Showing posts from February, 2006

LA Dining: National Pancake Day - February 28

Did you know tomorrow is National Pancake Day?

Does it sound more healthy than Fat Tuesday?

Anyway, my latest post over at is up.

Devotional Thoughts: Power of prayer

Matthew 21:20-22 is a familiar saying of Jesus. The gist is that with faith one can move mountains. It is a metaphor for God can do the impossible.

I confess, my level of faith is not super duper high. I'm very much in the "doubting Thomas" category of Christian.

However, having said that, I do believe God works in mysterious ways and in what appears to be impossible ways.

Living in Los Angeles and having lived in other big cities like San Francisco and Washington DC means I have seen people who live on the streets. In most cases, it is due to drug or alcohol abuse or both. It is a sad reality of big city life. I feel terrible when I see it.

But there are two amazing things about that circumstance.

(1) There are people who want to help these people. Los Angeles Mission and other organizations like that offer help to these individuals. In the end, I don't know how many percent of the people they serve eventually get off the streets but I admire the willingness to…

Culture: Mozart 250th Birthday Celebration - LA Phil plays the Requiem

If you follow classical music even casually, you may have noticed a lot of Mozart being performed these days.

It is all part of marking his birth 250 years ago.

I finally went to one of the many all Mozart programs that are being offered this year.

The first piece of the evening was Piano Concerto No. 19.

I got to my seat a few minutes before the start of the program and in my hurry, I didn't pick up the program until intermission.

So when I saw the pianist take the stage, I noticed he looked really young!

He did a wonderful job with this happy little piece.

During intermission, I got a program and saw that the pianist was a last minute substitute because of illness. Orion Weiss is merely twenty-four! He is getting some gigs around the USA according to his schedule over at IMG Artists.

There was another substitution also for illness. Celena Shafer joined three other young soloists for the Requiem.

Photo credit: Dario Acosta
Image source:…

Culture: Giada's White Bean Dip - my variation

Giada De Laurentiis of Everyday Italian on Food Network has a wondefully simple recipe for white bean dip.

The following ingredients are blended into a paste: cannellini beans, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh Italian parsley leaves, salt and black pepper.

I liked it a lot and have made it a few times.

I've recently tried a modification to get a different flavor. I substituted lime juice and shallot for the lemon and garlic.

I think it makes for a milder taste but also very enjoyable!

Give it a try and see what you think!

Devotional Thoughts: judgment falls fast on fruitless fig tree

For this morning, am looking at Matthew 21:18-19.

The Bible often draws its stories from the ordinary and here is Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem and notices a fig tree.

He goes over to it to see if there is any fruit to eat. Noticing there is no fruit amidst the leaves, he says, may you never bear fruit again! And, at that instant, the fig tree withered.

Interestingly, the same story is related in Mark 11:12-14. The extra detail there is that in verse 13 it says that it was too early in the season for fruit.

So why would Jesus be so harsh on the poor fig tree for having no fruit?

Well, as a city person, I have no knowledge of fig trees. But I do have the internet and a quick search got me to the California Rare Fruit Growers information page about figs.

Also, here is a web page devoted to Figs in Israel!

Image source:

Anyway, if I am reading it correctly, there are two fruits seasons. The leaves fall off in the fall (of cours…

Sports: 20, 21, 20, the right numbers for UCLA tonight

20 points scored by Aaron Afflalo.

21 points scored by Jordan Farmar.

20 unanswered points in middle of the 2nd half to put the game away.

Saw my second game of the season at Pauley. UCLA won 78-60 over the Beavers.

In the first half, the Bruins were out of synch on offense (the Bruins looked especially confused against the OSU 2-3 zone) and the defensive intensity wasn't there. The Beavers were gaining confidence with every minute and went into half-time with a 6 point lead.

The Bruins came out in the second half with some sharp shooting and initially, the Beavers were holding there own. Then, the defensive intensity went up a notch and the Beavers got panicky on offense and boom, a 20-0 run and Oregon State didn't score for 8 minutes.

Sports: Olympic posts over at TTC

When the blogger servers were having trouble, I posted a few Olympic items over at my other blog, Two Tin Cans. Items:Joey Cheek's Support of "Right to Play" a sports humanitarian effort
The difference between first and second in speed skating
The tough day the USA women athletes had on FridayOne reader chided me in the comment section about letting Lindsey Jacobellis off too lightly. I responded to the comment in the comment section.

I suppose I did cut her some slack. Certainly, what she did wasn't a good thing. But in the realm of athletic behavior, her youthful exuberance as a fault doesn't compare to the antics of Bode Miller and the sniping between Davis and Hedrick.

Good to see the TEAM USA ice hockey women bounced back with the 4-0 win over Finland to claim the Bronze. Katie King the oldest player (30) on the team had a hat-trick (3 goals) against Finland and finished the tournament with the most goals (6) for TEAM USA. Sarah Parsons the youngest (18) g…

Having trouble with blogger

The last few posts have disappeared.

I think maybe this blog has gotten too large for blogger?

Until I figure it out, I'll be blogging over at Two Tin Cans.

UPDATE: Looks like it was a database problem at the Blogger server side. Anyway, will test post and see if it disappears!

Sports: Only in America - USA Ice Hockey Forward Julie Chu

When you see her photo and her name, Julie Chu, you know right off the bat she is of Chinese ancestry but the USA on her jersey says she is as American as anyone else on the Women's Ice Hockey Team.

Her ancestors hail from the same part of China as mine! Her story reads like a typical immigrant success story. Excerpt: Chu's father, Wah, was born in Canton (now called Guangzhou), China. The capital of Guangdong Province, Canton is a busy port and a commercial and industrial center on the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River), in the southern part of the country. Wah moved from Canton to then British-controlled Hong Kong at age 1 with his mother, who did not want her son growing up in communist China. In 1967, the mother and son emigrated to the U.S. when Wah was 16. Wah and his mother took up residence in New York's Chinatown, located on the Lower East side of Manhattan. Shortly after arriving in Chinatown, Wah was attending a youth group meeting at a neighborhood church when he met h…

LA Dining: Bravo Cucina

My latest post is up over at LAFB.

The dinner was at Bravo Cucina in Santa Monica.

The post also reports on a talk about the famous Italian Cookbook, "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well."

Bravo Cucina
1319 Third St. Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: 310.394.0374
Fax 310.394.3037
Hours: Mon - Thu 11 am to 10:30 pm
Fri- Sun 11 am to 11:30 pm

Sports: Women's Ice Hockey, USA vs. Finland

Its 3-3 in the 3rd period!

The youngest member of the team Sarah Parsons has two of the three USA goals.

Chanda Gunn is in the nets for the USA. The USA Women have spent more minutes in the penalty box and two of the three Finland goals have been on the power play. Only one of the three USA goals have been on the powerplay.

High drama for Team USA!

You go girls!

UPDATE: Its a final, USA 7 Finland 3. The ice tilted to the USA Women in the 3rd period as they peppered the Fins with 13 shots-on-goals compared to 3. Of the 13 shots, FIVE of the biscuits went into the basket. Angela Ruggiero stepped up big from her post on defense with two goals and one assist in the key third period.

Devotional Thoughts: Give you praise

Am looking at Matthew 21:14-17 this morning.

Jesus had just cleared out the Temple of merchants and money changers. Blind and lame came to him for healing and they were healed. As you might guess those who were healed gave praise to Jesus.

Interestingly, the text records that the Temple leaders were alarmed and with specific mention of what the children were saying.

In verse 15, it said, even the little children in the Temple shouted, "Praise God for the Son of David."

Verse 15 continuing into verse 16 said, the leaders were indignant and asked Jesus, "Do you hear what these children are saying?"

Jesus responded, "Yes. Haven't you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, you have taught children and infants to give you praise."

Why was this so troublesome to the religious leaders?

I suppose (1) Jesus healing people showed his power which would draw the people's loyalty away from the them (2) Jesus accepting the designation "Son of David" wou…

Sports: Olympic Backstory - Chanda Gunn

image source:

Was surfing through the Olympics web page by NBC and I stumbled across the story of USA Women's Hockey goalie, Chanda Gunn. Excerpt:Gunn was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 9. The affliction, which has caused her occasional seizures, forced her to give up sports deemed unsafe with the condition, such as swimming. It changed her life and was one of the reasons she pursued hockey.Wow!

Talk about persistence in the face of an obstacle!

The biography also described how her hockey career nearly came to an end in her first year in college. Excerpt:Gunn began her collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin, where she only played seven games before leaving the program to deal with her epilepsy. When she was ready to return to school, Wisconsin didn't have the room. "There weren't a lot of college hockey teams in the market for a goalie who had been in and out of the hosp…

Sports: Bruins defeated by the Huskies

Bruins edged out by the Huskies, 70-67.

Five losses so far this season: two to the Huskies, Memphis, West Virginia and California Bears.

Putting a positive spin on it, these are understandable losses. It is likely all of these teams will be in the NCAA.

On the other hand, people might ask, who has UCLA beaten?

Of the 20 wins, how many of these teams are going to be in the NCAA?

Not many.

Its been a tough season with injuries.

Farmar, the star point-guard has sprained both ankles and who knows how many (or few) games this season where he has been 100%. Against the Huskies yesterday, he had too many turnovers. I don't know if it is carelessness or the injuries left him out of synch.

Afflalo, the other half of the backcourt duo, sometimes can get shut down as he was yesterday with a mere 5 points.

The frontcourt is getting better and if it weren't for them, the Bruins would have been blown out. Aboya who is recovering from off season knee surgery kept them in the game with …

Culture: Controversial Cartoons Muslim

I ran the Google search: "controversial cartoons muslim."

Here is one hit with reproductions of the cartoons.

And over in Wikipedia under the entry: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.

So what do you think?

I can't help but think of the upcoming film, "Da Vinci Code."

The film based on the book has the premise that Christianity and in particular Catholicism is a conspiracy to hide the true identity of Jesus and that Jesus had a child with Mary.

To read a response to the Da vinci Code, go here.

To my knowledge, there have been no riots regarding the book or the film and Dan Brown is probably working on his next novel.

Sports: UCLA Bruins up in the Northwest

When you go on the road, all you want to do is somehow get the win even if it is an ugly one.

The stats are looking terrible at the moment (as of 11:58 in the 2nd half) with the Bruins up 32-18 over Washington State.

UPDATE: Its 36-18 with 10:12 to go in the game. Farmar is leading the way with 13 points.

UPDATE: UCLA isn't exactly lighting it up but their defense is holding WSU's shooting percentage down at 24.4%. UCLA leads 36-20 with 9 minutes to go.

UPDATE: With 7:52 to go, the score is UCLA 36 WSU 20. Looking around the Pac10, Arizona and Oregon are in a close contest with Arizona leading 56-51 with 9 minutes to go.

UPDATE: Early in the 2nd half, ASU leads OSU 40-31. USC plays Washington and Cal plays Stanford later tonight.

UPDATE: 5:06 to go and UCLA still holding on to a double digit lead 43-26.

UPDATE: 4:15 left and UCLA is up 45-26. Farmar and Afflalo are both in double digits leading the Bruins.

UPDATE: Farmar hits a three! 48-28, UCLA leads with 3:30 to go! A…

News: Downtown LA Tower Plot Foiled

Today's news about a terrorist plot to hit downtown Los Angeles was not surprising. We always figured that it was a target but it has now been officially acknowledged by the Bush administration.

Here is a photo of the US Bank Tower formerly known as the Library Tower.

image source:

Devotional Thoughts: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable

Am looking at Matthew 21:12-13 this morning.

This is the incident where Jesus goes to the temple and drives out the merchants and money-changers.

Since people would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, they wouldn't bring the animals with them. They would use money to buy them there and then use them for sacrifices. And I suppose if they came from far away they might need to exchange currency.

Jesus takes these people to task saying to them, "The Scriptures declare, my temple will be called a place of prayer but you have turned it into a den of thieves."

Jesus' objection to them seems to be that the merchants and money-changers short changed and short weighed the customers and thus were acting like thieves. Another possibility is that this activity was taking place on temple grounds (perhaps in the outer court) and not just near the temple.

To read about the temple, check out this article from the non-religious online info source


Religion: Animism

Had a very brief conversation with someone the other day who claimed to believe in animism.

I said, I'm not sure what that is. I think it is some kind of nature worship?

He didn't confirm nor deny my proposed definition. He went on to say, all cultures have some animistic beliefs and they are very ancient beliefs. All the other organized religions came later and are expletive deleted.

I asked, perhaps you could fill me in on what you believe animism to be.

He opted not to and that was the end of the conversation.

I decided to look it up. offers this definition:1 : a doctrine that the vital principle of organic development is immaterial spirit
2 : attribution of conscious life to objects in and phenomena of nature or to inanimate objects
3 : belief in the existence of spirits separable from bodiesAs a Christian, how do I react to these three definitions of animism?

(1) Christians accept to some extent definition one. Humans are material (body) and immaterial (soul + spi…

Culture: Friday night lights and my downtown

In the old days before blogging, one (and I did so) could take pen and paper and write bad poetry to get things out of your system. Now, with the internet, one can do so on the computer and have the whole world read it on a blog! 8-)

And so a bit of relentless navel gazing with tangential angst ridden blogging prose; the cyberspace equivalent of bad but cathartic poetry.

Last night went to see a basketball game.

I left there feeling happy again.

Seeing the parents and friends and students cheer for every basket whether it was made by a star like Stepheson or one of the far-end bench-warmers sent in to finish a blowout game was a good feeling after a long week in the life of a solitary lab rat.

I'm of a certain age and one of the songs I know is the old Petula Clark hit, Downtown:When you're alone
And life is making you lonely,
You can always go downtown
When you've got worries,
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the…

Sports: Friday night lights - high school basketball

Went to see a high school basketball game last night.

The contest was between Harvard-Westlake Wolverines vs. St. Francis Golden Knights. HW won easily, 88-42.

It was the final home game of the season and senior honor night. The crowd cheered for each senior as announced and the senior would present a rose to a parent. After that, the game began.

It was close for part of the 1st quarter. But it was clear that the Wolverines were taller and more athletic. And in particular was the star of HW, Alex Stepheson who vacuumed up every loose ball and played above the rim. Suffice to say he has been heavily recruited. In the end, Roy Williams of the UNC Tarheels was able to sign him for his dominent play.

The atmosphere of the game was energetic. On one side of the gym was the home team bleachers which was almost full. The opposite side of the gym was the guest bleachers and the team benches. That side was about half full. I went to the home side of the gym and at one end, the parent…

Sports: UCLA against ASU

UCLA escaped their last game against ASU by a mere one-point.

And it looks like another tough game tonight, as UCLA leads 32-30 at the half.

The stats show it is the Farmar show tonight with 15 points. Afflalo is cold again shooting 1-5 with only 2 points so far. Afflalo needs to step it up along with one of the front-line guys if they are going to hold serve at Pauley.

UPDATE: Neither side is doing anything in the 2nd half. 8 minutes into the second half and UCLA has scored only 8 points and ASU 3. UCLA still holds the lead 40-33.

UPDATE: Its a final: UCLA 69 ASU 60. Afflalo finished with 17 points. Good to see some of the forwards chip in on the offensive end too: Bozeman 10, a Moute 8 and Hollins 6.