Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Japan from Your POV

Guest Contributer - Jake

We recently took a trip to Japan and by trip I mean an ADVENTURE. The wonderful country of Japan blew our expectations in so many ways. The culture there is very orderly and clean. The landscape sprawls with beautiful mountains, impressive shrines, and buildings that resembles sculptures. You begin to wonder how loyal you are to your own country as it feels like a nicer home. I had the opportunity to go Go-Karting around the city in Mario theme costumes, watch gigantic human beings go at it in a sumo ring, tour the largest fish market in the world - Tsukiji, make our own delicate sushi, and honestly so much more.

The most memorable experience in Tokyo was our last meal. We had Kobe beef in a do it yourself grill restaurant. You could taste the famous fat marbleization that the breed of cow is known for. The workers added the extra touch with their amazing service. Super friendly and could crack a smile on anybodies face. The small restaurant is what the home feeling is all about. So much so, that we could go back tomorrow and feel like we never left.

Guest Contributer - Gary

My family had such a great time in Tokyo. From the marvelous food to the incredible sights, it was a dream vacation for any family. However, I was not invited. I had to stay home and continue to teach the youth of America. This is my story of their vacation.

I had many great responsibilities: take out the trash and recycling, get the mail and newspaper, and most importantly, water the plants. The first night I stayed at the house there was a tremendous thunderstorm. Lightning was flashing and thunder was booming. The foundations of the house were shaking and so was I. Luckily, I didn't lose power, I still had Wifi to get all the of great pictures they sent me from Tokyo.

Over the next few days, I would come back to perform my duties only to find that our great neighbors had done my jobs. I watered the plants like a professional gardener, although one died (sorry mom!). The highlight of my stay at the house was one delicious meal that I brought from a local burger joint called McDonald's. The burger was tasty and the fries crispy, hot, and perfectly salted. It was a great vacation for them and a better staycation for me.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fiction is Timeless

Years ago I was the Director of Print and received many comp subscriptions to magazines, including one of my favorites, The New Yorker.  I admit I only read the fiction--how I loved reading those short stories.  Never had enough time nor smarts to read all the other articles.  I've saved shopping bags of The New Yorker so I could read the fiction.  On  my latest trip I realized I didn't have a good book to read.  So what did I do?  Grab a handful of New Yorkers out of the shopping bag.  Surprise-they were from 2008 & 2009.  Here are the stories read on my last trip.  Each still having a lasting memory on my mind, letting me escape in to these dreamy stories, real issues of the human spirit that just don't go away.

  1. A story by Joyce Carol Oates about a lonely widower who invites a man from town in
  2. Yurt....didn't capture the author.  About teachers who are having affairs...& how
    one teacher encourages another to have a baby
  3. Awake, by Tobias Wolff.  Richard, a Columbia college student loves Ana a Russian waitress
  4. Wiggle Room, by David Foster Wallace.  A bored tax accountant.  Great prose
  5. The Daughters of the Moon by Italo Calvino.  A lovely magical Diane goes naked in NYC worshiping the Moon.  Nature vs. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade & consumerism.  The moon is captured by a large crane but set free by the women of the Moon.  This was my favorite story.
  6. The Boy who had Never Seen the Sea, by J. M. G. LeClezio.  Another magical story about a boy who escapes his dorm room to the sea.  His classmates secretly cheer him on as his life unfolds all around the sea.
  7. Clara by Roberto Bolano.  A man loves Clara on & off until she dies of cancer/dissapears
  8. Gorse is not People by Janet Frame.  Naida turns 21, a "mental defective" dwarf.  Goes to town on her 21st birthday, engaged to pig boy.
  9. Brother on Sunday by A. M. Holmes.  Roger visits Tom & Sandy at the beach.  Brotherly rivalry.
  10. The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris.  Husband is not liked by wife's friends--so much so they are not invited to their party.  All while they stand up the wife's dinner party after alot of effort in to the perfect meal.
As I moved from city to city I tried to read the magazines quickly so I could dump them--less weight to carry around.  I found myself reading the "Notes from around Town" and was happy to recount the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as several Obama stories (ah-the good old days).  I wondered if I should really trash these issues--weren't they collectors items from 10 years ago?  The cartoons!  The vivid cover color art!  The prose and language and current events I missed.  I left a copy in an airport lounge, wondering what (if anything) the finder would think--who would keep a magazine (hard copy no less) from 2009?

As I boarded my plane home I realized I had shed 10 issues of weight, but had nothing to read on the plane home.  I can't wait to attack the next few issues in the shopping bag at the back of my closet.  Or maybe in the basement.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


Do you believe in fate?  Or magic?  Or just plan technology?
I locked myself out of a rental car [rental car story for another day].  Was so impressed with myself that I had all my work clothes with me to go straight from PT to work.  Dressed, gathering bags up in the Summit Medical Group women's room and had that oh shit moment.  My keys are locked in the stupid rental car.  What should I do?  Call David?  Call Enterprise?  Call a locksmith?

Told the receptionist and asked her if security could help me.  Just then another old lady walked by and said "is your car a new car?" I had no idea.  It didn't look new.  "Does it have an automatic push button starter?  If yes, it doesn't lock if you leave the keys in the car."  Don't worry she said.

"How does it know I left my keys in the car?" I said.

Another old lady said, "technology"!

Sure enough I held my breadth as I pulled the door open.  YES!  It opened. How could it be this technology exists and I've never heard of it? Is it magic?  Fate?  Technology?  Or a combination of all? 

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Cardinal versus the Robin

Look, look, a cardinal!  Don't move, come quick, walk quietly, you'll scare it.  Darn-why did you walk here so loudly you scared it away.

I love it when a cardinal comes.  Their majestic stance and vivid red color bring me peace and good luck.  I get so happy when a cardinal comes to me when I'm working on an important work project, or am thinking about a tough issue.  I know everything will turn out all right.
My love of birds has strangely worn on my husband [of all people!!!].  He can't stand it when I put feed in the bird feeder.  He bought a squirrel trap to catch the squirrels who eat my bird food.  He complains that there's so much bird shit on the roof and he is the only one who goes up on the roof when there's trouble

He told me one day a whole family of orange birds were in the backyard.  What kind?  Which?  What did they look like? I got so excited.  I've never seen an orange bird in my backyard.  How exotic.  I imagined a little, little orange chick-a-dee, a cross between a parakeet, hummingbird and baby yellow chick with butterfly-like wings.  Graceful with soft vivid fireball orange fur.

Yesterday he said look at that orange bird.  There it is--a whole family of babies and big birds were here last week.  OMG-it was an every day robin.  I didn't know robins came in baby sizes.  What's exotic to him is not exotic to me.  How strange that he got excited about a family of robins.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Secretly Fantasize About Throwing Away My Husband's Junk

Honey, aren't you supposed to go to Home Depot to buy x, y, z?  Oh and can you stop by the Asian Grocery Store to pick up some a, b, c?

Good! That gives me an hour and a half (maybe two) to dump your junk.  I can get the bicycle rims and the pieces of wood and other assorted tools bought, traded, taken, but never used.  Dear brother-in-law is famous for bringing over electronic items destined to sit in the dusty basement junkyard.

Once he went away for the weekend and I got rid of some big items, a Sears workbench (give away in the Community Forum to a grateful lady-good!  Let someone else put it to use).

I've once tried to calculate how many hours it would take to get rid of all the unused junk.  Probably months.  Funny thing is he's never noticed.  How long can this last?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Gung Hay Fot Choy, Happy New Year of the Dog 4715

What traditions do you follow?  Growing up on Chinese New Year we had a ton.  First of all, no school.  It was an unwritten rule that we didn't attend our school, PS 130 on Chinese New Year.

  1. No washing your hair (washes away the good luck)
  2. No throwing out garbage (keep the good luck in the apartment)
  3. Clean your apartment from head-to-toe to start the new year with a clean, orderly home.
  4. Only good thoughts, no bad thoughts, no fighting with your brothers and sisters 
  5. Red envelopes--- Yay, receiving lucky money from your family.  Married (not single) relatives and friends pass out lucky money in red envelopes
  6. Eat sweets, lots of candy (specific kinds, mostly red, although they didn't taste all that good) to have a sweet and happy yearWe would eat fun see, the cellophane noodles
  7. My Mom loved to fry shrimp chips and the cellophone noodles
  8. There was one sticky rice sweet (a soft brick of puffed rice crispies with nuts, covered in honey) was my sister's favorite.  Think its called Ka Mah
  9. Dai Tay (big sweet).  My grandmother would make it, show us how.  Mix up lots of brown sugar and pound it into balls and little turnip flowers
  10. Low Bok Go (turnip pudding) -- brings in the new year
  11. My mom would put a small bowl of oranges with a red envelop in everyone's room for good luck.  Even the bathroom (I don't follow the bathroom custom, but there is a bowl of oranges in my bedroom now)
  12. Wear red for good luck!
  13. Parades!  As a girl scout I was always in the Chinese New Year parade.  Scared to death though of all the firecrackers, used to scare away the evil spirits.
  14. At work I hang up the red good luck decorations by my cube to insure I have a good year.  
Happy New Year.  So which of these customs do you think I still follow?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Day 44; six weeks and two days after knee replacement surgery. To say this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is an understatement.
The physical therapy is both great and horrible. I look forward to using the gym equipment, especially the NuStep to warm up. The stretching is the worst as it is painful.  How would you like to be pushed, pulled & bent in ways your leg just won’t go?  Yes it does hurt like hell.

During week 2 or 3 the PT measured the angle at which my knee could bend.  Based on that she said I could ride the exercise bike. I tried, (yes I tried), backward, forward, oh how hard!  Stuck, wouldn't
bend, just couldn’t get it around.  She said she would help me push it and I screamed NOOOO!!!!  Finally, the next week, determined to do it before I set off on a biz trip I did it.  Had a lot to do with me relaxing.  Luckily you were spared my grunting, “uhhh, gruhh” I muttered each time that leg reached the top of the pedal. Sheer pain, agony is more like it.

Fast forward six weeks and I look forward to the bike as I can do it (10 minutes).  It’s the last thing I do after all the exercises and stretching.  Keep at it Julie.

Yesterday I had a breakthrough at Pilates. Working on my own, feet in straps, after doing some leg work I did what we’d normally do, just came to me instinctively:  inner thigh stretch. Put your index finger in the rings, stretch legs out in “V”, then cross left leg in parallel to floor, foot towards right knee while you lean right -tugging on strap for a stretch.  Was able to bend & do this with right knee.  I smiled to myself & said,” yes Julie, you are back”.