Tuesday, February 28

Fernet is brown liquid magic in a green bottle

If you're wondering whether or not you've had Fernet-Branca, then you haven't had it. Trust me, you'd know.

The first time I tried Fernet was at Wild Ginger in Seattle, almost four years ago. Taer ordered way too much food, and I ate way too much as a result. It wasn't pretty.

Our waiter recommended this smelly brown digestif to fix my aching tummy, and as soon as I took my first sip, I immediately wanted to spit it out onto that waiter's face for forcing such an awful thing on me! Blech! It reminded me of this herbal Asian medicine called Han-Yak, a thing of stinky terror when I was child.

Fernet scared me as an adult.

Over a year ago, after an especially spicy Thai meal with Lee, she and I decided to hit the bar at Slanted Door. Once again, my stomach was not at its best. (By the way, I swear that I'm not a weak eater. I can normally consume just about anything!) So guess what happened? Yup, the bartender there also pushed Fernet, swearing I'd feel better.

Trying to be cool and not wanting to poop the party, I decided to give it a try. My initial reaction was one of regret, but I didn't want to get banned from SD forever for actually spitting in such a swanky spot, so I swallowed... and my tummy got all better! Really!

And now I love Fernet. I can honestly say that I genuinely enjoy it, ache or no ache. Every time we're out, I start my night with a shot, but I sip instead of shoot. And the "ginger back" (ginger ale chaser) is key. It's good and strangely comforting... brown magic in a bottle.

Beyond the tummy aches, it's supposedly good for hangovers. I'm sad when I travel and can't find it, and I've learned that Fernet is a San Francisco bartender favorite. When I ask for Fernet here, I'm asked, "Ginger back?" In a lot of other cities, bartenders have given me various quizzical looks.

There's more information in this great article in SF Weekly: The Myth of Fernet. It's a long read, so I'll pull a few quotes below:
  • As a bitter Italian aperitif of more than 40 herbs and spices, it most often gets compared to Campari and J├Ągermeister, though by measure of accuracy, it's equally similar to Robitussin or Pennzoil.
  • "It's an acquired taste first and foremost, like coffee or wine," says Hobson's Choice General Manager Chris Dickerson. "First time you have it is like, 'Argh! This is absolutely horrible.'
  • Precisely which wonderful things has been a closely guarded secret of the Branca family for generations, but it's known that the grape base is infused with aloe, myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, and a hearty offering of saffron, a key ingredient. By accounting for an estimated 75 percent of the world's saffron consumption, the Branca family essentially controls the market price of the spice -- which at about $900 a pound is easily among the most expensive edibles in the world.
  • The wonderful things rumored to be in the liqueur include codeine, mushrooms, fermented beets, coca leaf, gentian, rhubarb, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John's wort, sage, and peppermint oil.
  • When Prohibition laws were passed in the U.S. in 1919, the myth of Fernet-Branca was a salvation: Imported as a medicine, it was perhaps the only package liquor legally sold in the States. A year before the 18th Amendment was repealed, the demand for Fernet-Branca was so great that the Branca family, then in its fourth generation of ownership, opened an American distillery in New York City's Tribeca.
  • At San Francisco's R Bar, Tod Alsman and Chris Fogarty serve more Fernet-Branca than any other bar in North America. From its deep roots in the Italian-American community, the gospel of Fernet was spread by bartenders and servers to the customers in the city's foodie set. "We're an industry bar, and all the hotel and restaurant people come after work," explains Supple. "For a while we would keep Fernet for the old-timers, 'cause no one else drank it."
  • Italy's gift to the world.
    -- Fernet-Branca advertising slogan, 1850-present

Monday, February 27

Quesadillas for my Korean parents

The 'rents hosted a dinner party over the weekend, and my mom asked me to come home to help. The weird thing is, she wanted me to make quesadillas as appetizers for their friends. I guess quesadillas shouldn't seem all that odd, but Korean parents don't normally think of serving them, and it's not a dish which exactly goes with the rest of their Korean-themed meal. I figured it wasn't my menu, so I didn't question the decision and simply offered my services.

"What time should I come over?"

"Maybe around 6. And make yourself pretty."

I was wearing my comfy and not so pretty clothes, in my glasses, sans makeup. I hadn't planned on dolling up. "Really?"

"Yes, I want all my friends to say that my daughter's pretty."

When I was younger, my parents wanted their friends to praise my brother and me because of our good manners and scholastic achievements. They didn't let me wear makeup nor did they want me to waste my time and money on shopping back then. I was well behaved, and I went to the right schools, so I guess those ducks were all rowed up. My mom now had new goals in mind. "Ok, I'll put on some makeup and change first."

"Oh, and don't wear anything beh-kohp bo-yeen nun-gut."

"What?" I didn't understand why my mom thought she had to instruct me not to wear an outfit that would show my belly button. I don't wear half shirts, and even if I did, I wouldn't do it in front of my parents.

"Do you know what beh-kohp is? It's..."

"Yes, umma, I know. Of course I know. My naval. When do I wear things like that?"

"Well, you know, that's the fashion nowadays."

It is? Where the heck is my mom getting her fashion cues? Can someone please tell me if I've missed an issue of Vogue or InStyle that I don't know about? And can someone else please tell me if my mom is normal?

Saturday, February 25

I Yelp about food and wine and other divine delights

A friend mentioned that I should have my blog posts categorized. She was particularly interested in re-reading my musings on local restaurants. Well, I'm sorry to say that I don't know how to do that on Blogger/Blogspot, but I decided instead to re-post those thoughts on Yelp.

I even got a little nuts and wrote new ones. Because I'm passionate about food. And wine. And I'm very opinionated, and I love to write. So, there.

It's a great way to read about what other real people out there think. Someone already corrected me and let me know that I enjoy Parisian macarons, not macaroons, at Miette in the Ferry Building. Whatever they are, I sure do love 'em!

I'll keep a permanent http://jennipah.yelp.com link over there, on the right. (As if you don't get enough of me already.)

Did I mention that I really, really love food?

Thursday, February 23

RECIPES: Parmesan-Crusted Chicken over Arugula Salad, Mac and Cheese

I made these for dinner, and the meal was a hit, so I'm sharing:


• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
• Four 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
• 4 cups packed arugula leaves
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Preheat the oven to 475°. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of the mustard with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and the thyme. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then brush them all over with the mustard mixture. Pat 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan all over each breast. Transfer the chicken breasts to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the chicken on the top shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through and nicely browned.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon each of mustard and olive oil; stir in 1/2 teaspoon of water. Add the arugula and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Spoon the salad onto plates, top with the chicken and serve.

NOTES One serving 288 calories, 9.4 gm total fat, 3.1 gm saturated fat, 4 gm carb.


1 stick unsalted butter
6 slices good white bread, torn into ½” chunks
5 ½ cups of milk (you can use whole or 2%…don’t use nonfat)
½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated is better)
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 1/8 lb grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (white, yellow, or a mixture of both…I use white)
½ lb grated Gruyere (you can substitute with ½ cup Pecorino Romano, but Gruyere is way better)
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Heat oven to 375°. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.

2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk (you can also heat the milk in a large microwave-safe bowl). Make a roux by melting the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat and adding the flour when the butter begins to bubble, whisking for about a minute while the flour cooks.

3. Slowly pour in the hot milk while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

4. Remove pan from heat. Gradually stir 2/3’s of the cheddar cheese you grated, and 3/4's of the Gruyere cheese you grated. Add the salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, taste to see if you added enough, then set cheese sauce aside.

5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce

6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle all remaining cheddar and Gruyere cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes and serve hot.

This recipe serves 12, but you can easily halve it. If you want to have more of the browned cheese and breadcrumb topping, you can split this into two casserole dishes so there’s more surface area.

Wednesday, February 22

February is the least common month for birthdays

I wished five of my friends many happy returns over the past week. Ok, I didn't actually say, "Many happy returns." I actually called and sang "Happy Birthday" in my best Marilyn Monroe voice, or I sent the funniest e-card I could find.

Anyway, I feel like there's a definite date of birth trend. One "birthday season" happens now, and there's another wave in the fall. Even among my Craigslist-found roommates, two have birthdays in March, with us other two in September.

According to Hallmark, August is the top month for birthdays, which follows my theory. However, February is last, which ruins my highly scientific made-up-in-my-head study. Here are the rest of the rankings and percentages:
  1. August - 9.07%
  2. July - 8.80
  3. September - 8.62
  4. October - 8.60
  5. March - 8.51
  6. May 8.30
  7. January - 8.25
  8. June - 8.15
  9. April - 8.12
  10. December - 8.07
  11. November - 7.96
  12. February - 7.55

(I wonder how much it matters that February has the least number of days.) Supposedly, the most common birthday for Americans is October 5, about nine months after New Year's Eve. So maybe it all has to do with celebrating and keeping warm during the cold winter?

My birthday's in September..... and I'd really rather not think about my parents keeping each other warm in January. Ew. Sorry I brought that up. Ew!

This article talks about seasonal patterns being related to weather in a different way, that "warm weather may affect semen quality." So you boys better keep your "boys" cool. Yet another reason to get rid of tighty whiteys and Speedos. As if we needed one.

Tuesday, February 21

Pazzia has the best pizza

Not to sit around and just talk about food... but I'm going to sit around and just talk about food yet again.

I checked out Pazzia for the first time, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to find this hidden gem! I'm ashamed to say that I used to consider myself a San Francisco foodie. I must now hang my chowhound head in shame. Their pizza was the best thin-crust I've had in the city, and their pasta was also fantastic. Why hadn't I even heard of this spot before?

I can pretend to blame the somewhat random location; they're on 3rd St. between Folsom and Harrison. But I still should've known. Pazzia also isn't the cutest restaurant on earth, but it has its own charm. And the prices are very reasonable. Most dishes ran between $15-25.

All I know is that I must go back soon to make up for my gastronomic ignorance. It's worth it for the pizza alone.

Monday, February 20

Ten: A new (Korean-style) Japanese restaurant

I have had two yummy meals at Ten so far, a new Japanese restaurant in the Sunset. I can't seem to find any other information about it online, and I don't know the exact address. However, it's on Irving, between 6th and 7th (across the street from Hahn's Hibachi). You can't miss the red sign and hipster vibe in this less-than-hipster 'hood.

Along with the typical sushi and udon menu items, I also found Korean-inspired dishes, so I knew the place had to be Korean owned. Every once in a while, I'll come across a Korean-Chinese place or a Korean-Japanese place. If you see something like "ja jang myun" (black bean noodles) or "jam pong" (spicy seafood noodle soup) on the menu, you've probably found one of these Koreanish restaurants too.

At Ten - and by the way, Tina said the Chinese character actually said "Tien" - I noticed both "jam pong" and "hwe dub bap," which is what I ordered. Hwe dub bap is similar to chirashi, which is sashimi over sushi rice. Add a salad of greens, and mix in some red pepper paste/sauce, and you've got yourself some hwe dup bap!

T noticed that there was "deluxe chirashi," which was different from the regular chirashi. As she asked about that, she realized she could order one of her fave dishes from her days of living in L.A. She used to get different types of tobiko and other eggs over sushi rice, and she could never seem to find it outside of Koreatown in Los Angeles. Well, that's no longer the case - she had "al bap" at Ten; and this won't be her last order for sure.

If you appreciate beer or sake with your Japanese meal, try the soju at Ten. Soju is a Korean rice wine, and Ten offers different flavors. Both the strawberry and peach were yum!

It's only been a couple days, but I'm already craving more Ten. This is an appropriate name for a delicious Korean-Japanese restaurant. If I were a judge for some kind of restaurant Olympics, Ten would get... well, I'll let you guess.

Sunday, February 19

I'm in two PING golf commercials

I shot a commercial at my alma mater, U.C. Berkeley. Ever since The Look for Less - which, by the way will be airing on Sunday, March 12, 8:00 p.m. - I've been working with that same casting agency to find more gigs. (I was also in an industrial video which Intel is using internally, so I won't get to see the final product.)

These PING commercials are part of the Drive Across America campaign, which are being shown on ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, and the Golf Channel. Look for these new ones to start airing in about a month!

We started by filming in a classroom, and then we moved outside, pretending to be "protesting" with signs and everything. Then there was a golf demo, shooting into a net. The directors and producers asked who was a good golfer and then chose some of us extras to swing the club. I tried to get in there since I love to golf, but I ended up getting overlooked.

Anyway, I was chatting with the ping guy, the spokesperson who does custom fittings across the country. I was just asking about the new clubs, and he said he'd let me try them out, so I started hitting some balls after the shoot.

The director noticed because he came over to us and said, "She's got a great swing! Why didn't we use her earlier?" I told him that I tried to volunteer, but no one seemed to listen to me. So anyway, as everyone was getting ready to leave, one of the crew guys pulled me aside and quietly told me that they wanted to shoot me for another commercial in the afternoon. It's apparently pretty hard to find a female golfer with a pretty swing. Of course I said yes!

Then I ended up in Golden Gate Park. The morning was the "young, college" group, and I guess this must've been the "30-55" group. When the casting agency originally called me, they were flip flopping about which group to cast me in, but now I got to do both! By the afternoon, I was chatting it up with everyone, so they knew me by name.

When we were shooting, the crew would say, "Let's have the guy in blue swing first." And then they'd look for me, "Jenn, are you here?" It ended up being to my advantage to NOT hit in the morning after all because now I'm in TWO commercials instead of one... and I'm pretty sure my swing won't end up on the cutting room floor.

Then, toward the end of the shoot, the assistant director approached me to invite me to the crew's wrap party. Lee and I joined them at Swig that night, which is a great bar with a hip, laid back vibe.

In case you happen to catch the commercials, I'm wearing a camel-colored sweater with white stripes down the sleeves in the Cal one, and we're protestors. For the Golden Gate Park golf swing, I'm wearing a brown track jacket with light blue stripes down the sleeves, and we're just hitting balls into the open grass.

And now I want to get in front of the camera again! Everyone I've met at these things have agents and headshots and all this crazy professional stuff, but I don't have anything like that. It's just fun for me, but it's a little too fun maybe. Maybe I'll consider getting an agent too...

Friday, February 17

Someone from New York Magazine took a peek

I can tell who's looking at my blog.

Well, I can't tell exactly who's looking. I won't know if "John Disgusting Pervert Doe" is reading about my life, but both StatCounter and SiteMeter give me information like what's in the image below. I can usually see either ISPs or company names and specific cities. And I can tell which pages people are viewing.Someone from New York Magazine searched "New York Magazine" on Technorati, and they found yesterday's post. I guess it wasn't interesting enough for them to read any more of my blog. Darn! Maybe I should've been wittier or snarkier or more something-ier? I'm so close to finding fame! HA.

It's interesting to see, isn't it? Lee loves analyzing this information with me. I'm not trying to play big brother or anything, but I am intrigued and flattered to see that I have a decent number of daily readers, more than the handful of the friends who've told me they have me bookmarked. Who are the rest of you?

People have found me using some interesting searches in the past:
"Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely"
"Who's viewed me on Friendster"
"Chile trekking"
"Asian massage" - yuck! Don't even ask. It links to my post talking about yellow fever.

Anyway, yet another blog post about blogging. I'll get back to the usual stuff next time. Gotta love the fact that it's a Friday!

Thursday, February 16

This blogging blogger

Before blogging came along, a group of ten girlfriends from college (myself included) kept each other informed of the goings on in each other's lives by group emailing. We would diligently write weekend updates and share news and pictures via our group email. I still email with this group regularly and religiously, but every once in a while, it's easier for me to share my already-written story via blog. Among this group, I am the only blogger, and they occasionally make references to my blog in those group emails.

Outside of those girlfriends, I have other close friends. Every once in a while, I would get together with these friends to chat and catch up on each other's lives. Now by the time I get to these catch up sessions, many friends often know all about my life via this blog, so I don't actually have a whole lot of updating to do. It's odd. But that's why I chose to blog. I wanted my friends to be able to stay updated on what's new.

Now I have new friends and even some people I've never met who read my blog on a regular basis. I'm not sure that I have the most interesting life, necessarily. But I do like writing about food and shopping finds, which I think people like. And I've been told people have chuckled at a post or video. Every once in a while, they're even touched by something I've written. Any photos I have with celebrities get a ton of hits. I'm happy to be a source of entertainment for anyone who wants to read.

I didn't really think about the fact that blogging could be lucrative, but since I started writing my blog, I began to read about all these other blogs who were making a living out of blogging. Dear cc just sent me this article in New York Magazine, Blogs to Riches. I don't plan on trying to turn this into a money-making thing, and to be quite frank, I don't think I could.* But the whole blogging phenomenon is interesting.

It's funny, isn't it? I'm at a point where I feel compelled to write something on a daily basis, whether I feel like I have something to write about or not. It's the strangest thing. I know I won't exactly let anyone down, but I feel the need to blog. And that's probably why I've written this post, where I've simply blogged about blogging.

*If there is anyone out there who would like to pay me to blog/write, I'm not opposed to the idea!

Tuesday, February 14

Long-distance Valentine

This is my fourth year with Taer as the beloved Valentine of my life. This is also my fourth Valentine's Day with Taer many miles and time zones away. Sigh. I try not to make a big deal of being together on specific dates, especially when we have to accommodate our schedules to friends' weddings and things like that.

So we're not making googly eyes at each other tonight over a candlelit dinner, with me bullying Taer into getting in touch with his sensitive, soft side as he tells me how much he loves me. Instead, I'm reading about the History of Valentine's Day and watching "A Charlie Brown Valentine."

I hope Charlie wins the heart of his little, red-haired girl one day. Everyone should find and be with a little, red-haired girl of their very own.

I found mine.

Except he's not so little. Nor is he red-haired... or a girl. But you know what I mean. The way I feel about Taer is the way Charlie Brown talks about his little, red-haired girl. Smitten. And that's the way it should be.

Happy Valentine's Day, my loves!

Monday, February 13

Mints and lip balm

Two things I ALWAYS try to keep on hand are mints and lip balm. I usually carry a huge bag, so I can almost always produce all kinds of other random items as well. I'm no Mary Poppins, but if you're in need of hand cream or an eyelash curler or a Sudoku puzzle, I'm your woman!

However, if I'm changing bags and downsizing, I may not be able to help with cuticle moisturization anymore. But I'll still keep those mints and lip balm with me. After all, a girl should never have halitosis or cracked lips!

Now I can moisturize my kisser and freshen my breath at the same time with C.O. Bigelow's Mentha Lip Shine. OMG I sound like a friggin commercial.

I had two girlfriends tell me about this great find recently, and I just picked up a tube at Bath & Body Works today. They're having a $5 lip event, which I think ends Wednesday. They even have an ULTRA version now, with even more mint than the original. It's a bit thicker also, which I like. I bought that one too. Of course.

Even though I sound like an ad (or an "advert," as my British friend would say), I'm only blogging about this because I'm lovin it. And I hope you'll love it too.

Asian parents love copper bracelets

I bought my parents these bracelets when I was in Chile. I think it's mostly as Asian thing, but parents are totally into the "healing properties" of copper. My dad's is plain, but my mom's is a pretty, green blue bangle. She happily reported that her friend thought it was an Hermes piece.

The funny thing is, if I really did buy her an Hermes, she wouldn't wear it. My mom loves to "ek kyuh suh," which means that she will save things rather than use them, especially if they're expensive. Like most immigrants, she hasn't always seen easy times, so she's feels like she should be prepared for the worst, just in case. I understand and respect her thinking, but it can get a little silly.

When I moved out of my parents' place, I raided the storage area behind our garage for supplies. I snagged a ton of pots and pans, a toaster oven, rice cooker, blender and much, much more. She had TWO brand spankin' new blenders back there, and I swear they must've been from my parents' own wedding!

See the eyeglass holder thing my mom's wearing? I got that for my mom when the girls took a trip to Puerto Vallarta. Some kid who ran up to me on the beach was selling them, so I bought one because I was at a loss for what to buy. To my surprise, my mom LOVED it, and she even went searching for another one when she went to Mexico. When I traveled to Italy six years ago, I bought nice wallets for both my parents and my brother. My mom still has hers all wrapped up and tucked away somewhere. She won't use it even though her own wallet is starting to fall apart.

My dad does not ek kyuh suh. He used his wallet the moment I gave it to him.

I am more like my dad. Much more. When I buy something new, I often want to walk out of the store wearing it... and every once in a while I'll actually do it. My friends make fun of me for it, but I don't care.

I believe in saving too, don't get me wrong. But I also believe in living.

Friday, February 10

If you want to go to Chile

A lot of people have been asking me about planning specifics regarding Chile. First of all, I have to put out a huge thanks to the G-man for doing the research and putting in the leg work for our vacation. I didn't do a darn thing before we left beyond saying, "Yeah, that sounds good." Thanks, G!

That being said, here's a list of recommendations, information I wish I knew for our trip, and other random things:

  • We weren't originally planning on heading to the Lake District, but I'm so glad we went! This is where we rappelled down waterfalls and hiked up the live Volcano Villarrica. I would definitely recommend both these activities, which we booked through Sol y Nieve in Pucon. You don't have to book anything in advance; you can just find them once you get to town and make arrangements on the spot.
  • Waterfall rappelling is called "canyoning." If you speak Spanish, you can read more about it here.
  • If you do decide to go canyoning (which is highly recommended since all of us counted this as one of our favorite days), just wear a bathing suit under your clothes; they will provide the wet suits. You should probably also wear sneakers, possibly with socks. Not only will your shoes get wet from the waterfalls, you will also find yourself standing in and wading through ankle-deep water. Cold water. I mean CoOold! My feet weren't too bad because I wore my hiking boots with socks. Though I stayed relatively warm, I wouldn't recommend wearing hiking boots if you care at all about using them after this activity. However, if the only other option you brought is a pair of flip flops, then I guess you have no choice.
  • If your hiking boots somehow get soaked, because of canyoning or some other crazy adventure, DO NOT TRY TO DRY THEM QUICKLY BY PLACING THEM IN DIRECT SUN. Also, DO NOT CONTINUE THE FAST-DRYING IN THE REAR WINDOW OF YOUR HOT RENTAL CAR. Experienced hikers are shaking their heads and clicking their tongues as they're reading this. Novices, like me, won't think about the fact that when leather is dried in a rush, it'll shrink. Boots will no longer fit. Sometimes the leather will tear itself away from the rubber sole, and the shoe will end up a complete mess. And then when you read the shoe instructions later, you'll realize you made a common beginner's mistake. Oops.
  • If you hike the Volcano Villarrica, bring food and water! It's a four-hour trek up, and you will get hungry. Going down is much easier. You get to sit and slide down on your arse. Fun! They'll provide waterproof pants; just check for holes. Both big T and lil t ended up carrying hunks o snow in their pants like diapers.
  • We stayed at the Landhaus San Sebastian in Pucon. It's not exactly near the center of town, but it's a quaint bed and breakfast for only $60/night. It's run by an adorable family, and their restaurant serves great German meals. You will probably want to rent a car to get around. Visit the hot springs nearby.
  • For the Patagonia part of our trip, we used Antares. They organized our hostels, and food was also provided. Unlike the volcano hike, you will not need to bring any additional snacks. Each day will include three huge meals.
  • The Antares site has a good list of useful tips. You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, all in a matter of hours. A typical day started off a tad chilly. We quickly got hot as we started our trek, so the fleece jackets and vests would eventually come off. Then it would start raining, so we had to dig up our waterproof shells and pants. Most lookout points were pretty high up, so they were often very cold. That's when we would swap our hats for wool beanies, and we even put on our fleece gloves. Oh, and sunblock and lip balm are a must. I'm usually obsessive about sunblock; and with the ozone problems here, we were appling SPF 45 and even 70+! Very necessary.
  • Breaking in those hiking boots is a good idea because the path isn't easy. You'll find yourself practically rock climbing at certain times. One day we trekked 16 miles in 9 hours. If you end up needing to buy new boots just before your hike - ahem - then bring sports tape and moleskin donuts for the blisters which will probably form. If you are a woman who is still suffering from said blisters a week after returning home, wear mules to work.
  • Our trip to Chile was even more amazing than I imagined. The hikes were hard, but they were definitely doable. (I might spend a little more time on the stairmaster if I go again.) Everyone should visit at some point. Feel free to ping me with questions.
  • Oh, and drink carmenere! It's a fabulous, easy to drink Chilean red wine. But before you try to lug back a whole case, do your research first. This Casillero Del Diablo, a good budget find, is available in the States. Your boyfriend might not be so happy to hear that he carried all those heavy bottles through the international terminals of various airports for nothing. Whoops.

Thursday, February 9

Adam Carolla is racist

I finally got through all my email, and I found something that needs attention. I can take a joke and am not easily offended, but this just isn't funny. It's wrong. Here's my "forward." I'm writing, and I hope you do too. [Thanks, Margie!]:

This is a clip of Adam Carolla on his CBS radio show talking about the Asian Excellence Awards. It clearly is offensive, stupid, demeaning and not very funny at all. Please send this to your friends.

and if the link is blocked for you, then you can download the clip here: http://www.vmsdigital.com/MyFiles.aspx?Onum=77A08542-63B2-4878-9039-349B6F898CCA

or here: http://www.angryasianman.com/other/adamcarolla2005-01-24.mp3

Here is a rough transcript of the radio show:
....also we were talking earlier today, non-sports related...competition nontheless. They handed out a few days ago the Asian Excellence Awards. I know it sounds like a joke but it's real. They handed out for movies, acting, and television. That was Sunday night. Right. Now play anotherclip. It was a pretty exciting moment in the broadcast. Actually it isn't going to be broadcast until this weekend, but I have some tape on it. But play best male actor in a TV show. For the next 45 seconds, all you hear is "Ching chong, ching chong, ching chong." It is done without accent and I believe it is done in male and female voices.

Please write a letter to Rob Barnett, the President of Programming if you do care about this. It's unacceptable that this racist/ignorant crap is on national radio, under CBS no less. If you're not going to do anything, that's fine... but please forward it to any friends that you think would do something.

CBS Radio
Attn: Rob Barnett
1515 Broadway, 46th Floor
New York, NY 10036

I tried a bunch of different email combinations, and I think I figured it out: rob.barnett@cbsradio.com (this one didn't bounce back).

I've written to Rob Barnett several times with no response, so I'm guessing that those of you who have written haven't gotten a response either. Brian just sent out some new information on who to send your letters to...please forward your original letters to the contacts below and check out this link ( http://www.manaa.org/) when you have a second.

Joel Hollander
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Radio
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Dana L. McClintock
Senior Vice President, CBS Communications Group
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Thanks for caring...

Tuesday, February 7

My TiVo didn't catch all of Grey's Anatomy

So I found it online. In case anyone else had this problem, I'm sharing here:
Grey's Anatomy 2/05/06 Episode: "It's the End of the World"

My doctor friends seem to be bothered by all the little things that aren't quite right about the show, but I don't care. It's good tv; and this is a really good one! This particular episode has girl on girl action (sort of), big time danger, sex, and a celebrity guest star. What more could you want?

Videos: Waterfall Rappelling and A Live Volcano

Click on each image to play the videos:

Rappelling down a waterfall
Standing at the mouth of a live volcano

Monday, February 6

Touring Chile: Santiago, Pucon, and Patagonia

I'm finally back from my most fabulous Chilean vacation! I'll post all about it later. (Uh, after I get through the gazillion emails and mountains of snail mail and stuff like that.) In the meantime, you can check out some of the pics here. Be warned, there are 103 photos... and this is the edited version!