As you may have noticed, I switched back to my old Autumn theme that I created last year, mostly because this blog was way overdue for a change… and especially since it is the prime season for this warm-toned look (plus, this design received many glowing compliments that made me geekily blush).

Since it’s so easy to change (bless this CSS), I may come up with a new look for the winter time. I dunno. As Mike has mentioned before, blogs tend to look too much like… blogs (and his current design does a wonderful job at looking non-bloggish). I may want to try something different. Then again, the standard blog look does let you know what you are looking at right off the bat.

A blog is a blog is a blog.

Anyway, I also added a feed from my Flickr page onto my sidebar, in hopes that I will be sharing more pictures with you all. Yes, I do have a couple of separate galleries that pretty much encompass all of my picture taking, but I am hoping to put my favorites up on Flickr.

I have also been barraged by a whole boatload of comment spam over the last week, that pushed me over the edge… over 5,000 of them in a matter of days! I had to take new measures to ensure this does not happen again (other than just depending on mt-blacklist): I installed mt-close2 to give me the ability to close comments on older entries (with flexibility), since most of the spam seems to be created on these older posts.

The sheer numbers of comment spam has really distracted me from paying attention to the real comments on this site (and even from making new entries!), so hopefully things will be back to normal soon enough.

Have a great long weekend!

BND '04

The time is approaching quickly, and amidst all the craziness of this month, I almost forgot…

For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate — in the doomsday economy, the marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that’s become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop.

This Friday, 26 November 2004, is Buy Nothing Day. To many people, this day is often considered the biggest shopping day of the year. Those in retail call it “Black Friday””.

Here are my entries on BND for 2003 and 2002 (#2). Maybe you’ll find some inspiration.

Stepping out of the consumer stream, for even 24 hours, is a fascinating personal experiment. Will you react with Zen-like calm or panic? Will there be withdrawal, anxiety, an epiphany? Can you holdout? Can you remember? People tell of strange and wondrous, mind journeys when they close their wallets, ditch consumer culture and the daily routine.

What I usually do is try to get outside and take a hike out in the woods, far far away from the bustling shopping malls, maddening crowds and frustrating traffic. I highly recommend doing so, it’s actually quite therapeutic.

You can also find and participate with some BND activist groups:

  • Find a local Jammer Group on Adbusters
  • Culture Jammers on Tribe.net
  • BND Yahoo Group
  • Caring Consumers on LJ.

Please feel free to share any more related groups in the comments.

Their tag line says it best: Participate By Not Participating. There are plenty of ideas at the official site, and it’s a great place to start.

What will you be doing for BND?

Les Halles

Today, I braved the inclement weather with my good friend Michelle, and we once again went to see another “celebrity chef” over at Sur La Table in Santana Row.

The reason I enclose those words in quotation marks is because the fellow we went to see today, I don’t think he likes to be referred to as a celebrity… or at least, he really does not act like one.

I speak of one Anthony Bourdain. I became a fan of Tony Bourdain a few years ago after reading his book Kitchen Confidential, which is a great, gritty and real look into the culinary world (highly recommended, would do business with again, A++++). I had been eyeing the book for a while, when, seemingly reading my mind, my good friend Toni sent it to me as a gift. I was delighted when he landed his own show on Food Network, entitled A Cook’s Tour. The premise of this show was following Tony around the world, searching out eclectic local foods. It was an awesome fusion of travel and food programming that made a seemingly perfect television show (to me, at least)… honest and compelling, unlike what the networks seem to call “Reality Television” these days. It was refreshing to see a show like this.

Bourdain also published a book based on the show, naturally of the same name, recounting his experiences of travelling the world over a period of two years in search of the perfect meal. I think I do like the book a bit more than the show, for the reasons of the book being a more personal account of his experiences. Plus, he’s a damn fine writer. I haven’t read his string of fiction novels, but I am certainly compelled to pick one up.

So yes, back to today’s events.

Today was a special day because we actually got to see Tony cook. Yes, you heard (read?) me right. It’s kind of a rare thing to see him cook. As Alton Brown said in a Q&A earlier this year, when asked if he was given the keys to Food Network, “I’d produce more documentaries and specials and I’d make Tony Bourdain actually cook something on television, by force if necessary.”

This was also an excuse for me to pick up a copy of Bourdain’s new cookbook, Les Halles Cookbook, to learn a bit more about French cooking (it’s not as fancy as it seems, as a matter of fact, it’s simple and down to earth) and of course, to get his name scribbled in sharpie inside. I have not been to the restaurant of the same name that he is executive chef at, but I would love to. The closest I think I got to real French food was at Mon Ami Gabi, located at Paris Las Vegas (which, according to Kevin, who lived in France for a spell, was pretty authentic).

Oh yeah, here’s the obligatory posed photo:
Courtney, Michelle & Tony Bourdain

During his cooking demo, Bourdain expressed his strong opinions on american foods (Kraft Singles are NOT cheese), other celebrity chefs (“He needs more than a catchphrase. He used to be a good cook.”) and the state of food-oriented television programming (he’s sad about the shape it has taken, very plain vanilla).

Curiously (okay, not really, based on his opinions), Food Network isn’t rotating A Cook’s Tour in their schedule as of late. We were informed today that he is supposedly going to continue his culinary adventures on the Travel Channel come next month! Yay!

Man, this sounded like one big promotional piece. But it isn’t, I swear! I guess it shows how enthusiastic I am for Bourdain and his work. I thanked him today for “Keeping it real”. Celebrity chefs needs someone like him amongst them to keep it real these days.

That all said, I’mma makin’ us some Boeuf Bourguignon tomorrow.

the squirrel made me do it

Okay, you guys. You talked me into it.

Official NaNoWriMo 2004 Participant


Being at the blog meetup last night and being the only one that wasn’t writing a novel, well, kinda pushed me a bit.

Be entertained by my disorganization! Watch me flail around without a real plot or characters! See me start two days late with no idea of what I’m doing! Shake your fist at me for posting even fewer blog entries!

I figure it’ll be more fun this way. Yes, I have a sadistic idea of what “fun” can be. It’s also good for me to do to take my mind off of current events.

My novel (pun intended) concept? “Yet Another Teen Novel”. I am also taking inspiration from my hobby of Found Objects. Heck, I may even integrate a few of said objects.

My first day, I’m at 2,016 words as of this posting. I have a lot to do.


I’m sure there is enough of this all over the blogosphere, but I’m too full of emotions that I just need to vent. I’m disappointed yet amazed at the results of this election. I am in utter disbelief, but the results are in.

So what happens now? We’ve re-elected the president whose campaign has been based on fear and lies. It sickens me to think that we will have to endure four more years of this.

Maybe President Bush can prove me wrong. I sure hope so. For the good of our country, I wish so.

There is definitely a lot of sadness in our nation today, and thankfully, not a lot of violence (although there is some anger). But we’re stuck with the monkey for another term, we have to learn to deal with it, and god forbid, make the best of it.

Some people say that America has spoken; that the voices of our nation have been heard (direct quote heard on the news today). IMHO, only 51% of America has spoken and been heard… I think the rest of us are still kicking and screaming, and it is far from over. We have not been heard. Our nation is split, and we need to be brought back together. How, I do not know.

In Mr. Kerry’s speech this afternoon, he has instilled a glimmer of hope in his supporters by trying to inspire us to continue to fight for what we believe in.

“Today, I hope we can begin the healing.” I wish I could be as optimistic as he. Maybe in due time, I don’t know.

I did not find myself comforted by Bush’s victory speech at all.

The worst thing we can say right now is “I Hate America” and “I Hate Ohio” (both sentiments I’ve heard multiple times today). If we’re truly Americans, we shan’t be so harsh, and we should try to move on the best way we can. We love our country, so we can’t let it continue to go down in flames.

Come on America, we have a lot of work to do.