Friday, October 31, 2003

Another fun Halloween, hiding in the dark so the trick-or-treaters don't come to the house and find out I ate all the Halloween candy weeks ago. Today was my first day back to school. Not too much to make up for the lost time. The air is vastly improved, but after hiking out to class and back to my car, you realize the air is still a little unpleasant. I'm going to try to run tomorrow morning, nonetheless. Gotta get back in training for January's half-marathon.
Tammy Faye will be at Current Affairs Bookstore in North Park tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:00. Should be an exciting time, I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Fox nearly sued itself over 'Simpsons' parody: Matt Groening
A ghost story with a hidden agenda: Room for One More.
I was saddened to learn of the death of Muir College provost Patrick Ledden. He was always accessible for students, and was a real asset to the campus community. I remember having lunch with him and other student who had completed his summer reading assignment, a book on deaf culture, as a fond memory of my first year at this college, many, many years ago. I'm saddened that I will not be taking his senior seminar on Joyce.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Triumph Sniffs a Hit. I meant to link to this excellent article on Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's new album, but forgot until now, and can't find it on their web site anymore. I think the link will take you to the google cache of the article.
Sky is clearer today; the air quality is still horrible, but not as instantly noticable as it had been. Another "snow day," no school.

I went to L.A. last night to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies. It was odd going to Los Angeles for fresh air, but it was nice to be able to breathe freely for awhile. They of course have their own problems at the moment, but the air quality didn't seem to be the issue it is down here. The show was at Royce Hall, which is a neat building, a nice place to see a concert. I had a pretty good seat near the center in the balcony. The first half featured the two acts doing solo sets. The Kronos Quartet were good, the Tiger Lillies were great. After intermission, the two groups took the stage together to perfrom The Gorey End. Based on works by Edward Gorey, I was expecting more of a visual aspect to the performance, drawings by Gorey projected onto a screen or something. I didn't get that (it turns out the writings Gorey had given to Martyn Jacques were not illustrated) , but was not at all disappointed by the evening. Even without many visuals, the story of the various tragedies to befall the Hipdeep family were still made vivid. And the spirit of Gorey was clear in every song. "ABC" followed a similar structure to "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," as did "Histoire de Kay." "Dreadful Domesticity" was perhaps the most bluntly dark song of the evening, as a married couple of a dozen years realizes "They have exhausted all the other/Revenges for existing wrongs," and proceeds to beat each other into a single pile of pulp. I think "Weeping Chandelier" and "Trampled Lilly" were my personal favorites, both especially well-suited by Jacques' distinctive voice. Overall, a great show; I'd highly recommend the album.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Rod Roddy, dead at 66. I find this male breast cancer thing disturbing.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I feel awful; pounding headache, sore throat. The good news is the weather gave us a break, the winds aren't as bad as predicted.
This is the closest to a snow day we get in San Diego. UCSD, like every other school in San Diego, is closed today, as are most businesses. The sky is awful, I went to CostCo to get water, and my throat is burning still. Lots of people with masks on. I had planned to try to run on a treadmill, but I feel awful, and the Kroc Center where I work out has been turned into a evacuation center. Cars covered in ash. From the news coverage, it seems that the fire is worst in the Alpine area. Haven't heard much about the fire in the Mission Gorge and Mission Trails area, which would have the most direct impact on me, so I imagine they haven't advanced much. Winds are supposed to pick up at 2:00.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

It just occured to me my storage facility is VERY close to the flames in Mission Gorge. I think the fires are heading in another direction, but it would be a bit of a bummer to lose all those posessions. Compared to people losing everything, it barely deserves mention, but still...
Watching this fire today has been quite something. The comparison being made is the Laguna fire of 1970, before my time, but it seems to me this may be the worse, which would make it the worst fire in San Diego's modern history. Mission Trails Regional Park, a favorite place of mine, is burning; their brand new, multi-million-dollar visitor's center, it seems from what I've heard on the news, is doomed. They are evacuating houses up to the intersection of Jackson and Navajo, which goes to show you that no house is safe. The ash and smoke in La Jolla was intolerable for much of the day; there was a great deal of ill will generated amongst the employees that we failed to close, and I imagine much will be said in the coming days. At first I thought it would have been overkill, but once Mirimar was on fire, we should've been out of there.

School's have been cancelled in San Diego, and the Mayor is calling on all non-essential employees to stay home, so I assume UCSD will be closed. So I guess tomorrow I can stay planted in front of the TV all day. The weather isn't supposed to give us a break, and after its jumped the I-15 and the 52, who's to say how much this could spread. If an ember were to set off something in Rose Canyon, say, this could get really ugly.

The fire has jumped the I-15. Seven dead, homes lost. The 15, 52, and 163 are closed. Sea World and the Wild Animal Park are closed. We are open. And I don't see why not, even if I'd rather not be here. No imminent threat, and visitors are actually coming. The chunks of ash that are falling are getting bigger, and one burned me when I was shaking out a tarp that was covered in ash. Singed leaves are also falling. Air quality is getting worse. If a spark were to ignite Rose Canyon, we could be in for some rough times here, but for now its more a curiosity than anything. Except for our employees whose neighborhoods are threatened, of course.
One plus of the fires; the smoke allows one to look at the sun, and observe the solar storms that have been in the news. I should mention I'm sure the smoke cover does not protect one from long-term damage from staring at the sun, and I accept no liability if you blind yourself watching the storms, but it is interesting to get a quick glance at it.
I got up this morning around 6:30, so Tanner could go outside. I was surprised that it seemed rather dark, considering the time change; I went to bed assuming the light would wake me up early. When I went into the back yard, it looked like the world was ending; in case you're not from these parts, most of Southern California is on fire. I assumed it was the Camp Pendelton fire, which was surprising that it would send this much smoke that far (I'm probably about 35 miles from that fire), but it turns out that quite a few more have flared up overnight, including Julian, which was where most of the smoke came from. By the time I left for work, winds had blown most of it west, so it was clearing up in La Mesa, but by the time I hit Mission Valley, cars had their headlights on, and it was darker than it was in La Mesa at 6:30. Not night-time dark or anything, but still impressive. La Jolla is fairly clear, but the air quality is abysmal, and the way the Santa Ana winds are blowing, its only a matter of time before the smoke heads our way.

Which stinks, for the people who have lost their homes, of course, but in a more petty (at yet for me more important) way, for me. I've been sick for awhile now. Thursday and Friday were the worst, but I've been sick enough that I haven't been running since the Thursday before last. I can't recall if I mentioned my unpleasant run around Lake Murray and the gastrointestinal distress that accompanied it, but lets just say it wasn't fun. I missed the Chancellor's Challenge 5K, which I've been looking forward to for some time, and which may in fact be the final event in the series, due to the Chancellor's departure. And I feel myself growing sluggish and gaining weight, when I should be beginning serious training for the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. So today, having felt better yesterday, I was to return to running, but the heat and smoke have cancelled that plan. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse heat-wise, which means it will probably still be bad smoke-wise. Perhaps I'll head to the Kroc Center for some treadmill running.

A volunteer just informed me they are evacuating Mira Mesa due to the Ramona fire. I-15 closed, bumper-to-bumper traffic. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; the wind blowing the smoke should be doing the same for the flames. The Alpine fire two years ago was pretty bad, but I don't remember anything this wide-spread and with such a horrendous effect on the air quality. I also don't remember, in previous fires that have destroyed houses, hearing talk about hundreds of homes lost, as were in the L.A. County fires. And as I was typing this, I hear even more news of the Ramona fire, which I guess I should now call the Scripps Ranch fire, growing even more, and half our fire department is helping in Los Angeles. It's pretty bad.

But I digress. Haven't posted much lately, because not much to share. Been sick, missed a fair amount of school; not my best academic quarter, I think I've admitted as much here before. But I think I'll do respectably well. Saw Comedy of Errors at the La Jolla Playhouse, would have enjoyed it very much, I think, had I been feeling better. My birthday is Tuesday; looking forward to seeing the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lilies in Los Angeles that day. I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XI for the PC, as a birthday present for my mother to give me, but then cancelled it, because I'm afraid it might not run on my PC. So I've just been playing Final Fantasy X instead. Not the best in the series, but I enjoy it. Will purchase Final Fantasy X-2, I'm sure, though maybe I'll play through the early games in the series while I wait for the price to fall. Of course, with the amount of time I waste already, should I really be playing video games? I've put off buying the Simpsons Hit-and-Run until the quarter's over, both to avoid the distraction and in the hope that the price might come down by then (though I doubt it will before the holidays).

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Way to go, Wal-Mart. They face a potential $3,000,000 fine, probably a drop in the bucket for them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Fred Berry, dead at 52. Did they really need to compare him to Urkel in his obituary?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

History's notable television programs reconsidered.
I'm sick. I've been sick for about a week, I think, but it really hit me yesterday. Today I feel better, but I'm still a little queazy. Last Thursday was the last time I've been running, about twenty minutes into it I had to stop due to nausea, and as I began the long walk back around Lake Murray, I started feeling more unpleasant gastro-intestinal distress. A rather unpleasant run, which makes it hard to motivate me to get back on the road when I'm still feeling unpleasant. I guess I'll see how I feel this afternoon and decide if I will run after work. I was hoping to set a new PR in the 5K on Friday, but now I don't know if that is feasible.

Also, my right arm hurts badly. Today not as bad, but yesterday I could barely lift it without a sharp pain in what I think is my tricep. I can feel a sort of knot, which I can't locate on the other side, which is a sure sign it ain't supposed to be there. I don't know what I did; I lifted a box not too long before it started hurting, but it wasn't that heavy. So basically, I'm just falling apart.

As long as I'm posting, I should just comment on a few random things I haven't bothered to post yet. Saw Intolerable Cruelty; not the Coen's best, probably because they didn't write it, but I enjoyed it very much all the same. Great moments, but just lacking a bit in cohesion, so as to not be as strong as the sum of its parts. School ain't going too hot; I've focused all my energies (such as they are) into the one class I care about, and just let the rest fall apart. It's a bit frustrating, since I'm on the one had eager to finally wrap this long educational saga up, yet I barely seem to be advancing at all, and then there's the whole Latin situation, which I won't go into. Cecily's getting married, which is surprising to say the least. The guy looks a bit gumpy from what I've seen on the website, and by my math, I figure they couldn't have been dating more than six months, but who am I to judge? She seems suited for live in Merced. Dad's birthday was 10/8, the Wednesday before last. I went to the cemetary on a whim and hung out at his grave about thirty minutes, and yet didn't realize until far later in the day that it was his birthday, felt a bit unobservant, seeing as the date was written right on the marker and all. 10/11 was the anniversary of him first getting sick, out in Boston. 10/28 is my birthday, I'm going to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies in a performance based on some unpublished work by Edward Gorey. Also on my birthday, Final Fantasy XI comes out for the PC. The Playstation version won't be out until about February, because that's when the required hardware to make it compatible for the Playstation comes out. I broke down and pre-ordered the PC version, my mom is making it a birthday present for me. I hate the idea of paying $50 (actually, $40 with a rebate) for a game that requires a subscription fee, but considering I purchased a Playstation and later a Playstation 2 solely to play Final Fantasy, why pass up a shot to try the first massively multi-player version? I'm eager to go to Vegas again, even though I'd have to say I only had a mildly good time last trip, and I'm not sure how I can really get away in November, but I think if I leave on a Wednesday after class, I could stay for the weekend and just miss class on Friday. I haven't decided if its really a good idea or not, though. Free room offer from Green Valley Ranch, my favorite Las Vegas (actually, Henderson) hotel, with a $50 dining credit, which should go a long way in their new Sushi restaurant, if I'm dining alone. Stay their Wednesday/Thursday, then move to the strip or downtown for the weekend. Go alone, or see if Chad can skip out on work. I believe he's going Thanksgiving weekend, but I'd feel bad leaving Mom that weekend. Mom's wrist still bothering her, rather ridiculous she hasn't been to a doctor about it.

Biblical plagues snowdomes. At a mere $10 with shipping, I'm really wondering if I need one.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Friday, October 17, 2003

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I've been negligent in posting, because I've had a lot to say, but not the time nor the energy to type it up. Perhaps this weekend I'll comment on a few of the more choice events, but I imagine I'll let most of it slip by unmentioned. A quick summary: I'm depressed, feeling lethargic, school sucks, Cecily's getting married.
The Friar's Club roasted the Smothers Brothers this year. I would have liked to see it, but I can understand why perhaps the Friar's Club would rather not have it broadcast (I'm surprised to read it was Comedy Central that pulled the plug).

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I think I need this. I can't find a price, though, and if they won't tell you, that tells you something.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Software company no longer threatening to sue over shift-key vulnerability. Quite magnanimous of them not to hold the kid responsible for the worthlessness of their software.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

An interview with the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I enjoyed the discussion of the Mooninites' origins.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I was listening to KSON and drinking, to take my mind off recent events. I don't listen to local radio very often, seeing as San Diego has born the brunt of Clear Channel even more than other cities, thanks to loopholes regarding Mexican-based radio stations. But it seems like every time I listen to KSON (not Clear Channel, incidentally), I hear this one song, Buddy Jewel's "Help Pour Out the Rain." As I've heard it so often, I have to assume its popular. If you want to elect Arnold, that's fine. But how can you listen to this tripe? If I ever hear my child say, "When I get to heaven/can I taste the milky way?" I will not pull over my car to cry because I am touched by my child's innocent wisdom, I will pull over to cry because my child is retarded.

Aw, who cares. Governor Schwarzenegger? What the hell?

At least Proposition 54 was apparently soundly defeated.
Good God. I can't say I'll cry too many tears for Davis, but really, it's not fair, even for Davis. It could be a good thing for the Democrats; encourage the Democrats to think about something besides fundraising, and confince the Republicans to waste time trying to win with Bush in 2004. And we all see how Jesse Ventura drove the Reform party to new hights. Good luck, need it.
Reasons you're no longer fit to be an architect.
Went and voted this morning. No on recall, No on both propositions, yes for Bustamante. Voting for Bustamante made me feel dirty, but I figured I had to. Sorry, Larry Flynt.

Monday was an odd day. I just felt very out of sorts and disoriented, like I was in some sort of haze. In one class, I managed to knock over my coffee cup three times, and also get caught on my desk, creating quite a bit of disruption. Then in another class, I was asked my opinion of something we'd just read, and found I couldn't remember a word of it. I ended up going to bed early, and getting a good night's sleep, and feel better now. So maybe it was just sleep deprivation.

Have I mentioned that I've enjoyed watching The Joe Schmo Show? God help me...

Sunday, October 05, 2003

This sentence is false.
A story of hope in a Clear Channel world.
I've had a pretty okay weekend thus far. Friday night, after another ho-hum day of school, I was moping around the house, listening to the radio, when I remembered that the red tide was still in bloom, so I decided to go to the beach and see the bioluminescence. It seems to have faded a bit since I last saw it about three weeks ago, but it was still around, and when the larger waves broke, it was still an impressive sight. As the water was cold, and there was no one with me to egg me on, I elected not to pee into the ocean, although I knew from past experience this really makes the algea come alive. Either that, or my urine is itself bioluminescent.

Saturday, I intended to study, but instead ended up playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City all day. It is a guilty pleasure, to be sure; destroying SUVs (well, its set in the '80s, so I guess they aren't really SUVs) and whatnot. I gathered quite an arsenel, beating up cops and taking their weapons right outside my apartment. All you have to do is duck into your apartment and change clothes, and then the cops won't recognize you. So, you see, not only is it fun, but it teaches kids a valuable lesson.

Later in the evening, I went to Madstone Theatres to see Ping-Pong, part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Though it was somewhat difficult to take seriously at times, due to a lack of respect for a game I am usually drunk when I play, the film was able to overcome this (without trying), due to its tenderly humorous story. In fact, not only...I'm trying to phrase it differently, because saying the film "overcame" my preconceptions of ping-pong is a bit patronizingly ethnocentric...but not only was I able to get beyond my narrow notions of the game, but I found it one of the best sports movies I've ever seen. Certainly blew Seabiscuit out of the water. I believe it is available on a region-less DVD; I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

A article suggesting (persuasively, I thought) that Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff is the source of the leak.
John Dean comparing the current scandal to Watergate. (registration required)
Randy Newman interview in the Independent.
I was listening to an audio commentary on The Simpsons Season Three DVD, and they were discussing the tendency for kids to beat cartoon-character-costumed actors. It reminded me of my halcyon days of Aquarius Roll-arena, which featured a Panda character as a mascot. I took great pleasure in skating up behind her and bashing her on the head, and quickly skating away. It was especially fun since I was getting away with something, and there was nothing she could do about it. Then one day, as I was leaving the rink, I was grabbed by the panda and dragged into a closet, where a menacing panda informed me that if I ever laid a hand on her again, she would tear me apart. I never did explain to my mom why I didn't want to spend my afternoons at the roller rink any more. Fun, tramatic times.
At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, there are two observations on the minor nuisances of everyday life I would like to present to you.

Point One: I was at the post office the other day, and passing by the pawn shop next door, and there was a sign in the pawn shop firmly requesting that you turn off your cell phone. Cell phones, I grant, are highly annoying; one should definately turn them off in a movie theater or during any presentation, and when dining in a fine restaurant, or in a library, or anytime common sence dictates. But whenever I find myself complaining about cell phones, I do not find myself lamenting how the rise of cell phone has stripped pawn shops of their charm. Are we to whistfully reminisce about a time, long ago, when one could step into their friendly neighborhood pawn shop with a VCR and get $20 to buy smack, and not have this very special moment, one of life's few remaining simple pleasures, spoiled by the piercing ring of a cell phone? I am considerate in my use of my cell phone, but come on, people, do we really need all these rules? Half the people at the pawn shop are probably raising money to pay their cell phone bill, be grateful they exist, pawn shop owner.

Point two: Why are the slowest drivers also the most unsafe? I find myself, more and more, stuck behind people driving less than twenty MPH on city streets, and sometimes I feel guilty getting impatient, since I was speeding before they came along, and so aren't I the menace on the road? Yet I've noticed that it is these slow, apparently concientious drivers who do the truly stupid things. They may be driving slow on the open stretches, but they also go through the intersections at the same speed, stop signs be damned. Today some asshole going about fifteen MPH right in front of me, missed a red light (meaning, of course, that I did too), and preceded to run it, cutting off the person who had the green. I think more people need to get tickets for going too slowly, maybe then a paper trail will emerge to strip a few of the elderly of their licences. I should be fair, it's not just the elderly; the guy who ran the light looked to be about thirty. I used to enjoy driving, but good God it's gotten stressful lately.

I'm watching CMT (which is no longer carrying the Grand Ole Opry--what the fuck?!), and just saw the new June Carter Cash video. Am I a horrible person if I observe she should have stuck to singing backups?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I tried a new sushi restaurant tonight, the Sui Shin Teahouse. It's been open about a year, but its new enough to me. Reasonably priced, and quite good. They were out of salmon, which was too bad, as I'd had my heart set on a salmon skin roll. The chef recommended the albacore, and sure enough, it was about the best sushi I've ever had. The unagi (always my favorite) was good, though not exceptional. I also had the mackerel on the chef's recommendation; I'm not usually a fan, but it was just as fresh as the chef promised. As the name promised, they also served a wide variety of teas; I tried the Moroccan Mint green tea, which was excellent. A pot of tea and a decent variety of sushi set me back $25 with tax and tip. A bit extravagant, but except for once when I was visiting Michelle, I hadn't had sushi in some time. In any event, if you find yourself in Hillcrest, give them a try. Great fish, nice low-key ambiance, and great service.

Before dinner, I went running with the group I was training with for last weekend's 10K. I didn't think many of us would still be running with the group now that the race was over, but there were at least ten of us. I've always said I view training as a solitary pursuit, but I must admit one or two group runs a week really helps break up the monotomy and keep you motivated. I've agreed to run with a few of them in the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. My original goal, you might remember, was the Silver Strand Half-Marathon in November. I cancelled that due to my knee problems, which now have gone away completely. I considered calling it back on, but I think the January goal, with the training support of my friends from the group, is probably for the best.

School is off to a good start. Oceanography can be a bit dull, but as science goes, is pretty gripping stuff. Revolutionary-era American Literature is also a tad dull, but doesn't seem particularly challenging. Nature Writing is the only class that really interests me.

Did I ever mention I saw Lost in Translation the other day? I enjoyed it. Bill Murray is a genius.