Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birthday blog

I don't usually write about personal/social events on here... but I turned 35 this Saturday. It was a wonderful time. I've wanted to try Mulvaney's restaurant for a while, so we made reservations for my birthday. I was happy friends could join. I think Mulvaney's has mostly small tables, but we managed to get a room that held ten (a weird trek through the kitchen to get there, but it was nice to have the privacy!).

What a meal! I had the seared line-caught Ahi. It was the tastiest piece of fish I've ever had... hands down. A couple other in our group had the pork chops, which I've heard are very good there. They gave us this interesting "shot" of what I'll just call 'spicy gravy' before our meal.... very tasty.

Of course, creme brulee for desert.


Okay, when we got the bill... it was about $75/person. Sure, I couldn't eat there every day, but it was a worthwhile and memorable dining experience.


We hit Streets of London afterward for some pints (just a short walk away).


So, I'm 35 now. Somehow birthdays divisible by 5 deserve being spendier, no? Thanks friends! Good times...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Catching the Pooper: Part 1

Alright... I love living downtown. It's very pedestrian friendly. I live a block away from a park, which means I'm on the dog-walk path for a lot of urbanites who have to walk their dog every day because they don't have big suburban yards.

I've reached the breaking point with the dog poop though. Something about the little strip of lawn in front of my house really screams "Shit on me" to doggies. I once caught a guy ditching his dog poop on my lawn (even worse, it was doggy diarrhea). I yelled at him "Hey, why don't you clean this up" & he embarrassingly scurried away. I started to discretely follow him... my intention being to find out where he lives so I could return his poop to his doorstep later. Unfortunately I was late to be somewhere, so had to abandon pursuit.

I've tried to ask nicely too. I put a sign out asking people to pick up their poop, with baggies attached. A week later, someone tore that down & I didn't notice any letup in the doggy-bombs. I keep an eye out for people walking dogs now. Some of them look sneaky, they'll cross the street if I'm out front. I intend to ask them "Hey, do you have a bag? Ok just checking". What could I do if I caught someone... report them? To who? I asked at a recent neigbhorhood association meeting when a police officer visited & I learned the city resident has no recourse for poop violators. The city code says it's prohibited, but there is no stated fine. Even worse... a police officer would need to witness the poop violation in person for any type of citing to occur.

Things haven't gotten better. Just see this photo of my lawn this morning - with poop highlighted.


So, I've taken it upon myself to identify & shame to poopers. It is a mission - a matter of principle. Fortunately, with a little technical know-how... the tools are readily available to make this happen:
  1. Webcam
    This afternoon, I dug out an old Logitech USB webcam I had in the back of a closet. I can prop this bad boy in a window for a clear view of the poop target zone.
  2. Monitoring software
    Every day, I find a new reason to love Ubuntu Linux. ZoneMinder is the latest reason. This free public license software can turn webcams into an advanced motion-activated security monitoring system. Very cool!

I've already tested out the equipment & software. It works great. All I'm waiting on now is the USB extension cable I ordered online. In a few days, poopers beware! Stay tuned for results of my mission...