Beyonce Knowles 10/24/2008
Beyonce is changing her name. Yes, that Beyonce. A woman that has launched a thousand projects including a clothing line, a perfume, solo albums and a recent marriage to fellow entrepreneur Jay-Z; Beyonce is celebrated the world over as (forgive me Sarah Palin) a maverick. The name Beyonce is like a trademark, in fact, I’m pretty sure that one has to pay for the rights to use it. Beyonce has spent a decade building up her career and brands to the unparalleled level of success they have now reached. Now, we will have to forget Beyonce and embrace (drum roll please) Sasha Fierce. The Artist formerly known as Beyonce has announced that for her upcoming double-album, due November 18, she will be adopting the moniker Sasha Fierce. When questioned about the unusual name, she replied, “I have someone else that takes over when it's time for me to work and when I'm on stage, this alter ego that I've created that kind of protects me and who I really am. Sasha Fierce is the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side that comes out when I'm working and when I'm on the stage.” Also, “Sasha” will be giving one lucky fan the opportunity to win swag valued at $500 dollars and a personal message on her myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/sashafierce). In my opinion, this is a horrible idea. The whole world knows and loves Beyonce for her fabulosity and diva style paired with a kind and caring attitude. While stage names are not uncommon (think Marilyn Monroe and Miley Cyrus) Sasha Fierce sounds too much like Christian Siriano’s catchphrase, not the new era for an international singer renowned like Beyonce. If I had a name worth millions of dollars in trademark value, I’d never change it. However, I guess that with success comes power, responsibility and the right to makeover your name.
The Tudors, Best Show on TV? 4/29/07
While the story lines are superb, the series is riddled with historical inaccuracies that for some history buffs, may be hard to overlook. Contrary to the posts on the Yahoo! TV blog, the episode 1 depiction of Henry VIII's uncle's murder was not innaccurate. While Henry the VIII's father was an only child, his mother, Elizabeth of York had several siblings including two brothers. He did have an uncle. Also, there was a Treaty of Perpetual Peace - but it was between Scotland and England, not France and England as depicted in episode 2. Henry did have a close male friend named Charles Brandon, like the character on the show, who eventually became Duke of Suffolk. But he married Henry's younger sister, Mary, not Margaret. Henry's older sister, Margaret, was married to the king of Scotland, and from this marriage descends the Stuart house in England (episode 4).
Despite these creative liberties, for those who seek entertainment, the show is a must see. With the amazing backdrops and scenery of various castles and mansions scattered throughout Europe, absolutely exquisite period costumes and superb direction, this show is "good television" at it's finest. The writers have a masterful way with their pen,s they seem to make the characters reveal their true intentions to gain superiority at court without really revealing the plan at all. It's is this quality which captivates the audience, The acting is a sight to behold. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is utterly and totally believable as the king who is all powerful but at the same time, struggling to shake the shadow of his fathers footsteps and his pretty boy image. The supporting cast is phenomenal, especially Sam Neil's masterful portrayal of the corrupt and conniving Cardinal Wolsey. With all the sex (by the way, there are quite a few juicy sex scenes), scandal, and gossip of the Tudor dynasty, it's no wonder this show has created quite the stir among fans and critics alike. Offering my final words on the subject, I'm just very happy that Showtime renewed The Tudors for a second season.Purses, Tote bags and Briefcases, Oh my! 4/27/07
The Zen of Dental Prophylaxis 4/26/2007
Let me be the first to applaud any reader who waded through Google or Yahoo to get here. Let's face it, DP (Dental Prophylaxis) better known as "teeth cleaning" is not the stuff of Internet buzz. Why is it Zen? Wikipedia's intepretation of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama's teachings tells us that Zen is "a "special transmission outside the scriptures that points to each individual practitioner's inherent Buddha-nature." That pretty much describes the special relationship between the young thing wielding the sharp pointed stainles steel objects and the object of her attentions reclining in the dentist chair.
So, as the hapless recipient of Prophylaxis, how should you behave? What character clues should you let slip through that "special transmission channel"? Can one appear too eager to receive the ministrations? What level of cooperation is politic? Since the advent of suction, swallowing the awful stuff that pools in your mouth has clearly become outre. And yet, does requesting that bent hissing tube more often than some civilized threshold suggest an excessive concern for cleanliness symptomatic of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)?
Where do we draw the line between what is reasonable and what becomes overly aggressive demands for a rinse? Studies have shown that nearly everything alimentary in nature contains some trace of alcohol. Even the lowly glass of orange juice contains measurable amounts. So, what about the mouthwash comprising that rinse? Gotta be at least 5 to 10 proof pure alcool. Start getting too heavy on the rinse and you could wind up facing a DUI. Imagine the dialog when they pull you in to the pokey for inability to drive a straight line after leaving the dentist's office. Brought in to the local precinct. Placed on the bench awaiting processing next to the other malfeasers. The baddest one of all starts in, "Whatcha in for?". Grinning maniacally while showing your (now-polished) incisors you respond, "Getting my teeth cleaned". And all the other malfeasers move to the far side of the bench. (With apologies to Arlo G.)
Often wondered if hygienists have a special lingo: gagger, biter, drooler for example. What do they actually write down as they dig away at your oral cavities? "Found a pearl today. Just under the right bicuspid. Lovely thing, luminous white only slightly obscured by yesterday's spinach". Maybe it's just the grocery list. "Found a fleck of tomato, reminds me that we are planning spaghetti for tonight, better get a can of Progresso". But it all really get's back to the Zen thing. Do Type A folks tend to keep their mouth's closed. Do the really easy going folks just leave it open? How long can you hold your breath? Do you mouth breathe? Or try to breathe through your nose. Is somebody out there counting how many hygienists pass out from overly hearty oral exhalations?
There have been books written about emotional communications expressed through body language but, oddly enough, no exploration of the even greater opportunities for physical expression between the hygienist and the patient. Seems like somebody somewhere could fashion a peg to fill that hole.
Buying A Car 3/23/2007
"Buy cheap, sell high". That's what my sainted stepmother has always told me. Seems pretty obvious until you look at the business news and check the trading volumes on days that stock prices are headed downhill. The traders are all selling, selling low. So, looks like most people blithely ignore the "sell high" part of her dictum. Let's look at the "buy cheap". You're in the market for a new car. Study the mags, Road &Track, Motor Trend, Car & Driver, read the reliability pages of Consumer Reports, oh yeah, read the Dan Neil columns for the visceral spin and then you come up with your choice of automobile, the gem that really does it for you. Then ya gotta go deal with the low lifes (sic) at the dealership. You could deal on the web. But there is that issue of delayed gratification. On the web you have to reveal your name, address, email and phone number to somebody or some organization who has put up the web page for profit. Is this just going to open you up to spam and harrassing phone calls? You bet it is. More of those See Alice offerings and invitations to visit that jewel of the Italian landscape, the Via Gra. Then you have to wait to get the emailed quote. Then you have to go down and see what it is they are actually offering to sell you.
There is a better way. The main issue when you walk in the door of RipOffs'R Us is that you really have no idea what that slickly put out salesman's bottom price will be. He's gonna wheedle and push and make you wait while those fictitious negotiations with his "buyer manager" take place. But, let's face it, he's probably just gone to take a potty break while making you think he's pleading your offer with the higher ups. If you had the confidence, the knowledge of what that guy would settle for, then, my friend, life would be good. Walk in with a "take it or leave it" attitude and price and then give the dealership 5 minutes to make up their minds. Sure that invoice price that Consumer Reports is interesting, but, let's face it....things will cost what the market will bear. You picked out your car because you thought it was cool and would satisfy your needs. If it's really cool and rings your chimes; odds are that it looks cool to other folks too. So the dealer is just not going to sell the car at invoice. So, what's the bottom price the dealer will take?
A true story. Couple of years ago, we needed a car. Did the research. Looked at the Consumer Reports reliability stuff. Picked a car. Toyota Avalon. Reasonably big, roomy, peppy, reliable. Went down to the local dealership. Found a car. Silver, XL (lower trimline), leather, air, radio, heater and all the other stuff. Offering price? $29K. Drove the car. Great ride, wonderful experience. Went back in to haggle. Dealer immediately dropped $500. Said, "that's it, this is a popular car, we can't do better". We looked suitably sad, said," thanks, we'll have to think about it". Went home. Got on the web. Surfed over to CarsDirect.com. Put in the exact details of the dealership's car. Mashed the appropriate buttons and got a guaranteed low price for $26,500. What the guaranteed price means is that some dealer in our zip code was willing to sell the car at that price. So we printed out the details of the guaranteed low price and went back down to the dealer. Swaggered into the dealership, dumped the paper with the details on the sales guy's desk. "This is Our best and final offer" (BAFO for those in the know). And you know what? They folded! Yep. Walked out of the dealership with a new car at $26,500! The car we saw; the car we wanted, and no waiting. For 5 minutes work on the Net.
How did this work? All in your head. If you know you can find a lower price, you'll be confident and you won't feel victimized. Find a web site that actually provides quotes (see the list at the bottom). Go find your car. Carefully note all the options and details (each one you miss will give the dealer extra wiggle room). Important step: go home! As soon as you walk out, you've given the dealership an important message, "Don't need you, I can buy the car somewhere else". Now run the numbers off the web site. Print out the quote. For whatever reason, nothing speaks louder than an inanimate piece of paper. Go back to the dealership. And deal.
LNG jam in Long Beach. 3/18/2007
Every day seems to bring another item in the litany of bad news. Britney shaves her head. Could donate the proceeds to charity, but no...next thing you know, the locks show up on eBay, as reported by theBlemish. One million bucks per lock. Wow. In more serious news, the Senate failed to halt staying the course in Iraq. By a vote of 50 to 48, Senate rejected the resolution that set a goal of a withdrawal of troops by March 2008. Shows the power of the popular mandate. Can anybody still remember that election in the fall that reversed the congressional Republican majority -both houses that is- presenting the incumbent administration with pretty convincing proof of ripples in the popular mood. And of course there's the latest weather news. Warmest in recorded history. Thanks to Rep. Data Rohrabacher (R-CA) 49th District (Huntington Beach,Costa Mesa) we know that a strong causal agent in the past was dinosaur flatulence. Given that the total biomass of humanity at 6,583,145,067 may easily exceed the total biomass of dinosaurs during the Triassic and Mesozoic eras, it seems reasonable to propose that global warming could be stopped in its tracks by providing free Pepto Bismol and GasX samples to the developing world. Let's face it, the US has been bearing the brunt of criticism for CO2 emissions. Maybe the problem is methane-sourced flatulence. C'mon Congressman Rohrabacher, let's get a publicity campaign going; a little consensus on foreign aid and we could have this climate thing nipped in the bud!
But that's not the point of this rant. Remember all those articles about Sound Energy Solutions and the push to establish a LNG offload terminal in Long Beach (my backyard)? Well, looks a popular mandate worked for once. The following release of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners says it all
(Jan. 22, 2007, updated Jan. 23) -- LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners voted today (Jan. 22) to halt environmental review of a proposal by Sound Energy Solutions to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility at the Port of Long Beach.
Wow. And then the newly elected mayor weighed in
LB Mayor Bob Foster by letter informed SES that he will not support its LNG proposal, stating in part, "Nothing in my continuing review of the EIR, response to questions from the Port, commentary by the California Public Utilities Commission or other documentation has substantiated the viewpoint that this project ensures the safety of Long Beach residents to my satisfaction. Further, I continue to believe that locating such a large processing and storage facility at the gate of America's commerce pipeline is simply ill advised. As such, this letter is to inform you that I will not support of [sic] a Sound Energy Solutions LNG facility proposal at the Port of Long Beach."
Let's face it, Bob Foster said in his campaign that he would not support the LNG project. But what do mere campaign promises mean anyway. Looks like they do actually mean something. In Long BeachA Wireless LA? or a Clueless LATimes. 3/11/2007
Commanding acres of real estate on the Business and Technology page, Chris Hawthorne's article toiled endlessly and painfully to create a deep heartfelt message, if network connectivity becomes ubiquitous, people will use it. Wow. His thesis, connectivity is "turning every corner park and sidewalk bench into a possible home for the kind of coffeehouse culture" that will lead to "noticeable increase in the odd sort of public, shared alienation already on display in cafes everywhere, with people packed in next to one another but staring into their own individual screens".
So, what is the point of all this? Are we better off without universal connectivity? The Paper has been running equally poignant articles about providing Internet connectivity to the disadvantaged. Did we really just get to see this populist rag run an article decrying a vision that would help those folks? What really brought it home was an offhand comment buried deeper down, "But free wireless service doesn't mean a whole lot if you can't afford a laptop."
Brought back that nascent queasiness this writer feels when reading just about anything in the LATimes that covers some particular technical, political, or -thanks to Allie - some cultural topic I actually know something about. Believe it or not, wireless service works with Any computer. Just needs a wireless card or USB plugin. Cost? $10 at Fryes or sometimes even free thanks to rebate coupons. Talk about a boon for the disadvantaged. But of course, with the superficial level of expertise resident at the Times, these kinds of omissions are tolerated, maybe even encouraged in pursuit of the Message.
Why should we care? Whatever the motives, universal connectivity can only narrow the cultural divide between haves and havenots. It provides a common context between the elite with their laptops and the poor folks with their 5 year old freestanding MaxiTower PC's. For once Mayor Villaraigosa should be applauded rather than excoriated.
A Global Phenomenon. 1/17/06
Myspace.com. Oh, what an infamous url. Home to music, movies, and one of the greatest social networks ever created. A place where you will find millions of teenagers and young adults, online all day and every day, Myspace has become the new instant messager, the new stall tool in helping to delay homework, commitments, a way to lose yourself in cyberspace, the wondrous vortex of the world wide web.
For baby boomers and older adults to understand the appeal of MySpace, they must reflect upon their own childhood and think about any antics they pulled, any behaviors used in stalling the onset of homework and extracurricular activities. Whether they hung out at the beach, chilled at friend's houses or went for bike rides, baby boomers also had stall tactics. The X generation just takes the stall tactic to the next level, making it mainstream and world-wide.
Parents don't understand the appeal of a site like MySpace, they fear online predators, and pedophiles who might prey on their children. For teens, however, MySpace is a place to pretend, a place to be is popular, to have truck loads of friends. For others, it is a place to discover the newest indie bands before your friends, and then be the music trend setter. And finally, for the teen that shares a two bedroom house with their parents and two siblings, it is their own Space, a place they can call their own. While parents might not understand the idea of leaving “comments” for everyone to see, teens regard the number of comments as a status symbol. It is like an unspoken contest, everyone has a bulletin board and whoever has the prettiest one wins.
Myspace, then, is more than just a stall tactic, more than just a temporary escape form the boredom of every day life, but a continuation of the school day, similar to a popularity contest. And if popularity has infiltrated the Internet, where will it head next?
Doing My Part. 1/1/2007
We all have regrets. A major regret in my life is that I did not do my best to keep my American Girl doll in pristine condition. My first American girl doll was the rare Felicity doll; she was the first doll with a flesh colored body enhanced by low revealing necklines on her gowns . Felicity hit the skids, and was discontinued in 2002. She was revamped and brought back in 2005, but I own the original. One fateful day, four years ago, I lent beloved Felicity to my little sister. Little did I know, but the combination of my sister, glitter nail polish, and our American Girl dolls would prove disastrous. So now, as I ponder my situation of dealing with a carmine-red cuticle-enhanced Armerican Girl doll, completely ruined for resale to a collector, I ask myself the question, What uses are there for old American Girl dolls? As a concerned member of the incoming generation, I know to do my best to help the environment. Avoid adding to the ecological load. Keep the landfills free for truly valuable waste. After wading through the deep, thought provoking insight I received from from my family and friends, I offer the following list.
I hope this list helps you and provides some insight in dealing with a key issue facing our generation: what to do with your old, outgrown yet serviceable American Girl Dolls.
Santa Wears a New Disguise. 12/27/06
Usually, when one pictures Santa Claus, the image of a jovial plump senior citizen, dressed in a red and white suit, comes to mind. But, what if a Santa showed up who was neither plump nor senior.In Spokane, Washington, Santa wore a new disguise. Last Thursday, unaccompanied by any of Santa's Reindeer, a Mrs. St. Nick hopped aboard a STA bus. She greeted passengers with "Merry Christmas" and handed each an envelope containing a card and a $50 bill before stepping off and repeating the process on another bus. She did it so quickly that descriptions of the woman varied among surprised Spokane Transit Authority passengers on several routes."She kind of kept her head down. I don't remember ever seeing this lady before," said bus driver Max Clemons. While the requisite red suit and snow white beard seemed to be missing, the sentiment felt by the passengers seemed to ring true with the folklore of Santa Claus."I had a young man in the back of the bus. He looked like he was going to start crying. He said in broken English, 'She don't know how much this will mean to me at Christmas," Clemons reflected. Transit Authority spokesman Dan Kolbet said that efforts to identify the gift-giver were unsuccessful. Her generosity didn't appear to be part of a marketing gimmick. The woman gave envelopes to about 20 passengers, he said. Each was sealed with a sticker that said: "To a friend from a friend. "The woman, accompanied by one or two young boys, pulled the envelopes out of a cloth satchel (not the red velvet gift sack). The buses were pulling away from stops before riders even knew what happened. "There was a lot of excitement. People were making calls on their cell phones," said driver Terry Dobson, who had two of his trips visited by the mystery woman. "The people on those buses really needed the money. "Hours after the impromptu gift-giving, Dobson was still giddy."It was just a neat thing," he said. "It makes you tingle all over." The woman was helping others in that "true spirit of christmas", something so pure and simple, it is often lost between the baking, gifts and parties.If Santa could appear as a women, how about a women president next? Don't know if this will make the "Rider's Alerts" on the STA home page, but don't be surprised if ridership figures take an upward spike in the weeks to come.
Pasty faced guys defined at
Happy Bastille day, celebrating the start of the French Revolution in 1789. Group of terrorists stormed the gates of the Bastille -large stone building begun in ~1369 by Hugh Aubriot, then mayor of Paris under King Charles V.- freed the seven inmates, killed the guards and kicked off the mild disturbance that followed.
About to go watch Lance do his thing on the mild ~2000 foot descent out of Briancon. By the way for you cognoscenti out there, Briancon contains a lurking cedilla (Please click for the historical antecedents of the symbol @ Wiki). The lurking cedilla is the little hook that hides under the 'c'. Looks suspiciously like this Ç (man isn't this editor cool?). For some reason the news rags have elected to omit the modest little hook. But back to the cognoscenti, -completely different from paparazzi (sorry Cameron...)- what the little hook does is turn the hard ka sound we associate with the letter 'c' into a soft ss sound. So, if you really want to be in the know...Briancon is pronounced Bree/awn/ssohn, not Bree/Awn/kohn (pardon the phonetic interpolation).
And of course the inhabitants of the town are Brianconnais. Back to the Tour. A profile of stage 12 from the BBC.
But the real reason to pull out the updated Smith Corona (much better than Smith and Wesson) is continued angst at the desecration of my back yard, continued progress on the neighborhood LNG program. A fabulous resource on the physics of energy. Laws of thermodynamics, comparison of the energy released by often-cited nuclear bomb with the energy released in the making of a cup of tea.
Well off to the stationary to feel vaguely unfulfilled as I watch the riders screaming down the descent at over 30mpg. Personal best on the flats sans wind is a mere 28mpg or so for about a block. Tour riders do it for 100 miles. In the words of the immortal Herbie Bookbinder, I wish.
Been a while...so the main thing to consider with the LNG thing is how fast all that energy is released. The good folks at The Science Fair Project Encyclopedia tell us that all the energy in a nuclear bomb is released in about a microsecond. That's one millionth of a second which is pretty darn quick. So back to the LNG example, it's unlikely that all the energy in the tank could be released that quickly. LNG without air is just really cold liquid. LNG has to warm up, mix with air and become a flammable mixture before unfriendly events can occur. So what is a worst case here? Suppose a large airplane landed in the tank. We might expect the airplane to displace a volume of gas equal to the volume of the airplane. So that volume of gas would pretty instantaneously leave the surroundings of the tank and be mixed with air. How big is that volume? Does look pretty large, but how many cubic feet? Which is the measure we have for LNG. Well, the dimensions of the fuselage, thanks to the 747 specifications are 231 feet by 21 feet just for the fuselage. Works out to a volume of 320,000 cubic feet. Add 50% again for the wings and we are close to 500,000 cubic feet. If just that volume of gas were displaced by an aircraft landing in the tank the equivalent BTU''s work out to 500 million BTU or about 1% the size of our Hiroshima bomb standard. Man, as a homeowner I feel a lot better. If the bad guys land a plane the size of a 747 into the LNG tank down the road, the instantaneous blast will merely be 1% the size of the Hiroshima bomb. Of course I will still be stuck with the total burn equal to 50 bombs. Just that first split second will be reassuringly small. Whew.
Oh yeah...one detail. How quickly will the gas be displaced? Suppose the plane is diving towards the tank at a moderate 500 miles per hour. Works out to 733 feet per second. Remember that the plane is 231 feet long, so it will all be over in 1/3 of a second (231/733). Whew again.
So the new thing in Long Beach (that's CA, if you're wondering) is the Liquefied Natural Gas terminal the Fed is thinking of putting in around the harbor. Naturally this has all kinds of folks up in arms about (1) the jobs it will create or (2) the havoc it will create when environmental nasties occur. Just depends on what side of the fence you're living.
But what is Liquefied Natural Gas, anyway. Is it bad? Frankly, I couldn't really get my thoughts (or my arms) around how to think about a billion cubic feet of natural gas. So I did a little arithmetic.
Seems that the good folks at Dominion Gas down in Richmond, VA are putting in a new LNG tank in their storage farm. They were kind enough to publish some numbers. Tank size is 2.8 billion cubic feet of gas. LNG is about 1000 BTU per cubic foot, so we are talking 2.8 trillion BTU in the tank.
OK fine. Just for argument's sake...how many BTU in a nuclear bomb? Well, the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima was 14 kilotons. Did a good job of wiping out the city. A kiloton is 4.2 trillion joules. What do joules have to do with BTU? Well, they measure the same thing, heat...so we can convert between them. 4.2 trillion joules is about 4.2 billion BTU. So the 14 kiloton Hiroshima bomb was 59 billion BTU.
So where does that get us? The amount of energy in the LNG tank is 50 times the energy in the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima.
And the Feds want to put that tank in my backyard.
But I don't really care about all that stuff. Let the gas prices soar. Who cares? Bound to get a lot of the SUV's off the road. I mean, sitting here in the Mini. Surrounded by gargantuan hunks of stamped steel. Is it an H3? or a Yukon? At least the Ford Valdez is history. You really wonder...how are the brakes on the two and one half tons of angry Cummins-powered F450 riding the rear bumper? What's the last thing a Mini driver sees before being rear-ended by a Chevy Suburban? His butt.
ramblingRant 06/26/2005 But if you're in LA. Forget it. 45 minutes to work by car, 90 minutes to work by Blue Line and Green (or is it Red) Line. Does that make any sense? Of course not. When the freeways of LA got built, neighborhoods and commuting patterns sprung up alongside. Did the johnny-come-lately subways follow the freeways? Of course not. Go figure.
Just getting started here with respect to the blog. Just got back from a trip to NYC. Lovely place, if the cockroaches don't get you the garbage will. But, why dwell on the negatives? Actually, the city works pretty well.Coming from LA, the city works damn well. Let's face it, the subway is actually useful. Want to go more than 10 blocks? Hop on.