Monday, December 31, 2007

stuff that sucked and soared in 2007

soared - tekkonkinkreet
beautiful, touching anime with a dark side. i think it came out in 2006, but we discovered it this year walking through the aisles of blockbuster. paprika was superb as well, but with more psychedelia and less heart.

soared - the shins "wincing the night away"
best album of 2007 in my book. it never left my playlist since doug introduced me to them right after the new album was released. having gone back and listened to their previous efforts this album was easily their best to-date. their live performance wasn't quite as good when we caught them at kcrw's evening becomes eclectic, but it wasn't nearly as bad as say, lily allen's performance was that evening.

sucked - windows mobile-based phones
maybe mobile 6 is better, but what an absolute piece of garbage 5 was. i could tolerate my palm treo 700w for all of 2 days and the Q i had was little better. symbian is a million times better.

soared - radiohead's "in rainbow"
versatile album that ranged from sophisticated breakbeats to gorgeous, wistful tracks like "reckoner" and "faust arp". oh yeah, and it was *free* to those who did not want to pay as radiohead tried to advance the music industry economic model (along with prince, saul williams and others this past year)

sucked - beowulf
not even pseudo-naked angelina jolie could save this stinker. the real 3-D was cool, but got old quick as you realized the plot was wafer thin.

soared - interface flor
need a cool rug but don't want to pay through the nose? interface flor let's you create yer own rugs by using their carpet tiles which cost about 10-18 bucks. i did 1/2 our garage and our dining room rug for around 400 bucks. just a decent 5x8 would have put us back about $700.

sucked - home warranties
who buys this stuff? this is the 3rd time i've had one that came with a home purchase and they make it impossible to actually make a claim. and then when you finally break through, it takes forever to get something authorized. pretty lousy business model when you're whole premise is to make it as difficult as possible to please your customers. the web-based submission form for my current provider doesn't even work. bleccch.

soared - cleveland browns
my brownies finally pulled off a solid, winning season going 10-6 while missing the playoffs by a whisker. for a team where very little was expected, what a pleasant surprise to see the boys in orange crank out a good season for once.

venice street art, take I

the shot below was taken with my nokia e61i while out and about yesterday morning on a saturday walk with jane. thought i'd capture some of the very groovy street art in our neighborhood and play around with mobile blogging. this is a mural done by "chase" who has done a number of installments around the neighborhood (and well beyond). check out his site:

Monday, December 17, 2007

and the sign says...

it's always a little too easy to take a shot at my jumbo-sized company. everyone knows that when an organization gets really big, dumb things happen on a pretty routine basis. the overwhelming mediocrity of most people drown out most of the best efforts of the well-intentioned, striving few and what you end up with is either just so-so. or occasionally, pretty damn funny if you keep an open mind.

i snapped the foto to the right during a meeting recently in the *finance* department level. while you might consider this a call-to-arms to embrace the culture of security required to create market-leading protection products, it might also mean...

a) "adopt the incarcerated way of life"-- ah yes! rock on prison-style finance team! i could of swore i saw the accounting team playing dominoes for cigarettes on my way to my next meeting.

b) "interweave thyself in harmonious union, like links of a joined chain" -- i don't recommend this at all. not only does it make company picnics uncomfortable, someone will poke an eye out before too long. and that's to say nothing of the HR implications of this ill-fated encouragement. i recommend the following strategy: "distance thyself with well-timed aloofness". not only will this free you from an possible social entanglement, people will assume you're smarter than what you are. this simple tactic has worked for *ages*, but can be instantly negated by things like fanny packs and wearing pants to short to cover up your leg hair.

c) "go ahead, chain yourself up. and when you're done, help your neighbor" -- this is sort of the obvious one. yikes. heard what they found in britney's secret room in her house? double yikes. even though she's kinda fat and tarnished, i'd still rather think of her in her naughty place than struggle with the thoughts of the finance department engaged in some act of sado-masochism. think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts...

alright now onto the just plain funny. we have this goofy checkpoint in our new office where you have to scan your badge before you walk up the stairs. there's no door, no barrier to get past, just an invisible "fence" of sorts that makes a low-pitch ambulance sound if you blow past it without paying your proper respects by swiping your badge. in order to better enforce this, they have stationed a security guard nearby during the day who scurries over to collar offending employees if they don't swipe. sooooooooooooo.... in light of all this silliness, someone broke it down vanilla-ice style on the poster board, calling out that you should not only stop, but also collaborate and listen before you pass the checkpoint. nice! in respects to the man who "flow(s) like a harpoon daily and nightly", i offer you the rest of the verse and salute the person who smacked the star on the sign.
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Then I flow like a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop? Yo - I don't know
Turn off the lights and I'll glow
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

current playlist

the dominatrix sleeps tonight - dominatrix - fabric live 33, spank rock
3 strange days (extended version) - school of fish - school of fish
indian ocean - west indian girl - 4th and wall
girl/boy song - aphex twin - richard d. james album
banged and blown through - saul williams - niggy tardust
got you (where i want you) - the flys - 25 cents
tea leaf dancers - flying lotus - reset
star 6 & 7 8 9 - the orb - adventures beyond the ultraworld
glad i ate her (original mix) - cass and slide - white label
reckoner - radiohead - in rainbow
ridiculous wobble - bassnector/nibu - underground communications
hey son - the black seeds - kiwi dub collection (private compilation)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

venice xmas run

the venice xmas run is hands-down one of my favorite holiday traditions. i started running it when i first moved to california, prompted by my new pal big jason at deloitte & touche. i can't remember what i ran it in (something in the 50s?), but this is what got me started with running in LA, and soon beyond.

when i moved back to the westside a few years ago, we resurrected the tradition by inviting a few folks over for mimosas afterwards. it's been gathering steam over the last couple years and we had 10+ people join us this past saturday at the new casa. i finished a little over 46 mins, not bad for a guy recovering from a cold.

a few shots of the runners below.
happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

sprinting to xmas

just got back from wednesday evening hockey. we lost but i poked in a goal and notched an assist, not a bad evening o' stress elimination and exercise.

i've bumped into a few things that are pretty funny lately. if you've never read the register, it's worth checking out. here's your chance: they tormented MSN's santa bot and got it to crack under the pressure, talking about oral sex and calling the person a dirty bastard.

this one was surfaced by digg once again and is priceless; it's 5 of the worst high school senior pictures that ever graced a blog.

on a more serious note, i ran into this quote lately which i think is really poignant:
Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
John le Carre (1931 - )
"The Chancellor Who Agreed To Play Spy", The New York Times, May 8, 1974
i'm sure everyone has felt like this at some point, but was unable to find the exact words to articulate the alien feelings upon re-entry to their normal existence. i get this sentiment on the tail-end of a long, intl biz trip at times.

i wanted to share 2 fantastic ways of wasting time online. the first is to spend hours playing around with interface flor designs. hands-down, you can make the coolest and cheapest rugs using interface flor. below is a shot of a couple designs i was playing with. i ended up buying a green version of the orange one of the left for under our dining room table and am very happy with how it turned out (and spent under $250 on it!)

interface flor
the next is my newest addiction: the puma mongolian shoe bbq. you can design your own special flavor of pumas by selecting different colors and materials, all for about $130 bucks (not cheap). it beats the pants off the nike version of the same concept which is less flexible and intuitive.

i've been practicing on especially boring conference calls and when i have a coupla extra minutes. i've polished my skills over the last couple weeks and i think i've gotten pretty good :-) check out my latest creation below, which i'm thinking of ordering for xmas .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

random thanksgiving musings

saw this recently via digg, which has become my geek news source of choice:

it's a mysterious blue cloud that "haunted" a gas station for about 30 mins or so. pretty interesting and i've no clue what it is (or if the story is real). the most interesting aspect of this IMO is how the digg crowd reacted. they made fun of the story and stated that it had to be an insect or something else readily explainable. now i can see how claims that this is an angel or a ghost could be easily questioned, but does everything have to be so readily dismissed by the dogma of science? is it ok if just a few things are genuinely unexplainable and strange?

our world is a wacky, mystical place. there's still many things we do not understand. i worry that the forthcoming generation (and my own) have abandoned this sense of wonder for the scientific arrogance that moves quickly to discredit something that challenges our understanding of the world and our lives. i do, however, applaud the comments regarding smurf farts and the vengeful spirit of global warming coming forth to haunt the SUV owners :-)

anyways, i've been a little lame on posts but figured on this thanksgiving eve i would catch up a little. been heads-down with work amongst the uber-political work environment. our design checkpoint is done so the worst is over but i never cease to be surprised by the fragile egos and poltitical motivations of the people of power in a big company like mine. since i have no further motivation of advancing in the company, i can afford to sit back and laugh a little but it's truly sad. sooner or later, it's back to start-up land for me.

jane and i just passed our first anniversary. i'll spare the planet my cliche'd thoughts on marriage. i don't think it's really *that* much work as people say but it is different than before, as i quickly learned earlier this year. it suits me fine and gets better each day with time and effort. 'nuff said, we're happy.
i will confess i've been spending a fair bit of time on facebook, which sort of feels like i'm cheating on my blog. they really nailed the social aspect of it though and i have to say i completely understand why it is successful. very cool stuff.
time for bed as i get ready to cook my first turkey: cletus, the 20lb wonderbird. wish me luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

current playlist

sunday bloody sunday - saul williams - niggy tardust
ring road - underworld - oblivion with bells
lindsay lohan's revenge - pase rock feat. santo gold - ep single
deborah - beck - midnight vultures
middle distance runner - seawolf - leaves in the river
arp faust - radiohead - in rainbow
milk crisis - go! team - proof of youth
massage situation - flying lotus - reset
forever begins - common - finding forever

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

crimeware book

finally! worked on this early this year and after much ado, the book is up on Amazon and soon to be available. i am a contributing author, having penned the section on the business of crimeware. i drew on my experience over the past few years dealing with spyware and adware disputes, as well as malware investigative research we've conducted. should be accessible to even the less technical folks out there.

Link to Amazon entry for the book

Sunday, October 28, 2007


just returned from a short trip to vancouver, which is easily one of the most beautiful cities on the face of the planet. there's few places in the world that have their combination of mountains, ocean, cleanliness, cool people, and metropolitan amenities.

anyways, thought i'd make good on my musings tagline and yet again ramble on my latest learnings and mental wanderings. first off, i've already learned a great deal about the retail industry but still have a long ways to go. it's pretty interesting and completely different than the corporate sales stuff i've grown accustomed to over the past 12 years. about the only thing i can say definitively right now is that my longstanding concern that i was getting screwed paying retail prices is absolutely confirmed. i've also learned the number of middlemen that get a cut of the action. note to self: order those new shoes from

we officially sold my old condo last friday. i dropped off my keys and the garage door openers in the early evening as the sun was beginning its dip into the pacific. i'll fully admit i was a little misty-eyed to the leave the place (the final, amazing sunset just punctuated my sentiments, pic to the right). it was the home of the last phase of my bachelorhood, my 30th b-day, many games of dominos, rooftop bbqs, and countless good times. if my old place in huntington was emblematic of my wild, partying days then 2222 was symbolic of an intense time of personal growth and maturity. neither better nor worse, just different. i will miss the place dearly, though our new digs are coming along just fine and already feels like a home. time moves on, all things change.

on the music side, the new radiohead album is in heavy rotation on my ipod. for the life of my i cannot understand what thom yorke is saying but i'm sure it's some weighty statement on the dissasociation of humanity through technology. it could be about gerbils, really doesn't matter, it sounds fantastic. additional faves right now are UNKLE "War Stories" and Underworld "Oblivion With Bells", both of which will be faves for the year. UNKLE's new album is their best in as long a time as i can remember. james lavelle finally learned to rock, god bless ya. underworld has yet to regain the brilliance of beaucoup fish but the album is stellar nonetheless (check out crocodile, the best mamgu ever, and ring road).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

random travel thoughts

so i'm in DC today after a short trip from fort lauderdale. missed the beach entirely, which is a real shame but c'est la vie. the one thing i did learn at the convention in fort lauderdale is the difference b/w the crappy enterprise-oriented tradeshows i had been going to and consumer-style tradeshows. i was quickly taught how to barter with software for lots of other goods, everything from dvds to games and music. big win! i'd show up with an armful of norton internet security and i would receive the happy greeting of "you looking to trade?" why yes my friend, i am. it turned out so well that the resulting booty from my bartering forced me to have a small box shipped back with all the goodies. woohoo!!! i'm liking this new job already :-)

what the hell has happened to people's mobile manners? had a cabbie in fort lauderdale that was *texting* while driving me to the hotel. today in d.c., had a female bartender that couldn't be bothered to take my order since she was chatting away on her side kick for 5 mins while i prompted with ever louder "excuse me's". wtf???!!!

if you ever get to D.C., don't miss Georgia Brown's or Zaytinya. very different restaurants but both out of this world food.

one my pet peeves of travel is the airport change-up. that is, when you finish with a formal meeting and only have the trip home on front of you and you want to swap out the suit you're in for the jeans, t-shirt and sneakers you packed for a relaxing trip home. this means an extended stay in a bathroom stall, almost all of which have very convenient and hygenic auto-flush features. the problem is if i'm changing, i'm setting off the auto-flush about 13 times before i can get out of the bathroom. the scenario goes something like this...

dave: open suitcase, shuffling off dress pants and shirt while reaching for jeans and t-shirt
flush #1
dave: oh here we go... (packing dress clothes, reaching for sneakers)
flush #2
dave: sigh. putting on jeans and tshirt.
flush #3
dave: i can nearly visualize the temperature in the arctic rising and some poor penguin passing out from heat exhaustion. clothes on, putting on sneakers, tying shoes...
flush #4
dave: i can hear the ice in greenland cracking at the pressure i'm putting on the
fresh water supply. whales have changed their migratory patterns and PETA
representatives are protesting outside our home for the impact i've had on baby
seal habitats

... I'll spare you the rest of the details, but by the time I'm done the
robot-toilet has flushed no less than 12 times and i've visualized myself
kick-boxing with al gore while eco-armageddon takes place around us. makes me
want to go and recycle something, or get a massage.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

overheard in fort lauderdale

police officer to crowd of people in front of jamba juice at 10pm (!?):
"if you are not patrons, leave the area"

person in the crowd:
"what did he say? sumthin' 'bout patriots?"

another person in the crowd:
"he's trying to figger out what country we're from."

hey, i think i figured it out. check please. tomorrow: off to washington DC.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

current playlist

subterranean homesick alien - radiohead - ok computer
elementary lover - matthew dear - asa breed
pogo - digitalism - idealism
don't you evah - spoon - ga ga ga ga
seconds - fat freddy's drop - midnight marauders vls
shoot to thrill - acdc - back in black
crocodile - underworld - oblivion with bells
d.a.n.c.e. - justice - cross
you'll find a way (switch & sinden remix) - santogold - single
luz azul - aterciopelados - oye
stairway to heaven - rodrigo y gabriela - rodrigo y gabriela

... and huge kudos to radiohead for offering their new album solely online *for what their fans want to pay*. brilliant! it may or may not work, but a very brave gesture nonetheless. that noise you heard earlier in the week was the record label executives falling off their chairs. via this type of exploration, there's hope that we'll arrive at a reasonable model for paying artist for their work without the burden of money-leeching middle-men spoiling the music industry. onward!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

early autumn musings

so we've moved into our new home here in santa monica and are in escrow on my old bachelor pad just a mile up the road. phew! it's all been pretty maddening given the crappy market and prolonged move (took about 2.5 months) but we've finally arrived to our "big people" home with free-standing walls (no more condos!) and 600 extra square feet. i don't know how it happened but every inch of the new space we have seems to be inhabited by clothes or shoes jane had squirreled away previously. ah well...

the pic to the right was taken on my way to the airport in des moines, iowa. definitely *not* the 105 or sepulveda! i was there for my very last threat landscape presentation, which was cathartic. i've given the presentation 20+ times and have all my jokes, cues, etc lined up to the point that it is an act of some sorts. as of the 17th of this month i officially joined the consumer team at symantec and have been plunged headlong into the wacky world of creating software for families, grandmas and those little dogs that people stuff into purses. so far, so good. i've had a chance to muse a bit while transitioning and ask myself what i've learned in my nearly 12 years of working post-college. the big lesson i've learned can be summed up by the following quote: "One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say" - Will Durant. being a chatty fellow and having more than my fair share of opinions, i've learned over time that the best thing i can do if i'm not certain of my take on a subject is just to shut-up. not very deep, but really useful. it never ceases to amaze me how many people speak when they should simply be listening.

the shot to the right this time was from the korean festival jane and i went to with her mom a weekend or 2 ago. the festival was in k-town, but close enough to latino neighborhoods to draw them in as well. pretty entertaining to see all the koreans and a strong contingent of mexicans who showed up for the festivities as well, not wanting to miss out on a party. pretty fun :-) oh yeah, the foto: a shot of the beauty pageant that was going on while we were though. pretty goofy given the tuxes, near bridal gowns and the fact that they were surrounded by dirt floors, cell phone company promotions and bemused mexicans wondering what the hell the 2 for $5 duk-bo-gi they bought *really* was.

if the picture looks a little better than normal it's b/c i've had a new phone for about 3 weeks now: the nokia e61i. it has its moments, but overall it is the best smart phone i've had. wayyyy better than the anemic moto Q i was more than happy to ditch. the only thing i will miss is bubble breaker! bb was the best cell-phone game ever. small price to pay for a reliable phone with a good camera that works almost exactly how you think it should.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

summer close

well, the air is getting a little crisper here in los angeles and summer seems to be winding down. in my mind, we pretty much officially put it to bed with the underworld performance at the bowl this past sunday which marks the end of the year's world music series.

paul oakenfold kicked it off with carmen rizzo and bored the bowl with played-out trance anthems. poor paul never quite could make the cut beyond his early success breaking other people's reasonably good records to pilled out ravers. growing his hair out didn't get him any closer to the next level either, now not only does he sound tired, but he looks like one of those cavemen from the geico commercials. arrogant bastard also shamelessly promo'd his record-label "perfecto music" in the video visuals. when his logo wasn't spinning around like so much bad powerpoint, it was emblazoned on a hot asian chick who in a purple bodysuit with the perfecto label on her chest. subtle...

underworld started slow with tracks from their forthcoming album "oblivion with bells". note to underworld: if you haven't done a new album in 3 years, you might want to warm us up a little with some old stuff. the new stuff was somewhere between the old breaky beats and the newer atmospheric electronica they've showed off on efforts like the breaking and entering soundtrack. regardless, they returned to form in the second half with rez cowgirl, 100 days off, bornslippy and king of snake. freakin' fantastic stuff. karl hyde is still a great performer and they always put on a solid visual show. they did "jumbo" as an encore, which was a strange choice that was a little anti-climactic. regardless, one of the best bowl performances i've seen in a while and rivaled a strong performance by groove armada earlier in the summer.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


hola de playa del carmen! the internet connection finally got up and running here the other day, it was one of many minor casualties of hurricane dean. while he was little more than a tropical storm here, the mexicans say that "dean nos despeino un poco" (messed up our hair a little).

jane and i did a whale shark snokeling trip-- after a few hundred dives and not seeing a freakin' whale shark i figured the mountain was definitely not coming to muhammad this time. so i strapped on a snorkel and let the mexicanos hunt down the world's biggest fish for us. while we only saw 3 of them (other days they've seen loads, b/w 10-20 or 60-70 even), i'd definitely recommend it if you grew up watching jacques cousteau shows like i did. pretty damn cool. the picture here is definitely not one we took, but you'll get the idea. the one downside of doing a whale shark trip rather than naturally encountering them is that you get 3 boats of about 70 ppl circling 1-2 poor whalesharks, hopping into the water and swimming in their face until the whale shark reaches peak irritation and dives down well beyond a snorkeler's reach. i'm pretty sure jacques would frown on this, but i'm older now and realizing that his is french i naturally think less of his opinion than previously ;-)

if you make it down to "playa", make sure you grab dinner at yaxche and that you spend an afternoon down in tulum at the ruins and the impeccable beach club, ana y jose. ana y jose is a very cool little hotel with a beach club that costs about 8 bucks per person. cheap drinks, good food, nice tunes, shaded loungers, and miles of white sandy beach. tip o' the sombrero to dean for the great recommendations on both places.

another of the highlights was the cenote diving at the cenote dive center. cenotes are a fancy spanish word for "cave filled with water". i drove down to tulum (this time solito) to dive a couple cenotes for the afternoon. we did the "calaveras" & "grand cenote", both which were impressive. calaveras was cool due to the presence of a halocline, a layer of fresh water sitting on top of the salt water below it. i'd never seen a halocline before so diving it was really interesting. it basically makes a oily, hazy mess of the water in front of you when you transition b/w layers of water. given that you're trying to follow someone about 7 feet on front of you in a dark cave, the effect, while interesting, is also a little unnerving.

the grand cenote was more accessible and had a lot more people there (both snorkeler's and divers) in contrast to the calaveras where we hiked a little ways into a mosquito-infested jungle before jumping into a hole 10 feet below us. there's a reason for this: it's a lot more impressive. the grand cenote is a cavernous system with towering stalactites and stalagmites you swim around. as you cruise through the passages, you occassionally get a glimpse of the emerald green water near the open air. the affect is indescribably cool. the best part was coming back at the end and looking at the 3 ladders dangling in the water, which under the brilliant green water and surrounded by the cave seemed like something out of a fairy tale (or, being a bit dorkier than most, the game "myst"). i was more than happy to climb out of the rabbit hole, however, as for the last 10 minutes i couldn't stop thinking " sweet lord what would happen if there was an earthquake and we were stuck in here?"

alright, time for a little more chilean wine and neil gaiman's "fragile things". hasta pronto,
btw, thanks to whoever took the pics!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

current playlist

m.i.a. - boyz - kala
how we operate - gomez - live session, kcrw
don dinero - aterciopelados - oye
una hoja una raiz - aterciopelados - red hot and latin redux
a million babies - owusu & hannibal - living with...
medusa - ulirch schnauss - goodbye
young pilgrams - the shins - chutes too narrow
das spiegel - chemical brothers - we are the night
que bom - mocean worker - cinco de mowo
peacock tail - boards of canada - campfire headphase
twilight - UNKLE feat. 3d - war stories

Saturday, August 18, 2007

jacked bank account, illustrated

i've worked in security for a very longggggggggg time. it's often hard to explain to people the impact of online threats. i've found that statistics don't mean much to people in this area other than biznesses trying to justify corp expenditures. the only things that have really driven consumer purchases in info security have been massive worms which crippled computers and then spyware & adware which also had a direct, visible impact. well, both of those have gone away to be replaced by silent crimeware which steals data. so what happens when your bank account gets jacked by the baddies in belarus? the photo here was taken from our online fraud community monitoring tool and is still available online from a photo sharing site. the thief was either bragging or showing off the wares for purchase.
my basic advice? keep your system & apps (esp. internet explorer) up-to-date, use security s/w, and anything that looks to good to be true most certainly is trying to pull one over on you. if you need sec s/w, ping me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

socal livin' snippets

i felt my first real earthquake last week here in socal. it was a 4.6 shaker centered out of chatsworth. of all irony, my earthquake policy on our condo had just run out a couple days beforehand. while it messed with my head a little (i was doing some late evening work when it hit) and woke jane up out of bed, nothing seemed to be much affected. after a few days of mulling it over, i'm thinking of cancelling the policy on the new place :-) tectonic plates, is that all you got baby?!

this shot is from the window looking out the back of our new place. you'd think we were moving to backwoods alabama, eh? instead, this is lovely santa monica. 2 houses down is a beautiful new 2 unit condo with modern stylings and the like. right behind us? sanford and sons. on the left of the new casa? pit bull in the all-dirt backyard with an F150. choloville, amigo. all of this for the price of stifling mortgage that would make my midwestern family blush, if not faint. i'm not one to keep up with the joneses, but i don't necessarily want to raise kids in front of a methlab either. if anyone knows the patron saint of gentrification, let me know and i'll offer up an old testament style burnt sacrifice in hopes of neighbor displacement.

on a lighter note, jane and i went to see reggae night VI at the bowl this past sunday. wailing souls were playing along with sly and robbie as well as burning spear. wailing souls were boring and burning spear was unimpressive. sly and robbie didn't disappoint, especially their numbers with cherine anderson (taxi gang). where the hell was horace andy though?

ah well, the event of the evening were the colorful characters sitting in front of us. the lady in yellow highlighted an, uh, interesting new trend: bluetooth headset as fashion piece. while she didn't get a call during the show (how could you with the noise and bad reception?) the little red motorola headset was in her ear the whole time. i looked around the bowl and sure enough, saw a handful of other people doing the same. am i missing something here? bluetooth headset = fannypack. even if it matches your shirt and finger nail polish.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

uneasy street

well, i've been pretty lame about blogging lately but i have really good excuses. first off, i'm in the midst of taking on a new job. won't be in it officially until mid-sept but i'm starting to ramp up now. big learnings ahead! should be fun. next up is our new house which closed a couple of weeks ago. while this would normally be really exciting, we've been on the market for about 2 months now with our condo with no offers. yikes!

anyways, enough with the excuses. i thought i'd share a view of what i see when i drive into the rampart district of LA (west of downtown) to pick up my pal jonathan on sundays. most ppl don't know this but the rampart district has the 2nd highest population density in the US, next to manhattan. and it isn't due to the high rises, it's largely attributable to the masses of latino immigrants crowding their familes into tiny apartments.

elcome to uneasy street. this is a shot looking down the alleyway into a nearby park that is infamous for aggressive street people and thugs. tagging and gang violence is normal here. since i've known jonathan, 3 of his acquaintances and pals have been shot and killed. for someone under 18, that's insane.
this was laying on the side of the street in front of me while i waited for jonathan. anyone else find dolls a little creepy? especially when their heads are poking out of abandoned suitcases? they were gone from the suitcase when i returned that evening. apparently someone found them more interesting than disturbing.
iraq or LA? this is the entrance to the apt bldg next door.
i hope our politicians, mission workers and other global do-gooders realize that we have serious needs here at home. time to focus on cleaning our own house for a change?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"they tried to make me go to rehab..."

it must have been about 6am today when i was awoke out of my early morning slumber to a sound that reminded me of flying lawnmowers. needless to say i did what any sensible person would do: i rolled over and dreamed about the winged gardeners and airplane-like leaf blowers that would obviously accompany the airborne lawnmowers. judging from jane's tossing back and forth, she was doing the same.

after fully waking up and taking a look out the window, there were 4 helicopters hovering over santa monica near the police station. jane's reasonable explanation was a search and rescue at the nearby beach. closer inspection though showed that the helicopters belonged to the news stations rather than the police or coast guard. so what was going down near the civic center?

turns out it was lindsay lohan, fresh outta 45 day rehab, chasing her personal assistant in her car. apparently, her assistant had quit and was running away from her. lindsay was so distraught by this she decided to give chase and convince her assistant to stay in his/her post. this is the type of thinking that only makes sense when you're high:

ok, my assistant just left me. not good. this would mean i'm picking up my own starbucks for at least a few days while i replace her. i can deal with this, dammit, i'm lindsay lohan. what will really convince my assistant they should stay with me is if i chase her across town in my car. let's see... car keys? check. handbag? check. gram of coke? hmmmm... i really shouldn't but it *is* easier than getting my own coffee for a little pick-me-up. check!

so here's our lovely starlet following her little chase through town. not a bad shot considering some of the mugshots i've seen of other handcuffed stars (remember mel gibson's?) unless there is some grave travesty of justice, lindsay will end up in jail somewhere in LA for at least a short period of time, a la paris hilton. should be good celeb gossip and stupid news fodder for months to come. since i don't watch tv, i'm really fine with this if people find this interesting. the only thing i ask is just keep the helicopters somewhere else so that i can go back to dreaming about extinguishing california wildfires with vats of tapioca pudding and an army of horse-sized gophers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

getty & the bowl

summer in los angeles bring back with it some of the finest things in life. namely...

- green corn tamales at el cholo
- evening bike rides on the sta monica strand
- strawberries and (later) persimmons at the farmer's mkt on main street (sun) and 3rd street (sat)
- free summer concerts at the getty
- free summer concerts in marina del rey, overlooking the harbor
- and lastly, the always fantastic world music series at the hollywood bowl (not even close to free, but completely worth it)

the shot above is of the getty, all lit up, while los amigos invisibles tear it down during their evening performance on opening nite. not bad at all.

nonetheless, the shot to the upper left was of the far better performance by brazil's dj dolores who killed it on the lower stage with his band 'alparelgahem". if you look closely, you can see him playing on the decks while smoking a cigarette out of the corner of his mouth. maybe a smattering of unnecessary cool, but forgiveable given how great their performance was. all the better, they played during sunset, so you could see the sun descend over the ocean while taking in the brazilectro.

the other shots here were from the equally memorable opening of the series we subscribed to this year at the 'bowl. the show featured cafe tacuba with groove armada as the opener. i'd bet this is one of the few times GA has opened for anyone, but given the latino population in LA it makes sense.

GA put on a great show, trotting out a fairly full band and several vocalists including MAD (SuperStylin', Lightsonic) and Skush. there was another performer as well but that was after 2 bottles of vino and i'll be damned if i can remember who it was. they balanced between old faves like "chicago" and "my friend" as well as some of the better stuff from soundboy rock. they didn't play "out of control (song for mutya)" which is arguably the best track from their latest album.

to the right is long lost pal danny, who out of some stroke of luck sat down across from us. great seeing you my man.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

current playlist

burst generator - chemical brothers - we are the night
carbon kid - alpinestars (feat brian molko) - white noise
rick rubin - spank rock - yoyoyoyoyo
cold brains - beck - mutations
keep the car running - arcade fire - neon bible
back to black - amy winehouse - back to black
don't hide it - alexkid - mint
big wednesday - adam freeland - free*land
may day - UNKLE - nights temper
a portrait of autumn - jon kennedy - take my drum to england
supermoves (animatrix edit) - overseer - the animatrix o.s.t.

Monday, July 02, 2007

true colors concert

last weekend my pal te'o offered me up a ticket to the last leg of the true colors concert, an 80s gig that benefits the "erase hate" (read: gay rights) cause. the headliner and brains behind it all was cyndi lauper, now 54 and with something like 9 albums under her belt. there she is to the right, as rendered by the Q on the video screen at the greek theatre, which survived the recent fires without so much a scratch.

we showed up in time to catch debby harry's set (former blondie front woman), which was about 5 songs too long (probably 10 total). debby, you're in your 60s now sweetheart. your voice isn't bad, but pseudo punk just doesn't sound the same from a paunchy lady whose face is criss-crossed with more lines than an indiana jones travel map. "french kissin' in the usa" was the highlight, and she unfortunately steered clear of a bunch of blondie faves like "heart of glass".

cyndi may have scored the headline position since she had organized the tour but the legions of gay boys at the event were there to see one act: erasure. i remember buying their top hits album about 15 years ago and listening to it almost nonstop for a couple months. yes, it follows a steady formula but it's really well-done and andy bell still sounds great. the only time they missed during their 10 song set was with one of their new tracks which sounded a little bit like synthed-up polka. for the rest of the songs the entire crowd was on their feet singing: savannah song, sometimes, chains of love, oh l'amour, etc.

we had pretty low expectations for cyndi lauper but i'll have to admit she was nearly as good as erasure. she's got a great stage presence (very relaxed, fun) and her quirky voice is surprisingly strong. i don't know whether they blessed her with a little extra volume in her mic but cyndi belted out tracks like "i drove all night", "good enough", "she bop" and of course "girls just wanna have fun". in contrast to debby harry, she looks pretty damn good for her age too, in spite of her purple hair. they wrapped it all up with "true colors" and with everyone on the stage for "a little respect" and all the colored balls you see in the shot above being pumped out into the crowd.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

we win! ... er wait a minute...

yep, we won the nation's worth traffic contest! hah. now i can scoff at all those east coast pals who complain about their measly traffic. we're the kings baby!

one interesting tidbit:
because our traffic sucks, we have less fatalities.
makes perfect sense: how do you have a fatal collision at 5mph? how do you run over a pedestrian when no one walks in LA? all the stories of senior citizens decimating farmer's markets and drivers shooting other people with guns they carry in the glove boxes are clearly overdone. the reality is we're polite enough to get out of the car *before* we shoot each other.
start taking notes, montana!

California has worst U.S. traffic: study
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Californians idle in the nation's worst traffic jams on interstates surrounding major metropolitan areas but they are far from alone -- 52 percent of these urban stretches of highways are congested, according to a new study released on Thursday.

Drivers in four lucky states enjoyed zero congestion: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

But one Midwestern state, Minnesota, and two East Coast states nearly matched California's sorry showing.

Some 83.33 percent of California's urban interstates are overcrowded, followed by Minnesota at 77.78 percent and New Jersey at 73.35 percent, according to the 16th annual survey by The Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonpartisan group.

Manhattan popularized the term "gridlock" but traffic jams on New York's urban interstates were only mediocre, ranking 37th at 53.39 percent, according to the libertarian-idea promoting group that compared volume-to-capacity ratios.

Drivers in some states whose booming economies are magnets for new residents spent much more time car-sitting without moving than New Yorkers. Florida ranked 40th at 59.44 percent. And Texas, whose $50 billion road privatization dwarfs all of its peers, was 41st at 59.67 percent, the study said.

And for the eighth year in a row, New Jersey had the nation's worst overall road system, according to the group.

"Gridlock isn't going away," said David Hartgen, the lead author and a professor at the University of North Carolina.

To reverse this trend, the 50 states -- which spent almost $99 billion on roads in 2005 -- must prioritize their dollars on traffic-busting projects, added the Charlotte-based expert.

That might be a bit of a challenge for New Jersey, whose Democratic Gov. John Corzine might partly privatize its toll roads. New Jersey's administrative costs were the nation's highest at $68,352 per state-controlled mile, the study said.

Massachusetts was 49th at $60,807; next was California, whose overhead ate up $50,614. New York ranked 43rd -- but its $18,687 tab was less than one-third of neighboring New Jersey.
Florida ranked 42nd at $16,109; Texas was much leaner, spending just $3,147 which put it in 9th place.

North Dakota had the least expensive bureaucrats, spending only $1,786, followed closely by Arkansas, which ranked second at $1,805, and Missouri which was third at $1,989.

New Jersey's total road budget -- $2.36 million per state-controlled mile -- was also more than double that of the next biggest spender, which was Massachusetts at $893,236.

Florida was 48th at $570,191, just above New York, which ranked 47th with a budget of $552,807.

California was 43rd in total spending at $336,954. Texas spent just less than third of that, ranking 26th at $106,221.

South Carolina spent the least -- $31,262. West Virginia was second at $41,839; next came North Carolina at $44,654.

Though states got 13 percent more federal transportation aid in 2005 than in 2004, they may have focused on potholes.

"They put the money right to work on the road surface," Hartgen said by telephone, noting the "pavement condition" of urban and rural roads improved. But fatalities rose a bit and little headway was made in speeding urban interstate trips.

"They put a lot more money into the system but haven't really turned the corner on congestion," Hartgen said.

Though often driver-maddening, traffic jams can actually cut deaths by slowing speeds. "Most of the states with very low accident rates also have very high congestion," said Hartgen.

Massachusetts did best on the death scale, with only 0.797 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles. Connecticut came second at 0.865, followed by Vermont at 0.946.

New Jersey was 5th with 1.013, followed by New York at 1.039. California took 19th place with 1.315 fatalities.

Montana was the deadliest, with 2.256 fatalities. South Dakota was 49th at 2.215; South Carolina was 48th at 2.211.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the "executive" view

it's often said that big companies have lotsa resources, with fancy desks and executive offices with cherrywood desks and views gazing out over the landscape. i'm here to expose this lie.

here's the view from the back of my little office. aeron chair? check. neglected biz mgmt books?check. picture of wife? check. nothing unusual here, save perhaps my electric green buddha coin bank. let's take a look out that window...
ah yes! my little office has a choice view of the loading bay, whose dumpsters send out a siren call to all of the homeless in ppl in the nearby park. and today look who i spied digging in the dumpster: the big lebowski's twin brother. the loading bay has been far better than any mountain or ocean view as i get to the play the game of "guess what's in the dumpster?"
he shoots, he scores! leaping off his feet, lebowski goes deep in the BFI bin. today was a light day for dumpster treasures, he was solely was able to uncover a handful of recyclabes for redemption. better luck tomorrow my man, i'll be cheering for you.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

sedona by the photos

i thought i'd share a few of our shots from a visit to sedona, AZ last weekend. this time from our nice camera instead of my crappy motorola Q. the one up above is jane and i driving into town. you can see the groovy red rocks up in front of us. we stayed at the sedona rouge hotel which was pretty nice, but sits right next to a strip mall with an oversized safeway looming over it. nothing spells "weekend getaway" like the neon luminescence of a grocery store sign...

behold! it's a very sneaky and nearly invisible "secret mountain wilderness"! i've noticed that overtime the requirements for naming something "secret" have really bottomed out. this trail was about as secret as a 7-11. truth be told we hiked for about a mile and 1/2 before it became intolerably hot and we dashed for the car before we turned into beef jerkey.

sedona has some great scenery beyond the famous red rocks. i was surprised at how green it was for the desert, really quite nice. the above little flower was hanging out on a cactus during our ill-fated hike along the not-so-secret boynton trail.

ah yes, slide rock park! we'd passed this up earlier in the day as the heat had drawn everyone from within a 20 mile radius to the park. we opted instead to chill out in the quaint downtown area of flagstaff which was about 2000 miles higher in elevation and a little cooler. we caught slide rock with much less crowds around 5:30 and i hopped into the water straight away.

woohoooooo!!! slide rock gets its namesake from the little "waterslides" nature has carved into the rock. as you can tell by the look on my face, it was lotsa fun :-)

and now for round 2!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

not so normal in minneapolis

picture this: 48 hour biz trip for me to minneapolis for a speaking gig to a small group of customers. i'm expecting a ho-hum, uneventful excursion to the midwest. i was planning to do the rough equivalent of "plugging my nose and swallowing" the brussel sprouts of a town that i expected minneapolis to be. then the fun started...

walking through the airport, i glanced to my left and caught this advertisement: "Goose Problems?"

uh, not really. why do you ask, flightcontrol?

turns out that migrating canadian geese are the plague of golf courses and people with large lawns everywhere in minneapolis. the disrespectful little canucks punish the greens with their poo, turning the 14th hole into a slippery mess. i was told some people have dogs simply to keep the geese off their lawn, which stands in stark contrast to LA where we seemingly get dogs just to put people's clothes on them and stuff them in a handbag. hrm.

next, i stepped outside to get a sandwich for lunch and had to do a doubletake as i watched a storm trooper take cash out of the atm and go for a stroll down the street. i mentioned this to someone later and they said that they'd also seen him watering plants with a little girl. ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here, pls move along. just a grown man pretending to be sci-fi warrior amidst all the downtown shops and businesses. i can only imagine what minneapolis is going to look like when the new harry potter book is released...

for the record, we keep these ppl in front of mann's chinese theatre in LA (remember the scene where borat finds his pal dressed as charlie chaplin?) and only let them wander around during movie premieres. if you want to be truly nuts in LA, costumes are not required or really encouraged. though i have to say a stars wars costume would be wayyyyyy better than the old guy in tights that hangs out shirtless on roberston and dances with a baton in front of the local stores. double hrm.

lastly, the sales guy i was out helping took me out to a british pub with a 2nd floor nestled amongst the downtown high-rises which had nothing less than a complete lawn-bowling court setup right next to the pub.

old duffers and young 'uns alike all dressed up in their summer whites throwing the little bowling balls at one another while onlookers work on buffalo wings and beer. league scores up on a big board and everyone enjoying a pleasant late spring evening. pretty cool.

minneapolis, next time i'm coming back with a better attitude and my yoda hookup. dammit, you deserve it :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

current playlist

L.S.F. - Mark Ronson feat. Kasabian - Version
Song for Mutya - Groove Armada - Soundboy Rock
Sealion - Feist - The Reminder
Wanna Be Loved - Pericos & Buju Banton - Red Hot & Latin Redux
Musicology - Prince - Musicology
Ridiculous Wobble - Bassnectar - Underground Communications
Yo - Bassnectar feat. Kristina Maria - Underground Communications
Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC - Back in Black
Red Rabbits - The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Hollywood (Gabin's Organic Remix) - West Indian Girl - Remix E.P.
Valerie - Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse - Version
Time - Easy Dub Allstars - Dub Side of the Moon
Monkey One - Underworld & Gabriel Yared - Breaking & Entering O.S.T.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

hong kong->singapore

onto the last leg of my asian biz trip over here. i left hong kong yesterday afternoon and landed in singapore late last nite. the difference was spelled out almost immediately. my driver in hong kong was an efficient, no-nonsense chinese guy who quietly took me where i needed while i played away on bubble breaker in the backseat. the driver in singapore was a jovial indian fellow who interspersed jokes into commentary on the remarkable changes in singapore since my last visit, which involve even more land reclamation, formula-1 races starting soon and the development of a sands casino on the island. the latter of which was loudly decried i'm told until they discovered how unbelieveably lucrative it was. they're still taking pains to discourage singaporeans from gambling away their mortgages, including an education campaign and the requirement that any singaporean must make a deposit (100 bucks) before they can start gambling at the casino each time they play, presumably to make sure they can still pay for a cab home and meals the next day if they lose their shirt. hrm.

the difference b/w singapore and china (and to a much lesser extent HK), can be illustrated by the fact that in china you never have to wait in line to wash your hands at the bathroom and you're pretty lucky if you can find paper towels or a dryer outside of higher-end places. blecch. in singapore, i ran into a sign today next to a well-stocked paper towel dispenser which outlined a 8 step technique for thoroughly cleansing your hands from all germs that i'm fairly certain is based on an advanced tai chi maneuver.

only real final thoughts on HK is that the place is nice enough but it is overrun by bankers and their kin, making it very money-centric and as such a heckuva lot less interesting than other places. it also means people are always on their damn phones! i witnessed people nearly shouting into their cellphones in the elevator, on the train and at every biz meal i had someone either got up and left the meal for 10 minutes for a call or just took it at the table, blabbing away. ugh!!!! there did seem to be a small design culture there and my stay was short but i wasn't disappointed to leave. i will say that hands down HK has the best public transportation i've ever used. dead easy, super efficient and fast.

the final old college pal and roomie i've seen on this trip is jeffrey lam from my freshman year at the university of michigan on rotvig hall of bursely. jeff's married with 2 kids now but has somehow managed to evade the grasping hands of time as he looks exactly the same as before. here's jeff at dinner tonight:

Saturday, June 02, 2007

beijing -> hong kong

phew! finally taking a big breath after trekking around for a week. i've landed in hong kong after finishing out my short stint in beijing. a couple final thoughts...

- there's a hustler on every street in beijing. it feels like nothing close to communism... it's hypercapitalism. everyone is out for a buck, including this student that ended up doing double duty as tour-guide / salesman. it worked quite well as he was excellent at both and i was looking for an original souvenir :-) this is a shot from the "forbidden city" which was nearby the hyatt i was staying at.

the funky food stories go on as i had dinner at what was described as one of the "most famous" sichuan places in beijing. it consisted of some pretty tasty stuff along with a fish served in a vat of oil (must have been a gallon) along with frogs, pig's feet and congealed pig's blood. i ate the frogs (think 'triplets of belleville') but passed on the other more dubious stuff citing my pseudo-vegatarianism.

here's another shot from the forbidden city. this one is of an older gent doing street calligraphy with a long brush. his elegant scribings were ignored by many who walked by who trampled across the characters. this type of indifference/rudeness was quite common in mainland china, everything from people talking loudly on cellphones in elevators to cramming into subway cars before the people on the train who are trying to get out have time to step out.

beijing was really interesting, but i was happy to leave it behind me as i boarded another air china flt to hong kong saturday afternoon...

as i stepped off the plane, it was easy to recognize what a different place hong kong is than mainland china. it smells different (read: better), looks very high-tech, and people are serially connected with their mobile phones. when going through immigration, one woman didn't get off the phone until the agent was in the process of stamping her passport, she apologized weakly and hustled along. in LAX immigrations you will get chided by the quasi-police for so much as pulling out your mobile phone in the waiting area...

outside of the well-appointed airport, the next thing you notice is the stifling heat. oh lord am i a wimp after living in LA for so long. it's nearly intolerable, something like 90 degrees F + 100% humidity. needless to say i'm chilling out in my hotel room right now after sweating my head off while walking around town this morning. here's a shot from window of the lovely grand hyatt hong kong:

and a shot of the city from the restaurant at the top of the excelsior hotel where old friend alex roberts and i had brunch:

and aleboh: