Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why I'm not a Democrat

I switched party affiliation several years ago from Democrat to Green because I saw the writing on the wall — Democrats were becoming more and more like Republicans. I don't agree with everything in the Green platform, but they're much closer to my own views than the Democrats are.

With the recent election, I was happy to see that the Democrats had taken Congress, but after reading "The Kids Are All Right" by John Cook in Radar, I'm not so sure that anything has changed. As the article states:
They're pro-life, pro-gun, pro-Jesus—meet the new class of Democrats

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh yeah, there was an election, wasn't there?

Some thoughts on Tuesday's election:

Schwartzenegger was re-elected. I voted for Peter Camejo, the Green candidate. Eh. I didn't really follow or care much about this election, but I'm not surprised that the unwashed masses voted for the movie star.

Actually, of all the top California state officers up for election, only two candidates I voted for won election: Jerry Brown (Democrat) for Attorney General and Steve Poizner (Republican) for Insurance Commisioner. Coincidentally, those two elections are the only ones (for top California state officers) where I didn't vote for the Green candidate. Oh, and my local Assembly person, Lori Saldaña (Democrat), whom I voted for, also won re-election.

For U.S. Senate, I voted for Todd Chretien (Green) against incumbent Dianne Feinstein (Republican) and I voted for incumbent Susan Davis (Democrat) for her House seat. Both incumbents won, but that's expected when there was no real controversy for either election. I have a strong distaste for Feinstein, especially regarding her seeming disregard of the 1st amendment (re: funding of California Missions and her sponsorship of a flag-burning amendment), but also for her willingness to cater to Republicans. But, it could have been worse - at least the Republicans didn't win.

For all those congressional elections that I couldn't vote on, I'm glad that the Republicans were swept from power, but I don't expect much out of the new Democratic leadership. By making promises before the election to not pursue impeachment proceedings against Bush, they've shown that they are willing to ignore our constitution and let Bush and his administration get away with their crimes. My only hope is that they plug the leak of our civil rights, if they don't have the balls to revert the damage already done.

Moving on to the propositions, I voted with the majority on 1A, but my No votes on 1B through 1E (all bonds) were countered by a population that apparently thinks that money grows on trees. My opposition to almost all the bonds on the ballot is not because I don't think that the projects they fund have merit; it's because I think that approval of bond measures sends the wrong message to our elected representatives. I am so disgusted with California politicians because part of their job is to figure out how to spend our tax dollars but, instead, they pawn this job off to us. Like Libertarians, I believe that bond measures are bad, but unlike Libertarians, I also think that our state taxes are too low. We should be able to fund the projects that need funding and I want my elected representative to actually do some work and figure out how to best spend my tax dollars. As it is, special interests push these bond measures and the ones that win are the ones that have the best advertisements. It's simply disgusting.

I voted for the $2.60 per pack cigarette tax (prop 86) and for prop 87, a tax on oil producers to fund alternative energy research and production, but both propositions lost. I am heartened, though, by the 48% and 45% Yes votes on those two measures. However, of all the propositions, prop 85 was the one I cared about the most - I am very happy that this "parental notification" measure failed, although I hate the fact that San Diego county voters voted in favor of it.

Speaking of San Diego, Jerry Sanders got his way with propositions B and C, both of which I voted against, but the fools that keep trying to put a commercial airport at Miramar lost on prop A, which I also voted against. I live in the flight path for Lindbergh field and would love to see that change, but anyone that thinks that the military is going to give up Miramar is chasing windmills. The better location to replace Lindbergh field, in my opinion, is Brown field, but our local politicians proved themselves gutless when that option was put on the table.

I had a gum graft today

My Molar (115_1514)Two years ago, I had a molar extracted and a bone graft in preparation for a dental implant. Long story short, the first implant failed, the second implant required an additional bone graft, and what should have taken less than a year took a year and a half. But, finally, after 18 months, I received my new tooth.Smile

That was 7 months ago.

Yesterday, I went to my dentist's office for my regular cleaning when the hygienist noticed that the gum on the buccal (cheek-side) of my implant was "interesting". Interesting is not a good word to hear from a dentist. It seemed to be a bit swollen and there was a fistula. So, they referred me back to my oral surgeon to have it checked out.

That same afternoon (still yesterday), I saw my oral surgeon and he was perplexed. After a brief discussion, it was decided that, perhaps, some bone graft material was trapped in the gum and the best solution would be to cut open the gum, clean it up a bit and stitch it back together. So, I scheduled my appointment for the next morning (this morning) and left with a feeling of dread.

So, I arrive at my appointment this morning, the assistant prepares my gums with some topical numbing agent and I'm brought into the surgical room. My oral surgeon administers some local anesthetic shots and begins digging around in my mouth. Luckily, I couldn't feel a thing during the whole process.

Afterwards, the doctor explained that my strong gum tissue had receded around my implant and had left behind only weak gum tissue, no bone graft material had been found, but that he had taken some spare strong gum tissue from just to the right of my last molar on the same side and placed it over my implant where the tissue was missing. This is known as a gum graft. He also placed some putty over the grafted gum and surrounding tissue to protect it while it heals. He then sent me home with painkillers and instructions to come back in a week to have the putty removed and to not chew on that side of the mouth until then.

The numbness has worn off and, luckily, I don't feel any discomfort or pain. So, I consider myself lucky and I hope that this is the end of my implant ordeal.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Don't Be Sending Me That Holocaust Denial Shit

I received five copies of a spam email from someone named Michael Crook with the subject line, "DENY THE JEWS HOLOCAUST! IT DIDN'T HAPPEND!" in my Inbox today.

First off, if you want to be an anti-Semite, you go right ahead, but if you want to convince someone else to be an anti-Semite, you might want to at least check your email subject line for misspellings.

Second, why the fuck would someone send me this? Do I come across as someone that would believe that the Holocaust didn't happen or that Jews molest children (one of the claims in the email)? I'll assume that the sender was a Christian, so I'll advise the sender that if they want to assault the Talmud for it's content (the email claims that the Talmud condones "sexual contact with young children", they should read their own x-rated bible for great tales of depravity. No, wait, for that matter, they should read The X-Rated Bible: An Irreverent Survey of Sex in the Scriptures by by Ben Edward Akerley, which I personally own and enjoy.

For the record, yes, the Holocaust happened and, yes, genocide still happens today all over the world. I have no reason nor desire to deny that the Holocaust happened. If I have anything against Judaism, it's the same thing that I have against Christianity - they're both based on the false assumption of a supernatural god and, as an atheist, I am naturally opposed to god-based religions. But, I don't deny their acts or acts perpetrated against them.

I don't know how many Jews were killed during the Holocaust for being Jewish, but I don't deny that 5 million, 6 million, or even 11 million are all possibly correct figures. But, even if it was only 1 million Jews or 1,000 Jews, it was still a tragedy.

I certainly don't agree with Judaism or Christianity on the terms of their "faith", but that does not mean that I subscribe to the beliefs of extremists that deny the Holocaust.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ding Dong, George Stevens is Dead... and Tower Records, too

Not surprisingly, news about San Diego ex-City Councilperson (and Reverend) George Stevens death didn't make it to Central Europe three weeks ago, so I didn't find out about it until today. I was waiting for my fish taco and sashimi salad order at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill—excellent, as always—when I picked up a copy of San Diego Voice and Viewpoint as something to read while I waited. There on the front page was the news of George Steven's funeral. "Wow.", I thought first. "Good riddance", I thought next.

Mr. Stevens, you see, was not only a Baptist preacher and ex-politician, he was also an idiot who regularly played the racist card while he was on the San Diego City Council. And, after he was termed out of office and his successor was indicted for corruption (but died before trial), he tried to run again for city council for his disgraced colleague's (and his old) spot. Luckily, we were spared another dose of religion and racism when he lost the race (no pun intended).

No, I don't mourn for Mr. Stevens, but I do mourn for something else that died while I was on vacation in Europe. Well, actually, it didn't die yet, but will die in mid-December (probably). Tower Records was sold to some entity as part of a bankruptcy auction and their first act as new owners was to announce liquidation of and closure of all their retail locations. Apparently, the Tower Records web site will remain, but that's it.

I will admit that, except for 2 DVDs that I bought today at 30% off, I haven't bought music or movies from Tower Records in many years. But, prior to the internet and prior to my discovery of used CD stores, Tower Records was my place to buy records and cassettes from when I first started buying music in the early 80s until the early 90s when I finally bought a CD player. I didn't buy CDs there that much, though, but I had (and still have) a huge collection of cassettes, most of them bought from Tower. And, even when I couldn't afford to buy music, I still browsed the aisles at Tower for hours, going through the import section, title by title.

In the age of the internet, it was inevitable that Tower would die. Why buy something at Tower for the full MSRP when you could buy it online or used for much, much less? I don't buy music as much as I used to (and I certainly don't buy DRM-saddled music, like that available from iTunes or any other buy-a-song-not-an-album places), but it was nice to know that, if I wanted to, I could browse through a Tower Records and, if not buy their overpriced product, at least find something that I could look up online and buy at a lower cost later.

I will miss Tower Records. I will not miss old George.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Minor Pet Peeve

I have a pet peeve about pizza places and other restaurants that let you call in your order. If you have a web site that lists your phone number and menu, why don't you put the phone number on the same page as your menu? You get this right when you send out your coupons in the postal mail—the phone number is printed right there on the circular—so why can't you get this right on the web?

I admit it's minor, but still, I hate having to keep one tab open with the menu and the other tab open with the phone number.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My new Halloween costume - Crikey!

Read all about it: South Park mocks Steve Irwin's death  

Personally, I think it's hilarious. And I love the fact that the ray is still attached. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thoughts on the CNN Iraq Sniper Videos

I was in a hotel room in Vienna this week when I saw the CNN footage of Iraqi snipers shooting U.S. military personnel and I knew it was a subject that I wanted to blog about as soon as I got back home. When I saw the video, several thoughts came to mind. First, I thought it was about time that the mainstream news media finally reported on the true face of war. War is not pretty, people get killed or maimed and showing just how vulnerable American troops are when they are sent in to any war is what the American public needs to see. My next thought was, "Shocking? How can CNN think this is shocking? Hell, all that the insurgents are doing is the same thing that American soldiers do. How is the "enemy" using their snipers any different from us using our snipers? There was even a retired military officer saying the exact same thing - that the insurgents are using snipers because it works and we know it works because we use snipers as well. Plus, our smart bombs that we used extensively at the start of the war are essentially snipers with huge bullets - the atack comes from an unseen enemy. Why would anyone be shocked by this footage?

Of course, no one with any intelligence that cares to think about the consequences of Bush's illegal war on Iraq would think that this footage is shocking. Which is why its no surprise that CNN's decision to air the footage has been widely condemned by Republican leaders and conservative talk show hosts (see news story), which is exactly what I found when I got back home today from Europe.

On a side note, now that I'm back, I've downloaded the over 1,800 photos that I took during my vacation to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria from my camera to my computer and I'll be going through them and uploading the best to Flickr and blogging about the trip later. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kids These Days

Teen Mishap (IMG_3629)
Originally uploaded by orayzio.
So I'm driving home through the neighborhood and this scene caught my eye. I rushed home, grabbed my camera and came back for this photo set.

According to a friend at the scene, two 16-year old kids decided to make a run to 7/11 for a Slurpee. They were on their way back, heading down this alley (probably too fast) when their right front tire caught the anchoring cable for the telephone pole. The car rode straight up the cable and got stuck there. The kid sitting down was the driver.

Incidentally, I was a member of the South Park Action Council when the mural on the wall was painted. SPAC sponsored the mural.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Schmapped for Flagstaff

Schmapped for Flagstaff
Originally uploaded by orayzio.
I just received word that 8 of my photos on Flickr have been included in the Schmap Flagstaff Guide. Cool!

I've created a photo set with the selected photos and added a link to download the Schmap Player and the Flagstaff guide to my sidebar.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Administration Leak Comes From the Very Top - "W" Hisself!

From U.S. News & World Report comes this wonderful bit of news about our commander-in-chief:
Animal House in the West Wing

He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.

Yes, you read that right. Bush lets out a fart as a first impression. Thank you red state voters.

Actually, that sounds pretty much just like his domestic policy and his foreign policy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Floors, Part II- Finished!

Just a quick followup on an earlier post to say that our floors have been finished and we love them. I've updated the photo set with the final pictures. Now we just need to paint!

CUTEK, the Symitar conference, and the Village People

Originally uploaded by orayzio.
Last year, Jim Stickley of Trace Security threw a great party during the Symitar conference. Billed as "I Hung with Trace Security", William Hung performed several songs and a lot of drunk clients, Symitarians and vendors danced and sang karaoke. It was a blast.

Well, they topped themselves this year and CUTEK got to be a cosponsor. The 2nd annual "I Hung with Trace Security" brought back William Hung as the opening act, but featured an hour-long Village People concert. I even got to go back stage and meet the "people". (Well, actually, we were herded in for a quick photo and then herded back out.) They haven't given us that photo yet, but I did manage to take a bunch of photos myself during the show. You can see them here.

The party was great, the Village People were, well, they were the Village People so what else can you say.

The best part of both the Village People concert and the whole Symitar conference this week wss getting to see old friends, ex-coworkers and my clients, both from my many years at Symitar and my last year at CUTEK. It was really great, but am I ever exhausted.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why the Hell Hasn't This Woman Been Sent Back to Mexico?

I live in San Diego and I like to read the newspaper, so I subscribe to the only daily newspaper available in San Diego, the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Time. I receive delivery Friday through Sunday and a story from Friday's edition caught my eye. Here's an excerpt:
An illegal immigrant couple with six children were already living in poverty. Then the quadruplets arrived. They're still in a daze.

This story has everything: illegal immigration, drug smuggling, "trying for a boy" as a reason to have more children than you can afford, blind-faith in religion, and your tax dollars at work. Go ahead and read 6 + 4 = 1 Tenuous Existence and then come back for my comments... I'll wait.

First off, I'm a liberal. I'm not a Democrat and I'm not a Republican. I believe that governments have a duty to provide for the health and welfare of their citizens, guests, and visitors. I pay taxes and I'm happy to pay taxes because I believe that good government is a good thing. And that's why I believe that the goverment absolutely should provide for this woman and her children -- with the important distinction being that it should be her government (Mexico), not the U.S. government and not the California government.

This woman has spent 22 years in this country illegally and there is nothing in the article to indicate that she has ever been deported, that there has ever been any action by any government agency to ever try to deport her, and there seems to be no action to deport her now. Instead, she is allowed to live here illegally.

To add insult to injury, this woman admits to taking fertility drugs that were smuggled into this country from Mexico. Did she have a prescription for these drugs? Is our government investigating this illegal drug smuggling and illegal drug use?

Is this article supposed to make me feel bad for her? I don't. She and her husband already had two teenage daughters (not counting her husband's children with other women), were living beyond their means, when they decided to have more children by illegal means in a country that they were illegally living in. She even had her tubal ligation reversed so that she could try for a boy (her husband is quoted as saying, "I wanted a son because I didn't have one.")

Oh sure, she tried birth control, but gave that up "when it made her nauseated". And then she's "stunned" to find out that she was pregnant with quadruplets? The title of the article should have been "fertility drug abuse + failure to use birth control = consequences for stupid people".

I'm sorry. Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe she's not stupid, maybe she and her husband are just selfish. After all, she's one of 10 siblings herself. Never mind that they can't afford any of their children.

Or am I looking at this wrong? After all, "God never gives us more than we can handle" (paraphrased from I Corinthians 10:13). Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

Lest there be any doubt, I am an Athiest; I don't believe in any god and I surely don't believe that The Bible is anything other than a collection of myths that, unfortunately, have had far too much influence on the world. Personally, I prefer The Boomer Bible.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I survived another Comic-Com

Originally uploaded by orayzio.
I spent 4 days at Comic-Con this year and I've got the photos to prove it.

My favorite sessions (in no particular order) were the screening of "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (and the Q&A with the filmmakers after it), the Superman Returns blooper reel at the Bryan Singer session, Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez discussing their Grind House double feature, the Daniel Clowes session and the Clerks II screening (with a Q&A with Kevin Smith after it).

Actually, the Clerks II screening was separate from Comic-Con, but since I found out about it at the View Askew booth and since it was populated heavily by Comic-Con attendees, it's related.

All-in-all, an exhausting experience.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush is Holier Than Thou

As he issued his first veto of his presidency, Bush also issued the following statement:
Yet we must also remember that embryonic stem cells come from human embryos that are destroyed for their cells. Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value.

Bullshit, I say.

A human blastocyst
Yes, embryonic stem cells come from human embryos, but these human embryos are at the blastocyst stage. For those of you who missed or forgot human biology, a blastocyst is a very small collection of cells that have not yet been implanted in the uterus and might never be implanted in the uterus and might never grow to become a baby. To call a blastocyst a "unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value" is to call an acorn a tree.

Bush likes to frame his issues in terms of moral values, but they're his personal moral values and not the moral values of the majority of Americans and they're certainly not my moral values.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Scientology Museum: Industry of Idiocy

I was driving along Sunset Blvd in Hollywood the other day when I passed by a building that proclaimed itself, "Museum of Psychiatry: Industry of Death". Only later, after someone forwarded me an email solicitation for a free "Personality Test", did I realize the building was a new Scientology museum. Los Angeles CityBeat reported on this new "museum" in an article earlier this year, shortly after it opened.

If you're an idiot or just curious (hopefully, my readers are the latter), you can read the press release from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Floors

New Bedroom Floor (IMG_3162)
Originally uploaded by orayzio.
We are in the process of having our carpeting and most of our tile replaced throughout the house with new hardwood floors.

The first phase of the project is complete and our master bedroom has a new wood floor.

The second phase of the project is demolition of the carpet and tile and nailing down of the new hardwood floors.

The third phase is final sanding and finishing.

We have finished the second phase and are waiting for the third phase to begin in 3 weeks.

I've posted photos of the process to my Flick site and will continue to add new photos as the project progresses.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An Open Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California)

Dear Senator,

As one of your constituents, I was horrified to read your editorial in USA Today announcing your support of a constitutional amendment to ban "physical desecration" of the U.S. flag. You should know that such an amendment would effect the desecration of the first amendment by banning a (currently) protected form of political speech. I have a hard time believing that you call yourself a Democrat yet would have the constitution amended for the first time since the 18th amendment to take back our rights.

Of course, it should not surprise me that you support such an abomination as you have publicly supported another attack on the first amendment when you pushed for funding of religion in California (The California Missions Preservation Act).

You seem almost eager to repeal the first amendment and this is deeply troubling to me. I urge you to reconsider this issue, come to your senses, and realize that any constitutional amendment that takes away citizen's rights for political reasons must be rejected on the same principle and using the same arguments that you currently use to support it.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ray Pennisi

Monday, May 22, 2006

Google Conspiracy Theory Followup

As a follow-up to my previous post, Google Maps has changed their software and I get much saner results when I search for shooting range near 92102.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Blogger Template Tweaked Today

I spent several hours today researching and then tweaking the templates for both this blog and my GGHPC blog. I started with the Minima template and made the following adjustments:
  • Switched orangish colors to navy (mostly post headings)

  • Changed hover color to red

  • Changed from fixed-pixel widths to percentage widths

  • Changed the fonts

  • Adjusted margins

I also experimented with a custom styles for printing, but I could not get the results I wanted so I left printing alone. Everything looks great in Firefox, but IE looks terrible - the blog titles are partially obscured by the navbar and I can't figure out what to change to fix it. If you know what to do, please let me know.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Oh, those damn Mexicans and atheists

I need to brush up on mi español so that I can sing the national anthem in Spanish while waving my Italian flag and marching up Mt. Soledad to tear down the cross. Oh, and I need to do this while not buying anything... oh wait, that was May 1... damn, too late.

I consider myself lucky. I only received one or two racist emails (from people who should know better) that were absolutely outraged that the Mexicans were going to have a boycott. You know the complaint, how dare these illegals criticize America when they're the ones both (somehow) stealing our jobs and clogging the welfare rolls. Don't they know that freedom isn't free? Oh wait, am I mixing up my self-righteous indignation causes? Is it the Mexicans or is it al Qaeda that was responsible for 9/11? Or maybe it's those goddamned atheists that want to ban the pledge, take prayer out of the schools, and tear down crosses. Hey, I just realized - al qaeda... una quesadilla - OMG!

Anyway, these racist emails advocated shopping on May 1 to counteract the effect of all those damn immigrants not shopping on May 1. Wow. Now, that's a grasp on economics that you can only get by listening to Fox News (or getting drunk at Yale with your daddy's money). Of course! The solution to the immigration problem is more shopping!

I'm not going to pretend that I'm an expert at world affairs or that I understand what drives the global economy, but I've paid close enough attention over the years to realize that the people that are complaining the most are the same people that got us into the trouble that we're in. NAFTA was signed by the first Bush in 1992 and, it could be argued, is what caused this huge increase in illegal immigration. Well, at least China's economy is getting stronger.

If you want my thoughts on the matter (actually, I don't care if you want my thoughts or not - this is my blog), amnesty is a bad idea. I'm not against immigrants, but I am against illegal immigration. Amnesty would be unfair to all the legal immigrants that have been waiting 5 or 6 years for a green card. Also, with a current 5-6 year backlog and the Republicans averse to funding anything, any amnesty program that they propose would never have enough funding to actually work. No, my suggestion is to crack down on anyone that hires an illegal immigrant. Impose stiff fines or tax penalties on these companies and make it not worth their while to hire someone that is not here legally. Then, use those funds to actually fund the existing system to allow the immigrants that are here legally to get their green cards in a more timely manner.

But, enough about immigration, let's get back to something more dear to my heart. The Mt. Soledad Cross. Not the cross, itself, of course. I hate the cross. No, it's the 15-year old case to take down the cross that is dear to my heart. The case of the Mt. Soledad cross is clear to any reasonable person; a giant Latin cross on public land is painfully obvious as a violation of both the U.S. constitution and the California constitution. And it was ruled unconstitutional back in 1991. And every court in the land has agreed with this decision since then. The cross needs to come down, the cross should have come down, and if there is any fairness in the law, the cross will come down soon. Of course, our gutless elected politicians will spend as much public money as they can to appease the Christian majority in this town and to keep fighting for the cross and against what is the right thing to do.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

Wimps, Sausages, and TV

I really wish the Democrats would get their act together and actually do something. Bush's ratings are at an all-time low, the American public has overwhelmingly turned against the war in Iraq and is convinced that it's a "bad thing", the majority of Americans know that Bush broke the law with his domestic wiretapping program, and yet, the Democrats are afraid to support a censure of George. Come on! It's a no-brainer... just like W himself.

No, the Democrats are too easily intimidated by words. Words from Republicans that claim that if you're not for the administration, you might as well be giving handjobs to the terrorists. I've always been disgusted by the Republican leadership, but the Democrats have shown that they also serve the Republican leadership with their inactions.

Off my soapbox, let me check in with my local world. Kara and I just had a wonderful dinner at The Linkery, followed by coffee at Rebecca's Coffee House. We dined and sipped with our friends and former-closer neighbors Tony and Edith. The Linkery is a local restaurant that specializes in homemade sausages and serves delicious food with an extensive and varied menu. This is our third time dining there and the food has been excellent each time. Tonight, I had seafood sausage tacos (made with mahi mahi, scallops, and shrimp) and the "sun salad" and we all shared the picnic plate appetizer with a chicken tarragon sausage. They have a menu on their web site as well as a blog that read regularly. Rebecca's is our local coffee house with the best scones in the world (I don't think they have a web site, so I can't link to it).

Finally, I want to mention that we've finally given up on Netflix due to their discriminatory DVD distribution process (the more DVDs you rent per month, the slower they ship new DVDs to you). Also in the last month or so, we've upgraded our TV antenna to DirecTV (with a DVR) and opened a membership in Citizen Video, a brand-spanking new DVD rental place in our neighborhood that specializes in foreign and independent movies. Thanks to the DVR, Kara has been able to watch all those Law & Order (all the different flavors of L&O, of course!) episodes that she never got to see before and I get to catch up on Daria.

Monday, February 13, 2006

See Dick Shoot, Penguins, and Kudos for Amazon.com

It's really too bad that Dick prefers hunting lawyers with a lawyer over hunting with G.W.

We just finished watching the DVD of March of the Penguins, which includes some very cool extra documentaries and shorts that, combined, are longer than the feature itself. Very charming, indeed.

Speaking of DVD, I received a copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High as a holiday gift and I just got around to watching it the other night. I've seen the movie many times in the past, but Kara had never seen it before. It's a bit dated, but still a very good movie. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the DTS track to work and the track advertised as Dolby 5.1 would only play as stereo on my receiver. But, this gets to the point of this post. I was rather disappointed with the sound but since Kara had given it to me at the end of December and she had bought it from Amazon back in October, there was no way I could return this defective disk and expect a refund.

Thinking that I might have a shot at an exchange with a personal appeal, I filled out the contact form on Amazon.com, explained my predicament, and asked if there was any possibility of an exchange, since this was obviously a defective disc (after all, my other DTS discs played fine.)

The next night, we rented Junebug and I noticed that the sound wasn't right on this disk either. Uh oh, something was wrong with my receiver, I surmised, and started fiddling with the controls. I have a Sony STR-DE995 audio video receiver that I purchased 3 years ago and I had misplaced the manual. Fortunately, Google came to my rescue and I figured out that I (or Kara) had somehow ... well it's a bit technical, but suffice it to say, I changed some settings and miraculously, the sound was back to perfect. I quickly checked my Fast Times DVD and, voilá , the DTS track sounded wonderful.

Tonight, after a long commute to HelL.A. and back, I check my e-mail and I see that Amazon has written to say that they're making an exception to their return policy in light of my circumstances and that they're already sending me a brand new copy of Fast Times along with a return label so I can send back in my "defective" disk. I feel bad that I was wrong about the DVD being bad, but I really have to point out that Amazon.com has just provided excellent customer service. Kudos!

On a separate note, Junebug was an odd little movie, but Amy Adams really did deliver a standout performance.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Google Maps search for Shooting Ranges identifies government buildings and local newspapers as targets

I found out that you don't need own a gun to take advantage of a shooting range and it seemed like a fun way to blow off some steam on a weekend afternoon, but I wasn't sure if there was a shooting range near my neighborhood. So, I turned to Google Maps and searched for shooting ranges near 92102.

Sure enough, Google produced a list of nearby shooting ranges in the left pane, but what was initially amusing became disturbing as I continued to click the markers on the map. In addition to legitimate shooting ranges, Google maps identified these sites for shooting ranges near 92102:
  • San Diego Daily Transcript, a newspaper
  • San Diego Union Tribune, a newspaper
  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • San Diego County Library Law
  • San Diego County Superior Court
  • Downtown Information Center
  • San Diego Public Library
  • San Diego Convention Center
  • Yellow Cab Company
I'm not sure what to make of this, but if I was a conspiracy theorist...

Here's a photo of the search (click for a larger version):

Heading to Columbus and Canarsie Memories

I'm heading to Columbus, Ohio for a week of work. I was last there about 13 years ago and I really liked the town. Of course, that was a mid-summer visit when the weather was very nice. This time I can look forward to possible rain, possible snow, and overall cold weather (compared to San Diego).

On a separate note, a simple (dark, even) photo of street signs at East 92nd Street and Bay View Place in Canarsie, Brooklyn, NY, has inspired more comments than anything else I've photographed.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Roman Catholics are Smarter Than Fundamentalist Christians

According to a report from the Associated Press:
The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying "intelligent design" is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.
"This isn't how science is done," he wrote. "If the model proposed by Darwin is deemed insufficient, one should look for another, but it's not correct from a methodological point of view to take oneself away from the scientific field pretending to do science."

I was having an argument a few weeks ago with a friend who I would categorize as an agnostic (he might or might not agree) and he was vehemently in support of teaching Intelligent Design in the classroom. If I was a better debater, I might have been able to convince him of the error of his ways. Since I'm not that great at debating, I'm going to forward this to him to see if it changes his mind.

Of course, the guy is an Apple evangelist, so I might as well give up on trying to change him.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alito, No!

I had to drive up to HelL.A. three times this week, which means I spent over 12 hours in my car listening to San Diego, Orange, and L.A. county radio stations. Much of that time was spent either listening to Alito hearings live or listening to the coverage of hearings on "progressive talk radio" stations.

I'm not sure what I think about Alito, but I do know that it's not the same as before the hearings. Before the hearings, the liberal press had demonized Alito as someone who would roll back Roe, suffocate civil liberties, put God back in schools, and would essentially hand the judicial branch over to the Republicans.

I will cede one thing to the pro-Alito side: the Vanguard issue is a non-issue. I listened to the questions and answers on this issue live during the hearings and I think Alito acted correctly. In this case, the Democrats/liberals were making much ado about nothing.

I wasn't even bothered too much that Alito refused to answer the question about whether he still believes that the Roe vs. Wade decision was unconstitutional, which is what he stated twenty years ago. It's pretty much what I expected from any nominee these days, whether they are Republican or Democrat; they're not going to answer that question. Of course Alito wants to overturn Roe and of course the Republicans and the Bush administration expect this to be true or they wouldn't be so gung-ho on the guy. It's just something that wasn't going to be "discovered" during the hearings.

But, the thing that troubled me the most about Alito, even more than his snub of his wife at the end of the hearings, is his dance around the issue of whether someone who can be proven innocent in real life after being proven guilty in court has a constitutional right not to be executed for the crime that they are innocent of. Instead of giving a common sense answer, "of course they do", Alito showed his lack of common sense and his bureaucratic leanings by rambling on about how the person would have to avail himself of the court appeal process. In essence, he would have no problems with executing an innocent person.

Is this the kind of person that we want on the Supreme Court, deciding our fate for the next 30 years? Well, I take back my initial statement of unsuredness - I can't support Alito and I hope that the Democrats stop his ascension to the throne court.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Catch of the Day

My wife writes for a living, so I finally convinced her to start her own blog: Catch of the Day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

God saves miners, then changes mind

Just before bed last night, I caught a news report that 12 miners that had been trapped in a mine had somehow survived lethal carbon monoxide levels and had been found alive. The news report showed one of the family members saying something to the effect, "Our creator answered our prayers and saved our family" and "It's a miracle".

After I woke up this morning, I learned that the news of a miraculous rescue was a mistake and that, in fact, the 12 miners had died.

I truly feel sorry for the families of these miners, both for losing beloved family members and for having their hopes dashed. I lost both my brothers in a car accident many years ago and I know how painful such a loss can be.

However, anyone that was previously praising their "creator" for a miracle rescue who is now blaming the mining company and not their "creator" for the deaths of these poor miners needs to be slapped back into reality and slapped for being hypocritical. You can't have it both ways.