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

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, fix my, can I have some tangerine juice?, can I have a bowl of, 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.