Friday, December 22, 2006

Rolling with the Denver Blizzard

Of course we had a flight on United Airlines today, through the Denver airport on our way to Edmonton. As you all know the Denver Airport closed on Wednesday the 20th due to severe blizzard conditions and snow. They've since gotten about 2' of snow and if any of you are familiar with the airport you know its in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles and miles of rolling prairies. They plow the runway and 30 minutes later there are huge drifts on it again. Read the latest on Denver here. My company apparently has several people stuck in the Denver airport. What a sad place to spend 2 nights sleeping on the ground.

After trying for over 3 hours on Thursday to get thru to United (and being disconnected repeatedly by their systems) I gave up and called my trusty Mitel travel agent. Evelynne was wonderful as always, found us a flight on WestJet for $550 round trip and its direct! No where near Denver. We fly into Calgary and my family will come pick us up. You have to roll with the punches.

How am I going to get back the 80,000 miles that I spent getting our award tickets to Canada in the first place on United? Since I couldn't get thru for love nor money yesterday, I waited until midnight last night and called the 800#. Got right through. Talked to a lovely black woman who sounded like she was either drunk or stoned and she told me all the horror stories from the day. I asked her if she'd been drinking and she said just water. But she said that water and vodka are the same color. She was very colorful herself and we had a fun go of it. I'm just hoping my miles are back in my account.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cappuccino for Cops?

Or has the United States left every child behind?
This sign was in the mini mall near my house.

Friday, December 08, 2006

My Calculator

It's weird how we hang on to the strangest things. I have this Sharp scientific calculator that I know I had in Winnipeg, MB when I was in University or before. I must have bought it for the abstract calculus classes in the Computer Science program. I hated that class..... The calculator was state of the art at the time. Now they make calculators that graph for you right on the screen, but I digress. So if I bought this calculator around 1981-1983 its about 25 years old. I'm just ripping the batteries out of it now because it's dead. I have to buy new ones and I'm going to. Why throw it away? It's still very useful. I still use it, although not as much. I use the calculator on the computer more even though I hate that one.

This quote comes to mind: Usefulness is not impaired by imperfection. You can still drink from a chipped cup. Or in this case, an old calculator.....

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What is Phishing

Phishing is a form of Internet fraud that aims to steal valuable information such as credit cards, social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. A fake website is created that is similar to that of a legitimatorganizationon, typically a financial institution such as a bank or insurance company. An email is sent requesting that the recipient access the fake website (which will usually be a replica of a trusted site) and enter their personal details, including security access codes. ...

The latest phishing scam has to do with paypal. This phish is almost comically clumsy to the naked eye, and we're not here to analyze it seriously. The e-mail is extremely simple, composed only of text and no real attempt to make it look like it came from PayPal other than using a "" address. The subject line of the email is: You have added a new e-mail address to your account. (normally this would freak you out if you had paypal as it would mean someone hacked you).

How to combat phishing schemes? The answer is ALWAYS the same! Never click on an embedded link in an email, especially one you didn't know was coming. So you ask, "how do I know then if my paypal (or bank or whatever) account was hacked. Launch a separate browser window, log in to your account and see what if anything has changed. I myself received this phish for the paypal account. It was about 2 weeks after we changed email addresses for the TimeWarner/Comcast buyout so I was confused. I just logged in to my paypaaccountnt and checked the email addresses. Simple. I never clicked on the link embedded in the email message.

Educate yourself about phishing at Phishing

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Internet Explorer 7.0 & Heuristics

Or - What has Microsoft done for me lately?

In case some of you using Windows XP haven't noticed, one of the Automatic Windows updates that you may have downloaded automatically or by just trusting Microsoft by clicking download - was that you automatically downloaded IE 7.0. What does this mean? Well for most people, it means more security! YAY!! One of the most important features of IE 7 for home users is that the new browser includes Heuristics. The definition of Heuristics is: A problem-solving technique (in the computer world - an algorithm) in which the most appropriate solution is selected using rules. Interfaces using heuristics may perform different actions on different data given the same command. All systems using heuristics are classified as intelligent.

What does this do for you? Simply put - Microsoft has enabled your Internet Explorer browser to actually notify you if you stumble upon a phishing scam or website. It reports the site as "Suspicious". The site has not been reported, at least not yet conclusively, as a phishing site, but IE7 has examined the site programmatically and determined that it has characteristics of a phishing site. I think that is pretty cool to the casual home user.

I've looked back in my years of blogs and see that I don't have any information on phishing scams. Wierd, I thought for sure I blogged about that. I will bore you with that in another post.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Health Check

Well here I am 8 days after the whole coughing fit, blow out all the muscles in my neck, ER trip. What type of recovery have I had? I know you are all dying to know..... Well, for the first 5 days it was absolutely brutal. Any movement was painful for my neck due to the strained muscles and pulled ligaments. The bronchitus has been exhausting and its only today that I feel a little like myself. That's 8 days after diagnosis and probably at least 10 days after I developed it. I'm on my 3rd dose of antibiotics, the first being the shot in the butt of Roxithromycin , the second being a Z pack (a whimpie one), the 3rd starting Tuesday of levaquin. I seem to be coughing up much less green globlets since I started the levaquin. That's a big bonus. I tire very, very easily. Just a trip to lunch is exhausting or taking the garbage out. It's incredibly frustrating.

Now I just have to be very careful not to overdue it. Bronchitus, especially in asthmatics, tends to have a high relapse rate and we all know how I am. The overachiever to be sure.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trunk Monkey - Compilation

3 Beautiful Things

1) Sinking a 25' putt for par on the 4th at Roosevelt GC.
2) The satisfying feeling of actually getting the LA Times to pay for the screen door that their carrier thru our Friday paper thru - 2 Friday's in a row.
3) The smell of fresh paint as we paint our Living Room.

2 Things that piss me off

1) The idiots at Time Warner HighSpeed internet that came out here on Saturday and didn't do anything to fix the problem, totally wasting my time.
2) My neighbor who has 4 big labs that shit on my lawn and he doesn't seem to think he should clean it up.

The bizarre of the day

Well, pretty much anything in Los Angeles......

Friday, November 10, 2006

Our new Dining Room -

What do you think? Is it too pink?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Emergency trip 1 of 1 for 2006, hopefully

Well last night was spent in the emergency room. I was at a Technical Training class in Anaheim yesterday and had such a bad coughing fit that I was spitting up blood and pulled every single muscle in my neck. I could hardly move. I've never really felt that kind of pain in my chest. It was like each time I coughed a thousand tiny pins were poking my inner chest. That can't be good.

Somehow I got myself to the Bellflower Medical Center at 5:00p and finally left at 8:30p. Not bad considering it was an ER. I had a chest x-ray, blood drawn, 2 breathing treatments, a shot for pain in my ass and another shot of antibiotics on the other side of my ass. All in all, a good day for my ass. The Bellflower ER is small, tiny even. I wouldn't recommend going there after 5pm or on weekends as I'm sure its a miserable place. Of course, if you needed medical treatment during business hours, then you'd go to your doctor right? I suppose in hindsight that's what I should have done, a day or two earlier before it got so bad. Who knew?

I was sent home with a stack of prescriptions and this morning finds me extremely sore all over, can't turn my head at all. It's going to be a lovely day.

Monday, November 06, 2006


A very cool Google website

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Dodge Magnum - in the shop

Transmission problems and Dodge/Chrysler seem synonymous. In 1980 I received possession of my parents 1972 Dodge Charger. I was thrilled. Little did I know the litany of electrical and transmission problems that would plague me for the next 6 years. I gladly let the vehicle be totaled when I did a couple 360's on the Winnipeg overpass due to ice (and bald tires....). I vowed never to buy a Dodge.

Flash ahead 20 years and I have a '06 Dodge Magnum (company car) and it now has 11,600 miles on it. Barely broken in right? Well, its in the shop because the transmission fluid is leaking like a sieve on my driveway. Did you know that most Chevy and Dodge/Chrysler new cars now have sealed transmissions with no dipstick? You cannot check the fluid level yourself, the color of it, the smell of it, nothing. If you want service, guess what, off to the dealer with you. Now of course, this issue is a warranty item and I will not pay anything for it, however, it is a royal pain in the ass & today is day 2 that they've had the car. Oh, and CarMax (the Dodge dealer I took it to in Inglewood) said that they had 4 cars yesterday with same problem. The 300's, Chargers and Magnum's all use the powertrain. Great. Gotta love American quality.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Time Warner flogs Comcast and me

I hate big conglomerates. They just screw the little guy, the consumer, me. Time Warner bought Comcast Cable/High Speed Internet as most of you locals are painfully aware. On 10/21/06 they officially changed over from Comcast to TW. This is such a pain in the ass. In a perfect world the only thing that people trying to get in touch with me should notice is that I sent them an email with my new email address. You see, emails from the old address are supposed to be magically forwarded to the new address. Sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are bouncing back. Sometimes they are delayed by 30-40 minutes. This is just unacceptable.

You would think they would have planned this well. Why wouldn't they send me a little app on a CD to go and magically change all the Outlook email account settings? Now I'm smarter than the average bear and I can do it, but not everyone can. I had to hold for 30 minutes on their LIVE INTERNET chat to get the bloody POP3 and SMTP server addresses. Why wouldn't they put that in a mailer or email or something! And to add insult to injury my connection keeps dropping. Totally bullshit! I HATE THEM ALL!!! And do you think they'll give me a credit, no. And even if they did, it'd be like one day. Big deal.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

what a crappy week

Monday was a 12 hour day, Tuesday 18 hours, Wednesday 18 hours, Thursday 14 hours and Friday 8 hours + picking up my niece & nephew for the weekend. That's a lot of work in 5 days. 70 hours to be exact. This morning was a busy with the kids, then a play - Jungle Book at the Morgan Wixson theatre in Santa Monica. Finally back home to prepare for the Wilshire Vista neighborhood Halloween Festival. It almost feels like work....

Monday is another day and hopefully with Mitel's quarter end only 48 hours away, perhaps life will begin to take on some sort of normalcy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

3 - 2 - 1

3 Beautiful Things --

1) The woodpecker chowing down on little bugs on the 10th hole @ Brookside Golf Course.
2) Making par on the 9th hole (par 4)
3) Making my first 200 yard drive!

2 irritating things --

1) Having my body limit my ability to do what I want
2) The guy that lives 2 doors down and his 4 dogs that shit all over my lawn

1 - the bizarre --

And the bizarre is all 3 of us chipping from off the green on the 15th hole and 2 of us having it role in the cup, and me, the 3rd, landing 1/2 inch from the cup. Bizarre and unusual not to mention lucky!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

3 - 2 - 1

There is this new thing on blogs called 3BT -- 3 beautiful things. I think I'm going to morph that and call it 3 - 2 - 1 ----> 3 Beautiful things, 2 things that piss me off, and 1 bizarre/unusual/LA kinda thing.

3 Beautiful Things:

1) Walking out my back door after a long morning of computer work and feeling the sun warm my body and release the stress
2) My new blackberry high definition color screen
3) My new Jabra bluetooth headset with interchangeable earpiece colors so I can customize it to my mood.

Things that piss me off:
1) Customer's that call in problems but don't test the actual problem first or perform any preliminary troubleshooting.
2) Office Depot -- I hate office depot. They have absolutely no customer service and usually one or less check stands open. They are often surly, which usually makes me surly.

And on a bizarre note:
-- Here's to the woman davining in the basement parking garage (facing a concrete pylon) of the Office Depot store. You win the bizarre/unusual/LA award today.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thought for the Day

I couldn't have said it better, "Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived."
Captain Jean Luc Picard


When I was younger I used to think - "if I could just survive this next hour, everything will be ok." Then as I got older I somehow started to modify this statement and it became, "If I can just survive this next hour, it'll be OK, you can endure anything for an hour." When did life become something you have to endure? As I got older still and in the work force I used to say, "oh this day is going to be tough, just suck it up, you can endure anything for a day."

Something happened to me this last summer, I had to say, "if you can just endure the next 6 weeks, it'll be ok." Wow, 6 weeks. That's a long time to endure. I find myself jumping from one fun occasion to the next. But these jumps are in my mind, and everything in between is just a blur. Is this why life goes quicker when you're older? When I was young time couldn't pass fast enough. I wanted to be 9, then 10, then 16, then 21. Then shortly thereafter I wanted time to slow down. Now that I want time to be slow, it's accelerating.

Funny how life works.....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thought for the Day

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fairytale or Heartbreak

As the Dodgers deliver a crushing 19 to 11 victory over the Colorado Rockies today, closing in on the Padres, one can't help but reflect over the past 2 weeks, past 2 months and the entire 2006 Dodger season. Missed opportunities, spectacular moments, heartbreaking losses, and amazing, record breaking wins. One game caused the Baseball Hall of Fame to call the Dodgers and ask for the bats of the 4 home run hitters in that fairytale night September 19th. Check out the links here for Video and Print. On September 25th, another amazing night - Garciaparra hits a walk off grand slam home run with 2 outs in the 9th. Check out the article here.

There are but 3 games left to the regular season. It's an exciting time for baseball fans in Southern California. We run numbers, what if's and scenario, but mostly we hope. We hope that the next 3 days will bring wins and the miracles won't end until the World Series is over.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Isn't it Grand?

Tonight was quite a night. A Dodger game that they actually won. Sitting with friends in great seats. Drinking beer, eating nachos and hearing the crack of the bat and the slap of a 97 mpg fastball hitting the catcher's mitt. Ahhhhhhh baseball. Hope springs eternal as every game brings highs and lows as the Dodger's do their usual waffle and shuffle toward first place. Who knows, maybe we'll be going to the National League playoffs. As I said, hope springs eternal.

But the events for tonight didn't end under the big Think Blue sign in the parking lot. We scoot out of my perfect parking place and roar out of Dodger stadium. We drive into downtown LA and a calm comes over me. Civilization beckons. Moments later I sit holding a glass of champagne in one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen. We are toasting the 10 year anniversary of great friends of ours - Arlindo and Michael. What a fitting venue for the toast. The Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles on Grand. It truly is Grand. The hotel is truly breathtaking. Designed in the style of the Spanish Italian Renaissance, the hotel opened in 1923 to national acclaim, and was designated a Historical Cultural Landmark in 1969. The cathedral-like public room ceilings were hand-painted by Italian artist Giovanni Smeraldi of White House and Vatican fame.

Touted as the “host of the coast” from the beginning, the Biltmore became the place to be for Los Angeles high society, film industry czars and stars, conventioneers, and cross-country travelers. Among the momentous events held at the Biltmore was the founding banquet
for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was at the dinner on May 11, 1927 that the concept and design for the “Oscar” were conceived. A statue was sketched on a napkin during a Crystal Ballroom banquet marking the occassion. The statue was named Oscar.

They hold high tea here and I plan on taking my aunts and my mother in April of 2007. I'm sure they will enjoy the architecture and beauty as much as I did this night. People ask me all the time why I live in LA. Here is one of the ten thousand reasons.........

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Mastercard Priceless Moment

We were sitting in our usual seats at the Dodger game Saturday night -- Gwyn and Jan were gesticulating wildly to the "Peanut Man". By the way, the peanut guy has a name and a website not to mention a book. They were in the mood for peanuts. The peanut guy was one row over and for some reason wanted Gwyn's money first. She passed him a twenty which usually irritates him and he took the change ($14.50) and folded it up into a nice little square and threw it back. Gwyn, being the girlie girl she is, missed it and the money fell to the ground. As she bent to pick it up I saw the "perfect pitch" and felt the rush as the green peanut bag flew past my nose and heard the "WHACK!" as it hit the back of Gwyn's head. The explosion of peanuts showered two rows of seats and fortunately Jan was there to save the remnants of the bag, picking it out of mid air.

The peanut guy came running over to see if she was ok, which of course she was, just her pride was hurt. I on the otherhand couldn't stop laughing for about an inning and a half.

Bag of peanuts at the stadium -- $ 5.50
Tickets to the Dodger game -- $112.00
Watching the bag of peanuts explode on Gwyn's head -- PRICELESS

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Survivor - Episode 1

I found it interesting the whole hoopla about the contestants on survivor being divided into teams of 5, along racial lines. Survivor is a social experiment and frankly it sounded intriguing to me. My intrigue was definitely piqued after this first episode. First, I found it interesting that the African American team felt it was important that they represent their race and they mentioned it several times. The Asian team mostly talked about how they weren't really immigrants and how they are all from different parts of asia so not really properly represented. Perhaps that is the problem with Americans, we lump Asians (and other regions or races) into large groupings and fail to understand the major differences between the peoples. Phillipinos are certainly different in many, many ways from Koreans, and Koreans from Vietnamese, etc.
Although, one of my stereotypes came true in the challenge -- the asians won. From their puzzle expertise? From their teamwork? From their intelligence? From all 3 I believe.

The 3rd group, the latinos, were from all over the map in Central and South America and mostly spoke about how their work ethic and genetic ability to handle the warm/humid climate will come in handy. That remains to be seen. The white group didn't even have a shelter at the time of the challenge. So what does that say about work ethic? Hmmm, perhaps they were wondering where their latino construction workers were?

And remember - this blog is just my opinion, no one elses. If you don't like it, don't read it. Or comment on it! And also remember, for those of you computer challenged - you can' t post a comment if you have pop up blocker on - you have to click the little bar on the top of internet explorer to enable pop ups from this site.

Diagnosing your own medical problems

As some of you know I've been having some very inconvenient knee pain, unfortunately in both knees. My doctor wants me to schedule an MRI for both of them. She's a very cautious woman who loves to schedule me for tests. After much internet research I feel I can take a stab at diagnosing my problem..... I believe I have a stage 1 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear. This is easily treated with the RICE principal and physical therapy, surgery is not required. Stage 1 MCL is indicated by pain in the inner region of the knee, minor swelling, no noticeable pain when moving the knee drastically, a general feeling or under confidence in the knees ability to hold when applying pressure.

I scheduled the MRI for Tuesday and have since been and received the results for the left knee. To tell you the truth after 25 minutes for the left knee I wasn't too keen on getting the right one done. MRI's are VERY loud. I was surprised. Everyone talks about how you have to be concerned about the closed environment, etc but no one ever comments on the damn noise. I knew I was in trouble when the tech gave me ear plugs. It was just unbelievably loud for the entire 25 minutes. It felt like someone was running a chainsaw inside my head.

So, what was the result of the MRI for the left knee? Mild bursitis. What a let's amazing how much discomfort I feel for such a silly diagnosis. So, the cure? RICE although I'm not sure how you can do R (rest) and E (exercise) at the same time, but whatever.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Queen of the Crop

This past weekend I attended a scrapbooking marathon to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness. My friends, co-workers and family all chipped in generously and donated $1,700 towards the cause. I cannot tell you how much it touched my heart to have the unwaivering support of those I love. I had many visitors to the event throughout the time as well as many phone calls. It was truly eye opening and much appreciated. Because of this support I felt it was my duty to ensure I stayed up the entire 24 hours to complete the committment. I did. It's amazing what your body goes thru during those strange hours after you've been up around 20 hours. I started at 8:30 am Saturday and ended at 9:00 am Sunday. As a result of the amount of time I cropped and the $ raised I won the designated title of "Queen of the Crop". This was the grand prize and came with a nice gift. Although it's a guilty feeling of accepting something for raising money for a good cause, it certainly is appreciated. The event was sponsored by Scrapbook Safari and the cause was Pink-Link.

Here's a picture of what goes on in your mind at about 4am

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Watching golf on TV

As I sit in my hotel room in Atlanta I find myself watching the golf channel. It relaxes me, what can I say. And besides, regular TV is all reruns, you can only surf the web so much, and I have to save my book for the long plane ride tomorrow. How is that for a litany of excuses?

I think Michelle Wie should take her putter and throw it in the trash. Get a new one! You have to give her some credit though, for today she played the European Men's Open on a sponsor's invite - Omega. Many men, including those I've spoke with on planes, in computer rooms, etc., feel that women should not be allowed to play on the men's tour. Let's get real. It's all about the $$. Michelle Wie is a tournament attendance draw, she's good for TV ratings, she good publicity for the sponsor, in short, she's good for golf. Of course, she would have to make the cut. The golf channel for example, gave Michelle Wie almost a 1/3 of the air time for the entire Thursday replay of the Open even though she was 7 over par. I rest my case.....

I cannot imagine the pressure she was under. Playing with the men, playing at quite an elevation which causes your shots to sail further, and her and her playing partner were put on the clock because they were slowing the field down. Can you imagine? Rushed after the 4th hole. Wow. For the record, her playing mate faired just as poorly. Michelle spent a lot of time in the sand today. Practicing I suppose.....

I have a theory about your cart mate - whoever you ride with either elevates or deflates your game. Who affected who?
Just my opinion.....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wings and things.....

I've just had the best wings I've had in about 12 years. Still the best are Wings 'N Curls in Hollywood, FL. Yes, Florida. Apparently there are a lot of Buffalo transplants there. But tonight, I had a close second. J. R. Crickets on Spring Street near Georgia Tech University was fantastic, although skinny little chicken. But the flavor was outstanding.

I ordered my wings mild along with shrimp, blue cheese dressing and a beer. It was hard to believe they were mild, I'd hate to try medium or their 3 Mile Island for that matter. As I sat there sucking bones my nose ran so bad I went thru a stack of napkins. I'm sure all the patrons, of which I was the only white one, thought I was a wimp. I admit it, I am. The shrimp was excellent with a cocktail sauce that had so much horseradish in it my toes curled with every bite. It was sooooooooooo goooooood. But the best part of all was the blue cheese sauce. WOW! The wing sauce and the blue cheese sauce are made right there in the restaurant. My friend Joyce had previously made the best blue cheese dressing I'd ever had, but J. R. Crickets now takes the blue ribbon. It was an amazingly creamy flavorful, but not overpowering chunky sauce. I can still taste it. WOW!!! I'll never be the same. Ah but alas, it's a long drive for dinner to Atlanta......

I highly recommend J. R. Crickets if you're ever in Hotlanta and if you're ever in Hollywood, FL, try Wings 'N Curls.

Monday, September 04, 2006

We can never lose our wonder

As I sat amongst friends the other night my little 9 year old niece reached over and plucked an eyelash from my cheek. She said, "Make a wish Auntie Dawn". I said I'd never heard of such a silly thing. She made the wish for me. As I sat in the car the next day an eyelash fell upon my cheek. As I looked at the tip of my finger at the offending eyelash, I decided to make a wish, I wished my trip would go well in Atlanta. Selfish I suppose, but I figured, hey, it's my eyelash.

I think that as we grow older and responsibility creeps in we start to lose our wonder and perhaps even our joy. Life should be lived everyday and every moment to it's fullest & if that means hoping that a wish you made on an eyelash comes true, then so be it. Just remember not to wait for that wish to happen, take it upon yourself to make it happen. We control the decisions we make in our lives and those decisions effect our happiness, joy and wonder.

For those of you unaccustomed to the eyelash wish -- if someone finds an eyelash on your cheek, they lift it off and present it upon their finger -- you must blow it off and make a wish. There is some belief that if you don't guess correctly what eye it came from then the wish won't come true.

Friday, September 01, 2006

State Route 125 & bureaucracy

Yesterday I had the frustrating pleasure of driving all the way down to San Diego to attend a mandatory Safety and Environmenal Protection training seminar for SR125 . This is required of all contractors working on the project. It doesn't matter whether you are involved in laying rebar or driving one of those huge earth movers or setting up furniture or servers in the operations building, everyone gets the same training and must adhere to the same safety rules and dress.

I get to wear a bright orange safety vest, hard hat, work boots, and safety glasses in the computer room while I'm installing the advanced application servers in a nice, air conditioned, clean room. This is for my safety. I also learned how to properly secure myself when working move than 6' above ground. I can properly read Material Safety Data Sheets in case I swallow battery acid or something, I can now properly egress into a trench or work in a confined space. Most importantly however is the ability I now possess to deal with environmental issues. I know who to call and how to proceed if I find any one of the endangered species that exist in this area in the computer room. I can also properly deal with any palentology issues that arise as a result of my trench digging in the nice clean, concrete computer room. Like arrowheads, sketal remains, etc. The only sketal remains that'll be found are mine from having to wear a stupid hard hat. Some of the animals in question are the Burrowing Owl, cactus wren, checkerbox butterfly and last, but not least, the fairy shrimp.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The accumulation of crap

As I sit at my desk I look at the accumulation of stuff all around me. There's the 1960 bubble gum cards of WWII that aren't really worth too much $$ but I can't seem to get rid of; there's the ticket stubs from games, concerts and events I've been to this year; there's my first puppy dog Shep's old dog tags, I loved that dog; magazines, books, plaques and awards; an old picture, a hard drive clock that doesn't keep the right time but is cool to look at.

Why do we keep this stuff? Each item I mentioned holds a memory for me. Those cards were given to me by my uncle when I was 6, the memories of the events live on thru that silly ticket stub, the pictures, the clock, it's all about the memories really. Why do we need to keep them? Aren't these memories in our mind's eye? Are they safe there? If I can walk from my home office to the kitchen and forget in the 5 seconds it took to make the trip, why I'm in the kitchen then how can I throw this stuff away? Obviously my mind is not fully functioning. I can't remember something from 5 seconds ago, how will I remember that Melissa Etheridge concert and where I sat? How will the memories be safe?

Perhaps the memories of these special events take up a more secure spot in our brain. Perhaps they are stored somewhere different than the reason I went to the kitchen. I don't know, I'm sure there is some National Geographic magazine article that will tell me, but I can't remember which year it was. hehe

Perhaps that is what scrapbooking is all about.......although how will I put the clock in the album? ah shit, I don't really need the clock I guess. I can't remember the point of this blog now, so I'll leave it at that......

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Arzie's new kitchen in progress

Moving in?

Yes folks, it's scary but this is the view from Arlene's front door, thru the living room, dining room and into the kitchen.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back to School Memories

The time rapidly approaches; as an adult, my favorite time of year, the time when the little hoodlums go back to school. I think fondly of September 5th when all these brats will be in school and not wandering the streets of Los Angeles breaking into people's houses while they work. But alas, this time of year brings back other memories. I think back on my childhood "back to school" days. We didn't have a list of items you had to buy for school, like pencils and paper and books, instead they were provided to us by our taxes. Today people buy hundreds of $$ of stuff. I think my first year of Junior High (a terrifying time in my life) I had to buy a combination lock for my very first locker. I think it was $3. I still have that lock and still know it's combination. It was a good buy to be sure.

I remember in grade school with my mom and dad taking me shopping for back to school clothes and I needed a winter coat. Being Canada and all..... So, they decided I needed this long coat that covered my ass and my knees. It was green and "pillowed" I think they called it, I don't know, it was ugly as hell, I hated it and was embarrassed to wear it. I don't think I wore it more than twice then I switched to my light fall jacket and a hoodie. For those of you yanks that don't know what a hoodie is, it's a sweatshirt with a hood.

Remember the days of mimeograph machines? I remember in grade school when you were a big shit when you got to go downstairs and run the machine for the teacher..... I also remember in Junior High when Wranglers were popular and we couldn't afford them for me. :-( How sad. This is another reason Junior High was so tramatic for me.

Back to school is here! Get off my airplane and back in your classrooms!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hole in One!

My friend Gwyn had a moment of a lifetime yesterday as her tee shot off of 14 kerplunked into the hole. Here it is, a great advertisement for Nike......It's amazing how well Gwyn plays when we're playing for money! She really knows how to step up her game when there are US Greenbacks on the line. Here's another pic of the happy girl!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A strange day

As I was driving home from the Capri Avian vet surgeon after dropping our lovebird Ginghi off for surgery, I decided that I needed some cheering up. I had my clubs in the car and decided I'd go to the Rancho Park Par 3 for a quick lunch round. Always a stress reliever. I've never really played the Par 3's with my full set of clubs but it was all I had. I thought, surely I can carry them around for 9 little holes.

As I putted on the 3rd hole I heard a scream and a woman running frantically around the 6th green with a bird chasing her. I noticed immediately that it was a pet and not a pigeon or something, so I got off the course and grabbed my golf towel ( only carried on my big set of clubs ) and ran over there. The poor bird was just trying to land on the ladies shoulder. This little cockatiel was sitting on the 6th tee quiet as can be probably waiting for the next set of unsuspecting golfers. I walked slowly over to the bird, cooing and talking softly, put my finger out and she just jumped on. What a sweetie. We walked quickly to the car and she was even letting me pet and preen her pin feathers. We stopped briefly in the clubhouse for a quick drink of water, poor thing was thirsty. Fortunately, Helen's Pet shop (Pico - Westside ) is just a block away and I drove over there.

It seems no one has inquired about a lost bird. So I bought a cage and drove home. Unfortunately, I've named the damn bird already -- Rancho. Fitting I think. I told Dena about the bird and she immediately broke down crying. Dena doesn't believe in co-incidences and she was thinking that this bird was brought into our lives because Ginghi was going to die on the operating table. Fortunately, 4 hours later, we've heard, our lovebird is recovering nicely from surgery and can come home tomorrow. I've got to say, Rancho is the prettiest Cockatiel I've ever seen with long, colorful tail feathers. Amazing......

Walk off home run

Sunday August 13th found us at the Los Angeles Sparks game, eagerly looking at the scoreboard for the LA Dodgers game score. It was tied 0 - 0 in the 10th inning. You see, it was a sold out game at Chavez Ravine with Greg Maddus pitching. We weren't there. What a shame. The games that Maddux has pitched at home, we haven't had tickets to. It would be a thrill to watch him pitch. A legend. In the 10th inning Russel Martin hit what they term a "walk off" home run. At first I thought that this meant that the bases were loaded and Russell Martin was walked home. Hence, a "walk off" run. But no, a "walk off" home run is where a guy hits the home run with no one on base, it's the game winner, and he runs the bases, after he crosses home everyone walks off the field into the club house. There is no need to play anymore as the game is over. Hence the term walk off. So there you have it, a new thing learned.....

For game recap, click here

Friday, August 11, 2006

3rd Tee

Here's the view from the 3rd tee at the Pioneer Meadows Golf Course in Edmonton. It's illegal to kill a Canadian Goose so I proceeded to herd them off the tee. Unfortunately, they didn't appreciate that and went right back at me, hissing loudly and then headed right back on the tee. We were eventually able to drive, but as was "par" for this course, it was another psychological obstacle to overcome.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thoughts for the day

Embarassing Moment -- At the end of lunch with 7 Bellsouth guys I was taking my vitamins, the embarassing moment was when I dropped one down my shirt perfectly into my cleavage.

Positive Thought Moment -- If Paula Creamer (LPGA youngster) is battling tendonitis at the Evian masters and playing thru the pain, then I shouldn't be ashamed of mine nor let it hinder my play.....

Aspiration for the Day -- Have a golf swing like Michell Wie

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

another day in the air.....

As I headed for the airport I was filled with dread. My last 3 visits have been terrible, flight delays, huge crowds and the like. What was today to bring. I walked up to the automated machine and tried my luck, BAM! Here comes my boarding pass, and off to the security I go. Hmmm, lucky so far.

I sailed thru security and as I sat at the gate this tall, blonde haired woman approached me and sat down. She struck up a conversation immediately. Obviously not an American I thought. She proceeded to tell me her life story. She came to America from Sweden and ended up in Fort McMurray of all places when she was 21. (Fort McMurray is 500 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta and is a booming oil sands town) This was in the 70's. 10,000 men and 600 women. Not good odds. She says back in the 70's it was a rough and tumble place where women had to learn to literally fight men off. She worked as a construction apprentice for 18 months making $9 an hour.

Next month her and her son are moving to the big island of Hawaii where there is a school near Kona called the West Hawaii Explorations Academy. It sounds like an amazing school. What a treat it would have been as a kid to have snorkelling on the agenda for the day's learning. School's explanation here

After boarding the plane and having a wonderful first class ride to denver, I knew it was too good to be true. As I boarded the plane for Atlanta kid after kid boarded after me. One 3 year old had a melt down right in the aisle by my seat. "Please let you seat be in the back of the plane" I hoped. Sitting behind me were 3 kids and their mom. The little girl threw up both for take off and landing. A lovely cat ( of which I'm deathly allergic to ) made the trip 5 rows behind me. The plane smelled like cat litter and vomit. What a lovely combination. Forunately I made it to Atlanta where it is raining and 82 degrees. It's nice that it's cooler than Los Angeles.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More on Alberta's "world's largest"

MUNDARE, Alberta -- World's Largest Ukrainian Sausage Built to commemorate sausage making in Mundare, this 42 foot high sausage was funded by a non-profit foundation created by the Stawnichy Family of Stawnichy's Meat Processing. Kind of looks like......poop?

Peter Fidler Statue The statue, of Hudson's Bay surveyor Peter Fidler, was carved with a chainsaw by Herman Poulin as part of Elk Point's 1992 Bicentennial Project and stands 32 feet high and 8 feet wide. Directions: Located at the north end of Elk Point on Highway 41.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My sister's next baby......

Modern technology is amazing nowadays. This is a 3D image of my sister Krystal and Ian's next child. Now you can either get a copy of this 3D kind of image or of the original B/W kind. Pretty darn cool if you ask me. It's a girl by the way.....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Travelling Alberta.....

Well here it is folks, me under the world's largest egg statue. This egg is in Vegreville. It's an Ukranian egg, easter egg to be exact. The bronze, gold and silver designs tell the story of the area's settlers - their strong faith, the good harvest, and the protection received from the R.C.M.P. The Pysanka is also one of the premier attractions along the Yellowhead Highway. Isn't that scary.

This next picture is of the statue my sister Krystal promised me was in Vegreville - a strong Ukranian community. She said that the world's largest pyrogy was there. It wasn't; we got the egg instead. But just because I know a lot of you are dying to know what the world's largest pyrogy might look like, here it is. It is also in Alberta, about 110 km from the egg. There are a lot of the world's largest in Alberta. That is also scary.

Created to attract tourists to the village of Glendon Alberta, the World's Largest Pyrogy, constructed by PML Exhibits of Calgary, was unveiled on August 31, 1993. The Pyrogy stands 25 feet tall, 12 feet wide and weighs 6000 pounds. Directions: Located on Pyrogy Drive in Pyrogy Park. <-- Naturally....

Friday, July 07, 2006

Golf in Canada - lessons learned

As I sit here with a bag of frozen peas on my swollen knees, I find myself pondering the lessons learned over the last 36 holes of golf in Canada. I've actually used my 5 iron. I'd never taken it out of the bag before. I thought that the hybrid was the end all of my fairway clubs, not true. You see, in California where I've golfed, there's the fairway and then there's the "rough" which is grass not more than 3/4" - 1" higher than the fairway grass. No big deal. I can hit my hybrid there no problem. Well in Canada, there's the fairway, then what they call the 2nd cut and then there's the "rough". Well the 2nd cut is grass about 2" high minimum (usually 2.5" - 3") and the rough is grass anywhere from 3" high to 18" high or more likely trees, leaves, bushes, high grass, vines and maybe a little poison ivy thrown in for good measure. So in the rough you do not want to be. My brother lost 12 balls in 36 holes. I'm proud to say that I only lost 2. So a lesson learned is not to use the hybrid in that kind of grass, it's really only good for me on the fairway. I need an iron to get through that thick grass.

Day one was a nice course with many, many mature trees, wide fairways, jack rabbits the size of deer and no bathrooms..... I shot what I think is my best score ever. 107 -- I usually don't even add up the score because I think it's so bad. My family golfs quite seriously. Losing your ball is a stroke penalty per the rules. Stroke penalties are taken seriously. My brother shot a 103 even after taking about 7 strokes. Not bad. He's usually under 100 but the trees ate him up. My brother-in-law shot a 98 and he took about 6 strokes. The 2nd day golfing was at our local course and it was windy as a hurricane all day, blowing our balls all over the place. My dad and I tied again with a score of 115. Not bad considering the wind and a swollen knee.

Well, tomorrow is the 2 day xcountry drive with my mom, sister and 3 year old niece. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Half way done

As I sit here this morning rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I find myself pondering the first official day of my vacation. It dawns on me (no pun intended) that it's July 5th. The year is half over. Many friends have had birthdays, we've BBQ'd, I've flown all over the USA, and all in a blink of an eye. It seems each day I stop to think about it, another 3 months have gone by.

I wonder if time just seems to be moving faster because I'm older? I remember asking my mom when I was in my thirties if she thought time just flew by, she said it went faster and faster the older whe was. But is this really true? Perhaps it's just because our lives are so much busier that time moves faster. There seems to be less time to just "be" as we rush about getting things done and crossing items off our to do lists. I'm not sure I even know how to relax anymore. Well, I'll be on my way to my gramma's soon, there's nothing to do there, so I guess it'll force me to relax.

Well, I've got to run -- got to rush to the airport.....I'll stop and smell the roses later.....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sitting in the airport you see & hear things

A group of 4 women chatting together using words like paradyne, server infrastructure continuity and drilling down and mining data. It was heartening to hear such tech savvy 40 something women networking and making business decisions. It’s not often seen in my travels. Data and/or IT has always seemed to be a man’s world. They chatted on this high level for about 60 minutes, using words that I may have to look up. Then the conversation turned to knitting….

A mother feeding cough medicine to her 2 year old. The boy wasn’t coughing so I suspect it was to put him asleep on the flight.

Woman from Australia who had tripped or was tripped on her flight from Sidney to LAX. She was being interviewed by a high level supervisor from United. She basically said she wasn’t going to sue but that her head hurt and her leg was badly twisted. She wanted to be moved to a seat that had more leg room. He moved her but didn’t put her in first class. He should have moved her to First. Idiot. I bet if she was a man he would have.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer Travel Season

The summer travel season has begun. I hate this time of year – meaning the time between when any school gets let out and goes back in session. This is the worst time of year for any business traveler. We have to endure the horribly long lines at the airport (thank goodness for my status), long lines for security, stupid people, delayed flights, screaming kids and over sold flights. The airport is so packed at this time of year its literally hard to move around.

Since I have status I can bypass all of this – however, the line currently to check-in at United is an hour and ½ long. The line for outside baggage check is ½ an hour. The inside security line is an hour. The standby list for the flight I’m on right now is > 100. That’s because of many people missing their flights or under the 45 minute limit for bag check. That’s new you know. If you get to the head of the check-in line and it’s < 45 minutes before your flight, they will not check your bag. If it’s too big for carryon then guess what – you’ve missed that plane.

I can’t wait for September….

Sunday, June 25, 2006

WNBA contenders

The 21st was a good day as the look of pure rapture on Ruby's face will attest to. The LA Sparks kicked Houston's butt and went on to win 7 straight. The best part of the game was Ruby yelling at Lisa Leslie as she went into the tunnel. A true fan. The game ended with Auntie Dawn managing to score some autograph coupons for the kids and them getting #00 Paige and Johnson's autograph. Ruby shook hands with Johnson and claims she'll never wash it again. It's wonderful to see how the Sparks treat their fans and especially the kids.

The Sparks are now in first place in the West with a record of 10-3.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Have you noticed when you're pulling $100 out of the ATM that it seems like a lot less cash than it did 10 years ago?

Monday, June 12, 2006

NGS Genographic Project - Eve > L0/L1 >L2

L2 individuals are found in sub-saharan Africa and like their L1 predecessors, they also live in Central Africa and as far south as South Africa. But where the L1/L0 peoples remained predominantly in East and Southern Africa, my ancestors broke off into a different direction, West. This L2 line is predominantly African-Americans. Not much is known about this genetic mutation and much genetic sampling is going on right now in West Africa and the United States to determine where, how and when this group emerged. It appears that although this is part of the migration my group (ultimately haplogroup X) did not follow this line.

See next post for L3 - Out of Africa.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

NGS Genographic Project - Eve > L0/L1

Previously I discussed the Mitochondrial Eve and how she represents the root of the family tree. Her descendents, moving around within Africa, eventually split into 2 distinct groups, characterized by a different set of genetic mutations their members carry. These 2 groups are referred to as L0 and L1. These individuals have the most divergent genetic sequences of anyboy alive today, meaning they represent the deepest branches of the mitochondrial tree. That's me :-)

Haplogroups L1 and L0 likely originated in East Africa and then spread throughout the rest of the continent. These were the hunter-gatherers. At some point, after these 2 groups had coexisted in Africa for a few thousand years, something important happened. The mitochondrial sequence of a woman in one of these groups, L1, mutated. One letter in her DNA changed and because many of her descendants have survived to present this change is a window to the past. This group went on to form their own group, L2. So, to follow -- Eve begat L1, and L1 begat L2.

Next, where did L2 migrate to?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


As we meander thru the people in the courtyard outside MOCA many things pop into my head. I wonder about like minded people. The people invited to this event have one common thread - they listen to NPR and have the means to donate a certain level of cash to the cause. It has always struck me that folks that listen to NPR are thoughtful, intelligent, liberal, to some degree at least, and open minded. The open minded trait seems important here at MOCA. It's the Rauschenberg exhibit that we are all here to see. (Or is it the free booze and food catered by Patina?)

The whole Rauschenberg thing is new for me. If someone were to ask, I could explain his art as, "he wanted to create in the space between life and art". I think that sums it up nicely. As I walk into the exhibit I notice these like minded, well educated NPR listeners doing much the same as I am. Some giggle as they look at a piece, some tilt their head at an angle perhaps to get a better view or maybe to rock the brain into understanding. Some stare purposefully making the rest of us wonder what the hell we're missing and some diligently read the little explanations....

Speaking of the explanations on the wall -- who writes this stuff. A word used in one was --scatological. What the hell is that. The only definition I could find was: dealing pruriently with excrement and excretory functions; "scatological literature" . I'm not even sure I really understand the definition but it seeems to me it's shit......yes, someone used a big word to describe a Rauschenberg piece as shit. hehe

There was also a lot of talk regarding the iconology represented in his pieces. Here's another big word after you've had 2 martinis. Iconology: defined as the branch of art history that studies visual images and their symbolic meaning (especially in social or political terms). OK, I'll buy that. But did he actually put the symbols there or are people just reading a whole lot into it? Here's the link to the Ram/urban garden "combine". What does the tennis ball represent? Some people say it speaks volumes. I can see the tire around the ram, but..... Ah well, it was a beautiful night to spend viewing art, watching people and thinking about how minute I am in the world....

Friday, June 02, 2006

Canadian takes 2nd in Bee

Today, my usual Canadian pride is bursting at the seams! What an exciting match on ABC last night as for the first time ever, the International Spelling Bee was televised on network TV. It was rife with stupid commentary (as only the Americans can...), controversy, humor and cliff hanging moments. Not to mention educational for those of us who haven't studied 98% - 100% of the dictionary.

Finola Hackett, a 14-year-old eighth grader from Tofield, Alta., took the $12,000 US second prize Thursday in the competition, worth more than $40,000 US for winner Katherine Close, from Ashbury Park, N.J.
Hackett was poised, her hands clasped in front of her, as she nailed several tough words to make it that far in the final two hours of the two-day annual spell-fest. She easily spelled out knaidel, a dumpling, and formenkreis, a group of related species. She even got dasyphyllous, meaning with downy leaves.

But Hackett, who began in a field of 274 competitors, finally got stumped on weltschmerz, a mental depression, and gave the spelling as veltschmerz. Frustrated the hell out of me because her Dad is German and she asked for the origin of the word. W's are pronounced with a V! Regardless, she's a proud girl and I'm a proud Canadian.

"I'm really proud of what I did for Canada," the teary youngster said after congratulating the winner on stage.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

NGS Geno Project - Mitochondrial Eve

Mitochondrial Eve is the name given by researchers to the woman who is the most recent common matrilineal ancestor of all living humans. We know about Eve because of mitochondria.
Naming Mitochondrial Eve after Eve of the Genesis creation story, has led to some misunderstandings among the general public. A common misconception is that Mitochondrial Eve was the only living female of her time — she was not (indeed, had she been, humanity would have probably become extinct). Many women alive at the same time as Mitochondrial Eve have descendants alive today. However, only Mitochondrial Eve produced an unbroken line of daughters that persists today — each of the other matrilineal lineages was broken when all the women in a particular matriarchal ancestry had only sons, or no children at all.

Simply put, Eve was a survivor. A maternal line can become extinct for a number of reasons. A soman may not have children, she may bear only sons, (who do not pass mtDNA to the next generation). She may fall victim to a catastrophic event (Volcanic eruption, landslide, flood, famine, etc), all of which have plagued humanity since the dawn of time.

After getting my DNA results back from the NGS my DNA goes all the way back to the Mitochondrial Eve, starting somewhere in or around the Olduvai gorge in Kenya, East Africa.

More on my DNA's particular journey in the next post.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

JPL open house -- Cassini-Huygens

Here's a picture of our latest adventures. JPL in Pasadena, CA had an open house this past weekend. What a blast. With life size and scaled models of everything from the Mars Rover, Opportunity and Cassini-Huygens (Saturn). It was very educational for both the adults and the kids. The kids asked very engaging questions and basically spent the whole day saying, "Wow!" and "Cool!" JPL holds this event open to the public once a year. If you ever have an opportunity, kids or no kids, GO! I personally had no idea we were orbitting Saturn or had placed a probe on Saturn's moon, Titan. Sounds almost Star Treky.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

NGS Genographic Kit Status

My DNA has been processed and my genome migration route plotted. Stay tuned to this blog for a description of my ancient ancestral migration and other tantalizing tidbits. As a reminder, detailed information on the project in general can be found under the NGS Genographic website here. And you can purchase a kit and be a part of an important study on the migration of hominoids here.

Part of the study has funded and contributed DNA markers to another important project studying recent (aka 10,000 years) changes in our DNA. These changes have occurred in different population segments depending on where in the world. The full article can be found here and here is an excerpt:

For example, major changes in diet occurred as nomadic hunter-gatherers slowly shifted to a settled agricultural existence. Pritchard says this transition left a legacy of strong selection on genes associated with the processing of carbohydrates and fatty acids. The clearest example—one previously known about by researchers—is the gene that allows for the digestion of milk into adulthood.

Among Europeans, whose ancestors relied on milk products as an important food source, this gene has become widespread. In most other human populations the gene is rare.
The study also provides new evidence that mutations to better digest different food products have spread in other groups. Asian and African populations showed selection in genes affecting the metabolism of the plant sugars mannose and sucrose. All three groups also showed selection for different genes involved in the uptake, storage, and energy conversion of dietary fats.
Another previously unreported example of natural selection involves the genes that people today rely on to process most pharmaceutical products.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Trunk Bay - St. John

This is a picture of Trunk Bay on the Island of St. John. It is a truly spectacular beach. This beach is part of a national park that encompasses most of the island. It has a fairly unique feature in that not only are their hiking trails but there is a snorkel trail. There is a snorkel travil that goes around that little island in the bay. I think it's probably about a 1/2 mile swim all around it. I did it, it was awesome!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A day in the life of a business traveller

My spirits are always buoyed at the thought of going home after a long trip. This morning was no different. Off to the St. Thomas airport I went with a spring in my step and a smile in my heart. As I approached the American Airlines counter I pondered how I was to get myself out of the middle seat on the Miami – LAX leg. You see, my itinerary was atrocious. In order to get home early I had to move carriers and fly AA. So the flight path was STT – San Juan Puerto Rico, then SJJ – Miami, then Miami – LAX. The Miami – LAX leg is 5.5 hours in the air.

Back to the middle seat – in the islands it is custom to greet people with Good (Morning, Afternoon, Evening). Hey, Hello or Hi is not appropriate. A lot of locals will not even acknowledge your presence unless greeted as such. Service quality often depends on your observance of this. I approached the AA ticket agent with the proper greeting and engaged her in polite banter. I’ve long learned that you can catch a better seat when procured with honey rather than vinegar. My diabolical plan worked and I was moved into my preferred aisle seat. You see, my ticket agent once flew to LAX in a middle seat with an arguing husband and wife on either side.

I had arrived in the STT with plenty of time to check in and clear customs because even though the US Virgin Islands are part of the United States, they aren’t treated as such. After clearing the way thru homeland security I relaxed at the gate. I wondered why the inbound aircraft hadn’t arrived yet. Turns out it was delayed over an hour from San Juan. This was bad. My connection in San Juan was tight and the connection in Miami, tighter still. I approached the gate agent with a humble demeanor as I really wanted to get home today. After much searching and rebooking it was deemed that yes, I probably would miss that connection in San Juan and I was rebooked with the following itinerary. STT – San Juan, SJJ – Dallas, DFW – LAX. Arriving 1 ½ hour later into LAX. She asked me to come outside with her to identify my bag for transfer. I followed her & while out of earshot of other customer’s she presented me with my new boarding cards. First class from SJJ to DFW. Ah, honey wins again.

After a very turbulent arrival in SJJ, I thought I would lose my breakfast at one point, I arrived at my gate for DFW. As I sat waiting I noticed a maintenance guy go thru the gate 19 door. I didn’t pay much mind as it was an hour before my flight. Then a little while later 2 maintenance guys strode purposefully past me thru gate 19. Hmmm I remarked. This is normally a bad thing. ½ hour later 3 more maintenance guys paraded thru the gate. Now I’m thinking either the plane is on fire or the lunch room is around the same corner. I stopped worrying until the captain showed up and didn’t go on the plane. Instead he grabbed a phone and I started to worry. When a captain doesn’t board his plane and you are to board in 20 minutes, it doesn’t bode well. Later we received an explanation that the battery in the aircraft was dead due to a power failure in that area of the field. Working in St. Thomas for a week, I’m familiar with power failures and other outages. It’s a way of life. Of the four external power carts, two were out of service and one was dead. The last was otherwise engaged. We would have to wait.

As I sit in First class sipping champagne and eating my warm nuts, I think about my luck today and wonder if I’ll make the DFW – LAX connection. You see, we left San Juan late….island time, baby.

Monday, May 15, 2006

St. Thomas Post 5 - Island Life

Life on the islands is certainly different. Here is one of my favorite pix of the week. I'll be in the air all day today. Wish me luck as I'm flying American Airlines not my usual United. I have a 5.5 hr Miami to LAX leg that I have a wonderful middle seat in.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

St. Thomas Post 5 - There is some fun to be had

Just so you don't feel too sorry for me, here's me eating lobster and notice the "parrot" drink to my left :-) And no, all those Coors Light behind me are not mine....

Saturday, May 13, 2006

St. Thomas post 4 -- Different life here

  1. Lunch is definitely an half hour longer than you want. Takes forever to get your food. It's island time baby.
  2. Cell phones can only be used in the car with a headset. You cannot dial while driving. Brian talked himself out of a ticket with the nice lady police officer yesterday on the way back to the condo. It's a $50.00 ticket for first offence. He knew he wasn't allowed but did it right in front of the cop so we got pulled over. He played dumb tourist. It worked.
  3. There are these things called "safari taxis". They sort of remind me of the taxis in Kenya that were white multi passenger vans and they drove around, picked people up and dropped them off, sort of like a bus route. It's similar here. A "safari taxi" will cost you $2 a real taxi ~ $15 per person for door to door service and $5 per person if you're locals. Surcharge for a tourist, imagine that. These are not buses though, they are Ford F350's with a flat bed on the back that has a bunch of seats on it with a fancy canopy. Big friggin' things.
  4. Internet connectivity goes down, island wide, a couple times a day. Very irritating.
  5. They drive on the left side of the road. I drove to/from site and lunch today. A little weird but not as bad as England. Here the steering wheel is on the US side. In England you're driving a stick that is in your Left hand, the steering wheel is on the RHSide of the car and you're driving on the Left. Here, it's steering wheel on LHside & drive on LH side. Why do they do this you ask? Perhaps its because they were owned by the Danes? Well that would be a logical explanation but the Danes sold the V.I. to the US for $21 million in 1917. There probably was only 2 cars on the island then. By the way, did you know why England drives on the LH side of the road? It comes from the knights and they wanted their sword hand free, the right, for approaching horsemen on the road. Thus, they rode on the Left.
  6. The USVI residents (all 110,000 of them) are US Citizens but cannot vote. They have one delegate in congress but he/she can't vote either. Seems like they are treated like 2nd class citizens. I can see why Puerto Rico is upset too.
  7. Everything rusts here. Drives me crazy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

St. Thomas Post 3 - Where I work

Ah, the glamorous life of travel. Everyone says, "wow, you get to go to the Virgin Islands, how cool!" Yeah, but actually its hot! This is where I spend my days....not by a pool, but in a dirty, hot warehouse. Notice the fan and the completely inadequate AC Unit. <-- you can click on the picture for a larger, more detailed view ;-)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

St. Thomas Post 2 - the price of gas

It amazes me that the price of gas in St. Thomas, an island in the middle of the carribean and far from land has gas cheaper than Los Angeles....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

St. Thomas Post 1 - Condo View

This is the view from my condo balcony. Not bad. The view is nice but the humidity is killer. I'm not used to such high humidity. While St. Thomas is beautiful it is not lush. It does have cactus, guava plants and palm trees, it is quite dry actually. I was surprised. The waiter at the restaurant last night said that "it's no Kauai". And that my friends, is the truth.....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

400,000 miles on my ass

As I flew over America's heartland in the middle of the night, my ass crossed the 400,000 mile flown mark. I think it's a milestone. My ass thinks its just a hard stone.... Since 1996 I've logged 400,000 flown miles. You may think, ah, that's not too many. I've got 200,000 on my Visa card alone. Well people, I'm not talking about miles you've earned by buying stuff or bonus miles you've received due to status, I'm talking actual flown miles. And these are only the miles logged on United. I've flown many different carriers over the years, although for the past 5 I have diligently tried to stay on United.

As the sleeping pill pulled me down on this red eye flight to Dulles my mind drifted. I thought of all the sight seeing I've been able to do, the countries I've seen and the people I've met. Then I thought of all the time I've been away from home. I think it may be time to be grounded. Perhaps the time has come to hang up my wings.

Then, 8 hours later I flew over St. Thomas and the other isles of the US Virgin Islands. The little thrill I get when going somewhere new, especially somewhere tropical. The white sand beaches and the aqua water beckoning. But the thrill wasn't as strong as it has been in the past. The old excitement level just wasn't there.

Sometimes one must examine their life and look toward the future. As I deplaned in the little airport on St. Thomas I sniffed the air. I smelled change.....

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Boeing Oribital Express project

Some things just take forever, especially projects that involve government & security. But when they do actually come to culmination it's a satisfying feeling. The below is the project that I've been implementing VoIP telephones for.

Orbital Express

As an aside, some Boeing gossip is that the "space program" is going back to the moon. They want to search for water. If there is water on the moon or mars or wherever else it has more immediate implications than the possibility of life past or future. They can set up a base and launch further space exploration from there and also build a factory. Water is life sustaining. That's probably the most important aspect of finding water, albeit frozen. Apparently the moon is filled with the perfect raw materials that can be easily mined in a gravity free environment. Sounds like a Sci-fi movie.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Do you think that life is all about texture? As I enter my hotel room and pull back the sheets from my Hilton room, I feel the texture of the bedspread. It's almost suede like in feel. I let my fingers dance over it again.......I let out a low moan. It was an involuntary reaction. Texture.... As I drove today from Oakland to Napa Valley, the green covered hills catch my eye. The gently waving grass beckons to me. I think it's the texture...... As I drive further north and the stark contrast of rough hewn boulders arching up into the smooth blue sky seems to draw me in. Texture...... As I perform my regular daily job, I love the sensation of a good pen in my hands. I can almost feel the flow of ink as it soaks into the paper. I appreciate the depth that my pen feels as it makes its first mark. It's all about texture........

What is it about texture that pulls our mind's eye to it? What is it about texture that draws us in? Entices us almost? The best definition google could offer to texture was this: The tactile quality of a surface or the representation or invention of the appearance of such a surface quality. Such rubbish, it's so much more than that. When I scrapbook I strive for texture. It drives my creations. I want people to reach out and caress the page, run their fingers over the photo or ephemera. I don't just want the brain to think of the memories, I want them to be felt. I want them to radiate through their fingers up to the brain and down to their heart, touching parts of our bodies that make us laugh, smile, sigh, and groan.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

NGS Genographic Kit Status

As I've discussed on a previous post I've purchased a National Geographic genome tracking kit. In case you missed that post, here's the link.

The status of my kit is that it is in DNA Isolation, explained below:

The cells are broken open by incubation with a protein-cutting enzyme overnight. Chemicals and the samples are transferred into deep well blocks for robotic DNA isolation. The blocks of chemicals and samples are placed on the extraction robot. The robotic DNA isolation uses silica-coated iron beads. In the presence of the appropriate chemicals DNA will bind to silica. The robot then uses magnetic probes to collect the beads (and DNA) and transfer them through several chemical washes and finally into a storage buffer, which allows the beads to release the DNA. At this point the beads are collected and discarded.

I'm eager for the next step....

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The thrill of BBQing

Spring has sprung and all things spring and summer drift through one's mind. Especially since I get to live in Southern California with our beautiful weather, the seasons come early and finish late. One of the things I love about spring is the anticipation of the BBQ season. I love to BBQ. My eyes water at the thought of smoke wafting thru the air, stinging my eyes.... My nose wiggles with the smells of charcoal. And my mouth waters at the thought of rotesserie chicken slowly turning on the spit.

To be a BBQ grill master one must properly prepare for the season. One must clean the BBQ, shop for new BBQ accessories and stock up on consumables (not the edible ones silly). For example, I've recently just purchased from Crate and Barrel a nifty little sauce pan with neat little rubberized micro tips for brushing sauce on the meat.
What's my next purchase? -- Is it the allure of the hot dog roaster or the corn roaster? Also from Crate and Barrel.

Ah spring, the possibilities are endless.....

The Mazda 5

What an odd vehicle I got from Hertz on this trip up to Seattle. It's called the Mazda 5. It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. This picture truly doesn't give it justice. It's like a cross between a station wagon, van and car. It's a lot shorter than it looks and stubbier. The most irritating thing about it is that the moment you start the car, this horrendous beeping ensues because you don't have your seatbelt on. Now, I've learned over the past few days that I like to start a car then put my seatbelt on. It's my way of letting the car warm up for a few seconds before I screech off. I don't need Mazda dictating to me the order in which events happen in my car! If I want to start the goddamn car first, then put my seatbelt on, I should be able to. I shouldn't have to listen to this mind numbing beeping noise while I secure the belt. It's bad enough that the federal government dictates what I have to do to keep myself safe, I sure as hell don't need Mazda doing it to.

This goes right back to that stupid seatbelt that used to close around you by zipping up along the window. Remember those? What a stupid invention that was. I mean, are we really that stupid that the car has to put the seatbelt on for us? Shouldn't we have some rights. The right to not wear the seatbelt? The right to put our lives on the line? The right to be as stupid as we want? We are taking away all the possibilities for the gene pool to be thinned here in America. And you have to admit, it needs thinning.....

Monday, April 03, 2006

Security Bypass

When you are a frequent flier in this sort of airport/airline climate, flying is just a pain in the ass. At most terminals in most airports now, there are Frequent Flier bypass lanes. These will be appropriately named depending on the airline -- Premier, Gold, Platinum, Elite, or what have you. These lanes are for people like me, who travel a lot. Don't give me dirty looks because you're standing in a disney like switchback line of about 200 people when I walk right past you. I don't deserve that look. I travel all the time. When I walk up to the TSA security checkpoint, I know what I'm doing. I can whip out my laptop, take off my jacket and shoes in the span of about 10 seconds with my boarding pass in my teeth and my other hand throwing the bag up on the belt.

I've done it for what seems like a million times. You haven't. It takes you forever. You forget that you have to take the DVD player out. You forget you have change in your pocket. You forget...... cause you don't do this every week. I deserve the bypass lane. You are too slow to have a bypass lane, that's why your lane is so long! So instead of giving me a dirty look as I whip by you with my rollaboard, give me a knowing look of pity because now you know that I have to put up with this bullshit all the time and you don't. Think of how lucky you are standing in that long line because having bypass status means you spend too much time on airplanes, in airports and away from the people you love.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

DNA Genographic Project

Well there it is people. My DNA. I could be re-created, cloned if you will from the tiny molecule contained in that vial. Think about it. Maybe the National Geographic is not really using my DNA to research the journey of humankind's ancestors but to create a clone army that has been subjected to mind control and will uphold the Christian right's skewed sense of values and take over the Earth!!! (insert evil laugh here)

But seriously, I'm looking forward to viewing the anonymous ramblings of my ancestors over the millennia. Truthfully, I know they came from Europe and Great Britain. I am a mutt after all with a lot of European blood in me, but you never know, I could have space alien DNA in me. I'm sure that wouldn't surprise a lot of you readers. Maybe they'll discover some new line or breed of humanoid? I could have been the product of a rape back in 10,000 BCE of my ancient mother by the aliens that built the pyramids. Ya think? Stay tuned for the results and perhaps other neurotic, paranoid delusional ramblings....

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tax Ramblings

There is absolutely nothing more I hate doing in the whole world is preparing for taxes. Well maybe going to the dentist or the Gyno. Years ago I had my own business and it was a horror show. I was twenty something and didn't have the diligence and organization skills required to keep a handle on records all through out the year, so come April it was a nightmare. Now, I work for the "man" and get a W2 in the mail like most taxpaying American middle class poor people. You'd think it'd be easy wouldn't you? I must be scarred for life by the previous tax preparation events as I procrastinate until it hurts. Wouldn't you think I'd be motivated by $$$ After all, I do get $$ back every year.

Scars. Emotional scars last for such a long time. Even if they are self inflicted and/or imagined. Memories, they seem to waiver and morph into something that we think we remember instead of what we really remember. I wonder if the brain is covering for us? Modifying memories, making them look better. Sort of like what a mother remembers of child birth. They say they don't really remember the pain.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SSSSS Selected for Additional Security Screening

Yes, that’s me. I had the magic SSSSS on my boarding pass today. I was on a one-way ticket from Burbank (BUR) to Spokane (GEG). No, it wasn’t a pleasure trip. Who would go from 65 degrees in Los Angeles to 38 degrees in Spokane for pleasure? I had to get a one-way ticket as everything was sold out to/from GEG. Go figure, apparently there are a lot of people needing to go to GEG or more likely, get the hell out.

I bore my cross today at security with patience and disinterest. It’s just one of the many inconveniences we must go thru to travel by air. Does anyone really think that a terrorist is going to buy a one way ticket when they know they’ll get enhanced screening? But that’s another blog…. It was quite a fiasco with the pat down, ripping thru all my bags, the bomb cloth on each item. Good thing I got to the airport early.

Now, on to more important things. I flew Alaska Air up to Spokane, because everyone knows that Alaska Air owns the NorthWest. My flight was run by Horizon Air as big carriers contract the short hauls to little carriers. I haven’t cheated on United Airlines for probably 5 years, maybe more. I’ve been a loyal customer despite their little seats, shitty service, lack of any kind of snack let alone actual food and slow baggage service at LAX. My conclusion…the grass really is greener on the other side.

Horizon Air has free beer and wine. Yes, you heard me right, FREE ALCOHOL. They had a nice Red Hook India Pale Ale (which was exquisite) and a Columbia Crest red. They feature a microbrew a month and a NW winery every month. What a treat. And you know what the snack was? Corn chips and cheese. And dessert was chocolate covered cranberries. Yummy Yummy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

National Geographic Genographic Project

Well, I finally broke down and did it. I ordered the NG Global Genome personal tracking project kit. I've wanted to do this since the first article came out in National Geographic some months ago. As stated on the website this is not a genealogy test and I won't learn about my great grandparents. I will learn, however, of my deep ancestry, the ancient genetic journeys and physical travels of my distant relatives. Kind of a cool project if you ask me. I want to know how far my relative walked or migrated since my little genes came into existence. Where does my bloodline come from? I'm a mutt you see, Irish, English, Cornish, Native Canadian Indian (I can't say Native American, cause I'm not), German and who knows what else.

To read about the project as a whole go here. I'm a sucker for funding research. Perhaps I should have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth so I could be a philanthropist? This little DNA test is supposedly anonymous - I get a # that no one knows is associated with me. Well, I don't really believe that, but, its not like I'm going to murder someone and they are going to use it against me. Of course, you never know. Us women can do unpredictable things....

Friday, March 17, 2006

The $39 Experiment

I was visiting a co-workers blog today and noticed a previous posting that he had made regarding this guy and his $39 experiment. It's quite interesting what he's discovered and the stuff he has gotten back. I particularly like the Mercedes Benz letter and their response. Anyways, check it out at the link above. It's a good read.

My co-worker's link is above as well. Dan is our in house security expert so some of his posts may be over my average reader's head but some of you may find it interesting. For my Canadian readers, he is also a big fan of curling. Dan and I both work for Mitel -- a VoIP company with headquarters in Ottawa.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

7-11 Story

Sometime ago I used to go to 7-11 everyday for my Big Gulp in the morning. Some people do coffee, I did diet Coke. Each day I would see a lanky young black fellow who would wash my windows and I'd bring him out a pastry. We had a relationship of sorts. I depended on him, he depended on me. One day I was driving to work and thought "Tomorrow, I should ask him why is he homeless. He's young, in fairly good shape, we've had reasonable conversations before so he's not looney, I want to know how he ended up washing my windows with newspaper."

The day arrived and I asked him what his story was. He was a cable TV installer, went out to a party one weekend, drank too much and got busted DUI on the way home. He lost his license which cost him his job, which cost him his girlfriend & then his apartment. Now after living on the streets and shelters and probably doing god knows what he found out he was HIV +. Occasionally I think about him when I venture into a 7-11. I wonder whatever became of him and hope he's doing ok.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sedition Act

I was contacted by some students at Nanyang Technological University Singapore regarding a blogger behavior survey. I was quite struck by one of the questions in it. It asked how I felt about the Sedition Act and if I blogged differently because of it. I had no clue what the Sedition Act was and decided I'd better learn.

There was a Sedition Act in the US - 2 actually. The US Sedition act basically stated that anyone "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" could be imprisoned for up to two years. It was also illegal to "write, print, utter, or publish" anything critical of the president or Congress. It was notable that the Act did not prohibit criticism of the Vice-President.

I'm sort of led to believe that this act expired with President Adams leaving office in 1800. It's pretty scary though. Why did the supreme court mention it in a 1964 decision? Basically it denies freedom of speech. Hmmm I'll bet there are some members of our government today that would like the Sedition Act alive and well. Let's also remember that what today is known as McCarthyism was a Sedition Act in 1918 -1920.

The true nature of the question stemmed from the fact that this is in effect in Singapore. This Singapore Sedition Act was used against individuals last year for the first time in the past 30+ years and it is in the their Constitution.

We should never take for granted our freedom of speech nor should we ever allow it to be taken away. This right has been infringed upon repeatedly since 9-11 and Americans seem far to complacent.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Water on Saturn's moon?

Nasa's deep spacecraft Cassini has taken pictures of an amazing find. Water on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The picture above shows what must be huge plumes of water shooting from the planet's surface and falling back as snow. In some of the reading I've done the scientists all say it's H20, but seriously, how can that be? It's a hell of a lot colder out by Saturn than it is on our little rock. Articles can be found here and here

But think of it -- water on Saturn. Can you see humankind mining the water? I can. I imagine spacetankers coming back with super frozen water to Earth because we've polluted all our fresh water. I can see mining colonies on Enceladus and a riot breaking out because of inhumane conditions. Really the mine has some terrible gaseous poison that makes humans insane. The mining colony is slowly dissolving into anarchy. Power mining tools being used to dismember the mine management.....staffers running thru darkened shafts with fits of steam hissing all around them. hmmm, I'm digressing here into what could be a cool SciFi movie....

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dirty Little Secrets

Everyone has secrets. Whether they are stashed in the back of a closet in a shoebox, written in a private diary or locked away deep in our mind, everyone has some secret(s) hidden. Remember when you were a kid & whispering a secret into the ear of your friend? How quickly that silly little tidbit made its way across the playground. Perhaps we've taken those playground lessons into adulthood and lock our skeletons safely in the cupboard. When my little niece whispered secrets into my ear I would tell her that if she didn't cover the other ear the secret would leak out. But all secrets leak out eventually.

I know you keep secrets. I know you keep one from your best friend, another from your lover and another from your Mother. It may be a tryst that you are embarrassed of, a moment of underhandedness that you don't want to get out, or some other furtive moment in your life. Suffice it to say, all secrets are kept for only one of two reasons: You don't want anyone to know as it will hurt you or the other person, or you want to seem more important than you think you are.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Things I've learned or thought of during Wednesday the 8th of March---

If Oprah can build 65 houses in a whole neighborhood that was a big dirt field in 3 months, why can't FEMA and the whole US government fix New Orleans? Surely the US Government is more powerful and richer than Oprah.

When you leave a tin of wonderfully delicious and expensive dark chocolate squares in your center console and leave the car in rooftop parking in Riverside in March, chances are it'll be one sticky but yummy tin of liquid when you're done for the day.

Driving to Riverside sucks -- but it sucks much more in the Chevy mommy mobile than it does in my new Dodge Magnum.

2 huge diet cokes for lunch when you're not used to caffiene anymore is kind of like roto rooter for your body. Apparently I need to be reminded of that every 6 months or so. Or perhaps I needed a drain cleanout. Good thing no one cleaned out my trap.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Living your life

The graphic above, although small, represents something big. When we are young we live our lives in the solid oval - focusing on the Present and the Future. A 3 year old answers the question of "How old are you?" with "I'm going to be 4." An adult, when asked how old usually answers with the current age or younger.
This represents how we start our lives working toward the future and living in the present but as we age we relinquish or suppress any future possibilities and dwell in the past and barely live in the present. If you're in the Left handed dashed oval, then you have given up on the possibility of fulfilling your dreams, and essentially decided to mark off your territory and maintain your station.

It's difficult to strive for your dreams. Self doubt, life, & responsibilities can make it challenging to move toward our goals, so we begin to compromise. We settle. We shut down and spend the rest of our lives justifying where we ended up. If someone comes to us with their dream, perhaps we even shoot them down. After all, how dare they have dreams when yours are dead.

Get out of the past and jump into the future!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hanalei Bay Rains

Hanalei river runs thru the canoe club.
Raging mouth of the Hanalei River. The beach was crumbling at the edge. There is a huge debris field out past the mouth where large trees, etc gathered. They were ferrying people who had to leave in boats over to Princeville.

View from just before Postcards Cafe. The Dolphin is in the background there.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Explanation of Hats -- from Kauai

Yesterday I had to explain to Dena the reason for my hats. I have a small collection of baseball caps. I hadn’t thought of it as a collection really until I had to explain to Dena why I “needed” another one. It’s not that she’d deny me of anything of course, just wondering why in the world I wanted another one. So as I was explaining my little reason for the hats I realized that each holds a special memory of the person, place or event where I bought it.

For example, my Microsoft hat was purchased at the Microsoft store in Redmund, WA after a week of testing a special Baypoint-VPIM --> Microsoft Exchange application. It was a thrill for me to be at Microsoft in general, to walk the hallowed halls, eat in the 24 hour amazing cafeteria, go to the “corner” stores in the campus and finally shop at the famed “employee only” Microsoft store. See, each holds a memory.

So the hat in question yesterday was a Hanalei Dolphin hat. I struggled with buying it, as true, I have a lot of hats. But alas, the memories won. Dena & I have eaten there every time we’ve come for 15 years now. And we were hurried out the night the bridge was closed sans dessert. It has memories, what can I tell ya.

In Kauai today I’ve discovered that there were 20” of rain in 24 hours yesterday. Amazing. We spent the day lounging about the beach, daydreaming about how we could afford to live here. Someday....