EppsNet Archive: Orange County

Walking in Irvine is Not a Good Way to Meet People

14 Nov 2015 /

Unlike walking in San Francisco, walking in Irvine is not a good way to meet people. This is what my walk to Starbucks looks like on weekend mornings . . .

Walking in Irvine

See You in Hell

11 Oct 2015 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

I’m hearing a lot of Orange County residents complaining about the heat this weekend. Take it from someone who knows about heat: 98 degrees is not heat. You’ll see what I’m talking about soon enough. Enjoy the 98-degree temperatures while you can.

On a related note, why does everyone say “Jesus Christ, it’s hot” and no one says “Satan, it’s hot”?

See you in Hell . . .

The Coffee Goes to 11

14 Sep 2015 /

We stopped in at the Nespresso coffee bar at Geary and Grant just before leaving San Francisco to drive back to Orange County. For the iced latte that I wanted, the menu offered a choice of three coffees ranked by “intensity”: 4, 9 or 11. The 4 seemed too low, and I saw no reason to go with the 9 and leave the extra two intensity points on the table, so I selected the 11.

I didn’t notice any off-the-charts intensity as I was drinking the coffee but it kicked in on the drive home, somewhere near Salinas. I could have driven straight through to South America, such was my level of alertness and energy.


Dogs in San Francisco

7 Sep 2015 /
Dachshund and Golden Gate Bridge

If you’re a dog or a recently released felon, you are welcome in San Francisco. Not only are there lots of people walking in SF, there are lots of people walking with dogs. French Bulldogs, Huskies and Pomeranians seems to be especially popular.

Until he got too old to really enjoy it, I took Lightning to the Irvine dog park six days a week (it’s closed on Wednesdays) for years. I’ve spent a lot of time around dogs, so I’m better than most people at identifying dog breeds.

We were walking in San Francisco last weekend when my wife pointed and asked “What kind of dog is that?” Before I could say “It’s a Labradoodle,” our boy said “Labradoodle.”

I must have been visibly stunned because he then asked me “Were you going to say ‘Goldendoodle’?”

“No . . . you’re pretty good at identifying dogs now.” This is a totally new talent. When he left Irvine, I’m not sure he could tell a dog from a squirrel . . .

Walking in San Francisco

6 Sep 2015 /

Our boy is working and living in San Francisco now, We went to visit him last weekend . . .

It’s hard to drive and park in SF so a lot of people walk to where they need to go. Our hotel was a few blocks from the boy’s apartment but for the most part, we left the car in the parking garage and walked everywhere.

On a couple of occasions, we met one of his co-workers walking past us in the other direction. (His office is nearby, 7-8 blocks from his apartment, but it’s a startup, not a huge company like Transamerica with lots of employees.) On another occasion, we met a couple of his college classmates from Cal sitting near us at a local eatery. This is not to mention the friends, classmates and co-workers that we planned to meet up with because they also live in the vicinity.

I’ve lived in Irvine and worked in town or nearby for 15 years and I never see anyone I know walking around the city, probably because I don’t walk around the city and neither does anyone else. Well, I take that back . . . on weekend mornings I usually walk about a mile to Starbucks for coffee. The average number of people I meet on those walks is approximately 0.0.

But even when we go to restaurants. movies, stores, public events, etc., I very rarely see anyone I know. Very rarely.

It’s funny that a big, international city like San Francisco feels more like a neighborhood than does a typical suburban community . . .

San Francisco from Nob Hill

Photo Credit: louisraphael

At the Kite Festival

23 Aug 2015 /

Kite festival kitefest2

It’s Later Than You (I) Think

24 Jul 2015 /

Driving through the parking lot at Irvine Marketplace, I slow down to let an old man walk across in front of me. Hurry it up you elderly bastard!

As I get a closer look, I recognize him as a former college classmate. Which means he’s the same age as me.

He is fatter and balder than I am though, so at least I’ve got that going for me.


18 Jul 2015 /

Rain cloud

Unexpected rain in July makes my decision not to wash my car since last year look eerily prescient.

The Bamboo Ceiling

7 Jun 2015 /

Michael Wang had a 4.67 GPA and a perfect ACT score. He placed first in the state of California at the AMC 12 – a nationwide mathematics competition. He performed with the San Francisco opera company, and sang in a choir that performed at Barack Obama’s first inauguration. He volunteered his free time to tutor underprivileged children.

He applied to seven Ivy League schools and was rejected by all seven.

I saw recently that a local kid from Fullerton High School here in Orange County was accepted at all eight Ivy League Schools. His name is Fernando Rojas.

Fernando Rojas

Here’s another young man, Harold Ekeh, who was also accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Harold Ekeh

Last year, Kwasi Enin was accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Kwasi Enin

A study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400). Espenshade found that Asian-Americans needed a 1550 SAT to have an equal chance of getting into an elite college as white students with a 1410 or black students with an 1100. I suspect that disparity has, if anything, widened.

If you’re Asian and applying to Ivy League schools, don’t hesitate to check the box next to “Black” or “Hispanic.” Or Eskimo. Eskimos are kind of Asian-looking.

Teaching Computer Science: Ask More Questions

20 Apr 2015 /
Primary School in "open air"...

English: Primary School in “open air”, in Bucharest, around 1842. Wood engraving, 11x22cm

You need to ask more questions. I think there’s a general fear about asking questions. There’s a risk of looking foolish in front of the whole group when it turns out that everyone else already knows the answer.

It’s actually very unusual for someone to ask a question to which everyone else knows the answer. If you find it happens to you a lot, you probably want to get that checked out, but normally it’s very unusual.

Another scenario: Somebody, maybe a teacher, says something and you think “That doesn’t make sense. I wonder if it makes sense to everyone else. Rather than risk looking foolish in front of the whole group, I’ll wait and see if someone else asks a question.”

So you wait for someone to ask a question and no one asks a question. Why? Because they’re all waiting for someone to ask a question.

Many people, including teachers, are not good at organizing their thoughts and articulating them with precision and that’s why you can’t understand what they’re saying. Don’t assume that it’s a problem with you. You need to move people to a position of clarity by asking questions.

Also, people love the person who’s willing to ask questions because it relieves them of the need to ask questions.

Education, like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Don’t sit in a class with unanswered questions in your head and let everything wash over you like a tidal wave.

My own kid, even in a good school district, I don’t feel like he got a good education because of good teachers, I feel like he got a good education in spite of bad teachers. He got a good education because he put a lot into it and he got a lot out of it. And his classmates who got a good education did so because they put a lot into it and they got a lot out of it.

All of which is a long way of saying “ask more questions.”

Any questions?

Carjacking Diversity

20 Mar 2015 /

Female carjacking suspect

Carjacking is like STEM in that it’s a profession in which women are seriously underrepresented so I celebrate this woman as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness.

No Class Today

2 Mar 2015 /


— via KTLA

Merry Christmas from Irvine

10 Dec 2014 /

Christmas in Irvine

Teaching Computer Science: No School After Halloween

4 Nov 2014 /
Indonesian scholars

Indonesian students crossing a collapsed bridge to get to school

There was no school yesterday because the Newport-Mesa Unified School District at some time in the past noticed that a lot of kids didn’t show up the day after Halloween, so they decided not to have classes on the day after Halloween. Evidently this applies even if Halloween is on a Friday, followed by two weekend days plus an extra hour on the time change. Kids still need that extra day to get ready for academics again.

Some time ago, I saw a news story about kids in Indonesia who had to cross a river via a rope suspension bridge to get to school. Then the bridge partially collapsed so it looked like the photo on the right. And of course the kids are determined to get an education so they’re all basically climbing their way across the river and back every day.

If the bridge collapsed completely, they’d probably swim across.

Meanwhile, American kids need 3 days off to bounce back after Halloween. I showed the class the photo of the kids crossing the river. “This is why everyone hates us,” I told them.

I don’t understand this policy of “kids don’t want to come to school after Halloween so we’ll just take the day off.” I don’t think kids want to come to school any other day either. It’s inconvenient. You have to get up early, sit at a desk and listen to people talk all day. Let’s just cancel school entirely!

If I were in charge of education, not only would schools be open after Halloween but I’d make sure that we covered a ton of critically important material that day so that anyone who wasn’t there would be hopelessly behind and never catch up. I want to see who the competitors are. You don’t want to show up after Halloween? OK . . . have fun at community college.

Work is the same way . . . on the plus side, it gives your life the illusion of meaning but on the other hand, it really cuts into your day. Get used to it kids . . .

As Bad as the Real Obama

1 Nov 2014 /

Obama mask

We had a big batch of trick-or-treaters show up at one time last night, about 9 kids age 12 and under.

“Who are you?” I asked the first kid.

“The Hulk.” I gave him some candy.

“Who are you?” I asked the second kid.

“Thor.” I gave him some candy.

“Who are you?” I asked the third kid.

“Obama.” He showed me a wadded-up Obama mask in his hand. I didn’t give him any candy.

“Put the mask on,” I said.

“I don’t want to. I can’t see.”

Meanwhile, the other kids kept coming to the front and announcing their costumes . . .

“Superman.” “Batgirl.” “Pink lady from Grease.” “I’m John Cena.” “Witch.” “Minnie.” They all got candy.

Finally no one was left but me and Obama.

“Who are you?” I asked.


“Put the mask on.”

“Come on!”

“You’re not doing your job. Geez, you’re as bad as the real Obama.”

It’s Election Season in Irvine

26 Oct 2014 /

It’s election season . . . campaign signs dot the Irvine landscape.

As I drove to lunch with co-workers, one of them pointed out a sign for Ira Glasky, who’s running for school board or city council or something.

“He’s probably trying to cash in on the name recognition of Ira Glass,” he said.

“Who’s Ira Glass?” I asked, and he told me but I’ve since forgotten. A person on the radio, I think.

If I were a campaign manager, I wouldn’t be advising my clients to coattail on the popularity of people no one’s heard of.

“Maybe he’s trying to play into the popularity of Dashiell Hammett’s 1930s crime novel The Glass Key,” I suggested.

Another Irvine candidate, Lynn Schott, is in a local women’s networking group that my wife belongs to. I offered her a free campaign slogan — “Lynn-sanity!” — but she’s not using it.

This New Coffee Place is Not Going to Make It

5 Oct 2014 /
What do you think?

Trying out a new coffee place by our house . . . I order an iced coffee and pay $4.50 for the only size they have, about the size of a Starbucks grande, which at Starbucks is less than three bucks.

I take the coffee over to the condiment station, taste it and decide to add some sugar.

The proprietor surprises me by walking up and saying “Taste it first before you add sugar.”

“I did taste it,” I assure him.

“Does it need sugar?”

“That probably depends on who’s drinking it. If I’m drinking it, it’s going to need a little sugar.”

I think I’ll stick with Starbucks. The coffee is cheaper and the staff lets me do whatever I want with it, no questions asked.

People I Thought Were Dead

19 Sep 2014 /
Close to You (Johnny Mathis album)

I got an email this afternoon notifying me that priority tickets are now available for a Johnny Mathis concert Nov. 8 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. If you’d asked me this morning if Johnny Mathis is still alive, I would have said “I don’t think so.”

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

6 Jul 2014 /

Riptide warning sign

The worst thing you can do to people, aside from physical injury, is give them the idea to blame their failures on vague impersonal forces or the actions of anybody but themselves. It doesn’t promote success or happiness. I don’t know any happy people who think like that.

For example, I read this in a New York Times article about an impoverished area of West Virginia:

John got caught up in the dark undertow of drugs that defines life for so many here in McDowell County.

That is just awful. I live in Southern California, not too far from the ocean . . . I’m familiar with undertows (although I’ve never heard of a “dark” undertow). First of all, sorry to be pedantic but undertows aren’t dangerous . . . they’re just after-effects of individual waves. What’s dangerous is a riptide . . . a concentrated flow of water that can jet you offshore in a matter of seconds.

Maybe John got caught in a riptide of drugs.

Some beaches post signs warning swimmers of riptides on high-risk days, but in general, getting caught in a riptide is an unfortunate but unavoidable event. Drug abuse is optional. It’s a decision you make about your life.

(I’m assuming here that no one sticks a funnel in your mouth and pours drugs into it against your will . . .)

Rickie Lee Jones at the Coach House

6 Jun 2014 /

We saw Rickie Lee Jones at the Coach House Sunday night. I’ve been an RLJ fan since . . . I think it was 1979, when this young woman I’d never heard of showed up on Saturday Night Live and sang “Chuck E’s in Love”:

It might be possible to watch that now and say, “What’s the big deal? I’ve heard women sing like that.”

Not in 1979, you didn’t. In case you’ve forgotten or blocked it out or you weren’t born yet, in 1979 we were listening to Olivia Newton-John, Debby Boone, and similar lame-ass bullshit. (Or Christopher Cross, Barry Manilow . . . the male singers were equally uninspiring.)

I couldn’t have been more electrified if she’d capped off the performance by whacking the Captain and Tennille across the face with her beret.

RLJ’s style influenced a lot of singers, including some who’ve been much more commercially successful, and she really hasn’t I think been properly recognized for that.

She didn’t have a band, just played guitar and piano and sang. She sounded great, reinventing some of her best-known songs with new tempos and phrasing. As I mentioned when we saw Neil Young’s stunning solo show in April, a lot of performers hide their shortcomings as musicians and singers by adding a band, backup singers, electronics and other accoutrements, but when you’re up there all by yourself, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s organic music.

She told some stories between songs, many about living in New Orleans after moving recently from LA. Topics included voodoo ladies, fireflies, impromptu parades and neighbors who sit out on their front porch and wave to you.

The venue was sold out. That’s good. I feel like we were part of something. There was a long standing ovation at the end of the set . . . people went on clapping for several minutes even after the house lights came up, which I don’t remember ever seeing before.

Here’s the set list, to the best of my recollection:

Weasel and the White Boys Cool

Sympathy for the Devil

Young Blood

The Last Chance Texaco


It Must Be Love

On Saturday Afternoons in 1963

We Belong Together

Living It Up

The Weight


Chuck E’s in Love

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