Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gratitude for lack of gratuity

I'm not one to write reviews of restaurants or hotels or any of the other myriad things that can be reviewed on myriad internet outlets. In large part, I don't perceive that my tastes and standards are necessarily such that they're really applicable to the general public (I'm not saying they're better—in fact, I'm implying that they're worse, but let's move on), and in even larger part it's because my brain doesn't tend to think of such experiences in terms that would make for a pithy assessment. And by eschewing reviewing things I also avoid my brain's tendency to overanalyze; you see how these posts go when I'm merely blathering on about whatever pops to mind, without specific focus when I start, so imagine how out of control attempting a review could get.

So what follows is not a review.

Actual view from our patio.
When recently we vacationed in Maui we spent the first two nights in Hana, at the only resort in that small town on the eastern side of the island: the erstwhile Hotel Hana (now called Travaasa, as it was just bought by that company which is now a chain of two—its other facility is apparently in Austin). I will note that we had a splendid time, and were I inclined to offer a review I would recommend it if one were considering a stay there. Spring for the extra bucks and get one of the cottages with the ocean view.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Passing along Freakonomics' Scionology to another generation

A recent Freakonomics episode from earlier this month (not the latest one), "The Church of Scionology," talked about the prudency of nepotism for companies. Was passing along the reigns to the company to a scion the best thing for the business?

Overall, the answer: It can be, but not always.

Monday, August 29, 2011

VMO from the VMA's

It's never been our inclination to watch the VMA's, but last night we did flip by and catch a little bit of the broadcast. A large part of why we don't watch it stems from how we don't really follow contemporary pop music like we used to, and don't feel the need to see a bunch of artists with whom we are unfamiliar accept awards for songs we never heard in the first place. That is not something we would actively choose to spend our TV-watching time on.

But still keeping up with pop culture to some extent we weren't above having it on in the background when there wasn't really anything else on.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking out for taxis

When I am a pedestrian (which I am with some frequency) I try to be assertive when crossing the street (when I have the right-of-way) but two vehicles I don't mess around with are buses and, even moreso, taxi cabs. Cab drivers tend to operate their vehicles with a recklessness that makes conceding to them—even if I'm the one with the green light—seem the prudent course of action.

However, when I am a passenger in a taxi, with the meter running, what I want is that maniac on the other side of the plexiglass who's just barely on the side of not killing anyone but keeping the fare from going any higher than necessary.

It's hideously inconsistent, I know.

It's fascinating how perspective utterly changes depending on circumstance.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fixing the economy. Or not.

On a recent Dan Carlin "Common Sense" podcast (and I cannot help but suspect this latest listening discovery of mine is something that others who are better in-the-know have known about for a while, but such is the way things go; one knows of what one knows of), he talked about the erosion of the American middle class and how he believed in economic nationalism as the way to address that issue.

In a nutshell, that means each country should do what's best for its citizens economically, which he admits is viewed as naïve by those who understand the global economy that we have. It's not that isolationism is what we should do; the American legislature merely should be primarily looking out for America first. And by that what's suggested is doing what it would take to get American employers to pay their employees a wage that allows them to have a middle class lifestyle; having crappy, low-paying jobs that lift people only out of unemployment and into the "working poor" is not going to allow for the continuation of what has come to be seen as the "American way of life."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Solving the issue of sexual harassment

After sitting through a presentation on sexual harassment in the workplace recently, the conclusion I drew was if humans who work could simply not have sex (nor aspire to have sex, nor attempt to exhibit dominance through the pursuit of sex, etc.) then there would never be another sexual harassment lawsuit.



So, for the many Americans who find themselves out of work and unable to find a job, you can take some solace in knowing that you probably could be as sexually harassing as you want to be and get away with it; there's no potential for the creation of a hostile workplace environment if there's no workplace environment.

I'm not encouraging that sort of behavior, of course, but hey, if you're really desperate for a silver lining and you're an unemployed asshole who has no other outlet for those hideous inclinations, you may be heartened to realize you might be able to get away with it.


I probably should have paid closer attention to some aspects of the presentation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The unnecessary tale of how I wasted the summer of '95 (because I didn't have the internet)

Warning: Maximum self-indulgence is found in what follows.

Part of the beauty of the online experience is the ease of sharing. That's not saying that all sharing is equally worthy of being shared, but without any printing presses or broadcasting networks involved, and the availability of free blogs and Twitter/Facebook accounts, etc., it's not such that even if nobody reads what was shared it cost much.

With internet access (which too can be found at no cost if one tries) and the most important freebie—free time—there's nothing to stop the sharing other than one's own personal standards.

When I think back on the period of months in 1995 when I was unemployed and what I would have done were it that I had a computer at home and had the internet been what it is today, I shudder to think what kind of havoc I could have wrought in the area of over-sharing.

Instead, I devoted way too long to a series of (we'll call them) mix tapes to represent a sampling of my musical tastes of the time.

That was certainly no more of a waste of time (in retrospect) than was even the most banal tweet, but it was a hell of a lot more effort.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Graduating the graduation

Recently we attended a college graduation ceremony where there were two featured speakers (not including a student valedictorian-esque one who preceded them). The first gave an excellent, rousing speech that offered germane advice for graduates and an inspirational story at the end; everyone paid rapt attention, and commented on how good he was. He got an enthusiastic standing ovation when he finished.

The second speaker droned on way too long about personal accomplishments (okay, we get it) and was so dull that I saw people in the crowd who literally fell asleep. During his speech you could hear murmurs of conversations throughout the graduates and the audience, as people clearly were not paying attention. The applause he received at the end was in part polite, and in part joy that he would not be talking any longer.

So, I offer this advice to those involved:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Get your stinking paws off me, you damn, dirty not-a-monkey!

On the latest Culture Gabfest they discussed the weekend's box office champ, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But of course, I'm not going to talk about the movie, but about something that occurred during the conversation about the movie.

In a clear slip of the tongue, when alluding to the chimpanzee lead character, Caesar, one of the panelists used the word "monkey"—which was caught by one of the other panelists (as it's apparently a plot point in the movie)—but despite that, the first panelist did use "monkey" once more later on in the discussion. And the thing is: It's not that the panelist in question failed to grasp that apes and monkeys are separate (she poked fun at her faux pas while reading the copy for the podcast's sponsor after the segment), but that didn't stop her mind from using the terms interchangeably those two times; even a person of obvious intelligence could make that mistake.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Debt ceilings, and 2012 in that swamp by the Potomac

The more I think about the debt ceiling debacle in our government (the abject inability of the participants to achieve the goal without putting us at the brink, whether you like its outcome or not), the more I envy dictatorial regimes. Sure, they're horrible to live under, but at least there's no delusion that the government is supposed to be working for you.

Or perhaps, through reinforced mass brainwashing, the delusion that the government does work for you effectively makes you believe it does.

Nothing is as depressing as utopian rumination.


Sure, the poor economy is not a positive harbinger for the President in 2012, but more and more I wonder: Why the hell would Obama want to be re-elected? Congress is against him, what he's tried to do that he thought was good was roundly spun to seem bad, and his personality and compromising tendencies clearly are out of step with what it takes to actually get done what presumably he'd want to get done in the current political climate; why would he want to subject himself to another four years of this?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Spotify on the spot

I'd seen a references to Spotify online (particularly this post on Flowering Toilet), another system where one can stream music on-demand or essentially rent music for a portable device. It's not the first such service; it's merely the buzz-worthy one at the moment.

Here's the thing: I have not tried it yet, and if I'm completely honest, I don't find myself inclined to. But something gnawed at me, making me feel compelled to explain why. However, as I ruminated on that, it didn't gel into a nice, simple explanation.

Of course, rather than worry about having to explain, the question may really be: Why do I feel compelled to say anything?

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Change Lantern

Another movie trailer mash-up:

In The Change-Up (opening today) it appears from the trailer that Ryan Reynolds plays a womanizing bachelor and Jason Bateman plays a button-down father and husband, and somehow they switch bodies, Freaky Friday-style, so each can experience the other's lifestyle.

When Reynolds, in Bateman's body, has to change diapers, I imagine the first thing he mutters is something about wishing he still had the Green Lantern power ring.

Talk about evil he does wish could escape his sight...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Right of way

Last Thursday morning, as I walked from the train station to the office in downtown L.A., I found myself in the crosswalk, heading north up Flower, crossing Wilshire. Flower is a southbound one-way street, so oncoming traffic is headed toward me, not with me. Anyway, I had the green light and the "walk" sign and strode out into the crosswalk (as I mentioned—it was just two sentences ago; surely you haven't forgotten) and a Jaguar (the auto, not the big cat) was in the lane to turn left on to Wilshire. It had moved about a third of the way into the intersection from the other side.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Everything you never realized you wanted to know about emceeing the dragon boat festival

This past Saturday morning after breakfast my wife and I headed to Marine Stadium in Long Beach for the 15th Annual Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival. As some of you know, I was an active participant in the sport of dragon boating from 2000 through 2006, but I haven't held a paddle in nearly five years. My participation in the local tournament was what it has been several times (both during those years when I was racing and in the time since): I was there to emcee the opening ceremonies.
(Look! I'm reading off a clipboard!)

People who know me probably think of me as somewhat introverted, and with the bad habit of sometimes speaking too fast, so me being the one to get up on a stage in front of over 100 people and be the one to keep the festivities lively might seem odd. And it is.

In any case, for some reason they keep asking me to do it, and for some reason I keep not coming up with some excuse to get out of doing it, so there must be something about the relationship that works for both the organizers of the event and for me.