Homer's Travels: September 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

TV: Heroes vs. Jericho

On Tuesday I watched Heroes (on tape - the show airs on Monday). This is the second new show of the season that I was interested in - the other being Jerico. Have seen both, I have to say that Heroes is the most interesting. Heroes is a story of ordinary people who develop superpowers. I was surprised that the show started with a text scroll explaining that these people would join forces to stop some unnamed catastrophe. This was a lot more information then I expected to receive in the first episode. I thought it would be more like last years "Surface " or "Invasion " which dribbled out the clues so slowly that I lost interest before the end of the first season. The first episode of Heroes introduced us to five superpower endowed people: A Chearleader who appears to be immortal as all her wounds heal instantly, a Japanese corporate man who can control the passage of time and can teleport, a painter who can see the future, a man who can fly, and a single mother you has an unknown power that has something to do with mirrors but has not been totally revealed yet. We are also introduced to the good guy - an Indian geneticist whose father may have known about the emerging super powered people - and the villain - a man hunting down the good guys and who appears to be the father of the un-killable cheerleader. There is a compelling story, an intriguing mystery, and just the right amount of humor. The pace of revelation is fast - similar to the second season of Lost.

Jericho is another story. The pace, after two episodes, is closer to the Surface or Invasion model. The show follows the town of Jericho, Kansas after a nuclear attack on the USA. The inhabitants of this small town are cut off from the world and are not fully aware of what has happened in the world outside of their town. The second episode, about the town preparing for the radioactive fallout from the blast in Denver, is not completely scientifically sound and the rest of the story was not compelling enough for me to suspend my disbelief. They say in the episode that weather from Denver usually arrives to Jericho in two hours. This is said about 10-12 hours after the blast was observed. This means that the fallout should have arrived in the middle of the night eight hours before they realized it was on its way. Oops. Now, two episodes are a small sample and I intend to watch more before I decide to continue watching or to hit the O-F-F switch, but it is not looking good at this early stage.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blogs of Friends & Family

I've added a list of links to friends and family Blogs to the sidebar on the right. The first is "A Philosopher in a Tree." This blog is written by one of the wife's friends from her old job. He is spending a year in China teaching English. A very interesting read.

The other two, "
Many Highways" and "NYC.Photo.BLOG," are written/photographed by the wife's godson. Some of his photos are awesome. One even got published in a German magazine.

Give them a look-see. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Santa Monica Pier

Our next little adventure will be a roadtrip, if a 50 mile trip can be called a roadtrip, to the world famous Santa Monica Pier. I have lived in the Oxnard area for 19 years now and I have never been to the Santa Monica Pier. Some of you may remember the Pier from the movie Titanic. Near the end of the movie, once she was rescued, Kate Winslet goes to the Santa Monica Pier. I have driven by it and have seen it at a distance but this weekend we will drive down and give it a proper visit. We are planning to drive down, have some lunch, and sightsee before heading back. We're also going to visit a few garden shops on the way back. We pass them every time we drive down highway 1 through Malibu but have never stopped. I'll let you know how it goes and will post some pictures.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dirty Colored Plastic Critters

A while back - not sure how long ago - maybe before we married or soon thereafter, the wife and I were walking through some nondescript parking lot when one of us reached down and picked up a monkey. You know, one of those monkeys from the "Barrel Of Monkeys " game. I think it was the wife who picked it up and gave it to me as a gift - the old bean isn't as good as it used to be - CRS. Anyway, from that point on, it sat on the dash of my old Honda Accord and was christened the Dirty Red Plastic Monkey. We used to joke about it every now and then. The wife and I always have some little inside joke running between us. It changes periodically. I think the godson understands what I am talking about (WOO HOO, WOO HOO HOO).

The old Honda got traded in for a newer 2001 Honda Accord and the Dirty Red Plastic Monkey left the dash and ended up in the desk drawer - a sad fate for the little fella.

A week or so ago, as we were leaving our local favorite restaurant, Pirates Grub n Grog , when the wife reached down and picked up a Dirty Green Plastic Worm and gave it to me. I can't say she never gives me anything. I don't think the Dirty Green Plastic Worm will ever replace the Dirty Red Plastic Monkey. Your first Dirty Colored Plastic Critter always has a special place in your heart. Besides, the face on the Dirty Green Plastic Worm is downright evil looking. The eyebrows are all sinister. The Dirty Red Plastic Monkey is all happy and cheerful - full of youthful innocence.

This beckons for a haiku:
Dirty Red Plastic Monkey
Dirty Green Plastic Worm replaces you
To the drawer you are banished

What does this have to do with anything? I haven't the foggiest idea. I'm just in a weird mood. If you didn't think I was crazy before, you do now!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Feat of Endurance

Homer, the grand-dog, shook the wife's hand 30 times ... in a row! Earned himself a tasty treat.

Now I'm in trouble!

Yesterday I let more of my family and friends in on my Blog. Before yesterday, only my Mom and the wife's godson knew of the blog. Now that more people are reading ...THE PRESSURE! HA! The mother-in law called today and talked to the wife. She said she liked the blog and she wanted to know where we are going next. AAH! I don't know!! HA! Our adventures tend to come and go in spurts. The last month has been busier then usual. We both keep our eyes and ears open for new things to do. This is a departure for us actually. We tend to be homebodies. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but in less then two years we will be leaving California and it would be a shame to realize after we left that we had missed a treasure or two.

Most of the comments I have received about Homer's Travels has been positive. I'm surprised - I'm not the best writer and my life is pretty ordinary - I figured it would be boring. Then again, they are all family and if it were boring I doubt they would tell me.

Most of my posts will probably be done on the weekends. I have found that my writing really suffers after a long day at work. I think my brain shuts down when I get home.

I think the wife and I will go out now and get some supper.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

TV: What we watch ... How we waste our time

The wife and I are couch potatoes. Our main form of evening entertainment is watching the boob-tube. Here is our idiot box viewing schedule:


  • America's Funniest Home Videos - ABC - My guilty pleasure. What is it about whacks to the crotch that are so funny? I do not know.
  • The Amazing Race - CBS - We love our so-called reality shows. This one is our favorite because of all the locations they race to and the personality conflicts that occur.


  • Heroes - NBC - This show hasn't started yet but the premise sounds interesting.
  • Anthony Bourdaine: No Reservations - Travel - A food/travel show hosted by Anthony Bourdaine, an irreverent ex-heroin addict, ex-drunk, chef from New York. What isn't there to love.


  • Eureka - SciFi - a comedy/drama science fiction show I've mentioned before is still holding my interest.


  • Jericho - CBS - A new show this season. A potentially interesting story line. Feels like Lost. I'm giving it a shot.
  • Lost - ABC - The new shows start soon. I love this show but I have no idea where it's going and that may be a problem. The pleasure iof this show is that you are trying to solve the mystery. If the writers are not moving towards a definite endgame then all the speculation is bogus and I would be very disappointed.
  • America's Next Top Model - CW - Yeah, I know. A very guilty pleasure. I think the wife likes it more then me but I'm still there beside her when it's on.
  • Project: Runway - Bravo - Yep, more so-called reality junk. The wife and I enjoy this stuff for some reason.


  • Survivor - CBS - Not as good as it has been in the past but still watchable.


  • Doctor Who - SciFi - Quirky British science fiction. I watched the old episodes back in college. The new ones are fun too. British humor is hard to follow sometimes and the special effects often suck but I still enjoy it. The new season starts in a week.
  • Battlestar Galactica - SciFi - The best show on TV today. The new season starts in two weeks. I can't wait. I am sure I will write more about this once the season starts.

Saturday: Nothing - yes, nothing. Oh, the TV is on but we just watch random stuff.

We watch a lot of other junk as well but it's not worth mentioning. In our house, during the week, the TV turns on at around 3:30 PM and stays on until 9:00 PM. Between the shows listed above are little chunks of news, HGTV, Discover, and Travel Channel. Any shows that are on after 9:00 PM are recorded and watched the next day. The reason we record things is because we are usually in bed reading by 9:00 PM. Pretty disgusting I guess but we both get up early (5:20 AM for me and 6:00 AM for the wife).

All in all, I've listed 12 hours of TV a week. Sometimes I feel guilty about watching all this drivel. Hasn't stopped me from doing it though. I then complain about not having enough time to read ... sigh

Ruminations about the Blog so far

For my 20th post of Homer's Travels, I am going to take a look back at what I have done so far. A theme has emerged from my entries. The general theme of the Blog has evolved into being about our activities and travels. When I started this blog I was trying to find a way to let may family and friends know what was up with the wife and I. As I wrote, though, I have tried to keep things relatively anonymous. I am a little paranoid about revealing who I am to the general public. Homer's Travels is public and anyone can read it. The result is that I am unable to really get personal enough to keep the family fully informed. I don't mention names so it is hard to talk about family. I do not post pictures that have the wife or me in them. This may change in the future - we'll see.

The wife finally actually read the blog this week and she was pleasantly surprise - as was I - that she liked it. She thought the entries sounded like me and she liked the fact that there was a theme, however loose, running through the blog. She did point out the fact that this entry really didn't belong as it was kind of shocking compared with the other entries. I agree. Visiting the doctor seemed, at the time, to fit that mandate of keeping the family informed but It doesn't seem to fit anymore. No more doctor visit entries. If I think a doctor's visit or something equally personal needs to be shared, I will share it via e-mail.

I am going to start adding entries on some of our pre-blog vacations such as Alaska, Glacier, Hawaii, Mexico, and others. These entries will fill in when my regular life hits a slow patch. Slow patches, unfortunately, are all too common.

Here's a question: Should I advertise on my Blog? Obviously, I don't want to sell things to my family and friends but I have noticed some random visitors on my blog statistics and if I could sell something to them then I could probably earn enough spare change to buy a stick of gum or something. Let me know either in the comments or in an e-mail if you think I should add advertisements to Homer's Travels.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Madonnari, the Mission, and Cambria

We made it to the I Maddonari festival in San Luis Obispo on Sunday. We fueled up at Denny's before we set out on the road. We arrived at the old Mission a couple hours later. The chalk artwork was a little disappointing. The quantity and quality just didn't live up to what we saw at last year's Santa Barbara I Madonnari. I guess Santa Barbara has a larger artist community.

We did have a chance to visit the mission. The wife and I have now visited four of the California Missions. We want to visit all of them before we return to the mid-west. More on this in a later post.

Cambria was as cool as ever. We ate tri-tip sandwiches at the Main Street Grill, did a little shopping, and just looked around. The fish at right are from a public bathroom. A nice artsy touch. We try to visit Cambria at least twice a year. Its a nice drive and it gets us out of the house. Topped the visit off with some ice cream (chocolate chip cookie dough) before we headed back.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Arrival of Autumn and the Football Widower

Fall arrived different this year. I swear, it was like flicking a switch on Labor Day - ZAP BAM BIFF! - Fall was here. The temperature is starting to drop, it gets dark like right now, the sun doesn't come up til like noon, and the leaves are dropping like ... some bad metaphor.

One other thing that happens this time of year is that I become a football widower. My wife, as some of you may know, is a hardcore Notre Dame fan. She builds this little shrine on one of the speakers next to the TV, puts an ND neckerchief on the Homer, and then proceeds to yell, whoop, and D'OH! - scaring the poor dog upstairs all Saturday afternoon. I am not much of a sports fan. A little odd I suppose - a sexual stereotype role reversal kind of thing. Now I am not against joining the wife watching her games but, you see, I am not welcome. I have been to three ND games - two at USC, one at ND. ND lost every one of those games so now I am a pariah. I guess it's balanced out by the wife not watching Battlestar Galactica with me.

Football worship also means we go nowhere as a couple on Saturdays. I guess I don't mind this too much. I spend Saturday doing my household chores and stuff like that.

P.S. ZAP and BIFF are in Google's spell check but BAM is not - what the heck?!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Music: Rilo Kiley & Jenny Lewis

After attending the Revenge of the Book-Eaters Benefit, I decided to explore Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis.

I purchased Rilo Kiley's latest album, "more adventurous" and gave it a spin. I am impressed. Very catchy tunes with interesting, if somewhat twisted, lyrics written By Jenny Lewis. I recommend it. At the risk of sounding political, something I am trying to avoid in Homer's Travels, I will quote a portion of the lyrics from the first song, "It's a Hit", lyrics by Jenny Lewis:
"Any chimp can play human for a day.
Use his opposable thumbs to iron his uniform
and run for office on election day
fancy himself a real decision maker
and deploy more troops than salt in a shaker.

But it's a jungle when war is made,
and you'll panic and throw your own shit at the enemy.
The camera pulls back to reveal your true identity.
Look, it's a sheep in wolf's clothing.
A smoking gun holding ape."
Remind you of anyone?

I also bought Jenny Lewis' solo album "Rabbit Fur Coat." Actually it's Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins. Unsurprisingly, the CD is packed with catchy melodies and twisted lyrics since Jenny Lewis wrote these songs as well (all except "Handle With Care" - a Traveling Wilburys' song). I enjoyed this CD. Possibly a little quirkier then Rilo Kiley but, anyone who knows me, I like quirky. Quirky is a good friend of mine. Rabbit Fur Coat has its quirky moments.

I was worried when I bought this albums. I was worried there would be only one or two songs that I liked. This has happen too many times in the past. But I was lucky this time. Both are to my liking - very satisfying.

I Madonnari - San Luis Obispo

This Sunday we will be driving up to San Luis Obispo to see the I Madonnari chalk street paintings. Last year we went to the Santa Barbara I Madonnari festival and we were really impressed with the chalk artwork. I will take the camera and see if I can get s a picture or two to post. If we have time, we will probably continue on to Cambria, a small artsy town about an hour north of San Luis Obispo that we visit regularly - sometimes just to look, sometimes to buy. I think we have taken all our guests there, usually on the way back from Hearst Castle that is only 6 miles further north. Here are a couple of pictures from last year Santa Barbara I Madonnari.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What Book Are You?

Take the quiz and find out what book represents you.

I am Dune! by Frank Herbert

You have control over a great wealth of resources, but no one wants to
let you have them. You've decided to try to defend yourself, but it may take eons before
you really get back what you feel you deserve. Meanwhile you have a cult-like following
of minions waiting for your life to progress. This would all be even more exciting if you
could just get the sand out of your eyes.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A visit to the Doctor's Office

Earlier this year, I developed a small lump on the back of my neck. The doctor said he thought ot was a fatty cyst. About three weeks ago the lump grew from marble size to golf ball size and began to hurt. Turns out it is a Sebaceous Cyst which usually are harmless but can become inflamed and painful - like mine. The Doctor drained the fluid and packed the hole with gauss to keep it open to allow drainage and sent me home. I will be going back tomorrow to have the packing changed.



"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary
Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, September 10, 2006

TV: Eureka - SciFi Network

I spent Saturday watching 7 episodes of the SciFi Channels show "Eureka." It's pretty good. It's no Battlestar Galactica or Lost but is is entertaining in a nerdy sort of way. I suspect it won't gain the following like other shows and will die an early death. It's a SciFi drama with some comedy elements. It's a cop/fish-out-of-water show that sometimes comes down with a case of technobabble (a condition every Star Trek fan is quite familiar with). That will probably be it's downfall. The nerdy story lines will drive away the non-geek and the shallow techno jargon will turn-off the geek. The result is no audience and a cancellation after first season. Will this stop me from watching? Probably not. My many years of watching Star Trek has thickened my skin against badly written tech storylines and nerdy material fuels my imagination.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Peru - Uros Boat

Sometimes, its the simple things that are important. When we visited the floating Islands of the Uros, as we were getting ready to leave, we were given a small reed boat necklace as a parting gift. It is a very simple gift - nothing fancy or expensive. It is not even unique since all twenty of us received one. But for some reason, that small boat meant more to me then all the other treasures we bought in Peru. Maybe it was the altitude - Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,507 feet. Maybe I was tired of the non-stop traveling we had experienced over the last 10 days. Maybe I'm just weird. That little boat, which now hangs from my desk lamp, represents the awesome memories I collected of our 2006 vacation and will always have a special meaning for me.

People have asked me why I had such a great vacation, what made it so memorable? I don't have an adequate answer. I've thought about it and I just can't put my finger on it. My memories have that dreamy, happy glow to them. Even the bad spots, and there are always bad spots, are remembered fondly. I returned from that trip with a new outlook on life - I want to travel more and experience more. For some weird reason, I feel new.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Peru - Sin Gas

When I went to Cancun and Mexico City back in 2003, I had the misfortune of getting Montezuma's Revenge. Actually, since I probably got it near Chitzen Itza, I probably had the Mayan Trots. Anyway, when we went to Peru, I wanted to make sure that I didn't come down with anything that might ruin my experience. I had my Imodium and I was carrying Cipro but it turned out that I didn't need them. I credit the Sin Gas. For those who may not be familiar with spanish, Sin Gas has nothing to do with Christian misdeeds. Sin Gas simply means without gas i.e. non carbonated bottled water. The other option was Con Gas. So you could be a sinner or a con man - we all had a little laugh about drinking Sin Gas. I also credit the great hotels we stayed at. They made sure that everything was clean and safe for our weak american intestines. A few in our group weren't as careful but, all in all, we made out pretty well.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Peru - Birthday Llama

I had my 43rd birthday while I was in Peru. I started the day getting up at 4:30 am and catching a flight to Cusco. After arriving in Cusco, we took a bus to a market in the town of Pisac, our Hotel in Yucay for lunch, and finally a visit to the ruins at Ollataytambo. Our guide in Lima (and Nazca and Paracas as well) was on the ball and, having seen my birth date on my passport, arranged a small celebration in Paracas the night before. We celebrated my birthday with a gift and cake. My birthday was shared by a fellow traveler (from Sioux City, Iowa) who had a birthday three days earlier. Our gifts were crystal and silver Llama figurines - very cool. The Chocolate tort was very yummy as well. Everyone sang happy birthday but, since not everybody knew each other's first names, when it got to the part of the song where your name was suppose to be inserted, the song became a mumble, which made everyone laugh.

Peru -That's not a Simon and Garfunkel song!

On our second day in Peru we took a bus down to Ica where we were going to fly over the Nazca lines. Since our plane was not ready, we stopped at a nearby resort to have lunch. While we were eating, the musicians started playing a song on their flutes that sounded like a Simon and Garfunkel song. After that, everywhere we went I heard the same Simon and Garfunkel song. It was driving me crazy. Someone was even whistling it at the Gate of the Sun at Machu Piccu. I wanted to hear Peruvian music but instead I got Simon and Garfunkel. We were all laughing about it after hearing it repeated so many times. Finally, while taking a boat ride on Lake Titicaca, I heard the song again and it occurred to me that maybe Simon and Garfunkel 'borrowed' the melody from Peru. When I got back home, I did some investigating and , sure enough, the song, "El Cóndor Pasa", is based on a Peruvian musical play.

Makes me smile just thinking about the misplaced frustration I felt listening to that song. But then, everything about Peru makes me smile. What a great vacation.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Book: Jared Diamond's Collapse

The latest book I've read is ""Collapse" by Jared Diamond. The book attempts to explain why some civilizations die while others thrive. Essentially, he posits that environmental decay resulting from both man-made and natural causes is the primary cause of civilization collapse. This sounds like a major oversimplification to me. Then again, I am not an anthropologist and my opinion may be useless.

I read Mr. Diamond's previous book, "Guns, Germs and Steel". That book was interesting but very dry and difficult to read at times. Collapse is written in a more readable style but, near the end, started to dry out too.

All in all, I enjoyed it.