Monthly Archives: January 2010

Food Trucks, L.A.

In L.A. there’s a new craze; food trucks.  You know the kind you see outside of construction sites and car repair shops?  A big, Winnebago-type deal with the side pulled up to reveal a window and a board to advertise all the greasy goods?  Hot dogs, burritos, chili nachos, donuts?  Well L.A. chefs have taken the food truck and transformed it.  Now, all over the city, residents are scrambling to find where their favorite truck is.  Socialites hire them for parties.  20-somethings look for them before and after hitting the scene.  Food trucks – delicious, gourmet, and cheap.

It all began when a certain Korean chef lost his job with the economy crash.  He decided to revamp a food truck and lower his overhead.  He began hitting the streets and before he knew it he had a following.  The Kogi Korean Barbeque Taco Truck was a hit.  Others have since followed in his footsteps.  So many others that there are now multiple websites and twitter accounts devoted to their whereabouts.   One example is where trucks can register and update where they are day by day.

This past Saturday, Sam and I went to a Food Truck benefit for Haiti.  The more we ate, the more money got sent to help the earthquake relief efforts.  By $28 Sam and I were stuffed to the gills.  My favorite was Don Chow’s Taco’s (Chinese-Mexican Fusion).  Their shrimp tacos were to die for.  All together there were probably 12 to 18 trucks covering everything from Italian to Vietnamese to Southern Soul Food to Homemade Ice Cream.  The Grilled Cheese truck and the Buttermilk truck were by far the crowd favorite’s.  Some trucks couldn’t handle the enormous turn-out and by the time we got there at 1pm, they were already sold out.  So on behalf of the LA Times, here’s a little video I took of the day’s festivities…

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Peeing at the Movies

First of all, let me begin by saying (and I can’t believe I’m doing this) that the game last night between New Orleans and Minnesota was nuts.  Nuts.  The last football game I watched in its entirety was back in 1999 and holy gamoly, the match last night was a good one to come back to.  Point to point until Favre threw it away and New Orleans scored in a crappy overtime.  It was unbelievable.

But on to more pressing matters…many of us share a terrible affliction: peeing at the movies.  There we are, 1 hour and 5 minutes into the story when BAM it strikes.  We look to our left, we look to our right.  People in either direction.  We’re going to miss an entire minute just crawling over feet.  So we try to hold it.

Well fret no more, the struggle is over!  No more not drinking all day in preparation for going to the movies or buying a $14 ticket and having to sit in a lousy chair on the end.  Thanks to the new website you can now check in before the movie and find out when to hit the lady/men’s room.

With a hand-dandy list of current releases on the left, I scroll down to Avatar, the longest movie on earth.  At either :56 (56 minutes into the film), 1:07, 1:33 or 1:45 I can miss virtually nothing and yet still relieve my bladder for the next 7 hours of the film.  Better yet, there’s even a brief synopsis of what I’ll be missing.  So when there are 5 in the bed and the little says, “Roll Over.” that’s my cue.  Get up, step on some feet, and go.

Why didn’t anyone ever think of this before?  It’s genius!

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As the rain continues to fall in Los Angeles, I find myself reading an expose on passwords.  Following the recent hacking into Google’s email and RockYou, the company that makes all of the software for Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites, there has been a deeper look by security professionals into password security.  When the hackers that broke into RockYou obtained the passwords to its sites, they went so far as to publish the passwords online.  Other hackers and security researchers quickly downloaded the list; one group to wreak havoc, the other to better understand the mentality of computer users.

123456, abc123, qwerty, and password seem to be popular favorites.  In many cases, researchers determined, hackers don’t even need to work at breaking in.  When so many people use the same passwords, criminals can simply try those first for ease and strike gold right off the bat.  It’s like when people leave their keys in the ignition.  What car thief doesn’t love that?

Jeff Moss of the Homeland Security Advisory Council advises a different password for each account: 1 for the bank, 1 for the credit card, another for email, and so on.  And if your memory can’t handle that, he recommends a 12 letter/number combination.  What hacker is going to spend that much time trying to decode a 12 digit password when he can just move on to the next guy and type in monkey?  (see #14)

With all this rain, today seems like the perfect day to change some passwords.  I’m thinking why stop at 12 digits?  Maybe 14 digits, ancient Latin, and a retina scan.  Unless your name is HxT584Jpu.  Nobody’s going to guess that one.

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Still Raining!

Thursday morning out here and Lala Land is under yet another deluge.  People don’t know what to do; stores are empty, traffic is slow despite fewer cars on the road, and life as we know it has stopped.  There’s rain coming down, a lot of it.  What happened to our sun?

We’re starting to see mud slides, which means all those folks who live in houses perched on the hills are beginning to worry.  Will the rain stop or will more homes slide off the mountains and into the roads like they have numerous times before?  Even highways have had to be closed due to flooding.  Nothing gets planned out here with thoughts toward inclimate weather.  Native Eastcoasters like myself laugh at the Los Angelenos scurrying about like Chicken Littles.  If only they knew.

The dogs and I (especially Kiki with her huge, swollen neck) are staying indoors today.  We’re doing laundry and taking care of business.  I have a feeling we’re not the only ones.

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Like a fat tick stuck with a needle, it’s pouring rain here.  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; the heavens have opened up and there seems to be no stopping them.  I for one don’t mind.  It feels dark and cozy and I know it won’t be long before endless sunny days are on our weather forecast once again.

In the interim, I wile away the time watching Dexter, a show I’ve heard much about, but have never seen.  Thanks to Netflix, I can go all the way back to episode 1, season 1 and see what this mass murderer is all about.  Needless to say, I too have fallen victim to his charms.  Gruesome, twisted, awkward, and yet oh so enticing.  What is it that fascinates us all about redemption and serial killers?  And I am all the more smitten and absorbed knowing that his on-screen sister is his off-screen wife.

Today however, the dogs have other fun times in store for me.  Kiki has some sort of bloody lesion on her throat that she won’t stop opening.  Every time I try to get a look at what’s going on beneath the oozing blood, she wiggles away.  Hence we’re off to the vet.  Perhaps she too has seen one too many episodes of Dexter.

Dexter: good for apocalyptic rainy days.


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Avatar: Hazadarous To Your Health

On Saturday I finally saw Avatar.  I may have been one of the last sentient beings to do so, but I wanted to see it in 3D at an Imax theater and to do that, I had to wait.  First of all two tickets were $33.  $33!  As Sam said when he forked over his credit card, “that’s the most expensive movie ticket I’ve ever bought.”  We sat down, put on our glasses, and got comfortable…we were entering the world of Pandora.

The movie is wicked long, but I only really noticed it when I couldn’t believe I hadn’t had to get up to use the lady’s room.  The plot is simple, but engaging (David -vs- Goliath otherwise known as Pocahontas and her tribe -vs- the white man), and the graphics are out of this world.  Pun intended.  At one point in the movie, a giant 12 foot alien cradles her love interest, a less than 6 foot human man, and I thought it was real.  I had been so sucked in and the visuals were so astonishingly amazing, that I forgot that 12 foot aliens don’t exist and therefore can’t be hired as actors.  It was probably at the 2.5 hour mark that this happened and when I left the theater I had to laugh at myself.

Now let’s talk about the visuals.  This movie is meant to be seen in 3D and there are no two ways about it.  Every blade of grass, every flying pterodactyl, every glow in the dark vine – it’s all from someone’s imagination.  (see Wikipedia about inspirations and themes) And the way they filmed it in 3D is so vivid that you’ll gasp in delight as your imagination rides the roller coaster of hallucination-like, futuristic, eye candy.  However, you must sit back, waaayy back from the screen.  Sam and I like to sit center, center in the movie theater and we left with two of the biggest headaches this side of the milky way.  My friend, Parisa had the same complaint.  It’s just too much for our mere mortal eyes to process.  I see an epileptic fit and a lawsuit before this blockbuster is through.  Shauna, another friend, is going to run an experiment and sit in the very last row of the theater to see it.  She is to report back whether the headache plagues her or if sitting that far from the screen helps.

On a last note, the internet is filled with scathing critics who find Avatar to be racist and patronizing.  To those neigh sayers I roll my eyes.  Does everything have to be so damn meaningful and serious?  Can’t it just be a fun movie?

Avatar: I give it a tail and two cat eyes up, but beware of your health.  Sit in the back, bring a neck pillow for support, and don’t drink anything beforehand.  (but it’s worth it)

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Haiti Brings the World Together

As I watch with tears the endless reports of the devastation in Haiti, one thing brings me hope; China, the United States, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Canada, Jordan, Columbia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Guatemala.  What do all of these countries have in common?  Goodness.  Each of these countries has sent or is in the process of sending relief workers, search and rescue canine teams, medicine, military, and doctors.  This crisis is bringing the world together to help a country already much less fortunate that many.

The problem lies in the difficulty in getting there.  A one-strip airport, a port already damaged by hurricanes, and inland roads hampered by the earthquake.  As the UN put it, it’s a “logistical nightmare.”  To make matters worse, Haiti is a country rife with corruption and poverty.  Who will lead the relief efforts?  Outside sources like China, the United States, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Canada, Jordan, Columbia, Nicaragua, Brazil or Guatemala?  Or the still-left-standing leaders who weren’t doing that well with aiding the country even beforehand?  At this point, more than a billion dollars has been donated to help Haiti.  In the past, aid has been spent well, let’s just say, unwisely.  Hence the recent firing of Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis in November.

Obviously the first concern is to save people, treat those who have been hurt, and provide food, water, and shelter for the masses left homeless by the destruction.  But after that, what will happen is anybody’s guess.

The United States is a powerful and generous ally.  The Red Cross reports today that in text messaging alone, they have been given over 8 million dollars in aid.  You can give $10 to the Red Cross by texting the word “HAITI” to 90999 or give $5 to the United Way by texting “Haiti” to 864833.

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