Saturday, November 19, 2005

How Wheels in Action!

I loved Hot Wheels as a kid. Still do. Even collected them for a while before I got tired of dealing with grown men running over children on their way to the toy dapartment at Target, just so they could get the newest cars. Total jerks, all of you.

Now that Anthony's almost two, it became a recent quest of mine to find him some track--Lord knows I have plenty of cars, cars that he will play with and not let sit in a closet for decades. The stuff's hard to come by, and I don't have any of mine left. Fortunately, the week I began looking K-Mart released a retro version of Hot Wheels track. I bought two packs.

And so we began playing. Imagine that, collectors--PLAYING with Hot Wheels! At any rate, as a child I often wondered what it would be like to freeze that one moment when my car jumped off the ramp, collided with another, etc.

So I took some digital shots of some of the cars in action. Here's the best I could do, all cropped to the subject:

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Okay, so the last three aren't Hot Wheels. It's one of those wind-up cars you have to wind by rolling it backwards about four times. It came with a cheap track set we got the kid today, and it was hard taking those shots of it. Damn thing is quick!

Oh, and some are Matchbox cars, too. And yes, my carpet is that ugly.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Good Karma, Part 2

While I'm here...

Remember the post from a few days ago? Well, it's still reaping rewards.

Tonight there was a message on the answering machine from a company that saw my resume on Turns out they are looking for an entry-level Technical Writer, and want to get in touch with me.

My resume is going to be faxed tomorrow. Updates to be posted later!

Jenny Craig: What A Rip-Off

Ann’s wants to lose weight, so we went to Jenny Craig tonight to see what they had to offer.

Wow, what a crock of shit that was. Close to $100 a week for food, per person. That would come to about $800 a month for food for the two of us. That’s almost a mortgage payment, or even two car payments. All they preach is eating healthy and portion control, something that you can do yourself if you are really committed to doing it. When I lost 90 pounds in high school all I did was portion control and lots of exercise. Oh, and I ate what I wanted and didn’t stick to some silly schedule.

After taking our weight, the counselor sat with us and went over the plan. Based on the information we gave her she determined a target weight range. Mine came up between 130 and 167.

I’ve got a large-frame body, and dropping down to 130 pounds seems really unhealthy to me at this age. Even when I did lose all that weight in high school, I was still in the 170-pound range and looked thin because of my body type. I’m overweight, sure. But I’m not morbidly obese like those blobs with cottage cheese arms you see on their commercials. I think if I ever reached that point, I’d opt for the gastric surgery.

The survey was full of loaded questions—the multi-choice answers on some of them made you out to be some sort of weakling with little or no self-control. In fact, I wrote-in my own answers on a few. Then there was the counseling session. I was getting so freaking annoyed during it that I just grabbed Anthony and left. The woman was talking and talking out of her ass at one point, and it was nothing I didn’t already know.

Basically, it’s like Weight Watchers but with their own food—expensive food. And I just don’t have that much time to drive to the place for counseling, food, etc. Does that mean I’m not committed? No, that means I’m not willing to spend $800 a month for food I can just as easily buy at Ralphs.

But I did take home some insight as to how the program works: start at 2,000 calories a day, and once you reach the halfway point, reduce it to 1,600 until you reach your goal. That’s it.

We can do this, and it ain’t gonna involve Jenny Craig.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Good Karma

I failed to mention this, but the last few weeks have been interesting. No, this year has been interesting.

First off, I was re-acquainted with some old friends--one was my former supervisor at Target I hadn’t seen in at least 10 years. Then we go to the Lexus event at Dodger Stadium last weekend.

Previous to that, which I failed to mention, I played the part of Good Samaritan to a fellow motorist. Last Monday I pulled into the Valero station parking lot for my daily 64oz. refill of Diet Pepsi in my tankard. It was there where I saw a young woman, probably in her mid-20s, who looked rather frantic. All the doors of her black Jetta were swung open, as was the trunk. It was problem for me as her open doors were blocking the only parking space available. Shit, I thought. I’ll just part right here in front. I’ll only be a second.

So I parked, got my refill, and started to head to work—the Valero is only about two minutes from work. As I was leaving, the Jetta girl still looked confused. Knowing I was early, I did my duty and asked it she needed help.

Her whole problem was that she couldn’t quite figure out the jack. Ever see a VW/Audi jack? Instead of the two-sided scissor-type of lift, it only has one v-shaped lift. Strange.

At any rate, once the car was in the air, it all went smoothly. Hardly even got dirty. We exchanged casual conversation as I changed the tire.

“You know, I’m not the most religious guy in the world,” I said, “but I believe in being rewarded for doing a good deed for those who need it.” She agreed. Once the tire was on, I wished her well and told her not to drive too fast.

A few nights before that, I went searching for some old friends. I found a few, one of whom I thought was someone I hadn’t spoken to or seen since before high school. So I e-mailed her, hoping it was.

The night of the flat-tire incident, I got confirmation. It was indeed Mary, an old friend from my two years in Catholic school. We’ve been chatting off and on ever since.

Now here’s the kicker. Today at work, I was notified that I was no longer the writer/editor/proofreader. I was being promoted to the position of Senior Copy Editor, a promotion that came with a $1/hr. increase, or about $2,000 per year.

Good karma. You ought to try it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Taste of Lexus Event

The folks at Lexus know how to please.

I was invited to attend their Taste of Lexus: Performance Edition, an event which took place yesterday at Dodger Stadium. The event was a pressure-free way (read: no salesmen) to test-drive the entire line of Lexus vehicles, including the new LX400h hybrid, and the IS250 and IS350, as well as their European and American counterparts.

The media presentation took place deep in the bowels of Dodger Stadium near the Stadium Club. I'd never been there, so I took lots of pictures of just about everything I saw in the stadium. Thing is, I wasn't the only one!

I saw the Dodgers' and visiting team clubhouses. I saw where Vin Scully works. I sat in a bullpen golf cart. I took a whiz in a urinal, not the traditional stadium trough. I even saw Dodger scout Mike Brito, best known for spending his time behind the plate with his speed gun, Panama hat, and cigar. Damn, I should have gotten a picture with him.

But you can enjoy I did take by viewing them publicly at my Yahoo! Photos page.

First things first, we the folks at Lexus arranged private transportation to and from the stadium for us. We were greeted at the event with smiles and handshakes, and led down to the Stadium Club. I had no idea the stadium went down so low.

Media members were given a gift bag of stuff after the presentation which included--are you ready?--a Suunto N6HR watch, Kosta Boda Car-Toons glassware, multimedia CDs, and literature. The "plain folk" gifts--public was allowed via inviation only--consisted of a restaurant guide in a leatherbound case, and two Paul McCartney CDs. We took some of those, too (see album for pics of what we took home) as well as Lexus mints in cool little tins.

Food was everywhere. There was a salon where Ann and I got some sort of hand treatment--and it was amazingly relaxing. And oh, we drove some cars, too.

The IS250 looks fierce, but is a bit lackluster. I should have opted for the IS350 but the line was too long. The LX400h hybrid, however, was incredibly quick and responsive. Ann got to drive the SC430, which she enjoyed.

All in all, an amazing day at the old ballpark, even if Vin Scully wasn't there.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

RIP LX 1991-2005

I just got a call from my mom about her beloved LX (pronounced "Alex"). At the age of 14, LX had to be put to sleep due to heart complications. None of his medication was working so there wasn't much choice left but to put him down.

Here he is in a digital photo from 2001, doing what he loved to do best: play with a tennis ball.

About his name: he came home in a Ford Escort LX model, and the name "Alex" seemed to fit his personality perfectly. We just mixed it up a little.

LX, you'll be missed by many, especially Mom. I hope they have plenty of tennis balls where you're at now. I miss you already.

His ashes will be scattered in the backyard he loved to frolic in.

Rest in peace, little guy.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Here's Anthony in his Tigger costume. We had a ball!