Friday, December 31, 2010

Troy's Christmas Breakfast

Lucy and Troy have went to Morelia to celebrate Lucy's parents 50th wedding anniversary, so we won't have any more videos of them until they return in mid-January. In the meantime, here are a few videos we took on Christmas day. First up, Troy eating breakfast!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays

From our house to yours...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I'm Happy To Be A SoCal Boy

Today, in Spokane, Washington:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fun With PVC

My favorite part starts at 3:25

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Burning the Bomb House and the Publicist Murder

We've had a couple of brushes with current events recently that I've found intriguing. First up: George Jakubec in Escondido was found to be making highly explosive HMTD bombs in his rented home at 1954 Via Scott - he was found because his gardener brushed against some with his foot and it exploded. No, we don't know George, but the house is within a few blocks of where I drive on my way home sometimes.

If you've been watching the news, you know that the bomb squad decided the only way to safely get rid of the HMTD was to burn down George's home. Well, the burn happened at 10:55 today. Within 5 minutes, the home looked like the top photo. Within 15, the photo to the left.

I got home in the wee hours of the morning from a trip to Virginia, so I was just waking up when I flipped on the TV and took these shots of the news. As you can see, the house backs (backed?) up to the freeway, so they closed the freeway.

We only live about 4 miles from there, so I took this photo from our upstairs window. This photo was taken about the same time as the black plume photo above. It is amazing how different a plume can look from different angles.

The next current event that piqued my interest was the murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. No, I didn't know her either, but as you'll recall from prior posts we just did a Hollywood trip in September and had a great time. Ronni had attended the premiere of Burlesque on Nov 16, and went to the afterparty at the W Hotel shown on the left - which is about a block from Hollywood and Vine, one of the places we visited in Sept.

On her way home to Westwood, she was on Sunset Blvd waiting to turn left onto Whittier. A bicyclist rode up and attempted to rob her, but instead ended up firing 5 shots into the car. Ronni was able to drive hundreds of feet down Whittier before she crashed her car into this lamp pole and died. Very sad. We drove within about a block of this home. It is about 2 blocks from Michael Jackson's home, which we did drive by before droving around the area. The house in the photo, by the way, is 6500 square feet and valued at $4M.
When the police went to question the suspected murderer, they went to the Harvey Apartments where he lived. He shot himself as they approached. The gun he used was the same gun he shot Ronni with. When I looked up the Harvey Apartments, I found they are just 700 feet or so from the spot on La Mirada where we parked our car when we were on Let's Make a Deal in September.
So nothing earth shattering here. Just a few very intriguing stories that we were fairly close to. That is all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The LA Auto Show

 The day after Thanksgiving, us menfolk in the family decided it was time for our annual trip to the Auto Show. Only this time, instead of going to the San Diego Auto Show (a big disappointment last year), we decided to try the Los Angeles Auto Show. So up I-5 we went.
 It was a very clear day, and there was not a sign of smog in the LA Basin. We could actually see the snow-capped mountains to the northeast.
I also discovered a few Drive By Shooting ops (see posts after the show), including this gentleman. As Judas Priest would say...'Breaking the Law, BREAKing the Law!" See you in the Auto Show...

Join us as we tour the LA Auto Show. True to my "too much is never enough" philosophy, there will be enough posts to choke a horse.

LA Auto Show: Honda

 The first thing we saw upon entering the show was this beautiful CR-Z. To tell you the truth, in photos it doesn't look that great, but in person it is super. A fine follow-up to the 1980s CRX (even though Honda claims it isn't).
 My youngest son David is a Honda fan and wasted no time sitting in a black CR-Z.
 It is apparently to his liking, as he never even noticed the camera.
 A Honda Clarity was also on display. It is being offered to a small select group of people for testing right now.
 The plaque for the Clarity.
 A Honda Civic coupe. This generation, Honda gave responsibility of the Civic back to the engineers who had much greater say. While some of the styling is definitely better (such as the rear view of the coupe), much of the rest of it falls flat. And the two-tiered dash, that's just weird.
Just released, the new Honda minivan is quite the looker, inside and out. Up until recently, the Chrysler minivans have been the best in my book. But I now give that title to Honda - I really really like this new generation.

LA Auto Show: Dodge

 Here is a car that Ron and I had been waiting to see: the new Dodge Charger. It's not even on dealer lots yet.
 We are particularly interested because Ron just bought a prior year Charger, so we wanted to see the continuity between generations. Our verdict: It certainly looks like a Charger, and it definitely looks better in person than in pics.
 To me, the taillights are an improvement over the prior gen, but they aren't as sharp-looking as they could have been. In theory they should be drop-dead gorgeous. In practice, they are just 'nice'.
 While red is great on many cars and is nice on the Charger, there are probably other colors I would prefer more. Like a nice dark blue.
 My favorite view of the new Charger is the front end. In my opinion, they nailed it. Very aggressive, very distinct, very Dodge.
 And that grille! It sticks out further than the bumper! I guess it must absorb shock too, or they couldn't have done it that way. But it looks very very sharp. Great job, Dodge!
 Ron is a Dodge guy and he really likes the new Durango. While it is hard for me to get excited about any SUV, this does look mighty fine. For an SUV.
 It has a very distinctive Dodge nose...
 And the interior looks very upscale, easy to use, and easy on the eyes. No complaints here.
 My wife is in love with the Challenger. Especially black Challengers. And I'm a big fan of metallic black. So wouldn't you know it, there is one at the show. Just look at this fender.
I'm not as wild about this one accented with a blue stripe, but Ron certainly does look good sitting in it, doesn't he?

LA Auto Show: Subaru

 My eye was then draw to this display, labeled 'Impreza'. You can forgive me for thinking it was the new Subaru Impreza.
 Ron pointed out it was merely a concept of what the Impreza could look like. Subaru, you should do it. Exactly like this. It might be the first Subaru I have ever liked.
 My first exposure to Subarus was in the 1970s when my middle school teacher, Ms. Openshaw, drove a yellow coupe. While she really loved it, I never really understood the car. It was ugly and underpowered. But it apparently appealed to women. That is when I first understood there was a big difference between what men and women wanted in a car. Detroit should have paid attention.
The taillights are wicked fun and unique. Those boxes of lights really emphasize the depth to the lights as you change angles. This would be awesome on a production car.
Side note: It is my opinion that this will be the decade of lighting. In cars as well as in homes, you will see many unique lighting options pop up with some very eye catching results. Mark my words.

LA Auto Show: Nissan

 Here is the new Nissan Juke. It takes my sons by surprise that I like it, as it is not something I normally would like.
 Part of it has to do with this rear view. I think everything aft of the front doors is designed very well. Ron inquires about the front end, implying he's not crazy about it. I'm luke-warm on the front....I applaud them for trying something different. It doesn't kill the design in my eyes, still a nice purchase option.
 What turns the corner towards a possible buy (for others, we'll never have one) is that all reports are it is a blast to drive. All you CR-V and RAV4 drivers, I think you should be seriously looking at the Juke.
 Here is Nissan's concept car at the show. It doesn't come across well, but there is very sharp lighting running along the doors and across the seats. Very sharp indeed.
 Unfortunately white is not the best color for a show car - or for any car for that matter - so that brings the design down a few notches. I know you're trying to be different Nissan, but give us our jewel tones back!
 Outside design is okay. It just doesn't make me go wow. In fact, there are some PRODUCTION cars that look better!
 And the Nissan Cube. The silliest car on the market. Really, I mean that. It looks straight out of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". But if silly is okay with you, then the design itself is very good.
 More silliness inside. But a very nice, simple design. Giggle. The young man shown in the front seat in the prior pic was enjoying it. His mom was in the passenger seat trying to talk him into getting one.   Run, young man, run!  At least if you want to maintain a single ounce of manhood!
 And we can't talk Nissan without talking the GT-R. Hideously fast, all the car mags are talking nonstop about it. And David absolutely loves it. The front end styling is very nice, and I probably like it better up front than the current Vette.
 ...there is no back leg room in the back seat! None, as in zero! Join the crowd, GT-R. The Jaguar XK is the same way. Back seat is for double-amputees only.
 Notice all the little male noses pressed against the glass. Here is David taking a peek inside, at which point he points out to me...
 Here is where I have a problem with the GT-R. I don't like the rear at all. From the A pillars back, the Corvette is light years ahead of the GT-R, in my opinion. The GT-R does sound wonderful, though. I heard one going down the street the other day. Mmmmmm!
 The new Nissan Leaf. They would not let us sit in one. That's a head-scratcher, since they'll be on dealer's lots any time now, supposedly. The car is nice, and it will be interesting to see how this and the Volt do in the marketplace. Two very good options to a problem that has plagued the world for a long time: how do we starting moving away from petroleum?
The new Nissan Quest. I don't like the design at all. Too simple and square, just like the new Chrysler minivans. Yuck.
But I do applaud Nissan. About 5 to 10 years ago, they made a conscience decision to make unique vehicles. They wanted to have something in every segment that was truly different than other things on the market. And I think they have succeeded wonderfully at that. That means they'll never be the market leader, but it does mean they'll draw buyers in who are looking for something different. And that will lead them to being successful. I hope.

LA Auto Show: Porsche

 The Porsche area was an entirely separate room from the rest of the show (which was comprised of two massive halls), and it opened with a display of the original 1950s blue Speedster that was the first Porsche in the US. Next, this new blue Porsche Speedster was displayed, showing I assume that Porsche has stayed true to it's roots.
 Yes, the display was getting plenty of attention, so I assume show attendees agree. It is a sharp car, I must say!
 I was also very impressed with the way Porsche handled the show. As opposed to some upscale brands who roped everything off (are you listening, Aston Martin and Rolls?), Porsche let everyone sit in, touch, and drool on every car. It shows they understand they are cultivating future customers.
 Here is Ron sitting in a Boxster. That's a pretty big smile!
 Another view of him in that Boxster. There was actually a line waiting to sit in it, so he didn't spend long in that seat.
 Porsche had three of each their models in each row. Here is the Boxster row.
 Here is the Cayenne row. Not being SUV fans, we didn't spend long here.
 Here is their 911 row, with a potential future customer getting plenty of seat time.
 Just look at that hood. That's quite a shine, looks very sharp.
 Back to the Boxster row, here is a Cayman (basically a Boxster with a roof).
 And then we approached the Panamera row: the first four door Porsche. I, and many others, questioned this move by Porsche but apparently I was wrong. Reports are it is outselling the rest of the Porsche line.
 And the auto show gave me a glimpse into why. I had expected that it was men who still wanted a sports car while their family grew that were buying them. But as these pictures show, the Panamera was actually being view by women. Look at the other photos in this post: most of them are devoid of females. Except the Panamera pics.
 Here is David caught unaware he is on camera.
Ditto for Ron.