August 29, 2004
Back on

Last week I was in Orlando for some company meetings. Hot, muggy weather, long meetings, backstage tours of Disneyworld, lots of drinking at business dinners. I think it wore me out a bit.

No time to blog, except a few camphone photos I moblogged over there ->

Last week was my parents 41st wedding anniversary. 41 years. Wow.

We made a cake for my parents and headed down to their house. My dad had been in Ghana doing some charity work earlier this month and they had been in Hawaii after that. This was the first time we'd seen them since then.

They gave us several gifts that were wonderful. Here's what I recieved.

Yes, the next time I get a chance I will be burning Castro's crops.

Back to the regular geek blogging when I get some time.

Until then here's a little MLP:

Election Protection 2004 (a site my brother Matt built with MovableType)
Cake's New Album
Star Wars Gangsta Rap Special Edition

Posted by michael at 11:07 PM
August 22, 2004

Why overpriming is bad.

Posted by michael at 07:56 PM
La Brea Tar Pits

Today I took the kids to the Page Museum bka The La Brea Tar Pits.

To those not from Los Angeles, the Tar Pits are an area where oil and asphalt have risen to the surface in the middle of the city for the last 40,000 years at least. Water would collect on top of the asphalt and thousands of animals got caught in the tar trap, their bones preserved for centuries.

The tar is still there, waiting for it's next victim.

There is a working museum where they excavate the remains and put them on display. Mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, sloths, American lions, condors, and other extinct animals have all been preserved for us to see.

Zoe & Mira in front of a horse skeleton.

The Tar Pits are a common destination for LA schoolchildren and the museum is well suited for kids. There is a wall with hundreds of skulls of dire wolves caught in the tar. It's as impressive today as it was when I was 10 and saw it for the first time.

If you haven't visited, do yourself a favor and go. You'll have a good time.

Posted by michael at 05:09 PM
Leftover beers

Yesterday was the party for LA Bloggers and we had a good time.

Jim bought his whole family and the four girls (his 2 and my 2) were awfully busy playing the whole time. Being the daughters of geek bloggers, the girls spent time outdoors in a tent watching a portable DVD player, emerging to get more food and more My Little Pony dolls.

Grant and Jill showed up. Mack from LAVoice came along with his son Cooper as well. Britta stopped by with here dad. I know her more from #joiito than blogging. Cousin James stopped by as well.

There weren't enough people for the planned Mac vs. PC tug-of-war, but it was fun for all. I made them all drink shots, as usual at a Pusateri party and they were good sports to try.

L-R: Mack & Jim

L-R: Britta, James, Grant, Jill

Here I am bringing the smoked turkey & brisket into the house to be cut.

Not as many people showed up as I had hoped and we had plenty of extra beer and sodas. Grant, Jill and James were all heading out that night to hand with friends so I sent off with six packs of leftover beer.

It was a good start in getting LA bloggers together. Hopefully the numbers just grow from here on out.

Posted by michael at 12:42 PM
August 20, 2004
Reminder -> BYB

This is just a note to remind you that tomorrow is Blog My Backyard.

Preparation is underway and it sounds like a good number of people will show up.

I hope to see you there and shake your hand.

Posted by michael at 08:59 AM
August 16, 2004
Out and about

I started Sunday early with a little yardwork. I beat down the tree stump a little more with the maul and finally filled the large hole up with dirt.

Nothing like swinging a maul first thing in the morning to get the blood pumping.

Around lunch time I headed off to meet Sean, Shawn, Michael, and Jason to do a little Sunday Shooting. This time I brought the rifle and saw what it could do at close range. That barrel makes things within 20 yards all easy targets. I rented a shotgun to add a little variety.

The smaller two holes are from the rifle rounds and the large hole is from a shotgun slug. If the 'bad guys' invade America, I'm ready to join the militia...

Sean wrote about his experience here and Jason wrote it up here. Good times. You know, isn't registered yet...

After a cup of coffee with the boys where we discussed whether or not Red Bull was made of bull semen or not, I headed to Hollywood.

Wil Wheaton was doing a book signing, and couple of LA bloggers had asked if I was coming. I arrived in the middle of Wil's talk and was suprised the that place was filled with people. He's still got the draw.

I spent some time chatting with sbmusiclover, lomara, Wendy and John about things. It was nice to put a face to the names. After talking for a while I got to thinking about the chores that awaited me and finally headed home.

I Hope you had a good weekend as well.

Posted by michael at 12:45 AM
August 13, 2004
Out of touch

President Bush said yesterday:

"I think there may be handfuls of people that are very emotional, but I think by far the vast majority of Americans are wanting to know whether they're going to be able to work and whether or not the government's doing its job of protecting the country, I don't have a sense there's a lot of anger."

It is a sad day for the US when it's leader can't see what is obvious to every citizen...

Posted by michael at 11:02 AM
August 11, 2004
Plan update

I noticed that Squidly was questioning my progress on the Two Week Plan.

Let's take a look at the plan and what's I've done so far.


    • Feed fish - Fish is still alive
    • Eat fruit - I've eaten 6 apples in 7 days
    • Check/water plants - Plants are still alive
    • Dishes/paper/trash - No piles of garbage or filth in the house

    In the next two weeks

    • Dinner with Mom - On Sunday night we went to Souplantion
    • Remove stump from front yard - See picture below
    • Put up shelves in the girls room
    • See Zaitoichi, Donnie Darko, Napoleon Dynamite - Zaitoichi great, Napolean good
    • Go shoot my rifle
    • Go see a live band
    • Reprep laptop
    • Plan that blogging thing - See the previous post
    • Sell all that stuff on Ebay - Six items listed currently
    • Ride my bicycle
    • Try a Mochaberry at Borders - Good, but not worth the hassle of going into a Borders.
    • Do the hot sauce experiment

Here's the removed stump. My chainsaw broke in the middle of getting this done and I had to finish it by hand with the maul. Yeah, I'm hard-core like that with cool wood chopping skills...

By my count that's 6 and 2/3 out of the 12 I listed. That's more than half with the toughest one, the stump removal done.

In light of this, I respectfully tell Squidly to 'step off'.

Posted by michael at 08:02 AM
August 10, 2004
Blog My Backyard

The Los Angeles Blogging community has never been one to get together in meatspace. For some reason, other cities llike New York and Seattle can draw hundreds to blogger get-togethers, but LA hasn't done as well.

Meetups are lightly attended and even the get-togethers draw small groups. The last big gathering of LA bloggers was the Live from the Blogosphere back in February 2003. I thought a little bit of how to get the bloggers together, but finding a place with cheap parking, cheap drinks, space and wifi is no easy task.

Then it hit me, I'll take a page from Bruce Sterling's book. Every SXSW, Bruce invites everyone to his house for beers. The party goes off without a hitch and everyone has a great time.

My backyard has plenty of wifi, parking is free, and I can cover some drinks and food...

So... LA Bloggers, you are cordially invited to Blog My Backyard. Tell your friends, blog it, gmail it to others, google me to see if I'm a freak, convince your significant other, and mark your calendar. I'm giving you plenty of notice.

Yep, on Saturday, August 21st feel free to stop by, have a drink and meet other LA Bloggers.

Just a couple of guidelines:

1) You need to be a blogger, or at least arrive with a bonafide blogger.
2) You must agree to wear a nametag. People want to know who you are and nametags let that happen. All the cool kids are wearing them.
3) You must not be stupid. This is my home and my wife is graciously letting me get away with a yet another kooky scheme.

I'll provide some basic food and drinks, but feel free to bring something along with you to share. My daughters will be there, so if you want to bring your children, that would be great.

Date: Saturday, August 21st
Time: 2PM - 6PM
Location: [removed after event]

If you are fairly sure you are coming, let me know so I get a rough count of how many will be here.

Posted by michael at 11:14 PM
What I do when I have too much free time...

Since I have copious free time in the evenings, this is what I spent an hour making last night:

Of course, now my brother will explain how I can shave a few more k off the file size.

Posted by michael at 08:56 AM
August 08, 2004
What a Gmail invite gets you

Several weeks ago, I was looking at gmailswap and saw an offer that said "Shoot the guns from Counterstrike." and I was intrigued. The offer was to go to a rifle range in LA and shot several assailed weapons commonly found in video games.

Sounded like a deal to me and I sent the invite. My new friend Jason, emailed back promptly with tons of details. This weekend I finally had enough free time and we met at the shooting range.

Jason is a huge gun enthusiast and has an encyclopedia like knowledge of firearms and gun laws. Truly an expert, he spent the day explaining almost every aspect of guns and what the gun law changes meant to collectors. When I heardcould him explain things about some of the bans on magazines I could see how useless the laws were. We went out to Angeles Shooting Range

I brought my rifle, a Mosin Nagant 91/30 and about 40 rounds of ammo. Jason had a ton of stuff and we promptly got set up on the rifle range.

This is a Colt HBAR aka AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16. This is the kind of rifle the troops in Iraq are using.

The rifle was light and with little recoil compared to the other rifles.
Besides the comfortable feel, it was accurate and easy to fire repeatedly without drifting off target.

Click more to see what the rest of the day held...

This is a Bulgarian SLR-95 aka AK-47. This is the famed rifle developed in the Soviet Union and found in almost every corner of the world. Notice the curved magazine, the signature shape of the AK-47.

It's a little heavy but it's dead simple to use. Not as accurate as the AR-15,
but I can see how you could lay down fairly accurate bursts of fire.

These are some of the bullets we used, the left is a round for the AR-15,
the middle one for the M1A, and right one for the Mosin Nagant.

This is a Springfield M1A, similar to the military M-14 rifle.
This rifle was the standard military rifle before the switch to the M-16 during the Vietnam war.
Quite an expensive item at around $1,500 to get one new.

This rifle felt similar to the AR-15 and but packed much more of a kick.
I really liked that the stock made out of walnut. Much nicer than the polymer stocks, IMHO.

This is my Mosin Nagant 91/30. It is Russian military surplus from World War 2.
It is a bolt action rifle that holds five rounds in the magazine. Rather than using an enclosed clip,
the Mosin Nagant uses a stripper clip to hold the rounds.

I shot the rifle for the first time here. The kick is similar to the M1A.
The action of the bolt is a bit stiff and I really had to whack on it.
The range officer agreed that you had to 'smack the damn thing around'.

The initial targets we used were out at 100 yards.
Without a scope, it was hard to see when we hit the target at this range.
I liked the metal targets better.

After shooting the four rifles for a while, we went over to the pistol side.
This is a H&K SP89 aka MP-5K.
It is missing the foregrip since that is illegal in California.
Obviously the addition of the foregrip turns it into a terrible assault weapon.
This gun goes for over $3,000 in the US these days.

This was by far my favorite gun of the day.
The gun is amazingly accurate. I'm not that great of a shot and I was able to hit the
metal targets at 50 yards easily. There was very little kick and the gun felt well balanced.
I can see why a gun enthusiast would want one of these, they are SWEET.

There were several other handguns there including Para Ordnance P14-45 Limited, Sig Sauer P245, and a Sig Sauer P229.
Here I am firing the Para Ordnance. Each of the weapons had great feels and I could see why they were top of the line in their caliber.
I always enjoy firing a .45 due to it's old school action, but I have to say, the Sig P229 gave me the best feeling of control of the three.
Shooting at the metal targets was much more fun than any paper target.
The metal target gave off a tasty ping when you hit them for that crucial instant feed back.

We also shot this Mossberg 590A shotgun.
Holding this felt very comfortable ... until I shot it.
Damn, this thing had some kick. My shoulder is still sore.

Jason loaded up a magnum or max round. I can't remember exactly what he called them, but it hurt. A lot.
Perhaps I was just a bit worn down my shooting so much already, but that shotgun was harsh on my right side.
Some other guys were hip shooting and I can see why.

As I think you can tell, I had a GREAT time shooting with Jason. It was so much fun to have an expert along to explain everything and help correct my grips and stances. A big shout out of thanks to Jason for taking me on the shooting expedition. All for a Gmail invite...

Lastly, here is a short video of me shooting my rifle (2.9 MB wmv version and 3.4 MB mpeg version). Enjoy.

I'm probably going to hit the range next weekend too. Drop me a line if you are interested.

Posted by michael at 11:56 PM
Making some sweet moolah with Uncle Rico...

Friday night I finally saw Napolean Dynamite.

The movie is a snapshot of a while in the life of a young teenager from Idaho in his struggle to fit in. Like the vast majority of us, Napolean is not one of the popular people at school. He got strange hobbies, a strange family and is uncomfortable around girls. Sounds like me in high school...

The filmmakers have a distinct style and simply let many of the scenes happen slowly rather than pushing through the story in rapid sequences with multiple camera angles. I'm sure there's some film school term for it, but I found it refreshing.

The basic message of the film is that good things do happen to people. In the film, the characters tend to be accepting of these good things rather than waiting for great things instead. For example, older brother Kip finally meets his 'internet girlfriend' LaFawndah and falls for her. Rather than rejecting her because she is not perfect, Kip accepts that a good thing has happened and goes for it.

I think may of us could heed this message. Accepting the good things in life and not rejecting everything that isn't perfect, is something all of use should do. I'm not saying people shouldn't strive for what they want, but we should take joy and comfort in what we do have.

I had hoped for greatness and endless repeatable lines, but the film didn't rise to that pinnacle. It's a wonderful film, but it won't raise to the stature of Ghostbusters or Caddyshack when it comes to phases that enter the general vernactular. The lines are funny, but without the visuals, they kinda fall flat in normal conversation. I mean, how many times does the opportunity come around to say "The defect in this one is bleach."? It's a funny line, but rarely used. Compare that to "Dogs and cats, living together...mass hysteria!" from Ghostbusters. The ghostbusters line can find it's way into almost any conversation.

So go see this movie and enjoy the goodness.

My favorite line in the movie is by Kip: "Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter."

Posted by michael at 08:45 AM
August 07, 2004
Los Angeles Insight

Jonah of asks a few questions of LA bloggers.

1. How long have you lived in Los Angeles?

32 out of 37 years. 4 years in New York, 1 year in San Francisco.

2. Were you born here?

Yes, born and raised in the South Bay.

3. How long did you plan on staying here originally?

After I got married, we had planned to live in San Francisco forever.

4. How long do you plan on staying here now?

Probably forever. Possibly we could move after the girls finish school and college (16+ years...)

5. What keeps you here?

Works, schools, the weather, the tolerance of diversity.

6. What makes you want to leave?

The smog and the traffic.

7. What is your biggest suprise about living here?

That so many people hate LA in the rest of the country, especially New Yorkers.

8. What is your biggest disappointment about living here?

We don't get to see fall colors and we don't get to see winter become spring with the appearance of green. Back east, these times of the year are glorious.

Posted by michael at 12:46 AM
August 06, 2004
Napoleon Dynamite Tonight

I'm seeing Napoleon Dynamite tonight at 7:50 PM at the Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.

Drinks & coffee afterward...

Anyone else want to show up so I'm not that freaky guy that goes to the movies by himself on Friday night?

Posted by michael at 09:46 AM
August 03, 2004
Two week plan

I dropped Michele and the girls off at the airport this morning at 5AM. They arrived safely this afternoon in Cincinnati for a two week visit.

That means that the house will be empty and I will have no responsibilities outside of work for two weeks. This has happened in the past and I have not taken full advantage of the situation. Typically I would work late, grab some fast food on the way home, fall asleep on the couch around 8PM, wake up around midnight, putter around until 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleep. The next day I would be tired from staying up late, so I would fall asleep on the couch around 8PM, etc., etc.

This time I need to give myself a set of goals and make a plan to keep myself busy.

Here's the rough list of things to do I came up with:


    • Feed fish
    • Eat fruit
    • Check/water plants
    • Dishes/paper/trash

    In the next two weeks

    • Dinner with Mom
    • Remove stump from front yard
    • Put up shelves in the girls room
    • See Zaitoichi, Donnie Darko, Napoleon Dynamite
    • Go shoot my rifle
    • Go see a live band
    • Reprep laptop
    • Plan that blogging thing
    • Sell all that stuff on Ebay
    • Ride my bicycle
    • Try a Mochaberry at Borders
    • Do the hot sauce experiment

What else should I plan to do? Anyone else want to do these things?

Posted by michael at 05:29 PM
August 02, 2004
Doom 3 Torrents

There is no excuse for this.

id Software has been a great company, making great games and consistently releasing source code of their games once they are a few years old.

To see this many people stealing their software is wrong.

Do you really think the 50,000 people you see here are still going to go out and buy the game?

Posted by michael at 08:47 PM