Thursday, June 30, 2005

Not all Lenscrafters are created equal

I should've known that the Lenscrafters at Paseo Colorado (a rather upscale shopping center on...duh...Colorado Blvd) would have been expensive. I went there hoping I could get a deal on some glasses since my health insurance covers an eye exam, but not the actual eyewear. But alas, I didn't take into consideration the fact that though a mall Lenscrafters is usually pretty cheap, one in a shopping center that caters to affluent Angelinos might not have the most affordable selections. Every single frame in the place was brand-name (the absolute dirt cheapest ones I could find were $40, but they were few and far between) - Versace, Ray Ban, Chanel, etc. And they weren't even all that thrilling! I didn't find any that were just right, in spite of the enormity of the hoity-toity collection. And never mind that the lenses themselves cost on average $80-$100 more than what Kaiser charges for the same thing. So yeah, lesson learned. Maybe I'll try the mall over the weekend, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Random sighting while leaving the Paseo: a cat in a stroller! Its owner had wandered off to window shop nearby, and the cat was just chilling in the stroller. It was extremely odd.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Book Review: Two by Bryson

Bill Bryson is a travel writer. Two summers ago (or is it three, now?) I started reading his non-travel, sciency tome, A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is mostly about, well, natural history, with a not insignificant amount of information on natural disasters and how we're all going to die when there's an eruption at Yellowstone. (I eventually quit reading this book at night after the aforementioned disaster section.) Anyway, I never got around to finishing A Short History, and the next time I picked up a Bryson book was a few months ago, when I read In a Sunburned Country, a book about Australia.

In a Sunburned Country was fascinating and hilarious. It had me laughing aloud more than a few times, and quite uproariously at that. The book chronicles Bryson's two-part excursion through the north and south of the continent, as well as a trek through the Outback, and all along the way he relates a ton of random facts and observations. He tosses a lot of history into his writing, also, so there's plenty for the reader to learn in between the hilarity and fluff. An A+ of a book as far as I'm concerned, with a healthy combination of entertainment and education.

Earlier this week I finished up A Lost Continent, written in the late '80s (I just discovered today, in fact, that this was Bryson's first book) while Bill drove through 38 states in the continental US in search of "the perfect small town." There are still humorous moments, but the voice in this book is quite a bit more biting and cynical on the whole than that of his later books (or at least of Sunburned Country). Bryson may well have been joking around when expressing his extreme distaste for various segments of society (the elderly, the RV-driving men with their fat and homely wives, Shriners, southerners...), but his bitterness eventually became tiresome to me. Though the book was amusing enough, I was glad by the end to be done with it. I will say, however, that his description of the Grand Canyon makes me want to go see it, something I've never had any overpowering desire to do before, so there's that. B-/C+ overall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tell me a fable...

For my birthday, one of the gals in the lab gave me a gift card for Best Buy, so on Sunday I used it to pick up the Xbox game Fable. As you go through the game, your character's actions determine whether he stays on the side of good (saves the villagers from bandits, various creatures, etc.) or turns to evil (joins in with the baddies and basically becomes a thug). Regardless of the path you choose, the goal is to gain power and become more renowned, which you can do whether people love you or fear you. It's pretty entertaining so far. I haven't strayed from the path of good just yet, but I may start a second character and see how much trouble I can get into. ;)

So aside from Sunday afternoon/evening (which consisted of playing Fable, of course), it was a pretty typically lazy weekend. Friday night, Tom & I went out to dinner for my birthday and ate tasty Indian food. It's expensive, but oh so very delicious. Saturday morning my dad called, so it was nice to talk to him for a little while. :) Then the afternoon was spent reading and watching the first several episodes of Season 4 of The West Wing (one of my b-day presents from Tom). Man, I love that show.

All right, that's about all that's new and exciting around here. Back to work...

Friday, June 24, 2005

More b-day blogging...

Went out to the Chinese buffet with the co-workers for lunch. You know how sometimes there's a Chinese vocabulary word on the back of the fortune cookie fortune? Well, the word on my fortune today...



There's a cake on my desk

Some of my co-workers are pretty big on the birthday thing, so when I arrived at work this morning, there were balloons tied to my phone and a cake on my desk. It's very sweet of them, but now I'm stuck with the allure of cake squarely within nostril range. I lasted almost an hour without digging into it, but eventually I succumbed. I pried off the plastic cover and held it back with my right hand while I dug out a chunk of cake with a fork in my left hand. Probably oughta've done that the other way around. Now there's cake on my desk...and on the arm of my chair...and on the floor. It's amazing how one tiny forkful can make such a mess if it breaks apart halfway (okay, a quarter of the way) to one's mouth. ;)

I think I'll go put the cake in the fridge now...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

One year down...

...just a few more to go (a few more spent in L.A, anyway).

Well, it was a year ago today that I moved back to SoCal after a good 12 years as an Oregon gal. Now I've been a resident of each state for half my life. Kind of odd when I think about it that way. I would say the bulk of my formative years were spent in the verdant north, though, so I think I'll always consider the northwest my home.

A lot has happened this past year. I got my first "real" job, I was here for L.A.'s second wettest winter in recorded history, I visited with a cousin whom I hadn't seen in a decade and a half, another cousin graduated high school, one of my best friends had a baby, my dad took a job in the Middle East, and Tom & I got our own place. And that's just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. ;)

Here's hoping things stay interesting in the coming year - but not too interesting...yes, I'm talking to you, o earthquake gods... ;)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

What's up now, bitches?

Aunt Teresa & her "bling-bling"

Wha-haaaaaa! *splash*

Today was the company picnic, held at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. It was a pretty cool deal - free admission to the water park, all-you-can-eat bbq buffet, plus a free Magic Mountain ticket.* Inside the water park, there's a little private picnic area just for this sort of gathering, so we made a quick pass to check it out. It was pretty packed, but I only saw maybe 4 or 5 people I knew from work (a lot of folks brought a lot of family members), so we stayed long enough to grab some snackage and then went out to ride some slides.
*Valid Sep - Dec 2005 only

Neither Tom nor I had ever been there, so we didn't really know what the park had to offer. We tried some kick-ass straight-drop slides (and winced at the enormous wedgies that inevitably accompany slides of that sort) and then moved on to the inner-tube slides. There's a really cool new(ish) one called The Tornado, for which you use a 4-person tube shaped like a cloverleaf. You get dropped into this giant sideways funnel thing and go whizzing up one side and then the other until you finally end up in the pool at the bottom. It was pretty awesome, so we rode it twice. Both times Tom ended up going down the initial drop completely backwards, which must have been intense.

The only downside was that it was kind of a windy day, so standing in the lines all soaking wet was frequently quite unpleasant, but we'll have to go back when the summer's at its hottest. Sure, the lines will be twice as long, but at least we won't be shivering while we stand in them. ;)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Gradjitation Day

Shortly after the quakiness yesterday afternoon, it was time to go to Simi for my cousin Jennifer's high school graduation (I had *cough, cough* stayed home from work). Jenn's the valedictorian of her class, so she got to follow in her ol' cousin's footsteps and give a speech. She did very well. She got a big medallion for her accomplishment, with which Aunt Teresa paraded around later at Marie Callender's, not unlike a rapper sporting some heavy-duty bling. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, and dinner at MC's afterward with the family was of course entertaining, so a good day all around. :)

Solidly on Shaky Ground

Yesterday I felt my first earthquake since I moved back down here almost a year ago (it'll be a year next week sometime). It was just a 4.9, centered about 70 miles southeast of here in Yucaipa, but we still got a pretty good jolt. Felt like the ground was just twitching at first, and then the walls and dishes rattled for a few seconds (at which point Leo leapt off the back of the couch and tore into the much for animals sensing these things before they happen). This quake followed a 5.something temblor on Sunday morning (which I slept through) centered near Palm Springs, two 3.somethings on Monday afternoon (I was driving, didn't feel 'em), and that tsunami-warning-evoking 7.0 off the coast of Crescent City on Tuesday. I heard on the news this morning that there was a 6.4 aftershock up there late last night. And those are just the quakes we've had in the U.S. this past week; there was a big one in Chile on Tuesday (7.9 or 8.0, killed 11 people), and another 5.something aftershock in Indonesia. Big doin's, man. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Because sometimes you feel like a nut...

I found this shirt at Target this weekend and couldn't pass it up.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Na Nanana Na!

Some quick observations to start with:

  • OK Go had way too short a set. They played for about 15 minutes and were awesome.
  • The second opening band (I think they were "collectively known as Jason Faulkner"...something Faulkner, anyway) played for half an hour, which was 29 minutes too long.
  • There were a lot of kids at the show. I'm not sure exactly how old they were, but I know I wouldn't have been allowed to go to concerts alone at that age.
  • We actually remembered to get some ear plugs this time, and they were wonderful! Horray for pain-free ears!

  • So OK Go was the main reason we were going to the show in the first place, since Tom & I have liked them for a while. They certainly didn't disappoint, particularly with their absurdly entertaining coreographed lip synch/dance number at the end of the set. I know they were just an opening band, but I wish they'd played more songs. Particularly in light of the hideousness that immediately followed.

    I'm probably being a bit harsh on the WhateverFaulkner band; they were good with the singing and the playing of instruments, and they seemed genuinely to want to put on a good show, but boy-oh-boy do they need to work on their songwriting. One of the more memorably bad lyrics was the attempted rhyme "I'm your neighbor, can you do me a favor?" Several songs started out all right - seemed promising, etc. - but Tom said it best when he likened them to bad SNL sketches. They start well, but then they drag on and on...and on. As they announced their last song, we were not the only people in the audience who cheered the fact that they'd be done soon.

    And then there were the Kaiser Chiefs, who were as entertaining as the previous band wasn't. The lead singer was completely amped, leaping around the stage, flinging the mic stand into the air, stage diving, and just generally putting on a great show. They played well, and I left the show liking them even more than I had before.

    All right, I think that's all I've got to say for now. Yawn. Off to bed.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    Catblog Shout-out

    I have been way too amused by the recent posts over at The Cat Pack, particularly Frankie's latest. Check 'em out for a laugh.

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    Falling Behind

    Hmm...seems I've let a week slip by between posts. I guess that's sort of a good thing - means the week has gone by quickly and that I've been reasonably busy. Let's see. Last weekend was a nice one. Saturday was spent lounging and watching a MythBusters marathon. That's a highly entertaining show.

    On Sunday, Tom & I slept in and then drove up to Mt. Wilson to visit with Aunt Colleen and Scott, who were in town for a few days. We got the grand tour of the observatory (photos here), spent several hours hiking around and visiting, and we even saw a bear! There was a big ol' brown bear just loping through the woods. Sadly, s/he was going so fast that we couldn't get our cameras out in time to snap a photo, but it was still neat.

    It's been a fairly busy work week for me, and I'm glad it's nearly over. Tom & I have tickets to see OK Go and the Kaiser Chiefs on Saturday, so that's exciting. I hadn't heard of the Kaiser Chiefs (Scottish band) until I read about this concert (OK Go is a band we've liked for a while, and they're opening for the other guys), but I picked up their CD a few weeks ago and it's pretty good. So it ought to be a fun show. :)

    I've started running again; I'm not sure I'm technically allowed to say that until I've gone more than the two times I've managed thus far, but let's just chalk it up to optimism. My legs and hips have been protesting mightily this week, but I know I stopped being sore after a while when I was running on a regular basis before, so I'll just keep at it. I may not like to run, but I do like being in reasonably good shape.

    All right, off to the post office, then Gram Gram's, and then home. I'm sure I'll be posting again after the concert, so check back in a few days for a review. :)

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    "Hang on a sec." *flush* "You were saying?"

    David Sedaris told a story on an episode of This American Life a couple of years ago about a man placing a cell phone call from inside a stall in an airport men's room. This later leads to a very funny bit about being on the phone with his sister, who is pretending to work hard at opening a jar of pickles, but that's not really the point of this post. The point is this: People should not place phone calls from the restroom at their places of business. It's just weird.

    I bring this up because I experienced this very thing at work today. I shut my stall door and heard "What?" from the other stall. I didn't reply, and she soon continued talking, yammering away as if she were sitting on her couch at home. Now, I'm not going to say that I haven't made a quick pit stop while talking to family on the phone, but I'm not really thrilled about the idea of this woman's friend having to listen to me pee. And of course the automatic reflex of trying to be respectful and quiet while someone's on the phone kicked in, leaving me momentarily with the awkward predicament of trying to decide if I should flush the toilet or wait for her to finish her conversation. I didn't dwell on this too long, however, coming rapidly to the conclusion that it was her own damned fault to place a phone call in such a public and potentially noisy place!

    Freaking crazy yeah, that's all I have to say about that.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Blasts from the Past

    Over the last couple of weeks, I've been reading some great books from my youth (and a couple that I didn't read as a youngster, but should have). Tom & I bought the classic Madeleine L'Engle Time Quartet (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters...I'd never read the latter two), as well as Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, which I first read in fifth grade and made a point of picking up every so often thereafter until about high school. They were quick, thoroughly enjoyable reads, and I was glad to have rediscovered some really excellent stories that I'll be excited to pass on to my own kids someday.

    The long weekend was otherwise uneventful. The scathingly warm weather seems to have retreated somewhat, for which I'm grateful. We did go see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on Sunday night (see Tom's post about it here), but aside from that, I think we only made it out of the apartment once, briefly, to run some errands. The rest of the time we lazed around in the relative cool, reading, doing crosswords, playing cards, etc. It was nice.

    And now turning 180 degrees on the excitement scale, my grandparents found themselves in the midst of some undesired hubbub yesterday morning when cops followed a crazed gunman into the Simi Valley WalMart where my grandma was shopping. In my grandpa's words, "Grandma went in and I was parked
    right outside the front door...only ten minutes went by before a police helicopter almost landed on my roof, police cars came pouring in, two parked right in front of my car with doors open and shotguns pointed at the front door. All hell broke loose and the police were screaming at people to get of the store and run, run, run." Fortunately, my grandma got out of the store unscathed. Thank goodness!

    All righty, that's the latest. Back to work I go...