June 30, 2007

witch way

Today we finally got in a bit of a beach day. We all biked down to Hermosa to eat some lunch (or dinner?) and wandered around the area there, catching some surfers and stores and all that. The bike path was unusually crowded, even for a Saturday, but we managed to make it in one piece. Before that, Mel and I had spent some time web surfing to see if we could find decent tickets to 'Wicked' since its playing here and Marlena has been wanting to see it. After trying all kinds of searches, we ended up getting four really great individual seats. Marlena and Sumner sat in the Mezzanine's first and second row right behind each other, while Mel and I swapped seats at intermission between an 8th row seat in the Orchestra and a second row seat in the Mezzanine. Both were different but equally good experiences. Traffic there and back was as jammed up as the bike path had been - so I guess they got the full LA experience out of it. Mel was glad to find a way to end the trip with a bang, fully aware that this could be the last family vacation for all of them together since Marlena starts college in the fall. Early in the morning its back to Baltimore for them. I suspect this cross-country trek will be one they'll remember for a long time.

June 29, 2007

a three hour tour

My sister, Melanie, and her kids, Marlena and Sumner, are here visiting for a couple days. They've just finished a pretty amazing three week cross-country trip going all kinds of amazing places; including from Iowa through the Dakotas and Utah to the Grand Canyon and Vegas to here. They're pretty wiped out, but awfully content with each other after spending three weeks in a car together! They seem happy just to veg and enjoy the beach area at this point. They've already done most of the LA tourist stuff on another trip here, so the only thing we scheduled was a tour today at Sony Pictures Studios. After my friend Heith showed me around a few weeks ago, I was impressed with all the history of the former MGM lot I found out later. The Sony tour also seemed like a less touristy/cheesy tour than someplace like Universal, so off we went. After dropping off their rental car and stopping at Randy's Donuts for a taste of LA Googie Architecture (which seemed to excite me more than them), Heith met us for lunch before the tour at Sony and gave a few basics. The tour ended up being twice as long as I had thought (at about 3 hours), but our guide, Will, was really great and we got to see tons of stuff. We stopped to see Heith and a couple other friends, Don and Veronika, before leaving the lot. Once we got home, we debated going to a movie, but ended up just walking down to Sloopys for dinner and watchin some funniest videos on the couch. By the end of the day, we were definitely very full.

June 28, 2007

i day

Ever since having a Blackberry at my last job (which was useless since I use a Mac), I have longed for a cell phone that would actually work with (and work like) a Mac. My wait ends at 6pm. Well, not for me - I'm not one of those guys camping out to be the first. In fact, I'm one of those guys who usually doesn't get anything new until version 2 comes out so by then the kinks have been worked out, but I don't think I'll be able to wait that long for an iPhone. For a glimpse at what the hype is about (especially from me - a guy with zero interest in an iPod), check out the video linked below from David Pogue, Technology critic for the New York Times. The phone looks and works as well there as it does in the Apple demos, but he also gives fair mention of the iPhones shortcomings.

The video also is worth noting in that its the first time I've watched video content from a newspaper site - and its good stuff. Well put together, decently shot, and surprisingly watchable, the New York Times here is exhibiting an understanding of the web and its value - and its place in the future of newspapers. TV stations should take note - re-running your story from tonights newscast doesn't cut it. Here, the New York Times is actually doing tv for the web better than tv seems to be able to. Its as much a lesson in using the web as the iPhone is a lesson in brilliant marketing. Huge initial announcement, followed by a continuous and gradually increasing trickle of news and information about the phone - to the point that in the last couple weeks, we couldn't go a day without hearing about some new feature or tidbit of news. The only thing I haven't been able to find out: when do I get mine?

  • New York Times: the iPhone Challenge
  • June 26, 2007


    Sometimes the beauty is in the combination of industrial and natural, other times it can even be found in the pure industrial - its a beauty I love to find in unexpected times and places - which maybe is the joy of finding it altogether. Some recent slivers from around the area...

    June 25, 2007


    It cracks me up (in a very good way) when friends tell me about an influence I have unconsciously had on them because of the blog. My friend Heith was in Denver this weekend, but he emailed me this pic because he couldn't help but notice the bad kerning (spacing between the letters) on the "AT M". I love it.

    June 24, 2007

    light years

    I'm fascinated with the history of Venice. In 1905 a developer named Abbott Kinney turned undeveloped marshland west of Los Angeles into an American version of Venice, Italy, complete with canals instead of streets. The city had huge amusement piers and attractions to lure visitors as an amusement destination dubbed the "Coney Island of the Pacific." Kinney died in 1920 and his son took over the business of the resort town. By 1930, residents were upset with Venice's City Council and voted for annexation by Los Angeles. Over the next few years Los Angeles systematically destroyed Venice - filling in the canals to make streets, closing down the piers and amusement businesses, and even in the 60's forcing demolition of 550 historic buildings including those in the core area of Windward Avenue and the oceanfront.

    Tonight, Venice lit a newly restored sign above Windward Avenue that disappeared in the 80's after years of neglect and disrepair. My friend Lewis said he remembered the sign being little more than a V and a C dripping in bird poop when he was a kid. Venice is still an eclectic mix of funky and fashionable. A small pocket of canals were restored in the early 90's; I hope the new sign becomes a beacon for more restoration of Venice's glory days.

  • Venice Historical Society photo gallery
  • June 23, 2007

    perfect day

    Today was about as good as a day can get - the perfect unplanned ordinary day. I biked down to Hermosa to meet my friend George for lunch. George is an old friend I met when I first moved to LA - he's now back in LA after a few years in Michigan and housesitting in Hermosa for a few months. We grabbed lunch by the beach and followed that up with a beer at the Poopdeck. We then biked down to the end of the bike trail in Redondo Beach and wandered around a neighborhood festival there. We decided it was more fun in Hermosa so we biked back and he introduced me to the Hermosa Beach Yacht Club, which is anything but. Its a great little out of the way dive bar, which just makes the name even better. By that time, George had to head out to meet another friend in Santa Monica, but I wasn't ready to end the day. I called my friend Pat who lives nearby and he biked over for a beer. After a bit, we decided we were hungry - I vetoed the chain Hennessey's suggestion and said "lets go to a good one-of-a-kind dive bar with food". So Pat introduced me to my new favorite bar - Naja's Place in Redondo. Naja's is in the Redondo marina and was packed - the crowd was lively and the reggae band was loud. But best of all, among their 70 or 80 beers on tap is my all time favorite from my Europe trip - Wiehenstephan Weisse! I've never seen it anywhere on tap in the US, so i was excited. And the food was pretty damn good too. Like I told Pat at the end of the night - I'll bike for Naja's anytime!

    June 22, 2007

    no means no, kobe

    I'm not really a big basketball fan, so I'll admit to only following the basics of the latest Kobe Bryant brouhaha - a never-ending series of stupid public statements leading to stupid public responses and so on...zzz...what else is new; who cares. But the other night I couldn't help but read the front page of the sports section (because it was tacked to the wall in the mens restroom!) and Bill Plaschke's column headline was genius. It read "At this moment, Bryant is not Magic Johnson, he is Paris Hilton. He is not Jerry West, he is Lindsay Lohan. He is not the old show-time Hollywood, he is the new spoiled Hollywood. He's just not that into you. He's betrayed fans, whined, ripped the team, and trampled on Lakers tradition. For those still in love with Bryant, it's time to let him go." Wow. And thats just the headline. Ouch.

    June 20, 2007

    death in the family?

    Ugh. Its karma. Especially after my post yesterday making fun of Microsoft. It seems as though my desktop Mac may be dying. Last Thursday, I took a power hit when a car hit a power pole nearby. Ever since, it started locking up on reboot, but only after logging into my account, not on startup. A few times it came up fine, allowing me to do some work and make sure all files were archived. So with a gap in my current project, I spent the last couple days running maintenance and optimization software. It seems I have a "bad block" and an "incorrect valence". I don't know what those are, but it seems they may be fatal. Since running the maintenance software, it will only reboot to a grey screen... Because Macs don't crash and problems on them are rare, when they happen, it totally freaks you out. And usually, its not good. Since the Mac is the cornerstone of my business, its no small deal. Sigh. Stay tuned.

    June 19, 2007


    Thanks to this blog, I am often surprised when friends outside my "professional" world make observations about that world that are pretty astute. Today my Dad sent me a YouTube video that is a great example of the world designers like me can often face in the name of "client feedback". (I think my Dad is more of a You-tuber than I am.) Of course, the other joy of this video is how well it personifies the intelligence with which Microsoft treats its customers vs. the amount of credit that Apple gives theirs. Click the link below and enjoy. Welcome to my world.
  • YouTube: Microsoft iPod
  • June 18, 2007


    Assorted slivers from around the area....