Saturday, December 31, 2011

smiling dog

Not much to write today. I came across this Youtube which you may have already seen (over 3.5 million hits as of this writing) but just in case you haven't:


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas

I am always surprised (and pleasantly) when I hear "Christmas" mentioned in the media in a positive way. I find it sad that there is so much pressure to eliminate that word from our vocabulary and replace it with the innocuous, oh so politically correct word "holiday." 

True, not everyone is a Christian and not everyone celebrates Christmas but that doesn't negate the fact that Christmas is Christmas. It is what it is. No one forces you to celebrate it and no one should force you not to celebrate it. Or try and change the name. 

It's getting to the point where I am expecting to watch "A Charlie Brown Holiday" on television, featuring the song "Holiday-time is Here" and listening to Linus explain to Charlie Brown what the real meaning of Holiday is towards the end of the show because the PC people have chopped it all up. 

You can wish me a happy Hanukkah or any number of non-Christian celebratory greetings and I will appreciate the thought behind it. I'm not going to lift up my finger and go, uh, excuse me but I don't believe in that.  

What's up next?  The Occupy Christmas movement?  I can just see our current PC president supporting it, too.  This morning I noticed the results of a new ABC poll showed unfavorable views of him have reached a new high. This, despite his self-serving, thinly veiled election campaigning that he did on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. 

Yes, no matter what anyone does, Christmas is still Christmas. That can't be changed and it can't be circumvented despite the best efforts of some.  Thank God for that.  May you all have a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

moving

I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but our office will be moving sometime during the 1st quarter of 2012.  At least that's the plan. The plan also includes finding a location by the end of this month, something that hasn't yet happened.

Today I was talking with our Executive VP who is most anxious to find new surroundings.  If you read the couple of earlier posts I wrote about the dump we currently occupy, you will understand why there's such a rush to get out. 

We were talking about how these days, you can just use Google Earth to take a look at pretty much any address you want. Our EVP recently returned from New York where he was at the headquarters of a dealer in our industry who had really nice offices in a skyscraper.  He pulled up a picture of the exterior of the building using Google Earth. Then he opened another tab and pulled up a picture of our building using the same application.

"Okay, look at these two. If you were a potential customer, which company would you choose?"

Well duh... but I like to annoy people so I pointed to our sorry building and said, "From us.  Because we look like the more humble, down to earth company."  Yes, I enjoy watching people's eyes bulge out and seeing the incredulous look on their face. 

"Uh huh. Humble. Poor and humble."  He shook his head.  "We have to get out of this dump." 

I just laughed. "People come to visit us at our building.  And they just keep on driving." 

We both laughed, but it was a scene filled with pathos. Like, all you can do is laugh.  Well, we can move, too, and that we will be doing as soon as we can find a place.  Then we have to hope we can make more profits from the business than we can from receiving filming fees from shows like NCIS Los Angeles and other productions looking for dangerous venues for their shows. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicago vs. The Band

Way back in high school I had an ongoing feud disagreement with a couple of classmates as to the merits of what was then my favorite band, Chicago, versus their darling, The Band.  I called their band a bunch of hicks and they summarily dismissed my band as the choice of immature popish teenyboppers.

They did have the rock critics on their side - Chicago would get mixed reviews whereas the Band were the darlings of critics everywhere.  But then music critics are the music world equivalent of consultants in the business word.  In other words, people who can't do things for themselves so they make a living blowing their mainly worthless opinions all over the place. 

As Chicago made more and more albums, sort of like the Starbucks of the rock music world in terms of multiplying themselves, I stopped listening to them because they turned into a Las Vegas lounge act. And I also started thinking yes, my foes were correct, the Band was the critically superior group.  Actually, comparing these two groups with such dissimilar musical styles is really apples versus oranges. 

But after all these years, I still love listening to the early Chicago albums (the first 5) and hardly ever listen to The Band (not that I ever did listen to them that much).  The thing is, listening to Chicago is just plain fun.  And it brings back memories of days that were just plain fun, too. You can argue the academics of music day in and day out but, like consultants and politicians, such a thing is worthless, haha..

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Amazon is such a bully

I read in the paper today that brick and mortar retailers are up in arms and complaining about Amazon's newest mobile app - it allows you to scan the barcode of a product or take a picture of it or type or say its name and it will then tell you Amazon's price.  So if you are at a retail store such as Best Buy where everything is overpriced, you can use this app to see what Amazon is selling it for and then buy it from Amazon instead.

Understandably, retailers are angry. Me, I hate shopping.  Aside from Costco and Trader Joe's, I have absolutely no desire to visit any brick and mortar store unless I absolutely need something, and that something is not stocked by Costco or Trader Joe's.  I'd much rather buy it online, and most often that means buying from Amazon.  Why?  Because normally their price is lower, it arrives in two days and there is no sales tax (yes, I know we are supposed to pay use tax on this stuff but I'm just talking about what actually gets paid to Amazon).  Plus it has the convenience of being delivered right to my door.

So why should I go out and hassle with all the crazy drivers out there, and all the crazy people in the stores?  I don't need an app and I don't even have a smartphone on which to use one.  I'd shop at Amazon anyway. 


All the complaints by the retailers just got me thinking, what they need to get used to is that the whole model is changing.  Things went from mom and pop stores to larger, chain stores, that became larger and larger and larger. You had places like Borders and Barnes and Noble that were looked upon as evil (remember the movie You've Got Mail?) because they drove the neighborhood bookstores out of business.  Well, bachi (karma), right?  Now Borders is non-existent and B&N is hanging by a thread because their model was usurped by Amazon who got the jump on online sales. 


Something will eventually come along to further change the model.  If you snooze, you lose.  These retailers have no one to blame but themselves. They should have seen it coming and made adjustments for it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

chocolate cookies

This morning when I got to work I noticed that someone had left a box of cookies (those delicious chocolate-dipped ones Costco sells in the big tins) in the lunch room with a note inviting people to help themselves.

I removed the lid and was greeted by all sorts of temptations. I was also kind of surprised that there were still so many cookies in there, since treats like this tend to disappear quickly in our office.

I decided which one I wanted and picked it up. Or tried to pick it up; it was stuck to the other cookies of its type in its compartment. Apparently the chocolate had melted. So I chose another one but the same thing happened. Same thing happened with the 3rd one.

I was standing there feeling kind of bad because I touched all those cookies and put my germs on them for the next person. I figured they're all melted together so I put the lid back and gave up. Besides, most likely I wasn't the first one who tried what I did and wound up putting their fingers all over the cookies so heck, I didn't want to eat anything someone else had touched already.

That reminded me of a meeting I went to several months ago. Someone brought a package of cookies in a tray. I was watching the person next to me as he slowly picked up one of the cookies, examined it and then put it back into the tray. He did this with several other ones before finally choosing one, leaving behind all of the tainted ones for the next unsuspecting person to select. It left me wondering, what are these people thinking, anyway? Keep your fingers to yourselves!!

That said, I guess I am worse than anyone. When I was about 4 or 5 my dad took me to the Christmas lunch party at his office. The food included trays of bread and lunchmeat to make your own sandwiches. I picked up one of the rolls and took a bite from it to see what it tasted like. I didn't really care for it so I put it back on the tray. There it sat, one roll of many but this one had a bite taken out of it. I wonder what people were thinking.

Monday, December 5, 2011

creepy

You know, I never watched the X-Files until just a few weeks ago. Don't ask me why I never bothered to watch it when it was out on prime time. I don't know. I just never did.

But now that it is offered by Amazon as streaming video, I started watching it on the television courtesy of our Roku box. And I'm hooked on it. Normally I watch an episode a night.

This is probably the scariest show I've ever seen. Nearly every episode fills me with anxiety and it also instills me with paranoia. I'm serious. So I have to commend the folks who made that show because it really has an effect on me. I love everything about it.

I was also wondering just how large of a woman Sculley is because in nearly every scene, she is wearing this giant coat with broad shoulders. Is that meant to hide her? But the other night they showed her wearing a track outfit and so I guess the huge coat just creates the illusion that she is the size of an iceberg. Or so it seems to me when I watch the show - I always wonder why is she always wearing those kinds of coats.

Anyway, I love watching the X-Files even though it does make me highly nervous.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

more filming

I just learned that they are doing more filming in the neighborhood where my office is. This time it is CSI.

Someone asked, why are they always using our locale for dead bodies and crimes and stuff? Well, if the shoe fits..

I told one of my friends about our office being on NCIS L.A. She and her husband record their shows to watch later and finally they watched it. Her husband declared that I work in a dump. Haha.. well, I can't argue with that.

My only complaint is that they take away a lot of parking spaces when they do this filming so it is harder to park. They paid us $2,500 for the trouble, though, so I guess we can't complain too much.

I've never watched CSI. Given how I did watch NCIS to see how they portrayed our office and I had to watch nearly the entire show just to see it on there for about 5 seconds (and it was not a very good show), I think I'll just pass on the CSI stuff. It will probably be just more criminal stuff..

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why even bother?

I see that in all likelihood, Herman Cain is going to withdraw from running for a presidential nomination on Saturday. That isn't surprising, given the recent downturn in the polls following this scandal over his alleged mistress.

The thing is, why do people with skeletons in their closets bother to run in the first place? Don't they know in this day and age that you can't hide anything? Of course, there is no one without sin in their lives so whoever runs is going to have something that they are ashamed of (or should be ashamed of, since it seems that there are those who ought to be ashamed but aren't) but when it comes to those things, some are worse than others.

Definitely murder and adultery are a couple of things that will make it difficult to be elected. Now, once you are in office that's a different story (such as slick Willy Clinton) but first you have to get there and then it becomes quite a chore to try and get you out. With the way candidates do nothing but sling the mud these days, it doesn't even matter if you are completely perfect. I'm sure they would find something horrible to say about Jesus Christ if He ran for office.

The other thing I wonder about is why do people run for political office in the first place? I know you can't say there is just one reason for everyone, but it seems to me that the main reason people do this is not to really try and help out the country, but because they have their own agenda that they want to push through, and they are power-hungry. They also want to get filthy rich, or at least take money without really earning it. That's what I think. And I know I am right for at least 99% of it.

Even if you do run with the best of intentions, that quickly gets set aside once you enter the actual political machine and it becomes a matter of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Friday, December 2, 2011

windy?

Well it has been a very odd past few days, what with the winds that ripped through our neighborhood and electricity that went out around 1:00 am early Thursday morning and still hasn't been restored as I write this (I am writing this during lunch at work on Friday, where the power is fine - it should be the other way around, don't you think?).

Looks like we'll have to throw out all the food in the fridge, even though the house feels like it is under refrigeration since the heater won't go on. Thankfully the water heater still works. Sections of fences of both sides of our house were blown down by the winds. Downed trees are lying all over the place and it was an eerie feeling driving from the house to the freeway on Thursday and Friday morning because of signals being out, hardly any traffic, and the whole place looking like a disaster area. It was like being in one of those movies taking place during the aftermath of a war.

It was also quite the experience of coming home on Thursday and having to use candles and flashlights. Such a terrifying time not being able to access the internet or watch television! What's odd is our next door neighbor on the north side has power. Everyone from us going south is out. I should have just run a long extension cord from one of his outlets.

As of now, SCE still has no real idea when power will be restored.

It's all relative, though - think of those who have suffered through real disasters and have to live without electricity for a much longer time. Or those people who don't even have electricity to begin with. Just another reason to be thankful..

Monday, November 28, 2011

brief vacation

A couple of weeks ago, which now seems like the distant past, we took a brief trip up north, staying in Santa Barbara one night and Ventura the next, and drove back home on Saturday.

Here are some pictures:

After reading a bunch of Yelp reviews, I made reservations at the Castillo Inn. Good choice! I couldn't believe what a nice room we got, at a bargain price (Thursday night, off-season, $79 - same thing would be a lot more on weekends and/or during vacation season). It looks like an average motel or inn from the outside.







Inside, however, was a different story. Our room was spacious and immaculate. No trace of plastic anywhere - real wood furniture (nice wood, not cheap stuff), marble or granite bathroom counter (I'm no home improvement person so I don't know which is which but all I know is it was really nice), real glass cups instead of plastic or styrofoam. Even the ice bucket was solid. This was one very, very nice room.

On top of that, the Inn was literally only 1/2 block from the beach, and about 1/3 of a mile or so from Stearn's Wharf. A lot of places will advertise "walking distance" from the beach, and insist that 4 miles is still "walking distance." This "walking distance" was truly walking distance. Even crawling distance.






The room was "L" shaped (well actually, it was square but the bathroom took up 1/4 of it so the remaining 3/4 was in an "L"), with a sitting area and a flat screen LCD television.



I will post more pictures shortly but I thought I'd start off with the room. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place to anyone, and would sure like to stay there the next time we're up that way.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

black friday bargains

How'd y'all do on Black Friday? I wasn't crazy enough to do battle with the crowds. There was absolutely nothing being offered at any of the stores to make it worth my while. I did, however, wake up at 3:00 am to check out the online version of Black Friday at my favorite audio equipment manufacturer. This year they announced their first ever Black Friday sale (actually "Blue Friday," blue being because that is the color of the power lights on their equipment), starting at 5:00 am Central time. In other words, 3:00 am Pacific time.

I couldn't imagine them having anything on sale that I really needed, but curiosity got the better of me. That, plus knowing I could sleep in, convinced me to at least get up and see what was being offered. I was right, there was nothing I needed. I went back to sleep.

I did wind up with one thing on Black Friday, though. We happened to go to a Walgreen's and I spied "Gorilla Tape" on sale. The sign said normally $5.99 for the roll but it was on sale for $1.39. How could I resist? Even though I didn't need any tape, you never know when the need may suddenly arise, right? This product was supposed to be like duct tape only stronger.

Just to see how well I did price-wise, I looked it up on Amazon to see their price. I guess I did pretty good because their price is $6.83. I wound up getting a discount of $131,063.80 off the regular price. Yes, that is correct - see the screen print below (click for a larger verson). So I feel pretty good about my purchasing acumen, even if I don't have a need for this tape at the moment.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving

I remember when stores were all closed on Thanksgiving. Heck, I remember when stores were all closed on Sundays! Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I have much to be thankful for and many blessings to count. I hope it is the same for you.

Speaking of turkeys, I find it interesting that the City of Los Angeles is now offering free office space (well, for $1.00) to the Occupy L.A. movement. Yes, this movement and others like it could turn out to be pretty big - big business, that is.

Can't you just see the future? Occupy America becomes a conglomerate, going public with an IPO that makes its founders overnight billionaires. Congress begins investigating them because of unethical business practices. Their mismanagement causes near bankruptcy but they are rescued by an Obama $1 trillion bailout during his 4th term in office made possible by lobbying done by Occupy America to allow more than 2 terms for any presidents who are "good" according to their definition.

The Who said it right back in 1971: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

black friday

One thing I feel very good about is that I am not going to be one of those crazy people waking up super early (or nowadays, staying up super late) to take my life into my hands trying to get a Black Friday deal. Nope, no risking getting trampled, crushed to death, maimed or jumped or whatever. If you are one of the poor fools doing this, more power to you, haha.

Not content with Black Friday, many stores are resorting to opening not only at the strike of midnight when Friday begins, but eating into Thanksgiving when everyone is still supposed to be literally eating, and beginning their sales on Turkey Day.

You know what one wise store ought to do is this:

Have a Black Saturday sale. Put all your bargains up for sale on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and beat all the other suckers to the punch. On Black Friday people are psychologically tortured trying to decide which store they should visit first, or how to best allocate their time. Take all the stress out of it for them by being the only store smart enough to have your biggest day of the year on the Saturday before T-Day, all to yourself. You clear out your shelves, ring up the registers, rack up the profits and have a bunch of happy employees who don't have to work miserable hours on Thanksgiving or the day after.

Of course, the following year there will be a bunch of copycats and what will happen is that Black Friday will get earlier and earlier until you eventually have next year's Black Friday sale this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Isn't there just plain shampoo???

For the past many years I've used Kirkland (Costco) shampoo. It works well, and you get a lot more for your money. I've tried other, more expensive brands and they don't seem to be worth the money.

Just a few weeks ago it was time to buy more shampoo so as usual, I went to the shampoo section at Costco to buy the usual. This time I was greeted with not only a different-looking container, but it only came in a single-pack as opposed to the twin-pack I've been used to buying. To top it off, the price was more for this one bottle than the twin pack I bought the last time.

Well it was still relatively cheaper than the other brands so I bought it. I have to say, as much as I admire Kirkland products and am a big fan of them, I don't like this shampoo. It is very thick and creamy and smells too much. I also don't like the way it feels on my hair because no matter how much I rinse it, it still feels like it is there. Whatever happened to that "squeaky clean" sensation that one popular shampoo used to advertise as a result of using their product? My hair didn't squeak at all after using this new formula.

So today at Wal Mart I decided to buy a different shampoo, one that was just simple, basic shampoo without a whole bunch of additives, one that would leave my hair squeaky clean.

Boy, is that not an easy task! Wal Mart has tons of different shampoos. Not that many different brands, but within each brand there is an incredible number of choices. Different scents, different claims as to this is for frizzy hair, this is for colored hair, this is deep cleaning, this is for dry hair, this has this ingredient, this has that ingredient...

The choices are bewildering. I found myself searching all over the place for just a plain, simple shampoo that didn't claim to have an exotic scent or didn't look like it was so thick you could stand up a spoon in it. I felt like Charlie Brown towards the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas when he pleads, isn't there anyone who can tell him the true meaning of Christmas???

Isn't there a plain, ordinary bottle of shampoo that just cleans your hair???

Finally after looking and comparing and taking things off and putting things back on the shelf, I settled on the simplest looking one I could find, made by Suave. It was very cheap - like $1.84. I bought it because it didn't make any wild claims.

I am happy to report that after using it today my hair felt squeaky clean. It had a scent but not too strong. It wasn't thick and luxurious and it didn't linger in my hair. It cleaned it and then rinsed out very easily. My hair didn't feel heavy. Yes, I was happy.

But what an ordeal to find something like that! Are people so obsessed with shampoo that they think all of these esoteric extracts and additives are really going to make a difference? If I really wanted shiny hair I would just use Valvoline.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

clarification

Umm.. I guess I owe you folks an apology. A couple of people thought it was neat that my car was used on the recent NCIS episode and even neater that they paid me $1,000 for doing so.. I was just joking. That's why I put the "haha" in there.

Also, that car really wasn't my style. I'd be more like a Yugo...

Most assuredly, that was indeed the back of my office building, though! In all of it's lightly modified glory. They should have paid us more than $400 just for being able to find something that needed so little work done to make it suitable for the show.

Anyway, sorry about the car part - I thought you'd know I was funnin' you!




Friday, October 14, 2011

my wonder years

I'm very happy that finally, episodes of the Wonder Years are available for viewing. Unfortunately not on DVD or Blu Ray so I can purchase them, but on Amazon's streaming video portion of their web site. That's nearly as good, especially since I can stream them to the television via a Roku box.

So that's what I've been doing the past few nights, watching episodes of that show. I started at the very beginning and have been going in order.

That's one of my all-time favorite shows. I guess because Kevin Arnold's age and the time span mirrors my own school time. Well, almost. The show isn't quite accurate when it comes to placing music with the year - they use some songs that hadn't been released yet.

Some of the predicaments in which he finds himself also mirror my own experience - like the episode in which he keeps picking up the phone to call this girl in his class but then he keeps putting it down. Unlike me, however, he finally does call her instead of deferring it to endless tomorrows.

Now compare growing up like Kevin, Paul and Winnie, versus growing up in the environment of Malcolm in the Middle. I never watched the latter series when it was on prime time; I've seen several of the reruns and just recently I purchased the first season on DVD. The first episode was outrageous, and today I was trying to imagine what if the Wonder Years had started off like that.

Anyway I am very happy that I can sit back and enjoy the Wonder Years again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

hollywood

Nearly a month ago I had posted that NCIS Los Angeles was going to use the back of one of our buildings for a scene in an episode.

It aired last night. They showed all of about 10 seconds, and that was it - for that they paid us 400 bucks. I guess that equates to an hourly rate for an NBA star?

Anyway, here is the picture. Of course they added the auto shop sign and they did place a board over the window below it, but otherwise what you see is what you get. It's what I see every day of the working week (click on the picture for a larger version).

Oh, and yes, that is my car in the picture, too. They paid me $1,000 for using it. Haha..

Sunday, September 25, 2011

ratings

The other day I was looking for prices on an appliance and ran across one of those web sites that compares prices across online stores. One store was a lot lower than the others and had very high ratings so I looked both at the store and at the reviews that contributed to the high ratings.

These reviews were on ResellerRatings.com, a site that I have often used in the past when trying to find out if an online store was dependable or not.

After reading several reviews of this online store, BrandsmartUSA, things started to smell. Nearly all of the positive reviews were written with the same style and nearly all mentioned employees by name, which to me was quite suspicious since most reviews never mention names. And the same names were mentioned over and over. Many of the positive reviews had nothing to do with the store but were about the in-home service they received on a major appliance. Also I noticed that this was the only review posted by all these supposedly different persons.

Take a look for yourself: Click here.

There's a link on the ResellerRatings site that you can click to report issues like this, and that's what I did. I said that a lot of the reviews seem to be written by the same person and look phony. I got an e-mail from them today saying they would investigate.

It made me wonder just how many reviews out there are planted? I know a lot of the ones on Amazon are, especially for books. For example, many business books seem to be reviewed by the same old good 'ol boy network that goes around patting each other on the back, same as politicians do.

Pretty pathetic, if you ask me! At least if you are going to make up reviews like that, mix it up a little bit in terms of style.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

still awesome

This afternoon I took the cellophane off of the Star Wars Blu Ray set and pulled out episode 4 (the original movie) and watched it. I think if you did a graph of which episode from the set was watched first, #4 would be way out in front.

If you're wondering if it is worth doing the upgrade from DVD to Blu Ray, the answer is an unqualified Yes. It's an even bigger upgrade than from VHS to DVD. The picture is so much more detailed, the colors sharper, and the audio portion is much improved, as well.

That said (hmm.. I thought I said "unqualified"), I know George Lucas loves to tinker with his movies so I am not sure if some parts looked and sounded so much better because of his tinkering, rather than it being a restoration of the original. Whatever, the Blu Ray is fantastic.

He did add a few things on top of what he added to the DVD version but none of it is objectionable. I don't think it made the film any better, but at least it didn't make it worse. Of course, this is not the episode with the "noooooooooo!!!" added to it. I might have to set the system on mute when that happens.

Star Wars is simply an amazing, marvelous work of art. I've seen it many times at the theater, then was overjoyed when finally it was broadcast on pay television (was it Select TV back then? Can't remember) although watching it on a 19" television made it lose something in the translation. Then I bought all the various VHS packages, upgraded to the DVD's (and am happy to have the release that includes the original, untampered version) and now here it is on Blu Ray.

I have seen this movie so many times that I find myself actually thinking it is non-fiction.

If you are a Star Wars fan, then like I said above, don't hesitate to get the Blu Ray. It's a no-brainer decision.

Finally - for those of you who like a challenge to do something weird.. here is your challenge for a day. The entire day you have to talk like the Sand People. So when you go to a restaurant or talk to someone on the phone or go to the bank or whatever, you have to sound like the Sand People. Maybe start out practicing at the Jack in the Box drive through window.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

dumpy

I found out today that the back of my workplace building is going to be used in an upcoming television episode. The person who told me wasn't exactly sure of the show; he thought it was CSI. Since I hardly watch television, I had no clue what the choices might be. Anyway, it's one of those crime investigation shows. They will be filming next Tuesday.

The reason for using our building: they had a scene that needed a run-down, abandoned warehouse. I guess their location scouts were proud of themselves because they found our place and it fit the bill exactly without requiring any work. Well actually, they're going to put some boards on the windows and spray paint some graffiti on the boards to heighten the effect, although if you ask me they really don't need to do anything at all and it will still be convincing. At least we get a few hundred bucks from the studio for being their perfect, run-down, abandoned warehouse crime scene.

And that's the kind of dump I work in. Haha.. I kid you not.

Friday, September 16, 2011

telephone

I was trading messages with an online buddy from an audio forum and we were reminiscing about the good old days of dial phones.

Do young people these days even know what a dial phone is? I guess so.. they may have seen one in a retro store or seen one selling for hundreds of dollars as a novelty at Brookstone or something like that. Or maybe their grandparents have one.

I told him something really stupid I did when I was little - instead of putting my finger in the dial at the number that I wanted (for example, to dial "5" put your finger in the hole in the dial where the "5" is - young people, if you are confused then ask your parents or grandparents to explain), I put my finger where the "0" was and then moved the dial up to the number I wanted.

After I did this, I was amazed that a call actually went through and I could hear it ringing on the other end! Like, I had discovered a new way to dial! Yeah I know, pretty stupid.

Remember how you could dial by clicking the buttons on top of the phone? Like to dial a "5" you clicked the button real fast 5 times? I used to call my friends that way.

And I remember when all of L.A. County was in the 213 area code.. and telephone prefixes were letters, not numbers. Like REpublic 4-0227.

We used to have a party line. Does anyone remember those? That's where you shared the phone with someone else. Not the same phone number, but if you were on the phone that meant that the other party to the line couldn't use it until you got off. And if someone tried calling the other party while you were on, they got a busy signal. No call-waiting back in those days!

We shared a line with a family across the street, the Kasakawa's. I recall a few times when my folks were irritated because they needed to use the phone and kept picking it up every few minutes but they were still on it. I remember being over their house, because the son, Edwin, was one of my friends. One day we wanted to make a call and I picked up the phone and heard someone talking. Being on the other side of the party line, it didn't occur to me that this was my dad. I just thought someone somehow got on the phone line so I kept clicking the phone and dialing and making noise and finally he hung up the phone, haha.. Later on after thinking about it, I realized hey, when I was home then the Kasakawa's were the other people on the phone line so if I was at their house, then my own family must be the other people on the phone line. Yeah, I know, pretty stupid.

A couple of other things I discovered from playing with the phone: it used to be that if you dialed three digits then "1" then the same three digits (such as 296-1296), you would get a beeping tone that would beep a certain number of times and then hang up. I guess this must have been some sort of test line?

Another thing was that if you dialed a number and the last four digits were "1118" (for example, 296-1118) and someone else dialed the same prefix plus "1119", the two lines would connect and you could talk to them.

Now if you ask me how I happened to find out these things, I have no idea. I guess I must have had nothing better to do than to play around with the phone.

Our phone had no detachable cord, either. Not like phones today where the cord plugs into a jack and you can remove it. These were wired into a box. No unplugging allowed!

I guess back in those days, had we imagined a cellular phone one might have scoffed at the idea - so where are they going to get cords that long, huh???

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

up and coming

Did you preorder your set of Star Wars on Blu Ray? I did, and I'm looking forward to receiving them from Amazon on Friday, the official release date.

Despite George tinkering with them when he should leave well enough alone, and despite the prequels being pretty lame overall, I still opted to get the entire set - all six movies. For sure I wanted the original trilogy - that's a no brainer - but I figured if I didn't also get the prequel I'd regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. I'm no good at being noble but it doesn't take much to realize that deciding between just the original trilogy and the full set doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

I've also developed an addiction for watching Breaking Bad. Based on high praise from a couple of people I know, even though the premise didn't sound at all interesting to me, I purchased season one. Then season two, then this week season three arrived and I watched the first episode of that season the other night.

And.. in this post of random stuff, here's a fun little site whose link I stole off of someone's Facebook page: Translation Telephone. Check it out - enter a phrase and see how it gets altered in translation around the world. Click here. I typed "keep on trucking" in the original box and after it went through the various translations and then back into English, it read, "number."

Monday, September 12, 2011

foundations

I am writing this on September 11 (Sunday). Of course we all know the significance of this date as it relates to the terrible events ten years prior. There were lots of memorial services and recollections by people as to what they were doing that day when they heard the news.

Many comments had to do with how our nation did not give in to the terrorists; that we came together and remained strong during this troubling time. Tributes were given, and deservedly so, to those who performed heroic acts that prevented the tragedy from being even worse. Many comments had a defiant nature about them - don't mess with America because we'll pay you back for your evil deeds.

That's all great and good but my question is, what exactly have we learned from this? Is our nation getting better or is it getting worse?

A few years ago our company had a couple of consultants come in, and they asked what goals and objectives we would like to set. One goal wound up being that we would achieve $X of revenue in three years. It was quite an ambitious goal because achieving it would mean our revenues would have to double in three years. That didn't seem to phase anyone; everyone was jumping up and down, all happy and excited, talking about how we were going to have $X in revenues and wasn't that wonderful, etc.

They talked like it had already been achieved. My question was, how were we going to get there? What was our plan?

That's the same way it is with all this talk I hear in defiance of the terrorists - stuff like, don't mess with the USA because we're still the greatest country in the world, mess with us and you'll be sorry, etc. Trash talk like what you hear in school about we'll see who wins in the parking lot.

My question is, we talk about it but what are we doing about it? Take a look around you - do you think things are that much better, if at all, than 10 years ago? Don't get me wrong - I love my country and I am thankful to be a citizen. But because I love my country, I have to also care about where we are headed and not fall prey to a bunch of empty talk that has nothing to back it up. Just like if you are at a sporting event and you start chanting, "USA, USA" as if somehow that is the magic formula to make the team win. Yes, it will get the adrenaline flowing but if the team has no plan, it's not going to turn things around.

I always like to compare the service I get at McDonalds versus the service I get at In-N-Out Burger. There is just no comparison. When I go to a McD, I expect the mediocre and that is usually what I get. When I go to an In-N-Out, I expect excellent service and that is usually what I get.

Why is that?

It's in the foundation. The employees at an In-N-Out are trained better and expected to perform to higher standards. They are better managed. They operate according to a plan and that plan has proven successful. McD's, on the other hand, seem like a hodgepodge of people stumbling over each other.

You can't just give a pep talk to a bunch of employees, telling them, "we're the best! We're the best!" without showing them HOW to be the best. Part of that is instilling the proper corporate culture - inculcating the proper foundation for how they are to conduct themselves and manage their operations. Without the foundation and the culture, they can't succeed.

That is how I view the United States. We are losing the foundation that our founding fathers fought so hard to establish. The culture in this country has in large part become one of "me first" and focusing on entitlements, rather than on how to work together to achieve greatness. It's all about me, and what's in it for me. It's like everyone is auditioning for American Idol.

The Ten Commandments and other lessons in ethics and morals are sorely lacking from our schools, as though somehow that is inappropriate and even evil. Parents are not giving their children the moral foundation that is needed, or even if they are, it is being subverted by peers at school who lack this foundation. Morals and ethics are certainly not coming from our teachers either, since they run the risk of losing their jobs if they dare broach the subject instead of focusing on artificially raising test scores.

Without this foundation, we are lost. The moral fiber and backbone of a country are all-important. That is what everything else is built upon. You can't just talk about doing something without having the right foundation in place.

Take a look around you and you will see what I mean. We can talk all we want about America being the greatest country in the world but we're headed in the wrong direction because it is all talk. Without that foundation - the moral fiber and backbone - getting rid of that "me first" attitude - it's not going to get any better.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

insult?

Am I the only one who thinks those Metro PCS commercials with the Indian actors is stupid, or do any of you feel the same?

I don't find them to be funny or even mildly amusing in the least - that has nothing to do with how they portray the Indian actors to be idiots, but it just simply is not funny. It's insulting. If they did this same thing with Asians, I would feel insulted. if they did this with Blacks or Hispanics, the commercial would already have been quickly taken down if even allowed to air at all. Yet these commercials seem to keep going so someone likes them?? I find that hard to believe.

Even if they did this commercial with white people it wouldn't be funny. Whoever wrote it is going after the lowest of the lowest common denominators and they even went below that. It is something a six year old might write and then perform for his or her fellow classmates. A stupid six year old, I might add.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Apple is more evil than Microsoft

Yesterday Katie brought over her Mac Pro so I could upgrade the memory and hard drive. I had gotten the replacement items from my favorite computer store, Newegg, and was all set to open up the laptop case and do the replacing.

I turned over the laptop and did a double take. Were those the screws??? I never saw anything so tiny. Just these really little chrome circles with and "x" carved out in the middle. My smallest screwdrivers, even the jewelers ones and the ones for repairing eyeglasses, were too big.

Grrr... why do they have to make this so difficult? When I changed the memory and hard drive in my own PC-based laptop I didn't need any special tools. So we drove over to Home Depot and bought a screwdriver set containing 000 and 00 blades.

We came back and I opened the case. When I removed the bottom the first thing that came to mind is how cheap and flimsy the plastic was. It looks like it is a fancy metal case but that's about it - it just looks that way. In reality, it's just cheap plastic.

I replaced the memory, which was pretty easy. Now it was the hard drive's turn. I unscrewed the mounting bracket, no problem. Then I removed the drive and noticed that the screws set in the side of the drive, which had to be removed to put into the new drive, were not your regular kind of screws. These were torx screws, and I had no torx screwdriver and no allen wrench small enough to fit.

Grrr... so back we went to Home Depot to get a torx screwdriver set. All just for four stupid little screws. We got back and it was very easy to remove the screws, using the right equipment.

The point is, what is the point of making this so difficult? Just so you have to do what they recommend in the manual, which is take it to an Apple store and have one of their technicians, who probably "graduated" to that job from being a member of the Best Buy Geek Squad, do the same thing and charge you a pretty penny for it? It is not rocket science.. it is very easy to do this IF you have the right tools, which I would say nearly everyone doesn't. The same operations on a PC-based laptop could be easily accomplished as well, and I'd say nearly everyone already has the necessary phillips screwdriver needed for the task.

But I realize that doesn't make Apple evil. So why the title of this blog post?

Because Apple tries to make it seem like they are the "good guys." Like they are against the grain and are not a big, evil corporation but believe me, they are one of the biggest and they have an excellent marketing plan that reeks of greedy capitalist big evil corporationism. What makes an Apple laptop worth more than twice as much as any other laptop with similar specs? It certainly isn't the construction or materials. Sure, they look nice and perform well but not to the tune of being 2x more expensive. Their stuff is made in China just like pretty much everything else. Same holds true for any other Apple product.

When it comes to being sneaky, Apple has Microsoft beat hands down. If you think you are being "different" by buying Apple, you are truly buying into exactly what their marketing team wants you to do, and for that I must congratulate them. But in reality, Apple is no different from any other huge corporation that wants their hands on your wallet as much as possible.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

nooooooooooo

First of all, welcome to the long weekend. I hope to be posting some stuff over the next few days. Today is pretty short and to the point. Here is the MOST STUPID THING OF THE DAY, MAYBE THE YEAR, MAYBE EVEN LONGER:



Why does George Lucas feel he has to keep ruining things by adding nonsense like what a 5 year old would do to try and be funny by dubbing a voice into a scene? I guess it isn't only our government that meddles too much to the detriment of everyone. Sigh...

George, you shoulda asked us first.. then we would have told you:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

churched

Last Sunday as I was sitting in church I wondered how different my life would have been had I been a Christian back in high school, devout and diligent enough to attend service each Sunday morning despite the staying out late habits I had back then. Instead, I was as my friend Duane characterized me, "irreverent," one who liked to poke fun at religion and those who adhered to it.

I admire the teenagers and young adults I see in church each week who make it a point to willingly attend service. That's a time when there's plenty of diversions that get in the way, even the desire to catch up on some rest and sleep in.

Of course it is what it is and I was just not that person back in high school or college but I wondered what if.

That's the time when a lot of people become disillusioned - they complain about the hypocrisy, the way they see people really behave even though they are supposed to be "Christians." Then they leave the church. That's understandable, although hypocrisy is by no means confined to Christians, religion, or to any one group - it is pervasive and universal. If we choose to follow other people, then we're bound to be disappointed at one time or another. Our standard should be doing what pleases God, and the way we behave is between us and Him.

Anyway, I'm not trying to be preachy or anything. I was thinking I might have saved myself all the times of insecurity and wanting to fit in and trying to figure out how to be someone that I wasn't, because I'd have more peace in being myself.

Maybe.. but on the other hand, to paraphrase the beginning of chapter 3 of the book of Ecclesiastes, there's a time and season for everything under heaven. High school and college just weren't those times for me - I wouldn't have been ready; I was too immature. God has His timing. Like I said, it is what it is and the past is the past but there's still what lies ahead.

I don't mean to start sounding profound or anything either.. I'm just spouting off some thoughts. Last Sunday was the time to be thinking about a different path in life had I been a different person back in my school days.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

celebration

Last Saturday, the day after my colonoscopy, I "celebrated" the good news by devouring a hamburger and fries for lunch. Yes, I know, that's like those folks who go on a diet and when they reach their goal they go to Hometown Buffet or another all you can eat place and gorge themselves silly.

I rarely have hamburgers or fries these days, and it's been like that since the surgery I had back in 2007; quite a change from my old habits! But once in a while I'll take a break from the regimen and eat something that isn't so healthy.

We were going to go to In-N-Out but since it was kind of late and also sweltering hot outside we figured it would be too crowded - even the parking lot would be too crowded and we'd have to walk in the hot sun so instead we went to a place we never tried before. The burger was decent and the fries were only average, being the kind that come frozen in a big bag. I was thinking, having a burger and fries really isn't anything "special." Maybe it would have been had we gone to In-N-Out instead, but just overall I've gotten used to doing without so it's not so much of a treat to eat the forbidden fruit, so to speak.

Last Wednesday, I wasn't allowed to eat any fruits, veggies or nuts in preparation for the procedure. I found myself missing not being able to have my usual fruit, or to eat salad and veggies with dinner. What's this world coming to, anyway?

Monday, August 29, 2011

currently reading

I'm currently reading Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto. It is very interesting. Its overall premise is that our government has strayed far beyond the Constitution, and its framework and ideals set forth by our founding fathers. It's a collection of examples of just how screwed up our country is in the major issues facing us all.

It's a depressing book because it makes so much sense.

Personally, while he makes a lot of sense, Ron Paul has little chance of ever being elected president. He lacks the charisma. He lacks form over substance, something that our current president has in generous proportions.

The way I see it, the way we try and fix our problems in this country is like this:

Let's look at our problems as being a giant balloon (which keeps getting bigger, by the way, being filled with more and more problems).

Our government tries to fix a problem by squeezing on one part of the balloon to make it smaller. However, when you do that, another part of the balloon gets bigger. So the overall volume of problems remains constant (actually, just think of it as a balloon hooked up to an air pump so it steadily increases in size).

Government keeps squeezing different areas of the balloon and making it a little smaller but it just shifts the air to other parts that get bigger, plus more and more air keeps entering the balloon so it gets bigger still. Then as more air gets in, those areas that had gotten smaller just start getting bigger again.

What government ought to do is figure out a way to let the air out of the balloon. The air will still keep coming from the pump but you've got to let more air out than what goes in.

That's like how the deficit is. The deficit is that balloon. They try and reduce expenses in one area but then use those savings to spend like crazy in another area. Meanwhile, overall spending keeps increasing so the balloon gets bigger and bigger. True expense reduction would mean letting air out of the balloon faster than air enters, but noooooo, that is a foreign concept to our government.

And it isn't just government to blame. You've got all these voters calling for a reduction of spending, just as long as the reduction doesn't affect them because after all, they are entitled to their entitlements. So just reduce someone else's part of this balloon and leave mine alone, please.

You know what happens when balloons get too big... they simply pop. And then there's nothing for anyone.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

more catching up

A truck broke the driver's side rear-view mirror on my car the other day. Now that I have switched positions at work, I'm in the building on the corner and we really don't have a parking lot so I park on the street.

People have told me not to park too close to the corner because there are a lot of big trucks in our ghetto industrial neighborhood that turn too sharply and sideswipe cars parked by the corner. That happened to one of our sales reps a few years ago and it was amazing how smashed-in his car was.

I normally get to work pretty early and there are lots of parking spaces. This particular day I was still early but there were more cars, including one in the spot where I usually park. So I parked across the street. As I parked, I was wondering if I was too close to the corner. I hesitated and thought, no, this should be okay because there was still enough space for a car to park in front of me. Then I stopped and thought about it again and once again thought it should be okay.

I got out of the car and locked the door and stopped still once more. Should I move it? Naw...

Later that morning one of the girls in the office called and told me that a truck hit my car. A big 18-wheeler was turning and, just as I had been warned happens, it hit my car while turning. Another girl had gone outside to stop the guy, who claimed he wasn't even aware he had hit anything (which, given the size of the truck, was believable).

When I got there, he was trying to put the cover of the mirror back on. I got all of his information and of course he didn't want me to report the accident. He claimed he would pay me but at the time he hardly had any money so he couldn't do anything right then. I said wait until I find out how much it is going to cost.

Turns out it was $184 to replace the mirror, because it has a motor mechanism and the whole assembly had to be replaced. I called and told him this. First thing he said was that he had a "friend" who could fix it and he wanted me to take the car over there. I said no, I wanted to money. So then he said he was in Georgia right now and he would stop by the office and give me the money when he came back (which is supposed to be next week).

Of course there wasn't much I could say so I told him fine, stop by the office and I would be there.

Now is he going to show up? Personally, I doubt it. At least the damage wasn't exorbitant but if he doesn't show up I am wondering what to do. I guess I will call and threaten to report it to the insurance company and the police as well, then see what he does.

Anyway, how is it that everyone who damages your car just happens to have a friend in the auto repair business? That is such a coincidence..

I remember long time ago a truck backed into my car (when it was parked at Tito's Tacos, no less). Their insurance company paid for a rental while mine was being repaired. One morning I was driving the rental to work when all of a sudden another car lunged right into me like it was the shark from Jaws. Some stupid girl who lived down the street had made a u-turn right into my car. She said her windows were all fogged up and she couldn't see where she was going.

And, it just happened that her boyfriend worked at an auto repair place and they could fix my car! Or rather, the rental car. Well, back then I was stupid so I actually gave her a chance but of course nothing ever happened so I had to report it to the insurance company.

Then every day after that when I drove down the block I had an unpleasant reminder by looking at her dented up car parked in front of her house.

Anyway, I'll let you know what happens with getting reimbursed for the mirror.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

catching up

Well gee, it's been 20 days since my last post. I've been busy plus haven't felt much like writing but I'll bring you up to speed on what's going on.

First, it has been about three years since my last colonoscopy so today (Friday) I had another one. Thankfully, all turned out well. I know a lot of people hesitate to get one because just the thought of it is so unpleasant but I can't emphasize enough how important it is that if you are of the age or condition where you should be having the procedure done, then don't put it off.

The actual procedure itself is not bad at all, mainly because they knock you out. I remember being wheeled on the gurney into the operating room, where they told me to lie on my side. Then they injected something into the IV and I remember asking if that was the sedative. Then the next thing I remember is waking up back in the gurney, back in the waiting room. No muss, no fuss, and good news that they didn't detect anything.

Of course the night before is when the muss and fuss take place, having to drink that nasty colyte solution. Yuk... I had a 4 liter bottle of which I had to drink 3 of them that night and the remaining liter the morning of. I made the mistake of adding the lemon flavor packet which I think made it taste even worse.

The procedure was Friday, and on Thursday I was limited to consuming only clear liquids. I was sooo hungry (well, at least until Thursday evening when drinking all that solution filled me up... even though it didn't stay very long). Lunch on Friday tasted sooo good.

Thanks be to God all turned out well today. More catching up tomorrow..

Sunday, August 7, 2011

saturation

I did my usual trek to Costo this morning. It wasn't very crowded (i.e., it was pleasant) and I ended up buying some clothes. I've been on a clothing kick lately; I will go for a long stretch of time not buying anything, then all of a sudden have a short burst of buying the next batch to last for the next long stretch. I said I've been wearing the same things for a long time and Julie said everything I wear looks the same so one notices anyway, haha..

The thing about buying clothes from Costco is trying to find the right size is not easy because everything is set out in big stacks on the table. So if you are looking for a particular size and the item is not folded in a way that makes it conducive to seeing the size right away, it can be a maddening search, compounded by how there is no rhyme or reason to how the sizes are organized (they simply aren't). On top of that, sometimes it seems all they have are XL sizes. Whole stacks of nothing but XL sizes. Why don't they buy a decent mix, or is that what society is like now - nearly everyone is XL?

Still, it is worth rummaging. Costo doesn't have the greatest selection but what they do have is at prices that are at or lower than other store's "sale" prices.

On the way home we ran into a traffic jam on the freeway. By the time it cleared up there was no clue as to what caused it in the first place.

I notice that there is just more and more traffic - it gets worse and worse. It used to be that weekends were relatively light but such is no longer the case. At times they are worse because during the week you have people who want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible so they waste on time, but the weekends have time-wasters. And all it takes is one time-waster to slow down an entire freeway.

Anyway, we went to a few places today and there was plenty of traffic everywhere. Some was downright jammed up just like what we encountered on the way back from Costco.

I think we have reached a state of saturation.

We have overloaded the capabilities of our infrastructure.

Some key words/phrases that came to mind when thinking about just how crowded things are here in So Cal were: saturation; Peter Principle; and house of cards. We have reached a saturation level, which is particularly frightening considering the Peter Principle is at play, and society is pretty much like a house of cards..

Does it do much good pondering global things like that? Probably not.. just trying to find the right size clothing at Costco is enough to worry about.

Friday, August 5, 2011

salt bloat

I don't understand why everything has to have so much salt in it. There's an amazing amount of salt in nearly every food item on the shelf at the store. Seemingly healthy things (such as veggie burgers) are loaded with salt - I guess to compensate for the unmeaty taste? Or to make it taste like a salty hamburger?

Here's an article from Men's Health/Eat This Not That listing the 30 saltiest menu items in America. It starts with #30 which itself has a lot of sodium, but the amount increases as it progresses up to #1 and the top item has so much sodium all you can do is laugh in horror.

To view the article, click here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

hummingbird

Today's title is literal. My coworker's daughter-in-law (well, ex daughter in law but she lives with her.. go figure) found a baby hummingbird in their backyard that was unable to fly.

Since there's no one at the house to take care of it, my coworker has been bringing it to work every day, in a shoe box. Below are some pictures of it - it's sitting on top of a rumpled plaid blanket or scarf and is about 2" tall. It's fed sugar water from a thin straw, which you can see in the last picture.

The person in the office next to her doesn't like it at all because birds terrify her. Even this little hummingbird.. Excuse the blurry pictures. That little red dot at the tip of the beak is a drop of dried-up sugar water, and not part of the beak.




That reminded me of this song from the good ol' days:



Oh, and a note about yesterday's post about folks who use IE having a lower IQ - it was a fraud. No such study was made. Among browsers, though, I'd say that IE has the lowest IQ.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

which browser are you using?

After yesterday's lengthy rant (which, now that I am writing from hindsight and see that surprise surprise, they averted a default - oh aren't our politicians so wonderful), here's something much shorter and it is also something to think about.

What browser are you using to view this page? Take a look at the findings of a study about what your IQ may be relative to users of other brands - click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

deflection

I am actually writing this on the weekend since that's when I have the most time to write so as of this moment the budget crisis has still not been resolved and the August 2nd deadline (the date on which this blog post is set to run) is still approaching.

All I can say is I am disgusted. I truly hope that a settlement can't be reached and we default, rather than to do the same old tired thing of deciding to spend more and more money that we don't have. The more money you give to these politicians, the more they will spend. They won't go back and cover what is already owed, they'll spend it on new things and then come back a year later asking to once again raise the ceiling. THEY NEVER LEARN BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO. The only thing they care about is getting enough votes to be reelected.

Here is one of my favorite movie scenes, and it always comes to mind during times like these. If you want to see some superb acting, watch it. But I have to say - his pleas are misdirected and I will tell you why below.



Does it really make any difference to complain to your politician? Maybe, if it isn't anything very important. The main criteria your representative uses is does it keep him or her in office. They could care less about you or the country or our moral fiber or whatever; all they care about is themselves and the best way to take care of themselves is to remain in office so they can continue sponging off of our tax dollars while they live on easy street.

Complaining to our government leaders is like complaining to the fox that your chickens are being stolen and eaten.

But they want you to think that your voice matters, and that it is heard. They want to deflect your anger elsewhere, to make you think that they are trying their best but they are battling heavy villains who make things tough. It takes the spotlight off of them.

For example - we complain about the bailout and how these loser companies took all this money and squandered it, paying out big bonuses when really, they should have gone out of business. These companies are evil, right?

Well, it is human nature. People will get away with whatever they are able to get away with. Rather than focusing our attention on these companies who are like kids who get a lavish, way overdone Christmas present, we should be focusing on the rats who gave them the money in the first place. That's where our attention should be, but of course our government representatives don't want that. They want to deflect the attention elsewhere.

The stuff Howard Beale complains about in the movie Network - that stuff is still endemic today, even more so. But is complaining to your representative going to help? Sure, he or she will go through the motions because after all, they want your vote in the next election. But do they really care about eradicating stuff like that? NO THEY DON'T. Because if they did, then that would mean you might actually focus on what they are doing and see how worthless they are. So having crime and all the other ills in this country actually helps them keep their jobs, as long as they don't let it go beyond an "acceptable" level.

What is the definition of an "acceptable" level? A level that still enables them to get reelected. The perfect balance is when they are able to keep trouble at a high enough level of urgency that you, the stupid voter, think that they can help so you vote for them. Along the way, some politicians have failed because they let the troubles get too far out of hand and people then believed the lies from the candidate who bumped the incumbent out of office but as we all learn, it is just like the line from the Who's song: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

We are just powerless peons. Anyone who tells you otherwise, or who believes otherwise, is misguided. The objective for anyone to change things is not to make the world better for the sake of being better, but to personally benefit from these changes and gain membership in the "club" who controls things. If along the way the world just happens to get better, then that's merely a side effect.

This video from George Carlin says it very well. I do not like profanity and don't like posting it, but he said it so well that I am making an exception because the profanity also adds to the accuracy of what he is saying. So just a warning, the video does contain profanity.. but it is relevant.



Monday, August 1, 2011

life is a box of chocolates

The other day I watched Forrest Gump again. I've seen it many times but never get tired of it - it's one of my favorite movies. I just love the whole thing.

The book is quite different from the movie and both are good in their own way. In the book, Forrest never says the famous line, "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Nor does he say, "Stupid is as stupid does" (which makes no sense if you think about it).

But that first quote is indeed very true - that's just what life is like. Years ago did we ever imagine our life to be like it actually has turned out?

Anyway, here are more quotes from that movie. So many memorable lines.. Like I said, I just love it. To me it's the complete movie - they did everything just right.

Speaking of movies, I see that finally, Star Wars is being released on Blu Ray. Come September, all six of them will be available. I originally preordered the whole set but now they are offering subsets - either the original three or the subsequent prequel three. I canceled my first order and ordered just the original three. Why waste money on the 2nd trio? I thought George should have quit while he was ahead. Well I guess he made tons of money, but that second set of movies does nothing for me. At least I saved some money by being able to order just the part I want. Oddly enough, the entire set costs more than buying the first and second trio separately. Go figure. Maybe the entire set contains more special features that most people don't watch.

Oh, and another set of movies is due for release soon - Jurassic Park on Blu Ray. As far as I can tell, however, you have to purchase the trilogy. You can't just buy a specific movie. I said forget it.. the first movie was good but the other two are downright losers. I hate it when you are forced to buy the junk with the good but I figure that's probably the only way the producers can sell the 2nd and 3rd movies in the trilogy. If the first movie is released by itself, then I'll buy it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

ants

When I go out for my exercise, one street bordering the school has a strip of dirt alongside the sidewalk and every spring/summer there are several red ant nests spread out on that strip.

I notice that frequently, someone has gone to the trouble of kicking or spreading dirt to cover up those nests, so the ants on the outside are running around with no way to get back in since the entrance has been covered with dirt.

It makes me wonder, why do people do stuff like that? Same reason they kick dogs? Even if you don't like the ants, putting dirt over their nest isn't going to make them go away. They just dig themselves out.

Then I was thinking of how that is just like how our government tackles issues. Like the current budget crisis, or things such as the health care mess. They just try and kick dirt over it to cover it up but the problem digs itself out and is right back where it was. Meanwhile, like those red ants, the problem multiplies.

Yup, that's our government at work.. but then I don't think our government is much different than any other country's government. The Peter Principle is demonstrated no matter where you are.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more SLO

In San Luis Obispo we stayed at a place called the Peachtree Inn, located on the northern end of Monterey Street along the strip with a good deal of the other lodging for the city.

The room was simple but clean, and it was quiet, too. I liked the charm of the place - one story, no corporate feel to it, just a pretty, friendly place.

We ate our continental breakfast out on the balcony/patio outside the main office area. It was so pleasant and relaxing.. here are some pictures:


That's a bird feeder hanging from the awning. Lots of blue jays were hanging around. Birds seem to be pretty stupid creatures. The feeder was filled with peanuts in the shell. A few had fallen onto the railing and could be had for no effort, but the birds ignored those and went for the ones in the feeder.




Here are some close-up pictures of the birds extracting peanuts:




After breakfast, sigh, it was time to head back to home base and its saturation of people and smog. On the way back we stopped at the Costco in Goleta where I bought a few bottles of wine that our local Costcos don't carry.

During our brief trip we went to the Costcos in Goleta, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo. They're all a little bit different as far as the merchandise each carries. Goleta had the best selection of wines.

And that was the too-short trip out of town.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

San Luis Obispo

After checking in, we drove to the downtown SLO area, parked and walked around. It seems like every single space has a meter, and the meter has a 2-hour limit. The downtown area is a very pleasant place to walk. The weather was gorgeous, it wasn't too crowded (I guess most of the students had gone somewhere for the summer) and everything was so clean and relaxed.

Here's some random pics:





The picture below didn't turn out too well. It was a space filled with rows and rows of computers, with people (mainly kids) just sitting there using them for the internet or playing games. That's all it was. I guess that replaced the pinball arcades I used to go to back in college.

My Yelp research said that the place to go was the Firestone Grill, where more than a few folks (out of 700+ reviews) said the tri-tip sandwiches were heavenly. So that's where we went for dinner.

Here's a picture of what made them famous, which is what I ordered. The reviews weren't kidding - this was some really delicious tri-tip, perfectly cooked, juicy and tender. The rolls were slightly buttered and toasted and the sandwich plain was plenty yummy although the BBQ sauce was really good, too. They piled the meat high and every bit of it was great.


The french fries were sort of like In-N-Out fries but had some seasoning on them. They were good but not great.


Julie went for a grilled chicken sandwich, which she said was really good. They didn't skimp on the portions of anything, that's for sure.


Now before you think they skimped on the salad, I have to say that I forgot to take a picture of it until we'd eaten most of it. So this is what was left by the time I remembered.


Here's the menu (click the picture or any of them for that matter, to enlarge).

After that huge meal we walked around some more to try and shake off all those calories. If you like tri tip and are headed up the SLO way, the Firestone Grill is highly recommended.