Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tipping... What's Normal?

I got on the topic of tipping with a few colleagues of mine and I was surprised at the big differences we have on the topic. For example, when it comes to tipping housekeeping at a hotel, how much do you leave per day? This is what each of us had to say:
Girl #1: Doesn't tip housekeeping at hotels. Only tips if she's renting a house and gets housekeeping.

Girl #2: $10 a day, which she leaves in an envelope at the front desk. Since she stays at nice resorts, she thinks $10 is customary.

Me: A buck or two a day (regardless of whether it's the Days Inn or Four Seasons), which I leave on the nightstand.

Guy #1: Doesn't tip unless it's a business trip.
And for valets:
Girl #1: Usually a buck.

Girl #2: Several dollars, depending on how much valet costs. If valet costs $15, she might tip $3.

Me: Usually a buck.

Guy #1: Usually a buck or two.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For the Late Preggers Set

Saw a new magazine called Plum at Barnes & Noble the other day. It's aimed at pregnant women 35 and over.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Moving Out of New York Makes You Fat

By golly I got it! That weight I've put on over the last year is because I haven't been walking as much (ahem, at all) since moving out of NYC. It's not the food or the gym or my age-- it's that sitting on my ass in my car has replaced walking and standing on those hot subway platforms. Duh!

This crystal clear moment came to me as we were walking along Smith St in Brooklyn yesterday. It was a warm and sorta muggy day in the city and the roughly 10 block walk from the Carroll St station to Atlantic Ave had me feeling tired and gross. This was really pathetic because I used to power walk down this stretch without thinking anything of it.

Now that I've figured out the problem, I need a solution. LA isn't so walkable, so maybe I need to hit the treadmill most days after work...

Only 48 Episodes and 7 More Islands to Go

Thanks to my friend the Hoosier Nest for telling me about this hilarious handy dandy recap of season 3 of Lost.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Where It's Green

We are spending Memorial Day weekend with the extended Octopus clan in Connecticut. I can't believe how green it is here. The highways, which are usually only two, maybe three, lanes in each direction, are lined with evergreen, maple and other trees for as far as the eye can see. It's beautiful, but being a city/suburban girl, it's a little unnerving. The Octopus inlaws have a forest behind their house and the smell of the trees and things nature initially hurt my nose.

Octopus has many little cousins and one in particular really likes me. I think she loves me, actually. She's seven and people tell her that she looks like me. I don't see her very often and it warms my heart that someone who hardly knows me loves me so much. Families are the best.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Your Friday Afternoon Video #9: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Believe it or not: Warner Bros is working with Mattel to bring He-Man to the silver screen. Live action.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rates of Depression and Suicide High for Asian-Am Females

HHS reports that Asian-American girls and women between 15 and 24 have the highest suicide rate among all females in the same age group. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for this group, after accidents. Model minority, parental pressure and undiagnosed depression are among the many possible factors.

None of this surprises me. Asian parents often treat their sons differently from their daughters. They expect their daughters to be smart, innocent and obedient, to be everything to everybody, whereas they let the boys do what they want to do. In my own experience, I've noticed that Vietnamese girls do much better in school than Vietnamese boys. At my high school, all the Vietnamese kids in my AP classes were girls-- the Vietnamese boys were often hanging out in the parking lot, wearing their wifebeaters and flipflops, and talking about how they were going to lower their Acura Integras (it's no wonder I never had a Vietnamese boyfriend).

And depression in Asian culture often goes untreated. In fact, I wonder if many Asian parents even believe there's such a thing as mental illness. I have an aunt who has become sick recently. I've asked a bunch of times what exactly she is suffering from, and every time I get some vague answer like "Well, she says crazy things. She's had a really hard life and she thinks too much about the past and that causes her a lot of stress. She really shouldn't think about that stuff."

When I was about to leave for college my parents asked me if I knew what I wanted to study. I had given it a lot of thought and told them I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Immediately, my parents erupted in anger and disbelief. "You won't make any money! Nobody goes to a psychiatrist. We don't know anyone who goes. Do you want to be around insane people all day long?" And the icing on the cake: my dad said, "Why don't I take you to a mental institution and see if you like it."

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's Monday, and I've Got More to Say

I just finished watching Dancing with the Stars. I don't understand why Apolo got a perfect score for his freestyle routine. He seemed one step behind his partner the whole time. Also, I wonder why Mr. Jazz Patch, who was born in like 1982 and who presumably grew up in the 90s, would do a whole routine around breakdancing (something I think is quintessentially early 80s). I guess breakdancing is back in style, right? Does that mean that the 80s are coming back generally? Nothing would be more awesome because that means my music tastes are current once again.

Sometimes it shocks me that I live in LA. As if time has passed me by and suddenly I wake up and I'm living in LA. Not that I don't like it here. Actually, I quite like it. I really like Eagle Rock. But it's that weird sense that somehow I live in the day-to-day humdrum and don't realize the overarching big picture. Kinda like, wow, I'm in my 30s. How did that happen?

'Ello Governah

Young Arnold hoping some ballet lessons will help
his bodybuilding poses

Pumping Iron (1976) is so worth watching on Netflix. What could be better than a young Arnold Schwarzenegger vying for his seventh Mr. Olympia? He was 28 at the time and charismatic, attractive and charming. He was cocky and sneaky, too. Of his good friend and fellow bodybuilding competitor, Franco Columbu, the future Governator says: "Franco is pretty smart, but Franco's a child, and when it comes to the day of the contest, I am his father. He comes to me for advices. So it's not that hard for me to give him the wrong advices."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Favorite Weekend Getaway Place

Morning fog over the driving range. The view from our room.

Just returned from the Ojai Valley-- a quick hour plus drive NW of LA, near Santa Barbara-- and it was awesome. So relaxing, so beautiful. We stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn, which I would definitely recommend. Pretty Spanish mission style buildings. Nice landscaping. Lots of complimentary fitness classes (yoga, water conditioning, spinning). Good (but very pricey) spa. And golf, tennis and horseback riding, too, if you're into that. A very kid-friendly place to boot. What a treat to have a place like this so close to LA.

The same view, a few hours later.

Lots of lavender, salvia, rosemary and succulents.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Getting There

After several months of not going anywhere, the Octopus and I have a slew of trips lined up for the summer. These seemed like good ideas when I booked them, but now that they're fast approaching, I'm almost just as happy to stay home. It seems so exhausting. Flying is dreadful. And vacations always end up costing a lot (especially the short ones). But I shouldn't complain. I'm happy to visit family or be in a new place. It's just the getting there that sucks.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Little Children

I really liked this movie. A well told, well paced, thoughtful story. Kate Winslet plays a young, suburban mom who meets a very attractive dad at the neighborhood playground. She is married to an inattentive, internet porn obsessed consultant. He is married to a beautiful, breadwinning filmmaker (played by Jennifer Connelly). Their unsatisfying, mundane lives take an interesting turn when they start having an affair. Throw a neighborhood pedophile into the mix and you get something even more interesting (the pedophile is the same guy who played the punkass kid Tatum O'Neal fancied in the original Bad News Bears). Definitely worth getting on Netflix.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tipping the Owner

I got a facial today. At a tiny place, a room on the second floor of a hair salon. One room, one facialist. I've had quite a few people tell me that you don't typically tip the owner of a salon. So, after hemming and hawing, I ended up just paying her sticker price, no tip. Now I feel bad. Mostly because I wonder if other people tip and if she expected one. I always feel weird when I have to hand the tip to the person who did the service. I'd much rather put money in an envelope and leave. I'm planning on going back to her, so next time I'll tip, if not just to avoid this post-facial agonizing...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Your Friday Afternoon Video #8: You'd think that you'd be safe sitting atop an elephant...

This tiger attack was filmed in India. The elephant was blind in its left eye. I remember reading that the elephant (and the man riding atop it) came between the tiger and its cubs. Figures.

I first saw snapshots of this attack in National Geographic magazine in '05.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm Still Watching Lost

Despite all my complaining and indignation, I still tune in on Wednesdays. I am a tool. I don't really have much else to say, except that I guess. I don't really think Locke is gonna die. He's too important to the story. And to kill him off right when he's on the cusp of learning more about the Others and the supernatural powers of the island would be mean and stupid and would just delay us getting on with our lives. Then again, those are all reasons for ABC to let him go.

I hate this guy

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

It's Gonna Be a Long, Hot Summer

The fire burning in Griffith Park.
This afternoon. And into the evening.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Hello Week

Sunday night. Watching E! True Hollywood Story: Kelly Ripa. I'm not home in the mornings to watch Regis & Kelly anymore, but last I watched she really bothered me. I used to like her. At the beginning.

Aaah, the last hours of the weekend.

The one good thing about Mondays is Dancing with the Stars. I can't believe that Billy Ray is still on. Poor John Ratzenberger. I'm guessing Ian Ziering will be next to go. I would say Billy Ray, but I've been saying that for a couple weeks and he just keeps coming back. Like a cockroach. I don't understand what the judges are talking about when they say he dancing with his heart, puts his all into it, blaah blaah.

But let's not talk about Monday yet.

My weekend was great. And not because Mr. Octopus was away (ha ha, sorry Octopus). A friend who lives in DC spent the night on Friday. We made grilled cheese sandwiches, had a bottle of Riesling and caught up. Then today I hiked the 'JPL Trail' in Pasadena with another friend. I couldn't have imagined a better Sunday morning. I think this hike is one of my favorite things ever. It's cool and shady and easy.

Then this afternoon I went hog wild with the gardening. I went to not one, but two Armstrong nurseries. Glendale and Pasadena (the Pasadena one is way better). I bought a bunch of plants (including some yellow and red 'kangaroo paws' like the ones here) and then came home and dug some holes. I'm pretty happy with what I bought and I hope that the plants take to their new environment.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

New Baby Rhino

A whopping 86 pounds at birth, this not so little, newborn Sumatran rhino is making waves at the Cincinnati Zoo. Only 300 of these rhinos remain in the wild, so every new baby counts. Coochi coochi coo.