Tuesday, November 29, 2005

California Dreamin'

I've come to realize that what I idealize about California is really not the California I live in.
Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You could stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won't back down
No I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down.
It's really a disappointment to me that I did let this world drag me down and now I am backing down. I'm about 40 miles too far inland, and saddled with a job that takes all my time and a commute that sometimes makes me want to kill people.

It probably did me no good that my first two trips to California were vacations... first to Disneyland in 8th. grade and then a drive down my senior year for spring break to hang out at my college roommate's parent's house, trips to Disneyland and lots of hanging out. To be sure, it was further from the beach, but I didn't shave all week. I just relaxed. This was where the goatee was born.

So I might still maintain that I'm a Southern Californian accidentally born in Washington State, but I am not a Monrovian, an Arcadian, heaven forbid a Glendorian or worse yet, Pasadean. (Granted, by birth, Rachel is a Pasadean by birth, but she and Huntington Memorial Hospital are two bright spots in an otherwise unpleasant city.)

I am a Santa Monican, a Venetian, Los Angeleno (but only the nice parts). With a much better job, I'd be a Beverly Hillite.

But those are not to be, I'm afraid. And so in this place where people have taken a desert and made their dreams, I have fallen short, chosen poorly and am forced to re-examine everything.

However, this is not a time to pity. This is a time to explore the possibilities that change can bring.

(Hey Google... stop listing me as spam. I bought a single share of your stock today. At $412 + $10.99 transfer fee, it was all I could afford. Thanks for then dropping $6.)

Reality Turkeys

MSNBC.COM -- What's the biggest reality show turkey? It must be Amazing Race, the Family Edition. I mean, who can argue with a cool guy named James? (Top of page 2.) More...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is Anyone Out There?

A guy named Paul English has published a guide that shows you how to get past the automated menus and directly to a human for over 100 companies.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here Turkey, Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving.

What an action packed and quick weekend. I don't feel like it necessarily needed to be longer, but I wish I had gotten a little more done. I lost count of the number of trips to Home Depot and Target.

The weekend started with an episode of Lost. The nice thing is, by the time we stand around the Marian's desk discussing it, the next episode will be only two more days away.

I found some wood in our garage that was left over from another project and got part of the wall redone in the laundry room. Sadly, Home Depot decided to be closed on Thanksgiving. I think that's a tragedy, because it would have been the perfect day to do more in the laundry room. I made a great start and I love my new jig/orbital saw. It worked great, though measure twice, cut once isn't good enough for me. I think I need to measure at least four times from now on. But, I'll get more wood soon, finish the job and then repaint the room, put down some stick-on tiles and consider the job done. My original plans were too fancy and the effort and money would be overspent if I were to do that. So I've scaled back some and plan to do "good enough" instead of a fancier job.

We also ate really well on Thanksgiving, and then ever since then. Lori made a smaller spread than in past years, but we still had all the good stuff. Lori's mom joined us as well and we had a really nice relaxing day.

We also met with our advisor. In addition to reviewing how we should improve our home, he showed us two others in the neighborhood. In some ways, we're incredibly well off, considering. Turns out that a number of the projects we were thinking we needed to do, we don't need to do. And because of timing and because of the lower number of projects, Lori's starting to see the light on paying others to do the work.

Tim and Sarah joined us for dinner last night and that was really nice. They were dropping hints about thinking about having kids. Not spreading any rumors, but they're now apparently ready to entertain the idea. (woo hoo!) After dinner we sat in the living room and managed to have a grown-up conversation and play with Rachel at the same time. That was cool.

Today we slept in and didn't go to Sunday school. (We had gone to church Saturday night.) Then we had small group and got a bunch of cleaning done around here before having a video conference call with my parents and grandma because they wanted to see Rachel.

Then I had to make a late run to Albertsons to get cough medicine for Rachel. Of course, I tried to use the self-checkout because I'm impatient (anti-social?) and I got held-up because you can't by cold medicine without an age verification and Albertsons never has people over there by the self-checkout. Very annoying. (Another reason I prefer self-checkout -- last week we went there and I used the regular checkout and they put a 24-pack of Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper underneath the cart and I didn't see it and we got home and didn't have any Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper to drink.)

So now it's 10:40 already and we're starting to wind down and get ready for bed. I have no idea how it gets so late so quickly. Ugh... have to be up in 6-1/2 hours and I know it will be at least 30-45 minutes before we're in bed and who knows how long after that before I fall asleep.

Good night, y'all. Goodnight Google censors.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Next Blog

I've been hitting the "Next Blog" button a lot lately. I guess it's because I know that there won't be anything new on MSNBC.com, News.com or Google Labs and there isn't really much else on the internet of interest. I could make some more videos of the little one to post on Google Video. Or I could fire up Google Earth, but I know I'll just stare at Seattle some more. You'd think that alone would be enough to get me fired up and get on track with the part of Project Restart that involves me going on the internet and telling more people about me. But so far, I haven't. I guess I've been more introspective about what I'm thinking and putting down on the blog, and curious about what others are writing about. (I'm not mentioning Google just because I'm trying to kiss up to them and get un-spam-blog-blocked, but honestly, they do have a majority of the only websites I regularly frequent on the internet.)

I have to say... I haven't found a lot that I've wanted to read on the "next blog" button. Like me, people type a lot in their posts... And lots of people don't even bother with punctuation and spelling and stuff and that makes it difficult to read.

But I have been cheered to find that others are writing to complain about not having enough time to actually write. And others are wondering if they complain about their lives on their blog, will others care? I'm happy to hear that I'm not alone in those ponderings.

Anyhow, I have sat at this computer in the darkened kitchen long enough. I think I'll go have some milk and see if there are any chores that I can quickly do before sitting down with Lori to unwind in front of the TV.

One of these days I'll do another "120 seconds of lit" or post another picture (new pictures of the little one posted yesterday on Flickr, e-me if you don't have an invite yet) or do something creative. I yearn to be creative beyond home renovation.

Progress Goes Slowly

Progress on "Project Restart" has been going rather slowly, and we really need to pick up the pace if we're going to keep to the schedule.

Tomorrow we're meeting someone who will advise us on how best to spend on home improvements to maximize our eventual sale price. I'm looking forward to this because at the moment, all we have our own ideas, some notes we've made from watching "Designed to Sell" constantly and about a bazillion dollars in Home Depot receipts. Cruel trick... you can save the receipts for purchases made that improve a home, but Home Depot's cheap receipts fade after a few months to where they're unreadable.

I had hoped to redo the laundry room this weekend, but the timing wasn't right and Home Depot had to go and be all closed yesterday. What's up with that? I was able to buy a jigsaw and did find a huge piece of plywood in the garage so I did get a big piece of the easiest part of the work done.

Perhaps tomorrow after the advisor has come and gone I'll be able to convince Lori to accompany me back to Home Depot to get some more plywood.

We did de-clutter the nursery tonight. Now every time you walk in there, it just feels good. It joins the bathroom and the living room as having been de-cluttered. I wondered aloud why it took something like this for us to get to that stage. She thinks that people don't live that way. I think that it's possible that people do. She conceded that it could be possible and we both agreed that it would be really tough to live that way.

We'll do a little more sorting tonight and I'll move some more stuff to the garage tomorrow before the advisor gets here. But we're also going to have to start calling to get quotes on getting flooring put in for some of the rooms and see about what we can do for flooring on our own in some other rooms. But the kitchen, that's the biggest project and I'm really not looking forward to it. I think to do it correctly will require tearing out some walls and if you only count weekends, we've got something like 10 days left. That's scary.

Say it aint so, Google!

I love Google. I'd love to work for Google.

To my disappointment, Google's Spam Robots have flagged my blog as possibly a spam-blog. That's like a knife in the heart.

On the other hand, to get my blog un-spam-listed, a human being at Google will review my blog soon to make sure that I'm not spam.

So, yay, another reader.

Yes, Google, this is not spam. Useless drivel that's probably another fine example of why the internet is filled with mostly useless hot air, but not spam. I think my three or four readers would agree. (That's you, Lori, Kevin, Allison and Janeal.)

On the other hand, Google, I am all for having the word verification requirement on all posts. I don't know how you handle that with the mail-to-blog, but there are so many annoying blogs under the "next blog" button that if we cut could down on those, cool. (Another suggestion: a "don't show me blogs like this" button [yeah, too many words], similar to what you have on the deskbar.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

hee hee

"Toyota Scion XB
Designed and promoted as a vehicle for Generation X’ers who like to spend their weekends surfing and generally hanging out and looking cool, the boxy, funky-looking Scion XB has instead found a devoted following among much older drivers who love its low ride and ample headroom. Dude, how uncool is that?"

More Turkey Cars on MSNBC

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Unfair Reality Shows

I always love it when people who have appeared on reality shows and looked like really poor excuses for human beings later complain that they were edited to look bad.

Sure, perhaps they didn't show it when you saved the baby kitten hiding under your car. But if you later taser said kitten and fry it on the engine block, then maybe it's not just the editors who are being jerks.

Yes, reality game show hopefuls, here's the shocking secret. Ready? You'll want to write this down.

If you don't do things that make you look like an a-hole while you're on camera, then the editors won't have stuff that makes you look like an a-hole to include in the show.
There. That wasn't so hard, was it, Weaver family?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Vote for Megan

MSNBC.COM -- My friend Megan Dove is a finalist to win a $10k makeover for her office. Please go vote for her. More...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Flight of the Bumblebook

This is kinda cool... Bookcrossing - once you're done with a book, you go to their site and register the book and leave comments about the book. They give you a special code (called a BCID) which you write in the front cover along with the website address.

Then, you leave the book in a public place.

The theory is that someone will find the book, read it, and possibly go back to the website and register that they found it.

Sort of like a catch-and-release program to share books.

Similar to Where's George and Grafedia.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I need some good news.

I don't have bad news, but it's been a long day. So, my few and faithful readers, I need some good news. It needn't be in any way related to me, or even be relevant to me. But if you've got some good news, please share. Even if it doesn't involve you, maybe it's something happy you saw on the news or something. If so, please share.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Islands' last hurrah

Sorry I haven't written recently. It's been, well, quite busy.

When I first arrived in Sherman Oaks, there was an Islands near church and work. They wanted to go there all the time, and I'd always go, and always order something different, but they were never exactly something I'd enjoy. I had all but given up when I stumbled on it, and now it's all I order, to the point that they often have to ask me to slow down... "Sunset, medium well on wheat with light onions." A perfect burger with bbq sauce, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and optionally, onions.

The ambience of Islands is wonderful. I've lost track of how many different ones I've been to, but the experience is consistently great, a terrificly done tropical escape from the world around us.

Last night we had dinner at the Islands in West Covina. It was sort of a last hurrah for us. Islands, we'll miss you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Can you see me now? Good.

NEWS.COM -- This is cool... companies and state DOT's are starting to explore the idea of using cell phones to show traffic patterns. The idea is that with hundreds of thousands of cars on the road, often each with at least one cell phone powered on in each car, they can gather the information in large clusters and quickly be able to see if traffic is moving at the right speed, or where congestion is. Right now, it costs $1k-$20k to put sensors into a road, so this is possibly a cheaper way of gathering data on a lot more roads at once, which could lead to faster responses by emergency vehicles as well as communication to drivers about potential problems ahead and recommendations to alternate routes. As usual, critics suggest that it's the first step towards tracking individual people or finding people congregating to riot or protest. More...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm lost. Or more specifically, Locke.

You scored as Locke. You're Locke! People underestimate you, but you know you can do anything you want to. You hate limits being put on your life - you don't like it when people don't believe in you.



























Who is your "Lost" alter ego?
created with QuizFarm.com

Friday, November 04, 2005

Extra, Extra

Latest sightings of yours truly in print. (link above)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why not become an actual minister? pt. 2

I watch a lot of Celebrity Poker Showdown. Sadly, I'm not absorbing as much about the gameplay as I'd hoped.

But one thing I've noticed is that there are way too many charities named after the person sitting at the table.

If everyone has their own charity, then everyone has to pay people to do the same administrative jobs as if a few of those charities merged and could benefit from economies of scale. (On the flip side, don't look at World Vision and their supposed 47% administration costs. If true, yikes.)

Same reason, why start a new church when there is, right in front of me, one with 109 years of history? (My colleague calls it "109 years unimpeded by progress.")

Why start over if it could be fixed? I thought it could be fixed, though now I'm not so sure anymore.

Yeah, it would be really easy to start a new church. I could call up the senior pastor of the old church and ask him to be the Senior Pastor. We could probably launch with 250-500 attendees our first week. And I think I would do a better job of advising him than the last group did. (The fact that he's a teacher by trade and ends up repeating himself too often notwithstanding.) I lack the Biblical training and the proper empathy to be the face of the church, the teaching pastor. Business Administrator or Executive Pastor, yeah, probably. But usually Senior Pastor = Teaching Pastor, though that concept is even being rethought these days.

Yeah, I could start a new church. Let someone else do the Biblical teaching, even find (poach?) others to be the caring people to the public, while I worried about keeping the thing fresh and new, about making it alive and growing. I could do that, and it would be difficult, difficult work.

I mean, which would you rather watch? This Old House or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I know you personally prefer This Old House. They have to work within the constraints of the existing architecture, and honor the past, but in the end, they can come up with something really beautiful that has the potential to fully serve the needs of a modern day family. While EM:HE simply destroys everything and starts over with something that has no history, has no past, and whose future is based solely on what the designers did to meet the current needs today. (And to showcase beautiful Kenmore appliances.)

I also play a lot of SimCity. It's always easier to create a town from scratch than it is to take a town you've been working on and think about what's really wrong with it and work at fixing it. (Not a fair comparison, the little sims don't protest very much when you demolish their homes to move a street over a block, and the bulldozer is really cheap.)

I think it would have been more of a challenge, more of an exciting experience, to try to change the existing church.