Paul's community website for city of Alameda residents is now open to the public!  Neighboring.com gathers all kinds of online information about Alameda so people can "meet the neighborhood."

The site allows people to browse and subscribe to information...

  • within a few blocks of their home (e.g. police & fire reports, real estate activity, and yard sales).
  • associated with businesses, places, and other organizations near them (e.g. mentions in local news/blogs, Facebook posts, and web reviews).
  • associated with local topics they care about (e.g. political issues, hobbies, kinds of businesses).
  • posted by their neighbors (e.g. items for sale, discussions, and comments).
The best way to learn more is to watch the video below.

The site is in "open beta," which means there's a lot more to come, but it's ready for users and their feedback.  If you live in Alameda, check it out!

The Red Cross just loves me. I have O-negative blood, which as you may know means I am a "universal donor" and my blood can be given to people of every blood type (and thus also in emergency cases where a person's blood type is not known).

But I also happen to be cytomegalovirus negative, which means I am one of an elite few (less than 1 in 100) who can donate to newborns.  I found the following quotation attributed to Wikipedia (although I can't currently find it on the site itself):

"A tiny percentage of adults may donate blood to small children in emergency rooms, newborn babies, and fetuses. To ensure the safety of blood transfusion to pediatric patients, including those in whom the immune systems are not fully developed, hospitals are taking every precaution to avoid infection and prefer to use specially tested pediatric blood units that are guaranteed negative for cytomegalovirus (CMV), because the consequences of CMV infection for newborns or low weight infants may be severe or even fatal.

Additionally, for pediatric patients with certain disorders or in emergency, when there is no time to perform crossmatching, only O/Rh negative blood can be used for neonatal transfusion. Due to these specific restrictions, to be recognized as a baby donor an adult must test negative for cytomegalovirus, and some blood collection agencies such as the Red Cross also require baby donors that they be blood type O-negative.

Since only 7% of US adults are O-negative and as few as 15% of adults do not carry CMV, only 1% of adults* may qualify as baby donors. Other restrictions (body weight, HIV status, vCJD, etc.) reduce the fraction of potential baby donors to less than 1 in 200. If an adult was not exposed to measles, mumps, rubella, or chicken pox, that amplifies the person’s status as a baby donor."

So once they ran the tests and discovered I was part of this group, I started getting phone calls every 56 days (the minimum time between donations) from the Red Cross saying how much they missed me.

I have tried even more so to give blood regularly since learning it's even more precious than I thought it was.  I just got a nifty little pin in the mail commemorating that I have now donated two gallons (wow).

I started regularly giving blood when I worked in Fremont and a co-worker dragged me along.  If you haven't ever tried donating or haven't done so for a while, consider doing so and bring a friend or co-worker!  I'm amazed how lonely the blood donation centers often are.

One trick I've learned is to be sure to drink a lot of liquids in the half-day before donating.  It makes a huge difference in my donation time.

I left my full-time software engineer position at Digital Chocolate a couple weeks ago to jump into the brave new world of consulting.  I plan to basically be doing the same work (web/server engineering, particularly Ruby on Rails or J2EE), but from home and possibly for fewer hours.  My main reasons for doing so are to greatly reduce/eliminate my commuting and have greater time flexibility (generally: more time with my family, and less in my car and at work).  I expect the ozone layer will breathe a sigh of relief... the gas and emissions added up even while driving a hybrid.  I'm also excited about the chance to work on some interesting new projects.

Since making the change I've been working on some of the minor consulting projects I previously took on, such as a major rework of my brother Peter's film review site, Groucho Reviews (which will be much more nifty once it re-launches).  This site should also get a much-needed revamp.  I've also been taking time off, and trying to give Ann a break.

I am beginning to evaluate new projects to take on in June or later. I'm currently only considering contract work that I can perform primarily at home, but that hasn't stopped a lot of recruiters from trying to change my mind.  If you're interested, feel free to read more about my consulting aspirations or career background.

Ann and I both started our graduate studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley in 1999.  Ann had completed two master's degrees (a Master's of Divinity and an MA in Biblical Languages) by 2003.  Last weekend I finally finished my Master of Theological Studies degree.

The Graduate Theological Union is a very cool place, being a consortium of nine Christian member schools.  Students generally affiliate with one school, but can cross-register at any of the others.  Ann was a student at the Jesuit School, while I opted for the Franciscan School of Theology.

Most people complete the MTS degree in two years, although most people also don't try to do it while working full-time as a software engineer, getting married, and having a baby.  There are some advantages and disadvantages to doing it this way.  Being able to focus on one class at a time (rather than juggling reading and assignments for up to four) is helpful.  However, by the time I got to the end, I was very ready to be done.  I not only outlasted many fellow students, but saw a lot of instructors and school staff members come and go.

I have posted my thesis here, although I hope to clean up the formatting some more when I have a chance.

We've put up a number of photos from our weddingright here, so check them out.