Thursday, September 27, 2007

Autumn Moon Festival

Beauty queens at the festival

San Francisco Mayor Newsom marching in the Autumn Moon Festival Parade

View of the San Francisco Bay Bridge from Treasury Island

Dragon Boat racers going neck to neck

I visited San Francisco with some friends last weekend because I was itching to take some new photos. Weather-wise it was the worse weekend for months, but luckily for us the rain held off. We headed to Chinatown to see the Autumn Moon Festival which consists of a big street fair and a short parade.

Eventhough I lived in the Bay Area all my life, I had never visited Treasure Island. However, I lucked out this particular weekend when I was there to see the annual dragon boat races. From what seems like hundreds of teams took turns racing each other up and down the cove. But, after watching a few races, I was bored as I had no vested interest in any of the teams, but here's few photos to share with you.

- AV

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

J is for Japan on ABC Wednesday

Mt. Fuji taken from outside our hotel

Ginza at night

Another photo of Ginza

Here's a few photos I took on a trip to Japan years ago. We stayed at a hotsprings resort overlooking Mt. Fuji during the winter. There is also a tour bus that can take you up half way up the mountain. And, it is cold up there!

The other photos are of Ginza, Tokyo's shopping district. The lit up billboards and signs really bring the place to life. On the weekends, the parts of the streets are closed off to traffic so hundreds of people can walkabout to do their shopping.

- AV

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wednesday Heroes

Lance Cpl. Cory Jamieson
Lance Cpl. Cory Jamieson
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Personal Security Detachment, Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, attached to Regimental Combat Team 2

Hippocrates once said, "Art is long, life is short".

Cpl. Jeremy David Allbaugh lived a short life. But, he was immortalized recently in acrylics by a Lance Cpl. Jamieson who painted a mural in his honor.
"I feel sad because it is for him, but it makes me happy because I can still do something for him," said Lance Cpl. Jamieson. "I thought about it during the ceremony in the chapel. I looked up at the stained glass windows and I thought 'I should do something like that'".

Along with help from family, a fellow Marine and a Morale, Wefare and Recreation manager, Jamieson had the paint and tools needed.

"I would paint eight or nine hours in the gym and time would fly by," Jamieson said.

Cpl. Jeremy David Allbaugh, 21 years old from Luther, Oklahoma, was killed by a roadside bomb on July 5, 2007 while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq.

"He believed very strongly in what our country's doing," said his mother, Jenifer Allbaugh. "They were doing good things over there, and we don't see that in the news or media. There's a lot of progress being made. I wish more people would talk to our boys who are in it and not our politicians because they see it firsthand".

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Pics

A few pictures I took the other day at the Japanese Friendship Garden. It is a 6 acre park filled with Koi ponds, a wooden bridge, and a tea room. It is modeled after the famous Korakuen Park in its sister city of Okayama, Japan.

- AV

Thursday, September 20, 2007

1872 Instructions

Click on the images to read

I originallly could not think of any letter "I" photos for ABC Wednesday and thought about posting these. But, since they were kind of bland, I found something else.

However, I couldn't let these go without showing them to you. These 1872 Instructions & Punishments were photographed from a window of the first public school in San Diego named the Mason Street School. I cringe every time I read them and glad I wasn't living back then.

- AV

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I is for Inside Passage on ABC Wednesday

Leaving the port of Skagway on a cruise ship

Sailing on Glacier Bay

Tenders leaving for Ketchikan

Serenity of Misty Fjords

If you've been reading my posts, you know Alaska is one of my favorite vacation spots. Here's a few pictures from my cruises through Alaska's southeastern region known as the Inside Passage. The wildlife (i.e. eagles, bears, whales, dolphins, ...etc), the beauty of the glaciers, and the lush greenery make Alaska a magical place.

- AV

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wednesday Hero

1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens
1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens
26 years old from Tonasket, Washington
1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)
June 16, 2006

The love of Megan Ewens's life arrived at Arlington National Cemetery on July 7, 2006. His ashes inside a small wooden box, the box inside a coffin, the coffin draped with an American flag and carried on a caisson pulled by six black horses.

Lt. Forrest P. Ewens had shipped out for Afghanistan in March of that same year. His wife, being the same rank in the Army, understood the risks, telling a colonel at Fort Drum, N.Y., that if anything happened to her husband, she didn't want to hear about it from a stranger.

On June 6, 2006 Lt. Ewens and Sgt. Ian T. Sanchez were killed when ATV struck an IED while on combat operation in Pech River Valley, Afghanistan.

A few weeks before his death, Lt. Ewens called his wife from an Afghan mountain to inform her that his unit had been subsisting on melted snow and rations and that he had been writing his impressions down in a notebook he carried.

"This was the love of her life," Megan Ewens's mother said. "They were so well-matched and made such a good team. We couldn't ask for a better son-in-law."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Coffee Wars

I can try to give up a number of unhealthy foods, but I'll be hard-pressed if I had to give up coffee. McDonald's now have 3 Iced Coffee drinks...Regular, Hazelnut Cream, and Vanilla Cream. I finally got around into trying one of these since I usually go to Starbuck's for my fix. However, with Starbucks raising their prices recently, I had better find an alternative before I go broke on coffee alone. Luckily, I have disciplined myself not to drink more than 1 cup per day and there are days I actually skip coffee!

For hot coffee according to a survey, most people liked the McDonald's taste better than Starbucks. Another alternative is 7-Eleven coffee. I like the self-serve coffee station where I can pump as much hazelnut or vanilla syrup I want without extra charge. Unfortunately, the 7-Eleven coffees are never consistent between stores. They range between watered-down to just right so I never know what I'll get beforehand.

And, I've given up on homebrewed coffee because it never seems to taste as good as store bought. So, I figured it must be the paper cup and sleeving that comes with the coffee that I like so much. ;P

So what's my verdict on McDonald's regular iced coffee? It's a heck a lot cheaper than Starbucks and it's a HUGE 24 oz. I couldn't finish it in one sitting; however, for a regular coffee, it was a little sweeter than I would have liked and I don't really taste the coffee compared to Starbucks'.

- AV

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

H is for High Places on ABC Wednesday

The top photo was a ride taken at a fair. The passengers would free fall for several seconds probably like from a height of a 12 story building. I rode something similar at an amusement park and it was the longest 5 seconds of my life.

The second photo was taken looking up inside a hotel. It was fun taking those windowed elevators. You can feel your ears pop going to the top floors, but don't look down.

For more information about ABC Wednesday photos, go to the BlogCatalog discussion.

- AV

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wednesday Hero

Staff Sgt. Richard P. Ramey
Staff Sgt. Richard P. Ramey
27 years old from Canton, Ohio
703rd Ordinance Compan, supporting the 82nd Airborne Division
February 8, 2004

Richard Ramey always knew what he was going to be. Once, while in the third grade, his teacher asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. His response? "I'll go to war and fight" Concerned by his answer, his teacher called his mother, Julie Ramey. She told her "No, that's my son".

SSgt. Ramey was killed when insurgents attacked his and other convoys in Mahmudiyah, Iraq.

"Richard loved to do his job. No matter where it would take him," said his mother. "He really felt deeply that he wanted to protect people that couldn't protect themselves"

In a statement released through Fort Knox, the Ramey family said, "He was adventurous and smart, combining both qualities in what he did for the Army. We knew his work was dangerous but also knew he wouldn't have wanted to do anything else".

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More Critters

Guess who has been stealing apples from my tree? I caught this one red-handed on my fence line.

Last year, I had an abundant of Granny Smith apples growing in my backyard. This year, a number of squirrels have been stealing from my supply and I have only been able to save a handful that have been "untouched" by critters. Most of the apples have been half-eaten and then trashed on my lawn. You'd think they can at least save them for later or throw them in my trash.

- AV

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How to Mail a Spider?

We found not 1, but 2 large and menacing looking spiders on our ceiling the other night. We managed to capture both in a large plastic container. The heat outside and our opened door must have welcomed them into our abode.

After some research on the internet, we found a college where you can mail in your spider(s) for identification.

What are some of the rules for mailing your spider? This is a pretty good service for the curious.

  • Do not mail your spider in an envelope
  • Do not mail a live spider. To kill a captured spider, leave it in a freezer overnight.
  • Specify where was the spider captured (i.e. outside, in the house, in a sink, on clothing, ...etc)
  • Specify the town and county where the spider(s) were captured
  • If multiple spiders were captured on the same date and time, they can be mailed in the same container
We still have our 2 spiders so no harm has come to them in case you are a fan of spiders. We haven't quite figured what to do with them so they will remain our guests for awhile.

- AV

Friday, September 07, 2007

Airline TV and Atlanta Airport

Individual airline television with credit card slot

Ceiling of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in the baggage claim area

Here's some photos I took with my camera phone.

Frontier Airlines have individiual television screens for each passenger, but in order to watch 25 channels of satellite tv or a movie channel, you'll have to slide in your credit card.

Does anyone what's up with the large ant sculptures on the ceiling of Atlanta's airport? It definitely is a conversation piece.

- AV

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

G is for Glassware on ABC Wednesday

I had quite a few "G" photos, but I decided on glassware after my recent trip to World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. I saw several shelves of coke glasses at the souvenir store and liked the way they were stacked so I took a few photos.

After visiting Georgia again, I remembered how much I missed sweet tea which I assumed I can only get in the southern part of the United States. It sure would be sweet if I could fill up all these glasses with sweet tea.

Here are links to other ABC Wednesday participents... from jeanmfogle from jeanmfogle from digital flower pictures from mrsnesbitt from kml from bidarlah

- AV

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Wednesday Hero

Sgt. Willard T. Partridge
Sgt. Willard T. Partridge
35 years old from Ferriday, Louisiana
170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade
August 20, 2005

Sgt. Partridge was killed by an IED that exploded near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq.

There isn't that much information about Sgt. Partridge so I though I would share some of the memories that his friends and family have of him.

"I remember Partridge from basic training and AIT. He was a very quiet guy who had a good sense of humor. I remember asking him why he joined, and he told me it was so he could take care of his family and give them a better life. I would have deployed with him any day, he was one of the good guys I graduated with. He will not be forgotten. God Bless."

"Todd was one of the best men I have ever met and I will always have great memories and admiration for him! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family!"

"I will never forget you and those awful eighteen weeks at Fort Leonard Wood. You are in every sense of the term, 'A HERO'"

"Todd was such a quite, solid person. He never demanded the attention of those around him. I remember him always just smiling while everyone else at our LARGE FAMILY get togethers made noise. I could get a hug from him, but I had to ask for it. He never assumed anything. I loved making him hug me.

Todd was a solid, faithful husband, father and man in every respect. He did what had to be done in all areas of his life. He died doing what he knew to be his job in this life. Not that he wanted to die but he wanted to serve whatever the cost might be. He knew that freedom is not free and wanted to pay his part for that freedom for himself, his wife and girls.

I have nothing but love and respect for Todd's memory and will always proudly and thankfully count him among my nephews that adore. His memory will always be honored. I thank God that He brought Todd into our family. He left his mark on it just as he did everywhere he went."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Tales from Atlanta

View from the 43rd floor of the hotel room

View down into the hotel atrium from the 43rd floor

Cast of characters including these dressed as Roman soldiers parading through downtown Atlanta

Historic Underground city beneath Atlanta

World of Coca-Cola lobby

World of Coca-Cola taste room with 70 different free sample Coke drinks

Dispenser of colas from Africa

Georgia Aquarium

Statute of Pierre De Coubertin at Centennial Olympic Park who pushed to revive the ancient Olympic games in 1894

After an all day journey from California to Georgia, it went relatively smoothly until we reached the hotel. The front desk could not locate our reservation we booked in June and later find out the hotel canceled our reservation without ever notifying us!!! And, they blamed us for canceling it. Can you believe this?!

It didn't matter that we had our confirmation letter on hand. They refused to honor the reservation with the price we originally booked. After disputing this over an hour with the hotel, it was now past 10pm and we were hungry with no place to stay. We were now stuck and had to book a room at a price well above the rate we originally were quoted.

Other than this incident, the weather was humid, but clear and we were able visit with friends, see a parade, tour World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park.

In World of Coca-Cola, visitors could sample 70 Coke products throughout the world. Sodas made for North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa each had their own dispensers and we could go to different ones for a taste test. Since I don't drink too much soda, I liked the bland versions from Africa compared to the sugary ones from North America.

I didn't get a chance to visit the Georgia Aquarium which is touted as the largest aquarium in the world. The place was packed with visitors and I didn't feel like waiting in the heat.

Although relatively new, the walk through the Centennial Olympic Park, was satisfying knowing I visited a place that is part of Olympic history.

- AV