family, goodness, life, manfolk, school

Hawai’i: Day eight

Finally, I’ve gotten around to writing about our last day in Hawai’i.  We were bummed to leave, but also kinda ready (the humidity makes you feel sticky all the time.  The copious amounts of sunscreen didn’t help either).

Our last day there was the day of my presentation at the conference!  I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited about meeting people, presenting my ideas, fielding questions, and hearing the other presentations in my session.  My presentation went really well; there were several questions afterward, and one of the women (who was also presenting) had also played World of Warcraft, so we had loads to talk about afterward.  Her presentation was on gender roles in TV and movies, particularly the way they are portrayed in ancient dramas (Rome, 300, Game of Thrones, etc.).  It was really interesting.  She lives in Sweden, and invited me to come speak at her university so we’re staying in touch.

SO GOOD

SO GOOD

Afterward I felt free as a bird and really excited to get some pork laulau, which I’d been craving all week.  We went to Ono Hawai’ian Foods on Kapahulu near Waikiki on uncle Bobby’s recommendation, and it turned out to be the same place I went with my cousin Leah the last time I was in town for the same conference.  Boyfriend tried poi for the first time and actually liked it (shock).  I was still riding high on being finished with my presentation (even though it was the last day of our trip), so we drove to Dave’s Ice Cream for another helping of azuki bean ice cream.  They had a dark/bright purple ice cream that was imo flavored (Japanese [Okinawan] purple sweet potato) which was bonkers.

how does this sign help?  all it does is freak people out.

found this sign at the Pali Lookout. how does this help? all it does is freak people out.

We headed back to Lanikai side to have one last ocean experience before we left the next day.  On our way, I realized that we’d been driving past the Pali Lookout but hadn’t yet gone up.  So we took a quick detour to enjoy the view and almost got blown right off the mountain.  There were loads of tourists from all over, but my favorite was a German woman feeding wild chickens that had come out of the forest right next to the parking lot while her husband smiled and told her to get in the car.

We brought Boyfriend’s nice camera to the beach, and I brought my ukulele.  He took a few photos, and we swam around a bit enjoying the water and watching people kayak around.  When we went back in, a guy had a bucket with a couple fish, and encouraged us to take a photo of them in rapid pidgin.  He said one of them was a barracuda, cool!

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

We were sad to leave Bob and Nancy (and Bella, *sniffle*), but it was so nice to spend so much time with them that it was hard to be too broken up.  Boyfriend and I woke up at 330am to drive across the island and arrive at the airport by 5 so I could be on a plane by 620am.  On the drive back, boyfriend apparently stopped and took a bunch of photos of the sunrise over the ocean near Lanikai.  I’m jealous I couldn’t see it with him, the photos are incredible.  I ended up taking a later flight anyway, and got a $400 voucher in exchange, woot!  Continental owes me that for that time they botched my trip to the east coast to visit Boyfriend a few years back (I’m still a little broken up about that, lol).

I’m so glad Boyfriend and I had this trip together.  After more than five years we’re still excited to see each other and spend time together.  I’m looking forward to spending that voucher on another fun trip with him 🙂

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele

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Oban to Ayr

Breakfast was at 845 today: Canadian bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg with toast and tea, just like yesterday. I had about an hour to pull my things together and be out by 1015.

the man in the blue shirt and cap is the owner

My train to Glasgow wasn’t until 1, so I meandered down the hill and found a picnic table to sit and enjoy the view for the last time.  I pulled out my ukulele for he first time since JFK, tuned it up, and played just a couple of songs before some happa guy with glasses approached me and said he loved playing uke.  We started chatting and I invited him to sit down for a spell.  Turns out he has the same Lanikai ukulele back home in Atlanta (he was American), and an almost identical case (from this store on Etsy). We talked about what we liked about Oban, Edinburgh and Dublin (he loved Galway).  I asked where he’d eaten (food is an important topic while travelling), and he named a few fish and chips places, but he hadn’t been to the shack where I’d had oysters every day.  So we went and had half a dozen oysters each (his treat).  He was thoroughly impressed, of course.

We found a seat under the clock tower near the bus stop (his bus left at noon), and chatted some more until he left.  While we waited, an old man approached us with a smile and said, “I thought I should know your names since I took a photo of you!”  He had taken a photo of the clock tower, and since we occupied its base, we ended up in the shot.  I offered him a seat next to me, and he proceeded to monologue with pride about his Panasonic digital camera (similar to mine, but nicer), how he didn’t need to add extra lenses (so cumbersome) because of the excellent optical zoom on his camera.  And so on until he abruptly stood, blurted a friendly good-bye, and walked away.

fish stew and “crusty bread”

My American buddy and I exchanged emails; he lives in Atlanta and travels a good amount, so we’ll have to keep in touch.  After he left I went back to my picnic table and had some fish stew from a stand on the bay, so delicious.  I grabbed a good seat on the train, and started reading A Walk in the Woods, a hilarious and fascinating book by Bill Bryson about walking the Appalachian Trail.  I got bit by the hiking bug during my walk around Kerrera.  I’ll have to do some hiking when I get back.

After a transfer at Glasgow I was on my way to Irvine to see Scottish friend, whom I haven’t set eyes on since the 2004 trip to Romania where we met.  She met me at the train station with a hug, and laughed when I tried to get into the driver’s side of the car.  We picked up her cat from the vet, and chatted during the rather scenic drive to her house, where she lives with three very friendly and playful cats, and her boyfriend of several years.  He had food poisoning, and couldn’t come to dinner with us (which I was happy about, actually), poor guy.  Scottish Friend took me to a restaurant called Scott’s (I think?), where I immediately ordered the haggis as a starter, and an enormous seafood platter for the main dish.  The haggis was… amazing.  So delicious.  It was put together with some mashed potatoes on top and a cream sauce over the whole thing (which is typical, apparently) in a somewhat cylindrical fashion.  I was extremely impressed.  I asked Scottish Friend if people there really eat haggis all that often, and she said eats it about twice a week.  I’ll have to find a good place here in LA for it (although it’s such a volatile dish, that should be an adventure).

OHAI I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE

We went home and looked through her photos of the Romania trip.  She remembered almost everyone’s names (I couldn’t remember hardly any).  She and her boyfriend and I stayed up and chatted about accents (apparently it’s commonly known that Scottish Friend is universally difficult to understand, since she has somehow managed to create an accent all her own), and their burning desire to visit America, bolstered by the boyfriend’s current obsession with Man v. Food, a show on the Travel Channel where some American man with inevitably high cholesterol eats ridiculous portions of enormous foods at diners and the like all over the country.  I told him I would be sure to show him all the best places too eat around Los Angeles: Korean food, sushi, pho (which they had never heard of!), burgers, pasta, sandwiches, etc.  This fanned the flames a good amount until it was time to go to bed.

I slept in their guest bed, which was the softest, warmest, fluffiest cloud-of-a-bed I had slept in during the whole trip.  I was devastated to get up at 5am to catch a flight in Prestwick to Dublin.  Scottish Friend was nice enough to wake up early and take me to the airport.  How do we get along so well after all these years?  Strange how a connection between two people can be so easy.  She is such a blast.  I can’t wait to see her again, soon I hope.

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Ukulele case!

My ukulele case arrived!

on our brand new couch/giant chair

It’s so cute and soft, and it does an excellent job of holding my ukulele for me.  It came all the way from Thailand via Etsy!  It has a shoulder strap that I’ll use when I ride my bike to the beach to play my ukulele on the sand, in the sun.  It arrived in a brown paper package tied up with string.  I shit you not.  See?

Maria was right after all

It’s much better than the cardboard box it was delivered in, although I must admit, I will miss it a little.  I even decorated it a little 🙂

look at how pleased armless me is

 

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Ukulele time is happy time

Lanikai ukulele

I just took up the ukulele!  I got a Lanikai soprano ukulele on Wednesday, and I’ve been practicing a couple hours a day since.  My fingers are in less pain every day, and Diminutive Roommate and I jam every time she gets home in time.  The first song I learned was Jamaica Farewell (Harry Belafonte).  I can also play Big Jet Plane by Angus & Julia Stone, Can’t Go Back Now by The Weepies, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Singing while playing is easier than I thought it would be; maybe because I spent so much time singing in the choir growing up.  I’m so glad I did that.  Now I can hit a note if I want to.

This is my first successful foray into the land of instruments.  I taught myself More Than Words on the guitar in high school, and I took a semester of piano at USC where I learned Paca Bell’s Canon (my parent’s wedding music, which I was going to surprise them with, oh well).  But the uke is so transportable, so much easier to play, and I know two people who are enthused about it too, so I’m excited to see myself progress.  So far so good; I’m picking it up pretty quickly.  I heard something about blues ukulele… that sounds good but… odd…

UPDATE: March 14th, 1:10pm
I’m starting to get calluses!  And I’m trying to find a good version of “I Just Can’t Wait to be King,” because that would be a hilarious, fun duet.  She also wants to learn “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People.  I contacted my uncle Skeeto to find out what kind of songs he and my dad grew up listening to/singing, and he sent me a few ideas (Little Grass Shack, Tiny Bubbles, Moonlight Bay).  I originally wanted to learn some traditional Hawai’ian songs, but they’re not as prevalent online as I thought they’d be.  I’ll have to buy some music books 🙂

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family, goodness, humor, life, manfolk, nerd

The one percent

I was looking through my iPhone photos this morning, and a random thought occurred to me: what would my life look like if I could only see every hundredth photo?  I recently cleaned out my phone of extraneous contacts, photos, emails, apps, etc., and the aftermath is just over a thousand photos of the past year and a half.  Here’s what one percent of my life looks like:

#1
I have to include number one; it’s a good starting point.  My mom gave me her iPhone 3g when she got a Blackberry from work, so I inherited some of her photos, and haven’t had the heart to delete them.  She travels for work (too much), and took this shot at a waterfall.  It was nice to turn on my “new” iPhone for the first time, and see that my mom has a good eye.

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#100
I work at Karate Job in Redondo Beach three times a week now, and there’s a pretty strong jalopy following down there.  I used to see at least one every few weeks.  This one was particularly shiny and handsome.  The owners are always  happy to let me snap a quick shot.  It’s like a car version of really good cosplay; they put a ton of work into it, and are happy to share their enthusiasm with others.

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#200
I’m your average nerd in a lot of ways: table top/online/video gamer, cosplayer, renaissance attendee (with costume), BSG fan, anime fan, manga reader, etc.  When I bought some go-karting tickets for Boyfriend for his birthday, we decided to go with a group of friends, who promptly decided it would be fun to dress up like Mario Kart characters.  Some of us bought our costumes, others made theirs from whatever they had lying around.  I did a combination: I painted an old helmet like an 8-bit piranha plant, bought a green spandex body suit, and voila!  A costume I could wear on the track without using any of the public equipment.  This is the helmet in-progress.  It turned out really well.

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#300
My friends are (of course), nerds too, bless their little hearts, and for a while, Wrath of Ashardalon was our game.  We couldn’t get enough.  I even drew my own character art, and wrote a dozen spells specifically for him.  This is one of those games where you pick your final boss at random.  Our first game, we pulled the game’s namesake: the main boss, Ashardalon, a giant fire-breathing death lizard.  His character dwarfed ours.  We were honestly a little scared.  It was a close one, but we pulled it off!  A very exciting game, and one that I felt the need to document.  As you can see, one of us has already died, while another has just rolled horribly.  Note the cave-in in the adjacent room.  That was a fun series of disasters.

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#400
I love the Renaissance Faire.  It’s so harmless and fun.  Women dress like tarts and men dress like warriors, and no felony sexual assault results.  People walk around fully armed with many very sharp swords and daggers, and no one fights.  Everyone is friendly, even to that one guy who dresses as a ninja, or that other dude who came as Captain Kirk that one time.  Everyone is so wrapped up in admiring costumes, eating turkey legs, playing games, and going to hilarious shows that a sense of good will permeates the fair grounds, and one feels out of place without a smile.
Boyfriend couldn’t make it to last year’s fair, so I took this photo to remind him of how pretty I look wearing girly stuff.

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#500
Diminutive Roommate has been on the hunt for a house for the past year or so, and most of the houses within her price range are in the valley.  I like to go with her whenever I can go give her a second set of eyes, and just to hang out.  Of course, it’s sweltering hot in the valley half the year, so on our way back from visiting one of her prospects this past summer, she blurted out, “Let’s get a watermelon!”  I said, “You’re a genius.  You’re my favorite person right now.”  We pulled over at a Trader Joe’s, grabbed this little guy and strapped him into the back seat.  I’m still pretty protective of my new Fiat, and Diminutive Roommate was eating raspberries or something in the front seat, and had her hands full.  So I improvised.

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#600
I can’t believe it took six hundred photos to randomly fall on one of Calico, Diminutive Roommate’s adorable cat.  She’s like a dog trapped in a feline’s body.  She flops over to have her tummy rubbed.  She loves smelly feet.  She begs when we eat delicious meats.  She’ll cry until we feed her, or if she just wants some company in the morning.  She tackles our legs with all the force her little body can muster, and sometimes it’s really scary.  She’s very sweet, and super cute.  She loves her tennis ball, and she occasionally chirp/meows at the birds outside.  She had just gotten trimmed before this photo, so she looks tiny.  She’s usually pretty poofy.

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#700
My room needs some overhead lighting, so when Dad and I went to Ikea to pick up some cabinets for the apartment we’re fixing up, we decided to see if they had any cool light fixtures.  In order to get to the lighting section, you have to pass through the entire store, so like most people in Ikea, we went a little crazy.  Dad has a great sense of humor, so when he saw these stuffed sharks, this is the first thing he did.  I made him freeze so I could snap a quick photo.  Y’know, for posterity. (note the Lanikai Canoe Club hat 🙂 )

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#800
My family has had a rough time this past year and a half, but this Christmas was really nice.  Mom asked Sister and me to spend the night Xmas eve, and sleep in our old beds, just like when we were little.  She coerced us with a promise of pancakes and bacon in the morning.  It’s a commonly-known fact that my mom’s pancakes are the best pancakes.  You didn’t know?  Yeah, they’re the best.

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#900
Diminutive Roommate and I used to go grocery shopping together all the time, and we always had a blast.  It was like going to a theme park.  Every isle held something fun and stupid to laugh about.  It was a golden era; we were both dating nice guys named John, we shared a room in a pretty gated community in Culver City, we were still in school, and everything was as it should be.  This talent to find fun in ordinary places is one she and I have retained, but when we found a hat in the shape of a giraffe at Joanne’s while hunting for fabric to cover my couch, the pieces sort of fell into place on their own.  I think it really suits her.

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#1000
I just took this photo last night!  Diminutive Roommate’s coworker came over a couple weeks ago to play poker, and mentioned that he had taken up playing the ukulele.  He’s the outdoorsy type, and wanted an instrument he could take with him on backpacking trips and the like.  I said I had always wanted to learn to play the uke, and he offered to teach me.  Diminutive Roommate said she wanted to learn too.  My Lanikai uke just arrived yesterday; hers is arriving tomorrow.  I can’t wait to jam with her and her friend.

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A quick summary of the first thousand photos on my phone:
Mom has quite the artist’s eye on her travels.
Jalopy’s are fun and remind me of Archie.
Go-karting is a perfect venue to show off your love for Mario Kart.
My friends and I love our table-top games.
The Renn Faire is the only place I feel comfortable dressing like a lady.
Watermelons are the ultimate summer snack.
Calico is as adorable as she is deadly.
Dad allows himself to be mauled by a shark to keep us sane at Ikea.
Mom makes a delicious Xmas morning breakfast.
Diminutive Roommate does her part to maintain tradition of being weird and fun.
I love my new uke.

I’m pleased with the turnout here: family, hobbies, friends.  It’s a happy collection, but I’m disappointed at the locality of them.  New goal for the next thousand: exotic locations, new experiences.

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