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Friday, September 29, 2006

Free Peanuts!

Last night was MHFC fat camp. I called up El Torito about car-pooling and he said "oh, i didn't think you would be able to make it." and I replied "i didn't know either". He offerred to drive this time and took the faster and longer route. We got there and everybody was there already.

Fat camp has been an educational experience. I learned the following things through fellow campers:
1) Margaritas containsTequila
2) I prefer "girly" drinks
3) what happens in Vegas doesn't really stay there
4) it is difficult to remember the details after two margaritas
5) CherkyB does not like peanuts... in his beer

I recall walking with the guys through small crowds at Rio's looking for somebody's girlfriend that we had never met but found him with another guy from work as we were leaving. I had my 2nd Margaritas there and it was better than the first time. I could see why people say Rio's has good Margaritas. I think I felt numbness in my left foot afterwards.

We then went to this other place that charges $ to get in. I had never been to da "Wash Bar" before so it was like paying $3 for a tour of a bar. I don't know what's really special about place but we really like the air hockey table - and we weren't the only ones...

We then went to LJ's to have peanuts since Mr 10th anniversary + 1 week missed having peanuts. I did not stay there long enough in the first fat camp so it was refreshing to see nut shells all over the floor. I had never seen a big tub full of peanuts up for grabs. It had been years since I've eaten peanuts non-stop. I used to love eating them -- and I found out that I still did as we sat around peeling and eating peanuts. We sat at this table next to the brickwall, close the front so we get blasted by the music and not-so-great singing. I had a hard time hearing -- and I could not tell if it was the Margaritas , the loud music... or both.

Soon El Torito started tossing peanut shells backward. I looked back to make sure there were no one behind me and started doing the same. I was in a zone, eating peanuts and tossing the shells behind me -- happy that I don't have to clean up the mess. It was blissful. I was starting to enjoy fat camp. Later some people came in and sat not too far behind me and it ruined my happy tosses... Well, my depression didn't last long when I realized that I could just throw the shells against the brick wall in front of me... so I threw the shells against the wall and noticed that they don't really bounce with my casual tosses. I then flicked the shells and found them to bounce back further. It brought good old memories of the younger days when I would copy this kung-fu shows' main character's flicking little rocks/pebbles to see how accurate I could be... the guys didn't seem to mind as they drank/chatted so I continued to relive my childhood... eating peanuts and flicking peanut shells against the wall. I was happy.

All of the sudden, Mr Beer seemed to turn red and started trying to tell me something with animated expression. I had a difficult time hearing him with the loud music. I strained to try to hear why he appeared so upset but it sounded like "blah blah blah" most of the time. I soon realized he was upset about his drink through hand gestures and I looked inside his beer glass and found some peanut skins on the surface. I figured out that he wanted me to stop tossing because the crumbs were falling into his drinks. I thought it was odd since I did not try to bounce the shells into that beer glass... Then again, since I was obviously not paying attention, maybe I got some crumbs in by accident. So I stopped reliving my childhood.... and simply ate the peanuts... while tossing the shells onto the floor.

Five minutes later, Mr Beer got really upset with his beer and then me or vice versa. He fished out these big peanut shell pieces from his beer glass. I found it funny that he thought my peanut shells would bounce against the floor and into that beer glass a few feet above... so I laughed.

Soon El Torito noticed that it was close Cinderella time and we needed to head back before getting turned into mashed potatoes. That was the end of the night for us.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I ate at KFC on Friday! Wife said okay and that made my day. :)

I ordered the 3-piece extra crispy chicken combo not on the menu. Yep, when you really know your KFC, you get to order like a celebrity and order off the menu. It's just like how I used to get 8-piece buckets with dark meat only in the good old days before I was banned there for concers regarding my health... but let's focus on the positives here. I got to eat at KFC!

Happy thoughts brings happy images...

RyanC loves looking at horses from our backyard. There were some white horses to the right but they were blocked by the fence. These horses used to reach over to eat our grass in the earlier years when I didn't have in-laws to help mow the lawn.

Today we dressed up the kids to get ready to go to our favorite Japanese restaurant for lunch. RyanC is smiling at AidanC, AidanC is smiling at daddy, daddy is smiling at AidanC to trying to get him to smile more... We are a happy family!

RyanC also loves to kiss AidanC. Here is one of the many pictures snapped by wife in today's photo session:

Friday, September 15, 2006

About Last Night

This morning I told wife what I drank night at fat camp and then she asked "So... how often are you going to have fat camp? Once a month?" I started going "ehhh...." and she asked "you are not going every week, are you?" I went to work early then...

Mile High Fat Camp started about ~5 minutes after planned schedule since I could not find a parking spot right outside the pub. El Torito and I walked into the pub and did not see anyone at street-level. We then went to the basement level and again did not see anyone we recognize. The candle lights in basement created an atmosphere that did not seem suitable for a bunch of guys sitting together. So we headed back upstairs to wait...

I called MoodyT to confirm he was still coming and he said he just parked on the perfect parking spot. I hung up when I noticed him and Rico walking towards the bar. The next call was for CherkyB since I was not sure if he would be grounded or not. Having kids does not always provide the most flexibility when it comes to gatherings...

CherkyB said he was close by and I gave him direction to parking garage in case he had problem finding a spot. I neglected to mention that they charge $0.50/hour and later he was not too thrilled about that -- so I gave him $1 to pay for the parking. Though he probably ended up paying $1.50 since he stayed longer... but I digress...

So we were just chatting and at last CherkB happily walked into the pub finding us with drinks in hand. Waitress appeared quickly and then SmurkyB ordered Jack & Coke. What happened next surprised the rest of us.

The waitress asked to see SmurkyB's ID!

We were not carded when we ordered our drinks so obviously either SmurkyB looked younger than us or his smurk just makes the waitress want to get to know him better.. or both. She stared at his ID for a long time and then declared him to be 23... Hmm...

Later in the night we went to this small and cozy bar , yet another place I had never been to, to have shots. I had this thing called kamikaze and it tasted like lemonade. Supposedly it was lime and voda according to the experts. Later we headed to the roof-top party place, which was called Tailgate Tommy's or so I remembered... Interestingly only card lady was hanging out downstairs in this two-story place and all the noises came from roof-top. I had to go to the restroom so I got lost while the rest of the gang headed upstairs towards the music and happy voices.

Their bathroom was stinkier than the small cozy bar's tiny bathroom!

It was a sea of yellow... t-shirts upstairs. A lot of young people were celebrating and having fun. Their t-shirts said "CSU Vet Med" and "pub crawl party" or something like that. I found MoodyT first and then we waded through the crowds to get to the bar area. FriendlyT then chatted with a girl (wearing yellow t-shirt) from Pennsylvania while waiting at the bar and then we found out out they just got done with their first anatomy exam. I couldn't hear her answer when he asked what kind of anatomy exam it was... I looked at the happy yellow t-shirts surrounding us, reflected back on my first geeky exam and became depressed...

CherkyB and Rico already got drinks at that time and chatted near the bar area. El Torito ordered light beer while us designated drivers got Coke. I told CherkyB I got triple-shots when he bragged about his double-shot drink... Apparently he wasn't drunk enough so he didn't believe me.

As we were standing around taking up space in the crowded roof-top, this animal lover, who also wore the same yellow t-shirt as everyone but us, asked if she could cut through us to get to her friends. I stood aside to let her through and then the guys chatted with her a little bit before she walked/rushed off. I stood furthest away so I didn't hear what it was about. I confirmed that I don't hear very well -- though my wife already knows about my hearing problem.

So as the night went on, both El Torito and I were looking at our cell phones to check for time and possible messages. We decided that we should get back before midnight. Ten minutes later we said goodbye to the three Amigos and left the Tailgate party.

I dropped El Torito senior off and got home by midnight... only to find out that everyone was sleeping already! I looked at baby AidanC's sleeping pose and wondered when he'd wake us up. I never got to found out as I slept until wife brought RyanC to wake me up a little after 7am.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fat Camp Site #2

Tonight is the official beginning of the Mile High Fat Camp -- mind you, this is not associated with the little fat camp in SC except we have have their ex-member that occasionally wears a "i make stuff up" t-shirt.

I am officially the puppet head that is organizing the event but I don't have any real power. I get the invite list from the selective voting powers since my judgement is impaired by my lack of understanding about "fat camp". I always misunderstood it to be similar to "happy hour" here but after the IM lecture from Dr. CherkyB, I won't be making that mistake anytime soon.

CherkyB is really directing the action behind the scenes and exists to undermine my authority -- or so he said... though he will probably correct me on the details soon since I always seem to miss the details.

El Torito is the oldest among The Depressives. He will be the default elderly in the tribe so we can make fun of the old folks. Then again, I am the one that parks in the same spot so I wouldn't forget where I parked.

Unfortunately MoustachioP prefer spending time with the in-laws this week and declined the invitation to be part of history.

MoodyT is join us tonight too. He ditched us for poker night when CherkyB was in town with short notice before his final move. When I called to invite him, he asked "why is this at 9pm?" I answered "because of CherkyB" and then he understood without further questions.

I better go get ready and put RyanC to bed. He has been sitting next to me watching MTVs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Violent kid?

RyanC was hugging and kissing baby AidanC while I held AidanC and sat on the sofa. All of the sudden RyanC stopped, looked me, and he started hitting my arm a few times! He then attempted to hit baby -- but missed. WHOA!

He has been doing this in the past 2 days but not often. We have no idea how he learned to hit people. We speculate he might be getting jealous of us holding AidanC all the time. I am not sure how to get him to stop though...

Tonight I handed baby to wife and then gave RyanC big hugs. He didn't try to hit us after that but he twisted to get away from me hugging him. We then spent the next 10-15 minutes chasing each other around the house. Maybe I need to play with RyanC more often....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

All quiet again?

Last night after dinner RyanC hugged uncle for more than 2 minutes all of the sudden. It's unusual to see him holding onto uncle (or anyone) and keeping still -- he was definitely not tired at that time. Usually the little guy would give us a hug and then move on. He must have sensed that uncle was leaving soon...

My father in-law and brother in-law left for Taiwan today. This means RyanC lost two playmates so he was pretty happy to see my when I came home.

With the sudden realization that I may soon needing to mow my lawn, I am starting to wish I had a bigger yard where I can get a riding lawn mower to achieve marital bliss like CherkB. Except in my situation my wife will probably get to ride the lawn mower with RyanC and I get to watch the baby.

Baby AidanC has been cooing more and more. Everyone says he looks more like mommy. It was fun when everyone says RyanC looks more like me -- but it's a bit weird when hearing that AidanC looks more like mommy.

Hmm.. I have been getting hungry more easily lately... I wonder why...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ryan's New Playground

In the past 2 days, RyanC has been pulling us to go with him to play in his new playground. He does this ~3 times a day. He would start fussing if we refuse to take him. Once there, he does not want to leave!

Well, the playground was supposed to be a new mini-van (Toyota Sienna LE) to replace wife's older sedan but our little boy found it more suitable for his enjoyment -- even though this minivan does not have any bell and whistles like DVD player or navigation system. Wife decided on the basic model with power-sliding doors.

We inspected the playground in garage -- I was really looking for spots to drill if I ever get around to purchasing/installing backup sensors. RyanC was looking for buttons to push and he has also been imitating everything we do lately.

RyanC enjoys climbing all over the car to sit in all the seats. He would push all the buttons and then opens/closes all the compartments he can find. I think he is having more fun in this minivan than in a bathtub. Here he is pretending to be driving.

When we turn on the music, RyanC would start dancing no matter which row he is checking out at that time. He walks and climbs through the three rows of seats happily -- always on the lookout for more buttons and compartments.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The little tank that leaked

We were having leakage problem with our potable water expansion tank in the past few weeks. We noticed it when the basement was cleaned up and then there was this wet spot on the floor. It turned out that rust-colored water was dripping from the ridge in the middle of the tank. It was a slow leak so I was never in a hurry to deal with it -- especially when I am not as handy as CherkyB.

So... the other day (last Thursday) I asked wife to call plumbers to find out how much it would cost to get a new tank installed. The next thing I know, I got a phone call from her in the middle of the day asking me what pressure range to buy for the tank. The conservation went something like this:

Wife: "What is the size of the tank we have?"
Me: "Huh? What tank?"
Wife: "Water expansion tank. The one that is leaking."
Me: "Oh. I don't remember. Can I get back to you later in the day?"
Wife: "I am at Home Depot already."
Me: "I thought you were supposed to call plumbers for installation pricing?"
Wife: "Yeah, but I am at Home Depot already so I will just buy one and we can return it if it doesn't work"
Me: "Okay... you need to make sure you get a tank with max pressure of 150"
Wife: "I see two tanks here and they are blah blah blah mdoel #s.... not sure about pressure"
Me: "Maybe I can go buy it later after work?"
Wife: "Nah, it's okay. I will just get one that looks like the size of ours."
Me: "I don't know. We are supposed to match the pressure."
Wife: "You can always return it. I will just get it."
Me: "ok..."

Half an hour later I got another phone call:
Wife: "I just opened the box. The pressure is between 40-150"
Me: "Okay. I don't know how to install it though."
Wife: "Why don't you ask your co-workers?"
Me: "I will double check. EDF said to drain the pipe, unscrew the old one and screw in the new one"
Wife: "Ok"

Later I got home to find a new water expansion tank with 2x the capacity of the old one. Hmm... this does not look like the same size as the old one...

I then read the installation warnings and how we are supposed to match the pressure of the tank to the pressure of the pipe... along with several warnings about how it should really be installed by professionals who know what they are doing to follow local code. That is when I went back upstairs to tell wife that we may still need to call plumbers to install the tank.

This morning wife asked whether she should call plumbers and I said to give me a day to find out whether someone had installed this at work. Well, I did not find anyone who had actually installed one. Some asked why I have a potable water expansion tank and all I could say was that it was for the water heater and it was there when we bought the house.

I went by EDF's cube for further consulation. He was sitting in his cube but he had a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign posted with notes saying "you are NOT an exception. Come back at the following times..." Figuring that note was not for me, I popped my head over the wall and asked whether I really need to pressurize the new tank or whether I should come back in half an hour. He created an exception and answered my questions... At the end of the day I ran into him in the parking lot and found out that everyone figured they were exceptions. Hmm... I guess that was not too surprising.

After dinner tonight, I went downstairs to look at the leaky tank some more. It had two drips of water on it. I asked my brother-in-law what he thought and he said the installation seems to indicate the need to match pressure but he also could not find the pressure meter. Since no one has yet to say "Don't do this! It is highly dangerous", I figured I'll give it a shot after everyone has used the water and was made aware that we might be out of water for a while.

The first step was to turn off the water heater since installation guide said to turn everything off. We then turned off the main pipe and then drained the pipe using the tube and drain mechanism in my first DIY project. It took about 5-10 minutes to drain the water and during that time we realized that we probably did not need to turn off the water heater since we had turned off this valve to prevent water from going in/out of the water heater.

The next step was to unscrew the old tank. When I climbed on the ladder, I noticed that the old tank had no supporting mechanism to allow one to apply a wrench to screw it on/off. Wife said "Just use your hands and twist the tank". I twisted the tank and it came off easily.

Then came the easiest part - screwing the new tank. This new tank had a supporting mechanism to allow a wrench to be applied so it was relatively trivial to screw it on tightly.

We turned the water back on and nothing exploded... so that was a good sign.

Then we read the instructions on how to turn on the water heater and found out that we needed to light it manually. It took some time but we eventually got it to work. It reminded me of the early days in my childhood when I used to be so scared of lighting the gas-powered water heater. The fire went out often in those days and I always thought it was going to explode when I lit the matches -- not to mention the tank was out in the dark backyard. I will probably check the water heater tank often in the next few days out of paranoia.

We do have a CO detector in the house so hopefully it will detect gas. Though I have never seen it register an alarm after installing it -- it is either working really well or it is not working at all.

The important lessons learned are:
1) wife is always right. she bought the right tank (it fits).
2) wife is always right. she told me to unscrew the old tank by hand and she was right.

I am such a lucky man... hopefully the new tank will hold when the sprinkler turns on...

Sunday, September 03, 2006


RyanC was invited to a co-worker's daughter's two-year birthday party at Bounce , which is a place with giant inflatable playgrounds for kids. This is RyanC's first birthday party invitation so I took the Rebel XT dSLR along.

Here is the birthday cake with a little pony on it:

Ryan stuffed himself full with pepproni pizza before enjoying the wonderful cake:

Initially RyanC hesitated with these giant inflatable playgrounds. It took him some time before making a step after I plopped him into the toddler one. He stood still, afraid to move, for a few minutes while observing all these other big kids crash around. Suddenly an employee showed up and told those big kids to go to other playgrounds instead. It became less intimadating when only the toddlers are left. RyanC eventually became comfortable enough to enter the castle in this mario-like land with mushrooms & castle.

RyanC even warmed up to this little toddler girl who was there for the same party. He followed her around for a little bit and imitated her as she hopped and fell onto the floor intentionally. Later he saw her around an obstacle so he pointed at her and screeched, which is his way of saying "I see you!" but he scared the little girl instead.

RyanC also hugged this dwarf when I told him to go push the little blue guy. He also pushed the mushroom shown in the background but that one bounced back and smacked his face. The brave little guy didn't cry though. He hopped on the mushroom and pushed it onto the floor later.

After a while in the toddler playground, RyanC didn't want to play there anymore so I took him to this other obstacle course that was once filled with bigger kids earlier. They had just left for the giant slide. I took the opportunity to encourage RyanC to go inside by himself. Here is RyanC looking back at me after crawling through the tunnel to get inside this obstacle course with medium slides:

Once inside, RyanC was attempting to jump but can't really balance himself so he fell down and then got stuck in between the obstacles. I had to pull him up from the edge since he wedged himself pretty good in there. RyanC had a lot of fun bouncing himself against the obstacles and climbing over the stair-like 3 ft tubes. It took ~10 minutes before he reached the climbing wall area. After watching him bounce around having a blast, I jokingly told him to try go up since he seemed to enjoy falling more so than bouncing. The little monkey headed to the 4-5 ft climbing wall and climbed and climbed... When he got near the top without falling, that's when I belatedly realized he could still get hurt if he fell from the top. I held my breath as he climbed up and eventually disappeared from my view.

I had to run around to the other side of the playground to see where he went. It turns out that he was sitting on the other side looking down at the slide. I tried to get him to slide down but he was really hesitant. He attempted to get down with his back turned and then changed his mind after realizing his feet was not touching the ground. He disappeared from view again after crawling to the other side, which has another slide waiting for him. I rushed over to find him sitting at the top smiling at me. I got closer to the slide and told him I'd catch him. That's when he slid down and laughed the whole way. RyanC repeated this obstacle/slide 2-3 times and then didn't want to play anymore.

It was around closing time so I asked RyanC if he wanted to go home and got the surprising nod from him. However, I wasn't too tired so I took him to BestBuy next door for additional father-and-son bonding. RyanC was definitely attracted to the plasma HDTVs since he'd stand in front of them and stare. He also danced whenever music played so that was pretty funny. We goofed around a little bit before heading home...