Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween is just about here ...

And I've got a bit of the devil inside me ...

So you wanna move to L.A.?

And you wanna know how much it's gonna dig into your wallet? 

The total cost of moving to LA (from the other coast) will depend on a lot of factors so it’s very difficult to give an accurate estimate. Thankfully, the final cost will really depend on YOU and what you’re willing to do to keep costs as low as possible.

Let’s just look at the first month and see what you would be looking at financially.

Here are your major expenses:

1) MOVING: The most economical way is to hire a U-haul and load it up with as much stuff as possible. Of course, that will limit how much stuff you’re bringing with you but hopefully you’re not moving a whole house worth of crap. It’s gonna take a couple of days to do a cross-country journey and it’s better if can convince a friend to take the journey with you to cram more driving hours into the day.

Estimated cost: $1500. This price will be higher if you want to take more stuff with you and take longer to drive or lower if you decide to leave most of your junk behind and just jump on a plane.

2) APARTMENT: First you have to decide if you want to get into a roommate situation or rent a one bedroom. Obviously the roommate sitch is cheaper but I can tell you from first hand experience that roommates are crazy and will spend every waking hour trying to drive you crazy so the discounted living quarters may not be worth it. If you want to live in the valley close to Hollywood, you need to search in the following neighborhoods; Universal City, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood and possibly Van Nuys. Don’t even think about living in Northridge, Chatsworth or Encino if you want to get any respect from people living over the hill.

Estimated cost: $700 (shared) to $1200 (one bedroom). Of course, the move in costs are doubled because they will ask for a security deposit so you’ll want at least $1400 to $2400.

3) FOOD: Eating in LA is damned expensive unless you decide that you can survive on the Subway/Carl’s Jr. diet. I shop at Ralph’s grocery store and I tend to buy about $400 worth of groceries each month but admittedly, I’m not always looking for deals and I’m not a coupon clipper.

It’s hard to stay away from restaurant eating once and a while. And if you’re in LA, you should check out some of the scene. So …

Estimated cost: I’m gonna go with $300 to $500.

4) CAR: Don’t even think about using the public transportation system in LA. Actually, I have a metro link close to my apartment and it isn’t a bad way to get down to Hollywood but it’s pretty much the same price as when I drive. It is also a longer trip. So you need a car. And it has to be reliable; the last thing you want it to be stuck on the 101 because your transmission blew up and suddenly, you’re gonna be 2 hours late for a script meeting. Cost of gas is very expensive and can be painfully expensive if you have a long commute to work. Also add in the insurance. When I moved to California, my insurance rates doubled and I got less coverage. Welcome to helLA!

Estimated cost: Including gas and insurance, $300 to $500.

5) MISCELLANEOUS: There are other costs involved such as apartment utilities, internet, cell phone, movie tickets, gym fees (c’mon, this is LA, you gotta look good) as well as parking tickets (we all get them, just accept this fact). And you do want a buffer of cash, just for emergencies.

Estimated costs: For the first month, I would have an extra grand on hand, just in case. You never know in this crazy city.

Let’s see. It adds up to $4500 on the low side to about $6000 on the high side. That sounds about right. Ideally, you will have a good job that will pay the bills after the first month and by the second month, you’ve sold that million dollar script and will be working out the costs to move to BH.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chip me NOT!

Here is an email that I recently sent to the people behind the website http://www.chipmenot.org/.  These wonderful people suggest that pet microchips cause cancer.


I would like to thank you for the great job that you’re doing in spreading the word about microchips.

Forget about science or facts or proving anything, it is a far better approach to just use great headlines and fear to get your message across to the ignorant public. Good job!

I especially like the photos of the microchips in the tumors. That definitely proves causality! And those mice studies are very convincing because we all know what happens in a tumor-prone rodent must also happen to our beloved pets.

As a veterinarian, I haven’t seen a tumor-inducing microchip in the 16 years that I have been in clinical practice but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. From this point forward, I will stop recommending those darn cancer-causing transmitters. Instead, I will teach my patients to pick up the phone and dial 911 whenever they get lost.

Oh but wait, I can’t have the pets call 911. Cell phones cause brain cancer! I know I read that somewhere. Damnit.

This can only mean that shelters will see an increase in lost pets and have to euthanize a lot more—but if this is the cost of waging war against cancer in .00008% of the population, then I’m all for it!

You truly must be animal lovers.

God bless,

Dr. C

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Canadian Autumn

Autumn is certainly not my favourite season because it means that winter is right around the corner. 

Not that I have to worry about snow anymore since I live in Southern California, but I still have those lingering memories of six feet snowdrifts and having to shovel out my car before I was able to drive to university in the morning. 

I was blessed to have the chance to travel back to southwestern Ontario last week and experience the beauty of the fall season.  I have always said that you have to be away from something before you can truly appreciate it and there is no better example of this than my trip to the family cottage for the Canadian Thanksgiving. 

The colours were brilliant at this time of year.  I was never into taking pictures of leaves before and yes, it isn't terribly exciting but at least I'm not showing you ALL of the pictures I took. 

Here is the family cottage.  It is like a tough old lady, braving all the Canadian elements and so far, she is still standing.  The bathroom is a little like Quebec in the 80s--it desperately wants to separate from the larger structure--but as of this writing, the cottage with all its parts, is still intact.   

The Blue Jay was out and about.  Eating the peanuts we fed it.  Not sure how the Toronto Blue Jays did this year--I was never really a fan which is probably quite disgraceful since they probably need all the support they can get. 

One day, we went to the St. Jacob's Farmer's Market where you could buy massive pots of flowers for $5.  That's impressive and before you say that Canadian money is like Monopoly money, I would like to let you know that the Canadian dollar is almost AT PAR with the American dollar.  And it briefly went OVER PAR in Europe.  So it deserves a little more respect.

And St. Jacob's is the center of the Mennonite community in southwestern Ontario.  They are very similar to the Amish--they like their clothes on the black side and they like to farm.  They also make great summer sausage and if you have never tried it, you should jump on a plane and get yourself up to Canada to taste some as soon as possible.  Hmmm, on second thought, it may not be available right now so you'll have to wait till next year.  Oh well.   

The Mennonites travel arround in buggies which is a little unfortunate since cars tend to hit them.  You see that big triangle on the back?  There's a reason for it.  Give them the right of way, please!  We want them to make more summer sausage! 

And here is the famous West Montrose covered bridge.  This is what we call a tourist attraction in southwestern Ontario. 

It is considered a kissing bridge because you are out of sight as you cross the bridge and can lock lips with your cousin if you so desire. 

According to the plaque, it is the last remaining covered bridge in Ontario and was built in 1881. 

Lake Belwood is just outside of Fergus which is about an hour outside of Toronto.  The lake has many different personalities.  At the time this picture was taken, it was in a particularly pensive mood. 

There is no denying that winter is on its way. 

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  For the record, I hate pumpkin pie but I like the idea of it. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

End of a Quick Vacation

It didn't last very long.

I was up in Canada for about five days and it went by as quickly as you might imagine. It was a good time to visit; the leaves were turning into their rich amber and orange hues, the air was crisp and there was a crackling fire in the fireplace every night. It was too cool to swim or even take a canoe ride but the weather still didn't prevent me from taking a diaper load of pictures. I'll upload some of those later but for now I just have my iPhone photos.

Lake Belwood is about an hour outside of Toronto (or Toranna if you want to spell it correctly). Although I much prefer it in the summer, it is still a beautiful place to be in the fall.


And now I'm flying on Virgin America making my way back to LA.

I like the plane; the inside lights make it look as if I'm in a cheesy nightclub but I'm okay with that. The movies are not free (bad) but there is wifi available (good) although you have to pay for it (bad) and I haven't seen a flight attendant in a while (bad because I'm parched) and for some reason I'm sitting in the middle seat (very bad) but at least the women on either side of me are neither fat nor talkative (good) and they don't have a gas problem (very good).

So I would say the comfort factor is around a 7.

Soon to be back in LA. Where all your dreams come true.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Living the dream?

I'm sitting at LAX waiting for my red eye to Canada and I saw this ad.

"Living the dream...That's so LA."

Holy crap, that is such false advertising.

Getting your dream crushed and shit on and smeared with vomit...now that's so LA!

But of course not as good for tourism.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Los Angeles,United States

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My photo gallery at Photoshelter

I've just joined a great new website that will showcase all my travel photos.

So far, I've only posted my Cambodian photos (of course) but I will hopefully soon be posting my pictures from Canada, the US, Vietnam, the Caribbean and Mexico.

The great thing about this site is that it not only showcases the photos but you can PURCHASE pictures or downloads of the images! In other words, I may be able to make back a very small fraction of the money that I have put out in camera equipment over the years.  Or who knows?  I may make absolutely nothing but it's still a pretty cool place where I can store my photos. 

You can check out my private gallery at


And to celebrate, I am posting a pic of an upsidedown Basset Hound. 

Just because. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Photoshop fun

Before I settle down and do more important things (like clean bathroom, buy groceries, shower, brush teeth, not necessarily in that order), I played around with a little photoshop.

I'm trying to learn the different techniques so I can (if it is truly possible)spend more time with my photos.

This is just a little something that I flipped out this morning. The background is Angkor Wat at sunrise. The stone statue is from Preah Khan, one of the largest temples in Cambodia and the title came out of my little ol' hardworking computer.

So there you have it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A new non-profit is on its way!

Because I don't have enough to do, I have decided to form a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called The Savong Foundation. 

The mission statement is as follows: 

Our purpose is to support the Savong School, the Savong Orphan Center and the development of projects which will bring long term benefits to the people of the Bakong community in Northern Cambodia.

This is not a formal introduction because all the paperwork has not been completed BUT I did want to start spreading the word and I hope that you will join me in this exciting project. 

You can read more about The Savong Foundation by checking out the Facebook page (search under The Savong Foundation) or by clicking on the following links: 


When The Savong Foundation has become official, I will definitely let you know!