Sunday, July 31, 2011


Just in time for my last week of work, 'tis confirmed: I have contracted ze mono. Also means I'll be heading to Africa with a compromised immune system. VDM.

At least all my clothes have been soaked in permethrin:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Houston Shakespeare Festival

Perfect start to the weekend:

Miller Outdoor Theater

Inauthentic as it may be, I can't help but think of Desmedona's haunting "Ave Maria" in Verdi's Otello whenever I watch my favorite Shakespeare play:

"Prega nel peccator, per l'innocente,
E pel debole oppresso e pel possente,
Misero anch'esso, tua pietà dimostra."

Friday, July 22, 2011


Just stumbled upon this story on Swamplot:
How did Rockport, Texas couple Karl and Carol Hoepfner get the idea to eat meals at all 722 Whataburgers in 10 states? It all started with a visit to the Texas Medical Center: Carol, 73, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, which eventually sent her to Houston for 23 days of radiation earlier this year. All of the appointments were late in the day, and Karl wanted to do something other than spend the rest of the time in their apartment.” The Hoepfners used their free time to visit all 90 Houston Whataburger locations first. They’ve reached 225 so far.
My initial reaction was similar to that of one of the comment posters: "So in addition to blood cancer, they’re going to add heart disease?"

But then I found myself agreeing with Northside Girl: "I’m not a huge fan of fast food, but if this is what they want to instead of being loaded up with chemo, then more power to them. It’s not what I would do, but that doesn’t matter. If it hasn’t killed them yet–enjoy the ride."

But seriously, kudos to the Hoepfners–I can think of many worse ways to spend my final weeks than enjoying Whataburger with my sweetheart.

"A Whataburger is a very good burger if it takes six napkins; seven is just outstanding."
- Karl Hoepfner

Lost Pines for the weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Capital Time

Believe it or not, I had never really seen Austin before this weekend. Well, unless you count a fourth-grade field trip to the Texas National Capitol (which, as the tour guide informed us at the time, is a taller, more majestic, pink granite version of that other one in Washington), and I did visit for an afternoon a couple years ago for my brother's lacrosse tournament. But, as my peers at UT have been reminding me for years, you haven't really seen Austin until you've been to 6th Street.

And so on Saturday morning, I finally packed my overnight bag and made my pilgrimage (required of all 20-something residents of Texas at some point during their college careers) to Austin. Below is the evidence that remains from my weekend trip to Houston's free-willed younger sister, located two and a half hours northwest of H-Town city limits.

The drive 

Welcome to the Silicon Hills
The sky always seems bigger in Texas
Approaching downtown Austin

South Congress (SoCo)

First stop: South Congress Avenue
Didn't take long to spot my first live Austinite hippie
Enormous costume store
Free trade crafts
SoCo food trucks
Local wares
Cooling off in the shade

Maria Maria 

Kirby's crew

6th Street

"This is low season"
Randomly ran into a bunch of friendly Germans at Kung Fu

Whole Foods Flagship Store

Austin's hometown grocery store
Kirby's mom made fun of me for taking pictures.
Kirby pretended not to know me.
Ended up choosing the goat cheese sandwich over the Korean barbecue dish
(because when goat cheese is bad, I blame the goat, but when bulgolgi is bad,
I blame globalization). 'Twas an excellent choice.

University of Texas

The Tower
Littlefield House
View of the Capitol building
Lotus pond
Maybe I should have applied here...

The Drag (Guadalupe)

More artists
Until next time!

Definitely coming back soon—24 hours was far too short to take in the whole city but still long enough to make me a fan. After all, how could I not love a city whose motto is "Keep Austin Weird"?

Shout-out to the Kirbster, her roommates, die Deutschen and the hospitable residents at the corner of 25th and San Gabriel for showing me how it's done.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hanja Fail

Disclaimer: Most of this post won't make much sense to the non-Hangukins out there.

Fail #1: I recently had a minor freak-out moment when Mother asked me if I wanted some fresh raw and I thought she was offering me some inhumane platter of horse tartare (which, actually, I would probably have enjoyed, considering that my favorite dish of all time is yukhoe).

Fail #2: Earlier this week, a friend was telling me about the seemingly incongruous popularity of mudang in contemporary Korean society, to which I, mistaking 무당 for the homonymic hanja syllables for 'sugar-free' (無糖), replied, "요즈음 'well-being' 때문에 난린데 무당은 기본 아닌가?" Confusion ensued.

(Kind of reminds me of the time I tried to tell my Chinese host parents that I was planning to visit the Beijing Zoo to see the pandas but misspoke and ended up saying that I was going to admire the local chest hair.)

For those of you for whom none of this makes any sense, here's a new word of the day: Antibabypille, a.k.a. birth control pill.

Gotta hand it to the Germans for efficiency of expression.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cougar Town

Midnight bike ride FTW—thanks to DJ Schneider and Capital Bikeshare:

View of the White House and Department of the Treasury
from the rooftop terrace of the W Hotel

Monday, July 11, 2011


Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde. 
Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit. 
Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.
Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält. 
- Rainer Maria Rilke
So seltsam es scheinen mag, kann ich kein Krankenhaus betreten, ohne an den Aufzeichungen des Malte Laurids Brigge erinnert zu werden. Gleichzeitig verstehe ich, wie akademisch und abgehoben und unempfindlich und grausam lächerlich meine Gedanken über französische Invaliden und den „Geruch der Angst“ sind.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Force of Destiny

Note for my fellow brethren toiling away this summer in academia/consulting/finance/research and other sleep-deprived fields:

Why waste money on morning coffee when you can wake up to Verdi's La Forza del Destino? Seriously, invest a buck in a decent music alarm app or plug into your radio clock and set it to the overture:

If this doesn't wake you up/make you feel epic, I'm not sure what will.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Not sure what I'll be doing in 2018, but at least I know where to be in February!
대한민국 huzzah!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

72 Hours in H-Town

I'm sure those city itineraries in travel guides/magazines/websites that recommend local sights and activities can be quite useful as a starting point for tourists unfamiliar with the lay of the land, but an inordinate number of them seem to be geared toward a middle-aged demographic with unbelievably comfortable walking shoes and a strong interest in antiquing.

Motivated by my inner drill sergeant and a desire to show my roommates as much of Houston as possible while protecting them from random collections of Americana, I created the following itinerary in preparation for their visit. Specially designed for the young and restless (and Alexander Nemerov-educated), it's short on antiques and long on Philip Johnson. And, naturally, it involves way too much food.

11:00 am
Driving tour
Eastward from Memorial, passing through Uptown, the Galleria, River Oaks, Montrose, and Midtown (to see the restaurants, the shopping, the mansions, the gayborhood, and the hippies, respectively), and along Allen Parkway into downtown.

Welcome to Houston

12:00 pm
The Grove/Discovery Green
Lunch at the Schiller del Grande restaurant group's latest offering, tucked among stately oak trees on the south side of downtown's Discovery Green. (The Grove's niçoise salad always hits the spot.) As for the rest of Discovery Green: come for the farmer's market, stay for the crazy jumping dock dogs.

Alex and Besi at Kinder Lake
Outside the Grove

2:30 pm
Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None at Alley Theatre
The Houston Theater District is a 17-block area in the heart of downtown anchored by nine major performing arts orgnizations and the Bayou Place entertainment complex. With 12,948 seats for the performing arts, the district ranks second (behind New York City) in the United States for the number of theater seats in a single neighborhood. My preference would normally have been for a Houston Grand Opera performance at the stunning Wortham Theater Center, but with limited options during most of the companies' summer break, we scored tickets for the Alley instead (which, incidentally, was once described by former Houston Press editor John Nova Lomax as "something Stalin’s favorite architect would have come up with on ‘shrooms").

5:00 pm
Samba Grille
Pit stop across the street for pão de queijo, iced coffee and papaya cream. Bossa nova FTW.

6:05 pm
Minute Maid Park
Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros at Houston's train station-turned-baseball stadium.

Outside the ballpark
The Juicebox

11:00 pm
Washington Avenue
Taps HOB, Kung Fu Saloon, Pearl Bar, Ei8ht

11:00 am
Drive to Galveston
An hour southeast of downtown, the breeze becomes saltier and the trees more palm-y.

Cruise ship vs. sailboat

12:30 pm
Fishing trip
The catch: crab, mullet, spinner, blacktip, and Atlantic sharpnose.

Shark (no. 1/5)

5:00 pm
The Strand
Historically significant district of Victorian-era architecture, Galwn as the "Wall Street of the South" until 1900, the year of the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Today, the Strand is designated a National Historic Landmark District. Note: Strand tour skipped due to hunger and fatigue.

7:00 pm
Seoul Garden
Nothing like Korean barbecue with all the works after a day out at sea.

9:00 pm
Anvil Bar & Refuge
From the website: "Spirit-forward drinks made with fresh ingredients—including house-made bitters, sodas, infusions and liqueurs—each fashioned with careful attention to detail and favoring local flavors and locally-sourced ingredients." From the menu: "Today's modern cocktail resurgence tends to emphasize urban speakeasies and Yankee cocktails. Secession anyone? Sure, we admire our Northern colleagues, but it's about time other drinking cultures get a little respect. Welcome to the Summer of the South: a four-month tribute to Southern-inspired cocktails and food."

We were trying to (discreetly) take a picture of his sweet 'stache.

11:00 pm
Live jazz and chocolate mousse.

11:00 am
Rothko Chapel
From the website: "Mark Rothko, one of the most influential American artists of the mid twentieth century, was commissioned by the de Menils in 1964 and given the opportunity to shape and control a total environment to encompass his work, resulting in a group of fourteen paintings created specially for the meditative space." Together, Rothko and architect Philip Johnson created a meditative space that has "achieved recognition as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the second half of the twentieth century." The Chapel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a featured entry in National Geographic's Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations. "The Chapel has two vocations: contemplation and action. It is a place alive with religious ceremonies of all faiths, and where the experience and understanding of all traditions are encouraged and made available. Action takes the form of supporting human rights, and thus the Chapel has become a rallying place for all people concerned with peace, freedom, and social justice throughout the world."

12:00 pm
University of St. Thomas
More Philip Johnson architecture. The iconic Academic Mall is anchored on the south end by Doherty Library and on the north end by the Chapel of St. Basil, representing the dialogue between faith and reason.

Chapel of St. Basil
Interior (no artificial lighting)

12:30 pm
Every Houstonian has a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant that he swears by, and mine is Escalante's. Unfortunately they were closed for the 4th, but what's not to love about Chuy's fajita platters? (Although, as my former violin teacher would say, second best is not concertmaster.)

Aftermath of the damage

2:00 pm
A driving tour of Houston's historic Hermann Park (famous for being the first desegregated golf course in the country) and the largest medical center in the world, composed of 49 independent medical institutions.

Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas

3:00 pm
Rice University
Tour of the meticulously laid out campus of the top-ranked university in the South.

 4:00 pm
375 stores, the Galleria Financial Center, a year-round ice rink, two Westin hotels and a private health club.


6:00 pm
Dinner at RA Sushi before heading to the airport.