Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. The California trip was a BLAST! Monday, around mid-day, we hit the road and I start setting up the electronic gear in the back seat. An AC converter powers the charger for the video camera and CD-player while DC adapters powered the laptop and charged up spare AA and AAA batteries. Muwaa-hahaha... I was in my element. From the back seat I mapped and directed our whole trip, adding stops at local fruit stands and finding elusive side streets and addresses with "Streets & Trips" on the portable.
Monday evening we stopped for cherries, apricots, peaches and smoked almonds in Lodi, near Jack Tone road. Afterwards, we continued on down Interstate 99, cut across I-26 to I-5 and then through Gilroy (the Garlic Capitol of the World!) to I-101. We arrived in Monterey about 5 PM were we stayed the night and went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the morning. What an awe-inspiring place to visit!
I caught three feedings on video (in the sea otter, open ocean and kelp forest displays). I had no idea that Tuna were so amazingly fast! Did you know that Tuna have grooves on each side of their body for tucking their fins into? This makes them extremely streamlined. Most Starfish feel like wet sandpaper; one shark lays cork-screw shaped egg cases; and a baby whale is over 10' long. That poor mommy!
Oh, and the special displays full of Jelly Fish... they were like living, moving works of art! Some of them large as a dinner plate; others smaller than your thumbnail; all of them delicate beyond belief. I was so taken by the Jellies that we bought matching T-shirts and ordered a third... tie-dye, of course! Anne also bought me two ties (for Father's Day), one with Jellies and one with Penguins. The Penguin is the aquarium's "mascot".
Tuesday: Unfortunately, Forest Gump was MIA at Bubba Gump's place when we went by again in the morning. That didn't put us off and a short trip down coastal highway 1 (known in Cal. as "The 1") we arrived in Carmel. Heading directly to Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch we check in and then head to a wonderful dinner. Afterwards, we retired to the nicest rooms of the trip. In the morning we ate breakfast and headed down "the 1" to Big Sur.
Wednesday: As we approached San Simeon Anne noticed that the tire pressure indicator had come on. Since she couldn't feel any difference in handling we figured that one of the tires was just a little low and that we could take care of it after checking into the resort (on the beach!). But that wasn't to be. Several minutes after the light came on I started smelling hot rubber. When I checked the tires I found that the right, rear tire had cracks on the inside sidewall and had gone flat. Because we have 245/40 ZR18 tires (very low profile), it had just kind of squatted down about an inch or so and the inside of it was rubbing against the shock.
I swapped the spare, which was a full-sized normal tire (not low profile), and we limped on down the road into San Simeon. After dinner we called around and found The Tire Store, in San Luis Obispo. They said that they had a complete set (2 left side/2 right side) and we told them that we'd be there Thursday some time. We certainly happy to find a place that carried these things because a friend of mine had a tough time tracking them down the summer before I hurt my back. In fact he couldn't find them locally and had to drive over the hill to Sacramento to get the same Nitto brand tires for his wife's Toyota Supra.
Thursday: We all sat around waiting for Josh, Tara and Jasmine to show up for breakfast. I had spoken to Josh Wednesday night and, since we were pretty close to L.A., they'd decided that a drive up the coast and breakfast with "the folks" would be nice. Between 8 and 9 AM was the plan, but by 9:15 it was obvious that they weren't going to make it. Anne and Dad headed over to the restaurant and I tried to call, but only reached the answering machine.
With that tall spare on the van we couldn't do more than 50 MPH as we made our way South towards San Luis Obispo. This, combined with our late start, put us at The Tire Store around 3:30 PM. Once they started working on the van we called a cab and went to find something to eat.
Lucky us, the driver was an ex-Renoite and decided that (because Anne and I are vegetarians) we just HAD to eat at the Hometown Buffet. This guy drove like the cabbies you only thought existed in the movies. He was either "pedal-to-the-metal" or jamming on the brakes! It was like taking a thrill ride at Coney Island and Anne kept pointing out all the places we could eat at as we flew by. I couldn't see Dad's face but I got a glimpse of his white knuckles on the dashboard! Yahoo!
The Hometown Buffet was well stocked and had plenty for all of us to eat. Anne and I got our fill and I even squeezed in a little dessert before we had to get back. What a nice finish to the day, which had been less than wonderful so far. The second cab was more sedate and for a few minutes we thought that we might not make it back to the shop before they closed at 5:30. But we did and were disappointed to see the van still being worked on. Apparently, their computer inventory was off and they didn't have the tires in stock. They didn't even have ONE that they could sell us! What they did manage was to mount a used low profile tire with good tread on it so that we could get somewhere that DID have them. They felt so bad about having us drive all the way down there that they didn't charge us anything. They're a straight dealin' shop in my book and I'd go there again if I was in the area.
Hitting the highway headed north on 101, but we stopped a couple of times to check the air pressure because the tire light was still on. After Anne was assured that the tire was holding pressure she picked up the pace and set cruise-controll to 75. With people passing us at 85 or better I checked the laptop for a likely place to stop. Streets & Trips suggested that we cut across 41 to our old friend I-5 which would be about half way to Santa Nella Village and very near sundown. Tacking down a Best Western near the junction we put in for the night and I called Mike (remember the tires?). He checked the Nitto web site and gave me the names of a couple of places in Stockton.
Friday: I called American Tires and spoke with Michael; He said that they had our size in stock. Gun shy as I was, I asked that he double-check. He did and we headed out. A light breakfast of fruit and up the highway towards Pea Soup Anderson's. If you've never had the split pea soup at Pea Soup Anderson's, you've never had PERFECT pea soup. Anything you order with split pea soup is all-you-can-eat-soup! I had two bowls; two BIG bowls!
American Tire fixed us up with a complete set of Kumho tires (The Tire Store had warned us that all of them showed signs of cracking). In a couple of hours we were on our way again. Next stop: Dixon, just west of Sacramento, to find Dad's favorite fruit stand. He and Mom used to stop there on the way back from the bay area just to load up on cherries. "I'm a fool for them!" Dad always says.
A good thing that we had the laptop doing our mapping for us. As we were coming into Sac I noticed that it was 4:45 PM and we didn't want to be driving through the heart of the city at rush hour! The portable routed us West on SR-12 and then up SR-113 right into Dixon! Once we found that fruit stand (actually on a side road attached to the on-ramp!) we were glad we did! Anne and I made fools of all of us, buying two whole flats of cherries (1-Bing; 1-Queen Anne), a half-flat of strawberries, several peaches, some ears of sweet white corn and some cashew butter! 
Through Sac on the second half of rush hour and making our way East. After a stop for dinner at the Baker's Square in Auburn we arrived home just after 10, unpacked and downloaded my email. Hey, what do you expect from me? I was back-logged to the tune of 154 email and that was just my primary account!
If you can afford it, I would highly recommend doing this trip at least once in your lifetime. In fact the Monterey peninsula and Carmel-By-The-Sea were recently listed in the Top Ten Places to Vacation. I can vouch for that!
Now that we've got this behind us, we're looking forward to Hot August Nights and cruising in Anne's T-Bird!

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

Potato garden 

An old man lived alone in Ireland. He wanted to spade his potato garden but it was very hard work. His only son, who would have helped him, was in Long Kesh PRISON.

The old man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his predicament. Shortly, he received this reply, "For HEAVEN'S SAKE, Dad, don't dig up that garden, that's where I buried the GUNS!"

At 4 A.M. the next morning, a dozen British soldiers showed up and dug up the entire garden, without finding any guns. Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asking him what to do next.

His son's reply was simple: "Now plant your potatoes, Dad.

Microsoft sued over Corona technologies
By Scarlet Pruitt

As the U.S. government is wrapping up its landmark antitrust case against Microsoft Corp., the software maker is being hit with a lawsuit claiming that it violated patents and disclosed trade secrets while creating its Corona digital video playback technology.

The suit, filed by audio and video delivery software maker Burst.com Inc. yesterday, accuses Microsoft of illegally employing Burst's video delivery technologies after gaining access to the company's proprietary information during negotiations.

Microsoft spokesman Jon Murchinson said today that the company couldn't comment on the specifics of the case, given that it has just received the suit and hasn't had time to review it.

However, Murchinson said, "Microsoft has innovated with digital media technologies in Windows for more than 10 years."

Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Burst claims that Microsoft stole its trade secrets between October 1999 and December 2000 while negotiating to use the company's technologies. What's more, Burst alleges that Microsoft used that information to build its recently introduced Corona technologies. Corona compresses and decodes digital video and is reportedly at the heart of Microsoft's updated Media Player, due out at the end of this year .

Burst also alleges that Microsoft urged technology partners and financial backers not to support Burst's products because they competed with those of Microsoft. [Uncle Bill, the bully, is at it again! - DP]

World traveler tool

XE.com's Universal Currency Converter™ made its debut in May of 1995, and was an immediate sensation. Not only was it one of the very first useful financial information services on the entire Web, it was actually one of the first interactive Web services as at all! Today, it is independently ranked as the world's most popular Internet currency tool.

It has grown from supporting 12 currencies to supporting over 180. That's not only more currencies than anyone else we know of -- that's every single world currency that we know of. We have eagerly and continuously added free services, including our acclaimed Currency Update Service™, which sends currency rates by e-mail to many thousands of people every single business day.

We obtain our rates from a variety of sources. We strive to always include the latest available market data from live, real-time rate feeds containing data from foreign exchange markets all around the world. Because it's always daytime somewhere in the world, there is a good chance that a currency market somewhere is currently trading. Since our sources are global, this means that data for a specific currency can be updated even when the markets of its home country are closed.

Using these rates, we calculate a proprietary time-weighted average for use in our services. This mechanism, along with highly advanced logic for detecting mistakes in the feeds, ensures that our rates closely follow the market while minimizing the effect of erroneous data. Not all currencies are regularly traded, and it can be very difficult to obtain live market data for them. Using a variety of sources, we do our best to obtain current rates for these currencies. We currently support every world currency of which we are aware.


Beyond Language
By Ruth Egan

I was flying home to Chicago to bury my grandmother. I hate changing planes, so had booked a flight that would allow me to stay on the plane during stopovers. At the Denver airport, a flight attendant announced that the plane needed servicing, and all passengers must board another plane. I sighed. Denver airport is big, and I just knew I'd be walking a mile to the next gate.

As I got up, I noticed a couple who had boarded with me in Los Angeles still sitting in their seats, speaking Spanish to each other, and once in a while gesturing at the speaker above them. It occurred to me that they couldn't speak English, and were worried about what the announcement had said.

I walked over to them, asked them if they could speak English, and they shook their heads no. Wonderful, I thought. And the only Spanish I knew was "gracias" -- thank you.

I held up my ticket, and the woman reached into her purse for theirs. They were going to Chicago, and I showed them my ticket so they could see that our destinations matched. Someone had probably told them to stay on the airplane until it arrived.

I asked the few people around me, "Does anyone here speak Spanish?" All I got were people shaking their heads no. I reached into my purse, pulled out a small notebook I carried with me and a pen, and started hoping.

I drew a crude drawing of an airplane, just like kids make. I pointed at it, then gestured around our airplane. The couple nodded. They understood. I drew another airplane. I put an "X" through the first one, and drew three stick figures walking to the new plane. I gestured around our plane again, making sweeping motions as if I held a broom. I looked at them to see if they understood.

They spoke excitedly, then stood up and started gathering their items together. They had understood! I made sure we stayed together while heading to our new plane -- all without a word spoken between us.

When we arrived in Chicago, I followed them off the plane, and saw a sea of Hispanic faces waiting to greet my new friends. There was hugging and kissing and babies being passed back and forth. Apparently, they had not seen many of these people for some time. I smiled and nodded at them as I made my way to baggage claim. They were chattering away with a younger man who I envisioned was one of their sons.

I hadn't gotten far when I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find this same young man. He smiled at me, and with tears in his eyes said, "Gracias. Gracias." All I could do was smile back and nod.

I saved that drawing for years. Every time I looked at it, I remembered that people don't always need to speak the same language to be understood.

Shop smarter

Grocery List v1.22 [3.3M] W9x/2k/XP FREE 

Do have any idea how much you can save at the store if you take the time to clip coupons and look for special deals before you leave your home? About seventy-five cents, I'd say. This super shopping supplement combines a grocery list, coupon organizer, and recipe manager all into one lovely interface. Just pick the general item from the first list (like "beans") and then choose the specific item form the next list ("kidney beans," for example). Then enter in the coupon information. Now, you can select only those items that are on sale or choose to list every item. Print out your pre-selection and you're ready to hit the aisles. Who has enough time to do this on paper? "You can match grocery coupons to a specific store or to all stores; expired grocery coupons are automatically deleted." 


Only in California:

I wish this were made up: A Santa Monica elementary school has banned the game of "Tag" not only because of a few injuries but also because being "It" makes the child feel as if they are a victim.



Strive most to understand what you fear most.