Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rambling before Bed

Not much of note to post about lately. I feel as though I need to post...something. Too many days have passed without even a book review. That's not like me at all (especially since I have three books awaiting quickie reviews).

Let's see....

I'm driving my Mom to her cataract surgery next week. That should be interesting, since I'll be spending the night before at my folks. I haven't stayed at their house in at least 15 years. My Mom has waited too long for this. She's blind in her right eye,, and thiugh the cataract was determined to be "ripe" in December (as if it were a tomato), yet the doctor forced her to wait three months to schedule any surgery. Three months! Would the doctor have made his mother wait for three months to restore her vision?

On another note, we decided to vacation in Spain this year. Tickets have been purchased. And we'll stay with my cousin and his husband in Madrid. This will mark Caesar's first trip outside of North America, and I can't wait to show him the Prado, the Plaza Major, and even Chueca. We may even make a day trip to Barcelona.

And that's about it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bird List

I've mentioned it before, but I really do enjoy using my Audubon Birds Pro app. Usually, the fun quickly wears away for me, which is why I don't purchase and download more apps, but for some reason, this one has stuck with my and my iPhone. Much of the enjoyment probably stems from my lunchtime walks near the office, which is located near the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, so it's fairly easy to spot a variety of birds. So far I've identified:

Away from the reserve, I've always begun noticing more and more birds and adding them to my list:

  • Brown Pelican (Oceanside, CA)
  • Ring-billed Gull (Long Beach, CA)
  • Rock Pigeons (Primm, NV. Heck, these birds are everywhere.)
  • Western Sandpiper (Long Beach, CA)
  • Western Gull (Long Beach, CA)

I notice on my walks that I tend to pay more attention to the birds around me and can recognize species that I've identified before. Which is both cool and surprising. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

iTunes Saturday - Moment

Leading up to the Grammys a few weeks ago, I read an article about LGBT artists who deserved nominations, like Mary Lambert for Secrets as well as the artist for today's iTunes selection. I love dance music and am surprised that I missed this song when it was released a few years ago. I'm not a fan of the video, but the song itself is great: a good beat and lyrics, and I like his voice. This song is now one of my favorites, and if it appears on my iTunes shuffle, I always press repeat. Here's Bright Light Bright Light with Disco Moment:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Busy Weekend

Before heading up to Los Angeles for our Valentine's Day celebration, we made a quick stop in Pomona for one of Caesar's great nephew's birthdays. His first birthday, to be exact. Lots of kids, lots of food, a bouncy house, an ice cream truck, and an Elmo pinata. The kids made quick work of the pinata: knocked off both legs and spilled all the candy within 10 minutes.

As the kids scooped up the candy, we headed for the Ahmanson to see Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye--The Farewell Tour. We laughed hysterically for the next two-and-a-half hours as she tastefully insulted a few audience members, did a little song and dance, and tossed gladiolas to the first few rows. But the best part occurred during the second act, when she brough two people on stage,claiming that she knew they were soul mates and faux wed them. Granted it was a gay man who's husband was in the audience and a 77-year old woman whose husband was also in the audience. But then, Dame Edna telephoned the man's Mother and embarrassed him even more. Such a fun night....

On Sunday, the Valentine's celebration continued with yet another show, this time the Dancing with the Stars Live! Tour. Alfonso Ribeiro hosted and presented some of his dances from the show -- including the Carlton. Of course, a few of the pros were there like Val Chmerkovskiy (who performed shirtless) and Mark Ballas. They danced, sang, and Val even played the violin.  We've attended two tapings of the TV show, and the tour was much more exciting, seeing the dances live, watching all that fast footwork. And just like Dame Edna, this was another fun night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nails on a Chalkboard

During the past few weeks, my brakes would gently squeak while backing up. I thought perhaps they just needed to be cleaned since I hadn't washed my car in a few months. But my procrastination streak sunk in deep, and I neglected washing the car. Then a few days ago, I began hearing an occasional sound of metal catching and scraping. It lasted only seconds and would remain silent the remainder of the day.

Until yesterday.

My Dad called to tell me that their computer was finally back from the technicians, and he asked if I would stop by after work to fetch it and to re-establish its dominance in their lives set it up in their guest bedroom. So I drove from Newport Beach to Laguna Niguel after work, and the sound occurred once while en route. But after I picked up my Mom to take her to Best Buy, the sound reared its head, and Mom noticed. I brushed it off as dirty breaks, but after setting up the computer and leaving for the night, the screeching popped up more often. One time, it made itself known while I stepped on the gas. Another, rounding a corner. The pièce de résistance waited until I stopped at a drive thru to pick up dinner for Caesar. With the food safely in the passenger's seat, I eased into the u-turn to leave, and a horrific noise—like dozens of elongated fingernails scraping across a chalkboard—echoed across the parking lot. The other drivers turned to stare, and I sheepishly made my way onto the street and back home, the devil sound never diminishing until I turned off the engine.

So this morning, I drove to the mechanics and learned that both front brakes were worn to the sensors, the rotors were damaged, and the rear brakes had glazed due to all the hills I drive going to/from work each day. Four hours and $690 later, my car has a new set of brakes. No screeching or dragging claws. Just peace and quiet.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

iTunes Saturday - All I Need

For this week's selection, I wanted a love song in honor of Valentines Day, but a quick scan of the songs in my iTunes list made me realize that I don't have many love songs. Classic rock, Dance, 80s pop, chill, electronica. But nothing truly romantic except for one little gem of a song. This particular song was written by the husband and wife team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson but recorded (and released) in 1968 by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It's still one of my all-time favorites. Take a listen to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell with You're All I Need to Get By:

Happy Valentines Day, Caesar!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quickie Book Review: Green Hills of Africa

by Ernest Hemingway

In December of 1933, Hemingway traveled to Africa with his wife Pauline for a hunting safari. Green Hills of Africa chronicles the last days of that safari: the pseudo-competition with a fellow hunter named Karl; the varied and amusing personalities of the members of his hunting party (his wife, known as the P.O.M.; his father; the different guides and tribesmen they meet during their stay); the differing landscapes to be found in Africa, from rocky mountains to grasslands untouched by travelers to salt flats surrounded by hard, red ground; and, of course, the many animals they encounter while Hemingway hunts for a greater kudu and its magnificent horns.

The story is a slow and steady build as Hemingway introduces the members of his safari and slowly attempts to hunt the greater kudu over several days. His frustration mounts as each day passes and the kudu eludes him, and he spends evenings around the fire discussing the virtues of different writers and the best method for hunting. Nothing too drastic happens until the final few chapters, when Hemingway is down to his final day in Africa. His guides take him to a new territory, and soon they catch sight of the kudu and race after the animal through seemingly untouched territory. It's during the last few chapters that the excitement of the hunt finally appeared and captured my imagination, running alongside them, hiding in the grass, scaling the rough rocks as they follow the animal's trail.

I'm not accustomed to non-fiction from Hemingway, but this is a decent story—one the slowly builds into an exhilarating adventure. A nice glimpse into the master writer's personal life.

Green Hills of Africa
by Ernest Hemingway
Scribner (2003)
trade paperback, 295 pgs.