Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grampa watches the grandkids (and all survive!)

This has been a busy day. We got up at 6 AM to load up the minivan with all the tables and garage sale stuff. A friend who lives in Fremont had a garage sale today and Mrs Notthat could not resist.

Once she left, I headed over to get the grandkids. Today is kindergarten sign-up day here in Redwood City, and WHM needed to be kid-free while she risked life and limb getting Darci into a school this fall. (Two co-workers are also going through this. It's amazing how competitive the process is if you want to go to an alternative school. In some cases people line up at 5 AM. All of this to sort out which teacher gets to try to keep the kid from eating paste.)

Once we got to the house, we started by making pancakes. (Darci did not want the kind of pancakes with holes in them. After quizzing her about this for a bit, I worked out that it was waffles she didn't want.)

Mrs Notthat had bought some high fiber pancake mix, so I made it a bit kid friendly by adding some mini-chocolate chips. I got them to eat these the low-mess way by rolling them up and dipping them in the syrup. Great fun!

After breakfast, we headed out to the deck to paint. Riley was determined to use up the paint as fast as possible, while Darci was determined to mix them all together and create gray as fast as possible. (Those are a couple of my old shirts they are wearing - they worked great and kept their clothes clean. ish.)

They took breaks from painting to pick weeds and point out IDT poop that I missed picking up.

Much time was also spent on the swing. The weather was amazing for the last day of January. We are back in a dry mode and the threats of extreme water rationing are becoming louder and more worrisome. Hopefully more rain is on its way. A lot more rain.

In any case, we enjoyed the weather and played for several hours out in the backyard. Darci made me a chocolate cherry cake in the sandbox.

For lunch we had hotdogs and cheese sticks. Nobody wanted buns, just a bowl of ketchup to dip the dogs in. (My approach to feeding them is to make the food as finger-friendly as possible. And yes, we were out of Pringles or you would have seen some of those too.)

The grand finale of the day was when they pulled apart a wishbone I'd saved back in November and kept forgetting about. Darci was keen on making a wish (she wants another teddy bear - she's got to be kidding) and, especially, on winning. Riley was just keen on breaking the thing.

Riley certainly understood though that he had gotten the bigger piece once it snapped. And Darci certainly understood that her wish wouldn't come true.

In the end, WHM came by and picked up the kids and I got to kick back and relax a bit, wondering if Mrs Notthat sold enough at the garage sale for me to retire.

Oh, and there's some sort of sporting event tomorrow that I need to start focusing on. More on that in a later post.

That's it - move along...

Friday, January 30, 2009

What's missing from this picture?

My streak of stupidity continues...

As I was packing up at work, getting ready to go down to catch the shuttle to the train station, I saw something I shouldn't have seen. 

My parking pass. 

That lets me park my car in the Caltrain parking lot without getting a ticket.

So I spent the whole train trip, not worrying about whether I left my lights on (well, yes, I did worry about that a bit), but worrying about how much the parking ticket was going to be. Surely it couldn't be more than $20. The part of the lot that I park in is never half full, so it's not like I was keeping some SUV from parking across three spots or anything like that.

So I got off the train and wandered over to the Race Car, expecting the worst. ($100 fine at least. Maybe they take a wheel as collateral. Maybe they let an SUV park on top of it.)

But there was nothing. No ticket at all. So either they didn't bother to police the lot or the person who does that is so used to that car being in that space that she doesn't even bother to check it.

Sometimes stupidity can be survived!

That's it - move along...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do I look like I've got "stupid" written on my forehead?

Don't answer that.

Remember last week when I told you about how I managed to run the Race Car battery down at work and had to get rescued by AAA? How I had left my lights on accidentally because of the rain, but had learned my lesson and would never do that again?

Tonight I went out after work and found I had done it again. Sort of.

I drove in to work today so that I could do some Pansy Day shopping. The weather is back to being great again (heavy sigh), so there was no need for me to turn on my lights, so there was no danger of me leaving them on.

One would think. 

Apparently while getting in and out of the car (which is no mean feat), I managed to turn on the parking lights and never noticed. All of our other cars will make obnoxious noises if you try to leave the car and have the lights on, but this sort of technology is beyond the fine engineers in Miataville, so the Race Car is perfectly content to let you walk away while its life slowly drains away.

This time I managed to get a couple of coworkers to help me. Xila (not his real name) tried to help me push-start it, which failed. Essitam, of flamethrower fame, had a set of jumper cables that managed to get the car going. (As far as the push-starting thing, Essitam mentioned that if the car has electronic fuel injection, pushing it won't work since there is no fuel flowing. I guess you know this stuff if your hobby is letting strangers shoot 50 foot flames for fun.)

So there you are. I've now got a set of jumper cables in the car now and this weekend I'm installing an aftermarket obnoxious noise maker that will warn me when I'm doing something stupid.

Well, at least with regards the headlights.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fitness blues

The Fitness Center where I work has two workout rooms in addition to the main areas with the weights and assorted fancy machines (each with their own TV, naturally). One of the workout rooms is pretty big, and the other is smaller, and both have a mirrored front wall and sound systems that can be obnoxiously loud (and neither has ever played a country song, it's safe to say).

For the last three years I have been going to the Basic Training class, run by the fun Larual (not her real name, but really close to being a palindrome, making it nearly immune to my clever secret code). The class is intended to introduce you to basic workout techniques just to get you started. I may be a slow learner, but I don't think that's why I'm still taking the class - there are several of us who have been regulars at the class for years.

But not enough of us.

We were banished from the small room due to low attendance (we now roam the main areas, kind of like a gang of harmless, somewhat pudgy middle-aged people), plus they wanted to add a new hip-hop class. We scoffed, betting that nobody would come to a stupid old hip-hop class and that we would get our room back soon. 

We seem to have been wrong. That class has been so popular it has been moved into the big room, and the step class that was in the big room, which has been averaging about 3 people, has been moved to the small room. 

(Side note - both classes are almost exclusively female. I did notice last night that there was one guy in the hip-hop class, and he really seemed to be enjoying himself among all the women. I was the only guy in a high school typing class, so I know how much fun that sort of situation can be. I just hope he's in good shape.)

The step class was not amused at being demoted, and there must have been some email campaigning going on since there were at least 15 people that showed up last night, easily filling the small room.

So there's about to be a battle between the step and hip-hop people, and with both being in good shape, it could take a while. 

We should hide the sound systems while we can.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Frostbite and green grass

I was recently bullied into getting a Facebook account. What possible use could I get out of it? I'm not a pimply-faced kid fluent in texting and covered in piercings and tattoos.

But I now have to grudgingly admit that it's actually been a good thing. I have found out that a high school classmate from our very small town in Colorado now runs a dive shop in Costa Rica. Yes, this might come in very handy some day.

And I've learned that my niece Emily is insane (but in a perky way that only a teenager can pull off).

This is a picture of her (in the middle) with two friends right after they participated in the Polar Bear Plunge in Maryland's frostbite-infested Chesapeake Bay. This involved getting into a swimsuit and wading into the water, pushing the icebergs out of the way as they went. I don't know why they are smiling - maybe their faces just froze that way - but they managed to raise a fair amount of money for Special Olympics. And got to see the official mascot - a guy dressed in a panda bear (really!) costume.

In any case Emily, you are FAR braver (if that's the right word) than me and we are all proud of you. Just typing this makes me need a roaring fire and a cup of cocoa though.

This week's rain has done wonders for the hills around here - they are all turning a beautiful green. I took Idiot Dog Teddy (IDT) for a walk yesterday out at Bayfront Park.

This involved dodging lots of muddy puddles, but IDT loved running through the rapidly growing grass, stopping every now and then to graze a bit. Our winters involve looking at leafless trees, just like in the areas that truly get cold, but this is balanced out by the amazingly lush green hills.

And a complete lack of panda bear-induced icy plunges.

That's it - move along...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rangers, rain, and geeky humor

Every once in a while something happens on the internets that catches me a bit off guard. In my last post I talked about the World Famous Lawn Rangers from Amazing Arcola and their performance in the Inaugural Parade. Last night an actual Lawn Ranger commented on the post! I'm going along comfortably believing that there are maybe six or seven people that actually read this thing, and most of them are family and read it out of a sense of duty.

This internet thing is amazing!

So anyway, a big thanks to Donny Bahama (OK, that's a bit of a suspicious sounding name, but I guess it's no worse than Notthatlucas) for pointing out that there is a WFLRfAA blog site here (which I am adding to the list on my sidebar). And for listing the requirements to be an official Lawn Ranger. (After reading it, Mrs Notthat said that she said it sounded like it was just a group of guys that like to get together and drink. No, I don't see what her point is either.)

Earlier this week I whined a bit about how dry it has been here. How it has been so weirdly warm. I take it all back. It has been raining since Wednesday and the ground is actually becoming saturated. Mudslides cannot be that far away. We are still way behind in our season totals, but hopefully this is a good step in the right direction.

This is a picture of a pink carinthian tree that has started blooming in the courtyard of the building I work in. (Yes, I made up that name. I've really got no idea what kind of tree that is.)

Geeky humor alert: Today a guy at work sent out this picture of twins.

I don't know if these are his kids or not, but someone has a great sense of humor. And if you get the joke, then you too are just a bit geeky.

Pray for those poor kids.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some President B.O. stuff

Work set up a number of all day viewing rooms Tuesday so that we could watch whatever bits of the inauguration we wanted to. There were two bits I wanted to see - the swearing in bits (duh) and the parade. 

The only real reason I wanted to see the parade was because I could not believe that they were allowing the World Famous Lawn Rangers of Amazing Arcola take part in it. This is a group of usually well lubricated guys that march in whatever parade will let them. They push lawn mowers and wave brooms and plungers while wearing Lone Ranger masks and red graduation capes. They are not your typical Inaugural Parade participants. 

But Arcola turns out to be in Illinois. Even better, they have a picture of a pre-Senator Obama waving a plunger with them at a St Patrick's Day parade.

And Dave Barry is one of them. You can click here to read about how it went and see a short video clip of them in action. (I would join them in a heartbeat!) 

I really think this says something great about this new administration. It's a good sign.

So I watched the swearing in on a nice big projection screen. I went back later to catch the parade, but it was running just a little (WAY) behind schedule. I ended up watching the parade in a tiny window on my  computer at my desk - I sat through an amazing number of marching bands for 30 seconds of waving brooms badly weaving lawn mowers.

And I'd do it again.

That's it - move along...

PS: Gene Weingarten has a nice dissection of the weirdness of the fumbled swearing in process here

PPS: It's raining!

PPPS: And of course, since it's raining, I left the lights on the Race Car at work, and came out to a dead battery when I was ready to head home. I tried push starting it but gave up pretty quickly since it seemed to be uphill no matter which way I wanted to push it. A Miata isn't as close to being a go-cart as it looks. So I called AAA and they relatively quickly came and rescued me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Absurd weather, even for California

We should be very moist right now. There should be dire warnings of flooding and mudslides and high winds and general misery. Well, as much misery as you can have without being cold enough for snow.

Instead, we are enjoying exceptionally fine weather for January. It still gets a bit cool at night, usually around 40, but during the day the sun shines and the upper 60s or warmer are now normal. Almost nobody around here isn't feeling at least a little bit guilty about this weather - if we don't start getting some rain, lots of rain, we are in for a bad summer filled with water rationing and empty reservoirs. Last winter was below normal and the winter before that was as well - three in a row just about does us in.

Look at that picture up on top. I believe those are daffodils that are about to bloom. I'm not sure what those other green things are that are popping out of the ground, but I'm pretty sure they aren't supposed to be popping out yet.

This other picture shows a locus snatcher in full bloom. Way ahead of schedule. The good news is that there is little chance of a freeze now, but it could happen.

That's it - move along...

PS: I know that this is post may result in a few hostile comments from certain people living back east and in Colorado where they have REAL cold weather. It was either whining about the weather or more Caltrain stuff, so I chose the lesser of the two evils.

PPS: Yes, I know that I made up that name for the purple flower. I'm convinced that most people do this - it's not possible to know the actual names of all these flowers. Never the less, I expect at least one person to comment with the correct name (or at least a better made up name than "locus snatcher").

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crutchless but clutchless and a Tragical Mystery Tour

First, the good news - The Boy no longer has to use crutches! He still has to wear the full brace for a week and then he can switch to a smaller brace. He even gets to sleep in his loft bed again (he's been sleeping on a cot). The one thing he can't do is drive the Race Car - nothing with a clutch.

He is thrilled and already back at work. Tuesday is the first day in his new class. Busy busy busy...

Second, the commute news. As promised, we now have a swarm of smaller shuttle busses to haul us between campus buildings and the train stations. Yes, that was stations plural.

The busses are very nice silver Mercedes things - there must be a dozen or so of them and the only way to tell which one is the right one is that little white thing on the windshield. I found out that not watching closely enough can lead to a surprise side trip. And the discovery of a second train station that has nothing to do with Caltrain.

The driver was friendly and apologetic and I got to see a part of San Jose I'd never seen before. I managed to get home (eventually) and I was comfortable - these shuttle busses are wonderful and have actual reading lights and internet connections. 

Throw in a bathroom and a burrito bar and I could be very content riding around in them all day.

That's it - move along... 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A knife, moose, waterfall, and home sweet home

We are now home. There's nothing like spending time in motels with "reasonable" rates to make you appreciate your own bed. It is going to be glorious tonight. But first, some bits and pieces to tidy up the trip report.

This morning in Solvang we breakfasted on (take a guess) danishes. I then took The Boy to the Nordic Knives store.

This is an amazing place if you are keen on knives (and The Boy is very keen on them - I need to do a post about his collection some day). They have glorious knives that sell for thousands of dollars and others that are pretty cool for tens of dollars. He picked out one of the tens of dollars knives as one of his Pansy Day presents (yes - that day is rapidly approaching, YIKES!).

Another weirdly amazing store was this place.

There are a number of related stores on the second floor that have pretty amazing deals on new clothing, hats, and accessories. There is a set of rooms where everything is $2, another where everything is $5, and so on. The really odd bit is that there is nobody watching the place - you pick out what you want and take it out of the store, downstairs, and across to the cafe and pay for it there. The cafe itself is weird since it sells burgers and hot dogs and chicken sandwiches for $1. Mrs Notthat asked about this and got a complicated reply involving charities and such. In any case, we picked up a number of things very cheaply (no, we didn't try the $1 chicken sandwich - some things may not be as good of a deal as they seem).

This picture is just to prove that there are lots of windmills around the place.

(Important Note: It has been pointed out that I forgot to mention anything about the pea soup-free place where we ate dinner in Solvang - The Chef's Touch. We chose it because it was the only The Boy-walkable restaurant that was still in business. It is a peculiar small place that regularly hosts cooking classes - there were video cameras and LCD displays so you could watch your meal being prepared. We ended up getting the Danish specialty of enchiladas - I got mine with a hunk of salmon on it. The food was good and Mrs Notthat especially liked it a lot. And now back to our regular programming.)

We left town using a small unmarked road that wound through beautiful countryside. The theory was that it would lead to the Nojoqui waterfall (Danish for "No Joke, It's Really Around Here Somewhere"), but the further we went the more doubtful this seemed.

And then - there it was. Well, not the waterfall - the park that had the waterall. Mrs Notthat and I had to hike about half a mile uphill to see a thin ribbon of water fall a long ways in a very pretty waterfall.

We then hiked the half mile back and eventually found the freeway and made our dash for home.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Klondike Pizza in Arroyo Grande, which turned out to be a bit of fun. It's one of those places where they give you a basket of peanuts and encourage you to toss the shells on the floor, which is covered in old shells.

Here Mrs Notthat checks out a moose. The place was filled with Alaska-based curiosities. And then we got our pizza - I chose the Roadkill Special.

Those of you with a keen eye will notice why I chose this particular pizza - the sausage is made of reindeer! I can't tell you how good it felt to be eating one of those things after suffering through yet another Buy Everything holiday season. (Bah humbug indeed!)

After lunch, it was pretty much a straight shot home. Except for the stop for gas. And the stop at the Gilroy Premium Outlets to buy a bowl.

And finally we arrived home, unpacked, and are now ready for reality to start up again tomorrow.

But first, I need to take something for that reindeer sausage - it seems to be taking a bit of revenge on me.

That's it - move along...

Goodbye LA, hello Daneland

We packed up and left Santa Monica yesterday morning. While everything went fine there, it felt good to get out of the massiveness that is LA. We drove up Highway 1 and marveled at the miles and miles of sandy beaches - it's so different from northern California where we have cliffs and rocks and an occasional relatively small sandy beach.

We did manage to find a nice small beach surrounded by rocky tide pools that wasn't infested with surfers.

Once we got to Santa Barbara we headed inland a bit on 154 over San Marcos pass.

There were some great views looking back towards the ocean.

The weather was fantastic. The Boy wore shorts and even Mrs Notthat took off a layer of jacket.

There is a really pretty lake called Lake Cachuma (Indian for "Great Place for a Casino") that we stopped at. They wanted $8 to get in to see the lake, but Mrs Notthat talked them into giving us a 15 minute pass so we could just zip in and out. It turned out that another mile up the road was a nice viewing area that was free and easily satisfied our curiosity. You can see the dam in the background.

And finally we made it to Solvang (Danish for "Shops Shops Shops and Windmills"). We got a room at the Hamlet Motel ("Now skull free!").

Shopping does not fit into The Boy's list of fun things to do, but there is this place called Nordic Knives that caused him to raise an eyebrow. The plan is to hang around and poke the town this morning and then head back home this afternoon.

Assuming we can distract Mrs Notthat enough to get her out of this place.

That's it - move along...

PS: We were pea soup-free last night for dinner. Actually, I doubt there is much danger of any of us ordering pea soup even under the best of conditions.

PPS: Unless it has bacon in it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An artist, some shrimp, and a bad parking lot

First, a little bit about our motel, the Sea Shore Motel on Main St in Santa Monica. Other than not actually being on the shore (it's about two blocks away), this is an interesting place to stay. It's an older place in an area where they no longer allow motels.

That white Lexus belongs to Michael Keaton who is getting something healthy to eat at the deli behind the No Vacancy sign. (I never actually saw him, but then I'm not good at recognizing stars out in public. Now if he had been dressed as Batman...)

The cool thing about staying here is that we were upgraded to a mini-suite since they were out of standard rooms, but we still only paid the standard price. In any case, for this area, this is a pretty good value as long as you can handle a lack of glitz and pampering.

We headed out to the Santa Monica Pier, which was pretty empty. The Boy needed a pair of sunglasses.

His handicap placard got us free parking at the pier (should have cost $6). It wasn't the easiest for him to get around on the rough pier, but at least he ended up with some nifty shades.

Mrs Notthat and I posed for a caricature artist. I love these things and, if I had an ounce of artistic talent, I would learn how to do this.

Admittedly, the final result does not really look like us (what's with all the gray in my beard?), but it's still going to get framed and hung somewhere in our house. (I'm not sure why he told me to put my hat on - maybe the glare from my bald spot was distracting him.) The Boy was not even vaguely interested in getting his caricature done though.

After that we had lunch at the Bubba Gump Restaurant. I was curious about the place and liked the Forrest Gump movie it is based on. They seemed to have a lot of dishes that included shrimp. The one sort of fun thing were these license plate sort of things.

If you are fine, leave the Run Forrest Run showing. If you need something (more water, napkins, or beer), flip it so the Stop Forrest Stop plate shows. The food was fine (if a bit overpriced, which is to be expected in a place like this) and we left full and ready to go to the movies.

The front desk person told us about a new movie theater on Pico that has assigned seating and allows alchohol. So off we went.

First, a word about their parking lot/garage. I have a theory that most parking lots are designed by an architect's 3-year-old using a Big Chief tablet and a number two pencil. This one was worse - the archtect didn't have a kid so he let his fluffy little yapping dog do the work. Look at this picture.

What can this possibly mean? Even Mrs Notthat, who thinks I overreact about when it comes to parking lots, had to agree this one was particularly bad.

It is extremely hard to find a movie that we all agree on. This particular theater seemes to specialize in depressing dramas and heavy things - not in my wheelhouse at all. In the end we settled on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (An OK movie that is almost three hours long, the highlight of which is watching a guy get struck by lightning six times. I hope I didn't give too much away.)

The theater uses assigned seating. I can see how this would be useful for shows that are sold out or nearly sold out, but it was kind of dumb for this showing since the place wasn't even half full. (We were at the 4:50 showing. Curiously, the show before ours - the last bargain matinee, and the show after ours were both sold out.) There were four Seating Assistants to help your find your seats, one of which gave an odd standup sort of routine before the movie started (EVERYONE in LA wants to be a star - EVERYONE). Buying tickets took a lot longer than normal since you had to look at a seating chart and choose your seats. And you had to pull out $12 per seat.

The coolest thing about the movie was that it was the first one I've seen that did not use film - they projected 4K digital video at the screen. This means there was no dust, hairs, or scratches - the picture was fantastic. This really made the intentionally bad film parts of the movie, mostly involving getting hit by lightning, stand out.

In any case, we managed to make it through the movie. For dinner, we stopped at a Trader Joes and then ate our salads while watching a Jim Carrey movie in the motel room.

Today we start towards home. Maybe Solvang (Dutch for "Tourists Rock!").

That's it - move along...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chunky B, Craig, and Santa Monica

Good news (so far) - I'm pretty sure there wasn't a shooting last night in our Santa Monica motel.

We made it from Santa Barbara (literally, "Saint Bobby") to Hollywood with time to kill before the show started, so we ate at a fine place on 3rd called Fiddlers Bistro (for the benefit of DAK, who knows way too much about the LA area) and watched some sweaty guys play basketball at some park or other. Our tickets said to show up no later than 3 PM, but didn't give a "no earlier than" time. 

We showed up at 2 and were told to come back at 2:30. At 2:30 we parked and were directed out to a line on the sidewalk - there were maybe 20 people ahead of us. And thus began our sojourn of 2 hours and 45 minutes to watch the taping of a 1 hour show. (Bad weather would have made this pretty miserable. It was quite nice though.)

2:30 - got in line on a sidewalk outside the CBS fence. 

2:45 - started in towards the building and had our "ID checked" - this check mostly involved you being willing to wave something colorful that might be a drivers license at a bored guy. I suspect if you looked too young they might actually look (you have to be 17 since there are a few bad words that get said and jokes that nice kids should not understand). We then stood there, waiting for our turn to go through security.

2:55 - we got our turn to walk through a metal detector. The Boy gave them some trouble with his crutches and knee brace, but it all worked out OK. They are extremely strict about no cell phones or cameras, and mentioned this maybe 50 times. (The pictures above were taken afterwards, in the parking lot, which still technically violated their rules. It was too late for them to throw us out though.)

3:00 - took our seats on the number 3 bench (still outside though). Just before we headed through security, some guy asked us if we are Craig fans. Duh. He then asks how many of us there are and writes the number 3 on all of our wrists. I believe he was sorting the perkier and prettier people from the scarier people - the couple in front of us ended up on the number 5 bench (the last one) and the number 1 bench seemed to have nicer, less threatening people. We were moderates I guess.

3:20 - people are still going through security and we are still sitting on the bench. We are told "Go to the bathroom now if you need to since you won't be able to later. And buy some souvenirs from the small gift shop sort of thing that's there. But make it quick, we are going in soon!" Sure.

3:35 - a pre warm-up guy comes to get us whipped into a frenzy. Going in soon!

3:50 - finally, we are going into the building! We had to climb up 5 (!) flights of stairs. This was probably to cull the weak from the herd. At the top of the stairs we form lines. Again.

4:00 - finally we are in the studio! It is very cold and a whole bunch smaller than it looks on TV. Chunky B, a comedian that wears an Elvis suit, warms us up and throws candy at us. He points out that we are not an audience, but "show enhancers." He also points out that all of the other shows like this have around 400 people in the audience, but Craig is limited to 113. So we need to sound like 400.

4:20 - Craig comes out! I had expected a bit of banter and such, but he pretty much just jumps right into the monologue. (If you watch the show, he does the puppet monkey thing actually after the monologue so that his set is arranged correctly. It is a small area he has to work with.)

5:15 - it's over and we are herded out.

The show was great and it was a lot of fun, but there was a lot of standing and sitting around. The show itself went really fast since they do not actually have to wait for commercials and such. Also, there was a "TV's Prince Charles" bit that had been pre-taped that we did not get to see.

In any case, we are at a motel called the Sea Shore Motel in Santa Monica. It seems pretty nice (other than not being on the sea shore) and we might try to stay an extra night here. It warmed up pretty nicely yesterday and is supposed to be warmer today.

Good fun!

That's it - move along...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Santa Barbara gun show?

We made it as far as Santa Barbara last night. We checked into a hip, stylish motel (as you can tell from the pictures). Take a guess which chain this was. 

Wrong. (Unless you know me and my thrifty nature.)

It was a Motel 6.

The room was much more stylish than any Motel 6 I had ever been in - it even had a flat panel TV. It was still a Motel 6 though - I had to pay $2.99 for wireless internet and the towels were almost big enough to be useful. And it still was a rough night's sleep, what with the Hells Angel that had to start his bike every 20 minutes just to make sure it still worked and the guy above us who got up at 5 AM and made a stunning amount of noise packing up to leave. 

Apparently we missed the big show though.

I went out to walk over to the local drug store for yogurt and noticed that there was no traffic. And then some sort of SWAT vehicle pulled into the bowling alley next door. I walked over there and saw a LOT sheriff vehicles and police standing around. They also had the road blocked off. 

Figuring that someone tried to steal a bowling ball, I wandered across the deserted street where a reporter guy came up and asked what I knew about the shooting. The one that happened at our motel at 4:30 AM.

Can I pick motels or what!

We had heard nothing - no sirens, gunshots, or clever CSI banter. Eventually the street was opened back up and most of the official vehicles left. Then a massive ladder truck showed up, pointed its ladder at the top of our building, and a sheriff who apparently managed to get up on the roof but couldn't figure out how to get back down climbed down it.

The weirdness has started and we haven't even got to LA yet.

Today we drive to Hollywood, see the Scottish Conan, then go to our motel in Santa Monica (NOT a Motel 6). Here's hoping for a complete lack of excitement! (Except when Amy Sedaris shows up!)

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bad usage of toys and furniture repair

We got a call this morning from the Brand Management Group of Tinkertoys International, threatening us with revoking our rights to play with their products due to a "reckless disregard of proper product usage protocol that is clearly explained in the waiver printed on the product manual."

What? Tinkertoys come with a manual? I hung up, assuming it was a crank call. Later, upon going through the pictures on the camera, I came across these two, and the first one clears up the phone call. I'm not sure who's idea it was to use perfectly good Tinkertoys like this, but after that phone call, I'm doubly glad to be leaving the area for a few days.

The other picture shows me trying to repair a bargain couch that WHM found on Craigslist. Darci is making fun of the faces I was making while struggling with the various bits and pieces that needed repairing. Riley is busy chasing the idiot dog. 

It's possible both kids learned some new words. 

OK, now back to packing up the car.

That's it - move along...

PS: Yes, I made up the phone call part, in case you were wondering. Sadly, I did not make up the new words part. The kids were pretty distracted though.

Cheeky monkeys and the Scottish Conan

Road trip!

We are heading out today, driving towards the vast weirdness that is LA, and in particular, Hollywood. The main goal is to see a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, easily the funniest of the late night talk shows (much thanks to TiVo for making it possible to see the show that is normally on at 12:30 AM). The guests at this taping will be the thrillingly odd Amy Sedaris and President Allstate - Dennis Haysbert (who does all those Allstate Insurance commercials and was the president for a season or two of 24). 

The taping is on Thursday at 3 (it will be shown that night). There is a second taping at 5 for Friday's show, but I didn't want to be greedy and get tickets for that one too. (Tickets are free and are actually just a web page that you print out.) Apparently they are very strict about not allowing any cameras or cell phones into the studio, so there won't be any of those sorts of pictures. This means I will have to paint the picture with words involving lots dodgy humor.

In any case, after the show, we don't really know what we will be doing. We intend to stay the night somewhere around there just to avoid having to try to escape the area during rush hour. Mrs Notthat votes for heading somewhere warm, but even the deserts are pretty cool (upper 60s, low 70s) right now. 

We will most likely be back on Sunday, but hopefully will be able to post updates during the trip.

Now I'm off to get a Scottish-English dictionary.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Frostbite and puzzling baskets

First, look at this.

This is IDT's water dish this morning. Our frosty mornings are back. There is no rain in the forecast for this week and there is a promise of warmer weather coming. This will be good for us since we are taking a quick trip to LA on Wednesday. This is not good for our water supplies though, which are threatening to make this a difficult summer with possible water restrictions. (I won't let this affect the garden though, although I may have to get creative.)

And now for massive grandkid exposure. We had WHM and the two grandkids over for dinner on Friday. There were two big hits: laundry baskets and puzzles.

Daffy Duck, a fireplace, a grandkid, and stacked laundry baskets. Norman Rockwell (except the LCD TV is a bit newer technology than was around back in his time, and the fireplace is gas. The Duck is still Daffy though.)

Darci moved her basket tower back a bit to get a better view, and Riley weirdly became a cat in the leftover basket.

Here Mrs Notthat becomes the engine that pulls the train in the kitchen. I know what you are all thinking - this is a train that could only lead to disaster. And it does...

The train engine comforts the caboose (while insuring the train line won't get sued into oblivion).

The train issue was fixed by a quick game of talking flowers. Oddly, I don't get this game. Then time was spent reading a strange book called Pirates Don't Change Diapers. (They do, at least in this book.)

Then we had a rare The Boy sighting.

His hair seems to be enjoying free run while he continues to fight stomach issues and having to use crutches to get around.

A favorite on Friday was this puzzle. Riley loves "working" on puzzles and loves it when he can get a piece to fit. He'll try it and shake his head and say "no, no" and try it again and again.

The day ended with Riley providing an amazing exclamation point to it with a fit worthy of an award of some sort. That kid has some stout lungs on him when he gets wound up.

On Saturday we had the grandkids again while WHM cleaned house a bit. The puzzle from the previous day was done (WHM and Mrs Notthat saw to that), so we started a new one plus two that were more Riley's speed.

And that's it for now. The grandkids will be over for a third day in a row while WHM and I go pick up a set of couches she found on Craigslist. (Remember Mrs Notthat and her used couch fetish from a year or so ago? Acorns don't fall far from the processing plant, as they say.)

That's it - move along...