Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back to Boston

I will be back in Boston on Tuesday morning for a week of Sociology conferences. The first is the US/UK Medical Sociology conference for 3 days, then the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) where I will be presenting some of my research of menopause and HRT, and then the American Sociological Association (ASA) for a roundtable and some more medical sociology events. I am so happy that they are back in Boston so that I can visit one of my favorite places. After 5 years, I never got bored with it- I have to admit, that I don't miss the BITTER winters, but I do miss the city. Afterwards, my dad and sister are coming back to Boston for the last day of my conference and the next day, we are driving up to Quebec City to visit the beautiful city during its 400th anniversary. It will be a fun, but busy "business" trip. It might be awhile before I can blog again, but updates will be coming

Monday, July 21, 2008

Visit to the Center of the Earth and a Dark Morning

On Friday night, instead of battling crowds for Dark Knight and Mama Mia, we decided to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 3D. We got these 3-D glasses that we got to keep- and on the side, they say "Not Sunglasses- No UV Protection." So these are one time use only. It was definitely worth it to see it in 3D- it made the film much better than it was. Thus, we recommend ONLY seeing it in 3D. William thought that the film would be "campy" (his exact words) without the 3D. We both think that this is definitely the next direction for films to go.

On Saturday morning, we saw Dark Knight at our favorite $6 showing. I had thought it wasn't going to be very crowded since it was in the morning, but of course, it was since it is the biggest opening weekend yet. And it was very good- fairly long (2 1/2 hrs)- but extremely suspenseful. It was definitely "dark". William and I read an article evaluating the different "Batman's" over the years. They gave Michael Keaton a perfect 10 and Christian Bale a 9 since they hadn't seen the 2nd film yet. I would have to give both Michael Keaton and Christian Bale a 10. Val Kilmer was ok- probably like a 6, Adam West is about a 4, and as much as I like George Clooney, he is NOT a Batman so I definitely give him like a 1. He is just too jovial to be like Batman.

Charles aka "Chuckie"

besides the family reunion, we were able to see our first nephew, on both sides- CHARLES Christopher Kunz. Even before he was born, William has been calling him "Chuckie." William told Chris, his brother and Chuckie's father, that he would stop calling him Chuckie if Chris would stop calling William "Bill". Well, Chris was still calling William "Bill" even when we said goodbye so he is still "Chuckie."

And of course we gave him the perfect gift- with a Chuck E. Cheese gift card. We also gave him a special onesie since his uncle works for Google that says "Googoo". Chris took one look at it and said "thanks" because he didn't really read it but then was laughing when he really read it.
But, come on- we want the good stuff- the real Chuckie. And here he is- and like I said earlier, he is in the running to be America's next top model as evidenced here on grandpa's lap
This is his this thinker/"pensive" pose.
We love you little Charles and because we love you, we'll call you Chuckie to officially welcome you as part of the Kunz family!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kunz Family Reunion

Saturday was all day family fun at the Kunz Family Reunion. We first went to the Farmer's Market in downtown SLC across the way from the hotel. It was so awesome to see such a crowd supporting both Utah farmers and artisans.
Things have gotten to be so upscale and "green" that they have a bike valet- here is the area for it.
As we were walking around, we passed by Tony Caputo's stand where I saw my dear friend Vanessa who was visiting her boyfriend Andy who works there. She was literally "sweet" enough to take us over to the actual Tony Caputo's where she gave us the tour tasting of the chocolate items. Here is the official CHOCOLATE FILE. Vanessa is an amazing food goddess and she was able to explain to us the differences between all of these different chocolates. True good chocolates have their own distinct tastes and flavors to them, just according to the type of bean and where they are grown.
Some of our favorites were the madascar chocolate that has a fruity after taste. We also loved the white chocolate, and a fine milk chocolate. As well as a BACON chocolate. Yes, chocolate with bacon in it. It has one of the most unique tastes- the salty with the sweet. But, our FAVORITE chocolates are those handmade by Chocolatier Blue. He uses the freshest ingredients, many organic, to create these AMAZING chocolates. They have a rhubarb one, pistacio, and my favorite- PASSION FRUIT. He imports the passion fruits from New Zealand to have this out-of-this-world flavor. And Vanessa told us that he is moving to Berkley CA! WOOHOO!

I then ran into a few other friends who I knew when I lived at the Elms- Cris and Carrie. It is so funny that I ran into them at Caputos- it truly is such a small world.

We then had lunch with the Kunzes with more talking and fun. Some people went swimming, William and I decided just to talk with everyone.

We then went out to our uncle's mom's house for a bbq. Out on the patio waiting for the grub.
Some of the grandkids playing on the grass.
And of course, William is the instigator of the "fun." He took an empty water bottle, blew it full of air, and then twisted the bottom, and slightly twisted off the cap to have the cap fly off onto the roof. After EVERYONE saw this, all of the grandkids spent the rest of the evening making "bottle rockets" as William called them. Sorry for those that were stuck on the roof! Here's Aunt Bekky with little nephew Charles- aka Chuckie according to William. We're not sure what he is looking at, but he is definitely going to be "America's Next Top Model" because he would start crying, yet, when we pulled out the camera and started taking photos, he stopped and was ok. Grandpa and I were most excited about the ICE CREAM with yummy toppings- my favorite is the caramel.

Afterwards, a bunch of us went to Jordan Commons to see "Get Smart". It is crazy that when you buy your ticket, you also have to claim your seat. I mean, in ways it good and bad. We were lucky that there was still a big block of seats still together for us to sit. They were up in the corner though, but not too bad. The movie was actually really funny- and I hadn't seen very many of the original episodes but I still enjoyed it.

We are so BLESSED that we are part of such an amazing family and that we get to see everyone at least once a year. We love all of you!

Visit with the Family

Last week, William even took a day off work and we headed off to Utah to visit with both our families, but primarily the Kunz family especially since we haven't seen his parents for awhile since they live in Siberia. They brought back some special items for us to try. William looks pretty authentic- except for its strawberry lemonade :-)
These are perfect for a warm, Utah summer.
On Friday, we spent the day with William's parents and they took us over to a retirement community they were looking at in Springvalle. It was interesting for us because the larger, 2 story house was actually the least expensive. Only in a retirement community. Next, it was off to Ikea where we went and had such a fun time looking around. And got an ice cream cone for dessert :-)

Next, it was off to the Marriott Residence Inn in downtown SLC where we met up with the rest of the Kunz family. And the key to a Kunz family reunion is FOOD and FUN. I fed William grapes- well, more than he bargained for.
That night we stayed at my parents where they welcomed us with a Cookie Dough Delirium cake from Cold Stone. Well, actually my sister Sarah received it as a graduation gift and was kind enough to share with us
YUMMMYY- look just at all that ice cream deliciousness.
We then spent the rest of the evening playing an ever entertaining game of Scattergories. My mom even played with us because of William's creative answers. It makes me so happy that William has become an integral part of our family and that I am becoming part of the Kunz one :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SF Symphony in the Park

On Tuesday I was able to enjoy the San Francisco Symphony for FREE out the park in San Jose. It was a beautiful day- not too hot- and the music was great as well. And I even managed to find FREE parking. I was impressed that they played for 50 minutes and I really enjoyed their repertoire, including part of Dvorak's New World Symphony which is such a monumental pieceespecially the finale of the Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.
It really was a great way to end the performance. I also liked this neat church that was right nearby.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Boston Fourth

Boston is where the revolution all began and so what better place to celebrate our nation's freedom than here. They have a full week of special events called "Boston Harborfest". Some of these include a Chowda Fest where for a fee you can sample- and vote- and eat as much as you want of some of the best clam chowder in the city. A few years ago, I went on a special tour of Old North Church where I was able to go into the upper levels where the lantern was hung that sent Paul Revere on his famous ride.

On the evening of July 3rd, I would head out to the Esplanade at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River to hear the Boston Pops perform their rehersal concert for the 4th. They would practice the whole program minus the fireworks. They had some unique performers over the years such as David Lee Roth (Jump!) and Rockapella and as always, Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops. A few of the highlights of this concert is the patriotic sing along (I always sing my heart out) and the 1812 Overture complete with cannons.
They also hand out flags and programs and CONFETTI.
Then, on the morning of the 4th, I head down to Government Center to City Hall Plaza for the parade. Everyone is dressed up in authentic period costumes and they have fife and drums.
The parade marches along the Freedom Trail where they lay wreaths on the graves of the victims of the Boston Massacre and then they head back to the Old State House. I learned that it is better to just watch the parade and then head immediately to the Old State House to get a great spot for the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. The same man who is like 91 sings the National Anthem every year and he is just incredible- it is so moving. Then, they read the complete declaration- this year, I even received a free pocket copy.
Here's me with Lisa and Amy- my buddies for the festivities last year
Then, its off to the "Crade of Liberty" at Fanuiel Hall where the first meetings of the revolution are held. Every year they have a special guest perform an annual narration- the coolest was the "modern day Betsy Ross"- this man who designed our current 50 star flag design and submitted it as part of a class in high school and he got a B for it. His teacher told him that if he was able to get it accepted by the President of the United States that his grade would be raised to an A. Several years later, this man went back with a letter from the President and had his grade changed. It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and the works that you do. Here he is with the flag (sorry its kind of dark- we were inside and I didn't want to flash him)
After this narration, I would head out near the aquarium to see from a distance the 21 gun salute from the U.S.S. Constitution that goes on a short trip to make it the oldest operating active ship. It is pretty far away, but I'd rather see the other events than to head down to Castle Island for just that one part.
Waiting for the salute
Then, I would hit Quincy Market where I would have my clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boston Chowda. In this interm, what I would do varies from year to year. One year I went down to the JFK Museum and Library where I LOVE this quote
last year I went out to Brewster Island to see the lighthouse.
Along with some beautiful views of Boston
But, always in the evening, I would head to the Mass Ave Bridge where I would watch the most amazing fireworks display over the Charles River. The show lasts 30 minutes long and it choreographed to music and has some of the biggest and most unique fireworks in the world. You truly feel that you are being engulfed in these fireworks.
I have never felt such a great love for my country and how blessed I am to have been born in a nation where I experience such amazing freedoms. Thanks to all of those rebels who fought so hard to give this to us!

Not As Good As The Original

So have you ever been to a restaurant in another country that you just LOVE. The kind that you go back again and again and again. Its a place that you just RAVE about to others. William and I both have places like that from other countries and we were both SO delighted that they now had their counterparts in the U.S. For me, it was Wagamama's. I first went to Wagamama's on my study abroad in London and fell in love with it. Every time I am there, I make sure that I go. Even when Michelle and I were in Amsterdam, they had a Wagamama's there and so I introduced her to it and we ate there two nights in a row- that's how good it was. Needless to say, I was ECSTATIC to find out that the first U.S. location would be in Fanuiel Hall of Boston. I made William go with me after it had just opened and I raved and raved about how good it was. I was so sad that it wasn't nearly as good as the ones that I had been to. It was just disappointing because I was SO looking forward to it and I built my expectations up only to be crushed. I mean, it was ok but nothing like the European locations. This happened over a year ago in Boston.

And it happened on the other side of the coast tonight for William. We were out on an errand in Cupertino- a place that we had never been before. After the errand, William looks around and see's his most favorite restaurant from Japan- Yoshinoya. He was so excited when he saw it and so of course we went there for dinner. On the walk over, he raved about how wonderful it was- that on his trip back to Japan with his family, he introduced them to the beef bowl and they were converted. He said that every time they passed a Yoshinoya in Japan (they are everywhere like the McDonald's of the U.S.), his brothers insisted that they stop. William was so excited that he ordered 2 large beef bowls (one for each of us) and I felt so bad because he was so disappointed with it. And I have to admit, it was pretty bad because they used probably the worst possible grade of beef. William is so sweet though because he said that he would take me to Japan sometime so that I could have the good stuff. I think that is the solution for out of the country restaurants- we just need to go to the country of origin to get the good stuff :-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chili's Express Lunch

Ok, so I have to rave a bit about Chili's express lunch. For under $7, you get all you can eat chips and salsa, ceasar or house salad, and your choice of 3 soups- my personal favorite is the baked potato (the tortilla soup was too spicy for my liking). But it is SOO good and such a great value. The special lasts until 4 pm and so I went there twice in a one week period. It is similar to the Olive Garden lunch with breadsticks, soup, and salad but with a southwestern take. Give it a try.

Computer History Museum

On Saturday, William and I went to the Computer History Museum that is close to our house (like a 5 minute drive). It was FREE which is hard to beat. They had this cool replica of a machine imagined by Charles Babbage back in the 1800s and so they recreated it using his plans. It basically was a away to automatically get the derivatives of up to a seventh degree polynomial. We saw a video about how it was developed and how it functioned, but we had sadly missed the last demonstration for the day ;-( They had some exhibits detailing some of the old computer developments and how they had changed over time (I wish they had explained more about the how each one was actually different- eg, function- rather than just giving the historical facts).
They had a special exhibit about the development of computer chess and how a computer was able to actually beat a chess world champion back in 1997. The underlying processes are actually just calculating basic probabilities and options in moves- just at a super fast rate. The programmers also tested the program with other chess masters before hand to learn about even more options for moves. They also showed excerpts from the match where we were able to see the stress on the world champion's face.

They have another room containing "visible storage" of many of the old computers (like the HUGE ones that were first developed) and some of the different style monitors and also older calculators. They had an indepth tour that we chose to skip (which was a good thing) because it spent over an hour in this one room- which would have been way too long for us, even a computer nerd like William!). Again, the major complaint is that they don't really understand how these basic machines worked- I had to ask William to tell me the differences from today's computer and some of the basic premises behind them. It is crazy to think that this was how huge the computers used to be.
We might come back another time to have one of the shorter 1/2 visible storage tours and to see the machine in action but are happy that it is FREE.

4th of July

Even though William and I have been "together" for 2 fourth of July's, this was the first one that we spent together. The first year we were dating he was in CA doing his internship and I was in Boston and last year when we were married but I had to be in Boston for my course and my dissertation proposal and William had to be to work at Google. So it was nice for both of us to be together on one of my favorite holidays.

I have loved the fourth of July all growing up. It was such a special time that we would spend with my cousins down in Richfield where we would watch the parade in front of the Days Inn hotel and run for the candy and following the Coke trucks for blocks in a futile attempt to get a free soda. We would then swim at the Days Inn pool and have lunch there (the salad bar). Next, we would head up to the Greenwood's cabin at Fish Lake and play monopoly, go to the lodge, "hike", and sometimes ride horses.

But, my true appreciation for the 4th came after I lived in Boston. I missed the 4th of July my first year in Boston and I watched it on tv and was just bawling because I missed out. And then I made sure that I never missed it again because it became my FAVORITE time of the year. It brings to heart just how important our country is. (I will be doing another post detailing all of the great events).

So, this year, I was looking forward to having a new experience here in San Francisco but I saw this NOVA special on "Fireworks" and it featured Boston and it just made me miss it even more. I admit that I was tearful at the thought of missing out on this. Fortunately, I have the sweetest husband in the world who helped make this day special in a different way.

We went to our ward's pancake breakfast in the morning and it was super fun to be able to visit with so many of our friends. The weather was looking very cloudy and dreary but it fortunately cleared up by the time we left.

Next, we hit HANCOCK at the movie theater and we LOVED the first half of the show (so hilarious because Will Smith does an amazing job of being an "anti-hero" and then trying to be reformed) but then, the second half just turned so WEIRD and it seemed like they were trying way too hard. The highlight of the film though was the POPCORN. William told the girl who was getting our popcorn that he wanted "LOTS of butter". And finally, someone took this request seriously. She was probably squirting butter on it for like 5 minutes. There was so much that about 20 minutes into the film, the popcorn started dripping out of the bag and some got on William's jeans. But the popcorn had butter throughout the whole bag so much so that we smelled of butter afterwards.

Next, we had the quint essential American 4th of July experience- a barbeque. We got together with our neighbors the McPhie's and their family as well as the Johnson's. They installed some bbq grills and tables in our complex so it was nice that we didn't have to go very far and could run home in case of something we forgot. After all of the popcorn, we thought that we would just bring 1 chicken breast (that and previously, neither of us have had very good self bbq'ed chicken). However, I don't know what was different (maybe the briquets? because we didn't marinade it or put anything on it) but this chicken was SO good! We went and got another piece and grilled it because we had to take advantage of the hot coals. There was also chips, this incredible balsamic vinegar pasta salad (I had more than my share), hot rolls, and watermelon. And the company was even better. We later spent time chatting by our pool (William and I were too full to get in).
Dyan was our resident grill master
Then we headed off to Google where its benefits were awesome as we were able to park for free to walk only a short distance to Shoreline Ampitheater for the "22nd Annual 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular." We went a little early (the performance started at 8) and so we were able to go and visit some of the business booths in that we were able to get free bags of chips and free mini boxes of cereal. The best part is that they had a table where you could register to VOTE! We were so happy because I had tried to register with the DMV when I got my license but it never happened! :-( So at least now I am set for this upcoming election.

Our seats were pretty good- in the upper section just off center. I had wanted actual seats for the show- not lawn ones because they can sometimes be uncomfortable. Here we are waiting for the concert to begin

The San Francisco Symphony performed an amazing FULL concert for us. They began with "Willima Tell Overture" which is perfect to get the show started because it truly brought the excitement into the crowd. Then then did some other American classics such as Copland's "FanFare to the Common Man" and "American Salute" by Goud. They did a tribute to Abraham Lincoln called "Lincoln Portrait" again by Copland and they had Lauren Bacall do the narration. I was extremely disappointed with this because it was obvious that they hadn't practiced it together enough because Lauren Bacall would get to a key point and she would say "He said..." and then would pause for a long time while the orchestra caught up. It really detracted from the message being presented which was disappointing. We were so glad that we had brought our Google blanket because it was starting to get chilly due to the wind. Look at how beautiful the tent was during intermission
The second half of the concert was great in that they were by more contemporary American artists. They played John Williams' "Summon the Heroes" and they showed images from many different Olympic games over the years (very timely considering the upcoming Beijing Olympics). Next, they played James Horner's "Theme from Apollo 13" and they showed images from the actual flight which made it even more poignant. The "James Bond theme" as well as the "Rocky" concert suite were also played and it was interesting to hear them being played by an orchestra. Finally. they rounded out their main performance with "Superman" by John Williams.
Then came my favorite part- the orchestra performed 3 numbers that the fireworks were choreographed to. It truly was so moving to hear the live swells of the orchestra correspond with an influx of fireworks. They performed "Star Wars" and then a middle number that we forgot and finally, the 1812 overture. It truly was so so incredible and unforgettable experience.
Too bad the tower partially blocked our view
I can't believe that William captured this at the right moment
The traffic was at at standstill so we decided to "hangout" at Google until the crowds died down. Apparently, this was the plan for some other Googlers who attended the fireworks, but there were some others that seemed as if they were just there hanging out- playing pool, Wii, or using the massage chairs. I actually don't like the massage chairs- they are too hard and somewhat painful (even on the weakest setting). The highlight of the evening is that I beat William in a game of fooseball :-) I also got to see some areas of Google that neither I nor William had seen. They have their own store where you can purchase Google apparel, a book lending library with titles about computers and business, a giant hand mit,

some old school computer games on the wall
and even a giant pirate lego.
How happy I am that I live in a country where I can enjoy such a wide variety of activities all in one day- thank heavens for independence!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chihuly at the De Young

So, as I have noted earlier, I am a big fan of master glass blower Dale Chihuly. And I am even happier after attending his exhibition which is his "most ambitious installation to date" at the De Young Museum of Art in San Francisco. I went with my friend Dyan and her cute daughter Nora whom loved the art and just kept staring at it with wide eyes. We arrived at the museum at 10 am and it was already packed with people- and many more waiting in line providing evidence of just how interested people are in his work. And fortunately, they do allow photos without flash. I think that they came out fairly well although like much art, they are better seen in person.

"Glass Forest #3". What a striking piece to begin the exhibition- I love that he uses black reflecting mirrors so much in his work because it truly magnifies the beauty of the pieces, creating an even more dramatic effect. The cool thing about this project is that these long tubes are made by him standing on a ladder and dropping the glass from it- the bowls on the bottom are from where the glass pooled.
This was my favorite of his collection of vases incorporating nature from the Venetian series.
Imagine a room filled with these creations and you have the "Persians"
This is part of the "Tabac Basket" series, inspired by Native American woven baskets into glassware. I love that they placed the patterned fabrics behind them.
And welcome to the "Macchia Forest"- I just love the luminescent glow

Here's one of the boats filled with marbles, reminiscent of what he loved to play with as a child. I preferred this boat to the crazy things-sticking-out everywhere boat next to it (just too much)
Here I am standing underneath looking up at this huge chandelier that could DEFINITELY poke both my eyes out!
And his preliminary sketches are works of art in their own right

This is my favorite piece from his "black" series where he painted the outsides black and the insides different colors. I LOVE the fluidity and movement of this piece and how the colors enhance that.
This was one of my FAVORITE rooms- its called the "Persian Ceiling" Chihuly created it so that the viewer would feel like they are in an underwater world. It was so neat- look at all of the beautiful shadows it produced
And the grand finale of "Mille Fiore" which is a stunning garden of glass. (I totally lucked out with this shot because there were so many people that I thought I would get one of them in the foreground.
Here is his installation outside of the museum- the "Saffron Tower". It would look much prettier with a background of blue sky but gray fog is much more appropriate for San Francisco.

And my passion for appreciating art also extends to art books- particularly the ones that are appropriate for a "coffee table" (those that are hardback with large color prints) and of course I bought the exhibition catalogue and am excited to learn more about his work. We watched a few short minutes of a documentary about his glassblowing and his team of artists and so we are going to rent some of the films to learn/appreciate more about the whole process that creates such amazing works.