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2004/10/31 Oh, good, bank=church
π 2004-10-31 20:04 by Merlin in Public

Current Music: Remainder of the Tiesto Concert in Holland taped Sat Night
Current Mood: Well, this shit does piss me off, what can I say...

So, to read the NYT, and other silly subscription required sites, you can go to http://bugmenot.com/

And now, you can go check out this article , which is one of those things that make me ask WTF am I doing here.

Yes, I am actually quite tolerant of people's religions as long as they don't condone killing other people, but shit like this
  • loria Oshima, a teller who prays with customers at the drive-up window, all will explain the bank's success in the same way. Jesus Christ has blessed them because they are obedient to his will. Jesus told them to take his word out of the church and bring it to where people interact: the marketplace.
  • He says he has performed more than 60 faith healings in the bank and has ''saved'' another 60 people on bank premises.
  • A major response in this country to Islamic terrorism has been a rippling of Christian muscle. In the post-9/11 universe, Christians have become more aggressive in pushing a religious agenda on social issues ranging from gay marriage to stem-cell research


Now, the part about Intel having employee groups that gather to talk about the bible, or have an Islam prayer, that's quite different. IMO, that's quite fine, they are just special interest groups that happen to be about religion, but they don't ask other employees to listen to the word of god, or build god designed CPUs or something...

Can't all those people who now want to evangelize at work gather in all the bible belt, we draw a big line, and put them in a different country, where they can freely elect their Messiah, George W Bush... (oh, if you don't mind, we'll keep the weapons on this side, they might do bad things with them).
Or, maybe we should just persecute them, and have them flee by boat to some not yet much populated area of the world, with easily overrun natives, and ....
Oh wait, that's actually been tried already (besides, it feels like there's more of them than of us)
Maybe I should just go to an Island that used to be a penal colony instead. I hear they have nice diving there...
2004/10/30 Halloween Weekend Saturday: 13H of Trance continuing with Popsicle Trance Party
π 2004-10-30 23:00 by Merlin in Clubbing
You can see the evening in the Picture library of Popsicle Trance Party in San Francisco)
After about 6H of watching the Tiësto concert, and a failed attempt at a quick nap, I had multiple options for that evening. I hadn't quite recovered from the previous night with Paul Van Dyk, but somehow, the Popscicle party looked like a party not to miss, so I showed up around 11-ish, doped up on some energy drink.
While getting in was a disaster due to a huge line, and only one single person selling tickets, in a very inefficient fashion. Even with being "line efficient", it took me 30mn to get to the box office, only to realize that they didn't take credit cards, and that they had raised the price from $45 to $50, so I was $4 short. This plain sucked, there was no ATMs anywhere (this pier was really in the middle of BFE) and it was quite hard to find anyone in the line who was willing to give me $5 in exchange for a check, but eventually I found someone (thank you again, whoever you were) and finally got in.

Well, all I can say is that it was well worth the effort going there and getting in: 4 rooms with different kinds of Trance (ok, that alone was cool), but the main room also had some really cool lighting:











Later, came Justine Suissa, who sung 4 of her songs, live. That was just really sweet, as I knew all of them and she also does have a good voice. I used the opportunity to migrate to the first row, right in front of the DJ booth, since, well, you can't get any closer than that :)





Justine just rocked, this idyllic moment was only too short, but at least I was able to capture just a few bits of a few of her songs: Then, came Lange. To my great shame, I'll admit to not having known who he was until I saw and heard him spin. I only figured out later that he was a well known british DJ who had a been on a State of Trance many times (to my defense, it's not very easy to recognize his name when AVB speaks Dutch on TV).
All I can say about him is that he rocked. Not only did he seem like the nicest guy (got to shake his hand too), but he was really loving what he was doing, and spinning some great tunes. While I was supposed to be completely dead by then, his music just kept me alive.







With the time change, Lange finished around 03:00, but then it was only 02:00, and time for Above and Beyond to rock the house (at least I knew them beforehand due to the many tracks and remixes they've done).
They were also spinning some good stuff, which I really enjoyed for a little more than an hour, but I eventually ended up going home because I was beyond dead, and still had a boring, sleep inducing, drive back from San Francisco.





The pictures and videos hardly do the evening justice, but they're still quite enjoyable to browse (especially the small videos, since the sound is almost half decent :-))
2004/10/30 Halloween Weekend Sunday: Paul Oakenfold at Ruby Skye
π 2004-10-30 23:00 by Merlin in Clubbing
You can see the evening with the pictures of Oakey at Ruby Skye)
After two awesome nights, it took a lot of mustering to get the remaining energy to do this again for a 3rd day in a row: it started reminding me of Ibiza, but eh, sleep is for the weak, right? :-)
So, I had seen Oakey once before, but it had been 3 years, and I barely recognized him with his long hair :)


Before (2001)


After (2004) / Give it to me, baby :-)

This also was my first time at Ruby Skye. I had been meaning to go for a while, and this was the perfect occasion to go. Nice decor, and sure doesn't look like a cheap hangar, like 1015.




Yeah, first row again, smack in front of the DJ booth (it was halloween, remember? :-) )

Anyway, this was an awesome weekend, even if it was exhausting. For that matter, it most likely beat any 3 consecutive days I had in Ibiza, and that's saying right there.
This weekend finally gave me faith that you can find good Trance in San Francisco.
2004/10/30 Halloween Weekend Saturday: 13H of Trance starting with Tiësto in Concert Take 2
π 2004-10-30 15:00 by Merlin in Clubbing
Saturday was a long day, starting with Tiësto's concert in Holland, which started around 15:00 in our time zone. I actually considered going there for that historic event, but it didn't happen, and being able to experience the concert live, over the internet, was very cool (putting aside the fact that it required stupid windows DRM and first fixing up a windows machine)
It was fun to watch the concert live, though, while chatting with fellow trance enthousiasts on IRC, also watching. We were making fun of how stupid the interviewer was, how they found the only Dutch person who didn't know how to speak English, and how annoying the MC could be with his silly cheers. Then, we would play the "name the tune" game to see who could recognize the next song mixed in the quickest (something I'm half decent at, but some people there listen to A State of Trance every week and knew every tune by heart, down to the remix name. It was scary :-)).
2004/10/29 Halloween Weekend Friday: Paul Van Dyk @ 1015
π 2004-10-29 23:59 by Merlin in Clubbing
You can see the evening in the Picture library)
Well, I had seen PVD twice in the last few months, but it would have been silly to miss him when he came spinning locally (as opposed to going to Ibiza or New York City)



2004/10/29 Halloween Weekend 2004: EDM Weekend
π 2004-10-29 20:00 by Merlin in Clubbing
Well, this was an unusual Halloween to say the least... Due to some dance music festival in San Francisco, a lot of great Trance and other EDM DJs were there during the Halloween weekend, so for the best 3 days in a row, not counting Ibiza, I saw some of the best DJs, back to back.
2004/10/28 Halloween 5K Run
π 2004-10-28 22:36 by Merlin in Google

Work had a 5K fun run today. I was kind of looking forward to it, since that distance/amount of time is a sweet spot for me.
Unfortunately, I didn't do too well: I ended up 1st among people who ran with costumes, but 5th overall, and behind at least one person that routinely I beat at boot camp :-/.
I don't think running with the costume was a good enough excuse for my slower time (21:26), I just didn't have it today (sure, it's a 6mn40sec mile on terrain that went up and down a hill, but on such a short distance, I should/could have done better).



The few other picts are here
2004/10/22 Thunderhill again
π 2004-10-22 09:44 by Merlin in Cars

In a nutshell, the day couldn't have gone better. We narrowly escaped rain, my car was all ready for the track (new bushings, Tein shocks, fresh alignment and RA-1s), and despite a problem with my tranny (shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear when the car was hot) which forced me to take turn 11 in 3rd gear, I shaved about 5 seconds off my previous best time (now 2:13:7-8x). 5 seconds might not sound like much, but actually, it's a whole lot, especially the more you get under 2:30 at TH.

Needing new brake pads: $50
Needing new race compound tires soon: $500 for 4
Hearing "boy was that you in the white miata, you were damn fast" several times: priceless :)

What's interesting is that once again, I've shown that I can have a bout of performance (i.e. two great lap times), and then lack focus entirely, to the limit of day dreaming (went off track a bit once, and spun twice while staying on track).
Once, I just spun off turn 2 because I was pushing it a bit too much on my first lap and apparently my tires had cooled down a bit too much (this seems to have scared Matt off since he came up with a lame excuse why he wanted off the car :), and my off track in turn 1 was so bad, I don't even really know what I was doing, except that I obviously wasn't paying any attention at all since I don't really even remember what I did, if I came in hot, or not, whether I caught it a bit or not (I saw a video taken by someone behind me, and if it weren't for that, I still wouldn't know what I did). Mmmh....
My last spin (on my last session and lap of the day), was in 5, my first time ever. That one, well, I don't have to feel bad about it, I just screwed up: I tried a different line going in, and it just didn't work :) I kind of sucks how I've been constantly tired in the past two weeks, and have been struggling to stay alert and awake. Basically I was running on red bull and rock star during the day, and I could really tell when the previous one was wearing off...

Long story short, I am estatic about having dropped my lap time so much. I was running 2:15 on most my laps, some even included passing folks, and many also included very bad misshifts in 11 as my tranny/clutch just refused to shift back from 2nd to 3rd.
I had planned to play with the brand new lotus that was there, but I made the mistake to start in front of it instead of behind (i.e. the driver waved me by in the pits), and I never saw him again until we pitted at the end of the session :)
I also did some sweet passes in unusual turns (for me), like multiple passes between 2 and 3 by taking people on the inside of 2 at its exit, and I also passed several cars between 5 and 6.
Practise, more confidence, and better tires also helped me work up to close to 90mph exit speed in turn 1, and up to 92-95mph in turn 8, with does require a little faith :)

My "lap time" going to TH on wed night was 2:00:30 (doh, didn't make it under 2 hours. If it weren't for all those cops coming the other way on 5 and driving my V1 crazy...). On the way back I got a more respectable 1:51:45 (to 237 and Lawrence Expy exit, after that, well, it was street, so I slowed down :) The funny thing was that I found that I'm better off cruising between 110 and 120 tops as after that (130+), I have to be full boost, and well, my 12 gallon tank doesn't quite last the 160 miles required for the trip :)
It was kind of funny driving the way up glancing at both speed, RPMs, EGTs, core temp, trip distance left, and how fast the gas gauge was going down :)

Oh, did I mention that the lotus 2005 looks really sweet? :)


Pictures are here

2004/10/21 T.E.A.M. Track Event at Thunderhill
π 2004-10-21 00:00 by Merlin in Cars
In a nutshell, the day couldn't have gone better. We narrowly escaped rain, my car was all ready for the track (new bushings, Tein shocks, fresh alignment and RA-1s), and despite a problem with my tranny (shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear when the car was hot) which forced me to take turn 11 in 3rd gear, I shaved about 5 seconds off my previous best time (now 2:13:7-8x)
As always, thanks to Bonni from T.E.A.M. Racing for organizing this event.

The picts are here

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Well, my tires worked hard that day :)

2004/10/20 Ready for the track
π 2004-10-20 11:14 by Merlin in Cars

Current Music: Armin Van Buuren - A State of Trance - Episode 162
Current Mood: Good

After spending way too much time writing TPS reports (or something that seemed pretty close to it), I gave up and went home last night, so that I'm not too out of it tomorrow morning when I wake up around 06:30 in Willows for my track day at thunderhill (yeah! I can't wait)

As a quick shakeout after the recent work on my car (new bushings, shocks, racing pads, and brand new alignment), I used the fact that the road was mostly dry by the time I got to work this morning to try my 100mph run on the back stretch leading to our parking lot.
I actually didn't get a good start (low speed in the turn) due to the light not beeing green at the right time, and having to wait for an oncoming car before I could do my left turn, but yet, after flooring it, I reached 100mph a bit late, and was able to do really good braking and stop just in time for the left turn in the parking lot. I was really impressed by how sticky the tires were despite the road condition, and the heavy and consistent braking from the pads.
Tomorrow should be fun, I need to break 2:19 for my laptime, and I don't think that's going to be a problem :)
2004/10/16 Doc Wong's Driving Clinic
π 2004-10-16 00:00 by Merlin in Cars
I actually got my bushings and new shocks in just in time for the drive, so it was a great time to wear them in on bumpy roars. Unfortunately, the alignment guy from firestone didn't know toe in from toe out, and misaligned my car to have toe out (which can induce sudden snap oversteer). So, I had to take it reasonably easy (not counting a sliding sideways turn in gravel in a sharp U turn :-))
But then, the road started getting wet due to fog and condensation on trees causing drops, with the end result of the roads being uncertain, and all of us backing off, because it really wasn't worth taking risks (especially down Jamison road). While this made the entire drive a bit less fun, it was still a good outing, and definitely a good shakeout for my car.

The picts are here

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2004/10/02 Loveparade SF 2004
π 2004-10-02 23:53 by Merlin in Clubbing

Just to make for a busy weekend, after Ralf's wedding, and just before his reception, was the first Love Parade in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon.
It was quite fun to walk across SF in major streets that had been blocked off, with all the floats, some quite reminiscent of burning man (for the good reason that they were the same), and just enjoy the music while dancing South to the site where all the floats ended up to play music for the rest of the afternoon.

Contrary to burning man this year, I did find some floats that played music that was quite to my liking, like this nice mix of Ian Van Dahl, Castles in the Sky





You can get the pictures and videos here
2004/10/01 NYC pictures / wrapup
π 2004-10-01 23:17 by Merlin in Trips

Better late than never, I've finally gone through my pictures from my two week
trip in New York City. I got lucky enough to have a decent view of Manhattan
when I flew there


So, when I wasn't in Museums, I spent a fair amount of time rollerblading around
the city. A nice ride is going around the island by the piers, a good portion of it is known as Hudson Park, and I took a fair amount of pictures there

Ok, instead of telling me I have a dirty mind, tell me what the hell this is :-)


The ferry to the Statue liberty is by Battery Park, south of the Island


While rollerblading down, you also go by where the world trade center used to be, and you can see the memorial there, ground zero, and the approved plans for the new construction



By the time I was done with that, I wnet through the deserted streets around wall street (being saturday and all), and started a walk from the beginning of Broadway, up to Chinatown and Little Italy



Of course, other things I've visited have been the Empire State Building:





Central Park :







The History Museum



The Intrepid Aircraft Carrier





Time Square of course:





It's always cool to see your company in Time Square


Of course, when you're not around on rollerblades, or by foot, the subway is
a good alternative to cabs. It has some pitfalls, as I explained in an earlier
blog entry, but it's still quite good.



But for sightseeing, you're much better off with a cruise around the island







And get to see the bridges from up close





but the only way to see the inside of the city , like its street performers is clearly by foot/rollerblades





Anyway, I had a great time in New York, and you can find the rest of the pictures here
2004/10/01 Against All Enemies
π 2004-10-01 19:27 by Merlin in Public

While I was jogging/rollerblading around in New York City, I used the opportunity to listen to the audio book, read by the author: Richard Clarke.
Of course, we already all know that Bush is a congenital idiot, we know he lied about WMDs, we know how he shifted the focus from The Taliban/Ben Laden to Irak/Sadam wasting billions of tax dollars and pissing off a lot more arabs who now have another reason to distrust or hate America, and yet reading about (or hearing) about all the details, his recounting of 9-11 from his perspective, and the whole story from his point of view of before and after is a quite interesting story, in more than one way.
Go buy the book, or get the audiobook.

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