Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flick War

i almost forgot to do a screen capture for my flickr stats today until john direct messaged me on twitter. here it is.

just watch, i will come from behind! i will overtake him!

Monday, June 29, 2009

That Was Quick

i helped my friend ron create a facebook account today and it amazed me how many people were sitting around on facebook. within two minutes of creating an account and adding friends, two people confirmed him as a friend on facebook. with in 5 minutes 8 people had confirmed him. 20 minutes later, who knows how many others have confirmed him.

but that is the point. there were just that many people sitting around in front of their computer (or in randy's case - checking facebook on his phone). no wonder people are so impatient these days. long gone are the days of waiting a week, a day, or even a few hours for a response. with twitter, facebook, and even text messaging, i expect a response within minutes and, of course, have known to get one within seconds.

the article The Death of Michael Jackson Sounds the Death Knell of Traditional Media and the Rise of the "Global Grapevine" by Pamela Cox-Otto, Ph.D says it all too well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why update?

my friend recently wrote to me about my facebook habbits. he asked "do people really care if your eating ribs?" and later asked "Are people bored?"

i have no idea. it could be boredom. the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail seems absurd. why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? each little update is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane and so brief it's virtually meaningless, but taken together, over time, the little bits coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family's lives. sometimes you learn things you never would have otherwise discovered. 

i read other people's updates and everyone seems to have very interesting and rather busy lives. i know it seems like a huge time waster or i hear "i don't have time for things like that, i have more important things to do," but it actually doesn't take up that much time. believe me, it isn't as cognitively demanding to skim through those updates as it is to read a text book or even an email. i'm so busy that without those one or two line updates, i wouldn't have time to keep up many of my social ties. the constant online chatter has made those ties immeasurably richer. 

i find out more than just what they happen to be eating at the moment. i find out about these mile stones in their livevs, that they are getting married, or getting divorced. a new job or one lost. heck i found out my friend kat is in labor right now. three weeks ago i found out my friend's father passed away and all these people wrote to give their support and condolences. it was amazing. 

i think it's great for business networking or for those loose acquaintances. before FB and twitter you might quickly faded from someone's attention, but because they "see" you all the time it's essentially a reminder that you exist. it keeps you socially intimate enough for them to want to help you out if you need a little something one day.

it's a way to be with people without actually being with them. they are with me when i'm waiting for a smog check or some other random in between moment. can't i just be alone you may wonder? yes, absolutely! and i cherish the moments that i am, however, who said i need to have that all the time?

my friend also mentioned that he's "more private than that," however i don't exactly feel that telling people i had sushi for lunch is really a privacy issue. 

facebook, twitter, all that crap, give it a chance.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Chicago Brewing Co.

A few years ago Randy and I discovered The Chicago Brewing Co. located inside the 4 queens Casino. It's a tiny little bar area, but we come here because we like to get the beer sampler. Some beers are really good and some are pretty awful. Randy and I particularly hate the hardway IPA. The weizenheimer is damn good and whatever the seasonal #1 is, it's really good too. It's sweet and almost a dessert beer. For the non alcoholic person in your party, the root beer kicks ass.

The Fremont St Experience

We got out of our hotel just in time to catch the fremont street experience. They played a bunch of KISS songs. The place was rockin'.

The screen is supposed to be the largest in the world and considering it covers the entire block, I'm not surprised.

It's always low key around here, my kind of people. It reminds me of Venice beach with lots of little side shows.

The plaza

Yes, we are staying at the plaza. I've always wanted to stay around the fremont st area.

We got a mini suite. It's not too shabby. The decor is rather dated. The room has a ghetto 20 inch tube TV, but really, who comes to Vegas to watch TV? The shower and toilet area is rather small, but luckily the the double sink area is roomy.

The room itself is spacious with a great view of the las Vegas strip. There is a little bar area with a mini fridge. The best thing is that it sports a walk in closet. The only complaint I have is that it only has 6 hangers. What is the point of all that hanging space if there are only 6 hangers. Do they expect people to bring their own?

We had dinner at the buffet. It's rather limited, but what they do have is good. Randy and I shelled out the extra $7 for the pound of crab legs and it was totally worth it.

Now we're going to head out.

On my way to Vegas

I'm on my way to Vegas to meet up with my friend Matt and get a little with Randy.

We'll be staying at the plaza hotel this time. I've always wanted to stay at the old strip.

Unlike Big Sur, Las Vegas should have ample cell phone signal for me to keep this blog updated.

Wish me luck! Come on hard 8!!! (that's what she said!).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

F*** them bitches

after a few alcoholic beverages the boys tried to give john some friendly advice on how to pick up a girl. most of it consisted of how you should ignore a girl to get her to like you. the theme for the night: fuck them bitches!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mission: get john drunk

chris's mission tonight is to get john drunk. he brought out a nice pink pint of "something" to start with. we'll see where this ends up.

BBQ at Krista's

the camping trip is over, thank goodness we are home. It'll be nice to sleep in my own bed.

for now, the camping gang is over at Krista's place enjoying a BBQ and a warm shower. chris, krista's boyfriend, was kind enough to haul his father's grill over here and cook for all of us.

after this, we are probably going to wii it.

Sebastian's store

Sebastian's Store
442 Slo San Simeon Rd
San Simeon, CA 93452
(805) 927-4217

we took a little potty break at sebastian's store, located across from hearst castle. sebastian's general store started aboard the brigantine sailing ship ayachuchio under the command of scottish whaling captain john wilson, sailing between peru, the sandwich island and california. in 1852 wilson purchased one of seven licenses issued by san luis obsipo county and built the store which has been bought and sold several times since then. recently renovated, sebastian's is a cafe, general store, and gift shop.

it is what i can only describe as "quaint". the store itself is pretty small inside, there are a few tables to eat at inside and a few more outside. it's a pretty neat place to stop if you are looking for a quick bite to eat or grabbing those few last minute camping supplies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sleepy time

1:15am. Just crawled into bed. It feels so good to be warm. It's rather cold here, should have brought warmer clothes.

Anyway, there is hardly any signal out here for my cell phone. there is just enough to make a phone call and text if i stand at just the right spot, but not enough for internet. i'm kind of suffering from withdrawal.

Yes, i'm supposed to be enjoying nature and getting away from technology, but sue me. i enjoy doing this stuff. i'm taking a vacation away from work, not technology. this IS my play. i was hoping to blog by a bubbling brook while drinking a beer underneith a starry sky. hey, some people like golf. i blog for fun.

okay, goodnight all. time for me to roll over and sleep. Got a lot to do in the morning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


krista, kalen, craig, and vergil are still on their way here. pismo beach last time I heard from them.

randy, john and i are starting to set up for dinner. cup-o-noodles to tide us over, then start cooking chili dogs.

hmmm, now we just have to figure out how to put this damn grill together.

iPhone GPS

This is where my iPhone GPS says I am right now. Green dot is home, red dot is destination, blue dot is little old me.

California here we come.

Listening to "California" by Phantom Planet (great song) as we drive down the 101. the pacific is on our left and the sun is shining bright and beautiful!

And we're off!

we were aiming to leave for camping at 8:00am. it's now 11:24am. go figure, filipino time. anyhow, we are off!

We have reservations at fernwood campsite just north of julia pheiffer burns state park. We are due back in SoCal by tuesday night.

i'll update this blog as often as long as I have signal on my iPhone, so check back often.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


last night i went to have a beer with craig down at roscoe's in fullerton. the bartender jeff is rather amazing. the guy knows how to pour a drink.

anyhow, i stood outside smoking with craig, i looked at him and stared. i'm not sure if he even noticed me looking at him in that special way. yes, the photographer in me saw "the light". the green glow of the roscoe's sign mixed with the deep yellow of the sodium vapor from the street light just hit craig in the most interesting way. i flipped around and dug the camera out of my purse. perhaps it was out of friendship, or maybe out of drunkeness, but he stood there and humored me as i walked around for a few moments looking through my viewfinder, trying to find the right angle. he even tried not to laugh as i lay on my stomach on the sidewalk at midnight. here it is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stop motion with wolf and pig

Feast your eyes on Takeuchi Taijin's stop motion masterpiece: Stop motion with wolf and pig.

Takeuchi has this to say about the work:

At first I photographed stop motion animation. And I displayed the photographs in my room and photographed it again. I used 1,300 printed pictures. Enjoy a connection with the world of the room and the world in the photograph. Thanks for watching.Some musicians add music on my video and reupload it. Thank you very much.
オオカミとブタのコマ撮り写真を撮って、それを部屋に置いていく様子を再びコマ撮りに しました。2重コマ撮り。写真と部屋、2次元と3次元が織りなす、次元ハイブリッドコ マドリエクスタシーー!!!!!!

also check out another great great stop motion video: Ms. Carroll

Fish in a Bottle

Fish in a Bottle
10205 Valley View St
Cypress, CA 90630
(714) 821-3400

okay, so i told myself i wouldn't do food reviews on my blog anymore and switch everything to yelp (which i still am doing), but this place is that good. i have to talk about it here. please note that all the photos are of the actual food served to us - nothing pull off their web site or anything! (hey, i did my best with a table full of stuff). the quality of the food is spectular. i wouldn't be surprised to see any of the food served here at a high end restaurant in LA or on the vegas strip.

we've been going to California Fish Grill for lunch for a few weeks now and the food is pretty darn good (and healthy). as fate would have it, when we got there one day the place was packed! there was no way were going to find a seat. we decided to leave and try out this place down the street called Fish in a Bottle (we were still in the mood for fish). i drive by the restaurant often and there was hardly ever a car in the lot. how good could this place be? we decided to try it anyway.

when i walked in, to my surprise, i found the place was very nicely decorated. there is a simple elegance about it. perfect for a business lunch or even a place to take a date. you can choose to either sit at a table or the sushi bar.

the menu is pretty extensive and everything sounded great. we started off with some garlic edamame. oh my god, was it good! so simple, yet packed full of flavor. they did not skimp on the garlic. be warned, there is a touch of spice because the pods are sautéd in a touch of chili infused oil. just the perfect amount.

next we looked at the lunch specials. two pages full!!! most of it was under $10.

i order the usual miso soup and lynette ordered a salad to start of her meal. their food not only tastes good, it's photogenic as well. always a plus.

don't worry, if you're not into sushi or rolls, like ron, there is stuff for you to eat there as well. the first time ron went he ordered the stuffed chicken and this time ordered the teriyaki salmon.

the rest of us had a variety of rolls. even john and krista ate the sushi (yes, it's that good).

i was shocked to see john eat piece after piece of the salmon sashimi i ordered. he's normally not that into it (to be fair, we're usually eating that stuff buffets or places like maki yaki - not the best sushi you could have).

i'm a sucker for dessert. i thought about having a nice little piece of mochi (which krista and john ended up ordering), but decided to try something totally different, a banana cheese cake roll. to die for! ron, lynette, john, krista, and i were all amazed at how good it was. i almost couldn't eat it after i took the picture because it was so pretty. krista looked at me. i guess she saw it in my eyes that i couldn't bring myself to eat it and took a fork to the plate and messed up the beautiful swirls.

you have to eat there. PLEASE eat here. i do not want this place to go out of business. it's just too good.

special thanks to ron, lynette, john and krista for putting up with me taking pictures all this food before getting to eat.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

When Retouching Goes Bad

randy rushed into the room laughing. he said that he was looking at my sister's facebook page on his iphone. there was a picture of me on there that look really weird. what? WTF??? did someone do something to that picture? i don't remember that picture looking like that. i know my friend kat uploaded a picture of me and claud from our vegas trip, but i don't remember it looking like that. this is what he showed me:

when retouching goes bad.

oh my god! what did they do? i have no idea who did that to the picture, but i can only assume they were trying to make me look thinner (i do appreciate the attempt)... either that or try to make it look like one of those warped pictures from the movie the ring.

i hunted around kat's page and found the original image. just for fun, i thought i would try a my hand at retouching that image and this is what i came up with. what do you guys think? did i go too far?

grace's attempt


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Chris's visit.

Chris stopped by the department today to say hi as he was on the way to the doctor. Say hi to chris. He hates his job.

Dance Party: How to Start One

very funny and oddly heartwarming.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pictures at Funerals

My mother recently sent me pictures from my Uncle Nick's funeral and I'm about to post them here. Before I do, I think it's important to discuss some cultural differences as well as the moral implications of doing this.

Here in the United States, and I assume among most cultures, it's uncommon and, at the very least, frowned upon to take pictures at a funeral. To some it's downright appalling. However, this isn't the case in Thailand. Although photography isn't encouraged, it's not discouraged either. People take pictures at funerals much like they take pictures at any other time of ceremony without any peculiarity.

There are a number of reasons why I'm sharing these photographs with you. Part of it is because I want you to know that not every culture finds taking pictures at funerals distasteful. Another is because I want to share with you Thai traditions for funeral ceremonies. The most important and personal of reasons, I have yet to find a way to articulate.

Most Thai funeral rites range from 7 days to 1 month or 100 days depending the person's status in society. Uncle Nick's funeral was 100 days long, traditional for persons of his prominence. He was, among other things, a Lt. Gen. in the Royal Thai Army. To me, he was just Uncle Nick.

The following picture is of his family and friends paying respect to him before he was placed in his coffin.

As with certain people of prominence, his body is not placed lying down in a casket, but placed in a sitting position within the coffin. It's customary for family and friends to pose for pictures with the coffin. Yhe golden object in the center, behind the group is my uncle's coffin.

Adults mostly dress in black clothing, but it's also acceptable to wear a white top with a black skirt or pants. Children are almost always dressed in white.

Thai funerals aren't usually a sad event. I'm really not sure why that is. In my experience, funerals are very similar to a social event. Most Thais, theravada buddhist in particular, cremate the remains of their loved ones. Merit is made for the deceased in the days leading up to the cremation in order to help them out in their next life.

It wasn't until recently that I gave much thought to the topic of taking pictures at funerals. up until a few years ago most of the funerals I had attended were in Thailand. I was accustom to photographs being freely taken and didn't give it much thought. When Randy's father passed away it didn't occur to me to take pictures. Maybe I took a few, but I don't really remember.

Most of you who know me know that I almost always have a camera with me and I take pictures of just about anything and everything. When it came time for my aunt's wake I wanted to take pictures. it was just my way of remembering. That's when it occurred to me that no one was taking pictures, that people here don't really take pictures during funerals. I brought my camera to the funeral hoping to be able to take pictures, but never really felt comfortable doing it even though someone else was taking pictures now.

After the funeral ceremony, my aunt's casket was brought outside and the pallbearers took their place. I began to take photos. The truth is, I don't know how or why I did it. I wasn't actually conscious of doing it until later. Maybe it was a reflexive response to the photo journalistic training I have. Maybe it was an unconscious reaction to the emotions I was feeling and I was using the camera as a way of distancing myself from what was happening. Maybe it was a coping mechanism. Maybe I was just accustomed to it being normal. It was probably all of the above.

My aunt's daughter broke down sobbing as the casket was being placed onto the hearse. I heard it and turned. I can still hear her. I took the picture as she stooped over crying. It was after I pressed that shutter that I realized what I was doing, that I had been standing there just taking pictures in her moment of sorrow rather than run over and comfort her. I felt horrible, like I had failed as a human being. I was a monster who cared more about capturing that "decisive moment" rather than the moment of compassion. I started to run to her to comfort her, but her husband had come to comfort her, then her son, and then her daughter. I picked up my camera again and shot. What the hell was I doing? I dropped the camera again.

Here now, I show the pictures I took that day for the first time. I contemplated doing it back then, but didn't feel right. Perhaps the wounds were still too fresh. Now I look at the pictures and what I see isn't sad or morbid. The image of my aunt's son's and nephews carrying her casket is a moment where they are honoring her. The photo of her daughter being comforted by her family is a portrait of love and family standing by each other. I know some of you might not see it that way, but I hope you see past the sadness of the event and look for what is beautiful about the moment.

Uncle Nick

late last year my uncle nick passed away. my relationship to and with him is a complicated one and i have no qualms about telling that story, but this isn't about how i know him, it's about what came from knowing him.

uncle nick was... unique. he was loud. i think it came from being a lieutenant general in the royal thai army. he spouted orders left and right to those around him, including his family. he accepted no less than the best in things and in people. there was a certain way he wanted things and that was just how it was going be. none of us dared to say no. none of us really had a reason to say no.

he demanded that those around him were held to the highest measure of conduct regardless of their position in life. it could have been the boy that cleaned the stables at his horse farm, my mother (his primary consort), his daughters, or himself - he held us to the same standards of behavior. he made us better people through trying to live up to those standards.

though he was loud and often demanding his disposition was tempered by his loyalty and generosity to friends, family, and those who worked for him. i can not begin to tell you about everything he did for me, what he gave me both financially and morally. when most people lost faith in my abilities and told me either implicitly or explicitly that i wouldn't amount to much, he flat out would not allow me to believe it. he chided me in that way he always did, loud and firmly resolved. he still held me to that high standard and expected me to hold myself to it as well. through him (and a few others) i found the mettle to dance to the beat of my own drum.

thanks uncle nick.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Flickr War

so, john is a bit ahead of me in the flickr war, but no worries, i will kick his ass by the time my birthday comes around (maybe i'll put up some more pictures of babies peeing!).

anyway, here are my stats: