Sunday, August 31, 2008

Root Beer Float Recipe: The Verdict

Do you enjoy a nice root beer float? Do you enjoy the soothing effects of alcohol? You will enjoy: this recipe.

It is my new favorite drink. (Jer only thought it was okay, but he is also not a big fan of root beer floats so I'm not even sure why I asked him.)

This recipe is awesome in the purest form of the word. I am only sad that I didn't buy more fancy root beer.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Christy's First Uni

I was just watching the Tokyo episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations," and during the sushi bit I had a revelation.

Most of what I ate when I had omakase for breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market I could not identify. Today I identified one of the items: Uni.

Also known as Sea Urchin gonads.

At the time I found it to be a surprising consistency. Odd. Yellow. Creamy. It was the only thing I came close to not liking, but I would definitely try it again if given the opportunity.

Possibly gonads just aren't a 7am food.

My PAX story

After work I rode the bus up to Pine and 1st and then walked to the Convention Center to meet Jer. I finally accomplished that on the 4th floor at Registration, where I bought my 1 day pass to PAX (Penny Arcade Expo). Once I explained that I didn't need a 3-day pass, no matter how much money I'd save, the woman took my $30 and wasn't all that helpful. She neglected to give me the goodie bag or a program, but I got them anyway. So there, unhelpful woman, I defeat you.

If you didn't know, PAX is a big nerd thing. Like, I don't know, 30,000 people big. I didn't arrive until 5:15pm (doors opened at 2pm), but that's okay because there were technically things to do until 3am. We only made it until 12:45am though. Video games mostly. Web comics. Rock Band.

At first we entered the line for the Penny Arcade Q&A, but frankly I am not a fan of the types of questions that are generally asked at these things. We went 2 years ago to their talk instead of just Q&A and it was good, so I already have that memory and I'd rather hear from the guys themselves, so I found a panel about writing for games and went to that instead. But first! I walked through the exhibition hall where they had all the crazy booths for games and people playing and the lights flashing and, apparently, if you are a female you are expected to be in costume or have funny colored hair. I came from work, so I wore jeans but a nice blouse. So... yeah, I didn't really fit in. I mean, I didn't even have tall boots or a t-shirt with witty sayings, what was I thinking?

But hey! Then I remembered, I don't care!

I found one of the last seats at the writing panel and that was interesting. The panel was excellent (comprised of adventure game writing heroes even) and the audience questions were mostly not cringe-worthy. However. People. I know you are living up to the whole nerd ideal and I GET that, but maybe you could've showered for the occasion? Or changed your t-shirt? For an hour I was sitting in a cloud of boy funk, and that's not pretty. And then having to stare at the backs of two pale people who were very proud to be boyfriend and girlfriend, pretty much sitting in each other's laps. Playing with the loose strands from each others braids. That paired with the smell was... distracting. The guy directly behind the two kept stabbing himself in the neck with his pen.

Then I met up with Jer again and we were starving so we ended up at Mexico: The Restaurant (not the country). We sat immediately at the bar, ordered dinner, and headed back to PAX. For the record, I love being over 21.

Next we got in line for a video game design workshop. Good thing we did; it was packed. Another interesting panel with good information. Hardly any time for questions, so yay for no cringing. Also, I really would've liked to have heard more from the last speaker but time ran out.

I was flagging then, but Jer rallied the troops! Er, led me to the next thing. We went to the Walrus Theatre to watch Dorkness Rising. It was hilarious. We sat on the carpet from 10:30pm to midnight and it was a fun group to see it with because we all got the humor. If you've ever gotten caught up in a role-playing (especially one that requires the rolling of dice and character sheets) then you'd enjoy it too. That's right, I am telling you how you should feel.

On the way back down the escalator we stopped in one last room... to watch Rock Band 2 competitions. It was a huge room with loud speakers, a big screen, and a lot of excited people. I don't play the game myself because I'm terribly uncoordinated, but it looked like fun. We watched for a while, bopped around a bit, then left close to 1am. The "party" was still going strong.

Then we walked to Seattle Center to get the car. The end.

PAX goes through today and tomorrow at the Seattle convention center. If you're an aspiring, or full-fledged nerd, you might consider attending. I can't see how you'd be disappointed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I found this recipe for an "adult" Root Beer Float and knew I had to try it. Root Beer Floats always conjure happy memories of sitting at the mall with my dad, people watching, trying to figure out everybody's story. A good Root Beer Float on a hot day is magic.

I already had the heavy cream left over from making mac-n-cheese last weekend, vodka in the freezer, and so all I needed was Galliano and fancy root beer.

Yesterday I braved the state run liquor store to find Galliano. I had no idea what it looked like or what type of alcohol it was, but that's what's called adventure, my friends. Found it in "Liqueurs." It's a product of Holland, by the way, yellow in color and smells like licorice.

Today at lunch I took a bus up to the fancy deli/grocery at Pike Place Market and bought 4 different kinds of fancy root beer: Baumeister, Dad's Classic Draft, Henry Weindhard's, and Hank's.

I chose by selecting half of the ones they had for sale and then buying them. Very scientific.

Root Beer Float Labor Day weekend, here we come! I will let you know how it turns out.

Also I watched this happen this morning. Yeah. Last Saturday I narrowly avoid getting stuck on the Monorail. And today I see the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, they use "bump" but I would say "crash," into the dock and knock a piling loose. Good morning!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monorail article

If I hadn't called Jer to check in, I would've been on this monorail for 90 minutes:

"Monorail breaks down"

As it was I lost $2 over it. (They offered refunds but the lines were long and I was impatient after a day at the Tibet Fest.) We watched the monorail pull out of the station and minutes later heard the technical difficulty announcement...

Houseguests and New Orleans

The houseguests are on their long trek to southern CA after a fairly eventful weekend. On Saturday, we split in half and Team 1 went to the Museum of Flight and Team 2 went to the Tibet Fest at Seattle Center and explored downtown. (I was on Team 2.) Team 2 NARROWLY avoided being stuck on the Monorail for an hour and a half. We were standing in line to hand our tickets over when the Monorail left and then got stuck. We were so very lucky not to be stranded. So very very lucky.

On Sunday, we all went to Ballard Locks and were rained on... then went out to Redmond for Half Price Books where we were rained on even more. I bought some books (surprising no one) and later we ate dinner at Pegasus Pizza on Alki.

I wrote a blog post on Tokyo that was included in a blog carnival yesterday; that was pretty neat. And I made flight and hotel reservations to go to New Orleans next March and visit my sister. Very exciting. If only March weren't a billion months away...

Hm. I think you are caught up now. With my life and everything. Also, I would very much like to be asleep right now. The end.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Theme is Cheese

We have houseguests through the weekend so we're wild and crazy all up in here. Last night we ate dinner at Jules Maes Saloon and that was nice, though my grilled cheese sandwich could've used a bit more cheese. The beer was cold though; I'll say that for it.

I was just looking over my budget, which I keep in a random text file that only makes sense to me. Every few weeks I get an itch to move stuff around and update priorities. It's what I do for fun. I found a little extra money today so I threw it at an index fund I own that's not doing so great. Well, I'm pretending the stock is on sale... What a bargain!

I should've been responsible and put it toward my annual auto insurance premiums, but where's the fun in that? I hardly ever drive, so no fun at all -- as I answer my own rhetorical question. (Never fear, fearless reader! Auto insurance is budgeted for next month!)

Nothing much exciting to report. I'm supposed to be doing things I don't care to do. My cat, Vash, sure does like to chew plastic bags. The weekend is a blank slate, probably filled with inexpensive sightseeing mini-adventures. I will most likely make my fancy macaroni-n-cheese recipe, featuring heavy cream, gruyere, and lots of butter.

I am now thinking of puns about cheese, mostly involving the word string.

Oh, and happy birthday to Courtney! Many more on channel 4!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More coffee, please

I am not operating at full efficiency, despite the amount of coffee I've drunk. The festivals are over and I need to move to the next thing. I need to fill out a form for an auction donation, like I said I would. I need to deposit last weekend's take. I need to organize my financial records. I need to clean...

It's bad when I'm too busy for happy hour. I don't want to live in a world where I'm too busy for happy hour.

My mind is spinning again. Sell the action figures. Reduce clutter. Read. Learn all the things you keep dancing around -- words, lighting, mortgages. Pay the auto insurance bill. Sleep.

On the walk to work from the water taxi, I've been approached by different men asking me for money. This has happened at least 3 times in the last week, more if you count the evenings. I don't give them any and I don't like it. I think back to the 3 days this weekend I spent in a 100 degree tent trying to sell my work. I think of all the nights I've matted prints, or spent Sunday mornings editing photos. Or, you know, the job I'm walking to. They see the coffee cup in my hand and I suppose they assume I will feel guilty for having so much when they have so little. An easy mark. Maybe I am too hard, but I don't feel guilty about it at all, just irritated. And tired.

I do struggle some because I know we're all just one medical emergency away from losing everything. But the men who are trying to tell me their sad story on the street are perfectly fine. At least they are fine enough to communicate and walk.

I guess that's just part of living in a city. They have the freedom to ask and I have the freedom to say no. Although I do wonder what it'll be like when the sun sets at 4pm and I'm a woman walking alone to the bus at night... this area is about as sketchy as where I used to work, but here there are a lot more pockets of isolation.

I hate that I am even thinking about this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Tokyo Photo Essay

I just posted an entry about my Impressions of Tokyo at my other site for a blog carnival. Check it out if you want to see a few new photos and read more about the Japan trip.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Last day of the last show of the season

Hi. Tomorrow is the last day to see On Focus Photo at Art at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.

10am to 6pm, Sunday, August 17. In Marymoor Park, next to the Velodrome -- which I didn't know until just now, is an actual word. It means: a track designed for cycling. And it is indeed.

Look for the tents. We'll be there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Art at Marymoor Park starts today at noon

... and goes until 6pm. Jer picked me up at noon yesterday and we went out to Redmond to set up the booth. It was warm, which wouldn't have been so bad but we forgot to add a critical piece and after putting the booth almost all the way together, had to tear it mostly down to add that silly joint. You'd think we'd have it straight by now (I blame the lack of sleep.)

Also, Google directions lied to me, and told me an inconvenient way to get to the park. It's really simple, take the 520 and get off at W Lake Sammammish Pkwy and it's right there, but Google had me get off an exit earlier and take side streets. Normally I like to explore, but not when I'm using my lunch hour to set up a tent in the sun.

I'm actually pretty excited to be in a show where there are over 100 other artists. We are like a band of gypsies in a field selling our wares. Marymoor Park is a very pretty park, with a beautiful weekend looming. Hopefully we'll get some people out there today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Preparing for my last show of the season

I loaded the car last night with booth supplies for this weekend's art fair. It took about an hour to carry the 4 heavy pole bags downstairs, along with the weights (about 100 pounds of sand), folding tables, canopy and sidewall canvas bags, and canvas bins. I hope my poor car holds out for this last show.

After the manual labor, I assembled 24 note cards and watched a couple of older episodes of "House." Ended up going to bed later than I wanted, but the car is loaded at least so tonight I'll be free to mat prints and make more cards.

I stayed up reading Amy Sedaris's very funny book on entertaining. It was a birthday gift from my friend Gina. The book's content is both horrifying and hilarious. I recommend it.

Tomorrow I have to go to work early so I manage to work my full 8 hours, probably be in at 6:30am. Jer will pick me up for an extended "lunch" where we drive out to the fair site and erect the booth. Then I go back to work to finish my day. Friday morning is show time.

And next week my in-laws are visiting, so I *think* after that my calendar will be fairly clear. I have tentative plans to sleep a lot and go grocery shopping. Maybe edit some more Japan photos. Get my business records in order. Fun!

Also, if the weather stays nice, I'd like to take some photos locally. My sister sent me a book on great locations to shoot in the Pacific NW, so I will be studying that for ideas.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Come see On Focus Photo at Art at Marymoor Park, August 15-17!

Next weekend is my last show of the year. I'll be at Art at Marymoor Park, August 15, 16, and 17, (that's Friday through Sunday, noon -6pm on Friday, 10am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday) in Redmond, WA. I'll be selling matted prints, note cards, and bookmarks.

I'll even have some images for sale from my recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. You can also see some of those images here: pan_g77.html

Admission to this festival is free; the address is 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Redmond, WA 98052.

For other details see: /event.php?eid=3

I hope to see you there!


I'm bummed. My trainer of the last couple of years is no longer with my gym. It was inevitable and not a surprise, and I think this is what he wants... but damn. Motivation is so much easier when there's someone else holding me accountable.

On the bright side, I guess I'll save some money.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Me

Jeremy flew in yesterday morning and it's good to have him home. No real problems, but he did have to go back through check-in at Narita because the tiny toy he was carrying apparently had a sword with metal in it. The sword was a few inches long and was deemed dangerous.

On the way home, we stopped at the AT&T store, upgraded phones, and then also stopped at McDonalds for breakfast.

Then I went to work matting prints. I watched about 5 episodes of "Bones" while I put 26 prints together. Jer slept. In the evening, we rewatched "Lost in Translation," which was awesome because now we recognize so much of the city background. Much of it was filmed near where we stayed, and in a lot of the shots you can even see our hotel. "There's the Epson sign!"

I woke up late this morning. Not really sure what we'll be able to get done today, but since it's my birthday we should at least go out for dinner. I was pushing to see "Step Brothers," but it feels so nice not to do anything at all.

Next weekend is the last festival of the year. I'll post details soon.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tokyo: Ex Post Facto

It sounds hokey, but I am still under the spell of Tokyo. At lunch I sat at a counter by the deli window and watched people. No crowds out there, only a few people walking leisurely past, nobody wiping his brow with a handkerchief. Here, the garbage cans are everywhere, no need to separate burnable and non-burnable trash, no vending machines filled with cold beverages, no rows of bicycles with kickstand locks, no parking lots stacked with mopeds, no plastic food models. You look up and the buildings end in a few stories, no neon lights, no sales people welcoming every customer into the shops, no trays to place your money at the register, no signs for the subway, JR Rail.

Someone will occasionally inquire about the trip and I know to keep it short. "Overwhelming," I say. "It's a big city," I say. "The people were nice. I had fun."

Now I know what they mean by culture shock.

The whole time I was there I kept moving. I didn't give myself a chance to process what I was seeing because there wasn't time. But now, as I replay the events in my mind, I'm just stunned. And when I try to put my experiences into words they sound like a cliche.

To generalize greatly, it seemed that everybody there was just trying to carve themselves a space. Sometimes it was a nook, sometimes it was a nine-story building full of electronics equipment, sometimes it was a blue tarp in the crack between two buildings. In a day you could go from a massive and beautifully landscaped park to the red light district to a 43ft tall bronze statue of Buddha cast in 1252 A.D. to Disneyland. You probably wouldn't, but it's possible.

And the price of things! In the costume section of a department store there was a baby pacifier that looked like a set of teeth. $19. I kept my costs down by taking the train and subway everywhere, not buying much, and eating at small places, but still. Wow. Most places were Yen only, too, so no credit cards.

I wish I could've stayed through Saturday and flown back with Jer, but I can't complain. I'm glad I had the opportunity to go in the first place and he'll be home soon. Meanwhile the cats seem pretty happy to see me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Photo of us in Shinjuku

Here's a portrait of Jer and me in Shinjuku:

Photo editing is slow going. I've only done 3 for the store so far and I haven't uploaded them yet. Need to get my act together because I only have a week until my next (and last show).

I think after the show I can finally relax. Oh and my birthday is in a few days. Last year I forced Jer to go to a sushi restaurant and on the way home from dinner he proposed, so it was pretty memorable. This year we went to Japan and I ate sushi in a fish market.

What a strange and eventful year.

Back in Seattle

I am safely returned from Tokyo and I am very sleepy. I have been up for many hours, gone through many security lines and cat-napped next to a cranky baby and a toddler, but hey at least they were cute. Maybe I will just rest my eyes for a little bit...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Almost Nearly Goodbye, Tokyo

It's 7:30am here on Wednesday and 3:30pm in Seattle on Tuesday. Jer is asleep for another half hour and I just got done eating at Tribeks restaurant in the hotel lobby. The lobby is on the 20th floor of this building and has fantastic views of Shinjuku Gyoen (a very large park) and the city -- much the same as the view from our room only 10 floors down, imagine that.

I had their breakfast buffet, which was an interesting mix of food options. Not the best meal of the trip, but not bad either. I wanted to experience it but next time I have 2,194 yen burning a hole in my pocket I will explore a few side streets and find some plastic food models that look good.

Last night Jer and I went out in Shinjuku with the fisheye lens and I did some night shooting of all the colorful and brightly lit skyscrapers. Then we wandered over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building to the North Observatory. You can ride the elevator up to the 45th? floor for a gorgeous (free) view. There's a bar up there and a shop. I set up my mini tripod and remote control and photographed what I could through the glass. Occasionally we saw lightning. That was about 9pm. It was still pretty crowded for 9pm on a Tuesday, as were the streets. I think I know why so many salary men have perfected the art of sleeping on trains.

I'm hoping to ride out to Tamachi Station this morning and walk to the Rainbow Bridge to photograph the Tokyo skyline. My airport limousine leaves at 12:55pm and the flight is at 4:55pm. Then I go through a time warp and arrive at 9:30am the same day. Still blows my mind.

Anyway, thank you for reading. Eventually there will be pictures. I think so far I've shot around 1200 pictures. I was hoping for more but I did the best I could do in 4 days. :)

Last Night in Tokyo

It's my last night in Tokyo. Jer and I are sitting at the window, 30 floors above the city, sharing a couple of different beers we picked at random from the convenience store (Suntory The Premium Malts and Sapporo Premium Edelpils), deciding what to do next.

The rain is slowing us down a bit. The sky opened this afternoon and off and on since then there has been thunder, there has been lightning, and there have been occasional DOWNPOURS that last for hours.

Yesterday I rode the train out to Kamakura and then took the Enoden line to Hase Station and saw the Great Buddha (Daibutsu), Hasedera and finally Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. That is the short story. For dinner I met up with Jer and we ate a delicious meal of yakitori, grilled mushroom, and a dish that was called something like meat fries, which looked like little fried shumai.

Today I left the hotel at 6am while Jer was still asleep and rode the subway out to Tsukiji Fish Market to take a few pictures of the outer market. When I was done, I picked a friendly looking sushi place and ordered omakase, or chef's choice. It was fantastic. I couldn't even tell you what I ate, and I didn't ask. But I ate every bite, I tell ya what.

Came back to the hotel, said goodbye to Jer who was getting ready for work, took a nap, and then rode the subway from Yoyogi to Akasuka to see Senso-ji, a very popular Buddhist temple. Around this time it started to rain heavily, which felt good actually because of the humidity. I went to the covered shopping arcade and spent some time there. Ate a rice cracker dipped in soy sauce and a green tea cookie that had some sort of almond colored filling and an iced green tea. Then I picked a place at random and had a very tasty lunch. Noodles in a spicy broth with ground pork on top, side dishes included rice, edamame, a pickled vegetable, and some cubes of fruit in juice. It was a lot of food, but it was so good I couldn't stop myself. No, I couldn't read the menu. Yes, I pointed at the plastic food display outside to the waiter.

Okay, Jer is falling asleep so I better get off the computer.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Day 2 in Tokyo

Another long day. We walked to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden after breakfast at Starbucks. I had the coffee jelly frappuccino, which was pretty much like it sounds. There was jelly in it. Oh, but then we walked around Takashimaya Times Square, a large mall and Books Kinokuniya, where I bought a Tokyo Transit Guide and a Haruki Murakami paperback I haven't read yet.

It was air conditioned in there, and today was the hottest yet.

So then we walked to the garden, walked around there for a long time, headed back and stopped at another shrine. (I will fill in the details later, I just want to jot this down while it's fresh.) Went to the basement of Takashimaya Times Square and bought some yakitori to take back to the room and also some Honey Mustard Pringles... ate lunch and rested...

Later we mustered up our courage to take the train and went to Yoyogi Station, bought our tickets for the Yamanote Line and headed to Akihibara. Big nerds we are, and yes, it is so awesome. I saw more D700s -- even ones in boxes all ready for me to take home but I resisted. Rode small elevators up to the 7th floors of places and looked at Nintendo DS games. Lots of flashing lights, loud speakers, nerds as far as the eye could see...

Eventually we rode the train back to Shinjuku Station and ate dinner at a place where there were only pictures on the menu. I pointed twice at random and they brought us food. Steam buns and some sort of dumpling. Very tasty, though I am really horrible at eating things like that properly. We picked the place because earlier in the day it had the longest line of all the places around it. It was a good choice. Then we stopped at Krispy Kreme to try the mango vanilla donut and the honey lemon donut.

That's pretty much it. Good night!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I held it in my hands

After a brief sojourn in the hotel room involving ice cream sandwiches and Asahi Dry, we ventured out into the steamy evening for twilight photos. We walked and walked and walked some more, through the red light district, Golden Gai, and stumbled onto a festival in full swing at a shrine.

My personal highlight though was going to Yodobashi Camera and getting to snap a few photos with a Nikon D700. I didn't even know this thing was out yet, but here it was, in my hands, and could've been mine for only a few thousand USD.

No, I did not buy it. But you have to believe me when I say, that thing was PRETTY.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Day 1 in Japan

It is hot. It is humid. We walked a lot today. First we went to Tully's and confused the poor cashier with our lack of language skills, but it worked out in the end. I had a honey milk latte and an egg on toast. It was very tasty. Then we went to Meiji Jingu, a shrine, and walked through the gardens. After that we walked to Harajuku and marvelled at all of the clothing stores.

Did I mention it was hot? And humid? Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter and humid-er.

We ate lunch at a "70's diner" called The Sad Cafe. I had an omelet stuffed with fried rice and curry on top. Also, a Kirin. It was tasty. Then we walked back to the hotel where we are now cooling down in the air conditioning. The clock on Jer's computer is still Seattle time, which fascinates me. Apparently it is almost midnight, but here it is almost 4pm. It's been a whole day; you would think I'd be used to it.

The pictures are trapped on the camera, but so far they are not all that exciting. Not that this is not a photogenic place, but I spend more time with my mouth hanging open in wonder than remembering to snap a picture. I will try to do better.

I'm in Tokyo!

I am exhausted but there is so much to see. We just ate dinner at a random hole in the wall place, pointed to a picture on the menu, and it was excellent. Curry with rice and fried pork. Mmm. There are so many people here, it is unreal. Also, this is the biggest city I have ever seen. Not that I didn't hear that ahead of time, but to see it and walk through the streets is a different story. Friday night in Shinjuku. Just wow. I am running entirely on fumes now. It is almost 9pm on Friday here, but my body thinks it is 5am Friday in Seattle.

It is like Las Vegas with purpose. Also there is a Krispy Kreme outside, an Eddie Bauer, lots of Starbucks, and an El Toritos. That's just weird.