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Last Updated 2/3/2002 by


Work is kicking my ass, so just a couple of things:

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Scorched Earth Tank.I am a Scorched Earth Tank.

When I have a mission, it consumes me; I will not be satisfied until the job is done. I have a strong sense of duty, and a strong sense of direction. Changes in the tide don't phase me - I always know which way the wind blows, and I know how to compensate for it. I get on poorly with people like myself. What Video Game Character Are You?

cool defined


I can finally tell you about the super-secret project I've been working on, the project so secret I've never even mentioned it before. Here it is:

My cousin Chris and his buddy have (as you can probably guess from the name of the site) gone skiin'.

Basically, they're driving around the West, living in a VW bus, following the snow and, it sounds like, having a blast. They're keeping an almost-daily log and posting lots of pictures, so check it out.

Also, if you happen to own a ski resort, or make ski equipment, or otherwise have a bunch of money you're not interested in keeping, they're looking for sponsors. I bet they'd also like to hear from anyone in the West with a hot tub and a ski slope in the back yard.

By the way, I did the PHP (which I'm now convinced stands for "Primitive Hosting Platform") for the image management and display on this site. So if you want to hire me to write some PHP . . . well, just piss off, because PHP sucks. Then again, what do you want for free?


Here's some irony: Remember my crashed hard drive that's sitting in Goleta, California waiting for Western Digital to get off their collective ass and ship me a replacement? Well, today I look in the mail and find something from WD, something way too flat to be a hard drive, unless I've suddenly been transported to Star Trek-land, or Steve Jobs's house.

At first I'm thinking, oh, this must be a confirmation that they received the drive. But that's not what it looks like. So I split the not-quite-an-envelope open and what do I find? A $75 rebate check for the selfsame hard drive that is now dead and languishing at the manufacturer. Yes, that's how new it was—I hadn't even collected on the rebate yet. And, of course, it took them over three months to process the rebate. I'm not complaining about suddenly getting $75, but man what a screwed up situation.

I also had to call WD this week because even though UPS tracking indicated a successful Monday A.M. delivery, WD's RMA tracking didn't list the thing as received. Phone support was no help on Wednesday—though the operator did dutifully take and type in my tracking number (with much Albert-Zebra-two-two-niner-style human-based error correction) so that he could remark, "Yup, UPS says it got here Monday, so it must be here." The system did finally update with quantity one received late Thursday. We'll see how long it takes them to list quantity one shipped.

I've been meaning to mention something about diets, since I've been struggling through one or another of them for the last few weeks, but today marks exactly one month of dieting, so I thought I'd give that some space. First, the good news. I've lost about 20 pounds since beginning to diet in ernest on January 2. Don't worry, there will not be before-and-after pictures.

So what's the bad news? I'll tell you. Dieting sucks! The first 10 days were spent on a diet of my own concocting that consisted of Total cereal, Slimfast, Power Bars, and fruit to a maximum of 1000 calories per day. That worked, helping me shed seven or eight pounds in a little over a week. Unfortunately, I was so weak by the end that I had to throttle back the resistance on every machine I use at the gym 30%.

That diet also led to a weekend binge that included cookies, M+M's, pizza, beer, caffeine, and I can't even remember what else. I didn't bother to check, but a couple of pounds probably came back right there.

Anyway, Monday meant back on the wagon, this time with a low-carb diet, and I've been there ever since. I saw a couple of books around the apartment, stuff like Dr. Atkin's blah-blah-blah and Protein Power blah-blah, but to tell you the truth, the only rule I've followed is, stick to less than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day for two weeks.

That's actually pretty radical when you consider it means no bread, no grains, no potatoes, no rice, no milk, no flour, no fruit, and almost no pre-prepared food. What you're left with is meat, cheese, eggs and some vegetables. Basically, lop off the top half of the food guide pyramid and turn it upside down, and let your little triangular cup runneth over. Because the best news about Atkin's/Protein Power is that you can, in theory, eat as much as you want.

This all sounds pretty counterintuitive, doesn't it? A diet with meat and cheese in it? I'm supposed to give up cereal and instead eat bacon and eggs every morning? I know, it's crazy. But as I got on the diet and started reading the propaganda and applying my own logic, it started to make sense.

One of the things that Atkin's says is, "There are essential proteins and essential fats. There are no essential carbohydrates." Even if you just use that as a starting point for a thought experiment, it's a pretty powerful statement. We're taught, from an early age, to view carbohydrates as the basis of human nutrition. But if you think historically, carbohydrates would have been one of the hardest substances to obtain in quantity, and would have been added to the diet relatively late in the evolutionary history of mankind. Arguably, only dairy came later. Many nutritionist pinpoint dairy and simple carbohydrates (sugars) as major causes of obesity, yet complex carbohydrates remain the sacred cow (there might be a pun there, just ignore it).

I'm not going too far down the "nutritionist are full of shit" path, because there are valid concerns about high-protein, low-carb diets. For one thing, it's pretty easy to end up with high fat and cholesterol numbers. But, the way we've been approaching it—using egg substitute or eggs whites, leaning heavily toward chicken and fish versus beef, not taking Atkin's "eat until you're full" maxim too seriously—I think we're avoiding the worst of the fat sinkhole. And, of course, I don't plan to be on this diet forever.

For me, the proof is in the results. In two weeks on this diet, I've lost at least another 10 pounds (that's after losing a crash 10 or so on another diet). And the amazing thing is, it hasn't been that much of a struggle. Most of the time I've felt good, strong, energetic, and without any of the insane cravings I had on the fat- and calorie-limited diet.

Of course, I still crave, especially in the last few days. I desperately want a two-pound bag of peanut M+M's, or a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Not to mention the fact that it's Girl Scout cookie season. And I did break down and have a few beers last night (Miller Lite, only 3.5 grams of carbohydrate per can!). And I still think there might be a bag of M+M's or Doritos or something in my future (it's Super Bowl Sunday, come on), but there's something about Atkin's/Protein Power that's very non-guilt inducing.

For one thing, you can test yourself to see if you're still or once again burning fat. There's actually an at-home urine test for ketones, which evidently indicate that you're burning fat, and therefore don't have too many nasty carbohydrates in your system. The question is, of course, am I burning the fat I ate yesterday or am I finally burning stubborn gut fat? The only test I know for that is the mirror, and it requires some patience, and a tolerance for pain.

<-- January 2002


April 2002 -->

Copyright 2002 by

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Cat's Cradle

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The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

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Pepsi One

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Taco Bell