I have a new found fascination for Journey.  I’ve only recently discovered the extent of the popularity of the songs recorded by this band.  Until the beginning of 2008, I didn’t quite know who they were.  This disturbs me, because I thought I was fairly well educated in the classic rock bands of the 70s and 80s.  I’ve been listening to their music incessently on YouTube – not the greatest quality, but it sufficient.  I also really want to revitalize my MP3 collections, but that is hours and hours of work.  I’ve been wanting to revitalize that for years now.  Some day, some day…


#3 in the list of my Philadelphia “Must-Visits” (Yes, I’ve been eating out a lot), is Penang.   It can be found on 10th and Arch.  It is a Malaysian restaurant in the Chinatown area of Philadelphia that I first visited back in 2002.  For a vegetarian, opening the menu there can be disheartening until one learns that almost everything on can be made in a “veggie, no meat” option.   Upon being seated, you are given a pot of hot herbal tea and small, oriental porcelean cups.  Upon closer inspection, a lot of the menu has Indian and Thai influence.  Try the Roti Telur and Roti Kanai for apetizers, but make sure to tell them no meat.  Main courses can be chosen from a variety of fried and drunken noodles, or rice dishes that are delightfully flavored and suit the Indian palate.  It is great escape from the normal mild and almost flavorless American food found everywhere else.  I think my absolute favorite part of the meal is the end – when they bring out sliced oranges or “mosambi” that clears the mouth of all the other taste of the night and leaves one with a wonderfully clean, slightly sweet flavor.


MadMex is my second nomination for a Philadelphia “Must-Visit”.  It’s official address is 3401 Walnut Street, but it can actually be found at 35th and Movarian, a tiny street that is not really a street between Sansom and Walnut.  It is in the University City area and is generally crowded with college kids.  Its got great specials, including half-off food at various times during the week.  A large selection of beer and great margaritas are always available.  And to top it off, the food is excellent.  I’ve been there several dozen times in the last 7 years I’ve spent in Philadelphia.  I’ve been there for a few memorable birthdays and other occasions where things have got — somewhat out of hand.  When I’m looking for great Mexican food, MadMex is my top choice.


I changed banks for this website –  I think everybody should use it.

I’ve always been rather careful about how much money I have and how much I’ve spent.  I would usually check my bank and credit accounts every few days and I knew my networth within a few hundered dollars at any given moment.  I got my need for close money management from my mum, I suppose.  As a kid, I used to watch her write down her expenses in a notebook that she kept in her cuppboard.  Her’s was nothing fancy, just a list of how much was spent and what the expense was on.  When I moved to the US in September 2001, and was for the first time responsible for my own money, I started to do the same.  Every dollar I spent was documented in a little diary. It slowly evolved into calculating my weekly expenditures and bank balance, but for nearly two years it was all hand-written.  I experimented with various Excel spreadsheets with complicated forumals in cells, but that never quite satisfied what I was looking for.  I was suggested Quicken and MS Money, but then never quite appealed to me (I think amount of manual work required for software that was supposed to automate something, irked me.) Some years ago, I stopped keeping track of money manually and resorted to checking bank and credit card accounts almost daily.  When I was a student and didn’t have much income, or resources, this was easy enough.  As I moved out into the professional world, this became somewhat harder with regular income and tons of expenses.  Adding to this was the complication of several credit accounts.  Nonetheless, at any given moment, I could reasonably estimate what I had in which account.

To someone like me, Mint is a boon.  I’m sorely dissapointed that it is a US-only tool at this time.  For now, I’m here and I’m enjoying it.

Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp: I watched this documentry last night.  I’m writing these thoughts without reading any other reviews of the movie, save the snippets that come up on the Netflix website and the movie’s Wikipedia site that I pulled up to find the director’s name, etc.  I’d seen trailers for the movie some years ago, but was unable to find more details about it at that time.  I’m glad I got the chance to watch it.

The movie provides an overview of a “bible-camp” that Evangelical Christians in Missouri attend.  The camp is focussed on childern in the 7-12 year range.  The movie itself focusses on 3 or 4 kids and their journey from being introduced to the camp, attending it, and their impressions and actions after it.  The movie alternates between scenes of the childern at camp and other places and an admittedly Christian radio talk show host who can not fathom the creation of the next generation of Jesus’s army.  Significantly more time is spent on the children than on the radio talk show host and there is no other negetive commentry on the former.  It is a surprisingly balanced view on the the reasons why parents send their kids to such camps and the reason people run such camps.  However, the filming of the movie (angles, length of shots, etc) itself does cast a somewhat negative light on the premise of the documentary.

As an observer and viewer, some things in the movie frighten me and other things impress me.  Firstly, I’m concerned by the age of the children being indoctrinated.  Getting them this young means they really never get the chance to learn any other point of view.  Secondly, having such firm beliefs implanted from such a young age probably makes one more likely to be an extremist later in life.  I have no proof of this, but don’t middle-eastern extremists get started similarly.  Thirdly, the rationale of the parents camp authorities for why they run this camp is “because they’re doing it too”.  Finally, the “trance” the children seem to be in at various times through out the film frighten me.  They are shown to be in tears for what they claim are reasons that even I can not comprehend.  What impresses about the kids is their cohereance and ability to string together well thought out sentences about why they’re doing the things they are doing.  Now I dont know if they’ve just been so thoroughly brainwashed that this is all they know, or they’re really capable of thought that I think is atypical of children of that age.

Overall, a recommended watch.