Monday, December 10, 2012

Thanks Gave-ing

Hey! You know who had a great Thanksgiving on a budget? THIS GUY.

This year Wendy and I took up my friend's generous offer to host us in Boston for dinner with his wife and her family, which has grown by one since we spent last Christmas with them!
Meet Dani; she's a Dragon.
I have to insert this, rather haphazardly, here: The absolute best thing about T's family, besides the obvious warmth, generosity, strength of moral character, etc. is their seemingly endless supply of great stories that always end in everyone busting up laughing! Okay, out-of-sequence-remembrance over, we now resume you're previous blog-cast:

So the first night, T and his father-in-law Vinnie picked us up from our bus (we used go-bus, it was absolutely decent and affordable) and when we got to T's place, went straight to spying on his tiny, sleeping progeny. They warned us she would wake us up crying from the next room, but when she woke up the next morning she was quiet as a mouse! We even got worried at how quiet she was, but she was fine.
Then the men (yes, that includes me!) headed out to do some volunteering with the Knights of Columbus, and I learned the phrase "KofC" sounds a lot like KFC...
We cooked, and then served a some folks thanksgiving dinners for a couple hours, and it was all very warm and good.
Okay, full-disclosure, T is a professional chef, so he cooked! Vinnie and I opened some cans, then went out to set up tables and deliver the first wave of food. It was nice to have some guy time and work up a spiritual, as well as physical appetite before our own over-indulgence, but nearly torture resisting all that delicious, traditional Thanksgiving food while we were serving plates! Some turkey might have find its way to my mouth prematurely, but hey, I'm human.
That's a lot stuffing!
Then it was over to Vinnie's house for some full on tradition-style family Thanksgiving, with cats, dogs, moms, dads, future-in-laws (Marissa, T's sister-in-law, is newly engaged!), football on the TV, and of course: mountains of food that would make you want to cry butter!

After Wendy woke back up from her 100-year food-coma, we went back to T's.
The side story begins here: Massachusetts has some RIDICULOUS laws! Not only did we forget to buy beer the day before (to drink while watching football, of course!) We went on an adventure on the drive home to T's to find beer for the Jets Vs. Patriots game that was about to start. After finding the only place in town that was both open and had alcohol, turns out, it's illegal to sell beer on Thanksgiving Day. Way to punish us poor-planners MA. Yeesh! But for whatever reason, you could still buy beer at a bar so after dropping the ladies off, T and I did get a couple beers and watch the game, which made me cry. *Sancheeeeez!*
You gotta appreciate the BBQ place's sign next door, too!
Awesome Themed Cake made by Courtney
Anywho, I wanna wrap this up, but I can't leave out the last day! T and I went shopping for Marissa and Tim's engagement party that evening and had a fun man-date, then helped decorate the venue with T's mother-in-law (who is so sweet she might fool you into thinking your her child the moment you meet her!). Then we drank and stuffed our faces all over again, but you know what? By some miracle, when I came back to NYC, I hadn't gained any weight! Truly, an all-around epic Thanksgiving for the history-books. Welcome to the world Dani! Lucky your parents kept a close eye on you, cuz I would have stolen you. Oh yes.

And this is T's dad getting a pedicure. Because I promised it would go on the internet, and here it is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bring Back That Boston Feeling,

Whoooa that Boston feeeling!

Happy November everybody! Somehow I can't seem to take this blog from monthly to weekly, but hopefully I make up for it with interesting pictures and stories! 

So post-Sandy, the big news was the presidential election. 
I was sent to Boston to cover Romney's election night headquarters at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center... yaaaaay. :-/
In all seriousness, I was-and-still-do feel lucky to get to have gone. This came just a month after finishing my first year as a journalist, and since it only happens once every four years, and plenty of journalists still don't get assigned to it when it does come around, I count myself as extremely fortunate to see the process first-hand, just as I felt for the RNC and DNC. 

So how was the night? Let me go back to the day before election night. 
I took my news team to the national headquarters for Romney's Campaign staff, and found a non-descript building with the doors to the lobby locked. Luckily there were plenty of people coming and going, so I could at least get that far. Inside, a Chinese news team was pleading for even a later appointment with a spokesperson, and as my team waited patiently behind them to do the same thing, a Chinese-American woman from NPR and a European news team also came in and the scene became quite clear:
All of us had emailed the proper address requesting an appointment, all of had called the designated phone number, and all of us left multiple voice-mails on that machine in the weeks leading up to getting there. None of us received a reply. Meanwhile an ABC affiliate's camera crew exited from behind the front desk area, but I must have been the first to see this and reach the conclusion that they were giving interviews, just not to foreign press. So my crew was the first to abandon that and go to the convention center where we did finally find a Romney Campaign spokesperson who gave us an interview. Success! 

Sidenote: remember how god-awful the RNC and DNC security was? The Boston security was down-right pleasant and helpful. Thank you security-gods, thank you. 

So, The Big Night:
We were broadcasting live, from the cramped press-risers in the small auditorium where Romney would eventually take the stage for his concession speech. And when I say broadcasting live, I mean nation-wide (in Japan) and about half-a-dozen times! It was a real, intense, team effort, and time moved like a roller coaster, 30 minutes zipping by in an instant, 10 minutes taking an hour the next. 
It felt like I had just finished interviewing attendees about losing Wisconsin, and getting ready for our next live shot, when the clock struck 11, news channels started calling states, and not 15 minutes later Obama was declared the winner. 
Up until Ohio was called, the mood continued to be festive. Whenever Fox News called a state for Romney, a cheer would go up from the 1000+ in attendance, but states called for Obama were ignored as the guests continued to party. When Ohio was called, probably less than 5 minutes before the whole race was called, an eerie silence spread. The funny thing was, Fox News called it for Obama, then the announcers took it upon themselves to propose how Ohio could still be in play. Some people cheered, but then a graphic, once again calling Obama the winner was displayed full screen, and a deafening boo erupted! The Fox News craziness continued but I had to go back to coordinating. 
That was it, right? I thought for sure at least half the people would go home. BUT EVERYBODY STAYED, and waited over an hour to hear Mitt give his concession speech. I guess until they heard it, they didn't want to believe it was over. Some of the people there were drunk, sleazy-types like the democratic delegate I talked about meeting in North Carolina, but a lot of the people were really level-headed, kind people, who truly and simply disagreed with Obama's ability to improve the economy and had pinned their hopes on Romney. When Romney finished his brief thank you and departed, we went down and interviewed people as they left about how they felt. There were women crying, because Mitt was their hero. Living in NYC, I might see one person in 10 who liked Mitt, but I was... I guess impressed is the word - that people believed in him so passionately. I had heard of those people, but I didn't see it, until that moment. 
Anyway, I guess my point is that not all the Republicans trying to kick Obama out were latent-racists. Then again, who knows, that was just this young journalist's impression from the night. 
Setting up the day before

German News and friendly neighbors
CNN was in front of us
The Media

Mexican News - Azteca
Here's how far I was from the stage. TV Asahi's reporter standing on the left. 

The over-flow area/entrance to the BCEC
The view outside. I've heard Romney's campaign had spent a bunch on fireworks that were never used.

Getting going. Once states started being called the monitors were almost always on Fox News. No surprise.

Changing gears;

My news team had saved a lot of money by deciding to drive to Boston instead of flying, so when work was done, we ate, and we ate well.
Here are some photos that will make ya jealous ;)
This might not make you jealous, but when we were able to take a (ONE) break, we got mini hot dogs at the BCEC on election night =^)
America's oldest restaurant, and JFK's favorite!
Started off with raw oysters and Sam Adams

Grilled oysters were meh, Clam chowder: Amazing

Lobster Linguine, here we go... 
That's was good!

Next stop Giacomo's for pesto, mushroom ravioli

Annnnd dessert. (I'm ready)

Eating right at P.F. Changs. I know it's not fine-dining, but my fish was great!  

The day the Nor'Easter hit we stopped for lunch at Catalyst, where my Mad-Chef and good friend is KILLING IT!

Honey-glazed wings
My first Pate (sp?) was INCREDIBLE 

Seriously... look at this cod. LOOK AT IT!
Dessert. (I brought the cookies home for Wendy)

Back in NYC (New Jersey actually, across the George Washington Bridge) we had Ox-tail soup at a Korean place that stays open 24-hours just to slow cook it. It was alright, I guess.

This is my favorite Korean dish!
I have so much more to tell you about, like Thanksgiving with my Mad-Chef's family, but for now I will leave you with photos of driving home during the Nor'Easter!
It took 4 hours to drive to Boston, 10 hours to drive back! Enjoy! (I didn't)
Hey, the snow is sticking!

This isn't so bad...

Thank God I'm driving...
Aww... crap. Now we're goin nowhere!

3 hours, 6 stalled cars, and 3 miles later, there was this
 Hope you had a great thanksgiving! Later this week I'll try to throw up some photos from mine!
G'night! *Muah!*

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Me Home Again!

In Japan they have a saying "Ame-otoko" or "Ame-onna" meaning a guy or girl, respectively, who always seems to bring the rain.

I must be a Hurricane Guy.
14 months ago, almost to the day, I landed in LaGuardia Airport to move to New York, and the very next day, a hurricane came for the first time in 50 years.
13 months later, I moved into my second apartment, here in Astoria.
I wanted to show you the evolution of my new place, but first let me say:
Two days after Sandy, I am FINE, everyone I know, in fact is fine. The footage is devastating to watch, but I've been working to cover it for the last two days and about 20% of NYC is without power, the trains haven't run since Sunday, and the running water in my house is brownish, but I still have running water, electricity, internet, and life will slowly return to "normal" over the next few days.

Speaking of my house:
I moved in just over a month ago.
 It's still a work in progress, but I think it's doing pretty well now. I even had my first house party!
Anyway, less talk, more photos, and some more at the end about the Hurricane Sandy.
The New Place (freshly remodeled)

The New Place (freshly remodeled)

The New Place (freshly remodeled)

After a couple trips to IKEA, it was time to get started with power drill from Zach and power juice from the Wendy's uncle Kevin!

Bed complete, but more to go (right)

Isse put the fold-out to good use before returning to Hiroshima
New fold out sofa!

Everything starting to come together! 

Living room decorated, but it's missing something...

Oh yeah! Now we're talking! Collapsible beer pong table! 

Getting ready for my first house party with snacks and a new rolly-shelf w/wine rack!

Look at that sofa comfortably seating 5, with room for more! Good investment, for good friends.

Being a ninja and losing at beer pong are both exhausting! 
As promised, here are some hurricane-related photos. Yesterday I drove a reporter and cameraman all over Lower Manhattan where the power is totally gone (except Battery Park, oddly), and it was pretty tense driving down the West Side Highway and through the city with NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS (Robots, for my South African readers...

Crazy, right? 

If you click to enlarge this image, you can see the crane that got blown backwards, up the street from my office.
Setting up for a live shot from the roof

So you see everyone, I'm still doing great! Thanks to all of you who were worried, but rest assured, all is well, and the worst is past!

(Famous last words, right?)