Monday, June 28, 2010


At last! after all my years of searching. I have found yams!

Ok, fine, I just found yam powder. Still, it is the only form of yam regularly available in America so I am doing as well as can be expected.


I have discovered my block when it comes to writing yelp reviews. I was writing on subjects I know nothing about. Or more appropriately I don't care about them. I was writing about restaurants when really, there are only three or four restaurants I find special enough to rant about. I should be reviewing nurseries, pet stores, ethnic markets, state parks, and other such things.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Edible Leaves

Some nutritionists have made the argument that Americans should eat a lot more leaves. Since they have low Calorie densities and people seem to control the weight of food they eat better than the Calories this makes sense to me, although to this day nutrition seems governed mostly by fads so I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't hold up.

Still, this seemed overly restrictive to me. There are just not that many leaves sold in the super market. I rarely see a store with more than perhaps twenty. 

This seems to be more an issue with the supermarkets than the leaves though. There are literally hundreds of plants with edible leaves.

Being back in a place with a back yard means that I can finally garden, sort of. There is tons of empty concrete. So I could literally put fifty or more potted plants in the yard. So I have decided to grow plants based around the theme of edible leaves. 

Currently I have, or have ordered, seeds, or plants, of the following species:
Pineapple Sage
Basil-whatever generic type home depot has.
Basil, Thai Holy
Japanese Giant Red Mustard Greens
Sheep Sorrel
Pepper Cress
Vegetable Amaranth

I am looking for, or considering purchasing:
Bay Laural
Miner's Lettice
Anything else I can think of with edible leaves that is expensive, hard to find, or easy to grow in a pot.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Walking home

I had to rent a uhaul the other day. This lead to a few odd situations happening.

First, I found a cell phone in it. The battery was not yet dead, and I was about to drive to Corona, so I just turned it off put it in my pocket and went on with my day. I figured I would call them later.

Then, after unpacking in Corona, I was faced with the dilemma of how to get home. It was late and I needed to drop the uhaul off before work the next day. It opened at 7am, and I needed to leave for work at 7:20AM. The place was about a mile away from my old apartment. My car was at home. So, I was going to have to walk the distance once or rent it for another day. I determined that my best plan of action was to drop off the uhaul on the street next to the store, walk home, then drive to the shop the next morning and pay for it. There just wasn't enough time to walk home the next morning, and still get to work on time.

Next let me say a few things about Pico Rivera where I lived. It was the sort of town illegal immigrants congregate in. About 90% of the population is Hispanic, Spanish is almost a first language. Which is to say it is quite safe. Illegal immigrants are generally too afraid of getting kicked out of the country to commit any crime, and most of them come from quite peaceful places anyways. So, crime rates are about at the national average. However it is the sort of place that most white people avoid because it is different, and therefore I really stand out.

So, it is a bit past midnight and I am walking home. About half way I see a car right behind me slow down. Now, that has me a bit worried, I am along a major road and have never even witnessed a crime in my town but it is late at night. I half expect to see someone pull a gun on me. I turn my head to find a police car coming up next to me.

He asks me what I am doing. I try to explain that I needed to walk home from the uhaul place so I could drop it off in the morning. He says I am slurring my words and asks if I have been drinking or using drugs. I hadn't been, so I say no[upon further reflection, I am pretty confident that he tells everyone that in the hope they will confess something]. He asks me if I am carrying any weapons. I say no. He asks me if he can search me for weapons. I am dumb and say yes figuring that he will quickly go away.

He tells me to put my hands on the hood of the car. I am standing next to his car, and put my hands of the roof of the car. He repeats his command as if I am an idiot, and I walk forward to put my hands on the hood of the car. I suppose most of the people he stops know the drill.

He goes into my pockets and pulls out: a wallet; my giant set of keys, the keys to the uhaul, a garage door opener, the ID for my work, and three cell phones. Shit, the cell phone, I forgot I had property on me that wasn't mine!

I mention that I had found the one cell phone in the uhaul. The other was my work phone, and the iphone was my personal phone. I don't remember his comment, but it was something about me having a stolen phone on me. Now, he is sure he can get me on something. He has me put my hands behind my back, and get in the back seat of his car.

I probably should be freaking out right about now, but I find the whole situation hilarious. I don't think this helped me. As soon as he got me into the car he has me close my eyes for a moment, look at him, than open them into the flashlight. I guess I passed the sobriety test, because he just grabs my wallet from the hood of the car without saying anything and heads into the cab of the car.

He then starts going through the wallet. Takes my ID, and begins the process to search for any warrants out for me. He asks me to spell my last name, asks my address, and so on. I answer, than ask him if he can give me a ride home. That didn't go over too well, but didn't get more than a grunt of annoyance. Apparently the neighborhood isn't safe enough for me to walk in, but driving me a half mile is too much trouble for him.

He then goes to the hood of the car, and starts poking through the other stuff I had. The iphone was of particular interest. He again asked if it was mine, and started to poke through it. I have no idea what he did on it, but after a minute he put it back. Maybe there is a way to see who owns it, perhaps he just looked to see if the pictures were of me.

Next it is back to the cab, where he asks me where I work. I tell him the company name. He asks me what I do, I tell him I am an Engineer. He makes some smart ass comment about how unlikely an Engineer would be walking around Pico Rivera at 12:30 at night. I just smile and wait around to see what happens.

He returns to the hood of the car, and takes the cell phone he found in the uhaul. He asks me if this is the one I found in the uhaul. I tell him yes. He tells me to get my stuff, and walks back to his cab. He drives off without saying anything else, clearly convinced I was up to no good, and annoyed he couldn't find evidence worth arresting me for.

Anyways, I had not realized how aggressive police are in bad neighborhoods. In the future I shall only give police as much information as I am legally required. I had seen the video on why you should never talk to the police, and after that experience it makes a whole lot more sense to me. There is nothing to be gained in cooperation beyond what is legally required. If I have something so important to tell them, I will do so in writing, and probably through a Lawyer.

Water wings

Flotation devices for little kids are really dangerous. I saw a kid almost drown yesterday because of one. He had is water wings on, and had been swimming around the whole pool with them. He then jumped in, had his wings come off, and fortunately someone was paying enough attention to pull him out.

From watching later in the day, he obviously had an overprotective mom who almost certainly mandated the silly things thinking he would be safer. All this did though though was remove all fear of water in someone who can't yet swim. Few things are more dangerous than this.

Now if I could only talk Makayla out of her life jacket that her grandma has talked her into thinking she needs...

The End of Men

The Atlantic has a fairly entertaining article titled The End of Men. I must admit to having seen a lot of the trends they talk about. I rather suspect this is temporary, men will move into new industries and do just fine. However I am not entirely convinced. Society usually seems to have segregated sex roles to some degree or another. It wouldn't surprise me that much if so many women going to college and getting jobs gets that behavior labeled as girly.

I once joked with a female doctor I know that men were trying to set up the same sex roles as male lions. The hard part was convincing women they actually wanted to do all the crappy jobs we were stuck with, we seem to have done a pretty good job of that already though. Pretty soon we will be able to just sit around playing video games, confident in the knowledge our women will take care of us.

More seriously, this trend probably has helped me more than any other. It seems to me that being a good student has been labeled as girly, making dating while in school a whole lot harder for guys than girls. I could have had a much better late teens and early twenties joining the military, or trying to become a police officer or fire fighter. However having a good job is still considered masculine, so after you get through that hump dating gets a whole lot easier.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


A large percentage of the people I started Cornell with have just graduated, or will do so in the next few months. Since they have mostly got Engineering degrees I imagine they will survive this crazy job market. Still, reading articles about how bad the job market is for PhDs always makes me feel better about the whole thing. I certainly have known my share of PhDs from big schools who haven't done as well, although mostly this is people in the life sciences which are a bit of a trap.


One thing I regularly do is use the internet to choose things. reviews for example are the best source of information I have found on a huge range of products. Following this theme I recently started using as a way to find restaurants. So far it has proven one step up from randomly choosing based on signs, but nowhere near as good as reviews. Since it allows you to find the most popular places in any town it is worth looking at as a way to learn a neighborhood.

So I decided I would write reviews. I learned one thing, this is really hard. Most restaurants are more or less the same: You pay some cute girl to be really nice to you, and bring you really good food. They do so. You go home and wonder why you are getting fat. I kept going since I felt like I should improve the statistics of the site, but don't think I will be quitting my day job to review restaurants any time soon.