adrian is rad


no such thing as a stupid question, maybe just an inopportunely timed one

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:53 pm

So I wanted to get new underwear before I left. I like Hanes. Shouldn’t be a problem to find some, except that when San Francisco basically lacks big box stores (your Targets and whatnot), I don’t know where to look for just regular underwear.

So I checked Hanes’ website and it says that Walgreens carries their products. Between leaving work and selling someone my bookshelf, I had a couple minutes and I decided to try to fit in a quick trip to Walgreens to check if they had underwear.

So I rushed in and was looking around. I couldn’t find underwear and I was starting to get worried I’d be late to sell my bookshelf. I’ll just ask one of the employees where to find them, I thought. Then I reconsidered: they might get the wrong idea if I was rushing around, looking anxious and worried and asked “Do you have underwear?”


engineering tools I’m bringing

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:22 pm

I plan on continuing working in mechanical engineering when I get to South Africa. But due to space constraints, I’m not bringing anything but the essential engineering tools with me:

[1] I got both of these at used book sales. They’re old editions, but the formulas are still applicable. Total cost: around $6.

[2] You wouldn’t think such a clunky piece of electronics would be necessary when every phone has a calculator function and you can use google as a calculator. But I immediately regretted not bringing this to Taiwan when I worked there.

[3] I really wish I was taking these fantastic calipers but the ones I’ve been using are owned by work, so they need to stay. Can you say ‘Christmas list’, though?

[4] previously raved about


I’m smarter now

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:40 pm

Nerd hero Richard Feynman explains how trains stay on the tracks and how they go around corners without a differential.

Thanks to dug for sending me this.

when time’s short

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:16 pm

When time’s short it forces you to focus your energies and do what you’ve only said you’ve wanted to do. I leave for South Africa in a bit over a week; time’s short.

Friday I had a going away party which included a secret house concert. This is a guy I’m big fans of* and have seen play in the Great American and other big venues, playing a few feet from me in my living room surrounded by 30 friends. Just acoustic guitar, upright bass and two voices and no amplification, it was nothing short of amazing.

And, after, there was beer, there were friends and there were cookies shaped like Africa and carrot cake cupcakes.

Less than twelve hours later, I was zipping across the Golden Gate Bridge–my first time across it in any form, I tell to incredulous people every time it comes up–on a rented Vespa LX 150 with a lady sitting behind, holding on.

It feels like these are just two vignettes in among many. Time is doing funny things, going fast, but with slow motion episodes.

* Though you may be able to guess his identity, I’ll leave that off this blog. He has a commitment to a music festival to not play shows in this time period.


sentimental and big

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:49 am

Moving affords one lots of opportunities to decide whether to keep or get rid of a lot of stuff. The easiest is probably just stuff: will I use this and is its size/ weight something I’d be will to pay the expense of keeping.

Sentimental and small is easy too: yeah, I’ll keep that small stack of papers from that summer job in Germany.

Sentimental and big: that’s hard. Last night I threw out a section of a grad school project that I was pretty proud of. But it was big and weighed a ton. Goodbye pneumatic-powered nerf gun with linear and rotational control.


Pittsburgh and SF PCCs (transportation nerdery)

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:36 pm

PCC #1711 in Allentown climbing Arlington Ave. Hill, 1967 by Edward A Wickson

I’ve been interested in PCCs recently. They’re a type of streetcar that was designed by the Presidents’ Conference Committee in the 1930s and were primarily used during through the 1960s. San Francisco’s F Market line runs a lot of these along with some mostly wooden antique and Milan cars.

I found recently that Pittsburgh had one of the largest PCC fleets in its heyday. There are a number of great photo galleries of old Pittsburgh PCCs in action.

Interestingly enough, Pittsburgh actually ran PCCs in a limited context until 1999 on the 47D Drake Loop line. Here’s a great page about that loop and here’s a photo gallery of the last days of that line. I believe some of the last PCCs were running along this line, though I’m not sure where I read that now. Apparently ridership dwindled to 50 passengers a day at the end.

Market Street Railway, the non-profit that restores PCCs for the F Market, bought two of the last three cars, though they need to converted to appropriate wheel gauge before they’re usable. I really hope they keep the 90s white-black-and-gold paint job you see below.

In one last PCC oddity, the Ashmont Mattapan line in Boston is the last non-historic use of PCCs in the US. The line also runs through a cemetery. I should ride it next time I’m in Boston.

At Fort Couch, inbound car 4004 emerges from the tunnel under Fort Couch Road, a busy four-lane highway by Jon Bell


how to filter mail bcc-ed to your non-gmail address in gmail

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:24 pm

Maybe I’m the only one with this problem but I thought I’d share if there are others.

I have a few email addresses that are all forwarded to my gmail address. I have a blog that produces a lot of email with a fair amount of it being bcc-ed to the blog email address. I want to filter all emails to that address to be filtered into their own folder. It took me a while to figure out how to do it, but here it is. It’s definitely a bit of a work-around, but it can be done.

So for this example, I have these email addresses: (currently forwards to gmailaddress) (secret gmail account currently not used)

We want everything that goes to to be filtered whether it’s bcc-ed or not.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Change your forwarding address for from to
  2. Log in to secondarygmailaddress and go to Settings->forwarding and set it to forward all your mail to (‘something’ can be anything, but it should be unique).
  3. Go back to your gmailaddress account. Go to settings->filters and create a new filter. In “has the words” section put in “” (without the quotes) and set it filter that mail into a new label. Have it skip the inbox if you’d like (that’s what I wanted in my case).

If you want it to filter only bcc-ed email (but not email to the address or cc-ed to it), change the last bit to “” (without the quotes).

Don’t use secondarygmailaddress for anything else. If you have mail sent there, you’ll start getting those in your filtered mailbox, too.

no cars go

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:10 pm

I sold my car recently and my two bikes (road, fixed gear) over the last few weeks.

Selling my car is a bit strange, but I haven’t actually used it much for most of the time I’ve had it. Not having a bike, though, is weird. Since I left for college[1] there hasn’t been a period for more than about two weeks that I haven’t had a bike. First thing I did when I moved to California was buy a bike (a funny old Lemans Centurion road bike-> commuter conversion). I’ve had two or three bikes for much of the time I’ve lived here. Even when I went to Germany and Taiwan, I bought bikes pretty quickly. But here I am without a bike and without plans to buy one soon[2]. It’s strange indeed.

[1] and before college I owned a bike, too, but I never rode it.

[2] this has to do with a number of factors, nagging knee injury among them.

(But if you do want to see someone getting a bike, check out Scott’s drool-worthy new frame.)


announcing! june 2009 mixtape! (vol 32)

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:25 pm

Okay, it’s just preposterous to call this a June mixtape. But I have something planned for July already.

This is the 32nd mixtape I’ve done since I started these three years ago. It may be my last for a while. I might get one more in before I leave for SA. We’ll see.

You can download the zip file with the following:
1. mp3s of the songs
2. liner notes (pdf)
3. playlist files (iTunes txt file and an m3u file)

(for the iTunes file, simply import all the songs to your library and then go to File->library->import playlist and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the 2009june in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order).

Go ahead and check out the playlist (below) or the liner notes.

Adrian’s June 2009 mixtape (mediafire link)

If you like the artists or songs, I suggest supporting them by buying their music, going to a show, buying merchandise from them or at least telling other people about them.

The playlist:

  1. The National Wasp Nest
  2. Octopus Project Wet Gold
  3. Bombadil So Many Ways to Die
  4. Silver Scooter Goodbye
  5. Weezer I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams
  6. Grand Lake Concrete Blonde on Blonde
  7. Leo Kottke The Driving Year of the Nail
  8. Joe Pug A Thousand Men
  9. The Woodlands Until the Day Dims
  10. Two Sheds You (Live at KZSU)
  11. Gillian Welch Look at Me Miss Ohio
  12. Jeff Mangum My Dream Girl Don’t Exist
  13. Oh No! Oh My! I Have No Sister
  14. the Magnetic Fields All the Umbrellas of London
  15. The Album Leaf Over the Pond
  16. Mogwai Cody
  17. Unwed Sailor Ruby’s Wishes
  18. Riceboy Sleeps Boy 1904

beverage cap mishaps

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:11 pm

Two beverage cap mishaps:

  1. March 2002, Orangina bottle. Decided to follow the instructions to “shake well” despite forgetting that I’d removed the cap. Computer lab left sticky.
  2. July 2009, Coke Zero bottle. Tried to drink out of it despite the cap still being on. Knocked cap into teeth.



Filed under: — adrian @ 11:28 am

So, holy cow, I’m moving to South Africa, Cape Town to be exact. If we’ve talked recently I’ve probably already mentioned this to you, but I haven’t made it public on the internets till now because I wanted to make sure that things like work heard it from me before reading about it on the internet.

I will answer some of the questions that a lot of people ask.

I’m doing this because I want to. My parents are South African and every time we visit (8 times now) I’ve always wanted to live there, particularly in Cape Town. It’s something I’ve been seriously considering since September 2004 and now I’m doing it.

I don’t know how long I will stay. It might be as little as four months. It might be 1-2 years. I don’t think it’ll be five years.

We do still have family in SA. My aunt and uncle live in in Johannesburg. We also have a lot of family friends in Cape Town. I’ll be staying with one of my mom’s best friends while I get set up.

I don’t have a job lined up. I’ll be looking to work in engineering there. I will be going on an extended leave of absence from my current company.

No, I don’t speak Afrikaans and nor do the majority of South Africans, though there is a significant demographic group in Cape Town that does speak it. South Africa has 11 official languages now; most of daily transactions fall into English.

Yes, you can visit, though check plane fairs before you get set on the idea of going. It’s not cheap to get there (though it’s fairly cheap to stay there).

Yes, I’ll write about it here. I’ve also started a photo blog, in part to encourage myself to take photos regularly while I’m there.

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