Thursday, July 31, 2008

My current favorite websites are the Polar Bears Cam at the San Diego Zoo and Pandora, an online radio that plays a cool selection of music, and that I was also able to download and access from my iPhone.

The San Diego Zoo polar bears are the happiest and most active zoo animals I've ever seen. There are three bears - brother and sister Kalluk and Tatqiq, and unrelated female Chinook. Before last year, when Chinook's sister , Shikari, died, they kept the bears separated into sibling pairs. They successfully introduced Chinook to Kalluk and Tatqiq, and the three bears seem to have a blast. The best time to watch them is in the morning or early afternoon. is way cool. Type in the name of a favorite artist, and they will set up a "station" for you with that artist, and similar artists' music.

My other current favorite form of entertainment is watching Season one of Californication, a Showtime original series starring David Duchovny, that I downloaded off of iTunes. The main character, Hank Moody, manages to fall into bed with a handful of nubile young beauties in every episode. How they've managed to find this many actresses in LA with natural breasts, I'll never know.

My final current, cheap thrill (besides that glass of pinot grigio from the bottle my downstairs neighbors bought me at the 99 cent store), is the eReader on my iPhone. One of the books it came pre-loaded with is Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's actually not too bad reading a book in that format. The print is clear, and you turn the page with a quick flick of the finger. Tarzan (or white ape in the ape language), is about 10 where I currently am in the book, and he just killed a gorilla with a knife he found amongst his parents belongings . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As a native Californian, I've grown up with earthquakes, so they just don't bother me that much. Since I was a young girl, I've been taught to get out of bed in the event of a quake and stand in the doorway. (A disproportionate number seem to come in the middle of the night - particularly the bad ones). There have been 2 major quakes in my life time. A quake centered in the San Fernando Valley in the early '70s, and the Northridge quake in the '90s. My condo in Santa Monica sustained a fair amount of damage with the Northridge quake which was all repaired thanks to insurance and FEMA (this was back in the days when the program apparently worked).
When the shaking first starts, these are the steps I follow:
1. Determine if it is a quake, or a big truck driving by.
2. Determine if it is a short shake, or if it is gaining momentum.
3. If short, stay where you are. If gaining momentum, think about moving into the doorway.
4. If lying in bed, remind yourself again why it's a bad idea to have a really heavy painting over your bed's headboard.
5. If at home, look at your dogs and wonder "shouldn't they have predicted this and warned me?"
6. Realize your dogs can only predict sunrise, because that means breakfast.
7. If at the office, take a perverse delight in watching your office mates LOSE ALL CONTROL because we are on the 9th floor and the building is swaying.
8. Be amazed that a building this big sways like it is engineered to do . . .

Monday, July 28, 2008

I spent a good part of a very lazy weekend catching up on my netflix dvds and dvr'd tv shows.

I am now an official member of the Mad Men cult. I had dvr'd all of the first season last weekend, and managed to watch all 13 episodes before the premiere of season two at 10 pm last night. I didn't much like the show after the first episode, but kept with it, and it definitely grew on me. A particularly interesting story line was the presidential race between JFK and Nixon. The Mad Men had the challenge of trying to sell the dull Nixon in the face of the charismatic JFK campaign. . . . sounds vaguely familiar. . . .

I also watched the 3rd and last season of Hamish MacBeth - a quirky BBC program from the mid-nineties. As I mentioned before, the west highlands scenery is spectacular, and I loved the unpredictable story lines.

Drum roll, please . . . .

This week's charity hat will be . . .


How was your weekend?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Meet Diesel. He is an 8 month old Patterdale Terrier. I hadn't heard of the breed before, but Diesel looks like a\ mix of a Jack Russell and a Pit Bull, but on the small side. He's about the size of 21 lb. Noodles. Diesel was intent on luring Hanna into play time, which isn't easy. Even in her younger days, she's never been all that interested in playing with other dogs. Now, at 8 1/2, she has little tolerance for puppies. She's not mean to them, she just clearly finds them slightly annoying.

But Diesel persisted, and Hanna did play with him. Here Hanna takes a break from the fun.

On a human note, Miss Prunella is on her tour of all the Southern California hot spots, and was kind enough to stop by Mayberry by the Sea to meet LA and me for dinner and drinks. Pru - we hope to see you again soon!

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGIF!!!! This week has been big time stressful, but some things have resolved enough for me to take a deep breath and come up for air.

I am typing this post with one hand so I don't have to interrupt scratching Noodles behind the ears.

Ok, she has let me off the hook for now.

I am trying to lure her into complacency because we just got the notice from the Vet that it is time for her annual shots. And this year, she has to get her rabies booster in addition to her 3 in 1. While Hanna LOVES going to the Vet (as my mom says, Hanna knows no strangers), Noodles is a bit more skeptical. Last year the Vet's assistant commented on how worried she looked as we bravely headed into the examination room. Both of the Vets are really, really gentle, and I stroke Noodles and tell her what a brave buckaroo she is. Meanwhile, Hanna will wait in the car, expecting the treat that Noodles won't eat, but that she will.
And I'm finally getting some more roses!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My second book for Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge is the epic Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. (Frazier is also the author of Cold Mountain. )

"Will Cooper is not William Holland Thomas," Frazier says in an author's note, and then adds, "though they do share some DNA." Like the real life William Holland Thomas, the fictional Will Cooper was born in North Carolina in 1805, was almost immediately orphaned, worked as a boy in a general store in the mountains, taught himself the law, worked to secure the right of the Cherokees to remain in their territory as Andrew Jackson sought to drive all Indians westward along the Trail of Tears, served in the state senate and organized a company of Cherokee soldiers on behalf of the Confederacy.

But while the book tells a tale that includes much fictionalized history spanning decades, at its heart, it is a love story between Will and the lovely Cherokee young woman, Claire. Will and Claire spend two blissful summers together in their teens, and although they are later separated, Will spends the next decades pining over what he has lost, and never marries.

I listened to this book, and the narration is nicely done. An added bonus was the lovely guitar and fiddle musical interludes between sections of the book.

If you liked Cold Mountain (which I also listened to as an audible book), you’ll also enjoy Thirteen Moons.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I knew it could be done . . . .

Last night while walking the dogs, my fantasy became a reality - at least for someone else. I saw a couple of motorcycles with sidecars coming down the street. The first was a man riding alone. The second was a young woman accompanied by her black dog, calmly riding in the sidecar, and wearing dog goggles!

This week's charity hat is green, (pardon the fuzzy photo), and probably will be donated to a shelter in Minnesota. Last week's hat is going to a shelter in Michigan. (Hi sage and karen!)

LA has been raving about the tv show Mad Men since it first came out, so over the weekend, I DVR'd the first season, and hope to catch up before the second season premieres this weekend. I'm getting to the point where I prefer to watch recorded shows rather than live ones, so I can fast forward through commercials - at least when I remember to do so.

This week looks possibly hectic at work - fingers crossed some things resolve themselves without my help.

Happy Tuesday, all!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I had a lovely weekend, and hope you did too! Some highlights:

  • Watching a large pod of dolphins frolicking in the surf during Saturday's surf contest
  • Putting together a bouquet of flowers from my garden, including Peruvian Lilies, roses and Calla Lilies, for my brother to take to his girlfriend
  • Seeing some friends I hadn't seen for awhile, including a couple I introduced who are now married with 2 kids
  • Catching up with a friend who just got back from a safari in Botswana
  • Lolling about in bed Sunday morning watching the British Open and working on the lace pattern in my sweater
  • Watching the Angels sweep a three game series with the Sox
  • Figuring out how to back up my computers to an external hard drive
  • Increasing my brain teaser score on a game I downloaded to my iPhone
  • Finishing Janet Evanovich's Two for the Dough, and starting Three to Get Deadly
  • Sitting on my front porch watching a woman meditate
  • Sitting on my front porch watching kids fly kites
  • Listening to the dogs snore

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My first completed hat for charity that hopefully will keep a person in need warmer this winter.
I downloaded the 2.0 upgrade to my iPhone today, and it is pretty cool. My phone is now more compatible with my work email, and also has some nice additions, like an eReader for reading books on the phone. In fact, you can download the complete works of Shakespeare for free!
I'm watching No Country for Old Men, and trying to decide if I can justify eating anything for dinner, having had a chili size and fries for lunch. I have to admit that it was worth every calorie and fat gram.
Most of my friends were knocked out of the surf contest in the first round of heats, but my brother made it to the second round, so was happy with that. The sun never came out today, and it's been chilly enough for a sweatshirt most of the day.
And since I read No Country for Old Men, I know this will movie will not have a happy ending . . .
Yes! And not a moment too soon. Approximately 120 wolves have been shot and killed since the ban was lifted in March.
A federal judge has restored endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, derailing plans by three states to hold public wolf hunts this fall.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula granted a preliminary injunction late Friday restoring the protections for the wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent. The region has an estimated 2,000 gray wolves. They were removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort.

Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision, arguing wolf numbers would plummet if hunting were allowed. They sought the injunction in the hopes of stopping the hunts and allowing the wolf population to continue expanding.

"There were fall hunts scheduled that would call for perhaps as many as 500 wolves to be killed. We're delighted those wolves will be saved," said attorney Doug Honnold with Earthjustice, who had argued the case before Molloy on behalf of 12 environmental groups.

In his ruling, Molloy said the federal government had not met its standard for wolf recovery, including interbreeding of wolves between the three states to ensure healthy genetics.
"Genetic exchange has not taken place," Molloy wrote in the 40-page decision.
Molloy said hunting and state laws allowing the killing of wolves for livestock attacks would likely "eliminate any chance for genetic exchange to occur."
The house may be a bit of a zoo today, and the porch busy. There is a surf contest going on today in which a bunch of guys I know are participating. Two guys have already told me that their wives and kids will be around later, and to some extent, I'll be expected to play hostess when people get tired of being on the sand or need to use the bathroom.

In the mean time, Samantha enjoys the view from my lap, and I am left to ponder how Hanna acquired a bright yellow stain on her side.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I saw the Dark Knight today, and it is very, very cool. The action sequences are simply phenomenal, and the actors are across the board excellent. The star of the movie is definitely Heath Ledger as the Joker. He's pretty much unrecognizable with the strange mannerisms, heavy make up and nasally voice covering up his good looks and Aussie accent. Compare this performance with the quiet cowboy in Brokeback Mountain, or the tortured soul in Monster's Ball, and you realize how great an actor he truly was.

Christian Bale is the best Batman to come down the pike in a very long time. It took me many years and many movies to get past thinking of him as the American Psycho, but now I think he's sexy as all hell as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. I loved Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.

The movie is 2 1/2 hours long, but I never checked my watch once. The plot is more or less irrelevant, since all that matters is the the hunt for the Joker, and the Joker's hunt for the Batman. I also liked that the violence is kept to a PG13 level, but look for the disappearing pencil trick.

Oh, and the previews for the new James Bond look off the charts!

I'm exhausted. And this is to blame . . .

The last few summers, I have been stalked at night by a single, annoying, relentless, mosquito. This results in me spending an hour or two listening to the irritating buzzing noise until it stops at which time I flail my arms and rub my face to hopefully dislodge it from wherever it has alighted. If I could be guaranteed that: it wouldn't bite me in the face; and it would die a horrible death after sucking my blood, I'd let it do its dirty work.
At 2:40 am I finally got up and sprayed myself from head to toe in Deet laden bug spray and went back to bed thinking that at this point, I could have gone to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight and gotten just as much sleep. If I thought they'd let me into the theater in my jammies and with a big blanket, I probably would have gone.
I don't know where the skeeter comes from. As far as I know there are no pools of standing water anywhere except by bird bath and I empty it and re-fill it every day.

All I know is that Noah missed his opportunity.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you ever wonder who eats certain food items? Every day when we walk through town, we find a few slim jim wrappers. Smelling like a meat substance, they always attract the attention of the dogs. I've never personally eaten a slim jim (though I do like beef jerky), and I don't think I've ever seen anyone else buy or eat a slim jim . . . so where are all these wrappers coming from?

Amazon is marketing "Kindle" which it describes as:

"Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper—and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both "lefties" and "righties" can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

And because we know you can't judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out—if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read. "

We're very proud to introduce Amazon Kindle and we hope you like it as much as we do. "

Me again - besides the price - $359 - I'm not sure if this is a good thing, or a bad thing. I guess reading in the bath tub would be a thing of the past . . .

What do you think?

They say that all politics are local . . .

I live in the 46th Congressional District in California, home to one of the worst Congressman in the country, Republican Dana Rohrbacher. Trust me, I'm not the only who thinks so (even my Republican colleagues don't disagree) . . .

According to

"David Brooks, an influential conservative pundit and frequent contributor to the New York Times called him a “blithering idiot.” In 2002, a story in the OC Weekly exposed a pre-9/11 meeting between Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and a delegation from the Taliban, forcing him to respond publicly on television. He supports requiring hospitals to report patients it suspects of being foreign nationals to immigration officials—a policy health-care workers regard
as anathema. And recently, he joined others in Congress who are calling for the government of Iraq to help finance the U.S. military’s occupation of that country. The last request is particularly ironic, since prior to voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq, he claimed, “this job in Iraq will be easier than what happened in Afghanistan.”

"The list of embarrassments goes on and on. And yet, through it all, Rohrabacher as managed to hold onto his seat in Congress for ten terms. But that may all change this year if one Orange
County politician has anything to say about it. Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook
has won the nomination to run as the Democratic candidate challenging the incumbent
of the 46th Congressional district. Should she succeed in November, Cook would be the
first Democrat to do so in the heavily gerrymandered district since it was redrawn in

According the mailings I get from Rohrbacher, the number one issue that he sees facing not only California, but the country? What is the one issue he's working on full time? It's not the war, the economy or the environment. According to Rohrbacher, the number one injustice in America is that two Border Guards were arrested and are facing trial for shooting and killing three unarmed Mexicans attempting to enter the country. His number one goal is to have them released and acknowledged as the heroes that they are.

So imagine my delight when I noticed a few Debbie Cook for Congress signs around the neighborhood as I was walking my dogs yesterday. I had picked up a sign myself on Monday at the local Democratic Club. The Cook Political Report, an independent non-partisan publication that analyzes political campaigns across the country, today upgraded the 46th Congressional District from a “solid Republican” to a “likely Republican” district.

Can she win? I think it is unlikely, but it's nice to know she has a chance. The last time a long time local GOP representative was defeated was when Loretta Sanchez defeated Bob Dornan in 1996, at least partly on the coattails of Bill Clinton. Here's hoping that Obama's popularity trickles down . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I ordered some tickets on Ticketmaster today, and received a gift certificate for two free downloads on iTunes.

Any suggestions? Something new that keeps running through your head? An oldie but goodie that everyone should have on their iPod?

Let me know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So I got started on my first Knitters for Obama charity cap. Yesterday I picked up a bunch of yarn in a washable wool blend, and in the mandatory masculine colors. It's coming along pretty quickly, and is a nice semi-mindless alternative to the lace pattern on my sweater. Hopefully, I'll get a few hats and scarves knitted between now and Labor Day, otherwise my male friends, relatives and slight acquaintances will once again receive knitted items from Auntie Diane for Christmas.
Currently on my reading list are Thirteen Moons by Charles Frasier (for Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge) on my iPod, Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich in hard copy, and Swan Peak by James Lee Burke in my car. Oddly enough, both audible books are read by the same man, Will Patton. Fortunately, I enjoy his reading style. Actually, I'm enjoying all three books and will post my review for the challenge hopefully this weekend.
I'm excited about a couple of movies coming out - The Dark Knight and the X-Files movie. Ok, so the only two movies I saw in the theater all of last year were Into the Wild and Lars and the Real Girl, but I'd like to check out Heath Ledger as the Joker this weekend.
The All Star Game is in extra innings and I don't care enough to see if the American League can pull out a win. Say good night Gracie!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mid-day Sunday report card:

Saturday's To-do list update -

walk - eh - just enough to keep the dogs happy - planning to try for a longer walk this afternoon

gym - nope

bike - nada

movies - Michael Clayton, and half of Eastern Promises (the sad, sad, pitiful truth is that I turned it off about 11 pm knowing we'd be up at 5:30 am today)

knit - making decent progress on my sweater

mani/pedi - Yes! my toes and fingers look beeyooteeful!

Em's photos (I told my niece I'd get her photos from NYC printed up) - done! (oh, and while I was waiting for the one hour photo to finish, I had some yummy fish and chips and beer at the sports bar next door)

beach - nah - a bit cool and windy

read - yes! on the back deck where it is less cool and windy

go to the office to pick up files to work at home on Monday - the girls and I made that trek this morning

red velvet cupcakes - got the ingredients! (and also picked up the ingredients for some thai chicken [marinating] with a spicy peanut sauce - done!)

One of my favorite groups on Ravelry is Knitters for Obama.

(KFO has 1889 members - while the McCain Ravelry group has 165 members - take that John!). Because there are members from all over the country (and all over the world), it's interesting to read about the political climate in all parts of the country. But what is amazing to me is how involved these (mostly) women are in the political process on a grassroots level, but also the creative ways they find to contribute. For instance, one knitter - who lives in Canada - has found a way to contribute to the campaign - if you donate 10 dollars to the Obama campaign (and then send her the confirmation), she gives you 10 dollars off her new colorway - "Tides of Change". I made my contribution, bought my discounted skein, and plan to use it to knit up a cool pair of socks!

There is also a very organized group within Knitters for Obama gathering knitted items (hats, scarfs, mittens), to donate to shelters caring for homeless veterans around the country. I'm hoping to contribute a hat or scarf or two to his worthwhile endeavor.

I hope your weekend has been nice, too!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An added benefit of my bird feeder the last two summers has been the sunflowers that spring up from sunflower seeds dropped by the birds into my potted plants. I've never had any luck trying intentionally to grow sunflowers, but these volunteers are pretty hardy.

I guess I have a reputation for having a bit of wanderlust, because although I've been on two vacations in the last six weeks, I've had a couple of people ask me this week when I'm taking my next trip. I don't have anything planned, but I do have a couple ideas.

I've thought about maybe hitting Italy in the fall. It's been 21 years since my last trip to Europe. My, how time flies . . . This remains a possibilty, circumstances permitting.

More typical of how I come up with vacation plans though, is the following. I enjoy the Scotland based mysteries of M.C. Beaton featuring Hamish MacBeth, set in the Scottish Highlands. I learned through my membership in a fans of British Mysteries group on Ravelry that the BBC made a series of tv shows starring Robert Carlyle as MacBeth. I've watched the first two series, and should have the third series from Netflix today. It's a quirky show about a small Scottish town in the Western Highlands, and the scenery is simply spectacular. The show is shot in the Lochalsh/Skye region of Western Scotland, and I'm strongly thinking about planning a trip there next summer. (Having spent a summer in Edinburgh, I wouldn't think about taking a walking trek In Scotland in the winter . . .).
This is my "to do" list for the weekend - most need no explanation:
movies (I watched Michael Clayton last night)
em's photos (I told my niece I'd get her photos from NYC printed up)
go to the office to pick up files to work at home on Monday
However, I'm setting my goals pretty low for this weekend . . .
and thanks to Edit, I may add baking red velvet cupcakes to the list.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

From the Associated Press:

A Japanese labor bureau has ruled that one of Toyota's top car engineers died from working too many hours, the latest in a string of such findings in a nation where extraordinarily long hours for some employees has long been the norm.

In the two months up to his death, the man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month, according to Mizuno.

So as a reminder to stop and smell the roses, plumeria and jasmine . . . today's triumvirate of flowers are from my three hibiscus bushes . . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

All three of my plumeria are in bloom. The first flowers belong to my oldest and dearest plant - a plumeria I bought in 1995. It has the sweetest smell of the three. I bought this second plant a few years ago, primarily for the deep pink color . . .
This is my most recent plumeria, and it has a cinnamon scent . . .
Robert Crais is one of the top mystery crime novelists around. I started listening to his latest book - Chasing Darkness - yesterday after work and I've been listening to it every free moment since then. So I will have spent 7 of the past 26 hours listening to the entire book. If you like that genre I highly recommend it.
I saw my first "McCain" bumper sticker in town today while walking the dogs . . . looks like it's time to break out my "Obama '08" sign!

Monday, July 07, 2008

It was an interesting weekend . . .

A plane made an emergency landing on the beach on the 4th . . .

Cameron Diaz rode by my house on a bicycle . . .

Sunny, the 18 month old Golden Retriever, came to visit . . .

I finally got the hang of the simple lace pattern on my sweater . . .

And while I was having dinner with my mother and brother yesterday, with Hanna, Samantha and Sunny sitting around the table, a mourning dove flew in through the open sliding glass door, over the heads of all of us, and flew out the open windown next to the kitchen table.

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July! Don't forget to be safe and sane!

The 4th is starting out foggy here at the beach . . . it's 9:30 am, and I can still hear the fog horn blowing . . . hopefully, the weather will stay cool, and the beach won't get too crazy. As a general rule, the 4th is the worst day of the year to live at the beach . . . I parked my car last night, and won't move it again until tomorrow . . . This is the loot that resulted from shopping in NYC. Cotton yarn for a sweater, Kureyon Sock yarn, and a cool pair of sandals! I've worn the sandals twice already this week.

I hope you all get to see some spectacular fireworks, and that no fires result therefrom . . .

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

We had a great time in New York City . . .

Strawberry Fields . . .

Metropolitan Museum of Art . . .

Central Park Zoo . . .

Subway . . .

Top of the Rock . . .

Empire State Building . . .

Statue of Liberty . . .

Brunch in the Park . . .

Gay Pride Parade . . .

Now, back to work!