Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Post has been Hijacked, Matey!

It is I, Captain Joaquin Gorrión, recently freed from the foul confines of Piedras Negras prison in Northern Mexico (proof of my escape) just in time to celebrate my favorite holiday, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, or, as it is better known to my brethren, Talk Like Us Day!

Classic pirate sword- check.  Black Hawk-Eagle
instead of a parrot because it is native to Mexico- check.
Yep, this guy seems legit.

Roger and I did exchange several instant messages after he realized who hacked into his Blogger account in order to take over his hilarious and insightful Clean Sheets and Dirty Girls blog.  I have copied and pasted our IMs below for your amusement using this very fine MacBook Air I helped myself to from a patron at Starbucks who was kind enough to leave it laying on a table while she visited the restroom.  

Q: Let's get this question out of the way first.  What is your favorite letter of the alphabet?

A: Rrrrrrrrrr, you kidding me, you scalawag!  

Q: What do you plan to do now that you are in Texas besides hijack my blog?

I plan to secure a ship, a crew and make my way back to blue water where I can pillage and plunder to me black heart's content.  

Q: How do you plan to get there from Texas?  From what I understand the people there can be rather shooty.

A: They can never capture the infamous Joaquin Gorrión... again!

Q: What are your thoughts on the pirates off the coast of Somalia?

A: I have spent years living on the coast of Somalia, smoking qat with the locals in an abandoned lighthouse in between liberation missions off the coast.  I know the locals as well as anyone from the Americas and I can say from first hand experience that anyone living in a country where poverty is so extreme as it is in Somalia can hardly be blamed for trying to take from the wealthy.  They are the Robin Hoods of the sea, matey!  The wealthy governments of the world should spend more time trying to help the people of Somalia rather than sending their warships off its coast.

Q: Do you feel badly for hijacking the Q and A style of blog post that is used frequently on Mayor Gia's fantastic blog?

A: Pirate.

Q: Oh, right.  So what does a pirate captain such a yourself do all day?

A. We command a pirate crew with orders like batten down the hatches (hatches always need battening), square the sails, hoist the Jolly Roger, shiver me timbers, fetch more rum and so forth.

Q: OK, well I feel that you are running out of material and we have established that it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day so I think we're done here for now.

A. That's not really a question.

Q: Could you at least tell the readers about the last time I did a post about International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which they can see here.

A. I'll give you that but I prefer my eggs served they way they are famous for making them for breakfast in Portugal.

Q: Can I have my blog back?

A. Maybe.

Monday, September 17, 2012

San Diego Upgrades

San Diego is Getting a New Central Library

While I would rather see the hours lengthened and the buildings improved or expanded at existing branch libraries throughout San Diego, I am excited to see the dome of the new Central San Diego library going into place.

San Diego gets good dome

Here is a look at the courtyard garden:

I Want to Read There!

Here you can take a live look at the construction of the new library.  How exciting!

The new library has a lot of competition from other recently constructed downtown libraries in other major U.S. cities.  The Seattle downtown library has its own TED talk for goodness sake!

I Really Hope the San Diego Library 
Turns Out This Well

Here is the link to the official web site for the new San Diego Central Library.

San Diego's Balboa Park Renovation

As you can see in this artist's rendering, Balboa Park will
look exactly the same except that you won't be able to drive
through it anymore and they will charge you for parking 
underneath it - civic progress!

Plaza de Panama - is the name of a renovation project scheduled to move forward over the next several years that will significantly alter San Diego's Balboa Park.  You can read a lot about the upgrade on the official website for the project here.  The city of San Diego is certainly on board with the renovation as you can see from reading this glowing endorsement of the project.  What the city does not describe in their Fact Sheet that I would really like to know is who gets the money from the paid parking that will be added to Balboa Park.  To my way of thinking the city of San Diego should have held out for free parking to be part of this project so that all San Diegans can enjoy Balboa Park rather than agree to have someone build a way to print money by charging people to visit Balboa Park, which is one of the highlights of San Diego.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Trashy TV

Now is as good a time as any to think about what will keep us entertained this weekend.  The following trashy TV shows that are available on Netflix have captured my attention:

Skins (the original UK version, not the terrible U.S. remake):

 Pink undies, a short plaid skirt and boots will get my attention

 I've read that book!

The whole first season of Skins is available on Netflix

My quasi-puritanical American upbringing does cause me to turn down the volume on these shows frequently.

Pretty Little Liars (PLL)
Now hear me out on this one.  The pilot of PLL is good.  I enjoyed watching the pilot to see a Disney show aimed at the tween and younger audience that covers shoplifting, underage drinking, drug use, lesbians, murder and lying (obviously) to adults.  Plus, the actresses are easy on the eyes.

Pretty girls, catchy music, lots of advertising 
but not worth watching beyond the pilot

Unfortunately, the promise of this show starts to fizzle out before the end of the pilot.  Among the many problems the show faces is that a police officer actually shows up at the home of a girl to arrest her for shoplifting.  This does not happen in real life, kids.

What little else I have seen of this show has been a disappointment.

Summary: I offer some Netflix suggestions that are heavy on top heavy young girls.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Questions Off the Cuff

I enjoyed reading the "Questions Off the Cuff" post from this wonderful blog enough that I adapted them for myself here:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Smartphone Upgrade

Despite the fact that I have a cell phone charger that converts power from a standard outlet to a micro-USB plug at home and one at work and one that converts power from the cigarette lighter in my car (two of these came with my previous phone), the bright screen of my phone manages to drain its battery during the time it takes to sit down and sip a cup of coffee.

I thought about getting a solar powered charger or an external battery charging device.  I like the fact that these devices would charge the battery on both my current phone and other devices with a micro-USB port.  The downside is that these items are bulky and since I don't carry a murse there is a good likelihood that I would not have them with me when my battery dies.  

Recently, I purchased a second battery for my LG Revolution smartphone for about $6 including shipping from (although that prices doesn't take into account the $90+ annual charge for being a member of Amazon Prime).  With a second battery I hope to be able to change out batteries on the go and keep my phone ready to do my bidding.  The battery is small enough to fit in the little pocket on the front right side of a pair of jeans.  One problem with having a second battery I quickly discovered is that you can't tell by looking at it if it is charged or not and there is no point in bringing a dead battery with you anywhere.  I came up with the following solution to this problem and now have a system in place on both batteries that instantly lets me know if the spare is charged just by glancing at it.  I present the smartest thing I have done in recent memory:

It's dead, Jim. 

Fit and Ready for Action

With the addition to four colored stickers (two on each of my two batteries), I now know if my batteries are charged at a glance.  Green side up or facing away from my body in my pocket means that it's charged.  Red up or away means it is dead. 

If I did this all over again, I might go with a black sticker or piece of black tape for dead and white to indicate charged to fit with the black and white theme of this blog and lifestyle color choices but what's done is done.

Pro-Tip: Electronics only work when they have power making it useful to know if a battery is fully charged or not.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anger Over Housing

Everything that is Wrong with America and San Diego
I am sick and tired of paying money to someone else who provides me with little in return.  Housing in particular bothers me.  I want to own, not rent, my own home.  I do not need a large home. I would like to own a home that is within a reasonable commuting distance of where I currently work in San Diego, CA.

I value my independence a great deal.  I do not want to share a living space with people who are not members of my family.  I do not want to live with one or more roommates.

I can sum up everything that is wrong with American in general and San Diego in particular with this one link.  Here is a 420 square foot studio apartment, not even a one-bedroom mind you, that would cost me $925 a month to live in.  The unit itself is OK and while the neighborhood isn't the worst, it is not a place I would feel comfortable walking around at night.   The monthly rental rate for this apartment is fairly standard around the city of San Diego.

$925/ Month Does Not Buy Paradise

Since the listing does not mention parking, I imagine that street parking is the only thing available with this unit, which means that whoever lives here has to deal with the hassle of dragging their things to and from a different location each day.  Groceries are a pain to deal with in this setup plus there is the constant threat of someone smashing your window and stealing whatever is inside your car.

I don't like to discuss finances.  I will say that given my financial situation $925 is a lot of money to charge someone to live in a studio in a sub-par neighborhood.

I am incredibly grateful to have found a job this year after searching for longer than I would have liked to find employment.  I worked for four years at the same company after graduating from college and did well at my job.  I am intelligent, hardworking, have no felonies on my record nor have I had any serious run ins with the law.  I received good grades throughout my time in school. while earning both a high school diploma from a public school and a bachelor's degree from a good university.  I could pursue a post-graduate degree but I don't like the idea of bribing smart people to get them to hand me a piece of paper that says I am one them.  If I could see some real value to having another diploma, I might consider going back to school.  What I have seen of the job market tells me that paying to put another diploma on my wall might not help me.

Summary of My Problem with Housing in America
All the money I could spend to rent this or any other apartment does not actually help me to own anything.  I personally do not have the money to buy a condo or single family detached home in cash at the moment.  If I was to buy such a thing with the help of a bank, what would happen if I lost my job?  Would a bank laugh at me if I was to approach them with my level of income and a desire to own, not rent, a piece of property?  Why does America or any other country use such a bizarre system of borrowing and credit to get people to move into their own homes?  This is the post-industrial age we live in.  We have an abundance of goods and people to supply services so why is it that a need as basic as shelter in an area where there is work to be found so difficult to obtain?


Monday, September 3, 2012


I am on the hunt for a place to call home.  I do not have a lot of money.  What I do have is creativity and burning desire to own, not rent, but own my own place to live.  

I have thought about a house boat but a lot of other people have had the same thought and while it might be possible to rent a slip/ mooring* that would be less expensive than an apartment, I have heard some really awful stories about the upkeep costs for owning a boat.  Plus, the difficulties in maintaining a first world lifestyle aboard a boat are fairly significant from what I can imagine, i.e. how does one shower in fresh water when the marina is icky, do boats even have showers, where does the stuff go when the toilet flushes, etc.  I would have the pride that comes along with actually owning something in the boat.

My previously secret weapon in the struggle of the middle class is the website, which provides consistently good information aimed at consumers trying to do their best in navigating the complexities of the current world in which we live.  This post contains the following thought provoking passage regarding the future of now empty retail space available all across the United States: 
Could they [empty retail stores] become the suburban version of the factory loft apartment? We've seen old schools, churches and office buildings turned into condos and hotels, but we expect the whole lack-of-windows thing might be a roadblock to converting an old Borders into deluxe living quarters.
Maybe they should be converted into paintball arenas? 

While I like the suggestion of transforming empty retail spaces into paintball arenas because it suggests that someone or several people would be able to make money from otherwise unused space, I would like to see it go farther.  How about space for an interactive experience with live actors that takes place in the warehouse?  What about such an experience that involves a digital element with players using their smartphones to interact with the game and keep score against other players?

Showering on the go:

If you don't have a shower, you might try using Witch Hazel.  Pour some Witch Hazel over a washcloth while nude or semi nude in the relative privacy of a bathroom and rub all over your body.  Hopefully, you should feel a little bit cleaner by the time you are done.  Also, you might consider bringing a small bottle of shampoo to wash your hair in a bathroom sink. 

*I don't know what the exact nautical term for a boat parking spot is, which might indicate that I am not in the best position to actually own a boat.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Entering the Final Phase

Football Season is Back!
September 1 is upon us and that marks the kickoff of another season of football!  Yes, I mean the kind of football that is played mostly by guys holding the ball in their hands, which I realize is a terrible name for the sport and one that could be improved upon.  No, I do not thinks that "handegg" is an acceptable alternative name.  

I entered a fantasy football league with some fellow bloggers.  I am really excited about spending a little time playing fantasy football because it is a good way to get excited about games and players that you would otherwise not have as much of an interest in watching.  Immediately after signing up, I promptly lost the username and password I used to create the account.  Also, after joining the league, my employer called me to do something at the same time the draft took place.  Now I've missed the draft and have no way to log in to the account at the moment.  I think I'm off to a good start. 

Fourth Quarter
Continuing the football theme, I think it's worth pointing out that it is September 1 and that means that we are entering the final quarter of 2012.

One of my goals for 2012 is to add 100 quality posts to Clean Sheets and Dirty Girls.  This post marks number 53 so I am behind schedule.  Thankfully, I do have plans in the works to add a number of posts in October to get everyone who frequents this blog in the mood for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween.


There I was scrolling down the endless list of things that make me happy on the This Isn't Happiness site when this amazingly instructive series of photos hit me like a ton of bricks.  I've been doing it wrong my whole life.  I could have been enjoying frosting with every bite of my cupcake.  Now I just need to convince someone to bake me cupcakes.

Update: This is certainly weird but this post somehow showed up as posted on 9/1/12 instead of as a draft to be published once I finished pulling together a few more of food related notes from around the innerwebs on the last week of September which is when I found the link above.  I'm sure it wasn't operator error.  In any event, here is a little more food related goodness I found online. - used candy bar wrappers turn from trash to items of historic value if you give them 70 years.  I enjoyed looking at a Butterfinger bar wrapper from the 1930s that advertises it as costing only one penny.

Continuing the food theme, here is another from This Isn't Happiness that caught my eye.

Basket weave the bacon as buzz feed suggests in your BLT like this:
The Right Way to Make a BLT:
It looks like you have to bake your bacon
to make this one work