Less stuff; more love

January 5th, 2014

The end of procrastination

Lofty goal but I’m determined to make procrastination less of a stone around my neck. I’m the type of person that ends up paying hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars in DMV fines for late fees because I don’t open my mail or I misplace it, then put it off and put it off because I hate doing it so much. Except that in the long run, it costs me more time and definitely more money.

The other thing I’m notoriously bad at is giving things up. It doesn’t help that my mother passed away and left me and my sister with all this stuff I haven’t yet had the heart to figure out what to do with. But after almost 8 years, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t need it and I can get rid of it.

So I’m going to make this year one of less as in less wasted time and money, less attachment to things and clutter, and fewer unfulfilled promises to myself.

Start simple: less hair

The first thing I’ve accomplished on my list is: cut my hair. I’ve been thinking about and wanting to cut my hair and donate it to Locks of Love for a very, very long time. My hair is long and thick. I don’t consider myself a terribly vain person, but it was the one thing I felt vain about, the one thing that always made me feel feminine and attractive even when I wasn’t really feeling it otherwise. It was my security blanket and super power: a girly cape of glorious hair!

Of course, it was also really long so it was a chore to take care of, and constantly in the way — uncomfortably touching me, or getting stuck in the car door or trapped under me or behind me. I dreaded washing it; I almost always had it up. But I couldn’t part with it. Until last Thursday that is when I decided it was finally time to give up my attachment to my long hair.

I really like the short hair. I felt awkward and insecure the first night, but the next morning I woke up with it sticking straight up, and I thought yes, this look I can get behind.

Passing peacefully

September 20th, 2011

Grandma's 100th Birthday
Grandma’s 100th Birthday on Aug. 13, 2011

On Saturday, September 17th, a little over a month after my grandma turned 100, she passed away peacefully in the company of family. I was supposed to go over to her house that night and see her one last time, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew I should, but I just couldn’t get myself to go. I went to work instead. And while I was there, I got a text message at 8:44pm telling me she’d just passed away. I went right back to work.

I wasn’t close to my grandma. We didn’t speak the same language so we couldn’t communicate, but her sons and daughters, my aunts and uncles and my mother while she lived, loved her like mad. They all took care of her as she got older. She was the family matriarch and ruled over all of them. She was fierce and unpretentious, and expressed her unabashedly uncensored opinions freely. She was a kind of hellion and smoked and drank beers all day until she was in her 70s. She still drank beer even at her 99th birthday.

She had an arranged marriage to my gangster grandfather whom I’ve never met. He died when the kids were still young. My mom was nine, but she was the 2nd to youngest. The older ones took care of her and the family. She was of a generation of women that were completely uneducated. She didn’t even know how to count money. But her kids all grew up to be successful, and they all took care of the matriarch.

At her 100th birthday, I noticed one of her socks had fallen off. She sat in a wheelchair, and used an oxygen tank. She slept a lot. Her mind had been sharp for a long time, and she’d been physically fit into her 90s, but by 100, she was less sharp, more quiet. I wasn’t sure she recognized me at all.

I put the sock back on her foot. I told her I was going to do it then bent under the wheelchair and she lifted her leg up. Her foot was so small but swollen. I put it on and she left her foot up until I set it back down for her. And I wondered if it was because she was so used to having people physically manipulate her body for her, or if she couldn’t tell I had finished putting the sock on, or if she hadn’t understood at all what I was doing. I wondered if the simple act of replacing a sock and the physical motions involved and the physical sensations it produced was now out of the range of comprehension.

And that’s what I think about now. Her swollen foot. How small and fragile it looked without that sock on. How cold it already was from missing that sock for just a little while. And that’s what breaks my heart. That and the fact that my aunt called me today to make sure I knew the funeral was tomorrow and then broke down crying. I can deal with the passing of my grandmother. She lived a long life, surrounded and loved by family. But I can’t deal with the pain my aunts and uncles feel. I can’t do anything for them. And it makes me feel useless.

Bugs: the other meat

August 17th, 2011

I love protein. I don’t feel like I’ve had a proper meal if it doesn’t contain protein and vegetables. But I have a bleeding heart and as much as I love meat, I’m perturbed by some of the things I’ve read about the meat industry. Skinny Bitch recounted a few stories out of Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz, and I obsessed about one of the stories for days. I couldn’t get this visual out of my head of some guy torturing a pig on its way to slaughter, and wracking my brain trying to figure out why anyone would do that to another living animal. But we’re a murderous bunch, us beasts.

I was reading this article in the New Yorker about bugs as food. And delicious food from the sounds of the some of the ways they were being prepared: beetles fried in butter, soy marinated crickets, fritters adorned with worms, a spider roll w/fried tarantula instead of soft shell crab. My favorite sounding dish is available in Los Angeles at Guelaguetza: chapulines a la Mexicana are grasshoppers sautéed with onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes, topped with avocado and Oaxacan string cheese (though it doesn’t seem to appear on the menu on their website). But mmmmm….it sounds lovely.

Entomophagy is what bug eating is officially called. And it seems to be a hot topic right now. The thing about bugs is that they have as much protein as meat, sometimes more (fried grasshoppers have three times the amount of protein as beef), and have vitamins, minerals, and fats, and are less ecologically damaging to produce as a meat source than our traditional cows, chickens, and pigs. And breeding insects is more humane, “bugs like teeming, and thrive in filthy, crowded conditions.”

Isaac gleefully eating a giant grasshopper in Bangkok

The problem is getting over the disgust we as Westerners have for eating insects. Eighty percent of the world eats insects for food. That’s most of the world except for us. Me personally, as long as it doesn’t look like a little bug, I’ll eat it. We ate bugs in Bangkok. Well, my friends did, I picked at them a little. They looked too much like exactly what they were. I’ll be happier when they can process out bug protein and it doesn’t come in the shape of a giant grasshopper.

Mother, son conversations

June 26th, 2011

The other day I asked my son, “Do you know two girls, one cup?” and he gets this horrified look of disgust on his face that I’ve never seen before and says, “yeah.” I thought the look was indicative of his distaste for the trailer, but it turns out he was mortified at the thought of having to explain a video like that to his mother. But the boy is a trooper because he dives right in and says, “it’s this video with these two girls and there’s shit and vomit…” and I tell him, “oh no, no — I know the video” because the thought of him continuing to tell me the premise of the trailer was starting to make me feel mortified.

All I wanted to do was tell him this sexual harassment story I’d heard recently that was related to it and wanted to know if he knew the reference. Someone in a work place was fired or reprimanded for saying something along the lines of “cup,” but someone overheard and knew it was a reference to 2 girls, 1 cup and complained to HR. It seemed ridiculous to me that anyone could file a complaint on such tenuous grounds: a word uttered; an assumption made.

But I do appreciate that he and I can openly talk to each other about things. Even when they are completely uncomfortable.

Family is the heart of everything

April 4th, 2011

Maybe it’s my biological clock, or maybe it’s just becoming more mature and less selfish, or maybe it’s just being physically closer to my family that makes me so sentimental about the ties, blood or not, that make up a family. One of the girls I call a niece even though she’s not technically or legally my niece had her bridal shower today and it made me look at the kids in our family and think of how mature they’ve all gotten. Why is it that we remember children, no matter their real age, as children? I remember Klarisa as a little two year old girl because that’s when I first met her. She made my heart melt. I remember my son as a tiny little bean, but he’s a gorgeous, full grown man now. I remember his sister as a baby, less than two years old because that’s when I first met her. Bald, quiet, but sweet. Now she’s got an amazing and thick head of hair, and the maturity and attitude of a 30 year old in her 21 year old body. Family bonds can tie and restrain us, but goddamn, they set our hearts on fire that melt us irreparably. Once touched, never the same. Love for family is both sweet and bitter, but you couldn’t go on living without it.

me, dad, jess, and josh
Josh, Dad, Me & Jess

Mothers: Tina, Me, Lisa
Mothers: Tina, Me, Lisa

My Tiger Mother

February 2nd, 2011

I just started reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.It’s the controversial book on parenting the Chinese way, and I kind of like it. Actually, I really like it and I find it educational. And a little nostalgic. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a Tiger Mother (not one quite as fierce as Amy Chua, though fiercer in other ways) and maybe because I’ve lost her I appreciate her more than I did before she was gone, but I see the positive aspects of this type of parenting.

There are studies that have shown that being outstanding at something has more to do with years of practice and training than with any innate ability, and Chua’s parenting method takes advantage of this to drill sargeant her daughters into what they are: amazing students and amazing musicians.

My parenting method is as Western as it gets. According to Chua, “Western” parenting comes in a variety of forms, and she uses the term “Chinese parenting” to not only mean Chinese mothers (and not all Chinese mothers), but also some Korean, Indian, and other mothers using this parenting method.

The parenting involves strictly regimenting the child’s life, allowing her only limited social time. It includes harsh criticism when the parent’s high expectations are not met, hours and hours devoted to studying and practicing, and an expectation she will excel at everything and if she doesn’t it’s because she didn’t try hard enough and not because she can’t. The possibility that she can’t excel at everything doesn’t exist: a tiger mother believes her child fully capable of achieving what she expects of her. The desired outcome is a child who grows into a successful adult who believes she is capable of anything she puts her mind and focus into. Now, who wouldn’t want a child that grows into that kind of self confident, high achieving adult?

I think we focus on the belittling and the harsh words and forced hours of work, and get caught up in how abusive and cruel those things seem to be. But we see it from a very Western perspective that teaches us that we are all individuals and should be respected to make our own choices. But children don’t make good choices. They’d eat candy and sit in front of the TV all day if you let them.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but so far, I think it may be limited in scope. Chua’s girls are good girls so the outcome of her parenting — whatever we think of it — is positive. But what about those kids who have been parented like this and don’t succeed? I wonder if they exist and if there are any studies about them.

I don’t think I could parent quite like this, but I could definitely benefit from some of the lessons from this book. Because kids do make poor choices and a parent’s role is to prepare them for adult life.

I always say that I was such a rebellious teen because my parents were so strict. And that may be true, but I also grew up into a strong and independent person who believes she can do anything she wants to. But success requires hard work. “Chinese” mothers really just want their kids to live the American dream, just better than everyone else.

Another year…

January 19th, 2011

1947-2006. We’ve made it through another year. That makes 5 now. Still miss her.

Mom at the beach in California 1970
Mom at a Southern California beach in 1970

The devil in disguise

January 16th, 2011

My son just did something awful and I saw this commercial at the gym and it made me think of him. He looks like an angel and can be such a sweet kid, but I never forget that he’s 17, almost 18, and can sometimes be the devil in disguise. The youtube video below isn’t as good as the commercial they play on TV. On TV, the “devil in disguise” part is much louder and makes the commercial funnier.

You can be irresistible

January 11th, 2011

I love these new commercials! I saw one at the gym the other day and immediately perked up and wondered what it was. I haven’t checked out the website yet, but their ads are so good, I’m going to. I firmly believe that everyone can be sexy. And so do these commercials! I love this one with the two guys in the office and one of them’s petting the carpet at the end. I find them sexy — not just funny sexy, but really sexy. I think that’s the charm of the commercial — at least for me — seeing normal people being sexy. Because sexy’s not about your body size or what you look like, it’s your attitude and the whole hearted belief that you are sexy…because you are.

CES 2011

January 10th, 2011

A long time friend of mine saw my Google chat status and said you’re still going to CES?! No, well, ok, yes. I haven’t been to CES in 11 years, but decided this was the year I would return to see their first Sports & Fitness Tech conference and to do a write up of my favorite existing and future fitness tech from CES.

I haven’t been to Vegas in a long time. I think the last time I went it was to see Justin Timberlake in late 2007. That was fun. This was also fun, but much less debauchery. I had a really nice dinner with an old co-worker, drank a very conservative amount of alcohol, placed a $20 bet on red in roulette (and won :) and otherwise spent the time working. Which, oddly enough, was a nice change of pace for Vegas.

I guess it’s been long enough that CES was exciting again for me. I didn’t see the entire floor in all the halls, but it was mostly 3D TVs and cameras, wireless home systems, some touchless user interfaces (all still somewhat rough and imperfect), electric vehicles, health & fitness & mommy tech, and iPod/Pad/Touch accessories out the wazoo. I saw one session for software that lets you touchlessly control your computer using a regular webcam, but the guy was showing a video of it instead of demo-ing it live (it’s not very convincing if you don’t demo it live).

Audi's e-tron at CES 2011
Audi’s e-tron at CES 2011

I saw a couple of the glasses-less 3D tvs and they’re cool, but they have such a limited range of view — you have to stand right in front of it in the center in order for it to work and it’s still imperfect. The GE smart home wasn’t as smart as I wanted it to be, but was interesting from an energy efficiency standpoint. With a little communication module for your energy efficient appliances, you could see, for example, how much each load of laundry costs you in real time. The smart meters utility companies are starting to install signal when prices are at the peak, low, or midrange so your washer won’t run unless it gets the signal that it’s the cheapest rate, and if that rate changes mid-load, it’ll adjust itself to save you money. You can override this of course if you desperately need to wash something. And your city needs to have upgraded to the new smart meters in order to use this technology, but seeing the hard data like that all day long could really change your habits.

The thing I was most excited about was Omek, a gesture recognition engine that is faster than the Kinect and versatile. It’s vendor agnostic and hardware agnostic. With any 3D camera and their engine + SDK, you could develop killer gesture recognition apps. They’re working on a fitting app so home shoppers can virtually try on clothes. I’m so excited about that. My short little ass’ll have an easier time finding clothes that’ll fit :)

My favorite food in San Francisco

January 3rd, 2011

I had a bad restaurant experience today so I thought I’d write about all the food I miss in San Francisco. I’m a creature of habit with food — it’s so easy to get bad food and it breaks my heart to eat awful food so I tend to eat from “safe” places I know I love.

  • Pho from Thanh Tam II at Valencia and 17th (577 Valencia St, 94110). The other food I’ve had here has been mediocre, but they have the best pho. I sometimes have it delivered to my house, but it’s better to have it at the restaurant because it arrives hot and fresh to your table. They have the most delicious broth and their meatballs are so flavorful. I usually get the special combination beef noodle soup (pho) with the flank steak, rare steak, tripe, and meatballs and I wish I could have it here in Irvine (it’s been so cold lately!).
  • Chicken liver crostini from Beretta at Valencia and 23rd. I also like their argula and fennel salad. I find most of their food to be just ok, but I love these 2 dishes with a glass of red wine especially after a hard, early afternoon workout on a weekend day before the crowds start forming for dinner and the place is mostly quiet and I’m mad for a protein fix.
  • Carpaccio from Kuleto’s on Powell in Union Square. I have tried carpaccio in a lot of places in southern California and I can’t find anything that comes remotely close to the one at Kuleto’s. It comes with a lovely little Cannellini bean salad, citrus vinaigrette, and two perfectly spiced shrimp. For $13.50 you cannot find carpaccio this good anywhere else. I’ve paid much more for much crappier carpaccio in a lot of different restaurants.
  • Chilled tripe at Pizzeria Delfina at 18th and Guerrero. I usually have this with one of their salads (usually the tricolore insalata) but it’s really the tripe I’m there for.
  • Kiji shooters from Kiji on Guerrero at 22nd. The oyster shooters with uni and quail egg….mmmm. I love everything at this place. I don’t have a Japanese place in socal yet that I love as much as I love Kiji. Their fish is wonderful, their service is great, the atmosphere is lovely, and Eddie (the owner) is awesome. I miss you, Kiji!
  • The white chocolate raspberry bread pudding from Nordstrom Cafe & Bistro on Powell. I’m picky about bread pudding and don’t like most of them, but this one is rich and heavenly, and much too decadent to finish, but luckily makes good leftovers :). I also miss that Nordie’s cafe because they have a full bar and most of them don’t.

The smell of her hair

August 13th, 2010

I found this box of shampoo today. A small UHaul box full of shampoo bottles. I think my sister must have gathered all the shampoo in the house and put it in a box to donate to somewhere and then left it in the garage. And every time I walk by it, the smell reminds me of my mom.

It’s sort of funny to think about how cheap the shampoo is. I’m sure there are only that many bottles in the house because she got them dirt cheap on sale somewhere. Dirt cheap shampoo on sale for even cheaper. It’s funny because she liked to dress in Chanel and St. John, carried Louis Vuitton and Gucci purses (the genuine article, not the knock offs). And she took care of her skin with any number of department store brands, but her hair — eh, her hair could stand the cheap stuff.

And now that I think about it — it makes sense. Because our hair is pretty sturdy stuff. Thick and heavy and silky. I guess if you had to skimp on any particular beautifying product, the hair would be the most reasonable choice when it’s as luxurious as ours. Every little penny counts. My mother is quintessential proof of that.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

July 29th, 2010

My Frontierville homestead
My homestead. That’s me, my honey, and our little girl (mini me!) near our cabin.

Let me just preempt your judgment, caveat the statement soon to follow, and add this proviso: I am not a gamer. I have played games in the past, but am easily bored of them and soon neglect whatever game on whatever platform I’ve ever played. Except for Frontierville: I am a Frontierville addict.

When I was in Japan the only thing I missed was Frontierville. Not my family, not my friends, but Frontierville. Please note that I did miss my family and my friends, but there wasn’t anything I could do about not seeing them while I was out of the country. On the other hand, I had access to internet! I could have played Frontierville! If I’d only bought a netbook instead of an iPad!

I started playing Zynga games a couple of months ago because friends and family work there. I started with Farmville and Mafia Wars. Games I’ve seen other FB friends post statuses about on their walls. I have always scoffed at these posts as wastes of space on my FB home page (I now post Frontierville updates…oh how low we have sunk).

Then Frontierville launched in early June. I started playing. Soon I stopped caring about Farmville or Mafia Wars. Frontierville was better than either of them.

What’s the crack? It’s easy to learn, easy to play, and every single time you play you feel like you’ve made progress. There are little tasks you have to complete and the more experience you have, the harder the tasks get (as in you have to collect harder to find things and/or more items to complete a task). But no matter how long a particular task might take to complete, there are other tasks you can complete faster, and whatever you do, you’re always moving forward on your homestead. It’s instant gratification.

The cows are hungry? Oh, let’s feed them! The crops are ready? Let’s harvest! Oh, we have free land? Let’s plant stuff! Let’s buy stuff from the market and make our homesteads prettier! Let’s clear this patch of land for a new building! Let’s buy baby animals! More baby animals! Moo!

The graphics are better than in Farmville and where I find my farm ugly and inhospitable, I find my homestead perfectly suited to me because I made it all my own. I can literally just stare at my homestead and genuinely enjoy looking at it (though it did take me some weeks to get it to that point).

I play every single day, and usually several times a day. When I wake up, it’s the thing that perks me up out of my morning funk. When I need a break, I go burn a couple of minutes on my homestead. Once a day I spend at least 30 minutes on it tending to my neighbors and sending them gifts. Every single thing I do earns more points and coins. I haven’t spent a single real dollar on the game (I’m not allowed to), but have bought an assload of things for my homestead.

This is probably the longest blog post I’ve written in forever and it’s about Frontierville! This is me — a non-gamer who used to pride myself on my aloofness to mass market games like Farmville…well, that used to be me. (Don’t forget to add me as a neighbor! :)

Takayama is amazing

July 2nd, 2010

I love this small town. I loved Tokyo and Kyoto too but I think after a week of big cities, Takayama was a perfect place to come to. I decided on a whim to come here a day or two before we arrived and I can’t remember what it was that drew me here but whatever it was I’m glad I came.

Takayama is full of historic buildings so it has a very quaint and charming feel to it. It’s also small so virtually everything is about 10 minutes from the main train and bus station ( the two are next to each other ) either by foot or by bus. They have th is city mascot type doll that is called a baby monkey that grandmas used to make for their families for various types of good luck — marriage and family, scholarly success, financial success, etc. It is the cutest thing ever (I’ll post a photo when I can).

And the local cuisine is interesting. First there’s the local Hida beef which is amazing. Then there’s the rice flour balls on a skewer cooked with what tastes like soy sauce on a grill. You can find them everywhere — at the morning market it’s 60 yen. At the corner stands they’re 70 yen and you can smell them cooking on lots of these streets. The same with the smell of Hida beef grilling coming out of restaurants here. There are also bunches of small vendors that sell meat on a stick like Hida beef and ostrich and they grill it in front of you when you order it (the ostrich was gooooood). There’re are also lots of places th at sell little steamed buns with Hida beef in the middle. Mmmmmm….the beef is soooo good. Nice and fatty and delicious. I had a Hida beef steak last night for dinner and it was so tender and delicious and flavorful.

There’s also water everywheree. The Miya-gawa and the Enako-gawa rivers run through the city so there are tons of little bridges and the rushing of water and it adds to the city’s charm.

Josh was sick most of today so I wandered around by myself — he wasn’t sick enough that I couldn’t leave him — and it was nice to wander without feeling bad if i got lost and walking around without any direction – just going where the prettiest streets took me. I visited some museums, two lovely coffee shops, and wandered through the quaint streets and loved it. And Josh was fine by dinner time :)

Japanese women are styling

July 1st, 2010

One of the things I love about Japan is how stylish the women are here. Their outfits are flattering and attractive and often unique. I love everything about their style here — the hand towels, the umbrellas for sun and rain, those enormous visors, their love of hats, their sun shielding arm bands, and most of all their socks.

It’s so humid here, a lot of people carry around little towels or hankerchiefs. I went into my first department store in the Kyoto train station and couldn’t believe how many little towels they had. They vary in size but are usually larger than an American washcloth, but smaller than a hand towel. Men and women both carry these, though I haven’t seen as many women just carrying them in their hands as I have the men. And designer labels make them. I bought a Laura Ashley one on sale. But high end designers like Burberry even design these little sweat towels for the Japanese market.

And their socks! We in the states get a handful of little toe and footsie nylon type socks for our heels and pretty shoes, but here the sock itself can be a stylish element of footwear. They complement the shoe and are meant to be seen. I was astounded and excited to see the immense number of socks in the sock stores in Harajuku. Our footsie socks are plain, drab nude or black. In Japan they come in every color you can imagine, they have little bandaeu socks, they have faux socks that scrunch but don’t cover the whole foot, they glitter, they shine, they have buttons and ribbons and all sorts of embellishments. They have little socks that look like Mary Janes. I saw a woman on the Metro wearing black flats with no strap, but wearing red socks with a strap and glittering little buttons sewn on the strap. It added some cute flash to her bland shoes. And you can change up your socks and make your shoes look different and it costs less!

I also love how stylishly they keep safe from the sun. Japanese women seem to love hats. Their hat stores are amazing and full of a wide variety of hats, including really beautiful, large visor hats for sun protection. I’ve seen women in the states wearing these on occasion — usually Asian women — but the ones I’ve seen in the States are rather unattractive. Here they can be as nice as the nicest hat. I’m so bringing one home and wearing it everywhere in the Mission. I’m also bringing home arm guards! They’re arm warmers except they’re meant to shield from the sun. Again, they have these in the States, but the ones I’ve gotten there are for the cold — not suitable for humid heat. Here they’re light and airy and some are long enough to cover your hand and have a cute little ribbon at the wrist. I love them for that. I hate being exposed to the sun as much as they do. And sunscreen is nasty sticky.

Hello from Japan

June 28th, 2010

I’ve already lost track of the days but here we are in Kyoto! And we have wifi at the hostel. For a super techie country, it’s been hard to find wifi that works for us. I thought I could easily buy a prepaid 3G card for the shiny new ipad I bought especially for this trip. The ipad i thought would be so great because: don’t have to take it out at airport security, can buy 3G data plans by the month, can type pretty well when it’s rotated to the side so I can blog, dump photos onto it, can read books on it, and it’s lighter and smaller than a laptop for everyday carrying around.

Well it is lighter than a laptop. And I can play games on it and read. But airport security not only randomly patted me down, but also made me take my iPad out and ran my carry on bag back through the scanner. And that was after the security line we were originally in got shut down for some unknkown reason and we had to walk to another gate to go through security and I was starting to get scared we’d be late for our flight because everything at LAX took a bazillion times longer than i thought it would.

Then there was the problem of getting an affordable pre-paid 3G card in Japan. I’d read that it was possible in Japan but should have done more research to be sure because it’s sort of expensive and I’m not sure I need it that much. And Apple hasn’t come out with their USB adapter for the iPad yet so no dumping photos from my memory cards, and of course, no blogging unless there’s wifi somewhere that I can use and this hostels the first place I’ve been able to.

But no complaints! Because it’s actually kind of nice to be disconnected. I don’t waste my time blogging :) Let’s see…the Harajuku girls, the maid cafe, the cute rockabilly girl (and boys) in Yoyogi park, the onsens, the manga museum, the cute hidden alleys full of lovely things, Japanese food, and walking everyday and seeing something new and different…and that’s just the start of our visit! Yeah, really can’t complain.

It pays to be a good driver

May 19th, 2010

I had to run to the DMV today because the guy at AAA didn’t seem to be able to help me — he told me I owed 2 years worth of registration fees on my Ninja! I told him he was crazy! Well the DMV told me the same thing and so I just paid them and filed for an address change for my license and registered vehicles. BTW, Santa Ana DMV was amazingly fast. The California DMV website lists the wait times for various local DMV offices and the wait time listed for non-appointment drop in visitors at the Santa Ana DMV (23 minutes) was spot on. I was impressed.

Last week when I was driving up to San Francisco, I got pulled over for speeding at 90mph. The speed limit on I-5 is 70 so I wasn’t going crazy fast, but I was driving faster than I normally do. Even though I’ve got that shit hot car, I usually drive about 80, maybe 85mph up to and down from San Francisco. Don’t ask me why I was doing 90. It didn’t feel any different than 80 and it was early in the morning and traffic was light, the sun was up by the time I got pulled over (at 8am) and I was about halfway to my destination and feeling really happy. So 90…maybe that was just a sign of contented happiness on my part.

I am a good citizen. I don’t do anything illegal and I hardly ever get pulled over. So somehow that makes me extremely anxious about cops. They literally make me sweat and shake. When I got pulled over, I had to really focus to keep my hands steady as I handed him the requisite paperwork because I’m not only terrified of cops, but I’m terrified they’ll know I’m terrified because that has got to be a sure sign of guilt about something.

But I acted calmly and handed him my paperwork. He took it to his car and I waited for about 10 minutes for him to look up various things about my person. And when he came back, he gave me a present! Look, your driving record is totally clean so I’m just going to give you a warning about your speed and give you this fixit ticket for your change of address on your driver’s license. I was shocked! Then he smiled and said, my brother-in-law has one of these cars. I know how they can get away from you sometimes. I thanked him profusely, called him sir, and wished him an excellent day.

People seem to love these cars. Anyone who knows anything about cars gets really excited about my car. I randomly met a guy who produced shows for the Speed network and he gets to play with all sorts of cars — even he loved my car. And he loved that a girl was driving that car. It made me puff up my feathers and preen myself a bit, I was so flattered when he said that. And people who know people who have STis seem to love them too. It’s such an odd thing to own something that other random people love as much as I love.

But back to that cop. I was surprised at his the kindness of his gift. I was really, really excited — he saved me hundreds of dollars, and saved me a whole day of traffic school. I think people should always pay forward acts of kindness. I remembered this when I got to the toll booth at the Bay Bridge and paid for the random person behind me. But I guess I should have paid for the next 100 people behind me. I still owe for that cop’s kindness.

Itching to ride

May 19th, 2010

I got my bike back from the shop today and was so excited about taking it for a little ride, but I couldn’t buy a helmet off the rack. They just don’t stock them in my size! Plus I forgot that the registration sticker on it is from 2006 and even though it’s legally registered, I seemed to have misplaced my 2010 sticker.

Since I’m in Southern California, I couldn’t go to one of the gear places I know of up north to buy my helmet. I picked up my bike at Mission Motorsports in Irvine, but didn’t get a chance to look at helmets while I was there because the tow truck driver was waiting for me (no helmet, no ride). So when I got home I checked on Yelp for a place to get gear near my place. Not a whole lot of options turns out. Which I find weird because in San Francisco alone, I can think of at least 2-3 places I can go to for gear, plus the Cycle Gear and Road Rider stores in San Jose. So based on reviews, I picked OTD Orange County Motorsports to buy my helmet, but the guy there (who was very helpful) said they had almost nothing in stock because they were waiting on new inventory. And nothing at all in my size. I thought my head was big, but apparently that’s just wishful thinking cause I wear an XS.

I asked the guy at OC Motorsports where else I could go for helmets and he could only come up with Mission Motorsports (and he told me they got the new helmet models in before he did) so I went back there. I was really impressed with the girly helmets they have available now. And was turned onto Scorpion EXO which is a relatively new brand I’d never heard of before, but they make lots of nice looking women’s gear including both pretty and badass girly helmets (very reasonably priced compared to a Shoei or an Arai).

Brooklyn at the Mission Motorsports was really helpful and I ended up with another Shoei helmet: the somewhat new RF 1100 (Sylvan TC-9). Seems to have gotten lots of good reviews so I can’t wait to get it. I like that it’s light in color, but not solid white like my old one. I wanted something with a little more style and flare this time — something sexier like this:

They didn’t have it in the size or color I wanted/needed so I had to special order it. Hope to get it by Friday so I can go for a ride. All I want to do is go for a little ride. Just a little ride, mommy, please!

Ready to ride!

May 6th, 2010

It was a gorgeous day in Southern California today and I had ants in my pants. I think I just wanted to be out enjoying the sun and do some people watching. I was running around in the car today itching badly to go for a joy ride down PCH, but I didn’t. The new car gets bad gas mileage and I have green guilt. Besides, that’s not what I really wanted to do. What I really wanted was to get out on a motorcycle and cruise PCH and to feel the wind rush over me.

My little EX250 has been sitting here in my mother’s garage for three to four years. I think it’s time to ride her again. Today I washed and waxed her — just because she’s been sitting around unloved and unused doesn’t mean she should go to the dealership looking like anything less than the gorgeous princess she is. She is so clean and smooth now. I’ve been petting her freshly waxed gas tank.

Next week when I come back, she’ll be all tuned up and I’ll have my gear and her current registration stickers and she’ll be ready for the open road again. I cannot wait! She and I are going to tear up PCH together.

Reminds me…

May 5th, 2010

I love the animation in this video. The music is catchy, the lyrics…not so crazy about them, but they remind me of my mommy.