Friday, July 29, 2011

Street Photography #10

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Have nothing to say really, except that July is ending and with that I feel like Christmas would be here sooner than any of us expected or wanted.

And with that sobering thought in mind, I come to reflect on how the summer has gone for me so far. It hasn't really made an impact to me yet. I don't expect it to. Every year I ride the summer months hoping I'd get over it without being too hot and uncomfortable. I know not a good way to see summer.

But summer hasn't really been my favorite season. It's the time when I'd rather be cooped up in the office working those long daylight hours and come home with some light still to do some gardening or just swing the remaining daylight away in my backyard swing.

I have no travel plans this summer. The local beaches would still be cold in the summer time - they are cold all year long. This is California, but not Southern California where the people are on the beach year round.

I've been watching a lot of Netflix lately. However, I am outraged that Netflix decided to raise the price. Currently I have a combo of streaming and one dvd. Last night I changed my setting and I opted to forego the streaming option, since we hardly use that anyway.

I have 6 movies on my queue that I must see before I finally decide whether I'd keep the subscription or simply put it on hold. In the past we always keep it on hold when we go away for vacation or when we get too busy to watch dvds at night.

Well, it's another Friday and I have no plans for the weekend. Wait, I have one. It's not a happy plan, but I am set to go to Alemany Farmers Market in Daly City, which I believe is the oldest and largest in the bay area. I am craving for some Filipino dish. We haven't had any Pinoy food on the table for over a month. It's time I have some munggo and bittermelon.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Defeating The Dark Lord and Conquering the Rapids

I went and saw.  I cried and cried. Inside the cinema.  Mostly because the story had concluded or at the time I was shedding tears, the story was reaching its climax.  It's sad when one thing comes to an end - even a joyful conclusion couldn't take the bitterness out of the fact that well there is no more.

However, the movie was indeed quite something.  How long was it?  I heard 3 hours.  It felt like 30 minutes to me.  The minutes flew by and when the credits were rolling I was like, that was it? 

I could have gone for more.  Still, the producers made one of the best Potter films here.  I wonder though if like LOTR this film would take in incredible amount of trophy at the Oscars.  What do you think?  Will the powers that be in the industry look kindly to the Potter series and see what well made films they were?  Or how successful they were and how incredible the story telling was? Or will they dismiss them as simply blockbuster movies aimed at kids? 

Needless to say I loved the movie.  There were minor things in the film that I would have loved to see expounded or further explored, but not having read any books I don't know if they were further explored in the book and shortened on the movie.  Those were minor. 

That was my Saturday. 

And here's how my Sunday went.  I mentioned in the previous post, which is a week ago that we were going to do some white water rafting.  We did.

We met at 7 am at my hubby's worksite, which is 2 minutes drive from home.  We swung by Starbucks first and bumped into one of the guys there also picking up some caffeine treat.

The decision was made to carpool.  Five people in our car and 7 on the SUV.  Twelve people in all.  When my husband was making reservations for this trip they were told that they have to have groups of 6 as 6 per raft is required.  More people wanted to go but not enough to complete 18.

The drive to Gold Country - the place were gold was found and mined in the 1800s here in California - took about 2 hours of scenic pastoral countryside.  We brought sandwiches, but apparently the people in the backseat all had breakfast.  It was a quick drive it seemed.

We arrived at the camp and was surprised to find that camping is allowed here.  The place was teeming with people. It seemed like a crowded Sunday on the river, but the air was festive, all buzzing with excitement.

Chunk - that's his name - approached us and told us to chill for a bit since the trip would commence at 10 am.  He pointed towards the direction of the river and said we could check it out while we wait instead of milling about our cars.

And so we did and found that there were tents up along the banks.  The water however was pretty chilly.  We were all looking at each other fearing it might be too cold if we found ourselves on the water instead of on the raft later.

The guys opened up some cold ones and decided to enjoy a can of brew before starting with the trip.  Then Chunk came around and told us to go to a spot where the life vests and helmets are located and that we should go and get ready for the trip.

There was mandatory talk and instructions given by Chunk.  He is the leader of this group.  It is a huge trip.  A lot of rafts went out that day. 

Anyway, we were shuttled to upriver by what look like prison bus. I was the first to notice it and then someone from our group said the same thing. 

About 15 minutes later, we were pulling up inside a park, like a regional park.  This was our launching station.  Chunk got in the bus and told us to use the facilities since there would be none along the river route. 

Back in the camp we were grouped into 7 and not 6 as we were previously told via phone.  Since the SUV contained 7 people they were boat 1.  There were 5 of us and we needed 2 more.  Luckily there was a couple that signed up for the trip without a group so we absorbed them.  Here lies some misunderstanding via phone registration.  Anyway, the couple, Jennifer and Neal were cool and easily blended with the group.

We were assigned to Derrick, blond, cute, hunky and dreadlocks.  He was also the funnest guide EVER!

The first two hours of rafting was like testing the waters.  There weren't any rapids in this part of the river.  We were simply rolling on the river on a lazy Sunday with temps in the 90s and the water below us was at most I'd say 60 F.  We played games while we were floating.  He would ask one to stand up and balance himself on the side of the raft ala Karate Kid.  We played more games.  He would push people randomly into the water to "cool off" he says.  All in good fun.  Our raft was always noisy full of laughter.

Then we stop for lunch.  Lunch consisted of burgers, chips, and fruits.  The guides prepared them.  There was a camp kitchen and all the guides manned different posts and started grilling and fixing lunch.  The burgers tasted really good in this environment.

Away from the water, we could feel the temperature had really risen.  Our skin burned where the sun kissed it.  It was up in the 90s for sure.  Luckily for me, it was dry heat.   The way I like my hot weather.

Our afternoon ride commenced soon after lunch was served.  This is the part of the trip where we would be conquering some rapids, the Satan Cesspool, the Hospital Bar, and one more that I can't remember now.

While we were rolling onto some smooth river water, our guide continued to give us some tips on what to do.  We would practice them on his cue so the next time it would come up we would know.

Just like this morning's ride, there was lots of water fights between boats.  In the morning run we were catching up with boat 1 where our friends are and would splash water onto them.  I drank lots of river water because I was in the line of fire whenever another boat would splash us with water.  There were lots of rafts on this day.  One contained many kids and they play splash with us.  The other guides would abduct people from one raft onto theirs.  It's called piracy, or pirating here.  What fun.  The kids on the other hand would yell at our raft and say, TAKE ME!.  We took 2 kids and kept them for a while.

Now to the rapids.  Well, they were more manageable than I ever imagined.  They were big, but not big as I've feared.  Probably because this was a run for beginners as well as experienced rafters.  With all the kids in this trip, I'm sure they wouldn't allow them if this run was dangerous, right?

Anyway, 2 of our friends were thrown out of their boat when they shot the rapids.  We all laughed at how they could have done that.  Anyway that is a possiblity.

All in all the day of rafting was fun.  Three rapids and all successfully conquered by us.  We have pictures to support this claim. 

However, I had the fright of my life when Derrick suggested we play another game that afternoon.  All of us would rise up and stand around the boat and lean back as far as possible.  The object is to fall back into the river with the raft floating empty and we'll all go swim back to the raft.

There is one hitch. I don't swim.  My husband doesn't swim.  Sokny doesn't swim.  The minute I landed on the water I panicked.  Water was coming into my mouth but surprisingly I was floating, just like Derrick said.  The vests are designed to make you float.  And then my husband reached up and grabbed my hand and hand in hand we floated on the river on our backs and from that position I could see our group starting to go into the raft.  We floated quite a bit and then when the raft came close to us we got pulled up into the raft.  That was scary but fun as well.  The cold water took away the 90-degree heat.

That was one heck of a trip. 

Later back in the camp with our dry clothes on, the people on the other boat told us that we were the party boat.  We were continously laughing and having fun and our guide was very cool and super fun, unlike theirs who only lecture about the river :)

Before heading back to the Bay Area, we stopped to get some brew and chow at a local dive next to the photo place where we could order our shots.  I'll show this adventure on my photo blog one of these days.

All in all it was one heck of a weekend. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Work Day Is About To End

I don't have anything in particular that I wanted to share today, hence the title of this post.

I have been getting lazy with blogging lately - err only this blog. The other blogs where I post mostly photos are all up to date.

I guess I'm trying not to whine too much online that's why I'm shying away from this blog.

Let's see what has been happening lately.

Well, my niece came over last Sunday with her brood - 3 boys - and the youngest Alex - almost 2 - used to be afraid of my little Buster. Alex I was told could get along with dogs, but with cats he had a problem with Buster. Until last Sunday. They played together and apparently the boy learned that he is the superior specie and exerted his powers over the poor cat. But Buster was all sport about the whole thing and played with the boy and did not bite him at all. Buster likes to bite me and my husband playfully.

Speaking of weekend, it was a lazy one. I had my monthly visitor at that time so I was lazy and crampy as hell. On Saturday though, I had to go out and take my usual Saturday date with my mom. She loves to eat at Chow King - their palabok is her favorite.

My brother takes her out on Fridays, but he doesn't like Chow King and so he takes her to Jollibee. Mom doesn't like Jollibee :)

I like Jollibee especially when I'm craving for the super sweet Pinoy spaghetti. But Chow King's chicken meal is also as good - in my opinion - as the ones in Jollibee. Just my opinion.

Also this weekend was my brother's (#4) birthday. He with his wife went with brother #2 and his wife to Vegas. Brother #2 issued me an invite but I was not ready to go to Vegas, financially and emotionally. However, we are planning a Vegas trip sometime in the near future. I haven't gone away (pasyal-pasyal) with brother #2 for a long time - since I got married I think.

Anyway, this Sunday we're having a little adventure, sort of. WE signed up for a trip to shoot the rapids. I am a little nervous because I don't know how to swim. Let's see what happens. Do it once, check it off your list and move on to another. It's not on my list, but my hubs said it looks like a fun thing to do with friends. So we're doing it with about 10 friends of ours.

And while I am really excited to see the Harry Potter movie, I am also not racing to the theatre to see it. I'm afraid that once I've seen the movie, then it is final. The series had ended. Until then, I can still say there is Harry Potter left in the future.

Now that the final movie has been released, I can probably go and read the books. I have told myself that once all the movies had been made, I would read the books. I didn't want to read the books while the movies were being filmed because I want to get one side first, the movie side and then hear what the book side has to say. I don't want conflict, in short :)

How was the HP movie?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cheering Myself

Our weather had gone bonkers around here. It's sweater weather again this week. A thick fog bank parked itself in our coast and has no inclination of going anywhere until this weekend some say, and so we have a cool stretch of a few days. Nope I am not complaining. After all, it was only a week or so ago when we had that mini heatwave so even though we had to bring out the sweaters again from the drawers, I care not if that meant no heatwave.

However, the gloomy and yes drizzly summer days so far have given rise to some gloomy disposition on my part. Add the fact that I have been feeling run down, mentally and emotionally (post-surgical)and in dire need of a little get-away - one that isn't coming for another month or so. I just cannot go on without a little break.

So while I contemplate on where I could take a day trip somewhere, let me post some flower images that I know would pick up my mood.

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Flowers of Singapore 2

Now I feel so much better.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things To Do

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I was cleaning out my desk today and found this piece of paper with the heading THINGS TO DO. Here are what's under the heading:

~ Refill kitty litter

~ Put the kitty food inside the house

~ Refill the bird seed food for outside birds

~ DVR all my shows

~ Make/post reminders for Ernie

~ Ask brother to pick up mail

~ Post our phone numbers and other information on the refrigerator

~ Pack

~ Buy food for house sitters

~ Leave laptop

~ Fix guest room

My regular housesitter and nephew Ernie requests that I leave the laptop. I have PC but he doesn't want to use that. Good thing, my hubs has one too and that's what we bring on trips to upload our photos, just in case something happens I have a back-up copy of the images already taken :)

However, I cannot remember when the note was written or for what trip it was for. Yet, the note me me smile. Ah the joys and excitement of planning for a trip :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A First For Me

Tuesday last week after work a group of us - 10 in total - armed with Travel Zoo dining vouchers carpooled in 2 cars and faced the maddening commute to the city to dine at E&O Trading Co. Along the way one of us called the restaurant to tell them that we were running late, but we were already on the bridge and if they could hold the reservations for us.  I thought that was too much, it was a Tuesday night after all and the whole region is wet.  Who would go out to dine under such circumstances?

Apparently a lot of people go out on rainy Tuesdays to eat out in the city as the restaurant was full!

The dinner was full of laughter and good food and fun company.  Good food did I say?  It was great eating was had by all.  Our voucher (thanks to TravelZoo) allowed us to have one pomegranite margarita, 2 appetizers and one entree.  And since there were 10 of us, we shared in all the food.  We were full.  Without Travel Zoo vouchers, our grand total for dinner was $1001.32.  With Travel Zoo we paid $48 per person including the voucher and the tax and the 18% gratuity.  Not bad.  Will go back there someday.  Menu is here in case you wanted to see.

Anyway after we got seated, handed the menu and got our drinks ordered, here came the waitress.  And guess what?  She spilled the pomegranite margarita all over my right side of the body.  I was wearing a thin cotton light mint green shirt that was part of my NYC trip souvenir (shh, I got it for $4.99)  and the shirt became green and red spotted shirt :(. 

I was too stunned to do anything.  The waitress was sorry.  I on the other hand was quite nonchalant about the whole thing.  After all, shit happens right?  Unfortunately that night, it happened to me.  The shirt dried before the appetizers came in, it was a thin cotton material after all.  I was only worried that the shirt was ruined, it is after all my fave one  - I wore it in Europe. 

But the minute we got home, I sprayed some stain remover and soaked it in color free bleach detergent.  The stain just disappeared so I'm happy  now.

Have you had any similar experiences while dining out?