the law is the right thing to do. I hope everything turns out okay.

Laptop mounted in car

I finished the re-make of the laptop mount.

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I have misgivings about gluing plastic to a new computer...

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I did away with the cradle, and now put the LT right on the platform, stuck with velcro

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Back in business

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Sunday photos

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Fog on the bay

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Bus crashed into SUV, minor damage

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I shot this from McDonald's on 28th St., National city; Del Taco is trying to poach hamburger customers.

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The real thing

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Nassco shipbuilding

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Lazy defined

1. averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion; indolent.
2. causing idleness or indolence: a hot, lazy afternoon.
3. slow-moving; sluggish: a lazy stream.

I took three days off this week, Mon, Tues, and today. I've been good for a while, working six days a week, but this week things fell apart. I needed to run some errands today, and my civilian car is dead (as in, deceased, finis, kaput). I'm going to donate it to a charity and take the tax write-off. With the sad state of automotive affairs, and I'm feeling too lazy to jump on the motorcycle, I needed the taxi for personal use today.

Cab related stuff on the day off:

1. Pick up a 90-degree adapter for the headphone jack on the laptop. The new LT has the jack in front, which makes for a mess running the wire to the jack on the car stereo. A 90-degree bend reduces stress on the wire, and it's cleaner.

2. Found a 4GB flash drive for $35 at Radio Shack. I'm using it right now with Vista's ReadyBoost and SuperFetch. Tom's Hardware says it speeds up a system a bit. Microsoft is somewhat more upbeat, naturally. I'm trying it mostly because it's just absolutely cool that I can insert a 4GB flashdrive into a USB slot and Vista will use it as a data cache. Science fiction writers were fantasizing about stuff like this just 15 years ago. I may start calling the laptop Hal. Note that I'd never run these things on my desktop because they interfere with games.

Chances are the $35 sale price for the drive is nationwide. If anyone wants one, get to Radio Shack while the sale lasts.

Tom's Hardware on SuperFetch and ReadyBoost:

    Simply spoke, SuperFetch tries to relocate application data from the slow hard drive into all available memory. It utilizes the available capacity to create a so-called warm memory state for the single purpose of making applications available almost instantaneously. However, SuperFetch needs a certain amount of main memory. At only 512 MB RAM size, the feature won't be very efficient, as Windows plus 2-3 applications will already eat up the total memory capacity. There won't be main memory space left to pre-cache application data. If you don't work with multiple applications at a time, 1 GB should be enough to see a positive impact of SuperFetch when compared to Windows XP. However, we experienced the best results at a main memory capacity of 2 GB - more won't hurt either.


    The results are impressive: Using both features, Windows Vista shows off how it can effectively reduce application launch times to provide a better performance experience with your everyday software. At only 512 MB RAM, application launch times decrease from 9 seconds (OpenOffice Writer 2.1) and 10 seconds (Outlook 2007) to 2-4 seconds only. Adding our 1 GB USB 2.0 Flash stick helped to shorten launch times for these applications to 2-3 seconds only. The next conclusion is that Windows Vista with only 512 MB RAM is no fun at all, because applications start much faster only by having 1 GB of RAM. In fact, both Outlook 2007 and OpenOffice Writer 2.1 start even faster on a fresh Windows Vista installation than on our SuperFetch-trained and ReadyBoost-enabled system at only 512 MB.

Here's some test data at Tom's. Note that they analyzed with up to 2GB flash memory; I have 4GB.

3. Fixed a problem with the new laptop's remote control. It stopped working after less than one week. That's a bad sign. I found other people with the same problem in some tech forums, and their solution worked: flash the bios. For non-computer folks, the BIOS is a software layer that boots prior to the operating system. Most people don't mess with a BIOS, but overclockers and tweakers (as opposed to tweekers) occasionally delve into it.

4. I rented the first few discs of Deadwood, Season Three. What a great show. That'll help for the slow times on the streets.

5. Got some plastic sheeting, cut to size, to make the new laptop fit the old mount in the car. Instead of making an elaborate cradle, and then velcroing the cradle to the platform between the front seats, I'm going to put velcro on the bottom of the new laptop. Naturally, that's about as hard as making a fusion reactor. Mustn't cover the cooling vents, and the surface is porous, so the sticky back of the velcro won't adhere. Plus, the rubber feet make the bottom recessed about four mm. My idea is to epoxy some 1" x 1" squares of plastic to the bottom of the laptop, which fixes the recess problem and the porous problem at once. Once the epoxy sets, I can stick the velcro to the plastic pieces. What a pain in the ass. It should be fine once it's finished, though.

I also picked up some coin wrappers and a little plastic thing for helping roll them. I want to deposit my loose change (a couple hundred bucks in dimes, nickels, and pennies), but my bank won't take it unless everything is rolled. See my change post for more info.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finally, some good rides

I picked up a guy in Northpark going to the airport. It was a $22 fare, and he gave me $30. I thanked him for his generosity. He asked me if I pick up at the airport.

Me: No.

Him: So you have to drive somewhere else, empty, right?

Me: Yes.

Him: I thought so. That's why I tip extra to drivers who take me to airports.

Amazing. Simply amazing. I'm going to hunt down a sheet of marble, a hammer, and a chisel. This needs to be written down for all time. Somebody actually took the time to understand how cabbies operate and acts accordingly. I never thought I'd see the day.

After that guy, I got a man named Jason who was in town as an event coordinator for a business conference. He went from a nice hotel to the Amtrak station; he is going up to LA. He does event stuff as his guaranteed income, but his main passion is voice overs. He's an actor in LA and gets a fair amount of work. He does promos, too, like for the "Overhaulin'" series on TLC. Interesting stuff.

Tough beginning

I got Gollum again from a grocery store to her garbage house. It took a half hour, altogether, and I got a total of $4. The fare was $3.60, plus a $.40 tip. I guess she thought that was adequate for folding and storing her walker, plus groceries, then retrieving everything from the car, then carrying everything up to the garbage house. This time when I unlocked it for her, I pushed the door open and backpedaled quickly, so as not to gag on the awful stench.

My 2nd ride of the afternoon involved a pickup at a local high school, where an elderly lady wasn't anywhere near where she claimed to be. After wasting 10 minutes, I found her. It took about five minutes for her to get seated in my car, just as a loudspeaker from the track and field area of the highschool announced that commencement was over. She said: "Oh, my. I don't need a cab, then." So she got out in a record-setting four minutes. Before she had the door closed, a do-gooder citizen walked up to her and asked if she was waiting for the kids, which she was. "Well, everyone's going to the auditorium over there. You may want to get dropped off over there." Then a big conversation ensued about whether she was getting dropped off or picked up. In the middle of this I announced that I needed to move on to paying customers. The do-gooder got snooty. The auditorium was about 100 yards away, and my elderly customer had been talked into taking the cab.

Just as she got re-seated in the car, four minutes later, a guy and two high school kids walked up. It was her son and grand children. The guy was an ass to her. "Where are you going? What are you doing?" Then he walked up to the driver window and stared at me. I looked at the lady and repeated that I had to go. Finally I left, with no passengers and no money. Fucking idiots.

Ride No. 3 was from another grocery store going about four blocks. It was another $4 fare. This one had about five bags of groceries and they needed to be lugged up a very long flight of stairs. She gave me $10. Quiz time: was this passenger over 60, or under? If you guessed under, give yourself a gold star. The over 60 crowd thinks a $.20 or $.40 tip is adequate for not only driving them, but hauling their stuff. Note to self: never will I be become an out-of-touch asshole when I hit the golden years. Arthritis and bad eyesight and whatever other ailments are not good reasons to treat people like dirt.

Five minutes after I dropped her off she called the cab company and said she left some groceries in my trunk. That was not true, which I explained to the dispatcher. They came back with: "She's insistent." My reply: "Insistence doesn't miraculously put something in my trunk that isn't there."

After that, a lady flagged me down:

Her: How much to the Hyatt?

Me: $7

Her: $7?

Me: Yes, $7.

Her: How far is it?

Me: A mile and a half.

Her: And it's $7 to go a mile and a half?

Me: Yes.

Her: How much is the bus?

Me: I don't know.

Her: Do you know where the bus stop is?

Me: No.

After deciding $7 was out of her price range, she exited the cab.

I decided that if I get one more idiot local who thinks cab drivers should be carrying groceries or otherwise jerked around, I'm leaving. Fortunately, the next few rides were worth the effort. I'm still out here, but any more moronic locals and I'm going home to do something worthwhile. Thank goodness I have a job I can abandon as soon as I'm not enjoying it!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sports Arena

This one's from Saturday night. We got a three cab call to a residential address. It was me, one of our Iraqis, Ali, and Carey (the guy who thinks the owner may be putting red light tickets on a dead driver). We arrived early and stood around the street, smoking cigarettes. Three car-loads of guys in their early 20s came out of one of the houses and they all piled in. They were going to the Sports Arena, which is on Sports Arena Boulevard, naturally.

After we dropped ($26 fare plus $4 tip), Carey got on the radio and announced a lunch break. Technically we don't need to do that outside of our zone. You just don't go back for a while. Ali was right beside me, and before he turned off his interior light I saw that look in his eye.

I followed him out of the arena parking lot onto Sports Arena Blvd where we each made a left, heading back towards Pacific Highway. At Rosecrans he abruptly took a right and burned rubber -- literally. The snake thought he had a faster way back to our zone. So that's how it's gonna be, eh? I figured he would be taking Rosecrans up to Midway, then down to Barnett. (Google map.)

I sat in traffic and made my way by the shortest route to Pacific Highway, which means a right turn on Kurtz. When I got my chance to make the right turn onto the PCH I saw light traffic. I'll confess to giving the Falcon a bit more throttle than usual. I made it up to a decent speed, and came up to the place where Barnett merges onto the PCH. Ali had to have been coming that way. Sure enough, I saw his cab coming onto the highway at an enormous rate of speed. It's a sharp curve, and I'd say it was fortunate he's in a police interceptor. I'm not sure a standard Crown Vic would have made it.

Once it was established he hit the highway in front of me, we relaxed and ambled back to our zone (really). When we pulled into the Marriott cab stand, he was all smiles.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The mother lode

Tonight was a cabbie's dream. It was roaring busy from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m., with two lulls in the action -- just enough time to reload on coffee and grab a quick couple of tacos. I grossed just over $400. Before any non-cabbies rush out to the nearest cab outfit and apply, be aware that there are as many $100 nights, perhaps more, as $300+ nights.

But it feels great to hit a big one.

The three rides I remember as interesting (I was too busy to update from the streets) were Gollum, a regular customer from a dive bar, and a drunk couple from a bar just down the road.


Gollum is a regular -- an 80-year-old lady who looks like the Gollum creature from The Lord of the Rings, and she walks and talks like Gollum. It's always a tough ride because she's very needy. I help her as best I can, but I'm never happy about it. She uses a walker (look, I hate complaining about old people, but they are my bane), and takes about seven hours to get from the grocery store exit to the door of the cab. Then I have to load her groceries, stow her walker, and listen to her complain about everything under the sun.

When we got to her house all of the stuff I loaded had to be unloaded, and then I had to take her key and open the front door. I had never done that before. She wanted the groceries placed just inside, and eventually she'd make the slow journey from the car to the house. When I opened the door I was knocked over by the smell of rotting garbage. The gag reflex kicked in, and it took all my strength of will to keep from ralphing. It was awful. I took a quick peek inside, and it's a garbage house! I didn't see any actual garbage -- more like piles of papers and boxes everywhere. There was a skinny little aisle winding its way to the interior. I recoiled in horror. She saw the look on my face and said quickly: "I have somebody coming on Monday to straighten up the house."

That was a lie. Nobody had cleaned up the house in ten years or more. What are the odds a cleaning crew is coming over just about the time a stranger looks inside? Should I call somebody? I read some paramedic blogs (see my sidebar), and I sometimes hear about houses like this. Will she end up dying there, unable to summon help, surrounded by piles of junk? If I call the city, they might condemn the place, and then where would she be? I guess I'll do nothing, but it almost seems that something should be done.

Solo guy

I've driven the solo guy twice before, and his M.O. is to be too drunk to form words. He has been able to spit out his address, so I got him home the first two times, but on each of those events, he paid the exact fare, followed by, "I'm usually a great tipper, but I'm short tonight. I'll make it up to you next time." Yeah, right. I've heard that before. People seem to enjoy saying they're usually a nice person, but tonight I'm going to fuck you over.

Tonight I was shocked to see him sober. He said he had a date with a nice woman who lives near him, and after they concluded their evening, he went straight for the bar. He said the date went well, and they will be going out again. I wonder if she knows her new man is a raging alcoholic? She'll find out sooner or later, probably the hard way, after she develops feelings for him.

The fare tonight was $14, and the guy gave me $20. He said: "When I'm drunk I probably don't tip much, but I always try to make up for it when I'm sober. Sorry if I ever shorted you." Wow. I'll put that into the record books.


The other interesting fare were a 20-something couple -- actually, I don't think they were seeing each other, just friends -- who wanted a ride to Santana's at the edge of Hillcrest. It's Mission Hills, I think, and it's close to the Lamplighter bar. It's a $26 fare, so I was pleased. When we got there, I was happy to learn they wanted to run through the drive thru (Santana's is a Mexican place open late), and then return.

While waiting in a really long line at the drive thru, they were chatting about how much they hate bees. I chimed in: me, too. I explained that a bee caused me to crash one of my motorcycles about three years ago. I was riding along at a modest 30 mph or so with my visor up, when a bee flew into my helmet and into my ear. I flinched involuntarily, hitting the handlebars with my left hand, sending me into a large, dirt bank (I was off-road in eastern San Diego County). I flipped, rolled, and tumbled, nearly wrecking a knee and causing about $2k in damage to the bike. I only have liability on the enduro, so I had to eat the cost. Ever since, bees are my enemy, and I hunt down and kill every one I see. When the news stories broke a few weeks ago about bees disappearing en masse, I was secretly overjoyed. My customers liked the story, but my knee throbbed while I was telling it.

When all was said and done, the fare, plus tip, was $60. A great ride, with great passengers, and I got a free burrito and a Coke from Santana's. It was a nice way to end the evening.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday photos

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Loaner car

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Marriott kids are almost full size

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Friday, June 8, 2007

Laptop up and running

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HP Pavilion dv6000 (6365) now in the car

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New laptop has an ExpressCard slot
rather than PCMCIA, so I had to
purchase a new cellular modem.
I went with a new USB model, which
allows me to put it on the dash -- way
better connectivity than before.
Also, it uses Sprint's EVDO Rev. A,
which is much faster. I get 1.3M downloads,
and 200k uploads. Not bad.

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Built-in remote works with Media Center,
which came with Vista.

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Gadgets are nice (Mac owners: don't laugh!)

Laptop specs:
Intel Core Duo T5600
140GB HD
Intel graphics w/shared memory
Widescreen (15.4"?)
SD card reader (multi...)
1 1394
S-video out
Built-in camera and two mics
DVD/CD burner

All of my most important software runs on Vista, to my relief: OfficeXP, Adobe CS1, SimCity, etc.

Friday photos

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Humming bird at rest

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Alley in North Park

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Light posting

I'm between laptops right now, so posting will be light for a few days. I have the new one, and still have the old, but changing over isn't as smooth as I'd hoped. The negative things I heard about Vista networking (nearly as poor as XP) are well founded.

Question for people smarter than I: Why won't Vista give me a pop-up box asking, "Would you like to create an ad-hoc, wireless network to computer XYZ?" when sitting next to an XP computer? Why is networking so much more time-consuming than connecting to a wireless hotpot? It doesn't need to be, except perhaps for security. If you're thinking, "That guy should have bought a Mac," hold your tongue. I'm too cheap for Mac, and I have an unbelievable amount of software for Windows, so I can't (won't?) change.

Enough of that. I hope to be fully functional soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

New laptop

My first order of business when I get the car will be to transfer my change into bills. I desperately need a new laptop, and I'm too cheap to use my savings account, so I'm going to cash in a year's worth of coins. I got really curious the other night and counted the quarters (leaving the dimes, nickels and pennies), and I have $625. It took a long time to count those suckers, but once I began, I didn't want to stop. And there should be another hundred or two with the smaller denomination coins.

Naturally, there's a problem. My bank claims not to have a coin counting machine. The only non-bank machines I know of in San Diego are the ones located in Von's grocery stores. But, they charge 10%. I'd hate to lose $70 or more dollars. The other options are to exchange the coins for Von's credit -- they don't charge a percentage that way. And I wouldn't need to "buy" groceries for a long, long time with nearly $1000 in grocery store credit. But, then I'd have to dip into savings to get a laptop. Hmmmm. What do do...

I can buy rolling papers and roll all the coins manually, then deposit them at my bank, but that's a huge amount of work. How does such a simple operation become so complicated? I guess it's like everything else in life: it will be as difficult as it can possibly be.

Anyway, my laptop has a bad light source in the display. Every time I open or close the lid, it goes dark. The data is still there -- in bright sunlight I can still read the screen, or when I put a flashlight on it. The only way I can get it back is to press the power button, putting it into Standby mode, then move the touchpad to bring it back to life. Huge hassle, and sometimes the machine shuts down instead of going into standby. The fix is $500, which doesn't make sense considering the whole machine was $660. I may keep using the current laptop at home, with the external monitor feature (I have a spare 19" CRT). I'd like to try Linux on a laptop.

I've been out of the PC-buying loop for more than two years, and things change quickly. So I went to the one place that can get current on everything in a half hour: Tom's Hardware. After carefully reviewing dual core, laptop processors, I plan to get the Intel chip rather than an AMD Turion 64 x2. I based this decision mostly on the L2 cache. It seems Intel has 2MB, where AMD only has 1, and this makes for a noticeable performance difference. And the prices are comparable.

The laptops I'm looking at range from $800 to $1100, which gets me an Intel Core Duo in the 5000 range (midgrade processor), with 2GB RAM, 120GB HD, and the other usual stuff, like TV out, DVD burner, and built-in WiFi. I also want an SD card reader.

Two Gigs of RAM is important to me because Vista is reported to be slow with 1, and it's fairly expensive to upgrade from 1 to 2 later. That's because the 1GB laptops have two sticks of RAM, at 512MB each, which is stupid. If it had a single, 1GB stick, you could just buy a second stick. As it is, you have to buy two 1GB sticks to replace the 512s, which can then be thrown in the trash. This is a con if I ever saw one.

I'll get Vista, although not without some reservations. It's big and slightly slower than XP, but most of the reviews I've read say Vista is worth it. I've been using Microsoft operating systems since Dos 3.x (that's a long, long time), and I've never known a new OS to not be a vast improvement over the old (except Me, which I refused to mess with). My only gripe with XP is networking, but I can always get it to work. Still, I'm anxious to try Vista.

I checked the usual places for pricing, and was surprised that Circuit City has the best prices. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Two years ago when I bought my current Compaq, I found the same thing.
Best Buy
Circuit City
Office Depot

The only laptops I've ruled out are: Lenovo, because I won't buy a Chinese computer until shows the massacre when "tiananmen square" is searched (PC activism!) and Mac, because I have too much software for Windows and I don't wish to spend 25% more money for the same performance and capability. I plan to buy a 3-year warranty this time, considering the abuse of using it in the car -- and my Compaq died after 2 years. Nothing against Compaq; I think any laptop would have given up the ghost with the hard use.

Car in the shop

Car 95, the Falcon, is down yet again. This time it's the tail lights and meter light. Conventional wisdom suggests a blown fuse, but I checked them with the electronic fuse tester I keep in the glove box, and they're all fine. Also, when the problem came about, my radio presets were erased.

I made an interesting discovery while checking the fuses. When I compared the fuse diagram with the actual fuse block, I found that every fuse in the block has the incorrect amp rating. Fred the mechanic is a real hack! Some were close, having a 15 where an 18 should be, but some were way off, like having a 15 where a 30 should be, and the other way round.

The first thing I wanted to do was check the owner's manual to see which fuse is responsible for the tail lights, but the manual was missing. I called Vitao, who had, for some mysterious reason, brought it into his house. That's one strike against Vitao. He was unable to give me a good description of which fuse I was looking for. That's two strikes.

The cab company owner instructed Vitao to bring the car to the meter shop at 8 a.m. Monday. The thinking was that the meter guy could trace the problem and fix the whole thing. The car had to be there at 8 or the shop would be too busy to get the work done. Naturally, Vitao brought in the car at 10:30. Strike three! The owner called him and yelled at the top of his lungs. If I wasn't planning to take Monday off, I would have been stuck with a car lacking tail lights. Also, customers ask about the meter being dark, which is a small hassle, but an avoidable one.

I confirmed that the car is in the shop today, and it should be ready before I go to work at 3.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday photos

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I went up to Cabrillo Monument on Point Loma this afternoon

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Great views of the bay and San Diego

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This commemorates the first European to reach San Diego:
Juan Cabrillo in 1542

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Cabrillo lighthouse

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Coronado Bridge from Golden Hill

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I-94, facing west, with downtown beyond

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Another funny Zoni

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Good ride

My day started out bad, with everything being as difficult as possible. Every ride took five minutes to appear, the tips were small or non-existent, and though traffic was light, I seemed to be constantly stuck behind slow vehicles.

My last ride began in a similar (bad) way. The guy wore a black suit, but not a business suit. It was more like a semi-casual thing. He carried a soft-side briefcase that said CBS on it, and his baseball cap (looking out of place with the suit) said CourtTV. His cowboy boots looked to be snakeskin. He said his career has been to film documentaries for various media companies.

His name was Wendell, and he was from Tennessee, complete with a Southern accent. He wanted to find a place where he could buy a few disposable cameras. During our journey around town he said he has cancer and was in San Diego for surgery that was explained to him as very risky. So he is staying at an expensive hotel, and his lunch today cost $100. He said the expense seemed right, if things didn't go well in the morning. He wanted the cameras to take some pictures during the evening, just in case it was his last.

He wasn't looking for pity, by any means. These things just came up in conversation. After I dropped him off, back at the same hotel where I picked him up, it struck me that my day isn't so bad.

Saturday photos

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A random cab at 10th & Market

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The Aprilia / Ducati dealer at 16th & G, downtown

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Glowing edges filter

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