Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I pinch

Honda has been running a brilliant series of commercials for its unique styled Element. In the series, a talking Element runs into various animals and has discussions. I think that the crab ad is the best (how genius is it that all the crab can think about is pinching!), but you can view all of them at the Element and friends website.

Created by Rubin Postaer and Associates, the advertisements are attention grabbing and funny. They have created print ads too (I like the Zebra) and a well-designed interactive website. Drive your Element around an island, meet new friends and play games. A note of caution, however. The crab is a formidable tic tac toe opponent

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fromage d’Affinois

Fromage d'AffinoisEmmanuel and Meg hosted a BBQ late yesterday afternoon. There were lots of kids (ages 3-40) enjoying the jumpy house, many different types of meat, and several nice wines. Charlotte made 3 different delicious desserts, Meg prepared a cornucopia of wonderful fruits and vegetables, and, as Emmanuel is French, there was a grand cheese plate. All of the cheeses were interesting, but the Fromage d'Affinois was a new treat for me.

Fromage d’Affinois is a cow’s milk, soft ripened cheese in the triple crème category. It is finished with a filtration process that breaks down some of the fat content resulting in a double crème of unique smoothness. It is hard to characterize a cheese this rich in flavor as light, but it has a creaminess and a freshness distinct from it cousins', the Bries.

Perfect with a crusty baguette, Fromage d’Affinois pairs wonderfully with fruit as well. I enjoyed mine with my glass of zinfandel, but a sauvignon blanc or viognier would have been good choices too. Emmanuel tells me that Fromage d’Affinois is one of the easier French cheeses to find, and I encourage you to look. It is spectacular!

Monday, May 29, 2006

everett & jones bbq

With a few locations in the East Bay and a history dating back more than 30 years, Everett & Jones BBQ is an Oakland institution. I’ve been aware of the accolades, so I was excited that I had the opportunity to check it out this afternoon for lunch.

There were four of us, giving me the chance to sample the beef brisket and the pork ribs (both pictured above). The meat had excellent slow-smoked flavor, but it was not as tender as Uncle Frank’s. This is a small criticism as the sauce was perfectly balanced – both sweet and hot. And, the sides of potato salad and candied yams were outstanding.

Apparently, the service is oft criticized, but our waiter was helpful and professional. And, even if he wasn’t, the sweet potato pie is good enough to make anyone overlook delays or confused orders. When you go to E&J, certainly save room for the pie!

Everett & Jones BBQ: 126 Broadway, Oakland, CA (510) 663-2350

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bollywood Fandango

I went to see X-Men 3 tonight, and before the film I saw the newest Fandango advertisement. I admire Fandango’s marketing, and their talent at turning a really stupid name into a household brand.

Although I miss the early campaigns (“There’s a wild Fandango on the loose…”), I must admit that I have become a fan of the bag puppets. The Amoeba ad agency out of LA has done a fantastic job on such spots as “Clubbin’” and now they are back with a send-up of Bollywood musicals. My congratulations to the team for another great commercial, and the efficacy of the $1 million they spent on ad buys last year.

Bonus link 1: the people behind the puppets
Bonus link 2:
buy the puppets’ merchandise

Saturday, May 27, 2006

beard papa’s cream puff

When several people send me the same suggestion for my cool thing of the day (thanks Julie! thanks Lisette!), it is pretty likely I am going to investigate. And, that’s exactly what happened last night when I checked out Beard Papa cream puffs in San Francisco.

Opened on May 12 and profiled both in the Chronicle and Mercury News 5 days later, Beard Papa is a sensation in Japan with more than 200 locations. Early franchises in the States have matched its home-country success. The NYC store featured long lines for months, and the Hawaii, Boston and LA locations have been quite popular as well.

The San Francisco branch (conveniently located right across from the Metreon) currently sells coffee, tea and vanilla cream puffs. Next week they will introduce a chocolate cream puff and a daily puff flavor (milk tea, pumpkin, strawberry, green tea or caramel), and their menu suggests that cheesecake sticks and éclairs are coming soon. But, Beard Papa’s fame has been earned by the original vanilla.

The cream puffs are made from special dough flown in daily and a blend of custard and whipped cream prepared several times each day onsite. A Beard Papa video shows the whole process, but the dough is crispy on the outside and choux pastry on the inside, and it is baked in glass-fronted ovens as fast as they can. Once cooled, each puff shell is filled with a soft, smooth mixture made by folding fresh custard (Madagascar vanilla, egg yolks, Clover milk and butter) with just-whipped whipped cream. It is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and handed to an eager customer.

I bought a number of puffs just before the store closed at 8p to take to dinner; however, the best way to enjoy a Beard Papa is right when you buy it. If you wait, the pastry does get soggy although the cream retains it delicious flavor. I like Beard Papa, and I am anxious to return, but I am also eager to visit to Satura Cakes (perhaps on June 2 once their University Ave location opens) to re-sample their cream puff. I wonder which will "reign supreme." Papa Beard cream puffs are $1.75; "if memory serves," Satura’s are almost double the price ($3).

Bonus link: watch a home movie of the pastry shells being filled and then rolled in powdered sugar

Beard Papa: 99 Yerba Buena Ln., San Francisco, CA (415) 978-9972

Beard Papa: 835 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, CA (650) 218-7930

12/4 Update: As the last comment suggests, Beard Papa has opened in downtown Redwood City. it is every bit as tasty as SF but without the lines. My favorite item is the éclair.

Friday, May 26, 2006

lobster roll at the creamery

photo credit: joyThe Peninsula Fountain and Grill (often called “The Creamery”) is a Palo Alto institution. With soda-shop styling, wonderful milkshakes and homemade bread, it is a great spot for burgers and sandwiches. I recommend the oven-roasted turkey club.

On Fridays, though, the Creamery is an especially outstanding lunch option as they serve lobster roll. Prior to the opening of the Old Post Lobster Shack, I was a regular for Friday lunch at the Creamery, often forcing Joy and Mike to join me. After a Spring hiatus, I returned to introduce Bill and Emmanuel to lobster-roll, creamery style, and our lunch today was outstanding.

Their lobster salad is made with generous lobster chunks and diced celery - the crunch is a nice addition. The New England-style, center cut rolls are baked fresh and oversized. When grilled they have a delightful buttery flavor. Best of all, the portions are large, making the $14.95 lobster roll a good value compared to the OPLS or Yankee Pier.

The lobster quality can vary, and sometimes the salad can be too wet, making the tasty bun soggy, but today’s roll was perfect. My companions opted for green salad as sides, but I enjoyed my crispy steak fries and added a wonderful slice of key lime pie (split with Emmanuel) for dessert. I won’t mention Bill’s huge slice of apple pie.

The Peninsula Fountain and Grill has two locations: the original in downtown Palo Alto; and, the satellite at the Stanford Mall (currently called the Palo Alto Creamery Fountain and Grill). Although the differences are subtle, when you want lobster roll, the mall restaurant is the one to visit. Give it a try, and note that the lobster role is only available for Friday lunch.

Peninsula Fountain and Grill: 566 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA (650) 323-3131
Palo Alto Creamery Fountain and Grill at the Stanford Mall: (650) 327-3141

Thursday, May 25, 2006

the evolution of dance

I'm not a big viral video guy, but this one is pretty funny. It's six minutes long and worth a complete viewing. The track selections are genius, the dance moves are inspired, and it should bring back (painful) memories for all of us who grew up with MTV.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

heavy duty wall hooks

the Heavy Duty Wall Hook from NB IndustriesTo secure most things to a wall when a stud is not available, I use the outstanding Alligator wall anchor from Toggler. It is ideal for drywall or solid surfaces like concrete and plaster, simple to install, and very strong for its diameter size. The only downside to the gator is that it requires you to drill a rather significant hole (1/4” or more).

Picture hooks are satisfactory for light duty jobs (less than 30 lbs.) but larger art or mirrors require multiple hooks that can be hard to align or anchors like the Alligator. Fortunately, there is a new solution that Bill discovered: the Heavy Duty Wall Hanger. Made in the USA by NB Industries of Golden, Colorado, the HDWH is an ingenious invention that requires no tools for installation and only leaves a tiny hole behind. Better still, each HDWH can support 150 lbs.

The front of the pack illustrates how it works. The top end has a chiseled point, and the anchor is inserted by pressing this point through the drywall or plaster with a twisting motion. Once through, the hook is turned to push the anchor all the way into the wall cavity, leaving only the small hook at the bottom end visible. Easy enough for a CEO to install, and re-usable for when you move. Brilliant! Look for them at your local home supply store.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Frank Gehry for Tiffany

Architect Frank Gehry has designed a new line of jewelry for Tiffany & Co. Joining the Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso signature collections, Gehry’s work is bold but graceful and striking yet subtle. There is a sharp resemblance to his buildings, and his talent for making strong shapes soft produces very sensual results.

Frank Gehry designs for TiffanyAvailable only in Tokyo, London, New York and Los Angeles initially, the full collection will appear in more stores and online this summer. Materials range from the expected Sterling silver and yellow gold to the exotic black gold, cocholong stone and pernambuco wood. There will be several pieces in each motif, and the pendants from equus, fold and orchid should be especially stunning. Prices range from the hundreds to the hundreds of thousands. Pictured clockwise from top left are samples from orchid, fish, torque, fold and equus.

Monday, May 22, 2006

talbot's toyland

Paul’s note: As a father of four, Bill is well qualified to discuss children’s toys. However, he brings more than shopping expertise to the subject as Bill loves playing as much as giving. He has a wonderfully youthful spirit and a great appreciation of fun, and I am delighted to introduce him as today’s guest contributor. His subject is Talbot’s, one of the finest toy stores in the area and one of Bill's favorite places. Bill writes:

It's always an adventure when we take our 4 kids (ages 8, 5,4 and 3) to the toy store. This weekend we headed over to my favorite place for adventure, Talbot's Toyland, because my daughter needed a new bicycle. Located on B Street in downtown San Mateo, Talbot's has been in business for over 50 years.

Talbot's bike-evatorWith a huge collection of toys, an excellent hobby and train shop, a special doll section, toddler playsets and even a full service bike shop for adults and children, Talbot's has something to keep all the kids happy (including me).

The cyclery has a great selection, and they even stock tandem bikes and unicycles. With help from the friendly and knowledgeable staff, we quickly found a bike for my daughter. We were especially impressed by the mini-elevator that sends the bikes upstairs for a quick tune-up before you leave the store.

As we were waiting, I took the kids over to my favorite part of the store, the glass display cases full of die-cast metal cars, tanks, planes and figurines. The W. Britain hand-painted metal soldiers are always fun to look at, although too pricey and delicate to let my boys get them yet. The Light Dragoons are pictured above.

I was thrilled to see they still carry the big 1:16 scale, remote control Sherman and King Tiger tank models by Tamiya with authentic engine sounds, flashing muzzles, and infrared battle system. They each cost about $1,000 and take several months to put together, so I won't be buying one for a while, but it gives me something to look forward to when I grow up. The German King Tiger with Production Turret and Zimmerit coating is pictured below.

We took a quick detour through the model section. No self-respecting hobby store is complete without a display case to show off assembled model kits and dioramas. I haven't made models since I was a kid, but I still love to see the how realistic some of the paint jobs can be (assuming a Star Wars TIE fighter is real, that is). I picked up a couple extra boxes of 1:72 scale plastic 4th century B.C. Macedonian cavalry and 12th century A.D. Mongol warriors. (You can never have enough Mongols; that's why they were called the Golden Horde.)

By that time my daughter's new bike had descended on the bike-evator, and we wrangled it into the minivan and left Talbot's satisfied, as usual.

Talbot's Toyland: 445 S B St, San Mateo, CA (650) 931-8100

Sunday, May 21, 2006

adventure games

Tonight I am very happy to introduce a new guest poster: Julie. Julie, or Julie Jules as she is occasionally known, is a great game-player and expert puzzle solver. She’s also a big movie buff and mom to two precious little girls. Julie writes:

There are few (I mean very few) PC or video games that I, as a woman, like to play. I prefer the ones that challenge me into thinking out-of-the-box vs. testing my game hand-eye coordination speed, which is poor and will never improve. There are, however, a couple adventure games that I have played that both men and women will enjoy.

Several years ago my husband Scott and I were introduced to two Lucas Arts Entertainment games by a co-worker. We spent many nights working together to solve the out-of-the-box puzzles presented to us.

Grim FandangoThe first game Grim Fandango, with a top 5-star Amazon rating, features a Mexican/Aztec/Mayan art style with a theme based on skeletons and witty dialogues and comebacks. This is truly an incredible experience. Playing this game is like participating in an interactive movie that lasts through four years in the life of the main character Manny Calaveras (skull in Spanish). However, in order to move onto the next scene, you have to piece together clues in order to determine the correct sequence of actions, with the additional aid of conversations with characters.

The Curse of Monkey IslandAfter completing the game, we searched for its successor, or at least one like it, but, alas, LucasArts did not have plans to release another game like Grim Fandango, despite the rave reviews. So, we moved onto the co-worker's other recommended LucasArts game: Curse of Monkey Island.

I like this game because it made us laugh. How often do you catch yourself laughing while playing a computer game? This game is the third in a series of Monkey Island games. This game has insults and comebacks that you give/take from a selection of choices, along with off-the-cuff humorous comments from various characters. There are numerous subtle references, including a nod to Grim Fandango.

I suppose this type of game brings back memories of the 1980s text-only adventure games that I used to play on my Apple. The text games only accepted two-word commands, like "go north" or "get ___". You didn't have graphics, audio, or a mouse to guide you. You had to rely on your own visual-mapping and memory skills.

As part of a game called The Count, I remember being thrilled when I realized that I had to hide in a dumbwaiter to light a match in order to progress to the next set of events. Before that moment, I felt like I was randomly choosing things to carry with me while wandering around. (Come to think of it, these old games sound like Myst without the graphics and extreme complexity.) I tracked down the Windows downloadable version of The Count from the creator Scott Adams (not related to Dilbert), along with Web Java playable versions of all his games, including Ghost Town and Adventureland. I hope that you find them as enjoyable as I have.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Last night Michael and I dined at Ozumo. I’ve had good meals at the hip SOMA Japanese restaurant before, but last night was exceptional.

We arrived at Ozumo at 8:30, and as one would expect on a Friday, it was quite crowded. Fortunately there was room at the sushi bar in the main dining room, and for the next 2 ½ hours we were treated to wonderful fish and delightful sake. My thanks to Jessica for letting us sample so many sakes and Hiroto (pictured) for his artistry.

We began the meal with a bottle of an amazing nama sake, the Tedorigawa “Arabashiri.” Tedorigawa is one of Japan’s oldest brewers and they make sake using the most traditional techniques. The result is beautiful: light, sweet, smooth, clean, silky, floral and effervescent are all descriptors that come to mind. It is a blockbuster and reason enough to visit Ozumo while they still have stock. Later in the evening we also drank the Genshu nama from Dewazakura and an old stanby, the Denshu. But, the Tedorigawa stole the show.

To match our wonderful sake we began with a sashimi sampler that included Maguro, Hirame, Hamachi, Sake and then Kona Kanpachi, Toro and salmon belly. Both the Kona Kanpachi and salmon belly are unusual, and the Toro was perfectly marbled.

From there we ordered nigiri. Each was wonderful but highlights include the Umi Masu (an ocean trout unlike anything I have tried before), the Amaebi (so sweet and delicious) and the Anago (beautifully concentrated flavor). The Shima Aji was also wonderful last night, and both salmon and Hamachi approached best-ever status. As good as the Maguro, the Shiro Maguro, the Hotate and Albacore were, they were esclipsed by the other offerings. We also ordered a half dozen Kumamoto Oysters and Hiroto made us a salad of crab, salmon and salmon roe in appreciation for the sake we were sharing.

Dinner was not inexpensive, but a day later I’m still marveling at how good it was. I like Ozumo, but previous meals were never that good. I can only conclude that sitting at the sushi bar made a big difference, and I can’t wait to return to test my theory.

Ozumo: 161 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA (415) 882-1333

Friday, May 19, 2006

511 traffic

One of the things I respect about the Bay Area is the certainty with which a little rain will snarl a commute. To stay on top of traffic conditions, I recommend 511 Traffic, the Bay Area travel guide.

511 aggregates construction data and FasTrak data from CalTrans, accident information from the CHP, and real-time radar readings from SpeedInfo to give you the most accurate commute information available. Better still, travel times and traffic reports are available by phone and via the web. Give it a try before you head out for your next trip. The only thing more frustrating that traffic is traffic you could have avoided with an alternate route.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

american airlines mastercard

I doubt that anyone needs a new credit card but I wanted to pass along this amazing offer. Sign up for an American Airlines Mastercard and receive 25,000 AAdvantage miles. Better still, sign up before 10p Pacific tonight and you will receive a free companion ticket and pay no annual fee for the first year.

The special promotion is part of 25 days of savings for the 25th anniversary of the American frequent flier program. The usual enticement for the credit card is 15,000 bonus miles.

I’ve had the AA Mastercard for more than 10 years now and I have been happily surprised with the level of service from Citibank. I’ve also been shocked with how fast the miles pile up. At least the 1 or 2 free tickets each year help ease the pain of my lack of fiscal restraint.

Every credit card offer has fine print, and this is one is no exception. To qualify for the free stuff you have to charge at least $250 with the card, and you have to act fast. After the first year you will also have to pay a $75 annual fee. Finally, their APR is high so don’t revolve. Other than that, the deal is clean, and I hope you can take advantage of it. Thanks to slickdeals for the tip.

Sign up, or learn more about the Citi AAdvantage cards.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

david poe

It has been a little while since I have written about new music, so tonight I thought I would mention an artist I have been enjoying recently: David Poe. David is a singer / songwriter who creates lush and moody music. Part Jeff Buckley, part Chris Isaak, his songs are both intimate and atmospheric.

Love is Red is my favorite of his recordings and it is also an album that can be enjoyed from first song to last. Sample a few tracks on I Guess I’m Floating or purchase from iTunes or Amazon. I think that the standouts are Moon and Love Won’t Last the Afternoon, but I like them all.

Bonus links: David on KCRW
Watch David perform The Pornagrapher live at the artist’s den:
Listen to an
interview and in studio performance on NPR
Visit David’s myspace page

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Sunday night I was at Fresca in Noe Valley to help celebrate Daphne’s birthday. Fresca is a stylish Peruvian restaurant with 3 city locations and a menu that changes often. I’m not sure why I haven’t been before, but after my excellent meal I am looking forward to going back.

We started our dinner with ceviches, both their signature 5 Elementos (a spicy mix of Halibut, red onion, lime, salt and Aji) and the special wild King Salmon. The civiche is a great way to enjoy Salmon season.

For my entrée, I had the Halibut (top left) served with prawns, white bean Tacu-Tacu, a black beer cilantro sauce and onion salad. I especially enjoyed the Tacu-Tacu. Lisette had a whole fried Branzini (top middle) served with clams and a spicy tomato broth. Brad and Chrisite ordered this as well, and it was perfectly prepared. But, the star was Daphne’s duck (top right), served in a large portion and cooked to a perfect medium rare.

As Daphne had birthday candles to blow out, the right side of the table insisted on the dessert sampler. Despite being stuffed and a bit warm (it was already an uncharacteristically hot night and we were seated right next to the exhibition kitchen), I was happy they did. We had a mango cheesecake with mango tartare, a tasty chocolate cake with lime lacuma mousse, and the amazing tres leches cake with dulce de leche ice cream. Save room for the tres leches when you visit.

Fresca: 2114 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA (415) 447-2668
Fresca: 24 W Portal Ave, San Francisco, CA (415) 759-8087

Fresca: 3945 24th St, San Francisco, CA (415) 695-0549

Monday, May 15, 2006

skype redux

I’ve written about Skype before. It’s a fantastic program that lets you place voice phone calls computer to computer free of charge. Today they announced a new promotion that makes Skype an ever better value. You can now call any phone number in the US and Canada– not just other computers - for free from now until the end of the year.

It is a brilliant marketing move to undercut competitors and gain further adoption. With more than 100 million downloads and more than 4 million simultaneously connected users even at this late hour, Skype is doing quite well with market acceptance, but this new offer will certainly help entice late adopters. It is very easy to use. From home or office just fire up the program, put on your headset and dial away. No need to purchase SkypeOut minutes or convince your friends to install Skype. And, the quality is outstanding.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

St Lawrence String Quartet

In a previous post I mentioned the St. Lawrence String Quartet, a wonderfully talented chamber group in residence at Stanford. In addition to the touring schedule that accompanies an ensemble that is regarded as top 5 in the world, they teach and do all that they can to enrich the arts on campus. A perfect example of the latter: they dedicated their afternoon on Saturday to perform at a fundraiser hosted by my friend Jeff for the Music Department.

Seeing world-class musicians in a setting as intimate as Jeff's living room is an amazing opportunity, but the program made the afternoon even more extraordinary. A gifted student pianist, David Lee, started the concert with Ravel’s Ondine. The piece showcased David’s graceful, effortless style, and I found myself transfixed by the mellifluous notes flowing from the Bösendorfer.

Pianist George Barth and mezzo soprano Miriam Abramowitsch then delighted the crowd with a selection of songs. The first three were from Poulenc and in French. My favorite was Hotel, purely for the poetry of Apollinaire. The next three were songs by Erich Korngold in German, including the melancholy Gefaßter Abschied. They concluded with three Russian songs from Rachmaninoff. The stunning melodies and somber lyrics provided a perfect transition to the second half of the program.

Following an intermission, the St. Lawrence String Quarter took the stage, or in this case, the chairs in the center of the packed room. That they love performing and teaching was evident with the interest with which they explained the music we were about to hear. First was the sad and moving Eli Eli composed by Jonathan Berger for his friend Daniel Pearl. The group then played Shostakovich’s challenging Quartet #8 and concluded with the gorgeous Andante from Mozart’s Quartet in D Major.

I wish I had the vocabulary and training to describe how wondrous their performance was. Perhaps others can in the comments. The inescapable conclusion, though, is that the St. Lawrence String Quartet is a very special group of musicians, and if you have an opportunity to hear them I hope that you can take it.

Bonus link: St. Lawrence String Quartet recordings

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Yesterday, Tom shared his favorite sushi spot with us. Today, he reminds us how easy it is to convert our spare change into something more useful. Last year Hansel introduced Tom to Guys’ Night Out and the Thursday crew has been fortunate to be able to get to know him ever since. Sadly, Tom is moving back East next week to attend business school, but he promises to send updates from Duke. Tom writes:

The other day I was cleaning out some drawers (my life is so exciting at times), and I came across a bag of coins. Then, I came across more coins, and still more coins. Apparently, 8 years of placing my loose change into this drawer has resulted in a LOT of coins.

I couldn't imagine sorting, rolling, and counting up all those coins to take to the bank, so I started looking for some alternatives. After just a bit of surfing, I came across the website for Coinstar. At first, I was discouraged by their service fee of 8.9%. Way too high. After a little investigating, I discovered that there was no service charge if I converted my coins into an Amazon eCertificate. Other company certificates available include Starbucks and Borders. You can also donate your coins to charity with no fee and take a nice tax deduction.

I was a bit skeptical of how well this would work, so I took a small bag of coins to the local machine to give it a test. To my surprise, the machine wasn't out of order, and everything went smoothly. The machine was a bit loud, but not unbearably so, and it sorted the coins very quickly. After finishing, out came an eCertificate for Amazon.

So, I went home, gathered up the rest of my coins, and went back to the Coinstar machine. After about 10 minutes of shoveling in coins, I had another eCertificate, with a total value of something near $400. Not bad for cleaning out my drawers. I even managed to mostly avoid looking like a dork while lugging all those coins into the store.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ino Sushi

This is Tom’s first submission to (at least) one cool thing but I am confident it will not be his last. Tom’s a great guy and not just because he financed 3 GNO meals the last 4 weeks. Tom also knows good sushi, which is why I insisted he share his secret San Francisco spot. Tom writes:

Tuesday night I went up to the city to eat at Ino Sushi, my favorite sushi place. Ino Sushi is a small restaurant located in Japantown, right next to the Hotel Mikado. There are eight seats at the bar, and tables for about 10 more people along the wall, so reservations are recommended. The staff consists of Ino-san and his wife, the decor is sparse, and the whole atmosphere feels authentically Japanese.

I went with my usual group for this restaurant. Bob, a food snob who's crazy for sushi but still manages to eat microwave dinners when he's not eating out, Hisae "Micki" Mitchell, a Japanese colleague who introduced us all to the place, and Gamal, a super-nice guy from Colombia.

We've been so many times, that Ino-san and his wife recognize each of us, and always provide a warm greeting. Once seated at the blonde wood sushi bar, we adopted our usual routine of letting Micki take care of the ordering. We always go for a sampler of whatever is fresh, with the pieces being placed by ones and twos directly on the wood bar. That night, the especially memorable items were a white toro, a barbecue tuna, and baby Monterey Bay squid complete with internal organs.

Ino-san has a great selection of traditional Japanese small dishes as well, but we've never tried any. The sushi is way too delicious. Tuesday is a good night to go, as fish arrives from Japan that morning. Ino selects all the sushi himself and goes to the market several times each week. He also offers a decent selection of sake, but the fish is the main attraction.

That's my cool thing of the day.

Bonus link: this review has some great pictures of the nigiri

Ino Sushi: 22 Peace Plaza, San Francisco, CA (415) 922-3121

Thursday, May 11, 2006

secrets of the sexes

KQED is running another excellent BBC program: Secrets of the Sexes. The show is in 3 parts and it covers brain-based gender differences, attraction and relationships. Part 1, Brainsex, aired Tuesday night and it replays tomorrow evening at 9pm. Parts 2 (Matchmaker) and 3 (Science of Love) will air the following Tuesdays. (program schedule)

From the part 1 synopsis:

Five men and five women are put through a number of tests to see if their brains are categorized by scientists as more male or female. They soon then learn that the sex of the brain does not necessarily match the sex of the body. A scientist also takes a look at the brains of a couple who constantly disagree, to see if he can find any clues in their brain activity as to why they fail to understand each other. The program also meets a man who has changed the sex of his brain; a scientist studying what effect pre-natal levels of testosterone may have on behavior; and another who claims he can predict the outcome of a race based purely on the length of the competitors' ring and index fingers.

To make the program more fun, take the Sex ID test. It is fast and insightful. I’ll add my detailed results in a comment and I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

pimpstar rims

Each day I recommend something to try: a restaurant, some software, a movie, new music... Continuing in that tradition I present a must-have product. Watch the video and start saving $12,500 because you know you’ll want them. "Wait 'till you see these babies roll."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Underappreciated while we were young, sleep is certainly a top 3 pleasure. It's also my cool thing of the day.

Candidates for today's honors were:

Mixed Company: the Stanford acapella group that Julie hired for Scott's birthday brunch. They have a fun repertoire, including a nice rendition of Stacy's Mom they have worked up for Mother's Day. If you are interested, their Spring Show is Saturday night;

Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City, an old school cafeteria-style restuarant serving meat, meat and more meat. Their house-made corned beef is quite tasty;

the Dutch Goose, a Stanford hang-out in Menlo Park now under new ownership. They feature many beers on tap, peanuts and a back patio perfect for an early evening strategy meeting;

and, sleep.

Sleep wins.

Monday, May 08, 2006

nerdcore rap

From boing boing comes word that notorious thug, gansta rappa and Purdue Computer Science Ph.D. student MC Plus+ is still droppin’ his mad science.

I first heard of MC Plus+ last year when a geek feud broke out between ++ and Stanford CS student Monzy . For a while it was tense – real heavy East Coast, West Coast urban hostility.

MC Plus+ was the undisputed king of chip-hop. Like 50 rhymed about da club, + flowed on encryption:

DES is wrong if you listen to NIS
Double DES ain't no better man, that got Dis'ed
Twofish for AES, that was Schneier's wish
Like a shot from the key Rijndael made the swish
But Blowfish is still the fastest in the land
And Bruce used the same to ECB and I'll crack your ciper text
Try CFB mode to keep everyone perplexed

Then Monzy brought some serious dis:

It’s hard to pick Monzy’s tightest lines, but this may be a candidate:

My flow is so intense that I will overflow your buffer,
Corrupt your stack pointer makin' all your data suffer.
I've got saturated edges but your flow is sparser,
Real gangstas sip on Yacc; instead you generate a parser.
While you're busy poppin' stacks I'll pop a cap in your skull,
While you smoke your crack pipe I'm gonna pipe you to /dev/null.
I may not have a label but I rap like a star;
I'm an unsigned long int and you're an 8-bit char.

The Stanford CS crowd will also appreciate this one:

MC Plus+’s posse (the Empty Set) talked about a response but none materialized. At least we have the tracks + laid down back in the day. Check out:

or download the entire Algorhythms album.

Bonus link: the ultimate nerdcore fansite

12/15 update: Slashdot reports that there are not one but two documentaries being made about the nerdcore scene.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

gabriel and dresden essential mix

Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden are San Francisco-based djs and producers who have perfected a distinctive post-trance, progressive sound and mastered the art of the remix. At the end of this month they will release their first artist album, and to promote that effort they presented today’s Essential Mix.

Hosted by Pete Tong, the Essentail Mix is a weekly 2-hour, non-stop dance mix created by a top talent. Gabriel and Dresden don’t disappoint with a mix likely to be regarded as one of the best of the year. It is flawless technically, and the track selection is signature G&D. As a bonus, six cuts from the new album are included.

Listen via BBC Radio 1 (tracklist) The on-demand broadcast is available until 5/14

Gabriel and Dresden have been favorites of mine since their early remixes. They are responsible for the seminal versions of Way Out West’s “Mindcircus”, Tiesto’s “In My Memory” and Andain’s “Beautiful Things.” Their reworks of Duncan Shiek’s “On a High,” Depeche Mode’s “Here is the House,” Dido’s “Don’t Leave Home” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Fallen” may be even more inspired as they manage to transform these pop songs into huge main room tracks.

To highlight their remixing genius is not to ignore their artist efforts. As Motorcycle, they recorded the popular and overplayed “As The Rush Comes.” For their dj album, Bloom, they composed several storming productions. And tomorrow, “Tracking Treasure Down,” the first single from the new album, drops. It is large.

The best place to preview and buy G&D is at beatport, a digital download service that sells high quality mp3 and WAV files. Their tracks are watermarked to prevent re-distribution, but they are not encumbered with further DRM. You can play them on your computers and mp3 players and burn them to CDs without worrying about complex license management issues. Beatport has the new single, G&D’s major productions and their rare 2001 remix of “Travelling On.”

iTunes also has several G&D songs. The best are their collaboration with Markus Schulz on “Without You Near” and the edit of “Tracking Treasure Down” they prepared for the Nip and Tuck soundtrack. With the iTunes downloads you are more limited, but it is hard to match the convenience.

Bonus link 1: An excellent 2005 live G&D mix
Bonus link 2: Enter the Tracking Treasure Down remix contest

Saturday, May 06, 2006

MiMe’s Café

Emmanuel is a gifted technologist, a proud father and very French. He is also my partner in our new venture, and Friday he took me to lunch at one of his favorite restaurants. Going to MiMe’s with Emmanuel is quite an experience as everyone working there greets him enthusiastically with a “Bonjour Emmanuel!” when he walks in. I’m pleased he agreed to write about MiMe’s and delighted that he is making his first contribution to (at least) one cool thing. Emmanuel writes:

MiMe's CafeI discovered MiMe’s Café (pronounced meem's) in February 1997 soon after joining a startup in located in the same 2000 block of Broadway in Redwood City. Since then, I have been going at least twice a week for lunch, often with colleagues and sometimes with my family.

MiMe’s is a special place; to the inattentive observer it is another restaurant that offers traditional American fare: burgers, pizza, sandwiches and salads. (menu) However, what I always found cool about MiMe’s is that it is a lot more than a restaurant. Behind the counter and in the kitchen is a full-fledged cooking school.

MiMe’s in conjunction with the OICW, a non-profit vocational training center, and with support from See’s Candies, has been offering 16-week training programs in the culinary arts for about a decade. This program offers disadvantaged youth a chance to work hard and turn their lives around. I know from a job experience long ago that working in a restaurant’s kitchen is really hard work, and I am happy that the students have embraced the challenge and become successful. Over the years I have seen many of OICW's graduates working at other restaurants in the area. In fact, just last night I ran into one of them working at OPLS.

They also do a great job with the food, which is prepared under the supervision of Chef Instructor Adam Weiner. Importantly, the ingredients are always very fresh, and the students bake all of the bread (including the burger buns and the pizza crust). Their pizzas are made from scratch and cooked in a brick oven, and my son and I love them. I was happy that Paul enjoyed his too. The buffalo mozzarella, ripe, flavorful tomatoes and whole basil leaves make the Margherita pizza a special treat.

MiMe’s has an awesome vegetarian burger, home made from garbanzo beans, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and other wholesome ingredients creating a patty vastly superior to a typical garden burger. All my vegetarian friends love it, and although I am a meat-eater myself, I have ordered it numerous times. Although I rarely get salad, many of my friends order the Niçoise with seared Tuna or the Oriental Chicken Salad. One tip: if you get a house salad with your sandwich, be sure to ask for the balsamic vinaigrette.

One of my favorite meals at MiMe’s is the Chicken Portabella sandwich. What makes it extra yummy is the melted mozzarella cheese with caramelized red onions. One day I will have to ask Chef Adam to teach me their caramelization technique – I have tried at home and I have not been able to reproduce it with their results. And, on the menu you will also find pasta dishes which are fine, but I’d rather spend my carb allowance on pasta from great Italian restaurants like Incanto.

MiMe’s cusine isn’t fancy, but the food, the atmosphere and a great cause have made me a faithful patron for all these years. At the moment MiMe’s is open for lunch only weekdays from 11am to 2.30pm. However, when the new downtown movie theatre open this summer they will extend their hours and serve dinner too.

For those not familiar with Redwood City, a lot has happen over the last few years and an important phase of the redevelopment project is nearing completion. I encourage you to check it out and stop by MiMe’s for a fresh, simple meal. Perhaps the charm of the staff and restaurant will make you a regular too.

MiMe’s: 2050 Broadway, Redwood City., CA (650) 568-2880

Friday, May 05, 2006

TV Funhouse

For the last 10 years, Robert Smigel has produced crudely animated shorts for Saturday night live that are hilariously funny. Although it is difficult to rank each delightfully offensive TV Funhouse episode, I feel that the best are the recurring “X-Presidents” (Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush as crime fighters with superpowers) and the “Ambiguously Gay Duo” (Ace and Gary as superheroes with an ambiguously close relationship).

Ace and Gary starred in 10 episodes, the last of which aired in 2002, but there has been a resurgence in Ace and Gary popularity. The cartoon duo hosted last week’s SNL, and the voice of Ace (Stephen Colbert) has never been more famous. Fortunately, as I discovered today, all of the Ambiguously Gay Duo sketches are available for viewing on the web - and that is very cool.

Watch all of Ace and Gary’s work in courtesy of noshedidnt. The clips are also hosted on Gorilla Mask.

Bonus link: The X-President's 2001 graphic novel

Thursday, May 04, 2006

presidents and a**holes

It’s Thursday so that means I was out with the guys. A tradition that dates back to the early GNOs is that after a nice dinner and some tasty beverages we’d play Presidents and A**holes, or P&A as we prefer to call it.

P&A is a card game that traces it origins to an old Chinese game. It has an excellent strategy component and exciting trick play that surpasses Bridge because of its unpredictability. Better still, it offers opportunity for social stratification, drinking and ridicule, making it a perfect pastime.

Proper P&A requires at least 4 players but can be enjoyed by 7 or more with the addition of a second deck of cards. The game starts with a draw to determine positions. High card becomes President, next highest is VP on down to second lowest (Sphincter Boy) and lowest (the A**hole).

With each position come rights and responsibilities. The A**hole must deal, must wear a stupid hat, must “wipe” all cards after each trick and must give the President his best card. The President (or “The Decider” as he is known when this game is played in Washington) must give the A**hole his worst card and can make 3 rules that apply for the hand.

The President can also command any player to drink at any point (or do something similar like fetch beverages or eat 3 pink Mother’s cookies), and each player can do the same to those below them. Interestingly, wikipedia has a great discussion of Presidential Powers.

In P&A, all of the cards are dealt out, and the object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all of your cards. That person becomes the new President. The last player left with cards at the end of the game becomes the new A**hole. A person who is President 3 times in a row gets to make a law, a rule good for the entire evening, and a President 9 times in a row gets to make an über-rule, an edict enforced for all time.

The game starts when the President makes the first lead. A lead can be a card of any suit or rank or it can be 2, 3 or (very rarely) 4 of a kind. The opportunity to play after the lead continues around the table clockwise to the VP on down to the A**hole, and the only play allowed is a higher card (or cards if pairs, trips or quads were lead). If you can’t or don’t want to play on a trick, you pass and the last person to have played a card starts a new trick with a lead of his choosing.

In some versions of the game, a trick “wraps-around” giving people the chance to play multiple times. This source has a comprehensive listing of common variants of the game; however, when we play there is only the initial opportunity. This would be a valid play of pairs:

Pres: 7 7 VP: 10 10 SB: J J AH: Q Q
The AH would then start a new trick, and in the new round the Pres would be the first to play and the SB would be the last

This is also a valid sequence:

Pres: 4 VP: K SB: Pass AH: Pass
The VP (having displayed “crankage”) would have the lead since the players after him passed. In the new round the SB is first to play after the VP's lead and the Pres would be the last to have the chance to play

Invalid play would be putting pairs on top of a single card or vice-versa.

Low cards are dangerous, especially at the end of the game, so the strategy is to try to dump them as early as possible. Winning tricks is the best way to get rid of them, but to win you have to use your ammunition. Deciding when to split Queens is always an interesting call, and like Bridge, card counting is always helpful.

A final twist in our variant: Aces are high and they have magical powers. A single Ace wins any trick at any time. An example with SB leading:

SB: 4 4 4 AH: J J J Pres: Ace, ending the trick before the VP can play.
By playing 3 of a kind he AH has shed 3 cards, but 3 relatively high cards without the opportunity to lead a low card, something likely to hurt him at the end of the game. The Pres could use that Ace at anytime, but he likely took special pleasure in slapping down the AH. The best Presidents are feared and then show occassional kindness to the little people

It is always fun when a novice miscalculates and is left with a single low card. Nothing says, "you're the new AH" faster than that single 2. His only hope is that the player directly ahead of him plays his last card and wins the trick with that play. For example, assume the SB made the rookie mistake and the AH had the lead:

AH: 2 Pres: Q VP: K and out. Since the VP just played his last card (becoming the new President), the SB would get the lead

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


digg is a great source for fresh tech-related news. Popular subjects on are hardware, software, gaming, movies, music and robots. You can browse by subject or top stories, and it is easy to search.

Like slashdot, digg has a large readership that is technology-savvy and is willing to contribute to the community with comments and ratings. In contrast to slashdot, it is the community (not a moderator) that determines what makes it to the front page.

Once a story is posted to digg it sits in a holding area (sorted by post date as all digg stories except top stories are). Interested users can review it and decide it is spam, ignore it or “digg” it. If a story gets enough diggs it is promoted to the front page where it is most visible. Interestingly, that is exactly what happened to Warren’s MAME article this morning.

In the wee hours I decided to post a link to the MAME article to digg as an experiment. digg has been on my "to blog about" list for a while and I wanted to know more about how it worked. When I woke up this morning I was pleasantly surprised that the post had been dugg 17 times - and I was shocked by what happened later in the day. A little after 10 am it was promoted to the front page.

Now, 23 hours after I posted to digg, the MAME story has become the 22nd most popular of the day and I’ve had:

9,829 page views on my blog
8,101 unique visitors
882 diggs
42 comments on digg
14 comments on my blog
4 other blogs link to the post

By way of comparison, I tend to get about 80 page views and 50 unique vistors in a typical day. The hourly visitor and page view graph below highlights the front page effect as experienced by my site.

digg let’s you articulate friends so that its collaborative filtering can be personalized by what your friends are digging, a powerful feature. But, what is amazing about digg is the vibrancy of the community.

A great hope for the internet is that it could create a more efficient marketplace of ideas. Services like digg are certainly helping to fulfill that dream. Because a few people enjoyed Warren’s article and found it helpful, 10,000 people were able to read it today, and that is very cool.

Bonus link: a 2005 interview with the founders

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Paul's note: Warren's garage is awesome. It houses a drum set, a Robotron game purchased from eBay and perhaps the best invention ever: a MAME cabinet. In his second contribution to (at least) one cool thing, Warren describes how he built his MAME cabinet and ways you can re-create the classic gaming experience. The post is long but definitely worth it. It is the best guide I have read on the subject - by far. Warren writes:

Who remembers Space Invaders? Asteroids? Donkey Kong? Galaga? Pac-man? Ms. Pac-man? What about Centipede? Defender? Tempest? Missile Command?

Remember lining up quarters along the border of a classic arcade game that you planned on playing for the next hour or two? Remember the dimly lit arcades with the cranky proprietor who walked around with his coin apron always at the ready to open up the coin box and dislodge your token that didn’t quite make it through the mechanism? Yah, me too.

Well reminisce no longer! If you’re a classic arcade game enthusiast, you have a number of options to pursue these days to recreate an authentic, realistic game experience. And, believe it or not, it’s free… Well, at least the “brains” are free. What you do for the “brawn” is up to you and your pocketbook.

Getting Started

The “brains” of the system is an open source, classic arcade game software engine called MAME. In order to take advantage of MAME, all you have to do is:

Download MAME to your computer (alt link)
Retrieve one or more game ROM images (details below),
Place the ROM images in the appropriate folder on your computer,
Launch MAME, and have fun!

A Bit of Background

MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. As the name suggests, MAME emulates multiple arcade machines. In fact, it emulates over 3200 arcade machines from the late 70s all the way through the 90s and even a few more thereafter. Whatever games you recall playing in the past, MAME will emulate authentically.

One of the key points to understand about MAME is that it does not simulate any arcade games. It does not recreate a game by simply copying the graphics and sounds and game play in software. Instead, MAME precisely emulates the functionality and performance of the hardware system that was built to run the game in the original arcade system.

Since it’s a hardware emulation engine, MAME needs software in order to run and, just like the original arcade game cabinets, the software is contained in a set of memory chips called ROMs. MAME does not come with any ROMs; however, MAME allows you to take an exact copy of the ROMs that complement the game’s hardware (ROM Images), place them in a pre-designated folder on your computer, and run the game exactly as it ran in the original hardware platform. The result MAME is a perfect re-creation of thousands of classic arcade games leveraging the same game code (i.e., the ROMS) that resided in the original cabinets.
ROM Images

You may be wondering why MAME doesn’t come with any ROMs. After all, what use is a hardware emulator without any software? The answer is quite simple. The open source community that wrote MAME does not have the authority to distribute or sell the ROM images. In fact, the ROM images remain the copyrighted property of the companies who wrote/sold/licensed the original games.

Fortunately, for a few games, acquiring ROM Images is extremely easy. You can head on over to Star Roms and download ROMs for a bunch of classic titles from Atari, including Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, and Tempest.

[As several people have noted, StarROMs has gone out of business. I spoke to the founders and I have added an update below.]

There are also a few free ROM Images available on the web, including an interesting game called Gridlee.

The vast majority of ROM Images are neither free nor available for purchase, however. This means that you have to get pretty creative to obtain access to some of your favorite games without crossing the line of legality. For example, two of my favorite games are Robotron and Defender and I was having trouble finding a place to purchase legal ROM images for these games. Not to be deterred, I scoured the web for the actual ROM boards (try eBay) from these games and purchased them so that I had the physical ROM chips in my possession. I then broke out my ROM burner and started “ripping” the ROMs from one of the boards into hex files on my computer. After tediously ripping a few ROMS, I knew that this process of acquiring the ROM Images would eventually work out, so I “expedited” the ripping process by surfing over to a few of the “free” ROM Image sites and grabbed the complete ROM Images for both games.

Having purchased the actual ROMs for these games, I felt fine grabbing the images off the web. This is equivalent to downloading MP3s off the web for CDs you already own. I have to imagine that it’s legal and I certainly wouldn’t be embarrassed explaining what I had done if 60 Minutes came knocking at my door investigating the improper use of MAME ROM images.

Playing the Games

So you’ve downloaded MAME, grabbed some ROMs, and you’re ready to go. What do you do now? Here’s a quick guide to the keyboard commands that will get you on your way:

1) Launch MAME
2) Select and launch your game from the alphabetical list of arcade games
3) Once you’re in the game, here’s the minimum that you’ll need to know:

tab - Declares which keys or which controls affect game play
5 - Inserts a
1 - Single player start
2 - Dual player start
p - pause
esc – end game


If you want a more realistic game playing experience, you can purchase pre-assembled controls from SlikStik, X-Arcade and HanaHo or you can build your own boards from components. DIY links: - instructions & tips - buttons, joysticks, trackballs, spinners, and much, much more - more of the same - keyboard Encoders

Complete Arcade Game Cabinet

For the most realistic game playing experience, you need a cabinet. Where else can you line up your quarters? As with controls, there are two paths you can take. You can purchase complete cabinet systems from X-Arcade for $2995 or HanaHo for $4999. They ship you everything you need (including ROMs).

Alternately, you can do what I did and build your own full, upright arcade game cabinet. If you decide to build your own MAME arcade cabinet, be prepared to spend roughly four hours with a friend constructing the cabinet and assembling the various components. In addition, you’re going to have to cough up roughly $1500 to $3000 depending on which components you choose and your desired monitor size. One way to save money is by re-using an old computer. You don’t need the latest hardware to re-create 1980s technology.

• MAME – Free!
• ROMs – $0 to $5 to $500
• Controls – $500
• Cabinets – $1000
• Monitor – $470
• Speakers – $75
• Lights – $50
• Computer – $500-$1000

For my cabinet, I used SlikStik. Other quality suppliers include:

If you opt to build a complete arcade cabinet you’ll also need:

• a monitor. The best ones are the 27” D9200 Universal Digital Monitor and the Betson Imperial KT-2914 27” Monitor. If you use the Betson or a more conventional CRT you will also need a 15Khz arcade monitor video card (not req. for the D9200)
• speakers. I used the Creative Technology Inspire T3000 multimedia system, and I replaced the Creative speakers with Pioneer 5.25” car stereo speakers, TS-G1340R. I then taped the wired remote to the side of the cabinet
• lights. I used two 22” fluorescent under-cabinet lights from the American Fluorescent Corp and I attached them behind marquee with two metal “L” brackets and double stick tape

I am definitely pleased with the end result of my MAME cabinet construction project and I am certain that I have a very high quality unit; however, if I were to start over again, I might consider purchasing the pre-built X-Arcade cabinet instead of he SlikStik kit. For roughly the same price as my SlikStik cabinet, it appears that I would get jumpstarted with 190 games, rather than being forced to start from scratch purchasing ROMs and ROM images. Having not used the X-Arcade cabinet, I can’t vouch for the quality of the controls or the overall cabinet fit and finish, but a friend of mine just went this route. I’ll post back on this blog with an update once I have had an opportunity to check it out.

Additional MAME Resources

Here are some additional links that I encourage you to check out:

MAME for the Mac!
Wikipedia entry on MAME
• Popular Science
article on building your own MAME cabinet
• Wikipedia:
Golden Age of Arcade Games
Killer List of Video Games
Dragon’s Lair PC CD-ROM (runs on your PC, independent from MAME)

Update 5/3: StarROMS is dead...long live StarROMS!

Well, as a bunch of folks have pointed out, StarROMS has closed down their web site. Since I bought all of my ROMS from them last year, I hadn't realized that they had shut the doors just this past February. This is a terrible loss for the MAME community, since StarROMS was the only web site that I knew where one could legally obtain ROM Images for MAME.

I decided to try to contact the founders of StarROMS this afternoon to get the scoop on their business. As fortune would have it, I was able to get a hold of Frank and Jay, the proprietors of StarROMS. It was immediately apparent that they had the right attitude: they didn't care about making StarROMS into a big business, they just wanted to provide a safe place to buy ROM Images and enough business to keep themselves up and running.

Unfortunately, business wasn't as good as it needed to be. While they were able to get a deal struck with Atari, they were not able to negotiate reasonable deals with any of the other ROM license holders. Moreover, there was some confusion with respect to the rights to some of the Atari ROMS, and they were obligated to pull down a bunch of ROMS over time. So, what started off as an apparently self-sustaining business with a starting line-up of roughly 100 ROMS, turned into a challenging business with only 25 ROMS for sale. My hat is tipped to Frank and Jay for doing a great job and giving it all for the MAME community.

Clearly, there is still a huge need for a business like StarROMS. While the MAME community may have lost the battle here, we haven't lost the war. A number of MAME supporters are mobilizing an effort make even more ROMs available to the MAME community. So, stay tuned. We're writing the next chapter as we type...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tamba Hali

I’m not a fan of mixing sports and human interest stories. The desire to reach a wider audience by running fluff pieces instead of actual events has ruined the Olympics and it makes many pre-game shows unwatchable. That said, I encourage you read this profile of Tamba Hali in the Sporting News.

Tamba Hali was drafted in the 1st round on Saturday by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 20th overall selection. A consensus all-American, the 6’2” 260lb. defensive end led Penn State to a surprising 11-1 record and was likely the second best lineman in the nation.

Hali graduated in 4 years, a great accomplishment for someone who arrived in the US at the age of 11 without speaking any English, but much more remarkable were the circumstances of this immigration. Tamba escaped from Liberia in the middle of its exceptional bloody civil war. An estimated 300,000 people were killed and 1 million more became refugees. In Tamba’s words, “By the grace of God, I am alive.”

Tamba was able to come to the United States to join his father but his mother remained behind. It has been 11 years since he has seen her, but with the financial security that will accompany the start of his NFL career he hopes to be able to navigate INS barriers and bring his mother and her extended family to the United States. I wish Tamba the best of luck.