30 December, 2005

J and I fought like we have never fought before. I didn't get much sleep. I wish we can stop fighting all the time.

07 December, 2005

Angeles Crest Highway

I took a ride on the Angeles Crest Highway last Saturday. I proceeded from the foot of the hill at Flintridge to Mt. Wilson (5715 feet). It's one of the most scenic mountain rides in Southern California. The day was crystal clear and I could see downtown LA from about 3,000 feet up. However, after 4,000 ft, cloud covers took over and I was riding in a mixture of fog and really bright sunlight. After visiting the Mt. Wilson Observatory I was too cold to go any higher and headed home for lunch.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Jennifer and I visited a old slice of Los Angeles at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles. This is the location where a group of Spaniards from the San Gabriel Mission founded Los Angeles in 1781.

Now the Pueblo is a state park that is commonly known as Olvera Street. The area is composed of a open plaza that houses the Chinese Historical Museum and the Pico House, a former hotel founded by Alta California's last Mexican governor.

On the day we visited, we found a group of dancers doing some kind of Mexican hat dance. We walked the narrow Olvera Street and had a late lunch.

Bimbo bread is like any other sliced white bread. But I think the name is funny.

Jennifer and I visited the Santee Alley, an open air market just a few blocks from our apartment in the Fashion District in downtown LA. Although I wasn't interested in buying anything on the offering there, the neighborhood was interesting. The place was packed with people. It was so crowded that one can only move at a slow pace and try not to bump into the person in front. This isn't the kind of shopping environment I like. But it was worth visiting.

07 November, 2005

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Jennifer and I went to the Yucaipa apple country today. We originally were going to the orchard to pick some apples ourselves. But we ended up at the Parrish Apple Shed and really enjoyed their selection of apples, apple products like apple turnovers and apple wines and ciders. It was a pleasant day at 72 degrees and we spent a nice day out of the city.

The Parrish Apple Shed in Yucaipa Posted by Picasa

Southern Californians used to get all their apples from San Bernardino County, about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Now Washington State apples dominate the markets. But Southern Cal apple orchards still exist out in Yucaipa.

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Yucaipa's apple country Posted by Picasa

The Apple Dumplins House in Yucaipa's apple country Posted by Picasa

Happy Jack

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Morning @ Silverlake Dog Park

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I took Jack to play at the Silverlake Dog Park a couple Saturdays ago. We had a lot of fun meeting new dogs from the neighborhood and just relaxing next to the Silverlake Resevoir.

Here we have the dogs greet Jack upon our entry into the park.

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14 October, 2005

Downtown LA buildings are into rooftop neon signs. Many of them simply announce the building's name. Some signs are essentially advertising.

It's ironic to find this sign in a city associated with entertainment and indulgence.

The building in the back is the old United Artist Theater, one of the grand theaters built in downtown during the 1920's. Other grand theaters also line Broaway, including the Orpheum (listed in the photo below), the Los Angeles, the Mayan, the Rialto, etc. Most of them sit empty now In the United Artist's case, it is now used as Universal Cathedral Sunday service location. An outline of the downtown LA Theater District could be found at http://www.gmrnet.com/theaters.html

I finally got a chance to walk around at night in my neighborhood. It's a little lonely and I find myself looking back to make sure no one is following me. It is downtown LA. But my first night walk around the neighborhood went well.

The Broadway Bar is a newish bar that just came to the neighborhood. It is the closest watering hole to my apartment. A couple blocks down I found the Golden Gopher. It's suppose to be a good neighborhood place and the bar actually delivers liquor to your door. But my favorite downtown bar now is the Mountain Bar in Chinatown. I'll have photos of that place when I go there next time.

Next to the Broadway Bar is the old Orpheum Theater. It was unoccupied and rundown for decades. The theater recently got renovated and is now again a concert and event venue. The building on top of the theater also got a facelift adn became the Orpheum Lofts.

13 September, 2005

A look down to the courtyard from my buildings rooftop deck Posted by Picasa

Views from my window and neighborhood

First week in Los Angeles

This is a view of my empty loft

I feel like the past week went by both really quickly. Since I arrived in Los Angeles on September 3, I had to check Jack and Missouri into a kennel, find an apartment, and start a new job. While I was "homeless," I stayed at the Orbit, a hostel in West Hollywood. While I don't mind doing the hostel thing, it is completely different when I have to get up early in the morning for work while rest of my roommates are partying late into the night. It was not an ideal situation for me for the long term.

I lucked out my fourth day in LA and found a loft in downtown LA's Fashion District. My loft is between the Fashion District and Toytown.

My neighborhood is a very busy place during the day. One could see garment workers pushing their carts of fabric, buttons, and merchandising through the streets. A couple blocks north of my building, one could see a great number of Chinese toy importers working out of their shops, loading and unloading their goods and at the same time working in their rudimentary English and Spanish to attrack customers. What I find the most interesting, however, is the Portuguese-speaking Brazilian Koreans. They look like Koreans, eat a mix of Korean and Brazilian food, but speak in Portuguese. I guess only in LA could one find such a mix of people.

The job is completely different than Capitol Hill. I found myself heading to San Diego for my first day on the job. I arrived at the office to find that the Asian Business Association of San Diego is hosting a debate between the Proposition 78 and 79 forces and hiked my way 2 hours down south for the event. I drove two hours south and two hours back to attend a 30 minute debate. But at least they were all billable.

I am still getting used to the whole billable hours. The entire industry is based on this concept of generating billable hours to justify its pay and budget. I'm still learning but I have a long way to go before I master this new concept.

Before I leave, I took some photos of my neighborhood. It is not a pretty district. But it is the engine room of Los Angeles and I look forward to exploring it block-by-block.

30 August, 2005

We rescued Pepe on Saturday. He was the sweetest boy. He was really scared and a little shy at first, but he was such a bright and cheerful boy. He quickly warmed up to me and Jennifer. We kept him overnight and he slept right by our bed.

We took him to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria thinking that they could help place him with a good family. Now, having learned of some of their policies, which weren't initally disclosed to us, we wish we had just kept him. Jennifer put in a formal application today to adopt Pepe today. We miss him and want him to be with us. I'm not religious at all, but I hope St. Francis keeps an eye out for Pepe and brings him back to us soon. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Jack underestimates his size.

14 August, 2005

Jack got sick last night. Something got into his eyes and it's irritating him. I took him to the emergency room and the doctor said that unless treated properly, he could turn blind. Poor Jack.

I'm leaving for a work trip tonight and I'm terribly worried about him. I hope the eye drops do the job.

Jack is in this picture with his new space dog collar. The doctor put it on him to discourage him from pawing his irritated eye.

10 August, 2005

I took a Motorcycle Safety Foundation biker course today. I need to return again tomorrow to get my certificate.

Although it rained all day today, it was a fun day. I got to ride a Honda Nighthawk and it beats being in the office any day.

27 July, 2005

Bloody hell!

It's the third hot day of the week. It's been 90 degrees fahrenheit and above since Monday. It's a swamp here. I can't wait until summer is over.

I have to stay at work until 12-1am today so the House of Representatives could "debate" DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement). I have no love for Bush's free trade agreement. However, I can't stand labor union's kneejerk reaction to any trade agreements. I suppose Washington, DC is just not a place for moderates like me.

The House seems to spend all day naming post offices. But Democrats and Republicans have no time to talk to each other to work things out. Who knows? Maybe there is no common ground and we're destined to kill each other over every little piece of legislation that come to Capitol Hill.

26 July, 2005

DC and Rugby

I have not commented about a couple things that take up a significant chunk of my life - rugby and working on Capitol Hill.

I find working on the Hill to be pretty boring. Ideas exchanged here are mostly recycled material. Unlike the parliamentary system in the UK or Canada, we don't exactly have free debates on the House floor. Member of Congress speak to largely empty chambers with prescripted talking points. Furthermore, since I hate people, I hate dealing with constituents. They ask for the government to solve their problems but at the same time want the government to be out of their lives. They write in asking for answers that they could find on the Internet with a simple google search. I wish we have different governing style.

I wish our campaigns are not focused so much on fundraising and politicians' dependence on donors. No matter how much Shays-Meehan reformed the system and banned soft money, as long as elected officials and candidates are required to solicit donations from private sources, our government will be influenced by those who are affluent enough to contribute. Because I find my work experience less than satisfying, I'm pretty grumpy everyday. This is not healthy. I didn't use to be this way. I used to get up bright and early and get to work early just so I can get an early start.

While I don't want to work in politics for too much longer, I hope to find my faith in government again. Perhaps moving back to Los Angeles and Southern California's laidback ways would help me become less angry and care more about the state of our country. I used to be concerned about Southern Californians' lack of interest in public affairs. Now I wish I can care less about politics.

On rugby - I started playing the sport competitively in college. I get more satisfaction out of rugby than any other sports. Sadly, work and my desire to relax while I'm not at work stopped my playing days. Now I help out at American University Rugby Club, my old college team.

I'm glad I got Jennifer (my girlfriend) hooked on rugby. She watched the 2003 Rugby World Cup with me and became a big fan of the sport. I hope to take her to an international match in Europe or Australia/New Zealand someday. Unfortunately, we don't root for the same team. I usually support France while Jennifer is an All Blacks (New Zealand) fan. I like France's flair, and how they attack (nicknamed "champagne rugby"). Jennifer seems to like NZ's precision and their offensive skills, and their former flyhalf Carlos Spencer (I can't figure out if she's a NZ fan because of the way they play or Carlos Spencer).

Dodgers won again! But I shouldn't get my hopes up. They're likely to disappoint tomorrow or shortly after.

So Missouri was like "I like your shoes" and Jennifer was like "uh huh."

Jennifer and I spent the weekend in Manhattan. While it was a short overnight trip, we had a fantastic time. Jennifer got her shopping done and I was just happy to see her enjoy herself.

We had dinner at Pampa, an Argentine restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue and 97th St. We had the mixed grill, complete with beef short ribs, flank steak, chicken, blood sausage, and chicken. In short, it was more meat than we could ever consume. The bill came out to a tidy $68. It was a great deal for a beautiful meal.

I took this photo of the city through a window at Barney's New York. It was a good way to pass the time while Jennifer shopped and tried up a few dresses at her favorite department store.

The water fountain at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
New York City remains as romantic as ever. Although the redeveloped Columbus Circle is now filled with chained stores such as J. Crew, it is still charming to see the sights and the lights.

I snapped these photos while walking by Times Square on July 23, 2005. As on any night, Hells Kitchen was a mass of humanity. While novel for tourists who haven't spent much time in Manhattan, I don't fancy spending much time there dealing with the foot and vehicular traffic. Nevertheless, all the lights and colors are incredible.

22 July, 2005

The Dodgers won two in a row! Considering how they've been playing this season, this is great!

20 July, 2005

Dodgers lost against 5-4. This time our talented closer Yhency Brazoban sunk us in a 9th inning failure. It's challenging to be a Dodgers fan from the East Coast, especially when they're posting such a disappointing year.