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8/22/2014 Restaurants

This week's voter bonus comic is the start of a short series for this year's Forum Awards winners. As always, you can see it by clicking the TWC button on the left.

As predicted, things are calming down a little bit now, though not for too long. I've got a couple meetings today, some move related stuff on Sunday and Monday, and the first few days of classes, none or which shouldn't be too bad. Come next weekend though, I'll be off to Arizona for my brother's wedding. In the meantime, I figured I'll start on some of those restaurant review travelogue entries I mentioned. Also, from now on I'm going to start posting any restaurant reviews I do on Yelp as well (user name Josiah L).

Mid August: Getting Things Done
Between my new job and move related stuff, I haven't had a lot of time for touring, hiking, or the like. About the closest thing was walking around the Made in Hawaii festival one weekend, which involved a whole lot of booths selling locally made clothes, jewelry, food, and the like. Most it wasn't the kind of stuff I'm especially interested in, but it was a nice break from work. The one thing I've been doing is eating out, probably a bit more than I should be. Since I don't have my stuff or my own place yet, I have a had time getting myself in the cooking mood. Besides, I won't have such easy access to all these restaurants once I'm no longer living in Honolulu. Anyway, here's a few reviews.

Restaurant Review: YogurStory
Type: Fusion
Location: Honolulu, Keeaumoku St. (near Walmart)
Just hearing the name, you'd assume YogurStory is a frozen yogurt place but yogurt actually doesn't figure much into the menu . Breakfast is a number of fairly standard items (pancakes, omelettes, loco mocos, etc.), but mostly with some kind of twist such as the very purple ube pancakes. The sauce is a mix of coconut and Okinawan purple sweet potatoes and the pancakes themselves are purple as well (also because of the sweet potatoes). The pancakes aren't especially sweet, but the sauce makes up for it. They taste great and don't give you the sugar overload that some pancakes do. They definitely live up to their reputation.
The dinner menu is even more interesting, featuring some very unique Asian / Italian fusion dishes. I ended up with kalbi over kimchee risotto. The kalbi was great but then kalbi almost always is no matter where I get it. It was the kimchee risotto that surprised me. Despite the extremely weird combination, it worked. It's like kimchee and rice, only a whole lot cheesier (literally). While I never quite got over the inherent strangeness, I loved it.
The restaurant itself has a nice if somewhat eclectic interior complete with with a large fake tree. Sort of a half indoor and half outdoor forest cottage look. The service has been excellent on my visits, though he place can get pretty busy at times, which naturally slows things down a bit. Prices mostly range from the low teens to mid twenties for an entree so it's not the cheapest place around for breakfast or dinner, but it's not horribly expensive either.
Over all, YogurStory is a fun place to eat due to both the decor and the excellent (if a little strange) menu. I'll certainly be going again, and I recommend giving it a try if you're ever in the area.

That's it for today. I'll add some more reviews over the coming days.

Josiah



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8/20/2014 Off to work

While I started putting a lot of time into preparing my courses for this semester early last week, work officially started this week. Just meetings though, classes don't start until Monday. But meetings can be pretty time consuming. Yesterday's, for example, went pretty much all day and today's will be the same. I was thinking of doing a travelogue entry for today, but just don't have the time.  Things should calm down a bit by Friday, so I'll see you then.

Josiah

8/18/2014 Return of the Hawaii travelogue

This seems like a decent time to get my new Hawaii travelogue started. Not sure how frequent the entries will be, but here we go.

Late July - Mid August: Living in Hawaii
At this point, it's been several weeks since I left Florida and moved to Hawaii. So what's it like living in Hawaii as opposed to just visiting? Honestly, I'm still figuring that out. Mainly because, for the most part, I still feel like I'm in vacation mode. Part of it is that I haven't been able to move into my new place yet (though I did find one). Instead, I've been staying at my parents' condo, just like I have during most of my vacations here. And, while I've been fairly busy with work related tasks for the past week, most of my work has been done from the condo (and working out of here is something I've also done a lot of on previous trips). So when is it going to feel like I actually live here? Well, from this week on my job officially starts (meetings and more prep stuff this week, classes next week), so that'll help. Though it'll be another 2 - 3 weeks until I can move into my own place, at which point it should finally sink in.
So what have I noticed about living in Hawaii? Finding a decent place to live here is tough. I paid $800 a month for my apartment in Florida. An equivalent place here was around $2,000, and that was outside of Honolulu. You also don't have a lot of nice apartment complexes around, especially outside of Honolulu. Most rental places are privately owned, which is more of a hassle and offers no real guarantees on how long you'll be able to stay.
Those are the reasons I ended up buying a place. Though houses here are similarly more expensive than back in Florida, Colorado, or Arizona. The nicer places that aren't overly expensive sell really fast (often within days of being listed), and competition can be fierce. Back on the mainland, if you want to buy a house, you never offer to pay the price it's listed for. House buying is a bargaining thing. Here, you can offer full list price for a house and still not get it (like I did on the first place I tried to buy). The market does get a bit less crazy, with longer listing times and more room for bargaining, but not until you hit the $600,000+ range. And, just to make things a bit more expensive, it seems just like about every house and condo is part of a development with high monthly HOA fees (several hundred dollars, at least). Some places actually give you nice amenities, services, and/or free utilities, which balances it out a bit. Others seem to just take your money because they can and don't offer much of anything in return.
So yeah. While my salary here is a nice step up over what I was making, I'm probably not going to be banking any more money than I was before. Quite possibly less. Though I will have a nicer place to live, which will hopefully rise steadily in value, so that's a plus.
But anyway, just know that if you plan to live in Hawaii, especially on Oahu, you're going to get a lot less for your money than you would in most other parts of the US.

Josiah


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