Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Artisanal cheese makers in America are developing new varieties of an old classic---Blue Cheese. Simultaneously creamy, crumbly, sweet and salty, these new blues are anything but an acquired taste. They're sophisticated and nuanced but still accessible. You can eat them on a cracker or showcase them in recipes, and always you get unique flavor, mellow but sharp, with all the hallmarks of a superb Burgundy. Aficionados delight in finding hints of berries and caramel and hazelnuts in a single buttery bite. These new blues are American to the nubby core and they're racking up awards. These are blues that hold up against or even surpass the European classics.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A mountain three-stories tall and covered with wildlife rises in the distance. Trees flame in autumn reds and yellows. Trout swim in a pond at the foot of a cascading stream. The geese appear to be headed for a landing and a bull moose is frozen in a grazing posture, its mouth biting down on grass. In the distance two shooting galleries add a carnival feel to the scene---plus an archery range for those who want to tune up for deer season. Oh yes, there's a store down there too. That's the point after all, and it cannot be missed. More than three football fields of retail acreage---185,000 square feet---sprawl across a prairie-sized main floor. This is Cabela's, a multimillion-dollar vision of the future of the outdoors.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Mystic, the historic seaport, was founded in the 1600's and was a center for shipbuilding in the age of wooden sailing ships and iron men. Between 1784 and 1919, more than 600 ships were built here on the banks of the Mystic River. But steam replaced sail, and steel replaced wood. Mystic residents have sought to preserve the region's maritime culture and have created a museum with functioning shipbuilding shops where craftsmen still use 19th century tools. However, the big attraction here is the ships---the L. A. Dunton, Joseph Conrad and the Charles W. Morgan which are tied up in berths. Mystic Seaport is an anachronism in an age of touch-screens and interactive videos. There is nothing virtual about this reality: the noisy boat building in the shops, the tall ships that visitors clamber aboard and the salt cod, its scent carried on the wind.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
New Jersey is attempting to improve its image by coming up with a new motto. The public was invited to send in suggestions and here's a sampling: 1) New Jersey---You Got a Problem With That ? 2) N J -- How You Doin' ? 3) Most of Our Elected Officials Have Not Been Indicted. It is rumored that California is planning to adopt this plan and pick five prospective mottos and then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can call a special election to vote on them.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Irked by a reporter who told him he seemed to be "off his game" at a public appearance in Beijing, President Bush sought to make a hasty exit from a news conference but was thwarted by locked doors. The reporter asked, "Respectfully, sir---you know we're always respectful---in your statement this morning with President Hu, you seemed a little off your game, you seemed to hurry through your statement. There was a lack of enthusiasm. Was something bothering you?" The President responded: "Have you ever heard of jet lag? Well, good. That answers your question." Later, when the reporter asked if he could have a very quick follow-up, Bush cut him off by thanking the press corps and telling the reporter, "No, you may not," as he strode toward a set of double doors leading out of the room. The only problem was that they were locked. Bush quipped, "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work."
When auto-makers rolled out the first hybrid cars, drivers who wanted their spectacular fuel economy had to settle for weird shapes and a lack of luxury options. But there are those who believe consumers shouldn't have to choose between performance and efficiency. At San Diego State, engineering professor Jim Burns led a student team that built the Enigma shown above. It's a diesel hybrid convertible that goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds while getting 80 mpg. Burns, who says he would consider marketing Enigmas for $60,000 apiece if he could get 1,000 orders, says it will take flash, not just good mileage, to make the public fall in love with hybrids.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Southern California is the car world's crystal ball: Home to the most advanced car-design studios in the country, it's the place all the big carmakers look when they want to see the future. And, indeed, the entries in the second annual Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge are plenty futuristic-looking. The competition gives 10 studios the chance to pursue far-flung ideas without worrying about budgets and other mundane realities. For example, the Maybach California Gourmet Tourer, shown in the picture above, employs GPS guidance to chauffeur the wine connoisseurs who will be clinking glasses in the seating area in back. Of course, the most intriguing entry is Honda's Running Bus, a hybrid that would be powered by the feet of passengers, jogging on side-by-side treadmills. In Southern California, world leader in both gridlock and gym memberships, this is probably the most plausible design in the entire competition, even if it does recall the foot-powered Flintstones car. Yubba dubba do !!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
The Doo Dah Parade which has aptly been described as "a cross between The Little Rascals and a Fellini movie," started in 1978 as a good-natured spoof of the annual Rose Bowl Parade and is famous for its novel and off-beat entries such as the Synchronized Briefcase Marching Drill Team shown in the picture above. This zany extravaganza will take place Nov. 20 in Pasadena, CA. Candidates for queen include: 1) Naughty Mickey, a sword swinging dominatrix, 2) Officer Kelley, a cross-dressing nurse/policeman, 3) A blow-up doll brought by someone who calls himself Hollywood Divine, 4) Princess Mia, who dresses like a bee and buzzes around the stage, 5) Sheila, Queen of the Jungle, who does bird sounds, 6) The Swami from El Monte, who works with snakes but does not make snake sounds. Sounds like a good old-fashioned, down home parade, doesn't it ??
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Topless women holding a protest may be ho-hum in San Francisco, but at the state Capitol, police say such a display could corrupt children, prompt drivers to veer off the road and cause sex offenders to run amok. Police have warned members of an organization called Breasts Not Bombs that if they dare to take their shirts off during a protest scheduled at the Capitol on Monday, they will be arrested and possibly forced to register with the state as sex offenders. A federal judge said the state has every right to arrest them.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Colorado voters apparently decided that "we have met the enemy and he is us," to quote a philosophical cartoon possum named POGO. A majority voted Tuesday to suspend strict state spending limits that Coloradans themselves approved 13 years ago. They were fed up with its consequences: underfunded schools, eroded public healthcare, neglected roads and a stagnant business climate.
With a governor and a Legislature incapable of honestly balancing the budget, California today is in a situation similar to Colorado's in 1992, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants voters to enact Proposition 76. The latest Times Poll shows that a substantial majority of likely voters doesn't favor the constitutional spending limit, which would reduce the rate of increase in school spending and could put higher education, state parks and public health disproportionately under the ax in a downturn. At least voters, to their credit, seem ready to call a halt to this madness of governing by ballot initiative. (Let's hope so) The Colorado vote should only strengthen their resolve. (Excerpts from a Los Angeles Times editorial dated 11/4/05)