Friday, January 30, 2009

Church of the Open Door

It's not unusual for me to discover new things in the downtown area. It's like a maze down here with little nooks and crannies and paths leading to places you never thought were there. This is my most recent discovery and I've walked by it for 9 months and had no idea. It's a church. Right in the courtyard of my building. Well, ok, not a church but an homage to the original church that was on the site of 550 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles. As you can see by the picture, a black marble path with the brass inlays representing footsteps mark the path to the monument. The maintenance guy in my building polishes the brass every week, religiously. The gold plate to the right of the door closes at night and during storms which I suppose to the cynical mind sort of defeats the it's probably to keep the homeless out.

The pictures above reflect the original Open Door Church from 1915 and the homage that the high rise built in 1985 pays to it now. Apparently, there was a infamous "Jesus Saves" sign that was huge on the top of the church way back when. That sign has been relocated to the new church in Glendora. My favorite TV celeb Huell Howser did a special on this church in his "LA Downtown series". You can actually buy the episode here. I doubt it warrants such a drastic measure though.
How did the church come to move? Was it forced out by big developers? No such story here. The church had become landlocked in downtown LA with most of its parishioners now living in the 'burbs. The next generation was not coming to worship so they decided to move. Lucky they did as apparently, just after they sold the property, an earthquake occurred, and the building was condemned. It has now been demolished, and an my office tower stands where the church used to be.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Goodbye Former President Bush

This picture is of Dena burning a cartoon that has been on our fridge for 8 years. The cartoon was of a bunny or something sitting on a stool telling another character that he can't believe he has to put up with Bush for 4 years. In the 2004 election she changed the 4 to an 8 with tears streaming down her face. Today, she was elated to burn the entire cartoon thus ending an era of American politics that drove this country into the ground.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunrise over Downtown Los Angeles

This shot taken from the 50th floor of the LA Live building in south downtown Los Angeles. In the distance you can see the sun glinting off another Webcor crane at 9th and Figuerora Streets

Monday, January 26, 2009

Top Chef: Where are they now?

Since I'm a big fan of Top Chef and have watched the show from the beginning, often I wonder what has happened to the winners, the losers and the in betweens.

Over Top Chef's run, several accusations of wrong-doing have been alleged on Contestants as well as Judges.
1) Contestant Marcel Vigneron was arrested on August 23, 2008 on suspicion of DUI [20] .
2) Contestant Richard Blais had a petition filed against him by a women named "Samantha" alleging that he had neglected to pay Child Support for a child she claimed was his. [21] Blais's name is on the Birth Certificate as the father of the Child (now 17).
3) Contestant Cliff Crooks was discharged from the show as a result of assaulting fellow Contestant Marcel Vigneron [23] Vigneron did not file charges against Crooks.
4) Judge Tom Colicchio was sued for allegedly failing to pay a waitress minimum-wage. [24]

Marcel Vigneron has had a tough time of it. He was always portrayed as sort of an ass in the show. It hasn't served him well. Vigneron, after identifying himself, was assaulted and struck on the face with a bottle by a Top Chef viewer at a nightclub.[3] On August 23, 2008, Vigneron was arrested in Laguna Beach, California, for suspicion of DUI after being pulled over for speeding.[4] As of November 2008 he serves as a lowly sous chef at The Bazaar in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

I'm excited and fascinated by the Internet gossip regarding Ilan Hall (Season 4). He seems to either be suffering from lack of focus or lack of funds. There have been many rumors of him opening restaurants in Manhattan and now Los Angeles. The latest is a restaurant called Gorbals in Los Angeles that is a severe twist on Irish/Jewish cooking. There will be rabbis doing backflips in their graves at this restaurant with menu items like bacon wrapped matzoh balls and lobster hummus. There is no indication that it is open but the rumor was for it to open in January 2009. Knowing funding, the economy and the Los Angeles permit fiasco it probably isn’t. Details here.

I am also excited to be taking Dena out for her birthday to Tom Colicchio's restaurant Craft in Century City, CA. I had the privilege of eating there for the holidays in 2008 and am looking forward to another visit. The service was impeccable, the food was excellent and innovative although the amuse bouche was practically inedible. We shall see what a second visit holds.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Shocking Message

At home this evening there was a message on the answering machine from Costco. Odd? Costco calling me? The message was regarding a recall for Zone Perfect bars. I just bought some from Costco last weekend. I have one every morning at 6:30 am. It was quite shocking to me that a) they knew that I bought some and b) they knew my home phone number to call me and tell me that.

So, let's preface this whole conversation with the news of the day that applies to this story. There is a problem with peanut paste causing salmonella. People have died, it's nothing to joke about. That's what the CDC says anyways. It's been traced to The Peanut Corporation (what an original name) and they make peanut paste. Peanut paste is in everything except peanut butter. Odd.

Zone Perfect bars and tons of other items (125 and counting), have peanut paste from the company in question in them. This peanut paste was somehow contaminated at their Georgia plant with Salmonella. This is nothing to joke about and is quite serious. Not to be too graphic here but yesterday all of a sudden, without warning, I got diarrhea. This sort of explains the whole thing.

And back to the 2nd item that is freaking me out. How did Costco get my phone #? Our home phone is listed under Dena's name and the Costco membership is under mine. How did they know I bought Zone bars? I suppose I'm foolish enough or have my head stuck in the sand far enough to think that no one is keeping track of what I'm buying. Well, here is proof that someone is, and frankly they always are, keeping track of what you are buying, when you are buying it, where you live, and the privacy violations go on and on and on....
I think I'll stick my head back in the sand, but before I do....

Do you have items in your pantry that have this peanut paste in it? I'm sure you do.
Check out these links:

The Peanut Corporation official website
USA today info article
Costco Zone Perfect Letter
Recalls - just go to the Costco website and type the word recall into the search bar. I was stunned at the quantity of results.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How Does Former President Bush Live with Himself?

As I sat and watched the inauguration in the comfort of my own home and the power of my DVR remote, many thoughts occurred to me. I watched as they showed George W. Bush a couple times and wondered what he thought of the speech. The statements in italics below struck me as indirect digs at Bush's inability to lead and his leaving this country in a state of disrepair not seen since the original depression.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Was Bush wondering how it all could have gone wrong? Was he feeling bad about creating such a mess? He must have felt something because his speech as he landed in Texas a few hours later could have been taken as a bit defensive. You can read it here. I would probably feel terrible if the legacy I left after running a great country like the United States of America for 8 years was the highest unemployment since the troops came home from WWII, businesses closing their doors so fast we cannot keep up with the news, people losing their homes at a record pace, and frankly the list goes on and on and on. Some interesting graphs on the younger Bush years is here

Perhaps the record number of attendees illustrates the hope and desperation of the American people? See the numbers below:

Attendance numbers
1965: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1.2 m
1973: Richard Nixon, 300,000
1977: Jimmy Carter, 350,000
1981: Ronald Reagan, 500,000
1989: George H.W. Bush, 300,000
1993: Bill Clinton, 800,000
2001: George W. Bush: 500,000
2009: Barach Obama: 1.8 - 2.0 million

I wonder what he's thinking and I wonder if he cares or if he thinks at all....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugaration - The Year of Hope Begins

The machine that is the Obama campaign is producing what I can only imagine was their goal 2 years ago -- the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. The Obama campaign machine is a digital marvel and did a fantastic job of capitalizing on the changes in communications media that has occurred in just the last few years. We are after all much more media driven than 2 years ago, if that's possible. We want to know what you're thinking, where you are and what you're doing at any given moment via Facebook, Twitter , Skype or any combination of those via your iPhone. I want to know NOW.

On that thought let me expound a little on the technical preparations that are being done in DC for the inauguration. Sprint, AT&T and other astute wireless carriers are beefing up cell sites in and around the White House to handle the expected increased cell, text and Internet traffic. They are adding mobile cell site trailers or "cell on wheels," or COWs to help. Did you know that text messaging traffic spiked 44% above normal on election day as the results came in. Is the fact that it spiked 44% some sort of cosmic reflection on the fact that the 44th president was getting elected or was it just coincidence?

So if you're lucky enough to have a ticket to the inauguration or one of the balls, just know that texting takes less cell overhead than voice and sending pictures so a text is more likely to get through a jammed network. Speaking of jamming, Secret Service agents do have the capability to jam wireless communications in the immediate vicinity of the president - that is, if they think there's a threat. But if you have trouble getting though from the parade route, it will probably be due to congestion rather than national security.

Get your official Inauguration poster here and if you're feeling generous, for $500 you can get a signed one. Signed by who I don't know but it's signed none the less.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hanging out Above 53

Today I had an opportunity to go up to the top of one of our buildings for a survey for some temporary cellular coverage for our workers. Here I am, on top....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Did you know there was a word for it?

Me neither....what am I talking about? Someone sends you an email with an URL or hyperlink in it, basically a web page. You click it, think it's cool and then forward that email to 500 of your closest friends. They click it, think it's cool and so on and so on.... This is a phenomenum created by the proliferation of the Internet itself. It has a name....Internet meme (pronounced /miːm/) Internet memes are spread organically, voluntarily, and peer to peer, rather than by compulsion, predetermined path, or completely automated means.

Say what? What the hell is a meme? Glad you asked. A meme is (according to the Princeton Online dictionary); a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation); "memes ...

There are many kinds of Internet Memes, standard joke emails, hoaxes, altered images (think Sarah Palin), false news stories and the list goes on and on. Some of these memes have created their own businesses, like Snopes for example, whose sole business purpose is refuting Internet Memes and their validity. I could be creating my own Internet meme by putting hyper links into my blog. There's your new word for the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

House Hunting Update

This weekend we decided to try something different regarding the whole house hunting adventure. We decided to expand our area of interest and we looked in the Venice Beach area. An interesting group of houses were carefully chosen by Dena all around our price and all "reduced" which is the norm nowadays.

As we drove around and stopped in to look we noticed some things that we have never really paid attention to about Venice. It is very dense. Much more densely packed and populated than where we live. Most houses have no yards, the houses are much more expensive due to their proximity to the beach and no one has a garage to speak of. If there was a garage it's long been converted to a "single" where usually some surfer bum lives. The houses are on the smaller size and you get less for your $. Venice also comes with an eclectic set of neighbors. You could have section 8 living next door or a 6 figure attorney with a surfing habit.

We realized that Venice wasn't our cup of tea and quickly drove out of the neighborhood. It's good for showing tourists around, good for brunch and great for a walk with a view, but not to live in.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My Office

All of you have been bugging me and teasing me saying that I don't really have an office since no one has seen pictures. Well, finally, here it is. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, so I won't bore you. Yes, isn't the view lovely? Yes, those are flowers - a gift from Webcor for my birthday. And yes, those are orchids, a gift from a subordinate. Yes, it is all wine and roses in my life.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

In Search of the Wii Fit

I got a Wii for Christmas. I've been playing it almost everyday, we played it on New Year's Eve with our friends, we played it with friends from Sweden last night and I played it by myself today. It's addicting. I played 18 holes of golf on Doral (Home of the Blue Monster) and had to take 2 Advil afterwards for my sore shoulder. By the way, I was 2 under par! Perhaps next weekend I'll try Pebble Beach...

I wanted to start the new year off right with a Wii Fit. I searched online and my goodness they seemed expensive. They were selling for ~ $ 150.00 I tried Target, GameStop and the like, all sold out and no idea when more would come. They were cheaper if you could find one in a brick and mortar store. $89.99 That was reasonable. Best Buy was the only store that knew when they would get more in and the nice girl at the Culver City, CA store told me to come early as there is usually a line. I've never waited in line for anything in my life but I had to have it.

I set my alarm for 8 am Sunday and barely could sleep with anticipation. Would there be a mad dash through the store? Would I have to push aside some 6 year old to get one? I arrived promptly at the Best Buy in Culver City at 8:30 am. There was no one there. I trotted over to Ralphs, got the paper and a muffin and took up my position as first in line. I was assured a Wii Fit. I felt confident. As the morning wore on and my feet got colder and tired of standing more and more people showed up. A fellow behind me wanted the Wii for his kids for their belated Christmas. Everyone had a story.

At 10:00 the doors opened and calmly we filed in, a young boy shouted, "There they are, I see the Wii Fits!" and the race was on. My walk became a trot and I too finally spotted them. And yes, there was some pushing and I had to reach over a 6 year old to snag my Wii Fit. The little kid was faster than me as he was about 10th in line! There were only six Wii Fits and one Wii. I got the 3rd one. I'm not sure how as #1 in line I got the 3rd, but hey, I got one! The guy second in line behind me walked away with no Wii. I felt sorry for him but I left triumphant! Was I just as happy as I plugged it in and played (or rather exercised) with it? I can tell you for sure, YES!