Monday, July 31, 2006

Day to Day in Downtown LA

Blogging is a habit. Either I end up posting almost every day or several days go by without thinking about posting at all. My motivation for blogging has waned a bit since I misplaced the USB cable for my digital camera. I'm hopeful I'll find it soon, in one of the 10 boxes that remain unpacked. Otherwise, I'll have to bite the bullet and buy another one (I hate it when that happens).

Mr. Octopus and I watched Batman Begins and X-Men 2 over the weekend. I really liked Batman (surprisingly good considering I didn't like any of the other Batmans I've seen), I couldn't stand X-Men (too gimmicky and down right stupid).

The heatwave appears to have passed and now the days are sunny and breezy. Just what you'd expect from Southern California weather.

I can't believe it's almost August. August is typically the "slow month" at my job. Hopefully that will be the case this year. I've had some real procrastination issues at work recently, which has caused me unnecessary stress.

I continue to improve bit by bit on the treadmill. I've labored the last two times I've run, but I think that was because I was running on a full-ish stomach or that I was just plain tired from the workday.

Mixed Thoughts About Europe

I spend too much of my spare time thinking about vacation destinations. In the last year, I've looked into some very ambitious trips to Tanzania, Mongolia, Chile, Japan and New Zealand. But so far they have been just thoughts in my mind or perhaps a few calls to travel agents. In between thinking of these exotic places, I often reconsider the idea of traveling to Europe. But I'm torn. For me, Europe is a place we'll be able to visit when we're 60 or 80 (assuming we live that long, touch wood), so why go there now? Mr. Octopus has never been to France or Italy. Wouldn't it be nice to go? Or should we go somewhere less developed, somewhere less traveled?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Legos have got to be the best toys ever. There's a Legoland down in San Diego that I've been meaning to visit. I hope they have a big area where grown ups can play. Here are Lego re-creations of a Volvo and of Trafalgar Square that seem unreal to me. For more Lego creations (including ones made by kids), check this out.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Running Improvements

The best thing about being a beginning runner is that I see improvement just about every time I run. And today I had a breakthrough. I ran for 30 minutes. Much longer than I'd ever run before. I hardly felt any pain or discomfort and, most importantly and much to my surprise, I was able to think about other things while I was running. This is huge. Typically, I check the time to see how long and how far I've run. This is accompanied by anguish at seeing that it's been only 15 seconds since I last checked. Not this time. Today I was able to let my mind wander, have little conversations in my head, even relax a little.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Traffic, Heat and More

It's been much too hot here. Today it was in the 90s. Yesterday it was over 100. It's been like this for over three weeks. This can't go on. It's too hot to do much thinking or planning. And certainly too hot to make a proper blog entry. So I will ramble.

It usually takes me 20 minutes to get to work (10 minutes on side streets, 10 minutes on the 2 freeway), but one morning last week it took me almost an hour. I couldn't believe it. The 2 was backed up like I'd never seen it before. The next day I avoided the 2 and went local all the way. It was great. Here's a shot of a traffic jam in downtown LA in the 1920s. It's a far cry from what I experienced last week, but I like this picture.

Our house has central heat, but not central air. We've been surviving on overhead and portable fans.

We have a housekeeper now. It seemed like a real indulgence at first, but I'm starting to warm up to the idea. The last thing I want to do on a free weekend is clean, so this could very well be the best thing ever.

My car has passed the 10,000 mile mark. It's time for the first tune up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Run Man Run

I've started running again. Started last week and have steadily improved since then. Yesterday I ran for 12 minutes (over a mile) without stopping. My head hurt and I cramped a little, but I ran through it. It got easier and the discomfort dulled after a few minutes. I belong to the YMCA, which is within walking distance from my office. There are floor-to-ceiling windows in front of the treadmills, so I get to stare outside and almost feel like I'm running outdoors.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I'm always surprised (and sometimes baffled) when I meet someone who likes their job. Not just tolerates their job, but likes it. Likes where they work, the work they do, the people they work with. Most of my friends don't like their jobs-- perhaps it's because many of them are in the same field and it's not much fun.

So I'm putting up this poll. I know that a yes/no answer is too simple in some cases, but if you had to say, which would it be.

Do you like your job?
Free polls from

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chanchow Eats: Korean BBQ

It takes a little longer for us to get to Koreatown now that we are in Eagle Rock, but not so long that we won't go. Over the weekend, we met up with some friends at ChoSun Galbee, near the intersection of Olympic and Western. The decor was pretty upscale and there was valet parking. We got to sit on the patio, beneath the undulating modern metal overhangs. The side dishes were plentiful, the BBQ was delish and the prices not so bad. A good place for a group of meateaters.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Before Angelina there was...

The 100th anniversary of Josephine Baker's birth was earlier this year and I remember reading that she was not only a celebrity, but a civil rights activist and the mother of many adopted children.

Born in Missouri, Baker was part Native American, part African American. She moved to Paris and eventually became a French citizen. See biography here. During her life, she adopted 12 children-- her "rainbow tribe" as she called them. They came from Korea, Colombia, Japan, Finland, Canada, Ivory Coast, Morocco and France, among other places. She raised them in France, but had them learn their native languages.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Big Sur Pics

Here are some pictures from our trip to Big Sur.

Monterey Cypress trees

Beached whale (dead) at Andrew Molera State Park

Pfeiffer State Park

Stopping in the faux Danish town of Solvang on our drive back to LA

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

World Cup Wrap Up

After all my oohing and aahing over Brazil and the World Cup over the last couple weeks, I feel it only appropriate to revisit the topic one more time.

Mr. Octopus and I caught the last few games in between unpacking boxes and and driving to and from Big Sur. Needless to say, I am horrible at picking the results of World Cup matches. This doesn't surprise me in the least, seeing as I don't follow international football and was just guessing frankly. However, being a World Cup onlooker, I can say that (1) I was sold on the whole Brazil 'beautiful game' thing, (2) I really wanted them to do well, (3) when they didn't, I didn't feel bad for them and (4) I'm happy for whoever wins now.

From what I know of Zidane, he seems like a decent and dignified fellow and I would be happy if France won because of him. Of course, this is putting aside any negative feelings I have about France being a colonial power in my birth country (Vietnam). Then again, Zidane is of Algerian descent, so who am I do hold grudges (I don't; I'm just trying to be dramatic sort of). So long story short: Brazil was a disappointment; they deserved to lose; may the better team win on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Big Sur

Mr. Octopus and I spent the holiday weekend in Big Sur celebrating our first wedding anniversary. It was our first time to Big Sur and we were not disappointed. The ragged coastline, fog-covered cliffs, ocean views, clean air. It's the most beautiful part of California I've ever seen. Most of the Big Sur coastline is protected (either by the State of California or the U.S. Forest Service), so it is undeveloped and open to the public. Accommondations are few (commercial development being limited), but range from campgrounds to rustic inns to luxury boutique hotels (there weren't any chain hotels or motels as far as I saw). The closest town is Carmel (of Clint Eastwood fame), which is about an hour to the north. I picked up a copy of the Carmel Pine Cone, the weekly local paper, and was fascinated by the police log. Some interesting parts:
Carmel Valley: Business owner on Cachagua Road reported a possible DUI driver. Deputies located the driver and found the driver was not intoxicated but had emotional issues. Driver was transported to his home.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Observed a loose dog in the commercial district on Eighth Avenue. The dog was captured and an area check was made. A business owner gave information on a possible owner. The owner was contacted by telephone. The dog escaped out of a newly constructed fence. The dog was returned to a family member and was secured in the home. Information and a warning were given. No prior contacts, and follow up needed for dog license information.

Carmel Valley: Report of several shots heard in Mid Carmel Valley. Turned out to be gopher eradication with propane explosions. No shots fired.
We took some great pictures in Big Sur. I hope to post them soon. I need to find the USB cord for my digicam (misplaced in the move, unfortunately).