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Monday, October 10th, 2011 by calixton

I never met Steve Jobs, but he changed the course of my life.

When I entered college in the mid-’80s, I did so as an Electrical Engineering/Computer Science (EECS) student. My high school counselor noted that I had taken our school’s computer classes and told me, “Computer programming would be a good field to go into.” The actual extent of my programming experience had more to do with designing Lode Runner levels than learning BASIC, but, it was true, I liked computers for some reason. A career in programming seemed like the thing to pursue.

During my first year of college I stumbled upon one of the university’s Apple computer labs. The room had a few Lisas and perhaps a dozen Macs—the original 128K Mac, back when they still called them Macintoshes. A student was using one of the Macs to do something—work on a flyer—and I was amazed by how he was doing it. He was using something I had never seen before—a mouse—to freely move the cursor around the screen. The cursor opened menus and panels to change objects’ patterns and shades. The program had different fonts that looked nothing like the glowing green pixel-type I hammered out in command-line rows in my programming classes.

I asked the guy what program he was using. He said, “This is MacDraw, and this computer is a Macintosh.”

He continued working on his flyer—putting a grey box behind a white box to make a drop shadow, making type larger and bold for a headline, and moving elements around on screen. It was astounding. I watched him print the flyer to a LaserWriter in the corner of the lab and caught a glimpse of the output before he picked it up. I’d never seen a computer produce anything like it before.

In those few minutes, my relationship with computers changed.

The next day, I signed up for a Macintosh training session, which after a few minutes of sitting down in front of a Mac seemed unnecessary. I learned to use MacWrite, MacPaint, and MacDraw. I started doing freelance word-processing and graphics editing by renting time on a classmate’s Mac. Unconsciously, I was entering the then-unnamed field of desktop publishing.

A few college quarters later, with a pointed question from my girlfriend—“Why are you studying computer programming when you don’t even enjoy it?”—my school’s EECS program and I parted ways. A year later, I was working as a word-processor/desktop publisher and taking graphic design courses. Twenty-five-plus years later, I am working as a graphic designer and still using Macs professionally and personally.

Graphic design existed before the Macintosh—but I wasn’t aware of it. When I saw the student using MacDraw to make a flyer, I didn’t know that people did things like that for a living. What I saw was someone using a computer to create something. And, the ease—the simplicity—of the Mac as a creative tool changed my view of computers from something to make things for to something to make things with.

I didn’t know who Steve Jobs was when I first saw the Mac. I don’t remember if I knew who Steve Jobs was when I first got a Macintosh Plus, or when I started working in desktop publishing, or when I started studying graphic design.

But, somewhere along the way I learned that it was Steve Jobs that made the first Macintosh so insanely great that it changed the course of my life.

And, for that I say thank you, Steve Jobs. And, thanks for all the good things you’ve given us.


Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by calixton


…(vacation pictures).

Photos from a trip to Hawaii—Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island (Hawaii)—from last November.

Lazy Haleiwa cats

^ From behind Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Haleiwa, cats lazing in the mid-80 degree, November heat.

Maui, Molokini, and Lanai

^ At the Papawai Scenic Lookout along Maui’s Highway 30 you can see Maui’s southeast coastline, the volcanic remains of Molokini, and Lanai.

Maui, Molokini, and Lanai

^ At 10,000 feet on Haleakala, The Big Island’s 80-miles-distant Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are visible above the clouds.

Holei Sea Arch

^ Holei Sea Arch, just off of the Chain of Craters road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HAVO).

Sunset and telescopes

^ Subaru and Keck telescopes at the top of Mauna Kea as the sun sets below the clouds.

65 more Hawaii photos at maxpixpix on Picasa.

Eat more chicken…

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by calixton

Nankotsu (Breast Cartilage)

…and more chicken parts.

Miss T and I had been wanting to try out Ippuku, a new izakaya in Berkeley, ever since we saw the construction signs go up for it. Earlier this month we had a chance to try it out.

An izakaya is a Japanese eatery akin to a pub or tapas bar. As such, Ippuku doesn’t have a sushi bar and doesn’t serve teriyaki. What they do serve is dozens of shochu and sake and just about every edible part of a chicken.

What we tried, from worst (in my opinion) to best:

Nankotsu (Breast Cartilage). Pictured up above. Grilled skewers of chicken breast cartilage served with spices and lemon. Despite knowing that the cartilage was the main part of this appetizer I just couldn’t bring myself to crunch up and swallow any of the vaguely triangular pieces of connective tissue. I ended up eating what little meat there was available and unceremoniously disposed of the cartilage. Miss T, on the other hand, liked it. Next time, she gets the whole order.

Bonjiri (Tail)

Bonjiri (Tail). Grilled skewers of chicken tails (butts) served with spices and lemon. Some folks love the “pope’s nose” and prize it as the best part of the chicken. I do not. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I would have liked them a bit more on the crispy side.

Bacon-wrapped mochi

Bacon-wrapped Mochi. Grilled skewers of mochi wrapped with bacon. I’m not typically a fan of mochi—too chewy—but I’m definitely a fan of this. Must be the bacon. Miss T is a mochi fan, though, so she gave this higher marks.

Jidori Gyoza

Jidori Gyoza. Chicken gyoza dressed with scallions and chili oil. Outside: Crunchy on the bottom and chewy on the sides. Inside: Moist, well-seasoned chicken filling. With the scallions and chili oil drizzled on top, these gyoza were delicious.

Kawa (Skin)

Kawa (Skin). Grilled skewers of chicken skin served with spices and lemon. Each skewer is adorned with folded ribbons of luxuriously fatty chicken skin. The exposed edges get smoky-crunchy and the folded inner portions remain silky and chewy. Totally delicious and probably really bad for your circulatory system.

Tori Yukke (Raw Chicken)

Tori Yukke (Raw Chicken). Chopped raw chicken tossed with spices and radish sprouts, topped with raw quail egg, sesame, and scallions. My favorite of the evening. I was surprised—not that I liked it, but how much I liked it. Mixed with radish sprouts and scallions, the dish has a slight spiciness to it, but the overwhelming flavor of it is chicken. Really fresh, really good chicken. Excellent.

Kitchen and counter

Overall, Miss T and I enjoyed Ippuku and will drop in again sometime to try some of their other unique dishes. The prices are on the high side, though, so our next visit will have to be after payday or the next time I hit a lottery jackpot.

More pics at maxpixpix on Picasa.

Stuffing my fat face…

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 by calixton


…at Fat Face (’natch).

Located in a light commercial zone behind a flooring shop, Fat Face may be the anchor for a mini gourmet ghetto (along with Let Them Eat Cake!) on the edge of downtown Davis. Actually, with limited hours* and only a small, handpainted sign to announce its presence, make that a secret gourmet ghetto. (Miss T found out about Fat Face on one of those hipster websites she’s always cruising.)

I won’t launch into the whole story of how Fat Face started out making gourmet popsicles for sale at the Davis Farmers Market before opening up shop and expanding into the foodie sandwich sector. Wait… maybe that is the whole story. What’s important about Fat Face’s story is that their sandwiches are pretty fancy (albeit fancy-priced) and delicious.

From lunch last Friday:

Beer Poached Figs sammich

Beer Poached Figs sandwich. Beer. Figs. So many things could have gone wrong, but this sandwich was so right. I don’t even like figs, but the caramelized onions, goat cheese, and arugula somehow made them work. Knowing that beer poaching was involved also helped. Tasty.

Peach/Bacon Bits sammich

This was billed as a Peach/Bacon Bits sandwich, but these bacon bits weren’t those bottled, dried-up crumbs that your mom used to sprinkle on salads to get you to eat them. This peach (!) sandwich was chockfull of cut up bacon and an amazing feta cheese concoction. I could have eaten three, but my cardiologist has me on a restricted diet of only two bacon sandwiches per day.

If you’re in Davis during one of the twelve magic hours per week* that Fat Face is open, spy them out and give them a try.

*Severely limited. Wednesday—Friday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

San Diego and…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by calixton


Once again, Miss T and I headed SoCalward to brave the (not-so-)costumed crowds at San Diego Comic-Con International. For 2010 we only bought tickets for Thursday—which really wasn’t enough time to take in the sights—though Miss T finagled her way back in on Sunday for the end of the show.

For our single-day excursion we had to pick up our registration badges (1 1/2-mile walk over 30 minutes), and then attended a panel (stood in line for 45 minutes, sat in panel for 90 minutes), before spending the rest of the time perusing the exhibition floor (crisscrossed the 10 1/2-acre exhibit hall for 6 1/2 hours). By the end of the day my feet and back were screaming bloody murder.

Along the way we saw so many interesting examples of the “popular arts” that my brain glazed over and I forgot to take photos of things. Some items that did jar me out of my Comic-Con stupor:

Next year I’m hoping to spend an entire day in photo mode.

A few days later, Miss T and I finally made it out to the beach where we were confronted by washed-up piles of sea life.

Then, Miss T braved the Comic-Con Exhibition Hall for one more day while I cooled my heels (and the car) at Horton Plaza.

As always, the whole lot is over at maxpixpix on Picasa.

Objects in motion…

Monday, June 7th, 2010 by calixton

…at Downtown Berkeley BART.

“Stairs” that move on their own.

A Fremont-bound train.

A Richmond-bound train.

Lastly, another woman on the stairs (she’s heading down).

As usual, larger pix are at maxpixpix on Picasa.

Farewell LOST ad…

Friday, May 28th, 2010 by calixton

…from DHARMA Initiative Travel.

After this past weekend’s LOST finale, I was going through some boxes of old magazines and came across what I believe was DHARMA Initiative Travel’s last ad from a 2007 issue of Oceanic Airlines’ INflight magazine.

I’ve personally never used DHARMA Initiative Travel to book a flight, car rental, or hotel room, but it’s always sad to see a long-time business unable to make the transition to the digital era. I think the shift to web-based travel services killed off DI Travel and many other large and small travel services. DHARMA Initiative Travel also had an unfortunate reputation for disappearing travelers—actual people, mind you, not reservations—and luggage and rooms inexplicably torn apart by polar bears.

The one thing I wish I’d been able to do before they closed up shop was take one of their DI Travel submarine cruises. What other travel agency offers something like that?

Last LOST supper…

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by calixton

LOST supper, see a larger pic at maxpixpix on Flickr

…or snack, actually.

For our LOST finale viewing, Miss T and I opened up a few of the last items we recieved via product resupply drop—DHARMA Initiative Beer, Lemon Lime Soda, and Cheddar Baked Snack Crackers.

A good, happy, sad time was had by all. Namaste.

LOST beer…

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by calixton

…(and wine).

Sometimes you don’t want wheat ale, double stout, Albanian pilsner, or double-hopped Bavarian pale lager. Sometimes you just want beer. DHARMA Initiative Beer. After a hard day of being a workman in Dharmaville or an afternoon spent repairing a DHARMA van, nothing hits the spot like a cold, refreshing DI Beer. Mmm… beer.

It’s been noted that DHARMA Initiative stations on the island have long received drop shipments of DHARMA Beer. Until now, here at The Hut we’ve only ever received DI Amber Lager, and DI Stout. Our recent Product Resupply Drop (PRD) included cases of DHARMA Initiative Beer in various differently-shaped bottles and possibly of various different beer varieties—but they were all simply labeled beer.

Good enough for me.

If good old DHARMA Initiative Beer is good enough for you, but none have shown up in your PRDs, you can make do with regular bottled beer and the following downloadable PDF:

The PDF contains body and neck labels for beer, amber lager, and stout. With scissors, tape, glue, and determination, you should be able to fit the labels onto the body of any bottled beer. Neck labels are a bit trickier and require experimentation, so start attacking those beers now. (Though, perhaps it’s best to not drink beer while you’re trying to fit labels onto beer.)

Ah, the wine.

We’ve noted in the past that, clearly, DHARMA folk on the island get shipments of bottled Merlot and Cabernet. We’ve also been recipients of DHARMA Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, and Sauvignon Blanc. But what about Riesling? Or, Gewürztraminer? Where are all the other DHARMA Initiative varietals? Well, apparently, if a variety isn’t one of the grapes already mentioned it just gets labeled red or white. Again, good enough for me. And, again, if DI Red Wine or DI White Wine are good enough for you, the following PDFs will allow you to turn ordinary bottles of wine into DHARMA Initiative bottles of wine.

Cheers, everyone! And, namaste.

Solution for LOST boarding pass…

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 by calixton

…customize a new one.

One of the great conveniences of modern-day travel is the ability to print your own airline boarding passes in the comfort of your own home/office/hotel room/motorcycle sidecar/wherever. Oceanic Airlines has gone a step further by allowing you to not only print your own boarding pass, but to choose your own flight number, seat, date and time of departure, origin and desination city, passenger name, and endorsements and restrictions! Now that’s customer service.

How do you go about printing your own Oceanic boarding passes? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. 1. Download the fillable PDF below. 2. Use Adobe Acrobat to enter in the pertinent information for the boarding pass recipient: flight, seat, date, time, origin, destination, name, endorsements/restrictions. 3. Print out—it looks better in color—the pass onto to some nice, heavy, white cardstock. 4. Use a straight-edge to trim out your boarding pass, and don’t forget to round the corners. 5. There is no 5—you’re done! See how easy that was?

Now, don’t forget that while you can put any kind of information you want on your Oceanic Airlines Boarding Pass, the TSA won’t let you through a security checkpoint without documents for a actual flight. So, if you aren’t printing passes for Oceanic Airlines travel, you can use them for party invitations or something.