Archive for September 2013

Trip to Reno

September 29, 2013

We are on another road trip to attend NV OES Grand Chapter in Reno. We left San Pedro at about 0900 on Saturday. There are three main north south routes from LA to Northern California.

The quickest by far is I5 that starts in San Diego and continues through LA and then up through California’s Central Valley. There are huge farms that produce much of the vegetables that everyone consumes in the USA. Without stopping, we could potentially make it from San Pedro to Reno in a little over 8 hours. However, the ride is oh so very boring.

The second route is up US99 a bit east of I5. A little bit longer and just as boring. One goes through the major farming towns of Bakersfield, Fresno, and Stockton. Eventually you reach Sacramento and then head east on I80 to Reno.

The most visually interesting trip is on US395 that runs between the Sierras on your left and the CAL-NV border on your right. Lots of mountains, lakes and streams.

That was what we had intended to take. Best case should take 9 hours without factoring bathroom stops, gas stops, etc. But i screwed up in loading the GPS and we headed up I5. By the time we figured out my mistake, we were almost to Bakersfield. So we headed east to pick up US395.

Not so simple though. We ended up on SR14 that took us on a twisty windy road through Kern County and the Kern river canyon. We stopped at a place called Walker Pass to stretch and take a couple of pictures. This is some of the most desolate parts of California. It was also super clear on Saturday. The blue sky in those pictures was not photo-shopped.

So we eventually got on to US395 and continued our journey north. We were way behind schedule. Driving this road when dark is very challenging. Paula had me stop for a few seconds so that she could smell the ponderosa pines. She said she could actually see stars. You don’t see many stars (the astronomy kind) in LA. Of course I didn’t see stars, I was trying to see which way the road was going.

We eventually arrived in Reno at about 10PM. We got checked in and luggage up to our room. We had a gin and tonic and went to bed.

Next post will be about our experience at the Peppermill Resort and Casino.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:S Virginia St,Reno,United States

You’ve been hacked.

September 27, 2013

The scams seem to never end. This morning I received the following email (purportedly) from my friends Robin and Mike.

My regrets for this sudden request,my family and I came down here to London, England for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than few hours from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills,I’m freaked out at the moment.

Needless to say, Mike and Robin are not in London and they were not mugged. If you should receive a message like this, check it out. Call your friends and find out if it is legit.  99 times out of 100 this is a scam. This type of scam had been kicking around the internet for many years.

This particular one is unusual to me in that there is no return address or phone number for where to wire the money.

If you should find out that your friends have received this sort of message, change you email password immediately. Then send out a message to all of your friends. Tell them that you are not in England or wherever.

Stay safe…

Salt Cod Fish Cakes

September 17, 2013

Back in the day when I was a child, on Friday’s we would eat cod fish cakes for breakfast. My Mom and Dad would prepare them the night before so we would have a hot breakfast in the morning before school.

So I decided it was time to find the recipe for salt cod cakes and try making them myself. Finding a recipe wasn’t a problem. Finding salt cod on the west coast was a problem.

We finally found some in an Albertson’s Supermarket in San Pedro. And the meat guy knew what I was talking about. Salt Cod comes in a small box with about a pound of cod preserved in salt from Nova Scotia. It was the same box that I remember from when I was a kid living in Brighton. So without further adieu, here is the recipe.


1 box of salt cod. (If stores have it, it usually can be found in frozen meat section). Ask. I suppose you could substitute 1 lb fresh white fish of some sort. Doesn’t seem right though.

2 Large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tsp seafood seasoning

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 large onion diced

2 eggs

1/2 c white flour



  1. Place the salt cod into a bowl and cover with cold water. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Pour off the water and replace with fresh water every 2 hours. After the fish has soaked for 8 hours, rinse in cold water, and cut into 3-inch sections.

  2. Place the cod and potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the cod flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Place the potatoes and cod into a mixing bowl. Season with the seafood seasoning, pepper, and parsley; roughly mash with a potato masher. Stir in the eggs and onion until evenly combined. There should still be pieces of cod and potato in the mixture. Form into golf ball-sized pieces, and roll in the flour. Press between your palms to flatten slightly.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the cod cakes in batches until golden and crispy on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

I generally put ketchup on my fish cakes. Paula laughed. She though tartar sauce was right. She tried the ketchup. She agreed it was right. This recipe makes enough for 4-5 servings.


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VPN’s Explained

September 13, 2013

Last night I mentioned the use of a VPN on Facebook. It occurred to me that many of my FB friends don’t have a clue what I was talking about. So here is a brief tutorial on VPN’s.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It was originally developed to allow remote users to securely connect to a corporations internal networks. Corporations install firewalls to prevent unauthorized users to snoop around their internal networks. The VPN provides end-to-end encrypted connection.

That was the original idea. Now it seems some new and clever uses have emerged. There are companies that will sell for a modest price VPN service that provides anonymous connections to the internet. This has been used successfully in third world countries to allow users (say in China) to bypass Chinese government attempts to prevent Chinese citizens to look at sites outside their country.

The service that I use is sold by a company called Avast!. They also provide free anti-virus apps. So when I bring up my VPN it goes through one of Avast’s servers around the world. This prevents snoops (like the NSA or CIA) from looking at what web sites you are visiting.

Web servers have the ability to find out in a general fashion where you are located. For instance, a weather site would find out that I live in the Los Angeles area and that I probably would be interested in the weather in LA. A site can do a “traceroute” to find out where your IP address is located. Netflix uses traceroute to make sure that you are inside the continental USA. Their agreement with content providers is for US access only.

So when I use a VPN, I can make a web server think that I am located somewhere else. Last night I was trying to access both the Apple and AT&T site. My thought was that they might be giving east coast users a head start on ordering new iPhones. So I loaded my VPN going through New York. It didn’t help because the Apple and AT&T sites were severely overloaded.

I also occasionally use it for accessing MLBtv. That is the Major League Baseball subscription app for viewing baseball games. MLB however blacks out games in your local area. Seeing as I usually want to watch Boston Red Sox game, this is not a problem. However, when the Sox were playing the LA Dodgers, the game was blacked out here in LA. So I loaded my VPN going through Seattle. Presto, MLB thinks I’m in Seattle. Game on. Unfortunately this doesn’t work for my iPad. Apple devices also have a GPS that MLB uses to find out where you are.

VPN’s are also very useful for securing your internet access from public wiFi access (eg. at Starbucks, Local Libraries and hotels). I strongly encourage VPN use in those situations. You just don’t know who is listening.

Here are a few links for your education (be forwarned these wiki articles are a bit technical):

Virtual Private Networks Wiki


Avast! VPN Service


September 13, 2013

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3

September 11, 2013

I am getting the urge to upgrade my cell phone. For the past two years I have had an iPhone 4S. This was my second iPhone. The first being a 3GS model.

So Apple has announced their new iPhone models yesterday. New top of the line 5S and a 5C (the C doesn’t stand for cheap, btw,) Apple didn’t say what the “C” stood for but I think it stands for “Color”. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter much.

Samsung has also announced some new products. The one that I am particularly interested in is the “Galaxy Note 3″. This is what folks are calling a PHablet. ie. a mix of tablet and phone. It has a 5.7″ screen compared to the iPhone 5S’s 4”. It would be a bit large to fit in my shirt pocket. So here are a couple of pictures.

The iPhone 5S at its launch in California on Tuesday

Samsung Galaxy Note III preview

Price for both devices is similar. The 32GB iPhone 5S is $299 and the Galaxy Note 3 is $299. There has been tons of stuff written about both devices. So my question for everyone is which would you choose and why?

Here’s some of my thoughts.

Staying with Apple would make the upgrade real easy. Just back up the 4S and download onto the 5S. All of the apps that I have purchased would work with the new phone. Data compatibility with my iPad.

But screen size is a big one. If I got the note 3, there would be less occasions that I would need to bring my iPad. The Note 3 has a replaceable battery which is cool.

So what do you all think?

Portuguese Bend Horse Show

September 7, 2013

So yesterday Paula and I were looking for something to do other than grocery shopping or lodge or church. Paula finds an ad for the Portuguese Bend Horse Show up in Rolling Hills Estates. Better yet admission was free on Friday. So after we did the grocery shopping, off we go up the hill.

Now I know practically nothing about horses other than they are big, can run fast and jump. We arrive at about 1pm. Having a HP placard gets us a prime parking spot. The common folk have to park at a remote lot and get bussed to the park.

First things first. Lunch. Paula gets a burger and I get a quesadilla. Weather was warm, but there was plenty of shade and a light breeze. Food was good and reasonably priced. They also had adult beverages for sale, but we stuck to the soda and H2O.

After finishing lunch we headed over to the competition arena. They were just beginning to set up for the next event which was women’s 35+. They had tractors raking and rolling the surface while a tanker sprayed water to keep the dust down.

So I am getting the idea, that this whole thing has to cost a ton of money. This is definitely not a middle class sport. I was adding up the perceived costs in my head. You have the equipment, the real estate, the horses, the barns, the hay, the tack (saddles and such), fancy clothes. Man, it made my head spin. Certainly not for someone living on social security.

There were about 30 or so competitors in the event we were watching. All of the ladies were wearing the khaki form fitting pants (Paula says they are jodhpurs), black jacket and a helmut. My, my all those lovely looking ladies in their tight pants.

Before the start of the event, the contestants walked the course, pacing off distances between the fences. Then the event began. I was pretty clueless as to what makes a difference in the judging. We were sitting next to some folks who knew more than me who helped explain stuff.

They said it was more a test of the rider’s ability rather than the horse. On occasion the rider would miss a jump. There was one rider who fell. Neither horse nor rider were injured.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon. All the folks who were running the show were super friendly and helpful. Here’s a link to the horse show program.

Here are a few pictures.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rolling Hills Estates, CA