Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don Quixote Would Be In Heaven

Check out this windmill farm just outside of Palm Springs:

Pretty impressive! They're really tall, the highest at about 150feet, and there are smaller ones about 75feet. Seems each of the big ones generates enough electricity in a day to power an average home for about a month.

The Heat Is On

Here's the next few days' weather forecast in Palm Springs:

Luckily the humidity is going to be about 10% the whole time. We've been drinking a lot of liquids and Shawn's been eating like a freakin' horse the whole time. It's impressive to see him eat about 3 meals at a single sitting.....

Thank You for Smoking

Live from Palm Springs:

We went to dinner at this great seafood restaurant called Fisherman's Market & Grill. The food was great, and plentiful. We sat outdoors, with the warm breeze blowing over us as the sun set for the evening:

So, there's a movie theater called Cinemas Palme D'Or (how chichi is THAT?) in one of the shopping malls (a Westfield, like the one in Silver Spring). We went there to see Thank You for Smoking. It was pretty good - full of irony, some comedy, and overall quite entertaining.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cartoons and Mr. Magoo

Live from Palm Springs:

We're having a discussion at dinner about cartoons. We're coming to a conclusion that guys who watched Mr. Magoo as kids seem to have stopped watching cartoons at an early age. Those who didn't like Mr. Magoo (like me) still seem to enjoy cartoons as adults.

Whaddya think? Does this hold for you? Add a comment and let us know in an informal poll!

Internet Addiction?? Nah!!

Live from Palm Springs:

When I picked up my latest cellphone, I didn't realize how handy the high-speed modem function would be!! I've been able to be on the internet the entire time I'm here at anytime I want either using just the phone to look up something when we're out and about, or when using my laptop at the condo for full-fledged activities.

Even better, I've figured out how to share out the connection so that me mates on this trip can have their computers on the internet at the same time. The connection is only 230kbps, so things are a bit slower than cable modem, but it's been amazingly useful for us all to be doing our own thing at the same time. Because the local network I set up uses the internal wireless modems on each machine, we can be in our own rooms, or surfing on the patio, or all playing with our computers in the living room.....

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

We went up in the Palm Springs Aerial Tram yesterday. Being scared of heights, I went anyway - me mates in this voyage said I was a trooper for hanging in there. Uh, yeah. We went up about 6:30pm to take advantage of the light, with the idea to look at the night-time scene coming back down. It was magnificent and scary - this is the scene looking back down as we were going up:

The new round tramcars rotate on the inside so that passengers can stand in one place and be rotated 360degrees to see the entire view. The entire trip was about 10 minutes, and the tram rotated fully twice during the trip up. They said we were moving about 21mph.

We started from the bottom at about 2600 feet (where it was about 85degrees) and at ended up at the top at about 8500 feet (where it was about 55degrees). The view from the top, as the tram docked, was beautiful and even scarier:

We had dinner at the Elevations restaurant, where the food was excellent. Going up the stairs to the restaurant was a chore. Because the air was so thin, we got out of breath pretty quickly. On display in the restaurant was some of the mountain wildlife. They didn't move, so I guess they were stuffed:

It got even colder as the sun went down (into the 40s), and we caught the 9pm tram back down. The lights of the different cities was amazing.....

We Are In Bake Mode

The Palm Springs weatherman just said that the weather was so hot and dry here that we are in "bake mode." Never heard THAT on the East Coast!

Doesn't feel like 100degrees, but the humidity is only like 7%, so that's probably why.

Can't believe they're mowing the lawns outside of the condo in the middle of the day.....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

We're HEEeeere!

The weather here is beautiful. The landing yesterday evening was pretty turbulent because the winds were moving about 40mph. There were sandstorms everywhere. Take a look at the palm trees blowing in the wind at the airport:

By the way, the first airport building was pretty much totally open when we came off the plane. The building was really just an outdoor area with a roof. Weird. As we walked through to the second building to get our luggage, here's the view of the mountains with the sun setting:

Here's the welcome sign in the second building (this one was enclosed):

By the way, subtract 3 hours from the posting times while we're here to get the local California time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Off to Palm Springs!

We're on the way to Palm Springs, California! Turns out a neighbor, Vanessa, is from Palm Springs. She had lots of recommendations for things to do.

Pictures to follow!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

USO Today

We did USO support again today. We were trying to finish up all the painting and stuff from the last time. Empire Carpet came in to give us an estimate to recarpet the entire house. Everything's shaping up nicely!

ASD's photographer of all our events took a group photo of us. Hopefully I can get a copy soon and post it here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Quote - Conscience

There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.

-Ogden Nash, author (1902-1971)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Potato Chip Bags

Ever wonder why there are so few potato chips in those huge bags? Turns out that there are two reasons: (1) the bags get a squirt of nitrogen before sealing to help protect flavor and inflate the bag, and (2) the inflated bag helps keep the chips from getting crunched when they're packed in their shipping boxes.

I never knew that!

(Seen on the Food Network)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bumper Sticker

Where there's a will . . . put me in it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Aloha, mon, friend of batty boy going to Hawaii

Interesting writeup about what the author calls Caribbean carnage. Seems these little hotbeds of intolerance are alive and kicking!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Teena Marie is 50 YEARS OLD??

Man, do I feel old now! I can't believe it, and she still looks stunning! Her new album is pretty good, and she still has great vocals.

Quote - Happy

We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.

-Carlos Castenada

Monday, May 08, 2006

Got a GPS-Enabled Phone?

Starting in the Fall, you'll be able to use your phone as a navigation system by using Mapquest. I can't wait! It'll work in the car or even when walking around.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Cameron Column: Yoga Puts Me in a Bad Position

SICK!! Do you hear me? This is too funny! Mr. Cameron is a great comedian. I always laugh at his antics, but this one made me pee a little.....


Yoga Puts Me in a Bad Position

Copyright 2006 W. Bruce Cameron

Experts tell you that to stay in top physical condition, you should keep your strength and cardiovascular workouts in even proportion with your stretching exercises. For years I have done this, keeping all three at the same level, which is to say, zero. But when a newly opened yoga studio sent me a letter telling me I could come in for a free lesson, I was eager to go because it stated the program would be tailored very specifically for my personal needs, which I took to mean there would be a wine-and-cheese party afterward.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word for "smarter than the average bear." It is based on the belief that if you lie twisted up on the floor, one arm behind your neck and the other sticking out between your legs, ankles on opposing shoulders, your knees grinding into your backbone, you will find yourself in a state of mental and physical serenity that only a chiropractor can fix.

When I arrived at the yoga studio I was disappointed to see that I wouldn't be able to take a lesson after all, because a new Mexican cafe had opened up across the street and was giving out complimentary samples. One has to have priorities in life, and my priority is free food. While I was in the restaurant, however, I ran into two yoga students who enthusiastically sold me on the number-one benefit of yoga: Each lesson ends with a nap! It's called "kielbasa," I think they said--the instructor turns off the lights, gives everyone a blanket, and lets you lie there like a kindergartener at rest time.

I told the woman at the yoga center that I wanted the lesson that ended with the nap that sounded like sausage. Within a few minutes I was led into a large gym and guided to a flat mat on the floor.

The instructor was a painfully slender and fit woman whose arms and legs glowed with fake muscle tone. "Before we begin," she announced, "are there any special needs or requests?"

"I'm not sure if it is a need or a request, but I'd like a pillow," I told her.

She laughed--apparently this wouldn't be "full service" yoga kielbasa. "Let's begin," she said, and within minutes was talking us through a series of complex exercises like this: "Take the outer part of your inner right thigh and push it toward the center of your lower left knee, opening your hips" I fell to the floor as if I'd been tossed from a moving bus. "Now reach for the ceiling," she coaxed softly. "Try to feel your rib cage shatter, as your ligaments snap and your muscles shred. That's right. Feel your organs fail and your brain stem swell."

This might not be exactly what she said in her quiet, evil chant, but it is how I interpreted it. Then she had us bend at the waist, feet and hands flat on the floor, at which time it occurred to me that I'd eaten a bean burrito for lunch--and that I was just moments away from having it occur to other people as well.

The sensation was similar to what happens when you swallow an air hose and then become a professional contortionist. Nearly sobbing with effort, I concentrated on not becoming a human Hindenburg while the instructor continued her sadistic drills without any hint of the promised Polish sausage.

"Up down," she commanded. "Ache hurt. Pain die." (Again, this might not be exactly what she said.)

Finally she had us twist ourselves into a position for which the word "impossible" was invented, and I experienced what I suppose might be termed "explosive decompression." It sounded like a tuba player being sat on by an elephant. Everyone looked at me in alarm. "It's okay, I feel a lot better now," I assured them. The people closest to me were so relieved they had tears in their eyes.

By nap time nearly all the students had left, which I thought was rather odd. After all that work, why wouldn't they stick around for kielbasa? It was the best part!


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Where do your gas dollars go?

Got this note, included in my Mobil credit card bill:

The biggest component of the price of gasoline - recently around 60% - is the cost of crude oil. Worldwide, crude prices have more than doubled in the past two years, causing gas prices to rise.

Refining, transportation, and marketing account for another 20% of the pump price. Then there are federal and state taxes: currently about 20%

Today, the U.S. has around 170,000 service stations. ExxonMobil owns - and sets pump prices - at less than 1,000 of them. The vast majority are independent businesses, whose gross profit per gallon is around 5% - that's less than 12 cents, based on the average price in January.

Of course, the prices you pay at the pump goes up and down. This is due to supply and demand: for crude oil globally, and for gasoline locally. But the way the money is split - between governments, suppliers, refiners and station owners - has hardly changed in 25 years.

During 2005, we invested an average of almost $50 million every single day to meet future oil and gas demand. Since 2001, we have invested $74 billion, on six continents, in projects designed to secure long-term energy supplies. In fact, over the last fifteen years, we have invested more than we have earned. Naturally, our earnings go up and down with the business cycle. But our commitment to plan and invest for the future does not.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Portia de Rossi Gay!?

Never knew that, but I just read that she's hooked up with Ellen DeGeneres!

She was great on Ally McBeal!

Gene Robinson, Anglican Bishop, Speaks

"The notion that my love for my partner somehow undemines another person's marriage is just idiocy. Isn't it?"

By the way, he's gay.

(Source: Washington Post)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Computer Books Based on Pictures

Interesting concept. Several free books offered (like Microsoft Office, Linux, XP, and Open Office).

Oil Cartoons

(Source: Slate Magazine)

Democrats Introduce New Net Neutrality Bill

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed at preventing broadband carriers from discriminating against competing Web content or services. Compare this to the Republican horror of last week.

Case for My New Phone

The standard case that came with my new phone is pretty basic. I've found that a great case for the XV6700 is the standard case that came with my Archos 4100 (which has been safely residing in its Executive case). Take a look at these pics:

It's perfect for me: compact, easy-to-carry, and its has a belt loop on the back of the case.

You can see that it holds my phone, plus my Plantronics headset is attached to the closing strap for easy portability.

My only issue is with the belt loop; because it's attached to the case on both sides, I can't easily remove it without taking off my belt. That's a minor issue, though, since I rarely attach stuff like this to my belt. On the other hand, the belt loop is stretchy (like the closing strap) so it's easy to slip onto two fingers for a better grip on the case.

My friends say that I'm obsessive about collecting bags and cases, but here's an example where holding onto one of these really paid off.....

The DaVinci Code

Finally getting around to reading this book. Pretty good so far. I'm trying to get through it with speedreading, but there's a lot of dense places where I have to slow way down. I've only gotten through about 160 pages in about an hour and a half. What's that, less than 2 pages per minute? That's pretty slow for me - guess I need more practice.....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Seen on a bumper sticker

Low IQ is not an excuse.

Amen to that!!

2006 Honolulu AIDS Marathon

Ha! Betcha thought I was gonna run in the marathon, eh? No chance! Over time, gravity will pull all my body parts Earthward - no need to help it along.....

However, James (a co-worker) is running in the marathon. Check out his link, and donate freely!

Linux v. Windows

Man I was frustrated last night. Tried to install a PDA app using ActiveSync. The app wouldn't load because the account I was using wasn't an administrator of the machine.

I had like 30 windows open in the middle of some research and wasn't about to log off, so I tried to find the runas command on the file. No go. Don't know why - just another stupid Windows "issue" I'm sure. Microsoft wants people to not use admin accounts for daily use, yet they put up roadblocks all over the place if the logged in account is a regular user.

I finally gave up and closed all the open windows, logged in as an admin, and provided admin rights to my normal login. AT THAT TIME I FOUND OUT that if I tried loading the app in Active Sync logged on as an admin, that just created a whole other set of issues because the PDA wasn't attached to that account, blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH. Made me wanna have a STROKE!!

Oh well. I logged in as myself with my new admin privileges and installed the app. Fuck it - I'm gonna leave the admin privileges there.

I tell ya, when they have pen input for the tablets completed (which I read they're working on), Windows on my home computers will be so history.....

Caught up with a friend yesterday

I hadn't seen her for probably a couple of years, since she moved to New Mexico from the East Coast. It was nice; we stayed in an IM session pretty much all day, just casually chatting and randomly IMing. She's happy to be back in her homeplace, found a good job working with international clients, and has an office space overlooking the mountains. My view overlooks a bunch off office buildings. Nice, but not nearly as good as the mountains.....

Monday, May 01, 2006

Operation USO

So in addition to the Veteran's Home renovation this past weekend, we have the upcoming Operation USO: Care Package project. We'll be working as a group in a "stuffing party" to assemble care packages. No details yet, but it should be in May or June.

These, of course, are dedicated to my Military Buds, far-flung though they may be! (Hi, Maykel! Hi, Sandra! Hi, Dave! And everyone else, too!)

Napster is already paying for itself

I've listened to Bruce Springsteen's new album, The Seeger Sessions, today. Highly recommended! I downloaded it from Napster last night, along with a couple other albums. And some albums last week, and the week before. All for $15.00 - based on what I downloaded, I would've spent like $80 at iTunes or the other music stores.

I don't know how they do it, but I'm enjoying the freedom to pick and choose these as I wish. If they suck, I trash 'em without having to worry that I've wasted money.

I'm slowly getting over the I have to buy the music so that I own it on my hard drive and it's mine all mine issue. As long as I subscribe, the music IS mine, all mine.....

Bush Survived!

Says he at a Congressional Dinner last night: "Ladies and gentlemen, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shakeup."

Says me: "How unfortunate."

Get Out and Vote 2006 and 2008