raleigh ranked the best place to live

miscellaneous No Comments »

hey, according to MSN and Sperling’s Best Places, we
(Daniel’s family) happen to be in the ‘best place to live’. kind of a
surprise to me. the criteria they used for this list included cost of
living, crime rate, education, home prices and weather.
here’s what the article had to say about raleigh :

Raleigh has the warmth and charm of a small southern town, while
still being large enough to provide all the amenities of big-city
living. Raleigh’s scores are above average in nearly every category.
The city has the second-best health score in the nation, thanks to
great air quality and affordable health care. The citizens of Raleigh
are a smart bunch—91% of its 312,000 residents have graduated from high
school, and nearly 19% have a four-year college degree. A healthy
economy and a low cost of living cement Raleigh’s ranking as America’s
Best Place to Live.

from the MSN website :

2. Denver, CO
Denver is a great place for those concerned about the economy. The city
has a low unemployment rate and affordable housing. Denver is winning
the battle against the air pollution problem that threatened in the
1990s, and its 554,636 residents now breathe some of the cleanest air
in the country. The ninth-safest big city in the country, Denver has a
low violent crime rate. With little rain and few days over 90 degrees
F, the climate is comfortable, with no noticeable humidity. There’s
also great recreation indoors and out, including world-class theater,
opera, dance and of course, skiing.

3. San Diego, CA
If you’re looking for the perfect climate, San Diego may be for you.
Just 20 miles north of Mexico, San Diego gets little precipitation,
very few extremely hot or cold days, and lots of sunshine. San Diego’s
economy is excellent, too, with a low unemployment rate and continuing
job growth. It’s a good place to own a home, thanks to rapid home
appreciation, low property tax, and a low property crime rate. With the
Pacific Ocean in their backyard, San Diegans also enjoy good air
quality, lots of options for outdoor recreation, and a vibrant fine
arts scene.

4. Punta Gorda, FL
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Punta
Gorda has the best economy score in the nation. Current and future job
growths are both excellent, the unemployment rate is very low, and the
cost of living is affordable. Florida’s tax structure can be very
favorable, with no personal income tax or property tax. House prices
are low and appreciate quickly, and utilities are inexpensive. Punta
Gorda’s 14,000 residents also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a
very low property crime rate, an extremely low personal crime rate, and
low health care costs. Punta Gorda’s climate is comfortable and commute
times are short. A very poor transit score and a significant lack of
recreation options only partially offset the great quality of life
Punta Gorda offers.

5. Tucson, AZ
The Sunbelt is the fastest growing region of
the United States, and for good reason. Few places can compare to
Tucson’s natural beauty. Set in the Sonoran Desert, the city’s air is
amazingly pure, there’s little snow and rain, and it rarely gets too
cold. To top it off, Tucson gets 287 days of sunshine a year! It’s no
surprise that this warm, sunny city has many spas, resorts, and golf
courses. The economy is also excellent in Tucson, with very low health
care costs and a low unemployment rate. For those looking to start a
family, houses can be quite affordable in Tucson.

6. Nassau-Suffolk, NY
The Long Island counties of Nassau
and Suffolk are perfect for young families. Just 15 minutes from New
York City, the area is extremely safe, and the educational climate is
one of the best in the country. Nassau-Suffolk has extremely low
property and violent crime rates. The school district spends over
$11,000 annually on each student, the most of any district in the
nation. This commitment to schooling is reflected in the high
graduation rate and the low pupil-to-teacher ratio. Nassau-Suffolk is
also a good place to buy a home. Reasonably priced homes can still be
found, and appreciation has lately been better than average. The
economy is good in Nassau-Suffolk, though it’s closely tied to that of
the New York City metro area. Nassau-Suffolk’s 2.78 million residents
enjoy extremely clean air as well as the recreational and cultural
options of the Big Apple.

7. Madison, WI
There’s a lot to get excited about living in
Madison. Home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison has one of the
highest education scores in the country. The percentage of high school
graduates is very high, and there is a very low pupil-to-teacher ratio.
Madison’s economy is in great shape too, with an extremely low
unemployment rate and a low cost of living. If you’re thinking about
home ownership, houses in this city of 200,000 people are inexpensive
and appreciate quickly. Madison is also an attractive choice for those
who are concerned with health and safety. Health costs are low, and
there are very low personal and property crime rates. The air is very
clean and it never gets too hot in Madison, but you will have to endure
some very cold winters.

8. Danbury, CT
Living just 70 miles north of Manhattan,
Danbury’s 75,000 residents enjoy one of the lowest personal crime rates
in the country, as well as an extremely low rate of property crime. The
economy is booming in the city, which has very good job growth and a
very low unemployment rate. The cost of living is very low, and home
prices are currently low and appreciating rapidly. Danburians can count
on lower than average health costs and cleaner than average air.
Danbury makes school spending a priority, and their schools boast a low
pupil to teacher ratio. Finally, Danbury has a buzzing nightlife,
featuring fine dining and a thriving theater and opera community.

9. Columbia, MO
The city of Columbia has an amazing
economy, boasting the lowest unemployment rate in the country and an
extremely low cost of living. Columbia draws much of its economic
stability from the University of Missouri, which enrolls or employs
nearly half of Columbia’s 85,000 residents. The university’s positive
influence is also seen in Columbia’s impressive high school graduation
rate and high percentage of graduate degree holders. The city also has
good news for prospective homeowners: house prices and utility costs
are low. Additionally, Columbia’s climate is mild and comfortable,
commute times are short, and there’s little crime.

10. Providence, RI
Providence wins this year’s award for
Most Improved City. For years, downtown Providence had fallen into
disuse as more and more citizens chose to make their home in the
suburbs and commute to the city for work. Recently though, the downtown
waterfront area has been revitalized and Providence has become a model
of urban renewal. This is reflected in the low unemployment rate and
very high rate of recent job growth. Making Providence even more
appealing is low housing costs, good home appreciation, and a low cost
of living. The city’s 174,000 residents are also safe - there is a very
low rate of personal crime and a low rate of property crime. The air is
nice and clean and it never gets too hot, though summertime humidity is
always a consideration on the Eastern Seaboard. The fine arts scene is
also notable, featuring outstanding symphony, theater, and opera
events. Providence schools also have one of the lowest pupil to teacher
ratios in the nation.

asian restaurant roundup…

food No Comments »

here’s my updated list of some of the asian restaurants Elaine and I frequent around the triangle area (yes, we’re like the de facto authority on all things asian around these parts….)
———————– updated from my original post from november 2002:

ASAHI Cary - This restaurant features sushi and other japanese selections. They also have some Korean dishes. Elaine and I normally get the bibim-bap (a spicy free for all mix with rice) and euk-e-jang (another spicy dish). The waitresses normally bother Alec with too many pinches to the cheek so we haven’t been in a while. But if we have a craving for those two dishes, we normally end up here.

KUKI Raleigh - a great place for sushi and california rolls. A wonderful variety of items on the menu that you can’t get anywhere else here in this area. Top quality stuff. We stopped going here after experiencing some bad service the last few times but we still rate this place high on our list for the quality of food.

SUSHI BLUES Raleigh - great food and great service. It’s near downtown raleigh so we don’t go there too often and it’s not that ‘family friendly’ so if we go, it’d be just the two of us. Again, since it’s around downtown, the parking is horrible. and even with bad parking the place gets pretty crowded. I look forward to eating there again. hopefully real soon. :)

WARAJI Raleigh - This is the default sushi place if we don’t feel like making the trek all the way to north raleigh (Kuki’s) or to downtown raleigh (Sushi Blues). Waraji is on Duraleigh Road sort of near Hwy. 70. They have a nice menu and we even took ethan with us on one occasion (and prayed hard that he’d behave….. and thank goodness he did :)

PAO LIM Durham - Service hasn’t been that great here so we normally do ‘take out’ from this place. We only like two dishes from here but the two dishes are superb : orange chicken and mongolian beef. mmmmmm.

CHINA EXPRESS Research Triangle Park - Mandarin House in Durham (which is now- Eastern Light) was the place to go for Korean style Jan-Pong and Ja-Jang Mein back in the eighties. Nowadays, China Express is ‘THE’ authority on those two dishes.

PF CHANG’s Raleigh - Yes, it’s a chain. but they make some great dishes. here’s what we normally get: the lettuce wraps, mongolian beef and the sichuan from the sea (calamari). Elaine would love for them to open one up closer to chapel hill though. either that or for us to just move to raleigh since we basically end up in raleigh or cary to eat!!!
UPDATE: They are opening one up at Southpoint mall (in durham) real soon!! can’t wait. hooray!

CHINA PEARL Cary - The food is pretty much average but the service is always good and it’s in a good spot. we stop by whenever we have to go to the cary walmart or the cary town center mall.

CRAZY FIRE Cary - Mongolian barbeque. mmmmmm. good stuff. kinda pricey for dinner. if we go, it would be for lunch. the kids don’t really like it (they prefer mickydee’s) so we haven’t been back in a while.

BALI HAI Raleigh - mongolian barbeque… mmmmmm. again. but they were here first. and it’s a tradition to endure BAD service there. the service has been bad for so long there it’s now just part of the ‘charm’ in getting mongolian barbeque at Bali Hai. kinda like the ’soup-nazi’ place in seinfeld.
UPDATE: they just opened a new one in durham near duke university. much nicer place, very clean and more upscale than the old raleigh location.
JAPAN EXPRESS Chapel Hill - they just opened up a few weeks ago. after going a couple times, we have to give it a thumbs down. but it’s cheap!

CHINA CHEF Chapel Hill - Essentially the only chinese restaurant we go to in chapel hill (Charlie’s Chinese is OK…. we like Charlie but his food is so-so…) China Chef isn’t all that special either but the lunch combo’s are a great deal and the Yu-Shan dishes are tasty.

MR. WOK RTP - Had the opportunity to check out ‘Mr. Wok’ (a fairly new restaurant over at Triangle Square in RTP) for lunch recently. Not bad. It’s one of the better chinese buffet restaurants in the area, IMO. The amount of items on the buffet isn’t as large and varied as one of those ’super-sized’ buffets like ‘Royal China Buffet’ but (…. and more importantly) the dishes were tasty, the place was clean and the service was pretty good.

The BIG BOWL - we’ve tried out this place at southpoint mall several times. the foods not all that great and the service was pretty bad each time we went. plus! for some reason, the place had a big time fly problem. we actually had a fly land right into one of the spring roll sauces and die. too spicy maybe? anyway, we probably won’t be back here.

The LANTERN - Lantern is a nice pan-Asian, casual-chic-type restaurant on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. The place was small and very crowded but the service was top-notch and the food was excellent.

spykids 3D

miscellaneous No Comments »

Elaine and Ethan checked out the new movie Spykids 3D while Daniel and Alec had some bonding time at home.
Elaine’s quick review of the movie: “yuck! you should have taken Ethan to see this one, Daniel!!”
Ethan’s review: “cool! loved the 3D glasses… but my dad thinks it’ll ruin my eyes!”

kids and 80’s music

miscellaneous No Comments »

i have a couple of old 80’s mix tapes in the car. and i play them every
once in a while between all the veggie tales music and disney tunes
Ethan and Alec demand for. surprisingly Ethan and Alec have become a
fan of some of the eighties music i have on tape. namely, Bonnie
Tyler’s Hero and Hall and Oates’ Private Eyes. recently
they’ve been wanting to hear those two songs over and over again. funny
stuff. they pose like superman with outstretched arms during the song Hero.
listening to these eighties songs now, i kinda understand how the songs
can actually be appealing to kids’ ears. with the dated synthesizer
patches and boxy drum machine sounds, the songs do sound ‘corny’ and
‘harmless’ … a lot like how the disney and veggie tales songs sound
like. i might just dig up more eighties tunes and make a new
compilation just for the kids to listen to. maybe, just maybe i can
convert my kids into being Todd Rundgren fans!! Elaine would just love that, heh, heh.

12-inch saturday night…

it's all about me!!, music Comments Off

during my saturday evening stint here at work, i had a chance to catch a show on the radio that i normal don’t get an opportunity to listen to … you know, normally saturday night’s reserved for parties, parties and more parties ;) . The show was called 12-inch saturday night. It’s a weekly syndicated radio show that basically plays remixes of ol’ eighties tunes. man, they played stuff i haven’t heard in years! one song that was played that evening, Dead or Alive’s Brand New Lover, reminded me of the time i used to be so into “80’s new wave dance” music. you know, sorta like eurodance music. it was just a phase really (i swear!) . i mean, new wave dance was sooo anti-musician. everything was pre-programmed into a sequencer and the drum machine rhythms were simple “four on the floor” beats. but even so, the songs were so damn catchy. (plus, there are still artists today that carry on the torch from this genre… like Daniel Bedingfield) it got me thinking about what i listened to during that time period. check this out. here’s my list of some of what i used to like back then…

New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle (plus the rest of the compilation CD ‘Substance’) - i really don’t get tired of listening to bizarre love triangle. i’m not sure why b/c i get tired of songs rather easily most of the time. it’s just a fun song to listen to.

Erasure - A Little Respect - yes, i know the lead singer’s outrageously gay and all but they had some really good pop songs with hooks galore.

Depeche Mode - Black Celebration (the album) - loved that whole album. it really introduced me to songs with dark, melancholy lyrics. check out the songs A Question of Lust and Sometimes.

When In Rome - The Promise - OK, they’re a mega-one hit wonder. i don’t know much about them but the song still gets played on the radio every once in a while. one thing about the song though…. i swear, the second vocalist singing harmony is slightly out of tune at times. yuck. it gets on my nerves every time i hear it. but it’s still a catchy tune.

Kon Kan - I Beg Your Pardon - ah, yes, another one hit wonder. the song was cool though. it had a sample of Lynn Anderson’s hit “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” that was used as the hook in the song.

Alphaville - Forever Young - ah, the quintessential 80’s new wave song. …now used as a car commercial.

Information Society - What’s On Your Mind? (Pure Energy) - this was so played to death on the radio at the time.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - The Best of OMD especially Dreaming and Secret yes, they’re the same guys that did “If You Leave” from Pretty in Pink.

The Art of Noise - In Visible Silence - this album as well as their previous work (Who’s Afraid of?) blew my mind. weird, experimental stuff with big dance beats. loved it!

Thompson Twins - Into the Gap including Doctor! Doctor! and You Take Me Up. - great musicianship and creative songwriting. too bad they never made it out of the eighties.

cover me

it's all about me!!, music No Comments »

so what would be on your own cover album? as mentioned in a previous post, mandy moore’s got a pretty interesting set of songs on her upcoming cover album. now i’d be interested in seeing what other folks would pick if they had a chance to record their own cover album. here’s what i came up with:

1) Oh! Darling by The Beatles : one of the songs i learned on guitar early on. i love the chords to this song. and the maniacal way Paul McCartney sings this song is just fun to imitate. kinda therapeutic singing this song at the top of your lungs..
Oh! Darling, if you leave me I’ll never make it alone
Believe me when I tell you I’ll never DO you no harm!!!!

2) Crazy Game by The Indigo Girls : another song i learned on guitar early on. i had a sense of accomplishment after i learned this one. hey, come on, chords like B11, B7+5-9, Emaj7 aren’t that easy to play! anyway, a great song by emily saliers.
dry your eyes, eyes like yours should carry a smile
I haven’t seen them sparkle in a while
give it one more try, dry your eyes

3) Parallel Lines by Todd Rundgren : forget Can We Still Be Friends and Hello It’s Me, Parallel Lines is the one song Todd should be known for. It’s perfect. wonderful chords, meaningful lyrics and a soaring chorus. it’s a song that i never get tired of listening to.
Kindred spirits moving along the spiral, I can see you up on another level
It’s too great a fall and I can’t reach you to pull me higher
But I don’t seem to get much closer or any more far..

4) Without You by Asia : the song got me through some rough nights after a breakup in high school. it’s not the best song done by the group but it definitely brings back memories.
Outside the light, fading as I write and another night reminds me
As I sleep, memory that I keep It’s just another night without you

5) Earn Enough for Us by XTC : man, i used to listen to this album repeatedly over and over again during my freshman year in college. it’s my favorite XTC album of all time. great musicianship and smart, always interesting lyrics.
I can take humiliation and hurtful comments from the boss
I’m just praying by the weekend, I can earn enough for us

6) Changes by Yes : It just boggles the mind how they can come up with these complex instrumental sections in their songs. the odd time signatures in the intro to this song really threw me when i first heard it. amazing stuff. opened my eyes to what can be done in a five minute pop-rock song. plus Trevor Rabin is a genius!
Change changing places root yourself to the ground
Capitalize on this good fortune one word can bring you round..

7) Vanity Kills by ABC : I loved the album ‘How to be a Zillionaire’! great imaginative production (a lot of fairlight synth usage so it sounds kinda dated now…) catchy hooks and cool lyrics. plus a great sense of humor! this one screams ‘high school social scene’ to me!
glad you’ve found someone who loves you but sad to say that someone is you
And now perhaps you’ll both be happy, guess that makes two, just you and you
Someone who cares so much about you but does that someone have to be YOU!

8) A Fool and His Money by Wang Chung: Wang Chung’s mosaic is an album i hate to admit i have in my collection but it’s superb! i give all the credit to producer Peter Wolf. he’s a genius! and if you know me, you’d know that i don’t use that word too often, heh, heh. I think the album still holds up well even now. this was my theme song after a breakup in college. ..this song and ‘Love Stinks’ by the J. Geils Band..
I paid the price with a love I thought was strong
Counting on you I was wrong..

9) Distant Sun by Crowded House : Neil Finn is a genius! :) i think i learned most of their songs on guitar. tremendous stuff. great imagery. the song still gets me every time i sing it.
seven worlds will collide whenever i’m by your side
dust from a distant sun will shower over everyone..

10) The Only One by Bryan Adams : OK, like i’ve mentioned in the past, when i first got my electric guitar, i wanted to be like bryan adams. …’early’ bryan adams like cuts like a knife bryan adams. not the current ballad-singing bryan adams. no, back when he was cool! anyway, the song itself is not all that great. the lyrics are crap and there are a total of four chords to this song. but it’s just fun to play guitar and sing with.
Cause it’s been so long since I’ve felt so strong
About anyone at all, I get so excited
I ain’t gonna fight it
I think I might be fallin’ in love

i actually sang this song to a girl once. it didn’t help me though. i guess she just wasn’t impressed by the inane words and the simple chord progression. maybe i shoulda sang Oh! Darling. ;)

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