Friday, January 23, 2015

The Ice Man Cometh

Nephew Daniel in his snow gear
I guess I'm feeling a little guilty over our current temperatures in the mid-70s, here in sunny ol' California.  That's why I felt compelled to post this photo of my nephew Daniel.

Daniel lives in Ottawa, Canada, land of snow and ice.  This was a photo he took a few days ago.  He walks to work in -23C weather and this is how he does it - looking like the abominable snowman!

Oh, by the way, I did the math, -23C is -9 Fahrenheit.  No matter how you measure it, it sounds terrible.

So, for all of you still stuck in cold weather, you have my condolences.  I will enjoy my sunshine for now, thank you!

Have a terrific weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Taco Beach

Before the lunch crowd hit
I like going out to eat.  Let's face it, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you have realized by now that's one of my favorite things!  So when I find a great place, I am a happy camper.

When we first walked in and saw the red and green lights, I commented with surprise that they hadn't taken down their Christmas decorations yet.

My friend reassured me that those were Mexican colors and no doubt were a year-around part of the decor.  Doh!  Of course they are.  It did made the interior very festive.

Lunchtime at the Beach
Taco Beach Cantina in Long Beach made me happy.

Perhaps I should explain that!  I had 45 minutes for lunch, and my friend and I walked into this exceptionally busy place with misgivings.  We told the waitress our predicament and asked which menu items were the quickest.

"Tacos and burritos," came her quick reply.  "The fajitas will take much longer."

Okay.  Tacos it is!

Shrimp tacos with Mexican rice and beans
We both ordered taco meals with rice and beans and were not disappointed.  Not only was the food great, it came quickly, along with the check.  They didn't forget about us after that, either!  What great service!  I was very impressed!

The decorations above our rustic table
I suppose any restaurant plunked down in the middle of a big city business district has to deal with quick turnarounds at lunchtime, but some do it better than others.  Taco Beach did it really well!

The interior had a festive atmosphere
Yes, we did go on January 16th.  And, yes, people are wearing shorts in the photo.  There were also quite a few folks sitting outside.  The weather was cool, maybe in the lower 70s, but sunny and beautiful.

My heart-felt apologies to all of you still in the icy grip of winter.

(Please note: The photo of the front of the building comes from The Taco Beach Cantina website.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Johnny Rockets

One of my favorite hamburger joints
I once asked a Chinese-born co-worker what American foods he found hard to stomach.  I was curious.  His answer surprised me!  Without a moment's thought to consider his answer, he blurted out, "Hamburgers!"
Denise is a lovely woman.  I enjoy spending time with her.
I do not share his aversion to hamburgers. Being an American, I was raised on them.  That's one of the reasons why I enjoy Johnny Rockets.  Among other tasty things, they serve good, old-fashioned hamburgers and fries.

Put another quarter in the Juke Box!
I don't get to go to a Johnny Rockets very often, but I was recently in Long Beach with my friend Denise, and we had lunch at the one smack dab in the middle of downtown.  This is a tiny restaurant squeezed in among the old buildings around the intersection of Broadway and Pine. 

A bit of Americana: Coca-Cola, Fountain Service, American Fries and Ice Cream Floats
I hadn't been to a Johnny Rockets for years, so it was fun!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Slaving Over a Hot Computer

My view for two days
I got a break from my usual routine last week.  I spent Thursday and Friday in Long Beach at a class being introduced to InDesign software. The class was highly informative and fun.

My other view for two days
It was one of those classes where you learn a lot and worry that there was so much crammed into your brain that it's not all going to stick!

In some ways, the best part of the two-day experience was meeting our instructor, Beverly Houwing. She was very knowledgeable about our subject, but she was also a fascinating person!

Instructor Beverly Houwing
Besides teaching computer software, Beverly is also a photographer who travels all over the world. She had just recently returned from Antarctica!  

Yup.  That Antarctica, where the penguins are. That seems to be more an expedition than a vacation, but nevertheless... this intrepid woman did it. 

She told us she has a great love of Africa, and has taken many trips there.  She has self-published several books of her photograhs (using InDesign software, by the way), and they are truly beautiful.

Beverly with friends in Africa
Beverly's lovely photo books are available through her website:

Proceeds from this book (above) help a homeless cat shelter in Los Angeles

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

See ya Monday!

Jack wishes you a good Thursday and Friday!

Just a quick note to say I'll be out of town on business for the next couple of days. 
Look for my next post on Monday, January 19th!

Have a good weekend!

The Almost Best Christmas Present Ever

Christmas aftermath
Jack didn't know what to make of the Cat's Meow toy when we unwrapped it.  He was quite skeptical on Christmas day. What was this weird thing taking up the play space in the living room?

We'd already been playing furiously with other stuff, and he'd already opened catnip mousies and gotten a new fishing pole with a colorful catnip bird on it.  There was cat hair from one end of the living room to the other as a testament to our play.  Christmas was fun!

But this weird thing was new and mysterious and a little scary at first!

I have some friends who have several kitties and they had recommended this toy to me, saying their cats really loved it.  I thought it would make the perfect Christmas present for my little furry guy.

The Automated Wand for Cats
It doesn't really look like much.  There is a round base which takes batteries, and a simple plastic "wand" that turns on the base underneath a simple yellow tarp. 

The fun is in the computer that controls the wand.  It goes around, it stops, it goes back the other way, it slows down and speeds up.

It is irresistible to kitties!

Jack getting used to the idea of this weird thing in the living room.
It also broke after only three days or so of play.  My cat was tremendously disappointed.  

So was I.

Planning an aerial attack
For a while we had the best time imaginable!  

Jack loved playing with this thing.  It was so much fun to watch him!

Finally venturing a try at batting the wand!
Jack is a sweet cat kid.  He's always trying to find ways for me to be involved in the play.

Sitting on my left foot
He did this by sitting on my feet while he batted the wand.  First on my left foot.

Then my right foot.

(Or was it the other way around?)

It was great until a couple of days later when no amount of new batteries could make the thing go any more.  The lights came on, but the motor had simply burned out.

The sad thing was that it had no manufacturer information of any kind included in the box.  It only stated it was "Made in China".  Thank heavens I had ordered through Amazon.  They kindly accepted the return and credited my account.  I was really unhappy, however.  To find a toy that brings so much joy and then only lasts for a few short hours of play is depressing.

When I packed up the Cat's Meow to return it to the Land of Broken Toys, Jack watched very solemnly. It was so sad! The idea of this toy is great.  I wish an American manufacturer would pick up the gauntlet and make a sturdier version of this.  Or, maybe the Chinese one is okay and we just got a lemon.  Who knows?

In the meantime, Jack and I are content to play other games together.

But it was sure a lot of fun while it lasted!

My handsome boy posing with his fun toy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Roadhouse Grill

I went out for lunch with a friend on Saturday.  We had coupons, so we went to the Roadhouse Grill first thing after they opened in the morning. To our surprise and amazement, we had the place mostly to ourselves!

I've never seen the place this empty!

As this doesn't happen very often, I took some photos.  It's a whole 'nuther place without a bazillion people there.

I have to say, I belong to a lot of "Birthday Clubs" at various restaurants.  I feel that Roadhouse Grill offers the best coupons and specials of any of them.  We enjoyed some $6 burgers and got the full attention of our very nice waitress.  It was great.

To our amazement, it was drizzling rain when we left the place!  What a nice surprise.  There wasn't any rain in the forecast! That doesn't happen often in the Los Angeles area, and we sure need the rain.

It ended up raining all day long, through the night, and into Sunday.  It was lovely.

Hope there are some nice surprises in store for you today, too!