I like cruising. I like that you only have to unpack once and yet travel to several destinations. I like that your food is included and it's pretty damn good food at that. I like that you can magically wake up in a different city or country every day.

I also like to think of it as travel window shopping.  If you have never been to a selection of countries, you get a small taste of them for a day and then can decide if you want to return to visit them more in-depth in the future. This what we did on our honeymoon cruise, returning to Cozumel for a week several years later.

What I do not like about cruising is getting motion sick, which I have done via all methods of transportation my entire life.

In Europe, though, you can go luxury river cruising! Rivers, the cruising versus the white water type, don't make you motion sick! And because the ships are long and narrow, every room has a view. No inner cabins for the claustrophobic here!

One of my favorite memories of going to the Philippines was going to the food courts they have in shopping centers.  These aren't like American food courts with McDonald's and Sbarro.  These are similar to ones you find throughout Asia where individual vendors have small stands selling their specialty.  There's a grandma over here making rice cakes and over there is an auntie who has special skewers. The next stall over is a girl making halo halo or selling pastries.  Each one is independent and as close to homemade as you can get in a shopping center.

When I read last week in the Bee that Allen Pierleoni had gone to Koreana Plaza for the International food court, I had to check it out too.  I really hoped it might be similar to the kind I remembered. It wasn't, but it was still pretty good.

To find Koreana Plaza you need to get off at Zinfandel and onto Olson Drive. If you are familiar with the Target at Zinfandel, then KP is behind the Target. The next thing to note is the size of the place.  This picture above, it's only a third of it.  Basically it takes up the space that three supermarkets or large stores would occupy!

I can remember the drought of 1976-77, even though I was living overseas at the time. That's because the summer of 1977 my family was touring the Southwest National Parks - Zion, Grand Canyon, etc. I even remember we were somewhere in Arizona when we went to see Star Wars.

During our travel through California I can remember the signs at a few motels that told us to reuse our towels and not flush unless we did number 2.  I guess the saying is, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." 

I've carried that with me my entire life. I appreciate the need to conserve water. Maybe it's because I lived in the desert or maybe because I've traveled the world and seen where clean water is not readily accessible.

So I might be extreme in my water conservation during this drought. But since I live alone, I can be without annoying anyone in my household. Please know that most of this is done when I am alone and that when I have guests, I curtail these practices, for the most part.

1)  I've practiced the "If it's mellow" thing my whole adult life.  I do not flush every time I pee. Rest assured, this will not be the case if you are visiting.

Hallmark leaves Country Club Plaza and the question is raised - Is Country Club dead? Radio Shack is closing 1100 stores. Staples is closing 225 stores. Shopping malls have huge vacancies. What is happening?

It was made clear to me in an interview I saw on a news show with a retail expert. He explained that no new shopping mall had been built since 2006. Malls across the country are struggling to keep or attract tenants. We see it all the time as we drive down the road - large numbers of vacant storefronts and dying shopping strips and malls. 

The reason for the closing of brick n mortar stores is the ever increasing reliance on internet shopping.

This worries me because the fact is, retail provides a huge number of jobs, especially at the lower end of the pay spectrum. Retail provides great opportunities for part-time work or secondary incomes. Like fast food, they are great first jobs for young people. Retail jobs are immensely important to the local economy. 

In fact, local retail jobs also are important for the taxes of the City or County they are in. The sales taxes of retail purchases fund our social services such as police, fire, schools, and more.

It's a troubling trend. Understandable, yet troubling. After all, I love using Amazon myself. And if you have Prime, the shipping is not an issue anymore. It's now all a matter of convenience.

The brick n mortars can't compete with the low prices that are possible by online comparison shopping. And if you can't find something locally, of course you rely on the internet. 

Is it any wonder the economy is slow to recover?

I have no solutions or suggestions myself. But I thought it was important for people to begin thinking about. What are your thoughts and what can we do with all those empty storefronts?

Update: Discovery of website Deadmalls.com.

sigh. I forgot this somewhere.

If pork is your favorite meat, like it is for me, then there is no better event than Cochon 555

"Cochon" is French for "pig" and the 555 means - 5 chefs, 5 pigs, 5 wineries. What could be better? 2014 is the sixth tour of Cochon. It was established as a way to support family farms that raise heritage breed pigs. The tour stops at 10 U.S. cities where the five chosen chefs compete to make the best dishes from their heritage pigs. The winners from each city then go on to compete in the Grand Finale at the Aspen Wine & Food Classic. If you like what you see in this post, then consider going to the final Cochon event in San Francisco scheduled for April 27th.

One of the competing chefs for the Napa event was someone we Sacramentans are familiar with - Kelly McCown, formerly the chef at Ella. Kelly is now the Executive Chef at Goose and Gander in St. Helena. He was assigned one of the most flavorful types of pigs - a Mangalitsa. This wooly pig is known for its abundance of fat. It's 50-percent fat content gives it a coveted marble and buttery flavor. The other breeds were Yorkshire, Red Wattle, Duroc, Mulefoot, and Old Spot.

There were actually seven pigs. Along with the five that the chefs used, a group of students under the guide of Larry Forgione of Conservatory for American Food Studies had one for making the late night Asian inspired bites and the last Red Wattle was butchered on site and then the meat sold.  All money raised from the sale was then donated to the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

So raw vegan is hard. At least for me with not the greatest willpower. Honestly, though, to have made it through the first two weeks pretty cleanly is a MAJOR accomplishment in my book. All of my friends agreed with that. To do vegan is one thing. To do raw vegan is something else.

I wrote my experiences at week three and I basically feel the same.  My plan, at this time, is to try to be pescatarian for the most part and limit meat to once or twice a week.

How about my blood work?  My cholesterol went down, but not as much as I hoped considering I had eliminated meat and dairy.  I did cheat a couple of times with hot chocolates for migraine relief.  Here are my results.


Cholesterol<=239 mg/dL264
Triglyceride<=199 mg/dL59
HDL>=45 mg/dL83
Low density lipoprotein calculated<=129 mg/dL169
Glucose, fasting60 - 99 mg/dL91


Cholesterol<=239 mg/dL              242
Triglyceride<=199 mg/dL              76
HDL>=45 mg/dL              76
Low density lipoprotein calculated<=129 mg/dL             151

Glucose, fasting                        60 - 99 mg/dL                90

Hardly a change at all for all that effort. Some are telling me it takes a few months of a new diet. I'm not that patient or interested. What does my doctor say? He says he wants my LDL to get below 130.  That's quite a ways to go.  

"What about your health?" you say? Honestly, I'd prefer to live happy and die young.  HORRIBLE, incapacitating strokes run in my family and I have a Do Not Resuscitate order in my file and my family and ex-husband know why. I would much rather go at 60 then linger to 100.

Keep in mind that I'm single and without kids. So I don't need to be sticking around unnecessarily anyway.

So I guess you can call it laziness and apathy. My choice. 

Meanwhile, I did have tilapia for lunch and ceviche waiting for dinner.