Sunday, May 31, 2009

Worker Bee

At the beginning of my run today - oh, wait a minute I am writing about Saturday so I need to stick to tradition. First things first. I started the day at Costco, of course. But I have nothing much to tell you except I bought another Martha Stewart chicken slab pie since they are sooo yummy and we were down to our last pie (1/2 of a package). There weren't even any food samples yet when I went. I did get some nice looking raspberries and the strawberries, despite not being real red, were pretty sweet.

So as I was saying, at the beginning of my run today something fell on the ground in front of me. It was a honeybee and it was laying on its back (lying on its back? I can never remember the proper word) trying to turn over.

I figured this must be an old bee. Old, but still out collecting nectar and then right in the middle, it gets too weak to fly. Bees don't even get to enjoy a retirement; they just keep buzzing around until they can buzz no more.

There are also red ant nests on that particular stretch of my run so as I continued on, I thought about these "social" insects and the lives they lead. Their societies are self-sufficient. Everyone has a job to do and they do it, day in and day out, with no rest for the weary. An ant (or bee) gets hungry - there's food for it to eat. They live in the shelter of a nest or hive constructed by the community. They're programmed to do all this by instinct.

They have no choice.

That's where the communists and socialists get it wrong. They expect people to be like ants and bees, but people can think. They can choose. And the other difference is all the ants and bees are proletariats. There is no ruling class in an ant or bee colony; there is indeed a queen but it is as brainless as a government legislator. All it does is lay eggs and keep the society going.

What if they could think like humans? And could make choices as to what they did?

Do you think they would still be able to maintain the colonies like they do now? You'd have mound or hive potatoes, just sitting around watching insect wrestling. You'd have the formation of classes or castes. Dreams of something better than making tunnels all day. And don't even get me started on what would happen if the ants and bees formed unions.

I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves is have the ability to choose. That's what I used to tell my kids - whatever they do, I want them to be able to choose to do it, rather than be forced to do it. If they wanted to work at a fast food place all their lives, fine, as long as it was their own choice.

I'm not advocating to be so free-form that one lives a life where you do anything you darn well please with no rules like roller derby; what I am saying is that one should strive to live a life in which you choose your environment and the structure that goes along with that particular environment, God willing.

And that's how my mind got from here to there, a segue from seeing a bee on its back to philosophizing about the purpose of life.




Saturday, May 30, 2009

Late

I got back late from a meeting tonight so this post is brief. I also got back too late to play my daily trivia game, grr.. that knocked me out of the competition for this month for sure.

So.. only thing for today is I happened to run across perhaps the most unintentionally funny movie fight scene in history that I felt compelled to embed below for your entertainment. The dialog is good, too.




Thursday, May 28, 2009

Get a Job

I got my hair cut today. My barber has a daughter who is in her second year at UC San Diego so we sometimes compare notes.

I was telling her how a certain daughter of mine, who shall remain nameless, had interviewed for a summer job at Disney. A short while after the interview I asked if she had heard anything. She hadn't.

I told her that she should call to follow up and also thank the interviewer for the opportunity.

"I don't want to bug her."

"You're not bugging her, you are letting her know that you're interested in the job and also that you appreciate her time."

"That's just kissing up. I don't want to make it look like I am kissing up to her for the job."

"It all depends on how you go about it. Of course you need to be sincere. They'll remember you for it. If it comes down to choosing between a few people and it is a tough decision, they're going to go with the one that took the time to follow up on the interview."

No matter what, this daughter of mine did not want to contact the interviewer. Finally she said she would do so in about a week if she hadn't heard anything yet.

I told this to my barber. "Oh yeah, you have to follow up and thank them," she said. "My daughter was the same way. She said to me, mom, I don't want to be a brown nose!"

This unnamed daughter eventually did call about the job and seemed surprised that they didn't have the courtesy to answer the phone in person but instead had left a recording thanking everyone and informing them that all of the positions had been filled.

"What do you expect?" I told her. "At my office we don't contact people who didn't get the job. We only contact the ones we want to hire. Who cares about the ones you don't want to hire?"

"That sucks."

"That's the way it is, though." When I told my barber she nodded her head.

"They don't care," declared my barber, both of us nodding. "You have to make them remember you."

Actually, just because someone takes the time to follow up on an interview doesn't necessarily give them the upper hand. They could be weird. But given candidates who are equal and between whom it is difficult to choose one or the other, I say that the one who does the follow up will most likely be the one who is successful. They're the one asking to close the deal.

I'm not saying to be insincere like a politician and spew double-talk coming up with anything that you think is going to benefit you; if you are there to apply for a job then you really ought to be appreciative of the opportunity. Whether or not you want it, you must need it because you're there interviewing, right? Unless you are there because you have Asian parents who made you feel guilty, that is.

So what do you think? Times are tough.. finding a summer job is not easy. You've gotta separate yourself from the pack.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day Off

I made it a four-day weekend by taking a day off from work today (Tuesday). I spent a good part of the day enjoying my audio and video equipment, mainly the audio part by playing some CD's, SACD's and concert DVD's. Lots of music!

I also spent some time fiddling around with the different settings for the equipment, which gets confusing. Like choosing to send bitstream versus LPCM signals from the blu ray player to the preamp or sending DSD or PCM or which one decodes what signal and, and, well it makes your head spin.

The fact that we have such a thing as music is wonderful. I happen to believe that God created the universe and music is included as one of the creations. We take our five senses for granted, just as we do the dimensions (length, width, height, time, Twilight Zone and the singing group) but they are all things with properties that had to be created or constructed.

For example, let's say you are going to create a new software game. You start with a blank slate. Whatever you create has to be given properties - that is, characteristics of things that define whatever is created, as well as actions that these things are capable of doing. There have to be rules.

What does it really mean to "hear" something? There have to be sounds to be heard, but then there have to be such things as "sounds." Imagine a world created in which there are no sounds or hearing because that is not included as a "sense." That world could have a completely different set of senses, beyond our comprehension. Like if we could see time, or hear length. Totally different ways of perceiving things, in other words, because of the way everything was created. I sense all of this probably has made you feel tired.

That's something I think about now and then - how we are all part of a giant software program, operating within the parameters that have been set for the program, using the properties that have been assigned to us.

Well, enough of all that hot air. I'm grateful that music is part of our world.

There's no particular connection between today's YouTube song and the blog post except it is an example of why I love music so much and am so grateful it is something we are fortunate to be able to enjoy. This is one of my favorites.





Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Observations

We spent a fairly quiet Memorial Day by visiting the Brea shopping mall. Actually, one mall is pretty much the same as another, built modularly (malldularly?) with interchangeable stores. The food courts may not have the exact same names but they sell the same food, with employees behind the counter hawking samples of their wares on toothpicks. Some are bigger than others but that normally just means stores with different names selling the same things.

One thing I noticed was that there is are so many kinds of Dockers pants and they all look pretty much the same to me. They come in all different price ranges and I wonder why do some cost so much more than others when they all seem to look and feel the same? One of life's mysteries..

Something else I noticed as we were almost home. Someone ran across the street and she ran swinging her arms back and forth, elbows straight and never raising her hands above her waist. Kind of reminded me of a penguin. She flicked each hand when it was at its furthest point behind her as if that helped propel her forward and faster. I was thinking how stupid that looks.

It really bothers me when people run looking stupid. Like that woman running across the street today. Or when people run keeping their hands up in the air at chest level, or even worse, at shoulder level or above. Don't they realize what they look like?? If you run like that, no offense but you need to change your style!

There have been some recent comments on this blog about Golden Bird chicken. To me that's the greatest fried chicken of all - no other comes close. People who rave about Roscoe's? Sorry, Roscoe's is pitiful next to the Golden Bird. Unfortunately the Bird seems to be going extinct, with Brien reporting that the location in the Crenshaw area is closed.

So I went to the source to see just exactly which locations are still operating. Brien, you'll be happy to know that there is one opening soon in Palmdale! As for the other locations, and for the exact address of the one soon to open, here is a link to the GB site: click here (Beware, it begins playing music).

Here's a YouTube of people running in normal fashion. Now just imagine them instead running like penguins or with their hands/arms up in the air like I described above, with the same music still playing. It doesn't work, does it?






Monday, May 25, 2009

Odd Job

Oh I am so glad tomorrow is a holiday! Well actually today, since I am writing it on Sunday but posting it on Monday. So happy Memorial Day to you!

Today (Sunday.. just keep my timeframe in mind) I was thinking about celebrities I have encountered. There haven't been many. One time Amy and I were in J-Town and we saw Carole King sitting at the counter of a sushi bar. All by herself, very serene. I didn't want to bug her for her autograph although now I wish I had because she is someone I greatly admire.

The closest I've been to any television or movie personality was the time I met Harold Sakata, who played the role of James Bond's nemesis Odd Job in Goldfinger. He gave me a ride home from school a few times.

How so?

He happened to be the uncle of my classmate, Sterling Tom. In the sixth grade both of us went to an elementary school that was fairly far from our homes and his dad would normally give us a ride home. But one time a different guy picked us up. He looked pretty rough and was wearing a white undershirt. He drove a big old American car (foreign cars were still foreign back then), something like a rather ratty Oldsmobile.

"Do you know who he is?" Sterling asked. I shook my head.

He introduced him formally by telling me it was his Uncle Harold and then told me he was Odd Job. From Goldfinger.

"No way." Sterling assured me that it was true. I looked at his uncle, who also nodded but I kept picturing a guy wearing a suit and a dangerous bowler on his head. The transition to reality was difficult for me but I figured he wasn't pulling my leg.

Up to that point, in my short 10 or 11 years, Goldfinger was my absolute favorite movie of all time - my inspiration for wanting to become a secret agent. As a kid, I was impressed. As an adult, I still am. I can still picture getting into the car and being introduced.

The thing is, ratty Olds with the torn upholstery and all, he will be forever immortalized in what I say is by far the best 007 movie of them all. Everyone remembers Odd Job!




Sunday, May 24, 2009

Farewell

After my usual Saturday Costco trip, I dropped off the usual items at home then drove out to the westside - I had to clear out the few remaining items at my parents house because escrow is slated to close this coming week.

Before going to the house, however, I took a side trip over to Tito's Tacos. It seems like eating there has become only an annual occasion and I wanted to make sure that I made it there at least once in 2009.

Surprisingly it wasn't too crowded (this was around 11:00); I got my usual dos tacos con queso y arroz, with a diet Coke and decided I'd take it back to the house to eat, just like I used to do long ago in my UCLA days.

I got lost driving to the house. Well, not really lost since I knew where I was headed, but I couldn't remember the old efficient route I used to take to speed me there. Instead, I wound up going a longer way and ended up on Jefferson. I decided to cut across to Rodeo using Farmdale so I could see what Dorsey's facade looked like now. It's looking better than when I went there; a little modernized, better paint, but still looking like the model modular school.

From there it was down Rodeo to the old house on Somerset. I forgot there was no more table for the food so I made do with a counter top. At least I remembered to bring some napkins and plastic utensils from Tito's, though.

I savored my too-infrequent meal and thought about how I used to have Tito's all the time and how I must be getting old because the food really filled me up this time. Plus my jaws hurt from the tough chips. Nevertheless, Tito's is Tito's - the prices have gone up but the food remains the same! Still my favorite tacos and rice.

I lifted up the garage door to make sure it was empty inside and thought about the Easy Livin' practices we used to have there. The poor neighbors. Carry On would often practice on Wellington, the next block over - we'd talk to each other through our PA systems.

After I took out the few remaining things in the house, I stepped outside and closed the door, then locked it for what will probably be the last time. I thought about the many times I had unlocked that door late on Friday and Saturday nights in high school and college, sometimes when the sun was already rising, and go flop in my room and sleep late the next day.

As I drove up Crenshaw to the freeway, I thought about how there really was no more reason for me to come to the neighborhood anymore. But no matter where I go, I'll take it with me. I'm glad I grew up there.






Saturday, May 23, 2009

WAF

As you may have gleaned from reading my blog, I like electronic gear, particularly audio equipment. Yes, I do seem to have this thing about speakers..

One problem with having a hobby like that is being able to afford that stuff. It's not like collecting butterflies. But an even greater constraint acting to limit the acquisition of audio equipment than leanness of the pocketbook is what is known in audio forum circles (and probably every other male-dominated forum) as WAF.

Wife acceptance factor.

More spine-tingling than the price of an object is the voice behind you demanding to know, "Where did that come from???"

Today I received a private message on one of the audio forums I frequent, sent to me in error. Someone had listed a couple of subwoofers for sale and somehow, the potential buyer sent this message to me instead of to the seller (click to enlarge):


Haha, had I known his true identity that would have been worth at least a couple of that few hundred bucks he was hiding from his wife. I wrote back and told him he had sent the message to the wrong person and wished him luck. Poor fellow. I can just imagine him nervously hunched over his computer ready to jump at the slightest noise in back of him.

The subwoofers are still up for sale and I never heard back from Larry so I hope he is okay. Could be he wound up something like this, though:







Friday, May 22, 2009

Secret Life

Our company recently switched 401k providers to Fidelity Investments. The rep assigned to guide us through the conversion process and I traded a lot of e-mails while he helped me prepare for the switch.

Today he mentioned that he had gone to a concert last night so I asked him who he saw. He and his wife went to see Indigo Girls; they're her favorite group. He told me he is more of a rocker, and then asked if he had ever told me about his music.

Naturally I had to find out more so of course I bit. He's been playing guitar and sharing vocals in a band for the last 15 years and has also formed a production company with a buddy of his to do music for radio, television and film. Then he gave me the links to his websites, here and here.

I told him believe or not, I used to play in a band, too, and that was the most fun I've ever had in my life. I also told him it was wonderful that he could pursue what he really loves. And all this time I thought he was just my 9-5 Fidelity rep!

I took a look at his two sites and also listened to some song samples. Not my kind of music because I don't care for that loud, guitar-driven style but for what they do they do it well.

I asked him if that's his big dream and Fidelity is just a holding tank. His goal is to focus on the production company but one day, he'd like to play in an arena.

That's so good that he is following his passion. I really hope he gets his wish. Sometimes you just have to go for it, you know?




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Audio Nut

I was browsing through an audio website's forum today when I spied a post from someone who was asking about a pair of Dynaco A25 speakers that he had, and how much power they could handle.

Do you remember Dynaco speakers? If so, read on.. I'm just reminiscing. Those were the first true "hi-fi" speakers I owned, purchased from the long defunct Pacific Stereo (the location on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica) along with a Dual 1218 turntable and a Sony TA-1150 integrated amplifier.

Those were really nice speakers and very popular. Later on, I moved up from my Sony amplifier to true separates, a Dynaco 120 stereo power amplifier and a Dynaco PAT-5 stereo preamplifier, both of which were mail ordered and came as kits. The kits were a lot cheaper than the assembled ones and I had a lot of fun putting them together. They actually worked, too! You got a lot of value for your money with that company.

The entire list of Dynaco equipment with links to description pages can be found by clicking here.

From there it's been a long string of audio equipment - a never-ending procession; I've always been interested in that area. It was fun going back and reading about my old Dynaco equipment and thinking about how I used it for hours and hours doing what I love so much - listening to music.

Alas, Dynaco is long gone but there are other value-oriented companies around these days whose products I admire. Here's one of them below, and you'll know if you are an audio nut if you can understand what the heck this guy is talking about, haha..





Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Elections

Okay, with today being the day to cast your ballot in California I'm stepping up on the soap box to voice my disgust with our disgusting politicians who would like nothing better than to rip off their constituents again by getting them to fall for their scare tactics about our state diving in the flames of bankruptcy if we don't vote more money for them.

I am more adamant about this than about avoiding ripoff Monster brand cables - please don't fall for these hucksters!!!!

Plain and simple, the more money you give people, the more they will spend. The only way people will spend less is to give them less. Nowhere is this more acutely demonstrated than in our sorry state of California where our pitiful legislators, including the governator that I USED to support, waste your tax dollars and mine and keep begging for more.

I've heard their dire warnings before - way back in the 70's when they told us how passage of Proposition 13 would result in dire consequences for us all. Yup, I sure am suffering knowing that my property taxes could have been multiples higher than they are now had we been suckered into voting down Prop 13. I'm so sorry that someone in Sacramento had to forego their annual office remodeling because of this (although they probably did it anyway).

I am voting a happy NOOOOOO on Prop's 1A through 1E and voting YES on 1F, the one that prevents pay increases in budget deficit years.

It is nothing but common sense. Our legislators who want us to pass 1A-1E are reprehensible - worse than AIG, Enron and Countrywide put together. All they want is more license to spend and I am hopeful, based on the way the polls look so far, that people are going to send them the message that we are sick and tired of their idiocy.

There's plenty of funds available right now - they are just being channeled to the wrong place. The selfish, greedy administrators don't want to give it up, they want to keep wasting it. They would rather our tax dollars pay for teachers than to reallocate the money that goes into their pockets while they sit around doing nothing all day except plot how to keep their slimy jobs.

Please don't get fooled again by legalized robbery. Our state is run by crooks.

Was it clear how I feel about the matter?




Monday, May 18, 2009

Cool Furniture

I'm always checking the Gold Box deals on Amazon and today the 4:00 deal was the "Fatboy FOX original" in blue, which is basically a dressed-up beanbag chair. That made me think of the two that I used to have, one green and one yellow. I had them for a long time and they were really comfortable. I can't remember what happened to them, though.

One thing: never open the zipper on one of those things. I did and that's why I am telling you not to do that. Inside I found zillions of minute styrofoam balls, statically charged to stick to anything and everything, impossible to get back into the beanbag. Leave well enough alone. It's like opening up a Lava Lamp - it's never the same after you do so.

That set my brain wandering to beanbags in general and how we used to use them in elementary school for something on the playground but I can't remember exactly what for. Was it to throw at each other? Well, even if that wasn't the official use I'm sure that's what we used to do.

Is dodgeball still a phys ed activity in school? I bet it isn't because of the low self esteem that arises when you get hit, not to mention possible pain. It sure was fun, though. That would be a pure example of the concept "survival of the fittest." Except that nowadays you would have to add the attorneys filing personal injury claims and make sure you keep hands off of any "protected classes" of participants. I can just imagine the rules have changed so that you are ejected if you actually hit anyone with the ball, plus you have to attend anger management classes.

That's how my mind wandered while writing this blog post today. Sort of like the picture of the wiring in back of my audio/video setup:


That's about it for today. Now to circle back to the original topic, beanbags:






Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Saturday

My Saturday began in typical fashion, at Costco. Product-wise, I have nothing to report; I just restocked. I noticed a poor henpecked young husband being led around the store by his confident, authoritative, domineering, smotheri.. well, anyway, by his wife who wanted to interrogate and shoot him down about everything he wanted to place in the cart.

"And tell me, why do you want to buy that???"

"It's for my father. He -"

"You do not want to do that. That isn't good. Blah blah blah.." I leaned on my cart feeling sorry for the guy. On top of that she had a really big nose, for whatever that's worth. Reminded me of the friend of a coworker who murdered his wife for talking too much.

Husband goes berserk at Costco, bludgeons wife..

Then we ate lunch at T-Burgers in Monrovia. Not bad, but for fast food in the SGV, the place to beat is still Tops on Colorado near Michilinda. After T-Burgers, we headed over to the new Monrovia library. Today was its grand opening and there were plenty of patrons as well as employees on hand to help out.

The new facility is very nice. I got myself a library card and checked out a book by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, and got four CD's, too. And get this: the CD's were brand spanking new! I couldn't believe it, pristine, unscratched discs with no fingerprints and an uncracked case to boot! That made my day. I will be very conscientious about returning them in the same condition.

Tonight it was dinner as usual with the in-laws. This time we went to a different restaurant. Still Chinese, but a different one. A wedding reception was taking place in a portion of it. These are the things I remember:

The food wasn't too bad.

The loudspeakers used for the reception were probably the worst I have ever heard. Screeching, harsh Bose monitors. Enough said about that..

And I think the bride must have misplaced her mascara and was forced to use shoe polish instead.

It was a nice ride back home - things are so much more serene at night.





Saturday, May 16, 2009

Calories

These are the main, actually only requirements of where the area in which I live needs to have: a nearby Costco, Trader Joes, and internet access so I can shop on Amazon.com. That's it.

Speaking of Costco, I assume pretty much all of you, whoever you might be, have eaten at one of its food courts. For a really great value, nothing beats Costco. Where else can you get a decent-sized hot dog and a drink for only $1.50? A slice of pizza that is bigger than two slices from a Pizza Hut "jumbo" size pizza and with more toppings for $1.99? More than twice the pizza at about half the price. And so on and so forth.

Ever wonder how many calories are in the things you order?

Head over to AddictedToCostco.com and you will find a link to a pdf file containing the nutritional information for the items served up in their food court. Or, you can save time and click here.

Julie always orders the Hebrew National polish dog when we go. Sounds pretty healthy - it's Kosher. And it's just a hot dog. I looked it up on the chart and there are 540 calories, 290 of which are from fat. That's 50% of the recommended daily value for fat, and 62% for the saturated fat total.

I've been inclined towards the pepperoni pizza lately. You would think the stats for that would be a whole lot worse than for a harmless hot dog. But you'd be wrong. There are more calories: 620, but only 220 come from fat. That's 37% and 54% of the recommended daily values for fat and saturated fat, respectively.

Oddly enough the cholesterol and sodium content is lower in the pizza, as well. And even stranger (at least to me) is that the pepperoni, with its puddles of grease floating on top, is less caloric than the combo or cheese pizzas. I wonder how many calories you can remove by soaking up the grease with a napkin before ingesting the pizza?

Anyway, take a look at the list for yourself. I've seen worse nutritional information, though, with levels exceeding 100% of the recommended daily amounts for fat, saturated fat and sodium.

I thought the list was pretty interesting. See, my blog acts as a public service, not just a mindless escape.

Remember, do not eat too much just before bedtime as it may cause nightmares:






Friday, May 15, 2009

Lot in Life

Julie and I have just started watching episodes of Planet Earth in the Blu Ray format and what they have captured on video is incredible.

Many of the segments deal with the hardships faced by animals as they endure a daily struggle for survival in their habitats. Some change habitats annually - such as birds that undertake lengthy migrations and by the time they reach their destinations, are barely able to flap their wings.

It made me wonder, why don't they just stay put where they are instead of torturing themselves like that? Of course, I know that a big reason why they don't stay put is because the seasons make one place temporarily inhospitable, forcing their move to another place.

But year after year these creatures repeat themselves. Isn't there an easier way? Or how about the 17 year cicada.. It takes them 17 whole years to mature into an adult and when they finally do, they mate and die after a couple of days. It sort of makes you wonder what is the point?

Well, what exactly is the point? It's beyond comprehension. Maybe the animals watch movies about humans who annually make a summer pilgrimage to Cape Cod, arriving with barely enough gas in the tank and frazzled beyond belief by their offspring who keep asking, "are we there? Are we there yet?" And they wonder why do we continue with that ritual year in and year out.

The wonder of nature is truly awesome to behold; each creature going through its lot in life. Could animals think their way out of the box and say hey, there's an easier way? But then humans get stuck just as much as do the animals.

Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreaming

Last month I chose John Maxwell's latest book as one of the items to review for Amazon's Vine program. It's called, "Put Your Dreams to the Test: 10 Questions That Will Help You See It and Seize It." You can see the product page by clicking here.

The premise of the book is that we all have a "dream" for our life. Mr. Maxwell helps us to evaluate that dream and get it on track by asking ten questions about that dream. Things such as, is it really our dream (do we have ownership of it or are we trying to live the dream someone else has for us.. like how Asian parents all want their kids to be filthy rich doctors and lawyers), can we see it clearly, is it realistic, etc.

In other words, he provides a structure or framework for our dreams. There's a chapter devoted to each question that elaborates on it, includes some motivational examples, and closes with a list of questions to ask ourselves to determine if we're headed in the right direction.

Seeing as how I'm feeling like Lou Rawls singing "Down Here on the Ground" (from Cool Hand Luke), I thought being offered that book was good timing. I'm down here on the ground and I'm wanting something better.

Just what exactly that "something better" is, after reading the book and asking myself the questions, I'd have to say I am not exactly sure. What I thought doesn't seem to quite fit now. Gotta do some more thinking about that!

Meanwhile, if you're old like me, click on the YouTube and have some memories flood in.





Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday Random Thoughts

Please forgive me when I refer to "today" in this blog since that's in present tense as I write, not when it is published.

That said, today (Monday) as I exited the freeway offramp on my way to work, wondering why do some people drive so slow - don't they know it's a freeway?? - I was surprised by a couple of low-flying mallards that emerged from the bushes along the side of the ramp and barely made it over the top of my car.

Ducks? What would ducks be doing in Burbank? And a pretty crummy part of Burbank, to boot. Not only that, these two clumsy things came uncomfortably close to my windshield.

Then I got to thinking, what if birds ever got smart and decided to randomly attack us humans as we were walking? I think we'd be pretty helpless against a dive-bombing kamikaze pecking at us a la Hitchcock-movie style. Our bodies don't have much armor, we don't run fast, and don't have real quick reactions. Can you imagine a battlefield of attacking birds every time we went outside?

Why do I think of things like that? Don't ask me.

Then as I sat at my desk today dealing with interruptions and wondering why don't people read their e-mails before asking me questions or asking for things I had already sent them, I got to thinking how nice it would be to retire early.

The question is how to get there from here. I think I've mentioned my vision in this blog before but I'll repeat:

I want to wake up whenever I feel like it and go to sleep whenever I feel like it.

That's it??? You ask..

Yup, that's about it. But let me explain. I don't mean it in a lazy way, like being so slothful I rise at the break of evening; what I mean in this vision is that I am so passionate about my "work" - what I do for a living - that it doesn't have any set bounds. No 9-5 routine. I work because I love it so it's not really work.

Wow, wouldn't we all like to be that way, right? Well, that's true. I never said I was unique. All I'm saying is I need to figure out a way to realize that vision.

Add something else: I'm "working" in a large room with a big window. There's a glass desk. A computer. And that's all that is needed.

Oh yeah - a chair, too.

And I guess the window should be bird-proof.




Monday, May 11, 2009

Nostalgia

This morning I was daydreaming about what I could do and never get tired of, and it got me reminiscing about my days with Easy Livin' and how much fun it was playing in the band. With music there's always a higher standard to which to aspire, and the challenge of getting there is never dull - taxing, but rewarding. It's not like, say, the challenge of producing 75 widgets per hour instead of 70 and when you do so and get your pat on the back, you wonder what is the point of it all.

When I checked my e-mail I found a message from our bass player, Michael Kosaka sitting there and a link to the YouTube video below. At 1:10 into the video, he said he always thought that Spanky sounded like Teri Kusumoto, our lead singer, and asked what I thought.

Well, what I thought was that I've played that same video many times and thought the same thing as Michael - yup, that sounds like Teri. I guess we both had Easy Livin' on our minds today! Must be fate calling.

I really like that song. It takes me back to the 9th grade, this same time of year, preparing to graduate and make the leap into high school. It also takes me back to having a crush on Lena Wong. I don't think we ever wore clothes like they do in that video, though.

Back in the day when Spanky and Our Gang (the musical group) were popular, we wondered if the Spanky in that group was the same Spanky as in the Little Rascals. Some people said yes it was, but unless Spanky had an operation, I don't think they were the same person. Otherwise they could have subsituted the word "Spanky" for the word "Sunday" in the song Sunday Will Never Be the Same.

Today's just the kind of day when we would get together for practices.. and the kind of day when Michael and I would head over to Johnnie's Pastrami in Culver City and pig out on a pastrami, fries, Coke and down a bunch of pickles. Our stomachs were much more resiliant and forgiving back then.

Now.. check out the video before the YouTube police eradicate it. This same video keeps popping up and the police keep removing it but like the Matrix, it keeps reappearing.






Sunday, May 10, 2009

At the Movies

Not really much to say today.. can you believe that? I've been browsing Amazon looking for Blu Ray titles. I came across an oldie but goodie that brought back memories of Michael Jones and I me seeing it at the theater when it was originally released.

Bullitt has one of the most amazing car chase scenes you will ever see - especially considering none of it is computer trickery, it's all genuine. Michael and I couldn't stop talking about how it was the coolest thing we ever saw.

I think the closest I ever got to something like that was driving down the "Arlington Double" near where I used to live. If you lived around there, you know what I'm talking about and if you don't, oh well.

Ah, wouldn't it be nice to go for a spin like this:




Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Weekend

As I sit here typing away on Friday evening, the window is open and a refreshing spring breeze sends relief from the previous couple of stifling nights. I feel like sticking my head out of the window like a dog sticks its head out of the car when going for a ride.

It's the weekend and I am so glad it is here.

It's no different from the way I felt in high school - always impatient for Friday and then feeling anxious on Sunday because the next day was back to school. I always felt like I had to get out of the house - if I had to stay home on Friday and/or Saturday night then the weekend was a total failure. Nothing was better than getting out into the night.

Now that I'm older (so much older, sigh..), when the weekend rolls around and you ask me what I feel like doing, my answer is usually one word: Relax.

I just want a clean slate, nothing on the agenda, nothing on the calendar. Everything is an option.

Of course, getting out and about is still nice but I don't go nuts if I am confined in the house. I sure don't mind just spending a nice quiet evening at home. Maybe the difference is having a choice in the matter, unlike the way it was in high school.

Then:




By the way, why do men sing in falsetto? How did that come about? I mean, I don't hear women singing in deep bass (at least not intentionally).

Now:





Friday, May 8, 2009

Little Visitor

This morning when I went outside to turn on the sprinkler, I spied a lizard frantically trying to get into the house through a vent from the crawlspace below the floor.

There's a small ledge where the indentation for the screen-covered vent is set into the exterior of the house, right next to the hose faucet. This lizard was scrambling left and right on the ledge, peering inside at something that was so interesting it didn't even notice me standing there looking at him. Nor did he notice my hand scooping him up.

Once in my hand he struggled a bit and then became motionless. I brought him inside and put him in a plastic container, then set the container next to my computer desk. The lizard didn't move one bit.

After I while I took some pictures. Pretty lizard, huh?







Then it was back into his container until the timer went off telling me to shut off the sprinkers. I took him back outside and he had his freedom again, scurrying off into the bushes.

I wonder if the lizard comprehended anything that happened to him? He seemed to react when I was carrying him, like he was amazed at the experience of moving through the air above the floor. I think that entire hour the lizard spent in my room was just too much for it to fathom.

Maybe there's some aliens conducting experiments on us and we don't realize it because it's beyond our comprehension as well.




Wednesday, May 6, 2009

France Has the Right Idea

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that France is the industrialized country where people spend the longest periods sleeping: a daily average of 530 minutes. Americans average 518 minutes and Koreans come in last at 469 minutes.

Not only that, but the French average the most time spent eating and drinking each day, two hours and fifteen minutes worth. Mexico was last, with one hour and six minutes and the U.S. was only two steps higher at one hour and fourteen minutes.

But wait, there's more! The French receive thirty, yes 30 annual days of mandatory paid leave. England gets 20, Japan gets 10, and the U.S. - ha, we have zero. Now I don't know if those 30 days in France includes national holidays like Surrender Day, or if holidays are in addition to the thirty, but hey, 30 days?? That's six work weeks!

Also, I am not sure if the survey about sleep time included government workers sleeping on the job, which would make the U.S. average higher, but it would seem to me that any time spent sleeping on a given day would be part of the total. I wonder if being in a zombie state or daydreaming counts? Or text messaging?

I have to hand it to the French, they know how to make good use of their time! How do those totals compare to your own lives? I have a lot of catching up to do...




Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I've been on a cleaning binge over the past week and I feel great - my desk and office overall at work were so messy I couldn't even think straight. Greg's old room is all nice and neat, too.

It is amazing how much paper goes to waste. One of our former customers at work is in bankruptcy proceedings and I've been putting all of the filings from the attorneys in a stack (actually two) in my office. Today I tossed it all out - paper literally at least six feet high into the trash. How ridiculous is that?? And who are the only ones guaranteed to come out of it with any money? The attorneys, of course. How perverted.

That six feet stack was just the beginning. I feel so much better now. I get overcome with anxiety when surrounded by mess and I just couldn't stand it any more.

You don't know how relieved I feel! Ah, things are in order now and all is right with the world.




Monday, May 4, 2009

Sell Out

I have another blog. Most of you probably don't know that; I don't post to it very often these days. It's called OneWinePerWeek, which originally began as a simple blog to post tasting reviews of the bottle of wine I happened to drink in a particular week.

Then I got the idea of instead of writing a bunch of boring reviews (I don't have a golden palate so I am unable to discern all of the extreme nuances other tasters seem to detect and describe in flowing prose), I'd combine my boring reviews with articles poking fun at the world of winedom.

That was a lot of fun. I guess I like making fun of things. Eventually I ran out of things to make fun of, however, so my posts became few and far between.

The other day I received an inquiry from a marketing firm informing me that they had various clients who would like to publicize themselves on my site and how much do I charge for advertising as well as do I accept paid editorial content.

Huh? I wrote back and told the guy that I update that blog infrequently and average about 50-75 visitors a day so there wouldn't be that much exposure for anyone advertising on my site.

He wrote back and thanked me for my candor, then asked if I would be willing to sell the site.

I wasn't sure what he meant so I in turn wrote and asked if he meant selling the domain name and all the content that was there already. I said I wasn't ready to sell anything but out of curiosity, what sort of dollars was he talking about?

His reply was yes, sell the entire site, and he was talking in the neighborhood of around $400.

$400? I have no idea how reasonable an offer that is. But I thought, why would someone want to buy a domain name like "one wine per week?" What could they do with it? And then I thought, I really don't feel much motivation for keeping up that site so what is the point of keeping it? $400 is better than letting it sit there. Maybe he's lowballing me and I should counter with something more like $5,000 and see what happens.

Then I went back and read some of the articles I had posted and not to sound immodest, but some of them were pretty darn good. Some would be downright hilarious to people who were familiar with wine, maybe even to those who weren't familiar, too.

I mentioned the offer to Julie. "After all that work you put into writing those things and you're going to sell it for $400? That's nothing."

I felt like Jimmy Stewart in the scene from It's A Wonderful Life where he almost sells out to the evil Mr. Potter. Yeah, what price on my labor of love? Well, seriously maybe only two bits or thereabouts, but still, I'd hate to sell my creations and give up control over them. At least not so cheap, haha..

I wrote back to the fellow and told him thank you but I wasn't interested in doing anything for a while.

Next thing you know, I will get a similar offer to sell this blog. My name and all. I'll have to change my name as I won't have rights to that anymore. So if you had to pick a new name for yourself, what would you choose?




Sunday, May 3, 2009

Uneventful Saturday

This was my typical Saturday, beginning at Costco. One of the sausage vendors was giving out free samples. I told the woman I always buy their product but would be happy to have some samples anyway. I also told her I liked their sausage better than their competitor's, which was too dry for my tastes.

"Oh yeah, ours is better," she declared. I mentioned again that the other brand was really dry.

"You know what it is," continued. "Well, I'm not sure of this since I don't work for them, but I think they just throw everything in it." She made a sweeping motion with her arm.

"Throw everything in it?"

"Yeah, you know, they just throw in the whole animal, bones and all. That's why it has that funny texture."

"That would explain it," I said as I swallowed my last sample and threw away the toothpicks.

In the evening we had our usual Saturday night dinner with Julie's family, this time at NBC Seafood. Since they all talk in Chinese and I have no idea what they are saying, I normally sit there looking around the room to see what is going on.

At an adjoining table I saw someone that looked like Lena, a girl I knew in junior high. But I realized it couldn't be her because she was too young. She was more like the Lena I remembered from way back, not like the present-day Lena would probably look.

I wonder what the people I haven't seen in a long time look like now. When I think of them, I picture the person I knew then, not a character morphed to today. An old friend from high school that I stay in touch with via e-mail said she'd rather leave us with the image of how we looked back then instead of trading pictures to update things - best to leave things as they were in our younger days. Funny, tonight at the restaurant I saw someone that reminded me of her, too.

Well at least I didn't see a piece of toast that resembled anyone tonight.





Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time to Panic

Sorry, Doug Adams, but it is time to panic so don't tell us not to.

Y2K worldwide chaos and the end to civilization as we knew it.

1984 Los Angeles Olympics and hopeless gridlock.

And now, R2D2 flu! Oh, excuse me, I meant H1N1 flu, more commonly known as the Swine Flu, threatens to take down the world and not even Bruce Willis can do anything about it.

Yesterday Julie headed over to WalMart to buy some face masks.

"They still had masks over there?" I asked.

"Yeah, there was still quite a bit," she told me. As she was checking out, a couple of people spied the masks and asked where she found them. Then they went speeding off to that section of the store to get their own.

We still have some masks sitting in the cabinet somewhere that were supposed to be for our trip to Beijing and Hong Kong four years ago so I think we are well stocked.

Are you a fatalist? Because if you are, then you know it doesn't matter one way or the other if you put on one of these gauze masks to try and protect yourself from the flu germs. If you know someone who is, you can put them to the test:

"Why did you buy that gauze face mask?"

"Why?? To protect myself against the Swine Flu virus."

"But you said you believe in fate. So if it's your time, it's your time whether or not you put on that silly mask."

"No, my fate is a function of what I decide to do."

"YOU decide? You don't decide. You don't have a choice. Whatever you do is fate. You're just a puppet."

"If I put it on, then that's because that is my destiny, to put it on."

"But if it is your time, then it doesn't matter if you put it on or not. So what difference does it make?"

"Now you got me all confused."

"That's your fate. To be confused right now."