Fargo’s top cop ready for Richmond

My cousin, Chris Magnus, on my mother’s side has recently been named Police Chief in one of the toughest cities in the U.S. As a long time native of the Bay Area (14 years) it feels pretty funny to know that a relative that I’ve only been around as a real youngster is now Police Chief in the East Bay not too far from where my boys live (although Richmond and Pleasanton, CA are as far away demographically and socialogically as you can get). I’d be impressed with anyone who’d take on a challenge like this but it makes me even happier to know that he’s part of my family. Good luck Chris and good on ‘ya Mate!

Excerpt From the San Francisco Chronicle

Fargo, N.D. — There has been only one slaying here this year. And it had none of the gory elements associated with the movie named for the town.

It happened when a man came upon a drunk urinating next to his parked pickup truck outside a bar. The man got into his truck and ran down the drunk, authorities said. He’s been charged with murder.
Chris Magnus, my cousin and new Richmond, California Policy Chief
Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus is proud that nothing worse has happened this year in his city of 91,000 people, which is considered one of the safest in the country. But soon the chief will leave this glacial Upper Midwestern town, where he’s been the top cop for six years, to head the police department in a city ranked among the nation’s most dangerous: Richmond.

And frankly, Magnus is tired of the comparison. Since he was hired in November, he has heard the snickering, read the critical articles, and seen the quizzical looks written on the faces of just about every Californian he meets.
Richmonod, CA and Fargo, ND
How is a 45-year-old white guy from Fargo, which averages one homicide every two years, going to take charge in a racially diverse town that so far this year has seen 38 killings, one of the highest per-capita rates in California?

“Some of the news coverage has smacked of — well, elitism is the wrong word — but certainly of, ‘What does Fargo have to offer a place like the Bay Area?’ ” Magnus said recently as he steered his car along the icy roads to the police station.

The youngest son of an art professor and a piano teacher, Magnus started as a police dispatcher in Lansing, went on to become a paramedic, and then became an officer. He earned a master’s in labor relations from Michigan State University while working as a captain in the force.

Full story here.

Bike ride Xmas Day ’05

Just went for my first Powerline mountain bike ride down my normal daylight off-road running ground. I wanted to see how far it was for my running and also see how quickly I could do it on my Mountain Bike. What I learned is that it is 6.1 miles round trip (not counting the first bit where I ride to Wellington Trace. I ended the route back at the house. You hit 4.8 miles when you reach the War Memorial on Forest Hill and 5 miles when you reach the street that you exit from the Publix. Took me 32 minutes today and the off road sand trail was a real work out!

A quick Florida Driver aside

My friend Eric and I love to swap stories about Florida drivers and we’ve swapped some tales that seem hard to believe. Just yesterday my appreciation for how bad the drivers are here in Florida was renewed once more. For those of you not familiar with the area let me just clarify that I’m not referring to our infamous ‘cotton tips,’ the old age drivers that go 25 in a 55 zone. I find those incidents to be very rare. What you DO see is people of all ages, race, and sex driving ALL kinds of vehicles doing the absolutely dumbest things you’ve ever seen on the road.
So, it’s with that introduction that I give you a minor but enjoyable Florida driving aside from yesterday.

My family and I were in our truck waiting in the Toys R Us parking lot line to exit on to a major local highway when we became stuck behind a lady in her SUV. Her car was stopped and she was looking down completely absorbed in reading something (looked like a receipt from her shopping). In any event, the cars ahead of her in line had cleared out even before we had arrived behind her. So, I’ve got my, it’s Christmas be patient hat on, since you know when you’re on the road at this time of year that everyone is stressed and there’s just no point in getting bothered.

My wife Shannon and I start making jokes about how long it will be before she wakes up and goes. Another car pulls up behind us in line. Then another. Then another. It’s not like five minutes have gone by, it’s just busy. So, I’m contemplating giving the horn a polite tap just so we don’t wait until Christmas is over but then she realizes what’s going on and jets off. She gets about 20 car lengths before she’s caught up with the line. No biggie, it is not like she was really holding anyone up. Well, it starts to get more Florida like from here out. She decides at the last minute that she doesn’t want to use the exit that she’s been waiting in line to use. OK. Instead she’ll go against traffic in the parking lot where two massive lines of exiting traffic are converging on the single exit that she’s now grown disenchanted with. It’s still not quite Florida class yet. The lady then becomes frustrated by the car in front of her because *they* haven’t quite been able to pull up far enough to let her by (now that’ she’s changed her mind about her exit strategy). So, she veers around the car aggressively and leans on her horn, not a little polite beep, but a YOU MOTHER FUCKER kind of beep, before speeding off in a rage punching the gas, and driving like a maniac. As the sound of the ladies horn is wafting off in her emissions I watch, I ponder, and Shannon and I share an incredulous look and pull up in line. There’s not much to say – we see shit like this here every day.

Christmas Card from Dad

Merry Christmas Shannon amd Julian,

Here is my Christmas card done on Bryce. I tried it in Aussie beach mode with sand and surfboard, but it just didn’t quite work.
Dad's 2005 Xmas Card made with Bryce
I was thinking maybe Christmas balls are born big and then grow smaller – so this is them growing down and getting socialized by being near evergreen trees. Works for me!

Again Merry Christmas


Apple iPod Shuffle 512MB and 1GB Review. I’ll save you any suspense, they’re toast!

I’m a long time gadget nut and have fallen back in love with Apple in the last few years after a ten year hiatus when they lost their mind. I’ve had a 15 inch PowerBook since March that I truly enjoy using despite some of its shortcomings so it was an obvious extension to go out and purchase an iPod. Apple iPod Shuffle I know, it’s supposed to happen the other way around according to the Apple business model but I love to be a rebel without a cause. I’ve used tons of Windows based MP3 players over the years. I lean towards the bleeding edge when I have the cash to support the habit and even owned one of the very first Sony Walkmans that I purchased in Asia en route from Australia to the U.S. When I arrived in the U.S. no one had seen one yet and when I returned to Australia where I was living at the time it was almost a year before any of them made it there. But, I digress. I’ve also used mini-disc players with good success (even for running where they are prone to skip). So, since I love to run I was a natural target for the Shuffle. Indeed everything was going to plan until this summer when I decided to expose my Shuffle to a bare chested mid-afternoon run. Not to get too graphic here but I’m the kind of guy that just doesn’t perspire a lot even when I’m going flat out in the boiling summer humidity that is so renowned here in South Florida. So, yes it was 90 degrees outside and my iPod shuffle was doing its best to bump and grind against my sweaty chest for the five mile run. Soon enough the unit was starting to flake out. Apple iPod home page with runnerIt started with not turning on properly and switching songs. Then, it would only play in random shuffle mode and not the ordered track mode. By the end of the run it was toast. The battery check light would come on but my PowerBook wouldn’t recognize it anymore and everything I tried produced the big fat zilch o, you’re a looser baby, so why don’t you kill me. I chalked it up to bad luck, a fluke, Apple would never make a product so useful, so clearly designed for people who would be using it for exercise and not design it to deal with a little sweat. Even the cheapest Windows-based MP3 players I’ve used have held up for years of abuse without incident. I just stopped using them because they were too large, ugly, and newer units had better functionality and ultimately a prettier and younger face, ahem.

So a few days later I’m running my same route, same weather, the 1GB iPod shuffle around my neck this time. Same thing happens half way through the run. This unit was almost brand new. Same symptoms, same point of failure. First, I was horrified, then aghast, then I got really pissed off. I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me! I know there’s some smart alec out there laughing at me right now and quoting the iPod owners manual where it specifically states that you cannot, under any circumstances expose your Shuffle to moisture. Hey, even if that’s true *I* don’t care. I haven’t had to read a portable music player manual since my dad bought me that Sony Walkman. Apple iPod home page with runnerCall me crazy but I just expect proven, electronic products with solid state memory to work like a mule in a Juan Valdez coffee commercial.

Oh yeah, you know where this is going, it does indeed get *even* better.

So, the first unit I toss in the trash because it’s beyond the 6 month warranty and hell, I only paid $100 for it. Wait, that’s a lot of money! But, away it went with the dump truck on a Tuesday morning. The 1GB unit was only a few months old and as you’ve heard had never been used with the sweaty chest before. This one was going back to the mother ship in Cupertino for a quick repair jaunt down Infinite Loop. OK, it was probably going to go back to some sweat shop(no pun intended) in China but I liked to imagine it going back to the Bay Area where I used to live. So, I diligently go through Apple’s site, figure out how to sign up for repair service and I’m thinking to myself, hey, it will cost less to fix this then buy a new one and all will be well. Then the Apple site tells me my unit is beyond warranty. I look at the info and Apple’s system has somehow assigned my serial number and purchase date from my original 512MB unit (the one out of warranty) to the very new 1GB unit. I’m looking at my beautiful PowerBook screen with its amazing resolution and deep colors in absolute shock. I KNOW that I registered both units, and I couldn’t have switched the serial numbers around because I purchased them months apart from each other. Further, it’s not like they were the same model. It would be kinda hard to confuse a 512MB and 1GB unit now wouldn’t it! But, all the same, Apple is convinced the 1GB unit was the first one I purchased and says I have to produce my receipt to get the unit serviced under warranty. All great except I rarely keep receipts for small purchases and this was no exception (yes, shame on me, won’t do that again). So, I’m stonewalled. Apple has completely screwed me. Not once, not twice, but yes, three times. Isn’t there an old saying about that?

I still love Apple and I still love my PowerBook but I won’t be buying any iPods in the near future and I’ll be the quintessential pissed off consumer who tells everyone he meets about my bad experience with my Apple iPod’s. It’s a real shame.

Oh yeah, what did I do as a replacement? Back in July of 2005 I had purchased a Cingular Audiovox SMT5600 Windows based Smart phone. Not everything about this phone or Mobile OS is SMART but it does have Windows Media Player. After installing an after-market 512MB Mini-SD memory card it had more than enough capacity for a run and the typical voice recording function I like to use when driving. It’s like a Motorola ROKR and a lot more. I highly recommend the phone which I’ll review here at a later time.

The moral of this sad tale? Don’t sweat your Shuffle baby and don’t expect Steve Jobs and Apple to come to the rescue if you do.

Addicted to WordPress! Argh!

I can’t seem to stop myself from trying to figure out how all the themes and plugins work for WordPress. I’ve completely forgotten the most important part…The content stupid!
Julian the Bozo
It’s 4:57AM and I still haven’t gone to bed. There’s something seriously wrong with this picture.