22 November 2006

The 1.5 year wait is over... In 14 hours.

akatsuki crawls from under the very big rock she's hiding under in anticipation of... The Ashes!

I know it's not very Scottish and all, but I can't help backing England when it comes to the Ashes. They've been the underdogs for a long time, but I guess you could say the same for the Aussies. Come to think of it, in a competition between two countries, they both get to be the underdogs every so often. Ach well. Who cares? (Besides, when all Scottish cricket will aspire to is the occasional inclusion into the World Cup and Div2 county cricket, one's kind of lacking of a local team to support. Though you can't say I didn't fully back the Saltires while in Embra; I at least peeped over the wall on my way home if the games lasted long enough. And even paid for entry to quite a number of weekend matches. And watched all too many drunken brawls in the process. Scottish football is a little more civilised. They at least wait till you're *outside* the grounds to throw glass bottles at you.)

14 hours to go. I cannae wait! I even got broadband in my apartment so I could get at TMS on the internet. Shame there's absolutely no way to watch highlights apart from the 30 seconds that Sky Sports occasionally lets us have during the weekend round-up on Focks Sport Sucker Channel. (Although I must say AZN, the Asian-American channel, had a decent 30 min program at the weekend during the India-England series this summer. Here's hoping they're interested in the very non-Asian Ashes as well. But who knows. Monty is quite the looker.)

And akatsuki crawls back to being the over-worked, under-paid, under-appreciated scientist lab dogsbody that she has grown accustomed to being. Food blogging? What food blog? I don't even eat anymore. Let alone bake, cook or blog...

05 September 2006


Feeling the heat in LA, both weather- and work-wise. Going through a depressive slump as a result. What's a girl to do to combat the resulting insomnia when crosswords aren't doing the trick? Buy some new cookbooks, that's what!

After a particularly cruddy day at work (and I mean this in the literal sense; omg i'm never going to do anyone a favour again), the satisfaction from opening the Amazon box sitting on my desk was close to that gained from tearing off the wrapping of an anticipated Christmas present. For within the box were two impulse purchases: Harumi's Japanese Cooking and Washoku- recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.


I spent 20 minutes waiting for my agar to set salivating over the photo and recipe for Buckwheat Noodle Roll, an insane-looking maki sans rice, but made with buckwheat soba. That's definitely one to try one of these weekends.

Wa Shoku

Happy now...

Cross posted on akatsukieats.

03 September 2006


Ce soir j'attends Madeleine.


J'aime des madeleines. And they're surprisingly easy to make. I simply followed the straight-forward recipe from Epicurious.com with a few modifications. Self-raising flour instead of all-purpose flour plus baking powder due to an unfortunate invasion of weevils in our store cupboard. And vanilla extract in place of the much better vanilla pod. (Sacrilege, I hear you murmur...)

I must say the use of a silicone madeleine tray probably made things easier. I didn't have to butter multiple moulds, nor worry about things sticking. The madeleines popped out easily. And there was only one disastrous batch of darker-than-necessary cakes. (still edible, just not very pretty.)

But critically, they passed the taste test of our French neighbours.

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Cross posted on akatsukieats.

26 August 2006

Sushi Sasabune

Sasabune mosaic

Omakase. Trust your Itamae. With instructions courtesy of our friendly and efficient wait staff. (No dipping! Dipping allowed.)

Scallop and Salmon Sushi Black Cod Sushi Yellowtail Sushi
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Cross posted on akatsukieats.

23 August 2006

darn it

Looks like I won't be swaying to the sound of Keane next month.


20 August 2006

Battera sushi

Pressed box sushi

After a half-hearted attempt to enjoy some jazz on Thursday, we gave up and went for more palatable sushi instead at Sushi Isshin (Lindbrook and Tiverton, Westwood). We've had all sorts of food at Isshin: bento for lunch, tempura, california-style rolls (like black dragon and caterpillar), chirashisushi, noodles. But we've never been on a Thursday, when the chefs make battera sushi!

Apparently, this is how sushi was for hundreds of years, before the advent of nigiri sushi (see here). The combo of pickled veg and fish was refreshingly different from nigiri sushi. And considerably easier to eat too, without the dilemma of whether to stuff ones mouth or bite the massive sushi in half. Much easier than determining if a ball has been tampered with when it starts to reverse-swing.

[and so we segue into cricket]

All too convenient for England, me thinks. What with the slim chance of catching up at all, let alone hanging in there long enough for a draw, this hulabaloo might be the way out of straight-out defeat.

19 August 2006

An evening in Venice

Venice Beach Sunset II Venice Beach Sunset IV Venice Beach Sunset V Venice Beach Sunset VI Venice Beach Sunset VII

Straying a little further than usual, we spent a few twilight hours out west on Venice Beach last weekend. (And, yes. It took me a whole week to get round to writing this.) Someone had the rather nifty idea that we should try out Jin Patisserie on Abbott Kinney Blvd. While living out there last year, I walked past it SO many times, but never felt the inclination to go in alone. On the other hand, I went into the Taco shop and coffee place on California many times. Some places don't look so inviting when you're on your tod.

Anyhoo, we arrived to find a hen party in full swing. Or at least it looked like a hen party. It could have been a baby shower too. I'm not very good at identifying occasions of all-female parties, never having been to any. Besides, we got there too late too sip some tea with cake, and had to make do with takeaway. All the cakes had pretty names, but I can only remember the Louvre, helped by its pyrimidal shape.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Chocolate Louvre Choccy cake

The cakes were absolutely fabulous, when we got round to eating them at midnight. What was meant to be mousse was. What was meant to be cake was light and spongy. What was meant to be stodgy and chocolatey also lived up to expectations. I'm sure our enjoyment of these delectables would have been enhanced in the calm garden/patio of the patisserie. The chef-owner must be living a dream come true: which food-loving little girl has never dreamed of owning a bakery or patisserie? Mine kind of died when science beckoned and I realised that one had to have the skill of decorating as well as baking. No matter. I can now spend my hard-earned money on such luxuries without the slaving away by a hot oven all morning bit.

We also went to Wabi-Sabi. But felt kind of out-of-place there. It was packed full of the typical beautiful characters of Venice. And while the menu looked interesting, something was lacking in us that day. It's like being back at school again. Sunday nights are always marred by the prospect of work on a Monday. I enjoyed the lychee martini though:

Lychee martini P paused

13 August 2006

Russia comes to the Hollywood Bowl

Courtesy of a German conductor.

Russia comes to the Hollywood Bowl

This weekend has been Tchaikovsky-tastic at the Hollywood Bowl: two nights of the Russe with fireworks. The evening started rousingly with T's Cossack dance: your steroetypical populist folksy tune made classical. It set the scene for a evening of entertaining cheesiness. Now, don't get me wrong. I lurve Tchaikovsky, and for all the same reasons that most people do: his music is very emotional and involving. But because of that, his music has been used in all too many soppy, tear-jerking, sentimental (you get the picture) movies and soap operas. The second piece of the night was his Piano Concerto No.1, which is beautiful. No doubt everyone knows the opening bars (or if you didn't know it was Tchaikovsky, you'd still recognise the melody). And I will forever more associate with a Japanese tear-fest of a drama about a talented young woman and her struggle to become a concert pianist.

The interval was a necessary break from the emotion welling within. OK, I just needed more alcohol*.

Which brings us to the even more spectacular second half, with T's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overemotion. Yes, one can have a little bit too much Tchaikovsky. Again, nothing wrong with the composition nor the orchestra. In fact, the Bowl's changing lighting scheme came into its own with this piece, turning a dangerous red for the fight, pink for their love, and blue in tragedy. Maybe I just wasn't in the appropriate romantic mood to truly appreciate the Fantasy overture. I was somewhat more concerned about P's chilly hands (poor circulation, poor dear) than in just holding them. And I have to confess to having favourites when it comes to Russian composers of a certain period. Prokofiev, too, scored the Romeo and Juliet tragedy. And that has been my favourite since my cranky adolescent years, being just a little less sentimental. (Oh, who am I kidding. I love Tchaikovsky's too. I think I was just tired.)

The 1812 overture, like the R+J F.O., is overemotional and overly testosterone-inducing. But what a crowd-pleaser it is! All the more when fireworks are timed perfectly to replace the cannons. Bringing on the red and gold-clad USC Trojan marching band was another perfectly cheesy, over-production, populist move that just fit the evening perfectly. I was thoroughly entertained despite my jaded-ness. After all the years of staid concert-going, being quiet and appreciative, trying not to fidget too much lest the neighbours shush me, last night's concert was quite liberating. I felt able to throw off the cynical overcoat and wow at the Russian rooftop that appeared over the roof of the Bowl, and clap and cheer for every firework.

While this can never replace the true satisfaction of watching the final fireworks of the Edinburgh festival, the Hollywood Bowl certainly puts on a damn good show in spectacular surroundings. Even the moon obliged and loomed large and low for the R+J F.O. It's not the best venue for delicate chamber music. It's not the best acoustically for rock/pop concerts. But it's perfect for Hollywood style grandness.

*For drinkipoos that night: a Merlot and some Polygamy Porter** from the Wasatch Brewery, both 100% from Utah. Of the two alkys, the porter was far superior (the less said about the wine the better). After initial laughs and nudges from my fellow Tchaikovskites, it was generally agreed that Wasatch produces a fine porter indeed. Unfortunately, one can't get beer shipped just now. Which is why I'm going to Utah again in a few weeks.

**Why have just one! is their slogan.

12 August 2006

Palms Thai

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew must be the Thai equivalent of Char Kway Teow (a dish truly deserving of captalisation).

And not having been back to S'pore for nigh-on a decade, this is the closest I've had to the magical fatty friedness that is CKT. Unfortunately, the use of broccoli and chicken makes it far too healthy to qualify as CKT. For that, one probably needs full-fat pork lard, cholesterol-laden prawns.

It was Ticketmaster what did us a favour. Their sometimes ridiculous "convenience" charges (ok for a couple of tickets, but not for ten!) forced us to the Hollywood Bowl's box office last Saturday. By public transportation, no less. It's one thing to take the Hollywood Bowl Park and Ride shuttle for a hour to get to the Bowl for a concert. It's quite another to trek out with the Metro bus system for the same amount of time. For one, you could get quite unlucky and get on a smelly one. Which always seems to happen to me whenever we have to venture further east than Westwood. So, a three hour round-trip requires maximisation of our time. While we had some hope of taking in a hike in the Hollywood Hills, it transpired that getting to somewhere fairly pleasant is not exactly easy once you're actually at the bottom of the hills.

No matter. We have more than one interest. And having been told about Thai Town, we were determined to get some Thai food after. Barcelona FC's visit to the nearby Hollywood and Highland mall nearly side-tracked us until we realised how long we'd have to wait to catch a glimpse of the second-highest paid (but best bang-for-buck) team in Spain. And the new Beard Papa made a stab at stopping us in our tracks too. A cool cream-filled chocolate eclair definitely makes pushing through the tourist-throng outside Mann's Chinese Theatre a little more bearable. By the time my lips were licked clean, P had gotten bored of looking at long-dead people's footprints. And off we set on our hunt for Thai cuisine. Helped by the Zagat guide.

Thai condiments

Wee side note: does anyone else find the Zagat restau guide somewhat awkward when looking for food within a neighbourhood? Yes, they have a section at the back with lists of restaus by LA areas. But it's terribly difficult to wield the book, flip to the relevant page, check the darn address on a map balanced precariously between other hand and lap, give up cos it's not bus-able or walkable (in the heat, anyway), and whittle out the non-Thai places.

No matter. We found one within a 30 min walk. Palms Thai on Hollywood and Bronson is a somewhat canteeny looking place with an allegedly resident Elvis. But I guess an hour before real dinnertime starts isn't the best time to catch him. No maatter. That isn't why we went. We were after the exotics. Well, as exotic as it gets in LA anyway. Palms has a Wild Things menu, which includes raw shrimp, deer and frog legs. I think the only thing on that menu I'd find just beyond my ability is the raw shrimp. That's just asking for food poisoning, I reckon. In my prejudiced way.

But it was the leg of a frog that I managed to convince P to try. (Quail and deer are somewhat tame when one's had game all one's life.) The frog meat was a little tougher than I had hoped it would be. There's nothing quite like frog legs, French-style: all tender but with a garlicky kick. And I thought it'd be even better in a spicy sauce. Alas. I think our frog legs came out of a freezer drawer. And perhaps had been there a while too. I guess not enough people take advantage of the Wild Things menu to make getting in fresh frog legs economically viable. A shame.

Frog legs

Otherwise, we had pretty good service for off-peak. It wasn't overly attentive, and our bill (check, D! always ask for the check. no wonder no one understands you...) got a wee bit lost on its way to us. But that's kinda understandable when the entire wait staff is having their pre-game dinner. (Which looked soooo good.) It's also a little difficult to judge a restaurant's atmosphere at 5pm. The only other folk in were mainly small families with kiddies, and the odd tourist-looking couples (like us). Apart from the pad see ew, I enjoyed their coconut juice, which was really coconut water (the stuff wot will splash out if you're not careful when cracking the but) with floating chunks of coconut flesh. While not having to scrape crazily to get the sweet juicy flesh can be good, having it all in a glass can be somewhat.... mundane.

c-nut juice

I think I'd go back again. But without the expectation of the exotic. (Goddamit. It's kinda hard to find exotic when you've grown up with the very cuisine Johhny Foreigner thinks of as exotic.) Maybe as pre-concert fodder for the nearby Henry Ford Theatre. (Did I mention I have tickets for the Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah concert? Yes, I do. Not that I was familiar with their music before coming over.) I guess my search for spectacular Thai food in LA will just have to continue. But next time, I'll leave the Zagat behind, and take some Santos™ with me.

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11 August 2006

Hammer for Free

Pyeng Threadgill

Not so much one that bangs nails into walls, but one called the Armand Hammer Museum in LA. (Not the Arm and Hammer, as misunderstood by a friend. In-joke for those who live in the States.) The museum has had a summer of free-ness. Free rock, free exhibitions, and now, free jazz.

We had a pretty swinging evening of jazz and blues with Pyeng Threadgill and her band. Despite the uncomfortable seats and overly hard acoustics, her music moved my toes and swayed my hips. If I could dance at all, I would have.

The Hammer's website describes her as having the "voice of a jazz diva" with "indie-pop songwrit[ing]" credentials. Not possessing the vocabulary of the music-connoisseurs, I'd have to agree. It's not very often that I hear new vocal jazz that I want to listen to again and again. And her voice has that envious fullness/richness. It brings to mind a cup of perfect Italian espresso, accompanied with a pastille of dark, rich chocolate. Her song Ambrosia evokes aural memories of a young Ella Fitzgerald (listen here). Sweet and sultry at the same time.

02 August 2006

Dancing till Dusk

Dancing till Dusk

We've been away. And now we're back to the crazy heat of LA. It had been impossible to do anything in the daytime for at least a fortnight until it finally cooled off last weekend.

Which meant the weather was finally to my taste, and we could hit the beach. Manhattan Beach for a change. Lunch at Captain Kidd on Hermosa Beach was pretty good and not too expensive for fresh and varied seafood. The oysters were pretty good value at $1/shell. (That's in comparison to a pound a shell in Scotland.) And I got my bodyboard out for the first time this year. Wiped out on my first outing, and have a massive bruise to show for it. (exacerbated by volleyball afterwards. take my word for it: it's not fun to bruise a bruise.) Otherwise, a fun day oot.

Char Siew Udon

Sunday was meant to be a chill-out day, but we had to work. :( We were rewarded in the evening when an otherwise ordinary trip to the supermarket ended in several hours of dancing ancestral worship that is the Obon festival on La Grange in Sawtelle. We had some pretty tasty Japanese fast food: beef teriyaki, char siew udon and shaved ice with red beans (kintoki). But we mainly had our sights set on having an imagawayaki to finish off the day. Blueberry flavour to boot. Not one I've ever had before. Alas, it was not meant to be. Having waited to digest our meal, we joined the super-long queue, only to be told 20 minutes later that they could only make one more batch of imagawayaki, and everyone in front of us had asked for the final 28 cakes.

The imagawayaki that wasn't to be

We were, understandably, inconsolable. And spent the rest of the night throwing metal rings at money in a pit. (Some funky ring-throw booth.) I came pretty close to winning a $20 note. Close, but not close enough. But even a win would not have made up for the loss of the blueberry imagawayaki.

Oh yeah. And there was a lot of taiko-led dancing on the street outside. Some of it with fans and all.

05 July 2006

A review

Furry lobster attacks tree
Originally uploaded by framboise.

Of events in the rather dullllife of D and P.

Backtracking from the weekend just past.

Sunday, 2nd of July, was spent in a leisurely fashion, starting with a large cappucino and pain au chocolat (for D) and almond croissant (for P) at Amandine Patisserie on Wilshire (cross street Bundy*). During breakfast (wot? no photos? yeah, no photos), we had a scholarly discussion of the pros and cons of supermarkets vs corner shops, and how Edinburgh was going downhill with the muscling out of the once ubiquitous corner shop by "metro" outlets of large supermarket chains. Yes, even after a year in LA. Pathetic, isn't it? It was, however, sparked off by a simple suggestion that we swing by Ralph's on the way home to get some bog roll. And somehow turned into this huge, 30 min long rant about how Ralphs was like Safeway (our old local supermarket), which was absolute shit for fresh produce (their steaks leak water), but critical for daily necessities like toilet roll.

A pathetic Sunday morning in the supermarket was saved by the brainwave that we should escape the heatwave by visiting a museum. After the fiasco of the last attempt to visit an LA museum, we settled on a fairly local one: the Armand Hammer museum in Westwood. They're currently exhibiting works of the Société Anonyme, a disparate collection of 1920s-40s artists, some with intentional Dadaist streaks, and others with pretention so pure that you could only view them as Dadaists. No matter. I likey. And I laughed. Unfortunately, eveyone else in the gallery seemed quite serious, which made me feel somewhat disrespectful. [mini rant] Honestly, when did art become something one had to take seriously? Sure, if you're a student or an enthusiast, you could/should view it with a critical eye. But who decided that the atmosphere in galleries and museums should be quite so sombre? Yeesh. Loosen up. [rant ends] That said, the Hammer is a nice wee museum, and being free all summer, it's the perfect place to escape the LA heat and learn a thing or two. Or laugh inappropriately. Or take photos of their soothing monster bamboo:


Saturday, 1st of July, was the day I finally met Santos/chotda, of green bananas fame and made the aquaintance of Sarah from who writes of her delicious life. This also being the day of the game-I-still-cannot-talk-about-rationally, we made plans to watch the game-I-wish-never-happened in an Ingerland pub way off in the Valley. Stepping into the Fox and Hound on that fateful day was like visiting an English pub giving away beer for free. In fact, it was so full that we had to split up. So I can't even give a mouthful-by-mouthful account of shared food/drink. And I still can't talk about that game. But Santos can, and with a sense of humour I don't possess early in the morning or when Ingerland loses (again).... (btw, that was not horror from sartorial comments, more from the abject patheticness of Ingerland at fitba. omg, i *still* can't talk about it.)

Further plans to meet up for a trendy evening of watching Dr. Strangelove on the side of Douglas Fairbank's tomb came to naught. Mainly cos we were late. When the website says "doors open at 7.30pm" in LA, one should be there at 7.30pm, not nearly 9pm. Or one will come face to face with security refusing to let anyone in unless they're on a guest list. Even if you dared to tell them that P tackled the monstrous watermelon specially for the picnic. (Not that we did; security in LA probably comes with guns...) No worries. D had a plan to salvage the crazy bus ride from West LA: soon dubu at BCD Tofu House! So, a 5 min walk, 10 min wait, 5 min bus ride, and a 20 min walk later, we arrive at Wilshire and Normandie to find... that BCD Tofu House, the always-open, 24 hour, round-the-clock home of emergency soon dubu of Koreatown, was shut. For renovations. We were a 1 min wait from tears. Then D, master of all failed ventures, queen of bad luck, bane of P's life, spots a light in the distance. Long story short: found a Korean BBQ place still open. The Safety Zone (no idea why they're called that, other than the fact that they were our safety blanky that night) is a pretty spartan, patio-style, cheap and cheerful place. And it's open till late. (At least till 11pm, as far as we could tell.) It's not as swanky as Chosun Galbee, but service was fast. P allowed me a couple of minutes to grab this shot before diving tongue-first into the standard-order Korean side dishes:

Pickled P

The week before the relatively eventful weekend was as dull as ditchwater. If you thought your life was dull, you should come and live mine.

Sunday, 25th of June, flew by without either P or I leaving the apartment. You will find out why below. If you cared.

Saturday, 24th of June,: the day the Scots beat the hell out of the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in the year no-one-knows-and-no-one-cares. Also, the day perspiration flowed freely and D's chin-zit grew to magnificent proportions.

Yeah, a couple of idiots thought it would be a good idea to invite both their labs to a BBQ. The preparations started on Monday, and carried on right to the end of the Argentina vs Mexico game. Even into penalties. Significant amounts of meat were marinated and grilled. Including the flesh on my arm. Stupendous amounts of vegetables were cut/julienned/sliced/pickled/dressed/boiled/grilled/macerated/steeped. And for all that effort: no bloody photos! After the last time it happened, I swore to have an "official" photographer. And what did I do this time? Forget to take any bloomin' photos, that's what.

No matter. I must learn to accept that any future efforts for BBQs will just have to remain undocumented. You've either experienced one of our slapdash, uncoordinated BBQs, or you very fortunately haven't. As day turned into night, and folk (other than my lab) started trickling home, our final two guests arrived to save us from yet another evening alone with my lab (wot have no other social life to leave for, like us). Round two, dinner began. Quite luckily, an attempt at glutinous rice had failed for the BBQ. Five hours of constantly resetting the rice cooker later, our guests, not knowing any better, tucked in quite happily. And the camera finally made an appearance when the evening descended into whisky. Best part of the day: I finally learned what the weird 2nd-last icon on my new camera is for: indoor shots! I'd been using the "incandescent" setting with poor results. Two tired drunkards, glad most guests left well-fed:


Friday, 23rd of July, right up to 4am: D and P are super grouchy and still marinading meat.

*note that I have finally realised, after one whole year, that this is critical when mentioning street names in LA. especially when wilshire stretches from the pacific to smoggy downtown LA. and maybe even beyond. i just haven't gone that far yet.

26 June 2006

The Italian team are dirty fecking cheats

That was a dive. No doubt about it. Grosso is a fecking cheat. That was not a fair end to the game.

I hate teams that progress by cheating. It turns me off, watching the beautiful game ruined by these CHEATS! They did not deserve the penalty. They did not deserve to win. They do not deserve to be in the quarter-finals. I'd even like to propose a ban on Italy for the nest World Cup. This kind of desperate attempt in a game they clearly could not win is ugly and puts the game in bad repute. FIFA needs to come down harder on such teams. Especially if the referee fails to make the correct decision on the pitch.

What's the point of having a referee and two linsemen if their eyes aren't open? This incident proves that football *needs* a fourth official, like the replay officials in rugby and cricket. Who knows what the referee was thinking... Perhaps he was trying to make up for his bad decision in sending off the alleged "last man".

This World Cup is turning out to be the worst in terms of refereeing decisions. The referees have been put under immense pressure to come down hard on foul play. But some have been excessively harsh, yet some turn a blind eye. Lack of consistency makes it unfair on teams. And many of the referees look out of their depth, either lacking competency or just feeling the heat (literally and figuratively). The end result, whatever reason for the bad refereeing: ruined football.

What makes me even more mad is that the ESPN commentators here are saying the penalty was deserved, and in fact, was even "good play". I don't think American soccer players, coaches and analysts *get* the point of football. They think that hard, professional fouls are a necessity if the other team looks threatening. They think diving is good tactics. (Or maybe it's just that the clueless ESPN commentators are total fuckwits. Don't wish to tar all Americans with the same *dirty* brush.)

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17 June 2006


Of their graduate lives...

It's graduation weekend at UCLA. And what a difference it is from the more sedate ceremonies at Edinburgh. A vast class of over 2000 students "walked" yesterday in UCLA's basketball stadium to lots of cheers and wolf-whistles. It was a little more like a basketball game than what I've been through. The various Deans' names were broadcast on the central bank ot TV screens (think NBA games), with cuts to the odd pretty face in the crowd of candidates for graduation.

Due to the sheer numbers, the different faculties were conferred their degrees in mass-wedding style, standing with their peers to be declared graduates of UCLA, followed by popping of balloons, tossing of tortillas (dunno what that was all about, and the odd thrown toilet roll). Slap-dash as that may sound, more ceremonies have been planned for this weekend for individual majors.

In all, a fun and interesting cultural experience.

09 June 2006

Fitba, US-stylee

Had a glorious morning off watching the opening ceremony and first game of the 2006 World Cup. (Paid the price by having to work till late tonight; but it was worth it!)

Strangely enough, none of the "sports" channels had coverage of the opening ceremony. Instead, it was up to KXLA, the local Korean news and entertainment channel, to broadcast the feed. It's rather surprising that, apart from a few ads on Focks Soccer Channel, there hasn't been much mainstream enthusiasm for a World Cup that features the national team.

Heck, when Scotland occasionally qualifies, all work stops for the duration of the first round (and recommences when bloody England are yet again the only home country to qualify for round two). Yet the only excited folk in my lab and its vicinity are the foreigners. No one else seems aware that a major sports competition, with an audience close to that of the Olympics, kicked off this morning.

The game itself was pretty exciting; 6 goals being abnormally heart-racing for an opener, let alone one that included Germany, the Audi of football. Perhaps their poor qualifier efforts was enough of a kick up their backsides to up their game. Even so, that's got to be the most appalling German defence in a long time.

And while I didn't catch the Poland game, it'll be a fun World Cup if such "upsets" occur with more frequency. Perhaps my personal favourite underdogs: Trinidad and Tobago, will manage to win a match too. Just not against Ingerland.

02 June 2006

And you wonder why I'm not happy here...

Further kick in teeth: I am, as of yesterday, not an official employee of the university. My contract expired, and I fell through the cracks. I am persona non grata.

So while I'm still expected to work all hours, I cannot access my lab out-of-hours or on weekends. Ah ha ha ha. I will not get paid this month. Again. (I didn't get paid for three months when I first arrived because everyone was too busy and overworked to put me in the system. Not that a foreigner spending a small fortune to pack and store her entire life, fly herself to a new country and pay several months' rent upfront in LA needs any money...)

Will the constant insults never end?

01 June 2006

Today, the self-pity must end

Umm... What to say? A few moments here for self-centered cathartic self-pity. Normal business will resume shortly.

It's been a few months since I felt inspired enough to write or cook anything. It's no big surprise that the last few months have been tough for me. While having P in LA makes my life better, it's been a pretty poor excuse for a life at all. (I know here that our lives are nowhere near as difficult as quite a lot of folk, but I mean relative to the life we had in Edinburgh.) Work, though stimulating at times, has become a drag. The excitement and challenge of working in a new lab was quickly replaced by the drudgery all things wrong with modern working life. The rose-tinted glasses came off long ago, but I had not personally worked in "difficult" work environments before.

[Mid-August, 2006. Self-censorship here. I've just realised that I've made one or two fatal errors and may not be able to keep colleagues past and present from coming across this blog. It's the considered opinion of some that blogs are the lowest form of expression on earth. So I may be safe. But I may have made things far too obvious in this paragraph to those in the know. And breached common decency. The things I said should probably have been reworded and said to face(s) of folk who make my life miserable. But something tells me that would make it difficult for me to continue working in my lab. Either way. I must break all unwritten blogging rules and remove my words.]

Even without the work-related miseries, life here hasn't been all that fun. We've been to the beach a grand total of 5 times since P arrived (OK, it's winter. Even so!). And every attempt to explore LA at the weekends has been thwarted by traffic, work, the buses, work, protests, inertia, work... If it's not P that has to work on weekends, it's me.

In short, we're not as happy here as we were in Edinburgh. Sure, Edinburgh had it's problems too, namely the weather. But there, we could get away. Work, while hard, was made bearable by our peers and colleagues. There we also had friends. Here in LA, without the social life of our respective labs and our kind neighbours, we'd be lost. In Edinburgh, there was the build-up of acquired friends from having a past in the city. Here, as newcomers, without some hobby or way to socialize, it's lonely. And while we have dinner with the neighbours and their friends, we still feel a little out of it as obscure scientists. Fellow scientists outside of the lab are hard to meet with the crazy work schedules everyone sets out for themselves.

The end result is a couple of very unhappy postdocs in LA. Even with the constant sunshine, I've had SAD all winter long. Even though I love my science and working in an environment where I have plenty of friendly and helpful collaborators, I've started job hunting again. Even though we've got a mini-garden growing on out north-facing patio, we're looking for new apartments in a quieter neighbourhood. All because I stupidly accepted a job without first vetting the lab and its location. (Not that it would have solved my current problems.)

But summer's here. My strawberry plants are bearing fruit again. Our families have been and will be visiting. We've seen the Grand Canyon and the touristy northern part of Arizona. And we have good wine on the rack.

Things are looking up. Expect more blogging.

05 May 2006

You must be kidding

One of those weird papers that pop up in my PubCrawler searches: Effect of explosive noise on gastrointestinal transit and plasma levels of polypeptide hormones.

Translation: Rats can get so scared they shit themselves.

P.S. I'm not dead; just depressed.

08 February 2006

Conservation, Texas-style

I've always thought of Texas as a truly alien land, possibly biased from an early age from watching those odd "dream" episodes of Dallas. But this takes the biscuit. Something I've learned since arriving here is that the American male is always right. This seems to be a country built on the alpha male (not that there aren't alpha males in other societies, they just bug me more here). And it doesn't matter what experience or knowledge you have here, if you cannot shout as loud as the alpha male, no one will pay any attention to you. The alpha male will find his viewpoint to be absolutely correct and infallible, failing to take into consideration any obvious logical and moral flaws it may have.

"What species has the Humane Society ever saved?" [Erice White] asks.

"They just want to save one animal - perhaps called Bambi - but we have a long-standing record of saving entire species and entire habitats. Hunting is the only way to generate enough dollars to do it."

Several things jar about this quote. For one, the point of a "Humane Society" is to seek out and prevent undue cruelty to animals. It's besides the point to accuse them of not saving a species; it's not their mandate. And to say so is to throw in a red herring. And I'm not sure these ranch safaris can accurately claim to save "entire species" nor "entire habitats", as what they must have are small breeding colonies, which will eventually (soon) result in a highly inbred population, plus I wouldn't call an American ranch a natural habitat of species such as the antelope.

Besides, as humans have advanced beyond the rest of the animal kingdom and no longer need to fear starvation or death-by-bear, what does such hunting satisfy other than the craving to kill?

05 February 2006

I cannae believe it: Scotland scored the *first* try against France!

And as I post this, it's 10-0...

It's been near impossible to catch any of the 6 Nations here.

Update: It's noo 13-3. Chicken-counter P is a wee bit upset that France managed to claw back 3 points before half-time. Him and the other pre-hatch numerators are going to jinx us!

Update: We're sitting in stunned silence. Can't quite believe our ears. The last ten minutes were too tense!

This is the best start to a Six Nations campaign in at least a decade. Could it finally be the payoff of having three pro Scottish teams? The maturation of what was a young side a couple of years ago? Change in management style? Certainly, the game sounded less negative than it's looked for the last three 6 Nations. And relieving Chris Paterson of too many responsibilities sounds like it's improved his kicking accuracy. Then again, it's like when Gregor Townsend was playing: when Paterson has a good game, Scotland has a good chance of winning. And having a few fast feet pushing the game forward changes the way the rest of the team plays. This doesn't change the way Scotland seems to tire towards the end; this time, they could at least play 20 good minutes in the 2nd half, where before they'd be too knackered to defend. France gained a lot of ground and scuppered their chances with two missed conversions, which places some doubt on their chances this year.

Count your chickens all you like; this victory is enough for me.

28 January 2006


busy busy at work... no lunch for the wicked all this week, nor much of a dinner, so no food posts or photos. :(

It's the lunar new year tomorrow, and although I was kinda excited about celebrating it in a city with a large Chinese population when I first arrived, it looks like I'll be stuck indoors tomorrow redesigning an experiment that I've just wasted 6 months on. :( But at least I've avoided having to actually come into the lab... Haven't had the time nor inclination to get the usual CNY goodies. Double :( At least my parents brought me some mini shrimp rolls when they were here. :) And left me a red packet to open. Double :)

And at least I had the presence of mind to buy some clementines at the Farmers' Market. It's not Chinese New Year for me unless I gorge myself on mandarins, tangerines and clementines for the first three days. (I can hear my grandma now telling me it's "heaty" to eat too much citrus...)

25 January 2006

Little Tokyo West

Sawtelle Blvd's many nurseries beckoned last weekend. Salad leaves may result. Strawberries less likely. A wee Totoro was acquired and someone threw a tantrum until I bought him the neko bus from the giant robot store. And failing to learn his lesson from our visit to BCD Tofu House in Korea Town, someone upset his delicate stomach yet again in Tofu Ya:

Soon Dubu

Ah well. At least he enjoyed eating it.

And on Sunday, we retraced our steps, but replaced soon dubu with ramen two doors down (same lady seems to work in both restaus, and must have thought we're weirdos who take plants for walks). We like our local Little Tokyo. It feels almost like a warm and exotic version of Stockbridge.

Update: Nothing has died yet, and there are even some small green strawberries on the way (not at all due to our turquoise fingers; they came with wee babies). The mizuna is flourishing, but the poppies look unlikely to flower. An azalea was added to the collection last weekend, and we're on the hunt for more shade-lovers that produce fragrant flowers. Any suggestions?

20 January 2006

CDs, tapes, LPs, MP3s; they all have a place in my life

Have today's teens even touched an LP?

Proof my family is weird #567: My dad threw out all his records when cassette tapes became popular, instantly regreting it years later when the quality started deteriorating. And when CDs first appeared, he immediately jumped on the digital bandwagon, and re-purchased his favourite Gramaphone records.

This meant that from my teens onwards, all I used or bought were CDs, with the exception of lots of mixed tapes my friends would record for me. And when CD burners on computers became widespread (in my early twenties, I'm that old), the only tapes I possessed were specifically for P's beloved 205, made in the pre-CD era (well, not really... I've seen 205s with CD decks; his was just the bottom of the range). They were critical for all long car rides beyond the reach of radio waves. (It was either Travis a million times per trip, or us singing Old Macdonald over and over again.)

And at some point during the dreaded PhD years, I bought a dirt-cheap Aiwa in a clear-out sale, which came with a record player. This resulted in my flatmate of the time buying me a few LPs from a charity shop for Christmas; possibly the first time I ever touched a vinyl record. The opening of an Oxfam music shop in Stockbridge fueled the fire, with good second-hand classical albums going for a quid each. A boxed set of the complete Beethoven symphonies could be obtained for under 10 quid!

Admittedly, a lot of the LPS I bought weren't in tip-top condition (some even had mold!), but for someone who grew up with pristine, crisp, clean, digital sounds, the crackle of a scratched record playing some old jazz has its charms. Sure, not all of them continue to play accurate recordings, but I like to think of my second-hand LPs as aged wines. Different, with character. Perfect on winter evenings with the fire crackling and a glass of wine, or on cool bright summer evenings, dancing around the flat (again with a glass of alcohol in hand).

Now, of course, most of my CD collection lives as MP3s on the computer and MP3 player, and the hard copies, remnant tapes and vinyls sit in a storage cupboard. We left the cheapo Aiwa hifi out for the tenants to enjoy, but stored the turntable safely for our return. I guess you could say we're retro-technophiles.

18 January 2006

Fathers 4 Justice soon to be classified as a "terror organisation" in the US

From BBC news: Extreme elements bring down Fathers 4 Justice.

Thought it was funny, yet so telling of US networks' propensity to overdramatise events, that the alleged plot to kidnap Leo Blair made it to headline news last night. (Despite being a minor story on BBC news, and that the alleged plot was nothing more than some men talking shit in a pub.)

Brief pulse of light in the dark

Indian cricket lovers without cable were, according to the Beeb, left in the dark. Ha! Welcome to my world. I have yet to find a way to either listen to a live game on the radio or internet, nor catch highlights on any TV station. Apart from this morning, when I was treated to a clip of Sehwag being caught at slip to completely screw up their chance of a record opening stand. Bummer for them, but good for me that Focks Soccer Channel deemed it interesting enough to intersperse their morning round-up of football.

16 January 2006

The charms of sukiyaki

The arms of Sukiyaki
Are all I long for since I left Nagasaki*

Veggie plate for sukiyaki Sukiyaki set-up
Sizzle sizzle Sukiyaki, hot and fresh
Dip in egg Sukiyaki encore

Sukiyaki for dinner on our new Iwatani butane stove (bought following that bloody power outage on NY's eve... I'm still annoyed, is it obvious?) Further purchase of a sukiyaki pan made today (a semi-holiday for P and I), along with the necessary ingredients from Mitsuwa on Centinela and Venice. (We went in search of a pot for steamboat on CNY's eve, but as usual, came home with something unexpected but good all-the-same.)

Watching Totoro now, so recipe and more details later...

We had a sukiyaki-hunt in SF recently, when my mother decided that she just had to have some (OK, we wanted some too, but any excuse, eh). We even went as far as looking for Japantown in SF just to get some, but were left sorely disappointed with the sukiyaki we found there. In hindsight, it was listed under the "noodles" section of the menu, which could have been some indication that it wasn't going to be kosher. To make matters worse, we found another restaurant with sukiyaki on the menu just round the corner from our hotel in the opposite direction from Union Square. [kicks self in butt]

Since then, we've craved the sweet and saltiness of the sukiyaki base. The purchase of the portable butane stove from Ijiya a fortnight ago was the first necessary purchase. And today's Mitsuwa adventure saw us drooling at the meat counter, where we dithered between getting shabu shabu or sukiyaki cuts of lovely Angus beef. The marbling on the slices was beautiful, and if it wasn't quite so gross, I'd wallpaper my kitchen with it. Yah, just kidding.

What tipped the balance in favour of sukiyaki was the availability of a none-too-expensive sukiyaki pot. It's not as fancy as the cast iron versions, but has the slight benefit of having a lazy person-friendly non-stick coating. And the photo of sukiyaki on the front was a ready-made shopping list: enoki (straw mushroom), shiitake (most well-known Japanese mushroom), leafy cabbage (called Napa cabbage here, and Chinese leaf in the UK), some funky looking leaves which could be chrysanthemum leaves but probably aren't, giant spring onions (meant to be leek, but couldn't see any, so bought Tokyo onion instead), tofu (but idiot here bought regular tofu instead of grilled tofu, so she had to fry it), and some probably-none-too-kosher carrots.

Preparation was minimal. Sliced the onions (diagonally as per photo on box), trimmed the bottoms off the enoki (to remove the roots still bound to the growing medium), trimmed off the stalks of the shiitake and cut a wee asterix on top, trimmed the leafy veggies into manageable pieces, carved the carrots into hard orange sakuras and fried the tofu (should have bought the grilled tofu, dammit). Realised that I forgot to get some shirataki noods, and got the remnant saifun (from the random Japanese dish dinner), and stuck it on the plate too.

As for the cooking, easy peasy and extremely entertaining. (easily amused...) Heat the pan. Add some oil (and butter if being naughty). Fry the beef slices very quickly on each side. I took them off at this point because I hate over-cooked beef. Pour in a sploosh of sake (about 3 tbsp, according to about.com), some sugar (I used 2 tbsp), and soya sauce (again, used only 1-1/2 to 2 tbsp of the recommended 3... don't like too much salt). Add half the veggies (or the pot gets too darn full and nothing touches the sauce), and pour in a cup of dashi stock. Return the beef to warm through. Crack an egg into a bowl, and mix. (OR leave out the egg if you fear the dreaded Salmonella. Damn that Edwina Currie...) As the various ingredients cook, dip in egg and apply to face. Since I overestimated what we needed, we had enough to feed four, and had a second round**.

* Not terribly PC, but still comes to mind everytime I have sukiyaki...
** We also did something quite naughty, and added some rice to the pot at the end. Ach, I can't help it. It's in my nature to add rice to any thick soup. It's those years of training via Chinese steamboat...

Technorati tags: , .

Cross posted on akatsukieats.

Random eats

Ate quite a lot this past week, but failed to take many photos. Was also working my way through the freezer, so didn't feel enough pride to get the camera out.

Have also had a particularly sociable life this weekend (as opposed to lying in bed or watching football), starting with a 21st birthday party disguised as a knitting party at a lovely apartment on the border of the Pacific Palisades and Malibu. Spectacular view, great hosts, and super fun blowing up, and subsequently playing with, balloons. Did I mention the great hosts already? It's amazing how some people can make you feel at home instantly. I wish I had that skill. (But I'm working on it with my monthly lab BBQs... Each time, I spend less time over the BBQ and more with my guests.) I was, however, a little bothered by the behaviour of a fellow guest. He wasn't particularly offensive, but P and I were left in no doubt that here was a prime specimen of male chauvanism: snide remarks about how much better and faster he could hook up a VCR than a "bunch of girls" (which he failed to anyway), instant assumption that I would know nothing about sports (funny how I was the only member on my team to get all the "Sports" questions right on Trivial Pursuit), and general talking-down to the female members of his team. I hope never to meet him again.

Our other fun of the weekend came in the form of the opening of a photography exhibition, in which my neighbour has a few on display. Although it was all the way at the Metro Galllery in Silverlake (a little north and east of Hollywood), we managed to get there in under 45 minutes thanks to their knowledge of a fast-moving road (and hell no, I'm not telling anyone 'lest it becomes as clogged as Sunset, Santa Monica or Wilshire!). You know all those well-lit galleries with perfectly mounted displays of art that we mere passerbys feel too intimidated to go into? Well, we went in! (That's an all-time first for crowd-shy P and I.) It wasn't too pretentious, and we felt more at home as most of the guests were friends and family of the artists. (It was the teenage in the corner kicking his heels and playing his game-thingy that gave it away.) There may be more yet to come... And we'll have to try harder to put on the sociable "let's talk to strangers" facade which comes so difficultly to us.

The evening was finished perfectly by dinner in Korea Town with a friend, who has been telling us about a spicy tofu restaurant for weeks. BDC Tofu House on Wilshire Blvd is open 24 hours, and specialises in... Spicy Tofu (Soon Dubu Chige)! You can have Soon Dubu Chige on its own (choosing the type of meat you want in it), or with accompaniements like Bulgogi or Bibimbap. Whichever you go for, they serve you three types of kimchee (a mild soupy one, a dry medium, and a super-hot miniature serving on a bed of cabbage), some strange but satisfying mashed potato with pickled cucumber in it, and a fried fish. Apparently, there is a lot of competition between the Korean places on the side dishes.

I'm deeply sorry that I didn't have my camera on me, and can only point you to the soon dubu" tag on Flickr for some pictorial interest. The tofu arrives in a still bubbling spicy soup, and you crack an egg into the soup, either stirring it or leaving the yolk intact, whichever way you prefer. In addition to tofu, the spicy stew contains beef and clams (in this version anyway). Eat with plenty of white rice, and don't forget to ask for the mild version if you're not a fan of spice. The "medium" was perfect for me. And while P enjoyed it greatly, his stomach protested later... But that's wussy Scotsmen for you...

Update: While searching for recipes for soon dubu, I came across the FatMan Seoul blog (one that dropped off my reading list when my last computer died, and has now, sadly, stopped blogging about Korean food), which has an informative post with plenty of photos of Soon Dubu Chige/Jigae.

Cross posted to akatsukieats.

14 January 2006

Pakistan v India, Day 2


Oh yeah, and I'm still not talking about England's dismal run (or lack of...) in Pakistan...

10 January 2006

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; doesn't mean a thing to me*

From BBC news: Eviction threat in 'respect' plan.

The OED should revise their definition of respect. The word now conjures up images of a smirking G.G. Galloway or feelings of uncontrollable rage against the PM and his spin machine. I respect the need to respect our fellow men, but I object to the use of the word to describe a task force that will be little more than a group of power-hungry police-wannabes telling people off for inconsiderate behaviour. (Um, it's a given that I also object to the formation of said task force and all other over-the-top gimmicky measures Blair is suggesting. I'm starting to think I don't want to return to a UK that is nothing more than a nanny state. On the other extreme is the free-market that is the US, and that's not working out so well either...)

Changed title 'cos I now have Aretha Franklin's song in my head. Yeah, and apologies for tainting the song and its memory by association.

Update 2: Another cultural reference springs to mind:

Respect Ma A-thoritay!

Update 3: Boris (Johnson) makes two pertinent points (apart from his opinion of James Blunt and the Kaiser Chiefs):

1. My objection is not just that these measures are centralising and authoritarian - an objection that is unlikely to cut much ice with people enduring anti-social behaviour. The trouble with this stuff is that it once again lulls people into the belief that the Government is really going to sort out their problems, when the reality is that the whole of the new anti-yobbo programme, parenting classes and all, will be about as much use to thug-plagued estates as Blair's doomed plan to march them to cashpoints for on-the-spot fines - i.e. no use whatever.

2. I dislike his gimmicks because at every stage personal or communal responsibility is replaced by the state, and the more completely government assumes responsibility for problem kids, the less people will understand that part of civility is having the courage to reprimand someone for spitting on a granny, and not pass by on the other side. If we continue to treat comparatively small acts of thuggishness as matters purely for the Government, then we will never get thuggishness off our streets, and we the British public will never recover our individual and collective courage as long as we think that nanny Blair is going to deal with the problem himself.


Btw, since when did I start agreeing with Tories?

09 January 2006

Starbucks economics is affecting my coffee-experience*

What?! Starbucks do a normal-size cappuccino?! (via) And all this time I've avoided the cappuccino in non-Italian coffee shops because they don't ever follow the perfect thirds ratio of espresso:milk:froth. Right, time to put it to the test. We have a Starbucks within the hospital canteen; I'll ask for a short cappuccino there first. And maybe even try that in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, or our local coffee franchise.

*Bleh. Apologies for the use of the word "experience". I hear it SO much here, along with "facilities", that I've even started using it unconsciously. Shoot me now...

wtf? again?

From BBC news: Royal Mile cobbles to be lifted

I seem to recall a whole year of road works in 2004 on the Royal Mile, ending only in time for the bloody Festival. And now they want to do it all again? F-ing money wasters! As for auto-bollards, there is one between my building and the rest of campus here in LA, and it takes AGES to lower/raise itself. I'd hope Edinburgh Crapouncil will bear that in mind and have the sensors come on well before emergency vehicles need access.

08 January 2006

Random Japanese dishes

On our last sojurn to Little Tokyo, we purchased a Japanese cookbook, with an emphasis on home cooking as opposed to those pretty and fancy dishes you get in fusion books. Since we're kinda cack-handed, bog-standard Japanese fare sounded mighty fine to us.

Since then, we've only used the book once, a lack of time and the necessary ingredients being our main excuses (of which we have plenty). And the last time I dragged P out to Little Tokyo, he didn't stop whingeing about the super-long bus ride for weeks, so that was pretty much out of the question. But I've since done a little digging online, and found a little Japanese enclave so close to us, we could hit it with a cricket ball (in our dreams, I hear the skeptics exclaim).

So last Friday, we hauled our arses off the bus a third of the way home from work and took a small detour down Sawtelle. We despaired of finding any open shops until, all of a sudden, clusters of Japanese shops and restaurants revealed themselves. A merry little jig resulted when my eyes laid rest on an Iwatani stove (absolutely essential since the New Year's Eve debacle with the fucking oven). And while some of us were confusticated by the array of sweeties on offer, I unthinkingly grabbed a bag of crappy Japanese biscuits from my childhood:

Kawaii snacks

As a result of this find, our diet this weekend has been fairly healthy (apart from multiple experimental waffles, which will be photographed when we get them looking remotely like waffles).

Dinner 1: sea bass and noodles in a clear dashi soup, spinach with sesame paste, and burdock (shop-bought). I particularly liked the way the cookbook suggested cooking the sea bass: lay the fish in a colander and pour boiling water over (I used about 6-8 cups in a kettle), followed by cold water to stop the cooking process. The fish can then be warmed up in the boiling soup when everything else is ready. Major plus: fish that isn't overcooked.


Dinner 2: agedashi tofu. With the leftover spinach and burdock.


My only grouse about our meals: we didn't put that much thought into what would go together, more on what dishes we could cook given the contents of our refrigerator. So the sesame-coated spinach didn't go all that well with either the fish soup or the fried tofu. The Japanese seem to be more in touch with the changing season, possibly as a result of centuries of etiquette trickled down from a culture-obsessed royal court, and they eat accordingly. In our modern society, on the other hand, you can get just about anything at any time of year, air freighted in from everywhere. And it doesn't help that this is Southern California, where you can still get fresh fruit and veg even in the dead of "winter". And I also seem to have forgotten dinners from my childhood, where although less-stylised, our Chinese dishes were still matched according to which flavours worked together. Time to apply some attention to menus instead of individual dishes.

Cross-posted on akatsukieats.

05 January 2006

Deaf rockers

From the BBC: White noise.

Yeah, they'd have to be deaf to put up with their own music. I don't have much of a problem with my portable music levels, although I've had to stop listening on the bus due to the super-high background noise levels. A pair of those fancy schmancy ear plug/buds is on the "would love to have but can't part with the money" shopping list.

But what gets my goat the most are restaurants that play loud background music for purposes unclear to me. Are they trying to block out background shouting/slanging matches in the kitchen, or traffic noise, or to confuse your senses so much that you don't realise how crap the food you're eating is? Whatever the reason, I'm going to stop going to restaurants/pubs that have too much background noise. Compared to the "ambient" noise in restaurants and pubs, personal stereos and gigs are nothing...

04 January 2006

San Francisco


I've been in SF. It rained.

More photos on Flickr.