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User Journal

Journal Journal: Erosion

Last week my son Jacob was visiting me, and working on his 6th grade science fair project on erosion at the same time. So we (not so stealthily) took a large chunk of sandstone from the already-falling-apart seacliffs, cut it into small chunks, and poured various amounts of water on the samples to look at the effects of rain and irrigation on cliff stability.

Jacob's conclusions you can find on his science fair project (to be published in a forthcoming volume from Harcourt Brace Janovich), but my conclusions I'll put here.

  1. It is frustrating to supervize an hyper-active 11yr-old.
  2. The science-trained supervisor is likely to be a lot more interested in the project than the 11yr-old.
  3. It is therefore tempting to do all the work yourself.
  4. One should always check the 11yr-old's backpack for library books you checked out at the UCSD library for his project before sending him home to Colorado.
  5. Given what was in those library books (e.g., like a canyon collapsing a further 130m inland in one night) its amazing that anybody is stupid enough to build a multi-million dollar home on the seacliffs.
  6. Given what 1 liter of water can do its amazing that there are any seacliffs at all in Del Mar.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Grand Theft Pizza

It was Friday night in the Gaslamp. I went with a friend (who shall remain nameless) to a birthday party celebration for someone I had never met before (although thankfully my friend had). We catch up with the party in a cheap Italian restaurant --- dude! they've got one massive 20 person party table which sports a bust of Pope John (not Paul), and surrounded by other Papal paraphanalia --- before they went on to the club. It was 10:30, we were supposed to get to the club before 11, we were already drunk but hadn't eaten dinner. But the inconsiderate bastards hadn't left us anything to eat when we got there; even the pizza crusts had already been carted away. Unnamed friend stands up, walks to a box of some other party's take-home pizza sitting on an adjacent empty table and HELPS HIMSELF.

I was in shock!~ Stealing someone's pizza is almost as bad as breaking and entering! Home-castle-pizza-ammunition so to say. Of course, I wasn't so shocked that, when offered a stolen slice, that I didn't eat it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I am a law-abiding citizen

According to this website, as a resident of The City of San Diego I am subject to the following laws:
  • It is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar.
  • The owners of houses with Christmas lights on them past February second may be fined up to $250.

We've all heard of these sort of stupid (or sometimes archaic) laws that exist in various states and cities in the US. Two lads from the UK have, however, decided to do something about them (not something useful, but something nonetheless): trying to break as many of them as they can. They will attempt whale hunting in Utah, and riding bicycles in a swimming pool in California, among other things.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Weird World

1. Hector "Macho" Comacho, champion boxer, was arrested for breaking into a computer store to steal his own laptop (in for repairs). He was drunk and lonely and felt he needed to e-mail his family right away. Asked why he would do anything that stupid he replied, "I guess I ran out of ideas."

2. Shoppers riot at the grand openeing of an IKEA store in north London, pushing and shoving each other over such bargains as a limited number of leather sofas offered at 45 lbstg. (~$85). Six people were taken to the hospital, one of them with a stab wound.

3. Sushi can be printed on an inkjet, at least if you're willing to spend about $200 for a sampler platter of it Chicago.

4. In my own life: Sitting in the bar with co-workers, talking about traffic tickets and accidents. I tell a story about how once when driving back from the local lover's lookout point, across an empty exanse of desert, I saw a car overturned and on fire on the side of the road. Some guy flags me down, and claims to have been "just walking by" (miles from nowhere). Did I have a phone? No there was nobody in the car, he didn't find anyone. There was of course about 20 beer cans in the back seat. Blah blah blah blah. Trust me it was a funny story, but not the point right now. I finish the story, head off to the men's and my phone rings. It's my ex-wife, and she says, "Remember that time that we were on our way back from the Colorado Nat'l Monument and we saw that car overturned on the side of the road..." "No fucking way!" I reply, wittily. She manages to keep it together for about 2 seconds before bursting into laughter. Seems my phone had speed dialed her, and she could hear the conversation clearly. After a second she thought, "Hey, I know that story!" But when you think about it, it's nearly as WEIRD that of the 50 names on my phone book that she should HAPPEN to be the one accidently dialed during the story, as that she should actually have psychic powers and call me up cold about the incident.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Book-ish

Vineland by Thomas Pynchon --- We always knew that California was freaking weird, but in many ways Pynchon's version is actually tamer than the real thing. His weirdness has a Hollywood/Disneyland ease-of-categorization to it that makes it feel friendly. YMMV, but in my opinion the real deal is a whole lot scarier. A funny book with some witty social commentary, as you would expect. Thumbs up.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Conner --- Small-town religion and revival preachers are my idea of American Gothic. The protagonist of this book is an Ichabod-Crane-like figure who upon returning from the war, rebels at his starchy-upbringing and begins to preach The Church of Christ Without Jesus (i.e., atheism or really anti-theism); the problem is is that for all his intellectual rebellion, deep down he still has faith, and so he is continually mortifying himself to pay for all his sins. Billed as comedy, but in my opinion is anything but. So sharp, it was hard to read (at least for me). Thumbs up.

No Amazon links here to these books: they're old so go find them in your local used bookstore like I did.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I join the broadband revolution (sorta)

Somebody has put in a new wireless access point near my apartment, and foolishly (or generously?) left the access completely open. This is quite fortunate for me, since I've not had any access at home since I cancelled my last free trial period of dialup. I keep putting off getting broadband for my own place because the year long contracts conflict with my desire to move out soon. But now I can once again post stuff from the comfort of my overly-red sofa without having to scam another new free-for-60-days account out of AOL (how many logon name permutations of Jason Fleischer would they allow before they put a stop to it anyway?).
User Journal

Journal Journal: We don't hate Arabs, really!

I watched the WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday night. For those unfamiliar with it, World Wrestling Entertainment televises slapstick-ish choreographed fighting matches between large men in spandex costumes with silly theme names like "The Undertaker" and "Nature Boy". The Royal Rumble is an endurance match where 30 wrestlers enter the ring, one every 2 minutes or so, and the last person left inside the ring at the end wins. Wrestler No. 13's theme was "Arab power", his name was Muhammed Hussan (or something close to that) and he wore a kafyieh. The roughly eight wrestlers that were still in ring when he entered all immediately ganged up and kicked the living hell out him in a tight neo-Nazi like circle bash.

Also, check out this editorial from Maureen Dowd (NY Times - registration required) about the use of sex and menstrual blood to toture prisoners at the Guantanamo detention center.

Sometimes I could just cry.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Follow the yellow brick road

I woke up this morning to find the city (well, OK at least Del Mar and La Jolla) buried under a coating of yellow pollen. My car, normally white, has golden filligree all over, and certain bits of sidewalk and corners of entryways are buried under the sulfur-colored mess. Around work there are some rough slate-like paving stones, and they've come out looking like they were dry-brushed with sandstone. Somebody told me that this is from the pine trees, and I assume that they mean the Torrey pines, since I've lived around large concentrations of other sorts of pine most of my life and never experienced anything like this.
User Journal

Journal Journal: These pipes are clean!

Cleaned my apartment yesterday, first time in about six or seven weeks. It took about five hours, and included activites such as repotting a plant that needed it and finding the source of that odor that's been bothering me (it was the trash can, not the contents of the bag; something must have leaked ages ago). Whopee.

I celebrated by going to see the film Kinsey. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to it, but I'm very glad I did. I laughed out loud and cried a little -- signs of a good film. The story is very interesting and the main characters' performances good to very good. At first the film seems to be promoting the swinger ethic, but then a well done scene where the reprecussions show up brings you up short. However, I thought the bit at the end where Kinsey "affirms" his attachment to his wife in spite of the sexual shennanigans was heavy handed and bothersome. Worth the price of admission just to see how they create a family resemblance between John Lithgow and Liam Neeson.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Look Ma, four hands!

I hadn't meant this blog to be a review rag, but that's the only really interesting stuff to write about in my life, unless you'd rather hear how the skin on my forehead is dry and flaky again, a sure sign that I'm overstressed.

So on that note, let me say that last night I went to a concert at NSI, which happens to be my place of employment. They periodically give us free tickets for employees when they haven't sold out, which is a Good Thing since since I might not have overcome the inertia to go otherwise, and I'd have been culturally poorer for not having seen Gustavo Romero and Massimo Somenzi playing these amazing Mozart Sonatas while sharing the same piano. While I am not a classical music geek (IANACMG?), I do have a fairly broad exposure, but somehow I've never been to a four hand recital before, and there is something beautiful and contemplative about that kind of performance, especially in such an intimate setting as our small concert hall, with two such accomplished performers. Two men sharing such a narrow space and perform an act as much as a piece of music is more fun than classical music is generally acknowledged to be. After receiving a standing ovation at the end of the program, they played an extra two Sonata fragments, and things relaxed considerably so that even proper old ladies were slouching in their chairs and tapping their feet.

If anyone reads this in the next 10 days and is in the San Diego area (yeah right) they are performing another concert on Jan 31st with a different set of 4-hand sonatas.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hotel Rwanda

See Hotel Rwanda. Although watching a film about a hotel manager at a four star resort who manages to save more than 1000 people from the genocide that the West allowed to happen through shameful inaction, may sound like a "good for me, but tastes bad" experience, it is actually a beautiful drama with many high points and a warm humor that startles you out of some otherwise dreadful moments. It belongs to the class of films that you think about and revisit in your head for hours and even days afterwards. Just see it.
User Journal

Journal Journal: First Post

It occurs to me that I'd been meaning to keep a blog for a while now, but I can't really be asked to set up a proper one.

This space will do --- my needs are pretty modest and I don't care too much about bells and whistles.

Today's time wasting uncovered a utility called Patchburn which may come in handy for me later, so I'm just noting it down here to remind myself. My iBook is the last model that shipped with a CD rather than a DVD, something I didn't realize when I bought it (dumb dumb dumb not reading properly dumb). There's an extra external DVD burner around work that I can borrow, but iDVD in OS X refuses to recognize it. This bit of software is supposed to remedy the problem.

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