Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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Random Fixation

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Just a quick warning: This post will be a little technical and probably boring to most, but I am pleased with my accomplishment and wanted to share.

If I set out on a mission, I will not generally quit until I have completed the mission successfully. This is especially true when it comes to internet and programming matters. I am not a programmer by trade, but have learned a lot about the server-side scripting language Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP). For readers in the dark already, PHP allows simple and advanced programming operations to be completed on the server before the page is served to the viewer. The benefit of this is one need not worry about browsers inappropriately interpreting your code and making things look undesirable.

Many operations on this site and others I have produced use both simplistic and more advanced scripts, generally based upon something I have found online and adapted for my use. A few were written specifically for me by a few very generous people whom are often the ones helping me learn as we go along.

I decided tonight during an unusual television-watching session that I wanted to reconstruct the operation of the "Random Fixation" "Media Library" window, which randomly displays musical works I own and enjoy. As it stood previously, the HTML code needed to generate the information was placed into an array that randomly displayed each time the page was loaded or refreshed. A very simple randomisation script was modified and used for this purpose. However, adding new entries was a cumbersome task, requiring lots of scrolling and copy/paste actions. The immediate solution was apparent: I needed to build a MySQL database and use it as a back-end to serve the data to the randomiser.

PHP programmers, this is your cue to begin laughing. Hysterically. I am sure there were much easier, more proper and cleaner ways to accomplish this feat, but after five hours of coding, testing and failing, I figured out how to do all this. I did not even ask one person for assistance, for which I am particularly proud. My next addendum to this project will be modifying the script to allow people to view all of the selections (thirty-four at the time of this writing) at once. Nevertheless, that will have to wait until I stop seeing PHP code when I close my eyes.

So if the site suddenly catches fire or vomits a spew of error messages your way, chance may be that I managed to bollocks up the works. Should that be the case, please let me know!

Dine and Dash

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
People that cannot fully plan ahead for multiple contingencies should probably steer away from a life of crime. If there were a children's version of Cops, the following story would probably had been a good candidate.

While leaving the local Denny's, a teenage boy pushed his way past my party through the double-doors of the vestibule. After exiting fully, he took off in a run. Not too far behind him was the waitress. We were not paying that close attention prior to the waitress coming outside, so we did not see where he went.

She did. A minute later she came walking back to the entrance with the guy closely behind, speaking, but it was incoherent at our distance. After being inside for several more minutes, he emerged and left, presumably in his vehicle which was parked behind the restaurant where he had run.

I had to learn more, so I went back and asked the waitress some questions to wrap-up the story a little more and confirm our suspicions of what had just gone down. The waitress said that when she approached the vehicle, the guy was inside it obviously readying to go. She pointed out to him that she had his car's colour, make and tag number so it would be a good idea to follow her back inside to pay his bill and avoid the involvement of the police. His grand defense was that he had dashed outside to check on his friend. After paying, he left and drove off.

A lame crime being pulled off (or not) in a terrible, non-planned manner by a teenage boy who was not even cute. That is practically a crime itself.

Bullets

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Just a few quick bullets...

  1. I thought this and this were hilarious.


  2. I saw Adaptation last night and thought it was great. No formal review for this one; if you like Jonze and/or Kaufman, you will probably like this film.


  3. I have new headlamps and CV Axles on my car. Yay!


  4. The Oscar® contender that was the highest grossing movie this past weekend: Kangaroo Jack. 17.6 million. I guess the kids were bored... or something.


  5. I will scream if I read/watch/hear another person, whilst discussing the recently past Golden Globe® Awards, refer to it as some sort of fashion show.


  6. I wish I spun. Delerium is doing a remix contest. The winner's track will be on the remix disc of their upcoming Chimera album. The single, "After All," is intoxicating.

Restaurant Review: Hue

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
I had the opportunity to visit the year-old Hue restaurant located downtown at the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue. The facility is snugly featured inside the monolithic Thornton Park Central that I find represents the new trend toward making downtown Orlando more like a "real" city, like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. I am not a fan of this trendy, urban and hip persona because I mostly find it to be pretentious and unlike the actually trendy, urban and hip city centres around the world. Yeah, sue me.

That said, I approached Hue with cautiousness, a friend and a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to get us started. It was around 2030 last Saturday night when we arrived after having entered a pay-parking garage to spare us more walking than necessary in arguably one of the coldest Florida evenings this season. This was another immediate concern upon entering the restaurant.

Normally, there is a full compliment of customers enjoying the spacious outdoor patio seating area. With temperatures slated to fall to the low to mid thirties, the largely middle-aged crowd was jam packed into the rather small bar/lounge area. As the wait for a table would be 45 to 60 minutes, we trekked to the bar (it was quite a feat to approach) and ordered the House Cabernet Sauvignon, which we both surprisingly enjoyed. Our wait brought another element that was not perfect. Since the outdoor patio was unused and all those people, plus the bar/lounge's normal compliment was occupying that small space, my dinner partner and I had to stand practically at the hostess' podium to avoid being incessantly knocked into.

A few more rounds of wine later, we were seated in a very artistically lit room that contained very little actual decoration or artwork, but more in design, lighting, colour and some accessories accomplished the decorative element.

The server was prompt, friendly and informative. The arrival of the menus ushered in a new aura of the fancy restaurant stench I was hoping to avoid: they print new menus every day, sometimes more often depending on availability and the whim of the master chef. A novel idea perhaps, but I would rather see the trees and ink spared in exchange for the server simply telling me what they had run out of that evening (that night it was one of their many fish dishes, a prominent staple on the Hue menu).

I ordered the mid-range priced Wood Grilled Filet Mignon with Steak Sauce with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Sauté of Vegetables ($27.00) and my dining partner purchased the lower-range priced Oven Roasted Chicken Breast with Tomato Basil Glace, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Pesto Vegetable Gratin ($17.00). Our entrées were preceded with a fresh loaf of bread served with a unique, but excellent garlic butter.

Contrary to our expectations, our food was wonderful. The meat of the dishes was prepared exactly as ordered (medium-rare for my steak) and seasoned excellently. The chicken was moist, flavourful and tender. I am not a fan of sweet potatoes as a rule, but my mashed sweet potatoes were phenomenal (the first time I have had them mashed, actually). Both dishes came with a small compliment of vegetables that could only have been better had more been included. An original au jus-esqe sauce came with my steak and was an excellent addition to an already perfectly prepared slice of nearly fat-free meat.

When all was said and done, my dinner partner and I enjoyed ourselves, had a wonderfully filling, but not over-portioned meal and adjusted our previous judgements. Sure, the miasma of pretentiousness still fills the air and the tab ended up being around $80.00 (before the gift certificate was taken into account and including our pre-table bar tab), but I would certainly never discount an opportunity to visit again.

Scott Joseph's Orlando Sentinel Review [ review ]
Hue - A Restaurant [ official site ]

Joe's B.S.

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
My step-father's barber shop was recently featured in the Orange County edition of the Orlando Sentinel. As they only keep articles on their website for a finite period of time, the text of the article is below.

Joe's B.S. is located at 979 West Fairbanks Avenue at the corner of Fairbanks and Adanson Street. The telephone number is 407.645.4551.


Flattop haircuts on watermelon heads test barbers' skills
By Jim Toner, Commentary
January 16, 2003 [ original article ] offline

As a teenager in the '50s, I once wore a hairstyle that was considered pretty stylish despite Elvis Presley's ducktails.

It was called the flattop.

And I was pretty particular about it, too. A flattop should be flat. Right?

Once, when I kept demanding that a barber take a little off one side, then the other for balance, he became exasperated.

"Look, kid," he explained. "It's not easy to give a watermelon head a flattop."

That's about when I started wearing my hair like James Dean. Most girls missed the connection, though.

But the sharp-tongued barber was apparently right about challenges posed by the flattop.

"Flattops are the most difficult to learn how to do," said Ross Nichelson, who runs an Orlando barbershop that has been in the family for almost a half-century. "If you make a mistake, you can't hide it."

While watermelon heads are easy to spot, another barber in Nichelson's shop, Judy Curtis, says there are perils when giving a flattop to an unfamiliar customer with a head full of hair.

You know, those people who, as Curtis puts it, "look like refugees from the '70s."

It's that little knob on the crown of the head. It's not so little on some people. When they get a flattop, that knob sticks out like Mount Rainier.

This is important, because the flattop is back. So are other short cuts. Nichelson says they account for 40 percent to 50 percent of his business. They ought to. There's a banner draped outside the shop, on Fairbanks Avenue, proclaiming "Flat Tops are our specialty."

The shop is called Joe's B.S., named after Nichelson's uncle, Joe Fallucca. No one is sure when Joe first opened his shop. They just know he moved it to the Fairbanks location just off Edgewater Drive in the '60s.

He had to move. When Edgewater was widened to four lanes, they took out his old building at Dowd Avenue.

Nichelson learned barbering and joined his uncle in 1985. His uncle died a year later but had pretty much turned over the business to him.

Nichelson said his uncle, a World War II veteran and former prisoner of war, had so many of his old buddies come in that he had to learn how to do a flattop fast.

He also added some touches to the shop. He always loved working with his hands. So he hung some vintage tools on the wall. Those wall displays grew as his customers contributed to the interior decoration.

Now, the place looks like a tool museum, with things like an old drill press operated by a hand crank. A large wooden mallet also hangs there for "quick" flattops.

The presence of those contributed tools almost gives his customers a piece of the place. Besides Nichelson and Curtis, Ruth Wells cuts hair at Joe's. Curtis and Wells have been there for years.

All give flattops. Some customers have their favorite barber; others just grab the first open chair. It is truly a neighborhood barbershop.

The B.S. in Joe's B.S. stands for barber shop, though there is a sign on the wall that reads:

"Cows may come and go but in this place bull goes on forever."



Jim Toner can be reached at jtoner@orlandosentinel.com or 407-772-8034. Copyright © 2003, Orlando Sentinel.
In May 2009, Ross was again featured in the news, which you can read in "The Barbering Program."