August, 2012

now browsing by month

 

Trip Report: Labor Day Follies – Introduction

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Seattle to Dayton
Part 3 – Dayton
Part 4 – National Museum of the United States Air Force
Part 5 – Dayton to Seattle
Part 6 – Conclusion

So it’s the labour day weekend, what to do, what to do. I could of gone to Vegas like everyone else. Hell almost 5 years ago I was visiting vegas on the Labour Day weekend, would i do it again?? Nah. I looked at so many different options for the Long Weekend. Flying to the Caribbean, Flying to Colorado on a Mileage Run, visiting some friends in San Diego.. in the end I settled on flying to Dayton, Ohio.

Why Dayton? Where the hell is Dayton? What the hell is wrong with you? These are all questions I can guarantee are going through your head the very second you read that sentence. Well one reason. The US Air Force Museum. Home of the Official museum of the United States Air Force and has some epic exhibits not found anywhere else, like the B-29 that dropped the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki (Boxxcar), The XB-70 and many more!

I have always wanted to visit as it has so many awesome places, and the fares were so cheap as well! In the end I could turn this into a mini milage run and tick a place off my list. After spending hours and hours on Kayak and United.com and ITA to get the best routing possible, I ended up with this:

Dayton United Trip Map

01st September – UA1449 – Seattle to San Francisco
01st September – UA1183 – San Francisco to Cleveland
01st September – UA5282 – Cleveland to Dayton
03rd September – UA5766 – Dayton to Washington: Dulles
03rd September – UA194 – Washington: Dulles to Seattle

Now I purposefully chose so many flights for a few reasons:

1. Miles – this was the most miles earning combination i could get that wasn’t to horrible (although still requires 3am wake up on the 1st)
2. 2 New Airports – Dayton & Cleveland
3. 2 New Aircraft – CRJ-200 from Cleveland to Dayton & And ERJ-145 from Dayton to Dulles
4. The Hell of it

With the flights locked in, it was then a matter of organising the Car to get around and where to stay. The hotel booking on its own was rough as there isnt any stand out hotels or anything in Dayton and checking through all my rates that I could access there was no one clear winner. In the end, I chose a hotel brand I hadn’t stayed at and the price was pretty good.

In the end i managed to choose the Residence Inn Dayton North and with a cheap 2 day car rental with National, i am all set :D

Looking forward to spending the day on Saturday flying across the country (hopefully getting some Channel 9 action), but also wanting to see if I can get myself a bump. Ive checked the loads on the flights and looks like my San Fran to Cleveland flight is all oversold! o0o0o0o joys!

Blast from the Past..

It is totally crazy when events like Yesterday happen. Now when I moved over here, a few of the sales reps back home who looked after the USA, knew I was heading over and knew to say hi when they came over for an office visit. But then there was going to be times of those who looked after the USA and i didn’t know about it.

Like yesterday. Our Hamilton Island rep came into the office, I haven’t seen her in a while and all of a sudden shes in our office. She didn’t know I was working over here, I didn’t know she was our rep. I gave her the shock of her life and it was great to see a familiar face from back home! Even got the comment “how come we don’t get a greeting like that”

To be honest, the last few days have been rough, its my mum’s birthday so a bit of homesickness involved and seeing a familiar face or chatting to a familiar voice back home totally helps, makes things all the much better.

I don’t regret anything from over here, its just a matter of dealing with those little bouts of home sickness, dealing with the times that I would normally have a network of people to fall back on. Cause there are going to be struggle moments and its the little things that count!

Boeing Time…

No, I am not talking about its time to hit up boeing (although that’s what I have done the last two weekends). What i’m referring to is something that I have to learn to get used to as a spotter up here in Seattle. There is “normal time” then there is “boeing time”. If your spotting at a Normal Airport, its usually Commerical Aircraft running to a schedule and people get angry when they are late. What happens up here at Paine Field though is mainly Test Flights or Delivery flights. Even though they have to file a flight plan. As if they ever follow it. Things around Everett (and Boeing Field as well I am sure) work on “Boeing Time”.

Boeing Time can easily be described as “yep It will happen, once I have triple checked everything and then we are ready to go”. I should probably be frustrated with them but to be honest, how can I be. I spent most of my weekend chasing a delivery flight that never happened, a 777-200LR Freighter that just never took off (till this morning when I couldn’t go see it), and sat around waiting and waiting for a 787 to come back from its test flight (only 4 hours late).

But even though a day like yesterday where I was backwards and forwards to Paine about 3 times, I am not in the least bit frustrated or anything. In fact, I am over the moon at how it all went. Sure it’s annoying having to drive all the way to the field and find out the flight has been cancelled and you changed all your plans for this. But then, I look at the photos.. and I end up with a shot like this:

From Seattle Spotting 2012

This shot just screams at me saying “look at me”. In fact I now happen to think a few things with that shot.

1. I still love the JAL new livery. No matter what people say about it. The clean lines, the simplicity of it, just make it beautiful
2. This is my favourite view of a 787. It shows off the crazy raked wing tips, the absolute beauty of the plane and just how much flex is in those composite wings

All in all, even though I had my first real run in with Boeing Time, I have to think to myself… It is shots like this:

From Seattle Spotting 2012

Where I think to myself… THIS IS WHY I DO IT!

Book Review: Sloppy Seconds

Not the most appropriate of titles but for this book, but why would I expect anything different from this author.

Sloppy Seconds

The book is Sloppy Seconds by Tucker Max. Yes another Tucker Max book but this is his last book.

This time it’s only a very short book so that means a short review.  To be honest I wasn’t going to do a review but I figured I have nothing else to do on the bus ride to work.

This book as the title eludes to is pretty much the leftover bits and pieces that never made it to the other books. But it starts off with a number of stories from previous books and in the beginning I almost stopped reading it because if it was just all repeats, why bother? Thankfully it wasn’t and I stuck it out.

The stories in this book are actually a little bit more shorter and some of them don’t hold as much allure as the ones in the main books, which is probably why they were left out in the first place.

A short book,  makes for quick reading but the one thing this book has going for it is that it is free. Yes free. The book is intended as a gift to the fans and hence is free on Amazon. So anyone with a Kindle account can have it… Definitely worth the cost, even if you’re bored and nothing better to read, I mean seriously why wouldn’t you… what have you got to lose.

Looking Back to a Year ago

One year ago I was stepping foot in Japan, starting off the 3rd and final phase of my round the world journey. It had been about 2 years since I had last stepped foot on Japanese soil, but this time it was to be a much longer stay. I was excited, yet scared at the same time. To be in a country where I have no possible way of communicating, or being able to even understand half of the crazy customs was just overwhelming, yet to this day, I want to go back.

Japan for me was a truly epic eye opener. I experienced a whole new world of things that I had never before seen, tasted, thought about or even smelt. I was there to try everything I could and just let it all sink in. I got to spend time with old friends, make new friends but more often than not, I spent that time by myself exploring. There was time for reflection and time for amazement. It is a country that makes me lost for words just sitting here trying to describe it. Out of all of the countries I got to explore during that trip, to this day Japan has been the #1 country that I have thought about since I got back. To be honest, I think it may have been almost my favourite country to visit.

Since getting back I have been thinking so much about returning it is not funny. Part of me just wants to get back there, yet part of me wants to do it right and go back and explore more. Can i Justify a simple weekend trip, can I use any excuse for just a 1 or two night stop. I so badly want to get back to experience the food, the culture, the atmosphere. To see my friend and do things I should of done before. Hell to do some of the things I did last time.

Often I am emailing my friend, who has almost the same obsession I do, about all the little japanese things we come across. Just the other day she tells me she found Red Bean in india. This instantly makes me want to find some redbean and eat it, right that very second. Why am I like this! Why does it have this over powering nature that is probably borderline obsession. What did I do to make this ever so overwhelming. I had been trying to plan a trip to use up some points on Cathay Pacific on something I could easily do, yet now that has been pushed aside for another time. Now I want to push a trip to Japan to the front of this. How I do this I don’t know but I can tell you one thing. I want to get back… now. If I don’t I am sure this obsession will take over a bit to much and then it will all be to much… way to much.

Mal’s Teriyaki Reviews #2

So as I have mentioned before Seattle is obsessed with Teriyaki. It’s cheap, filling and good value. Although probably just as bad for you as other fast food I don’t feel nearly as guilty eating it compared to say Macdonalds or Burger King (not that I have eaten at either in years). Maybe it’s cause they are usually all Mom & Pop operations.

After a rough Saturday I didn’t feel like doing much at all so decided to hit up the local Teriyaki joint (well the closest one to me as there are 8 within 1km) a few minutes walk away. Midori Teriyaki seems more like it has something to do with the ugly Green Liquer than it does Asian food.

From Expat Life

Located in a group of shops (I don’t think it quite fits into the Strip Mall category, a little bit to small) with a couple of other food outlets, a dry cleaners and others it fits into the overall scheme of the small shops. Plus its literally about 2-3 minutes stroll from my apartment (technically next door). It looks like any other place from the outside. Inside the store does match its name sake drink. Ugly green!!!

From Expat Life
From Expat Life

It was pretty quiet around 8 on the Saturday night which kinda broke my normal food outlet rules, but considering it’s a local joint and there was people inside and a few more came in after I ordered it was acceptable. The menu was not just your normal choices of Teriyaki or Spicy Chicken & Beef, but had some sushi options and some other random Asian options as well. Pricing was pretty average and a Teriyaki Chicken set me back with Tax, $7.09 (and that was with Brown Rice which sometimes costs extra). Can’t complain about that. I had to wait about 5 minutes or so for it to be made but the TV on the wall playing the Seahawks game kept me entertained.

What through me though when my order was ready was she kept asking “what drink you want”. The meal came with a free soda! Wasn’t much choice but a free can of warm diet coke (didn’t matter much as I had cold ones back in the fridge at home) can not be complained about. Looking good here! By the time I had walked home, gotten a dvd ready and opened up my dinner I was stunned at exactly how much there was crammed into that little box!

From Expat Life

The serve was HUGE! There was a decent amount of chicken, an epic proportion of rice (and good sticky brown rice, the way I like it) and a good portion of salad. The chicken was good, the sauce not overly sweet and it was sticky just the way I like it. Brown rice was sticky but separated if pushed, and held together nicely with a bit of sauce. Again the way I like it. I had some Siracha on the side (which was all over the place on the tables there but I didn’t need to ask for it) and it complimented it well.
To be honest though the one downside was the amount of dressing on the salad. There was way to much of it for my liking. But that’s not a big issue, cause next time I am sure I can get it undressed or on the side. The salad was crunchy though and lots of iceberg lettuce. All in all a damn good meal for $7!

I give it a 4/5 on the Mal Teriyaki Scale (this is a made up scale)

Pros: Free Soda, BIG serve
Cons: To much dressing on the salad

Book Review: Hilarity Ensues

Another book by the wayside, not as quickly this time

Hilarity Ensues

The book is #3 of the Tucker Max series of books. It is Hilarity Ensues. Almost the close out of the series. There is still one last small book to go after this.

If you have seen my reviews of the Tucker Max books before or have read them yourself you know exactly what this book is about. Drinking, partying, sex and stupidity.

This book doesn’t disappoint if you are after a book that is full of socially unacceptable actions, lewd behavior and bad decisions. Sounds good to me! But this is meant to be the last real book in the series unfortunately. It’s coming to an end. But not without some good laughs.

Numerous times I have thought to myself this is not the best book to read on the bus, cause I was trying hard to hold back the laughs or the amazement at some stupid act. I did struggle a few times with controlling myself but I somehow managed.

One thing I did learn from this book is the term “Fratire”. Obviously a play on Satire and/or Frat boy antics. I had never heard the term before but it definitely fits. Definitely feels more appropriate than any other way to describe this book that’s for sure.

If you are in the need of a light hearted read, with some entertainment at other people’s expense or even just a laugh to cheer you up. This is the book for you. Kind of sad to see it all coming to an end :(

Arctic Zero…

So I have been meaning to review this product for quite some time but only been able to do it now cause for some crazy reason it dissapeared for a while. One day while out doing my weekly grcoery shop I came across the craziest thing. I saw some ice cream that claimed 150 Calories. When I saw it as I was walking past I was like “that’s probably per serve, whatever, why even put that there”. But for some reason I took a second look. It claims its the entire Pint of ice cream for that amount of calories. So I did a bit of research online into it and it was legit. So I figured next time I am at the shops doing a buy, I will get some and try it out. Went back the next week… GONE! Recalled for some reason for a packaging problem. I didn’t see it for weeks on end. Till the other night when I was at the shops. I quickly grabbed some and put it in the freezer till last night.

From Expat Life

Now the stuff I read online was a bit of a mixed bag in reviews but to be honest, I wasn’t going to complain. I was going try it out and make my own opinion. I grabbed the “Cookies & Cream” flavour figuring that would be the safest bet. They have other flavours including Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate and Vanilla Maple (and apparently pumpkin at certain times of the year). But if you check out the below photo. It doesn’t really look like what you would expect. Certainly doesn’t look like any other Cookies and Cream i’ve ever eaten before. The taste was ok I guess, nothing really all that over the top, not mind blowing. It was the texture that was just not right to me. I definately wouldn’t call this ice cream at all, probably why its a “frozen dessert”. It had a texture more like an Ice Block mixed with Ice Cream, kind of hard to explain but definately was not Ice Cream like at all.

From Expat Life

It was an ok Treat. Definately for those times when you want something but don’t want to feel bad eating it. For 150 calories (which is about 1.5 snacks for me) I didn’t feel guilty eating the whole pint, had that been ice cream at around 1000 calories for the pint, yeah thats a whole other story. But it wouldn’t be something I would go out of my way to get. Plus its $5.30 PER PINT! That’s almost double the cost of a Ben & Jerrys pint or even a Quart (litre) of ice cream of the normal brands. Its REALLY expensive, and something I probably won’t have all that often, But at least I know there is something out there that I can have without feeling guilty for those times when I just want to have some ice cream and not “have some ice cream”… if you know what I mean.

Snacking in the USA….

I alluded to this in my last post and it will actually be a bit of an informative post… kind of.

Back when i started all my weight loss, one thing my Nutritionist taught me was to keep my snacking to 400kj or 100 Calories and she gave me a nice big list of stuff that fits into that band. Things like a Freddo Frog, 2 chocolate wheatens, all different kinds of fruit (ranging from 1 apple or a banana to an entire punnet of strawberries). It pretty much meant I could have whatever I would like as long as I used some common sense and kept it to within that range.

Well over here in the USA they have something that makes this kind of snacking so much easier. 100 calorie packs. The perfect invention in my opinion. All the good snacks you like, cookies, cake, brownies, museli bars, chips, nuts etc all conviently portioned out for you in 100 calorie packs. Could it get any better?? In some cases they are even under 100 Calories! I have found delicious yoghurts (made my Kroger foods, so generic brand but damn delicious) for 60 calories, numerous different bits and pieces but the thing that makes me happy the most is my usual morning snack at work.

I try to grab a coffee if i have the time (depends on the day really and how busy I am) and enjoy a little snack. Now my morning snack tends to be something non fruit (as thats my afternoon snack) and since I got to the USA I have had some awesome snacks. Granola bars have always been one of the easiest as they transport easily and they are generally good with a coffee. Well two snacks I have found work awesomely though one (I dont have a picture sadly) has always been the best. Hostess (the makers of twinkies) have 100 calorie packs and they have little cinnamon coffee cakes which when had with a coffee just are AMAZING!!! Now these arent big snacks, they are the perfect little snack size. 3 small little cakes about the size of a Aussie 50c piece. Bite size and yummy.

But they are treats every now and then the cakes but two that I have found are my favourites are the Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip or a Fibre One Browne Bar.

From Expat Life

These snacks are just awesome. Now I haven’t yet had the brownies pictured as its a new box, but the flavour i just finished off earlier in the week was the “Fudge Brownie” one and it was DAMN delicious. And the museli Granola bars are by far the most delicious ones I have EVER tasted. They go so well with a coffee and the slightly savoury taste is just perfect. It makes me so so happy to be over here and be able to have these snacks and not feel guilty. I couldn’t of done this back home at all. They just didn’t exist at all, and I struggled to find any variety at all. But over here they are all put on the plate for me to select.

Another one of my favourites are the Chocolate coated pretzels (either White or Milk) that are part of the snackwells range. God damn they are yummy! I could sit here and talk all day about them. But I won’t. I might have to send some samples home for people, I know that Costco sells these brownies and museli bars in giant boxes so that makes it even easier :D YAY!

A Few thoughts about life in Seattle… 3 months in

Well its been 3 months now and after being fairly well settled in by now I thought I would give some quick thoughts into life as an expat in Seattle. Now I have not yet gone out much and hit the town (one im just not that kinda person but secondly been way to freaking busy) but this Saturday sees me starting my first Boot Camp over here on a Saturday morning so that should be something a little different. But either way I am really happy over here, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if i could ever go back.

I am loving the “heatwave” that summer has been having up here in Seattle. Going to hit 95F on friday. Thats right we should hit 35C. O yeah its like summer back home in Brisbane. Now my apartment isn’t really set up for that heat, and it usually hits the high around 5pm over here, not around the 1 or 2pm mark but thats because the Sun sets in the west so takes a lot longer to heat Seattle up to its height. But that’s fine because at the end of the day when I am walking out of work, in the sun on a day like today (it was about 85 i think not sure) its like bliss. I walk out and just think to myself, I love it here. And its also a similar situation around the time i take lunch (between 130 and 2 usually) and I can go out into the Courtyard between the buildings where they have tables, chairs and umbrellas set up or next door into the Square outside of the Microsoft building onto the grassy green park and sit out in the sun, read a book, write a letter, enjoy the sunshine while having my lunch. That is my new life, its what I have enjoyed.

Now in saying that, I know those things wont be possible for much longer till summer comes to an end and winter starts to come in, but I haven’t lived a “real” winter before and I am still going to appreciate the cold and the dreariness for all different reasons. I hope it snows, I really do. I want to live through a snow storm, I want to just get out there and make a snow angel, write my name in the snow ;) But that is a few months off yet. So we shall leave those stories for another time. I don’t think I was ever this happy back home in Brisbane.

Brisbane will forever be my home. I will never say a bad word about it. I grew up there, spent 30 years of my life in the same house, the same neighbourhood. I knew every little square inch of Mitchelton and Everton Park and it will forever hold a cherished space in my heart. I know my folks always talked about moving to the Coast and buying an apartment by the water, to be truly honest, I hope they don’t. But Seattle feels right to me, sure i may moan on occasion about it being cold when it shouldn’t be, or grey when it should be blue. But any city will have that. I am still happy of the change i made. Tomorrow i will make another post about life here in the USA, but this one about the food… so stay tuned.