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Month: February 2005

nothing but blue skies

nothing but blue skies

It’s official now. On Tuesday I will start working for a new company. I will be a member of the marketing department for Appliance Therapy Group in Chatsworth (Northwest LA County). I had a week between ending the last job and starting this new one. I have research to do about the new companies old marketing materials, but in the meantime I scheduled a trip up north. What follows is my account of that trip:

Tuesday 22nd – On The Road
The better part of Tuesday was spent driving. We left North Hollywood around 10:30 am, had lunch in the car while stuck in a traffic jam for an hour and a half (a small section of the highway was “flooded” and so reduced to one lane), and arrived in San Jose around 5pm. Our lodging for this trip was at Amy’s cousin May’s house in San Jose. There is some debate about whether her house is actually a million dollar home, but it was very nice nonetheless. San Jose in general is a very peaceful place. We passed IBM’s laboratory on the way (San Jose IS silicon valley after all). Much of the countryside is reminiscent of Ohio, with many winding roads ducking in and out of hills and valleys. The valleys tend to be a little wider and flatter than Ohio’s though. Part of this terrain included “scenic” route 152. Upon entering 152 (off of the 5) we slowly started to notice a large flat plateau on the horizon. This (perfectly) flat hilltop seemed to stretch from one end of our peripheral vision to the other. We were traveling perpendicular to it and before long it became obvious that it had to be manmade. The minute after you realize that fact is pretty overwhelming, probably akin to driving right up to the great wall of china (if it was flat). The road goes almost to the base of this massive earthen wall before making a sharp right and heading up into the hills around the reservoir. Upon climbing a few more miles there are vista points where one can look back upon the reservoir. It is an amazing site. It turns out the dam is the fourth largest embankment dam in the United States and holds almost thirteen acres of water behind its massive front wall. Click here for a good map of the reservoir. The massive wall that we approached from the 152 appears to be at least three miles wide.
After dinner with May and her two children John and Amy (I swear…if the Long and Chang/Liu families ever get together nobody will ever know who is talking to who…) we planned out our activities for the next two days. May had many good maps and suggestions for things to do.

Wednesday 23rd – San Francisco
After a quick forty-five minute drive we drove through the streets of San Francisco. We took the 101 north, which disappears into street driving on its way to the Golden Gate bridge. We took the scenic path around the bridge stopping at many vista points. We then proceeded to Pier 39. The Pier turned out to be way too commercial for us. We decided to eat at Bubba Gump’s for lunch (neither of us realizing that it was a chain restaurant). The food was horrible all around, but the view was fantastic. From our table we had a clear view of the bay, including both bridges and Alcatraz. From Fisherman’s Wharf we headed to Lombard street to take the famous twisty block for a turn or two. After that we headed towards downtown to pick up my friend Aaron. Aaron (not Montes) is a friend from OSU art school that is now taking graduate art classes at the SF academy of art ( His tour started with Coit Tower, a tower that peaks above the city at the other end of Lombard street. After taking in the view from the (free) parking lot we took the rickety elevator ride to the observation deck at the top of the tower. From this view it became apparent how small the city really is. In fact, if one were to rip I-270 from its roots in Columbus and lay it over SF, most of it would be over water (of the ocean, or bay respectively). In fact, to go from the golden gate bridge to downtown is akin to going from The Shoe to the Brewery District in Columbus.

After Coit we took another trip down Lombard before parking in the posh Marina District directly across from the Palace of Fine Arts lagoon. We walked around the Palace, a stunning Romanesque structure with colonnades encircling a structure with a golden dome. Check out this link to see what I mean:
The homes in the area are all custom and unique, but smacking up right next to each other. We walked around the neighborhood for awhile just to take a look at them. Just as we were speculating on the price we found one that was for sale. The brochure (“take one”) hanging from the For Sale sign said the home’s starting price was 2.7 million. At first these homes look tiny because the front is so small and smacked up against its neighbors. Upon further inspection one finds that the homes stretch backwards long enough to provide ample room inside, especially considering that many of them have four stories.

Next we decided to take a tour of China Town. After wiggling our way around one way streets that seemed designed to keep us out of Chinatown we found parking in a spot just a block up from the Transamerica building. We walked from China Town to Union Square and then the Metreon. Supposedly SF’s Chinatown is the largest in America. I’m not sure about that, but it certainly is the coolest and most authentic. It is a very interesting place and slowly you realize that none of the buildings are newer than thirty years old, adding to the authenticity. Even the post office is built like an authentic Chinese palace (in miniature). As we walked to Union Square we realized that the architecture all over San Francisco is some of the best and most thought out in America. Every building has a distinct style, most of them looking very modern but even the older buildings seem to have been built with the future or at the very least regality (if that is a real word) in mind. The Metreon fits in perfectly with this design aesthetic. See for yourself here:

After arriving at the Metreon Aaron had to leave to attend a night class a few blocks away. In a few minutes Amy’s friend Catherine picked us up and we went out to eat with her and her boyfriend. Ironically, the restaurant was two blocks from where we were parked in Chinatown. The restaurant had the dimensions of a trailer home, but was intent on squeezing as many people in as possible. See for yourself at their official website ( (the picture you’ll see is the WHOLE place…) The food was excellent, but tiny. It was the epitome of the restaurant where you get a tiny plate with a tiny little blip of meat. Dinner for the four of us came out to $108. Thankfully Catherine and Jimmy decided to treat us when they saw our wide eyes when the check came.

Thursday 24th – Pebble Beach
On Thursday on May’s recommendation we headed south towards Pebble Beach and its famous “17-mile” drive. Our favorite spot was in Monterey Bay just down the street from Lover’s Point. We spent a few hours just walking out on the rocks and getting close to the breaking waves. I even cajoled Amy out onto a cliff for a photo (currently the last thumbnail in the gallery). As we were walking back to the car a man stopped us and said he could take our picture. After doing so he told us we should go to San Juan Batista where you can see the fault line. Neither of us had actually seen a fault before and got really excited. The Mission wasn’t too far off the path we’d have to take to go back to May’s so we decided to check it out. Turns out the fault line is currently covered by a thick growth of thorny underbrush and can’t be seen at all. The town was one of those old west towns that went to sleep in the 19th century and has yet to come out of its coma. A sign on one of the buildings said “established 1856.” This was the sort of town that many a spaghetti western could have been shot in (if Italy wasn’t available). You can see the nicer side here:

On the way back to May’s we saw a small vineyard with free wine tasting. Just before eating dinner with May we stopped into San Jose’s downtown. Very small. Akin to an Akron with rich people. We stopped in for its Japan Town. It turned out that Japan Town was actually Jackson Street with a few blocks of Asian cuisine restaurants.

Friday 25th – Oceanview
We started on our way back to Los Angeles an hour earlier than we had left on Tuesday. We took the 101 the whole way back. It ended up taking about three extra hours (over the 5). About an hour from Los Angeles we came around a hillside and there was the La Conchita landslide on our left ( and the Pacific on our right. The mudslide is quite an amazing site. When you look at where the houses are and how the hills are shaped in the area it boggles the mind as to why anyone would put a housing development there. I guess that is the sacrifice that people make to live by the ocean.

I may put up a slideshow of photos from our trip in a few days, but for now I’ve spent enough time fixing up the “art” photos gleaned from the trip and adding them to the gallery. I also have quite a bit of “homework” to do to prepare for my new job.

Just when everything is looking up, along comes a downer. It looks like I may have Jury Duty on my birthday…

Aaron just called me to say that Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air lives down the street from us on Camarillo (about two blocks from here). He saw him outside in his weekend clothes arguing with a gardener. If you’ve forgotten who Carlton was…

pollution isn’t always what you can see in the sky

pollution isn’t always what you can see in the sky

hmm…wonder why this is coming out NOW and not in November….

hmmm…just a coincidence that the GOP’s opinion on global warming is/was “a complete farce, we need more time to study anyway to tell if anything is happening at all. We can’t trust these ‘liberal wacko’ scientists. (who have much less to gain by exposing pollution than the large corporations do by covering it up…those same companies that gave us money in 2000 and 2004…)”

When everyone you know dies of cancer you can lift your spirits by reminding yourself how much the Bush (and Bin Ladin) family’s stock portfolio skyrocketed between 2000 and 2008 and we didn’t have to become Europe’s “bitch.” We’ll all have no hair from the chemo, but at least we’ll have the dignity of eating Freedom Fries instead of french fries.

Don’t do a Dick Cheney and try to close your eyes and imagine it isn’t already happening either: 1 in 9 (or 1 in 8..I forget) children in the county where I grew up have unhealthy amounts of lead “poisoning” in their bodies. Just a coincidence that there are at least three factories spewing strange stuff into the air 24 hours a day within ten miles of where I grew up. Just a coincidence….that’s all. Sort of like it’s a coincidence when a 30-year smoker dies of lung cancer.

Oh, you are buying the Carl Rove hardline stance still?

well check this out then:

virtually identical to LA county:

Note the HIGHER CANCER RISK score for Washington County.

At least nobody is going to take away your guns though….

Thank You Georg-er..I mean Jesus

aww, boohoo

aww, boohoo

Hey, the guy has to fund his oil-for-blood program somehow.

I guess if you kill their sons and take away their livelyhood they will still support you as long as that rifle can still (legally) sit on the mantle and your daughter can’t get an abortion when you rape her because she’d have to come ask you for permission.

“we don’t want your tax and spend liberal policies Kerry” say the farmers in November

“oops” say the farmers in February when someone explains to them that “subsidies” are part of that spending.

hmm… 80 billion to fund the continued killing of turban wearing folk on the other side of the world…or 80 billion to fund the growing of the food that keeps our citizens alive….

Last fall the farmers were more interested in protecting Iraqi’s right to farm than their own. Not to mention the fact that they thought they’d know better how to protect Los Angeles and New York from terrorists than LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK DO…but that is another post for another day.

celebrity sighting number 3

celebrity sighting number 3

On Friday night Amy and I decided to head over to the Burbank Barnes and Noble to do some reading. As we were walking towards the entrance we walked past a Bentley Continental GT that was being parked. I remarked that it was a rich person’s car. Then I saw the driver was a young guy (this is a dark garage at night keep in mind) and said “probably some actor or something.” Amy then asked “do you want to wait and see?” I knew she had no patience for celebrity sightings since several TV shows and movies have been filmed down the street from her house (the wonder years, scenes in Wayne’s World, etc.). Seeing a celebrity to her is about like seeing a Sternwheeler ( to me. So, I said “no, let’s go in.”

After five minutes or so we had settled at the back of the store reading our personalized material. Suddenly a girl ran at top speed by us and through a door in the back. Once she was inside she began screaming to one of her coworkers back there. It had become obvious that she had seen a celebrity. Other girls (and older women as well) were starting to go crazy about it too. Amy asked one of them who it was. Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck had driven down to the City Center, parked in front of us, and then sauntered into the bookstore right behind us. I had to laugh because the atmosphere in the store reminded me of the time that Marty Stuart was spotted in the Parkersburg Wal-Mart. (If you don’t know who Marty Stuart is don’t worry, that is kinda the point)

stop the OC

stop the OC

Last Saturday I went out to dinner with Amy’s family. We had “crispy eel.” That was my first time tasting eel. It tasted like sweet and sour calamari (good).

Last week I turned Amy on to Uno. Last Sunday she bought her own deck and still can’t get enough of it.

Monday night I went to my first (and last) Modest Mouse concert. When I got to my seat at 7:30 I looked at my ticket and it said 8. I tried to go back out but they said I couldn’t get back in if I did. I also saw lots of people with cell phones and CAMERAS… what is up with that? How can “no recording devices” suddenly mean “sure bring in y’alls cameras and cell phones?” There were two opening bands so Modest Mouse didn’t come on till almost 10 and didn’t stop till about 11:20. Waiting for them to come on was torture for someone like me who is usually rolling around in bed with my eyes closed at 10:30. The fact that the opening bands weren’t good also didn’t help. The first band was actually better than the second band. The second band was called “love is laughing” or something similar and was simply horrible. They tried to sound as close as possible to the white stripes, the hives, etc.

The Modest Mouse part actually kind of sucked as well. They only played three songs that were not from the new album (paper thin walls, cowboy dan, and Dramamine). It was very weird too because there were always at least six people on stage. Now…to my knowledge Modest Mouse was a threesome (and a twosome for a short time when Jeremiah Green quit the band). I guess “was” is the most important word in that sentence. There was one guy that looked like a loser (he actually reminded me of someone I hated in college) that just stood in the middle of the stage and didn’t move for 90% of the time. There was another guy that sat over on the left side and I never saw do anything. They had two drummers for some insane reason.

The crowd only made it worse. It was a mix of three types of people (with some overlapping). #1 young “hipsters” that are just too cool (nappy hair, salvation army clothing, etc.) #2 little girls (and boys) that saw the band on “the OC” a few weeks ago #3 college “frat-boy” types that are going because modest mouse is the new “cool band” they are being told to listen to on alternative radio and (sometimes) MTV. These are the same guys that I’m sure went to White Stripes shows last year and will go to the Green Day shows next month. It was pathetic. Whenever the band launched into a song not on last year’s album you could hear/feel a collective groan from the crowd. I was seated at the end of an isle and next to me were three high school (I guess) girls. Just as I was thinking “oh god half these people are here because of that ‘OC’ thing”….one of the girls next to me said to her friend “oh yeah, I don’t really know a lot of their songs, I just saw them on the OC a few weeks ago.” It was then that I knew I was in for a long night. For most of the concert there were some drunken frat boys (and their slutty girlfriends) in front of me blocking my view because they were “dancing.” Their “dancing” actually consisted of gyrating around as if they were in a P Diddy video.

I thought at least they would come out and do Stars Are Projectors or Bankrupt on Selling or something else old as part of the encore.
Nope…it was the remaining three songs that they hadn’t played from the new album. So disappointing.

On the way to my car I think I saw Rob Schnider taking a smoke break.

We need to start a petition to STOP “THE OC!” For a few weeks now I’ve been listening to this band Pinback that Aaron told me about. I was on their website about a week ago and they had a concert date in San Diego. I was looking for it again tonight and I came across a link to “The OC” saying that they were going to be on the show or already had. NO! Ugh! I didn’t hear about this band from that show. Now if I go see them in San Diego I’ll be standing with 12 year olds again. Let me guess…next week on the OC – Mars Volta. In time they will just ruin my concert going experience for every last band I still want to see.

adventures in california cuisine

adventures in california cuisine

A few weeks ago Amy’s working hours changed. She no longer works weekends, at least for the time being. So we decided to make Saturday nights our “date night.” The plan being to cruise down Ventura Boulevard until finding a cool looking restaurant. Now, there is free parking around the boulevard if you know where to find it, but the street parking is all metered. We started this weekly thing on the 22nd. We cruised for a few miles up the “strip” and saw a few interesting places, but no parking spots open. So, we stopped at the next open spot that I saw. When we got out we discovered that there was a strange looking restaurant called “Amazon” right there in front of us. We checked the meter and there was 19 minutes left. (In most of Los Angeles the meters are free after 6pm) I looked at my watch and it was 5:41pm. We took a look at the outside posted menu for Amazon and it looked good so we went in. The inside was crazy. They had an eight feet wide (my estimation) waterfall coming down from the ceiling right in the middle of the restaurant. The walls were covered with colorful rainforest paintings and the ceiling was covered with an intertwining mass of vines and forest (fake) animals. Above that the real ceiling was black with little points of light that changed position every so often. Things got even better when we looked at the menu again. Appetizers were buy one get one free until 7pm, and they had a wide wide selection of interesting entrees that even allergy prone people like us could enjoy. Before we ordered our food we were brought fresh bread with a special butter dipping sauce. The waiter even closed the front window/door for us when a lady started smoking outside. While we were waiting for our meals we had a brief scare when a motorcycle cop wrote someone a ticket in the spot right in front of my car. Eventually he left and I forgot about it. For $25 we got 2 (large) appetizers, an entree of orange chicken, and a (very large!) specialty iced tea. In the bathroom I discovered free postcards (which I’ve since discovered is a common trait in Los Angeles restaurants). As we walked out the door we found the mint tray, and it had the better chocolate mints instead of peppermint.

After getting back into the car we saw that the two spaces in front of us were a valet parking spot and a no parking zone. That is why the guy had been ticketed earlier. “what luck!” we thought of our perfect parking spot.

This past Saturday we weren’t so lucky. I chose an Italian restaurant called “Fabs Italian.” We walked in and were promptly asked where we would like to sit. The section the man brought us to had an annoying loud child running around and I eventually convinced him to seat us on the other side of the restaurant. Five minutes passed…ten..fifteen…nothing…finally a busboy came by and asked if we’d had bread and water yet. We said no and that we hadn’t seen a waiter yet either. he brought us bread and water and it was another five minutes until a waiter came around. We waited another fifteen minutes for our food. If it would have taken another minute we were prepared to leave. We were informed by the manager that he would take something off our bill because of the wait. The food itself was pretty horrible though. Amy got a minestrone soup that was bland and a salad that wasn’t too great either. I got the veal parmasan. There was very little sauce, and the veal was all rubbery and bad. We waited another eternity for the waitress to come back so we could ask for the check. It would take another fifteen minutes to get the check, and when we did the manager’s promise was not reflected on it. It was going to be more expensive than last week’s outing at Amazon. I balked and told the waitress to consult the manager because we were supposed to have a discount. After another five minutes we got the real check with a 50% discount, paid it, and got the hell out of there.

You win some and you lose some I suppose…

My computer is almost fully set up now. The new computer is up and running, as is the old one after I reinstalled windows from the setup discs that came with the new dell. Now we are running the old computer as an extra storage unit on the apartment’s network. My oldest monitor is going bad, it is vibrating and getting funky coloring. I had to buy a separate video card for this stupid new dell because the onboard one is only for one VGA. What that means now though is that I can have three monitors. So, I’m buying a new one for my primary, and I’ll use the older ones as #2 and #3.

I’ve had my car in the shop for rattling noises twice now and the noise is still there…wonder if this fits under the umbrella of the lemon law. I’m not looking forward to renting another freaking Kia Rio for two days…

I also still need to get my fender fixed…I just have to keep putting it off and putting it off…