Friday, December 28, 2007

After Christmas Sale - Bloomingdales

Apparently, the Bloomingdales in Century City had drastic markdowns after Christmas (additional 50% off already mark downed prices). The selection for both shoes and clothing were slim but very good deals. I wanted to purchase something so bad yesterday, but couldn't find anything that was the right size. I think if i were there the day after christmas, i probably would have had a better chance, but I was too busy shopping at saks. oh well, no big deal.

Surprisingly, century city mall was empty last night. I ate at one of the newer fast food places (i think it replaced a burger chain). It was Lawry's Carvery A Cut Above. Menu prices were:
Prime Rib Sandwich $14
Roast beef Sandwiches $9-10
Turkey Sandwiches $9
Brisket Sandwiches $10

Platter meals (served with 2 sides-choice of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, creamed corn)
prime rib $15-25 depending on 6 oz, 9 oz or 12 oz cut
turkey, brisket, or roast beef au jus $13

Since it was not too busy, the carver let me try a bit of the prime rib, roast beef and brisket. All were very good, but I decided on the roast beef. It was just as tasty but $4 less than the price of the prime rib. The brisket would have been fine as well.

I had the roast beef bleu sandwich (with bleu cheese) along with mac and cheese. Very tasty sandwich but not too impressed with the mac and cheese and would definitely not order it again. Too bad they don't have their tasty creamed spinach on the menu. They have the absolute best.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pesto Sauce - LA Times

Note: Adapted from Nancy Silverton and chef de cuisine Matt Molina of Pizzeria Mozza.
Pesto sauce
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or to taste

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley and salt into a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, mixing well to incorporate. Just before serving, season with lemon juice and additional salt to taste.

Dylan's Candy at Saks

Saks had candy (christmas and nonhalf priced all day. I had stayed at a hotel in NY in december and dylan's gummi bears were in the hotel room bar for $13. I was tempted but didn't purchase it. I saw it for half price at the saks sale and decided to purchase it there. I usually just buy the haribo gummi bears at rite aid for $1.79, but dylans was in a small plastic pail so nicely presented and had a selection of different colors/flavors from the usual selection (blue and purple gummi bears?) and plus more quantity of gummi bears. The price of $6.50 was reasonable, so I purchase it. my verdict - i was happy with my purchase since dylan's gummi bears are soft and delicious, especially the blue and purple ones.

After Christmas Sales

So I went to Saks Fifth Avenue the day before and after Christmas after hearing all discounted shoes (all clearance items actually) would be an additional 50% off after Christmas from 8 am to 12 pm. Parking wasn't too bad although it looked bad - there are just a lot of lame drivers out there who either drive really slow and/or don't know where to go and need direction. Shoe racks were full the day before Christmas (actually, shopping wasnt too bad in Beverly Hills surprisingly). The day after Christmas, I arrived around 11 am. Shoe racks were almost empty; hardly anything left. Long shoe line to purchase, hoards of women surrounding salespeople to get the other shoe mate. It was basically a madhouse. I didn't find anything. After 12 pm, leftover shoes were an additional 40% off.

I walked over to Neiman Marcus (definitely not as crowded since it was only an additional 25% off clearance items.) I did overhear a shoe salesperson offering an additional 40% off to someone purchasing shoes.

I then walked to Barneys. I had been to Barneys the day before Christmas. Barney's had the same items for sale at the same price before and after Christmas. No additional markdowns. I mainly was in the jeans for sale section. All types marked down to $99-$139 from $150-250. Still expensive but slightly better selection and price in denim than Saks or Neiman. Selection of cute, fashionable Barneys shoes/handbags on sale were limited but pricey still even after the markdowns. Some shoes are so weird looking that I often wonder who would pay so much for such a weird looking shoe that would be out of style in no time, if it ever was in style in the first place.

My opinion goes the same for some handbags too and some are so goddamn heavy to begin with, once you add your things too it, it becomes a drag to carry around. Why don't high-end designers make lighter handbags? There are very few out there that are fashionable. An example would be Marc Jacobs line. I saw the regular priced handbags that were very pricey ($1200-1800) but all were too heavy. Even prada's line was too heavy. Geez. Nice styles but so not functional. Too bad.

I was so tired at the end of my 2 hour shopping extravaganza, I went home and took a nap.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Star Sighting

Laura Dern at Sur La Table in Santa Monica (2nd and Arizona) by herself. She looking into buying an ice cream maker. She is very tall and thin - I'd say at least 5 '10-5'11 but don't know if she was wearing heals.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tivo Renewal

Originally paying $10.95 a month. Called 877-289-8486 (case # 8060278) to change plan to $99 a year plan (other option was $9.95 a month). Qualified for multi service discount.
This plan expires 12/20/08
Second tivo expires 10/5/08

Thursday, December 20, 2007

NY Extended Weekend Getaway - Dec 15-18

NY was a lot of fun. It was very cold. Too crowded everywhere, but very holiday spirited, especially around midtown (saks fifth avenue window and cartier store are very festive). Saw Nutcraker (NY City Ballet) on Sunday ($45 tickets for 4th level seating which was the best available at the time of purchase, but i was still able to enjoy it). tickets sold out eventually. Saw ny knicks game on monday night against indiana pacers. ny knicks lost by quite a bit. a guy holding a "fire isaiah" sign immediately was kicked out by security guards the second he showed the sign". It was during the last final minutes of the 4th quarter, so it wasn't a big deal since knicks were far behind the pacers. i saw spike lee sitting in the front row - there is always a picture of him at a knicks game in all those entertainment magazines, so it was expected to see him there. got to show support thru the good and bad times or else you'll be called a "bandwagoner" if you suddenly become a big fan when they do really well. too bad knicks haven't been doing too well lately.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Virgin America Flight

I just came back from a roundtrip LAX to JFK flight. Virgin America seemed more spacious and technologically advanced than the airline I usually fly, American. My flights to and from JFK were both delayed, 1.5 hours to jfk and 0.5 hours from jfk, which was slightly annoying. Service was good. You can order free non alcoholic drinks or alcoholic drinks ($5) right from your computer screen at your seat. Drinks came within 10 minutes of ordering. I also ordered a beef/mozarella cheese with pesto sauce for $9. Took about 15 minutes to arrive. Beef tenderloin was ok quality. Taste was pretty good for airline food, although sandwich would have tasted much better panini pressed. Sandwich also came with a mini toblerone. yum.

entertainment was good - they had recently released movies to choose from, but movies must be purchased for $8 using your credit card right in the screen slot. movie selection included: bourne ultimatum, superbad, knocked up and ratatoullie. free movies were offered at the bottom of the movie selection but were movies that i never heard of or the one i selected called "elevator girl" was a short 5 minute film.

you can select radio or albums or watch music videos. All types of different music options. music video selection was limited.

tv was not very good. i was only able to watch 4-5 channels out of 20 - error message on most although cnn, oxygen, etc were listed. sci-fi channel was always available and a channel called 'current'. didn't use much of the tv. i watched premium tv (free) which were mostly single episodes of some current tv shows available. example included 1-2 episodes from shows american dad, the office, scrubs, two and a half men. it got old quickly.

lots of options on virgin america, but i just wished more of the tv worked and more episodes were available on premium tv. $8 charge for movie was slightly high.

you can chat with another seat from your seat; also, you can play a selected number of games.

i don't think it was enough for me to use them again and again for future flights but if i get a great deal like the one i got for this flight, i definitely would. the delays were really bad.

side note: make sure you're on the right flight. apparently the jfk-sfo and jfk-lax were on the same runway and the jfk-sfo boarded right before the jfk-lax. there was a girl in front of me who realized she was on the wrong flight once the person who was assigned to that seat came. i guess virgin doesnt scan or check b/c how come no one told her that this was the wrong flight for her? what if no one was assigned in the same seat as her and she ended up flying to lax? it's a good thing someone was assigned to that seat.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Las Vegas 1 day trip to see Celine Dion's A New Day

It was totally worth flying out and coming back the same night just to see celine. I had so much fun. Everything went perfectly as planned except for our return flight home which was delayed for 45 minutes. Celine dion's A New Day show was amazing-probably the best show I've seen in vegas. The dancers and special effects were great. The governor of las vegas happened to be at the show also - apparently, he had honored her earlier, so she announced a special thanks to him. He and his wife had seats in the very front row. i even bought her cd for $22. i'm glad i did not miss her Las Vegas show and it's too bad i waited 5 years to see it. This was a show i would have seen again and again. I even won $152 playing blackjack with only $20 to begin. What luck!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Las Vegas

I purchase 2 last minute tickets last night to Las Vegas for flight today. Have evening flight and returning same evening aroung midnight. Tickets were not cheap! I checked american, southwest, jetblue. Best schedule for me was US Airways. Total per person was $265 each ticket. Got last minute Celine Dion tickets - her last show is this weekend in caesars palace.

Star Sighting Last Night at The Grove

Last night around 10 pm, I spotted Lindsay Lohan at Barnes and Noble at the Grove with another female and male. She looks the same as she does in movies.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Problems Encountered with Travelocity Booking?

I got the below information from regarding someone who was having trouble with a flight change after calling travelocity customer service several times with no luck. The advice was to get thru to Travelocity's President:

Travelocity corporate headquarters
Michelle Peluso, President
The corporate HQ # is (682) 605-3000.
Possible direct phone number(682) 605-1374
Email could be

Hmmm. Interesting.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ralph Lauren Goose Down Pillows again

I loved my previous RL goose down pillow that I purchased in November. The RL ran out before I could order more. They are not on sale anymore at $55 (the current price is $69), but I have a coupon code for 30% off total purchase thru Monday, 12/10, so it comes out to about $53 including tax. My head just melts in the pillow.

Magee's at the farmer's market

Had dinner at magee's before watching Juno. They have the best reuben sandwich - the corned beef is so delicious. Regular corned beef sandwich $7.75, reuben sandwich (with saurkraut and swiss cheese) is $8.25. I have to ask for the fat to be trimmed a bit before carving. Corned beef is already pretty juicy with fat juices, so extra fat is unnecessary for me. side dishes are ok. not to crazy about the macaroni salad.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Juno - The Movie

Just came back from watching Juno. Same guy directed Thank you for not smoking movie which i did enjoy. I had seen previews of Juno and it didn't look like a movie I really wanted to see until I heard a rave review from Sam the entertainment guy on ktla news and then read a good review in the WSJ. no matter how good the story is, who really wants to see a pregnant teen movie?

I probably wouldn't watch this movie again but I did enjoy it. A friend I saw it with did not enjoy it. it was a heartwarming movie.

Judge Judy

I enjoy watching Judge Judy every now and then. I recently did a google search for her and found out the following:

Each person gets paid $100/day to appear their case. If the defendant loses, the production pays up to $5000 to the plaintiff, rather than paying the judgement themselves. Both air and hotel are also paid for the plaintiff/defendant to appear.
Judge Wapner from the old People's Court has critized Judge Judy's style and thinks she is rude. Surprising.
No tickets are given to anyone who wants to watch her show unfortunately. All people in the background are extras.

Also, she makes $30 million annually.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Transit plan aims to ease traffic on Pico and Olympic (La Brea to Centinenla)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a plan to significantly expedite the flow of traffic for commuters in a citywide effort to improve the heavy traffic situation in Los Angeles.

The plan is to lengthen green lights in favor of drivers heading East on Pico Boulevard and West on Olympic Boulevard and eliminate delays caused by cross traffic and parking.

Phase 1 of the plan proposes to ensure consistent rush hour parking restrictions along bothOlympic and Pico
Phase 2 would create preferential flow signal timing, allowing quicker travel times for motorists heading west on Olympic and east on Pico.The two corridors would remain two-way streets under the initiative but act more like one-way streets, the Villaraigosa spokesman said.
After evaluating the results of the initial steps, the city plans tore-stripe Olympic and Pico in
Phase 3 of the project, adding more westbound lanes on Olympic and more eastbound lanes on Pico, the Villaraigosa spokesman said.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nespresso Aeroccino Automatic Milk Frother

The Nespresso Aeroccino Automatic Milk Frother is great. It makes a pretty thick, warm foam in just 50 seconds. Just add milk to the line and press the on button. I add this additional foam to make my cappuccino creamier. It so easy to clean also. I purchased it at Sur La Table with a credit I already had for $89. So far, so good. Also sold at Williams-Sonoma and Macy's for the same price.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

CBS Early Morning Question - How much does the President get paid?

President Bush make $400,000 a year- Presidents get paid well because framers of our constitution were very concerned about bribery. They didn't want a president who was on the chief who could be easily bought off.
$400,000 is the presidents base salary. President also gets:
$50,000 expense account for job related expenses
$100,000 travel account
$19,000 entertainment account
Tax payers cover the cost of Air Force One and Presidential Helicopter.
President pays for his own dry cleaning and has to pay for his own clothes. Any meals connected to his official duties are covered by tax payers but not meals in the family quarters.

President Bush will get a yearly pension of $180,000 when he leaves office.

No federal employee can make more than the president. Vice president Cheney makes $212,000. Members of congress get paid $170,000.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Star Sighting Recently

Anderson Cooper coming out of the Biltmore Court and Tower. A stretch limo was waiting for him. He looks just as stunning in person as on television.

Hide Sushi Dinner

Excellent dinner at Hide yesterday. Yellowtail belly and mackerel were especially buttery. Albacore was not so good. Check came out to $40. Ordered tempura dinner, beef and sashimi dinner and sushi (2 orders yellowtail belly, mackerel and albacore tuna).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Verizon aanounce it will open up its network in mid-2008

Finally, consumers will be able to buy cellphones /mobile devices sold by companies other than Verizon and use them on Verizon's network. Consumers will be also be able to get special features and applications on their phones not offered by Verizon.

The iPhone runs on a GSM network; Verizon uses CDMA technology. iPhone users will not be able to use the iphone on the verizon phone unless Apple Inc. comes up with a new CDMA phone.

Deal on Virgin America Airlines

I just bought 50% off tickets pp (or buy one get one free) for a flight from lax to jfk from dec 14 to dec 18. used promotion code "diggnation". I paid $379.60 for 2 tickets. Must purchase even number of tickets. what a steal! no expiration date posted, but deal available for future dates between
Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
New York, NY (JFK)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Washington, DC (IAD)
Unfortunately, there are no flights between lax and las.

Promo Code discount is only valid for two guests traveling on the same itinerary. Offer ends at 11:59pm Pacific Time on December 7, 2007. Promo Code is valid for travel in the Main Cabin between November 26, 2007 and March 19, 2008. Blackouts are December 19, 2007 through January 6, 2008, February 14, 15 and 18, 2008.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Factor's Deli on Pico

Factor's deli yesterday night for dinner (on pico, couple of blocks west of robertson). Nice, casual restaurant. Ordered Matzo ball soup ($5.95 for a bowl). Around $13 for most typical sandwiches - I ordered the corned beef. Very tasty. Service wasn't too good yesterday - our server seemed fake friendly enough. I can understand if they run out of bagel chips but no other "bread/crackers" was even offered by our server (and she never passed by for another 10 minutes) after serving our soup, so I had to ask another server who kindly brought us melba crackers and saltines. My sandwich was served but our server quickly left and did not even offer to bring dijon mustard/horseradish and I didn't get a chance to ask for it. Am i the first customer to have mustard/horseradish with my sandwich?
Both sandwich and soup were very good.

AMF Bowling - Mar Vista

had not gone bowling in years since the bowling alley near santa monica and western closed down a couple of years ago (setting location of the big lebowski movie). Went to AMF bowling center on venice blvd in mar vista with friends saturday night. seemed a bit pricey but i don't know what the going rate of bowling is anymore. it amounted to $19 per person for shoe rental and bowling for the rest of the night (we arrived around 11 pm and it closed at 1 am). i don't remember paying more than $10 for shoe rental and bowling way back when. i'm buying my own shoes the next time i go bowling. unfortunately, the store inside the bowling alley was closed but a variety of shoes and prices were displayed in the window as low as $40.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

El Coyote

El Coyote last night. Pretty good, reasonably priced. Hasn't changed much since I last went there a couple of years ago. Mild salsa is served warm and was very tasty. Ordered guacamole ($6) - very good, although it seems a bit creamier (I think it's the addition of sour cream) than typical guacamole, but the sour cream does give it a nice flavor. My main dish was carnitas (shredded pork) served with rice, beans, guacamole, tortillas ($11). Nice casual environment. Parking is $3.50.

LA City Wesite for Service Request

E-requests at for graffiti removal, street repair, light repair, rent stabilization ordinance, etc.

You may also contact the City department directly by calling 3-1-1 or fill out an online service request form regarding:

Abandoned Vehicle ,Animal Services Bulky Item Pick-up, Housing Department Complaint, Illegal Construction ,Illegal Dumping Park/Recreation Center Concerns ,Pothole Repair ,Public Safety Sewer Concerns ,Sidewalk Repair, Speed Humps, Storm Drain Concerns, Street Lights Out/More, Street Resurfacing Street Sweeping Traffic Enforcement Traffic Signal/Signs, Trash Container Pick-up, Tree Trimming Other

Aviation Consumer Protection Division

Aviation Consumer Protection Division website. File airline complaints, etc. See air travel consumer reports.

The functions of the Aviation Consumer Protection Division are as follows:
Receives informal complaints from members of the public regarding aviation consumer issues
Verifies compliance with DOT's aviation consumer protection requirements
Provides guidance to the industry and members of the public on consumer protection matters
Makes available to the public information on pertinent consumer matters

Now I know where to file a complaint.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Beowulf 3d Imax at universal amc

saw beowulf 3d imax at universal on saturday. went there saturday at 3 to watch 4 pm show. both 4 pm and 7 pm show were already sold out. i purchased tix for 10 pm show. $5 for parking. Pay $10 parking and get $5 credit with movie tix purchase. ins and outs are allowed, same day. if all movies are sold out for that day, parking voucher is issued for another day, but no refunds on parking, according to the parking attendant.

beowulf was very entertaining. 3d effects weren't as impressive as i thought it would be. although it could have been the seat i was sitting at at the top right corner. i still remember captain eo (starring michael jackson) at disneyland which was great in 3d.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What do the things on our money mean? CBS Saturday show

Pyramid and eye -
pyramid symbol represent strength and durability
13 steps on pyramid represent 13 colonies
the unfinished pyramid - future growth of the nation
eye "the eye of providence" on pyramid

great seal of united states
latin word e pluribus unum means "out of many, one" - many states, but one country
annuit coeptis "he has favored our undertakings" referring to god
novus ordo seclorum "new order of the ages"

in god we trust phrase - coins/bills
phrase on coins since late 1800, not on bills until 1957
congress made it our national mono - president eisenhower signed it as a law requiring it on all currency

$1 bills last in circulation on average for 2 years while less common bills such as $100 bill last in circulation up to 7 years

ben franklin and alexander hamilton ($10 bill) are non-presidents on money
no one alive can be on any money

Friday, November 16, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Watched no country for old men at the grove last night. I was hesitant to watch this movie but glad i did. i had heard it was scary and the last 2 coen brothers movies i saw, i wasn't too happy with. but this movie was good. it was one of the better movies i had seen in a very long time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dinner at Bombay Cafe

Bombay Cafe. Indian food. Pico/Bundy. Probably hadn't been here in about 3 years. Used to go here quite often. Last I heard, it had a new owner. Although everything seemed the same (ambience, menu items and taste/presentation of food). The menu prices seemed a lot higher now but that is expected. Dinner receipt:

1 samosa appetizer $8
1 tikka massala chicken $16
1 garlic naan $3.50
1 pullao rice $8
1 iced tea $3.00
tax $3.17
Total: $41.57 not including tip

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Westwood area

Since i'm hardly in the area, I decided to go to dee dee reeses in westwood. After parking the car, i walked by a Red Mango yogurt shop which is supposedly what Pinkberry got their idea off of in korea. Red Mango had a similar, modern feel. Same type of menu, regular flavor or green tea. I ordered the small at $2.50. One topping was $1.00, 2nd topping was $0.25, 3rd topping was another $0.25. I had 2 toppings (mango and rasberries) , so my total was $3.75. No additional tax was added, unlike pinkberry. I'm not a conoisseur, but Red Mango tasted similar to Pinkberry b/c I certainly could not notice any distinguishable difference between the 2. The mangos were not ripe and didn't taste good, but that's probably attributed to mangos not in season anymore.

i walked by dee dee reese and there was a long line, so I decided to pass on it. The ice cream sandwiches (ice cream scoop between 2 cookies) are now $1.50.

DMV Renewal

Due Date 1/8/2008
Registration Fee $41
License Fee $63
County/District Fees $10
Total $114

ID 450176

Need smog check this year unfortunately. I went to www. Some places offer coupons. I was able to get one for The Smog Check Center (Sunset/Hobart) for $29.95 plus $10 certificate for a total of $40. Fast service, clean environment. The guy there told me that California is going to require that all smog check places update their equipment by December. The smog check test prices will increase to about $70 and will take 40 minutes rather than the average 15 minutes.

My car passed the smog check at both 15 and 25 mph.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Joel Grover NBC investigation on Taxi Cabs again in Los Angeles

Joel Grover NBC investigation on Taxi Cabs again in Los Angeles, West Hollywood again - updated from May 2007. Taxis still overcharging. 9/10 taxis overcharged in West Hollywood. Taxis tried to overcharge by charging over a flat fee to lax, charging $0.35 cents instead of the actual $0.20 per 1/11 mile/30 seconds waiting and overcharging by counting more miles than the actual miles.

Tips To Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of When Taking Taxis - NBC
1. Plan your trip. Know what distance you are traveling and what the taxi companies/legal rates are. Know roughly what your trip should cost before you take it.
2. If you feel like you're being overcharged, ask the cab driver for a receipt. The receipt should have the driver's name, cab number, as well as pick-up and drop-off locations.
3. Once you have a receipt and you think you are being overcharged, question the driver. If the don't concede, tell them you are going to complain to their company, the city and the police.

Various Local Taxicab Rates

Beverly Hills
$2.20 a mile
$35.00 flat rate to LAX

Los Angeles
$2.65 Flag drop (First 1/7th mile).
$0.35 for each additional 1/7th mile ($2.45 per mile).
$0.35 For each 47.5 seconds waiting time and/or traffic delay ($26.53 per hour).
$42.00 Flat fare for trips between LAX and downtown. Area bounded by Alameda St., Santa Monica Fwy., Harbor Fwy., Cesar E. Chavez, Union Station and Chinatown.
$2.50 Surcharge for all trips originating at LAX. $15.00 Minimum fare for trips originating at LAX (In addition to the $2.50 surcharge

West Hollywood
$2.20 flag drop, the first 1/11 mile; $0.20 each additional 1/11 mile or 30 seconds of waiting. Flat Rate to LAX is $35.00.
TAXICABS AUTHORIZED TO WORK IN BEVERLY HILLS: Beverly Hills Cab; United Independent Taxi and Independent Taxi.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ralph Lauren Goose Down Pillow

Also shopped today online for goose down pillows. My sister had purchased me a Ralph Lauren goose down pillow from Robinsons-May for my birthday during my sophomore year in college. To this day, the pillow is still in good condition and very soft, even after daily use for 13 years, 8 hours a day. I decided to buy another Ralph Lauren pillow based on my experience. Went to RL website and the goose down pillow (standard or king size) were on sale for $55 (original price was $69). I found a RL 15% off total purchase coupon code plus free shipping for total purchases of $195. I collaborated with a friend to purchase more pillows to get free shipping and voila, more savings for me. Averaged at about $51 per pillow.

Update: Very happy with this pillow purchase. I guess I did need a new pillow. My shoulder soreness is a lot less now. Noticed both first and second day of use. I should have got this a long time ago. I may order more.

Laser Toner Cartridge-Samsung ML-1710

Shopping online all day today. I finally had to order new laser toner cartridge for my samsung ml-1710 (a discontined model). So many different websites sell the "compatible" cartridge, which is not oem, at prices so low ($30-40). All the oem samsung cartridges were $80. Took a while to decide because of the price difference. After reading many, many reviews, I decided to buy the oem from office depot. I found a $20 off coupon for purchases of $75, so my total only came out to $65 including tax. Many of the reviews were good and bad, but some had stated that the compatibles leaked toner or didn't print consistently or clearly which skewed my purchase decission.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Friday night, Neil Young at Nokia again. Side seats at 315 degree angle from stage, so couldn't enjoy it as much as Tuesday night. Saw Daryly Hannah, Trent Reznor and Chris Kattan. Had late night breakfast at Pacific Dining Car (6th and Witmer, opened 24 hours a day). Serves breakfast all the time-good blueberry pancakes.($10-15), steak and eggs. Good steaks also, but pricey at $40-50 a la carte. Macaroni and cheese here is to die for. Valet parking is $4.50 until 2 am. I would rather find metered parking on the street next time. The valet parking guy told me he wasn't going to charge and also didnt give me a ticket, but then decided to change his mind when he brought the car to me. Sleazeball.

Had lunch with friends at Aunt Kizzy'z back porch. Soul food. Good. I didn't like the ambience-very dark for lunch. Didn't look to clean either, but it had an "A". Not full restaurant at that time. Ordered plate of food (cafeteria style) and paid. It was cheap ($8.95) for plate which included choice of meat (pork chop, fried chicken, smothered chicken) and rice or stuffing and choice of 2 sides (mashed potato, macaroni and cheese, red beans, collard greens, etc). It was in Marina Del Rey.

Saw Lars and the real girl movie. Very boring, not realistic. Longer than it should have been. I was bored of the movie early on after the first 15 minutes and unfortunately it never picked up. Don't watch it. You will waste your time and money.

Cast Iron Skillet from sur la table ($16.95) already seasoned. Cooked steak on it. Wonderful, crispy.
Asahi for dinner last night since Hide was too crowded. Always consistent at Asahi. Slighty raised prices by $0.25 to $0.50.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aquasana Shower Filter

Just ordered the Aquasana Shower Filter for $67.99 thru Someone had recommended the Jonathan Shower Filter to me over the weekend . After doing some research over the net, many have stated that the Jonathan filter is manufactured by Aquasana and essentially the same but with a higher price tag, so I of course ordered the less expensive. Some claim less frizzy hair and softer skin because the filter removes much of the chlorine and other stuff that cause the dryness, etc. Aquasana guarantees softer skin in a week. I shall see. They have a 30 day money back guarantee.

Update: I have been using the filter since Saturday, a total of 4 days. I must say that the filter is actually working. My skin is not dry or as dry as before and oh so soft. On the other hand, I have not noticed less frizz in my hair. i'm going to keep it now.

UCLA Healthcare

Thought my insurance was covering my accupuncture, massage and trigger point session 100%. Just got a bill for $30 each session copayment since it is considered "specialty". Each treatment was charged $95 separately meaning that total for each treament session was approximately $300. At least I'm saving $270. My goodness, healthcare is so expensive. Oh well, it's definitely worth it. I still have 6 sessions left. I'm going to have to get some kind of massager after I'm finished with the treatments.

Noshi Sushi to go

Last night, Noshi to go. Very fresh surprisingly. Lots of not so fresh orders to go before. 2 orders yellowtail and 1 spicy tuna roll. I can't wait to go back. Total bill including tax $12.56.

Neil Young at Nokia Theatre

Saw Neil Young at Nokia Theatre yesterday. Pegi, his wife, opened for him. Good show. Started at 8:20 pm with Pegi on for a half hour. Neil Young came on around 9:15 pm playing solo for an hour. Intermission of about 20 minutes. Concert didn't end until close to midnight. Long show. Fell asleep towards the end. Tuesday night is not a good night to go to a late night show for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bridge Benefit Concert

Bridge School benefit concert was great. Metallica, Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, Tom Waits, Jerry Lee Lewis). Little disappointed that Eddie Vedder had canceled (my morning jacket was the substitute), but it was still a very good concert. Stopped in SF for 1 day and stayed at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins (thru hotwire for $150 including tax). Was assigned to a 5th floor room (#522). That was an upgrade from the 2nd floor standard rooms. View was not so great but I guess it was because of the discount i got. Still good price for the hotel. Tried new restaurant opened until 1 am called Nopa, recommended to me by a musician/cab driver. It was delicious. Hamburger was $12, albacore with poached egg appetizer was $10. Of course, I always go to Tadich Grill on California Street and L'osteria Del Forno in North Beach. The cab driver also recommended a good pizza place called Little Star Pizza. Slanted Door Vietnamese Restaurant is good too in the Embarcadero Center.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins SF

Stayed here for 1 night 10/28-10/29/07. Booked for $150 thru hotwire. Nice looking outside appearance. Standard rooms, which is what you get with most hotwire bookings, were assigned to only the 1st and 2nd floor out of 19 floors. I was able to get the 5th floor which considered an upgrade. Nice room, but not very good view. Parking was $45 plus tax, valet only. I had read that Masonic Building (1 block away) was $30 per day plus tax. I drove there but there was a jazz concert at that time so parking was completely full. I had no other option but to valet. Parking is not coordinated very well with hotel. Hotel never charged me anything. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eagles and Dixie Chicks Concert Tonight

Friend invited me at the last minute to go see Eagles with Dixie Chicks tonight at the new Nokia Theatre that just opened last week (next to the Staples Center). I've always wanted to see the Eagles and finally, here's my chance. Yay!

Damn, this is the 2nd concert in a row. This weekend is the bridge show and next week Tuesday and Friday is the Neil Young show.

Update: Concert was great yesterday, although I did enjoy the Dixie Chicks more so.

Jesus and Mary Chain

Saw Jesus and Mary Chain at the Wiltern last night. Good show. Ran into old friend from high school. Got last minute tickets for free + $7 service fee from www. I definitely got my money's worth.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Evan Dando opened for them. Saw a bit of Black Rebel Motorcycle. When I first arrived, I had thought they were Jesus and Mary Chain. They sound so alike.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friday Night

Hide on Sawtelle for dinner. Sushi was quite good today. Ordered yellowtail belly, uni and albacore. Walked to Papa Beard's for light dessert afterward. Then walked to Nijiya market. Noticed Karaoke right next to Nijiya market. Karaoke Happy hour special before 8 pm was only $5/hour per person. Lots of fun, although my throat hurt afterwards. Front desk woman was not so friendly. She walked us to a room without any direction on how to do. Had to call her back for instructions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Deborah Kerr Died Today - Sad News

Deborah Kerr died today at the age of 86 in London, England. She had parkinson's disease.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Corn bread pudding - LA Times Recipe Today

Corn bread pudding recipe - looks easy enough
Servings: 6 to 8
Note: Use any high-quality country white bread such as pain rustique; you will need a loaf that weighs about a pound.
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, plus additional for buttering the pan
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels removed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 eggs
8 cups stale country white bread, crust on, cut or torn into about half-inch pieces
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, rosemary, thyme, sage and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, whisking occasionally until melted and the solids turn golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the corn and salt and stir over low heat for about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cooled milk and then stir in the bread, cheese and the corn mixture until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down on the bread to make sure it is submerged. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes while the bread absorbs the liquid.
4. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.

Pinkberry - LA Times Report 10/16/07

A venture capital firm, Maveron, co-founded by Starbucks' chief, Howard Schultz buys a stake in the chain for $27.5 MM. Expansion is planned.

Pinkberry hopes to grow its retail footprint beyond its 28 stores in Southern California and 5 in New York, with funding and expertise from Seattle-based venture-capital firm Maveron.

I must say I didn't like Pinkberry when I first tried it, but now like it and have it occasionally. I am not an addict. It's a little pricey. 1 medium with 2 toppings was $5.36 including tax.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My new tivo machine (dual recorder, 80 hours)

My new tivo with dual tuner is great. It can record 2 analog shows at the same time or 1 analog & 1 digital at the same time. I have analog. You can also be recording a show and watch live tv at the same time. I purchased this 2nd tivo because of the dual tuner and also so i can connect my original tivo to the new one. I wanted to be able to watch my recordings from my 1st tivo on my 2nd tivo. It is possible to network. All you need is a network card ($59.99 at circuit city) for each tivo machine. I set it up fine. However, I was a little disappointed. It didn't do what I thought it was going to do. The 1st tivo machine shows up on your "now playing list". When you select the 1st tivo on your 2nd tivo, it shows all your listings on the 1st tivo. You can't watch it right away; you actually have to transfer the show from the 1st tivo to the 2nd tivo which takes a while (more like real time). You can also transfer many at the same time (the shows sits in a queque). I was going to cancel my original subscription and just use the tivo network to watch on the 2nd tv, rather than having 2 tivo subscriptions, but I like the dual tuner so much that I'm probably going to keep it now and subscribe to both.

I paid $179 + 20 tax for 1 year pre-subscription, but got the tivo for free.

Devendra Banhart and the Spirtual Bonerz

Saw Devendra Banhart at the Orpheum (842 s. broadway at 9th) on Saturday night. Rock-Folk music. 2 hour show. They were great.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Star Sighting at Rocket Video

Saw Rebecca De Mornay today with daughter and unfamiliar man at Rocket Video 1 hour ago. They drove off in a black Lexus SUV (Rx) . Rocket Video employee confirmed it was her. RV Employee also said James Spader was there last week.

Rocket Video on La Brea (1/2 block north of melrose).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Popular lipsticks test positive for lead - CNN Money

61 percent of the brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, which can be toxic if ingested. One-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded the Food and Drug Administration's limit for lead in candy. FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick.
The top brands testing positive for lead:

L'Oréal Colour Riche "True Red,"
L'Oréal Colour Riche "Classic Wine,"
Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red"
Dior Addict "Positive Red"

Accupressure/vacuum jar

Purchased Glass Cupping Jar/vacuum for $3.00 from Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine yesteray in Santa Monica which my UCLA doctor recommended. Never had heard of the school but they teach traditional oriental medicine, so I went to purchase it from the small college library on the 2nd floor. This school also offers treatments for $30 each visit which I have yet to try. They also have a pharmacy that also sell pills/herbs.

1807-B Wilshire Blvd in SM (On Wilshire between 18th and 19th school).

Monday through Saturday 8 am-6pm
Monday and Wednesday from 6pm to 9pm

310.453.8383 to make appt

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hotwire Hotel Booking Experience

Hotwire booking today for one night in San Francisco from 10/28 to 10/29. Hotwire only lists price, amenities and star rating. You book and then hotwire sends you the hotel information. You can try to guess the hotel based on the amenities and location hints. I checked the hotel listings on before I booked. Several hotels were listed.

Looked only for 4 star or above (below were the choices):

Union Square West $100 + 22.05 Tax = $122.05 Total (Clift Hotel or Parc 55?)
Union Square East $115+21.97 Tax= $136.97 Total (Westin St. Francis?)
Embarcadero $203+$35.41= $238.41 Total (Hyatt or Omni)
Nob Hill $125+24.4 Tax = $149 Total

I was 99.9% sure that the Nob Hill Hotel was the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel and I was right. I stayed at the Fairmont SF Nob Hill Hotel last year which had spectacular views of the city. The hills are steep from Union Square to Nob Hill, but it was easy taking a taxi cab or cable car.

I chose to use Hotwire rather than Priceline name your own price because priceline's hotel listings were so broad and it was hard to narrow the selection down and figure out what hotel it was. Since there were only a select few Nob Hill Hotels which Hotwire listed separately. Priceline lumped Nob Hill hotels with Union Square West.

You're most likely to get a better price for the same hotel thru priceline. Last year, I booked a USE hotel thru priceline and got the Omni Hotel San Francisco. It was about 7-10 blocks away from Union Square which I wasn't too happy about. List of hotels for previous priceline hotel winners are listed on both and List of hotels for previous hotwire bookings are listed on

Article from WSJ today - Analog TV to be phased out

Anyone using analog tv (rabbit ears/analog cable) will be forced to switch to digital tv beginning 2/17/09. Each U.S. household will be eligible for two subsidized digital converter boxes beginning 1/1/09 (which is the size of a vhs videotape; it connects the tv set and an existing antenna to help analog sets decode digital signals) . Before a $40 coupon, each government-approved gadget is expected to retail for $50 to $70.

Apple Airport Express

I had to convert my WPA security to WEP for my tivo to be networked. It was not easy. I have a netgear network adaptor card 54 mbsp, 802.11g and an apple airport express. Went into the airport admin utility for windows and changed the password to "apple" (40 bit) for wep security, which had to be 5 characters. since my network adaptor could not recognize the passphrase "$apple", i had to re-scan and enter the key manually 6170706C65, the actual hex value of the word apple. So complicated. I don't know the hex value language, I just got it off an internet search. Finally worked. Go figure.

I now get 100% signal using WEP. Previously, it was only 75% with WPA.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Audio Terminology

Encoding (convert to MP3)
Decoding (convert MP3 to WAV)
Ripping (convert CD audio to MP3 or WAV)
Burning (convert MP3 or WAV to CD)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Los Abandoned

I've seen a couple of Los Abandoned shows. They decided to part ways and yesterday's show was their last show together, which wasn't their best show. It was at the Tarfest at the La Brea Tarpits. Don't know why they broke up. They were great. Letter from their website below:

Friday, October 5th, 2007:
After 7 years of making music as Los Abandoned, we have made the collective decision to go our separate ways.
We would like to thank our families, friends and fans as well as everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this band a success. Thank you for the memories, for believing in us, and for helping to make our dreams come true.
It really has been a dream-come-true.
We will be playing our last show at the La Brea Tarpits on Sunday, October 7th at 4:30pm as part of Tarfest. It's a free show. We hope you can make it.
Love Always,Los Abandoned

A Taste of China - Friendly Planet Tour

I wasn't sure which one was better, Friendly Planet or Smartours. A friend had took a honeymoon trip to Australia last year thru Smartours. She enjoyed it so much with the tour that she booked another vacation with Smartours to some parts of Asia. She said the hotels were pretty good. The prices definitely seem reasonable and it's so convenient b/c everything is planned for you, including airfare on some tours. I know how much a headache it is to plan a vacation since I've planned many on my own. The prices for Friendly Planet & Smartours (give or take $100) were about the same for the tour I was interested in to China (10 day trip to Beijing (5 nights), Xian (3 nights) and Shanghai (2 nights). I was interested in March 19-28 tour which was priced at $1399 ($300 discount if booked by Nov 2), including airfare from Los Angeles/all transporation, hotel and 12 meals. Additional fees:

Taxes and Fees: $120
China Visa: $130
Optional Travel Insurance: $129
Airfare schedule on Air China

LAX to Beijing: 12:40 am to 5:40 am (next day) 12.40 hours
Shanghai to Beijing: 4:55 pm to 7:30 pm 2.35 hours
Beijing to LAX: 9 pm to 5 pm (same day) 12 hours.

Total: $1779. Still sounds cheap.

Radiohead's New Album "In Rainbows" - Available Wednesday, 10/10

Radiohead's New Album "In Rainbows" - Available Wednesday, 10/10

Album will be only sold thru Available for free download or you can pay whatever price you want. You'll understand the term "it's up to you" once you're in the website. check it out! I just got my confirmation. I didn't pay anything.

Update today, 10/9 - Just got the email below regarding the new radiohead album to be released tomorrow:

Update today, 10/10 - Received the email with activation code link this morning. Had problems this morning - the website link stated that my "activation code" had already been used. Emailed them and they sent me another link that worked fine. Download to winzip file took 2 minutes. Haven't yet been able to listen to album yet.

Update today, 10/15 - Listened to the new album several times. I only liked song #9. I recently read that not many (2400 people) paid anything for the new album on the first day sales. Most people paid between $10-$20 which I thought was surprising. I guess you have to support the band.

Update from tmz on 11/6 - More than six out of 10 people who downloaded the new Radiohead album, "In Rainbows," did so for free. The average price paid from people who decided to pay was about $6. Nearly 1.2 million people downloaded the album - a total of $2.736 mil.

Dinner at Woo Lae Oak

Had dinner with 3 others at Woo Lae Oak last night. Very tasty. Ordered the following.

1 beer - $9
1 bottle of pelligrino - $8
1 iced tea - $2.50
1 order of fried wontons (7 small wontons) - $12
2 orders kalbi - $28 = $56
1 order bulgogi - $24
1 order vegetables to be grilled - $18
1 order Yook Kae Jang (spicy soup with glass noodles and shredded beef) - $12
1 order of lettuce and bean paste (to wrap around grilled meat) - $3.00
Free side orders include (unlimited amounts) small salad, seasoned broccoli and beansprouts and kimchi

Total charge for 4 people yesterday was $144.5 plus tax = $156.42

Wontons were not worth $12. They were good, but not great plus only 7 small wontons? If it were just up to me, i would have just ordered kalbi. Black cod (Un Dae Gu Jo Rim) $28 is delicious, but I stopped ordering that since they raised the prices drastically.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why female bars on bikes differ from

Drop style (slanted bar) was designed for women so they could get off the bike delicately and easier with their dresses in the 1800's. It became tradition. Jockey straps originally were invented to protect males on the bike.

The Heartbreak Kid Movie

I knew the Farelly Brothers version with Ben Stiller was going to come out on 10/5, so I decided to rent original Heartbreak Kid movie starring Charles Grodin. I had never heard of the movie before. I had seen the previews for the newer verson and it looked really bad. After seeing the original which I truly enjoyed,I came to the conclusion that were some parts that probably could have been funnier. maybe the newer version is funnier? The original had one of those 70's type endings which you'll understand once you watch it. I'm planning on watching the newer version now.

I'm not a big Farelly brothers fan.

Marion Jones - steroid use / now retiring

I've always liked her, but I'm not surprised by this news. She was very fast and looked like she took steroids. She's retiring now, she probably would have retired soon anyway. She's gettting older and probably wouldn't have performed as well either.

I'm not surprised by Floyd Landis' news either. He failed time after time and was still claiming he was innocent. Whatever.

Joan's on Third - Expanded

Just went to Joan's on Third yesterday. Haven't been there since last month. It's now twice the size. Joan's used to be open from 10 am to 8 pm M-Sat, 10 am to 6 pm Sun, but is now open begining at 8 am everyday and now serving breakfast from 8 am to 11 am. I have yet to try the breakfast. There is a bit more room to maneuver around now also, which is nice. It's a nice place to take out food.


Ordered another Tivo box yesterday (80 hour dual tuner), but had to subscribe for at least a year. I don't have cable or satellite, so I subscribe thru Tivo directly. I had an 80 hour Tivo last year since 8/1/06 for $83.40. It came with a free 80 hour (not dual) Tivo plus 1 year of service. Tax was an additional $18.15. My 1 year expired last year, so now I am paying $10.95 a month. Once I get my new Tivo, I'm going to cancel my old montly subcription. I'm going to try and network my 2 tivo's together, so I can watch my recorded shows on my second tv, without having to pay a monthly fee for the second tivo. I hear it can be done, but have yet to try. I hope it works.

Tivo had a promotion yesterday. The Tivo dual tuner tivo box was free but I had to subscribe for a year. This tivo box can record 2 analog shows at once or one analog and one digital. I believe I only have analog, so I should have no problem. I decided on a 1 year prepaid subscription of $179, rather than paying $16.95 per month for a year. Tax was $20.62. Total charged was $199.62.

My next purchase will be a slingbox. I saw the slingbox tuner/slingbox av on for $109. This would be great for someone on the go or frequent traveller since you can watch your recorded tv shows on your computer anywhere as long as you have an internet connected computer. This would be great for me if I watched my recordings at work. Just an idea. I don't travel enough to justify this purchase just yet. I have a laptop, but it is not lightweight so I never carry it around.

Fred Segal Melrose

Everything as of yesterday was 75% (exactly 1 week from Friday since sale started) off at Ron Herman, but 5 items minimum have to be purchased. Spent $218.67 Total.

Theory Black Pencil skirt - $188 original
Blue Tshirt- $80 original
Hype Flowered Black dress - $182 original
Earnest Sewn Jeans - $ 198 original
Seven for all mankind Jeans wideleg jean- $ 160 original

Subtotal $808 original less $606 (75% off) + Sales tax $16.67 = $218.67

I had to go back on Saturday - the girl had forgot to put one of my items in the bag. I got the item and took it home and noticed the alarm was still on. Now I have to go back again.

Last couple of days (1.5 to 2 weeks after sale started) of the sale (Ron Herman Store Melrose), everything is super cheap:

Must buy 5 items/ Most Jeans $19.99
Original Price $49-99.99 is reduced to $9.99
Original Price $100-149.99 is reduced to $19.99
Original Price $150-199.99 is reduced to $29.99
Original Price $200-$249.99 is reduced to $39.99
Original Price $250-299.99 is reduced to $49.99
Anything over is reduced 85% off original price

The Big Idea - Donnie Deutsch

Thursday, 10/4
Magnolia/Buttercup Bakery Founder - Previous background was school psychologist, but had always baked in spare time.

Friday, 10/5
Rock and Republic Jeans creator wanted to make a better designed jean for his girlfriend (didn't like seven brand jean). Had marketing and merchandising company but no jean background.

Amy's Organic - Husband and wife team created frozen organic products 19 years ago. $240 MM annually - flew by private jet to nyc from west coast. Had no cooking experience, only wanted organic, natural food for daughter, Amy, now at Stanford.

Kidville - will begin franchising nationwide - wanted clean, up-to-date environement for children. Wife still has PR firm and runs the business with husband. Kidville offers education, playground, cafe, salon, etc.

Taryn Rose shoes - She was orthopedic surgeon. Couldn't recommend comfortable shoes for patients. Wanted stylish and comfortable shoes and none were at the market. Started business with $200,000 SBA loan. Did market research at Neiman Marcus. Contacted sales person at Barneys which referred her to Italian Tannery and Italian Factory. To sell shoes, she then contacted Nordstroms buyer.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Update Fred Segal Sale Santa Monica

Fred Segal sale started last Friday, 9/28 (all items marked 50% off). Yesterday, I stopped by a Fred Segal store in Santa Monica and one of the stores (next to the cafe) in the larger fred segal building (i don't know the name) had further markdowns. All pants/jeans $60 and all dresses were $60. I couldn't find anything after trying on a ton of stuff, but these markdowns are more than 50%. All pants/jeans I tried on were originally priced from $150-250.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Easy Thousand Island Dressing

Easy Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup catsup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon sugar
1 hardboiled egg, mashed with a fork


I just purchased a $15 Oster waffle maker (on sale discounted from $20) from Target that I have yet to try. Some recipes I will try soon:

Buttermilk Waffles from Martha Stewart website:
1 stick melted unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat waffle iron. Whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour into dry mixed ingredients, and combine. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter. Follow waffle iron instructions.

Belgian Waffles from Foodtv website (Emeril's recipe):
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups milk non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the waffle iron. In 1 medium bowl sift and mix dry ingredients. Mix egg yolks and sugar in another bowl. Add the vanilla extract, melted butter, and milk to the eggs and whisk to combine. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture. Do not over mix. In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not over mix! Coat the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray prior to pouring in batter. Close and cookuntil golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

LADWP Approves Rate Hikes - Increased rate to begin July 2009

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power board approved rate hikes yesterday for residential and commercial customers that would increase electricity costs about nine-percent and water charges about six-percent by July 2009. According to the "Los Angeles Times," the bi-monthly cost for average residential customers would rise by more than 14-dollars, while monthly bills for medium-sized businesses would increase about a thousand-dollars. The rate hikes approved still must be considered by the City Council's Energy and Environment Committee on October 27th and the City Council on October 31st.

Taylor's Prime Steak - 8th and Ardmore in Koreatown

Had dinner at Taylor's Yesterday. Very Tasty Steak. Meatloaf was not good. Total for 3 people was $104.73.

2 Taylor's Garden Salad $5.90
1 Bean with Smoked Bacon side dish $2.50
1 Kansas Sirloin $20.95 (comes with side of rice, baked potato or mashed potato)
1 New York Steak $22.95 (comes with side of rice, baked potato or mashed potato)
1 Meatloaf $15.95 (didn't taste very good, overwhelming flavor of dried spices)
1 Side of Mushrooms $3.50
1 Creme Brulee $5.75
1 Apple Pie ala mode $6.75
2 7 up's (no free refills) $5.00
1 Iced Tea $2.50
2 coffee's $5.00

Total $104.73

Taylor's Prime Steak on 8th and Ardmore in Koreatown. Has $3 Valet Parking.
213-382-8449 Reservations not necessary, but probably recommended.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Halloween Horror Nights - Universal Studios Hollywood

Prices normally $51, but with Coke Discount:

Oct 5 Fri,6 Sat, 28 Sun, 31 Wed - $29
Oct 12 Fri, 13 Sat, 19 Fri, 26 Sat - $41
Oct 20 Sat, 27 Sat - $46
Coke upc 496580

hmmm, i might go now.

Oct 5, 28 7pm - 12 am
Oct 6, 12, 31 7 pm - 1 am
Oct 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 - 7pm - 2am

Update: I actually went yesterday, 10/6. It was fun. Lots of teenage kids. I felt old. Parking was a drag and we had to take a shuttle to and from. I should have just said that I was going to watch a movie. I love roller coasters. Mummy ride was a bit scary for me since I did not know what to expect-it was so fast and it goes forward and then backwards at a high speed in the dark- it seemed as if the ride ended in 1 minute-too short to compensate for the 30 minute wait in line. Magic show was a bit of a disappointment. Tram ride was fun. You get off and walk thru the set of psycho and war of the worlds (live actors in costumes try to scare you while you're walking thru). T2 3-d show was ok, but they make you watch a boring 10 minute film before you sit down and watch the actual t2 show. Chainsaw massacre sound was a bit annoying after a while. Haunted house maze was good. There are other attractions that we didn't do. We got there around 7:30 pm and left around 11 pm. We did not have to wait more than 30 minutes. The longest wait was for the mummy ride. It's something to do and was worth the $29 i paid.

Downtown Concierge in Gas Company Building-No longer there

Prices updated on 9/21/07 - Only cash accepted. Call concierge Monica at 213-613-4587
(next to starbucks inside gas company tower building on 5th and Grand)

amc - silver (restricted) $6.50 / gold (unrestricted) $8.00
krikorian $6.50 (unrestricted)
landmark theatres (nuart, nuwilshire, regent, rialto) $7.00 (unrestricted)
mann theatres $7.00 (unrestricted)
pacific theatres $6.00 (restricted) - no expiration date, not valid after 6pm or within 14 days of new movie release
regal cinemas (edwards and united artists) $6.50 (restricted) / $8.00 (unrestricted)

sample adult prices
aquarium of the pacific $15
disneyland or ca adventure $60
disney 1 day park hopper $67 (for both disneyland and ca adventure)
knotts berry farm $25
legoland $42
sea world 2-fer $46 (2 separate visits before expiration date)
six flags magic mountain $28
universal studios $47
knotts scary farm $28-34

Update as of 1/4/08: Concierge at Gas Company is back after closing for a couple of months. they have another location on 3rd and Grand in the Wells Fargo building next to Russells and Robeks Juice. I've actually been buying my Pacific Grove tickets at (they still sell the old version- no $2 surcharge and $6. I found a code online doing a google search. The newer pacific tickets are $6.50 now and are valid at the grove location but have a $2 surcharge.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fred Segal Sale-Everything 50% off

I stopped by the Fred Segal (FS) on Melrose on Friday afternoon and then Fred Segal in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon. Some overlap, but different stores and selection of stuff at each Fred Segal since Fred Segal consists of many different boutique-like stores. Some of the prices are way overpriced like t-shirts at $100, with a sale price of $50. I would never spend more than $20 on a good quality t-shirt. I just purchase a whole bunch of long-sleeve crew neck and scoop neck t-shirts (mossimo) at Target for $7.99. It's not the softest t-shirt or the best quality, but I'm willing to compromise for the price. Pants/slacks were $150-300 original price. Shirts were $100-300. To be honest, it was rare to find anything less than $150 original price. You could tell that some clothes were made of cheap material and cheaply made, but it was still $200-300? Perhaps you're paying for the design? I'm such a hypocrite. I just paid $96.34 for a pair of jeans.

Fred segal boutique stores-jewelry, mens store, sunglasses, beauty, childrens, jeans, shoes, bags. Santa Monica FS has more boutiques at 2 separate buildings across the street from each other. I think the main boutique on Melrose had a better selection of clothing than any of the stores in Santa Monica, but as I only bought a pair of jeans. Clothing was scrunched together so tight in such a small space, it was hard to look at them and maneuver around with others shopping right next to you, plus blasting music. oh well, i'll probably re-visit next week when the prices are discounted even more. Usually, the discount at the end of the sale is almost 90% off, but you have to buy 5 items. At these prices with a discount plus 5 items, you still end up spending a couple hundred. oh well, it's only once a year.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Killer Brain Eating Amoeba - MNSBC article

A rare killer amoeba (naeglaria) living in lakes enters the victims' body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die. More prevalent as water temp goes up.

People become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve. People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they’ll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes. Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Fatal within 2 weeks.

The easiest way to prevent infection is to use nose clips when swimming or diving in fresh water.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

IRS Warns Taxpayers of New E-mail Scams

Below is the sneaky scam email I got today. The link takes you to a website that looks exactly like the official IRS website. This page this link takes you too asks for your SS# as well as Debit card information where the refund will be made to. Too bad the website address was, not So I figured it out. I wasn't expecting a refund anyway, but be careful.

Scammers are smart. The email address even said it was from the address

IRS WEBSITE states that Recipients of questionable e-mails claiming to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the e-mails. Instead, they should forward the e-mails to You can also forward suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at: .,,id=170894,00.html

Phishing, as it is called, is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

----- Original Message -----
From: Internal Revenue Service (
Cc: recipient list not shown:
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 5:19 AM
Subject: You are eligible for a refund - Internal Revenue Service ( IRS )

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $211.Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it.
You can apply for your refund online here (takes you to a link to website that looks exactly like page).
A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline. Please be carefull when entering your data.
Regards, Internal Revenue Service

© Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A..

Dancing with the Stars

Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). I have to admit I've been watching this show on and off for the past couple of seasons. Occasionally entertaining. This show has so much air time. Is it really necessary to have an hour long show on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? I guess the ratings are pretty high. My tivo is so outdated and can only record one show at a time. I did not know that this show would be on (3rd day) the same time as the new show Back to You (2nd episode) which I missedm because tivo was recording the 1 hour elimation show of DWTS. Damn. I knew that Apollo Ohno was going to win last season on DWTS. You could tell Ian Ziering wanted to win desperately. I wish he had won. That's how bad I felt for him. It is a show for all ages. Unfortunately, they have a lot of wasteful time-fillers which drag the show. I like it much better than some other reality shows like American Idol which I saw last season. I still think Melinda should have one. Jordan was ok, Blake was awful in my opinion, so was his "style". Who did he appeal to?

Entry Level Sound System

Entry Level Home theatre combo to be set up this weekend:

Denon DRA-295 A/V Receiver
Bowers and Wilkins DM 303 Speakers
Denon Dp-29F record player

I'm a newbie.

Tropical Island Vacation

Just came back from a 4 day vacation on a tropical island. Water was warm. Sun was strong. Very relaxing. Snorkeled and saw a variety of fish, unfortunately I did not see the sea turtle like some others. Half-boogie boarded. Stayed at beautiful house. Merriman's for lunch only $10-20 open M-F from 11:30 to 1:30. Pretty good. Terrible dinner food at Huggos on the Rocks. Over priced restaurant, location great - right on the shore. I ate mostly cooked food I purchased from Costco on first day of my arrival.

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles Again

Take out from Roscoe's again. Had the 5 drumsticks plus a waffle. Drumsticks were not good yesterday- were refried or were cooked in very old oil. So disappointing. Oh well. I'll still eat here again.

Annual Fred Segal Sale

Fred Segal sale starts tomorrow. Finally! Usually lasts 2 weeks with more price cutting towards the end of the sale.

Crescent Heights and Melrose.
10 am to 7 pm M-Sat
12 pm to 6 pm Sun

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2008 Tax Brackets

Among next year's changes: The basic standard deduction, typically claimed by about two-thirds of all taxpayers, will increase to $10,900, up $200 from this year, for married couples filing jointly. For most singles, it will rise to $5,450, up from $5,350. The personal exemption amount will rise by $100 to $3,500.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NBC to offer free episode downloads

The new service, dubbed "NBC Direct," will allow users to download episodes to computers running Microsoft Windows software. The file will contain advertising that cannot be skipped. The episode will not be available 7 days after the show has aired. The new service will launch in a test version in October and be expanded in coming months.

NBC Universal said it would no longer sell TV episodes on iTunes because it wants the ability to sell its shows at a variety of prices instead of the $1.99 standard enforced by Apple.

I guess this would be good if you don't have a dvr.

Los Angeles Weather

Winter storm heading our way? Geez, I've been waiting since yesterday afternoon for this so-called storm. Today's been a very nice day aroun 70 degrees and althought the weather reports indicate a winter storm is heading our way, it sure doesn't look it right now.

Supposedly, the weather/news channels are 90% correct in predicting the weather, but people only remember when they are incorrect. I guess this is one of those days.

US Dollar Continues to Weaken

The dollar took another fall on currency markets today, reaching one-to-one parity against the Canadian dollar for the first time in 30 years (since 11/1976) and falling to a new low against the Euro. The Canadian dollar is known as the "loonie" because of the bird pictured on the one-dollar coin.

The half-point cut in U.S. interest rates earlier this week had the effect of further weakening the dollar versus other currencies by reducing the cash yield on dollars. A lower dollar can make travel more costly for U.S. residents and can also pose the risk of making imported goods more expensive over time.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fashion for Less - Designers collaborate with Mass Retailers

Experts say the key to successful designer-retailer collaboration is offering an interpretation of the designer clothes at the mass retail level.

Sept 16 - Alice Temperley’s collection at Target, in stores for sixty days, featuring knit tops, jackets, dresses, pants and more from $14.99 to $139.99.

Sept 9 - Simply Vera Vera Wang exclusive collection at Kohl’s. The line, with $34 silk-blend t-shirts and a $138 double-breasted brocade car coat.

Nov 8 - Roberto Cavalli’s one-off collection for women and men will launch in 200 H&M stores. A company spokeswoman described it as “glamorous,” offering “fall/winter party trends featuring sharp retro couture and androgynous decadence.”

mid- November - Erin Fetherston will present a limited-edition holiday collection for Target featuring youthful babydoll silhouettes and flouncy dresses. The line will be priced under $100— Fetherston’s $1,500 designer frocks are sold at Barneys New York.

Contacts for County of Los Angeles Public Health

I have reported foodbourne illness the I had contracted at certain restaurants before to the County of Los Angeles Public Health thru this online link

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fed lowers interest rates today

Fed slashes rates to boost economy

The Federal Reserve lowers the target on a key short-term interest rate for the first time in four years to 4.75% from 5.25%. Consumers should soon start feeling the impact of the Fed rate cut in the form of lower borrowing costs and stingier savings rates.

Stocks surged following the announcement, with the Dow gaining nearly 300 points, or 2.1 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both up more than 2 percent.

• Expect lower rates on home-equity lines of credit and some credit cards.
• Expect stingier money-market funds and savings products yields (decrease from 5% to 4.5%).
• Fixed-rate mortgage rates could move higher if inflation worries grow.
• Borrowers with ARM's tied to Libor aren't likely to get immediate relief.

The Fed also cut its discount rate by another half of a point to 5.25 percent.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coconut Cookies - Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Made this cookie recipe this weekend. Easy recipe. Adjusted recipe by adding more cocunut and cooking at lower temp. Moist and delicious.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy.
Add melted butter. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and stir into the batter. Stir in the coconut.
With a soup spoon, drop the batter into the pans, filling each shell almost full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 325 degrees F. Allow to cool.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe - From America's Test Kitchen

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

Do not substitute semisweet chocolate chips for the chopped semisweet chocolate in the frosting—chocolate chips contain less cocoa butter than bar chocolate and will not melt as readily. For best results, don't make the frosting until the cakes are cooled, and use the frosting as soon as it is ready. Do not use regular cooking sprays such as Pam for baking. Instead use baking sprays such as Pam for Baking No-Stick Cooking Spray and Baker's Joy.

Cake-Serves 10 to 12
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate , coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (3/4 ounce)
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
3. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.

16 ounces semisweet chocolate , finely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (cold)

Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4 to 5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of standing mixer and stir to thoroughly combine. Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1 to 2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). Place bowl on standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Classic White Cake Recipe - From America's Test Kitchen

Cake layers can be wrapped and stored for one day; frosting can be covered with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for several hours. Once assembled, the cake should be covered and refrigerated. Under its coat of frosting, it will remain fresh for up to three days.
Do not use regular cooking sprays such as Pam for baking. Instead use baking sprays such as Pam for Baking No-Stick Cooking Spray and Baker's Joy.

Classic White Cake-Serves 12
Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 sticks tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1. Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs.
4. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides. Mix at medium speed 20 seconds longer.
5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
4 cups confectioners' sugar (1 pound)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk
Pinch table salt

Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed until sugar is moistened. Increase speed to medium-high; beat, stopping twice to scrape down bowl, until creamy and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Avoid overbeating.

Raspberry-Almond Filling (Optional)
1/2cup blanched slivered almonds (2 1/2 ounces), toasted and chopped coarse
1/3 cup raspberry jam (seedless)

Before assembling cake, set aside 3/4 cup of the frosting for decoration. Spread small dab of frosting in center of cake plate to anchor cake, and set down one cake layer. Combine 1/2 cup of remaining frosting with almonds in small bowl and spread over first layer. Carefully spread jam on top, then cover with second cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of assembled cake. Pipe reserved frosting around perimeter of cake at the base and the top. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

Shabu Shabu House - Little Tokyo

Shabu Shabu House - Japanese Village Plaza (alameda and 2nd) in Little Tokyo

Went here Saturday night. I usually just come here M-F at 5:30 pm so I don't have to wait. I had to wait 1 1/2 hours just to get seated finally on Saturday. Mall offers free 2 hours parking in the lot with validation but since we were here for 2 1/2 hours, we had to pay the maximum of $5. I'm getting a meter next time. Food is always consistent and I'm always satisfied. Since this place is so popular, you can almost always expect to wait. Also, they tend to rush you out which is always unpleasant, but people are waiting. Oh well.

Large (15 slices of meat) - $14.99
Medium (10 slices of meat) - $12.35

Shabu meals come with rice, clear rice noodles, udon noodles, cabage, mushrooms, carrot, green onion. 2 different sauces to dip

Can specifically request lean/marbled meat.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Sneezing keeps bad stuff out of our breathing passages and gets rid of germs and bacteria. You create a force that propels things out of your nasal passages at 100 mph.

A long time ago, people used to think that sneezing was a sign that you were developing the bubonic plague, so people began saying "god bless you" in the hopes that the person sneezing would not get the disease.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Supreme court ruling favors L.L. Bean in sales tax dispute

5/26/06 - The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ruled that L.L. Bean was correct when it charged sales tax on the full price of merchandise before deducting the value of a discount coupon. In a unanimous ruling, supreme court justices said that the value of the coupons honored by L.L. Bean was part of the sale price, and that L.L. Bean properly charged sales taxes on the value of the coupons.

Tax on Shipping at Jcrew Sucks

5/15/07 - inquired about's policy on charging tax on shipping via email since have never before been charged tax on shipping charges at any other online company that I have placed orders from. Received the following response from a Jcrew customer service representative:

"We charge sales tax on shipping charges whenever we are charging sales tax for the merchandise on the order. This is based on a guideline given to us a few years ago by the FTC stating that shipping and handling is a taxable service."

Since I found out this information, I only order if I find a free shipping online code. Jcrew shipping costs can be high (see below). Also Jcrew shipping is free if you order/call from an actual Jcrew store. US Shipping Costs
Up to $25: $5.95
$25-50: $7.95
$50-75: $9.95
$75-100: $11.95
$100-150: $13.95
$150-200: $14.95
$200-250: $16.95$250 and up: $17.95

They should state the tax on shipping in their policies clearly. I didn't see it the "Shipping and Handling" Jcrew link.

T-Mobile Los Angeles Promotion - Advertised in LA Times

T-mobile has better deals for cellular plans than Verizon. I'm so tempted to switch but haven't yet.
$39.99/month for 1500 Nationwide Anytime Minutes (Individual Plan)

No Free nights/weekend
No mobile to mobile

Great Dinner at Hide Sushi

Had dinner at Hide sushi on Sawtelle. Sushi was absolutely wonderful yesterday (ordered yellowtail belly, uni, mackerel, albacore, unagi). Tempura good here too. The last several times I had been there, sushi was just ok. Staff is friendly. $50 for 2 people.

Cell Phone Use and Driving in California

New Laws Goes into Effect July 1, 2008

Adult drivers will be required to use hands-free equipment if talking on the phone while driving.
$20 for 1st offense
$50 repeat offenters

Californians under age 18 will be prohibited from using cellphones, text message devices and laptop computers while driving. The new law also prohibits under-18 drivers from using hands-free cellphone devices.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

I saw 3:10 to Yuma (2007) version with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale last night at the Grove. I never did see the original but I'm sure the original was probably a lot better. Very Disappointed. Russell Crowe was pretty good. I don't know how much of the story was adapted from the original, but I did not like the ending especially. Some weird casting too. I'm not mentioning any names. I rarely see better version made of an older, classic movie. Some examples: Stepford Wives (newer, modern version) was horrible compared with the original with Katherine Ross. The newer version of Sabrina with Julia Ormand and Harrison Ford was awful. Too bad

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Megan's Law - Find out about sex offenders in your area

This website (this website pertains to california only) provides detailed information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement under California's Megan's Law. Easiest way to get a map/listing of sex offenders in your area is by typing the zip code in the search box.

Currency Conversion

1.00 Euro = 1.39 USD (Dollar weakens to record low against euro today)
1.00 GPB (Great Britain Pound) = 2.03 USD

Interesting facts:
Total of 27 members of European Union.

13/27 European Union countries currently using the euro:
Austria,Belgium,Finland,France,Germany,Greece,Ireland Republic,Italy,Luxembourg,Netherlands,Portugal,Slovenia,Spain

11/27 European Union countries set to use currency at a future date:
Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania

3/27 European Union countries who have voted not to adopt the Euro:
Britain, Denmark, Sweden

European Countries that don't belong to European Union:

Switzerland, Norway, Croatia

6th Anniversary of September 11

It's always difficult to watching replays on tv of september 11. I always think about the only person I knew who parished on 9/11. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald as an assistent bond trader on one of the top floors of the first tower that was hit. He had just graduated from college 3-4 years before. Cantor was his second job after graduating (his first job being with a smaller trading company). He was so young and had a bright future ahead of him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taste of Santa Monica-6th Annual

Sunday, Sept 16 from 12 pm - 4 pm
Just saw an ad for the 6th Annual Taste of Santa Monica (held on the Santa Monica Pier). I probably won't be going here since ticket prices have risen drastically since the 1st annual one that I went to. Ticket prices are $40 per adult this year. When I first came here, I remember paying only $20 with a student id. The regular price for an adult ticket was $25. Unfortunately, student discount is no longer offered. They probably have more restaurants participating (many in Santa Monica) this year (about 40) than previous years. Each restaurant has its own booth and offers a sample of it's food. You can sample as many times as you want at whichever booth you like. I remember the I Cugini restaurant booth was very popular. There was always a huge line for the samples of raw oysters. No other food/booth at that time was memorable to me. $40 / person is pricey. I'm not sure if it's worth it. It really depends on what the restaurants will have as samples. How much can you really eat? I would rather buy myself a very nice brunch elsewhere.

Some restaurants participating this year:

The Lobster
El Cholo
Ocean Avenue Seafood
Duke's of Malibu

Monday, September 10, 2007

W Hotel Bed Deal Quarterly?

Ordered a full size W hotel bed set on 5/16. W hotels is part of the Starwood hotels. A 40% off starwood employee discount off their beds was floating around online (valid from 5/16-5/31/07). Only 2 options available (Plush and Pillowtop). Full size plush top set was $950 in May and would have been $570 with the 40% off. After checking out the bed at a nearby 1-800-mattress store (La Brea/Melrose), I decided to purchase the full size pillowtop which was much softer, but still had enough support. The 1-800-mattress sales representative told me that the W pillowtop bed was the same as the Westin Heavenly bed. Full size pillow top set was $1200 in May and was discounted to $720 with 40% off (delivery included). Tax is only charged when bed is delivered to addresses in New York. Price also included delivery and set-up of bed and removal of old bed. So far I have been happy with this bed.

Because the deal was popular at the time, I didn't receive the bed until 3 weeks after placing the order. I recently saw online another 40% off starwood employee discount floating around (valid from 8/16-8/31/07). Maybe starwood offers the 40% off discount quarterly for their employees?

Cheap Movie Tickets - Pacific Theatre at The Grove

I often purchase discounted "group activity" movie tickets at the concierge in the Gas Company (at the NE corner of 5th and Grand). Anyone can go. Hours vary, but you can always call ahead to find out the hours of Monica Green, the concierge (213-613-4587), to reserve tickets. Open M-F during business hours usually. It's inside the Gas Company Tower across from Starbucks; unfortunately you can't see it from the street. Cash only. I usually buy a bulk amount of tickets every couple of months.

Pacific Theatres (restricted)- only $6.00. You can use these tickets at the PacificGrove Movie Theatre anytime before 6 pm for any movie, I believe. You can also use these tickets on any movie after 6 pm if it has been open for 2 weeks. You cannot use these tickets for new movies after 6 pm. These tickets cannot be used for Pacific Arclight Theatre unfortunately.

Other discounted tickets concierge sells:
AMC - silver $6.00
AMC - gold $7.50 (unrestricted)
Mann - $7.00 (unrestricted)
Regal - $6.50 (restricted)
Regasl - $8.00 (unrestricted)

Concierge also sells discount tickets to universal studios, disneyland, knotts berry farm, legoland, san diego zoo, san diego wild animal park and sea world. Slightly discounted prices/lots of restrictions. i don't think it's worth it to buy these tickets here.

Another concierge in downtown is at the Wells Fargo Center (Janet - 213-253-4205)- 3rd and Grand. She seems to have very sporadic hours.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

America's Test Kitchen - Tasting Lab, Season 6

America's Test Kitchen Best of (season 6) :

Parmigiano Reggiano (avg $14/pound) much better than Parmesan Cheese ($8/pound). If you can't find Parmigiano Reggiano, DiGiorno parmesan cheese was recommended.

Bottled Barbeque Sauce
Texas Best Barbecue Sauce, Original Rib Style, $3 for 19 ounces
Bull’s Eye Original BBQ Sauce, $2 for 18 ounces

Bottled Italian Dressing
Good Seasons Italian All Natural Salad Dressing Mix ($2)- Includes cruet and 2 packets with dried seasonings
Kraft Seven Seas Viva Italian Dressing

Chocolate Chips
Guittard Classic Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate Chips
Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

Inexpensive steak
GOOD CUT FOR PAN-SEARING: Boneless Shell Sirloin Steak (ALTERNATE NAMES: Top butt, butt steak, top sirloin butt, top sirloin steak, center-cut roast)
GOOD CUT FOR PAN-SEARING: Flap Meat Steak (ALTERNATE NAMES: Top sirloin tips, beef sirloin tips, sirloin tip steak, sirloin flap meat for tips)
CUT BETTER FOR GRILLING: Flank Steak (ALTERNATE NAMES: Jiffy steak, London broil)
CUT BETTER FOR GRILLING: Skirt Steak (ALTERNATE NAMES: Philadelphia steak, fajitas meat)

Hunt's Ketchup, apparently tasters liked this brand better than heinz

Hellman's Real Mayonnaise(east cost name) /Best Food's (West Coast name)
Hellman's Light Mayonnaise better than other brands also.

White Sandwich Bread
Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White
Arnold Country Classics White

Supermarket Chicken Broth
Swanson Certified Organic

Droste cocoa

Dark Chocolate
Hershey's Special Dark
Ghirardelli Bittersweet

Canned Tomato Brands - Muir Glen, S&W, and Redpack

Daylight Savings 2007

Beginning in 2007 (Part of Energy Policy Act of 2005), Daylight Saving Time in U.S. is on the:
Second Sunday in March and reverts to standard time on the
First Sunday in November.

Previously, from 1986 thru 2006, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. began on the:
First Sunday of April and ended on the
Last Sunday of October.

States that don't observe Daylight Savings are Hawaii and Arizona.

2007: March 11, November 4
2008: March 9, November 2
2009:March 8, November 1

21st Annual Brige Benefit Concert (Tickets go on sale today)

Benefit Concert for Bridge School (Mountain View,CA - near San Jose, CA)
Ticket Prices: $35-$146 ($35 Lawn, $71 Upper Level, $146 Lower Level)
This year's concert has a great line-up like many of the past years I've attended. I always enjoy going to this concert.

Concert Dates:
Saturday, 10/27 at 5 pm
Sunday, 10/28 at 2 pm

This year's line-up:
Neil Young
Jerry Lee Lewis
Eddie Vedder with Flea & Jack Irons
Tom Waits and Kronos Quartet
John Mayer
Tegan & Sara
Regina Spektor

Favorite Performances from Previous Years
Neil Young
Billy Idol
The Who
Paul McCartney
Pearl Jam
Jerry Lee Lewis
Tony Bennett
Brian Wilson
Trent Reznor
Thom Yorke

About Bridge School - The Bridge School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies.

America's Test Kitchen - Preferred Equipment, Season 6

Electic Deep Fryers
Oster Immersion ($79.99)

Non-Stick Skillets (9-10" skillets)
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Omelet Pan ($30)
Wearever Wearever Hard-Anodized Skillet ($30)
Farberware Millennium Soft Touch Stainless Steel Omelet Pan ($40)
Kitchenaid Gourmet Essentials Nonstick ($40)
Simply Calphalon Stainless Omelet Pan with Nonstick Interior ($50)

Rice Cooker
Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice /Micom - no bottom browning even after 3 hours of warming, cooks rice perfectly

Food Processor
Cuisinart and Kitchenaid food processors

Cake Pans
Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Square Cake Pan ($20)
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Bakeware 8-Inch Square Cake Pan ($16)

Measuring Cups
Pyrex -Glass measuring cups

Hand (Immersion) Blender
KitchenAid's immersion blender ($50)

Americas Test Kitchen - Recipes

Although I have not tried the following recipes yet, I did see the American's test kitchen asian episode (chicken teriyaki and orange chicken) last saturday, 9/2. The recipes looked standard and simple. If you don't want to make your own teriyaki sauce from scratch, the bottled teriyaki sauce that won with the taste testers was Annie Chun's All NaturalTeriyaki Sauce. Second runner up (critized for the strong flavors and abundance of sesame seeds) was Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce.

Chicken Teriyaki Serves 4 to 6
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
table salt and black pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set thighs bottom side up in broiler pan. Broil until skin approximately 5 min each side. let chicken rest 2 to 3 minutes, cut into wide strips.

Teriyaki Glaze - combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic in small saucepan; stir together mirin and cornstarch in small bowl until no lumps remain, then stir mirin mixture into saucepan. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup and forms syrupy glaze, about 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm.

Serve immediately. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over chicken and rice.

Orange Chicken Serves 4

Marinade and Sauce
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed and cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup orange juice , plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest, and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3 medium cloves minced garlic
1 piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch), grated (1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch , plus 2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons water (cold)

Coating and Frying Medium
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups peanut oil

FOR THE MARINADE AND SAUCE: Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in large saucepan (with at least 3-quart capacity); whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup mixture and pour into bag with chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with marinade. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, but no longer.
2. Bring remaining mixture in saucepan to boil over high heat. In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water; whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in orange peel and chiles (sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set sauce aside.
3. FOR THE COATING: Place egg whites in pie plate; using fork, beat until frothy. In second pie plate, whisk cornstarch, cayenne, and baking soda until combined. Drain chicken in colander or large mesh strainer; thoroughly pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of chicken pieces in egg whites and turn to coat; transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place dredged chicken pieces on wire rack set over baking sheet; repeat with remaining chicken.
4. TO FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat oil in 11- to 12-inch Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with at least 3-quart capacity over high heat until oil registers 350 degrees on instant-read or deep-fry thermometer. Carefully place half of chicken in oil one piece at a time; fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large plate lined with paper towels. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.
5. TO SERVE: Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

Deep Fried Fish (from Fish and Chips Recipe)

3 quarts peanut oil (or canola oil), plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
teaspoon paprika
teaspoon ground black pepper
Table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, such as hake or haddock) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold (any beer except dark stouts or ales)

In heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat (medium-high) 3 quarts oil over medium heat to 375 degrees.

1st bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; Separate 3/4 cup of flour mixture to another bowl (2nd bowl). Thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture in 2nd bowl, shaking off excess flour.

Add baking powder to 1st bowl and whisk to combine. Then add 1 1/4 cups beer and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream.

Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to paper towel to drain. Allow oil to return to 375 degrees.