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Saturday, May 25, 2002

Career-Op: Benign Neglect
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Visitors to my home often make note of the gardens, which replace lawns on my property. While I can take some credit for the gardens, I must confess that my theory of gardening mainly consists of benign neglect. If a plant can't survive on its own then it doesn't belong in my garden. I provide regular water and a little fertilizer, but I only address issues as they arise and sometimes, even that is long delayed. Unfortunately, I have seen that many high-tech workers apply the same benign neglect to their career. They only worry about their career when in the middle of a crisis. If you want to develop a career you love, you need to actively engage your career and your life.

The Jacaranda's are in bloom!

(Jacaranda mimosaefolia)

If you are in the Los Angeles area at this time of year you will see these large, purple-flowering trees almost everywhere. They are quite striking against a bright blue sky. There are even entire streets lined with these trees, the organic quivalent of summer fireworks..

Lots of jelly, but no peanut butter

On Thursday (May23) we all headed down to Malibu for a work/play session at Joe's favorite playground. He can always seem to entertain himself for a few hours while Rosanne and I work on our writing. After a while we headed over to Zuma Beach for a quick walk in the waves. What greeted us was quite interesting.

Scattered along the beach were dozens, if not hundreds, of small blue forms. Each had a rigid fin rising up and I immediately assumed they were jellyfish. To my amazement, no one seemed to be paying them much attention. Having never seen a jellyfish "up-close-and-personal" I wondered if I was correct in my assumption.

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More Pictures from Image Quest 3-d

A fellow beach-goer, more knowledgeable than myself, informed me that they were indeed jellyfish, but they were relatively harmless unless you touched their underside. It seems they lose most of their tentacles as they wash ashore. It still made for an interesting walk as we made great pains not to step on any of them.

Today I took a few minutes to find a little more information on our little, blue beachcombers. A search on Google directed me to the this Monterey Herald article about a similar incursion up north. According to this article, these "By-the-wind-sailors" (Velella velella) are not true jellyfish, but related to them. They are similar to the much larger and more dangerous Portuguese Man-o-War and both use a rigid fin on top of their bodies like a sail, catching the wind to help them move about.

It seems that even after living in California for nearly 16 years we are still learning new things. Yet another entry for Joe's childhood journal.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Condo unit explosion and fire - No Local TV coverage

I get an email alert that a condo complex in Encino, CA, about 3 miles away, has suffered and explosion and fire. Quickly tuning to my local news stations, I find NO NEW COVERAGE of the event. As I am flipping by MSNBC, I see live coverage, though. In fact, all the major cable news outlets are covering the fire. Even more, MSNBC is using a feed from the helicopter of the local affiliate, but the local station isn't airing the footage.

What happens to someone who doesn't have cable or email access? I am stunned that local news, which covers EVERY high-speed chase that occurs, can't cover a truly important story.

Local news outlets have the ability to report exact locations of the event and information regarding anyone who was injured. They are the most knowledgeable people to report on a story such as this.

Does DCMA quash freedom of speech?

It seems that even talking about how Sony's copy-protected CDs can be defeated may be a violation of the DCMA (Digital Copyright Millennium Act).

Only the courts will tell if news organizations and individuals can be held liable for linking to information on how to defeat the copy protection system. The absurdity of the DCMA is such that it amazes me it was ever passed into law. it seems ripe for a court challenge that should consign it to the trash can it so richly deserves.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Copy-protected CDs can crash your Mac

As mentioned a few weeks ago, certain copy-protected music CDs can crash your Mac and prevent you from restarting it. The disks do no lasting damage, but difficulty in ejecting the disks can lead you to some frustration in restarting your computer.

AppleCare Knowledge Base document 106882 offers several procedures to remove the disk. Although, if none of these procedures work, you may end up making a trip to your local Apple Service Center in order to have the disk extracted.

This is an interesting example of how copy-protection can prevent even legitimate uses of the software and music you buy. Of course, with a little tape and some markers it seems you can defeat the copy protection entirely. (Translated from German using Google.com), Oh well!

Via Sam at nightsnweekends.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Now online - myword.blog.us

Thanks to some very kind people at blog.us, there is now a shorter URL for My Word. You can use this interchangeably with the welchwrite.com/blog address as they both point to the same page.This should save you a few keystrokes the next time you visit.

Getty Family Festival

June 1, 2002, 10a-6p

We have attended a Getty Family Festival in past and it is quite fun. There is entertainment, special events and many craft tables for the little ones to create their masterpieces. This one sounds especially interesting due to its railroad theme.

From the Getty Calendar...

All Aboard! Join the fun on Saturday, June 1 as the Getty's popular Family Festival hops the Railroad Vision train. Inspired by the Museum's current exhibition, this month's festival celebrates the rails through song, stories and hands-on art activities.

Hear American railroad songs as the band Hollow Log performs its spicy blend of acoustic hillbilly energy seasoned with Cajun, Gypsy and Celtic traditional music. Listen to tales of courage along the Underground Railroad with award-winning storyteller Diane Ferlatte.

After browsing through the model railroad train demonstrations, celebrate the culture of other lands with Indian music and dance group Rangoli, native American Elk Whistle Ensemble, and Brazilian music and dance company Viver Brazil. The Family Festival runs from 10 am - 6pm in the Museum Courtyard.

BookCrossing.com - Share books with others

BookCrossing is a unique idea that allows you to share your love of books with others, while tracing the route of a book from reader to reader.

First, you take a book you like, register it with Bookcrossing.com, then release it into the wild along with information on how others can register their reading of the book. Many books are left at a favorite coffee house, bus bench, park or nearly any other place you can imagine. This is somewhat similar to WheresGeorge.com, where you track the travels of paper money.

I like the literary component of BookCrossing and also the community that has grown up around it. Check it out. You never know where that next good book may be found. Maybe it waiting at a bus bench right now.

From the site...

You've come to a friendly place, and we welcome you to our community. You know the feeling you get after reading a book that speaks to you, that touches your life, a feeling that you want to share it with someone else? BookCrossing.com gives you a simple way to share your books with the world, and follow their paths forever more!

The "3 Rs" of BookCrossing...

* Read a good book (you already know how to do that)

* Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book

* Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in an airliner seatback pocket, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records journal entries for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!

Sounds easy, right? Well it is. It's also a fascinating exercise in fate, karma, or whatever you want to call the chain of events that can occur between two or more lives and one piece of literature. Oh, and we should mention, it's absolutely free and absolutely private, too.

Via MetaFilter

Apple Stores offer free Mac classes

Apple's retail stores are offering a series of free classes throughout the country. If you ever wanted to build your Mac skills, or find out what the Mac is all about, this is the place.

A full class schedule for each store is available from the link above.

Monday, May 20, 2002

The only thing that is inevitable is this FBI Director's resignation

Let me be among the first to call for the resignation of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

His comments during a speech yesterday that suicide bombings in the US are "inevitable" shows the highest disregard for public safety and throws into question his ability to perform his job. By calling the bombings inevitable, he has capitulated to anyone who decides that they want to terrorize the US, whether that is through deeds or words. He has abdicated his role as protector of the citizens of the United States. If he believes that such attacks are inevitable, then he needs to step aside and allow someone else, someone more willing to go the distance, to prevent such attacks. Throwing up his hands and declaring that nothing can be done promotes panic in the public and offers support and comfort to terrorists, who now believe that law enforcement has given up even trying to stop them.

Mueller's comments, and those of the White House, only seek to provide some protection for their reputation should another attack occur. This "cover-your-ass" method of law enforcement and government must come to an end...quickly. What would have happened if we believed that Hitler's domination of Europe was inevitable...Japan's domination of the Pacific...or Britain's refusal to recognize our infant country? America has never stood by while evil stalked the world. America should not stand by when evil comes to its doorstep. We need leaders in Washington, DC, not bureaucrats and politicians worried about keeping their jobs.

Nothing is "inevitable", except, perhaps, the resignation of this bureaucrat who has found himself in a position far above his competency. Let us prepare ourselves for battle instead of surrendering before the next battle begins.

Gnocchi alla Ciociaria (Ciociaria-Style Gnocchi)

One of my favorite recipes, this traditional gnocchi was featured on Mario Batali's television show, Molto Mario. It seems to garner great praise whenever I make it for friends. One time I even took my act on the road and put it together at a relative's house for a family get-together. The only equipment you really need is a big, high-sided skillet.

Gnocchi (an Italian-style potato dumpling) is one of the easiest pasta to make, as it doesn't require strong arms for kneading, or a pasta maker to roll it out. If you want to try your hand a homemade pasta-making, this is definitely the place to start.

The sauce the Batali pairs with these gnocchi is phenomenal. It is one of the most flavorful pasta sauces I have ever found. I usually cut way back on the red pepper flakes so that it doesn't burn your mouth, so much as make it tingle. You can use just about any sauce with the gnocchi including a simple butter, sage and parmaggiano. The secret is to make sure you cook the gnocchi in the sauce for a couple of minutes after they have boiled. This helps the sauce to really hold onto the gnocchi for full flavor with every bite.

Latest Virus Hoax - Java Debugger Manager

Here is just one more reason to cast a wary eye on every virus report you receive. This hoax, and others, don't need a virus to inflict their damage. They just let you do the damage yourself.

The latest hoax tells you to delete a file called jdbgmgr.exe. This is the Java Debugger Manager, an important part of the Java support for your web browser and could cause Windows and Internet Explorer to fail.

Don't do damage to yourself. Always check out any virus notice by visiting the sites below. More importantly, never pass on a virus notice until you have confirmed it is legitimate. Make the cycle of virus hoaxes stop with you.

vMyths - Virus Myths

Symantec Anti-Virus Web Site

McAfee Web Site

Via Network World

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Free boat tour of the Port of Los Angeles on World Trade Day

Our other event this weekend involved a quick trip down to Ports o' Call Village in San Pedro, California to partake of the free boat tours of the Port of Los Angeles. Sponsored by the City of LA, three tour boat operations halted their usual charter operations to help give Angelenos a feel for the important part that the port plays in the LA economy.

We took one of the smaller boats available so this made the tour a bit more intimate. Joe had a blast hanging out on the bow of the boat and we got several short pieces of information over the PA system. We saw the marina around Ports O' Call Village, a collection of restaurants, fish markets and shops where you can sit and watch the tugboats, large container ships and Catalina ferries come in and out. A helicopter shuttle to Catalina Island passes overhead, as well.

Sea lions held their usual position on the buoys out in the main harbor entrance, One even swam by the boat. Dry docks, in use since World War II, sit empty today, waiting for the next ship to be cleaned and repaired. We passed under the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the 3rd largest suspension bridge in California.

The SS Lane Victory, the last surviving Victory ship, is a floating museum that offers tours that explain the original purpose of the ship and life onboard. The Lane Victory lies anchored next to the ultra-modern cruise ship terminal where countless "Love Boat" cruises embarked.

Just a few slips up the dock sits the modern LAFD firehouse which protects an old, yet still highly useful fireboat used to protect boats and structures around the harbor. Next door stands the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. It occupies the old Ferry Building where commuters would gather before the Vincent Thomas Bridge was created.

Once back at the dock, we had lunch...seafood, of course...and then headed out to visit with some family members in Orange County. Joe was particularly fascinated with the live crabs and lobsters seen throughout the village.

Though Ports O' Call Village has seen better days, I thought our visit there was a total success. There is a lot more to see in the San Pedro area, too. You can check out these sites to find more information.

San Pedro Chamber of Commerce Europa Festival

Port of Los Angeles

Picture Gallery of our visit

*** As of the posting of this entry, the Port of LA web site was not responding. Please try again later if the links do not connect you.

NoHo Arts and Theater Festival Re-cap

A busy weekend with so many possible events happening. Our first event was this annual festival in our old neighborhood, North Hollywood, California.

NoHo, as it has come to be called, has struggled for years to establish itself as an arts and theater district. Each year, they seem to come closer and closer to that goal.

There was plenty of food, fun and frolic at this years festival. 20-30 local theaters were offering performances for free to introduce new audiences. We almost caught a free children's show of Peter Pan, but Joe (4) had had enough excitement and needed a nap.

The streets were lined with many different artists displaying everything from fine art to craft items. There were at least 4 stages set aside for entertainment this year; an International Stage, a Kid's Stage, and more.

You may want to add this festival to next year's schedule right now. It is sure to offer even more in 2003.

Picture gallery