Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Vacation Day 5: San Miguel de Allende

What the heck happened to Vacation Days 3 and 4? Sheesh! This vacation is flying by!

I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to blog too much right now, so just a quick check-in to say that I’m still chugging along and having a great time on my Mexico trip.

Today a few of us skipped the walking tour in the morning to rest a bit and I’m glad we did. The rest of the day was jam-packed.

We’ll have a little more time in San Miguel tomorrow morning, so I’ll catch up on all the sightseeing I missed, but I’m happy to report that after five days of not being able to find reasonably priced postcards anywhere we went, I found some today for 5 pesos each (50 cents each). Now, that’s more than I usually like to pay for postcards, but I could afford it since I’m doing a lot fewer this time around (sorry, peeps who are getting left off this time). I’m almost done with them and tomorrow I must find a post office and hopefully they’ll get to people in a reasonable amount of time.

Everyday is a busy day and I’m not going to waste my vacation blogging (too much), so I’m off to get some shuteye for another big day tomorrow!

Vacation Day 2: Mexico City, Teotihuacan

After staying up way too late, we got up early and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. In retrospect, this might have been the meal that did me in (I started feeling sick before lunch, and despite what people think, I SWEAR I didn’t drink the water here!). But at the time, the breakfast was quite lovely.

Day 2 was incredibly jam packed!

After breakfast, we met up in our hotel lobbyat 8:45am to climb aboard a bus for a day of sightseeing.

As we drove through Mexico City, our tourguide Maria pointed out various historical buildings along our route. Our first stop was Plaza de las Tres Culturas (“Square of the Three Cultures”) which is in the Tlatelolco neighborhood of Mexico City. We got out of the bus and took pictures and walked around the entire square, viewing the remains of Aztec temples, entering into the Catholic church of Santiago Tlatelolco, and walking by a massive housing complex built in 1964. This space also has a memorial called “Memorial 68” to remember the 1968 Mexican student demonstrations and the Tlatelolco Massacre victims and survivors. The name “Three Cultures” is in recognition of the three periods of Mexican history reflected by those buildings: pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and the independent “mestizo” nation.

Our next stop was Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (“Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe”). There are actually two churches (the old Basilica and the modern Basilica right next to it) built on top of Tepeyac hill, north of Mexico City. The site is nearby the place where it is said Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in front of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. The new Basilica is arguably the most important religious building in Mexico. It houses the original tilma (or apron) of Juan Diego that shows the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Officially known as the “Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey,” the construction of the old basilica began in 1531 and was not finished until 1709. When we went inside, there was a considerable amount of restoration being done; scaffolding seemed to be up in every direction! The old basilica has been sinking since the city was built on a former lake.

Since the old basilica needed renovation, the new, (much) more spacious, basilica was built between 1974 and 1976 by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vásquez. It is a massive circular building constructed in such a way as to allow maximum visibility for the image to those inside. Up to 40,000 people can take part in Mass in this space!

But the most impressive thing about this place? They were displaying the tilma (kind of an apron) of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Here is the story (from Wikipedia) about his apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe and why this was the chosen location of the basilica:

As a widower, Juan Diego was prone to long periods of silence. He walked every Saturday and Sunday to church, and on cold mornings, like other members of his Indian tribe, wore a woven cloth called a tilma, or ayate made with coarse fibers from the maguey cactus for cotton was only used by the upper class Aztec.

On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he reported the following: As he was walking to church, he heard the sound of birds singing on Tepeyac hill and someone calling his name. He ran up the hill, and there saw a Lady, about fourteen years of age, resembling an Aztec princess in appearance, and surrounded by light. The Lady spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue. She called him “Xocoyte,” her little son. He responded by calling her “Xocoyata,” his littlest daughter. The Lady asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumárraga, that she wanted a “teocalli,” a sacred little house (church), to be built on the spot where she stood, in her honor, where:

“I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”

Recognizing the Lady as the Virgin Mary, Juan Diego went to the bishop as instructed, but the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga was doubtful and told Juan Diego he needed a sign. Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac hill and explained to the Lady that the bishop did not believe him. He implored the Lady to use another messenger, insisting he was not worthy. The Lady however insisted that it was of the upmost importance that it be Diego speaking to the bishop on her behalf. On Sunday, Juan Diego did as the Lady directed, but again the bishop asked for a sign. Later that day, the Lady promised Juan Diego she would give him a sign the following day.

According to Juan Diego, he returned home that night to his uncle Juan Bernardino’s house, and discovered him seriously ill. The next morning December 12, Juan Diego decided not to meet with the Lady, but to find a priest who could administer the last rites to his dying uncle. When he tried to skirt around Tepeyac hill, the Lady intercepted him, assured him his uncle would not die, and asked him to climb the hill and gather the flowers he found there. It was December, when normally nothing blooms in the cold. There he found roses from the region of Castille in Spain, former home of bishop Zumárraga. The Lady re-arranged the roses carefully inside the folded tilma that Juan Diego wore and told him not to open it before anyone but the bishop. When Juan Diego unfolded his tilma before the Bishop roses cascaded from his tilma, and an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously impressed on the cloth, bringing the bishop to his knees.

The bishop acknowledged the miracle and within two weeks, ordered a shrine to be built where the Virgin Mary had appeared. The bishop then entrusted the image to Juan Diego, who chose to live, until his death at the age of 74 — on May 30, 1548 — in a small hermitage near the spot where the Virgin Mary had appeared. There he cared for the chapel and the first pilgrims who came to pray there, propagating the account of the apparitions in Mexico.

Can you believe Juan Diego’s original tilma is still being displayed to the public here?! It’s amazing!

After this, we headed out of Mexico City toward Teotihuacan, an amazing archeological site. Between 100 and 500 A.D, an ancient people built a flourishing metropolis called Teotihuacan on a plateau about 25 miles from present-day Mexico City. With its accurately aligned avenues and a huge plaza surrounded by 15 monumental pyramids, Teotihuacan was bigger than any city in Europe at that time. It covered over nearly 8 square miles and 200,000 people lived there. Teotihuacan was built 700 years before the Aztecs began constructing their capital city of Tenochtitlan.

We had lunch at a nearby restaurant at La Posada del Jaguar Restaurante before an afternoon full of walking and CLIMBING! (I was already sick by this point, so I had a Fresca to drink and chowed down on plain bread for lunch and a little bit of someone else’s carne asada.)

Despite not feeling so great, I couldn’t fathom sitting on a the bus and missing out on the pyramids. We walked past the Pyramid of the Moon and down the Avenue of the Dead, leading us to the base of the Pyramid of the Sun. I climbed the steep steps of the Pyramid of the Sun and made it to the top! Whoo me! Even more amazing is that I made it DOWN! I made it to the base just as the rain clouds opened up and we made it to the bus before it started pouring. With this, our bus headed back to Mexico City, braving the crazy Friday afternoon traffic (which is only slightly more chaotic than traffic on a Friday in L.A.) before dropping us off at our hotel.

A bunch of us got together and walked a few blocks away for dinner at a place called Cafe du Taguba. We think the guy at our hotel must get a kickback for referring people here because by the end of the evening, we saw half our of group there! I had a yummy cheese and pepper tamale (only 23 pesos… $2.30!) and some more plain bread, but by this time, a headache had started descending upon me. The loud mariachi band that insisted on serenading our table didn’t help. My head started to feel worse and worse until I was ready to cry because I wanted to go back to the hotel and no one would let me leave and walk back by myself.

When our group was ready to leave, we stepped outside to find it POURING rain! And no one had an umbrella. I was beyond grumpy. We were going to cab it back, but after a few minutes, the rain stopped and we decided to walk back to the hotel.

Grateful to be back in my hotel room, I promptly lost my dinner and decided I was done for the night, as if it wasn’t totally obvious by that point (there was some discussion about going clubbing, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to be part of THAT!). By now, I realized that I had been nursing a baby migraine all night at dinner and now it was a full-blown migraine, hence the tossing of my cookies tamale. Our friends C & J went to the 7-11 across the street and bought me a couple of giant bottles of water as well as some drugs for my headache. I showered, drank about a liter of water, covered my eyes and promptly passed out.

Hmm. Maybe I overdid it??? Oh well, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to come back here, so I’m going to enjoy every minute I have here!

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-26

  • One hour of sleep. On the way to LAX. Mexico City here I come! #

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Vacation Day 1: Los Angeles to Mexico City

Stayed up almost all night packing. Went to bed at 2:30and got up at 3:30 to get ready to go out the door. Picked up a fellow traveler at 4am; headed toward the airport and arrived around 5am. Our tour group arrives en masse at LAX Tom Bradley Terminal to the Air Mexicana check-in area.

Breakfast at McD’s (wow! surprisingly few food choices at LAX at 5am!) and go through security. Flight from LAX to Mexico City is 3 hours. 10 minutes: they fed us breakfast! (A burrito or scrambled eggs; I opted for the burrito, but if I’d known they were going to feed us on the plane, I would have skipped the McD’s.) We arrived at Mexico City and cleared customs, but others didn’t make it through so easily. (When you are going through customes, you have to push the red button for your fate! If you push it and the panel turns green, you can go through. But if the panel turns red, they search through all your stuff. Several of our group members got searched.)

Bus ride to our hotel: The NH Centro Historico, just 1 block away from the Zocalo. After checking in, I went wandering the city with AC, but since we didn’t know what there was to see,we ended up walking through the Zocalo and then in circles until we got tired and went back to the hotel. I bought a hat for 40 pesos… or 4 bucks… score!

Our group had dinner together at the restaurant in the hotel where we had tilapia covered in some sort of strange pink sauce. It wasn’t bad, but it was definitely weird.

After dinner, a bunch of us wanted to have some coffee and since the door to the Starbucks connected to our hotel was locked, I declared, “Starbucks is closed!”

So a bunch of us started walking, looking for a cafe to sit down at. After turning down a couple of bars, we happened upon Café El Popular, which was perfect. We had desserts and pastries with our coffee and tea. (I had a Manzanita Sol: apple soda!!! Dammit! Why isn’t there apple soda in the States?!)

After our lovely dinner and coffee, we walked back to our hotel and we unpacked and got ready for Day 2.

Oh, and as it turns out, the Starbucks WASN’T actually closed. But I’m so glad we didn’t go there.

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-25

  • yelping.. Howard Appliances & Television (4.0/5) on It’s really hard for me to revie.. #
  • So much to do today before I leave for a week in Mexico! #

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I’m officially on vacation!


And so now I’m busy packing… for a trip to Mexico!

More later… maybe!

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-24

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Two years ago today, my life changed forever

How do you start a post like this?

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-20

  • heading back to l.a. #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-06-19

  • just landed. Yay! #
  • happy birfday southwest airlines. They just announced that today marks the 37th anniversary of southwest being in business. Cool. #
  • now let me off the plane please. #
  • yelping.. My Brother Vinny’s (4.0/5) on A table for one, please.

    Outside table, so.. #

  • leaving Folsom. Heading to the airport #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-06-18

  • stressful day today so far. At the airport again heading to Sacramento for client meetings tomorrow. #
  • yuck. Full flight. Oh well. Off we go!!! #
  • @betheboy. Happy birthday! Was hoping to see you at the Fig tonight but I’m off to Sacramento for client meetings all day tomorrow. #

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Compacting: Halfway through 2008

About a year ago, I heard about The Compact

The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):
* To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. — a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
* To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
* To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

We’ve agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on our blog).
#1 Don’t buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

Because the “larger” Compact list was too “noisy,” smaller, locally-focused lists began to form and I formed the Los Angeles area Compact group

Here is my update for mid-way through 2008…

This list has been quiet, so I thought I’d check in and see how people have been doing in 2008 to reduce the amount of “new” stuff we bring into our houses?

How have we all done?

I will admit, that I have not done well this year… my downfall has been electronics!

1) New LCD monitor: my old 21″ CRT broke; I was using an small 15″ CRT until my family bought me a new LCD monitor to replace. (In all reality, if I hadn’t received this as a gift, I’d probably have broken down and bought one myself.)

2) New scanner: I bought a new double-sided scanner that automagically turns documents into PDF. I’d been debating on his one, but I really needed to wrangle my paper chaos in my home office… still working on that but I don’t regret the buy… I have been able to recycle and shred a lot of documents that were just taking up a ton of space. The other thing that this scanner has helped me with is starting the process to go paperless with bills and notifications, etc. I’m nowhere near close yet; but my goal is to have as many of my documents kept electronically versus on paper.

3) Guitar Hero guitar: Ok, this was another gift. But I got Guitar Hero 3 for Wii and it came with the guitar. I didn’t feel guilty for getting it (as a gift), but then I realized that now I want another guitar. And the bad thing about the Wii is that I want new stuff for it all the time. I really want a Wii Fit and luckily haven’t found one yet.

4) iPhone: I got this as a gift. But it shouldn’t count as a gift, because I wanted it and mentioned it to a friend. And so he got it for me as a present. Think of it as pretty-consciously dropping a hint; I might as well have purchased it myself.

5) Digital Camera: Ok, ok, what’s with all the gifts? I finished graduate school, so I got a lot of gifts (obviously new). I didn’t expect any gifts… except for this one. I had been wanting a new digital camera but also, my Mom wanted one and she kept asking for my old one. My brother and his gf got me a new digital camera so I could pass my old one down to her. So another new gadget, but the old one is getting good use.

*Kicker) New walking shoes, expensive ones: Ok, these I knowingly bought new because I will be doing some traveling this summer and need good walking shoes. I’m sorry, but I just can’t do used shoes. Some people can and do. I can’t.

Other than that, I’ve done pretty well. No new furniture, only a couple of pieces of new clothing (for very specific events), and no knick-knacks. I haven’t purchased any new DVDs or even new books this year.

So all in all, I don’t think I did too poorly… if only I could figure out how I could curb my apparent addiction to electronical gadgets!!!

So I’ve spilled the beans… how about you?


Twitter Updates for 2008-06-16

  • yeah lakers! #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-06-15

  • note to our waor #
  • stupid iPhone. Waiters who roll their eyes at questions get smaller tips. #

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Father’s Day 2008

Joz & her Dad

Dear Daddy,

I remember the night this picture was taken. We were at a wedding reception held on a chartered boat in Newport Harbor. The bride and groom were relatives on your side.

You were so happy. So was I.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you. I miss you.

Photo taken 9/14/2003

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-14

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Twitter Updates for 2008-06-13

  • I have too many freakin windows open right now… #
  • Dammit Lakers! #

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The Rice Fairy came and I didn’t even notice

This morning Yoshi woke up and went out the back door to put something on the back porch.

“Why is there rice outside?”


I went outside to look and sure enough, there was a 20 lb. bag of rice sitting on our back porch!

A gift from the Rice Fairy!

How did that get there!?

Then I remembered that this past Sunday, my Mom had stopped by to leave me a bunch of stuff while I was working and left some things back there for me… but because the bag of rice was not in the same area where the other stuff was, I somehow missed it.

Anyway, thanks Rice Fairy… er, I mean MOM!

(And thanks to Yoshi for finding it!)

Blogging other places means that I can’t blog here.

So I’ll link to the two posts I wrote today.

At 8Asians:
Tila Tequila successfully negotiates peace in the Middle East, world rejoices

At LA Metblogs (formerly
Do you like blogging, hot weather girls, and fashion?

Comment here or there. Or anywhere.

links for 2008-06-13

My iPhone burned my feet

I’ve been trying not to complain about it, but I now officially hate my iPhone.

For a while, I had a long love/hate relationship with it. I loved everything about my iPhone… except for the phone part, which I hated.

You see, I’ve had AT&T for a long time and never had problems with reception in my house with my old pink Motorola RAZR.

But once I got my iPhone, people kept complaining about dropped calls, bad reception, or going directly to voicemail when calling me when I was at home. It has gotten so bad, I am using my land line, Yoshi’s T-Mobile cell phone, or my work (Verizon) cell phone instead of my iPhone to talk to people.

WTF is the point of me having my iPhone if I am using every other phone EXCEPT the iPhone!?

Anyway, I got a very important phone call a little while ago and I ran outside to answer the call. (Sometimes if I stand out on the sidewalk near the street, I can get a signal, but people STILL say that I’m cutting in and out).

But I ran outside with no shoes on.

And the darn sun-baked Southern California sidewalk is freakin’ HOT in the middle of the afternoon!

I was running back an forth on the sidewalk… ow! ow! ow! My poor feet!

(I don’t even care what the neighbors must have thought if they saw me running around out there!)

I burned my footsies and I totally blame my iPhone.

When I came back inside Yoshi had no sympathy for me… just some great advice… “WEAR SHOES NEXT TIME!”

(Either I am stubborn or I haven’t learned my lesson yet, but I’m thinking I don’t need to wear shoes… I need my iPhone to work in my house, dammit!!!)

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-11

  • at the airport. #
  • at the airport. on the plane waiting for takeoff #
  • and I’ve landed. On the shuttle for rental cars. Exciting. #
  • up and at them. I don’t have the tummy for food but I know I’ll be hungry later. #
  • done with client meetings. Back at the airport. #

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How to pronounce “Beijing,” courtesy of Two Chinese Characters

The Two Chinese Characters are John B. Weinstein & Carsey Yee and they rock!

If you don’t know how to pronounce “Beijing,” and really even if you do, you should check out this wonderful informational video they put out to educate and entertain.

My Mandarin is kind of rusty so I’m looking forward to more lessons from these two characters in the future… I wonder if they take requests for words/phrases to teach us???

links for 2008-06-12

Twitter Updates for 2008-06-10

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