Thursday, August 31, 2006

In My New York Archives

Williamsburg Bridge

Anti-war march, April 2003

Christo's "The Gates" in Central Park

Snow in Brooklyn

Princess Diana

Today is the ninth anniversary of Princess Di's death. It was late August 1997 and I had just moved to NYC. School was starting and I was trying awkwardly to make new friends. NYC was unbearably hot and the university housing office (the devil) had stuck me in the crappiest building. I had one square room off a hallway, with windows that opened onto the air shaft. The room didn't get any light or circulation.

I was never a fan of Princess Di. Didn't love her, didn't hate her, didn't care. Still, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about her car accident. It was night and I was riding in a cab through Central Park with a new friend. We were cruising through the park, on our way downtown to meet some other new friends. The cabbie had the radio on and the commentator said that Princess Di had been in a major car accident in Paris. Condition critical. My friend, a Korean girl from England (whose accent I found fascinating and a little hard to understand), and I didn't think anything of it. In fact, I think I said something callous and poked fun at the whole English royalty thing.

That cab ride is one of my earliest memories of life in New York. I remember the feeling of being in a new place. Of walking through campus and thinking that I was really, finally living in New York. Far away from anything familiar. A clean slate. I can't believe that was nine years ago.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wandering Eye

It's hard not to continue checking local real estate listings and stopping in at open houses. There are quite a few places up for sale in our neighborhood. Many have stayed on the market for over a month. Some have had their prices reduced. I scratch my head and wonder if the market is slowing or crashing or whether it is just pausing before taking off once again. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the market is going to keep going up. At least in LA. In any case, we don't live in tract housing so we can't compare other houses in our neighborhood directly with ours. Each house is different. Every lot a different size.

Not our house

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rudy's Barbershop on Sunset

I got my hair cut at Rudy's over the weekend. It was my third time getting a snip there. The prices are pretty reasonable and I've never been unsatisfied with my cut. That being said, I always feel uncomfortably, exceedingly corporate every time I go there. Granted, they do hammer home the alternative, punk rock-ness of the place (see above), so I shouldn't take it too seriously, but still I feel a little square, a little too put together, a little too I grease the wheels of big business.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Union Station

Cool art deco font

We checked out Union Station in downtown LA today. The LA landmark opened in 1939 and is considered one of the last great American railway stations. Today, it is a far cry from being a bustling railway station, but architecturally speaking, it is lovely. I spotted Spanish, Moorish and Art Deco influences-- all of which blended together very nicely.
The station originally served the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Southern Pacific Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway (LARy). Established on the site of L.A.'s first Chinatown, it saw heavy use during World War II, but later saw declining patronage due to the growing popularity of air travel and automobiles.
From Wiki (emphasis added). Click here for more on Union Station and here for LA's Chinatown.

Waiting room

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Venice, CA

A '62 Thunderbird parked on Abbott Kinney. It was for sale for $27k.

We've lived in LA less than a year and already we've stopped exploring the city. The other week at work, a friend said that he was 'trying to be a tourist in LA.' This struck me as a good idea, so last weekend Mr. Octopus and I spent Saturday in Venice, the beachside community way the hell over on the other side of town.

We arrived in Venice before noon on Saturday and walked around the main thoroughfare, Abbott Kinney. It was dead. We joked about how the locals must be sleeping in or out surfing. It was so laid back-- we got sleepy just walking around.

Another sweet car in Venice.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where's the Beef?

Lately I've been thinking about becoming a vegetarian. I've never considered it seriously before because I used to really like meat and really hate tofu. These days I eat less meat and I've been trying to be healthier in general (case in point: I've taken up running). I think it's partially a reaction to my dad having bypass surgery earlier this year. Plus, I'm really not that young anymore, my metabolism is slowing and I just can't take my health for granted and rely on my genes.

I feel like being a vegetarian is a real commitment. You either are or aren't. I don't want to be one of those people who call themselves vegetarians but eat fish or chicken. It's an all or nothing proposition. If I were to make the switch, then I would be doing it for health reasons. There are so many toxic things out there-- pollution, stress, pesticides-- the one thing that I can sort of control is my diet.

Perhaps I should continue to cut back on meat for the time being. Maybe a little fish here and there and, of course, the occasional hamburger and Korean BBQ. One thing is for sure: I could never be a vegan. Life without cheese would be too sad.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

If Only I Had More Than Three Weeks of Vacation

I've been to 15 countries. It sounded like a decent number until I saw in on a map. As illustrated, 15 countries is a piddly amount and it drives home the point that the world is a big place and I've hardly reached out to see it. With the exception of Vietnam and Thailand, I haven't ventured to many non-Western, non-industrialized countries. And I've never been to the southern hemisphere. We are hoping to change all that this year with a trip down south. We've recently looked into visiting Chile at Christmastime. How wonderful would it be to ring in 2007 in Patagonia?

On the other hand, I've visited 38 of our 50 fair United States. This country is vast and beautiful. Mr. Octopus and I were blown away during our cross-country trip last year (we took the northern route). He liked South Dakota and I liked Wyoming best. A few years back we got engaged in New Mexico, which is a quietly magical place (they don't call it the "Land of Enchantment" for nothing). A must visit for desert lovers.

create your own visited country map

Monday, August 14, 2006

Norton Simon Museum

One of my favorite places in LA is the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. It has a small and intimate art collection (read: manageable and not overwhelming) and hardly ever gets crowded. What makes this place a real gem, however, is its extensive Asian art collection (above and below). The bottom floor is devoted almost entirely to art from South and Southeast Asia. What's more, the space suits the collection beautifully-- it is very peaceful and spare, with lots of natural light.

Buddhas from different parts of Asia:


India (I'm pretty sure)



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Palm Trees

Palm trees are all over LA. Tall and skinny palms, short and stumpy ones. In Eagle Rock there are quite a few of the tall and skinny variety (below). I think those are the Washingtonia robusta, but I could be wrong.

Left: Before and after trimming (can you spot the tree trimmer?)

Thursday, August 10, 2006


A friend of the chanchow, Hoosier Nest, recently sent a link to a website of one Matt Harding. Harding, a regular dude from Connecticut, quit his job to travel the world on the cheap. During his travels, he would videotape himself dancing in far flung places as a way to let his family and friends know where he was. The result: a video deal with a gum company. Click here to view and try to keep your envy in check.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006


The North Reading Room at Doe Library

Move over US News, here's an alternative ranking of colleges and universities. Of course, I like it particularly because my alma mater, UC Berkeley, fared so well.

The August issue of Harper's magazine contains an article on Tyrone Hayes' research on pesticides and frogs (It's Not Easy Being Green by William Souder). Hayes is a professor in Berkeley's Integrative Biology department. His research has shown that atrazine, a common pesticide, turns male frogs into hermaphodites. I can't seem to find a link to the article, but check it out if you have a Harper's handy.

On a sad note, for those who remember the Naked Guy from the 1990s, he passed away earlier this year from an apparent suicide.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Thanks for Your Time on This Matter

One of the more unfortunate things about working an office job is that corporate cliches may wriggle into your daily conversations with friends. I've caught myself saying, "Yea, let's hang out tomorrow. I'll touch base with you in the afternoon." Another embarassing thing is when I say "thanks" before hanging up. As if I need to thank my friends for talking to me. My big fear is that one day I'll end a phone conversation by saying "Thanks, Chanchow," like I were signing an email. That would be most horrific.

Here are some office cliches that I have to be careful not to use outside the office. Lots of sports references, I'm noticing.

on the ball
drop the ball
game plan
pick your brain
step up to the plate
take one for the team
hit the ground running
get our ducks in a row

Some more here. Feel free to add to the list. The more cringe-worthy, the better.

Appliance Hunting at Sears

One of the cooler things about moving into a house is shopping for a new washer and dryer. We went to Sears the week we moved in and were blown away (overwhelmed, frankly) by the variety of washers and dryers out there. Not your parents' machines, that's for sure. The most energy efficient washers these days are the front loading type, which was my first pick. They reminded me of the days when I would lug my clothes in a mesh bag, hike to the not-so-near laundromat and stare hypnotically at my clothes swirl around and around. The front loaders, however, were too big for our laundry room, so we ended up with an energy efficient top loader (below). The doors are transparent (but tinted) so I can still watch the clothes wash. Since laundry is possibly my favorite chore, these machines are a real treat.

Sunday, August 6, 2006


The weather has been perfect this weekend. Sunny and breezy. Our neighborhood is very quiet. We hear the wind rustling through the trees, the birds chirping, the squirrels scampering and the occasional car passing by. It's very Leave it to Beaver. Sometimes I forget that I'm in LA.

This morning I went on a run through the neighborhood-- a big change from my usual treadmill fare. Running outdoors looks deceptively easy, but boy is it hard. The first part of my run went well enough. I was going pretty fast, without expending much energy. I'm getting good at this, I thought.

I realized on the way back that I had been going downhill the whole time, and now I was paying the price. To get back home I had to run back up. Granted, it was a slight grade, but, being accustomed to the flat treadmill, even the slightest incline winds me. I labored up the hill, at times running more slowly than I could probably walk. Even the old man walking on the other side of the street kept up with me. But I kept chugging, running in place when I needed a break. Eventually, I made it back to my starting point. Door-to-door I was gone about a half hour.

On a different note, here are a couple videos sent by friends of the Chanchow-- Tea Partay and Ok Go.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

I Wanna Be a Cheesemonger

Maybe that's my calling. Screw the office job. Cheese might be my thing. I like food, but I really like cheese, especially the stinky stuff. I need to sign up for a cheese class. What could be more fun. Chanchow the cheesemonger. I think that's perfect.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Happy August

So it's August again. I feel like 2006 just began and already we've passed the mid-year mark. It's a little past 8am and I'll be heading off to work soon. I've been waking up early lately -- around 6:30-7am -- without the help of an alarm clock. Not sure if it's because of stress or just not needing as much sleep as before.

August. I'm trying to figure out what I think of when I think of August. To me, it's not really summer (even though it technically is), nor is it fall. It's a transition month. A buffer. The end of summer vacation and the beginning of anticipation of the school year (back in the day). A winding down, gearing up. Nowadays with work, August is just the "slow month" when the stock market slows and investment bankers go on vacation, which somehow trickles down to the little foot soldiers like me.