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The importance of voting

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
If you live in Oregon you may have noticed that we're having a vote going on. On the docket are Measure 49 (revising Oregon's land-use laws) and Measure 50 (taxing smokers to pay for children's health care).

Today I attended a debate at the Willamette College of Law on the merits and drawbacks of Measure 49. Two alumni, each representing a side, gave a very interesting talk and I'm glad I attended. However, one said something that didn't sit well with me:
"Vote. Please. The most important thing you can do is vote!"
I disagree. We have enough people voting right now - and you can see where it got us. I believe that the most important thing you can do in a democracy is make an informed vote. The responsibility in a democracy is on the individual voters to understand and make intelligent decisions based on relevant information. Tragically, we don't seem to have enough of that currently.

So if you're reading this and eligible to vote, please do - but do so only after you understand what you're voting on.

Salem's Bridge Woes

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
So what I discovered when I moved to Salem about 14 months ago is that I'm glad I don't live on the West Side. Don't get me wrong - the apartments over there tend to be newer, better appointed, and relatively cheaper. However, I would have to drive in every day (I can't spare the 45 or more minutes each way to walk) and I'd have to deal with a miserable amount of traffic during rush hour as all the west siders come to down town in the morning and leave in the evening.


View Larger Map


Apparently the idea of putting in another bridge is not new. Today, however, the Salem Statesman-Journal ran an article talking about it - and why it hasn't happened yet. (Here's a hint: The location hasn't been settled, among other problems.)

Want to hear my solution? (I'm guessing you wouldn't be here if you didn't!)

Take an idea from the highways in Seattle and build a third bridge in between the current two, connecting at each end two the other two bridges. Make the bridge traffic one-way - but switch direction depending on the hour. Basically, you're adding extra lanes when you need them, which is really what the problem is, since the traffic is fine the other times. Furthermore, since it would be a one-way bridge it would be more effectively used than a two-way bridge and would add capacity where it's currently needed the most. (Oh, and tax new development on the west side of Salem to pay for it, since that's most of what's causing the problem.)

So there you go. Am I brilliant? Yes, the rumors are true.

Holden Caulfield wouldn't be impressed either

Saturday, October 27, 2007
So I was taking a nice, leisurely stroll around Portland's Eastside Esplanade and Waterfront Park when, as I was crossing the Steele Bridge, I saw this particular gem scrawled on one of the bridge's beams:

Graffiti that just says 'Fuck'

I just want to say "Thanks, guys" for your bit of graffiti. I appreciate your donation to Portland's culture, and I'm sure your mother would be proud.

Server Outages and DHCP Woes

So this humble blog experienced some unintentional downtime yesterday. I woke up and was rather displeased to note an absolute inability to contact my server. Tragically curious. I tried to figure out what happened, which wasn't easy with no feedback from the computer, but eventually realized that I'd been emailed the results of a system update.

First guess? The server is actually running inside VMware virtual machine on top of a host server. I figured the system update had been for the host and had updated the kernel, something VMware doesn't always take kindly to.

However, I finally managed to get my hands on the machine and found the reason for the downtime to be quite simple. Yes, everything was working when I got to it, but for one thing...

So a week or so ago I switched out the wireless router that my server was hiding behind - from a crappy Netgear that would bomb out about once an hour when using the wireless from my MacBook Pro to a used but stable Linksys. The downside of this particular Linksys is that it doesn't do DHCP reservations (thought the Netgear did). Not a big deal, I thought... I figured my computers would request and get the same addresses and it wouldn't be an issue for port fowarding.

I was wrong.

I let them keep their current DHCP addresses but, loathe though I am to do it, I may switch over to static IP addresses should this problem crop up again. We'll see.

On the topic of rainbows

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
'Twas a day of typically schizophrenic Oregon weather, full of beating sun, driving rain, fog, mist, and everything in between. The upside to all of this, though, is that it's definitely worth it in the end.

An October rainbow in Salem

IMAP Gmail

On the nerdy side of my life, I noticed a couple days ago that there was an "IMAP" section to the FAQ on the help for Gmail. I've been using POP to access Gmail for a while and I've longed for IMAP access since July of 2004, when I first started using it. I eagerly went to set up my access and - lo and behold - started getting access errors.

What the heck?

Checking back, I noticed that the section in the FAQ was gone! I realized (being the genius that I am) that they're probably in the middle of implementing it since notifications about this oft-requested feature seemed to be nonexistent.

Today, I checked again... and there was this announcement from the Goog:
[blah blah blah] Yes, we are doing IMAP. [blah blah blah]
Sweet.

Safeway

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The local grocery store near me is a Safeway, and I noticed that they do something rather unique in my grocery shopping experience. (My experience is limited, though, so let me know if others do this.) They have charities that they encourage others to support, and the cashiers will ask a simple question:
Would you like to donate $.xx to Y?
(Where Y is the charity of the month and $.xx is the amount that would round your purchase to the nearest dollar.)

I love this!

While this does fit the popular definition of micropayments, it also reminds me of the Superman/Office Space idea - to some degree, at least. They're collecting a fraction of my transaction, the "change", if you will, that's left over (even when I use a debit card) and I would gladly give it for breast cancer research, prostate cancer research, or whatever the charity is. (Though, at some point, I suppose I should call Safeway and see if they take a percentage for administrative costs.)

Anyway, I hope you all, if given a chance, throw your change their way.

Motorcycle Safety

Monday, October 15, 2007
As I noted earlier, I'm in the process of becoming an instructor for TEAM OREGON. Well, I've now graduated from the apprentice level to the intern level, which means that I'll a) no longer have a mentor helping me out over my shoulder, and b) I'll start getting paid for working, which will be nice.

One of the instructors sent us a link to an article in the New York Times entitled Motorcycle School: Be Very Afraid. (You may have to register to read it.) It's an interesting article about a journalist going through the motorcycle safety class in New York.

There are differences between the curriculum in New York and the one here in Oregon. As far as I understand, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is responsible for the courses throughout most of the US - the basic course is called the "Basic Rider Course". In Oregon, we've developed our own curriculum, and we call the basic course the "Basic Rider Training". It similar in concept, slightly different in execution, and all designed with one purpose in mind: to educate people interested in motorcycling on their basic operation and the safety habits that need to be developed.

Curriculum differences aside, I highly recommend the class for ANYBODY remotely interested in motorcycle. Here in Oregon we provide the helmets and motorcycles (I can't speak for other states) and you get a chance to figure out if you really want to ride - and an opportunity to learn on a bike that you don't have to fix.

Take it, if you can!

Autumn in the City

Friday, October 12, 2007
Autumn has officially hit Salem. I thought I'd share a few pictures of the trees near the Capital as they change colors.

Trees

More Trees

Eye for an eye

Sunday, October 07, 2007
So I happened to catch this headline while browsing the news: "Gang Punches Hole in Monet Work". It seems a set of drunken miscreants (at last a chance to use that word!) managed to bypass security at a French museum and punch a hole in Monet's Le Pont d'Argenteuil.

The picture they have on the website of the painting with a hole in it is heartbreaking.

And while the French Culture Minister Christine Albanel is said to have responded "this was an attack on French heritage," I disagree. I feel that it's an attack on humanity as a whole, an act of pure, wanton destruction that targets the whole of the world and aims to deface and devalue the greatest works that humanity has created.

The article states that the perpetrators haven't been caught yet, but when they do, I fear that the French courts won't provide the kind of punishment these bastards deserved. I'm talking disfigurement. No imprisonment, no fine... just disfigure them so that every time they look in a mirror, they'll remember what they did and how they - even drunk - tried to rob humanity that day.

Perhaps I'm over-reacting. But perhaps not. Sometimes I feel that a punishment ought to fit a crime, and this is a crime of proportions that many might not understand. Art like this is a record of the human race; of what we, as a species, are capable of creating and achieving. To destroy it is to spit on all of us.

And that's the end of THAT rant.

Update: I saw this article before it was linked to on Fark.com. I only mention this because I'm usually reluctant to post fun links from Fark unless I can offer my usual scintillating opinion on them.

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