How not to hitch-hike ...

Or gruesome SF bay area story of the week ...
or another story on evolution in action ...
or how to mess up a bunch of other people's commute to work ...

Body struck repeatedly on I-880 identified as Berkeley hitchhiker

(10-13) 04:00 PDT Hayward -- The man found dead after being hit on Interstate 880 in Hayward was identified Friday as a hitchhiker from Berkeley who secretly clung to the bottom of a truck for 20 miles before losing his grip, falling to the freeway and being struck by numerous cars, authorities said.

David Connolly, 37, walked up to a truck parked off Interstate 80 in Berkeley before dawn Thursday and, in Spanish, asked the driver for a ride, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Davis.

The truck driver, who had been sleeping, told authorities he was uncomfortable with the idea and told Connolly no. When Connolly insisted and tried to open the truck door, the driver blocked him and started to drive away.

Without the driver's knowledge, however, Connolly had somehow climbed underneath the truck and hidden himself in a space above the driveshaft, Davis said. Near the A Street exit on I-880 in Hayward, Connolly apparently lost his grip.

It was unclear whether Connolly let go because the truck hit a bump, if he passed out from fumes or fell asleep. It is also not known whether he died as a result of falling to the freeway or from being hit by many cars, Davis said.

Asked how Connolly could have hung on in such a fashion, Davis said, "For dear life."

Authorities reached their conclusion after the truck driver came forward. He had seen news reports about the death and found bits of clothing and remains under his truck, Davis said.

The space between the bottom of the truck and the ground measured 44 inches, which was enough to provide clearance for someone, Davis said.

Connolly's remains were strewn across five lanes and 1,000 feet of highway, and the CHP reported receiving about 80 phone calls from witnesses or drivers who had hair or blood on their cars.

The southbound freeway was shut down for more than two hours.

The Alameda County coroner's office used Connolly's fingerprints to identify him.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at

This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Weekend of 100+ beers

I'm looking forward to this weekend, and I'm praying
that I don't catch a cold between now and then.

Its the weekend of "Beer Camp", the Northern California Homebrew Festival (NCHF),
the biggest beer weekend of the year (in Northern California, at least).

Chances are, I'll be sampling over 100 beers ... maybe more ...
I'm going to try to keep track this year.

It all starts friday morning when I'll drive up to the campground in
the foothill of the Sierra (with a stop for lunch at the Sudwerk brewery
in Davis to sample their Oktoberfest beer).

(Actually, it really starts for me with the Chilli Cook-off
here at work on thursday at lunch ... since after that
I'm essentually worthless after that!)

Then I'll arrive at the campground at around 4pm (I hope), set up camp,
and get myself over the the "happy hour", which involves a dozen
kegs of beer, or so.

But I'll be trying to limit what I drink and eat there, because
the is a 7 course gourmet dinner waiting:
Which includes dishes made with beer, and lots of special beers themselves.

After that I'll stagger back to my tent, and try to sleep
(last year I had a hard time sleeping because I was so bloated!).

The next morning after breakfest, the main event starts:
dozens of beer clubs from all over northern californa will set up
thier booths around a big square lawn, and I'll wonder around the
whole day sampling the beer that each of the clubs has wraught/brought.

Assuming each club brings about 10 beers, and assuming there will be
at least 10 clubs there (probably more), that means I'll be sampling
over 100 beers.

This year I want to keep track of what I sample, somehow.

Hopefully with a note-book, but also with my digital camera.

After the vast sampling of beers, we'll all stagger back to the
camp at 5pm or 6 for somekind of dinner (I'm not sure yet what
I'll be eating ... at least 2 or 3 groups said I can come and join

There will be lots of sampling of various people's beer and wine
(I know some people who make some really great wine that will be there).

After that the campground will errupt into many parties, and I'll
wonder around for a while seeing what is to partake in.

Then at 10pm or 11pm, the die-hards will gather for the crowning event
of the night: The Dead Palate Society.

Last year I was only able to last until about 1pm ...

They is where many special and limited beers and homebrews
make their appearance (things that are to expensive to let
everyone try).

Sunday morning, I'll wake up with a hang-over, and then drive

Which I'm kind of glad of, since it is already way to much
for one single weekend.

Stupid Dead People Tricks: Reflections on "The War"

San Francisco has a vast army of homeless people these days.
Thousands upon thousands of them: walk down any street,
and you'll see them passed out in doorways and begging
at the traffic lights. You'll always see hundreds of them
in the parks, and the library is full of them
(and these are just the ones you can tell are homeless
by their filthy clothing, and the have-not-bathed-in-months look
and smell, and long scraggly hair. (And why do crazy homeless people
all seem to pile on the clothing as if its winter?)
Why aren't there that many crazy homeless people that feel the
need to wear less?).

Anyway, I've thought I've seen everything, but last saturday
I was walking down a street near Haight and Webster,
and there was a homeless person sprawled out on the sidewalk,
looking very much like a dead person.

But I assuming he was just passed out ... at least we all
assumed that, since nobody bothered to call 911 or the coroner.
Also, his eyes were shut, and I figured a dead person would
look a little more paler and/or ashen (although I've never
really seen a dead person up close, so I'm not exactly sure
what I dead person looks like).

I'd been watching the Ken Burns documentary "The War" on PBS
over that week, so it kind of made me think this must be
what it was like to be walking along some street in a war ravaged town, stepping over dead bodies. Except there wasn't any blood or gore.

It must be really strange walking around someplace where dead people
are lying around.

I know a women who is going to be doing that for a living:
she is going to be a forensic etymologist.

At the university she works at, they are going to take a bunch
of dead people and lay them outside in a field somewhere, and study
the effect on their bodies of what the bugs and elements do to them.

I would find it strange to be working with dead bodies ...
I wonder if I'd get used to it after a while?

I guess so: since a lot of people do it all the time.

I bet this person I know will be in an episode of "Dirty Jobs"
one of these days.

Who am I better than?

I was just sitting thinking, while reading the thread on the Nobel Prize,
why wouldn't Danielle Steele win it?

You might say, "well, she isn't a very good writer", right?

Which I'd probably agree (I haven't ever read a book of her's from
cover to cover, but every once in a while I'll pick one up
and skim a page or two, and realize I could probably read
the whole thing in a few hours or less ... its kind of one notch
above "Dick and Jane").

But then again, she's probably the top selling author in the history
of the world ...

So it makes me wonder, if I ever sat down and tried to write somekind
of book, for eventual attempt at publication, could I write something
better than what Danielle Steele writes?

Most of us here would probably say, "heck yeah, I could do that".
(it might not sell as many books, or even get accepted by a publisher,
but it would be better, literarily wise, than that).

So the question is, if "Danielle Steele" is to low a bar, which author
do you think you could be better than?

If it is to high, the same question ...

Now that I think of it,
and looking at the writing above ... maybe "Dick and Jane" is
about the level of "my" bar. :-)

Rain, rain ...

We got a good splash of rain over the weekend ...
friday night I woke up, some time during the night,
to some fairly pitter-patter.

This is not something we get very often this time
of year ... usually its not until November that
we start getting rain.

I guess this was more of a freak occurance, due to
some tropical depressions down to the south.

No doubt we'll still have at least one or two "indian summers"
between now and November, where it will be warm enough to head
to the beach.

But it was pretty refreshing to have everying wet this weekend.

On Satuarday morning, since I had no obligations (one of the few
times between now and January that I don't have any),
I walked downtown for my morning coffee and bagel.

It was very pleasent, with since everything smells so fresh after
a rain. Even though it got a little wet now and then.

I always get a bit of a nostalgic yearning in the fall: it always
makes me think of college, life in the university.

Apparently, according to the weather man, it will be a very nice
time to go to the beach in the next couple of days: since we're
looking at an "indian summer" situation coming up.

(no subject)

Driving around doing erands at lunch,
I noticed there was a homeless persons with a sign
begging at all four directions in the "islands"
at one of the intersections near the business
I had to stop at (the homebrew store I do my beer
appreciation class at ...).

I've never seen all directions "full".
Kind of strange.

Then the light changes, and I go, and I'm half way
into the intersection, some guy comes blazing through
in an SUV ... running the red light, many seconds
after it was red on his end.

So fortunately I have the state of mind that I'm
able think of hitting my horn ... two long "beeps".

I didn't really get a good look at the driver,
but there was a women in the passenger seat I saw
very clearly, and she had her hand up to her head
and her mouth was wide open, as if she was screaming
"I'm going to die!". If she was the boyfriend of the driver,
I hope she thinks of dumping the jerk, and giving
him a "Darwin Award". Although there is just as good of a
chance that she'll decide he is "Mr. Daring" for dashing
through the intersection ...

I notice all the homeless people in the intersections
looked to see what the honking was all about,
and turned their heads to look.

First cold of the season ...

Well, at the end of my last post, I mentioned I couldn't
taste the spaghetti saurce I made, because my nose was stuff,
and I thought I was either catching a cold, or had some allergies ...
well, it turns out, I did catch a cold.

Grr ...

It is weird catching a cold when it is so nice outside.

So my "long holiday weekend" got extended a couple of days ...
except I'm not getting to have much fun.

I much more enjoy calling in sick when I'm not actually sick.

Hopefully this thing will blow over quickly, because I have
a beer class to give tomorrow night, and we're doing Belgian & French Ales,
which are very tasty, and expensive.

Also I have two beer competitions I have to judge this weekend:
the Santa Cruz Co. Fair and the Tulare Co. Fair.

Fortunately, this feels like a fairly normal little cold,
and not a flu, so it should go away pretty quickly (knock on wood).

Labor Day Weekend 2007

Here's what I did over my "long" weekend (got 4 days off):

Friday: 8PM: after loading up the pick-up, and drove 4 hours,
after a few stops or so, to Yosemite National Park.

Arrived about 1 PM at my destination campground: Bridalvail.

After a bit of lunch, did a fine little hike up to Sentinal Dome,
and around to "The Fissers" and Taft Point.
Beautiful views many miles of Yosemite from Sentinal Dome.
Not a drop of water visible in Yosemite Falls.
Very different from when I was there over Memorial Day Weekend.

Very dry and fairly warm: in the 80's at 7,000 feet elevation.
Sort of draining.
Much hotter down in the Yosemite Valley 3000 feet lower.

The feeling of fall seems close ... except for the warm weather ...
Even tho its hot in the day,
all the plants looks like they're already in their "fall" mode ...
because ...
As soon as the sun sets, it starts getting cool fast:
have to change my t-shirt and shot pants to long sleeve, sweaters,
and long pants, very quickly.

Saturday: Did a big all-day day hike from the Bridalvail Campground,
due south, to Wawona, about 14 miles.

I've been thinking about doing this hike for about 9 years now
Apparently ... it doesn't seem like 9 years, but according to
my hiking journal, its been 9 years since I hiked:

Saturday (June 6, 1998)

hike in Yosemite National Park, CA
Hike from the Chilnaula Falls trail head near Wawona,
to the Chilnaula Falls, and return.
Approx. distance. 8.4 miles, 2200 feet elevation loss.

I've wanted to do the hike from Bridalvail campground to Chilnaula Falls,
in order to connect two areas of the park that I've done a lot of hiking in:
the one around the valley, and the other around the above falls.

It was a fairly easy hike, except I felt fairly lathargic,
for some reason, for a lot of the hike. Maybe it was because I was tired
from yesterday's hike. Probably due to the heat also.

Since the Chilnaula river was now nothing much but a small creek,
there were some very nice swimming holes exposed right where
the falls go over a 1,000 foot cliff,
and I got in and skinny dipped for a few
minutes in the refreshingly cold water.

As soon as I got out and dress, it was so hot, I was dry and
warming up gain in no time.

Hiked the rest of the way to Wawona, and hitch-hiked back to the
campsite. Only took 2 rides to get back, because a family
from the Belmont Astronamy Club, who was also camping in the Bridalvail Campground, saw me and gave me a ride.

Sunday: after exploring the Valley a bit, I drove home at 12 noon.

Got back to my apartment at about 4pm.

Didn't have more than 30 minutes to relax, when my mom & dad arrive.
They're heading up to Oregon in the camper with their boat,
and needed a place to stay inbetween.

So we went out for Thai food.

My parents are getting so elderly. And my dad is very grumpy all the time.
They are both hard of hearing. I have to repeat everything twice.
I know I'm going to have to repeat everything I say before I say it,
but it doesn't help saying it louder.
My dad is an extreme tight-wade with money ... he always wants to know
what the price of EVERYTHING is, and then is ALWAYS shocks him,
"Gawd! $1.75 for a cup of coffee!".

Monday: in the morning, we go out do breakfest at Dennys.
They leave about 10am, because they have an 8 hour drive to Eureka.

In the afternoon, I go to my garden and pick a bunch of tomatoes.
There are a lot coming in now.

Its been one of my goals since, starting a garden, to make
spaghetti sauce from scratch.
So, using instructions from the internet, I peel a bunch of tomatoes,
squeeze the seeds and juice out, add a bunch of spices
(oregano, fresh basil from my garden, onions, mushrooms, garlic ...),
and Voila! Spaghetti sauce!

I think the only thing I did wrong was I put in to much corn starch for
thickening, and it turned out a bit to think. I need to use about 1/2
as much next time (i.e., only 1 tablespoon). Also, only had "beefsteak"
tomatoes in my garden, which aren't the optimum variety for spaghetti
sauce. Next year I plan to plant the "San Marzano" variety, which is
supposedly the classic tomato in Italy for tomato dishes.

Also, I'm not sure I was tasting it ... my started doing something wacky
last night ... either I'm catching a cold, or there is something in
the air giving me alergies ... because I'm all "stuffy", all last night
and this morning.

More Colorado beer!

We're having a heat wave here in the bay area right now,
in part due to the what used to be hurricane Dean blowing
up from Mexico.

Whenever it gets hot here in the bay area, they've started
having what are called "spare the air" days, where they
make all public transportation free (for part of all of the day).

So I took advantage of it, and took most the day off work,
and took a free train ride up to San Francisco, for a
big beer tasting event that was going on with
a brewery from Colorado: Avery.

They are a Boulder CO based brewery, and they are making
some of the most interesting and cutting edge beer in the
country at the moment: sort of in the league of Dogfish Head, Stone,
Russian River, etc.

There head brewer/owner/founder, Adam Avery, was touring the bay area
this week, and the event last night was a tasting of 15 of their beers
(for $35) at the Toronado tap house (I also needed to do some business
with the owner ... he's letting us run a BJCP Exam there at the end
of Sept.).

The nice thing was, when I was in Denver last June, I somehow did
not get to sample hardly any of these beers, so this was sort of
fixing a hole in my CO beer education.

So, holy cow, there were some good beers served.

Since I've been to hundreds of events like this one over the years,
I was fairly conservative in my drinking, and was only a bit tipsy
by the time it was over. However, my friend that I came up with,
who hasn't really down many of these, over indulged.

So on the way home (his girlfriend was driving, and she was sober),
we had to pull over multiple times, so he could make a few technicolor yawns.

This morning, I felt a bit yucky ...
I notice that some of the Avery beers are a bit "fuselly",
kind of like Anchor Brewery beers ... and can lead to bad hang-overs
and ralphing if one over-indulges.

Life Listing

Over the weekend the NY Times had an article on people
doing "Life Lists". They also had the guy talking about
it on Talk-of-the-Nation on NPR today.

Here is my "Life Goals" list I've been maintaning since early 1999.
Although this is not exactly a "Life List", since I don't check boxes
when I accomplish them. Instead I remove them from the list,
or modify them (sometimes because I've accomplished it,
sometimes because I'm no longer interested in it),
and not the accomplishment at the bottom (which I didn't include here).

Also, I was thinking today, after listen to the NPR show,
that I don't really havea "just for the heck of it" catagory.
I'm not sure what you'd really call them: things like
jumping out of an airplane once, or climbing Mt. Everest
(I'm not actually interested in doing), or getting a sports car (something I
might do sometime, maybe, if I ever won the lottery or sometime),
but seem a bit illogical. So I added that as my "E" catagory
(a real E-ticket?). I haven't though of what I'm going to put
there yet, other than a BMW Z3, but I'm sure there are other things.

So here it is:

Life Goals: 5 to 10 Years

Started on 4/30/1999
This revision: 8/28/2007

A. Travel
1. International (current European travel plans are hurt by $1.36 exchange rate for the Euro)
b. Europe IV (Spain, Portugal, Morocco)
c. Europe V (Greece, Turkey, Isreal, Egypt)
d. Europe VI (Scandanavia/Baltics)
d. Trans-Siberian RR (Russia, Lake Bikal, Mongolia, China, [Japan?])
e. Madagascar (great wild life ... but expensive: $6,000 for 2 weeks!)
f. Torre del Paines in South South America (great walk trip)
g. Thailand (great food trip)
h. Japan (great food and different culture)
i. Turkey (
j. Switzerland (hike hut-to-hut across the Alps)

2. Domestic (USA/Canada)
a. Car tour: Eastern Canada: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.
b. Hiking (Rae Lakes Loop?, Sierra JMT?, Olympics, etc.)
c. Car tour Southern Colorado (with a couple days stay in Denver forthe GABF)

B. Find Ms. Right (aka: "The One").
1. Make self more attractive
a. become more mentally attractive (read, travel, films, plays)
b. become more physically attractive
i. exercise regularly
ii. loose weight: loose 57 points, i.e. 257 -> 200.
e. improve appearance (dress better, overall hygene, haircut, etc)
f. take dance classes

2. Find out where the women are:
a. go there (Foothill College, Universities?)
b. spend more time there

C. Financial (continue saving for retirement and still have enough to achieve all goals,
at least $500,000. Between $400k & $1 million?) (achieved around 2004)
(At this point, if if I can hang on until Jun 2009, I might be able to
get the "early retirement" package, of about $26,500 a year. And by then
I should have more than $1,000,000 in the bank).

D. House
Buy a house and/or "cabin" (in 1999 USD$100,000), of the requirements:
a. near/in woods, National Forest (close to nature)
b. garden (grow oregano, basil, and San Marzano tomatoes)
c. good garage and/or work area for a pico-brewery and extra refrigerators
d. Warm or cool climate? (Puget Sound or Desert? Both?)
e. Close enough to major city for monthly dose of "culture"
(i.e. Port Angeles -> Seattle)
f. rock garden/stone work

E. Health
1. remain healthy and fit so you can achieve all goals
2. keep weight down (try to get to 200# or less)
3. keep hiking for exercise
4. drink alcohol in moderation (don't get drunk to often)
5. teeth maintainance (see dentist regularly)

F. Education
1. Worldly knowledge gleaned via Travels (see "A". above)
4. Diverse reading:
a. Literary: Pale Fire, ???
b. Other books from readling list (etc.)
5. Class room study
a. work related (boring!)
b. personal
i. full time graduate school:
get a Masters and/or Ph.d in Brewing ("Environmental Chemistry" or maybe Nutrition)?
ii. continue to take evening classes at local junior college
(drawing, painting, spanish, french)

G. Work:
1. Continue working at NASA another N years? (to 7/2009 for reduced pension)
2. Switch to another job (not easy now, unless perhaps as assistant brewer)?
a. stay in bay area
b. move somewhere else
i. Seattle area
3. Switch Careers?
a. brewer (start as assistant brewer for 1 or 2 years then move up)
b. naturalist (start as a volunteer for a national park)
c. writer (make journal entires daily, write a novel or book)
d. artist
i. painter (take classes at Foothill in perparation)
ii. writer (countinue with journal)
e. all the above (a renaissance man)

E. Weird Silly Things?
1. Automobile
a. BMW Z3


[28 Aug 2007] Notes:
In the last couple months since I updated this, here are some of the accomplishments.

(A2c) Did a driving trip to Denver, CO and back, and attended the National Homebrew Converence there.

(B1b & E2) Lost another 10 pounds ... so I've lost about 35 pounds since January 1st,
and have maintaned my exercise regimen, so I'm much more healthy and fit.
I'm currently below 220#s, so I've achieved goal E2.
What I need to do now is keep loosing (i.e., get to 200#s), and then
maybe even loose more (i.e., get to 180#), and the bottom line is:
do not gain it back or increase.

(F4a) Finished reading "Sons and Lovers", D.H. Lawernce.
Need to find a new "big goal" to read for 2008.