Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Gone By

Wow, another year that has flown by! Got any plans for New Year's Eve? I am running into more and more people who say the same thing we do - we'll be lucky if we're even still awake when midnight rolls around!

Back in my much younger days, I considered it a tragedy if I wasn't out somewhere on New Year's Eve. And to be asleep before midnight? Unthinkable. But these days, to me it is just another day, albeit a good one because the office is only open half day on New Year's Eve and of course, closed the next day. So automatically that makes it cause for celebration.

One particular New Year's Eve always comes to mind - the end of 1971. My folks would not let me use the car because they didn't want me driving that night. For a while it seemed that we'd be stranded at our respective homes but then Rob came through with an invitation to go to his house. I don't remember the means by which we arrived, but there we sat, Duane, Rick, Rob and I, now "out" on New Year's Eve (well, at least not at home, although Rob was), all of us looking at each other wondering what to do since we weren't supposed to drive anywhere. Lucky David, with wheels that night, was out on a date with his girlfriend Joanne.

Since Rob's parents had gone to his uncle's house, he suggested opening a bottle of Cold Duck that was sitting in their refrigerator.

"You sure they aren't going to notice?" we asked him. He assured us that they wouldn't. So he popped open a bottle. Me, I refused to drink because I hated the taste of alcohol and, at least at that time, had vowed not to drink that stuff. But the others had made no such declarations.

Even though a good part of the bottle remained, people started acting silly. It got even sillier until the sobering moment when the phone rang.

"Hello?" answered Rob. "Oh. Nothing. We're just sitting around. Huh? No. Uh, okay. Alright. We'll see you." He hung up the phone. Panic was on his face.

"What's the matter?"

"Oh man, oh man, do I sound drunk?" Rob asked.

"What are you talking about?"

"It was my mom. She said to come over to my uncle's house and have some food."

"So?"

"So then she asked me if we were drinking. How did she know??? Oh man, oh man, did I sound drunk on the phone??"

We assured him that he sounded completely sober. That didn't seem to make him feel much better. "But how did she know we were drinking? She asked if we were drinking anything!"

"She was kidding," I told him. "She must have been joking around with you. If she really thought you were drinking, wouldn't she sound mad?"

"I guess so."

"Well did she sound mad?"

"No."

"Then stop worrying!" Of course it was easy for me to say that since I hadn't had anything to drink. But I was sure that his mom was just joking around with him.

"Oh man, is my face all red?" Rob asked.

"What about me?" Duane asked.

"Me, too," said Rick.

Rob was all worried now. "How are we going to go over there with our faces all red? They're gonna know, they're gonna know!"

"Your faces aren't red," I said. "Stop worrying about that!"

Rob's uncle lived only a few blocks away so he had permission to drive the other family car over there. We all piled in the car, after they ate something to remove any traces of alcohol breath, and then drove very slowly to the uncle's place. We got there, rang the doorbell, went in and no one was the wiser. All I remember once we got there was that I ate a whole bunch of wontons because I have a weakness for those.

Later, Duane told us his parents said it was okay for us to spend the night at his place, and that's what we ended up doing, sans David. The rest of us were landlocked, which, on New Year's Eve, felt especially confining.

It turned out to be a rather quiet New Year's Eve for us. The only real noise came sometime after midnight when the honk of a car horn interrupted the silence.

"What is the matter with that idiot?" I said. "It's not even midnight - it's past midnight so why is he making all that noise?" Soon the honking stopped.

A day or two later we saw David and asked him how his date was. "What's the matter with you guys, anyway?" he said.

"What do you mean, 'what's the matter?'"

"I drove past Duane's house after dropping off Joanne and saw Rob's car parked out there. Didn't you hear me honk the horn? I honked it a few times. Where were you??"

"That was you out there honking the horn?" we asked.

None of us had even thought to look out the window. "We thought you were some drunk jackass celebrating the new year," I said.

And so much for the beginning of 1972.

***

As this year draws to a close, I thought about what the most memorable event was for me in 2009.

Actually, there was no one thing I can point to; instead, I am so happy to have reconnected with so many old friends this year, as well as having made a couple of new ones via this blog and Facebook. That has been extremely rewarding! For that I am truly thankful.





Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day Off

I'm taking vacation days Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Thursday is a half day for the office so no point in taking that day off, especially since I'm going to be working from home, right?

Today (Tuesday) I got the oil changed in my car. I didn't realize it had been so long since the last change - February 28, to be exact, a little over 7,000 miles ago so I was quite a bit overdue. I know they say modern cars require oil changes over longer intervals but to me that means every 5,000 instead of 3,000 miles. It had really been that long??

Then Julie and I went to get our swine flu, er, H1N1 flu shots at Kaiser later in the morning. It wasn't crowded at all. Now I am not saying this in any derogatory sense but I couldn't tell if the person who gave us the forms to fill out was a man or a woman. They had long, curly hair like a woman and also a prominent bosom, but had a voice like a man - not some middle-octave voice that could go either way, but a low voice, and they looked like a man. But I really couldn't tell. Julie said it was a man and I guess if I had to put money on it, I would have said the same thing.

After leaving that confusing situation we went to eat lunch at Jack in the Box where I got my usual tacos. I'm pretty sure many people regard the tacos as a confusing situation as well - what sort of mystery meat is in those tacos, or is it even meat??? Well I ate them anyway but they don't seem to be the same as yesteryear.

Since Julie had to run a few errands this afternoon, I had the whole house to myself and used the opportunity to turn up the stereo nice and loud.

So that was Tuesday.. ah, it is such a nice feeling knowing there's no drive into the office tomorrow!








Monday, December 28, 2009

Brainiac

Today (Sunday) I received an e-mail from a high school friend who happened to run across this blog and has stayed around to read the updates. It started out, "Hi Brainiac." I don't think she was being sarcastic - for some reason she seems to think I was smart back in high school, a recollection that I attribute to the fading of her gray cells resulting in loss of accurate memory.

In the e-mail she used the word nascent. Hmm.. I had to look that one up in the dictionary! Then she referred to the Heidelberg Principle dealing with quantum physics as well as other things that would logically lead one to conclude she's the real brainiac, not me!

So given all that, what bit of esoterica (is that a word?) was the subject of her e-mail?

My blog entry from a short while ago in which I announced I was going to sit down and write something more than just a blog post.

She asked how that was coming along and also gave me some things to be wary of during my so-far futile attempts at writing something. Honestly, what she wrote was more well-written and interesting than anything I've thought of so far!

Yes, I must admit I have really not managed to get past word number one. Well actually I made some false starts but did not feel enthused enough to continue so I trashed what I had written in search of something that felt more right. I have plenty of ideas but have been unsuccessful in committing them to the page.

How's this for my excuse: I am waiting until January 1 so that I can make writing this book (or whatever it turns out to be) my New Year's Resolution.

That's sort of like when someone declared to me the other day that she and a couple of other people were going to go on a diet February 1 of 2010. In the meantime they figured they had better get their fill of sweets and other goodies with gusto before the lockdown.

Well, I do intend to get my brain in gear and put fingers to the keyboard! That hasn't been forgotten. I watch the below video when I need a reminder of how powerful the brain can be:




Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Reality

I tell you, with the Christmas holiday and all, I was getting rather disoriented as far as what day it was. The day after Christmas didn't seem like it was Saturday to me, but I did remember to get back into the swing of things and make my normal weekly trip to Costco! That helped get me oriented again although it reminded me that this is the weekend and not a permanent respite from work..sigh.

It's been a while since I've posted pictures of my Costco purchases so I thought I would return to tradition before the year is over. Here are pictures of all nine items I bought today! When they told me how much it was I thought for sure they made a mistake.. nine items cost THAT much??? But it did..

First off, sorry for the dark picture. Most store-bought tomatoes are all pulpy and cardboardy, except for Costco. These are pretty good when you can't grow your own.

This is a regular staple with us.. nice and mild, and just the right size!

These get chopped up and put into salads.

Haven't gotten these in a while. They were staring at me from the case so I took one out and put it in the cart. So easy to heat up and they are pretty good.

This was a new item. I looked at the back to see how many calories were in it and the other nutritional info, and wasn't horrified so I put it into the cart. I had trouble finding a small size, though (they come in different weights). Just the thing for lazy cooks!

Here is something that has a lot of enemies, but we like them. Did you ever see When Harry Met Sally? Do you remember the married couples that they interview in the movie? I always thought that the woman of the Asian couple they interviewed resembled one of these. If you don't understand what I mean, just watch the movie and then you will.

This is the most nutritious bread they have at Costco. Normally I would buy the Kirkland brand but this one has better stats. It's also more expensive, but what the heck.

These Honeycrisp apples are also the most expensive variety at Costco ($9.99 per dozen) but they are soooo good. Really crunchy and sweet but not cloying, with just the right texture. They look good, too. I hate mushy apples! The thing is, a lot of apple varieties look alike and one time I picked up a carton of Jonagolds thinking they were Honeycrisp. What a mistake.. now I check the labels very carefully.

And item #9, some vino. I had to have the guy do a price check because there was no price label. He said this just came in last week. I'm a Pinot Noir fan.

And that was this week's trip. Now let me ask you, do you like looking at the stuff people buy at the store? Seems boring, but you know, if you posted pictures from your shopping excursion, I think I'd be interested. I guess I am just nosy but I would find it interesting to see what other people buy. That doesn't mean I am walking around at Costco staring into other people's carts, or nosing around when I am waiting in line. But put them up on a web page and I'd probably be looking at them for whatever reason.

Finally, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a Christmas present and I thought this was pretty clever, as well as funny:

(it's a pillow)






Friday, December 25, 2009

O Holy Night

Most likely Jesus wasn't really born on December 25, or even in the winter. It would have been much too cold for shepherds to have been tending flocks at night during that time of year.

But, He was born at night - this we know because of the star that led the Magi to the manger where Jesus was born. True, we don't know the exact day Christ was born but celebrating that event on December 25 sounds fine to me because indeed it is cause for celebration.

When I think back on all my Christmas memories, one that comes to mind each year is when the kids were little and I took them to see the towering trees on St. Albans in San Marino. Each year the fire department hangs lights on the huge Christmas tree-shaped pines lining the spacious block and at night it's such a beautiful sight to behold.

This particular Christmas was very cold (for Southern California, anyway) but Greg and Katie wanted to get out and get a closer look at the trees and their lights. I think they were 7 and 4, going on 8 and 5 and they were so fascinated, they kept running up and down the block checking out each tree, staring up in wonder despite my telling them to hurry up and get back in the car because it was so cold.

Well as cold as it was, it was worthwhile - it made for a much better experience and memory than had we stayed in the car and done our admiring through the windows. The magnificent trees with their sparkling lights, the chilly weather, and the infinite black sky with its infinite sparkling lights made for a truly memorable time.

When it is taking place you don't think about how something will become one of those treasured memories - simple, but lasting.

May Christmas joy be with you all, the whole year round.




Merry Christmas!

Today is not Thanksgiving but it is indeed a day to give thanks. I have so many things for which to be thankful, and especially for the greatest gift of all that we celebrate on this day, Christmas.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. -- Isaiah 9:6

When Jesus died on the cross He was thinking of you. He IS the Reason for this SEASON !

I wish you a merry, happy and blessed CHRISTmas!








Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miscellany

Here's just a bunch of random thoughts from today..

First, I was about the throw away the empty box of Oreo cookies we got for our choir lunch on last weekend when I noticed a little disclaimer written in the corner below the picture of the cookie. Here's the box; I also put a normal-sized spoon next to the cookie for perspective purposes.


In case you can't read the fine print disclaimer in the corner, here it is magnified. Enlarged to show detail, it says. That made me laugh because somewhere in this world is someone who complained that box was misleading because the cookies inside the box were nowhere near as large as what was shown on the box!

I'm sure that this must be the California-only version of the box.

Next up, I was reading a message board post in which someone wrote something that I always have to tell myself: It is what it is. Or to put it a slightly different way, Things are what they are.

Like when I hesitate to record the amount of something I just purchased online because it is expensive and I don't want to show a dent in my finances.. but the thing is, it's there whether or not I record it! Or like when I stand on the scale and then think that exhaling as much as possible is going to change the result. Nope, it is what it is, and that's that.

Today when I was running, this girl passed me. Now I'm not trying to be sexist by insinuating that a girl can't run faster than me but this one had these big, sturdy legs and she didn't really look like someone who runs a lot. That's what I noticed as she went past. So I was thinking, how can she run that fast but she doesn't really look like she is putting much effort into it? She had this steady, relaxed stride. And here was turtle me, wondering if if I could catch her if I sped up. Well that was a moot point because I was too tired to speed up. Then I wondered if I used to run like her in my previous days. Ah, just getting old, I guess. I watched as she got further and further ahead and then turned the corner. By that time I was back at the house and all I could do was shrug and think about how slow I run these days, haha.. Well what the heck, at least I was able to finish!

Last thing - I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music lately and just wanted to say that it's sad how Karen Carpenter is no longer with us. She had such a pure, angelic voice. Here she is in today's YouTube, singing one of my favorite Christmas tunes. So lovely..









Monday, December 21, 2009

Busy Weekend

Whew, this was a busy weekend. Thing is, Christmas is coming up way too fast to truly enjoy the season. I know I say this every year, but it is true. That's totally unlike my much younger days when it seemed to take forever for Christmas day to arrive. Not so any more - I guess all that wishing I did when I was little to speed up the process is now coming true and is another example of be careful what you wish for.

At least one nice thing: all the Christmas shopping is done! Tonight as we drove back from dinner, around 6:30, there was a long stream of cars heading into the Santa Anita Mall. Haha, suckers! Why'd you wait so long?? Of course now that I said that, I will discover I need to get a last minute gift for someone or other and I will be sitting in traffic estimating in my head how many cycles of the traffic signal will it take before I am in the next section to go.

Keiro celebrated the December birthdays of its residents on Saturday, one of which is my mom's. There was time at the beginning to take pictures, then the birthdays were announced, entertainment was provided by a ukelele group, cake was served, and then a special guest star appeared at the end. I've got it all documented below:

First, here we are gathered around my mom (click on any of the pictures for a larger version):


Next, here is the ukelele band. They also performed last year. I don't know what their name is, though. Maybe some of you recognize some of them?


Here's the blow-out the candle picture.


And another one. They still have some wind left in them because they managed to blow them all out.. after two tries:

That evening Julie and I had our Saturday-night dinner with her side of the family at NBC in Monterey Park. Here's a picture taken by the waiter:

Oh, and here's a YouTube clip of the surprise guest at the Keiro birthday celebration (he was louder than the entire ukelele band, haha..):









Friday, December 18, 2009

Twilatar

At the risk of offending whoever is reading this blog, I have to ask, is it just me or does the newly released Avatar, as well as the currently playing Twilight Saga look like really stupid movies?

I haven't watched either of them but I haven't the slightest inclination to do so after seeing previews on television plus short clips in the news.

The effects in both movies look really poor, if you ask me, like the ones used in movies from the 60's and 70's, pre-Star Wars. And what's with Avatar, featuring multiple Blue Man Groups? I find it astonishing that so many dollars were spent on these productions, too.

It seems like movies have to be filled with more and more special effects and spectacular scenes just to keep the attention of the audience; if it isn't a thrill a minute, no one is going to want to watch it. Or that seems to be the overriding philosophy among the studios - subtlety is for losers.

Everything's gotta hit you like Godzilla.

Last night the news covered the hoopla over the upcoming Friday premiere of Avatar, and they showed several scenes from the movie. Honestly, after looking at those previews, I thought the effects were no better than what you see in the movie below and I bet the movie below is a whole lot scarier!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gifting

So how is your Christmas season going so far? Are you ahead or behind or just right? Me, I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner - next week already!

I think somewhere back in the pages of this blog I wondered out loud (well, in print, anyway) as to just how many books that get purchased also get read. Today, along those lines, I wondered of all the items that are purchased to give as Christmas gifts, how many of them will actually be used by the recipient.

I don't think the volume of returns at the stores is an accurate indicator because a lot of things either aren't worth returning, can't be returned, or the recipient doesn't want to return them for fear of upsetting the giver. And I am sure there is also that portion of gifts that ends up being regifted. My advice for those who do that is to make sure your memory is dependable so that you don't give someone the same gift that they gave you the previous year (as someone did to us one year).

Now what do you think - is it better to ask someone what they would like for a gift, or is it better to surprise them? Personally, if it is going to be something of more than nominal value, I say better to ask and get them something they really like - unless you know them really well and also have been listening to the hints they've been giving, either consciously or unconsciously. The way I look at it, if something is going to be useless to the recipient, then why even bother to give it. On the other hand, if everyone had the same philosophy I did, that would put a lot of stores out of business!

There was one person who for three years in a row gave me the same color polo shirt. On the the third year I happened to mention it to them and they started laughing. "Really? I gave you the same thing two years in a row?"

"Three," I said, updating them. We had a good laugh about that. Heck, I wore them so I wasn't complaining but I thought it was funny. Then someone else would give me the same sort of dressy shirt each year. I finally asked them what made them choose these particular shirts (since I never had occasion to wear them) and was told they buy stuff for me that they like.

Now I am sure I've given my share of unintentional white elephants, so I shouldn't be one to talk. I just thought I'd point out some of the inevitable foibles of Christmas gift giving.





Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back in the SGV

This morning (Saturday) I said farewell to a snowy Utah and arrived in a rainy Southern California. Julie greeted me at the baggage claim area and since this was one of our rare times on the Westside, guess where we went to eat lunch?

I had my usual: two tacos with cheese, a side of rice and a large diet Pepsi. Julie ordered a chicken tamale and declared that the ones you get at Costco are better. I told her no one orders tamales from Tito's. Maybe hers was one of the unsold ones from last year. Or, maybe it came from Costco. She said the salsa that came with it made a positive difference, however, and she also proceeded to put some on her rice and dip her chips in it.

As for my usual Tito's meal, I have to say it was a bit below par because the shell was too crunchy. What I like about their tacos is how the shell is crunchy along the border but as you work your way in, it softens up because of the filling. Well, maybe that isn't a good thing health-wise because that must mean the filling is oily and that's what softens the shell? Regardless, that's how I like mine but this one was crunchy through and through. Maybe I didn't allow enough time for the shell to get soft. Besides, you don't go to Tito's if you are concerned about eating healthy!

I don't know if it was the cloudy weather, but the place was surprisingly uncrowded. We didn't even have to wait in line. Aside from the taco crunch issue, everything was like usual, including the addictive red salsa.

After that, we headed to Costco, this time the one in Alhambra since it was on the way back. Going in the afternoon meant the place was crowded. Today just reinforced the way I feel about that particular warehouse - there are too many irritating, discourteous customers blocking the aisles! Especially the ones grazing and hoarding the free food samples, leaving their cart right in the middle and adding to the congestion!

The lines weren't too long today and so we were able to exit the madhouse fairly quickly and we drove back home. Now I am sitting here in front of the computer, typing this blog with Christmas music playing on the stereo and all is well and back to normal!

Hey, Sunday the 13th is the anniversary of my baptism - 17 years ago. May this be a blessed Christmas season for all of you!




Saturday, December 12, 2009

Way Home

The week went by pretty fast and now it's time to come home! I am typing this Friday night from the Hampton Inn next to the Salt Lake City airport. This is a nice room! Large, with a king bed and a flat screen television. I don't know if it works or not because I haven't tried it yet.

Out this way there is a burger chain that has a fanatical following, much the same as In-N-Out does. It's called Five Guys. There are actually a couple of locations in Southern California, one in Cerritos and one in Carson. And In-N-Outs are popping up all over the place in Utah. Our instructor told us Orem's first one opened just recently and people even camped out overnight to be among its first customers.

People are nuts.

So for lunch today we figured we had to take the taste comparison test and compare Five Guys to our taste bud's memory of In-N-Out.

First of all, the place was crowded. Not as much as a typical In-N-Out plus they don't have a drive-thru with cars backed up down the driveway and up the street, but it was crowded. Service was fast and very friendly - the counter guy patiently explained the menu to us newbies. Basically you order your burger then there are a whole bunch of different toppings you can request at no extra charge - like grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, pickles, etc. The place was also nice and clean. So comparing service and cleanliness, I'd say it's a tie. Menu-wise, Five Guys wins with more variety. The food is ready faster, too, but In-N-Out doesn't cook your food until you order it. I don't know if Five Guys does nor not.

Now price-wise, I have to say Five Guys is downright expensive. A regular hamburger (which is actually a double) is $4.39, and a cheesburger $4.99. A little hamburger (single patty), which is what I had, is $3.39. Fries are $2.59 for a "regular" order which is actually plenty for two very hungry people. A little hamburger combo with fries and a drink will set you back $7.67, a lot more than at In-N-Out. Granted, you get a whole lot more fries in an order at Five Guys, but that's just too much for one normal person to eat, so what's the point?

Now to the taste test: My little hamburger came with grilled onions and grilled mushrooms. It was tasty. The burger was good-sized and tasted home made. No chain flavor here! It came on a good-quality sesame bun with lots of onions and mushrooms. Whereas an In-N-Out patty is sort of masked by the sauce and other toppings, at Five Guys the burger flavor stands out. However, the In-N-Out hamburger is something to be enjoyed because of the synergy of its ingredients; so while Five Guys seems to have a better patty, taste-wise they are both delicious. My two colleagues loved their burgers and had sort of the same opinion as I did - that both places are good but Five Guys has a tastier patty.

Fries: we were unanimous. In-N-Out has better fries. My two colleagues gave the nod to In-N-Out under the condition that the fries be well done. Me, I gave the nod anyway, just regular style. Five Guy's fries look delicious - really delicious - but the texture leaves something to be desired. There is no crunch to them! They look crunchy, but they aren't. The texture is uniform when it shouldn't be. Also, Five Guy's portion is just ridiculous. It is way too big and consequently, you pay $2.59 for it. They should make something smaller because while it is economical to share them with someone, if you are dining alone or taking it out, then there's really way too much to eat.

For overall dining experience, the winner by decision (and not by KO) is In-N-Out. That said, all the major fast food chains could learn a lot from observing either of these two places, because both are miles above your typical McD, Burger King, etc.









Thursday, December 10, 2009

Utah Eat Report

The snow has stopped, at least for today but the cold weather marches on. This morning it was around 5 degrees, with ice on the windshield that wouldn't come off until the car warmed up.

For lunch we went to a chain that is similar in style to Baja Fresh, Rubio's or Chipotle Grill, except it was MUCH better than all three of them combined. It's called Bajio Mexican Grill. Like the others, they tout the fresh ingredients that they use but unlike the others, the food is actually very tasty and well-portioned. Too bad there aren't any of them back home because I am sure they'd be a hit.

Sorry, no pictures but to visit their web site, click here. I also noticed that their takeout menu has the wrong web address. I had to google them to find the right one! (my link goes to the right one, not the wrong one)

For dinner we went to McGrath's Fish House for the third time this week. It's right next to the hotel and with the near-zero weather out here, that sure comes in handy. Not only that, but the place actually has great food at really reasonable prices for fish. I suspect that's where Red Lobster really films their commercials.

When one of the persons in our trio asked if the restaurant served Coke or Pepsi and was told it was "Pepsi," her smirk let the waiter know that wasn't her beverage of choice but then she ordered one anyway. A few minutes later, he came back with a glass of Coke. She asked where he got that and he said he went to the Texaco on the corner and bought one for her. Now can you believe that kind of service? And we're talking about walking not a short distance in 10 degree weather. Quite different from, "No Coke - Pepsi!"

Something else I noticed. There's an In-N-Out on the way to the training location and they're open for breakfast. I don't know what they serve at 8 in the morning but it sure was crowded in there. On the way back from training I also noticed it wasn't the usual crowded, overflowing place you normally associate with In-N-Out and cars weren't lined up out the driveway and down the street. Maybe because it was so cold? But then why the breakfast crowed? There's also a Five Guys out here which I'd like to try since I've read that they have their fanatical fans same as In-N-Out does.

Orem is a pretty nice town but I still can't wait to get back home!




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Computer No-No's

Each of us has our own computer in the training class I am attending here in snowy 17-degree Orem. Here is a little example of what not to do if you use a public or shared computer:

Don't take Windows up on its offer to remember your user name and password!!!

And no, I didn't nose around and read any of this person's messages. Now if it had been Tiger Woods' mailbox I guess I could have had some fun sending out messages under his name..

I just wanted to post pictures of the screen as an example of what not to do on a strange computer!





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Orem had its first big storm of the season that blew in late Sunday night and left a few inches of snow. Actually, this is a pretty modern and clean town. As I told some people today, I heard it rained pretty hard in Southern California today and I would rather be here in the clean snow than in the dirty rain and all those inevitable traffic tieups back home!

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it looked like around lunch time today:




The training itself isn't bad at all. The company headquarters is in a nice, new building and there's only about 12 of us in a training room made for around 40 people. Each of us has our own computer to use.

The advantages to sitting in the back where I am are: (1) I can surf on the net if I get bored or finish the exercises early; and (2) I can see all the people sitting in front of me checking their e-mails, surfing around, etc.





Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Day

Greetings to you all from Orem, Utah! Yes, I am here the entire week for training on this software package that our company just purchased. There's two of us from the office and one other person is flying in on Tuesday.

Julie dropped me off at LAX and we ate at a Panda Express on the way. My fortune from the fortune cookie said, "You will travel to an exotic place." No kidding, it really did!

The plane arrived at Salt Lake City airport half an hour early and we ended up waiting on the runway for 15-20 minutes because there was another plane at our gate. It was 23 degrees when we got in. Thankfully we didn't rent a compact car but instead got this giant Chevy Tahoe that Al Gore would be proud of.

Later on in the evening it was snowing lightly and I am sure it was colder than the 23 degrees it was at 5:00. At least the heater works!

As for the culinary adventures available here, I thought I'd give you an idea by posting a picture from the local Yellow Pages, of the listings categorized by food type. As you can see, they have a lot of Korean restaurants (check it out - click to enlarge).

Well, at least the training begins at 8:30 and is less than 5 miles from the hotel so I can sleep later than usual. The clock is an hour ahead in this time zone. Then I'm hoping to have an early dinner and come back to the hotel to try and get some writing done (so hopefully there's NO homework!).

I really don't like being out of town like this, but oh, well.. I can't wait until Saturday when Julie will be picking me up at the airport!






Friday, December 4, 2009

Dark

Every day I look at Amazon to see what their Gold Box deals of the day are. Today this was one of them:

I clicked on it out of curiosity and found it is a portable nightlight that also serves as a lit companion for little kids. And I guess bigger kids and adults, too. Here's a couple more pictures of it when lit:

Then I clicked on some of the related products, which then took me to more related products. I didn't realize there were so many things like this to provide light at night! I couldn't find anything with an illuminated clown face, however. How'd you like to be sleeping then open your eyes and find one of those staring at you?

Were you scared of the dark when you were little? Or maybe you're still scared of the dark? Take the poll below so we can see where everyone stands.

I went looking on YouTube to find a clip from the ending of Wait Until Dark. I found it, and the particular one I found was taken from Bravo TV's list of 100 scariest movie scenes of all time, that one coming in at number 10.

Naturally I had to peruse the others to see what else made the list and the one posted below, ranked number 8, is the scene I personally would pick as my number one. It scared the dickens out of me the first time I saw it and even though I know what is going to happen, I still had to take a deep breath when I watched it again just now and still it made me jump!

By the way, the opening scene from Jaws where the girl is swimming and the shark attacks her was Bravo's pick for the top spot.. naw, no way.

Anyway, take the poll, then watch the YouTube and then if you'd like, post a comment about what YOU think is the most frightening movie scene of all!



YouTube:






Thursday, December 3, 2009

Writing

I've received some encouraging words from a few people regarding this story or book I have declared I shall write, and for that I'm thankful.

Gee, one person even said they were going to stop writing to me so that I'd have more time to write! Now if they were tired of writing to me, they could have just said so instead of coming up with a reason like that, haha.. well I think that person is sincere and they have indeed been very positive about wanting me to see this labor of love to fruition so I appreciate that.

Now what the heck do I write about? Actually, I have my idea already but trying to begin has vexed me because it just doesn't sound right. So I've decided to begin in the middle instead and then figure out how to start it out.

Here's a special online-only offer for readers of this blog which I may decide to withdraw at any time when I realize what I am doing, but for now if you would like me to send you some drafts as I go along, just drop me an e-mail.

But wait, that's not all! Well, actually it is. That's about all I can say right now because I need to get down to business and really write something, I suppose.






Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Too Big to Carry

Yesterday I went and mouthed (typed?) off about how I am going to start writing a story or a book or whatever and today I was thinking, gee, what did I get myself into? I'm like Pat Riley a few years ago after the Lakers won the NBA championship, announcing on national television that they were going to come back the following year and do it again. Afterwards he said he realized what a tremendous burden he placed on everyone.

But heck, Pat shouldn't have felt the least bit stressed about that. Politicians do that kind of stuff all the time and don't give it a second thought!

For people with scruples, however, things are different.

So lets see.. am I gonna tell you that today I sat down and started writing? Well, uh, no, because I had to write this blog entry and also run some month-end reports for work, and, you get the idea.

Am I going to be like a politician? Tell you, read my lips, no new taxes? Or just go the Nike route and do it? I guess time will tell. There's still room tonight to tap away on the keys and that's what I am going to do now.

Several people have been very encouraging (no one has been discouraging.. at least not yet since they haven't seen any results) and I am very thankful for that!