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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Living the Dream will continue, but at a new address.  I am moving to www.mralyoung.com.  When I first started this blog, I had modest expectations for it.  I was new to the world of blogging, and wanted to give it a try since I had time.  It was just a place to put my random thoughts.  It was like a personal journal.  I never expected anyone to read it except for a few family members and friends.   Now, 5 months later I actually have a following of regular readers.  Even with sporadic posting, which does not promote a high number of visitors, over 8,000 readers and have visited Living the Dream, and we have over 50 links to Living the Dream.   Moving means starting over which kind of sucks.  Hopefully, my regular readers will find their way to the new address, but there is always a chance of losing readers in the move.  Still, its better to bite the bullet now, and make the move rather than wait till I have a lot more traffic.  That would really hurt.  So, why are we moving now.

  1. Self hosted domain and own domain name: When I first started blogging, I did’nt want to pay for the expense having my own domain name and to have it hosted on my own server.  I did’nt know if it was something I would continue doing, so I just used the free wordpress hosted version.  Since then, I have learned its much more professional to have your own domain name rather than a domain with blogspot or wordpress.com in your domain name.  It builds creadability that your are a serious blogger, and builds your brand.  Its also a small expense to have your own domain name and to self host it.  Also, the free version of WordPress is great for basic blogging, but it does not allow you to take advantage of all the features and plugins that you have with the self hosted version of WordPress.  Many of the features you can’t see, but it allows much more versatility in blogging, and many helpful features.  Now, I can take advantage of these tools.
  2. Monetizing my blog: I started to blog for fun, not to make money.  I never thought I could make money because you need readers to make money, and who would read my blog.  Its just a hobby, but I discovered that many people are able to make a lot of money by blogging.  Its still not a goal of mine to make money from my blog, but I am open to making a few bucks to cover my hosting expense.  The problem is that the terms of service for my free wordpress account does not allow commercial ads on my blog.  So, that is not an option and I decided to make the move.  There are some ads on the new site, MrAlyoung.com, but I will keep it tasteful, and not try to sell out my readers to a lot of advertisements.

So, please join me at the new site for more of the same kind of articles and information you have enjoyed here.  Thanks for reading.  Here are some new articles of interest:

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As an entrepreneur, I appreciate the freedom of being an American more than ever this year.  America is truly the land of freedom and opportunities.  Nowhere else in the world can anyone have access to so many opportunities and the freedom to pursue their dreams.  In addition to the entrepreneural opportunites, Americans have the religious freedom that we sometimes take for granted.  True, it is not a perfect country, but we enjoy liberties and opportunities that we cannot have anywhere else, and we have the choice to make changes in our government if we are not satisfied.

Here is a very patriotic video from Lee Greenwood.  Take a moment to look at it, and reflect on being an American.  Also, take a moment to appreciate the many who have sacrificed for our freedom, and those in the armed forces still sacrificing, so we can enjoy the liberties we now have.  Freedom is not free.

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 We Have Moved.  Visit us at WWW.MRALYOUNG.COM

Here is another RickRoll’d Favorite:

In the world of blogging, to be rickroll’d means to trick someone using your blog to view this Rick Astley video and hear this catchy song.  For example Rick at Bento Box Review  posted about a new 15.2 megapixel camera by Canon.  You say “no way” and before you know it you click to find out more and…….you’ve been rickroll’d.

I’m not going to trick anyone to see this, but view this video at your own risk.  It will either bring back fond memories of the 80’s for you, or force you  to run out of the room screaming.  Either way, you’ve been warned, this tune will stay in your head for days.  Rickroll’d.

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For most Asians, rice is their comfort food.  Nothing hits the spot more than a hot, fluffy bowl of rice.  I am no exception to that rule.  If we have rice, the rest of the meal is secondary.  Rice with vegetables, or beef, or any type of gravy, and I’m good.  Even plain white rice, or with soy sauce is good enough if I’m hungry enough.  As much as I love rice, the Japanese love it more.  In Japan there are over 300 varieties of rice, and many Japanese belong to rice of the month clubs. 

The Japanese are obsessed with getting the perfect bowl of rice, so it is in this market that Toshiba is producing the “Vacuum Pressure Cooker”.  It is the company’s most expensive rice cooker ever at $830.  This rice cooker is able to boil the water in the cooker at a higher temperature making for fatter, shinier and sweeter grains of rice.  It has a powerful vacuum pump to suck all the air out, and is designed to withstand 264 pound of pressure.  It looks like a small spaceship.  Here is a picture.

p1-ai077_jrice_20070603195624.jpg

 This model has already sold more than 70,000 since it launched in September making it the best seller in the super-expensive rice cooker category.  So obviously there is a demand for $800 rice cookers, but does is really cook better rice?  The Wall Street Journal conducted a blind taste taste testing rice cooked with very high end rice cookers and those cooked with older model cheaper rice cookers.  The rice was cooked in the same way and sampled by a ricemeister.  I did’nt even know there was such a thing as a ricemeister.  A ricemeister is an rice expert who have passed a rigorous exam by the rice retailers’ association Japan Rice Retailers’ Association, testing their knowledge as well as their abilities to blend, store and polish rice correctly and identify rice varietals in a taste test.  Its like a wine master except for rice.  There are about 4,000 ricemesiters in Japan.

The ricemeister was able to identify the rice cooked in 3 of the 4 cookers correctly.  He did’nt say which rice he liked better as tasteis subjective, but did conclude that there was not a significant difference between rice cooked in a high end cooker and a moderately priced one.  He says even rice made with a cheap $20 rice cooker will taste good rice if it’s eaten right away.

The high end cookers do a better job of maintaining the quality of rice if it is kept warm in the cooker for a longer period.  Perhaps in Japan, they have rice in the cooker all day long,  like coffee is always on the pot all day in America, but most people like myself cook rice and eat it immediately.  If you do this, there is no significant difference between rice cooked in a high end cooker and a cheap one.  Compare to the high end cookers in Japan, my cooker in practically ancient, but my rice comes out fine for me.  I prefer my rice fluffy, but do not mind too much if it is a bit hard as I like to pour gravy or juice over it anyways.  So, I won’t be upgrading my rice cooker soon.

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Everyone has a must TV night where they clear their evening to make sure they don’t miss the new episode of their favorite show.  For my wife, its Thursday nights with Grey’s Anatomy.  My evening of tv is Sunday night, and I have 2 can’t miss shows back to back.  They are The Sopranos and Entourage on HBO.

The Sopranos:

This series remains one of the best shows on tv even after 6 seasons.  It is reason alone to subscribe to HBO.  I have an affinity for maffia type shows and movies with The Godfather, and Goodfellas among my favorite movies.  The Sopranos however is not your typical maffia, gangster show.  Sure, it is very violent and graphic at times, but the excellent writing and the development of the characters is masterful.  Beyond the violence, there is a great deal of subtle humor and irony.  David Chase the creator of The Sopranos is the best writer on television.  I often watch an episode of The Sopranos several times in a week to catch some of the subtle things in the dialogue, or cleaver irony that may yield a clue to what will happen next week.  Still, there is always an element of surpise, and a lot of times someone is “wacked”.  The Sopranos is truly a thinking maffia show.  It is much more than just the violence.

The sad thing is that the series will conclude this season with just 2 episodes left.  Some shows stay on too long and lose its edge in quality, but The Sopranos are going out with the same level of excellence as it did the first season.  Its hard to see how everything will wrap it in the next few weeks, or if there will be a logical conclusion.  We can see it building to a violent ending, and a likely demise of several main characters.  We have already seen the death of one main character this year, and nearly another.  It won’t be the last.  Just a matter of who and by whom.  I will miss The Sopranos, but will enjoy the last two episodes.  If you are not already addicted to The Sopranos, check it out on DVD or on reruns on HBO.  It is destined to be a classic.  Its that good.

Entourage

Immediately following the Sopranos on Sunday night is Entourage, my other favorite show, also on HBO.  My wife and I love reading US magazine which we subscribe to.  It is a guilty pleasure, and fun to see the surreal life of the “stars”.  Entourage is like looking into US magazine thru the eyes of a young successful actor in Hollywood.  After an hour of watching The Sopranos, Entourage is a nice change of pace.  The Sopranos is a lot of drama, and violence.  Sometimes disturbing images are still in your mind, and you are still trying to make sense of where David Chase is going with all this.

Entourage is the opposite of The Sopranos.  Not a lot of thinking required.  It is light and fluff, and sometimes over the top, but I think an accurate portrayal of the superfical nature of show business.  Entourage is a totally different genre than the Sopranos, but the writing and the development of the characters is no less superb.  Entourage is a story of a young successful actor Vinnie Chase in Hollywood and the adventures of his entourage which is his struggling actor brother Drama and his 2 childhood friends.  One of the friends Eric is his manager, and the other is Turtle which is employed as Vince’s driver.  Their real job is hanging out with Vince.  They do what any young, successful guys with a lot of money would do.  They party.  Each of the characters has their own unique eccentric qualities, but their existence is always centered around what is best for Vince as what is best for Vince is best for them.  It is just a fun show to watch, very funny writing, and  a lot of celebrities appear.  With the Sopranos ending, I hope Entourage will be around for awhile to fill the Sunday night void.

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Someday in the future we may have cars that drive themselves like on the Jetsons.  But before we get to that point, we need to have cars that park themselves.  That day has arrived with the Lexus LS460L.  Many of you may have heard of this feature which allows the Lexus to parallel park by itself, but don’t know how that would work.  Here is a demonstration.

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Its hard to find street parking on our street sometimes.   The problem is that everyone only has a 2 car garage, yet they own at least 3 cars.  Some neighbors have 4 or 5 cars.  Making the problem worse is that some garages are so full of junk, that you can only park 1 car or even none because it is so full.  As a result, cars are spilled over into the street making it difficult for visitors to find a space.

Americans seem to be obsessed with cars, often borrowing more and more to buy the latest cars each year.  I think consistently borrowing money to buy new cars is the one of the most detrimental effect on one’s net worth.  Borrowing money to buy a rapidly depreciating asset is not the recipe for financial wealth, but I will address this topic more in depth at another time.

The immediate problem is finding room for the cars we already own.  Short of moving to a much larger house with a 4 or 5 car garage, we need to find room in our existing home for our cars.  Here is a possible solution, the Phantom Park.

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