Tuesday, May 31, 2011

excess

This past weekend Julie and I went to a birthday dinner party for one of her friends. The celebration was nice but I want to focus on the food. It was at the North Woods Inn in San Gabriel.

Guests were presented with three menu choices - a combination of steak, scallops and chicken; a seafood platter with shrimp, scallops and fish; or a steak platter. The seafood platter was deep fried and I didn't see anyone order that one.

The portions were immense! First came big bowls of two different salads from which everyone helped themselves. One was shredded purple cabbage with a tangy, sweet/sour dressing and the other was iceberg lettuce drowned in a bleu cheese dressing. These were accompanied by cheese toast that was nice and warm, and dripping with butter and cheese. I figure one slice of toast was like one slice of cheesecake in terms of calories.

The entrees came on king-sized platters - a giant baked potato, the meat, and rice pilaf. You could get french fries instead of the baked potato but I thought the latter would be healthier.

I am not sure how many calories in total this meal was, but I am guessing somewhere well over 3,000. Everything was drowning in butter, oil, cheese or dressing, and there was plenty of salt as well. Now, it all tasted pretty good but that's because of all those excess ingredients.

It probably would have been healthier to get french fries because the baked potato was liberally doused with butter, so much so that I spooned a large quantity off and into another plate. It was like a swimming pool. The other topping options were mushroom gravy (didn't see anyone order that) or cheese butter. Lots of people ordered that one and it was like a castle of cheese sitting on top of the potato.

It was all so excessive. Can you imagine some people eat like that all the time? No wonder this country suffers from so many health problems.

I'm sure you've all seen those pictures of WalMart shoppers that get passed around the internet. Well folks, if you think people like the ones in those photos are confined only to WalMart you better think again. They are all over the place. Wherever you go, just take a look around you and see for yourself how out of shape our society is.

This is indeed the land where our motto is "supersize me."

Just thought I'd share my observations with you..

Monday, May 30, 2011

mattress

We finally decided to get a new mattress. Our old one was pretty old - like nearly 20 years - and of course those Sit N Sleep commercials talking about how your mattress is a haven for bedbugs and a perspiration repository and other ewww stuff like that helped make our decision easier.

I heard a lot of good things about memory foam mattresses. We went to Living Spaces and tried the Tempur-pedics they had. Very nice. Very expensive. Only one model was under $2,000; the rest of them were well over that, even as high as $8,995.

Since a person normally spends about 1/3 of their life sleeping, you shouldn't skimp on a mattress. Sure, it might be expensive but you have to look at it in terms of the number of years of benefit you get from it and also, that you should treat your body nicely.

But still, that's expensive. I did a lot of research on foam mattresses and most of it indicated that perhaps Tempur-pedics made the best, but you could do almost as well and many said just as well, with other brands that cost a fraction of that price. In other words, the extra price you paid didn't translate into a proportional extra benefit.

Like I always do, I looked to see what Costco had available. After reading tons of reviews and knowing that Costco is king when it comes to warranties and returns, I ordered a queen size NovaForm (made by Sleep Innovations) from their web site. It made too much sense not to.

The mattress arrived via UPS, all 90+ lbs of it but tightly compressed in a vacuum-sealed bag. In fact when we got it, we looked at it and wondered if they sent us the wrong size because it didn't look very big. As soon as I started cutting open the bag, though, the hiss of air escaping made it clear this thing was going to expand rapidly and expand it did - rapidly - so I had to hurry up and finish cutting the bag because this was looking like a Lucy Ricardo moment with the mattress growing by the second.

Most definitely it was the right sized queen. It expanded quickly and looked great. Many people complained about an initial chemical smell and this one had it too, but not very strong.

Now that we've been using it for a few days, it's great and we are very happy with our decision. We also got a couple of the NovaForm molded pillows; I like mine very much but Julie decided to return hers. They're designed to be used flat, not stacked with another pillow and she likes stacked.

We paid less than half of what the cheapest Tempur-Pedic costs. We were told by the salesman that Tempur-Pedic also recommends using a new foundation/base and not using the box spring from the old mattress. Why? Because everything should be new, we were told. They also sell pillows for $99 and pillow cases, $29 or $39 a pair.

Compare that to what we got from Costco - the NovaForm pillows for $19.59 each, and we're using our old box spring because Sleep Innovations says that's fine to do. Also, our pillowcases cost nowhere near $29. Costco offers their usual unconditional guarantee of satisfaction. Tempur-pedic offers a trial period during which you can return the mattress but charges you a restocking fee plus you have to pay for the return pickup/freight.

The choice seemed a no-brainer to me. I'm sure Tempur-pedic makes excellent products and they have the reviews to prove it but is it 2x or more better than the alternative I got from Costco? I doubt it. And most definitely pumping up the profit margins by selling expensive accessories like pillows, pillow cases and foundations just makes it even more of a no-brainer to choose Costco.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

coach

I'm not a big sports fan. You will rarely find me taking time to watch any game on television although I have to say I was rooting for the Lakers to do a three-peat until they fizzled out this year.

It seems that the Lakers have made the most absolute stupid, dumbest, idiotic, who's-ridiculous-idea-was-that move in hiring the new coach, Mike Brown. Even people who aren't basketball fans are stepping in and talking about what a bad move that is.

Me, I don't know because like I said, I'm not a big sports fan. I only become a fan if my team happens to get into the finals of whatever sport they happen to be playing.

I think no matter who the Lakers hired as coach there would be criticism. Because when it comes to people being involved in anything, it is pretty much DIYD, DIYD (damned if you do, damned if you don't). People just can't wait to say, "I told you so!"

On top of that, the new coach has a hard act to follow. Whoever they hire is going to be no Phil Jackson. That reminds me of when John Wooden retired after his incredible run at UCLA. Now that was an impossible act to follow, a setup for failure. Unless his successor managed to go undefeated and win another NCAA championship, they were doomed.

And Gene Bartow was indeed doomed. People were calling for his head even before the season started and once that first loss happened, well, it was only a matter of time before he was gone. There is NO ONE who could ever follow John Wooden. He is the greatest basketball coach of all time and also an outstanding person, and I'm sad he is no longer with us because he truly set an example of how the rest of us should behave.

So I look with amusement at all the furor going on over poor Mike Brown.

Hey, it's just a game. A game where it's all about having enough money to attract the right mercenary to gun for your team for a little while until someone else offers more money.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

yearbooks

Just a heads up, this weekend you can peruse the yearbook collection that has been scanned at classmates.com for free.

So if there's people you know now and wondered what they look like in high school, here is your chance to check that out. Unfortunately there's a bunch of holes in terms of years available but still it is a decent collection and where else are you going to find so many all in one place?

It was interesting looking up some friends - although it requires knowing their high school and years of attendance if they aren't registered on Classmates and are searchable.

Here's a picture of my high school buddy David, who is identified in the picture as Davie Ritie. I wonder if he did that on purpose or they just mangled his name because as I recall, his handwriting was the best example of chicken scratches I've ever seen.

I was surprised to see how short his hair was, especially for our times (1972) but then I remembered he was working at Ralph's back then and when he had to get his hair cut for work, we thought it was really, really short. So you are looking at an example of what is considered "short" hair back when we went to high school. In other words, the ears were visible.

Anyway, go head on over and take a look while the looking is free.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

communication, or failure thereof

One of the things I would like to improve at my workplace is the communication that takes place between everyone, especially in e-mails. It is very important to be clear, and use proper grammar and spelling so that there is no question about what you are trying to communicate.

That said, here's a couple of examples I pulled from my e-mails. For the correct chronological order you have to start the threads from the bottom and go up. I deleted the names for obvious reasons.



Message # 2

From: sa
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 4:41 PM
To: bp
Subject: Re: message

Visually impaired lausd in northbound b 601 topic out of 5 machine in my email that this location is not ready Tim September

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


From: bp
Date: Mon, 16 May 2011 15:56:31 -0700
To: sa

Subject: message

Hi Sa, I couldn’t understand your message and you’re not answering you phone so maybe you’ve gone home for the day? It was something about 5 machines but I don’t know what you said. Can you call me back or email me?

BP
***

Message #1

From: Sa
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 8:40 AM
To: Ja

Subject: RE: Delivery Scheduling

I put this schedule last week for today delivery for them to follow up cause the lct base was available for pick up in Toshiba on Monday 5/9/11 until yesterday that the customer is not available

Monday, May 16, 2011

turkey

We've been bombarded by ads from Carl's Jr. about their new charbroiled turkey burger sandwiches that are supposed to be healthier for you since they have less than 500 calories (490 to be exact). That's quite a feat for a fast-food chain, especially one that constantly promotes excess in everything it sells (including the television ads featuring Miss Turkey).

The last time I ate at a Carl's Jr. was many years ago, back in the 90's sometime. I remember their burgers being pretty good but the french fries were awful. The reasons I hadn't gone in a long time were because everything was so excessive there and I also didn't like their television ads.

But.. maybe this turkey burger would be different. The pictures looked good. We had coupons. So we went to the one close to the house, and each ordered the one with guacamole along with criss-cut fries.

So how was it? Did it live up to the mouthwatering ads or was it like Red Lobster, all nice in the pictures and disappointing in actuality?

Well it wasn't as bad as eating at Red Lobster but it was nothing exciting. It was pretty meh. The chicken sandwich they were serving at El Pollo Loco not too long ago but unfortunately discontinued, was a lot better.

Carl's Jr: The wheat bun was kind of mushy. The turkey patty itself was okay, a decent-sized breast portion of real meat, not flaked and formed or pressed and smashed. The guacamole tasted like like it was scooped out of a tub from the grocery store. There's a slice of melted peppered cheese on top of the patty which was a nice touch and added some spice. Overall it was okay, nothing exciting.

El Pollo Loco: This was like a torta - the bread was better. The chicken patty was char broiled and real meat, like Carl's (chicken and not turkey, though) and it had more taste. The guacamole was also fresher and thicker. Like I said, unfortunately they stopped selling it so I guess it wasn't all that popular.

The turkey burger wasn't impressive enough for us to go back and have another one so I guess it might be another long span of years before returning to Carl's. It was okay, but the print and television ads have a lot more sizzle than the actual burger does.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

troublemaker

Sometimes I will be reading customer reviews on Amazon and one will strike a nerve so I am compelled to comment on it. That's the case for a one-star review someone did of Dumbo. Why the one star? Because it was a sad and depressing movie. That struck a nerve so I commented. Here's the whole thread:

The original review:

1 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars I love Disney but..., May 6, 2011
This review is from: Dumbo (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging) (Blu-ray)
don't get me wrong i love Disney movies.i own several of them on Blu-ray and am looking forward to future releases of theirs as they become available but people Dumbo is really sad and depressing. Don't get me wrong the animation is good but this movie upset me as a child and it is still upsetting. If i were a kid i wouldn't want to watch this over and over the way young children do.
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My first comment:
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Your initial post: May 7, 2011 10:45:35 AM PDT
monkuboy says:
So a movie has to be cheerful and happy to earn a higher rating from you?

In reply to your post on May 7, 2011 9:22:07 PM PDT
Of all the reviews on here I don't see why you are so bothered by this one, this person has given an actual review of the product, and explained their reasoning. That's an acceptable review even if I don't agree with them.

You replied with a later post


My second comment:

Your post, in reply to
an earlier post on May 7, 2011 9:43:53 PM PDT
monkuboy says:
Then I suppose an acceptable review of the Titanic would be that it is sad and depressing because the boat sinks. Don't get me wrong, the special effects are spectacular but the movie is upsetting because the boat sinks. I asked the reviewer a question, which, based on the way his review was phrased, is a legitimate one. He rated it very low because he found it "sad and depressing" which would imply that only happy movies would earn a higher rating from him. I don't see why you are so bothered by my comment. It is an acceptable one, even if you and I and the reviewer do not agree.

3 new posts since your last visit
Posted on May 10, 2011 6:20:02 AM PDT
David Mead says:
I suppose if one does not like depressing movies, then don't watch them. However, don't watch one that you know will depress you and then give it a low rating just for that reason. As an instructor of tv/film production and criticism, one thing I tell my students is to remove yourself from personal prejudices and view the film for its own merits. If one cannot do this, then don't review it (nudge to David Denby.)

Posted on May 10, 2011 6:24:31 AM PDT
David Mead says:
Just one more thing, I would be interested to know how this reviewer got his hands on the Blu-ray as it will not be released until September. Time travel perhaps or do you belong to the Academy?

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2011 3:12:35 PM PDT
Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just because the movie is emotional or sad doesn't mean it's bad. If it had bad story telling, pacing, bad artwork, those would be things to give it a low rating. But just because you find a movie sad isn't something to rate it low for. Especially making it 1 out of 5 stars. That's ridiculous. I suppose Bambi is also rated 1 star because his mother dies?

****

So there you have it, as of today. I just think it is ridiculous that someone should pan a movie because of the emotions it brings forth. I can just imagine the original reviewer being one of those types who supports having kids sports in which no score is kept, so that the loser doesn't have to feel bad and their self-concept is endangered. Instead, hey, everyone's a winner! We can all pat ourselves on the back because it's TIE SCORE! Argh...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

what's new

I thought I'd post an update.. as far as what's new, well work is still chaotic, extremely busy and it really is getting overwhelming. If all goes well I will be moving partially into a new area (marketing) and I am looking forward to that very, very much..

I also started another blog. If there are any audiophiles out there, please head on over and take a look: www.alternateaudiorealities.com It's my impressions about the world of audiophiles and a major premise throughout the blog is that people really don't hear the differences between equipment that they claim they do - most of it is all in their head, due to the power of expectations.

The other night I switched over to channel 5.2 (we only have regular television, no cable) and I saw part of the movie Fail-Safe. If you're not familiar with it, Henry Fonda stars as the president who faces some difficult decisions when instructions are accidentally given to drop nuclear bombs on Moscow.

When I first saw the movie ages ago, I thought it was good, mainly because of the tension and suspense built on whether the mission would actually go through or be stopped in time.

When I saw it the other night, I focused more on the psychology of the situation - what was going through everyone's minds, and how they acted. It's really a very well done movie. Since I didn't get to finish watching it this time, I just ordered it from Amazon.

If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. It's rather dated but the psychology is just as applicable to issues facing us today as it was back then.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

experts?

The other night, the newscaster had some good news to announce: That experts were predicting the price of gasoline would fall significantly from the painful levels we have right now, perhaps by as much as 50 cents a gallon, and perhaps as early as June.

Wow.. I have to ask - are these the same "experts" who just a couple of weeks ago were telling us to expect prices as high as $6.00 a gallon by the end of the year?

Just who the heck are these "experts" anyway? I would like to know if they are the same "experts" in both cases. Or is there an "increasing price expert" and a "decreasing price expert" and the news just contacts the one that is the right "expert???"

Seriously, I am bugged by this because to me, why do we need these so-called "experts" in the first place? It's tragic that people get paid to be "experts" in predicting things when they know no better than the average person, or a coin toss, yet they get paid for making these predictions.

Any time it comes to making predictions about stuff, I laugh when people turn to the "experts" to hear what they have to say. Whether it is with gasoline prices, sports (such as how the Lakers would get to the finals again this year), the stock market (some experts say the market is going up, some say going down), or whatever, just exactly what qualifies them to make predictions that are any better than what you or I could do?

I'll tell you what - a lucky streak in which their predictions have come true. Or maybe not even a streak, but an instance in which they called something against the grain and it just happened to turn out that way. So then everyone thought wow, this person must know something.. must have some inside track. And then they become a guru.

What you really need is to find a coin that has come up heads more often than tails. That can then be designated as an "expert" coin because it has been able more often than not to come up heads.

Over time, though, that coin will revert to the laws of probability, same as the so-called "experts."

The thing is, if that lucky coin happens to be a penny, it only cost you a penny, which is about all it is worth as far as being an "expert" coin. The sad thing is that the "experts" on the media get far more than what they are worth.

Monday, May 9, 2011

hindsight

Saturday I attended the memorial service for my high school buddy Rick's mom. I hadn't seen him or his mom since 2004 and it was good to see Rick, his family and the others I knew who showed up, although it was unfortunate as to the occasion for the gathering.

Rick was one of my best friends in high school. We'd go over each others houses and hang out, and it was definitely different going to his house because it was always so NOISY and CHAOTIC over there.

He was the only one with very young siblings. The rest of us were pretty much the youngest, but Rick was the oldest with a brother and three sisters. So we weren't used to all the racket and the squabbling and fighting that went on over there (and hearing Rick constantly yelling at them to shut up for stop doing this and that, etc.) and I thought this was one dysfunctional family.

Rick's mom was always very welcoming to us - always coming out to talk to us and ask us how we're doing, etc. Sometimes when there was music playing, she'd ask us if we wanted to dance. Well, that just wasn't how I expected parents to act with kids, even if we were in high school - I wasn't used to it.

I would wonder, what are these kids going to be like when they grow up if they all act so crazy right now??? The way I saw it, they were hopeless, haha..

That was back in the early 70's. I guess I am fortunate to be around now, after all these years, to answer that question. They all turned out very well. What I didn't understand back then, especially not having younger siblings, is that you just have to raise your kids right because that will sink in, but you also have to let kids be kids. I suppose I didn't realize I was just as, or even brattier (that was my usual term for his siblings, "brats") to my older sister.

Your upbringing becomes evident over the years and like I said, the whole family turned out very well. And of course a lot of that is due to their mom and dad's influence.

I look back and laugh at those high school days and also miss them because I think of how young we all were back then, and also think gee, if only we knew then what we knew now.

Anyway... it was a very nice and fitting memorial and I'm glad I got to pay my respect to Rick's mom. I just wanted to say here that the way the whole family turned out is a testimony to how both their mom and dad raised, loved and took care of them.

I'm really grateful for my own folks, too. I've certainly done my share of stupid things but that's no fault of theirs - it was my own stubborness or stupidity or whatever, but they always tried to instill in me the right values and like I said, for that I'm truly grateful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

gone are the days?

Someone sent me the link to a 1969 video of Red Skelton explaining what the Pledge of Allegiance means. I embedded it below - and think about how marvelous it is that he was able to say this on television without it being censored.

And how sad is the ending thought that he has, which has turned out to have come true in many instances. The times have indeed changed and I wish we had more people like Mr. Skelton on our televisions and in the media these days.




Wednesday, May 4, 2011

slow day..

Not much to report today. There's lots of turmoil going on at work but at risk of jeopardizing my economic well-being I will refrain from posting any comments. Instead, here's a couple of things I found on the web that I will comment on:

First, this guy posted a recipe for Quinoa, mixed with some ham and veggies and stuff and he also posted a picture of it. I clicked to see the enlarged version and the first thing I thought was that he was frying up a bunch of termites (click the pic to see a bigger version with bigger termites).


Next is a YouTube video of Finnish people and how they are really into car crashes and enjoy them immensely. I think they are crazy but apparently this is like the national sport or pastime over there. Sorry this probably spills over the margins but I can't make it any narrower: