Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Adventures

Had a pretty relaxing weekend. I got up pretty early on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and got to enjoy the nice weather. On Saturday, I got up around 7:30AM, and used some leftover rosemary, dill & parsley to make Baked Eggs. Ever since I learned about Baked Eggs a year ago, when i saw them on a cooking show, I became obsessed with them and looked for them everywhere. For those of you who aren't familiar with this dish, bascially, it's 2-4 eggs broken into a gratin dish with a little bit of butter and heavy cream and then topped with things like herbs, cheese or vegetables or even sauce, and then finally broiled under an oven flame for a few minutes. Now, I've only seen Baked Eggs served at one restaurant at this place, Cafe Ronda. I went there on a brunch date with someone and was very pleasantly surprised to see Baked Eggs on the menu. Wow, I thought to myself. FINALLY, I found a restaurant that served them. I think that was probably the best brunch I've ever had.

After breakfast on Saturday, I went to go play tennis at Riverside Park & 119th street. It was a little annoying because there were still puddles on the courts which didn't dry all that much for the rest of our hour while me and my friend hit. I like the courts up there because they're hard court and there isn't as much hoopla as there is over at Central Park, not to mention the Central Park Tennis Center Nazis who work there and the countless MEAN Senior Citizens who seem to live there.

I came home after tennis and put down my stuff and then went to the gym to do this 15 min stretch class at Equinox Columbus Circle. My flexibility is pathetic. I can barely touch my toes when I stretch my calves, and I'm trying to improve it. I've thought about trying yoga, but like with anything new, I'm a little apprehensive since I don't know what I'm doing. And then also, I think, what do I wear to a yoga class?

After the gym, I went running along the W. Side Highway to go down to the Farmer's Market at Union Square, combining two of my most favorite things to do. I love running on the W. Side Highway next to the water and it's a straight line path which is nice too. But Saturday, the path along the W. Side Highway was crazy busy because of the Memorial Day Crowds. I kept having to detour across the street and fight the crowds, who that day seemed to be a little white-trashy, to get through my run. And I guess all of the Fleet Week boys were actually far away from their ships exploring Manhattan, since I saw like all of two guys that day.

I got down to the Farmer's Market at the end of my two mile run, but the market was kind of a bust. The farmers didn't yet have the really interesting summer veggies yet, and there weren't any of the usual interesting hippie people to observe. It was actually kind of empty. I guess a lot of people were away for the holiday this weekend. I did get some red onions and some potatoes to stock up, and I also bought a bag of my favorite salad green, Mizuna, which is this slightly spicy and crisp green that's popular in Japan. I always get some when I go down to the market.

I did more of the same on Sunday and Monday. But I didn't go out at all any evening this past weekend, despite my intense curiousity about a secret Fleet Week party that I've always wondered about, but apparently I'm not cool enough to know about it. I went to bed pretty early every night and got up fairly early, like around 7:30 or 8AM every day. It was a nice pattern to fall back on over the weekend. And I only wish I could be out of the house by that time on a workday. But I have a bad habit of waking up around 8:30 or 9 on weekdays and then working from home for a couple of hours and then finally rolling into the office around 11. Luckily, my company doesn't really mind that I do this, but it would be nice to get into the office on time. I complained about this to a friend of mine and said, "I seem to have no problem getting up early on weekends, but not on weekdays.

My friend responded, "It's probably because you get so much rest during the week."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mission Impossible III

WARNING: Below may contain spoilers

I saw Mission Impossible III a couple weekends ago over my birthday weekend. By the way, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. Woo-hoo. I'm 29 now.

Anyway, say what you will about Tom Cruise and how he's gone Michael Jackson crazy these days, he can still make a thoroughly entertaining summer popcorn flick.

I was in the mood for a breathtakingly mindless film, and this definitely delivered. Tom Cruise is still a great leading man, and I'm embarrassed to say, still really hot. Mega-star that he is, he still has the ability to carry a movie without overshadowing the script or the action. And J.J. Abrams used all of his tricks from Alias, Lost and even Felicity to make the movie seem almost like a long episode from one of his shows, particularly and not surprisingly Alias, which is my most favorite TV show ever. J.J. starts the movie with a high-adrenaline, harrowing scene and then immediately cuts back to a couple weeks earlier in a flashback, like the beginning of so many Alias episodes. He even has an appearance by Greg Grunberg at the beginning in a house that looked very similar to Sydney's first house on Alias, where an engagement party was going on. The party was shot in a very Abrams-esque style with the slow motion and the wide smiles and the poppy music ("Best Of My Love" by The Emotions -- one of the greatest songs ever) playing in the background, while everyone was dancing. The rest of the movie uses all sorts of cool gadgets, with a cool Marshall-esque gadget guy, and has all sorts of intricate plot lines like a chase through a German wind farm, and blowing up a a beautiful Lamborghini in the middle of the Vatican after a kidnapping involving latex masks, spilled wine and a pretty convincing voice capture & replication.

Felicity appears in this movie too, and it's nice to see her brandishing some steel as a secret agent. I heard Scarlett Johanssen was originally supposed to play that role, but I'm glad Keri Russell played it instead, and I have to say, she looked great. Secret agent work suits her.

I learned some other things from this movie: 1) Shanghai looks like an awesome city; 2) A softball pitching machine comes in handy when you want to supremely annoy someone; 3) Tom Cruise can still run like the wind. Man, he's fast. 4) Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is my new celebrity crush, replacing Michael Vartan. Match Point started it. This movie cements it.

Probably the best thing about this movie is that it makes it easy to forget that Ethan Hunt in real life is a crazy Scientologist freak who knocked up Joey Potter. But this movie has great suspense, intrigue, thrilling action scenes, extreme stunts and everything else a summer movie should have. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I really like to swim, but I suck at it. I wish I was really good at swimming - like Olympic level. I see so many good swimmers at the pool at my gym and they look so effortless. I do a decent freestyle stroke, but butterfly, breast stroke and backstroke are outside of my repertoire. Actually, I never understood the backstroke. I always thought it was kind of pointless. Why would you ever swim backwards? And the backstroke is kind of hard on your shoulder sockets and rotator cuffs.

So I was thoroughly impressed with this 7 year old swimming 1.4 miles from Alcatraz to San Francisco. I don't even remember what I was doing when I was seven except playing with GI Joe and watching Saturday morning cartoons. I didn't get to watch cartoons on weekdays because my parents thought cable TV was the path towards Idiots R Us State University.

I remember the first time I ever swam an Olympic length pool. I was in Hamburg, Germany at the time on vacation. My hotel had a pool, but it was really small, and I wanted to swim in something longer. The concierge directed me to the Alster-Schwimmhalle. When I got there and saw the 50 meter pool, I looked and thought "Oh that looks easy. I can swim that back and forth 10 times. No problem." I jumped in and started swimming. It felt good to be in a real pool. But about half-way across during my first lap, I could feel my upper body sinking a bit. Pretty soon, I was thinking "Hmm, this is actually kind of tough." By about 3/4 of the way across my first lap, I thought I was gonna drown.

That seven year old would have laughed at me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

You're Gonna Break A Toe

Tonight at the gym, some moron was wearing flip-flops.

I wanted to drop a weight on his foot to show him how dangerous that is. He was doing a full lifting work out, not just a stop over at the weights on his way back from yoga or something. I hope someone told him to put on some shoes.

Then again, it's a bit disturbing that instead of kindly educating him on the hazard of wearing flip-flops in the gym, I had a desire to take the barbaric route and show him by example.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You Look Maaahvelous

I've been really sick. It all started last week when I had an annoying sore throat, but otherwise I felt fine. As the week went on, it got progressively worse, culminating in severe chills, high fever and losing my voice. I'm only starting to feel slightly normal now, more than after a week after this all started.

On Tuesday, this week, I went into the office. But I felt like crap, and decided to pack my bag and head back home. I gathered all my things, and put on my black Jil Sander shirt jacket and my double-face Burberry navy blue trench coat and grabbed my Ghurka bag. I was wearing a charcoal grey Calvin Klein Black Label wool shirt and Giorgio Armani Black Label wool crepe pants, with a Prada black leather belt and A. Testoni black lace-up shoes. As you can probably tell, I was dressed pretty warmly in all that heavy wool, but the weather in New York this week has been cool, and I was sick as a dog, so conserving my body heat really was my primary concern that day, not how I looked.

I left my office building and saw two of my co-workers as I left. Then I visited my doctor, got my prescription and a throat culture taken. Then I headed straight home and changed into sweats and got into bed.

Today, I returned to the office, and everyone was asking me how I was feeling, which thankfully was a little better. Then my two co-workers who saw me leave the other day came over to my office and told me,

"You looked really pale."

"I did?", I replied.

"Yeah, but you looked FABULOUS! All nice in your long dark coat. And your hair was perfect and your nice bag...."
I thought about this. I honestly didn't give that much thought to what I was wearing that day, except for WARMTH. However, I was going to the doctor's office that day, and so I must have subconsiously picked a well put-together outfit, like I usually do, if I do say so myself. And I couldn't just go to the doctor's office looking like a homeless person. Fashion comes first, even when you're sick.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hands-Free Kit

When I was at my old job, I had to beg and plead to get a telephone headset. For some stupid reason, my old firm only gave them to lawyers and secretaries and not to legal assistants or case managers. Finally, one day I was complaining about not having one to one of the secretaries who I was friends with. Well, actually I use the term "friend" loosely. I was really more friends with the lawyer he worked for, and chatted with his secretary, more out of necessity to stay on his good side (the secretary, not the lawyer). He was nice enough, just kind of a "talker" and could keep you there talking about who knows what. When he heard that I really really wanted a headset though, he said he would hook me up.

The next day, a surprise package arrived in my office. I got my headset. I plugged it in with great excitement. I couldn't wait for my first call. When someone finally called me, it was like the best thing since sliced bread. I felt so free. No more sore arms.

I also now find having a bluetooth headset with my cell phone to be an absolute life necessity, despite my incessant teasing to my friend before because I told him he looked like he was talking to himself. I then got a free Motorola 750, and all my memories of my first headset at the office came flooding back, and I was hooked. The reception was good for the headset that I got, and it fit reasonably well; it only flopped around a little when I wore my glasses. But it had this really annoying blue flashing light whenever you used it, like I was receiving signals from outer space or something to beam me up.

I don't have this headset anymore because the other day, I stupidly broke the thing. I plugged my headset into my charger even though I could see that the prongs on my charger were a little bent. I let it charge and after a few minutes, I tried to pull my headset out. The damn thing wasn't coming out! I struggled to get the charger out of my headset. Finally it did come out along with a big chunk of my headset. Oh great. I just broke it.

So now I need a new headset. Basically I wan't something that will securly stay on my ear while I pace around and yap away in my apartment. Something hefty, but not so big that it will make me look like Janet Jackson from Rhythm Nation. I think I found one to my liking made by Sony Ericsson and have ordered it. The coolest part is that it has a caller ID display in the actual earpiece. Weeee.

My life is so exciting sometimes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why I Do Not Heart New Jersey (Reprise)

I previously had taken down this post from last July because I was pursuing a lawsuit last summer about my accident while changing a tire. Well, I apparently don't have much of a case since it's too ambiguous about how much of the accident was caused by my own misuse of the jack. In any event, since a lawsuit and my life as a personal injury millionnaire beneficiary is no longer in the works, I'm reposting my account because so many of my faithful readers didn't get to read my version what happened.

I'll be posting a new post soon. I've been suffering from strep throat for the past 6 days. Ugh.

Why I Do Not Heart New Jersey

So I broke my arm about 5 weeks ago and it sucks. It was a pretty horrible accident. I was driving down to Philadelphia and got a flat tire. It was around 9:00 at night and I was stuck between Exits 13 & 14 on the NJ Turnpike. I got out of the car and could smell the burnt rubber. I immediately called Roadside Assistance and was informed that they would not be able to come to me because the NJ State Police does not allow outside towing or vehicle assistance companies to come on to the turnpike. Since I have changed tires myself before, I decided to do the job myself. I was in a hurry to get to Philly and did not want to be stuck there all night.

So I dug out the jack and spare tire from the trunk and pump myself up for a nice manly hour of me vs. the tire. One of those rare moments when I’m doing something truly masculine. It's like I'm a cowboy coming back from branding cattle. I got the old tire off. I’m doing well, I thought to myself. I’ll be out of here in no time. Then as I was putting the new tire on, the jack buckled bringing the car down on to my arm crushing it between the wheel well and the new tire.

There I am with my arm stuck inside the car, sitting on the ground. Cars are whizzing past me. I can feel the shaking of my car and the vibration in the ground as cars sped past me on the highway. When I realized that no one was going to be able to see me, I started to feel really scared. I thought I was going to be there all night. Finally, I used all my strength to slowly pull my arm out. I was free.

At first, I thought I was fine. Just some bad bruises, my mind told me. I was about to get into the car and drive again. But then I look at my hand and realized it was hanging at an angle at which no hand ever normally hangs. I also realized I couldn’t make a grip to open the car door. Then the pain came, and I knew I had to call for help.

I sat in the car and called 911. The 911 dispatcher sent four cop cars and an ambulance to me. The police arrived first and as soon as they flashed their lights, traffic started to bottleneck. Normally, I would have taken great satisfaction in having an entire highway stop to wait for me, but I was in too much pain. The first officer opened the door and asked me what happened. He then shined his flashlight on my arm. My arm had now developed a huge swelling mass, as if a tennis ball was lodged under my skin. The ambulance couldn’t come soon enough.

While I was waiting for the ambulance, the officers started to ask me for my name, age and other pertinent information. One asked for my ID and I said it was in my wallet in my back pocket. In a very cute way, because he was obviously embarrassed, he reached behind me and pulled my wallet out. If it was any other circumstance, I would have tried to smile at him, but now was not the time.

Nor was it the time for me to act as a salesman for Toyota. I was driving the electric/gas hybrid Toyota Prius car. The car’s pretty unique inside. All sorts of bar graphs and pie charts are flashing on the screen inside and even turning on the car is different from a normal car. Well, the guys from the police were understandably fascinated with my car and I answered all of their questions through clenched teeth. I didn’t mind too much though because it did take my mind off the pain a bit. By that time, the ambulance had arrived and I was helped out of my car and into the ambulance. As the ambulance back doors closed, the last question the police asked me was “Hey, How do you turn this car on?”

I have lots of more stories to tell about my broken arm, and I’m sure they’ll be the subject of more posts later. But the point of this post is to declare “I Do Not Heart NJ”. I’ve always disliked Jersey. Driving through it is a pain because you can’t make a left turn anywhere. You’re like trapped on roads because of the barrier in the middle. Also NJ has the most idiotic, cheap and amateurish politicians ever. I don’t know where they come from. I guess NJ. Now, I’m not going to say any comments about people from NJ because I do have many friends from NJ. But to my NJ friends, I’m sorry, NJ is cursed in my book (or more likely, it just doesn’t like me, which is fine with me).

For more on the suckiness of New Jersey, go here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Foster City

My friend from college who lives out in Silicon Valley recently moved from San Mateo to Foster City. I really liked his neighborhood in San Mateo. The weather and upscale setting provided a nice quality of life. The town was nice too. There's a main street with a Jamba Juice, good restaurants, and even an Equinox. San Mateo even has it's own "Central Park", which I find a bit dubious. New York has the rights to the name "Central Park" and no other city. My friend lived in a rental apartment right across the street from a very spacious Whole Foods and other retail and dining places. And on that topic I have to say that Whole Foods in California are a lot nicer than ones here in NY, not that the Whole Foods in NY are shitty. No, far from it. But the ones in California are even nicer if that's possible.

Then one day, my friend was told by his building management company that he'd have to move because they were converting all the units into condos. The management company helped my friend find a new apartment in one of the other buildings they managed, and eventually my friend found one. He took over a lease for an apartment in Foster City.

Before my friend moved there, I had never heard of Foster City, but I had some initial impressions of what it would be like. For some reason, whenever I hear a town's name with the word "city", I always think of Detroit because of it's nickname as the "Motor City" and then equate that town with what I imagine Detroit would be like. Then of course, there's Dodge City, Rapid City, etc, and none of those places sound all that appealing either. Now, two things. First, I have never been to Detroit, but everything I've heard about it hasn't been good. All I've heard is poor, ghetto, crime-ridden neighborhoods and a population rife with unemployment since General Motors is a shit-hole company, with Ford and Chrysler only marginally better. Then of course I think about Motown too, but their glory days have long been over ever since Boyz II Men started doing the tours of Indian reservation casinos.

The second thing is I realize that I live in "New York CITY". But no one ever says, "I'm from New York City" unless you're a total douchebag trying to impress someone. And New York is New York. No one would ever confuse Detroit for New York.

So as my friend began to tell me more about his new apartment and his new neighborhood, I wasn't getting a good vibe. He told me that he was moving to "Foster City" (I hear "ghetto city") and instead of Whole Foods, he now lives near an "Asian Market" (I hear "ghetto NY style Korean deli.") Combined with the fact that my friend didn't have much time to find an apartment and move and probably had to find a place at the last minute, I was convinced that he lived in some hell-hole.

You can imagine my surprise when I finally visited his new place to see a nice-looking town that was apparently built as a planned community with lots of parks. When we drove up to his new apartment complex, I was really surprised to see a nice strip mall with a UPS store, the mother of all Chipotle franchises (seriously, this was the most spectacular and biggest Chipotle I have ever seen) and some other retail. And that Asian grocery store? It was actually a Ranch 99 and looked like a totally normal (and big) supermarket. I kind of wish we had a Ranch 99 in NY, so it'd be easier for me to get Korean food ingredients.

Being "City-ist" can be really dangerous.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Yoanna House Is Following Me

I live on the Upper West Side near Lincoln Center. It's a pretty nice neighborhood and has everything I could ever need. I live within walking distance of Central Park, two Equinox branches, four gourmet grocery stores (Balduccis, Citarella, Fairway and Whole Foods), across the street from a Citibank, and access to both the 1/9 & 2/3 subway lines. Most of my friends live downtown and I used to as well in Gramercy. When I moved to the Upper West Side, people thought I lived in outer space because they said it was "soooooo far." But I enjoy living uptown, especially when I was working at my old job down on Wall Street. Coming home to the Upper West Side (even if sometimes it was at 4AM) gave me a nice sense of detachment from the office.

Obviously, I'm in agreement with others about the quality of living here. Apartments are super-expensive here and in high demand. Celebrities like Regis Philbin, Jon Bon Jovi, Rosie O'Donnell, Jerry Seinfeld live in the neighborhood. I see famous people like them every once in a while, but not too often. However, in the past two months, I've seen Yoanna House of America's Top Model fame with the ubiquitous Tyra Banks at least six or seven times. Six out of those seven times were at Equinox in Columbus Circle. She ALWAYS does the ellipitical machine and she smiles a lot. I heard she had a bit of a weight problem before. Well, she certainly doesn't have that now. The last time I saw her was at Fairway. She had some salad, fruit, skim milk and other typical model body detox model food in her shopping cart. But then I saw her grab a dozen eggs. Hmmm...maybe Yoanna's a cook?

Speaking of America's Top Model and Tyra Banks, I think Tyra Banks is incredibly annoying. I think the most annoying thing about her is that she has this strong self-belief that everybody wants to BE her. I remember I was watching Oprah and Tyra Banks was on the show talking about how to make yourself look better. And all sorts of models came out stylized by Tyra. Then Tyra exclaimed, like Moses, "Everybody can have Tyra hair!"

Now having seen Yoanna just walking around the neighborhood like a normal person, she seems fairly approchable to me. If anything, seeing her now is mundane to me, not that it was ever that exciting.