Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Caffeine Curve

Hello Boss, I'm working my butt off now that I am freaking-out-of-my-mind-hopped-up on caffeine!

The coffee reminded me of this piece of art I picked up a long time ago. I know, it's just a mug, but a real artist made it--Tom Scott Edwards. I've never used it as a mug, it is just on my knick-knack shelf. Just get outta my way at 5PM!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tijuana Dogs---Alive and Well in Torrance!

We went over to the Torrance Antique Street Faire this morning. I was hoping to get some little doo-dads that could be used for the last few plants I need to "containerize" in the rock garden. I did see a few good pieces, but I wasn't up for spending $15-25. I need CHEAP.
We had a good time checking out all the "treasures"....even though it was like A THOUSAND degrees at 10AM (yikes!). Dale picked up a cool 1950's booklet about Death Valley and I got some "blog fodder" (stay tuned!).
The BEST thing of the morning was that one of the food vendors was selling Tijuana Dogs! yahoo! Well, OF COURSE we had to have one. Oh man, they were good. Perfectly cooked, with nice crispy bacon wrapped around and some awesome grilled onions on top.
So I asked the nice lady what was up with the TJ Dog crackdown and she said it had to do with the all-in-one carts that the corner vendors use. Her cart was quite elaborate and even had a sink. The actual grilling was done on a side table on a propane camp grill. That's probably why the guy at the farmer's market is OK too.
Sorry about the half-eaten photo.....I was REALLY hungry and excited and sort of spaced on taking the photo until it was almost too late!

Rock Garden is Done! Yay!

At long last, the rock garden is complete. I think I started stacking the rocks last summer and planted a few things in the fall. Not much production happened during the winter. The plants did great though and really blossomed early this spring. Last weekend, I put in the last of the plants and this morning I put down the last of the gravel. The only thing left to do is make a cover for the sprinkler risers. I'll make that out of the redwood lattice.
The rock garden began as a way to incorporate some of the rocks we inherited with the house. The stones are actually Palos Verdes Limestone, which is quarried locally and is a popular building material.

I have a combination of "nook-and-cranny" succulents and potted cacti. I wanted to use unconventional items as "pots" and I also used found objects to create some visual excitement.

These cacti are from the cactus sale I went to at the South Coast Arboretum a few weeks ago. The guy there told me these can grow pretty tall....in 30 years!

The plastic figures are things I found in the garden when I was digging up the dirt. We have discovered many "artifacts" from previous owners that we try to reuse in various ways.

This cricket was originally intended as a candle holder.

I got this cool old toy fire engine at a garage sale. The geraniums kind of went nuts over the spring, I think I will be cutting them back a bit.

The is the full view of the garden. Ultimately, I would like to get one or two brightly colored bowling balls to place on the gravel.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

OK, I KNOW I Promised.....

But this was just TOO hard to pass up. Oh man, people have read SO much into this interview. All's I got to say is: "Brett, DON'T FUCK WITH US".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

So yeah, I have a few guilty pleasures. One of those is "Ugly Betty", which airs on ABC on Thursday nights.
Actually I don't think it is so much of a guilty pleasure, in that I'm not embarrassed that I watch it. It is more like a "If you knew me, you would be very surprised that I like this show".
First, I'm not much of a tee-vee watcher. Sunday night Fox "Animation Domination" (except "American Dad"..which sucks IMHO), Big Joe and the Packer game is about it for me anymore. The only other show I watch regularly is "Rescue Me". I've lost all interest in the Food Network and HGTV. So, for me to be interested in watching something regularly is pretty out of the ordinary.
The other thing that is sort of incongruous is that I'm about the least fashionable and fashion-oriented person around--and the setting of the show is in the fashion world of New York City.
So why do I watch? The first few times I watched (I started in season2) I was drawn in by the over-the-top plot lines and situations. It really IS a soap opera, but way funny. Back-stabbers, murderous plotting, and petty jealousies abound. But what I liked most of all was the unbelievable optimism and sunny personality of Betty. No matter what crap happens to her, Betty always finds the silver lining. The same reason why I dig SpongeBob too.
Last night was the first show of the new season. I think they had two shows in the can already when the writer's strike shortened last season. So it's been a LONG wait. But well worth it.
One thing that helps me ascertain the cool factor of the show is the fact that none other than Brave Combo has had a song featured in an episode. (Feliz Navidad episode of last season)
Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Torrance City Council Candidate Forum

HellCat wishes he could vote.

Torrance will be electing four council members on June 3. Last night was the Candidate Forum sponsored by Old Torrance Neighborhood Association, of which I am a member.
Twelve of the 14 stated candidates attended. (I guess Harold and Kumar were too busy with their movie opening tomorrow to attend.) The slate is made up of some new faces, some old faces, faces from different places, and a couple of has-beens.
The moderator asked the candidates questions that had been submitted by the audience. Some questions were answered by all panelists, some were given to only two. The topics were the usual: traffic, housing density, school funding, infrastructure.
Most everyone was pretty sharp and had good answers, but who knows how much of it is just hot air. Many of the candidates have served in various civic roles already and are quite experienced.
One good thing I noticed was that I don't think this election will have the drama we had in 2006. Maybe a little, but not like we had then.
I was interested in more than four of the candidates, so I guess I'll have to do a little more research or go to another forum.

Here is a list of the candidates.

This is a list of some upcoming forums. Do your civic duty and check them out!

No reason for the awesome photo of HellCat.....I just needed something to put there. Isn't he a magnificent beast? Maybe HE should run for council....I would vote for him!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Signs of Spring

Spring is definitely here. It is actually light by the time I get to work.
One of the freakiest sign of spring is the return of the ducks to the parking lot at work. Every spring for at least the last seven years these ducks turn up. The first few years there were three--two males and a female. Now it's just a male/female pair. When they first came by, they actually stuck around for a week or so. I was feeding them Cheerios from my breakfast stash. I'm not entirely sure if these are the same ducks year after year, but it sure is weird that only these few do stop in our parking lot.

The other sure sign of spring is the return of our paleta guy. About the beginning of November he goes "away"--where to, I don't know. A couple of weeks ago, I jumped for joy when I heard the tinkling of the cart's bells. I grabbed this photo off Google.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Iggy Pop!

The second-best thing to come out of Ann Arbor!

61 years old...who woulda thought he would make it this long?

It is amazing...he looks like shrivelled-up skeleton....until he smiles. He's got this gorgeous mega-watt smile that is just incredible.

I've seen him perform a few times now... puts people half his age to shame!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lucky Day with Memories

One of the "projects" that I run in background mode is the upgrade and beautification of my desk area. Things go pretty slowly sometimes, it seems that I never can get the money and the time together at the SAME time! But, things are on the final push and coming together. Once it is done, I will post it in all its glory.
I was just going through a box o' stuff I had under my desk. Trying to sort out trash from treasure. Most of the things in the box were old greeting cards that I have received over the years. I have a hard time throwing those things away, so I mostly just bundle them up and stick them in a box and forget about them.
Since I was on a roll, I was really strict with myself and didn't sit there and read through them like I wanted to. Except for one. And I have NO idea why I chose this one--the envelope was plain, none of Dad's "birthday artwork" on the outside, nothing that said.. "look in here".
It was a cute Valentine's card from Mom and Dad.......WITH FIFTY BUCKS IN IT! YESSSS!!!!
The envelope was postmarked in 2000...I must have been pretty flush then to not have that burning a hole in my pocket.

I got the "card-saving" gene from my mom. My sister and I were cleaning out Mom's room after she passed away in 2005. We discovered she never threw out any greeting cards. Of course there were the cards from us kids--you would expect a Mom to keep those, but there were even cards from their first Christmas after getting married. So, now we have 5 boxes of greeting cards to look at. Tonight, I'm going to look through my little stack of cards. Maybe there might be more $$, but even better than that, I'll be reading all the loving notes my Mom and Dad sent along with their cards.

UPDATE: Looking through the cards was a bittersweet trip down memory lane. Lots of warm wishes and love. A check for 100$.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Time Travel--With Music

Last week we went to see the X, the quintessential Los Angeles punk band. They were back "home", playing two nights at the Music Box as part of their "13-31 Anniversary" tour.
Wow! What a great show. For this tour, it was the original line-up of John and Exene, Billy and D.J. The "13-31" comes from this is their 31st anniversary (duh) and 13 is a number that plays into many of their songs. They didn't tour for the 30th because John was busy promoting his latest release. Hey, anytime I get to see these guys is OK with me.
And it seemed OK with all the fans that showed up on the two (probably) sold-out nights.
I wasn't the only one there with grey hairs, that's for sure. I'm going to say that at least 75% of the audience was "of a certain age": those that had originally gone to X's shows at the Masque and all those other cool old places. Many of these people are now parents who brought their "children" to see the show. I only saw a couple really young kids, like 10 or younger...most were teens and young adults. Dale's older daughter (almost 21!) was with us. We had taken both his kids to see X a few years ago and totally blown away, they said, "OK, now I GET it." Meaning..."now we know why you are so insane about your music..we always thought you were just weird".
The show was really tight, not too much chit-chat between songs. John did exhort us to all get out and vote before they launched into "New World". It's amazing, if that song came out tomorrow, it would have the same impact. Hell, if ANY of their songs came out tomorrow, they would still be fresh as day 1.
Exene looks like the evil haus-frau with her apron and cowboy boots; John still has the choir-boy-gone-astray look, Billy Zoom looks the same as he did 31 years ago (God, that guy can play!); and D.J. Bonebrake is now follically-challenged, but keeps the beat perfectly. We had seen another of D.J.'s bands, "Orchestra Superstring", open for Brave Combo last August.
For the first encore, Exene and John came out and played an acoustic number, "See How We Are", which totally blew everyone away. Here's a set list that I swiped from The News Tribune of Tacoma. I'm pretty sure the show I saw was the same.

I only wish I had seen them play back in the day. I first got here in late 1980. By then, the punk scene had already veered off into a more violent direction, one that was well documented (and probably exaggerated) by the media. So, being the cautious hick from Wisconsin, I just bought the albums and got to read about it in the LA Weekly. Dale got to go to the shows and said that John and Exene even came to a Felton party.

If you'd like to learn more about the early LosAngeles punk scene, this is a wonderful book--check it out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Maybe It's Just Me...

...but would YOU have confidence in this guy to lead your team? I know, I know....don't judge a book by the cover, it's the off-season, blah, blah, blah....but seriously... look at this picture. Maybe if I was in the market to buy some drugs or wanted a web page designed, this might be the guy I would look for. But an NFL QB? For the Packers? I'm just sayin'...
I'm going to overlook the surfer-dude looks and still keep my mind open until I see him in action.
So anyway, the Packers' season schedule was announced today. Only one game in CA, and that's a preseason against the Niners. Other than that, the closest game would be Seattle. Which is cool, cuz I like Seattle. And I can pretend that I'm visiting from Wisconsin, so I don't get any attitude from the locals.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Only a Flesh Wound....

Dale was out giving the squirrel a high-colonic with the hose and the next thing I heard was a *thunk* and then a string of expletives. He banged his head on one of the low branches of the avocado tree!

CSI photo of the offending branch.

Oh, in case you are wondering, Dale is fine....he said that ice cream cures all things.

Oh yeah.....

.....did I mention that IT'S REALLY EFFIN' HOT?!?!?

too hot to do yard work, too hot to fold the clothes, too hot even to type a decent post (and I have a couple in the pipeline!).... but not too hot to squirt the evil squirrel with the hose.

good thing all that global warming stuff is just lies and faulty science, huh?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mothra Destroys Torrance!

Not only was there a spider in the bathtub this morning (Safely "Gandhi'd" to the patio), but this giant moth was on my front door screen. WOW! This is the kind of moth you see in the northwoods of Wisconsin or something.
Beautiful, but sort of creepy at the same time. Hopefully it is not some sort of alien insect that's going to kill my avocado tree.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Les Candy Raisins est arrivé!

Manna came down from the skies this afternoon. Well, really it was a box that came from the UPS truck. But what was inside the box was pure heaven, that's for sure!
Because of all the excitement about the possible discontinuation of Candy Raisins, I decided to order some before it was too late. And some licorice snaps too. Funny, when you are sitting at the computer and placing the order, 7 pounds is pretty much an abstract number. Once a big-ass box full of SEVEN POUNDS OF CANDY lands on your desk, reality starts to kick in. WTF am I going to do with all this candy!??!?
After my initial shock, I popped one of the candy raisins in my mouth.....mmmmmm.... just as good as I remembered. That weird perfumey flavor. So nice and fresh and soft. I ate about 10 pieces and I was done. I passed the bag around for my co-workers to try. One guy said he'd had them before. Later on at home, Dale ate a few and he too said he'd had them.
So now I have only 6.5 pounds of candy to deal with.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Music for Nerds

A little follow-up to my recent post about nerd humor. I just came across this video of a song that I always had a special fondness for. When I first heard it, way back when, I couldn't believe it that someone wrote a song about making circuits. Be forewarned....its from 1982 and haridos were .....ummmmm ..... "different" then!
The Polecats "Make A Circuit With Me"

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Audio Life

I like music. I really do. I LOVE live music. The fact that someone is playing for ME is so very cool. I'll go see the middle school marimba band and I'll go to the Hollywood Bowl. It don't matter. Well, maybe not contemporary country music. Or hateful, misogynous rap. Other than that....
Dale and I first bonded over mutual musical interests. He's a musician and I think he has a pretty impeccable musical ear and an eclectic taste. He's always coming up with some "gem" for my musical edification. I wish he was a little more accepting of my techno/sampling/electronic bent, but that's a can of worms we aren't going to open up here.
With that all being said....here is a LINK to his latest podcast.
Pretty much, this is what it sounds like at my house. Unless the train is passing by.
Oh yeah, we hate squirrels. I think I may have mentioned that before?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Heart Nerds!

In the course of my day-to-day work activities, I sometimes have to do a little research on the various components that make up the boards I design. What I am usually looking for are the dimensions of the component. All the companies that manufacture parts have websites where I can search for this information. As you can imagine, the information on these sites can get pretty technical. Most of it I have no clue on what it means--all I need to know is the size.
The other day I was doing one of my usual searches and I came across this little drawing at the end of a multi-page "ap note". (An Application Note is where the REAL hard-core technical stuff is...all research-y and lots of formulas like on the mad scienist's blackboard).

WOW! Nerd Humor! I was laughing so hard when I saw this because it is SO true. I have been around engineer types my whole adult working career (well, except for the restaurant part). Engineers are a special breed--especially the electrical ones. They are just processing at a level us "normals" can only dream of. And most of them are pretty funny too, sometimes in a weird way, but nonetheless funny.
So I went back through this list of ap notes (there were a hundred or so) and randomly selected some. All of the ones written by this guy Jim Williams not only had the little drawings at the end, but usually were prefaced with a funny anectdote of how this circuit or research came into being. Some were really funny stories...like how his six-week sabbatical turned into an unplanned circuit designing binge.
Here are a few drawings to share:

"Methinks the load doth protest too much"

"Speak softly and carry a big PNP" (a PNP is a type of transistor)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My New Comfort Food

OMG. This is the simplest, tastiest thing I have made in a long time. It is sooooo ONO!
Last week I was searching Epicurious for something to do with the leftover lamb I bought for Easter. There are only the two of us and the smallest leg was like 4 pounds, so after boning it out and butterflying it, I just portioned out about a pound for another meal later in the week.
This is take on the lettuce wrap thing made popular at Chinois.
Last week I made it with the lamb (that I ground in the Cuisinart) and the only things I did differently was to add a few shakes of chile flakes with the garlic and ginger and I served it over brown rice. The lettuce thing is so tedious.
I liked it so much that I made it again tonight, this time using ground chicken and adding some carrot julienne.
And there was some left over so I can have it for lunch tomorrow! Yay!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's

In France, people eat chocolate fish on April first. Sounds a lot better than getting a message to call Mr. Fox. Or having your slippers nailed to the floor.