Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We're back in cold, gray NYC after 10 days in warm, sunny LA. I haven't been to LA (or Southern California generally, other than San Diego) in almost 20 years (not counting stopovers at LAX), so any memories I have of LA are generally hazy and very few. I remember that someone took my mom's wallet at the Chinese theater and I remember my mom's cousin visiting us when we were at Universal Studios and I remember going to the Hollywood Bowl, but honestly I don't remember much else. Everything seemed a little bigger and more glamorous back then.

But here's some things I learned or observed on our visit to LA:

1. Based on the main "attractions", it seems people in LA like to shop. Located on all the maps with the same blue dots as tourist attractions were a lot of malls. And we went to a lot of malls. The Westfield in Century City, Beverly Center, the Grove, etc. Not that people don't go shopping in NYC, but we lack the giant malls in the middle of the city. And most of these malls had movie theaters.

2. LA as a city layout confuses me. I'm used to NY and Chicago where most of the big business centers are concentrated in the "center" of the city, and as you go outwards from the center, it becomes more residential. In LA, it seemed like there were houses (not just apartments above businesses) right next to business centers, and business centers all over the place. There's nothing wrong with it, but it confused me. You could change jobs and triple your commute! I know we have businesses in Westchester and CT and elsewhere, but that's not quite what I mean. Hard to explain.

3. Food trucks in LA have a lot more variety when it comes to Asian food (bahn mi, pho, Korean tacos and bbq - I wish we had all of those!) but didn't seem to have the straight "street meat" cart that is all over NYC. Here, it's more often than not a street meat cart, but I didn't see that out there. Granted, we didn't see the whole city (how could we in 10 days?) and there seems to be a little more leeway as far as people just taking a grill and sitting on the sidewalk, but I found it interesting. In total, we went to 9 food trucks (mostly on Twitter) because they were different from what we had at home.

4. Everyone seemed happier when we were there (or maybe it was the sun-induced bliss of the first few days coloring my view). It just seemed that the sunlight and the warm weather made people smile more than people do here trudging around through the freezing cold and gray weather.

5. Sunsets, beaches, ocean. We don't get much of that here in January. Sometimes there's a nice sunset over the river, but I haven't seen many lately, and don't usually get to watch them from the river anyway. That's the thing about visiting a place - I always seem to like it better than where I live because (a) I don't have to go to work, (b) I get to be outside or doing things during my favorite time of day (afternoon), and (c) I'm not burdened with everyday life stuff, like commuting.

6. Things aren't always how they seem on TV. The Walk of Fame? I thought the stars on the sidewalk were on a big boulevard of fancy tourist attractions, but a lot of the stars are in front of random souvenir shops or smoke shops or the like. The Kodak Theater? It's in a mall! Seriously? I had no idea that people walked past the Sanrio store on the way to the awards.

That's it for now - I was supposed to sleep early tonight to try to cure my jet lag and get an early start tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I'm a little late to the party, but we went to see Avatar in 3D tonight, and WOW. It was completely breathtaking and overwhelming, and I think it was the best thing I have ever, ever seen. I wanted to see it again immediately after it was over, and when it ended, I just couldn't stop crying because it was so amazingly beautiful. Just WOW. That was an experience.

Before the movie started, I was thinking about how our experience at the movies this time (we're in LA) differs from our usual experience at the movies:

1. There were assigned seats. I have never been to a theater with assigned seats before! And we got the very last set of seats in the upper section, so we were really lucky. It was more than half an hour before the movie so I thought we would be fine (not to mention a Monday night), but how was I to know that they had assigned seats? If I knew, I would have tried to buy them earlier this morning and/or online just to make sure we got better seats (or got seats at all, considering how popular the movie is!).

2. The movie itself started at the designated start time. Usually at home I think it's ads before the designated start time, then the trailers and then the movie starts (after the start time). I thought I read sometime about companies getting sued and maybe that's why they start the movie itself on time here? There were some good 3D trailers though, so can't complain.

3. Everyone showed up when the movie was about to start, and not an hour before like we do at home. This probably has to do with the assigned seating thing.

I can't stop thinking about Avatar. It was so, so, so amazingly good. I keep trying to think about other movies that I thought were good to see how it compares, but I can't think of anything that comes close. I want to see it again!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 in Review

What a crazy year 2009 was. Personally, so many great things happened this year. Next year will be our first full year as a married couple, and I'm really looking forward to it. But there was also so much about 2009 that was troubling. The world seemed to be in crisis, the economy was falling apart and people were losing their jobs left and right, including in my industry which used to seem relatively recession-proof. My 2009 year in review:

Movies/shows I saw in theaters in 2009:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Star Trek
(If there's any others, I can't remember. We had a whole list we wanted to see but no time with wedding planning!)

Vacations/trips in 2009:
Maui, Hawaii (x2)
Chicago, Illinois
Findley Lake, New York
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Newark, Delaware

Books in 2009:
Uh oh, I can't think of anything I have read this year! I must have read something...

I need to figure out some more categories for next year. Perhaps I should make that a resolution!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Meals of 2009

Jumping on the bandwagon, I spent today trying to figure out my favorite meals of 2009. How do I judge? Is it solely food, or do I take into account decor, service, and the overall experience? Should it be a meal that is unforgettable because it was special for more reasons than just the food?

In the end, I decided to pick based on everything, but that the only fair thing to do would be to eliminate the restaurant where we had our wedding dinner from contention, because of course, our wedding dinner was special. The food was fantastic, and I would recommend the Pineapple Grill in Maui to anyone and everyone, but for this category, I just didn't think it would be fair. I could go on and on about the hors d'oeuvres or the delicious salad with goat cheese or our appetizer plate or the amazing dessert spread or how our relatives can't stop talking about the lamb or how the service has been phenomenal every time we've been there and they were a pleasure to work with, but again, in the end, not really a fair fight to include a meal with SUCH sentimental meaning. For the same reason, I would probably exclude where we got engaged from that year, but I wasn't doing this post that year.

So without further delay, I picked two places and one honorable mention for my favorite meals of the year. Two from Maui (both from Kapalua, actually) and one from New York, interestingly enough.


We have been to Merriman's on each of our visits to Maui this year, and I think our first visit there was one of my favorite meals of the year. It was a very "non-Hawaii" day... cloudy, cool enough that I was wearing a sweater through dinner and got cold after the sunset (when the sun finally showed up). However, the food really shone that night, our server (who we were guessing surfed during the day and was a server by night) was excellent, and we saw whales FROM OUR SEATS in the dining room. It was truly incredible.

The dishes I got were also great, and I was talking about them for days afterwards. The appetizer was a special and it was white shrimp tempura over a pohole fern salad. The shrimp were from somewhere right off Oahu, and the whole dish just worked really well.

For entree (I ended up getting the same entree both times, I liked it so much) was the Big Island butterfish misoyaki with vegetables and a side of macadamia nut brown rice. Again, the whole dish worked together so well, and I was raving about the butterfish for days. I can still remember the taste of it and that makes a meal memorable for me.

Dessert was good too, but I couldn't remember what we got without looking at the pictures, so it wasn't as memorable as those two dishes. Now that I've written this, I could go for some of that right now. Our second visit was good too, but the first was my favorite between the two.


In the middle of July, A and I went on a sweltering hot day to a blacktop schoolyard on the Lower East Side for the Burmese New Year Water Festival. (We also went to the Fun Fair in Queens later in the summer.) I had Burmese food before at one of the restaurants in NYC, and later represented an asylum client from Burma (not that that had anything to do with food), so I was definitely interested in trying out more Burmese food. We arrived too late to try the special dessert (they ran out already!) but we had so much other good food that we had to push our dinner reservation back a few hours and all I wanted for days afterwards was Burmese food. I would sit at work thinking about what I wanted for lunch, and it was Burmese food. Too bad for me, because I don't know when else you can get this fish noodle soup or other Burmese food except at these two food fairs in the summer! I can't wait until next year to get my fix (unless someone has other suggestions for places to go). Two of my favorite things from the fair were the fish noodle soup and the tofu salad:

They also had this orchid juice which was so good, different and refreshing. And watching the Water Festival activities was also fun. It was just a really fun afternoon with really good food, and it got me addicted to Burmese food. Memorable.


We love Sansei. It's as simple as that. But since we have been there a total of six times in the past 1.5 years (yes, more than once per trip to get to that number), it's hard to single Sansei out as one of my favorite meals of the year because they've all been good (and are kind of blurring in my head right now). But we love Sansei. And the food there is memorable, just not a specific "meal" for me. So to conclude this mouth-watering post, here's the dragonfly roll we tried on our next to last visit to Sansei instead of dessert:

Doesn't all of this look delicious? I know I'm getting hungry... but it's way past bedtime, and I need to be functional to do my other year-end posts later. Happy almost new year!

Year End

It's that time of year when people discuss their favorites of the year, and this year, the decade. I like to do year-end posts but haven't done any yet with all the thank you card writing and sheer exhaustion. But I am going to start rolling them out soon (not that there's much time left!). I promise (myself) that I will do it. I'm going to start with my favorite meals of the year in the next post. What were yours?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I'm reading over some old blog posts to figure out what I was doing on this day in the past...

Five years ago (wow, I have had this blog for awhile)... I was talking about how great it would be to have cuisine mode on my camera. This was before I ever had an SLR (not that I know how to use it well), and I got a camera with a cuisine mode a couple of years ago. I can't believe that this was news back then. Five years ago, I was also getting ready to go out to buy Christmas underwear. Funny.

Four years ago ... I didn't post, but I think I was working.

Three years ago ... I didn't post, but I'm fairly sure I was working. December 2006 was a crazy busy month. I think that's the month in my entire working history that I billed the most hours.

Two years ago ... I didn't post (notice a pattern?), but again, I'm fairly sure I was working. December is a busy month for transactional associates. At least it was when the economy was good. Wait... was this a Saturday? Maybe I wasn't working? Or... maybe I was...

A year ago ... I didn't post (again!), but I remember last December being busy.

This was far more interesting when I started it looking through 2004 entries. My spurt-posting and lack of regular posting has made this far less interesting than it could be for some other dates. Oh well.


Now that winter is (unfortunately) really here, we have been craving a lot of warm and comforting foods. An easy choice? Ramen.

Without planning on it, we have now had ramen twice in one week, and it could have been three if the lines at the ramen shops hadn't been so long on the snowy and windy Saturday night.

The first time was last week when we went to a Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood that we knew had a lot of ramen (larmen) choices, but we had never tried before. We kept saying that we would, but we always ended up at the sushi place down the street. With the cold weather, it was as good a time as any to try it! A got their special ramen and I got the nabeyaki udon. It was the perfect warm-up food, and by the end, I was so warm that I was sweating in my fleece sweatshirt. It was tasty and it did the job. We'll be back.

Tonight, we met some friends for ramen on another cold night. It's now officially winter (despite having the big snowstorm the previous weekend), and the shortest day of the year, so comfort food was definitely a good plan. I can't wait for the longer days and the day when it's finally still light at 5 pm.

I wonder how many more times we will get ramen before the end of the year! Probably not too many because of the Christmas holiday and the fact that it's almost the end of the year (when did that happen?!). But you never know...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Resolutions Check

I just looked at my 2009 resolutions from last new year's eve, and I have a mixed report with respect to progress.

Here's what I resolved and how I did:

1. Manage inboxes more effectively. Get work inbox under 100 and get gmail inbox under 2000 (that's a third of what it is now).

Work inbox - FAIL. Currently at 488. I don't think I went under 100 all year. Gmail inbox - FAIL but progress. If I wanted to be under 2000, and that was a third of what I had on NYE, that means I had over 6000 on NYE (which sounds right). I'm currently at 2772 messages. So, while I may not be under 2000, I'm a lot closer than I was at this time last year and that's substantial progress. And I didn't do what I tend to do when "stuff" is out of hand and move it all to a "review later" folder or box to get it to this point. I've been working hard on deleting email! It's so much work!

2. Do something active every day. Preferably the 30 day shred (when it comes), DDR (when it comes) or Wii Fit or Wii Sports. Or the gym we pay for...

Massive FAIL. In fact, in the month leading up to the wedding, I barely had any time to work out. The 30 day shred is good, but with all the boxes in our apartment, we kept running out of room, not to mention time. DDR was fun, but it's hard to set up, and takes a lot of space in our apartment that we don't currently have. Wii Fit and Wii Sports are good, but again time and space. After months of not going, we no longer pay for that gym. I need to figure out how to fix this. I really want to swim daily but we have no pool.

3. Eat healthier. Take pictures to keep to the goal. Take vitamins daily. Remember to fill prescriptions regularly.

Mixed FAIL. Eat healthier. I don't think it's all that different from before. I tried to keep count of calories to see what I was eating, but I can only do it with packaged foods (aren't those less healthy?) or at restaurants that have nutrition calculators (few). Take pictures to keep to the goal. What did I mean? Take pictures of what I eat? That I do. Take pictures of me? That I don't. Take vitamins daily. Now that we have bottles of gummy vitamins, yes, success, easy. Remember to fill prescriptions regularly. Meh.

4. Clean the apartment. Get rid of coffee table before the end of the first quarter.

Massive FAIL. Apartment not clean. Coffee table still here and covered. Bane of my existence.

5. Blog at least once a week.

Not sure... I would prefer to blog more than once a week, and actual posts of substance, but I don't think I've achieved that. I think I blog in spurts. I guess better than nothing at all, but I would like to be more consistent. Let's call this one mixed success.

So... to summarize, I made progress on deleting emails in gmail and take my vitamins. I guess that's better than nothing... sigh.

Thinking about my resolutions for 2010... let's see what I come up with by NYE!

Snow Insomnia

Last night was a perfect storm of insomnia.

I didn't get to sleep until after 5:30, and at one point, even thought, "why bother?" Ultimately, it was knowing that Sunday would completely suck if I didn't get some sleep and a sudden crash around 5:15 that sent me to bed.

Why the insomnia? For someone who can sleep almost anytime, I think there were a few contributing factors:

1. Tea - Tea never usually keeps me awake. I like to say at work that it helps me stay alert, but that I could still fall asleep if I want. This is still mostly true, I think, but it seems to be having more of an effect on me lately, especially tea from Japanese restaurants. Had all of the other factors not contributed, I probably would have slept earlier, and had I just forced myself to go to bed earlier, I probably would have slept earlier... but I didn't.

2. Sleeping in - I end up so exhausted on Fridays that I usually take advantage of Saturdays for sleeping in (and it feels so, so good). Unfortunately this Friday night I stayed up even later than usual (despite being completely exhausted) because I had to finish writing more Christmas cards so we could get them in the mail by my self-imposed deadline of Saturday. Needless to say, we woke up late, and then just relaxed for a few more hours, so by the time the day started, it was already late!

3. Late day shift - Continuing from #2, we woke up late, so we got out of the apartment late, so we ate late, so we shopped late, so we got home late, so we took showers late, so we went to sleep late. Unfortunately, it's an endless cycle, which means that last night, we went to sleep late... so we got up late... repeat.

4. TV - I was supposed to take a shower, but then the repeat of Lost that was on was "The Variable" - the Faraday episode and one of my favorites - and being part of the end of season crescendo of last season's Lost, I couldn't tear myself away until it was over. And I think it started late because of the snow reports. Oops.

5. Naps - Naps usually set me back a bit, and yesterday was no different. I fell asleep on the train ride from Queens to the East Village, and then again from the Upper East Side to home. Oops. (We were smart and didn't do any of our Christmas shopping (other than online shopping) until yesterday, the day that just happened to be the "blizzard." Shopping and trudging through the blowing snow is exhausting!)

6. Electronic clutter - My gmail inbox went back over 3000 because I have been so busy lately with work, Christmas cards and thank you cards that I haven't been taking care of it. I really wanted to get it below 2000 for the new year. So, I had to fix that. I got it under 2850, and right now, it's under 2800, so my goal for tonight is to be under 2700. I was pretty good about it for awhile, and then it got a little too busy.

7. Sick - I'm not feeling all that well today, and am wondering if the beginnings of it were last night and if that also kept me from sleeping.

8. Pictures - I had to upload my pictures of the snow that we trudged through all day and also the snow that confronted us when we got to our apartment, among others. I usually don't upload until the weekends these days and have a lot of catching up to do!

So now I'm sitting at home, not feeling so great, and it's already after 3 pm. I guess it's a good time to start working (is there ever a good time on a Sunday?). I would rather be outside since I love when blue skies and sunlight meet snow piles and think it makes for nice pictures. But since I'm not, here's a picture of our apartment hallway yesterday:

The window was open when we got home. Indoor snowstorm!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Scary II

Still a little freaked out by what happened yesterday, even though I wasn't there, after reading this: http://gothamist.com/2009/12/11/times_square_peddlers_semiautomatic.php
If that guy's gun hadn't jammed...  this could have been a huge nightmare.