Apr 292014
 

Tonight was a good night. Spent some good money on charity for the Children of Bellevue, a non-profit organization that is devoted to “leveling the playing field for New York City’s vulnerable youths” as they say but I see it as an opportunity to just spend some time (and money) with children that just don’t have the parental or monetary support in the NYC community.

Tonight was the Toast to the Children 2014 event at the Riverpark Restaurant, all the way out on the FDR, but where no normal cab knows how to get to….

It was a smaller venue than the previous location I’ve been to, which was Mandarin Oriental NYC hotel. Riverpark is more intimate but this year had definitely less people in attendance; and I’ve noticed a much “cheaper” clientele…

Venue was modern but a sort of functional labyrinth for the event, however, no one seamed to mind. The wine and food were great as usual (thank you Tom Colicchio and Staff for putting this together!). My favorites were Jonathan Waxman’s contribution of grilled shrimp with beans and grains (Barbuto), the octopus from Frankies Spuntino, the Rappahannock River Oysters, Peasant’s take on razor clams, and Colicchio & Sons (or maybe it was Craft’s) tapioca pudding… Honorable mention to Fairway market for their cheese, charcuterie, oils and spreads table which of all the tables besides Pearl Oyster Bar’s lobster roll table, had the lines.

Wine was on point this year (I wish I had a list as the french table wines were excellent) and I’m happy they had a mix of hard liquor (I took on the bourbon, skipped the vodka and gin) and beers for the event.

I was a little disappointed in the turn out for the silent auction… this year they did a digital display “silent auction” which everyone could log into via their smart phones and bid, however, response was lack luster. My recommendation of the developers, is that you need to post ALL the bidders (as if you’re looking at a clip board of who’s voted) and you can gauge if 1 person has bid or 30, but at least it gives a bit of competitive nature to the process…

I won tickets to The Killer play that I had never known about until today… I hope its good, however, even if it’s not, happy my donation goes to the Kids.

I say that the response was lack luster this year because there wasn’t the crowds I had been used to, there wasn’t demand at the live auction (Tom had to bid on his own item to get the price up! fuck you guys!), and man of the people I met had made it through donated tickets and thus those that paid didn’t show or were given access.

I hope the event continues for many years of success and look forward to several more. If you are in NY (or even if you’re not) please spend some time looking into supporting this very beneficial charity:

http://childrenofbellevue.org

Feb 182014
 

riza-manalo2014Tonight I walked by the red carpet in front of a SOHO venue hosting the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue party… Flashlights flash with every car door opening as skinny models and their dates are rushed inside from the 20 degree cold. (Check the photos of the cover models in front of a classic background of sewer drenched snow and steel barricades)

Aside from the daily walk around NYC’s best out door mall, and occasionally listening in to the wife’s Fashion Police replays, I don’t pay much attention to fashion and the above experience is the closest I would get to live action.

Last week I was fortunate to attend my friend Riza Manalo’s runway showing at the Nolcha Fashion Fall/Winter 2014 presented by RUSK.

I still know nothing about fashion but I will always support my friends and those that are in the know should take a deeper look.

Status

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Feb 172014
 

morningI spent 3-4 hours finally trying to figure out why all the code on this site got screwed up. I’ve had to back up to an older version, loosing some later posts…. but back up and running.

I didn’t think my traditional blog was missed as much as it feels. Well I’m back and will make a concerted effort to post a sentence to a blog every other day…

More to come and happy 2014

Mar 042012
 

When researchers put the following three problems to 3400 students in the US, only 17 per cent got all three right. Can you do any better?

1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2) If it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it?

[For answers, see below]

Answers: 1) 5 cents, 2) 5 minutes, 3) 47 days

Source: Shane Frederick, 2005

I’m Back!!

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Feb 282012
 

The time has come to end joy itself
I’ve left my problems up on the shelf
The work days over and I’ve got it made
like Johnny Kemp said I just got paid….

It only took just over 1 year to get this thing back up; I’ve been spending too much time over at tumblr… I have about 50+ DRAFT posts started since 2010 and you’ll probably see a few pop in here and updated. I know that’s not proper journalistic integrity but for future archive history I’d like these notes of my personal journal to properly reflect their timeline. My stats show that no one is reading this because of my absence so it doesn’t matter anyway. Cheers to the next!

Jan 132011
 

My alarm began to buzz faintly at 6:30 am like any other Thursday, yet unlike most late weekdays, I was already awake. It’s been 10 years since I’ve crossed a major ocean for travel, but more exciting was today I was leaving for the first time to Asia and the first major trip with my new wife on our Honeymoon.

We’d planned this for months, a 3 week trip to south Vietnam to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) and southwest Thailand islands. Coming from New York, there weren’t any direct options so we booked an 11 am flight through Narita, Tokyo Japan to Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. On the day of, the car service was on time and it seemed the traffic parted ways for us all the way to JFK this chilly December morning. Neither of us packed jackets, because soon we’d be in 80 degree weather and eating soup from a cart.

Saving money on the travel, we booked economy on American but with fingers crossed we weren’t fortunate enough to get our own row. No matter we had two types of little pills from the doctor, one being a prescription for long term rest. Over the first sixteen hours we both wrestled with sleep. Sometimes watching movies like the Social Network and Temple Grandin and other times waking up to random meals of various quality.

We landed in Narita starving – I guess we missed our morning breakfast. Like lost children at a county fair, we wondered around the airport amazed by the new land we were discovering, yet confused about where and what to do next. We settled on a Japanese ramen bar and each picked a soup dish for our late lunch; she had a miso broth and I the pork noodle ramen. It was 4 pm local time and I was having the best meal I had all weak in the airport for $12 USD a bowl.

We loaded up on various mochi, candies, obscure teas, and all the flavors of Kit Kat I could find. Much like my Europe trip, I’m finding familiar brands in foreign countries with exceptional flavors I can’t get back in the States- I got Green Tea, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Cream and Wasabi flavors.

Back on the plane we we were becoming increasingly uncomfortable from anxiousness as we were from the long bouts of confinement. The 2nd leg, we had roomier seats but still didn’t get good rest. After another 7 hours of flight we landed in Saigon on Christmas eve. It was just after 11:30 PM local time and the airport was packed. Following the masses we found our baggage carousel and the Law began telling me about the last time she went through customs in Vietnam. 15 years ago, travelers were getting their bags, gifts, and personal belongs inspected roughly and anything of interest or value seemed to be open for confiscation by the “authorities”. Then a full carton of Marlboros and a demure smile whisked her and her Mom through with out a fuss.

Today it seemed just as easy without having to bribe with smokes – we were through in minutes. We pushed through the doors to the outside and immediately we’re brushed over by the humid midnight air. I wish I had my camera within reach, as my entrance into Saigon was that of a subdued crowd hanging out the backstage of a Rain concert, only thousands of Vietnamese locals with flowers, balloons, signs and excited smiling faces waiting for their loved ones to come out the doors for the holidays. With exhaustion setting in, I could barely figure the exchange rate accuracy when I handed over a $100 for change. The last thing I wanted to do was haggle for a taxi to our hotel, but I knew being the first one out to the street, I’d have to fight off the throngs still stuck in customs soon. With the cab stand guy in support I agreed on a 300,000 dong fare to our hotel ($15 USD which later in the week I discovered was still over payment).

We had just traveled 23 hours and barely slept yet we were like kids in the backseat of the car with our heads out the windows checking out the city. There were thousands of young kids out in the night, many taking pictures near a Christmas display erected next to on of the People’s Army helicopters or just hanging out at local stalls. The scene brought me back to Australia a bit where the seasons are reversed and Christmas is celebrated in shorts and oddly decorated trees. The city was busy with helmeted scooter drivers, bustling night stalls and older men playing games later into the night.

We arrived at our hotel, The Windsor Plaza Hotel in District 5. Walking up there was a few hundred scooters parked for the kids out on the town in the area – some hanging out at the American Discotech nightclub attached to our hotel. the hotel was bright and lavish with chandeliers and red marble stair cases. We took the elevator to the 4th floor check in lobby and was greeted with more faux Christmas deco including a 14 foot Christmas tree made of green crystals.

The hotel had upgrades us to a large suite at the end of a long hallway, away from other guests, smokers and kids. Along with robes and slippers, they provided a congratulations cake, flowers and complementary water for our stay. A bite of the cake wasn’t going to satisfy our hunger cravings, so we switched gear quickly and wondered back down to the street to have our first meal of the trip in Saigon. We had no idea where we were and the hotel concierges recommended we not wonder around if we didn’t know exactly where to go – great…

Just around the corner past the club was a small Pho Ga (chicken soup) and some kids were hanging out barbecuing and drinking 333 (Ba-Ba-Ba, a cheap vietnamese beer). The lady managing the stall arose from her cot and put together 2 bowls of soup with fresh vegetables and chilies. Here was the moment of truth. My first street meal of the trip. Was it going to make me sick? Was it going to be good? I felt this was going to set the trend for the rest of the trip. I wiped my communal chopsticks and spoon with napkins and began adding lime, bean sprouts, chilies and several green vegetables like mint, basil and other varieties I didn’t recognize.

Elysa slurped up the noodles eagerly like a home cooked meal she’d been missing for years. I was hesitant but steady. I hand known that Asian grown chicken was leaner and a little tougher from the birds being truly free range, roaming around. It wasn’t bad flavor but I didn’t enjoy the tough texture. The soup on the other hand was hot, spicy and very flavorful. We both finished at the same time, despite my slow start out the gate and I took down another Heineken to cool the extra chilies I had added to mentally kill any bacteria. Adding a large bottle of water to the tab, I paid the woman now half asleep on her street cart 55,000 dong. Still confused about the exchange rate and wondering if we got a decent deal here, however, later I figured it to be about right, about $3 for 2 bowls of pho, 2 beers and a water.

Before heading back to Windsor to catch up on sleep, we stopped by a night market to pick up some dragon fruit and lychee for the morning. There was so much fruit and a third of it I didn’t recognize – I wanted to go Andrew Zimmern on the stalls but it was still early and the jet lag was already kicking in.

We showered and tucked into a firm, lightly covered queen bed around 2 am; smiling, fat and delirious from the time zone differential. Looking forward to a great trip.

Jan 122011
 

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~ Buddha

I’ve just returned from my Southeast Asia trip – all be it, 3 days returned. It’s taken me some time to adjust to the 12 hr time difference. This was an amazing trip for the adventure, history, experience and that it was my first major trip with my new wife (our honeymoon) and as Buddha has said, I spent it all concentrating on the present moments during my trip.

I’ve taken 1000s of pictures during the nearly 3 week trek and already looking through some of them, there’s about 10% gems amongst the rushed pictures, improperly cropped and poorly exposed scenes. I realize that photography is as much about being in the moment as it is, being patient for that moment. When traveling like I did with my wife, where the focus of our trip was to get as much out of the places and people we saw as it was getting as much out of being with each other, our situations did not lend themselves to the patience and timing required for great travel photography. I was torn between the modes of relaxation and enjoyment of the scenes with my wife and capturing them with my camera and in my situation. I wasn’t able to effectively capture both – so I spent more time enjoying the moments with my wife sans lens to my face – and my wife thanks me for this decision.

In doing so, I experienced wonderful cultures, foods, people and history of Vietnam, Thailand, and even Hong Kong. We spent just under 2 weeks in Saigon and Hoi Ann, Vietnam, under 1 week in Koh Lanta, Railay Beach and Bangkok Thailand, and 5 hours in Hong Kong. Within that time, I ate some wonderful street food in Hoi an, experienced the daily life first hand in Saigon with my wife’s family, smiled widely at the sunset over Andaman sea at Railay Beach West, had dim sum in Hong Kong, shot live ammo from an M30 machine gun at the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam, boated down the Mekong River eating mud fish and drinking snake whiskey, and experienced first hand the chaos of street travel in Saigon white-knuckled in a cyclo.

I’ll be sorting through my photos to find the best of the lot, but my experiences and memories will carry me farther than my photos of this trip – I’ll hopefully will be posting these quicker than my wedding albums went up. Much thanks to my wife’s family and all the people that we met that made this trip wonderful. I hope to return sooner than later.

Dec 212010
 

1. TEMPERENCE : Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE : Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER : Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION : Resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY : Make to expense but to do good to others or yourself ie waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY : Lose no time; be always employed in something useful.

7. SINCERITY : Use no hurtfull deceit; think innocently and justly and if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE : Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION : Avoid extremes, forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS : Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. TRANQUILITY : Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY : Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or anothers peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY : Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Note: Franklin concentrated on each subject for a week at a time striving to get better at each. After the thirteenth week he would start again at number one.

Dec 172010
 


The last time I shopped here was for Christmas in 2008, I bought headphones for the iPod. They broke several times and I had the worst time trying to get them returned or replaced. I’ve given up on this store and now this comes out that they’ve been heavily lobbying Albany, NY to get a store in NYC – they had labor Union issues and their PR woes continue. Do you really want this coming to YOUR neighborhood:

Words of Wisdom

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Dec 172010
 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss