Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

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


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Happy Olympics Day!

I’ve written before about how much I love the Olympics, though I have to admit it’s a little harder to get excited this time around thanks to the doping scandals, deadly viruses, and well, everything else going on in Brazil. That being said, the long-awaited event is finally here, the Opening Ceremony is tonight, and the athletes who have been training their whole lives for the Olympics (well, the ones who decided to risk infection) are going to show the world what they’re made of. Come on, who can’t get excited about that?

aussie speed skating

Gold medals won by feats of strength, or by pure chance… eh, who cares. Get it, Australia!

Thanks to a brief interlude between the end of my summer internship and the first day of school, this is the first time in many years that I’ll actually have time to watch the Olympics for more than a passing moment, so I’m extra excited. The only thing is, my roommate and I don’t have cable so I was anticipating spending a lot of time at the sports bar down the street to get Olympics my fix. Not like that’s a bad thing, but sometimes I just want to watch the morning’s volleyball match in my pajamas with a cup of coffee, you know?

olympics water polo

Or water polo. Everyone loves water polo in HD.

However, something I just discovered yesterday is that NBC is offering free streaming of the games to U.S. military members and their families. Great news for people like me who are too cheap for cable!
too cheap for cable

If you’re affiliated with the military, all you have to do is go to the military exchange’s website and create an account, then go to the NBC Olympics site and choose “Exchange” as your provider. Voila! Now you can watch the games from the comfort of your home, and shop for ugly clothes and Motrin the cure-all drug (which, according to your corpsman, can treat everything from back pain to amputations.)

motrin military

You might be a veteran if…

I also heard that the Olympics will be streamed on YouTube via a bunch of internet stars, including a guy who got famous by playing frisbee. (Clearly I’ve been doing this whole “being an adult” thing all wrong.) Either way, there should be plenty of ways to watch all the events, so let the games begin!

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And let’s hope that they turn out better than everyone is expecting them to.


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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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Angry Dudes in Orange Spandex

I had a blog post all written and ready to go, but since my latest rant was weather-related I figured it would be in bad taste to publish it right now, considering what’s happening on the east coast at the moment.  No problem, it can wait until Snowpocalypse 2014 Part II eases up.  Stay safe and warm, everyone.

Anyway, getting back to work after a 10-day vacation on the mainland sucks and I’ll be spending the next week catching up on the zero-to-hero tasks, among other things.  I feel compelled to write something since it’s been over a week since my last post, even though writer’s block has struck me at the moment and I can’t think of anything else Hawaii-related to talk about.  I’m not even in that much of a whiny mood, really, having just coming off of leave.  I’m still reveling in the experiences of driving on wide open roads and having nice grocery stores to shop in.  (Man, I miss Publix.)  So for now I’ll just share a hilarious article I found earlier today when I was on the computer looking busy at work.  Okay, the article itself isn’t funny, but the pictures accompanying it are comedy gold.

Oh no you DI-IN'T!!

Oh no you DI-IN’T!!

(Why, oh why, is he so angry? Read the full story here!) Ice drama is the best , isn’t it?  I do love winter sports even the ridiculous ones, and so I’m anxiously waiting for the Winter Olympics to start. Only 18 days!