Saturday, July 16, 2016


While I was watching I had to pause and text my son Thor who was upstairs in his room catching Pokemon or something. "SO MUCH AWESOME!" He was not induced to join me. His loss.

I am, of course, talking about the masterpiece that is "San Andreas". I don't usually seek out disaster movies but it was on HBO so I recorded it.


It stars Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) and Carla Gugino. They play a divorcing couple who have two daughters. One daughter died because he couldn't save her even though he's a war vet and a helicopter rescue pilot. This is what led to their separation: guilt and lack of one good conversation about it.

Carla's character's career is not mentioned so I assume she doesn't have one. Her character is solely defined by the fact that she's divorcing one man and moving in with another (Ioan Gruffudd) and that she has two children. See? It's an ACTION movie. Who cares if the females are well-rounded?!

Alexandra Daddario plays the surviving, now adult, daughter. She's headed back to college. Dad can't take her because of a disaster rescue he needs to work on so Mom's boyfriend says he'll take her in his private plane as long as they can stop off in San Francisco first. She will demonstrate mad survival skills because her dad taught them to her. Will he be able to save his daughter this time?

Now before we even get to any of this we start with a young woman, driving her car in the hills of the Los Angeles area. She's on a twisty two-lane road with oncoming traffic. She reaches to the backseat for something, taking her eyes off the road and you brace yourself for the obvious head-on collision about to happen. Then she looks back to the road and nothing happens.

Then her cell phone beeps with a text message. She grabs her phone and looks at the text. Oh no, you think, NOW she will have the head-on! Nope! She continues driving and then little rocks start hitting her car: IT'S A ROCKSLIDE!! This is what causes her to lose control and spin out over the canyon below where she is trapped.

Helicopter pilot Rock and crew to the rescue!

Meanwhile, at Cal Tech, Paul Giamatti is getting word that earthquake monitors are suggesting an upcoming event in Nevada so he and a colleague head there.

A word, first, about the state of Nevada: It is pronounced Nuh-VAD-uh (VAD rhymes with BAD), NOT nuh-vah-duh (vah rhymes with la). EVERYONE in this film says it wrong even though they are all Californians and should know better. This is a pet peeve of mine and people's pronunciation of Nevada was recently made fun of in an episode of the most recent season of "Veep".

  • While at the Hoover Dam a huge earthquake strikes and the dam comes tumbling down. 
  • This leads to a major earthquake in Los Angeles.
  • Because it is a San Andreas thing it then leads to an even bigger one in San Francisco.
  • And then another, even bigger one in San Francisco. 
  • And then a tsunami as the cherry to the Californian destruction sundae.


So yes, this is a TERRIBLE, AWESOME movie. NONE of it makes sense.

At one point the Paul Giamatti character tells the people of San Francisco to evacuate. Now I live about 40 miles north of San Francisco. If a 9.5 magnitude quake hits it isn't just going to destroy S.F.! The whole Bay Area --- and then some --- will be destroyed.

During the 1906 earthquake the town of Santa Rosa, 60 miles north of S.F., was destroyed too. In the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 there was major damage in S.F. but it was Santa Cruz, about 80 miles south, that was devastated.

My point: THERE IS NOWHERE TO EVACUATE TO! Unless you can get over the Sierra Nevada (still pronounced Nuh-VAD-uh) which is about 4 hours away from San Francisco and the Bay Area, assuming there's no traffic.

Of course, that's not why we watch this kind of film. We watch to see things we recognize get destroyed. What is the psychology behind this, I wonder? It's not like terrible things aren't happening almost every day in this world.

But back to the movie. A major earthquake on the San Andreas fault would not cause a tsunami to head INTO the bay. It would head out into the Pacific Ocean and destroy things thousands of miles away.

San Francisco turns into kind of an island thanks to the tsunami. Because why not?

At one point in the movie Dwayne and Carla are headed from L.A. to S.F. to rescue Alexandra and they need to crash land in Bakersfield. Which is nowhere near the path between L.A. and S.F., most certainly NOT as the helicopter flies.

This film ignores everything that isn't "Los Angeles" or "San Francisco". It is sort of a live-action cartoon since it is mostly CGI. And all the main characters survive except Carla's new boyfriend. Of course the parents get back together! Of course Dwayne saves his daughter! Otherwise there couldn't be a sequel!

Many of the "great" disaster films aren't really very good but they are so suspenseful and chock full of action that you almost can't turn them off once you start watching. In the 1970s there was a heyday of disaster films: "Earthquake", "The Towering Inferno", "Airport", "The Poseidon Adventure", "Jaws", "Planet of the Apes" (actually late 60s but the sequels were all in the 70s) and so many more.

What are everyone's favorites? I especially like "Titanic", "Jaws" and "The Poseidon Adventure". "Earthquake" is so terrible it's great, just like "San Andreas"! I guess even "The Greatest Show on Earth" is a train disaster movie. Also terrible and simultaneously great!

Check out the list on Wikipedia: Disaster Films. There are SO MANY.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Turning an Adult Child into an ADULT

My dear, sweet son Thor just turned 23. He lives at home with us while he goes to college and works a part-time job. He has his associates degree in Natural Sciences from the local junior college and will eventually go on to a 4-year school for a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

He has the maturity of a goat teenager though there are very occasional signs of life in the desert. (Supposedly, real maturity occurs by age 25 so we are in sight of the end of the tunnel!)

He took last week off from work so he stayed up into the wee hours playing video games and then sleeping all day. Yes, yes, he was on vacation. I get it but it still irritates me.

All his video-game-playing friends work late (they all work at the local movie theater) so they can only play together after midnight.

Lately my biggest issue with him is how he uses the kitchen. I generally have a good working knowledge of what I have in the pantry and refrigerator. I plan the meals, do the shopping and cook the meals. CPA Boy does some cooking on occasion and we eat out often too.

And then comes the plague of locusts my son. For example, I started making tuna salad a couple of weeks ago. When I went to get the mayo from the fridge it only had a couple of tablespoons left. There was none in the pantry.

When I take the last container of mayo from the pantry I write it on the list for next time I go shopping. My son, who eats a zillion sandwiches with mayo on them, doesn't pay attention to this aspect of kitchen management. Our list is on a large bulletin-board-sized white board; you can't miss it hanging on the wall in the kitchen. And our biggest kitchen commandment is "write it on the list".

Since I only use mayo for tuna, egg or chicken salads I don't have a constant knowledge of how much we have in the fridge at any given moment. I buy LOTS of mustard (CPA Boy LOVES that stuff) but only 2 containers of mayonnaise at a time as mayo is more likely to turn bad than mustard. This mayo purchase policy will be up for review. And I will probably end up hiding one, just in case.

Then last week I bought small taco size flour tortillas to make fish tacos. I never buy the small size as we generally use the larger burrito-size to make quesadillas. The last time we had fish tacos the tortillas were ridiculously huge!

Anyway, my son blithely used 6 of them to make mini-quesadillas, never questioning WHY the tortillas were smaller than usual. Perhaps Mom bought them for a special purpose?

He goes through loaves of bread, packages of cheese and cold cuts, cookies and desserts and leftovers like a 23-year-old bottomless pit.

Meanwhile, last month I had the idea that he needed to be more responsible for his own meals so I asked him to start buying his own breakfast and lunch items. I would set aside some space in the pantry and refrigerator for him.

It never mattered.

He got around it by skipping breakfast and lunch completely. Then he came to dinner and ate like crazy.

I talked to him last night about some new solutions. Perhaps he should be responsible for ALL his meals. Maybe he can pay me to make his meals. Or something, anything. I'm open to ideas. Instead he turned into a petulant, sulking child.

The real point is this: I realize that I need to treat him like an adult but I also need him to ACT like an adult. So instead I stressed "collaboration not sabotage" when it comes to kitchen issues. His face lost the pout and it seemed to help when I stressed he was an adult, not a child.

He IS a dear, sweet young man. And the reality is that he will probably live with us for a while longer. He's a good person; he just needs to embrace maturity and kitchen collaboration!

A postscript: A lot of people just tell us to "kick him out" but even if we did there is nowhere for him to go. Rents around here for a one-bedroom apartment start at $1200-1500; he makes $1000 a month with his part-time job. (When I was 25 my one-bedroom apartment cost $400 and my salary was $1000/month for full-time work.)

He could quit college and try to get a full-time job or get a second part-time job but he will be better off if he can finish college with a degree. And he is not the only adult child still living at home among my parent friends and acquaintances.

Recently Realty Trac released its list of the top ten least affordable counties in the United States. Sonoma County was #10, following Marin (#2), Santa Cruz (#3), Napa (#7) and San Francisco (#4). Also Monterey, Brooklyn, Queens and Maui were on the list. This is not a great area for young people just starting out. (For the record, I have lived in three of those counties!)

Monday, July 4, 2016


Yeah, I have very little of interest to say these days. I still write lots of book entries though so I haven't completely left the blogging world. I will work on posting more often.

I have noticed that several of the people I used to follow on blogs have mainly switched to Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Periscope, Instagram and/or Pinterest.

The thing is this: I am pretty sure you need to sign up on those platforms in order to be able to use it or view things on it. With a blog you can just e-mail your web address to someone and they can see your entries. I would almost swear that none of my readers --- I have so many, haha --- have accounts for any of these except possibly Pinterest.

I have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I look at Facebook pretty much every day but I rarely post there. I have never Tweeted or Instagrammed.

I have used Pinterest but rarely. I guess it's okay for saving recipes I find on the internet in one place but I also find it unwieldy to actually get back to the recipe and the whole thing irritates me.

For example, I had pinned a recipe for "Raspberry Walnut Tart" that I really like (I substitute pecans for walnuts) and I just now clicked on it from my Pinterest page. It took me to a different page on the main website so I had to search for the raspberry tart separately. I have now printed it out on actual paper which is easier to use in the kitchen anyway!

As another example, I had pinned a recipe for a pork tenderloin stew from the Cook's Country website but when I click on the Pinterest link from my page it wants me to sign up for a 14-day free trial before I can look at the recipe again. Um, what? I have no real need to sign up for a 14-day trial especially since that sounds like I will need to pay for access after that time. That ain't gonna happen. So I can't get the recipe again but I have no memory how I found it in the first place! I hope I wrote it down before and it's in my cookbook cupboard already.

But back to the main point: I much prefer reading blog entries than trying to follow someone on Facebook, Pinterest or the rest! I like reading paragraphs of words and sentences! Sigh. I am getting old. I know I have written about this before so sorry for repeating the same old, same old.

So to wrap it up, I will continue blogging rather than using the newest apps and programs. I have a couple of new idea books that have a list of random questions to answer so I might try plumbing them for topic ides. Things like this:
  • Be your own psychic. Write about your future.
  • Which fad of your youth didn't live up to the hype?
  • What was your worst babysitting experience?
  • Which sibling do you love the most? 
    • I think we all know the answer to this one!

Happy 240th Birthday, United States of America! Happy Birthday tomorrow to my darling son, Thor!