Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in review

The year is ending and I thought I'd sum it all up in a post.


Managed to visit these places during the year.

  • Amsterdam
  • London
  • Münich
  • St. Anton
  • Sweden
  • Palm Springs
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco (Finally got to go to Alcatraz)
  • Napa
  • Maui

Toys & Gadgets

Got the following new toys during the year.

  • BMW 335i car
  • BMW R1100R BMW motorcycle
  • Sony Ericsson K850i phone
  • Nokia N810i internet tablet
  • Two Lenovo T61p laptops (One for work and one for play)
  • Added another completely silent player for my media center for the bedroom
  • Got another IPod (This one a Nano)
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Microsoft XBox 360

Concerts & Shows

Actually managed to go to quite a few shows this year.

  • Coachella (Was sick the whole time)
  • Eddie Izzard
  • Guys & Dolls
  • Madonna
  • Coldplay
  • Above & Beyond
  • Deadmau5
  • Cirque Du Soleil Beatles Love
  • Armin van Buuren
  • London Beat
  • Foo Fighters
  • ZZ Top
  • Pagent of the Masters


Added 1852 songs, 109 movies and 2074 TV show episodes to the media center. Started listening to a bunch of lectures from The Teaching Company mostly about history, religion, science and philosophy. As always, read a bunch of books but I can't remember which without access to my book case.

Also integrated the Rockbox running IPods with my media center and with my car so I finally have a pretty sweet system for listening to music again wherever I am at.

Finally thoughts

It has generally been a great year. Also started the year single and ended it in a relationship. All in all I've had a really good 2008. Don't know what everybody is talking about that this was supposed to have been a bad year. If 2009 is as good as 2008 I should be so lucky!

Happy New Years Everybody!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Swedes, marriage and divorce

I have heard more than once that Swedes were supposed to have a really high divorce rate from Americans. This seemed odd to me from my personal experiences of my friends. In general, it has seemed to me that Americans are way more prone to be divorced than people in Sweden. However, it could just have been that the people I met tended to be divorced in the USA and not in Sweden so I decided to look it up.

I already know that in the US the divorce rate is between 43% to 50% depending on how you count it because I researched that for another blog entry on gay marriage. I found the statistics on the Swedish data on this site about regional Swedish statistics. In Sweden the divorce rate varies a lot between around 15% to almost 30%. The national average is 22.4% though. So in short if you get married in the USA you are about twice as likely to get divorced than you are in Sweden. This corresponds pretty well to my personal experience on this issue as well.

I think one of the main reasons for this difference is that in Sweden people tend to date a lot longer before they get married. I would say the average among my friends is somewhere around 7 years. And critically almost everybody have lived together for a few years before getting married. You just don't know that you can stand someone for the rest of your life until you have cohabited in my opinion. Also most people tend to change and grow a lot between the age of 20 to 30 and the chance of you wanting to spend your life with the same person when you are around 20 as when you are around 30 is pretty slim (I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it is by sense a certainty). After 30 I think most people have found out who they are and change a lot less than when you are younger. If you tend to date longer the chance of you getting married before you have finished growing (Personality wise, not physically) is smaller.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why are we even discussing bailing out the car industry?

By the time I post this the car industry bail out is probably already done. I don't understand why we are even discussing it. We're supposed to be living under a capitalist system aren't we? If the United States can't manufacture cars that people want to buy, why would we collectively keep paying companies to do it. I don't see any kind of "strategic homeland security" advantages to have a domestic car industry. And it isn't like there won't be any cars to buy, it's just that the country that makes them will not be American unless they can clean up their mess.

True there are a lot of people employed by the car industry but it isn't that many. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics around 850 thousand people are currently employed by the car and part manufacturing industry. There are also a little bit less than 2 million people involved in the retail and whole sale distribution of cars.

Granted if over 2.5 million people over night lost their work that would probably be truly catastrophic. However it is not that bad if you look closer. First of all, people would probably keep buying and repairing about the same amount of cars (People still use a lot of cars, just not American cars) which means that most of the 2 million people mentioned above will probably still be able to keep trading and repairing cars. Secondly the 850 thousand number includes US employees of non US car companies. Most of these companies are still doing fine and will not be affected. Thirdly, it isn't like all the US car companies will go defunct over night even in the worst case scenario so the immediate impact would be spread out over at least a few years. To put this in perspective we already lost over 500 thousand jobs in just the month of November here in the US also according to the same web site above.

I would argue that one of the biggest problems that the US car industry has to deal with is that a worker here costs almost 3 times as much as a Japanese car worked (And Japan is generally considered more expensive to live in than the US). Why not let the car companies go into chapter 11 bankruptcy and renegotiate their labor contracts and debt. Isn't that exactly what chapter 11 is created for. I have read somewhere that this would be very risky because car companies might not be able to get the bridge financing required to go through the restructuring process (If you can't do that you would be immediately forced into liquidation). However, if that is the case then by all means let the government guarantee that. This kind of financing is senior debt so it is what is repaid first if the restructuring fails and the company is liquidated so the government will almost certainly get it's money back.

If the government just hands over more money to the car industry now, none of the fundamental problems that the industry has would have been fixed and we would be right back to where we are now in another couple of years again. However if we do let the companies go into chapter 11 and they succeed in restructuring they might actually emerge as entities that are able to compete in the global market. And if they don't, why should we spend money trying to keep this dying industry alive any longer than necessary?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another successful Christmas party

Hosted another Christmas party. My fifth for those keeping track. It seems like everybody enjoyed themselves so I'm counting it as another great success. There were a few notable absences this year though which brings the total number of people who have attended every one of the parties down to 4 (Me, Magnus & Eriko and Doug Daniels).

It seems like my conditioning of my friends to drink Glögg is moving along nicely too. This year I bought 8 liters of it and I ran out ridiculously fast. Fortunately I had plenty of alternatives available when that occurred.

There are tons of photos taken of the event available in my photo album.

Thanks everybody who came and made it a great party and I'll hope to see you all when I get back from Sweden (If not sooner).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How you know you are addicted to gadgets

I managed to leave my phone at the doctors office this week and I realized after I got it back that while I still hadn't found it instead of freaking out that I lost my phone instead I started getting excited about which new one to get. That said I am very proud of myself I have for the first time ever managed to almost wait it out to get a new subsidized phone from my carrier (By the time I get home from Sweden I will be eligible). And I've only bought one unsubsidized one during those two years.

The annoying thing is that I still can't really find a phone I want to upgrade to. I'm hoping a sexy Android phone will be out on AT&T by the time I get back, but I'm not holding my breath. Or if a really good follow up to the one I have now (A Sony Ericsson K850i).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A fare weekend

Have had a really nice lazy Thanksgiving weekend. My boss gave me an extra day and a half off for our team finishing up a release last week so I've been off almost all week. Haven't really done anything and it's been great. I've used this opportunity to really enjoy the last weekend I will have by myself before the beginning of February. Next weekend I'm having my annual Christmas party and then I'm heading home to Sweden for Christmas again.

That said, I did manage to do a little bit though. I was invited to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at two friends of mines Bill & Mary's house. That was great.

On Saturday I went to a gun show. I've never been to one, and a friend of mine had a booth there. Not really my kind of scene although I did end up buying a really cool lighter. My dad would have loved it though. Also had lunch with a friend from growing up Anders Svärd who I haven't seen in probably 20 years. Turns out he had been in Long Beach a lot for work this year and will probably be next year too. It was great seeing him again.

Today I went to the SWEA OC's Christmas fare. Saw my first "Lucia Tåg" (Roughly translated Lucia Procession) for a couple of years, that was great. Also stocked up on about 9 liters of glögg for my Christmas party.

Also today I went through my email archives and dug up my postings I made to my friends at home about moving here before I started the blog and posted them here. If you look in the history all the posts from 2004 are new as of today. Some of them are quite long since the length of my posting here has pretty much gone down as I've gotten more and more of a life over here.

Why is Laguna Beach so unfriendly to pedestrians?

Laguna Beach is fairly unique in the Los Angeles area in that you can walk pretty much everywhere in town. At least if you live in the downtown area as I do. I've also always liked to stroll around (I've never even owned a car until I moved to California a few years ago). What I don't understand is why the city doesn't do more to actually encourage people to walk. It's fairly obvious to anybody who looks that city planning only considers pedestrians as an afterthought to car traffic.

Why don't the traffic lights always turn green for people who walk as well as for the cars. You always need to press the button and you need to press it before the light would have turned green or otherwise you need to wait until the next cycle. Furthermore, why isn't it green for the entire time it is green for the cars going in that direction (Not counting explicit turn signals of course)? Currently you are only allowed to walk for a few seconds as the light turns green in one direction while the cars gets to go for a lot longer. I know people will say that this will congest traffic too much to which I have to say that if they can do it in downtown San Francisco and New York they can do it here too.

Second issue is that we don't have enough crosswalks. If you look at the picture on the right, the red markers indicates obvious crosswalks that are missing. Just in the small section of downtown shown in the picture there are over 10 missing crosswalks. If you then consider that in connection with that the lights are almost never green it can take a lot of extra time to get where you are going since you are forced to cross the street twice instead of one.

Finally you have sidewalks which are missing almost everywhere. Especially heavy trafficked streets like Cyprus Drive feel very dangerous to walk on even during the day. At night it verges on being suicidal to walk them. Not even South Coast Highway have sidewalks on both sides of the street around the area of Upland Road and there are no crosswalks to cross the street anywhere close to where the sidewalk ends. Also in intersections people turning right in cars never ever look right before turning to see if anybody is crossing the street on foot. I don't know how many times I've heard screeching car tires as people finally notice me 5 feet from their front bumpers and since there are no sidewalks I have nowhere to jump out of the way.

I have several friends around town (and I am sure they aren't the only ones) who regularly use cars to drive just a few blocks up or down PCH. Perhaps if we make it easier to walk they could be persuaded to walk instead. This would ease parking and in these days of global warming lead to less green house gasses too. Every little bit helps.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The case for universal health care

I'm a huge believer in capitalism and "the market". However when it comes to health care I've realized that it simply doesn't work. At least not in the form we have it here in the United States. The reason why it doesn't work here is that in order for capitalism to work there has to be a way to actually shop around. Health care is a bad fit for the market because of several reasons.

  • Health care is usually a necessity. It is only in unusual cases that you can choose whether you want to get medicine or have a procedure done.
  • It is hard to even get a price list when you go to a doctor. And if you start asking about prices of what a blood test or other "bundled" services it gets even harder. How are you supposed to shop around to find the best price performance if you can't even know what the price is before you have done something.
  • In a lot of cases the person that makes purchasing decision is not the same as the person that is footing the bill. In a lot of cases your doctor is the one who decides which medication you are supposed to take even though you are the one who is paying for it.

All in all these all sums up to the simple fact that letting the market handling health care is a really bad fit. And if you look at the current state of health care here in the USA it is also fairly obvious. First of all the US spends way more money on health care than anybody else. According to a World Health Organization report in 2000 the US spent 13.7% of GDP on health care in 1997. The second country in the study is Germany which spend 10.5% of GDP. Most of 1st world countries seem to spent somewhere between 6% and 10% of GDP. The difference between all those countries and the USA is that everybody else has universal health care and somehow here we succeed in paying way more than everybody else and yet not have it.

Even if you just count government spending on health care the USA ends up around the middle of the pack of the first world countries (This according to an article in The Economist from a few years ago). And again everyone else have universal health care and here we don't. The same article also made the point that one of the reasons that the USA manages to pay so much and get so little out of it is that in effect the USA is paying the development costs of new treatments and technology for the rest of the world. The question is if we think it is worth it?

Interestingly enough the system we have right now doesn't even work for people who are well off in all cases. For instance a friend of mine who work in the tech industry and which I assume makes a pretty decent living recently got laid off. It didn't take long for him to find a new job and he was back on track. However during the time without a job he lost his health insurance and when he got his new job he had a preexisting condition. So now, he can not get new health insurance that will cover the preexisting condition he had so he is completely screwed. It is through him that I have learned a lot about trying to use health services in this country without health insurance.

One thing I hear often from friends who are against "socialized medicine" (The phrase preferred by people against universal health care) is that they can afford great health care and don't want to be forced to be accept a lowering of the standard of their health care. However that doesn't have to be the case. I would propose the government would provide a minimum level of health care and if you want better care you can still get health insurance and get better care. This is how it works in Sweden (The only other country have a pretty intimate knowledge of) and I think it that is actually a great system.

Then of course the thing I keep hearing is that we can't afford it. I would like to make the argument that we can't keep going like we are now. We are already paying way more than anybody else and we are getting less (The WHO report above ranked the overall performance of our health care system at 37th and at 72nd of overall health out of 191 countries in the study. Basically, we are one of the worst country of the industrialized world when it comes to health care). Given the amount of money we spend on health care we should be able to figure out a way to get universal health care without spending any more money than we already are. Even if the universal health care we get is crappy at first (Which is then improved by health insurance by those who can afford it) it would still be a great first step.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Took the bike up to San Francisco for the weekend

I went to San Francisco for the weekend on the bike. In retrospect I would have to admit that it was a little bit too far in too short of a time. The way up took around 7 hours of driving and the drive back took around 8 hours. To sum it all up, next time I'm taking a flight instead.

I stayed at a fairly new friend Kris who has a condo right smack in the middle of downtown San Francisco. I've already done most of the tourist things in San Francisco so this time I basically just hung out and partied. I don't know how many times during the weekend I got the question. "Do you live in the city?". For the uninitiated "The City" refers to San Francisco (It's funny, because New Yorkers have a very different idea on what "The City" refers to as far as I remember). In the end I just replied that I lived in "a city", but somehow most were unsatisfied with that answer.

In general I have to admit that I really like San Francisco. I can totally see myself living there in case I for some reason would have to had to leave Laguna Beach (I think there probably are a lot more jobs in my field up there than there are down here in case I would want to change work). This is in stark contrast to Los Angeles where I can never see myself moving to even though it is a lot closer to where I am now (For the confused of you reading this from back home even though where I live is technically part the greater LA area it is very different from actual Los Angeles).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gay marriage by the numbers

During the whole "prop 8 hoopla" here in California I've heard a lot of seemingly wrong numbers to justify either position and I just thought I'd go through a couple of the numbers and go through where they come from (If I have been able to figure it out) and which are obviously wrong.

Gay marriages only last an average of 18 months

This is the biggest most obvious lie. As far as I could track it down this data comes from a Study performed in Holland. The study was on the relationships of HIV positive homosexuals and refers to their average relationship length. There are two obvious distortions here. First of all if you start out with a sample of HIV positives you will probably end up with a selection that is more promiscuous that the average. Secondly, it refers to relationship length. It has nothing to do with marriage length. Taking that into account I would have to say 18 months is actually pretty good. The fact is that since gay marriage is such a new occurrence there really isn't anywhere in the world where it has been around for long enough time to get statistics on this.

The divorce rate in the USA is 60%

This number is too high as far as I have been able to find it. The US Census Bureau has data on this and also the National Center for Health Statistics makes projections on the data. Depending on how you measure it they give estimates somewhere between 43% and 50%. The National Center for Health Statistics estimate found that 43% of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. The 50% estimate is based on just measuring the number of marriages and divorces for each year and dividing the two.

Gay people don't have enduring relationships

There have been tons of studies on this which indicate that between 40% and 80% (With lesbian women being slightly better at this than gay men) of interviewees at any given point are in a stable relationship. According to the information I've found it seems that this corresponds pretty well to the statistics of heterosexual people as well.

When gay marriage is allowed less heterosexuals tend to get married

This is the weirdest one and I have to say I have simply found nothing to back this up or debunk it (I'm guessing it is just so off the wall that nobody who actually does studies like this has found it worthwhile to investigate). I can sort of guess that it refers to the increasing tendency in certain parts of Europe for people to not get married even though a couple live together and have children. This was a tendency that started long before gay marriage has been allowed (For instance it is very common in Sweden and they don't have legal gay marriage yet). I know several of these couples at home and I usually the reason I hear for it is that the people involved in them just feel that marriage is just a piece of paper so why would they bother. I have never heard anybody use the reason that if gay people can get married they don't want it.

Domestic partnership is the same as marriage

This obviously varies from state to state but here are the major differences int the state of California as far as I've figured it out.

  • The biggest area of inequality was in regards to employment benefits for spouses. Many employers refused to offer same-sex couples the same health insurance benefits as married couples.
  • It is a lot easier to dissolve a domestic partnership than a marriage. Specifically to dissolve a marriage at least on of the two people involved need to have been living in California for at least 6 months.
  • You don't need witnesses to create a domestic partnership (You do to form a marriage).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fantastic weekend weather

Today was a completely fabulous day in Southern California. Clear blue skies and temperatures around 25C to 30C. It was almost like a regular summer day.

I went out inline skating and was met by a completely disgusting view as i went from Newport Beach to Huntington Beach though. There was almost like a wall of dark gray/brown smog laying over the landscape. I have seen the smog here before, but never as bad as this looked like. Unfortunately I had no camera to take a picture of it with me. It probably isn't all smog though, a lot of it is probably coming from one of the fires inland from here. It looked really strange on the beach because with the brown colored sky you could hardly see where the ocean ended and the beach started because they were both the same color.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spent an hour rewiring my main server

I've had tons of raid failures in my main server the last couple of months (All in all 6 disks I think that have failed fairly recently). I yesterday realized that perhaps the problem was the way I had run the wires inside the box. Once I opened it I realized I had squeezed the SATA wired together with power cables that had pretty high amps (After all they were powering 17 disks and a bunch of fans). What basically happened was that with alarming regularity I hat the drives time out and just completely lock up until I rebooted (Causing them to have been failed from the RAID by that time). Then after a reboot they usually worked fine for a a couple of days until it happened again.

It was also fairly obvious that certain hotswap slots were more prone to fail in this way than others. So basically now I have rewired the box so that the power cables go over the top of the fans in the middle of the box and the SATA cables go below it and so far it seems to work out fine. For the first time in ages I am running with completely synced raids in all my servers.

[pallas]$ cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid6]
md0 : active raid6 sda1[0] sdg1[15] sdm1[14] sdo1[13] sdp1[12] sdl1[11] sdk1[10] sdj1[9]
                   sdi1[8] sdh1[7] sdn1[6] sdf1[5] sde1[4] sdd1[3] sdc1[2] sdb1[1]
      6837375104 blocks level 6, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [16/16] [UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU]

unused devices: 
[cadiz]$ cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid6]
md0 : active raid6 sdp1[6] hdc1[0] sdq1[22] sdr1[21] sdo1[20] sdn1[19] sdm1[18] sdl1[17]
                   sdk1[16] sdj1[15] sdt1[14] sdi1[13] sde1[12] sdf1[11] sdg1[10] sdh1[9]
                   sdd1[8] sdc1[7] sds1[5] sdu1[4] sdb1[3] sda1[2] hda1[1]
      5128113984 blocks level 6, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [23/23] [UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU]

unused devices: 
[valdez]$ cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid6]
md1 : active raid6 hda2[0] sda2[9] sdc2[8] sdb2[7] sdd2[6] sdh2[5] sde2[4] sdf2[3] sdg2[2]
      1789768704 blocks level 6, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [10/10] [UUUUUUUUUU]

md0 : active raid6 sdg1[0] sda1[6] sdc1[5] sdb1[4] sdd1[3] sdh1[2] sdf1[1]
      102373440 blocks level 6, 64k chunk, algorithm 2 [7/7] [UUUUUUU]

unused devices: 

I leave it up to the reader to figure out the total size of that read from that readout. Running with degraded raids is one of the few things that can really stress me out because I know if I lost the stuff I have on those servers it would be impossible to replace.

To end with a quote (This time by myself): Peace of mind is a synced raid

Free trade and why government should subsidize education

If you know me you probably know that you would find few stauncher proponents of free trade than me. Basically if you would ask me if any country should remove a barrier for the movement of any kind of commodity the answer will always be yes. This includes raw materials, products, people and money. If someone said that the US would unilaterally remove all trade barriers tomorrow and allow everybody who wanted to migrate here do so my response would be that it's about time. You still need to keep customs around because stuff that is actually illegal here should still be kept out regardless of if it is baby killing formula, drugs or criminals.

If you read economic theory about free trade it will almost always lead to an increased economy. The beauty of having a growing economy is that even though there are winners there doesn't need to be losers (Since what happens is that instead of someone getting a bigger slice of the pie the pie actually gets bigger). The reason that I do not fear free trade is that I feel comfortable that I myself don't really have a problem to compete with anybody doing what I do no matter where in the world they live. If I was working in a job where little training was needed like for instance in a call center or flipping burgers at McDonald's I should probably be worried because there is most likely going to be someone around from a lower wage country that would do it cheaper than you want to.

Usually what happens when you open up trade is that you get to specialize on what you are good at. So basically if you are a country that keep people well educated that means that instead of having a bunch of people working low level tech support or the aforementioned call centers they can be senior tech support or managers. The jobs requiring little training will still need to be done but instead of wasting your countries labor force on that you can have others handle that for you and you instead can export the know how of higher level jobs. The country providing the "low wage" work force will also gain from this because they will be able to take advantage of know how not available to them domestically.

Here is where education comes in. Even though both countries involved above gain you probably want to be the one providing the high level services. The way to become that one is to make sure that you have a well educated population. How do you get that? You make sure that nobody is denied going as far as they can in the education system regardless of their economic situation. This is definitely not the case here in the US. Even though there are a lot of scholarships and stuff available a college education is not something that is available to anybody who could pass it.

I'm not saying that we should keep everybody in school until after college. You still need to keep entrance standards and make sure that you don't let too many people in that will probably not graduate. All I'm saying is that we should let everybody who could pass college do it regardless of if they have the economic means to do it or not. Even if this means that we as a society have to pay for this in the short term it is something that will be paid back many times over counting over the life time of the person even if you just count the increased income that the extra education will generate (Higher pay will lead to higher taxes).

One thing you need to be careful about though is to not make it too cheap. Taking Sweden as an example where education is basically free all the up through post grad (You also get a monthly stipend to live on). The problem with that is that I know a bunch of people who just go to school because they don't have anything better to do (Or they don't feel like working). You should need to pay at least a little so you make sure that there is at least a little bit of thought going into the choice of education as a way of gaining an occupation instead of just personal growth. One example would be to make the college free, but not providing the stipend. This would still make college something that takes a little bit of investment, but it probably would not be out of reach of someone who really wanted it.

Higher education means that everybody are better suited in an increasingly global society (It's coming regardless of if we want it or not). Also over the long term this will make us money because people will get increased wages (And keep in mind that you would no longer need to save for your children s college fund anymore or at least nowhere near as much). There are also other savings coming from the fact well educated people with good paying jobs are probably less likely become criminals, end up on well fare or otherwise end up being a burden on society. And finally there is also the individual gain of people with high education usually having more oportunities available to them and hopefully being able to lead more rewarding lives.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saw a Madonna concert in San Diego

Went and saw Madonna live in San Diego. Even though I have to admit I was a bit skeptical going there it was completely awesome. One of the best concerts I've seen in some time.

Also kind of funny was that a couple of minutes before the concert started word spread that Obama had won the presidential election and as people were waiting for the concert to start there was random chants of Obama and "Yes We Can" going on around the stadium.

Madonna also performed the last couple of songs wearing an Obama shirt with the text "Express Yourself" and at one point took a break and talked about how happy she was with the election (With every monitor in the back showing a picture of Obama.

All in all a pretty fun way to experience the end of this election season.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Went to Las Vegas for Halloween

Took the bike and drove up to Las Vegas this weekend for Halloween. It was pretty much insane. My "favorite" costume must have been the girl dressed as Roller Girl who wore roller skates, really short cut off jeans and nothing else. Just strolling through the Mirrage Casino topless, got to love Vegas.

On Saturday I went on a really cool house/trance party with Armin van Buuren and Deadmau5 among the DJ:s playing. It was really good although I have to admit after aorund 4 or 5 in the morning my memory starts getting a bit blurry. Still managed to get up at 10 in the morning, had brunch with Dawn who just happened to have flown in for work and was on my way back to Laguna Beach before noon.

Did end up taking a 3 hour "nap" the moment I got home though so missed sleep finally caught up with me then.

I have some pictures of the ordeal put up here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Government and marriage

Here in California one of the propositions (Same as a referendum, something they have tons of here in the USA) that is generating the most discussion is Proposition 8. This is a proposition to ban gay marriage. It gets confusing since if you are for gay marriage you should vote no to proposition 8 (Since gay marriage is already legal in the state of California). I've discussed this quite a lot with some friends around here and the more I think of it the more I think that marriage simply shouldn't be anything that government should care about at all.

Why not simply have government not care at all whether you are married or not. Instead of having a bunch of laws that change how you are taxed, what kind of benefits you can use when married and what happens when you dissolve it why not make the marriage itself simply be a contract you sign in the same as if you were forming a business venture with someone. This contract would simply relate how to resolve conflicts during the marriage (And specifically when you want to dissolve the partnership and get a divorce).

In regards to the benefits you get today, instead of having them being tied to being married make them tied to the actual situation that you want to help out with. Examples of this would be to increase subsidies for having children or giving tax breaks when people share a place to live. Religions would still get to decide whatever they want to endorse as calling a marriage, but whether or not the marriage is sponsored by your religion of choice wouldn't in any way influence what the government treats you.

I'll just go through some arguments I've heard against it. First of all the obvious that this would make more people get a divorce. My answer to that is that if the only reason a couple doesn't get a divorce is that they can't deal with the paperwork they probably should have gotten a divorce regardless.

Another argument against it is that if you allow gay marriage, what's next polygamy? I have to say that as long as it is amongst consenting adults I have no problem with that either. The only unions I have problems with are the ones where one of the participants are not consenting adults (Children are out) or if there are medical reasons (So no brothers and sisters).

Finally I've heard the reason that it is hard for parents to explain to their children why some of their class mates have two fathers or two mothers. My only comment to this is that this is a problem they already have regardless of if gay marriage is legal or not. Gay people will not stop being gay just because they can or can't get married. If that was the case there wouldn't have been any gay people until the last couple of years and even now in very few places in the world.

Off course all of this is just a pipe dream and it will never get to pass sine the norm is still that people get married and why would a privileged majority ever give up privileges they already have in a democracy. It is unfortunately not the way the world works.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Went to Love Ride 25th Aniversary

I've been to the Love Ride up in Pomona which as far as I've understood is the biggest motorcycle gathering in California.

I went with Helena, a fellow Swede who also drives a motorcycle (Off course she fit in better since she has a Harley)

There were a lot of really nice bikes. Mostly Harley's or even bigger bikes, some to the point of being completely ridiculous.

I also saw Foo Fighters and ZZ Top who were playing at the even. Really nice to spend a day in around 30C (90F) temperature even though it is almost November. Gotta love the weather of this place.

I have some more pictures of the event over here.

Pumpkin Carving

I just carved my first pumpkin in preparation for Halloween. The one in the picture on the right is the end result of my endeavors. I took some more pictures of the even which took place at my friend Eric's place (A local artist).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm bringing back big arms tradition again

Basically, this was something that me and Madelene Olsson started doing back in the day (Somewhere around 2001 I think). The original idea stems from a bit by the comedian Eddie Izzard called Big Arms (It's at the end of the clip). Basically the tradition was that whenever you travel anywhere you take a picture of yourself in a big arms pose.

To start it off I figured I would post the big arms pictures I have so far in my photo album. Whenever I go traveling somewhere where I haven't taken a picture at before I'll post it here.

Big arms at the McDonald homestead in Scottland

Big arms at the beach in Scottland
(Seriously, the one we have in California is a lot better)

Big arms parachute jumping

Big arms inline skating with the gang

Big arms sailing in the Swedish archipelago

Madde with big arms at Picadilly Square in London

Under a mangrove tree (That is all one tree) in Lahaina, Maui

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Started a work related blog

Started a blog for just work related stuff. It's at if someone is interested. I moved some recent postings from this blog to there. I figured the work stuff might be interesting for some users of Toad, but these people will probably not care where I go on vacation and other stuff I put here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good site if you still don't know who to vote for

The Electoral Compass seems like a really good site for the one who has still not made up his or her mind in regards to the US election coming up soon. Basically it will ask your position on about 40 questions and then plot how well your views correspond with the current candidates. It was pretty spot on with my own opinions of the current election at least so hopefully it could be helpful.

Random updates for the last year and a half

Ok, since it has been way too long since my last update on what I've been up to so here goes.

  • Going home for Christmas for 6 weeks is now a tradition. This Christmas will be the third year.
  • Went to Costa Rica about a year ago to visit a friend. He's now moved on to Panama so I guess that is another trip I need to do. Here are some pictures.
  • Went skiing in St Anton last winter with Stefan. Here are some pictures.
  • Bought a new car. This time it is a BMW 335i.
  • Spent New Years in Amsterdam with Joe and Nicole. Here are some pictures.
  • Went to Coachella (Big music festival near Palm Springs) but was sick the entire time so that was not a pleasant experience.
  • Went to Seattle a couple of times to visit Microsoft for a new project. The project itself was a little bit of a mess (We were developing an add-on against a non stable beta Microsoft release) and I've now managed to get off it.
  • Went on a Napa trip. Here are some pictures.
  • Have had visits from John, Henrik Johansson, Anna-Karin and off course my parents.
  • Got a motorcycle license and then a bike (A BMW R1100R). Also went on a motorcycle trip through San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley and Las Vegas. Here are some pictures.
  • Went to Maui with my parents. Really cool place. Here are some pictures.

That's pretty much the highlights of the last year and a half.

Switched to a new blogging software

I've switched the blogging software to Blogger. I've just completed the integration into my original homepage (Including the homepage news section) which was a bit tricky.

If you are subscribing to any feeds there is a new URL The new feed is Atom instead of RSS by default, but there is an RSS feed available as well.

One good news in this change is that I've enabled commenting again because hopefully with Blogger they will worry about the problem of spamming in comments and it's not something that I have to deal with myself as much as before.

Finally posting new stories on Blogger is a lot easier than with my old software (Where the only way of posting anything was to write it in HTML) so hopefully I'll be posting more often than before.

I've also tweaked the photos section so that it doesn't use SSL and thus will not give you a weird invalid certificate error message whenever you look at something. The SSL version is still available, but now a none secure version at is also available.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Swedish coverage of the American Election

It's been interesting following how Swedish news portrays the USA election compared to here in the USA. Even though here in the USA there has been a lot of stuff being thrown around in regards weird allegations and other miss information. In Sweden it seems like that is the only stuff being reported.

It's also very annoying to see everything being so ridiculously tilted towards one candidate. When I read news I tend to prefer it when it is as unbiased as possible. It's very hard to find any article at all in Swedish newspapers that says anything positive about McCain the last couple of months. For instance I read this article, now the article isn't that bad (It is about the Irish Bookie calling the election early). But the picture that went with the picture was the one to the right here. For some reason Aftonbladet in their infinite wisdom saw that this pictures which makes McCain look like some kind of grabbing lizard was the right picture to accompany an article that was about an Irish bookie. It would make a better sense with a picture of the bookie (Which is what the US news agencies I've seen ran with).

Also reading the readers comments on these articles are scary. It seems like people think Obama is some sort of second coming. However, I seriously doubt that almost anybody in Sweden can recite accurately any specific policy that either candidate is promoting. One of the comments I read was that the economy in Sweden would probably be better if Obama won. I would highly doubt that myself since Obama is the one of the two candidates which is against free trade.

In full disclosure I am leaning towards Obama myself (Although since I'm not allowed to vote who cares) but it is not with any vehement conviction. The main thing that tilted me over to his side actually is the running mate of McCain who frankly scares me. It's not because I'm sexist (I had very little against Clinton except she seemed a little too calculating). It's just that Palin seems like an idiot talking head and I don't want people like that to lead regardless of their gender.