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


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.