Tuesday, March 31, 2009

At Last

Finally got one. Big assist to Jeff. He saved me a million bucks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tarred & Weathered

Saturday I loaded up with two of my favorite J's (Justin and Jillian) to hang out at the La Brea Tar Pits and kick it in general. Pleistocenic, y'all! The Miracle Mile area of Wilshire Blvd. is on place I just can't get enough of. Ahem... a place of which I just can't get enough. Grammar! From the Tar Pits to the Farmer's Market to the museums and the concert halls, it is all the good things of urban life that are far too rare in LA. Plus I got to hang with J & J, who are one of the most delightfully goofy couples I know. Exhibit A: dancing in Justin's truck.

I'd been to the tar pits a few times, but I'd always just walked around outside and the gift shop. This was the first time actually going in the museum portion of the facility (after foolishly buying a lame toy in the gift shop). I think it is best described as proportional. It wasn't that cool, but it wasn't that big either, so it didn't become wearing and you didn't want to spend all day in a museum. Other possibilities are a big museum that isn't cool (which is awful - many museums fall into this category) and too tiny museum that is really cool (which just leaves you unsatisfied), so, yeah, proportional. The Golden Ratio, applied to museums. It wold have been even cooler had they, in addition to the familiar sabre-toothed cat, an exhibit for the more rare lightsabre-toothed cat.

Outside the museum

My favorite part of the tar pit museum was the photo booth at the exit. J & J decided they needed to have a go at it. This machine was a little different in that it didn't have a curtain on the door, and it displayed the picture preview on a TV outside the booth for the other patrons to see. This aspect is highly entertaining - at least when J & J are in the booth - and mayny museum-goers stopped to watch. In particular, this little Asian girl (6 or 7 I'm guessing) was fascinated by the whole scene. Then when Jill leaned over to kiss Justin's cheek, she squeels, "Ewwwwwwww!!!!!" I almost lizzed right there.

After the museum, we finished off the day with a stop at the camera store, Cold Stone, and then Justin playing around on my computer for a couple hours while JR sketched us on post-it notes.

Talented, huh? My neck looks a little skinny though.

Full gallery of the day here. Justin's here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guerrillas In The Mist

OK, maybe we're not that tough, but you have to admit we do look sufficiently ragged. Anyone wondering how long I can keep the title puns going? Matt was sans spouse this weekend and he talked me into being his better half... of his hiking duo! Wokka! Wokka! Wokka! OK maybe 3/8. Well, and Murphy came along too, so it wasn't even a duo. But I think you can see my point here. Me > Matt. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a burn.*

*Rather than ask my friends the next day if they read my blog post, I've decided to just make fun of them in the posts and judge their reading habits on when (if ever) they take exception with my tales. Really what is a blog for if not a one-sided slinging of insults and demeaning in general. Matt feel free to retaliate in the comments.

Seriously though, Matt, thanks for setting this up; I had a lot of fun.

Back to the story...

Matt and I headed up to Los Padres National Forest Saturday for a quick overnight of backpacking with Murphy in tow. (And by in tow I mean: on the armrest, on my arm, on my lap, on my pack in back, etc.) It was a short 2 1/2 mile hike up to our destination from the trailhead, but not nearly as leisurely as it sounded. The latter 2/3 of the hike was pretty steep, and we were bogged down with some heavy packs. (Not to mention out of shape and with various ailing body parts.)

As we headed up to camp, the fog began to roll in, and would stay with us more or less the entire time we were up there. It made for a moist setting, but it gave the place a delightfully eery vibe. It did end up raining most of the night which made it hard to get to sleep with drops pinging on the rainfly.

Clockwise from top left: Start of hike (still sunny); Murphy gets a water break;
Reaching Pine Camp; Well-deserved Yeungling

Clockwise from top left: Shady figures; Pack it in, pack it out;
Murphy spazzing out; Ojai Valley; Hike out Sunday (fog cleared out)

Now we come to the portion of the program that I like to call "What Did Justin and Peter Leave In My Tent After Joshua Tree?" If you guessed a bunch of gravel and a glow stick, congratulations. You're today's big winner. Make your claim in the comments and I will mail you some nice prizes as soon as I get some corporate sponsors for this blog.
Top: gravel; Bottom: glow stick

There wasn't too much opportunity for photography as most of my time was spent heaving and gasping under a 55-lb pack or sitting in a cloud of mist. But on the other hand, I did get to experience the genius of Fat Tire in cans, Matt created the recipe for boiled pepperoni Easy Mac, and Murphy got to be a spaz and run around our camp. And that's a good weekend any way you slice it. Not to mention I got to eat Ojai's best burger (Zagat rated!) and try The Baconator. Strangely enough, these were not separate events.

The height of (Ojai) dining!

Check out all my pics here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knuckle Down

Go get your own.

Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A-Waffling We Will Go

Which came first the chicken or the waffle?

On Sunday afternoon they arrived together... on my plate. But neither remained for long.

Jeff inquired through the miracle of cellular telegram whether I would be interested in getting Roscoe's for a late lunch. His question was most likely rhetorical, but I assured him nonetheless that I was indeed interested. For those unaware, Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles is an LA southern style eatery specializing in , you guessed it, chicken and waffles. They are, in a word, the best thing you'll ever eat.*

*In this case, we briefly suspend the principle of identity and let a word equal six.

I drove down to meet Jeff and Allison (sorry you missed it, Rita, but I'm told Paris ain't so bad) and carpool to Long Beach. Jeff and I had to discuss some nerd stuff first and figure out what street it was on, but soon enough we were off.

First (and Cooler) of the Two Bridges To Long Beach

Good thing we checked the address so we could make sure to miss the turn anyway. But in our defense there was a Z4 beside us with a tin superman emblem taped over his side air scoop. You can imagine how distracting that could be. As luck would have it, navigational error was our friend that day, bringing us past this amusing pizza place and, likely, geek magnet.

Considering Sunday was the 15th, I'm sure that corner was exponentially busier the day previous.

The wait at Roscoe's was a not unexpected 45-60 minutes, but well worth it. We did make up some time since none but a glance was needed towards the general direction of a menu. Scoe's Specials, dry, all around. Allie did get hers "dark" for reasons beyond my grasp. But perhaps I am mistaken in second guessing her since she was, in fact, the only one to finish her plate. Well done, Allie.

Clockwise from top left: Jeff confirms the obvious (Scoe's Special); Food+Allie=Happy; Jeff throws in the napkin, er, towel; Allie deliciously victorious; Scoe's Special "white"

Which leads to the story of a seemingly paradoxical exit of the premises. Jeff, strangely enough, was unable to fit - literally - back into the car as it was parked (Maybe more greens less waffle next time, Jeff?) so Allie had to pull forward from the space to give his inflated lower torso room to maneuver. (To be fair, there was no way I was making it into that side either.)

Utility boxes, downtown Long Beach

I'm guessing the lack of blood flow to the brain was the reason we took such a boneheaded way home, but it wasn't a total loss as we did get to see the blimp. What's the opposite of foreshadowing?

Watching - Watchmen. Matt is coming over after work on Tuesdays now to spend some quality guy time, and not in any way to avoid watching American Idol with the wife and company. Saw it last night. Matt liked it. I wasn't digging it. Nearly 3 hours long. And felt like it. And well, yeah, there's that other thing too. Who will watch the Watchmen? Me thinks not as many as the producers hope.

Reading - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Listening - Dust Bowl Ballads, Woody Guthrie. Recorded in the early 40's, but surprisingly current.

Drinking - Avery Collaboration (Not Litigation) Ale, Batch #2.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take a Long Walk On the Redondo Pier (a.k.a. Go Fly a Kite)

So we had this meeting at work Thursday concerning communication between generations and technology and blah, blah, blah, you don't care. The reason I mention it was near the end of the meeting, the presenter asked who amongst the audience was a "blogger". So in the interest of honesty - certainly not in the interest of pride and or non-embarrassment - I raised my hand. And I was the only one. Amongst hundreds of engineers.* So I'm either a) the coolest most with-it person in that room embracing technology and using it to further my social interaction with others or b) the hugest nerd among a room full of huge nerds. You decide.

*I'd like to point out here that using technology doesn't necessarily make one a huge dork. And conversely, not using technology does not prove that one is not Nerdy McNerder. For instance, I know someone who does not have the internet at home, but at the same time, is one of the nerdiest people I have ever met. You know who you are. Consider this a partial argument for option "a)".

The reason I even bring this up is that I haven't blogged in several days, and this raising of hands - or, hand, if you will - has spurred me to write another post lest I be accused of being a poser or guilty of poserism. Well that and I finally made it through some pictures.

Speaking of pictures, last weekend there was another photography group meeting at the Redondo Beach Kite Festival. It wasn't a large turnout as I only saw Peter (pictured here in the beginner's yo-yo contest - he won a yo-yo!), Jeff (new glasses here - Hugo Boss I'm told - ooooohhhhhh fancy), and Erik (not pictured here).

Nevertheless, it was a really fun time. There were, as the name might suggest, lots of kites,

a Hot Dog On a Stick (corndog for the non-Left Coasters) Eating Contest (this one is when Backwards Hat was holding back a digestive refusal which as you can see worried the other contestants),

but the highlight of the afternoon (at least for me) was the yo-yo exhibitions and contest. These kids - and, yeah, adults - did some amazing things with yo-yo's. And it was a huge turnout. Who knew there was this underground yo-yo brotherhood? (Wait til the hipsters get ahold of this.) Most amazing of all were the yo-yo's that could actually leave the string. LEAVE. THE. STRING. The yo-yo-er would be doing, you know, regular yo-yo stuff, - i.e. holding wound up yo-yo in hand, release it to unwind, do trick, retract back up to hand - then all of a sudden the yo-yo-er would somehow (magic?) release it from the string into the air and catch it holding both ends of the string. After the untethered yo-yo portion of the act was over, a shuffle of the hands would return the yo-yo to normal state prepared to walk-the-dog, around-the-world, rock-the-cradle or whatever. Here's No Face in mid trick:
Unbelievable. I'm still convinced this is some sort of witchcraft. All in all, a ton of fun. Full gallery of the day's pics here.

Watching - Buckaroo Bonzai. Incredibly goofy, enjoyable film. Too hard to explain in this limited space, but Buckaroo is a Scientist / Samurai / Rock N' Roll-er / Action Hero that ends up saving the world from an alien threat from the 8th dimension. Recommended. Also: Pinky Carruthers, one of Buckaroo's bandmate / sidekicks played by none other than Billy Vera.

Using - Boxee. Media browser. Can access local or networked digital content (stuff on your copmuters) as well as internet content (Netflix, Youtube). It's great for me as I can now control Netflix via remote.

Happy Birthday Peri Paul!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bokehs, Books, & Boots

Saturday night was another photo trip for the South Bay Photography Google Group. (You'll recall the previous post on our trip to Redondo Beach Pier.) As I had a book club meeting in Westwood that evening as well, the other photographers were gracious enough to shoot in the neighborhood. Meeting up was a little difficult, so I was only able to shoot with the rest of the group for a few minutes before I was off to dinner and literary discussion. I did mange to get what I think is a pretty cool shot of the rest of the crew.

Justin, Peter, Jillian (J.R.), Sarah

Pretty cool shot, right? Yeah I thought so too. I think it really captures the youthful energy that my peeps have. They have a lot of enthusiasm for photography some real talent as well. It's fun for me to see. Thanks for letting this old guy hang around. I hope I didn't slow you down too much. Just for fun, here's one of me:
(Image credit: Jillian)

I think I'm just walking to meet up with everyone else, but Jillian claimed I was dancing. Upon further review, I have to admit it does look like I'm doing a little jig here. Then again, I'm so graceful nearly every move I make is on the cusp of artistry.

Sadly, I had to miss the remainder of the Westwood portion of the shoot discussing Catch-22. Truthfully it's not that sad as the discussion was an interesting and lively one. The vote was split 2-2 on Catch-22 (I was for it). I did meet back up with the gang on Hollywood Boulevard afterwards briefly, but they had to split. I stuck around a bit and took some pictures at the Kodak Theatre and nearby. (Full gallery of the trip here.)

For those of you wondering about my recovery from "kickball ankle", this was the first week I was able to wear my boots again, so things are looking up. When I got home that evening, I found I hadn't quite got my photo fix, so I started goofing around with some self-portraits around the apartment. I ended up using my computer to snap series of shots with my camera (a nice feature, but I'll still need Jeff to wire me up an intervalometer as I think the 30 lbs. at which my iMac weighs in is a little beyond the capacity of my bike's handlebar-mounted basket).
Full self-portrait gallery here.