Who do we look like? (154th new thing).

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was playing on my computer, going through the pictures on my iPhoto database for any blog-worthy images when I noticed the “Faces” folder in the top left-hand corner of the window. I had heard about this ability for the software to recognize people in your photographs by facial cues and decided to try it out as my new activity on Day One Hundred Fifty-Four.

My dossier of people

Basically, the process goes like this: you tag subjects’ faces in various selected photographs and then the program searches the library for features that match. High-end technology there. Except that sometimes it got it wrong.

Not every man in my photo library looks like the preacher who married Shelley and Kenley. Seriously, Patrick, my dad, my brother, and generally any other white guy…the minister’s photo came up each time I tried to find the men in pictures.

And as for my own face, while the program managed to get it right most of the time, any other white girl who I happened to have a picture of would also be questioned. My friend Erin (who people have said I look like), the random girl at her wedding, Shelley, and even…and this was kind of funny…my brother. Maybe the facial recognition works considering we are siblings!

It really is quite unique to be able to find people in my thousands of pictures. However, I did find one important flaw in the program: it doesn’t recognize animals. I know, why should it, but I thought it was pretty funny tagging Murphy in all the photos I have of the pup and then seeing if maybe the program would get the idea. It didn’t.

"No matches found."


Day Forty-Six. The Real Life Beaches of Los Angeles County.

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

On Day Forty-Six, Shelley and Kenley took us to some LA beaches for the first time. We started out at Paradise Cove, noted for its million dollar trailer park, in Malibu. En route I decided to count the Priuses (Priui?) that I saw. Guess how many….do you have a number? Add about a hundred, because between Culver City and Malibu I counted one hundred thirty eight. Seriously.

138 Prius and 1 Dolorean

Paradise Cove Beach

Unfortunately, the brunch location on Shelley’s itinerary had switched over to their lunch menu by the time we sat down. We eased the pain of missing breakfast with a couple of brunchy type adult beverages (Mojito for me) and snacked on some fried appetizers while digging our feet into the sand (the restaurant’s patio was literally on the beach).  Next, we headed South where we lounged on a restaurant deck that featured big cushions (this is where we sat) overlooking the sea via a glass railing. It all felt so swank, and the crowd was very Eurotrash. We sat our drinks on a tray in the middle of the double bed sized cushion and all kind of formed a square about the perimeter of our area. Being the lone pale English girl, I opted for the one spot on our cushion under the shade of an adjoining umbrella.  With a refreshing breeze coming in off the ocean. I probably could have taken a nap on the restaurant bed thing.

Alas, we had more places to go, so we headed further back down the coast to the Santa Monica Pier, yet another new locale. The amusement park running down the pier was crowded with tourists and visitors. It kind of reminded me of the Spring Break destinations along the Florida or South Carolina coast, but there were fewer drunk teenagers and more families. I guess you could say it had a sort of funfare atmosphere.

Forgetting about Patrick’s intense fear of heights, we decided to take a ride on the iconic ferris wheel that jutted out over the water and provided vast ocean views. It was a nice, relaxing journey in a circle (for everyone except Patrick, I guess).

We also went to wine bar and had sushi for dinner that night, but I had actually done both of those before, although maybe not at those particular restaurants. All in all, it was a very lovely cool beach day full of people watching, good company, and beautiful ocean views. Perfect for our last day in LA.

Day Forty-Five. Sushi Burrito.

May 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Day Forty-Five was another of those days where I experienced many new things, but the ones that resonate the most have to do with food, in the form of sushi burritos, Pinkberry frozen yogurt, and molecular gastronomy.

Shelley, Patrick, and I headed to LACMAlate on the morning of Day Forty-Five to tour the museum and see one of my bestest, oldest friends Clarissa. While waiting for her by the tar pits next to the museum, we looked across the street at the food trucks lined up in preparation for lunch. We were planning to make a visit to them once Clarissa met up with us. Sushi Burrito was written across one. Patrick’s eyes lit up at the possibility of two of his favorite foods combined into in one dish. As it turns out, the sushi burrito truck rarely makes an appearance in front of LACMA, and when it does the employees go wild. Or just get a little excited. Clarissa was no exception. Before we headed across the street she was describing the various food she had gotten from that little roadway of take out and she wistfully mentioned the sushi burrito. She practically jumped out of her cute booties when we informed her that the orange van was in fact parked among the vendors. The whole experience sounded extremely promising.

Patrick, Shelley, and Clarissa all got the spicy tuna burrito, and I settled on the California roll one. I have what I like to refer to as a “sensitive palette” meaning I sweat at the thought of spicy food. And when I say spicy, I mean anything with the hint of jalapeno. The “burrito” was basically a sushi roll in Mexican style. The rice and fillings were wrapped in a thin rice paper instead o a tortilla. It was….unique. I have to say I didn’t enjoy mine as much as everyone seemed to theirs, but I also had a different roll. It was just very sweet and very ricy. But the Izzle I washed it down with was, as usual, very refreshing.

Apparently I like photographing people eating.

After a lunch made of a Japanese Mexican marriage, we headed into the museum. It was quite huge and we really only made it through the contemporary section; my stupidity in wearing heels caught up with me and I started walking like I had hooves for feet. We were all pretty tired, so we trekked back to the car to head off.

Our next stop was the Grove where no celebrities were spotted, but apparently the cast of Glee was singing later in the evening. We walked around the outdoor/covered area for a bit and headed to Pinkberry, a weird frozen yogurt phenomenon I had yet to experience.

After our mall visit, we headed to Mulholland Drive to check out some of the awesome views of Los Angeles. Apparently, nighttime is the best time to test your driving skills on the winding road, but the afternoon afforded some nice perspective shots as well. We stopped a few times at the scenic overlooks and I took some pictures while Patrick stayed a safe distance from the edge of the ravine rubbing his sweaty palms on his jeans. I even saw a Four Loko can in the brush down one of the hills. Drinking energy/alcoholic beverages a couple hundred feet up…that seems like a great idea.

Mulholland views

After our winding tour overlooking LA, we headed back to the apartment to change for dinner. Shelley made reservations at Bazaar, a molecular gastronomy restaurant by Washington, DC-based chef  Jose Andreas. She and Kenley had eaten at one of his places in our nation’s capital, and wanted to try out its partner in their new city. As much as I had seen Richard Blais cook with liquid nitrogen on Top Chef, I had never tried any of this weird subcultural science food. It was exciting.

The menu was an interesting blend of tapas, some traditional and some “modern” in the vein of the molecular gastronomy genre. The four of us scanned through the items and each chose a few that stood out, planning on sharing everything. It worked out extremely well, and there were several highlights to the meal. We started with the creamiest guacamole I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, served in a thin tortilla kind of cup. Perhaps the strangest item we tried was the Tortilla de Patatas “New Way.” Potato foam, egg 63, and caramelized onions. You eat it with a spoon, from the bottom up, gathering the soft-boiled egg, potato foam (yes, it was flavorful foam), and a little on the onion topping in one fell scoop. The texture really didn’t match the rich taste of the spoonful. It only took a few spoonfuls to eat the dish, but the flavors were pretty amazing. The other incredibly memorable dish was the Foie Gras sliders, although I think it was listed as “Duck Liver” on the menu. The mini sandwiches included quince and were served on toasted brioche. This was one of Patrick’s selections. Since Andreas is partly known for his “Foie Gras Cotton Candy,” which we did not try, I think he wanted to taste some version of the pate. The sandwich was kind of sweet, with an incredibly smooth texture. I think the strangest part for me was the chilled foie gras/quince jam. The bread was slightly warmer, so the sensation of the two temperatures was very odd. But good.

After we had eaten most of the tapas that had been ordered, we witnessed a server walking across the restaurant with a sneaker perched on his tray, as though it were grand display of elegance. We asked our guy what it was and as he described the chicken pot pie croquettes, we were all in agreement to order some ourselves, purely for the novelty of eating a dish out of a sneaker. They too were tasty, and it was a pure example of how plate presentation can influence the diner.

We had several other items, and after the meal walked over to the patisserie across the restaurant for some sweeter temptations. I opted for liquid dessert, ordering the Passion Fruit Martini described as, “rum, passion fruit and ginger-laurel syrup, with passion fruit foam.” After the tasty patatas, I was down with any food or drink that included foam. And the drink was certainly up to par with the rest of the meal. Sweet, tart, but not too much of either flavors.

After filling our bellies (and emptying our wallets), we headed to meet my friend Clarissa again near her area. We headed to The Dresden Lounge, another sort of themed bar/restaurant in Los Angeles. The schtick to this one was Marty and Elayne, a local fixture at the bar who looked like half dead resurrections from that weird bar in Twin Peaks. They crooned in between round leather booths as we drank our cocktails and chatted. It really did feel a bit like time travel.

After a long day filled with activities and ideas from Shelley’s thorough itinerary (it really is awesome, how well she plans), we headed home to sleep. Molecular Gastronomy, Sushi Burrito, Pinkberry dreams.

Day Forty-Four. Los Angeles Tourists.

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

On Day Forty-Four, I did many new things in Los Angeles, so feel free to take your pick from the second day of our LA adventure.

We had plans to go see another baseball game, this one during the day. We left Shelley and Kenley’s apartment early enough to have plenty of time to get to the stadium and (gasp) we took the highway. It was quite clear at 11am. Apparently everyone was already at their destinations. We got to the stadium area about an hour and a half earlier than the game’s start time, so we decided to find some Mexican food to eat in the area near Dodger Stadium. Using the trusty maps app on my iPhone, I directed Shelley to a cute little Mexican restaurant/taco stand with decent Yelp reviews. It was situated in a mini south of the border cultural square with a sort of outdoor market selling overpriced touristy goods and a lot of Mexican wrestler masks. We entered the restaurant and stared at the menu above the counter.   I had no idea what the majority of the menu items were. They sounded familiar, but my white bread heritage and bland taste buds had never introduced me to the true Mexican cuisine (El Mexicano excepting). I had always ordered chimichangas, burritos, or tacos. So in the spirit of trying something new, I ordered a meal that seemed (from my wikipedia definition) not too spicy and not too strange (hello, beef tongue?). I can’t remember what the name of the dish was, only that it was the Number Four.

It was delicious.The taco beef filling was tender and the tortillas were thick home made yummy.

Shelley's was equally scrumptious

Patrick takes a bite

After we had eaten, we walked around the mini market area. It was an explosion of colors, fabrics, and people. We didn’t purchase anything, but my senses were pleased with the vibrant atmosphere.

Our bellies full and our senses awakened, we headed to the stadium to see the Braves lose (in dramatic extra-inning walk-off style) once again to the hometown Dodgers. Seeing a game at Dodger Stadium and watching the Braves lose was certainly not a new activity, but watching the athletes play in their throwback uniforms was pretty cool.

Love the knee breeches and the font!

Next we managed to find Shelley’s car relatively easily (we took note of its location to not repeat the blunder of the previous evening), and headed out of the stadium. Shelley took us on a cool drive down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards where we could laugh at the tourists being scammed for pictures outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater by Darth Vader and friends.

We drove through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, marveling at the huge gated mansions. We made it back to the Young’s apartment and got ready for dinner at Alibi Room, a restaurant run by the owners of the Kogi Food Truck. We crowded around the bar and ate yummy sliders off their limited menu. I could feel my waistband expanding from all of the indulgences I had stuffed in my mouth on the trip so far. And I doubted it would stop until I got back to Atlanta.

Day Forty-Three. Dodger Stadium.

May 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

On Day Forty-Three, Patrick and I headed to Los Angeles to visit his sister, Shelley, and her husband, Kenley. They had moved to LA from Columbia, SC earlier this year, so we were excited about seeing them again and having a mini vacation on the sunny left coast. Though I did many new new things on this day, the “official new thing” for Day Forty-Three was to visit Dodger Stadium.

Airplane views

Before we headed out to the ballpark, Shelley picked us up from the airport and we visited In-N-Out burger for some yummy, psuedo-healthy fast food. We went “animal style“, but the food didn’t seem to be as amazing as I remembered from our last California visit several years ago. Perhaps the glow fades a little with each subsequent meal. Maybe I had just eaten too many burgers so far this year.

Our trip was timed to see the hometown Dodgers take on the Atlanta Braves.  On our way to Dodger Stadium, Shelley made like a long time resident and avoided the highway.  We arrived in with plenty of time to spare and were able to take in the atmosphere of Major League Baseball’s third oldest park.  The stadium felt very dated (it opened in 1962) or, as Patrick said, “futuristic, but Jetson’s style.”  We wondered if the blue seats were the original shade of blue or if they had been muted by 50 years of sun.

It should be noted that every single usher, security guard, and vendor was super nice to us, making sure the out-of-towners in Braves hats felt safe and welcomed. At the Dodger’s home opener earlier in the year a few rowdy home team fans beat a visiting San Francisco Giants fan into a coma. Since then, security has really stepped up at the stadium. It was almost laughable how welcoming the stadium personnel were.

We ate our Dodger Dogs (more than a bit overrated) and watched the Braves get pummeled 6-1 by the home team. So far, Patrick and I had seen the Braves play on the road three times, for three losses. Maybe we should just watch them from Turner Field from now on.

As we walked back to the car, we lost our way a little, or a lot. We were in the correct parking area, or so we assumed, but the beige Toyota Solara was doing well hiding between the rows of vehicles. We wandered amongst cars and other lost pedestrians for about twenty minutes before finding the beloved ride.

Once buckled up, we headed out to grab a drink at a Tudor looking German bar. We drank German beer and questioned the validity of our waitress’s accent. Was it fake? It certainly sounded put-on. Kenley heard her tell another table that she was Irish, but that too was questionable. She definitely sounded American as she stood up to karaoke some Carpenters’ tune with the craggy old German keyboardist.

We ate some German pretzels and potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream (surprisingly tasty combination) and drank a German lager. By this time, it was about two am on the East Coast, so getting back to the Young’s apartment and falling asleep was welcome. It was a very productive and new first day in Los Angeles, but we knew there would be much more in store over the course of the next several days.

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