April 2005 Archives

Remember this?

Well, another Kokochi picture has been used on a prominent site: OCN's Blogzine posted an article written by Mena, and they included a picture of her (need to scroll to last pic) that I took when we were at Blogger Con.

Kane and Elida

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Met at Doc's Clock in Mission with Elida. Then her friend from capoeira showed, and we talked about what a blog is, so this is to show the power of moblogging for Kane! Heh...Felt like a sales person about blogs, but seperate from my work, I totally believe in blogs as in giving access to the internet for people like you and me. So when someone wants to know about blogs...I can't resist not giving a live example...

To give a little context...

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Dav posted a snippet of our IM conversation. (forgive the misspell) (and yes, my icon is Wakame)

But he didn't post to what I was responding:

[15:48] Dav: i'm super mega awesome with the optional extension pack!

I miss Tokyo

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Saw Full Belly and instantly felt that familiar longing pull...It's the everyday mundane going about life that I miss most. Food is certainly a big part of it too.

Last time I was in Tokyo, I spent over an hour in the basement of Sogo Department Store (where amazing delicacies from all over Japan are sold), mulling over what to buy for lunch to eat on the train on the way to Narita Airport. I just couldn't settle on one lunchbox, so I identified 3 specialties and bought small tastings. On the train, I adored unraveling the immaculately presented lunch bits I had bought and savored each bite.

Hang-gliding over Rio

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Ian kindly scanned in the hang-gliding photos. Thank you! You might need to click on them to see how beautiful the views of the mountain, town, and beach were. Unforgettable.

And no, I'm not hugging the pilot. That's where you're supposed to put your hands.

Ele!

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Finally, Ele has a blog! For a long time, she has been sending her specially made Friday Update emails to a group of us so we can all follow her exciting life and juicy gossip from Raleigh, NC. I've enjoyed getting to know her through these emails and looked forward to them every Friday. Dav and I both thought that blogging would be perfect for her. And tadaa! Granted, I guess the juiciest of gossip points will be kept private, but I'm sure you'll get addicted to her world :)

Welcome, Ele!

Can't resist this one. I won't dare do it, but if Kats looked like that, I'd fall in love all over and would take time off from work so I could hold him all day.

And a craigslist vent of a owner who clearly loves but is frustrated with his/her inconsiderate cats. They have us wrapped around their paws, I know.

Both via Dav.

[thank you, baby, for understanding my cat world. Remember I did grow up as a dog person, so beats me why I'm so crazy about cats! I love that you tolerate my obsession and allowed all 3 of us into your life. Not only that, you let Waka sleep on you and deal with the selfish whims of Kats. We all love you and can't wait 'til you're home so we can all snuggle together!]

Six Apart's newest member

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Introducing Paul Revere, otherwise called Major. Just 6 weeks old. Held by daddy Brad and fawned over by Ginevra and I. Welcome!

Hotel Gloria

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For the last couple days, we stayed at Hotel Gloria, a very swanky, classy hotel. It must have been first class back in the day, and still was, but had historical charm to boot. You just don't find such detail and personality in new hotels. They had 2 pools; one overlooking the city where the Brazilian high classs sipped cocktails and read as they tanned. The other (where Dav and I spent more time) was in a courtyard and had 2 diving boards. I had no idea Dav was such a diver! Made my heart flutter all over!


The last 2 pics are when we (with Daniel) snuck into what must have been some sort of royal evening room with art, velvet sofas, antique statues, and a grand piano. Dav has more pics of us having fun in there.

Food, beaches, and views

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A gigantic risotto dish we had one night with seafood, eggs, olives, local greens, and a ton of rice. I couldn't believe how much we ate. It was fantasitc, but didn't feel so good afterwards :)

From the cheap and quick fruit/snack stands. Ate the famous banana/cinnamon grilled cheese sandwich (it IS really really good), watched a fire juggler who entertained cars while they waited the light (right in front of the stand), and tried the special dark purple passionfruit, Acai, drink that came twice as large as expected. Yum!

Beach views
Views from the cable car going up Sugar Loaf


My favorite guy in Brazil. And me getting on GOL to leave...I love the uniforms of GOL. Smart and sleak...sorta Japanese designer-like. I wish I could have purchased an outfit!

Hang gliding over Rio

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The coolest thing of the whole trip was hang gliding! Over Rio! We did this right after the favela tour sorta spur of the moment so I was wearing flip flops! I got pictures taken while I was flying, so I will scan them in later. I did catch Dav taking off. It was simply amazing; the closest to what I imagine it must feel like to be a bird.

We had to run off a ramp off a mountain which was a bit scary. I was told that even if I stopped running, my tandem flight guide (last pic - I sure felt close to him) could still carry me. I thought I ran the whole way, but apparently I stopped. I also thought I'd scream out loudly; instead I wimpered like a little animal. Yet once gliding, I smiled and totally enjoyed myself. I want to do more of that!

Dav got a DVD made so I'm sure he'll link to that.

Favela - Rocinha & Vila Canoas

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Dav and I took a favela tour. Rocinha has 160,000 residents! Vila Canoas is known for having NO drugs (demanded by the drug lords of Rocinha to stop competition). I'm glad we did the tour not because of danger, but because the guide knew the places and could show us way more than what we'd find on our own. My favorite was walking between the houses in narrow alleys that went up/down/left/right. I'd be lost in a second. The place was built haphazardly since the law is that if someone lives on land for 5 years and it's unchallenged, then they own it. The favelas continue to grow this way. In one sense, they have great views since they build up in the hills. But since the government doesn't build roads for them, the folks way up high have to walk the whole way - and it's a town in itself, so some have to walk over 30 minutes uphill from the main street. The government recently decided to provide a minimum of electricity and water...but the outskirts of the favelas have to "steal" from their neighbors who "steal" from their neighbors etc. all the way down to the legit lines. Since many construction workers live in favelas, the houses are actually decently built. We even saw a "middle class" apartment complex, and apparently the drug lords even have pools! But it's one of those tightly knit communities where even if someone becomes middle class - income-wise - they may choose to stay within the favela because that's where they have all their social connections. It'll be interesting to see the future...where these very well-organized and well-established communities take Brazil's cities...

The tour included stopping by a non-profit school where they teach various things from English to Judo.

I absolutely didn't feel any danger at all (or in Rio anywhere at anytime, for that matter). The favela felt like any other poor city that is doing the best it can, and is full of life and creativity. For business reasons, the drug lords keep the favelas in strict order. If you steal or hurt someone, you are out (as in out of this world), so in reality, the favelas are quite safe. If we had more time, I would have walked around with Dav more.

Dav and I each bought paintings by locals that are now hanging in our SF home. That's cool :)

Santa Theresa

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This area is supposed to be artsy and funky, so Dav and I trudged up the hill in the hot hot heat. Along the way, we passed by a house with 10+ cats and I couldn't help but say hi to the guy sitting outside. Turns out he's lived in the US and spoke very good English. It was a bit sad though since during his lifetime, he's seen Rio at its best and then its slow decline. He can see the favelas growing and sometimes hears fighting (gunshots).

There were a only few places to visit in Santa Theresa. We hung out lazily on sofas admiring the decor and color of a cool cafe/bar, and ate at one restuarant. But it the area was smaller than expected (another tourist couple even asked us if they missed it). By far, the neatest part was the tram that rides rickety along the steep hills and across a high bridge into the city. Worth the fun even though I questioned the safety.

Dav got lots of cool graffiti pics. Last pic is a view off the road right into a large favela.

Lapa

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We read that Lapa is the musically happening area of town and went one weekday, but were confused because there were like 3 bars open but nobody around. Dead. Later we found that it's Friday and Saturday when one should go; sure enough, the place was one big party on those days.

This was at Madame Vidal. We had an excellent dinner there and by chance heard that a jazz group would start at 9pm. As expected, they started at 10:30. By then, we had finished off our wine and were onto our Caipirinhas. While waiting, we noticed that Dav was the only male customer and all the tables were filling up with women. I joked that perhaps the jazz group was going to be shirtless hot Brazilian men, and that I was in for a treat. But then Dav remembered the place was known for a gay hangout, so we thought perhaps it meant a lesbian hangout. Never quite found out, but the show was great.

The streets of Lapa on Friday. Packed with folks partying on the streets. We never bothered going into a bar.


I looked up an old colleague, Flavia, who lives in Rio. Who would have thought years ago when we worked together in SF that we'd meet up in Rio! Anyway, she took us to a local dance hall where they had awesome live samba music (like 10 band members) and a huge dance floor where people clearly enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately, I felt like a wooden dork doll amongst them. My hips don't have that special joint that allows such wiggling, making a humming bird look slow. Damn - gotta learn how to do that! Luckily Dav held me and we got to do some couple dancing :)

Ilha Primeira

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Now that I'm caught up with my SF life, allow me to backtrack about Brazil...('tis a let down to post events after that matter when I'm so used to moblogging at the exact moment, but I still want the record!)

Garopaba, where Dav is living, is absolutely beautiful, but it's more of a seasonal surf town so things had quieted down a bit by the time I got there. So after 4 blissful days of lounging around there, we headed to Rio de Janeiro so we could get a taste of city life.

The first few days we stayed on Ilha Primeira, an island a bit south of the center and the crowded Copacabana beaches. It appears little known since it's not even on the average tourist map. We stayed with Hardy, a guy from Napa, whom Dav found via the internet (if you are interested, contact him at "coastalhw at yahoo dot com"). I'm really glad we stayed there since it is as quaint as can be. Imagine a small tranquil island that you can only get to by a small motorboat, where the houses are cute bungalows with narrow walkways in between, lush vegetation, everyone seems to know everyone, and it's oh-so-quiet. I couldn't believe we were in Rio!


The cute alleys and lush green in the back.

A goofy blue statue I admired, and a wall of hundreds of types of cachaca, used in the Caipirinha that I love so much.

A super yummy restaurant (close to the island but not on it) we went to where we ate outside, and they had a pool and air hockey table outside too. I hate to admit it, but Dav beat me silly. Even at the darts where I started out winning (should have learned my lesson). Last pic is Daniel, Dav's cousin who has been living in Rio for about 16 months. Really cool to hang out with him.

Albion Castle

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I was dead tired, but couldn't resist joining friends at this party. Dav told me about the Albion Castle so I really wanted to check it out since this might be my last chance now that the place just sold for $3 million. In Hunter's Point. That's impressive. But considering it's built like a castle with lots of stone walls, high ceilings, and a beautiful, albeit outgrown, garden...it's seems worth it. It felt like a mountain cabin too with wooden beams and a gigantic fireplace. Everyone was taking pictures (the link provides the best pictures; I just wanted my own proof that I was there!). But the coolest part is the underground water caverns. What a treasure to a have a natural pool under your house! It was a tad cold for me to venture in, but Elida did. There was warehouse-like space too for large art projects or a workshop (which I know Dav would love dearly).

Glad I got to see the place. And actually, Innes Avenue in Hunter's Point has beautiful views of the city. I bet that place will eventually be a hot spot.

Now, I'm super duper tired. When in San Francisco, there is always something cool going on.

Garopaba

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I finally arrived Thursday morning and FINALLY got to be hugged by Dav. That's the best. I'm slowly realizing I'm in Brazil, since really, the goal of this trip is to be with Dav. It's pure bliss and we're making up for all the time apart!

First shot is from his apartment in this tiny surging/fishing town. Second is of a lunch we had full of veges and fishies. The rest are from Dav's camera of me enjoying picking flowers on a walk, petting a horse and cow we passed, and Dav surfing (one of his top priorities in being here).

I'm sure I'll have more to share later about Brazil and all, but for now, I'm super duper happy to be back with my Dav!

Layover

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At Chicago. Heading to Sao Paulo. Then another flight to Florinapolis where I finally get to be in Dav's arms. Then we have a bus ride to his apartment. A long trip but worth it!

Overheard

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Two men sitting at a table outside of a cafe.

Man one: "Well, the problem was you didn't tell me where the cat food was."

Man two: "I totally did."

Man one: "You don't understand, they were like sharks."

Blue people

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Met a few as I walked from the Brazlian Consulate to work. Just another day in SF.

Got it!

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Whew. Just got my visa to enter Brazil. The website said processing was 2 days but since the person in charge was sick, I was told it would take 5 days...and that I had to pick it up today. And I leave tomorrow! Plus, I had to hand over my passport and never got a ticket or anything to prove I had given over my passport. I was half expecting the visa office to say, "huh? your passport? we don't have it."

I've been quite nervous, needless to say. But now I'm ready.

You all know why I'm going, right?

White Cards at Farley's

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Ezra organized another White Card game, this time at Farley's. Since more than half of the players were Six Aparters, there were quite a few references to blogging and insider jokes. Compared to last time, we found several themes that emerged: disco, animals, a line, food, and lemons. Farley's is a great place for such a get-together. Rachel and Elida joined too!

The movie I just saw with Ian and family is The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

I highly recommend it as it is one of the most human and heart-warming documentaries I've seen in a long time. Mark Bittner truely understands the wild parrot flock he lived close to. Both he and the film lovingly showed the parrot personalities and stories that brought tears to my eyes. If one opens up, animals really are amazing.

Cesar Chavez parade

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At the Embarcadero to meet with Ian and family for a movie and bumped into an American Indian drum and dance ceremony that is part of this parade today. Nice to see.

Yum yum yum!

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OK, I promise this will be that last post for long time about the wondeful food I'm eating, but again, tonight was fantastic.

When Kimi and I had our special day out, we went to one of my favorite restaurants, Baraka. I can't get enough of their warm pistachio goat cheese dish. Since then, Kimi has been experimenting, and one day called me saying she figured out how to create it. So when she asked what I wanted to eat tonight, besides anything that she cooks, I requested the goat cheese dish. It was soooo good. And so that I don't have to beg her to keep making it for me, she gave me the necessary ingredients with a beautiful handmade dish that is oven-proof, which is necessary. Now that's a personalized gift!

Then we had a giant paella full of seafood. And for dessert, Kimi made a matcha/chestnut poundcake and matcha ice cream (yes, she made the ice cream!). As you just read yesterday, I love matcha.

Thank you for your patience since I couldn't help but want to post about my good fortune. I shall calm down now. And thank you to all my wonderful friends for making this moment so incredible. Mwa!!!!



I'm a little lost at how to begin, because I had another amazing evening tonight. I feel like I'm in some Happy Movie that keeps going on and on.

Basically, I consider my B-day as just a day. It's nice to reflect on the passing of time, but I don't bother much otherwise. However, warm celebrations began from last weekend. Then last night, Elida cooked for me. And tonight Rachel and Cesar invited me over for dinner. I'm being spoiled and pampered!

And what a special evening tonight was because Kimi, Noriko, Mieko, and Manisha were there too...totally as a surprise. But get this: Rachel has never met Kimi, Noriko, and Mieko. Rachel emailed Dav, he told her about them, and she arranged this whole gathering. I can't begin to explain how thoughtful that is. You see, I have several circles of friends from Campalicious, Japan, and high school. I've been looking forward to having them overlap and meet each other. But tonight was the first night that this happened. It was very special for me to see everyone together tonight.

In addition, Rachel didn't just cook a dinner. First, there were my favorite kinds of cheese (oh, how I love cheese), and pink champagne that Kimi brought. Then we sat down to a delicate vegetable pie with Japanese flavorings that Rachel made; the top had my name and a heart baked onto it!. She also made scrumptious vegan chocolate cupcakes with matcha cream inside (she knows I love matcha) and a marzipan Totoro! Can you believe? I'm so sorry Dav is missing all this...

And I'm a bit bashful to say that tomorrow night, I'm invited to Kimi's for dinner too! Seriously, I didn't plan this, but I somehow finagled to have 3 great cooks offer to cook for me 3 nights in a row. I'm trying not to sound like I'm bragging, but I'm simply at awe of my luck!! Thanks, everyone!!

Stuffed buddies

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I came home today and found the most pleasant surprise package from Raven. When I visited her in Portland recently, after I saw her fluffy stuffed animals, I shared with her how I had lost my beloved Charlie and Pierre when I moved from Tokyo. I had packed them in a box and the box never arrived. I've had both Charlie (big brown bear) and Pierre (small panda bear) since I was a kid. They were irreplaceable and losing them broke my heart. Luckily, I had blogged about their noses, so at least I have some record of them (last 2 pics).

Raven sent me "Charlie bear's cousin" whom I gladly welcome aboard. I can't believe Raven remembered and also understood how important Charlie and Pierre were. I need to figure out what this cousin's name is...Thank you, Raven!

By the way, Raven and I have the same B-day!

An AMAZING Evening!!

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Elida came over and cooked for me tonight. And she cooks like no other! I am seriously beginning to appreciate Mexican cooking. Elida's work is nothing like what you find in restaurants which I've had a hard time getting used to. Tonight, she cooked Chile Rellenos...and from scratch, as usual. I had never tried them in restaurants since they always looked just covered in gook. Elida's were simply AMAZING!

She also brought some cake. And she and Ezra sang me the B-day song which made me blush like a petunia (the pink ones). How lucky can I get to have Elida come over and cook AT MY HOUSE for me? And, she made both Ezra and I belly-laugh for half an hour at some crazy stories she has.

Then we went to Bissap Baobab to top off the wonderful evening. Ezra joined us. And because it was my special day, and Elida was there to advocate for me, I got in free and I got a hibiscus martini on the house. That was pretty neat. Check out the eerily loooong arm in that one picture, especially the fingers. I giggled when I saw that. I think it's the night vision mode that elongated the guy's arm beyond the norm.

The dancing was super fun...but you know what absolutely made me jump like a little kid? Elida pointed out the one and only Matt Gonzalez there. As we left, we casually walked by him, but my heart jumped. I bashfully confided in Elida that I felt like a groupie and really wanted a picture with him. So she arranged that too. Elida is the coolest!

Tant pis for the gigantic shadow covering my face, making me look like a she-bear, but it is me between Matt Gonzalez and John West. I tried googling John West to no avail, but he's Green Party too, won a race recently, and IS a Green Party Mayor somewhere in New York State. Sorry I didn't catch the actual town. Isn't that cool??