Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Weather outside is....


The weather outside is delightful
But the mall is so frightful
And since there's only one day to go
Let us shop, Let us shop, Let us shop

Well, I've seen no sales on the way
Must be saving them for Boxing Day
My feet ache and I may drop
Let us shop, Let us shop, Let us shop

When we finally come in for the night
It's all about getting it wrapped
But as long as the paper is tight
And someone passed me a nightcap
Let us shop, Let us shop, Let us shop

I know, my poetry sucks -- Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holiday spirit

The Gift of Time

Wouldn't a gift of time be the ultimate gift for the holiday season? What if you could give somone an extra hour a day for a week? I know that it's not possible to give time, but think about it...what would the power in that be? I can always use more time. I would like an extra hour of evening sunlight in the winter. I would like an extra hour of sleep at night. What a priceless gift. People ask me, "what do you want for the holidays?" My first thought is always time. More time! Isn't it amazing how life changes. When I was in my twenties that first thought was money.

Sometimes we get little gifts of time when we fly west across a time zone and are given an hour or two. This gift is quickly taken back when returning home, because time is cruel. Sometimes I feel like I'm stealing time when I'm finished a project early and find myself with an open chunk or hour in the middle of the day. What if I could bank that time? Think of how rich one would be with time saved in the bank. Richer than Bill Gates and the Walmart clan for sure.

As you read this blog today, think about our most precious commodity on this earth -- TIME. Do you always use it wisely? Is watching TV with your lover a wise use of your time? What about downtime? Everyone needs more downtime. I could certainly use more uptime.

Sweet childish days, that were as long, As twenty days are now.
-- Wordsworth

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wonders of modern technology

The cable guy was here. I picked up a new dual tuner DVR/Cable box from comcast on Monday. I was very excited. I installed it and nothing but problems. The guy is here today and has gone thru 3 new boxes before finding one that he thinks will work. Isn't that promising....
Just so you know, if you are having voice/mouth syncing problems between your HDTV & the cable company, it could be the quality of physical cable you are using. Nowadays, with HDTV you MUST use component video or DVI cables. It was like watching a japanese Godzilla movie dubbed in English.

My printer hates me. Its one of those combo jobs, multi-function they call it. Too bad it doens't function at all. My old Brother Multi-function was a black and white laser that worked perfectly fine. I just needed a new drum and it was $225; but for $200 I could get this other Brother MFC that was COLOR. It was inkjet and I thought, well, who cares...it's color. How fun will that be. I can print Well, apparently no fun at all. The printer only lasted a year and 100's of dollars in inkjet cartridges. I don't print that much....

There's a conspiracy you know. It's all about the consumables baby. People don't think about consumables. Whether it's an ink cartridge, saw blade, drill bit, or copper cabling, it's all about the $$$$ The $$ is in consumables.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another tragic human legacy



The October 2005 issue of National Geographic has a stunning pictoral review of the Outer Hawai'ian islands, or more appropriately atolls and reefs. The compelling portion of this story was the trash that has accumulated on these far flung, uninhabited isles and how the hundreds of thousands of seabirds eat it, ingest, feed it to their young and die from it. Mostly plastic but this bird in the picture had a lighter, a couple bottle caps and mounds of plastic. It died from starvation as you can imagine. Plastic having no nutritional value.
I've subscribed to the National Geographic magazine for decades (OMG! did I say that) and like to think I do my tiny part in educating myself and supporting their causes. However, with that said, it's hard to read sometimes. After all, coming face to face with the staggering number of unimaginable atrocities we've committed on planet earth and her inhabitants is hard to bear.

Further reading material on the wonderful spread of plastic pollution throughout our oceans:
Europe:
South Africa:
Pacific Ocean:

And the worst of it all, an excerpt below:

One bright summer morning when the captain of the private research vessel Alguita sighted an island where no land should be. The size of Central Europe, this floating island was made of plastic bags.
Six-million of them, according to the logbook of the vessel that lost them. Destined for Taco Bells across the USA, the junk food bags had collected into a single massive blob more a thousand miles off California’s dreaming shore.
As correctable as any unconscious habit, plastic pollution pervades the high seas. The plastic island Moore logged in February 2004 was found inside the three-million square-mile area of the North Pacific Ocean directly under a giant “H” on TV weather maps. Now dubbed the “Eastern Garbage Patch”, this vast high-pressure zone mirrors and interacts with a oceanic circulation called the North Pacific gyre, whose endless rotation traps and congeals our refuse under the scrutiny of starving seabirds who see the tiny plastic pellets as food.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My first ball mark on the green..

That's my ball mark. It's huge, eh. In the background, middle of the picture is the flag. I was so excited, hopping up and down from the tee. That ball even took a piece of grass with it! I'm sorry to say that I missed the putt for birdie but made the par.

Rancho Park

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

2000 Graves


Not sure if any of you noticed or heard, but on Santa Monica beach to raise awareness of the 2000th US Soldier dying in the Iraq war or conflict or invasion... these graves were set up on the beach. It was a sobering site to be sure. Some crosses had names on them and how/when that soldier died. I wanted to take a picture and continue in my small way to pass that awareness along.
The "fresh" looking graves near the front of the picture are just that - new deaths over the 2000 that died while the memorial was up.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Idiocy of Air Travel in America

Today's SFO events:

-> A United counter agent calls the SFPD on an international business class traveller
-> TSA takes my last screwdriver

There was a long line for the Premier Executives (and everyone else) in SFO this morning and people were getting frustrated. There was only 3 (up from the usual 2) agents to handle this long line of self-important frequent fliers (myself included). This obviously foreign fellow gets up to the counter (you could tell he was flying on a paid fare business class ticket from somewhere abroad, $$$$) and he says "I've been waiting for 30 minutes, why are there not more people working? What is the hold up?". The snotty agent promptly says, "you should tell management to hire more people, it's not my fault." The guy says, "I'm the customer, I'm the reason you are in business, you should smile and say I'm sorry." The snotty united counter agent calls the SFPD. Can you believe it!? I was shocked. 3 SFPD show up and take the guy aside and talk to him. You think he'll ever fly United again? I guess not.

I've had this screwdriver in my laptop bag for 4 years. Yes, you read it right, 4 years. It's been through more airports than I can count, always coming away unscathed, until it's 2nd visit to SFO. It's not a big screwdriver, about 3 inches long in the shaft, which is metal, and that slips into a plastic handle of about another 2 inches. They searched the bag and took it. I was so sad. It was my last Baypoint Innovations screwdriver. That's the company that was bought and sold and I have fond memories. sniffle, sniffle

Friday, November 04, 2005

Whacky Tourists...


This is Arlene and Dena dressed in their "wacky tourist" outfits. Scary aren't they. This is the first year since, well I cannot remember when, since Dena has dressed up. I have to admit she was very into it and completely in character. Matter of fact she drove us nuts she was in character for so long. Her moniker was Myrtle, sounds like turtle and she was from Miami but originally hailing from NYC. A little scary she had an entire history and life for this character. The shoes certainly make the outfit.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Captcha - What is it?


You've seen it before, probably when buying tickets or what have you. This technology is for preventing automated ticket buying agents or "bots" from buying up all the good tickets from Ticketmaster. The technology is called CAPTCHA and stands for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart". It is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human. A common type of captcha requires that the user type the letters of a distorted and/or obscured sequence of letters or digits that appears on the screen. Because the test is administered by a computer, in contrast to the standard Turing test that is administered by a human, a captcha is sometimes described as a reverse Turing test.

So this technology is being used to prevent a new type of spam, called Splogging. A splog is where an automated program creates a useless spam type blog or website and puts code on it so that google and other search programs will "index" it and think, oh, good web site, make it available to people when they are searching. Splogs have become a major problem on free blog hosts such as Google's Blogspot service. These fake blogs waste valuable disk space and bandwidth as well as pollute search engine results.

Google's Blogspot has provided me with the opportunity to use Captcha to prevent spammers from putting comments on my blog (spam comments). So, if any of you leave comments you'll be asked to enter in the captcha phrase, like on ticketmaster. And thanks for your comments....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Views from the air



I was flying home from Seattle the other day, my home away from home, and a pretty spectacular thing happened. We failed to climb very quickly after take off, but I just ignore anomalies in the air now. The pilot soon came on the intercom & said that we were @ 13,000' and were going to stay there while we flew by Mount Rainier. Well, Mt. Rainier is 14,000' high. So, we'd be just below it. It was on the left side of the plane and the view was stunning. I was so sorry I didn't have my digital camera. The view to the left here in the Blog is sort of what we saw, but in no way captures the image. If there had been a hiker up there, I could have waved at him and him at me & we would have had a moment.

So we're flying along all chatting excitedly on the plane about what we've just witnessed and the pilot comes back on and says he's feeling sorry for the people on the right hand side of the plane. He says he's going to do a flyby on Mount St. Helens. He had climbed to around 20,000' and Mount St. Helens was just below and to the right. Normally when flying over this area of Washington State, Mt St. Helens crater is shrouded in clouds. The pilot literally tipped the plane on it's side and we got a view right inside the crater. We could see the steam coming out of the volcanic vents and the moon like landscape inside the crater, amazing. Then, he did it again. Did you read that? He DID IT AGAIN! What a rare opportunity that United pilot had afforded me. Thanks.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The lives of the rich and not so famous


Dena & I had the marvelous good fortune to end up with dugout club seats. We were in those mysterious blue seats directly behind home plate. What you don't see beneath there is an entire restaurant, catered by Wolfgang Puck. For Sept. 5 they were serving a lovely Honey glazed turkey with a cranberry/apricot sauce, Thyme infused flank steak, a plethora of grilled vegetables, unlimited Dodger dogs, a freezer full of Hagen Daas and much, much more! Too much to list, I don't want any drool on your keyboards.

With Derek Lowe (Dodgers) and Hennessey (SF Giants) on the mound and yummy peanuts in our hands we left the air conditioned comfort of the club and sat in our seats. What a different view and different feeling. You are almost not part of the crowd, but part of the field. The sound is different, you can hear the umpire call the strikes, see the smirks, frowns or smiles on players faces as a ball or strike is called and you can talk trash to the visiting players as they stand in the on deck circle. They can hear every word because you are no more than 5 feet from them. We watched a rookie whose first major league at bat be belittled by several fellows in the blue seats and could almost see him visibly squirm in his uniform.

This was an experience we will never forget. What an amazing view. We still like our seats though! We like to be part of the crowd.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Falcon



Flickr is an amazing photo web site that you should check out. Spectacular and breathtaking will be words you'll need when you view it.

**** PODing *****

The world of iPods turn me on. I just like the name, the look and the technology of it all. Podcasting, there’s another cool term. Doesn’t it just roll off your tongue like you’re an in the know Gen Xer? Don’t you want to podcast just to say you do it? I’ll bet some of you are wondering what the hell podcasting is? Well the definition is here

Will iPods take over the world? Well probably not that far but they’ll certainly replace your stereo soon enough. Soon we'll just have iPod docking stations around the house and just dock as we go, or, better yet, have speakers around the house and dock when we come in the door. Did you ever imagine 5 years ago that Apple would be saved by what is essentially a MP3 device? Have you seen the iPod Nano? OMG! It’s so cool, why would you buy any other music device? This is not just for the hip or in the knows, this is for everyone that listens to something in their cars or in their ears. You can upload podcasts, ebooks (aka books on tape), music and who knows, probably soon, TV. It’s all right there at your fingertips, literally.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

We've come a long way baby

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when opening my hotel room door I saw a picture of Melissa Etheridge on the cover of the USA Today. She had a teaser spot on the front page for a story in the Life section. I quickly flipped to the LIFE section, careful not to let anyone see me in the hall.......and there she was, on the cover of USA Today's Life section. I thought how enjoyable, I'll read that later. You can read it now at this link.

I had thought this would be an article about her breast cancer and perhaps a new album; what I was surprised about when I did read the article was that it was mostly about her wife (self described by Melissa) and her family and her breakup and her new outlook since the cancer. Her lesbian relationship and her family were prominent story features.

If you happen to pick up the USA Today you should also note that the article below it, "stop if you've read this before" is an article by a fellow about reading glasses and getting older. The surprise in the article is the male author's casual mention of his partner as if it was normal. Don't you love being normal. It's been a long time since gays and lesbians were normal, ok, never...... I've always wanted to be just another person in the scheme of things and not someone who has to fight for rights. Hopefully this mainstreaming trend will allow people (the normal ones) to think of us as just like them with lives, loves and sorrows.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You ever wonder.....

I wonder why my urine smells after I eat Asparagus. Don't you? Well, I've found out why and thought I'd share it with all of you. Asparagus is considered one of the most nutritionally balanced foods out there. It's filled with sulfur-containing amino acids that break down during digestion into six sulfur-containing compounds. These can impart a unique smell to urine as they are excreted. "It's the same sulfur group that makes skunks smell," said Barbara Hodges, a dietician with Boston University's nutrition clinic, the Evans Nutrition Group.

Why don't I smell it you ask? Scientists remain divided on why people have different urinary responses to eating asparagus. One camp thinks only about half of the population have a gene enabling us to break down the sulfurous amino acids in asparagus into their smellier components. Others think that everyone digests asparagus the same way, but only about half of us have a gene that enables us to smell the specific compounds formed in the digestion of asparagus.

The unusual smells are nothing to worry about, though. According to the Dictionary of Medical Syndromes, which includes an entry on the urinary excretion of odoriferous components of asparagus: "The syndrome does not have any pathological significance

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Johnny Carson memories

Tonight's Emmy award's tribute to Johnny Carson brought back many memories for me. I remember in the late 80's taking my gramma to see him. We stood in line at NBC and it wasn't really that hard to get in unless he had someone really quite famous as a guest star on. I really wanted to take gram there because she watched him every night. It was a lot of fun seeing Johnny even if we were in the cheap seats....

Then I remember taking my sister, mom and brother-in-law Ian to see Jay Leno. We were not early enough to get a good place in line. Jay Leno was very popular and we were pretty near the cut off for what the studio could hold. Krystal really wanted to sit in the coveted "woody's". These are/were seats that Jay puts all the good looking girls in and they are at the front of the studio. You see, Jay wants good looking women in the front row seats for him to look at. As they were letting people in and the flood was turning to a trickle, they started counting empty seats, we were next.

The seat filler took one look at Krystal and put her in the woody's. She later said they were quite uncomfortable. Ian and my mom got a seat and they said I could have a seat later in the show after the gorilla vacated mine. Isnt' that wierd, "oh me, well I have to sit in the green room because a gorilla is in my seat". Yeah, there's a wierd statement. However, how many people can say they have sat in the green room of the Jay Leno show? For those of you not in the know, the green room was made famous by Carson and is traditionally where guests wait before being called to the stage.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pony Rides.....


Off we went to Griffith Park to try out hand at the Pony rides. Mom decided to put Grace on the Pony that goes around in circles because Krystal could walk beside her. She thought Grace would be nervous. No way! After that little ride Grace wanted to go on the other horses, the ones where Mom couldn't walk beside her. As you can see by the picture here Grace did perfectly fine and seemed to completely enjoy herself. A well spent $2 investment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Building a bear with Love


Gramma, Auntie Dawn and Grace went off to Build-a-bear while Mom shopped. Here is Grace warming & kissing a heart to go in her new bear. The bear is called Beach Bear Bob. He has a nice red hawaiian shirt and matching red hat and some stylish Californian sandals. Hang loose baby! It's hard to believe Grace is only two.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Grace our little Hollywood Star


Our little Hollywood star is here in her new Barney shirt and hat that Auntie Dawn and Dena bought her. Mom is a little mad cause she won't take it off! I love being an Aunt!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Landscaping the Backyard - AFTER


After a long series of small but significant project in the backyard, it's finally finished. I highly recommend 4sod.com as a source of extremely reasonably priced Marathon sod. We purchased the IIe variety as it is specially bred for Southern California. The backyard now has a richer feel and inviting alure to it. When's the next party you ask??

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Landscaping the Backyard - BEFORE



After we put in cedar chips around the flower beds, added lights & the scalloped edging, we were ready for the sod. And there it was, 5:30a it was delivered. How exciting. I can't wait for the after pictures!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Repo Man Road Rally

I dragged Dena & Arlene to an outdoor showing of the cult classic Repo Man sponsored by the Alamo Roadshow. None of us had ever done a road rally and though there were a few testy moments we did have fun. We were first to the first clue, which was a tire/muffler place on Mission Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Highlights to the day include going down a tunnel to the LA River and meeting the neighborhood homeless speed freak who was extensively tattooed; Dawn doing a face plant while running across the 4th Street Bridge/street, probably the highlight there is that I didn't get run over by a semi truck while sprawled across the white lines.

We had a major breakdown following my kareoke stint at the Japanese Village. I suppose I should explain that. One of us had to sing "punk rock style" to Little deuce Coupe. I was elected, now I have to tell you, it's not fair that she made me start the song in the middle. Arlene said I totally didn't do it punk rock style, I did it with my hips swaying 50's style. What can I tell you. Anyways, the clue was "if G Money and Les Nessman owned a convenience store, what would it be called? The store is East of one of the bridges." Well you could say we got off on a wrong tangent thinking WKRP in Cincinnati, I took the van up to Mission when all along the store was off the 4th street bridge. There's no bridge on Mission. This is where things got testy. It was hot, we were tired and ready for a cold one. We had to call in and get a clue, which was basically that the damn store was called "GLess Meat Market" Who was going to guess that??

Monday, August 22, 2005

Grocery Store frequent shopper cards

Your PRIVACY IS AT STAKE!

When you signed up for your frequent shoppers card at Ralphs, Albertsons or Safeway did you use your real name, address, phone #, birthdate, etc? What information do you think they are collecting on you? You do realize that they are collecting all your shopping habits, what you buy, when you buy it, how many Entemann's Key Lime pies you eat, how many cartons of cigarettes you smoke, etc. I wonder if my shopping habits could be used against me in a lawsuit, let's say I sued a tobacco company for my spouse's death from lung cancer. The grocery store possibly could be served a subpoena as to what brand of cigarettes we bought and when or even if we bought them.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to use a fake name, address, etc., when filling out the application form for the grocery card? Unless you cash checks at the store the information you put on the application is only of use to the store and those marketing firms they sell it to. Do you ever wonder if they could tell after let's say 100 shopping trips if you would vote liberal or conservative? I would think that whether you bought organic produce or not, ketchup or deli mustard, or salmon vs. Hamburger helper could be used to profile you.

A couple of interesting web sites are below detailing out some recent developments or events regarding grocery cards and their impact to privacy on the citizens of the world:

Firefighter charged with arson
Seattle Presstake on grocery cards and the bigger picture

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Finished Walkway


Yes, 4 weeks later (or was it more?) the flagstone front walkway is finally finished. Amazing how long small items like this take. Contractors are so busy nowadays spending people's home equity loans that they have no time for small time jobs like this.

Where would you move if you sold your recently doubled in price home? Well, unless you moved out of California, probably nowhere for the same or less $. So, why not just fix up your house with all your newfound equity? That's what most people are doing, hence the shortage of contractors and their attention.....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Are we really free?

I'm reading this book called the Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. It freaks me out to be quite honest with you. It's set about 10 years from now, modern day, and normal citizens (like me and you) are being quietly and covertly manipulated by fear, terror and diversions. Does this sound familiar? I've been reading it for about a week. The book mentions passports with RFID chips. The day after I read that section the USA Today ran an article about the US Government issuing RFID passports. I discuss RFID's and the possible privacy implications of them in a downline blog.

The book then goes on to talk about implanted PLID's in the human body. Well these are also being trialed in kids and adults alike. A PLID is a personal locating ID, implanted under the skin and your exact location can be tracked. Do you really want that? Do you not think that your habits could be catalogued and "subversive" activities stopped? The GPS in your car could be used to automatically ticket you if you were driving in the carpool lane because they know you are single, surveillancelaince camera to determine you are the only occupant and BAM! you have a ticket in the mail. Just something to think about.

What about privacy? Do we need more video surveillance cameras all over the place? Did you know that face scanning and recognition software is available? Yes, as you pass by a video camera your face can be scanned, tied to your passport photo and your whereabouts pinpointed exactly. Kind of freaky, eh?

Some interesting articles to note on the security and privacy of upcoming technologies:

Passports

Implant Trends

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

RFID's What are they really?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) and Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies are being implemented to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce shrinkage by providing more accurate tracking of goods and assets. RFID are being used to replace the bar codes now used to identify products. Many large retailers, including Wal-Mart, have recently announced their intentions to move over to RFID technology in the near future. RFID allows these companies to track their products using radio-frequency identification tags that can be scanned by radio waves at any time.

An RFID tag is a chip that can contain information such as a product's expiration date and temperature, and it can be scanned from a distance of up to 30 feet. This makes it a lot easier for a retailer to find products in a warehouse and keep track of what condition they're in -- big advantages when it comes to managing inventory. (Hmmm you think, 30'. Will they use it for other things? What about when I buy it?)

If used effectively RFID could have a massive impact on many industries with deliveries telling you what's inside before you open the box or a supermarket trolley being wheeled through a checkout with an instant total, the issues as always surround privacy. Who is to say that the RFID tag meant to help a store track its inventory will stop being used when it leaves their premises? All the trials to date have gone to great lengths to show that the tag information is not being sought after it leaves the store but the tag is not deactivated so there is an opportunity for it to be interrogated by 3rd parties be they connected or unconnected to the retailer the standard allows for enough power so that tags can be read from a distance of 20 meters.
The giant retailer Wal-Mart has been very cagey about its use of RFID only confirming trials and trying to allay consumer fears, but to date no retailer has deployed the technology that would kill RFID tags at the store exit, unnecessary the retailers claim, big brother claim the civil liberties groups. Which ever way you see the technology there is no doubting that it could have the largest impact on commerce since the rollout of barcode scanning.

Something to think about......

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's not all bad


On one of our boat rides in Puget Sound, this was the view. Actually, everyday we can see Mt. Rainier towering over the area. It's been quite clear and rain free for most of my 3 week business trip from hell up here.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

My big catch #1


This is my big starfish catch in Gig Harbor fishing. We had great fun on Sunday on the boat, cruising and fishing. I did catch a 2' shark.....which we let go and no one got a picture of. And that ain't no fish tale...........

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Starting the backyard patio -- it's hard work but hopefully worth it. This is just lining them out and testing...... Did you know I have bricks from the 1900's and 1920's? Did you think bricks could be antiques?

Monday, July 04, 2005

26.99%

I admit, I'm often too busy to closely monitor my incoming bills. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice...well, you know the rest (President Bush didn't) I looked at my Mileage Plus Visa bill closely a month ago and wondered why in the world was the interest charged on the balance so high? Then I examined the bill closer and discovered (after much searching) and much to my dismay, that the interest rate on the card had jumped to 26.99%. That's absurd! I looked back through my 2005 bills and in December of 2004 it was 10.85% and then somewhere in February it jumped to my new outlandish rate. What was the catalyst? I have no idea.

I know that credit card companies nowadays will raise interest rates if you're late on a payment, (even by a day), if some sort of promotional period has expired or if you go over your limit. None of these had happened to me, however, I did see that First USA Visa had merged with Chase Visa (the new owner of my Mileage Plus account). That is when the rate went up. Credit card companies don't want you to call or look at your bills. We owe it to ourselves to constantly monitor our credit card bills.

I called each of my credit cards, B of A, Chase and my Mileage Plus Visa. Each of them lowered my rate, one all the way down to 8% EXCEPT Mileage plus Visa, they kept the high rate. Needless to say I will not be using that card and will probably cancel it. They said to call back in 2 weeks. Yeah right. Take control of your finances, remain viligant!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Vancouver

Stepping off the plane and into the night air in Vancouver I could smell it. The wonderful, deep smell of wood. Visions of majestic redwoods and towering pines flashed through my head. It was a heady feeling and I felt the longing to come home to Canada. Days later, after spending time in Vancouver reality set in. It is really just another big city with the visual advantage of the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.

My final impressions of Vancouver is that it is a big city like so many others with its own set of problems and adventures to be had. It's a city without freeways or embedded highways. This is bizarre to me. This metropolis goes on as far as the eye to see - you actually just get around by driving through city streets with stop lights the whole way. How inefficient. Asians permeate Vancouver. Not that I'm prejudice or anything, but the whole city is almost exclusively Asian. Chinese people even own and run the sushi joints.

It strikes me that Vancouver is definitely a place to discover more, but probably more likely the outlying areas, like Victoria Island, Whistler, Goose Mountain, etc. Vancouver is just the endpoint for the airplane - the rest of British Columbia is out there to explore.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

5 Tips to avoid viruses & deal w/ email attachments


Follow these basic guidelines when dealing with attachments in an e-mail message, no matter what e-mail program you're using:
1. Don't open any attachment unless you know whom it's from and you were expecting it.
2. If you receive an e-mail message with an attachment from someone you don't know, delete it immediately.
3. Use antivirus software and keep it updated.
4. If you need to send an e-mail attachment to someone, let them know you'll be sending it so they don't think it's a virus.
5. Use spam filters to help block unwanted e-mail, much of which contains dangerous attachments. For information on how to do this with Outlook, see Update junk e-mail filters for Outlook.


Garage Sale Madness -- even the tow truck driver was doing a good business on the double parked cars!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fighting mediocrity

Do you ever find yourself mired in the mediocrity of life? I was driving around the other day in my vehicle and looked around the insides. When did all these stains on the floor mats happen? Shouldn't the vehicle get vacuumed out once every lifetime? Why did I let my backyard get to looking so sad? What about my appearance? My wardrobe? My daily dress? My relationship? My job? Have I slipped into a happy complacency going through my life settling for a continued decline in everything around me?

Fighting mediocrity is very difficult, since we are surrounded by increasing levels of mediocrity on TV, newspapers, magazines and movies. It affects not only our daily little lives, but on a broader scale; culture, politics and arts, and science. Yet, hope looms eternal. As I survey my surroundings I feel a renewed commitment to raising the bar on my existence. We must constantly strive to be better humans, push ourselves farther and fight this complacent existence. Push away the fog and fight through the tired feelings.
Renew your commitment to being better in whatever way is important to you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

There's no Aloha in Los Angeles

"Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. "Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth through caring with no obligation in return. There is NO ALOHA in Los Angeles, believe me! I notice this because I've spent a lot of time in the great state of Hawaii over the past decade and have had the pleasure of visiting there probably 5 weeks in the last 2 years. What a fortunate person I am.

Did you know that Aloha is a law in Hawaii? It should be law in every state of the union. Road rage is an ever increasing scourge in Southern California & who can blame us? I used to spend 4 - 5 hours a day on the freeway commuting from my home to my job and back. This was 10 years ago. I remember once sitting at the 10/57 interchange pounding my fist against the steering wheel in frustration and screaming. And even though some of you would beg to differ, I am not that different than your average SoCal commuter.

The latest April 2005 census shows that in a ranking of large cities (with populations of 250,000 or more) the average commute time was; New York (38.3 minutes), Chicago (33.2 minutes), Newark, N.J. (31.5 minutes), Riverside, Calif. (31.2 minutes), Philadelphia (29.4 minutes), and Los Angeles (29.0 minutes). Kay, first of all, this is bullshit. Maybe if they survey someone living in West LA that's driving to work in Santa Monica, but come on, how many of those people are there? What about some poor schmuck living in Pomona driving to downtown LA everyday. He's doing about 90 minutes each way. These stupid survey's are all skewed. You can read the article here.

This is the law in Los Angeles:

  1. Don't signal cause we'll just speed up 'cause we sure as hell aren't going to let you in.
  2. If you're going to drive in the carpool lane, you'd better be doing over 70 mph or we're gonna run your ass over.
  3. Go with the flow of traffic, if traffic is doing 20 mph, don't be an ass & do 5 mph, if its doing 80 mph you'd better be in the slow lane or we'll run up your butt.
  4. Know where you're going. If you realize you are in the wrong lane and you're offramps coming, tough shit. No one is going to let you in. Maybe we would if you didn't signal...
  5. Driving with headlights on during the day because you don't have running lights indicates fear. You will be taken advantage of.
  6. The speed limit on the toll road is 80 to 90, you're paying to go fast. If you're driving <>

Well, there are lots more rules.......send me some comments with your California "rules"

Thursday, May 12, 2005


The office is done -- now I just have to move in :-( It'll take time to get everything running again, but it sure looks good....

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Before the new office is installed......

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Adware, spyware and Malware

The average person's computer is infected with > 30 adware programs. This is a statistics from Network World (April 5, 2005). Do you know what adware is? What's the difference between adware and spyware? What the hell is malware? How are you supposed to deal with all this crap on the computer and who really cares anyways?

adware:
(n.) (1) A form of spyware that collects information about the user in order to display advertisements in the Web browser based on the information it collects from the user's browsing patterns. Similar to spyware but it has legitimate purposes, for example, the ads on weather underground allow the provider to offer the service free to web surfers. All adware is not necessarily malicious nor is all adware innocent.
Unfortunately, some freeware applications which contain adware do track your surfing habits in order to serve ads related to you. When the adware becomes intrusive like this, then we move it in the spyware category and it then becomes something you should avoid for privacy and security reasons. Due to its invasive nature, spyware has really given adware a bad name as many people do not know the differences between the two, or use the the terms interchangeably.
spyware:
(n.) Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet; however, it should be noted that the majority of shareware and freeware applications do not come with spyware. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.
malware:
(mal´wãr) (n.) Short for malicious software, software designed specifically to damage or disrupt a system, such as a virus or a Trojan horse.
phishing:
(fish´ing) (n.) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card #'s, social security & bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has.
Phishing, also referred to as brand spoofing or carding, is a variation on “fishing,” the idea being that bait is thrown out with the hopes that while most will ignore the bait, some will be tempted into biting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Walter's Camera Shop

Every day can bring growth, warmth and friendship into our lives - we just have to be open to it. In Los Angeles we are normally so caught up in our hurried lives that momentary acts of kindness or humanity don't exist and are even frowned upon. We are too busy to be nice, right? Wrong. I've just come back from a week on Kauai and I still have that Aloha spirit. Aloha means more than hello and goodbye, it represents an attitude.

So off I hurry to Walter's Camera Shop to have the battery cover replaced on my digital camera. Funny thing is that I ordered a new battery cover from Kodak because I was going to put it on myself. I'm an engineer, how hard can it be? Well, 4 tiny screwdrivers, a magnifying glass and some time later I decided I had no idea how to take the old one off.

I found Walter's on the internet. I met the nicest guy, the owner, Walter you'd think, right? Nah, his name is Sayed and he's from Egypt. He's been fixing cameras since 1952 & has a Master's in Political Science from Alexandria University. We had a rousing discussion on the price of gas and the power of OPEC as he did his thesis on Global Economy & its future relation to oil in Middle Eastern Countries. I thought that was fairly progressive for 1951. I won't go into all the details of our discussion but suffice it to say, it was interesting and he is definitely Anti-bush. Another interesting comment he made was the lack of political protests in America now, a cowed media and a "grin and bare it" attitude among America's citizens. I have to admit, I have to agree with him.

My camera repair was $5.

Monday, April 25, 2005


The new gutters are here! Now I dread not getting them in copper :-( They will be painted in a couple weeks, the same color as the house, which doesn't show up well on the pictures on the blog for some reason. But the 1/2 moon style and round down spots keep with the 1920's architecture of the home.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Eating our way through the North Shore

The north shore of Kauai continues to improve dramatically in its food selection and quality. We ate at many fine restaurants in Hanalei Bay and Princeville and wanted to share my report.

Postcards **** $$$$
-- a fairly recent edition to Hanalei Bay - exquisite vegetarian & seafood selection
-- wine and beer only, great service
-- Our favorite high end restaurant in the area

Hanalei Gourmet **** $$ - $$$
-- wonderful selection and excellent quality, certainly not "high end" but definitely great food!
-- Best mai tai's in my opinion on this side of the island

Bamboo Bamboo *** $$$$
-- Their Mai Tai's are a 2 on a scale of 10
-- The food is good, lots of variety, not exceptional, but good.
-- Service was great.

Bubba's hamburgers ** $
-- if you need a hamburger, maybe Hanalei Gourmet is the place to get it.
-- undercooked as usual, I've tried several times
-- I like my fries well done, there's were marginal cooked at all
-- service is not really their top priority
-- But if you need a burger and a Coke, this is the joint I suppose

Sabella's - Princeville * $$$$
-- Mai Tai's were a 5/10
-- Food was the worst I've ever had, over priced, nothing special, they have no clue what "piccatta" means and it's an Italian joint.
-- Size of the filet was a joke, especially at the price.
-- Bottom line, you want good food at a great price, try somewhere else
-- Island rumor has it the chef quit a few months ago and it's been downhill ever since.

Sushi Blues *** $$$
-- Wasn't there this trip but went last trip, remember the food was good, can't remember the Mai Tai's - perhaps that's a sign
-- Always live music so its a happening joint

Zelo's Beach House *** $$$
-- Mai Tai's a little sweet, fresh juice though -- 7/10
-- Suggest upgrading to the Iniki Mai Tai - basically a souped up version of the above.
-- The food is good

Wake up Cafe **** $
-- Best breakfast place in Hanalei - 'nuff said
-- Make sure to try the Portuguese Sweet bread cinnamon roll!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Learning to relax is an art

I truly believe that living in the US of A has caused me to forget how to relax. Americans take less vacations than any other country in the world. As I wake up each morning in the lush, tropical paradise that Kauai is, my mind tells my body, "jump up and do something!" My mind whirls with things to do, I must do SOMETHING, shouldn't I? No actually, I don't.

We must relearn how to relax. We must relearn how to lounge about, take life less seriously, stress about less things and stop to smell the papaya occassionally. Check out any of the links I've referenced for this blog and see what I'm talking about. Americans are being robbed of their right to proper holidays. It's important that we recharge. Wouldn't we be more productive if we did that? Something to think about.

Well, got to go, I hear my snorkel gear calling me.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Motivation in Hanalei Bay

Well, here I am in beautiful, idyllic Kauai - in Hanalei Bay wondering why I wake up each morning with absolutely no desire to do anything. All my motivation is gone. Dena says its because I'm on vacation and that's the way it's supposed to be. No wonder people get nothing done on the islands. When I go to Honolulu to work I have to plan extra days, about 50% more than normal to combat this island work mentality. As a mainlander it frustrates me, but spending any time here one comes to appreciate that kind of attitude.

I think today Dena and I are going shopping at a local craft fair in Kapa'a and then off to Poipu state beach for swimming and snorkeling. Maybe - sometimes we get sidetracked. Anyone that knows me, knows I have to have a plan. It's hard to have a plan in Hawaii. You just sort of hang loose and go with the flow and whatever happens, happens.

In a couple days I'll write about "eating our way through the north shore". A comprehensive restaurant review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My kingdom for a screw

You know, you can never find the right screw when you need it. Today was just another sunny, beautiful day in Los Angeles, Dawn out searching for that one perfect screw. Mostly I find myself looking on the weekends but today I found myself in a weekday need. A quandry if you will. Could I find it and did I already have it? You see, you don't want to spend your time "shopping" for a screw if you've already got it the perfect one at home.

Some screws are a matter of taste, others are a matter of need. There are all types of screws after all; big, small, long, short, wide, skinny, pointy and blunt. Sometimes you need a special, one of a kind screw, but even if my need is a little unique - I can always find it somewhere. This is LA after all - you just need to know where to look. You can find ANYTHING in LA.

Today's need was a 2" flat topped #8 machine screw which I just didn't have. I have a garage full of screws, individually sorted into parts drawers and labelled. You'd think I'd have such a common screw. You did know I was talking about hardware didn't you?

Monday, April 11, 2005


Dena learns all about cement and gets her slippers dirty doing home improvement. What will she come up with next? Of course I had to do all the hard work mixing the cement and carrying the 60 lbs bags...... Here she is filling a tiny hole with 120 lbs of cement, one cupful at a time. Talk about patience.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Off comes the tile roof

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Too busy to blog?

Am I really that busy that I can't blog? I'm feeling run down, overwhelmed and just plain out of time. When you feel like this you have to prioritize, right? And blogging tends to be at the bottom of the list. However, years ago (yeah right.....) when I was in therapy, all therapists usually tell you to journal. Dawn, you have to journal, explore your thoughts, blah, blah, blah.

Perhaps blogging is therapeutic to my pysche, perhaps it calms me, lets me dump random and/or obsessive thoughts onto the internet thus clearing my mind for more focused work, that is after all why I started it in the first place.

Well, since blogging is obviously good for me, I'd better continue. Let's see then, eating salads, drinking more water, eating more protein, eating before 6pm, exercising, etc, etc, etc, are all good for me. Do you think life is all about balance? Do we struggle our whole lives trying to find peace and harmony between our ying and yang? Is balance about happiness? Ah, the thoughts that plague the idle mind!!! BACK TO WORK!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Googlewhack

Dena & I had the good fortune to see Dave Gorman's googlewhack adventure Saturday night at the UCLA playhouse. What an amazingly hilarious story told by an exceptional storyteller. We were rolling in the aisles and the best part was, it was all true! They say truth is stranger than fiction and they are right! He is done with his run in Los Angeles I'm sorry to say, however, his book is available on his website and on Amazon . Apparently he is getting a 3 month run in New York, so if you get a chance to see him, I highly recommend it. Worth every single penny of admission. I cannot reveal details of his story or his adventure, cause well, he swore me to secrecy.

For those of you unaware of what a googlewhack is, its a game played on google. It is the challenge of entering two words into a google search that turn up one and one hit only. Google is the arbiter of a whack's uniqueness. Look to the right end of the blue bar atop your Google results. If you see "Results 1 - 1 of (any number),' you found exactly one hit = Googlewhack! There are many other rules, the single most important being that you cannot use quotation marks. For example, rabbits eggheadedness is a googlewhack. Try it yourself! To learn more about the rules and other whacks, check out the googlewhack webpage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The animals are guilty

The infamous gang rape trial in Orange County, California is hopefully over, for good, although the appeal has been filed already. The 3 animals will be sentenced soon and we can stop hearing about their escapades and the blame put on the victim. See the story in the SF Chronicle . This was a brutal gang rape of a defenseless, albeit drunk, young woman by three teenage boys using their penises and then when they tired of that, other objects. The morons videotaped the events providing the key point of evidence for the prosecution. 22 minutes of it. I cannot imagine being a juror and having to watch that.

What's amazing to me is that it took 2 trials to get to this point. In both trials the young woman was presented as promiscuous and her character assassinated through out the trial. She must be a strong person to put up with such abuse. Why can't she sue for defamation of character? Why couldn't she sue the defense attorney's for saying all that stuff? Was she really the school slut? We all know that in school their are rumors and that teenagers blow this stuff out of proportion. And where are their parents? Not only the girls, but the boys? After all, this did happen one evening in the boys garage.

The American justice system seems slanted towards the rich, famous and influential. Case in point, Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, and by the way, one of the boys in the above case was the son of OC ex - sherriff. Money baby, that's what it takes in the USA, money!

Dawn's rain gauge for Thursday's torrential rain. 1.6 inches in a matter of a few hours. A rock & rollin' storm with Dena, that's right folks, Dena out in my pink booties on sump pump duty!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Pink?? Is the guest house really going to be that ugly pink with light green trim? No, our painter just tints his primer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The long awaited Westin heavenly bed is being delivered Friday - I can't tell you how excited I am. The thought of sleeping on such a wonderful mattress just makes me all giddy. I'll let you know how it goes. These beds are custom made by Simmons ONLY for the Westin and its guests. They can be purchased only thru Westin and are custom made to order. This means a long delivery time, but worth it. You will all be drooling at the relaxing, marvelous sleep I'll be getting. It will be a joy not to wake up with a backache every morning.

Friday, March 11, 2005


10" rare shiplap redwood ---- $ 1,200.00 50 -- man/woman hours ---- $ 2,000.00 the perfect compound angle cut ---- PRICELESS

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Front of the house with some trim! I love it!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jaded?

Perhaps living in Los Angeles, a stone's throw from the beach, Hollywood and other famous spots makes you jaded. Yesterday we decided to take our niece and nephew to see The Pacifier (a rental for sure) and the most convenient spot and showtime was at the El Capitan on Hollywood Blvd. This is an amazing venue from the old Hollywood days with gorgeous ceilings and plaster reliefs. This theatre is across from the Grauman's Chinese, another Hollywood landmark and the new Kodak Theatre center, the site of the recent Oscar's.

After purchasing tickets we had an hour to kill in this area before the show - and I'm thinking what the hell are we going to do on Hollywood Blvd with all these bloody tourists! As I glanced across the street I could see the Hollywood sign perfectly framed by the walkways in the Kodak center. What a beautiful site. Not to mention the history and awe attached to the view in general. Then I glanced down at the stars on the boulevard. We had to explain to Jack & Ruby that these people were not necessarily dead and that they certainly weren't buried beneath the star. They were unaware of the significance of the whole thing. We spent the next little while educating the kids on the history and putting our feet in the footprints at the Grauman's Chinese. Some of it was lost on the kids but not on me. I will endeavor not to take such things for granted.

We are fortunate to live in a city with such history, stories to tell, things to do, and year round beauty to behold. We should never take for granted what we have in life. You never know when it may be taken away.
Seize every opportunity and live each day with wonder in your eyes!

Saturday, March 05, 2005


One side done -- with all the rain, it may be awhile til anything else is painted

Thursday, March 03, 2005


The minimalist look -- I suppose if you can afford a 42" plasma panel TV ou should be able to afford the furniture for it.....saw horses worked fine....

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Restoring the columns and other intricate plaster reliefs on the front of the house takes tender loving care and money.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Dena & I were busy this weekend, we demo'd the West side of the guest house. The boards were all rotten and termite ridden. Now, we just have to put it all back

It's so green!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The money pit

It's been an exciting few weeks in the remodel business of our house. The original remodel project is essentially finished with only a few little items on the hit list and a bid completion meeting remaining. The exterior painting job is continuing nicely, despite the setbacks because of the rain. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of our lovingly restored, green spanish bungalow.

The rains, ah how they have changed people's lives in sunny southern california. Economists talk about how the rain has cost the Los Angeles basin economy 500 million dollars. How in the world is that possible you ask? Well you take the .01 % of people that lost their homes, the 20% that had some sort of other major damage from water and then there is probably another 50% of people that have minor damage/leaks/etc. We are one of the 50%. The money we might have spent in our area now goes to repairs. We are getting a new tile roof (or at least the underlay for the roof and the old tile will be salvaged and put back) and we are getting new gutters. I suppose you could argue that the money we are spending is really going back into the California economy because we are paying So. Cal companies to do it. But its just not as much fun because I can't buy anything enjoyable......I'm buying a roof.

Another part of our exterior repairs/restoration is the guest house. Long neglected and the west side is severely water and sun damaged so this must be repaired. Pictures will be up on the blog of what Dena and I had fun doing Saturday afternoon.

Friday, February 25, 2005

What I learned in college

stupidity --- there are lots of stupid people in this world and some of them are even going to college! In my computer security class the other night, the fellow sitting beside me was dumb as a doornail. You would think, oh, these people are in computer security, they should have some basic knowledge of editing text files, booting off CD, installing software, hmmm even navigating with a mouse! But NO!!!!! I had to help him the whole way through. I know, you optimists our there are thinking, well at least he's going to class, that's what he's there for, to learn. Well, I got news for you bloody optimists, he should be in a BASIC computer class, not a class on computer security. I'm sure he has no clue what encryption is, why you would want it, what malware, spyware or anything else is let alone anything else.

There are some laws of human stupidity, were you aware of these?

The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:
Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.


The second law of human stupidity is:
The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Well, I will let you ponder those 2 laws and we'll discuss some others at a later time. Oh, and to add to the stupidity factor, our street has a closed sign at one end (road construction) all day long for 2 days people drive down our street anyway, get to where the bloody street is actually closed, and in their little minds probably say, "oh, its really closed?" and make a U-turn.
I'm thinking of handing out signs on the street where they make the U-turn that says, "I'm stupid, stay away from me."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


My rain gauge runneth over! @ 5.5 inches, I think I should empty it. Hopefully the rain is done til next week!

Monday, February 21, 2005


Rain Gauge 2-21-05 Only 40 hours after I installed it -- 4.3 inches of rain had fallen. Amazing....

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Dawn's new rain guage -- 2.3 inches of rain in 18 hours, that's alot. 2/19 3:00p - 2/20 7:00a

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sad state of community colleges

I'm taking a Security course at the local community college, West LA community - and its sad. I took one last year and then a public speaking course a couple years before. You'd think that over these last few years, since fees have increased double that things would be better. They are not, they are worse.

In my public speaking course, you basically got up and spoke, no projector for a laptop to do powerpoint, you could use an old overhead transparency projector though. How archaic. For one speech I wanted to use a powerpoint slide show because that is how most presentations are done in business. I had to go get the projector and it was so old and the lens so damaged that it was useless. This was one of 2 projectors the entire school had for transient use. Totally sad.

The computer courses are popular but they are in small classrooms that are crammed with computer gear (very old stuff) and very old, uncomfortable, gross chairs. About 6 or more classes share a hard drive and with 20 gig drives, each class gets about 3 gig. That is insane since Server 2003 takes about that.

Its just such horseshit what the US government (both state and federal) does to our education system. Educated should be a very high priority, This ensures that tomorrow's workers are prepared for the job markets of the future. If you are charging the lower and middle classes more and more money for their secondary education you will eventually price them out. This is the beginning of the extinction of the middle class. Thanks President Bush. Oh and by the way, that 40 million $ that he spent on his second inauguration could have been used for something of more value.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


What color should we paint?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Aren't we lucky?

In my short lifetime I have seen many things. The world has changed so dramatically and at such an exponential rate its hard to imagine the future. When I was a baby a man was walking on the moon and now there's a space station orbiting earth. We don't even really think about that anymore its so commonplace. The other day a spacecraft dropped a CD of some band (I can't remember who) on one of Saturn's moons. Who would have ever imagined. The Berlin wall has come down, china is fast become a world power, America is the world's police and the other day there were free elections in Iraq. Who would have ever thought.

I'm 41 years old and am bombarded by information 24 x 7. Somedays its just overwhelming. Can you imagine being 7 years old in this new world? What will it be like 10 years from now? 20? The kids of today have to cope with so much information/knowledge and stress that I'm not surprised that they are put on drugs to control their behavior problems.

Do I really need to know minute by minute what Michael Jackson is wearing to the jury selection hearings? Please, don't tell me! Don't tell me what time he got out of the limo and what he did when he got out.

Are we lucky? Or, as Dena would say, luck has nothing to do with it. You make your own luck. I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have Dena, my family, a roof over my head and enough disposable income to be totally lazy and eat out 3-5 times a week. Can I be a better person? I'm sure I could be. Could I go farther in life? I'm sure I could. What is life all about anyways? There was a joke on the internet a while back that happiness would be sliding into the St. Peter's gates with a martini in one hand and chocolate in the other. I think life is about happiness. You must find your place in life and be happy in it, no matter what that is.

Well, that's deep enough for now.......

Monday, February 07, 2005

The quest for architectural integrity

Keeping the integrity of a 1924 house can be challenging and daunting, especially financially. We felt strongly about keeping that 1924 imported from England pink tile in tact throughout the bathroom. It cost us more money than I care to admit and more time than was anywhere near reasonable and caused me to wish on many an occasion that I had a prescription with unlimited refills for xanax. All of this I rationalize, has been worth it. We are so close to finishing I can taste it. We're down to the nitty gritty now, but I draw the line at $68 double hung window thumb latches. This price was courtesy of Liz's Hardware on La Brea. These $68 window locks are antique of course, I've found a picture of them here. They are East Lake Victorian latches. They are obviously much cheaper on Ebay than @ Liz's. Although, Liz's is great for looking at stuff. Come to think of it, so is eBay.

We also are thinking of replacing our 1950's style drawer pulls in the infamous pink bathroom with something more "period". We were thinking glass, similar to these. These are $18 each @ Liz's. I suppose there is something to be said for patience and shopping to find a bargain. If you want something NOW, you're just going to have to pay for it.

Oh goody gumdrops, maybe eBay will come thru. I'll let you all know....

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Dena hugging Toby with her baby (Maggie) in the background on the left

Monday, January 31, 2005

Someday........

  • - there won't be dirt in the house right after its cleaned.
  • - I might be able to sleep in without fear of some workman walking in on me
  • - I'll be able to pee in peace
  • - I can close the windows and doors all day long
  • - there won't be bugs flying around constantly cause all the doors and windows were off
  • - I won't have a hit list
  • - I can put away all the cartons of stuff we've moved from room to room
  • - I can put away my "contractors book of spanish"
  • - I can actually put things in my brand new medicine chests
  • - I'll be able to find my hairbrush, electric toothbrush & all the other things that have been misplaced over the last 8 months
  • - I won't have to make 10 design/color decisions a day
  • - there won't be some snafu to write about
  • - over the rainbow.......



Sunday, January 30, 2005


Dena and I with Toby the bottlenose dolphin

Friday, January 28, 2005

A major milestone reached!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to report that as of 1/27/2005 we are showering in our own home again! I honestly thought this day would never come. I began this blog 6 months ago to vent my frustration at the seemingly insane litany of mishaps, screw-ups and SNAFUs at our home remodel. Many of you and your friends have written to tell me that this is par for the course. While my faith in humanity is shaken that still cannot lessen the joy I feel at finally showering in the comfort of my own home.
Now, if I could only get the painters out of the bathroom.......

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


There's a lot going on here

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Can anything else go wrong?

I suppose you are not supposed to ask that kind of question. I may anger the Gods. There seem to be many Gods conspiring against me, the weather god is one of them. Today was just another day at the insane house I call home. Let's see, there were 4 painters, 1 gardener, 3 plumbers (yes, again) and well, almost an ambulance.

So, this morning the anal painter, Brian says that the toilet in the guest house is backed up. If you'll recall the painters have pretty much moved in. The guest house now contains their coffee maker, water and soda stash, their toilet and wash facilities, snacks and pastries for coffee breaks. Its also their changing area. Well, to minimize the interruptions to my work day (boy is that a laugh) I call a roto rooter type service, but not Roto Rooter. After all, they were here last week working on the other drain, the "area" drain its called. For those of you uneducated in these matters, an area drain drains the backyard or what have you. Its for outside stuff. That was a $500 adventure to learn that the area drain (terra cotta, very old) is broken not 15' from where it starts.

Back to where I was, the new plumbing/rooter company arrives. I'm on a very important and expensive conference call with my life coach, and the timing couldn't be worse. It's $500 (1) to hydro flush the drain, another $250 (2) or something to put a camera down it and (3) another $600 or something to put in a proper clean out, bringing it to code and preventing future need for items 1) and 2). I was in shock after 1). I opted for 1) So on the nextel he goes calling in reinforcements. What arrives but the biggest bloody plumbers truck I've ever seen. This thing was huge. It pumps some huge volume of water and more importantly major pressure thru the pipe and cleans it out. This works almost instantly. It was a soft matter clog. (yuck, I told the painters no more tamales) Sal (plumber #1) then spots my new red pipe locator tool. This is just a large red T shaped metal rod with a pointy end an ergonomic handles used to push into the ground to hopefully hit a pipe. I suppose besides dowsing this would be how to locate pipe sans modern technology.

I could tell Sal wanted my newly acquired metal pointy thing. You see, the Roto Rooter fellows left it. I was quite happy to have a new tool so I squirreled it away. Sal wanted it. I traded him camera/video surveillance on my pipe & pipe locating for the rod. I believe they are expensive rods. He was salivating as was I. Isnt' it odd what makes two people happy? I now know where the guest house sewer drain goes and at what depth. hehe and $500 poorer, not $1,000.

As for the painters, the forecast is rain and the house is done up like a huge cocoon. Its so bizarre its almost funny. If the windows get wet the painter cannot work for a week. Self preservation I guess. Oh, right, the ambulance. Well Brian wanted to cut these 3 little stub outs from the side of the house. On these old 1920's houses there can be several of these as the power is fed from poles. These get moved along the years and old metal stubs on the side of a house remain. He's anal remember so it looks bad. They have to go. So Brian goes up the ladder with his cordless reciprocating saw and starts cutting close to the stucco. One down, two down and ZAAAAPPPPPP!!! One was hot. He got quite a jolt and the curse words were flying. There was no way to tell that there was even wires in there. I've called an electrician...........

Monday, January 24, 2005


The surreal environment that has become our backyard

Friday, January 21, 2005


7 months later, the tile in the Pink Shower is done. That doesn't mean we can use it yet.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Anticipation....

Today is grout day people. Yes, Eric got paid for the ceiling yesterday and has enough money to buy grout. A small part of me is saying, well if I gave him $200 yesterday will he even show up today? How the hell was he going to buy grout if I hadn't given him the $ anyways?? OMG we could be doing grout today!!! There's that hope thing again. Will Dawn's hopes be dashed today or will the Gods of favor shine upon her? The shower is completely tiled and looks awesome. Each time I enter the bathroom I shiver with anticipation that soon I could shower in my own house again. Since July 6th we have not showered in our house. We've bathed mind you but not showered. Oh how I long for a home based shower. I'm so excited.

I've made a deal with the devil

Brian my anal painter has started with his crew on the house exterior. He is also responsible for painting the interior parts that have been destroyed by Gene ( my GC ). So, while reviewing the pink bathroom painting he mentioned that we should tile the ceiling of the shower. This made sense to me. Its an enclosed shower only area that gets quite misty, so ceiling and arch maintenance is an issue. This is why Eric the tile guy tiled the arch, cause the paint peels.

I approached Eric the tile guy with this new little project (fully understanding it was out of the scope of work) and he just went ballistic. Nattering on about how he only has $43 in his wallet and is living on noodles until he can finish this job. Adding a ceiling would add another day (of eating noodles) and blah, blah, blah. He says he'll have to wait til Gene gives him a few hundred dollars to continue the job. Now Gene is so busy that I never hear from him. So, I'm thinking if I pay him on the side to do the ceiling then he gets $ and I don't impede the project time wise. Its amazing how industrious Eric can be when cash money is sitting on the table... So that's my deal with the devil. Gene cannot know because paying a sub behind the contractors back is not kosher. There's a little bit more to it than I describe here, but suffice it to say that I am highly motivated to get this project done and all these people the hell out of my house!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Another fun filled day @ the house

Busy, busy, busy. Yes, how does one get any real work done? I've been asking myself that question for 2 days. Eric the tile guy is here. Brian the painter convinced me (and rightly so) to tile the ceiling of the shower for plain white tile for maintenance reasons. We have an enclosed shower so even with the exhaust fan it gets quite damp. The shower door guy was here. They measured and of course, its extra to notch around our decorative accents for the flush mount door (that means no metal strip all the way around the shower to get all moldy). Its going to be an expensive door. The bombshell today was what handle do you want on the shower door? OMG! I never even thought of this. So tonight its off to the Shower Door Doctor to figure that one out.

Also the painters are here. They are scraping and chiseling and removing windows and otherwise driving me insane. How the hell can I work with all this distraction?? I'm not complaining, at least progress is occurring. There's only been 6 guys at my house today, so I suppose its improving, yesterday was 7. You'd think we were building a mansion. How in the world do those people do it in those 7 day makeover shows? Dena says they have 150 workers and all the work is shitty. Makes sense to me.

Christmas in Los Angeles....

Monday, January 17, 2005

Remodel Update for 1/17/2005

Hard to believe its 2005, eh? Today there were 7 guys in the backyard, 3 from Roto Rooter and 4 of the painters. The painters have started on the house today. I'm so excited. It'll take them about 6 weeks to finish the external of the house and perhaps, if we're really, really, really lucky, by then the pink bathroom should be ready to paint. Because you see, Eric the tile guy didn't show up today. It's really hard to finish in any kind of timely manner when you only work Tues., Wed and Thurs. and then only from 11:00a to 3:00p.

I called Roto Rooter because of the 6" of water in the backyard last week. We have a drain back there but it wasn't draining. Jerry showed up and it was fairly obvious that while conscientious and definitely not a talker he was a little green. He managed to get his huge roto rooter end stuck somewhere in my "area pipe". That sounds a little sexual doesn't it? Hmmm...... Anyways, back to plumbing.... He had to call a supervisor and soon the street was full of Roto Rooter trucks and painter trucks. I'm not complaining, at least someone is working on the house. The pipe turns out that it is broken not 20' from where it starts in the backyard. It's a clay pipe and probably has been there since the 20's or perhaps the 1950's. It also heads toward the back fence. Why doesn't it head toward the street to drain? No one seems to know. So, we're not getting it fixed because there could be another break a little further down the line and it would be cost prohibitive to continue this game.

A busy day @ the Armstrong/Schwimmer household

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Now that's pink! I can feel the spray of that $300 shower head now...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Remodel and Rain Update

Rain, rain go away
Come again another day....

Los Angeles has had probably 15 inches of rain since Christmas. That's a lot of rain for a place that is really desert like. We've had significant water in our back yard and a big surprise yesterday was when my painter ( the most excellent and anal painter in the world ) stopped by to check on us. Now a good painter cannot paint interiors in this weather, as the paint doesn't dry properly so I suppose Brian was just out checking on his clients. He immediately ordered me to get another pump as the water around the garage was undermining the foundation. It was up the sides about 3" and inside quite a bit, too. Also he climbed onto the roof and cleaned all the neighbors rubber tree leaves from our back gutter, repaired another gutter and then moved to the front of the house.

At this point I left for Koontz Hardware in WeHo and Dena helped/watched him clean all the gutters at the front of the house then they covered the front door with plastic. Ever since we lost our front awning that front door has taken a weather beating for sure. Well, have you ever heard of a painter doing all this? And for free???? I should marry the guy!

Meanwhile at Koontz Hardware I'm buying our second pump and looking quite snazzy in my pink rain boots and yellow rain slicker ( see pix below). Then this gay fellow walks up to me and puts his hand over his mouth as only a flame can do and says, "those are the cutest boots!" hehe Hey, they were all K-mart had left!

Monday, January 10, 2005