July 31, 2007
I began my tv career in local television, so I'm pretty familiar how breaking news sends everyone into a panic as if the sky is falling. "Oh my god, a car chase!" You'd never think it was what they actually did for a living every day. It gives me a certain sense of sympathy and understanding when what we used to call a chyron (a lower third banner with type) would make it on air with a misspelling (one of our best was 'Director of Pubic Works.' oops.). So the other day I just chuckled a little when I saw this on CNN during "the Newsroom". It happens. But when it showed up again 15 minutes later in "The Situation Room"... oops. (they have a lot of rooms, huh?) It still doesn't beat the promo for a Fine Living sweepstakes that ran for a couple weeks recently with the end graphic misspelled. God Bless spellcheck.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:51 PM
July 30, 2007
After about 3 weeks with my iPhone, a lot of people are asking how I like it. I know its the cool thing to do to trash the iPhone, so I'm sure I'll hear it on this one. What's my review? Is it worth the price? Is it as good as the hype? Surprisingly, its even better.
Since no other phone talks to a Mac successfully, that part answers itself - managing my contacts and calendars on my computers and having them match my phone automatically is great. Aside from that, yes, you can get another phone that does the same things (or most of them), but what I underestimated is how easily iPhone does them. Like a Mac, things are intuitive and just make sense, there's no having to figure out where things are or how to do them, they're just there. The email is quick and easy - jpegs are already there. Click on an attachment in an email (like a word document or a pdf) and it opens. Click on a phone number in an email and it calls it. Click on a sender in an email and all their contact info comes up. They keyboard was unexpectedly easy to master. It helps that I happen to watch the keyboard and not what I'm typing - the auto correct/guess feature fixes fairly accurately, so even if my fingers hit a wrong character or two, it corrects itself. One of the best features which I never expected to use as much as I do is the maps. The realtime traffic is handy to have before getting on the road somewhere. And if you want to find the nearest ice cream, for example, or banana republic, just type it in, and they're plotted on the map. One more click takes you to more detailed info - address, phone number, website, etc. When I was in San Francisco, a friend recommended a place for dim sum, but all he could remember was that it was near 9th and Folsom: he didn't know the name or the street it was on. So I called up a map of that area, typed in dim sum, and there it was. One more click took me to the website or called the restaurant. In San Diego last weekend I took a wrong turn and ended up in some other part of town than I meant to be in. I pulled over and plopped in the nearest intersection and I instantly knew where I was. And even little things like seeing the face of who's calling when they call - and good type on a clean and clear screen make it a pleasure to use. Features like YouTube and the iPod work fine too - they're beautiful eye candy, but I don't find myself using either of those a lot. At least not yet.
A lot of the complaints I've heard or read haven't been problems for me. It almost always finds wi-fi, but I don't find the web access all that slow when not on wifi - id say about equivalent to dial-up. To me, thats not bad for a phone. The camera has taken large and nice pictures for me, though I've heard complaints from others. Not having a detachable battery in theory could certainly be a problem, though I've never even gotten to a low battery with mine even with constant use all day long.
Complaints? The speaker-mode isn't real loud. The vibrate isn't real strong. But those are pretty minor. You can find lots of potential advances that software updates may change. Having GPS would make the maps amazing. You can't send a photo in a text message - though you can email them with one click. I'm definitely curious to see where future updates and models take it. And like I said, any phone that could talk to a Mac would have been worth it to me, but this is far beyond what I imagined. And all that smaller than my hand and thinner than a pencil? Yup, ilove.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:55 PM
July 29, 2007
My friend Rusty came down today (see his blog in the links listing) while dogsitting his friends dog, Hud. We grabbed some food nearby and then decided to take Hud to the Dog Beach in Long Beach. I hadn't been to the dog beach before, but my friend Darrin has told me a lot about it. It was even better than I imagined. Essentially, Long Beach has zoned a 3 acre strip along the beach as an off-leash area for dogs. People hang out on the beach while their dogs romp freely with them and others just walk with their dogs much like at a typical dog park. I was surprised how agreeable everyone was and how there wasn't any of that tension you get at dog parks sometimes when dogs get a little too playful. Hud seemed to be in sensory overload as though he was not sure what to do first. He seemed to be looking at us like "what, no leash? I can just go...play?!" He was well behaved as far as being friendly, but terrible at stealing other dogs toys (or good at it, depending on how you look at it.) Even though we apologized, noone cared; everyone laughed. How refreshing. Hud hasn't taken to water yet, though we tried to get him to. The more he played, the more worn out he got, and the less willing to try going in the water. But he seemed happy anyway. Then again, so did everyone.
Long Beach should be applauded for their dog zone. There has been a campaign for years to open one in LA at Dockweiler Beach behind LAX. Despite support from the mayor and city council, it looks like the bill has died the last two years in the State Senate. It sure would be great to have something positive like this in our community instead of having to look to Long Beach. You can email Assemblyman Ted Lieu to express your support for giving dogs a beach in LA at Assemblymember.Lieu@assembly.ca.gov; and til then, the drive to Long Beach is well worth it.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:26 PM
July 27, 2007
So, I'll grant you its kinda cheap just to link to some YouTube video as a blogpost. I try not to do it too often, but occasionally I just gotta share. I don't know how I stumbled across these, but these are just plain whacked. Apparently the inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Cebu, Phillipines participate in choreographed dance numbers en masse. I couldn't find any definitive info to explain whether this is forced (like I'm sure they have much choice) or whether its some sort of exercise program. Regardless, the best of these is their re-enactment of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." And no, thats no woman. Almost as amusing is their version of "Hail Holy Queen" from Sister Act. I'm resisting using puns here, but you just gotta wonder about the warden. That, or wonder what the guys did to have to wear the nun habits. And if you can't get enough, see their version of Queen's "Radio GaGa."
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:40 PM
July 26, 2007
I had to do a doubletake when I passed by this gas station in San Diego last weekend. Yup, it really says "Homeland Petroleum" complete with a Nazi-esque eagle emblem. eek. Gee, think the profits from this one go straight to Dick Cheney and the Republicans? Luckily, I didn't need gas.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:54 PM
July 25, 2007
So while we're on the topic of food... When I travel, I always enjoy finding local favorites - both foods and restaurants. To me its an important part of experiencing a place - literally getting the local flavor. Because a lot of "finds" come from internet searching, I like to post the results for others doing future searches, as well as for anytime you may find yourself in the same cities; plus, its a way of supporting the mom and pop places over the big chains. So, here are some of the finds from my recent time in San Francisco with my friend Myron (who also enjoys finding local favorites - another thing that makes him such a good travel buddy):
Chow - a local reliable standby I've been to before on Church St, its woods make it feel warm and comfortable, with friendly service of casual american foods and twists on comfort foods, plus a good beer selection
Pasta Pomodoro - to their credit, I didn't realize until now that this is a chain, but their french toast is unlike anything I've ever had. They make it with sourdough and serve it with bananas, walnuts, and marscarpone sauce. Its a must.
Orphan Andys - a staple of the Castro, it isn't really anything special, though I did love the feeling it gave me of San Francisco in the 70's. It feels as though little has changed since then, and I felt like I was in a chapter of Tales of the City. It was fun to experience rather than wish for something that is long gone. We went here mainly just because we were starved and couldn't find anything else open that late. I ordered a cream cheese burger - only because I had no idea what it possibly could be. It was literally a big slab of cream cheese on a burger. Go figure. But it was damn tasty.
Canton Chinese - many people we asked sent us here for Dim Sum. It was my first Dim Sum experience, so I don't have much to judge by, but everything I had was excellent, and the staff was extremely friendly and attentive.
Sears Fine Food - another long-standing San Francisco tradition, known for their little Swedish Pancakes. Make sure you get yours with Lingonberries; and even better, add a touch of something sweet with the Lingonberries - like a touch of syrup or a strawberry - the combo is pretty amazing. Mine came with corned beef hash, which was pretty damn good too.
Lefty O'Douls - more an experience than great food - Lefty's is another institution that has been around forever, serving pastrami sandwiches and cafeteria-style basics in the middle of a very boisterous sports bar.
Dotties True Blue Cafe - this was a late find, but apparently this tiny but casual and warmly comfortable dive has such a following that the line on weekend mornings can take hours. I missed the cornmeal blueberry pancakes that bring lots of people to Dotties, but their regular cinnamon-laced ones covered in fruit were great. I went on a weekday at lunchtime - no lines at all.
There's no shortage of great food everywhere in San Francisco. And even better, its a pedestrian city. Good thing, too!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:16 PM
July 24, 2007
Believe it or not, I'm actually a pretty healthy eater. I know, you'd never know it from this blog. But I'm all about experiences - unique distinctive places, sights, and yes, foods. I don't believe you're experiencing a place if you're not sampling whatever is unique and native to where you are, and when thats the case with food, healthy doesn't apply. (To me, thats the reason for eating healthy, so that you break the rules when they're worth breaking.)
Southern California is home to a fast food chain called In-N-Out. Rumors are flying around New York about In-N-Out opening there, but from what I've read, those are only rumors (we hope so). [In-N-Out did expand to Arizona and Nevada in the 90's.] The menu at In-N-Out is deceptively simple. Burgers, french fries, shakes, and sodas. Thats it. All are made fresh (even the french fries) with a unique level of quality control in their ingredients and cleanliness in their stores. But what's deceptively simple about the menu is the not so secret "Secret Menu". There are ways you can order any menu item that don't appear on any signage. Order your burger "grilled cheese" and you get it without the meat. Order "animal style" and you get mustard-cooked beef with pickle, extra sauce, and grilled onions in addition to the regular ingredients. Order a "3x3" and you get three beef patties. Order fries "light" and you get them slightly undercooked. You get the idea. Badmouth.net has a great writeup with pictures of much of the secret menu in the link below. Next time you go, make it a true In-N-Out experience and experience the secret menu for yourself.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:39 PM
July 23, 2007
Sorry for the gap in posts over the weekend... I took an impromptu trip on Saturday night to join some friends from here who were down in San Diego and visit my favorite bar 'The Hole' on Sunday. My original plan was to catch a ride with my friend Kris from San Diego who was on his way back to SD from LA on Saturday morning and take a train back. It turned out to be a good example for the question I'm often asked of "how do you like working for yourself?": its great, but it isn't as free as it may sound. A project I was working on turned out to be much more complicated than expected, and I was still working up until 9pm on Saturday night. Yet by then, I had decided I was going down no matter what, so I just drove. It was a fun weekend.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:21 PM
July 21, 2007
July 18, 2007
You've undoubtedly heard some of the hoopla about David Beckham and his wife Posh Spice moving to LA. I'll admit, when the LA Galaxy soccer/football club first signed him, I was shocked. But I'm intrigued, it somehow gives an immediate legitimacy to American soccer. I didn't grow up around soccer, so it was never on my radar. The passion for it I saw in Brazil and Europe intrigued me though, and this is probably the straw that'll get me to go to a game here.
The team has unveiled a new look and logo to coincide with Beckham joining the team. Brand New (where the top image was stolen from) had a mediocre review of it today, but I have to say I think its excellent. The old logo always seemed like a second thought to me - more like a drive-in theatre or a diner than a sports franchise. The use of the crest shape gives the new logo a tie to European soccer (football!) identities which gives the Galaxy an instant level of credibility: no longer seeming like some second-rate American sport. The starburst is clean, simple, and dynamic, as is the deep blue and gold replacing the old green and gold. They have resisted the overdone twenty-elements-in-one-logo phenomenon typical in sports logos. And best of all, there are no unnecessary gradations, bevels, swooshes, and edges that I constantly rant about. The type is a little cutesy with the unnecessary break in the A and rounded L, but overall, the new identity is bold, regal, and sharp. This is a rare level of simplicity and cleanliness for a recent sports logo. Goooooooal!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:48 PM
July 17, 2007
By now you may have already run across this one. Its no "kitty washing machine", but it still just plain makes me laugh. Apparently it has been on YouTube for a while, and even longer on the web, but for some reason has suddenly become one of the current most popular videos, so I figured I'd do my part to help it along even more. This is Loona, the dog of comedian Louis CK, trying to drink out of a sprinkler at a park. Enjoy!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:01 PM
July 16, 2007
So a couple weeks ago I posted a teaser about July 4th in the South Bay, but then never had a chance to follow up with the details as the trip to San Francisco filled up both my time and the blog!... So, stepping back a few days...
For years everyone I know in LA always complained that nothing goes on here on the 4th. Now that I live in the Beach Cities (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo), I've learned what I was missing out on. The stretch of beach at that runs the three towns becomes one big party. And my favorite tradition of them all is the Hermosa Beach Iron Man. The Iron Man has existed for a third as long as Hermosa Beach has, yet as Hermosa turns more and more into a haven for the suburban BMW/Olive-Gardeniate-mansion types, the tradition finds itself threatened. For their Ironman, 300 guys and girls run a mile on the beach, paddle a mile on a surfboard, and then down a six pack of beer. The first to hold down the six pack for twenty minutes without ralphing wins the competition. It seems the women competitors often win or at least give the guys a good run for their money. But the fun of the event is less about the winners (despite their being hoisted aloft by the crowd) but more about the spectacle it creates. Considering the size of the crowd, its surprisingly funloving and peaceful. Sure its senseless and arguably vulgar, but I hope Hermosa doesn't lose this bit of its character and tradition as it continues to turn into homogenous suburban sprawl.
After the Iron Man, we were, well...thirsty! So we dropped into the Poopdeck before biking down to Naja's in Redondo for some food and beers. We decided to try our hand at skeeball in the arcade, but never ended up with enough tickets to get the alternating Jesus/Mary clock. We capped the night off with Redondo's great fireworks display. Things had definitely quieted down as I biked the beach back to El Porto. God Bless America!
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:02 PM