July 31, 2005

Peanut Gallery Closed

I've been a bit busy.

I haven't even posted pictures from my son's birthday party 3 months ago! It's been almost 5 months since my last blog post. I haven't even read any of my friend's blogs lately.

It comes with having a life, a job, a family, and running Windows XP on my home computer. I spent my "free time" for the last several weeks chasing down an overheating CPU, a copy-protection dll identified as a trojan horse, a crashing DVD player, and a digital converter that simply refuses to install. All of you Mac-olytes can giggle all you want. I've seen and heard all about the nightmares of upgrading any Mac over 2 years old.

If one of the three people who read my blog decided to post a witty retort to my weak stab at the Mac, they'd be out of luck. I've completely removed any commenting features from my blog. It has left the building. Not ONLY did I disable it, I removed it from the code altogether. Why? Today I found over 4,000 blog-spam posts from my tiny blog of 22 posts! All of them pushed 1 of 4 things: drugs, games of chance, a bigger penis, or a lower mortgage.

I even had comments from these blog-spammers on "draft" posts that a normal surfer would never see! How'd they do that? Write an application that "posts" millions of messages on thousands of blogs each day and hope a couple actually post. These people have to be the lowest form of techno-life. We can't venture forth unto the vast internet unknown without updating spam filters on our email accounts and blogs, installing popup killers, maintaining firewalls and virus scanners, hunting down and squashing spyware. It's like having to wear a kevlar condom just to go to the grocery store.

Closing the cheap seats to the public will at least buy me back a spot of time every couple months to post some pictures of my kids, or better yet... create moments with them worth taking pictures of.

oh yeah... and maybe I'll actually blog about something worth reading ;-)

- Lito

Posted by Lito at 03:30 PM

March 06, 2005

Magic Red Carpet Ride

The past 6 years living in LA provided a fair share of typical star sightings-- 2nd & 3rd degrees of separation to Fred Savage, the cast of ABC's "Still Standing", Keanu Reeves and Anthrax, a location shoot of Nora Ephron's "Bewitched" with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell outside my employer's front door, and countless "hey! isn't that... uh... you know... that guy from that show!?" My daily commute through Beverly Hills makes me wonder if the Bentley that just cut me off was driven by 50 cent, or was it Dr. Phil? However, we've never been on the other side of the velvet rope-- until yesterday.

John Varvatos hosted his 3rd Annual Stuart House Charity Benefit at his Melrose Avenue store. Since my wife recently began employment at Stuart House, she received an invitation... not an invitation to "work" the event, but as a guest. A totally surreal experience; driving up to valet in my Honda Hybrid, confirming we were "on the list", waltzing nonchalantly past the paparazzi prior the arrival of someone actually worth photographing, and joining the crush of humanity in the small boutique.

It was an intriguing collision of "be" attitudes-- the beautiful people, queen bee's, wannabe's, has-been's, and 'cause we gotta be here's. We were obviously part of the looky-loos, trying to figure out if that red-head is someone we should recognize, or craves recognition. Jesse Malin performed while trays of mushroom tarts, petit fours, goat cheese profiteroles, and Izze Sparkling Juice floated through the crowd. There were almost 100 nifty items up for silent auction (none of which we won) and several big-ticket items auctioned off by Eric McCormack and Garry Shandling.

David Schwimmer sang mighty praises of Stuart House to the audience, while Henry Simmons did the same for the news crews along the velvet rope. We heard from others that Dennis Hopper, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jeffrey Katzenburg, Brendan Fraser, and a slew of others were among the crowd, but we never picked them out. Regardless of the overly beautified people and house-hold names, the atmosphere on the other side of the rope was nowhere near as stand-offish as I expected. These were people willing to donate their time, money and celebrity for the efforts of my wife's employer. Events like this make it possible for Stuart House to offer their services free or charge, without the bureaucracy of state or federal funding.

Aidan was delighted with the story tellings by,

Jennie Garth, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Brooke Shields. But he was done with the whole affair shortly after and pleaded with us to go home, so we didn't actually see Jackson Browne perform (although we nearly stepped on his foot while attempting to navigate the human mass).

We drove off from valet, sandwiched between luxury SUV's and Porsche Boxsters to the next intersection, where my wife spotted Meg Ryan in her brand new Toyota Prius in the next lane. I must admit, at first glance I thought, "hey! isn't she... uh, you know... that girl from that movie!?"

- Lito

ps. The dark, blurry photos are my own. Check out some shots by the pros at Daily Celeb and London Features International.

Posted by Lito at 10:06 PM

November 27, 2004


To announce the birth of my daughter Nadia, I decided against the traditional cigars or candy bars to hand out to family, friends, and coworkers. I had to get a hold of personalized mint tins-- Birth Announcemints!

Those who've seen my desk at work know I'm a complete fool for mint tins. From Altoids to Starbucks, Penguin to Bawls mints-- I have over a hundred of 'em. My personal favorites are the Altoids. The "curiously strong©" flavor, the delightfully irreverent ad campaigns, everything about them is too cool.

I thought it'd be easy enough... just buy a bunch of custom tins online and hand 'em out. Unfortunately, what I found online was too expensive, unimaginative, and no telling what the mints tasted like. When I told my wife how disappointed I was, she suggested I "make my own."

So, I found well-priced empty tins sold in bulk at Specialty Bottle, glossy, round ink-jet labels and replacement ink cartridges at Desktop Publishing Supplies, and the Altoids were on sale at Sav-on Drugs and Cost Plus World Market.

I used Adobe InDesign for the layout (and a lot of influence from Altoids Sour tins).

To make sure the layout matched the pre-cut labels, I printed up test sheets and used my lighbox to tweak the alignment.

The assembly consisted of peeling labels, sticking 'em on the tins, and scooping Altoids into them over a couple of days.

The count was around 90 tins (half peppermint, half cinnamon).

The final cost, including padded envelopes and postage for out-of-town friends and family was less than the cost of most online custom shops... and the final design was much more to our liking. So far, the labels have held up to minor abuse, but they're not mass-production worthy.

- Lito

Posted by Lito at 11:22 PM

November 06, 2004


What IS that smell!?

ah... it's the rank smell of a stale blog! I KNEW this was going to happen. We always get too much and start shoving things to the back of the fridge and end up forgetting all about it until the neighbors call the Health Dept over that sweaty, green cloud.

And it's not like there hasn't been anything to talk about...

- The birth of my beautiful daughter, Nadia.
- Potty-training my son, Aidan.
- The outcome of last Tuesday's election.
- anything else about California drivers that pisses me off.
- Recent movies, books I'm *sooooo* far behind in reading.
- Gearing up for house-hunting again.

Lotsa stuff the 3 (actual) people who read this blog might want to read about... or not.

Which brings me to an all too common topic... blog-spamming. I was amused and embarassed to see that my blog has dozens of comments from such upstanding contributors as "penis enlargement", "weight loss information propalene", and "teen sex." I have so few posts, it'll be an easy task to just trim and block 'em out. So far I haven't had enough reason to disable comments (even though the legitimate comments number around... 2).

more later (even if it's muuuuch later) ;-)


- Lito

Posted by Lito at 11:24 AM

August 07, 2004

Home, home out of price range

My wife and I just spent a couple months looking for a simple 1500+ sq ft, 3+ by 2, detached, with great curl appeal to call home. Our awesome agent showed us a ton of places....

Alas, the only place we actually submitted an offer for was not interested in anyone with 100% financing. The recent explosion in real estate prices combined with all-time low interest rates made for quite a volatile market. A lot of people jumped into the market with very risky loans right when interest rates started to bounce back. As mentioned in a recent New York Times article, The Ever More Graspable, and Risky, American Dream. Use account info
user: noneof
password: yourbusiness
to read the article.

At either rate, we decided to hold off our search until 2005. It's too close to the pending birth of our daughter and it allows us more time to save up, since our purchasing power is bound to shrink as interest rates start to climb back up.

- Lito

Posted by Lito at 12:48 PM

January 25, 2004

Hello, World!

So now I have a 'blog'... I'm not sure what the big deal is. I really don't expect a lot of people to actually read every entry. I know I don't read everything I see on the internet. The industry that puts food on my table depends on people using (and trusting) the internet. But 'blogs' are not newspaper articles, penned by "professional" writers and scrutinized by experienced editors before appearing in the public eye. They rarely amount to little more than 'post-its' of an individual's random thoughts-- brain farts.

That said-- I believe I've effectively set any expectations of meaningful, thought-provoking prose from this 'blog' very, very low.

enjoy... I know I will.

- Lito

Posted by Lito at 06:28 PM