Friday, July 17, 2009

Still, My Dream

Amazing Freefly Skydiving Routine - Watch more Funny Videos

When can we start going upwards like this. It's almost a decade past 2000. Come on, the way I thought the 21st century would turn out to be was way more advanced that the world today.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No Wonder Why California is Broke

From New York Times article:

Use of Taxpayer Money for Jackson Service Draws Criticism

Published: July 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES — The talent has exited stage left and the tears have been dried, but the discord over the cost of the memorial service for Michael Jackson held in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday appears to be escalating.

At Jackson Memorial, Music and Mourning (July 8, 2009)
Blowout Ratings for a Farewell, Online and Off (July 9, 2009) On Tuesday, the city attorney, Carmen Trutanich, took the highly unusual step of appearing during the public comment period of a City Council hearing to announce that his office was investigating how Los Angeles taxpayers came to foot a bill for police protection and other city functions at the service, at a time when the city and state are running out of money.

On Wednesday, the city controller, Wendy Greuel, sent a stern letter to the Los Angeles emergency management department demanding to know why it had spent $48,826 on sandwiches from a deli 80 miles from Los Angeles to feed police officers. (Sandwiches from Subway would have cost $17,491.25, she pointed out.)

“Rest assured our office is investigating how this whole phenomenon occurred from the get-go,” Mr. Trutanich said when addressing the council.

Two City Council members have also challenged the expenditure, and on Wednesday the radio airwaves, blogs and Twitter feeds crackled with criticism.

“I admit I shed a tear with Mariah, Queen and Paris,” said Jody Greenblatt, a pharmaceutical executive who lives in Los Angeles. “But I cry more at the thought of teachers’ pink slips, forced furloughed days, unemployment rates sky high and a state bankrupt.”

Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the city, said the final cost to the city of the memorial at the Staples Center was $1.4 million.

The unusual public outcry in the politically atomized Los Angeles underscores both the dire straits of the city — with its $320 million budget gap and 11.4 percent unemployment rate — and its difficulty in raising money from wealthy entertainment-industry leaders.

The fallout from the memorial could also prove to be an embarrassment for Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who was out of the country during the memorial and whose efforts to stave off costs and criticism amounted to a fund-raising request on his office’s Web site . Ms. Hamilton said $17,000 in donations came in via the city’s Web site, but it has suffered prolonged server crashes.

Last month, the mayor scrambled to line up private donations to pay for a victory parade for the Los Angeles Lakers after a police union official criticized the city’s plans to split the $2 million cost of the parade between the team and taxpayers. Among those who contributed were the usual cast of generous donors to Los Angeles events, like Eli Broad, Casey Wasserman and Jerry Perenchio.

“There is a good, strong culture of philanthropy in L.A.,” said Rich Caruso, a Los Angeles developer who plays host to several public events each year. “But it is a handful of people and usually always the same people.” He added: “I think it’s an outrage that taxpayers paid for that memorial. The Jackson family should pay for it.”

Two council members have also suggested that the Jackson family help defer costs. Jesse Derris, a spokesman for the Jackson family, said the family was unavailable for comment.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owner of Staples Center and the promoter of Mr. Jackson’s planned concert series in London, donated the center for the event, but has also been a focus of requests for help to pay for its related costs. (Tickets were free and distributed via lottery.) Calls to the company were not returned.

A version of this article appeared in print on July 9, 2009, on page A16 of the New York edition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Food Junkie #6: AK Restaurant + Bar

A famous chef, good vibes and atmosphere... but the food is just... "meh."

AK Restaurant just opened its kitchen on Abbot Kinney Blvd. (Venice Beach area) in November, 2008. It has attracted attention of media and top chefs, and it is one of the most talked-about restaurants in the area.

No wonder, the owner-chef is a famous former executive chef Conny Andersson of Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel. He has served the last 19 years at Four Seasons with his impeccable "international cuisine," combining his knowledge and experience in middle eastern, mediterranean, south east Asian and European cuisines. He combines all these essences with Scandinavian style(Andersson is from Sweden).

So, I went to AK Restaurant with a couple of friends Wednesday night. I didn't expect that it would be crowded but I made a reservation the day before anyways. The hostess who took my call was very nice and she even called me back Wednesday to confirm the reservation. Anyways, I'm glad I made the reservation. I got there at 7:30pm and the place was packed.

As I entered the restaurant, the hostess would greet you and take you to the seat. You will be sitting inside the restaurant, but somehow it gives you a feeling that you are actually sitting in the spacious patio or something. It is probably because the restaurant had a nice high ceiling. They play vibrant yet quiet house music catering to people drinking at the bar. The tables and chairs are of modern style and pretty comfortable. The waiters, waitresses and bartenders are young but professional and they all have a good friendly energy.

The kind of crowds for that night was young-adults from mid-20s to 50s and up, dressing semi-casually and some of them even dressy. Each table had an average of 4-6 people, eating from a clean rectanble-shaped white plates with designer silverware (note: the pictures I posted on this blog are not what I took. I just googled them). Because of the music, you kinda have to speak up when you are talking to a person across the table. I didn't mind it but for some people it could be a bit noisy. You would have the same experience in Chaya on Navy St. in Venice - the atmosphere is decent but music is slightly overpowering. But overall, I liked the semi-casual atmosphere in this restaurant.

Now let's talk about their food...

The drink selection was pretty good, they had variety of wines from different parts of the world and some beers from about 10 countries. I noticed there was a Japanese beer called Hitachino Nest White Beer. I'm from Japan but I've never heard of such a brand. Apparently, it's a locally-brewed beer in Ibaraki prefecture, some place that is not well-known for their beer. Maybe it's a good find. So we got curious and ordered that beer. Also, we had Stark Porter from Carnegie & Co., a Swedish beer. Well, Hitachino tasted just like Blue Moon and Stark Porter tasted like mild Guiness black beer. Hmm... meh.

Currently, AK has 9 appetizers, from steamed blue mussles to hoedgehog mushroom toast to good ol' onion soup. I wasn't too impressed with the selection so I passed on appetizers. Two of my friends who were with me ordered Young Frisée Salad with Smoked Salmon Loin and Artichoke Three Ways from the appetizer menu. I had a bite of Young Friée Salad and it was not bad at all. But mind you, the portion for each appetizer is barely enough for one person so don't expect to share one appetizer with more than 2 people, unless one tiny bite is enough.

They have some selectoins of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and seafood in the menu (price range is $23 - $34), but they are rather limited selections: only 11 main dishes in total you can choose from.

Kurobuta Pork Schnitzel caught my attention since kurobuta (black pig) is a Japanese version of Berkshire breed, a rare kind and considered first class. I was curious how it is made. Well, basically they made the meat very flat and stretched out by beating it like 10 million times with a butcher hammer and deep-fried it tonkatsu-style. The taste wasn't bad, but not impressive at all. Without the sauce (which tasted like a bootleg version of Worcestershire sauce), the meat does not taste much. It was tonkatsu-style but was not nearly as crispy as I expected in tonkatsu. It came with brown butter to put on the meat and apple braised red cabbage on the side (tiny, tiny portion). I did not know how to apply or enjoy them. If you go to a tonkatsu restaurant inside Mitsuwa grocery store in Torrance, you can get a much crispier and tastier tonkatsu for less than $10. I'm sorry Mr. Anderssen, I would have to choose Mitsuwa tonkatsu.

My friends had Diver Sea Scallops and some kind of salmon dish I forgot the name of. Both of them came with a very small portion even for a girl with small stomach. These looked more like appetizers. They did not comment on their food so I supposed they were... "meh" or less (I'm only guessing here though).

I like the location and the atmosphere of AK Restaurant. Maybe I just have a different taste or maybe I didn't ordered what I would like. And, maybe my expectation was too high because of the hype. But in my opinion, the taste quality will need a lot of improvement to satisfy the tongue of food lovers. The food presentation was decent, though :)

By the way, I saw Mr. Conny Andersson walking around bringing some food to some customers... in suits. Wait, if he was dealing with his favorite customers, who was cooking all these dishes? Shouldn't he be in the kitchen, hello? lol

OVERALL RATING: 5.7 / 10.0

WHAT'S GOOD: Good vibrant atmosphere. Good dating setting.
WHAT'S BAD: The food is just OK. Small portion for a regular eater.

AK Restaurant + Bar [Cuisine: International Cuisine]
633 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA 90291

Budget per person:
Dinner: $55 (one appetizer, one main dish and one drink)
Brunch: $25

In mid-2009, AK Restaurant closed its business.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Greatest Discovery of the Day

So I was going through some legal paper work and I bumped into this one question in one of the forms:

Does your business need to file Form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return)?
(Note: This is not common.)

Gee, I did not know if I needed this Form 720. So I proceeded to the section where they provided some useful tips. Here's what it says:

Note:Typically, you must file Form 720 and report federal excise taxes if your business sells the following:

- Gas and other fuel;
- Tractors;
- Air or ship transportation services;
- Insurance policies issued by foreign companies;
- Fishing equipment;
- Electric outdoor motors; or
- Bows and arrows

Well I still don't know jack shit about what-the-fuck Form 720 is after reading this help. But everyone, just to add one more to your useless trivia collections, if you sell bows and arrows, you definitely need to file Form 720.

And my answer was simply "No."

I don't need to file the Form 720 because I definitely don't deal with bow and arrows.

That was my best finding of the day.

...what? It's never boring to find something new no matter how useless they seem to be.

By the way... fishing equipment, too? I'm now curious what the Form 720 is for and what is in it. But I'm too tired now so I just leave it there and make it my next quest for finding more useless information.

Good night, all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy belated new year!

Like last year, I slowed down towards the end of the year in 2008. It's been a while, but I'm back. Stay tuned, I have quite a few things I want to share with you. I hope I'll find time to write and keep this blog going.

2009 will be a great year, at least for me. I know so.

Talk to you later.