Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to

How do you get a 150 pound AC unit onto your roof? This is an interesting contraption, they were almost done before I could get the camera. They hand cranked it up there, used the two 2x4's to slide it over the parapet and the result? We should have AC by Saturday! Thank you Obama for our expected $ 1,500 federal tax rebate and thanks to the Southern California Gas Company for our expected $200.00 rebate. By the way, just so you all know, the unit is an Armstrong "enhanced" AC unit. HaHa

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Backyard Jay Babies - Update

They are a week older now. You can clearly see all 3 of their beaks and skinny little necks. I took my life in my own hands getting this picture. Papa jay was clearly very pissed off that I was near his family as all of a sudden I felt something brush my hair. I looked over on the rail of our steps and there he was giving me a very evil eyeball. Then I quickly moved a branch and stuck the camera in and I got 2 more flybys. I ran inside!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Backyard LIfe

Is there 3? This nest is in the little tree just outside our bathroom window.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dodgers Win - Again!

Jonathon "Big John" Broxton, closer, 9th inning, 2 outs, into the stretch.....
And yes, I took that picture.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New Twitter Phishing Scam

After Barack Obama and Ashton Kutcher, the latest people to hop on the Twitter bandwagon are cybercriminals. Twitter is a social networking website that allows its users to write “micro-blogs” and since January the site has exploded in popularity. The number of daily visitors has surpassed relative veterans such as Linkedin and Bebo so it should come as no surprise that phishers and other scam artists are following their victims to What is unusual is the level of sophistication that Twitter phishing has already achieved.

For example, in one widespread phishing attack a hacker creates dozens of dummy Twitter accounts which then begin to "follow" other users. When one of these users decides to check out who's following their micro-blog, they are presented with a link to a site called "tvviter". Notice the trick spelling? Another ploy is to use websites like which provide redirection services so that victims don't really know where the link will take them. Once they arrive at the victim users find themselves at a fake Twitter login page that is controlled by the phishers. The hackers who set up the imposter web site then use the stolen account passwords to spread adult ads and spyware downloads which can earn big bucks for the phishing hackers. Many users have fallen prey to this phishing scam.

What can you do to stay safe on Twitter and other social networking sites? * Be wary of clicking on any link that looks like “”, these can take you anywhere on the net!* If you want to preview where the tinyurl link will take you, use the free link preview service at* Always double-check the address bar before logging in. Phishing schemes often rely on victims not paying close attention to the URL.* Stay vigilant- the phishers are here to stay, and sooner or later you will be a target.

-- this article courtesy of

Monday, June 08, 2009

Credit Screening

Just thought I'd post a couple websites up here that have come to my attention. The first is how to freeze your credit, what it costs and this link only applies to California residences. This link is a government website.

Freezing your credit does not allow any company to run a credit check on you unless you "open" your credit via a PIN. This obviously would stop any identity theft as no business will allow a new account to be opened without a credit check.

The second link is how to opt out of receiving those irritating and potentially dangerous pre-approved credit offers.

These links have been checked and to the best of my knowledge are not false. It is important when surfing the Internet you pay very close attention to whether the site you are visiting is real or an impostor. The Federal Trade Commission has an interesting page on this here. If you have a moment, check it out as it has valuable tips. By the way, for my cousins who are starting to twitter, be very careful of new phishing scams on twitter. I'll post a blog tomorrow on this.

The FTC also has a page detailing the ONLY website authorized to offer you a free credit report. The rest are impostors either trying to get money out of you for doing the same thing that the FTC authorized one does or are trying to capture your personal information to steal your identity.

Homeless #2

I suppose I have a soft spot for some homeless and homeless women in particular. I'm not sure where this comes from but occasionally it drives Dena a little crazy. But that's my job. On a particularly chilly day I was on my way home from the post office and I see this woman waving her arms madly on the street corner. She was shoeless and only had a t-shirt on. She looked extremely dishevelled, cold and perhaps a little off. I was concerned that she had wandered away from her caregiver. No one was stopping and I couldn't help myself.

I stopped and she told me a sad tale of a stolen social security check, how hungry she was, etc. What possessed me I don't know but I offered to get her a jacket and asked her to get in my truck. On the short drive home I began quickly to regret my decision. She reeked so bad I had to open all the windows. I wondered how I would ever get the smell out. At the house I found a brand new UPS jacket that an old roommate had given me, a pair of tennis shoes and some food. I dressed her all up and drove her back to where I picked her up. I suppose in hindsight the entire affair was foolish on my part but I like to think I helped in some way.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Speaking of Homeless #1

In another lifetime I would stop by my local 7-11 every morning on my way to work. Almost every morning there would be a young, tall black fellow there with newspapers and watered down windex asking to clean your windshield. Sometimes I would let him but I have a rule. Never give a homeless man money. It's my rule, yes it's prejudice I suppose, but it's my money. I will buy food, which I did. Regularly we had this exchange, where I'd buy him a pastry for breakfast and my windshield would be cleaned.

Some weeks, I wouldn't see him. After one such absence I struck up a conversation with him and asked where he'd been. He'd been ill and hospitalized. I could see it, he looked terrible. Most mornings after our transaction of sorts I would ponder how he got into this situation and how would he ever get out of it. It was obvious he didn't mind working for his money instead of straight begging at least he was cleaning windshields.

So, I asked him. He explained to me that he had been a cable TV installer and had been out at a party in South Central Los Angeles and had gotten busted for DUI. DUI laws are very strong now and he lost his license for 6 months, that meant he couldn't drive the cable TV van. There went his job. He said his girlfriend dumped him and he lost his apartment quickly after that. It spiraled from there and he ended up contracting HIV. A sad tale but easy to see it happening to anyone really. One bad choice and your life turns to shit.

Several weeks after our bonding experience he disappeared. He had been looking quite gaunt and I suspected the worse. I've never seen him since. Sometimes when I approach the 7-11 I wonder....

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Homeless - How Do You Recover?

The other night Dena and I were standing in line for the Ira Glass NPR event and a scruffy looking guy with a long beard walked up to the people in front of us. He asked what the line was for. They turned their back and ignored him. He asked us the same question. He looked homeless but not crazy although he had crossed Wilshire in the middle of the street and just about got hit by several cars seconds before this. After a momentary pause, I decided to answer him. He then asked several other questions about NPR ending with where on the dial was NPR. You have to be old school to ask "where on the dial".

As I write this blog I'm staring at a drawing I purchased last week from a homeless woman (well I assume she's homeless) that often sets up shop on the corner of Crescent Heights and Wilshire. She sells her drawings which are either charcoal or crayon and are quite bad truth be told. I bought one from her the other night, $ 10. She's scruffy but appears to be as well kept as I imagine she's able, her clothes are very old but seem well cared for.

These moments in time add up to a terrible National crisis. Sure, some homeless people are a little crazy, the Federal and State governments haven't cared for these middle of the road crazy people since Reagan put them all on the streets. But what about the others? What about the person that has lost their job which led to losing the apartment which lead to burning bridges with friends? What about the person who has no where left to turn to? How do they recover? How do they interview? How do they even get an interview? If they got a job, how would they afford to get started in the job with clothes and getting to work? It seems impossible.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Another 7-11 Event

This morning I popped by the 7-11 on San Vicente and Hauser near the house. My Burmese friend was there, as he normally is. He works until 8am. I suppose it's a little sad that I know the 7-11 guys schedules. I've blogged about my 7-11 buddies before, check out my previous blogposts.

He greets me as usual with "Hello my Canadian friend." This all started a couple years ago when he started hitting on me. His advances were subtle but basically he was fishing for immigration status, at least that is what I thought. Marrying an American white girl would solve that for him. So I told him I was Canadian in the hopes that he would back off somewhat and he did. He's still jovial and friendly but had stopped asking about my personal life.

This morning that all changed. He said that he "liked my style". I was of course, dressed for work. I dress in my own style, which is conservative with sharp, crisp lines. Perhaps it was my mother that ruined me for crisp lines, ironing my jeans and t-shirts but it is my style now...... After I chose my purchase and walked up to the counter, he asked me if there was a man in my life. I said no man, woman. There was a small, almost imperceptible pause and then a surprise question, "are you the she-bot or the man-bot?" Perhaps he didn't say bot, sometimes he's hard to understand, but regardless the words the implication was obvious. He wanted to know which of us "wore the pants in the family" so to speak. I politely informed him that it really doesn't work that way and strode out into the morning fog with a smile on my face.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Thoughts on the Meaning of Life

I often ponder what the meaning of life is. I wonder why we're all here, what we're supposed to accomplish or experience and probably more importantly, what is my place in all of it. I think this question has come up more often lately because of an AMC television series called Breaking Bad. It's an absolutely brutal show about an older chemistry teacher that turns to making drugs to support his family as he is dying from cancer. The show explores the incredibly difficult choices that our "hero" has to make, some inherent to morals, family, some to right and wrong and how one lie begets another and another and another.

One particular episode has sat with me for quite some time. It was when our co-star turns to heroine. And yes, I realize its just a television show and not reality, but when the character shot heroine into his arm he seemed so at peace. If someone who does heroine all day is rich, doesn't hurt anyone but themselves, why is that wrong? What is better a wall street capitalist making $ 100 million a year or a heroine drug user, also wealthy but equally as happy? Is following your bliss what it's all about? Does it matter what your bliss is? I suppose if my bliss were being a serial killer, then that would be wrong but if my bliss was ice fishing and drinking beer until the ice thawed every year who would that hurt? Would that be wrong?

Lots of ideas come into my head about why I'm here, well, why we're all here really. Love, friendship, happiness, "the journey not the destination", "doing unto others as they would do unto us", and the list goes on. None really ring true to me though. Is it the experience? Is it just us, a being meant to learn lessons before ascending heaven? Or are we these beings floating around in the fifth dimension meant to exist through different experiences expanding the collective consciousness of all? I met a guy that believed that recently. He was brilliant. He meditated himself into that collective consciousness when doing research and the answers would just come to him.

Sorry, this blog offers no answers, only questions. Answers are welcomed in the form of a comment, feel free.

Prom Queen?

We, as in the collective that is California's melting pot, can't seem to manage to vote Same Sex Marriage in as a right but they can seem to vote a guy in as Prom Queen. Fairfax High School in Los Angeles voted in a male as prom queen. Check out the article here