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A 3-day visit to Golden Triangle, North Carolina May 29, 2010

Posted by hslu in Restaurants, Travel.
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A 3-day visit to the Golden Triangle area, North Carolina

Third Day

After some research, we decided to visit the State capital before driving to the State Farmer Market. We’d pick up some 桂花 and then drove to Cary to take a look of this small vibrant bedroom community for the Research Triangle Park. It was ranked one of the top 10 best small cities to live in the United States. The average age of Cary’s population is amazingly low: under 40 years old. From the literature there is a large Asian population and the city looked a lot like the city we lived for 10 years before moving to NV: Plano, Texas. Another reason I wanted to see this small town before driving back to NV was its collection of restaurants. I wanted to have a good lunch before leaving this region.

The NC state capital was open to public but there wasn’t a whole lot to see. It was old and small. Only the governor works there while the state legislatures use a more modern building to conduct state’s business.

No memorial for Vietnam War

At Farmers Market, we picked up two 桂花 plants at 1/3 the price of what we’d pay at Merrifield Nursery. We also bought a Japanese maple tree and a fig plant at bargain basement prices.

Cary was about ½ the size of Plano but it did reminded me Plano: well planned communities, wide streets, lots of open spaces, parks and trees, office parks and numerous new strip malls. We drove around for about ½ and hour relying on iPhone to navigate the streets. We narrowed our choices to two and finally picked a Czech restaurant called Klara’s.

The staff at this casual and contemporary restaurant was very friendly. We chose to sit outside at the patio to enjoy the sunshine and the relaxed outdoor dining atmosphere. It had an extensive menu filled with Czech and European cuisines such as goulash and potato dumplings with sauerkraut. Some of them looked like German dishes to me. There was also a wide selection of Czech beers and long lists of wines by the glass. Surprisingly the prices were also very reasonable too. Let me hold on to my judgment until I had a chance to see how big the portions were.

We ordered:

  • Czechvar lager $3.50

This is the original Czech Budweiser Budvar but was marketed in the U. S. as Czechvar because of decades’ long lawsuit with you know who. This light gold lager had a crisp and smooth finish with nice aroma on the nose. It wasn’t heavy and was good with our meal. Budweiser Budvar is one of the most famous beer brands in the Czech Republic. I’ll look for this beer at local wine shops to enjoy it with BBQ and steaks in the summer.

  • Overstone “Malborough” Sauvignon Blanc 2007, New Zealand ($7.00 )

Tropical fruit on the nose, crisp and refreshing; much like Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc that we liked so much from JJ’s wedding.

  • Beef Broth with Noodles and Carrot ($4.00)

This was a light flavored soup suitable for a lazy sunny day. Not stuffy like beef vegetable soup we commonly see at other restaurants.

  • Stuffed Potato Dumplings or Bramborove Knedliky ($10.50)

This was the first time we’ve ever tried this kind of dish. It was good and not greasy. I did like the bacon a little more crispy than what we had though. sauerkraut and caramelized onions added a nice compliment to this heavy dish.

  • Bohemian Roast Beef ($9.50 )

I didn’t enjoy this sliced beef sirloin dish as much as the stuffed potato because the meat was over-cooked and the vegetable-cream sauce wasn’t properly seasoned. The flour-bread dumpling wasn’t very special either.

  • Homemade Apple Strudel ($7.00)

This nice-looking dessert was served warm and came with vanilla ice-cream and whipped cream. If I had to pick bones with the pastry chef, I liked the apple cooked a bit longer. May be the chef could saute the apple slices in butter and brown sugar first before incorporated them into the pastry dough. Walnut added a nice touch. Pastry was flaky and wonderful. Ice cream was great with the strudel but I didn’t care for the whipped cream. That’s a personal preference though.

Klara’s was a nice little restaurant with good food, friendly service, relax atmosphere, good portion and reasonable prices. Our first experience with Czech food turned out to be a very memorable one. We’d truly enjoyed it and will look for other Czech restaurants in Northern Virginia and try other Czech dishes.

Driving home from Cary took longer than I thought because of heavy rain on the way to Richmond. But the 3-day trip was a nice retreat from the daily grind but it is unlikely that we’ll make another trip to this region in any time soon.

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Uno in Dulles Mall Closed May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Do you know?, Restaurants.
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I was surprised to find out last week that Uno Chicago Grill in Dulles in Dulles Shopping Mall closed for good.

I am not sure when did Uno close for business. It might have been a few weeks by now.

Does anyone know?

Clinton, Sestak, Obama and Chicage Style Politics May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Obama, Politics.
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Why was Bill Clinton involved in the Joe Sestak conversation? Clinton hates Obama. If it is up to Clinton, he’ll have Obama bring coffee to him and Kennedy.

So, what did Clinton get in return? Did Clinton see an opportunity to destroy Obama by agreeing to speak to Joe Sestak?

What was Arlen Specter’s role in this scandal? Did Arlen initiated this through White House? What position did Obama promise Sestak? Secretary of the Navy?

There must be a cover up. As the drama unfolds, the main street media will turn against Obama and look for juicy Chicago style politics stories to tell.

Are we looking at another Watergate?

This guy is slicker than Bill Clinton May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Energy, Obama, Politics.
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What a cheap shot from American’s black president yesterday; the day BP may have plugged that damn hole!

Towards the end of his news conference on oil spill, he said:

“When I woke this morning and I’m shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”

The key word in this sentence is “you.” But the fact of the matter was and continued is that Obama hasn’t done anything to plug the hole.

BP has. BP’s rig hands, engineers and researchers have worked together to plug the hole. Not Obama.

She should have said ” Did BP plug the hole yet?

BP’s research staff and operation personnel have worked their tails off days in and days out in order to come up with an ad hoc method to plug that damn hole. They have been under tremendous pressure to try anything that’s remotely feasible at a water depth of 5,000′. Everyone at BP and for that matter, everyone works in the oil industry, had a big rock on his or her shoulders. They have been depressed and they have been saddened by the event. And they hoped BP engineers succeed in their efforts to plug the damn hole. Because it could have been ExxonMobil, Shell or Texaco’s rig that was blown up and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

They must have had dozens of brainstorming sessions in each and every disciplines since the explosion more than a month ago. They stayed up late at night analyzing the technical data and video images from the live feeds. They collected fluid from the wellhead and analyzed its compositions in the lab. They ran simulators to figure out the feasibility of all proposed methods. They ran tests in the lab trying to find the best combination of fluids and drilling mud in order to stop the leak.

Other companies offered BP their drilling rigs. They offered BP their best experts. They offered BP their facilities. They offered BP their technical and spiritual supports. All these companies are on the same boat. The boat is taking on water because of this unfortunate event. These and many smaller companies must have drilled thousands of wells in the Gulf of Mexico and haven’t had anything like this before.

They coordinated with Transocean and other oil companies and service companies to figure out the best location and trajectory of the relief wells. They analyzed rig data prior to the accident and try to figure out what have happened on that tragic day. Everyone involved with that well stayed late and put in overtime just to try to figure out what went wrong. The survivors provided their input. The well operators made suggestions and offered their recollections on what they remembered moments prior the blowout. Everyone inside BP; everyone in the oil industry and everyone had an interest in the operation wish a speedy conclusion to this unfortunate events.

And what did Obama do? He played golf. He went to California attending a $1700 per plate fund raising event for Boxer. he played basketballs with reporters. He entertained Mexico president and bashing the state of Arizona. He then said some thing about his daughter and tried to take credit of all the hard work by BP engineers and research personnel.

If you do not believe me, ask James Carville, the most liberal Democrat strategist ever lived. He’ll tell you what Obama did since April 20: Zero! Zilch! Nada!

According to news report, Carville said this about Obama on national TV: “Man, you got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving! We’re about to die down here!”.

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/05/26/video-carville-goes-ballistic-on-obama-over-oil-spill/

Shame on him!

Shame on him!

Shame on him!

What a cheap shot at BP research staff, operation engineers and well hand’ expense. If I had stayed with my former company, I may be working 60 to 80 hours a week now in Houston trying to help with the situation.

Being a former oil industry researcher, I felt their pain deep in my heart.

I thought Bill Clinton is the slickest president in American history.

I was wrong.

Obama tops him by a mile.

Obama has no shame. Politicians!

天下的乌鸦一般黑!”tian1 xia4 de4 wu1 ya1 yi1 ban1 hei1.”

Some darker than the others.

Washington DC, free condoms and liberals May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Politics.
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No wonder Washington DC is short on money these days:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/21/dc-teens-say-free-condoms_n_584776.html

What can you expect from a liberal government?

Is this the bankruptcy of American’s family value and moral?

Or is it the sign of the time.

Many people do not think this is a big deal. Just wait until your 2nd grader asks you about this free program.

Tara Thai, Falls Church May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Economics, Restaurants.
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I got a post office flier from Tara Thai on Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. This was the first time I saw any form of ad from this popular Thai restaurant. It has been in business more than 10 years at the same location. They must have done well in the past.

Post office fliers are the most expensive form of advertisement; more than Money Mailer; more than Clipper’s and more than Falls Church News Express ads.

Is their business down to the point that they have to do an ad through the post office?

Elevation Burger – Falls Church May 28, 2010

Posted by hslu in Restaurants.
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Drove by Elevation Burger on the way to Seven Corners the other day and saw the place busy with dine in customers after 9 PM on a Tuesday night.

A few days ago, we decided to give it a try and was somewhat disappointed.

Here is my question: where is the beef?

I didn’t realize that Elevation is a organic restaurant until we walked in the brightly lit place. Its operation is similar to that of Five Guys and it  has the look of a Chipotle.

We each ordered a regular burger and an order of fries. When I got the burger, it looked so small that it appeared to be no bigger than a junior burger at Wendy’s. The beef patty was so small that I could not see the beef because it was even smaller than the bun.It was dry and has not much of a taste. I had to add some ketchup to finish the burger. Bao’s burger tasted a little burger because she ordered burger with the house sauce.

The fries at Elevation and Five Guys cost about the same but we only got about half the fries at Elevation. They weren’t as good as Five Guys fries either.

Unless you have to have organic burger, do not come here. Five Guys burger is much better.

Deep water drilling in GoM to stop for 6 months May 27, 2010

Posted by hslu in Energy, Global Affair.
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The white house just announced that all deep water drilling operations will have to shut down for at least 6 months. All operations at 33 deep-water rigs in GoM have to stop no matter of its operation status.

I expected this to happen in light of BP oil well explosion and it did. Many people in Louisiana will lose their jobs and incomes. They will be on the unemployment line until this ban is lifted. It will set back the progress of US deep water drilling for more than a year or two. Oil companies may pull their capitals away from the United States and seeking other nations for better returns and opportunities.

By that time, new regulations will be put into action which will further curtail oil productions from GoM.

That’s one of the reasons why all oil companies stocks have been under a lot of selling pressure.

The bottom line is this: the decline of US oil production will accelerate and import will have to rise to fill the widening gap. Oil prices will go up because of lower supply.

Saudis, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela are laughing all the way to their banks.

Global wealth transfer from countries such as U.S. to oil exporting countries will pick up pace and many Americans have no idea about this at all.

Live feed from BP oil well blowout May 27, 2010

Posted by hslu in Energy.
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In case you haven’t seen it:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/27/gulf.oil.spill/index.html?hpt=T1

The live view link is in the middle of the news article.

I have a feeling that the effectiveness of the “top kill” may be limited.

BP may have to try the procedure again.

A Bilingual country is a troubled country May 27, 2010

Posted by hslu in Obama, Politics.
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We lived in Calgary, Alberta for a year and half in the late 1980’s.  Some of our Chinese friends up there sent their kids to learn French because, according to them, anyone who wanted to make it in Canada had to know French.

However, the English speaking Canadians didn’t like Quebecois and Quebecois looked down on people from other provinces. A few times in the past, Quebecois wanted to separate from Canada and formed their own country. The secession effort fell short in public referendums but the sentiment was still there.

The United States will face the similar dilemma in a few decades. With the passage of Arizona Immigration law, we have a peek prelude of what’s going to happen less than 50 years from now.

The Latino population is projected to triple by 2050 and will represent 30% of the US population. Number of Hispanics in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Florida will exceed 50% of the state population. The political cloud of Hispanics will far exceed the outcries of boycott by Los Angeles, San Francisco , Milwaukee, Austin, Boston, Washington D.C, New York City and many Latino right groups such as National Council of La Raza.

To fan the fire, Obama agreed with the visiting Mexican president and attack Arizona legislature; even direct his administration to examine the law and see if it violates civil rights. He is doing so to please Latino voters in the upcoming election. In other words, the American president, instead of asking Latinos and cities across the country to reconsider their objections against Arizona, seeks to divide the country instead.

What kind of president is this?

What Obama failed to point out was the failure of the federal government to enforce the immigration law and protect American border with Mexico. Arizona had no option but to pass the law in order to reduce number of illegal immigrants reside in its state.

I also think that whites, currently account for 67% of the population in the US, saw the increasing threats from Hispanics, legal and illegal, and decided to take the matter in their own hands in order to stop the tide. American whites are projected to decrease to 47% of the US population in 2050.

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