Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hail to the Queens

Today I witnessed an event that may never happen again. The Queen Mary 2, currently the world's largest luxury ocean liner, met her namesake, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.

I chose to play hooky from work so that we could make it a family event. Since we have our annual passes, we decided to kill some time at the Aquarium of the Pacific before the historic event. It turned out to be a pretty good plan: the aquarium was empty at 9am, and we ended up getting a great, albeit distant, view of the two ladies meeting. And of course, I took some pictures.

I had expected the QM2 to get a little closer to the QM than she did, but I'll take what I can get. The photo below gives you a good idea of where we were:

Free Image Hosting at

For that reason, I had to rely on the digital zoom on my camera. This may explain why some of the photos are a bit fuzzy. Here are some more:

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at

The QM2 was lead by a LAFD fireboat firing water from all cannons, which is always a sight to see. There also were blimps, helicopters, skydivers, skywriters with messages of "Hail the Queens" and "Welcome Queen Mary 2," and boats--lots of boats. I don't think I had ever seen so many helicopters over my head since they sprayed malathion to rid us of the overhyped Mediterranean fruit fly invasion back in the 90s.

The highlight of the day was when the ladies saluted each other with blasts from their horns. The QM2 went first, which was loud but muffled. The crowd cheered.

Then the QM blew her horn, and the locals went absolutely nuts. I'm not saying it was loud, but you could practically feel the bass hitting your chest. She's indeed a grand old ship, and when the wind blows just right, we can hear the horn blast at home (we're about 7 miles away). It's something you grow to love if you live in Long Beach.

I'm also trying something different: panoramic shots. They were the only way to crop to the subjects:

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at

And finally, here they are in the same shot:

Free Image Hosting at

You won't likely ever see this again.

Oh, and just as we arrived, there was a camera crew from Paramount Studios loading up some equipment after what appeared to be the end of a day of shooting. It was obvious some filming was going on beforehand, but who knows what for. I guess I'll find out eventually!

Monday, February 06, 2006

"You Have Problems..."

Don't we all? Well, my problems were evident to a strange woman whom I found trespassing on my property this morning.

I had just finished my breakfast and was packing up my lunchbox when I heard a noise right outside the kitchen. It was a pretty loud thud.

I glanced out the kitchen window to see a woman walking down my driveway. She had just deposited something in my trashcan which was uncharacteristically in plain view, and that thud was the sound of the lid slamming shut. I usually place the trashcan behind a makeshift dustbin in front of the house, but because Ann and I were collecting trash last night, I left it in the driveway.

After thinking about it for a moment, I soon realized this was the same lady that I saw dump a pile of her dog's shit in my neighbor's trashcan one day when it was in plain view. She wasn't going to get away with it with me.

So I began to call the lady back from inside kitchen but she couldn't hear me. I then exited the kitchen, went to the trashcan, and found a little yellow plastic bag with the dogshit inside. I carefully grabbed it.

"Excuse me," I told the lady, arm outstretched with the dogshit bag dangling from the tips of my fingers. "You forgot something." She looked absolutely shocked.

"I just saw you put this in my trashcan. Go put it in yours, please." Her mouth was agape.

"Would you rather have me leave it on your yard?" she said.

"I'd rather have you put it in your own trashcan and to stay off my property," I replied. She still looked shocked, so she had this next line coming.

"Look, lady. I've already seen you put your dog's shit in my neighbor's trashcan. Now take this and go put it in yours." Dead silence for a moment. Then she came back with a real crusher.

As she took the bag from me and headed down the sidewalk to attend to a dog that was smaller than half of my cat, she managed to utter the following:

"You have problems." I laughed and walked back into the house.

Yeah, lady. I have problems. No, I really do. And at the moment, they were:

- A stranger on my property, aka a trespasser
- Said trespasser putting their dogshit in my trashcan on my property

While I do give her credit for picking up the steaming pile, the point was that whether she did or didn't, he dogshit would still be on my property--either on the yard or in my trash--and that she willingly entered my property to dispose of it. I'm not cool with that. If I really had "problems" as she said, I could have come out screaming and weilding a Wiffle bat or something.

There's a good chance that this woman is one of those who puts her dog--it's probably got some stupid name like Poopsie--high on a pedestal, feeds it lean ground beef from a silver fork, and lets it do wherever the hell it pleases. And that's fine if you're into that.

But I'm wondering how she would like it if I went over to her house and made a deposit of fresh, steaming catshit nuggets in her trashcan. Somehow I doubt it.

Ann already told me how she plans to remedy this problem. She's going to set the sprinklers to go on at the time she walks her 3-pound hound by our place. And our sprinklers do tend to overshoot the yard sometimes.

Changing's some phone-cam shots of the aftereffects of the Anaheim Hiils wildfires. It's not too far from work:

This was the sun rising this morning:

Ugly stuff, folks. Ashes everywhere.