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Showing posts from January, 2005

Picture of the day: Iraqis Vote

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Kaus and Sullivan Sparing Over Iraq

AS responds to Kaus (Thursday January 27, 2005 10:14 P.M. post) criticisms.

AS offers these numbers to guage "success" in the Iraq elections.Here are my criteria: over 50 percent turnout among the Shia and Kurds, and over 30 percent turnout for the Sunnis. No massive disruption of voting places; no theft of ballots. Fewer than 500 murdered. We shall see. Wonder what the Bushies have in their internal memos? I suppose something like that might not get put on paper?

Voting in Iraq

We take voting quite for granted here in the USA. Over there, they face death threats to vote.

Here is an item from AP at Yahoo! News. Excerpt:YOUSSIFIYAH, Iraq - Just ahead of the first free balloting in Iraq (news - web sites) in half a century, the nation battened down for the vote, imposing a 7 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew on Friday and closing Baghdad International Airport. Five U.S. soldiers were killed in the capital

The curfew will remain in effect through Monday and the nation's borders will be sealed for the election period. Medical teams are on alert and nationwide restrictions on traffic will be imposed from Saturday to Monday to try and deter car bombs.Iraqis living in the US are voting in various locales in the USA as told in this news item. Excerpt:SOUTHGATE, Mich. - Hundreds of Iraqis streamed into polling places in five U.S. cities Friday, the first day they could vote in their homeland's election. Nearly 26,000 people have registered to vote in five U.S. metropolit…

LA Dining: Kiku Sushi

In my continuing exploration of Larchmont Village, I went the other day to Kiku Sushi.

It is a cute little Japaneses place with bar seating, a small number of tables and outside seating options.

Food:
Food was quite good. Freshness of food is really important at a Japanese restaurant and this place passed that test easily. The cooked black cod was delicious. We also had the usual mix of rolls and sushi.

Service:
Eager service from the staff with the sing-song-sound of Japanese and English with a Japanese accent floated throughout the restaurant. The chefs behind the bar notice and greet incoming customers with a hello and a friendly wave.

Atmosphere:
Nice brightly lit place. One of the walls has polaroids of past customers. A tad short on space between tables so probably not the best for conversation type dates but ideal for foodie couples.

Price:
Dinner for three with tax and tip came out to around $60.

Location:
Kiku Sushi
246 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Ph…

Photos from Africa

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Isn't the internet amazing?

Below are some photos I received in the email from a friend who is traveling in Africa. In the old days, friends back home would have to wait for the traveling friend to come back to the US, develop the photos and then find a time to meet to look at photos. Now, a string of ones and zeros through cyberspace zip from one computer to another and we can all see them at more or less the same time while the traveler is still over there!

Her first stop was Egypt.









Her next stop was Zambia where she is teaching at Northrise University.

Here are the happy students.



Aren't the women's dresses so colorful?



To read more about what is going on in Zambia, click here.

In 2003, I had the chance to visit a country just south of Zambia called Botswana. To see photos and travelogue from that trip, see here.

Why are there no atheistic critics of evolution?

The controversy over evolution has been in the news with the dust up in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania regarding additional resources for biology class that describe intelligent design (ID). This disagreement over whether ID should be mentioned rages also in Ohio and in Georgia the controversy is over putting labels on biology books saying evolution isn't the only explanation.

One of the "higher beings" of the blogosphere has cited comments from Kevin Drum who opposes ID on establishment clause and definition of science grounds, gotten email from Michael Barone who is agnostic and intrigued by ID and quoted John Derbyshire who is against ID over at conservative NRO.

One item that has come up is that criticism of evolution is religiously motivated; thus, the ideal critic of evolution would be an atheist. Instapundit wonders aloud, I suppose there are atheistic Intelligent Design fans out there somewhere, but I don't think I've met one.

I asked a philosoph…

Donate blood if you can

Tried to give blood today at my workplace. It was pretty busy with lots of donors on the couches.

They stuck the needle in my right arm. But no blood! They moved the needle around to see if it was in the right spot. Still nothing. Another one of the staff took a look... she thought it looked good... the needle was in the vein. But no blood! Ack... I have no blood! 8-)

She pulled out the needle and then flicked it a bit and voila... a skin clot! She said it happens once in a while that a bit of skin gets into the needle and plugs it up.

She said, you want to try the other arm? She didn't push and quickly said. well, maybe another time, eh?

I have pretty low tolerance for needles so I opted out.

Maybe, I'll blog about my next attempt. What do you think gentle readers: blood blogging! Eww, sounds like a horror movie!

To read more about donating blood check these pages over at the Red Cross.

If you meet the criteria, please do as your donation could help save a lif…

Need to hear something to rally the spirit?

Try out this site for audio clips of some famous movie speeches. While you are at it, check out main page where they have many catagories of rhetoric.

Gotta love that St. Crispin Day speech from Henry V.

Another one that I clicked on that stirred my soul was speech to incoming freshman at Cambridge in Chariots of Fire.

Here is the text of the speech:

I take the war list and I run down it,
name after name, which I cannot read,
and which we who are older than you
cannot hear without emotion;

names which will be only names to you, the new College,
but, which to us summon up face after face,
full of honesty and goodness,
zeal and vigor,
and intellectual promise;

the flower of a generation,
the glory of England;
and they died for England
and all that England stands for.

And now by tragic necessity
their dreams have become yours.
Let me exhort you: examine yourselves.
Let each of you discover
where your true chance of greatness lies.

For their sakes,
for the sa…

Saturn or Bust!

Today Huygens landed on Saturn!!

Excerpt: DARMSTADT, Germany - A European space probe landed safely on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan on Friday, a space official said, buoying hopes the mission would produce data that could shed light on the origins of life on Earth.

Officials were jubilant as early signals showed the probe powering up for entry, then beginning the 2 1/2-hour parachute descent during which it was to gather information that could shed light on how life arose on Earth.

Mission controllers were confident the Huygens probe made a soft landing because it was still transmitting steadily long after it should have landed, said David Southwood, the European Space Agency's science director.

"We know that it has landed based on the laws of gravity," Southwood said. "It simply cannot still be flying. It's got to be on a solid surface, and it must be soft."

Southwood said the early signal showed little more than that Huygens was still alive and …

At the movies: Elektra

My friend has "connections" so he got us 2 tickets for an advanced screening of Elektra on Thursday night.

The reviews have been bad. And if the rather skimpy turn out at the KROQ and Fox Studio sponsored pre-screening is an indication, the film could be on its way to video pretty soon.

The insta-review: 2 stars out of 4. I suspect because I'm not terribly objective about Jennifer Garner I give it a marginal thumbs up.

For an action film, the pacing is somewhat uneven.

As for drama, the character development is fairly miminal though we are given some details about Elektra's past and current "issues" that make her a bit more than 2-dimensional but not much more.

I only have vague memories of Daredevil where we were introduced to Garner's Elektra who was quite likable. In this film, we see a much more conflicted and darker character who I was beginning to wonder if I could root for. If it weren't for my favorable feelings towards Garner I might h…

More on the In Good Company Grace Hill Media Blogger Connection

Got the following item from Grace Hill Media:Dear Blogger friends –

Please congratulate (and maybe link to) A Large Regular on winning the IN GOOD COMPANY Blogger Screening contest. A Large Regular is hosting all of his friends and loved ones at a special screening tonight in beautiful Worcester MA.  In the close-but-no-cigar department, four runners-up, The Parson’s Pantry, Hand Coding, Rene’s Ramblings and Inside Alex’s Brain received a stunningly handsome IN GOOD COMPANY leather briefcase - suitable for actual use or maybe a quick buck on E-Bay!

Thanks again to all the Bloggers who signed up. We look forward to the next time!

Warmly,
Your friends at Grace Hill Media

Bloggers @ the movies: In Good Company

Last night, saw In Good Company with some LA area bloggers. See the trailer and visit the official movie site to check it out.

I liked the movie. It is a coming of age slice of life film with Dennis Quaid as an aging ad executive whose family means the world to him and Topher Grace as the wiz-kid MBA half Quaid's age who takes over Quaid's job whose life has never included family. The conflict between the two at work is inevitable which gets heightened by events outside their work lives intertwines them with comic and dramatic results.

Scarlett Johansson whom I loved in Lost In Translation continues to prove the saying that sometimes less is better in acting. She does speak more than in Lost In Translation but still says so much with just her expressions. She comes across as quite believable, vulnerable and likable as Quaid's college aged daughter.

I loved the compilation of songs used as the soundtrack of the movie. I can't say I recognize the lyrics of many of …

LA Dining: La Piazza

Met some friends for dinner at La Piazza located in the Grove.

Food:
Food was okay. Nothing to write home about. I sampled some of the food from my tablemates. The portabello mushroom salad was pretty good. The pasta dish was average. My pizza was okay but not spectacular.

Service:
Interestingly, as we walked in some customers walked out muttering that the service was awful. At that point, we thought about bailing out. However, we decided to give them a chance. We had friendly and attentive service! So service within a restaurant can vary considerably!

Atmosphere:
It is a pretty nice looking place. There are some window seats that look out into the shopping mall and on a busy day (and most days are busy at the Grove) it would be great people watching.

Price:
4 people for dinner came in a little over $100. We didn't eat all that much. The four of us shared an appetizer. And for entrees, one of us had salad, another pasta, another pizza and another a regular entree.

L…

LA Dining: Chan Dara

I'm slowly crawling up Larchmont and trying the various restaurants there. So one night, got all the way to the north end of Larchmont. Chan Dara is on the corner of Beverly and Larchmont. It had rather a crowd but the host said we could get a seat in a handful of minutes.

Food:
Had some Tom Yum soup which was excellent. Had the salmon salad which was okay but not spectacular. Had the black sea bass which was amazing. I don't know how they did it!

Service:
It was actually rather poor that evening. It was very crowded with people spilling into the street so I might have to cut them some slack.

Atmosphere:
There were some large celebration groups and a fair share of couples.

Price:
2 people dinner sharing soup, salad and entree came out mid-$50.

Location
310 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 467-1052

LA Dining: Chaya

With the big rain outside, am staying inside and will catch up on some restaurant blogging.

In the Beverly Center neighborhood there are a number of nice restaurants. One of the best has got to be Chaya.

Food:
Consistently excellent food with terrific presentation. Fish is usually the downfall of most restaurants because things get busy and fish gets overcooked. Doesn't happen here. California is noted for "fusion" cuisine and this place does it as well as anybody. Nearby Chaya is the famous stargazing spot the Ivy. I've eaten at the Ivy a couple of times. Reservations are needed as it is a popular spot. I have to say I like the food at Chaya better. Ivy's food is okay and really you are paying for the reputation of it being a star-gazing spot.

Service:
Attentive service from good-looking staff. Wonder how many are aspiring actors?

Atmosphere:
Have only been there for lunch. It is an ideal impress the client type of place. Looking around it seems to …

Blog Marketing: In Good Company

I got the following email from Grace Hill Media:There’s been overwhelming response from bloggers responding to the offer for free tickets to an advance screening of IN GOOD COMPANY.

So Universal Pictures and Grace Hill Media wants to respond to that enthusiasm by upping the ante: any blogger who signs up for the free tickets and then posts this offer and a link to the IN GOOD COMPANY trailer on their site will be automatically entered in a contest to win their very own private screening of IN GOOD COMPANY in their town. The winner can either fill the screening with their friends and family, or see the film alone with that special someone – it’s entirely up to them. One lucky blogger here in the US will win. Sign up at info@gracehillmedia.com and send us your link. And of course, all the non-winners will still be eligible to attend an advance screening in their area.I've seen the trailer and it looks like a movie worth seeing. So often when I see trailers at the movie house my…

Dodger reconstruction project

Certainly, a lot of the recent moves have generated some grumbling among fans.

However, as pointed out in this LAT article, the Dodgers haven't exactly been doing all that well until last year so maybe change is in order.

Excerpt:"With Paul, what you view superficially is just that — superficial," Beane said. "It may not become apparent to you off the bat, but given the time, he can give you at least five reasons why he did what he did for now and the future.

"He's just brilliant. If everyone's playing checkers, he's playing chess. He's always been one to recognize the present and the future at the same time. He's got an incredibly creative mind."

The primary reason DePodesta is making so many changes is that he believes they are long overdue.

"In all honesty, this organization needs a pretty significant overhaul, and has," he said. "[Former general manager] Dan Evans was in the process of doing it. He understood it neede…

financial tip of the day

Did you know you can get your credit report for free?

So says the Federal government.

Check out the new mandate from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Excerpt:

Consumers in the Western states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — can order their free reports beginning December 1, 2004.

Consumers in the Midwestern states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin — can order their free reports beginning March 1, 2005.

Consumers in the Southern states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — can order their free reports beginning June 1, 2005.

Consumers in the Eastern states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Vi…

For entertainment purposes only

Everyone has a prediction and I'm usually wrong.

But here goes:

Sugar bowl
Va Tech 21
Auburn 17

UPDATE: See, I was wrong. Auburn 16 VT 13. Though, the Hokies blew some good opportunities and could have won the game as I predicted. I was right that the score would be lower than the over/under on the odds pages. I tend to think in big games the defense rises up and the offense gets tentative or misfires a bit.

Orange Bowl
USC 23
OU 21

UPDATE: See, I was wrong, again! Barring something really really strange, this is going to be a rout. It is in the middle of the 2nd quarter and USC already leads 28-7.

UPDATE: OU manages to get a field goal making it 28-10. OU needs the defense to force a turnover to change the dynamics of the game. OU's offense probably can score -- afterall UCLA managed to score with a B+ QB at the helm and special teams play -- but to make up an 18 point gap, you need the defense to make something happen.

UPDATE: USC TD 35-10. Stick a fork in th…

Brined Turkey

I wonder if the brining helps keep the turkey moist? Or is the main factor keeping an eye on the cooking and avoiding overcooking the turkey?

Anyway, I recently attempted a brined turkey for an large family gathering by making a few modifications of this foodnetwork.com recipe.

14 lb turkey was brined overnight in the following solution:
1 gallon water
1T ground cloves
1T ground ginger
4T cracked black peppercorns
1T cracked coriander
1T cumin
12 bay leaves
1 pound kosher salt
8 ounces brown sugar
Bring to a low boil to get everything dissolved.

Stir in and mix well...
16 ounces honey
24 ounces maple syrup

Add this last...
8 ounce port wine

For the turkey stock:
Fry up turkey neck and gibblets in some olive oil.
1/2 C port wine
1 C roughly chopped onions
1/2 C roughly chopped carrots
1/2 C roughly chopped celery
2T rosemary
5 peppercorns
Add water and boil for 90 minutes adding water as needed.
Strain into container and add water to yield 4 cups of stock

Butter to rub on turkey:
1 s…

BCS bowls

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Well, the Rose Bowl turned into high drama. I only saw part of it on TV but saw the highlights in the sports news later in the evening. Though I'm fond of the conference tie-ins of the traditional bowl system, it is hard to argue with a dramatic game like the one Texas had with U of Michigan.

The Fiesta Bowl highlighted Utah's powerful offense. One wonders how they would have fared against somebody stronger than the Panthers.

The Sugar Bowl is set for Monday night. If Auburn beats up Va Tech, they will make a claim for a share of the mythical National Title though I think it will a hard case given that USC and OU have been 1 and 2 all year.

The Orange Bowl will be Tuesday night and it looks to be an epic battle as both have Heisman QBs and RBs who vied for the Heisman. As Pac-10 partisan, I have to root against OU. As a Bruin alum, it is hard to root for USC. But I'm expecting it to be a good contest and it could come down to the final possession with a field goal…