Sunday, June 26, 2016

Just Some Bulldog Stuff

Bulldog Accessories
My latest design is a by-product of my insomnia. People handle a sleepless night differently. Some count sheep; some meditate; some self-medicate with whiskey. Me? I said screw this, left the bed and designed a goofy Bulldog. Am I a Bulldog owner? No. But I totally identify myself with this particular dog breed. Personality-wise, I'm like a Bulldog in human form.

Well, first of all, we're short but strong, ostensibly grumpy but actually friendly. We drool a lot when we sleep, hate extreme weather, and suck at running due to our stubby legs. When we're unhappy, we grunt aggressively. When we're happy, we grunt calmly. Yeah, it might be fair to say we are over-grunters. We're not antisocial in any way but we do value our "me time." With strangers, we tend to be reserved but not hostile. With children, we are hopeless softies. Our number-one obsession is food. And snoring on a couch is our favorite afternoon pastime. On the downside, we're quite stubborn and don't usually listen well. If you want us to do something, don't keep repeating yourself over and over or try to intimidate us. We're not pushovers, you know. Incentivize us with gourmet goodies instead. This method usually works wonders. Call us shameless gluttons if you may, but dieting is really not in our DNA. So if you want our full cooperation, just give us something to eat!

Bulldog Baby Onesie

Bulldog Sweatshirt
To view more Bulldog merchandise, visit

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Paranormal Adventure - Fallon Hotel

Address: 11175 Washington St, Columbia, CA, 95310

Nestled in the lush Sierra Nevada foothills, Fallon Hotel was built in 1852, and as the rumor goes, it's been haunted by a mischievous little boy, believed to be the son of the original owner. Several paranormal activities have been reported by both staff and hotel guests. Many claimed to have seen the boy's ghost in the hallway and/or their rooms, and oftentimes, he would be holding his favorite green ball as if looking for a playmate. Some were woken up in the middle of the night, feeling as though an uninvited bedfellow had laid down beside them or feeling their foot being yanked by an invisible hand. There have also been guests who got so spooked they couldn't even last a night there; one couple packed their bags and left before sunrise claiming, "Something truly evil resides here." Most people who had supernatural experiences at this hotel didn't mind it too much, though. In fact, they sounded more amused than horrified. 

With this notorious information in mind, I booked a room at Fallon Hotel for one night and hoped my ghostly experience (if any) would be of non-malicious nature. My husband and I arrived there at around two in the afternoon. The receptionist, schoolmarmish and clad in 1850s costume, took us to our room on the second floor. The small wallpapered boudoir received us warmly. Everything about it was quaintly charming, and in many ways, befitted its reputation as a haunted hotel. The plank wood floor creaked softly every time we walked. The toilet had a high tank and an old-fashioned pull chain, which I, a horror movie enthusiast, couldn't help but imagine to be oscillating and jangling by itself at night. The antique bed frame squeaked ferociously whenever we made the slightest movement. An old rocking chair sat solemn in the farthest, dingiest corner of the room. Above it hung some black-and-white photos from the Gold Rush era. 

That night, my husband slept soundly while I dozed in and out all through the dark hours. I guess it was partly because of my lingering anticipation for a ghost to tickle my feet or sing me a lullaby. The real culprit for my discomfort, though, was probably the darn squeaky bed. Around midnight, half-asleep, I heard some heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, then indistinct chattering of two or three men in the hallway. It lasted a good few minutes, ended abruptly and happened again about half an hour later. Exact same thing. Footsteps and chattering. It was a bit strange since all the stores, restaurants and saloons in this historic town were closed by ten. The place was completely dead then. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No vending machines anywhere. No 24-hour business center. Why should people be walking around and talking outside of their rooms? But well, midnight strolls weren't that unheard of, or perhaps they just checked in very late, I thought to myself and went back to sleep. 

Besides that, nothing out of ordinary happened that night. The chair didn't rock by itself. The toilet didn't mysteriously flush. The infamous boy's ghost didn't pull my hair, coo into my ear or make his presence known in any way. Obviously, I wasn't cool enough to be his playmate, and yes, I felt somewhat rejected. It wasn't until the following day after I got home when I noticed something odd in one of my photos.  

This is a picture of the corridor leading to room 15, said to once have been the boy's nursery. What piques my curiosity, though, isn't the corridor itself but that glorious shaft of light on the stair landing. I don't remember seeing it when I was there taking the photo and walking down those very steps. One could assume it is some kind of light reflection, and that might be exactly what it is. But I honestly can't think of an object, window or anything that could give off such a luminous beam right there on that particular spot. 

Could it come from the wall lamp above it? Very unlikely. Or could it come from the French door on the first floor? Possibly, but judging from the angle, that doesn't seem right. Also, no vehicles, except horse-drawn carriages, are allowed on the street the French door faces, so it can't be a light from a car passing by, either. And if you look at the landing carefully, you'll see that this mysterious ray of light even has its own hazy reflection. 

I shot this photo with my lame iPhone, not a film camera. The lens was clean, and the photos taken right before and after this look perfectly normal. And no, I didn't photoshop it. (With my Photoshop skills, I could have created something much more fascinating and eerie than this!) So I don't know. Maybe, just maybe, the spectral boy did play a little prank on me after all. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Indo Cafe

Have you ever had a dear friend or that special someone who's incorrigibly lame in multiple aspects and yet you just can't quit them? You're well aware of all their shortcomings, such as their questionable hygiene and abusive sense of humor, but you still love them and keep reminding yourself of their other good qualities. I know it doesn't sound so wise, but that's exactly the nature of my relationship with this restaurant. 

Indo Cafe is located in Old Sacramento, a tourist trap frequented mostly by happy-go-lucky sightseers who'd likely prefer spending their vacation money at more festive places like the Murder-Mystery Dinner Theater or Joe's Crab Shack. One has to wonder why they would run an Indonesian restaurant here rather than in midtown where adventurous foodies abound or on Stockton Boulevard renowned among locals for its Asian food scene. It seems like business suicide and yet Indo Cafe has survived for nearly a decade. 

From the exterior, it looks more like a sad little convenience store than a mom-and-pop eatery. The inside isn't any more cheerful. A few tables line up along a wall with very little space in-between. When all tables are occupied, diners will have no choice but to sit literally back to back, hearing every bit of one another's conversation. On top of the claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere, it also has this faint smell of a musty garage. Outdoor seating is available, but it comes with a partial view of the not-so-pretty public commodes. 

Having said all that, I would love to return to Indo Cafe and have another nice homey meal there. I will endure the parking nightmare in Old Sacramento (which often triggers my murderous urge) just to eat their fluffy potato croquettes. I will overlook the commode view and turn a "blind nose" on the musty smell because the flavor of their beef rendang is incredibly spot-on. I will order their tempeh goreng again even though tempeh is a yucky soy product I normally hate with an unfathomable passion. And every time I'm there, I will keep pestering the friendly owner with the question, "Why don't you move to midtown?"