Monday, March 27, 2006

The Weekend

I spent Saturday with these people. Bert, our Senegal parrot, has chosen Doug to be his current best friend. We had a pleasant brunch at the 17th Street Cafe in Santa Monica and did grocery shopping at the Bristol Farms in Westwood and at Famima!! just across the street. On Sunday I hosted the Senshin Bookclub meeting by leading a discussion of Joan Didion's bestseller, "The Year of Magical Thinking," chronicling her observations following the sudden death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. The books we previously discussed were all written from a Buddhist perspective about difficult personal experiences or church doctrine. This time I wanted to go at it from another angle. I wanted the Buddhism to be outside the realm of the author. How does someone with a non-Buddhist background face the death of a spouse? The meeting instead of focusing on points such as style and structure concentrated on the evolution of her thinking from a Jodo Shinshu point of view. In Jodo Shinshu Buddhism there is a term, tariki, meaning "other power," which derives from our acceptance of reality "as it is." Didion's sense that things were still unresolved was one of her concluding remarks. Ironically, that is where many Buddhist books begin. The hardest part of being a host is not leading the discussion (that's just talkin') but making the chinese chicken salad and getting the empanadas and madeleines, setting out the plates, encouraging everyone to eat; now that's reality - as it is.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Resting Space

Now I'm working out the canopy design to Doug's bed. I plan to use a combination of light fabric and netting stretched over
flexible rods similar to the way backpacking tents are designed. I want to create a space that is cozy with the minimum amount of fabric. I also want to have a place where I can hang a small moveable led lantern. What's missing from these sketches is the front view. Designing a resting space whose sole criteria is to maximize the feeling of privacy and spaciousness within a minimum amount of space is turning out to be an interesting architectural problem.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hear the Alarm Clock

Boomers! Redefining Life After Fifty” is an excellent blog for anyone at a crossroad in their career. I mainly read the profiles of people who have changed careers. I don’t think younger people would be interested in topics such as, “The Seductive Allure of Tango,” but knowing how people deal with the risks (and fear) of following their passion is universally relevant. Unlike being in school where the institution moved you along and graduated you a corporation can be like an endless college experience. The circadian alarm clock to dig oneself out of the corporate soil and fly away was never started. Read about those who heard the ring.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Weekend

Ok, the picture inserter is not working again so use your imagination. On Saturday, my socialble cousin, Jayne, organized a luncheon for the rest of us cousins at Ocean Star Restaurant in Monterey Park. There were sixteen cousins, kids, spouses, and friends. Besides the usual fare of char shiu bao, shiu mai and har gow we had delicacies like duck tongue and stewed tripe. I'll let you google the names of those goodies if you care to know. As you may suspect, Cantonese cuisine spans the spectrum of all that is edible. If it sprouted, crawled, ran, waddled, or slithered, it was cooked and eaten. We didn't even scratch the surface of the choices available to us that day.

On Sunday, we spent the entire day in the gym at Cal State Dominguez Hills attending the 55th Anniversary Gardena Judo Dojo Tournament. Doug lost but to just fight opponents in the 195lb senior division (18 and over) takes courage. Good job, Doug.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Chevalier's Bookstore

Chevalier's Bookstore in Larchmont Village is small but offers a great selection of travel (especially LA and Calif) books, fiction, religion, poetry and most of all, children's books. The people working there are readers, very nice and helpful. That's David at the counter. I bought Johnathan Gold's "Counter Intelligence" a guide to out of the way but great restaurants in LA. It's cold and rainy outside, a perfect day to read a book.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Ring

The Currently Invisible Ring

I had a ring made from a silver coin my grandmother was given to pay off a debt when she owned a restaurant, Fukuya, in J-town during the fifties and sixties. The computer won't let go of the image right now so I will post it later today. I had Muriel Chastanet make it for me. When I got it my first reaction was, "Hmm, I'm not too crazy about this." But as I wore it, I liked it more and more. It fits the coin, called an isshu gin, a small rectangular stamped ingot, made during the reign of the last Tokugawa shogun. He was running the show during the 1850's when Commodore Perry "opened" Japan to the West. The emperor, Komei was the symbolic figurehead at the time. It was the beginning of a period of great change for the country, an appropriate symbol to have on a ring as I turn 55 to face my own mini Meiji Era.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's Like Traffic School All Over Again

It was "Recommittment to Ethics Day" at Boeing. That means two hours of speeches by the CEO, Senior VPs of Communication, the Office of Internal Governance, Ethics, a Medal of Honor recipient, testimonials and case studies. Somebody exercised bad judgement a few years ago and the company was banned from bidding on military contracts as a result. We were penitent. Ethics Day was born! It was fours hours long back then. With final exams! So, two hours of lectures isn't too bad. It's like an Ethics booster shot. For me the best part is the testimonials. Hey, do I know that guy? Or, I know where they filmed that! When the program is over you get your badge scanned for credit. But my attention span hasn't stretched much since elementary school so about halfway through, my mind started to drift. I daydreamed about riding the coolest folding bike I've ever seen, the Strida3. Check out the price. I can't believe it!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Egg Memories

The Boeing Company photographers sent me some pics of the egg drop contest held during Engineers Week. Here are the contestants with their entries.

Preliminary inspections

The dragonfly, the winning finned-dart, and the graybeard Rick delicately dropping our entry

Engineers love to break stuff and see what's inside.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Da Hood

I do a lot of banking here. The name derived from the sixties when the building was actually a bank. They have a deli section that used to be pretty good but in recent years they've gotten stingy with the meat on their sandwiches. Immediately north of the "bank" is the Crenshaw Mall. When the Liquor Bank was truly a bank the Crenshaw Mall was an upscale shopping center with a Broadway where the Wall Mart is and a May Company where the Robinsons-May is now liquidating its inventory.
Farther north on Crenshaw at Coliseum Street the developers are building a strip mall with incongruous features that people familiar with the history of the neighborhood would recognize and understand. At the corner is the remnants of a Pontiac dealership sign. Next to the Starbucks with the fifties facade
is a sign that says "Bowl" with no bowling alley around. But there used to be a Pontiac dealership there and Holiday Bowl was the place to be on league nights. The coffee shop was always open and they had everything from chili rice to wor won ton mein on the menu. When the bowling alley left and the news got out that it would all be torn down, people rallied against the developers. The property was locked in a stalemate for years. So, to remember what once stood, the developers incorporated the bowling alley facade and signage into the Starbucks design and the Pontiac Dealership sign with the Denny's Restaurant. Superficially it sounds silly and unnecessary but I found it reassurring to know that the neighborhood cared enough to make the effort to remember its history, when Crenshaw had fancy restaurants, car dealerships, and department stores. I can go even farther north and point out where the Angeles Church of Christ was a furniture store and Tasty Q's, a great barbeque stand, used to be a Del Taco franchise and on and on. Like hermit crabs, businesses shed their old shells while younger ones take their places hoping to grow and thrive and move on.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Love Toys

Comedians, actors, talk show celebrities comment on toys from way back like Tinker Toys, the balsa wood rubber band airplane, green plastic army men, the Slip and Slide, to more recent toys like My Pretty Pony, Care Bears, stickers, and Weebles ("Weebles wobble but they don't fall down"). The series is a five hour countdown from 100 to the number one toy. The commentary is hilarious as their affection for and experience with these toys are soo familiar. I found myself bursting into laughter alone in front of the tv. Click on the the title to this post to link to VH1.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Fridge

Neat freaks, there's still plenty of room in here for storage. Yes, I have stuff way in back that needs to be tossed but most of what's in here is pretty fresh. Like bookcases, you can tell quite a bit about someone by the contents of their refrigerator. I like food. The orange tub on the top shelf is Pavilion's tomato soup. It's the best. Just to the left is a small dish of tobiko, flying fish roe from Nijiya Market, a caviar that is similar to salmon roe in taste but its granular and feels like you're eating mini fish flavored bubblewrap. Recognize the blue bottle of Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce in the top right corner? Or the asian pear in its distinctive knitted styrofoam sweater? Land o Lakes butter because its small cross section fits the glass butter dish. Anne's Benecol butter substitute. Sriracha sauce - who can be without that? Fresh squeezed Bristol Farms orange juice, yum. White miso in the squarish tupperware. Plastic bag of pre-peeled garlic from the Korean supermarket. And tons of stuff you would never see in this pic. So, what's your fridge like?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Britain's Circus

This is one of my special toys. It's one of the last made by Britain"s Toy Company in their English factory. They're all made in China now. Ironically, the paint job by the Chinese factory is better, more exact. But there is an old school quality to these figures that I love.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Corporate Sylvanians

It was the holiday season almost twenty years ago. I walked out to the living room one morning. The tree was up. Toys were everywhere. Sylvanians were scattered on the floor next to the little open roof cottage where they "lived." It was not only a mess, I could've stepped on them and that would've hurt almost as much as stepping on a Lego. So, I knelt down and began to sweep them into a little pile near the cottage. I thought, "that looks like a mound of dead animals." Not good. So I distributed them in each of the partitioned rooms, some in the living room, some in the bedroom, some near the kitchen. To make a long story short, by the time the family came out there was a full on formal dinner going on in the Sylvanian household with daddy and mommy greeting guests at the door. Someone else was holding a teeny tray out with bottled refreshments. Lots of relatives were mingling in the living room anxiously waiting to sit and eat. There was grandma in the bedroom with her arms up (they are moveable) in alarm over some stranger rocking the cradle containing a baby Sylvanian. Elizabeth joined in. We had fun moving the creatures around, changing the social dynamic. What is the point of this story? Here's my idea. Right now my cubicle is occupied by flamingos on fake grass. Don't ask why. It's a long story. I want to put a partitioned office floorplan under the lights and have Sylvanians represent the different types of coporate personalities, executives (probably tanuki because they're sneaky) bears, rabbits, etc. People can come up with all sorts of dramatic scenes. Surfing the web I found that the UK, Japan, and Australia are still into Sylvanians and plenty more are traded on Ebay. You've got to watch out for imitations, as the scale factor is different as well as the quality. Take my word for it, these are fun.