Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cowabunga duuuuuuuudes! How to couchsurf with nomads!

We've all been stranded places. 

In fact, I'm sure many of us have had to rely on complete strangers for directions, information or maybe even a place to stay and/or a lift home. Hell, when I was in Europe, strangers opened their homes to me left and right when I was lost with no place to go. It was amazing!

However, I've always felt like we're less hospitable in the states. I mean, have you ever been the one doing the helping? Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker? Have you ever let a complete stranger stay at your house?

Besides letting "friends of friends" crash at my place, the closest I ever came to helping out a stranded traveler was when I was working at a restaurant in Ventura a few years ago. I happened to find a sleeping person (dressed like a gypsy!) in the women's restroom near the end of my shift. When I woke her up to see what was going on with her, she began to tell me how she needed money, because some guys she came to Ventura with from San Luis Obispo (2 1/2 hours away!) had just ditched her. So, I told her to wait for me to finish my shift, and then I gave her a lift to the train station all the way across town. I also gave her $5. Not much, but I figured it was a start. It was pretty scary, but also pretty eye-opening. The woman was obviously fucked up on some kind of drug, but I felt bad for her and wanted to do something. Perhaps it's because I kept picturing some asshole guys laughing about totally using her, getting her all fucked up and then leaving her in a town far away. (I'm like tooootally a feminist.) So, she didn't try to kill me or rob me. Instead, she thanked me the whole way, said some spacy things, offered me some pot (which I refused), and stunk up my car with patchouli oil.

You've gotta love those transient hippies.

Anyhow, here are just a few resources for those who want to help poor travelers, and for those who need a little help from strangers. This way, you don't have to go to sleep in the bathroom of a Greek restaurant. 

The Couch Surfing Project:
The name gives it away, but here's their hippified mission statement -- 
As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world- it's about participating in creating a better world. We strive to make a better world by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!
(SN&R's write-up about the Web site)

A similar mission statement --
Our aim is to bring people together - hosts and guests, travelers and locals. Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. Joining is free, takes just a minute and everyone is welcome. Members can look at each other's profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website.
Craigslist Ride Share:
I'm a little scared of Craigslist stuff sometimes. Here's a sample post that kind of creeps me out, just because it's so nice... also, he uses the phrase "velvet-bellied"  --
Hi there! Tomorrow morning I am headed to the beautiful land of north and could use some company for the long drive. From Sacramento on out, there will be room to comfortably seat 4 adults (or children masquerading as adults), 5 if we put an extra in the front middle bench seat. I'd be willing to drop you off in whatever town you wish along the way, be it Yuba City, Chico, Redding, Mt Shasta, Ashland, Medford, Grant's Pass, Roseburg... The plush, spacious, velvet-bellied boat of a car I'll be driving is a purple air-ride Lincoln Town Car- very comfortable and cushy for such a long venture, but unfortunately not equipped with A/C. I also have a bike rack on the back with room for one more bike!! I will be coming from Berkeley and am shooting for about an 11 am departure from Sacramento. Let me know who you are and where you need to go. You can reach me on my cell phone, any time, at XXXXXXX. Thanks very much for reading and I hope you have an excellent day. Happy travels!

This online guidebook may or may not have been started by a certain awesome musician named Tom Thumb, but I'm not sure if it's the same one. Either way, here's what this gang is all about. They get extra points for their stellar use of a certain (commonly masculine) default pronoun --
Road Junky Travel Guides are by no means the authority on the world. They are instead written to make you think, laugh and get a rough feel for a country. We go the extra step and tell you things other guides don’t and won’t dare to discuss. We’re for the inspired, independent traveler. The person who can just get up and go. The person who is moved by what she sees. The dreamers.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

"...And underneath that, write 'We will miss you'. Got it?"

My current blog obsession is Cake Wrecks where disastrous and hilarious cakes are documented. In terms of sites you go to out of complete boredom, it's almost as good (and pointless) as ManBabies.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

another fabulous art/craft website - ETSY.COM

"Your place to buy and sell all things handmade"
...and you really should buy AND sell, because everything I've seen on ETSY is wonderful, beautiful, and surprising.
Felt barrettes, crocheted hats and jewelry, earrings, aprons, paintings, clothes, infant clothes, pet accessories... you can pretty much find anything your heart desires on this website (made from almost any material). And it's all with a handmade, artistic flair.

I am not poetic or graceful with words, so I won't ramble. Check it out! You won't be disappointed.

[ this post was inspired by the 'little paper airplanes' post by mel<3 ]

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Euro-vegan: Two cheap, yummy potato recipes from friends in Germany and Prague

Be warned: For those who aren't naturally adventurous with food, these two dishes may look/sound unpleasant. However, I can assure you that the results are the complete opposite! Never judge a book by it's cover, my friends.

Also, I received both recipes via e-mail in makeshift English, so just go with the flow and trust your own culinary instincts when preparing the two.

Frühlingstofu mit Kartoffeln (AKA "Spring Tofu with Potatoes")

This recipe is great for the summer. It's a cold "tofu salad" that you serve over warm, peeled baby potatoes. My friend Olli (dude in the heart picture) from Munster, Germany made this for us when he was visiting California with my German lover, Sarah (Olli's GF). I believe Olli's Oma (grandmother) made a similar dish for him when he was a boy. I think it tastes a lot like potato salad with tofu, but friends who say they don't normally like potato salad dig it too. Either way, guten appetit!


1 kg baby potatoes (I use baby dutch yellow potatoes. Choose your own amount.)
1 block extra firm tofu
1 bunch of chives
1 soy cream or creme fraiche (Olli uses Alpro Cuisine Cream, but I don't know if you can get that here, so I just used plain Silk Soy Creamer (yes, like for coffee)
1 little glass of Vegenaise
2 tablespoons of mustard
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of (apple)vinegar

1. Chop the chives and the tofu in little blocks.
2. Blend the rest of the ingredients together (except the potatoes), put in in a bowl with the tofu and chives and put it in the fridge. You want this dressing to be slightly watery, but not too bad. Use your own judgment in regards to evening out the amount of Veganaise and creamer.
3. This is a funny term, but "boil the potatoes in their jackets" and then peel the skin off.
4. Serve the chilled "Frühlingstofu" over the hot potatoes.

Potato and Sauerkraut Soup

This soup is SO GOOD, and you can make it super spicy if you want. It's a hearty, delicious dish that converted my friend Ashley from a sauerkraut hater to a sauerkraut lover. My friend Josef (featured in the pic with Ash and me) made it for us when we stayed with him in Prague a few years ago. He also said something about his mom making it for him a lot when he was a kid. The main thing I remember about Josef is that he's very cynical (in an endearing way) and he really really loves Nick Cave and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." (This gives the dish "cool" points, no?)

Here is what Josef sent me:

here is recipe .first one onion on small pices fried on oil ,then red pepper
powder, and potatoes fried little bit ,be carefull with red... powder ,if
you fried too much its gor brown and it will be bitter,small flame, the
sauer kraut,let it boiled ,on end mixed some flavour with watter ,thats
makes some sort ofr doug and mixed in soup ,then is thicker .do this when
,potatoes are ready.fuck yeah dude.

And here is my translation. You mostly have to wing it, but you get the idea:


1 onion
Vegetable/Olive Oil
Red Pepper/Chili Powder (amount depends on how spicy you want it)
A jar of sauerkraut
Water (Might be good with some type of broth?)
2-3 russet potatoes or a bunch of baby potatoes

1. Chop up some onion and your peeled potatoes. Boil potatoes until they are soft-ish.
2. Fry onion under small flame with oil and desired amount of chili powder/red pepper.
3. When potatoes are soft-ish, add potatoes to frying pan and mix around. Meanwhile, start to boil sauerkraut with some water.
4. Add potatoes and onions to sauerkraut soup and continue to season. Also, mix flour and water to add to the soup to make it thicker, according to Josef.