Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bay Area Maker Faire 2010


Bay Area Maker Faire 2010

Rather than carry a camera, I just created a GPS track log of our visit on my nifty android phone to the Maker Faire at the San Mateo County Event Center.

Here’s the track log on a satellite map:

View Track log – 2010-05-23 Maker Faire in a larger map

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WTD 976

What the Duck WTD 976.

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52 Ways to Die in a Cave

As part of the promotion for James Tabor’s book Blind Descent a list of potentially fatal caving mishaps has been making the rounds. (Curious? Read, Boing Boing, etc.)

Having been on some extended caving descents myself, this list made me laugh, reminded me of some close calls, and generally made we want to get underground again. Funny: #32 really wouldn’t kill you. Creepy: #43. Really – this could have happened to us once and we were anxiously hypervigilant to prevent it. Finally, if #52 doesn’t almost happen you then you’re really not having enough fun!

I don’t have any pictures from those excursions back in NY State and Pennsylvania but I do have some recent ones from a beach cave here in Northern California. I’ll post those later.

52 Ways to Die in a Cave

  1. Acetylene explosion (acetylene still used by some as fuel for cave lamps)
  2. Camp stove explosion (white gas or butane)
  3. Fall while climbing rock
  4. Fall while downclimbing rock
  5. Fall while ascending rope
  6. Fall while rappelling (descending rope)
  7. Rockfall
  8. Dig or tunnel collapse
  9. Unplanned detachment from rebelay
  10. Failure to complete change from rappel to ascent, and vice versa
  11. Prusik knots jammed
  12. Prusik knots won’t grip
  13. Ascenders slip on muddy, wet, or icy rope (this one almost got me on a 250-foot drop)
  14. Strangulation in vertical gear
  15. Fall from losing grip on handline
  16. Rope anchor failure
  17. Rope failure
  18. Rope cut by falling rock
  19. Ladder failure
  20. Uncontrolled rappel
  21. Harness carabiner opens during rappel (as with Chris Yeager)
  22. Rappel shunt (emergency brake) defeated during rappel
  23. Unwanted rappel shunt activation
  24. Rappel off end of rope (as with Alexander Karabikhin)
  25. Drop rope
  26. Rope recoils out of reach after rappel
  27. Rappel into pit without ascent gear
  28. Foot hang
  29. Chemical contamination of rope
  30. Animals eat rope
  31. Rappel rack nut falls off
  32. Hair caught in rappel rack
  33. Clothing or chinstrap caught in rappel rack
  34. Sewn sling tears
  35. Exhaustion
  36. Hypothermia
  37. Drowning
  38. Becoming lost
  39. Out of light
  40. Entrapment by flood
  41. Entrapment by rockfall
  42. Asphyxiation by methane, carbon dioxide, blast fumes, etc.
  43. Locked inside gated entrance
  44. Poisonous snakes and insects
  45. Struck by lightning while in cave stream
  46. Struck by lightning while talking on cable telephone to surface
  47. Rabid bat bite
  48. Bacterial or fungal infection: histoplasmosis, etc.
  49. Hyperthermia (some caves are 130F)
  50. Incapacitating injury
  51. Incapacitating illness
  52. Stuck in crevice

BLIND DESCENT by James Tabor is in stores on June 15, 2010 and available for preorder now. Learn more at

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Pic of the Day: Floating in the Ocean – My Modern Metropolis

Pic of the Day: Floating in the Ocean – My Modern Metropolis.

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Anti-identity-theft huckster has had identity stolen at least 13 times

According to Boing Boing, Todd Davis’s identity has been stolen at least 13 times. Davis is CEO of LifeLock, a company that sells anti-identity-theft services, and their ads feature Davis’s Social Security Number (because their service works so well he can afford to publicize his SSN without being compromised. Collection agencies across the country are trying to get him to cough up for debts that other people have racked up with the SSN they copied from the ad.

LifeLock has already been fined $12,000,000 by the FTC for deceptive advertising. The Phoenix New Times has a long, investigative story on LifeLock’s business practices and the (in)efficacy of its services. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at how to make something that doesn’t work very well and compound that with bad business practices. (Cracking LifeLock: Even After a $12 Million Penalty for Deceptive Advertising, the Tempe Company Can’t Be Honest About Its Identity-Theft-Protection Service)

Boing Boing via Anti-identity-theft huckster has had identity stolen at least 13 times.

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Esplanade Lawsuit – ESR vs. Millard Tong (310 & 320 Esplanade)

From the Fix Pacifica blog comes news of a civil suit filed in San Mateo Court by Engineered Soil Resources against Millard Tong for payment due for work done since Fall 2008. (Fix Pacifica: The Crumbly Cliffs lawsuits begin).

According to the Complaint, Tong has refused to pay all amounts due to work done on both 310 Esplanade Ave, and 320 Esplanade for work dating back to 2008. This is only one side of the story, and we’ll have to wait to learn why Tong chose to delay or deny payment.

Address Amount
310 Esplanade Avenue $971,489.44
320 Esplanade Avenue $845,241.44


Complaint To Foreclose Mechanics’ Liens, For Breach Of Contract, For Unjust Enrichment And For Common Counts. San Mateo Online Access to Court Case Information website document link.

Actions in Case CIV494786. List of on-going actions in the case on the San Mateo court website: link.

Current Snapshot

The “Actions” link mentioned above provides current, up-to-date information about the case. Following is information from that link TODAY (5/17/2010):

Action Text
05/05/2010 (S) COMPLAINT FILED

Complaint as of May 17, 2010: A-0000124931-1.complaint.

For a complete chronology and links to many more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade:

See all of my pictures of the Esplanade crisis:

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Television Tropes & Idioms

Terrific fun for readers, writers and couch potatoes:

What is this about? This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction. We dip into the cauldron of story, whistle up a hearty spoonful and splosh it in front of you to devour to your heart’s content.

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means “stereotyped and trite.” In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.

The wiki is called “TV Tropes” because TV is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media. Tropes transcend television. They exist in life. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere.

Home Page – Television Tropes & Idioms.

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Cutting libraries in a recession is like…

[Design by Daniel Solis, from an observation by Eleanor Crumblehulme. Licensed under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.]

Orange Crate Art via Cutting libraries.

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Patio Removed Between 330 and 320 Esplanade

See the full size images on Flickr at: Patio Removed Between 330 and 320 Esplanade,

For a complete chronology and links to many more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade:

See all of my pictures of the Esplanade crisis:

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Pacifica apartment owners hopeful following meeting

From Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times, Pacifica apartment owners feel hopeful following meeting, the lead:

Apartment owners on Esplanade Avenue agreed Wednesday in a meeting with city officials and the California Coastal Commission to collaborate in protecting their buildings from losing any more ground to systemic blufftop erosion.

After months of stalemate, the owners of more than a dozen apartment buildings and condominiums on upper Esplanade agreed to pursue a uniform engineering approach to prevent further blufftop loss, although the design is still up in the air.

The agreement to a uniform engineering approach was essential to any project that attempts to remediate the bluff behind 320 and 330. Beyond these two properties, the agreement may help to lower the overall cost by allowing contractors to reuse access roads, extend leases on rented equipment, and the like. That said, there is no indication whatsoever that there is any funding for the work, and 320 Esplanade is apparently threatened by a new June 17 deadline to show that the building can be reopened to tenants.

Ms. Scott does excellent work, and her article is highly recommended.

End of a Long Standing Conflict?

Does this agreement also signal the end to an undisclosed conflict that appeared to have played a role in the failure of last spring’s (2009) rock placement project to protect 330 Esplanade?

Or is it merely a temporary truce allowing owners to buy time and a more favorable position as they struggle to find financing to fund the projects?

Back in December we learned that the presence of a protective wall tends to concentrate and magnify the power of waves on neighboring, unprotected coastal areas. (See my post for info and links, Crumbling coastline: Pacifica’s problems nothing new to the California coast 12/20/2009.) Watching the erosion on 320 and the north end of 310 Esplanade since then confirmed the consequential erosion.

Looking at the coast below the Esplanade bluff last winter it was clear that the rock rip rap wall or revetment that had been laid at the foot of the bluff in late spring 2009 did not extend behind 330 or 350 Esplanade. This image from the California Coastal Records photo project showed this clearly (original):

N37 39.19 ; W122 29.81 :: Image 200906567 :: Thu Oct 1 15:02:37 2009

Why the rock was not placed below 330 Esplanade has never been clearly explained as far as I know. We have heard that conflict among the owners, possibly related to the unusual lot boundaries, stopped the project, but this has never been really clarified.

Yet another deadline for 320, but what about 330?

Pacifica has apparently given the owners of 320 Esplanade, Millard and Alicia Tong, until June 17 to show that the building can be reopened to tenants.

Pacifica building official Doug Rider has previously indicated that more than simply repairing and replacing the stabilizing coastal bluff, repairs must make the buildings seismically fit. There has been no indication from Rider or any other official how much work or investment would be required in order for them to allow the buildings to re-open.

No mention of any deadline for the previously closed 330 Esplanade, though there must be one.

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SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD New Poster by THE WALKING DEAD Artist Charlie Adlard


Immediately following the events of Diary of the Dead, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD is the 6th film from George A. Romero to look at a world where humans are in the minority and the zombies rule.

Off the coast of Delaware sits the cozy Plum Island where two families are locked in a struggle for power, as it has been for generations.  The O’Flynn’s, headed by patriarch Patrick O’Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) approach the zombie plague with a shoot-to-kill attitude.  The Muldoons, headed by Shamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), feel that the zombies should be quarantined and kept ‘alive,’ in hopes that a solution will someday be found.

The O’Flynn’s, who are clearly outnumbered, are forced to exile Patrick by boat to the mainland, where he meets up with a band of soldiers, headed by Guardsman Sarge (Alan Van Sprang). They join forces and return to the island, to find that the zombie plague has fully gripped the divided community.

As the battle between humans and zombies escalates, the master filmmaker continues to reinvent the modern horror genre with wicked humor and pointed social commentary.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD premieres on VOD, Amazon, Xbox Zune and Playstation April 30 and will be in theaters on May 28th.


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Holly Miranda, Joints [Video]

This morning I got an awesome cut from the neat music discovery website Track In The Box, Holly Miranda singing her original “Joints”.

From the Track in a Box website:

This track is off Miranda’s The Magicians’s Private Library (great title), but this version is from a trio of sessions with just her and fiddle player/solo artist Marques Toliver (who is amazing in his own right) which follows the two of them playing around Williamsburg. Miranda’s voice is absolutely phenomenal in a wait are you for real and why are you not everywhere sort of way, and while there are plenty of ‘she sounds like (insert female vocalist’s name here)’ comparisons out there, that’s really not doing it justice. She is amazing; there’s a bit with an echo in the staircase that’s… gah! Just listen, then listen again, then listen to the rest of the sessions, then listen to the album, then start over again. That’s what’s been going on over here anyway.


Dreamt of you again last night
Called your phone to hear your voice
I know
I know you know
That I’ll never let you go
How do I let go?

I can feel it in my joints
It aches and creaks and
There’s no point
In growing old
Oh this life I’ve made on my own
Is lonely with the love I’ve known

Where are you
Is where I want to be
Where are you
Is where I want to be

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