Monday, December 31, 2007

Nico wants to move to Iowa.

I am certain there are worse places to live than Iowa, though I cannot think of any at the moment. Why would anyone want to move to Iowa? For the caucuses, man.

This description (from wikipedia) sounds frighteningly like a Rainbow event.

The process used by the Democrats is more complicated than the Republican Party caucus process. Each precinct divides its delegate seats among the candidates in proportion to caucus goers' votes.

Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site (forming a "preference group"). An area may also be designated for undecided participants. Then, for roughly 30 minutes, participants try to convince their neighbors to support their candidates. Each preference group might informally deputize a few members to recruit supporters from the other groups and, in particular, from among those undecided. Undecided participants might visit each preference group to ask its members about their candidate.

After 30 minutes, the electioneering is temporarily halted and the supporters for each candidate are counted. At this point, the caucus officials determine which candidates are "viable". Depending on the number of county delegates to be elected, the "viability threshold" can be anywhere from 15% to 25% of attendees. For a candidate to receive any delegates from a particular precinct, he or she must have the support of at least the percentage of participants required by the viability threshold. Once viability is determined, participants have roughly another 30 minutes to "realign": the supporters of inviable candidates may find a viable candidate to support, join together with supporters of another inviable candidate to secure a delegate for one of the two, or choose to abstain. This "realignment" is a crucial distinction of caucuses in that (unlike a primary) being a voter's "second candidate of choice" can help a candidate.

When the voting is closed, a final head count is conducted, and each precinct apportions delegates to the county convention. These numbers are reported to the state party, which counts the total number of delegates for each candidate and reports the results to the media. Most of the participants go home, leaving a few to finish the business of the caucus: each preference group elects its delegates, and then the groups reconvene to elect local party officers and discuss the platform.

The delegates chosen by the precinct then go to a later caucus, the county convention, to choose delegates to the district convention and state convention. Most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are selected at the district convention, with the remaining ones selected at the state convention. Delegates to each level of convention are initially bound to support their chosen candidate but can later switch in a process very similar to what goes on at the precinct level; however, as major shifts in delegate support are rare, the media declares the candidate with the most delegates on the precinct caucus night the winner, and relatively little attention is paid to the later caucuses.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wine Country Christmas

(The pictures do not adequately capture how cold it was.)

I would like to start off by pointing out that I was going to Healdsburg before it was popular. Here's a photo I snapped from the bike (stopped) on a road we were riding on somewhere just outside of Healdsburg.

It was not quite Chianti scenic, but not bad for the weekend budget (and for winter).

So we're riding along, in 39 degree weather (have I ever mentioned that I'm not much for cold weather cycling gear), and we pass by Lambert Bridge Winery. The billows of smoke emanating from the chimney were enough to draw me in.

$10 to taste their non-reserve (and rather mediocre) wines. They pour in Riedel stems; I was impressed only until we went to Ridge and dinner, where we also drank from Riedels.

A few Napa highlights:

1) Hagafen Cellars: The guys pouring wine in the tasting room were not that interested in talking to me about the Koshering process...most likely because there were two couples who looked far more Jewish than Nicole and me (and my Kaiser friend Nam). As far as I know, Hagafen is the only winery in the Valley open on Christmas.

2) Winston Hill Cabernet at Frank Family Vineyards: There are not too many places in Napa that will let you taste a $125 bottle of wine without charging you (unless you are somebody important...or at least with somebody important). They do have to be in the mood to pour the expensive stuff for you.

3) Vino Bello Resort: Part of the Meritage Resort...I guess it's a timeshare, but nobody tried to sell us anything while we were there. Pretty close to staying in a vineyard, without being in an old creeky house. Here's the view from our room:

This one is back in Sonoma. I shall title it: "Michael and Nephew".

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter Storm 2008

If you have ever lived anywhere with real weather, you probably wonder how a little rain can make so much news in Sunny California.

Rain began pelting parts of Southern California early today as a fierce winter storm from the Pacific Northwest moved in ahead of schedule, triggering fears that recent wildfires may have left the region susceptible to flash flooding.

With a forecast like that, I felt confident telling my boss I would run the Irvine half marathon with him...just as long as it was not raining. Sadly, there was no rain on Saturday morning, and before I was fully awake, I found myself running a half marathon. For anyone who has been considering running a half marathon: If you are not in shape, a half marathon is not a whole lot easier than running a whole marathon.

I slowed the boss down a little, but we still turned in pretty respectable times.

Next up: Los Angeles (eh?), or the District of Colombia. Do I dare try two in the same month?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Better Than Crack

Nico will likely tell me that nobody uses crack anymore, and I should come up with a better title for this post. However, "Better Than Meth" just does not have the same ring to it...also, I have this suspicion that freebasing is still popular, but that it is just too expensive for the kids in her 'hood.

Back to the point, my Chrismukkah present to myself:

We stayed at several hotels in Italy that had these "one-touch" cappuccino machines. This one (made by Delonghi for Nespresso) will make espresso, espresso lungo, cappuccino, or latte with almost no effort. I'll post a full review at a later date. So far, I everything it has made me has been excellent, though the cappuccino comes out a little cold for my (American) taste.

(As an aside, I had to go to pharmacy school to figure out what freebasing actually meant. Later, when I get my customery withdrawal headache, I am going to freebase some naproxen. Shoot, freebase naproxen is prescription only.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The One With the Dancing Turkey

Alternate title was: "I told you not to stop the sleigh"

Nico made these Cornish game hens this year instead of turkey. So I get to thinking, what could be better than filming a Cornish game hen for my very first stop motion animation movie? You know, in the spirit of other holiday films such as A Pack of Gifts, Now. Unfortunately, if my digital camera is capable of shooting stop motion animation, I would have to read the manual to figure it out. Fortunately, I have the next best thing...if you are reading this at work, why not turn the volume up really loud?

In other Thanksgiving news, both of my parents made it over to join us for Cornish game hens. Here's my father (I believe making his first Takealotofdrugs appearance) at the Newport Back Bay.

I shot this picture on time delay (with a 6 inch tall tripod stationed on our fondue pot).

And finally, my dancing Cornish game hen right before I ate him. I know, I have become more of a failed vegetarian (rather than the struggling vegetarian that I tell people I am), but it is impossible to get Nicole to make a Tofurkey.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tate, I cannot afford your usual and customary fee, but if you help me come up with a name for our new computer system, I will split the $250 prize with you. I would like a name that says: "This pharmacy computer system was not designed in 1981".

Win $$$ in our
"Name the Project" Contest
Announcing the RxExpress Replacement Project
Submit your ideas at the link below

The time has come! RxExpress ~ the software used today to support Mail Service Operations, Customer Service, Order and Inventory Management and Accounts Receivable for multiple mail service locations ~ is being replaced with a state-of-the-art system that will enhance users' day to day capabilities and be instrumental in supporting the rapid growth we expect to see in the future.

This project ensures Prescription Solutions is ready for our next level of growth within the PBM and Mail Service Operations and will give many of you who currently use RxExpress a more powerful tool to more easily perform your job functions.

All approvals for the launch have been secured and it's a "GO." But there is still one missing piece.

This crucial project doesn't have a name, and we need your help! Based on what we have told you about the new software enrichment, please send us your idea(s). Use your imagination to create a descriptive name and if your idea is chosen, you could win up to $250.

To submit your idea for a name, simply click on the link below to enter the naming contest. (If you create an acronym, please remember to spell it out.) In the subject line, please be sure to write "Name the Project". (Email submissions that do not include the words Name the Project will not be entered in the contest.) The contest will end November 30th.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I am the greatest pharmacist in the world.

Some of you did not believe it when I told you that I am one of America's top pharmacists. So now I have come back with proof:

Image Hosted by

Yes that's right, I correctly ascertained that 90 tablets of Nifediac CC is too much Nifediac CC to take in a single day. I did not even need the pharmacy computer system to alert me. That is how great I am.

And now, please excuse me. I must return to saving lives.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This just in:

All links pointing to dead blogs have been removed. For the purposes of this discussion, "dead" is defined as "no posts in the last 30 days". Sidearms, you were given a pass, as I am not sure what the computer situation is like in Baghdad (or wherever you are).

The rest of you: if you want your link back (and all the traffic that said link generates for you), feel free to make your case here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Impossible Dream...

I have this hotmail account (if you are really smart, you might be able to guess my email address), that became so overrun with spam (6 or 7 years ago), that I stopped using it. I get somewhere around 30 or 40 pieces of spam per day that are not blocked by hotmail's spam filter. I have no idea how much ends up in my junk folder...probably a couple hundred emails a day.

Anyway, I am starting an aggressive "unsubscribe" program. I shall attempt to unsubscribe from every junk sender that makes it into my inbox for the rest of November. I'll let you know if the account is usable again sometime in December.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stock up on auxiliary labels!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Image Hosted by
Headache pills increase chance of car crash, says study

Next time you take a headache tablet, take care on the roads. New research reveals that taking everyday drugs such as ibuprofen can increase the chances of a car crash by 50 per cent.

Other pills are even worse. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health matched prescription drug use with road accidents among about three million people. They looked at seven groups of commonly prescribed drugs including natural opium alkaloids such as codeine and morphine, benzodiazepine tranquillisers, anti-asthmatic drugs and penicillin.

During the research period, 79 per cent of the men and women had drugs on prescription. Among those involved in an accident as driver, 82 per cent had drugs on prescription. One theory is that some of the drugs may have a detrimental effect on the central nervous system.

"Further studies are needed to clarify a possible important central nervous system effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Nsaids, which include ibuprofen) on driving ability," say the researchers, whose study is based on 13,000 car accidents involving personal injury.

Those on prescription drugs had a 40 per cent increased risk. The risk was threefold for users of tranquillisers, 3.3 times for hypnotic benzodiazepines, and double for users of natural opium alkaloids. Smaller increases were found for Nsaids and asthmatics of up to 50 per cent, and for penicillin, 10 per cent.

Anyone else think that maybe those suffering from headaches or syphilis are worse drivers than those not so afflicted?

Friday, October 26, 2007

I have shot my monkey, Klaus, into space, because art is dead.

The guy on the channel 9 news said we should have an inventory of our case the place burns down. Our fireproof safe is only fireproof for 30 minutes (and there is no way I am running into a burning building to save a copy of my birth certificate), so I thought I would post my vast inventory of wealth right here, like a Soviet display of force.

Our art collection seemed to be the natural place to start, as one of the artists had recently asked me for photos of her work. Hopefully, somebody will ask me for a picture of my stereo or couch before the next fire.

Duality--Painted by a starving Romanian artist, the frame was far more expensive than the painting.

Boats on the _______(?)--Can't remember the name of this one. Painted by a more prolific Romanian artist, the painting was slightly more expensive than the frame.

Fish--Or was that "Fishy"? A signed J. Kwon original, notice the abstract nature of the orange betta swimming in green water.

Untitled--A signed J. Kwon original, sometimes referred to as "Naked Woman". I have been thinking of naming her: "Spring Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or possibly: "See My Breasts".

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All this fire has made me thirsty. I've been thinking of switching martinis. Here's the Official Bond Martini (from Casino Royal).
'A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet.'

'Oui, monsieur.'

'Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'

'Certainly, monsieur.' The barman seemed pleasant with the idea.

'Gosh that's certainly a drink,' said Leiter.

Bond laughed. 'When I'm ... er ... concentrating.' he explained, 'I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name.'

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

'Excellent,' he said to the barman, 'but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.'

Back to the fires: No, we are in no danger from the Great OC Fire of '07...except for all the smoke that's been blowing our way. I cannot believe there are people outside my building smoking in all this smoke.

Friday, October 05, 2007

To the best of my knowledge, in the history of American cinema, there has only been one movie with a joke involving Simchat Torah. Can anyone name the film? Hint: The joke is really only funny because: In the history of American cinema, there has only been one movie with a joke involving Simchat Torah.

P.S. The movie was likely written buy Ashkenazi Jews (the script might say Simchas Torah).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

35 in the new 25 (II).

That is so not true. Middle age sucks. Hmmmn, my post from a year ago was much funnier than today's. Am I suffering from a decline in mental acuity? Actually, I'm planning on living to 90, so maybe I am not quite middle aged yet....

Speaking of funny, my year-long efforts at a joke have been thwarted. Last January, I told the guy who was keeping track of such things that my birthday was on December 25th. (Hey, Jesus wasn't born on December 25th either, so what could be more christ-like than celebrating my birthday on Christmas?) Unfortunately, I only made it through 4 hours of work before someone leaked my secret. I do not understand how you women can keep track of my birthday. Do you have some secret computer program that reminds you of these things?
Accomplishment for the week:

I finally got the computer to display streaming video on my television. You are probably thinking that this is not much of an accomplishment...I should mention that my computer is over 5 years old, and had no video outputs (except for the monitor, if that counts as a video output). Sure, a lesser man may have used this as an opportunity to purchase a new computer. At any rate, I am now able to watch even more television.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

“We were definitely inspired by Danny Elfman and that kind of whimsical quality that he has,” Fuller says.

I am afraid I do not understand why you didn't just get Danny Elfman to score your TV show. In the history of movies/television, has Danny Elfman ever turned down a scoring opportunity?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Hebrew has gotten worse, but my Italian has gotten better.

Conversation with Larry, the tour mechanic during Kol Nidre services at the synagogue in Siena:

Larry: When is he going to do something I recognize?

Me: Ashamnu is coming up in a couple of pages.

Larry: Yeah, but they won't be doing my tune.

The rabbi actually spoke no Italian during the service; only rapid fire Hebrew. Later, we were told that there are only 50 Jews left in Siena, and only 5 show up regularly for services. Even on Kol Nidre, the busiest night of the year at US synagogues, we tourists were required to make a minyon.

Things were a little brighter in Florence, with their 800 Jews (and absolutely fabulous synagogue). The day school was apparently guarded by IDF soldiers. I wanted to talk to one of them, but they kept disappearing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Only 150 Euro for Alitalia (or was it Delta by then) to leave our bicycle in Atlanta.

The difference between heaven and hell...


The police are British
The chefs are French
The mechanics are German
The lovers are Italian
and it’s all organized by the Swiss!


The chefs are British
The mechanics are French
The police are German
The lovers are Swiss
and it’s all organized by the Italians!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm from a city. Doesn't make any difference what city; all cities are alike.

Alternative title was: "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

Ruins are cool, and all, but I did not care much for Rome. Too much traffic and too much graffiti.

Florence also had too much traffic and too much graffiti...and too damn much pornography. Here's a picture I like to call: "Nico with giant naked man (with small penis)".
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344 pictures, many of them blurry. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Old woman in Siena. I made her famous (people with better cameras decided to take the same picture after I shot this one). All the buildings in Siena lean up against each other--please notice the support arches crossing the alley at the top of the frame. Our tour guide in Volterra would have called these Etruscan arches, but in Siena they are Roman arches.

2) Rainbow over Ponte Vecchio (Florence). By the time I figured out how to adjust the camera for proper rainbow photography, the sun, the rain, and the rainbow had all disappeared.

3) Under the Tuscan moon, AKA: View from the roof of our hotel (Florence).

4) A short film I have titled: "Bicycling is for suckers". Really, for not that much more than a tandem tour of Italy, you can take a Ferrari tour of Italy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Forgive me if I don't post again for a couple of weeks...


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I am certain I will be getting in trouble over this...

I have been told that the key to effective management is to have absolutely no sense of humor; the risk of making any sort of joke is that some (or most) of your coworkers (anyone know a word for people you are, sort of, temporarily supervising?) will take everything you say seriously...most likely because they either 1) have no ability to recognize a jest, or 2) are accustomed to very stoic bosses.

P.S. Coworkers (and management): before you get offended by anything I have just written, I was not attempting to insult anyone's lack of a funny bone. The above post was meant as an explanation to the Mrs. about why I will likely never be running a large (or even small) company.
From: Lasko, Michael B
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 7:57 AM
To: xxxxxxx, xxxxx
Subject: RE:
My standard spiel starts off with telling them that most drugs are no longer manufactured in the US. I explain that the facilities, manufacturing process, and drugs are all FDA approved/inspected. If they are still concerned (which is everybody who bothered to call in the first place), I let them know that we do keep track of all the lot numbers that go through are pharmacy, so we’ll be able to alert them to any problems that might arise.
After that, my choices are:
1) Recommend they contact their congressman (or FDA) to complain
2) Imply that they are racist
3) Explain the many benefits of Indian produced drugs (such as lower risk of mad cow disease).
From: xxxxxxx, xxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 7:49 AM
To: Lasko, Michael B
Subject: Hi Lasko
What do you tell pts who have issues with the manuf Aurobindo which is based in India?
xxxxx xxxxxxx, Pharm D.
Rx Solutions
Consultant Pharmacist

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I have been suffering from achilles tendonitis since before the San Diego Marathon. Well, maybe suffering is not the correct's really more of an irritating discomfort I have been living with. But anyway, I have developed this irrational fear that my left achilles tendon is about to break. When an achilles tendon ruptures, the feeling is usually described as a sensation of being kicked in the back of the calf. Although I had been waiting patiently for this to happen to me since the SF Marathon, I was still quite surprised when a phantom kick knocked me down during yesterday morning's walk. "Nico will kill me if I can't bicycle in Italy," thought I.

Off I limped to the doctor, who assured me that my achilles tendons are still nice and tight. Bicycling in Tuscany is still allowed, though he recommended I get travel insurance...presumably to pay for the expensive Italian orthopedic surgeon I might have to see.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I often wonder: When did everybody around me learn Yiddish?

John Glenn brought the word to the English Language. Is there nothing he can't do?

Word History: Although glitch seems a word that people would always have found useful, it is first recorded in English in 1962 in the writing of John Glenn: "Another term we adopted to describe some of our problems was 'glitch.' " Glenn then gives the technical sense of the word the astronauts had adopted: "Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical current." It is easy to see why the astronauts, who were engaged in a highly technical endeavor, might have generalized a term from electronics to cover other technical problems. Since then glitch has passed beyond technical use and now covers a wide variety of malfunctions and mishaps.
Tuscany in Training (AKA T.I.T.)

Do those Team in Training people go by TNT? I wonder if they hired a branding consultant...

We picked the second hottest day of the year (Saturday) to bicycle from Newport Beach to San Diego. I always say I am never going to ride back from San Diego again, but I never listen. So we picked the hottest day of the year (Monday) to ride back.

All this riding because Bill McCready said we should be able to ride 100 miles flat or 70 miles with hills before next week's trip to Italy. Newport to San Diego is 90 something miles with a couple of decent hills. Hopefully, we will not be the slowest tandem in Italy.

Sorry this post has been boring. I bicycled 190 miles this weekend, and today I started working at 6:30 AM. I am in need of much beauty rest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Disclaimer: I would like to start off this post by writing that I am in no way an advocate of date rape...unless we're talking about the Sublime song.

I get a lot of junk email from the University of California, at Irvine. Maybe junk is not the correct term. Let's just say I get a lot of email from the University, that I really do not need to read, such as: firings of department heads I have never heard of, receptions ocurring at 10 AM (that nobody with a real job could possibly attend), and updates on ongoing legal problems at the Med Center.

Rarely, (we are talking about Irvine) these emails include warnings about recent crimes reported on campus. Even in Irvine, I suppose it would be good to know that you should use caution when walking to your car at night. However, I am nearly 100% confident that I will never, ever meet anyone at a party, invite him (or I guess preferably, her) back to my place of residence, thereby placing myself at risk for sexual assault. I'm just saying.

On August 25, 2007, at about 3 AM, a sexual assault was reported to
have occurred in an apartment in Vista Del Campo Building 624. The 21
year old suspect and the victim, both UCI students, had met earlier at
a party hosted by a mutual friend.

UC Irvine Police Officers responded to the area of the assault after
being called by the victim. The victim was interviewed and treated at
a local hospital. A search of the Vista Del Campo housing complex was
successful, resulting in the arrest of the suspect. The suspect was
transported to the UC Irvine Police Station for investigation and
booking procedures. He was later transported to Orange County Main
Jail and held on three felony sexual assault charges.

The suspect was released from Orange County Jail over the weekend
after posting bail. The incident is being reviewed by the Orange
County District Attorney's Office and locally by the UC Irvine Dean of
Students' Office. The sexual assault incident is an individual
event, and there is no known direct or additional threat to the UC
Irvine community.

This timely warning notice is being distributed to inform the UCI
community about a serious incident on campus and increase public

Paul Henisey
Chief of Police

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In addition to being a top pharmacist, I am also the top Michael says Google, at least. Do you have any idea how many times I have had to type "Michael Lasko" on this page to make this happen? Look's like I'm 6th for Michael B. Lasko. We'll keep working on that.
I'm sure you all know that I am one of America's Top Pharmacists. Evidently, I have much in common with the Drugnazi. I'm thinking it might be a bad idea to continue reading the Drugnazi's blog at work...

Monday, August 20, 2007

35 is the new 25.

Maybe it's my new sunglasses. (Have any of you noticed that my equipment get's a little better with each marathon)?

Or maybe it's the new disc brake I put on the tandem...

Either way, I can get the bike up to 35 MPH without feeling it at all (downhill, of course...I still feel 35 on flats).

Newport's best sunset, and Dine Out USA night #1.

For the best view of the setting sun in Newport Beach (and a mighty good martini), try the Back Bay Cafe. Less touristy than I would have imagined, and exactly as I remember from Blind Date.

Dine Out USA night #1 was at Sage Restaurant. Evidently my reservation was at Sage on the Coast. How embarrasing for me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steve Holt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Actually, I met this Steve Holt, evidently the above mentioned Steve Holt was named after this one. Steve Holt came by to audit my sailing class this evening. I only yelled: "Steve Holt!!!!!!!" once.

Marathon Tourism

Here's me near the end of the San Francisco Marathon. I look rather happy...probably because I have no more hills to run up. I had no idea there were so many hills in the City.

I will spare you the boring details of how difficult it was to get to San Francisco. The morale of the story is: If you are ever offered a trip to anywhere if you will take a later flight to San Francisco, take the trip to anywhere (and the later flight).

Things to do in San Francisco after running a marathon:
1) Look at the cable cars outside your hotel room.

2) Kill the pain with a martini served in a wooden cask.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I usually try to make my complaint letters funny, but I was rather angry about this one:

To whom it may concern: I am writing to express my deep dissatisfaction with my recent travel purchase using I have used Expedia for many purchases over the last several years, and have always been very happy with your service.

Yesterday, I purchased two round trip tickets from LAX to Rome (itinerary number 120620811764). I received confirmation that my tickets had been booked (Alitalia confirmation code: JPUZJA), as well as a follow up email confirmation. Nine hours later, I received an email stating that: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to process your request for an airline ticket." When I called your company to see what the problem was, I was told that the price had gone up, and the two tickets that I had booked for $972.60(business class) would now be $2371.40 (economy class). When I agreed to pay the $972.60 we entered into a contract...I understood that I could not make any changes to the contract (ie: canceling my flight) without paying a penalty; I assumed that your company understood it had agreed to the same thing. The Expedia promise( seems to indicate that your company understands this very well. I thought I was shopping, booking, and clicking with confidence. I would like to draw your attention to this line from your website: "We'll take responsibility, at no additional cost to you, if we make a mistake booking your travel." I have already booked the rest of my trip around this airfare purchase. I am certain that there is still plenty of room on the planes we had booked. I would greatly appreciate your booking these tickets at the originally agreed (and booked price).

Excerpt from the (long, boring) response from Bonnie Sharkey (assistant to Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO and President of Expedia, Inc):

This itinerary you intended on reserving was not allowed to be ticketed due to several problems in the booking path on your purchase. Reviews of the recorded path taken during purchase and creation of the itinerary reflect numerous errors occurring regarding both flight availability and pricing. The created flight record and itinerary were later rejected by our quality control teams and cancelled due to the noted error responses from the air carriers and our website. Some of the response you witnessed on your booking included: Select to check price, then showed a price of $4786.20
One of your flights is no longer available at this price
Please go back and select a different trip or try building your own trip flight by flight. You may also want to try changing your travel dates or times.
We're Sorry; We Had a Problem with Your Selected Flights
We're currently having difficulty confirming the price for your itinerary. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please try again later. If you need immediate assistance, please call us at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342) or 1-404-728-8787.

A reply from the office of the CEO/President is rather impressive. Ms. Sharkey, I saw none of these error messages when booking these tickets. Is this a form letter you sent me?

On the bright side, Expedia's agent for service of process is in Irvine. I will get you yet, Expedia.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My new career

Some of you may remember my strategy for a cheap hotel room.

I am actually even better at booking cheap airfare.

Here are the basics:

1) 70 days prior to your trip, check prices on expedia.

2) Check the individual airline sites directly for the two or three cheapest airlines on expedia. (did that make any sense to anybody but me?)

3) Repeat step 1 and 2 every 10 minutes until you have found an acceptable price. Yes, you can still sleep, but you should wake up at midnight and 1AM (for all Continental US time zones)...that's when unpaid reservations usually expire.

I suppose it helps to have a job where you sit in front of a computer all day, otherwise it probably is not worth the effort...even if you are able to book 2 round trip tickets to Rome (from LAX) for $486.30 each (tax and fees included). Did I mention that's for business class? Look at that, business class comes with access to airport VIP lounges in NY, Paris, and Rome.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New pet peeve: People who do not know the difference between PST and PDT.
Jeez, did Nicole write the directions for the Shimano Flight deck?

Follow up question: Why would I ever look at the thing when I wasn't riding?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This contract limits our liability, please read it. This parking pass LICENSES the holder to park ONE VEHICLE as directed. The University hereby declares itself NOT RESPONSIBLE for and assumes no liability arising from fire, theft, damage to or loss of the vehicle or any article left therein including but not limited to damage from trees. ONLY A LICENSE OF SPACE IS GRANTED HEREBY AND NO BAILMENT IS CREATED. Acceptance of this parking pass constitutes acknowledgement by holder that he or she has read and agrees to the provisions of the foregoing contract. Your PERMIT IS NOT VALID IN METERS. RESALE IS PROHIBITED AND NOT TRANSFERABLE.

As my lawyer friend is fond of saying: "Those parking tickets can't force me to read them..."

On that note:

At Hogsmeade, Harry and friends are cornered by Death Eaters and saved by Aberforth Dumbledore. Aberforth opens a secret passageway to Hogwarts, where Neville Longbottom greets them. Harry alerts the Heads of Houses at Hogwarts to Voldemort's imminent arrival and evacuation measures are implemented to ensure the younger students' safety, with the older ones able to stay and fight. After saving Draco Malfoy's life, Harry finds Ravenclaw's diadem in the room of requirement and it is destroyed. Hagrid is captured by acromantulas and later ends up a captive in the hands of the Death Eaters. Fred Weasley is killed by a Death Eater just after his estranged brother Percy Weasley comes back to reunite with his family. Harry, Hermione and Ron go to the Shrieking Shack, where they see Voldemort kill Snape, believing this will transfer the Elder Wand's power to him. As he dies, Snape gives up memories to Harry, which reveal that Snape was on Dumbledore's side, motivated by his lifelong love of Lily Potter. Snape was asked by Dumbledore to kill him if the situation demands it; the curse placed on the Horcrux ring limited Dumbledore's life, regardless. Resigned to his fate, Harry sacrifices himself to Voldemort, and is seemingly killed.

However, Harry awakens and meets the deceased Albus Dumbledore in what appears to be a deserted King's Cross station. Here, it is explained he cannot die whilst Voldemort lives since he used Harry's blood to recreate his body, and Lily's protection binds the two. It is unclear if he actually dies, or it is merely a dream. He discovers he was the final Horcrux and needed to die before Voldemort can be killed, finding that the spell destroyed the part of Voldemort's soul he had inside himself represented by a wounded dying creature. He also discovers Dumbledore himself sought the Hallows, with Grindelwald, for less than noble reasons - resulting in the death of his sister Ariana from neglect. Only Harry is worthy of possessing the Hallows. Harry is given the choice of "going on" or returning to try and stop Voldemort, which he decides to do.

Back in the forest, on Voldemort's orders, Hagrid carries Harry (seemingly dead) back to Hogwarts to much dismay and shock to those there. Bravely, Voldemort is faced down by Neville, who rejects his offer to join him and become a Death Eater. Voldemort then proceeds to torture Neville using the burning sorting hat - at that moment, the Centaurs attack. In the confusion, Harry covers himself with the invisibility cloak and Nagini, the last Horcrux, is killed by Neville using Gryffindor's sword pulled from the sorting hat. In the ensuing battle, Bellatrix is killed by Molly Weasley and Harry reveals himself to prevent Voldemort from killing her in retaliation. Coming face to face with Voldemort in the Great Hall, Harry is seemingly faced with impossible odds - with Voldemort possessing the Elder Wand, he cannot be beaten in a duel. However, Harry gambles correctly that Draco Malfoy was the true master of the Elder Wand, not Snape - by Disarming Malfoy, the mastery of the wand has passed to Harry, not Voldemort. When Voldemort strikes Harry with the killing curse from the Elder Wand it rebounds on him, due to Harry's mastery of the wand, killing himself once and for all. Harry decides to return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's grave instead of keeping it for himself but first repaired his old wand with it.

In the story's epilogue, taking place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Ginny Weasley are married and have three children named James, Albus Severus, and Lily. Ron and Hermione are also married and have two children named Rose and Hugo. Draco Malfoy has a child named Scorpius. Lupin and Tonks' orphan son Teddy is apparently in love with Victoire, Bill and Fleur's daughter. They all meet at King's Cross, about to send their children to Hogwarts at the beginning of term. Neville Longbottom has become the Herbology Professor at Hogwarts. It is revealed that Harry's scar has not hurt since the Dark Lord's defeat, and there, the story ends.

As I have said before, there truly is a wiki for everything.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I got plants, brother.

(Original title of this post was: "I got fish, brother", but the video of my new Dwarf Gouramies was rather underexposed. Also, some of you get attached to my fish, then they die, and you get upset.

Plants are a little harder to kill. Here are some of my current patio selections:

In sailing news, here's me (and crew) at the Balboa Yacht Club with my very first real sailing trophy. I have won plenty of races (well maybe not plenty, but at least some), but the trophies have always been things like ALYC lunchboxes...or trophies recycled from previous races. (I know what you're thinking: "This trophy is just a cup..." You are wrong. It is a beer stein...for drinking lager [I won the lager series]. I would also have an ale stein, had I shown up last month for my trophy (for the ale series).

Finally, I have one more picture...of some hot chick ironing my shirt. She was a demon hot chick ironing my shirt, but as usual I have done my best to un-redden her eyes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

People are always asking, did I know about Tyler Durden.

Since my Lasik surgery, watching television and reading have been a little uncomfortable. Not to worry, Nico has been filling in as a book on tape. Not really on tape, but you get the idea. Now that I think about it, I really should have been recording her...though she does not do voices very well...or at least not as I would do them, had I ever the occasion to read an entire novel aloud. With Nico narrating, everybody comes off sounding a little too animated. But I digress. She just finished reading Survivor to me. Chuck Palahniuk is quite brilliant if you have the stomach for him.'s almost fun to say.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I am swearing off red wine.

Sorry I have no pictures of the weekend's Zin party; too much zin, and I forgot all about the camera.

Good thing the party was at my house, as I had the highest score on the Alcohawk! I think the results may have been skewed a little by the alcohol swab I used to clean the mouthpiece...because I was in fact, not dead.

Julie, proud owner of the Alcohawk had a great story about what she was doing with an Alcohawk...but I cannot seem to remember it this morning.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"It looks like Wednesday night Beercans out there..."

So said the British commentator on VS as New Zealand wrecked spinnaker after spinnaker during race #5 of the America's Cup. What's the big deal? Those spinnakers only cost $27,000 a piece.

Here in Newport, we race Beercans on Thursdays...and I looked like anything but a Beercan racer as I cruised to my 2nd straight victory. I'll attribute 30% of my new found success to luck, 30% to my new set of eyes, and 40% to my superb crew (they have become better at sail trimming than the captain).

Directly behind my backstay, you can see two Shields off in the distance. I have never been this far ahead in a race...

The trick to taking a good picture of yourself, is to hold the camera up high...or so I've heard. Sevin shot this one of us:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Step-wise therapy/treatment of post-Lasik dry eyes

(Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb)

1) Solicit your coworkers for sad stories. If you know the difference between comedy and tragedy, you will understand why this step will not work. Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die. (Coworkers: before you get mad at me, that is a Mel Brooks quote).

2) Stock up on preservative free Refresh Plus. Your ophthalmologist will likely recommend something thicker like Refresh Liquigel or Systane. Your ophthalmologist neither has dry eyes, nor has to stare at a computer all day; he does not understand that Refresh Liquigel and Systane are so thick that they will congeal on your eyes and make it impossible to see. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to wash off a glob of Systane with more Systane.

3) Fill that prescription for the potent immunosuppressant (previously used to prevent the rejection associated with organ transplantation). If you had done your reading ahead of time, you would have started this step one month prior to your Lasik procedure. (Have no fear about the immunosuppression; the mechanism of action of Restasis is actually: put something really gritty in your eyes, and they will have no choice but to water. You could probably accomplish the same thing by rolling around at the beach).

4) Have your opthalmologist plug up your tear ducts. No, really. You have two tear ducts on each side. Start with the lowers. (Your insurance company will probably want to make this step 3, and Restasis step 4).

5) Moisture chamber glasses!!! I was looking around for some pictures of these really cool goggles that spray mist on your eyes, and have windshield wipers (on the inside) so you can still see. However, all I can find are these gems. They're designed just to prevent evaporation. (I assume there is not much market for these among the post-Lasik crowd).

Friday, June 22, 2007

I hear some of you are sick of looking at my foot.

Well, I don't care. I am totally getting a pair of these. Maybe many pairs.
I really am number 1!!!!!!!!!!!

I better mirror that link, just in case I never win another race.

I had a whole bunch more to type, but I lost interest during the last 12 minutes while I listened to a man call me sir...then ask if I was a man or a woman...then proceed to call me ma'am...then tell me about how next week he will be ordering his Lipitor. I am never going to have those 12 minutes back.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The complications of LASIK.

Made it through an entire week of showering with my eyes closed without dropping a can of shaving cream on my foot. I was not so fortunate on day 8. This picture of my well cleaned foot was taken after the bleeding had stopped. I am very happy to still have my little toe. Nico has terrible bedside manner, and nearly made me faint.

Still not cleared for sailing, tandeming, or running, so I let Nico drag me to do some very Nicole-esque things. I know the Getty is Nicole-esque because those goddamn purple dressed women in their goddamn red hats were there. Actually, they seem to follow me everywhere. I'm not sure how they know how to find me.

Here are some soothing pictures I took of the gardens at the Getty:

Darlin' don't you go and cut your hair.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Number of people left in the world calling me Doogie: 1

Actually, I never saw the resemblance...

To the real Doogie Howser: Happy Birthday.