Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dragon Boat Festival

Yesterday, Sean and I met up with Sarah, Valentin, and Pavel at the Dragon Boat Festival at Festival Beach on Town Lake that was held by the Japan-America Society of Greater Austin. It turned out to be a beautiful day -- the night before, some crazy storms rolled through Texas (we got spared the hail and really gusty winds, though).

The dragon boats were neat. I'm a dragon freak, so I loved their heads and tails. We watched one round of races. Sarah found these boards you can stand on, for a good view. The boats would race from the start line to near the I-35 bridge, then turn around and row back to the loading dock, re-load, and do it all over again.

Sarah, Sean, and I went to the ticket table and got in the food line, and Valentin and Pavel went to sit in the shade. After getting our sticky rice and sesame balls, Sean and I got distracted by the taiko drummers playing by the stage. What impressed me the most was that it was a mostly girl taiko drumming group. I don't know if that's common or not, since I don't know much about taiko...although it looks like fun :)

We watched a few more performances -- Korean dances, Tae Kwon Do by Tiger Jung's Martial Arts, and an Indian Dance by the Natyalaya School of Dance where the poor girls were burning their feet on the hot black stage.

Korean dance

Tae Kwon Do

Indian dance

We didn't see these girls perform, but they were just so cute

Sarah came and got us to tell us that one of the boat teams had asked Valentin and Pavel to row with them, since they were short two people. That was pretty exciting and random, so we went to join them.

Pavel and, they weren't on the APD team...just thought it was funny

Dragon head on the boat

While we were waiting around, I saw Aaron ride up on the trail, so he joined us for a while. We waited quite a while...they weren't sure exactly when they were going to have their turn. We met the lady who owned the dragon boats. I didn't get her name, but she was 71, I think, and was such a good spirited, happy lady. She said that her son owned Adventure Alliance, which is the team that Valentin and Pavel were rowing with.

Valentin had disappeared off somewhere for a while. Then the boys were up! Sarah went running to find Valentin. They waited a few minutes, then were a bit paniced, so they asked Sean if he wanted to row. He was going to sit in..then all of a sudden, Valentin runs up, throws a life vest on, and gets in the boat. It was actually pretty exciting with them on the boat.

Where's Valentin?

Valentin and Pavel in the boat

Sean held our purses as Sarah and I ran to scope out the race. Their boat won on a judge call that they had started behind the other teams (at the finish line, a boat just beat them by a little bit). Post race, we met up with the boys, who were both wet on one side where they were rowing.

We ended up hanging around for a few more performances...Hawaiian performances,, Shaolin Kung Fu, Chinese and Japanese dances. Here are some pics for entertainment value.

Sean doing the ALOHA dance

Shaolin girl with swords

Action shot of Shaolin performers

Japanese folk dancers

Sarah and I ended up participating in a Japanese money dance, which I couldn't get until the! Then we called it a day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dumpster diving! :p

Funny thing happened to me at work today...

So yesterday, we had quite a large investment run. I use investment -- a plaster like substance used in lost wax casting for jewelry making -- to invest the waxes and flasks to put in the kiln overnight. I finished off the box yesterday. And without thinking twice, once I was done investing, I walked out the back door to throw the box out in the office complex dumpster.

Today, I open up the new box of investment, and get ready to start investing. But where is the metal scoop I use?!? That's when I realized that I had left it in the old cardbord box that I threw out yesterday.

I start laughing hysterically, but quietly, at the situation I've put myself into. I'm wondering if they've collected the garbage since yesterday. I tell Sarah about it..she's like..get Aaron to help you get it out (Aaron is like 6'7" tall). I'm still laughing about the situation.

Jon, the maintenance guy of the complex, and friend of ours, is talking with Charles up front. I'm like..damn it, I need Jon's help! I end up walking out to the dumpster on my own, don't see the box, but see a lot of nasty crap piled up. But there's hope that they didn't pick up the trash yesterday...

I motion Jon to come to the back of the shop with me. He soon ends his conversation with Charles. I enlisted Jon's help because...see..he is a true professional dumpster diver. He's always bringing us stuff he finds. He found Sarah a bike one time!

I tell Jon the story, I'm laughing about it still. Just can't help it. He said, oh, I saw that box in their yesterday (I think he goes dumpster diving every day...I'm still waiting for my free!). Jon knows exactly where the box is, and how to get to it (it's kind of tucked in where you'll have to physically get it into the dumpster if it weren't for his ingenuity). He got a piece of plastic PVC piping that was behind the dumpster to move it so that he could reach in and get it. And sure enough, the metal scoop was there!!! Phew!

It was great comic relief for me towards the end of a really busy day.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Update: Bonnie's test results, Belle's thyroid problems, and sinks!

We got Bonnie's test results from her growth on her foot, and phew, it's just a benign growth.  Now I can breath a *sigh* of relief for one of my pups.

However Belle's thyroid tests were not so positive.  Her levels are lower than what the doc wants it to be at, but not *too* low.  Not good, not horrible...

On the bright side, my boss gave me and Sean two bathroom sinks (Kohler 2211s).  It works out perfectly for us since we've ripped apart our bathroom and are in need of sinks, cabinets, and a countertop.  We can just build around the sinks.

We were kind of waiting a bit to spend the money, seeing that one of our dogs will be sick for the rest of her life, and one just went through surgery.  But since Bonnie's growth was not cancerous, I think we'll be in the clear to spend a bit of money on our bathroom (not to mention saving for our wedding next year as well).  Money money money.  See it go bye bye!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Austin hits triple digits today, rolling blackouts

Yup, it's only mid April and it already got up to 100 today. Hot hot hot. I've been planting for 3 days in the scorching sunny heat, sweating till the sunscreen turns my skin white.

But on the bright side, the power went off at work today around 4:30pm, so I got to go home an hour early. :)

And from KVUE news,

Parts of Austin experienced power outages Monday afternoon due to rolling blackouts.

Austin Energy told KVUE News the rolling blackouts were put in place because of a very high demand for electricity.

The state's power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), released a statement and called it an emergency situation.

Officials say there was not enough power generation to serve the demand, thanks to unseasonably hot temperatures and power plants out for maintenance. Blackouts were ordered for areas across Texas.

Temperatures reached record highs for the second day in a row in Central Texas. The temperature at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) reached 100 degrees by 5 p.m. The previous record, set in 1987, was 90 degrees. Temperatures across Central Texas were in the upper 90s and low 100s.

Temperatures were expected to reach record highs again on Tuesday.

Last month, energy usage was up six percent compared to March last year. So far in April, energy use is up 16 percent compared to last year.

Customers have been asked to reduce their usage of power to the lowest level possible, including:

-- Setting thermostats at 78 degrees or higher.

-- Not using use any electric lighting, appliances or equipment unless absolutely necessary for health or safety.

-- Not opening refrigerators and freezers more than necessary.

ERCOT officials said they were working to return operations to normal.

Austin Energy officials said they hoped the blackouts would end by 6 p.m. Monday.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New shirt -- pattern: New Look #6515

After all the sewing I did for Julie's wedding, I wanted to make something for myself. It's so gratifying to make stuff for yourself ;)

First, I picked out fabric -- a piece that I bought from the remnants bin from Joann's pretty recently. It is a little over a yard and was about $3. Then I pick out the pattern. I decided to try out New Look #6515. I scrounged a zipper from a pile that Natalie had given me (thanks, Natalie!!!).

New Look #6515

I shortened the pattern by 3 inches to accomodate my short torso. The pattern was rated as "easy", and it pretty much was. I cut the pieces out one night, then finished sewing in another night.

Front view (crappy photo)

Side view (along with a $5 denim skirt from the local thrift store)


Details - double stitching on collar

Friday, April 14, 2006

sick puppy :(

Bonnie went in for surgery this morning to have a growth removed from her back left paw. It started out as just a bump not too long ago, but has grown pretty fast over the past week. The doc said they couldn't diagnose what exactly it was, but it was just best to get it removed.

Sean took her in this morning and picked her up in the evening. I was already home, since I got out 45 minutes early for Good Friday. Poor thing had to wear an Elizabethan collar. She hates those things. We've had to use one on her for 3 or 4 separate incidences. She keeps on walking into walls, shelves, our legs, etc...with the E-collar on.

She was really groggy, still doped up. But she was walking on her bum foot. The wound looks pretty nasty -- they literally sliced her foot open, took the thing out, and stitched it up. It's still seeping and bleeding a bit.

When she's awake, she'll follow us around the house. We figured that it would be best for the both of us to stay home tonight to watch over her, so I sent Sean out to pick up some hot wings from Hooters. I had all 3 pups with me in the bedroom, so I could do some sewing. I was pretty eager to make myself clothes, since I had been sewing a lot for my friend's wedding. I had strewn pillows on the floor, so she could lay down, but she much preferred our bed and managed to get up on it despite the bum foot.

We're having to limit her eating/drinking today. She's really thirsty, since she was cut off last night as well. She looks so sad...

Okay..that one's funny, I couldn't stop laughing..she's drinking water...

Later on in the evening tonight, she started limping, so we gave her the pain medication. She's pretty passed out now, though.

But the sucky thing is..she's not the only sick dog...Belle has been sick since late summer of last year. She was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which is treatable (not curable) with medication every day + shots every 3 weeks. And more recently, we noticed that her hair was falling out, so Sean took her to the doc. And now she has hypothyroidism as well. That also is treatable (not curable) with medication every day. She's lost most of the hair on her chest and belly, which is kind of funny..a balding dog...but she's pretty healthy with the meds.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wakeboarding - April 1, 2006

Part of me hates living in Texas. Part of me loves living in Texas. This is one of the reasons why I love living in Texas..well, in the Austin area, at least...

April 1st, it was warm enough to go wakeboarding. Actually, it was our 2nd trip into the water this year. Granted, Lake Austin, is pretty damn cold...we still went. The water temps were around 68-70. Still too cold for my blood, but trying to suck it up and get used to it, ditching the wetsuit...

This trip, it was just me, Sean, and Stef. Small crowd. But fun nevertheless. We went early in the day. The lake was pretty calm, boatwise, but a bit choppy because of the wind.

Here are some pics for entertainment value...

My warmup round

Stef waving to all the hotties on the shoreline

Who says white men can't jump?

Sean as the pilot

Besides the damn wind, it turned out to be a nice day

Sean always has an afro when wakeboarding


Sean's one wake heelside jump

My one wake heelside jump

Me riding in the cuffed position

Me practicing a handle pass to ride cuffed

No, I'm not making a face at the camera...I ripped my upper labial frenum open on a fall (I know, that sounds dirty!). It's the part that connects your gums and upper lip...this picture is post bloody teeth. Luckily, it stopped bleeding pretty fast.

Me, chillaxin' on the boat

Sean carving the water

Sunday, April 02, 2006

chocolatey goodness!

A recipe for chocolatey goodness...

The only thing I know how to cook is chocolate. Hey, that's not exactly a bad thing, right? And damn, I think I do a fine good job at it, too.

I made my 'famous amongst my friends' home made chocolates - in dark chocolate and in white chocolate.

- Callebaut Semi-Sweet 51.5% cocoa Belgian chocolate
- Callebaut Bittersweet 60.5% cocoa Belgian chocolate
- El Rey Venezuelan white chocolate
- Crunchy peanut butter
- Heath bar bits

No there is no science to this madness. There is no strict recipe. I just combine ingredients as I feel like it..and well, with these just can't go wrong at all.

First, I cut up the chocolate bars into chunks.

Next, I melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolates together in a pot on very low, mixing all the time so that it doesn't fry to the bottom of the pot (I don't have a double boiler). At the same time, I melt the white chocolate, but use a bigger pot, fill with a little water, then melt the white chocolate in a smaller pot inside the bigger pot, to kind of create a double boiler (heat on very low, stir constantly). From prior experience, I've learned that white chocolate burns easily, so it's better to have a double boiler setup for melting white chocolate.

Once all the chocolate is melted, I add spoonfuls and spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter. Mix well. Then add Heath bar bits to your liking.

When everything is mixed well, pour the chocolate mixture into a foil-lined pan/pyrex container/etc. Get some of the contrasting chocolate (ie. the batch mixed is dark choc...get the white choc), drizzle lines of the contrasting chocolate onto the surface of the main batch. take a knife and drag through vertically and horizontally to create the feathered pattern. Sprinkle Heath bar bits on the top. Refridgerate.

When the chocolate is completely cooled and hard (I left mine in the fridge overnight), you can take the chocolate out of the containers (just pull the foil up), and chop it up into decadent pieces.

Viola! Chocolatey goodness that makes people swoon. I have gotten a few marriage proposals out of my chocolates from both girls and guys ;)