After 8 years abroad, these past two years of transition back into the US have been “interesting” to say the least. I’m so thankful I can now bask in my independence. Today was a wonderful day. I moved into my apartment. I’ve been dreaming about this since I stepped foot back in the US in December of 2010.
The Inauguration of President Obama was a very special occasion for me this year. You see, four years ago, I was in Laos, a Communist country, on the day of Obama’s first inauguration and I did not have a chance to celebrate. You can read that story HERE.
This year, I didn’t do anything special, no parties or gatherings. I just watched on TV in the comfort of home, my PJs and a cup of coffee. I watched the formalities of arrivals and seatings, of music, poems and speeches, of the crowds waving their flags awash with smiles and hope on their faces. I get emotional during formal events and ceremonies. I don’t know why. I felt excited. I felt pride for my country. It made me reflect on my life and experiences and my choice to remain here in the US versus the adventure of living in Argentina or Spain (thoughts I had when I returned from Vietnam). I’m glad I decided to stay. I’m happy to live in the United States.
Today was a good day, a proud day, and I am thankful I was here, in my home country, to watch the ceremony and celebration. No matter who you voted for, the Inauguration is a significant day in US history. When you have been denied the opportunity to witness it, it makes you all the more grateful when you can. I hope you enjoyed the events today, too.
If you missed it, you can watch it here:
Want to see some historical photos of inaugurations past? Click HERE.
Chargers Game Day
It’s been probably about 20 years since I’ve been to a Chargers game. I remember very few specifics. Chargers played the Chiefs. I was surprised to find that one of my friends from junior high was a Charger Girl. Given the age of the cheerleaders, I’m guessing it had to be about 20 years ago. And yes, that makes me feel really, really old.
I was excited for the game yesterday. I was attending with a fabulous business group called WISE – Women in Sports and Events – a group which is emerging in San Diego. It’s a national organization and after seeing their success in Los Angeles, I am eager to be a part of the formation in San Diego. As the board member who is serving to do marketing for the group, I’ll be mentioning the events and programs we produce often.
So it was with WISE that I found myself tailgating before the game. With one of our board members an employee with the Chargers, we had a great set-up for the day. We even had the chance to meet Chargers Executive VP and CFO, Jeanne Bonk (far left in photo above). It was nice to get better acquainted with the gals and enjoy pre-game festivities.
Once inside, we took our seats up in the view section, behind the endzone, opposite the big scoreboard. As we sat down, I took in the view and the atmosphere and realized just how many Bengals fans were in the stadium, and how many empty seats there were.
Another thing that surprised me is how few players and personnel are actually on the sidelines. On camera, it looks to be full. But from above, you can see that the roster is not all that deep. And we could see Norv, with his complacent stance and slow steps up and down the field. There is nothing inspiring about that man.
The game was the game – nothing overly exciting happened, as you know. We enjoyed watching the defense score and the kicker score, but Rivers and his offense went scoreless for this match-up.
Of all the things that happened during the game, the event which stuck with me the most happened in the stands. Right about the start of the 4th quarter and three sections over from us, a fight broke out and a bunch of people jumped to their feet. The event staff and police arrived on the scene. It took them several minutes to calm everyone down. And it seemed they cleared up the issue. However, about five minutes after the police and event staff left, the two men went at it again. And then even more event staff and police showed up.
At the moment this happened, a group of small boys, probably 5-7 years old, were escorted out by the three or so dads who brought them to the game. All the little boys were decked out in their Charges gear and they all held hands as they went down the stairs and exited. I’m sure they were confused and upset they had to leave. But the fathers made the right choice. The scene unfolding was pretty nasty. I know those men/families paid a lot of money for those little tykes to watch the game. It was such a shame that the fathers were forced to end their outing early because some jerks in the “cheap” seats couldn’t control themselves. I wish we had seen the event staff escort this precious group of boys to another section – there were certainly plenty of open seats!
The drunks who started the commotion were eventually escorted out in handcuffs (which should have been done at the first altercation). That’s all good and well, but I do wonder what those dads told their little boys. And I am sad that what was probably their first Chargers experience is tainted with violence and drunken idiots. I get so frustrated when I see situations like this.
Have you experienced a Chargers game this season? How did you enjoy game-day?
Hello Bright Siders! I’m wondering if you can help me. I have had a profile up at About.Me for awhile now and they’ve begun this contest where a profile will be selected as the face of About.Me and become a billboard in Times Square in buzzing New York City. It would be simply awesome if my wacky avatar for On The Bright Side could look out over the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
If my profile wins, I will also get to go to New York to see my billboard. Being in the first stages of my business, Beaming Bohemian would get some terrific exposure and On The Bright Side some national attention. I really appreciate your support! You can vote once every 24 hours, so please feel welcome to share the link with friends and click the “VOTE FOR THIS PROFILE” button often.
The stats show that I am already in the top 5% of the votes, so your continued encouragement and regular clicks through September 20th will help give my profile the extra push it needs. It seems I have a fighting chance! CLICK HERE to vote now!
Thank you in advance for the assist and for helping me become the face of @aboutdotme, a.k.a.- About.Me. Much appreciated!
Here’s a preview of what my profile looks like!
Taste of Little Italy 2011
In an effort to reacquaint myself with San Diego, get into the swing of things and enjoy all the wonderful fun this fabulous city has to offer, I jumped at the opportunity to get tickets for the Taste of Little Italy. I bought my tickets about two weeks in advance so that there was no risk of being turned down. The website said they do sell out every year.
My friends Michelle and Carrie joined me, and were equally excited for the event. Who doesn’t love the idea of trying a lot of great Italian food, strolling through Little Italy and fitting in a glass of wine somewhere in the evening?
With e-tickets in hand, we checked in at Date and India streets and were handed a map/passport to guide us through the evening. We decided to start at the outskirts, The Restaurant at the W and Karl Strauss, and work our way toward the heart of Little Italy. Both of these establishments helped set the bar. The W was serving an absolutely exquisite morsel of Achiote rubbed tuna with tomatillo corn relish and lotus crisp. Divine. Depending on reaction during the tasting, they were considering this for their new menu. I think we’ll see it featured. So tasty, that tuna! The presentation was fantastic as well with nice little, black plastic plates and super cute plastic appetizer forks. Karl Strauss served generous pours of two of their award winning beer. I’m guessing a good 3-4oz pour was on offer. Awesome!
Aside from these two, there was only one other stand out, the Burger Lounge at India and Cedar. Their sample “sliders” were enough to make a meal in themselves and were perfection between a bun. They served a sample of the beef and vegetarian burgers. Smart idea. The casual atmosphere invited guests to be seated while eating, versus the typical standing-only style at most of the restaurants.
One restaurant (I’ll spare them the shame) served a polenta that was cold, nearly crunchy and looked as though they had poured canned mushroom soup over the top. Another served what was a really great wine, but in a jello shot-sized plastic. That comes across as cheap. Toward the end of the evening, one of Little Italy’s more upscale restaurants served a fusili with tomato, basil and mozzarella balls. If anyone is so incompetent in the kitchen enough that they cannot make that dish themselves…yikes. This was, I’m sure a far cry from the brandy cream sauce pasta advertised on their passport. Someone didn’t calculate portions correctly. My question to most all of the participating restaurants – This is the sample that best represents your restaurant?
We did appreciate Craft & Commerce for the atmosphere and tasty corn dog, but after a few other Italian restaurants served meatballs and sausage samples, it made it hard to appreciate a corn dog. Craft & Commerce is worth a second chance, though, as the people were lovely and the vibe of the place was very hip and cool. I’ll also give a nod to Po Pazzo’s tiramisu. Surprisingly moist for sitting outside for awhile and pretty yummy.
The cost to the participant is $35. I’m not sure what that pays for exactly as I do not know what is the maximum number of guests they allow, and given that, how much of the fee goes to each restaurant to help cover the costs for participating. There was not a lot of advertising, so that could not have been the majority of the expense. I’d love to see the cost breakdown. I didn’t feel the value of $35.
Given that the restaurants are so spread out, we didn’t really enjoy the experience of a special event, only the sense that the streets were a bit busy for a Wednesday night. We didn’t even bother to visit the Spicy Pickle (so sorry), as they are three blocks off the main street. I’m sure others also skipped this venue. I wouldn’t expect the Spicy Pickle to participate again. We also skipped The Waterfront, who was also serving sliders. Frankly, we were full on beef/meat/sausage samples and also had already enjoyed a slider at Burger Lounge. It was clear the restaurants didn’t communicate with each other to offer a variety of dishes and no repeats.
Only Puerto La Boca was clever enough to hand out a coupon to participants. Now they will be able to track who comes back after the Taste of Little Italy event (if the coupon was exclusive). But the others? How will they be able to measure their ROI? Or is it a write-off? The marketing person in me was and still is going crazy with ideas for how to improve this event, from promotion to execution, to follow-through with the restaurants involved. I will venture to say that they do not feel it a worthwhile event but more an obligation to participate.
I’m thoughtfully drafting my communication with the Taste of Little Italy and the Little Italy Association of San Diego. I really enjoy attending functions like this and I’d like to help them make this a more rewarding event for all involved. If any of you know members of the Little Italy Association San Diego, please have them contact me at [email protected]. It’s unfortunate when a highly anticipated event misses the mark.
Errand turned exploration…
Today was another errand day, as I had to renew my driver’s license. Always fun to make a trip to the DMV! There’s probably nothing that could be a greater reality check than the lines, employees and procedures at the DMV.
I made an appointment at the one in North Park, as the others had a longer wait and I wouldn’t be able to get an appointment until the end of the month/after my deadline. So off to North Park I went.
Surprisingly, the DMV was as smooth as pie. I was in and out of there in, I kid you not, twenty minutes. I even got to take a new photo, thank goodness. I decided to leave my weight at 120 lbs… incentive.
Since I was already in North Park, I thought I would check out a coffee house I had read about. Claire de Lune is on University Avenue, right near the North Park sign. Great coffee, good food and a nice, open floor plan with lots of seating arrangements to choose from. Only negative is that some of the furniture is a bit old, and therefore, a bit dingy.
After a couple hours at the coffee house, I drove on University headed West. I really had no idea where the street went, and so decided to do some exploring. University turns into Washington and ends up dumping you downtown near the railroad tracks. I drove further and ended up down near the Midway Pier, remembering that there was a regatta in town for the weekend. I figured they’d be on the water practicing. Well, was I treated to some up-close views of really cool sailboats!
I stood at the end of the pier and having just arrived just in time for a race. It was so awesome to see these racing boats whiz by right in front of the pier as they got in position for the start of the race. Since it was the middle of the day on Thursday, there were very few fans on the pier, which made it really easy to take pictures and get more information on the boats in the race. One sailing and photo fanatic gave me the scoop.
You know, today I set out to renew my driver’s license, but with an adventurous spirit and the will to go just a bit further, I ended up having a really great day and got to enjoy a unique San Diego event! Made me love my hometown even more. And renewed my excitement to uncover more treasures of the city.
Some official regatta information:
RC44 Class Regatta
World’s best sailors to compete on San Diego Bay on March 2-6, 2011
The Highly Competitive RC 44 Championship Tour Will Visit California For The First Time.
The biggest names in the sport of sailing, including Russell Coutts, Paul Cayard, James Spithill, Rod Davis and Terry Hutchinson are coming to race against each other on San Diego Bay from March 2-6, 2011 in identical 44-foot sailboats, the RC 44.
“I love racing in San Diego and I am looking forward to a great regatta”, said Coutts, who won the America’s Cup in San Diego for the first time in 1995 before winning the Cup three more times.
Bun Ook Pan Saa II
I love festivals. I think you all know this by now, especially if you’ve been following ON THE BRIGHT SIDE since the days I wrote from Japan. My first festival was the Fuji festival, where I first lived in Japan. One of the last festivals I watched in Japan was the Fire Festival in Fujieda (Rokusha Shrine Fire Festival). My favorite of all in Japan, though, was probably the Fukuroi Fireworks. Two hours of non stop fire works, young and old, men and women dressed in yukata…that was a very special night.
Last year, I happened to be in Laos during a special holiday called Bun Ook Pan Saa or end of the Buddhist lent. I enjoyed seeing hundreds of candles floating down the Mekong River, locals dancing in front of their homes and shops, and everyone lighting sparklers, fireworks and little whizzers and things which pop. I knew last year that I had to comeback.
This year, I was excited to enjoy all aspects of the festival. Pete and I planted our bums on the balcony of Tam Nak Lao restaurant, ordered Beer Lao and far too many dishes and waited for the procession of floats to come down the street. This is a parade and a festival in one – bonus! All sorts of people walked down the street along side those carrying the floats made of colored paper mache, and little bottles serving as lanterns all held together with a bamboo frame (bamboo, paper and fire together – totally safe!). The floats are taken to the main temple and then to the pier where they are launched into the water, even escorted by a team of people in a long boat.
The floats are all made by the monks in the temples and they are just beautiful. I’m not so good at night photography, so my photo doesn’t capture these so well, but I hope you get the idea!
What was so fun is that there are fireworks for sale everywhere you go. And everyone is lighting and shooting them off. Pete and I turned into 12 year olds and bought a butt load of poppers, cherry bombs and all sorts of other goodies. The large firework we bought, we ended up lighting in one of the temples. You see, the monks, after all their hard work to make the floats, decorate the temples and after a 3 month lent…well, they can’t really celebrate like everyone else. They are not allowed to participate. And most of them are teenagers and young men and you can see that it’s just killing them to not go out of the temple grounds. We were at the same temple where I met Bo and Kit in August, and I was able to find Bo and chat with him again before we lit the big firework. It was nice to see him again and he was glad for the visit.
We ended up hanging out with some locals…it was nice to bring our little candle to the pier among the crowds and have some little kid swim it out to a point where the current would pick it up. (We paid him in fireworks, which was completely agreeable by him!)
I just loved it. I loved the chaos, the beauty, the colors, the fireworks, the music and dancing….it was a real celebration and I am glad I made a point to enjoy it.
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