Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cool iphone and non-iphone apps, info, tips, etc.

In the spirit of iphone fun, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've discovered.  If you have any cool applications, let me know in the comments section.

Award for best app: Pandora

I just discovered Pandora radio and it is the most awesome thing ever!
Basically a group of people sat down and listened to a crapload of songs - analyzing them on instrumentation, temp, key, origin, etc. - and created a database where they can match up a particular song, group, or album that you fancy with songs with similar characterisitics. You can set it up and listen to music on your desktop and you can download the application for free and listen to all your radio stations from your ipod touch or iphone.

For example, I made a station based on Miles Davis's "Blue in Green" from the Kind of Blue album which featured classic cool jazz pieces with a slow leisurely pace, a melodic tenor sax and/or trumpet solo, and acoustic piano. I made other stations based on Erykah Badu, Radiohead, Samuel Barber, Digable Planets, and Sia's "Breathe Me". The Breathe Me station was so-so (but you can rate the songs that compose the station and suggest more appropriate songs) and I wasn't really feeling the Radiohead station either. All the other ones were perfect and I've already discovered several new artists.

Seriously, this app is the best thing ever!

Other cool apps that I like

* Where? (free): A location-based application that uses Yelp to point out and review restaurants, along with other features such as revealing the nearest Starbucks or the location of friends in your network.  It tells you gas prices in the vicinity with gasbuddy, where the nearest Zipcar is, the name of any mountains you might be looking at (okay, that one's a little random), the location of local events, and even gives you a star map.  

* YouNote (free): You can use this app to jott down a quick note in a variety of ways.  You can type it out on the touch screen keyboard, free write it by hand, take a picture, or record yourself.  You can tag an
d label the note for easy reference.  Pretty neat.

*Urbanspoon (free):  Based on location, type of cuisine, and price range, this application will randomly choose a restaurant for you.  You can go completely random, or keep one of the three variables constant (like location) and do a more targeted random selection.  Once it spits out your selection, you have a link to the percentage of people who liked it, user reviews, contact info, and a map.

*Save Benjis (free):  Use this app to comparison shop.  Type in a category, keyword, or product name, and you get several prices from other stores (e.g., Sony, Circuit City, J&R, Best Buy).

And here are some applications that are available on non-iphones that might be of interest:


Frucall helps you to compare prices of a product at various online stores like Amazon, etc and hence helps you to clear your doubts about the cost of a particular product and where you can
 find it at cheaper rates.

Google MobileThe most common and the most useful too. Google Mobile brings the ubiquitous Google products like Google search, Reader, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Photos and many more to your mobile phone. It supports almost all the multimedia phones available including the iPhone.

If you get a flash of brilliance, but you don't have a pen and paper to write it down, use your cell phone to store it before your brain gets rid of it.  Jott will record your message and email it to you... with often hilarious results.

This isn't an app, per se, but very useful if you're in the habit of losing your cell phone (ahem) - call your phone from the internets! Do it immediately or set a call for the future...

And if you want to sell your old phone, you can do it here -
If I hadn't lost my cell phone, I totally would have unloaded it there...  lol.   Apparently, I could have gotten $60 for it, and they would have paid for my shipping.

Mmm... bananas!

So there I am, minding my own business, typing me blog, trying to save humanity from horrifying acts of nature or man, checking out the comments,  and I read this from Posmena sales: "Here is a link for Underpants with Design Features".  I admit, I'm intrigued.  My first thought is that it's some sort of pair of disaster undies.  I don't know, maybe they have a mini tool-kit attached.  Some sort of small knife or tape measurer.  Or maybe they double as a canteen.  Who knows, but I figure, hey some enterprising young whippersnapper's just trying to scrap together a few nickels in this world.  Let's see what it's all about.


And it gets better:

"Obviously for Men's revolutionary design forms the basis for what makes our underwear so comfortable. All Obviously for Men underwear products have an anatomically designed pouch into which you place your package. [love the technical language here] The U shaped seam that forms the base of the pouch is designed to sit directly behind your bits, up against your body. This ensures a snug fit for all your bits [heh heh, "bits"] and provides the separation [eww!] necessary to eliminate all the discomfort of regular underwear and provide the benefits listed above.

The Obviously design also allows your genitals to hang downwards and move freely as nature intended. [um, no offense boys, but I don't particularly want to see your hanging genitals moving freely, no matter how natural it is.  Keep that sh*t strapped up tight.]"

Anywho, how much would you pay for this fabulous pair of undies (even without a mini tool kit?) ?  $100?   Sure, maybe at a fancy department store.  $70?  Try again!  $50?  Even better.  What would you say if I told you your man could be walking around nice and separated for the low low price of £14.99 (USD $29.98)?  That's right folks.  Operators are standing by so call now!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Yes, this will be another LA blogger earthquake post.  Sorry!  I returned to Los Angeles after 15 years away for school and assorted diversions and had forgotten the excitement of an earthquake.  Me no like earthquakes.

Last year, I was on this big disaster preparedness kick.  I did a lot of research and spent a couple of afternoons at the Army supply store buying stuff that I'll hopefully never have to use (e.g., water purification tablets, hand-crank emergency radio, etc.)

But even though I found an extremely detailed (almost scarily so) article on how to prepare a work emergency kit, I still haven't made one.  Where was I during our 5.6-8 quake?  At work.  

So my project for the weekend will be to make an emergency kit for work.  I want to put everything in a comfortable backpack, so I can grab that sucker and head out of here, stepping over my co-workers if necessary.  Kidding.  (do they read this?  don't think so).

Anyways - make one with me.  We can be crazy end-of-the world buddies together!  

And just to prove my credibility, here's an excerpt from a transcript of an online conversation with Dr. Morgan Page at the US Geological Survey:

San Diego, CA - Former East Coaster: Can you please discuss the idea that a major earthquake is predicted to hit Southern California in the next 30 years? Thank you!

Dr. Morgan Page: The probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake occurring in the Los Angeles in the next 30 years is 97%. So it's almost certain.

The probabilities get smaller for even larger earthquakes.
For a magnitude 7 or greater, the probability over 30 years is 82%. For magnitude 7.5 or greater, it's 37%. For 8 or greater, it's 3%.

Forecasting California�s Earthquakes�What Can We Expect in the Next 30 Years? 

I've cut and pasted the article below and have made little comments in blue type.  Here's a link to the full article:

It's long and it's guaranteed to freak you out, especially when you imagine  yourself holding flashlight as you walk along the darkened streets wearing a dust mask in a poncho with reflective tape and latex gloves.  But a little preparation could potentially pay off big time, and you only have to do it once, then you can set it and forget it.   Here goes...

First things first:

  1. Evaluate where you work and how far you live from work. Don't think of it in regular transportation terms. Ask yourself what you would do if you had to get home without the use of a car or public transportation during an emergency.  (This is key - could you walk home?  Do you know anyone who lives within walking distance of your workplace?)
  2. Discuss with your family what you may do in an emergency if they can't reach you by cell phone. Discuss your options and what scenarios would be practical. Knowing what your actions may be will enable them to assist even if you can't communicate during the emergency.  If your family hears of an emergency, they may be able to pick up your kids, meet you at a meeting place, or be ready to spring into action when they get your call, text, or third-party message. Have a family action plan.  (Often times you can't call within the affected area.  Having a plan in place, or a third-party person to call can really help)
  3. Coordinate with your co-workers and exchange ideas for creating individual jump-and-run bags ideal for your situation, urban area, and workplace.  (Maybe you guys have cool co-workers - I'm on my own)
  4. If you work with someone who also lives near you, discuss in advance and plan on using the buddy system to get home together.
  5. Talk to management about turning kit-making into an office social or emergency planning exercise. Get permission for everyone to bring their items, pack them as a team, and make a store trip for forgotten supplies.
Get the backpack:

  • Use a large, canvas, water resistant backpack with several compartments and padded shoulder straps. A waist strap will help distribute weight and make the bag easier to carry long distances.Since you won't use this daily (and aren't buying for day to day durability) you can buy an inexpensive one from a discount store, military surplus store, dollar store, or even from a local thrift store. Offer a young relative a few bucks for their left over bag from last school year. It's all right to get one used or even with childish designs. Think function over fashion.

Blackouts have shut down many cities, forcing people to walk miles. Cell service can be spotty or nonexistent. Subways can be down and vehicles backed up because of non-working traffic lights. Think ahead! Make a plan!

Tape is your friend
  • Buy reflective tape. Visit a fabric or athletic store or look online for reflective tape. Buy 1-3 yards as you will add it to your backpack and other items if necessary. It's usually sold in rolls and is 1" wide or wider.
  • Add the reflective tape to the exterior of your backpack. Use fabric glue to attach it if you don't sew.
  • Attach the reflective tape to the back of the bag and the front straps.
  • Be generous with the tape. It may make you visible to drivers or emergency workers.
  • Save the leftover tape. You'll need it for other projects.
Other projects

  • Get a poncho or other rain gear that compacts nicely. Use something you already have if it is adequate. If you buy new, look for a brightly colored material (safety yellow is an option). This can protect you from the elements on a long walk, provide shelter, and (with the tape) identify you to drivers.
  • Add reflective tape to your poncho since wearing it may cover your backpack.
  • Pack the folded poncho in your backpack. If it doesn't fold into itself (as many do), you can compress it into a small bag to keep it out of your way.
  • You can also wrap thick rubber hair bands to compress it. Those will also come in handy to keep long hair out of the way during the emergency. (Hair in the eyes can obstruct vision in addition to being frustrating.)
  • Get a space blanket You can buy Mylar sheets (so-called space blankets) at hardware or camping supply stores. They are large, lightweight, waterproof and exceptionally thin. They come tightly packed (about the size of an ace bandage), and should be left in their original packaging until you need to use them. (They're very hard to refold once opened.) Because Mylar reflects heat, it can be used to retain body heat in extreme cold or to reflect away heat in extremely hot conditions.
  • Pack a whistle in your backpack. A whistle will make more noise with less effort than yelling if you become trapped. The higher pitch will also carry better than your voice.

Footwear is key - I'm sure all of us remembers the images of shop owners giving away sneakers to commuters (or in some cases, charging a ton) on 9/11
  • Pack a pair of athletic shoes in your back pack. In case of an emergency, you may have to run or walk long distances in unpredictable conditions. You don't want to do that in heels or stiff leather work shoes. Your safety may depend on moving quickly and traveling efficiently on foot. Athletic shoes are an absolute must in every person's grab-and-go work kit!
  • Don't use a new pair, as these can cause blisters; pack a pair that is broken in but not worn out, if possible. Even a worn pair is better than wingtips or heels.
  • Women should not pack dress flats or just a "comfortable" pair of shoes. Do not pack sandals! Pack athletic shoes with shock absorbing soles. If you don't have any, you should buy some and wear them a few times before adding to your bag.
  • Many athletic shoes have reflective trims but you can add more. You should still have some tape left over from the poncho and backpack.  (what is with this guy and the tape?)
  • Pack cotton crew athletic socks that are appropriate for your athletic shoes in terms of thickness.
  • Avoid low cut socks, as they don't protect your heels when walking long distances.
  • Women who wear skirts and dresses may benefit from packing knee high athletic socks to provide additional coverage for the legs.  (thank god my work uniform consists of jeans)
  • Stuff the socks into the shoes so as to conserve space and keep your footgear together.

First aid:

Create a small first aid kit using a quart or gallon size zipping storage bag. Label your bag. You can even add a piece of the reflective tape to make it easier to find if you drop it or are looking for it in a dark pack. Include the following items: 

  • Adhesive bandages: A few of each size will do. Pack mostly the 1" since they work well for blisters. Bandages that are foam instead of fabric offer more protection for blisters and can still be used for other first aid.
  • Antibiotic first aid ointment.
  • Benadryl or other antihistamine: Emergencies are not a good time to have an allergic reaction.
  • Epi-pen if you have been given one by your doctor for severe allergies. They're usually willing to write prescriptions for several so you can keep several available.
  • Prescription medication to last a day or two in a well-labeled container. If your medication changes, you need to update your kit. Be very specific when labeling describe the pill (or whatever), the dose, and what it treats. Don't forget an asthma inhaler if you are an asthmatic. You may be walking and air quality could be questionable.
  • Pain killers, such as aspirin. Look in the travel/trial size section of stores for small bottles.
  • Ace bandage: is great for rolled ankles or can be used to immobilize a limb.
  • Latex or vinyl gloves (if you are allergic to latex) are a must. You could be around injured people or need to treat someone with your first aid kit.
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel for cleaning up.
  • Wash cloth or hand towel: can be used for clean up, wiping a sweaty brow or signaling.
  • Find a travel/trial size of saline solution (or contact lens rewetting solution) and include it in your kit. Flushing eyes may be necessary for contact lens wearers or for anyone in dusty or polluted air. It can also be used to irrigate a wound.
  • Assorted gauze or other first aid items. You can use additional quart or gallon size plastic storage bags to keep items dry and organized.
Random supplies:

  • Maglite type flashlights are extremely durable but heavier aluminum flashlights. The larger ones can be used as a defensive weapon should you need it. Decide if you can tolerate the weight and have room.
  • Pack a small flashlight. Find at least a small or medium flashlight or head light and make sure it has fresh batteries. You won't get a warning on a massive power outage or evacuation. A flashlight is a must.
  • Avoid penlights: they're too small and dim and their batteries die quickly.
  • Look for a small to medium light that takes AA or C batteries. It depends on how much space you have, your needs and how much weight you can tolerate. Lightweight plastic flashlights are great. You don't need to spend a lot but make sure it works.
  • There are many newer, pocket-sized LED flashlights on the market that are less expensive (check discount), more durable (no bulbs to burn out or break), and produce more light per set of batteries.
  • Shakable flashlights have become popular but test its reliability, working time, and brightness before you rely on it in an emergency. If it takes too much of your energy to work, it won't do you any good.
  • Head-mounted torches (headlights) are more versatile and practical than hand-held torches (traditional hand flashlights).
  • You can go full size (D cell) if you have room and can stand the weight.
  • Add some leftover reflective tape to your flashlight, especially if it's black. It will save you from feeling around for it or having to dump your bag. It will also make it easier to find it it's dropped.
  • Smoke and debris can be choking during a fire or earthquake. A particle mask can be very helpful.
  • Pick up a dust face mask from your local hardware or paint store and add it to your kit. They only cost a few cents. If you need one, you really need one.  (And they might come handy in a pinch if you have a flatulent coworker.  No, but seriously, I'm going to have one of these babies.)
Getting around and communicating:

  • Getting lost can add insult to injury. Traffic patterns are often changed and you may find yourself walking through unknown areas. Keep a map with you of the city and note different routes to take out.  (A map is a good idea)
  • Pack a map of your city which includes streets and public transportation (subway stop) information. You may be forced to detour, disembark a train early, find an alternate route or find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Always keep a map to find the best way to your destination.
  • Write down a list of emergency contact numbers. Cell phone service may be down or your phone charge may not last. Consider keeping the numbers of friends or family near work, in between work and home, and someone who could pick you up and offer shelter. Keep the numbers stashed in your kit. (this is so true for me... the first time I lost my cell phone, I realized that I didn't even have Mr. Insomniac's number memorized.  Emergency numbers should be written down.)
  • Phone traffic may be heavy and connections hard to come by. Don't rely on calling information first. Your memory of numbers may also be strained in a stressful situation. Keep things written down. If you can, change the outgoing message on all your voicemails so loved ones know you are safe and can be advised of where you are headed to shelter.
  • If you do have cell service avoid talking to people for too long. Preserve your battery as much as you can.
  • You may be bombarded by family and friends trying to reach you. Speak only as long as necessary. Ignore unnecessary calls so excess ringing doesn't wear your battery down.
  • If you aren't able to get a call out but a client or someone else happens (Murphy's Law) to get through you can ask them to notify a friend or relative. Don't be shy. Once they find out you're in an emergency you can probably get most anyone to help out.
  • In-state or in-town calls may have a different success rate of completion than out of state calls. If you aren't having luck making a call you can try calling an out of state contact.
  • Consider a portable charging unit for your phone. There are solar and wind-up chargers available. Others often use a few small batteries and convert the power to give your phone a small charge. Check travel sites, mobile supplies or airport kiosk.
  • The internet can be useful in times like these, if it's available.  Facebook feeds, twitter, etc. can let friends/family know that you're okay or where you're headed.
C.R.E.A.M.  (cash rules everything around me, for you non Wu Tang fans)

  • Stash cash for public phones, food vending, or any thing else that could come up. Don't keep too much, just a few dollars and quarters.
  • Hide cash in your bag but not too much. You can often hide it under the sturdy cardboard bottom. You can use this for transportation cost (if you find a method) or to buy food or drink. Don't forget to include several quarters should you need to use a public phone and be able to find one.
  • Don't keep a lot of cash or advertise what you keep in your bag. You don't want your stash pilfered by a dishonest co-worker, customer or cleaning staff.
  • Pack a small pack of tissues and moist wipes. It may provide dual use in case the restroom facilities lack proper supplies. Think of the different things you may encounter on the way home. Every city and its facilities are different.

  • Multipurpose tools are available at most sporting goods or camping stores. The multi-purpose tool shown also has pliers which can be very handy.
  • Add a all purpose pocket tool or swiss army knife.
  • Hydrate and nourish! Water is heavy to carry but you will need to have plenty available. You'll also need high calorie snacks.
  • Keep at least one sealed bottle of water in your bag, pack more if you can stand the weight.
  • Refill your bottles as often as you safely can in an emergency.
  • Pack granola bars, protein bars, etc. that are high in calories and carbohydrates and store well long term. Food is not only necessary for energy it can be great for morale. Dried fruit is also an excellent option.
  • *Peanut butter (assuming you're not allergic to peanuts) comes in handy tubes. It is an excellent source of protien that does not require refrigeration or cooking.
  • If your children are at a nearby day care or you will be evacuating with them you should bring enough food and water for them as well.
  • It's better to have too much than too little. You can always give some away.  (or sell them for an exorbitant fee)
  • Many local radio stations switch to emergency programming during an emergency.
  • Tune in! Look for a small, battery operated FM radio or transistor radio for your bag. These can be found in discount stores or electronic stores for minimal investment. All public radio will begin emergency broadcasting if there is an emergency in your area. Make sure it has fresh batteries and is turned off before adding it to your bag.
  • Add a luggage tag with your name and contact information to your bag. If possible, add some form of identification inside your bag such as an old employee ID. You may have left behind your handbag.
  • Tape an extra house key into the bottom of the bag underneath the cardboard bottom (with your money). If you leave a house key, don't add anything to identify it as such. A spare car key could also be helpful depending on your situation. Don't put your address on your luggage tag if you keep a spare key.
  • Resist the urge to tap into your bag for a bottle of water, band-aid, etc. Keep the kit intact and only open it to check medication expiration dates, check or replace batteries or to replace dated food.

Keep the bag safe, and keep it well

  • Everything you need will fit easily in a back pack. If you live in colder climates you can add additional supplies or change your pack for the seasons.
  • Pack your bag and store it in a locker, under your desk, in a filing cabinet nearby or somewhere where it can be grabbed in a hurry. If in doubt, grab it.  (it would be so my luck to have a bag, and then not bring it for some dumb reason.)
  • Take it for fire drills, alarms or keep it handy when news has reached you of an emergency in your city.
  • You may not realize you are in a evacuation situation until you've been separated from your kit.
  • In large cities, earthquake or tornado prone areas and in large office buildings it is wise to be a little paranoid.
  • Renew your kit regularly. Check the perishables (batteries, food, and first aid items) for expiration, leaking, or borrowing. Verify that maps and phone numbers are all up-to-date. You might want to check twice a year, perhaps when you replace your smoke detector batteries, set clocks forward or back for savings time, use family birthdays as reminders or set the reminders on your desktop calendar. At least check once a year on a reminder date, such as 9/11.


  • Keep batteries in store packaging as placing batteries in devices allows them to slowly discharge. Have scissors or your multi-purpose or Swiss army knife to cut open the package or store batteries in a marked plastic bag.
  • Reverse the batteries or use another method to prevent the flashlight and radio from coming on when not in use. You don't want to rustle the bag and unknowingly turn on the item and drain the battery.
  • Try adding a piece of duct tape or medical tape to the on/off switches of flashlights and batteries. You don't want to accidentally rustle the bag under your desk and turn the item on. You'll have dead batteries when you need them.
  • If you work in flood prone areas or areas known for drainage issues, you should keep a pair of appropriate waterproof footwear.
  • Buy a metro card or public transit pass and keep it stashed in your bag. If you get to a station that's operational you can skip the ticket counter or not have to worry about finding cash or exact change.
  • Think about your climate and add to your kit to allow you to travel more comfortably in areas with severe and possibly dangerous temperatures.
  • If you live in a severely cold climate area, you could also add a pair of sweatpants, hats, thermal underwear or other cooler weather wear. Something super warm may be needed instead of fashionable to and from work wear. You could pack a larger pack.
  • If you live in a hot weather climate where exposure and heat could be harmful you should think of packing a lightweight shirt, shorts, a hat and additional water.
  • Keep the bag in your locker or under your desk. Don't keep it in an underground parking garage as you may not have time or the access to retrieve it. If you can, stock an extra kit more appropriate for your car.
  • If you have a slightly larger back pack, you may have room to stash your handbag or a wallet inside. Don't concern yourself with briefcases and laptops, just get what you need to survive on the streets for hours. For the NYC blackouts many were attempting to travel with books, files, briefcases and non-essentials. They were throwing these away or asking strangers and business to hold the items with some success.
  • Lip balm and sunscreen are also extremely handy to have.
  • You may not need to buy everything at once. You can probably borrow from your home medicine cabinet and tool box to get started. Instead of buying full sized products you should visit the travel size section in your local drug or department store for other items. The packaging will be small and easy to pack.
  • Laptops, expensive jewelry and furs could make you a target for robbery. Consider leaving what you can at work and traveling with less ostentatious looking items.
  • With Blackberry, iPhone and smart PDA's you will have accessibility and mobility and can safely leave the office without hauling laptops.
  • A mechanical pencil, a notepad and a book of matches or lighter would be smart additions to the kit.
  • Consider adding a pair of safety glasses to your kit. These can be especially helpful to prevent foreign matter, dust, blood or other irritants from your eyes. These can be purchased at some drug stores, safety supply, construction supply or medical supply stores. You can also find them online. They are inexpensive and many can be placed over everyday glasses.
  • If you are packing multiple battery powered devices, try to choose ones that use the same type of battery. You can then pack an extra set that works for both and will be able to trade off in the devices.

  • You may be tempted to add mace, a stun gun or other weapon to your bag. Use caution since it may be against company policy to keep such items at work.  (yeah, this might not be the best idea.)
  • Audible/Personal alarms work very well to scare a possible attacker.
  • Always make sure you have latex or vinyl gloves in your kit. Blood born pathogens are very real and not everyone is upfront or knows about infections or health problems. You may also encounter injured people or need to treat someone with your first aid kit. Don't forget to wear your gloves. The gloves can also be handy if you must treat yourself and have dirty hands. It will help keep the first aid process cleaner and reduce your risk of infection.

Things You'll Need
  • Athletic shoes with shock absorbing soles
  • Crew or long athletic socks
  • Flashlight with batteries - LED Flashlight lasts longer and runs on smaller batteries
  • Small radio with batteries
  • Map of your city
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Easy to store foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates
  • First Aid Kit
  • Cash and quarters
  • Form of ID (hidden in bag)
  • Spare house key (hidden in bag)
  • Poncho or other rain gear
  • Phone numbers of friends and family
  • Extra cell battery
  • Pain killers and anti-histamines
  • Dust or particulate mask
  • Scotchbrite or other reflective fabric to enhance you and your items for safety (optional but suggested)
  • Work Gloves - useful for moving heavy, sharp or abrasive items as well as keeping your hands warm
  • Sun Screen
  • Thin, Warm "Beanie" hat
  • Whistle
  • Multi Tool (Leatherman) or a pocket knife
  • Emergency Blanket/Space Blanket/Survival Blanket (Approximately a 4'x6' Mylar sheet. When packaged they measure about 3"x4" and weigh just a few ounces.)
  • Firestarting supplies (matches)

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Went to bed at 1:00am
Woke up at 4:00am, 4:20am, 5:00am, and 5:50am.  
Had a dream about getting an iphone at some point during the 2 hours I was actually asleep.
Arrived at Century City at 6:20am.
Fourth in line.
Brought folding chair, Mr. Insomniac's ipod nano with some books on tape.
Got in the store at around 8:15am.
Done by 8:30am.
Mr. Insomniac surprised me at the store and took me out to a celebratory breakfast at Breadbar.
He's so awesome.

I'm so sleepy.

I have slain the monster.  I am free. 
(collapses in exhaustion)
zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzz

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's judgement time

Okay - so now it's July 23 and the whole point of my blog was to document my attempts at eating food. Not too much.  Mostly plants. during the month of June.  

Time for the reckoning.

All in all, I did okay.  I tried some new vegetarian recipes, only purchased meat that was sustainably raised, hung out at farmer's markets, and even ordered vegetarian entrees at restaurants.  I read some books, found a lot of helpful websites and articles, cooked recommended recipes, and even made a new IRL friend (aw!).  I went without any meat for days at a time.  Whoa.  

Of course, I had some slip ups.  And more meals than perhaps should have been consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  But all in all, I think I did pretty well and that this is a lifestyle that I want keep.  I like the idea of consuming less meat and really knowing where my food comes from, so I think I'm going to continue my ef. ntm. mp. way of eating.  Oh kay! 

But what will my blog be now?  I guess it'll be a hodge podge of stuff.  Mostly ef ntm mp, but also stuff that I find interesting.  And yeah, probably an iphone post as well...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sorry - one more iphone post.

It's all I can think of.  Yesterday I interrogated an Apple Store employee who was wearing a blue Apple store t-shirt and upper *and* lower retainers in his mouth.

Me:  So are you getting iphones tomorrow?
Him:  We don't know.
Me:  You don't know.  How do you suggest I procure an iphone?
Him:  Your best bet is to call at 12 noon and see if we have any in stock.
Me:  What?!  I thought they get sold out in minutes.  That people line up.
Him (turning around to another Apple dork): Do people line up anymore?  (to me) No, you should be fine calling at 12 noon.
Me:  Well, if you say so...

Last night after checking the page of lies, Mr. Insomniac and I made plans to camp out for iphones and ignore what the retainer wearer said.  We would get there crazy early and each get our black 16g iphones.  Little did Mr. Insomniac know, I was planning a double cross.  The real plan was to send him out on a reconnaissance mission to gather intelligence.  Come 7:30am when he was shaking me awake - I buried myself under the blankets.  He went off without me and I hit the snooze button until he came bounding up the stairs two hours later.

His report from the field:

Him:  I got there at around 7:40 and I was number 17 in line.  By the time an Apple employee opened the door at 9am, the line had stretched to over 50 people.  They only had 25 iphones so everyone who was standing past the Lucky store just had to go home.  
Me:  Did they get anything?  A business card?!
Him:  No.  They just went home.  They went quietly.
Me: Whoa.
Him:  The rest of us, they put our names on a sheet of paper. 
Me:  What kind of paper?
Him:  A sheet of loose leaf paper.  
Me:  Interesting...  Were people sitting on the ground?
Him:  Yes.  I was in the golf chair.
Me: What chair?  We have a chair?
Him:  Yes.  I keep it in my trunk.  
Me:  I'll be needing that chair.
Him:  Are you going to let me finish this or what?
Me:  Okay!  I'm just trying to get all the details.  Please, go on.
Him:   They only had 10 black iphones.  
Me:  Only 1o?!!
Him:  I reserved a 16gig white iphone for you.  Do you want it?
Me: *silence*
Him:  Insomniac, do you want it?!  You only have 10 minutes to get it!  Do you want it???
*insomniac thinks of the shiny black iphone.  How she's been wanting this for months.  But also how she has no phone and has to use pay phones that smell weird.  How she has no ipod.*
Me:  NO!  I want the black one!  I want the black one!  (buries face in pillow)
Him:  You're not making sense.  You have no phone.  It'll be in the case anyway.  No one will ever know it's the white one.
Me:  No!  I'll know!  Black! ..... Wait - how come you didn't get one?
Him:  Are you crazy?  I want the black one.

So now I have the intelligence info and know what it takes.  The obsession has reached a fever pitch.  I have formulated a new plan.  Tomorrow I will camp out.  I will arrive at 6:30am.  I will bring the golf chair, a book, and a half caf skinny sugar free vanilla latte.  

I will get my black iphone.   I can taste it. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Call me Insomniac

Call me Insomniac. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me with regard to cell phones, I thought I would wander about a little and see the trafficy part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly July in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before Apple stores, and bringing up the rear of every hipster convention I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to the Apple Store as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the car. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the iphone with me.

It is official. The black 16g iphone is my leviathan. My Moby Dick. My unachievable object that mocks me.

Today (on a Saturday no less), I arose at the ungodly hour of 8am to travel to the Beverly Center because the spreader of lies informed me and apparently 40 other people that the object of my affection was in stock. We pulled in to the parking lot and headed to the elevator to take us into the mall. Also heading towards the elevator was a twentysomething couple. Now at 8:20am they could only be heading to the Shrine of Apple like we were. We got to the elevator first and I mentally willed Mr. Insomniac to pull a WeezerMonkey and press the "close doors" button before they got on, but he didn't and I didn't want to shriek "close the doors, man! They're heading for our iphones!" for fear of appearing shrill and crazy. So we rode up together and I had to watch them cuddle in the glass box and kiss because they're so in love. I sulked in the corner and kept my eyes on the prize.

And then when we got off the elevator, we did a casual speed walk race to the Apple store. Mr. Insomniac and I lost. Damn that girl and her long legs! (She had a horribly recessed chin, so I forgave her.) And lo and behold, at the Apple store there sit/stand twenty some hipsters and techno geeks. The long-haired guy behind me carries an army green messenger bag with a Walt Disney name tag bearing the word "Dustin" and a "I support the WGA strike" bumper sticker. The guy at the front of the line tells people that he's been there since 6am. There's a suitcase near the front with a sign on the handle that says something like "I am in the iphone line but sitting a few feet away". I didn't see any guy a few feet away. I pointed that out to "Dustin" and he said, what about that sign?, gesturing to the large sign that says "we have no iphones". Huh. We agree that we're all in mass denial and that our collective yearning will spawn enough black 16gers for us all.

Now let me back up a bit. I haven't had a cell phone in about two months. I have no land line. The only way for people to reach me is to send me an email or call me on Mr. Insomniac's cell phone. I wander around like an Amish hermit. Why? Because my first cell phone died becuase I spilled Chicken Tikka Masala on it. It was a Sidekick 2, and though I looked like a tweener, I was happy. Then Mr. Insomniac gave me his old cell phone to use (Blackberry Pearl) when he got the first generation iphone. I lost said cell phone somewhere in my house because I was too tired to get off the couch during my sojourn on crutches. Can't find cell phone. Also lost ipod. And now I'm losing my mind.

Mr. Insomniac dashes off to Starbucks for supplies and I sit and read a discarded Wall Street Journal. He comes back with a chocolate croissant. Well done, indeed. At around 9:30 an Apple Store employee pops out of the door and informs us that they have no iphones. A groan erupts from the crowd. I remain silent for I am used to failure. I've heard the rumors - that you can go to an ATT store and have them order a phone that will arrive in three days. That Manhattan Beach has tons of iphones. I've seen the success stories. But fail. fail. fail. She hands out business cards and mentions something about being able to go to the head of the line. But when the mob presses her for information about when iphones will arrive, she knows nothing. Definitely not tomorrow. Maybe not even Monday. The mob grumbles angrily. So now I have a business card. Excellent.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pork week! is having a Pork Week and kicked off the festivities by talking to chefs and aficionados of pork.

The people profiled recommend buying locally grown pork raised humanely from farmers markets. I've found it rather difficult to find meat at farmer's markets and thankfully, the article also provides some helpful links of retailers that sell pork online:
Caw Caw Creek, Debragga, Bev Eggleston's Eco-friendly Foods, Flying Pigs Farm, Heritage Foods USA, Niman Ranch, and Vermont Quality Meats.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

"In America, we've gone through a long period of fast-paced convenience and privilege. Like, if I can't cook this meal in 15 minutes, then it's not worth it. I'll just have someone else do it. But this era has taken something away from us: the pleasure of preparing the foods that we eat and the knowledge of where it comes from. The bottom line is that everybody is searching for a way to connect to the world around them and part of that is connecting to their food."
- Michael Anthony, chef at Gramercy Tavern

"To buy good pork, you should go local if you can. But it's harder and harder to find local pork. In fact I don't think you can find good pork in the supermarket at all. I think "certified organic" is a bunch of bullshit. There's a right way and a wrong way to raise animals, that's all."
- David Chang, chef at Momofuku

"Our slaughterhouses are small and family-run and 100 head a day is a lot. They spend almost 20 minutes processing one pig. It's peaceful and slow and reverent. The workers respect the amount of time necessary to get the job done right, which ultimately preserves the quality in the meat. If the slaughter is not calm, not done properly, it can undo the work of the farmer. I've seen pigs right before slaughter who are sleeping. A dramatically different scene than what's typical at a big packing house. This is the way it used to be done and this is the way that's right and responsible. And there are still, albeit few, custom slaughterhouses like this. It gives the future hope."
- Sarah Obraitis, a partner in Heritage Foods

"The factory system of pork farming is inhumane and unconscionable. But if you raise animals the way I'm advocating -- if they're allowed to live free range, able to care for their young, they live three times longer. Listen, if you want better-tasting meat, you don't stress out the animal. If you object to industrial slaughterhouses, the whole system is horrid."
- Peter Kaminsky, author of Pig Perfect

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bugs Bunny at the Hollywood Bowl

Last night Mr. Insomniac and I saw Bugs on Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl - a concert where the famous Merrie Melodies cartoons that are projected on large screens and accompanied by the live scores played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I'm a fan of opera and classical music and like many, my first introduction came from watching Saturday morning Bugs Bunny cartoons. This is the last time they'll do this particular version of the concert, and a new and improved version will debut in 2010. The other interesting thing is the special relationship that a lot of the studios had with the Hollywood Bowl. Warner Brothers set a few of the cartoons in the venue with Bugs as did Hanna Barbara with Tom and Jerry.

The best thing about the Hollywood Bowl is that they let you bring in food and drink. Even alcohol. Nothing beats watching cartoons while sipping on some Sauvignon Blanc on a beautiful summer evening and eating an assortment of cheeses, dried fruits, and crackers.

The big crowd pleaser was "What's Opera Doc?", a.k.a. "Kill da Wabbit", critically acclaimed as the best of Chuck Jones's work and the best animated short of all time.

It's said to condense all of 17 hours of Richard Wagner's ring cycle into 7 minutes - and contains themes from the Ride of the Valkeries, Taanhauser, and The Flying Dutchman.

Starting off in a manical desire to "Kill da Wabbit", Elmer is swayed by a beautiful bugs dressed as in drag as Brunnhilde.
Love ensues. As does a charming pas de deux.

But like all good operas, ends in tragedy.

My favorite cartoon, though, has to be the "Rabbit of Seville".

Nearly the entire score is based on the overture to Rossini's Barber of Seville and it has strains of Mendlesohn's Wedding March when Bugs defuses an escalating arms race by wooing Elmer with chocolate and flowers, making him his blushing bride.

Also on the program was:

  • "The Fast and the Furry-ous" which uses music from Smetana's The Bartered Bride.

  • "One Froggy Evening" which uses the aria "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Barber of Seville, along with several ragtime songs ("Hello Ma Baby", "I'm just wild about Harry", "Michigan Rag")

  • "A Corny Concerto", the Strauss-inspired cartoon about the ugly duckling swimming alongside a family of swans to the "Blue Danube" and Elmer Fudd and his trusty hunting dog tracking Bugs to the "Tales of the Vienna Woods".

  • "Long-haired Hare", where Bugs gets revenge on a tenor by posing as the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski and forces the tenor to hold a high C until the performance venue (the Hollywood Bowl - heh heh) crushes down around him. Some of the music includes "Chi Mi Frena In Tal Momento" from Lucia di Lammermoor (Donzetti) and the old favorite "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Internet round up: Power foods, eating sustainable seafood, economical cooking

During my visit to the Georgia Aquarium, I noticed that they had some resources to help consumers make sustainable choices with regard to their seafood purchases at home and while dining out.  Poking around on their website lead me to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website which is very informative.  You can get regional seafood guides which "contain the latest information on sustainable seafood choices available in different regions of the U.S.  Our "Best Choices" are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Seafood to "Avoid" are overfished and/or fished or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment."  You can view the choices online, download them into a handy pocket guide, or even get notices sent to your cell phone.  Pretty cool. 


The New York Times has an article entitled "The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating".  Intrigued?

I actually eat some of these things on a regular basis:  stuff like Swiss chard, cabbage, Pomegrante juice (does it count if it's mixed with Cointreau, Grey Goose, and a dash of lime juice?).  Others (pumpkin) sound pretty tasty.   Some are right on...I never touch them.  Prunes, beets, sardines - I'm looking at you.  Bonus points and a blog mention if someone can come up with a tasty recipe involving these things.  LizzieB - you like a challenge... I'll be waiting!  lol


My mom pointed me to this article, but I can't find it.  Argh - I thought google mail was supposed to make searching easier.   Sorry, Mom.  It was something about "power foods".


Here's an article from the Simple Dollar - "Seven Ideas for Preparing Food at Home Cheaply with Minimal Space and Resources".   Savory oatmeal?  Who knew.


"I've abandoned my blog! I've abandoned my blog!"

The title of my post is to be read  à la Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.  Click on the link if you have no idea what I'm talking about - it took me for friggin ever to find that video.  lol
Okay.  Enough with the talk of backsliding...  

So yesterday I went to the Monday taping of SYTYCD (or for those of you who don't know a 14 year old, So You Think You Can Dance) with yeah4me.  It was great - I'll only post one spoiler, but if you're interested in more, just let me know... The couples did two dances each, as opposed to their usual one.  So there will be even more dancing Wednesday night - yay!  

The drawback to the 14 dances was that we were in there for quite some time - I had eaten at 12 noon and didn't have any food until we finished at around 8pm.  I emerged from the dark studio at CBS (where they also film the Price is Right) ravenous and no salad was going to quell my hunger beast.

Enter the Farmer's Market right across the street, and more specifically, enter Pampas Grill.

Farmer's Market is like this international food court where everything is tasty.  I've eaten at least 10 stalls and all of them were amazing.  Pampas Grill is probably my favorite - it is a Brazilian churrascaria and you load up a plate cafeteria style with non-meat items and then you head to the mighty carver who slices off some garlic beef, top sirloin, lamb, spicy chicken legs, etc.  You grab a drink and then head to the charming cashier who weighs your plate and rings you up.  And then you go into ketosis.   Heh heh, I kid.  But seriously, it is amazing and I made yeah4me a believer in Brazilian - not that it was hard or anything.  

 photo by HanaK

I couldn't take any pictures because (1) I have no cell phone and (2) yeah4me had no cell phone as they were VERBOTEN during the taping.  As were purses.  So why did some woman keep jabbing yeah4me with her big ass purse?  And why was some tween kneeling down texting in between performances?  

I filled half my plate with veggies (steamed broccoli, green beans with onions, egg plant salad), the other quadrant with some vegetarian feijoada over garlic rice garnished with farofa, and used only a fourth of my plate for meat.  And what wonderful meat it was - marinated lamb and small piece of chicken breast wrapped in bacon.  I take the bacon off - the smokey bacony goodness permeates the poultry just fine...  Ah, that was good eating.

It sorta looked like this:

But not really.  I just wanted to put a picture in to give my blog some "wow factor".  But that's what a plate of food looks like from there.  Why this person didn't get the black beans is beyond my understanding.  But my plate of 1/4 meat was a distinct different to how I used to eat there.  As yeah4me reminded me - "it's not all plants - it's *mostly* plants."  And indeed it was.  Mostly plants with some tasty ass meat.