Gray Flannel Dwarf


I’m fine, thanks.

I’m back from Hawai’i (not pronounced “How-are-ya”), after six days of blissful, rainless paradise. Well, the blissful part is true, anyway, or just about… it rained most of the time there, but we had plenty to do despite mother nature.

I think I am going to have to break down and get a flickr account and start posting pictures there because we took way too many and I am also not so sure about the pictures script I wrote and have been using on another system lately… I have some concerns about it.

In any case, a quick rundown, as best I can remember…

Thursday: Arrived in Honolulu, hopped in the taxi to The Hilton Hawaiian Village. Checked in, got upgraded to an ocean view room on the top floor of the Rainbow Tower. Relaxed a few, and then made our way down Kalia Road to walk into downtown Waikiki. Lots of uppity shops down there. Prada, Gucci, etc. Earlier in the day, the guy at the concierge desk headed us towards the International Market Place — an obvious tourist trap for tchotchke, it didn’t excite me too much… a lot of those booths are the same things over and over again.

Anyway, while as we made our way there, the sky opened up and it completely poured down in spurts. During relatively dry moments, we made our way back down the street… ate a quick spot of noodle at one of the many Japanese noodle shacks along the way. We ate at Ichiban Ramen [S-something]” near the intersection of Kalakaua and Saratoga. We figured that eight bucks for a big bowl of noodles plus dumplings wasn’t too bad, considering the cost of most restaurants in Honolulu.

As we left the noodle place, the sky opened up again, which meant we waited around for it to settle before hurrying back to the hotel. Got back, had a drink or two at the Shell Bar on the resort, a sorta indoor/outdoor joint, when the sky once again tore open and unleashed quite heavy rains and wind. We decided, at that point, to go back to the room. An interesting note — there was lots of thunder and lightning that night. Apparently such is a rarity in Honolulu, even during heavy rains.

Friday: Was an amazingly terrific day. Rented an umbrella and lounge chairs for a spot on the beach — kinda got suckered into that, as I didn’t realise it was something one paid extra for — and stayed there most of the afternoon to make sure we got our money’s ($50!!) worth. Planned parts of the rest of our stay. Ate Hawaiian buffet at the Rainbow Lanai downstairs… wasn’t really worth it, but I had a 2-for-1 coupon for it, amongst the others, so we went. We had the same sort of food later at a quasi-luau (read on), and it was better there.

They featured an end of week hawaiian celebration/show downstairs by the pool, and they charged $12 for premium seating, i.e., poolside seating. Not figuring it was worth it — as we could see clearly from the path, and look down upon it from our balcony, we kind of just poked around… before the rain started — again.

I am running out of expressions to describe how hard and quickly the rains fell. I have seen some serious raingusts in my time, but this was textbook tropical rain. It was literally coming down sideways. We thought the rain meant no fireworks to end the show — and indeed, the show ended pretty abruptly — but half an hour later we heard loud explosions and went out to the balcony to see a short, but very fierce, fireworks display right out our window.

Saturday: Hiked up Diamond Head, which made for a nice, although quite slick, excursion. The previous night’s rain made the trail quite slippery. It was kind of overcast that day too, which made the scenery okay, but not breathtaking. Afterwards, we (accidentally) went to the Sea Life Park which was kind of campy but had impressive sea life displays. We meant to go to the Aquarium, but figured this would be a reasonably good substitute. Plus, we got a scenic tour of the south-eastern coastline. Pretty tired, we headed back to the hotel. Stopped into the on-site noodle shop for a quick bite, and later on had dinner at Golden Dragon downstairs, another 2-fer. It wasn’t too bad at all. No Sichuan, but not bad for Hong Kong style Chinese food.

There was rain throughout the day, on and off, as well.

Sunday: Got up quite early in the morning to head over for the requisite Pearl Harbor trip. Rainy again, of course. We were in group #2 to go through, which means 150 people were ahead of us in line at around 7:00 AM. Came back, stopped into the pizza joint on-site, and pretty much lounged around for the rest of the day before having dinner at the other, more formal Japanese restaurant on the resort.

Monday: Practically all of Monday was spent out at, or getting to/from, the Polynesian Cultural Center. This was expensive, but well-worth the money. We got the basic Luau package which was more than adequate with regards to food. If you go there, here’s a hint or two:

* If you didn’t get one of the ambassador packages, there’s no guided tour. No big deal if you get the shuttle service, the guide on the bus will probably offer his/her own guided tour for $10. It’s worth it!

* Be sure to catch the Samoan village exhibit, the guy who works that one — at least, the one who was there when we watched — is hilarious, yet the whole bit is quite educational.

* The Latter-Day Saints influence on the place is negligible, but certainly perceptible. Between the multiple references to “90% of the staff being Brigham Young Hawaii” students, and the lack of caffeinated soda during the luau, it becomes pretty obvious. I mean, come on, I can understand no beer or mai tais, but no regular coffee or Diet Coke?

In any case, it was a fantastic day, it’s a great excursion. The food was good — although not what I would call a real Luau in the sense of what one might expect from Hawai’i — and the exhibits are hardly as cheesy as one might expect. Finally, the requisite dancing/hula/fire show at the end of the night was terrific.

Somehow, even though the forecast for Honolulu, at least, said a 100% chance of rain, there was none on the northern tip of the island, where we were. Amazing, it was a beautiful day.

Tuesday: What can I say — rain again! We went downtown to see the Iolani Palace, and came back to take the Atlantis Submarine tour. The rain put a… ahem, damper, on both a little bit, but they were still good… the underwater tour was pretty cool although, in my opinion, you spend as much time seeing not a lot on your side of the ship while the other side gets to see the main attraction for each stop. Maybe it was just the conditions of the water that day.

We ate dinner at the Kobe Japanese steakhouse around the corner, opting for it over the Benihana due to our coupon. It tasted pretty good, but seemed to be an awfully uninspired show. Or maybe i’ve just been to too many Japanese steakhouses.
Wednesday: Not much here. Checked out, went to the International Market Place to get some souvenir shopping done, stopped into the Ichiban Ramen place one more time for a quick bite to eat, and then headed over to the Hilton Grand Vacations place to do their 90 minute tour. It’s kind of like a timesharing thing, but you can use your time anywhere versus just one location, even though you might be deeded at one place. I wasn’t really too interested, but couldn’t resist 30,000 HHonors points as a gift for listening to their spiel. Actually, after seeing the thing, it doesn’t sound like too bad of a programme, but we were in a hurry to catch our taxi, so that was our excuse to get outta there before they tried to sell us on the package any more than they already had.

The rest of the day, and night, and most of the next day when you take into account the timezones, was spent flying back, with a three hour layover at CVG (yuk). Overall, the trip was great, despite all the rain, and we were wishing it wasn’t time to come back home. We mixed enough touristy stuff with out-of-the way stuff that I didn’t feel like a full-on moron. I didn’t get my Hawai’ian shirt because I couldn’t find one that I liked — or at least, not the pattern I liked in my size. If I had to choose a regret, that would be it, but even that’s only a tiny little thing, and most of that is due to my own pickiness.

I should note, at the risk of sounding like a sales pitch, the coupon book we bought at saved us a metric buttload of money on stuff we probably would’ve used and places we probably would’ve visited anyway. A lot of two-fers at restaurants, $36 off at the PCC and 25% off on the Atlantis sub… made those expensive Hawai’ian dinners a little more reasonable and other activities a bit less pocket intensive. Highly recommended. I got this tip from someone’s posting over at Tripadvisor, and I have to agree, it made a lot of sense, even having not used 98% of the coupons.

cswiii @ 10:19 pm



Stupidity is writing a letter to credit bureau(s), disputing issues with certain accounts found on your credit record, presumably because your information got leaked out somewhere…

…only to leave a copy of this letter, with the account numbers partially XXXX’ed out, but containing your full name and SSN in the hotel computer’s recycling bin.

People are funny.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:09 pm


NWA on strike

NWA union members are on strike.

I fly from Raleigh to Detroit every week. The only direct flight is NWA. I recently received a letter in the mail, addressed to “Silver Elite” members. As I just got my SE, I was assuming it was my new FF card or something… and then I read it. It was advance warning about the possible strikes.


I am kind of torn on the whole union thing, and I probably don’t fall along the lines that many on the left. I totally empathise with those looking for better treatment in their respective industries… but I dunno. Working in Detroit, I can’t help but feel that, between my air travel, and the auto industry there, labour unions and industries have a serious disconnect, and I can’t blame it all on the industry giants themselves…

Sometimes I wonder if labour unions have outlived their usefulness, and I am sure that is bordering on heresy to some on the left. I can understand the purposes of unionisation, back in the day. We are all familiar with The Jungle, and we all know about child labour that occurred early on, etc. Unions, then, were useful and perhaps more legitimate.

However, today… I honestly have a hard time being as sympathetic, although if someone can convince me, I am open to it.

Is there someone who can tell me what baggage handlers make? This article says that some start at $8.75/h, and some were, until recently, as high as $20.
Overall, I am estimating $15/h. 15*40*52 is 31k a year, which isn’t mad coin, but hell, inflation hasn’t been that bad in recent years, and this isn’t far from where I was six years ago getting into IT.

…and despite the sometimes long hours I have worked in the past, and am working right now, I have no desire to see IT labour unionisation.

I have an open mind to these things, and am more than willing to listen to union defenders, but I need some tried and true facts, not just the propaganda I see — and it is, what with the bumper stickers and cheesy slogans — on the union billboard on-site.

Just based on my observations, I am currently struggling with having a lot of sympathy with unions much of the time. Maybe someone can change my mind.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:31 am


Talkin’ David versus Goliath Bike Ridin’ Blues

Did a bit of biking today. I have really been enjoying my bike outings lately. I have been riding the Wake County portion of the American Tobacco Trail as of late, but since Chatham County is being lazy in getting their section complete… (in)convenienthly smack in the middle between Wake and Durham counties, it is getting boring riding the same stretch over and over again.

Thus, today, I got on the road, went about 2 miles down to the Log Pond portion of the Carolina Connection trail, which is also encompassed by US Bike Route 1. Rode that for a while and then looped back onto the ATT and rode home from there… probably did between 15 and 20 miles today, so I’m pretty pleased.

It’s always the first 2 miles or so of hills that get me, then I am fine. I would like to eventually be able to bike the Cape Fear Run, which heads into Wilmington. 140 miles or so… I’ll get there eventually.

Anyway, a large portion of my trip encompassed pieces of New Hill, NC, which is currently embroiled in a battle with schoolyard bully Cary, over the latter’s desires to build a waste treatment plant within the town limits. I lost count of how many Stop Cary signs I saw, and saw many other more amusing ones. Two notables:

  • A toilet sitting out near the road with a stuffed bulldog on top of it, accompanying a sign which read something to the effect of, “If you won’t take ours, we won’t take yours”
  • A sign sitting outside an old, vacant gas station (when was the last time you saw gas for $1.37/1.47?) that read, “Save New Hill, don’t “Waste” It!”

In any case, it was a good ride, and even kind of thought provoking. Next time I may try riding down the ATT, connect onto Log Pond and ride into Moncure, NC. I am sure there will be some interesting stories to learn there, too.


Things that get under your skin

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: 1plac·ard
Pronunciation: 'pla-k&rd, -"kärd
Function: noun

(Note that they are using the ampersand to replace a schwa)

Most of us know this. In fact, it never crossed my mind that people might not know how to pronounce “placard”. However, nearly every time I get on my NWA flight, and hear the spiel about it being “federal regulations to obey all posted signs and placards” it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

It’s always “Plah-CARDS” or “Plah…CARDS”. They always put the emphasis on “cards”, and half the time, the flight attendant has this quarter-second pause between the two syllables.

It’s such a little thing to be concerned about, but when you hear it twice a week for twenty weeks, it gets to be a bit annoying.

Because it is so often mispronounced, I am guessing that’s how it’s pronounced in NWA’s training videos.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 2:49 pm


Bleeding on a Jet Plane

USAToday: 4 Major Airlines Increase Fares

Blah. Emphasis mine…

The four biggest U.S. airlines — American, United, Delta and Northwest — raised most airfares Wednesday, citing record-high fuel prices. United raised fares 3% across the board, Northwest raised domestic fares 3%, and American and Delta raised fares $5 each way.

I’m already well-aware of the costs of my plane tickets, and now I’m sure I’ll know even more about it.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 10:38 pm


A moving experience

February 1976: Born in Newport News, Virginia
August 1976 (approx.): moved to an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia
1981 (approx.): moved to a house in Springfield, Virginia
1988 (approx.): moved to a different house in Springfield, Virginia
1994-1998: attended college in Bristol, Tennessee, but still lived, for official purposes, in Springfield house #2
1999: moved to an apartment in Fairfax, Virginia
June 2000: moved to a condo in Sterling, Virginia
November 2003: moved to a townhouse in Sterling, Virginia
February 2005: moving to a house in Apex, North Carolina.

Nervous? Yes. Unsure? Yes.

Fairly certain I made the right decision for us? Yes.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:44 pm


Some Honeymoon Pics

Here are a few of the better, or more interesting, pictures we took while in Curaçao. As always, you can click on the images for larger versions.

Actually these two were taken en route from Miami. I am not actually sure what island it is, although I am guessing it is Haiti/Dominican Republic, unless we somehow flew over Cuba.

The view from the room:

More below, after the cut.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:14 am


Tales from the Class^W Honeymoon: Ole Crooner

I won a t-shirt during a karaoke session on our trip to Curaçao. I won “best act”, but it’s a bit diluted when you consider that only six acts performed, and every person or group got a prize — even if there was a tie for “worst performance”, no kidding.

Anyway, I started the night off with the only Dylan song on the list, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and I sang it true to form. Reflecting upon this, however, I don’t think the DJ dude had heard the real version, because he kept ad-libbing the GnR-esque “yeah yeah yeah” parts in. Meanwhile, I finished the song, and got off stage, not taking that reflection into much consideration.

Well, I decided I wanted to get up there again, but there wasn’t really much in there that interested me. I decided on doing Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”. I gave someone the book, who took it over to enter the CD code, but came back a few minutes later.

“They say the Bob Marley cd isn’t working right now.”
“Uh… ok, let me find something else”.

So I’m flipping through the book, when it hits me:

* I just sang a Dylan song, in true Dylan form, at karaoke
* These employees have probably not heard the Dylan version
* I requested a Bob Marley song
* I am currently sitting on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean.

Why do I get the feeling that they didn’t want to hear a busted-up tune by the revered Marley?

Anyway, I sat there and flipped through the book several times before finally deciding on “Back in the USSR“. Rest assured it wasn’t performed as Dylan would’ve done it.

Good thing they weren’t having any technical difficulties with that disc, though. My next choice was going to be “Baby Got Back”.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 3:01 pm


Returned from Toronto

Had a good ole time up in Toronto over the holiday weekend… as if I ever have a bad time up there.
Arrived in Toronto. Didn’t do much that night, except relax.

Went to the CNE roaming up, down and around the venue.
Apparently we went one day before all the excitement, however — although I do remember standing right next to that ride. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed pricy, considering we had to pay $10 CDN to get in, and then were nickeled and dimed everywhere we went. Did get to introduce her parents to the wonders of international foods — Indian, Greek, Jamaican amongst them — albeit they were your typical, dubious fairground versions.

From a distance away, we could see the more interesting bits of the air show, and I saw the various fighter jet units all over the sky during the entire weekend, regardless of where I stayed.

I tried my hand at a few of the skill games, most notably of which was the one where you try to throw a baseball and bust a plate. Two throws for five bucks; two shattered plates equalled a big prize. My first pitch was a dead ringer, shattered the plate fantastically. My second pitch — well, I can’t believe it. I have little accuracy when it comes to throwing, but unbelieveably, I hit the exact same spot where the previously shattered plate was — so no prize for me.

Finally, we went to one of the few free events, to see the RCMP Musical Ride. It was fairly interesting, although it seemed a bit hokey — but I can’t be so culturally ignorant as to bust on it. The RCMP are an indispensable bit of Canadian culture. I guess it was just the music that bugged me. Other than that, the precision involved w/ the horse processions reminded me at least somewhat of the US Army Drill Team.

I got to grill for about 20 or so family members, which was, to date, my most intense venture yet at grilling. Grilled three pork loins in a BBQ sauce; it was mostly the same sauce I used in the past, but wasn’t quite as good this time around. I also grilled six chicken breasts in a simple marinade that was mostly cheap red wine and soy sauce. On top of that, I grilled three top roasts and attempted to do them in something of a Jamaican style, but they turned out a bit bland… mostly though, in my mind anyway, because one of the younger faces in the crowd would’ve refused to eat anything w/ the slightest bit of heat to it.

Finally, I grilled some stuffed tomatoes (put the guts in a bowl; add various italian seasonings, breadcrumbs, and parmesean or asiago or romano; drop a chunk of mozarella in to the tomato and re-fill them; sprinkle the top w/ more asiago) and some garlic (chop off the top; drizzle with olive oil and add basil, oregano and a bit of salt). In all, the meal was pretty good, along with what everyone else brought… although I am still disappointed in the beef.

Monday was a bit of downtime. We went to go see Vanity Fair which I really can’t say impressed me too much, although to be… uh, fair, I was kind of drowsy about 1/3 of the way through it (probably due to the several glasses of caribou — no, not the meat, but rather some strong, Quebecois port wine and alcohol concoction — that I had w/ her dad at lunch). A lot of the guys looked a lot alike, and I just generally had a hard time following it, although the story, in my mind, wasn’t too interesting… it just wasn’t my cuppa.

Afterwards, we went to the always tasty Margarita’s for dinner to introduce her parents to yet more foods — this time it was chorizo chimichanga, steak tacos and chicken fajitas. The fried ice cream left something to be desired, however — it seemed a bit… stale? Dunno, but the outside was kinda chewy, not even reasonably crispy as I’d expected.

Departed Toronto. Taxi was running late to the airport, the line at the United desk was unbearable, and the US Customs and Immigration lines were terrible, although they let me cut ahead since I had a 10:20 AM flight.

That is, my flight was supposed to be at 10:20.

I huff it and puff it down to the gate w/ about thirty minutes to spare, knowing that they normally start to board flights 20-30 minutes beforehand. I get down there to Gate T, however.. and there is no status on the screen and no one at the desk. 10:00 rolls around, 10:10… no one. Finally, I query someone doing security and they told me they just found out that the flight was delayed. Mechanical problems in the flight departing from Dulles or something.

As it turned out — or what they told us — someone had mistakenly turned on the heat, rather than the AC in the cabin, and they had to de-board and let the cabin cool on its own accord. However, that may or may not explain what they told us, upon boarding, that the auxiliary engine was not working, and therefore we would not have AC before takeoff or after landing.

In any case, our flight was supposed to depart at around 12:45, and I guess we boarded around that point, but I dozed off shortly thereafter, but I’m guessing — and United’s website seemed to confirm this — that we didn’t leave until after 1:30, because I didn’t arrive at IAD until nearly 3:00.

Interesting observations on my way back.
* Guy sitting in the lobby whose otherwise short hair had a long strand a la one of Lucas’ jedi knights. My first judgement was to assume he was some sort of sci-fi geek, but I decided I’d better not be so rash as to assume this; perhaps there was some actual religious or cultural meaning to it, and that it just resembled the jedi hairpiece…. and then I saw his book. He was reading Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.

Yep, sci-fi geek.

* As we approached landing, I was looking down at the busy suburban streets. As we passed over an intersection, I noticed that there were about four or five vehicles all lining up at a light — and all the cars were red.

* On the shuttle back to the main terminal, I saw some sort of letter callsign/identification/something on the side of a larger jet… I think it was Air Lingus. Anyway, the callsign was almost very close to dubious: “I-DEID”

In any event, it was a busy day… but a shutout in kickball was a good capstone, busted-up legs notwithstanding.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 12:16 am



Good Luck, Independence Air… glad to see everything seemed to go without a hitch today! You’re gonna face a lot of challenges in coming months — mostly from large, troubled airlines who would rather squeeze you out of business than change their business model from an age-old, consistently failing, government bailout model. Regardless, I’ve got high hopes, and wish you the best.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 8:43 pm


Back from old T.O.

Returned from Toronto last night, barely escaping, it seems, the 10cm of snow/ice they were expecting to start yesterday afternoon. All in all, it was nice up there – probably about 50-55ºF until the day I left, where it dipped to freezing.

We saw two movies… Cold Mountain, which was pretty good, and Love, Actually which wasn’t bad.. er… actually. The former film was quite nice, but I don’t want to talk a lot about it, should people decide they want to catch it. I did not at all realise that Natalie Portman was the one who played “Sara”, however, didn’t even notice that at all until I read it in an article after getting home.

The latter movie was pretty good for about two-thirds of the film, until it boiled down into the expected sappy mess, but the overall british-ness about it was terrific. The guy who plays “Tim” in The Office is in this film, and just about every scene containing him is quite funny, albeit for a very pointed reason. I wish we could’ve seen more of him in the film. Finally, while most of this movie’s plot took place in Britain, the target of the film was very obviously an American one, based on the numerous references to a “Merry”, rather than a “Happy” Christmas.

Food was terrific.. we did Chinese Hot Pot over New Years at the house of some of her family, and I always love that. We also went out to a fancy, shmancy Chinese restaurant near Richmond Hill or something, which came out to about $300 CDN for a few dishes that fed the entire family of 13 people or so. It wasn’t bad — and who am I to judge, considering it’s a fave of a bunch of my future Chinese relatives — but with the exception of a few of the dishes, I feel I’ve had better.

We took the mandatory trip or two to Harvey’s, which is probably one of my favourite fast food places anymore… wish we had them down here. We also went to what is quickly becoming my favourite eatery in Toronto, The Korean Grill House. Been there twice now, the first time being shortly after it opened sometime mid-2003. Tell you what, I like Malibu Grill and all, down here, when I want my meat fix, but for $12.95 CDN for all-you-can-eat, Korean Grill knocks the pants off of Malibu… and tastes a lot better, too.

Finally, we also ate a a little Mexican place whose name escapes me, but which was quite tasty, and quite conveniently located — right near my fiance’s apartment. She may complain about her “shabby little home”, but I think she’s in a prime location, if you ask me. Right across the street from a little strip of restaurants and shops which kind of have that (Virginia) Richmond-esque, “Strawberry Street” feel to them, albeit quite a bit more ethnically diverse.

I’ve said it like ten-billion times before, but Toronto is such a fantastic city…

Tags: , — cswiii @ 9:52 am


Some Toronto thoughts.

I may add to these as I remember them.

* Mamma Mia! is a really, really fun musical. You should go see it if you get the chance. I don’t particularly like much disco, but the way this was done was both unique and great.

* Dining at the CN Tower is okay; The food is decent, but not worth the price — good thing the seats came as part of a tourism package.

* The Queens Quay Il Fornello makes pretty good stone-oven pizzas, but their service leaves a fair bit to be desired.

* The new Korean bbq buffet place near Queen and University (or McCaul?) is fantastic.

* And finally… seeing a Chinese restaurant with a funny name (“HO KING“), made me giggle a bit. Seeing a quite (obviously) manly transvestite in a sorta slutty get-up, with hot pants and ‘revealing’ tank top made me chortle a bit. But seeing said transvestite leaving said Chinese restaurant was tremendously amusing.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:48 pm


So, it has been bitter

So, it has been bitter cold here in Toronto, the whole time I’ve been around. However, it seems all my fellow DC suburbanites are in for like a foot of snow over the next 36-48 hours.

Something is funny about that.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:25 pm


Went to “La Bodega” for

Went to “La Bodega” for dinner tonight, here in Toronto. Herbed goat cheese, mushrooms and red wine pear for appetizer, bordeaux and filet mignon in cognac sauce for dinner, and coffee/creme brulee for dessert… and a big surprise “happy birthday” dinner out of it all.

One of the best meals of my life, I think. I mean, the quality compared to other great place I’ve visited before, but just the environment, the meal, everything… now I know what Anthony Bourdain was seeking.

I love this city.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:51 pm


I’m back….

I didn’t post it here because I was too lazy to make special “friends” groups, and thus couldn’t post it in any way shape or form, without giving away the secret…

Friday morning, I left from Reagan National Airport to Toronto. Why’d I head up there? Because it was chinchin‘s birthday today (Sunday), and I wanted to give her the best birthday gift and weekend ever.

In any case, I arrived in Toronto pretty darn early — I got to the airport very much ahead of schedule, and thus got to leave two flights early. Arrived, navigated my way west-to-east across the city on an amalgam of transportation modes: bus, train, foot, to my hotel room.

From there, I got my stuff ready — but here it was, around 1.30, and she wouldn’t be off work till much later! So I hoofed it around the city… it’s amazing how clear all the sites were in my memory, and how easy it was to find my way from my hotel on Ryerson and Queen, to the intersection of College and Yonge, based solely on visual cues that correlated with mental notes.

Roamed around. Stopped into a cigar shop, a few drug stores, and into a Pizza Pizza and had… a stuffed burger (ha ha, fooled you!).

Had a few coffees throughout the day, each time correlating with different Second Cup stops, and each involving a phone call with her, taling about the boring “meetings” etc., which were my excuse as to why I wasn’t online on a work day ;).

Rain poured down Friday afternoon, so I dodged heavy pockets of rain, using carefully timed hops across the streets when traffic lights permitted. Made it to her apt., the same apt. where her cousin lives. The same apt. where they were going to get together for a “girls’ night out”. However, she was the only one in the family that didn’t know I was arriving.

Needless to say, the rest of the weekend was fun. Saturday involved a trip with the family out to a sichuan hot pot restaurant, which, after the beijing trip, is by far one of my favourite Chinese dishes these days. Headed back to DC today, after dealing with some intense security checkpoints in Toronto.

It was such a good time, so much fun, and so good to see her so happy.

And I’m happy too :)

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 10:45 pm


ni hao from america

i have returned to DC, many many hours after leaving Beijing. What a distance that is.

I have a lot of stuff to post about the Beijing Experience, but I’m not sure how to arrange it exactly. I guess I should transfer the journal stuff here, and then make a photo journal on my website, with captions, etc. I dunno. I am too tired to think about the details.

I really should learn how to mount my cam as a USB device on the linux box. That would sufficiently motivate me to fix all the pictures.

I need some western food. Loved every bit of the food in China — well, almost every bit — but I have a sweet pork hangover, now. I do know, however, that there’s a new pizza place nearby, that’s open till 4.00 AM on the weekends…

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 1:06 am


ni hao from beijing

Slow modem (28.8) + no graphics program = pictures small in quantity and large in size (400k+) uploaded thus far. Enjoy the meager selection here.

P.S. I’m We’re having a great time :)

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 5:39 pm


Is it just me, or

Is it just me, or is Toronto’s “Famous Players Paramount” the absolute coolest theatre, ever?

Oh yeah, and Ocean’s 11 was pretty good, too.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 7:52 pm


Final Toronto updates and observations


* She got me the watch pictured above. I had to modify the image — there is something wrong with the one on their website… all of the orange portions there appear yellow. I felt kinda bad at first because I didn’t want her to spend that kind of money on me, but she got a really, really good deal on it. And I suppose it’s the first nice watch I’ve owned. I must admit, I like it a lot.

* Watched some curling bits on TV. I kinda got into it, even though I didn’t quite understand the scoring — I’ll have to read up on that. It’s so curious, but watching the men’s Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, it was amazing to see the sheer accuracy that some of these guys have. Also, I think that the guys roaring, “harder! harrr-derrrr!” to the others who have the brushes… it’s satisfying in some weird, viking sorta way.

* You know you’re in Canada and not the U.S., when you see liquor commercials on TV. Some of these were fun. Made me wish the ban on liquor ads here (albeit self-imposed, I think) didn’t exist.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 11:23 am
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