Friday, August 29, 2003

OK Computo

After the debacle in trying to fix my dad's computer (in which both his and mine croaked), I finally went ahead and got a new one. It's a PC near the bottom of Dell's line, but I don't need a souped up computer, just something for storage and as a server. But then I thought it would be interesting to compare my brand spanking new 2003 computer with my first one from 1994.

manufacturer Quantex Microsystems Dell
Date ordered 3/24/94 8/27/03
Chip Intel Pentium P60 MHz Intel Celeron 2.2 GHz
RAM 8 MB 128 MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333MHz
OS DOS 6.2, WfW3.11 Windows XP
Optical drive 2x CD-ROM 4x DVD+RW/+R Drive w/CD-RW
Hard drive 420 MB 40GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM
Communications 14.4 Fax Modem Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
Video PCI Bus Paradise Video Integrated Intel 3D Extreme
w/ 1MB memory Graphics w/ 32MB DVMT
Printer HP DeskJet 550C, $330.50 Dell J740 Inkjet, included
(reg price $719) (reg price $79)
Monitor included not included
Price paid $3100.50 $518.52
(includes printer)

Holy crap, I can't believe I spent so much and got so little out of it! What I could get with $3100 today boggles the mind.....
Sandra Bullock Jewish! Rocket Power Naked! Rena Sofer Nude!

Can someone please tell me why people are asking these questions? I'm getting a handful of questions per week on a regular basis.

  1. Is Sandra Bullock is Jewish? Yes, she is. So is Jennifer Connelly. But why are you asking?
  2. What is Hitler's middle name? He didn't have one.
  3. Rocket Power Naked (or Nude) This one totally baffles me. Rocket Power seems to be some cartoon. Are you guys looking for nude pictures of cartoon characters? Whatever.
  4. Rena Sofer nude pictures Sorry, I don't have any. Good luck finding them. But why are you looking for her pictures and not, say, Sandra Bullock nude pictures or Jennifer Aniston nude pictures? Are you only interested in finding out if they're Jewish?
  5. Lesbian Spank Inferno Finally, something I get! I love BBC's "Coupling" and hope the US version is as good. Plus, it's got Rena Sofer (with clothes, though).

Monday, August 25, 2003

"Changes Aren't Permanent, But Change Is"

Rush, "Tom Sawyer"

I had to go out this weekend and buy a new glass jar for my matchbooks. I got several more at my recent trip to Vegas and finally couldn't fit any new ones in the old jar. So I took the opportunity to dump them all out on the floor and go through them.

I started thinking about why people collect matches (as well as other things) - it's a tangible link to something they've experienced. You can't bring the restaurant home with you, but you can look at the matchbook cover and remember what you were doing there and who you were with. But it's also a link to the past, there are plenty of matchbooks for places that don't exist anymore. And that makes you wistful and nostalgic.

  • Fizz (1989), a club in Houston on the Richmond Strip. Before that it was Hippo, after that who knows how many incarnations it's gone through. It was one of the very few places I dared to try to sneak into when I was in high school. I think we went to Fizz after our 5-year reunion. The book has spaces to write "name", "real phone #", "phony phone #", and "hobbies". I think it's currently aimed at the Hispanic market as "T-Town 2000".
  • Boardwalk Beach Club and Speedy's (1984-88) on 6th Street in Austin. Those were two of my favorite bars when I was in college. I used my fake Missouri drivers license to get in when I was a freshman and junior, and my regular ID when I was a sophomore and senior - the drinking age went up from 19 to 21 at the beginning of my soph year and Texas didn't grandfather anyone. Speedy's was a great piano singalong bar, I still have my copy of the lyrics sheets somewhere (probably still smells like beer). Boardwalk is currently Mekong Delta, a Vietnamese restaurant, while Speedy's is Gatsby's.
  • Magic Time Machine (1984-86) is still around, but only in Dallas and San Antonio. A great and fun place to go eat with a bunch of friends, with themed rooms and a salad bar built into a fire truck. Got a lot of people? Get an Orgy. You even get a pin with that Orgy (I still have mine). Landry's seafood took over the spot years ago.
  • Confetti (1984), a club in Dallas where all the college kids up for Texas/OU Weekend went to party. I drove up there with my roommate Bruce and another guy who was our friend at the time, and we ended up facing the wrong way on I-35 South on the way home when Bruce somehow oversteered and we did a 180. The two have nothing to do with each other but it's all part of the memory of the that weekend. The location is now a strip club.
  • A brown book of matches from my bar mitzvah (1979). I just turned 13. I don't think they were on the kids' table, but it was apparently still OK for the adults to smoke.
  • Eastern Airlines (1970's), from when it was still OK to smoke on airplanes. At the time, the now-defunct airline was "The Official Airline of Walt Disney World" - "We know the way to the Magic Kingdom." Apparently the way went through Chapter 11.
  • J. Larkin's (1988-93), where I spent practically every Friday afternoon and evening from 1988 to around 1993. My drinking buddies then are still for the most part my drinking buddies now. Happy Hour with quarter beers (14 would fit on a tray) followed an hour later by Power Hour with quarter you-call-its. It morphed into a huge dance club in another building - "J. Larkin's ConXion" - that died a couple years later. The original place is now an office, I think.
  • Premier (1991-1995?), the place we went to after Larkin's closed down. Used to be a movie theater before being renovated into a dance club. It had a few more incarnations before ending up as the Oriental Gourmet Restaurant, which you might recall as "Modang Food".
  • Pat O'Brien's (1990, 1994) in New Orleans. Finally, a place that's still here. This would have been either New Years Eve with Dave, Pete, Robin, and my sister, or the Final Four with my dad and my sister. One of my all-time favorite pictures of myself was taken at the New Years blast - I'm standing on a newspaper vending box with a giant Hurricane in my hand, my head just inches from the "Bourbon Street" sign.
  • Steve's Fajita Bar (1986) in Fredricksburg, one of the places we road-tripped to on Spring Break in 1986 (other stops being Astroworld and a campout at Canyon Lake near San Antonio). Tim Ager, Laurie Welch, Michelle Wayt, Michelle Watts, Maggie Buttemiller - if any of you are around, give me a holler! I have little memory of Steve's fajitas, but I remember having lots of fun that week.
  • The Roney Pub (1970's-84) in the Miami Beach area. It's still there, but it was one of the places we used to go with my great-grandmother whenever we'd see her every Christmastime. She died in 1984, right before my high school graduation, and I don't think I've been back since.
  • Coconuts (2000) in Cocoa Beach, Florida. We closed the place down one night in May 2000 while waiting for the launch of shuttle mission STS-101 - me, Kelsey, Doug, Dave and his wife, Lisa, and some guy Javy who kept hitting on another friend we were with. That was back in the good old days when we were still flying shuttles.
  • Cody's (1994) Jazz Bar and Grill in Houston. It's now Scott Gertner's SkyBar and Grille, but it was Cody's when I went on my first date there with Chris.

Amazing how a little piece of folded cardboard and some cardboard sticks with phosphorus at the tips can evoke such memories. Most of these places aren't around except in the memories of those who went there - and brought home a matchbook.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

"You Say It's Your Birthday ... It's My Birthday Too, Yeah"

Beatles, "Birthday Blues"

I should have posted something yesterday, it was my birthday. I celebrated by going out to Oriental Gourmet (aka "Modang Food", because they have mo' dang food than you can eat) for Chinese food and sushi. My fortune cookie told me "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom" (a quote borrowed from but not attributed to Gen. George S. Patton). It also told me my lucky numbers were 1, 6, 8, 32, 34, and 40, and that "zhe shi mian-fei ma?" means "is it free (no charge)?". I was hoping for something like "You will win the $20,000,000 jackpot next time you go to Las Vegas" but apparently someone else got that one. I couldn't even add the phrase "in bed" to the end of the fortune, that just makes no sense.

When you're in your 30's, you're at the age where you don't really want people to make a big deal about your birthday. But you're still secretly glad when someone does.
"My God... It's full of stars..."

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Great Blackout of 2003. So the northeast is blacked out tonight, fifty million people without power, worse than any other blackout in US history. My sister in Detroit is blacked out; her neighbors are holding an impromptu block party to grill and barbecue all their thawing meats. Good thing we went up there last weekend instead of this. Look for a statistical increase in babies born in May 2004.

I was born in August 1966 in Ohio (my birthday was just yesterday) and moved to New Jersey in 1973. Among my friends, more were born in August 1966 than in any other month. Not coincidentally, their parents were living in NJ the previous November, during the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965. My birthday really was a coincidence, as Ohio wasn't affected at the time.

I remember the July 1977 NYC blackout. Living in NJ we weren't affected directly, but I recall being really pissed off that the TV stations in NYC couldn't broadcast the shows that I wanted to watch (for some reason, I'm thinking it was a rerun of Charlie's Angels). We had to get the rabbit ears for the TV so we could watch a snowy picture come in from a Philadelphia station. There were an extra-ordinary amount of babies born in May 1978, too.

News articles using the New York Times wire services quote this one guy saying "You can actually see the stars in New York City." How long has it been since New Yorkers could see the stars while standing on the streets of Manhattan?

Friday, August 08, 2003

Detroit Rock City


I can't believe it's frickin' Friday already. Where did the vacation go?

Everywhere is / freaks and hairies / dykes and fairies / tell me where is sanity?

Ten Years After's song "I'd Like to Change the World" fits the scene at Venice Beach. Add to the mix shops and booths with bootleg t-shirts, toe rings, reggae, bongs cleverly labeled "for tobacco use only", cheap knockoff toys, henna tattoos, psychic readings, body piercing, street performers playing multiple instruments, spray-paint space-scapes, backward-walking breakdancing dwarves, handwriting analysis, political ranting, Eastern philosophy, muscle-bound bodybuilders, great sand, and pizza by the slice, and that's Venice. I love this place. I try to make a point to come here every trip out to LA just to see the freaks.

I met Amy for brunch Tuesday morning. I told her that I think she's the first person outside of my family that I've known for 30 years.

No time for Catalina, it's a 2-hour roundtrip and I wouldn't have had time to go there (for something like $35) and spend some time, then make it back to check in to a hotel and go see the TV show taping. Well, after checking into a hotel near the Burbank Airport I found that you need to be at the meet point two hours early if you want to see a taping, and I was there only an hour ahead of time. Oh well, after a sandwich at Canter's Deli I went sightseeing in the Hollywood area. Of course, there are more tourists from outside of LA than residents, but the whole city is so over-the-top that things like the Chinese Theater and its footprints just fit right in.

The Happie$t Place on Earth

I had decided to go to either Di$neyland (haven't visited since 1981) or Univer$al (not since 1995) on my trip this year. A little nudge from Chris' daughter Katy and the logistics of Chris' work place dictated that I'd have company at Di$neyland. Fortunately it was only one almost-13-year-old girl and not several. The best thing about the park is that it's smaller than Di$neyworld in Orlando, so it's much easier to do in just a day. Still, the park was crowded (on a summer day - go figure!) and I didn't get to go on a few rides due to the line length (90 minutes for Indiana Jones, 135 minutes for Splash Mountain) and using the FastPass option on other rides. Ah well, I'll save those for next time. I overheard one lady complaining to the main offices in City Hall that she wanted her money back because the park was too crowded - she actually said "You sold too many tickets for today!" We stayed until around closing time and didn't get home until midnight. At least I'm saving money on this trip, staying 3 nights at Chris' house.

Fluffy's Master Plan for World Domination

After a goodbye lunch near the famous Mission Inn in Riverside, I headed west for a few hours to kill before the Bobs concert. One of my other favorite LA places to go for free turned out to be closed until 2005 for overhaul and renovation - the Griffith Observatory inside Griffith Park. Then a ride down Melrose St. window-shopping from my car and a trip down Fairfax to Culver City for their Summer Sunset Music Festival. The Bobs sing a capella, with a musical selection ranging from Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" to the original "Fluffy's Master Plan for World Domination" (how cats are going to take over the world). Finally a ride to LAX (there's frickin' traffic on the 405 at 9 pm!) and the start of my airliner marathon.

The worst part of vacations is finishing them up. After a couple days in Detroit with family I have to go back to work. This was a welcome mental break from everything, and I got to see absent friends and spend time with those who I needed to spend time with. Even a couple of surprises along the way...

So it was 10:30pm to 11:30pm (PDT) flying LAX to LAS, followed by 1:30am (PDT) to 6:24am (CDT) flying LAS to IAH, followed by 7:35am (CDT) to 11:35am (EDT) flying IAH to DTW. At least I got a couple thousand extra frequent flier miles out of it.

Motor City Madness

Lunch with my sister and parents. Nap to try and recover from ~2 hours sleep on top of 3 hours jet lag. Dinner with my sister and her boyfriend - at the restaurant I got a free mini chocolate cake in honor of my birthday coming up on the 13th. Yay chocolate! Veg out, update the blog, and go to bed. Zzzzzzz.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Rocket Power Naked

New to the list of Things people have been looking for when they found this blog: Jennifer Connelly Jewish, rocket power naked, and computer science fuck.

I think both Rocket Power Naked and Computer Science Fuck would be good names for a rock band.
This ain’t no disco… this ain’t no country club, either… this is L. A.!

Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do"

Well, OK, it’s ain’t really LA either, it’s Murietta, but I can't think of any good song lyrics about Murietta (a city about halfway between LA and San Diego along I-15). One of these years I'd like to do is have some fun until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Blvd. I've had fun until the sun goes down over Santa Monica Blvd., though.

Vegas was fun as usual, though in addition to the typical summer heat we also had to deal with monsoons and flash floods on Thursday as some of the group members were getting into town (or not, due to delays). Highlights:

  • Checking into the Luxor via the VIP lounge, due to one of the group being a friend of a friend of a guy who works for Blue Man Group, and getting free tickets to the show
  • Seeing a guy throw $10,000 in cash onto the craps table at Bally’s, then walk away as the pit boss counted it all. While I was playing at the table, the minimum got raised from $5 to $100 (but I got grandfathered). Eventually I was the only one at the table, which is likely to be the only time I’ll ever play at a $100 craps table. The money guy was apparently so impressed with my betting and throwing that once his $10K chips were counted, he took them to another table, after which the table limit was dropped back to $5.
  • Mocking the Star Trek fans at the convention at the Las Vegas Hilton (but not to their faces). When Trek fans dress up in costume at a Trek convention it’s scary, but when they do it at the San Diego Comic Convention, it’s OK. Nobody in our group won the challenge to be seen gambling with a Trek actor, though I just missed out on a techinicality when I saw Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew because he’s a Star Wars actor and not a Star Trek actor. Last year I gambled with Garret “Ens. Harry Kim” Wang of Star Trek Voyager at the Palms, but apparently that doesn’t count since we didn’t realize who he was until the craps dealer pointed out who he was (after standing next to him for a couple hours).
  • Dinner at the Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio, our annual fancy-shmancy binge. It’s one of two 5-star places in Las Vegas, and it’s full of Picasso originals. The bill was 5-star, too - $990 for 6 people, including tax and tip. Our late dining hour meant that we were one of the last to leave the restaurant, and we had a great view of the famous Dancing Waters (which seemed to be nearly continuous) from our table.
  • Getting stuck in traffic IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING MOJAVE DESERT on the drive from Las Vegas to Murietta.

Overall for the weekend I “only” lost $135 playing craps and blackjack. My best session was winning $160 at the Las Vegas Hilton playing craps, my worst was losing $200 at craps at Bally’s.

So now I’m chilling at Chris’s house (a woman I’ve known since high school) for the day, a day of R&R after the weekend of late-night partying. Tomorrow morning is brunch with Amy (a woman I’ve known since First Grade in 1973) and then Thursday night I’ll hear her group The Bobs sing in Culver City. I’ll try to hit Venice Beach and Catalina on Tuesday afternoon and hopefully see a TV show taping on Tuesday night, and Chris’ daughter Katy wants me to take her to either Disney or Universal Studios on Wednesday if I have no other plans. I was thinking of going anyway – and how much trouble could a nearly-13 year old girl and her friends be?

Then Thursday night after Amy’s concert I head for LAX to catch a flight back to Vegas, so I can catch a 1:30 a.m. flight to Houston where I connect to a flight to Detroit. LA to Vegas to Houston to Detroit – lots of frequent flier miles but not the preferred itinerary for flying.