Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.


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Aloha Monday! Also, more chocolate

I feel the need to give a shoutout  to the Matrix/Terminator/Tron/whatever other “computers are running the world” movies out there. My workday got cut short since a transformer or something blew overnight, knocking out the computer networks and phone lines for the entire base. It’s sad that without our computers there was literally nothing we could work on. Nothing at all! The only thing my coworkers and I could do was sit around talking about the Olympic hockey games and flipping out over the thousands of emails that would surely be waiting for us when we came back online. My big accomplishment for the day? Finishing most of the crossword puzzle in this week’s Navy Times. I know people talk about our dependency on computers and that it’s nothing new (see: every five year old carrying around an iPad nowadays) but it’s still crazy seeing it happen. Oh well, at least we got to go home early. Aloha Monday!

Damn you computer! Now I have to go outside in the sun and be social in person!

NO!! Now I have to go outside in the fresh air and TALK to people!

And now for something completely different – this past weekend was the Hawaii Chocolate Festival, meaning I get to keep with the theme of cookies and other goodies that I wrote about last time. I was expecting something not-so-fancy, and went into the Dole Cannery shops thinking “eh, it’s Hawaii, they’ve probably got like two tables set up where they’re giving out pieces of organic chocolate bars.” I was proven wrong by the presence of hula dancers, live music, and rather creative treats that went well beyond bits of plain chocolate (although they had those, too.) Well played, Hawaii.

Tiki's had chocolate-filled spring rolls, complete with ice cream on the side! And here I thought they were only a drinking establishment.

Tiki’s had chocolate-filled spring rolls, complete with ice cream on the side! And here I thought they were only a drinking establishment.

Bacon really DOES make everything better!

Bacon really DOES make everything better!

One of the vendors there was Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, which prides itself on using Hawaii-grown cacao and making the chocolate right there in the shop. And they should be proud, because the end product is quite amazing. I’m a bit of a dark chocolate snob and will stock up on Valrhona bars whenever I go back to the mainland. Now, however, I think I’ve found a place to go if my supply runs out between trips. If you ever find yourself on the windward side of Oahu, I highly recommend stopping by to check them out! Their store is in Kailua, on the second floor of Kailua Square (right above Cinnamon’s, the island-famous restaurant with the awesome red velvet and guava chiffon pancakes.) Also check out the cacao festival in Kailua this weekend!

Chocolate made right in the islands. Oh so delicious.

Chocolate made right in the islands. Oh so delicious.

Finally, I suppose it wouldn’t be a true chocolate festival without something completely weird. When the guy selling this has to continuously run out and tell people “don’t eat it! It’s for your face!” something might be off.

Are you SURE that isn't a jar of nutella?

Are you SURE that isn’t a jar of nutella?

Then again, a chocolate facial could be really good for the pores. Who knows?

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Sugar, spice, and everything nice (okay, chocolate)

It’s Valentine’s Day Eve and I have nothing to give to my valentine, so I’m going to write about chocolate instead.

<3

One of my favorite pastimes is going to the Honolulu Cookie Company and Big Island Candies stores and eating all the samples. Oh, I buy stuff every now and then, so it’s not like I’m not being a complete mooch. But it’s hard not to walk past a cookie store that gives out samples of almost everything they sell and NOT want to go in. It would be rude to refuse them, right?

Stop tempting me with your delicious chocolate!

Stop tempting me with your delicious chocolate!

But in all seriousness, I actually do buy stuff from both of those stores because their gift boxes are perfect to bring to my friends and family whenever I go back to the mainland. Whoever said “you can’t buy love” obviously wasn’t using the correct currency, because everyone loves food, and they will love you for giving it to them. For all you chocoholics, Big Island Candies has these brownie cookies that are pretty much the greatest thing since s’mores were invented. AND in honor of V-day, they currently have limited edition red velvet brownie cookies! I’m seriously considering buying a box to send back home. (Yeah right. If I bought them I’d totally eat them all.)

Why yes, I would like ALL the cookies

Why yes, I would like ALL the cookies

Big Island sells shortbread cookies, but they’re not quite as good as the Honolulu Cookie Company’s. They have chocolate-dipped cookies as well as fruity island flavors like pineapple and lilikoi that are always a huge hit with my family, especially my youngest brother who’s weird and hates chocolate. If you’re craving a taste of the islands or just want some delicious brownie or shortbread cookies for yourself, both of those stores ship to the mainland as well as internationally.

And with that, I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday and the ongoing Winter Olympics, I leave you with a video of Russian figure skating champion Evgeny Plushenko skating to “Sex Bomb.” You’re welcome.


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In For the Drama! The Sochi Olympics, Day 1-ish

Yes! The Olympics are back! And with them come the answers to questions we were all wondering about, such as what the Norwegian curling team will be wearing.

Don't act like you're not impressed

Don’t act like you’re not impressed

Ah yes, the ridiculous costumes, the drama, the cheesy spotlight pieces by NBC, the inspirational Visa commercials narrated by Morgan Freeman… I love it all and will pretty much watch whatever they show. For instance, even though I’m convinced that all these new extreme skiing and snowboarding events are being added solely so that the US can win more medals, I was glued to the TV anyway. (Okay, I confess: I watched them partly because I was just waiting for figure skating to come back on.) By the way, how much does it suck to crash and get injured before the games even officially begin? Poor Heidi Kloser. Anyway, I’m glad the Olympics are back, and that I actually have the chance to really watch them for the first time in years. Even with all the trouble going on over in Sochi, it’s really about the athletes and I’m eager to watch them do their best. (And I really hope the LGBT athletes kick ass a la Jesse Owens in 1936, silencing the critics and making Putin go home and cry his bigoted heart to sleep. Ha!)

To make this somewhat Hawaii-related: one of the local news stories that came on after the opening ceremonies was about crossfit. Specifically “the new craze that’s sweeping Hawaii and the nation!” You’ve got to be kidding me. I know Hawaii is behind in just about everything, but really? Where on earth have you been for the last five or seven years?! (I can’t remember exactly when crossfit became the mantra of gym rats who look down on those of us who “only” run/swim/bike/play sports/do other activities that don’t involve kettlebells.) I feel like crossfit has been around forever.

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But back to the Olympics. It’s too bad that all the commentators are focused on the ring that didn’t open, because I thought the opening ceremony was quite beautiful, especially the history part. (Another confession: I was really into pre-Soviet Russian history back in the day, read Tolstoy and Pushkin as a teenager, and picked my college based in part on its Russian program. One of the novels I hope to publish someday is even set in St. Petersburg right before the revolution. I could have watched the War and Peace ballet all night.) Plus, you have to admit Russia has a pretty bad ass national anthem. It gives me a sudden urge to watch “The Hunt for Red October.”

Captain Ramius approves

Captain Ramius gives his seal of approval.


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World Class Stargazing!

Dude! It’s snowing in Hawaii!

And you thought you were coming here for the warm weather!

And you thought you were coming here for the warm weather!

Granted this happens just about every winter, but it still blows my mind. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the Big Island’s two tallest volcanoes at about 13,700 and 13,600 feet respectively, will get a few inches of snow at the summit each year (as does 10,000 foot tall Haleakala on Maui on occasion.) This winter, in keeping with the strange weather patterns seen in the rest of the country, seems to have brought more snow than usual. Bring on the skiing!

Gonna go get a tan on the beach after this, nbd

Gonna go get a tan on the beach after this, nbd

I have yet to try this, but from what I’ve heard the skiing and snowboarding isn’t all that great as the conditions are icy and rough, and you have to watch out for exposed rocks. Also, since there’s no ski lift you’re on your own getting up the mountain. This is no Colorado, for sure. But then, nobody comes to Hawaii for the skiing; it’s all about the novelty of being able to say that you skied on a tropical island, and then drove back down to the beach to thaw out afterwards.  Anyway, for more pictures check out Hawaii News Now.

Since we’re on the topic of mountains on the Big Island, I’m going to take this opportunity to put in a plug for the Mauna Kea observatories, a must-see for any astronomy enthusiasts. Because of the stable airflow, dry environment, and lack of light pollution, scientists have come from all over the world to set up shop here as evidenced by the twelve giant telescopes on the mountain’s summit. These aren’t normally open to the public, although you’re welcome to drive up there to check them out. The view from the top is amazing! Just make sure you’ve got plenty of gas, and preferably four-wheel drive since the roads past the visitor’s center aren’t paved. (You might be able to make it without 4WD, but be cautious since most car rental agreements don’t allow you to drive to the summit. I’ve seen people get stuck on that road, so drive carefully.)  Oh, and if you completely lose your marbles and decide to hike up (seriously?!) try not to end up like this guy. I’m glad he’s okay, because how embarrassing would it be to bite it during a snowstorm in freaking Hawaii?

Standing on top of the world

Standing on top of the mountain

View from the top of the mountain - orange jumpsuits keep your warmer, or something

Orange jumpsuits keep you warmer, or something

For some serious stargazing, check out the Visitor Information Station. Every night after sundown they’ll bring out their heavy-duty telescopes and set them up to look at planets and stars. They even have special filters that allow you to see nebulas, which is really really cool. There’s also a “star tour” where a guide will point out various constellations. I’m a big old space nerd so I’ve been here twice, and loved it each time. It does get very cold, so even though they have coffee and hot chocolate for sale you should dress in something warmer than shorts and a T-shirt, even in the summer. (The last time I went was in April, and I was freezing despite wearing my winter coat.) And the best part? It’s free!

The w hole universe at your fingertips

The whole universe at your fingertips

If you only have time for a few activities while on the Big Island, I highly recommend that you make this one of them. Stargazing on Mauna Kea is hands down one of the best things I’ve done in Hawaii. It feels like you’re looking at the entire universe – absolutely incredible.

Not my picture, it's from Hawaii Luxury News. If I could take pictures like this, I'd be famous or something.

Not my picture, it’s from Hawaii Luxury News. If I could take pictures like this, I’d be famous or something.

So, the Olympics are starting… tomorrow? Friday? I’ve heard the opening ceremonies are on the 7th but they’re showing some of the events starting tomorrow, or something like that. Sounds a bit unorganized kind of like the hotel situation in Sochi (potable water? Nah, but here’s your complimentary picture of Putin!) but either way I’m stoked. Let the games begin!


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Time Traveling

I really wish there was a better way to handle the time difference between Hawaii and the mainland.

Where am I?!

Where am I?!

Yesterday’s post-game festivities (congrats Seahawks!!) made me think about this. We are either five or six hours behind the US east coast, depending on the time of year, which can sometimes be problematic for television viewing. Usually programming is delayed so that we can watch it at a reasonable time, but for live events you obviously have to deal with the time shift. This isn’t so much a complaint as an “it is what it is” statement, but it does make for some humorous scenarios where you’re hammered with your friends at 1:30 in the afternoon because that’s what time the Super Bowl starts. (In our case, the drinking actually commenced at 11am when we arrived at Yardhouse to claim a good table, and then continued until well into the evening after the Hawks won the Lombardi trophy. Needless to say, I’m not feeling so chipper this morning. If ever one needed a reminder that they are NOT 21 with an invincible liver anymore… ugh.)

cat monday

The time difference also makes phone calls fun. Thankfully my mother was never one who called in the middle of the night because she added instead of subtracted hours. However, with my fiancé now living on the east coast, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our evening phone calls. It’s tough during the week since there’s only about an hour-long window where we’re both available to talk: after I come home from work, but before he goes to bed. At least I’m now working a normal Monday-Friday schedule, so it’s not that bad. A while back I was doing shift work with a four days on/four days off schedule, so my free days would often fall in the middle of the week. This would sometimes result in awkward phone conversations in the middle of the night:

Me: “Heyyyyy, I’m out at the bar! I miss you!”
Him: “You’re what? What time is it?”
Me: “I don’t know, 2? It’s awesome, I’m dancing my face off, wish you were here!”
Him: “Uh, that great. It’s Wednesday morning and I’m about to go into a meeting. We’ll talk later, if you’re still alive.”
Me: “Of course I’m alive! I’m drinking red bull and vodka, I’ve got soooo much energy! I should go run a marathon or something. Hey, let’s do push-ups!”
Him: “… okay. I’m going to go to work now.”

I’m fully anticipating a drunken phone call one afternoon, while he’s at happy hour and I’m still slaving away at work, as payback.

#BowDown

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One last Seahawks picture: fellow UW Husky Jermaine Kearse. 🙂


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Game Day!

First, I’d like to thank a couple of fellow bloggers for the friendly shout-outs last month, Marla and Dawn.  You ladies rock!  I encourage everyone to check out their blogs: Marla’s Musings is a great resource with advice and pointers for aspiring young professionals, and Life’s little mercies has a lot of lovely pictures, poetry, and inspirational writings about the good things in life – basically, the kind of blog I want to read after sitting in Honolulu traffic all afternoon. Thank you again! 🙂

Second, I have an update from my last post about places in Hawaii to get beer. A friend of mine checked out the Liquor Collection, the store that sells the various kinds of bottled beer, and he had this to say: “Yeah sure, they have a lot of beer. But it’s marked way, way up! You’d be better off going to Whole Foods to get some of this stuff.” So that’s that. Which is too bad, because the location of the Liquor Collection is awfully convenient, especially for visitors staying in Waikiki. Getting to Whole Foods, on the other hand, requires a car or a plane: the only three stores in Hawaii are located on the east end on Honolulu, Kailua on the windward side, and Maui.

Last but not least… it’s Super Bowl Sunday!

Yeah baby!  (Photo credit: Amanda Patterson on Pinterest)

Go Seahawks! (Photo from Pinterest)

Pro football isn’t normally my thing (my football devotion is usually saved for my beloved Washington Huskies) but as someone who had spent my childhood in Seattle and had been watching the Seahawks lose since I was about four, I just love that they’ve made it into the big game. It’s like seeing your underdog friend, who despite all his bad luck you’ve been rooting for for as long as you can remember, finally make it. Yes, I know they played in the 2006 Super Bowl, but for some reason I’m more excited this time around. I also know it’s going to be a pretty tough game (Peyton…) but I know they’ll do all the 12s proud. Plus, they do a lot for the community, which I think is a huge part of why the city loves them so much. Can you imagine going to Starbucks for your morning latte and having Pete Carroll make it for you? This fan letter to Derrick Coleman, the league’s first deaf player, has been making the internet rounds and will cheer up anyone’s day. And Richard Sherman, screaming interviews with Erin Andrews aside, has done a ton of great charity work. (scroll down to #17, 20, and 22)

Okay, I lied. I guess I’ve become a bit of a Seahawks fan girl after all.  Go Hawks!!  I’ll be cheering for you from Waikiki!

Started following my first "celebrity" on twitter: @BlitzTheSeahawk

Started following my first “celebrity” on twitter: @BlitzTheSeahawk

Of course the Hulk would be a Seahawks fan!

Of course the Hulk would be a Seahawks fan