Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day at the OC Fair

We had planned to spend the last Sunday of the month hosting a small pool party at our house. As it turned out, the weather was kind of cloudy (or so we thought it would be). Instead, we got together with our friends Jon and Amy and went to the OC Fair. It was our first time there since 2002, and things were pretty much exactly the same now as they were then. Rather than bore you with a description, we'll just post a few photo highlights.

Jon and Amy pose with the winner of our semi-annual four-way Euroslide competition. (07/30/06)

The hot food item: the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Chicken Sandwich (and the answer to the question everyone is wondering is "Yes"). (07/30/06)

Amy gets a sales pitch from the hot tub vendor. (07/30/06)

Amy and James get their handwriting analyzed. (07/30/06)

Tim can never resist a funnel cake. (07/30/06)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More Vacation Pix

We've been back from our Virgin Islands vacation for more than a month, and we finally remembered to take in our waterproof cameras for developing. The pictures were just okay. Here are some of the better ones.

Some of the many fishes we saw off Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands. (06/16/06)

Now this is one scary sea creature! :) (06/16/06)

This one would make one heck of a Filet O'Fish! (06/16/06)

James and Tim drink their Voodoo Juice in the pool. (06/16/06)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not So Grand Opening

For months, I've been observing the construction of a brand new Target store at the Irvine Spectrum, which is a very popular outdoor mall and movie theater complex. I drive by it every day on my way to work, and each day I kept reminding myself how much I wanted to be there on the grand opening day (I've never opened a Target before). Sure enough, we went. And what a dud it turned out to be.

Opening day at the new Target at Irvine Spectrum. (07/23/06)

It was a weird day from the start. Here we were right in the middle of one of the worst heat waves Southern California has seen, and we woke up to the sound of torrential rains, monsoon winds and the loudest thunder I ever remember hearing. It seriously felt like we were in a hurricane. Tim and I immediately ran through the house shutting all the windows we had left open. Rain water was everywhere, having been blown in by the strong wind gusts.

It was a nice target, but the opening was a dud. (07/23/06)

Eventually the storm subsided, and we made our way through the tree-limb littered streets to the Irvine Spectrum. And boy what a disappointment the grand opening was. There were no balloons. No popcorn. No free hot dogs. No door prizes. Not even a "Grand Opening" sign (only an unassuming "now open" decal on the front doors). It was seriously as if we had gone to any garden variety Target on any average day (other than the store was larger than most). What a waste of time.

James drowns his Target disappointment in a Cheesecake Factory mint julep. (07/23/2006)

At least we got a nice lunch out of it when we swung by the Cheesecake Factory for a bite to eat.

Laura and James check out the Irvine Spectrum. (07/23/06)

Afterward we only had about an hour to kill before we needed to drive Laura back to Long Beach airport. So she put together a playlist from our MP3 database that she wants me to burn for her (which I still have yet to do — sorry Laura).

Jones the Voice at the Bowl

Several months back we planned a big excursion to the historic Hollywood Bowl to see the legendary Tom Jones in his debut performance. And the day finally arrived!

It was Tom Jones' debut performance at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. (07/22/06)

Besides Tim and I, we had our friends Jon and Amy, Amy's sister Ashley, Tim's co-worker Wild Nancy and her boyfriend, and our friend Laura G who flew down from the Bay Area specifically for this event.

I picked Laura up from Long Beach airport at 8:00 a.m. (if I thought I had it bad, it was nothing compared to Laura, who lives so far from any major airport that she had been up since 3:00 a.m. to get here). After running a few errands, Laura took a nap while I cooked my usual picnic fare: my cold chicken pasta with asparagus, grapes and a balsamic vinagrette dressing.

Ashley, Amy, James, Laura and Jon at our pre-performance picnic. (07/22/06)

We met up with Jon, Amy and Ashley just after 4:00, which gave us plenty of time to enjoy a nice relaxing picnic before the 8:30 showtime (Nancy and boyfriend were no-shows for the picnic). The other advantage to getting there early were our prime parking spots — a rarity in the parking-challenged Hollywood Bowl.

The only major drawback that day was the incredible heat. Man was it a hot day. Fortunately we found a fantastic picnic spot that was shaded from the broiling sun.

Amy, Ashley and Tim look forward to Tom Jones. (07/22/06)

We played cards, told dirty jokes and even swapped cookies and wine with the crazy middle-aged women at the table next to us. We even got a chance to glimpse the Union-Jack-clad underwear they planned to toss on stage. They were a riot!

The ladies at the neighboring picnic table wave the undies they planned to toss on stage. (07/22/2006)

Opening for Tom Jones was the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, featuring, well, Pete Escovedo, and his family (including daughter Sheila E). They were pretty good.

Shortly after their set, Nancy and her boyfriend Dave showed up. They were literally sopping wet from having made the long walk from the parking lot to the Bowl itself in the sweltering night-heat. She brought cheesecake and other treats, including chocolate covered strawberries that were floating in the melted chocolate. For a kick, Amy used the melted chocolate to give herself a Chocolate Sanchez moustache, which had us rolling in laughter.

Amy uses the melted chocolate-covered strawberries to do her imitation of Chocolate Sanchez. (07/22/06)

Tom Jones was great! He pretty much performed the same set that he performed at the May 2005 and December 2005 concerts I saw, with a few exceptions. Instead of Sex Bomb, he sang his latest hit single Stoned in Love, and he substituted the sentimental Mam & Dad's Waltz with the equally sentimental Love Letters. While not as intimate as some of the smaller venues where I've seen him, it was nonetheless a fantastic show.

Tom Jones on the Hollywood Bowl stage. (07/22/06)

If you're interested, check out Jon's review of the performance or Laura G's summary of the same day.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Visit from Fernando & Erica

My cousin Fernando ("Nando" for short) and his wife Erica were in Southern California for Comic-Con and decided to spend a couple of days in Orange County. This is one of my cousins from my Mom's half of the family (the Chicago side, as I call it, even though Nando and Erica actually live in Las Vegas).

James, Erica, Fernando & Tim brave the heat for an outdoor pic. (07/22/06)

We hadn't seen them since their wedding in 1999 or thereabouts when I got a call from them last February. They were going to be in Santa Monica and we met them for dinner. This time around we got to spend more time with them. Unfortunately they didn't escape the Las Vegas heat as much as they wanted to — it was so HOT the entire time they were here.

But we did discover that they too are Phase 10 fans. So Saturday night we ordered up a couple of pizzas from Angelo's & Vinci's, cracked open a couple of bottles of port, and played until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. I don't remember who was ahead in the end, other than I know it wasn't me.

The Slingbox: a device we can no longer live without.

While they were here, we were so impressed with Nando's Slingbox — a device that allows him to watch his home TV over the internet — that we had to have one (you know Tim and his technology). It will come in very handy the next time we visit my Dad, who only gets like 13 channels (half of which are in Spanish). :) And thanks to a very generous thank-you gift from Fernando and Erica, we went and got ourselves a Slingbox of our own. Thanks Nando & Erica!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy 51st Birthday Disneyland

I can't believe it's been a year since I helped Disneyland celebrate its birthday 50 years to the day the park opened. How time flies! In case you missed it last year, here's my recap.

A close-up of my photo of Disney CEO Robert Iger, Governor Schwarzenegger, Mickey Mouse, Diane Disney Miller, Art Linkletter, Michael Eisner & Minnie Mouse. (07/17/05)

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Visit From Tim's Family

Tim's family was in Southern California for a couple of days on business. So Tim took the day off and spent the day with his family. Most of the time, we usually go visit them in the desert. So it was nice to have the shoe on the other foot.

The happy couple smile for the camera. (07/14/06)

I joined the party after work ... just in time for me to start cooking. We made chicken, grilled asparagus, portobello mushrooms and corn on the cob. Tim's mom made her famous potato salad.

Captain BBQ shows off his electronic fly swatter. (07/15/06)

While they were out and about, Tim picked up a rather surprising gift: an electronic fly swatter, which I show off proudly! :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Diego's 1st Birthday Party

I happened to coincide my visit with that of my cousin Dianne and Fernando, who came to the U.S. from London to have their son's baptism and first birthday party. The baptism was on Saturday in Sacramento, with the birthday party the next day in Redwood City at Dianne's friend Jovita's house.

The birthday boy with Daddy Fernando. (07/09/06)

It was a great opportunity to catch up with a whole bunch of relatives without visiting them individually, which, given the numbers, is physically impossible in one weekend. In addition to meeting Dianne's son Diego for the first time, I was also excited about seeing my cousins Michele and Lisa's daughter Liele (the one who was born on my birthday). And coincidentally I also met for the first time my cousin Olga's baby Juliet, who was also born on my birthday (just five minutes apart from Liele).

Cousin Michele, Lisa and Liele. (07/09/06)

Malena wasn't feeling too well, so she stayed home with John Paul and her parents, while my dad and I took Anna and Ana, who were looking forward to swimming in Jovita's swimming pool. That was where we saw one of the most entertaining spectacles ever. Jovita's dog Daisy just loves jumping onto a floating raft, then jumping into the water, swimming out, and then repeating the whole process. It was hilarious!

Daisy, the incredible diving dog entertains the party guests. (07/09/06)

They had some great food. BBQ chicken, tri-tip, hot dogs and all the accoutrements that go along with it, like potato salad, etc. Afterward there was cake (which Diego got all over himself), followed by presents, which Diego hardly payed any attention to after opening the first one.

Evidence of our family's recent baby boom: Olga & Juliet, Dianne and Diego and Michele and Liele. (07/09/06)

Afterward, my dad drove me directly to the Oakland airport where I caught my flight home. The trip was quick, but lots of fun.

Dianne, James, Diego, Lisa, Caroline, Olga and Juliet. (07/09/06)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Weekend in NoCal

For the first time since January, I had a chance to visit my family in Northern California. Tim wasn't able to make it this weekend, but since I had other relatives from Mexico and the U.K. visiting there, I thought it would be a good opportunity to go.

Malena's neice Ana Lisette, age 8, and little sister Anna Ruth, age 7. (07/08/06)

It was a short trip; just Friday and Saturday night. (I don't have any vacation days left). Anna's cousin Ana, from Madera, was also visiting. So were Malena's parents from Mexico, Tio Tomas and Tia Lupe, whom I hadn't seen in 15 years. Oh yeah, and my older brother Robert was there too, "fixing" my dad's computer. It was a full house!

John Paul, age 2. (07/08/06)

John Paul is getting bigger by the second. And he's talking now. His vocabulary isn't huge, but he's getting there. And he loves to dance to Anna's Bryan Adams CD (the music from Spirit).

Back: Malena & Dad. Front: Malena's parents, Tio Tomas and Tia Lupe. (07/08/06)

Besides the party I went to on Sunday (I'll write about that separately), we didn't do a whole lot. I did take Anna and Ana to go see Cars on Sunday, which they had wanted to see (actually I think I wanted to see it more). The Saturday movie has become a tradition now, with Anna looking forward to it every time I come. And I'm always happy to oblige.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Missed Us? We've been on eBay.

In case you've been wondering why Tim and I haven't posted anything to our blog lately, I can pretty much sum it up with one word: eBay.

Panorama Magazine (Spain) from 1990, featuring Madonna in Madrid. Sold for $52.

For years we had been holding onto junk that we didn't really want anymore so that we could ultimately sell it on eBay. And since we've finally run out of storage space, we finally decided that it is time for the stuff to go.

36th Annual Grammy Awards Pass from 1994. Peter Max illustration. Sold for $20.50.

So for the last couple of weeks, when we haven't been at work, we've been working at sorting through junk, photographing, writing descriptions, posting auctions and shipping the stuf once it sells. (Well, we've been busy with that as well as a bunch of family and friend visits, as well as a weekend trip to San Ramon, which I'll write about soon).

July 17, 2005 Special Release 50th Anniversary Golden Ears. Sold for $11.50.

We do plan on catching up with the blog again very soon. In the meantime I thought you might seeing some highlights from some of the junk we've been selling, as well as the final selling price (not including shipping). Go ahead and laugh. We have been!

Used Pearl Jam T-shirt From Mid 1990s. Sold for $11.50.

2000 Honda Civic Owner's Manual. Sold for $10.51.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Bodybuilding for Men Book. Sold for $5.

Showtime Guide, October 1980. Sold for $2.75.

Luke Skywalker Die Cast Key Chain. Did not sell (with $2 minimum bid, too).

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We Aced the Citizenship Test!

Okay, just for the heck of it, Tim and I each took MSNBC's quiz, Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?, a sampling of the 100 questions naturalization examiners have to choose from when testing applicants for citizenship. Some of the questions are easy. Some are not. MSNBC picked 20 of the more difficult ones. And here are our results.

The flag above the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (04/02)

Tim: 100%
Welcome to the United States! (And, truth be told, you know more about this great land than most Americans.)

James: 90%
Welcome to the United States! (And, truth be told, you know more about this great land than most Americans.)

The two quesions I got wrong was the original 13 colonies and the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Yes, Tim has been gloating all morning, since he's less of a history buff than I am and still scored better. Personally I think luck had more to do with it. That and the fact that I kept overthinking my answers.

Either way, we would both become citizens based on our scores, since we both scored over 85%. So long as the score is higher than 80% (the minimum the INS accepts), the other percentages don't matter, right? ... RIGHT? ;-)

Take the quiz.