He's Arrived!!

Ivan Raymond Watson was born today (12/29) at 11:40am. He is 8lbs 7oz, and 22" long. Gaby and Dan are elated and exhausted.

Welcome Ivan!!

Congratulations Gaby and Dan!!


Happy Holidays from Digitas

Dear Aaron,

Earlier this year, we put out an open call for "merrymakers" to help us with our Digitas holiday card. You know the kind: couple of inches tall, pointed hats, beards. Naturally, we thought we'd get a bunch of elves to come audition.

Thing is: We got a bunch of Gnomes instead.

So, the interactive holiday card we were hoping to dazzle you with turned into a riotous Gnomepage takeover. We found out the hard way that Gnomes like to strike during the holidays.

Warmest greetings,

All of us at Digitas


Happy Hanukkah

We had an excellent latke dinner at Dov & Cari's last night. It was so much fun! Myshelle and Cari fried up the potato pancakes, while I put together a big salad. A gorgeous fruit platter for dessert and we had a perfect dinner. Thanks for having us over. We'll have to do it again soon!

Video from last night:

Non-Crappy Starring You! eCards on JibJab


24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot

This is farking hilarious. Thanks to smc12 for sharing!

Definitely makes me nostalgic for the early days of the internet.

In 1994 I was connecting to the internet with a 60MHz PowerMac 6100 (250MB Hard Drive baby!) on a blazing fast T1 while working at the Exploratorium. We had one of the fastest web connections on the planet. I'd use CU-SeeMe to do real-time video chat with students in London. Video chat across 5,371 miles?! This was Jetsons technology in real life!!

Meanwhile, web pages were white, text was black (Times New Roman of course), links were blue, and viewed links were purple.

If you did a webcrawler (this was before google, heck it was before AltaVista) search for Tori Amos, you'd get 4 hits, one of which linked to a page that even had PICTURES!

Meanwhile, back home on my 386, I was excited to upgrade to a 14,400 baud modem (up from 2400) to connect to my favorite Renegade BBS (Nation of Slime, in Berkeley), to play late night games of TradeWars.

What about you? What level of internet geekery had you achieved by 1994?

(Notice, parentheses implemented in this entry by a professional parentheses stunt driver on a closed blog. I am professionally trained in safely tangenting (is that a word?) my own stories. Do not attempt to use this many parentheses at home. Severe sentence fragmentation may result.)


Free iPhone Ringtones Are Back!

Yay for the triumphant return of free iPhone ringtones!! With the latest release of iTunes 7.5 and iPhone firmware 1.1.2, Apple has allowed users to upload short AAC music files they already own to their iPhones without having to pay for them. Thanks Apple! First a $100 gift certificate, and now free ringtones? I LOVE my iPhone!

I'd like to provide a walkthrough tutorial on how to install MP3 or AAC music files as ringtones without having to pay for them. These instructions are for OS X Mac users. It'll work for Tiger (10.4) or Leopard (10.5). I suspect a similar trick will work for Windoze machines, but I haven't tried it.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

As of right now, the latest version of iTunes and iPhone software is what we need to run this hack. Open iTunes and choose About iTunes to see what version you're using. It should say 7.5, if not, run Software Update (requires an admin password). Connect your iPhone to your computer, and make sure you're iPhone is running Software Version 1.1.2.

The goal of this step is to create a 30 second MP3 music file. I like to use Audacity because it's powerful, and even better, it's free. You can download it for Mac or PC here. Drag your MP3 or AAC song of choice into Audacity. Highlight a 30 second clip (spacebar to preview your selection) and choose Edit -> Trim to crop the song.

Since the iPhone ringer isn't very loud, I like to amplify the audio file as well. Do this by choosing Effect -> Amplify.
OS X Amplitude Menu Effect Amplify
I usually take it to a peak Amplitude of 3 (give or take depending on the file). Notice that amplifying a song like this will likely degrade the quality of the music file, but in this case, I want volume over fidelity.

We're all done with Amplitude. To save the changes you've made, you need to export your song. You can export it as a WAV, or as an MP3 (requires installation of an MP3 Codec, instructions here). Export the file to your desktop.

Now that our music file is ready to be used, we need to turn it into an AAC file. We'll use iTunes to do that. First we have to check your iTunes preferences to make sure it will handle your files properly. Click iTunes in the menu bar and choose preferences. Select the Advanced tab. Under General, make sure "Keep iTunes Music Folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library" are both checked.

Also, under the Importing tab, make sure Import Using is set to AAC Encoder, and Setting is High Quality (128 kbps)

Now that your settings are all ready, drag your cropped MP3 or WAV from the desktop into iTunes. Highlight the file and choose from the menu bar Advanced -> Convert Selection to AAC. You now have 30 second AAC file. We're almost there! Now all you have to do is change the file name 3 letter extension from m4a to m4r.

Right click (control click for you one-button mousers) on the song in iTunes and choose Show in Finder. Click on your song and rename yoursongfile.m4a to yoursongfile.m4r. It should prompt you "are you sure you want to change the extension?", you're sure, so choose "Use .m4r".
If it doesn't prompt you, then it didn't work. Choose Get Info on the file, and rename it under the Name & Extension drop-down.

You're ready to import your finished ringtone into iTunes. First, we need to delete the AAC file you created. Open iTunes, find your converted AAC, and hit the delete key on your keyboard. When it prompts you "Do you want to move the selected files to the trash", choose Keep Files. Now go back to yoursongfile.m4r and double click it. If we did everything right, iTunes should place the file in your Ringtones section in iTunes.

In iTunes, choose your iPhone in the devices section. Under the ringtones tab, choose Sync ringtones, and choose which ones you want to use. Now sync your iPhone and it will copy your new FREE ringtones to your iPhone!!

To choose a ringtone for all incoming calls, go to Settings -> Sounds on your iPhone. If you want to assign a specific song to a particular person, find their entry in your phone contacts section and choose the ringtone setting. I like to create different ringtones for all my friends. That way, I can tell who's calling without looking at my phone. Plus, its way fun to figure out which song is appropriate for which friend. For example, Gaby is 99 Luftballons, Dov is Manamana from The Muppet Show, and Myshelle is Why Don't You Do Right as sung by Jessica Rabbit.

So there ya go. A complete walkthrough (with pictures) on how to install free ringtones on your iPhone. If you have any questions, post them in the comments.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to The Unofficial Apple Weblog for pointing out the return of free ringtones.

Honestly, the only reason I ever hacked my iPhone in the first place is so I could use music I've already legally purchased as a ringtone. The idea that you have to pay an extra $2 to use a song you already own as a ringtone is ridiculous. If I have 30 friends with custom ringtones, that's $60 just to have my phone function the way I expect it to.

V-Moda Vibe Duo iPhone EarphonesPS: I just spent my $100 Apple iPhone rebate on a badass pair of earphones. The latest model of the V-Moda Vibe Duo Earphones were just released a couple weeks ago, and are the only in-ear headphones I know of that have the pause/answer phone/skip track button on an integrated mic, just like the Apple ones that came with the iPhone. The difference is, these are in-ear phones, so instead of hanging on your earbud, they use a rubber plug to seal them into your ear. The difference in sound quality is AMAZING. I can't recommend them enough. Hard hitting bass, and nice clear mids and highs. They're replacing my old Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71 in ear headphones (they don't have a mic or button and the jack doesn't fit in the iPhone). The difference in sound quality is definitely noticeable.

PPS: I just noticed somebody else anonymously posted his own version of these instructions. The walkthrough on this site is a little simpler than mine. Feel free to use it as a resource as well: http://freeitunesringtone.blogspot.com


Paris Tourism Tips

My friend Nicole was just blogging about a trip to Paris and looking for some advice on when to visit. Having done the year abroad thing, I consider Paris to be my second home. Or at least, I like to think so. I've given all kinds of friends advice on where to stay and what to do, I figured it'd be useful information to blog about.

WHEN TO VISIT: My favorite time of year in Paris is September and October. August is the worst time to go because the entire country takes the month of August off to go traveling and all that’s left are folks that work in the tourism industry. Many (most?) businesses in Paris close for the entire month. June and July are bad because families with kids and college students all travel during their summer vacations so things are more crowded and expensive. Winter is beautiful, but wet and cold. Spring is also nice, with all the gardens in bloom, but Autumn is just plain gorgeous. Less chance of rain, and beautiful fall colors.

WHERE TO STAY: My favorite neighborhood is Montmartre (18eme Arrondissement) just south of Sacre Coeur Cathedral and north of Pigalle. It's a little bit on the touristy side, but not nearly as bad as the Latin Quarter. It's centrally located so you're no more than 2 metro stops away from just about everything. You'll find lots of good restaurants and places to visit, and the whole area feels very lively. There's folks walking around and sitting in cafes and hanging out on the cute curvy narrow streets.

As far as specifically where to stay, I found that if you're going for more than a week, it's actually cheaper to find a vacation rental apartment with a full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom than it is to stay at a cheap hostel with a sketchy shared bathroom and petty thieves trying to steal your passports and camera. The place we found put me in touch with the landlady and required a fair amount of interaction in French to deal with the contract and reservation, but I imagine there are others that don't require you to speak French.

WHERE TO GO: Get a copy of Lonely Planet Paris or Let's Go Paris for lots of good ideas. Looking for something a little further off the beaten path? One of the most beautiful parks in Paris is Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It's absolutely gorgeous, and every time I've been it seems all the visitors are locals. Definitely worth a visit.

You'll probably want to spend some time walking around Ile de la Cité and Il St. Louis (1ere Arrondissement). Make sure to pick up a couple scoops of Berthillon home-made ice cream while you're there. From here you can stop by Notre Dame and then bop over to the adorable curvy cobblestone streets of Le Quartier Latin (5eme). Don't be tempted to eat there, it's very cute, but since it's tourist food they don't care about repeat business. Hence, the quality of the food is absolutely DREADFUL.

I also highly recommend taking some time to wander around Le Marais (4eme). It used to be the Jewish district, and in recent years it has also become the gay district. The combination of cultures makes for some fascinating people watching, shopping, and dining (see Mi-Va-Mi below).

BEST RESTAURANT (FANCY): My all-time-favorite restaurant in Paris is Les Diables au Thyme at 35 rue Bergere, 9eme, ph: They serve upscale, reasonably priced, traditional French cuisine. They've completely blown me away with impeccable service and incredible food each and every time I've been. Call for reservations, because it's a small establishment with limited seating. Bonus: they have English menus available.

BEST RESTAURANT (NOT-SO-FANCY): Mi-Va-Mi in the Marais (27 Rue des Ecouffes, 4eme, ph: has the best falafel I've ever had outside of Jerusalem. In fact, when I was there last, I told the proprietor as much and he was so pleased that he gave me a free cup of mint tea. It was absolutely delicious and sweet with a big sprig of fresh mint.

That's all I can think of for now. If you need to know anything else, let me know.

Photo credits on this blog entry all go to the original artists as linked.


A Second Dog

Myshelle wants a second dog. Or, more accurately, Myshelle says that Zahava wants a second dog. Somebody to play with and keep her occupied during the day while we're at work.

We had the pleasure of puppysitting for my friend Nicole for the last two weeks while she was off getting married and honeymooning in Fiji.

Audrey is one of the sweetest pups I know. When I walk in the front door she jumps up, puts her paws on my shoulders and licks my ears. It's absolutely adorable. She's completely fascinated by our cat Sophie, chasing her all over the house. She's an excellent tug-of-war and wrestling partner for Zahava. Her best tricks are "roll over", which she does with enthusiasm, and "whisper", which is a lot like "speak!" only quieter and cuter. Nicole can get her to spin circles while standing/jumping, but I couldn't get her to do it. At night she jumps up on the bed and curls up in a ball between my feet.

We (reluctantly) returned her to her rightful owners last night, but only after they promised to take really good care of her. I hope Nicole and her husband Nick go out of town again soon.

This is what Hava and Audrey did all day:


NetFlix Feature Request - "I Want It Now!"

An open letter to my friends at NetFlix. A request for the most cleverest feature ever.

August 17, 2007

NetFlix Customer Service
Requests and Suggestions Department

Dear NetFlix,

I have an idea for an "I want it now!" feature.

click to enlarge

BACKGROUND: Thursday afternoon, I was chatting with my friend Cari. We make plans to get together on Saturday to watch a movie. She's totally fried from a hellish workweek and wants to watch a silly fun comedy. Unfortunately, all the movies I've got at home right now are foreign epics and heart-wrenching dramas. Even if I did have a movie to return, I would never be able to get it back to NetFlix in time for you to ship me a movie before the weekend. I despise the idea of signing up for a Blockbuster account for occasions like this. What's a boy to do?

IMPLEMENTATION: Here's how the “I Want It Now!” button would work. For a nominal fee, I could rent an additional movie, even though I’ve already got all 3 of my movies already at home. It will be sent out right away, so I can watch it the next day. I won’t be shipped an additional movie until I’ve returned 2 more, to get myself back under my quota.

ALTERNATIVE: There are already a couple ways to achieve this, but nothing ideal. I’m pretty sure I could upgrade my account to 4-movies-at-once, and then change it back down to 3-at-once the following month, but that’s a lot of work, and is possibly overkill for what I’m trying to accomplish.

MOM & POP ALTERNATIVE: I could go out and get an account with my local video store, but I really REALLY like NetFlix, and would much rather use them for ALL my movie rentals. I hate late fees.

CONCLUSION: Although there are a couple ways to achieve this kind of functionality, I’d much rather pay a couple dollars extra rather than try to go around the system. Hopefully NetFlix will realize the profitability of a functionality like this and implement it in a future upgrade.

I’ve been a NetFlix evangelist for YEARS and love everything about their service. I’ve got all my family and friends signed up and can’t recommend their rental program enough. I don’t even want any royalties for my idea, just the opportunity to improve upon an already awesome DVD rental experience.

Thanks for listening.


            Aaron Marks



The Daily Plate Review

Ok, so I've already blogged about The Daily Plate, but I'm pretty excited about it. I wrote an in depth review here:

Frogpond Badge

You should check it out.


Aaron Wants, Aaron Needs

I've managed to avoid memes up until now, but Gaby totally got me:

Put the terms "[your name] wants" and "[your name] needs" into Google and watch the magic.

All Aaron wants is to be part of a family. He hopes the scars of his past won't interfere.

Aaron wants to know where the chocolate eggs are, the easter bunny knows but isn't telling...

There are ten boxes of candy on the counter Aaron wants to take three of the boxes to school.

I think aaron wants to know what your getting into--LOL! Anyway, any news---message me biatch:)

Aaron needs our help. This guy got dicked over by his High School and got detention for celebrating National High Five Day.

Aaron needs to understand that he is not “dumb.” It should be explained that there are different types of memory and while he has a great memory for little details...

Aaron needs to trust his stuff and pound the strike zone!

aaron needs to stop smokin' weed, its really catching up to him...

Aaron needs to add some moonwalking in his dance to spice it up.

Aaron needs to make a career change.

Thanks Gaby!

As Gaby slowly gains weight and becomes healthier, I realize that Gaby needs to be socialized. She has been nowhere but the breeders where she was born

Eat Smarter

If you don't want to read the whole thing, just go check out The Daily Plate

So I've been mildly weight conscious for as long as I can remember. I look back at pictures of myself when I was 23 and think it'd be nice to be that fit again. It's one of those things where I'd like to be in better shape, but I don't want it bad enough to wake up every morning at 6am to go to the gym. Nor do I want to give up on one of my favorite activities in the world: eating delicious food. I'm in a bit of a pickle, I'd like to be in better shape but I'm not ready to make a radical life change. I walk up the stairs instead of taking the escalator on BART every day, and I try to eat healthy balanced meals, but that's not enough. It's funny because I realize that if I want to do more than that, it's up to me. Nobody's going to come banging down my door asking me to loose weight.

Or at least, that's what I thought. Last year I got a letter in the mail from the Cholesterol Research Center in Berkeley. It was an invitation to join a weight loss study where they would provide me with frozen meals to eat for lunch and dinner every day, and at the end of the 4 month study, they would pay me $800 for my time. I figured it was win, win, win. I get free food, I lose weight, and they pay me?! I can do just about anything for 4 months. I filled out the application and sent it in. (I don't know what studies are going on right now, but if you're interested in something like this I definitely recommend checking it out. You can contact them here: http://www.chori.org/Human_Research/Human_Research/CRC/CRC_Contact_Info.html

So I ended up being accepted into the study. I had to go in once a week to get weighed and pick up the frozen entrees. There were a handful of blood draws, and I got body scans and resting breathing oxygen consumption tests. No alcohol or smoking for 4 months, and I had to follow a pretty strict program. The good news is, the entrees were actually pretty tasty compared to other frozen meals I've had. Still, it was a lot of work, measuring and weighing every single thing I ate, and even half-decent frozen meals get REALLY tiring if that's all you eat. At the end of the program, I'd lost a few pounds, although not enough, I wasn't keeping to the rules as strictly as I should have been. Still, I got my $800 and had lost a little weight. At that point I had no interest in ever seeing another one of those frozen entrees again, and I'd had enough egg-beaters to last a lifetimes.

So now I've found a better way:

Lose weight with The Daily Plate

It works on similar principles, tracking my exercise and calorie intake, but instead of having to eat everything on a list, weighing and measuring each item, I can eat whatever I want and The Daily Plate tracks it for me. There's a database of food and you can go through and search for what you eat, clicking the "I ate this today" button when you find the right one. It does all the work for me. The site feels a little immature still, with lots of duplicate entries in the database, and pretty mediocre graphic design, but it's a great start, and it's totally usable. Their search engine is a little rough. I had a bagel with butter this morning. Searching for "butter" pulls up 3,680 hits, with the first page having lots of butter pecan ice cream, peanut butter, buttered popcorn, i can't believe it's not butter, etc. but no actual butter. Still, even with all the quirks, I'm totally enamored with this site. I love everything Web 2.0 and this is no exception. They track my daily food intake, exercise, and help me maintain the correct calorie consumption. The act of entering each item into a website alone is enough to keep me from going in for that late night bowl of lucky charms. Check it out if you're interested. And if you do join, let me know and we can link profiles and cheer each other on.


Sent from my iPhone

So the only way I'm going to get fast with this keyboard is by using it, so here goes nothing. I'm actually pretty impressed with how accurate it is. The only major drawback I've found with it is that words like hooooly jebus this phone farking rawks!! aren't in the dictionary so it auto corrects things to the wrong word. The good news is, this baby is a fast learner, all those words are now legit ;) My typing is getting pretty quick too. I'm already faster than any other mobile device I've owned.

Other than a few quirks, this phone is nothing short of amazing.
People were complaining about the lack of 3g high speed wireless data, but the edge network seems more than sufficient.

Things that surprised me:

This is the first computer I've used since '89 that can't copy/paste. I was shocked to find it missing.

The last phone I had that couldn't send MMS picture text messages had a B&W screen. I've read that MMS should be available soon but still...

On the positive side, it's such a joy to use. The UI is gorgeous and sooooo smooth. Everything just works together seemlesly.

The loop that comes up to assist with cursor placement is way clever.

Phone reception and voice quality are both exceptional.

Dan M. put it best, "I still giggle when I use it".

So that's day one.
More reviews to come I'm sure.

Sent from my iPhone (of course)


Lego Art

I played with LEGOs a lot as a kid. I mean like, I was really into it. I had an entire city on the floor in my bedroom. There was a downtown with high-rises, a hospital, and police and fire stations. A beachside vacation neighborhood, an airport, and all kinds of other stuff that came and went. I didn't have any of those Starwars© or Pirates of the Caribbean© LEGOs either. Just smiling yellow guys & gals, and rectangular bricks. If you wanted a space-ship, you had to build it out of the shapes you had.

When I was about 16 or so, I put my entire collection in a gigantic box, and gifted everything to a younger family friend (hi Asher!). I think it was one of the coolest gifts I've ever given.

But I digress. The point is, I have a huge appreciation for the power of LEGOs, and this is some of the coolest stuff I've ever seen.

Nathan Sawaya's Lego Art


Will Ferrell - The Landlord

Will Ferrell and Pearl McKay rocking the funny. Way too cute.


The New Mazda Pi

source: http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/~rsc/ahealy/pi_small.jpg

MIT. Of course. Geeks.

This blog post dedicated to Gaby, who has memorized more digits of Pi than anybody I know.



New Favorite Song - Hey There Delilah

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's.

I don't know what to say about this song, it's sweet and touching. I heard it for the first time while listening to New Music Thursdays on KFOG yesterday. When my alarm clock went off this morning it was playing again. Something about it just hits close to home.

Here's the music video:


Another Good Weekend


Romantic dinner for 2 at Universal Cafe (Host was rude, I wrote a nasty yelp review)

Movie night @ Erin & Michael's (We watched Sidewalks of NY, it's pretty good. The characters were severely disfunctional which made them hard to relate to.)


Cleaned up the house

Board game party @ Erin & Michael's (I like Boggle. Gaby's scary good at it)

KFOG Kaboom!! (Still the best fireworks show I've ever seen)


MTB China Camp (Not me)

Breakfast at Homemade Cafe

Mountain bike riding in China Camp State Park (Excellent ride, totally kicked my ass. Need to go riding more soon. I miss that feeling.)

Had mom over for dinner (BBQ Salmon with Aaron's Famous Mango Salsa, accompanied by grilled asparagus and warm baguette)




Aaron's Famous Mango Salsa Recipe:

Dice and place in a bowl:

  • 2 Ripe Mangoes
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1 Tomato (seeds removed)
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro
  • 1 Fire Roasted Jalapeño
    • hold with tongs over gas burner till the skin chars, then rinse and scrub under cold water. remove seeds if you don't like it too hot.

Add lemon juice and salt to taste
Stir well, cover, and refrigerate till chilled
Serves 4


I am TOTALLY smarter than a 5th grader.

I'm watching "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader" right now (guilty pleasure). One of the 5th graders is named Marki (she's the cute blond pigtails one). Myshelle is now demanding we name our firstborn Marki. Sorry mom.

PS: The yale guy was actually pretty cool and deserved to have won. The 26 year old vet-tech was a farking dolt, too painful to watch as she fails to calculate 29+31 in her head.


Lemon Mint Julep

A few years ago I lived in an apartment that had a Meyer lemon tree and a huge bush of fresh mint. During a heat spell I made up my own take on a Mint Julep. With this weeks heat spell, I figured it's pretty good timing to share with all my friends:

Aaron's Lemon Mint Julep Recipe
Written grandma style: no measurements, do everything to taste

  • Juice from about two dozen Meyer lemons
  • 3 or 4 trays of ice cubes (or a 10lb bag)
  • about 4 cups of simple syrup
  • cold water
  • 5 or 6 big sprigs of mint
  • Makers Mark Bourbon Whiskey
In a huge glass punch bowl, combine lemon juice, about a half gallon of water (start with less, add more till it tastes good), most of the ice cubes, and some simple syrup to taste to make lemonade. Wash the mint and muddle 3/4 of it with some ice (set aside 2 or 3 of the nicer looking mint sprigs). Add it to the lemonade and stir it all up. Remove the bruised crushed mint from the punch bowl and add the fresh stems that you set aside, they should float right in the middle and look all perty. Add Makers Mark bourbon to taste, I usually don't make it too strong and then let folks add more if they want it.


Post inspired by Jeffercine's Blog


NY Virtual Tourism

Michael and Erin are moving to New York in less than 3 weeks. Erin has 6+ years of residency to complete before they can move back to SF. These two facts are very difficult for me to accept.

Erin will be working at the Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla. Right now they're trying to figure out what neighborhood they want to move to. Not knowing anything at all about NY, I decided to do a little virtual tourism of the places their considering. With the help of Flickr and Wikipedia I was able to get at least a little bit of a feel for these places. Here's what I found.


An Adorable Music Video

I first watched this music video a couple months ago. As soon as it ended I promptly watched it again because it was so darned cute and catchy. Now I've got the high quality mpeg sitting on my desktop and whenever I notice it sitting there I'll spin it up again. It tickles me every time. She's just so darned adorable. Enjoy (and turn up your volume, she's better loud):
Regina Spektor - Fidelity

The vocal stylings around Hear-ahah-ar-ahah-ar-aaart are the dividing factor. I think they make her even that much more adorable. I'm sure many just think they're annoying.


Yay for the MacArthur Maze Collapse!!

BART was Busy This Morning
This Morning's Commute

I am really happy about the MacArthur Maze collapse. That is to say, I'm sure it's going to be a little tougher to get around for the next month or two, but I think it's worth it.

BART ridership hasn't changed much in the last couple years[1]. Just by casual observation, BART was twice as crowded this morning as it would be on an average Monday. If there are a few thousand people that have never taken BART before and are forced to learn this week, maybe they'll notice how awesome and easy it is. And if ridership goes up, they'll need more trains to accommodate the new passengers. With more frequent trains comes shorter waits on the platform. (In Paris the busy lines on the Metro come every 2 minutes). Luckily, with increased ridership should come increased revenue from fares so they'll be able to afford to bring in more trains.

Ok, there are a few logical leaps here, and maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but considering the amazing lack of deaths/injuries to come out of this, a little traffic is a small price to pay for fewer cars on the road. Remind me of this post in a couple weeks when I'm sitting in traffic taking an hour and a half to get across town to my Dad's house in Piedmont.


Two Things on the Mac Gaming Radar

First of all, Dan F. told me about Frets on Fire this weekend. Open source Guitar Hero that you play while holding your keyboard in your lap? I'm there. Sadly, the Mac version isn't available on their site yet. I managed to find v1.2.438 on a fan forum, but it BSoD's on launch (where B is Bk not Bl). So I'm keeping an eye on that one. (PC users, wail away, tell me if it's worth the DL)

In the mean time, another platform agnostic game worth your attention is Flow. I can't even describe this one, it's unlike any game i've played. Just check it out.


I sooo want to do this...


Music to Sleep By

I've suffered from mild insomnia for as long as I can remember. I'll lay in bed for an hour or two, my body exhausted, and my mind going 100 miles a minute. It's frustrating because I know I'll be dead-tired when my alarm goes off in the morning, but I just can't get to sleep. My mind is too active.

Back in college, I'd listen to music to help me fall asleep (The Cure - All Mixed Up, Depeche Mode - 101, Tracy Chapman - Self Titled). I'd focus on the music and it would help me relax a little. Myshelle prefers it quiet at bedtime so I ditched that habit a few years back. The alternative solution that I've found is staying up way past my bedtime playing video games till 1am and then stumbling to bed and passing out right away. It works well, and as an added bonus I get to play lots of video games, but it leaves me severely under-slept by the end of the week. Come weekend I could sleep in till noon if Myshelle let me (don't worry, she doesn't).

So Myshelle went on a cruise to Mexico with her mom a few weeks ago and I took advantage of having the bed to myself (ok, I share with Zahava and Sophie, but they don't complain about music at night). I discovered a new solution and it's been working fabulously. I downloaded a couple sleep aid MP3s and they knock me right out.

The first one I found is called Delta Sleep System by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. There are two tracks, they both consist of nature sounds and new-age orchestration. It sounds kind of like the stuff we'd play at the acupuncturist's office where I used to work. Supposedly, there are pulses of embedded sound that encourage your brain to enter Delta Sleep. Here's a link with more information on what it is and how it works from Amazon.

My results: It took about the same time to fall asleep. Once I fell asleep, my dreams were more vivid (and bizarre) than normal. I woke feeling rested.

The second CD I found works even better. Meditation for a Good Night's Sleep by John Daniels. This also consists of 2 tracks, but the first one is a guided meditation. A deep soothing voice walks you through falling asleep. He talks about the importance of enjoying the process of falling asleep rather than focusing on the goal of being asleep. He tells you how comfortable and relaxed you are, goes over a couple breathing exercises, etc. This is followed by a second track of nature sounds and relaxing new age music. Here's the Amazon link if you want to read more or buy a copy.

My results: The first time I listened, I stayed away through the entire 28 minute meditation because I was curious what he was going to say. Subsequent listenings have worked amazingly. I often fall asleep in the first 5 minutes. I can't recommend it enough!!

Now the only problem is finding a more comfortable pair of headphones so I won't bug Myshelle. For all my fellow insomniacs, I hope this helps.

Bonus tip for reading this posting all the way to the end: click on the album art to download a demo copy of either CD so you can try it for yourself before you buy it.


Wedding Pictures are Online

I helped Dan and Scott, photographers extraordinaire, set up a photo-booth at the Fancy Dress Party for Michael and Erin's wedding the weekend before last.

We had a pretty technofabulous rig, with a Nikon D200 connected directly to Dan's MacBook, which was connected to a projector. 10 seconds after a shot was taken, you could see it projected bigger than life right behind the cameraman.

Some amazing photographs are proof of a job well done. You can find all the pictures at the wedding website: spectacular-spectacular.com, but here are a handful of my favorites:

Credit to the photographers, Dan and Scott