Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Teenage Hi Jinx

Michael Yon's Online Magazine provides a riveting story of teenage hi jinx that reminds me of Huck Finn with a dash of Rambo. Here's an excerpt:

"Gators often swallow their prey whole, but if it’s too big, they will violently rip it to pieces by shaking their heads or spinning in the water. Sometimes they hide their catch on the bottom under a log until it rots, or keep it between their jaws while it softens. Gators are not normally aggressive toward people, but this was nighttime and we were literally swimming with them. The threat they represented was very real. I was becoming seriously afraid, more so than I had imagined, and wanted to turn around. This was truly stupid, I thought, but we kept going."

You can read the whole thing HERE.

Have a great 4th of July and remember those who can't make the BBQ because they're off on some pretty ugly business.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

I am NOT Maudlin...

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Philosophical Connundrums

Consider the following from a great article in the San Diego Reader this week, the full article is here: Philosophy Majors Sit Around and Think About Things

"Sentence one: Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly.

Sentence two: Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent can fly. "

"Sentence one is true. Sentence two is false, because Lois Lane doesn't know that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same person. From this, it seems reasonable to conclude that it's the substitution of the name "Superman" for "Clark Kent" that changes the sentence from true to false. Let's call that our intuition. And let's call the truth or falsity of a sentence its truth value Simple enough."

“… The first: Proper names that refer to the same thing have the same meaning. In this case, "Superman" and "Clark Kent" mean the same thing, since they both refer to the same person. The second principle: "Embedding a proper name in a belief context does not change its meaning." That is, putting "Superman" and "Clark Kent" in sentences about Lois Lane's beliefs doesn't change the meaning of "Superman" and "Clark Kent." Got it. And for principle number three: "The meaning of a sentence comes from its structure and from the meaning of its parts."

Now -- "If we accept that sentences with the same meaning must have the same truth value" -- a reasonable claim in Niemeyer's opinion -- "then the truth value of the sentences must be one and the same." So, because sentence one and sentence two mean the same thing, they must have the same truth value. But our intuition was that they did not have the same truth value.”

Fair enough. For sentence two to be false is should read “Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent cannot fly”. Obviously, because we know Superman and Clark Kent are the same person. But if we had no pre-existing notion of Superman or Clark Kent, then would sentence one and sentence two be true?

No, because Superman and Clark Kent are still a priori the same person. I doesn’t matter what we believe for something to be true because truth exists outside our perception. Much like 2 plus 2 equals 4. This equation is true even if we change the names of the objects.

Another interesting tidbit from the article:
"In it, she places herself on the side of Aristotle and other philosophers who favor "the hypothesis that mental functions map onto a certain kind of physical organization. That is, they are brain activities." She opposes this to the view of thinkers like Plato, who embraced "the idea that the mind cannot be a physical thing but must be ontologically distinct from the physical brain." She pricked the mind-folk for not being able to explain how a "nonphysical soul (or nonphysical properties) can have effects on the physical world without violating the law of conservation of mass-energy." And she suggested that they were clinging to the "folk intuition that brain activity and mental experiences are too different to permit a neural explanation of mental events."

So tell me, how does “thought” violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics? How does thought impact the physical world? Unless, thought then translates into action, but that is something altogether different in my mind. No pun intended. In what way, does neural activity generate thought? It is (at least at this point in time) an unprovable theory. In order, to absolutely hold that thought is a function of neural activity, you would have to prove that thought ceases when neural activity ceases. But in order to do that, you’d have ask a dead person wouldn’t you?

Interesting article, I suggest you read the whole thing.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

You'll need a kleenex for this...

You'll want to turn the volume all the way up

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

It gets me every time...

I adore song lyrics. Amazing lyrics backed by great music gets me every time. Here's a list (undoubtedly incomplete) of some of my favorites. I challenge you, if you don't know them already, to listen to these songs and hear the words in context. I will accept the challenge in turn, so please respond with your own!

"And I won't sleep through this
I survive on the breath you are finished with"
~John Mayer "Come Back to Bed"

"But if you could...do you think you would
Trade it all, all the pain and suffering?
But then you'd miss
The beauty of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of the leaving"
~Jane Sibbery "Calling All Angels"

"You tell me where to go and
Though I might leave to find it
I'll never let your head hit the bed
Without my hand behind it"
~John Mayer "Your Body is a Wonderland"

"Let me climb up you to the top
So I can see the view from up there
Tangled in your hair"
~Dave Matthews Band "Let You Down"

"I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet"
~Joni Mitchell "A Case of You"

"There's a girl in New York City,
Who calls herself the human trampoline,
And sometimes when I'm falling flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Woah so this is what she means,
She means we're bouncing into Graceland,
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you're blown apart,
Everybody feels the wind blow"
~Paul Simon "Graceland"

"Your coat was old, ragged and worn
And you wore it down through the ages
Ah, the sufferin' did show in your eyes as we spoke
And the gospel music
The voice of Mahalia Jackson came through the ether
Oh my common one with the coat so old
And the light in the head
Said, daddy, don't stroke me
Call me the common one.
I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
Oh my high in the art of sufferin' one.
Take a walk with me
Take a walk with me down by Avalon"
~Van Morrison "Summertime in England"

"Fat man sitting on a little stool
Takes the money from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you
Hands me the ticket smiles and whispers good luck
Cuddle up angel cuddle up my little dove
We'll ride down baby into this tunnel of love"
~Bruce Springsteen "Tunnel of Love"

"The runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Fat lady, big mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn
As the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
Circus town's been born"
~Bruce Springsteen "Wild Billy's Circus Story"

"And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
'Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite
And I don't know why'
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again."
~Van Morrison "Sweet Thing"

"There's a dream where the contents are visible
Where the poetic champions compose
Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy, and
Will you still be my special rose"
~Van Morrison "Queen of the Slipstream"

"All along the watchtower,
Princess kept the view
While all the women came and went,
Barefoot servants too.
Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl"
~Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan "All Along the Watchtower"

"The rock candy's melted, only diamonds now remain"
~John Mayer "Clarity"

"Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground"
~Dave Matthews Band "Bartender"

"No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden"
~Van Morrison "In the Garden"

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Che Bella Nido has a new website

Check it out and tell us what you think. Click on the sign.
Nothing follows

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Universal Cuteness

Is there a country in the world where this wouldn't elicit an "awwwwwww"?!

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Last Weekend - Part Two


Well we arrived downtown a wee bit early, so naturally we stopped at the closest watering hole for a drink. We had an interesting Chardonnay (at least I think it was a Chardonnay), what made it interesting was the bouquet. It was reminiscent of Feta cheese, but actually was quite nice on the palate. I cannot stand Feta cheese, but really love Chardonnay; it was an interesting dichotomy hard on the nose, pleasant on the tongue. I managed.
We met the remainder of our party of 10 at the bar, finished our drinks and moseyed on up to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

A little background: This event was an annual fundraiser for St. Joseph’s Center, an organization providing services to needy families and individuals; you can read more about them here. This soiree was in fact their annual fundraiser, so prior to assembling at our table we took a pre-auction tour. Conveniently, there was a wine/beer bar located strategically throughout the silent auction area, so glass in hand we took a stroll through the stuff. There were a lot of travel items, most well beyond our price range, others places we had no interest in going to. We did find a “Sideways” tour that looked promising, which La bid on and eventually won. I had my sites on the iPod, starting bid at $160.00, I placed my bid and would wander back from time to time to see if I had been out bid yet. For the first 30 minutes or so, everything looked good, but we were early and as the crowd increased, I noticed that I had been out bid by a large margin. Oh well. We also, bid on a couple of art pieces – one a photograph taken on Venice Beach, the other an abstract painting in tones of silver, a quiet ethereal piece. I have no idea how much we paid for them, I suppose I’ll find out when I receive the AMEX bill.

The agenda for the night’s festivities was dinner, speeches and awards during dinner, auctioning off the cool stuff, and dancing.

Dinner was really quite good, filet mignon and … to tell you the truth I can’t remember what came with it. The dessert was pretty good too.

Now the award was kind of surreal. It was for lack of a better description – The Most Improved This Year award. It was given to a 57 year old gentleman who just happened to have a 7 year old son. No mention of a “Missus”, I’ll go out on a limb here and state the child was born out of wedlock. They showed a short video of this gentlemen being interviewed by one of their caseworkers, he stated things were going pretty well, although after he got his first job he injured his back two weeks into it and was now on Worker’s Compensation. He hopes to be off disability soon so he can get back to work and care for his son.

I’m staring at the screen incredulous.

After the video, there was resounding applause and the MC, who is this lady:

Asks him to come up to receive his award, at which point he trundles up the stairs (with his kid if I remember correctly), says a little speech and afterwards receives a standing O from a significant chunk of the audience.

You know I used to defend Los Angelenos, as I was raised in LA, but it really says something about their mindset and/or expectations when a old man who has fathered a child, goes to work only to get injured in his first two weeks, then goes on state disability to receive a most improved award.

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

So we got that out of the way, now it was time for the cut throat stuff – the auction. The auctioneer was a trollish, balding sort of a fella who I must say to his credit had a good auctioneering cadence to his voice. Being short, he had stringers throughout the party to alert him that someone raised their paddle.

I’ve never been to an auction before and it was fun to watch. I wasn’t about to bid on anything but I must say I admired Lady Voldemorts courage and tenacity. There were several times when she bid and I looked over and I thought – “are you out of your mind?” Only later, at the Après Soiree did I learn she was just trying to up the bid. See I would NEVER do that. You know why? Because I’d be the hapless schmuck to get stuck with the bid, that’s why.

The highlight of the auction was an eight person trip to Idaho in a private Leer jet, kindly donated by LA’s last mayor with a pronounceable name – Richard Riordan. As a matter of fact it was his house. I’m not sure where bidding started, but the Lady raised her little paddle at 14K, and I gave her another one of those looks… But hoping she’d win in case maybe La and I got an invitation. Alas, it was not to be over at the other side of the room another paddle went up for a bid of 16K.

Going once. Going Twice. Going Threeeeeeeee Times….

Sooooooooollllld to the man in the lovely tuxedo at table 16!

Much later in the evening, I noticed the gentlemen from table 16 having a confab with the Lady. It turns out he’s the Director of St. Joe’s, and the ex-Mayor had placed a condition of his donation, namely that he’d match the bid amount on anything over 20K. So the gentleman in the tux from table 16 was trying to up the bid!

Hah! Now he’s the hapless schmuck who got stuck with it! I hope St. Joe’s pays well.

I kinda doubt it.

One thought on the Grand Dame – the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, it’s been around a good long time, the last time I was there I was fifteen or so to see George M starring Joel Grey. I say this because today the Pavilion has a quality much like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. I don’t mean to say as has been or washed up or anything like that, more that its grandeur is recognizable but under a patina of old age and perhaps neglect. In the back bar, you can tell the Hollywood glitterati of old used to gather there for Manhattans and cigarettes. The art on the walls are oddly anachronistic – on one wall an early Frank Stella, on another a rustic three dimensional fishing village scene that appears to made of driftwood. Strange, Romantic and Melancholy all rolled into one.

Our group in typical fashion was the last to leave. We bundled up our stuff we bid on and tumbled down to street level like a bunch of well dressed puppies to await our limo. It turned up in good time, we all piled in and from somewhere out of the blue a bottle of wine appeared. Life’s good.

La and I would like to publicly thank the Lord and Lady for their immense generosity. They paid for the table and the limo. It was truly a wonderful evening!

Next: Le Après Soiree.

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For Nick

Poor soul's never heard of Ry Cooder, here's a sample:

Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse

Little Sister ( LP Version )

The Borgeois Blues (LP Version)

and finally

Always Lift Him Up/Kanaka Wai Wai (LP Version)

Nothing follows

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Last Weekend - Part One

We still haven’t figured out what that story I was going to post is, chalk it up to old age. The following will have to suffice.

Anyway, we did have a lovely weekend. Friday night we had dinner with a couple of old friends whom we haven’t seen in quite some time. We had a great dinner at a local bistro which is immediately downstairs from our place, which is altogether way too convenient if you know what I mean. After dinner, we adjourned back upstairs to get caught up on everyone’s life, drank wine, and even had a civilized political discussion, which I enjoyed because it is such a rare thing these days. After several bottles of wine we decided that it was best to call it an evening, I think it was around one am.

One of these friends gave me my first real opportunity in my previous corporate life, and I will be forever grateful. He’s a great friend, and I’m going to make sure we keep in touch.

Saturday, we had to get up way too early to be out of the house by 9:00 am for our trip to LA. We live in San Diego; LA’s a two hour drive north or if you drive like me 90 minutes. We arrived at the Voldemoors' around 11:30 am (we had to stop at McDucks in San Clemente as I was starving – it’s Pavlovian – we always stop there), it’s hugs and kisses all around and we were lucky enough to get a parking space right in front of their house. It’s Manhattan Beach and parking is more of a problem than in Little Italy.

La and Lady Voldemoor had an appointment for a manny/peddy, and the Lord informed me that he had committed to a neighbor to move some furniture, but it should only take a few minutes. Great. He said, that because I was wearing such a nice shirt, I really didn’t have to do any heavy lifting. Great! So the girls go off, and we walk to the neighbors, the Lord knocks and knocks on the door, a huge barking sound emanating from behind the door. I had met this dog before, so I wasn’t nervous. Not that I’m nervous around dogs, but… well, you just never know do you? So his neighbor opens the front door after what seemed a long time and we make the introductions and as we enter the home, “J” tells me to be careful as the dog jumps – OK. So whilst I’m guarding my upper torso against a possible 85 pound projectile, the dog “Nef” lunges like a torpedo out of German U-Boat right into my groin! The effect was instantaneous and painful.

OOOF! Doubling over as the word escaped my mouth, not so much a conscious articulation; as air being forced out my body, past the surprised vocal cords, and tongue and lips (equally surprised and not in position to make cogent vocalizations).

J says, “Oh man, I’m really sorry. Nef NO!”

Unnggh, No worries.

I managed to quickly recover, and we moved to the upstairs back portion of the duplex to inspect the furniture. Two large sofas, an armoire and what looked like an architectural drawing file cabinet. Each piece looked to be about a thousand pounds a piece. It reminded me of our last home; we had a hide a bed in the “library” and an upright grand piano in the living room. There was no way, we wanted to move either of those pieces so we included them in the counter offer and they went for it!

J is a great guy by the way, although he talks like Jack Kerouac’s prose in Subterranean, rapidly with no punctuation and no paragraphs.

As I had the great shirt, I didn’t have to lift anything but feeling a little guilty about just standing around I took the pillows off the couches and brought them down to the garage to await their compadres. It was at this time I noticed the staircase leading off a ninety degree angle from the front door, it’s about 32” wide and rises steeply at about a fifteen degree angle, and I’m thinking – How the hell are they going to get the stuff down the stairs? Not to mention the immediate left turn at the bottom of the stairs into a hallway about 36” wide into a 30" wide door about 2 feet from the left turn.

One couch was about 8 feet long and just cumbersome, it had to be tilted on its side and hung over the entranceway landing about four feet just to get the ass end out of the house, turned again and made the slow trip down the staircase. Unfortunately, once at the landing they couldn’t fit the couch through the garage’s rear entrance. So a little later they had to carry it around the block and bring it through the garage front entrance. The other couch was a modern version of a hide a bed, I say modern because it had wheels and the bed didn’t pop out from within the couch, rather it had a mechanism where the back of the couch folded backwards to make the bed, pretty clever but problematic when you’re trying to move it as the back kept want to “lay down”. The couch managed to behave on the way down the staircase, but once they made the landing it decided it was nap time, and whoosh the back folded outwards and locked in place. We conferred a minute, and decided it was best to bring the couch into the living room of the front duplex; once it was placed we could not figure out how to get the back in its upright position again. We pulled, we tugged, we looked underneath, we stood up and scratched our heads…

This went on for about ten minutes.

Finally, we noticed that we’d been pulling on the front of the couch NOT the back. We gave the back a quick pull and up she went.

Thankfully, J said we didn’t have to move the armoire that day. This was a good thing because they both had lost about 10 pounds of water. So we all had a beer to replenish our bodily fluids. After making short shrift of the beers the Lord and I departed to meet up with the girls for lunch. We’d be seeing J later that evening at the grand soiree at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

We had lunch at a lively Tapas Restaurant at Hermosa Beach Pier. Now if you’re familiar with that neck of the woods, but haven’t been there in… let’s say 20 years, I can tell you it’s changed A LOT. The first thing that you notice is that the road has been closed at Highland and Pier, now it is an esplanade of some sort. There are some of the originals still there though, The Lighthouse is still there, but it looks a bit more upscale than when La and I used to go there, the church pews are gone replaced by what appears to be belly bars. I’m not sure because the Neanderthal bouncer wouldn’t let me get that close of a look, that’s new too. There are many, many bars that cater to the 20 something crowd. The Poopdeck is still there, with the same clients from way back when, although they’ve aged a bit. They’ve made quite a bit of improvements to the pier itself, it’s much nicer today than when we used to hang out there. Although, the crowd hasn’t changed much, they’ve just more disposable income.

On the east side of Highland on Pier the Either Or Bookstore is gone, replaced by colorful little boutiques. It makes me a little melancholy as that was one of the best bookstores in LA County, reminiscent of San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore. It was the Either Or that introduced me to Kerouac, Herman Hesse and Carlos Castaneda. There was also a dive Mexican restaurant there called El Yaqui (or El Yucchee) that we used to frequent, everything they served was under a quarter inch of grease, but it was cheap!

We finished our lunch with just enough time to spare to get La to her facial appointment.

The Lord, Lady and I went back to their place to chill a bit before getting ready for the big event.

I’m not sure how but the day seemed to get away from us, after we picked up La from the facialist it seemed there was very little time to get ready before the Limo arrived. So we rushed around and managed to make the 4:30 arrival time of our chariot with a few minutes to spare. Everyone looked all sparkly and shiny; it’s fun to get dressed up sometimes. “R” another neighbor of the Lord and Lady met us at the house, an altogether nice guy who’s a partner in a retail toy business; followed a short while later by J. We piled into the limo and we were off for our grand event.

to be continued...

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I'm working on a post that's taking me a bit longer than I anticipated, so I'll leave you with this..

The moral? Always check the title before popping in the video, and even then you're not always quite sure.

Hat Tip: Jeff and Jer

Nothing follows.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A great story!

La and I were talking last night over a glass of wine, and had a great story for the blog. Unfortunately, today neither of us can remember what we were talking about.


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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Botanic Verses

Relaxing with the latest version of Encyclopedia Botanica.


Had to try out my new scanner.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Little or no posting from me this weekend

Going to LA for a tony soiree at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. Courtesy of Lord and Lady Voldemore. Maybe, some of our prodigal Residents will post this weekend and take up some of the slack. Let's hope so.

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Yesterday was a Blue Moon


Again, from Wikipedia

"The term blue moon has at least four related meanings. One is a common metaphorical phrase for a rare event. Full moons are given names in folklore, and two definitions of blue moon are a name for a rare full moon that does not have a folk name. One modern blue moon definition is a result of a misinterpretation of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, where a second full moon occurs in a calendar month. The older definition of blue moon is for an extra full moon that occurs in a quarter of the year, which would normally have three full moons, but sometimes has four. Oddly, it is the third full moon in a season that has four which is counted as the "extra" full moon and named blue moon. According to certain folklore, it is said that when there is a blue moon, the moon has a face and talks to the items in its moonlight."

or you just have a crappy day.

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White Rabbit, White Rabbit!

How many of you say that first thing in the morning on the first day of the month? We do.

From Wikipedia:

"The exact origin of the superstition is certainly unknown, though it has appeared in print at least as early as 1420 in England, where it is most commonly said to have originated, though some reports place its origins even earlier, into the 1200s. Today it has spread to most of the English-speaking countries of the world, although like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. "

Read the rest here

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pretty Cool

Look for it in November. Here's an article reviewing Microsoft Surface.

But where's the CTRL-ALT-DEL button?

UPDATE: I'm not sure if this is a high tech toy, or it can actually perform work.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

One Fat Lip and a Bruised Shin Bone later...

It's axiomatic in baseball that you MUST always stay in front of the ball (as an infielder) better to get beaned and have the ball drop in front of you than move to the left or right and allow the ball to get out of the infield. That concept is probably the hardest thing to teach to youngsters as they're learning the game. The mind has a natural inclination to avoid an eight ounce object hurtling toward you at 100+mph. As a matter of honor I never dodge the ball.

So it was on Sunday that we all packed up and went to Balboa Park for a game of "catch", did a couple of illegal things like drinking wine, beer and smoking cigarettes. It was a thrill I can tell you, as you might of guessed from a previous post I was on the lookout for the mounted police. Luckily, they did not show up.

After we'd bivouacked, I pick up my mitt and called to my brother to toss the ball around. My brother is a very good ball player although he admits to not picking up a baseball in a couple of years. It's a beautiful day in America's Finest City (San Diego) in a lovely pastoral setting (homeless folks notwithstanding) and we're enjoying America's Favorite pastime.

When you're playing catch you start off slow and close... to get warmed up.
Gradually, you drift farther and farther apart and start throwing the ball harder. That's how it works. No sense throwing out your arm in the first five minutes. After about 10 minutes, we're warmed up, now we're experimenting with knuckle balls, change ups, sliders, curves, et al. All in all we're having a great time.

As happens in this "game", a throw will occasionally get away from you. My brother throws a fast ball in the dirt, my honor at stake I stay in front of the ball but the ball misses the mitt. Instead, a 75mph (he'll dispute the speed) short hopped into my right shin bone.

Jeez, that hurt! !

Gawd, that more than hurt! ! !

Walk it off...

Don't be a wuss.

Alright, I'll be okay. So, we continue the game but to make it more interesting my brothers' son decides to join the fracas. Of course that is totally OK, we must as men (and fathers) hand down the great tradition of baseball to our progeny, he's new to baseball but seems a natural, unfortunately (and I'm not sure if it was the beer or the sun) his first throw to me missed the pocket of the mitt. Instead, the ball hit the heal of the glove (much like a foul tip- which has a tendency of accelerating the ball) and hit me right in the upper lip.

Jeez, that hurt! ! !

Gawd, that more than hurt! ! ! ! !

Walk it off...

Don't be a wuss.

Still, I trudged on and after about 20 minutes my brother was getting tired (well, we were both getting tired) and he started to lose control. Now I found myself in the "backstop" position, i.e., taking hits everywhere. Wrists, ankles, etc... My brother had sufficiently psyched himself out and had completely lost control.

Hey, it happens to everybody. Ask Trevor.

Today it's Tuesday. My shin is swollen, the lip has gone down, my wrists feel like James Caan's ankles in Misery.

Nothin' a bottle of Alleve won't cure.

My honor is intact and I am the Man!

Am I too old for this sh*t?

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Gimme Shoes

Check out Manolo's Shoe Blog No, it's not THE Manolo, but you won't be disappointed.

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Cats vs. Dogs...Who's Funnier?

Excerpts from a Dog's Daily Diary:

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:00 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary:

Day 683 of my captivity: My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use
it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded! The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe....... For now...

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Thank You

Today is Memorial Day, a day of reflection and a time to say thank you to those who have fallen in service to our country. As you head out the door today for the family picnic or barbeque, please take a moment and pray for those families who've lost loved ones and for a successful conclusion to the current troubles in Iraq. I don't have enough words to describe how thankful I am for the freedom that I and my family enjoys. So I'll let someone else do the talkin' for me.

Danny Boy

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place;
and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing,
fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
God Bless them. And you.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Morning

This is one of my favorite Bob Marley and the Wailers tunes. Enjoy!

Sunday Morning

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gestalt Therapy

If I hear/see (fill in the blank) on more time, I'm gonna ...

I'll start...

Say, didn't this shop used to be that candle store?

Your turn.

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The Real Jack Sparrow

"His name was Bartholomew Roberts. The most successful raider in the history of piracy, he took prisoner an astounding 470 vessels, and so renowned was his ferocity that many of those ships were surrendered to him without a fight.
Black Bart was the nickname he was given - and not only because of his black locks and dark eyes. When this swashbuckling Welsh buccaneer had to fight for his prizes, he was merciless. "

Read the entire article here

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Remember that book?

Have you ever come across a reference to a book you read 30 + years ago? Wish you could remember the context of the book? Now you can. Here's a site a came across today that provides synopses on "old books".

It's called the Lost Books Archives.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

File this under Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole

"PETERSBURG, Ky. — The entrance gates here are topped with metallic Stegosauruses. The grounds include a giant tyrannosaur standing amid the trees, and a stone-lined lobby sports varied sauropods. It could be like any other natural history museum, luring families with the promise of immense fossils and dinosaur adventures.

But step a little farther into the entrance hall, and you come upon a pastoral scene undreamt of by any natural history museum. Two prehistoric children play near a burbling waterfall, thoroughly at home in the natural world. Dinosaurs cavort nearby, their animatronic mechanisms turning them into alluring companions, their gaping mouths seeming not threatening, but almost welcoming, as an Apatosaurus munches on leaves a few yards away. "

The entire article is here:

I've never had a problem reconciling Genesis with Science, and evolution. As a matter of fact, I see a wonderful symmetry in "Let there be light", and the Big Bang. It is possible to believe in a Creator and be scientific at the same time. It's too bad this organization spent so much money to provide what is essentially a strange amusement park because I think they missed an opportunity to show how religion and science can co-exist rather than being mutually exclusive. It's also dangerous as some people will actually believe that humans and dinosaurs existed together.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Congratulations to Che Bella!

For winning a spot in San Diego Magazine's Best of San Diego 2007 as Best Upscale Garden Shop.
The June issue isn't on the newstands yet, but we've just received an advance copy. Thank you to the staff of San Diego Magazine and their readers for this honor we're just tickled pink!

By the way, if you caught May's issue of San Diego Magazine the W Hotel's Rice Restaurant is on the front cover. Check out the cool florals (eccheveria). Che Bella's work, naturally.

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Tell us what you really think.

This is an interesting blog by teachers on university life.

Check it out it's pretty funny.

Update: Students weigh in too.

Rate Your Students

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Who Knew?

The latest use for an iPod

Update: Apparently Apple isn't very happy about it.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Creatures of the Deep

Very cool photos of creatures in the deepest parts of the sea. I remember being fascinated as a kid reading a book with all these mysterious looking creatures. Second only to dinosaurs.

The photo's are here

Hat Tip: Popular Science Blog

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Hey, All You Ugly Guys

There's hope for you yet....

but you have to move to England.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007


What a guitar!

Update: A great history on the National Guitar.

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More from the Animal Kingdom (sort of)

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Cat Nation

If you're a cat person, you'll love this site.

Hat Tip: Pajamas Media

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Summertime Summertime Sum Sum Summertime

Hat tip: Tomarra's Blog

"This is for a ClosetFruit Friend-o-mine. Actually he's a summer fruit eater I'm still working on getting him to accept the joyous release of allowing his fruitier side to shine through.

Also it's an ode to every scrumptious neighborhood farmers market - get out there and consume your local organics everybody!

Also it's an homage to my SanDiegoAdoptedMama - Carla is as succulent as the juicy gems which she so freely serves up.

**RawFood Strawberry Cheesecake**

-Pick the ripest most fragrant perfectly ruby-red strawberries you can find from your local U-Pick or the motherlode stand around the corner from your crib. - Get yo'self a tub of creme fraiche (or sour cream will do perfectly in a white-trash-pinch), and a thingy of dark brown sugar (the browner the better - just like me @ the end of summer )

- Dip the bottom half in the creme - and then in the sugar

- Eat That Berry! (and then the next-n-the-next-n-the-next infinity)

Voila. Perfect Strawberry Summer Smiles for you and your

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Stuff that 20 somethings have no clue about

I was shaving this morning with my five blade razor (which gives a great shave)thinking I haven't knicked myself in years. It occurred to me that our newest generation of 20somethings probably have never knicked themselves shaving. Which naturally got me to thinking what else there was that has gone the way of the dodo and is completely out of their reality. I've compiled a list here, maybe you'd like to add to it.

The good old double edged safety razor.

Which naturally led to using this.

How about a rotary dial phone. Analog anyone?

God I loved the smell of mimeograph paper, it almost made the quiz worthwhile.

I haven't seen one of these babies in years!

or carbon paper for that matter. God I can remember getting most of the way through typing a document only to make a mistake and have to do the whole damn thing over again.

I really hated keypunch cards! One mis-stroke and you screwed the whole program. It took hours to find the bad card.

How many remember the old man in the back of TV looking for the bad vacuum tube. Worrying he might just electrocute himself.

and then taking the tube down to the drugstore to test it.

So what have I missed?

Update: There's this too.

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Tom Fat RIP

We'll miss you Tom, our heart and deepest sympathies goes out to Tom's family.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ain't life terrible?

Dictionary.com says... Terrible (adj.)

Formidably great; Extreme in extent or degree; Intense

"They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the the wonder of it?"

From "The Passion" by Jeanette Winterson

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

From the Brilliant Minds at CBS

Kids to rule reality on CBS
Show offers new take on 'Lord of the Flies'

The full text is here

I was going to let this one go, but now really what are we to make of this? Furthermore, if it's a hit what does it say about us?

"Rather than surviving on an island, the kiddies relocated to Bonanza City, N.M., a ghost town abandoned more than a century ago. Prodigal children live without parental supervision and modern comforts."

I don't know why they have to go all the way to New Mexico, they can shoot the whole show on Hollywood and Sunset Blvds.

"Goal for the kids is to build a functional society. They have to pass laws, choose leaders and build an economy. People familiar with the project said the kids may also be given choices between things they need (food and supplies) and things they want (think Nintendo Wii)."

I hope they paid attention in Civics class. Oh yeah, they haven't had it yet.

"Rather than weekly exits, each seg will end with a feel-good moment in which one kid is selected by his peers to earn a major reward."

Maybe a lollipop or a Red Rider BB gun .

Let them be children.

I leave you with this.

Song of Being a Child

When the child was a child
It walked with arms hanging
Wanted the stream to be a river and the river a torrent
And this puddle, the sea
When the child was a child, it didn't know
It was a child
Everything for it was filled with life and all life was one
Saw the horizon without trying to reach it
Couldn't rush itself And think on command
Was often terribly bored
And couldn't wait
Passed up greeting the moments
And prayed only with it's lips
When the child was a child
It didn't have an opinion about a thing
Had no habits
Often sat crossed-legged, took off running
Had a cow lick in it's hair
And didn't put on a face when photographed

When the child was a child
It was the time of the following questions
Why am I me and why not you
Why am I here and why not there
Why did time begin and where does space end
Isn't what I see and hear and smell
Just the appearance of the world in front of the world
Isn't life under the sun just a dream
Does evil actually exist in people
Who really are evil
Why can't it be that I who am
Wasn't before I was
And that sometime I, the I, I am
No longer will be the I, I am

When the child was a child
It gagged on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding
And on steamed cauliflower
And now eats all of it and not just because it has to
When the child was a child
It woke up once in a strange bed
And now time and time again
Many people seem beautiful to it
And now not so many and now only if it's lucky
It had a precise picture of paradise
And now can only vaguely conceive of it at best
It couldn't imagine nothingness
And today shudders in the face of it
Go for the ball
Which today rolls between it's legs
With it's I'm here it came
Into the house which now is empty

When the child was a child
It played with enthusiasm
And now only with such former concentration
Where it's work is concerned
When the game, task, activity, subject happens to be it's work

When the child was a child
It was enough to live on apples and bread. And it's still that way
When the child was a child berries fell
Only like berries into it's hand. And still do
The fresh walnuts made it's tongue raw. And still do
Atop each mountain it craved
Yet a higher mountain. And in each city it craved
Yet a bigger city. And still does
Reach for the cherries in the treetop
As elated as it still is today
Was shy in front of strangers. And still is
It waited for the first snow. And still waits that way
When the child was a child
It waited restlessly each day for the return of the loved one
And still waits that way
When the child was a child
It hurled a stick like a lance into a tree
And it's still quivering there today

The child, the child was a child
Was a child, was a child, was a child, was a child
Child, child, child
When the child, when the child, when the child
When the child, when the child
The child, child, child, child, child

And on and on and on and on, etc. And onward
With a sense of wonder
Upon the highest hill. Upon the highest hill
When the child was a child
Are you there
Shassas, shassas
Up on a highest hill
When the child was a child, was a child, was a child
Was a child, was a child, was a child, etc.

Van Morrison
The Philospher's Stone

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Monday, May 14, 2007

George Bailey

Well I hope everyone had a great weekend and made their moms proud. As is our tradition, we celebrated Mother's Day at Presidio Park. One of our favorite places in San Diego. High on a hill overlooking Old Town and the San Diego Bay it is one of the most serene spots in our lovely city. Why is it that the Church and the Government always own the best real estate?

The day was filled with sunshine, family, friends, fried chicken and all manner of food, copious quantities of beer and wine, guitars, baseball and Frisbee, and badminton thrown in for good measure.

All in all it was a lovely day.

It's times like this, that I like to take a step back with La (literally) from the brood and enjoy just watching all the activity. All our friends, loved ones, child and husband and reflect on how our life is truly blessed. As we watch them, I feel a sense of legacy. That after 31 years of marriage to my lovely La, we have something - not necessarily to show for it, it's more intangible than that.
It's more than satisfaction with our position in life, I'm proud and love all of them. It's that we'll be leaving one day and managed to make our little bit of earth better.

It's a Wonderful Life Mr. Bailey.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

No blogging tomorrow, so I'll leave this for all the Mom's out there.

A Song From "The Player Queen"

MY mother dandled me and sang,
"How young it is, how young!'
And made a golden cradle
That on a willow swung.
"He went away,' my mother sang,
"When I was brought to bed,'
And all the while her needle pulled
The gold and silver thread.
She pulled the thread and bit the thread
And made a golden gown,
And wept because she had dreamt that I
Was born to wear a crown.
"When she was got,' my mother sang,
I heard a sea-mew cry,
And saw a flake of the yellow foam
That dropped upon my thigh."
How therefore could she help but braid
The gold into my hair,
And dream that I should carry
The golden top of care?

William Butler Yeats

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Great News!

I picked up the guitar for the first time in 5 or 6 years and finally figured out how to execute this:

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Our Humanity

A touching story from the Washington Post.

Hat Tip: The Belmont Club

The most effective way to find and destroy a land mine is to step on it.

This has bad results, of course, if you're a human. But not so much if you're a robot and have as many legs as a centipede sticking out from your body. That's why Mark Tilden, a robotics physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, built something like that. At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked beautifully, he says. Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs, continuing to clear a path through the minefield.

Finally it was down to one leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was working splendidly.

The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army colonel -- blew a fuse.

The colonel ordered the test stopped.

Why? asked Tilden. What's wrong?

The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.

This test, he charged, was inhumane.

I'm proud of that Colonel.

Although, I'm not sure which it is more inhumane to, the soldier/operator or the bot. It an amazing intrinsic ability we have to project our humanity onto things, pets, probably just about anything. It is the well from which we draw our empathy, our ability to feel and understand someone elses pain.

I'm sure there is a valid arguement to which the little robot critter is just a well engineered mass of nuts and bolts; that a soldier's life is more important than the robot. But I think that that Colonel was thinking of the soldier who had to drive that machine across the minefield, watching his "partner" taking it for the team - repeatedly. It would require more than nerves of steel to my mind, it would require a lessening of the heart. And that my friends is NOT what we're about is it?

Of course, in my own sick way I was thinking of this while I was reading the article:

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I'm not sure how I feel about this

I just stumbled across a blog called PostSecret it's a blog where people mail in postcards articulating a secret they've never told anyone.

Some are funny, some are sad, some are entertaining and some are inspirational. I guess the reason I'm ambivalent about PostSecret is because I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

But reviewing it again, it seems to serve the same function as the confessional. Allowing an individual to come clean in anonymous and safe environment.

So I'm going to add it the Blogs of Note section. Take a look and tell me what you think.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Funny Thing

That I mentioned Tom Waits after a posting about Frank Zappa. It's funny because I saw Tom Waits for the first time at a Zappa concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I'm not sure it's still there, but it used to be a great venue.

Anyway, Tom was the opening act. My buddy and I had really great seats so we were really close, 4th row I think. So this guy comes out I've never heard of, in a scruffy thrift shop suit and white shirt and starts singing Ol' 55 (which he wrote by the way), his voice wasn't quite as gravelly back in those days, but still it was an extremis throaty. He had some quirky Joe Cockeresque mannerisms (although not palsy-like) and he was GREAT!

At some point during the set some guy is whistling loudly, either he thought Tom was great or he wants Tom to end his performance, it wasn't exactly clear to me which, but it was distracting. In mid verse, Tom stops, takes a long drag from his cigarette (which is perpetually hanging from his mouth), reaches into his inside coat pocket and takes out a Bud, takes a chug, puts it back in his pocket, leans towards the mike and says

"Eat my shorts, Sailor".

Then promptly resumed his tune where he'd left off.


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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My Favorite Tom Waits Song

Somewhere (LP Version)

Actually I shouldv've titled this My Favorite version of this song.

Hat Tip for Napster: "Spectral Sky"

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Isn't that a great picture? Raised eyebrow challenging you to listen to what's in store. But pensive as well, he's dying you know. Altogether needlessly. Mr. Zappa died of prostate cancer, a totally treatable disease, it's a shame that he had die so young - in his mid fifties. I'll be 50 in August. If I'm not mistaken this was the last LP he made in conjunction with Ensemble Modern. Truly, it was his swan song. So why am I writing about Frank?

I guess I want to thank him publicly for expanding my musical horizon. You see, when I was a teenager, I was listening to The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper (who Frank originally produced) and everything was hunky dory(David Bowie), I remember my best friend had just bought "Overnight Sensation" and as we listened to it I was amazed. The musicianship was nothing that I'd ever heard and Frank's guitar was nothing that I'd ever heard. Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana they never even came close to Frank's virtuosity. Of course, I appreciate the musicianship of Eric, Jimmy and Carlos but Frank was unreal.

Frank was a veritable farm of musicians, during his tenure he introduced such musicians as George Duke, Adrian Belew, Jean Luc Ponty, Captain Beefheart and Alice Cooper to name a few. I guess for me he raised the bar of music. He launched my exploration of all types of music, with simple writ:

That it must be played from the heart. Nothing else is real. That's why music is so banal today. It is completely NOT real. That said, I'm old enough to recognize the cycles the music business goes through - something exciting happens: rockabilly (Elvis), the British Invasion, Punk, Rap, Hip Hop, Grunge... The corporate world ALWAYS co-opts the music, and eventually there is a push back.

So I'm waiting for the push back. If you know it's happening, let me know.

In the meantime, thank Frank for his contribution to music.

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Hearts do mend

Fragile Heart

Hello fragile heart.

Don't recede in times of doubt,
For the love is there for you.

Take that step and again another.
And you will find it true.

The world may not concede
A path on broadened plains.

From painful depths you can ascend
And shuffle off your chains.

Take me on my word for this
It is something I've endured.

I've walked that bitter mile
Over broken glass I've toured.

True hearts fall and mend again
And this you will not change

It is the fabric of a life
A rolling mountain range.

Around each peak will lay a valley
The land where life plays out.

Life's only what you make it.
On this point never doubt.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Support Your Local Florist

Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential (highly recommended reading by the way), wrote an Op-Ed piece in the NYT on Valentines Day, describing the challenges and the necessity of florists. You can read it here, but it’ll cost you $4.95.

So I’ll borrow heavily from it and you can get the gist.

“If a city is an ecosystem, the flower shop is perhaps its most vital and endangered habitat. In the last 15 years, the number of florists in the United States declined 17 percent. In 1992, there was a florist for every 9,300 Americans; now florists must serve, on average, more than 12,000 people each – if they serve them at all. Half of cut flower purchases are made at supermarkets now, and less than a third of American households buy flowers in a year. It’s now wonder that third-generation florists are closing their doors. But what if flower shops go extinct, what have we lost?”

Indeed. If there is artistry in floristry (and I can assure you there is), then that’s like saying what if Painting should go extinct. Something intangible would be lost as well. Flowers evoke emotion, much like music. This month Lily of the Valley is readily available, it’s really touching when women of a certain age come in, discover it and are transported back in time when they’re five years old again, running through fields of Lily of the Valley, you can see it their eyes. That gets me choked up just writing it.

Che Bella is a green sanctuary in a forest of concrete. It is not only flowers, or exquisite artistry, it is a vibe, and an experience. To come inside is to forget what’s outside the gates and celebrate the beauty of nature. More from Ms. Stewart:

“…flower shops have been the green spots of nature in the city. They mark the change of the season, even in the age of global commerce when roses come from Ecuador and orchid from Thailand and peonies from New Zealand. Gnarled branches of cherry blossoms emerge in shop windows in March, followed by a show of lilac so short that it will make even the most harried city dweller’s heart ache for the brevity of spring.”

This is particularly true in seasonally challenged San Diego.

Florists’ express the feelings you want to convey, and many times listen to the troubles of the forlorn. It’s kind of like being a bartender; we hear and see it all. Husbands who’ve been caught cheating trying to get back in good favor with their wives, grief stricken relatives trying to express they’re loss, gawky teenage boys furtively selecting a flower for a corsage for their prom date (it’s pretty comical, it’s almost like buying your first condom), Bridezilla, Bridezilla’s Mom, all handled with grace and aplomb.

“Florists don’t just celebrate nature; they celebrate us as well. New York City alone sees 169 marriages a day, 340 births and 157 deaths. Florists understand what it is that we cannot quite we cannot say at theses moments; they wrap up a few dozen delicate, ephemeral blossoms and rush them across town to do the job for us.”

It’s a great job; I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. That said, it’s not an easy job, just ask any florist. We’ve had more than a few come and go in the shop who thinking that it would be fun to work in a flower shop soon discover just what back breaking work it can be. Always cold and wet, lugging buckets of water, eternally cleaning and washing vases and buckets. Processing huge amounts of flowers (you didn’t think that what you purchased looked that way when it came in did you?), deadlines, deliveries…

Still it has its advantages. A word to the young single guys out there, if you want to meet girls work in a flower shop…

Just take my word for it.

One last comment from Amy:

“I once sat in a florist’s workroom on Valentine’s Day and I listened as desperate husbands and lovesick suitors called seeking the calm, good-natured help of a stranger who understood what was at stake. You can place your heart into the hands of a florist. Flower shops remind us who we are – fragile, transitory creatures, not nearly as tough as our suits and our briefcases make us look. They call our attention to the passing of spring, and to the fullness of love. Every city needs that.”

Amen to that!

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Lookin' out my back door.

Little Plum Tree

Little plum tree sing a song for me.
Sunny skies await to join your reverie.

Your leaves alight in brilliant hues
Of chartreuse shades that do refuse

To let you hide your beauty from my eyes.

Little plum tree spread your branches wide
Catch each ray of sun through mottled clouds has spied.

Make a home for the lonely dove
A nest she makes for spring's true love.

And waits for sweetened fruit to softly fall.

Little plum tree you are a gift from God.
From earth you rise to bow where angels do applaud.

All around you sway gentle friends
Touch the lemon tree whose love she sends.

And let's you know you'll never be alone.

Little plum tree enjoy this season's day
Embrace the sun till skies go cold and grey.

Another friend you've made in me
As I've watched you grow into the tree.

That caught my eye and in my heart does grow.

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The Salesman

This just happened yesterday. It's kinda funny.

My son and I were over at Victory Furniture/Treasures yesterday at the request of my wife to participate in a promotional event for a new line of Tommy Bahama indoor/outdoor furniture. Most of the store's employees were at the main Treasures store, so after having met my wife's manager and his wife and listened to a little live island music we decided to order a pizza and the five of us would eat back at Victory.

After the pizza arrived, I realized I needed something to wash it down with so I asked my wife if she could direct me to the kitchen. She told me my son knew where it was and so asked him to take me over to it. I followed him over to the corner of the store and past a lone salesman sitting at a desk near the kitchen. I acknowledged him and continued to get my water. After about a half a minute in the kitchen, my son was ready to go back to his pizza and he told me he was heading back.

I told him I was right behind him and that it was fine if he was ready to go back and eat. Already about five paces ahead of me, I watched my son begin to walk past the salesman's desk. Then I watched my son stop and heard the salesman say to my son,

"Hi, did you have a question?"

My son, not anticipating any response from the man sort of froze with a perplexed look on his face.

As I approached from behind, I said,


"What's four times six, divided by three?"

It was then the salesman's turn to freeze with a distinct rattled look on his face.

Of course, my comment was in jest but I think he thought I was serious.

Maybe he thought I was just being an over-protective dad but I was simply cracking wise as if to speak for my son.

Anyway, when my son and I got back to the Victory side of the store, my wife and her manager told me the guy is a bit of a head case.

Or maybe he just didn't know the answer.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

My Lovely Design Team

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Motherless Child

Feelin' a little blue today...

Sometime I feel
Like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel
Like a motherless child
And sometimes I feel
Like a motherless child
A long...long way...from home

And sometimes I feel
Like I'm almost gone
Sometimes I feel
Like I'm almost gone
Sometimes I feel yeahehe
Like I'm all alone
A long...a looong wayee from home

Who’s got a shoulder when I need to cry
I feel restless and I don't know why
Cry for help, but still feel alone
Like a motherless child along way from home
Lord I'm lost I can't find my way
I'm dealing with the struggles in my day to day
My soul is weak and I wanna be strong
I try to run away but I've been running to long

I've been running to long...
I've been running to long

Who’s got a shoulder when I need to cry
I feel restless and I don't know why
Cry for help, but I still feel alone
Like a motherless child along way from home
Lord I'm lost I can't find my way
I'm dealing with the struggles in my day to day
My soul is weak and I wanna be strong
I try to run away but I've been running to long

I've been running to long...
I've been running to long
Like a motherless child
So lost and so long
Like a motherless child

Barbeque Bob (orignally)

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I heard a new word the other day listening to NPR, “MacGuffin”. Karen might be already familiar with this term but it was a new one to me.

Wikipedia says:

“A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or Maguffin) is a plot device that motivates the characters and/or advances the story, but has little other relevance to the story.”

Alfred Hitchcock first introduced the term,
“"[We] have a name in the studio, and we call it the 'MacGuffin.' It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is most always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers."

In other words, it’s a film sleight of hand meaning that what is obvious in the story, is not really relevant to the point the director is trying to make. The audience is following the story around the “necklace” or “papers”, and missing the drama unfolding between the actors.

Here’s an amusing anecdote told by Hitchcock explaining the origin of MacGuffin in a 1966 interview with Francois Trauffaut:

"It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says, 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'Oh that's a McGuffin.' The first one asks 'What's a MacGuffin?' 'Well' the other man says, 'It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish highlands.' The first man says, 'But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers 'Well, then that's no McGuffin!' So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all."

Rhetorically speaking I think this is called “falling for the obvious”.

Nice word, next time you’re in an interesting verbal “kerfuffle”, and someone’s concentrating on the minutiae, but completely missing your point,

Stop, and say “MacGuffin!”

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What Is An American

I don’t suspect Americans spend a lot of time thinking about what an American is exactly. But it's slow today and I’m bored. So what is this species “American”? Are we defined by our culture? If so, what is the American culture?

Dictionary.com defines culture this way:

6. Anthropology. the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.

Well now, how many different ways of living are there in the U.S? A whole boatload I’d imagine. This definition works well in a homogenous society – Sweden for example, but the U.S.? Everyday, 300 million people practice ways of living peculiar to traditions transmitted from their descendants, trouble is their descendants are from someplace else, at least at some point or another. So what culture bubbles up from this milieu? Is it similar to poring all the paints in the box together and getting a brown-greenish mess? Or is it similar to this:

Where each family has a distinct culture apart from being American and the intersection is being American. Multiplied millions of times it becomes unwieldy to my mind. But perhaps this is true to a certain degree and helps explain our fascination with hyphenation, i.e., Italian-American, African-American, Mexican-American, Andthelistgoeson-American. It does not however, explain what exactly is IN the intersection.

I think a better explanation of what an American is, is this: We are who we are because of this simple statement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…

To be an American is to believe in an idea, that we are all free to be what we want to be, free to try, and free to fail. That no matter our societal or economic background we have an opportunity to make our lives better and this applies to EVERYBODY. Americans also believe that no man is above the law, as is embodied in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

To be an American you don’t even have to live here, you just have to believe in the idea. So now I’m off to that all American pastime…

Baseball. See ya!

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Monday, April 30, 2007

For the Musician

The Sea of Music

A simple movement of air across the room
And my breath draws shallow.
Jostling tides of the acoustic ebb and flow.
The world around me quietly falls away.

I hear, but more so I feel
Wading into the gentle shoals of the harmonic.
I am lifted and glide footless over the layered sands
Of countless notes that have never left me.

On this ocean where blind men see
And words need not be spoken.
I drift among the waves of endless hearts
Through crest and trough, a resonance beats

Over the sky, the sun and moon embrace
And it is not day or night but eternal dawn
The dawn of creation for the inspired soul
Who's melody moves me over the horizon.

Dwelling in this mystic sea I retreat to my thoughts
Where a thousand tunes and lyrics lay.
I close my eyes for a moment and dream within a dream
And thank the artist to whom I owe so much.

For it is only in the reflection of this water
You can truly know how you have stirred my soul.
And opened my heart to share with others
The wondrous gifts you have brought to our world.

So thank you and never stop setting sail
On uncharted waters where fortunes rise and fall
And know I am with you as you track the stars
In music's quest, where timeless chords avail.

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I Love This Country

Now before you roll your eyes, this is not about mindless patriotism. As many of you know already, this last weekend was ArtWalk, I’m not going to go into detail about what the event is, you can follow the link in Friends of the House of Love to find out what it’s all about, ArtWalk is one of two big events in Little Italy, and it affords one a chance to observe humanity.

I love this country for a lot of reasons, but what strikes me is this country’s immense tolerance for all kinds of people. This weekend I had the chance to see folks from all walks of life, from different countries, various sexual orientations (you pick), the heterogeneity of the crowd was stunning. I’ve been on every continent in this planet save Antarctica, and I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that there is nowhere else that is more tolerant and diverse than the U.S. It is a truly amazing testimonial to this country.

We’ve come along way since I was a kid. Its funny back in the early 60’s there were only two interracial couples I knew of, Sammy Davis Jr., and my Mom (at least it seemed that way). Today the debate is whether race identifiers on various official documents are necessary or can accurately define someone’s ethnicity. One’s sexual orientation doesn’t seem to concern us in the way it did 35 years ago. I wonder if the young men and women coming out today realize how painful a life that was not too long ago.

In today’s America you can define yourself just about any way you like, pierced and tattooed to a fair the well, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Rocker, Punk, Skate Punk, et al. If you can think it, and it’s within the boundaries of civilized behavior you can pretty much be it.

Something to be proud of, don’t you think?

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The play of the game.

Center Fielder

Dusting of his cap and leaping to the voice of his coach

Out into the April sun, he charges the field.

The wind echoing in his ear as he picks up speed

The scent of freshly mown grass invades his senses.

Stopping at his position, he bends and yanks a swath.

Grinding the blades between his fingers he takes a deep breath.

The crowd settles in their seats as the umpire signals

Glove on he waits for whatever his opponent can muster.

Honoring his coach and team with steely eyes he focuses.

The pitcher sets and for a moment time stops.

And then the windup begins.

Listening to the chorus of the crowd he watches the delivery.

The pitch, the swing...


The ball bursts through the infield like a comet.

The crowd roars and eighty thousand eyes focus on his next move.

All his muscles tense as he gauges the white streak.

A calculation in a millisecond and the sprint begins.

His destiny approaches fast.

Too fast, too low, no fly catch here.

Its a hard single, probably a double but not if he can help it..

Track, track, track...It's going to drop, hold back, wait, wait, wait...


Already ahead of the ball as it explodes off the grass

Leaving a small cloud of dirt marking its impact.

He imagines the next three seconds.

The ball's whirling red stitches like an archer’s target loom quickly.

But his stride is unbroken and his position is perfect.

The runner rounds first...

Like a final chess strike, the players line up to meet their fate.

Short stop to shallow left center. Left center behind to insure the play.

Second base is calling; the pitcher is halfway there.

Don't think… React! Make it count!


The ball freezes in the bare palm of his throwing hand.

But only for an instant as he shifts his weight to launch.

He rears his forward leg, drawing the ball far behind him

And like a tightly coiled spring releases his energy in a furious instant.

In a spasm of muscular ballet, the ball rockets from his hand.

Upward and to the left of second, a wayward throw?

Not today as the ball breaks down and back as he had foreseen.

A parabola of perfection, on the fly, lands squarely into an anxious glove.

A desperate slide, a ginger hop, and a fluid left arm sweep.

Your Out!!!

One battle won in a nine-inning war.

So it’s back to the trenches on a beautiful day.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Stick People

This is fun to watch

They kinda look like ants.

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ArtWalk is this weekend

Come on down and enjoy some culture!

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Moe, Larry, CHEESE!

Look's like Steve's havin a bit of fun!

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Has Bladerunner arrived?

A couple of interesting articles I picked up on the net today, the first is here, and the second is here.

Hat Tip: The Belmont Club

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Genesis, Chapter 3 Verses 6 -7

I think we can all agree that giving a toaster the right to vote is a downright silly idea. Will technology reach a point where we have human looking robots? Most certainly, as the creepy Japanese guy illustrates. Will we reach a technological level where machines can learn? Yes, we’re already there (unless you’re running Windows).

I cite Genesis because as the verses suggest, self awareness came to Adam and Eve the moment they ate the “forbidden fruit”. To be more precise they became cognitive of their existence. The ability to ask, “Why am I here?” or “Why am I me, and not you?” is uniquely human (unless you can prove it otherwise). The ability to understand the sentence – “To Be.” Be-ing; understood as a verb. We understand this as having a soul.

We recognize in our Constitution that we have certain inalienable rights, these rights exist a priori. There are no contingencies to those rights, they exist by necessity, it is true much like 2 + 2 = 4. They exist because our souls demand it.

Many movies have been made on the concept that human made, human like machines become self aware, Blade Runner, I, Robot. Even HAL 9000 the erstwhile computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey while essentially a software routine becomes self aware, to the extent that he (it) suffers from delusional paranoia. Is it inevitable that we create machines that will someday become self aware, to have the ability to ask that question: Who am I? It seems likely to me.

What then?

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