Howard's Blog

This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Family Wiki

It's during the holidays when I consider a "family" wiki. Imagine a wiki-pedia-like entries where family members can write different aspects of the family. An "entry" can be about a family member, an event, things (such as heirlooms, houses, etc.).

I think about the family history we have in our heads, grandparents, cousins, and long-forgotten relatives. Every family has some history... I think ours could be very interesting. Imagine the content that could be collected over the years (pictures, stories, etc.). We can look back and remember vacations, recall things about a relative we never knew directly. Also, the activities surrounding the writing and editing of entries can be good for the family as well.
|| hcpark, 9:43 PM || link || (0) comments |

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Montecito Tea Fire, healing and moving on

I drove to Montecito tonight. I've started playing music at the church we have been attending and tonight was the scheduled rehearsal. I had driven by on HWY-101 several times since the fire, but this was the first time to actually go into Montecito.

The smell of smoke was still in the air. Several signs of "Thank You Firefighters", some big and elaborate, some small and modest, were hanging from fences and between trees.

This is how close the fires got to the church.

The adjacent diagram tells the story from a different perspective. Here is an excerpt from the official "loss of property" from the Santa Barbara county. The burn area just touches the corner of the church.

We are new to the area, so we don't know too many people. But this part of the "Central Coast" has a strong sense of community. People wave at each other on the streets. On the radio, they were naming some of the folks who has lost homes or suffered injury. Turns out that one of the injured is a friend of the DJs.

We don't know anyone who suffered any loss, but we are one degree of separation from several who have lost their homes. And now the healing begins. FEMA is here. Spots on the radio mention insurance teams with 24-hour call numbers. Calls and emails for extra clothes, books, beds, cars, rooms, trucks, and other items are making their rounds.
|| hcpark, 11:07 PM || link || (1) comments |

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tea Fire, and where we live

Some more info on the fire, and the general geography around where we live.

Here is a map that shows the area, the evacuation zones, road closures, and some celebrity homes. Thanks to google-mashup!

View Larger Map

The area of CA around here is part of the "Central Coast". As you travel on north HWY101 (known as Ventura Freeway in LA), you pass thru out of LA County, thru Ventura County, then hit Santa Barbara County. The first city in Santa Barbara County is Carpinteria (where we live). This is the string of cities south to north (or really from east to west):
As you can see, the ocean is to the south of this area, so as you hear directions, please keep in mind that "from the hills" is "from the north".

We are about 5-10 miles or so from the fires. The winds were not blowing in our direction, so we didn't even smell the smoke, until about an hour ago.
|| hcpark, 11:57 AM || link || (0) comments |

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tea Fire in Montecito / Santa Barbara

Tonight, I was coming back from dinner in Carpinteria. On the way back to Cate School, I saw a car come to a stop sign and wait a bit longer than normal. When I got to the stop sign at this intersection, I looked around and saw a fire in the hills.

View Larger Map

The "Tea Fire". Still going on. Several hundred acres, centered around LotusLand, Montecito Covenant Church, and Westmont College.

Here are some views of the fire:

This is from our porch, around 730PM:

About 840PM, from the Sunset Bench, north end of Long House:
|| hcpark, 11:07 PM || link || (1) comments |

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

things you can buy on amazon

Don't ask me how I got to this page, but you can buy a UFO Detector on

But don't waste your money on this one; there's a newer, better model. It does look fancier, but I'll leave it to the experts to tell me if it works better.

Actual quotes from reviews:
"I purchased this item and am blown away by its effectiveness."

"Anyone serious about UFO hunting and exploration. needs this for their kit."

" Sure enough, one of those b*stards was right in my living room!"

Oh yea, this reminds me. I should edit my Amazon browsing history.
|| hcpark, 11:07 PM || link || (0) comments |

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Game Theory and the Five-Year Old

When I am not traveling, I usually bathe our kids. We have to decide who "goes" first, i.e., gets the first bath. For some reason, it is more desirable to be the second one to be bathed. Not sure why, but I suspect that it has to do with the incorrect perception that bathing second gives you more "play time". I think I would rather bathe in the clean water and thus go first, but I am not a three or five year old.

To decide who goes first, I play "ga-ee, ba-ee, bo", or rock-paper-scissors with my five year old. Actually, we play a modified version with rock-paper-pencil... I think I offered "pencil" instead of "bazooka" or whatever ordnance he originally threw in as a mod.

He asks me "what's your strategy?", to which I respond, "what's YOUR strategy?". He answers back with a smile, "my strategy is for YOU to tell me YOUR strategy". It makes me smile each time. He's so open that he actually tells me exactly what he wants. Then I go with one of two scripts:

Me: "My strategy is to tell you a strategy, then forget that strategy."

Me: "My strategy is to do paper, but if you know that I'm doing paper, you'll do pencil. Then I should do rock, but if I do rock, you'll do paper...", etc. I do this until we both get lost.
|| hcpark, 9:56 PM || link || (2) comments |

Friday, September 26, 2008

CD Rate chat w/ my bank

Current Transcript of the Chat Session

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with Michael T.. Welcome to Bank of America. How can I help you complete your online checking or savings application today?

Michael T.: Welcome to Bank of America! I’m Michael, and I’m here to assist you with finding the account that best fits your needs. How may I assist you today?

You: Hi, just checking for CD rates and terms. I bet lots of folks are asking about this... any "economy meltdown promos" today?

Michael T.: Thanks for choosing Bank of America for your financial needs!
Michael T.: I’d be delighted to send the link for our CD rates and terms!
Michael T.: Please click here!

You: this seems to be a list of checking options

Michael T.: I sincerely apologize. The rates are not available online in your state.

You: is there a list of rates and terms?
You: uh... how can I find out about what is available?
You: can you look them up?

Michael T.: I can look up the information for you. If I may ask, how much are you looking to invest in your CD account?

You: Like these other banks:

Michael T.: How much are you looking to invest in your CD account?

You: about ##K - ##K, maybe up to ##K, depending on terms
You: mostly interested in 9M to 2Yrs
Michael T.: Great! The best rate available is our 12 month CD. It is currently at 2.96%.
You: anything higher if I go ##K and 2 years?

Michael T.: This is the best available for the terms and balances in the CD you have requested.

You: ok, thanks

Michael T.: You're welcome!

Santa Barbara Bank and Trust is doing 5% for 1000 minimum. JPMChase (congrats on picking up WaMu and welcome to the West Coast!) is doing 2-3% for "normal levels" and 3-4% for 7-48 months. To get 4.75% you have to do 84 months. Eight-Four Months? That's sometime in 2015.
|| hcpark, 11:33 AM || link || (0) comments |
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