No better time than now

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Best $159 I ever spent

I bought my first place in Mountain View in early 2002. It was not long after September 11th, 2001. The real estate market more or less froze after 9/11/2001. No one felt certain about the future. But I wanted to get into a house, or in my case, a townhouse. I found one in January and moved in a few weeks later.

In getting to know the shortcuts and access points to my neighborhood I ran across the Steven Creek Trail. It called for a bike. One of our engineering executives used to ride his bike to work everyday. He recommended that rather than start with an expensive bike that I go to The Cardinal on El Camino, across from Stanford, and buy a used one. Great idea.

The Cardinal is a long standing bike shop in Palo Alto. When I went in there were two very experienced guys working. I had no inking of what I wanted. We talked. We picked out a couple. I rode them around in the parking lot and chose the one which felt the best. Nothing fancy. One hundred and fifty-nine dollars.

That was eleven years and three houses ago. Still riding the same bike.

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Two for Two: “Citizenfour” and “Top Five”

For the past three years at the holidays I’ve made an effort to try to see a couple movies. A little change of pace for me. I’m glad that The Interview was released, but for me time is too precious to spend a couple of hours on that film.

First I saw “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’ film on Edward Snowden. Snowden contacted her in 2013. She filmed him in his hotel room in Hong Kong both before and while the story broke. I don’t see Snowden as either villain or hero. But what is clear from the film is that being a dutiful little whistle blower and working it through the system at the NSA or his local elected officials (as President Obama suggested that he should have done) would not have yielded results. Others in the NSA tried before him and they were intimated and ostracized. It is fascinating to watch Snowden planning the release of the data with Glenn Greenwald in that hotel room in Hong Kong over 8 days. He is articulate, polite, gracious, very knowledgeable. Likeable. He’s not a cowboy or a high fiver. Knows that he may well end up in prison. He appears genuine in his intent to reveal the extent to which the government is using millions of people’s personal data. I would not say that he has no ego – I think that some level of ego is needed to carry out a mission like his, but he’s not leading with his ego. In the film he says that for the government to be using this level personal data should be a matter of debate in our country. That’s correct. Is that debate taking place in the aftermath? I’m not certain that it is.

A couple of days later I saw Chris Rock’s “Top Five.” Rock has always struck me as a smart person. He knows what sells and he has delivered it. He can be darned funny to boot. So, I thought that I would see what Chris Rock is up to. From what I had read in recent interviews, I was concerned that he might be going down the Woody Allen path, throwing the baby (comedy) out with the bath water (wanting to direct real story which is more than cheap laughs). Good news – “Top Five” worked for me. It was funnier than I had expected, not a “Hannah and Her Sisters.” It’s a good story, if a bit “cute,” as in convenient, in a few places.There are some fun cameos, I won’t spoil the surprises. And Rosario Dawson is strong and beautiful. It’s good entertainment.

Next? I’m considering streaming “A Fish Called Wanda.” I’ve never seen it.