30 June 2006

4th of July Arrived on Time

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been feeling overworked lately. Really. It's been a lonnnnnnnng time since I've had a stressful run of weeks.

Feels good
when you stop bangin' your head against the wall, right?

Let's all go out and blow up some shit on the beach.

29 June 2006

Humility is a Chess Match

One of my favorite fair-weather things to do is to chill at Santana Row and play against Jacqueline on one of the public chess board tables. I am the student.


Two Times Daily

Do you ever find yourself wondering : Why do I feel a little slow midday and then I find another burst of energy in the second part of the day?
For millions of years, humans have adapted to climate. In a hot climate, we arise early for work and rest in the middle of the day. We then resume our life's work again as the earth cools after the midday peak.
In many places, there are two working shifts and we sense two peaks in our personal circadian rhythms. This part of nature cannot be denied. We see this in farming in the USA, we see it repeated in foreign countries. It's natural.
It's actually a little deeper than that. Cell regeneration during sleep is affected by our rhythms. Hormone production and brain wave activity follow cycles set in the area of the brain that also control breathing and heartbeat.
Traveling outside of your home's timezone can disrupt your circadian rhythms, leading to insomnia & fatigue AKA : jet lag. The seasonal lengthening of day and night in places near the North and South Poles cause the same disruptions.
You may feel that sleeping for 1/3 of your life is a waste, but being asleep is sometimes more important than being awake.

What Planet Are You From?

Once a year - or so - I'm asked, "What planet are you from?" Well, we've just passed the summer solstice and I haven't yet been asked this year. Somebody, please! Ask me!
It's Earth, really. We call it Planet Diversity. Planet Unexpected.
Planet Different. Planet Unconventional. Planet Get Over It.

Usually, this question is in response to something I've said. That's okay. If we all said the same things there would be no use in speaking, would there? Having ellipitcal thoughts and sharing them with people creates a spark in conversation. If it wasn't controversial, it wouldn't be worth stating.

"I like strawberry Jell-O".
How's that for a safe and average-minded comment?
Yeah, it doesn't spark me, either.

One of my favorite public personalities is Henry Rollins. After touring in punk band Black Flag for several years, he now fronts his own band. Also seen in film and television and currently on the Independent Film Channel on his self titled tv show. Rollins alternates touring with the band and touring on his own, giving spoken word performances where he speaks nearly non-stop for 3 hours. Here's the schedule for the band's current tour.

I'm paraphrasing him when I repeat that Rollins says, "People don't have conversations anymore, they merely repeat news items in bullet format." It's fairly true. I know a discussion is concluding soon when people begin discussing television shows they've seen, instead of something meaningful about themselves. Another of my favorite quotes : "There's three kinds of people in this world: Those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who show up later, and ask 'What happened?'".

What planet are you from?

28 June 2006

A Little Coffee with Your Milk?

The health benefits of coffee are being reported in the news... but did you also know that caffeine temporarily blocks the body's absorption of calcium? Which do we need more : To move quickly on caffeine? -OR- To move without breaking brittle bones?

Coffee or Cacium?

Hawai'i on the Horizon

Due for another visit to Hawai'i. Planting the seeds via imagery. The dream begins...

Secure The Castle At Once!

Who's watching your home while you're away? Overall, burglary is on the rise in the USA. There's seasonal burglary, when school is out for the summer break and adolescents are looking for an adrenaline rush. And then there's perennial burglary, when addicts need to sell somebody else's possessions to buy their next high.
How to protect your castle? In addition to an entrance alarm, mounting wireless surveillance cameras in an indoor network, in addition to exterior cameras in a tree, atop a fence, and even across the street is the hot ticket to cover all the angles and record any vehicular traffic. The cameras can wirelessly send images to your computer, viewable from anywhere, and permanently stored to assist law enforcement.

Yes, Sur!

Another drive down the coast from the home in the valley. Every time I go to San Francisco or Santa Cruz or some other place on the coast, I tell myself I need to buy a house anywhere on the coast.

One of the finest preserves on the California coast is located in Point Lobos. Recommend that you pay the $8.00 to enter Pt. Lobos and hike around from Whaler's Cove to China Beach.

There's also whale watching off the coast in these parts. Occasionally, a humpback whale shows up - this one at Molera State Park Beach this past week.

On the way home, we make a stop in at the Surf Museum in Santa Cruz. Are you aware that Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz have battled -for years- to be named the birthplace of surfing? It's true. Two years after applying for exclusive rights to use the title “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach was granted three official trademarks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to use it in advertisements and on beach paraphernalia for sale.

27 June 2006

Blues on a Mission

From now until September 7th, on every Thursday from 5-8pm you can join our photographer friend, Jimmy Dewrance at The Mission Ale House for live blues on the patio. James is a vocalist and harmonica player.

Mission Ale House is located at:
97 E. Santa Clara Steet
San Jose, CA. 95113

Bases are Loaded & So are the Fans

The average income of the USA baseball fan has risen for the 22nd straight year. Is baseball a premium sport, or are the prices at the stadium premium? Nevermind, get out and support your home team, no matter where you're from.
Oakland A's. San Francisco Giants.

Racing In the Shadow of San Francisco

San Jose has always lived in the shadow of it's big brother, San Francsico. And, why not? SF is a major seaport city. San Jose was always farming community an hour to the south.
Geographically, SJ is larger than SF. A famous bridge and cable cars really keep SF on the map for the rest of the world. It's not a major seaport and it's just not the destination city that SF is. It was built "out" not "up", so the civil engineering would require some intense overhauling. Part of that is slowly taking place.
If you tell somebody from out of state that you live in "Silicon Valley" they nod their heads absently. If you reinforce that by saying "Where all the computers and software are designed - the center of high-tech...?" They know a little more. When you tell them "SJ is 50 miles south of SF" then they understand where you're coming from.
The running joke : What does yogurt have that San Jose does not?
Answer : An active culture.

It's okay. Tourism is for SF. SJ is about business. Yet, SJ is rated as #100 in California Business Magazine's "100 Best Cities to Do Business in California". Ouch.

Recently, many millions of dollars have been put into the SJ infra- structure. A new City Hall, new 4-story condos downtown, and ground has been broken for the first of several planned high-rise mixed-use luxury housing and office towers. Next to a very familiar victorian home from the 1880s converted for use as a law office, we see a 16-story residential tower termed City Heights being erected in the foreground of this photo at Julian and San Pedro streets. What a striking architectural dichotomy this will be...

The first Grand Prix in Northern California was held in San Jose last July. Here's a shot in front of the still vacant Sobrato Building at 488 Almaden Ave. Mr. Sobrato and company prefer to retain their construction projects in a closely-held portfolio and are seeking (for the third year) a single tenant for this stunning 380,000 sq. ft. class-A space. This year, San Jose Grand Prix has smoothed the race course light rail track crossing on Almaden and improved the bridges for pedestrian traffic during the races on July 28-30th. Tickets are available now.
$4M was invested this year from the city of SJ and an expected $
50M return over the next 10 years.
Gentlemen, start your banking!

The Madonna Jackpot

Somehow, some way, we hit the Madonna Jackpot on May 31st. I received a call from a good friend at 4pm, asking me what plans we had for the evening. Mid-week, nothing really. Turns out, his sister bought 4 tix to the Madonna concert in San Jose. Sis has a husband and a new child and they just cannot get to SJ from SacTown and make it all work out on a Wednesday. The start of business day on Thursday would surely show up too soon.

"You pick the restaurant where we're buying your dinner" is the last thing I said. He did and we met there. Walking from our car to the restaurant in Japan Town, two cars with five guys slowed enough to ask us how to get to the SJ Pavilion. Sexually ambiguous voices led me to believe we would be seeing them at the venue. Sure enough. Parking at the HP Pavilion in San Jose can range from $20 to Free. The free spots are in metered spaces along the streets, and are pretty rare. $15-20 is about normal. Some locals will rent their private spaces or driveways for a similar fee. Part of me believes the car would be fine there, part of me invents all kinds of things I don't want to make into reality.

Once inside, we quickly learned that we were in the minority. Yep, my first Madonna concert. Did anyone else know that her fans are 97% alternative lifestyle? Why didn't you tell me? I'm okay with it. It was a little odd for a minute, but I have gay friends. I just haven't ever been with 27,000 of them at once. We think the 4 men in the row in front of us took E - they were huggers all night.

Right. The show. Madonna and crew have engineered a tight 120-minute show that began with her emerging from a giant mirrored disco ball as an equestrienne and whipping or riding four men as horses in black leather. A 10-ft tall radiused (metal screen?) semi-translucent curtain on the stage showed video clips. Intermittently, this screen was raised to reveal different elements of the stage act, such as Madonna on a large, mirrored cross. In between her "stage videos" as I term them, various dancers would accompany video images as she changed her wardrobe.

Much of the music was from her current album. It's a clubbing album, if you asked me my take after a partial listen. Some of her classics were remixed to similar beats. For one disco song, she wore a white leotard. That's hard to do at any age. She's in great shape. I've never thought she was on the list of the world's greatest vocalists, but Madonna is a great entertainer.

She wore Travolta's white suit from SNF as the floor lit in primary-colored squares as she paraded those same dance moves from the 30 year-old film. Good stuff, eh? From my seat, it appeared as though she actually played an electric guitar on a song called "I Love New York". Hmmmm. She performed a duet with a swami named Isaac. Maybe he's one of those Kaballah guys. I dunno.

At exactly 120 minutes, the show concluded with "Hung Up" as golden balloons dropped from the ceiling.
Time goes by so slowly. Those are the lyrics. I know this because this verse was repeated about 30 times. And, if you're keeping score at home, there was no encore. I'm not convinced the show needed an encore. It was over. Clearly.
Reflecting on the show, I cannot say that I would ever spend $350 per ducat. Especially considering our seats were side-stage in a hockey rink that was not built for sound. You know what? It was hot at the elevation of our seats. We weren't in the highest row, but I can bet that it was far more comfortable about 30 rows lower than us. While a front row floor seat would be cooler, it would not provide the elevation necessary to see all the action that occurs onstage - and would require the video screens' help for viewing from those seats.

One Madonna show is good for me. Next.

What I Ride

I Ride:
For clean air,
For the post-ride buzz provided by endorphins,
For better vision after so many hours online, and in the office.


26 June 2006

Water is Life

As we approach, the coast is alive! The annual Begonia Festival includes live music, flowered floats on Soquel Creek, and a Sand Sculpture contest open to anyone.

Penguins Marching

There are pyramids, and then... there are PYRAMIDS!!

Be sure and get yourself to Capitola in September.

Like a Cartoon Backdrop

I shot this while cycling around Russian Ridge on Highway 35. It appeared to me as a cartoon backdrop like Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. Definitely something from Warner Bros.

As a kid, watching cartoons, I thought it was odd that the hills were a solid color with only a serrated edge at the top. No detail in the center, where individual trees surely would be seen if that was a real picture.


I See Dead People

Okay. You've heard enough about The Pittsburgh Steelers Football Team winning the NFL Championship Superbowl in February 2006 after the 2005 season. The Steelers closed out the 2004 season with a record of 15-1, yet they couldn't get through the playoffs without making enough mistakes to take themselves out of the running that year. The failures rested mostly on the shoulders of humble QB Ben Roethlisberger in his rookie year. That's what it comes down to in endurance sports. Whichever golfer doesn't bogey on the 18th, wins. Whatever team makes the least mistakes, wins. The talent is already there by that point. In the NFL, it's just a matter of being King of the Mountain for the final four or five games.

The Steelers' other star QB, 4-time Superbowl winner Terry Bradshaw had already counseled Ben to "...ride that thing when you're retired from football..." So how does the Captain of the Offensive Team -- with advance knowledge that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is deadly -- carelessly risk his future, and that of the entire Steelers organization? How? Only a 23-year-old knows.

Ben Toothlessberger broke his jaw and lost some teeth when he collided with a motorist who made a left turn in front of his motorcycle. Million-dollar contracts and no common cents. He'll be setting off airport metal detectors for the remainder of his traveling years. You just know that his phone was ringing for weeks after every insurance salesman licensed in the state of PA heard the news.

MIT Now Offers a Poker Degree?

The teacher asked one of her young students if he knew his numbers.
"Yes," he said. "I do. My father taught me."
"Good. What comes after three?"
"Four," answers the boy.
"What comes after six?"
"Very good," says the teacher. "Your dad did a good job. What comes after ten?"
"A jack," says the little boy.

After speaking with several friends and co-workers, I know I am not alone in feeling that the whole poker craze is out of control. It will continue to grow as people continue to search for alternate means of gaining wealth. We put so much pressure on ourselves to attain the trappings of status. Somebody claims that MIT now offers a degree in poker.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Recently, a friend invited me to visit a Corporate Overview at his place of employment. A large, national company in the financial services industry that generates a lot of buzz. I wanted to see their recruiting process in action and attempt to learn somethings. Well, that I DID.

A lot of buzz has been generated by prospective and by past employees of this company. It reads very similar to the buzz generated by Primerica and by a crappy mortgage company that closed 229 branches in May of 2006.

Only time will determine the fate of World Financial Group, formerly World Marketing Alliance.

I'll allow you all to draw your own conclusions...


I Was Easily Amused

It's not a huge draw today, because it is closed but when I was a kid, the best thing in our neighbor- hood was Frontier Village.

Remember that one? San Jose's original amusement park in a western theme. Up until 1976, you had FV and The Winchester Mystery House. (I've never been there. I'm told that the real mystery is why anyone would pay $15 to tour an unfurnished house with doors leading to nowhere.) This was all before Great America opened during the country's bi-centennial celebration.

Frontier Village was inncoent and honest. It was clean fun for youngsters. The amusement parks of today are geared toward teenagers. From the house I was born to, it was only 3 miles away. We used to go there all the time! We'd drive the Model T cars and try to bang them off of the steel track that guided them around corners!
  • There were wild west style gunfights where the bad guys would roll off the roofs of buildings!
  • There was an archery field and you won ribbons for hitting bull's eyes!
  • There was a bicycle that turned left when you steered right... and vice-versa.
  • You could fish for trout -- and actually catch 'em!
There also was a franchise of The Mystery Spot contained inside the park which they called El Sito Mysterio -- where water ran uphill. And pool table balls didn't roll the way you'd expect.

Well, for the past five years an annual reunion has been held bay and for ex-park employees and patrons, alike. There is a lot of history on their site.

My older brother's peer, who lived directly across the street from our house, was a gunfighter. He used to tell us kids on the street that at Frontier Village, all the girls wanted to date the gunfighters. Makes sense now, because if you've ever gone to a Halloween party dressed up as Kactus Kong or any other character with a mask, forget it - too steamy inside a mask!

Scared Half To Death - Wanna Try Again??

Went to the SantaCruz Beach Boardwalk on Friday the 23rd to hear Greg Kihn and spin on the rides. Kihn was Kihn. He kicks off the summer concert season at the 'Walk.

I'll go almost anywhere for live music, but, ever since I broke both wrists and squished my face after falling off of a school roof during my 13th summer, I've had second thoughts about being on second stories.

After riding the steel roller coaster called the Hurricane, we had to ride the Giant Dipper, Northern California's signature 1924-era wooden roller coaster at the Boardwalk.

You get a little more action with the flex of a wooden roller coaster. This, and the Carousel from 1911 are also National Landmarks.

Then, onto the Double Shot, and as it prepared to rocket us up the 125 feet at 3Gs, it locked up when some kid cried to be let off before it started. We all had to get out of the harnesses while a technician took 12 minutes to free this kid. Seemed like the kid jinxed it for us, so we didn't get back on when the tech was finished.

Speaking of Double Shots, a 24oz HeineCan was $5.75. That's not the gouging that a beer drinker expects when he's away from his own fridge, eh?

So, we got onto the tilt and spinner thing called Freefall that rotates 24 people seated facing each other in a square while it swings like a giant pendulum. JVO lost her voice screaming - and I lost my hearing. She was scared half to death and then the ride operator asked us all if we wanted to go on it for a second time...