Archive for September, 2006

Pumpkin Festivals

I’ve never been to a pumpkin festival anywhere. Since there are so many farms around here, I thought I’d google pumpkin festivals and see what I’d get.

I found two very promising candidates. It’s not as green as I’d imagine a pumpkin patch to look like. Just as long as there aren’t any scary critters in there, I’m keeping these two in mind:

Schnepff Farms – This farm is in Queen Creek
Young’s Farm – This farm is near Prescott, and will be the last festival for them because they are selling their farm and moving to Oregon. Lucky…

Not the same

I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my life and was so used to the smog and the almost 4 seasons there. Even though this will be my second year here, I have not yet gotten used to the concept of Christmas, or Halloween in the desert. The stores are filled with Halloween tricks and treats. I’ve even seen them selling Christmas gear at Costco. But without the autumn leaves, cold breezy nights, and snow during the winter time, it doesn’t feel the same.

Development in my Neighborhood

When I was back in California, I noticed mostly all of the Wal*Mart’s were in lower-income neighborhoods. Because of this, I’ve always thought that Wal*Mart’s products were not as good as Target’s or K-Mart’s. However, now living in Arizona, there are actually 2 Wal*Marts in my neighborhood and when I went into one for the first time, I was surprised by the enormity of the store. Everything that you might need in one shop and at a relatively lower price than other stores. With a child now, it is more convenient for me to stop at one place, especially during the summer time when you just want to get out of the car once and not travel from one shop to another. It made me appreciate Wal*Mart a little bit more. As a business, Wal*Mart was smart to have stores in cities in California which probably didn’t have to cost them an arm and a leg. It also helped lower-income families. In some stores, you can even purchase merchandise online from their warehouse that can be sent to the store nearest you to be picked up. Unfortunately they don’t offer that here in Arizona. Site to Store I hope that will change.

Speeding on the 101 how many times???

Check out this AzRepublic article about a woman with 69 ignored traffic tickets, 64 of which are for speeding on the 101. She’s looking at $11,000 in fines and some jail time. There are photos on the right and one shows her chatting on her cell phone – surprise! What is the mindset here?

UoP Stadium?

So it’s now the University of Phoenix Stadium? Makes it sound like UoP has a football team which is kind of funny considering they’re a lot online – but wait! How about a fantasy football team? They’re all online and legends in somebody’s mind. And how fitting – fantasy football in the new stadium – quality football in Arizona is really mostly just fantasy.

Calling all Earthquake Junkies

There will be a lecture this evening by renowned earthquake expert and engineer Dr. John L. Aho at the Gilbert Town Council Chambers.

“SHAKE, RATTLE and ROLL”
A DISCUSSION OF EARTHQUAKES and THEIR EFFECTS ON DEVELOPMENT
Presented by: Dr. John L. Aho

Tuesday, 26 September 2006
6:00 pm

Town of Gilbert, Town Council Chambers
50 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert, AZ 85296

The presentation addresses recent of seismic activity with an emphasis on the most seismically active state-Alaska. The discussion is developed for the layman who has an interest in how earthquakes affect the built environment and addresses how damage investigations have played a roll in the development of state, national, and international building design and construction standards. The discussion will address why things fail during strong-motion earthquakes and examine the positive effects of earthquake risk mitigation.
(more…)

All aboard

rail.jpgJust back from a week on Amtrak. Flew to Chicago and rode to Seattle on the Empire Builder; continued to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight and returned to the Valley on the Texas Eagle. It was the first time doing long distance train travel since, as kids, my sister and I rode from Dayton to St. Louis for summer grandparent visits. Moving to Arizona with its proximity to the west coast, I often spoke of taking the Coast Starlight . Finally, putting words into action, Amtrak and I became one.

This trip created a love/hate relationship with the railroads including much love for Amtrak and much frustration with Union Pacific (train personnel say UP doesn’t mean Union Pacific – instead, it stands for Usually Parked). Our trip ended in Maricopa, AZ – a doublewide trailer and 50 feet of concrete comprise the full extent of the station. Informed sources tell me Phoenix used to host train travelers, but now the nearest place to hear “all aboard” is Maricopa. Sadly, the Valley’s autolovefest keeps freeway building a priority over public/mass transportation. Even LA, with its traffic-clogged highways, makes use of subways and trains. Oh well, no one around here seems to care. Even though Phoenix and UP have done their best to make it difficult, try the train sometime – you might be surprised and like it.

Japanese food that does not suck – Taiko Japanese Cuisine in Chandler

I have said it before, there is no good Japanese food in the valley. Most of the “Japanese” restaurants here are bad, bad, bad. I have been to most of them and Phoodies, you need to demand better. A friend recommended Taiko Japanese Cuisine in Chandler with the magic words – “they have food that tastes like food I used to get in Japan”. He had the oyako donburi (lunch) and, as he put it, “it was made by someone who knows how to make donburi”. We went that evening and it is true. Finally a place in Phoenix that has good Japanese food. The service was okay, the sushi was okay, and yes it is in a strip mall. But who the fuck cares?!? Ramen and donburi and tonkatsu and curry made by a chef who understands Japanese food. Yeah baby! Cooper and Ray near the Bashas.

Fall Lineup

In addition to the great weather, Autumn brings back all my favorite shows. There are some great shows out there – Grey’s Anatomy, which I watched last year when I was in Seattle, made the city look smart and romantic, Lost, island living and surviving at its best. Six Degrees, a new show that has promise set in the big Apple. Even Gilmore Girls, Smallville, and Desperate Housewives with their idyllic picturesque fictional settings brings about a yearning to live there. Their shows are funny, witty, dramatic and entertaining. Is it mostly the writing responsible for this, or the actors? Of course, however, I do feel in my humble opinion that the setting is also very important. Except for Medium, which is set in Phoenix, I am surprised there aren’t as many good shows set in Sedona or Flagstaff, which are very attractive locales. Some of these shows are filmed in interiors anyways and mostly the exterior shots are in backlots or b unit photography. So what gives? Arizona not mysterious, dramatic, sexy, or funny enough? What if Grey’s Anatomy was set in Tucson? Would the magic be lost? They’ve got to do something better than “The Tuesday Night Book Club.”

Matt Leinart: celebrity backup quarterback

Anybody else tired of seeing this guy’s mug yet? (Ladies, don’t answer that.) I’ve seen Leinart, the Cardinals first-round draft pick who missed nearly all of training camp because of a contract holdout, on billboards around town advertising for a cable/phone company and he has a radio show, “The Matt Leinart Show,” which airs on ESPN 860 AM on Fridays.

I know he’s the quarterback of the future for the Cardinals, who paid him handsomely as the 10th pick in the draft. But, for a guy who’s holding a clipboard on the sideline (at least until Kurt Warner goes down), he’s certainly bringing a lot of Hollywood to the Valley. No doubt, he’s got to be the only backup quarterback in the NFL with a radio show named after him. Just imagine the star power he’ll carry once he actually becomes a starter. Frightening.

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