Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flamingos in formation

A National Geographic photographer shooting pictures from an airplane in Mexico claims he captured a group of flamingos that had formed themselves into - the shape of a flamingo!  Take a look for yourself:

This sounds like a total hoax to me, but some news outlets (though none of the major U.S. ones) are reporting it as a fact.  I find it hard to believe.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Only one letter?

Years ago (many, actually), I vowed never to watch Wheel of Fortune again, after a contestant, confronted with a board that said "MICHAEL JACKSO__," guessed the letter P.  Really.

But this news story got my attention.  A woman on the show recently was given a seven-word blank clue.  She guessed the letter L.  It appeared in one space, in only one word, and she SOLVED THE PUZZLE!  The answer was "I've Got A Good Feeling About This."  

Part of the trick was that the first word, "__'__ __" could only be "I've" or "I'll."  When she guessed L and it was not in the first word, she knew it started with "I've."

That is kind of crazy.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lots of MPG

The EPA has approved an equivalent miles per gallon rating for the all-electric Nissan Leaf I am getting.  I bet you've never seen a window sticker like this before:

I still have my doubts about the actual range on this car, but I am getting closer to finding out.  Nissan let me know my car is in production, likely ready by January or February.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Goodbye Facebook

All done with Facebook. It is pointless and a complete waste of time. And now the company is trying to copyright the word "face." Please.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A nice Thanksgiving dinner

Sarah came home from college for the weekend, and I had a really nice day with her and Abby.  Very traditional meal - turkey, stuffing, corn/peas/bacon, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.  I added sweet potatoes with marshmallows and made-from-scratch cranberry-maple muffins.  All very tasty.

Here's Sarah doing a little cooking:

And here's Abby enjoying her sparkling apple cider:

For dessert, not so traditional.  Sarah made cream cheese chocolate brownies, plus homemade butterscotch sauce (served over vanilla ice cream).  Delicious!

Quite a nice day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

What could Woodstock be thinking here?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


We spent a weekend not too long ago at a really cute town on Tomales Bay, in Marin County, up near Pt. Reyes.  It is a gorgeous area near the California coastline, but slightly inland on a large bay (famous for its oysters):

Marshall is a tiny place, with just a couple of restaurants, a few people, and really nothing else.  We had lunch one day at the Marshall Store:

The best choice there - clam chowder in a paper cup:

Highly recommended.  We are definitely going back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quantitative easing explained

This is going to make you want to cry:

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new type of e-book

This is kind of interesting.  The Google Chrome team put together an e-book about the web and browsers.  It looks like a book:

But it runs in your browser.  And it is rendered in HTML5 (the replacement for Flash?).

Is this a new way to read?  Not quite sure.  But as I said, interesting.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Redone backyard

Well, the backyard turned into a big remodel, not just a new deck but all new landscaping.  Everything is pretty small to start with, but if it fills in like the front, we will be pretty happy.

Here's a quick peek:

That's our peach tree on the far right.  The apple tree is right in the middle, with the white trunk.

And all the rain we are getting is most welcome for these plants.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Airport scanners

I've been traveling a lot recently, and I have yet to run across the full-body scanners everyone is so agitated about.  But I don't see the issue here - the TSA screening process has already reduced everyone's dignity so far, how can these scanners be much worse?  A perfect example of the government unable to get it right.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Under the weather

No real post today.  Too many airplanes/airports recently, and now I have too much coughing.  So I am taking a day to slow down.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today I am just sending out my best wishes and prayers to my wonderful sister-in-law and to my brother. Our thoughts are with you. Be strong.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Irony (and getting older)

I received a postcard from my eye doctor about making an appointment for my annual checkup.  But when I went to call, I couldn't read the phone number until I found my reading glasses.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The passing of a great cartoonist

A few weeks ago, it turns out, Alex Anderson passed away at the age of 90.  We missed it here, despite the fact that he was from Berkeley and lived the last part of his life on the Monterey Peninsula, because the San Francisco Chronicle did not bother to mention his passing.  Which is odd, since there were detailed obituaries in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and a number of other major publications.

Why was Alex Anderson memorable?  Because he was the creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right, some of the greatest cartoons of history.  The obituaries show that his early work on these characters were lost over time and claimed by other.  But he fought back with a lawsuit in later years, which earned him the proper acknowledgment for his creativity.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle show was very funny - particularly via the two villains, Natsha Fatale and Boris Badenov.  Witness this quote from Steven Spielberg, describing the Bullwinkle show:
It was the first time that I can recall my parents watching a cartoon show over my shoulder and laughing in places I couldn’t comprehend.
When I turned 30, I was given a birthday party that included a party quiz about events that occurred in the year I was born.  One of the questions asked what was Rocky, of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  The incorrect answer - a squirrel.  The correct answer (which resulted in some arguing among the lawyers at the party) - a flying squirrel.

Dudley Do-Right, and his love interest, Nell, along with their own villain, Snidely Whiplash, were just as entertaining:

They came from an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but eventually became separate characters.  I have to admit happily watching that show as a child as well.

Alex Anderson will be long remembered for bringing a lot of joy to people.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is there a future for email?

I've been thinking a lot about email recently.  We still use it all the time for work, but I've noticed that very little of my personal communications are via email.  Facebook and Twitter and texting have taken over. If I want to reach my daughters, I send them a text.  Same with Karen.  Same with my friends.  I suppose if I was younger I'd be doing it via Twitter.

So is email dying? Perhaps not:  Facebook wants its own email to be a Gmail killer.  Everyone wants their email to be more social.  And I can't walk away from my corporate email for 10 minutes without the inbox filling up; in fact, when I get on an airplane and lose contact for some number of hours, it is almost frightening how many new emails await me when I turn on my smartphone.

I guess it's still here - but it will be fascinating to see how it evolves.

Maybe Dilbert understands it the best:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Still on the road to No. 1

Yesterday was challenging, watching my long-suffering Golden Bears take on the No. 1 Oregon Ducks at Memorial Stadium.  The chance for Cal to knock off a top-ranked team is both rare and highly anticipated, and ordinarily Karen and I would have been crazy excited to see how close they got.  But of course we are huge Ducks fans now - Karen was even texting Sam during the game.

So Oregon holding on to win 15-13 was about as close as we could get to a double victory.  Cal held Oregon to season low scoring and rushing, but Oregon managed to save the lead (and its ranking) at the end.

Now it's on to play Arizona and Oregon State.  At least our allegiances won't be split.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Little Giraffe

So many commercials are bad ones.  I really like ones that are clever.

This is a pretty funny commercial for DirecTV, but the best part is the little giraffe at the end.  Watch for it - the giraffe appears before you realize it's there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sports transition

Now that the baseball season is over, Karen and I have switched over to watching Sharks games.  We like hockey as much as baseball (go figure), but it is always jarring to switch from one of these sports to the other.  Baseball is fairly slow; you can have the game on and be doing something else, and you never miss any of the action.  Hockey is much different - it's important to watch at all times, as things change so quickly and goals happen so fast.

Plus they fight in hockey!  When the spring comes around and we go back to baseball, we keep expecting to see the players take a swing at each other.

The Sharks have had some very good seasons, but no Stanley Cup yet.  We'll keep watching and hoping.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crunch 'n Munch is not Cracker Jack

Karen most decidedly does not have a sweet tooth. She rarely eats dessert, and when she does, it's usually only a bite.

But for some unexplained reason, she is a devotee of Cracker Jack.  We bought some the other day when she spotted it at a pharmacy, which caused her to ask how old it was.

It turns out Cracker Jack was invented for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.  The name was chosen when a sampler said "That's crackerjack," which meant "of exceptional quality."  It gained a fair amount of fame when it was mentioned in the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game, written in 1908.  And it has been a staple of baseball games ever since.

In 2004, the New York Yankees replaced it at Yankee Stadium with a similar item, called Crunch 'n Munch.  They quickly had to restore the Cracker Jack after their fans loudly complained

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dad Life (Father's Day Opening 2010)

It's the wrong time of year to think about Father's Day, but this is too great to miss:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A very impressive donation

The Ali Forney Center in New York is a shelter for homeless LGBT youth.  This is a very important cause, as they are able to help a lot of young people struggling mightily with so many troubles.  Like all charities these days, the Ali Forney Center doesn't have any strong sources of income, and it w/rks to stay open.

But when Bea Arthur died last year, she helped its cause.  In her will, she left the Center a cash donation of $300,000.  She had become aware of the Center and the issues facing LGBT kids through a friend, and over a number of years she had done a fair amount of work to raise consciousness about these issues.  So when she passed away, she would not let them be forgotten:

[Executive Director Carl ] Siciliano said he knew of Arthur's plan to include the center in her will, but never knew the amount.
He had been struggling to keep the doors of the shelter open. The organization assists more than 1,000 people each year, providing shelter for those who had to leave home "for being who they are," Siciliano said.
"The last year and a half, since the economic crisis started, it's been really hard to keep this program going," Siciliano said. "A lot of the foundation and corporate money that we used to get has dried up, and we've been growing. Every day, we have about 125 kids a night waiting to get into our housing."
But on Tuesday morning, a FedEx carrier delivered a $300,000 check.
Siciliano said he immediately started to cry. Arthur's donation couldn't have come at a better time.
"For months, I've been really sweating to make each payroll, and we're usually a month or two behind on our rent, and there have been times when I was afraid that I wasn't going to hold it together," he said. "That kind of terror of [trying to] keep this thing going has come to an end for now with this extraordinary generosity."

What a great act of kindness on her part.  She will be remembered for her acting, but there are a lot of people who will remember her for something more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spoils from the Giants' victories

The playoffs and the World Series were not just satisfying from the standpoint of a baseball fan.  I also managed to win a couple of nice bets.

My friend Megan is from Philadelphia, so she took her Phillies against the Giants in the NLCS.  I put up a pound of Ghirardelli chocolate; she put up an assortment of TastyKakes.  As you can see, she had to make a statement with the prize, sending along the Phillies tin:

But the inside was loaded with scrumptious TastyKakes, so I didn't mind:

The World Series called for a bit more of a bet, so my friend Kris and I decided to wager a bottle of scotch.  Like a good Texan, she also had to pay up - which she did very nicely:

If only I had bet on the Giants in Las Vegas during spring training.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prior to YouTube . . . .

Ok, so ironically it is on YouTube.  But this is an amazing video - filmed by Thomas Edison, while riding a train across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Mnahattan - in 1899!!

The Brooklyn Bridge is itself an engineering marvel, as beautifully explained in David McCullough's wonderful book "The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge."

(note - thanks for the correction, Barry)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An interesting idea for selling DVDs

Warner Bros. has come up with an interesting idea for selling off their supply of Blu-Ray DVDs.  They will take your existing DVDs in trade for Blu-Ray DVDs in their catalog.  There are few exceptions to what they will take, and the trade requires a payment as well, but most of them are only $4.95:

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Seems like an good way to improve a video collection (including getting rid of movies you don't want!).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Animal school

As a parent, I found this video very interesting.  It's long, but worth watching.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A wonderful idea for Paris

The item below is reprinted from http://www.mylittleparis.com/en/.  Sounds perfect - ready to go now.

Sometimes, even the Parisian purist gets tired of eating entrecote and gratin at the corner brasserie and feels like, you know, a little creativity. Does a blissful culinary voyage on a glamorous Paris rooftop sound appealing?

The Palais de Tokyo is once again making it happen. ART-HOME is a new adventure all about culinary creativity featuring cooking classes, visits and the Nomiya dining room. This one-table restaurant is nested in an ultra-contemporary architectural setting perched on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo, offering a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris.

Every day, 12 privileged patrons can discover the surprise menu, prepared right in front of them by the inspired chef, Gilles Stassart. What will it be? Cotton candy à la langoustine, foie gras marshmallows or pea-and –carrot île flottante?
You are also invited to unveil the secrets of the chef by taking an experimental cooking class in the Atelier. Or just stroll about the vegetable garden on another rooftop.

Every day reservation for 12 new guests opens on the website at 10 am sharp. The booking is made for exactly one month later. If you’re having a hard time reserving this prized meal, you can still do the free daily visit of the exhibition between 3 and 5.30 pm (upon reservation).

Palais de Tokyo, 13, Avenue du Président Wilson, 16th
Metro Iéna, Open Tuesday to Sunday
Lunch (60€) and dinner (80€), reservations for up to 12 guests 
Free visits from 3 to 5.30pm (upon reservation on the website)
Reservations for meals and visits on the Art-Home website

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary Susan and Barry!

Extra post today - it's the 20th anniversary for my brother Barry and my sister-in-law Susan.

Hope you two have a wonderful day today, and many, many more.



Last weekend Karen and I finally got to test-drive the Nissan Leaf:

Overall reaction - very positive.  The car is a bit quirky looking, but the inside is comfortable and well-designed. The drive feeling is excellent.  If you go in standard mode, it literally jumps from the start.  In Eco mode, designed to get a longer range, the car is a bit more sluggish, but fine overall.  And the dash is full of all sorts of geeky information:

Not bad at all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Champions!

I have waited  years and years for this:

8 years ago, the Giants had a 5-run lead in game 6 of the World Series.  Karen and I were having our rehearsal dinner for our wedding the next day.  It was the 7th inning, and somehow, the game unraveled, and the Angels won, and they won the Series the next day while we were getting married.

So last night, with a 3-run lead in the seventh, one could only hope.  But Lincecum buckled down, and Wilson set the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Giants won.

What a good feeling.

Monday, November 1, 2010

One game to go

Back in July or August,  if you had told me that the Giants would be one win away from a World Series title come Halloween, I would have laughed it off.  But it's true - just one more victory and the first championship for the Giants since 1954:

Lincecum and Cain scheduled next.  Feeling good about that.