Dracil’s BlogJournal

November 21, 2008


Filed under: personal, Reviews — Tags: , , — dracil @ 3:47 am

Yay, Leqi was on time today!  :P

So, we arrived early and basically had to sit around with everyone at the bar until the main area was open.  Tried some experimental photography.  Specifically with the mirrors on the bar.  Didn’t work too well because of how dark it was.

We were seated at the table next to the corner.  The beds are pretty big and clean and smells like hotels and there’s a table on it so your drinks and stuff won’t spill.  The menu was hidden, but basically there was some sort of soup at the beginning that had a scallop piece in the center, chicken thigh in the middle, and some sort of yogurt and brown sugar wafer and something else with caramel for dessert.  We were starving so I liked it though she thought Asia SF had better food.  I think the entertainment was better here though.  There was this guy in a blue rabbit suit who’d walk around and do stuff.  Leqi suffered his attention with him sitting on her and stuff.  :P  There was a table of clowns in the center who’d sometimes do stuff.  I’m not quite sure if they were part of the entertainment or actually guests.  Or maybe both?  And there was an acrobatics performance that was pretty cool.

We actually did end up ordering some alcoholic drinks (Supperclub Martini).  All I know is that it had godiva white chocolate in it and I still don’t really like alcoholic drinks… at least of the ones I tried.  She didn’t finish hers as usual.  So far, beer’s the only thing she likes (esp. Tsingtao I think), and I haven’t tried that yet, so maybe next time.  Maybe in New York?

Oh, we left around 10, and the doors opened at 7:30, so keep that in mind if you need to be places after dinner.  People were still inside drinking and some of the clowns were dancing.

No pics (may edit them in later) because I spent the rest of the night prepping for NY tomorrow.


November 19, 2008

Sutro’s at Cliff House

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — dracil @ 12:27 am

So… out of the way.

I think it would’ve been better in the day, but that means the only time I could go is during the weekend.  At night, can’t really see too much.  Leqi seemed to like it though.

So we were here for the Appetite Stimulus Plan that’s going on this week.  Which means prix fixe for a cheaper price.  Bread was pretty standard.  Cold bread and butter. We both got the portobello mushroom soup which was good.  She got halibut and I got steak frites.  Steak was a bit tough even at medium-rare but the fries were really good.  Dessert was pretty good though we were pretty full by then.

July 13, 2008

Russian River

Ow ow ow my hands hurt.  Huan was late, but we still managed to get to the Russian River on time at 10.  But we didn’t actually leave the shore until 11.  We ended close to 6.  From start to end was about 8 miles.  We stopped twice for food, and several more times for rest/restroom breaks.  Yay, bushes!

Huan also did the rope swings since he was the only one wearing swimming gear.  Though he didn’t exactly swing, more like fell in the water (and tried our patience for taking 10 minutes to finally jump the first time).

Despite the trip supposed to be easy and calm, we actually got a dose of adventure.  So what hapened was that Adele and Xi lost one of their paddles and it got stuck behind some branches because of the current.  Huan got off since he was the only one with swimming trunks to pick it up.  Somewhere during that time, Xi fell off the boat and she stood in the shallow water that was upstream of the current.  She’s pregnant (almost 6 months) so she couldn’t really swim.  Another boat with Irene and James flipped over but they managed to recover but they got pushed down further.  Meanwhle, Huan was trying to hold onto Adele’s boat and my boat since the water was too deep and he couldn’t get on without quite likely flipping Adele’s boat.

Eventually I managed to paddle up to Xi and get her onto the boat.  Took a couple tries for her to get on before the current pushed me away from the shallow water again.

From then on, I was with her until close to the end.  Since she’s pregnant, she couldn’t really exert too much, so I paddled most of the rest of the way by myself, which was… not fun.  Mainly because I could only move at about half the speed as the rest of the group who had two paddlers, and of course, having to paddle twice as much (most of the water was still, with the wind blowing against us, so we couldn’t really rely on the currents), so towards the end, I was too tired to try to keep the boat straight, which just delayed us further.  Hand almost cramped up a few times (next time, I think I want to wear gloves).  :P

Towards the end, when we had kinda dispaired that it was going to take a long time, Irene and Xi switched places at a bank, and the difference was definitely great.  :P  We had to stop and wait for James and Xi’s boat often after that, but we also realized that we were almost at the end by then since we saw the bridge that was the landmark.

Pei and Patrick’s boat was the first to get to the end (yes, they just ditched us all.  :P)

My jacket also got soaked throughout the entire trip (should’ve left it into the car considering I took it off pretty much after I got onto the boat), and I just washed it yesterday.  Ugh.  The river wasn’t that clean in parts either.

While waiting for the van to pick us up, Huan managed to throw his frisbee into the poison oak.  And he then went to pick it up.  So, he may have an excuse to stay home on Monday.  We’ll see, it takes 24-48 hours for the symptoms to occur.

Oh, yeah, three of us brought DSLRs (all guys, go figure.  :P).  I had the best/newest body there, but I think they had the better lens.  Patrick had a Canon XTI (450D) with a 70-200mm L lens.  James had a Nikon D70 (his “disposable” compared to his D300) with a NIKKOR 18-200mm lens.  I mainly just used my 55-250mm IS lens.  I also used my polarizer for a bit, but it didn’t seem to help that much today.  It also got a dunking early in the trip and got wet with river water (I foolishly kept it outside the case, this was before I realized how wet we were gonna get) and somehow it fell into the water.  I didn’t have my cleaning stuff so I just dried it with my clothes and it seemed ok.  Cleaned it later properly and it didn’t seem to have any lasting damage.  I’m still waiting for my clear blue sky…

There was much chimping over each others’ cameras/lens, and I actually exchanged lens with Patrick at dinner so we could try out each others’ lens (conclusion: I need my IS) and just random discussions.  Also, one of the Russian River Adventures people apparently recognized my camera case and also looked it over.  Apparently his wife’s a professional photographer and she used to receive the Pelican cases for free which is why he knew about them (that, and he’d used it himself on river expeditions).  He gave a suggestion on drilling holes through the bottom of the case so carabiners could be attached.

For dinner , we went to 99 Ranch to look for food.  We were originally gonna eat at Great Szechuan but we left because Pei and Patrick didn’t eat spicy foods.  We ended up going to 168.  An interesting reversal of last week’s meal…

So in general, the trip was fun, but I know my body’s going to hate me tomorrow and it’ll be sure to let me know it.

June 28, 2008

Tea Garden, Critical Mass, Birds, and Aliens

Had a surprise call from Joyce who was free for lunch (she’s usually not free).  So we went and got stuff from Tea Garden.  Boba was good, I thought the meat portion was a little small but otherwise ok, but Joyce said her noodles had been cooked too long so were kinda mushy.  This ended up being a bit of an extended lunch break.  But it was a pretty slow day at work.

After work realized that it was Critical Mass today and I actually knew the time and when it would start, so I actually had time to go prepare unlike the previous times where it caught me completely by surprise.  As such I was able to get some shots of people waiting to start.

I put on my telephoto lens (Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS) and then had fun with it as this was my first time actually using it.  Critical Mass actually became a lot less interesting with these lens and instead, I started photographing birds instead because I was able to get a lot closer (image wise) to them than I’ve been able to before.

Watched Aliens with Ching later on.  This is the special edition version, which is different from the original version I’ve watched countless time back home.  I’m not actually convinced that this version’s better though.  It fleshes the story out more but it also breaks the flow a bit and diminishes the impact of the alien encounter once Ripley and co. went down to the planet.

Then Ching insisted on showing me Death Becomes Her, which I eventually realized I’d seen before.

June 22, 2008

Saturday Outing

Urk, though I woke up around on time, I thought Leqi wasn’t up yet, so wasted a bit of the morning.

We went to eat at Osha Thai first since we were already there.  Garlic Pepper Lamb and Crab Pad Thai and Thai Iced Tea.

We went to my office after that since I needed to print out the tickets and check where the restaurant for dinner was.  Leqi got a very quick tour of my workplace and surprisingly there was actually someone working at the office today.

After that, we looked at the the arts and craft being sold at the Farmer’s Market since she was looking to buy some souvenirs for people back home and then walked our way to Pier 33 since the bus stops looked extremely crowded.

Very long line to get on the Alcatraz Island tour boat though it went by pretty fast.  The boat ride was cool since the wind was REALLY strong.  There were a lot of seagulls there which I hadn’t expected, but it made sense.  The audio tour itself was pretty neat as well, as I was originally disappointed that we weren’t going to get a tour guide (it’s only for night tours).

We then made our way to Ghirardelli Square where we had some sundaes and she got some chocolates to bring back as gifts.

Then we took the bus on over to Foreign Cinema, but since we were early we walked around for a bit first.  We shared the meal again since neither of us were really hungry, but we got half a crab, soup, and a fish dish.  We tried to drag it out so we would actually be there when the film started (it starts when it gets dark, which was around 9 today).

Ching then decided to show up and sorta became a third wheel.  :P

After dinner, we walked her to the Bart station as she was going to go watch the new Hulk movie with her friends, and Leqi and I went home after that as she still needed to pack and I’m watching the movie later with other people.

June 21, 2008

Friday Outing

Ok, wow.  I pretty much didn’t sleep last night.  Think I’m gonna crash soon.  But still so much to do today… eep.

So we went to watch Get Smart first.  That was a pretty cool movie.  I was pretty happy to see that Masi Oka (of Heroes fame) was in the movie, which I didn’t know about.  The main character was also a lot more competent than I’d expected from the trailers.  I thought he was just gonna be a useless deadweight.  :P

Afterwards we ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory which may not have been a good idea as it turned into quite a wait.  We just had calamari and fish and chips and even that was too much really as we had to box the cheesecake immediately.

After going home, we ate one of the cheesecakes with Ching and watched a few random Youtube videos and previewed some movies while deciding what to watch.

Eventually we decided to watch the 40 Year Old Virgin, which also has Steve Carrell in it, so I guess it was a Steve Carrell movie night.  :P  By the time we finished downloading and watching it, it was about 5:30, and I’m going to bed now.

Edit: Wow, just realized there was a gap in events between Cheesecake factory and watching 40YOV.

June 17, 2008

Monday Outing

Filed under: personal, Reviews — Tags: , , , , — dracil @ 12:25 am

So today I took Leqi to the Metreon since she’s never been there before.  It was just as well since she has never been to an IMAX theater which she’d recently heard about in class.  And it turns out Kung Fu Panda, which was what we were here for, was being shown in their IMAX theater, so yeah.  :)

For dinner, we ate at Annabelle’s Bar and Bistro.  I picked it ’cause it was close and it had a restaurant.com gift certificate.  She had some pea ravioli with mushrooms and something else.  I had skirt steak with fries and coleslaw.  Portions were pretty small (the meat) but it was very tasty.  Though I was full afterwards so the portions weren’t too bad, but I wouldn’t go back without a gift certificate since it’s a bit too pricey otherwise.

Walked about the Metreon a little bit and then went to watch the movie.  Not too crowded and the screen was huge.  Got good seats.  Anyway, the movie was great.  Classic kung fu/martial arts/fighting story.  The one who was the outcast/weakest will always have the most endurance/natural talent and end up being the most powerful.  Fight scenes were pretty cool and the random use of Chinese in the names was a nice touch as well.  Definitely a must-watch.  :)

June 15, 2008

Cousin’s graduation

Filed under: personal, Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — dracil @ 1:53 am

Went straight to my relative’s place after work on Friday since I knew I’d need to get up early today.  Lots of extra people.  Apparently Henry brought along his friend from USF (who I’d met once) along with her sister.  Sun was red that evening and the sky was also a weird red/orange color, probably from the fires in Santa Cruz.  Angel took us on a quick tour of her high school and let us know where to meet her tomorrow after the ceremony.

When we got there, the sky was still nice and cloudy/foggy/smoky so we were hoping it wouldn’t be too hot.  Unfortunately that didn’t last.  Fortunately the ceremony was an hour shorter than expected.  This, people, is why we all love short speeches.  :P

Lots and lots of picture taking through and after the ceremony.  Since we were so early, we went home and moved up the reservation time at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.  Food was pretty standard.  Bread was above average (because it was HOT).  We then went to Best Buy and I waited for Xia to come over.

Went to Costco first with Xia since she wanted to buy some stuff, then we had dinner at Ginseng at Mountain View.  It was… odd.  It’s Korean BBQ completely run by non-Asians.  That means the restaurant looked rather clean.  But it also meant the portions were kinda skimpy/price was kinda high.  And amazingly, the service was actually rather blah.  It was also *extremely* weird how there was no sauce at all, which meant the non-marinated meat was pure meat flavor.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  I’d rather got to some place like Coriya Hot Pot, which would’ve been cheaper and all-you-can-eat, plus you can also have hotpot and mix your own sauce.  :P

We then went over to Shoreline Park and Lake to watch the sunset.  Saw a skunk too!  But darn thing wouldn’t let me get close enough to get a good picture.  Makes me really want to get a telephoto lens.  :P

June 5, 2008

Dine About Town Launch Party

I intentionally drank yeast piss.  Ick.  I don’t get why people like this stuff.  Though I now know at least that I can handle two glasses of wine with no effect (I don’t drink, and I started with a kinda empty stomach, having had 1 bag of chips for a late lunch).

Oh, and they didn’t check for ID.

Anyway, I had intended to leave work a little early but that didn’t happen, but Sophia calling me gave me the excuse to leave (one of my coworkers leaves tomorrow and will be back in October for visa issues, which thankfully I will be able to avoid).  I’ll miss his presence.  :( (why’s everyone leaving me? Sophia’s moving out of SF as well >_<)

Got stuck on the Muni ’cause the train didn’t leave for 5 minutes so got there later than I wanted, then turns out Sophia was still shopping upstairs.  The entire Cellar section was cordoned off.  People like us who pre-registered didn’t have to wait in line.  :D

I guess the coolest thing was the free wine glass.  The food wasn’t actually all that filling though some were rather tasty.  There was also a cooking demonstration which was basically one of the samples but with more meat.  We ended up getting clam chowder from Boudin Bakery afterwards because we weren’t exactly full.  The $10 donation was really for the wine I think.  We also picked up a couple free wine tasting tickets at Ghirardelli Square (which I plan to go to the weekend of June 21-22 because of their Savour the Square event (free ice cream sundaes!  :D)).

I actually already did Dine About Town on Monday with Catherine.  We went to The Cosmopolitan for lunch.  Unfortunately we both forgot our camera so the pictures are on her coworker’s camera.  Overall, the food wasn’t bad though a tad salty on certain stuff.  The crab cakes > tomato soup.  The sandwich and fries were good (really like how crispy the fries were).  The salmon was alright.  For dessert the chocolate cake + vanilla ice cream was great.  The other dessert we had was ok.

May 17, 2008

Transformation Seminar with Ed Silvoso

The Transformation Seminar

I was one of the first one there since I’d arrived 30 minutes early (I would’ve gone later but the next Muni would’ve been 25 minutes later had I not gone on the one I did, and that was catching it close). It was really warm when I first arrived, but over the course of the seminar, it got cooler as there was a pretty nice breeze, which surprised me.

I like the fact that I recognized the opening song, We Are Hungry, which was a staple back when I went to IVCF. Joyce arrived sometime during the song. I didn’t recognize the second song though.

The two main speakers today were Ed Silvoso and Bishop Mclaughlin. While there was a video by Ed Silvoso at the beginning, I’ll begin with Bishop Mclaughlin since he was up for the majority of the morning segment.

Bishop Mclaughlin talked about the stuff he did in Jacksonville, Florida. Specifically, they bought this mall for $4 million and then put a lot of work renovating it and it’s now a $30 million mall called Kingdom Plaza. The main thing here is the huge church inside, but it also has a lot of mall staples like bowling alleys, gyms, restaurants, offices, etc. I think he mentioned how they employed some of the formerly homeless/drug addict types in the area too so it helped make the area better, not just financially, but from a social justice point of view. The theme here is that we need to build churches that the community would miss. By becoming part of the marketplace, you are able to actually outreach to other people.

This lead into Ed Silvoso’s talk for the second half of the seminar. It was material from his books, and was mainly about prayer evangelism, doing prayer walks, and basically transforming the marketplace. He has slides and videos on the Harvest Evangelical website if you want to look at them as they’re pretty much the same. But to summarize, simply being religious and preaching from the pulpit (clergy) will lead to failure. Instead, you need to actually go into the marketplace, but there can be nothing without religion either. You must have both. During Jesus’s time, this actually meant going to people’s homes, since a lot of homes back then were also shops. In modern times, it doesn’t necessarily require going out and being obnoxious at work. Simply praying and giving blessings to the people around you is incredibly helpful. One of the things they did was get everyone at a church to do prayer walks in their neighborhood. Basically go around blessing 5 houses to the left and 5 houses to the right of your own house every day. It’s very easy to do so anyone can do it. He shared a lot of stories about this, either in his talk, or from the videos he showed. Most of these were miracles-to-conversion stories (or coincidences if you’re a skeptic). One of the stories was how they prayed for a waitress at a restaurant which completely moved her because nobody had ever prayed for her before. She told the other waiters and they had like 8 conversions that night. Another story was how there was this gay parade in Argentina and at first they were discouraged, but they realized that they did ask for God for sinners. They basically asked the people at the parade for stuff Christians had done to them, which surprised people. They were tested and asked if the parade could go through them, and they said yes, and they used the opportunity to bless everyone that went through. One of the things he mentioned around this time is that Jesus never told sinners to repent in the Bible. The difference is that while Jesus did not approve of sin, he was reconciled with the sinners. Anyway, it was generally stuff like that.

After the event, Joyce met up with some people from her church and she got her book autographed by Ed. After we left, we went around blessing everything around us while in the car. Prayer driving. It was actually kinda fun. :)

My thoughts

To be honest, I was actually kinda critical for most of it. Both Ed and Bishop hold standard conservative Christian views. i.e. their example of Hawaii being a liberal state was that it had the first abortion clinic, and they referenced the recent same-sex marriage ruling in California as bad, along with the obvious asking for sinners and being caught in the gay parade. He was also a McCain supporter as he talked about how it was great that Pawlenty would probably be his VP. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d know I generally have a more liberal view on these issues. :P

But I really liked his point about about being reconciled with sinners. It showed a different mindset than the standard fire-and-brimstone “Repent or you are going to hell” type stuff I would’ve expected from people who held those views. The thing about Jesus never asking sinners to repent was useful info too.

I also noticed a contradiction about what he said. He divided the chapters in Luke into a hostile spiritual climate phase, and a favorable spiritual climate phase, with chapter 10 telling us to go out to the field and harvest people. One of his points was that Jesus was casting out demons in the first half, but no longer needed to do so in the second half. But one of the lines he did not quote from the second half mentioned that Jesus was actually still casting out demons. Not a big deal, just something I noticed.

Bishop Mclaughlin was the standard charismatic preacher type. Kinda like Jeremiah Wright, but more sane. :P That means they speak faster and faster and louder and louder until they reached a climax. This also means that it tended to get a little long-winded. Much of the audience really got into it, with lots of approving shouts and mutters, people raising their hands up spontaneously and shaking their hands or head, and some crying. Yeah… that kinda stuff just doesn’t work for me. :P I did participate most of the time when asked to raise my hand or say something, but if it took too long, I started to feel a little silly. But sometimes it worked, like when we blessed the people around us, which I saw as a friendly, communal thing to do. I think it’s because my approach to faith is mainly intellectual rather than emotional, though I’ve certainly had a few emotional experiences.

There were a few things that the speakers said that I found rather odd. In one example, Ed talked about bringing a Mormon to the kingdom of God, essentially implying that Mormons aren’t Christians, which is certainly debatable. Bishop had an eyebrow-raising moment when he talked about genocide. By that, he meant the high incarceration rates of black men which leads to children being raised without their fathers which causes problems for them. I’m not convinced genocide is the proper word to use there. I can believe that racism has a lot to do with it, but I think it’s more of a self-perpetuating cycle now. Also, the video they showed with people going on prayer walks to help transform a crime-ridden neighborhood was done pretty much entirely by men. Where were the women? In one of their examples of success, they talked about how a small town was getting, among other things, national chains. Err… having lived in the liberal centers of the Bay Area for so long, I’ve generally seen people regard national chains as a bad thing. :P

Other happenings

For lunch, Joyce and I went to ZUNI Cafe as it had been recommended by the pastor of the church where the seminar was held, and Joyce had heard about it too. We got lucky and didn’t have to wait for a table. The group of 4 that came after us was told they’d need to wait 45 minutes. However, we did have to quite a while for our food, and they even came out to apologize to us twice, which we thought was a nice touch. It certainly contributed to their tip. :P The complimentary bread wasn’t that special. The rabbit salad was good, but I think Joyce didn’t like the onions on it. The pizza special was very good, probably because of the thin crust. The only bad thing was part of it was kinda burnt on one side. Finally, the shoestring potatoes I really enjoyed. Kinda expensive at $6 though. Our total including tip was $44, which wasn’t too bad. We ended up taking half an hour longer than we were supposed to, but I don’t think we really missed anything.

After the event, we went to Japantown to catch the last of the Asian Heritage Street Celebration. It’s too bad that a lot of the people were already packing up, but we did catch quite a few interesting things. The first thing we noticed were all the cars there, a few of which looked kinda cool (and expensive. We also got a free taste of Starbuck’s new Mint Moca Chip Frappuccino, as well as a sample of an incredibly expensive fruit blend health drink ($45 for non-members, $23 for members?! I’d rather get Jamba Juice). There were a couple live bands, including Random Ninjas, who I saw at my first real anime convention. :P I think I’d be more willing to get their CD if they just put more tracks on one CD. 4 song albums feel kinda meh to me. We had some bbq chicken and pork skewers for dinner from one of the stalls there. There was a registration drive by some Obama supporters.  When I told the girl I couldn’t vote when she asked if I could register, she just gave me a blank stare.  I guess that’s not a common answer.  :P  Though I did tell her that I’d vote for him if I could, and she thanked me for the support.  After that we explored the inside of Japantown. So Manga Cafe Mika is finally open. I think they reduced the price a little but the drinks aren’t free after all. Joyce was able to get one of her missing Detective Conan books from Kinokuniya. :)

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