Archive for the 'Los Angeles' Category

Married to Sapna

I got married to Sapna this morning at Santa Ana Courthouse. I’m pretty happy about that. We do have a much bigger and fancier wedding planned for 3 April next year but since I’m leaving my job at ICANN, and since we really didn’t want to spend alot of time apart, we decided we needed to get married earlier so we can go through the American visa system with the minimum of mishap.

Anyway, it was sort-of the perfect wedding – small, simple, relaxed. Just a shame my family couldn’t make it – although we did have my mum and dad on the phone at the lecturn. So for anyone interested, here are snaps of the day, followed by a lunch and little ceremony we had at Sapna’s aunt’s house nearby. And below that is a video of the civil ceremony itself.

And here’s a video of the civil ceremony.

Sunset in Venice

One of the bizarre but wonderful things about living in Los Angeles is that when all your friends are freezing cold or trapped under the snow in January, you get to walk in the sun and witness the most extraordinary sunsets.

Last night I saw the makings of an extraordinary sunset and jumped on my bike to Venice to get some snaps. Here’s one and under that, a Flickr feed of the rest:

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Satriani vs Coldplay: court docs and audio links

So British superband of the moment Coldplay is being sued in Los Angeles for plagiarising guitarist Joe Satriani in their hit Viva la Vida. Joe says that the song – also the title of Coldplay’s fourth album “incorporated substantial, original portions of Plaintiff’s composition ‘If I Could Fly‘.”

Read the actual court document detailing the case against Coldplay here.

The court docs were filed last week – 4 December – and so of course, the Internet being the extraordinary global gossip network that it is, the story has swamped a million blogs and newspapers. Joe has done an interview with Music Radar saying that it “felt like a dagger went right through my heart” when he first heard Coldplay’s composition. Following the media frenzy, Coldplay has responded with a note on its website saying “if there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental” and asking that Joe “respectfully accept our assurances” that they didn’t rip him off.

Something that always bugs me about stories covering lawsuits is that media outlets never provides links the documents themselves, so I thought I’d fix that and go grab the docs and post them here.

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Credit Score 742: The United States finally welcomes me (and my money)

It’s a funny thing living in the United States of America as a visa holder. As neither citizen nor green card possessor, you are an “alien” or, more accurately, a “legal alien”.

This no-man’s-land status brings with it certain absurdities. When I arrive back from a trip abroad, for example, I am questioned as if it’s the first time I’ve ever been here. The best part is when I am asked where I reside. Clearly, I live in the US. I have a one-year lease on a property here. But due to my status, I have to pretend that I actually live in the UK and this is like a really long holiday.

The worst part of living in America as a legal alien though is the loops you have to jump through when you first arrive. I meant to write a post about this back in December – eight months ago and two months after I’d arrived – but the whole thing was so dreadful I couldn’t muster the energy.

Here is but one example.

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Earthquake: 5.4

I’ve just been through my first earthquake experience. I was on the phone and the building started swaying. It was perfectly quiet and nearly not noticeable. But as soon as you notice it – probably one or two seconds – it consumes your attention. The building continued rolling and swaying (apparently many of the anti-earthquake LA buildings are on big rollers) for about 30 seconds and then it settled.

I thought it was relatively small but according to this official site, earthquake ci14383980 was a 5.4 Richter quake (originally pegged at 5.8) with the epicenter about a half-hour’s drive inland (at the edge of what Los Angelenos called, for some peculiar reason, the “Inland Empire”). People’s reactions were interesting. Some were excited, some a little nervous. It was very clear however who has experienced some of the big ones though.

I only got a taster for what a big earthquake might feel like, but I can imagine that if the frequency of the shaking had increased – and not necessarily by much – it would very rapidly have gone from an interesting Tuesday event to distinctly worrying.

Too much bloody work

It’s been six weeks since I last posted here. That can’t be good. And I have a ton of stuff to get out of my mind through my fingers. The one-day trivia brain of Los Angelenos; the US presidential election process; the insane bureaucracy and mind-control of this peculiar and remarkable country. Plus, lots of pics – some with world famous stars of the screen. And the tale of trying to get hold of my possessions after 16 weeks now.

Why is this material still in my brain and not on the page? Because of work. Too much work. Far too much work. This job is a constant invitation to burn-out. I think it is the three international meetings a year that is what really makes the workload impossible: there is never more than a week in which you can get on with all those things that need quiet periods to get done. I thank god that the cycle ride home (along the beach – it’s nice, even in crap weather) is 35 minutes. It’s the one conscious hour of the day I can’t be at my laptop. Although I did take two phonecalls on my way in this morning. How long before I’m balancing the Dell on my handlebars, trying to pick up WiFi signals from the beach houses?

Still, I’m going to Delhi in a week’s time. It’ll mean 37 hours in economy there and back (I’ll be in London, Paris and Vienna briefly if anyone desperately wants to meet up), but I should have time to go see the Taj Mahal at some point. And I’ve always fancy seeing that and India. The urge to take off a month and travel the sub-continent is pretty intense, I have to say. Anyway, more work, then sleep, then more work…

Wednesday morning dawning

There are some advantages to not being able to sleep – you get to catch the sunrise in my new flat on Santa Monica beach.

Wednesday morning dawning

Wet veg, everlasting salads and other mysterious secrets of the American supermarket

The organic food-market is an extraordinary thing. Supermarkets always claim to be providing what their customers want, and so since a large number of people are growing increasingly concerned about the chemicals shoved willy-nilly into our food, supermarkets provide organic food.

But you know their hearts aren’t in it. All the mass-produced, completely supply-reliable, unrottable, choose-your-shade-of-green foodstuffs that the multi-nationals supply them with make supermarkets’ lives much, much easier. And so supermarkets cheer themselves up by ripping off organic customers, charging an even greater mark-up on organic produce, and making their mass-produced products look more and more like the organic versions.

In the UK you can tell organic food because it looks weird. All bumpy, misshapen and vaguely threatening. It’s been pulled out the ground for chrissake. No beauty competitions underground, believe you me. As we speak, the chemical maniacs that produce most of our food are inventing new fertilisers that distort vegetables sufficiently to pass the ugly test but still just creep in under legal toxicity limits.

So I thought organic food would take the same design in the United States. But no. In the US, organic food still has to look as if it is an Oscar nominee and has been in make-up all morning. The crucial differentiator in the US is: organic food comes dripping wet.

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The secret of American bacon

I have just discovered how Americans have their bacon the way they do.

I hate the way Americans have their bacon – crisp and brittle. Thin strips that crumble and snap and taste like a bacon crisp (sorry, potato chip). But up until this morning I had no idea how they managed to make it like that. I’ve cooked alot of bacon in my time, have never got close to producing the same texture, no matter what cut I’ve used.

The answer, which you won’t be surprised to hear, is fat. I bought some Oscar Mayer Hearty Thick Cut Bacon. The “hearty” means fatty. Unbelievably fatty. It’s streaky bacon and about two-thirds of it is fat. I fried this without oil and butter, and you would not *believe* the amount of fat that came out of it. Anyway, that’s the thing – cooking this very fatty bacon in a ton of fat is what causes it to crisp up and become brittle. So now you know.

Incidentally, fat is the answer to another food riddle, namely: how do Chinese takeaways get their chicken so squidgy? If you cook strips of chicken normally, they become quite firm but in Chinese food it is soft and almost rubbery. The answer: cook it in a ton of oil.

I wonder where I can buy better cuts of bacon…