Sunday, September 24, 2006

Updates Updates Updates

Ok so I finally got all my vacation updates done. It's about time!

Seattle Visit - A Vacation from My Vacation?

On Thursday I bid another fond farewell to Hawaii. But it wasn't so bad because I missed Kenji and was excited to see him in Seattle. Although I left Hawaii at around noon, I didn't arrive in Seattle till after 10pm. This leg of my trip I flew on Northwest Airlines, and unlike Continental, they make you pay extra for your food. I did buy a little bit of food, but that was not enough, and I wasn't about to shell out another $5 for a crummy box lunch. So it was really nice that Kenji and his folks took me to late supper at Red Robin after fetching me from the airport. :)

Kenji and I timed our vacation to coincide with his cousin's wedding, which was on September 9th. We both arrived in Seattle on the 7th, so that meant we had at least one day to kick around at our leisure. We did a little shopping, went to see Grandma, that sort of thing. In the evening, we had a date with Kenji's high school friend, Derick and his wife, Meredith and their new baby girl. Because they had the little one, we decided to go to Red Robin again, where it wouldn't matter as much if baby cried. But she didn't cry at all - not even when I held her. That's very unusual - babies always cry when I hold them. :P I offered baby to Kenji to hold, but he just got used to holding kitty cats - babies are a whole new ballgame for him. =)

Saturday morning we arranged to meet up with our friend Tanya for brunch. Tanya used to live in Hawaii. I first met her swing dancing, at an event I went to during my first visit to Hawaii in 1999 - I don't think she remembers me from that though. Anyway she was one of our bridesmaids in our wedding. About a year and a half or so ago, she moved from Hawaii to the mainland to take care of her ailing mother. Now she lives in Seattle. We had super awesome yummy breakfast at Macrina in Belltown. I highly recommend it. :)

While we were in town, after saying seeya to Tanya, Kenji and I visited Safeco Field to go pick up tickets for the Sunday game between the Mariners and the Texas Rangers. The last time we were in Seattle, longtime Mariners slugger, Edgar Martinez, retired from the game, and we got to see it. As part of his retirement, Seattle renamed one of the streets outside the ballpark to Edgar Martinez Drive. That was in 2004. They didn't have the sign up yet, so this time we had to make sure we got a picture of it.

The wedding was in downtown Seattle, in a club on the 17th floor of a building on 4th Street or something like that. Well I'm really not sure. Anyway, from the club there was a nice view of Qwest Stadium, where the Seahawks are kicking the butts of the New Jersey Giants as I type this. (Note I say New Jersey Giants, NOT New York. Their stadium is in New Jersey, so I don't know where they get off calling themselves New York.) We could also see a little bit into Safeco Field.

The wedding itself was pretty short and sweet. I enjoyed hearing how Kelly and Mark met, and the food was good. Here they are cutting their cake, which they didn't do a very good job of shoving into each other's faces like Kenji and I did. Kenji smashed it into my face so well that I had frosting hanging off my eyelash!!!

I couldn't get anyone to dance with me, except Kenji danced with me for the very last song. :) Oh and he also danced with me for the one where the emcee calls how how many years people have been married for, until he finds out which couple has been married the longest. Turns out the couple that won was all a sham. The REAL couple was Kenji's folks, but they conveniently skipped out on the dancing. :P

And see I learn new things about my new family all the time now. For example, who knew Grandma is a pyro? Her sparkler was the only one left sparkling after everyone participated in the sparkly send-off of the newly married couple. Who knew I could use three different forms of the word sparkle in the same sentence? Anyway, don't you think it looks like Grandma's trying to light the building on fire? ;)

Sunday was our last full day in Seattle. And full it was. We took Kenji's younger cousins to the game with us, and Tanya joined us as well. It was a beautiful sunny day, but alas the Mariners did not win. So now I am two and two for this year - I saw them win twice (in Baltimore and Bahstun), and lose twice (in New York and now Seattle). Kenji had the displeasure of seeing them lose twice in New York. :( But at least we got to take this cool picture of him at Safeco Field! Also, this was Tanya's first Major League Baseball game. :)

After the game, we all went back to Kenji's folks' house for a little get together with family and friends. The food, of course, was awesome. And it turned out that another friend of mine who lives in the area was able to come join us too. I call him Celery, but that's not his real name. He's one of my friends I met via a particular internet chat room we both used to go to several years ago, before I even moved to Hawaii. His online name is Celebok, and since that sort of looks like Celery, I decided to call him Celery instead. We had met in person three times prior to this time - the last time in December 2000. So after nearly six years, it was nice to see him again.

So back when we were planning this trip, it seemed to us that three or four days was plenty of time to do everything we wanted in Seattle. But time just went by too fast. Hopefully we'll get to make it out there again in the near future, maybe around the holidays, which I can actually do this year!

Hawaii Visit - Wednesday - Bob's Moonwalk

A week goes by too quickly when you are having fun. It was fortunate for me that my last night in Hawaii was only one day before the full moon - which means Bob's Moonwalk! Normally he tries to arrange his monthly moonwalks on the actual night of the full moon, but he made a special exception for me, knowing that I would not be able to make it on the 7th.

For this moonwalk, we were joined by a columnist for the Star Bulletin, John Heckathorn. He used to work with Bob when Bob was with Honolulu Magazine. So for that particular week's column, John decided to write about Bob and his monthly moonlight stroll - you can read the column here.

Sometimes the weather is really iffy on the night of Bob's moonwalk. This night was no exception. I was driving from downtown to Triangle Park where we were all to meet up, and by Ala Moana it started to pour. But I trusted that the weather would be different over on the other side of Diamond Head, and it was... sort of. At least it wasn't raining... for the most part. And by the time we got to our turn-around point, we accomplished one of our goals for the evening, which was to watch the sun set.

Bob's moonwalks always end up at some kind of eating establishment - usually people drive to it after the walk is finished, but this time getting to the food was part of the adventure, at least it was for some of us. After watching the sun set, we headed to Kaimuki by way of Puu o Kaimuki, where we had a nice view of Honolulu (you can see the ghost of Punchbowl in my blurry photo). We also did manage to have a a couple of very brief moon sightings. The photos are less than impressive, so never mind posting them. You'll just have to take my word for it. :P

Our final destination was Big City Diner, one of the first places I remember going to eat after hiking in Hawaii when I first moved there. :) Just some more pix of me and my crazy friends...

Hawaii Visit - Tuesday - Pau Hana Time!

Tuesday, September 6th was probably the most frustrating day for lots of people on the island of O'ahu... at least it was for anyone who needed to get from town to the west side. An Army vehicle was being transported without a permit on the H-1 from Pearl Harbor to Schofield Barracks when it smashed into a pedestrian overpass right by Aiea High School. The DoT engineers declared the overpass structurally unsound, and so the State decided to close the freeway until they could remove the rest of the overpass. That of course meant gridlock, and people spent as much as eight hours sitting in traffic trying to get home! I can't imagine that... I would have to pee my pants so bad!!!

Fortunately for me, I was not a part of all that mess. At all. I was already in town, had lunch with my friend Mary Ann at Mariposa, and then went for Blondies with Bob at Waioli Tea Room in Manoa. After that was one of my favorite things - Pau Hana!

Again for you mainland people, pau hana bascially means finished work... well which in turn means go out for drinks and pupus (appetizers) at a local watering hole. This Pau Hana was actually a get together of folks who are part of, a social and business networking site for people who live in or have lived in Hawaii and now live elsewhere. I used to be the Honolulu "instigator", but last year I passed the torch to Alicia when Kenji and I moved to the mainland.

This time the watering hole was Palomino's, in Harbor Court, overlooking Nimitz Highway. The bar was packed, not only with Pau Hana attendees, but probably mostly with people who were trying to avoid all the traffic for as long as possible. After all, in Palomino's we had a great view of Nimitz, which is one of the main arteries that gets you west of the airport, and in this case it was a barometer for how traffic was moving.

So here are some photos - you can actually tell this one is from the end of the evening, because Miles is wearing everyone else's name tag.

I think this next photo is of course a no-brainer. Miles has to know a shot like this cannot be passed up for inclusion somewhere on the 'net...

Sometime during the year that I was away from Hawaii, the Dave's Hui on GPH got some competition from a formidable up-and-coming Gary's Hui. The two on the right are Gary and Garry, and there's Rob, I think a Gary wannabe...

Earlier in the day, I think I had stopped by an art gallery store in Ward Center, where I picked up some free postcards that were advertisements for some of the contributing artists. Since I had a book of stamps with me, I decided to write a little postcard to the folks at my workplace, telling them I was not coming back. :P Then I had all my "witnesses" sign it for me. :)

Me with Susan, one of the founders of Global Pau Hana - she lives on the mainland too, and like me, was back in town for a visit.

And me with Alicia - who instigated this Pau Hana event, her last one, too. She's not leaving Hawaii (as far as I know) - just time to let someone else step up to the plate. :)

Finally, at around 10pm, the last of us at Palomino's decided it was time to brave the traffic westward. I was on my way down King Street when Daniel called and he could hang out for a while. So just before I would have been stuck in traffic, I turned around and went to Waikiki. At just about midnight I decided it was probably ok to head home - and fortunately for me, I chose the right way. H-1 between town and Salt Lake was completely clear. Rebecca started her journey home about an hour before me, but she took Nimitz... and only arrived home about five minutes before I did!

Hawaii Visit - Monday - BBQ

Monday, Labor Day, my friend Ricksta had a BBQ at his new place - a sweet house he's renting with two other guys, right on the water in Hawaii Kai. Rick did an awesome job putting this BBQ together - thanks man for hosting and all your hard work!!!

As you can see, it was a beautiful day, and there were all kinds of people there. I knew maybe about half of them, and the other half were friend's of Rick's from paddling, work, and his housemates' friends.

Anyway it was nice and relaxing (well probably for everyone except Rick!), and there was tons of ono grindz (delicious food for you mainlanders) and just lots of talkstory. Much of the talkstory was Rebecca grilling some of our friends for details about how they go together with their boyfriends/girlfriends, ha ha ha. There we are, all the girls listening very intensely to all the details. ;)

There was also a couple there who had a little motorized kayak that they were letting folks use to cruise around the marina. I got to be the driver when Alicia, Rebecca and I went out. I was glad that I managed not to crash into anything, even when pulling back up to the BBQ.

All the good photos were taken by Alicia, like this yummy one taken of the marina with the Ko'olaus in the background. I guess I wouldn't mind waking up at that house every day. I don't even want to know how much it costs, thank you very much. :P

This was an unusual day in that it was the only day in which I had only one thing planned, and ended up doing only that one thing. No dancing, no night fishing, just BBQ. :)

Hawaii Visit - Sunday

Sunday we got up BRIGHT AND EARLY (especially for poor hostess Rebecca, who is most assurely NOT a morining person!) for a wonderful and muddy workout, hiking up to the Ko'olau summit by way of the Hawai'iloa Ridge trail.

I've hiked this trail before, about four years ago. The trailhead is at the very top of Puuikena Drive, a very ritzy gated community filled with gigantic, some beautiful, some simply ostentatious, homes. Among the many amenities located by the trailhead is this little workout thingy... I'm not really sure how it's supposed to be used, but jumping seemed like a good idea to me. When the trailchicks and I did the hike back in November 2002, my friend Nancy and I hopped over all the beams together (I'm the one in the silly green hat). This time I couldn't anyone to hop with me. Weenies.

Yes, more feet photos. This was when our shoes were all nice and clean and respectable-looking. Later on, they were just plain muddy. But we didn't take an after-photo, so you'll just have to use your imagination. =)

The weather wasn't the best - actually it was quite nice down by the ocean, but the summit was rainy and socked-in with clouds, as you can see by our little group picture. The sign is proof we made it to the top. :P

Hawai'iloa Ridge has a lot of really steep bits near the summit. Going up it's not so bad, well aside from how tiring it is. While we were at the summit, it began to rain. As we were descending the mountain, it began to rain harder. We saw little streams of muddy water flowing down the trail under our feet. In several places, we had no choice but to descend on all fours, resulting in hands that looked like this:

As we got closer to the trailhead, things did brighten up again. I really liked the shady places, especially this part of the trail, where the tree roots are all exposed and criss-cross everywhere over the forest floor. I'm no good with identifying most trees, otherwise I'd tell you what kind of trees these are...

The hike all the way up and back is probably around 5 miles. We followed up with burgers at the Shack in Hawaii Kai - the best kine food to top off a nice strenuous hike. :)

After the hike and burgers, I think Rebecca and I managed to sneak in a very short nap before heading back out for dancing at the Atherton YMCA. I thought that place was supposed to have been converted to lame office space... at least that was the rumor a couple of years ago. So I'm happy to say that hasn't been the case. :)

Atherton of course was followed up by ice cream at Bubbies, which was then followed up by some more night fishing at the "groin" with Daniel. We still only managed to catch little tiny fish. And I kept losing hooks... either getting them caught on a reef, or lines snapping on me when I cast. Bah. But we stayed out late enought that it made sense to watch the moon set... at 2:53am!

Visit to Hawaii - Days One, Two and Three


To catch up, on Thursday I got up at 8am New Jersey time, finished packing and hopped on a plane that left more than an hour late at 3pm, and landed in Honolulu only a half hour late at 6:40pm, Hawaii time. Got off the plane, picked up my rental car, and met my friend Dave for supper at Sushi Locomotion in Salt Lake. After supper, Jamie and Todd picked me up and took me out to Honolulu's newest swing dancing venue, Ong King Arts Center in Chinatown. It was a really wonderful and warm welcoming with all kinds of hugs and leis tossed around my neck, followed by lots of dancing that made my jet-lagged and sleep-deprived body feel like it was drunk from the thighs down. :) And as if flying direct from Newark to Hawaii, dinner and dancing were not enough, my gracious hostess, Rebecca, our friend Dave, and Rebecca's security-guard cat, Paco, capped off the day with lychee martinis and talk-story.

I should note that Rebecca's guest bed is the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. I think it might be one of those memory-foam mattresses or something, though I did not check under the bed sheets to find out. I think her folks bought the bed for her because that's the one they know they will be sleeping in when they come to see her. So my compliments to Mom and Dad Rebecca for a great selection of bed!


Friday morning I woke up early, around 8am and went outside for a nice walk around the neighborhood. I didn't get very far before I got the idea of trading in my rental car, a big and clunky Ford Taurus, for the smaller, economy-class car that I had originally reserved anyway. Am I weird for wanting to down-grade my rental car? I don't care; it took only two miles and one annoying attempt to park in the jam-packed Salt Lake Shopping Center parking lot to convince me that I didn't want to drive a Ford Taurus for the rest of the week. So instead I ended up with a Chevy Aveo, a little $9,000 car whose only frill was the air conditioning. That was the only frill I needed, so I was a happy camper. Or driver.

Since Rebecca works a crazy schedule, she was able to join me and some of the folks from my former workplace, HTDC, for awesome lunch at Asia Manoa. After this, I took a nice walk around Kapiolani Park.

After my nice walk, I fought typical Honolulu traffic to pick up Dave from his workplace in downtown. We went to the not-so-well attended tech trade show at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Between the two of us, we paid $4 to park, and we figure we got enough t-shirts and stress balls out of it to make up for the cost of parking. Oh yeah, there was also a vendor there who's selling a service for sending video email messages. They let us do a demo, so you can see our dorky video if you click here. Please note - I don't think it works in Safari.

Next, we met up with some HTDC and other folks at Longhi's at Ala Moana Shopping Center for "yooj", which is HTDC's term for going out for drinks and pupus after work. :)

Following yooj, I have to thank Vivian for introducing us to Spices, a relatively new restaurant in the University area of town, on King Street, just a few doors up from Kokua Market. Vivian insisted we go try all their ice creams, and I'm glad we did! If I were smart, I would have written down all the flavors we tried - they are so unusual and you're not likely to find them anywhere else. My favorite was the Pineapple-Basil (who would guess that could be good?!?). Dave's favorite was the one with hot pepper in it. Viv likes the Jasmine. No one really liked the Durian, but I was happy to have tried it. I think it is an acquired taste, because I did try several spoonsful of it, and it did become slightly more appealing after each one. I think there was also Lavender, and the other two flavors were not unusual - Chocolate and Banana.

So you'd think that after all this, our day would be over already. But no... Dave and I parted with Viv after our ice cream experience and picked up our fishing buddy, Daniel, for a little night fishing over at the "groin" in Waikiki. Thad joined us too. We didn't catch much, just a few little tiny fish that we threw back.


It's nice to wake up here to the sound of palm trees blowing in the breeze, and look out the window and see sunshine and blue sky.

Today's schedule of activities was not so packed. I met up with Rick, Alicia, Tom/Kevin, Bex, Dave and Jade for Dim Sum at Fook Lam in Chinatown. The food there is always so ono, and
the company a lot of fun. And it seems that this is the first time I bothered to use my camera. And I have to thank Alicia for making me a CD of all the photos she took - I've included some of those here as well. I love the sesame-covered balls that they snip in half with the scissors which makes them look like little fledgling pac-men waiting to be fed tasty ghosts.

For some reason, my friends like to take pictures of their feet. Can you tell which pair of legs belong to me? I'll give you a hint - my legs have seen very little of the New Jersey sun during the last year:

So anyway, following dim sum, I didn't really have any particular plans, other than to go dancing later in the evening. So Dave and I decided to hang out and talk story for a while at the park on Sand Island, then got some Jamba Juice at the new Moanalua Shopping Center. There are no Jamba Juices in New Jersey, at least that I know of. And it's not exactly convenient for me to go to the one that is in NYC.

After a nice little afternoon nap at Rebecca's, my hostess returned from work and we met up with my friend Rob at Spices - this time for dinner, not ice cream. Suffice it to say, dinner was quite yummy, but best of all, Rebecca and I managed to talk Rob into joining us for some dancing over at the Kahala (formerly Mandarin). It was a wonderful night of dancing - so many people there. The large turnout was due to this being the final performance of Betty Loo Taylor's jazz trio at the Kahala. I was just happy to have been there for this one last time.
It seems that after the Kahala changed ownership, some renovations where made to the lounge area. These renovations resulted in hotel guests being able to hear the music from their suites down on the far end of the lounge areas, which in turn restulted in complaints against all that "damn jazz" late at night. Weenies.

Friday, September 22, 2006

From the Martyzone

I figure that anyone who actually reads this blog on a regular basis is getting tired of seeing the same old post I made about a moth ago. Since then I took a trip to Hawaii to visit friends, and then went and met Kenji in Seattle where we attended his cousin's wedding. I have all kinds of photos, but I haven't had all kinds of time to post any of them yet. And since my friend Tiffany is going to pick me up in about an hour to go to a dance, I still don't have time to post them now.

But I haven't done a Martyzone posting in a while, and that's easy! This week, he closed his newsletter with this very pressing question:

Why does inhaling helium make you sound like a cartoon?