Friday, December 25, 2009

Fish Night

We had our big holiday celebration on Christmas eve. We serve fish, which is an italian tradition, and technically shouldn't serve meat, but my mom brought a ham. My hub-nut bbq'd some really nice ahi tuna and salmon, and I baked some tilapia wrapped in parchment and cooked a bit of scallops. My hub-nut's mom brought some pesce stocco, which is a cod soup - the cod is reconstituted - sounds weird but it's good, and some fried cod.

My sis in law brought some very lovely arancini, which are yummy rice balls filled with meat or cheese - fried (so fattening, but who cares when it tastes so good.) She also brought a truck load of home baked goodies.

My sister brought a home made apple pie - it was sucked up with nary a left over.

We ate and ate, so there are barely any left overs, and my waist line has expanded somewhat, and will continue to do so as we finish up all the baked sweets.

My favorite part of the evening was our white elephant gift exchange where gifts like a ceramic smoking monkey, a thrift store carved wooden head and Superman underpants were part of the cache of weird gifts.

On Christmas, we headed over to my bro-in-laws for some home made pizza. Unfortunately, half the guests had bad colds. Fortunately, you feed a cold.

Hope your holidays were wonderful and well-fed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Groucho Marx - You Bet Your Life - in Torrance

Mayor of Torrance, Albert Isen, bantering with Groucho Marx on "You Bet Your Life".

This wasn't the only Torrance resident to appear on the show. Here's another episode where a Torrance denizen appears. (The video was too long to post).

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Very Kitschy Christmas

Last year's Christmas Gewgaws, here, and here, and here...

...all come together in this little video I've thrown together for you to enjoy. The gewgaws, ornaments and various stuffage represent years of collecting - some of the glass balls and glass ball strands are 50-70 years old. The manger items could have been purchased 50 years ago at Woolworths for 15 cents a piece. However, there are new items - the Buzz Lightyear and Star Wars ornaments are relatively new - as well as 'loving hands at home' handmade stuff too.

I apologize for the poor quality - I'm as blind as a bat, and can't tell when something is out of focus. I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing over the next few crazy weeks, so this will have to hold you for the time being. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sucked into the tribe again

AAaarrgh.

I was involved with an online game about a year ago. It took over my life. In the end, I was invaded and lost the village I cared for lovingly for months.

The game? Tribal Wars. My son-nut has convinced me to join once again, which I did, contrary to any sense I may have.

My hub-nut is a major player on World 23. He's been playing for quite some time and has amassed a significant collection of villages. I suspect it's his management skills that have allowed him to prosper, where I had failed miserably. However, he started a new village on my world, and is giving me advice, so maybe I'll last longer than last time. The family who plays together...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bah Humbug

I must confess I prefer Halloween to Christmas.

The best part about Halloween is it's a cheap holiday - typically, there is only snack foods and candy involved.

Christmas is quite another story. Every year I swear I'm not going to drop a cartload of cash, and every year I fail miserably.

So far, I've purchased these for my niece - I've always wanted a set, and so I'm foisting my regret on her. I've also purchased this for my son - the story behind this is he is taking Turkish as a language this year. It will only serve a practical purpose if he decides to work for the FBI.

My favorite gift buying is for our white elephant exchange - I pride myself on finding the most tacky and useless items for less than $5. I plan on ordering some items from the Archie McPhee catalog. Our family likes to fight over items during this exchange.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gardena Shootout



This incident is of interest to me - I grew up in the neighborhood. I won't say precisely where, but my parents still live in the neighborhood. I know (casually, not biblically) the man accused of the shooting. He's relatively new to the neighborhood, compared with my parents, but he's lived there for at least 10 years, if not longer. No, he's not a crazy guy - just a quiet man in a quiet neighborhood.

To clear up any misinformation about the area, it's very quiet and peaceful - most of the residents are the same people who've lived there from the beginning. Almost all are asian. There are just a few kids living around there.

I visit there regularly.

The neighborhood is a big cul-de-sac/ not-a-through street, flanked by smaller cul-de-sacs. There's one way in and out, if you're driving a car. The house in question has a low wall directly to the south, although the house next door has a wall and a chain link fence that is around 15 feet high - there's a swimming pool at the school.

I'm trying to figure out where the kids who were climbing the fence were going. The neighborhood doesn't provide a convenient short cut because the wall flanking the north end is at least 10 feet high. Frankly, you'd probably save more time just walking down Evelyn. At one time there were dozens of kids living on the block - no one used that wall for a short cut, and yes, we all attended high school at Gardena.

Thankfully, no one got killed, which should be lesson to wall climbing teens everywhere.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Lights - The Game



Every year at this time, my family plays the Christmas Lights! Game - I take credit for its invention (if you play this game, please email me so I can tell you where to mail my royalty checks.)

The game is played while driving in the car at night, typically while on the way home from the store, or practice. The rules are simple - the first person to spot homes with Christmas lights along the road yells "Christmas Lights!". The person to spot the most lights by the time we pull into our driveway wins.

When my son-nut was little, my hub-nut or I always won - mostly because we're a bunch of competitive jerks who wouldn't give our kid a break, but also because he was considerably shorter and he sat in the back seat, thereby getting the worst view in the car.

Now that son-nut is older, taller, and rides shotgun, he claims he is not interested in participating in the game. However, once I start yelling "Christmas Lights" three or four times, he is compelled by an invisible force (and the fact that he's matured into a competitive jerk like his parents) to start playing.

He's been winning, which of course annoys me because he gloats even more than I do when I win.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ChestNUTS

Yeah for chestnuts!

Yeah for their hot steamy center!

Yeah for their low fat calories!

Yeah for their yummy taste!

Yeah when the shells peel right off!

Boo when one assplodes in the oven, coating the interior in chestnut shrapnel.

Boo when the shells stick to the nut and you have to scrape them with your teeth.

Boo because they take so long to cook.

Boo when the last one you peel open is rotten.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Video Gewgaw, Butt Receptacles

Why collect ashtrays when one doesn't smoke? Good question. I do like the graphics on vintage ashtrays, and you may recognize one of the ash trays in this video from a previous Gewgaw posting. It's certainly not a huge collection by any means, just a few odds and ends casually acquired during short jaunts at a thrift.

Smoking is an activity with a certain amount of mystery and attitude - who didn't want to be a smoker after watching gorgeous old film stars smoke all over the big screen. I swear, if I didn't think it would kill me, I'd be puffing away right now.

I still like to pretend with a toothpick.

My mom stopped smoking when I was about 6 years old - she claims she quit when the price went up a nickel. She was never a heavy smoker; she maybe smoked 2-3 cigarettes a day. Never did I see her walk around with a cigarette hanging off her lip, ashes drooping and dropping off while she went about her day. She would always be seated - at our breakfast nook with a cup of coffee, or in the living room when entertaining. She really enjoyed it and relished those few moments of pure adult satisfaction. I really liked watching her - to this day I'm amazed I never picked up the habit.

Her ashtrays were always very clean.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dobble Dobble!

We are lucky. Fat, and doubly lucky.

On Thanksgiving Day, we ate at my sister in law's. On the day after Thanksgiving, we ate at my sister's.

Two Thanksgiving dinners. Two turkeys, two stuffings, two pumpkin pies. Oooh, la la.

Two opportunities to eat leftovers. If that ain't good ol' american gluttony, I don't know what is.

Did not do any shopping - just ate, and chatted and plopped on the sofa.

In honor of Dobble Dobble, things I'm doubly thankful for:

1. Today, we signed our refi documents, and we didn't even have to leave the house - the Notary came here. We're saving money, yipee!

2. This blog actually has people reading it. Not a ton, but enough por moi. (If you're reading this, thanks!)

3. That our family is pretty much alive, healthy and kicking. No missing limbs, impacted molars or growing tumors.

4. The adults are gainfully employed (son-nut is not yet a wage earner...perhaps I've been too lenient.)

5. Old skool repairman Bruce Bauer fixed my refrigerator so I didn't have to buy a new one. Whew!

6. The cars are still working.


Hope your post holiday is full of tasty leftovers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Cransgiving!




Try as I might, I could not get this posted yesterday. However, better late than never.

This is a great potluck item for someone who doesn't cook a lot because it can be cooked in one pot, takes just minutes, and is easy as can be. It can be made ahead of time, or at the last minute. The recipe is very forgiving - if you have very ripe pears, the pears will soften and disappear, if you use firm pears, they will be soft, but chunky. You can replace the pears with apples, if you like, and throw in whatever other fruit you may have - blueberries, strawberries, even pineapple.

Sugar is really to taste - if you like your sauce less tart, add more sugar. The good part is the addition of the fruit and the optional fruit juice adds sweetness without a lot of added sugar. Remember, cranberries alone are very sour, so the addition of some sugar is necessary.

I've not tried this recipe with a sugar substitute.

After you see how easy it is to make, you'll never buy canned again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Telemarketers' tell



I don't have caller ID, but I always know, right off the bat, if a telemarketer is on the line.

First tell: Call at dinnertime.

Second tell: silence...for several seconds. I know while they are on the line, they are trying to figure out how to pronounce our surname.

Third tell: they never pronounce our name correctly.

Forth tell: they always ask to speak to my hub-nut. Typically, by this point, I've hung up, so they usually don't get that far.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fashion Forward



I'm fascinated by exaggerated body modifications - scarification, ear stretching, implants, large area tattoos. The animation is just one drawing, but I moved it around on the Photoshop canvas, then copied into iMovie. Voila, fake animation.

My father has a tattoo he acquired in the Navy over 60 years ago. From what he tells me, it's an anchor. I don't see it - other than it's blue blob. around 4" in diameter and on his forearm, that's about all I can tell about it.

I suspect tattoo technology has improved with time; however, one thing that doesn't improve with time is your skin. It gets wrinklier, browner, looser and spottier. Veins crop up where they were invisible before. Hair crops up where it wasn't, and vanishes where it was.

Human skin is not the most reliable art surface.

So, when I see a twenty-something with a 3" diameter plug in his ear, or a girl with a large dragon on her abdomen, I know that 'art form' is going to morph into something considerably less attractive over the next few decades.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where in the world is the Telecommunication Committee

I've been combing the City of Torrance website - I can't find any information on the Torrance Telecommunication Committee. Google returned very few results - all from either this blog or the meeting last week.

This site provides maps of the locations of cell towers and antennas within four miles of any location. I used Torrance City Hall as the address, and it came up with these:



These are current tower locations (203) and a few planned locations (2).



These are current antenna locations (515).

It will also give actual addresses of these locations. The problem with this site is that it isn't entirely accurate. It gets its information through government databases. Unfortunately, towers under 200 feet have lax registration requirements - and most new towers in this city are under 200 feet. What this means is that there may be additional towers that are not on the map. Also not included are any towers that are abandoned.

What the city of Torrance should provide for public review is an accurate accounting of all towers and antenna (cell, paging, microwave, commercial). Residents shouldn't be forced to seek out this information themselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why living ain't easy

Things 'needed' 27 years ago:

1. one land line telephone
2. two cars
3. radio with cassette player, cassettes
4. one bedroom apartment
6. one no-name 128k PC hub-nut assembled
7. one tv
8. cable
9. one hub-nut


Things 'needed' now:

1. landline telephone in every room w/ answering machine
2. two cars
3. cell phone for each person in house
4. additional iphone for hub-nut for work
5. stereo, cds
6. ipod, itunes
7. Direct TV (three tvs)
8. three laptops
9. two printers, one with fax, one color
10. hi-speed internet connection, wireless
11. 3 game systems and a million games
12. house, 3 bedrooms
13. GPS
14. one hub-nut
15. one son-nut.

I don't worry about posting this info because most people I know have exactly the same stuff in their homes - except for, perhaps the hub and son-nut.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cell Out

Get used to it, folks. San Pedro residents are up in arms over a cell pole near an elementary school.

Within 4 miles of Taper elementary, there are already 166 towers, with two slated to go up. There are over 600 transmitting/receiving antenna.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where AREN'T they?


Google Earth mapped image of cell towers in the United States.

Although I am a skeptic in regards to the dangers microwaves generated by cell phone towers may cause humans, there may be issues in regards to smaller, fuzzier, buzzier organisms.

If you're concerned about the proliferation of cell phone towers, please sign the petition at CLOUTNOW, the Coalition for Local Oversight of Utility Technologies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cell tower collapse



To quote a Torrance Telecommunication Commission member, "...cell towers don't just fall down...they're designed by engineers..."

Apparently, the cell tower in this video didn't get that memo.

Fortunately for this Maryland community, there were no buildings or people nearby. No one was hurt.

But what if this tower was installed adjacent to a preschool - say, no less than a few yards? Well, that's what T-Mobile proposes to do next to a Torrance preschool near Sepulveda Boulevard and Eriel Street. This is an additional project (SAT09-00014), not the collocation of a facility near Sepulveda and Arlington (SAT09-00013), which I mention in previous posts.

The preschool is a fixture in town - my son attended that preschool, as well as hundreds (thousands???) of children over the last 30 years. I have to question the wisdom of city officials. Who would think, for even a moment, that a tower at this location might be a good idea?

Even if I don't believe radiation or radio waves emitted from a tower like this are harmful, I would suspect that the perception is that having a giant, top-heavy antenna/tower right next to a preschool isn't smart on soooOOOOooo many levels.

Nay, Palm, Part 2

In regards to the proposed project on Sepulveda and Arlington, described as "... Telecom Permit to allow the collocation of a telecommunications facility with 12 antennas designed as a false tree by increasing the height of an existing pole on property located at....etc...". This description left much to the imagination. My initial thought was T-Mobile simply wished to 'glom' some additional equipment onto the existing pole - which would defeat the purpose of disguising the antenna with palm fronds.

What was presented at today's meeting was that the pole is to be completely replaced, additional antennas and equipment added, all disguised with a faux pine/redwood tree. Additionally, ivy type foliage is to be added to the nearby equipment to disguise the large housing where the cell equipment is enclosed. This type information is critical, and paints an entirely different picture of the project.

The good news is there is a continuance for both projects until December 8th - absolutely necessary given information regarding both these proposed towers was not available to the community in a timely fashion. We received notice only last week, and there were no details available online or otherwise (that I could find) until the meeting this morning at City Hall. This would be unacceptable for any other construction project.

The Telecommunications Committee should be compelled to keep the community informed about the proliferation of these towers, and to have information available either online or at City Hall, well in advance of any review. The additional details and time allow the community to make rational, informed decisions.

More Telecom Trivia:

1. Within a four mile radius of my home, there are approximately 214 cell tower structures, ranging in height from 24-200 feet. There are over 500 stand alone cellular antenna within the same area.

2. There are cell towers installed at at Sea Aire Golf Course (a monopole palm tree) and Victor Park - the Sea Aire tower brings in $27,600.00 a year in revenue, which is returned to Torrance Park and Recreations Revolving Fund.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nay, Palm

Would you know a fake palm tree if you saw it?

Of course you would. Especially if it were 45 feet tall, made of concrete and plastic, and had telecommunication equipment 'hidden' in the spindly, faded, plastic fronds.

T-Mobile wants to make the fake palm monopole in the parking lot at the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Arlington Avenue taller, bigger, badder, more dangerous and uglier. There's a public meeting at 9am, November 10, 2009 at the West Annex Commission Meeting Room of City Hall, 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance. to address the petition SAT09-00013.

What next, a grove of fake plastic trees?

Of course, none of the neighbors want it. No one with good taste and a dislike of urban blight would want it - unfortunately, the tower was originally built without notifying the neighborhood - demonstrating another case of city officials completely inept at or unwilling to deal with aesthetic issues that affect quality of life (I won't go into the approval of other unattractive nuisances, like high density housing...). That is, unless the unattractive nuisance is in the Hillside, and it's a frog.

As other local cities seek to bury overhead wires and other forms of visual garbage, Torrance is considering adding to the blight. Great. Just great.

The telecom industry is looking to saturate the area with towers rather than upgrade their equipment. Towers are a relatively cheap way for these companies to keep generating income rather than conducting research and development to improve and minimize existing structures and equipment. If consumers are complaining of dropped calls, improve the existing technology. It isn't the City's responsibility to ensure T-mobile's customers are happy.

If you really hate these things, and would like the City of Torrance to know it, contact one Jeffery W. Gibson or Oscar Martinez at omartinez@torranceca.gov


Telecom Trivia:

1. Between five million and fifty million birds are killed each year in collisions and other accidents caused by communications towers.

2. 55 mph winds toppled a telecommunications tower in Oswego, NY.

3. According to the Labor Department, constructing, repairing and upgrading cell phone towers is the most dangerous job in the United States. It is more dangerous than logging or commercial fishing.

4. A KELO television tower in South Dakota collapsed in 1968. The resulting litigation lasted more than 14 years.

5. The widespread use of wireless communication services has resulted in the construction of at least 75,000 telecommunication towers each year in the United States

6. A fire caused by welders toppled a cell phone monopole in Wellesley, Maryland, after burning for 30 minutes.

7. PLATTE COUNTY, MO - The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a tower proposal can be denied based upon aesthetic concerns.

8. A study carried out in Florida in 2004 involved the analysis of market transaction data of single-family homes that sold in Orange County between 1990 and 2000 to investigate the effect on prices of property in close proximity to a tower. The results showed that a tower has a statistically significant effect on prices of property located near a tower.

9. Palos Verdes Estates took Sprint to court over cell towers and won.

10. Yes, your city can reject cell phone towers.

This is what I get

A day or so after posting the preceding videos on anti-vax hysteria, my son came down with the flu.

I got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago. I highly recommend the pharmacist at the Gardena Vons. The injection didn't leave my arm sore, probably for the first time since getting flu shots. She said the key was relaxing the arm as much as possible while getting the injection.

I couldn't convince my son to get his shot at the time; he whined that it would hurt, and he fussed about it - yes, fussed, and yes, he's 13.

Yesterday he told me he will get a shot next time because he hates feeling lousy. I don't understand why he hates getting sick because around here, behaving like an invalid gets you the royal treatment...'mom, hand me the remote....mom, fix my blanket.....mom, can I have some tangerine juice?....mom, can I have a bowl of udon....mom, bring me another pillow, more kleenex, hot tea, another motrin....' My mother in law got in on the act and delivered a lovely homemade chicken soup to her feverish bambino.

The royal treatment is for the men in the house only - when I'm sick, I'm on my own.

Upon careful consideration, being healthy isn't all it's cracked up to be. I mean, if you never get sick, you never get to experience a healthy dose of tender loving care.

Monday, November 2, 2009

(2/2) Do Vaccines Cause Autism? Correlation vs. Causation

What happens when you let the lunatics run the asylum.

(1/2) Do Vaccines Cause Autism? Correlation vs. Causation

Entertaining video that addresses the paranoia surrounding vaccines and flu shots.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Taste of Torrance, Nana's Bakery, Old Torrance


I wondered how a bakery could compete with a stalwart like Torrance Bakery - heck, I shop at Torrance Bakery. Bechamel's (sadly) closed, and those people could bake circles around TB.

I hope Nana's fares better. Let me put it this way - if you want typical and predictable, go to Torrance Bakery. If you want pastries for people who appreciate fine food, go to Nana's.

My Italian in-laws swear by this place. Nana's is a regular stop on their Sunday morning dog walk. My mo and fa in law just recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, and Nana's baked goodies were a hit at the party.

Who could ask for anything more?

Nana's is located at 2081 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501

Buster, the serious dog, is camera shy

He takes one look at the camera, stares for a moment, and leaves. I tried over the course of the day to get some good footage. The peanut butter ploy worked, as did chasing his ball, which I might post later.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sticky Situation



My dog doesn't like being stared at. Or photographed. Or taped. It took some peanut butter to convince him otherwise.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gewgaw, Egg cup




I don't know anyone who eats soft boiled eggs anymore. We used to eat them pretty regularly at our house - tap tap tap the top of the egg, peel away the tip, salt, pepper, dig in. Toast to dip.

The egg in this one is a jumbo egg, so it barely fits.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My gift to Jesus is...

My son attended a parochial school up until the 6th grade. This note hails from the first or second grade when he was learning to write. The assignment was given to them around Christmas time, and all the children were asked to write what their gift to Jesus would be. Most of the kids wrote things like, " My gift to Jesus is to go to church" or "My gift to Jesus is to hug my mom and dad" or "My gift to Jesus is to be good to my little sister".

My son's teacher said his message was clearly the most original.

The Gewgaw, Money Box



My $100,000 Money Box hasn't a dime, secret papers or U.S. Government Bonds, and was originally the property of one Chuck Kabis. It's also missing its handle and the lock. It was made by the Ohio Art Company, also known for the Etch-A-Sketch. Lesser known is the fact that Ohio Art also made a heck of a lot of tin toys like sand buckets and mini world globes that doubled as banks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bixby Marshland, Carson




This refurbished marshlands, courtesy of the Sanitation Districts (poo processing plant) is located right down the street, traveling east on Sepulveda Blvd. The Bixby Marshlands is just off the 110 freeway and a stones throw from a Target store. Located at 24501 South Figuerora Street, Carson, CA 90745, it's a lovely little patch of nature in the middle of the city.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Gardena, Wetlands

I remember friends going to the Gardena Willows Wetlands to catch frogs and fish.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mobile Blogging

I've signed up for mobile blogging. I'm hoping it will allow me to publish things around town more easily.

Random Movie in Gardena

Before Torrance, Gardena was my home. I'm going to be on the lookout for the entire documentary...Can't wait!

Wearing Torrance



Timberland Torrance Oxford

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Gewgaw, Floaty Pens




The ever popular floaty pen has been my favorite cheap souvenir as far back as I can remember. This is a sampling I grabbed out of my box o' floaties. If you look closely, you'll see some naked people (some from the 1950s), a leg and garter game, a pill and a random assortment from different destinations. (I like the naked ones.)

Everyone's Favorite Store

Friday, September 25, 2009

Torrance, Sort Of

When is Torrance not Torrance? When it's not in California...


...it's a house in Flint, Michigan at 2417 Torrance


...a hotel in East Kilbride, Scottland...


... a swanky golf course in Scottland...


...Helen Torrance Home, Gladstone, Illinois (House is suffering from chronic dampness.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Indulge me

This is still funny after 40 years.





I grew up Catholic, attended catholic school, went to church every Sunday. I don't think I was ever a very spiritual person, even as a kid. However, I used to like to read about saints - I liked the drama - and my friends and I would act out the communion ritual by cutting up a piece of bread with a bottle cap to make hosts. Once, I wrote a letter to the Virgin Mary to intercede on my behalf and ask God for a pony. I coveted my scapular, my rosary beads, my white dress shoes and my first communion dress.

Things I liked best: the pomp and circumstance, the statues, votives, the formality and solemnity. My chapel veil, folded in quarters and bobbypinned to my hair. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, getting my throat blessed, and trying to unstick the host from the roof of my mouth with my tongue. The song "Faith of Our Fathers" and writing 'J.M.J' on my papers at school.

Things I didn't like: Confession (ugh - my confession was the same every time). Kneeling, standing, sitting, kneeling, standing sitting. Mean nuns. Actually saying the rosary. Father McGee - couldn't understand a word. Fasting before communion. My Lenten vow -giving up candy - which I'd break at the first opportunity and then feel guilty about it. Wondering how many mortal sins I've committed in the last 30 years.

As an adult, I've dipped my toe into a dozen Protestant churches. Lutheran services are similar to catholic ones, except w/out the transubstantiation and the pope. I've tried them out, but I'm afraid Protestantism isn't my bag of chips for several reasons.

My impression of most preachers: used car salesmen. Except instead of cars, they're hawking God. He's great, so why the heavy-handed sales pitch? And why make me feel pressured into buying extras I don't want? I've had the distinct impression there were strings attached if I attended service, and I should hire a lawyer to read the fine print.

Full body immersion baptisms in front of an audience. No WAY.

Speaking of fine print, what's with all the biblical quotations? Why break out every sentence and build a dissertation around it - why not just read the whole damn passage? Why chop it up into little pieces, each line poured over, dissected, fondled and micro-analyzed ad nauseam?*

And horrors, they always want to point out the new visitor - which is like being Nancy at the end of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" where Donald Sutherland points to her and pod screams.

The only thing scarier was the 'speaking in tongues' business. I was told it was 'God's language." If that was God's language, God was incoherent and inebriated, and he freaked me out.

Attending a fundamentalist service for the first time? Warning: Confess you eat human flesh - no problem, you're forgiven. Inject heroine into babies? Amen sister, god loves you. Mention you're a catholic? Your entire family are idol-worshipping-heathens-doomed-to-eternal-fiery-papist-damnation-whore-of babylon-unless-you-accept-Jesus-as-your-personal-savior-before-it's-too-laaaaaatttte!!! Ouch.

I guess I'm uncomfortable with in-your-face, Bible-thumping, kumbaya worship. Give me the smell of incense and the chill of holy water any day.


*Here, I quoted several lines from the Bible (easily found with a search thru Google), so you might say I'm contradicting myself. Frankly, it's possible to cull Biblical quotes and make an argument for or against just about anything, which was my point, sort of.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Torrance People, Part 3


Saunders-Blackaby Cemetery



Munster Union Cemetery

So, there's all the Torrances you can shake a stick at, all the way from womb to tomb.

Next, Torrance places not in Torrance.

Old Torrance People, Part 3

More Torrance people, except really old...


David Torrance


A plethora of Torrances from the Piney Township:



Samuel Torrance, Jr. and wife,



William Scott Torrance,



Matthew McKeever Torrance,



Hitchman Torrance and his wife Martha Jane,



last, but not least, Samuel Torrance, Sr.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Torrance People, Part 2

What, more Torrances skulking about?


Torrance "I Pity The Fool" Taylor


Richard "Weren't You With The Bee Gees" Torrance


Leisha "Aaaaaaaaawwwww" Torrance


Sam "Balls At The Belfry" Torrance

Torrance People, Part 1

These are people who have never set foot in Torrance, but wear the name proudly.


Jennifer Torrance of the University of Tennessee Swim Club (note, no where near Torrance.)


Jack "All Work And No Play" Torrance


Nick "My Dad Can Kick Your Dad's Butt & So Can I" Torrance


Torrance "It Wasn't Me" Jones



Chris "I'm A Poet & I Know It" Torrance

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Only 98 days until Christmas



It's a blog that's now a mug - it's a BLUG! The perfect size for your favorite caffinated beverage or late night brew. Large, easy-grip handle. Treat yourself or give as a gift...



Want to motivate that special co-worker (so he doesn't set the building on fire)? Buy 'em a Blug!



Impress your boss? Buy her (or him) a Blug!




Need a gift for that hard-to-please tea drinker? A Blug is fit for a queen!



Want to make friends and influence people? Blug will bail you out!

Okay, maybe it can't do that. However...



The Blug is the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list.

Get one today!

Tooting our horn

I'm so proud - my son is playing with the South Bay Youth Orchestra. This is the first time he's ever played with more than his dad and me as an audience, so we're pretty darn excited. He even had to audition.

He's playing trombone, one of two in the orchestra. He'll be performing on December 5th at El Camino College.

The 'bottom' line - don't steal

The City of Torrance Police Department has a nice little Crime Log site where you can view all the horrendous criminal activity in Torrance.

In the continued search for meaningful posts, one small excerpt got my attention:



I can see it now -

"One Adam Twelve, One Adam Twelve, burglary suspect has brown hair, brown eyes, approximately 5'10", 165 pounds. Possible hemorrhoids."

The theft of the registration and insurance was just a ploy to cover up the real crime. Stealing a used butt pad sounds like a desperate cry for help, if you ask me. Perhaps we should feel sympathy for this individual - he may be the product of a annular-ly challenged home environment, or a Preparation H addict.

Do not judge this person unless you've walked a mile with his piles.

Southbay Cruisers: The Old Town Torrance Bicycle Ride

What? No psychedelic (and way too tight) biking outfits?? No $10k uber high tech bikes? Ah, no, just scenes of like-minded individuals peddling through Old Torrance.

And what bike ride would be complete without the obligatory stop at Foster's Freeze?

2008 South Bay Film Festival Trailers (Unofficial)

Here's a peek at the 2008 contributors.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Third Annual South Bay Film Festival 2009

Do you think they'd be interested in this? Or perhaps this?

Joking of course.

The South Bay Film Festival is looking for real submissions, so make that film, submit it, and maybe you could be the grand prize winner and walk off with 300 bucks - better than a poke in the eye.

Who are the judges? Check out their web site, or, watch this guy:



...and here's the host of the show, if you like that sort of thing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A church's dirty little secret



I have a couple of friends who work for churches. They work full-time, pay into Social Security, and pay assorted taxes through their employers. One friend is employed by a small local non-denominational church, one is employed by a rather large Lutheran church and school in Torrance.

Both are unaware they can't collect unemployment insurance if they become unemployed.

Why? Non-profit religious organizations are exempt from paying Federal Unemployment Tax.

What does it mean to be exempt? It means churches and their affiliate schools cannot be compelled to pay unemployment tax. But does that mean they can't participate?

No. It means they choose not to pay.

Many churches do pay into the system. In an article from the National Catholic Reporter, many diocese voluntarily pay for unemployment compensation. According to a Richmond, Virginia diocese's chief financial officer, "It was a matter of justice."

For a small church, paying unemployment taxes could force them not to hire employees at all. But what about larger institutions, and those operating schools? What about mega-churches, and churches undergoing massive expansions? What's their excuse?

WWJD?

In God's name, he'd pay. According to the New Testament, the Pharisees declared Jesus "a friend of tax collectors and sinners." (Luke 7:34) He even chose a tax collector to be one of his disciples - Matthew/Levi. In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus directs Peter to pay taxes for them both - of course, with a little help from above.

But wait, there's more. (Who knew there were so many Biblical references to employees and money?)

"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:17-19


"You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning." Leviticus 19:13


"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight." Proverbs 11:1


"He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty."
Proverbs 22:16


"Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor's services without pay and does not give him his wages." Jeremiah 22:13


"Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty." James 5:4

The bible isn't just a tool to collect tithes from church members, or a book of laws for the great unwashed. The rules apply to churches - that is, if they believe themselves the harbingers of christian values.

If I were a member of a church, or a parent of a student attending a christian school, I would be putting the heat on the minister/priest and church administrators to pay unemployment insurance tax, or pay for private unemployment insurance for their employees - not because they have to, but because it's the christian thing to do.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chevron "Grift" Card

I just took a look at my Chevron credit card. I've been a customer since 1982. I became a customer before it was fuel, and it was still just a fossil.

Today I was driving on fumes and pulled into the Royce Chevron at 1250 W. Sepulveda Blvd. I had two used Chevron gift cards that I intended to finish up, and then use my Chevron credit card for the remainder of the transaction.

Or so I thought.

After swiping one gift card at the pump, the small screen came up with a (paraphrasing here) "Card not authorized" or some such message. I cancelled that transaction, and after receiving the same message for the second gift card, I went into the store and approached the station cashier. I asked her to check out the amounts left on both cards. There was 92 cents on one, and 97 cents on the other. I asked if I could use the cards, and she directed that she would have to swipe one card, I would have to go outside and pump my gas, close out that transaction, re-enter the store so she could swipe the second card, and I would have to once again pump my gas and close out THAT transaction.

The term 'gas station convenience store' is obviously a misnomer here.

Apparently, whenever there is less than a certain dollar amount on the card, the card won't work at the pump. So, following my example, if you had 15 Chevron gift cards each with less than $1 remaining on each card, you would have to enter and exit the station no less than 15 times and pump gas 15 times,

It would take you 20 minutes to pump 5 gallons of gas. Longer if you were handicapped in anyway.

My guess is this is a ploy by Chevron to so frustrate their 'valuable' customers that they disregard the few cents left on their cards and chuck 'em. If millions of gift card users chuck their cards every day, well, you do the math.

I'm going to save all my Chevron gift cards, especially the ones with less than, say, 50 cents left. I'm going to hoard them until I have an ungodly amount. I'm going to go to the same gas station during the busiest time of the day, and I'm going to use those gift cards, one at a time. As a matter of fact, I'm going to make it a point to leave just a few pennies on each gift card, just so I can have a cadre of cards with which I can torture Mr. Hamid Zerehi's employees.

That certainly is more fun and entertaining than buying, say, 13 cents worth of gas.

Some might say, sheesh lady, just buy a candy bar.

I'm sorry. I don't buy shoes at a grocery store, toilet paper at a jewelry store, or food at a gas station.

What I want is the so-called convenience that Chevron claims these cards offer. ATTENTION CHEVRON: It isn't convenient if I have to initiate a separate transaction to use up the remainder of a gift card. It isn't convenient if I have to leave my car to enter your shop to use my gift card, as if I were paying with cash. It isn't convenient for your customers to march to and from the pump and store repeatedly because you wish to pad your bottom line.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Found a Kitty

I arrived home yesterday to find a furry neighbor moved under the Japanese yew outside our front door. Verbal cat, this one. Thin and very very hungry, it made short work of the 6 month old cat food I hadn't thrown out. The only thing it consumed faster was the bowl of water I proffered. I bought some wet food today, and the cat hoovered that down.

It hasn't left the old dog bed I put out for it, except to poop on my neighbors lawn (which my husband hurriedly picked up.) Watching it, I noticed he (or she) walked with a slight limp.

This was someone's cat. It's super friendly and social. Did someone just dump it? Did it run away? From the look and feel, it's been outdoors for awhile - I suspect fleas and malnutrition. Pretty though, a nice tabby, brownish/grayish with flecks of black.

My husband is adamant - no new pets. Frankly, I don't blame him. Our last cat cost us a bundle. This one looks like it's in need of some looking after. Besides, our dog would probably eat it.

So, what do I do? I hate to relegate it to the shelter - I suspect in this economy, she'd be another euthanized statistic. If I keep feeding it, it'll probably hang out and use the neighbors' lawn as her personal bidet - that is until the neighbors revolt. I've tried Craigslist and other online sites. I think most rescue places are full up with hordes of discarded animals. Besides, who would want to take on a loud gimpy kitty with fleas? Albeit a really nice gimpy kitty with fleas...

Any takers?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Gewgaw, Teeny Tiny Lamp



The metal box is only two and a half inches tall when closed. When the lid is popped open, and the front of the box pulled down (as shown) a tiny metal flask with a screw top is nestled inside. It almost looks like an ink bottle or something, until you remove the lid to reveal a wick. A tiny well near the top of the box holds matches (I think).

The only identification is on the bottom: "U.S.A. M.D. Pioneer New York, NY. No clue what the original use was.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rained out

If you're wondering why we're getting so much rain this season, it's because of our baseball team.

If we make plans to hold a practice, it's rained out. We have been rained out the last three weeks, without exception. We will be starting the season having only had two practices.

It is also a guarantee that the minute we cancel practice, the weather clears, and within the next few hours, or by the next day, it's beautiful, albeit soggy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creative Tax Dodging & Penny Pinching

My husband and I have been assessing what to do if faced with higher taxes for just about everything, short of food (I hope...) It seems like every time we get ahead a little, devious government officials think up new ways to get hold of our wallet. Because we didn't borrow off our home or buy more house than we could afford, we'll be asked to foot the bill to bail out those who did.

But we're creative.

Higher Gas Tax: I suspect I'll be brushing the cobwebs off my bike. Carpool more to kids' sport events. Plan regular trips more efficiently. Maintain the cars. Don't fill up the tank. Make my son walk to Gamestop.

Higher Sales Tax: This is a slam dunk. Purchase any big ticket items (appliances, cars, computers) NOW. Buy off the internet from out-of-state retailers. Buy from the secondary market (E-bay, craigslist, garage sales and charity shops that don't charge sales tax. If we must purchase something new and locally, it should be on sale or clearance. Use coupons liberally but only for things you need.

Entertainment: We live in a wonderful area with lots of free and cheap entertainment. Make use of beaches, parks, trails, outdoor malls and points of interest. Research unique leisure time opportunities. Yearly passes save money, if used liberally. Memberships to the zoo or the museums help the organizations and can be a real bargain IF you bring your own food and drink.

Don't just recycle: It's a pain, but taking cans and bottles to recycling kiosks really adds up. Do it during shopping trip. Better yet, use reusable water bottles instead of single use bottles. Remember, many bottled water producers get their water from municipal sources anyway. Tap water is the best bargain in town. If your pipes are old, use a filter.

If any of you have any ideas or suggestions, please write, and I'll post 'em!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bad Hair Cut

I'm a lazy slug, which is why there hasn't been much to write about.

If you scroll below, you'll note I wrote of a retro barber shop my dad goes to. I should follow my own advice, but hub prefers I cut his hair because it's free, the skin flint.

This 'hair-owing' tale should prove to him once and for all he should get his hair cut by a professional.

When I cut my husband's hair I do it in the backyard, which is very trailer trashy, but hey, it keeps hair out of the house. Our neighbors probably think they have Ma and Pa Kettle living next door. He sits on a step ladder while I cut away with my Conair clippers attached to a really long extension cord.

His hair looked like the punch line to that joke 'what's the difference between a good and bad haircut?' (2 weeks). In his case, it was more like a month...It was too long, and he was parting it on the side. He was unintentionally morphing into a sloppy Rod Blagojevich look alike.

With trusty electric clippers in hand, I started with the 3/4 inch comb attachment. I started by shortening the sides and back of this hair. We were chatting about nothing in particular, when I removed the attachment to clean the clippers. I combed his hair - the top was still long, as I hadn't yet trimmed it.

I was still chatting when I picked up the clippers and made two long swipes through his hair in the back. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to put an attachment back on. As I started cutting, I noticed the clipper sounded a little funny.

To my horror, I had cut two bald paths through the back of his head. I screamed.

My hub thought I was kidding. Unfortunately, I wasn't. He looked like Moe Howard if Curly had cut his hair.

Many men would go ballistic. He just asked if I thought I could fix it.

In the end, I had to cut it very, VERY, V-E-R-Y short. He looked a little too much like a survivalist minus the fatigues and the paranoia, but overall, it looked pretty good, and I just might cut it short again, especially during the summer.

When you cut someone's hair that short, certain details become apparent. I noticed he has a red birthmark on the back of his head, just like my son, and he's developed a funny little chubby speed bump on the back of his head near his neck.

Toilet Plunger Carjacking

I've used a toilet plunger to remove dents out of my car, but never this!




Does it work? I'm going to try tomorrow. While watching this video, I couldn't help but think 'I hope that plunger is brand new, because he licked his finger twice.'

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Robbery

There was a robbery at A & A Garage Doors on Sepulveda Blvd. It's located next door to our insurance agent, and in the same mall as our favorite pizza place. A little too close for comfort, but it won't deter us from doing business at either place.

Unfortunately, two people were shot, and one has died, according to Larry Altman of the Breeze.

Being I live not too far from there, I had to walk my dog over to see what was going on. I had heard police helicopters circling earlier, but it wasn't until I read Altman's blog, that I felt compelled to sniff around. I know. I'm a looky-loo. Aside from a large area taped off by the police, several police cars, a City of Torrance trailer, and a few looky-loos like myself, there wasn't much evidence of a crime.

It appeared the preschool two doors down was closed.

I hope they catch the perpetrators soon.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taste of Torrance - Fred's Barber Shop


I took my dad to the barber shop yesterday.

Located on Western Ave., on the border of Gardena and Torrance near 182nd, in a plain-jane strip mall behind a 99¢ Store, tucked next to a Ted's Liquor Store (where I bought penny candy as a kid) and a computer repair store was a modest little shop, manned by a rather nice looking (ahem) young happa guy.

I walked in. My eyes bugged out.

It was like stepping back into the 1960s. Except for the little electric fireplace in the corner, the tidy little room looked like it hadn't changed in 40 or 50 years. Everything from the counters and cabinets, venetian blinds, the barber chairs, seating and posters were in brilliant mid-century condition, original to an era where real men adorned themselves in Brylcreme and aftershave, used straight razors and applied lather in mugs. The only things missing were the haze of cigarette smoke and old issues of Playboy and Popular Mechanics.

The posters looked to be original - bright illustrations of perfectly groomed men, glossy hair parted sharply to one side, looking like they stepped out of a movie with Paula Prentiss. Other posters had black and white illustrations of various 'official' hair styles.



I fell in love with this place. Not to mention, the young man really did a nice job on my dad.

I wouldn't recommend this place if you're a hippy or the Jonas brothers. For everyone else, visit and get the full treatment (shave and a haircut). I think you'll never go back to a salon again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I am not a number!

One of my favorite actors from one of my favorite british television shows has died. When I first watched "The Prisoner" back when I was around 12 years old, I immediately fell in love with the quirky/bizarre show and the intense Patrick McGoohan.

Rest in peace Number 6.

Moneymoneymoneymoney - Money!

My New Years Resolution for this year: earn money. That's it. No longer can I depend on that thing we call home to generate big chunks of virtual income, no siree. The first step - I got a real job, albeit a part-time one. Yeah, one resolution that I actually fulfilled. I'm so proud. The biggest reason for this was the latest economic mess. I figure if someone is willing to give me a job, I should take them up on it.

My criteria for the perfect job was 1) part time, 2) local, 3) paid reasonably well, 4) flexible hours that allow me to pick up my kid from school, and take my parents to doctor appointments, 5) continue to babysit on Tuesday, and 5) I didn't have to buy a new wardrobe.

I found it. If all goes well (I'm not on any wanted posters and they don't change their minds) I start in a week.

Another reason for financial concern is everything, except maybe gas, is more expensive. Heck, even our asthma meds are going up. Speaking of which, how is a little asthma inhaler going to affect the ozone layer one way or the other? It just goes to show that our elected officials aren't as interested in the environment as they are in appearing that they are 'taking action', even if it means killing off a few low income asthma sufferers who can't afford a 400% increase in the price of their fast acting asthma medication.

By the way, here is a site that is a must read, especially if you're sick of politicians referencing marginally accurate newspaper articles or a hysterical-case-study-of-the-moment to formulate public policy.

So, after more than a decade, I'm about to re-enter the rat race with at least one toe (or one very small rodent...). I'm actually kind of excited about bringing home a regular paycheck, even one considerably smaller than 12 years ago.