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Monday January 10th 2011
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Today is a travel day for me.  I leave Galveston at 10 AM and arrive at San Diego around 6 PM with a stop in Phoenix.  I have an eBook on my Galaxy to keep me company.  I decided to read the copy of "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" since it can be shared on up to five devices as I understand it.  I just logged onto the account we set up  for Ellen and updated, and the book showed up on my bookshelf in Kobo!  I haven't read any fiction for years, but I thought I'd give it a try.  I have time to kill while waiting and flying.

The flights went well and I had my rental car, a white Chevy Aveo with 488 miles on the clock, by 7 or so.  I have now read about 2/3rds of the book. 

Oddly, the flight crew insist on turning off a book on an eReader, while they have no problem with paper books.  Wi-Fi devices are prohibited on some flights, but encouraged on others.  Go figure.  None of this makes any sense.

What does, "Off" even mean anymore.  Most of these devices only go into sleep mode when turned off.

The car drives well.  Traffic was flowing at 75 and 80 going north and the car stayed in the traffic easily, with enough extra pep to maneuver well.  It has no cruise control and that is no issue on short drives.  On long drives, my hip gets sore from pushing and holding the accelerator.

By 8:25, I was at Jon's in Laguna Beach. The kids were in bed.

The weather is mild and clear.  I spoke with Ellen on the way up and she reports very cold weather at home, but clear.

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Tuesday January 11th 2011
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Today I have a chance to catch up on some deskwork and pay some bills.  We'll go out later and I intend to go for a good long walk.

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Wednesday January 12th 2011
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Today I drove to San Ysidro, parked, and crossed over to Tijuana around 10.  I met the 'shuttle' at McDonalds and was whisked off to the dentists' office.  The 'shuttle' was an older, jacked-up 4X4 Land Rover-type body job with a loud muffler, driven by a muscular young man.  He drove as if the streets were a video game and we arrived in jig time.

I spent two hours on my back in the chair while the dentist worked away, then caught a cab back to the border.  I retrieved my car and drove back to Jon's.  I have some things to do down San Diego way, but the 805 and the 405 are jammed at rush hour and still can have stop and go sections at any time of day, so I drove straight down and straight back.  I have to go back to Tijuana two more times, so I plan to take a hotel in San Diego tomorrow and spend some time there before my next appointment Friday.

I reserved my flight home for the 24th.  I notice it costs me $100 more to fly from San Diego than LAX, but that was my choice.  I could spend more than $100 trying to save that $100.

I wonder, if this is a recession, what freeway traffic will be like if/when the economy recovers.  It seems to me that even repairing and maintaining these roads will be difficult since it means restricting traffic, and there are already delays and jams now when the road is wide open.

I wonder what causes the slow-downs.  It seems to have to do with local traffic at cities.  I suppose it only takes one person slowing down to change lanes or to slow to rubberneck at an accident or a police car beside the road to bunch traffic up and set off a chain reaction.  When a lane of traffic slows, the last-arriving cars often slows much more than the lead car as they catch up.  Often drivers in smaller vehicles cannot see the slowdown ahead due to large vehicles in the way, and overreact.  Once one car stops, those behind must also.  It takes more time for traffic to speed back up than it did to slow down.

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Thursday January 13th 2011
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Off to San Diego today.

I left around noon, after updating my Garmin WT 265 GPS.  It is several years old and I recently paid the ridiculous price of $89 to get map updates for the life of the device.  I see the device for sale at Costco for $109, but I wonder how old the maps are in those units. 

I had thought that I had updated when I bought the maps a month or two back, but the unit has been acting weird, so I reloaded the software and did an update of the maps.  They warn in the software that the update process can take over and hour, but they do not mention that you need high-speed Internet.  As it happened, I did, but all in all, I find Garmin to be somewhat brain-dead when it comes to anticipating user experience. 

I had an hour, so I proceeded.  It almost took two and the software downloaded a GB or so in  the process.  I did not dare interrupt the process, since there is no mention o0f what might happen. That update, along with an unexpected Microsoft Windows update that popped up during shutdown almost made me late for a get-together with a friend along the way at Carlsbad.

I arrived at Ruby's on time and Chuck and I chatted for two hours or so, then I had some time on my hands.  I decided to check out the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Safari site and set the GPS.  I did not realize that it would take out past Escondido, and I arrived at the gates after closing.  I had expected that and not intended to enter, but I was surprised at how far inland it is.  Now I know where it is.  Sorta.

I joined six lanes of rush-hour traffic on I15 and drove down to Sandy Yego.  It was dark when I arrived, but I drove by Downwind Marine, just to know where it is, then drove to my motel in San Ysidro to ready for tomorrow.

I had some time on my hands and hammered out some details of an upcoming experiment with Randy, then sorted my GPS files and reloaded the GPS with just my California waypoints.

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Friday January 14th 2011
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It's another beautiful warm, sunny day here in SoCal.  At home, in Alberta, from the forecast it looks cold and dark. I'm off for another day at the dentist in Tijuana.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I spent three hours in the chair and two hours lined up at the border waiting to re-enter the US.  Both experiences were quite trying, but also entertaining and educational.  The dentist worked very diligently and intently on my back molars.  He decided that I needed four, rather than  three crowns, since I had been without a cap on one for quite a while and the opposing molar, with a crown, had moved out of place due to lack of a partner.  He explained through an interpreter, since he was unsure of his English and did not want to be misunderstood, but we got to chatting later and his English was quite good. 

After we were done he prescribed Ibuprofen, 600 mg, 4X per day for 4 days for inflammation at the site.  He advised that I buy the ibuprofen in Mexico since he felt the ibuprofen sold in the US is inferior.  That surprised me, and on reflection, I realised that Mexicans are very proud of their country, and have good reason to be.

I enjoyed the day in Tijuana.  I arrived at my appointment an hour early and walked around the area.   I had taken a cab and had to instruct the driver who spoke almost no English, but we arrived pretty much directly.

We hear all sorts of horrible things about the drug wars and corruption in Tijuana, and my friend from Carlsbad who is planning to move to Chile or Uruguay and other Americans I have met would never consider going to Mexico, but in downtown Tijuana, a mile or more from the border, the neighbourhoods are quiet and clean and the people are confident and friendly.  (He also says he would not go to LA for similar reasons). 

I walked through a Sam's Club, and except for the prices being in pesos (twelve to the dollar), I could have been anywhere.  The surrounding strip mall was pleasant.  I saw furnished apartments in modern-looking buildings advertised for rent and remembered that some Americans in SoCal commute from TJ since the rent is so cheap.

I caught another cab to the border and joined the pedestrian line which was longer than I can ever recall.  It took two hours to reach the customs counter.  In the meantime, I learned a lot about people.  The people in line, from babies to ancient ladies with big bags, were all polite and patient as we moved slowly along and watched quite a few line crashers cutting in ahead.  Beggars moved up and down the line.  The woman in front of me dropped a coin into every proffered cup.  I demurred.  Hawkers canvassed the line, selling "shuttle" rides for $5, promising a crossing in a half-hour.  They walked people up the pavement, past the line to where the shuttles were parked in the bus lane, and in the bus door.  I doubt many even got into the vans.   No one in line complained as we watched the various forms of cheating.  Some, mostly brash kids, simply walked up the line and cut in as if they had been there all the time.  Most in the line spoke Spanish and English.  Some were friendly; others kept to themselves the whole time.  Others talked the whole time on cell phones.

When we reached the border, the interview was short, a sentence or two, and on we went.  As we walked out, a dog sniffed everyone with great enthusiasm.  The whole process is deliberately demeaning, it seems.  Foot traffic is treated with much less respect than airline traffic, not that airline passengers are all that well treated at times (Air passenger screening has improved lately, probably since influential people tend to fly, not walk, and because airlines have clout and protest if their passengers are delayed two hours needlessly).

Money talks, it seems.  Although all sorts of people cross by foot, just as by air or bus, I don't see movie stars, suited business people or politicians in the line-up.  I gather they pay for special treatment, fly or drive.  Although the car line-up beside us had delays, I noticed that it moved much faster, although the potential for significant smuggling and oversights seems to me to be very much greater with vehicles.  Where is the justice?

I retrieved my car and drove to Laguna Beach and had supper with Jon and the kids.

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Saturday January 15th 2011
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I got up, make a loaf of sandwiches and we drove to Bear mountain for a day of skiing and boarding.   We hadn't realised that this is Martin Luther King weekend and so we were surprised by the crowds and the higher prices charged on special weekends.  We were also surprised to find highway 330 closed due, we assume, to washouts from recent storms and wasted an hour or so detouring.  At any rate, we had a good afternoon, then drove home.

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Sunday January 16th 2011
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We had a relaxing day at home today.  Jon went out for a while in the morning and bought an new HTC EDO Android phone from Sprint. His old iPhone on T-Mobile was missing calls.  It works much the same as my Tab.

In the afternoon, we walked up to the pool and swam and sunbathed. I then slept for two hours.  For some reason, no matter how late I go to bed, I awake at 4 AM.  If I go back to sleep again, I wake up at 6, sharp.  I have an alarm clock in my head it seems and I can't seem to turn it off.

Last night  I stayed up after midnight, finishing "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", and so I was a bit short on sleep.  This is the first novel I have read in a while.  I don't know what to think of them.  To me, even the 'good' ones seem bogus, superficial and contrived.  I seem to be alone in that perception.  My wife, daughter and mother devour books at a fast pace and read everything on the book hit parade.

At any rate, that was why I was a bit tired.

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Monday January 17th 2011
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I got up at 4:25 today.  I found I was having ibuprofen dreams and figured there was no point trying to sleep.  After a few days of use, ibuprofen causes me to have strange dreams.  They are not nightmares, but tend to be somewhat disturbing and persistent and happen around time of awakening.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, so the kids have the day off.  Jon is planning to work, so I have the kids for the day.  What to do?  Chuck-E-Cheeses?  Eastwing?  Moulton Meadows?  The beaches?  Legoland?  The Zoo?  The Wild Animal Park?

*    *    *    *    *    *   

I've been in SoCal for a week, now and I return home a week from today.

We're now getting reports of the experiment we commissioned recently.  After almost a year of waiting, it is underway.  There were a few minor glitches when feeders leaked, but it seems the chemicals we are testing are not killing bees, even at much higher concentrations than the literature suggests are safe.

*    *    *    *    *    *   

We did not go anywhere spectacular.  The kids just wanted to go to the park and chuck-E Cheeses, so we picked up Savanna and Janine and away we went.  Afterwards, Katrina, Kalle, Jon and I went swimming, but S & J couldn't go because they had just had their hair straightened and could not get it wet, so we dropped them at Sarah W's place on the way back to Club Laguna.

After supper I went grocery shopping.  Is it my imagination or have food prices gone up?

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Tuesday January 18th 2011
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The kids are back at school today, so maybe I'll get caught up on my books and bills.

I started the day by calling AAA to start my car.  I had left the dome light on and this basic car does not apparently have the circuitry to shut everything off after a few minutes like most of the current crop of vehicles.  The driver arrived, gave me a boost and we discussed the current situation in Mexico while the battery charged.  He's from there and goes down often to see family.

Amazing News From Catch the Buzz:

Dr. Joseph DeRisi, UCSF - - presented the results from his study of a migratory bee operation over the course of a year. Weekly samples were taken to determine the biodiversity of pathogens in the samples. Utilizing pathogen microarray and ultra deep sequencing technology, DeRisi and his team that includes graduate student Charles Runckel and Dr. Michelle Flenniken discovered pathogens never before found in honey bees. These include four new viruses, a protozoan, a bacteria and a tiny fly. Those viruses have been named Lake Sinai Virus 1 and 2, Aphid Lethal Paralysis Virus-Brookings, and Big Sioux River Virus. The Lake Sinai viruses are distantly related to Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV). ; The Aphid Lethal Paralysis Virus-Brookings and the Big Sioux River Virus are novel Dicistroviruses. He also found Crithidia mellificae, a protozoan parasite that peaked in the winter colony samples, bacteria identified as Spiroplasma, and the phorid fly. DeRisi called the phorid fly, “Honey bees’ worst nightmare” because these tiny flies deposit their eggs in the abdomen of the bee. The larvae feed on hemolymph and tissues of the head, altering the bee’s behavior. The bees leave the hive and do not return, thus it is difficult to find phorids within the colony itself. DeRisi will complete his analysis, no doubt find more novel pathogens, and publish complete results soon.

Here are the 2010 proceedings.  Check them out.

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Wednesday January 19th 2011
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Jon had to drive in to work today since his company laptop crashed and he has to get a replacement.  The kids are off to school, and I am on my own with Daisy, the dog. 

Since I'm off to Tijuana again tomorrow to have the four crowns installed, I'm checking out the shuttle buses to Tijuana and back.  I don't feel like standing in a long line and am curious what is offered.  I have to go a long ways in downtown TJ anyhow and would be catching a cab, so if I can find a bus from San Ysidro to Revolution, that would kill two birds with one stone.  It is a still a mile or so from the bus station to the dentist, though.

I wasted over an hour looking online.  There is just no good, simple information.  Mexicoach's website has been hacked and their phone mailbox is full.  Greyhound from San Diego delivers me 6 km from where I want to be.  Looking online, I can't find where the other shuttles drop people off.  I had hoped to get close, but it seems that I'll have to take a cab or walk no matter what I do.  I wonder if the dentist will send a shuttle again.  I'd save $5.

*    *    *    *    *    *   

Noon: I cleaned up around the apartment and am going out for a while.  Have to be back by 2 or so, since the kids have a short day and Jon is gone.  Had to run the air-conditioning yesterday it was so hot, and it is already warm now at 10:30.

The afternoon turned cooler.  I drove over to Wal-mart and returned some shorts I had bought and didn't like, and got a few things: a bulletin board and picture frame, then dropped by Stater Bros for a few groceries and hurried back.  The kids had just arrived on the bus, a few minutes earlier than expected.

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