Sunday, 14 December 2014

Very s-Pes-cial

If you haven't heard of Pes by now, let me introduce you.  The Academy Award nominated stop motion film-maker has conquered facebook, youtube, and has infected every other social media outlet with his viral videos.

But Pes is more than just food.  His videos are sheer perfection.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 13 December 2014

10 Don'ts in America's Finest City

San Diego is nicknamed "America's finest city" for good reason.  The sun is usually shining, the Mexican food is always flowing, and we tend to make happy relaxed decisions about daily life.  Unfortunately there are a few things I've learned NOT to do while thriving in America's finest.

1. When it rains it pours.
What people don't understand is just how ill equipped San Diegans and their city are at dealing with rain.  First of all, it never rains so when it does there are a few things to avoid.  Number one, don't go swimming after a rain.  It's called urban runoff and it causes all sorts of nasty things from our city streets into our now-not-so pristine waters.  Best rule is to stay clear for at least 72 hours.  Secondly, you should probably just stay at home.  Driving in the rain in San Diego is one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced, and I've ridden side saddle of a motorcycle in Cambodian rush hour without traffic laws.

2. Pay attention to parking.
I don't drive, but when I do, it's not the Mass-hole road rage that gets me in this city, it's the parking.  If you're going anywhere in a 3 mile radius of Downtown San Diego, you may end up paying a small fortune in fees.  First of all they're constantly changing meter times.  When I first moved here, metered parking began at 8 a.m. and ran till 6 p.m.  suddenly it's 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. which really makes happy hour parking a b*tch. What's more, the old time schedule applies to most of San Diego, while the new 10-8 time frame only encompasses the "tourist" area of the gaslamp.  What's the tourist area?  No idea.  There of course are loop holes, Horton Plaza offers 3 hours of free parking with validation between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. but forget the validate and you'll be paying a minimum of $25 for that quick trip to CVS.

3. Stopping at your local taco shop on the way home from the bar.
You may forget the aftermath, but your bathroom always remembers that type of horror.

4. Not stopping at your local taco shop on the way home from the bar.
Lets face it, half of your delicious-late night taco snack is still on the kitchen counter (or maybe it's in bed with you) and tacos for breakfast make the world of difference when you're facing that armageddon of a hangover.

5. Stopping for "a" drink at your favorite local dive bar.
"Dirty Martini please"

6. Comic Con.
Going. Not going. It's all a bit ridiculous.  You can't find parking to save your life and the weirdos have come from all over the world to wear their cos play outfits and get jiggy with it.  You're super excited, but when it comes time to really pin the tale on the donkey...

7. Black's Beach.
Did you know San Diego has a nude beach?  What's more, tourists hear about the peep show and take the hike over to Torrey Pines expecting to see some hot naked bodies.  Unfortunately the reality is not so attractive.

8. Accidentally driving into Mexico.
I've only ever ALMOST done this once.  And it was terrifying.  Don't, I repeat DON'T miss that last exit.

9. The Gaslamp on a Saturday Night.
Fighting through crowds of drunk people wearing little clothing?  You're not even in a bar yet and you're already at risk for the clap.  But party on good friends, and remember the taco shop will be open when the bars close at 2.

10.  And finally, don't ever forget how Fine the city really is.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Riding the Bus with Jessie

The oldest boy's name is Jessie and he's the oldest of 7 and always carries a skateboard.  That much I know.  In fact, it's something most of the downtown San Diego commuters know by now.

"JESSIE! SHUT UP! JESSIE! STOP IT! JESSIEEEEEEEEEEE!"  His mother's screams can be heard on bus route 11, between Broadway and the San Diego Rescue Mission on Elm Street, where the family of 7 live.  For months now, I've watched as they board the bus; Their young mother herding her pack into line.

Jessie is a force to be reckoned with.  He is around 10 years old, extremely overweight, and usually has some sort of food hanging out of his mouth.  Today it's pizza; the cheese hangs down his chin while the grease drips and stains his already dirty shirt.  He is talking about diphthongs, explaining to his family that "a diphthong or diphthongo..." he says to his Grandmother in Spanish "is a word with two meanings".  This is untrue but I don't correct him.  Instead, I watch the spit and pizza flecks shoot from his mouth with every word.  His staple skateboard is underneath my feet now as his mother yells at him to "get it" because he is "bothering the lady".  His mother is broken.  She waddles with the rest of her heard, as we spectators realize she is not the leader, Jessie is.  He speaks to her like she is nothing, do this for me, do that for me, listen to me, shut up.  

Suddenly the youngest, a 6 month old who has no distinctive gender characteristics is crying.  Jessie jumps up from 5 rows away and makes a loud noise, perhaps an elephant call?  He then begins to yell at his mother, telling her about "stupid Mexicans" who can't get through immigration like they did.

Meanwhile there are 3 young girls, all within the ages of 3-5.  They are beautiful and quiet.  Their dark black hair hangs low in curls as they watch their monster of a brother annoy the world.  For a moment I wonder how they will turn out.  Will they too, become just another fat American kid?  Are they watching their brother talk with pizza hanging from the corners of his mouth while he spits on unsuspecting bus riders, leaving his skateboard to bruise their ankles with every turn of the wheel?  Or are they watching him with the same disgust and sadness that the rest of us are.

The bus stops in front of the rescue mission and the clan stands.  "Jessie get the fuck out of the way".  The mother yells as he stands in front of her double baby carriage.  I realize then it's not Jessie who has broken her, but her who has broken him.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 6 December 2014

When in Doubt

I recently wrote about the issues of rape and sexual assault on young women in the United States.  It's no doubt a hot topic at the moment, as the media pushes tales from frat houses and confessionals to the forefront, trying to shock the public to believe this is a new epidemic.  Unfortunately as a young woman living in the United States, it's not new, it's not even shocking.  Rape and sexual assault has become the norm for us.  We're told not to walk alone at night, not to wear something that may draw attention, not to "ask for it".  We've changed our routines to avoid this.  I wear shorts underneath my skirts if I'm out on the town and wait until after my walk to work to put on my red lipstick.  I'm not asking for it, but it's happening to me, it's happening to us, it's happening everywhere.

So when Rolling Stone released a detailed account of a college freshman being assaulted in a dark room of a frat house at the University of Virginia, suddenly everyone was shocked it was happening right here in our backyards, at our schools, by our sons to our daughters.  The University took action, placing everyone allegedly involved on probation.  They swore to better the safety of students on campus and said they would open the conversation to the community to what might really be going on underneath their noses.  

This past Friday, those allegations began to unravel as the fraternity in question vehemently denied the victim's claims.  What's more, friends of the victim only identified as "Jackie", say over the years she has changed the details of her account and are now doubting whether or not she was actually assaulted.  Rolling Stone has now apologized for a lapse in judgement by trusting "Jackie" as a factual source and are backing away from the story as a whole.  They said "in face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced."

Suddenly "Jackie" isn't a victim anymore, she's the perpetrator, the girl who cried rape.  She's now painted as the reason so many victims do not come forward.  The stigma is disgraceful.  Young women cry rape after sleeping with someone they are ashamed of sleeping with, feel they have made a mistake with, or the worst, they are seen to be taking "revenge" on a man by marking him permanently with the R-word.  So we stay silent.  We don't point fingers and we hide the emotional scars that leave us walking to work lipstick free or opting to wear a turtle neck even though it itches.  We hide ourselves away from the world in hopes that the ones who hurt us, the ones who took a part of us without asking, won't notice us next time we're vulnerable, which society makes us believe is all the time.

"Jackie", whether a victim or not, has become a major factor in every sexual assault case.  She is the victim, she is the perpetrator, she is the key to ruining some man's life forever.  So is she lying?  What role does she play?  For many of us "Jackies", that answer will not depend on whether we are telling the truth or not.  So we stay quiet in fear that our truth will turn us into the next "Jackie", a confused young women who isn't sure if she had consensual sex.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Leading Ladies

We've all got a favorite Disney leading lady.  Growing up we connected with them on some level, for me it was Ariel.  Perhaps being a Barnacle at heart and wanting to run away reflected in the aquatic babe, maybe it was the red hair, who knows.  She was my role model.  She sang away her sorrows, and pretty much founded the idea of Disney exploration.  She was independent and knew when to say "enough is enough, I'm getting out of this ocean".  I preferred her to the others.  They were blonde, perky.  Snow White and Cinderella made their housework look like fun, whether they truly enjoyed it or not.  And at the end of the day, they only received their happy ending when the prince decided to kiss them.  The Disney version of Ariel too, got her happy ending only with the kiss of a prince, but I held onto the idea of suicide by sea foam and loved her even more.   By the time Pocahontas hit the silver screen I was outgrowing my affinity for princesses but she suddenly became my ultimate.  She was in my opinion the most beautiful cartoon out there, and like Ariel she was independent, and this time she didn't need a man.  Sure she had love, like any normal young woman, but it didn't control her life.  She knew where her priorities were, and while they may have caused her heartache, to me, John Smith always seemed like he just wanted a cross-Atlantic booty call anyways.  But I digress.  These women shaped generation X, and will continue to inspire little ladies everywhere for years to come.  So when I came across this info graphic it got me thinking.  What does your favorite leading lady say about you? And more importantly what does it say about female society as a whole?

© The Traveling Barnacle

Friday, 5 December 2014

WestJet does it again!

I'm beginning to think advertisement companies have given up on 'shock-factor' advertising and are taking their ques from onions.  Yes, that's right onions, you know those delicious white vegetables that make us cry.  These new series of Christmas ads are making us the pass the tissues while we cook our way to the delicious feast of the holidays.

Last year, West Jet made us cry by asking every passenger on a flight what they wanted for Christmas when they checked in.  The passengers boarded the flight and were met with exactly what they wanted when they landed.  But this year, it's an entirely other level of Christmas cheer.  The West jet staff flew to the Dominican Republic, a regular destination for the airline, and placed Santa;s sleigh in the center of the village.  And the rest?  Well check it out for yourself... and make sure you've got tissues!

© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 4 December 2014

75 years at Pink's!

I've finally taken the plunge.  I've tasted what you west coasties tell me is the best around, the ultimate in 'american' summer-time meals; I've finally tasted the amazing Pink's Hot Dogs

The legendary hot dog stand has been filling the bellies of Los Angelitos since 1939.  What's more it now holds the number one spot on multiple "best" foodie lists across the nation and the world for it's celebrity-created menu.  It's officially recognized as a "Treasure of Los Angeles" which is a pretty big deal folks.  The menu is long and always changing based on it's famous customers.  Even the stars gotta eat right?  In fact, Pinks is more than just a hot dog stand to some.  Bruce Willis actually proposed to Demi Moore underneath it's fluorescent lights!  And part of the 2006 sports illustrated swimsuit edition was filmed in it's small dining room.

For me?  I decided to go big or go home, so it was Rosie O'Donnell's Long island dog for me.  The 9 inch dog is topped with mustard, onions, chili and sauerkraut.  It's all the best German ingredients smothered in the American classic chili.  And for just $5.45, I was more than satisfied.

And if I haven't sold you, here's Martha Stewart...

© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 1 December 2014


© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ferguson, Where do We fit in?

Since August, the country has been up in arms about the issue of race.  Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager was 'gunned down' by police while walking to his grandmother's home in the middle of the afternoon.  The ultimate little red riding hood story gone bad. Ferguson, Missouri, has become more than just a small town, but the foundation for riots, protesting, and demanding justice in the battle of racism across the United States.  I've watched as my twitter, facebook, and other social media outlet feeds turn out thousands of posts about what is going on.  The updates express anger, frustration, and grief about yet another killing of an unarmed black boy.  Media made the police look like an evil military force, some even showing horrifying photographs of Brown's body on the concrete.  But there is one thing that I can't help but notice.  99% of those updates are coming from my friends of color.  Black, Asian, Latino, Arab, they are the voice in Ferguson, near and far, they're the ones who are fuelling the discussion.  But why?

I watched as my white friends stayed silent.  The same friends who posted about raising awareness for ALS, or who began supporting anti-depression campaigns after the suicide of Robin Williams.  But this, not only what many people see as a racial crime, but more importantly an act of violence by a system we are supposed to trust, the police, as they "murder" an unarmed teen (despite his color) in the middle of the day; suddenly there is nothing but silence. It's not that the white community doesn't care.  It's more that we're not sure how we fit in.  I talked with a friend of color who promptly told me I didn't understand.  I was white, privileged due to my color and that I could never quite get it.

That still doesn't explain it.  I do get it.  As an adult, no matter what color my skin, I understand why we're so pissed off.  Whether you believe it's racially fuelled, or  you believe this is more about police brutality, or you're simply pissed off that thousands of peaceful protesters are put into the same category with violent looters destroying the small town.  But as a white woman living in Southern California, I don't really see where my opinion fits in.  Like my friend said, I haven't ever really experienced any sort of discrimination due to my skin color except during my travels in south east Asia.  So how can I engage without having experienced the thing we're discussing?  Perhaps as white Americans we're just not sure where we fit in on the racism conversation. Firstly many of us are not racist, and we don't feel racism affects us personally.  Secondly, we're terrified of stepping on the toes of those we know who do deal with racism on a daily basis.  It's not that we don't care, it's just we're not sure how to show we do, so we say nothing.  The few people of color who have voiced negative messages about Michael Brown have been completely disowned by their community.  Take Pharrell Williams for example, who said Brown was "asking for trouble".  He told Ebony Magazine that Brown's behavior just moments before in a nearby convenience store where he pushed the clerk, seemed "bullyish" and said "...that in itself I had a problem with.  Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK.  Why aren't we talking about that?"  The backlash from the colored community has been cruel and racially fuelled. But isn't accusing Pharrell of being "less of a black man" just fuelling the fire?  It's a circle of hate, a circle of pointing fingers and putting up an even higher divide of what side you're on; white or black.

I personally have been fairly silent about the matter.  I'm not sure how I feel about the entire situation.  While I agree with racial tensions that are alive in the United States, I don't necessarily think that Ferguson is 100% about race.  It's also about the way our country's police force fully works.  It's about the 'murder' of a teenager from the start to finish.  Not only the execution but the way the police reacts to protesters, to looters, and to the aftermath.  Ferguson is also about the media.  How do they portray the events as they unfold?  Are they bias?  Are they part of the problem?  These are the problems America faces, together, white, black, Asian, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Jewish we're supposed to be in this together.

#Blacklivesmattertoo has become the norm on my social media feeds.  Many of those using it, ask the public to promote the idea that at the root of the matter it's all about race, suggesting the idea that black lives don't matter.  Something that not once crossed my mind.  Perhaps that's because I own the mind of a young white woman and when I see a white man kill a black man and vice versa, I don't jump to the assumption that it has anything to do with race.  Some may argue that's because I am white, I don't face racial injustice, therefore I am perhaps blind to it.  Others may agree with me, that each situation is different and perhaps certain incidents yes are about race, but just because two people of different races get into an altercation doesn't necessarily mean it's because of their race.  "Another white man kills a black boy" is becoming a house hold sentence.  But shouldn't it be "another cop kills an unarmed teenager"?

Sgt. Bret Barnum (left) and Devonte Hart take pause amid an otherwise hectic Ferguson rally in Portland earlier this week. Johnny Nguyen/Special to the Oregonian (Johnny Nguyen/Special to The Oregonian)

© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 24 November 2014

Barbie & The Real Girl

Meet Lammily.  She's fun, smart, and most importantly realistic.  Unlike Barbie, the new doll is physically modeled after the average "all-American girl".  Now before you roll your eyes and accuse me of bashing America's favorite past time, know this; I was a complete Barbie fanatic.  As a child I had every version I could get my hands on.  I preferred the ethnic versions, black, Asian, native American, bring on the red heads!  I'd stuff Barbie's clothes with cotton swabs to make her look more like me, and I'd use the iconic version as the town harlot, the dumb blonde, or the skinny "betch" during my make-believe sessions.  Barbie was my life, even though she was unrealistic, I loved her - every version of her.  But perhaps if I had, had a Lammily, I wouldn't have had to use those cotton balls.  Maybe I would have had more self confidence, maybe my outlook on my teen years would have been different.

Nikolay Lamm knew he'd discovered something bigger than just a doll when he created Lammily.  So using kick starter, Lamm made his idea of the all-American girl a reality.  This month, he took the prototype to an elementary school in Pennsylvania and asked the students what they thought about Lammily, the results are perfection.

Which doll looks most like you?

What kind of job would Lammily have?

What about Barbie?

So what's my point?  Their responses go to show, our younger generations need a new prototype of perfection.  Lammily is a step towards that idea, she's smart, fun, trust worthy, she's a sister, a friend, she's determined, she's on her way to a realistic success.  What's more, you can now purchase Lammily Marks for your doll.  These stickers include tattoos, pimples, cellulite and even stretch marks.
© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Newsflash! It's Happening Everywhere

Today the University of Virginia is up in arms about rape allegations put forth by a recent Rolling Stone article, depicting in detail the brutal crimes.  Fraternities have been suspended, while students are protesting against sexual misconduct and assault on campus.  Letters of former and current female students telling their own rape and sexual assault stories have been flooded into the Magazine's newsroom since the initial publication.  Understandably, staff and faculty are shocked that this has been happening on their campus and have vowed to do something about it.

But haven't we heard this before?

Rape and sexual assault have been in the forefront of the media in the past decade.  Everyday a new article or video surfaces supporting the fact that yes, this is a huge problem.  Gender blaming and gender shaming places the fault on the women who dress 'provacatively' and the men who 'can't control themselves'.  Others blame the media for all
owing rape and assault to be glamorized within our culture.  We're so busy trying to find blame, so busy trying to point the finger at someone, all while sexual assault numbers increase across the country.

The college campus is a breeding ground for sexual experimentation.  You're becoming an adult, trying to figure out who you are and sexuality plays into that.  National statistics say 1 in 20 women on any college campus in the United States will come forward as a rape victim.  Those numbers are scary enough, however as a young woman living in the United States, I applaud that 1 in 20 for coming forward, the other 19 didn't have the courage to.

The media blames women for what we wear, the drugs or alcohol we may partake in.  We blame ourselves for being too trusting or not 'prepared' when it happens.  But it happens.  And it happens everywhere, college campus or not.

Recently this video of a woman walking around New York City when viral.  People were shocked at the amount of cat calling and verbal sexual abuse the woman received as she went about her daily business.  When I saw the video I was disgusted.  Not because of what it depicted but by the world's reaction.  How can anyone think this is a new thing?  Now that you have visual proof you'll believe us when we say it happens everyday?

I spoke to a few friends who had posted the video, commented about the viral reaction or have been vocal about sexual assault, abuse and rape in the past.  We began to share our stories:

"As a lipstick lover, I love making sure my lips match my mood.  My favorite at the moment is red.  Unfortunately whenever I wear red lipstick I get numerous comments like 'I like those lips', 'That color would look great around my dick', and 'Hey Taytay'.  It makes me think twice about how I wear my make-up, how I feel in my own skin, and think twice about expressing myself."

"Whenever I get cat called, which is probably 100+times a day, I just yell back.  I yell things like 'DON'T' or 'STAY AWAY FROM ME'.  Usually the guy is taken a back, looks around to see if I've drawn any attention.  Only once did one guy say to be 'I like it when they fight back', before he walked away."

"I've been sexually assaulted 4 times in the last decade.  All by people I trusted, people I thought I knew, and in the 'safety' of my own home."

These are the stories that aren't being told.  These are the stories that Rolling Stone has just scrapped the tip of the iceberg with.  UVA is suspending their fraternities and gathering the student body to talk about these allegations and to try and figure out what to do about them.  That room will most likely be a room of blame, pointed fingers at the victims who simply brought it upon themselves and the men who couldn't help but take advantage.  But enough with the blame.  Stop with the shock that it's happening.  It is happening everywhere to the women you know and love, so stop blaming them, stop blaming those involved and start thinking about how we can come together and make a change, so that 1 in 20 women don't have to be brave enough to come forward.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Hot Tamale!

You know this writer loves to eat, it's no secret, but what some of you may not realize is my love to cook.  Even my list of 30 Before 30 includes a cooking class (preferably taught by someone with an accent) and now my dear readers, I can cross that off my list.

It wasn't the most glamorous setting, but when Northgate Markets decided to open it's doors to cooking classes, I was one of the first to sign up.  You see, Northgate is more than a supermarket or perhaps I should say super-mercado!  It's a mecca for an up and coming community here in San Diego and a hot spot for all things Mexican across southern California. The chain also prides itself on fresh produce and keeping lower income families eating healthy.  So when I need to buy my fruits and veggies, I look no further.  Where else can you get a pound of Nopales for .99 cents!?

Wearing an "I 'heart' Tamales" apron was just the icing on the cake.... (or perhaps the salsa on the tamale) to the bilingual class.  I learned what the most important ingredients to my tamale were, and like many delicious foods they involved lard and fatty oils. But with all those nopales I'm eating, I've got to balance out the healthy right?

We made 4 tamales: the first was a Traditional Red Sauce Pork Tamale.
Easily made, the traditional tamale uses a masa corn base pre-mixed with lard, salt, and a little bit of spice.  You can buy Northgate's pre-made masa or easily make your own.  Uses a corn husk, place the masa in the middle, spreading it to the edges of one end.  Then place the meat in the center and carefully wrap the corn husk, one side folded to the center, then the other.  You can use wax paper to wrap around the tamale when you are finished to better hold the shape in place while cooking.

A central American (Ecuadorian) Tamale wrapped in a banana leaf.
The second tamale was unlike any I'd had before, in taste, texture and preparation.  Instead of a corn husk, we used banana leaves to wrap our mesa and meat.  The banana leaf leaves the cooked mesa softer than the corn husk, and allows the flavor of the meat to seep into the soft delicious exterior.

And for dessert? (What kind of meal would it be without dessert?!) A Pineapple Tamale and a Strawberry Tamale.
I was incredibly sceptical at first.  I'm not a big fan of sweet versions of savory items, but when in Rome... or Mexico.  The last two tamales were by far the easiest to make.  Fresh Pineapple and strawberries were ground up and added directly to the mesa.  Instead of lard and salt, sugar was added to the base.  Unlike savory tamales, dessert tamales can be eaten without a filling, but if you're up to the task, you can put fresh fruit like mango and apples, or a less 'messy' filling like raisins or Cinnamon inside instead.  I wasn't a big fan of the strawberry tamale, but the pineapple? #nomnomnom

All three tamales can be cooked in the same way at the same time.  These particular tamales were steamed to perfection for about 35 minutes each.  To sign up for your own cooking class at any of the Northgate Markets across southern California, click here.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 17 November 2014

Showing Off "MY" City

No matter how "boring" or how much you dislike the city you might find yourself living in, when someone announces they're coming to visit you suddenly find yourself thinking with new perspective.  What do they need to see when they're here?  It's not a hard list to compile, no matter how big or small your home may be.

My relationship with San Diego is that of love-hate.  I'm a big city type of girl who succeeds in the rain, dreams in the wind, and uses the colors of the seasons for her palate of creativity.  San Diego is America's finest city, a place where the sun is always shining, the beach is always calling, and the vibe is nothing but relaxed.  Flip flops are the norm and my heels are paired with comments like You're not from around here are you?

But when it comes down to it, when it comes to hosting a visitor, San Diego transforms itself into a destination; a place to show off.  So I sat down and made a list.  A list of all the things my guest needed to experience while in America's finest city.

1. The Donut Bar
Perhaps having a breakfast place dedicated to the sole consumption of dounuts says a lot me, but surely it says a lot about the West Coast in general.  On the East Coast we have Dunkin Donuts.  But we don't nessisarily go there for the donuts, no, it's their coffee that keeps us craving more.  But here in California, it isn't about coffee.  Why would anyone drink coffee in 80 degree sunny weather when you can have a fruit smoothie or fresh pressed hibiscus tea?  But donuts?  Everyone loves donuts, espesically donuts made with this much love.

2. Balboa Park
Ok so we ate our donuts, now lets work all those calories off.  Balboa Park is home to 15 different museums, over 90 miles of fantastic trails, and some of the most beautiful spanish style archtexture the city has to offer.

3. WaveHouse & Belmont Park
Surfing isn't easy.  There's all that paddling out, waiting for the perfect wave, and then trying to stand up!  No thank you.  But at WaveHouse at Belmont Park, you don't have to paddle or wait, all you've got to do is ride those continuously perfect waves.

4. La Jolla Cove
It's beautiful, it's iconic and it's a must-see on my check list.  The cove lies on the edge of a deep ecologically protected area.  The water is calm and provides a great home to garibaldi, yellowtail, rays and leopard sharks.  If snorkeling is your thing, welcome to paradise.

5. The Golden Booth at Lucha Libre
There isn't anything better than Mexican food in San Diego.  It's always fresh, mixing that So-Cal health craze with the greasy beans and cheese of heaven down south.  And when one has the option to dine in a golden booth? Well, you'd be a fool to pass that up!  They've been hailed the best Mexican for years and years.  Not to mention their success on Man Vs. Food!

6. Coronado Island
Oh the island!  Coronado is located just across the bay from downtown San Diego.  It's home to the Hotel del Coronado, one of the largest wooden structures in the United States of America.  The resorts white sands mimic that of the east coast.  Vacationers lay on the pristine shoreline while military jets fly low overhead, set to land at the nearby base.

7. The Pearl's Weekly Dive In Theatre
I'm a sucker for outdoor cinema.  And at the historic 1960's motel The Pearl, they've got a weekly poolside showing of all sorts of films.  Check out their schedule here.

Stay tuned as the list continues...

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Here's to the Grog!

The invitation was sent and I would be attending my very first outing with the United States Military.  Their "dining out" experience wasn't something I'd ever heard of and my idea of preparation was finding a suitable outfit, making sure I was kind, courtesy and honorable.  Little did I know, I was stepping into a tradition that began in the mid 1600's, one where drinking was how you prepared, how you paid your respects and how you survived.  The Grog sits at the head at the table, waiting, ready to be devoured by those who break the rules.

The rules are simple.  No elbows or hands on the table, mind the manners your mother taught you.  Communication is key, no one leaves or returns to their seat without permission.  And conversation topics must refrain from religion, controversy and f-bombs.  As the wine flowed the rules were broken.  Punishments were handed out like candy on Halloween.  Peterson drink from the grog! Smith parade around the room and show off your uniform infractions!  Mann you must now only speak in a British accent for the remainder of the night and two more drinks from the Grog!

At one point I made my way to the Grog, not as punishment but in celebration of the Queen of England and their British Naval brothers who joined them overseas in Bahrain.  Justifiably, the Grog comes from the British Navy.  Grog was rum-based and a 1/2 pint was issued to sailors daily as part of their rations.  In the early 1800's, the Navy introduced whiskey as well as rum and the two were forever synonymous with daily life at sea.

Now-a-days, the Grog isn't part of daily life, but represents where the Navy comes from.  Life at sea, honor and tradition. At the end of the meal, the port wine was served.  Yet another proud United States Naval tradition.  Port will always be passed to the left and never allowed to touch the table.  Although there are many explanations for this tradition, one in particular arose from the need to keep one's sword arm free, just in case.  Another, comes from the Navy's phrase "port to port" traditionally meaning that the ship's decanter should be passed to the left.  Still another explanation stems from the British Royal Navy's Loyal Toast which is traditionally drunk in Port.

As we sat around the table, honoring the lovely men who have served our country, we broke the rules, took our punishments and made sure to drink the Naval traditions down to the last drop.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Pie or Cake? No Problem!

I'm a big foodie, don't believe me?  Just check these archives baby!  I've traveled over 5,000 miles for a single food experience, and now it looks like I'm going to have to head to 3 Brothers Bakery in Houston for their famous PumPecApple Pie Cake.

In business since 1949, the Bakery has been awarded numerous Houston-based honors like Best Bakery, Best Cinnamon Rolls, Best Coffee spot, Best place for desserts like your mom used to make - and that's just in Houston! It's the #1 bakery in Texas, according to The Daily Meal, and #11 nation-wide.  The list goes on, but you get the point.  This place knows how to bake and has taken extreme desserts to an entirely new level.

Anyone ready to visit Houston soon?

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

It's Real Love with John Lewis

It's the awkward season after Halloween, before Thanksgiving, but somehow everyone's mind begins to wander towards Christmas.  So yes it may be "too early" for some of you, but here's introducing one of the best advertisements of 2014.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Morning After

Phew it's over.  The midterm elections have come and gone and Wednesday November 5th will forever be the morning after.  For someone who works in the news, the build up of the election transforms into a tornado of results, reactions, and ultimately action moving forward.  We never pause for a moment, unless someone else is publicly reflecting.

Those who lost the election will replay the results over and over, possibly wondering what went wrong or if they're stuck in some nightmarish version of Florida in the year 2000.  The good news, they'll be the second stop on the reporters path, so sleeping in is an option.  After all it was Greek philosopher Thucydides who first said "In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it."

While those victorious this morning will find themselves in the sun.  From 0 to Hero, with new pokes, friends, likes, and the glitter of popularity glowing around them.  But they'll soon realize Americans aren't patient, living in a world of instant gratification.  We expect more from you than you could ever deliver.  Will you let us down too?

Win or loose, this is the morning after for every candidate, and whatever they might be feeling will live in their bones for years.  While Americans move on with their seasonal Starbucks flavors and exuberant demands for immediate change; forever asking so what now?

I for one want to know what word President Obama will use to describe this election.  Through out his career he's been a big user of words and slogans, usually transformed into trendy artwork by famous criminals like Shepard Fairey and Banksy.  He used the term "shellacking" after his party lost the house four years ago.  Perhaps some unique synonym?  Thoughts of Presidential Speech writers turning to come to mind.

And will the White House finally fulfil it's promise of bipartisanship?  

But this is the morning after, is anything really all that different?  The flip of the senate won't really mean much in the larger sense.  Despite the feud, the reality is Republican control will mean the same thing for our President's choices as it has for ever other two-term leader coming in for the home stretch.  Sure the non-controversial picks will get tackled but the whole tango will come to a halt as 2016's election year politics begin to kick up a storm.  And OH a storm it will be.

So while we wait and watch as the 2016 candidates begin to come out of the woodwork, prepare themselves to do the dance, we celebrate the little victories.  And for many across the nation (at least in Washington D.C., Oregon, and Guam) that means a wake and bake.

God Bless America. 

© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Fate of Dia De Los Muertos

Ok so Halloween came and went in the flash of an iphone selfie, but the weekend following the spooky holiday keeps the spirits coming if you're not ready to put the skeletons back in your closet.  Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is widely celebrated in the southern United States, across Mexico and Latin America. 

 The lively Mexican holiday honors (you guessed it) the dead.  It is a time for family, for remembering, and for honoring those who you've lost.  Family and friends take to the cemeteries, leaving large and colorful flowers, reminding the dead they're never far from our thoughts.   It is also tradition to clean the grave site, washing the tombstone and entering the crypt to tidy up their eternal resting place.  Personal alters with the favorite food and drink of the deceased decorate living room windows. 

But what many of us associate with the November 1st and 2nd holiday is the brightly colored skulls that surround every tradition.  Whether it's face paint or candied, these calaveras, are more than a symbol for the holiday much like a Christmas tree or St. Patrick's day four leaf clover.  The skull has always represented death, whether it's painted on a pirate's flag or on the back of a motorcycle gang jacket.  But just like the commercialization of Halloween in the United States from a traditional holiday celebrated the eve before All Saints Day to an all-consuming candy fest, Dia De Los Muertos and it's skulls are facing the same fate.  The skulls are usually portrayed doing something incredibly lively and are usually always smiling.  Irony rules over everything and reinforces the connection between the living and the dead, the skull is something we retain in life and death.  It was a symbol that was transformed into a beautiful piece of artwork, a way for a culture to make light of the difficult subject of fear, pain and ultimately death.  It's a symbol that is now slowly becoming just as commercialized as the rest of them, loosing it's deeper meaning, and finding a home on children's clothing and candy wrappers.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 2 November 2014

"I'm sorry to say this but you're now officially obese"

"Now I have your chart and after calculating your BMI, I'm required to inform you, you're now officially obese."

The way the word rolled off the doctor's tongue like opening the foil on an expired yogurt.  It's curdled, and we both tried to swallow it down.  I have no problem admitting I've always struggled with my weight.  I've been fat and I've definitely been skinny.  And since my skinniest I've gained exactly 30 pounds.  Funny how just 30 pounds puts a check mark next to the obese box at the doctors office.

"I am required by the state of California and this company's protocol to go over tips for weight loss with you before I can give you your medical examination."

I looked at the woman standing in the small blue lab coat.  I could see over the top of her head as she walked me to another exam room and told me to wait for a counselor.  She then gave me some reading material on how I should be packing my diet full of vegetables, fruits, and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Unfortunately what she didn't know was my diet contains meals full of fruits and vegetables, so much in fact it was literally eating into my bank account with my lovely vegan dishes and organic concoctions.  As for the exercise?  I walk 20 minutes to work everyday (usually in heels) and combine that with either a 3 mile run or at least 30 minutes of Pilate's, yoga or 'tone it up' videos.

I sat and listened as the counselor talked to me about the implications of my actions.  I couldn't help but wonder what "actions" she was talking about.  I was doing everything on her list and more.  I thought about telling her my exercise routine, how I didn't even like french fries and the last time I ate fast food was at least 5 years prior.  But she kept going on about my "current actions" how I was somehow doing something wrong to have put myself in the obese category.

So I simply sat and listened and decided to skip my evening run, after all I was already "obese".

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Because it's Halloween Weekend, Imogen Heap and Michael Jackson.  The only three things that matter right now.
© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What Happened When I Lost 70+ Pounds

If you're reading this thinking I may impart some weight-loss secret that might save your waist line, then read no further.  I'm afraid I know no secrets.  Let me start by admitting my transformation wasn't the aftermath of a change of diet, new exercise regime, or anything different.

The summer before I turned 22 I began loosing weight.  Simple as that.  I had been heavier my entire life and it was as if one day I woke up and my body thought "I don't want to be fat anymore".  3 months later I was 50 pounds lighter and still loosing weight.  At the end of the year I had gone from nearly 200 pounds to somewhere between 125 and 130.

The transformation was drastic.  My friends mentioned it candidly without asking while the rumors started flying as I returned to University to finish my junior year.  I was called into my student adviser office and questioned about my health, use of drugs, and overall well being.  Suddenly everyone was asking what was wrong with me.  And all I wanted to do was scream I'm finally skinny, why does that mean there is something wrong with me! 

Along with the rumors came the new found "friends".  People I had known for years who now started saying "hello" to me when I passed them in the hallways.  My phone rang more often.  And people from my past began popping up just say say "hello".

I suddenly became more self conscious without the extra 70 pounds.  I continued to wear size 12 when I fit a size 4, I hid in oversized sweaters, baggy t-shirts and began slouching.  While I had always been a bit conscious of my weight, now it controlled my life.  Everyone commented on it.  Oh my gosh you look so skinny!  Transformed into an insult rather than a compliment.

So you're all probably reading this thinking ok Barnacle shut up about how 'horrible' it was to be skinny and tell us how it happened. I wish I could.  I have always been active.  I walk everywhere, practice yoga on a regular basis and go through phases of running an average of 10 miles a week.  Through out my weight loss, I never once changed my exercise routine.  The one thing I will say is Bikram yoga really saved the condition of my skin.  Being in 100 degree heat really saved me from having stretch marks from rapid weight loss.

As for my diet, I didn't change anything.  I didn't cut out sugars, alcohol, carbs.  In fact during the height of my weight loss I was a sugar fiend.  I would eat bags of gummy bears, jelly babies, and wine gums.  I couldn't stop with the sugar.  Contradicts everything you've read right?  That's what the doctors said too.  They monitored me closely, even putting me on weight gainers at one point, which I promptly stopped taking.

What I didn't understand was why everyone saw the weight loss as a bad thing.  My friends, family, and doctors were concerned rather than happy I finally looked like a normal, healthy being.  Like the idea of loosing weight meant there was something wrong, rather than something good.

Now 5 years later, I've gained 30 pounds back and fit somewhere in between those two photographs above.  No one comments on my weight, no one exclaims how skinny I am or mentions I could loose a few pounds.  I'm happily "overweight" according to the American Health Association and that's the unfortunate norm.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Autumn Lips

It's officially fall (even here in sunny San Diego) which means it's time to change our make-up routine from pinks and bright corals to something a little more autumnal. While summer colors are lovely, bright and very refreshing, I'm so ready to switch it up.

Instead of your summer pink... opt for a Berry shade:

Burt's Bees is my go-to for pretty much everything and that includes my lip color.  I've been using their lip shimmer for years now and have settled on my favorite autumnal color: fig.  It's a mixture of berry and maroon that goes with all those big baggy sweaters and skinny jeans.  It's cool, calm and sophisticated without even trying.  Plus it'll leave your lips soft and healthy long after you've taken off the color.  Want something more on the berry side?  Try their Watermelon shade.

Instead of that bright red, go bold with a deep scarlet:

God I love me some red!  My go-to shade this season is from Boots, their No. 7 stay perfect lipstick in Cherry.  It's totally matte and totally sexy.  Not only is it a great deep red, but it lasts.  It's not sticky or dry, even after a meal and a few glasses of wine.

Instead of the soft coral... go nude!

I recently received Model Co's "Kitty" lipstick and am currently obsessed.  When I first saw the color I wasn't impressed, but I put it on anyways.  And before long, it's become my go-to "non-lipstick look".  It's semi-matte and it's definitely smudge proof, which is a must.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Don't Date a Girl who Travels

Monday, 27 October 2014


Lets face it, October is the best month.  I mean ok it's getting colder which means you can start wearing layers and hiding any extra weight you're suddenly gaining from all the pumpkin spice this and autumnal flavored that.  And with that cooler weather comes the change in leaves and suddenly the entire world is a new exciting hue or oranges, yellows and deep rich reds.  Then of course there's the beer, freely flowing at every October fest.  But above all the hashtag-autumn hype, is the Holidays.  Halloween is by far one of my favorites.  Not only do you get to dress up without any judgement, but there's candy corn (by far the best and worst candy on the planet) and there's scary movies.

I'm not one for scary movies, but when it comes to Hitchcock I'm sold.  And lucky for me, the local Reading Theatres are all about Hitchcock, especially during the month of all months; Hitchcocktober!  So of course I went to a few of my favorites.


There isn't much I dislike about this film.  It has everything from suspenseful terrifying moments, to a sorted love affair gone wrong,  disguise and deception, insanity, and of course a fear of heights that leaves you reeling after leaving the theater.  What's more, the film doesn't just have one plot twist that leaves your jaw on the floor, but two.


Not only was this one of the first horror movies I ever saw as a child, but it has kept me from being able to shower without panic for most of my adult life.  Psycho is truly terrifying and has come to be considered one of the greatest films ever made.  It set a new standard for violence, sexism and deviant behavior in the United States. It's hard to talk about the film without spoiling the plot, but it's famous shower scene isn't an easy one to watch. Fun Fact; It was the first movie to ever show a toilet, before it's release the concept of a toilet on film was considered too crude for audiences.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

This film was made twice by Hitchcock, I unfortunately have only seen the 1956 version made for Paramount Pictures. The original film was part of Hitchcock's London productions and like our common language, the films share some similarities and the same name.  When asked about the two films Hitchcock once replied; "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."  The film plays out as if an average "joe" finds himself trapped in the thick plot of a James Bond film.

Strangers On A Train

Currently holding the number 32nd spot on America's 100 most thrilling films of all time, Strangers on a Train is one of my favorite Hitchcock films.  Perhaps it is my love of trains and the idea of a tall dark handsome stranger that is so thrilling.  Promises are made, broken, and consequences are had.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Dial M for Murder

Definitely one of those films that make you think twice about having an affair.  As you watch the plot unfold, you realize how a film like this would never work in today's era.  A watch left unwound stops, creating havoc and throwing an entire plan off course.  You sit holding your breath, yelling at the screen, and realizing sometimes the truth is too unbelievable to tell.  And aren't crimes of passion the most terrifying tales? Love it.

Rear Window

Oh boy is this tale voyeurism at it's best.  This is also considered along with Psycho as one of Hitchcock's best.  A tale of misconstruction, misunderstanding and spying on your neighbors, which is just as relevant and terrifying today as it was over 50 years ago when the film was released.  It's about "watching" and the fear of those who live right next door, after all how well do we really know our neighbors?  Oh and on America's top thriller list; Rear Window comes in at number 14.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bossy Vs. Bitchy

I sat listening to my 6 month evaluation.  I was doing well but there was one thing I could improve upon, my Bossiness.

"Bossy" has gained a negative connotation among women over the last decade, becoming synonymous with "Bitchy".  As a director of a company, I find that any time I tend to over assert my authority my employees or clients ask me "what is wrong?" "bad mood today?" or they just give me that look.  Oh here the bitch goes again. 

But to a Boss is a coveted position.  The benefits, power, money all seem to reflect the title of empowerment, so why the double standard between the noun and the verb?  When men are put in charge they tend to be called Leaders but women?  She runs the risk of being branded "bossy".  Bossy has become the childhood version of bitchy, like mean is to asshole, jerk is to dick, etc.

I took my employers words to heart and decided to take charge.  The next day I made phone calls explaining what I needed done for the company, my expectations from my employees, and discussed our mutual goals for the rest of the year.

"What's wrong with you today, you seem a little.... bad day?"  I heard that afternoon from the head of the company.  As I tried to explain nothing was wrong, he began writing on a post it note.

"Smile" it read.

"I just thought you needed some reminding because whatever of whatever it going on with you today."

I have written in the past about the unfortunate state of my "resting bitch face", the way I look like I am angry, mean, and downright unhappy when my face is not smiling.  "When I first met you I thought you were such a bitch." I hear on a regular basis, which trust me, isn't a very nice thing.  I get it.  I look bitchy.  Perhaps it's my large cheeks that drag down the corners of my mouth when I'm not smiling.  Perhaps it's my lazy left eye that droops ever so slightly, more so when tired.  Perhaps it's just mother nature.  Either way it's my lovely face regardless of what emotions it portrays at it's resting state.

Unfortunately the double standard exists with or without my R.B.F.  And until there is a cure for either I'll continue to be a Boss, this time with a smile.

© The Traveling Barnacle
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