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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: January 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Look out Daegu, it seems like we might actually be on our way!

We finished our amazing winter road-trip at about 3am on January 26th, 2011. We relaxed for about one day. Then we piled into the car with all of the pertinent documents and headed to the Korean Consulate in Houston. We signed contracts, handed them in, and we're just waiting for our passports to come back with our E-2 Visas stamped in. This **** just got real, as babehoney would say. We're really excited to be heading to Daegu, and all we hope is that we can get cars sold and off to Korea without any problems now. It really seems like it's happening, and so much has happened since we started the process way back in September. I can't wait to post a blog FROM Korea.

Also I filed my taxes, soon I'll have enough money to survive the next month or so in Korea and pick up a couple of iPod touches :).

We're trying to sell babehoney's car, if you want a 2007 Jeep Compass give us a call :).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tennessee, the land of the windy, barfy roads.

So we've spent the past couple of days at Babehoney's dad's place in Smithville, Tennessee. It's a great house nestled against the side of a hill, and we've done some pretty interesting stuff during our stay.

We got here pretty late after driving about 9 hours from Lafayette, Indiana through some pretty hairy weather. When we got here we had dinner and crashed pretty fast. The next day we woke up pretty late, had lunch, and started doing some laundry. Then we headed to Nashville to see the Saturday night broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. Now, I don't really care too much for country music but I really wanted to do this because I remember watching the Grand Ole Opry with granny way back when, on TNN. It was kinda neat to go sit in the grand ole opry and watch all of these fairly familiar faces talk and make the same jokes they've been making for something like 85 years live.

Yesterday we headed over to Falls River Falls to see some waterfalls. Some of the falls were really breathtaking since they were falling into what amounts to an ice pit at the bottom. We had plenty of nice weather to hike around a bit, but the drive along the winding roads really made me want to barf. We had dinner at an Outback Steakhouse, and I enjoyed myself the mustardy cheesy mushroomy goodness that is Alice Springs Chicken. Oh yeah, it has bacon too.

Today we hung out around the house. Babehoney's dad is a potter, so we went out to his workshop and went to town on some clay. I destroyed two of my attempts, but managed to make what appeared to be a sake bottle out of one. I didn't intend it to be a sake bottle by any means. Babehoney managed to make a couple of nice bowls.

We're driving back to Tejas tomorrow morning, and soon after we're headed to Daegu, South Korea.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Epic Road Trip Continues

After my last post we spent another few days in New York. We visited the Natural History Museum, and the MoMA, walked all over Manhattan, and ate a bunch of really nice meals. I would go through and add pictures to make my points a bit more clear, but the internet connection in the hotel I'm stuck in tonight is way too slow for that. I was really impressed with New York, but I'm not sure I could "make it" there. I can't imagine making enough money to be comfortable there and enjoy the amenities that a city like New York has to offer. It's an amazing, frenetic place and I'd like to go back and visit one day with a bit more coin in my pocket.

After our stay in the city we hopped back onto the Amtrak and had an enjoyable ride back to Buffalo. I could tell that it was colder in Buffalo than in New York, and the amount of snowfall that I saw on the ride from Buffalo back to Cuba was pretty astounding. We spent the next day with Babehoney's mom and then headed to Chicago to see my best friends from my time in Hawaii (code names, "BigSexy", "Mrs. Sexy", or alternatively "The Sexies." I was really excited to get to see them, and I can't believe it had been two entire years since BigSexy dropped me off at Kona-Keahole airport.

I'm a really lucky guy to have met the sexies in Hawaii, because I've found it pretty rare that I meet people who I know are just plain good folks right away. It's even rarer that those people stay in touch. When they moved back to the mainland I was already scheming for a way to go visit them, but the sudden unemployment situation and the move to Korea made it something that had to be squeezed in. I'm real lucky that babehoney was into the idea of driving over to Chicago to spend a couple of days with them.

When we got to casa de sexy it was awesome. My buddy and I picked up right where we left off, and he started in with Chicago food right away. Our first meal was a pizza from Lou Manalti's. It was amazing. I hadn't ever had a Chicago style pizza IN CHICAGO before, and I was not at all disappointed. The next morning we headed into the city and checked out the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. I liked Chicago's train system, but it seems to be way more geared towards getting people into and out of the city as a commuter rail than a way to get around the city. I could be wrong about that. The dinosaur gallery at the Field Museum was great, and the Aquarium was big and fun. As we exited I got a couple cool skyline photos. We had dinner in Greek town which was awesome. I finally heard real Greeks say "Opah" so I guess it counts as a cultural experience. Our second day in Chicago found us at the top of the Sears Willis Tower (The Big Willy) which was at once exhilarating and terrifying. I snapped lots of photos though. After our trip into the clouds we headed down to the Art Institute and saw some great art, walked around Millennium Park, and headed to Caro Mio for an Italian meal. The meal was amazing. Everything I tasted was the best I've ever had of those particular items. After dinner we returned to casa de sexy and tore into a bottle of Jaegermeister. Fun was had by all.

This morning we got off to a little bit of a rough start. You might imagine that the Jaegermeister had something to do with it. You would be right. We left Chicago and headed east into Indiana where we picked up Interstate 65 south. The roads became very icy and we decided to pull off the highway in Lafayette and get a hotel room. It was a good decision, as they closed the highway in Indianapolis, there's apparently a big winter storm fizzling out tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

I'm really happy that I've gotten to see two of my favorite people in the world on this trip with the one I love, and I've enjoyed the hell out of visiting a couple of the biggest cities in the country and taking tons of pictures. It's amazing how much fun you can have without spending any money, and meals, well, we would have bought them anyway, right?

Now for the Korea update, I talked to our recruiter this morning and he said he was mailing our contracts to us today. We should beat them home or at least get there very soon after they arrive. Soon we will know where we're going. It's getting exciting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Days in Liberty City...I mean...New York

Amazingly, I've never been to New York before. In the two days since we've been here I've come to appreciate just HOW WELL the Rockstar video game crew did at making Liberty City look JUST LIKE New York. That's not the important part of this post, it's just what I consider to be a geek-chic title. That said, it does kinda seem like I've been here before.

Here's the run down of the past couple of days.

Sunday night we arrived late, our Amtrak train's engine caught on fire and we arrived no less than four hours behind schedule. We had a bite to eat and crashed really fast. We woke up late Monday morning, got dressed, and headed into the city. We started out with a walk up to St. John the Devine, an Episcopalian Cathedral on the upper west side. Jeez Louise what a beautiful church. We were both just completely taken aback by the scale of the place and the way the light played on the columns and walls as it streamed in through the stained glass.

After we had our fill of amazing sacred architecture, we decided to head somewhere a bit more secular. Times Square. I thought it was pretty awesome, what with all the lights and whatnot. The place was way that good way that Las Vegas is also overstimulating. I'm hoping we'll get the chance to make it back at night so I can see the place lit up "for real." We also had a good time at the Toys 'R' Us in the square. By far the coolest Toys 'R' Us evar. 

Times Square was followed with a bit of sport shopping and a decent length walk down to lunch at Kyo Chon, a Korean fried chicken restaurant. Korean fried chicken is amazing. The skin is at once crispy and gooey. It's kinda hard to describe, but it rules. We walked down 33rd Street which is a bevy of Korean businesses and headed back into the fray. After lunch I noticed a tall building, it turned out to be the Empire State Building. It's amazing how many sights you can see really fast in such a densely packed city.

A little more sport shopping preceded our trip over to Chinatown for dinner with Babehoney's sister at Dim Sum Go Go. The Dim Sum was really nice and flavorful, but the highlight was walking around the alleyways and seeing all of the ducks hanging in the windows of the Chinese shops. It was definitely memorable, but not the neon-adorned spectacle I hoped it would be.

 Today we walked across the park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The park was covered in snow, so not great for pictures, but the museum was awesome. We spent about 6 hours in the museum and left mentally and physically drained. On the way back to the apartment we got a great view of the skyline. For dinner we ordered in Thai.

New York is by far the biggest city I've been to, and it's really impressive. I'm really excited about the prospect of visiting even larger cities in Asia, hopefully soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Epic Winter Road Trip of 2011

Earlier this week (Wednesday) I boarded a flight up to meet up with Babehoney in Buffalo, NY. We drove from Buffalo to her hometown of Cuba that afternoon. Her mom managed to get the day off so she drove and we had a lovely visit between the three of us and her mother's cousin.

Previously I thought that Western New York was pretty ugly, but when it's covered with a layer of pure white snow it's really beautiful. Babehoney showed me around her small town, which seems like a really nice place to grow up, and around the town where she went to college (Alfred, NY). It seems like the kind of place that a kid could just go crazy and explore without fear of kidnappers, gangs, or any of the other crap city kids are raised to fear.

The snow is pretty interesting. It takes more time to get anywhere because I have to put on like 8 layers of clothes and stuff. I like dressing warm, and I look hot in my hat, so it's okay. I've somehow turned into a bit of a homebody, so my favorite parts of the day are sitting inside visiting while the snow falls outside. I did offer Babehoney the chance to recreate the final scene of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 with me in the falling snow, but she declined because she didn't know the lines. I think that's a load of malarkey because I even offered to be O-ren. Oh well.

We went to eat at a couple blogworthy places over the past few days. A couple nights ago we went to the Beef n' Barrel in Olean, NY. I had this monstrous roast beef sandwich that was pretty awesome. Today we went to Sprague's maple factory where I had the stuffed french toast. It was awesome.

Pictures are at my flickr and I apologize for not having the time to post them here.

Tomorrow we're amtrak-ing it over to NYC. PICTURES SOON.

Until later my faithful reader(s), anyong-hi gyeseyeo!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops

I'll give Call of Duty: Black Ops a 9.0/10. The campaign had a really good storyline, the graphics were pretty damn good, and the gameplay was fun. I really enjoyed the game, although in direct comparison to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I'd say it was a good game, but not the best game ever. I think Treyarch could put a bit more cinematic of a feel into the Call of Duty franchise and really make these games something even more special. It's a storied franchise, why not make it as awesome as it could be?

I tried the multiplayer component last night. It was fun. The competition online is freaking fierce. I went 4 and 17 in my first round. JEEZ LOUISE I don't suck THAT bad, do I? I felt like the environments although less glitchy than say, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam were maybe just a tad doom-like. The interface is great though.

This is a short post, I have to get up in 3 hours to take mom to the hospital for her surgery. Sleep tomorrow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bad Company 2 vs. Call of Duty: Black Ops

So I'm making pretty decent progress on Call of Duty: Black Ops, and I thought it was worth a blog post of comparison. Here are my thoughts:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is way more playable. I think the game plays more clearly, the animations and enemy AI are far superior, and the lighting design is much less sinister and a bit more realistic. The graphics are a bit better all around, I'd say too. I'm really not sure if it's the graphical quality or the lack of realism from the enemy bots in the single player campaign that make the difference.

The storyline of both games is pretty intriguing, but Call of Duty is so over the top (okay, Bad Company 2 is pretty far over the top, but Call of Duty goes a little farther) with the campaign mode that it's a bit hard to believe. The characters aren't nearly as likeable as bad company 2, and there is absolutely zero humor involved. That said, I think both storylines would make good movies, I just don't want to go have a beer with any of the dudes from Call of Duty yet, that's all.

There are some gameplay problems in black took me an hour or so to figure out I was supposed to knock over a damn barrel of napalm to stop some soldiers from spawning. They should have been marked or something. I feel that Bad Company 2 executed a bit better on the gameplay for the single player campaign.

All in all, the set pieces are a little smaller and more intimate in black ops (so far), excluding blowing up a Soviet soyuz rocket. This isn't such a fair comparison because I would expect black ops to actually be a bit more intimate and low key than hollywood theatrics.

To be fair, there were some decent geometry problems and the animations of the character models in Bad Company 2 weren't super detailed, but I encountered all of those problems in the multiplayer component. I haven't tried the multiplayer side of black ops yet, and I've heard that the action REALLY lies in multiplayer with Call of Duty games, so maybe I'll amend this post after I've played around with that.

I like that both games seem to spit out trophies left and right :).

If I had to put a number on a scale of 10 for these games compared to the games i played in 2010, I'd give Bad Company 2 a 10/10, and Black Ops so far about an 9/10.

The end.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Obligatory Year-End Post

2010 started out pretty well, although I had mono, which kinda totally sucked. In 2010 some big things happened though.

1) My relationship with my girlfriend went from serious to ultra-serious. I love her more than anything and I'm so thankful that I have her to start 2011 with (in a few days when I fly up to New York.)

2) I finished my master's degree.

3) My girl and I decided to make a run at moving to Korea, and it looks like we'll be moving there in the next couple of months.

4) I became a university professor for a semester. It was pretty cool.

5) I lost my job and the girl and I moved in with my mother while we got everything prepared for the jobs we want to take in Korea.

6) I got my brown belt in Taido, something that I'm pretty damn proud of.

Some fun stuff happened too:

1) I saw every Space Shuttle launch of 2010 from Cape Canaveral.

2) I went to Disney World in Orlando with my girl a whopping 4 times.

3) I spent a great weekend with my Taido friends in Panama City Beach, Florida.

All in all, I'd say 2010 was way better than 2009, but I'm sure 2011 is going to be even better. Since my girl is a couple thousand miles away, my first act of the new year is going to be to play Call of Duty: Black Ops, which I picked up on sale at Target today. Yay.

Happy New Year.