April 30, 2006

Nacho Libre

If you like video podcasts you should check out Jack Black's Nacho Libre video podcast. Apparently this podcast is a collection of "confessionals" while he is filming his latest movie. It is pretty inciteful and hilarious at the same time.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:34 PM | Comments (274)

El Rincon

We were running errands today and stopped by El Rincon for tortas. I had a beef torta while Timber had a carnitas torta. So if you like good tortas you should check it out. Thanks to Keala for introducing me to this place after a round of golf a few years ago.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:03 AM | Comments (68)

April 27, 2006

Earth Day Progress Year 3

Happy belated Earth Day everyone. Even though I'm generally Republican in my views I still strive to become more environmentally friendly each year. Change does not have to be drastic and come overnight, it can be like the rising and falling of the tide. Witness the changes that I have made for the better in the past 2 years. See my Earth Day post from 2 years ago for the mission.
*recycle everything that I possibly can -> Ongoing and I generally do a pretty good job about this.
*shave in the shower or turn the faucet off when I shave -> Ongoing, but it is now a habit.
*drive less -> Ongoing and I drive the Vespa whenever I can instead of my truck.
*read the news electronically instead of getting a subscription -> done and easy to do since the San Jose Mercury News delivery sucks and they don't even bother to fix the problem when you call them to complain.
*turn off the lights when they are not needed -> Ongoing and it is now a habit.
*get a new thermostat -> Done in '06
*put a ceiling fan in the dining room -> Done in '06
*bring my own bags when I go shopping -> sometimes but rarely do this
*take myself off junk mail lists -> done in '05
*ride my bike to work more -> Hard to ride the bike to work when that beautiful Vespa is staring at me.

Posted by troutm8 at 06:32 PM | Comments (69)

April 24, 2006

Carousel, Point Reyes, GG Park, and PPQ

Saturday (4/22) was a pretty busy day. We started it by hitting Southern Kitchen for breakfast, dropping off Wookie at Spots, and then heading north for a day trip around the Bay Area. We started by going to Tilden Park in Berkeley so that mom could check out the Carousel with horses and other animals. The artwork and craftsmanship on the animals was amazing. After that we headed to Point Reyes National Seashore where we checked out McClures Beach. It was a short hike down to the beach littered with wildflowers and beautiful ocean views. After that we headed south to SF along highway 1 (which had huge cracks from all the rain). Once we got to SF we spent some time going through Golden Gate Park (Conservatory of Flowers, Windmill, drive by of the De Young Museum) before going to PPQ for dinner.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:50 PM | Comments (152)

Outlet Shopping With Mom

One of the things my mom wanted to do while she was here (done on 4/21) was to go shopping at the Gilroy Outlets. We certainly did some shopping. Here are the places we hit for historical record:
J. Jill
Country Clutter
Dress Barn
Kitchen Collection
Jones NY Woman
Linens & Things
L&L Hawaiian BBQ
Armadillo Willy's
Fashion Bug
Home Goods
Lane Bryant
If you think that is a lot of places then you are right. I'm sure Bert was happy to miss this part. For dinner we went to Los Gatos and ate at the California Cafe. Overall the food there was pretty good and I would frequent them again.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:59 PM | Comments (84)

April 21, 2006

Mexicali Rose & A's Game

My mom came into town on Wednesday night and we picked her up from the airport and then stopped by the Sonoma Chicken Coop for dinner. On Thursday she and I went up to Oakland for an early lunch at the Mexicali Rose. This restaurant was recommended by a friend of a friend of Timber's, and that friend was right about this place. It has got to be the best Mexican food that I've had in the Bay Area. After lunch we went to the A's/Tigers game and watched the A's give away the game in the 9th inning. But the weather was nice and the game was interesting at the end. Later in the day we hit up the Outlets in Gilroy so mom could do some shopping. All in all it was an eventful day.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:04 AM | Comments (102)

April 16, 2006

Wind-Pine Meadows

We got up early (Timber did so grudgingly) and got onto the empty road by 5 AM yesterday to go snowboarding at Alpine Meadows. Our drive time from door to door was 3 hrs 36 min (not counting our stop for food or to look at property along the way) and we took 101 N to 680 N to 205 E to 5 N to 80 E. We got a great spot in the parking log, took Wookie for a quick walk, and went to the chair lifts to start snowboarding. But the lifts weren't running. :-( As it turned out the high winds kept the big chair lifts from running and some of the small ones were running. We talked to Jan and ended up playing a really fun board game called "The Settlers of Catan" in the lodge with Jan and his friends for about 4 hours (we played two games in that time). It is a fun and interesting game because it requires a combination of luck, strategy, rolling dice, and negotiating with other players to win. After our second game we decided to try the smaller lifts, but just as we were getting to Kangaroo they closed it down. At that point we had no other choice but to leave. Timber and I drove back home while Jan and his friends went to Reno. On the way home we took 80 W to 680 S to 101 S for a drive time of about 4 hrs. The extra time going back was due to the dense fog and snow/rain that we went through which caused us to move slowly coming down from Donner Pass. While we didn't get to do any snowboarding on this trip I wouldn't chalk it up as a loss. We had fun and understand that these things will happen.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:04 AM | Comments (72)

April 14, 2006

Bye Bye Canucks

I watched the Sharks put away the Vancouver Canucks earlier today. It was a nice sight to see. It is all too often that you have a team on the ropes and fail to put the stake through their heart. It was good to see that the Sharks know how to finish, it will come in handy during the playoffs. So we're in the playoffs and we may finish as high as 5th seed. Great work Joe, Cheech, Patty, & Co.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:14 AM | Comments (75)

April 12, 2006

Thoughts On Illegal Immigration

When it comes to illegal immigration and what laws should be passed I have a few thoughts. I also have a lot of questions. First, I think there are a lot of problems with the current system. There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now. That's a huge number. That's like adding up the populations of Austria (8 M) and Norway (4+ M) and sprinkling them into the US illegally. So obviously what we have been trying to do to keep illegal immigrants out up to this point has not been working. So we obviously need to beef up security (more bean bag guns and pepper spray for Jon), but what do we do with people that have already made it through? That's a tough question. I've read articles and seen interviews with illegal immigrants that say they work hard and don't cause trouble and they just want to stay. They also say that everyone in the United States should be treated with dignity and respect. I agree that everyone here should be treated with dignity and respect, but I would add that each person here or trying to come here should abide by the law. That's an important point that they never touch on. I wonder why? Probably because it doesn't suit their purposes. There are a few ways to look at the problem of what to do with the people already here. One is purely economic. How much value do illegal immigrants add to our economy? How much do they cost the economy? What is the net affect of illegal immigrants on our society? I think most of them work hard and try to send money back to their families in their home countries. But I also know that they exact a cost on our infrastructure. An example of this is the San Jose Medical Center. It was closed down in late 2004 primarily because it had to deal with illegal immigrants and people that had no insurance. They were forced by law to treat everyone that walked through the emergency room door and were not recouping their costs. Eventually management decided that they couldn't continue losing money and closed the hospital. As a result of the closure some people have already died because they couldn't get to a hospital in time and because when they try to go to the remaining trauma centers they have to wait longer. Here's an article about it. Rong, please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this. So it is a mixed bag thus far economically speaking. Since most illegals are working under the table and with fake paperwork it would be hard to see what overall economic value they add in the US. On the moral side I have a few questions. Why did they come here illegally instead of following the correct process? Are they planning to stay here forever? Is the US matching their expectations? Why didn't they stay in their home country and try to make that a better place instead of coming to the US illegally? Doesn't the US have the right to regulate immigration? What would happen if we gave blanket amnesty to everyone, would that encourage more people to come here illegally? What do the people that came her legally think about this situation? What would happen if we did a mass deportation of everyone that was here illegally? How badly would the economy suffer? Would the price I pay for strawberries go up? Would there be more U-pick fruit places like in Brentwood? Would organic produce cost even more? Why are politicians afraid to act forcefully on this issue? Are they afraid that the illegals won't vote for them if they pass legislation against illegals? Shouldn't they be more afraid that people like me (oh yeah, I vote every time) would vote them out for not acting strongly enough? Are the Republicans using security and the potential for terrorist attacks as a guise to get rid of illegals without being called racist? How does Mexico and other countries treat illegal immigrants that come into their country? What would they do to me if I marched into one of those countries illegally, took and job, and then marched demanding citizenship? Depending on what country I was in I would either be deported or shot. I think fundamentally we should not reward people who break the law. How severe the punishment should be I don't know. But the list of crimes include at the very least coming here illegally, attaining fake papers to get work, and knowingly hiring illegals. Other crimes could include, driving without a license, driving without insurance, and a host of other illegal activity that they would have to do after they are here. Can't we get their home countries to pay the cost of us sending them back, cost of educating their children, and the cost of healthcare? Probably not. At any rate I'm done ranting for now.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:17 AM | Comments (427)

April 10, 2006

Fun With Lenses

I have to admit that in the 9 months that I've had my Canon 20D I have learned a lot about photography. To give you a little history about my photographic exploits, I have always liked cameras and taking photos. For instance, in 1989 I went to Yellowstone with my family and my mom let me hold the camera while we waited for Old Faithful to erupt. When it erupted I snapped shot after shot until I filled up a good two rolls of film with just some water being spurted out into the air. I was ahead of my time (digital cameras). :-) Fast forward 17 years. I still take lots of photos, but I have learned about aperture, focus, ISO, etc... and I still have a lot to learn. But I have taken the time to learn some of the fundamentals and play with different settings to see what makes up a good photo. Having lots of knowledgable people (Steve, Forrest, Ferdy, Devin, and countless others) around and the internet helped tremendously too. Devin actually let me borrow his Canon EOS 50 mm 1.8 lens to play around with. While it is a pretty inexpensive lens ($60 - $80 new) it is capable of taking some pretty good shots. Timber and I played around with it for about a week taking shots in all sorts of conditions. I may actually pick one up fairly soon, but we have also started looking at other lenses. I'll write more about them some other time. At any rate, the photo included in this post of Dio was taken with the 50 mm 1.8.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:29 PM | Comments (85)

Sudoku Queen And Frittata

Over the weekend I challenged Timber to a timed Sudoku showdown. We worked on the same puzzle right next to each other and the person who finished it first won. She won. She not only won but she killed me. I still had 1/3 of the puzzle left to go when she finished. It just goes to show that practice (she does at least one a day) really helps. On Sunday she made a delicious frittata for breakfast. It was excellent except that it seemed to have a little too much spinach. At least that was according to her.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:59 PM | Comments (78)

April 08, 2006

Little Linebacker

Timber and I took Wookie for a long walk today, and early in the walk, while he was off the leash, he ran into Timber and knocked her down. It was pretty funny to see. This photo shows where Wookie ran into her.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:49 PM | Comments (59)

April 04, 2006

Rain Rain Keep Coming

I'm seeing a lot of coverage on the amount of rain and the number of days of rain we've had in the Bay Area lately. A lot of people are getting tired of it, but I think it is pretty cool. First, this is just like Alaska in the summer, which isn't too bad. Also all the rain in the Bay Area means snow (as long as it doesn't get too warm) in Tahoe, which is great for me to go snowboarding. I saw on Alpine Meadows' website that they plan to close on May 21st. Woohoo! So if you live in the Bay Area keep your rain gear handy and don't let the rain keep you from going out and doing stuff. I know when it does stop raining I will start riding the Vespa again.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:35 PM | Comments (45)

April 03, 2006

Alpine Meadows Weekend

We made a weekend out of Alpine Meadows. Saturday included getting our Spring Season Pass and spending the day enduring the high winds and then going to Reno for the evening. Since we brought Wookie we had to stay in a place that allowed pets. That place ended up being La Quinta in Reno. For $100 a night we got a room with two full sized beds, they allow pets, had a washer and dryer we could use to get our snowboarding clothes dry, and a continental breakfast included. All in all not too bad. Timber's parents ended up joining us in Reno and they brought Dionicio along. Timber's dad checked out some of the casinos and Timber and I went to the Nugget to get the awful awful. It is still just as good as ever, but they increased the priced from $3.25 to $4.50. Not too bad but I just wanted to note that. On Sunday we hit AM again and met up with Jan and his friends. We boarded with them in the afternoon and then drove home. Our route home was 80 West to 680 South with a total driving time of 4.5 hours. That's not a bad driving time considering that it rained the whole way back and we hit large pockets of traffic.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:24 PM | Comments (73)

April 01, 2006

Alpine Meadows $99 Spring Season Pass

About a week ago I had heard about the $99 unlimited spring season pass at Alpine Meadows and was thinking about getting it. I also considered the fact that most resorts will drop their lift ticket prices. After consulting Timber about it we decided to go ahead and get it from AM. Jan also got it and recommended that we buy it online since he wasted a lot of time in line at Alpine Meadows last week. I followed his advice and saw that it definitely saved me at least 30 minutes. When we got to AM today we just went straight to the special ticket and e-ticket window, showed them our confirmation print out, got our photos taken, and got our passes. Total time including waiting in the line was 10 minutes. In that time the other line with people filling out the forms by hand had not moved. Thanks Jan.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:13 PM | Comments (89)