Friday, November 24, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cold Weather

"Did you have to add any coolant to your car recently?" - MINI Rep.
"No." - Me
"Oh, I was wondering what these spots were" (pointing to the little white specs covering the engine) - MINI Rep.
(looks over) "Road Salt." - Me
"They do that?" - MINI Rep.
"Yeah, like I said, I'm from Chicago, it was snowing the day I left." - Me

"Oh." - MINI Rep

*laughing* - Me

*funny look* - MINI Rep

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Family History

On my last trip home I spent an evening with my Aunt and we talked about family history. Its disappointing how little my family know or keeps in contact with the other branches. Its a pretty *interesting* tree and I can see why it is that way. I have some notes I've compiled and I do plan on getting them together in some coherent form. We also have hundreds of photos and some audio and video. I think a project of mine in the near future will be to digitize and organize all these little things that describe my family.

Good Job

A good friend of mine is graduating in December and he's the first of my group ofriends to do so. Funny that he's 2 year younger than I am and two years ahead of me in school. Smart kid, let me tell you.

Another of my good friends is finally getting his life in order. Soon he'll figure out what he wants to do with his life. Working and school is tough and you have to balance what you can tolerate quite precariously. Spend the wrong amount of time in one or the other and both will suffer. Even if the ratio tends towards work thats okay because at least you're making progress. Congrats.

Some kids want to be astronauts or ninjas or doctors when they grow up. For as long as I've known this guy he's wanted to make games and he is finally doing it. Its great to see him legitmately happy about something and not just ranting and raving as people expect of him.

I have to give accolates to my brother though I've spoken to him so little as of late. He's getting had is act together for a while now (well better than in the past) and he's been a far better son to my Mom and Dad than I have in recent memory.

Props go to my little sister for going through high school with out a problem I can see.

My Mom is pretty awesome too -- She's gotten through cancer which though is something a whole lot of people have faced it is still a challenge.

My Dad's been hit by his share of problems lately and it seems that he's really good about keeping up his spirits and keeping focus on what he really cares about.

A hearty well done to everyone I know . . . we all face problems day to day and the fact that we're still around means that we're winning.

Bye Bye Chicago Part 2

I need to send out an apology . . . well not so much that as an explaination. First off, I'm happy to have been away for 8 months. I'm even happier that I'm moving away for a long time. I don't regret the former and expect to continue to be happy about the latter in a couple of year's time. I haven't kept in contact with people because I've been busy and a 12 hour time mismatch makes it difficult -- I'm lazy. There is another reason. I don't like talking on the phone all that much. I guess except when there is nothing else to do. So what I do is I send emails. People don't respond to them. Even people I would have expected to I get no reply or something filled with so little content that continuing a conversation is impossible. I guess it's my just reward since I should call people who abhore writing as much as I dislike chitchatting. I have to give special props to my dad who is as far from an acidemic as you could imagine and a technophobe to boot but who has regularly written me over the past eight months. Maybe being in California instead of Taiwan will make IM more viable and I can talk to some people I have been negligent in contacting. l can't say I will miss a whole lot when I move to california i I can say that there is not much I will miss when I leave Chicagoland for good -- As long its taken into account that I have friends who I keep in contact with who live an 11 hour drive away. A four hour flight is almost 1/3rd that time. I will always have my friends and family. I guess that can be a speculative statement afterall who says anyone will like me when I turn into a Californian. I think that my friends enjoy my company as much as I value theirs. I don't mean that in a pompus sort of way, simply that my idea of a friendship is a fully recirpocal one and I think we're all doing our part.

Bye Bye Chicago

This was written about 2 weeks ago on my return from Taiwan.

I'm on an airplane between SFO and ORD. I'm on 500mg of Vicodin because I sprained my ankle the night before last attempting to rock climb. I'm not listening to music right now because my iPod was swiped off my desk the same night I decided it was a good idea to try to climb up a wall. My attempt to upgrade to Business class failed. I lost my drivers license (then found it.) I lost my wallet (then found it.) All the halloween parties I had chances to go to are no longer valid because I can't drive into the City and I had to leave SF. My friends are busy all weekend long and a couple members of my family are seriously il. All in all this has been a poor couple of days. My car insurance isn't active so I shouldn't drive until Monday.

I guess I can't complain much more than that though. I just spent eight months in asia, I have only 2.5 pages left in my passport I've gone so many places. Japan, Taiwan, China (well, Hong Kong) and the US (it still counts!). I got a promotion and the transfer I've been dreaming about for two years. I (might) have found a great place to live in a pretty cool neighborhod in SF. In the past couple of months I've made some new friends who are pretty cool and I gained back one friend who I thought for sure hated me. I am going to have the chance to drive across the country (maybe) next week with some cool people too.

For me things are going amazingly well (sore ankle and stolen iPod aside). Unfortunatly the rest of my family is not doing so well. I don't really know how to deal with some of the things that are going on and some of the problems I wish would just finish: whether a good or bad outcome, knowing would have a large weight lifted off of a bunch of people's shoulders and would provide me with the capacity to be of some use.

In two weeks I'll be going to an Rx Bandits show that I'm super excited about but moving around at the show will probably be a pain (literally) -- its a fest with multiple stages.

Eight months in Taiwan has felt both like an instant and an eternity. It wasn't until I made my last trip to the US that I realized how much things were changing in the time I was away and made me realize how much I needed to get back on the same side of the planet as my friends and family. On the other hand, I scarely realize that i was in Taiwan for so long. Sometimes I think back to a couple of months ago and realize that I'm thinking of the end of 2005 and not summer 2006. Its a pretty odd experience trying to trace together a timeline everytime you have to jog your memory back to figure something out.

I'm still a fat ass. I tried to get off on the right foot in SF by eating reasonably (despite amazing food at corp) and by trying to get some excersize. Unfortuantly I fell on the foot and it is no longer right. Well, I guess it should be usable in a couple weeks and the daily mile walk to the shuttle stop should do well for my big fat belly.

Its going to be tough moving across the country but with intant communications available and sleeping schedules not totally reversed I'll be better able to stay in contact with people. Plus, everyone wants to visit California someday, I'm an excuse to get there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rx Bandits

I went to see Rx Bandits at Riottt today, they were awesome but I could tell something was missing with out Steve Borth playing with them. I told Steve Choi that they performed a great set and told Matt Embree that I really appreciated the heart he puts into the music and I thanked him a lot. I felt like saying "oh my god! oh my god! its them! its them!" and the squeeling but I resisted.

In SF

There is a very good reason you'll be seeing me on Google Talk more often than I've been on in the past 9 months. I finished my assignment in Taiwan.

About one week ago Josh and I started an adventure that has now completed its first week. We drove across the country to move me to San Francisco. Its finally happened. I now live on thw west coast and I've even learned some new gang signs to signify my entry into the posse.

As far as writing goes, I hope this week will be the exception rather than the norm. I have a lot of things to say but moving has caught me quite strongly.

What have I done this week then?

Friday and Saturday were, of course, a wash. Josh and I drove . . . then we drove some more. Then I got a speeding ticket in Nebraska. Then we drove some more and found ourselves in San Francisco. Fancy that! The first night (and second even) we crashed at my friends' place while I did my best to show Josh the parts of the city that I alreday knew -- not much.

On Sunday morning after Josh and I helped my roommates move in we wandered. First we went to Haight/Ashbury what is widely regarded as the defacto hippie neighborhood in San Francisco despite havina a GAP and Ben & Jerry's store on said corner. We went to Ameoba which is quite possibly the coolest record store ever. Then it was time for lunch where we randomly stopped in at Asquew and had some tasty food.

Next stop was the ocean where Josh and I walked the beach and agreed that it was big, blue and somewhat cold. We did not agree about wearing shoes on the beach. I did. He didn't. I was the victor as I had no sand on my feet nor sand in my shoes.

The last stop before dinner was a visit near the Golden Gate bridge. Nothing interesting to report about that except that the view is pretty nice. Afterwards we got lost and ended up stopping by another friend's place to grab a suitcase I had left there a week earlier.

Dinner was quite aawesome too. We went to a tapas like restaurant Diana sugested but the portions were more like large appitizer size than tiny dishes like I typically know tappas as. The food was quite excellent though.

That was about it for the night. The constant moving and a lot of walking on Sunday pretty much burned us out at 10pm. We tried to watch a movie but we all fell asleep.

I felt like a zombie on Monday -- if only I had someone's brains to eat. We got bagels in the morning from my new favorite place Katz' Bagels then I drove Josh to the airport and we said or farwells to "Across the country in 1.5 days."

Later that afternoon I helped Francisco unload the truck, it was the least I could do: He did drive it with my stuff in it across the country while I was lucky in my Mini.

Its now Friday and there are many things I still haven't accomplished namely getting a bed, getting some shelves, doing laundry, scheduling a tuneup and much much more that I don't care to write here.

As far as interesting things I did during the week there wasn't much. Diana and I went to see Manhattan at the Red Vic movie house. That was fun.

Wedesday I went to Wal Mart to buy some mundane things and on Thursday I took it easy. Today is Friday and there is a party tonight, a concert tomorrow, and something setting-up-my-place related on Sunday.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Perhaps I'm not a Foodie

People have often laughed at my love of a good dish. My family will usually ask "Where are the food photos," as I update them on pictures from recent trips. Friends will laugh when I tell them one of the reasons I'm moving to California is the food that Google provides. Its true. I love my food.

I'm no foodie though. I just spent a long time in Asia but I come back and I have to say that the amazing dishes there were comparible to the amazing dishes here. I'm confident in this assessment and realize its folly to think otherwise. Just because you leave a big mass of land and go to another big mass of land doesn't mean your culinary skills go away. The challenge I'd have to say is finding the right ingredients and keeping up with the freshness of some parts that make a meal so exciting.

I ate at the Tsjuki (sp?) Fish Market in Tokyo recently and we has Tuna Sashimi. It was stellar. The temura prawns were great too. Hands down, the tuna was the best sashimi I had ever had but it wasn't that far off from a couple of pices I've had in the past. The prawns were excellent, but you can't do much with fried food to make it stand above the rest.

Probably the coolest meal I ate while in Tokyo was at Nakamura Gen and it was cooler then I expected. The place is on the second floor of a residential apartment building. On the first floor is a clothing cleaner and when you miss the entry and end up on the third floor you stare down a standard apartment hallway. We did that. So going back down the stairs we notice an unmarked door, the only door on this thing I wouldn't even call a floor. Matt and I are a bit scared when I start to pull the handle. Are we in the right building? We weren't positive we were. Would we cause a scene? Possibly, it was Simoneau and I . . . we like to cause a ruckus. Anyways, we open the door and there is what looks like a standard restaurant kitchen. Small though seated behind a perhaps 10 person red countertopped bar. To the right of the entry way were three five-person capacity tables also vibrant red. The hostess who was also the waitress and part time cook showed us two steps foward to the bar and handed us a menu. It was entirely in Japanese. Hard to pick what to order when you don't know what you can get. With a good bit of hand motions, broken english and a couple drawings we had come to the agreement that she would bring us Asahi beer to drink and some dishes for us to eat.

This is dangerous you might say . . . the terror, the horror! Who knows what would end up on our plate! It could be a cat so the joke goes. . . the joke by the way kind of offends me in a why-should-you-be-offended-sort-of-way. The first dish was a small plate of veggies and what looked to be a ginger-fermented-soy bean concoction. It was tasty! Another dish was medium rare chicken, well it was supposed to be. We figured out a way to say "Cook it a bit more," and when it came to us it was incredible. The meat fell off the bone and into my mouth. Another dish was simple. Just some cooked Eggs. I left that plate to Simoneau while I consumed another pint of Asahi. (I blame all the beer for my belly.)

Sheesh, its only been a week and I've forgetten the other dish we had. It too was delicous but I can't remember what it was. Perhaps its better that way. I can't feel nausiated about something if I can't remember.

In any case, we headed down to Shibuya for the night and walked around. We stopped in a bar for a drink and debated hitting the club scene. Neither Matt or I felt so inclinded so at 10 to midnight we hopped a subway train back to our hotel. This is where food escapade two comes careening back. We got up to the room and Matt was out in moments. I couldn't sleep so I grabbed a book ("On the Road") and my iPod and was off. I walked around for a while trying to find an interesting street we had found the night prior. I eventually made my way there and stepped inside the first of the bars for the night. 8 USD gone and a terrible GandT latter I exited that bar and found another.

This one was lively as close to to the type of bar we know in America as possible only asian and not an "american bar." This place was Japanese through and through - 60 different kinds of Sake on the wall and a menu full of unedibles but some very tasty looking dishes as well. I tarted off with a Sake. Much like the previous endevor; a variety of hand movements and broken English brought a cup of saki to me. It was pretty neat. It comes in a glass cup a bit smaller than a can of soda with a foil top. Pop the top, drink away. Remember, don't try and sit down. This place had no seats.

I started drinking, reading and simply listening and enjoying the atmosphere (there was a guy with a "The Clash," pin on). Soon the smells from the grill in front of me got to my nostrils and it was time for me to order. Luckily they had an English food menu and I told them I wanted a skewer of chicken. I twas tasty. By this point the saltyness of the barfood had me order another Sake. Surely I was getting a second because of the salt. Getting smashed was a bonus.I recieved my second Sake cup and placed an order for a second chicken skewer. Tasty but still not filling. After more pages of Sal's somewhat annoying admirationnn of Dean's adventuring debacles I ordered a pork/asparigus skewer and a grilled rice ball. Wow. Grilled to perfection with some spices I've not tasted before. Combined with a sweeter than before Sake I was totally revelling in the fact that I was there. Drinking, reading and eating. Not much more in the world I enjoy more.

Its odd. You travel to a country and your first thought is to try all the things you've had in the states that were just amazing. Well, my opinion is that you should skip that. The really good food in the states . . . is really good. If you've had an amazing spring roll at random restaurant Q in the states, getting one in asia isn't going to be much better.

After these experiences I've found that you really need to try the local cuisine when you travel. While you can get some duds at least you've tried something new. I suggest waving your arms wildly and trying to convince your waitress that indeed you are not crazy and that it *is* in the best intrest of both parties for her to go ahead and order for you.