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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Travel Logs: Washington DC - 2007

Note: I've traveled to a lot of places post college, but never have had the time to write my thoughts about them.  Now I have the time to do so.  If you enjoy these travel logs, feel free to click this link to check out the others.

I've been to our nation's capitol twice in my life.  The first time was right after I graduated from college, visiting a friend who was doing an internship there.  The second time was five years later, after seeking refuge from a Hurricane Sandy plagued New York City (which I will get to in the future).  For the first part in this travel log, I'll focus on my first visit and the send log will focus on how the same experience felt different thanks to video games of all things.

The first time I went to DC, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I had seen pictures of the National Mall, but I never knew how massive it was.  It took a good twenty minutes to walk from the museums to the Lincoln Memorial.   The architecture of the mall was beautiful as expected.  The clean white buildings were so crisp that it made you wonder how some of theses buildings had been standing for well over 100 years in such pristine condition.

The thing I loved most about DC was the history.  I'm a big history buff when it comes to US history, and while the mall is probably viewed as a tourist trap among locals, I certainly enjoyed it.  My favorite museum there has and still is the National Portrait Gallery.  There's a designated wing where you can go through the presidents chronologically.  It's pretty interesting, especially the Lincoln area where you can see artifacts from his term.

Other parts museums of the National Mall were so so.  The Air and Space Museum seems a bit outdated.  At the time of their creations, space travel was a big deal, but it's kind of loss it's relevancy.  And the other museums seem a little out of place in the Mall.  It's not because they aren't rich or lack interesting exhibits, it's just that the Mall screams history and patriotism.  You have all these famous monuments and buildings (the Capitol Building, the White House, the Washington Monument) and in the middle of them are some science and art museums.

We also stopped by the IRS.  I remember in the Simpsons when they visited DC and Homer booed the IRS.  I did the same thing.

I wasn't much of a food guy right after college, so my friend took me to all the local east coast things that I couldn't find in California, stuff like Pot Belly Sandwiches and some local bars.  I also had pizza in rainy weather which was nice.  This was my first big trip on my own away from California, so the small observations highlighted the differences in this part of the country.  The houses had brick in them, and really felt as if they were made back in colonial times.  Not sure if they actually were though.

It was just different compared to back at home, which I guess really highlighted my ignorance at the time.  Though I'm sure 10 years from now, I'll look back on these blog entries and think the same thing about my 2015 self.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Vietnamese Cooking

Sometimes I feel like my own culture is a ghost to me.  Born in the USA to parents who immigrated here as teenagers only to be Americanized, I worry that when I have kids, they're going to know less about Vietnam than I will.  It's sad in a sense, to see first hand your own cultural knowledge slowly die inside you as the years pass, but at the same time, it's inevitable.  Sometimes you just don't have the focus to work on everything you want to.

However, if there's anything I want to instill in the future generations I may create, it's at least their appreciation of Vietnamese food.  It's actually kind of funny.  I can't speak much Vietnamese, but of my limited vocabulary, probably more than ninety percent of it is dedicated to food related words.  I suppose that's something I take for granted growing in the largest Vietnamese community in the US.  I speak English with my parents, but I speak Vietnamese only when I'm put into a corner and forced to, and that place would be at a Vietnamese restaurant.

Sometimes I have a desire to move away from the Bay Area.  Housing is just so damn expensive.  But among the top reasons that would keep my to stay (other than friends and family) is the food.  Where else am I going to get good Vietnamese food?  (I'm talking about REAL Viet food, not stuff like Pho or Spring Rolls).  Even cultural meccas like NY are hard pressed to have good Vietnamese options.  Living in the Bay, (specifically San Jose), means living in a place that probably has both the best and most abundant Vietnamese offerings.

The only thing I could do if I moved away would be to cook it myself.  However, my Vietnamese cooking skills are pretty low.  I'd say I'm a good cook.  I cook every meal for me and my girlfriend, and over the years, I've improved greatly.  My greatest skill is how resourceful I am with food.  Vietnamese food should be a natural fit for me because A) I'm Vietnamese, and B) Vietnamese food requires using everything you can.  Sadly, my skill doesn't match up to expectations.

I try to pry my mom for recipes, but she's pretty hard to get info from.  She's the best cook I know (and I'm not just saying that because it's my mom, many other people agree).  However, that skill has given her a sense of over zealous pride, meaning her cooking secrets can't be trusted to anyone else.  That includes me.

Until I can get info out of her, I'll have to rely on what I can get fro the internet.  Normally, my cooking usually depends on what the rush is, but overall, I've grown accustomed to cooking American style food (grilled stuff, soups, casseroles, "Italian") and Chinese stir fry for those quick and easy meals.  Vietnamese cooking is simple, yet complex at the same time.  I've tried it a few times, and it hasn't been up to par with my mom's stuff.  I don't think it ever will.  It makes me a little sad knowing that as I get older, my exposure to Vietnamese food, good quality Vietnamese food, will decrease more and more.

And in a sense, as silly as it sounds, that's what food can do to you.  It's makes you ponder the deeper mysteries of life as you chow down on a bowl of noodles.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Back From Hiding - Volume 5 Release News

Hello everyone!

After a long hiatus from blogging, I'm kicking off the new year with some updates regarding the status of Halfkinds Volume 5 - Grey.  Here are a few tidbits:

- I'm about 85 percent done with the writing, then it'll go through a rough read through.  After that, it's off to the fine editors of Gathering Leaves Editing
- Schedule wise, I'm hoping to get it back from the editors for a March release
- During the time at the editors, I'll update the Halfkinds Wikia up to Volume 4
- I'll also do a little publicizing, but this has never been my forte.  I feel that after I'm done with the series, then I can promote it as a whole
- Speaking of the series, Volume 6 will probably be released at the beginning of 2016, or end of 2015.  It's too early to tell.

Blog updates:
- I'm going to try to update this blog more often.  Bear in mind, it'll not always be about blogging, just updates on stuff I find interesting, but with a main focus on sci fi media.

During my time away from blogging, I've been doing a lot of writing and soaked up a good share of pop culture.  I'm hoping to do this at least once a week but... promises.

Until then...