Saturday, December 27, 2008

After the holiday

Our (rather dull) days after Christmas:

My son rose at 6am to buy some video games at Game Stop - I suspect the buy-2-get-one-free would be the only reason he would get up at that ungodly hour. Then he and his dad assembled his new mega-microscope and spent some time gazing at blood and guts slides.

I took my mom shopping to spend her Trader Joe's gift cards, and to stock up on the special bread and gluten-free stuffs my dad eats. Then we hit Hoffs Hut for a gut busting lunch.

In the meantime, my hub was extraordinarily lazy. He really deserved it, as he rarely has any time to just hang out and do nothing. By the end of the day, he had perfected the slug fest. I think he succeeded in creating a new world record: eight straight hours of playing Tribal Wars. What's funny about that is at one time we all played this time waster. Hub is the only one to still maintain his empire - I think it's his innate managing abilities that has made him the most successful - I quit ages ago. But damn, it is high maintenance.

Last night we picked up Nick's friend Mat and they spent too much time hanging out and playing their new video games.

Against my better judgement, we went to the mall. Not too many great sales at Macys, which was a big disappointment. Old Navy was a big time waste of time. Now I know why I don't bother.

Today, we'll be going to a USC basketball game. We have eight tickets, and so far, only four of us are going. We have to find a group with as little to do as us. Postscript: Frank gave some of the tickets away to a scalper. What a guy.

No chestnuts roasting, snowman building, fireplace lounging, or caroling. Hope your post holiday was more fruitful than ours.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mary Kris Mas!

Yup, I'm blogging on Christmas - it's actually because we have our big celebration on Christmas Eve. We eat like ravenous dogs, open our gifts and do a white elephant gift exchange, all in my tiny living room. Then we sleep in in on Christmas.

Favorite white elephant gift: the bikini clad rubber chicken.
Least favorite white elephant gift: the candles that my son got, after the potato spud gun he picked got stolen from him.

Cutest gift: my son got a tiny robot that walks around by radio control. It looks like a funny green bug.

Favorite gift food item: salty caramels from Trader Joes. Sounds weird, tastes great. Hopefully, my dental work holds out.


Anyway, drop a line to let me know what weird and wonderful stuff you got this holiday, and cheers!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Say hello...

...to my new follower, and take a gander at his blog.

To the pretty gal on the Green line - he's cute, smart, and environmentally sensitive.

To Johnny:
YOU SHOULDA ASKED FOR HER NUMBER!!!.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Used Bread Store

Okay, so technically, it's not really used. Maybe I should call it 'The Pre-Owned Bread Store".

Located on Sepulveda Boulevard, just east of Cabrillo, the Oroweat Baking Co. has an outlet where they sell the bread that doesn't sell in regular grocery store - I think the bread is what is not sold by the time new bread is delivered the next day. They also carry Entenmanns, Milton Breads, Boboli and an assortment of other baked goods.

On Sundays, the outlet sells bread for a buck a loaf - given bread can be 3-4 dollars a piece, its a pretty darn good deal, plus they throw in a freebie loaf. Their typical Sunday customers are retired people. And us.

There was another 'Used Bread Store' on Western Ave. in Torrance - the Webers Bread Outlet. My mom would drag, er, I mean, we'd walk there, and we'd buy stuff, to my absolute embarrassment. I thought, why can't she just buy bread at the regular store like everyone else?

In retrospect, humility was good for me. Honestly, there is no difference between the bread you buy at these places and the stuff at the grocery store, except for one day. The stuff sits longer on my refrigerator. My mom had successfully passed on her cheap genes to me. Thanks Mom!

My husband is as big a cheapskate as I am, and took (dragged) my son to the outlet today. Son wasn't thrilled about it until the checker informed them that they could get a FREE box of chocolate or glazed donuts. Whoopie!

We're not only cheap, but we get excited about free day old donuts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sports Museum of Los Angeles



For the two sports nuts in my family, this couldn't be happier news - a new sports museum, right down the freeway, a stones throw from the Staples Center. It's opening to the public on November 28th.

Permanent collections at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles include a multitude of sports, ranging from baseball, basketball, football, tennis, boxing, horse racing, biking, golf and swimming.

32,000 feet of goodies to drool over.

If you're a soccer or hockey fan you'll be disappointed. BUT, the collection will continue to grow, so be patient.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

ToRRanSk8ers

The title is my pathetic attempt to be cool. Anywhooo...

I've noticed our street corner has become a popular hangout for the local skateboard kids - the business on the corner is friendly (or at least tolerant) of the skate boarders who come around to use their driveway ramp for jumps and tricks. They're a disheveled crew of skinny pant wearing, shaggy mopped boys, defying gravity and scraping the ragged edge of the concrete incline. I imagine there's a lot of scraped elbows and knees in the group.

I watch them out of the corner of my eye, but I'm afraid they'll think I'm scrutinizing their activities, and they scatter if they attract too much attention.

We were exiting the Crossroads Vons this evening and watched a group of kids skating the parking lot near the Office Depot where there weren't many cars. I wondered where else there is to skate, as I suspect it would be a matter of time before they would be chased away.

In my old neighborhood we kids did lot of roller skating - I'm sure we made a heck of a lot of noise, as our wheels were metal or clay, and there was anywhere from 2 to 8 of us at any one time - KRITCH SCRITCH KRITCH SCRITCH all summer long. No one ever complained, even when we rolled over the dichondra, which was about the worse thing we did. I don't remember anyone leaping on a wall, although I do recall empty swimming pools being used for skating.

I never skateboarded - the one time I did I ran over my fingers.

Lately, I've noticed little metal tabs being bolted to every handrail, cement bench, planter box, picnic table, ledge or stair in an effort to thwart grinding. Is it a liability issue, or property destruction prevention? I'm not sure. I do suspect those intrepid little skaters will find someway to overcome.

Or, at least start a business.

And promote it, right here in Torrance:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

RMIT Best Hamburger

I'm sitting here feeling kinda peckish. So, I thought I'd write about one of my favorite foods, locally speaking.

I may be a little prejudiced - I used to work with J.K. back in the day - but I think Rascals Teriyaki Grill has, hands down, the best hamburger around - the Teriyaki Avocado Burger. Purrrrfectly whole sliced bermuda onion sliced paper thin, tomato, whole leaf lettuce, mayo, nice substantial sesame seed bun, juicy turkey or beef patty (or vegetarian, if you prefer), teriyaki sauce PLUS avocado - who could ask for anything more? It is perfection on a bun - messy, but yummy. It's reminiscent of the Thunderburger A.T.B. in Gardena, which is long gone, but not forgotten.

The perfect side is, not fries, not the chinese chicken salad, but for me, the cole slaw. It doesn't have mayo, rather, it's made with an asian dressing and little ramen noodles. Mahvelous.

It's a good thing it's so late, or I might have made a Rascal's run NOW.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video Gewgaw, Egg Cuber

!

The first Video Gewgaw features my Egg Cuber, an odd, yet well made little contraption from the 1970s. Today was the first time I ever used it, and filmed it, for posterity. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gone, but not forgotten, sort of

I'm in a nostalgic mood this week. Here are some old haunts that are no longer:

1. The Shamrock Roller Rink: Located in Old Torrance, near the Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge. A popular teen hangout when I was in high school.

2. Tommy's: Located behind the Depot, next to a car wash in Old Torrance. My husband and I ate there almost every week before our son was born. Every meal was like 1000+ calories, but we were skinny. What happened? Hub always ordered the steak and eggs.

3. Old stores at Del Amo:

JK Gill: Got all my Formaline materials here, until I discovered Walsers.

Woolworths: This was located in the Del Amo mall between Ohrbach's (what is now Marshall's) and Montgomery Wards (where I never shopped). When I got married, I bought my first christmas ornaments there - white satin balls.

Ohrbach's: I did a lot of shopping there, as I mentioned in a previous post, especially after high school. They specialized in designer knock-offs (not the illegal kind.)

Petrie's: This was a junior clothing store, cheap as chips. I worked there for 2 years when I was about 16. We had non-electronic cash registers, and had to count back change and memorize totals including tax. During the Christmas rush, customers would be lined up all around the perimeter of the store.

Hartfield's: Located on the Sears side when it was an open air mall - my sister shopped there for clothes.

Judy's: More upscale than Petrie's, I could rarely afford to actually buy clothes there, but I shopped just the same. Love their logo.

I. Magnins: Once I was gainfully employed, I started spending more time here and at...

Bullocks: I worked in the furniture department while in college. The best thing about this place, which is now Macy's, was the Tea Room. My mom and I used to go there for their crustless sandwiches and the fashion shows.

The candy and nut counter at Sears: My parents were regulars at Sears. We would shop there almost every Saturday or Sunday, and my dad would take us kids to the candy counter, where we would get free samples of toffee peanuts.

4. Newberry's: Located on what is now Rolling HIlls Plaza. My friend's mom owned a catholic gift store in the same strip mall, but facing Crenshaw. We used to eat at the lunch counter, and spy on strangers.

5. Parasol Restaurant: I think a lot of people still mourn the passing of this Googie landmark. The themed restaurant sported parasol light fixtures and all things parasol-esq. Sigh.

6. Florence Fabrics: Best fabric store in Torrance - I bought all the fabric for my wedding here.

7. Old Towne Mall: Imagine a hippy/macrame vibe blended with a bit of Knotts/Disney Main Street and shopping mall, and you have Old Towne.

8. Pussycat Theater: I never went, but a lot of my friends used to go on dates there.

9. Zody's: I really hated this store, but my mom shopped there from time to time to my complete embarrassment. I trace my intense dislike of Walmart and Kmart to this store.

10. White Front: I remember buying my first pair of rainbow striped platform E.V.A. foam slippahs at this place.

11. The Akron: A cross between a dollar store and Cost Plus. It was across the street from Zody's on Hawthorne Blvd., near what is now the Galleria.

12. Del Conte's Restaurant: Located near the Ramada Inn and under the Porche dealership. Popular in the day when people could manage to eat steak once a week, and not be 500 pounds - probably because they smoked a pack a day. Their clientele died off, or lost their teeth.

13. The Rhodium as an actual drive-in.

14. The McDonalds near Artesia on Van Ness Blvd. This was the first McD's in the area, designed with the classic yellow arches that framed the building.

15. The Begonia Farm: Once an actual working farm. Lovely spot, family owned. For my sister, conveniently located right around the corner from...

16. The Super Yarn Mart: Bright shocking pink building that sold - you guessed it. All yarn, all the time.

17. Fox Market: This was located at the corner of 182nd and Van Ness where the Nijiya market is today. I remember walking there from our home in Gardena.

18. Krispy Kreme: I'm really pissed they couldn't make a go of it in Torrance. They were at the PCH location for, what, a year???

19. The Christmas Tree Farm: On Crenshaw Blvd., north of Lomita Blvd., where a golf store is now. My hub and I would slog through the mud to cut down a lush scotch pine for the holidays.

20. The Value Village Thrift Store: This was a really good thrift in Old Torrance - I was broken hearted when it closed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ramen Song



In honor of my blog's one follower I have put together a little video compilation. The inspiration for this is here.

Enjoy!

Taste of Torrance, Walser's

I've been going to Walser's Art Store since my college days when it was located at this charming spot off Hawthorne Blvd.



I bought my first paste up waxer there. I guess I'm just 'waxing' a little nostalgic...a little old fogy graphic design pun there...

It's still the best art store in the area, typically well stocked. It carries a range of professional art supplies you can't buy at craft stores, gifts, books, digital products, etc. Currently located at an out-of-sight location on Kashiwa Court.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mr. President



This is the first time the President of the United States is YOUNGER THAN ME!!!!!!

The Gewgaw, Check File from Ohrbach's


Remember Ohrbach's? I used to love shopping there for clothes.

This little organizer is from around the 1950s. The original price tag - a rather elaborate setup with a white string and a little metal tab - is dangling from the elastic band around the middle. Sold for 89 cents. I paid 25 at the tiny Little Company of Mary Thrift on Torrance and Hawthorne Blvds.

There's a graphic of a combination safe dial on the cover - I know my checks will be absolutely secure in a cardboard case with a drawing of a lock and an iron-clad elastic band keeping it closed.

I'm using it for coupons.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

10,000

This number is probably what some blogs get in a day - after a year, I'm finally there.

Hi, I'm an addict.

I admit it. I've come to accept the fact that I am not in control, and my addiction has taken over my life. I am ready to stand before you (rather, SIT before you) and say MY NAME IS SUSAN AND I AM A CANDYHOLIC.

My current preference is not a high quality truffle or creamy fondant. No, my candy of choice is the sugary equivalent of Ripple - Airheads®.



Here's what the company responsible for this evil has to say about it:

About 700 million AirHeads bars are consumed annually. If laid end to end, they would circle the Earth twice!

I have personally eaten enough to reach Albuquerque.

These tart little molar-rotting chews have been my secret vice. I hid them in a corner of the most remote room in the house - this was a move to 'discourage' me from eating them.

It didn't work.

The signs of addiction finally became obvious. I had been hiding the empty wrappers from my family. My tongue turned odd colors. I brushed my teeth 7 times a day not only to defy the bacterial invasion into my oral cavity but to cover up my watermelon Airhead breath.

With over 100 mini candies in the enormous sack, I came to realize I'd be dead from a sucrose overdose before the bag was empty. It took all the intestinal fortitude I could muster to give them away last night.

Damn trick-or-treaters.

The Daily Link - What, me on it?

I noticed my blog made it to the Daily Link.

Then, as I was scanning the archives, this popped up. And this.

Gee, I'm famous.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

South Bay Film Festival Video Flyer (Nov 1st 6:00 pm @ El Camino College)

Top 10 Things Not To Buy New

I was doing my junkin' thang today at my favorite Carson hot spot.

I purchased several plastic blow molded halloween trick-or-treat containers - two ghosts and a skull. I hang them from my tree with some battery operated tea lights, and they glow quite nicely - all three for less than $1.

It came to me that thrift stores always have an abundance of certain items. No matter where I go, there's always tons of these particulars on the shelves. There is such a surplus of these at garage sales, rummage sales and thrifts that I've concluded one should NEVER NEVER NEVER buy them new. Here they are:

10. Serving Trays. How many of these things do you really need, and how many times do you actually use one?

9. Picture Frames. So what if they're not the right color, paint the darn thing, and voila - it looks as good as anything you can pay $20 for new.

8. Wine Glasses. What's the difference between a 65 cent goblet and a $40 one? If you buy the 65 cent one, you can spend $39.35 on a really good bottle of wine.

7. Kid Videos. Yeah, yeah, no one sells new video tapes. But why spend $15 on a Little Mermaid CD - do you really think a 4 year old cares about Hi Def?

6. Glass Vases. If I had a dollar for every vase I've seen at a thrift store, I'd be able to buy real estate in Manhattan.

5. Kid Books. I've found every conceivable popular paperback for young readers and I've never paid more than 50 cents.

4. Candy Dishes. Also known as nut dishes, condiment dishes, pickle dishes. Unless you're 80 years old and put doilies on your sofa you don't use these things, and certainly do NOT need to buy a new one. Or an old one, for that matter.

3. Coffee Mugs. I don't need all my mugs to match. Frankly, when I have guests, it's good for everyone to have a different mug, so everyone knows which is theirs.

2. Christmas decorations. People throw these out by the TRUCKLOADS. You name it - glass balls, ornaments, lights, serving dishes, wreaths, trees, candles, cards, jewelry. You can deck out an entire home for less money than 5 new ornaments.

1. Microwave cookbooks. For every one regular cookbook, there are five of these. I suspect it is because no one actually cooks with a microwave.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pocket Protectors!




My dad wore a pocket protector everyday. They were the kind of item you could buy for 15 cents at the local pre-mega stationery store. I think every aerospace employee (male) had one. In the 1960's they were as ubiquitous as the skinny tie and the short sleeve button down shirt.

By the 1990s they were rare indeed. I did buy one through the Archie McPhee catalog; however, it had a picture of a slug on it. My dad used it anyway.

The last one I found was part of a promotional goodie bag I got at the Gutenburg Festival, probably over 15 years ago. It was quite groovy, with the graphics done by designer Chuck Anderson.

Then nothing. My dad has been repairing his last vinyl protector with tape and staples.

Struck gold today at Office Depot. On clearance, for the whopping price of $0.50, a package of three clear vinyl protectors. I bought six packages. Dad will be pleased.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bonds, bonds, everywhere bonds

Just when I came to grips with paying for a Torrance school bond, come to find out I'll be paying for LAUSD school bonds.

Dammit, grandma!

The Gewgaw, Cross-eyed Kitty with Toothache



Perhaps this was a decorative item for a dentist who liked cats. Or a vet who specialized in cat dentistry. Or a get-well item for someone with an impacted molar.

I don't think you'll see another quite like it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nice lady at City of Torrance

A very funny and friendly woman with the Public Works department called me this morning to discuss on ongoing trash issue with the neighbors - I think she understood my exasperation, lets hope something's done.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lowe's hits new low



I don't waste time despising retailers who treat customers like crap. I simply don't do business there. Or, I find someway to get even. In recognition of the substandard, crappy service received at the Lowe's Home Improvement Center conveniently located across the street from their competitor Home Depot at the Torrance Crossroads, here's something certain to show up on Google - LOWE'S SUCKS. Better still, LOWE'S BLOWS.

My in-laws purchased a BBQ grill on October 4th. Lowe's has a really REALLY big sign that claims that they assemble things, like said BBQ grill, for no charge. Free. According to the receipt, the assembled grill was ready for pick up on October 7th.

My in-laws returned to Lowe's on the 7th. Said grill was not assembled. They were told to return (this) Saturday, the 11th, to pick up the assembled grill. Because my elderly father-in-law is disabled, the hub and I went to Lowes today, Sunday - clearly one day after they had said the grill would be complete and ready for pick up.

After waiting for about 10 minutes at the customer service counter, a fella from the assembly department (I think) sauntered up and told us there were two assembled grills, but he wasn't sure which was ours. We gave him our receipt in hopes it would help to identify it. He spoke briefly with the customer service person, then sauntered back to wherever the assembly area was - apparently Lowes doesn't allow the help to use the phone line to communicate with other areas of the building, forcing them instead to walk the length of the store to ask questions.

Ten minutes (and one game of iPhoneTetris) later, he returned to say that, in fact, our grill wasn't assembled - actually, it wasn't there at all. However, we were welcome to pick out one of the assembled ones outside the store, although 'they have scratches on them'. At this point, my hub - who is smoldering - all 6'4" of him - accompanied the fella back to the assembly area. I continued my game of Tetris, knowing full well all was not going to end well.

Apparently, the Lowes zone manager told my hub that whomever authorized the 'free' assembly, shouldn't have, and they have a procedure for these things, and it wasn't followed, therefore it was somehow our problem/fault. Maybe my 80 year old father -in-law got the employee in a neck lock and compelled him to flaunt the procedure.

Obviously, it was also our fault no one noticed this on October 7th, either.

He told us to come back sometime next week, although he couldn't say when it would be done - of course my husband said that not only should they assemble it, but they should deliver it to my in-laws, especially after all the inconvenience.

No. Not going to happen.

Stuff like this really annoys my hub - he's a stickler. He trained people in customer service at his previous job, and he takes it very seriously. Needless to say, blaming the customer for an employee error didn't sit well with him. He told (not asked) the zone manager to write his name and store manager's name and number on a piece of paper, which he did, but only begrudgingly. Come to find out, the manager returns calls only on Tuesdays. No kidding.

45 minutes after our initial arrival, we left, empty handed. I wouldn't want to be that guy tomorrow. The Angry Sicilian is going to ruin his day.


Google For Good Measure: Lowes Stinks home improvement store abysmal worst customer service poor quality clueless management

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Toxic Block

Saddest. Blog. In Torrance.

Here's a link to the Breeze story about the neighborhood.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

TUSD Dr. Mannon Y and Z Bond Measures



You can turn down the volume to the playlist at your immediate right.

This link shows some of the damage the new bond measures should address.

Typically, I hate bond measures, but Torrance schools are suffering from neglect not created by TUSD - there are schools in East LA that look better. With the housing market as bad as it is, the construction market isn't going to be all that great either - the school should get value now that contractors need their business.

My son does not attend a TUSD school even though we live in the district, but with that being said, I'm going to vote yes on both of these bond measures.

In the event the bond measures do not pass, TUSD should look at where the votes panned out - areas with a majority of 'no' votes should probably have their schools closed first. Second, areas with no new mass development - the neighbors having to live with increased traffic and congestion should get something for their trouble.

If you think your home values are tanking now, wait 'til they start closing your neighborhood schools.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Gewgaw, The Mutual Aid Society



I really love this postcard in spite of its obvious lack of PC.

It's also got a very sweet message on the back - written in a child's hand, "Dear kiss with love from George...xxx"

Postmarked 1924.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stick with Baby Kissing, please.

I'm sure everyone has seen the Obama video that hit YouTube - some describe it as cute, some as creepy.

I'm bothered it was made to appear as an inpromptu performance, when in fact it's a regular Hollywood production.

It isn't the first video of this kind.

And, It was just a matter of time before the over the top, hot button nazi parallel showed up.

I prefer the Jerry Video. But the whole thing is just a diversion to keep us from thinking about the financial mess we're in.

Oh, if you're not depressed enough about the current situation, don't watch this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My presidential choice

Dementia

While I was publishing my blog here, the darn thing mysteriously vanished for about 20 minutes.

I clicked on the bookmark, and nothing came up except the Google home page - which was odd because the address bar read http://www.randommadnessintorrance.com.

(Playing Twilight Zone music...)

With my mouth agape, I must have clicked on my link two dozen times before it occurred to me something might be terribly wrong.

I panicked. It was 2 in the morning.

I'm sure there's nothing more irritating to a help desk guy than some borderline hysterical chick with no technical expertise, and no technical vocabulary to describe her, er, my predicament.

I thought I had registered my site - which I pay for because there is no 'blogspot.com" at the end of my address - at Go Daddy, but I couldn't find any info on the wee scrap of paper I write everything on. All the poor guy could do was assure me that, in fact, the name was registered to me, but beyond that, he couldn't do much. HELLO, you don't have your customer number or password... And to make matters more embarrassing, the original blog showed up while I was speaking with him.

Even though he was polite and patient, I could sense he thought I was just another idiot who hadn't written down her information, and please don't call again unless you pull your head of your rear, thank you very much, have a nice rest-of-the-week.

After a few cleansing breaths, I searched through my old emails, and discovered that I had set up the domain through Google Apps (which parks the domain at Go Daddy, but I access it through Apps.) Of course, I didn't realize that at the time I made my call because I was having a senior moment.

I suspect Blogger was doing some late night diddling with their site.

With a sigh of relief, I went to bed, knowing all was right with the world.

Saying goodbye to my little friends



So what if they're a little careworn, embarrassing and a bit trailer trash-looking. They're sock monkey slippers!

I knew I should have bought more than one pair...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trip, Continued

We said goodbye to Boston and headed toward Salem.

While in Salem, I recommend the 'Soup Factory' for a light lunch. Three guesses what their specialty is...

After an obligatory visit to the Witch Museum and the House of the Seven Gables, we decided to take a late night tour of Salem. It was...different. Our guide was a bit of a character, dressed like a pirate, and pulled off an English accent quite believably. His girlfriend accompanied him, I guess to ward off any witches (with a 'b').


Off to Albany.

My son insisted we stop at a beach somewhere along the way. This was a picturesque spot, but I was eaten alive by all manner of no-seeums, although no one else was. I was accused of making it up, that is, until they saw the giant welts spring up all over my legs and arms.


We read about Howes Cave at our hotel, and figured, why not. It didn't disappoint. Most large caves I've been to were in state or national parks. Howes Cave is privately owned, but they've been conducting tours for almost 100 years. It was discovered by a local farmer's cows - they used the original entrance as a kind of air conditioner. The tour took about 1.5 hours - lots of spectacular formations, and a small underground river where we enjoyed a short boat ride.


Cooperstown. Baseball. If we could only make one stop, at least for the hub, this would be it. Quaint, picturesque town on Lake Otsego. You'll like it even if you're not crazy about baseball.


Ow.


While in Cooperstown, we didn't eat at the Foo Kin restaurant. We weren't in the mood for any Foo Kin chinese food.


After a visit with relatives in Albany, our last unscheduled stop was to the Stone Bridges, which is a very lovely and secluded spot with caves, sparkling streams and all the scenery you can handle. If your kids love fossils as much as mine does, the great gift shop chock full of all manner of fossils, rocks and minerals was worth the price of admission.


By the way, if you're ever in Albany, make sure to try a Boston Shake at the Tastee Freeze.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boston Trip

Our big vacation for the year was a 10 day trip to Boston and vicinity, with a stop over in Albany, NY, the hub's old home town.



The Westin had very nice fluffy beds and linens. This by far was my favorite hotel, even though it was a bit off the beaten track. We had to walk a lot to get anywhere, until we figured out how to get around on the subway.

We did the obligatory Freedom Trail walk. An old cemetery -


Little Italy - a small fiesta was going on.


We had to sample the wares.


High-five to Revere.


Nahas? I used to work at Nahas Department store in Gardena. My friend Suzanne worked the shoe department. Coincidence?


At the Public Gardens we took a trip on the Swan Boats - our paddle boat operator looked so enthusiastic, I had to snap his picture. I was thinking this job would be great for your butt and thighs.


A trip on the subway took us to this little podunk school - I think they call it Harvard. We didn't see any cahs pahked in the Yahd. However, I did snap this photo of a punk kid in a USC shirt - the nerve. One comment: Don't eat on campus - the burrito I had at the Science building was dry. (USC does have better food.)


Harvard's Natural History Museum was a nice diversion when we finally located it - I highly recommend the glass flowers collection, which is absolutely amazing.


Right down the road from MIT on the Charles River is the superb Museum of Science. We spent the whole day there. They have a math exhibit designed by Ray and Charles Eames, and their electrical exhibit is, well, electrifying - their Van de Graaf generator is the world's largest, and designed by The Man himself.


Impress your friends: What do you call glass made from a lightning strike? Fulgurite. The sample here is something like 25 feet long.


One last trip to the New England Aquarium.


From Boston we moved onto Salem, famous for witches and the mansion in the Parker Brothers' game "Clue". More to come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Gewgaw, Rainbow Brite Sprite



Rainbow Brite was way after my time and I only know a smidgen about the show - however, this was submitted by my niece who wrote:

"This is my Gewgaw and it's from 1985. He is a Sprite from the show Rainbow Brite. I got it when I was little, and no I don't remember the show much at all. This would probably be more embarrassing if it weren't made around the same time i was born."

Seeing this green tribble sprite thing reminds me of the fuzzy green foot I recently donated to a local thrift shop, one I knew wouldn't toss it. They are guaranteed to sell it to some unsuspecting foot-fetish victim. Goodwill would have probably tossed it in the dumpster.

The greatest German Baroque composer...



I admit, I'm a big Monty Python fan, and this is by far my favorite skit (well, it's tied with Dead Parrot). How Arthur Figgis, aka, Graham Chapman, managed to say "Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahn wagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nurnburger-bratwustle-gernspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shonedanker-kalbsfleisch-mitt ler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm", not once, but TWICE in one continuous uncut scene - frankly, I'm in awe. I wonder how many takes....

Although much of the name is nonsense, I ran it through Babel Fish, and this is what came out:

Johann Gambolputty de of Ausfern schplenden more schlitter crasscrenbon fried more digger dingle dangle dongle dungle burstein more banger horowitz ticolensic more grander knotty spelltinkle of grandlich grumblemeyer more spelterwasser kurstlich himbleeisen course more thrasher apple of breaker dares good evening please in more nurnburger bratwustle mitz weimache gladly kept in track more luber hundsfut more gumberaber preserves danker calf meats memo of ler more aucher from Hautkopft of Ulm?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taste of Torrance, The International Printing Museum




A while back, my son and his class went on a field trip to this museum and I tagged along - it was one of the best field trips ever.

Who knew there was such a little gem less than 10 minutes from my home? Okay, so it's not really in Torrance, but it is on Torrance Blvd, just a bit east of Torrance, a stones throw from the 110 fwy, and hidden in a little building across the street from a K-Mart in Carson.

If you like printing, type, typography, graphic arts, antiques, and history, then this is the place for you. They have a full scale replica working Gutenberg printing press, antique linowriters, presses of all types, even antique toys. Saturdays are open to the public, and special events include operating a press, and printing using the museum's collection of real wood type.

During the week, school kids are treated to a tour of the museum, and an entertaining history lesson delivered by Ben Franklin (a very good facsimile anyway). He spoke of his life as a printer, and his many inventions, including the armonica, odometer and Franklin stove. The finale included a 'shocking' introduction to an antique electrostatic generator.

I can't say enough cool things about this place - see it for yourself. For more information, look here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Las Vegas Trifecta, The Gewgaw, Scrapbook, Las Vegas



This is a bit of a cheat, as this isn't really from Lost Wages, NV, but Las Vegas, New Mexico...oh, that Las Vegas I'm sure everyone is thinking.

I have a collection (surprise!) of vintage souvenir scrap and photo albums. I especially like the 'loving hands at home' type, but this leather bound one is quite nice too. It's Genuine Leather, Made in USA by the Mayflower Company.

If you are interested in the points of interest in Las Vegas, NM (and who isn't), check this out.

Crime Story - Las Vegas as it should be

I miss the old Las Vegas.

My first trip to LV was in the 1980's before the Mirage Hotel was built. I'm forever grateful I saw it the way it was before the theme park/faux italian tumbled-marble look took over. There was something gritty and completely adult about it - I loved the kitsch and mid-century strip club look about the whole place - it was frightening and exciting and exhilarating all at the same time.

Then they put that hideous cover over downtown. I just gave up on it in disgust.

We still go about once a year, but it's only to attend a basketball tournament, or see a show. Tell me I'm not the only one who misses the sound of coinage tumbling out of the slot machines.

Anyone remember this radically cool, stylized 'wiseguy vs cop' show, suitably called "Crime Story"? Why this show was canceled and NOT Miami Vice, I'll never know. Feh.

Here's the opening sequence. Downtown has never looked more beautiful. Sigh.

& Teller, sans Penn, Lifeless in Las Vegas

I'm a big Penn & Teller fan, but it's a real treat to hear from the silent, less statuesque one. This is a movie short by Ghost Works LLC.

"When Las Vegas is hit by the epidemic, how will you tell the living from the dead?"

I'd describe it as a tongue-in-cheek nod to every '...of the Dead' movie, with a poke at Sin City for good measure. Oh, and a slight-of-hand cherry on top.



The second half, "& Teller 2" is available here, but be advised there may be images inappropriate for the chilluns - there is something disturbing about teasing a zombie with your toe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Costume anyone?

It's almost that time again - time to hit the thrift stores in search of an adequate and cheap costume for my 12 year old.

Last year, I was lucky enough to find an authentic 1960's suit and a plethora of skinny ties from the same era. Add one fedora and some sunglasses and voila, Blues Brother. Elwood, I think. Or was it the other one...

Years before: Clown, Knight, Darth Vadar, Indiana Jones (complete with whip), Buzz Lightyear, and a pumpkin,

I'm stuck this year. 12 year olds are no longer into cartoon characters. Now, they want blood and guts. Because he's kinda tall, people might give him the stink eye because he looks older. If he looks too horrifying, it's very likely no one will answer their door.

Ideas are welcome.

The Gewgaw, Organ Grinder



As a child, my parents would take a regular trip to downtown Los Angeles to Chinatown, where we'd shop the only chinese grocery store within a 20 mile radius. I recall seeing a street performer that was there almost every time we'd go. I called him the 'monkey grinder' (which now brings to mind an image of some hapless monkey going through a meat grinder, yuck.) We'd hand pennies to the little monkey.

This little ceramic piece is a stereotypical Eye-talian organ grinder, who handily dispenses powdered cheese.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Walker - Scandinavian Style

My dad is finally coming around, and will be purchasing a rolling walker.

Stubborn as he is, he has resisted walkers and has stuck with his little cane for the last several years. About a month ago, he took a tumble, and although he didn't break anything, he was sore for weeks. He suffers from neuropathy, and walks the way a toddler does.

After some gentle prodding, he agreed to go to the Home Health Care store in Old Torrance. We test drove several walkers - these aren't those old time aluminum numbers that you see with tennis balls on the feet - these things look something like a modified stroller/shopping cart. They come with baskets and seats, breaking systems and other accessories.

The biggest problem I had with them is none of them remained standing once you folded them up. They would tumble over, and I could just see an elderly person falling over a collapsed walker. Ouch. All had too many toggles, cheap construction, and tiny stroller-type wheels.

My dad preferred the walker with the large rubber wheels because it would work better outdoors. I had to agree, but I still thought the whole thing looked pretty ungainly, and poorly designed. Not to mention my mom almost fell trying to pick it up off the floor because it wouldn't stand on its own. We left without buying anything.

I hit the internet, my favorite shopping venue. After a few searches, I found the almost perfect walker.



Not only is this walker the coolest one I've seen, it's the best designed, it has features that I can't believe no one else has thought to include. For one, it stands when folded. It also has a nice little cane holder, which none of the ones we looked at had. It folds up with one hand, and the brakes self-adjust. The seat moves up and down with ease, and it adjusts easily - heck it's almost perfect!

Oh, it only had a little bag under the seat for holding stuff, which makes it less than perfect, as my parents would like to use it to go to the grocery store. Damn.

I hope I can talk them into it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Taste of Torrance, Guess Where?




Google Earth is a nifty gadget - even the least attractive places on the ground look pretty cool from above.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day o' New School

Today, my son attended his first new school in 8 years. He attended his former private school from preschool until 6th grade.

This change came about for reasons I won't get into right now, but our family agreed it was time my son left. Of course, he could have attended his local Torrance middle school, but instead, he chose to take a leap of faith that I don't think I would have had the guts to do at his age.

He chose to attend a newly established charter school in Gardena, located in what looks like an office building. Although it's not your typical-looking school, the non-profit organization that is administrating this charter had some very significant successes in their three previous schools, so we took the plunge.

One benefit of this charter school is that the emphasis is on technology, math and science - three subjects I felt weren't his former school's strengths. Their goal is to substantially improve low achieving students, as well as nurture high achieving students, providing them with opportunities to challenge themselves. After-school tutoring is available for everyone, and uniforms are a requirement.

A good number of the students qualify for free lunch.

Three (or was it four?) of his teachers are men - not including the PE teacher. My son has only ever had one male teacher since preschool. After 8 years of church ladies, it's quite refreshing.

This was the first time in years he's been excited about starting school. However, one day does not a school year make, so I'll be watching his progress closely. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Gewgaw, Puss in Bootie




This wee ceramic 'Souvenir of Vermont' is a classic gewgaw - it serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever except to offer a surface for dust to rest. However, it is cuter than a speckled pup under a red wagon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Ultimate Cookie

One of my husband's relatives makes The Best Cookie In The World.

The Cookie is the Ultimate Good. They are so absolutely amazingly great, so scrumptiously perfect, I've witnessed people debasing themselves to get more. Once, another relative stole them from a wedding we attended - he started stuffing them into his pockets. The mother-of-the-bride (who is the Originator of these heavenly confections) complained to us, as did almost every other person in attendance. People were willing to come to blows over these cookies.

I kept a low profile because he shared his stash with me.

Those cookies are the nearest thing to heroin. Or crack. Or meth. Once you've had one, you're hooked. The mere mention of the word 'cookie' sends me into withdrawals.

Allegedly, she shared this recipe with other family members. Don't you believe it. In spite of many attempts at baking The Best Cookie, no one has ever produced as fine and luscious a treat as the Originator - I've concluded she's left something out of the recipe. And who can blame her - It would be like the inventor of cold fusion giving away the patent.

I've been so frustrated by The Best Cookie In The World recipe, I submitted the concept of a falsified recipe to the Verbotomy people.

While we were in Boston this summer, we heard of a bakery in Little Italy section of town - we scurried there in hopes of finding a reasonable facsimile.

Nothin. Just some cheap imitations posing as The Cookie. Heartbreak, again.

Somehow, some day, somewhere!

George Carlin - Saving the Planet



I think the folks in Manhattan Beach missed this video by Mr. Carlin. (Be aware there's some powerful expletives thrown around, which may be inappropriate for the younguns.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Unclaimed Moola

This is another site I check out from time to time - it's the Unclaimed Property site at the California State Controller's Office. You simply do a search of your own name, or anyone else you know, and the databank checks to see if you have any money or property that you may have forgotten about - this includes insurance refunds, paychecks, forgotten safety deposit boxes, or even real property.

I also check out my family's names and friends - I found a lost account for my dad dating back to the 1940s, and a forgotten paycheck for a friend.

It's fun, it's free, and requires just a little paperwork for whomever wants to make a claim. To search other states, you can try this link.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Credit, check!

Every year I get my credit file disclosure over the internet for free. Over the last several years, I've battled an identity thief who had opened up several business phone lines using my home phone number. I've spent several hours just straightening out that issue with the phone company and the reporting agencies. The thief used alternate addresses which were listed on my credit report as mine. In comparison to some horror stories I've heard, it's pretty small potatoes, but annoying anyway.

This year has been the first year in many that there have been no issues whatsoever - no inaccuracies, no wrong information, and NO THEFT.

I use annualcreditreport.com to get my free credit disclosures/reports. This is a service started by Transunion, Experian and Equifax. There are dozens of other sites claiming to be free, but this site is really the only legitimate one that is authorized by the Federal Trade Commission - others will tack on a fee if you agree to a free report.

Annualcreditreport.com is an easy, safe conduit to get through to each reporting agency. Although each separate company may try to get you to purchase extra features, you can easily get what you want without paying a dime. If you were to try to go through each of those companies separately, you'll spend a whole lotta time wading though their sites, trying to locate the FREE report. If you fear doing something like this online, you can call and order a report through the mail, and this service is also free.

In a few months, my husband will request a set for himself, so we actually get two free sets of reports every year.

If you've never done this, I highly recommend it - you'd be surprised to find how many inaccuracies can turn up on your credit report.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Childhood Cliches

I find find the old childhood cliches don't work for me anymore. "You'll poke your eye out" and "your face will stick like that" don't cut it - the kids are simply not doing anything dangerous enough to bother with ocular warnings, and they have access to the internet and know better. Old standbys like "Get off the phone, someone might be trying to call" have lost their relevance completely.

Here's a list of some of the old - my parents used them, so I know they are authentic. The new are the one's I currently use.

Old: "Those comic books are going to rot your brain. Why don't you read some real books?"
New: "Those video games are going to rot your brain. Why don't you read some comic books?"

Old: "Never play with matches again!"
New: "Never put a Mentos in my Diet Pepsi again!"

Old: "Why don't you ever empty the trash?"
New: "Why don't you ever clear the cache/trash/history/cookies?"

Old: "Eat everything on that plate - people are starving to death in China."
New: "Eat everything on that plate, and you're going to look like every other fat American."

Old: "Too much sugar is bad for you."
New: "Too much refined carbs/fat/salt/chemicals/preservatives/colorants/sugar are bad for you."

Old: "Who is Ernest Borgnine? He starred in McHale's Navy, Poseidon Adventure, and Marty."
New: "Who is Ernest Borgnine? He's Mermaid Man's voice." (I know this isn't really a cliche, but I answer questions like this all the time.)

Old: "No, Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker are not real people."
New: "Yes, Paul Newman is a real person. He's an actor. No, the man on the rice box is NOT Morgan Freeman."

Old: "If you don't do what I ask, you'll be grounded for a month."
New: "If you don't do what I ask, you'll be playing outside for a month."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Onolicious Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi is a family favorite. It's easy to make - you can even use the Spam can if you can't find a musubi maker at your local Japanese market; however, you have to remove the bottom from the can, which ain't easy.

My son would eat these things daily if I let him. They're great at picnics and for lunch boxes because they keep well and they're good clean finger food.

1. The furikake is optional - kids sometimes don't like it. You can also just sprinkle it between the spam and the rice.
2. You can add sushi no ko to the rice, which is the powdered vinegar often used with sushi rice. I don't do this, but I might try it sometime.
3. Some people add a little shoyu and sugar to the spam while it's cooking to add a little carmelized sweetness.
4. Not all nori (seaweed) is created equal - some of the cheap stuff is very tough and hard to bite through. Stick with the good quality Japanese stuff.
5. If you refrigerate the musubis, you'll have to nuke it for a half a minute to soften the rice. Typically, it's made to eat the same day, and of course, it's usually so popular, there are no leftovers.

Still Breathing

Has it been over FOUR MONTHS since my last post?

What a lazy good-for-nothing I am. That is about to change - back-to-school is just around the corner! Free at last, free at last!

I have enough backlogged fodder for at least a couple of posts. And with the kidlets gone, I'll have plenty of time on my hands to click away at my keyboard.

Keep posted.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Armonium, sort of

Nicest thing you'll hear all day!

Get out those old dusty wine goblets, and play along. (Click on the "video" to watch...)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The End is Near

The good news: We may escape the possiblity we will desiccate from global warming, become extinct via a really big asteroid, or fry from nuclear armageddon.

The bad news: Instead, we'll all get sucked into a black hole created by the Hadron supercollider in Switzerland . Well, not only us, but the entire universe.

I've got my fingers crossed that Steven Hawking is right.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Taggers are Gay

Well, that's what my son says, anyway.

There has been a rash of tagging along Arlington Ave., between Sepulveda Blvd and Previously-Hull Middle School. The perps are a couple of individuals whom the Torrance P.D. refer to as members of a 'clique' - read immature unsupervised group of kids posing as a gang, but aren't really. The tags should be gone by today.

I have a couple comments for the taggers.

MAC (MACF, MAC29): If you're out there, I hope your mom grounds you 'til you're 30, and someone etches their names on the windows and doors of your first car - that is, after you've gotten your drivers permit.

K Whatever-the-hell-your-initials-are: Improve your penmanship, and take a look at real typography in the video I've posted below. Good typography "communicates... with skill and imagination". Your scrawl is seriously lacking in both regards.

AKR or ARK or whatever?: I've never heard of a tagger using lipstick (or is it nailpolish?) as their preferred medium. You may be an original - are you a girl or a cross dresser?

Thirdly, to the parents of these kids: If you don't want to spend your end of days languishing in the Nursing Home of the Damned, I suggest you start supervising your kids, or they'll end up in jail, unable to support you in your old age.

Update: The tagging was removed within an hour of writing this post.

Typography video

I love type - here's a juicy video from the Vancouver Film School.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Snailing

I try not to use insecticides in and around the house. A good hosing, clearing away dead leaves, and an occasional spray with soapy water typically keeps the 6-8 legged critters at bay.

There is one pest, however, that resists my typical treatments. If anything, they appear to thrive. We have a lot of plantings, especially in the front yard. It's the ideal snail homestead.

I like to think we have creative ways of dealing with any problem that presents itself, but I think our Ultimate Snailution is particularly good. It's the perfect combination of family time, entertainment and a bit of gore.

First step is to collect all the snails you can find. Place in a bucket.

Find a comfy place to sit adjacent to the street.

Toss snails onto street, ensuring snails land somewhere near the center area of street.

Watch passing autos to run them over. (Extra points if a bicyclist runs one over.)

Wait for crunch. Cheer.

No, I don't live in a trailer, park my cars on the lawn, or throw beer cans in the back of my pickup. I don't have a pickup.

There may be something wrong with me, but I can't resist a little mollusk vs Michelin.

Last year, we gave up snailing. My son had raised a couple dozen snails for a science project. He gave them the best, most tender greens, and a really nice terrarium. They were so happy, they created several hundred little snails. Caring for them as we did, we felt responsible for them, kind of like parents. And good parents don't throw their children under speeding vehicles. We released them into the wilds of our yard, and my eleven year old son was a tearful empty nester.

This year, all bets are off. We are going to embrace our killer instincts and throw the great grandchildren into traffic.

Works well with tomato worms too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Gewgaw, Las Vegas Souvenir Fan



The Gewgaw has finally returned.

This plastic fan is decorated with pictures of casinos, a few which have long since vanished from the Las Vegas landscape - The Sahara, Landmark, Stardust (with original starburst sign), Circus Circus, the Freemont/Downtown area, Caesars, the Hilton, and the pre-fire MGM Grand.

Oh, and of course, what souvenir would be complete without the ubiquitous Hoover Dam.

The fan is a bit dysfunctional - the plastic is flexible and it bends and flops when you fan yourself. It would probably melt in the heat of a Las Vegas summer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pigeon Saga, cont.

I hope this is the last we'll see of our feathery poo generators.

My husband used a non-polluting, cruelty-free, wonderfully clever method of ridding our power lines of pigeons.

No birds were harmed, although they were shaken up, a bit.

One gentle tap with one heavy duty sledge hammer to the base of telephone pole, and voila, the vibrations drove the flying hordes away. They returned a few minutes later, however, one additional tap, and they took up housekeeping elsewhere. We observed them sleeping on a power line a couple blocks away. They're probably pooing on someone else's vehicle as I write this.

Only time will tell if the poo pests are history.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Doin' the Pigeon


I love Bert and Ernie. As for the pigeons...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Problem with Pigeons

We've been having an ongoing problem with pigeons. Not so much the pigeons really, but the loads of guano they leave behind.

They've been around, but lately they've multiplied and are now roosting on the high tension wires in front of our home. Park a car there overnight, and by morning, it's been firebombed with pigeon splat that covers the hood, windows, roof and trunk. It's quite amazing how much a sleeping bird can poo.

It's much worse than in years past.

The real problem is two fold. For several years, pigeons roosted in the attic of a home across the street. This house was owned by a couple going through a divorce, and it sat empty for several years. When it was finally sold, the attic was abated, but the pigeons managed to find other roosting sites to squat, and they've been here ever since.

The second ongoing problem is the little old lady a few doors down that loves pigeons. She provides fresh water and food, and the pigeons spend their days noshing and socializing in her front yard. If you walk the dog/kids by her home, you have to run to avoid any new hair accessories. Small children like to examine the white and green splats as you try to drag them quickly through the poo encrusted guantlet.

My husband is planning an intervention this weekend. He's hoping, with the help of an with an older neighbor, to try to convince her to stop being so altruistic - good luck, dear!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back from the dead

In the event anyone had noticed, I haven't written for my blog in quite some time.

February had been an eventful month, and I didn't have the energy nor the inspiration to write anything.

With the onset of Daylight Savings, I've felt re-energized. Hopefully, I'll keep going and going, and end my sluggery.

Is that a word?

Science fair is over, so it's safe to relate an experience that I don't want a repeat of, at least 'til next year. The project itself was uneventful - my son did alot of work, but the experiment/typing was condensed into a harrowing week and a half because of a little glitch called the US/Canadian postal services.

I ordered some chemicals from a Canadian company on February 1. The last week of February was in full swing, and the package still hadn't arrived. I was sweating bullets, as the project was due March 4. I ended up overnighting an additional kit, at the tune of $50. When the original order finally showed up, I noticed it was stamped 'air mail'.

I suspect it was taped to the back of a messenger pigeon that was shot down over Montana - hence it's belated arrival.

Postscript: He won a first place ribbon, which was nice.

My advice - if you plan on doing an experiment involving these chemicals, have them shipped Priority.

In other news...

My dad ended up in the hospital for a few days - his blood pressure had dropped precipitously, and he had flu like symtoms, stomach discomfort and no appetite. The doctor was surprised he had walked unassisted into the office - I think his pressure was 76/45. They rushed him into emergency.

They pumped him full of antibiotics and fluids, and almost immediately he felt better. Ate two meals at the hospital, and then asked for an enchilada on the way home. At 85, he needs to be a little more careful, don't you think?

Let's see, what else...

My hub brought home a little toy called a Flip Video - it's a handy little camera that has its own USB plug that you hook right into your 'puter. Very simple and uncomplicated. I've made a couple of little movies with the help of iMovies (although the camera has it's own software loaded into the camera.) It's perfect for me, because it only holds 1 hour of footage - it forces you to do something with it, so it doesn't sit in the camera forever. iMovie is great for editing the raw footage.

My son and his friend have taken up filmmaking, and have made their own videos, with the help of this handy little device (only $150.) He's posted one on his own blog. The plan for today is to film another.

Baseball season is in full swing, and I've taken on the task to become scorekeeper. I don't feel confident enough to be the official scorekeeper, but I'm getting better with each game.

Someone explain to me why 'Strike out Watching' is represented by 'KC', and a 'Walk' is called 'Base on Balls' (BB).

No wonder foreigners think this game is confusing.

The hard part is when there's several plays going on at once. I get caught up in the moment and forget I'm supposed to be tracking all the excitement, not cheering. Takes all the fun out of it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Star Wars, according to a 3 year old.

This is funny, especially for those who have kids, like Star Wars, or both.




Thursday, February 21, 2008

Science Fair Thee Well


It's that time again. 

My son's science fair project is about the effect acid has on lead contamination. Pretty heady stuff, but at least relevant.

First, he had to find a legitimate lead testing kit that would work, which he did - The Lead Inspector  was given a thumbs up by Consumer Reports.  However, since it comes from Canada, it's taking a long time to get here, and I'm starting to sweat.

The next hurdle will be locating some ceramics or vinyl products that actually have lead in them - vintage ceramics and lead crystal fit the bill, but locating toxic toys is harder than you may think. We'll be hitting dollar and thrift stores this week.

I try not to think of all the other things he has to do, or I'll go nuts, and it'll rub off on him, poor thing. What, with baseball, basketball, (2 leagues), trombone, a speech he has to write, homework, and this project looming, it's a lot to juggle. 

He shall overcome.


Friday, February 15, 2008

All Things Kool - when you're eleven

My son has embarked on his own blog, ever so righteously named, 'All Things Kool'.


It's the what's kool (Strongbad email) and what's not kool (a Mazda RX7) to a rather opinionated preteen.

Check it out, why doncha, so he stops bugging me!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gluten Free O' Rama

My dad has celliac disease. This sounds pretty horrible, but in all honesty, it's kind of like a food allergy with a scary name, although it's considered an autoimmune disorder. He's allergic to gluten, which means that wheat, oats, barley and anything containing those things are off limits. Wheat flour and wheat starch hide in most processed foods - pudding, fried chicken, gravy, soups, vitamins - so label reading is a regular pasttime for our family. Even tiny amounts can damage his intestine.

When he was first diagnosed, it was difficult for him to give up what he really loved, which was bread. Cakes, cookies, buns, dumplings, pasta - all history. Beer - no more. Plus, there were virtually no foods that you could buy off the shelf that were 'gluten free', so mom had to learn new recipes, almost overnight. She cooked everything from scratch to ensure my dad wouldn't accidentally eat something he shouldn't. Even when he was in the hospital, the staff didn't know what gluten-free meant, so we would have to bring him food from home so his stay wasn't complicated by a bought of montezuma's revenge.

Things have changed over the years. Go into any Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and even Vons, and there are entire sections dedicated to gluten-free foodstuffs. Bread, cake mixes, waffles, cookies, pastas, cereals, cream soups - all wheat and gluten free. The variety is thrilling, especially for mom.

This has made her life a heck of a lot easier. And dad gets most of his old favorites back.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not All That Tuesday

Election Day almost didn't happen, for me. I forgot about it, until I was driving my son to basketball practice at 7:00 pm. An immediate U-turn, mad scramble to find the ballot, and moments later, I was waiting in line at a grammar school that is about ten blocks away from our home.

Now, ten blocks isn't that far, but the original polling place was up the street from us, just about a 2 minute walk away. This would have made it easy for me to go earlier in the day with my niece and nephew in tow. The day before, a postcard arrived with the polling change. It just happened to catch my eye - and given it was merely a cheaply printed post card, I'm surprised I noticed it at all. My husband said that the old place had taped a small piece of paper to the stoop instructing confused voters where to go.

The new place was located at a grade school cafeteria. In actuality, it was a small room, inconveniently located at the furthest point from the street only parking - you have to wonder how you maintain security at a school when you have strange adults wandering in and out all day. Anyway, according to a small red hand printed sign, I was to follow the red signs, which I couldn't find in the dark. There were, however, white signs pointing the way.

Just my luck, everyone in line ahead of me had a problem. One person claimed she knew her polling place was at a school in Torrance, but she didn't know which one. Another couple had absentee ballots, but didn't send them in, so they were grilled to ensure they weren't voting twice. Another man was at the wrong polling place in the wrong city. Although there were 6 volunteers, they were, for the most part, retirees whose eyesight and hearing ain't what it use to be.

I gave my son the 'why me' look.

I also gave him the 'don't say anything' nudge with my elbow.

He really didn't mind because he knew he'd miss having to sweat out '17's' at practice.

The actual voting went smoothly, and Nick grabbed the 'I Voted' sticker as we rushed out the door past the 10 people still waiting in line.

We only missed 15 minutes of practice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Center Square Memories



I was a big fan of Hollywood Squares. Center square Paul Lynde was my favorite, followed by Wally Cox. Oops, my age is showing.

These questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous, not scripted, as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist
camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a
goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your
elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you
should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh.

You can read more Square quotes here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Gewgaw, Weiner Dog Thing



I don't know what this is, which begs the question why trade two perfectly good dollars for this, but one look, and I knew it had to be mine.

It has the body of a dog, but the face of a human, with slits in its nose, tail and feet - like some weird tinkertoy chimera. Maybe I can stick a photo in its nose slit or tail and eke some function out of it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vampire Fruit



We've been enjoying our blood oranges. This is the first year we've had a goodly crop since we planted the tree five years ago. They're tart and sweet and very yummy - much more flavorful than the typical store bought valencia.

Blood oranges are common in Italy, but I think the name turns off people here. I've heard them referred to as 'raspberry oranges' but I like the shock value of the word 'blood', and when ripe, the flesh is deep, dark red. The photo above is actually quite a bit pinker than the actual fruit. I cut up one of our tangerines for comparison.

I think I've averted a bad cold this season due to eating this fruit regularly - lucky for all of us, citrus is in season.

The vay I like to eat them is to slice them in quarters and suck the blood, er, juice out.