Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Misinformed

Today I found out that I have been spelling "yakamashii" incorrectly all these years. I've been leaving out the second "i" from the word.

This morning when I Googled the word, the results came back with the usual question that appears at the top of the list when you misspell the search term or Google doesn't recognize what you put in and tries to substitute a word that it thinks you actually meant:

Did you mean: yakamashii?

I stared at it. What?? You mean I've been spelling it wrong all my life? That's a lot of years! Then it dawned on me - so that's why it was so easy for me to register the domain name yakamashi.com, because that's not the right way to spell it! I checked and sure enough, yakamashii.com is taken.

Apparently Yahoo search is not that intelligent, however. It didn't ask if I meant the correct spelling. Neither did the new Microsoft search engine, Bing, ask me either. They just let me continue being stupid.

I guess it makes sense to spell it that way - that second "i" adds emphasis to the word; really lets someone know they need to shut up, haha..

Gee how embarrassing. I've been misinformed all these years!






Monday, June 29, 2009

Boxes

There wasn't a whole lot to choose from this month for my Amazon Vine selections to review. I sent for boxes. Moving boxes, that is.

I'm not moving but with all the junk we have in our house, it wouldn't hurt to have some nice storage boxes. First I got the medium-sized ones which are pretty sturdy, so the second time around I requested the small size.

The small size comes in a 10-pack. Here's a screen print of the product page from the website:


Shipping weight is supposed to be 13.6 pounds. I got the tracking number for the boxes and checked on FedEx to see their progress. Here's a screen print of the tracking information:


Take a look at what I highlighted in yellow. The tracking info says the shipment weighs 55 pounds! Either they made a mistake in the weight or I'm going to be getting a whole bunch of boxes - if it really weighs 55 pounds that would be four packs of 10 boxes each = 40 boxes. That's so many boxes I would kind of feel obligated to move just to use them all.

Here is a picture of the medium-sized box so you can see what it looks like:


For today's YouTube, that box made me think of the ending of the movie Se7en, and they do indeed have a clip of it on the site. But I thought it was a bit too creepy and extreme so I went with this one instead; a box of a different type.






Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bandwidth

In the beginning there was a line. That's it, just a line, just one dimension.

Things got kind of crowded, however. Even though a line has an infinite number of points, practically speaking, it was crowded.

So then came multiple lines. But since there was still only one dimension that made it impossible to move to the other side of whatever was next to you.

So lines were modified and width was added - a second dimension. That helped ease the problem and again, even though this allowed for an infinite number of points within that space, practically speaking it got crowded.

So another modification was made, to add height. Three dimensions. Not only could you now go around the person next to you, you could go above or underneath them. But wouldn't you know, even this became too crowded to be practical.

So guess what? A fourth dimension was added: time. Everything did not have to exist simultaneously, nor move simultaneously. What once occupied a particular point in the three dimensions at one moment in time was gone the next, enabling something else to take its place and thus relieve congestion.

Still, a big traffic jam occurred because only one thing was able to move at any one time. If you weren't near the front of the line (so to speak), your wait may have approached infinity. That, too, was not really practical.

So multitasking appeared. Things could all move at once, although at times this got unwieldy with things bumping and crashing into each other. But still, operating in four dimensions greatly facilitated operations.

As the number of things in our world continues to increase, so does the complexity of movements and wouldn't you know, this is placing a burden on time, too. There is not enough time to enable everything to take place simultaneously; there is not enough bandwidth.

You think you forgot something? You don't remember where you put something? You think your memory isn't what it used to be? The real explanation is that you skipped points in time and were simply not engaged to be privy to what happened during those points in time in which there wasn't enough bandwidth. You were placed in a brownout queue.

This lack of time bandwidth is becoming increasingly serious. A fifth dimension is going to be required to handle the overload. I'm not talking about the Twilight Zone or the musical group, but I mean a true fifth dimension that will ease the shortage of bandwidth that currently exists.

If you have trouble understanding this, just liken it to how we have moved from DOS to Windows 3.1 to the upcoming Windows 7. Mac users probably already think they are living in the fifth dimension.




Where is the usual Costco report, you might we wondering.. I didn't have time to write that today.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Odds

I was talking with a coworker today about Michael Jackson's untimely death. She told me that earned her 50 points in the "dead pool" in which she is participating. In case you don't know what that is, at the beginning of each year there's a pool, like a football pool, in which the participants make a list of celebrities they think are going to kick the bucket during the upcoming year. Since the odds increase with age, younger ones are worth more points if they happen to pass away than are the older ones. Whoever has the most points at the end of the year wins whatever money is in the pool.

"I bet not too many people had him on their list," I said.

"Oh no, are you kidding? He was on lots of lists. The way his health was with all those medications he was taking, lots of people put him on their list."

"So did you have Farrah on your list, too?"

"Yup, sure did."

"What about Ed McMahon?"

"Argh, you know, I did have him but for some reason I took him off."

"David Carradine?"

"No, didn't have him."

She said whenever a celebrity dies, her dad calls and asks her if she had them on her list. How morbid.

It's very sad to lose someone as talented as Michael Jackson at such a young age. I wasn't a big fan of his but I do feel he was an extremely gifted entertainer. Many would point out that he was also very weird and accuse him of being a pedophile, among other morally bankrupt things.

That may be true but I can't help thinking that may have been in large part a result of his stardom and the kind of life it brought on, as well as from all of the pressure from his fans.

One thing I want to say is that Michael Jackson may have been weird, but these people standing outside the coroners office doing the moonwalk and talking as if Michael was God are even more weird. Don't they have a life? They remind me of the scene from the movie Independence Day in which all the freaks and flakes are waiting at the top of downtown skyscrapers for the alien saucers to land and Elvis to emerge from one of them.

With fans like that, no wonder Michael exhibited such strange behavior. You can say that there are plenty of other celebs who act normal and the he was responsible for his bizarre ways. True, but that's a lot of pressure to put on anyone. Also, how do we know how "normal" anyone really is? What Michael wore on the outside could just as easily be what others keep hidden, but their minds are still in the same place.

The time to honor and respect someone is when they are alive, not dead. It's sad to think of the little kid singing lead for the Jackson 5 and how things got so twisted for him.




Friday, June 26, 2009

The End

Yesterday escrow closed on my parents Crenshaw area house. It belongs to someone else now. It was listed back in January and while it is a relief that finally the house has finally transferred title and this long process is done, I'm still kind of sad that the place with so many memories is no longer in the family.

Our broker said that the buyers really, really wanted the house and were very happy that the transaction is now complete. Well, I'm happy for them and I hope all works out well. I think they're going to take good care of it.

Tonight we celebrated - Gary our broker, my sister and I had dinner at Houston's in Pasadena. The food was good and we had an enjoyable time. Gary really went above and beyond with helping get repairs done, making escrow move along, etc., and he did a great job. Here we are, stuffed to the gills:


On the way home I saw the below bus bench at the corner of Huntington Drive and San Gabriel Blvd. and since I had my camera with me, I snapped a picture of it. Have you ever seen an animal sitting on a bus bench? I can't recall ever seeing that but I guess it must happen often enough to warrant placing a warning on the bench (click either picture to enlarge).


I'm glad the weekend is nearly here - the best kind, with a clean calendar for Saturday and Sunday!

Here's some music that I thought was a suitable ode to our old house.




Thursday, June 25, 2009

Odds and Ends

Hey, I just noticed that this past Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of this blog! I haven't gotten apathetic yet! 329 entries ago the art of rambling was begun here.

Today I did a couple of things that normally I procrastinate about. Well actually it is still the norm since I should have already done them earlier but at least I took care of it.

One is getting a haircut. I hate it when my hair starts feeling thick or heavy. I'd just as soon have a crew cut or be bald except I would look funnier than I do now, but that would make me feel nice and light.

Two is clipping my nails. Do I sound like a pet? I always wait too long to get a haircut and clip my nails. I hate the feeling of having long nails. Granted I'm not talking Howard Hughes-length nails, I'm talking about probably what some people consider normal length but I don't even like to feel like there is anything there.

So now that you know a couple of my neuroses, on top of whatever else you've been able to discern from reading past posts in this blog, the last thing for today is that I took this online personality test called "Big Five Personality Test" - a set of 50 questions asking me how strongly I agreed or disagreed with various statements. I thought the results were pretty accurate:

Big Five Test Results
Extroversion (28%) low which suggests you are very reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
Accommodation (54%) medium which suggests you are moderately kind natured, trusting, and helpful while still maintaining your own interests.
Orderliness (72%) high which suggests you are overly organized, neat, structured and restrained at the expense too often of flexibility, variety, spontaneity, and fun.
Emotional Stability (64%) moderately high which suggests you are relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.
Inquisitiveness (60%) moderately high which suggests you are intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.

Yup, sounds like me.. wet noodle. But optimistic and secure in my noodledom.

This particular test was one of many, on this website. I'm going to try a few more of them. Speaking of tests, here's one of the funniest television scenes ever:






Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where's the Beef?

The answer to my title question is, it's in your house! Well, virtually, that is. Monday's Wall Street Journal has an article about an "Adopt-a-Cow" program sponsored by the Hare Krishna.

For $51 per month, you can feed a cow; $108 enables "special care for retired cows who can no longer breed or give milk." More from the plea: "In one selfless stroke, you are sending a valuable message to our children and to a troubled world which sees today's gentle cow as tomorrow's dinner."

For your contribution, you receive photographs as well as updates and an open invitation to visit your foster cow at its Moundsville, West Virginia farm.

It's like the appeals you see in magazines telling you how $X will provide support for a child in a third-world country. Only I don't recall these ads asking for $51 a month; isn't it a lot less? Well, I haven't seen one of these ads in a long time so maybe inflation has caused the figure to go up.

Now just exactly how do we know which cow is which? They could be sending everyone a picture of the same cow. Maybe they can add a personal touch by sending over a pint or quart of milk from your bovine as a way of saying thanks. Or down the road maybe a refrigerated truck will pull up in front of your house with packages full of steaks and roasts and other cuts. Yeah I know, that was sick humor but I couldn't resist.. in fact I can't stop.

Just think of the stuff you have in your house that you can have people save from extinction. In the upcoming days I will be posting pictures of some old clothes that for only $5 per month I will wash and iron ($10 if you want me to actually wear these items), and pictures of CD's that for $3 per month I will play on a regular basis.

Okay, well I really shouldn't make fun of such an admirable cause. If enough people participate and this really gets off the ground it will have a significant impact upon the fast food industry. No more super-size meals. No more Carls Jr. overkill. Portions will be back within reason.




Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Wish

Today I was thinking about things I used to have that I wish I still had.. stuff I wish I hadn't given away or thrown away or sold or lost. So here's my list:

My big box of Lego - Lego is sooo expensive these days. I had a giant box. That was way back before they made round pieces. Everything was red, white or yellow, and there was one blue piece. And everything was square or rectangular.

Erector Set - real steel with nuts and bolts and a really powerful motor. It also came in a sturdy metal box. I can imagine how much something like that would cost in today's dollars.

Heathkit Electronics Kit - all sorts of electronic components on one big circuit board that I would connect with heavy-gauge red wires. And everything worked!

I think we left those for the people who bought our old house on 36th street. Lucky kids..

My old Schwinn bicycle. Back then Sting Rays were the rage but my dad wouldn't buy me one. Instead he modified the 24" beach-cruiser-type bike I had by adding gooseneck handlebars and a tuck and roll seat. I used to use clothspins to hold playing cards on the frame next to the wheel to make a motorcycle sound when the cards flashed against the spokes. I used that bike through high school then I think my dad gave it away or sold it. That was one solid bike.

My set of Camco drums. Sigh.. why did I sell those??

My loud purple Hawaiian shirt that I had when I worked in the student store at UCLA. That was my favorite shirt. I got lots of comments about how loud it was, haha.

My Dynaco A25 speakers. I'd like to listen to them now and see how they compare to modern-day speakers.

The "journals" (guys don't keep diaries) I kept from 1977-early 80's that I wound up throwing away one day because I didn't want to read them anymore. What a mistake. I wrote tons of stuff in them.

On the other hand, I had quite a collection of National Lampoon magazines - nearly every issue from 1970 through 1979. I thought one day I'd pull them out and read them but I guess times have changed because I realized I was never going to take a good look at them. So off to E-Bay they went. The most interesting thing was looking at the ads from back then.

Anyway, that's my list of stuff. I'm sure I will think of more relics I wish I had kept, but the ones above came to my mind right away. Oh yeah - one more thing - that big chocolate bar I hid under the bed, lol.. back when I was a little nappy head boy.




Monday, June 22, 2009

Dad's Day

It was a nice, relaxing Father's Day. I had lunch with Katie at Twoheys and Greg called in the afternoon. I don't see or hear from them that often so it is always good when I do. As for my dad, we had a lunch celebration with him at Keiro on Saturday. So it was a nice dad's weekend.

When I was little, I think it must have been before I started going to school, my dad worked a swing shift. He'd leave for work around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and I'd be asleep by the time he returned.

Every day when he left I would stand by the front window and wave to him as he backed out of the driveway and he'd wave back as he drove off. That was our ritual.

One day I decided not to wave. There was no reason for it, I just decided not to. My mom asked me, "Aren't you going to wave goodbye to daddy today?" I shrugged and said no, not today. "Why not?" I had no reason. But the more she asked me, being the contrary little fool I was, the more resolved I was not to go to the window and wave.

Well, after that my goodbye wave became more sporadic until finally I just stopped altogether. And by then I felt like I couldn't start waving again because I had already cut it out.

I've always wondered what my dad thought when he looked for me at the window and I wasn't there. I wondered if he felt hurt about that. Now I wonder if that is something he remembers, or if it is something that stayed with him through the years. I've never asked. I think about that every once in a while, but it hasn't come to my mind when I've been with him.

Funny the things that stay with you over the years - waving goodbye, hiding chocolate under the bed..





Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chocolate

This past week a new Henry's store opened in Monrovia. Owned by the same company that owns Smart & Final, it's supposed to be a sort of Trader Joe's, only larger. Or a sort of Whole Foods, only smaller (and cheaper).

We went to go have a look on Friday. The smallish parking lot was overflowing so we parked on the street. The store itself was crowded.

After walking up and down the aisles, all I can say is Trader Joe's has nothing to worry about. I've never set foot in a Whole Foods market so I can't comment on that, but I found Henry's to be pretty boring. And not cheap, either. Aside from the grand opening specials, everything seemed pretty expensive to me.

Trader Joe's has a more interesting selection of products and at better prices. That's my short review.

Changing subjects..

I sent an e-mail to Alan thanking him for inviting us to the event last Thursday (see yesterday's blog post) and received a reply back. This has nothing to do with the event but I started laughing when I read this part of his message:

Remember when you used to hide chocolate under your bed? I remembered that yesterday and laughed.

Yes, I sure do remember that but I didn't remember letting anyone know about it! I had gone to the movies and bought one of those big Hershey bars and sneaked it into the house, then hid it under my bed so my mom wouldn't confiscate it and dole out small portions to me.




Saturday, June 20, 2009

Event

Thursday evening Julie and I had the pleasure of attending the Robert Toigo Foundation 2009 Gala, celebrating the organization's 20th anniversary.

How did we mere mortals get so lucky? Courtesy of my old junior high buddy whom I've mentioned before in this blog, Alan Jones. His firm was one of the event's sponsors, purchasing a table seating 10 as a "silver sponsor." I checked out the Toigo website and noted that a silver sponsor table went for a cool $20K.. $2,000 per seat.

The purpose of the Foundation is an admirable one - to enable minorities to get into the field of finance by providing them with financing and mentoring. A pretty odd pairing comprised the emcees for the evening: Dan Rather and Cedric the Entertainer. A special award was given to Magic Johnson for his contributions to the Foundation.

The event, held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, began with a "networking reception" at 6:00, followed by dinner at 8:00 and then a post-event party that we didn't attend because it was too late.

We had an enjoyable time. Alan knows a lot of people in the financial world. As Julie and I were leaving, he told us, "Now you know what my life is like." He was there before the event, and though we were the last at our table (besides Alan) to leave, he had to stay around and mingle/network through the post-event party.

Here's some pictures (click to enlarge):

Cedric the Entertainer


Magic Johnson


Part of our table (the other 4 had left already)


That's Alan on the left side. Both he and I spent a large part of our time back at Foshay in orchestra. He played the double bass and I played a squeaky violin. He told me he still has that same bass. Mrs. Bicknell, our teacher, told him to take it home when he graduated because the music program was going downhill and she wanted a good home for it. Hey, she didn't let me take my violin home! Probably wanted to spare some people a lot of suffering, I suppose. I'm sure that bass was well cared for all these years; Alan is one of the most honest, upstanding persons I've ever known and he hasn't changed a bit except for being even taller now so it's good that he was sitting down in the picture.

I thought about what he said at the end - back in our Foshay days could we have ever imagined a day like Thursday? Forty years ago we went our separate ways and it wasn't until a couple of months ago our paths crossed again. I'm sure that got us both thinking about all the what if's since that time.

Anyway.. I'm just rambling here. I'm glad that after all these years, Alan and I could see each other again. And Michael, too (wrote about that in an earlier blog post --- actually TWO Michaels, although one I haven't seen yet). And John Jones - if ever for whatever reason you stumble across this blog/post, you had better stop and say hello!





Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vinyl

I grew up listening to records - you know, the discs made of vinyl with grooves on them that were the main source of recorded music prior to CD's becoming popular.

When I got my first CD player I thought CD's were great - no more ticks, pops and hiss from the records, no more distortion from the turntable needle not being able to handle the groove cuttings in the records, no more warps, plus a more compact way of storing them.

But there's a significant group of people who remain fans of vinyl, insisting that records sound better than CD's. The latter sound cold and sterile they say, characteristics of the digital domain as opposed to the warm, inviting nature of analog pressed in plastic.

When I think back on the many records I listened to over and over and over, not only have I memorized the songs themselves but also the ticks and pops and distortion points caused by the records, too. I don't need the first few notes to tell you what a particular song is, just play the lead-in groove on the 45 RPM record and I can tell you the song just by hearing the noise in the grooves.

Do you know why some people say CD's sound sterile? Because there is no background noise on a CD. It's silent. Not like the constant groove noise that I think some people consider "warmth" existing on a vinyl record. It's just like people who have to have the television on all the time even if they are in another room.

I can't tell you how many records I have bought that were warped or had static and other surface noise on them, or had distorted sound because the needle didn't track the grooves properly. Why would I want to hassle with that all over again?

You can probably tell my vote is for the CD when it comes to audio quality.

Still, the argument of vinyl LP recording versus CD is never going to be settled conclusively. It is a matter of opinion. Plus there are those who think the good old days were always better, whether or not they really were. They feel that having a record on a turntable means being an audio purist.

Get people of opposing opinions together on one of the audio forums and it leads to stuff like this:







Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tenure

Here's my rant for today: why should anyone have tenure in their job position? It only benefits the person who has tenure - a perk of the job - but what is the point? Does it promote excellence in anything? All it does is keep the incompetent from being removed and replaced.

The president of the United States doesn't have tenure. Neither do any of the CEO's of our big corporations, thank goodness. Why should lame teachers and professors enjoy such a status?

I'm not saying that all tenured people are lame but then if you are good at what you do, then why would you need tenure in the first place?

Back in college I remember suffering through some classes while we all wondered, why do they let this person teach??? And there's no point in filling out evaluations at the end of the quarter because no matter what you say, it makes no difference. I had one professor who, as he paused to think of what to say next, rested his finger inside of his nose. Granted, his finger wasn't active but couldn't he find a better place to park it?

Here is someone who has tenure: Kim Jong-il. Chairman Mao had it. So did Fidel Castro. Those are great arguments for tenure, aren't they? I know I sound like Andy Looney from 60 Minutes today but when you think about it, what is the point of granting tenure to employees and making them invulnerable? Your performance should be what bullet-proofs you, not seniority or politics.

Employees should not be invincible.




Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Was Wr..

Back in 2004 when the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA finals, and then soon after Shaq was traded and Phil Jackson quit, I vowed never to support the Lakers again. I thought they were incredibly stupid to sacrifice so much in order to keep that spoiled brat Kobe Bryant. All I could picture in my mind was his whining, pouting face during the finals as he complained about not getting his hands on the ball enough.

I said I hoped the Lakers would never win another game, much less see another playoff.

Well here it is 2009 and they are now the world champion Lakers, as attested to by the numerous car-rocking incidents taking place in points east of Los Angeles.

So how do I feel about it now?

I'm like the Fonz; I can't admit I was wro... wr.. I can't even say the word. But in retrospect, I think the Lakers had to gamble that Kobe's character would mature to match his ballplaying abilities, and that he had more potential ahead of him than did Shaq. I hated that they lost Phil Jackson but he returned so they really didn't lose him.

Meanwhile, I have to say that Kobe has really turned around his attitude. During the playoffs this year, he was absolutely incredible. I've gone from hating him to admiring him. Yes, he knows he is incredible but he has also gotten much more humble and has become a team player.

One thing I noticed about him - he never gives up. I think there are situations in which the smartest thing to do is to give up, like when your life is endangered or something like that, but that doesn't apply to the basketball court. He's always hustling, always putting in a total effort to win the game and never lets anything rattle his confidence. He doesn't get psyched out. Someone comes on strong against him, he comes back stronger. I'm thinking if we apply that same attitude towards everything we do, how much could we accomplish?

No song like "eye of the tiger" or "we are the champions" today. Those are ugh. (I always thought there should be a song called "eye o' the salmon." Don't ask me why.. I just thought that was kind of funny.




Monday, June 15, 2009

Recital

The other night we went to a piano student recital. Afterwards I was talking to the mother of several of the kids who participated and found out she went to the same high school as Greg and Katie, Mark Keppel. I told her I had gone to Dorsey; she thought about that for a moment then asked if that was around the Crenshaw area.

"That's right," I told her. I mentioned how she had probably heard about my alma mater on the news whenever there was talk about school violence or riots.

"They have a good football team, don't they?" she asked.

"Yes, even better in the parking lot after the game."

Then she reminded me that Keppel was also on television a few years ago, used as a prime example of why a bond measure desperately needed to be passed by the voters. Pathetic scenes of classrooms filled with holes in the walls at that school plastered the commercial.

Her oldest son was showing some of the other kids his high school yearbook, a really nice one. Filled with color pictures.

"Nice yearbook," I said.

"It should be. It cost $120. Actually $110 if you bought it the first day and got a $10 discount."

$110??? The mom and I reminisced about yearbooks from our respective times. She said hers was $40. Her respective time was quite a few years after my time; I think the Dorsey yearbook cost something like $15? I don't remember, but relatively speaking it was pretty cheap. But then the one from my graduation year had one color picture. Or maybe two. But that's it. Comparing yearbooks, ours was really sorry.

From the three years I was there, I remember seeing a picture of some white kids in one of the yearbooks. Since they were no longer native to the area by that time, I asked someone if those were "Apex" students (i.e., bussed-in white kids).

"Apex? Those aren't students. That's Cream!"

"Oh. Well they all look alike," I responded.

Our Foshay junior high yearbooks were even worse. During my graduation year the trailer holding the individual pictures burned down. So everyone took a picture with their homeroom. No names to match to the faces, and you had to go searching through each homeroom picture to find people. Since they were group photos, it was difficult finding anyone.

But despite the yearbooks being of less than stellar quality, I'm glad I still have mine. No matter how expensive they may be, it is worth buying because you'll always have it to look back upon.

Here's some pictures from that yearbook (click to enlarge).


In the above picture, that's me in the front row hiding my hands. Two doors to the left is Leslie Higaki, someone I knew back from elementary school but I don't know what happened to her after junior high. Actually, I don't even remember her being in my homeroom! Then up and to the right was my best buddy Alan Jones, and standing to the left of him is Danny Quon. Danny's sister Eileen goes to the same church as me. I just happened to find out one day that Danny is her brother when she mentioned she had gone to Foshay and so did her brother. "What's his name?" I asked.


That's Jane Kuwata and Keith Honda in the picture above (I assume I don't have to tell you which ones they are).


I think the guy in the middle is James Wong. I think.. it looks like him but the picture isn't very good so I am not sure. And the girl on the left in the front row - I can't remember her name. See, that's what's so bad about not having individual pics or having the names of people listed because after all these decades the brain cells are fizzled! But I do remember the girl on the right in the front row, though.. that's Lena Wong.

I happened to run into Lena a few years ago at of all places a funeral. She recognized me but I didn't recognize her. Her sister Doris was there, too. Doris was one of those 9th graders that looked like a grown-up when my buddy JT and I were in the 7th grade, and one of those girls we would look at and exclaim how "fine" they were, haha.. At the lunch in Chinatown afterwards I sat with the two sisters and we caught up on old times. I told Lena I had a crush on her in junior high, which surprised her because I had kept it such a secret. There was something liberating about finally revealing that to her after all those years, I guess because there was nothing riding on it and we could laugh about it now.




Saturday, June 13, 2009

Special Edition

I suppose most, if not all of you have heard about the disputed election in Iran and the resulting violence and riots that have erupted as a result.

If you ask me, this just goes to show how uncivilized and savage that country is, and how lucky we are to be in America. Disgraceful. For example:


Oh uh, wait.. That was a picture taken in Los Angeles after the Lakers won game 4 of the NBA finals over Orlando on Thursday.

Never mind!

Saturday Morning

I guess I am somewhat behind the times but I just found out that remastered versions of a bunch of Beatles albums are due in September. Albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road, the White Album, etc. will be released and will also be combined in one giant box set, cost as yet to be announced.

After all these years can the Beatles generate that much excitement? I think so.

I kind of forget about them since you don't hear them mentioned that much anymore, but when I find myself in times of trouble.. uh, that is, when I go back and listen to their music, it was not just a product of the times or Beatlemania or a passing fad; they had genuine genius-level talent and their music reflected it.

I remember wearing out the grooves on 45 RPM's of She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand while wearing this really cheap Beatles wig my sister bought me that I could only keep on my head for a few minutes because it was so itchy and hot.

I remember watching their cartoon series on Saturday mornings. The cartoons themselves were pretty horrible but the music was the real thing.

I remember long discussions with Michael Jones about whether or not their records actually contained clues about Paul being dead. I couldn't play the records backwards on the turntable so I recorded it on reel-to-reel tape and turned it around in such a way to make the songs play in reverse. And we listened to them and heard what other people were saying they heard. Now who would have even thought to do something like that in the first place? I always thought the Beatles were the ones who started the rumors to play a joke on their fans.

If you are an oldie like me, think back on all of the Beatles songs you have listened to over the years and what masters they were in the art of rock and roll. I'm really excited about the pending release of the remastered albums. I hear there is going to be a box set in stereo and one in mono, the way they were first released. I would like to get both of them but depending on the cost, I intend to get at least one. It would be nice to just sit down and replay all the songs that make up a big part of my life's soundtrack.

There's no other group that can compare to them.




Friday, June 12, 2009

On My Shoulders

If you're a Laker fan, you can thank me for their game 4 win last night against the Orlando Magic.

Yes, that's right, I am responsible. I started watching the game in the 2nd quarter and saw the Lakers go into halftime down by 12. But they picked it up in the 3rd quarter, caught up and took the lead by the time the quarter had ended. Quite a feat.

I'll tell you the secret - it is because I sat there frozen in a particular position that the Lakers launched their comeback.

Then I got up after the 4th quarter was underway and went to do a few things on the computer. Julie shouted out that the Lakers are going to lose because they blew their lead and Orlando was ahead by three points.. then five points.

I figured enough is enough, I had to go back out there and start watching again to put Los Angeles back on the map. And so I did, sitting in my favorite Ikea easy chair with my legs crossed, left over right, and waited for the Lakers to regain the lead.

Sure enough, they did. Well actually they didn't, but they tied it up with Derek Fisher's amazing 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime. Look, I can't work miracles you know. Just getting them back to tie and then into OT was a heavy burden. I didn't move an inch waiting for overtime to begin. Things didn't look too good with the Magic opening it up with a 3-point play but I had no qualms about that. I just sat maintaining my same posture, waiting for the Lakers to take over.

Which they did. Finally with the Lakers up by eight points and a few seconds to go, I relaxed, uncrossed my legs and got up from my easy chair. Another game had been saved. I was just doing my job. I think I'll be recovered by the time game 6 rolls around to do it again, too.




Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who's There?

I often wonder just who reads this blog of mine. And, why do they (you) read it? What do I write that could be of interest to anyone, anyway?

That said, there are two blogs I read that are written by people I don't know. After having read their blogs for a while I feel like I know them, however. Why do I read their blogs? There is nothing particularly exciting about them; they just write about what is going on in their lives. Somehow I find it interesting enough to keep checking for updates so maybe that's the case with people reading this blog.

Katie introduced me about one of them, a Xanga blog written by a 75-year-old man. Apparently lots of people read it besides us because he always has lots of props and comments. All he does is write about what happened to him that day. Nothing much eventful but somehow I am compelled to visit each day to see what's new.

He's even nice enough to send me notes now and then to thank me for leaving a comment or just to see how I am. That makes me feel bad because I use a fake name and profile over there. I only signed up so I could read that guy's blog and leave comments. Here is my Xanga profile picture and selected info (click to enlarge):


I even worry about the guy when he misses posting for a day or two. Being that he's so old, I find myself hoping he didn't get injured or something like that. Crazy, huh?

Then I thought about how I used to love reading Jack Smith's column in the L.A. Times. No wild adventures or action, just slices of life as he saw them but written in such an engaging style he kept me and lots of others coming back each day to see what was new with him.

Anyway.. whoever you are, go ahead and leave some comments! Or lurk or whatever... I never wrote to Jack Smith but if he was still around I'd probably be sending him e-mails. Yup, before there was blogging, there was Jack Smith.





Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Down and Out

We were just about to go to lunch on Sunday when all of a sudden a grating, scraping sound began emanating from my computer.

"What's that noise?" Julie asked.

It didn't sound very good. I thought maybe something had fallen into one of the fans inside the case. Not wanting any damage, I used the power button to shut it down. As you might imagine, during lunch my mind was preoccupied thinking about what the problem was. At first I thought it was a fan but then it occurred to me that it was probably the hard drive.

Sure enough, the noise was the death rattle of the main drive I use. It operated long enough for me to copy my data and settings to another drive before it finally conked out. During that time it didn't make those horrible scraping noises like it did at first, but it kept buzzing quite loudly. Not very healthy, that's for sure.

So from the time we came back from lunch, I spent a good part of the day and evening restoring everything - reinstalling Vista and all the software programs and making sure all the data was back in place. What an ordeal! At least nothing was lost.

Today (Monday) at work I received a pleasant surprise. One of the guys in the warehouse brought a couple of boxes into my office. Boxes with bottles of wine inside. I looked at them and said they must be for someone else because I hadn't ordered anything and wasn't expecting any packages. He checked the label again and said no, it had my name on it.

Turns out a winery had sent me eight sample bottles because of my other blog, the one about wine that I hardly ever post to anymore. I guess my infrequent posting over there didn't bother the winery because they sent it anyway. Not too shabby. I've gotten a couple of bottles plus some books to review so there are some benefits to writing a wine blog.

Anyway, it is good to have the computer back up and running. Without one I feel so out of touch; without one I can't watch stuff like this:






Sunday, June 7, 2009

Karma

First off, I started Saturday at my favorite store (Costco) but have nothing to report in the way of anything interesting. I did buy a couple more boxes of Martha Stewart chicken slab pies because the price ends in a "7." Lest you think that is some feng-shui thing and I bought it because that connotes auspicious high prosperity good luck good fortune, the truth is that I found out any Costco price that ends in a "7" (or maybe it is a "97") means it is a closeout item and they don't plan on restocking it. So I am going to stockpile these slab pies with that in mind. They still had plenty of them today. Of course, who knows - next week they could be gone and then wind up at that store where all the prices end in "99."

Also, if you like strawberries, the ones they had today looked really nice.

From the library today I picked up all five discs from I Spy, season 3. Of its three short seasons, that's my favorite one. Michael Jones and I used to pretend we were Alexander Scott and Kelly Robinson - we'd walk around acting like secret agents while imitating that pair's banter.

A different Michael left a comment on yesterday's post about another pair of people I used to work with who are now getting sued by the U.S Government for fraud. He left a link to the song "Instant Karma."

Actually what I wrote about wasn't an instance of instant karma, it was more a case of 30-year karma. But karma is karma. It's like Candid Camera - when you least expect it.

Their attorneys have vehemently denied all charges and proclaimed the innocence of their clients. Well, what are they supposed to say? Have you ever heard of a defendant's attorney saying otherwise? I don't know why the media even bothers to ask the attorney to comment. That's like sportscasters who ask a player if they want to win their next game.

All I can say is, character speaks volumes. That is why these accusations of fraud against the two do not surprise me in the least. Either of them would be just as much at home ripping off senior citizens with the latest telemarketing scheme. That's just the kind of persons they were and I doubt they are any different now.

Think about the people you know - friends, family, coworkers.. you know which ones you can trust and the ones you can't.

And then there's Yoko.. she trusts her fingers, lol.. (see the video)







Friday, June 5, 2009

I Knew You When

Today it was announced that the SEC is filing a civil lawsuit against three former executives of a company that I shall keep nameless, but let's just say it was the nation's largest mortgage lender before it was bought by B of A and its name begins with a "C."

I won't name the executives either, but today's post is about two of them. I used to work with them a long time ago - we were in the same firm together in the early 1980's. I'll just refer to them as "DS" and "ES."

What were they like back then? Well, let's just say I am not surprised that they are being sued. One incident with ES says volumes about his character:

I rode with him to Shakey's after a company softball game. He rolled into the parking lot and pulled into a handicap parking space.

"Isn't this a handicapped space?" I asked, thinking maybe he didn't notice.

Silence.

"Uh, this is a handicapped space," I pointed out, since he didn't say anything.

"Yes it is," he said as he got out of the car. "Let's go in." I stood there looking at him but he was already walking into the pizza parlor.

I don't know if his buddy (they were good buddies back then) DS parked in handicapped spaces too, but they both shared the same kind of character. Basically, neither of them had any scruples.

Now I bring this up because reading the article today brought back memories and I was thinking how odd it would have been in those days to know what it would all come down to on June 4, 2009, capping the entire downfall of that huge company they helped run.

In a later job, I worked with someone who knew the CEO (whom I will call "AM") of this mortgage lender where my former cohorts worked. In fact, he and AM used to be roommates before AM started up his venture. Jim told me that the two of them would talk until all hours of the night about the mortgage business. Back then I thought, wow, did you take a wrong turn somewhere. Here your ex-roomie is the CEO of a large company and you're working here in the loan servicing department.

Me, I used to think about my own self - these guys I used to work with are making millions, and here I am making relative peanuts. Just like Jim.

I don't know what happened to Jim but I imagine wherever he is, he must have read the news today too, and spent some time reflecting on the past just like I did.

Maybe we missed out and maybe we didn't.




ps - I always get a kick out of the above video. It's the 60's answer to Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Retiring Life

I had lunch with Mike, my friend and also dentist, today. I told him my big dream is to retire at the same time the mortgage on our house does, in five years. He told me that he wants to keep working and not retire at all.

Talk about opposing viewpoints! Wouldn't I get bored? He asked. Nope. Never. When left to my own devices I never get bored even if I am doing nothing, because it would be my choice to do nothing - as opposed to having nothingness imposed upon me.

My goal: to have an empty calendar. A clean slate, nothing about which to be apprehensive. Yes I know that sounds weird, but knowing that there is something on the schedule gives me anxiety and I just want to get it over with. For example, a webinar I attended on Tuesday. It was just an innocuous little webinar in which I only had to listen and not contribute but the idea of it hanging over my head knowing it was taking a chunk out of the day, however minor, left me anxious.

This just goes along with how I could never enjoy Sundays when I was in high school because I knew the next day was Monday. Me, I'd like every day to be Saturday. Saturday with a clean slate, that is.







Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Three Little Pigs

Actually it isn't really three little pigs but three little jars of the latest rage, Bacon Salt:


I never heard of this product until I checked out the Amazon.com deal of the day last week and saw the offer of 20% off on all Bacon Salt products. I love bacon so I had to take a look. There were jars of Baconaisse (bacon-flavored mayo spread), bacon salt with various flavors like cheddar or jalapeno, and even bacon-flavored lip balm. Apparently everyone is abuzz about bacon.

Next I took a look at the J&D website, the two partners who produce all this bacon ware. Bacon salt is actually a vegetarian product and is kosher to boot. So is the baconnaise. After studying the ingredients, I decided to order a three-pack of the "natural bacon salt" because it didn't have any MSG. All the other flavors, including the original, did. It was $10.69 for three jars, minus 20% off for being the deal of the day and I got charged $8.49. Not too bad considering the same thing costs about $4 per jar in the stores.

But is it any good?

The UPS guy dropped it off on the porch today. I tried a bit and yes, it does taste like bacon! Duh, bacon is full of salt so of course it should taste like bacon, right? It tastes like smoky bacon. The only thing is, while it is vegetarian and kosher and calorie-free and all that, nevertheless the main ingredient is salt so you need to be careful and watch your intake. Given that caveat, it does make a pretty decent bacon substitute and is a whole lot easier than putting up with fat splattering all over the place as you try and fry up a batch to satisfy that craving.




Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dynamics

Normally I sit at my desk and munch my lunch but today a couple of coworkers and I planned to go out. One of them usually works from home, that home being way out in Rancho Cucamonga so I rarely see her but today she was here for a meeting and the two of us and another cohort decided it would be a good day to go to lunch together.

A little bit past noon I got up to go meet them. The woman in the office next to me asked, "You going to lunch?"

"Uh huh."

"Who are you going with?"

"Tammy and Jennifer."

"No one ever asks me to go to lunch."

"Uh, well, uh, you're invited too, if you want to go. You never go to lunch with anyone so I just assumed-"

"Where you going?"

"Corner Bakery -"

"I'll go with you! And I just happen to have these coupons for $3 off!" She waved the pile of coupons we had received in the mail. "I'll drive over there and meet you because I have to stop at my house for something afterwards." Then she picked up the phone, called Jennifer to let her know she was coming and that she had a "surprise" for her and Tammy.

I went to meet Tammy and Jennifer to drive over to the lunch spot. I explained what happened. "What could I say?" I pleaded my case.

"Why didn't you tell her that Mike was coming, too?" They said. She doesn't care for Mike.

"I didn't think fast enough."

It's not that we don't like this person or that it was an unpleasant lunch; you know how it is when you plan something and then things change at the last minute. You're expecting one thing and get another. The last-minute addition likes to, um, orchestrate things (i.e., control freak).

I thought about how this was a good example of group dynamics. The conversation would have taken a completely different route had it just been the original three of us.

Isn't that always the case, though? Think about how the tone of a group changes depending on who is there and who isn't. Like in high school with my good buddies - our conversation varied based on who happened to be there. And whoever wasn't there, well, that's the person we would talk about, haha.

Each person causes a shift in the direction, maybe slight maybe wide, but where you wind up from combination #1 is way different than where you end up from combination #2 or #3 or whatever. Everyone has a role. Think about your own gatherings or get-togethers and the influence of particular people.

Today's YouTube has nothing to do with the rest of the post. It's just a song that came to mind that I bet you probably haven't heard in a long time.










Monday, June 1, 2009

My Old School

This afternoon I headed out to UCLA to watch Katie perform with her Kyodo Taiko group for their spring concert. It turned out very well. I posted some pictures below. I took a lot of pictures but most of them were too dark. The concert was quite enjoyable.






The campus has changed a lot since I attended, and well it should have, considering how long ago that was - too many years to reveal except lets just say that I was there when the best basketball coach of all time was in charge of the team.

Katie seems to have embraced college life very well. She's made a lot of friends and has gotten involved in a couple of organizations with a high participation level. Greg did the same when he was at the Naval Academy.

Compared to them I was a social outcast in my college days. One difference was that I commuted, whereas Greg by necessity lived on campus his entire time, and Katie spent her first two years in the dorm and then got an apartment in Westwood. Their classes had more interaction, I think, just because of the nature of their assignments and also because they were smaller. Many of my classes were in a big lecture hall that enabled me to hide and remain anonymous.

I did work in the student store, though, and met a lot of people during that time. I never really got that close to anyone - there's not a single person I met in college with whom I still keep in touch. I'm not much of a social person, I guess.

I'm thinking maybe I missed out. I wonder how things would have turned out differently had I gotten more involved in campus life. The conclusion I reach is that it is just not me, and that's why I didn't get involved in the first place. Ah, I am so reclusive..