Friday, July 16, 2004

Martha Stewart Gets 5 Months in Prison

So, let me see if I have this right. Martha uses her position of power and privilege to make more than half a million dollars. Her financial gain is offset by a huge loss for individual investors who don't have connections. So, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. And Martha's punishment is a 30k fine and five MONTHS in prison. My only hope is that the resulting bad press ruins her career. You know, we have mandatory minimum sentences for crimes normally committed by the poor. Why aren't there more severe penalties for the rich? Oh, I forgot. They are the ones making the rules.

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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Be vewwy quiet...I'm hunting houses

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I've spent most of my free night looking at properties. I bet my realtor is getting tired of seeing me. Fortunately for her, she gets a week without me, as I will be back home. The hunt proceeds apace. We have offers in on three different houses. All of them are in Escondido and all are right near our maximum price. *sigh* No bargains to be had here. Real estate works very differently here than it does at home. It seems weird to be offering on three homes at the same time, but our broker told us that it has been such a seller's market that we can't be guaranteed of getting any of them. So, we offer on all and if more than one gets accepted, we have options. If we get one, I'll try to post some pictures. If not, it's back to the drawing board when I return.

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Monday, July 12, 2004

Playing basketball in 90 degree weather is stupid

The title pretty much says it all. Today was 90 degrees. We played ball outside at noon and it was two on two. The reason that last detail is in there is because you can't slack in two on two like you can in three on three or four on four. There is more ground to cover, and if you pack it in, your teammate is hosed. My accomplishments were:

  • I didn't puke
  • I didn't pass out
  • I didn't die
  • I didn't puke
Yes. I know I mentioned puke twice. That's because if I had played much longer, I might have. So, what could be more stupid? Doing it again tomorrow!

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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Under the sea!

I'm a little behind on my posting, but I want to tell you about my 4th of July. I had no houses to look at and nobody to hang with. So, I decided to find something to do. It turns out that July 4th is a really good day to scuba dive. I signed up for a spot on the dive boat and gear on Friday morning. I opted for Los Coronados Islands because they were a scant 20 miles south of the border. There were still twelve slots open as I prepared to embark on my adventure...

The only down side to an Independence Day dive was parking. All the lots were full and the marina exit was backed up for a few miles. It took me 20 minutes to get to the backup and another 40 to go the final 5 miles. I dove with Dive Connections at the West Mission Bay Marina. All told, there were about nine divers, a dive master, and the boat captain. The divers were an interesting assortment. There was the gregarious diving instructor bringing his student for her first certification dive. He was ex-Navy and was in his 50s or 60s. He was in better shape than anyone else on the boat. His student was a 17 year old navy daughter who wants to be in the entertainment industry, parties with Avril Lavigne and Lindsay Lohan in LA, and doesn't like to be cold or wet. There was a tech sales guy from San Fran and a Navy retiree who was a lucky beneficiary of the administration's newly instituted "stop loss" policy. He's been pulled back in and was redeploying to Iraq this week. There was a couple I didn't really get to talk with much and another couple I buddied with. The husband was a strong scuba veteran. The wife was my equal clocking in with six dives. The captain was a straight shooting ex-Navy man in need of a hip replacement. The dive master was the soul of compassion.

I had high hopes for the day. The dive was scheduled for 2 pm. I figured we'd be back in by dinner time. Then I could grab a bite and zip into Sea World to see the fireworks. Then I overheard the captain talking to one of the divers. Said we'd be back by about 9. Huh??? Turns out the boat ride to the dive site is 2 hours. Each way. As some of you may know, I have a proclivity for sea sickness. I even took a dramamine as precaution.

The boat ride started off ok. Well, after we had been given the safety lecture. The safety rules were pretty important. They talked about how to handle a fire on the boat, and what to do if someone went overboard. The thing they stressed the most however was how shaky the plumbing was on the boat. No paper products in the head. Throw them all in the trash. And, most importantly, if you have to hurl, do it over the side and not in the head. If you puke in the head, the aroma will stick around and make everyone sick. Good to know.

The view was great and the weather was perfect. Along the way, we even saw some pacific whiteside dolphins leaping out of the water in group of 3 and 4. The captain decided to zig zag back and forth and in circles so we could get a better look at them. That's when the trouble started. The zig zags started to make me a little green. I decided to try to take a nap for the remainder of the boat ride. The dive master told me that lying down was the worst thing to do. Sent me out on the bow. That worked for a while, but we started hitting waves. I went back in and laid down again. Even though I was told it was the wrong thing to do, it made me feel better. About twenty minutes from the dive site, I was still green around the gills and trying to hang in there. The divemaster told us all to suit up as we would be there soon.

Now, for those who don't know diving, a neoprene wet suit is pretty warm when you are out of the water. And the waters we were in were deemed thick enough for a 7mm wet suit. That's the same thickness I use when I dive Gloucester. So, now I'm nauseous and roasting like a pig at a luau. That'll help. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bypass the dive hood and gloves. Unfortunately, the weights on my belt were not situated properly and it would not close. The captain was nice enough to fix this for me. However, it took a good fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of nauseous, sweaty, black neoprene. By the time I got in the water, I was just barely holding it together. The water helped revive me a bit. I joined my buddies at the rocks and we submerged.

Relief! I even pulled open the suit at my neck and arms briefly to let more cold water in. That's somewhat counter to the way the suit is supposed to work. The idea is that the neoprene traps water near your body. Your body heats the water and then the water and neoprene combine to keep you warm. I was too warm. So, I kept letting the warmed water out and refilling the cold. Everyone thought I was nuts.

It's hard to describe the feeling of breathing underwater. But it is definitely a cool feeling. Everything is more relaxed. You're lighter. You're suspended in "midair" on another planet. In spite of what you read above, at this moment, I felt the day was worth it. We had a good dive. I saw some fish called senoritas, some damsel fish, a good number of garibaldi, and another fish nobody else saw that I have not yet identified. It was deep blue and had timy, iridescent, red diamonds all over it. The rocks and plants were interesting to look at as well. We made it down to about 40 feet. The dive could have gone on longer if not for us novices. We managed to expend 3000 psi of air in the time our more experienced buddy only took in 1200!

It's too bad we couldn't stay down longer. We surfaced and the swell caught hold of me again. I started heating up and bobbing up and down. I decided I had to get out of the suit and fast. I made a beeline for the boat. I managed to get my knees on the ladder going up to the boat and then I had to stop. My breathing had hastened and I was sweating more profusely. The divemaster asked what was wrong.

"I think I'm going to hurl"

"Well, don't do it here." And with that, he took a line and threw it a good thirty feet off the stern. He sent me out there to hang on to the rope until I either puked or felt better. Like I said, he was the sould of compassion.

The nausea subsided and I reeled myself in. I scramble up onto the boat and out of my gear. There was no way I could make the required rest period and go back in. Even though I had another tank coming, I packed it in for the day. Even though puking through a regulator is supposed to be pretty cool, I decided I didn't want THAT particular experience.

Unfortunately, everyone else still had a second dive to make. So, I kept the divemaster and captain company while I waited for the return trip. Then the divemaster got bored and decided to go in. All he had with him was a 3mm shorty. He went anyway. And I thought I was rugged with no hood or gloves. :)

The waiting and the boat ride back were miserable. I forgot to pack a sweatshirt and the bench was a mighty uncomfortable place to lay for two hours. I ended up keeping it together, though things got shaky every time I sat up. I finally got up as we were getting close because the fireworks started. I got to see the La Jolla fireworks and the Mission Bay ones. We docked before the Mission Bay finale and everyone agreed that beating the traffic was more important than the Sea World fireworks or the Mission Bay ones.

All in all, not the day I wanted it to be. But the one dive I had was excellent! I'll likely use this dive company again, though not for Los Coronados. I'll pick a closer site or maybe a shore site. I also picked up one other tip for sea sickness. I was told to take a dramamine the night before the dive, the morning of the dive, and then right before getting on the boat. I'll try that next time. If I rent a camera, I'll post my pics.

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Truth in advertising?

Here's an interesting exercise for you. Check out this development by Pulte homes. It's a great floor plan and the outside does look as nice as the artist's rendition. The location is a little off the beaten path commute-wise. But the price per square foot is actually decent...

On the web page, the price for several floor plans is listed as "from $400,000". I took this to mean that the base plan was this price and the upgrades to flooring, cabinetry, appliance, and so on would increase the price. So, I ended up taking two afternoons to go look at the place. I had to come back a second time because the office closed early for the 4th of July holiday. This was not advertised anywhere but on the door. Then, I return for a second visit. Care to guess what the price of the unit I was interested in, still listed that day as "from "400,000", actually was?

The price tag was $623,778! That's quite a long way "from 400,000". I'm annoyed that I wasted two afternoons for that. I already sent them a version of the above tale to their email address. Anyone have any other thoughts as to what I can legally do to get some satisfaction. (Read: Make them suffer.)

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Seeing movies alone

My good friend James sometimes likes to see movies by himself. We talked about it once before, but I never gave it much more thought because it just wasn't my thing. And after all, I could always find someone who would want to see whatever it was I wanted to see...

Well, those days are gone. At least for now. I don't really know too many people here yet. And while I like the folks I work with, none of them thus far seem like hang out together outside work types. Time will tell. So, no movies for me until I find a movie buddy. Lynnea won't be here until the end of August. And even if she were, she isn't going to have any interest in any of the big movies of the summer, save Farenheit. Spiderman? No. I, Robot? Doubt it. Thunderbirds? Not likely. No point even mentioning Anchorman. (Doh! I mentioned it.) The point is that if I want to see a movie this summer, I'm going to have to do it alone.

So, I did. I went to see Spidey at the local megaplex. After getting over the sticker shock that the matinee was $7.50 (!) I settled in to my stadium style seat for the 20 minutes before the previews. They have something called the Twenty out here. Maybe they have it back east as well, but I didn't see it the last time I was at the movies at the beginning of June. The Twenty is a canned twenty minutes series of advertisements produced, in this case, by NBC. There was product placement, show advertisement, and lord knows what else. I found it intensely dissatisfying to be a captive audience and have nobody to talk to as an alternative.

Once the movie came on, everything was fine. So, perhaps I just need some tips on pre-movie entertainment to get myself through. Perhaps my readers have some suggestions. Prior to the movie, I occupied myself with some people watching. Unfortunately, most of them were sitting and watching the commercials. The ones that weren't were eating and doing some low key socializing. Here I am, stuck watching twenty minutes of commercials, and none of my fellow patrons has the decency to be interesting.

Next time I go to the movies, I'm bringing a book.

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Shorts full of sand

I did think of one thing about living in California that I am still trying to adjust to. My sense of direction is all screwed up. I have certain ingrained ideas about how to distinguish east and west. As such, I have to make an effort not to go the wrong way. For example, in my mind, if you want to get to the ocean, you head east. The wilderness is west. However, if I head east from here in my swim trunks, all I'll get is shorts full of sand. The desert is that way. If I want the beach or any other coastal attraction, I gotta go west. Weird.

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Monday, July 05, 2004

San Diego at First Sight

Ok. I've been here a week now. I suppose it is time to give my first impressions of my new home. It's hard to distill such a big topic down, but I'll try. I suppose the first and most obvious thing to talk about is the weather...

San Diego residents like to say that they have the perfect weather. And I find it hard to disagree with them. Thus far, almost every day has matcjhed the same description. The morning starts out a little cool and cloudy. By mid-morning, the sun has burned the clouds away and the temperature is 75-80 with low to no humidity. In the evening it cools down. It's been beautiful and I don't need to run the AC at night. I just open the windows and maybe run the ceiling fan.

Driving out here is an experience as well. San Diegans are both better and worse drivers than Bostonians. They are generally more courteous. I have yet to need to get over to reach an exit or something similar and fail to do so. I signal and someone lets me in. It takes some getting used to. However, there is also a higher incidence of weaving drivers and passing on the right. I attribute this to the greater number of lanes available. The main freeways are four to six lane affairs and every time I have been on one, some psycho feels the need to drive 90 and change lanes frequently.

I am definitely enjoying the cuisine. It's the best Mexican food I have had in the U.S. The chinese food is also good. Even the food at the company cafeteria is above average. There is a Mongolian Grill near the office that Lynnea has limited me to one visit per week. She knows I would probably go every day if I could. But what is there not to like? Grab a bowl. Select your choice of vegetables and meats from a wide array. Add sauces of your choosing ranging from plain soy to dragon oil. Bring it up and watch it cook. Magnificent! I still have to find a Thai place to try out but have high hopes.

I haven't had much experience with the local people thus far, but everyone I have talked to seems pretty friendly. The folks at work are all nice as are the people at my apartment complex. Nobody has been rude to me yet, so I guess that is a bonus.

I haven't seen many attractions, so I can't report on the zoo, parks, or anything like that. I'll try to review things like that separately as I experience them. What else would you like to know about this place?

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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Slight improvement - but still a work in progress

Okay. I now have the cutesy "Read more" link for long posts. The problem? It show's up in ALL my posts. *sigh* Now I know why James left Blogger. But I'm too cheap to pay for a blogging service, so you get what you pay for. So, for now, when you see the "Read more" link, there may or may not be more. I'll try and put an ellipsis at the end of the summary part if there is more. In the meantime, the blog formatting fight continues. :)

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

For my next trick...

I am going to try to learn a bit about formatting with Blogger. I'd like it if the first paragraph of a post showed. Or maybe a summary. Then you would click the "more" button to read....well...more. Kind of like you see on the classier blogs on the web.

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Things not to call your wife

This is not a recent discovery, per se, but it is a valuable lesson from the past that I was reminded of today. The tale starts back when my daughter Maya, was three years old. I had come home from work and that meant it was play time...

Maya: Let's play animals!
Me: Ok. How do we play?
Maya: You be the daddy goat, I be the baby goat...
Me: And Mommy is the mommy goat?
Maya: No. Mommy's a cow!
Me: Bwa-ha-haaaa!

In retrospect, I should not have laughed, but you have to admit, it was funny. I do feel compelled to point out that Lynnea does not even remotely resemble a cow. Or any other animal for that matter. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Fast forward a few years. I'm older. Wiser. Trying desperately to cling to the tattered remains of my misspent youth. Enter my friend Matt. He was trying to help me with my lingo so I could be more hip. Why did I need this? Who can say. At any rate, he taught me the greeting "What up, dog?" as an endearing greeting one friend might give another. Being the hip, together guy I am, I greeted Lynnea warmly.

Me: What up, dog?
Lynnea: WHAT did you just call me?!?
Me: I was know...
Lynnea: You don't call me DOG!
Me: It's meant in a good way.
Lynnea: I don't want to hear you talk to me like that again.

So, lesson learned, right? Ha! A few months later, Lynnea and the kids were going out of town because I had to log some on call time at work. They didn't want to be tied to the house, so they went on a trip. I decided to round up my friends to hang out, since I was stuck at home. I began compose an e-mail:

Subject: When the cat is away...

At that moment, Lynnea walked in and just happened to peer over my shoulder. "Am I the CAT?" she asked. "Ummmmmmm. No. Not at all."

So, it does not matter what the context is, do not refer to your wife as any particular animal unless it is her idea first.

*DISCLAIMER* Some of Lynnea's reactions may have been slightly exaggerated to make this seem funnier.

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BriWei fires a laser!

Take that, Pat. Riddick my eye. I fired a "laser" today. And not just once either. I fired it 4000 times per second. Sadly, it was not attached to a shark's head. Apparently, even in SoCal, that is too much to ask for. Mind you, the event loses even more luster when you find out that it was an ultraviolet laser, so there was nothing to see. Now, if it had been an ultraVIOLENT laser. That would be different.

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