Neil's News

Over the Wall

14 January 2011

Every six months or so I receive a letter at Google. You know, the kind made out of the carcass of a tree, with symbols stained onto its surface. Normally it's from lawyers. Occasionally it's the Church of Scientology or an Army recruiter, both of whom mysteriously acquired my work address within weeks of my arrival (Catspaw I presume?).

Yesterday I got one with a return address of San Quentin, California. That's a state prison just north of San Francisco. While waiting for the Google shuttles to pick us up in San Francisco we often see the San Quentin shuttles passing in the other direction. Their shuttles look a lot less comfortable. They have bars on the windows. And they probably don't have Wi-Fi.

The sender of the letter is on death row. He saw me on TV (regarding the Jeremy Marks case) and was writing for my help. Somewhat to my surprise he wasn't requesting funds, key blanks or shaped charges. Instead he wanted writing supplies, envelopes and stamps (all of which are now in the mail to him). But most of all, he wanted:

Can you please place deathrowinmate.org in your search engine to be found in your results pages as --- a grassroots anti-death penalty social network

I've seen many, many SEO requests in my time at Google. But this one is definitely unique. Since my personal blog has acquired considerable Google-juice, the above link should do the trick.


[Sidewalk of Broadway Tunnel] The Broadway Tunnel[?] is a few blocks from my house. It allows one to pass under the same hill that causes Lombard Street to become crooked[?].

Every time I walk through it I'm puzzled by the twin tracks down the sidewalk. Where a car has smashed into the railing the tracks veer around it, so they aren't an artifact of the floor panels. They appear to be skid marks, so it can't be a free-rolling vehicle like a stroller. They are too narrow to be an "assisted mobility vehicle". I've found no evidence of a tunnel-specific maintenance or cleaning vehicle.

It took a few years, but I eventually figured out the mundane origin of the tracks. I'll let you think about it over the weekend and post the culprit on Monday.

Update: Here are the cause of the tracks. These stolen vehicles have magnetically tripped locks on one of their front wheels. This causes the wheel to perpetually skid as they are pushed around town.

Speaking of stolen vehicles, someone tried and failed to cut through my bicycle lock's metal cable on Saturday. They got 20% of the way through before giving up.

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