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    Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - (K) Humorous and thorough history and science behind ultrarunners and long-distance running
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    Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela - (K) An autobiography covering his childhood, years as a freedom fighter and incarceration. Inspiring and informative
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    The Chinese by Jesper Becker - (K&T) Modern history of my peeps, from the cultural revolution to the many failed economic and social attempts to move the country forward
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    Setting the Table by Danny Meyer - A "how-to" on hospitality and business acumen by the restaurateur behind such NY institutions as the Shake Shack and Union Square Grill
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    The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - Obama lays out what is wrong with the current government and how, vaguely, to change it.
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More Toilet Tales

I know, I know.  I thought I was done with my bathroom rants, but alas, I had forgotten about something.  Though I had my sights set on Europe, with all her nice bathrooms, I had forgotten about Zanzibar.  Oh Zanzibar, with your idyllic beaches and lovely people.  Oh Zanzibar, with your crappy hostels and filthy bathrooms. 

We had planned to meet up in Stone Town (aka Zanzibar City) with our friends Erica and Brian, who are finishing up a year of volunteering in Malawi.  Seeing that none of us are actually employed, we all agreed to stay at budget hostels.  Much to our dismay, we have learned that Zanzibar is surprisingly expensive. Whereas in SE Asia one can get a room at a guesthouse for $10, adding an extra $5 for various luxuries (such as a/c, pool, etc); in Zanzibar, a dorm room at a crappy hostel starts at around $12 a person.  And that’s without a private bathroom!  Are you beginning to see the source of my anxiety and distress? Continue reading

Diesel is a Saboteur, or the Return of the Diet

I have a nagging suspicion that Diesel is trying to sabotage me. Call me crazy, but I can’t help but think that he has been covertly working against my diet. Yes, that diet. My inkling that he was NOT the guardian of my diet, but instead, a saboteur disguised as my husband, started in Hiroshima. Because we are constantly traveling, our diets have definitely not been the healthiest, which is understandable when you can’t cook and are always eating on the street. But Japan is known for its healthy and delicious food, so I was hoping to get slim while eating well. In one of our important daily discussions of where to eat, Diesel insisted on going to Micky D’s. As you all know, I am obsessed with McDonald’s, but Japanese food is just about one of the only things that can beat this kind of greasy craving. And yet, I was constantly being tempted by Diesel, who decided we should definitely go to Micky D’s. The first night I was good, decisive. I declined. But the second night I caved in. And as I found myself standing in line to make my order, Diesel asked: “Are you not supersizing it?” WTF? What kind of question was that? That question was analogous to Diesel telling me to go out naked in the rain but not forget to put my beanie on so I don’t get sick. What kind of self-respecting husband willingly sends his own wife on a downward spiral of unrestrained gluttony? And as if it that wasn’t enough, there was the chocolate-covered Belgian waffle. Every time we walked through the main shopping area, Diesel would cheerily turn to me: “You want a waffle?” “You should buy a waffle!,” “This waffle looks good!” “You should get one for a snack!” “You should get one for dessert!” I mean, what part of DIET did he not understand? You gotta admit, the little guy was up to something. It was when we went back to the States that my suspicions were finally confirmed. On the first day we were in AZ, Diesel practically shoved me into his parents’ bathroom and ordered me to weigh myself. As I stepped on the scale for the first time in several months, I saw his big head right behind me, his eyes full of anticipation. And there it was, definite and undeniable: the gauge showed that I was over 10 lbs. heavier. And then, Diesel started dancing and laughing in what can only be described as joyous celebration. He was actually happy that I was fatter than him. He was actually happy that I was approaching my divorce weight *. I was shocked. How could a husband be like that? How can a husband so mercilessly mock his own wife? But I will show him and HE will be called a muffin top, or better yet, a Telletuby, whose belly is even bigger than a muffin top. And thus, the diet commences… * Before we got married we both picked a target weight, which, if ever surpassed, can be used by the other party as grounds for the dissolution of our marriage

Muffins and Cupcakes, or On Underwear – Part II

 Now, I am well aware that I have become a bit pudgy since the beginning of the year. And although I vehemently deny being a muffin top, as Diesel has pointed out, I do admit that I am on my way, preferring to call myself a cupcake top, slightly smaller than a true muffin top. Though I’ve tried to overlook the fact that my pants and tops have become tighter (“Water retention due to excessively high temperatures,” I’ve decided), there is one piece of clothing that never lies about my weight, a garment that is a true measure of my physical defeat. That garment is the underwear. At first glance, the underwear might strike you as a very friendly piece of clothing due to its forgiving elasticity. Because it stretches, it seems to almost make you forget about the extra poundage. But look closer and you’ll see the underwear marks imprinted around the perimeter of your much bigger gut. And by “you,” I mean “I.”

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Couchsurfing in Osaka with the Japanesy Kiwi

After our awesome experience couchsurfing with Laura and Heather in Kyoto, we decided to give it another go and contacted several people in Osaka. Oddly enough, most of the hosts in Japan are all white, since most of the Japanese in the couchsurfing network live with their families. So it came as no surprise that we ended up staying with a Kiwi named Tim. Tim was in his 20s and lived right in the middle of the city center, close to one of the popular “love motels (this one with neon signs of cute cows and hearts) and the train station. He was a “salary (sarary) man who had extended his stay in Japan after studying abroad there. As far as we could tell, he spoke perfect Japanese, had a Japanese girlfriend, loved those photo booths that make crazy cutsy sticker pics and had a furry toilet seat cover (which you put over the SEAT, not over the cover). He was pretty much Japanese, only white. Continue reading

From Africa, With Love

Hey! We made it to a new continent! We are in Zanzibar now after two long flights and a 2 day self drive safari through Kruger Nat Park where we saw so many amazing animals, I can’t really begin to explain. we saw lots of lions (9 total!), giraffes, got within 50 ft of a massive rhino, thousands of impala, hyena, zebra, etc. It was easily one f the top 5 highlights of our trip so far and once we find a decent internet connection, better functioning keyboard and upload some pictures, we will.

today we are waiting for brian and erica, some friends of ours from seattle (brian performed our wedding) who have been working in malawi, and just hanging out. The streets are very picturesque and the people are incredibly friendly and we just ran into some other people from seattle (of course they are like 20 years old).

Now where can i find a haircut around here?

Okayama

The closest big town to Kurashiki is Okayama and we decided to stay there for a couple days as it was good jumping off point for the contemporary art island of Naoshima, which we will get to later…

Transporting the Bride

Transporting the Bride

The bride - taken by a nice man we met in Okayama park. Stunning picture.

The bride – these taken by a nice man we met in Okayama park. Stunning picture.

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Kurashiki and Ryokan

After Miyajima, it was off to Hiroshima to catch the shikansen (bullet train) and head up to Kurashiki, a small town just south of Okayama. Most travelers running through Japan skip these little towns, which is unfortunate because they show a glimpse of an older Japan, away from the rush rush of cities like Tokyo or Osaka. It is more relaxed here, still with a focus on quality and process.

Kurashiki, and the region in general is known for its handmade Bizan pottery and there is no shortage of pottery shops selling one of a kind cups, bowls, mugs, etc that all have their own features and deformities. All pieces have a unique burnt orange glaze that symbolizes that this is not the machine made stuff generally found throughout the world.

We walked the canal in the center of town, wandering through different shops. I was looking for a coffee mug to keep and remind me of the place but I just couldn’t develop a taste for the material itself, with its rough glaze. Instead, we parked ourselves outside a shop and purchased a local microbrew and alternated between admiring all the handmade and hand-wrapped desserts for sale and people watching.

Kurashiki Kolsch

Kurashiki Kolsch

Tea

Tea

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