Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Gone By

Wow, another year that has flown by! Got any plans for New Year's Eve? I am running into more and more people who say the same thing we do - we'll be lucky if we're even still awake when midnight rolls around!

Back in my much younger days, I considered it a tragedy if I wasn't out somewhere on New Year's Eve. And to be asleep before midnight? Unthinkable. But these days, to me it is just another day, albeit a good one because the office is only open half day on New Year's Eve and of course, closed the next day. So automatically that makes it cause for celebration.

One particular New Year's Eve always comes to mind - the end of 1971. My folks would not let me use the car because they didn't want me driving that night. For a while it seemed that we'd be stranded at our respective homes but then Rob came through with an invitation to go to his house. I don't remember the means by which we arrived, but there we sat, Duane, Rick, Rob and I, now "out" on New Year's Eve (well, at least not at home, although Rob was), all of us looking at each other wondering what to do since we weren't supposed to drive anywhere. Lucky David, with wheels that night, was out on a date with his girlfriend Joanne.

Since Rob's parents had gone to his uncle's house, he suggested opening a bottle of Cold Duck that was sitting in their refrigerator.

"You sure they aren't going to notice?" we asked him. He assured us that they wouldn't. So he popped open a bottle. Me, I refused to drink because I hated the taste of alcohol and, at least at that time, had vowed not to drink that stuff. But the others had made no such declarations.

Even though a good part of the bottle remained, people started acting silly. It got even sillier until the sobering moment when the phone rang.

"Hello?" answered Rob. "Oh. Nothing. We're just sitting around. Huh? No. Uh, okay. Alright. We'll see you." He hung up the phone. Panic was on his face.

"What's the matter?"

"Oh man, oh man, do I sound drunk?" Rob asked.

"What are you talking about?"

"It was my mom. She said to come over to my uncle's house and have some food."

"So?"

"So then she asked me if we were drinking. How did she know??? Oh man, oh man, did I sound drunk on the phone??"

We assured him that he sounded completely sober. That didn't seem to make him feel much better. "But how did she know we were drinking? She asked if we were drinking anything!"

"She was kidding," I told him. "She must have been joking around with you. If she really thought you were drinking, wouldn't she sound mad?"

"I guess so."

"Well did she sound mad?"

"No."

"Then stop worrying!" Of course it was easy for me to say that since I hadn't had anything to drink. But I was sure that his mom was just joking around with him.

"Oh man, is my face all red?" Rob asked.

"What about me?" Duane asked.

"Me, too," said Rick.

Rob was all worried now. "How are we going to go over there with our faces all red? They're gonna know, they're gonna know!"

"Your faces aren't red," I said. "Stop worrying about that!"

Rob's uncle lived only a few blocks away so he had permission to drive the other family car over there. We all piled in the car, after they ate something to remove any traces of alcohol breath, and then drove very slowly to the uncle's place. We got there, rang the doorbell, went in and no one was the wiser. All I remember once we got there was that I ate a whole bunch of wontons because I have a weakness for those.

Later, Duane told us his parents said it was okay for us to spend the night at his place, and that's what we ended up doing, sans David. The rest of us were landlocked, which, on New Year's Eve, felt especially confining.

It turned out to be a rather quiet New Year's Eve for us. The only real noise came sometime after midnight when the honk of a car horn interrupted the silence.

"What is the matter with that idiot?" I said. "It's not even midnight - it's past midnight so why is he making all that noise?" Soon the honking stopped.

A day or two later we saw David and asked him how his date was. "What's the matter with you guys, anyway?" he said.

"What do you mean, 'what's the matter?'"

"I drove past Duane's house after dropping off Joanne and saw Rob's car parked out there. Didn't you hear me honk the horn? I honked it a few times. Where were you??"

"That was you out there honking the horn?" we asked.

None of us had even thought to look out the window. "We thought you were some drunk jackass celebrating the new year," I said.

And so much for the beginning of 1972.

***

As this year draws to a close, I thought about what the most memorable event was for me in 2009.

Actually, there was no one thing I can point to; instead, I am so happy to have reconnected with so many old friends this year, as well as having made a couple of new ones via this blog and Facebook. That has been extremely rewarding! For that I am truly thankful.





Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day Off

I'm taking vacation days Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Thursday is a half day for the office so no point in taking that day off, especially since I'm going to be working from home, right?

Today (Tuesday) I got the oil changed in my car. I didn't realize it had been so long since the last change - February 28, to be exact, a little over 7,000 miles ago so I was quite a bit overdue. I know they say modern cars require oil changes over longer intervals but to me that means every 5,000 instead of 3,000 miles. It had really been that long??

Then Julie and I went to get our swine flu, er, H1N1 flu shots at Kaiser later in the morning. It wasn't crowded at all. Now I am not saying this in any derogatory sense but I couldn't tell if the person who gave us the forms to fill out was a man or a woman. They had long, curly hair like a woman and also a prominent bosom, but had a voice like a man - not some middle-octave voice that could go either way, but a low voice, and they looked like a man. But I really couldn't tell. Julie said it was a man and I guess if I had to put money on it, I would have said the same thing.

After leaving that confusing situation we went to eat lunch at Jack in the Box where I got my usual tacos. I'm pretty sure many people regard the tacos as a confusing situation as well - what sort of mystery meat is in those tacos, or is it even meat??? Well I ate them anyway but they don't seem to be the same as yesteryear.

Since Julie had to run a few errands this afternoon, I had the whole house to myself and used the opportunity to turn up the stereo nice and loud.

So that was Tuesday.. ah, it is such a nice feeling knowing there's no drive into the office tomorrow!








Monday, December 28, 2009

Brainiac

Today (Sunday) I received an e-mail from a high school friend who happened to run across this blog and has stayed around to read the updates. It started out, "Hi Brainiac." I don't think she was being sarcastic - for some reason she seems to think I was smart back in high school, a recollection that I attribute to the fading of her gray cells resulting in loss of accurate memory.

In the e-mail she used the word nascent. Hmm.. I had to look that one up in the dictionary! Then she referred to the Heidelberg Principle dealing with quantum physics as well as other things that would logically lead one to conclude she's the real brainiac, not me!

So given all that, what bit of esoterica (is that a word?) was the subject of her e-mail?

My blog entry from a short while ago in which I announced I was going to sit down and write something more than just a blog post.

She asked how that was coming along and also gave me some things to be wary of during my so-far futile attempts at writing something. Honestly, what she wrote was more well-written and interesting than anything I've thought of so far!

Yes, I must admit I have really not managed to get past word number one. Well actually I made some false starts but did not feel enthused enough to continue so I trashed what I had written in search of something that felt more right. I have plenty of ideas but have been unsuccessful in committing them to the page.

How's this for my excuse: I am waiting until January 1 so that I can make writing this book (or whatever it turns out to be) my New Year's Resolution.

That's sort of like when someone declared to me the other day that she and a couple of other people were going to go on a diet February 1 of 2010. In the meantime they figured they had better get their fill of sweets and other goodies with gusto before the lockdown.

Well, I do intend to get my brain in gear and put fingers to the keyboard! That hasn't been forgotten. I watch the below video when I need a reminder of how powerful the brain can be:




Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Reality

I tell you, with the Christmas holiday and all, I was getting rather disoriented as far as what day it was. The day after Christmas didn't seem like it was Saturday to me, but I did remember to get back into the swing of things and make my normal weekly trip to Costco! That helped get me oriented again although it reminded me that this is the weekend and not a permanent respite from work..sigh.

It's been a while since I've posted pictures of my Costco purchases so I thought I would return to tradition before the year is over. Here are pictures of all nine items I bought today! When they told me how much it was I thought for sure they made a mistake.. nine items cost THAT much??? But it did..

First off, sorry for the dark picture. Most store-bought tomatoes are all pulpy and cardboardy, except for Costco. These are pretty good when you can't grow your own.

This is a regular staple with us.. nice and mild, and just the right size!

These get chopped up and put into salads.

Haven't gotten these in a while. They were staring at me from the case so I took one out and put it in the cart. So easy to heat up and they are pretty good.

This was a new item. I looked at the back to see how many calories were in it and the other nutritional info, and wasn't horrified so I put it into the cart. I had trouble finding a small size, though (they come in different weights). Just the thing for lazy cooks!

Here is something that has a lot of enemies, but we like them. Did you ever see When Harry Met Sally? Do you remember the married couples that they interview in the movie? I always thought that the woman of the Asian couple they interviewed resembled one of these. If you don't understand what I mean, just watch the movie and then you will.

This is the most nutritious bread they have at Costco. Normally I would buy the Kirkland brand but this one has better stats. It's also more expensive, but what the heck.

These Honeycrisp apples are also the most expensive variety at Costco ($9.99 per dozen) but they are soooo good. Really crunchy and sweet but not cloying, with just the right texture. They look good, too. I hate mushy apples! The thing is, a lot of apple varieties look alike and one time I picked up a carton of Jonagolds thinking they were Honeycrisp. What a mistake.. now I check the labels very carefully.

And item #9, some vino. I had to have the guy do a price check because there was no price label. He said this just came in last week. I'm a Pinot Noir fan.

And that was this week's trip. Now let me ask you, do you like looking at the stuff people buy at the store? Seems boring, but you know, if you posted pictures from your shopping excursion, I think I'd be interested. I guess I am just nosy but I would find it interesting to see what other people buy. That doesn't mean I am walking around at Costco staring into other people's carts, or nosing around when I am waiting in line. But put them up on a web page and I'd probably be looking at them for whatever reason.

Finally, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a Christmas present and I thought this was pretty clever, as well as funny:

(it's a pillow)






Friday, December 25, 2009

O Holy Night

Most likely Jesus wasn't really born on December 25, or even in the winter. It would have been much too cold for shepherds to have been tending flocks at night during that time of year.

But, He was born at night - this we know because of the star that led the Magi to the manger where Jesus was born. True, we don't know the exact day Christ was born but celebrating that event on December 25 sounds fine to me because indeed it is cause for celebration.

When I think back on all my Christmas memories, one that comes to mind each year is when the kids were little and I took them to see the towering trees on St. Albans in San Marino. Each year the fire department hangs lights on the huge Christmas tree-shaped pines lining the spacious block and at night it's such a beautiful sight to behold.

This particular Christmas was very cold (for Southern California, anyway) but Greg and Katie wanted to get out and get a closer look at the trees and their lights. I think they were 7 and 4, going on 8 and 5 and they were so fascinated, they kept running up and down the block checking out each tree, staring up in wonder despite my telling them to hurry up and get back in the car because it was so cold.

Well as cold as it was, it was worthwhile - it made for a much better experience and memory than had we stayed in the car and done our admiring through the windows. The magnificent trees with their sparkling lights, the chilly weather, and the infinite black sky with its infinite sparkling lights made for a truly memorable time.

When it is taking place you don't think about how something will become one of those treasured memories - simple, but lasting.

May Christmas joy be with you all, the whole year round.




Merry Christmas!

Today is not Thanksgiving but it is indeed a day to give thanks. I have so many things for which to be thankful, and especially for the greatest gift of all that we celebrate on this day, Christmas.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. -- Isaiah 9:6

When Jesus died on the cross He was thinking of you. He IS the Reason for this SEASON !

I wish you a merry, happy and blessed CHRISTmas!








Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Miscellany

Here's just a bunch of random thoughts from today..

First, I was about the throw away the empty box of Oreo cookies we got for our choir lunch on last weekend when I noticed a little disclaimer written in the corner below the picture of the cookie. Here's the box; I also put a normal-sized spoon next to the cookie for perspective purposes.


In case you can't read the fine print disclaimer in the corner, here it is magnified. Enlarged to show detail, it says. That made me laugh because somewhere in this world is someone who complained that box was misleading because the cookies inside the box were nowhere near as large as what was shown on the box!

I'm sure that this must be the California-only version of the box.

Next up, I was reading a message board post in which someone wrote something that I always have to tell myself: It is what it is. Or to put it a slightly different way, Things are what they are.

Like when I hesitate to record the amount of something I just purchased online because it is expensive and I don't want to show a dent in my finances.. but the thing is, it's there whether or not I record it! Or like when I stand on the scale and then think that exhaling as much as possible is going to change the result. Nope, it is what it is, and that's that.

Today when I was running, this girl passed me. Now I'm not trying to be sexist by insinuating that a girl can't run faster than me but this one had these big, sturdy legs and she didn't really look like someone who runs a lot. That's what I noticed as she went past. So I was thinking, how can she run that fast but she doesn't really look like she is putting much effort into it? She had this steady, relaxed stride. And here was turtle me, wondering if if I could catch her if I sped up. Well that was a moot point because I was too tired to speed up. Then I wondered if I used to run like her in my previous days. Ah, just getting old, I guess. I watched as she got further and further ahead and then turned the corner. By that time I was back at the house and all I could do was shrug and think about how slow I run these days, haha.. Well what the heck, at least I was able to finish!

Last thing - I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music lately and just wanted to say that it's sad how Karen Carpenter is no longer with us. She had such a pure, angelic voice. Here she is in today's YouTube, singing one of my favorite Christmas tunes. So lovely..









Monday, December 21, 2009

Busy Weekend

Whew, this was a busy weekend. Thing is, Christmas is coming up way too fast to truly enjoy the season. I know I say this every year, but it is true. That's totally unlike my much younger days when it seemed to take forever for Christmas day to arrive. Not so any more - I guess all that wishing I did when I was little to speed up the process is now coming true and is another example of be careful what you wish for.

At least one nice thing: all the Christmas shopping is done! Tonight as we drove back from dinner, around 6:30, there was a long stream of cars heading into the Santa Anita Mall. Haha, suckers! Why'd you wait so long?? Of course now that I said that, I will discover I need to get a last minute gift for someone or other and I will be sitting in traffic estimating in my head how many cycles of the traffic signal will it take before I am in the next section to go.

Keiro celebrated the December birthdays of its residents on Saturday, one of which is my mom's. There was time at the beginning to take pictures, then the birthdays were announced, entertainment was provided by a ukelele group, cake was served, and then a special guest star appeared at the end. I've got it all documented below:

First, here we are gathered around my mom (click on any of the pictures for a larger version):


Next, here is the ukelele band. They also performed last year. I don't know what their name is, though. Maybe some of you recognize some of them?


Here's the blow-out the candle picture.


And another one. They still have some wind left in them because they managed to blow them all out.. after two tries:

That evening Julie and I had our Saturday-night dinner with her side of the family at NBC in Monterey Park. Here's a picture taken by the waiter:

Oh, and here's a YouTube clip of the surprise guest at the Keiro birthday celebration (he was louder than the entire ukelele band, haha..):









Friday, December 18, 2009

Twilatar

At the risk of offending whoever is reading this blog, I have to ask, is it just me or does the newly released Avatar, as well as the currently playing Twilight Saga look like really stupid movies?

I haven't watched either of them but I haven't the slightest inclination to do so after seeing previews on television plus short clips in the news.

The effects in both movies look really poor, if you ask me, like the ones used in movies from the 60's and 70's, pre-Star Wars. And what's with Avatar, featuring multiple Blue Man Groups? I find it astonishing that so many dollars were spent on these productions, too.

It seems like movies have to be filled with more and more special effects and spectacular scenes just to keep the attention of the audience; if it isn't a thrill a minute, no one is going to want to watch it. Or that seems to be the overriding philosophy among the studios - subtlety is for losers.

Everything's gotta hit you like Godzilla.

Last night the news covered the hoopla over the upcoming Friday premiere of Avatar, and they showed several scenes from the movie. Honestly, after looking at those previews, I thought the effects were no better than what you see in the movie below and I bet the movie below is a whole lot scarier!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gifting

So how is your Christmas season going so far? Are you ahead or behind or just right? Me, I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner - next week already!

I think somewhere back in the pages of this blog I wondered out loud (well, in print, anyway) as to just how many books that get purchased also get read. Today, along those lines, I wondered of all the items that are purchased to give as Christmas gifts, how many of them will actually be used by the recipient.

I don't think the volume of returns at the stores is an accurate indicator because a lot of things either aren't worth returning, can't be returned, or the recipient doesn't want to return them for fear of upsetting the giver. And I am sure there is also that portion of gifts that ends up being regifted. My advice for those who do that is to make sure your memory is dependable so that you don't give someone the same gift that they gave you the previous year (as someone did to us one year).

Now what do you think - is it better to ask someone what they would like for a gift, or is it better to surprise them? Personally, if it is going to be something of more than nominal value, I say better to ask and get them something they really like - unless you know them really well and also have been listening to the hints they've been giving, either consciously or unconsciously. The way I look at it, if something is going to be useless to the recipient, then why even bother to give it. On the other hand, if everyone had the same philosophy I did, that would put a lot of stores out of business!

There was one person who for three years in a row gave me the same color polo shirt. On the the third year I happened to mention it to them and they started laughing. "Really? I gave you the same thing two years in a row?"

"Three," I said, updating them. We had a good laugh about that. Heck, I wore them so I wasn't complaining but I thought it was funny. Then someone else would give me the same sort of dressy shirt each year. I finally asked them what made them choose these particular shirts (since I never had occasion to wear them) and was told they buy stuff for me that they like.

Now I am sure I've given my share of unintentional white elephants, so I shouldn't be one to talk. I just thought I'd point out some of the inevitable foibles of Christmas gift giving.





Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back in the SGV

This morning (Saturday) I said farewell to a snowy Utah and arrived in a rainy Southern California. Julie greeted me at the baggage claim area and since this was one of our rare times on the Westside, guess where we went to eat lunch?

I had my usual: two tacos with cheese, a side of rice and a large diet Pepsi. Julie ordered a chicken tamale and declared that the ones you get at Costco are better. I told her no one orders tamales from Tito's. Maybe hers was one of the unsold ones from last year. Or, maybe it came from Costco. She said the salsa that came with it made a positive difference, however, and she also proceeded to put some on her rice and dip her chips in it.

As for my usual Tito's meal, I have to say it was a bit below par because the shell was too crunchy. What I like about their tacos is how the shell is crunchy along the border but as you work your way in, it softens up because of the filling. Well, maybe that isn't a good thing health-wise because that must mean the filling is oily and that's what softens the shell? Regardless, that's how I like mine but this one was crunchy through and through. Maybe I didn't allow enough time for the shell to get soft. Besides, you don't go to Tito's if you are concerned about eating healthy!

I don't know if it was the cloudy weather, but the place was surprisingly uncrowded. We didn't even have to wait in line. Aside from the taco crunch issue, everything was like usual, including the addictive red salsa.

After that, we headed to Costco, this time the one in Alhambra since it was on the way back. Going in the afternoon meant the place was crowded. Today just reinforced the way I feel about that particular warehouse - there are too many irritating, discourteous customers blocking the aisles! Especially the ones grazing and hoarding the free food samples, leaving their cart right in the middle and adding to the congestion!

The lines weren't too long today and so we were able to exit the madhouse fairly quickly and we drove back home. Now I am sitting here in front of the computer, typing this blog with Christmas music playing on the stereo and all is well and back to normal!

Hey, Sunday the 13th is the anniversary of my baptism - 17 years ago. May this be a blessed Christmas season for all of you!




Saturday, December 12, 2009

Way Home

The week went by pretty fast and now it's time to come home! I am typing this Friday night from the Hampton Inn next to the Salt Lake City airport. This is a nice room! Large, with a king bed and a flat screen television. I don't know if it works or not because I haven't tried it yet.

Out this way there is a burger chain that has a fanatical following, much the same as In-N-Out does. It's called Five Guys. There are actually a couple of locations in Southern California, one in Cerritos and one in Carson. And In-N-Outs are popping up all over the place in Utah. Our instructor told us Orem's first one opened just recently and people even camped out overnight to be among its first customers.

People are nuts.

So for lunch today we figured we had to take the taste comparison test and compare Five Guys to our taste bud's memory of In-N-Out.

First of all, the place was crowded. Not as much as a typical In-N-Out plus they don't have a drive-thru with cars backed up down the driveway and up the street, but it was crowded. Service was fast and very friendly - the counter guy patiently explained the menu to us newbies. Basically you order your burger then there are a whole bunch of different toppings you can request at no extra charge - like grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, pickles, etc. The place was also nice and clean. So comparing service and cleanliness, I'd say it's a tie. Menu-wise, Five Guys wins with more variety. The food is ready faster, too, but In-N-Out doesn't cook your food until you order it. I don't know if Five Guys does nor not.

Now price-wise, I have to say Five Guys is downright expensive. A regular hamburger (which is actually a double) is $4.39, and a cheesburger $4.99. A little hamburger (single patty), which is what I had, is $3.39. Fries are $2.59 for a "regular" order which is actually plenty for two very hungry people. A little hamburger combo with fries and a drink will set you back $7.67, a lot more than at In-N-Out. Granted, you get a whole lot more fries in an order at Five Guys, but that's just too much for one normal person to eat, so what's the point?

Now to the taste test: My little hamburger came with grilled onions and grilled mushrooms. It was tasty. The burger was good-sized and tasted home made. No chain flavor here! It came on a good-quality sesame bun with lots of onions and mushrooms. Whereas an In-N-Out patty is sort of masked by the sauce and other toppings, at Five Guys the burger flavor stands out. However, the In-N-Out hamburger is something to be enjoyed because of the synergy of its ingredients; so while Five Guys seems to have a better patty, taste-wise they are both delicious. My two colleagues loved their burgers and had sort of the same opinion as I did - that both places are good but Five Guys has a tastier patty.

Fries: we were unanimous. In-N-Out has better fries. My two colleagues gave the nod to In-N-Out under the condition that the fries be well done. Me, I gave the nod anyway, just regular style. Five Guy's fries look delicious - really delicious - but the texture leaves something to be desired. There is no crunch to them! They look crunchy, but they aren't. The texture is uniform when it shouldn't be. Also, Five Guy's portion is just ridiculous. It is way too big and consequently, you pay $2.59 for it. They should make something smaller because while it is economical to share them with someone, if you are dining alone or taking it out, then there's really way too much to eat.

For overall dining experience, the winner by decision (and not by KO) is In-N-Out. That said, all the major fast food chains could learn a lot from observing either of these two places, because both are miles above your typical McD, Burger King, etc.









Thursday, December 10, 2009

Utah Eat Report

The snow has stopped, at least for today but the cold weather marches on. This morning it was around 5 degrees, with ice on the windshield that wouldn't come off until the car warmed up.

For lunch we went to a chain that is similar in style to Baja Fresh, Rubio's or Chipotle Grill, except it was MUCH better than all three of them combined. It's called Bajio Mexican Grill. Like the others, they tout the fresh ingredients that they use but unlike the others, the food is actually very tasty and well-portioned. Too bad there aren't any of them back home because I am sure they'd be a hit.

Sorry, no pictures but to visit their web site, click here. I also noticed that their takeout menu has the wrong web address. I had to google them to find the right one! (my link goes to the right one, not the wrong one)

For dinner we went to McGrath's Fish House for the third time this week. It's right next to the hotel and with the near-zero weather out here, that sure comes in handy. Not only that, but the place actually has great food at really reasonable prices for fish. I suspect that's where Red Lobster really films their commercials.

When one of the persons in our trio asked if the restaurant served Coke or Pepsi and was told it was "Pepsi," her smirk let the waiter know that wasn't her beverage of choice but then she ordered one anyway. A few minutes later, he came back with a glass of Coke. She asked where he got that and he said he went to the Texaco on the corner and bought one for her. Now can you believe that kind of service? And we're talking about walking not a short distance in 10 degree weather. Quite different from, "No Coke - Pepsi!"

Something else I noticed. There's an In-N-Out on the way to the training location and they're open for breakfast. I don't know what they serve at 8 in the morning but it sure was crowded in there. On the way back from training I also noticed it wasn't the usual crowded, overflowing place you normally associate with In-N-Out and cars weren't lined up out the driveway and down the street. Maybe because it was so cold? But then why the breakfast crowed? There's also a Five Guys out here which I'd like to try since I've read that they have their fanatical fans same as In-N-Out does.

Orem is a pretty nice town but I still can't wait to get back home!




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Computer No-No's

Each of us has our own computer in the training class I am attending here in snowy 17-degree Orem. Here is a little example of what not to do if you use a public or shared computer:

Don't take Windows up on its offer to remember your user name and password!!!

And no, I didn't nose around and read any of this person's messages. Now if it had been Tiger Woods' mailbox I guess I could have had some fun sending out messages under his name..

I just wanted to post pictures of the screen as an example of what not to do on a strange computer!





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Orem had its first big storm of the season that blew in late Sunday night and left a few inches of snow. Actually, this is a pretty modern and clean town. As I told some people today, I heard it rained pretty hard in Southern California today and I would rather be here in the clean snow than in the dirty rain and all those inevitable traffic tieups back home!

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it looked like around lunch time today:




The training itself isn't bad at all. The company headquarters is in a nice, new building and there's only about 12 of us in a training room made for around 40 people. Each of us has our own computer to use.

The advantages to sitting in the back where I am are: (1) I can surf on the net if I get bored or finish the exercises early; and (2) I can see all the people sitting in front of me checking their e-mails, surfing around, etc.





Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Day

Greetings to you all from Orem, Utah! Yes, I am here the entire week for training on this software package that our company just purchased. There's two of us from the office and one other person is flying in on Tuesday.

Julie dropped me off at LAX and we ate at a Panda Express on the way. My fortune from the fortune cookie said, "You will travel to an exotic place." No kidding, it really did!

The plane arrived at Salt Lake City airport half an hour early and we ended up waiting on the runway for 15-20 minutes because there was another plane at our gate. It was 23 degrees when we got in. Thankfully we didn't rent a compact car but instead got this giant Chevy Tahoe that Al Gore would be proud of.

Later on in the evening it was snowing lightly and I am sure it was colder than the 23 degrees it was at 5:00. At least the heater works!

As for the culinary adventures available here, I thought I'd give you an idea by posting a picture from the local Yellow Pages, of the listings categorized by food type. As you can see, they have a lot of Korean restaurants (check it out - click to enlarge).

Well, at least the training begins at 8:30 and is less than 5 miles from the hotel so I can sleep later than usual. The clock is an hour ahead in this time zone. Then I'm hoping to have an early dinner and come back to the hotel to try and get some writing done (so hopefully there's NO homework!).

I really don't like being out of town like this, but oh, well.. I can't wait until Saturday when Julie will be picking me up at the airport!






Friday, December 4, 2009

Dark

Every day I look at Amazon to see what their Gold Box deals of the day are. Today this was one of them:

I clicked on it out of curiosity and found it is a portable nightlight that also serves as a lit companion for little kids. And I guess bigger kids and adults, too. Here's a couple more pictures of it when lit:

Then I clicked on some of the related products, which then took me to more related products. I didn't realize there were so many things like this to provide light at night! I couldn't find anything with an illuminated clown face, however. How'd you like to be sleeping then open your eyes and find one of those staring at you?

Were you scared of the dark when you were little? Or maybe you're still scared of the dark? Take the poll below so we can see where everyone stands.

I went looking on YouTube to find a clip from the ending of Wait Until Dark. I found it, and the particular one I found was taken from Bravo TV's list of 100 scariest movie scenes of all time, that one coming in at number 10.

Naturally I had to peruse the others to see what else made the list and the one posted below, ranked number 8, is the scene I personally would pick as my number one. It scared the dickens out of me the first time I saw it and even though I know what is going to happen, I still had to take a deep breath when I watched it again just now and still it made me jump!

By the way, the opening scene from Jaws where the girl is swimming and the shark attacks her was Bravo's pick for the top spot.. naw, no way.

Anyway, take the poll, then watch the YouTube and then if you'd like, post a comment about what YOU think is the most frightening movie scene of all!



YouTube:






Thursday, December 3, 2009

Writing

I've received some encouraging words from a few people regarding this story or book I have declared I shall write, and for that I'm thankful.

Gee, one person even said they were going to stop writing to me so that I'd have more time to write! Now if they were tired of writing to me, they could have just said so instead of coming up with a reason like that, haha.. well I think that person is sincere and they have indeed been very positive about wanting me to see this labor of love to fruition so I appreciate that.

Now what the heck do I write about? Actually, I have my idea already but trying to begin has vexed me because it just doesn't sound right. So I've decided to begin in the middle instead and then figure out how to start it out.

Here's a special online-only offer for readers of this blog which I may decide to withdraw at any time when I realize what I am doing, but for now if you would like me to send you some drafts as I go along, just drop me an e-mail.

But wait, that's not all! Well, actually it is. That's about all I can say right now because I need to get down to business and really write something, I suppose.






Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Too Big to Carry

Yesterday I went and mouthed (typed?) off about how I am going to start writing a story or a book or whatever and today I was thinking, gee, what did I get myself into? I'm like Pat Riley a few years ago after the Lakers won the NBA championship, announcing on national television that they were going to come back the following year and do it again. Afterwards he said he realized what a tremendous burden he placed on everyone.

But heck, Pat shouldn't have felt the least bit stressed about that. Politicians do that kind of stuff all the time and don't give it a second thought!

For people with scruples, however, things are different.

So lets see.. am I gonna tell you that today I sat down and started writing? Well, uh, no, because I had to write this blog entry and also run some month-end reports for work, and, you get the idea.

Am I going to be like a politician? Tell you, read my lips, no new taxes? Or just go the Nike route and do it? I guess time will tell. There's still room tonight to tap away on the keys and that's what I am going to do now.

Several people have been very encouraging (no one has been discouraging.. at least not yet since they haven't seen any results) and I am very thankful for that!




Monday, November 30, 2009

Year

Hey just one more day and we're into the last month of 2009! Just one more month to keep those New Year's resolutions!

I'm glad I didn't make any. Or did I? If so, they are long forgotten unless I was dumb enough to post them up in this blog. I'm not even going to check.

Sigh, here it is Sunday as I write this, Monday (or later) as you read this, and the end of a too-short four day weekend. Like it does every year, things are going to accelerate into the holiday season, Christmas coming way too soon, and then it will be all over and we'll be into yet another new year.

Well I have decided.. over the years, many have told me that I should write a story or write a book. I've been telling myself the same, but as of right now have nothing to show for it but a bunch of what I think are interesting ideas and premises but remain at best half-baked. I've decided those folks are right and it is time to cease procrastinating and get going on the keyboard!!! Time to let those fingers run wild.

You're all witnesses - you can hold me accountable.

Overall I like my regular job. At times I am passionate about what goes on in the office. But is it my calling? I'm always talking about how I admire those who follow their passions and greet the new day with enthusiasm; I honestly can't say I am following my own because as much as I may like my job, on Monday I'm looking down the road to Friday.

Yeah, yeah, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've read it before. No use saying, but this time I'm serious, because I was before, too. So what's going to be the difference? I don't really know, but just stay tuned and see what happens.






Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday

So how did all of you (perhaps I am being presumptuous since maybe there is no one reading this but to answer the philosophical question that begs to be asked, yes, this blog still exists even if no one reads it) spend your Black Friday?

For me it was off to Costco to take advantage of their opening earlier, at 9:00 this morning. As usual, I arrived a little before opening time and stopped to get gas first. When I glanced over at the store to see how many people were lined up to get in, I noticed that there wasn't anyone. They were already inside the store, filling up the aisles! What?? How could I be out of the Costco loop like that??

There were already quite a few cars in the parking lot, although it was nowhere near being filled. That was such a difference from two years ago when I suppose no one knew the store opened earlier and I had the pleasure of parking in a nearly empty lot and walking through nearly empty aisles. Not so this time - the secret was out, and apparently the secret had been kept secret from me because they had opened earlier than 9:00!

Today I did more of a leisurely browse to see what was new but didn't really find anything out of the ordinary worth buying. Despite the number of cars in the lot, the checkout lines weren't very long.

I was surprised to see Julie's car in the garage when I got home. I expected her to still be out fighting the crowds at the sales but she was disappointed. Whatever she had gone to buy was already gone when she got there. But then she didn't leave the house until after 8:00 so what could she expect?

We ate lunch at this burger joint called T-Burgers in Monrovia and I mention this only to tell you that today the french fries were just about as perfect as could be. To me that's a significant event!

This afternoon I got a chance to turn up the stereo really LOUD and listen to some of the good old stuff: Steely Dan's "Aja," the Beatles "Abbey Road," side one of "Chiacago Transit Authority" and "Who's Next." Ah, soooo good..

One of the items that came from Amazon Vine this month is an Omron Full Body Composition Monitor With Scale.

Looks pretty fancy, huh? Along with measuring weight, this also tells you things like your percentage of body fat, visceral fat, skeletal muscle and your body mass index. I only tried the scale part today. I weighed myself on the old digital scale and the new one and weigh exactly one pound more on the new one. I think I like the old one better. Julie weighed the same on both so I don't know how that could be. Tomorrow I'm going to try out those other features and see what they say.

Here's the last bit for today's hodgepodge. Below are two links for high-end audio products. If you have a moment, take a look at both and see if you can tell which one is supposed to be serious.

Product #1

Product #2





Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Ham

Well another Thanksgiving has come and gone. This is the first one in a long time in which we have no leftovers, but that's fine with me. Being that I have a turkey sandwich at least three times a week, I really don't need any more.

Lunch was with my folks at Keiro, along with my sister, Julie and Katie. It turned out well, and was pretty easy because we kept the food simple. Our part was to bring the turkey (boneless breast courtesy of Costco that was so easy to cook, carve and was nice and juicy; the worst part was trying to get the strings off since they got baked into the skin), scalloped potatoes (no mashed this time.. again, courtesy of Costco, ready made and cooked nice and golden brown and bubbly), gravy courtesy of Trader Joes, and a chocolate pie for dessert. My sister brought the rest of the stuff. Stuff like stuffing, green beans with the fried onion pieces on top that we have had every Thanksgiving for the past dozens of years, etc.

I was expecting to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, but we had a surprise when we got to Julie's mom's place - they had dinner ready over there, including a real turkey. Well, the turkey did come from a Chinese restaurant but it was roasted the traditional American way and Julie's older brother is a master carver so it came out very nice. All the other stuff was Chinese food, though!

There was some liquid stuff in a bowl that was the color of cream of mushroom soup. I asked Julie what that was and she said it was gravy. "And what's that stuff floating around in the gravy???"

"Onions."

Then her brother whispered to me, "If you want real gravy, Aaron has some on the table over there." Then we both laughed.

Both lunch and dinner turned out to be very nice. So on top of the many things I have to be thankful for, today is just something else to add to the list.

But where is the Thanksgiving ham I mentioned in the title? Oh, here it is, haha..










Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

I would like to wish you all a very, very happy and blessed Thanksgiving today! May it be the most memorable ever, in a good way.

There is so much that I am grateful for - family, friends, everything.. life does have its ups and downs but overall I have no complaints. I feel that God has me right where He wants me, so what could possibly be a better place than that?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(oh by the way.. Costco opens at 9:00 on Friday. You know where I will be, even if they have no real Black Friday stuff going on)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy Day

The contractor finished the work on the two bathrooms today (Tuesday). In retrospect, I am glad that we didn't have the mold people do any of the work they were originally going to do. After seeing what the inside of the wall looked like, and the work the contractor did, I don't think any mold work was necessary and as I had mentioned before, they didn't seem all that energetic anyway.

The contractor and his assistant, however, did a great job. Very conscientious. They were here on time, worked like crazy, and were very neat, too. Whatever mess they made, they cleaned it up. I really don't know how their charges compare to anyone else because I went by a broker's recommendation plus by experience on the work they did on my parents house. I figure I would rather pay a little more and have peace of mind.

After another busy work day (but at least it was from home today) and after they left, I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned. I also did some rewiring on my audio equipment and dealt with a 90-pound amplifier so needless to say I was kind of tired afterwards! When Julie came home from work I suggested we go out for a bite instead of dealing with making dinner.

We went to El Pollo Loco and used a couple of coupons that came in the paper. When we got our food, Julie said my chicken breast looked smaller than usual. I said that's probably because we used a coupon. She said naw, the people in back making and packing the food don't know if the person used a coupon or not. I said yes they do, the cashier uses the secret coupon wink to alert them to use a smaller portion.

That got me to thinking, do restaurants really dole out different portions or differentiate when a coupon is used versus a regular-priced order? I've always wondered why it is that a coupon will state, "please present this coupon before ordering." Wouldn't that make you think they need to know so that they can mark your order or do the secret coupon wink?

On the other hand, maybe it is because they can't go back and ring in the discount once the order is entered. But still I wonder; some places when you give them the coupon ahead of time they tell you to hang on to it and give it to them later.

That would make for a good Candid Camera episode. When someone uses a coupon, have the cashier yell out, "Coupon Portion!" then deliberately make the order a lot smaller (like give the customer a White Castle-sized burger instead of a normal size, or a pepperoni pizza with only a couple of pepperoni slices on it, or a hot dog with a smoky link). Then see what their reaction is.

Hey, officially it is Wednesday but it is more like Friday today! I love this video:




Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

Hey here we are, Thanksgiving week already! I have to say that I have plenty to be thankful for: family, friends (especially this year, reuniting with old ones and making some new ones via Facebook and this blog), having a job, and, well, God is good is all I can say.

Now what is the biggest thing about Thanksgiving week? Having turkey? No, it's Black Friday! For some, anyway.

If you are one of those people who gets all excited about the Black Friday sales, here is the website you need: www.bfads.net Every year, starting even as early as September, maybe even earlier, they start publishing whatever news they have about the official Black Friday sales that will be taking place, as well as any earlier unofficial ones.

Now as for me, I've had it with hanging with the mobs on the day after Thanksgiving. It's just too looney for me and nothing - nothing is worth waking up that early and competing with a bunch of fanatics to try and nab a limited number of items up for grabs. I recall several years ago, standing in line at KB Toys for 45 minutes to buy a bunch of little things for the kids and after getting home taking a look at them and wondering what was the matter with me. They weren't even particularly good buys.

Now with Black Friday being so prevalent on the internet, who needs to go driving around when it is still dark? Amazon, for example, begins Black Friday week TODAY, Monday the 23rd so you know where my web browser is going to be tuned.

What about you? Are you going to fight the crowds? Me, I am going to do what has become my tradition - go to Costco the day after Turkey Day. It is so uncrowded I go just to marvel at the empty aisles (hint: they usually open early too; last year I went and there was hardly a car in the parking lot. Just walked right in to a nearly empty store). Now granted, they really don't have much in the way of Black Friday deals but I can just browse and shop around at a leisurely pace so I don't mind.

But if you are planning to fight in the trenches, be sure to check out that Bfads web site so you can plan your attack.






Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday Random Thoughts

It seems I haven't talked much about my Saturday morning Costco trips too much like I used to do. I guess because they are fairly routine. Today it was definitely more crowded than normal, what with people doing their Turkey Day stockpiling. The couple in front of me spent $587! Not all on food, though, but they did have quite a bit.

Since we're having work done in both bathrooms I decided it was time to get new showerheads. I bought a couple of Waterpiks, which, after the instant rebate, were $29.99 each. The current Costco coupon book has a Hansgrohe unit for $20 off but even so, the final cost is $59.99. I was looking at both of them and couldn't see any real difference between the two so I bought two of the Water Pik models for the same price as one of the Hansgrohe. I think if something is made in Germany that automatically adds about 200%-300% or more to the price.

Lots of people were busy examining the whole turkeys in the refrigerator case. For the longest time we've just had a boneless turkey breast for T-Day - so much easier to deal with. No bones, no having to make room in the fridge, no having to wait hours to cook it, etc. I guess a lot of other people feel the same way because there were only two breasts left in the case.

So this morning I was wondering why we don't have scales or GPS units that are more personable. There are talking scales that announce your weight (or at least I think there are.. though they probably wouldn't be very popular at a doctor's office where everyone else could hear them) and of course GPS units talk to you to tell you where to turn. But that's about all they do. They don't interject any editorials and I was thinking that might liven things up if they did so.

For example, a scale could blurt out "Hey get off, you're hurting me!!" Or, "Just one at a time, please" or some other insult like that. Or you could program in your desired target diet weight and then the scale could offer encouraging news each day, such as, "You're almost there," or, "You've come a long way, baby!"

And GPS units, instead of politely announcing that it is "recalculating" if you happen to deviate from its instructions, could be a little more forceful. Like, "Say, didn't I just tell you to turn back there? What's your problem??" Or, "Oh, you did NOT do what I think you just did. Get your car turned around right now, fool!"

Or maybe for GPS' that aren't entirely accurate, they could offer an apology. "Oops, my bad. I think you were supposed to turn left 15 miles ago."

And as the cost of GPS technology increases, they may have to outsource various aspects so in the near future don't be surprised if the voice has an Indian accent when it gives you directions.

I am still waiting for the HAL 9000 GPS. It tells you to turn the wrong way on a one-way street or go through red lights.

Finally, I think there can be room for mystery with these devices. You ask it a question, such as, "Am I ever going to lose those 20 pounds?" for the scale, or for the GPS, "Are we going to arrive at our destination on time?" And it can reply with answers such as, "Signs point to yes," or, "Reply hazy, try again," or, "Outlook not so good."





Friday, November 20, 2009

Mold People

What does that title mean?? Is it people made out of mold? Or something about molding someone into a person of courage and integrity? It's ambiguous, just like that alien book from the Twilight Zone episode of the same name, "To Serve Man."

Earlier this year the edge of the roof of my parents house leaked and water got into the walls and the carpet/flooring (thankfully they were living elsewhere by then). It got very moldy and we had to use a mold remediation service to eliminate the mold and certify it was gone. Then we hired a contractor recommended by the broker to do the repairs.

We've noticed there are a couple of spots in our bathrooms that have mold. Nothing rampant, mind you, at least from what we can see on the outside of the wall and tile. We decided to play it safe and contact that same mold remediation company and have them come out to take a look at it.

The guy came out and looked, then gave us an estimate. We also had the contractor who worked on my parents home come out to give us an idea of what the repairs would be like since part of the wall would have to be cut away, tiles removed, etc. The contractor also gave me an estimate. Well actually, the contractor's son did, because the contractor only spoke Korean so Paul, his son, had to interpret.

I made an appointment with the mold company to come out last Tuesday (not this week but last week) and do the remediation work. About an hour after they were supposed to have been here, I called to find out what happened to them. The person I spoke with said, "Oh, we have you down for Wednesday morning."

Oh, okay, fine. I don't know how they got that mixed up but I said just come on Wednesday, then, as early as possible. Later in the afternoon she called back and told me she wasn't sure if the technician could make it because he had a bad case of gout on his foot and couldn't even put on his shoe.

Oh. Well, I guess I would have to wait until the morning to see what happens.

On Wednesday morning they called again and said no dice, the guy still couldn't put on his shoe. So we rescheduled for this past Tuesday, between 8 and 9. This seemed like a very disorganized company; I had also requested the guy call me last week because I had a few questions, and I never heard from him.

On Tuesday we had the bathrooms all cleared out and were ready for the work to be done.. again. And 9:00 passed and no one came. Meanwhile, I decided to call Paul and ask for his opinion about everything that had to be done. I told him I didn't feel comfortable about this mold company because they seemed so flaky and so I wondered if he thought it would be safe if they just did the repairs and if there was any danger in doing so. He told me he'd have to call his dad and ask him, and he'd call me back, but in his opinion this wasn't a big deal; he'd seen plenty of situations like ours.

Meanwhile the mold folks still hadn't shown up so I called and canceled the job. They had no idea why their technicians were late or where they were.

About 15 minutes later, nearly 10:00, the technicians showed up in their big mold truck. One big guy who didn't look too bright was getting stuff out of the truck so I went outside and told him I had canceled. "Didn't anyone call you?" I asked. He didn't look very happy and he said no, no one had called. Then he said maybe they called his partner, and he motioned for me to go talk to him. He was still sitting in the cab of the truck.

I walked up to the window and the guy was slumped in the driver's seat, sleeping. His buddy woke him up and told him what was going on. I asked him if anyone had called and he said no, and then he picked up his cell phone and started calling the office. I apologized and told them that the office said they were going to notify them that I didn't want the work done that day. Then I went back inside and they left.

After that, Paul called me back. He explained that when they were out at the house, his dad had taken a good look around and said this was not a serious mold problem at all, but since I had already scheduled that company to come out, he didn't feel it was appropriate to say anything. Now that he knew I had canceled the job, he told me what would be involved for the entire repair job, including cleaning up the mold.

I asked him if he was sure that wouldn't present any health threats. He said mold is everywhere; it's flying in the air and you can't avoid it and only certain kinds are really bad, especially if you have allergies. He also said most of this scare about mold is overblown unless you have a severe contamination, which we didn't. Bottom line is, he said they could do it so I asked them to do the work.

Now comparing the two was like night and day. The contractor and his son were supposed to come at 7 in the morning. They showed up at 6:45. They took off their shoes without even asking. The mold folks were supposed to show up on Tuesday and never came, then Wednesday and never came, then the following Tuesday and were late. I would assume 8-9 would be the first appointment of the day, so why would you be late? Then when they did show up, one of them was slumped in the car seat sleeping and the other guy didn't seem very bright and had no personality. I did see him walking with a limp so I assumed he was the gout-stricken one but at least he managed to put on his shoe for the day. I am relieved I canceled the job; as the line from Star Wars goes, "I have a bad feeling about this."

The contractor was very thorough. He examined everything and politely explained to his son what had to be done, which he then interpreted for us. The mold guy took a quick look then wrote up an estimate. When I asked his receptionist to have him call me, I never heard anything. Every time I tried calling Paul, he answered the phone.

So which business model would you prefer to deal with? Yet so many businesses out there just don't get it. In fact, after the mold people left that day, I never heard a further word from anyone at that company. No call, no anything. You have to do business with people you are comfortable with.

Okay, you gotta watch today's YouTube about the Mold People:




Oops, I thought that was supposed to be about the MOLD People, not MOLE People, lol.. Sorry for such a long entry today but then you can spend the weekend reading it. And since we're on the subject of mole people, here's some interesting theories:







Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday Here and Theres

Yes I know it is Thursday but I wrote this on Wednesday.. I'm just behind the times! Today I thought I would write about a few things that came up in my e-mail correspondence with a couple of buddies that I figured I would share with whoever reads this blog. You can read what earth-shattering things I think of to write about.

Where do UPS drivers eat lunch? That question came to mind because I can't remember ever seeing one of those big brown UPS trucks parked at a restaurant or fast food stand, or in line at In-N-Out (would they even fit?). Are they just too busy delivering packages to stop and eat and thus they are munching on a sandwich as they drive?

I've seen mail carriers eating lunch. Sometimes two of them will park their cute little trucks parallel to each other so they can sit and chat from their respective trucks.

But UPS trucks? It seems the only time I see them parked is when the driver is making a delivery. I'm wondering if they brown bag it? If they do, they'd better mark their lunch carefully so it doesn't get lost with all the other parcels.

Moving on (all this stuff is unrelated by the way.. it's just a hodgepodge of what came to mind), do you remember way back in elementary school when it came time to get our shots? We had to stand in a long line outside of the nurses office with ever-increasing anxiety, wondering how much it was going to hurt. I used to hope this was one of those times when we'd get the flavored sugar cube instead of the needle, or whatever the vaccine was that they administered with a toothpick. But then we'd hear the screams of the kids in front of us and know that they weren't screaming because the sugar tasted so good.

Maybe the pain is more intense when you are little because shots don't seem to make much difference to me know, with my old skin. Even back then I don't recall the needle being particularly painful but it was always the buildup from the other kids, especially the drama queens and kings, that had a psychological effect on the rest of us. You know there was always, always at least one crybaby in the bunch, right?

Now the last thing is about parking lots. Are you the type that is always looking for a spot close to the store? Like you will patrol up and down the aisles, hunting for that superior space? Or you actually stop your car and wait to follow someone back to their own car so you can nab their temporary prime real estate?

Or are you the type that parks far away so no one dings your door? (I sure hope you aren't one of those jerks who thinks their car is so special that you take up two spaces for that reason!! And yes, jerk. If you do that, stop reading this blog right now and never come back - same if you park in a handicapped space and are not handicapped!)

Have you noticed that the occupied spaces in a parking lot resemble a bell curve? Towards the middle of the lot, all the spaces are filled and as you go outward away from the store or entrance, the spaces towards the back of the aisle are less occupied (this doesn't apply to a Costco where you can't even find a parking space in the afternoon because they are all filled).

The thing is, in most cases the distance from the edges of the lot to the entrance are really not much longer, if at all, then the distance from the rear of the center aisles to the entrance. But everyone seems to want to park in the middle aisles. If you ask me, for these people who wait around like vultures in the middle aisles looking for those primo spots, why don't you park your car further away and get some exercise???

Haha.. okay, I'm done with my grousing and now return you to wherever you were before.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

J-Food

A few months ago when my folks moved out of their house and put it up for sale, I had all their mail forwarded to my house. So now I receive the Mitsuwa Market ad every week or two or however often they publish it.

Much of it is written in Japanese so I have no idea what they are saying, but I do look at the pictures to see if anything on sale looks interesting. And what today's blog entry is about is how most of the time the pictures don't look very enticing to me.

Here's a picture of a portion of their latest ad (click to enlarge):

When I was growing up, my mom made Japanese food but not all the time. We would have rice nearly every day, though. There I'd be, putting ketchup on it some days, shoyu (soy sauce) on other days, and on the days when I didn't put either of those condiments on my rice, I used to sprinkle it with salt. Mmm, salty rice..

We'd have western food (including westernized spaghetti and other "ethnic" dishes like that) about 60% of the time and Japanese food the other 40%.

I had no problem when it came to things like tempura (I loved the shrimp; I would hide the tails under my plate so my mom wouldn't know how many I had eaten since she had imposed a quota) and teriyaki, the more common or mainstream dishes you see in the restaurants.

But when she made something that looked like what was in the above picture, I didn't want to eat it. I never did care for those things that came in pots! And, brat that I was, my mom would fix me a frozen dinner instead and I'd have an overdose of sodium and preservatives. She should have just made me eat whatever everyone else was eating, but she didn't. Now Greg and Katie are probably reading this and wondering why they had to eat whatever was on table and all I can say is, life ain't fair, haha.

So those of you out there who are of Japanese ancestry, let me ask you - do you think the dishes in that picture look yummy or do you prefer to abstain from them when you have a choice?

I just don't care for any "weird" food, based mainly on how it looks, and those dishes just look weird to me and don't smell all that great, either. I recall going to my grandmother's house each New Year's and being confronted with an entire table full of strange-looking dishes, none of which I would even attempt to eat.

A lot of it is how we are raised, I think. I didn't even want to try these things because of the way they looked and when my mom got me to taste it, I had already made up my mind that I wouldn't like it. Had I eaten those things from an early age, maybe I'd find them yummy now, but I'll never know.

It's like how Julie loves jellyfish and shark fin soup and pig knuckles/feet. Yuck. Jellyfish is like eating rubber bands; you might as well cut the teeth off of a comb and throw it in some broth because that's what shark fin is like, and I can't even think of anything to liken to pigs knuckles except I won't dare touch the stuff or even look at it. Some of those things that they show you when they lift the covers off the dim sum plates on the carts are simply indescribable and look like they come from alien life.

It's all relative, I guess.