Monday, September 29, 2008

Lifelong criminal

In continuing with my environmental misdeeds I hate to admit that I may have committed another crime.

(I reiterate that I do my best to conserve and respect the environment where possible but compared to the ideal around here, I don't think I'm performing up to par.)

I find that Oregon's feel good efforts at environmental consciousness are everywhere. Case in point, in the bathroom of the Portland Airport today, I found this little instruction panel on the back of the stall door staring me in the face.

It may as well have said, "This is how you flush you water-waster". It is overkill. I appreciate the efforts, and I was impressed at first but then I thought, this is a bit much. Telling me how to flush my crap?

And really, I don't think the execution of this whole "re-invent the flush" campaign was done effectively. If you think about it, the natural flush motion is down. How many people will actually make the conscious effort to flush up for "1" and down for "2"? I would guess that most people go "1" more than they would "2" in a public bathroom and would just naturally flush down as is customary. To be most effective, the motions should be switched.

And to add, flushing up means rubbing the top of your shoe on the bottom of dingey handle and if you're wearing flip-flops, that's a no-go.

And why so mysterious? Why not just be straight up and to the point? 1? 2? and then a parenthetical explanation? Speak English folks. Just say it is like it is. If you're going to use allusions such as #1 and #2, may as well just say "pee" and "poop" because that's what they mean.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Breakin' the law

In this picture are Andrew Verner, Director of Graduate Programs and Anne Forrestel, Director of the Leadership Communications Center of the business school. Dr. Verner rides his bike to campus most of the year. Anne rides her bike to school year round. Do you realize how much it rains here? How cold it gets? How icy the roads get? The fact that it snows here? And they aren't the only ones around here who do that...Folks like these great people are one big reason I chose Oregon!

Today, I felt like I broke a law in Eugene.

I had just finished off an Odwalla drink and standing outside of the business building, I couldn't find a recycle bin anywhere and I was sweatin' it.

Though very recycle-conscious myself, coming to Eugene has been quite the eye-opener. I worry that the life of the garbage man is either non-existent or in danger of extinction!

So, my plight was to either dump the empty bottle in the trash or carry it around with me. But, we were all just starting to load into vans for a service project, so I actually really just needed to get rid of it. Argh. Since when are recycle bins sparse anywhere in Eugene? Not opting to do the latter, I chose to dump it and reluctantly, and almost secretly, I tossed it in the trash. Part of me felt guilty, but most of me worried that I would be ticketed or ambushed by green freaks for the improper disposal of a perfectly recyclable item. Turns out neither happened, though the guilt still kind of lingers...

I am continually impressed and amazed at the level of environmental consciousness here in Eugene. People ride their bikes, take the bus or walk more than I have ever seen in any city besides New York. It is truly impressive.

Now that I ride the bus everyday and pretty much recycle anything and everything thanks to convenience and accessibility, I figure all I need now is a compost bin and I should be all set!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Eugene Outing

Though school doesn't start until September 29 (welcome to the quarter system), I am confident in suggesting that my business program rename our two-week "Orientation" to "unofficial start of school."

In our first week, we have been deeply immersed in a crash course in the skills and attitudes that will help us throughout the next two years. I have been impressed with the instructors and the instruction we have received and have actually enjoyed the long days in the classroom. After a pretty intense week of eight-hour days (I thought I quit my job for a reason...) we finally got some time to explore.

(Thanks to all of you for donating to me the "hand in the air" pose for pictures. Despite all implications, it makes all the difference in me doing nothing or doing something in pics. For some reason, it just works.)

Just a short drive south of the University is a really big hill called Spencer's Butte. Yeah, it doesn't sound impressive, but it's a local favorite with great views of Eugene and challenging hikes.

On a clear day you can see all of Eugene from the top. On this particular day, a haze hung over Eugene. It seemed like smog, a marine layer or fog, but it was something else familiar to LA: forest fire smoke.

Eugene has been really nice, but I will admit, I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and being with close friends next weekend when I take off for Arizona for Heather Feather's wedding...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Best Together

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are unbeatably funny together.

They starred in the movie, "Baby Mama" opposite each other and totally cracked me up!

On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live two weeks ago, they rocked the opening with their impressions of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

And in only one minute and twenty seconds, I am confidently stating that the pair stole the show on last night's Emmy Awards show.

These two are so great together!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seattle and Dad

The weather in Seattle was in the high 80s and perfectly clear. Driving into town made me remember how beautiful my hometown can be. So, this time around I did something I don't usually do: be a tourist.

I have always wanted to go to the Ballard Locks which serves the purpose of moving boats from the fresh water level of Lake Washington and Lake Union to the sea water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa.

I had actually been through the Locks on a boat once in high school and I was totally entertained at the whole transaction. This time around, I wanted to see it from the outside-in.

This is the view going out to Puget Sound.

This is the sea level view on one side of Locks where the water level is much lower.

This is the fresh water level view of the other side of the Locks where the water is higher and the boats are waiting for the water to drain so as to enter into Puget Sound.

The boats are tied and waiting to be lowered.

After the drainage, you can see how low sea water level is! Isn't it exciting?! I think it's so cool!

Growing up, I remember drawing pictures and learning all about the salmon spawning cycle. It's crazy that it's still interesting to me! This is the fish ladder for salmon. So great!

Then I headed to my second favorite spot in Seattle where I think you get the best views. Gas Works Park is right off Lake Union and it is a prime spot for kite-flying, watching a regata, having a picnic or playing with the kids.

The park used to be the site of an old oil refinery in the early 1900s. It's at a beautiful location and is full of character.

You just can't beat the views.

In the Fremont area, if you turn up the wrong street, you might be startled to find this Troll staring you down. The Fremont Troll is a well-hidden piece of Seattle art. It's fun to look at.

He clutches an old VW bug and his eyeball is actually a VW bug hubcap. Super cool...

Then I went to my favorite place in Seattle. Greenlake. Where I grew up. Where I swam all through the summers and came to love as my favorite 3.1 mile run.

I swam at either two spots: here at the Bathhouse Theater, or on the other side of the lake at Evan's. The lake was gross and could give you good itches, but it was the best part of summer.

On the weekends, this kiddie pool is filled with about 1.5 feet of water. Every kid in Seattle has pee'd here.

After spending a good day by myself, I wanted to get out and share it with my dad. My mom has been in Korea for the last week and my dad has been kickin' it by his lonesome. On a trek to find a Seattle souvenir shop, which actually turned out to be quite a task, my dad and I ended up the Seattle Center and he was such a good sport in modeling for me!

I learned to love Seattle all over again. It's beautiful in the summers and I will admit, though the contstant moisture can be a nuisance, it is peaceful when it rains.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mommy Oh and Cars

My parents have been contemplating buying a new car for the last little while. They have a Mazda now that they have been happy with and are considering replacing it with another Mazda.

My mom was talking to my sister about it and of all things, she has one requirement:

Mom: We want to buy car with handle because you know when you go parking lot all car looks same, but car with handle easy to find.

Rachel: Handle? What do you mean, 'handle'?

Mom: It's 'handle'. On back of car. Make easy to find.

Rachel: A handle? Do you mean a spoiler?

Mom: I don't know. Look like handle.

Apparently, my mom wants a car with a spoiler on the back. Who knew she would be so big pimpin'?! Gotta give her props. It definitely could pass for a handle...

I am not too surprised she called it a handle though. When my sister had her SAAB convertible, my mom told her, "Next time, you not buy this car. Car with "lid" is better."

Yes cars with lids are definitely better...oh mom...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Seattle time. Dad time.

My dad and I went to Wal-Mart.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


On this day seven years ago I was two weeks into my last semester of classes at BYU. I was deep into news and reporting for our daily newscast so much that ever seeing the light of day was a rarity.

I was working part-time as a reporter for KBYU NewsNet and this happened to be my day off. Knowing it would be a chill day, I mentally allowed myself to sleep-in and relax for once.

Rather than my alarm, it was early in the morning that my sister's phone call woke me up. She asked me if I had seen the news and if I knew what was going on. Normally I would have known exactly what was happening in the world by that time of day, but on this day, I said that I hadn't heard anything. She then told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. The news seemed shocking, yet I didn't quite know how to react. I hung up the phone with her and turned on my radio. Every channel was buzzing with the news that a plane hit the twin towers and the Pentagon. The more I listened, the more frustrated I became at the fact that my roommates and I were too cheap to pay for cable. The radio announcers' descriptions of what was going on was not enough for my less-than vivid imagination.

I got ready as soon as I could and made my way up to campus. As I walked, I noticed that things still seemed normal, yet in my mind I felt like things shouldn't have been. Even my roommates were unaffected by the news. That bothered me.

As I walked into the newsroom, it was the busiest I had ever seen it. The place was loud, every computer was in use, students were on phones and running around in a rush. The TVs were on to every possible news channel and our own anchors were on set broadcasting live. I walked through to the news set and caught the eye of my Instructor and we just looked at each other speechless. This was big. Not just for news, but for the country.

I spent the rest of the day running around seeking out public reaction to the day's earlier events. I found that as the day went on, reality of the magnitude of the attack was setting in and people were quickly beginning to understand what was going on. But not enough that I wasn't expected at my tennis class, which was upsetting.

Here we are seven years later and already, I feel like our country has forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001. I guess it would be easy to feel like we don't need to be re-living an ugly past, like we are digging up bad memories, or overdoing a memorial of an event that happened "so long ago." But, could this event be any more significant in our lives? At least for mine, I know it is the greatest human event I have been a part of.

The Seattle Times barely made mention of this anniversary. The Los Angeles Times gave it a front page teaser. CNN Online has it lost among the other headlines of the day on its Newsfeed and news stations are giving more time to drawn out political campaign activities than much respect for this day.

Have we forgotten that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (though disputeable) are off-sets of 9/11? How about the thousands of lives lost or ruined? The sacrifices of our country and our people? Other countries and their people? Our struggling economy? The effects are still with us, yet we forget the catalyst that accelerated the damage.

The following Spring in March 2002, I lived in New York for almost three months to do an internship at ABC. While there, I was often reminded of the events that had occurred only a few months before. There were posters offering free counseling to those still affected by 9/11 events and reminders to be a little kinder stood out on walls and in subway cars.

I ventured down to Ground Zero but I didn't spend too much time there. Walking through the subway terminals, the make-shift lighting, the closed off corridors and the settled dust gave me an eerie feeling. The streets were almost lifeless and shops were vacant. There wasn't much left of the area but lingering sorrow.

Were someone to ask me, "Where were you when JFK was shot?" I would not have an answer because I did not live in that time. But when I look to the future and years more down the road, and someone will ask me, "Where were you when the World Trade Center was attacked?" I know that I am of that generation that can say exactly where I was and what I was doing in that moment.

Obviously, I am no editorialist, but I feel strongly about this momentous day in our history. We are so fortunate to live where we live and to have the lives that we have and it is easy to get caught up in the comfort and ease of our lives and to forget the difficulties so many people face in the rest of the world. Spencer W. Kimball said that the most important word is "remember" and that it is our greatest need to remember. For these types of events that hold such significance on such a grand scale, I hope that we never forget.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Phase III: Complete. Change is Good.

Phase III: Move to Oregon - Complete.

The drive in from Los Angeles was nice. Rachel and I finished much quicker than anticipated and actually enjoyed the drive up.

Most of the drive through Northern California was pretty barren, mostly agricultural land and thanks to my GPS, we knew exactly where we were at all times.

Alredy, I am settling in nicely. I feel much more relaxed. I feel like life has slowed down quite a bit. The overall feeling of busy-ness and the LA rush I am so used to is fading quickly. Though I expect things will start to speed up again once school starts, I am enjoying this mental break while I can.

Now that I am living in a totally new place, I can't help but compare the way my life used to be and how it is now. For example:

- I paid $3.77 for Premium Unleaded yesterday and I didn't even have to pump it myself.

- I have done six loads of laundry in the last two days I have been here and I haven't had to share the machines with no one. Unlike my old apartment where Mr. Tube Socks Man and his sidekick Tube Socks Junior were always hogging the two machines we had, I have my one machine all to myself and I don't have to scrounge for quarters, run up and down three floors of stairs and when it's all said and done, I haven't had to wonder why my clothes just don't seem so clean.

- Walmart and Target were well-stocked and clean. There was practically no one in each store and the parking lot was an easy in and out.

- I hit about five destinations yesterday while running errands and I didn't get angry or frustrated once and zipping around town was a cinch.

There are definite differences, of course. And I am enjoying the change.

My apartment is nice and spacious and I feel comfortable and at home. I have been very busy trying to get settled in and buying the smallest of necessities, such as hand soap and lightbulbs. I received a friendly invitation from Jill Newell's brother who lives in Eugene to have dinner with his family and the missionaries tonight. I haven't really interacted with anyone but folks over the phone so I am definitely looking forward to dinner!

It is still hard to believe that after so many years of being "one foot in, one foot out" in LA, I am actually now in a new place. I feel so at peace that I can't help but wonder if I should have done this years ago...

I do wish I had friends and family closer. Especially to help me decorate my cute apartment and tell me where to put my bookcase and my desk. Grrr...

I had an awesome send-off party care of Eva and KJ, Inc. and I couldn't have asked for better food, better lighting, better cupcakes and better folks!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Recs, Faves and Stay-Aways

Part of the fun of living in Los Angeles, or anywhere actually, is discovering the hidden gems of the area. To help out newbies or anyone looking for a few recommendations as well as advice on what to avoid, here's my short list:

Dentist - Jaime (pronounced: Hi-mee) Hernandez, DDS - (323) 525-1465

General Practitioner (regular doctor) - Dr. Velinda Paranal, Santa Monica Bay Physicians, 90404

Mechanic - West Coast Tire & Service - For all of your automotive needs, oil changes for $29.99. They are honest and their prices are competitive. Clean and professional. (310) 477-7057

Lasik - Dr. Joseph Lee, (213) 380-3937. Yeah, he's in K-town and he'll give you a smokin' deal on the lasik surgery that you just won't believe, but I, as well as four other people I know, have no complaints. Check him out on the Yelp.

Hair - Elaine, (818) 655-6000. I have gotten my hair cut from Elaine for 5 years. At $45 a cut, she has been the best deal in Los Angeles and she knows how to cut my hair! This may sound bad, but only Koreans know how to cut Korean hair. It's just the way it is and I can't change that fact of life. Her shop is on the CBS Studios lot on Radford in Studio City. She does all kinds of hair.

Best Burger - It's a toss up between Father's Office and The Counter.

I know I have mentioned The Counter before but I just can't get enough of it! Burger in a bowl rocks. Start with the "50-50" of fries and sweet potato fries.

At the Father's Office get the beet salad and a burger and split it with a friend.

Radio Station - 100.3 The Sound. Move over Jack. Now there's something better.

Best Donuts - Again, a toss up between Primo's and DK's Donuts & Bakery.

Primo's donuts is a small shop near Sawtelle and National. The same woman is always there running the shop and the donuts are always heavy with grease and warm in the mornings.

DK's is a cramped little donut shop that sells everything from fresh fruit to greasy breakfast sandwiches to boba drinks. I have only gotten the donuts, but if you love Dunkin' Donuts or just yummy donuts in general, this will be your best bet in Santa Monica. I go whenever I get the chance.

Best Hot dogs - Costco, intersection of Washington & Lincoln. May the hot dog gods strike me down with lightning. But seriously. Can you really argue that these aren't the best hot dogs at the best price? (Sausages are in a different league, therefore not up for debate in this context.)

Best Breakfast - Maxwell's, 13329 W Washington Blvd. I have been to Jinky's. I have tried John O-Groats. But I am never quite as satisfied for breakfast as when I go to Maxwell's.

Best Cotton Candy - Anywhere you can find it.

The Landmark - The Landmark Theaters is a special venue in West Los Angeles. With reserved seating and the latest in independant films, it's a movie experience rather than just a night at the movies. (Does that make sense?) Tip: Select your seats as far away from the screen as possible.

Threading - Vinita's Beauty & Threading Studio, When waxing, shaving and Nairing get old, try threading! It's a crazy method of removing hair that I find to be more precise and comfortable. I have sensitive skin and the waxing reaks havoc on my face. Threading has been a face saving discovery!

Best Sushi - Hide Sushi, This yummy sushi place does a good job of sticking to its name. I only recently discovered it hidden among all of the restaurants in Little Tokyo near Sawtelle and Olympic. It was 6:00 pm when we went and there was already a long wait. So sad I didn't "find" it long ago!

Best Ramen - Asahi Ramen, 2027 Sawtelle Blvd. Some contend that Ramenya on Olympic is better, but I disagree. Start with the banbanji (a small haystack-size lump of shredded cucumber and small amounts of chicken with sesame seeds in a vinegar-like dressing) then go simple and order the miso or shoyu ramen. Hits the spot!

Best Pho - Never found any on the westside. But down by Dodger's Stadium in Chinatown you can find plenty!

Hollywood & Highland - This intersection is good for two things: Tourists and parking when going to the Hollywood Bowl (but you should really be taking the shuttle). Otherwise stay away.

Robert - My old landlord of several years ago. He's a d*uche. Stay away.

10 Freeway - Whatever you do, avoid the 10 westbound on weekday mornings and eastbound in the afternoons and early evenings. This is the freeway I am most familiar with though I am sure we could all name freeways to avoid at certain times of the day in Los Angeles. Stay away (or at least try to).

The 3rd Street Promenade - Go a lot in the beginning because by the end, you'll hate it and want to avoid it. Eventually, stay away.

Target (on Jefferson) - Really, it's the nearest Target for the westside. Translation: everyone and their hamster shops there. It's rarely stocked, it's crowded, the clientele (and the staff) can be unruly, it's dirty and it's an overall nightmare. Stock up at other Target stores when you can. As much as possible, stay away.

Westside Pavillion parking structure - This parking structure really can't be avoided since this mall has the closest Nordstrom's. Just be warned that the Westside Pavillion parking structure is a maze and an architectural disaster. Don't be surprised if your car gets banged or scratched or if the parking structure unexpectedly collapses. Stay away.

Sorry. The short list turned out to be a long list. There's much more that I like and dislike, but I'll leave the rest up to you for your own discovery.

I will miss the LA that I know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kimo Time

I spent this past week in Utah with my brother Erik, his wife Denise and my little nephew Kimball (Kimo for short). As always, it was so much fun and I did exactly as I had planned: spent as much time with the little guy as possible.

Being around my nephew and the fam is always a welcome breath of fresh air. When I get all wrapped up in my own life, they are quick to bring me back down to earth. Kimball is quick to tire me out, but I try my best to keep up with him. I am amazed at how much energy Denise and Erik are able to dedicate to him. One of the things they do so well and that is most impressive, among so many other things, is the amount of time they spend reading to him. So much that books are as high up on Kimball's list of fun as playing cars and trains.

At only 2.5 years old, he is so smart and fun to talk to! In this video, Denise is reading Kimo his favorite book and he knows it so well, that he has fun finishing each line!

Denise usually lets Erik dress Kimball for church. Always so cute! America's Next Top Kid Model I say!

On Saturday, we drove down to Provo and made a weak attempt to go to the BYU football season opener. The game was sold out and we ended up buzzing around Provo.

Naturally, we went to the BYU Bookstore. To buy chocolate-covered cinnamon bears of course.

As usual, it was a trip to walk through parts of campus again. For example, the gentle, creative reminders to manage for yourself your own obedience to the Honor Code.
The play on BYU culture was entertaining as usual.

If you can't read it, this shirt says: "I Love Mormon Girls"

"He Thinks I'm Waiting", "Dear John: Nothing Runs Like A Girl", "Utah is For Lovers. (For Time and All Eternity)"

Why didn't they have these shirts when I was a freshman?

We stopped by a little shave ice hut on 800 N and 700 E and Kimball was loving it.
The week was a nice break and a nice send off. I won't get to see the Utah folk for a while but I got a good dose to hold me over.