YouTubesday: Chad Valley

Chad Valley – Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel) from Lucy Bridger on Vimeo.

I went on a live music binge over the last couple weeks and by far my favorite new artist was Chad Valley. He was opening for Active Child (who was amazing and the reason I went to this show) but God damn if Chad Valley didn’t steal the show. Great live performer and such an awesome sound that everyone there seemed to be genuinely surprised by in a very good way. I overheard a girl after his set say, “he way over-exceeded my expectations and I expected him to be really fucking good…” and I couldn’t agree more.

Dig it.

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Only a month off, not bad

My favorite TV show and theme song with the words “welcome back” in the title…

I’m back and it’s only been a month since my last post. Getting things under control and been writing a lot lately so expect far more frequent updates as I’m banking up posts to share with y’all.

So…welcome back, Bryan.

Newajimaya

Newajimaya

A couple weeks ago, the Uwajimaya store that was located in Bellevue off 24th Street shut down and moved to a new location a few miles away on 8th. The store had been there since before we first moved to Redmond in ’91 and I’ve many fond/vivid memories of that store over the years. If you lived on the Eastside, you have some memory of Uwajimaya whether it was your daily grocer of choice, or maybe a trip as a kid seeing foods you could not even begin to understand or pronounce and any other experience in between. It was one of the few places on the Eastside I’d say had real soul and character in an area that’s simply defined as “Microsoft” these days; an oasis that was very “un-Eastside.”

I was really excited for the new/updated store because the old one was long overdue to be put out to pasture. It was just ridiculously small, cramped, old and maybe even disorganized to the point of being frustrating. More space, better organization is always a good thing right?

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

Well, I visited the new Uwajimaya store yesterday to buy some of my coveted ramen and other goodies and I’m not gonna lie: I miss the old place. You walk into this beautiful, well merchandised, clean and orderly store and your first thought is “this isn’t Uwajimaya.” Maybe that’s how anyone who spent any amount of time in the old place will feel. As great as it is to have this sweet new store, if you ever stepped foot in the old Uwajimaya you’ll feel the same way even if only for a couple minutes before you figure out where everything is in the huge new aisles. You feel like a stranger in a place that however cramped or dirty or disorganized it used to be, still felt familiar; like you belonged there. Now, they have giant brand new coolers stocked with beer selections that rival other mega grocers, aisles wide enough for 2 carts to fit through side-by-side (I know, it’s crazy talk…just keep reading), the gift section is spacious and you don’t feel like you’ll knock shit over if you’re wearing a loose jacket, they have actual permanent-labeled bins in the produce section, an impressive sushi bar and lunch counter, fish/meat counters taken straight from Whole Foods, pretty self-serve oyster bins that don’t look like a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco (if you’ve been to SF, you know what I’m sayin’). Hell, the backside of the store says in giant letters that can be read from 405: UWAJIMAYA. I mean the list could go on and on but you get the point.

Not a SF Chinese restaurant-style fish counter

Listen, I’m really stoked for Uwajimaya because expanding to a new store that must be at least 3x larger means that things are going great for them and that makes me happy; they deserve to be movin’ on up on the Eastside (see what I did there? We’re on the Eastside and it’s Jefferson’s reference. It’s a TV show with a catchy theme song. From the mid-70’s to 80’s. Sherman Hemsley? Nothing? Nevermind.). But like everything in life, things change and you can’t expect them to be like they were forever and I guess that’s my problem. I’m just nostalgic because I thought I wanted this huge new store that was more like the downtown location and it turns out the old store was all I ever really wanted from the Eastside Uwajimaya. The new Uwajimaya is so…Eastside…and that was the one thing the old store never was.

This is not a Whole Foods.

I commented to the checkout girl (who I’d seen probably a dozen times since I returned to Redmond in the Fall) that it was my first trip to the new store and the cheery smile melted just enough to show that she felt the same way.

“Oh yeah? What do you think?”

“It’s nice; clean, organized, roomy…I’m really happy for you guys…but I sorta miss the old place…”

*awkward pause* “Yeah, me too. This one is great but I miss the charm and character that old store had, even though it was so old and we really needed to move.”

Checkout girl's new view of the gift section, decidedly less charming.

She’s right. The new store doesn’t have any charm, any character or anything that really makes you identify with it…yet. It’s looks like a Whole Foods that specializes in Asian foods. In time I know there will be squeaky doors, temperamental refrigerators, stories and such and the new store smell (not that I’d know) will be replaced with the same Eau de Uwajimaya that tells you you’re in a store that’s settled into its home. The old Uwajimaya was inevitably in the same position however many years ago when it opened and look at how attached to it I got and I was away from here for 15 years.

Thanks for the good times, old Uwajimaya...

So, I’m excited for Uwajimaya and know that in short time I’ll grow to love the new place that truly sends out the message that the Eastside Uwajimaya is way more than some quirky Asian market in some shitty strip center flanked by a piano and furniture store. But, for at least a little bit I gotta be nostalgic for the old store and pay homage to the place that 2 weeks ago I thought I wanted to see put down in favor of the newer, better store.

Until then, I’m just gonna call the new store Newajimaya. Maybe I’ll always call it that. Who knows; I’m really indecisive.

I forgot I had this

So, I’m an idiot. That’s harsh. I’m absent-minded. That’s better.

I was sort of fed up with Blogger and made the switch to tumblr a few weeks ago. I don’t dislike tumblr in any way; it’s great. Maybe my lengthy posts are a bit overkill compared to what most all other tumblr users are doing but it still does the job.

Well, as I’m cleaning out some links in Firefox the other day I notice a link to WordPress in my blog folder. Oh yeah that’s right: I created this WordPress account about a year ago and forgot to import the old blog from Blogger. So, I went and grabbed the tumblr account when I had already intended to move here a year ago but forgot to properly export the blog from Blogger. Well played, Bryan. Lord knows what distracted me from taking care of it on the spot back then but it’s water under the bridge; let’s move on, shall we?

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted tumblr and maybe I’ll still find a use for you but since WordPress has built-in comments, statistics and editing software (the reason I intended on making the switch a year ago) and I was having to use 3rd party plug-ins with you it’s just not going to work. We never really got that serious, anyway. It was more like a few dates and you met a couple friends but not my family so no harm no foul, right? Cool.

I promise, this is the final resting place for übersurf. You can always get here by visiting the ubersurf.com URL and forget about my indecisiveness or petty reasons for jumping ship. In fact, that’s probably a wise idea; just bookmark übersurf.com and you’ll always find me.

OK, now we get back to the blogging…

Doing NOTHING

A week from today I’m going to Zihuatenejo. Yes, the one from Shawshank Redemption. It’s lovely, mostly because there’s absolutely nothing to do.

The last time I took a “real” vacation was December 2008; a family cruise to the Western Caribbean. Sure, I’ve taken little weekend trips here and there but they were never really vacations, more trips to see friends and such and always domestic. I’m constantly on the grid, checking email, Facebook, calling Clients, monitoring commodity prices, KU basketball; the only thing that’s really different is my physical location. This is different. This is a “real” vacation; me doing nothing and that’s it. To say it’s long overdue is an understatement.

I know that a lot of people go years without vacations, some a hell of a lot longer than my vacation drought, but for me this is a big deal. You see, the last 2.5 years have been non-stop for me as I reinvent my professional life, deal with major life changes, come to grips with who I am and who others are to me, where I’m going, where I’m living and so forth and I never thought anything of it. I always look forward and just keep motoring on, not stopping to see the madness all around me or stopping to think about everything, probably because it would scare the shit out of me. Well now that I think about it…holy shit, I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally, whatever else there is, I’m just worn out. I’ve been an Energizer Bunny for 2.5 years now and I think the batteries died or were taken out of me long ago yet for some odd reason I was able to continue on. They should bottle up whatever weird chemical courses through my veins and allows me to carry on at the same frantic pace and be happy and call it “2.5 Year Energy” and outsell 5 Hour Energy at 7-11’s everywhere.

So, I’m looking forward to putting board shorts on, sitting on a lounge chair and just “being” for 5 days. Sure, I might walk into the cute little fishing town of Zihuatenejo and look at Mexican trinkets, I might even read a book or 3, write, jog down the beach, but for the most part I’m just going to “be” and recharge my batteries as I soak up the sun and cool off in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. I need to do NOTHING and that’s plenty. No email, no Facebook, no trading, no news, nothing. The world is gonna be there when I’m done with my vacation so why think about it?

So, if you’re following me on Facebook I intend on taking a photo of me on the beach and posting it up and then not doing a damn thing until I return home…and it’s much needed and well deserved.

The social-networkification of bmills

Go ahead, call me a sell-out. You’ll recall in this post how I called Twitter the stupidest thing on Earth but here I am theREALbmills on Twitter and using it…sort of. More than Twitter, I’m getting addicted to Foursquare. Yes, it would appear that I am being fully indoctrinated into the cult of social-networking.

Foursquare is surprisingly fun and useful, for me at least, as I venture around Seattle exploring new places. Checking in is fun and it’s fun to see where friends are checking in and almost a sort of game or competition. “You checked in there? OK, 2 play that game…I’m gonna check in here…” I know, it’s silly, but be supportive, OK? The badges are silly but, fun, and I’m pretty proud that I unlocked the “I’m on a Boat” badge…cuz I got my flippy floppies.

Oh, shit, get your towels ready it’s about to go DOWN.

Twitter? It’s growing on me. I can appreciate it’s usefulness though I don’t use it all that much. Rather, I don’t tweet much at all. Maybe for random observations, sharing crazy tweets from funny people like Doug Benson and so forth but I still don’t really depend on it to do much for me. Following food trucks, daily specials and inventory alerts at restaurants and bars is pretty useful so I’ve found a sort of niche that I fit into among the Twitterati. I still find non-stop tweeting about the mundane details of your life to be stupid as hell but maybe in a year I’ll do another post where I eat social-networking crow yet again.

Sadly, I’m not using Foodspotting as much as I once was. It’s still a killer service but I always seem to forget to use it; thanks for reminding me to get back into it. I feel pretty cool because I was one of the first wave of people to find that site and I got the coveted “bmills” username rather than some iteration, thereof.

Sidenote: if the “bmills” that always steals that username at other websites is reading this? F*ck you. I joined eBay in 1997, I remember using Netscape, Gopher, Eudora and other Internet technologies you didn’t know existed and had a thing called a “modem” and not the kind you plug your cable line into. Leave the good/simple usernames to the true pioneers who remember when Kurt Cobain was alive and there was only 1 MTV, OK? That feels better…

Still, almost everything I need to do is accomplished through the king of all social network sites Facebook. How could I not pick it as the social networking winner? There’s a movie about it called “THE Social Network” for heaven’s sake.

Listen, I’m not proud of it but I’m not ashamed of it either. I’m finding ways to make each social networking service work for me and fill a certain need. When you get them all playing nicely with one another some cool stuff happens so we’ll see how I continue to navigate the social networking waters, or Bermuda Triangle of Productivity as the graphic above illustrates.

Follow me; you will enjoy.

Twitter: theREALbmills

FourSquare: therealbmills

Foodspotting: bmills

Who knew there was a gateway ramen?

Do I know what it says? Nope. Is it delicious? You’re GD right it is.

I love ramen. At a restaurant it’s awesome, but I’m talking about the cheapest meal on earth you buy in little bricks at the store. People give ramen all sorts of crap for being this cheap meal that starving artists or broke-as-a-joke college students buy that’s total crap but I couldn’t disagree more. Cooked properly, ramen is the bomb. Throw some protein in with it or add some veggies (or not, ladies choice) and you’re laughing.

Half of the ramen section at Uwajimaya

However, this post isn’t about a love for ramen. I could have written this 25 years ago and it would have read exactly the same but with less substantive words . No, this post comes about from the discovery of new ramen noodles; a desire for something more.

I’m a snob with certain packaged things. Boxed mac & cheese has to be Kraft or I won’t touch it and prior to a few days ago store-bought Ramen had to be Maruchan (the undisputed king of packaged ramen) or it’s just shitty $0.25 noodles. Well, I spend a lot of time shopping at Uwajimaya and the other day I decided to try some “authentic” packaged ramen noodles from Asia. Maruchan is the bomb but an Asian-foods store has to have some pretty good ramen, right? Oh, they’re much more expensive ($0.69 vs. $0.25) but they’re incredible; way more than $0.44 better, that’s for sure. So many new flavors, so many brands, and they’re all awesome. Curry, satay, XO sauce, miso, spicy, prawns, 5-spice, “original flavor” the list goes on and I can’t say I really know what most of them are but the ones I’ve had have been killer. Sure, they’re loaded with MSG but we all know that MSG is not good for you makes everything taste PHENOMENAL. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking out real deal ramen noodles at your local Asian-foods store; it’s such a better noodle high.

Yes, so it seems that Maruchan was simply a gateway drug to the more expensive–but better–high quality, real, uncut ramen noodles and a $0.25/day habit when I’m using has jumped to $0.69/day, but you only live once so you’ve got to do it right…right?