Frog and Toad are Friends

My memory is embarrassingly terrible. It seems to run in my family, and to my future children: I apologize if this attribute is passed along in any way. My most glaring deficiency is recalling things from my childhood. My memories of those times are spotty at best; however there are a few seemingly random elements that I can easily think back on. One such memory is a cherished childhood story that I loved and read often. I believe my eldest sister passed-down a book of hers to me, which was called Frog and Toad are Friends. I think the lesson of the book is how critical friendship can be, and how important it is to be nice to your friends. I just hope that even as I bit into the face of a frog and tore the moist meat from its back, it died having a loving and lasting friendship with a toad friend, who I was hopefully going to eat next.

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Shenzhen View Pano

I can’t help but wonder how the other half of the world perceives a person like myself. I was asking this very question on Friday while I performed my near-sacred morning ritual at the hotel buffet. For anyone who knows me, it is almost universally understood that I enjoy my opportunities to overeat and consume large quantities of coffee. This very fact makes me a true sucker for any hotel buffet, especially the “fancy” ones, which are quite the common occurrence when I travel for work.

Well, my introspective query came soon after sitting down with my first plate of food. I had never really seen what maple syrup looked like mid-flight before, but as soon as my fork broke free from the mystery cosmic force in the center of one of the triangles of french toast on my plate, I was provided front row seats to that very sight. I swear the syrup quadrupled in volume as it rocketed towards my half-shielded crotch, and somehow spread out into a giant ASL version of “screw you” before making contact with the lower left quadrant of my polo shirt and the entire uncovered section of my jeans. This picture perfect display of sticky, sugary staining power was like a heat seeking missile, fired with the most sophisticated targeting algorithm ever devised to hunt down portions of clothing unprotected by napkins.

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Kempinski Entrance

The mind is a muscle, which must be exercised like any other to get stronger. The stomach, on the other hand, is not a muscle; however that won’t stop me from pretending that it is.

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I skipped lunch today (Friday… I know, your mind is blown, as you’re probably reading this on Thursday evening) knowing that I had an all-natural energy bar “made with organic oats and soybeans”.  I was actually pretty excited about this Clif bar that I got from Trader Joe’s because its flavor was Chocolate Brownie (package pictured at right).   I brought four such bars to China with me.  Two Chocolate Brownie and two Honey Banana Nut Bread.  I had one of the banana nut bread bars the first morning here when I had a light breakfast.  It was actually very good and reminded me of my own banana bread, which I haven’t made in forever and I’ve wanted to… it’s just that I don’t have a copy of the recipe, nor do I have any bread pans, but that is besides the point.  I was impressed with my first exploit into the realm of Clif Energy Bars (the company’s website here).  I had actually intentionally not eaten the Chocolate Brownie flavor anticipating that it would be the more delicious of the bunch and wanted to save it for a special occasion such as today. I never expected what I was going to actually find when I opened the package…

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Well I missed my opportunity to follow-up with my explanation of the fail train youtube video from yesterday…  During one of our many trips between the levels of IBM/ISTC Shenzhen, we came face to face with a flock of ISTC’s (International Systems Technology Company) line operators wearing green and blue smocks, who promptly piled into the elevator in an eerily similar manner as the poor souls on that train in the video.  Had my arms been free to move, I would’ve whipped out my camera for a shot of the sardine-vator.  I hope to get another chance to do so before I leave on Wednesday, April 1st.  As a side note, when I leave here on April 1st it’ll still be March 31 for you because in case you forgot, I’m in the friggin’ future!

Day 2: Retribution

I awoke from a deep slumber at 6:35 a.m. and brushed the sleep from my eyes.  I had set my alarm extra early for the opportunity to check out the hotel’s gym and do a little exercise to start my day off right. As of late, I’ve been slacking on my morning exercise routine and I figure that if I start getting into the habit now while I’m away, it’ll be easier to pick up once I return to the past (a.k.a. America).  The gym was on the same level as the “Spa by Lifestyle”, and was an surprisingly satisfying area.  There were two treadmills, an elliptical and a stair master at the far end of the room that were facing windows overlooking a large patio with tennis court and basketball; however due to the rainy weather of the past two days it was soaking wet and not exactly the best scenery.  Along the left wall of the room were some standard resistance machines and a rack of free weights, while the right side of the room was stocked with additional resistance machines and two “complete gym” machines.

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Bacon Explosion

Somebody has perfected the Bacon and Cheese roll by adding a  BBQ twist!  This beautiful baby is the Bacon Explosion, perhaps the most fantastic creation this side of bacon.  Hit the jump for how it’s made.

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Milltown Bar/Restaurant(View Google Map)

There’s this little place in Carrboro on the other side of Chapel Hill called Milltown, which is a great place to go for their extensive collection of beers and their Belgian-inspired food stuffs.  The nacho appetizer is one of the best plates of nachos that can be found, as the cheese is plentiful and has the perfect smokey flavor to complement the salty nacho chips.  Black beans, jalapenos, diced tomatoes and sour cream top it all off to make the experience a delightful one indeed.  They are one of many places in the region that offer a selection of beer that is much greater than their selection of food.  I digress however; as this is not meant to be a review of the bar/restaurant, but rather a retelling of a story of pain and suffering.  Sadness and disappointment.  War and peace.  Okay well not really, it’s just about a case of food-born illness.

Did you know there’s actually something called Shellfish Poisoning, and that it’s quite different from food poisoning?  Well neither did I, and I’m no stranger to food poisoning, as my recent travels to Mexico will clearly show.  So this shellfish poisoning, (as diagnosed by Allie) was actually  “Ciguatera (from the Spanish word for a poisonous snail) [which] is a food-related illness that causes abdominal and neurological symptoms.” [Source]  Ho-ho-hold on there, did that just say neurological symptoms?  Yup.  It’s like being on drugs.  Drugs that make you throw up violently.

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