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Showing posts from February, 2005

In memoriam: Jacov Tal (1940-2005)

I recently received news that Jacov Tal died. He was remembered in the journal Retrovirology in an editorial titled, Jacov Tal (1940 - 2005): remembrances of a friend.

When I was a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH, I shared bench space with him for several months. I remember he was a very expressive man sharing stories and opinions about whatever with never a dull moment. I feel appreciation as I look back at that short but good time of our interaction because I received encouragment from him, the seasoned veteran of research life, while I was just starting out. Lastly I sense, as all do when someone you know even if only briefly has passed from the scene, a sadness that time went by so quickly. He returned to Israel after his sabbatical at the NIH and I got an email from him me wondering if I would someday visit Israel and stop by his lab. I emailed back that indeed, visiting Israel was something I hoped to do in my lifetime. He wrote back, well, you know some people's li…

Oscar blogging

Well, since I'm an LA-based blogger, I have to at least have ONE post about the Oscars!

If you are a regular visitor to this outpost on the web, you see the occasional movie review. I wouldn't be considered a big movie goer though. And as proof of that, I offer you this tidbit: I haven't seen any of films nominated for the big awards!

I'll print out the Oscar nominee list and make my predictions before show time so you can use them! I won the pick'em contest two years in-a-row (several years ago) at Oscar viewing parties - "Past performance is not an indicator of future results" - and on those years I also saw either none or one or at most two of the nominated films!

UPDATE: Here you go, my picks for the Oscars...

The big six:
Actor - Jamie Foxx (won)
Supporting Actor - Morgan Freeman (won)
Actress - Hilary Swank (won)
Supporting Actress - Virginia Madsen (Blanchett got it)
Directing - Marty finally wins one (Eastwood wins it, his third)
Picture - Aviator, tho…

What I'm listening to: Brubeck "Take Five"

It has got to be one of the most mesmerizing pieces of music!

The producers of West Wing closed out tonight's episode with "Take Five" as three of the story threads wound down at a White House party.

After the show, I cued it up on my iTunes!

Thoughts at the midnight hour

Isn't it odd that sometimes clarity of thought comes at the midnight hour?

I suppose maybe the quietness of the hour has something to do with it.

I suppose because one is not dashing off to go do something might help focus the thoughts of the mind.

Was browsing a book loaned to me by one of my guy buddies.

The book is titled, "Singles at the Cross-Roads" by Albert Hsu from InterVarsity Press, 1997.

Was flipping through the book reading a paragraph here and a paragraph there.

One section caught my eye and after reading it, I had to blog about it.

pp. 156-157 excerpt:

Celibacy is not as foreign a concept as we might think.... It is no higher calling for singles to be celibate than for married couples to be monogamous. Just as married couples vow to be monogamous, these singles vow to be celibate.
...
A single who is committed to celibacy will develop the discipline needed to practice fidelity in marriage.... If one cannot be celebate as a single, how does one expect to be faithfu…

Isn't the internet amazing? Streaming audio

As I type this, I'm listening to UC Irvine Anteater Basketball via KUCI streaming audio.

Since the Anteaters are a small basketball program, they are not on the big AM sports radio stations.

But with streaming audio, I'm listening to the game against Long Beach State.

42 seconds left and the Anteaters have the ball but are behind. They just missed the shot and had two follow ons but failed to score. The Beach get the rebound.

UCI is now down by 4 with 18 seconds left. Missed the 3 and goes out of bounds. Long Beach State has the ball and immediately fouled.

10 seconds left.

Its a final. LB 55 UCI 50.

UCI drops to 7th in the Big West.

LA Dining: Cafe Pinot

Looking for some downtown dining? Looking for a place for the pre-show dinner or the post-matinee dinner? Give Cafe Pinot a try.

Cafe Pinot is part of the Patina Group of restaurants.

Food:
Terrific food. I had the Caesar salad for appetizer. For entree, I had the lamb loin. My other dining companions had the duck and the veal. I got to sample a bit of the meats from the other two meals and they were excellent as well. Portion sizes are appropriate and well presented. Obviously, you aren't going to Cafe Pinot to stuff yourself! For dessert, the three of us split the creme brulee and the chocolate decadence. Yummmmm...

Service:
Service from the staff was friendly and generally good. However, we were there with the post-matinee opera crowd AND as the pre-musical crowd was arriving there so things got pretty busy and some customers were unhappy.

Atmosphere:
Nice indoor and outdoor seating. We had outdoor with the heat lamp which works pretty well. The outside has a view of the …

LA Scene: LA Opera performance of Verdi's Aida

I've gone to the LA Opera once a year for the last three years. It is a great excuse to dress up and to experience the emotional power of the performing arts. Indeed, it is a little expensive but for an annual treat, it is just fine.

I've seen Turandot, Madama Butterfly and now Aida.

As an opera novice, I don't have a large pool of knowledge to draw from to comment but as I compare it with the other two I've seen, it is more emotionally satisfying than the other two. Not more emotionally intense, that prize goes to Butterfly but more satisfying in that I don't leave the opera house feeling terribly sad (Butterfly) or having a ambiguous sense of the reality or non-realty of the love of the two characters (Turandot).

It is a running joke about opera that everyone dies at the end though in Turandot that isn't the case but there was the threat of death!

Well, in Aida, I hope it doesn't ruin it for you, dear readers, for me to say that death happens at the end. …

Bruin Basketball

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The last time I saw a Bruin men's basketball game was three years ago. That team was the second to last group that was under coach Steve Lavin. On that night, UCLA pulled off the upset of Arizona when Jason Kapono hit a go ahead three pointer. Arizona had one final possession with very little time on the clock and didn't score.

That UCLA team was hot and cold all year and promptly flopped in the Pac-10 tournament in the first round but then in the NCAA stunned U of Cincy Bearcats in the second round to make it into the Sweet 16. The Bruins led slightly against the Mizou Tigers in the second half but then ran out of gas going down to defeat.

The Bruins have not made it to the NCAA since.

The Pac-10 has been on the decline and it is generally believed that only the top three teams will go to the NCAA this year. Currently, UCLA is in third place but today face Arizona.

I saw UCLA defeat ASU last Thursday night 95-76.

It was their best all around effort this season. Defense was …

Sherry, I can relate...

One of my periodic blog visits is to Scheherazade's Stay of Execution. Sherry, for short, is a recovering lawyer living in Maine who writes beautifully and honestly.

Obviously, one can't really "know" somebody really well via a blog but it does provide a window into their thinking and their world and often times I find myself saying, yup, you said it right, Sherry.

Demographically and from what personality traits that show through in her blog says we are probably polar opposites in many things. Yet, I find I visit her site time and again because she is able to put into words the thoughts that are bouncing around in my brain looking for words.

Here is a sampling of some of her recent posts:

On politics...
I worked at a venture capital firm for a while and really do love capitalism and the creativity and innovation that accompany entrepreneurship.  I am sometimes impatient with my more liberal friends at how easily they seem willing to hamstring businesses (alway…

Friedman on Iraqi Vote

This item in the NYT will not be free for much longer. Thus, here are some excerpts from International Affairs writer Thomas Friedman.As someone who believed, hoped, worried, prayed, worried, hoped and prayed some more that Iraqis could one day pull off the election they did, I am unreservedly happy about the outcome - and you should be, too.

Why? Because what threatens America most from the Middle East are the pathologies of a region where there is too little freedom and too many young people who aren't able to achieve their full potential. The only way to cure these pathologies is with a war of ideas within the Arab-Muslim world so those with bad ideas can be defeated by those with progressive ones.

We can't fight that war. Only the Arab progressives can - only they can tell the suicide bombers that what they are doing is shameful to Islam and to Arabs. But we can collaborate with them to create a space in the heart of their world where decent people have a chance to fight …

What I'm listening to: Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel (track 11 "In Good Company" soundtrack)

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A friend sent me a surprise gift of music.



One of the tracks, Solsbury Hill, in particular tele-ported me to my youthful days.

According to this web page, the song is autobiographical about Gabriel as he prepared to leave the group Genesis.

Here are the lyrics:

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
(I) just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
"Son," he said "Grab your things,
I've come to take you home."

To keepin' silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Tho' my life was in a rut
"Till I thought of what I'd say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked r…

Just another Patriot Super Bowl victory

What can you say?

They have won 3 of the last 4.

You have to take your hats off to them.

The key stat: THREE interceptions of McNabb.

One less interception, the Eagles probably tie or win the game.

As for the infamous TO, you have to give him credit for taking the field and being a factor in the game.

LA Dining: Echigo

Looking for a real sushi place?

Give Echigo a try.

They only serve sushi items. No noodles. No teriyaki. No California Rolls or any other mutant forms of the real deal.

Food:
I'm not a huge sushi fan but this place was recommended by a friend who is. I think my prior experience with sushi may have been skewed by trying not so good places. At the risk of sounding unsophisticated, some of my prior sushi meals left me feeling like I was eating bait. I have gone fishing and use fish bait and it has that fishy aroma. None of that aroma as you walk into the restaurant and none of that in the 9 individual items I had. Clearly they are passionate about what they are doing as each item was hand crafted on the spot. Some items are artfully decorated with a bit of chopped vegetable while others have tiny swirls of sauce.

Service:
Eager service from the staff. As each sushi item was prepared, it is brought over without fanfare and the occasional word of advice, no sauce please.��…