30.Nov.2004 - For those of you who live in SoCal, this Friday (03.December) is Hospitality Night here in Laguna Beach, when Santa rides into town on a shiny, red fire engine. The kids love it. All in-town parking will be blocked off beginning around 4PM. Things get underway ~six. Store stay open until nine. It's such a popular event (a madhouse) that some call it Hostility Night.
In town, the Christmas lights are up. Laguna does a great job of decorating each year. Very tasteful: what you might expect from a community that began with artists. Maybe we'll see you there. Oh, and don't forget, this Thursday (02.December) is the Art Walk.
28.Nov.2004 - Just returned from a few days at Two Bunch Palms, a "natural hot springs resort & spa" located in Desert Hot Springs, not far from Palm Springs. The question everybody always asks about Two Bunch is, "What do you do there?" The invariable answer: "Nothing." =)
Rest & relaxation. I try to go once a year (whether needed or not). It was a year ago (to the day) since my last visit (which I mentioned in the blog posted here: Steppenwolf visits Two Bunch). This year however, we had a full moon to soak under.
It used to be difficult for me to relax like this, left with nothing but my thoughts. The idea of doing nothing but resting & soaking for three or four consecutive days used to terrify me. I've since gotten over that, but still know friends who need to stay busy, busy, busy. Years of the "go-go" mentality can make it difficult to stop & unwind.
I bring 3 inflatable neck-pillows with me, and use them as floatation devices: one under each knee, the third behind my neck. This allows you to float in the hot springs, which has to be closest thing there is to being back in the womb .. staring up at the stars, thru the mist rising off the warm water .. with desert white owls flying between the tall palms, swaying in the breeze overhead.
Ate Thanksgiving dinner there. Free-range turkey with all the trimmings (served by Rick, the Two Bunch fixture who says the line, "Right away Mr. M." in the movie The Player).
Most people wear swimsuits in the water, but at night, some go au naturel. There were more naked girls there this time .. not that I'm complainin'. It'll take a few days to get my stress level back up to N-O-P (normal operating pressure).
23.Nov.2004 - I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I'd also like to acknowledge the sacrifice our troops are making in both Iraq & Afghanistan, where they live daily in harm's way, and will be unable to spend the holiday with loved loves. That's gotta suk. Anyway, drive safely & I'll catch you on the flip-side.
22.Nov.2004 - Saw Ray yesterday. Hadn't planned on it. Was driving by the theater & decided to stop & see what was playing. A spur-of-the-moment thing. Ray was the only show starting at the time we arrived. I was surprised to see the theater packed for a Sunday matinee.
Excellent film. Well made. I feel comfortable putting it on my official Recommended list. Longer than most movies: 2½ hours, but it never dragged. From the opening scene, it started strong and held my attention 'til the very end. It moved along with no noticeable dead spots.
After the movie was over, as the credits started rolling, I overheard one of the girls sitting behind us say, "That was *so* good." I could tell from the way she emphasized the word 'so' that she felt the same way we did.
The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Ray
21.Nov.2004 - Today I have a favorite recipe for you: Rad Oatmeal. Ingredients (I get everything at Trader Joes, the one on Newport Coast, across from Crystal Cove):
• McCann's steel-cut Irish oats (not the krappy instant kind)
• walnuts (handful) add a crunchy texture
• maple syrup (the real stuff, not the flavored corn syrup like my mom used to buy) sweeten to taste
• apple sauce (unsweetened is better) several spoonfuls, your daily serving of fruit
• cinnamon (dash or two)
• vanilla (secret ingredient) capful or so. (Lani, the queen of all french toast, taught me this trick.)
• If you have some dates handy, chop up a couple and throw them in, too
Tastes great and is sure to keep you regular. Takes about 20-30 mins to cook. You gotta keep an eye it, so it doesn't boil over or burn after all the water is absorbed. Boil the water first (4 parts water to 1 part oats), then add the oats and cook them by themselves. After oats are done cooking, or almost done, add the rest of the goodies and have at it.
I have a rather limited culinary repertoire, but the things I *do* make are pretty tasty (years of trial & error). You can eat this stuff every day. I'm having a bowl right now. It's better if you under-cook the oats slightly, so they're a little crunchier & nuttier, rather than mushier. Adding a little extra oats (or less water) will do this.
20.Nov.2004 - Big fight tonight on HBO (not pay-per-view): Winky Wright vs Shane Mosley II. Winky is a 2-to-1 favorite. Should be a decent fight. Their first meeting was back in March. Winky won. Surprised a lot of people. Both classy fighters. Gonna get me some pizza for that.
19.Nov.2004 - Rolling Stone magazine voted Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone the Greatest Song of all Time. You think the song's title, being so similar to name of the magazine, might've had anything to do with their selection? They deny any subliminal bias.
I went thru a Dylan phase back in my rebellious youth. I like that tune. Heck, I know every word by heart. ("When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.") Who doesn't have a snooty old love they'd like to ask that famous question, "How does it feel?" [To be on your own, With no direction home, Like a complete unknown, Like a rolling stone?]
It was the first song that broke the iron law that a hit single should not run more than 3 minutes. Dylan shattered that by making "Like a Rolling Stone" 6 minutes. The magazine editors had this to say about their top selection:
The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" voted Greatest Song of All Time
18.Nov.2004 - Several months ago, my buddy Battman sold all his earthly possessions and set out to travel the world. Today I received his second "World Tour" update, which I posted in the blog here: Battman's World Tour Update #2. I'll try to dig up his first update and post that also. He's working his way thru Europe right now.
Some readers confuse Battman with The Dog. They are not the same. The Dog is living back in New York now (he prefers NYC to Hollywood, where he used to live), altho he was out here on the Left Coast for a quickie biz-trip just last week.
He drove down from LA. We met in town for some Thai food (he's a vegan), and then he drove back, flying out the next day. Wham, bamm, later, man. Always good to see The Dog. He's one of those people (unlike me) that everybody likes.
17.Nov.2004 - It concerns me that our President tapped Condi Rice for Secretary of State. She was head of National Security when our nation suffered its biggest national security failure in history. That would be like promoting the reactor operator who was in charge of Three Mile Island when it melted down.
Maybe it's her incompetence that concerns me. She was the one who was supposed to verify the rumors of WMDs in Iraq: the nonexistent basis for our attack of a nation that never attacked us. Another big screw-up. I guess performance (competence) doesn't matter to the President. Incompetence has always bugged me.
Apparently, all you have to do to get promoted is smile and say, "I agree with the President." Above all, don't question his judgment. He abhors dissent. Anyone see the danger in that?
It's a case of the blind leading the blind. So no one should be surprised to see the nation has fallen into a ditch ... a deadly, disgraceful and extremely expensive ditch, which is beginning to resemble a bottomless pit.
15.Nov.2004 - Not sure why this intrigues me, but you can see live streaming video from Times Square. (Might need to install Java first.) The site's home page is here. Every once in a while, I look for the Dog. His office is nearby.
Many web-cams exit, such as the TommyCam up at USC, aimed at Tommy Trojan, the school mascot, or the one here in Laguna, which update every few seconds, but the notion of live streaming video is different. Makes the world seem smaller. I would like to see a live stream from the helmet-cam of one of those soldiers fighting in Fallujah.
13.Nov.2004 - Raxco just released version 7.0 of their defragger: PerfectDisk. I've been using it since v6 and like it better than my previous favorite: Diskeeper, which had a conflict with ZoneAlarm. No such problems with PerfectDisk (I run Windows XP Pro SP2).
It actually rearranges the files on your disk in order of usage patterns (rarely, occasionally, frequently, directory, boot, etc.), not just defrag them like Diskeeper does.
Version 7 comes with a new XP-like interface. Raxco claims PerfectDisk is the "only defragmenter certified by Microsoft for Windows Server® 2003 and Windows 2000 Server", altho I only know a handful of people who use Server to run their desktop PC. Worth downloading the 30-day trial demo. They'll want some info first.
08.Nov.2004 - Saw The Incredibles last night (trailers). An animation about a family of superheros who come out of retirement to save the world. I like trying to guess the names of the actors behind the voices (such as Samuel L. Jackson).
It was highly rated, but I came away disappointed. I think I'm the only one who wasn't feeling it, or maybe my expectations were set too high.
The Incredibles is made by the same people who made Finding Nemo, which I loved. Saw it on the big screen at the Big Newport. It was so loud my ears are still ringing. It wasn't bad. I laughed a few times. Just wasn't what I expected.
The animation I'm really looking forward to is the Polar Express (trailer), based on the 1986 book, and directed by Rober Zemeckis (who also directed Forrest Gump and graduated from USC Film school). It's supposed to use ground-breaking technology (which always interests me).
Digital projection (available at the Spectrum) will be the way to see this flick. An IMAX version is also slated, but I still think DP will look better (just not as big as IMAX). Stars Tom Hanks. Opens this week. All aboard. Choo-choo. Maybe Nick will go with me.
07.Nov.2004 - A couple of months ago, I traded in my old 19-inch CRT (Iiyama Vision Master Pro 450, 90-Hz refresh) for a new 17-inch LCD monitor (NEC/Mitsubishi 1760NX) .. because I was having trouble with my eyes.
Well, I'm reporting that I've noticed a definite improvement. While I still get eye fatigue occasionally, I no longer get that feeling like somebody rubbed my eyes with sandpaper, like I used to get with my CRT. (No, I don't wear glasses or contact lenses. Perfect vision.)
So, yes, there is something soothing about an LCD compared to a CRT (same gfx card for both: Radeon). And based on these past 2 months, I feel I made a wise choice. I also feel the 17-inch is plenty big for an LCD. Not sure a 19-incher would be better. FYI.
05.Nov.2004 - Here's something that cheered me up: #1 spammer gets the slammer.
In addition to email-spam, I also had big trouble with blog-spammers, so much so that I had to install MT-Blacklist. But even that wasn't enough. So, more recently, I also installed MT-Close, which closes comments on old entries.
Blogs have become a phenomena of sorts. I think this is because they have therapeutic value, kinda like going to church and confessing your sins. At least for me. I was doing it (blogging, that is) even before I knew anyone had given it a name, and long before I learned software existed specifically for the purpose. But (until recently) the spamming has been very frustrating (mostly casinos & pharmaceuticals), and difficult to combat.
They should put that spammer in the same cell with Tyrone, who I'm sure can teach that boy a thing or two about the offensive nature of unwanted solicitations.
04.Nov.2004 - Yesterday's exit polls revealed the #1 reason people stated for voting was "moral issues", and that 80% of these people voted for President Bush/Dick Cheney. Some thoughts on that curiosity are blogged here: Bush/Cheney & Moral Issues.
03.Nov.2004 - Weeping & gnashing of teeth. As mentioned yesterday, this is the first time I've voted for a president who lost. As everyone expected, it was close, (elected by the narrowist margin for a sitting president since 1916), but now I got a bad case of the blue-state blues. This election has given new meaning to the phrase shock & awe.
First off, I don't feel comfortable with electronic voting machines. Anyone who knows anything about hacking, knows they can be programmed to generate any results you want. No verifiable paper-trail exists. And the code is secret. What kind of krap is that?
The remainder of today's entry is blogged here:> Bush Re-elected: Blue-state Blues.
02.Nov.2004 - I voted. This election has the feeling of a heavyweight title fight. Everyone agrees the lines today are much longer than they were 4 years ago. I've never voted for a president who lost. Later tonight, we'll see if my record for choosing the winner remains intact.
Everything went smoothly. I waited in line for 30-45 minutes, in the hot sun. A few people waited in the shade, and asked others to save their spot for them. I actually got a little sunburn, waiting in line.
There were ~25-30 people in line ahead of me when I got there (lunchtime), and the line quickly doubled soon after I arrived. My station had 6 polling machines. People in line seemed ticked that GWB "won" the last election in the courts with a minority of the popular vote, then acted as if he had been given a mandate. One guy smelled like he'd been smoking pot (and would not shut up).
I've heard rumors of leaked exit polls in Florida and Ohio that revealed an advantage for Kerry, but not sure how reliable this info is. I would drop you a few links, but all the political blogs (such as wonkette & instapundit) have crashed due to heavy traffic.
In many states, such as here in California, which strongly favors carry Kerry, my vote isn't likekly to make a big difference. Unlike states such as Florida or Ohio, which might go either way, all of California's 55 electoral votes will go to Kerry, whether I vote or not. So my vote is simply designed to send a message.
01.Nov.2004 - Tomorrow is the big day. Kinda exciting, but scary. Buddy for President!