Thursday, April 27, 2006

50 States

I'm sure a common question James & Tim Blog readers frequently ask themselves is, "how many of the 50 states have James and Tim been to?" Well, you now have your answer thanks to this cool design-your-own-map website we came across.

Tim's Map. Click the photo for a larger view. (As of 4/27/06)

Needless to say, Tim handily wins the contest between the two of us. I guess that's what happens when you have an RV in your family growing up. In fact, they drove from upstate New York (where Tim spent his first 15 years) to California three times, not to mention countless other regional trips.

James' Map. Click the photo for a larger view. (As of 4/27/06)

Incidentally, the lighter green states are the ones that we've only technically visited (i.e. a quick stopover while transferring flights, or a quick drive-through with minimal stops). For it to be colored dark green, it has to be an official visit, which involves at least three of the following four criteria:
  1. Spent the night
  2. Eaten a meal
  3. Visited a sightseeing attraction
  4. Spent at least $50
Thanks cousin Chrissie for helping me check Indiana off my list! :)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dissed by Liza

Today was supposed to be the day we got Liza Minnelli to autograph her new DVD release of the Liza With a Z concert. But not being the most reliable of people, Liza postponed until May 6. Unfortunately we had already made the 45-mile drive to L.A. by the time we found out.

James poses with his new friend Michelle ... the only other person in line to get Liza to sign our DVDs. (04/22/06)

At the very least we made a new friend. Her name was Michelle, and she was the first person in line when we got there. She was one of those crazy Liza fans who goes to everything Liza does. Not at all like anyone I know. :)

It was boys' morning out, since Christine was in Louisville. I don't know why Tim is making that face either. (04/22/06)

Tom and Justin were supposed to meet us there, but were running late. So we called them and told them not to bother. But we did meet them for breakfast at IHOP before we headed back home.

Master Bath Remodel Finally Underway

After nearly five years since we first bought our house, we're finally getting around to remodeling the master bathroom — the last room in our house that's hasn't been remodeled.

After planning it for months, we hired our plumber, electrician and now, tile installer. So for the month of May, we'll be using our guest bathroom for everything until the master bath is done. Wish us luck! :)

We'll post before and after pictures when the project is complete.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Happy Birthday #2 John Paul!

John Paul, my brother from another mother, turns two today! Although I couldn't be there to celebrate, I did call him to wish him a happy birthday. He didn't say anything back of course.

John Paul, shown here in January, has officially entered his terrible twos. (01/22/06)

It's actually funny. Whenever anyone else in the family is talking on the phone, all he wants to do is talk on the phone too. But then the moment you try to get him to talk, he clams up. Oh well. :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Earthquake Memories

Today marks the centennial anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. It was 100 years ago today that the 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the city. Dozens of buildings were immediately leveled, and most of those that remained were consumed by the fire that lasted for days afterward. When the smoke cleared, more than 3,000 people had died.

The original San Francisco City Hall as it appeared in the aftermath of the 1906 quake.

With all this talk of the Great Quake of 1906, it brought back memories of the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake, which struck on October 17, 1989, causing damage throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area. Though the damage caused by Loma Prieta wasn't anywhere close to the 1906 damage, it was nonetheless significant.

Scenes from the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 include the fallen section of the Bay Bridge (left) and the collapsed Cypress Viaduct (right). (10/89)

Perhaps the most vivid images from that quake were the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge and the Cypress Viaduct in Oakland. Yet what most people don't realize was that the earthquake was also responsible for the destruction of my college home: Verducci Hall ... albeit nine years later.

At the time of the '89 quake, I was a student at San Francisco State University. That afternoon I was walking from the main section of campus to Verducci Hall, the 15-story dorm building where I had been living for more than two years. As I was walking, I felt the sensation of something lifting the ground from underneath me and then dropping it again. I had to brace myself against the building next to me for support.

Verducci Hall is seen here in this undated photo.

I made it back to my dorm just as they were evacuating it. I, along with hundreds of other students, sat outside for hours, wondering when Verducci Hall would be cleared for re-entry. As it turned out, the building had suffered extensive damage, and we weren't allowed back into the building for more than two weeks!

Verducci Hall in its heyday. (1976 or 1977)
Verducci Hall in its heyday. (1976 or 1977)

The people who managed the dorms instated this crazy three-to-a-room policy until Verducci Hall could be made habitable again. It involved placing Verducci Hall residents in cots located in the other dorm buildings that weren't damaged ... cramming three people in rooms designed for two.

Fortunately I had relatives in nearby Daly City and Pacifica who for the next two weeks provided housing for me, and three of my friends to boot (thanks Padrinos and Tia Elvira!).

A picture from the 1999 implosion of Verducci Hall. (03/28/99)

As for Verducci Hall, the story wasn't so good. After the school year ended in the Spring of 1990, they shut down Verducci Hall for good. More than nine years later, San Francisco State University imploded the building. (Click here to see SFSU's page on the Verducci Hall implosion.) To this day, nothing stands in that spot other than tennis courts. But I do have many fond memories of that place.

This is what the former site of Verducci Hall looks like today.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

An Orange Easter

For Easter, we got together with our pals Joe, Tom & Christine and Jon & Amy for some food and fun.

James dyes hard boiled eggs for the party. (04/16/06)

We dyed eggs. Tim baked bread. I made deviled eggs and "Queen of Soul Ham", with a recipe provided directly from the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, on an appearance on the Martha Stewart show.

Lots of good food was there to be eaten. (04/16/06)

Tom and Christine brought "Party potatoes," which is kind of like mashed potatoes but with sour cream mixed in. Plus she brought homemade cupcakes with marzapan carrots. And Jon and Amy brought an amazing green salad bar.

Christine's cupcakes were a big hit. (04/16/06)

Afterwards we played games like Password and Nine Holes of Golf. What a great way to spend the day.

Tim, Amy, Joe, Jon, Christine and Tom smile as we play Nine Holes of Golf. (04/16/06)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ahoy Pirates!

Shiver me timbers! There are pirates in Orange County! That is, if you go to the Pirates Dinner Adventure, one of those themed interactive dinner shows where they feed you and entertain you simultaneously. Our friend Everett set this event up. He's been seeing a new guy, Manny, and wanted to introduce him to his friends. And what better place to do it than a big pirate dinner adventure.

The pirate ship approacheth! (04/08/06)

The Pirates Dinner Adventure is similar to Medieval Times, only without the horses. (Click here to read the James & Tim Blog Medieval Times experience). One nice touch was that it was a musical, complete with original songs, something Medieval Times doesn't have. Besides that, it pretty much follows that basic formula ... each section has a different color, and you cheer for the person who represents your color.

We were in the purple group, and our pirate was Saxon, who was the smallest pirate of the bunch. Seriously, the guy was probably five-foot-three. We were kind of disappointed at first, but the guy was actually pretty ripped. And, as it turned out, he was the fastest pirate when it came to climbing the nets and scaffolding.

During the pre-show, the host (right) introduces Saxon, the Purple pirate. (04/08/06)

Inside the main theater was the primary pirate's galleon where most of the activities occurred. There were swordfights. Acrobatics. And lots of audience participation. And the food wasn't half bad either. Yet unlike Medieval Times, they actually give you silverware.

Inside the arena was a giant pirate ship where all the action took place. (04/08/06)

Afterward, the cast mingles with the audience and poses for photos, which is fun. Overall, we're really glad we went, although we probably wouldn't do it more than once. But it was fun. Thanks Everett for organizing!

Everett and Manny (right) pose with one of the show pirates (left). (04/08/06)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dishwasher Mishap

Want to know what happens when a spatula falls out of the dishwasher tray onto the heating coil at the very bottom? You're looking at it.

This spatula has seen better days. (04/06)

I guess we didn't load the thing very well and it must have slipped out when we shut the door or something. And if you think it looks crazy, just imagine the burnt plastic smell that was in the house for the next two hours.

Fortunately, once it cooled down, all the melted plastic scraped right off.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dope New Phones

Tim and I got some sick new phones, yo. The Sprint PPC 6700. I'd been wanting to get a smartphone for a while (carrying a separate phone and PDA is so ghetto nowadays). :)

The phones have touchscreens and run on Windows Mobile.
The phones have touchscreens and run on Windows Mobile.

So when our phone contracts were up for renewal on the first of the month, we did some shoppin'. The phones are slightly larger than our last ones, but yet very small considering their capabilities. It's got high-speed cellular Internet, Wi-Fi and bluetooth (can anyone recommend a good bluetooth headset, Doris or Jen?) :)

When you pull the keyboard out, it switches to landscape. Sweet.
When you pull the keyboard out, it switches to landscape. Sweet.

The only downside (and it's pretty minor) is that converting all my data from the Palm platform to the Windows Mobile platform wasn't entirely smooth. I lost all my telephone tags, so although I still have everybody's phone number, I can't necessarily tell which one is your mobile phone, home phone, office phone, etc.

A little bigger than most phones, but lighter than a phone and PDA.
A little bigger than most phones, but lighter than a phone and PDA.

I think for the most part I have it straightened out. But don't be surprised if you hear me calling your fax number!

A camera on the back too!
A camera on the back too!

Mine, by the way, was my birthday present from Tim, which is like one of the best gifts ever, especially after all the effort he put into that amazing birthday party. Thanks so much Tim. I loves it!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

T-Bone Turns 37

Our friend Tom just had his birthday, and we were there to help usher in his 37th year. It was a pretty simple event. Dinner at El Torito. Cake and games at Tom and Christine's place afterward. And it was a blast. Happy birthday Tommy!

Tom and Christine were all smiles at the Burbank El Torito. (04/01/06)

Ryan, Laura and Tim help Tom celebrate the big 3-7. (04/01/06)

Tom about to blow out the candles atop a pyramid of homemade cupcakes made with the most amazing cream cheese frosting. (04/01/06)