Tuesday, September 24, 2013

experts

The Los Angeles Times reported today that a computer glitch has resulted in 80,000 people in California currently collecting unemployment to have not received their checks since September 1.

That's indeed a serious problem and as you might expect, many are angry about this.  A state senator had this to say about it:
Some are angry and upset. Some simply need the checks so they can pay the bills.  If this is prolonged, then it will cause ripple effects for people who can't pay their living expenses.
An economist at Cal State Channel Islands added this bit of wisdom:
It's a serious and critical situation.  Many people receiving benefits, they live check to check. If it's delayed even a day, it could mean that they can't eat.
Now, in no way am I downplaying the serious nature of this situation.  I hope this can be rectified quickly. But the purpose of this blog post is to ask, just exactly what is so rocket science that these quotes had to be obtained?  Isn't what they said merely common sense?  I mean, any fool would know this without having to have some politician tell you the first thing and some "expert" tell you the second.

Now had they responded with something like, 
The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.  Oh joy, rapture!  I've got a brain!
Then that would be real wisdom, eh? 

Okay, sarcasm aside, so often there is "expert commentary" that is added to things that really are nothing more than common sense, or observations that any ordinary person of reasonable, average intelligence could surmise. That goes for sports commentary, political commentary, or these quotes from newspapers.

Yet it seems we all need it. Just like how people like to leave the lights on in a room even if they aren't in it, or they leave the television on even if they aren't watching it.  We seem to want the comfort and security of noise.

Just think what life would be like if all the unnecessary stuff went unsaid instead of said. I guess there would be too much uncomfortable silence. You wouldn't have my blog to read either, I suppose.

Monday, September 23, 2013

global constant temp

There's an article in today's Los Angeles Times about how scientists are puzzled as to why the earth's average surface temperature hasn't increased over the past few years.  The Global Warming theory would call for rising temperatures, and this hasn't happened since just before the start of this century.

Those who believe Global Warming is a myth point to this lack of temperature rise as supporting their contention.

Meanwhile, scientists who believe Global Warming is a truth, albeit an inconvenient one, are scrambling to provide possible explanations as to why the temperature hasn't increased as would be expected under their theory.

Personally, I believe the reason the temperature hasn't increased is because Global Warming is a myth. That's not to say we should not take better care of our earth's resources and treat our environment better, but that all too often people take whatever scientists have to say as fact.  When in fact, as in the case of the theory of evolution, it is far from fact. 

So many people have declared to me that evolution is a "proven fact."  When I state my belief that God created the universe, I am told that I am close minded and on top of that, evolution is a proven fact. Just like there are people out there who will tell you Global Warming is a proven fact.  They aren't facts.

One thing to remember is that people have agendas.  Scientists are not like they are pictured in science fiction movies, or like the Professor on Gilligan's Island - they are not people who know everything and who are always objective and Mr. Spock-like unemotional about everything as they calmly and rationally present their findings.  They are all humans and they all have various motives for what they do.  Spin exists within the scientific community, same as it does anywhere else.

Now they are scrambling about trying to find an explanation as to why their theory doesn't seem to be working as it should. Maybe Global Warming is real and maybe it isn't, but regardless, when someone says, "Just the facts, ma'am," don't assume that scientists are any better qualified at presenting them than anyone else in this world.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

validation

I'll admit it, I've been nosy. I've been looking up high school yearbook pictures of people I know, over at Classmates.com.  It's interesting mentally morphing the yearbook pictures to the persons as they now are.

Some time ago in this very blog, five years ago this month to be a little more precise, I wrote about my obsession or infatuation with someone with whom I worked in the student store at UCLA.  At the time I thought she was the best-looking girl I'd ever known.

The thing is, as the years passed (and it's been quite a while since my college days), I couldn't even remember what she looked like.  I had no pictures of her, either.  I always wondered if she was indeed as good-looking as what I thought back then.  A few years ago I did find her on Facebook.  I never sent her a friend request since that was so long ago and heck, maybe she wouldn't even remember me, but it was useful just to see what she looked like in the present day. 

Present-day she was nice-looking, but not at all my idea of  the "best." But that was present day and my "best" notion was based on years ago. 

The other day I found a few pictures of her in her high school yearbook, courtesy of Classmates. Granted, this was high school and not college, but it was only a little more than a two-year difference in time so she couldn't have changed that much. 

It was validation time.

I looked at her high school graduation and other senior pictures and honestly, if I didn't know it was her by the name, I wouldn't have recognized her.  It had all faded too far from my memory.

So how did she look?  Was she the best?  Would she have been the best back then?

Well, same as present day, she was nice looking but I guess I was really infatuated back in the student store. I could see why I'd like her, especially when she smiled, and we got along very well having plenty to talk about (when I suppose we should have been working). In the upper percentiles, but not the "best."

What I thought was funny was how I didn't even recognize her in the pictures.  So much for my memory. But one thing was very satisfying, and that was having the opportunity for validation.

Friday, August 30, 2013

crafty

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.


Genesis 3:1-6 (NIV)
There are a lot of serpents around these days. I can imagine when the serpent told Eve that she certainly would not die and that instead her eyes would be opened and she would be like God if she ate the forbidden fruit, she must have stood there mulling over what he said, debating on what she ought to do. 

She probably figured she had good reasons for partaking of the fruit: it was good for food, it looked good, and she would gain wisdom.  Aren't those good and desirable things?  We would all like to be wise, wouldn't we? The serpent was making a lot of sense. And being the good person she was, she shared her fortune with Adam. 

Now we all know what happened after that. It didn't turn out well for either Adam or Eve. 

That's how it is these days.  People spend a lot of time discussing issues - mulling over this and that, same as Eve probably mulled over what the serpent told her. Mulling over what she saw with her own eyes, too. So based on that she made a decision.

The thing is, there wasn't any attention paid to what preceded what the serpent told Eve.  God had specifically said that she must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and she must not touch it.  That should have been all that was needed, case closed. Instead, the serpent was able to get Eve to focus on irrelevant matters. 

That's what goes on today.  Sure, a lot of people do not believe in the Bible so you can't blame them if they don't follow what it says. But a lot of folks who say they do believe in it, and a lot of folks who teach and preach from it, are the same way.  They let the serpent get them to focus on the irrelevant and they forget about what is written in God's Word or they think somehow that God's Word is what is irrelevant for these times.  It gets to where they wind up second-guessing God because somehow, the reasoning of this world makes a lot of sense to them. They forget who's the Boss.





Saturday, August 24, 2013

ten dollar lunch

The other day I had lunch with a coworker.  Well actually since I am still unemployed, technically it was with an ex-coworker.  I stopped by the office and we walked over to Jack in the Box for a budget lunch.

I told her I'd pay and just order whatever she wanted. I figured since it was JITB, how expensive could it be?

All together, we ordered six tacos, a cheeseburger, two orders of fries and two large drinks. The total came to $9.97.  It would have been less but I was so surprised I forgot to ask for a senior discount.  I found out that JITB offers senior discounts last year when the clerk was nice enough to assume I qualified without my even having to ask for one; this was discovered as I was looking at my receipt wondering why the register total said one thing and then the next moment was lower.

That's quite a bit of food for under ten bucks.  My portion was four tacos, and one of the fries and large drinks. I always have to get the mystery meat tacos when I go there - they've been my second favorite taco next to Tito's, and I've been chomping on them since the 60's. They don't seem to have changed any, either.

By process of deduction you could have figured out my coworker had two tacos, the cheeseburger, fries and a drink.  I have to say I was kind of surprised that she ordered (and finished) that much food. Yeah I know that's a chauvinistic thing to say or maybe I am just used to Julie who doesn't order very much.  There's a contradiction there because on one hand I appreciate it when people just order what they want and don't feel like they have to enryo, and on the other I am surprised when they do just order what they want and don't enryo. I guess because I'm the enryo type, to a fault.

Anyway, it was a filling, if unhealthy lunch but easy on the wallet plus I got my fill of mystery meat tacos for a while. And it was nice to catch up on what's been going on in the office since my departure.

Monday, August 12, 2013

the road not traveled

Not too long ago I received a Facebook friend request from an elementary school classmate.  I haven't seen him since junior high but I remembered his name right away and also recalled what he looked like back then.  The below photo is posted on his Facebook page (click the picture to see it in its entirety):


I'm not in it (so no, that's not me 2nd to the right in the 2nd row) because I spent the 6th grade at a different elementary school.

Even though it has been such a long time, I still recognized and remembered the names of a lot of my former classmates.  Would I recognize them as they are today?  Aside from Michael Jones (4th row up, third from the right), one of my best buddies that I got together with a few years ago, I haven't seen most of them since junior high at the latest.

I wonder how, if anything, my life today would be any different had I been in the above picture instead of a different 6th grade class at a different school?  Of course there's no real answer to that. Lives can be affected just by a butterfly flapping its wings on the other side of the world and we never know what's ahead of us later in the day.  But it's fun to speculate and reminisce. I'm glad I went to 36th Street School and wouldn't trade those times for anything else.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

soda

Recently someone in an audio forum in which I participate posted a link to an article about how soda is the public health enemy #1, it being so very bad for you. That triggered a discussion about how much soda was consumed by the forum participants. The results, as you might guess, were pretty varied with some folks saying they rarely if ever drink soda and some consuming quite a bit.

Some said they'd like to drink water but they want something that has taste to it, and they and others listed the healthier alternatives they drink instead of soda.

Me, many years ago I used to drink about a can a day of regular soda. These days I drink mainly water with my meals although when having fast food I'll get a Diet Coke. I also have a bottle of iced tea most mornings.  But mainly I consume water, and most of that is filtered tap water at room temperature.

Room temperature? Ugh!  I used to feel the same way about water as many other people do, which is that there's no taste to it and I wanted something with taste. Then when I started drinking more water, it had to be ice cold because room temperature water was so blah.

I got used to it, though.

These days I am fine with drinking water at room temperature.  I used to not like salads and veggies and stuff like that too, but once I started eating them more often, I got used to it. In fact I look forward to having a salad each day, and on days when I have few vegetables or fruits, I don't feel right about that.

Regarding foods that are bad for you - do we really need all these studies out there telling us so?  It seems to me that it ought to be fairly intuitive what foods are healthy and which ones are not.  Such studies just confirm what people already know anyway. Now once in a while you may get some controversial finding that upsets the cart, like how research showed the benefits of drinking red wine. Prior to that, people probably thought all wine did was make you get drunk and it wasn't good to consume alcohol.

The thing is, even though red wine has an ingredient in it that is supposed to be good for you, it is stupid to consume a lot of wine and get yourself drunk just for that reason because the negative effects of doing so outweigh any positive effects.  It's like how the Apostle Paul asked the question, if God shows us His grace by forgiving our sins, does that mean we should sin even more so we can enjoy more grace? 

It's a matter of common sense and moderation, a couple of things that seem to be in increasingly short supply in our society.  A person has to make their own decisions and make, sensible wise choices not only about what they consume, but about their life in general.  Often these "studies" are just a veiled attempt by people who have an agenda to legislate decisions and choices, to tell people what they can and cannot choose (New York being a shameful example).  The focus ought to be on facilitating the use of common sense.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

shipping

I wrote about my listening experiences with DAC's (digital to analog converters) the other day, and how I couldn't hear the difference between the one I just purchased and another one that I already had. Despite not being able to hear a difference I decided to keep the newer (and more expensive) one and sell the old one.

Someone bought the old one.  He lives clear cross the country in Washington, DC. I went to the FedEx, UPS and USPS web sites to try and get an estimate of how much it would cost to ship the package by each service. The original package had been sent to me via USPS Priority Mail but the carton size was slightly different from the flat rate package sizes offered by USPS - by less than an inch in any of the dimensions.

I decided to take the package to the post office to get a quote.  "This is almost the same size as the medium flat rate box," the guy at the counter told me.  USPS has a great shipping deal - they will send that flat rate medium-sized box, with all you can stuff inside of it, for $12.35 anywhere in the U.S. Well, almost anything; it has a weight limit of 70 lbs but unless you are sending matter that's been condensed by a black hole I don't think anything the size of that box weighs more than 70 lbs.

The key word here was "almost." It wasn't the same size. But since the original package had come via Priority Mail I figure the company had gotten a good rate on it so I asked the clerk how much it would cost to send this particular box. About $23. So for just a small difference in size, there was a significant difference in cost.  I wanted to use the original box since the foam padding inside of it fit just right.

I took a medium flat rate box - which incidentally was free - home with me to see if I could fit the DAC inside of it and save some money. Using the original padding, the box bulged a bit. I didn't want any bulges and didn't know if the post office would accept it, so I just shaved the foam padding slightly and voila, it fit nice and snug. I sealed the box, paid for and printed the postage online via the USPS site, taped it on the box and took it to the post office.

On top of that, you get a discount if you do everything online so the postage turned out to be $11.30. That, plus a signature confirmation, brought the total to $13.50. Not only that but with Priority Mail it would be delivered from California to DC in two days.

Compared to the online pricing I got from UPS and FedEx, USPS Priority Shipping is a downright bargain! The cost is about half, it gets there in two instead of five days, and even the box is free. I also feel more secure taking it to the post office instead of a UPS or FedEx dropoff point because the post office seems so much more "official" and I've noticed the customer service is pretty darn good, too.

No wonder they are on the verge of bankruptcy...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

complacency

The most recent book I've read is $10,000 Gold: Why Gold's Inevitable Rise is the Investor's Safe Haven, by Nick Barisheff.  As you might surmise from the title, the premise of the book is that the price of an ounce of gold is going to rise to $10,000, and sooner than you or I may think.

I thought the author put forth a compelling argument.  Now, will gold really hit that price or not, who knows. At its current price it has a long way to go but then there was a time when people may have thought the Dow at 10,000 was preposterous.

The arguments supporting the book's contention made a great deal of sense to me. I highly recommend reading it but for purposes of this blog post, I will make a very short summary: The U.S. economy has been artificially lifted up for way too many years, in large part due to its printing lots and lots of paper money out of thin air with nothing to back it up, and soon the game will be over because we cannot sustain this financial charade. The demand will be for something representing true wealth, like gold, rather than worthless paper. That will drive the price up, to the $10,000 level claimed by the author.

Now, some, maybe most, maybe all of you reading that preceding paragraph may feel there is some merit to it but you're probably also thinking I'm overreacting. After all, just look at how robust our economy is. The stock market is heading up and up, the numbers coming from the government paint a rosy picture ahead, and money is money, right?  So what if it is gold or paper, it's still money.

So it makes me sound and feel like the guy on the street corner holding a sign, screaming at cars.

It takes a lot more than just the above paragraph to truly explain the situation, a situation that I feel Mr. Barisheff has indeed explained very well in his book. If anything, get the book and make sure to read chapter 10, Gold Never Sleeps, which puts the solemn picture together.  When I try to do so with people, most of them get a glazed look in their eye.  Or else, as I just said, they think I am overreacting.

On top of that, people don't want to deal with negative stuff; they want to feel good. When things are going okay, then they get complacent. It's like the ending of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The inmates all had the opportunity to escape but before they did so, they decided to celebrate and throw a party. They got  so drunk they passed out. And then none of them escaped because they were still sleeping off the liquor when the staff arrived the next morning.

So what's the purpose of this post?  One, that I highly recommend the book because even if you have no plans to buy gold, it presents an excellent and realistic argument for why we are headed for troubled times in this country.  Two, I just wanted to put forth my observations about how people don't see what's in front of their face and they get complacent. Or maybe they just don't want to see; they'd rather just let the good times roll.

So I'm still the guy on the street corner holding a sign, screaming at cars.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

dacs and our nutty memory

One of my hobbies is audio equipment. People, including my wife, think I am nuts because I am always buying speakers.  Well, I don't always buy speakers, sometimes I buy other stuff, like a DAC.  Do you know what a DAC is?  It's an acronym for Digital to Audio Converter.  In other words, it takes digital information (1's and 0's) like what are on CD's and DVD's, and converts them into analog information that can be played through a stereo system or watched on a television.

In the audio word, much ado is made over nothing. That is, people will make the biggest fuss over the most minute of differences in specifications and sometimes over no differences in specifications but they still insist they can hear big differences.  So there are big audible differences claimed, for things with microscopic differences in specifications.

One of those things is a DAC. Audiophiles claim to hear big differences between DAC's.

The other day I purchased a new DAC and connected it to my system. I set it up in such a way that I could compare it to another DAC I have, as well as the DAC that is built into a CD player that I have, too. I listened to various well-recorded song samples while switching back and forth between the various DAC's to determine what differences there were.

I heard no differences. I listened through speakers and I listened through headphones and it all sounded alike to me. Granted, it all sounded fantastically good, but nevertheless, there was no audible difference I could discern.

It made me wonder why can other people hear such "jaw dropping" differences between equipment like that, and I can't?  I have no trouble hearing differences between speakers and headphones but when it comes to comparing amplifiers or preamplifiers... or DAC's, I don't hear differences. If you compare the specifications among them, they vary so slightly that it is below the ear's ability to hear a difference. But yet some with golden ears claim to hear differences.

The other day I put myself in listening enjoyment mode and just sat down to listen to a bunch of tracks using the new DAC. I was wowed and happy. It sounded great.  If I had not done my previous comparison I would have said that this new DAC made a definite improvement in my audio system. It was sounding good, good, good.

But, the fact is I HAD done a comparison and at that time couldn't hear any differences. I don't think anything changed with this new DAC between the comparison time and listening enjoyment time. It seems my memory is just faulty.  Well not actually faulty; I mean, how can you really listen to something even several minutes ago that has only a teeny weeny difference, and then be able to accurately assess the differences you hear?  I believe that often when people write about the jaw dropping differences between old and new audio equipment, their mind is playing old Jedi mind tricks on them.

Friday, August 2, 2013

when you're gone you're gone

Related to my post from yesterday, my friend and I were also discussing our funeral plans. Pretty morbid, huh?  She said her desire is to donate her body for scientific research, after which time they have done that research, the organization would handle her cremation. In fact they handle everything - the cremation, coming to pick up the body, having the death certificate issued, etc., all at no charge to the donor. That makes sense considering they get to use your body for research.

Her husband is opposed to that idea. He said, how do you know they don't abuse or violate you, or perform other misdeeds?  She said who cares, that isn't her in that body anymore - she'll be in heaven and that's just her former shell so what does it matter?  I agree.  When it's my time I don't want any muss or fuss, just cremate me, although the option of donating my body sounds plausible.

I can understand why loved ones wouldn't want to see that happen, though. They would like to have a fitting, respectful service - especially in line with Asian culture. But the thing is, instead of going to all that trouble, including the expense of a funeral which can easily run $15,000-$20,000 and more, why not celebrate the person when they are alive?  And use that money for something enjoyable while alive, too, instead of when it's too late?

She said when she had to deal with her first funeral, she didn't know what to do but everyone told her it had to be first class all around. Only the best. So she spent a lot of money. The next time around, she was wiser from that experience and bought the casket from Costco, where it cost about a third of what the mortuary would have charged. She didn't tell anyone, though, because she didn't want to hear people exclaim, "What??? You bought a discount casket from Costco???"  - Even though it was the same thing the mortuary offered.

Mortuaries make their profits off the guilt over the deceased, as well as good intentions expressed at a vulnerable time. They have to make money, too, so I am not criticizing them.  But the time to really "spend" on a loved one is when they are alive, not when they have departed.

Well, please forgive the morbidity of this post as it has strayed from the usual subject matter and tone of this blog but hey, we're all getting older. The stuff I think and talk about now is not the same as a few years ago. I didn't even like thinking about it before, wanting to pretend it wasn't there, but it is what it is.  It's all in the good Lord's hands as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

enjoy the day

The other day a friend was telling me about her recent Canadian vacation with a few of her long-time school friends. Initially they took these vacations every three years but decided to make it an annual event - to enjoy life before they got too old to go on such vacations.

We both agreed, you have to make the most of life at the moment, since who knows what is ahead of us even in the next minute. A mutual friend of ours, 55 years old, suddenly died from an aneurysm. In the morning he was fine, preparing his specialty breakfast for one of his daughters prior to her taking the SAT, and that afternoon he went into a coma and died without regaining consciousness.  The husband of a coworker suffered a massive heart attack while driving a van pool and was gone before they could get him to a hospital. You just never know what is in store.

That's not to advocate being reckless and partying like there's no tomorrow like the grasshopper instead of the ant, but only God knows what lies ahead for each of us and we should make the most of what He provides using the wisdom He gives us. There's got to be a balance between now and later; I understand the wisdom of delay of gratification as a means of preparing for the future but life's for enjoyment now, too.

Someone put it nicely, asking, "when you're on your death bed are you really going to regret not working that extra hour of overtime?"  That puts it into perspective although I suspect there are some folks out there who just might have those regrets.

My cousin told me there are some 250,000 elderly Japanese being kept alive by feeding tubes. When my folks were in a skilled nursing facility, I'd look around at the residents during my visits and at least from my current perspective, I have no desire to be so old that I can't really "enjoy" life. Perhaps the definition of "enjoy" will change as I get older.

For now, I agree with my friend who had her recent vacation - do what you can now while you're able to do it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

bee life

Yesterday I noticed there was a little bee on the inside of the kitchen window screen. Maybe it was a wasp.  Hard to tell because it was so small but I think it was a bee.

It was just sitting there. A few hours later I came back and it apparently hadn't moved at all.

This morning it was still there. Same place.

I was wondering, what is this bee thinking, anyway? Well, I know a bee doesn't really think, per se, but I wondered if it had any concept of time. On top of that I wondered if it wasn't getting hungry. Maybe something is running through its little brain, recharging it or doing some other maintenance function.

I see other animals motionless for long periods and wonder the same thing, if they have a concept of time.

On the other hand maybe animals look at people staring at a television for hours on end and wonder the same thing about those people.

In my previous post I mentioned how I am on "temporary retirement."  Maybe that bee was on the same status?  I sure wouldn't want to spend retirement that way, though.  At least in the evening the bee was gone so I hope it found a way to get out of the house.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

cadence

It's been over a month since I was laid off from work.  I'm looking for employment but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the time off during this "temporary retirement" or "vacation" or "time between jobs" or whatever you want to call it.

My idea of retirement was of being able to go to sleep as late as I wanted (and whenever I wanted) and the same for waking up - whenever I wanted. Throw away the alarm clock.  So how am I doing in that regard?

I still wake up early and go running in the morning while it is still relatively cool outside. There's an alarm clock on the days Julie works so I get up with that or sometimes before if my eyes open, and on the days she isn't working I wake up early anyway.  Then in the afternoon I take a walk which I like because it's my time to ponder everything that's going on.  And I'm in bed and sleeping before 11:00 each night.

That wasn't really what I was expecting to do, but I like it. Waking up early means I get an early start on things.  What I don't want is to become slothful.  So far, I have not been the least bit bored or without anything to do. In fact, I feel like there still isn't time enough to get everything done that I'd like to do, whatever that may be.

Through this period, I just trust in God. I ask that He give me neither too much or too little.  He always seems to make everything baby bear right.  As a friend told me, "God doesn't make mistakes," and he was absolutely right about that.  I'm looking forward to what the Lord puts before me.

Monday, July 22, 2013

from out of nowhere

Sometimes we get ants in the house, or other bugs like spiders, crickets, etc. Especially with ants, it seems like they seem to appear out of nowhere. I don't see them emerge from any place; rather, where at one moment the floor was clean, all of a sudden there is an ant right in the middle. At times it makes me wonder if they somehow magically appear out of thin air and are just.. there.

But then the other day I was watering the sorry-looking strip of wannabe grass in front of our house between the sidewalk and the curb and it seems like people do the same thing.

Since the hose is lying across the sidewalk, I don't want it to be an obstacle for people walking up and down the street so I am always looking to the left and right to see if anyone is approaching. And by golly, just like ants, people appear from nowhere.  What was at one moment clear as far as I could see down the street, the next moment someone is right there walking past!

Am I that oblivious? I know it's a weird thing to think about but my mind's always mulling over unconventional stuff.  Who knows, maybe the ants and these people materialize from nowhere. I just haven't caught them in the middle of that act yet.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

15 cents

In honor of their founder, Der Wienerschnitzel rolled back prices on their hot dogs to the original 1961 premier price of 15 cents today (Sunday July 21).  Unlike 1961, however, there was a limit of one per person imposed.

I was hesitant about going as I didn't feel like dealing with a big crowd of people lined up to take advantage of this bargain price. To my surprise, when we got there a bit after 11:30, it wasn't crowded at all. Julie and I each got a 15-cent dog (16 cents including tax) but you can't just have one chili dog, now can you?  With some fries and drinks the total came out to just under ten bucks, which for these days is still pretty reasonable.

How did it taste?  Just like it did when I tried my first one back in the 60's, when they were 18 cents apiece. Even back in those days that was a bargain price.  As I recall, it took them a while to offer french fries, however. No junk/fast food meal is complete without french fries.  I like Der Wienerschnitzel chili dogs - it's a great combination of ingredients!

How does the chili compare to Tommy's?  It has a more normal color than the Tommy's radioactive orange, that's for sure, but I think each is just right for what they cover. A Tommy's burger wouldn't be the same with Der Wienerschnitzel chili on it, and vice versa.  The first time I visited Tommy's was at the original location, enduring the long line, after seeing Chicago at the Forum.  They had no french fries either, but they did have potato chips.  I ate a couple of the burgers and had a horrible case of indigestion afterwards.

Those were the good old days - 18 cent chili dogs, 25 cent Jack in the Box mystery meat tacos..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

i spy

I've been watching episodes of the 60's series "I Spy" on DVD.  Each evening I try and watch one episode of this series featuring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as secret agents.  I remember back when it was on prime time my best friend, Michael Jones and I used to pretend we were Alexander Scott and Kelly Robinson, making missions of our own.

Last night I watched an episode I found interesting because of its relevance to today.  The agents job was to keep a U.S. diplomat out of trouble while he was in Japan meeting with someone high up in their finance department.  The purpose of the meeting: to dissuade Japan from redeeming U.S. dollars for gold.  The reason: because as Scott put it, the reserves at Fort Knox were a bit low and the redemption of paper money for gold would put too big a dent in those reserves.  In other words, the U.S. didn't have enough gold to give in exchange for the dollars.

How many dollars was Japan planning on redeeming?  $3 million. I found that rather funny, being a drop in the bucket compared to our current national debt that is roughly 5,333,000 times that amount. But back then, everything was cheaper. $10,000 was considered shock value when used as a figure for the cost of something, or a reward being offered. $100,000 meant you could probably retire if you had that much. So I suppose $3 million was quite the sum of money in those days (1965).

Perhaps Richard Nixon happened to be watching that episode because only a few years later, he took the dollar off of the gold standard reserve so that the U.S. wouldn't have to worry about anyone trying to redeem paper for gold.

Since that time, tons of paper money has been issued with no gold in reserve to back up or support the face value of that money.  Just how much gold is there in Fort Knox, or in reserve in this country?  They're not saying. Things are probably no different today than they were back then when it came to understanding the concept of money and what makes paper money worth anything - most people have no understanding.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Costco tour

Those who have read my earlier posts in this blog know I am a Costco fanatic. So when we go on vacation (or go anywhere, for that matter), if there is a Costco in the area or even reasonably close, I want to check it out.

This time we went to five of them.  Irvine, on the way down there, then in the San Diego area we visited the Mission Valley, Vista and Carlsbad locations, and on the way home stopped at Tustin. The one that we perhaps should have visited but didn't is the original barn-like location in closer to the heart of San Diego.

Just like the last time we were down that way, nearly four years ago, I came back wondering why do the San Diego area locations have a better selection of stuff than the ones up here?  For example, the wine selection is much wider at the three we visited, as was the food selection.  A couple have on-premise sushi chefs making what looked to me sushi that is far superior to the prepackaged stuff I see up here. I didn't look at the non-edible stuff as thoroughly but from what I saw, the selection of those items were larger as well.  Irvine was pretty decent but it still fell short of it's southern siblings. Tustin.. well, it was a waste of time visiting Tustin.

Maybe it's a good thing that the Costcos on our area don't have as wide a selection as the ones we visited down south because that would just mean a more depleted wallet.

Anyway, those are my observations/lamentations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

see world

We were on vacation last week, spending a few days down in the San Diego area.  We stayed at a great bed and breakfast place in Carlsbad called the Pelican Cove Inn.

Pretty much our entire Monday was spent at Sea World, from a few minutes after they opened, until closing time. I don't see how big families can afford to go to these entertainment parks but apparently they can, evidenced by how crowded it was.  It's a matter of priorities, I guess.

Our "discount" tickets cost $64 each.  Parking was $15. We thought about going outside the park for meals but decided for convenience's sake as well as not really knowing where in the area to go, that it was simpler just to remain captive and eat there.

We ended up purchasing a couple of "Meal Deals" which, for $32.99 each plus tax, entitled us to unlimited food from the main four eateries in the park. For each visit we could get an entree, a side or dessert, and a drink.  Considering a hamburger, fries and drink would set you back at least $16, it made sense to get the deal and have lunch, dinner and some mid-day snacks instead of paying for everything separately.

The food wasn't bad as far as amusement parks go. We ended up getting our money's worth and came out ahead, that's for sure. For dinner we got the BBQ combo that was supposed to include baby back ribs, pork ribs and beef brisket but they ran out of brisket and gave us extra ribs instead.

So that brings me to the real purpose of this post which is to ask what is so special about baby back ribs?

They are small. Sure the meat is tender but there isn't much of it. I guess because they were so small, the ones we got were well done and a bit tough. I thought the regular pork ribs were better - more meat, a better meat to bone ratio (I hate dealing with bones) and they tasted just fine. And they cost less, too.

Anyway, we had a fun day going to see Sea World. We both came back looking like lobsters from being out in the sun all day and not having the foresight to bring sun screen or caps.  With caps being $21.95, we opted to look like lobsters.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

slow bus

I think South Korea has the slowest buses.  What makes me say that, even though I've never been there?

Watching Korean dramas.

Invariably a scene takes place in which the female lead gets on a bus. The male lead, who has been desperately searching for her, sees her get on but the bus takes off before he can get aboard so he chases the bus for about 8 blocks before it finally gets beyond his hope of catching up to it.

How long can you run and keep up with a bus?  Even if you could do it for 8 blocks the exhaust fumes would knock you out. 

I've also always wondered why in South Korea that when someone in standing in the middle of the street, drivers see them, honk at them, but instead of stopping they run over that person.  So it must also be pretty unsafe over there.

In the United States, one of these days we will have a law that limits how fast buses can drive. It will be called the "no passenger left behind" act.  We will also have pedestrian lanes in the middle of the highway or street if people want to stand there for whatever reason, because by then that sort of thing will be politically correct and we will redefine the word "highway" and "street."

Friday, July 5, 2013

back again

I guess it's about time for a new post, seeing as how the last one was in October of last year. My typing fingers (4 out of 10) were feeling itchy.

How was your 4th of July? On July 4th last year, we had a BBQ at my brother in law's house for lunch and went to the Stonefire Grill for dinner.  How do I know this? I keep a record of each day's breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lest you think I have OCD, which I may well have, the original reason for doing this was back when I was doing a lot of running, I would keep track of what I ate to determine if there was a correlation between that and how I felt when I ran the next day. Even though I don't run nearly as much now as then, I still keep a record of my meals.

I mentioned our year-ago meals to Julie. She remembered that Stonefire Grill closed early on the 4th and by the time we got there they had run out of the tri tip that I had been looking forward to devouring. I said, "that BBQ at your brother's was already a year ago?  It doesn't seem that long."  But yup, it was. Julie refreshed my memory as to who was there and it all came back to me. All I had remembered was the meat was real tough. I can write that since my brother in law doesn't read my blog.

Anyway, keeping track of meals is sort of like a journal, in that occasionally I will refer back to what I ate on a previous day and it might bring to mind what we were doing on that day, too. Like four years ago we were on a bus tour vacation that went across a bunch of states and took us to places like Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.  Again, I'm thinking it really does not seem like that much time has passed.

In the present, time often seems to drag by. Like when I had to get one of my speakers repaired so I sent it back to the company in Tennessee.  It seemed like forever for it to be returned, since the time included shipping across the country. But the speaker got back safe and sound over a week ago and now it doesn't even seem like it was missing.

Such is life... time passes.  What is here and now is gone the next day.  You wait so long in anticipation for something and then, like Christmas, it comes and it goes.  I'm happy and thankful for each day, though, and look forward to what God has in store. Each day is a day that the Lord makes, and it's good to rejoice and be glad in it and for it.