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San Francisco, USA

 

Tipped Uber Driver

After using Uber for three years, this is the first time I have tipped a driver. I was making a trip from Berkeley to San Francisco. The quote was ten dollars for UberPOOL or twenty something for a regular Uber. I didn't understand how the pool fare can be less than half of the full fare. But it sounded like an easy choice for me. Just the bridge toll would have been five dollars, which I wasn't even charged for after I reviewed my bill.

I had a casual discussion with the driver. He believed he will get 80% of the ten dollars for this trip. I thought he misunderstood. He should have gotten 80% of the full fare while Uber get the sum of from all the POOL riders. On this particular trip, I was the only one. So the company would have lost money because it was too optimistic and quoted the price too low. In any case, ten dollars just seemed too good to be true. I decided to share my good fortune and handed him a five dollar tips at the end of the trip. This was the first time I tipped. I felt happy for it.

This morning I had an embarrassing incident. I have boarded a bus to go to work. I put my wallet against the clipper card reader and anticipated it to beep. It didn't. It dawned on me that I have taken out the clipper card last night and must have forgotten to put it back into the wallet. Guess I had to pay cash then. I found an one dollar bill, a bunch of coins, most of them nickels. I kept counting and counting and scrambling to come up with the 2.25 fare. Seeing my awkward moves, the gentlement standing next to me just handed me an one dollar bill. He saved my day. There was probably some good karma at play.

2016.11.30 comments

 

Golden Gate Bridge Run

My 8 mile run to Golden Gate Bridge and back today. It is a gorgeous route with some hills in Presidio. Add another 7 miles round trip of bike ride from my home to the starting point.

2016.11.25 comments

 

Elon Musk wants to die on Mars

This issue's National Geographic is about Mars exploration. Elon Musk himself is advancing the effort with his company SpaceX. He reportedly said he wants to die on Mars.

I am a lot less interested in Sci Fi these days compares to when I was a child. The idea of colonizing Mars no longer excites me. Suppose our earth is too ruined or too full that some people want to move to Mars? But is our earth really too full?

Mars Colony
Mars Colony

What if instead of Mars, we create a new colony on some remote and barely inhibited places on Earth? Let's say the South Georgia Island. There are a population of mere 30. With the resources for Mar Exploration it can easily buy them out and put them into some nice apartments in London. Then you have the whole island to do whatever you want.

South Georgia's land mass is unfortunately fairly small. How about we find some places in Alaska? Given the history of manifest destiny, I'd think the United State government will be quite open for people to settle in remote areas in Alaska. Beyond Alaska, there are plenty of land available in Kamchatka, Siberia, etc.

You many protest that these places are barely inhibited because they are terribly harsh for human. Yeah, the sea is ice-locked in the winter (if it is a warm water port Russia definitely won't it give away). But could we trust the SpaceX engineers to figure something out, couldn't we? If they are good enough to send cargo to space they should be good enough to send stuff to the Arctic. Perhaps some places do not have enough water to support a large population. I don't know how do you get water on Mars. But here on earth we have the ocean and we have the technology for desalination. It is costly perhaps, but a proven technology. However horrible is a piece of land on earth, it is really a heaven compares to Mars.

Better still, if the colony does not work out, you can easily back out. Why die on Mars when you can return home?

2016.11.20 comments

 

Cheers City Car Share

Anyone remember these green Volkswagen Beetle? Back in 2001 City Car Share began one of the first car sharing operation in United States, starting with a fleet of green Beetles. People paid an annual fee so that they can rent the car by hour, picking up and returning to a designated spot. I have joined in 2004, just as they were phrasing out the green Beetles and replacing them with a wide selection of cars. Let me tell you the Volkswagen Beetle is a terrible car. There was a good reason that this iconic fleet didn't last.

city car share beetle
City car share beetle (BBC)

Fast forward to 2016, what a difference the landscape has become. Not only is car share exploded, hundreds of cars are available throughout San Francisco and beyond. We also have ride sharing, privately owned car sharing, bike sharing, scooters sharing, ... So many transportation options are available these days.

Now City Car Share has turned a new page. First they have merged with Carma last year. And now they are turning over their booking to Getaround. The news is bittersweet to me. Setting up as an non-profit, City Car Share is an oddity among other well financed companies. It is an accomplishment for them to have gone this far. It is perhap inevitable for a local company to be subsumed by large scale national company with greater resources.

Looking back to 2001 when the few people started City Share with a lofty goal to offer an alternative to car ownership, the success 15 years later is beyond the wildest imagination. Let's give a round of applause to this transportation pioneer.

2016.11.19 comments

 

System and compressed memory high CPU usage [solved]

A few months ago I have a upgraded to new laptop Lenovo T450s with Windows 10. Usually after a new years, the old computer feels old and slow and a new computer gives you an instant boost. It did not work out so well this time. The shiny new laptop actually feels lot more sluggish than my old one???

Later I tracked this down to a process "System and Compressed memory". It is running at the background and pushing the baseline CPU usage to 40% constantly. This make the computer hot and slow and drain the battery real fast. I have checked for remedy from the web for days. This problem seem to have many different causes. Many fixes were suggested. They worked for other but not for me.

Finally, after a lot of trial and error, I found a single culprit for my laptop. There is a service named "CRON service" from Fork Ltd. I don't know how it got into my computer. But disabling such service put my baseline CPU down to 1%. Months of misery has ended right away!!! If you run into this problem and other advices do not work for you, give this a try.

2016.11.04 comments

 

City By The Bay

After roaming on the road for 15 hours and reached four different states, we were at the end of our journey. The bus came out of the tunnel, riding high on the bridge deck overlooking the blue water below. The skyline of San Francisco has emerged in front of us. People brought out their cameras to snap pictures. I was excited to show off famous landmarks to the international tourists on board, "this is the famous prison island Alcatraz, that is the ferry building, ..." The silhouette of Golden Gate Bridge was in the background, wearing a sheer layer of fog at the time. The weather was perfect. Above of us was blue sky and below was glittering sea. Seeing the high rises on the shore has brought out a sense of excitement in us.

What a glorious approach to the city from the Bay Bridge. It suddenly occurred to me that I might have already made this trip a hundred times. Yet the inspiration has never diminished. It was such a wonder to come to the city by the bay.

2016.10.16 comments

 

City By The Bay

City By The Bay

2016.10.09 comments

 

Climate change law has reshaped California in 10 years

10 years after then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the climate change bill AB32, SF Chronicle has published an article to review the progress. Renewable energy has make a remarkable stride in the last decade. Mostly boosted by solar and wind, they have doubled the contribution to about a quarter of the power mix. They have delivered all their promises and then more.

The Sunday article is largely celebratory. It is a recognition of the marvelous strive we have made to reduce carbon emission. And an example to show what is possible for our future and the rest of the world.

California Power
California Energy (The Chronicle)

But I noticed a dark fact, an elephant in the room nobody has paid attention to. The biggest change in the power mix is not the amazing feat that solar has grown from nothing to 7.7%. The biggest change is that natural gas has increased by 13.5% to contribute 60% of California electricity. Some of this has displaced coal power. But still, entirely unacknowledged in the article, fossil fuels power use has a significant net increase by 6%.

What gives? Instead of transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy, we are just making up for the dramatic reduction in hydro power, and a significant drop in nuclear power. It reminds us there is still a long way to go to actually replacing fossil fuel use.

I believe the world has made a big mistake in retrenching from nuclear power. Imagine instead of shutting down nuclear power plant, we double it from 14% to 28%? Instead of increasing fossil fuel use go up to 60%, we could have knock it down to 46%. To reduce fossil fuel power below half would have been a remarkable achievement for a major economy. This is an audacious goal, but still within the realm of feasibility. Consider Diablo Canyon's capacity is only 2GW and China is building 8GW plants.

When people look back to the early 21 century, they would have regretted that they miss out on an important force to fight climate change because of the outsized fear of nuclear power.

2016.10.01 comments

 

My Appearance in a Giants Game

Boat in Giants Game

I went for rowing this Tuesday. We rowed into McCovey Cove while a Giants games was going on. The camera man took interest in our boat and put us on the screen in the ball park. I was behind the steer man in this picture, at the second oar on the left. It was a fun sport and I got a good workout that night. [more...]

2016.09.29 comments

 

The Electric Man

I have had this cargo bike for two years. It seats two kids on the back easily. When I was initially offered an electric drive option I have declined because it doubles the price. I managed to haul them around in the neighborhood, crawling up hills when I have to, all on the power of my own legs. I was so good I wouldn't need electric assistance. [more...]

2016.09.18 comments

 

San Francisco Opera


On my way home, I caught sight of this giant 10 story tent erected on the Golden Gate Park. Turned out it was San Francisco Opera's free performance in the Park. I have to stopped to listen to it. I sat on the lawn to enjoy the wonderful music in this good if not a little bit chilly afternoon. [more...]

2016.09.14 comments

 

Las Vegas Dream

Las Vegas Dream
Las Vegas at night
radiating heat

come to the throbbing music
gaze at the dancing lights

handsome people swarm in
hobnob with fellows
Brazilian beauties turn up
in dazzling dresses

bursts of laughter
after
rounds of cocktail

we gather at the temple
of sensualities
under the monuments
those lights are as bright
as the sun

Las Vegas
dream the world away

2016.09.10 comments

 

Let's meet at 1am

My work needs me to setup computer system to work across the globe. A key issue is to have a common time reference. This gets tricky because of time zone. Just saying 12pm is imprecise. Which time zone is 12pm reference to? Is it 12pm in San Francisco? Or 12pm in London? Another complication is day light saving adjustment, which make time measure more irregular. [more...]

2016.09.08 comments

 

Will Silicon Valley remain the stronghold for innovation

My attempt to answer the question in Quora about Will Silicon Valley remain the stronghold for innovation. Basically I try to demolish the idea that other people will catchup naturally. [more...]

2016.08.07 comments

 

Santa Monica Night Photos

One night I was walking around and taking some random picture in Santa Monica. After a few accidental mistakes, I found it fun to take pictures without aiming for clear and sharp focus. These are a few that I like. [more...]

2016.07.10 comments

 

Beyond Homelessness

The Chronicle is running a series Beyond Homelessness. They call the problem a civic disgrace. They have an editorial proclaim the reduction of homelessness to the extent humanly possible must be San Francisco’s No. 1 priority. [more...]

2016.07.04 comments

 

Deck Maintenance

Another year, another home maintenance project. I spent an afternoon to replace some severely rotten deck boards. This is how it looks after. [more...]

2016.07.03 comments

 

Bike pit stop

You know how chilly the weather in San Francisco can be. This makes it great temperature for biking though. The air is cool enough I have minimal or no sweat to bike commute to my office. [more...]

2016.06.30 comments

 

Riding LA Metro

Expo Line

I felt so street smart to get around Los Angeles spontaneously with no advance planning using public transit. This includes a ride down the brand new just opened Metro Expo line to Santa Monica downtown. The whole trip from the fabulous Getty Center to Santa Monica, changing from bus once, took a little more than an hour. The same trip in the morning by Uber was less than 30 minutes. Not bad I guess. I also enjoyed a great talk with a visiting PhD candidate in art history on the bus. A nice trip overall. [more...]

2016.06.12 comments

 

Nature Around San Francisco

I have seen some posting of life style guideline around San Francisco Bay Area. One point is that San Francisco is good for young people who enjoy night life. And South Bay is for family and nature lover. People who said that must have some preconceived notion about urban is the opposite of nature. I have lived in San Francisco for years and I rarely go to bar. On the other hand I am completely charm by the nature offer in and around San Francisco. It turns out in some great place, this above idea is just wrong. Both city and nature can present together in one place. [more...]

2016.05.13 comments

 

past articles »

 

BBC News

 

Italy referendum: PM Renzi's future in the balance (04 Dec 2016)

 

Austria presidential election re-run 'too close to call' (04 Dec 2016)

 

Oakland fire: Dozens feared dead in club night blaze (04 Dec 2016)

 

US election recount: Greens change tactics in Pennsylvania bid (04 Dec 2016)

 

Cuba: Crowds pay last respects to Fidel Castro in Santiago (04 Dec 2016)

 

Hard Brexit 'could cost Tories next election' - MPs (04 Dec 2016)

 

Australian charged with murder over death of French tourist (04 Dec 2016)

 

Chapecoense plane crash: Fans unite for stadium memorial (03 Dec 2016)

 

Mourinho faces tax probe call over Sunday Times claims (04 Dec 2016)

 

Uzbekistan votes for new president (04 Dec 2016)

more »

 

SF Gate

 

Bay Area News (7 Jan 2012)

 

City Insider (11 Feb 2012)

 

Crime Scene (13 Feb 2012)

 

C.W Newius Column (10 Jan 2012)

 

C.W. Nevius Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Education News (10 Jan 2012)

 

KALW (11 Feb 2012)

 

Matier and Ross Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Despite Trump, California plans ways to slash greenhouse gases (3 Dec 2016)

 

New workplace is agile and nonstop (3 Dec 2016)

 

Apple said to fly drones to improve maps data and catch Google (3 Dec 2016)

 

ICYMI: Olive Garden woes, Breitbart foes, ‘Hamilton’ glows (3 Dec 2016)

 

Online shopping tips for the holidays (3 Dec 2016)

 

New Nintendo console may feed your nostalgia, if you can get one (3 Dec 2016)

more »

 


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