Entries from April 2010 ↓

Flicks & Video >> Kayaking & Deep Canyoning Wanaka, New Zealand

Lake Wanaka:  Where the “leisure” rowing excursion turned into life or death (kinda)… Well, umm ridiculously fierce winds picked up and turned our kayak multiple times while we were deep out into the lake, causing us to battle Mother Nature for our safe return…. and we succeeded with great teamwork and tired arms!

And super awesome deep canyoning … seriously SUCH A WORTHWHILE ADVENTUROUS EXPERIENCE!!

A pretty damn good shot of Lundy jumping under a waterfall with rainbow.. (Yeah, I was jealous…and still am…. trying to get over it…. )

and here’s a video clip of yours truly sliding down a 10meter waterfall… at pretty much a 45 degree angle….

Our new friend and great company on our wet n’ wild deep canyoning experience, Jana, originally from Germany, currently living in Mallorca……

along with our awesome guide, Scott…

And the full reel here for ya’ll to enjoy!…

. . don’t burn the day. .

Dig A Little Deeper

Midterms are next week, which means I gotta show a movie as I conduct them individually outside the classroom. Sooo I decided to preview Disney’s latest, The Princess and the Frog, to see if it’d be appropriate/entertaining enough for my kiddos. I’d have to say, it’d probably be a bit slow and too much verbage for my kids to understand, but nevertheless, the story carries out a great message, that I wanted to share…. as sung by character, Mama Odie  in the flick, from song, “Dig A Little Deeper“…..

You got to dig a little deeper
Find out who you are
You got to dig a little deeper
It really ain’t that far

When you find out who you are
You’ll find out what you need
Blue skies and sunshine guaranteed
You got to dig (dig)
You got to dig (dig)

Enjoy the video clip here:

. . don’t burn the day. .

Not The Shangri-La, But…

An evening of delicious dishes at an ethnic XinJiang restaurant (close by, in my hood).

(A tad late with this post by a couple weeks, but whatevs!)

About Xinjiang:

With borders of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan,Pakistan and India, Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the PRC. “Xinjiang” literally means “New Frontier”, a name given during the Qing Dynasty, and is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic group include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol. (Some of you may recall the recent “drama” btw the Uyghur and Han….. umm yeah.)

So anyway, what called for this gathering of friends, seemingly resembling the UN, was the arrival of Kym’s sister, Alicia (Chi’town & NY reppin!) So without further a’do….here we are under the umbrella of friendship and feastin!….

There’s always the same dude working up the slammin’ lamb and chicken kebob grill just to the right of the restaurant’s entrance. Mind you, this place is always BUSY BUSY BUSY every night of the week; 80% of the time, you’d see belly dancers or someone celebrating some festive occasion up in here! Andddd it’s a great place for large groups! I’ve gone with a good group of 8-10 folks, ordering 10-12 dishes + Xinjiang beer, and the bill would only come out to approx. $8usd per person!

Sisters, Kym & Alicia in Shanghai!

Alan (another ABC who has moved to the ‘Hai last year), handles the important task of ordering…

Is it me or does Kym look like she’s a little too excited to receive her bowl of white rice?

Zia = FOCUSED, mannnnnn!

Damnnnnnn Alicia!!!!

NY to SH Express….

Andddddd Alicia just HAD to take a picture of this random dude who sat at a table next to ours. Thankfully, he spoke English (from SF) and had a great sense of humor to allow for Alicia to snap a photo of him in his Google shirt… in China…The Irony. Get it???!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Everything in Time


Now the last two years out here, gallivanting through parts of Asia has not been too shabby of a deal, but there are times when I DO wish I could be teleported back to the West, in a snap. And here is one of them:

This Friday, April 16th, down the street from my old JO, at The Tribeca Grand, one of my most favorite people AND music spinsters in the world, DJ CENTER is celebrating his loooooong-awaited, MUCHO anticipated sophomore album release entitled, Everything in Time. Ohhhhhh, how I wish I could be there! (((jumping up and down)))

So, in lieu of my physical presence, I HIGHLY recommend ya’ll to show my homie some love and support in the way I would, if I were there now in the most concrete of all concrete jungles in the world….for an evening of GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD MUSIC. GOOD VIBE. GOOD TIMES. GOOD LOVE. GUARANTEED. Ahhhhh I missssss my NY Creative & Music Heads!!!!!! Tell him I sent you and take note of his reaction for me. :-)

About Everything in Time:

DJ Center’s “Everything in Time” is a global soul record bringing back a low-end theory and warmth thatʼs been absent in music as of late. Itʼs a record for a generation raised on a foundation of Hip Hop and Jazz, but having grown up with a global scope and broader musical palate.

On April 16, DJ Center with friends Gretchen Parlato on guest vocals, DJs Ian Head & my other music head homie, Ant Demby and special guests will be playing at the Tribeca Grand celebrating the release of the album. The album’s incredible cast includes Oddisee, Zaki Ibrahim, Gretchen Parlato, Middle Child, Renee Neufville (of Zhané) and Samia Farah, amongst others.

As the songs unfold on “Everything in Time” youʼre enveloped in lush piano chords, warm bass lines, boom-bap drum patterns, flying tambourines, and soaring horns. The guests Center chose for his album are the perfect marriage to every song. The record features everyone from favorites like Oddisee and Zaki Ibrahim, to the up and coming Gretchen Parlato (whoʼs worked with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding) and Samia Farah (whoʼs dub reggae and jazz vocal styles give her an unparalleled uniqueness). The icing on the cake is the remix of “Tout Passe” contributed by the incredibly talented Waajeed of The Platinum Pied Pipers.

And if all that does not tempt you enough…. in a recent email exchange between myself and Center himself, he writes: (just replace the nickname, “mojo” with my first name and it’ll make more sense…)


So wish you were here with us!!!! This is THE epitomy of a Mojo event/vibe, and it celebrates years of labor. Big thank you for the support along the way, YOU KNOW what it took….

Got if folks??!!?! MYYYYY kinda vibe. So you KNOW the night will be right! (And for those feeling the weight of the economy… well sheeeeeeeit, there’s open bar svedka and a room filled with beautiful people inside and out.. what more do you want??!! GO TO THIS.)

Official NYC Release party for ‘Everything in Time’

Friday April 16th
*** DJ Center & Friends ***
Gretchen Parlato on guest vocals
DJs Ian Head & Ant Demby
+ special guests

The Sanctum @ The Tribeca Grand Hotel
2 Avenue of the Americas at White St
Doors: 10PM

Open SVEDKA Bar 10-11PM
*** FREE with RSVP to: rsvp@pushthefader.com

To learn more, view the clip below on Center’s insightful take on making two of my most favorite things: music and food!

The Making of “Everything in Time” from DJ Center on Vimeo.

PS. PROUD OF YOU E!!!! Much love from the ‘Hai!! :-)

and oh my favorite track: “In A Song” ft. Middle Child…………… CAN’T get enough of the sexy throwback spice on this one!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

The Expo is Coming! The Expo is Coming!

WHAT Expo? – you may ask.

THE WORLD EXPO is the answer.

WHAT IS THE WORLD EXPO? – you may ask.

Read below for the answer:

The World Expo is a large-scale, global, non-commercial Expo. The hosting of the World Expo must be applied for by a country and approved by the international World Expo committee. Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicise and display their achievements and improve international relationships. Accordingly, the World Expo with its 150-year history is regarded as the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology.


Countries that have dough, pride, a sense of techy-cool and a big side of pompousness, gather and show off their goods ala Worlds’ Fair style.

WHEN is it? – you may ask.

MAY 1 – OCTOBER 31, 2010 is the answer.

WHERE is it taking place? – you may ask.

SHANG’HEEEZY is the answer!

I got my ticket yesterday, courtesy of my school. (Hooray for perks!)

Anddddd the Shanghai government was so kind to extend our upcoming 3-day weekend Labor Day holiday to 5 days– (April 30 – May 4)  just for the city of Shanghai, as a “thank you” for putting up with so much, during the city’s overhaul in preparation for the Expo. (Yay! More metro stations!) How nice! (Sweet for me…because while the city handles the opening days of visitors at the Expo… I’mma be off to Seoul as my next travel destination. More on this in a later post….) Andddd on top of extra days off,  Shanghainese residents will also be receiving a free subway card and a free Expo ticket.

So there ya have it folks, I’mma be going to the The World Expo in Shanghai (pretty nifty to add to my “Things I’ve Done” List)… just don’t know exactly when. But being that rumors are being spread of % of unfinished constructions of pavilions, I’m in no rush to check “piles of concrete and pipes.” So in the meantime, I’ll onto my ticket:

and anticipate on being surrounded by some creatively superb architecture…eventually, such as:

China Pavilion

UK Pavilion… made with rods that sway with wind….. “hair-like” effect!

and others I’m not sure of yet (cough.still under construction and the Expo is a couple weeks away.cough.)

For more info and designs, click here.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Flicks >> Sky Dive Wanaka, New Zealand

Looking back…. this is when I officially deemed myself  ”CERTIFIED CRAZY!!!”…. But, I’d do it again!  :-D

Getting ready for take off…

My awesome tandem instructor, Eric….and elevating to our mark of 12,000 feet off the ground followed by a glorious 45 seconds of free fall!…. Pics were taken by another skilled jumper, Mac.  Unfortunately I’m unable to load the video clip online.. so ya’ll will have to wait til you see me in person…or schedule a skype date with moi to view. Trust me, the footage is absolute awesomeness!!

And we meet again…

And the full picture reel… enjoy!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Cocoa & Fig Retail Shop Opens!

This announcement is long overdue! But hey! As they say….  better a tad late, than never!

Just about the same time I had initially packed my bags and did the whole “Peace Out, NY and America!” thang back in ’08, my bro and his girl had been whisking around the idea of combining their culinary and business fortes to jumpstart a catering business. Amazingly and not so surprisingly enough, the Minneapolis-based biz, Cocoa & Fig has done tremendously and tastefully well (as ya’ll have been able to follow with a few choice posts I’ve shared in the past: ahem, my favorite is still the flip flop cake!!) and well……. drumm roll…….

Cocoa & Fig has expanded their business to include a line of retail space – opened this past February! YAY! HOOOOORAY!! WHOO HOOOO!!

Now, along with placing catering orders for special events, you can visit and purchase their delicious and high-design treats and pastries at their retail shop, located in the swanky, upscale shopping center, Gaviidae Common in Downtown Minneapolis – anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

Gaviidae Common
Skyway Level, Saks Wing
651 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402


Store Hours:
Monday – Friday: 8 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: closed

I mean look at them in action…and we can also play a game of “Where’s My Bro?” in this pic..heehhehe:

For more of their most up-to-date mouth-watering creations and awards, check out their blog here. Here’s a mini-taste of their latest big winner: Chocolate Valrhona Cupcake:

Scrolling through the pics make me salivate every frickin’ time! Enjoy!…and kudos J&L!! SFC! SFC! SFC! :-)

And if all of that is not enough, read what Yelpers are saying here!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Here’s to ‘Hai Times

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a real blabber blog on life and times in the ‘Hai. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far as saying that I probably have done so, less than a handful of times this sophomore year in the shangheez… much the opposite from my freshman year when every little turn I made was accounted for, captured on and shared with ya’ll thanks to my canon. There’s no real one, particular reason for my less frequent recaps, but prolly just a combination of reasons – that comes along with a bit of complacency in a city that is no longer as shiny and new as it once was… when routine kicks in a tad, quiet personal growth time and just a tad bit more lazy. ha.

In any case, I just got in from a wonderful dining experience at prolly my new favorite restaurant in town, called Lost Heaven. First, it had been a while since I’d been around the famed riverfront, Bund Area (last time was last year…and construction had started)….. I was pleasantly surprised with how revved up The Bund had become and awesome porter (spoke English)  that met me about 25 meters to bring me to the restaurant…. Walking in, upon open space and big smiles from staff… conjured up a  warm, calming excitement within me. I had wanted to check this restaurant for a while (namely a couple weeks ago when I was invited by some friends, but then got hit with food poisoning. ugh) So, I was more than thrilled to be able to redeem myself this time around with some friends, Wan Hing (ABC) and Mike (Scottish). Once we all checked in, we were led upstairs to the fabulously decorated restaurant and were met by some real on-point staff… and service was fast!  For the ambience, decor, location, (alotta foreigners up in there), decent pricing and slammin’ Yunan region tastes…. Lost Heaven got major thumbs up all around our table! Owners also are responsible for a couple other spots in town: romantic Coconut Paradise for some Thai food as well as the original Lost Heaven closer to the center of the city. I’ll have to check the original location to complete it all…..and most likely return to the Bund location with my camera to share with ya’ll!  Plus! Weather will be nicer and I’ll snap some flicks of the recently opened, new 2,000 meter promenade. :-)

Coming home in a taxi, zooming through the newly paved streets around The Bund and down the expressways that give highlight to the truly awesome urban sprawl of Shanghai Lights at Night….. I ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL, find myself in great awe of this giant of a city…each and every time I zoom thru in a cab.  I love cab rides at night. To me, the city comes alive at this time. (Not that it’s completely dead in the day… night time just stirs up a totally different vibe… as does with most big metropolises.) It never ceases to amaze me of how international, urban and modern this place is at times…. especially when fine lines of the rich and poor are found when frolicking the streets and at each corner turn. Plus, on the day to day, for the most part, I’m surrounded by “local life,” and it’s not until I’m outta work-mode where I venture into areas of well, more affluence. I say all this because it’s been 2 years for me here…..and wow, I’ve seen alotta changes. No, I’m not trying to sell ya’ll on this city … but it’s truth. This city REALLY is in its emergent stages and I know that one day in the future, I’ll be looking back at my ‘Hai times with some real “high,” fond, memories. (I’ll admit, on certain days, it’s hard to believe this…but that goes with the ups and downs of living…. well just about any place in the world.. including any place in the States. I’ve said this before: I know I had my fair share within my decade in “the greatest city in the world, NYC.”)

I mean, shoot. Last week, a good bud from last year, Ralph (ya’ll may remember) came back for a quick visit and we reminisced greatly on all the damn good, crazy times we shared in tackling this beast of a city…from our initial days being majorly lost in translation, culture shock and establishing our crew with Eugene, Max and Cubes and our very awesomely memorable Summer ’08 together,….. to how much we had learned and developed by the end of our one year together. Trust, we learned lessons that no professor or lecturer (I don’t care how many degrees/credentials he/she holds) could teach; Giving light to: “Experience is the Best Teacher!”

Back in the States now, R listed all the things he had missed of the ‘Hai…. the little things that you would see out here that you wouldn’t see ever in the U.S., ie. a man hauling a washing machine on the back of his bike, crossing a 10 lane crossroad during evening rush hour, ha! Having R back in town was refreshing in ways that allowed me to really stop and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of living out in the Wild Far East.

Tonight, I raise my glass to all of my high times in the ‘Hai to date…Lost Heaven included! (and I’ll try to carry my camera more often..)

. . dont’ burn the day. .

Crazy About Cotton!

It’s been a HUGE feat in getting my 3rd graders in a groove of any sort…and I’m proud to say that they showed themselves a bit with their first “major” English project  - ever!  After a couple, intense weeks of learning the how’s, why’s, effects of cotton, cotton gin + a great deal of hand-holding, the kiddos graduated to creating a classroom storyboard on “The Wonderful World of Cotton.”  Now, being that I have two classrooms of Grade 3 students, I decided to turn it into a slight competition between the two classrooms to really push emphasis on neat presentation, creativity and proficiency in speech via oral presentations. Both classes had the same assignment: each student was held responsible for creating a poster-size presentation of a corresponding page number from the story, “The Wonderful World of Cotton.” And well, rather than bore you with the details, take a look at mine as I showed off my skills as an example for them to follow:

Now take a look at the winners: Grade 3, Class 1 Students’ works. They were rewarded with movie/snacks:  (I’m not a complete grinch of a teacher, the other class got a movie… just no snacks… )

Showing of a classic book, “Teacher from the Black Lagoon”….

And, “Where The Wild Things Are”…..

Class 1′s finished storyboard, put up by Aaron, Justin & Teresa:

And here’s a hodgepodge of some close-ups shots of works from both classes:

. . don’t burn the day. .

Abuelita, Maca’cita!

Weather has been shotty here. One day = thumbs up, another day = thumbs down….and unfortunately, my mood is heavily influenced by these patters in the air. But……. there’s one thing that can certainly flip my mood switch from down to up and that’s care packages in the mail!

This one’s the latest from my great maca of a friend, Ana in the City of Angels! It came midday …and it came as a total surprise!  Back at the top of ’07 when my infamous “Emancipation of Mimi Tour” got its kick start, I was welcomed by Ana and her mom in their LA home…. where Mama V  spoiled my tummy with 3 pots full of Mexican food staple, tamales: chicken, beef, vegetables respectively….. with a cup of hot chocolate on the side. But let me tell you, this was no regular hot chocolate!  It was awesomely rich with a cinnamon spice!!  SOOOO GOOOOD and ADDICTING!  Up until a few days ago, I had wondered what this “special hot cocoa mix” was…. until at last, Ana surprised me with a jiffy package filled with Abuelita Hot Cocoa Mix!

About Abuelita:

Abuelita is a brand of chocolate tablets, or powdered mix in individual packets, made by Nestlé and used to make Mexican-style hot chocolate. The name is an affectionate Spanish word for “grandma” (literally translated as “granny”).

The chocolate usually comes in hexagonal tablets that can be split into equal wedges, and then melted into milk. The drink can also be mixed with spirits such as Kahlúa. The chocolate is made of sugar, cocoa and cinnamon. Abuelita has been a stapleMexican product for more than 60 years, and can be identified by its unique taste and packaging.

I highly recommend!!!!  I’d love to chit chat some more… but I really gotta make a store-run for some milk and start whisking for this one! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!! Thank you Maca!! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .