Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Things I did in Portland

View from Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden
Saturday Market, opens on Sunday too.

Definitely the biggest bookstore I've ever been in.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1200 miles later

I'm here at last. Spring is in the air!
I can't wait to start exploring the city tomorrow.

F#@%! Another ticket in CA!!!

Although end of the month might be a good time to buy a car, it sure is not a good time to drive one. Just as I got back onto highway 5 padding myself on the back for how close I’ve stayed to the speed limit thus far I saw a police car getting onto the entrance ramp behind me. I thought: you’ve got to be kidding me! I had my cruise control set to 80mph and the speed limit is 70! This has been my greatest attempt to respect the speed limit. But it didn’t matter. I got a ticket for driving 82. The police woman in her late 30s was not at all bad looking. Despite her friendly effort to start a causal conversation, I was in no mood to talk. As soon as I got the ticket I was gone. They can’t give me a ticket for going from zero to 70 in less than 10 seconds; I just have to suffer the rest of the drive. California and I are so over! I’ve been driving all these years, two cross country trips and no tickets. This is my second time driving in California and I just got my second welcome ticket. I have to admit that I probably deserved the first one but this one is totally uncalled for. I’m never driving in CA again! Arnold Schwarzenegger can do as many TV commercials as he wants to encourage tourism but it won’t be that easy to get me back there again.

Back on the Road Again

Time for 10 more hours of The Beatles... One of the best things I did in Vegas was to see LOVE, an imaginative Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage based on the muisc of The Beatles. The soundtrack really does a good job capturing the energy of the show. The transitions and flow of songs are absolutely flawless. Someone really knew what they were doing.


Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round...aaaaaahhhhhh

Because the wind is high it blows my mind
Because the wind is high......aaaaaaaahhhh

Love is old, love is new
Love is all, love is you

Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue.......aaaaaaaahhhh

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Williams, CA

I stepped outside of my room this morning and I could smell the trees and roses in the cool air. We are not in Vegas anymore! Williams is a small town off of highway 5 and historical highway 99. There are no traffic lights here and although everyone keeps saying that gas is going to surpass $4 per gallon this summer, the tiny town of Williams, CA is clearly ahead of its time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leaving Las Vegas

I left around 10:30 this morning. Leaving is something I have not perfected even though I’ve been doing it since I was a baby, going from city to city, family to family. I hated Vegas yet some how I still managed to find things to miss. It is true that often times we find the most precious things when and where we’re least expecting.

I’m glad to be on the road again feeling the pulse of possibilities. Driving alone across the country is a therapeutic pursuit I’ve been looking forward to do since my four-month stay in BA without a car. It gives me a sense of solitude, like a long walk in the woods. I can indulge my obsessive compulsive side by listening to the same song or CD for a 20-hour road trip and not feel bad for whoever else is in the car. There is no obligation to make conversations and I am free to think anything I want without worrying about answering such questions as “what are you thinking about?” The scenery stayed pretty much the same for the first 250 miles of the trip: desert and hills full Joshua trees. By mile 550 I was getting close to Sacramento, the City of Trees (like how Rochester is the Flower City), which very much resembles upstate NY. Still I felt like thousands of miles away from home. After a huge steak omelet at the IHOP with bunch of screaming kids I checked myself into a hotel in Williams, CA to rest up for the second half of the dive to Portland, just under 600 miles away.

Here comes the Sun
Here comes the sun, doot in doo doo, here comes the sun,
And I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, doot in doo doo, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

Little darling, the smile's returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun,doot in doo doo, here comes the sun,
And I say it's all right
Here comes the sun, doot in doo doo, here comes the sun,
It's all right

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mocha Brownies

2 counces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee (dry)
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Coffee Frosting
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon very hot water
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon milk

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Banana Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

1 cup of light brown sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium)
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar, bananas, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown and almost no indentation remains when touched in the center. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is it really that bad?

I try to stay positive and distract myself with going to the gym, baking and the bagel project. I even applied for an event coordinator/assistant job and got an interview at the Grand Lux CafĂ© inside the Venetian this afternoon. The Special Event Manager, Rich, told me that I was over qualified for the $10/hour entry level position and he’s afraid that I will only stay long enough until I find a better paying job else where. I had to beg him to even consider me but I really wanted to tell him that after not hearing a call back for hundreds of jobs I’ve applied in the last three years there is very little chance that I’ll get a job else where as soon as he hires me. After review my resume with me he jokingly asked, “wow, is the job market really that bad?”

I can fool a couple of people here and there but I can’t fool myself. At end of the day I’m still miserable and unhappy. I still hate being here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Motivational Speech

I got my semi-annual motivational speech today from John, the CEO of Dinning Alliance, a food distribution company that caters to independent restaurants. I’ve known John since the last election. Although we rarely see each other nowadays he manages to get me all fired up about job hunting every time we talk. I remember meeting him at the Bay Front Dinner for lunch after my first trip to Buenos Aires. I went home that afternoon and applied for 20 jobs. Of course, I never heard any call backs. But then come to think of it I’ve been applying for jobs for the last three years and never heard a call back. Now I’m still one of the 5% unemployed citizens in this country. Anyways, that’s just the kind of person John is, always alert for new business opportunities and think up ways to expand his company from Rochester to all of upstate NY, Boston and eventually other major metropolitan cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. I’ve always been impressed with his go-getter kind of attitude. Recently engaged to his girlfriend Ana, I joke with him once in a while and say, your kid is going to be so motivated that he’s going to making millions by the time he’s four years old.

When I saw John in Buenos Aires in January he saw how much I loved the city and told me to start looking for jobs in order to stay there. I got excited and printed out resumes that week to distribute to my English students.

After talking to him today I, once again, caught onto some of the can-do spirit. I went to companies to market my bagel delivery service and actually got few people interested. But the big business John had in mind was to come up with a competitor for Edible Arrangement, a fruit franchise that opened 819 stores in four years, with a more exotic name and competitive pricing. He was convinced that there is a big market for the product and he had the numbers to back it up. Recently his company signed a contract with the growing franchise to provide them with fresh produce at 10-15% saving. And here comes the ultimate talk to get anyone off the couch: “Go checkout their website right now and request a franchise package to find out everything you can about their company. I can show you their invoice so you know exactly what they’re buying and how much. Go to the store and buy one of the arrangements. Take it apart at home and figure out how to do it. I don’t care if you have to work for them for three weeks to learn or to hire a guy right out of the store. Take the fruits to the casinos and give away bunch of them for free and tell them to call you if they’re interested.”

So I got online, looked up Edible Arrangement’s website, got in my car, drove to the nearest one, picked up a brochure and that’s pretty as far as I went. I also went to Barns & Nobles to pick up the latest edition of Entrepreneur and Start Up magazine.

Maybe when John finally retires from his successful business he should travel around to college campuses to give motivational speeches.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Joy of Baking: Snickerdoodle Cookies

My third batch of cookies. This time I made almost four dozens Snickerdoodle cookies for the guys at Access. They need to have something to look forward to for putting in the extra hours on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No Longer a Baking Virgin

Although I throw couple things in the pan once in a while and call it cooking I’ve never baked anything in the oven before. I’ve been feeling inspired about baking ever since I saw the movie “Waitress”. For some reason the chocolate syrup banana pie really grabbed my attention. If I want to bring the guys in the shop cookies over the weekend then I better start with few batches for practice. First trial run: oatmeal cookies with raisins and pecans. They actually came out pretty good. I had one myself and brought a few for Todd and Susan when I met them for dinner with Robert at the Indian Oven on the corner of Sahara and Paradise. Todd ate the cookies before we even got to the restaurant but after drinking all day at the craps table I bet he would eat anything you put in front of him.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bagel Girls

I made dinner for Robert and Kyle tonight: salmon, pasta in tomato vodka cream sauce. The guys work for a company called Access, which builds custom display sets for trade shows and conventions. The shops open at 6am and ten-hour working days with no weekends are typical during the busy seasons. I half jokingly volunteered to make and bringing cookies for the guys on the weekend. They were thrilled. Then I remembered the story about the Bagel Man from one of my favorite books: Freakonomics.

If all great ideas have been thought already then it must be a good idea to follow them. The bagel man story initially started with a researcher in the defense department in Washington who brought in bagels for co-workers on Fridays. As more people showed up for the bagels, the guy started to bring in 15 dozens and sat up a collection box to recoup the cost. Eventually he quit his job and delivered bagels to few dozen companies all based on honor system. After 12 years the bagel man found people were on average honest 89% of the time. Things that influenced the rate ranged from the weather to the types of companies and security clearance. My understanding is that blue collared workers are less likely to cheap than people higher up on the professional ladder. After I told the story I realized that I’ve got the perfect scenario to run the same business here in Vegas. Robert suggested Bagel Girls and Bagel Girls is it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mt. Charleston

The idea of traveling somewhere, even if it’s only half hour away, makes me feel a little better inside. That’s how I know I’ve got a bad case of road fever. Besides, I miss trees and crispy cool air. Mt. Charleston isn’t exactly Yosemite or Sequoia but anything is better than the barren desert environment surrounding the Vegas valley.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Personal Crisis

People always say that time goes by fast when you’re having fun. Well, time seems to have slipped by pretty quickly even though I’m miserable out here. I know my last blog sounded pretty bleak but I’m getting by ok. Nothing bad happened and come to think of it I really don’t have much worth complaining about. Even though I don’t have my life figured out just yet I realized something important in the last 24 hours: I have friends. I might not have money, career, or even a home but I have friends and that makes all the difference in the world.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Breaking Point

What would you do if you wake up one morning and know that life isn’t exactly where you want to be? You’re in the wrong place doing the wrong things even with the wrong people. Would you get up and leave or would you stay and try to figure things out? I can’t afford to go but I can’t afford to stay either. Most Las Vegans live here because they make a living here. I know as long as I’m in this negative feedback loop I’ll never make any money here. Even if I did, no amount of money should be able to justify the way it makes me feel. Everyone has their limit, I’m about to reach mine. Never in my life have I felt more depressed and hopeless. If I’m the kind of person who would never put up with an abusive relationship why should I let the city jerk me around like this?