Category Archives: California Life

The Yahoo Mail Fiasco: Yet Another Example of Silicon Valley’s Endless Commitment to “Fiddling”, not “Innovating”

Turned on the Internet this morning and it seems there was a firestorm of criticism being leveled at for their changes to their long time Yahoo Mail service. Reading the coverage, it sounds pretty bad for those who relied on this service.
I haven’t used Yahoo mail much in years (although in the late 90s/early 2000s I relied on a primitive but reliable version of the service when I traveled).
After reading some of the specifics, I have to say I’m not really that surprised. Yahoo is under a lot of pressure to reinvent it self, and fast and start making something called “money” to justify all those salaries that ride the Yahoo Bus** south every day.
Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen the route that is common for companies, big and small in this so called “tech”*** sector – pay lots of people to endlessly fiddle around with a product, changing details big and small, and often, to seem like they are doing something, when they’re really not.
It would be unfair, however, to simply play the “let’s beat on poor dying Yahoo” game. Take a look at the Pain in the Ass known as ios7. Apple too, chose to add lots of gadgety bullshit we didn’t need (really, did I need my home screen to look like it’s in “3D”) and added an endless array of setting, pretty pictures and such. They also took a lot of the ease of use that was the hallmark of previous iOS’s (iOSes?).
It doesn’t really hit you until you use someone’s phone using iOS6 and you realize Apple in the post-Jobs era that this, like other products from the tech*** world was a classic example of fiddling by committee, not creating any true innovation. One can only wonder if Mr. Jobs would have really approved.
Oh, but we could go on. Facebook? HA! They took “fiddling” to a whole new level – how many times have they made revisions based on all sorts of BS. Remember when the directive was a vague notion to “be more like Twitter!” a few years ago? No? Well then how about the endless ticky tacky settings regarding “privacy” users have faced since the beginning?
Don’t get me wrong – not all companies do this and there are many mobile applications, online services and so on that actually do something useful and do continue to improve such products. Square comes to mind for its usefulness for independent merchants and those splitting the check at the restaurant, for example.
That said, it would be nice if we perhaps saw some of the Really Big Companies with Lots of Salaries tone down the fiddling, and get back to work making their products more useful.
For now, I’ll continue to use only the ones that work (free or not) and avoid the fiddlers.
**Same goes for everyone on one of those GoogleYahooFacebookBauer bus things.
***This is really for another entire post, but I think we have to stop describing the majority of these companies that call themselves “tech” as such, and instead call them for what they are – advertising companies.
The “products” are not really the services they purport to provide (Google Mail, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) – that’s a secondary use. What they are really selling are their users who will look at said ads and supposedly click on them or whatever to buy something later on.
There’s no shame in that at all – I used to work for a company that bought online ads all the time and there’s many options for advertisers out there that didn’t exist 10 years ago. However, let’s not suggest these “tech” companies are on a par with those companies that built the US space program, create new medicines that cure disease, or build the many, many weapons that Americans like and seem to need.

How Cool Is This? “Improv Everywhere” Stages a Musical at the Food Court.

The good citizens over at Improv Everywhere have been getting some press lately. The students at UCB who staged a mass “freeze” the other day took their inspiration from the Grand Central Station freeze in January, which got lots of media attention, and inspired no less than 30+ similar mass events around the world.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness that is the creativity of these folks. Not long ago, a group managed to convince a mall to let them patch audio from wireless mikes into the PA system, and staged a musical number at the Baldwin Hills Mall food court in Southern California.
There is something just so right about a group of people who inject some spontaneity designed to make people happy, or at least have a “you won’t believe what I saw today” moment as we go about our lives. Unlike, say Critical Mass, which is based on giving the finger to The Man, and making sure you know how much of a jerk you are for working for a living and oh noes doesn’t subscribe to some ideological devotion to bikes, folks like Improv Everywhere show you can have a little fun once in a while and it doesn’t have to be All About Sticking It To Someone.
And now, I present to you, the song “I Need A Napkin Please””

Crap-tastic Crack Shack Sells for 935,000? Put This On A Billboard And Send It To the Hippies Of The World, Please!

This just in: yet another crap-tastic crack shack has sold in San Francisco for $935,000. SocketSite has been following this one for a while so go there and see pics of this decrepit piece of real estate.
I seriously wonder if we should put this on a billboard, with a pricetag, on billboards that say “Memo to Hippies: The SF of the 60s is dead. Do not come here and expect to rent a room in a big nice house for cheap and live off of handouts. Unless you’re rich enough to buy this crapshack and renovate it to livable standards, please, stay away. Thank You.”
Or something. I mean, at this point, all the housing measures in the world (along with all the ones we’ve passed) don’t seem to mean much if even a craphouse like this is selling for almost a million dollars.
Put another way – how do you build lots of “cheap affordable” housing on super expensive dirt? More importantly, is it really feasible for anyone to build anything that’s not super expensive condos for wealthy childless couples anymore when you have garbage selling for almost a million bucks?

San Diego Wildfires Inspire the Best and Worst In US Citizens….Glenn Beck and SF Gate Commenters Clogging Sewers With Their Remarks…

Folks, I’m not a millionaire like say, Don Fisher or Gavin Newsom, so I can’t do what I’d like for our citizens in the struggle in Southern California. But I can do this – if you buy an “Adama for President” shirt right now I’ll donate the markup (I only make 3.50 on these things) on all shirts sold from now through the end of the year to a suitable charity that will help our fellow Californians in their time of need. Would we want our fellow citizens to the south crapping on us when the Big One hits? NO.
While we in San Francisco are enjoying this lovely 80 degree warm weather and clear skies, our fellow citizens to the south are going through a literal Hell with these wildfires which are so bad, the firefighters are at something like 0% containment and almost a million people are now displaced from their homes.
And yet, in a tragedy of this of Katrina/1989 Quake/OMG We’re FRAKKED proportions, jackasses on line and in the mainstream media (i.e. CNN) find a way to take a tragedy and make literal sh*t out of it….all for their petty, stupid, rotten little agendas.
Idiotic Jerkoff Glenn Beck made snide remarks about how the people whose homes are burning are people who “hate America.” (And CNN backs it up! How “liberal.”)
Now, putting aside the fact that Glenn Beck’s inherent stupidity keeps him from saying anything relevant (um, DUH Glenn, San Diego and Imperial County and that whole area are super-Republican and home to MANY MANY SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN), um, WTF? Why, in the middle of a horrid tragedy would ANYONE SAY SOMETHING THIS F*CKING RETARDED???
Now, I should not be surprised given that people paid to be assholes, such as “commentators” and “news analysts” have to come up with new and improved way to be a jerk to “get ratings” and “make a story” but please. This is just wrong. Now, if the so-called “progressives” like MoveOn.Org had a brain, they’d broadcast these bs remarks all around the TV sets of southern california and pressure CNN to show this guy what real pain is like, but of course instead their idiot consultants come up with crap like that General Betray-Us ad (dhut dhut dhut get it?) Oh well, betting on the idiocy of MoveOn and Glenn Beck is a sure fire winner any way you cut it.
Oh, but then there’s the sewer pipe known as the SFGate comments on their “stories.” Once again, the pretext of “commenting on a story” is hijacked by people who have to serve their own agenda. Don’t like “bad” mortgage holders? Stick it to ’em. Don’t like people in Southern California? Stick it to ’em. Wanna just sh*t on people who are going through a terrible time in their lives? STICK IT TO ‘EM.
Yeah, that’s right. Let’s take out our own crappy day on people who have had a truly crappy day. Class act, SFGate commenters.
There’s just one problem. One day we are going to have one FRAK of an earthquake here. How will you feel when the losers who take time from talk radio to spam out a comment at the San Diego Tribune or whatever sh*t on you for “getting what you deserve” when your loved ones die or your home is ruined in the Next Big One?
Time for a lot of people to take a shot of Shut-The-Fuck-Up with a chaser of Be-A-Human-Being-And-Not-An-Asshole. Maybe, just maybe, the Chronicle can redeem itself. Glenn Beck’s been a worthless shit for years. This won’t change a thing. All I know is if I lived in San Diego I’d be telling Comcast or whoever that they can take their CNN and send it to Iran where it belongs with all the OTHER America-haters.

Friday Fun: Paris Hilton Provides Us With a “Ha HA!” Moment!

If ever there was an indictment of cable news, the incessant coverage of Paris Hilton’t tearful return to LA County Jail was it. Forget that whole “war in Iraq” thing, or whatever, this is Big News by the Big Journalists Who Know Best.
Now, if Fox News wanted to validate themselves a little (after Roger Ailes said Fox News was as badass as Al Qaeda, they could have puncutated the coverage with Nelson Muntz giving some much needed commentary with his inimitable “Ha HA!” instead of having their usual boring blowhards. For more fun, check out this picture of Sheriff Lee Baca with his pals, Gov. Arnold and Mayor Rudy – wonder how they feel about this mess?
Have a great weekend!

Can The MacArthur Maze Fire Debunk At Least One Myth?

After reading some of the coverage yesterday at SFGate about the Big Fire, I wondered if this could finally debunk professional loudmouth Rose O’Donnell and the “Loose Change” nuts’ theories
Then I read in today’s coverage on the site, that apparently many of you have been calling the Chronicle making the same point.
Who’s taking bets that Rosie O’Loudmouth will be retracting her dumb comments anytime soon?

Need a Job? Pick Pears!

Thank God for increased border security and keeping those darned immigrants out of the country. Now that they can’t come over to California to pick pears, Americans are now free to do manual labor for a few bucks an hour. Right?
Apparently not. It seems the pear crop is rotting because the farmers can’t get those folks who work for less than minimum wage (and can’t put up a fuss since they’s illegal), and for some reason, no Americans are running up to get those jobs.
Whaaa?? I’m shocked. Come on, Minutemen! Get those Americans off their butts and to the pear orchards, forthwith!

A Posting That Has NOTHING To Do With the Issues of the Day! Session Lager Rocks!

Time for a post that has nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina, hippies, the impending Resource War with China, or assorted political crap. It’s time for a recommendation for all you barbecuin’ and happenin’ folks this Labor Day Weekend!
Having some friends over? Is the weather a bit warm? Want a beer that tastes good but isn’t one of those over-hopped hipster-doofus “Microbrews” but don’t want to get the runs thanks to Budweiser, Miller or Coors? And are you sick of the Pabst Blue Ribbon “revolution” that saw a twelver go from $3.99 to some ungodly 7 or 8 bucks a 12-pack?
I have a solution for you. Buy a beer that will make hipster doofuses AND drinkers of the macrobrews happy. Drink the only beer I’ve found that is like Schlitz (my favorite), upgraded….It’s Session Lager from the folks at Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing Company. It tastes great on a hot day, it’s not too heavy, if you aren’t a beer fan you can douse it with a bit of salt and lime and it beats the Hell out of Corona.
Although I appreciate a good German beer, the fact is I really do not like most micros, having lived in Seattle for 7 years, and been deluged with all those hipster micro beers. Great, kids, but paying $5 a pint at the bar is no revolution for those of us who don’t wanna spend the paycheck on the beer. Give me a good old fashioned, hopped up Schiltz any day.
Session Lager, though, bridges the gap. It comes in the same “stubby” bottles Olympia used to come in (as did Lucky Lager, Rainier, et al) and it tastes great – but it’s not so heavy or thick you feel like you’re drinking cough syrup. Even the ladies will like it at your barbecue.
I haven’t been compensated for this recommendation, aside from a tshirt I got when I emailed the company saying I liked it. But if you see this at BevMo or elsewhere, pick it up and upgrade the party a bit from the Usual Crap that makes everyone have a hangover and the runs the next day.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

The Mudane Aspects of My Life Warrant a Script

Time to lighten the mood around here on a sunny Friday…
I’ve decided that it does not take an extraordinary life, necessarily, to find things to write about that will engage the Hollywood machine and get you paid. When I look at some of the odd, strange, and bewildering choices made for the “content” (gotta love that generic description of all things creative) in TV and movies, I realized that one does not have to live an extraordinary life to find inspiration that motivates one to write the works that get produced – one only has to take the mundane up a few notches. So I’ve decided my happy, yet uneventful existence warrants a film.
For the newer readers, a bit of background. Several months ago I wrote about my duel via cellphone and land line with the mysterious Lucky, Adam, and Adam’s friends to great comic effect.
I’d somehow ended up with a cell phone one digit off the mysterious Adam, and to this day still receive calls from wayward Friends of Adam, who have those new cellphones with the tiny buttons that allow one to hit the “4” instead of the “1” at a critical juncture. More recently, I had an entertaining conversation with “Adam’s” mother. Ha ha.
Today, however, I discovered that not unlike a bad Hollywood thriller starring Some Up and Coming Doofus, I and the mysterious “Adam” are no longer guys with similar phone numbers – we are, it seems, in a bizarre duel, possibly to the death in an array of plot twists and turns worthy of an Eszterhaus, in the System.
How, you ask, can I come up with such an over-dramatic and off topic premise? Simple. I went shopping at Von’s today. And there my descent into Hell (or at least Heck?) began…
Those who know me, know that I’m a value conscious consumer. Regardless of my financial status in life, I’m a perpetual bargain hunter. I’ve long ago conceded a part of my life to the maniacal folks who decide what things will be on sale when if, and only if, you have one of those precious discount cards issued by Von’s, Ralph’s, Albertson’s, etc. Sure, I know I’m being manipulated, and sure my purchases for the last 10 years have been recorded at a computer buried under Cheyenne Mountain, but I don’t care. Sometimes, a bargain’s a bargain, and even the most antidistablishmentarian hippie can’t pass it up.
Today was no exception. For those not in the Southern California area, Von’s has an incredible deal on pizza – only $5 gets you a pizza that will last a single guy like me a week, and it’s good quality too – not some putrid pile of toppings that makes you ill and regretful the next day.
So I headed on over to the Von’s in Santa Monica (the same one John Kerry visited during the strike to take advantage of that and other deals.
To make a long story short (too late!) I punched in my home telephone number and saw the savings roll in on my pizza and other items. Woo hoo! But then I got a strange jolt at the end when the kind woman at Von’s (who is required to be nice under company policy OR ELSE!) said “Thank you Mr. Feinberg and have a great day!”
Not wanting to hold up the line, I didn’t want to say anything. After all, I did get my discount. So why rock the boat? I went home and took a look at the receipt. I saw the name on the receipt, thanking me for my patronage:
“Adam Feinberg.”
This was getting strange. Now, I knew that the Mysterious Adam and I had cell phone numbers one digit off each other – was it now possible that he and I also had home numbers one digit off too? That was just too strange. I could have sworn I punched in my home number properly (and no, I wasn’t “hepped up on goofballs” or anything to confuse said keypad entry). But there it was. Once again, Adam and I were linked in some bizarre Matrix-like way via the myriad of numbers that defines our existence.
Yes, that’s a tad dramatic. No, I am not making this up for the sake of filling column space. Really.
It was then and there as I sat at my desk, considering the situation, that I realized that in fact I had the basis for a really good “bad” movie – a timely tale of how The Man and The System can get to you via your Preferred Customer cards and such. It would be like that oh-so-timely and brilliant film The Net but this time, instead of Sandra Bullock and that “new” Internet thing to play off of, we could play off of Von’s Club cards, and have Jack Black star as me in this new, and wacky adventure?
It’s at this moment I decide a an ice cold Pabst is in order to get perspective.
But when you think about it, how mundane are most stories we see on TV and the movies today? How many ways can you see a murder decoded with quippy remarks about dead bodies before you start to wonder if perhaps things are getting a tad repetitive?
And when do you decide to cash in on said mundaneness with your own life and when do you decide that contributing to the decline and fall of culture isn’t worth the money?
All I know is the next time I got to Von’s I’m buying some seriously wacky stuff and have it blow poor “Adam’s” record with the Vons megalopolis. Let him explain why he buys Pabst Blue Ribbon and all sorts of weird party favors. Or something. At least it will make for good conversation with his friends when they call….
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

Updates to Past Columns – Lucky, Adam, and Surrogate Flaming

Loyal readers will no doubt remember my experiences with the many people in Los Angeles and elsewhere who have yet to master the art of telephone dialing, recounted in my column This is Lucky, I Need to Speak to Rosa! earlier this year.
Well I have an update – just the other day while having a rapid-fire telephone session, with both lines and the cell phone ringing constantly from politcal clients, film folk, and others, I got an odd call. I picked up the cell and heard the following:
Caller: “Ok, everything’s all set, you need to call So And So* right away to make sure you have directions. Everything else is ready and we’re looking forward to seeing you soon!”
Me: “Um….who are you and why are you calling me?”
Caller:”Who’s this?”
Me: “Let me guess. You’re looking for Adam, right?”
Caller: “Yes, this is his mother, Edna*, is he there?”
Me (wanting to be a smartass but too nice to do so): “Actually you’ve dialed a wrong number – but dont’ feel bad, most of Adam’s friends call me all the time!”
Caller (Aka Adam’s Mom): “Oh no! That’s just terrible! Well I’m going to speak to that Adam of mine right away about this!”
Adam’s Mom and I talked for a few minutes and she was an amiable and pleasant person. It turns out Adam and I have almost the exact cell phone number, with mine ending in “4” and his ending in “1′ – which are near each other on the keypad, and easy to mistype, especially on today’s smaller cell phone keypads.
She resolved to let Adam know that this was going on, and thanked me for not misdirecting calls to the County Jail. Meanwhile I’ve changed my outgoing message to tell Adam’s wayward friends where to go. Hopefully Adam will be returning the favor when someone calls his phone looking for me when they want to send bags of cash to the Schä Fun Fund.
Another followup: Some folks disputed my predictiions for the decline in campaign rhetoric this season when I wrote about my views on said subject a while back.
This morning I read the inimitable wit of Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a retiring Democratic Senator who is supporting the President’s re-election, in a fit of petulance because he was passed over for a second cup of punch at a Democratic holiday party some time ago.
It was rather amusing to read Mr. Miller’s comments, especially since he seems to be cribbing off of my sheet when he suggested that the military under Kerry would be reduced to being armed with “spitballs.”
Memo to Zell Miller – Crap on Kerry all you want, but if you keep ripping off my wacked out rhetoric, I want a royalty check pronto. Otherwise, come up with your own methods of slandering Sen. Kerry, and stop copying me!
Ok, perhaps that was a bit over the top – but then again I’d say he was too, so everyone’s even. Hoo-ray.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, especially Adam’s mom – she’s a nice lady who was pleased to hear I got a column out of my cell phone woes.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at