For the past several years, I have indulged in Maine lobster around NYE. I love Maine lobster, particularly after a few trips to Maine. We indulged in Maine lobster, sometimes twice a day. We would have a lobster roll for lunch, and whole lobster for dinner.
Some background on Maine lobster: This bright red crustacean was once considered the “poor man’s chicken” and was even used as fertilizer. During the early 1800s, lobsters were so plentiful that they used to wash ashore in piles up to 2-feet high. Because of their abundance lobsters were used to feed slaves, as the meat was cheap and easy to prepare.
Today, lobster meat is revered as a delicacy and perceived as a luxury food item. There are two different species of lobster- clawed and spiny. There are a few things that distinguish them from each other, here is why Maine lobster is the most popular of the two:
Spiny Lobster – This kind of lobster lives in warm water and has long antennas. This spiny lobster does not have the large claws like a Maine lobster which is the feature that clearly distinguishes the two. The spiny lobster can be found in warm Florida waters, in the Caribbean and the southern California coast.
Maine Lobster – Residing off the northern coast, this lobster is well-known for its large claws, which are bountiful with meat. The cool waters of Maine make this lobster sweeter and more tender than its spiny counterpart.
Now that you know why Maine lobster is so delicious it’s time to try some from an authentic lobster shack.
Maine is home to many different lobster shacks, people travel from across the world to taste this delectable seafood.
What side dishes go well with the lobster? I prefer Cole slaw, and some type of potato dish. A glass of white wine or champagne is also apropos.
My lobster arrived yesterday from Maine. Once a year, why not? Maybe add some veggies and a baked potato. And several glasses of my favorite champagne. It is a great way to say goodbye to 2021. Happy New Year, stay well, stay safe, and mostly, stay happy!
This will probably be the last edition of Gerry’s Travel Quotes. I am not running out of quotes, but it just seems harder to amuse myself. So, I will try to keep it light and funny, not so serious.
“Your body is not a temple, it is an amusement park. Enjoy the ride” – Tony Bourdain
“I have been to almost as many places as my luggage” – Bob Hope
Life is not a fairytale, if you lose your shoes at midnight, you are drunk!
I need six months of vacation, twice a year.
Your vibe attracts your tribe. (I like this one)
If you did not have a stupid story to tell, you did something terribly wrong.
Airports are the only place where it is socially acceptable to drink at 8am. Or on the plane!
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Unknown
“The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like toCanadaand stuff.”– Britney Spears “In America, there are two classes of travel— first class, and with children.”–Robert Benchley “Don’t worry about the world ending today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.” – Charles M. Schulz “I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it―unless I’m thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger “Road candy, eat it will you’re driving” – Anon. “I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.” —Phyllis Diller
“I never feel more alone than when I’m trying to put sunscreen on my back.” —Jimmy Kimmel “Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta “I liken making pinot noir to waking up a woman at three in the morning. You never quite know what you’re going to get.” – Luke Smith, Howling Bluff Winery
“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not the mind.” – Lionel Hampton
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them” – Desmond Tutu
I hope you enjoy this quarter’s quotes. This one is a little offbeat, I hope rather humorous. I hope you had a safe and healthy 2021. And an even better 2022. Feel free to share if you have some good ones!
From Economic Intelligence: What goes into an evaluation of whether or not a city is safe? Crime? Personal liberty? Dangerously dirty air? Bad weather brought on by climate change? The Economist Intelligence Unit released its biennial Safe Cities Index, which attempts to answer the question. According to the index, the world’s most dangerous city is Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar.
Formerly known as Rangoon, its colonial name, Yangon was on my travel radar a few years ago. It was finally designated as safe for tourism, the house imprisoned Aung San was released, and voted back into power with her political party.
1. Yangon, Myanmar
> Overall score: 39.5
> Digital security score: 28.1 — the lowest out of 60 cities
> Health security score: 44.6 — 3rd lowest out of 60 cities
> Infrastructure security score: 40.5 — 3rd lowest out of 60 cities
> Personal security score: 39.2 — 3rd lowest out of 60 cities
> Environmental security score: 45.3 — 7th lowest out of 60 citiesLet me tell you a little about our trip there back in October 2015.
I wrote this during our (me and Mr. Mike) visit there: We started in Rangoon, or as locals prefer, Yangon, the capital. We had an excellent, English-speaking guide (pictured with Mr. Mike) who not only gave us an insider’s tour of Yangon but answered a plethora of questions about life in Myanmar from us. Mostly, we saw people enjoying their leisure time, as restaurants in places such as Chinatown were bustling into the wee hours of the night. The revelry would remind anyone of Bangkok, Hanoi or Singapore. We enjoyed the atmosphere immensely.
We stayed at the nicest hotel in Yangon, drank our fair share of cold beer, and enjoyed some tasty local cuisine (pictured above). And although the locals were nice, there were certain questions they would not answer. And they had even more questions about life in America.
Yet, despite uncensored books being sold on the streets, the heavily armed military was everywhere. It feels and acts like a Third World country despite the newfound democracy and freedom of speech. Mike and I did not encounter any problems, fortunately.
Maybe because we were Americans, they viewed us differently. People were friendly, spoke enough English, and we always felt safe. Apparently, we only saw the surface. Perhaps out in the countryside, we would get a better glimpse of life here. We spent most of the afternoon on a nearby island riding a modified rickshaw-bicycle contraption (pictured above) with mostly local people, very few tourists. Again, everyone appeared happy, though living conditions were challenging, to say the least.
Today, I wonder if we should have visited. They say most of the money tourists spends ends up in the hands of the military rulers. With so many ethnic groups endangered, and the military in serious attack and kill mode, I cannot imagine returning any time soon.
It never feels good to know that we helped the enemy. How does one every know when visiting a Third World country? The people we met were friendly, welcoming to Americans, and hopeful of a better future. Though I never felt any danger, both Mike and I were always on alert. We used local transportation, cabs, and trains. We ate at local places, browsed local shops in the city, and the country. It seemed like such a charming place that retained its ethnic roots and traditions.
(from Well+Good) As the name implies, this is essentially the practice of giving a gift that someone gifted you to someone else.
For a long time, regifting had a bad rap. But as people start looking for more sustainable living solutions in every facet of their lives, the concept is catching on, especially amongst those who are looking to buy less. From a faux pas perspective, Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert, and host of the podcast Were You Raised By Wolves?, says there’s no hard-and-fast rule around regifting. Some may say its deceitful, while others believe it’s a genius way to pass along an item to someone who will use and enjoy it.
The only rule I would subscribe to for regifting: A regift should be something that you would’ve purchased for the receiver if you’d gone to the store yourself.
So, have you ever been the recipient of a regift? I am certain that the worst gift I have ever received was a regift. What was the gift? A book of math tables from an unnamed relative. You know who you are! But I was curious.
I opened the book one day and found a table of random numbers. For what purpose does anyone use such a table? Random number tables have been used in statistics for tasks such as selecting random samples. This was more effective and removed any bias than using dice or cards. These tables have now been replaced by computer generated random numbers.
We received some wedding gifts that were regifts. One was from my ex-sister-in-law! How do I know? The original card was tucked inside!!
Have I ever regifted? Yes, most likely a bottle of wine, probably something that I do not enjoy, like a zinfandel or chardonnay, but never a cheap wine. In fact, someone just gave me a rather expensive $65 wine since I know he does not drink. I am certain it is a regift. Thank you🙏 very much!
I have also gifted items that are new and bought for myself. This would include wine, books, and food items. What in the world does anyone do with a neck tie?
I also have been known to give my best used clothing to my brother. He loves the golf polos and the Tommy Bahama shirts. But he knows the clothing has been worn by me!
The tradition (of dining at a Chinese restaurant) probably originated in Manhattan, where Jewish and Chinese immigrants clustered in neighborhoods near each other. Rabbi Joshua Plaut also theorizes in his book, A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis The Season To Be Jewish, that because neither culture celebrates the holiday, they’re “outsiders” on Christmas” so there’s an inherent affinity there. Plus, Chinese restaurants tend to stay open every day of the year, holidays be damned. Whatever initially drew diners to Chinese restaurants on Christmas, they’ve become a beloved destination for holiday feasts on both coasts, and everywhere in between.
She goes further: “Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we make the joke that it’s our Super Bowl. It’s extremely busy, and people rely on us to be there for them,” Rose says. At Genghis Cohen, both dates are hopping for dine-in and takeout. Christmas Day probably sees a bump in dine-in reservations. “People make reservations almost a year in advance. When they walk out of the restaurant on Christmas Day, they make a reservation for the next year.”
Bottom line, I hope the restaurants make huge profits for staying open. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed Chinese food on Christmas only a few times in the past. I had a Chinese girlfriend, whose Mom and family were great chefs. I never missed the turkey or ham.
Growing up, our family enjoyed tamales from my Uncle’s foreman on the ranch, and my Dad’s chief mechanic. They made different styles of tamales, but we enjoyed both. In fact, we preferred the tamales to our turkey dinner at both Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Many Italian families I know always prepare seafood on Christmas. My cousins always make a prime rib. Of course, in Japanese families, New Year’s Day is the biggest celebration of the year, food wise. The traditional Shogatsu is celebrated throughout the day on January 1. It was always a highlight when my family had these celebrations. Sadly, we no longer have my Mom, grandmothers, or aunts around to make the traditional food.
Whatever you do, stay safe, enjoy the food and family. It is a special day no matter how you celebrate!
I have no words of wisdom myself. But please stay safe during the Christmas holiday. I wish you great health, happiness, and peace for Christmas and the New Year!!!
I found this email I sent in 2008, about holiday eating. It is hilarious!
I am going to borrow a few eating tips from the guru of gourmet, Debbie. I will reserve some editorial license where I differ from the norm.
HOLIDAY EATING TIPS
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls. (Amen)
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can…and quickly. It’s rare…you cannot find it any other time of year but now. So, drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas! (I have never been a big fan of the nog)
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat. (Amen again)
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission. (A great analogy for us men)
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? (If I snack, it is because I am hungry BEFORE the party)
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog. (Much like the Protestant work ethic, I must do something, probably walk 18 holes)
7. If you come across something good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again. (We could do the George Costanza and just stuff them in our mouths faster than anyone else)
8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day? (I must vote for Ingrid’s apple pie before all others)
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all costs. I mean, have some standards. (DO NOT like fruitcake, but have known many)
10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”
Debbie is wise, omniscient, and otherwise cool. And she really knows how to hunt and gather. Take heed!!
I was hoping to shock you with my twelfth day, with twelve drummers drumming. It suggests sort of a strange story and joke I heard recently. It involves the little drummer boy, playing his drum for infant Jesus in the manger where Mary and Joseph proudly rest. So, the punch line goes something like this: Do you think Mary, after giving birth in a manger to baby Jesus really wants to hear a drum solo?
So, let’s skip the drums for now. But in the music realm, I would like to suggest a favorite pastime of mine. I love to watch You Tube music videos, particularly during my downtime at work (which is not often, the work, not the downtime).
The nice part about You Tube music is the steady stream of suggested music, after I select the first one. Let’s say I choose a classical piece, like Handel’s Water Music. Similar music is loaded, and it allows me to pick and choose, or just let it run. The options run to other scores by well-known orchestras, other interpretations, and other compositions from the same composer. The options are almost limitless. And the videos are sometimes rather interesting as well.
Another favorite You Tube selection are the collaborations of famous musicians. It might start with Springsteen playing Pretty Woman with Roy Orbison. Or Paul Simon playing The Boxer with Jerry Douglas. Or Billy Joel and Elton John playing Piano Man. You get the idea, two great musicians collaborating on a hit song, with a little twist from its normal rendition. There are thousands of these collaborations on You tube.
I could watch these for hours, and it is FREE!!!!!
I hope you have enjoyed this year’s rather offbeat Twelve Days of Christmas. I continue the “tradition” only because some of you out there look forward to it. Along the way, I discover some new information that helps me. Perhaps some of this will help you.
Merry Christmas, stay safe and healthy. And maybe we will see you in 2022. Happy New Year as well! Gerry
If you have been to any of these countries, you know how much they value and appreciate the almighty U.S. dollar.
Back in 1980, the Vietnamese dong was trading at 2.05 to the US dollar. Fast-forward to November 2021 and the rate of exchange has nose-dived to 22,946.6 dong to the dollar. The Vietnamese government has devalued the currency many times since the 1980s in order to boost exports, which has helped the country to become an increasingly attractive alternative to China on the global manufacturing stage. However, Vietnam’s national currency remains one of the weakest in the world. This can in part be attributed to its relative newness compared to long-established currencies, which leads investors to view the money as a riskier investment.
The dong can only be exchanged within Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, and its coinage is no longer minted due to its incredibly low value. Denominations of the Vietnamese banknotes start at 1,000 and go up to 500,000. Confidence in the currency is so low that US dollars are widely used and largely preferred as a means to pay for goods and services, particularly by wealthier Vietnamese citizens and foreign tourists.
I know I have some 500,000 bank notes somewhere. They love Americans and the US dollar. Very few people remember the war, most likely because they were not alive at the time!!!
When Laos declared its independence from France in 1952, it officially replaced the French Indochinese piastre with its own currency: the Royal kip. This was then replaced by the Pathet Lao kip following the communist takeover in 1975, which itself was then swapped for the new Lao PDR kip just three years later.
Unlike other currencies deemed almost worthless, the kip didn’t suffer extortionate inflation rates, but was actually issued with a very low rate compared to the US dollar. However, inflation has affected the currency since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which has helped to push down the value of the kip. Thai baht and US dollars are also commonly accepted in Laos due to the kip’s instability, and at the time of writing $1 is equivalent to 10,922.9 Laotian kip.
I recall that we used Thai baht and dollars when we visited Laos. Of course, the US bombed the crap out of Laos, denying that we did anything to endanger innocent people there. During the rule of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, commonly known as the Khmer Rouge, in the 1970s, Cambodia became the first country to abolish money. The Cambodian riel was then introduced in 1980 after the regime was toppled, but the country has since struggled to establish a solid and stable economy.
As part of a peacekeeping mission in 1992, $1.7 billion flowed into Cambodia courtesy of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia and foreign investment in the country has been on the up and up ever since. The riel rode on the back of the dollar’s strength, to the extent that American money has since become Cambodia’s de facto currency.
However, more than four decades after its introduction, the government is pushing for the riel to become the predominant currency once again. In 2015 the National Bank of Cambodia unveiled a new strategy to encourage citizens to use riel and the country is currently going through a de-dollarization process that involves phasing out small denominations of US bills. Cambodia also launched its “Bakong” digital currency in October 2020, and it is one of only two central bank digital currencies in the world. As it stands, $1 is currently equivalent to 4,076.52 Cambodian riel.
Our dear friends in Cambodia love us, maybe because we bring US dollars when we visit. I have visited Cambodia three times, and Angkor Wat is one of my favorite places in the world! I will probably go again. Can you imagine having to carry your cash around in a laundry bag or wheelbarrow, just to have enough money to buy a loaf of bread? Plagued by serious devaluation, this is the reality in some nations as their currencies are not worth the paper they’re printed on. From the collapsing Venezuelan Bolívar to the ailing Iranian rial, read on as we reveal the world’s most worthless money. All conversions are based on Xe currency charts and are accurate as of 10 December 2021.
Consider yourselves fortunate to be an American when traveling to some of these places. I am sure you can picture me with “millions” of dongs, kip, and riel in my pockets. Forget using a wallet to hold it. A thick rubber band is best!!!
Euros, U.S. dollars and British pounds are much more manageable.
You would think that I am running out of ideas to keep busy during the pandemic, and the cold weather outside. But you may not realize that I am the “king” of staying busy.
I have covered a wide range of activities but left out one very important gift. Like many of you, I love to read, and my choice of subjects changes as rapidly as the weather, or my flights while traversing through Europe or SE Asia.
When I travel, I read lighter books, like novels, with John Grisham as my favorite. I also like Robert Ludlum, and even Dan Brown. I can usually trade with another traveler when I am done or donate it to the hotel “library.” Just keep it light.
I always carry a travel guide if I have not visited the country I am headed toward. And I sometimes carry a more “serious” book, like non fiction and biographies (my favs are former US Presidents and world leaders, inventors, musicians, scientists, and travel gurus). If you have never read a Paul Theroux, or Bruce Chatwin, I strongly suggest you start. They make travel and their cultural experiences come alive! That means I carry three books: light reading, serious reading, and a travel guide (I like several, Rough Guides, Fodors). You will never regret it!
And please, though it is easy to order from Amazon, support your local bookstore. I found a good used bookstore in my city, and love to patronize them. They buy back the books I have read, and I can put the $$ toward my purchase!!!!
You probably know that we no longer send Christmas cards. But we love getting the photo Christmas cards from you. My relatives and friends are so good about doing this. Here are a few that we cherish. Believe it or not, we did that for many years, particularly when the kids were young. I think our last one was taken in Honolulu, when we attended the wedding of a dear friend.
Many friends have posted their Christmas cards on Facebook, which is just as effective and enjoyable. And we tend to keep those much longer!
So please, keep on snapping, keep on posting, year-round. Your photos are greatly appreciated. Christmas photos are a great tradition!