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Showing posts from 2017

European Night at Anfield

Transfer rumors continue and speculation of the starting XI in the Echo.

There are rumors that Barcelona will make a fourth offer for Coutinho .......

As for the starting line-up speculation, probably the same line-up that played to a 2-1 lead at Hoffenheim will be selected. Possible changes: Robertson slotted in for Moreno at left back and Milner taking Wijnaldum's spot in the midfield.

If Robertson's fitness level is high enough, I'd say it is 50/50 he starts. Klopp rested Moreno and Alexander-Arnold with the intent they be fresh to run at Hoffenheim tonight.

Am less certain about Milner and his 31 year old legs getting the start over Wijnaldum. If LFC is protecting a lead, Milner may well be one of the first substitutes to come in.

Will be interesting to see how Mane holds up as he has started 3 straight games and does a lot of running out there. Solanke would probably come in to take Mane's spot as a substitute, hopefully, due to the fact that LFC has the lead and …

LA Galaxy - are they done for the season?

Van Damme was a vital veteran presence last season but has struggled this season. The Galaxy front office has been open to family circumstances. Previously, they allowed a before the contract was up transfer for Stefan Ishizaki back to Sweden in anticipation for the birth and raising of his twins. Van Damme has expressed his desire to go back to Belgium to be closer to his children. And so the management fielded offers and made a deal happen. Thus, the Galaxy bid farewell to Jelle Van Damme by completing a transfer to Royal Antwerp FC in the top Belgian League.

Here is the highlight farewell video prepared by the LA Galaxy media team:

There is reporting but nothing official that says the LA Galaxy will be bringing in Michael Ciani from France. Looks like he played a number of minutes at first division French league for many years but fell out of contract after the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season and has been looking for a club to play for in the 2017-2018 season.

Mathematically, t…

40 years of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2

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Looking forward to seeing the documentary this coming week at PBS August 23, 2017 9/8c!



Read more about Voyager at the JPL-NASA web page.



image source: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/assets/images/news/planets-16.jpg

Eskilstuna 3 Malmo 1 - huge upset in the Swedish top league

In a stunning upset, number 16 of 16, relegation bound Eskilstuna defeated Malmo, the top dog of the league by a wide margin.

Let's go to the CMORE highlight package:



With such a stunning result, I went to a Swedish newspaper and did Google Translate to see some commentary about the match.
Excerpt:

"I'm really disappointed. I hate to lose. It's the worst thing there is," says Safari and continues: "There are no easy matches so I do not understand if we ever underestimate a team. You can not do that." [......] Midfielder Franz Brorsson, who was tough at Buya Turay, was equally cursed. - We are not included. We think it will be easy. That it should only work by itself, but it does not work even if they last. Brorsson also questions the attitude of the team. - We are too bad simply. When the referee is blowing we are not there. We think you can only stand the shoes. It does not work.

I suspect some of the phrasing was "lost in translation" but I …

LFC 1 Crystal Palace 0

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With the huge match against Hoffenheim on Wednesday, Klopp exercised some squad rotation for the starting XI.

Mignolet remained in goal but 3 of the 4 of the back four were rotated in with starts for Robertson, Klavan, and Gomez. 2 of 3 midfielders were the same with Milner slotted in for Can. Of the front 3, Sturridge started in place of Salah.

Salah came in for Sturridge at 60. Solanke for Wijnaldum at 71. Sadio Mane broke the deadlook with a goal at 73. Lovren came in for Firmino at 90 to help see out the match.

Liverpool dominated play through out getting the lion's share of possession and shots at/on goal. Given past struggles against Crystal Palace, any victory will be happily taken. In particular, keeping a clean sheet must have felt very good for the defensive corp. Certainly, can complain about not getting more goals but that is the nature of soccer: sometimes one good shot is all you need and other times you can pelt the goalkeeper and get nothing. Take the three points …

You make the call - were the two PK's fairly given? Jönköpings 2 Elfsborg 2

The first PK was awarded (see at 9 seconds into the clip) for a tripping in the box by the defender. The second PK awarded (see at 1:40 into the clip) for a handball by the defender when a shot taken in the box struck the defender.

Under what circumstances is a PK awarded?

If any of the following 10 fouls that result in a direct free kick occurs in the penalty area then a kick from the penalty spot is awarded.

Excerpt:
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force: 
kicks or attempts to kick an opponenttrips or attempts to trip an opponent jumps at an opponent charges an opponent strikes or attempts to strike an opponent pushes an opponentA direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:
tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before tou…

Third bid for Coutinho reported to total 118 million pounds

Liverpool Echo reports that Barcelona has offered 82.1 million pounds plus 36.5 million pounds based on performance.

LFC has rejected the offer.

I think the USAnfield.com guys are right that pretty much everything rests on what happens against Hoffenheim next Wednesday on the 23rd. With that issue squared away, both LFC and prospective recruits will know where LFC is at.

With a victory and assurance of more Champions League play, LFC will have more revenue coming in (thus may be willing to spend more) and will make LFC more attractive to players they are trying to bring in. If LFC can bring in a top level defender and midfielder, they maybe willing to part with Coutinho for the right price - what that number is who knows!

On the other hand, maybe LFC and FSG wants to bring in a couple more top tier players AND keep Coutinho for a run at the Premier League title and a good showing in the Champions League. In this scenario, they tell Coutinho, you help us pull this off in 2017-2018, Bar…

Revised LFC Depth Chart

Goalkeeper
Mignolet - appears to have won the #1 spotKarius - probably will see him in League Cup and FA Cup competitionsWard - may see him in League Cup and FA Cup competitionsCentral Defense
LovrenMatipKlavanGomez - central or wide defense? Or what ever is needed?Southampton is playing hard ball so VVD doesn't appear to be transferring to LFC. Southampton's business model is to sell the players they develop so the posturing is probably to drive up the price. But it is a high priced game of chicken if they overdo it they could get stuck with an unhappy player. In all likelihood, they will probably sell him to the highest bidder NOT named Liverpool. It seems there is some animus against LFC specifically because of all the talent LFC have raided from Southampton. Wonder if Klopp has another player or two they have been looking at. I think central defense could use a little more support and competition for starting spots.

Wide Defense
Alexander-Arnold - the start he got for Champion…

Laget vid Havet - GO FFF!

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image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkenberg#/media/File:Grand_Hotell_Tullbron_Falkenberg.jpg

With a victory, FFF can leap to third!

It is a road match against Degerfors so we shall see.

UPDATE: Degerfors 1 FFF 1. There are apps that track soccer scores from around the world. From those, I can get the bare bones of the story. In this case, Degerfors got the lead with a PK. FFF was able to equalize in the second half to snatch a road point. They are 1 point behind Trelleborg and the 3rd position with 11 matches to go. Can they do it and give themselves a shot at returning to the top tier league! Go FFF!

LFC needs to show up today against Hoffenheim

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image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhein-Neckar-Arena#/media/File:Rhein-Neckar-Arena_Sinsheim.JPG

All that work last season to finish fourth comes to fruition today in leg one of the Champions League qualification.

Last year's squad faced fixture congestion even without European matches and this year's squad isn't much bigger with only three transfers (Salah, Solanke, and Robertson). All three are available for selection with Salah having established himself as a first team pick. Solanke and Robertson are second team for substitution and for selection to the first team during fixture congestion.

Definitely miss having the ability to select Coutinho, Lallana, Clyne, and Sturridge for today's starting XI and VII on the bench.

From my reading around various Liverpool FC web pages, the feeling is that the XI will be more or less the same as the XI from the Watford match with the exception of Milner swapped in for Moreno. Others have voiced concerns that Alexande…

IF Elfsborg 2 IFK Goteborg 1

The opportunity for a top end of the table showing for Elfsborg is slipping away. If they had managed a home victory they would have had 29 points and be in the top half of the table. But as it is, they sit in 10th place seven points out of third and a slot in the Europa League.

Speaking of the wide-world of soccer, the LA Galaxy at one time recruited Stefan Ishizaki who was a key figure at Elfsborg. The ownership group of the LA Galaxy also owns Hammarby a historic club in Stockholm. On the current LA Galaxy, one of the bright spots in a dismal season has been the play of Emmanuel Boateng who was recruited from Helsingborgs IF.

Soccer, truly, it is a global village!

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

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On the weekend, had the opportunity to visit the Malibu Lagoon State Beach. The lagoon exists during the summer months and fills in as water flows in from the Malibu Creek. During the fall/winter season when it rains heavily enough, the water is strong enough to break through the sandbar that helps form the lagoon. With the sandbar breeched, the lagoon's water level fluctuates with the tides.

The location is home to many birds and fish. In particular, at the moment, there are two endangered species breeding in the lagoon: the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern.





image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_plover#/media/File:Snowy_Plover_srgb.jpg


image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_least_tern#/media/File:California_Least_Tern.jpg



Heron taking flight!



Egrets sitting on branches.



Had some fish, cole slaw, potato salad, and clam chowder at Malibu Seafood. Yum!



Walked across PCH from the restaurant and took a little snooze on the beach.

LA Galaxy Playoff Hopes?

Previously, I estimated that the San Jose Earthquakes would beat Philadelphia, RSL, DC United and Minnesota getting them 12 more points. Of the other seven matches, I figured they would lose four and draw 3. Thus, by the end of the season they will have 47 points.

They kept their part of the bargain this week by getting shut-out by Houston 3-0.

Under this scenario, LA would aim to get 48 points by the end of the season and to do that they needed to pick up 25 points by some combination of wins and draws in their remaining games.

LA lost 0-2. Saw the game on TV and LA looked good and put some good shots against NYCFC. However, when a team is struggling it seems they don't get any lucky breaks as those good shots by LA got saved by the goalie or bounced off the crossbar. Meanwhile, a team doing well like NYCFC can take some difficult shots and get the ball into the back of the net.

Here is the highlight package


To get to 48 they have to do some combination that gets them 25 more poi…

Premier League Week 1 - Watford 3 Liverpool 3

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Up at 4:30AM PDT - new season - same old story - Watford 3 Liverpool 3.

Right off the bat, Watford scores a goal off a corner kick - LFC fans have seen this movie before. Watford scores a goal off a corner kick in stoppage time to equalize.

A lot of credit goes to Klopp for the spirited offense of the Reds but he has not been able to turn around the defense and in particular defense against set pieces. In a recent ESPNFC article, there are many wonderful sketches of "the many faces of Jurgen Klopp" by Aaron Dana.

Well, today's face is obvious:



Can the LA Galaxy Sneak into the Playoffs?

In MLS, the clubs are divided into Eastern and Western conferences. The top two avoid the one-and-done knockout stage where #3 plays #6 and #4 plays #5 within the respective conferences.

At the moment, the San Jose Earthquakes are sixth in the West with 32 points and 11 games left.

The LA Galaxy have 23 points and 12 games left.

Looking at the SJ schedule I can see them beating Philadelphia, RSL, DC United and Minnesota. This gets them 12 more points. Of the other seven matches, let's be optimistic and predict they lose four and draw 3. Thus, by the end of the season they will have 47 points.

Technically, one can be tied in points and then go to goal difference to determine who gets the spot. But 48 points would out-right exceed the hypothetical 47 points of San Jose.

LA has 12 games left. There are only two scenarios that gets them 25 more points: 8 wins 1 draw 3 losses or 7 wins 4 draws and 1 loss. That is a very tall order given their current track record.

Can they do the follo…

Wide world of soccer: Coutinho chase, Carabao Cup, FFF on the rise

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Sources report that Liverpool FC rejected a 100 million pound offer for Coutinho. Thus, for now, Coutinho remains with the Reds. Fans at both Liverpool and Barcelona will be waiting to hear if Barcelona's owners will up the ante with a third bid.

UPDATE: Coutinho has upped the ante by placing a transfer request. From my learning about world soccer, South American players dream of someday reaching the level of being able to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Coutinho believes that time has come for him. In fairness to him, he has been quietly making that known without social media blasts or walking out of training sessions. The question now is how the high priced game of "chicken" will play out. Barcelona has a maximum number in their minds they are willing to go to to get Coutinho. Fenway Sports Group (FSG) the owners of LFC have to decide if there is a dollar amount that is "an offer they can't refuse." If Barcelona don't bid that number, LFC keeps Cou…

And so it begins: LAFC signs first designated player

Next MLS season, LAFC joins the league.

A few weeks ago, they named Bob Bradley as their coach. If you are new to soccer, you should know he was most notably the US Men's National Team (USMNT) coach from 2006-2011. His resume is long with various stops at MLS clubs prior to his USMNT gig. He followed his USMNT tenure with some globe trotting to leading the Egyptian national team, club managerial posts in Norway, France, and England.

Now, according to Kevin Baxter, LAFC has put down the first piece of the foundation of their team by signing a top Mexico national team member and La Liga club player Carlos Vela.
First Bradley now Vela. #LAFC is on a roll https://t.co/T2aG38TSP4 — Kevin Baxter (@kbaxter11) August 9, 2017 Time will tell what LAFC puts together but the opportunity for them is great as their in-city rivals LA Galaxy are in the midst of a meltdown season.

The Coutinho Chase - Whose sources are correct?

Jordi Blanco of ESPN Deportes says this morning, the deal is done for 90 million pounds + bonuses.

On Monday, UK Guardian said Liverpool FC plans to hold onto Coutinho.

Liverpool Echo sources say ...
The ECHO understands that Coutinho would accept the chance to join Barcelona if a fee was agreed between the clubs. However, he has been informed by Klopp that won’t happen and has since shown no signs of agitating for a move.

We shall see ...

Falkenberg and Elfsborg Update

The Swedish domestic competition

Week 31 is in the books in the top league of Sweden, the Allsvenskan.

Elfsborg is eighth with 26 points. Malmo is running away with it and will likely win yet another league title. The battle is for second and third and thus a ticket to the Europa League. AIK an Djurgarden have 31 and 30 points respectively.

Elfsborg has 12 games left in their season to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, in Superettan, the second level of the Swedish soccer pyramid, Falkenberg is in fifth with 27 points.

The league champs and the runner-up get promoted to the Allsvenskan. Third place teams gets a playoff with the 14th place Allsvanskan club for the chance at promotion. Currently, Helsingborg hold third with 30 points. Falkenberg has 13 games left to close the gap.

European club soccer scene for Sweden 

The Allsvenskan winner gets a ticket to the Champions League. Thus, 2016 champion Malmo entered 2017-2018 Champions League at the 2nd qualifying round. Unfortunately, the…

Portland 3 Los Angeles 1

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No Alessandrini in the lineup today. But would he have made a difference? I'd like to think so.

Sometimes the best defense is a strong offense and without enough offensive threats, the Galaxy's defense is put under pressure. Thus, it is the same old story: toothless attack and eventually the defense surrenders goals.

Pedro and Boateng linked up for the Galaxy's only goal today.



What is LA's "best" XI currently?

Obviously, you want the Dos Santo's brothers on the field and Alessandrini as these three Designated Players are costing the team almost $6 million (?) in salary and are the most talented players. But who do you put around them?

Boateng and Zardes give the team a lot of speed on the wings though their final touch isn't always there. The goal by Boateng is an example of how their speed can be effective as he put away the shot for a goal on this occasion.

Pedro needs to be on the field as he can help distribute as seen in the lone goal for the Ga…

The Big 5 in the Last 10 Years in European Soccer - Who are the best teams? Who are the best leagues?

In the soccer world, the big leagues are La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy), Premier (England), and Ligue 1 (France.)

In the last 10 years:

La Liga has been won by Barcelona (6), Real Madrid (3), Atletico Madrid (1)
As you can see between Barcelona and Real Madrid, they have dominated the competition. Not surprisingly, these two clubs probably have the largest international following

Bundesliga has been won by Bayern Munich (7), Borussia Dortmund (2), Wolfsburg (1)
Even more extreme than La Liga, is the record that Bayern Munich has run up in the Bundesliga. Currently, Bayern has won the last five in a row.

Serie A has been won by Juventus (6), Internazionale (3), Milan (1)
However, Juventus has an even stronger monopoly with six in a row currently.

Ligue 1 has been won by Paris Saint-Germain (4), AS Monaco (1), Montpellier (1), Lille (1), Marseille (1), Bordeaux (1), Lyon (1)
At first glance, it looks like this league has some parity. However, four of the last fiv…

Liverpool FC 2017-2018 depth chart?

Haven't seen any of the pre-season matches so am basing opinions on what I have read and heard from podcasts.

Goalkeepers
1. Mignolet
2. Karius
3. Ward 

Defenders
1. Lovren
2. Matip
3. Clyne
4. Milner
5. Robertson
6. Gomez
7. Alexander-Arnold
8. Klavan
9. Moreno
If LFC can sign Virgil van Dijk, he would jump to #1 on the depth chart

Midfielders
1. Coutinho
2. Lallana
3. Henderson (hope he can stay healthy)
4. Wijnaldum
5. Can
6. Grujic
If Naby Keita gets signed, he would jump to #2 on the depth chart

 Forwards
1. Firmino
2. Salah
3. Mane (wonder how well he has recovered from injury?)
4. Sturridge (if he can stay healthy)
5. Origi
6. Solanke
7. Ings (wonder how well he has recovered from injury?)

Observations of a LA Galaxy supporter

Went to the LA Galaxy vs. Manchester United friendly on July 15. As a Galaxy fan since 2010, I know that these friendlies are for the European clubs to show the flag and pump up their USA fan base. I was a Galaxy fan in a sea of red!

Within a matter of minutes, LA was down a goal on a defensive turnover. The Galaxy got beat 7-0 by Manchester United in 2014; thus, this looked familiar! By half time it was 3-0 and the Galaxy had maybe one rush against the United.

Coach Onalfo played the “B” team in the first half and the “A” team in the second half. It really is a tough situation for the Galaxy as this match takes place in the middle of the season. The team is tired overall and some players are in various stages of injury – some recovering while others clearly not at 100% but playing through them.

For the “B” team, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on the same field as players they watch on TV and in FIFA video games. For the “A” team, there is some pride on the line to not b…

LA Galaxy off-season

Post started on November 17, 2016 and will update as more news comes in.

Who is going to stay and who is going to go?

Here are team stats at the LA Galaxy web page and below are the players with significant minutes and would be in the conversation about who is staying and going:

Contracted exercised and on roster (updated 12/12/16)
* Protected from expansion draft (updated 12/12/16)
Goalkeeper
Rowe*
Kennedy
Diop*
Defense
DeLaGarza* - going to Houston
Rodgers*
Cole*
Steres*
Romney
Van Damme* - LAG looking to re-sign the veteran defender - his has signed as a DP.
Midfield
Garcia
Husidic
Lletget* - contract extended
Mendiola*
Boateng*
Forward
Jamieson IV*
Villarreal*
Lassiter
McBean* - returns from loan
Dos Santos*
Zardes*

Out of contract:
Defense
Leonardo - goes to Houston via re-entry draft
Sorto*
Midfield
De Jong - released mid-season
Gerrard - has confirmed he is moving on
Donovan - plans to retire; rumors of RSL interest
Larentowicz - signed with Atlanta
Forward Keane - has confirmed he is m…

Politics: Emoluments Clause

There is a lot of talk about the "Emoluments Clause."

Here are a few items you could check out about this matter:
Here is an item from ConstitutionCenter.org giving the history of how the clause has been complied with over the years
WaPo legal opinion/analysis item from Volokh Conspiracy legal affairs blog
WaPo item from their news section giving a rundown of the lawsuit that has been filed

Am not a Constitutional scholar nor do I play one in the movies but my gut reaction is that the lawsuit will probably fail for the reasons mentioned in some of the above articles:
Standing issues - the plaintiff has to be harmed in some way to have standing for a lawsuit.
Non-applicability - routine business activity may not be covered under the clause.

Ultimately, the goal for Trump critics is to use the clause as a way to initiate impeachment and/or force a resignation. However, impeachment is not lightly undertaken. In the history of the US, only two Presidents (Andrew Johnson and Bill…

Politics: Trump Inaugural Address

I heard the speech on radio so I can't comment on the "optics" of the speech.

In no particular order, these were my impressions I scribbled after the speech. I have expanded on the initial thoughts for this blog post.

1. Vintage Trump - for better and for worse. Sounded very much like his campaign sales pitch. Very direct prose with just a few moments of poetry. In the past, we have come to expect "poetry" from Presidents in big moments. Even Bush 43 who was not known as a great orator would rise to the occasion. Trump, in the speech, was very much "the guy at the bar telling it like it is." I understand he has to be true to his own style and that is proper. However, he is now president of the whole country and will need to adjust his speaking style in big moments to include some "poetry." In big moments, POTUS needs to evoke some sense of the historical context of the moment, extend olive branches to the people who didn't vote for you, …

Politics: Trying to Understand Trump

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I've been trying to get my head around the Trump phenomena and I found listening to these two podcasts to be helpful.

Robert Costa (currently a reporter at the Washington Post) was one of the first reporters to start covering Trump and recognized he was a serious candidate during a little covered Trump visit to Iowa very early in the campaign process in 2013. In this interview, Costa shared many anecdotes that illustrates the traits of Trump that voters were drawn to. Costa has a plaque at his office that says, "Assume Nothing" that allowed him to observe and report on Trump without dismissing him like many other typical political reporters.



After seeing this episode, I looked for more episodes in the "Uncommon Knowledge" series and found this item about J.D. Vance and his memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy." Vance grew up in the "rustbelt" where some of the "rural white working class" live and that Trump often talked about and championed. I…

Politics: By the numbers Presidential popular votes

The electoral college is the official Constitutional body that votes for the President of the United States.

The national popular vote tallies gives us a window into how divided the nation was around the time of the election. Suffice to say, in most elections, the national popular vote reveals division among the voters.

For what it is worth, by the numbers, the percent of voters who did NOT vote for the elected President since 1980.

49% voted for candidates other than Reagan in 1980
41% voted for candidates other than Reagan in 1984
47% voted for candidates other than Bush in 1988
57% voted for candidates other than Clinton in 1992
51% voted for candidates other than Clinton in 1996
52% voted for candidates other than Bush in 2000
49% voted for candidates other than Bush in 2004
47% voted for candidates other than Obama in 2008
49% voted for candidates other than Obama in 2012
54% voted for candidates other than Trump in 2016

Health: My Story of Male Osteoporosis

The TV ads would suggest osteoporosis is a women's health issue.

However, men get osteoporosis also.

My diagnosis occurred by accident. Recently, had an episode of frozen shoulder. In order to be sure it wasn't something else, the orthopedic MD ordered an x-ray. It confirmed there was no overt structural problem in my shoulder. However, the radiologist commented on osteopenia.

The ball was thrown over to my primary care doctor (PCP) who then ordered a bone density scan.

The scan showed I had osteoporosis thus the PCP referred me over to the geriatrics department where I got blood tests for secondary osteoporosis. All of those tests came back negative and so the geriatrics MD recommended zoledronic acid by intravenous route. This medication is in the bisphosphonate class that is a very common approach to addressing osteoporosis.

Went to the infusion center on a Friday afternoon and got hooked up to an IV and the meds were delivered uneventfully. I was told that some percentage …

The Battle of the Burgers

Posted started on March 3, 2016 and will be updated periodically.

Like many people, I've reduced my red meat intake for health reasons. And am also making some effort to source conscientiously any meat item (poultry and fish included) at the market when I do. Am by no means hard core (i.e. not vegan/vegetarian) and can't afford to always buy stuff at Whole Paycheck (i.e. Whole Foods). Having said all that, I confess I still go for the occasional burger. With the reduced intake of meat products, my system really can't handle a big steak any more. But a nice burger is still a treat.

I confess I am a fan of In-and-Out Burgers. When on a road trip, I'll often make a note of where they are along the route and if it makes sense to take a lunch or dinner break at one of their outlets, I'll almost certainly stop there. So in my rating system, In-and-Out gets the A rating.

But what about other burgers out there?

Here is my highly subjective views on burgers at other places.