Friday, September 29, 2006

templeton hits youtube

So, it looks as if I've found a new time-waster... I mean hobby: making videos and putting them on YouTube. Here's one of Templeton that I just took. It's short, and not all that interesting, but boy is that cat cute!

trying out youtube

I had a sudden surge of motivation to download some videos onto YouTube this morning. They're videos I took a few months back of Olivia and Gabe singing. I tried to embed them in this post, but was told that my "tag is not closed"... whatever that means. Anyway, click on the links below and prepare yourself for some serious cuteness.

Olivia singing "Jesus, Name Above All Names" (complete with actions)

Gabe's rendition of "Little Boy Blue" (with very appropriate attire)

And Gabe singing "Ba ba black sheep" (listen for the "woof")

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

if monkeys could talk... or at least show up

I went on a short hike yesterday. It was a hike that I usually take about twice a week, mainly because of its proximity to my house. The "dam road" (as my dad and I fondly refer to it, because it goes over a dam at one point) starts about ten minutes away from my house and ends quite close by as well.

The weather was especially nice yesterday, so I decided to take my camera with me. I usually try not to take unnecessary things when I'm walking on the dam road... partly to avoid carrying excess weight, and partly because it wouldn't surprise me if someday I was mugged on this road. So I figure the fewer things stolen, the better. But as I said, the weather was especially good, so I made an exception and took my camera along. I did this also in the hopes of documenting the existence of the monkeys that sometimes hang out along the road. They're long-tailed macaques, a non-native species that were brought over to HK and managed to escape captivity sometime in the early colonial days. There's now a pretty large colony of them, and you can find them on the hills around Tai Wai and Shatin. Actually, last year we even had a couple of monkeys that found their way into the school where I was working. It created quite a stir and provided the raw material for an over-abundance of student/monkey jokes among the teachers. On a more serious note, the monkeys can be very aggressive at times, especially if they think you have food with you. My own father has a tale of harrowing proportions, in which he was chased by a mission* of angry monkeys and had to go into a full sprint to escape them. And this happened on our own dam road. Yet the fear of being attacked by a troop* of monkeys hasn't detered me from returning to the road. And I've come across them quite a few times, but not on the day on which I was prepared to photograph them. Those dam monkeys.

So, all that to say that in an effort to completely confuse people, my post about monkeys has no actual pictures of monkeys. Instead, here are a few photos of the dam road. Since I do this walk quite often and am usually trying to go for speed (whatever that means in my case...), it was nice to be reminded of how much beauty there is even in this familiar place that I've come to take for granted.

A view of Shatin. That's the road that leads to the Shing Mun tunnel that's visible through the trees and vines. By the way, those little white flowers that are blocking the view smell wonderful!
Some cool bamboo shadows on the road.

One of a few streams passed along the way, complete with banana trees.

The road winds down. That's Lion Rock in the distance.
A view of one of my favorite kinds of trees -- the Flame of the Forest. It's named for its bright red-orange flowers, and it blossoms at least twice a year (one of the perks of a sub-tropical climate).

The road goes directly over the Shing Mun tunnel entrance.

More bamboo.

More banana trees. There's a whole orchard (??) here above an old village, but I'm not sure if anyone actually harvests the bananas anymore.

The "dam" in "dam road" is what blocks off the lower Shing Mun Reservoir from the Shing Mun "River" (I use quotation marks so as not to mislead people -- "concrete sess pool" would be a more accurate description). There's a road that runs all the way round the reservoir too, with some pretty cool waterfalls at some point, but I haven't been brave enough to explore very much of it on my own.
This is looking down to the bottom of the dam. If the reservoir is full, water shoots out like a geyser at the bottom before it is treated (for drinking??). Anyway, the part of the road that is visible in this picture is fun because you you get pretty soaked walking through the mist from the geyserish thing.

A diagram of the dam and reservoir that I'd never noticed before.

So stay tuned for some monkey photos. I guess I'll be taking my camera along with me until they make an appearance...

*both "mission" and "troop" are collective nouns used for monkeys. Though not used in this post, "circus" and "tribe" are also acceptable.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

cloud spotting

I stopped by Dymocks yesterday to see if they had the new Charles Frazier novel, Thirteen Moons. I read Cold Mountain a few years ago and really liked his writing style, so was excited to find that he has come out with a new book. Anyway, didn't end up finding it at Dymocks (will try Page One later), but what I did find was an interesting book called the Cloudspotter's Guide, which has been put out by the Cloud Appreciation Society. I didn't know there was such a society, so was quite excited by the discovery. Not to suggest that I myself am a talented or avid cloudspotter, but I'm excited to have (with the help of their website) a chance to develop my cloud-spotting potential.
I recommend checking out the cloud lookalikes gallery.

Friday, September 15, 2006

trip to lantau with the kite master

Last Tuesday I went with Jon to Lantau, for a day trip to Sunset Peak. Here's the view from the Central ferry pier -- what a clear day!

We went to Wellcome for some supplies and "luxury drinks" (pocari for me and diet coke with lemon for J Lo). Here's Jon with his ridiculously small backpack.

On the trail.

It keeps going...

I think that's HK island and Kowloon that I'm pointing to off in the distance...

A nice view of Castle Peak and Tuen Mun. I did't remember this particular view from other hikes up... was it just never clear enough before? Or am I just unobservant? Probably the latter...

We went over to Cabin 2 and had lunch on the roof.
Me enjoying the view before the clouds rolled in.

The Kite Master hard at work.
As you can see, the kite we selected was either a hawk or a kite (the bird variety). We couldn't decide whether to call it Kitey the Kite Kite or Hawkney.

Look at that thing fly!

Kitey/Hawkney's downfall... literally.

Saying goodbye to Cabit 2.

A nice sign at the bottom of the trail. I thought the little panic-stricken stick figures frantically running away from the landslide were a nice touch.

This was a sign we spotted on the ferry, on our way back to Central. I guess sometimes we all need a little reminding...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

more chihuly glass pics for sal

Here's a whole post devoted to Chihuly for you Sal. Some of the pictures aren't of the best quality, but I hope you enjoy!

I could be wrong, but I think this is the largest Chihuly glass sculpture in the world. As you can see, I couldn't even fit the whole thing in a single shot.

These last two were part of a very large ceiling display.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

some pictures from my trip

Well, I'm finally posting the pictures that I promised! I think the task of writing a post about each place I visited seemed a bit daunting (which is probably why I put this off for so long). So to try to simplify things for myself, I've decided to condense all my trip into one long post, attempting to stick to the highlights only(whatever that means...). I visited 4 states and 1 district on my trip, so I've tried to divide my post and photos accordingly...

Part I: California -- Long Beach

Joanna doing some serious work on her car. Actually, she's trying to find out where to add coolant.
Jo took me to Vanguard, where I saw some of her classrooms, and this, the counselling room where she and other students see patients. Here's a nice timer photo: that's her in the chair looking wise and counsellorish, and me lying on the couch with a box of tissues.

At Jo's house in Long Beach.
Can we help you?

Part II: Maryland

On my first day on the east coast, I took the train from DC to Baltimore, "the greatest city in America" (see below), to visit Laura, who I hadn't seen in 4 years!

Laura showed me around Baltimore, where she's been working towards her MDPhD at Johns Hopkins (!!) for the past four years. Here she is standing in front of a building which is supposed to be the Baltimore police station in a current police drama (the name of the show eludes me right now...). Anyway, it's not really a police station at all... but don't ask me what it really is.

Here's Laura on top of Federal Hill, a spot that affords an excellent view of the city (and incidentally, also happens to be where her husband, Aaron, proposed!).

Laura and Aaron in their apartment.

Here we are after a nice breakfast and right before parting ways. Laura headed to her lab, and I made my way to the train station.
On the train back to DC.

Part III: Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia

I came back from Baltimore and met Kristi at Dupont Circle for lunch. Then we walked to the Japanese embassy, where she works.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the embassy area. It was a beautiful day, and I loved looking at all the interesting old town houses. I also saw a lot of flags that I didn't know -- it's time to brush up on my vexillology.
Dinner with Kristi, Tom, and Kristi's parents. Kristi's posing with a bottle of Coke Blak, a drink that we discussed at some length, but that I still don't understand... coffee and coke together?

Tom and Kristi at Kristi's new place. Great placemats!

Part IV: Southeastern Virginia -- Williamsburg

Ji and I took a weekend trip to the place that we spent four idillic years -- Williamsburg, VA! Our visit began in a very fitting way -- with a delicious lunch at the Cheese Shop. Sandwich, chips, and an ice-cold bottle of Cheer Wine (a cherry flavored soda I was pleasantly surprised to find for sale, because I'd heard it was only available in North Carolina. I'd wondererd about Cheer Wine for a long time, and was concerned that I'd never get a chance to try it. Now that I have tried it, I know that it tastes quite a bit like cherry-flavored cough syrup... but in the best way possible...).

After lunch, I enjoyed a scoop of Gold Medal Ribbon at Baskin-Robbins. It might not be visible, but there's a "Help Wanted" sign in the window. It was tempting...
Statue of Lord Bortetourte (sp?), an early governor of Virginia.

Ji and I in front of the Wren building, TOABSIU (The Oldest Academic Building Still In Use... but how many times did it burn down? I forget...).

Another view of the Wren Building. Just looking at this picture makes me want to break into song... "William and Mary, loved of old, hark upon the ... gale?... hear the thunder of our chorus, alma mater hail!"
Me and TJ. We both went to William and Mary, but only one of us actually graduated. I'll let you figure that one out...

Camping next to water, near Jamestown.

Mr Biscuit, resident of the Chickahominy House (restaurant and shop) in Williamsburg. We enjoyed a nice hearty pancake breakfast there after our night of roughing it in the tent.

Before we headed back north, we were able to soak up some rays at Colonial Beach. I came here a few times in college, but mainly for classes. I remember collecting specimens here for an invertebrate biology class... those were the days!
Part VI: DC... again

I took the Metro into DC one day while Ji was at work. I went to the National Gallery and the Museum of Natural History (great Lewis and Clark exhibit!), and just wandered around the Mall a little bit too. Here's a view of the Capitol.

Part VII: Oklahoma

Here are Ryan and I at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. This was actually in the "Kid's Corral," where, in the words of a very nice old lady, "adults often have more fun than the kids." We never really figured out what she meant by that, but obviously we were very enthused about warming our hands by this artificial camp fire.

Jazz flute (or maybe "blues flute" would be more accurate) at the Hillbilly Cafe. This guy was part of a band called "Big Daddy."

My meal at the Hillbilly cafe -- the best BBQ ever!
On a somber note, we visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial.
A shot from the Chihuly glass exhibit at the OKC Museum of Art. This picture brings back painful memories because I took it while running through the exhibit right at closing. I think I could've easily spent hours in this exhibit alone. Well, maybe an hour... at least half an hour... it was really fascinating stuff

Lisa with the Trivial Pursuit DVD menu. Yay for the pop culture edition!

Lisa's dog, Joey, resting after a hard day.

Part IIX: Back to Northern Virginia (for a day!)

Newly-married Andy and Norma (my sophomore and junior-year roommate who I hadn't seen in 4 years!). Norma's now teaching 1st grade in Reston.

Roommates reunited.

A farewell dinner with Ji at Potbelly. Great sandwiches and an amazing vanilla malt! Is it just my imagination, or are a lot my captions (and photos) focused around food?

Part IX: Back to California

I noticed this license plate while waiting for my ride (Becky in her red Miata!!) at LAX. I thought it was very creative, and not surprisingly, the owner of the car was Chinese. (For anyone who might not be aware, the number 8 is very lucky in Chinese culture).
Lunch at In-N-Out with Athania, Chris and CR. Animal fries are crazy!

Steve at Biola. It was nice to finally see his school!

Here I am with Becky at her new place. On a meaningful side note, we took this picture at this angle because the boxes in the background are ones that I helped her pack almost a year ago. It was good to see them being unpacked, and familiar things decorating her lovely new home!

Athania and I with two kitties (I was going through cat-withdrawal...) at a special pet accessory store and bakery (yes, bakery) in Whittier.

Curtis and Cristy Rose at the farmers' market in Whittier, where we all had dinner one evening. I like this picture.

Furniture shopping with Chris and Athania at Ikea. The three of us were speechless when we got to the pick-up area of the store -- I think it was the largest room I've ever been in.

This is Steve and I with our cousin, Mike, who's studying at Talbot now. I was glad to get to introduce him to Chris, whose also doing a program there.

At Chris's surprise birthday party. Like our tasteful, well-executed decorations?
My last night in the US, with the Keddys and Bakers.

One more picture: this is a polaroid Curtis had that we took our senior year of highschool. Hard to believe that that was more than 8 years ago!
As you can see, it was a wonderful trip! It was great to reconnect with old friends, and to see for myself what everyone's been up to. Thanks to all who took time out to show me around, drive me places, entertain me, etc. -- you made it truly enjoyable!

The end.