Friday, December 31, 2004

Martian marathon reaches one-year mark

MSNBC.COM -- This is a cool interview with Steve Squyres who's in charge of the Mars Rover mission... on Monday, Spirit, the first of the two rovers to touch-down on Mars will have been there for a full (Earth) year of a 90 (Mars) day mission. (A Mars day is roughly 24 hours and 37 minutes long.) He talks about the NOVA documentary that's been in the works since the beginning and how different the two rovers are, despite attempts to build them identically.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Bomb

I have a tough boss. Well, I have two bosses. One is easy-going and one is tough. The work I do for the easy-going boss is much more interesting and engaging, and the work I do for the tough boss isn't all that interesting. I've been slowly figuring out how to automated that job and delegate it to volunteers to where there isn't much of it to do. The problem is, there still is some thing I have to do myself. And while I'm somewhat of a creative guy, the job calls for subjective creativity. And my boss considers himself to be a much more creative guy. He uses a Mac, even.

But he's a tough guy to work for. He often brings his personal life to work with him and days like that you hope that there's a colleague who's better positioned to take the brunt of it. You feel for them, but you're thankful it's not you. But, sometimes it is you.

And then one day, I stopped caring. And suddenly, the job has gotten so much better, and my working relationship with my boss has improved so much. In the end, do I really care where the picture is placed or how big or small the picture is? Is that really being creative? No, not really. Do I take it personally when he wants the picture somewhere else, or resized? Should I feel personally criticized? I made a bad choice? I used to think so. I used to get so frustrated, that my input wasn't being valued and my abilities weren't being respected.

But on that one day, something happened. The scales fell from my eyes and suddenly it all became clear to me. I would never be respected for that job. I could work really hard and be disappointed when I was overruled. I could push back because in the end I knew that I knew better. And I could further incur his wrath. Worse yet, once he was on a roll, I could expect to get even more "notes" on things not even related to the current project. Change requests to things he had approved, or even come up with in the first place.

But in that bright and shining moment, I realized that none of it mattered. It was part weasel, part ephiphany. But if I didn't push back, I let him get his own way, and occasionally commented that his changes were a good idea, suddenly my day was no longer destined to be insufferable. I could affect change that benefitted all my colleagues. I could allow the man to feel like he was getting his way and making things happen.

Ah, it was a thing of beauty. Suddenly, I had a receptive ear to suggest new things, and was even able to push through some of my own initiatives and prove that I could handle the task and actually make his life easier.

Jeff Rowe would have been so proud of me. Jeff Rowe was a former boss. He taught me so much, but I was so young, so green that he must have often bit his tongue. The last time I talked to him was my last day at Warner Bros. I can't remember why, but for some reason, he called the day I got laid off. He was the one that encouraged me to end my career at UltimateTV, but thanks to his contacts, work we had done with Warner Bros. was what allowed me to jump there. Warner Bros. afforded me a great opportunity to manage people and I think I did a decent job there and I really miss managing a team. Part of my quick rise, though, didn't give me enough opportunities to be a grunt. I'm not thrilled being a grunt, but there are some great interpersonal skills to be learned there. Sometimes I feel it's more about learning to be a weasel and to stroke people's egos, but I figure as long as I keep a really strong work ethic -- work hard, put in an honest day's work, and try to do more than earn a paycheck, actually better the company I work for -- then sucking up, ego-stroking and not taking things personally can just become extra tools in my arsenal.

Jerry Orbach dies

Law & Order star and acclaimed Broadway actor Jerry Orbach passed away Tuesday.


Weather outside? Frightful. Inside? Delightful. Please don't think me a bore, but let it pour, let it pour, let it pour.

The wildest weather I've seen since moving to California, probably on par with some of the stuff from my days living in Washington. On the drive home last night, I've never appreciated more how much of my car is made up of glass. The light show was just awesome, the whole sky kept lighting up all around me while I was in Pasadena and as I made my way east, I could see the flashes behind me, including some just ripping across the clouds. Awesome. And then last night while we were sleeping, God just let loose the floodgates and it was so loud. At one point, simultaneously being forced against the south and west windows of the house by the wind. It seems calmer today which should be good for the commute, but this weather just rules. Because I have a nice warm dry home, nice warm dry car and nice warm dry office from which to witness it.

It sounds like seagulls have replaced wild parrots as neighborhood birds this morning. That must have been a lot of rain.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Additional Josey Notes

Josey Peterson's car accident was actually on May 8 and she fought the injuries in the hospital for three weeks, spending her 30th. birthday in the hospital. She fought her injuries for nearly three weeks. She died 14 days after her birthday and 14 days before Rachel was born.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Josey Peterson (May 12, 1974-May 28, 2004)


This song has always made me think of you. Perhaps it because I knew you at the time this song was on the radio often. Tonight I feel nothing but sadness. This is what I get for trying to look up old friends on the internet.

The Outfield - (I don't want to lose) Your Love

Josie's on a vacation far away
Come around and talk it over
So many things that I'd like to say
You know I like my girls a little bit older
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don't wanna lose your love tonight

I ain't got many friends left to talk to
No-one's around when I'm in trouble
You know I'd do anything for you
Stay the night - we'll keep it under cover
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don't wanna lose your love tonight

Try to stop my hands from shakin'
Somethin' in my mind's not makin' sense
It's been awhile since we've been all alone
I can't hide the way I'm feelin'

As you leave me please would you close the door
And forget what I told you
Just 'cause you're right - that don't mean I'm wrong
Another shoulder to cry upon
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don't wanna lose your love tonight


I just wanna use your love tonight
I don't wanna lose your love tonight
I just wanna use your love tonight
I don't wanna lose your love tonight

Lose your love
Lose your love
Lose your love

Friday, December 17, 2004

Rose City Diner, Arcadia: Underwhelming

If you are wishing for the good ol' days, the Arcadia Westfield Shoppingtown has really got you covered with two different options for your golden oldies dining. They have the predictable, consistent Johnny Rockets (always a fave) and another, the Rose City Diner. There used to be a Rose City Diner in Old Town Pasadena long before I moved to the area, I don't know what the connection is between these two.

Anyhow, tonight we decided to go to the Rose City Diner for dinner. They placed at a gigantic booth that would sit 3-4 people on each bench. The stroller had to park at the end of the table which seemed to impede the flow of the busboys and waiters. Not sure why they didn't just seat us at one of the smaller free-standing tables in the front of the restaurant.

The service was good. A guy would take our orders, or take our empty glasses and a girl would come back with the food or drink refills. Both were very pleasant and polite and checked up with us at just the right intervals.

We started with a lemonade, a vanilla cola (not a brand name beverage) and chilli cheese fries. The fries were interesting to say the least. They were $6.99 and the chilli had beans and peppers and big chunks of hamburger. It might have made for an interesting chilli, but I'm not a big bean fan and we both really like the ccf's at Johnny Rockets, so these were a bit of a let-down. I requested some ranch and ate some of the fries with ranch and ketchup. But we still ended up leaving probably close to half of them on the plate when we were done.

The vanilla cola was $2.50 and served in a large glass. The first sip with the straw was straight vanilla syrup. I tried to drink from the top but it was the non-brand-name dark cola. So I eventually resorted to raising the straw as I sipped, to get some syrup and some cola. Stirring did not help. I do not believe refills were available on the vanilla soda. Based on that and the inconvenient way I had to drink it, it did last my entire meal.

For dinner, Lori had a hamburger with bacon and an onion ring. The burger was served open-faced with an onion ring that resembled the volcanoes they used to make at Benihana... that is to say that it was really tall and she had to mash it down before she could close the burger. She ate much of it. I think she liked it, but she was getting full and wanted to make it look like we had eaten more of the chili cheese fries, so near the end she switched her attention back to that plate to pull out fries to eat with ketchup.

I had the Reuben. It came with a decent quarter pickle and some pretty decent coleslaw. The corned beef was good and they really piled it on thick. Most of the toasted bread stayed crispy, only a little was soggy at the end. The sauerkraut was also good, tasty but not overpowering. What prevented it from being a great sandwich was the almost non-existent thousand island dressing. I could see that it was there from the color, but it was used too sparingly in my opinion to the point that you couldn't always taste it. The other thing that kept it from being a great sandwich is that it cost $7.50. I ate all but the soggy bread at the end, eating the last of the meat with a fork.

The decor also seemed unimpressive for being part of the mall's new expansion. I think they were going for retro, but it just felt less inspired and flimsier than the Fry's that has the alien invasion theme. A weird touch, there were lots of those long toothpicks with the plastic colored strips at the end, the kind that come in your sandwich, stuck in the ceiling. But the ceiling was so high away that they were either done with a dart gun of some sort, or a ladder. The music was a broader mix then you'd find at Johnny Rockets, and a little bit quieter, but the balance was all wrong, it was overly bass-y, so even though the speakers were farther away in the high ceiling and it felt quieter, I had trouble hearing Lori and had to keep asking her to repeat stuff across the table to me. The tables all had the same mini-jukeboxes as Johnny Rockets.

Their menu has a wide variety, including a big breakfast selection, which is available any time. They also had some old fashioned shakes that sounded good but I passed on because of my pseudo-diet and the prohibitive price-tag.

So for two burgers, two drinks, chili cheese fries, tax and tip, they had us on the hook for more than $17/person. If I want to spend that much, I'll go some place with much better food like Hamburger Hamlet. And if want 50's kitsch and that kind of food, I'll go about seven doors down in the mall to Johnny Rockets.

Unless there's something about them that I missed, I give them eight months.

Fun fact... they have a $35 burger -- over 3 pounds of meat. Comes with unlimited drinks. Menu says it feeds six or one really big person.

Hooray, the DSL still works

One of the things that came with this house, we learned later, was a very large, very dead tree in the back yard. The neighbors have so many overgrown trees that they kind of swallowed up the branches to ours and led us to believe that our tree was not dead. But, our tree was, in fact, quite dead. The tree was no more. It had passed on, it had ceased to be.

Anything except an eyesore that would cost $700+ to have removed. Tonight when we came home, the Christmas lights I had hung to the underside of the carport were not lit. Odd, I thought. But I didn't think too much because the timer on those lights is powered by an AAA and only works for a few months at a time before there's no power left.

But Lori got out and went over and picked up a black cord hanging loose and stared at it trying to figure out where it should have been plugged in. Nevermind that, I said, trying to draw her attention to the house-colored cord that was draped from the house, over a fence and extended past the garage into the back yard. Having just seen a semi-bad original movie where a guy with an electric(!) snowblower plugs into his neighbor's Christmas lights for power, I thought someone had plugged into our power.

And then I realized what it was... it was the phone line into the house from the pole, rounding the garage, we could see it running along the ground. So we hit the lights on the garage and saw that a humongous piece of the tree had broken free and pulled the phone cord down with it. Thankfully, the dog had been inside for the past few hours while we were out having dinner. We pulled the phone cord from under the tree and threw it up onto the roof -- so we could let the dog out without her eating the phone cord -- and that was that.

Big chunk of the tree down means it will cost less to have the rest of it removed and now I know that there isn't a specific way to how the phone cord is attached to the pole and I can finally get it moved over towards the garage and finally have a back yard with no wires above.

Poverty in Mexico

I read an article that briefly noted that half of Mexico's population of 104 million lives in poverty. Yes, it was tech article and so it also noted that about half a million people have high-speed internet connections.

But I was thinking... I know we have our own problems here in the United States, but how is it possible that 52 million people live in poverty in Mexico? That seems like a rather large number. I'll admit right away that I know very little about Mexico, knowing mostly only what I see from pictures and video taken by friends who have gone to Mexico to build houses and what I've seen from Mexican TV as I've flipped past.

It seems like there's a very willing workforce (many risk their lives to travel illegally to this country for work), lots of land (slightly less than 3 times the size of Texas) and what seems like a pretty nice climate. Texas has 22 million residents so 3 times that would be 66 million. So I guess there is actually a lot more people per square mile on average in Mexico.

Since I started writing this, I have learned more from the CIA Fact Book (should be a link from the title above). Maybe change is in the wind, but is taking a long time. Vicente Fox was the first person elected that didn't belong to the political party that has controlled the government since the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

So maybe it's more about patience, maybe change is underway. I hope that's the case. (Yeah, little old imperial me trying to figure out what's best for some other country.)

Ok, so this post ended up going somewhere completely different than where I expected. But at least I learned something.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

So this is what it's like...

It's anarchy around here... the baby's got double ear-infections and is just coming off of a cold. But, the fever was too high for her to be in school today. On top of that, Lori and I are not on our game, we're both sick too. I don't think I've ever been sick for this long at one time before. Between my OCD, my germ phobia and what my mom refers to as a "charmed life," I've not had too many colds and rarely have they lasted for any length of time. But it's anarchy around here... chores aren't getting done, house is a mess, pets not getting enough attention, etc., etc., etc. I guess all the rules go out the window when you're sick. Now I can appreciate what people have been complaining about all this time. But I guess also not getting sick a lot is why whenever I do get sick I announce that I'm dying.

In a side note, my resident-post-commenter Kevin now has his own blog for me to go post comments on... oddly enough, it's at


NEWS.COM -- So Ken Jennings won over $2.5 million in 74 consecutive wins on Jeopardy. Microsoft has hired him to be part of a new game called "Quiz the Whiz" on its Encarta premium edition for 2005. But he said that he personally never uses the internet for research because even though there's a lot of material out there, you can't always be sure it's accurate. For kicks, he recently searched for his own name on the internet. He found a number of hits, naturally, but he also found lots of mistakes. One page in particular, had quite a bit of information that he felt most people would consider it to be accurate because it was on a very authoritative site. That page? The press release on announcing that they had hired him for the "Quiz the Whiz" thing I mentioned earlier. D'oh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bad Advertising: Adelphia

(1) The network for bad girls and the girls who love them
(2) Nope, still not gonna get cable (DISH rules!)
(3) Oxygen: 5 pretty girls and two ugly ones

But seriously, folks, is this not a horrible ad? I thought that Oxygen was a channel for women but the "Oh! We're Easy" just seems extremely demeaning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ooh, spicy...

Verizon gets backing of partner Vodaphone to attempt a take-over of Sprint, potentially thwarting Sprint's plans to by Nextel. But now I'm torn... the best phone company in the world wants to buy the worst company in the world? I hope it's just to shut them down and fire everyone.

WWII Hero Dies

I'd never heard of this guy before, but he was an American soldier who parachuted into Normandy, was eventually captured by the Germans, tortured, had two unsuccessful and one successful escape attempt, joined up with Soviet soldiers, fought with them before being injured and sent to Moscow where he was treated and then had to persuade the US Government that he was still alive. (His dog tags had been found on a body in Germany.)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Happy Birthday, You Ol' Sin City, You

Link above to a cool article on Vegas, its 100th. birthday and the history that still exists today.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Baby, It's Cold Inside

Our thermostat seems to have died late on Friday night. It's a fancy electronic gizmo, so with a blank screen, it's sat there unmoving, uncaring, preventing us from using the heat at night or the air conditioner during the day. With a house so poorly sealed as ours, that's not good. And with a six month old who has a cold, it stinks even more. I don't think the two nights of freezing temperatures have contributed to her cold, but I can't think it's helped, either. Through the internet and various phone books, I've come up with about five different phone numbers for the guy who installed the system, but all seem to go to the same answering machine which he apparently doesn't check on weekends. I've also come up with two addresses for the guy and I am halfway tempted to go and see if either of those addresses are his house because this is starting to get unbearable. He just better darn well call first thing tomorrow or I swear he's getting a Better Business Complaint.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"I Don't Understand Why People Keep Getting Shanked"

Apparently a maximum-security prison in Missouri was allowing the prisoners to purchase video games from proceeds from the prison store. A committee made up of officials, staff and inmates decides how to spend the proceeds. One of the video games they selected was "Hitman: Contracts," in which, the article (link above) explains, "players use everything from meat hooks to silencer-equipped pistols to carry out brutal contract killings." Here's my favorite part:

"We didn't closely review these," Dave Dormire, superintendent of the Jefferson City Correctional Center, told The Kansas City Star. "We were told these games had more like cartoon violence."

Freedumb of Speach To His Own, I Guess

I saw a car yesterday with these two bumper stickers:
May all beings be free of suffering.
Vegetarians Taste Better.

First, I thought the one about suffering was dumb. (a) That's impossible. (b) In regards to not eating meat, wouldn't you then suffer if you liked eating meat? We have a friend with a new baby. She didn't eat red meat and now her diet requires red meat and the baby has to have injections because he's anemic. The tasty animals were put on this planet for us to eat, folks.

The second one was even more puzzling. Was it a sexual thing? If not, did it just apply to eating humans? Because then the argument for eating animals is made... everyone loves a good corn-fed steak. So I guess if you're trapped in the Andes, you want it to be with a vegetarian soccer team? Probably not, you probably want a bunch of overweight accountants. There would be more meat.

Either way, I thought the person in the car was an idiot and I thought the second bumper sticker was a joke bumper sticker and the driver didn't get the joke. They also had flaming skull stickers on both back windows and one on the rear window.

I guess it takes all kinds.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A Flaw In Their Plan

So, their entire system is based on putting their addresses up as a graphic? That's a silly plan, epsecially if I were to, oh, say, type the following: ...oops... or maybe, dang it... ...did I do that?... ... my bad.

Space-Shifting: The Next Frontier

CNET.COM -- When you TiVO something, it's often called "time-shifting" - to watch something on your time, not the time it was originally broadcast. I think I wrote a few months ago about a Sony device that's about to come out, but here's an article about another similar device that allows you to watch TV even when you're not in the same part of the world as it's being broadcast. Combine those two together and the entertainment industry is going to start to have to pay attention to things like On-Demand Programming as we become less and less held down by space and time and are freed to do more and more on our schedules, whether or not they are actively involved in the process or not.