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Night sky from Marin Headlands

Night sky from Marin Headlands

15 second exposure from a NatureBridge night hike last night. Then s'mores!

California 2014 Propositions

California 2014 Propositions

My quick voting guide for the California 2014 Propositions:

1: Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment, and Storage Projects.

Yes: Doesn't help with the current drought but might help with the next one.

2: State Budget. Budget Stabilization Account. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.

Yes: Should help even out funding by forcing the state to save excess capital gains revenue.

45: Healthcare Insurance. Rate Changes. Initiative Statute.

No. We have Covered California now. Not clear that this helps.

46: Drug and Alcohol Testing Of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute.

No. Too many issues in one confusing package.

47: Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Yes. Time to stop putting everyone in prison already,

48: Indian Gaming Compacts. Referendum.

Yes. I'm not a casino fan in general and the whole compensation through casino monopolies mystifies me. But that's the system we have and this seems like it's a tribal casino on newly minted tribal land. I'm not likely to go there but I don't see a great reason to block it.

(previously)

San Francisco 2014 Ballot Measures

San Francisco 2014 Ballot Measures

My voting guide for the San Francisco 2014 ballot measures:

A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond

Yes: This borrows half a billion dollars to improve bike lanes, transit lanes, pedestrian crossings, etc. I walk, drive and bike around San Francisco as well as taking MUNI. We're killing too many people, especially pedestrians, and need to do a better job.

B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth

No: More money to MUNI from population growth instead of tax base growth. These seem like they should be related and if not fix the tax base not the funding formula.

C: Fund; Public Education Enrichment Fund; Children and Families Council; Rainy Day Reserve

Yes: Continues existing universal preschool for 4-year-olds and other kids programs.

D: Retiree Health Benefits for Former Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency Employees

Yes: This fixes a kink in benefits for a few city employees. Seems fair.

E: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

No. I'm somewhat torn on this one. It probably would reduce sugar consumption but is that displaced spending going to broccoli? It's a regressive tax and I'd rather see more effort on education or making healthier alternatives more available and appealing.

F: Pier 70

Yes: Looks like a good development.

G: Additional Transfer Tax on Residential Property Sold Within 5 Years of Purchase

No. Covers way too many sales without many exemptions. Unfair to property owners.

H: Requiring Certain Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields To Be Kept As Grass With No Artificial Lighting

No: H and I are fight over installing artificial turf on the fields by the Beach Chalet. I've played soccer on gopher-ridden grass and it's lethal. I don't want to be responsible for twisted ankles so no on H and yes on I.

I: Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields

Yes. See H.

J: Minimum Wage Increase

Yes: It would be nice if more people who work in San Francisco could afford to live in San Francisco.

K: Affordable Housing

No: Not because it's a bad idea to add more affordable housing but it's a non-binding policy statement and doesn't actually seem to change anything.

L: Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities

No: This seeks to change policy to favor cars over other transit options. Nuts.

(previously)

Book reviews for October 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

5/5

Outstanding thriller about a man left behind on a Mars mission. Almost all of the tension is sucked out by geeky humor but the leftovers are more than enough. The movie version will probably switch the geek out and install Sandra Bullock.

 

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19) by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19) by Lee Child

4/5

If you're a Reacher fan this is a solid installment, by the numbers. If not then don't start here.

 

Nine for Exchange email on Android

Nine for Exchange email on Android

I have been super frustrated with the stock email client on Android which seems to crash about 50% of the time when I reply to ActiveSync / Exchange email.

Last week I discovered Nine which handles both Exchange and GMail if you're an apps for business user. It handles email, calendar and tasks beautifully and can present a combined mailbox from several accounts. The app is nicely designed and so far hasn't crashed or hung for me which has reduced the amount of daily swearing I aim at my phone considerably.

If you need to access Exchange on Android I can't recommend Nine highly enough.

Fermi Suicide

Fermi Suicide

One family of solutions to the Fermi Paradox is that civilizations die out before they communicate - natural disaster, nuclear war, etc. This sort of calamity seems plausible some of the time but it would need to happen all of the time. What if any sufficiently advanced society inevitably discovers irrefutable proof that free will is an illusion and just gives up?

Depressing. I prefer this.

Spoiler Alert

R2D2 at The Presidio

Looks like Episode 7 is going to be weird...

Farallones

Farallones

Sunset behind the Farallon Islands, off the coast of San Francisco.

(previously)

Book reviews for September 2014

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

4/5

Interesting thriller. Very different start in Myanmar which was super promising. Bond like villainy and a trans-human resistance then ensue.

 

[more]

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

4/5

It's a living the same life over and over again type of story, a literary groundhog day. Very well done.

 

Leaving Chrome

Leaving Chrome

My Chromebook was stolen over the weekend. The good news is that I didn't lose anything given the cloud only nature of the device. The bad news was that I didn't really want to get a new one.

I loved the cost and the boot speed and being able to do nearly everything I needed to with a browser-in-a-box.

But the nearly was a deal breaker. I sometimes need to VPN and the Chromebook wouldn't. It just wasn't compatible with our flavor of VPN and I didn't want to buy another Chromebook on the off chance that Google would eventually fix this. I also have to use Skype (I'd rather not) and this isn't really possible on the Chromebook either. Imo.im was good while it lasted. IM+ is horrible.

I've abandoned the Chrome dream and picked up a Surface Pro 3.

(Read the full Chromebook adventure: Part 1: Going Chrome, Part 2: Staying Chrome? and Part 3: Leaving Chrome)

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