Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books I'm Excited for in 2009

Dates are subject to change...

"Red Carpet Suicide" by Perez Hilton - Honestly, I'm just excited (hoping) to see it do bad.

"Andre the Giant" by Michael Krugman - This guy was the hero of every kid on my block, when I was little; I even had the action figure. Coincidentally, there is also slated to be a movie about him this year.

"Losing My Religion" by William Lobdell - Spiritual memoir by former Los Angeles Times religion writer.

"Fool: A Novel" by Christopher Moore - Maybe now I can finally understand King Lear.

"Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing" by the Editors of Mental Floss - This book looks like it will be the ultimate "how-to" guide to doing things you never knew you wanted to know how to do.

"Pygmy" by Chuck Palahniuk - I'm not really a Palahniuk fan, but this description alone intrigues me: "The Manchurian Candidate meets South Park"

"Let Story Guide You" by Donald Miller - One of the few Christian writers out there worth reading.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movies I'm Excited About

Dates are subject to change...

Watchman - This movies either going to be really great or really horrible; there's no need to explain what it's about--if you have never heard of the comic book, I'm pretty sure you won't want to see the movie.

The Lovely Bones - Peter Jackson directed it possible it can be bad? Everything he does is great (unless you count "Meet the Feebles" about we just forget about that movie?)

Star Trek - I was never a Star Trek fan, but after seeing the preview, I'm ready to give it a shot.

Up - Pixars yearly movie; it's also the first feature that Pete Docter has directed since Monsters, Inc in 2001...

2012 - Every summer needs a brainless action movie, and it looks like this summer "2012" will take that spot; basically, it's about a bunch of natural disasters occurring at the end of 2012 (the same year that the Mayan calender mysteriously ends); I predict a big opening weekend, followed by a bunch of people at the library asking for books on the Mayan calender. Also, I predict this movie will make a lot of people nervous about 2012.

G.I. Joe - I confess, this is the movie I am most excited t see; the movie was my childhood. I had the toys, I saw the movies, and I raced home every day after school to see the cartoon.

Toy Story in 3-D - I'm more excited about the 2010 release of "Toy Story 3" but this will have to do for now.

Where the Wild Things Are - After all the controversy surrounding the delays and rewrites, the question on most people's minds is will it actually be good? I think Spike Jonze can pull it off. Plus Dave Eggers helped penned the script...

A Christmas Carol - Jim Carrey voices Scrooges in this CGI movie by Robert Zemeckis. I liked Zemeckis last Christmas movie, "The Polar Express"...but hopefully, his crew has learned how to draw humans, because the CGI in that movie was creepy!

The Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson takes on the classic Roald Dahl story.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Interview with a Christian Porn Star

A few years back I did the below interview. It was published at Opium Magazine's website (; over the years Opium has gone through a lot of changes, and their archives don't date back very far anymore. I think it's a funny bit, and I hate to see it vanish entirely, so I'm posting it here...enjoy:

Editor's Note: the Christian porn star in question has asked to remain nameless, and thus, does.

Douglas: I'm confused at the term. To say you're a "Christian Porn Star"-isn't that a bit of an oxymoron? Christian Porn star.

Christian Porn Star (CP): There are Christian rock stars, Christian actors, and Christian athletes. Why should being a Christian porn star be any different?

Douglas: Well the very nature of your profession is--well, not very Christian.

CP: (nodding) I've thought about that quite a bit in the past.

Douglas: And?

CP: Well, the films my production company makes aren't targeted towards Christians. They're targeted to men who have, by and large, not thought much of religion. I think there needs to be a Christian in the industry helping to promote the name of Christ.

Douglas: And how exactly do you go about doing this?

CP: Well the movies I do are what industry experts call "Art House Porno."

Douglas: Art house porno?

CP: (nodding) It's an experimental form of pornography. What we do in the films is really push the boundaries of what porno is. They're films that combine sex with morals.

Douglas: Sex and morals?

CP: Right.

Douglas: So are you trying to say that godless sex is wrong in your films?

CP: By all means, no.

Douglas: Then what are you trying to do?

CP: The films are moral tales of sorts. They have themes like 'don't steal' or 'don't do drugs' or 'don't lie.' Very moral things. But to get the men to come see the moral message, we throw in all kinds of sex--raunchier and more experimental then what you would see in most porn. Like we're doing one right now about the poet Jane West. It's about West and her desire to be a female poet at any cost.

Douglas: Was West a sex addict, then?

CP: In this movie she is. It's just your typical pornographic period piece.

Douglas: Interesting. But, back to the question at hand--you don't see any of this as disregarding one immoral act as a way of condemning another one?

CP: Not at all.

Douglas: And where does Christ come in?

CP: Christ?

Douglas: Christ. You are a Christian porn star, after all. Aren't you supposed to be promoting Christ?

CP: We live in a godless world. I believe people need to see that they are doing immoral acts before they are able to see why they need Jesus Christ.

Douglas: And what about you? What about the acts you perform in the movies? Isn't having sex with multiple partners, and sometimes men, a little immoral?

CP: It's done in the name of art.

Douglas: And this makes it right?

CP: If I got pleasure out of having sex with several women at the same time, then I would say it was wrong. But I don't. I merely do it to promote morals.

Douglas: But the audience doesn't know your acting. They see a man on screen whose having sex with several women. Aren't you afraid they'll walk away believing that this kind of thing in society is okay?

CP: They're just movies. If they can't see the difference between fiction and reality, then they have other problems.

Douglas: Like addiction to porn, low self-esteem, inability to commit they're love to one person?

CP: Exactly.

Douglas: And you don't feel like you contribute to they're feelings and addictions?

CP: Absolutely not. I'm just here to entertain.

Douglas: Fair enough. Then onto other questions. Why don't you want your name to be identified?

CP: If people knew I was a Christian and a porn star, then they wouldn't see my movies.

Douglas: Doesn't the gospel say you should not be ashamed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?

CP: I'm not ashamed.

Douglas: You just don't want people to know you're a Christian.

CP: Exactly. Maybe one day I'll write a tell--all autobiography of my life, but not until I feel my calling is finished.

Douglas: Speaking of autobiographies, can you tell me your testimony, how you came to Christ.

CP: That's a really great story. We were filming a love scene in a church, and I overheard the pastor telling the director all about Jesus. The director blew him off, but I wanted to hear more. So after the love scene was over, I found the pastor and asked to hear more. He told me how Jesus died for my sins and that accepting him would let me have a personal, one on one, relationship with God.

Douglas: Did the minister tell you, after you accepted Christ, that you needed to stop living your current life and start living for Christ?

CP: He's the one who encouraged me to be a Christian porn star.

Douglas: What kind of minister was this?

CP: Methodist.

Douglas: I see. So how did your life change after you accepted Christ? Is this when you started doing the moral porno?

CP: My life didn't change. I was already doing moral porno. Ever since I entered the industry, I felt a very passionate need to change the system and put in moral films.

Douglas: So nothing changed?

CP: Well I was a Christian porn star after that. I had only been a porn star before.

Douglas: Then what would you say the difference is between a Christian porn star and a regular porn star?

CP: I'm asked that a lot, although I'm not sure why. It's pretty obvious. A Christian porn star believes in Christ. A regular porn star does not.

Douglas: But they're attitudes and lifestyles are the same?

CP: In many cases, yes.

Douglas: Then why would you tell someone they need to be a Christian if everything can be identical when you believe in nothing?

CP: On Earth, they're really is no point in being a Christian. It's in heaven where not being a Christian can be tricky.

Douglas: So one day you'll die and meet God. What do you think he'll say about your life?

CP: Well, seeing is how I haven't did anything to make me ungodly, I think he'll be well pleased.

Douglas: You have no concerns that he won't see you doing porno as ungodly.

CP: No I don't--not compared to what other people have did.

Douglas: And what about the rest of your life. Your life outside the industry. Do you go to church? Read the Bible? Pray?

CP: Some days I'm more spiritual then others, but yeah I try and do all of those things.

Douglas: Does anyone in your church know?

CP: No one. I think people would judge me if they knew.

Douglas: Even though you don't think your job is wrong?

CP: Look at you. You seem to have a bias towards me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm On Twitter You Twit

When I started a blog, I figured most people couldn't handle the occasional ramblings from me and my day to day life; my wife has convinced me, however, that people want to know more about my personal life then just occasional ramblings; she claims there are people with such voyeuristic tendencies that they actually get excited to know you had a veggie burger for lunch or spend ten minutes in the bathroom. Actually, I wouldn't say she convinced me; I've been convinced of this for a long time--she just took the initiative of creating a Twitter page for me because I was too lazy to do it myself. Now that it's up, she says it's rude if I ignore her efforts, so I guess you can say I've been quilted into it. She even put a pretty background on my profile…FYI it’s the apartment that we live in.

If you are a voyeurist by trade, maybe you simply are a little too into Twitter, or maybe you just aren’t yet convinced that writers/librarians are basically the most boring people on Earth…if that’s the case then my info is below. If nothing else I’ll update it much more then my blog…for about a month, by which time I’ll probably be bored with it and stop doing it altogether.

My wife, Diana, says it's great because I can Twitter I'm at Disneyland or the mall and meet people there...I told her this isn't great, this is stalking. Perhaps we are just confused about the definition of word?

My Twitter info:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seven Pounds of Spoilers (SPOILER ALERT)


What's happened to Will Smith? He used to be a good actor, then he pulled a Hancock, and it's all been downhill; I had a feeling his newest movie would be doomed when I saw the previews for his newest movie "Seven Pounds"; it just seemed to have a plot that they were hiding the details to because it was so horribly bad...I was right. Apparently, Will Smith has decided to be the M. Night Shyamalan of acting, and now only does movies that have bizarre twist.

Instead of paying ten bucks to see a bizarre twist, I decided to just read it for free, so I scurried the Web for spoilers. The best I found was at New York Magazine. If you are like me, and don't want to pay ten bucks to see a bad movie only to find out the a bizarre twist, then I'll make it simple for you by saying it here. So turn away if you don't want to know, and don't complain because I spoiled the movie....ready? Will Smith plays a man who is using his Blackberry while driving and crashes his car killing seven people (including his fiance); he decides he is going to kill himself in a bathtub with a deadly jellyfish (yes, you read that right--a jellyfish!). So here's the redeem his life, he is donating body parts to seven different people. Basically the movie is about him making sure those seven people are deserving, because he can only give it to good people.

I'm not sure at what point he "Pulls a Hancock" but I'm sure it's in there somewhere. If you find that scene, then comment here.

Things You Won't Be Seeing on Google Maps Anytime Soon

If you like Google Maps as much as me, you'll get a kick out of this page about things that they censor or blur out:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Font

Everyone wants to be environmentally friendly these in point: a Dutch company has figured out a way to create an eco-friendly computer font. According to the company they added holes to the font so it uses less ink to print.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Refurbished Kindles for Sale!

Just in time for Christmas, Amazon has started selling refurbished Kindles for $329...get them while they last.

Even Hitler Gets the Blues...

A child in New Jersey was a little disappointed when his birthday cake came and it didn't have his name: Adolf Hitler.

Do Your Laundry & Check Out a Book Too!

I've seen and heard of a lot of weird libraries...the library below which combines doing laundry with reading books is definitely going to the top of that list! Thanks to Alex for sharing it...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wii Fit Christmas Blues?

Are you depressed that you can't seem to find a Wii Fit anywhere for Christmas? Now you don't have to be, thanks to the Wu Fit! Everything about the board seems shady, so if buying bootleg is your thing, click the above link and it's yours for only $92.00. Apparenly, it doesn't ship with the actual game, which is odd. Read a full review of it here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Future of the Internet

A new study came out today that shows what experts believe the Internet will be. Some findings are below...a more detailed report is available here. Any report that says the primary Internet connection tool will be a cell phone and not a computer has flaws in my opinion. If anything, I think by 2020 the primary connection tool will be will be in our cars, our TVs, our kitchens, and yes, our cell phones...actually it's already in all these places.


The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.

The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.

Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.

Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.

The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.

Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.

Google Does It Again...

If you are a fan of Gmail, you might already know this, but in case you haven't, Google has added the ability to send a SMS text to a phone from Gmail. Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Books on Nintendo DS

Apparently iPhones aren't the only place we might see books in the future. Nintendo might soon be testing it out on their handheld devide, the Nintendo DS. The first test will cost 30 books and contain 100 classic works.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is iTunes the New Kindle?

A new story is out saying Apple may consider putting books on iTunes; I'd hardly consider this a story—I'd consider it a fact. The technology is there, and people are already putting books on their iPod touch and iPhones; I predict a new touch will come out sometime next year (followed soon after by a new iPhone) that has better resolution that can handle books.

Publisher's are struggling to figure out how to make profit in a digital age; I've been saying for years that they'd soon have to go through what the music industry went through several years ago with MP3's, and I think the time has arrived.

Two things are on my mind, however. One is what format Apple would use; one can only hope they don't use their own; and two, what will happen to the authors? Musicians simply learned to tour if they wanted to make money, but what about authors? Maybe Stephanie Meyer can sellout the Nokia, but the average author can't even get a handful of people to show up for a signing at Barnes & Noble. What happens when people start putting books up on bit torrent and publishers go from making $50,000 to $100,000 on a mid-list author to making less than $10,000—my guess is they cut back the number of authors they sign, which is already low.

My longstanding idea for putting advertisements in an eBook might start looking like a better idea to them. And FYI, here are the two blogs I've mentioned advertising in the past:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, December 5, 2008

And Another Thing...

The cover story of L.A. City Beat is a nice story about the death (more importantly the importance) of David Foster Wallace.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

It's not a good time to be a writer. It's not really a good time to be in any position, but in recent days I've found the news increasingly discouraging. It started last week when Houghton Mifflin announced that it is no longer considering manuscripts of any kind from any writer, and, for the time, is sticking with contracts they've already made; the publisher of that press is now resigning.

Random House, the papa bear of all publishing, announced it is cutting two of its imprints. While no job cuts were announced, one can only imagine that they are coming.

Simon & Schuster, another NYC publishing big gun, is laying off part of their staff.

Some writers have already been quoted basically saying it's no big deal--it just means more quality writing being published, and less crap--but that's simply not true. What it means is established crap writers with a following will continue to get paid to write, while new, fresh writers will get left out.

Their will be exceptions, of course; there's always exceptions, and that's what every writer hopes to be--the exception. 

And this news doesn't just hurt writers; if that was the case, it wouldn't be so grim--writers have never made money doing what they do. There are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of agents out there that have no idea if they will be able to continue with their job next year; while there are some big literary agencies out their, most agents work for small boutique firms, and they will be hurt. Independent bookstores have been hurting for years, and this is not going to help the problem; locally, two independent bookstores that were landmarks to SoCal (Acres of Books and The Book Baron) closed up shop; while Borders and B&N stock up on Grisham and King, these little guys are one of the few kind enough to sell the unknown writers of the world--the writers who actually write quality, but don't sell millions of copies each book.

So this Christmas, if you can spare a dime, support the publishing industry by buying a few books as gifts. And if you really want to be saintly about it, go to a small bookstore to buy it.

Buy books for relatives that hate reading--just tell them if it wasn't for little unknown books, Hollywood would have nothing to adapt come Oscar time.  Movies like Revolutionary Road were never bestsellers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Teacher Sells Ads on Test

Desperate times calls for desperate measure, and this teachers idea of putting small ads on his quizes and test might be a great idea for libraries! The teacher sells ad space to local business and's a win-win idea, in my opinion--the teacher gets a little extra money to buy supplies for the class, and the local business gets a bit of advertising. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Should the Internet Be Free?

If lawmakers have it their way, it might very well be the case...I doubt it would happen anytime soon, because of the filtering issue (some want pornography blocked, some think it violates free speech).

Monday, December 1, 2008

A 200 dollar laptop? An Apple Netbook?

When Apple starts thinking about jumping on the netbook wagon, you know it's more then just a trendy little phase; in 2009, the company is rumored to release a netbook version of the Mac. It's said they might actually compete with others by setting the price in the 500 dollar range, but one has to wonder if that's really competing...a new $200 netbook is also rumored to be coming out next year from Eee PC; granted the Eee PC is a Linux model, but you really can't beat the price if all you want to do is type and surf the net.

As the economy continues to hit sour notes, it's easy to see these computers completely taking over the laptop market...they kind of already have. It's hard to justify paying 1,000 dollars a for a laptop when these will do just fine.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Here's a real life weekend funny...decorate your Christmas tree with reindeer poop.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Computer Upgrades for Life

Fujitsu is offering an interesting computer deal just in time for the holiday season--free computer upgrades for life. That really puts my lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone to shame! Certain rules and guidelines the link to find out more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This Years Wii...The Kindle?

If you're hoping for a Kindle this Christmas, then it looks like you're out of luck. Amazon says the wait time on Kindle's is currently 11 to 13 weeks. What is it about Amazon selling these things as Christmas presents? The same thing happened last year, and people who ordered them didn't get them until almost the summer of 2008!

Used Kindle's are selling on eBay for over $450 dollars, and new ones are fetching over $600. So apparently I can make a 100 dollar profit for giving my month old Kindle up.

After Oprah's big Kindle show in late October, the wait time was 2 to 3 days; by early November it was 2 to 3 weeks; and now they won't come until next year. Might was well wait for the rumored new Kindle that's due out sometime in 2009.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SJSU Interview

SLIS Descriptor has an interview with me in the November Issue (available online)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Role Models

I am a bit conflicted; I saw Role Models with my wife the other day, and, while I want to say it was funny, I equally feel guilty for paying money to see a movie that exploits little kids.

I knew what I was getting into when I saw why it was rated R; rauchy humor doesn't really bug me. My problem in the movie isn't why it was rated R, it was who was making it R--often it was kids--mostly it was Ronnie, the little boy who played Seann William Scott's little buddy. The only thing he liked more then saying the F word was talking about how much he liked "bubbies" (something that he saw later in the movie, which was another thing that really bothered me--what parent let's there child act in a movie that requires them to see nudity?); it's bad enough to put a little kid in a movie that has adult's swearing left and right, but when it's the kids doing the swearing it's even worse.

The reason Ronnie sweared was completely uncalled for; it was shocking for the sake of shocking. Would the movie have been funny without it? Yes.

I have a feeling somewhere in Hollywood parents were sat down and they had to sign a contract saying it was okay for their little kid to do this.

People used to drop f-bombs with a little more class; when they said it, it truly was shocking and even funny. Now it's purely shock, and shock carries no lasting value. It's actually become just sad.

I'm not for censoring...except for kids; if that violates their rights, so be it--they're kids, their rights are supposed to be violated. Whoever Ronnie is in real life, his right to be a innocent child was taken away by some producer who said he could make him a star--and I paid ten bucks to support that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quiet Please Black Friday Sale

I am not a fan of the Post Office at Christmas; for this reason (and because I'm basically all out of books), I will no longer sell signed books off my web page as of Monday, December 1. I do not plan on selling copies after the new year either. The cost is $20.00 and that includes shipping.

If you would like to give a signed copy to someone as a gift, please order them before that date; also, if you want it personalized, make sure and say so when you order the copy.

I will also include a free copy of The Library Tree to anyone who orders during this last week (not much of a gift sense the book is already available). I will continue to sell The Library Tree until I sell out completely.

If you want an unsigned copy, I suggest using Amazon, which currently sells the book for $16.50.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Mobile Computer Lab

A few years ago, I had a conversation with an IT guy about computers at the library that he worked at; he explained that all the computers were leased for about 400 each for two or three years; it didn't make sense, and I told him so; for less then 400 bucks you could easily buy a desktop that you would never have to give back. He argued that if things went bad on that, it might not be covered in the warranty, and the cost of upkeep were just too high. I found the whole conversation frustrating, because he was getting paid to upkeep the computers and would save the library a lot of money by not having to get a new lease every two years. Times have changed, computers are even cheaper, and he's probably still leasing them for the library.

Today, however, I think a bigger argument is why would a library lease when netbooks are so cheap? (for reviews, see yesterdays blog) The time of the 200 dollar, and maybe 100 dollar, notebook is here, and I think it's time for libraries to reconsider the idea of checking out computers. A few libraries have experimented with the idea, but the cost of mini notebooks are so cheap that it's more of a reality for even the smallest library.

The problem I've seen in many older branch libraries is there's simply no room for computers; bookshelves are often removed to make space; new libraries are obviously built with computers in mind, but what about the little guys?

As you probably know from my blog yesterday, I am a new fan of the MSI Wind. Not only is this a great computer for the average user, it's a great computer for the average library. Instead of finding odd nooks to handle large desktops, why not check out computers? For less then 10,000 dollars, a library could have twenty+ brand new notebooks. The battery life on a computer with a 3 cell battery is about two hours, so a patron can't horde it all day if you don't give them power supply.

Frequently, even in new libraries, computer labs are in the least desired part of the library--stuffy rooms with no natural lighting.

A patron has the freedom to roam the library with laptops, and use the computer wherever they're comfortable. Theft is not a problem if you have a policy that requires valid library card and ID. Obviously the right check out policy is the biggest issue, but it can be done.

I think the time has come for libraries to seriously consider the mobile computer lab.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Death of a Laptop

My laptop has been dying several months; I didn't want for it to happen, because I love that laptop, but, as a writer, it's something that happens all to often. I type over one thousand pages a year; that means in less then a year the letters on the keyboard begin to quickly wear off. This is soon followed by keys that stick. Those things you can live with, but when the computer begins frequently locking up or crashing, then you know it's time to start looking for a laptop.

For the past two years, I have been using a Toshiba Portege R200; it's less then three pounds, and can go for about 4 to 5 hours if the wi-fi is on, and 6 to 7 hours if the wi-fi is off. The new Toshiba R600's are awesome, and equally light with great battery life; the problem for me this time around is I don't have $1,500 to $2,000 to spare on a laptop. I also knew that I could not go without a laptop.

I could have gone with the cheap 400 dollar laptops that are usually on sale at Best Buy and Circuit City; but I write on the go, and I needed something ultra-portable.

My next option was a netbook. In the past, I've been against them because their hard drives were too small (and most ran Linux, which I like for secondary computers, but not primary ones). This year a swarm of XP netbooks came out with 60+ gigabyte hard drives. The first one to catch my eye was the Acer One; it has 1 gig of RAM, a 120 gb hard drive, and has been on sale at CostCo for $350. I had two problems with that one. One, it had a 3 cell battery, which meant only two hours of battery life; and two, a small keyboard. Further investigation also revealed that it has a known problem with overheating and is quitee loud. There are reports that a new Acer is coming out with a six cell baterry next year.

Next I considered the more costly Lenovo Ideapad ($399); this was a little bit more, but had a larger screen, thus bigger keyboard; it also had a smaller hard drive. The biggest problem I had the Lenovo was the battery—again, a three cell. It was tempting, because it was a name I could trust, but in the end I decided against it.

I did not even look at the HP netbook, which is probably the most commonly purchased business netbook; FYI, I think HP is the worse computer on the market. I have have never had one or known someone that had one that didn't have a series of hardware and/or software issues; part of the problem is they often use Compaq parts, which is basically the lemon of computer parts.

The last computer I looked at was the MSI Wind; Amazon had it on sale for $430, and it was everything I wanted (6 cell battery, 160 hard drive, 10 inch screen, 2.8 pounds); it had a SCSI hard drive, so it would be slower to transfer larger files, but I could deal with that.

I now have the laptop, and couldn't be more please. It's a little bit heavier than my Toshiba, but the flaws stop there. It's quiet, does not get even a little hot on the bottom (unlike just about every other laptop out there), and surprisingly fast. The keyboard feels just like a full size one; although the comma and question mark keys are just a tad to small and awkwardly placed, and the mouse pad is less than ideal.

Normally cheap laptops have tons of software preloaded on the desktop, and your first hour with the new computer is spent getting them off; not so with the MSI. It has a trial version of Office, which I promptly took off because I cannot stand the new version of Office. Once I dig up my old external CD drive, I'm going to install an older version of word, but for now I'm contempt running Open Office, which is basically the same as Word and free.

I've heard all the reviews say that netbooks are great as a second laptop, but not as a main one; I disagree. If you are doing graphics, video production, or something that requires a quick processor then stick with a desktop; but if all you do is type, use the Internet, video conference (web cam is built in!), and take digital photos, then the MSI is the perfect computer. The only thing it doesn't do is burn CD/DVDs, but with most people using USB drives, then why do you need to? I still have a desktop for that, but I could live without it.

Unfortunately, Amazon sold out of the MSI Wind the day after I made my purchase (you can buy them elsewhere, but I haven't found them as cheap); they have a black model for just a little more, but it's on backorder, and won't ship for six to seven weeks. I suspect it will magically come back in stock for Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Day After the Fire

Below is the view I woke up to this morning (currently the fire is 10 miles away in the hills of Brea, Anaheim, and Yorba Linda); my prayers go out to the people who have lost homes in the fire. 

Winds are not as bad today, which should help control the fires.

The Orange County Register has been doing a good job keeping track of the fire...follow this link if you are interested. They also have regularly updated information about damage.

Those interested in the libraries around the area...none are currently threatened, but both the Richard Nixon Library (in Yorba Linda) and the East Hills Library (in Anaheim Hills) were closed because of the smoke conditions. I have not yet heard about the Yorba Linda Public Library, but it's near the Nixon library, so it probably has.

Weekend Funnies

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PhotoShop This

Not yet convinced that PhotoShop is not the most evil software known to Hollywood? Take a look at this page, which shows some of the years biggest blunders that probably only geeks on the Internet were wise enough to find...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Michael Crichton

The most memorable memory of Michael Crichton I have is my mom lecturing him after a reading. I was in junior high and, at the time, Crichton was my literary crush. I had been in line for over an hour and I was star struck when I finally got to the front of the line and handed him my book. My mom was not as impressed with him; as I handed him the book to sign, he coughed a sickly cough into his two hands. My mom looked at him horrified and said, “Aren’t you supposed to be a doctor?” Crichton looked at her confused and simply smiled. Then my mom said, “I can’t believe someone who is a doctor would cough all over their hands and spread their germs like that—any reasonable person would cough into there arm sleeve, so they didn’t spread whatever they were sick with to every person they shuck hands with.” I half expected Crichton to tell my mom off, and refuse to sign my book; instead he spend the next few minutes talking to me, signed several books, and stood to let me take a picture with him (a picture which my brother exposed the next day and ruined).

Crichton was the H.G. Wells and Jules Verne of my generation; he was the author that, as a young boy, I would check out at the library and whose books I would become absolutely immersed in. I can remember many occasions going to my room with the sun still up, and becoming so involved in the story that I didn’t realize it was dark until I could no longer read the page for lack of light; I often was so involved in stories like Sphere, Congo, and, of course, Jurassic Park that I would be startled when someone interrupted my reading to ask me something. He was one of the authors that made me love reading.

I owe a lot to the literature he created, and he will be missed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Did It! We Did What?

I'm sick already of people saying "We did it!" Whenever I hear it, I immediately wonder "What exactly did you do?" Did you campaign? Did you knock on doors for your guy? Did you make phone calls? Did you tell everyone and their mother who you were voting for? Did you volunteer to work the polls on Election Day? Did you stand on the street corners holding up a sign?

Or did you just vote?

Personally, I'm saving my praise for another day—a day when we really did do it.

Maybe we did do it. Maybe we went to the polls and maybe we checked a little box that symbolically said how we felt about things, but the praise should be reserved until we do something far greater then show up for an election once every four years.

I voted for Obama, but I'm still part of the people he has to convince. I voted for him more out distaste for the other guy, than because I really believed he would change things. He put hope in people's hearts, but hope does not automatically translate to a plan that will mean anything at all.

The thing this election has made me realize more than any election before it is we are too far divided to make the difference that Obama and his supporters hope for.

A long time ago, I decided to give to Caesar what is Caesar, and not be guilted into voting for a President who supposedly would make this country more moral (whatever the word moral means); if eight years has taught me anything, it's that saying you believe in Jesus Christ doesn't make you a better President—it seems it does quite the opposite. The only Presidents in my lifetime that really stressed the “Jesus” factor (Bush and Carter) have been the two least favored Presidents of the past thirty years.

Personally, I hope Bush pulls a Carter; I hope he realizes that he did so much damage to this country that he should spend the rest of his life doing non-profit work to rebuild everything he ruined over the last eight years; maybe then he’ll realize what it truly means to say you are a follower of Jesus Christ. But what he did isn’t the countries biggest problem; its biggest problem is a large percent of America believes that he could do a better job leading this country then Obama—and nothing Obama says or does will change this because their minds are already set.

There are a lot of homosexuals in California that woke up following the election and realized that they no longer could marry, and there are a lot conservatives who are all the more happy to rub it in their face and remind them of it. Equally there are a lot of conservatives that woke up following the elections and realized that the man of their dreams was not going to be President, and there are a lot of liberals excited to tell them so.

Politics has made this nation one which groups of people must have superiority--where the elections are held to a certain level of spectacle, and people are led to believe that their are winners and there are losers--that we are not united on one team called America, but divided by party colors. The fact is today there are thousands of people not thinking about what this election means for this country, rather they are thinking about how they can be the winners in 2012.

There are too many people out there who, instead of pausing and saying "how can we work together to fix this country," are saying this is how we can get this guy out of office or this is how we can get the proposition on the ballot again.

There are too many people on both sides of the fence who never stopped for a second to look at the other side. It's time for the left and the right to call a truce, and give each other a fair chance to make the difference that we each believe in.

There are people already lining up to file lawsuits because they believe their rights have been violated; maybe their rights have been violated, but perhaps it's time to say there is something far greater then 'my' rights. I do not believe a thing such as 'my' rights can ever really be solved, but 'our' rights collectively still have a fighting chance if people stop looking at the country in terms of what 'I' want, and start looking at it in terms of what 'we' want. Unity is what has always made this country strong; and unity is the only thing that can ever fix this country.

Unity is what everyone is preaching; it’s what they said the country needed four years ago, and four years before that. It’s what they always say we need. And they are right—we do need it. But until both sides can sit at the same table and not fight about who is more right, then it’s never going to happen.

Yes we can...but will we ever do it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sarah Palin, 2012!

I'm not saying I want it...but, sadly, it's going to happen. Don't screw it up one wants the PTA running the country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does Starbucks Really Care?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Five, Getting the Most Out of Kindle

The Kindle can read Word documents, which is nice, but what is nicer is you can email those Word documents to your Kindle for .10 cents.
From Kindle
You can also publish a book on Kindle in a matter of minutes. As an experiment, I put a number of my writings (some never published) in Kindle format, then uploaded them to be published. Now anyone with a Kindle can buy it for .99 cents; I was going to make it .01, but .99 is the minimum for some reason. I think you make .35 cents for every dollar sold. You can't check them out here:
From Kindle
It's almost silly to buy books on the Kindle when there are literally thousands of classics in public domain. I've been downloading a lot from and These books look just as nice as the ones you pay for.
From Kindle
One of the things I love about the Kindle is reading newspapers, blogs, and magazines; I like to keep books on my shelf, but newspapers and magazines are pretty disposable. Reading them on the Kindle works out great; I save a tree, and the navigation on them is pretty nice. It would just be nice to have more to buy.
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Four, Other Exerimental Features

To get to the Web, you go into the Kindles experimental area; this is why I suspect they might not give free Internet in the's just an experiment.

There are currently two other things in this area. NowNow and Music. NowNow works a bit like ChaCha; basically Amazon has a site called AskVille (which looks an awful lot like Yahoo! Answers); when you ask a question, it goes to a person at AskVille, who sends you three answers straight to your Kindle within about 30 minutes. 
From Kindle
From Kindle
The music area is where you go if you have loaded any MP3's onto your Kindle; unfortunately, you can't have the MP3 on your SD card and you have to randomly play the song (you also can't skip it); Amazon didn't want to make a MP3 player and it is clear; it's simply meant to be background music while you read. It's a bit of a shame they didn't make it a MP3 player on top of a reader, because the built in speakers are pretty nice.

Hitting the ALT M key will bring up a Kindle version of the game Minesweeper; I don't know why this is a hidden feature, but it is.
From Kindle
Finally, the Kindle can also be used as a photo viewer. You can either drag and drop the the picture into your Kindle, or email a JPEG to your Kindle email address, and for .10 cents it will automatically load onto the device.
From Kindle

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Three, The Web

The biggest surprise about the Kindle is it has free Internet access; I don't know if they'll continue doing this, but I sure hope they do. Basically, it uses the Sprint network to surf the net--so anywhere Sprint is, you have the Internet. The downside of this is it drains the battery, but, when your not using the Web, you can simply turn it off.
From Kindle
It's not exactly 3G Internet, but for the price I'm paying I didn't think it would be. It's a bit like surfing the Net using a dial-up modem; so it's not ideal for seeing graphics, but it's great for blogs and checking and sending email!
From Kindle
If you are familiar at all with using the Web on your cell phone, then you should not be surprised by how it looks--like a mobile version of the Internet. You don't get YouTube, but you get the I guess you just have to read about the funny video.
From Kindle
From Kindle
From Kindle
I'm all about free; I hate the idea of buying a data plan for my phone, and now I don't have to. I have my Gmail account set to forward all my incoming email to text message...if the email is urgent, now I have a way of replying while I'm on the road. If I bought a data plan, I'd be spending $360 dollars a year...that basically pays the cost of the Kindle!
From Kindle
From Kindle

From Kindle
Hitting the ALT key and the number 1 will launch Google Maps; supposedly you are supposed to see your position, so it's kind of like GPS (except it has no GPS inside...I think it's using the cellular signal?); unfortunately, I only saw this work once. I'd like to see this feature work better, because hitting the ALT 2 and ALT 3 keys will show you gas stations and eateries nearby you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day Two, Reading a Book

After about 30 seconds of reading a book on the Kindle, you forget you are even reading a book on a digital device.
From Kindle
The first book I bought was the Bible; it helped me get over the guilt of spending nearly 400 dollars on a eReader! I expected this to take awhile, but, surprisingly, it download just as quick as any other book (30 seconds are less is pretty normal). Obviously, this is one book where navigation is important; with a simple click (no matter where you are) you can go to the Table of Contents page; here you can select the book, and then chapter you are looking for. All books work the same way. This is nice for most books...others, such as Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates, it's a little confusing, because her book doesn't have chapters; you can see in the image below how this becomes difficult, but not impossible, to find your place. Luckily, whenever you stop reading, it automatically remembers where you were in every single book.
From Kindle
From Kindle
Another nice thing about the Kindle is you can erase your books to save space, and then re download them at a later time; unlike basically all MP3 stores, which make you buy the song again if you delete it, Amazon keeps a copy of it online for you.

The built in dictionary is a bit sluggish, but easy to get to. Whenever you are stuck on a word and want to know what it means,  simply click the scroll, click look up, and the Kindle looks up every single word on the line you have pointed at; it takes about 10 to 20 seconds to return the results; it still beats digging up your dictionary to find the definition.
From Kindle
From Kindle
You also have the ability to highlight and take notes on a particular passage; I haven't played around with this much, but I imagine it would be great for college students who have put textbooks on their Kindles. Typing on the Kindle has a bit of a delay, which I don't mind too much; it would bug me if I was using it to type a term paper, but when all your doing is typing in web pages and book titles, you hardly even notice.
From Kindle

Monday, October 27, 2008

Amazon Kindle - Day One, Out of the Box

I'm going to spend the next week giving an overview of basically every Kindle feature. I think at the right price it will be in the hands of every book reader (or even Web reader) in the very near feature. If you hate the idea of eBooks, then just ignore me. If not, then read on.

Today, I'll go over the overall look and feel of the device; over the next couple days, I'll show you what the free Internet looks like (yes, free), and some of the other less talked about features.

The first thing that really struck me about the device was the box; you can tell a lot from a gadget by the amount of time spent in packaging. The box is basically shaped like a book (creative, right!); I put my box on my bookshelf.

From Kindle
From Kindle

When I turned the Kindle on for the first time, it look fake--I didn't think words could ever be so clear on something. It's just like words in a book. When I took it outside there was absolutely no glare.

The first thing you see when you turn on the device is the main menu. On this menu you can sort books by title, author, or most recently read/added. You can also choose to show only magazines, newspapers or books. When you stick a 4 gig card into the Kindle, and load it with thousands of books, this main screen becomes would be nice to have the option of hiding some of the books; otherwise you'll spend twenty minutes hitting next page to get to the book you want.
From Kindle
What really separates the Kindle from Sony's reader is the ability to download books without a computer. In less then a minute, you can go to the store, pick the book, and have it downloaded onto your device. And there's a huge amount of books already available (unfortunately, there's not many magazines). You also have the option of previewing as many books as you can fit; the previews usually contain about 20 to 50 pages, which is enough to help you know if the book is worth reading.
From Kindle
From Kindle

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oprah's Favorite Thing is My Favorite Thing Too!

Those of you who didn't hear, Oprah picked the Amazon Kindle as her new favorite thing in the world. I happen to agree; last week I got a royalty check that was quite a bit more then expected and I decide sense I never really bought anything with my advance that I would splurge and buy myself a Kindle and my wife a phone (the Nokia E71). I'm impressed. Very impressed. It's not just the books that make this thing so's the stuff that comes with it (like free Internet (albeit slow Internet, but free nonetheless).

This blog has been pretty dead for a week (sorry about that), but I hope to spend at least a couple days going over some of the features. I had previously said that the price tag is much too much (something I still agree with), but I believe very much that this thing is the future, and I'm going to show you why soon.

If you want a Kindle now, then don't forget to put in the OPRAHWINFREY coupon code when you check out for 50 dollars off that purchase (so $309 instead of $369).

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Genius That Was David Foster Wallace

David Lipsky wrote a profile of David Foster Wallace in the October 30 issue of Rolling Stone (Issue 1064). It is by far the most in dept profile of the author and his darkness that I've read. An excerpt of the piece can be found here, but it's worth taking the time to read the entire story.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, October 17, 2008

Did Indiana Jones Pull Out the Hancock?

You’ll recall earlier that I made a reference to “Pulling a Hancock” (which is the point when a good movie becomes bad…sort of like “Jump the Shark” when a good TV show becomes bad); someone commented that it was actually called “Nuke the Fridge” (a reference to when the latest Indiana Jones movie went from good to bad).

I was eager to see it for two reasons: one, because I enjoyed the first three movies, and two, I wanted to see if indeed did “Nuke the Fridge.” I finally had a chance to see it, and am ready to give my thoughts.

First things first, Indiana was bad, but nowhere near as bad as Hancock. It’s bad. At one point Shai LaBeouf was literally swinging through trees on vines; and the aliens in the plot had potential, but it just never carried through. The whole movie was full of bad clichés and even worse jokes. But let me stress—it’s not as bad as Hancock. Nor is that Nuke the Fridge scene where a good movie becomes bad—the movie is consistently bad.

Despite the silliness at times of the movie, I could actually see LaBeouf going on to make a whole spin-off of Indiana films, which, I’m sure, is exactly what Lucas and company is planning on.

Unlike Hancock, which outright angered me, I was perfectly fine with the cheesiness of Indiana; it’s a summer action flick—I want to enter the theater and be entertained, not enlightened. It had good action sequences, so I can’t complain that it didn’t do what I thought it should have. It just had an overall lameness that made it hard to come even close to the original movies, but it at least kept me entertained.

So I’m sticking with “Pulling a Hancock” on this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber?

Was anyone else sick of hearing about Joe the Plumber last night in the Presidential debate? I was sick to the point that I wanted to find out who poor ol Joe actually is. Turns out he actually he's A.) not a licensed plumber B.) Obama's tax plan has nothing to do with him...yet; Joe the plumber is just worried that he might eventually be affected if his business takes off.

What's most interesting about Joe, however, is the gossip around him...namely that he very well could be related to Charles Keating, who was involved in a banking scandal in the eighties and has ties to McCain. Apparently, Keating's son-in-law is Robert Wurzelbacher, who was involved with another banking scandal that he served 40 months for. What's mighty Joe's last name? Wurzelbacher. I wouldn't make the connection if his last name was Smith, but how many Wurzelbacher's are there in Ohio?

So is Joe really just a poor guy hoping to achieve the American dream? Or is he McCain's tool?

The Standard

My list of top five best hotels has a new addition, and no, it's not Circus, Circus (although that is a fine hotel). It is the Standard in Los Angeles. Diana and I stayed there on the last leg of our vacation, because we did not want to drive back to Orange County after the New Kids on the Block concert.

I wasn't expecting much from the hotel; I had been there briefly, but only to the roof top bar (which is a most to checkout if you're in the downtown area), and it looked trendy, but I didn't imagine the rooms to be anything more then something you'd see at a Holiday Inn.

Below is my picture tour of the hotel that now ranks number three on my list of great ones...

The bed was a on a platform, so it was basically 12 inches off the ground. Notice in the background there's glass windows...that's the shower! So when you take a shower, you stare right into the bedroom.

Part of what made the hotel so cool was the ironic, comedic little things throughout the this condom! Talk about instructions everyone could follow!

This is a fresh new roll of toilet paper! Again...great instructions!

The top floor of the hotel is open to the public in the day (I think there's a charge at night). These water beds are great for reading a book!
You can't stay in a great hotel without a beautiful lady!

My new favorite shirt!
More lodge seating on the top floor.
I'd love to see what this roof top floor looks like in an earthquake.

And FYI, what is my current list of top five hotels? They are as follows:

1. Waldorf Astoria - New York, NY
2. The Palace Hotel - San Francisco, CA
3. The Standard - Los Angeles, CA
4. Jeremiah Essex House - New York, NY
5. Century Plaza - Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Orleans - A Picture Tour

Here's the official picture tour of our side trip down to New Orleans (with a bit of Baton Rouge mixed in)

This is probably the most New Orleans picture we took! Black guy with cane, cap and suit! You don't get anymore iconoclastic then that! (Okay, so we cheated, this was actually in Baton Rouge)

I was expecting Bourbon street to be more's nothing next to the red light district in Paris and Amsterdam.

The old state capital of Louisiana (in Baton Rouge); I felt like I had been transported to England.

Rain and churches make the best pictures!

If you're in New Orleans this is the bookstore to check out. It's on Pirate's Alley, right of to the side of that cathedral in the picture above, and it's where Faulkner stayed when he lived in the city. Rumor has it, he would sit drunk on the balcony and throw things at the nuns at the church next door.

French donuts are amazing! Please open a Cafe Du Monde in Orange County....

Outside the National World War II museum...I honestly didn't know we had a WWII museum, but we do and it's in New Orleans.

They had awesome propaganda posters inside the museum...can you imagine having this kind of stuff around the city as part of America's effort to fight the war on terror?!

The highlight of the New Orleans trip...a swamp tour about 30 miles North of the city.

Apparently all that mossy green stuff was not always there; after Katrina the swamp had no way to drain into the lake; they're hoping to have engineers open it back up once they're done making repairs on the city.

The question most people have asked is can you still see the effects of Katrina...this is one example of yes. The population of New Orleans is still not anywhere close to what it was before, and it was pretty common to see homes boarded up and completely abandoned. Anyone you talked to had a story of loss. With any luck more organizations will sponsor conferences in the city, because that's what they need.