Green Thumb

A little more than a month ago, Reiko and I started growing vegetables. We planted baby bok choy, Mesclun sweet salad mix (Bull’s Blood Beet, Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, Red Salad Bowl Lettuce, Black-Seeded Simpson, and Tendergreen Mustard), lettuce, arugula, wild arugula (stronger taste than regular arugula), and shiso. The only non-vegetable we have is a small pot with a couple Forget-me-nots that I brought back for Reiko from Alaska. The funny thing about them is the seeds were encased in a chunk of moose turd.

The baby bok choy, lettuce, salad mix, and Forget-me-nots were all started from seeds, whereas the rest of the plants we picked up at the Torrance Certified Farmer’s Market. All the plants started out doing well, but 2 weekends ago we spent the weekend at my place and it just happened to be the hottest weekend we’ve had thus far. Needless to say our plants struggled a bit due to heat and lack of water, but most pulled through. The arugula and shiso don’t seem to be doing that well, but the guy we bought the seedlings from said they should come back. I think it’s too hot inside for them and we don’t have a good spot for them outside where they won’t be in direct sunlight. The rest all look really great and we’re both excited to be able to eat everything we’ve grown, minus the Forget-me-nots. The lettuce and baby bok choy look the best. I have to admit that I’m more proud of the ones we started from seeds than the seedlings we bough from the market. I also have to admit that Reiko has done most of the upkeep since we planted everything. I guess her thumb is a little more green than mine.

Although the growing season for each of the plants varies, we’re both hoping to have several harvests through the rest of the summer.

Viva Las Vegas!

Although I’ve been twice before, this time was different. This time I went to gamble. I took a road trip Friday night with my special lady to Sin City. We had a luxury suite over looking The Strip in The Palazzo, 26th floor. Really nice room, sunken living room, 3 flat screens, spa shower and separate tub, pretty much pimp across the board. Of course after checking in we went down to test our luck a little. Reiko introduced me to the world of Craps. I’d seen it on TV and in movies, but didn’t really know anything about it other than 7 & 11. I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming at first, but it turns out it’s really easy. We played some Black Jack and Roulette, with a little success, but less exciting than Craps. After a few hours and a couple bills up, we decided to call it a night.

We started our day off with a delicious yogurt parfait and a breakfast shake at Solaro. We attempted visiting the pool, but we could feel our skin melting off as it was hellishly hot. Instead we decided to hit up The Shoppes between The Palazzo and The Venetian. We made reservations for dinner at Delmonico Steakhouse and a spa treatment at the Canyon Ranch Spa. I got the Deluxe Conditioning Body Scrub using the Mango Sugar Glo. Reiko got the Seventh Heaven body treatment. I think we were both really satisfied with what we got. I can also see us going to the spa more frequently. 🙂 After the spa, we had dinner at Emeril’s restaurant. My best friend Stoyan also works there, though he was in Jamaica at the time. We had a Sherry-based onion soup, the Kobe beef with arugula salad, and a side of asparagus. The steak and salad were amazing, the soup was weird and not at all what I expected, and the asparagus was mediocre at best. Because it was a red wine soup, it didn’t taste like the French Onion Soup I was expecting. I did eat most of it, but I would have preferred a good French Onion Soup. We gambled a bit more after dinner and called it a night.

We started our day off the same as we did Saturday morning, with a delicious yogurt parfait and a different breakfast shake at Solaro. We spent the morning gambling a bit, me primarily at the Craps tables and Reiko at the Black Jack tables. Neither of us were on, so we decided to head home. On our way home, we stopped in Primm at the outlet to see if they had anything good. I’m glad we stopped, as I’m now the proud owner of my very own chef’s apron. Reiko got a matching one as well, so now we look like professionals (ha!) when we’re in the kitchen.

Prior to this trip, I never really had any interest in gambling. I can now see the appeal and am looking forward to the next time Reiko and I can go back. Hopefully we get a chance to see one of the shows too.

The Last Frontier

For my brother’s birthday this year, I thought I’d pay him a visit in his new home up in Chugiak, Alaska. I arrived late Thursday night, but much to my surprise, it doesn’t really get dark there. It was something like 7 or 8pm in LA, kinda dark, but not middle of the night dark. It’s always great seeing my brother.

Friday we drove to Whittier. What’s cool about Whittier is that to get there, you have to drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the second longest highway tunnel (13,300ft/4,050m) and longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America. It’s only one lane, with railroad tracks down the center. How it works is the tunnel goes one way on the top of the hour; on the half the tunnel goes the other way. Sometimes throughout the day, the train runs as well. We had to wait on both sides before being able to go through, but I made a pretty cool video in the sped up fashion as we went through the tunnel. We stopped off on the side of the road to shoot some pictures of the glacial stream before heading home.

Saturday we were pretty lazy and played a new game, No More Heroes, I brought with me for the Wii most of the day. In the evening, we went over to Aaron’s friend Colin’s place for a barbecue. Some of Colin’s friends showed up with their kids as well, so we had a mini party. Around 10pm we could see Denali through the trees off Colin’s back deck, with a nice orange glow coming from the setting sun.

Since I had a late flight out of Anchorage, Adria, Aaron, and I decided to take a short trip to Hatcher Pass, an old mining town. Aaron thinks it’s where the MythBusters did their cabin fever test. I’m pretty sure he’s right. There was still snow covering the path leading up to the shacks from the parking lot, so we didn’t hike up there. It was very beautiful and serene though. On our way back, we stopped off to snap some shots of the stream running along the road. When we got there, we saw a gold miner packing up his stuff to go find a new spot.

So I realized 3 days wasn’t enough time to spend up there. After living in big cities for quite awhile, it’s almost overwhelming how scenic and open it is up there. I think my lungs really enjoyed a break from the shitty air I breathe in daily in LA. I hope the next time I go I can bring Reiko with me so she can see one of America’s last frontiers.

Tijuana

I went down to visit my friend Alberto for the Mother’s Day weekend. His parents live in Tijuana and I was invited to spend Mother’s Day with his family. This was very interesting to me as a typical Mexican Mother’s Day is quite a bit different than in the States. First off, Mexican Mother’s Day is on Saturday instead of Sunday. Alberto and I drove down to Tijuana in the morning to go with his family to brunch. Brunch seems to be a pretty popular thing in Tijuana as I think Alberto’s parents go to brunch every weekend. We had a rather large group, (me, Alberto, his brother, his brother’s wife, his parents, and his sister’s 2 daughters) so it took a little while to get seated. The food was good, but what made the meal interesting was the fact that Alberto’s mother spoke to me the whole time in Spanish while Alberto translated the things I didn’t understand.

Alberto’s parents live in the penthouse suite in gated community in a somewhat secluded area of Tijuana. It’s 3 stories with 5 balconies, the largest being more than double the size of 2 of the smaller ones. The architecture is a little different as the original owner was Iranian and the entire building is Iranian style, including naked murals on the walls, a circular glass tea room, and miscellaneous Iranian style furniture (the penthouse was purchased furnished). Taking advantage of the nice weather, a lot of time was spent on the big balcony overlooking the ocean.

In the late afternoon, I drove Alberto, his parents, and his 2 nieces (yes, my car was packed) to Rosarito to visit Alberto’s sister and brother-in-law. They own a photo store there. Alberto’s sister’s husband is from Bulgaria, so we had some nice conversations about Bulgaria. It was nice talking about old memories and some of the small details I had forgotten about Bulgaria. On our way back to Tijuana, we stopped at the grocery store in order to get supplies for dinner. I saw a luchador trying to promote a sports drink. That was funny to me.

Dinner was grilled carne asada and beans and rice and tons of other homemade foods. Needless to say it was delicious! In the evening we went to a club in town. It was a pretty sweet club, very modern. The walls had fiber optic lighting behind semi-transparent white curtains, so the club would glow depending on how the lights were set. They also release a few hundred balloon animal balloons and a few really large ones. This was fun for a couple minutes, then it just got annoying as the balloons were everywhere.

The drive home was an experience. The Tijuana border is a bit nuts with cars everywhere. If you leave even an inch of space between you and the car in front of you, someone will squeeze in there. There are also people walking in and out of the rows of cars selling random shit, including but not limited to dolls, clothing, statues, trinkets, food, drinks, espresso, benches, trading cards, and world maps. I wasn’t kidding when I said random shit. All in all it was a very nice trip and am looking forward to going back. Alberto’s mother told me I’m welcome anytime. At the end of my trip I was a little sad, only because I would have liked to spend Mother’s Day with my own mother. Miss you mom!

Moonlight Boarding

I arrived in Germany Friday, February 22, in the afternoon after one of the craziest things happened. On my way to check-in for my flight, I realized I left my passport at home. Awesome! So I first checked with one of the agents before attempting to haul ass home to get it. Being on the arrival level, there aren’t many taxis to choose from as most take off as soon as they drop off. I found a guy, quickly explained my emergency situation, and he said he would help. Nice! It turns out, the guy never went over the speed limit, had to stop to get some gas on the way to my house, and generally stayed in the middle of three lanes where there’s the most traffic. As my heart nearly beat out of my chest the entire time, I somehow managed to make my flight AND my luggage arrived on time.

So the first and last evenings were spent in Munich, though completely uneventful as I was tired both of those nights. The rest of the trip was spent in St Anton am Arlberg, Austria. The highlight of the trip was the moonlight skiing I did with a few mates. We left our flat about 11pm Sunday night, took a taxi to St Christoph (the next village over and part of the St Anton ski area), hiked an hour and a half up the mountain (about 500 vertical meters), hung out on top for about 45 minutes playing on and around the ski lift, then went down, all with only moonlight lighting the way. We got home around 2am, and it was well worth. Definitely one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life.

The rest of the week saw warmer and warmer weather, making for less than ideal conditions. There were many avalanches (mostly on the sides where no one goes) with one very close to where we were. I arrived at the scene just after it happened and a helicopter was just dropping off poles and dogs so that the ski patrol could start looking for people. We didn’t hear anything about anyone getting caught under the snow, but it was still close and very real. The rest of the week was spent boarding as much as the weather permitted, two trips to the sauna, and many trips to Platzl, our watering hole of choice in St Anton.

My trip home can only be described as hellish. I left to catch the train to the airport at about 6:30am. I caught my train and arrived at the airport about 7:30am, only to find out my flight to Amsterdam was canceled. They had already re-routed my by the time I got to the front of the line, Munich to Paris, Paris to New York, New York to Los Angeles. Just about the most undesirable itinerary possible, plus I was switched from Northwest to Air France/Delta (first indicator my bag would be delayed). I waited around in the Munich airport for an hour or so as my new flight was a little later. I was struggling with not passing out since I hadn’t had good sleep the previous two nights. When I arrived in Paris, I found out that my next flight was already boarded and they were just waiting for the few of us on the first flight to haul ass so the flight could leave. That was the second indicator my bag would be delayed. Luckily the Air France flight to New York came with personal TVs, unlike most US carriers. This only slightly eased the trouble that the day was turning out to be. After arriving in New York, I only wished the day was over because I was completely exhausted and had 0 desire to be on a plane. When I finally arrived in LA, my bag was of course nowhere to be found. Better yet, it wasn’t even in the system, so they had no idea where it was. After waiting a day, they still had no idea where it was. Finally they found it and it was delivered to me Tuesday morning, thankfully. My suitcase was badly damaged this journey, so I’ve already filled out all the paperwork for them to see if they will repair it (pretty much impossible, but I know they have to tell me that). Looking forward to getting a new bag of “comparable value”. We’ll see what the new bag I get is actually like as they don’t offer the same brand.

Hawai’i

Knowing how much my girlfriend loves Hawai’i and the fact that I have never been there, plus I’m heading off to Germany & Austria to go snowboarding, I decided it would be a nice Valentine’s Day surprise to take her to Waikiki for the long weekend. Needless to say, she loved the surprise and we had a great time together. I have to admit, making her happy really makes me happy. 🙂

As I was a Hawai’ian virgin, Reiko did her best to show me as much as possible, and I have to say she did an excellent job. We went swimming on the North Shore, saw Honu, both sun basking on the beach and swimming in the water, saw sea cucumbers that look like black turds, briefly went bodyboarding (a first for me), went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, where we saw a 3-foot long octopus and tons of colorful fish. We also went to Pearl Harbor, which I found to be a lot less interesting than I originally thought. In the museum, I did learn a lot about the events that occurred there, but the actual sunken battleship was difficult to see and rather uninteresting. I think one of my favorite things we did was visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation. First off, I love plants and there was no shortage of exotic plants here. I also learned a lot, such as the fact it takes 15-20 months for a pineapple to become ripe. Damn that’s a long time and I’m sure I’ll enjoy my pineapple all that much more the next time I eat one. The pineapple we had onsite was awesome, sweet and juicy, absolutely delicious.

As Reiko and I are addicted to massages, she insisted that we get a Lomi Lomi massage. The massage was good, but I guess I couldn’t tell the difference between a regular relaxation massage. I also think the place we went to was a little ghetto. The next time we go, I think I’ll do some research to try and find a better place.

On our final evening, we went to one of the beachside hotels to watch a traditional fire dancer and some hula dancers. It was really nice to relax and watch the show together.

All in all it was a great trip and I can’t wait to go back later this year. On our next trip, Reiko and I are planning to visit some of the other islands.

2007 Retrospect

So 2007 has come and gone. Looking back, 2007 has to be one of the more difficult years in my life. The first third of the year I spent sitting at home looking for a job. The second third I spent getting my new life in LA together. The last third of the year I spent mourning my mother, but also creating a new life with my new girlfriend. Of all the things that have happened in my life, losing my mother definitely trumps all the rest as the most profound event in my life.

I am really happy to have a new girlfriend as she’s really amazing. She has been key in helping me get through my recent tough times. I don’t know where I would be without her.

In late summer of last year I got back into salsa. I again made a switch in dancing styles, reverting back to on1, the style I originally learned when I first started dancing more than 3 years ago. I also trained hard for two months for a performance group I was in. We performed four times just before the holidays. There is video of the performances, however I have yet to receive the DVD containing the videos, so I’m unable to share with anyone who has interest. I burned out a little on salsa after my performance, only because I was dancing nearly every day, with the final stint equating to eleven straight days of practicing and performing. I have yet to fully get back into dancing regularly, but I know it’ll come.

Now that 2008 is here, I hope this year is a better year than last. So far the start of the year has been good with no complaints.

Mom

My mother unfortunately passed away last Wednesday. It was rather sudden and completely unexpected. She had been battling Leukemia for more than a year and a half, but had the heart and mind to fight it. She died from a brain hemorrhage as a result from taking medication for a headache. Although I am in no way happy she’s gone, I am glad that it was quick and she no longer has to suffer.

Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in life was having to watch her die. There are so many things I wish I could have done differently, so many things I wanted to say to her. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance, but I will continue to live my life as she would have wanted me to.

My mother was an amazing and proud woman. The things she did throughout her life to raise my brother and I are far greater than anything I could ever expect. I hope that I’m able to raise my children as great as she raised my brother and I. She sacrificed everything to give us the best life possible, but would never let us know how much she had to sacrifice. It’s something you never realize until after the fact. She presented life to us with choices, allowing both of us to choose what we liked and wanted, and never forced anything upon us.

So here’s to you mom, the greatest woman and mother any son could ever ask for!

PS-I got “MOM” and her birthdate tattooed on my left arm, closest to my heart. Although I like my other tattoos, this is the only tattoo I’m truly proud of.

My Mother

It is with great regret that I have to write under these circumstances, but I wanted the people close to me and my family to know that my mother passed away yesterday evening. Although I am not happy she passed away, I am glad that she no longer has to suffer.

There will be a funeral service tomorrow, Friday, October 26 at 1:15pm at Bet Shalom Congregation. Here is the address and contact number:

13613 Orchard Road
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Main Office: 952-933-8525

If you are able to make it, I know my mother would love it. If not, your kind thoughts and support are more than enough.

It is Jewish tradition to not have flowers as they die every year. It is acceptable for plants that keep on living, such as trees. If you would like to donate a tree in my mother’s honor, please visit the Jewish National Fund website (http://www.jnf.org/) and there is a big green button on the left side where you can have a tree planted in Israel in her honor. Her full name is Marsha Hermione Davidson. My mother also designated the American Diabetes Association and the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as funds you can make donations to.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me via email, my mobile phone (+1.310.647.7526), or postal at:
630 1st St #1
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

I would like to thank everyone for your support during these hard times.

Post Oktoberfest Depression

So first off, let me just say that I ripped off the title of my blog from my friend Brad. Thanks buddy!

I’ve been back just over 24 hours and all I can think about is being in Munich. Not only does Oktoberfest kick ass, but seeing all my friends and being able to spend time with them truly makes me happy. Every time I visit Munich since I’ve lived there, it just makes me want to move back. The quality of life is infinitely better than what the States has to offer. The friends I’ve made there are some of my closest friends in all the world.

Note the virgin White Russian in Martin's hand

Note the virgin White Russian in Martin

This time around I got to see a lot of friends I don’t normally get to see when I visit you Munich. That was a definite added bonus. I was especially happy to see Michelle, whom I haven’t seen since before I moved back to the States since she went back to Taiwan (more than two years ago). I also had the pleasure of meeting her baby boy Martin. Such a cute and cool kid. Fun to play with and very smart for only being 15 months old. We taught him how to cheers, and shortly thereafter he wanted to clank glasses every time he took a drink of his virgin White Russian.

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