Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Playing to win

After reading this post that points out the stupidity of saying "I like to have fun," I was reminded of my own hatred of the soundbite that no reality show can pass up, "I am playing to win." Really? You mean, you are on a show that is giving away a big prize and you are actually going to try to be the winner? Wow, what a concept!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nomads Welcome

on Hollywood Blvd


is coming back! They announced it on my birthday, and the new episodes will begin airing in 2008.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Official ___s of my California Road Trip

Car: a silver Pontiac Grand Prix
Ripoff: Gas at $3.30/gallon
Snack food: Pumpkin Seeds from Trader Joe's
Radio Song: Girl Next Door by Saving Jane
Radio Artist: Gwen Stefani - Rich Girl and Hollaback Girl played all the time
Radio Station: KRUZ 97.5 in Santa Barbara
Drug Store: Walgreens (one on every corner)
Place to meet locals: Mass Transit
Attained Goal: actual wildlife sightings - sea lions and elephant seals
Commercial: the Ford one with the American Idol guy
Street Name: Mission - every city has a Mission Ave, St or Blvd
Politician: Schwarzenegger who seems to be up for reelection soon

Celebrity Death that I had nothing to do with: Aaron Spelling. I had been in Beverly Hills that day, but I was not thinking of him!


I've been home for a day or so, but most of that time was spent sleeping or shopping. Work tomorrow, yee haw.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I am posting from cafe one block off of Hollywood Blvd. Southern California is so pretty, even the people are pretty. I wish they all could be California Boys. Got lots of pictures, of course, but have only seen one very minor celebrity, the red suit guy on Rodeo - and he stands there waiting for tourists! I'll be home in about 24 hours.

Friday, June 23, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 9

This was my last day in LA, so I spent it driving around. My niece has a thing for Elijah Wood and she once read that he frequents Lulu's Cafe. Since I was in town, I agreed to track down the place and get her a picture. After that, I headed northwest to Topanga Canyon for some views and then south to Santa Monica. I parked at the Pier and walked out to the end. I saw some fisherman catch a small ray and release it. During lunch at Mariasol, I watched some of the World Cup between France and Togo. I walked up to the Third Street Promenade and hit another toy store. I bought some pixel blocks there and then had a cool drink while browsing through Borders. The drive back to my hotel took almost two hours, but it was scenic enough that it didn't bother me. After another nap, I went back to Hollywood & Highland and spent two hours there. The next day was basically jusy waking up, filling the rental car with $3.30 gas and flying home.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 8

It's my 29th birthday today, and I have a tour booked with Starline.We go inside the Hollywood Bowl, they point out Merv Griffin's house, and take us shopping in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive. I pass lots of expensive stores and end up making my only purchase at a toy store, the card game Set. We hit the Farmer's Market where I buy a Tetsubin, and then the Chinese Theater before hitting Hollywood & Highland where I found Beard Papa's, a cream puff stand I'd read about but forgotten. I treat myself to two puffs, one for now and one for later.We go to the La Brea tarpits, head through Downtown and stop at Olvera Street before heading back to Hollywood & Vine.

After the tour, I see The Lake House at the Arclight and then take the subway back to my hotel. While waiting for the train, I meet a guy from New Zealand who is traveling around America. He doesn't have strict plans, so I tell him that I am from Minnesota and suggest he visit the Midwest, particularly Chicago. He was planning on riding without a ticket, but another guy and I convince him it's not worth the risk, so we watch his stuff while he runs upstairs and buys one.

Day 9

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 7

I head south and east to Valencia so I can go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Valencia is in the middle of nowhere, and it seems that the only traffic is going to Six Flags. Traffic is an understatement, it's a logjam. It costs $15 per car to park. Suddenly I understand the people who take buses up from LA.
While there, I ride the new coaster Tatsu as well as Viper, Deja Vu, Riddler, Superman, Batman, Colossus and Goliath. I am completely exhausted as I drive to my hotel in Hollywood. The traffic is just like Manhattan, heavy but not nearly as bad I expected.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 6

Today I went to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It seemed to be full of mothers and children. There is one of those vending machines where you can get goat feed for a quarter and one of the little kids says to another, "You have to pay to feed them. Do you have that kind of money?" I take a nap in my hotel room and then do laundry. On the way back from laundry, I take an aimless drive up a big hill and then up along the coast. One of the nice things about being by the ocean is that it makes it almost impossible to get lost. I have a late dinner at Taco Bell and pack up before sleeping.

Monday, June 19, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 5

In the morning I checked out of my hotel and hit traffic on the way to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. Inside I went through lots of exhibits, but my favorite part was the boardwalk/patio part where you can go out and watch the ocean. After the museum, I took Highway 1 south toward Big Sur. This is quite the drive: tons of turnoffs, hills you won't believe, beautiful vistas and plunging cliffs. The road gets very crazy at the San Luis Obispo city line.

One of my goals in California was to have a unique wildlife sighting. As I am driving past what looks like a regular turnoff with parking lot, I decide to stop. To my surprise, this is an observation area for elephant seals. There is a beach with 50-70 seals that are sunning themselves and grunting occasionally to the delight of all the watching tourists! There are also lots of crows and squirrels who find the place very inviting, so inviting that one squirrel actually approaches me looking for food. I didn't have anything to give him, but I held out my camera to take a close up. He actually reached out and his little paw on my camera! So, I felt as if I had reached that particular goal.

I stopped for more groceries in Arroyo and then got to my hotel in Santa Barbara very late.

Day 6

Sunday, June 18, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 4

A and G are flying back home today, but I am staying in Cali and driving down the coast. I rent the car and go pick them up at their hotel. We went out to spend our last minutes in San Francisco at the grounds around the Palace of the Legion of Honor. The Palace itself is an art museum, with a cast of Rodin's The Thinker outside. I went there in 1998 the first time I visited California and saw my first Picasso and Rembrandt. We did not go inside since our time was limited, but we saw the sculptures they have on the grounds and enjoyed more Pacific views.

I dropped them both off at SFO and drove south towards Monterrey. After climbing a steep incline for what seemed like an hour, the trees fell away and I got a breathtaking view of a marina. I reached my hotel in Seaside and watched Batman Begins on cable. Then I went to Kroger for some groceries and had a picnic on the beach.

Day 5

Saturday, June 17, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 3

A is always the early riser when we are on vacation, while G tends to sleep in and I am somewhere in the middle. He was up and eating breakfast at Perry's before I left my hotel, but we did meet up there. We went over to Fisherman's Wharf again to see the sea lions that sun themselves at Pier 39. They are actually visible on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

After that we waited far too long for a bus to take us up to Coit Tower. Before we went inside, we called G and found she was in Little Italy, about to head up to the tower. After meeting up with her, we rode to the top and got the breathtaking views and took all the nice pictures. We took a break in the shade and then headed over to descend the Filbert Steps. A is a big fan of the Tales of the City books (I loved the first 3 as well, just haven't read the next 3), so he insisted on seeing them. It's a very long walk, but well worth it even if you don't get to see any of the wild parrots, which we didn't.

We walked through Levi's Plaza and then took the BART over to the Mission District. We ate at Taqueria Pancho Villa and then walked over to Mission Delores. I was tired so I decided to rest on the steps outside while A and G went in and took a tour. We then took a bus up to the Castro and hung out for a bit, just shopping, people-watching and eating gelato. We continued the eating theme in North Beach at Trattoria Pinnochio and then went for more cannoli.

Day 4

Friday, June 16, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 2

We had breakfast at Lori's, a 50's themed diner and then went to Macy's to find G some shoes and a hat for A. We then took the #30 out to the Palace of Fine Arts and wandered around taking pictures. We then took a #28 over to some bunkers on some coastal cliffs that overlook the Golden Gate Bridge. You could see a nude beach from up there! We bussed over to Haight-Ashbury and ate at Cha Cha Cha's. I had sangria and cajun fish. As we were wandering away from the restaurant, we passed a tattoo parlor and went inside. G and I spent some time trying to convince A that we should all get tattoos as a way to remember the trip. We almost had him convinced until we found out that it would take the rest the day to get us all done. A headed over to Alamo Square while G and I went to the San Francisco Mall. We didn't do much shopping, but I did get some cannoli at Segafredo's. Then we all took the cable car up to the bay and hung out on the beach.

Day 3

Thursday, June 15, 2006

California Road Trip - Day 1

I met up with G at the SFO BART station and we rode the train to Powell station together where we met up with A and then headed to our hotels. They were both staying in a hotel a block south of Market St while mine was two blocks north of Market. We checked in and met back up at the cable car and took it down to Fisherman's Wharf. After hanging out on the wharf and eating at In N Out burger, we took a very crowded F train back to our hotels to change for dinner. We had reservations at the Cliff house, where I had some saki and a curry seafood dish. There are such nice views from both inside and outside the restaurant, and the sun was setting as we ate, so we got tons of great pictures. A and I went to a bar in the Castro and drank a bit before eating some turkey burgers and crawling into bed at 3 am.

Day 2

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I drove over a screw that stuck in my tire on Sunday, so I had to put my spare tire on last night. Last time I needed a tire change, Ombre De Chevalier was nice enough to do it and give me lessons. So, I loosened the nuts, jacked up the tire, removed it and put the spare on. Tip: to tell which side of the tire should face out, check for the inflation valve.
Anyway, I was a filthy mess, but I had to run to the corner store after that to get some cash so I could do two loads of laundry. As I am getting cash and buying a soda, I hear a rather strange conversation between one of the workers there and a customer. My friends and I started a blog called Overheard in Minneapolis, which is a blatant rip-off of Overheard in New York, so I posted it on that blog and you'll have to go there to read it. We certainly aren't the only ones who had that idea, and there is a list of other Overheard blogs on the sidebar, which are great mood elevators.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Let THEM eat cake, I'll be eating pie in the corner

I am not a fan of cake or it's stepbrother the brownie. Carrot cake is great, as is cheesecake, but the generic bread-with-some-extra-sugar that passes for cake these days is just not worth the fat and calories. Every time I am at a wedding, I am accosted by a pushy person holding a small plate with a slice of evil. If I politely refuse the abomination, I get a sneer or an eye-roll. I am chubby enough without adding to my thighs with something barely palatable. At the very least, there had better be some good frosting that I can nibble on to make the whole thing worthwhile. I know I will still get dirty looks because of the cake left on my plate, but the sweetness of the frosting will help me cope with the social rejection.

My disdain for cake started with the brownie. A brownie is often just a drier version of cake with less yeast and more chocolate frosting. Sometimes people try to improve brownies, making them "special" with the addition of a controversial ingredient. It adds a whole new dimension to an otherwise boring snack food, but it can upset and confuse people if they are not expecting it. So, be sure to warn people if you decide to take the leap and add nuts to your brownie recipe!

Pudding cakes are an attempt to alleviate some of the dryness inherent in cake, but it doesn't add moisture as much as another weird flavor layer. So, why attempt to improve on something that has outlived its usefulness? I say we push cake aside and let pie take its rightful place on the table at birthday parties, weddings and all other occasions that require dessert. Pie is so much more versatile than cake. You want fruit? How about two crusts? Can you handle three inch thick whipped cream? How about some weird chalky, but yummy egg whites made stiff and added to a citrus goo? Pie will give you all that and more. In fact, pudding belongs in pie, not wasted in a cake.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I <3 maps

Kottke continues the work of Rankin and shows us that Manhattan is a small world after all. The best thing on Rankin's page is the overlay of the US and Europe. If my 2003 road trip had taken place over the pond, I would have visited Copenhagen, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Bucharest, Rome, Madrid, Porto, Paris and Berlin.