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Month: March 2007



As most if not all of you know I’ve been living with metal in my mouth for over a year. On the 20th I had the metal taken out. Today I went to get my retainer fitted. After the fitting I asked for my photos so that I could put the before and after up on this blog. At first they offered a black and white print-out. I said I wanted the digital photos – they said they didn’t know how to do that. So, I went over to their computer – took a look at the “Cliniview” software that I’d never seen before – and in ten seconds I figured out how to export my photos and x-rays as jpeg image files. The computer we were using was not online however and I had no other way to take the images with me. The assistant, Ruth, told me to go up front to the admin desk and there was a computer connected to the internet there. After explaining to the woman at the front desk several times what I wanted and her not understanding she asked who I spoke with. We then walked to the other side of the building to talk to Ruth. At that point the front desk woman gave up and told me “it’ll be $20. If you want anything at all it’ll be $20” just to get me to go away. Never mind the fact that the orthodontist and Ruth said I could have them…. None of this was particularly surprising as I remember back to the beginning of my orthodontic adventure. I decided to get a 5% discount by paying for everything at once. Most of the patients are quite obviously lower income – and so the staff had never been confronted with someone taking up that offer instead of monthly payments. First they tried to tell me my down payment (which I’d given previously) wasn’t going to be taken out of the overall amount. Once we got that settled they couldn’t figure out how to take 5% out of the resulting number. Keep in mind these are women sitting in front of PCs with Windows XP installed…a calculator at their fingertips. They had to run to the other office and ask someone how to figure out my bill. So it ended as it began I suppose – with frustration at the hands of incompetent desk staff.

So – in order to show you before and after photos I’ve scanned the black and white photo they gave me of before – and taken my own after.

Before (this is me actually biting down…notice how only a few teeth touch)

After (having the lower teeth tip in was an alternative to a $30,000 surgery to remove part of my jaw)



5 eggs = $1
“Genuine” Troyers Trail Bologne = $6
Canola Oil = $2
Sara Lee wide wheat bread = $2.50
Kraft Miracle Whip = $2
Swiss Cheese = $1.29
Sweet Chili Sauce = $4
Dried Vegetable flakes = $4
Chives = $1
Sliced Tomato = $1
Lettuce = $0.49

Realizing this is the best sandwich you ever made for yourself…and probably the most unhealthy =




So I was down in Venice Beach this weekend for no reason at all. Walking along the beach for no reason at all and I came upon the strangest house. I didn’t have my camera – just my Motorola Q phone – so I snapped a picture with that. It is hard to see in this crappy photo – but the blue and green on the walls is what looks like bathroom tile. According to this house is worth about 2 million.

falling apart at the seams

falling apart at the seams

I walked out to my car this morning to go to work to discover yet more evidence that my car’s warranty has expired. As some of you know, I had to grapple with a $700 bill for brake and rotor replacement a few months ago – and now this morning I was presented with a slightly more humorous physical representation of planned obsolescence.

My left rear reflector bumper light had fallen out. There was no damage at all to the bumper – so I ruled out vandalism – and the light was not in the garage – so I can only assume it popped off when I went over some pothole or another some time recently. I ordered the $20 replacement part (seems like a stretch for a piece of cheap red plastic…) this morning. It looks like it is meant to just pop in place (and just as easily pop out apparently), so I hope I can install it myself.

What is wrong with this picture?

There should be a strip of red reflective plastic here…..

Day 5

Day 5

Through the misty morning fog we made our way to Striving Artists – where Boris (from Russia I’m guessing) tried to convince me to frame my paintings at his store. After spending an hour at his business we decided to check out other options. We stopped at Aaron Brothers in Burbank and found their prices very similar.

We only stopped there because it was on the way to our next destination – Griffith Park. We drove up to the gated parking lot for the observatory and headed up the hill. To my surprise mom decided to test her once broken foot on the rough rocky terrain going up the unbulldozed hillside path to the top point in the park. Despite a few slips and scares we made it all the way up and back – stopping along the way to nip off some Jade Tree leaves that I’ll try to sprout up at the condo.

Mom roughing it

We’re halfway there (can she see her house from there?)…

Here is me trying to look cool, but not pulling it off. (interesting fact: this was the last picture ever taken of me with braces on).

From there we went to Don Cuco’s, which mom had heard me talk about forever but had not got the chance to try – even when they stayed (literally) across the street for three days last December.

On our way to (you guessed it) the grocery store we stopped at several Sherman Way antique stores. A few seemed to have some good finds – but most seemed to me like things that other people simply didn’t want.

At the gas station we happened upon a rare automotive find. A 1989 Avanti Luxury Touring Sedan. Avanti only made the four-door sedan model for one year and only a few hundred were ever produced. The proud owner informed me that he had bought his at an original Youngstown Ohio dealer and had it outfitted with interior leather and wood. It could have been a Pinto for all mom knew- but I figured some of you (cough cough dad) would get a kick out of seeing this.

The evening was spent cooking, cleaning, planning escape routes to the airport, and doing laundry.

It seemed like this trip had been more work than fun for mom, but according to her she still enjoyed it. With her help my new home feels a little more like my old home – leaving me feeling more at home.

Day 4

Day 4

On Sunday morning I dropped mom off at the Westfield shopping center (she wanted to check out a few stores) while I went to the nearby gym for a workout. Afterwards we ordered take-home from Nipa Hut.

After a rest we proceeded to the Valley Indoor Swap Meet to buy belts, fake grapes, sunglasses, bananas, and kettle corn. We checked out some very interesting antiques as well.

From there we went to Osh to pick up some supplied I needed for home improvement (ladder) and home decoration (hanging materials).

Day 3

Day 3

Our first stop Saturday morning was Wertz antique consignment shop in Santa Monica. I found exhaustingly stale after only a few minutes – but mom managed to find an antique ring that sparked her interest (although she later took my advice and decided not to buy).

The rest of the day was spent next to the ocean. We drove up the coast to another antique store in Carpentaria and then ate lunch on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. Before heading to the wharf we cruised by the clock tower because it is one of my mother’s few pleasant memories of a trip to California as a child. We didn’t stop at the tower though because there was a large war protest going on.

Mom looking at Santa Barbara boats from Moby Dick restaurant on the wharf.

ongoing Iraq War death memorial on the beach

We drove straight to IKEA in Burbank to look at coffee tables and other home fixing’s. Mom bought me an extension for my bedroom desk for my birthday.

After IKEA – you guessed it – another trip to the grocery store. Mom ended up making me four separate dishes (not counting cookies) that will probably take me 4-6 weeks to eat. At the store we picked up some Midori as mom had never tried it before.

Mom posing with a bottle of straight vodka to prove to my father that – yes, they do sell straight vodka/tequila/etc. at supermarkets (I don’t think my dad has purchased his own foodstuffs for a few decades).

Before getting groceries we ate at a little Chinese restaurant called Szechuan Inn. It wasn’t the best Chinese I’ve ever had, but they did have sportscenter on and mom and I watched the Buckeyes win in overtime.

Day 2

Day 2

Friday morning I drove my mother and I to the First Baptist Church near Korea Town. Mom had picked it out of the AAA Los Angeles guide because it supposedly had stained glass reminiscent of that in Chartres Cathedral in Chartres France (which we visited nine years ago). The stained glass was okay – but not spectacular. In fact, it was only partially leaded together and partially painted on. I had more fun doing time-lapse photography in the chapel.

From the church we proceeded northwest to Pan-Pacific Park so mom could take a look at the Holocaust Monument. It is a well designed monument – but I can’t say it is exactly an amazing site to behold.

Next up we drove two blocks away to the original Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. We strolled through all the gift shops and eateries. I bought a dried stuffed puffer fish to hang over my kitchen, and several shells to put in my fish tank. We ate lunch at the Gumbo Pot.

We then raced back across town towards the east to barely catch the 1pm tour of Our Lady of Angeles Cathedral. Mom quickly became bored with the tour when the pipe organ she’d patiently waited to see appeared to be maybe 600 pipes short of the 900 she was promised.

Entrance sculpture of Mary by Donald J. Gummer (Meryl Streep‘s husband).

We then journeyed back northwest again towards Hollywood and a very informal (yet docented) tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. Our docent was a peculiar senior citizen who seemed to take a rather personal interest in the condition of the house “oh, I DO NOT like what they are doing with this restoration in the yard!” The original owner, Aline Barnsdall, had a Rockefeller bank account but decided to build this small low to the ground house, which confused both of us.

From there it was another trip to the grocery store, which would end up a common theme of mom’s visit. Mom cooked macaroni and cheese for dinner. A good time was had by all. Except maybe the cheese.