|On our recent trip to Hawaii (thank you Wheel of Fortune!), Della and I had enough great food related experiences that I figured it deserved its own post. From new I've-never-even-heard-of-that fruits to delicious all-you-can-eat luau smorgasbord, it was a treat.
The logical place to start is at the farmers market, of which there seem to be lots of on almost any given day of the week. But somewhat to our surprise, of the 3-ish markets we went to, we weren't blown away by the selection. We did manage to score some star fruit and Della found a giant avocado*, but otherwise I guess there wasn't much in season. Luckily for us, however, a friend scoured the markets and put together a local fruits tasting that we enjoyed on the beach as the sun went down. The new fruits included lilikoi, chico sapote, dragon fruit, and a couple others I totally forget the name of. Super yum!
Then, of course, there were the coconuts. I first had a go at my traditional blood, sweat, and tears way of opening one using only my wit, my bare hands, and a conveniently sharp rock (see how-to here). Later I tried a new technique that I had heard about which I shall call smashy-smashy. Besides losing the delicious water inside, the smashy-smashy technique works amazingly and I might never go back*.
Continuing with the theme of culinary adventurousness, I stumbled across a uniquely Hawaiian dish called loco moco. After hearing the description, I couldn't pass it up: a huge pile of rice covered with 2 eggs, spam, and all drenched in gravy. Um, yes. The verdict ended up being meh on account of the gravy tasting like it was from a mix and the rice to everything else ratio being a bit high. But I'm glad I had a go!
Lastly, fittingly, comes dessert. I tried a shave ice with ice cream inside, which was quite nice. And our wonderful host* made us a delicious no-bake mamey sapote pie on macadamia nut/coconut date crust. But just as often as the good stuff, it was gas station ice cream and fast food milk shakes. After all, it's vacation and sometimes you just need some sugar.
Yep, it's fair to say the culinary portion of our trip was a success. Exposure to new eats has not only expanded my palate, it has expanded my waist line as well.
|Monday March 2 2015||File under: travel, hawaii|
Hawaii is fun. Look at all the fun we are having. Fun fun fun!*
|Monday February 23 2015||File under: travel, hawaii|
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|It's that time again—to reluctantly and hastily dash off a few Roses are Red poems for that special someone. Well, that special someone for me is you, dear reader. So here are a few hastily dashed off poems to celebrate year number 9(!) of the Blog du Wren Roses Are Red poetry slam. Please leave your contributions in the comments below. Or, if you're not feeling the poetry bug, have a read back at the previous years ('14', '13, '12, '11, '10, '09, '08, '07)
|Friday February 13 2015||File under: poetry, holidays|
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|Yesterday (103 days after air date, 17 days ahead of schedule) I got my check from Wheel of Fortune. After California State income tax (7%) and deducting the "value"* of the Hawaii trip (including $1000 spending money to cover meals*, etc.), the grand total came to $37,689. More taxes will be deducted when I file for 2015, but the amount is yet to be seen.
Don't let my focus on the details lead you astray: I'm pumped. This is huge. And while the lasting impression of my whole Wheel experience will be one of the excitement, etc., the money means a lot as well. We're talking 3 years' salary, give or take. So please don't think I'm not stoked.
But there is some bitter-sweetness to it all. This check represents one of the last things to be delivered from this experience of a lifetime which has spanned almost a whole year. There was the invitation to try out, then the tryout, then hearing I got on, then waiting for my taping date, then doing the taping, then the air date, then getting my Hawaii trip dates, then getting my Hawaii spending money check, and now the big check. All that's left is the trip to Hawaii (Della and I leave next week.) It's been one exciting thing after another and now it is all coming to an end.
So what did I do to celebrate my nouveau riche status? After considering splurging on a fancy lunch out, I remember I had ramen and cereal at home so did that instead. I guess I'm a man of simple tastes. I'm sure Della and I will do something fun to celebrate (can anyone say Red Lobster?), but for now, the check went in the bank* and life continues as normal—that is to say awesomely.
|Wednesday February 11 2015||File under: wheel, misc|
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|My dad recently celebrated his 75th birthday. By all measures, that's quite a cause for celebration. Us kids tried to come up with a special gift to fit the occasion. What we came up with was this—a reenactment of some goofy picture of us as children. And we may not have nailed it well as we might have, I think it turned out pretty dang neat. Hopefully he thought so as well.
The process behind re-staging a photo was more involved than I originally thought. The hardest part, it turned out, was finding the right photo. When selecting a photo, we looked for criteria such as background, distinction, accessories, and more. And so many of the photos to be considered seemed to have either distinct backgrounds or accessories/costumes that would be quite hard to duplicate (there were lots of good Halloween costume photos, for example).
Once the photo was chosen, the rest was easy-ish. A trip to the Goodwill to look for costumes, scouting shoot locations, and then post processing (to give it that 1985 fade).
I look forward to trying this out again, and will actively keep an eye out for any photos that might totally fit the bill. But in the meantime, I'm stoked with how this one turned out and was happy to have the opportunity to do it.
|Thursday January 29 2015||File under: pics, family|
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|Longtime BdW friend and once Brothers Root blogger Andrew is involved in some pretty exciting stuff I wanted to share about. He and his buddy have started a natural gum company called Green Tree Gum Co. The gum is made without the sketchy ingredients in standard gum (sorbitol, butylated hydroxytoluene, baby seal tears, etc.), instead using all natural ingredients to achieve a cleaner, simpler chew.
And while the existence of such a product is exciting in its own right, what has really been interesting for me has been being privy to the process of starting a business and a product from the ground up. From packaging, distribution, branding, website, and everything else, hearing about what it takes to get an endeavor like this going is just plan neat.
What's that? You're sold. Now you just want to go buy some for yourself? Well far be it from me to stop you. Head on over to their online shop and get yourself some. Or, if you are in the Portland area, find some at your local retailer.
If you're looking to support this awesome endeavor more, you might even head on over to their facebook page and like them. But go buy some gum first. Tell him BdW sent you.
|Saturday January 24 2015||File under: misc, food|
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|Yeehaw! I'm super stoked to announce the publication of my second crossword puzzle! Rather than the traditional newspaper crossword, this one is written for a mug produced by the good folks over at Unemployed Philosophers Guild. The way it works is this: they made a mug with a static crossword grid on it. Every month, they produce a new puzzle that fits that grid. Mug owners download the new set of clues and solve each month's puzzle, right on the mug!
Creating a puzzle for a predetermined grid (esp. one of such non-standard dimensions) was a new challenge for me. To make it even more difficult, the editor requested a quote based puzzle. To find a popular quote that fit the very specific enumeration of the grid, I first tried just pouring through quotes. After my eyes could stand it no longer, I wrote a computer program to check quotes if they could fit*. Finally I found one and wrote the puzzle around it. While the quote might not be the most famous or moving one in the world, the grid allowed for all sorts of interesting fill which made the puzzle turn out great, IMO.
So how can you do the puzzle? Well, you could always head over to UPG and order yourself a mug (or check out their other clever wares). If your mug drawer is full up, then I suppose you could just download a printable version here.
And, for posterity, here's a screenshot of the puzzle on their website (complete with ridiculous bio) in case the internet ever dissolves and BdW is the only site left.
(The post about my first published puzzle, and the long road to publication, can be found here)
|Sunday January 18 2015||File under: games, crosswords|
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|Twas the night before Christmas
And all through Sin City
The lights were aglow
Making everything look pretty
The bright neon greens
And sultry neon reds
Could almost be seen as
A tree, Della said
The fountains at Bellagio
And the tower high above Paris
Miss Liberty at New York new York
And the giant new wheel of ferris
But for Vegas this is standard
Every night here is glitzy
After all that's why people come here
To feel a tad ritzy
But not me and Della
Shows are our reason
For coming to this place
This holiday season
So we did our best
And saw three shows just today
We saw a juggler, we saw Mac King
We saw a Cirque du Soleil
But Vegas has more than
shows big and small
Sometimes you'll end up doing
Something you didn't expect to at all
We got roped into sitting
through a timeshare man's pitch
And they almost convinced
Til we remembered we're not rich
But the swag that we got
Has added to our fun
Free lunch and a free show
And some cash (not a ton)
We packed it quite full
This Christmas Eve day
But tomorrow will* be fuller
Cause we're hitting the buffet
Until then we rest
On our giant hotel bed
While visions of adventures
Dance in our heads
I think about Santa
As I lay my head and retire
I don't think he'll visit
But I've got all I desire
Good family, good friends
And my partner I adore
Good health and good home
Who could ask for much more
So I drift off to dreamland
And its warm soft embrace
Reflecting on my full life
With a smile on my face
And just as I've ended
The 6 previous 'Twas posts'07, '08, '09, '11, '12, '13
I offer up my wishes
For my friends coast to coast
May your holiday be
A day filled up with delight
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night!
|Thursday December 25 2014||File under: holidays, poem|
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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
|Tuesday December 23 2014||File under: holidays|
|The Caribbean is synonymous with fun in the sun. And fun in the sun is synonymous with great beaches. So while I'm not generally a beach guy, I did make a point while in the DR to check out as many beaches as I could. By beach number 5 or so, I was starting to come around: beach time ain't half bad.
The things I look for in a beach are 1) uncrowdedness 2) ample availability of shade and 3) absence of hustle (vendors insisting you "just look" at their wares, restaurants with pumping beats to supposedly entice you in, etc.) After these things comes the more generally accepted criteria of sand quality, swimability, etc. And while I didn't find my perfect beach by any means, each one I got to check out has its charms.
I found one secluded enough that with a 5 minute walk down the beach, I was totally alone*. Then, while maybe not the best for swimming or laying out, in a little town called Las Galeras, the beach felt very traditional and unexploited. I did a bit of laying out and reading (after all, what's time on the beach without the reading of a mindless novel), but mostly I stayed active.
Among the land of the mega-resorts (a.k.a. Punta Cana), I walked the length of the beach and back (it counts as my exercise for the day and a cultural experience!) seeing how the true vactioners do the beach. In the hippie(-ish) town of Cabarete, I found some folks to juggle with which caught the attention of some of the passers by. A lady from a nearby resort asked if she could film me to post on their facebook page. Of course I obliged (and then went and stole the video for this here blog :-))
A while I missed some of the reportedly best beaches of the country and skipped out on some of the more stereotypical beach activities, I'm pleased with my beach time. You could even say I more than pleased. I was pretty dang happy.
|Thursday December 18 2014||File under: travel, Dominican Republic|
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