Browsed by
Month: December 2007

perilous pier

perilous pier

On Christmas day Beverly invited me to hang out with her and her father. Despite winds as fast as 50mph on the street and 100mph in the hills our only option was to go to the beach. So, after eating leftovers from the party the night before we headed to Venice beach. We braved the “cold” and winds and were treated to a Pacific Ocean sunset complete with diving pelicans and dolphins (whales? porpoises?…we couldn’t tell).

Afterwards we went to a Japanese karaoke bar that is open 365 days a year. I was surprised by the vast catalog of “my” music available. When pressed to sing I finally burned out everyone’s eardrums with Karma Police and No Surprises. When we got home we ate more food and played card games. I had an allergic reaction to something in the dim-sum. This reaction was analogous to what happened before at California Pizza Kitchen and the sushi place I went to with Victor. The symptoms lasted about 12 hours and unfortunately freaked out everyone at Beverly’s apartment.

It all occurred because I had unknowingly broken one of my rules. I never eat anything that I can’t read an ingredients list for (or ask the chef). In this case I assumed the dim sum was cooked by Beverly as it had come out of her freezer in a non-commercial bag (and she has made them before). I ate two of them before my throat and lips started to feel all prickly. Then I got what I can only describe as …heartburn with a stone in your throat that varied in severity until nearly the next morning.

This must be how the elderly feel – their bodies betraying them. I didn’t want to get sick, I just wanted to eat and have a good time. 99.9% of the time I’m able to control what I eat and it works out fine. I’ve been doing it for short of three decades and I’m still alive. What I really don’t like is how it affects other people, I feel guilty that other people worry about me. Never mind the fact that a man never wants to look “fragile” to his girlfriend.

Over the past two years I’ve trained my lungs to not wheeze. I only get an asthma “attack” (low severity) when I do something very strenuous AND I’m around an allergen (like running a mile through a sea of pollen). In a controlled environment I’ve trained my lungs to be just about as healthy and robust as anyone else’s – and I’m much better than someone who isn’t physically fit. However, one freaking little wrapped up piece of meat and I have no control over what happens in my body. For all the healthy things I try to do (eat a healthy lunch/dinner, work out every day, etc.) – it is the most frustrating thing in the world to be abandoned by my own body that I’ve tried to treat so well. Thus furthering the distance between my mind and body, we have sort of a handshake relationship instead of a wholeness.

and even now my stomach growls again. do I trust him?

andrew and eve

andrew and eve

On Christmas Eve I was one of the (must be) 1% of Americans with an office job that actually had to show up for work. Afterwards I went to Beverly and George’s Christmas party. Nick (her coworker), Justin and Shirley (George’s girlfriend) also came. We played rock band and Scene It, interrupted by a feast of Chinese food and chicken wings. A photo exists somewhere of me on a couch with my eyes closed.

one day soon…one day

one day soon…one day

Last night I had some of the best chinese food (not home cooked) ever at Hop Li’s in West Los Angeles. The orange peel chicken is most excellent as is the curry “soup” (thick enough to eat as a regular dish) and even the seafood soup was well done with finely fried fish filet. A group of five can be satiated for just about $60 (with food to take home).

But what am I really posting about? Byron, I hope you’re listening buddy… I just found the new “Refine Edge” function in Photoshop CS3. ….god, how many countless hours this tool would have saved me in the last eight years!

I spoke with my Aunt yesterday (to wish her a happy birthday) and was surprised that she had read somewhere on this blog that I said something to the effect of “christians are stupid” I was taken aback, but she was sort of right because I found this post from only twenty days ago.

Belief in unseen forces is one thing. After all- we ARE guided by unseen forces. Anyone who doubts this should read this book. Despite her girly website Lynne brings up some compelling arguments – or evidence rather (as 80% of the book simply describes a multitude of scientific experiments on the nature of quantum mechanics) that George Lucas’ The Force is a something very real and the Zero Point Field is the closest thing we have to God. I found the timing of my conversation (or anti-conversation as it were – we quickly segwayed into something more palatable) very curious as I’d only finished The Field 24 hours prior.

Mi Cash

Mi Cash

Sunday I met up with Beverly and her father at Mi Piace (warning – their website tries to hijack your screen… twice!) in Pasadena. We were joined by three of her friends from high school. The food was good, but in small quantities. The restaurant tries to sell itself as a high class Italian restaurant/lounge/bar. The illusion is shattered though when you ask where the restroom is and you have to leave the restaurant, walk down the hall in the adjacent office building and read handwritten signs about which bathroom is currently operational.

Afterwards I followed Beverly to an Asian karaoke place called “cash box.” I note that it is “Asian karaoke” because this iteration of karaoke is drastically different than the typical cracker karaoke bar. In Asian style karaoke a group reserves a private room with food and drink service. I’d experienced this once before in Korea Town with Kent.

Beverly had picked Cash Box because there was an identically named chain of karaoke clubs overseas that is world renowned… This cash box though turned out to be a conversion from someones home (or small business?) complete with bad carpeting, cramped rooms, unfinished ceilings and holes in the wall. You know you aren’t in Kansas anymore when you have to select “Foreign” on the video menu to find songs with English lyrics. Luckily I was able to skip out of singing anything as it was pushing past 11pm and I had a 40 mile drive home.

Music Market

Music Market

Saturday (the daylight) was mostly spent dealing with one bad customer service experience that I’m not at liberty to mention just yet. In the midst of waiting for returned phone calls I decided to do a Dell chat to fix my issue with Vista Aero. For whatever reason – Aero had not worked when I tried to turn it on – and then dissappeared from the appearance options altogether after that. After two chat sessions and a rather lengthy (almost 90 minutes) remote desktop session the problem couldn’t be figured out. The best the Dell could do was tell me to roll back my system to the purchase date and that my problem was “really weird.”

After all that was over I found the name of my video card – googled it with “Aero problems” and found a page from one of Microsoft’s Vista developers. The blog pointed me to a download page for the latest Invidia Vista drivers. I downloaded the driver and… Aero! So after over two hours with a “support specialist” I figured it out on my own in five minutes. It is still wonky though – turning itself off whenever I try to run the cable tv software – and then back on again when I close the software.

Saturday night I went to The Grove with Beverly and her father. Around Christmas The Grove goes all-out with a holiday theme complete with old-timey street musicians, snow blowers from the rooftops, a 110 foot Christmas tree, Santa (okay, so every mall has a Santa) and a trolley featuring a music and dance show by “sexy elves.” We agreed the dance show was a little bizarre.

After trying to maneuver through the crowd for a while and watching the trolley show we headed to the adjacent farmer’s market. Beverly and I ate Cajun cuisine (yes, mom, the same place) while we watched three live bands. Merle Jagger was a fast-finger picking country band, very authentic and very good. A fine compliment to fried Alligator tail and Jambalaya.

Saucy Monkey was next and despite naming themselves after what sounds like a line from Austin Powers was only mildly disappointing. At times doing their best impression Kim Deal leading Verruca Salt and others Stretch Princess with more distortion.

The last band, 50 cent haircut‘s only redeeming quality was the (unintentionally) goofy expressions on their bass player’s face. Each member of the band was desperately trying to accomplish being the “cool rock star.” Beverly commented before they played a single note that they couldn’t be good because they were “too good looking.” She was half right. The music wasn’t bad, per se, just boring – and the no member of the band made any attempt to connect with the audience – always looking down or into the distance, you can’t underestimate the impact of this disconnection on the success or failure of a gig.

Who donut?

Who donut?

Thursday night I attended the United Kingdom Trade and Investment division holiday party at the Punch Grill. It was a themed party where everyone had to solve a murder and played a character the whole night. What I knew ahead of time and nobody else did was that my character (a high class attorney about to be named partner) was going to die before dinner. What I didn’t know is that when I was given a new character after death (as is the custom in this game) I would be come “Georgio, the gigolo.” I prayed someone would murder me again. No luck though. My new character was an “extra”; meaning he didn’t play an important role in the play. As such for a few hours nobody really had any reason to talk to me (no clues to give anyway- and their instructions didn’t mention me) – so I tried to learn how to say a few words in Mandarin from Beverly’s father (who was experiencing a similar lack of attention).

“Cha” means fork, by the way.

The setting and the food was (if I may quote the imitable William S. Preston Esquire) most excellent. I was informed early on that the restaurant did not use peanuts or peanut oil in any of it’s dishes, which left me free to gobble on every appetizer without discretion. The main course was (by choice) steak, vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. Desert was some kind of chocolate fudge concoction in a coffee cup.

Beverly’s character had been the office secretary (who happens to be sleeping with Ben – the attorney). The rubber band around the bridge of the glasses was my idea 😉

This is me dead (note the santa hat)

Mackle Jordan

Mackle Jordan

“Mack” Xu played amateur basketball for 19 years in China while following the exploits of American NBA players on television. He even borrowed part of Michael Jordan’s name when deciding on an English name when all Chinese businessman started to need them. For half his life (which means about thirty years) he had a dream of going to an NBA game. Sunday his daughter made that happen. We went to the Clippers vs. Heat game. The Clippers almost pulled off the upset over Shaq and “D-Wade”, tying several times in the last few minutes – but couldn’t hold on and lost by four points.

The halftime entertainment was Duo Design. Despite the heat from the flames we were able to enjoy their athleticism and flexibility.

And then we watched a fat guy try to shovel $6,000 from one foul shot line to the other in 60 seconds….

That is Shaq under the net.

After the game we went back to Beverly’s apartment. We rented Pirates of the Caribbean part 3 and ordered pizza. I’m sure the unintelligible mess of a screenplay was no easier for us to understand than for Beverly’s father (who doesn’t speak English). “Pirates” has always been a remarkable piece of “make-it-up-as-we-go-along” screen writing.

So, Calypso’s way of getting revenge on the pirates for imprisoning her was to… turn into a bunch of crabs and jump into the sea? Why did the Chinese guy think the white girl was Calypso when every other pirate knew exactly who she was?And…when Calypso was a bunch of crabs and Davey Jones was a man…they were in love…so… a man was in love with…crabs? (are they saying Davey Jones has crabs?) What are boons? (other than a way to say “balls” in a PG-13 movie) Why did Will and the waify white girl who doesn’t belong in the movie get married? I thought they hated each other. Why does Jack keep seeing multiple instances of himself all the time? Why were there crabs on the salt lake (was that Calypso?)…and why did they sacrifice themselves to help Jack? Why did Keith Richards look healthier as a 100 year old pirate than as a 64 year old man? These questions and more will NOT be answered when you watch this movie.

Gettin’ there

Gettin’ there

Saturday I joined Beverly and her father for a trip to the Getty Center. I’d been there many times before – but never in the winter. The changing exhibits were all video installations (which we all agreed were a waste of time). In one of the buildings there was a “classroom” setting where “students” could take a set of drawing utensils and paper and draw a few statues. We decided to draw each other instead.

After the Getty we made a long trek to Alhambra to eat dinner at an “authentic” chinese restaurant. It must be authentic because her father (straight from China without a lick of English) agreed it tasted like home. After dinner came a protracted conversation (Beverly getting lots of practice for her translation-services part-time business) about business opportunities between America and China.

After dinner Beverly and I tried (unsuccessfully) to get her father’s Chinese language laptop to connect to her neighbor’s wireless connection.

technologic

technologic

Those of you that have ever talked to me about technology know my opinion on where computing is going. What my position is is that from a software/OS point of view we will no longer be bound to a “computer” but simply log in to “virtual” machines from any machine connected to the internet. This will be enabled by the fact that Gigabit networks will be in place as well as (much faster) WiFi and display technologies much cheaper and more pliable. This will start off with us accessing our own hardware from afar (already starting with the new windows Home Server platform/hardware), but eventually we will just pay for server space somewhere instead of buying hardware. Our monitors at home will simply connect to the internet to stream “our” content off of the server somewhere else. This concept is already in place on a small scale with home networking of multimedia hardware.

Within ten years we’ll have access to our personal information no matter where we are in the (1st) world. Display panels will be so thin and flexible we could have them drop down and cover entire walls (or be the wall itself) – or simply be stretched in a concave fashion from each side of our peripheral vision to the other. Cell phones as we know them may become obsolete as any public place will be able to transmit information (visual as well as audio) to any other. Cell phones may resort to high-tech beepers enabling you to take the call (whole phone will clip onto your ear) or go to the nearest monitor station to see the person and receive the call over the internet. Most of the functions of the current hardware would be replaced by software accessed through biometric security at public or home display systems.

I could go on all day about this stuff – but I recently ran across a newsweek article that validates these thoughts as Bill Gates is planning to integrate these ideas into Windows version 7 (due out in 2010). Read on:

“We can use Live Services to know what you’re interested in. So even if you drop by a [public] kiosk or somebody else’s PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things. So that’s kind of the user-centric thing that Live Services can enable. [Also,] in Vista, things got a lot better with [digital] ink and speech, but by the next release there will be a much bigger bet.”[i][/i]