Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm Gonna Swim To The Ocean Floor . . .

Day five in Hawaii and the dolphins came out to play!   We have now successfully seen sea turtles and dolphins!  This picture was taken from the back lanai of the condo we rented.  Two separate pods of dolphins were out jumping and playing as the kayakers paddled by.

Today was a big day for Wendy and I as we had reservations to go parasailing!  On Sunday we had purchased motion sickness bracelets at the ABC Store in hopes of guaranteeing a great time on the water.   

We arrived at the offices of the parasailing company where we had to read a two page list of instructions on how to parasail.  The instructions began to stress me out.  There was so much to think about, "keep your legs bent, place your butt down on the flight deck, in case of a water landing unclip the carabeener and swim away from the parachute, hold your hands above the bar when landing on the flight deck"...and on and on and on.  Then it was time to sign our life away on the waiver of liability.  Real comforting.

Our boat was to depart at 11am and there was a family of four who were going to be on the trip with us.  We headed out to the open water and it was time to start taking turns flying up to the sky.  I chose to go up 800 feet and Wendy chose to go up 1200 feet.  Wendy also opted for a "Dip" which meant the operator would let Wendy's feet touch the water before bringing her in for a landing.  The picture below is actually of the father and daughter who were on the boat with us.  (The pictures of Wendy and I are still being developed.  If they turn out I will post them later.)

Parasailing was so much fun.  The boat ride was a bit choppy and the little boy who was on the boat with us got scared and opted not to go up.  The amazing thing is that as choppy as the boat ride was, the time that you are up in the air is incredibly smooth.  It really feels like you are floating in air.  Even the landing felt like you simply float back down to the boat.  If you ever get a chance to parasail please do it!

After parasailing we were off to lunch at the Kona Brewing Co.   This restaurant was recommended to us by the parasailing boat operators.  It was here that I spied the beautiful green, orange, and blue gecko.

After lunch we headed up route 11 to find the Kona Joe coffee plantation.  At the coffee plantation we learned all about Joe's patented system for growing the coffee trees into vines just like grapes which maximizes the flavor of the bean and increases the amount of beans each tree will yield.

Ok, so this tour was not free like the Mauna Loa nut factory or the Big Island Candies factory, but we did get a cup of coffee, a shell lei, a sample of chocolate covered coffee beans, and a coffee mug.  Not bad for the fifteen dollar price tag.   

Most importantly we also got to meet Kona Joe himself who took control of the gift shop when one of the workers had to lead a tour.  

The Song Of The Day - Fly by Sugar Ray

First Kiss. . .

Day Four in Hawaii was wedding day.  

It had been a pretty gloomy day with scattered showers but the skies dried up just in time for the outdoor ceremony!

After Erin and Sean exchanged vows it was time to head up to the Crystal Blue Terrace for the reception.

Just about then the sun broke through the clouds sending a ray of light out on the water.  The heaven's seal of approval!

And then it was time for Erin and I to cut a rug!

The Song Of The Day - A Groovy Kind Of Love by Phil Collins

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On The Road Again (Part 2). . .

...And so we continued on our journey down route 11 in search of volcanoes, nuts, and chocolate oh my.  But at this point we had been on our journey for far longer than we thought it would have taken.  

We skipped the turn off for the Volcano National Park...because really we had been driving so long we were concerned the Nut and Candy factories might be closed by the time we got there.

Finally we arrived at the Mauna Loa factory.  And as the brochure stated, "enjoy three miles of beautiful macadamia nut trees as you drive the long narrow road to get to the factory."  Yeah OK...where are the free nuts?  (See three miles of nut trees below...not as grand as it sounded in the brochure.)

It seemed kinda odd that there were not a lot of cars driving on the three mile road of nuts with us.  And it would soon become clear why.  You see apparently this is not "Nut Season" and the factory was not in production.  Even the outside botanical garden walking tour was shut down.  No joke.  The "Tour" that the cashier told us we could go on was to walk up to the darkened building and look through the windows of a production line that was not running.  Are you kidding?  OR we could go sit outside next to the closed botanical garden and watch a video of what the factory looks like in full swing.  

Let's just say...major let down.  You better believe I went back to that sample cup of nuts at least three times.

By this point we were now back in the car in search of the Big Island Candy Company.  We were both tired and not as talkative as we were at the beginning of our journey.  After getting lost in downtown Hilo we pulled off the road and regrouped.  We were gonna find this candy place if it killed us.  We got our bearings and off we went eventually finding the intended destination.  Check out my "Oh I am so happy and over this day" face above.

But things were looking up!  This place actually had candy in production.  We were greeted with a sample of rocky road and chocolate chip shortbread cookies.  I was then directed to the counter at the right to get my free coffee!   Tears of joy were forming in my eyes as I sipped my coffee and realized there were samples EVERYWHERE!  This was my kind of tour.  I barely even looked at the ladies behind the glass wall making candy...I mean how could I?  I was too busy trying to knock that other guy out of the way so that I could get a piece of the chocolate and caramel covered shortbread cookie.  This was heaven!

And then it was off to the mall across the street to grab a bite to eat.  Wendy was totally displeased when I told her that all I wanted right now was some good old crappy food court food.  After this day I needed some comfort food...and ARBY's was it!  She didn't put up too much of a fight because I think she knew I was done for the day and we still needed to make the long drive back to the other side of the island.

On the drive home we made one more stop.  There was a little farm on the side of the road with a few animals out grazing.   Look how good they posed for pictures!   

The Song Of The Day - Miles Away by Madonna

On The Road Again. . .

It's day three in Hawaii and Wendy and I decided to hit the road.  We planned to travel along route 11 from the Kona Coast to the Hilo side of the island.  We were told this would take between two and three hours.  It took us about five hours because we made several stops along the way.

Here was our intended itinerary:  

1.  Find the bakery that is known as "The Southern Most Bakery In The United States."  
2.  Find the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.  
3.  Find the Big Island Candy Company.  
4.  If time permitted, try and see the lava flow.

We hadn't been driving for more than twenty minutes when we saw a sign that said "Donkey Balls."  We both wondered what that meant.  About ten minutes later we see another sign for "Donkey Balls" so this time we decided to stop and check it out.

It turns out that "Donkey Balls" are LARGE Ghiradelli Chocolate 
covered macadamia nuts.  We bought a sack full and continued on our journey.

About an hour later we happened upon the first item on our list, the Punalu'u Bake Shop which is known as "The Southernmost Bakery in the USA."  Here we sampled Malasadas which are a 
traditional yellow sugared donut.

As we continued on our journey we came to the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach.  What a beautiful place!  Please note my lovely sun burnt feet with flip flop tan lines.  That's hot!

To Be Continued. . .

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Only You. . .

So here is the reason I am in Hawaii.  It's for my friends Erin and Sean's wedding.  Last night there was a Luau put on by the resort they are staying at.

Prior to the luau, Erin and Sean hosted a "Welcome To The Island" get together in their suite.

That is when we snapped this lovely picture of Erin, Wendy and I.  We all worked together at The Gap in Santa Barbara.

Two years ago Erin and I both made the big move from Southern California to Northern California.  Erin took a job at a winery and soon met Sean who is responsible for the irrigation of the vineyard.  So the next time you are enjoying a glass of wine, stop to think about the grapes that went into making that wine and then raise your glass to Sean as a thank you for helping to make it happen. 

Here is a picture of my plate of food.  And yes, I ate the poi!  I would also like to give a shout out to the pork and cabbage...well mainly just the pork.  Yum.

After dinner it was time for the festivities to begin!   Dancers came out to perform the story of the Islands.  It was a great show and Wendy and I even were pulled up on stage to learn and then perform our mad hula skills!

The Song Of The Day - Only You (Imogen Heap Mix) by Joshua Radin

Friday, June 27, 2008

All Good Things. . .

Well my friends...Wendy and I set out on day two to find food and adventure.  After breakfast at Lava Java we went walking in down town Kona.  

It was here that we came upon some sea turtles!

After taking lots and lots of pictures we needed to celebrate with some Hawaiian shaved ice!

Yum yum!

The Song Of The Day - Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice

It's A Beautiful Day. . .

Aloha!  Just wanted to post a few pictures of the view from our back lanai. Apparently you can see 10 miles of the Kona coast.

I am also told that dolphins and sea turtles come to play within view.  Hopefully we will see some today.

The Song Of The Day - Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow

Don't Turn Around. . .

So today I left on my trip to Hawaii.  My flight was at 8:56 am out of SFO on United.  I had a grand master plan of parking at my company's office in San Bruno and then taking a cab over to the airport.  The office is only about five minutes away from the airport.

Everything was going well until I got inside the terminal and discovered a line that snaked back and forth across its entire length just to print out boarding passes and check in bags.

It was true chaos.  Customers were yelling at the United employees.  The United employees were yelling at customers.  People were cutting in line.  It became very clear that I was at great risk of missing my flight.  

After spending about thirty minutes in the never ending line I realized that no one was directing customers to the open kiosks to check themselves in.  As I stood two rows deep from the check in area I watched for five minutes as no one used three of the check in kiosks.  It was now or never.  If I wanted to make my flight I was going to have to take matters into my own hands and cut under the stanchions and check myself in on one of the open kiosks.  I cut under two sets of ropes and checked myself in with about five minutes to spare before the checked bag cut off.  When my boarding pass printed it said the plane was already boarding!  

I ran to the security check point and was able to quickly move through that line and then I darted down the corridor to the gate.  I made it!

When we landed in Kona, HI it was very hot and humid.  The sky was overcast.  I soon learned that the Islanders call this "Vog" or Volcanic Fog.  The active volcano on the island has been erupting lately and has apparently caused a constant "Vog" weather pattern that the natives are not to keen on.

At the Kona International Airport, which is really a bunch of hut like structures built on top of volcanic rock, we were greeted by native Hawaiians singing and doing the hula.

I was then off to pick up the rental car and find the condo I had rented for the week.

As I drove down the two lane road in search of the condo I noticed that the car in front of me had a license plate that was meant for me to see.

I took this as a good sign!

I eventually found the condo, was able to get myself into the gated community and find the marked parking spot assigned to the condo I was renting.  Just one problem...there was a car already parked in that space.

Hmmm, I had begun to get a little concerned about my great condo deal a few days earlier when I had emailed the condo owner to ask if there was an ironing board and iron in the condo.  When he replied back to me he asked if I could send him back a copy of my receipt because his computer had crashed and he had lost the records for his rentals.  I now was even more concerned as I stepped out of the car and could see that unit 179 was unlocked, had towels on the patio chairs, and wine bottles on the table.  

I walked toward the patio to see if I could see anyone to talk to.  After a few minutes an older gentleman came walking toward me and said "Can I help you?"

I said, "I think I am supposed to be renting this unit."  

He replied, "Are you Jon?"

I said, "Yes."

He said, "Well, I told you about my computer problems and there was a little mix up.  I am actually going to have you stay in another unit about three doors down.  Follow me I will show you where it is..."

And so my Hawaiian adventure begins.

The Song Of The Day -  Believe by Cher

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On Monday I Eat Manacatti. . .

Last month I told you about Asian American Heritage Month.  This month is LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Pride month.

In order to celebrate they asked employees to create mixes of songs to be played in the cafes at lunch. Needless to say there was a lot of dance music to be heard.

But what I really wanted to show you was the "Special" menu that was created for the week. I have copied it in its entirety here for your pleasure.

Please note my favorite, the "L" word lasagna.

They also put a picture of Jake Gyllenhall from Brokeback Mountain on the soda machine with a thought bubble that said, "I just can't quit you."   That's funny!

Here's the menu:

Barney Frank
Niman Ranch Hot Dog with Condiment Bar and Potato Salad

LGBT Burger
Niman Ranch Beef Burger with Lettuce, Gruyere, Bacon
and Tomato with Gurly Fries

Organic Tofu Steak, Piri Piri Sauce and Two Sides

Niman Ranch Beef, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Onion
on Sesame Seed Bun, Chips or Salad

Niman Ranch Beef, Choice of Cheese, Leaf Lettuce,
Tomato, Onion on Sesame Seed Bun, Chips or Salad

Turkey Burger
Seasoned Turkey, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Onion
on Whole Wheat Bun, Chips or Salad

Veggie Burger
Vegetable Patty, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Onion
on Whole Wheat Bun, Chips or Salad

Hot Dog
All Beef Hot Dog with Chips or Salad

Chicken Sandwich
Grilled Chicken Breast, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Onion
on Whole Wheat Bun, Chips or Salad

Castro Calzone
Italian Sausage, Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

Monday through Thursday
The “L” Word
Fresh Spinach Lasagna with Mushrooms
and Roasted Summer Vegetables with Side Salad

Tossed Salad Greens, Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion,
Green Pepper, Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olives

Udon Noodle
Udon Noodles, Soy Marinated Chicken, Cucumber,
Carrot, Cilantro, Peanuts and Sesame Vinaigrette

BBQ Chicken
Romaine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Black Beans, Tomatoes,
Corn, Jack Cheese, Tortilla Strips and Housemade Ranch

Romaine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Bleu Cheese, Tomato,
Bacon, Egg, Avocado and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Romaine, Parmesan Cheese, Croutons and Caesar Dressing

Oscar Wilde Mushroom Quesadilla
Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese in a Fresh Herb Quesadilla,
Mesclun Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing

Turkey Melt
Zoe’s Roast Turkey Breast, Choice of Cheese
and Choice of Breads

Tuna Melt
Housemade Tuna Salad, Choice of Cheese
and Choice of Breads

Grilled Cheese
Choice of Cheeses and Choice of Breads

Ham and Cheese
Zoe’s Black Forest Ham, Choice of Cheese
and Choice of Breads

Chicken Quesadilla
Shredded Seasoned Chicken, Cheese
and Choice of Flour or Whole Wheat Tortilla

Veggie Quesadilla
Sautéed Vegetables, Cheese
and Choice of Flour or Whole Wheat Tortilla

Cheese Quesadilla
Cheese and Choice of Flour or Whole Wheat Tortilla

Zoe’s Roasted Turkey Breast, Choice of Toppings
and Choice of Breads

Zoe’s Black Forest Ham, Choice of Toppings
and Choice of Breads

Tuna Salad
Housemade Tuna Salad, Choice of Toppings
and Choice of Breads

Egg Salad
Housemade Egg Salad, Choice of Toppings
and Choice of Breads

Chicken Salad
Housemade Chicken Salad, Choice of Toppings
and Choice of Breads

Cucumber, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, Sprouts, Red Onion
on Choice of Breads

Chilled Central Valley Baby Red Potatoes
with Herbed Yogurt Dressing

Dinuba White Corn on the Cob with Sultan Farms Green Beans
and Pear Cherry Tomatoes

French Fries - Garlic Fries - Macaroni & Cheese
White or Brown Rice - Baked Potato - Soup of the Day

KIKKA Sushi - Fruit Cups - Vegetable Cups
Protein Cups - Hard Boiled Eggs - String Cheese
Cottage Cheese - Yogurt - Juices - Soft Drinks

The Song Of The Day - Mele Kalikimaka by Wille K

And to my devoted readers...all three of you =), I am off to Hawaii in the morning!   Blog to you soon! 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Uh Ooh. . .

O M G it was H O T the past two days in the City!  

Swear to God it has been over 80 degrees for two days and this town is not prepared for that.  

Apartments don't have air conditioning and public transit is not a pleasant experience as the temperature rises.

Sure Friday was a "Spare The Air" day where all public transit is free.  But do we really want more riders crowding on the buses when everyone is all sweaty and gross?

Last night I thought I would try and cool down by opening all the windows in my apartment but the still air outside brought no relief for the misery.

Having grown up in the San Fernando Valley I have all but lost any ability to tolerate temps above 75.  Sad I know, but there was a reason I chose to live in a beach community for most of my adult life.

I don't like being hot.  I would rather be cold.  When you are cold you can at least put on a jacket.  When you are hot, there isn't much you can do.

So after a long day at work on Friday, an even longer ride home on the cramped hot bus, I was greeted by the note shown here in my apartment building's lobby. (Click On Image To Enlarge)

It says that the elevator was stuck on the 5th floor and that I would have to walk up the six flights of stairs to get to my apartment.  Not exactly how I wanted to be greeted as I arrived home.

Maybe this was a sign from God that tubby here needed a little bit of exercise!  

At least by Saturday evening the heat had broken and it was cooler in the City!

*At the suggestion of one of my blog readers I will be attempting to make "The Song Of The Day" a link to the iTunes Store.  That way you can hear clips of this music and also purchase the song if you so desire.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Its Time To Get Your Fash-On...

This is the Lounge Pant.  It retails for $19.50.  It comes in three fashion colors year round.   Heather Gray, Blue Galaxy, and Black.  I like to call the Lounge nemesis.

For a year I was responsible for the Lounge Pant.   Weekly I was on a conference call with India and Sri Lanka to discuss the Lounge Pant.  

Why is the factory short shipping our orders?  Why is our sales forecast allegedly not lining up to the quantity we are ordering? Why did the vendor order the wrong fabric color? Why does the average store have 40 pairs of this item in blue and only 12 in gray when gray sells more?  Why didn't the store put this item out on the sales floor?  Why after why after why after why...every week.

One of my co-workers refers to the Lounge Pant as "Loungy."  "Oh, poor Loungy," she would say.  And I under my breath could be heard saying, "Stupid Lounge Pant!"

But the Lounge Pant, through all its trials and tribulations actually sells...and continues to sell and sell and sell.  Which then brings up an on going debate.  Who actually buys this thing? Apparently, when this question was recently asked during a meeting every person male and female raised their hand and said that they owned a pair.

And here's the deal, it's an ugly pant.  It's boxey.  It doesn't lay well on the body. It has a back pocket that really serves no function.  The draw strings look goofy.  It runs long.  It's basically a glorified sweat pant.  

But I kid you not when I say as much as I hate this pant, it is the softest brushed cotton hand touch and feel that you will ever put on your body.  On a cold winter day when you just want to curl up on the couch and watch TV, it is the first thing I think about putting on.

And as we continued to debate who buys this pant and what it's end use is.  We all agreed that you would never ever be caught dead wearing this pant outside of your home!

And that brings me to why I am telling this story.  

On Sunday I was walking down Chestnut Street in the Marina.  Yes, the MARINA, home of the Marina Girls, The Singles Safeway, Sorority/Fraternity Row, all of the above.  

I had just stopped at the ATM when out of the corner of my eye I saw it.  There was a man, in broad day light, on Chestnut Street, in the Marina, wearing the Lounge Pant, in public.  I felt the embarrassment for him.  

We had all agreed that the only public activities the Lounge Pant would be acceptable for are:

1.  Going to the mailbox
2.  Running into a convenience store for milk
3.  Returning a movie rental
4.  Quickly starting a load of laundry at the laundry mat

This man was not engaging in any of these activities.  

Remember, if you choose to wear the Lounge Pant; it is for indoor activities only.  Do not do a P.D.L.P.  (Public Display of Lounge Pant)

The Song Of The Day - Disturbia by Rihanna

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bouncing Off Of Clouds...

It's June in San Francisco and what does that mean?  The FOG is back in town!

Yes, despite the fact that several days this week the temperature reached the high seventies low eighties, by the evening we were blanketed by fog.

It really is an amazing thing to watch the fog roll in over the Golden Gate Bridge.  This picture does not do it justice.  It looks like a washing machine over flowing with the "suds" creeping over the bridge then crawling across the bay towards Alcatraz island and beyond.

And with the onset of the fog comes the deep bellowing sound of the fog horn.


Every fifteen seconds or so. 

Not all parts of the city can hear the fog horn.  I guess I am "lucky" I get to hear it.  Actually, in all honesty, I do like it now.  However, when I first moved here I remember having the windows open and lying awake at night thinking "Oh my God, what have I done?"

I tried to record the fog horn the other night so that I could post it here on the blog.  Unfortunately, by the time I got the idea to record it, the intensity had died down and it didn't capture the craziness of the song and dance between the ships horns calling to each other.

Hopefully I will be able to do that in the future as we are just beginning FOG season here in the Bay!

Song Of The Day - Bouncing Off Clouds (Clyde)  by Tori Amos

Here I Go Again. . .

You have probably heard the old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  Well, I seem to keep being fooled.

The bronze statue shown to the left is located on Spear Street between Howard and Folsom.  It is in a small courtyard next to one of my company's buildings.  

I walk past this statue everyday.  Usually twice a day.  And yet EVERY time I have to do a double take.  

At eight thirty in the morning, "Oh, what is that man taking a picture of?"  At six o'clock at night, "What's that guy taking a picture of?"  

Even I thought by now I would have stopped doing a double take.  

The best part is that it is a bronze statue.  It's not like it has on multiple colors of clothing or that it's skin tone is differentiated from its hair color.  It's basically all one color.

So I have come to accept that I am going to stop every day and turn and look at this statue and wonder "What is he taking a picture of?"

Song of the day - Beautiful by Me'shell Ndegeocello

Monday, June 9, 2008

Baby I'm Addicted. . .

I'm a Grande Non Fat White Chocolate Mocha with whip cream.  

I have totally convinced myself that by ordering "non fat" milk I am cancelling out the calories I get from indulging in the whip cream.  It's true, right?

I remember one of the first times I ever tried Starbucks.  I was in college at the time and a co-worker of mine had returned with a Mint Mocha Frappuccino.  As she sipped away her blended drink she turned to me and said "This is orgasmic!"

"Hmmm"...I thought, I like mint.  I like chocolate.  I'm in!  And that was all it took.

I do not have to drink coffee every day.  It's a "nice to have" not a "have to have."  I go through spells where I have it every day and then I might not have it for several weeks at a time.

I prefer my coffee in the afternoon.  I don't need to have it in the morning.  I need it at about three o'clock.

So if you are a fan of Starbucks or a coffee drinker in general you have probably experienced this situation.  

Recently, I was walking down the street and the person coming toward me was carrying a Starbucks cup.  Clearly this was a day that I needed coffee because my first thought was "Uhhh...where'd she get that?"  I was jealous of her coffee.  I knew that I was a good fifteen blocks from the nearest Starbucks.

The weird thing is that you will find people carrying Starbucks cups in the most random places. 

Another example of when my coffee jealousy kicked in was when I had gone for a hike in Muir Woods with a couple friends.  We were on a trail in the middle of the redwoods and the woman coming toward us was carrying a Starbucks cup. 

I have already shared that I am not the outdoorsy type.  At the sight of the Starbucks cup I suddenly became very excited about our nature outing.  I stopped the lady and asked with a giant smile on my face, "Is there a Starbucks up there too?"  She could probably hear the desperation in my voice.  She looked at me with the expression of "are you kidding?" and then politely shook her head and said, "No."  Tragic.

A couple of years ago my parents and I took a trip to Seattle which also happens to be the birthplace of Starbucks.  As we were walking around the public market I decided I wanted a frappuccino.  There was an odd looking Starbucks across the street.  I went in and realized I had found the coffee drinkers Mecca.  It was the very first Starbucks EVER!

My name is Jon...and I am a Starbucksholic.

The Song Of The Day - Forever by Chris Brown

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Send Me An Angel. . .

There is lots of great artwork on display throughout the city and I wanted to show you this piece.  Located at Market and 3rd Street, the statue is of an angel.  I really like it.

Song Of The Day - Carry Me Away by Chris Lake featuring Emma Hewitt