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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Senseo update...

It's been a week since my last purchase. I am still happy with the machine and the way the coffee's been churning out. I don't regret not getting the model with the larger tank as well, since they sold that one at Sam's Club.

One thing I do need to add is that you can't put any large or tall mugs on the brewing platform, since it won't fit. The mugs I use are 3.75" tall and hold the larger 8oz. serving just perfectly. While I've been totally used to drinking coffee out of my ginormous 20 oz. Starbuck's City Mugs, I find that I didn't mind drinking out of a smaller cup, especially since the coffee coming out of the Senseo is pretty strong. I've been drinking less coffee, but have been getting the same caffeine buzz that I've been so desperately seeking these mornings.

There is one bad thing though...I've been finding myself depending on drinking this coffee so that I can get moving in the morning.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Mercury in retrograde...

mercury3Some people may think it's hogwash, but I totally feel it when Mercury goes into retrograde.

Mercury rules perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce and transportation.

Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray, or awry.

Since I'm really sensitive to this, I usually start feeling the effect about 2 weeks before it starts to happen, even without knowing the planet's about to go in to retrograde, and all the way up to 1 week after it goes direct.

We went to San Diego yesterday. Even with everything being on schedule, it's still a long day for us. We're usually up by 3:30am and don't get home until around midnight, and with everything running on schedule!

Mercury totally played his tricks on us yesterday. Not only was our flight leaving Las Vegas late, when we landed in San Diego, it took 20 minutes for the courtesy shuttle to bring us to the car rental place. By the time we got out on the road with the rental car, we totally got stuck in traffic really bad. One good thing was Walt got out earlier than expected. Then I went to go meet with a client of mine. What was supposed to be a 10 minute meeting turned into 1 hour.

When we got to the zoo, the pandas weren't their usual active selves and slept more than usual. Of course, I can't complain because they're pandas, afterall. When can a panda do any wrong? We borrowed Nancy's new camera to take some pics at the zoo. We couldn't figure out how to do some of the settings and our panda pics came out blurry.

Our flight leaving San Diego was scheduled to take off at 10pm. We got to our gate around 8:15pm. We come to find out that our flight was delayed for almost an hour, eventhough the screens were saying that it's on time.

We didn't get home until around 1am.

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Josh Groban

closerAs if my Senseo experience wasn't good enough for yesterday, Walt and I went to see Josh Groban last night at Mandalay Bay.

I didn't want to get to Mandalay Bay any later than 7pm, since I don't want to chance us not finding any parking. Sure enough, when we got there, we were circling the parking structure for a good 40 minutes before we got lucky the someone was just about ready to pull out of their parking space.

We barely got to our seats at 8pm, just in time for the opening act, a piano virtuoso named William Joseph. What can I say? That kid has a natural talent on the piano. I plan to get his CD on Amazon.

Josh came on around 9'ish and, of course, he was amazing. I mean, when is he never? I did noticed that he didn't sing "Gira Con Me" and "You're Still You." In fact, I heard that he won't be singing those 2 songs anymore, which is too bad, since I really love those. He also had a very gifted violinist that performed with him, Lucia Micarelli.

I was a little bummed that our seats weren't closer. They were the best tickets I can find at the time of purchase. In fact, TicketBastards couldn't find any open tickets, but when I called the Mandalay Bay box office, I was able to score some. We ended up sitting near the sound and lighting booth more towards the back on the floor level. As Murphy's Law would have it, everyone sitting in front of me was friggin' tall!

I guess I was spoiled when we attended his PBS taping about 2 years ago. Walt and I ditched work for 2 days and rode to Pasadena to attend the tapings. Each taping was about 4 - 5 hours. The second night when we were there, we got there really early and ended up in the first group going in. We were sitting no more than 5 rows from the stage. What can I say, that was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. And since it was a taping, there were retakes that had to be done. Some songs, he ended up having to do 2 or 3 times.

Anyway, fast forward back to last night's concert, sitting in the back near the sound and lighting booth isn't all THAT bad. During intermission, we saw the legendary producer, David Foster, walk by and was in the sound booth. After the concert was over, we saw William Joseph in there as well.

We managed to get them to autograph my ticket stub. It was too bad that we couldn't get Josh's to collect the whole set.

jg_82104_web

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

I done did it again...

senseoI am the biggest kitchen gadget junkie. Although I confess to my addiction, I don't log on to the internet or run to the nearest housewares store just because I've seen an informercial on T.V.

For the past few months, I've been seeing the Phillips Senseo commercial and the first thing that turned me off was the pod system. I've never been an advocate of having to buy any type of equipment that only supports their own brand of refill. Well, inkjets are another story...

I even checked out the website and in the Flash movie that's on their page, I see faces of people that have gone through the Senseo experience.

senseof

I admit, I cracked up because these faces just look really hokey. The guy on the left totally has a shit eating grin on his face. The woman in the middle has a far off dreamyland look, as if she's dreaming of happy coffee beans dancing around. The one on the right is bordering orgasmic. Perhaps she must've wash her hair with Herbal Essences Shampoo before having her cup of Senseo coffee...

Anyway, I never thought much of it, because this was a pod system!

Well, it finally got to me this week. I've been really, really, tired this week. I don't drink coffee that much, but when I do, I want it to be good coffee. When Walt goes off the work, I normally would be the only one drinking fresh brewed coffee. I usually like to grind my beans right before brewing a pot. But really, do I want to go through all that just for one cup of coffee?

Yes, my in-laws do drink coffee, but it's usually instant, which I normally don't do, unless it's a huge emergency. I thought the one cup systems would be perfect. Perfect that we can keep the machine upstairs that's central to our bedroom and office if we ever wanted a quick pick me up without having to go downstairs.

I did my research this week comparing the one cup brewers and decided on the Senseo. There were mixed reviews from Amazon, Epinions, and Coffee Geek. The biggest complaints, of course was the pod system, and another one was that people are claiming that the coffee isn't strong like espresso. Hello! This is a friggin' coffee maker, not an espresso machine! If you want espresso, then buy an espresso maker.

Anyway, I digress...so this morning...Walt and I went to Costco, since they have the best deal in town. For $68, not only did we get the machine, it also came with 4 bags of assorted coffee pods and 2 metal canisters for holding the pods. I would say that's an excellent deal, since most other places sell the machine by itself with no coffee. I believe if you purchase it through Amazon, you do get 2 bags of coffee with it.

Yes, I did think about how much the pods alone would be when I need to get more in the future. Much to my surprise, next to the machines in Costco, there were refill packs of coffee pods. Their prices was $7.00 for 36 pods, which I think was another great bargain. They average about $4.99 for an 18-pack at normal grocery stores.

When we got home after running some errands, we plugged in the machine and prepped it before brewing our first cups. We tried the medium roast. The process was relatively painless and fast. The coffee came out pretty quick and the flavor is definitely stronger than average American coffee. It didn't matter though...I like my coffee fully leaded, and this was good stuff.

bodum_santosI know there are the strong coffee advocates out there that are shaking their heads on coffee grounds that are already preground. I have to say that it comes down to personal preference...to me, the convenience is worth it. This is a good weekday or evening coffee maker. For the weekends, I will continue using my Bodum Santos vacuum pot with my freshly ground Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

I look forward to more pod varieties for the Senseo in the future. Aloha Island Coffee Company has Kona Pods.

All in all, I'm satisfied with my purchase of the Phillips Senseo, and I can confidently say that "after Senseo" is a good place to be. And no...I am not affiliated with Phillips or are they paying me to write this.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Okay...

I've been bad. Really bad.

I haven't been really good about updating as often as I should. I have a whole bunch of entries that I've been wanting to do, but didn't have the time. There's at least a trip to the zoo for more panda photos, hikes that we've taken in the canyons and the mountains, etc. Not to mention starting up some more photo albums.

So, I'll be going back and filling in the posts I've been meaning to do for ages, so please bare with me.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Happy Birthday, Mei Sheng!

meisheng_1_bd

My, my, my...time sure just flies. It seemed like just yesterday that this little black and white bean shaped fur ball was born. Now, today he's celebrating his first birthday. Sigh...too bad I'm here in Vegas. I would've love to join the festivities today at The San Diego Zoo.

The best thing I can do for now is copy and paste the article taken from the San Diego Union Tribune website.

The photos above are from the San Diego Union Tribune.


****

San Diego's newest panda celebrates first birthday

By Jessica Gresko
ASSOCIATED PRESS

1:13 p.m. August 19, 2004

SAN DIEGO – On his first birthday Thursday, giant panda cub Mei Sheng delighted visitors by playing for the first time in snow delivered to him at the San Diego Zoo. He also sat on his ice cake, wrestled with his mom, got his coat incredibly dirty, and didn't read any of the more than 700 birthday wishes sent him via e-mail from as far away as Ireland and Argentina.

His guests still couldn't resist him.

"Darling!," exclaimed Erin Anderson, who was visiting with her three children and their grandma. "Isn't he cute?"

The cub has become quite a little celebrity since his birth a year ago. He is only the second panda born in the United States to survive to his first birthday. Mei Sheng's half-sister, Hua Mei, celebrated the same milestone in 2000.

But researchers at the San Diego Zoo say Mei Sheng, whose Chinese name means "Born in the U.S.A." as well as "Beautiful Life," has been a very different baby from his half-sister.

For starters he complained more and was more demanding. He was also a little shyer – preferring to stay close to his mom, Bai Yun, rather then venture out of the den.

"It just underscores the need to not generalize about an animal like this until you have a very robust sampling," said Doug Lindburg, the zoo's giant panda team leader.

On Thursday, Mei Sheng exhibited some of that shy behavior– at first hiding behind a bush and sniffing tentatively at the snow when he found his habitat turned into a winter wonderland. Quickly, however, he followed his mother's lead and started clawing snow off the trees and delighting visitors with belly slides and gymnastic attempts that left him sprawled on his back.

In 12 months, Mei Sheng has grown from a 4-ounce newborn the size of a stick of butter to a 54-pound fur-ball. He's learned to walk and to climb trees. He's still nursing, but he is eating apples and carrots and bamboo leaves, said senior giant panda keeper Kathy Hawk.

He has also endeared himself to the public and to keepers, who call him their "Baby Boy," "Mr. M" and "Goof-ball." Oh, and "Pooper," which he responds to.

Hawk said next year is a big year for Mei Sheng, too. He'll likely be weaned, start eating the more solid parts of bamboo, and be separated from his mother, mimicking the separation process that goes on in the wild.

He's also working on kicking the shy thing.

Thursday he seemed well on his way, charming visitors with his frolicking.

"Today they're putting on a really good show," said regular visitor Joan Grant, who came decked out for the celebration in everything panda: earrings, T-shirt, watch, socks, and necklace.

Judy Trest couldn't resist the pandas either, taking more than 300 pictures on her digital camera. And, the cub's enclosure was punctuated with frequent "oohs" and "awws." The line to see him stretched out of the exhibit.

"He's cute. I want to hold him," said Nicole Boyd, 13, who was visiting from Sacramento.

Zoo officials say Mei Sheng is more than cute, however. They say they attach great significance to the fact that another cub has survived to his first birthday. Only about 1,600 pandas are thought to live in the wild and about 170 in captivity, most in China, according to zoo officials.

In the United States only four zoos have pandas – San Diego, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Memphis, Tenn. All the pandas are on loan from the Chinese government, which owns the adult pandas and any offspring. Any cubs born in the U.S. are supposed to be returned to China when they turn 3-years-old.

Under that agreement, San Diego's first panda Hua Mei went to the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Research Center in southwestern China earlier this year, and there are hopes she is now pregnant. Mei Sheng would technically go back to China in two years, but zoo officials say they are hopeful he will be allowed to stay longer because China's breeding program is going so well and there may be less public pressure to send the second U.S.-born panda back.

More than hoping to keep Mei Sheng, however, zoo staff say they hope their success at panda breeding will spread to other zoos and that the panda population will grow.

For now, however, giant panda team leader Lindburg said, "There's one more panda in the world."

****

Walt & I are heading to San Diego next week. We'll be taking another late flight back so we can go visit the pandas again, since the zoo is open late. Since we're definitely not going to make it to Washington DC's, Pandamania Exhibit, this is will have to do.

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