2009 Feb 26
I was just chatting with my pal Mikey about the martini he recently enjoyed in Hollywood, and it occured to me that I don’t know what a martini tastes like. But I know for a fact that I have had one before. It was a super-long time ago when my brother and I were coming back from Hawaii and had gotten upgraded to first-class. The flight attendant came by and asked what we’d like to drink. I said “I’ll have a vodka martini.” She said, “Would you like an olive or twist?”. My brother leaned over to me and asked, “What the hell is an Oliver Twist?!”
Next time I’m out, I gotta get a martini. With an olive.
2009 Feb 24
For the past few months, I’ve been visiting the Cedar Park Public Library pretty regularly. It’s a relatively small library, but has some excellent materials. The dvd and cd sections are pretty good, and they even have quite a lot of anime, not that I’m really into it. They also have a teen manga section, and an anime/manga club. In fact, I saw a little flyer for a guest speaker, a computer game artist from Bioware Austin, who presented to the club. Check out their events calendar (which is a Google calendar that you can subscribe too) and you can see their upcoming schedule. The kid’s section is really nice as well, and they have lots of computers to work on. And of course, Wi-Fi Internet access is available.
The main stacks have a decent selection. I’ve found a bunch of Neil Gaiman books, and now I am working on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, of which the library has about seven on the shelves. But what I found really cool about the library is their use of technology. They have a self-checkout station where you scan your library card, put your books on a magnetized scanner, and you see the titles appear on the monitor above. When you have scanned all your books/dvd’s/etc, you can either print out a receipt, or have it sent to your email address. This is so cool because I can then just add it to my Google calendar so that I won’t be late returning items. Also, from their website, you can see your library account and even renew books online. You can even browse their catalog online to search for a book. It’s so convenient!
Other cool things at the library that I see on their website are: teen gaming tournaments, Movie Mondays, chess club, Family Gaming Nights, adult knitting club, book clubs, and downloadable audio books. While I love bookstores, libraries are cool too, and free!! If you haven’t been to your library in a while, now’s a great time to visit.
2009 Feb 23
About a year ago, I decided to not eat beef, pork, or chicken anymore, and I have been pretty good at doing so. Most of the credit of making this even a possibility has to be given to my wife who is an awesome cook. She’s been able to make lots of great veggie and seafood dishes for me. She and the kids still eat meat, but not as much as before.
The reason I wanted to quit red meat was because of the environmental impacts of the livestock industry. The U.N. report ”Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options” is pretty shocking. Read this article at the U.N.’s news site for a summary. I’m not going to list out statistics, since those can be found pretty easily through a search on the Internet, but I’ll just say that when you consider the pollution (air and water) that is produced, the amount of food needed to be grown to feed the livestock (70% of US grain production, most of which could be fed to people instead of animals), the amount of water needed for livestock (2,640 gallons of water to produce one pound of edible beef), the amount of the world’s land that is dedicated to livestock (30%!), the amount of energy required to sustain the industry, and the deforestation of rainforests in order to build cattle ranches, it’s really not too hard to make the decision to eat less meat. (ok, there were a few statistics, and they fluctuate depending on the source, but I am being conservative on those)
The thing about eating meat is that to make a positive impact, you don’t have to quit meat altogether, but just eat less of it. I read this article by Kevin Purdy on Lifehacker about a “Flexitarian” diet, which is basically restricting your meat intake to just dinner. (obviously there’s more to it than that, so read the article) That’s actually pretty easy if you think about it! You get your meat fix, and still reduce your environmental impact.
I have read that after you stop eating meat, you might have an aversion to seeing meat in the market or on people’s dinner plates. For the most part it never really bothered me, but lately I’ve started to get an uneasy feeling about seeing meat. It doesn’t really look like food, but just animal muscle and severed body parts. This surprised me, because I used to love meat. A good, thick, juicy burger couldn’t be beat! But now, it’s hard to even think about eating it. And when I see all these mentions of bacon on the Internet, it sickens me somewhat. Maybe sickens is not the right work, but it still baffles me. Do these meat-eaters know about the impacts of that kind of diet on the world, and if they have, do they not feel the least bit of guilt? Is the pleasure of eating meat so great that you care about it more than you care about a sustainable world or even world hunger? I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt and just think that they haven’t read or heard about the U.N. report. But when I see that photo of the giant piece of grilled meat wrapped up in bacon, I can’t help but be a little put-off by such wastefulness. Like, this chunk of flesh might seem like a “cool” novelty to some people, but the resources that went into that thing probably could have fed a family of vegetarians for a month.
Now I have to admit to being a hypocrite of sorts. I have cheated several times this past year, and each time I felt a little sick. Not physically sick afterwards, but guilty and also, the taste was kind of gross. Just too much intense fat-flavor I think. When I cheated, sometimes it was because of habit. For instance, when I was at Dodger Stadium, I had to have a Dodger Dog. (But is that really meat?) Then there’s our Jamaican feast at Xmas time where I had a bit of jerk pork, and our Hawaiian Xmas feast, where I had a taste of Kalua pig, and at Thanksgiving a taste of dark meat. The other times were also special occasions, like our omakase at Takao where I had a little piece of beef, a mini-sausage with Valentine’s cheese fondue, or a tiny quail leg at a friend’s restaurant. But apart from that, it’s been seafood and veggies. I guess you could say I am a ”Pecsetarian”. Someday I’d like to quit eating fish too, but at least getting red-meat out of my diet is a start. And by the way, there are some guides to seafood which recommend which types of fish are better to eat where the ecosystem is concerned. I actually saw the sushi-guide at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, of all places!
After a year I’m pretty sure that I won’t be going back to red-meat. If there is some miracle in which humans can produce livestock without the severe global impact, of course I’d have to reconsider. But these days, even without thinking about the environmental impact, eating mammals and birds doesn’t hold any appeal to me.
2009 Feb 15
My second favorite genre of books has to be travel essays. I even love to read tourist guidebooks from Frommers and Lonely Planet. I guess it’s the part of my personality that some people descibe as wanderlust. At this point in my life, my real-life traveling is mainly family vacations and doing stuff with the kids. But I always used to love traveling on my own, even if that meant going to a bookstore across town, or taking the train to somewhere I hadn’t been before. Usually I’d just have my camera and cd player with me.
Nowadays I have to travel vicariously through others, and their travel essays. One of my favorite books so far is Jupiter’s Travels, where Ted Simon rides his Triumph motorcycle around the world. It’s an interesting trip, and lots of fun. I’ve also read Vroom With a View by Peter Moore (thx for the recommendattion Nina) where he rides his Vespa around Italy. And continuing with moto-adventures, I read Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Good stuff!
I’ve read several books about traveling in Japan, like the The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth. It’s fun to relive my time in Japan by reading similar experiences that others have had. It really makes me look to the future when the kids are a little older and we can have more adventurous travels again.
I’ve recently joined the Travel Literature group over at Goodreads.com, and look forward to getting some recommendations as to some more good books. Of course, money is tight, so I’ll check the local library as well, and the used bookshops too. Maybe even try out a book-trading site like Bookmooch.com. Except I don’t like to let my books go. But I am learning to live “lighter” and not keep as much stuff as I used to, so I really should give Bookmooch a try.
2009 Feb 14
I watched Superbad over Netflix’s Watch It Now service last night. (That service is awesome) I enjoyed the movie a lot, but there was a bit too much swearing. I guess teen movies have changed a bit in the presentation, but the plotlines and characters remain the same. I keep thinking of Valley Girl and the party scenes there. Or Weird Science’s bar scene. All funny scenes, and Superbad has it’s fair share as well. The acting was good, and McLovin was so funny.
I’d rate this movie higher. But the plot just wasn’t very original, and the best friend aspect just didn’t seem thought-out as much as it could have been. Still, a fun movie to see if you don’t have anything else to watch
2009 Feb 12
I’ve been exploring Google Maps a lot lately, since it is so integrated with my G1 phone, and I created a few map sets, just to record different places (like the fishing spot my cousin took us to last weekend). I was adding some other locations to the map, and decided to share a little personal history of landmark places that have been part of my life. I doubt anyone will find it super-interesting, but it’s pretty fun to put stuff on the map, and a lot of good memories have resurfaced. It’s still a work in progress, but go ahead and take a look, why don’t you?
Barron’s Personal History Landmark Locations
2009 Feb 11
This is one of my favorite ZARD songs. What makes this video special is that Izumi Sakai actually looks at the camera a few times in the video. She pretty much never looked at the camera in photos or videos.
I love the night shots of Yokohama too. Makes me want to live there again! I guess in about 13 years?
2009 Feb 09
I feel like I am cold-blooded because it seems like I’m always freezing. Or is it that I am extremely hot-blooded? I don’t know, but dang it if everyone around me feels fine, while I have to put on a jacket or two. At home, where we keep the temperature around 74°F in the winter and 78°F in the summer, I’m still cold. Sometimes I feel so cold inside that I can’t sit still and have to get up and move around. Other times, when I am at work and my right hand is bound to the mouse, that hand gets freezing and I have to stick it under the hot water faucet in the restroom. The only positive to this affliction is that when I drink hot tea, I can really feel it warming up my body as well as my spirits and that makes me enjoy it even more.
2009 Feb 08
Didn’t go outside at all today. Just cleaned the house, played a little Animal Crossing on the Wii and watched the kids play Webkinz. And I watched Stardust with the boys while Mariko is out with friends. A surpise birthday party for her actually!