Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Labor Day Weekend!

Aloha Friday, everyone! And to boot, it's a long weekend, a doubly woohoo! To me, Labor Day is kind of the hump to the holiday season. There's Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, and rounded out with New Year. In a blink of an eye, the year will be over.

A little bit of trivia about Labor Day. We can all give thanks to the Central Labor Union for starting this holiday. It started in 1882 as a day off for the "working man" and was made a national holiday by Congress in 1894. Today, it's regarded as a day of rest, similar to other countries' May 1 Labor Days. It used to mark the end of summer for kids (that dreaded first day back at school on Tuesday). Now, it marks the nearing end of baseball season, the start of the football season, and personally, a step closer to the start of hockey season (righteous!). Typically, families get together on Labor Day for family BBQs (ya!) or some other food festivities. When I was a kid, Labor Day also meant the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon dominated the weekend television (yes, kids, there was a time when cable and satellite TV didn't exist; and we also walked 10 miles each way, in the snow, to and from school, barefoot).

Labor Day also means autumn is just around the corner (ah, cooler weather). It used to mean that you shouldn't wear white anymore but according to the fashion world, it's hip to wear white nowadays. So put on that white sweater and wear it proudly.

Have a terrific long weekend. Stay safe, cool, and eat well. See you all on Tuesday.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wilbur's Secret Recipes

Once again the Union Tribune has provided today's blog topic, food recipes (surprise, surprise). Just as well since I don't have much to report in the way of barefoot running since yesterday's run was a quick one. The Mister did receive the Pose Method book and DVD but has not had the time to provide a review yet. But that's to come. Okay, back to the food.

The article is about Todd Wilbur and his quest to "clone" brand name recipes. For food fanatics like me, just the thought to be able to reproduce some favorite brand name foods can send me into a dizzy. Just recently, I made my own buckeye candy for the first time. I had my first buckeye candy in the 80's. They were part of a gift basket and I have been hooked on them ever since. It wasn't until about 10 years ago when a woman I worked with made buckeyes for me that I realized, hey! I can make these little balls of creamy heaven (can you tell I really love these?).

So what are these little balls of creamy heaven, you ask? These ambrosial spheres of happiness that makes my eyes glaze over and do my best Homer Simpson imitation? Buckeyes are round, delectable balls of peanut butter covered in chocolate. (Mmm, buckeyes!) These are named for it's resemblance to the poisonous fruit of the Buckeye tree, Ohio's state tree. So what does buckeye candy have to do with brand name foods? It's because the batch I made tasted just like (and I think better) than a REESE'S ® Peanut Butter Cup, one of my all-time favorite brand name candy.

So it's easy for me to see why Wilbur's quest is so appealing to so many consumers. Apparently his website gets 3-4 million hits a day. He has authored several best selling cookbooks (move over Rachael Ray) and offers free weekly recipes on his website. Want to do something cool and fun with the kids over this sweltering Labor Day weekend? Make some 7-eleven ® cherry slurpees using Wilbur's recipe. Want to grill up something different at your next bbq? How about Outback Steakhouse ® Outback Rack? Now don't get me wrong. Just because I have a recipe for Jack-in-the-Box ® tacos doesn't mean I'm going to make it and stop going to JitB. For 2 at 99 cents, it's hardly worth my effort (or the gas) to even make the trip to the grocery store. But for some other food items, it would be interesting to try to replicate them.

I think I'll put one of his cookbooks on my Christmas wish list. If only Wilbur would just recreate the recipe for the lobster tail from Bova's Bakery located in the North End of Boston, now that would be heaven! Hope you will find a recipe or two to inspire you in the kitchen. Now go and eat well.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Wonder (Bread) of it all

An article in today's Union Tribune reported that an icon from my childhood, Wonder Bread, will no longer be available in Southern California. The article brought back fond food memories from my childhood [insert flashback music here]. Wonder Bread was what I was raised on (nope, couldn't get me to eat that wheat thing with "stuff" in it). Boy, you know you're getting old when you start reminiscing about childhood icons. Although it's been well over (cough cough) 30 years since I last had a slice, I can still remember the soft texture, taste , and the wonderful aroma of fresh bread when you first open the bag. But what I loved best about Wonder Bread was that it was good with everything or nothing at all. Actually, I think I tried it once with corn puffs and that wasn't so good.

There were 2 preparations that stand out the most. The first one was just Wonder Bread by itself, toasted just enough where the outside is light golden and the inside still soft but warm. No butter, no jam, nothing. Just eat it like that. I'm wondering now if this was the start of my love for baked bread? I mean, let's think about it, crusty (or artisan, if you will) bread where the crust is flaky and the inside is soft and delicious.

The second preparation, and my favorite, is with rousong, or shredded dried pork. It's also known as pork sung/song. Rousong is usually something I would have with rice porridge for breakfast on the weekend (can eat that all the time). I would also have it on rice but preferred it with porridge. But the rousong sandwich was something I came up as an after school snack I could make for myself.

There were 2 ways to have a rousong Wonder Bread sandwich, toasted and not toasted. If toasted, the bread should only be toasted to just as it's starting to turn light golden (as described above). This was good for smashing the sandwich down to keep the rousong in it. How much rousong depends on your taste. I liked to pile on as much as I could until it was spilling over the sides. You have to smash it down to try to keep all the rousong from spilling out. But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow without Wonder Bread, there's just no way not to spill some out the sides and on yourself while eating the sandwich.

The second method was untoasted bread. I think I ate this version the most. You can really smash the pieces of bread together and since Wonder Bread was so soft, it would almost form a seal around the edges. Ah...the simpler things in life.

If this sounds odd to you, let me assure you that I'm not the only one who has enjoyed this odd food. You can see an example of a rousong sandwich on Chow Times, as well as other dishes I've mentioned.

Just for old time sake and probably my last rousong sandwich ever, I popped over to 99 Ranch Market to get some rousong (and some water dumplings ingredients). Now I need to snag a bag of Wonder Bread (white, of course) before they disappear from the shelves.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The FCC Said K-What? (wtf?)

Oh you're going to love this one! Have you heard the one about FCC and the call letters snafu?
Okay, so this broadcaster walks into a bar...just kidding.

It's really not a joke but there are quite a few floating out there about it. KM Communications in Skokie, IL applied for call letters for 2 planned TV stations, one in AZ and one in Maui. The station in AZ was issued KWTF and the one in Maui was issued (earmuffs, kids) KUNT.

Yup, those are the call letters. The media has been all over the Maui call letters for obvious reasons but the AZ call letters hasn't attracted as much attention (guess it's not as obvious). The funny thing about this is that KM Communications didn't even blink an eye when they requested these call letters (yes, they requested both of them). It wasn't until a columnist called the company about it that the company finally noticed and said, "oops, we didn't mean to offend anyone."

So how did this snafu occur? Was FCC asleep at at the wheel? It's obvious those at KM Communications were, unless it was their intention to get some free publicity. But the reason why these got through the FCC was because the process has been automated. (Who said it's so easy a caveman can do it?) Broadcasters can apply for new call letters online and as long as the call letters are available (and they were), they can have it.

But this isn't the first time this has happened. (Surprise, surprise) There's an FM station in Aspen, CO that's been on the air as KCUF-FM. If you don't get it, look at the call letters closely. If you still don't get it, look at it backwards. Ta-da!

Some articles are saying they can see how it got missed. pa, right! I can see FCC's reason for not catching it because it's automated. Personally, I like KWTF because that would be so fitting, wouldn't it? (Thanks for tuning in to Barefoot radio, K-wtf is going on today in the world!)

Whoever said showbiz is a dirty business was right.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend BBQ (Mmmm kabli and macaroni salad)

It was the Mister's birthday this past weekend so it was all about him (as it should be). As a birthday present, the Halo gods thought it fit to give us a little luck to finally beat the Truth and Reconciliation: Into the Belly of the Beast level. I think we played for about 4-5 hours (it's all a blur) with a lunch break at Chili's in between. And it took a little luck or 2 of a throw of a plasma grenade at the right time. The Mister had to revenge my death a couple of times because I was sucking, bad.

We had a bbq on Sunday to continue the celebration of the blessed day. I apologize right off the bat because I have no pictures to post of the food. I had every intention to take pictures but got so busy with everything, I forgot. I marinated up some thick cross ribs using a marinade very similar to Kirk's. I even added the Asian pear this time. The ribs marinated for about a day and a half.

The Mister asked if I could try making a Hawaiian style macaroni salad to go with the bbq. He likes the creamy kind. I did a search for recipes but there were so many variations of "Hawaiian" style that I just said, "forget it" and went with my own. An interesting side note that I found while looking for a recipe was this article on Hawaiian macaroni salad. I had sent Kirk a quick note to see if he had a mac salad recipe and he was very kind to share with me his version. Unfortunately, I didn't check my email until after I had everything all prepped and started to blend. The good thing was that the key ingredients I used was very similar to Kirk's recipe. And my method was the same philosophy as Kirk's, the "to taste" method. I use this method all the time for dishes I don't have recipes for. I throw together what I think would taste good and adjust the flavor "to taste."

So here's what I used for the mac salad (warning: I can't give actual measurements of what I used but they are approximates; adjust to your taste):

  • ~1/2 box of Barillia elbow mac boiled in salted water until al dente (I don't like mushy pasta). I only cooked a 1/2 box because this was an experiment. I didn't rinse with cold water so as to keep the elbows less wet. So make sure you pull it off just as it's getting al dente or else it'll continue to cook and possibly get mushy (ick).
  • ~2 large, heaping spoonfuls (a large spoon, not a teaspoon) of Best Food mayonnaise (must be Best Foods! In the East coast, it's Hellman's) -- as Kirk would say, don't be afraid of the mayo! Keep in mind that Hawaiian style mac salads have a good amount of mayo
  • 1/2 a small sweet onion, diced very fine
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced on the fine side
  • 3 small sweet Girken pickles, diced very fine -- this gives it a bit of sweetness but not overpowering
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • A couple of dashes of Paprika, again to taste
  • ~1 Tbsp of plain yogurt -- this gave it a bit of nice tanginess.

What I didn't have but would have added was shredded carrots. The onion and celery give the mac salad a bit of crunch, which the Mister and I both like. Let the mac salad settle in the frig. Mix again before serving. It was a huge hit with the Mister and the in-laws.

There was also the standard affair of appetizers: cheese and Triscuit, pepperoni, homemade guacamole, chips. I made the guacamole a little differently this time. I usually just add avocado to homemade salsa but I didn't make salsa. Instead, I just added finely minced red onion, cilantro, lots of minced jarred jalapeno peppers, and juice from a squeeze of half of lemon. I decided not to add chopped tomatoes this time since I find that the tomatoes kind of get mushy if we don't eat the guacamole in the same day (it doesn't often last more than a day but it does happen). In all honesty, I didn't even miss the tomatoes.

The ribs were really yummy. The MIL wanted steak sauce with hers (don't ask me why cuz I don't know). The only steak sauce we had was A-1's Kobe Sesame Teriyaki Steak Sauce so it wasn't too bad, I guess. I also served 3 panchan side dishes but needless to day, I ate most of it. We did a pretty good number on the ribs. I think I grilled about 8 lbs of ribs for 4 people (about 20'ish cross ribs, if I was to guess) and had 5 left over. Thank goodness we didn't pick up prawns like I had planned. And we still had ice cream cake to go. Oiy.

To top off the Sunday, the Mister and I bought the Xbox 360 earlier in the day. As the in-laws were getting their first drinks and munching on the appetizers, I set up the 360. I was getting a little sentimental as I decommissioned the original Xbox. It was a Christmas present from the Mister in 2003. But the sadness only lasted until I fired up the 360. I popped in Halo, then Halo 2 and I immediately noticed a difference in the sharpness of the picture. This is going from S-video to component at 1080i. HD!

After the in-laws went home, the Mister and I played few 1:1 games of Halo 2 to test out the new controllers. The new controllers felt very similar to the old ones. Biggest (good) difference is the white and black buttons have been replaced by 2 bumper buttons. Much more ergonomic and easier to use. Can't wait to play Halo 3!

29 more days until its release. 33 more days until the Halo party.

One last thing, don't forget to watch G4's Attack of the Show for the final Ninja Warrior Challenge starting tomorrow at 7 pm. It goes through Friday. Set those DVRs! Have a good Monday. Now go and eat well.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Frangipani by any other name would be a Plumeria (and still smell as sweet)

This blog is titled Barefoot Plumies. You know the barefoot part, now I'll add the plumies part. One of my hobbies is collecting and growing plumerias (frangipanis). Plumeria enthusiasts often refer to them as plumies and my online moniker is plumies. Ergo, Barefoot Plumies!

I've been growing them (or trying to) since 2002. I have about 25 different varieties, and maybe 30 plants (give or take a few). Some I purchased as plants, others I've rooted from cuttings. I also lost a few (quite a few) due to root rot, frost, and who knows what. Some of those losts were heartbreaking. But I won't dwell on spilt milk. Instead, I'll share some of the few that are blooming right now. I'm lucky these are blooming right now because many of my plants lost their tips to frost this past winter (brrr, remember those awful cold spells?). And since plumerias bloom from the growth tips...well, let's just say I'm happy I even have one bloom this summer.

This one is Guillot Sunset. The buds are just starting to open up and it is a very nice flower. I'll try to get a picture of it when it's fully open.

This is Kimo and it's blooming for the first time (yippee). It's been blooming for over a month now and the flowers are just gorgeous. The scent (to my nose) does not smell as strong as some describe, kind of a citrus smell but it's suppose to be sweet. The blooms get lighter as they age.

Mardi Gras is one of my favorites as far as smell and colors. The fragrance reminds me of tuttie fruitie. The color of the bloom when it first opens is very rainbow sherbert. Then it fades to white around the edges with the orange/red band in the middle. LOVE this one!

Mary Nicholson is a profuse bloomer and blooms for a very long time! I was actually able to get some seeds from last season and I've got a few seedlings growing right now. It'll be interesting to see if any of them bloom (can take 1-10 years for a seedling to bloom, or never). The fragrance is a nice floral scent.

Pink Pansy is another one of my favorites because of it's beautiful, ruffled petals and it smells nice. On a larger tree, the blooms can be spectacular. This is the second year it's bloomed for me.

The last one is Singapore. Sorry the picture isn't better; a little washed out because of the sun. This is different from the others since it's a deciduous tree. This is often what you see in the streets of Hawaii. Great frangipani smell. Also a first year bloomer.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Ka Lokomaika'i and a Smorgasbord of Things

Aloha Friday everyone! I didn't have a chance to post yesterday cuz I was busy working (really, no lie). So I have some catching up to do. Since it's Aloha Friday, thought I'd talk a little bit about ka lokomaika'i. Lokomaika'i literally means "inside" or "heart" (loko) and "good" (maika'i). Ka lokomaika'i is what's good inside us. That is, someone with lokomaikai'i is giving, has good will, good disposition, generosity, grace, and kindness. It is the foundation of Aloha Spirit.

(Aloha spirit? You mean something like Duke Kahanamoku's ghost coming back to San Diego shores and kicking the okoles of those stupid surfers with attitude?) Nah, but that would be interesting to see. In order to fully understand Aloha Spirit, you need to know how the word Aloha came about. (Oh, you mean like "hello, goodbye, love.") Sort of. Let me elaborate.

The literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” Traditional greeting of touching foreheads and saying Aloha was a symbol of exchanging the breath of life. Aloha is about sending and receiving positive energy. (Now that's Zen!) Well, not really.

Aloha is all of the following:
Akahai = kindness, to be expressed with tenderness
Lokahi = unity, to be expressed with harmony
Oluolu = agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness
Haahaa = humility, to be expressed with modesty
Ahonui = patience, to be expressed with perseverance

Aloha Spirit is how we should live our lives and treat one another. I think it's one of the things why I love Hawaii so much. And everytime I go back, I feel the same harmony and sense of being that I felt as a child growing up there (probably as Zen as I'll ever get). But you don't have to live on the islands to know the feeling. The Mister feels it everytime he's there and it's why so many people go there every year. I also think it's the Aloha Spirit that creates an instant bond between displaced Islanders.

I think that's why I get so excited when I find things that remind me of Hawaii, like a new plate lunch place. (Oh oh, here she goes about food.) That's right, folks! Can't talk about Aloha Friday without talking about food!

So...yesterday, I met three of my friends at Mo's Island Grinds for lunch. Check out Kirk of mmm-yoso!!! 's numerous reviews of Mo's. In my opinion, this is the best plate lunch place in San Diego. But I add the caveat that I have not been to every plate lunch place in San Diego.

I had my usual Korean combo plate. This was the first visit for my friend, B, so she decided to try the Korean combo too (maybe cuz I already started drooling before I even got up to the counter to order). My other friend, N, also ordered the combo and "99" (my 3rd friend) ordered the kalua pork. 99 normally orders the loco moco (he's a loco moco fiend) but Mo's was out of the steak patties yesterday. The Korean combo comes with 3 kalbi cross ribs, Korean chicken, a nice dipping sauce for the chicken, rice, and choice of salad or macaroni salad. The kalua pork plate came with rice and choice of salad or macaroni salad. I always get the salad (not a huge mac salad fan) with the Oriental dressing (yummy).

The feedback:
The Korean chicken was perfectly cooked! Crunchy outside, chicken tender and juicy inside. The batter had the perfect touch of spiciness that makes it so addictive. Both B and N agreed it was good. B thought it looked like too much food but it was so good, she ate the whole thing (well, most of it). N, as usual, devoured his lunch. 99 said the kalua pork was the best he's ever had. I'm usually not a big kalua pork fan because I find most ones I've tried were either too dry, too much artificial smoke flavor, too bland, or a combination of these things. But I have to agree that I think Mo's kalua pork is pretty good (I've snuck a taste from another friend's plate once). N got the macaroni salad with his combo but he was less than thrilled with it, too bland. 99 said he wasn't a big fan of it either and usually get the salad. Think N will be getting the salad from now on. N also told me that he brought his wife to Mo's and she just loved it! Yup, everyone I've taken to Mo's raves about the food.

Ah...a very good lunch indeed; good food, good friends, good conversation. One of the topics we talked about was barefoot running. N and B were both really interested although both still skeptical. I don't blame them because barefoot running is still somewhat of an enigma, although mainstream is starting to take notice. I mean, when Nike introduces a shoe line (Nike Free) that promotes barefoot running, you know it's hit maintstream.

As with all physical activities, I cautioned them that they have to start slow, especially anyone with weak or fallen arches, or any kind of foot or leg joint problems. Start slow, build up foot muscles, educate about barefoot running (Barefoot Rick's is a good place to start; or Ken Saxton's site, a lot of information there), and above all, be safe and smart about it.

Which reminds me, the Mister has really taken an interest in my barefoot running. So much that he's going to try the Pose Technique. He's not planning on going barefoot but he will be getting one of the running shoes recommended on Pose Tech's website. As a matter of fact, we're going to meet for lunch at UTC and pop over to Foot Locker to look at some shoes for him. He also ordered the Pose book and dvd so I'll post a review once we get it.

So I'll wrap up with a quick summary of yesterday's running. I cut down 2 whole minutes on my time. I'm down to about a 25-minute mile right now, that's including walking to warm up and cool down. My goal for the next couple of weeks is to get down to an 18-minute mile, straight running. Happy to report that I had no blisters or sore spots on the feet again. Hope this continues to be the trend as I increase speed and distance.

Have a wonderful Friday, koʻu hoaloha! A hui ho, go and eat well.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Nice Big Cup of...Sewer Water?

Sometimes I just don't want to read the newspaper. Apparently some businesses in Chula Vista have been getting recycled sewer water not fit for human consumption in their tap water. Yes, I sh*te you not (pun intended). The story is not for people with mysophobia/verminophobia. Actually, you don't have to be a germaphobic for this story to gross you out.

Here's the skinny. When the business park was built back in 2002, somebody hooked up the "purple" pipe (indicating recycled water) instead of the drinking water pipe. This means 17 businesses have been getting a 1/5 mix of recycled sewer water in their tap water for the past 2 years. (gross!) Guess the mix was minimal enough where the businesses didn't notice.

The worst part of this story? Since May 2007 (that's 3 months folks), they have been getting 100% recycled water because of a deal Otay Water District made with city of San Diego to get 100% recycled water instead of the 4:1 part mix. (Dare I say it? Kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth.)

When one business owner complained back in July about the smell (ew), color (ew ew), and the taste (okay, just stop now), the county water district "flushed" the system and thought that cleared the problem. Flushed?? Did they really say flushed? Really, I didn't choose the word. And you can't make this sh*te up (okay, I'll stop with the puns but they started it).

The property owner had to send off a sample of the water to a private lab to finally get some results. (Can you hear it now? Caller: Um, hello Otay Water District? Yeah, I want to report a funky smell and taste in my tap water. OWD: What do you mean? Caller: My water from the tap smells and taste funny, and it's yellow. OWD: Oh that's normal. That's just the water we get from city of San Diego. I assure you, if it's okay for San Diego plants, it's okay for Chula Vista consumption. Have a nice day!)

At this point, 2 food related businesses have been shut down by the county Department of Environmental Health, others have posted warnings not to drink the water (you know, pretend like you're in Mexico). The Otay district is now dealing "with the question of how this could have happened." (Oo oo! I know! Someone f---ed up!)

The article said that the coliform bacteria presence in the water is "not necessarily harmful" but come on...let's see a show of hands how many people would drink this "not necessarily harmful" water. Yeah, that's what I thought. If it was a competition between how many people who would drink that water and how many people who read my blog everyday, my blog would win...hands down.

The article also made mention of the "toilet to tap" plan, the "the long-discussed plan in San Diego to send highly treated wastewater back to taps" yeah...okay, that's enough...all this blogging has made me thirsty. Think I'll go dunk my head a few times in one of the women's toilets. So the next time someone tells me I'm full of it, I'll just tell him, "No, I don't drink Chula Vista water."

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Running Update (8/21/2007)

Just a quick update on yesterday's running. Did the 1.5 miles (knocked down a few minutes!) and a cool down walk for about 1/4 mile. For the first time, I did not get any blisters or sore spots on the balls of my feet (yippee!). Legs feel pretty good this morning, too. No tightness in the back. A good running day it was.

An interesting thing the Mister brought up when he was looking into barefoot running. The primary reason he thinks I haven't been able to do the ball-heel-ball technique is because I'm not running fast enough. I recall reading that if a runner is running at a slower speed, he tends to be a little more flat footed. This made sense to me. I now think that I am running with a less pronounced BHB. In thinking it through, a foot is on its ball as it lifts up when walking or running (yes?). So the fact that I was running ball-heel, as I lift the leg up, the heel becomes ball in that motion. Hey, it makes sense in my head!

The Mister also did a little experiment on his own when he was running at the park with the dogs. He was able to do the BHB technique and noticed the technique made running feel "easier." That's the same feeling I had when I first started running barefoot and concentrated on relaxing and gently touching each foot to the ground. I think tomorrow I will track to see how long I can maintain a constant speed during the run.

(Psst, did you notice there was not a single food reference in today's post?)

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend Report (8/20/2007) - Ninja Warrior, Food, and What Nots

Happy Monday! Not too much from this past weekend. Highlights: went to Izakaya Sakura on Convoy for lunch, Cole was sick most of the weekend (poor little guy but he's on the mend), played Halo, and had kalbi and panchan from Zion. Oh yeah, we also watched a lot of Ninja Warrior on G4. Guess if you can't be active, at least watch others (ha!). So between Sakura and Ninja Warriors, guess you can say there was a Japanese theme going on this weekend.

The lunch experience (our first) at Sakura was interesting. The crowd at Original Pancake House made parking in the little strip mall very difficult. We ended up having to park somewhere down the road. We must be missing something about the attraction of lunch at OPH. Sakura had a good crowd already. To my surprise, the Mister ordered the special combo. I couldn't tell you everything that came with it (pork, mackerel, salmon, noodles, omelet, pickled cucumber & radish, carrots and potato, rice, miso soup, salad) but the Mister liked most of it. It was a lot of food! Cathy over at mmm-yoso!! recommended the Karaage. The flavor was very good and fried just right, although I thought it was just a tad too salty to eat it by itself, at least more than 1 piece. Was great with the white rice! I had the mixed tempura (love it when the batter is just right).

On the way home, stopped by Zion to pick up some marinated kalbi and panchan for dinner. I was too lazy to marinate my own and Zion's marinated meat is pretty good in a pinch. I couldn't find the rice wrappers like the ones Buga Korean Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. so we opted for lettuce wraps. Yummy!

Now that food and what nots are out of the way, let's talk about Ninja Warrior. Have you watched this yet? When I first saw the show, I thought is was something like MXC on steroids. But it's different in the sense that the people who compete on Ninja Warrior take it pretty seriously, most of them that is. The first stage is probably the most like MXC. You can usually see some serious face plants into obstacles.

The object of the competition is to complete 4 stages of obstacles to win the title of Ninja Warrior. G4 doesn't do a very good job describing the show but check it out, especially if you're a fan of MXC.

The reason I'm bringing up Ninja Warrior is because G4 is in the last stage of selecting one American to send to Japan to compete in the competition. They are now down to the final 3 and these guys are pretty impressive (and I'm not easily impressed)! There's even a braddah from Oahu that made the final selection, Bryant. Walking and balancing on a 1" line and pinky pull-ups?!? Not only that, he does a little flip action with some kettle bells (cool). And he's doing all of it barefoot! I could have done without the break dancing demo but that would be just the kind of quirky thing the Japanese viewers would like (can't wait to hear the commentator on that one!). He's got good speed going up the ropes so that will definitely help in Stage 4. I would have like to have seen something like the Spider Walk (walk horizontally using hands and feet between 2 walls).

Another finalist is Brett from S. Carolina. He is like a monkey boy running and climbing all over the city! Nice acrobatic moves. This kid is definitely fast!

The last finalist is Colin from Michigan. He's got tremendous upper body strength. I think his got the best fingers and arm strength out of all 3 guys, possibly the best upper body stamina (notice how he hangs in the middle of the bridge on one arm). But Bryant still gets the award for best pinky strength (pinky pull ups?!?).

All 3 videos showed how well they moved around various obstacles. It would have been nice a couple of them demonstrate their balance and speed on a moving obstacle (often seen in the first 3 stages). I thought Bryant had the best showing of his balance and agility on something unstable, although Colin's climb on the spinning cube was interesting.

Not only does Ninja Warrior courses require agility, endurance, and physical strength, contestants also need speed. I think all 3 have a really good shot at completing the 4 stages and it's too bad G4 won't send all 3 of them. Maybe the the 2 runner ups can start a "Send me to Japan" fund raiser campaign...

The live show where the 3 finalists will compete to see who goes to Japan is scheduled for August 28-31 at 7PM ET on Attack of the Show. We'll get to see how the winner does in Japan during G4's 1-hour Ninja Warrior special in November. Go USA!

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Aloha Friday! and a Barefoot Running Update

Aloha Friday, koʻu hoaloha!! There's even an Aloha Friday Song (lyrics) that is often heard on Hawaiian radio stations on this glorious day (it's a cute little ditty). For those who work a typical work week, there is just something about Fridays. I always do my little Friday dance when I get to work. No matter how crappy the work week, Friday is welcomed with open arms and much sigh and relief. Unless you have to work the weekend...let's hope you don't have to.

Even if you're not thinking about it, there are little signs around the office to remind you it's Friday. People are more talkative and personal. They have a little spring in their step. The more uptight ones even seem relaxed a bit. Even when crap hits on a Friday, you know that at the end of the day, you will have a reprieve from the drudgery of work at least for a couple of days.

Before I get into my report of yesterday's run, here's just a little history of the Aloha Friday tradition. Around 1947, people in Honolulu were encouraged to wear Aloha shirts (Hawaiian shirts) to work from June through August due to the summer heat. And with the more casual lifestyle of the islands, aloha wear has become widely accepted as everyday wear. In some companies, they even celebrate with “Pau Hana Friday” where on the last Friday of each month, coworkers get together on a social bases and enjoy pupus (appetizers).

For me, I usually wear my Aloha attire during the week and dress (really) down on Fridays, usually in t-shirts. What can I say? I'm a CAB and like to buck the norm.

Speaking of bucking the norm, I tried to do the ball-heel-ball method yesterday at least to start. But I can't seem to be able to accomplish the method described. I'm sure, thinking through the motion of the foot, that I do some form of BHB. But the more I thought about it and tried to do it in a deliberate fashion, the more I felt discomfort in my feet and legs. Although I can't be sure that it's not due to weak muscles being conditioned, I just don't think I should focus so hard on it. The Mister said he doubt the cavemen or Aborigines thought about running techniques when they ran. I was doing fine earlier just running my own style with no pain. I was following the "let the feet tell me how to run" concept (how to run barefoot). So I stopped focusing on BHB and started to focus on relaxing and quietly letting each foot touch down. I focused on what my body was telling me, adjusting to signals such as minor tightness in the calf, a sore spot on the ball of the foot. Once I started to do this, I found myself running more smoothly, more fluid. And I was able to keep up the faster pace a little longer.

I am still very cautious at this stage so as soon as I feel any discomfort that doesn't go away with minor adjustments, I immediately slow down to a walking speed. The last thing I want is to injure myself or become so sore that it derails my progress.

I only needed to slow down 3 times yesterday during the 1.5 mile run. Once to work out a kink in my left foot and the other 2 to loosen up my calf muscles. I wasn't able to log my time because I accidentally hit the wrong button when cooling down, which wiped out my data. (oops) Now I'm sure there's some people out there that would guffaw at the 1.5 miles but let's make it clear that I am not a marathon runner nor aspire to be one. My sole purpose is to excercise at a moderate level to start, build up my stamina, and get to the point where I'm getting in better physical shape. Something to where I can climb Diamond Head to the top without needing to rest. Besides, haven't you heard that too much of a good thing can kill you? (do a Google on overtraining)

The Mister suggested I start keeping a log of not only what I did (time, how far, average speed) but also the day after. That way I can capture any observations of discomfort or pain and get a feel for heavy and light day training. Good idea. The one thing I noticed this morning was that I felt really good, like those day-afters before I tried BHB. The only soreness I have are on the balls of my feet where I'm starting to build up callous. I have a small blister on the ball of the left foot (that dang left foot) and both feet are a bit sensitive in that area. It's most likely due to the friction against the rubber belt on the treadmill. It has little grooves for traction. Hmm, wonder if treadmill companies will start coming out with belts that are smooth for barefoot runners? (there's a marketing idea)

I'm still debating whether or not to try the Five Fingers, thinking maybe it will help with some of the soreness on the balls of the feet. But the Mister says I should just continue to do what I'm doing and that my feet will condition naturally. He's worried that the shoes may cause rubbing in other areas of the feet. The thing I'm concerned about is the heel area. That's my problem area with shoes and some people have reported heel rubbing with the classic Five Fingers. Think I'll reconsider in another month.

Since my running schedule is off by a day due to the tightness in my left quad earlier in the week, I will most likely run a bit tomorrow. If I get a chance, I will post the results. Until then or Monday, go have a wonderful weekend and eat well.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

You Got Nothin' to Complain About!

The Mister and I decided to have dinner at Domenic's last night. We've been going there for about 5 years because the food is great and we like the people. We both had the Penne alla Aragosta special (penne pasta with sausage and lobster in a light creamy sauce). Delicious! I know I said I wasn't going to make this a food blog, and I'm not. Besides, I didn't have my camera so don't have pictures to post anyway. My belly was full of warm, yummy pasta and garlic bread (I'd describe the bread more but trying to remember this isn't a food post) and I have forgotten all about my day's aggrevation with Mr. Harumph.

As we were finishing up our meal, Don, who's been working at Domenic's for a long time now, stopped by to chat with us. He asked what's new and I gave the usual canned response, "Not much." During our chat (Don usually does the talking and that's okay with us), Don started to tell us about how he called into a radio station to respond to a bunch of callers complaining and whining about their lives, waa waa. It went something like this (my sincere apologies for not being able to capture Don's eloquence):

I told those guys they've got nothin' to complain about! If you've got your family and your health, then what's there to complain about? Think about all those guys who are in Iraq, those people's lives devastated by Hurricane Katrina, all of them have it much worse than you. You live in Southern California! And the radio hosts were saying, 'He's right!" I told those guys that they were an embarrassment to all the men out there. You know, I've got nothin' to complain about. Thinking about all these people, I am just going to keep my mouth shut. I've got no right to complain.
So now I'm starting to feel like a heel about my post about Mr. Harumph. This got us to talking about my new blog and his website. He then asked if we've heard of Eric Volz. No. He said to look him up on the Internet and read his story. He said he felt so bad for this guy. And you know what? Don is right. Reading Volz' story forces you to put some perspective on your own life. I bet anyone who reads his story is glad he is not Volz. Anyone who doesn't is a soulless shell of a turd. Go look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I'm sure your picture is right next to the definition.

Now I'm a believer that we should be thankful for what we have, appreciate the good, fret less on the bad. This doesn't mean you can't be mad or sad about something, just don't go on and on about it. Besides, who wants to be with someone who does nothing but complain? I've dumped friends because of that (and family--no, blood is not thicker than water, just ask Fredo). Harsh? Not in my eyes because I want to live my life being happy as much as I can. There's already plenty of horse's behinds being thrusted in our face on a day-to-day basis. Why add to that by choice? That is, unless you like the smell of poop.

I also learned last night that Don volunteers his spare time to help others. He is the Chief of San Diego Volunteers. Mrs. Mason should be proud. So along with a great meal, Don served, compliments of the House, a dessert of self awareness and appreciation, in Don's unique way. It's good to have a reminder every now and then, especially over a nice plate of pasta. His site has a permanent spot now on my meager little blog.

On that note, I will go home tonight, hug my dogs and kiss the Mister like I always do, do some barefoot running and have dinner. These are the things that I appreciate in my life. I will update on my progress of barefoot running next go around. My left calf and quad feel much better now and I'm eager to continue to understand the ball-heel-ball technique. Now go and eat well.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Work Rants - Competence

Today's rant is about competence in the workplace, or really the lack thereof. There's a wide variety of work rants I can go off on but for today, let's just stick with incompetence since there's obviously a critical overload of it at the place I work.

We know all about incompetence in the workplace. We've witnessed it, we've had to right the wrong from it, perhaps even displayed a bit of it ourselves. We know it exists, prevalently. We've even watched episodes of The Office that mock it or read comic strips about it (remember Dilbert?). And they're funny. But when you're forced to deal with it in real life, on a daily basis, your humor disappears quicker than a dime bag at a Cheech and Chong film festival.

Before I get too far into my rant, I want to make sure I clarify what I consider incompetence. We are human and we make mistakes, like it or not. Errors can occur for many reasons, such as temporary lapse of judgement. Webster defines an error in judgement as:

an act that through ignorance, deficiency, or accident departs from or fails to achieve what should be done.
Webster defines competent as:

having requisite or adequate ability or qualities.
It doesn't necessarily mean a person who erred due to an error in judgement is incompetent. But being consistently wrong, well...if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck...

So back to to the cause of today's rant...

Three people at work in the last week have managed to get one step further to being outed as incompetent. Problem is, the people who should be listening aren't and the people complaining are just singing to the choir. One guy in particular, whom I was against hiring in the first place, has really been pissing several people off lately, one of them being me. You know this guy. He's the one that struts around trying to show off how smart he is by challenging people with his so-called knowledge. That guy who's quick to answer questions even before the questions are asked. The one who questions you with that defiance in his voice while squaring up his shoulder, and "harumphing" even after you prove that you were right. The one who talks down to you like you are some kind of idiot. Yeah, him. Let's refer to him as Mr. Harumph.

Mr. Harumph didn't piss me off because he's arrogant, or because he suffers from a form of narcissistic personality disorder, or the fact that he's rude and unprofessional, or because he treats everyone like they are idiots. Well, okay, that stuff do piss me off but the coup de grace is that he's also incompetent, and incompetence + arrogance sends me off the deep end. These are the kind of people who try to blame others for their own mistakes. The kind who comes up with excuses (mostly half assed) of not being able to get something done on time or done right the first time (or second or third). The kind of people who cannot manage their own work load and burden other employees to pick up the slack. These are the people who make an otherwise tolerable work environment hostile.

There are too many things that Mr. Harumph does so I won't even bother listing them. For Pete's sake, this is a blog. But let me sum it up by providing one last analogy (as if you haven't gotten the picture yet). He's the kind of guy who would make an otherwise sane person want to bring public flogging into the workplace. (This is not to say that a person who believes in public flogging is insane.) Yeah, that guy. You know him well and don't you just want to slap the sneer right off his face? [whap!]

I think of myself as a fairly intellectual person, not stupid by any means. But I can't help but to ask myself, how do all these incompetent people keep their jobs, or find new ones, or worst, get promoted? Yes, the Peter Principle is alive and well. And how is it not possible for the rest of the competent work force to rid them? Begs one to ask if perhaps we are the incompetent (deep, I know). Too smart for our own good? Quite possibly.

So in a vain attempt to beseech anyone who works with a Mr. (or Ms.) Harumph, join the fight and STOP THE INCOMPETENCE! How? I have no friggin' idea or else I'd be up for a Pulitzer. But just so you and I don't feel alone, here is a small sampling of how rampant it is. Food for fodder and the next good cause. Now go and eat well.

Words of Nil Devine

Can We Turn Back the Rising Tide of Incompetence?

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Working With Idiots

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To Start Off...

Welcome to the first post of Barefoot Plumies (aka the Crazy Asian B*tch, or CAB for short). I have been contemplating all of 2 days as to what exactly am I going to blog. First thing that came to mind was barefoot running. This is something I recently took up in an effort to get back into some kind of shape. Then I got hungry (as I always am) and thought maybe food. But with all the wonderful food blogs out there, why mess with a good thing?

I visited some of my favorite blogs this morning, which got me asking myself why I want my own blog and what I hoped to get in return. As simple and slightly sad as it might seem, I just wanted something to do when (ahem) work is slow and maybe bring some humor and food for fodder (there she goes, talking about food again) to someone's day. It's also a way to capture my barefoot running experiment (more later on this).

As to the origin of CAB, it's a little joke the Mister has about my "crazy" attitude in different situations. Something like, "Look out! CAB is hungry and she's taking down anyone that gets in her way!" or "Hell has no furry like a CAB scorned." You get the idea.

So on to my first rant...

Can September 25 come any slower??? Hardcore gamers can immediately associate the date with the much anticipated release of Halo 3. No, I'm not a hardcore gamer but I can easily spend an afternoon playing video games. Haven't played much on the XBox ever since getting the Wii earlier in the year. As a matter of fact, I don't even have a 360 yet but that day is coming. Nope, haven't reserved my copy of Halo 3 yet but that day is also coming. I get all giggly just thinking about Halo 3!

To celebrate the release of Halo 3, a few friends and I will be gathering at Casa de Shangri-La (my house) in Sept. to have the 3rd annual Halo party. The usual food fare will be provided (usually bbq of some sort), although I am seriously contemplating on getting the food catered by Mo's Island Grinds (used to be Da Kitchen and the best island food in San Diego). That will leave more time to play!

Since it's been well over 6 months I last wielded a plasma gun, the Mister suggested we play Halo co-op in legendary mode. We were a bit surprised that we never tackled legendary mode; the Mister was convinced we did. We definitely tried it on Halo 2, well...up until the stupid DVD glitch. But I must say, it's fun getting back to Halo and legendary mode is a b*tch! Also goes to show how rusty I've become. We can't seem to complete Part 2 of Truth and Reconciliation: Into the Belly of the Beast. Those pesky Elites...may have to resort to looking up a cheat.

My second rant...

My left calf and quad are a bit sore today. I finally decided to learn the proper way to condition my feet and legs for barefoot running. The ball of my left foot is also a little sore from trying to run ball-heel-ball. It's only been about 2 weeks since I first started to run barefoot. This was after a friend of mine sent me the link to Vibram Five Fingers. Weird shoes but kind of cool, huh? I haven't gotten these yet since they are a bit expensive. Maybe in a month or so when I'm ready to run outdoors.

One of the biggest problems I've had in the past when restarting to run is sore shins even on my treadmill. I had a habit of pounding the pavement (running shoes will do that) and getting the joggers headache. So I never really truly enjoyed running, until I tried running barefoot. Starting wasn't a huge curve for me since I'm used to going barefoot at home (habit from growing up in Hawaii). I was able to walk/run a mile on my treadmill with no discomfort except for a little rough spot on each foot by the second toe. No shin pain! No muscle soreness! I wasn't even breathing heavy in the slightest bit.

I'm up to 1.5 miles (starting slow) and focusing on improving my form before I tackle distance and time (in that order). I'm holding off in adding kettlebells to my routine until I have more stamina. We'll see where I am in a month.

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