Wednesday, June 29, 2005

California West Nile Season Begins 

Considering how much rain California got this year, there are likely to be (literally) tons of mosquitoes. That can only help make this season a nasty one in terms of West Nile virus. Today, the state got its first human case of the year.

(06-29) 18:05 PDT SACRAMENTO, (AP) --

A 47-year-old Tulare County man is the first human case of West Nile virus infection in California this year, the state Department of Health Services announced Wednesday.

The man sought medical care for fever and headache earlier this month and is recovering, the agency said.



Mental note: Add the following to my to-do-list:

1.) Buy deet.

2.) Get Industrial Strength Bug Zapper.

Our House... 

...In the Middle of Our Street!

That was Madness, as in the 80's band. This story is madness, as in the homeowners can't be enjoying the new view out their kitchen window:


VISALIA — Elizabeth and Jon Harrell can't wait to move into their new home, but they faced one obstacle Monday morning most home buyers don't encounter — their home temporarily stuck in the middle of the street.

Home movers were trying to move the Harrells' home from an area west of Farmersville to its new location near Exeter when a construction project the movers didn't know about on the proposed route caused a last-minute problem.



Fortunately, there was a happy ending for the wayward house.


The sight of the home blocking part of Walnut caused passing motorists to stop and stare as they were directed by moving company workers around the stranded home. After a couple of hours, movers were able to get the structure moving again.


To those of you moving, try not to stress over it too much. It could be worse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ahh, Work 

I've obviously been quiet the last few days, basically using the start of my new position to go silent. Work has gone well. I still don't quite know what to think of the position. The best pay I've ever had in my life, amazing benifits, and I'm still not entirely clear on exactly what I'll be doing. I was hired pretty quick, and the negative part of me worries that I've been hired for something I have no qualification to do. Don't cry for me too much; the positive side of me treats this job like a twenty dollar bill found on the sidewalk. It doesn't really matter why hthis oppertunity fell into my lap, but it will take the Jaws of Life to pry this away from me now.

The past two days have been filled with orientation, and Wednesday will be the final day. Naturally, this involved sitting through many training sessions, trying in vain to absorb it all. The people on the site seem to be quite friendly, and I've enven bumped into a old coworker/friend who I haven't seen (except once) in four years.

I've been given a pretty through tour of the campus (ironically excluding the building I will work in), and I still havent gotten used to the place yet. For those of you reasonably familiar with Bay Area geography, the campus is located in Berkeley near the I-80 Freeway. On one side there is the view of the Berkeley Hills and the UC-Berkeley campus, on the other side is the view of San Francisco bay, San Francisco itself, and the Golden Gate Bridge. I find it just unreal to look around and realize this is where I work. No bland office park this time. The site itself is enclosed, keeping the urban rhythyms out and making for a relaxed feel. The place is practically its own city.

Ahh, yes...what I'll actually be doing. For a month (actually, as long as it takes), I'll be assisting in getting a new building production-ready. Once that happens, I'll be part of the team that purifies the product and aloquats the product into sterile containers. And to do this, I'll get nearly butt-naked and change into three layers of gowning and protection. Fun!

Battle Royal 

OK, so what have I missed in the world lately? A US Senator calling US troops in Guantanimo Bay "Nazis" (he later apologized, sort of), and Bush's political guru Karl Rove's speech criticising liberals on 9/11. Don't forget the tool extrordinare, Howard Dean, and his Republicans=white Christians remark. It'm actually glad I was out of touch with current news the last few weeks. And a pox on both political parties' bases. Maybe we should just pick a spot in the Mojave Desert and let them fight it out, and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Ever Growing Blogosphere 

My hand is hurting from writing emails half the day. I was letting people know about my new job, and thanking them for there help and support.

Still though, I can write long enough to do some cheerleading. I may be a little slow in writing on this, but I can still congratulate co-bloggers, ex-Fresnan Deb and husband Jay, on their second pregnancy! Although the pregnancy is mostly Deb's. As Caltechgirl points out, Deb certainly isn't the only blogger with child.

Could it have something to do with blogging in pajamas?

Monday, June 20, 2005

News Smorgasbord 

I haven't talked much lately about news and current events, so here is my a la carte selection of stories that caught my attention today:

* Aloha? Did Polynesians visit Southern California before the time of Columbus? One controversial new thesis thinks so. I think archaeologists will eventually find out that the Discovery of America is far more complex story than anyone now believes, with evidence other people made it to America long before current assumptions say.

* This is just disgusting, but I'm not at all surprised. It goes to show just how the mental disorder of "martyrdom" can warp a mind. I bet there are plenty of potential bombers who think preschools would make a great target too.

* Billy Graham is set to perform what some say will be his final crusade this weekend, and he chose the location that he once considered his greatest challenge.

* I don't see a Doritos ad in his future: New details about Saddam Hussein are given by his former prison guards:


NEW YORK -
Saddam Hussein loves Doritos, hates Froot Loops, admires President Reagan, thinks Clinton was "OK" and considers both Presidents Bush "no good." He talks a lot, worries about germs and insists he is still president of
Iraq.



If I were Saddam, I would hate Froot Loops too. That Toucan Sam has a strong enough nose to sniff out Saddam's hidden WMDs.

* A couple of watermen pulled up a crab that's split down the middle, one half side male and the other half female. Talk about your bipolar disorders!

* Umm, why can't ice hockey work this fast? The NBA is apparently close to a new collective bargaining agreement. Most interesting is a possible age limit where rookies would have to be at least 19 years old. Good idea.

* And finally, because people aren't talking about Tom Cruise enough lately **cough, bullsh**, cough**: Watergate II, You Got Hosed! Just because Tom has been running his mouth and abusing defenseless couches lately doesn't give some jerk the right to squirt water in his face. My naturally paranoid mind comes up with the thought: "What if the guy squirted something other than water?" In this new era, does Hollywood now have to re-evaluate how to screen fans and journalists on the red carpet? I'm just saying...

What did I do in the days before my RSS feeder let me check a dozen stories at once?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Best Search Yet 

Here's one search that undoubtedly left the incoming person dissapointed with my site:

"olympic whoops moments accidental nudity "

I guess I was watching a different Olympics last summer, although I bet the Accidental Nudity Olympics would get grest Nielsen ratings.

Sorry dude, I got nothing.

My Turn! 

Yet Another Meme:

Believe it or not, I've been thinking about just this topic lately, so I have plenty to say about this one:

FIVE THINGS I MISS FROM CHILDHOOD:

1.) Summer Vacation: Yes, this is the same as Caltechgirl's first choice on this meme, but I will expand on what she said.

All movies, TV, books, ect. that state that either Christmas or a birthday is the best day of a kid's year are full of crap.

Any kid (and any grownup who remembers being a kid) will tell you that the one day that stands out from all the other 364 (or 365) days is The Last Day of School.

The Last Day of School was better than being fed peeled grapes while being fanned by a harem of attractive servants. The best part was it a half day! There was no better way to start the summer; everybody knew that by 12:30 they would be blissfully free. Completely free on that day until parents came home at five or so, and also free from school until the Tuesday After Labor Day. When you're in elementary school, Labor Day might as well be the year 2059, it seems so ridiculously far in the future.

Besides being the start of a really long vacation, The Last Day of School was about the closest thing there was to a rite of passage. Sure, the true rite of passage was the upcoming Tuesday After Labor Day when everyone has to learn a new classroom, get used to a new teacher, and collect a whole series of strange new textbooks. That was the hard part. But The Last Day of School was a rite of passage without paying the bill. You could say you were in a new grade without all the responsibilities and trials that came with beginning that new grade. Those would come in September.

I think this is the biggest day to day change in the lives of kids and adults. In school, the passage of time was marked off with yearly precision; you knew when a course of study would begin and end, you could look back over the years and see how you advanced through grades and courses, and everyone's calendar was based off those rhythms of the school year. Regardless of where you went to school or how your life was going, it was a certainty that October would look nothing like July. Even if there was summer school, those classes would be different.

In the grown-up world, days and months can easily blend into years. All of a sudden October does look like July. Work is usually the same day in and day out. A good position will give you three week off per year, in addition to Christmas Vacation, but it still isn't the same. I miss the ebb and flow of the school/college years.

2.) I miss the lack of responsibilities. When the homework and chores were done, you were free. In adulthood, most jobs are 24-7. Even when someone isn't at work, the stress of work is still there. I guess it's just easier for a kid to leave the stresses of life behind.

3.) I miss floating in my old above-ground swimming pool. It was a great place to think and just get away from everything.

4.) I miss being as goofy as I want to be. I'm goofy as a grown-up, but not nearly as much as I would like to be. And what's so wrong about a grown-up playing on a swing, anyway?

5.) I'm saddened by the fact that options narrow over time. I think just about every kid dreams about being an astronaut, cowboy, pro football player, or some other far-out occupation. 99.9 percent of people don't make it. I wish I was back in a time when dreams were unbounded.

And although it isn't a necessary part of the meme, allow me to blather on about the flip side of the coin:


A summary of the forgettable aspects of childhood, from the Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson. Click on the picture above for an enlarged view.Posted by Hello

FIVE REASONS WHY IT'S BETTER TO BE A GROWN-UP:

1.) Driving. Let's face it; even with God-awful crappy commutes like those which plague the Bay Area, driving is cool. I always wanted to drive as a kid; it gives the type of freedom a kid could only dream of. Bikes were the closest thing, but legs get tired long before cars run out of gas.

2.) Credit cards, ect. Yes, I can be a consumerist whore too. Being able to spend money is cool. Of course, this joy is in direct proportion to one's income, but there is still more freedom to spend than I had as a kid. Now there are twelve-year-olds who have a larger credit limit than I currently have. Still, I think I appreciate being able to spend the money more than that twelve-year-old.

3.) I can leave my bed unmade the whole week if I want to. Enough said.

4.) I am far less likely to be patronized. Grown-ups usually treat kids as if they have some form of severe mental retardation. I hated it, and as an adult I now know what I suspected as a kid: many adults are at least as dumb and immature as children. Ironically, the last group that patronizes me on a routine basis is the government. This is all the more ironic, since many times they have the maturity of a kindergarten playground.

5.) I am more powerful. This is related with the above. Being an adult gives me more of a chance to do great and wonderful things. I have a chance to produce important medicines, to vote and participate in political debates, and to assist in things I believe in.

OK Helen and Bill, you're next. Only the first part of the meme is required. Enjoy.

The End of A Headache? 

Good news at last: For the first time since being laid off last Halloween, it looks like I'll finally have steady work. In what has to be a new world record, I went from receiving an email, to a phone conversation, then an interview, and finally an offer, all in less than 48 hours. All I have left to take care of are the references, physical checkup, and standard drug testing all us biotech manufacturing types do.

I couldn't have planned things any better. It's with Bayer, it's not through a temp company, benefits start the first day, plus it's a raise in pay over what I was doing before. Yay! After years of having to learn to live on little-to-no money, it will be nice to have to learn how to properly manage a surplus of funds. The job has varying shifts, so I may spend one week on AM shift, the next on evening shift, and the following on overnight. Believe it or not, I still like this much better than 8 to 5, where I would lose at least two hours per day stuck in traffic.

All in all, I have to say that I would bleed for this job. After almost three years oscillating between unemployment and positions that didn't work out, I need a workplace that I know I'll be at one year from now. Of course, if things fall through, you'll probably see me using many colorful metaphors to describe events.

Could anyone use some discounted aspirin?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

All Shook Up Over Nothing 

I got a call around 8:45PM: it was my mom wondering if I was safe.

WTF!?!

She called to say that there was a 7.0 earthquake near San Francisco. If there actually was a 7.0 earthquake in SF, I would be calling her.

It turned out the quake occured off Crescent City, quite far from here. There was a tsunami warning, but as of 9:10 PDT, that tsunami warning was cancelled. Since it was quite far off the coast, relatively few people felt it.

As they often say, "Move along, nothing to see here." However considering recent history with tsunamis, there was a bit of alarm at first. All I know is I'm going to bed.

UPDATE: Well, it was a little more than "nothing" in Crescent City, about 350 miles north of Fremont and me:

In Crescent City, about 300 miles north of San Francisco near the border with Oregon, local residents left low-lying areas for higher ground after an emergency warning siren sounded.

"People were running around like chickens with their heads cut off," said Mac McGuire, who is no longer with the city's emergency services department, but headed it when the 1964 tsunami quake hit. "We knew there was an earthquake -- we felt it."

Many telephone lines in the area were jammed as worried locals called police, neighbors and others to figure out what was happening.

"We probably received a couple hundred phone calls," said Sgt. Bill Nova of the Eureka Police Department.


Crescent City is understandably jittery. In 1964, a tsunami generated by a powerful Alaska earthquake killed eleven people.


OK, now I am going to bed.

Interview Mania 

I wish companies paid me to come interview with them. At this rate, I wouldn't have to work.

On Monday, I had my second interview for a company near Pleasanton. Tomorrow morning, I have another interview in Berkeley. Then on Thursday, yet another interview with a company in South San Francisco. This is a good thing, right?

Well, of course this is a good problem to have. Now I have to worry about the possibility of having to choose between jobs. It sure beats last spring, when I would search online job listings, and not find one position I could even apply to.

Ideally, I would like to get hired directly to the company (no temp work), work swing shift, and do what I did at my previous job (cleanroom biotech manufacturing work). Still, I'm likely to take the first position that gets offered to me.

Hopefully something gets offered soon. Since I'm going in to work so much, I might as well get paid for it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You're Kidding Me, Right? 

Not Guilty on all charges???

I thought Michael Jackson would certainly have been convicted on some of those more minor charges, especially the charges involving giving alcohol to minors.

I know I didn't speak of the matter until now, but I had a rather set opinion on the whole sordid matter. While it will continue to be argued whether or not Jackson's actions broke the law, I think it cannot be in dispute that Michael has serious problems regarding children. Yes, Michael, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be a child again; we all sometimes do it. However, there are several actions that are over the line and grossly inappropriate. Michael may be not guilty of crimes against children, but I still wouldn't want anyone's children associated with him. Even without being a convicted sex offender, he still appears to have a multitude of psychological issues that puts the well being of any children around him at risk.

Nobody won today. The victims of Jackson's inappropriate behavior did not get justice, and Jackson will continue to live in a fantasy world where nobody will be willing to step in (for his own good), and speak out against Michael's transgressions. If anything positive can be taken from this, it's perhaps then need to more closely nurture child celebrities, so that the problems that have plagued Jackson can be minimized in others.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Small Fish, Meet Big Pond 

A couple of weeks ago I was going through my email account, the one that I have linked on this blog, and I saw an email that looked like spam or worse. It was an Evite from local television channel KRON4.

Was this some kind of joke?

I clicked it open, looking at it with my hand over my eyes, hoping I hadn't just released some nasty new computer virus into my poor laptop. No, this was a legitimate invitation to a kickass party meetup of Bay Area bloggers.

Hmmm, why were they planning to gather all us local bloggers into the studio? Nefarious plots ran through my mind. Wait! There will be free food and a "little memento for attendees." Well, I suppose I could be convinced to go and add my two cents after all.

The meetup was this past Saturday, and over one hundred bloggers showed up. Or was that 99 bloggers, and little old me? I was intimidated. I didn't know anyone there, and I didn't realize one of the bloggers present was Craig Newmark, until after I had left. @%#@%#%!!! I didn't even get to say "hello" to him.

I ended up doing what I usually do in big crowds: oscillate between Wallflower and Overzealous Socializer. I did manage to have a couple of interesting conversations, one with Sp.ookee who has a generalist blog my like this one, and Clyde who reports on the hip-hop industry. However, like some others in attendance, I spend a lot of my time feeling the uncomfortable high school clique flashbacks. There are a couple of Flickr photogalleries of the meetup, here and here.

As for the event itself, it was pretty unstructured. The general manager of KRON news spoke, admitted he was still a novice with this whole blogosphere thing, that he definitely wanted to collaborate with us, and encouraged us to suggest ideas on how to improve the way KRON news does its job.

After that, we took a group shot in the KRON news set, which was just great. I still can't get over how much smaller everything is in real life versus on television. The studio was no bigger than a modest living room, and all the officer chairs I've ever sat in are nicer than the chairs the anchors sit in. I like the multiple televisions imbedded in the background, but is QVC really one of the channels that should be playing?


The left half of the group photo, via kron.com. I circled myself (I think, sadly I can't be sure). I'm near the baby, and yes he has his own blog, which he contributes to mostly by drooling on the keyboard. Posted by Hello

The whole purpose of the gathering was for KRON to network with the local bloggers, get a relationship going, and (hopefully for them) get a jump on the local news competition. KRON got the idea after the recent BlogNashville conference (KRON and the Nashville station WKRN, which supported that event, are owned by the same company). Basically, KRON wants to copy Nashville's successful format. First up will be a list of local bloggers, as well as an aggregator that will allow visitors to the KRON site see the most recent postings of local bloggers. One idea mentioned was to bring in a full-time blogger to write as well as compile the best of the local blogosphere, as it is being done in Nashville. Another idea is to use local bloggers both as pundits to incoherently rant thoughtfully discuss issues, as well as providing "man/woman on the street" coverage in the event of a breaking major story. As for me, I'm probably one of the few bloggers from Fremont, but I don't have a solid grasp of local issues. I can rant with the best of them, so I may yet give them something to chew over.

I give KRON credit for inviting us in, and certainly for beating other local stations to the punch. The past few years, KRON has been in an awkward position, having been cut loose by NBC when the network chose to switch stations, so it could directly own and control its Bay Area affiliate. Without network programming to fall back on, KRON has instead promoted itself as "The Bay Area's News Station (tm)" and worked that angle to stay successful. Being independent does seem to be an advantage in this case, as they don't have to worry how the old network execs at Rockefeller Center feel about this initiative.

My final words of wisdom on this matter: Nyah Nyah!! Others may have more hits per day than I do, but I got a t-shirt! In your face, Glenn and Kos!!


That "little memento." Not bad, eh?Posted by Hello

Come to think of it, Glenn was at BlogNashville, so he probably got a t-shirt too. But still...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

One Goes Up, One Goes Down 

I guess we can't possibly have labor peace in all four major North American sports at the same time, can we?

First, good news on the hockey front, which has been in the deep-freeze while the rinks have been ice-free. The owners and players appear to have agreed in principle on a new salary cap:


TORONTO -- For the first time in 266 days of the National Hockey League lockout, there is hope for an end, as sources with ties to both sides of the labour dispute say the players and owners have cleared their biggest hurdle by agreeing on a formula for a salary cap.

The cap, which sources say will be tied to a percentage of team revenues, is expected to form the foundation of a six-year deal.


If this pans out, both sides still have a long way to go before a deal is done. A ton of other issues need to be agreed upon, but this is progress.

That's a lot more than pro basketball can say, they're going in the opposite directionn:

Deputy commissioner Russ Granik told members of the NBA's competition committee Monday to prepare for a lockout, four league sources, including two NBA general managers, have told ESPN.com.

League spokesman Tim Frank was more circumspect when confirming Granik's remarks, saying Granik told the committee "to prepare in case of a lockout."

Sources, some at the NBA's pre-draft camp in Chicago, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, are not optimistic that the league and the players' union can reach agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement before the current contract expires June 30.


I'm about the only person I know that is both a basketball and a hockey aficionado. A fan of one sport will usually stare down their nose at the other sport. A basketball lockout would get much more attention than the current hockey lockout, and the league would be in better shape after a lockout than the NHL will be.

I just wish all theses well-paid guys who are supposed to reach these labor agreements in sports would do there job without always having to play chicken, but I think it will always be like this.

Thirty 

Today is my birthday, yah! Since I'm currently in "job transition," I don't have any hedonistic mega-parties planned to celebrate (maybe Vegas for next year). Instead my indulgence of choice is food, local Pizz'a Chicago and Krispy Kreme while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Thirty certainly didn't sneak up on me; I've been aware it's been coming for a couple of years now. Still though, I can't help but have the human reaction of, "Where did the time go?” I guess I'm not a kid anymore, yet I still feel like I'm twelve years old. I don't feel like an "old person" (...ducks as those readers older than him throw bricks...)

I think I've worked through the seven stages of grief over this. I had my long stretch of dread, but now I see the start of a new decade alive as a chance to have a fresh start. I have some decent job prospects that I hope work out soon. Plus, I'm doing good work volunteering for a couple of marine bio/environmental organizations, which I may very well do for a living in the future. I still have a chance to get exactly what I want in life, so I can't complain.

Pretty soon, I'll be able to show off my birthday present, my new Sony digital camera. Thanks to Caltechgirl for her verbal advice, and the Insta-shutterbug for his posts on the subject. I'm not much of a photo taker, but I think the instant nature of digital photography might turn me into one. Lots of pictures to come soon.

To close, I'll engage in a little bit of cheerleading to show that good stuff happened on my birthday, thanks to the all-mighty Wikipedia:

Births:

1939: Sportscaster Dick Vitale
1961: Michael J. Fox
1973: Teddy Bruschi of the NFL champion New England Patriots
1977: Peja Stojakovich of the NBA's Sacramento Kings
1981: Natalie Portman

Events:

68 AD: Roman Emperor Nero (he's the one who fiddled while Rome burned) commits suicide.

1934: Donald Duck made his debut.

1954: Joseph Welch makes his famous retort to infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-Communist witch hunts of the 1950's: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

1975: The first live broadcast of the British Parliament. Thanks to this breakthrough, people came to realize the weekly Prime Minister's Questions is as entertaning a football (as in soccer) argument in an English pub.

Today is also the feast of Saint Columcille, one of Ireland's three patron saints. Another good reason to hoist a Guinness today. Brilliant!

Sounds Like Bad Remake 

I just watched Paul Anka on Letterman do a remake of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. I think I'll go boil my head now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Daddy Government 

There were a couple of unrelated stories that I was going to comment on separately. I think there is actually some connection, but then again I always think different items are often linked somehow.

This is deja vu of the wrong kind for San Francisco: a few days ago a young boy was mauled to death by two pit bulls. This tragedy follows the tragic dog mauling death of Diane Whipple in 2001, an event still traumatic to the city. San Francisco being what it is, the immediate reaction was for the local government to find a quick solution to this problem (I leave it to you to judge whether this is a good or bad thing). The city government is putting all options on the table including banning ownership of pit bulls within city limits. Mayor Gavin Newsome sums up why San Francisco City Hall has feels it has to consider such a drastic measure:

"We have to be realistic," Newsom told the Associated Press. "You've got dogs that literally can kill. We've seen it demonstrated. If we can't change people's behavior and make them think what's in their best interest, then that's when government comes along and becomes a bit paternalistic.

"In this town, having a pit bull or two or three and three kids is not acceptable because we're not going to deal with the consequences of losing a life."



Newsom, in his typical smart fashion, hits the nail on the head. "Paternalistic" seems like the right term to me, with all the negative connotations that come with that word. But, in this case, is it worth restricting freedom of ownership to improve public safety? It's not clear yet if there was any negligence involved in the case of the young boy's death, but most pit bull attacks seem to be due to some form of owner negligence. Yet the vast majority of pit bulls, and other breeds of dogs considered dangerous, never attack. It's only a few bad apples that spoil the bunch. I can understand the urge to ban pit bulls, but I don’t think I agree with that option. Still, more owner education and regulation could help. I’m just not yet sure what the right option is.

The other story from Monday that caught my attention was the Supreme Court decision regarding the use of medicinal use of marijuana. Here's where the libertarian side of me rally kicks in. Here is a case where the government is being "paternalistic" but definitely for the wrong reasons.

I don't know enough legally to say whether the US Supreme Court was right or wrong in saying that Congress has the power to override state laws on drug use, but I do know for sure that I don't like the law as Congress passed it. Setting aside for a moment whether it should be legal to recreationally smoke Mary Jane, this is different from the case of the pit bulls; the majority of pit bull owners are responsible, whereas the majority of pot smokers don’t get a prescription. Still, though, just because there is a significant population improperly baking their brains out on pot, why should this preclude those who may benefit medically from using the drug? If the medical effectiveness of pot is in dispute, then it should be legally tested like any other drug.

I see no difference between this case, and that of legalized painkiller. The abuse of painkillers affects millions of Americans, should they be made illegal? In the case of marijuana, the government would much rather throw out the baby with the bathwater, and write off any good this drug may have for legitimately suffering individuals.

I personally see the proper role of government as something like that of a referee in a sports match. Its job is to insure the game (life) is running smoothly, calling fouls when necessary (but calling those fouls fairly). If a referee is doing his job correctly, spectators will likely forget he is on the field of play. Government should function in the same way, stepping in to the degree it needs to, and getting out of the way when it is a hindrance.

Can You Say Publicity Stunt? 

I'm not nearly as dense to think that Russell Crowe planned his little phone-throwing tirade and arrest in New York early this morning. However, I have to believe that others in Hollywood are looking at the free press time Crowe is getting, right before the release of his new movie, and thinking, "Could I generate this kind of attention before the release of my client's next movie?"

Naaah, that could never happen. Sure, and all those homemade celebrity sex tapes just happened to get stolen and released to the public.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Star Wars: Revenge of the Pooped 

If I wait until I'm not pooped, tired, wiped out or whatever, I'm never going to blog again, so here is my Revenge of the Sith review:

I held out seeing until last week, when some old coworker buddies finally broke me down. I've mentioned my, ahem...ambivalent feelings toward the Star Wars franchise previously. More than anything, I just wanted a decent movie. Not a Life-Changing Cultural Event, just a movie that didn't waste my time.

Finally, after three prequels, I got a movie I could actually enjoy.

There were a few things that stood out for me (spoilers below).

*
*
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* Okay, I admit it. While I didn't get teary-eyed like Michele did, I got goosebumps when that opening screen came on "Long ago in a galaxy far far away." And the crescendo with "Star Wars" on the screen. I forgot how much the previous two movies bugged me, and I was back in time when I was a kid watching "return of the Jedi" in the theater. Just goosebumps.

* In a way, it's too bad this is the last movie, because it seemed like Hayden Christiansen was really growing into the role of Anakin/Darth Vader. Maybe someone could make Episode 3 1/2.

* I thought the scene with Mace Windu and Palpatine was well done. The best part was that it was Mace that actually showed weakness by wanting to kill Palpatine, and this was the last straw for Anakin. Of course, the real motivation for saving Palpatine was to keep Padme alive, but still it was Mace that forced Anakin's hand.

* It was kind if strange how the best and worst parts of the movie were part of the same act. The best scene was when Vader was fitted with the mask; the sound it made when it went on was just chilling. And then the first of those breaths....But then, the scene when Vader rises, and Palpatine asks "Lord Vader, can you hear me?" That meek concern and Emperor Palpatine just don't go together for me. And yes, I did find Vader's "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" cheesy. I know he had to express his anguish and realization of his fate somehow, but I thought it could have been done better.

* So General Grievous is a robot, right? Why in the hell does he cough then?!? He's a General, shouldn't someone then "fix" his cough? Whatever.

* The whole lava, Vader vs. Obi-wan scene was excellent. Really well done both with acting and effects. Somehow Ewan McGregor managed to pull it off when he yelled "You were the chosen one," despite the potential kitsch factor and it was played into the ground on all the commercials.

* I agree with Caltechgirl, Yoda dispatching the Imperial Guards was the funniest moment in the movie.


The bottom line for me was this is by far the best of the three prequels, but still a notch below the originals. Still, I can buy the entire saga on DVD and have four out the six movies that I can enjoy over and over again.

That wasn't so tough...I should always blog while tired.

Frighteningly True 

I may have been away from Fresno for close to ten years now, but most of these still resonate with me....





You Know You're From Fresno When...


You have to explain to friends from out of town what animal
a "Tri-tip" comes from.

You think salsa goes on everything

Drivers think a red light is just a suggestion.

Your out-of-town friends start to visit after October, but clear
out before the end of April.

The best restaurants in town start with "El" or "Los."

You think $400 a month rent is way too high.

You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.

People break out coats when the temperature drops below 70.

The pool can be warmer than you are.


You realize that Valley Fever isn't a disco dance.

You still don't know your way around downtown.

Anywhere "and 99" is too far away.

You think you're better than people from Clovis.

Someone mentions the Fair and your thoughts immediately turn to
Cinnamon Rolls.

You drive just as fast on a sunny day in June as a foggy day in
December.

You have to explain to someone about "G Street."

The whole town shuts down at 11:00.

You complain about how boring Fresno is, but still make fun of
people from Sanger, Selma, Reedley, etc.

You hadn't been to Manchester Center in 10 years until the movie
theater opened.

You never knew how you managed before River Park.

Someone from out-of-town talks about how foggy it is and tell
them, "Just wait."

You know not to take Shaw at 8, 12, or 5.

You swear there was an orchard there last week, where now there are houses.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Fresno.





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Thanks to all you non-Fresno types for letting me indulge in some local humor. The other local lists are pretty good too, so I'm sure there is something there for everybody.

Mmmmm, cinnamon rolls. How much longer until the Fair?