Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Special Christmas Edition of Random Thoughts on the English Language (#22): Scrooge!

So I was thinking during the recent holiday season that when people use the word "Scrooge" to describe a person, they mean someone who is cold and heartless and money-obsessed and mean and hates Christmas, right?  But wasn't the whole point of the story that he changed his ways. I mean the end of the story says that "It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

But apparently because the changed Scrooge is only in the story for a little bit and the vast majority of the story describes him being a miser and a jerk, that's what we've come to associated with the name Scrooge.

Bonus Random Thought: I don't know if Ebenezer was a more popular name in the 1840s when this story was published, but it definitely hasn't increased the number of Ebenezers in modern society.  A quick check of the Baby NameVoyager shows that as far back as they have data Ebenezer's never been in the top 1000 names.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My 2010 Christmas Card

Gateway Christmas Photos 014

Each year as I look back on the year that has passed and try to put together some kind of coherent summary of what all went on in my last 12 months, I'm always amazed at how much really does happen in a year's time. The older I get, the faster time seems to go, but taking a minute to stop and look back at everything that I've experienced helps me to take note of the many fun and eventful moments that occur in my life.

Just a warning up front: these Christmas card posts tend to run a bit long. I've tried to keep the text to a minimum and mostly take up space with photos and a few videos, so hopefully it's not too much for the few of you who really want to read through the whole thing. If you just want to scroll down and look at the pictures I will in no way be offended. Not that I would know anyway. :)

First things first. As those of you who know me fairly well are aware, and are perhaps amazed at, a big part of this past year was the fact that, for a while I did, in fact, have a girlfriend. Granted, that relationship has since ended, but I definitely am grateful for the opportunity that I had to get to know Meili as well as I did and for her being willing to take a chance on me. In the end, things didn't work out, but we definitely had some great times together. Our first date was in January, and we dated until October, so my relationship with her probably was the biggest thing that stands out to me from this past year. And she took several of the pictures that appear below, and deserves recognition for that as well.

June 2010 - Snowbird 011

Traditionally these Christmas cards have focused a lot on the vacations that I've taken and this year is no exception, though this year was probably a step back from last year when I went to Seattle, Yellowstone, the Bahamas, and San Francisco, among other places. I finished last year with about 8 hours of time off to my name. Given that at my place of employment, our personal time and sick time all go into the same general pool of time off, I made a goal this year to save up some time off in case of an emergency, medical or otherwise, so I pretty much stuck around town until Memorial Day. I even worked on Martin Luther King, Jr. day so that I could save up an extra 8 hours of time off toward my goal.

One non-vacationy thing that also happened this year was funerals. Last year my mom's mother passed away, and this year we lost both my mom's dad, and my dad's mom, leaving me without any living grandparents. Somewhat miraculously, both of them passed away at times when George was able to be in town with his family, so despite the bittersweetness of their passing, we were able to enjoy the company of family, especially the little ones.

Kimi March 2010 pics 131

At my house, we had our 2nd annual St. Patrick's Day party (last year's was scheduled to be at our new place, but ended up moving due to some last minute delays on closing).


A year ago March (March 2009), a friend from high school suggested that we all put in for a lottery to purchase March Madness tickets for this year's games that would be held at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake, and one of us was lucky enough to win, so we all bought tickets together, and got to watch some fun games, especially a double overtime thriller between Kansas State and Xavier that featured some amazing shots down the stretch. We also got to see eventual runner-up Butler in action.

Jordan Crawford (Xavier) hits a ridiculous 3 to force double OT.

As the weather warmed up, getting out of town became more and more appealing of an idea. For Memorial Day weekend, Meili and I drove down to St. George with my roommate Brandon and his girlfriend. We had originally planned on staying at Brandon's grandparents' place down there, but it ended up being double booked, so we ended up at a motel, which was fine. We had fun swimming, relaxing, eating, and playing. And on Memorial Day, we headed over to Zion National Park and hiked to the top of Angel's Landing, which is always a fun hike, made a little more exciting by the chain section at the top.

Mmm...dinner (Awkward Version)

Just killed Angel's Landing

This summer, George and his family moved to Hawaii where they'll be stationed for 3 years while he works at the on base clinic at Hickam Field (now officially combined with Pearl Harbor). In between their moving away from San Antonio and moving to Hawaii we got to have George in town for about a week, and then Kimi and the kids in town for nearly a month. So that made for some fun times, including a party for my dad's birthday/Father's Day, a trip to Lagoon, a 4th of July celebration, a birthday party for Lucy, and other various get-togethers.

Family - June 2010 007

June 2010 - Lagoon 002

June 2010 - Lagoon 021


Lucy's B-Day Party 2010 015

In addition to all the fun that having the kiddos around this summer was, I also managed to enjoy a variety of trips and activities with my friends.

In July, a group of us braved the heat and journeyed down to St. George to, among other things, do some cliff jumping at Sand Hollow, and see Tarzan at Tuacahn. After not jumping last year when we were there, I caved to peer pressure this year and went ahead and jumped. From everyone's feedback, apparently my form could use some work. :)

Sand Hollow - July 2010

Last year at Tuacahn, we saw Footloose, and while I didn't LOVE that show, I have to say I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Tarzan. The opening scene where the river behind the stage overflowed and covered the stage was really cool, and the monkeys hanging from ropes were impressive, but unfortunately, in my opinion, the effects were not sufficient to make up for forgettable songs and a ho-hum plot. And I wanted to see Tarzan actually SWING on a vine, not just hang on to one while it motored it's way across the stage.

The following week, I went on another road trip with friends up to Lava Hot Springs, in Idaho, where we camped for the night, and then spent a day braving the dangerous Portneuf River. After last year's experience, I avoided the waterfalls near the entry point, but somehow managed to get pretty scraped up taking a spill at a different spot on the river. I'd show you the scars but they aren't in the most modest of locations. :)


In August, I rounded up a sizable group of friends and headed back to my "roots", hitting up the Tooele County Fair's Demolition Derby. Fun fact: While living in Tooele County, I never once went to a demolition derby or a rodeo. Now that I live in the city, I must feel a need to get some small town culture in my life from time to time. I always enjoy demolition derbies, but this year's was certainly my favorite one yet. Among other great moments, like the new figure 8 racing, at one point a station wagon rammed into another car and proceeded to drive up on top of it. Hadn't seen that before. :)

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Demolition Derby 2010-08-07 063

For Labor Day weekend, Meili invited me to join her family at Bear Lake. We stayed at her brother-in-law's family's house there and despite it being pretty chilly and windy, managed to enjoy the better part of one good day there at the lake. I also managed to pull an amazing (unintentional) back flip off of a tube. :)

Bear Lake - Labor Day 2010

Bear Lake - Labor Day 2010

Another fun thing we did in September was to go to Sundance ski resort and ride the ski lift on a full moon weekend.  Meili had done it before and suggested that we go check it out.  We were surprised to find out that quite possibly the entire population of the greater Provo/Orem metro area also decided to go check it out.  Despite a long line, we stuck out the cold temperatures and eventually made it to the front of the line and enjoyed a pretty cool ride up over the ridge and back.

Sundance Moonlight Ride 023
Waiting in line wasn't ALL bad. :)

In October, I boarded a plane with my parents and took my first trip to the tropical paradise known as Hawaii. We spent a week with George's family, playing on the beach, snorkeling, and having fun being grandparents and uncle. I'm excited for our return trip in March, this time with Aunt Natalie and Uncle Ben.


Kailua Beach


Blog posts about our trip:
Days 1 & 2
Day 3
Day 4, Part I.
Day 4, Part II.
Day 5
Day 6
Days 7 & 8

More photos from the trip.

Another fun part of this fall was going to University of Utah football games. Last year I had 2 season tickets in the northeast corner of the stadium. Now that Ben is in college and no longer playing high school football on Fridays, my dad felt like maybe it was time to get season tickets at the U again, so this year, I put in a request for 4 seats. We also moved over to the west side and crossed the aisle from bleacher seats to chair seats, way up high, which has the added bonus of being sheltered from rain and snow by the luxury boxes right above our seats. While not quite on par with the two undefeated seasons we've had in recent history, the Utes finished with only 2 losses and a bunch of big wins at home. So definitely a lot of fun times, and fun to have mom and dad there to share the joy. It's been fun having Ben here in town as well, and we've managed to get together for dinner a couple times, and recently went to the Jazz-Heat game together.

Utah-BYU 2010 (5)
Aftermath of Brandon Burton's amazing block to preserve the win over BYU

Churchwise this year I started attending a new singles ward right around the start of the year, and managed to make it all the way to April before I was put in the Elders Quorum presidency (apparently it's kind of my thing) as 1st counselor. :) It's been fun to meet a lot of new people and to get to serve with some great guys.  We've also been privileged to have visits from President Monson, and Elders Perry and Hales of the 12 Apostles, so those have been some special treats as well.

Now, I know that these year end wrap ups have generally included a bit of statistical analysis on my dating life, but given that I spent the majority of the year dating Meili, I'm going to forgo a full blown report this year, except to say that January was probably a record-setting month where I went on seven dates in a single month, culminating in my beginning to go out with Meili consistently. Since we stopped dating in October the dating part of my life has been on a bit of a hiatus. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things with the new year.

Things at my work are also going well, though the death certificate project I've mentioned before continues to resist my best efforts to get it into production. It's been through our formal testing process, but has managed to find new and innovative ways to be delayed every time I think we're ready to pilot it.  Hopefully by end of January we've got it up and running with real doctors using it for real death certificates. Thankfully that hasn't been my only project this year. I've worked on a variety of other things, including making updates to software that's been running in our hospitals since the 80s.  I was a co-author on a paper that was published in a top cardiovascular journal (Chest) and on a presentation my boss gave at the AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) Fall Symposium.  Hopefully I can get some first author stuff submitted and accepted this year.  Speaking of AMIA, I did manage at the last minute to get to attend and it was fun to catch up with some old friends and get some ideas of what I'd like to work on next.  And also to fly first class for a few minutes. :)

A quick update on my health for those who are interested:While I continue to check my blood sugars daily, things have been pretty good for a while now. My latest HbA1c was 5.7, and I've been under 6 every time it's been checked in the last year and a half.

Lots more photos from this year can be found here.

Finally, there's only so much that I'm willing to subject you to reading about every year, but what I've covered here is only a portion of the good times and memories that I made this past year. Thanks for being part of my life. I'm truly blessed to have so many great people in my life. I'll leave you with a few more photos of good times in the last 12 months.
Friends Collage 2010


Monday, December 13, 2010

Old Book, New Book #29: Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer -> Consider the Lobster

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer

Despite the combined length of Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer being a mere 165 pages, it definitely took me a considerable amount of time to finish this one off. In part because the reading was pretty dense, and in part because neither of the stories kept me coming back to read. I feel like I finished this one more out of a commitment to finishing than to anything else. I guess I might need to read the Introduction now that I'm done (I hate reading introductions to classics that give away too much of what the stories are about, so I usually skip them), to see if I can get some more insight into why they (Heart of Darkness especially) are noteworthy. I found The Secret Sharer to be rather odd and incomprehensible, and Heart of Darkness to be unnecessarily confusing. At times the plot jumped forward with no explanation of what had happened or how to move us on to the next point. Maybe the film version is less confusing and more interesting. Anyway, I don't claim to be a literature expert, so there are probably other people who will find my reviews uneducated or uncultured. Sometimes I just enjoy a good story, and these did not fit the bill for me.

Next up: A collection of essays titled "Consider the Lobster" by the recently deceased David Foster Wallace, who I'd never heard of until his death, which spawned a variety of comments in the web arenas I frequent (notably I've been wondering what all the fuss was about, but I figured rather than jump in with both feet and tackle "Infinite Jest", the 1000+ page novel that I see mentioned frequently, I'd start with some of his essays.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Big Digital becomes a Witness

Last week at my ward Christmas party, there was a charity auction and one of the items up for bids was two 11th row seats for the Jazz-Heat game this past Wednesday. I always think it's much more rewarding to go to a Jazz game with lower bowl tickets, where I don't just end up watching the Jumbotron to see what's going on. So I decided to bid on them. And I won. At less than face value. It would have been much less than face value if not for the wife of one of the bishopric members bidding me up about $80 more than what anyone else was willing to pay. :) Anyway, it's for a good cause, so I don't really regret it.

I ended up taking my brother Ben with me, and while the Jazz managed to fall apart in the 4th quarter, it was still a lot of fun, and cool to see the Jazz and LeBron and D-Wade all up close and in person. LeBron and Wade both had some amazing dunks. I took my camera with me, and while it's just a little point and shoot, I got some decent photos. Here are a few:

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Ben and I

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LeBron doing his trademark talcum powder toss

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LeBron going to the hole

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Jazzman Francisco Elson who lives on our street. We always enjoy cheering for our "Neighbor!" :)

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Gotta love Millsap!

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Jazz vs. Heat Dec 2010 161

More pictures here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Old Book, New Book #28: Maus I & II -> Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer


Maus II

Now, as I mentioned before, I generally don't take time to note the graphic novels that I read here on the blog, but in this case, I thought these books merited a note. Because these aren't just graphic novels, they are Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novels. Basically the author/artist shares his father's story as a Holocaust survivor, along the way also portraying his own experience of dealing with his father and the after effects of his father's experiences during the Holocaust. In high school, and some in junior high, I got a good helping of Holocaust literature ("The Hiding Place", "Number the Stars", "The Devil's Arithmetic") but it's been a while since I've revisited the topic. Definitely a dark time in the history of our world, and we're lucky to have the memories of its survivors preserved in a variety of forms. Anyway, I won't say too much about these, other than to say that it was definitely worth the read, and didn't take too much time to get through both volumes.

Lately, I feel like I've been reading whatever I happened to find at the small library near my work, and the next book on the list is one of those. "Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer" is a publication that contains both of those novellas (short stories?) by Joseph Conrad. I'd heard of Heart of Darkness, but never Secret Sharer. I knew that the former was a "classic" and provided the outline of the film "Apocalypse Now", but that was about it going in. Between the two, the book is only about 160 pages, so hopefully not too long of a read.

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer

Old Book, New Book #27: Mockingjay -> Maus I & II


I can't believe it's taken me so long to blog about the stuff I've been reading lately. Not sure what happened to me. Anyway, I did quickly finish off Mockingjay, and have to say that it was probably my least favorite of the 3 books, though still very readable. Since it's been a couple months now since I finished reading it, I don't really have much detail to add to that thought. I just didn't really find the outcome to be very satisfying. I guess if the message of the books was that war sucks and even when its over, things can be damaged pretty much irreparably then I got that message. :) I thought it was kind of a depressing book.

So, of course, what was my next choice of reading material? A pair of graphic novels about the holocaust. :) Maus, volumes I & II. Now, I do from time to time read graphic novels (I'd call them comic books, but they're usually a collection of comic books), and generally don't feel like they merit mention in this space, but given the subject matter of the Maus books, I felt like they deserved their own spot on the list.


Maus II

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Big Digital Flies 1st Class (if only for 45 minutes)

Last week, I traveled to our nation's capitol for 3 and a half days of Informatics presentations. Well, actually only 2 and a half days since I spent nearly all of Sunday in an airplane. The conference itself was pretty good. I got to catch up with some friends from school who are now scattered around the country, and had a chance to think about what kinds of things I'd like to work on in the upcoming months. Also notable was the redesign of the AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) logo. On the whole I think it was an upgrade, though my boss reportedly had some emotional attachment to the old logo. For your comparison:

Old AMIA Logo
Old (this was the biggest I could find at short notice)

New AMIA Logo

But enough about the actual conference, let's talk about the series of serendipitous events that transpired in my travel plans.

Because I only found out a couple weeks ago that I was going to this conference, I ended up not being able to take the direct flight from Salt Lake to DC and back, but was connecting through JFK both ways. I was a little nervous when I noticed that on the way there, I only had 40 minutes between flights, and also that I didn't have a seat assignment for the 2nd leg.

My nervousness was confirmed when we arrived 10 minutes late to JFK and then ended up parking out away from the airport while a magic hydraulic shuttle bus came and picked us up. Which meant that pretty much we couldn't get back to the terminal until everyone was off the plane. Anyway, I was just getting into the terminal when I heard the last call for my flight over the loudspeaker. I hustled to my gate, expecting that there'd be no way I'd make it, but I was happy to see the gate agent still dealing with some passengers when I arrived. I still was nervous about not having a seat assignment, but after about 5 minutes they gave me one and I was off down the jetway to the plane.

It was a little Canadair puddle jumper with just two seats on each side of the aisle. The stewardess informed me that the lady with the seat next to me was wondering if I'd be willing to switch with her daughter so they could sit together. I was just pleased to be on the plane and really either seat was window or aisle, so not too bad. I said sure, and moved up a couple rows to where the daughter had been sitting. A few moments later a couple showed up and the husband had the seat next to mine. I asked if his wife wanted my seat to sit next to him and she said yes, so she switched me. Only it turned out that her seat was a couple more rows up, in the first class section! Granted it was such a short flight (about 45 minutes of actual flight time) that it really was a limited experience that amounted to some extra legroom, drinking my water from an actual glass, and a free bag of Sun Chips and 1 Twix (Is 1 Twix the two sticks? If so, then half a Twix). But it was still a fun experience and it definitely struck me a little odd the way that just by moving up two rows, suddenly I was treated differently by the flight crew and was given special treatment. I mean, I know I'm sitting up there, but I paid for a economy class ticket. Weird.

On Wednesday when I was returning home, my connecting flight from DC to JFK was run by some airline I'd never heard of (Mesaba? Mesada? something like that) and the time to start boarding came and went without anyone appearing at the gate. Then a bit later, someone came out of the jetway and announced that there was some kind of paperwork-related delay. Another 30 minute passed. I had about an hour and half layover scheduled in New York, but now I was starting to get a little nervous. We were past our departure time and still hadn't starting boarding. I remembered that on my recent trip home from Hawaii, my dad had called some number and talked to someone at Delta who was able to assist us when we were delayed getting to LAX. So I called home and got that number and was able to talk to a Delta representative who got me switched from my 1 stop flight plan to one of the few remaining seats on the nonstop flight that the rest of my Utah/Intermountain colleagues were taking home. It left an hour later than my flight but arrived in Salt Lake 2 hours earlier than I would have been home had I stuck to my original itinerary. Oh, and I had a window seat with no one next to me in the middle seat. On a very full flight. Sometimes you just get lucky, I guess.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Digital Gets an Eye Exam

As part of the regimen of preventive care that I'm supposed to do for my diabetes, once a year I'm supposed to get an eye exam, where an eye doctor looks into my eye to make sure that the small blood vessels in my retina are doing okay. You know, because sometimes people with diabetes go blind. Which would be bad.

Anyway, even though I only really need that part of the eye exam done, I still get to go through the part where they see which small letters you can read, and which is better? #1? or #2? and some stuff for colorblindness and a part where there's a picture of a red balloon, where all I have to do is look straight ahead. Anyway, I always get a little tense during the whole testing process because, even though I don't feel like I need glasses, I'd hate to screw up on the test and somehow convince someone that I need some help. Anyway, another year, another 20/20. So no worries about that for now.

Once I get done with the testing part, they put some drops in my eyes to numb them. Which always feels weird. And then they check the pressure in my eyes with some kind of device that they touch to my eyes. But I don't feel it because they're numb. And then they give me the eye drops that dilate my pupils, so that the doctor can look around inside my eye. It takes a few minutes for them to really open up, and in the meantime they drop you off in a dimly lit waiting area that for some reason has a variety of reading materials. I say that because after a few minutes of dilation, things start to get blurry up close and reading is no longer a possibility. Unless it's things that are in large print. Which they don't actually have in that waiting area. I know. I checked.

Eventually, I get taken back to the examination room, where I sit and wait for a while longer, and since I can't read, I try to think of things to think about. Eventually the eye doctor arrives and he get up close and shines a light into my eye and has me look in different directions. While he's doing this, there are moments when I see some weird images superimposed on what little I can see of the dark room. Things that look like blood vessels. I asked him and he said that yes, what I'm seeing is the light he's shining in there reflecting off the inside of my eyeball. So that's kinda cool. Anyway, everything was kosher, come back in a year.

Afterward, I get to experience what it must be like to be far-sighted for the next few hours. It's weird because everything looks normal until I try to look at something up close and it's blurry and I can't get it to come into focus. My vision feels just fine, so sometimes it catches me off guard when I look at something up close and it's illegible. So most reading is pretty much out. It's nice that I can actually check my email by using Ctrl+ to zoom everything up to gigantic font sizes, but even that tires my eyes out after a few minutes. Oh, and bright lights look extra special with lines shooting out of them and multicolored bands at the edges. Thankfully this year, it seemed like my eyes recovered a little quicker than last year.

Also I wondered what my eyes look like when they're fully dilated like that, so I took a picture to share.

Eye Exam 2010

I think if you look close you might be able to see my brain.

Monday, November 01, 2010


Ever have one of those days when your insides a feeling a little...funky...and you say to yourself, "Man, what did I eat yesterday? Chili?" and then you stop to think and...yep. Chili. No? Me neither.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Days 7 & 8

Given that there was a dusting of snow on the neighbor's lawn and my roommate's truck this morning, I feel kind of nostalgic for the time I spent in Hawaii. The funny thing is that the whole week before I left, highs were in the 80s here in Salt Lake, so the warmer climate in Hawaii didn't really feel like a reprieve from colder weather. While I was away, though, Utah definitely went from Indian summer to late autumn. Sometime I'm going to need to go for a visit when it's actually cold here.

In any case, what should have been the last day of our trip started bright and early with us loading up our luggage into George's car and heading over to Honolulu. Check-in and security went without a hitch, and we soon found ourselves grabbing some breakfast and waiting to board our flight to Los Angeles.

We boarded, settled in, and were a good hour into our flight when we heard the dreaded overhead announcement: "Anyone on board this flight with medical training, please press your stewardess call button." It quickly became apparently that someone on board was experiencing a medical emergency, and the decision was made to turn around and return to Honolulu so that the passenger could be taken care of. A decision that I wholeheartedly support. Sadly, it also meant that we'd get an extra 2 hours of flight time (1 hour back and then another hour to get back to where we'd been when we turned around). We also spent about an hour hanging out in the plane while the passenger was carried off the plane, our brakes and landing gear were checked out, and the plane was re-fueled. We also got a bonus viewing of the safety video (FAA regulations require that it be shown before each takeoff, regardless of whether or not you've been off the plane in the meantime.). "Oh, lift UP on the buckle. I was going to try to break the metal apart with my bare hands."

Anyway, a few hours later than originally planned we once again headed for the mainland. Despite the fact that we'd now ultimately be spending 8+ hours on board the plane, we still were only offered the usual peanuts, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies for nourishment. I was definitely glad I'd brought some of my own snacks along for the flight.

We landed at LAX about 3 hours later than planned and had definitely missed our connecting flight to Salt Lake. Delta was kind enough to put us up at the Holiday Inn for the night. And by "the night", I mean, I got up at 3:30 am to take a shower so we could get back to the airport in time to catch our 6:15 flight out. Thankfully that flight went without event and in short order we were arriving home and heading back to our daily lives.

Anyway, it wasn't horrible, but it was nice to finally make it back home. I DO love to travel, but I also love coming home again. Something about the comfort of the familiar, I guess.

Anyway, Hawaii trip #1 was definitely a success and I look forward to further adventures in the islands. Thanks to George and Kimi and the kids for being such great hosts. Aloha!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 6

Our 6th day in Oahu, George had to go back to work at the clinic, so we had to make do without him. I started out by taking a short morning walk over to Burger King so that I could try some local cuisine. :) Actually, I'm only kind of kidding. I got a spam, rice, and eggs platter that turned out to be pretty tasty.

Spam & Eggs
Flavor of the islands

BK Hawaiian Style
Don't know where you'd find a BK with a better backdrop.

Later that morning, we headed over to Honolulu to check out some of the more historic sites there, including the famous statue of King Kamehameha I.

King Kamehameha
Hail to the King

While we were there checking out the statue, a busload of Asian (probably Japanese) tourists showed up, and suddenly Austin and Elise became one of the highlights of downtown Honolulu, as person after person wanted to take pictures of them and/or have their picture taken with them. What can I say? I guess I'm not the only one who would fly across the ocean to see them.

Rock Star children
And so it begins...

It's tough being a celebrity

After escaping from the paparazzi, we made our way across the street to check out the Iolani palace, and then the state capitol building. In between the two buildings we saw some cool banyan trees.

Banyan Trees

After seeing pretty much everything we could find to see nearby, we headed back to the car, and drove back over to Kaneohe for lunch. After lunch, I went over to the local mall (Obama saw Avatar there!) to do a little shopping. Got a couple things. Hit up Longs Drugs for more souveniry knick-knacks (chocolate macadamia nuts, for example).

Then we headed home and had a fairly relaxed evening hanging out with the kids, packing up our stuff, transferring pictures from cameras to computers to memory cards, etc.

At one point, I went outside to hang out with Austin and watch the cars and trucks drive by on the highway. He was just kind of talking to himself and I thought I'd capture the moment on video:

More pictures from Day 6.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 5

For our 3rd day of playing in Oahu, I was kind of in the mood for something non-snorkeling to start the day, so someone suggested flying kites, which I thought sounded fun. Kites were acquired and we headed north a bit to Kualoa Beach park for kite flying and beach enjoying.

Kualoa Beach Park
Kualoa Beach park

We had 3 kites in all, and 2 of the 3 launched fairly easily, and after some reengineering by Grandpa Tom the lizard kite joined the others in the sky.

Kite Flying
Kite Flying

After a while playing with kites everyone was ready for more beach time and we all pretty much ended up over at the beach, just across the way from the famous Chinaman's Hat island.

Kualoa Beach Park
Lucy playing in the water

Kualoa Beach Park
All the kiddos at the beach

George decided to snorkel out to the island and after a while we couldn't see him anymore, which got Grandma Liz worrying. A sign indicating strong currents didn't do much to help settle her down. In the George returned safe and sound and reported that the water was shallow enough that he could have stood up all the way out to the island.

Mom worrying
Mom worrying

After a fun morning at the beach, we headed back to the house to clean up and get ready to head to Honolulu for a special, military-only tour of Pearl Harbor. We made a quick stop at the big swap meet that surrounds the University of Hawaii football stadium, where we picked up a variety of knick-knacks and souvenirs.

Then we headed over to Pearl Harbor to catch our tour boat. Only it turned out that we'd been given the wrong time. Luckily we were early instead of late. After a quick stroll over to McDonalds, eventually our tour boat arrived. An admiral (retired?) described what we were seeing as the boat took around most of Pearl Harbor, ultimately arriving at the USS Arizona Memorial. Among the interesting sites we saw along the way was the wreckage of the USS Utah, which is very much destroyed and rusted. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to take photos, so I didn't take any until we arrived at the Arizona.

One of the most interesting things (to me, at least) was how shallow the harbor is (around 50 feet deep). Many of the ships that were sunk during the attack were ultimately rescued, repaired and put back into service. The Arizona Memorial sits over the wreckage of that ship and some bits of it even poke up above the water level. As you may have heard, there is still oil slowly leaking from the wreckage that you can watch.

USS Arizona
USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona
You can kind of see the oil sheen in this shot

USS Arizona
Part of the ship that is visible above the water

After our tour, we drove over to the Hickam portion of the base (Pearl and Hickam had just merged the week before we were there) to see the clinic where George works and just drive around the base a bit.

We then headed home, had dinner (I think that was the night we went to a burger joint), and got the kids packed off to bed before calling it a night ourselves.

Grandma Liz reading stories
Grandma Liz reading the kids a story. Austin was definitely more interested in smiling for his picture. :)

More pictures from Day 5.