Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Time (2011)

I wanted to see "Puss N Boots" and JJ wanted to see "In Time".   I was tired after my ride up Mt Baldy this morning so going to a movie theater with 40 kids under 8 years old wasn't too appealing so I agreed to see the Justin Timberlake retro-futuristic movie.  In "In Time", time is both a commodity and a currency.  The premise is interesting enough where people had a fixed time to live after 25 years, unless of course you can afford to "buy" more time.  The movie was shot in LA, including Boyle Heights and the LA river with downtown LA as a backdrop and yet, they made you think it was somewhere in the east coast.  "In Time" is predictable at best but quite enjoyable.  I particularly enjoy the cars in the movie, mostly early to mid 60s Lincoln Continentals.  Yes, every citizen who can afford a car rode in a black LC.  It would really suck, suck big time if everyone drove a Linkin.  And if they did, I would ditch mine in a heartbeat.  Like most sci-fi movies, I basically have to abandon all logic and intuition.  My son, Sam actually had the most interesting observation.  How come no one can hack into this central computer where time is controlled?   I will probably end up getting "In Time" in DVD just because it's one of those movies I can watch over and over like those other bad sci-fi movies I like (Time Cop, Total Recall, Gattaca).

Centurion Lugged Frame

Nothing relaxes me more than spending Saturday morning taking a bike apart and cleaning out everything down to the frame and fork.  Having gotten up later than I would have liked, I skipped riding yesterday altogether and instead cleaned out the Centurion frame to get ready for my rat rod bike build.  This Japanese lugged frame from the 70s (including bottom bracket and headset) weighed in at 8.8 lbs -- which is really heavy compared to carbon or aluminum frames today.  However, the lug-work is exquisite to the point, I think, where it's definitely a work of art.  They don't make detailed design like this anymore.  This is the first time I've overhauled a bike in over a decade and I realized how much I miss the spending the time just alone to my thoughts.  A little different than alone thought while riding, which is a little less relaxing since I have to watch out for cars and other road hazards.  I will not repaint this frame but maybe put a clear coat on it to prevent further rust.  I knew the bike had good bones the minute I saw the Craigslist pic.  I do think that bike manufacturers will someday sell new bikes with this worn, distressed look, just like Fender and other guitar manufacturers sell "new" vintage stuff.

I will keep the original bottom bracket and headset.  I truly believe that these bearings have already settled into their housings and even though it's tempting to replace them, it really is better.  The ball bearings were perfect when I unpacked them with nice, thick grease that took a half hour to fully clean out.

The welded rear derailleur hanger is rare for a bike from the 70s.  Most mid-level bikes back then used clamp-ons which was not as mechanically rigid as these.  I do need to get some chrome polish to spot clean some rust spots.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vivan Los Muertos (Pacific Standard Time #5)

So I dragged the kids out of Rancho Cucamonga again and headed to the Autry after eating lunch in Arcadia.  There is a Day Of The Dead Celebration going on from 3pm to 9pm today and here are some of the images I captured on my camera.  Also, I decided to join the Autry as a museum member since I can get my money's worth in just a couple visits.  Besides, they gave me a cool Mariachi book to go with the membership.  Of course, while we were there I saw the Autry installment of Pacific Standard Time called "Art Along The Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation".

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rancho Cucamonga DMV Statistics (10/28/11)

I went to pick up my personalized plates today and as soon I sat down, I decided the DMV wait is not going to fuck up my day so I collected data as I waited for my number to get called.  I wrote down the ticket number and window number as they were called out.  And I proceeded to do statistics analysis on the data I was collecting.  Before I knew it, my 1 hour and 17 minute wait was over and I got my JEDIISM plate.  I should probably send my data snapshot to the Rancho Cucamonga DMV office so they can see how they are serving the public, which employees are efficient (and which are slackers).  I understand there is variability in the type of service performed in each transaction but that is what statistical analysis is for -- to get an overall feel for how a sample set represents some general aspect of anything.  Not all the windows were open (probably blaming state budget cuts) and only 15 windows called out numbers.

Service WindowTotal CustomersAvg Time Per Customer
151One Sample

Total Customers = 84
Total Time Observed = 1 hr 12 min
Average Time Per Customer = 10 min
Most Customers Served = Window 8 (11 customers)
Faster Service Time = Window 14 (4 min per customer)
Least Customers Served  = Window 15 (1 customer)
Slowest Service Time = Window 2 (19 min per customer)

I think for the most part, DMV employees are hardworking.  I mean, I'd hate to be doing this for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but just like with any other place of employment, there are slackers.  If Window 8 can handle 11 customers in the sample time, why is Window 6 only servicing less than half that at a rate of at least twice as slow.  If I were to slash more jobs, I would use these numbers to justify my cuts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Centurion Project

Yet another project, right?  Right.  I could not resist this 70s Centurion Super Lemans from this woman selling it on Craigslist.  I found 30 minutes this morning to check out the bike in Azusa, only about 2 miles from work.  Most surprising is the ride response given the big 27-inch wheels and laid-back 70s geometry.  I want to build a rat rod road bike.  Basically, a fairly modern bike in terms of drivetrain and brakes on a worn vintage frame/fork.  It will be a challenge getting replacement parts since not only is the bike old, it's also a Japanese frame and components.  As soon as I got home, I did the mandatory weigh in.  After dinner, in the as-is configuration, it read 28.2 lbs on the scale.  (My new carbon fiber Trek is less than 18 lbs so I know I will feel that extra 10 going up the hill on Day Creek Blvd.)  Thankfully, I still have Maura's old racing sewups and putting those on dropped the weight to 24.2 lbs.  Yup, a 4-lb savings just replacing those old ugly wheels with a lightweight racing set.  I did lose another 0.4 lbs cutting the seat tube 3 inches shorter (with plenty or margin), removing the chain ring guard and top brake lever attachments.  I did order a mustache handlebar tonight along with a lighter chain.  This rat rod project should keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alternative Food Shopping

Alternatives to the big three grocery chains, that is.  Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons.  At one point, I didn't care about how much they were overcharging me.  Ralphs is a mile down the hill and Vons is about 2.5 miles to the east but in the same plaza as a Subway and Del Taco. Convenience has a price, right? But when I spent something on the order of $48 on a simple Friday night emergency trip at Ralphs a couple months ago, I said "Enough".  I will (and I did) find a way to go elsewhere but these overpriced ripoff joints.  So I don't mind driving the extra mile or two to go the Fresh N Easy for basic supplies like OJ or pasta or even some meats.  Once I got over the fact that I had to scan and bag my own grocery -- it was a simple choice.  The other thing that pissed me off about Vons and Ralphs is the self-checkout never works as efficiently as Fresh N Easy.  For produce, I hit the Sprouts Market on Day Creek Blvd and Baseline Road.  (It somewhat reminds me of a poor-man's Whole Foods, which I absolutely adored in Pasadena but no chance of getting one anytime soon in Rancho C.)  And to complete my three-legged food source, I hit the Trader Joe's on Haven, just north of the 210 freeway.  I've always gone there for nuts, wine, salads and some meats and some prepackaged Indian food which my kids eat as meals.  I probably don't save a whole lot of money but I think it's the principle of not going to these corporate grocery giants, Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons that drives me.  (Hey, if Netflix subscribers can make a corporate giant look like an idiot for overcharging, I might as well start my own protest.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gaps In Our Knowledge

I was working with Sam the other night to prepare for his science test (8th grade) that covered atomic structure and basic elements.  While the concept of protons, electrons and neutrons was relatively easy to explain, the question as to by multiple protons did not repel each other, thankfully did not come up.  After all, this is 8th grade science.  But later on, I did find it curious how there was a half-page section at the end of the chapter to cover the four fundamental forces of nature.  Although he was not required to learn about the strong and weak forces, I had to explain to him how it worked.  And this is when I found myself trying to find non-mathematical constructs that I can state to a 13-year old in terms he could relate to.  After a while, I just could not find a simple explanation other than how I've really felt about the strong and weak forces.  Gravity and electromagnetism is intuitive and macro but those are other two, I said, were more mathematical abstractions to fill in the gap in man's knowledge of the physical universe.  Somewhat, faith-based, not in a traditional religious sence.  But in this case, physicists' faith that the language of mathematics can provide some kind of rationalization of why things are the way they are.  It's messy and non-elegant and it makes a lot of people, including myself, uneasy.  The theory that unifies the four forces of nature had eluded physicists for a while now and I'm not sure I'll see it explained in my lifetime.  But that's the beauty of science, I went on to explain.  If some smart guy (or gal) comes up with a better explanation of why protons don't repel each other within the nucleus of an atom, the scientific community will gladly throw away old theories and re-write textbooks.  If there was anything Sam learned in that chapter, I hope it was mainly from our little side discussion of the scientific process.

Craigslist Junkie

I need help.  At any one point in time, whenever I have access to the web, I could be surfing the Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara or Ventura CL for the following.  I scour before I go to bed.  I scour when during my lunch break. I cannot stop.

vintage bike
road bike
De Rosa
Windsor chair
drop-leaf table
Lincoln Continental
suicide doors
beach cruiser
Rogersound Labs
vintage receiver

It's all about bikes, vintage furnitures, music, guitars or vintage electronics.

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Some notes I wrote on my Moleskine book while eating lunch at the Claim Jumper last Sunday. There is no such thing as a free lunch.  A year ago when he was still going to Golden Elementary, JJ got a Claim Jumper gift certificate for a free item on the kid's menu as part of some student award.  I know for a fact I had not been to a Claim Jumper restaurant since 2007 -- and really had no desire to go.  Super-size meals of at least 2500 calories ain't just my thang.  But that gift certificate had been sitting there and I thought JJ would enjoy getting a free meal for some of his academic effort.  So off we went to the CJ in Fontana, just on the other side of I-15 off Foothill Blvd.  My first clue should have been the fact that Claim Jumper AND WalMart share the same parking lot.
1) Tattooed dude at the salad bar putting together a 6-inch heap of vegetables and dressing
2) A 350 lb guy wearing tank tops at the salad bar
3) Tall guy in a suit with a lady in a nice dress.  Either they just got out of church or are real estate agents
4) Guy in orange shirt wearing what looks like size 30-inch waist pants but has a 50-inch beer belly.  How on earth does he do that?
5) Why are we eating here?  I could be enjoying a wild mushroom pizza at CPK.
6) Man in party of ten has what looks like an 8-in hole on shirt sleeve around his right armpit
7) Why on earth do they put mayo on the lettuce in my sandwich which is filled with a cashew chicken salad that is mostly mayo to begin with?
8) Ever heard of People of WalMart?  Well, I think there's a sister web site called CJ Clientele.
9) Do these people go to WalMart before or after they hit the Claim Jumper?
10) Why are we here?
11) Waitress seemed surprised we didn't order a 1200-calories dessert after eating our lunch
12) JJ's lunch may be free but I'm paying for it when I lost my appetite watching gluttons consume thousands and thousands of calories.  I didn't finish my cashew chicken sandwich.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Leave You Name Here (2011)

The House That Sam Built (Pacific Standard Time #4)

It was the only logical thing to do.  We met my brother's family in Arcadia for dimsum this morning and the Huntington Library was only a few miles away in San Marino.  They had an exhibit of some of the phenomenal works of art by probably Rancho Cucamonga's most famous artist, Sam Maloof.  Sam understands what clean design lines are all about.  I actually learned about him when I saw a local paper mention his death in 2009 at the age of 93!  (I've always argued that art makes you live a longer, fulfilling life.)  The Boone Gallery inside the Huntington is small but was filled with masterpieces by the master craftsman, along with several paintings of local artists like abstract painter Karl Benjamin.  The coolest part of this Pacific Standard Time exhibit is I got to sit on an actual Maloof chair and after talking to the docent, I realized that I had sat on probably the most expensive piece of furniture (about $25,000) I will ever set my butt on.  The maple chair was as ergonomic a wooden chair I've ever sat on.  Which brings me to my point that design is not all about the visual but also about fit and function.  A great artist like Sam understood that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sexual Harassment

It's a tangled mess that is the biggest pain in the ass to navigate through.  Sexual harassment in the workplace that is.  So companies in California require their managers via state law to meet mandatory sexual harassment training.  It's the biggest waste of my time -- even though I got paid for the training because most of it is unnecessary if people just follow simple rules of conduct like respect and understanding that no means no.  I spent 3 hours today going through several modules of this online training learning about Title VII, protected groups, compliance, blah blah blah. What's worse is I was told you can take the test and if you pass, you are still required to sit through a minimum of 2 hours listening to the course.  And that is where these people lost me.  Corporate lawyers and HR specialists are just basically covering their rear ends in the event that a lawsuit is brought by the feds against the company.  All it is -- is to reduce any potential punitive damages in any litigation.  And that's where it changes from the goal of making sure everyone's aware to making sure the company does not lose too much money in any lawsuit.

(Good thing I had my sketchbook as the training is mostly audio so I was able to doodle away while getting my course credits.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kill Helvetica!

This is my personal crusade to rid the world of Helvetica.  The design Nazis tell us everything should be in Helvetica from freeway signs to every consumer product imaginable.  Sign at liquor store in Azusa on Route 66.  Not Helvetica.

Friday, October 14, 2011

CMP at UCR (Pacific Standard Time #3)

Today was my day off so what better way to spend it than look at some antiques at Mission Galleria and visit my favorite museum in the IE, the California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside.  They had several of the classics (Adams, Weston) in the same gallery along with works with Baltz, Deal and the other Adams (Robert).  This installation is part of the Pacific Standard Time collaboration. On the third floor is a separate show titled "Aftershocks" that include some more works from Deal and my favorites, Laurie Brown and John Divola.  Even though it's a good 50 miles from LA, I've always felt CMP is up there in terms of cutting edge photographic works displayed over the years.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Family That Draws Together

I can only wish I can continue to draw the way kids draw.  They seem to be so simple yet funny.  I found these two Post-It notes in the loft. I don't know which kid did this but I love it the characters.  I call the top one Gumball Mac and the bottom Radiohead.
I think this is a representation of the video game influence on my kids' art.  I found this drawing depicting an apparent battle between two creatures, somewhat inspired by the video game BioShock.  Those are drills meant to terminate anything that moves.
And then there's me.  Lately, I'm obsessed with gas masks and goggles and steampunk.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gangsta Music

I downloaded Johnny Cash's "Man Comes Around" album from Amazon on Monday and by today, I'm convinced that the Man in Black was one of the greatest voices in all of recorded musical history and that one of my regrets in life is not going to see him in concert before he died in 2003.  I got the entire album because of several remakes that I like including Desperado (Eagles), In My Life (Beatles) and Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode).  That's right a man who became famous for country music doing Depeche Mode, for crying out loud and his rendition is absolutely stunning!  While I've known about his older classics for a while, I didn't really become a fan until the release of American Recordings in 1994.  But the more I think of it, Johnny Cash is really gangsta music.  Every other song has someone getting shot or killed including this one song when he sings about borrowing his brother's rifle and shooting a plains rider just for the hell of it.  He also once sang about shooting a man in Reno in Folsom Prison Blues or shooting a woman, Delia who he would have had for his wife if he didn't kill her.  The violence is definitely there.  However, the repentance is there as well as he sings an awful lot about meeting his creator, judgment day and in more than several occassions, having personal conversations with his god.  So it's part gangsta, part gospel music.  Which is why I think Johnny Cash defies classification.  Which is why I think my 11-year old son listens to him.  His voice is like no other and I know his songs will be with us for generations to come.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Now That's What That Airstream Trailer Is For!

When the kids and I visited LACMA in August to see Tim Burton, I saw this Airstream trailer inside the Resnick Pavilion for an upcoming show.  When I saw Tim Burton in June, this gallery was filled with David Smith's sculpture and was surprised to see it empty because I really wanted to see his works again.  Instead, I was greeted by this empty main area of the newest of the LACMA buildings.  I did find this weekend, from some San Bernardino newspaper of all places, about the California design exhibit at LACMA that started on October 1st and right there on the front page of the section was this same Airstream trailer I saw two months ago.  I will return to LACMA soon as I committed to seeing as much of Pacific Standard Time as possible and the Resnick Pavilion is definitely on my list.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Desert Island DVDs (Version 2011)

There had been a slow accumulation of DVDs in my bedroom and decided it was time to sort through the pile and pick my 20 movies.  20 movies that I can take to a desert island and watch over and over.  Over the years, the list changed as new movies replace tired ones.  Two Pixars, two Sean Connery's, two Jet Li's and two Fast & Furious movies make up 40% of my top 20.  I'm sure this list will change as early as next year.  For now, here's the twenty in no particular order.
1) Princess Bride - Inconceivable I've seen this at least once a year for that past 15 years.
2) Fist of Legend - The gold standard of martial arts flicks; a remake of the Bruce Lee classic
3) Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Is it Thanksgiving yet?
4) Up - Broke the top 20 as soon as I saw it the first time
5) Collateral - I had to pick a Michael Mann so it was between this and Heat.  Tom Cruise might bump this one off the list.  Jamie Foxx helps.
6) Fast And The Furious - Tokyo - I wonder if you know, how they live in Tokyo
7) Fast Five - Love the cast, love the cars, who care about the plot
8) Thomas Crown Affair - What would you do for art?
9) G.I. Jane - The only Demi Moore movie I can watch more than once; a Ridley Scott classic
10) Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Inspiration to take the day off from work, any day
11) Pee Wee's Big Adventure - Tim Burton's best work and it's about a bike
12) Wall-E - First 15 minutes is the best 15 minutes of any animated movie.  Spork.
13) Singles - Best Matt Dillon acting; it's all about the music
14) Finding Forrester - Hoops and literature and friendship; my fav Sean Connery movie
15) Blade Runner - I need a dark movie for my list so it had to be this one
16) The Matrix - either this Keanu or the Point Break Keanu.  This one always gives me plenty to think about.
17) Idiocracy - The best comedy in the last 10 years.  Smart, relatively speaking.
18) Contact - I always wonder if someday this movie will be classified as pseudo-fiction
19) Romeo Must Die - Hip hop meets kung fu; Jet Li, the late Aaliyah, DMX
20) Goldfinger - If I will see only one spy movie again, this is it.  Love the 60s cars in this flick.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My NPR, My Radio

I cannot even remember the number of books, CDs, movies, art, etc that had discovered over the years listening to National Public Radio.  I know that NPR is constantly under assault from the right wing in this country but given the fact that it had always been for as long as I can remember, I actually think there's a good chance for long term survival of NPR.  In particular, my public radio station,  KPCC (89.3) will always be around.  So I got some B&N gift cards on my birthday and went out to get some books when I did remember another interview driving home a couple weeks ago.  A certain Simon Garfield and his book on type.  So this week, this is what I'm reading based on an (indirect) NPR recommendation.  Of course, my kids listen to NPR as well when they're in the car with me.  In fact, Sam downloaded several This American Life podcasts into his iPod a couple weeks ago.  I believe the continuity with NPR will always be there as long as there are people in this country who are open to learning something new each day.

Either You Are A Rebel Or A Slave

"Occupy Los Angeles" flyer on post at intersection of E. 1st Street and Central Ave.  Just wondering how much the Occupy Wall Street movement will catch on this fall with the rest of the country.  The message is right on and the method of peaceful protest is probably more effective than anything else.  Problem is the financial institutions have politicians from both sides of the aisle on their payroll.  A populist movement eventually needs to align itself with either party in order to gain any ground with the nationwide electorate.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MOCA Geffen Contemporary (Pacific Standard Time #2)

We had lunch with my brother's family and my parents at President Thai in Pasadena to celebrate my birthday.  So it's a no-brainer to take the extra 20 minute drive to Little Tokyo to go the MOCA Geffen Contemporary to see my 2nd Pacific Standard Time exhibit this week.  Not sure how the kids will take some modern California art (through 1981) but I was surprised how engaged they were viewing some of the more obscure pieces.  (My bribe was to take them through the shops in Little Tokyo to browse afterwards.)  I actually had a chance to go to the opening night of "Under The Big Black Sun" last Friday but ended up having a party at home instead to toast the completion of our project at home.  Anyway, the last time I took the kids to a museum was in August to see Tim Burton and that did not disappoint them at all.  My hope is through osmosis, my kids will get to appreciate this kind of art a little more each year as they grow older.  The pieces at the Geffen did not disappoint.  Several pieces by my favorite Los Angeles artist, Ed Ruscha were shown along with some Raymond Pettibon punk rock and poster art from the Black Flag years.  In fact, I was surprised to see several Black Flag vinyl LPs at the museum store.  I only had an hour to walk through all the galleries as my kids were starting to get restless looking at "these weird" art.  So, needless to say, I will return to the Geffen (without kids) to really take the time to visually absorb each piece.  Another beautiful day in the City of Angels.

Monster Children Magazine

I just can't believe I haven't heard of Monster Children before last night.  This is a wonderful magazine that I feel was published just for me.  It's got -- photography, design, skateboarding, bikes, art, interviews and most importantly, minimal ads.  On the cover of Issue #32 is Margaret Kilgallen, an artist from San Francisco.  The other thing I really like is the landscape format of this publication.  I just don't understand where it says the printed media should be in portrait format -- when square, 16x9 or plain old landscape are more suited for how we view information these days, via computer screen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vaya Con Dios, Steve

Your vision affected the way we all live our everyday lives (though not always for the better).  I'm not really fanatical about Apple products but I've always admired the way you dealt with living your life in the face of adversity.  Vaya con dios, Steve.
(Say hi to The Goose for me.)

The Getty Center (Pacific Standard Time #1)

I made the decision today while sitting in some boring meeting at work.  What if I make it a goal to see every exhibit. I don't know exactly how many of the participating museums I will get to visit but so far I did my first (of hopefully at least 20) visit at a Southern California cultural institution to see Pacific Standard Time.  Yesterday is #1, a visit to the Getty Center on a perfect October day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sky Light (2011)

Photograph taken today, October 4, 2011 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.


And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on

(Photograph by R.L. taken on October 4, 2011 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles; words by U2.  I spent part of my birthday with my camera and going to the Getty to look at some of the exhibits for Pacific Standard Time, a collaboration of about 60 cultural institution in Southern California.  Today was a perfect fall day, as seen in the picture I took with Palos Verdes in the distant horizon.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boo! (2011)

Boo! (2011) - Photograph of painted ceramic skull using Through-the-Viewfinder (TtV) technique.  A visit to Olvera Street is in order to get some more Dia De Los Muertos stuff.  I have not used my TtV contraption in a couple years but I do like the square aspect ratio of the images and the framed effect.  This ain't no stinkin' iPhone retro shot.

"Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb" (2011)

Photograph of Soviet era gas mask with canister.  I purchased the set from an antique dealer during a visit to Las Vegas in August.  Cold War, Nevada nuclear testing and gas masks all seem to share a common thread of the not too distant past.  To quote the title of film Dr. Strangelove, "Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb".