Saturday, July 25, 2009

Early one morning

One particular morning a month or so ago, my dog asked to go outside to take care of business a bit earlier than usual. Being that he is still rather young, I obliged. It must've been about 4 AM. The sky was still dark with the slightest hint of morning twilight. The air was crisp with a pleasant scent. While the little guy squatted, I had a chance to look around. I was treated with my own little safari. Two jack rabbits where off in the distance playing around in the tall grass. Little roadrunner-like birds where running back and forth across the road. Other birds fluttered about from tree to tree, sometimes chased out by the squirrels. This is the sight I beheld from just beyond my from porch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Staycation is now an official word (kinda)

There is no official "American English" dictionary. Such a dictionary would be counter to the basic ideal of Freedom of Speech. However, we do have dictionaries that stand as an authority of sorts. A bunch of new words were just added to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Among those words is staycation, which is defined as a vacation spent at home or nearby. Not mentioned is how close to home "nearby" represents. It is an overnight stay about hour's drive away from home? Or is it just travelling locally and coming back home within the same day?

Allie and I took a short vacation on Thursday and Friday to the Monterey Peninsula. I had originally wanted to take a road trip to Santa Barbara, but that seemed a bit too far for the limited time available to us. By comparison, a trip to Monterey can be called a staycation.

We hit up some of the same old places, like Cannery Row. We also explored something new to both of us; Carmel Valley, with its several wineries.

We stayed overnight at Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove. This place was once made nationally famous with one of the commercials where Visa brags about being accepted at a place that did not accept American Express. As far as I noticed, they still do not accept American Express, but they do take Discover. I used my MasterCard.

Green Gables Inn just started up a new website where they can take online reservations. It is promoted as a quaint Bed and Breakfast. However, it is kind of a hotel with suites (self styled "boutique hotel"). Some of the rooms are in the main Victorian home, but there are also separate suites in a second slightly more modern building. The suites have old charm (so called "Victorian"). The building is very old, so some modern considerations are not addressed, such as sound dampening between rooms. However, it does have modern amenities too, such as a large romantic bathtub with jets. The location doesn't get much better. The view of Monterey Bay is awesome. It is within walking distance of both Cannery Row and Lover's Point. The staff is very friendly and will make you feel like you are at home. Overall, the experience is very pleasant.

We did lunch on Friday at the Fishhopper on Cannery Row. I asked for a table over the water. They sat us right at the very edge of the dinning room that jets out into the bay. It was like our own personal sea life zoo. We had fun spotting seals lounging on nearby rocks. Then, as a special treat, the sea otters starting show up in the kelp forest. I spotted 5 of them. I believe that is the most I've ever seen at one time. There was a squadron of pelicans that zoomed by skimming across the surface of the water, also the usual gulls chilling out. The only fish we saw in the ocean was actually fulfilling the role of meal for one of the sea otters.

Though I'm from Monterey County, I've not travelled every road. One area I've not explored before is Carmel Valley. A 20 minute short drive from Carmel-by-the-sea, it might as well be a world away. It is in the middle of rolling and lush hills. Several wineries can be found along this route, allowing one to make a day of wine tasting. It isn't over commercialized or crowed like Napa Valley has become. It is very quiet and laid back. We only spent Friday afternoon there. Northern Monterey Country actually has quite a diversity of wineries and might be worth a dedicated wine tasting trip one of these days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Super Dog

No, I don't have a wonder dog. He's still a puppy, and still doing puppy things, like ignoring me, pooing when he feels like, and causing trouble. Some days are good and some days are not so good. Right now, he's looking at me wondering when I'm going to get off the computer and give him attention.
...
Ok, it's now 15 minutes later. He's into his chew-toys right now and I'm watching TV. Hmm, should I be tweeting this entry instead of blogging it?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ATTN: Vulcan has been destroyed!

Hey J.J. Abrams, don't let a significant and vital portion of the Star Trek universe get in the way of telling a good story. Though the Star Trek movie was enjoyable and fun, it cuts so deeply that it will be hard to hold validity to the ideals that are behind Star Trek. The destruction of Enterprise in the Star Trek 3 was for a reason. For one character to return from the dead, another had to die. In your movie, one of the four founding member worlds (and 6 billion people) of the Federation is destroyed with nothing gained in return. Either you'll have to find a way to bring back Vulcan, or your going to have end the "alternate time line" at some time to restore balance to the story. This can be done with Spock's death (again) of course, since your whole story hings on the fact that he didn't kill himself at the start of whole story. Anyway, this reboot is a great movie, but it makes the plausible continuation of the franchise very difficult. I guess it does open the door for a second reboot of the franchise in another 20 years.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Grieving family faces more trama

A recent story in the news has caught my attention. There is this family whose daughter died in a traffic accident a couple years ago here in California. As standard practice, the CHP had photographed the accident, including a shot of the young woman's nearly decapitated body. Unfortunately for that woman's family, the CHP officers leaked the gruesome photo some days later, and they ended up all over the internet. As reported, "Even Nikki's grieving father couldn't avoid the pictures. Days after the crash, the real estate developer opened an e-mail he believed was a property listing and found instead a grisly photo of his daughter's body." Ever since, the family has been fighting to get the photos removed, first by going after hosting sites, then by going after the CHP itself. All attempts have failed, thankfully.

Now, I do sympathize with the family for their lose. However, the photographs taken by the CHP are a matter of public record. The CHP actually doesn't have any right to hide those photos from any citizen who requests them. Nor can the law prevent their unlimited disclosure. We live in a free society where the government cannot be allowed to keep information from the public (except for matters of National Security). There are pluses and minus to this, but if we wish to keep our society free, we must prevent the government from hiding any information.

Additionally, this is not a matter of privacy at all. The woman died in an auto accident, which is a public incident. Privacy does not hold any priority in public events. First, I (and every citizen) have the right to photograph anything I wish in public (again, except or matters of National Security). The CHP actually had a responsibility to photograph the accident scene. They actually would've been negligent in their jobs had they not.

So, although privacy is an important right, it is a right that is limited to private acts. With the exception of creative works (protected by copyright), any public incident is a matter that is in the realm of public domain. Side note, in the course of an investigation, any record of evidence collected (photographs of the scene, written reports, etc) by the CHP or any public service is public record.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bible Self-invalidation

Its funny when the bible is read in parts, its easy to make general statements about the validity and unity of its overall message. However, when taken on the whole, its message just falls apart. As a child, I remember learning the scripture at Proverbs 30:5 that says that every word of God is true. Essentially, the message I was taught that this god can do anything except lie. By extension, the bible consists of his words, so the bible is true without exception.

The problem with this is that the bible's god does lie, and these lies are actually recorded in the bible. This would be irony if it wasn't unexpected. Isn't that ironic?

Several scriptures specifically say that their god either lied himself or caused others to lie, including
1 Kings 22:23, 2 Chronicles 18:22, Jeremiah 4:10, Jeremiah 20:7, Ezekiel 14:9 and 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. To reconcile this contradiction, believers in the bible will often just excuse it off with a comment like, "God cannot lie, but is able to cause others to either lie or tell a lie." Not only does this not explain the discrepancies where their god is actually said to lie, but it is completely illogical to make this distinction. Their god is said to speak to believers through prophets. If his prophets lie because of his inspiration, that is no different than himself telling the lie.

I don't point all this out to show that the bible is flawed. Its flawed nature is fact. It doesn't need to be pointed out unless someone starts trying to argue that it is some sort of perfect holy book. I point out the flaws to show that the bible cannot be used as justification for beliefs in gods. The god of the bible is just an idea that is used for agendas of individuals or groups of people. That god doesn't really exist; at least not in the way bible believers think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Girl, the new Ride

From Junya's Photos of Matt's car


Here's me enjoying my girl on 280 this last January. Some of us G8 and GTO owners got together for a ride from Downtown Campbell to Alice's Restaurant up in the mountains. It's been a long time since I've had a V8, and this is the most powerful car I've every had. She's a lot of fun. It's just too bad I don't have more excuses to driver her.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Leave It!

Allie and I are getting a new puppy. This is our first pet together. We pick it up from the breeder later today. The day before yesterday, we were buying a dog tag at the pet store. While standing at the engraving machine, this lady and her dog (I think it was a Golden Retriever or something similar) walked by us. As this lady's dog passes me, it moves its head towards me and sniffs my shoe. The owner instantly gives the command "Leave it!" and continues walking.

Now, I know the command "Leave It!" is in vogue right now (thanks to the likes of Cesar Millan), and the the lady was simply addressing her dog with a command to which it was familiar, but I was actually offended for a second at being referred to as an "it". It was a little disconcerting even though ultimately her command had nothing to do with me as a person. I'm not one to be offended easily. When I realized I was mildly offended, a couple seconds later, I was rather amused at myself.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leveraging their online community (Pontiac?)

My wife and I were recently profiled in G8 version of Pontiac Performance. This is a magazine that is sent out to owners of Pontiac vehicles. I’m not sure why I, as an owner of an awesome new 2009 G8 GT, would need a magazine full of articles pointing out the greatness of Pontiac cars. I already get-it. That’s why I bought the car! (Maybe they are hoping I will buy another model right away?) Anyway, the magazine does have its use, and I’m getting to the point soon. First, if you want to see my profile article, I believe the magazine is carried by Pontiac dealerships. If one feels so inclined, go in to a dealership and ask to see if they have copies of the G8 version of Pontiac Performance Spring 2009 edition. (It will have to be the G8 version since they actually put out slightly different versions of the magazine depending on which car it is for. ) Depending on the version, the article will be somewhere between pages 9 and 14. Then, maybe check out the G8. I’m actually not being sarcastic when I suggest this.

Anyway, back to the point. In the magazine is another article called Car Camaraderie about how online forums are bringing Pontiac drivers together. They did a whole article about online resources being utilized by Pontiac owners. As far as I know, none of these resources are directly related to GM. The writer of the Pontiac article understands the Pontiac’s online community well enough to mention the most popular sites for each of their models. This is just one article in one magazine that doesn’t have public distribution. It’s a start for them, though. Sure, OnStar has been online based for awhile now, but that is a paid service. The act of actually profiling users on several of the forums (even mentioning their user names) is something that is not that common yet. Like many other old-school companies, they are starting to understand the
Information Age, finally.

The Pontiac G8 community site that was mentioned was
G8board.com, of which I am a fairly active user.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New doggie member of the family soon

Allie and I have a new member of our family that will be joining us soon. It's an adorable Rat Terrier. While we wait for it, I guess it can be said that we are paper pregnant, but in terms of buying a dog and waiting for it to reach 8 weeks. (No reputable breeder will release a puppy before 8 weeks, so I've been told and have read from multiple sources.)

So, there will be hours and hours of time invested in a new member of the family. We both grew up with pets, but this is our first pet together. We are excited. We are going to be putting a lot of effort into preparing for him. Even though we haven't seen our little Rattie in a few weeks, we've already named him. Per my usual, I will likely come up with an alias for him on the blog. I'll post some pictures once he's settled in to his new home in a couple of weeks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Birthday bash

The "birthday" BBQ near my house turned out to be a lot of fun. I was surrounded (at one point quite literally) by friends and family. One thing I am honored by is the fact that everyone in my life together represents tremendous diversity, much like myself.

It was my fortunate luck to have my BBQ scheduled (by my wife) on the first non-rainy weekend in months (scheduled over a month in advance). The day was gorgeous, with barely the slightest hint of tiny white puffy clouds once in awhile. As the day approached, we discovered this was going to be a great weather day. Knowing it was going to be the first good weather weekend in a long time, I got up early to claim the ideal BBQ spot at the park.

At about 11:30AM, friends and family started to trickle in. It was funny that the only people to actually show up at the start time was Allie's co-workers and friends. "MY" friends didn't start showing up till about 12:30PM (as I expected anyway). Overall, about 20 people showed up.

Over the week leading up to the BBQ, I asked Allie if we had everything we needed for BBQ'ing, including all necessary utensils. In particular, I was concerned about us having the grill brush. She assured me that we did indeed have everything. Well, at about 12:30PM, I started to get the BBQ started. Coals - check. Lighter - check. Lighter fluid - check. Kindling - check. BBQ fork - check. BBQ spatula - check. BBQ grill brush - ???. Again, BBQ grill brush - ??? No brush! OMG! So, here I am at my birthday party having to go out to buy the tool. I head to the local Safeway. No luck. Fortunately, we have a Home Depot kinda close by. They had plenty of choices. After getting back to the BBQ (after like 20 minutes or so), I found more people showed up. Good. "I can get help with the BBQ'ing," I commented to myself.

Once we got the BBQ'ing going, it soon became apparent that Allie had marinated the chicken to perfection. They where a big hit. We had planned to BBQ without BBQ sauce, so this was a welcomed surprize into this brave new world.

Another hit was the large size Blizzard ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. The whole thing was gone in minutes. Of course, even though my birthday (which was earlier in the month) was only the excuse to get everyone together, everyone felt inclined to surround me and single "Happy Birthday". Dear lord!

My only real complaint is that I literally spend 12 hours in the Sun, without so much as a freckle to show for it. Normally, I would have tanned and reddened significantly. However, on this day, I used some SPF 70 stuff that Allie had on hand. I only applied it once early in the morning. I was as white as ever at the end of the day. I've never seen that before. I'm a little bummed about that. Here I am having a great time and I have no sunburn to show for it. ;-)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Expert's Prediction about Italian Earthquake

The central Italian earthquake was apparently predicted a month in advance by Gioacchino Giuliani, an employee at a physics institute at Gran Sasso, near the badly-hit city of L'Aquila. His warnings where scoffed at by Italian authorities. They even forced him to remove information about his prediction from his website. I can see why someone would be ignored, but in a free country, it seems a bit extreme to inhibit one's basic freedom of speech. He's now demanding an apology for the legal assault upon him.

From my memory, there seems to be a series of solo scientist that are able to score one accurate earthquake prediction. Sometimes, they kinda get a second prediction right too. However, I've never seen these scientist able to continue their predictions accurately in a way that can usually save lives. Gioacchino Giuliani feels like he could've saved lives if the authorities listened to him. The problem is that even if his method proves to be repeatable, this is the first successful prediction he has made, at least that I've heard about. First time for anything is an occurrence; second time a coincidence; the third time is a pattern. For him to be recognized, he's got to get it right three times in a way that is repeatable by others and useful to authorities.

The difficulty with this is that earthquakes happen very infrequently in any one location. The factors that lead up to earthquakes vary from region to region and even quake to quake. What may be an indicator for an earthquake in one location may not work in another location.

In my opinion, I do think the authorities owe the expert an apology for violating his freedoms. However, it is understandable as to why they ignored him. There's a lot of crackpots out there making predictions all the time. The authorities have no idea who to listen to until some method (not a particular person) provides to be successful repeatably.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Back to life

This blog just may be getting back to life. There's more stuff going on that I'm comfortable blabbing about in the public eye; not that I have much of a public following me these days. :)

There's a few of stories I'll be writing about soon, including some cool about additions to my life.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I actually have a Bestseller, of sorts

Well, as funny as this might sound, I have a #1 bestselling book on Amazon.com. No, I'm not raking in millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of books sales. I think the book has reached something like five sales total, ever. However, in the set up in Amazon.com, this is enough for me to have the bestseller for one particular category, Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan. It's a Kindle electronic book called Ghost Stories of Olde Vol 3. As of right now, it is actually listed as "#27,893 in Kindle Store" overall. Not bad for public domain content that is buried deep in Amazon.com's listings.

I actually have five listings currently on Amazon.com for the Kindle. I'm not making any substantial money. In fact, as of right now, I've not earned enough to even quality to receive any payment. Hopefully soon I'll earn my first $10. Joy. At this rate, I'm earning roughly 16¢ an hour (that's $0.16 for those who've never seen the cent ¢ symbol before) for the time it took me to make those books.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Birthday thang

It's been awhile since I've used my birthday as an excuse to get the gang together. In fact, I think it's been a few years. It used to be one of many excuses I used. These days is a busy time. Work takes up more time, keeping a house organized is harder than I anticipated for two people.

Well, this year my excuses start up again! It will be a little late in the month; Allie and I are having a BBQ at the park outside our house. The invited group is an eclectic mix twenty, thirty and forty-somethings (and some of their kids). Damn, I'm actually having a gathering where it is a given that the kids are invited. Back in the day, this would've been a question not even touched. I must be getting older. And here I am with no kids of my own. Of course, OPC are a lot of fun, mostly cuz they left when their parents do.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the party!