Archive for December 2003

Last Day of the Year 2003–Update

December 31, 2003

1:04pm–It’s a glorious day in DC/Virginia and so I will go out running now. My beloved Bruins again sucked as they lost to the ever ferocious, world dominating Fresno St. Bulldogs–I know that BarbEric hate it when I talk sports, but HEY!, watching sports is a big part of who I am… Anyway, gonna run for about an hour in the neighborhood. See ya’.

2:53pm–Time to take a shower and go shopping. Tonight is New Year’s Eve and it’s time to buy some toshikoshi soba–lit. crossing over to the next year noodles. Gotta eat it with tempura. Mmmmm. Also gonna get some other stuff folr New Years Day, like mochi (rice cakes) for soup and/or just to roast. Actually I like the roasting better: just dip it in some soy sauce and wrap nori (dried seaweed) around it, although it sometimes feels like tomogui (eating a being of the same genus). So I often wrap it up in pickled cabbage (hakusai) or kimchee, both are excellent. We’ll also get stuff for niimono (vegetables boiled and reduced in soy sauce, sake, etc.)–daikon radish, carrots, renkon (lotus root), gobo (burdock?), and others. It’s the best. I snack on this for two to three days cuz it’s perfect with sake.

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New York, New York

December 31, 2003

I’m back from New York. Had a nice two day visit with my sister, but I had forgotten how bad NYC can be during the Holiday season. It seemed like it was just one big line. I took Musubi-chan and Unagi-kun to see the Statue of Liberty. We take the Lexington Line down to Bowling Green and emerge into Battery Park.We see a sign that says “Tickets to Liberty Island Ferry” and a long line forming around this round building. Ok. Its not that long… We get in line and get to the ticket line in about 30 minutes. Upon leaving the window, I ask a Park Service officer where the ferry entrance is, and he says the line is over there and points his finger to a line that seems to continue into the horizon. My jaws kinda dropped. Musubi-chan rolled her eyes. We walk and walk and walk and finally reach the back of the line, but it seems to be moving along so I’m not too discouraged. Unfortunately, I begin to talk to some people and learn that there is a ferry every half hour, so the line moves briskly for a few hundred people and then stops for half an hour… I guess I waited for about three ferries worth of people, an hour and a half. Blah…

But Liberty Island was nice even though we could not enter the statue–9/11 has left its impression on even some of the simpler pleasures tourists might indulge in. Well, as many of you may know, I’m a night owl and I wake up late. I made an effort to wake up as early as I could, and we did get our start before noon, which is a big deal for me… But after the long line and waits and ferry ride back and forth, we arrived back at Batter Park around 5PM. We then head back Uptown and get off at 33rd to see the Empire State Building, where there was–yes, that’s right–a line, down 5th and around the corner of 34th. My sis was nice enough to get me tickets in advance, so I asked if I still had to stand in line: Sorry Charlie, EVERYBODY stands in line. So we stand in this line that seems to be moving steadily. We enter the front door and down the hall to see another line. The sign says “Tickets to the observation platform”. Wait! I have tickets, I tell the usher. He tells me that I don’t have to stand in line, that I should proceed down the hall and go up the escalator. Great! We walk quickly and climb the escalator: Observation platform left, then another left. Alright! There’s the entrance to the Observation elevator… BUT–you knew there was a “but” coming–there’s another line! This is worse than Disneyland. Then after another 45 munutes when we finally get onto the elevator get to the 80th floor, we get off to find… YES! Another line to the elevator that take us up 6 more floors. Ugh! This is so frustrating. But we finally make it to the top and got to see the sparkling lights of Manhattan and the surrounding borroughs. It was an amazing site, and perhaps worth the lines…

Still, the trip was nice. My sis treated us to the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” which had a lot of music and dancing. Actually, I was rather surprised at the number of songs I recognized and liked. “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “We’re in the Money” are true American standards. And I have heard “About a Quarter to Nine” and “Lullaby of Broadway” on a number of occasions. Since it is a revival of an old show/movie the sotry line is rather simple. Girl goes to Broadway, tries for a part as a chorus girl, screws up but gets a chance to become the star, and of course, succeeds. But still, the show is not for the story, but for the singing and dancing, even though at times it seemed hackneyed as it reminded me of old Bsuby Berkeley productions. Then I realized that it was actually Berkeley who choreographed the original “42nd Street” in 1933. Duh! No wonder it reminded me of him. But still it was good to watch. But this is an old fogey talking. For you young ones out there interested in musicals, it may seem fresh and vital.

We also had a few nice meals. We ate at a couple of celebrity restaurants. For you Food channel afficiandos, we ate at Otto, Mario Batali’s Pizzaria and anti-pastas. The interior is designed to look like a train station. They give you ticket with a “destination” on it. When your table is ready, your destination appears on the “arrrival/departure board”. The bar consists of high tables where you must stand to drink and eat. I think this is done to prevent people from getting too comfortable, guaranteeing good turnover. This is, of course, the pessimistic evaluation, for the food itself was pretty good. The octopus was so-so, but the squid was delicious, the roasted beets were heavenly, and the pizza vongole–yes, the clams were in the shell–absolutely blew my mind! I have to figure out how to make this at home. It was incredible! Another place we went to was Les Halles, where Tony Bourdain made his reputation in New York as head chef. It’s a brasserie and so is known for its simple everyday French food, the good stuff, none of that phoofey Parisian haute cuisine. Just well prepared steak, chicken and of course frites (french fries). Unagi-kun had the standard steak and frites. I had an onglet (I’m pretty sure this is flank) steak that was marinated in ginger. Surprisingly scrumptious. Musubi-chan had pork loin cooked medium and was perfect. Sis had steak tartar–that’s raw hamburger with spices and a raw egg. She swears by it, but I think it needs a BBQ grill. In any case, you can see that we are true carnivors. Hope I’m not offending any of you non-meat-eaters…

Anyway, all in all, we had a nice time in New York. Now its time to get back to work…

Last Day of the Year 2003–Update

December 31, 2003

1:04pm–It’s a glorious day in DC/Virginia and so I will go out running now. My beloved Bruins again sucked as they lost to the ever ferocious, world dominating Fresno St. Bulldogs–I know that BarbEric hate it when I talk sports, but HEY!, watching sports is a big part of who I am… Anyway, gonna run for about an hour in the neighborhood. See ya’.

2:53pm–Time to take a shower and go shopping. Tonight is New Year’s Eve and it’s time to buy some toshikoshi soba–lit. crossing over to the next year noodles. Gotta eat it with tempura. Mmmmm. Also gonna get some other stuff folr New Years Day, like mochi (rice cakes) for soup and/or just to roast. Actually I like the roasting better: just dip it in some soy sauce and wrap nori (dried seaweed) around it, although it sometimes feels like tomogui (eating a being of the same genus). So I often wrap it up in pickled cabbage (hakusai) or kimchee, both are excellent. We’ll also get stuff for niimono (vegetables boiled and reduced in soy sauce, sake, etc.)–daikon radish, carrots, renkon (lotus root), gobo (burdock?), and others. It’s the best. I snack on this for two to three days cuz it’s perfect with sake.

New York, New York

December 31, 2003

I’m back from New York. Had a nice two day visit with my sister, but I had forgotten how bad NYC can be during the Holiday season. It seemed like it was just one big line. I took Musubi-chan and Unagi-kun to see the Statue of Liberty. We take the Lexington Line down to Bowling Green and emerge into Battery Park.We see a sign that says “Tickets to Liberty Island Ferry” and a long line forming around this round building. Ok. Its not that long… We get in line and get to the ticket line in about 30 minutes. Upon leaving the window, I ask a Park Service officer where the ferry entrance is, and he says the line is over there and points his finger to a line that seems to continue into the horizon. My jaws kinda dropped. Musubi-chan rolled her eyes. We walk and walk and walk and finally reach the back of the line, but it seems to be moving along so I’m not too discouraged. Unfortunately, I begin to talk to some people and learn that there is a ferry every half hour, so the line moves briskly for a few hundred people and then stops for half an hour… I guess I waited for about three ferries worth of people, an hour and a half. Blah…

But Liberty Island was nice even though we could not enter the statue–9/11 has left its impression on even some of the simpler pleasures tourists might indulge in. Well, as many of you may know, I’m a night owl and I wake up late. I made an effort to wake up as early as I could, and we did get our start before noon, which is a big deal for me… But after the long line and waits and ferry ride back and forth, we arrived back at Batter Park around 5PM. We then head back Uptown and get off at 33rd to see the Empire State Building, where there was–yes, that’s right–a line, down 5th and around the corner of 34th. My sis was nice enough to get me tickets in advance, so I asked if I still had to stand in line: Sorry Charlie, EVERYBODY stands in line. So we stand in this line that seems to be moving steadily. We enter the front door and down the hall to see another line. The sign says “Tickets to the observation platform”. Wait! I have tickets, I tell the usher. He tells me that I don’t have to stand in line, that I should proceed down the hall and go up the escalator. Great! We walk quickly and climb the escalator: Observation platform left, then another left. Alright! There’s the entrance to the Observation elevator… BUT–you knew there was a “but” coming–there’s another line! This is worse than Disneyland. Then after another 45 munutes when we finally get onto the elevator get to the 80th floor, we get off to find… YES! Another line to the elevator that take us up 6 more floors. Ugh! This is so frustrating. But we finally make it to the top and got to see the sparkling lights of Manhattan and the surrounding borroughs. It was an amazing site, and perhaps worth the lines…

Still, the trip was nice. My sis treated us to the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” which had a lot of music and dancing. Actually, I was rather surprised at the number of songs I recognized and liked. “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “We’re in the Money” are true American standards. And I have heard “About a Quarter to Nine” and “Lullaby of Broadway” on a number of occasions. Since it is a revival of an old show/movie the sotry line is rather simple. Girl goes to Broadway, tries for a part as a chorus girl, screws up but gets a chance to become the star, and of course, succeeds. But still, the show is not for the story, but for the singing and dancing, even though at times it seemed hackneyed as it reminded me of old Bsuby Berkeley productions. Then I realized that it was actually Berkeley who choreographed the original “42nd Street” in 1933. Duh! No wonder it reminded me of him. But still it was good to watch. But this is an old fogey talking. For you young ones out there interested in musicals, it may seem fresh and vital.

We also had a few nice meals. We ate at a couple of celebrity restaurants. For you Food channel afficiandos, we ate at Otto, Mario Batali’s Pizzaria and anti-pastas. The interior is designed to look like a train station. They give you ticket with a “destination” on it. When your table is ready, your destination appears on the “arrrival/departure board”. The bar consists of high tables where you must stand to drink and eat. I think this is done to prevent people from getting too comfortable, guaranteeing good turnover. This is, of course, the pessimistic evaluation, for the food itself was pretty good. The octopus was so-so, but the squid was delicious, the roasted beets were heavenly, and the pizza vongole–yes, the clams were in the shell–absolutely blew my mind! I have to figure out how to make this at home. It was incredible! Another place we went to was Les Halles, where Tony Bourdain made his reputation in New York as head chef. It’s a brasserie and so is known for its simple everyday French food, the good stuff, none of that phoofey Parisian haute cuisine. Just well prepared steak, chicken and of course frites (french fries). Unagi-kun had the standard steak and frites. I had an onglet (I’m pretty sure this is flank) steak that was marinated in ginger. Surprisingly scrumptious. Musubi-chan had pork loin cooked medium and was perfect. Sis had steak tartar–that’s raw hamburger with spices and a raw egg. She swears by it, but I think it needs a BBQ grill. In any case, you can see that we are true carnivors. Hope I’m not offending any of you non-meat-eaters…

Anyway, all in all, we had a nice time in New York. Now its time to get back to work…

Time off

December 28, 2003

This past semester has presented a variety of matters, much of which has not been good for the bottom of my feet–for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, read “The Girl from Ipanema” by Murakami Haruki… Anyway, I need a break as much as anyone and am going to NYC to visit my sister. It will be a short trip, but long enough to bring some peace of mind. During this time, I will be sans computer, but I will be back on the 30th…

My beloved Bruins are playing in a second (third?) tier bowl game on the 30th. How far have the mighty Bruins fallen? Not only do they play in that famous of all bowl games, the “Silicon Valley Classic”–I know, its glory resounds throughout the college football world–they may actually lose! The thought of perennial WAC power, Fresno State, whipping the Boys in Powder Blue is terribly disconcerting. No offense to the denizens of the the San Juaquin Valley, but the Bruins have no business losing to you guys, although that is what I fear may happen… *sigh* In any case, QB Matt Moore has decided to leave the team and school, presumably because he is not and will not get the playing time he thought he deserved. Goodbye, Matt. Say hello to Drew Olson who led the Bruins to its first five victories this season when they were 5-2. Apparently, Drew is getting much more comfortable in practice taking all the snaps, knowing that he is the ONLY QB now; not having to look over his shoulder… DB Matt Ware, Loyola HS alum, is also considering the NFL. If his prospective indicates a first-round draft pick, the word is he will go. Dear Santa, I know its late, but please make Matt a middle third-round choice; and while your at it, convince Brigham Harwell (Los Altos) to stick with the Bruins as his choice for college…

Time off

December 28, 2003

This past semester has presented a variety of matters, much of which has not been good for the bottom of my feet–for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, read “The Girl from Ipanema” by Murakami Haruki… Anyway, I need a break as much as anyone and am going to NYC to visit my sister. It will be a short trip, but long enough to bring some peace of mind. During this time, I will be sans computer, but I will be back on the 30th…

My beloved Bruins are playing in a second (third?) tier bowl game on the 30th. How far have the mighty Bruins fallen? Not only do they play in that famous of all bowl games, the “Silicon Valley Classic”–I know, its glory resounds throughout the college football world–they may actually lose! The thought of perennial WAC power, Fresno State, whipping the Boys in Powder Blue is terribly disconcerting. No offense to the denizens of the the San Juaquin Valley, but the Bruins have no business losing to you guys, although that is what I fear may happen… *sigh* In any case, QB Matt Moore has decided to leave the team and school, presumably because he is not and will not get the playing time he thought he deserved. Goodbye, Matt. Say hello to Drew Olson who led the Bruins to its first five victories this season when they were 5-2. Apparently, Drew is getting much more comfortable in practice taking all the snaps, knowing that he is the ONLY QB now; not having to look over his shoulder… DB Matt Ware, Loyola HS alum, is also considering the NFL. If his prospective indicates a first-round draft pick, the word is he will go. Dear Santa, I know its late, but please make Matt a middle third-round choice; and while your at it, convince Brigham Harwell (Los Altos) to stick with the Bruins as his choice for college…

Day after Christmas

December 26, 2003

The day after a holiday, especially Christmas, is usually a blah day for me. Everything leading up to Christmas–putting up a tree, going to or planning parties, shopping for presents, wrapping them, etc.–gets me hyped up for one climactic moment: Christmas morning. And then, there is a let down–it’s over; life goes on. I used to think that it was because I was getting older, but I have thought of an alternate theory. Not that I’m trying to make excuses or anything, but it occurs to me that a lot of Christmas spirit is a kind of shared spirit, and so the feelings I have are often influenced by those around me. Neither I nor Musubi-chan express a bah-humbug attitude, but I missed the joy that little kids bring to Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, we had a party with families of Musubi-chan’s fitness salon: 4 families with one child each. We got simple presents for the kids, 3 boys and 1 girl. Since we are unfamiliar with the kids and do not know what they would want or like, we got them what would be very boring, ubiquitous gifts: T-shirts. Okay, okay, like I said, I know its boring. Anyway, we didn’t know there names so we left the name tags signed from Santa, but with no name in the “To” space. As kids, they picked up on this very quickly. Its amazing how perceptive kids can be! After Musubi-chan asked the parents for their names, she surreptitiously wrote them in on the tags, and in a few minutes they discovered them to their great pleasure.

The boys seemed to show a genuine appreciation despite the gift’s blandness–maybe because they are from Japan where the Christmas gift-giving tradition is not that developed, particularly between unfamiliar people, and receiving something from a friend of one’s parents was unexpected. This was nice to see, and gave me a sense of self-satisfaction, perhaps more than I have any right to feel. But better yet was the little girl. The boys’ T-shirts were wrapped in similar boxes, but we got the girl–the youngest of the group–a stuffed teddy bear and so the box was shaped differently. As the boys, grabbed their presents and ripped them open, the little girl’s face, at first, betrayed disappointment, a “why-isn’t-there-one-for-me” kind of look. We told her to look harder and nudged her toward the different box, and in an instant her expression changed. She beamed like only a child can beam! “Is this for ME?!?” She was so adorable. She opened it up and hugged the small bear so tight, I thought that even a stuffed animal might choke do death; and she carried it around with her all night.

All four kids were great, and they provided me with a feeling that still reverberates. Thanks to them, I don’t feel that day-after-Christmas let down. Thanks kids!