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DTLA skyline in a glass







Skyline (skywine) #Dtla photo taken by @rednikki

A photo posted by Mike Rainey (@raineymike) on



I didn't have my mobile phone on hand so I took this one with Mike's and he posted it. This is one of my favorite photos that I've ever taken.

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Every year on our anniversary, we open a bottle of our anniversary wine. (Here are our comments from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010; we neglected to write it up before that.) We opened it a couple of days ago but I didn't get a chance to write up our notes until now.

For the past couple of years I've been wondering if the wine has turned the corner, but I think some bottles have held up better than others given this year.

The cork began to crumble as I took it out, which gave me no confidence that the wine inside was going to be good. But as soon as the seal was broken on the bottle, an intense scent filled the room, reminding both of us why we loved this wine so much. It was full and ripe, like new leather, tobacco and raisin.

We took a sip right out of the bottle. "The spirit of a blackberry just floats over it," Mike said.

My impression was somewhat more metaphorical; to me, it tasted like reading leather-bound books in an easy chair by a crackling fire. It also evoked a scene for Mike. "It feels like the holidays in my mouth," he said. "Very nostalgic."

The flavors were thick and intense on the tongue. It was very full-bodied. The wine itself was almost opaque, and the kitchen light shining through it cast a ruby-red stain on the counter.

The tannins at the end were a little astringent, a surprise in a wine that's over 10 years old. Mike said, "I can still taste some of the grape peel on the end of that."

We let the wine breathe for several hours before we drank the rest with friends. The rough edges of the tannins rounded out, although there was still an astringency to it. We all agreed that it didn't taste like a wine that had been waiting for 11 years to be drunk.

I'm glad to have this reminder of what it tastes like at full power, as well as the reminder of the bottle-to-bottle differences in wine. I'm looking forward to what next year brings.
I am really a wash and go person, but now that I've decided to grow my hair out for a bit*, wash-and-go isn't an option. Due to strange cowlicks and other issues, my hair does unflattering things at this length when I wash and go.

So today, fortified with videos like the below, I blow-dried my own hair, salon style. Given that I don't wash my hair often (not like I leave it filthy! just that it's gotten much less oily over the years) it seemed worth investing 20 minutes of my time in order to make myself look better.

Things I learned:

  1. I have hairclips kicking around the drawer next to my blow dryer!

  2. They aren't kidding about the hair clips. Seriously. That may be the best tip I learned from this.

  3. As if I needed any more confirmation that my proprioception is awful, this gave it to me. I'd look in the mirror, see that the blow dryer was too far back to actually hit any of my hair...and then find myself moving it back further rather than forward. This made the process take about 50% longer than it should have.

  4. If you are looking for an upper arm workout, look no further. My biceps, triceps and shoulders are now quite sore. Gee, I wonder why holding a four-pound hairdryer at head height with precision for 20 minutes would do that?

  5. Following on to point 4, I now understand why "ligthweight" is such a selling point for blow dryers.

  6. I have a lot of hair. Like, a lot of hair. And this is even with a substantial undercut. I look like I've got two other people's hair on my head in addition to my own. Pictorial evidence to follow.

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Earthquake!

The first earthquake I experienced in California was quite alarming. I haven't been so freaked out since and I thought it was because I'd become LA-Story-ized.

No! It turns out the first earthquake I experienced was a 4.9. Since then, the worst I've experienced is round about a 4.

For the layperson:
3: "Gee, that was a nice little shake!"
3.5: "Did a bus hit my house?" (it's LA, it's a valid question)
4: "This building sounds like the whales in Star Trek IV. Shoud I hide under a table?"
4.5: "MAKE ROOM FOR ME UNDER THAT TABLE!!!"

I am not sure what a 5+ feels like and I would prefer to remain ignorant.

My building's been here since the 1920s and it's withstood a number of earthquakes. That means it will be fine next time, right? RIGHT?

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is even better than you were told it would be. It is relentless and flawless. Tom Hardy made Mel Gibson a distant memory; Charlize Theron was unbelievable. It's loaded with complex female characters and non-stop action.

AND, for the Farscape fans - it's littered with people you may recognize!

This film deserves to be seen in a theater. Run don't walk!

No comment

I can read everyone's posts, but I can't comment on anything. I'd ask if you're having the same problem, but if you are you won't be able to comment here either.

ETA: Just checked: I get an unhandled error exception when I try to comment on MY OWN JOURNAL!!!

Two quakes don't make a pattern, I hope

The two earthquakes this week have both taken place along the Newport-Inglewood fault, the second one taking place a couple of miles north of the first one.

If a third one takes place that is a bit further north, it will be right under my office where the Newport-Inglewood fault meets the Santa Monica and Hollywood faults.

While it would certainly be an exciting new experience to have an earthquake epicenter right under my building while I'm sitting on the 31st floor, I think all in all it's an experience I can live without!

TIL!

English has alternating stress patterns that indicate whether related words are nouns (first syllable stressed) or verbs (second syllable stressed):

Noun: récord
Verb: recórd

Places I slept 2014

Do planes count? Gosh, I hope so.

  1. Los Angeles, CA

  2. Austin, TX

  3. In the air over Central America (LAN 2605)

  4. Sao Paulo, Brazil

  5. Lima, Peru

  6. Carmel, CA

  7. Monterey, CA

  8. Santa Rosa, CA

  9. El Dorado Hills, CA

  10. San Francisco, CA

  11. Seattle, WA

  12. Mashpee, MA

  13. Boston, MA

  14. Miami, FL

  15. Washington, DC

  16. McLean, VA

  17. In the air over the US and Atlantic (DL 89)

  18. Budapest, Hungary

  19. On a train from Budapest to Prague

  20. Prague, Czech Republic

  21. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  22. On a plane over Russia/China (KLM 861)

  23. Tokyo, Japan

  24. On a plane over the Pacific (SQ12)

  25. On a plane over the Pacific (VA2) ETA: Just to be clear, this and the above were my back-to-back sleeps.

  26. The Rocks, Sydney, Australia

  27. Brisbane, Australia

  28. Wooloomooloo, Sydney, Australia

  29. Lower Hutt, New Zealand

  30. Wellington, New Zealand

  31. (ETA) On a plane over the Pacific (VA1)

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Los Angeles has reached peak craft fair

Back in the '90s on the DC goth/industrial scene, there was a point where nearly everyone wanted to be a DJ. The problem is, when everyone is DJing, there's no one left to be the audience.

As I look at the schedule of craft fairs in Los Angeles, I wonder if that's happening here.

Last weekend had Artisinal LA, Remodelista and Unique LA. This weekend there was the Renegade Craft Fair, the Echo Park Craft Fair, the Angel City Brewing Craft Fair, and something that looked craft-fair-like at Pershing Square (but we didn't stop). Many of these are large scale craft fair which have anywhere from one hundred to two hundred makers appearing.

I am THE target market for these things, and yet the only one of these I went to was the Angel City Brewing Craft Far - and that was just because we had some growlers to fill before Mike had people over to watch the Seahawks. On our walk to the car we saw signs leading to a parking lot that had...yes, a combo craft fair/flea market.

I'm the target market, and yet I'm not shopping there anymore. I have al the laser-cut bamboo earrings, hand-made tote bags, sort-of-unique necklaces, artisanal pot holders and what-have-you that I need. Surprisingly, I even have all the handmade soaps that I need. I would be a prime market for clothes, but the clothes at craft fairs never come near my size. (Interestingly, in NZ and Australia the clothes at craft fairs did come up to my size - and it's not like there are fewer fat peple who are fans of craft markets in the US, so I'm not sure how the logic works.) If I am crafted out, I wonder if the general audience is starting to burn out as well.

Or perhaps Los Angeles will soon become The Craft Fair Singularity, lined with nothing but booths selling small-batch kombucha, hand-crafted underwear woven from the fur of ethically farmed alley cats, artisanal wooden iPhone holders hewn from the last remaining redwoods, laser-cut wooden toast presses, woven organic biodynamic palm-frond handbags, terrariums of succulents whose roots grow on a form to create a bespoke onesie for your yet-unborn child, fake mustaches on a stick made from real (sustainable!) hipster mustaches and fair-trade hand-blown artisanal fluorescent lightbulbs.

Dec. 11th, 2014

I'm so glad to be with a partner who cried as much at the ending of The Lego Movie as I did!
Here's video of our little private room in our MAV-START sleeper car from Budapest to Prague. The train may have actually been Czech (České dráhy) rail stock - I'm not 100% sure. (The "hi, Mom" is because we did a series of video letters to my Mom.)

Okay, LJ, I'm paid up!

I didn't realize that when you don't pay up, LJ forces your commenters to type in an ad before they can comment.

Sorry guys! Paid up now!

My passport will never be full

A couple of years ago the US, along with a number of other countries, has switched to passports with RFID chips in them. When a USAnian enters certain countries, including Australia and New Zealand, the passport is read by an e-reader and the process is largely automatic.

Because the passport is automatically read and logged, one's passport is no longer stamped.

My passport stamps are some of my most important souvenirs from my travels - but I don't have them from my most recent trip (except for my entry to Australia, due to an issue with the machine). My visas were electronic too - the Australian visa has been electronic for what feels like forever.

On the other hand, I cleared customs and passport control in about 10 minutes. So there's that...

Light switches and toilets and door handles

When I used to go abroad, part of the fun was going to shops that no one I knew had ever heard of. Now it seems like every major European and Japanese and Australian city is required to have at least one of each of the following:

  • Forever 21

  • Zara

  • H & M

  • Uniqlo

In addition, every European city seems to have at least one Foot Locker, and probably five; every European and Japanese city has Claire's everywhere you turn. And then there's all the luxury stores - Gucci and Burberry and Fendi and Louis Vuitton and Prada - which left me singing this song:

But there are still certain things that are different. Outlets, of course. (The fact that individual outlets have power switches on them to turn current on and off was, I thought, a uniquely Australian thing, but according to Apartment Therapy it's common in Europe too.) But smaller things, things you wouldn't think about, are different.

There's a defined height for light switches in this country, and you'd assume that it's defined that way because it's the ergonomically correct positioning. That doesn't seem to be the case. Every country I've been to positions their light switches at a different height - sometimes very different. (And then there was the hotel where all the lights were controlled by your mobile phone, but that's a whole different story.) Usually they're higher. And they don't look the way we're accustomed to here in the US - in fact, the most common light switch style I ran into was this one.

Door knobs, too, are often higher than you expect in the US. And most of the ones I saw seem to be a lever-type knob rather than a round knob.

The dual-button (half-flush vs. full-flush) toilets, in general, are genius and they should be common here. I found it surprising that every public toilet in Japan was either a squatter or something that was so space-age that it came with a manual - alas, all in Japanese. But wow, those high tech toilet seats! They're warm! They have multiple functions, some of which if you trigger them at the wrong time will cause you to enact a scene worthy of Bridesmaids! They will play soothing music for you to conceal the noise of your bodily functions! And, as we tragically discovered when we got home, they're way out of our price range.

34 hours into the longest Tuesday ever

Due to the magic of time zones and the International Date Line, I am now in the 35th hour of Tuesday, December 2.

I have traveled a lot over the past month and it was good, but I'm really looking forward to spending seven days in the same time zone. (More, since I have no plans to travel out of the time zone for the next couple of months.)

There are some wonderful things we got on our round the world trip and they were waiting for me when I got home! It was like getting presents all over again.

Work was incredibly productive. I had a couple of ten-minute face to face conversations which would have been five weeks of emails. There's just some things that can be resolved face to face in a way they can't online.

I did not get the special Turkish Delight Tim-Tams, which makes me sad mostly from a completist point of view. But I got the new Peanut Butter flavor, which most of my coworkers hadn't even heard of.

You know what I like about Australia and New Zealand? Size 16 isn't plus-size and often size 18 isn't either. I didn't buy the gorgeous chartreuse designer jacket for $950, but just the fact that it was an option was really nice.

I could post lots and lots of disconnected thoughts, but I think I'll save it for when I'm less jetlagged.

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Dear fucking cold virus

Dear fucking cold virus,

Die die die die die die die.

No love,

Me

Ignore WAYN and/or delete your account

I was inspecting the travel website WAYN as part of my day job. There was a feature that requested my Gmail address and said that it would not email anyone I knew.

Since everyone I know has apparently gotten an email, it clearly lied.

My apologies to everyone who received a message. I have deleted my account and I recommend you do so as well if you were bamboozled by that message, which I did not give them permission to send.

Surface 3 tablet (and Windows 8) review

We got new technology at work. I had a choice between a Dell and a Surface Pro 3 tablet. I picked the Surface. Here's my thoughts so far.

First off: it is slightly larger and slightly heavier than an iPad, but it's so much lighter than my boat anchor of a previous work laptop that I have no complaints. (Eight years ago that laptop was probably awesome, but devices have come a long way in eight years.) It's roughly the size of an 8.5"x11" notebook, which means that the screen is actually pretty robust.

My favorite thing about the device: THE BOOT TIME OMG. I pick it up, tap the on switch and literally in two seconds I'm logging in, in three seconds it's completely up and running and in five seconds I'm in Outlook. With my old machine, I could grab a cup of coffee between the time I logged in and the time Outlook was up. Heck, sometimes I could grab a cup of coffee before the login screen even came up. It's made a huge, positive difference to my productivity and I smile every time I turn it on.

It also latches on to my WiFi network really quickly. It takes my MacBook Pro a good 5-10 seconds to connect to wifi when I open it, even if it's been powered on; I have no wait time with the Surface.

This is a powerful device. It does more than the iPad and it does it faster. I find the iPad is OK for a few things (playing games, looking at Flipboard, sending short emails), but it's not very good at most of the things I do for work. Even emails, for that matter - it's fine for responding to the most recent correspondence but it's a nightmare when I need to search for old messages I've sent.

I don't know how the Surface is for graphics because I haven't installed Photoshop, but boy can you create and edit a presentation in PowerPoint fast on it. It handles Office well, it handles email well, and it allows me to do all the web stuff I need to do with great efficiency.

The touch pad is very sensitive, and this could be annoying except...I pretty much don't use it. I'm either tapping things on the screen itself or I'm using the stylus to tap things and move things around. LOVE. Whenever I replace my MacBook Pro (and it will probably be years), I want its replacement to have a touch screen. Funny thing: I tried to add a sentence to this post and I found myself tapping the screen to insert the cursor. Clearly, I've become habituated.

The keyboard/cover is thin, but the keyboard itself is about as large as the one on my MacBook Pro and it works just fine. I have not had any problems. I didn't even notice any transition, to be honest.

The screen is a bit on the Squintyvision side. Probably not an issue for young whippersnappers, but us old folks may have to adjust. Things are very clear, but everything is smaller than it is on my Retina display laptop, and I find my Retina display laptop tends to render things a bit on the small side as compared to previous devices I've used. (Yes, yes, I know, I can change this all in Settings, but I like having lots of space to work on my screen, and if things are small then you can fit more in. I will probably wind up adjusting these things into Computer: Large Type Edition in the next 2-3 years.)

I only have one downside that has to do with the device itself. Because of the way it's constructed, you can't really balance it on your lap unless you have something flat and hard underneath it - the kickstand works well on a hard flat surface but is imperfect in your lap. I've been using a large cutting board and that works fine, but as someone who is used to being able to use a laptop in my lap it's a little annoying.

Most of my downsides have to do with Windows 8.

I understand the concept behind Windows 8 - the idea of being able to place widgets for everything you need on your start screen. I can sort of understand this from a phone perspective but it breaks down when you get to the size of the Surface.
Often, what I do when I'm working is navigate to the file and open it. The tiles on my dash don't let me do that easily - I wind up going to my desktop to do it.

In addition, it's got tiles built in that integrate OneDrive, Outlook, etc. I was really excited about this because I thought I could at least get use out of the tiles that way. Unfortunately, Microsoft has designed it so that those tiles only work with the home version of the software. If you're working with OneDrive for Business, you cannot integrate it with the OneDrive tile on your dash. Same with Outlook - we all use the Outlook app and there's no way for me to integrate it with the Outlook tile. The only way for me to access those things is to move away from the tiles and back to the desktop. It's very frustrating.

It's especially frustrating because I really like the concept. I would like to be able to look at my dash and see the last 5 emails that came in, a couple of headlines relative to my industry, and the last couple of files I opened/edited, all directly in front of me so I can get it all at a glance. But I can't, because it's not integrated with the enterprise versions of Outlook and OneDrive.

This lack of integration hampers me in another area, too. We've made the move to the cloud, which in general I'm happy with. But because of the poor integration of Outlook, OneDrive, etc., if someone emails me a file I can't save it directly to my OneDrive. I have to download it to my device and then upload it to my OneDrive. If I did that once a week, it'd be fine, but I do it multiple times a day. This is so tedious I can't even begin to tell you.

In order to use a lot of features on the Surface, you need to sync with your Microsoft personal account. I could not sync with a Microsoft personal account even if I had one because this is not my personal computer. I'm frankly surprised that no one at Microsoft who worked on this thought of how the account system might be applied in an enterprise situation.

One thing I do find nifty in Windows 8? The News app, which is reminiscent of Flipboard. Unlike Flipboard you can have pretty much unlimited sources on your display. Flipboard limits you to about 30 sources (3 pages of tiles) although there is a way to look at more. What Flipboard does better, however, is allowing you to curate sources and sections, move what order they appear in, etc. The News app does...sort of...but it's clumsy and a real chore. I gave up after a few minutes, and I'm really particular about how my news comes up and willing to invest a lot in getting it just right.

If Windows 8 was better, I would probably look at making my next personal device a Surface. If I were a Windows person, I probably would make my next personal device a Surface. But they'll have to make a lot of optimizations to Windows 8 before I'm tempted to migrate my personal setup.

Aug. 6th, 2014

Comic Con is the inverse of Burning Man.

Discuss.

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