Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful to Not Be Marc or Jay

This Thanksgiving, I am very happy & thankful to not be Marc Trestman or Jay Cutler.

I am not one of the 3% of brainwashed (irrationally devoted?) fans who think that Jay Cutler should be the "All Iron Thanksgiving MVP" … but then again, I've not suffered as many traumatic brain injuries as others have perhaps.
And I am also Thankful to not be a Minnesota Vikings fan, who are the only ones doing worse than the Bears in the NFC Central.  Of course, a 4-7 record in the Southern Division (aka the Atlanta Falcons) would still have you at the top of your division - pretty sad.  Next Sunday's match between Green Bay & New England will be the 2015 SuperBowl preview, and none of the rest of the games really matter.

As I said earlier this season (and last year, link here), I am no fan of Cutler, and with a 2 year losing record, not a fan of Trestman either.  He should go back to managing hedgefunds - at least that way the losses he manages in the world would not affect so many other people.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

луна пирог (Moon Pie) aka Mogwai

I began DVR-ing PBS's Border Blasters that is like "International MTV" from 1985, with videos from various bands from other countries.   This week, they played a band called луна пирог, aka "Moon Pie" in English.  It was instrumental, and moody…  and I really liked it when it was called Mogwai.
Here's an example of луна пирог, with their song "What a Time to Be Alive"
(link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kgRbEP-01E&list=FLK1qMrZhYuVh205HvhsYrmw)
and if you think I am exaggerating about sounding like Mogwai, here's "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead" (link here)

One is Russian, one is Scottish… one has a Massive English speaking fan base, and the other is virtually unknown in the US…  but they are cooking from the same cookbook, using the same ingredients.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

No, No Egrets


Just before Halloween, I went down to San Onofre State Park, and walked a good 4 miles up and down the beach in the afternoon, and just before sunset.  It's a lovely park, but at $15 per car entry fee, and a 35+ minute drive away, I think I'll stick with my Dana Point beaches.

I pay $50 for a yearly permit, go to the beach 4 or 5 times a week, so it comes out to about 25 cents a visit to park at Salt Creek, and Strand Beach's parking is free (at least so far).  Granted, the wildlife at San Onofre is more diverse, but the beach is harder to access and the incline of the sand from water line to dry berm is much steeper, making a long traverse less symmetrical and more one-sided.  Plus, it takes me less than 20 minutes to get to Salt Creek or Strand, and that's a big selling point as well.


There's no where at San Onofre to really be able to do yoga, and there's no steps to do an aerobic work out either.




Special Holiday Specials


I can't wait for Robot Chicken's new holiday special.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Movie Reviews

On November 8th, I flew from Bangalore to Paris, taking off from Bengaluru airport at 2:45am, after working most of the week  in Bangalore and part of it in Dubai.  I should have been extremely tired, but due to the fact that a Delta Airlines frequent flyer card Does NOT allow you to pick your seat on an Air France (Flying Blue) flight, even though they are both "Skyteam", I was stuck in an aisle seat, 23G on an Air France 777-200.  The aisle seat afforded me frequent bumping by the service cart, crying from the 1 year old sitting one row behind me, and inconsiderate brushes and bumping by any passenger headed to the rest room.  Over the Arabian Sea, I took off the futile sleep mask I'd donned, requested a double cognac, and began watching movies on the little screen embedded in the back of the headrest in row 22G, figuring I'd pass out from exhaustion and get at least a few hours of sleep.  Slumber never arrived.

First, I watched Lucy with Scarlett Johansson (link here).  It was pretty good, but not awesome.  The premise was interesting, the special effects were good, and it's always a pleasure to watch Johansson on-screen.  Morgan Freeman was subdued, while Amr Waked played a fine role.  Pilou Asbæk - who reminds me of Ewan McGregor's older & creepier brother played an intense and abbreviated role at the beginning of the film (enough said).  There were too many meaningless car chases…  too much gratuitious violence that could have been better wrapped up / better executed with less strings left hanging… and the ending was a little bit "silly" for my analytical mind.  But all-in-all, I'd give Lucy a thumb's up and recommend it if you're bored, or stuck, sleepless on a plane.

Next, before reaching Iranian Airspace, I watched Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and the lovely Emily Blunt link here).  I can't recommend this film, and I have no idea why it has 4 out of 5 stars on IMDB.  Tom Cruise played himself.  Emily Blunt plays a jaded, angry, cynical warrior who hacks up aliens… and who comes to understand Tom Cruise's character.  What I did not like most about this
film, was the ridiculousness of the plot where Cruise keeps going back - like Groundhog Day - to have the day reset, and then learning from those mistakes he made that day in the next regeneration, only to then run into yet another road block.  The Groundhog Day theme MIGHT be plausible when they throw in the alien explanation… ok…  I could take a leap of faith on that and suspend disbelief for a while.  But, the stupid combat simulator that keeps mortally injuring Cruise as he learns to fight, is meaningless and non-representative of what he faces on the battle field later.  After he's mortally injured, he is Frequently shot in the head by Blunt, so much so that almost 1/4 of the scenes end with her cocking a .38 and pointing it at Cruise's head.  Wouldn't a sergeant be courtmartialed for summarily executing another wounded soldier in training?  And if the alien "Omega" can see into the future and reset time to an earlier date to learn from its failures, why couldn't it see that Cruise and Blunt were about to kill it when they find it under a (cliché) pyramid, and roll back the clock to before Cruise tries to kill it?  If you're going to present a premise in a science fiction movie, then be consistent and stick with it.  Paradox time loops, flash-backs, hallucinations, military legal code, physics…  these things need to be obeyed.  One thumb's down.

Crossing over Iran, still wide away, I watched Grand Budapest Hotel. (link here)  Dr Desert Flower had rented this on Netflix some time back in September when we were flying to my little brother's wedding in Chicago, and watched it on her iPad.  My beloved 1/2 deaf wife offered to give me one ear phone so I could watch it too, crammed into the middle seat beside her in a SouthWest Airlines coach seat [she always wants the aisle, I detest the aisle, and really just want a window seat that affords a bulkhead upon which I can lean against and sleep (see earlier postings this month here)].  I declined, tucked in my elbows, and read Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance".  Sleepless over pre-dawn Iran, and still disgusted by the Doug Liman hackery I just endured, I watched Wes Anderson's romp through Eastern Europe Vague-a-stan with multi-cameo appearances by many many many actors - The Society of the Crossed Keys, Ha!  It was a somewhat heart warming story, but rather silly, and again, with meaningless chase scenes and needless violence (sleds? shoot outs? beheadings? really…   necessary?) Over-all, it was not unenjoyable, and I did snicker a few times.  Can't say I loved it, but it was not bad.

Crossing from Iran to Turkey, and avoiding Syrian, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Afghani, and Chechnyan airspace, I still was strangely awake - albeit glad to not be shot down by any surface to air missiles.  I saw that Divergent (link here) was on the movie list, so I queued it up, request another double cognac, and settled into 139 minutes of teenage pablum.  Maybe if I was a 12 or 13 year old girl I would have liked it much better, but I didn't care about the characters, the hole-filled-plot, or the "filmed on a tiny budget indoors" cinematography.  I didn't think anyone was "dreamy" or any of the acting believable.  Massive thumbs down.  Ew.  2 hours of my life I will never get back.

When Divergent ended, we were transitioning from Hungary to Austria, and then breakfast was served over Germany.  Air France "Premier Economy" was not 1/2 as nice as I remembered it being in 2012 when I last flew on AIr France, and instead of "bolting on" Premier Economy to the back side of Business Class and treating it like business class, Air France has changed their model, and now treats Premier Economy like it is "slightly bigger coach", with no seat reclining, no business class food, and much-more-absentee service than I recall from 2 years ago.  It was very slightly better than coach in that the arm rest was wider than 2 inches, and there was a tiny metallic foot rest that folded down from the row in front of you… but I would not say it was truly worth a 40% higher air fare than economy  / coach (thigh still less than the 4X multiplier difference from coach to business class).

After we landed in Paris, I got a lobster wrap and a 1/2 bottle of wine, and slept well from Paris to Newfoundland, before waking up to do some email, eat lunch, and get ready to land.  Atlanta to OC, I got a nice window seat (here).

On the way TO Dubai and India, I couldn't sleep so well in the aforementioned uncomfortable Premier Economy Air France seat, so I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (link here) upon Jon Stewart's recommendation.  It was OK.  Not great, not that enjoyable.  Very not believable.  Very hoaky.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it if I was taking a small child or a grand kid to the movies to see it…  I dunno.  I had No Idea that both Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper were in it as a walking tree and a raccoon - a stretch for both pretty boys to pull off successfully.  I still have no idea why SO Many People LOVE Chris Pratt - he's a goof, and he played himself in Guardians.   Sadly predictable that they're going to make a Guardians 2 sequel.  Ugh.

Last weekend, Dr Desert Flower agreed to go see Fury with me (link here).  She told em she wanted to go.  She said she wanted to see it.  I took her.  She hated it.  We were not even home and she was IM-ing people telling them how she hated it.  I should have followed my retired neighbor Bob's advice and gone to see it in the afternoon while she was at work.  Graphically violent, with a very-unbelievable ending (as in "cannot be believed", not "unbelievably awesome!")… I would have enjoyed the film more had I gone to see it by myself (or seen it on a plane, over Iran).  I still think that the older Brad Pitt gets, the more he begins to resemble my younger brother…  or at least, in the make-up for Fury, they made him look like my little brother.  

The next night, we went to see Rosewater (link here) at the same theater - nice leather seats with arm
rests, a wine bar, and table service in the theater if you really want it (they were delivering pizzas and entrées to movie goers who ordered before the credits.  Rosewater was good.  I wanted it to be great.  Parts of it were heart-moving, wrenching, inspiring.  Parts of it were silly, and very Jersey-esque.  Filmed in Jordan while Jon Stewart took a sabbatical from "The Daily Show", it was very believable.  I recommend anyone who geopolitically aware, go to see this movie, regardless of your politics - right, left, green, centrist, it doesn't matter… it has a message for everyone.  And it is amazing that cinema can take a Dane interrogating a Mexican in a Jordanian room, and make you think they're all Iranians in an Iranian prison.  The Iranian women in the film were actually Iranian actresses, refreshingly.  And DDF liked it much more than Fury, of course.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ALEC - Associate Producer of Creating Horrifying Things

If you are unfamiliar with the pervasive, universal, insidious evil that ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) does, just watch the HBO John Oliver "Last Week Tonight" episode from last week.


I had thought that I'd mentioned the corrosive molecular acid that ALEC uses for their life blood, here on JustJoeP in the past, but a google search and a blog search turned up nothing.  So I'm laying down a place marker here.

Embed video here:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Clean Windows Make A Difference

I figured out last night that my home's windows Lift Up and Out to be cleaned.  They're nice windows - the former owners installed them 5 or so years before they sold us the house - and they get dirty after it rains.  It rained on Thursday night, and yep, my windows got water-spotted and dirty.  So I lifted out my windows,
cleaned them, and put them back in, so that I could take pictures of the vociferous Rufous who believes he owns my poolside plumeria like this:
Clean windows make clear picture taking much more easy to do.  And this particular Rufous is pretty spectacular in how distinct his colors appear, depending upon which angle from which he is viewed.  This constant variation keeps me quite interested.

There's More Important Things On Which To Focus

I recently got a postcard from COSTCO that warned me that the 30 pack of Mars candy for Halloween I had purchased back in September MIGHT have had the wrong number or wrongly labelled types of candy inside.  And honestly, it took me aback.
First, who gives a damn?
Secondly, it's just candy.  Who found it so abhorrent & unacceptable that they had to complain to COSTCO to the point that they needed to send out postcards to members to "warn" them?
We bought the 30 pack of full sized candy bars.  We had only 6 (six) trick or treaters, and honestly, we were very disappointed to have only 6.  We asked the trick or treating children if they preferred Snickers or M&Ms, and gave them the large, full sized candy bar they asked for.  Dr Desert Flower took the rest of the left over 24 candy bars to her work, where her colleagues and direct reports kept asking if the candy was 'for some fund raiser?'

If the candy we bought from COSTCO had been contaminated with E-Coli as organic spinach that Southern California COSTCOs had in the past, ok, warn me.  If the candy had some serious defect, yes, I want to know.  But there might have been an "incorrect number" or a "slightly different mix"?  Who cares??  And what indignant COSTCO member thought it necessary to complain enough that COSTCO legal thought they Needed to send out warning post cards to cover their asses?

No apology necessary.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Never About The Copper Sink

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has AMAZING writers, and last Sunday's episode included a Nick Offerman Home Depot Commercial that is incredibly hilarious.  You can watch it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boI4D1FlIVs&list=PLmKbqjSZR8TZa7wyVoVq2XMHxxWREyiFc
or...  if it embeds...  below here:


After watching this, Dr Desert Flower and I actually did go shopping at Home Depot for a narrow rake so I could gather the fallen plumeria leaves beside our pool...   and we made it out of the store without getting into an argument.

League of SI Superheroes

The League of SI Superheroes premiered last month at the NIST, and I meant to blog about it here
earlier, but got bogged down in other matters.  Matters? Yes...   the League can measure matter:
- Monsieur Kilogram
- Meter Man
- The Mole
- Professor Second
- Ms. Ampere
- Dr. Kelvin
- Candela (Don’t let her small size fool you. Candela’s power over light helps to brighten the whole world.)
They had their debut episode Desperate Measures in which you can watch at the NIST site here: http://www.nist.gov/pml/metric-100614.cfm  

Anything that gets kids more interested in science, facts and problem solving, instead of sports, religion, and video games, is awesome in my perspective.  (sure, sports, religion, and video games may be fine in small portions...  but too many people place Far Too Much time and energy into them, instead of figuring out how to make the world a better place.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Of The Saddest Sunsets

As frequent visitors to JustJoeP in the past would know, one of my friends and frequent commenters was Jason Corneveaux (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Jason's photography was stunning.  His scientific work was ground breaking.  His insights were forward thinking & technology embracing.  But Dr Desert Flower and I learned today of his untimely death, and the world is a sadder place because of it.  Our hearts go out to his wife and infant son who is now father-less.

Our home is full of Corneveaux photography, adorning our walls, which Dr Desert Flower purchased from her former lab mate & former colleague.  Jason was the first person to teach me how to use Google Maps to chart off-road hikes with way-points.  And he was one of the most interesting persons I've known.  We mourn his unexpected and untimely passing.

Whoop Whoop! New Pressure Regulator

As an engineer, I've designed, installed, and changed out pneumatic pressure regulators, hydraulic pressure regulators, and variable digital regulators, as well as check valves, flow dividers, flow regulators, gate valves, needle valves, ball valves, sweated fittings, threaded fittings, and welded fittings.  I had never before changed out a residential home's main pressure regulator.

A residential home is supposed to run from 30 to 70 psi for incoming water pressure.  Over 70 psi there could be more leaks, possible ruptures, and other problems inside of a home.  About a month ago, our house began going "Whoooop!" every time the water was turned off.  Flush a toilet, and after the tank filled, "Whoooop!".  Turn off the sink, "Whooop".  Everytime the dish washer or washing machine filled, "Whoooop!".  So when we got our kitchen sink replaced recently with a nice Hansgrohe I asked the plumber to check the incoming pressure.  It was 90 psi, creeping up to 100 psi.

I needed a 70XL pressure regulator, which Home Depot had for $70.  It fit beautifully into place as a retro fit for the existing failing regulator.  All I needed was a pair of ginormous (larger than 1.5 inches) channel locks, and 20 minutes.  You can do it too.  Read the label on the failing regulator, and get yourself a replacement in-kind.  Don't re-use the old seals, and buy an unmolested package that has not been opened-and-returned, so it has all the required replacement hardware.

John Hancock Weather Alterations

The John Hancock building makes its own weather.  Dr Desert Flower and I stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Chicago River back in September for my little brother's wedding.  Our room had a spectacular eastern facing view of the John Hancock building and other lake-front-adjacent sky scrapers.  We noticed that as he sun was setting on a Thursday night, that the John Hancock building created its own weather as the dew point dropped and cool moisture laden air coursed over the HVAC units on the top of the building.  There'd be very little clouds (or very thin clouds) until they reached the Hancock, and then they'd grow large enough and thick enough to obscure the top of the building.

Really weird.

If Your Patio Umbrella Breaks...

If the string that lifts your patio umbrella breaks, sure you can spend $100 or $200 or even $300 to get a new umbrella.  But if you've bought a good one (as we did out 4th year in Phoenix, after the brutal Sonoran sun disintegrated our old South Carolina umbrella), and the material is still good, then it is easy to fix.

1 - conduit clamp, $1.50, Home Depot
1 - thumb screw, Ace Hardware, $3.50
1- wing nut, Ace Hardware, 15 cents

For $5.15 I saved our umbrella.  Sure, it doesn't have a "handy crank mechanism" to open and close it, and it requires 5 or 6 lbs of upwardly thrust force to push it up, but it works just fine.  I recycled the existing white plastic sleeve bushing that used to be inside the crank driven lower housing that used to raise and lower the umbrella before the internal string broke, and it makes for a nice friction surface.

Just gotta watch out for the spiders (or bats, as in my friend Ryan's case back in Snellville GA) that may have made the collapsed umbrella their home before opening... but that is the case regardless of if there's a working crank to open it or not.

Just Let Me Get Some Gas

When I pull into a gas station, I want to get some gasoline, unmolested.  I don't want ANY push marketing blasted at me in audio or video at the pump.  I don't need any complicated & inefficient vapor capturing device that is so sensitive that it shuts off the pump automatically before my tank is filled.  I don't want beggars coming up to me and indignantly demanding change or "just a dollar" as they do at the PCH Chevron in Dana  Point near Gelson's market.
I don't go to Shell stations ANYMORE, as every Shell station I've visited in OC (three of them) have blasting, unwanted video marketing blaring from the pump on a tiny video screen.  The Exxon-Mobile stations have a blaring loud speaker over the pumps pushing ads.  The Costco gas station is of dubious quality, and there's always long lines (I know, OC problems).  Atlantic Richfield (in San Clemente) charges an extra dollar and a 1/2 at the end if you pay by credit card (insert rolling eye emoticon here).  And there's really not many Unocal stations.  So it is Chevron on La Paz, or on Crown Valley Parkway (CVP) for me.

But even my homey, local Chevron station has started replacing its pumps, one-by-one, converting them from efficient, working "CV" pumps to "O-C" pumps with a a spiral logo.  The "O-C" pumps are  overly sensitive and annoying as hell.

Just let me get some gas, please.  Until Dr Desert Flower buys the hybrid she wants, and then I'll be buying much less gas.

(by the way...   if you make your wife get her own gas, instead of refilling her car for her every chance you get, your father didn't raise you right, and you're setting a bad example for your sons. Yes, women CAN get their own gas, but they should never have to, if their husbands or significant others are doing their jobs proactively and looking out for them.  I've gotten one manicure in my life [and I will not get another], change my own oil, handle chlorine tablets bare-handed and do my own yard work.  Getting a little bit of gas on my hands from time to time is not a big deal.  The same cannot be said for the more delicate, feminine hand of an educated woman with a capable husband)

Morning Yoga Studio

This is my morning yoga studio, over-looking Dana Point harbor.
It was an over-cast morning, in the mid 60s, but my yoga instructor worked us so hard I had to shed my sweats and finish the class in shorts (and bare feet, of course).  This is by far, head and shoulders above doing yoga in any hotel room, be it in Atlanta, Chicago, Bangalore, Belfort France, Schenectady, or anywhere else.  Hummingbirds and crows were heard nearby.  Pelicans, terns, cormorants, and sea gulls flew past.  Fishermen made their living in their boats off-shore.  And my abs & core are a little sore...  as my yoga instructor pushes us harder than I typically push myself when I practice alone at Sea Terrace Park in the afternoons.

Where do you practice yoga?

Circulation Makes a Difference

Years ago, I used to be a frequent flyer from an enormous amount of business travel.  I was platinum on Northwest and Delta (when they were separate companies), gold on US Air, and gold on United.  Back  in the late 90s and early 2000s most of the planes had individual lights and vents for each passenger, and I appreciated being able to adjust the air flow from my vent to help regulate the temperature in the general area of my seat.

You see, I've always been a warm blooded creature.  My older brother was often known as "Sweaty Eddie".  In humid climates, I sweated a great deal, and after hurrying through airports, dragging heavy luggage behind me to make my connecting flight in time, I'd plop down into my seat and turn on the air vent FULL BLAST.  On a trans-Atlantic United flight I even had a passenger behind me complain to the flight attendants that there was "too much air" blowing down upon her as my seat was reclined somewhere over Iceland.  Korean Air back in 1999 and 2000 often had no vents, and the passenger cabin was unbearable hot.  I actively avoided flying Korean Air.

Last Saturday, as I was flying back from Bangalore on Air France in 777-200 equipment, there were no individual vents.  Air France kept the cabin unpleasantly warm, and I was very hot and uncomfortable from Bangalore to Paris, and then from Paris to Atlanta.  But then, in Atlanta, I got on a 757 with traditional American air vents, one for each passenger.  I was able to flood my seat with cool air, lean against a cool bulkhead, and not stay so bloody hot.


Circulation makes a significant difference in passenger comfort, temperature regulation, and in determining the pleasantness of a voyage.  Give me a window seat, and a personal air vent, and I am a happy passenger.

Croix de Marsan is Back

Costco is once again carrying Croix de Marsan.

Thanks to Russel Adams for alerting us to this last weekend.  I found a big pallet of it at the Laguna Niguel Costco off of Pacific Park.  Still $30 a 1/2 case.

Opened a bottle of it last night...  and it had notes of radish... yeah, actual radish scent...  which is kind of strange, but not entirely unpleasant.