Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

98 cent 2 liter bottles of diet coke? ha!

I once sung praise about 98 cent bottles of two liter diet coke here. Well, Ralph's is selling them for 79 cents each this week. LA does not cease to amaze.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

work-a work-a work-a

I've worked here for one week so far and it's been an endlessly interesting experience so far. The first shocking thing about my office was that there is no coffee available there. No coffee maker, no coffee pot. No tea available, either. I've never seen an office that didn't keep its workers swimming in caffeine before. Is it because of UC budget cuts? Or are people just more laid back and less caffeinated here? I asked coworkers about it, and their response was "hmm...I guess you're right. I never noticed!"

Being back on a college campus is pretty strange, too. I'm always afraid I'm going to be mistaken for an undergrad. Actually, I went on a campus tour last week just to get to know my way around and I ended up joining a bunch of high school juniors who were on the tour, and I'm pretty sure everyone thought I was one of them. My understanding of a "college campus" is so warped from Columbia. The tour of UCLA took a solid 2.5 hours! I'm pretty sure it would take less than an hour to tour all two blocks of Columbia. And UCLA has the smallest campus of all the UC's.

It was finals week last week so I overheard a lot of conversation on campus like "dude, that test was sooo easy!" and "what did you get on number 3???" I'm so glad I don't have to be forced to care about exams anymore. They are a bunch of hooey.

I also saw this sign on campus:

One of the annoying things about NYC is that people smoke on sidewalks, and the wind tunnels on some of the streets and avenues would carry the smoke for blocks until it hit you square in the face. Good old California has figured out how to solve that problem!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I hate swallowing big pills; I'm always afraid I'm going to choke on them. And by big pills I mean anything 500mg or larger. In fact, I'd prefer to not swallow those small round Advil pills, either. But I'm okay with the tiny 10mg Sudafed kind!

I could never take multivitamins because of my fear. I ate Flintstones chewables for kids for awhile, but even the taste of that was pretty gross (especially the kind with calcium). So I was excited when I first heard that One a Day was coming out with gummy vitamins for adults. But they are super expensive--$10 for just 25 doses. But the good news was that I didn't mind eating them at all. The better news is that Costco sells Vitafusion adult vitamin gummies for $10 for 100 doses! Much more palatable. And they even taste waaay better than One a Day's. Now, for the first time in my life, I regularly take vitamins.

our first LA repertory theater experience

N and I had a little night out this past Friday. We headed over to Santa Monica and did some shopping (I needed clothes for my new job!), ate at a sushi place called Sushi King (not bad...and eating sashimi kept in line with our diet), and watched a movie at the Aero theater. Not just any movie--the ever-famous Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock, and it was shown in 70mm.

What's 70mm, you say? Well, that's what I said when N asked if I wanted to go to the screening. Apparently it's about twice the size of the standard 35mm reel that movies are shot in, so the image resolution is supposed to be much better and it can support more sound-related information. Not many theaters are equipped to play 70mm, so that's the kind of stuff that makes the nonprofit Aero theater special.

I'd never seen Vertigo, so it was about time. I'm no film expert, but it was cool to see the movie in one of its restored prints. Knowing part of the history of the physical film you're watching flickering before your eyes in a theater adds a very nice dimension to the movie watching experience. I thought the sound was great. But that could have just been the film's awesome soundtrack. As for Hitchcock, I'm finding that his films are not to my taste...from the four I've seen so far, at least. haha.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Yep. N and I started a diet (albeit an unsophisticated one) ten days ago. We're both much heavier than we'd like to be, and it's taking its toll on our daily activities---it is so much easier to be lazy when you're overweight.

We had the vague idea that we'd lose weight once we moved to LA, but I really needed some time to gorge on some In-N-Out and koreatown food before we committed. And needless to say, that only added to our problem. But the time has come, and we've been doing a relatively good job of sticking to it. We've both lost a couple pounds so far.

The bare bones of our diet is as follows: steel cut oatmeal for breakfast (that was covered in a previous post), a diet-y frozen meal for lunch (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, or Eating Right), and veggies and chicken breast cooked for dinner. Snacks consist of whole fruits or baby carrots or fat free yogurt/fruit smoothies made with our new blender. And because I am the kind of person who can be done in by sugar cravings, there's also low fat Oreos in the cupboard (although I've only had three of the cookies so far).

I also *love* eating out and trying new food as most of you know, so eating out isn't 100% verboten, although we rarely do it now (that celebratory dinner at BCD Tofu House yesterday truly was a treat...the only time we've eaten food from a restaurant in 10 days. That might be a record!). It's not a very strict diet (we have egg white/veggie heavy breakfasts sometimes instead of oatmeal, boca burgers for dinner instead of chicken), but we at least have a default go-to plan if nothing else comes up, which makes things much easier.

I also declared that if we are hosting out-of-town visitors, all bets are off. So if you come see us--don't worry, you won't be subjected to our boneless skinless chicken breasts :)

The timing of this diet is a little sad, though. Zach's new LA-based Midtown Lunch blog is up and running. I'll have to wait several weeks before trying out his new recommendations...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Job: check!

Finally some great news and great relief--I have a job! Somehow in this budget crisis-ridden state, I got a job at UCLA, just 8 miles west of our apartment. Starting Monday I'll be Senior Editor at the UCLA Department of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools. I'll be writing and designing all types of recruitment materials for prospective students, and in the fall I'll even be evaluating students' applications. I remember the insane amount of anxiety I had during the college application process back in high school. It will be quite interesting being on the other side of the admissions process.

A fact that I didn't know: UCLA receives the most undergraduate applications out of any school in the world.

To celebrate, N and I went to BCD Tofu House. They have several locations, but the one on Wilshire is supposed to be the best one. When we walked in, we thought that it might be a Korean restaurant for white folk. But the soondubu was FANTASTIC (N went into pleasure overload over it). The three best things about it is that each person in your party gets their own small broiled fish for bahnchan, their own stone pot of rice, and your own bowl of mool kimchee! I loooove mool kimchee. And the soondubu is the best I've ever had. It was also the first time that N had ever had the toasted rice on the bottom of the stone pot mixed with water. He said it was an acquired taste...I guess his Korean genes only go so far.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mexican food

Two reasons why I wanted to move to LA: 1) Korean food, and 2) Mexican food. Loteria Grill at the LA Farmers Market has some of the best Mexican food around, although it's not particularly cheap. N and I have been there a couple times so far, and it's always fantastic. And we *love* eating at the farmers market. There's a great feel to the place. I ordered Carnitas en Salsa Morita and a watermelon agua fresca to drink:

It came with a few warm tortillas on the side and rice and black beans. The carnitas was so tender and the salsa was perfect! And I always love me some agua fresca. N was feeling adventurous and ordered a chicharron en salsa verde burrito, which is all pork rinds. But not fried or crispy pork rinds--it was pale and squishy pork rinds. I didn't try any, but it didn't look very tasty from where I was sitting. I gave him some of my carnitas.

breakfast nowadays

Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (for some reason, MUCH cheaper than that Irish kind) topped with dried cranberries, dried blueberries, toasted sliced almonds, and a little wheat germ. Finished with a bit of whole milk and real maple syrup. Easy, simple, healthful, filling, yet screams "gourmet." I bet we could sell this little creation for $10 at a cafe or restaurant.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

korean food in LA

Mia was in town last weekend for a nationwide gathering of physics nerds, so N and I got a great chance to fill up on Korean food with her. Since it's just the two of us in LA, it's tough for us to take advantage of all the Korean restaurants here--two isn't the best number to eat huge amounts of kalbi and samgyupsahl. And Mia is Korean food-starved up in Berkeley, so it was a great chance to head to a couple places I've had my eye on. But--stupid me--I forgot to take photos at the places we went, which is a huge loss. But I'll write anyway...

We ate at Honey Pig around 9pm this past Friday night. It was completely empty which I was shocked by, but it might have had something to do with the Korean Olympic speed skating team competing exactly at that hour. I'm guessing the bars in Koreatown were probably rockin'.

Some of you might not be familiar with samgyupshal. The grill at Honey Pig is a large convex dome. They spread a couple types of banchan around the outside edge of it (kimchi and kongnamul) and grill whatever meat you order on the height of the dome, so all the fat trickles into the hot/fried banchan around the edge. Pretty awesome. Check out a pic here. We discovered that they don't make the fried rice and give you the soup at the end unless you specifically request it. Or they might have overheard our English and hoped we wouldn't know what we were doing enough to expect it. Honey Pig was suggested to us by a couple different people. Although it wasn't bad, the place was too clean for us. Not hole-in-the-wall enough, I guess.

But those hole-in-the-wall desires were fulfilled on Saturday when we went to Chunju Han-il Kwan for budaejjigae (basically a huge stew of kimchi, vegetables, rice cake, spam, and hot dogs). It was AWESOME! I had budaejjigae once in New York, and it cost about $25 for the pot, which I assumed was an inflated New York City price. But it was still $25 in LA--isn't that a bit steep for a pot of kimchi, hot dogs, and spam?? C'mon, this is supposed to be peasant food! Oh, and the buchaejun there was also a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Despite the cost--I think I'll be going back there. Honey Pig, probably not.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

more notes on driving in LA

1. LA has a weird combination of really timid conservative drivers mixed with some overly aggressive crazies, which makes for all kinds of aggravating driving conditions.

2. If you drive in the left lane, you'll probably get stuck behind a car trying to make a left. If you drive in the right lane, you'll probably get stuck behind a car parked on the curb.

3. There's lots of big cars here. Not just SUVs, but pickup trucks and the like. And lots of fancy cars, of course.

4. Despite the lack of left turn signals and lanes, people do not pull up into the box to make the turn during the yellow. What's wrong with them?! I had to wait four full rounds of the traffic light to make a left at Sunset and Vine because of that.

5. No matter how far out into the boonies/mountains you're driving in California, you'll never be out of reach of an evangelical Christian radio station and a Spanish-speaking radio station.