Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

Upon arriving home from Australia, all tan and warm, not only am I greeted by snow/slush/rain, but also a padlock on the door of one of my favorite neighborhood cafes. Munch Cafe, a recent press darling in Time Out and AM New York, is gone. According to the owner, flooding that remained unaddressed by the co-op board or the building managing agent forced the place to shutter. While service was a tad slow, it made damn good coffee and was very friendly. I do hope it reopens again somewhere else on Yellowstone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sydney vs. Melbourne

To an outsider, it seems that there is a pretty strong rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Residents I met in both towns enjoyed slagging off the other city. I'm not sure there is a similar tension in the US between LA and NYC. To clear the air for those of you who have never even set foot on the great southern land, here are my unbiased observations. Please note I have spent a combined total of 14 weeks in Sydney while only 3 days in Melbourne.

Overall, Aussies are quite laidback, very west coast without much of the flakiness. Sydney definitely seems exciting yet chill (SoCal) while Melbourne was more cool and bustling (European?) People seemed to move around a bit faster in the main business district, akin to what I'm used to in New York, whereas Sydney's CBD can be crowded but still not as fast-paced.

Four seasons in one day in Melbourne? Sydney wins this hands-down, although the weather until around the time I left was pretty bleak for the time of year. I also much preferred the beaches in Sydney to the one I trekked to in Melbourne (St. Kilda).

This one is a tough call. One of the major points of contention between residents of these two locales is whose chow is better. I have eaten at tons of restaurants in Sydney, but much fewer in Melbourne, so it's hard for me to compare. Coffee is superb in both places, it kicks the ass of any Starbucks. No wonder they are all shuttering throughout Oz.

Melbourne takes this one. Besides the fact that most of the people I talked to in Sydney reminisced about theatergoing in Melbourne, the street art is amazing. You can wander the laneways and find great surprises around every corner. A fave of mine is in what I think is Union Alley, where above the grafitti are a series of chimes that ring at random depending on the wind. Sydney is too spiffy to pull that off.

I knew you were going to ask. The views are great in both cities. To be brutally honest, men in Sydney are all talk and no walk and my hunting expeditions for two-legged animals left me very disappointed. Melbournians, on the other hand, seemed much better at delivering the goods.

In short? I'd visit both cities again, for different reasons. My first Australian love is Sydney, and nothing beats being thisclose to some of the best beaches and outdoor activities in the world. Melbourne is still unexplored territory for me, and I'd love to go back and uncover more of its rich heritage (and maybe some of the locals).

I'm really going to miss this place :'(

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Surf's Up

You might think I'm crazy, but today I took surfing lessons. It's quite tricky, especially when the waves just aren't very high. However, I managed to get enough practice to stand on the board and ride it all the way to the shore. Woo hoo! It's such a rush, I'm hooked!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It's amazing how quickly things can change. Who knew I'd be back in Oz in time for the good weather? Economic conditions notwithstanding, there's heaps to do here and not much going on back home. It's been a bit windy and rainy, but not that I'm complaining, I'll take 60 degree weather over 30-degree (Fahrenheit) any day :).

Given my freedom, naturally I have been taking a lot of flak about meeting an Aussie and, at the very least, having a good roll. Even a woman I met on a flight a little while ago said something along the lines of, "Y'know, you're going to meet someone there and get married and maybe not come back to the States." As I told her, to quote my mum, from her lips to God's ears. Sydney is a great place for this type of quest, as there are friggin smoking hot men everywhere, all different types. So, of course, whose eye do I catch but a bloke ... in town on business ... from Toronto. Well, it's a start.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who's Second-Class Now?

To those of you in finance who would pooh-pooh my "second-class, support staff" IT management job:

F*ck you very much for entangling every bank in derivatives, mortgage securities, credit default swaps, naked short sells, and God knows what else you probably didn't even understand. As a result, you have proceeded to grind almost every country's economy (except Iraq's) to a halt, reduce the stock exchanges to amusement park rides, and ensure that thousands of baby-boomers now have to work at least five more years before retiring. Hope you enjoyed your black cars, "team-building conferences" in posh locales, and bottle service while they lasted. Do you sweat out every arrival praying the building security are not waiting to escort you right back out? Even worse, how does it feel to wait for your paltry unemployment check (relative to your bloated salary) while you search for yet another soul-sucking produce-nothing job? Sorry that the rest of the population isn't commiserating with you. By the by, I still have my "second-class" job, at the same salary, and I'm headed to sunnier climes for an undefined period of time on business.

Karma's a bitch, ain't it?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Would You Let This Guy Adjust Your Back?

What's wrong with this picture?

... being fluent in Spanish, he traveled to Brazil; giving the gift of chiropractic to hundreds of underprivileged people.

a) Underprivileged people may need medicine and clean water more than spine adjustments.
b) They speak Portuguese in Brazil.
c) All of the above

Still can't believe I actually dated this friggin dumbass for as long as I did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Avoid Sounding Like a Pretentious Ass About Books

Generally, I find people who overuse big words to be annoying and arrogant. It would be a fun game to scream really loud every time someone finds a large word in an article or in a speech, like during Pee Wee's Playhouse. Even though this posting is six months old, it still resonates (oops! did I use a big word? AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!), especially because I read quite a bit, and I often read reviews on books before I crack them open.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Those Who Ignore HIstory Are Doomed to Repeat It -Santayana

So I started talking to someone new. Does this sound familiar?

- (half-Italian, half-)Jewish
- grew up in Bergen County (but moved to FL for high school)
- Ivy grad (not Cornell)
- works for a hedge fund

What in the name of God am I doing?!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say It Ain't So!

Scrabulous has been shut down on Facebook. Apparently the decision was from the Scrabulous camp, not Facebook. Down with Hasbro!!! Sniff sniff, one less way to procrastinate...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prick Alert: SF Bay Area

Is this guy for real? I received the initial MP3 whose friend is a friend of Olga. The YouTube video that goes along with the voicemail is amusing. If this is what I have to look forward to in the world of dating, I'm entering a convent.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Like You Just The Way You Are

Open Letter to Ivanka Trump

Dear Ivanka,

What are you thinking, girl? Convert to Orthodox Judaism?! What does your dad have to say about this? I have nothing against Judaism or any faith for that matter, but you should think twice about taking such a big step as taking on another religion. As someone who has been in a few interfaith relationships, as well as having seen the relative success of multi-faith relationships versus ones where a partner converts, I discourage you for the following reasons:

  • You will be living a lie. Unless you come to a faith of your own volition and belief, you are not being true to yourself and what you really feel.
  • The uber-righteous will never accept your conversion and recognize you as a full-fledged member of the "tribe". In countries where Islam and sharia law are observed, women who convert and then divorce their husbands are cast out of the family and lose custody of their children altogether. This applies particularly in communities where your faith is part of your genealogical heritage. In fact, some religions do not allow or recognize converts and shun those who marry them. I doubt your Kushner would-be in-laws would do this, but what about the broader congregation?
  • Children need examples of "different" people getting along. There is so much hatred and bloodshed over which book to accept as the ultimate word of God. Set an example for your progeny. Instead of falling in line and being like Daddy, stick to your roots and focus on the shared core values that embody decent human beings. Expose them to two philosophies. Allowing them to think for themselves will empower them to be more critical as they grow up.
  • What about Christmas?! Granted, I am not a huge fan of the commercialism and pressure around the holidays, I enjoy decorating and sharing meals with my family and loved ones. Christmas can be a huge sticking point with non-Christians because of the drive to have an identity that doesn't revolve around Santa and the baby Jesus. Some people don't care and enjoy celebrating it, but others can be militantly opposed to any expression of holiday cheer.
  • Is Jared Kushner worth it? Really, you've already broken up once for whatever reason. In my opinion, changing who you are for a spouse can cause resentment down the track. There are millions of heterosexual men who would have you just as you are. If he's not brave enough to be with you as-is, he sucks, move on.

Think about it sweetie. You already own half the world, you deserve the best.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Au Revoir

In less than a week, a New York institution that still has packed tables will shutter its doors. It makes me feel so bad that this is the first and last time I will ever eat here. What's worse is, it closes for good on my birthday. I'm really disappointed that Florent's landlord thinks that what the Meat Packing District really needs is more luxury housing/dining/shopping. I say, kick out the designers and bring back the trannies and the leather bars.

New York is slowly but surely losing its edge. To some degree, it still exists in the outer boroughs, but they are bulldozing anything with character there too to put up multi-family McMansions and hair salons. I hate to say it, but it may be time for me to move on to a place that isn't afraid, is proud even, to be a little bit gritty and unpolished.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Some of you may think it's nuts to pay four-digit prices on a plane fare at the last minute to go to Istanbul for less than a week. I don't care. This had to be one of the best trips I've ever taken. Some people may buy themselves a pair of shoes or earrings as a birthday present to themselves, but I think this has any material object beat. Three days was enough time to march around town and see pretty much everything notable, historic, and fun. The city has a good mix of old world charm, culture, great food, nice scenery, and activity. I wore a headscarf in the Blue Mosque out of respect, and it didn't feel too weird. In fact, I look kinda cute in an innocent, look-but-don't-touch, traditional sorta way. Plus, timing it to see Turkey beat Croatia in the UEFA quarterfinals was priceless. My former manager, who happens to be ex-military, almost ran for cover at the near-riot that broke out in Sultanahmet, but I lapped it up like all the raki I drank.

There was a lot of learning and observing. Nargile is the Turkish word for hookah. Churches and synagogues are crammed between buidlings and fenced in, while mosques sprawl with minarets reaching towards the heavens - very different than how houses of worship, particularly cathedrals, are constructed further west. Next time I go to a meyhane, I will not overdose on cold mezze so I can enjoy the hot fish and seafood. Even in Paris, I learned that I really really REALLY like macarons.

This was the first time I felt a thorough sense of relief and gratitude that I was no longer with J. If I had proposed this trip, he most likely would have initially indicated interest, then later recanted at the last minute, which either would have me resent him for my staying home or feeling guilty for leaving him behind. Instead, I felt free and light and happy, something that has eluded me for a bit, and it gave me a complete sense of being over him. Now my mission is to find someone to join me on one of these spontaneous junkets, among other things. In that arena, I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Observations on Toronto

This trip was rough hours-wise (I broke my personal record of latest departure time - it is now 5:30am the following day), but not as hard emotionally as previous projects. I did a lot of power walking around the city to relieve stress and saw a good portion of it. As clean and friendly and nice as it is, it reminds me too much of New York, particularly the downtown area. However, I did enjoy the lower height of buildings in the areas surrounding the central business district. It's refreshing to get sunlight in an urban area.

The hot dog stands are better than NYC. Where else can you pick from several different types of encased meat, have it grilled to order, and dress it with umpteen different condiments yourself? Not bad.

My coworker will tell this story until the day I die: we are walking down Queen St W (think East Village St. Marks Pl as it fades from the perky gentrified area near Third Ave into the still-cess pool of Avenue D), I am telling M a story when a busker points at me and screams, "Fuck you!" Without missing a beat, I glare back at him and respond "No, fuck you too!" and continue telling the story without missing a beat. M was a bit shocked and awed at my snappy, forceful comeback.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

I am in Toronto for the next nine days for work. Which means I am for all intents and purposes falling off the face of the earth for a week and a half.

Last night was an office-wide party. I specifically scheduled my trip to Canada so that I would get to cut the rug with my coworkers. We started a count of the number of times the presenter said 'Click again' since the handheld presentation controller broke. One of my friends knocked my plate of food against my Calvin Klein jacket, started to apologize, and then saw me and said, "Oh it's just you."

Updates on my travels around TO in a few days...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Frat House Part 2

Having never ventured to Fire Island, I thought it would be fun to check it out for the day. My friends D and R went for the weekend, but my initial plan was to take the 1am ferry back. They actually charge double for it, perhaps to discourage all the drunks from boarding.

We went to the Ocean Bay Park part of the island. I knew there was a "gay" part and a family part, but we ended up on the section where people refuse to let go of the good-ol' college days. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but I feel like I've moved on from raging frat parties, late-night pizza, and passing out in a pool of vomit.

While there, who do I run into but M. I've left out much of my dating adventures to maintain some privacy and mystery, but this is a doozy worth laughing about. Long story short, he was a rebound. We met through a mutual friend who happens to be the greatest wingman ever. Things got very intense and romantic immediately, but then fizzled out just as fast. With the understading that the economy sucks and finance dudes are living paycheck to paycheck, I have no patience for people who do not make any effort to communicate. Fast forward a few months, and I run into him poolside at the Fire Island Hotel. After wishing him happy birthday, my friends and I get dinner and hang with friends. Later on, I see him out at the bars, where he immediately latches onto me like a leech in a swimming hole. Did I mention I'm over making out in the middle of a sticky-floored bar? I try to move to the more romantic, private beach, and then the hemming and hawing starts. "I need to take off my shoes...I need the room key ... where's my friend? The innkeeper is the coolest woman ever!!!" Yawn. I start talking to his friend, another i-banker douchebag who thinks he's the greatest thing to happen to humanity because he moves large quantities of cash (none his own) around. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn. All of a sudden, M darts out of the bar and takes off down the street. So let me get this straight, boy likes girl. Girl is marginally interested in boy. Girl asks boy to take walk for more fun, and boy runs away. What's wrong with this picture? By the time I leave the bar baffled and amused at the same time, my watch reads 2:30am. F*ck.

My neck is now sore from crashing on D and R's hotel couch for 4 hours and then catching the 7:45am ferry to Bayshore and driving back for brunch at Paradou with my two fab girlfriends. Brunch was awesome tho and well worth the early call. Now to relax for the rest of the weekend

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Not much to say about Helsinki. It is a safe, quiet, clean, polite, well-organized city, but after traveling through Russia, we were a bit, um, bored. It didn't help that we passed out for most of Sunday from sheer exhaustion, but most museums were closed yesterday. In fact, when we woke up on Sunday, most everything was closed. My aunt recommended two restaurants, and we made it to one of them.

Who knew there is a whole orchestra devoted to balalaika? My mom would love this.

After 10 days of running running running, I am ready to come home.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I can't believe the tour is over already. It seems like it's been such a short time here, too short in fact. Out of all the cities, I think Moscow has been my favorite. Granted it is super-crowded (over 10 million people) and congested (there are now 5 million cars, as opposed to 300,000 about 10 years ago), there is so much vibrance and energy that radiates throughout the whole city. For better or for worse, gangster capitalism has revived the city but has also made it the most expensive city in the world.

Yes it's not as pretty as St. Pete's, and the mix of architecture ranges from gorgeous to "functional". I actually appreciate the variety and the history it records, like rings on a tree. Yes, it takes hours to cross the city. I fell in love the cleanliness and the elegance of the metro, with chandeliers and marble. Standing in the middle of Red Square, where so many have walked before me, was a really phenomenal moment. Though I didn't get to see Lenin, GUM was awesome. Where else can you fast-food Central Asian food?

Off to Helsinki. I am not a fan of Sheremetyevo Airport. We could not check in until an hour and a half before the flight, so we had to sit around waiting amongst the non-deodorized.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

The weather in Russia at this time of year is quite interesting. We apparently have experienced phenomenal weather, with the sun actually making an appearance. In the three days we were in "Peter", it has also rained, drizzled, was overcast, and snowed.

Novgorod, which I believe translates to "new city", is ironically the oldest city in Russia. What a depressing place! Ivan the Terrible massacred the people because he thought they were out to get him. I am impressed with one of the major underlying philosophies of the Russian Orthodox Church: bear your cross without complaint. It explains very much how the people here have survived tragedy after tragedy. My goal is to adopt this more into my life, but I'll pass on standing for church services.

We stayed last night at the "best hotel in Novgorod." Admittedly the decor and furnishing were a bit dated, it was clean and comfy. Breakfast was another story. Half the food was gone by the time we got there. The best part was how they translated cream of kasha as "Hercules-gruel." Once you get past the name, it tasted halfway decent.

Looking back, that was opulent compared to the bus ride to Moscow. My cousin and I got on the bus last and had to sit separately. I found a seat next to a nice Singaporean girl who was easy to talk to and very sharing with her snacks. My cousin got stuck next to a large Canadian woman who smelled like salami and kept drinking water (and getting up to use the bus bathroom). My cousin almost had a panic attack at the "best" known rest stop on the highway. Relieving one's self involved breathing through your mouth, not flushing the toilet paper, and bringing your own soap. I almost used the men's room if not for the man taking a sponge bath. (Note: for all you entrepreneurs out there, don't bother trying to create a nicer, more "Western" rest area. If the mafiya doesn't get to you, the government will if you vote the wrong way.) But wait, it gets better! In between snow and horrendous traffic, we were stopped three times by the police. This charade involves the drivers getting off the bus with all paperwork, the police reviewing all the licensing and paperwork for the bus, checking the driver's license, a breathalyzer, and then a request for contribution to the fund for the next meal. We were instructed not to take pictures. It would save a lot of time if the cops just set up a tollbooth for the bribes instead. Note to all of you badasses who want to do a DIY tour: get ready to hand over large sums of money to the cops in random traffic stops. For Russians, the going rate is about 100 rubles (just over 4 bucks). For foreigners, it starts at 100 euros.

Tver came and went in the blink of an eye. I would have appreciated a little more time here as it's where my best friend received her adopted son. We arrived several hours late for a late lunch. The place we went to was downstairs from a children's/Chinese/VIP lounge called Mary Poppins. Needless to say, I'm a bit concerned. I don't think vegetarianism is fully understood, as it appears that they veg folks received the same soup (i.e., meat stock) without the shredded meat on top. They also received extra dessert of apple drizzled with raspberry sauce since it is assumed they are not getting enough to eat without the meat.

Very much looking forward to our eventual arrival in Moscow after this ordeal of a bus ride.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


So far am having a good time in Russia, my cousin's early morning blowdryer routine notwithstanding. We ended up in a brand-new hotel. The radiant-heat flooring and the rain shower are aweseome. St. Petersburg is a very elegant, stately city, at least what we have seen of it. It has elements of Paris, Vienna and Amsterdam. However, I think I prefer all of those cities to St. Petersburg. There's not much that is unique just to the location, which I would appreciate more.

While here, we figured it was mandatory to see the ballet, and it turned out to be Tchaikovksky's Swan Lake. You can't get more quintessential than that. I had higher expectations of Russians' interest in culture, based on what my mom told me. The nyet-nyet ladies were nowhere in sight when a bunch of Russian children were making noise during the performance, nor when the row of Japanese tourists in front of us started taking flash photographs during the performance. One of them even tried to evade giving my cousin change on her 1000-ruble note for the program. Even my kindgergarten-level Russian couldn't get us through that negotiation, so being a paranoid New Yorker, I flagged the tour guide to straighten it out. Not having much prior exposure to ballet, I wasn't overly enthralled with the performance. The first act in particular went a bit overboard with the swan-hopping.

Overall, I think my favorite sight is the Hermitage. To think that this art collection was once seen exclusively by Catherine the Great and the mice running through the Winter Palace fascinates me. Chalk one good deed up to the Commies for nationalizing the gallery.

So far, I am quite disappointed with the Fodor's guidebook purchased before the trip. A couple of key sites and hotels appear to be missing, and the Armenian restaurant I hunted for after the Hermitage was no longer there. we didn't have much time to investigate further as we were leaving for our next city soon after.

Onto Novgorod...

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Just arrived in St. Petersburg and am friggin exhausted. Never again will I fly internationally in economy class. FinnAir is a good airline and all, decent food and service, but I just can't sleep when I'm upright and someone else's head is practically in my lap.

When we arrive, I wonder if there was a crisis in the region as the immigration line is about fifty wide. Then I remember that people outside the Anglo nations never had queuing in their etiquette protocol. No words are spoken as I hand over my passport, parying there are no unnoticed errors in my visa ("Ma'am, your name is not transliterated properly/your patronymic is missing.") and when I get it back it has a bright orange stamp. After exiting through the customs door, I push my way through a scrum of Central Asians huddling by the portal waiting for loved ones to arrive. Our Tour Director informs us that we are the first of the tour group to arrive, but the first shuttle to the hotel already left. Our options are to wait for the next shuttle in two hours or take a taxi. We opt to wait, and I pass out on the bench, clutching my prized possessions to me. I grasp what it feels like to be homeless or a refugee when I awake with a very stiff neck and sore ribs.

The food situation will prove to be an adventure. Supposedly, the quality of the food (NOT customer service yet) has improved greatly since perestroika. The horror stories I heard about mystery meat and non-homogenized lava lamp sodas seem a thing of the past. However, at dinner I'm a little skeptical. I asked a waiter in Russian and then English if our appetizer salad was made with fish or meat. After three attempts in two languages, he shrugged and walked away. This is going to be fun...

This is my first major vacation since Prague, and I'm psyched! Flying around the country for long weekends to attend weddings and conference or work 20-hour days does not count. I did not review my entire Russian textbook as I had initially planned, but by the sounds of it my vocabulary and accent are better than the Tour Director's. More to come once I nap off the jetlag...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Get Sloshed

Today we got our raise and bonus letters a/k/a Envelope Day. The added perk to this is the office shuts down at 1pm for lunch and the inevitable afterparties. While I am not allowed to discuss the contents, I will say I'm happy, especially considering the economic climate and all the naysayers who are predicting these cataclysmic implosions on the balance sheets.

My liver will not be happy tomorrow morning tho...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Buon compleano!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday, but she had to attend the first communion of a neighbor. So I took it upon myself to make Sunday Dinner for her. Since I was tall enough to stir, I have enjoyed cooking, especially like trying new recipes, Nigella being one of my reliable faves. It's been a while since I've cooked and had people over. I used to really enjoy cooking as a couple, but that fell along the wayside as things started to fall apart. I've missed you, stove!

For Mom, I decided to break out the crock-pot the folks gave me for Xmas and make its maiden voyage preparing Rachael Ray's hoisin pork roast with forbidden rice and Asian-style stirfried veggies. Rachael Ray's stuff is either good with a tweak or the recipe is quite off in some way, like it calls for too much salt. This came out quite good. The meat fell apart in a nice pulled style after eight hours of slow cooking, but since the pork was quite large and was not completely submerged in the sauce in my smaller-size pot, it was a bit on the dry side. Not bad for a first try tho! Would definitely make it again. Two and a half stars.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bottoms Up!

I am back for the second year in a row for a wine tour in Amador County, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The weather is perfect, as it was yesterday for a hike in a national park that was almost turned into a dam. My friend M of course takes me to the clothing-optional watering hole. Get your minds out of the gutter, I kept my bathing suit on.

In addition to Bray, which we hit last year, we also stopped at two new ones, a Croatian one where I bought a one-liter jug of some good red, and another one whose name escapes me. No matter, it was a bit biker-trash in there as they celebrated their anniversary, but the wine wasn't as smooth as I would have liked. At that point my palate could have been burnt as well.

I don't know how I'm going to make it to dinner...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Purchasing an Admirals Club membership (with miles no less) was the best thing I ever did. The Flagship Lounge in JFK near the lower number gates is serene and comfy, just what I need before a long haul cross-country.

Chag sameach to all my friends in the Tribe celebrating Passover. Trying to see if any friends on the left coast are having Seder tonight that I can crash.

***UPDATE 4/21/2008: This weekend is also Orthodox (i.e. Julian calendar) Easter. This confuses one of my friends, who envisions "black-hatted men searching for eggs, almost like a weird afikhomen." Christos anesty!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blowing in(to) the Wind(y City)

At the last minute, my boss decided yesterday that I should accompany him to Chi-town to do some testing. Granted the ticket cost about twice what it normally would when booked at least seven days in advance, it did not exceed four figures. My chef/gourmand friend A cooked up some of the extra duck confit/Barolo/caramelized onion tortelli he had lying around his freezer with a pecorino cream sauce and sprinkled with bresaola crumbles, and even with half of my previous appetite I happily gobbled down most of it. Some toffee and a chocolate cognac ganache macaroon, and I am down for the count. Will need the energy for dim sum, The Lincoln Park Zoo, and the return flight home. Sometimes I consider moving to Chicago, but if I ate like this all the time, I would gain all the weight back and then some.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cherry Blossom Girl

My friend from work and I took a daytrip to our nation's capital for the cherry blossom festival. Frankly, it was a bit of a letdown from last year. When I made the same sojourn on Good Friday last year, the place was almost empty. This year, you could hardly keep up a good pace around the Tidal Basin with all the people. The ethnically dressed children performing "God Bless the USA" in sign language was cute tho. It's amazing that the A, when performed, looks very much like the Black Panther salute.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


My Blackberry Pearl died this week. In its place, I now have a Curve. Even though it has a full keyboard, the keys are quite small. Hope I can keep my nails long now just to type! Definitely better than the predictive text that never quite caught on to what I would frequently type.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

'Tis the Season, Whatever the Reason

Just want to wish my loved ones a happy

vernal equinox (a/k/a Spring)
Nowruz (Persian New Year)
Purim - yeay for Esther and hamentaschen
(Gregorian) Easter - feels a little early, but that's ok
a great weekend, especially if you're in finance since markets were closed yesterday

Even if you're not Christian, there is an important message to be gleaned from the Passion of Jesus. Jesus was executed for turning things on their head and challenging the status quo. I'm not focusing on his Son-of-God shtick, but rather the two commandments he preached - love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Compared with the Ten Commandments and the 613-odd mitzvaot laid out in the Torah, that is very simple yet also vague and leaves a lot of room for questions and judgment calls. It's hard to rejig one's life to two basic concepts after having so much structure and law. The point is, it's very easy to get defensive or dismissive of a new concept or idea. Instead of quashing it, try to explore it and embrace it.

[This would make a good post on Kehilla - hint hint]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Body Count in the House

Here comes another recession. Everyone has been denying and playing down the poor economic conditions in the US and elsewhere, but now the fit is hitting the shan, and the shoes are starting to drop - jobs are hemorrhaging. This is the part that scares and saddens me the most, when friends and loved ones through no fault of their own find themselves without employment. More than increased prices and plummeting housing rates, this removes some degree of certainty for the future and can leave people feeling hopeless. In addition, it makes those left behind feel insecure and conflicted about their position. The last time this happened for me was after 9/11; cuts were brutal and made those of us (including me) feel weird about having survived when friends had not. I am not seeing it in my company, and particularly in my department (I guess people always need IT), but in the past month it's not looking good for those who have already been let go and those feeling the heat:

MorganStanley - 1
Lehman Brothers - 1
Citigroup - 1?
Bear Sterns - 2?

Time to ruminate a little: on the way home from Florida last month, my rowmate and I saw a package containing human remains waiting to be loaded onto the plane. It felt a little creepy, but it also got me reminding myself of a core value. Life is not necessarily about the great job and gobs of money. As we see, those things can enable people to be happy in some ways, but they are fickle and fleeting. I admit, I like having a well-paying job and being able to support and entertain myself without much second thought. However, my goal is to have my life flash before my eyes before they close and think about the wonderful experiences I shared with others and how much they have meant to me. If anything, the one element I most appreciate about my career is the fantastic people I have met along the way, especially those with whom I socialize and keep in touch. This helps keep me grounded especially in times like these.

To those of you out there that have received the dreaded pink slip, or have survived thus far, hang in there. It gets better; it always does (eventually).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dog Barking, Can't Fly Without Umbrella

Twice in the past month, I have placed calls to colleagues in Australia and had someone answer with a non-English-speaking accent who mumbles some unintelligible gibberish, puts the phone down, and then nothing except for a barking dog and a television in the background. Apparently this is a major hack of the mobile network. It's a recording that is cleverly timed to sound like someone really has answered the phone. Plus, it appears to have spread to the UK. If you think you've reached this rogue recording, don't say anything, just listen.

After scouring blogs and the news sources, it seems that this has not hit the blogosphere quite yet. If I find any updates on it will post.

Makes you want to check your minutes usage, eh?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Everybody Duty Free Tonight

While cleaning my apartment, I came across the receipt from my pre-flight shopping at Montreal Trudeau Airport. My cashier's name was Wang Chung - I sh*t you not. Given his age, I think he was born before the party-starting 80's tune was released. Here's proof.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good Day Sunshine

Finally made it to Palm Beach after getting stuck in New York with the snowstorm. My aunt and uncle have a place here, so I'm in for a few days of quality home-cooked food, prosecco, awesome weather, daily cocktails, a little shopping, and some decent exercise time.

I'm getting sick of seeing the Walmart commercials because "Dancing in the Moonlight" reminds me of J.

Friday, February 22, 2008


The coffee shop in my building is cursed I tell you! Three weeks later, it is the scene of another crime. Another reason not to go there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Inflation Sliced and Diced

So DiFara's Pizza has now hit 4 bucks a slice. Having eaten a lot of pizza around this great city, I'd say this is worth it. The ingredients are very high-quality and taste fresh and flavorful.

I do disagree with DeMarco that he takes his time with each pie. When I went with J and T last summer, all toppings slid off the slices if you tried to pick them up. The crust was great, but the center of the pie was not fully cooked.

I guess I'll have to go back and see if it's still worth the price -- and the wait.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mahb Scene

My friend and neighbor turned 29 tonight. In the grand scheme of Kevin Bacon, he is the frat brother of my high school classmate, who went to camp with my friend from around the corner. He picked a fantastic Sicilian restaurant downtown to observer the occasion. The waitress spoke minimal English, and somehow she picked me up on her radar. After a bottle of Sicilian Shiraz (who knew?), two Chiantis, involtini de melanzane, grilled calamari, cuttlefish ink arancine, and half a massive calzone (farcito), we moved onto Swift down the street.

I manage to spend all of my money, get free drinks with minimal effort, and swing a ride home with M's roommate. It was a bit crazy - M got very intoxicated, became my wingman, and left without bidding his fellow celebrants adieu. Plus, I made out with someone in public for the first time in almost three years. That's usually an indicator of a successful birthday. Woo woo!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


What happens in Brighton Beach does not stay in Brighton Beach. I-bankers + vodka + unidentifiable but generally tasty food + vodka + tacky entertainment +more vodka = very sore feet for the next several days!

More evidence...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Life After Love

It's been just over a week now. Occasionally I reminisce or see a photograph and get upset, but it's getting a little easier to fly solo every day. Not seeing him while I was away on business or when he started working the night shift over the past few months made me more accustomed to being alone in my apartment. My appetite is almost non-existent, and I've lost at least five pounds. This is quite possibly the greatest diet ever!
I have been listening to a lot of Cher; it is definitely good breakup music since it acknowledges the feelings yet is upbeat and fast tempo. If anyone knows anything about breakups, it's Cher, since she's had some really ugly public endings of relationships. What perfect timing to hear that she is taking up residence at Caesar's Palace in LV. JJD and I are all about going to see her and getting our gambling on!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Closing the Book

J and I broke up. It somewhat shocked me why and how it went down in the very end, but that's that. In some way, part of me had doubts as to whether some underlying issues would ever be resolved, but it is still painful. I am thankful for the support and comfort that my friends and family have provided, and my memories of the good times shared together and with others are a blessing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ahhh, The Good Old Days of College Hockey

This guy sounds almost comical. Stuff like this reminds me of when we threw fish at Hahvahd every time they would show up and how their coach would bitch. Or how Cornell fans routinely outnumber Crimson fans at their own arena. I also remember how almost the entire scrum of men on the ice got penalties for fighting, including the goalies. Better yet, I won my class ring during the Stone Travel Hockey Shoot-Out.

Ahhh, memories.....

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Load of (Mechanical) Bull

Rules for Riding a Mechanical Bull:
  1. Go on an off night, so you will not make a total ass of yourself in front of 20,000 tourists and drunk i-bankers.
  2. Bring photo ID, and make sure your friends do too, or you will be the only idiot allowed to ride the bull.
  3. Have a drink. No, have a few drinks. Without speaking from experience, I'm almost 100% certain the experience of being flung around for all to laugh and point is more enjoyable when not sober.
  4. Don't slouch. The pictures (and video!) will have you looking like The Hunchback of Midtown.
  5. Urinate before entering the bullring.
  6. You're supposed to only hold on with one hand, but if not that many people are around, you can get away with two. However, you may hold on so tight that you pull a muscle in your armpit.
  7. If you can, climb off the bull yourself. People may boo, but it beats being flung off ungracefully.

Here's hoping Massa's amateur video of me does not end up on Youtube!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

J and I spent New Years Eve at Joe's Shanghai in Flushing and then feasted on desserts at our friends' house. Al and I prepared three scrumptious treats for everyone:

Nutella Pots de Creme
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
Bailey's and Chocolate Truffle Marshmellow Ice Cream

Our friend paused the cable so we missed the live ball drop. Thank goodness for rewind.

Needless to say, I am not eating dessert or xiao long bao for a while. Instead of focusing on weightloss, my goal is to eat healthier and exercise more and let the weight go where it must. In addition, I'd like to have more me-time and explore creative impulses. Perhaps I'll try to keep up with blogging bettter...

HAPPY 2008!