8/31/2006

08-31-06 - 4

Wikipedia panoramas is an awesome source for very high-res photos.

08-31-06 - 3

I've definitely developed ADD. I'm playing poker on 4 tables and watching TV and find myself getting bored, so I open up a web browser and start reading/replying to the forums. I've also taken to reading the newspaper while I watch TV. Sick. I also had a revelation today, I realized why I have so much trouble talking on the phone. I've always sort of spaced out and been unable to follow conversations on the phone. I finally realized it's because I'm totally understimulated with only the audio channel and my eyes and hands and mind totally wander, I'll often be absent mindedly surfing the web or putting away dishes or something or looking outside while on the phone and totally lose the train of the conversation. D'oh.

08-31-06 - 2

The correct amount of hands to play in poker seems to be around 1 per round. At a full 10-handed game that's 10% of hand. At a 6-max game that's 16.66% of hands. That's assuming no antes and difficult opponents. If your opponents are very bad you can profitably play more hands. Also if there are antes you should play slightly more hands. It funny to me when things like this work out so numerologically - "play 1 hand per round" - but of course it's just coincidence and rounding; any time you wind up with an answer in Physics that's like 3.1 some douche will think "wow, that's almost Pi, that's like cosmic, maybe it's related somehow and the answer really is Pi".

08-31-06 - 1

One of the really frustrating things about tournaments is that your EV can be very strongly affected by how other people play against each other.

Say for example you're 3 handed in the end-game. You have an M around 10, there's a shorty with an M around 3, and a big stack with an M around 30. Obviously you have to avoid the big stack, and you can take gambles with the shorty, but you can't really press the shorty because if he doubles up through you you're even. What you want to do is just sit back and wait for the big stack to knock out the shorty so you can move up in the money and play heads up.

The problem occurs when the big stack is awful and keeps failing to knock out the shorty, either by folding to his pushes, not pushing enough at his BB, or just playing bad and giving him chips. If the big stack really plays awful against the shorty it can be a huge impact on your EV in the tournament, which sucks bad.

I get really frustrated in all multi-player games when you have to rely on other people making sensible moves. It's like when you're playing Risk and player B can easily take a province to keep player C from getting all of Russia on his turn, and he doesn't, it just fucks you over and you aren't even involved. Ghey.

8/30/2006

08-30-06 [poker] - 1

It's generally true that in any situation in poker you want to be very aggressive with your best hands & your worst hands, and conservative with your medium hands. This has been proven precisely for some simple poker-like games, but it's very hard to prove with real poker, but we can see intuitively that it's true.

First, think of your hand range as a float value in the interval [0,1]. That is, the "nut low" is a 0 and the true nuts is a 1. Now you're going to fold any hand worse than some threshold F, so you're playing hands in [F,1]. Now imagine this range as divided into 3 regions [F,A] [A,B] [B,1] . The bottom range are you "marginal" hands, hand you want to play but that are just barely worth not folding. The middle range are you decent hands, which beat bluffs and might beat some of his okay hands, but can't stand pressure. The top range are your hands you want to play a big pot with.

My contention is you should take the same line with the "marginal" and the "big" hands (that is stuff in [F,A] and [B,1]) and take the conservative line with [A,B].

One problem with this is if your opponent is really good, anytime you take the conservative line they know you have a marginal hand which lets them "play perfectly" by knowing what you have. This is easily addressed by mixing up your lines a bit. That is, the "big" line might not always mean just leading out big, it might sometimes be a check-raise. Similarly the "ok" hands might sometimes check-call and other times put a blocking bet out.

Let's look at one example : preflop reraising. Say the player on the button opens and you're in the big blind. Stacks are deep so it's not just a shove. You're going to fold hands < F. With hands in the middle [A,B] range you should just call his raise. With your big pot hands (very good and marginal) you reraise. This means you just call with hands like 99 (middling), and you reraise with AA and 22. The reraise with 22 is a semibluff. Mainly you're representing AA, but you could also flop good and make a big hand. It's nice to have this extra value so any time you are doing this before the river it's good to use hands that can improve.

Another good example is playing against continuation bets. Say your opponent raised preflop and continuation bet the flop. Again, some hands you fold, your mediocre hands you just call, and your worst & best hands you raise. Mediocre hands here would be things like top pair without the top kicker, 99 on a T-high flop, etc. Those hands you just call. You raise with hands like two pair, a set, sometimes TPTK. You also raise with hands like 22 that missed its set. As usual you get more EV if you can raise with hands that can improve.

When considering what to do with a hand, you first ask if you should just fold it. For example, 22 on the flop in the continuation bet example may or may not be a hand you should just fold, depending on the board & your opponent. If you do play it, is it better to play as (a bluff), (a small pot for showdown), (a big pot) ? So you classify it in those ranges and play accordingly.

Now, it's my guess that if you look at your range of hands, it should roughly be true that (A-F) = (1-B) , that is the "big" and "marginal" region should be roughly the same size. I have no evidence to support this, it's just a guess. Similarly I guess that it should be true that (B-A) = 2 * (1-B) , that is, the "ok" region should be roughly the same size as the other two regions combined, that is about half the hands you play should be in the "okay" region. In practice, the regions should be adapted to your opponent. For example, if your opponent is a maniac bluffer, you might not use the "marginal" region at all, every hand either becomes a "big" hand or a fold against him since he only plays big pots. On the other hand, if your opponent is a weak-tight nit, he will only play with the nuts, otherwise he'll fold. In this case the "ok" region goes away and your "big" region becomes very small, basically you either have to out-nit him and make an even better hand, or you want to make him fold.

8/29/2006

08-29-06 [poker] - 2

"Don't go broke in an unraised pot", okay that's sort of okay advice, going broke for your whole stack in a small pot is always silly, however "don't get all-in an unraised pot", now that I can't agree with at all, of course you want to get all in if it's +EV, and that means you will sometimes go broke, and of course that's fine. In fact, if you don't go broke ever in an unraised pot it means you're not pushing your edges hard enough. Sort of like if a NASCAR driver or a ski racer never crashes it means he's not taking enough risks.

08-29-06 [poker] - 1

For those who are not aware of all the 22 year olds getting rich off poker, here's an excellent sampling of that world : Shit It Holla Ballas

08-29-06 - 1

Internet Exploder's F'ing text size continues to confound me. I want my PC set to "small fonts" but I want my browser to use "medium" text size; is that so damn hard !? Anyway, the ghetto fix is to hold down "ctrl" and spin the mouse wheel in IE, which changes the text size setting.

Basic of fucking software design : 1. Any setting which can be chosen in an app should be savable so you don't have to set it every damn time you run the app. 2. Any prompt which pops up regularly, you should be able to choose "Yes, No" and also "Always" or "Never" (this is not the same as saying "dont show this", which doesnt say which choice).

8/28/2006

08-28-06 - 7

Poker Bay is the hot spot to get torrents of poker TV shows, and some warez.

08-28-06 - 6

Stastics are confirming more and more that it's almost impossible for a man to get HIV from a woman via vaginal intercourse (though the opposite is not true). I wonder how long this has been known and kept under wraps as part of the abstinence agenda?

08-28-06 - 5

Republicans and pro-business types are making a huge error which we may pay for for many years. Concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich may seem great to them in the short term, but it's causing the death of the middle class. The thing that's made America's economy so great for so long is the large middle class with lots of consumer spending power.

08-28-06 - 4

Ma petite amie
est tres jolie
elle est plus belle
que la poubelle

08-28-06 - 3

I've mentioned this before, but the more you think about it, the whole idea of taxing transactions is a horrible idea. Sales tax, income tax, estate tax, gift tax, etc. are all taxes on transactions. There are 4 primary reasons this is bad :

1. It's difficult to enforce fairly. There are so many ways to do transactions, and thinks like favors and gifts can be forms of payment with huge monetary value that are hard to tax. Then we decide that certain transactions shouldn't be taxed which opens loop-holes and leads to huge problems.

2. It's expensive to enforce and expensive for individuals to comply. There's simply so many transactions that it is a huge enforcement problem.

3. It discourages transactions, which reduces economic liquidity. A more liquid economy functions better.

4. It's not in proportion to ability to pay. It penalizes those who are more active in the economy vs. those who hold wealth, which really is the opposite of what's in the best interest of the public.

It's really just ridiculous if you think about. If you and I stand next to eachother and hand a briefcase of $100,000 back and forth, we are supposed to pay tax on each exchange. Back and forth we pass the money and it goes away with each pass. Goofy!

There are various alternatives which mights be better. One is very appealingly simple which I mentioned before, which is simply a tax proportional to total assets. There are a few problems with that, one is counting someone's assets, though that's roughly the same problem as income tax - you require them to report it and you investigate if it seems fishy. The bigger problem is that there are many ways of hiding or getting rid of assets to avoid taxation, then pulling from those hiding places and spending as needed.

08-28-06 - 2

Good shows coming up :

CocoRosie Sep 6
Magnolia Electric Oct 7
Beirut Oct 20
Twilight Singers w/ Mark Lanegan Oct 24
Bonnie Prince Billy Oct 30 & 31 (Halloween extravaganza, oh yeah baby!)
The Heavenly States 09/22 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Deerhoof - Sept 5 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall

08-28-06 - 1

Well, I started to try to convert this Rants page to wordpress. I got an install working here and am testing it. I guess I'll do some posts in it, since there are some advantages (RSS, user replies, blah blah meow chow), but so far it sucks just like I knew it would. Editting in a browser is still just balls compared to my nice little text editor. It's really slow to navigate around the wordpress pages. Doing something like splicing two posts or grabbing a chunk of text from one post and moving it to another goes from a two second operation to a two minute operation.

If I had some perl/php skills, I'd love to just have a script that could grab a free-text rants/blog like this and take the new posts and drop them into a wordpress blog. Adding new posts actually wouldn't be that hard, but applying changes to older posts seems like a PITA.

Hmm.. I found WordPress's ability to import from RSS which I thought might do the trick, but it seems to not import changes. That is if I go back and change something in the RSS version of the blog it doesn't apply the changes to old posts, it only adds new ones.

Stupid WordPress also doesn't handle a regular CRLF like HTML does, it treats it as a "BR" forced break, which screws up all my text formatting.

8/27/2006

08-27-06 - 2

So, I got raw peanuts at a local market and roasted them myself for the first time. It's pretty trivial, 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes for shell-on peanuts. Anyhoo, yesterday we got some "green" peanuts at farmer's market. They're not actually green, the "green" refers to the fact that they're raw and fresh, not blanched or dried. They're very soft and smell strongly like potatos or something. Anyway I'm trying to roast them now and it's not going well. I've had them in a 350 degree oven for an hour now and they're still soft.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a subject where the internet mocks me. If you search for peanut roasting directions, you find this same little snippet of directions over and over which people have copy pasted; I've been to like 100 web sites now and every single one of them has the exact same directions word for word. Damn!

08-27-06 - 1

In the last few years we have seen a great callousness in the use of human death and tragedy to accomplish political purposes. Americans killed on 9/11 ? Great excuse to go on an adventure reshaping the Middle East. Two Israeli soldiers kidnapped? Great excuse to bomb the hell out of a neighbor who harbors terrorists. Hurricane F'ed up Katrina? Great excuse to rebuild the city without the ghetto full of negros. The common thread emerges - tragedy is not something to address, to apologize for, to try to repair - rather it should be extended as long as possible if it's expedient for some selfish goal.

8/26/2006

08-26-06 [poker] - 1

I really think most top players don't understand poker and why they win. They've somehow learned good practices and then come up with reasons for them. Barry G keeps talking about how you should bet so people will fold and you can win the pot. In particular, you should bet enough to make them fold their draws. Of course that's very wrong. If you could bet a large amount that gave them bad odds, but small enough that they called anyway, that would be more profitable.

Similarly, I'd guess most players think they're winners because they're better than average. No, not really. Your profit comes almost entirely from very bad players. You win because you extract well from them. Grinding out a small edge against average/decent players doesn't even beat the rake.

I don't question myself so much about gambling it up in marginal spots any more. It's possible that I'm making some -EV moves in those spots. However, overall my game is more +EV than ever. How can that be? Well, it could just be variance, or it could be that making a little -EV move once in a while is actually +EV, because it gets you action, or makes people stop bluffing you when they see you make a call with ace high. The truth is all those little factors are very hard to count, so making a little -EV move once in a while is not really something to worry much about.

08-26-06 - 4

So apparently the XBox 360 crashes a lot in evil ways, and there's a pretty high failure rate. Nasty. No idea what the actual numbers are, I'm sure MS is very quiet about that.

08-26-06 - 3

So, it looks like CA real estate is finally slowing as long predicted. The question now is whether it just slows or actually crashes. At the moment the states that aren't crazy inflated are still doing fine, and Texas looks very good, which is good news for many people I know doing real estate there.

08-26-06 - 2

"Bubble" was a cool setup but it just never went anywhere. After the crime there could've been a whole mystery investigation thing that stirred up the town and dug up lots of secrets, but there was nothing.

08-26-06 - 1

ASDJFKWERKJASLDFJASDF fucking Excel will only plot 32k numbers ASDKLQ@#$(&*KJAW#$ !!!!

Did I mention freaking TiVo sucks giant salty donkey balls? God damn, I have so many season passes without conflicts and the programs just aren't recording. If you cancel the season pass and re-add it, it fixes its broken ass. Fucking dog shit dumb ass incompetent make me so ANGRY!

8/23/2006

08-23-06 - 1

I need some better music to play poker too; something really chill that won't distract at all, but also not soporific, but rather energizing. I'm thinking maybe some Indian Ragas might do the trick but I don't really know anything about this type of music. Most Western music has too many changes in it for Poker, or is just boring/sleepy.

These Qawwal videos are pretty cool. Also this page of Qawwalli mp3's is good.

8/19/2006

08-19-06 [poker] - 2

I bring you more gossip from the high stakes poker world :

Gus Hansen recently joined team Full Tilt and has been playing online a lot recently. Apparently he's really bad and has lost about $1M in the past two weeks. Some claim it's slightly less but everyone agrees he's lost a ton. The same is true of Mike Matusow who's dumped at least $200k online recently by playing drunk and/or tilting wildly, and apparently Prahlad Friedman has dropped a few $100k recently as well to massive tilt.

The latest high stakes sensation is "aba" aka "sbrugby", a UCSB grad student who's made about $1M online this year. Aba is a 2+2'er like myself, and he's got me inspired again to make the run up the limits and try to take my game to the higher levels. I'm about to move up to NL400 once I can get some quality time to focus on the game. I'm almost done with moving junk so it should be soon.

I've been doing really well at NL200 recently despite losing a bunch of stacks to bad luck and bad play. The more I play the more I just get very simple and straightforward. That doesn't mean readable or weak - it just means not overthinking. I still float & bluff, but the key is to do those things rarely, and to do them in spots when your opponent is obviously weak. I used to think if you bluff when your opponent is showing weakness, they'll know it's a bluff and call. Conversely, if you bluff when they're obviously strong, they'll put you on a monster and fold. No no, they're awful, just play simple.

08-19-06 [poker] - 1

+$2000 today, pretty nice; various bad suckouts against me of course, but also this beauty in my favor. A classic of "play bad, get there".

08-19-06 - 2

Rent Control is sort of a strange economic force, which I'm not sure is positive. On my street, there are a lot of people who have lived in the same place for 20 years, and now have little or no income but easily pay their tiny rent. (Under rent control, their rent goes up by inflation each year; that would be roughly how much it would rise anyway, except that demand and surging population has driven it up much faster than inflation in popular places like NY and SF). Now, landlords still need to pay mortgages and such, so the result is that when they get a vacant unit, they list it for *more* than what they would if not for rent control. It needs to be higher to compensate for the units that are rent controlled, and also because they know they can't raise it for many years in the future.

So, what happens then in an area that gentrifies, like The Mission is doing currently? Demand surges and the richer kids want to move in. 75% of the units stay locked up in rent controlled tenants that represent the long-term demographic. The other units are even more expensive that if there was no rent control. It seems to me the result is great stratification of the groups. Rather than everyone roughly paying the same, you have newer, richer, and the locked in old group.

What if you didn't have rent control? Rents all over the neighborhood would shoot up and the families that have been here for years would have to move, out to less desirable areas farther away, mom & pop stores would shut down, people would have to commute, etc. So, that sort of sucks.

Compare what happens to owners & renters when an area gentrifies - the owners hit the jackpot, they get to stay there and profit from it enormously; renters without rent control are screwed, their rent shoots up and they have to move, which can be very hard on a poor family, uprooting from schools, jobs, local contacts, etc.

It seems to me that there could be some sort of compromise. For one thing it shouldn't be so easy for land lords to kick you out and raise the rent. Perhaps they should have to give you 1 year notice, or make the max annual rent raise = inflation + 5% or something. Another option is that rent control could only apply to a portion of the units, or to low income renters. If your income qualifies as "low income" then landlord can't raise rent over 25% of your income or something like that. Of course this would make landloards loathe to rent to low income people so there would have to be better laws in place to prevent discrimination.

08-19-06 - 1

In the US tax system (like most) there are many demographic transfers of money. Overall all the money comes from citizens and goes back to citizens (we'll ignore for now that some goes to foreign corporations or foreign governments). It also generally flows from the rich to the poor, though perhaps not so much as you think when you include sales taxes and where government contracting money tends to go.

It also flows strongly in other ways that aren't often acknowledged :

honest -> cheaters ; this is not just about reporting your taxes, but also about business that lobby questionably, etc.

renters -> homeowners ; bailouts too, eg. when they do disaster bailouts, that's a huge subsidy of homeowners, and in fact massive government spending to develop highways & suburbs has been a huge subsidy of homeowners & builders. Mostly this is the interest tax credit, though. Property tax does not balance this since it doesn't even pay for the infrastructure required to service & access your home.

single -> married w/ children ; there are massive tax breaks for marriage & children, but perhaps even more signficant is the amount of government spending on children, in Education, health care, etc.

Basically honest, wealthy, single, childless renters are huge money providers to the rest of the demographics.

8/18/2006

08-18-06 - 1

I did something awful to my neck in my sleep. I'm in horrible pain even on the advil. Ooooweeee.


Guide to CitySearch ratings : 9.0 = tolerable, 9.4 = not bad, 9.7 = pretty good, 9.8 = good. Sort of like Olympic judging scores. If something is rated below an 8, OMG, be afraid, be very afraid.

"Cafe Ethiopia" is pretty tasty Ethiopian, which I enjoy the whole experience of, but the ambience is hillariously bad, the door dings and the floor is white tile just like a 7-11 or something, the waitress/owner was totally cold and bizarre to us, she shuffles up like it's such a hassle to serve you.

8/17/2006

08-17-06 - 1

Hmm. Dan and I have been anxiously awaiting the Curb/CYE DVD which recently came out (and it's awesome), but I just realized I'm a moron. We could've been downloading torrents all along.

8/16/2006

08-16-06 - 4

The insurance companies are showing again what scum-bags they are by refusing to pay for damages from Katrina. It's truly laughable in a sad Kafka-like way that they've actually tried to avoid paying any damage at all, since they claim the damage is from "flooding" (not covered) and not "hurricane" (covered). Just like with the World Trade Center crisis, a great tragedy hits our nation and rather than pay out policies, they pinch pennies and get subsidized by the Govt. Afterwards, they'll raise rates to pay off the little bit they did pay out. The way insurance is run in this country, it's a no-lose business. Warren Buffet is supposed to be this genius investor, but the truth is almost all of his fortune comes from insurance companies, which are basically giant corrupt money-gathering beaurocracies similar to my own ScamCo. A fair insurance company would have ups and downs; in fact, small insurance companies should often go out of business; only large insurance companies can survive major disasters, and they should take huge losses in those years. In fact, with massive unforeseen disasters, insurance companies should take losses that they might not make back for 10-20 years.

Here's the whole idea of insurance : say something bad might happen to me, there's a 0.1% chance of it per year and it would cost me -$100k. The average annual cost from that is $100. Rather than take the risk myself, I pay an insurance company the $100 each year - that is exactly enough for them to break even on the deal; they don't need any more money, but I also pay a little more for the administrative costs & to give them a profit. So, perhaps I pay $110 a year. Now, their profit on that should be about $5/year, which is a nice premium. If the bad thing every does happen they would have to pay out $100k. The next year, my premimum should still be $110, since the chance of the bad event didn't change, they just got unlucky and had to pay it. They can never make back that $100k from me - they take a big loss because they got unlucky and the bad thing happened. However, over a large enough customer base & time frame, it should all average out and they just make that 5% annual profit.

The problem is, every year they don't pay out, they're feel like they're getting $105 profit. The books look great and investors love them. They come to hate the idea of ever having to pay out damages. They want to make a profit from each policy, not the aggregate. They also start to feel like your premiums should pay for your damages, instead of it being a risk. So, say you get the bad event. For one thing they'll try to avoid paying. If they do pay, they'll bump your premium to $500 or something in order to get you to pay off the damages.

Some insurance consumers don't realize how wrong this is. They think of insurance as sort of like "life insurance" where you're paying your premimum in to an account, and when something bad happens it comes out of your payments, and your payments might go up to balance that account. That's not at all how it works and it's their manipulation to make you think that. Insurnace companies also manipulate the markets to suggest that they have pay out from their income. That's far from true; insurance companies should be prepared to pay out far more than their income.

08-16-06 - 3

Seems like TV program AVI torrents are now common & high-quality enough that they could easily be your sole way of watching TV. Someone should make a TiVo-like torrent scrounger. Basically you sign up for a "Season Pass" of a TV show, and it pulls down torrents of new episodes. There needs to be a standard way of identifying episodes so you don't get different people's scans of the same episodes. Also this works great for popular/new shows but you can't get less popular stuff or reruns.

High Stakes Poker isn't on TV here in San Francisco, but who cares, there are awesome torrents for it, and it's higher quality than my cable feed. poker torrents is a great collection of feeds.

08-16-06 - 2

"Saigon Sandwich" on Larkin truly is the bomb, and for $2.50 it is the cheap delicious ethnic lunch of legend.

08-16-06 - 1

CocoRosie is somewhat cool. also this one

8/15/2006

08-15-06 - 6

Oh crap. I just realized I'm playing a lot of my poker these days on Danielle's account, and pulling out money through here. For tax purposes, that means we have to declare the income on her income tax, and then report the "gift". Yikes.

08-15-06 - 5

I'm trying to find a cheapo gym. I don't want to pay $50/month for a bunch of shite I'm not going to use. I just want a room with a bunch of free weights and some benches.

08-15-06 - 4

Charles Bloom is the new proprieter of ScamCo. "ScamCo is dedicated to improving the customer service experience of our customers. We're adding thousands of subscribers each week." Here's what we do at ScamCo : we send out mass mail which automatically enrolls you as a ScamCo customer (if you don't want to be enrolled, simply fill out the decline forms, call our long distance number to get them, mail them in to three addresses). Once you're automatically signed up, you will receive a simple bill each month; for your convenience you can choose automatic credit card billing. You can quit at any time. Simply pay a $100 processing fee for your disconnection; stopping service may take 6-18 weeks and we'll continue billing during that time for your convenience. Any questions or concerns about your ScamCo service, simply call our long distance customer service number; we're proud to announce wait times are now down under 5 hours!

08-15-06 - 3

We ate at "Tao Cafe" a little while ago; it's a semi-upscale Vietnamese "bistro" type place, which is natural since Vietnam has such a French influence. It's like half a block from our house, and it's supposed to be really good according to the web, but I found it rather "meh". It's got that "trying to be fancy" vibe that makes me uncomfortable. The servers just come off as cold; a good fine dining waiter feels friendly but invisible, not at all invasive; these were obviously people trying to be something they're not. The food is tasty, good quality, but the spicing and flavoring is a lot milder than a divey ethnic Vietnamese

08-15-06 - 2

Bah; why are printers and print spoolers such pieces of garbage? Why can't I get error info; why do things just mysteriously not print, or print out all weird, or print out the code stream un-decoded so you get #@$@#*)@#$ characters all over!? Why can't I just freaking cancel a document that's failed to print? ARG.

Furthermore - if you print something when your printer is offline, then power everything off and power it back up (bring the printer online), Windows will just start printing while you're still at the log on screen. That's brutally awful and ridiculously stupid on so many levels I can't even begin to debate the reasonableness of this approach. It seems like the whole print/spool system is some left over garbage legacy system from 1980 which has had layers of cruft piled on for years to add features without actually fixing the way the basic system works for a modern USB/multi-user/plug-n-play/networked environment. Oh wait, that's the entire MicroSoft codebase... (ok, I got distracted, this isn't really an MS thing, so far as I know printers on all other platforms are whack also).

08-15-06 - 1

I came up with a trick recently : to restore a glass of day old wine : pour in half a shot of port. Day old wine gets more acidic, a bit nasty; the sweetness of the port calms that down, it just sort of tastes like a nice rich wine. I guess it's similar to "fortified wine" which is awful. (one of my worst pet peeves at restaurants is when they try to pass off day old bottles of wine; cheap bastard restaurants do it all the time to save money, if they don't sell a bottle in a night they keep it for the next night, sometimes for multiple days; when you're paying $8 for a glass of wine that's only $8 for the bottle in a store, I want a fresh freaking glass. Oh, and don't bring me stale bread you freaking cheap bastards).

8/14/2006

08-14-06 - 2

Found this funny quote, Re: my ticket :

Dr. MacIntyre commented that because driveway complaints must be registered with DPT before citations are issued and citations are annotated with the phrase "by complaint" with the complainants� residential addresses, recipients of driveway parking citations are made aware of the identity of the complainant. Often violators receiving citations retaliate against the residents, i.e., bricks thrown through the window of the complaints� residence, homes egged, and even some residents having been physically attacked by the violators who are often university students.

Found some interesting things about parking laws in SF :

1. SF requires you to have a front license plate. This is not a state law and I know of no other city that requires it; my car currently has no front plate because I think they're very ugly. SF charges a $100 ticket for no front plate and apparently they DO issue that ticket.

2. In limitted-time parking areas, like "1 Hour parking", you must move your car at least one block away to avoid a ticket! If you park 50 minutes in one spot then move to another spot and stay another 50 minutes, you might get a ticket if it's less than one block away. That's pretty evil.

3. They give tickets for not curbing your wheels. I guess that's sort of reasoanble, but again it's something that you really have no way of knowing you're going to get fined for.

4. Apparently the wicked ticket which they regularly give is stopping at a bus stop. If you stop your car even briefly at a bus stop to pick up or drop someone off, you can get a $250 ticket. Also, apparently this ticket can be given by witnessing your car on a red light camera recording, so you may think you're in the clear and then find a ticket in the mail weeks later.

One thing I can't figure out are the "Bus Only" lanes. These are all over the city, and people seem to drive in them all the time. Often they're the right lane and you have to go in them to make a right turn. I can't find the law on it, but it seems like you really are forbidden to drive in them; dunno what the enforcement is like on that.

Also double parking is this weird gray area. I guess technically double parking even for a minute is illegal, but people do it all the time. Given the draconian enforcement of other laws, it's strange this is not vigorously pursued. Another weird thing is the parking in the middle of the street on Dolores, Guerrero and Valencia, particularly on Sunday. I'm not sure what the conditions are that make this legal.

08-14-06 - 1

I thought of a brilliant scheme to get rich. Buy heads of lettuce. Peel off all the outer leaves so you preserve just the hard stem bit and the spear-like tiny leaves at the base. Sell this core labelled as an "endive" for more than the cost of the lettuce. Also sell the leaves as "salad mix" for more than the cost of the lettuce. Then you get the money. Then you get the wee-meen.

8/13/2006

08-13-06 - 7

I really really fucking hate going out to breakfast with people. For one thing the food usually sucks and way is overpriced; breakfast is super easy and fun to make at home, I can make hella good french toast, pancakes, I buy Niman Ranch ham steaks, bacon, etc. for cheap at TJ's. The main problem, though, is that it takes so long to get everyone together and then wait at the always-slammed breakfast restaurant, that by the time we're there I'm starving and in a horrible mood because I haven't eaten yet and my blood sugar is crashing.

BAH! Fucking whore, my neighbor just complained and got me a ticket for blocking her driveway. I was like barely sticking out into and she had plenty of space to get in/out. Apparently she has a history of frivolous complaints, she's known in the neighborhood. I've now been here 5 days and have 2 tickets for $100. Pretty fucking sweet. Now I plan my revenge.

08-13-06 - 6

Humans are incredibly susceptible to taking the easy way out, or avoiding inconvenience or conflict. If you want someone to do something, make it the easy default. The option that's good for them is difficult or annoying to acheive. This happens is software all the type - MS installs a bunch of crud all hooked together by default; sure you can plug in different apps but that's complicated and time consuming, in practice nobody (1% of users) does it. Of course commercial services do it all the time. You get the $50/month plan. If you call and wait on hold for an hour you can get $5 off per month. That adds up to be well worth it over the years, but nobody does it. You get some great mail in rebate, but you have to xerox your box top and mail out five copies with completed forms, then call in exactly 30 days later. No one does it.

Video game producers use this trick all the time. Programmers are well known to hate meetings and human interaction in general, so the trick is just to keep talking to the programmer until he gives in. "Can I have this feature in 2 days?" "Umm no, it's more like a 4 day task to do it right." "Well, what if you do this and this, can I have it then?" "Um, no, let me explain how coding works..." "Uh, okay, but what if we just don't debug it, can I have it in 2 days then?" ... the meeting goes on and on and finally the programmer surrenders, "Okay fine, I'll do it", thinking to himself "just go away and let me work", and knowing full well he's compromising the schedule and giving himself late nights.

Some human beings go about their whole lives like this. They create an aura about themselves that they will be incredibly unpleasant, bitchy, argumentative, if they don't get their way. Their way may be awful, but you go with it to avoid the trouble of dealing with them.

In sales/retail situations this principle comes into play all the time. Stores by default are in a mode to screw you over. They do this because they know 99% of the time you won't protest because humans hate conflict and hassles, you'll just take the extra charge or the crappy service or whatever and not complain. The opposite action is that if you do complain and make a big stink they will usually just give in and let you have your way because they also hate hassle; they're only screwing you over because it's so easy, once it becomes a hassle for them they give in too.

Lawyers and cities make their income with this principle. They can easily drop a fine or a suit on you which could be totally bogus, but most people will rightly just pay it rather than fight it because it's so much trouble to fight. Just imagine if you could walk up to anyone and take $20 from them and hand them a form detailing a very complicated process to get it back + interest. Most people would just let the $20 go; they might intend to do the process, they might even do the first steps of printing forms and mailing them in, but then they call and get put on hold and just say "fuck it". Of course this sounds ridiculous, but it happens all the time.

It also happens when the Vice President wants the intelligence to indicate there are WMD's and Al Qaeda ties in Iraq. He calls the CIA "did you find them?". They say no. The next day, "did you find them?". They say no. Every day. Several times a day. Goes and grills the analysts. Finally they just say "okay, fine". It works too when Rumsfeld grills his generals, "Can we do it with less troops?" "No, we need 400k", "Okay, I'm going to assign a bunch of awful beaurocrats and you can meet with them every day and work out a plan for less troops" "OMG, please not that, okay I'll agree, we can do it with less troops". It's sick that this simple principle of human weakness is at play even on the most critical of national security issues, when people's lives are at stake.

08-13-06 - 5

The dirty secret about heirloom tomatos is that most of them just don't taste very good. Yes, they're beautiful in all their colors, and of course an organic vine-ripened heirloom will taste far better than a grocery store tomato that was picked green and sat for a week at a distributor. However, varieties like Champion and Early Girl have been cultivated and bred to improve them for a hundred years with modern science and they've got enhanced sugar content, acidity, and firmness. Many heirlooms are mushy, watery, bland. Also good tomato flavor has more to do with the soil, temperature, sun, and water than anything else. The way to perfect tomatos is the Japanese growing method : let the plants get medium size then pinch them off so they stop growing and put all their energy into fruit; if they make too much fruit, pinch off some of the buds to limit the number of tomatos on any one plant. Finally, when they are close to maturity, reduce the amount of watering to near-drought levels, so that the fruit doesn't become big and heavy with water, but rather stays small and full of concentrated flavor. Almost no farmer does this because they make so much more money growing as many on a plant as possible of water-bloated big tasteless tomatos.

08-13-06 - 4

The Frontline episode "The Dark Side" is good. Nothing new at all in it, but a well gathered look at what happened; IMHO Frontline is the very best news show on television, and it's not even close.

I'm reminded of another human-weakness thing (see earlier post). It's that good people flee unpleasant situations, and the awful bosses sort of win by attracting people like them. Say you have a good business full of smart reasonable employees. Suddenly a really awful manager is hired. He imposes all sorts of ridiculous rules (you must arrive exactly at 9 AM each morning, you must wear Hawaiian shirts on Friday, there will be a meeting each morning where everyone must announce how much they love the company, etc.). The good employees will quit one by one, the awful manager will hire on replacements similar to himself, and thus he wins at transforming the company in his image.

This has happened in our government since 2001 at an unprecedented rate. Career beaurocrats, military members, intelligence analysts, etc. are resigning left and right because they cannot stand to work in this administration. They are, of course, being replaced by people favored by Bush's appointees. This turnover of all the levels of government staff will have a profound effect which will last 20-30 years.

08-13-06 - 3

Wikipedia bashing has become popular, and is both idiotic and not funny. Wikipedia information can be wrong just like any information can be wrong. Blindly accepting anything that any source tells you is foolish and always has been.

08-13-06 - 2

WTF is up with the slowness of PDF drawing maps? I worked on a GIS that did similar line drawing of maps back in like 1993 or so, we were on like 486-DX-33 machines or something like that and we drew big maps in near real time. PDF/Acroread drawing multi-layered maps you can actually see it refreshing each layer of the map one by one. It would be sort of a sweet retro feeling, reminding me of the old 7 MHz Amiga I used to love, except for the fact that it's so unfreaking-believably annoying!!!

08-13-06 - 1

We saw "Lawrence of Arabia" at the Castro as part of their 70 mm series. I love that movie, it's so beautiful, and Pete O'Toole is such a charming scamp. The Castro Theatre is a gem, the hammered bronze ceiling in the main theatre is gorgeous, but the screen is actually a bit small (it wasn't built to be a movie theatre). Personally I couldn't detect the benefits of the 70 mm print, I'd rather see it in a Cinerama theatre or something like that with a super-wide screen. It's also funny seeing the British actors with putty noses and dark makeup to try to look arab. The evil Turk is gay, the arabs are primitive and barbaric, O'Toole and others wear a ridiculous amount of stage makeup, etc.. lots of funny anachronisms. It's also a great movie to watch given the events in the Middle East these days, though I imagine even the educated San Francisco audience doesn't really understand the context (Prince Faisal in the movie became the first King of Iraq, which was one of the many countries carved by the British out of the Ottoman Empire; oil wasn't discovered until around 1930); (I don't really get it all either, it's a very complicated history; for example, how does the Arab revolt against the Turks relate to the rise of the Wahhabi tribes in Saudi Arabia? what was happening in Israel between WW1 and WW2 and what was the British role?)

I also noticed that "Lawrence of Arabia" is essentially "Dune". They would make a good double feature (a ten hour double feature).

8/12/2006

08-12-06 - 2

Is this a typo?

08-12-06 - 1

Ferry Building farmer's market Saturday is pretty good, excellent stuff and not crazy pricey. The shops inside are meh and overpriced. I dunno, I don't like the vibe at any of these upscale food shops, the staff is always in a big rush, if I'm going to spend $30/lb on cheese I want to have a good experience and talk to the staff and get educated and have some taste samples. The J line is very convenient for us and a pleasant ride. Acme bread is good but not like spectacular for the markup. "Ferry Plaza Seafood" is meh, cold bread is disgusting, it needs to be toasted, but the crab was top notch. Frog Hollow Farm oddly has very excellent espresso, and not so oddly very good turnovers.

Lucca is the bomb. It's an Italian deli/market with great meats, cheeses and prepared items like house made sausage and raviolis. Quality is superb and it's very cheap. WTG Lucca.

Oh, and WTF is up with Tartine not opening until 8 ? It's a freaking cafe/bakery, they're supposed to open at 5 AM or something sick early. The other good cafe on Gurrero (Que Tal) doesn't open until 8 either. You freaking lazy hippies, get up and make my pastries!

There's a lot of really good furniture shops in the Mission, with modern stuff from the 50's-60's, stuff like the old Danish style, Eames-alikes, I love that stuff.

On a related note, I had sold my Concept 2 Rower (awesome rowing machine, but too big for this apartment) for like $600 cash, so I was loaded with cash, and now it's all gone. The plethora of restaurants and tasty shopping options here is a very dangerous cash suction, I'll have to watch myself. I've never been a big shopper, I don't crave toys, I have no I-Pod, my cell phone is like 4 years old (that I got for free used from a friend), same with my TV, etc. but if I walk past tree-ripened nectarines or a flaky croissant, I can't resist them.

8/09/2006

08-09-06 - 4

Chess programs like Deep Blue answer the wrong question, and IMHO it's not a very interesting one : can a brute force computer program beat a human? Sure. What's more interesting is : can a top human do better against a range of competition than the computer can? eg. does a human's awareness of the metagame and other players allow them to beat brute force simulation of the game.

Think about RoShamBo. Obviously a computer playing {random} cannot be beat. But that's not the interesting question, the more interesting thing is how to maximize your record against a range of smart & not so smart opponents. The same thing is true for poker. A poker program playing the game theory solution cannot be beat, but it may be far from optimal against a range of bad opponents, and humans playing against humans may be able to do far better by using the metagame and side channels of communication (speech, body language, etc., eg. the main channel of communication is the game action sequence, but there are side channels which can improve your play).

08-09-06 - 3

I have an old shirt that says "Dork" that I found in a thrift store, it's vintage 90's when they thought it was cool and funny to wear a shirt that just says "Dork". To me, this shirt is the epitome of modern ironic pop-culture-self-referential fashion.

It was originally intended to be funny because obviously the person wearing it was so cool (hey, they're wearing a Dork shirt, they must be cool), so the shirt was ironic and they were in fact not a dork.

The modern ironic wearer can wear it because they are aware that the original wearers were in fact dorks after all, and so the shirt is funny because it was in fact accurate in labeling its wearer a Dork.

But then, is the modern ironic wearer himself a dork or not? He's aware that it's dorky to think he's not a dork and the irony is funny, so that makes him a dork, but if he's aware and doing it ironically, then he's not a dork? But then it's not really funny, so he's just wearing a stupid shirt that he thinks is funny and ironic and it's not, so really that's pretty dorky.

So I enjoy the riddle of the dork shirt.

08-09-06 - 2

Things I learned in the move :

1. OMG it's worth it to pay for movers. They are kind of a rip off. Movers for us would've been around $1200, and doing it ourselves the total cost was around $500 (gas being about $150), but the $700 difference would've been a good value in the effort and pain and stress and time.

2. Do not, DO NOT use the U-Haul drive-on car towing thingies. Also don't bother with their insurance. The drive-on car thingy has lots of weird flanges and angles which will scrape the hell out of any car that's at all low (like mine). If your car has very high carriage (lots of clearance) it's fine. Just get the front-wheel tow. It works fine, and you have none of those problems. The U-Haul insurance for towing covers things like lightning, flood, fire. It does not cover damage to your car done by the trailer, or damage to the car from road debris or collision while being towed. Basically anything that's likely to happen and you might want covered, is not covered.

3. Shit, avoid any kind of funny driving situation when driving a big truck with a trailer. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT ever try to reverse with the trailer other than very simple straight-back reverses. Do not get off any freeway exit you aren't familiar with. Do not pull into a gas station unless you can see an easy path of exit. Holy crap what a nightmare. Also, do not try to do anything with the trailer when parked on a slope. Park on flat ground. (Both my houses are on huge slopes).

4. Mexican day laborers are hella good workers. The U-Haul place on Bayshore in San Francisco has a bunch of day laborers waiting outside and when you come out they ask if you need help. Pick up two of those guys and your truck will be empty in an hour. They work hard for cheap and are very convenient. Our guys spoke broken English, but I have a little Spanish, and between us we did okay. The amount of damage they did was less than when I've used professional bonded movers.

5. If you're parking your moving truck on a steep slope, it's better to park facing downhill than facing uphill. Facing downhill you have to fight the slope to get things out, but that's not too bad. Facing uphill, everything falls out when you open the back, and in fact the pressure of everything trying to fall out might mean you can't even open the back.

6. I learned lots of things about moving out and getting your deposit. Some of these are specific to CA. First of all, generally - if your place is in good shape and you think you might get your whole deposit back, hire professional cleaners to thoroughly clean and you will probably get 100% of your deposit because your landlord doesn't really want to itemize and do all the paperwork to hold some. If your place is in awful shape, don't bother doing anything, they're going to take the whole deposit, just let them. Specifically : A) Landlord must pay you the interest accrued on your held security deposit. B) Landlord must do a pre-moveout inspection to tell you anything you have to fix and must give you a written copy of that. C) If work needs to be done, landlord must take several bids & provide you with receipts for work done. D) Landlord must charge you for damage relative to prorated value. eg. if the carpet cost $1000 to put in and you lived there two years, prorated value might be $800; Landlord can only charge you for damage beyond $200. E) When judging cleanliness, you only need to restore the unit to the state it was at move in. eg. if the walls were dirty at move in, you can have them at the same level of dirty on move out and landlord can't charge you.

7. Get a bigger truck that you think you need. That was bad; we got a 14' truck and started to fill it and realized it was not going to work, so we went back and got a 17' truck and filled that thing to the gills, and still had to load stuff on top of my car and leave some things behind. Also, having a trailer on the truck is 1000X harder than having a bigger truck. It's easier to drive a 20' truck than it is to drive a 12' with a trailer.

08-09-06 - 1

Bi-Rite is garbage. Boycott them, you fools! p.s. so is Valencia Whole Foods; can't we have a decent grocery store with well-informed staff that's not a major rip off? Don't give me some nonsense about high rent, the Mexican market down the street is selling entire cows for ten cents.

8/08/2006

08-08-06 - 1

I'm in SF yesterday, we moved in yesterday and it was brutal ordeal. Right now I'm in an internet cafe and I've just realized how badly I missed being online the last few days. I feel powerless, igorant, lost with the net. The net is my sixth sense that lets me see all, know all; computers are the world where I feel competent, capable, at home, comfortable; out in the real world I'm unskilled, idiotic, weak.

8/04/2006

08-04-06 - 4

If you ever come to San Luis Obispo, there's a really good "Bike Map" available; I guess local bike shops would have it, not sure where else. There's also an "AG Adventures" map which is really good, it lists all the farm stands and U-pick farms and places with tours and stuff like that. Both are really good quality maps even if you're not so much into those activities. Not sure where you can pick up the AG Adventures map, probably at the visitor center or something. I never knew about these things or perhaps they didn't exist, it took me years to learn everything in them.

08-04-06 - 3

I just thought of a cool art installation idea. Set up a museum space to be like a Natural History Museum or a British Museum (stolen artifacts from other civilizations), but fill it entirely with made up stuff. Make the animals like Mathew Barney creations, the sculptures and vases and jewelry of the fallen civilization just some entirely made up culture of a place that doesnt exist, ala Borges. The whole exhibit should be totally deadpan, don't let on anywhere that it's all made up, just present it as "Relics of the Lost Civilization of Udar-Ktu".

08-04-06 - 2

It's a good time to buy "PartyGaming" right now. Any time a stock gets hammered because of short term bad news, you should buy. "Neteller" was an awesome buy a few weeks ago, it got hammered by the scare about the online gaming bill, but it's already bounced back.

08-04-06 - 1

I've got a bunch of books like "Temperley Lieb Recoupling Theory and Invariants of 3-Manifolds" from my days studying topological quantum field theory and such things. I've realized I'm never ever going to read them again, and they're heavy and I have a lot of them. So, I'm just throwing them out.

8/03/2006

08-03-06 - 3

So, I put Dan's car up on various sites, and I put my cats up on PetFinder. So far the only two contacts have been very interesting.

I got a contact about the car that was very suspicious; it was someone out of state and they had some funny arrangements. I sent back an email and it became immediately clear it was the fake check scam that's very common. What they do is send you a fake cashier's check and say someone will pick it up. They add the tow truck fee to the cashier's check and ask you to pay the pickup people via Western Union. Of course, Western Union takes real money from you and then you find out the check is fake and say "D'oh".

The contact about the cats was also immediately suspicious. It was obviously a form letter and the guy said he would arrange pickup. I asked a few questions and got this reply :

"the cats are for my family pet, I have a shipping company that will handle the pick up".

Which I presume means they're going to be shipped in a box to be fed to a crocodile or a tiger or something like that !?

08-03-06 - 2

A lot of people who are pro-electric-car don't really understand why it may or may not be good. They think electricity is like this magic juice that doesn't pollute, that it means you have an emission free vehicle. In reality, almost all electricity is made by burning fossil fuels. An electric car simply gets its energy from the fossil fuels that are burned in a power plant and sent over the wires. An efficient gas-burning car such as a "hybrid" gets its energy by burning fossil fuels directly in the car. In both cases you're just cracking carbon to make power. Depending on the details, one or the other may be more efficient; it's not at all clear that the pure-electric car is more efficient. The biggest advantage of the electric car is you can in theory get the energy from natural gas or "clean coal" or nuclear power, which pollute less and cost less than gasoline. In reality, most of our power plants are quite inefficient and pollute much more than they could/should.

08-03-06 - 1

I ordered by San Francisco Cable + Internet through "comcastoffers". From reading around on the net it appears to be a legitimate affiliate company that provides a good deal. They do, how ever, make it as painful as possible for you to actually get your rebate. Sigh.

I guess when I move I'm going to be offline for a while until I get the new internet service. Holy crap, what am I going to do with myself? Google needs to hurry up and put that free WiFi in the city.

8/01/2006

08-01-06 [poker] - 1

"Reverse Martingale" (betting more when ahead) obviously does not work in terms of EV, but it does mean that you are usually either UP a LOT or DOWN a LITTLE. In terms of real life, that's a pretty good system. If you're gambling small, maximizing your EV or hourly rate really doesn't do much for you. However, maximizing the chance of a big win while minimizing the risk of a big loss is pretty cool.

A lot of bad semi-pro poker players use a sort of Reverse Martingale system with their bankrolls. They play 100NL until they have $1000 or so, then move up to 200NL, they keep moving up as they win until they get to the top levels. Usually they play the top level for a while with a $100k bankroll until they go bust. Part of the reason why Martingale is not a good idea in poker is that the higher stakes are more difficult. If they were all the same difficulty, this system would not be bad, but by taking your good lucky winnings and playing at the much harder top level, you're playing very -EV.

08-01-06 - 2

TODO :

upload my FmtTextOut thingy

convert this blog to WordPress

put a Google search of my page here

put adds up

finish some of my better poker articles like the stack sizes one

08-01-06 - 1

So it looks like we're gonna move Sunday-Monday. We're renting a UHaul and doing it ourselves. It's gonna be fun parking & unloading in San Francisco. I guess the standard thing you do is just double park on the street and move if someone has to get their car out. Adding to the fun our apartment is on a very sloped street, as is so common in San Francisco.

I still haven't figured out what to do with the cats. I guess I'm going to try to give them away, perhaps to someone I can get them back from. This is my prototype of the "please take my cats" page .

old rants