New York City vs. San Francisco Round 8: Subway musicians

December 28, 2008 at 9:33 am (music, new york city, san francisco)

I’ve heard the worst subway musicians in NYC.  There’s one guy that seems to always be playing violin in the Union Square station.  He’s usually playing something Vivaldi-esque with a recorded accompaniment.  He can’t keep up with the accompaniment and as you might imagine, it’s not a good outcome.  But I admire his persistance and I expect that his frequent “practicing” will lead to great improvements.

But I’ve also heard the best subway musicians in NYC.  Many of them are pretty amazing, actually.  Last night I heard a flautist playing beautiful baroque music.  I gave her an extra big donation because the music was so lovely.  I was sad when the subway arrived and I had to go, but I was pleased to see that there were some drummers on the car.   They were quite amazing and they had much of the subway car dancing.  Last night was an exceptionally good night for subway music, but it’s often really good.  And I love that people play such funky interesting instruments that I’ve never seen before.

If it weren’t for the Union Square guy, I would have thought that they hold auditions for musicians to play in the subways here!

Maybe if my cousins get good enough at Rock Band, we can try out!

img_3581NYC: 3
SF: 5


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New York City vs. San Francisco Round 7: Egg custard tarts; And housing news!

December 13, 2008 at 4:42 pm (dessert, food, new york city, review, san francisco)

I had some dan4 ta3 (egg custard tarts) from Egg Custard King in Chinatown today.  I tried a regular one and a Portuguese one.  They had a bunch of different types and flavors – maybe about 8.  Ha ha, I couldn’t read any of the Chinese characters so I had to ask.  At least I was able to do that in Chinese.  And at least I was able to read one of the labels – the almond one.  I pointed to the Portuguese ones and asked what they were, and they said “pu2 tao2.”  I asked “Grape?” and thought to myself “what an odd flavor for egg custard tarts.”  The woman looked confused and then I realized my mistake and said: “Oh, Portuguese!  They’re Portuguese tarts.”  Portuguese is also “pu2 tao2.”  I’m such an ABC.

These are supposed to be one of the best places for dan4 ta3 here.  So how do they compare to Golden Gate Bakery in SF?  It’s definitely close, but I’d still give it to GG Bakery.  The crusts are similarly light and flaky and tasty.  The custard at GG Bakery, which is light and smooth and tasty, is definitely superior to EC King, both the regular and the not-grape kinds.  But EC King’s custards are still better than every other dan4 ta3 that’s not from GG Bakery.

I don’t have any photos of EC King’s dan4 ta3.  Here’s one of GG Bakery’s, with my cuz:


EC King had no line, while GG Bakery always has a line, often going down half the block.  And GG Bakery often runs out or doesn’t have any that are ready.  EC King also has many more flavors.  So if those flavors turn out to be amazing (though I doubt it because the classic dan4 ta3 is pretty much perfect), I might give this round back to NYC, but for now, it goes to SF.  There’s a reason the lines are so long and it’s definitely worth the wait.

Hmm… actually it’s a lot easier to get to Chinatown in NYC by public transportation than Chinatown in SF.  So that’s another issue, but maybe the public transportation issue is for a separate post.  So after Round 7:

NYC: 2
SF: 5

The other news is that Mark and I found an apartment.  It’s in the Upper East Side.  The landlords seem quite desperate to fill the apartments – many were offering 1 month free and no fees.  When we first told our broker (thanks BCG!) our desired price range, she was very nervous that there would be nothing for us and wasn’t sure what to do with us cheapskates.  But it turned out to be no problem, we found a lovely place that’s well within our budget.

We move in right after Christmas!  I’m so excited!

There’s a gym in the building, with no extra fees!  And there are individual TVs on all the machines.  So because we won’t have a TV in our apartment, I’ll have to exercise to watch any TV!  That’s a good healthy setup, I think.

The lobby of the building is really tacky.  I’m hoping that a lot of the tackiness is due to the holiday decorations, but we’ll see how it looks in January.

So if you want to see this apartment, you’ll have to come visit!  But if you’ll have to prepare yourself for the tacky lobby.

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New York City vs. San Francisco Round 6: Filling out online forms

December 10, 2008 at 10:35 am (new york city, random, san francisco)

I used to type ‘C’ when entering my address online and California would be selected from the list of states.  And then I could tab on to the next thing I had to enter.

Now I have to type ‘N’ 6 times.  Six times.  And I have to double check that NY was selected because I’ve seen cases where things are screwy and six doesn’t get me to NY.  Or maybe it’s just that there’s a lot of room for error when you have to type things 6 times and I often get it wrong.

So this is a big enough issue for me to write about.  But probably not big enough of an issue that I’ll move to Nebraska.  Or Alabama.

NYC: 2
SF: 4

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Happy Gingerbread House Season!

December 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm (architecture, cooking, dessert, food, new york city)

Wow, NYC is really into the whole holiday spirit thing.  They mean business here. Huge light displays sucking up electricity everywhere, chopping down big trees.  NYC might be the most Christmas-y place in the world, or at least for the modern consumerism Christmas.  I’m torn about it… stuff makes me grouchy.  And crowds make me grouchier.  By the way, don’t go near Rockefeller Center in December.  If you are going from point A to point B and the shortest path goes through Rockefeller Center, don’t do it.  You’ll run into a bunch of people who don’t move because they don’t have room AND they don’t know where they’re going.  It’s easier if you make a big loop around it.  So that all sounds bad, but a lot of the decorations are quite pretty.  Sparkly lights are appealing.  And at least some places use LED lights.

Sign says "No Standing" but it was so crowded that standing was the only option.

Sign says "No Standing" but it was so crowded that standing was the only option.

My sister and I tried to see the tree on the night of the lighting.  We figured we had nothing better to do so we might as well go.  Spectacular mistake.  They had the sidewalks blocked off and you couldn’t go directly to Rockefeller Plaza.  There was some secret way, but we never figured it out and no one would say.  We just kept running into dead ends.  I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

The one thing that I’m least conflicted about is gingerbread houses!  I haven’t made one this year.  Yet.  But I thought I’d reminisce about the Gingerbread House of Christmas Past.  Made by me and my sister Da.  I’m the baker.  She’s the structural engineer.

Eco-gingerbread house

Eco-gingerbread house

Yes, those are solar panels.  And a living roof… we had this baby before the California Academy of Sciences.  And a gingerbread Prius.

Back of the eco-gingerbread house

Back of the eco-gingerbread house

The full album (includes photos of the planning and construction stages)

If NYC’s Christmas is way more Christmas-y than SF’s Christmas, does that mean I have to make a way more Christmas-y gingerbread house?

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