July 31, 2007

I finished watching "Bride From Hanoi" last night. Teev is the name of the main character. She is supposed to be a Vietnamese native who speaks Korean fluently. How the heck did they come up with the name--Teev? I checked my Vietnamese book of baby names and Teev was no where to be found. Did they pull the name out of some Eastern European's butt? Anyways, the drama was exactly how Bobby Lee portrayed a "Korean drama" on Mad TV...its piano music playing in the background, long subtitles with frequent incorrect grammar, dramatic facial expressions, and flashbacks with narratives. It was a good show. What is a Wolnam?

July 30, 2007

My body has some minor sunburn...mainly on my back and chest. The weekend camping in Connecticut was quite relaxing and different. We had a combination of Vietnamese and American food. The highlight for me was Quyen's che thai on Saturday night. Thank God for bug sprays. I came back to the city with no insect bites. We never got rain until the very end when we drove through the Bronx. We had a few rain drops Saturday night, but it ended right when we put up the tarp. I slept like a baby last night. "Bride From Hanoi" came in. I watched an hour of it and fell asleep. It's funny to hear Korean actors speak in Vietnamese. The English subtitles are a bit off. How about getting Korean kids who were born in America and have them edit those subtitles. Plus, make them a lot SHORTER! I just received results for Part III of the CIA exam. I failed it again. I missed the passing score by 5 points. I am going to retake the exam this coming November. Time to hit the books again! See you at Bobst Library!

July 29, 2007

Still out fishing...will be back on July 30th!

July 28, 2007

Gone Fishing...come back now, ya hear?

July 27, 2007

"Bolinao 52" was a tearjerker. I vaguely remember hearing about the story a couple years ago but did not know the exact details. Duc Nguyen, the director, used his personal experience and meshed it with the survivors of Bolinao 52. I did not stay after the screening for the Q&A. There was an AIDS documentary that screened right before the feature presentation. It was also a tearjerker. The documentary reminded me of "3 Needles". Be sure to check out "3 Needles" if you have the opportunity. I am going to be out of pocket starting this evening. I will return Sunday afternoon.

July 26, 2007

"King and the Clown" was good, but not great. I expected more because of the hype all over the internet. The best scene was when the jesters first performed for the King. Everyone got their CIA scores. I am still waiting for mine. My office is in the basement of a dormitory. I have a feeling one of the students upstairs has my scores. Oh well, I probably failed the darn test. The IIA will begin offering the computer version of the test starting in 2008. We will now be able to take the test four times a year, instead of two times. The paper-and-pencil format will be eliminated. Uzma and David, congratulations!

July 25, 2007

My first session with my Mandarin tutor went very well. I learned some new phrases that should be helpful in everyday conversation. We agreed to do a telephone meeting on the weekend and a face-to-face session once during the week. It's refreshing to have one person focus on your learning needs as opposed to a teacher with ten students. Chang, stop flirting with Seth Green! If he asks you to get on a plane at JFK, don't do it! He has nasty shoes. Ronald, ready for your big move yet? You no longer need to cross the East River or whatever waterway that separates Lower Manhattan from Bay Ridge.

July 24, 2007

I have found plenty of free things since I moved to New York. Craigslist has a category for free things. I even used Craigslist to give away two bags of my old clothes. I found my apartment through Craigslist. I didn't have to pay a broker's fee. The apartment was ready for immediate occupancy. A nice lady who lives a few blocks from my apartment gave me a Crate & Barrel shelf. Carrying the 6 ft. long shelf required two people. The lady helped me halfway. I managed to carry it home from that point on plus up five flight of stairs. The shelf now houses Chang's knick-knacks. I need to find a new bed. I got my flashlight for the camping trip. Amazon.com is my #1 merchant! Who says you need to pay taxes and shipping? I still have mama's eggrolls in my freezer. A couple other people are already making bun cha gio for this weekend's camping trip. I think I have the suggested items for the camping trip. I am still without hiking boots. I'll wing it with my old New Balance! John, it was interesting to see you in that little chair. Carolyn, did you close yet?

July 23, 2007

Nothing gets better than deep-fried pancakes and maple syrup. Manhattan is truly small because I ran into two different people within the past two days. I have decided to discontinue NYU's Mandarin classes. I found a tutor who will help me with the crazy language. In return for her service, I will help her with accent reduction. It rained this morning and should rain throughout the day. I shined my shoes a couple days ago for nothing. The Barking Dog's version of a cajun po-boy consists of buttered Italian bread with battered popcorn shrimp and "spicy" sauce. It was NOT spicy at all! Crumbs has four locations throughout Manhattan now. I don't allow two spaces between a period and the beginning of the next sentence. Is that a crime? Justin Timberlake, along with two partners, opened a restaurant on the UES. The place is called "Southern Hospitality". I'll sample their goodies and report back on here. Below are a couple trailers of a recently-released Korean movie that takes place in Vietnam. It's called "Muoi: Legend of the Portrait".

July 22, 2007

I had a great time volunteering at the film festival. There were some dull moments during the daytime hours when we barely had any traffic. CC and Denny made the day go by faster. Pradeep, I'll see you on Wednesday. As I walked back to my apartment from the laundry room this morning, I noticed some heavy smoke in the sky. The smoke came from the building across the street from me. I did not hear any firefighter sirens. Perhaps someone is BBQing on his/her balcony. The smoke reminded me of this week's earlier explosion.

July 21, 2007

Uzma, it was great seeing you! It must have sucked to eat all that bland food for two weeks. I'm glad you enjoyed the curry and cupcake. Yes, the calculator belongs to you. I guarantee it. Thanks again for saving me at the last minute.

July 20, 2007

Following this is an excerpt from Air France's website describing America...interesting stuff: The US claims to be the greatest success story of the modern world - a nation fashioned from an incredibly disparate population who, with little in common apart from a desire to choose their own paths to wealth or heaven, rallied around the ennobling ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to forge the richest, most inventive and most powerful country on earth. Despite polemicists who justly cite the destruction of Native American cultures, racism and imperialism at the top of a long list of wrongdoings, half the world remains in love with the idea of America. This is, after all, the country that introduced the world to the right to the pursuit of happiness, free speech, electric light, airplanes, assembly-line automobiles, the space shuttle, computers, blues, jazz, rock & roll and movies that climax at the high-school prom. On a short trip, it can be hard work dismantling your preconceptions. So much of the country has been filmed, photographed, painted and written about that you need to peel back layers of representation to stop it from looking like a stage setting. This worldwide representation can make the country seem strangely familiar when you first encounter novelties like 24-hour shopping, bottomless cups of coffee, 'Have a nice day,' drive-thru banks, TV evangelists, cheap gasoline and newspapers tossed onto lawns. But you'd be foolish to read too much into this surface familiarity, since you only have to watch Oprah for half an hour to realize that the rituals and currents of American life are as complex, seductive and bewildering as the most alien of cultures. Come prepared to explore the USA's unique brand of 'foreignness' rather than stay in the comfort zone of the familiar. You'll discover several of the world's most exciting cities, some truly mind-blowing landscapes, a strong sense of regionalism, a trenchant mythology, more history than the country gives itself credit for and, arguably, some of the most approachable natives in the world.

July 19, 2007

Yesterday was very interesting. When I left the gym in Union Square, I hopped on the 6 train to go home. The train stalled at the 33rd Street stop. The conductor asked us to stay in the train until further notice. After 15 minutes of waiting, he announced that all 4,5, and 6 trains are not in service for both directions due to a building collapse at Grand Central. People, including myself, immediately left the train to go above ground. The scene was chaotic in midtown. "Rubber-necked" pedestrians and traffic jams ruled the streets. I decided to walk towards 1st Ave. to take an uptown bus home. As I passed up Lexington Ave., I saw a big pile of smoke pushing up into the air. People were taking pictures of the explosion. My goal was to get home and to check on those that may be effected from the explosion. I made my calls as I walked to 1st Ave. Everyone was accounted for. I considered walking from 33rd St. to 79th St. because it would have been faster to walk than to take the bus. I decided to take the bus because I already used up my remaining energy for the day earlier at the gym. I walked to the U.N. where there was a M101 limited bus waiting. A little over an hour later, I made it home. A very old steam pipeline busted causing the explosion. Officials say it is not terror-related. As of this morning, the incident resulted in one dead person and approximately 20 people injured.

July 18, 2007

The heavy rain stopped when I walked out to the bus this morning. I expected my newly pressed pants to be wrinkled by the time I got to work. The lord was on my side because I was wrinkle free! What is the difference between a conditioner and shampoo? I bought hair shampoo this morning and almost all the bottles contain a 2+1 formula. In other words, almost all have conditioner and shampoo mixed together. I do not have a lot of hair so I felt it was best to stick with only shampoo. I do not want to add any more chemicals to the remaining precious hair on my head.

July 17, 2007

I am a snack freak, especially at work. I have a supply of munchies in my desk drawer. As of this morning, I have an-almost-finished bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, an unopened bag of Spicy Nachos Doritos, a good supply of Chips Ahoy chewy chocolate chip cookies, three bags of dried mangoes, a bag of dark chocolate covered pretzels from Trader Joe's, and a bag of Polish wafer-like cookies. These sweet treats come in handy later in the afternoon around 3PM when hunger lingers over me until dinner time. In addition to the snacks mentioned above, there is a Japanese bakery across the street from my office. Let's hope my sugar intake does not convert into fat.

July 16, 2007

Bastille Day on 60th Street was informative. I learned about the many regions of France, including the overseas departments such as St. Martin. Sandrine's family is from the Lorraine area, where it is heavily influenced by the germans to the east. I must have gained 10 pounds from eating french pastries and crepes. I found a funny picture of "Uncle Sam". Please see the image below. After the street fair, we travelled down to the East Village in hopes of finding this Italian place with a prix fixe menu for early birds. After walking for over an hour within the same vicinity, we remained unsuccessful. We ended up at our favorite thai place on the corner of 1st and 1st. I chose not to eat my usual green curry with chicken. The spicy basil fried rice seemed more tempting. We finished with banana and coconut milk for dessert. Here is a picture of the most famous face in the world.

July 15, 2007

The off-off broadway show "Idol: The Musical" was hilarious. The funniest scene and the highlight happened towards the end when Adrienne had to sing and cluck Clay Aiken's chicken jingle. The costume helped tremendously. The evening's dessert included a sponge cake and an apple croissant from a Japanese bakery in the St. Mark's area. Junior's cheesecake in Times Square topped off the night. I am going to have diabetic issues soon. I can just see it now. It's off to Bastille Day's street fair later here on the UES. Melanie, sorry for giving you the wrong info about Las Vegas. Now I know! Have a great time at the conference. Uzma, have you made it to New Jersey okay?

July 14, 2007

Erin did an awesome job choosing a little bitty place in the West Village for TL's birthday. I think everyone enjoyed their meals. Luna, nice seeing you...yes, you are getting mentioned once again. Today I will be at a taping for the season finale of "Making the Band 4". Later this evening will be a free show of "Idol: The Musical". Today is a FREE day, not including food of course! The show was cancelled. Chang should have checked her e-mail last night. Apparently, Diddy is not ready to decide who will be members of his newest boy band. We decided to go for pho in Chinatown since it was too late to go back to sleep. None of the pho places were open except for one. The food was okay. After "green tea" waffle and thai tea at Paris Bakery, it was back to non-Asian Manhattan.

July 13, 2007

Today is Friday the 13th! Yikes!! I have decided to wear flip flops while at the office. I hope my boss is not reading this. Dress shoes constrain my feet. When I am sitting at my desk, I will switch to flip flops. The flip flops will remain on my feet as I walk around in my office. When I need to leave the office, I will switch over to real shoes. This is probably TMI (too much information). Think of this blog as my personal diary. Chang, thank you for the dinner, but I'll have to pass unless the food is still good for tomorrow. Brad, no more gulping down glasses of wine. I felt sick this morning from drinking wine too fast. Happy 25th, TL! If you guys want to hear how a "bac ky" talks, click on this. NOTE: You must be Vietnamese to appreciate the humor. Thanks, Khanh!

July 12, 2007

Yesterday I saw "Pan's Labyrinth". I had no idea the movie would be violent and gruesome. I was expecting something along the lines of "Lord of the Rings" or even "Harry Potter". I failed to see the R rating on the cd sleeve. It was slow at first, but they all came together in the end. It was a great film. I don't recommend little kids watching it for obvious reasons. John, I got your facebook message. Sorry, I have not replied. Welcome to China! Is it what you expected? When you return to the states, I expect you to count down from 100 to zero in Mandarin. Joel, I still need names. Why are you hating on the player? LOL Chang, some words to live by are "Punjabi, namaste, balle balle, hindu and hindi (know the difference), Kolkata, Mumbai, desi, and Aishwarya Rai". We have beautiful weather today with clear skies and highs in the lower 80's. The humidity left us after a cold front went through last night. However, it will make a comeback tomorrow night. Sandrine, can't wait for the Bastille Day festivities!

July 11, 2007

Invitations via e-mail are always the best medium to get the word out. People check their e-mails several times a day. Who needs the postal service any more? The only time I use a stamp is when I send birthday cards, mother/father's day cards, and all other holiday cards. Wait...I guess we do need the postal service. I still need to mail my rent money each month to the landlord. The landlord should set up an EDI for the tenants to send money electronically. It will be convenient for all if we transfer funds electronically. I started to read "1987" Brad gave me a copy of the book. It reminds me of "Fahrenheit 451" and "Brave New World". I see quite a few similarities among those books. Chi San, those cookies were new to me. I never had them in the past. Thank you again. They were very yummy. Will Themy ever get on the Facebook?

July 10, 2007

It is hot today! I came into the office sweating. I am now sitting in front of a fan drying off.

July 9, 2007

Taking the subway from LGA to the UES was not so bad. It took me an hour from door to door. I just woke up from my 3-hour nap. It is very refreshing to wake up from a long afternoon nap. Many thanks to Marc for driving back and forth AND for sticking it out until the very end when Carolyn "got lost". You still owe me $20. Carolyn, I know what to get you for Christmas...a map! Thanks again for letting me crash last night. Tell your brother I am sorry for snoring. Loan, it's always great to see you. I'm glad you found some great, supportive friends. Nathan, good luck with your boards. Don't forget to tell Minh that I made those cookies for him! Brad, it's great to be back!

July 8, 2007

Tay Do had a wedding so we ended up at this authentic Vietnamese place down the road. The food was delicious. Ice coffee at Lee's Sandwiches was the evening's highlight. Then we were off to the bars/clubs. I just ate pho at Pho Nguyen. I am going to chill before heading over to Richmond for Hong and Winnie's wedding. Yes, the gym opens at noon during the summer. Sorry, you'll have to walk around. Nathan was hospitable as always! Loan looked hot like fiya. Yeah, I said fiya. I dread having to drive back later tonight from Houston to Dallas.

July 7, 2007

The flight from LGA to DFW was very smooth. There were no lines at security check. The baggage handler gave me nothing but smiles. I had a whole row of seats to myself. Plus, I watched "Blades of Glory". Will Ferrell continues to shine on screen. I am now in Houston drying myself from the humid weather. Marc did a great job of driving from Dallas to Houston in 3 1/2 hours. Loan is going to take us out tonight.

July 6, 2007

I am not looking forward to the hot, wet weather in Texas. I hear it's been raining non-stop. Carolyn, thank you for the "heads up". Marc and I are supposed to drive down to Houston from Dallas. Let's hope the flooding ends so we can see Hong and Winnie get married. The last time I was in Dallas was when I moved away. I finished school in early May and left Texas later that month. Chi San will have bun cha gio waiting for me. She also mentioned these cookies that Chi Sen bought some time ago. Apparently, I tried them and thought they were the best cookies ever. I don't recall eating yummy cookies at Chi San's place. Maybe she is confusing me with another "Bee". I just saw the latest pictures of Addison. He is very tall now. Melanie, you should have one picture album of all his pictures instead of random albums here and there. Themy, have fun on the east coast. I think you are already in Boston. Joe has a pretty sweet entertainment system. You may end up staying in the apartment the entire time. Chang, or should I say Chang Hilton...good luck with your first day of class! You will likely take a practice exam your first day of class. Brad, I hope your throat is feeling better and I'm glad you got mucho sleep last night. You can't go wrong with Crumb's cupcakes!

July 5, 2007

Yesterday was a packed day filled with fun and work. I bought a couple NY Yankees t-shirts for our game later that afternoon. Sports Authority was just up the road. We had brunch at the Barking Dog. It was the usual scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and fruit. A short hop on the train and we were in the Bronx. People filled the streets right outside of Yankee Stadium. Street vendors ruled the streets selling beer, greasy finger foods, Yankees t-shirts, caps, etc. We made it onto the reserved tier level (highest level of seats) just in time for the national anthem. Sandrine and I chit chatted while Chang gave her full attention to the game. After the game, I went home to do laundry. The laundry room closed today. I am also flying to Dallas tomorrow so I had to take care of my dirty undies before leaving. I went to a BBQ in Brooklyn at Nini's. It was a lot of fun. I met some interesting people. Nini, thank you again for the invite. Let me know when you have another event. I hope you guys reach your goal! I feel a bit guilty for not recycling or doing more for the environment. There are at least 4 more viets in the city. We are a rare breed in New York. I left in the middle of the fireworks to beat the train rush. One hour later, I was back in my hood. Other than the occasional sprinkle here and there, the fireworks lived up to everyone's expectations! Ronald, are we going to be neighbors any time soon?

July 4, 2007

Yesterday's "happy hour" was fun. The bartender at our first stop was not too nice. He threw napkins on our tables. He did not want to tell us about the drink specials. After one round of drinks, it was off to the mexican place with a backyard patio. The mango margaritas tasted more like mango smoothies than margaritas. The food was good, especially the constant supply of chips and salsa. Alex came to the rescue with "the contender". I am halfway through the picture show. The final product will be released soon. There are a handful of 24 hour pharmacies in Manhattan. I picked up some late night medicine at the local Duane Reade. The pharmacy technician had a difficult time with my last name. He insisted on pronouncing it correctly. I told him to give it up because the "NG" is in your throat. Yesterday was Julie's birthday! You don't look a day over 20! Oh, it was Mary's birthday as well! I hope you guys enjoyed your b-day! Loan, I'll see you this weekend...you and your friend, Jenny!

July 3, 2007

I had a difficult time writing three simple paragraphs for a report. I asked a co-worker for guidance. She tore up what I drafted. I brought the text home and worked on it some more. I tried to be concise and direct. It's not easy when you have so many details to write about. The school still has not refunded my $110. I am getting the "run around" from both the enrollment office and bursars. I hope to get a resolution this week. I just bought tickets to go home for Christmas. Total price was $230. I thought it was cheap before they added taxes and fees. Now that I think about it, the price is just average. Oh well...at least it's a direct flight from LGA to MSY.

July 2, 2007

Brunch was postponed until 3PM instead of 1PM. Apparently, people can't wake up by noon on Sunday. Isabella's was great as usual. The weather couldn't be better with sunny skies, a slight breeze, and no humidity. Scrambled eggs with salmon and cream cheese is the best! We walked across the street to the flea market. Then it was off to the park. My face is blistering this morning. It's probably sunburn from laying out in the sun. Uzma, glad to hear you will be coming in the next couple of weeks. I hope the New Jersey assignment is not too far from the city. Hoa, congratulations on your new job ONCE AGAIN! Hopefully, this one will be it. I don't understand why people continue to text message one another. Pick up the phone and just dial the number. Better yet, e-mail that person. FACEBOOKING is becoming a verb.

July 1, 2007

Yesterday was perfect weather for a rooftop party. The door girl had a guest list. She gave pink flowers with a number for each guest. Apparently, a raffle was to happen later in the evening. A guy spoke to me in Mandarin. He also spoke French. A girl thought I was Japanese. I said my usual, "Ari gato o zah e mas". It's a formal way of saying "thank you". We missed the French Tuesday founder. I told Sandrine how to make an appearance at a party. I'm not sure if she took my advice. The W/C was in 4E. After the rooftop shindig, we schlepped to Slate where Monika was waiting. Monika is Chang's new buddy in the city. Newt came along. We were turned away because Newt had on flip-flops. We wanted to go to that rooftop bar on 5th Ave., but the line was ridiculously long. We settled for a pub right next to that long line. People who did not want to wait in that line hung out at this pub. After one round of drinks, we went back to Slate where there is now a line. It started to rain so the line moved very fast. No diner was opened around that area. I was very surprised. We ended up eating pizza and cheese fries. One crosstown bus and a cab ride uptown later, I was home.