Monday, September 29, 2008

Ike Distraction

Yes, the I-word has been brought up once again. After Ike hit, I was glued to the computer, trying to catch any news of the area near my house. My parents finally forced me out of the house and out to take pictures. We chose the Missouri Botanical Garden for our distraction.

Niki, the exhibition of Niki's work was still there and so we took the time to explore the parts we missed before. The photography adventure was capped off by sandwiches from an old favorite: Amighetti's. Yum!

Here are some highlights, but don't forget to check the others out!


Moon - without telescope

Niki Skull

Butterfly Close-Up

Purple Lilies Up Close

MBG was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farmer's Market

Today's blog was going to showcase photos taken at a recent trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden, but I'm saving that for tomorrow.

I have to blog about my experience this morning at the farmer's market in downtown Salt Lake City. Located just a block away, I was not prepared for the magnitude of market. The market is located in Pioneer Park which is a sizeable park in itself, but the farmer's market takes over at least two thirds of the park. No kidding. There's delicious looking fruits and vegetables, breads, honeys but also such things as hormone-free beef, fish, and of course, handmade crafts.

There's a whole section dedicated to arts-and-crafts alone, and I, always a fan of gorgeous necklaces, was certainly hoping to find one that struck my fancy. And I was definitely in luck, there was a designer in the corner who just had stunning jewelry that was right up my alley. I'll take some pictures of the ones I decide to keep and post them at a later date. Not only were her necklaces (and other jewelry) beautiful in their simplicity and design choice, she was also reasonably priced. I walked away with more than I had planned to buy, but they'll all get worn, no doubt. The ones I don't give away for gifts, that is. She was so lovely, and I hope to continue to buy from her, even from afar.

But back to the food market part of the tale: there were farms from all over the area who came to sell their wares. Watermelons, pumpkins, squashes, more tomatoes than I've ever seen, zucchinis and cucumbers and flats and flats of gorgeous raspberries and blackberries.

In addition, there were a few restaurants who came to sell a quick bite to eat and plenty of stations selling libations. I ended up getting a delicious, freshly made strawberry limeade and ended up having a lovely chat with the proprietor who was amused that he went to culinary school and now makes ice creams and limeades.

It is people like him and the lovely jewelry designer that made this morning's adventure truly enjoyable.

My haul for the morning? More peaches than I know what to do with, a few Barlett pears, raspberries, purple & yellow bell peppers, a bag of delicious kettle corn and a delicious cantaloupe. Oh yeah, and the necklaces but they don't really count since they're not consumable - just wearable.

As luck would have it, the farmer's market lasts just as long as I'm here, it ends its limited run during my last Saturday. If you're a reader and you're in Salt Lake City, go visit the downtown farmer's market Saturday from 8am to 1pm. But make sure and go early, the good stuff apparently goes quick!

Next time, I'll take pictures first and shop later. That means I have to get going early next weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gotcha Day

Today is the day that my family terms my "Gotcha Day". It's the anniversary of my arrival in the United States and into their family.

For those who don't know me personally, I was adopted from South Korea when I was 4 months old to a family in St. Louis, Missouri. While my birthparents provided my DNA, my adoptive parents essentially made me, me.

So today, I thank my birthparents for giving birth to me and for my adoptive parents for raising me.

Usually this is celebrated with my family by them decorating my room various ways over the years and going to a Korean restaurant. We accomplished the traditional meal earlier this week because I was actually home with them. Being in a different time zone, no room decoration happened.

I wouldn't be here today without any of them. Or doing what I do.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

East Coast Adventure, Part 3B: National Zoo/Pandas

I love pandas. I can't explain it. I don't think it has to do with my heritage, because that's the wrong country. They're just incredibly adorable creatures and the fact that not every zoo has them is quite appealing. They just look so cuddly, especially when they're younger.

So when I made my plans for my East Coast Adventure, I knew I had to make plans to go see the pandas. My hosts weren't too keen on pandas, so I was planning on going with a friend/colleague who had moved out to the DC area. However, our trip did not work out as planned - an unforeseen mishap caused a detour in our plans - and I did not go. Therefore, the following day, I was quite determined to make a visit and see the pandas I so desperately wanted to see.

That determination made for a very interesting morning and I learned that persistence does pay off, even if it sucks getting there. Apparently, pandas are early risers. They'd already been up and were back asleep by the time I got there. There were two gals there who are apparently the BIGGEST fans of the baby panda, and they were just as determined as I was to see Tai Shan up and awake. They definitely made for interesting company.

We amused ourselves by pointing out a slumbering Tai Shan who was asleep on a grate so close to the wall that you could barely see him to passersby. It was really great to see the excitement on faces both old and young.

After several hours, Tai Shan rewarded our patience by getting up, meandering over to a limb, posing for some pictures and just being his cute panda self. After a little while, it was time for him to go to the indoors part of his home/exhibit while the keepers put out new tasty bamboo delights and other things in the main area.

This was well worth it because he was up close and personal, save for the sometimes dirty glass. But he really doesn't mind the audience when he's chowing down bamboo at a great rate. He also has this great ball (not unlike one that we have for our dogs) that dispenses treats when rolled around through various holes.

I spent a good amount of time taking many many pictures of this not-so-tiny panda bear. He looks almost full grown by himself, but I'm sure if I saw him next to his mom or dad, then I'd think otherwise. The mom was hiding the entire time, getting over a psuedopregnancy and dad was entertaining us by either being passed out in his grotto up front or passed out in his bamboo in the back.

I took tons of pictures (several hundreds) while I managed to whittle down to a respectable 94. I posted about a third of that to flickr which I hope you'll take a look at. All but two of them are of Tia Shan.

Here are some of my favorites:

Tian Tian passed out after consuming too much bamboo

Tian Tian - Passed Out From All The Food

Tai Shan after getting up from his nap

Strolling Panda

Close-up on Tai Shan

Looking At Me

Making a Face


Believe it or not, I think I'm all caught up on those pictures. Now I need to catch up on several other posts... especially before I start work next week! Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

East Coast Adventure, Part 3: Washington, DC & Surrounding Areas

What was originally going to be three posts will now be two. One, because I'm so completely behind that I'm never going to catch up at this rate. Two, because I'm just not feeling wordy these days. Despite two posts to the contrary.

I shan't write about Ike for awhile, just because it'll be more of the same. I still don't have power... surprise surprise. I must wait for news from afar.

So without further adieu, let the severely behind recap continue:

Though my trip began with a uber-brief stop in DC, the second weekend of my trip was spent in DC with best friend, LK and her roommate, JB. And JB's dog, Tucker.


Isn't he a cutie? He's such an enthusiastic, funny dog. I do miss him already. I'm not used to a large dog, but Tucker quickly made himself quite at home in my lap. Mind you, he's just a little too big to be a lap dog. But we still love him anyway. He was the source of great amusement throughout my time there.

Some of my ventures out of the house included obligatory visits to the monuments. I mean, hey, when in DC, you visit the monuments. JB and I went during a sweltering hot day, and LK, Tucker and I visited them several days later at night. The monuments themselves are quite stunning and beautiful, both lit naturally and artificially.

I'm only including a few below, please visit my flickr page to view them all. And since flickr's being obnoxious about uploading, they're not really in any sort of order.

Lincoln Memorial

States - WWII Memorial

WWII at Night

Capitol building at Night

I had a great time both with them and with other friends in town. My time there was both busy and relaxing, and yet it also felt too short. I didn't get to see one friend, and I would've liked to have spent more time with others, but that just means I have to come back and visit again soon. Or if JB, LK and others have their way... move there. Time will only tell.

Next up: A visit to the National Zoo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

In no particular order:

Thanks to Ike...

- My best-laid plans were shot to hell. But at least I didn't go before it hit (which I was planning to). Camping out sans power in Houston summer does not especially appeal; nor the 6-8 hours of howling winds and ensuing inconveniences.

- I have no more freezer food. I actually no longer remember the contents of my freezer, so I don't know yet what I've lost. But I will. Possibly some refrigerator contents as well, depending on the state of things.

- I did not get to go back before my next gig. Therefore, I have all summer-like clothes with me. All my fall/winter-like clothes are in Houston... as well as any coats that would be appropriate. Oh well.

- I still don't have power, which caused me not to be able to go home. Since I'm not there to use the internet/tv, I'm not crying rivers. I would have liked to have not lost any food however.

- Many of my friends were greatly inconvenienced by being included in the 1.2 million without power, the countless without water pressure, and fighting the masses for something as simple as gasoline for their cars or drinking water that doesn't have to be boiled.

- I have to ask favors of friends/family so my apartment isn't a cesspit when I return and I don't piss off the USPS too much.

- I will have to continue guessing at some of my apartment-controlled utility payments and pay rent from afar. Something that just thrills me and my management company.

- By the time I see my apartment again, six months will have passed. I should have just moved into a storage unit. This is ridiculous.

- My apartment complex continues to not answer their phone, further endearing themselves to me after their actions this summer.

- I never got to see the Kemah Boardwalk - and it might be a very long time before I do.

On the upshot:

- My apartment is preliminarily fine. No broken windows, but no telling the water damage from the not-so-weathertight door. Or the decomposing food in my freezer. Sorry, CC, and thank you.

- I got to catch up with a good friend who is doing me a big favor. She was the one who reported to me on the state of my apartment, since no one related with the complex did.

- I get to hang out with my dogs and my family for just a little longer and enjoy an early arrival of fall in St. Louis.

- I now get to vote in the next election 'in-person' (albeit early) and therefore do not have to jump through the multiple hoops required for an absentee ballot.

- I get to drive to my November gig, which allows me greater flexibility, less hassle and chances to visit B-town and Chi-town if I should so desire.


The greatest irony of Ike, despite the personal inconveniences and curveballs to plans, is that a majority of the deaths attributed to said storm occurred outside Houston, or even the state of Texas. Two or three of them occurred not very far from my house in St. Louis. Apparently, I just couldn't escape Ike.

Ike may have been just a Cat 2 storm, but it sure packed a wallop due to its size and its slow-moving action. I suspect there would have been a lot less destruction and mayhem even if it had been a higher category storm. But I'm no meteorologist.

By the time I make it back, most of the physical signs of the Hurricane's impact in my neck of the woods will be gone. But the memories of my friends, and my own from afar, will linger. It is always an eerie feeling to see the places and paths you frequent on the news: damaged, underwater or otherwise. I'd like not to repeat that experience again.

I'm lucky to have survived Ike, albeit in a different way than my friends who were physically present in Houston. And I'd really like it if no more hurricanes came near that region during the remainder of the hurricane season. We were lucky enough to have misses last year with Edward (or whatever it was), and this year with Gustav. Now that we've had our version of Katrina, can we just be left along to lick our wounds in peace? I look forward to revisiting a revitalized Galveston.

Up next: A return to the East Coast Adventure Recaps, and more. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up sooner rather than later, with all this unexpected free time here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming of the East Coast Adventure Recap to bring you thoughts on Ike.

Most hurricanes have not given me much pause except to feel badly for those affected by it. Houston, the place where I technically call home, (i.e. the place where a majority of my belongings reside), is now the bullseye target of Hurricane Ike.

I'm not there right now, which is both a good thing and a bad thing, really.

Good in that I don't have to scramble to find gas before the stations run out or the price is gouged so unreasonably.

Good in that I don't have to fight for a gallon of water, or batteries or non-perishable food items.

Good in that I don't have to suffer a power outage for goodness knows how long and live in the uncertainty of knowing the latest status on the impending storm.

Good in that my apartment is on the 2nd floor and is towards the rear (north?) end of the complex). Also blocked by several buildings in terms of wind gusts. That might be bad, too.

Good in that my car is here with me and not subject to possible flooding in our parking lot (it does that minorly when it just plain rains)

Good in that my area of Houston and the areas that my friends/family/colleagues live in are NOT in the mandatory evac orders for Harris County.

However, it's not all good.

Bad in that I haven't been able to get ahold of anyone in my apartment complex leasing office to find out if they think we're in any danger of flooding (we're near Buffalo Bayou) and/or if they're boarding up at all.

Bad in that I have a large front window.

Bad in that I have no idea really what's going on anywhere near my apartment because a) I don't always believe the media and b) no one is really paying attention. So I'm really quite clueless. And none of my friends live really close to me nor would I ask them to go check for me.

And most pictures I see of businesses near me are all boarded up... don't know what that means exactly except they might want to prevent against looters.

And let me tell you, it's weird to recognize places that I frequent in the videos and pictures. Empty shelves at my Krogers. My Exxon station all out of gas. Stores near me all boarded up.

Bad in that I really don't know if I'll be able to get home before my next contract. I have everything I need for it, but I haven't seen my apartment in awhile and I really need to.

Bad in that there's a lot of unknowns and I worry by nature (hence why I do what I do for my job).

So all I can do is wait and see... and hope that it gives my friends and me a miss and that I can come home sometime next week.

I'm glad I went to Galveston several times last year, and I'm sorry I didn't get to see the Kemah Boardwalk. May those areas/structures be spared as much as possible from devastation.

Here's another funny thing about me and Ike. After it makes landfall and dumps a lot of rain on Houston, it gets directed straight here via an obliging jetstream. Yeah, the tracker puts it straight over St. Louis. As if we need more rain here (they're already 16" or so past normal rainfall for the year.

I just can't escape it, can I?

Note: there might be another follow-up post before I resume the East Coast Adventure Recaps. There's at least two, if not three, blog entries left to cover the DC portion of my trip.

Stay tuned and think good thoughts for my friends and colleagues who are "hunkering down" and waiting out the storm in place.

Monday, September 8, 2008

East Coast Adventure, Part 2B: New England Aquarium

During my last full day in Boston, my tired feet protested any major walking adventure, so I had to pick something light. I chose to spend the afternoon at the slightly pricey, but thrilling, New England Aquarium.

I got to see tons and tons of fishes and other aquatic life, both large (HUGE sharks and turles) and small (microscopic, even) and even got to pet a friendly shark and stingray.

Despite the millions of unruly kids running around, and the not always easy task of shooting something through highly reflective glass in low light, I had a lot of fun.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from the afternoon:


Big Turtle

Orange Jellyfish

Next up: Washington, DC.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

East Coast Adventure, Part 2: Boston

Note: due to many circumstances, I'm horridly behind on my blogging - I'll catch up soon, I promise! Some of it has to do with actually combing through the tons of pictures I took during my trip!

Monday morning, as my host headed off to her job, I headed off to Boston via Bolt Bus. The trip was very uneventful and very economical, as I had snagged myself one of the fabled "Bolt for a Buck" dollar fares. Though not quite on time, I arrived in Boston none the worse for wear.

Due to circumstances out of our control, this turned out to be a really crazy week for my host. Thankfully, he was able to set me up with a place to crash (and eventually a place for his stuff to crash while he played the moving game) and handed me a Charlie card to get me from once place to another.

Let me say this, I love the MTA - it is really well laid out (at least for the things that I wanted to do; I have no idea if its well-suited to actual residents) and it always seemed to arrive in a timely fashion. It was clean and though often crowded, not stifling.

Skyline from Mass Ave Bridge

I had almost a week in Boston since I was supposed to hop up to Providence to visit a mutual friend of my host, but due to work scheduling conflicts, that unfortunately did not pan out.

I certainly kept myself busy and nearly walked my feet off. I did however get some time in with my host and his friends, a college roommate of mine and some time in with local and national history.

One day I decided to trek the famous Freedom Trail. It ranges from historic buildings and truly ancient burial grounds where famous people now reside. It's long, not always well-marked, but it was worth the trip to the past.

Granary Burying Ground

I also came across perhaps the best "no littering" sign ever:

Best No Litter Sign Ever

Brilliant, isn't it?

Two more highlights from the trip:

The Best Breakfast Ever
Fried Matzo... I have never seen this on any menu in my life. If you're ever in Boston, check out Zaftig's deli... I promise you'll enjoy it.

Best Breakfast Ever

Make Way For Ducklings

I grew up reading this book with my mom, so I had to go visit, and take pictures of it. Unfortunately, due to popularity and tons of kids who never wanted to leave, I had to wait a long while to take the shots. It was well-worth the wait and my tired feet and legs thanked me for the respite.

Make Way For Ducklings

Check out my flickr photostream for more pictures. Boston actually has a Part 2b, as my last day found me visiting the New England Acquarium which is a whole blog post in its own.

Still to come: Boston 2b, DC, parts 1 and 2? and something new acquired.