Sunday, May 31, 2009

The L Word

The championship that the NBA and most of the world wanted to see won't be happening. The Nike puppet commercials might have jinxed the "dream championship matchup" - instead of Kobe vs Lebron, its going to be The Black Mamba vs Superman....*yawn* Don't get me wrong, the Orlando Magic deserve their just due, they beat Lebron James in 1 on 5 basketball (despite the phantom liberal foul calls). Lebron learned the same thing Michael Jordan learned against the Detroit Piston: he needs role playing players (Ho Grant / Rodman - rebounds, Paxson / Hodges / Kerr - 3 point specialists, Cartwright / Longley / Wennington - useless big men to hack quality centers) and a viable second scoring option (Pippen / Kukoc). Here's the question on my mind, will Shaq show up wearing an Orlando Magic jersey to the Finals?

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pumpkin Soup Recipe

I first had pumpkin soup at my uncle's house for Thanksgiving. He got the recipe from Food Network's Rachel Ray (who I've never liked or respected - her voice and non-creativity kill me). I was never a "soup person" but this soup is to die for - I've even taken the liberty of playing with the ratios (I add more pumpkin puree for thickness, add more hot sauce/pepper, and alternate a red onion instead of 2 stalks of celery). Enjoy and try not to be a soup nazi.

1 - Yellow Onion
1 - Red Onion
160z - Heavy Cream
48oz - Trader Joe's Chicken Broth
2 - Cans of Pumpkin Puree (15oz each)
1 Tablespoon - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons - Butter
2 Teaspoons - Poultry Seasoning
3 Tablespoons - All-Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons - Hot Sauce
12 - Martin's Potato Bread Dinner Rolls
Salt and Pepper

1) Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium high heat.
2) Add the oil and melt the butter.
3) Add the onions, season them with salt and pepper in the pot, and cook 6 or 7 minutes until tender.
4) Add flour, poultry seasoning, and hot sauce.
5) Pour in chicken broth and bring liquid to a bubble.
6) Add pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth.
7) Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit and then add heavy cream.
8) Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are you a Fangbanger?

A fangbanger is a human that has sex with a vampire and lets them feed off of them. I recently pulled a marathon session and watched the first season of HBO's True Bloodjust to see what all the hype was about (the series is based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series.)Don't get me wrong: it was good, but it wasn't "can't miss TV" good. Its full of gratuitous nudity, clever puns (vampire rights movement in the South?), and interesting flawed characters (Tara, Lafayette, and Jason), but the writing seems a bit hokie and forced at times (Sookie makes me cringe with her "can't we all just get along" attitude). Does anyone else laugh when their fangs pop out like switchblades? I've liked vampires since Lost Boys and Fright Night, but I think I'm more of a zombie fan.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

I try to read as much about personal finance as possible - call it a weird hobby. I became interested in the topic when I was $50,000 in debt ($25K credit card debt and $25K student loan debt). Back then, I was eating out all the time, buying things I didn't need (pool table, candles from the Yankee Candle Company, etc.), and I was in a rush to have my own apartment after graduating from college (new furniture and groceries add up when your APR is 16.9%). After educating myself, playing the transfer balance game properly, and after a lot of sacrificing, I was about to get out of debt in 5 years.

I recently read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and it was one of the best Personal Finance books I have ever read. Ramit Sethi is the co-founder of PBwiki and has a blog by the same name as his book Although I didn't learn anything (I'm a self proclaimed expert on debt and budgeting), its a great intro book for those new to the topic, people in debt who realize its time to get out, and college students who recently graduated. The book is easy to read (no boring financial jargon), the author has a sense of humor, and he does not talk down to the reader. Here are a few of the topics covered in the book:
  • Actual scripts that you can use with your credit card company to negotiate a lower APR or your bank to waive overdraft fees (this alone will more than pay for the price of the book in minutes)
  • Opening up an online savings account through ING Direct or HSBC (no maintenance fees, the highest interest rates, and you can set up automatic savings)
  • Automating your financial life: automatic bill paying and setting up savings plans for vacations, your wedding, and Christmas
  • Taking advantage of your employer's 401K plan and how/when to set up a Roth IRA
  • Picking the right credit card reward program

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Running of the Bulls

After weeks of research, I decided on Spain for my summer vacation. I'll be going to Madrid, Barcelona, and I'm flirting with going to Pamplona for the San Fermin Festival (to run with the bulls). The reason why I'm flirting with Pamplona is because most of the rooms are sold out, the available rooms are going for $300-$600 at hotels where Norman Bates might have retired to, and I'll be running alone (the logistics of meeting up with the girlfriend afterwards are going to be next to impossible with the crowds).

I'm looking forward to the tapas / paella, drinks (cava and authentic sangria), flamenco shows, bullfighting, and taking in the scenery. I'm sure I can used to the laid back atmosphere, siestas, dinner at 10pm, and partying the night away like a rockstar.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Good Girls Gone Bad

Last week, nude pics of Cassie (singer of "You and Me" and P Diddy's ex-girlfriend) were "circulated" by a hacker. Topless pics surfaced of Carrie Prejean (Miss California USA), jeopardizing her runner-up status. Then nude pics of Rihanna were allegedly leaked by a mysterious source. Now, there is a sex tape featuring Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander (winner of Flavor of Love and I Love Money). Do this many celebrities have skeletons in their closet or are they all shameless publicity stunts? Taking a look at the most famous sex tapes (Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian), it does wonders for your career if you're talentless - I guess thats the point....

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Being Manny

I guess its more of Manny being Manny. Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for a banned substance: HCG (a female fertility drug). HCG is used to restart the body's ability to produce testosterone and used by steroid users at the end of a steroid cycle. Manny claims that it was prescribed to him for a "personal health issue" and that he had passed 15 drug tests in the past. C'mon Manny! Should we applaud drunk drivers who kill innocent people for not drunk drunking in the past? Are there any "heroes" left in baseball anymore? Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and now Manny. Who's next? Albert Pujols? Ryan Howard? Here's my solution: instead of there being an American League and National League, they should have a Juice League and a Non-Juice League. Juice League players would all make the league minimum ($400,000), they would get 2 outs per inning, and have their own record book. We'll see how quickly players would be jumping onto the juice bandwagon.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I've Died and Gone to Yankee Stadium

I finally made it out to Yankee Stadium and the baseball gods scorned me for going to Citi Field's Opening Day (my game was delayed for 1 1/2 hours and then postponed). Since I got to the Stadium at 10:30am, I had plenty of time to walk around and explore. There were no climate controlled seats, refrigerated cup holders, plasmas over each urinal, or an EZ-Pass entrance, but here is what I noticed:
  • The entry concourse is impressive with banners of Yankee greats in black and white on one side and color on the other side
  • The food selection is pretty diverse: Nathan's hot dogs, Brother Jimmy's BBQ, Hard Rock Cafe, Johnny Rockets, NYY Steak, Mohegan Sun Bar, Boar's Head Deli, Garlic Fries, Lobel's Steak Sandwiches, Mexican food, Famiglia Pizza, sushi, and noodles
  • The lines for concessions and the men's bathroom are considerably shorter (the urinals are now wall to wall - in the old Stadium people always threatened to use available sinks/garbage cans)
  • The dimensions remain the same and the seat size / legroom have improved
  • Monument Park is supposedly open throughout the game (but closed during rain delays)
The new stadium is a definite upgrade, but I can't see where they spent $1.5B - its the 2nd most expensive stadium after Wembley.

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