Archive | 2006
December 30, 2006

Mount Everest ain’t got nothin’ on me

Palm Desert hiking trail

I’m back from our day trip to Joshua Tree and have a ton of photos that I will upload when I get a chance. Here’s a few from another hike we took yesterday morning.

Palm Desert hiking trail

Palm Desert hiking trail

Heeeey, I can see my house from here!

Palm Desert hiking trail

Palm Desert hiking trail

Don’t you hate it when you hike to the top only to discover there’s an effin’ golf course that has been built all the way up here?

Palm Desert hiking trail

St. Margaret’s Church, preparing for Gerald Ford’s funeral

December 29, 2006

Saying goodbye to Jerry


“This is a very sad time for me. I never really wanted the job. And it was only in the last year or so that I realized I could do it. And the tragedy is that when I really wanted it, I lost it.” - Gerald Ford, shortly after his defeat in the 1976 Presidential election (Shadow, by Bob Woodward)

This past Tuesday, Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, passed away at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. I wasn’t yet alive during his Presidency, so the only knowledge I have regarding his time in office comes from my history books. Following his defeat in the 1976 election, however, he moved to Rancho Mirage, the town where I was born and raised. Ford and his wife, Betty, were well known for their generosity to various charities in the Coachella Valley, including the local theatre, children’s museum, Bighorn Institute, and, of course, the Betty Ford Center. To show their appreciation, local cities dedicated a main thoroughfare and local elementary school in his honor.

I had the opportunity to meet President Ford several times while I was in middle school. He once came to my school and gave us a lecture on politics and history. Imagine that, the former President of the United States standing before a group of eighty 7th and 8th graders and explaining why he pardoned Richard Nixon. Shortly thereafter, myself, several other students, and Cheryl attended the Indian Wells Town Hall lectures featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough (it was mainly a venue for the wealthier, older citizens, but the Town Hall series always gave out several free tickets to local students). After the dinner following the lecture, President Ford came up to us, signed autographs, and talked with us for several minutes. That man was a real class act.

In recognition of his service to our community, it was only fitting that we bid farewell to President Ford before he was moved from his adopted hometown to Washington DC for the state service and then Grand Rapids, Michigan for his final burial. His service was held this afternoon, with a public viewing to follow. We decided to go at 8pm, figuring the crowds would have thinned by then (the public viewing runs from 4pm to 9am Saturday…yes, you could even go at 3am if you so desired). The service and viewing are being held at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Ford’s local place of worship. I live about half a mile from this church, but they would not allow any pedestrian traffic through (in fact, they had blocked off Highway 74 to all traffic). We had to drive to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, located several miles away.

I ripped all these photos from the AP wire…we couldn’t take cameras

Of course, you had to go through security.

And then wait in line to board a bus to drive you all the way back to the church near my house. The buses were all from the Los Angeles and Orange County public transportation networks, which must have thoroughly confused some of the local drivers.

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church

Filing into the church


And past the casket and honor guard…

(You’re probably thinking “That’s one fine looking church.” Well, that’s because it was built by one of the most awesome and talented builders in the valley, MY DAD. :-) )

The whole process probably took less than three minutes, and we found ourselves back on our OC bus headed towards the Tennis Garden. Afterwards, we went to TGIFriday’s and held our own little wake for Jerry, complete with tropical drinks and nachos. He woulda wanted it that way.


“I know I’m getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer spectators.”

Tomorrow I’m heading up to Joshua Tree…and I have some more hiking photos I need to upload

December 28, 2006

Broke a golf club today

Three wood. First time I’ve ever done that. Not quite sure what happened, but I saw the head fly off and looked down at the considerably lighter shaft that was still in my hands.
“Ohhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!”

Ryan risked life and limb to retrieve the head from the driving range. The nice folks down at Marc’s Golf are fixing it. Happens all the time, they say. I need to relearn this game, methinks.

December 26, 2006

This town is our town, it is so glamorous

My mom woke me up at 6:15 in the morning to go hiking. The city of Palm Desert recently completed several trails in the mountains near my house, and my mom has subsequently become a hiking junkie (training for the Grand Canyon, she says). I was thoroughly perplexed by this newfound hiking craze, which I learned about in my phone calls home:

“Dad is getting me a GPS unit for…”

“Your car?”

“No, for my hiking.”


“What do you want for Christmas?”

“A headlamp.”

“Huh? Like what coal miners wear?”

“Well, for my hiking, in case it gets dark. LL Bean has them.”


The trail we took for the morning hike was an easy four or so miles roundtrip, with some nice views of a still sleepy Palm Desert in all of its illustrious palm tree and big box store glory.

Later that day I met up with Katerina to run some errands, which included trying the new shrimp tacos at Del Taco. Loved ‘em. Yeah, it’s fast food, but better than any tacos the least coast can come up with. Even bringing up the concept of a “fish taco” thoroughly puzzles east coasters, as they are unable to imagine filling their tortilla with anything other than beef or chicken. They’ll never know the awesomeness that is the Del Taco crispy shrimp taco, and will instead continue to eat their soggy fish sandwiches. Poor bastards.

Next on the agenda was a trip to the local driving range. Every red-blooded Palm Springs resident owns a set of golf clubs, although most of them are likely sitting in a garage collecting dust like mine. I hadn’t picked up a club in nearly nine years, while Katerina had recently honed her skills on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West in La Quinta.

“Can you wear flip flops to the driving range?”

“Dude, it says ‘no spikes’, not ‘no flip-flops’!”

We bought a bucket of 165 balls, so we were there for quite a while, driving our fellow golfers nuts with our incessant giggling and “Wow, look at that turf fly!” I spent most of my drives trying to hit the tractor that was moving around collecting all the range balls, but unfortunately missed.

Uh, the divots were there before we got there…

Real golfers wear Uggs

I did have a few good drives, though, one of which elicited a “Dude! That’s totally a CEO shot!”

“I know, right?”


As we were heading back to the car, one of the 80 year old guys complimented us with a “You did great, girls!”

“Thanks, I’m trying to work on my long game.”

You should totally come golfing with Katerina and I. The mad golf cart driving alone would be worth the green fees.

Afterwards, dinner at Las Casuelas (yeah, more Mexican food) and beer at the Yardhouse, the only place in the desert where you can drink Lindemann’s framboise and Shiner Bock in one sitting.

December 25, 2006

Christmas in SoCal


Looks a lot like this:


72 degrees and sunny. Cold weather is for suckers. (Yes, so says the person who voluntarily gave up California for DC. WTF was I thinking?)

Merry Christmas to all my friends…and to those of you in Iraq, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, etc., drinks are on me next time you’re in town.

December 23, 2006

Back in CA

Flight left DC at 6:50am. Got into Palm Springs a little after noon. Temperature was 75 degrees and I was roasting in my turtleneck. Couldn’t wait to change into a polo shirt and flip flops.

First stop: In-N-Out. It’s a Fincher tradition, whether I’m coming back from DC, London, Moscow, or St. Pete, we have always stopped for a double double on the way back to the house.

I had guacamole, too. Real guacamole made by Californians with California avocados. It was heavenly.

We also had an earthquake tonight…a small one, only a 4.1. Still, definitely haven’t been in one of those in a long time.

All in all, a great first day back in the Golden State.

December 22, 2006

LSE’s drastic drop in the rankings can be attributed to one person



There we were, ready to knock France’s École Polytechnique off its pedestal and claim the title of “Tenth greatest university in the world,” when some fellow in the Social Psychology department decided it would be a great idea to admit Monica Lewinsky to the MSc program. The end result was a ton of jokes at Lewinsky’s expense (obviously), several “WTFs?” from LSE alum, and an eventual drop to #17 in the Times Higher Education Supplement. THANK YOU, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY!

Lewinsky, by the way, recently donned her gown and hood to participate in LSE’s graduation ceremony:

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose sexual relationship with U.S. President

Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, has graduated from the London School of Economics, her publicist said on Wednesday.

Lewinsky, who was 21 when she became involved with Clinton, is interviewing for jobs in Britain, publicist Barbara Hutson said.

When Lewinsky, 32, received her Masters of Science degree in Social Psychology last Thursday “the audience of students and parents erupted in spontaneous applause. … It was a very emotional moment for her,” Hutson said in a statement.

Hutson said Lewinsky spent the past year studying and “staying away from the London social scene.”
She completed a thesis entitled “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An exploration of the third person effect and pre-trial publicity.”

Alright, first off, she still has a goddamn publicist? Second, if she lands a job in London I am going to cry. Do you know how hard it is to land a job over there as a non-UK/EU citizen?! Apparently, if you’re a spoiled princess from Beverly Hills who take a few slices of pizza to the President and later becomes embroiled in a full-on impeachment trial, you’ll all of a sudden be interviewing for jobs in the greatest city in the world. No, I’m not bitter. Lastly, interesting choice for a dissertation: “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An exploration of the third person effect and pre-trial publicity.” Still, it doesn’t sound as riveting as mine, “The Geopolitics of Caspian Oil Transit Routes: Russia and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline.” Besides, I had COLOR maps in my dissertation. Yeah, you heard me, COLOR MAPS of pipelines. I had to pay 35p a page for those suckers.
Monica, if you aren’t able to find a job in London, you can always move back to D.C. I’ll see you at the next LSE alum happy hour!

December 18, 2006

Concerns about the world getting warmer, the people thought they were just being rewarded


According to the weather report, today’s high in Washington was an incredibly pleasant 73 degrees. IT WAS 73 DEGREES IN MID-DECEMBER. I’m used to winter temperatures in the 70s, considering I grew up in PALM SPRINGS, CA, but 73 degrees in mid-December in Washington-effin-DC? Global warming, FTW!
There is a fun little flash tool on An Inconvenient Truth’s website that lets you calculate the amount of carbon dioxide you produce each year. Here’s mine:


I calculated this using the time period December 1, 2005 – December 1, 2006. Since I only bought the XTerra in October, I obviously haven’t put a lot of miles on it, so I took my odometer reading from the truck and added on a bit more mileage to account for any December 05 driving (when I was last behind the wheel).
What really puts me into the “larger than average” category is all the flying I have done over the past year. But really, what can you do about that? How the hell else am I supposed to get to Yerevan, San Diego, or Houston?

My friend Liz told me that she recently saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and thought of me driving around in my XTerra while images of melting glaciers played on the screen. Rather than admonishing me for my choice of vehicle, you should be thanking me for flying everywhere and buying a vehicle that gets 17MPG. Admit it, you love this 70 degree weather in December. I’m just doing my part to ensure that DC will soon have a winter climate equivalent to that of Palm Springs! I always was an altruist at heart.

December 17, 2006

Unfortunately, “IH8THISEFFINCITY” is greater than the allowed seven characters


Finally got my DC license plates. If you’ve never seen our politically snarky DC license plates, here’s your chance:

xterra_license_plate.jpgObviously they aren’t blank…I ran them through Photoshop

Our license plates say “Taxation without Representation” on them because, despite having a population larger than the state of Wyoming, we are not entitled to a voting member of Congress. We do have a “non-voting Delegate” in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, but she doesn’t get to do anything and is effin crazy anyways. So you see, unlike the rest of America, we Washingtonians have no one who will read our impassioned letters about the plight of the fringe-toed lizard, attend our ribbon cutting ceremonies, or land us some sweet pork barrel projects. Instead, we have to put up with all of your representatives using our city like one of their cheap and innumerable mistresses.
Right now my license plate is the standard boring combination of letters and numbers. I’m considering personalized license plates, but I doubt the DMV would approve any of my top choices: “DCSUX”, “IH8DC”, or “FU DC”. Suggestions welcome.

And now I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the best shows on TV, “The Office”
Episode 3.08: “The Merger”
Andy: I saw your dorkmobile in the parking lot, what does it get, like four miles to the gallon?
Dwight: Uh, try double that. Classic Trans Am, vintage American muscle. Please.
Andy: Yeah, my Xterra’s pretty sweet. Luxurious yet rugged. Leave it to the Japanese.
Dwight: Xterra’s not even a real word.
Andy: Actually, it is. It’s Latin for “earth.”
Dwight: Oh, so you drive an X-Earth?
Andy: Yeah.
Dwight: That makes sense. I’d rather drive a classic Trans Am than an XEarth.
Andy: Yeah, I bet you would. Oh, by the way, 1985 called and wants its car back.
Dwight: Well I hope 1985 has a time machine ’cause I drive an 87.

December 14, 2006

I hereby nominate George Clooney for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations


You know it’s a slow news day when the top CNN story on your Google homepage is “Clooney campaigns to raise Darfur awareness.” Nevertheless, I click it for the mere fact that it is about George Clooney, the “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Apparently Clooney has been traveling to China and Egypt and urging government officials there to do something about the bloodshed in Darfur. This is an issue he obviously cares deeply about, so why not give him the top (and soon to be vacant) U.S. position at the U.N.? I mean, damn, the guy’s only 45 and he’s already saved the world from nuclear annihilation, helped a bunch of Iraqi refugees escape the clutches of Saddam Hussein, and basically told that bully Joe McCarthy, “FU.” Granted, he stole all that money from Terry Benedict (that guy was a jerk anyways) and couldn’t prevent the U.S. government from assassinating Prince Nasir Al-Subaai, but we all have our “off” days. He looks ridiculously good in a suit, and contemporary American politics isn’t really about substance or intelligence, so we might as well populate the U.N. with some delicious eye candy rather than nominate another John Bolton bore fest. Dubya, let’s make this happen.