Friday, September 29, 2006

I love Hawaii!

I went to Hawaii as part of my vacation fest at the beginning of September. It was beautiful! This was my first trip to Hawaii and I don't know how many times I said, "I could totally move here!" It's just my style! Here's what I loved about Hawaii!

  • Plate lunches: We arrived on Wednesday around lunchtime, so our first stop was LocoMoco, a fast food place that serves the plate lunches I had been teased about for a month before going to Hawaii. Plate lunches are the staple Hawaiian fast food. It's some kind of meat with rice and mac salad. Here is my teriyaki beef plate lunch:

Teriyaki beef plate lunch

  • Wearing flip flops (or "slippahs" as everyone there calls them!) to a wedding on the beach:

New slippahs

  • Visiting with Ron's family who just took to me (and I to them) like white on rice! We played Karaoke Revolution, watched a couple really bad movies (Benchwarmers and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), cooked dinner one night (that's a whole 'nother post!) and basically just had lots of fun together. Ron's sister is fabulous and her family is awesome. It made me want to adopt them!

After spending a few days with Ron's family, we headed over to Maui.

When I decided I'd go to Hawaii with Ron, I consulted 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz to see what exactly she recommended one see while in Hawaii. There were two activities that sounded fabulous and we did both of them!

The first one was seeing the sunrise at the top of Haleakala on Maui. We got up at 2:45 AM to get dressed, peel the blankets of our hotel beds and drive the hour and a half up the mountain. Once at the top, we slept for another hour or so and then got out to brave the 20+ mph winds! It was SO windy and freezing cold! According to our car, it was 42 degrees outside. Brrrrrr!! The cold wouldn't have been so bad. The wind was the kicker.
Ron at Haleakala
Steph - Freezing to death!

The sunrise was worth it. It was completely gorgeous, even though the clouds were blowing through due to all the wind! These pictures do not do it justice, but here are a few anyway! It was so cool! The top of the mountain is just over 10,000 ft. It looked like we were an island in a sea of clouds. Everyone starting cheering once the sun peeked over the horizon. I would love to do this again and then ride a bike down. You ride through three different zones on the mountain. It looked pretty cool!

Just after sunrise

Sea of clouds

On Saturday night, we went to Ron's friend's wedding that took place on the beach at sunset. She was really cool and her husband seemed super sweet too.

Ron with Kimmie

The food was wonderful and we had a really nice time. Here's a picture we took after the wedding at the beach.

On Sunday, we got up fairly early in order to get on the Road to Hana by 8 AM. It was well worth the whole day it took. All day, I kept saying, "Wow! Oh my!" It was stunningly beautiful. The Road to Hana was windy (I think the book says it has over 400 turns) and many times over the bridges, there is only one lane. There are all kinds of waterfalls that can't be seen from the road. You have to hike down into a small ravine or behind a bend to see them. It was gorgeous!!! The photo on the left is one of my favorite pictures I took on the day we drove the very curvy Road to Hana. The one on the right is the first waterfall we saw. I think we did this during a drier part of the year because some of the waterfalls weren't gushing with water.

Steph on the Maui coast

The book we used as our guide for where to stop along the Road to Hana was Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. It gave us excellent recommendations. We also used it when choosing restaurants to try while we were in Maui. We loved Da Kitchen in Kihei which was recommended.

Overall, a very enjoyable trip. I made Ron go to only one open house, but the condos were way too expensive for me (over $1 million!). I'd love to buy a home there and be able to stop by whenever I wanted. That would be awesome!!

I posted a few more random pictures on my Flickr account, so if you want to see any other pics, just check that link out! I feel like I posted plenty here! This may be the longest post ever for me!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dating Lesson #1

Well, I've concluded the first dating experiment. The great thing about experience is that you can learn something from it, right? Ready?

Dating Lesson #1
I need to trust my instincts.

I think I have a pretty good sense of people and what's going on with them and I need to follow that more. I have gut reactions to people, actions and situations, but I let the hope that I'm wrong or just reading something incorrectly sneak in there and allow me to ignore things I know I should not. You know, that whole "benefit of the doubt" thing.

So, that has to be my resolution from now on. Luckily, I didn't ignore it long. In fact, my pride wouldn't let me ignore it. I've never really thought about myself as a "proud" person, but I think I'm realizing more now that I am. There's probably a whole other post about how my pride has gotten me into trouble, but in this case, it helped me avoid a heap of it!

I can't turn a blind eye to something just hoping that maybe it isn't what I think. I'm no dummy. Chances are, it's exactly what I think it is. So far, I'm batting 1,000!

Monday, September 25, 2006

I hate Fry's!!

I hate Fry's. They hire the stupidest people on the planet to work there. They're complete idiots.

The only good thing about Fry's is that they have everything under the sun in one store. Need a router? How about a toaster? Candy? Magazines? Light saber? I bought three video games today. One is a gift, but the other two are mine, all mine! Some game called Mojo and a Sims game. I also got a new flash drive. I lost my old one. I got a 1 GB drive for $30 - $14 mail-in rebate = $16. What a deal!

The moral of the story is: Don't ever try to use a company check to pay for something at Fry's.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dave and Buster's

Dave and Buster's.... how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....
  1. I love the boxing game that leaves me sore for two days after I play it!
  2. I love the dancing game that pumps up my heart rate!
  3. I love the Super Shot basketball game!
If I only went to Dave and Buster's everyday! That would be awesome! I'd be fit as a fiddle!

Speaking of... why do I only go to D&B's when I'm out of town? That is an odd thing.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Concentration level sinking...

Oh, the good thing about getting off of work early is that I don't have to work all day! The bad part is that I have a hard time focusing sometimes when I know in 30 minutes, I'm leaving!

Random happy thoughts in my head

  • Lots of games coming down the pipe!
  • There's a new Michel Gondry movie coming out!
  • I'm going to Magic Mountain on October 6th with a really good group!
  • I have lots of Arrested Development at home waiting for me!
  • The new TV season has started!
  • Now there's only 26 minutes left!
Wow, I'm feeling a little ADD at the moment...

Off to Phoenix

I'm getting off of work at noon today to head out to Phoenix with Shane for her sister's bridal shower. It should be fun! I'll finally get to meet the rest of Shane's family and take a road trip! It's been a while since I took one, but I'm ready with Roadfood in hand!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Amazing Race Pool

I have a pool going for the Amazing Race. Ron did some research and here's how we're running the pool.

You give me your top four teams. You'll get 5 pts. for every week each team is still in the race. You'll get 20 pts. if your teams finish in exactly the spot you predicted, 15 pts. if they're off by one ranking, 10 pts. if they're off by two rankings. The person with the highest score for the season wins!

Email me if you're interested. The cost is 10 credits.

I lack dating experience

I recently started dating someone and let me say that this has definitely been an experience for me. I've had to try to extract my brain from "marriage" mode and put it in a "dating" mode and part of the problem is that I've never really "dated" anyone. I don't know when I realized this, but somewhere along the line, I started thinking about all my "relationships" and noticed that really, there had been pretty much zero dating. Just meeting, clicking and jumping headlong into a relationship. I'm basing this primarily on my three last relationships.

My boyfriend that I had my senior year of high school asked me out to lunch one day (he was already graduated and maybe three years older than me) after recognizing me in one of my classes. I already knew who he was and had met him once a year or so beforehand. I remember eating lunch with him and then starting to see him after that. He lived with me my senior year. My dad was never home, so both he and my sister's boyfriend lived with us that year. Then I went off to college.

Then, in college, after meeting my future boyfriend in the cafeteria, I asked his roommate about him and mentioned I thought he was cute. Shortly thereafter, my college boyfriend asked me out on a date to the movies and we became inseparable. We watched movies, made late night runs to Taco Bell, stayed up all night playing games with our friends... you know, all that fun college stuff!

After my college BF broke up with me, about five months later, I met my husband. We went out on a couple unconventional dates that involved hours of non-stop talking and then we spent all our time together and then eloped two months later because (obviously!) we were crazy about each other. Turns out, we weren't as compatible as we were crazy about each other and here we end up getting divorced 10+ years later. But we had chemistry and a connection (plus some determination) that somehow kept us together for years. Not all happy years, that's for sure, but still, somehow we muddled through and had some fun along the way.

So, that brings me to now. I'm dating. Looking to connect with someone. Looking for the next relationship. Hoping to meet someone extraordinary. Taking the present candidate out of the equation leads me to ponder: What am I really looking for in this whole dating experience? Forget about what I want from him and what I wish were different. A good friend told me that I need to figure out what I want and then the rest will kind of fall in to place. I think he's right.

Figuring out what I want seems like it'd be tough, but really it's not. I want to find someone that I connect with and I care about and know that he cares about me. I want to have fun, talk, play around, spend enjoyable time doing stuff together and know that when I'm not around he misses me as much as I miss him. I want someone who is as much into me as I'm into him. I don't want it to be skewed in either way. It just doesn't work. If he's more into me than I'm into him, then I think I'd feel smothered or responsible for someone's feelings towards me. If I'm more into him, then I feel like I'm doing the pursuing and frankly, I'm not interested in doing that. I need a man with some initiative. Someone who wants to come get me. I'm happy to show that I'm equally interested, but really, I don't need to chase down a man. It's innate for a man to pursue, so frankly, if he's not pursuing, then he must just not be that into me! At least that would be my logical conclusion... And I do really want someone who is into me. So, that would never work for me.

I guess that for everything I lack in dating experience, I'm going to have to make up for it in analytical reasoning and make good decisions for myself. I have my "Ideal Husband" list (yes, you read that correctly!) and keep checking it to see how I'm doing so that I can very consciously pick someone who meets criteria that I set up months and even years ago. The criteria is set up into three columns - must have, would be nice, and absolutely not! All the criteria on that list are very concrete, measurable items, like personality traits, interests, beliefs, etc. What the list doesn't cover is emotional stuff that is more difficult to quantify. I guess one good thing about dating is that it gives me more ideas of things to add to my list. I made this list so that I wouldn't get caught up in the throws of chemical, neurotransmittal ecstasy and forget what the heck I was looking for! I've always "fallen" into relationships and this time, I'm making an effort to be conscious about what I'm doing, every step of the way.

I know I've been thankful for my friends many times since moving out on my own (both on this blog and many times privately), but really, I don't know what I would do without them. I love them and what I really appreciate is that they love and care about me. I think that's what I like the best. I know they care about me. I don't ever question or doubt that. I'm not saying everyone I know absolutely cares for me, but my close friends do and I feel it every time they call just to see how my day's going or to tell me about something funny that happened to them today. Or to tell me how they were a complete basket case or why they're going straight to hell or how sad they are about something that triggered a memory of a really hard time that's still just under the surface. Or when they share stories about their past and then hold me when I start crying thinking about all the pain and loss that have come with the last couple years. They are the best and I'm glad they put up with all my crazy intensity. They appreciate me for who I am and I appreciate that about them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Updates should be coming

I have been SO tired since getting back from vacation. I will post about the stuff we did while in Hawaii and post pictures, but I don't when exactly. I've had something to do every night this week and it continues until Sunday. So it might possibly be next week. But they are coming!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vanguard account opened!

After much contemplation, I finally opened up a Vanguard account today for investing purposes. It was hard to decide to do it, especially after receiving an email from my credit union that let me know about a 7 month CD that pays 5.6% APY. 5.6% guaranteed vs. trying to do better with a Vanguard account? Well, I did say that I wanted to gamble more in my life, right? So here goes!

I put an equal amount of money in the following seven index funds:

Other than this, I'm going to keep a reasonable amount in my EmigrantDirect account for easy access and put the rest in that 7 month CD at Lockheed.

We'll see how things progress!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Football pool

I am in two football pools this season. I've decided that what I need in my life is more gambling! I would say I'm joking, but really I'm only semi-joking about that. On that note, I'm starting a pool for The Amazing Race, starting up this Sunday, if anyone's interested!

The first pool is a pick'em pool where you pick all the games and rank them with "confidence" points. So for every game you pick correctly, you get the corresponding point value you've given it (ranging from 2-16). You can only use each point value once.

The second one is a suicide pool. It's winner take all and you just pick the team that you're SURE is going to win that week. Once eliminated, you're out for the season. The prize on this one will be approximately 20,500 credits. I am partnered up with Ron on this one.

Results from week 1
I came in first place in my pick'em pool and won 25 credits. It came down to the tiebreaker and I had picked 27 while my rival picked 35. The final score of the SD vs. OAK game? 27-0!! Thank you San Diego!!

We picked NE for the suicide pool and LUCKILY, a safety at the end pulled that one through for us!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hawaiian flip flops

Oh, is there anything better than going to a Wal-Mart in Hawaii? I love flip flops, but it's hard to find any decent ones that don't cost $20+ in California. Lucky for me, my friend specifically requested I bring her back some Locals flip flops and so in searching for her request, I found two aisles full of flip flops at Wal-Mart! I ended up buying a bunch for myself too. I love wearing flip flops, but all the ones they carry at Target in California are more decorative and not very sturdy or safe.

We're off to Maui on Friday and looking forward to that. Unless we stop at an internet cafe, I think I won't be online until I get back to work on Monday morning.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spam and such

It worked out fine, but it turned out that Ron hadn't slept at all either, so both of us were running on empty as far as sleep was concerned for us. We stopped at Carl's jr. on the way to the airport to pick up something to munch on. We got all checked in and on board to San Fran and I promptly passed out for the hour or so of the flight. That really did wonders because I think I only slept the last couple hours of the San Fran to Honolulu flight simply because I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be having not slept the night before.

Well, I've been in Hawaii for less than 12 hours and I've managed to eat pork in three forms and one of them was, yes, Spam! I had a "bento" plate from LocoMoco. The bento plate consists of Spam, chicken katsu (fried and boneless), deep fried mahi and steak teriyaki, all served with white rice for less than $6. The steak teriyaki was the best part of the plate.

For dinner we went to Zippy's and I had lau lau and pork kalua. For dessert I had a napple(?) or something like that. It's basically a pastry filled with a chocolate paste and it was delicious!! I'd come back and get some more to take home, but I don't think I'll be able to do that.

We played Sims2 on PS2 and Ron brought Karaoke Revolution Party for them as a gift, so we played that too. We've been having a great time and I'm looking forward to hitting Costco tomorrow to see what weird things they might sell at this location. I'm planning on cooking some lemony garlic stuffed chicken breasts for dinner tomorrow night, so hopefully the Ron's sister's family likes that!

It's late and I need to get some sleep. Getting three hours of sleep just isn't cutting it! :-)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Off to Hawaii

Ron should be here any minute and then we'll be off to the airport (with maybe a stop for a snack) to catch our flight leaving LAX at 6 AM. Who's bright idea was that? I haven't slept at all and it's 2:36 AM. I hope Ron's slept so he can drive us to the airport. The good news is that I'm all packed except for games. :-)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Vacation update

Well, my time here in Colorado is coming to an end!

On Sunday, we did go to the taste of Colorado down in Denver and it was fun. It was pretty crowded, but managed to check out most of the booths and get some yummy food. I had a plate of Indian food, roasted corn and mini donuts sprinkled with cinnamin and sugar. Everything was pretty good. I also got to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and they sounded pretty good. The sound guys did a great job of setting up the system.

After that, we went to the indoor glow-in-the-dark miniature golf place. Evan and Neal both got a hole-in-one. Neal ended up winning thanks to that!

We went to a Mexican restaurant for happy hour after that and then over to Dave & Buster's where I think I may have gotten my highest score ever on Super Shot (those mini basketball games where the basket moves). Neal and I were playing the continuous one and the basket moves forward and back all throughout and I scored 54 pts! I was on fire. I never realized that I just needed a little alcohol to get better at the basketball! We also played my favorite boxing game there, DDR, skeeball and other stuff. And for some reason, D&B was giving me free games. I bought 135 credits, but some of the games were free. I have no idea why.

Then we checked out their Super Target. It's called "Super" because they sell full groceries there. They have a deli, meat department, everything! It looked OK. The prices on some stuff was less, but not on other things. Convenient though, to be able to do all your household shopping in one place.

On Monday, we didn't do much after doing so much on Sunday. Evan's been sick while I've been here, so he's not going to school today. So, we have our last morning together before they drop me off at the airport around 1 PM.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Here in Colorado

Well, I'm here in Colorado, writing to you from a mile high! I wonder if it really is a mile high? Ah, who cares? It sounds cool to say that.

So far, I'm having a really nice time visiting with my sister and her family. I was really glad to see Evan, my nephew! I haven't seen him since the end of June and I don't think I quite realized how much I've missed him. He's been giving me all the kisses I've missed over the last couple months, so it's been nice!

Life in Colorado is so different! We went to a Labor Day celebration at the park today. First off, it was SO uncrowded because they live in a small town. The park itself was so clean and well kept. They have recycling stations all over for everything so that nothing is wasted. We watched a bocce ball tournament too which was kind of fun. I've never played or seen it played, and now I want to try it! Everyone we met was really nice and friendly. It's just such a different experience from anything in L.A. It's bizarre in a good way. Oh, and the traffic! We had to pick up Neal from work at 6 PM on the Friday night of a holiday weekend 30 miles away from their apartment and it took about 45 minutes. We hit some "traffic," but it was NOTHING compared to traffic in L.A.! It was like traffic you'd hit at 2 AM in L.A. It was shockingly minimal.

We are probably going to hit up the Taste of Colorado tomorrow and some glow-in-the-dark indoor miniature golfing too. I have some pictures, but they may have to wait to get posted when I get home. Oh, and I got some sleep last night. It was awesome. I am tired, but I think it just might be all the fresh air I've been breathing since being here!

I've also been reading some too. That's been nice. I think when I get back home, I need to start slowing down a bit. I just realized that I have all my weekends booked between now and the weekend before Thanksgiving. I think that's too busy. On one hand, it's good because four of the weekends are busy because I'll be out of town on trips, but still! I need to free some time up to read and catch up on TiVo and Netflix stuff. So, I may need to make a fall resolution to stay less busy during the week or something.