Raves

This is the good stuff.

Here's my forum for showcasing the things I've come to truly enjoy. And kindly note the friendly yet stern logo above. If you think "politically correct" before you think "free speech," I can state with a fair degree of certainty you'll want to click another link.

... and don't say I didn't warn ya. :-P

 

Table of Contents del Spectaular-r-r-r-r

 

Travel
In a perfect world, credit card companies would waive my obligation to pay them one red cent. Thus I could journey in vulgar extravagance whenever I wanted. My tastes in travel have always been aboveboard, but the ideal vacation is the one where I can live like a king and still not be able to spend enough. Mazatlan and Bangkok are perhaps the greatest places on the planet for rest & relaxation at fire-sale prices ... but don't drink the water! Brush your teeth with beer. :-) There are some good affordable spots in Hawaii, too, if you can claim permanent residency there. Also if you can pronounce the word kama'aina. To date, I've visited the following places:

My two favorite travel book publishers are Insight Guides and Lonely Planet. Both offer insightful (get it? "insightful"? Ha!), no-holds-barred commentary on where you're staying.

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Reading
Okay, if you've gotten this far through my site, you must obviously like reading! Aside from living on my computer, the other half of my domestic life consists of voracious reading. If I'm not chafing my retinas on my computer screen surfing the Web for article after article (not picture after picture, heh), I'll have my nose in a magazine or book. I've been reading ever since I can remember; heck, I've even listed my favorite childhood book here!

Obviously my reading was shaped through what I read in school. That said, you'll note with unfettered glee that none of my old school textbooks made this list.

Magazines & Newsworthy Stuff Books (recent & all-time favorites) Miscellany
The Economist Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy" Tokyo Mainichi News "WaiWai" Section (whoa!)
Harvard Business Review Anything by James Clavell The Onion
World Press Review The Once & Future King Crutchfield (to read up on the latest toys!)
Windows/.NET Magazine Salem's Lot Playboy (great articles, both of 'em!)
Business 2.0 The Accidental Tourist Viz
Reuters Japanese Inn  
  The Diamond Age  
  The Vampire Chronicles  

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Golf
I have no idea why I'm addicted to golf. My early opinions were along the lines of, "Jeez, what's so great about trying to hit a little white ball across a park into a hole?" Then one day back in grad school, a friend of mine invited me to the driving range near where I lived. After two horrific swipes, I was completely hooked! What appealed (and still appeals) to me was the balance of force, accuracy, and timing. There's also something addictive about the feel of a good swing, particularly when it makes perfect contact with the ball.

The other stereotype shattered with golf was that, "It's just too damned expensive!" Well, sure, golf's expensive if you're a pro ... or a poseur. Otherwise, the golf industry has thankfully taken after the PC industry in the production of clone clubs. Sure, they swing like that $1,500 set of Callaway irons, but they're only $200! And if I get scowls on the course, screw it! I'd rather be hitting with knock-offs than invest in a totally overpriced brand name and not be able to hit with it. It'd be like I dropped $2,500 on new ski equipment but only used it to snowplow. Heck, this is almost sounding like a rant. :-P

Anyway, the very few places I've golfed thus far are:

HAWAII
Oahu Maui Kauai Hawaii (The Big Island)
Bay View Golf Park (Not Yet, But I Wanna!) Kiele Course at Kauai Lagoons (Not Yet, But I Wanna!)
Coral Creek Golf Course      

CALIFORNIA
Northern Southern
Green Hills Country Club (Not Yet, But I Wanna!)
Crystal Springs Golf Course  
Los Lagos Golf Course  
Summitpointe Golf Club  

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The Answer to World Peace
Ever sit back and wonder why there are different kinds of personalities, and why most can be categorized as either "nice" or "dickweed"? While most of us haughtily place ourselves in the former category, there are those of us who -- wittingly or not -- fulfill the latter with flying colors.

But fret not, dear reader, for I have the singluar most profound solution to world peace devised since Woody Wilson contrived his League of Nations (Pop Quiz: The League of Nations is the precursor to which organization today (Hint: It ends in "Nations")?).

So here we go. Upon graduation from high school, said graduate has the freedom to choose one year of:

Think about it.

And if our courageous graduate fails this pivotal year (yes, Virginia, there is a grading system on this one), s/he has to go through it again for another year. No candidate will have to take more than two years, partly because it would be hard to convince someone to change their ways if they're a genetic prick, but mostly because of how embarrassing it'd be to be in this course as a 20-year-old!

And if they're genetically incurable, there are special advanced courses available: Enjoyable Electro-Shock or Zanax Xanadu.

Oh, and the answer to the pop quiz is United Nations. :-)

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The Funniest T-Shirt Art I Ever Saw:

I once saw this on a T-shirt in Hawaii and couldn't stop laughing for weeks! Though I couldn't find that shirt again, I recreated it here.
(I'm going to hell for this, aren't I?)

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Big Fat Chompin' Stogies
I love cigars. I mean, I lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ove cigars! Why? Because one of my favorite relatives ("Uncle Ed" Petersen, my mom's great-uncle, actually) always puffed a Romeo Y Julieta and had no less than two in his shirt pocket at any given time. From what my mom tells me, both Uncle Ed & Aunt Grace drove down from Seattle to help my parents on the occasion of my birth. One morning when I was back at my parents' house from the hospital, my mom went to my crib but I wasn't there. So she runs into the living room, and there I am with Uncle Ed. He's trying to cradle me in one arm at the same time he's reading the paper and smoking one of his cigars!

So it only stands to reason that I associate cigar smoke with happy times. I've certainly known that fragrance long enough! :-) While in college, I smoked only a couple cigars, and they weren't much better than Swisher Sweets. But I can say with certainty that I entered the connoisseur's world when I signed the Opening Day guest register at The Cigar Club at 6:17PM Japan Standard Time, Tuesday 12 October, 1992 -- the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of cigars. Since then, I've amassed quite a repetiore while puffing premium puros. Here's my matrix of great smokes:

CUBAN
Fortunately, the only merchandise sold at The Cigar Club that Columbus Day was Cuban, so I could do absolutely no wrong in starting there. There's a one-word reason why Cuban cigars are perceived as the best in the world: potency. The weakest Cuban cigar I ever smoked still gave me three times the buzz of a Dominican. So you can imagine what the strongest one did for me. These days, with Cuban counterfeiting running rampant, it's getting more difficult to find the real thing. Until the US-Cuba trade embargo is lifted, I'd strongly recommend acquiring and enjoying Cubanos outside the United States.
Label Size Comments
Cohiba Robusto Named for the very West Indian tribe Columbus first encountered, Cohiba is regarded as the best Cuban cigar brand in the world. While I can't say as much for their Dominican label, the Cuban product is truly sublime. However, beware that even inhaling the incedental smoke from the cigar will produce a dizzying high.
Montecristo #4 With its Lonsdale size and smooth draw, this is my favorite readily-available Cuban cigar. This is a great after-dinner smoke, and will last forever (if you puff lightly). The buzz from this cigar is magnificent, but must be carefully controlled. Go too far and you'll pass out, guaranteed.
Flor de Rafael Gonzalez Lonsdale The original and best Lonsdale. The legend goes that the Earl of Lonsdale in England was offered this particular size as a gift by the Spanish Marquez Rafael Gonzalez, thus a legend was born. This is one cigar I won't forget. If I can find even one more of these, I'll be a happy guy.

 

DOMINICAN
There is a growing school of thought extolling the notion that Dominican cigars have surpassed Cubanos, myself included. When I want to truly enjoy a cigar, I don't want to find myself in a dizzying orbit halfway to Saturn. That's where Dominicans and Hondurans (see below) nicely fit the bill. The character of Dominican cigars covers the whole gamut of tastes from bland to bold.
Label Size Comments
El Credito Small Churchill El Credito is a second-label La Gloria Cubana, and one of the two greatest bargains in the cigar industry today. A very strong smoke, but equally matched in character and complexity. Smokes all the way to the nib.
Davidoff Anniversario #2

This was my first love. I remember buying these for the (then-) ridiculous price of $13/stick and savoring them on Waimanalo Beach in Hawaii when I went to grad school there. I smoked one recently, however, and could not believe how mild -- even bland -- it was. Perhaps it was testament to my developed taste in cigars. Still, a great smoke if you're just starting out.

 

HONDURAN
For a rich, robust, reeling smoke, go Honduran. While Dominican cigars exhibit more finesse and elegance, a Honduran cigar shows the savage origins of this now-civilized hobby. And for that, I am grateful.
Label Size Comments
Camacho Corojo Figurado This is the other bargain (see El Credito above), and I'd probably rate this the better one. After all, this was Winston Churchill's favorite cigar label. And though he smoked his namesake shape, the Figurado (shaped like a torpedo) is much more difficult to roll. The Corojo variety is one of the rarest and most difficult to cultivate, which is all the more enjoyable since Camacho uses 100% Corojo throughout their cigars. Other manufacturers can only afford the wrapper. And for the price, you simply can't beat this cigar!
Hoyo de Monterrey Rothschild, EMS Vintage 1959 About six years ago, Hoyo de Monterrey discovered a section of their warehouse filled with Corona-sized cigars that had been stocked there since 1959! Though they looked not unlike petrified turds, they were in remarkably good condition and were thus sold. When these originals ran out, Hoyo de Monterrey still marketed these as 1959 vintage, though obviously as a blend. That said, this cigar in its current form is one of the more robust smokes you'll ever have.

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Karaoke
Now here's something I've been doing since before it even became popular here in the United States! Years ago, on one of my many visits to Japan, my cousins once dragged me out to something called a "Karaoke Box": a complex with several small studios, each equipped with comfortable couches, coffee tables, and a premium sound system. There was even a "Batphone" where you would be immediately connected to the front desk to order food & beverages (with a far heavier emphasis on beverages, heh). The song selection in English was limited only to "Yesterday" and "Moon River". "Yesterday" was basically a video of a camera panning across a naked woman with the lyrics running underneath. Try singing to THAT! It was insanely difficult not to laugh as I tried singing that song. :-)

Today, I've adapted to the American karaoke format: Singing in front of everyone in a noisy bar. Fortunately, I can hold a note (I once belonged to the San Francisco Boys Choir). Unfortunately, there are myriad others who -- emboldened by elixirs -- feel that they themselves have miraculously developed a set of pipes. THOSE are the people I love to hear sing!

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