Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reno 911 - I Won the Lotto!

video

I received this video from a co-worker (thanks Kevin!). It's from Comedy Central's Reno 911 (Season 5) and it's absolutely hilarious. Some of the officers thought they won the lottery and came into work the next day. Feel free to share the video with friends via email or Facebook through the Share button below. Warning: the video contains Adult Language.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu = 28 Days Later?

Whenever 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, I Am Legend, or any of the Resident Evil movies are on cable, I stop everything I'm doing and watch. I don't know why I like the post apocalyptic genre so much - maybe its the same reason I like camping (the whole survival element). I've read Stephen King's The Stand and Cormac McCathy's The Road - both were a bit overrated, but they did provide a "How To" manual on surviving and human nature's true colors.

If you turn on the news or cnn.com, the latest health scare is Swine Flu. Before that it was Salmonella (peanuts), E. Coli (green onions), Avian Flu, SARS, Anthrax, and Mad Cow. What is Swine Flu you ask? It's a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and is now affecting humans. People are in a frenzied panic because it has killed hundreds of young adults in Mexico and has been found in Canada, Spain, and the U.S. (20 new cases were already found in New York City). What makes the virus so scary is that it keeps mutating, making it harder to have a vaccine for. So what should you do? Lock yourself up in a mall with other survivors, build a fortified bus, and try to find a secluded island. If that doesn't work, stock up on supplies, find yourself a German Shephard named Sam, and make sure to be home before sundown when the infected come out. Or you could wake up from a coma, find other survivors, get to a military outpost, and wait to be rescued.



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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Not You, It's Me

After rating 952 movies/TV shows, I suddenly hit a wall and started scraping the bottom of the barrel. Netflix was great when I caught up on classic shows from the very beginning: The Wire, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Lost, 24, The Shield, and Grey's Anatomy. I watched a number of great foreign films that I had never even heard of: City of God, Amelie, Amorres Perros, etc. I was a member since 2004 and have never had an issue with Netflix: I've only received 1-2 scratched DVDs in a 5 year period, DVDs always arrived within a day, new movies were available right away, and they were tweaking their business model by making streaming movies available for free. My only complaint was that I ran out of good movies/TV shows to watch. I found myself watching some very questionable movies: Hannibal Rising, The Love Guru, The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor, and Tropic Thunder. With services like www.hulu.com and free DVD burning software available (www.dvdflick.net), Netflix became obsolete. I'm sorry Netflix, you did nothing wrong - it's not you, it's me....


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Caprese Salad Recipe

I learned to cook while in college using a lot of trial and error (crunchy rice vs soupy rice). I honed my skills by living on my own and cooking for friends. Here's a simple recipe that's quick and a sure crowd pleaser:

Ingredients
3 - Beefsteak Tomatoes
16oz - Trader Joe's Mozzarella Log (for slicing)
Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Crushed Pepper (from a peppermill)
Fresh Basil

Servings: 5-7 people

1) Cut each tomato into 5 slices (be sure to get rid of the stems/stumps)
2) Cut the mozzarella log into 15 slices and put them on top of the tomatoes
3) Ripe the basil leaves off of the vine and place them on top of the cheese
4) Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each serving
5) Crack fresh pepper and serve



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Cirque du Soleil's Kooza

I've been a fan of Cirque du Soleil since my first show (Varekai) in 2006. Since then I've been to Corteo, Wintuk, Ka, and most recently Kooza (currently on Randall's Island in NY from April 16-June 7). I'm usually a harsh critic and not easily impressed, but Kooza was the best Cirque du Soleil show I have ever seen. I loved Varekai (since it took my Cirque virginity), Corteo was good, and Wintuk and Ka were just ok. Since I belong to the Cirque Club, I get first shot at tickets before they are released to the general public (I bought my tickets in October). Here's what I loved most about Kooza (without any spoilers):
  • There were a lot of "Are you kidding me?" moments. The thing that made me fall in love with Cirque was all of the "high wire" and risky acts where you're holding breath and wondering if the person is going to live or die.
  • There was a great degree of difficulty with each act (I was very happy that there were no jugglers or Olympic floor exercises like previous shows). I respect things that I wouldn't be able to do with unlimited practice (imagine me contorting or walking on a tight rope).
  • The music was really hip - it sounded like a cross between The Roots and Chris Tucker's character in The Fifth Element.
  • The host and clowns spoke clear English - the prior shows seemed to incorporate a "jibberish" made-up language.
  • The costumes and the stage were visually stunning - the production crew is worth every penny.
  • The skits and audience participation were pretty funny.
The show gets an "A" in my book (despite the $25 parking which almost made me drive into the East River). Take your significant other and keep in mind that it'll make the perfect Mother's Day gift - I'm going to get tickets for my mom and make her a lifelong fan.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Citi Field: Putting Lipstick on a Pig

I grew up in the Bronx and was born and raised a New York Yankees fan (mainly by my grandfather and uncles). Sports allegiances are similar to prejudices and racism: they are taught at an early age, you are blindly conditioned to love your own, and hate the "enemy" (Red Sox and Mets) for no logical reason. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to Citi Field's Opening Day by one of my underwriters. I tried to reject the offer with every excuse in the book: I'm not a Mets fan, I live in NJ and it was a night game, and did I mention I wasn't a Mets fan? The thought of entering such a sacriligious place after being pre-conditioned to hate blue and orange, made me wonder if my grandfather would spin in his grave. After getting grief that the tickets were not costing me anything, that I was the first person he invited to go, that it was a hard to get ticket, and it was a "historical moment", I decided to go. Here are a couple of my observations:
  • Its much nicer than its ugly minor league looking predecessor (Shea Stadium), however people are over exaggerating how wonderful it is. There's still a 20 minute wait for the bathroom / beer / food, a few stadium lights need replacing, and the jumbotron and scoreboard already have blown bulbs.
  • The urinals are "green" and do not use water to flush. Be careful washing your hands because the sinks blast you with hot water.
  • Its going to be harder to hit home runs - we watched Beltran and Wright blast balls to center (408 ft) and right center (415 ft) where the wall's height can hit 20 feet in some areas.
  • Its still in the middle of no where - a lovely train yard.
  • Its still the lowly Mets playing - the same franchise that won a World Series because a ball passed between someone's legs and have squandered a divisional lead in the last month (two years in a row). They even lost their Opening Day game by balking home the winning run.


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Monday, April 13, 2009

White Peach Sangria Recipe

I've been making sangria since I hosted Thanksgiving in 2007. I've experimented with different fruits (oranges, strawberries, apricots, etc), with and without club soda, and different juice to liquor ratios. Here's my own recipe - enjoy!

Ingredients
1 - bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
12oz - Stolichnaya Vodka
8oz - Ocean Spray White Peach Cranberry Juice
8oz - Trader Joe's Peach Dixie Juice (or Tropicana Orange Juice)
4oz - Sugar
2 - peaches
1 - apple
1 - can of pineapples chunks
12 - ice cubes

Servings: 6-8 servings


1) Cut the fruits into the size of dice
2) Soak the fruits in 10oz of vodka for 24 hours (so the fruits absorb the vodka and the vodka takes on the taste of the fruit)
3) Add a bottle of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc to the fruits/vodka (Riesling is another alternative, but it doesn't have as much alcohol %)
4) Add the white peach cranberry and orange juice
5) Stir sugar in and make sure it dissolves
6) Add ice and serve


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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Books

Here is a list of my Top 5 Favorite Books. My book tastes are all over the place - from finance/business self help (Timothy Ferriss, Suze Orman, Napoleon Hill, Millionaire Mind) to fantasy (Harry Potter series) to mysteries (Dennis Lehane, Agatha Christie).

1) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: is the best book I have ever read. I was a bit skeptical before I read it. I figured: what would I have in common with a story about 2 boys growing up in Afghanistan? The book provides a historical perspective of Afghanistan before and after Taliban rule and examines the spectrum of human nature (unconditional love, loyalty, fear, cruelty, self preservation). It has a little bit for everyone: history, romance, and a story with enough twists that make it hard to put down.

2) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: the book is well worth all of the hype it received. Before I read it, I read all of his other stuff first (Angels and Demons is actually the first book in the Robert Langdon series). The book opens up with a murder and follows Langdon (a famous symbologist) as he tries to unravel the mystery through religious cover-ups and secret societies. You know a book is great when it has an impact on people's religious beliefs by mixing fact and fiction. It is an "edge of your seat" thriller which keeps you hanging on each chapter.

3) The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: this book is cut from the same cloth as Sun Tzu's Art of War and Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. It is a how to guide (of sorts) on how to be successful in life by using historical examples. The first 3 laws in the book: Never Outshine the Master, Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends & Learn How to Use Enemies, and Conceal your Intentions. Its a cynical book, but it has some pretty good life applications.

4) The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss: Neil Strauss (Rolling Stone writer and author) follows and lives with a pick-up artist (Mystery) to learn the "art of picking women up". The book discusses Mystery's Method of picking up women: I.O.I.'s (Indicators of Interest), DHV (Demonstrations of Higher Value), befriending men within a group of women (so everyone lowers their guard), and using Negs (back handed compliments to break the ice). Mystery later got a reality show on VH-1 called The Pickup Artist where he teaches socially awkward guys to pick up women.

5) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: I read this book (along with Life of Pi) because Amazon suggested it as a book purchased by people who also purchased Kite Runner. The book is a mystery written from the point of view of an autistic teenager. The author conveys how it is to be autistic (missing social nuances, taking things literally, allowing colors to determine his mood, and preferring not to be touched) without being autistic himself. Its entertaining, insightful, and a quick read.


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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Cup of Tea


I've been drinking tea for the last 4 years. Before that, I always associated it with having a sore throat or being sick. My co-worker let me sample from his flavored green tea stash and I surprisingly enjoyed it. It packed a nice caffeine punch and its actually healthy for you (its one of the few things that I consume that are healthy for me). I experimented with a bunch of different teas from Lipton's Mixed Berry Green Tea to their Mandarin Green Tea (pyramid tea bags). My current favorite is Lipton's Bavarian Wild Berry -its black tea with pieces of fruit (apple, blackberry, blueberry, and black currant), rosehips (whatever those are), roasted chicory root, cinnamon bark, licorice root, and orange/ginger peels. It's definitely a must try.


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Monday, April 6, 2009

I Wish I Had More Hands

I've never been a fan of Starbucks - standing on long lines, using their jargon (tall/grande/venti), and paying $5 for a cup of overrated coffee is not my idea of fun. I recently received a Starbucks $50 Gift Card and thought it would be nice to have a Barnes & Noble date to research our vacation to Costa Rica. I ordered a medium white chocolate mocha (I refuse to use their jargon), small caramel frappachino, and a vanilla buttercream cupcake. Total: $9.64. I present my gift card and they tell me that they don't accept gift cards because "they only serve Starbucks coffee". Huh? In the immortal words of Rick James (from the Chappelle Show): I wish I had more hands....I'd give Starbucks two thumbs down. The worst part of the whole day was that I found out that July is considered the rainy season in Costa Rica - back to the drawing board.


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