Friday, July 29, 2005

what are the chances...

that somebody from the red cross would come and sit in my section at work.. guess what he got to hear about.. i told him why i was mad.. and he made it ok.. and now me and the red cross are friends again..

Sunday, July 24, 2005

lazing on a sunny afternoon

my sister and her husband went away for their anniversary... so i got to watch my baby for a couple days.. we had a great time.. she's very cute, and she tells me that i'm the best, and her favorite.. we had the perfect day.. went swimming at aunt tamies.. went to the beach and had a bbq at the sharps, and went to kidopolis and climbed, and played, and went down a very big slide.. what a great day.. i am very lucky my sister shares her kid with me..
kai and deborah taking a nap
my babies.. deborah and keaton

Friday, July 22, 2005

no slurpee for me..

you would think that if you walk into 7-11, when they are celebrating "slurpee's 40th anniversary", that they would, out of 9 different flavors, have coke slurpees, the most popular slurpee flavor overall.. but they don't.. they do however have 'darth dew' which is somehow a mixture of darth vader and mountain dew.. scary..

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

on why i am mad at the red cross

so the red cross calls me last week.. and tells me that they are at an all time low for blood.. and they need blood really badly.. mine specifically.. they know i have good blood.. so i call them back and tell them that i actually would love to give blood.. but i can't.. cause i went to thailand.. and am now banned from giving blood for one year..
now.. as a side note.. those of you who know me.. know that i love giving blood.. now giving blood hurts.. but that is besides the point..
most of the time i feel very frustrated with the world.. i'm obsessed with "doing the right thing".. but i can never find out what that right thing is.. and when i do find something i have no skills for it.. i can do little things like conserve water, and electricity, and recycle, and when i'm in the grocery store parking lot i always push the cart to the designated place.. and even though these things may be the "right" things to do.. they don't directly make a difference.. so.. (back to the point).. i feel like giving blood is one thing i can do that will directly make a difference.. i can save up to three lives with my blood.. and i've got good blood.. O+.. something like 80% of the population can take my blood.. this is why i love giving blood.. for days before hand, i quit drinking soda.. i start eating all kinds of organic food, and take all my vitamins.. i want to make sure that when i give my blood away it's all full of healthy type stuff.. i treat my blood as well as i would want others to treat their blood if they were donating it to me.. i feel like those who are sick and need blood would benefit from the super healthy blood i give them.. this might be a little crazy.. but it's how i feel.. so.. i was bummed that i couldn't give blood for a year.. but i figured thailand was worth it...
before we left i tried to give blood.. i actually tried to give blood 4 times before i left.. i was having issues with iron.. i tried really hard.. but it didn't work.. and i was sad..
so.. then last week i get this call.. in which i tell the red cross that, "i am sorry i cannot give you my blood.. i went to thailand".. and they ask me where in thailand.. so i told them.. and they told me that i had nothing to worry about, and i should come in and give blood..
so.. today was a blood drive.. and i was ready.. i quit drinking soda by sunday.. and have been eating good cereal with 'whole grains' in it for days now.. and been eating lots of fruits and veggies.. i have been taking my multi vitamin, and also taking my coenzyme Q10, and iron supplement pills.. last night i had steak for dinner (more iron) and today i had my whole grain cereal, and for lunch i had a fruit drink which was yuck, but big on iron, and a protein bar that had lots of iron.. truthfully i was a little worried about an iron overdose.. so i got to the blood drive, and i get in.. and they are nice.. and they take my name.. and they stab my finger to check my iron.. and i was a little nervous because of my past iron issues.. but no.. i passed with flying colors.. i was so excited.. then she starts to ask me questions.. all sorts of questions.. to which i answer mostly no.. but then she asks "in the last year have you left the US, at all".. and i say, "yes.. i went to thailand.. but i called the red cross and everything is ok" and they say "ok.. lets just double check".. and as she's looking she asks if i possibly went to anywhere in Phang Na.. and i thought that sounded familiar.. and then she asked if i specifically went to phuket or maybe perhaps phi phi... and i said that yes.. i've been to both those places.. and she said "sorry, we here at the red cross cannot take your blood"..
so. this is the 5th time i have been denied by the red cross.. aparently the red cross hates me.. and doesn't want to see me again for another year..
so that is why i hate the red cross.. i was late to my 5 year outback anniversary party, because not only did the whole red cross not giving blood thing happen.. but i got stuck driving directly behind people who insisted on going the speed limit.. crazy people.. we live in california... where atleast 9 miles over the speed limit is the actual limit..
so i get to the party and i find out that i (along with my almost sister in law loan) got employee of the year.. yeah for us.. so great party.. and many thanks to john and mike and jim and jen for loving us for the last 5 years, and appreciating the job that we do.. we love you all.. and we're happy to work with you all at the OB for forever.. we could not ask for better managers.. or better jobs.. we love you..

Saturday, July 16, 2005

the not so great part

ok.. so ben and i are telling everyone about our 'great' trip to thailand.. and we're telling about all the great parts of the trip.. and there were many great parts..
but we really haven't told the story about the horrible/worst part of the trip..
i bet your thinking you already know the worst part.. when we all thought we were going to die on the boat, and i got hit in the head with a bag of puke.. no. not the worst part.. (although ben wanted to die on that boat ride.. so it may have been the worst part for him)
actual worst part:
our first day in chang dao.. we are exploring caves.. we go into the first cave.. the first parts are pretty big.. but the next part of the cave has to be explored on hands and knees.. which freaks out holly, who has recently developed a fear of caves.. so, holly doesn't want to go on any further.. we girls come up with the bright idea that we'll stay in the big part of the cave, while the boys and the guide go off, on hands and knees and explore the rest of the cave.. holly tells ryan that it's fine if he goes off, as long as he comes back soon.. so off in the cave hole they go..
so... holly and i are waiting in the big cave.. all we are armed with our head lamps.. and these head lamps are not so great because 1. they are not that bright and 2. they would just go out every once and a while.. and we'd have to hit them until they came back on..
here we are in this very dark cave.. waiting for the boys.. who are coming back soon.. i'm sure.. and holly is kinda freaking out.. about every three minutes holly yells into the cave "ryan? ryan? are you coming back? ryan?" and this yelling upsets the bats.. yes. there were bats in this cave.. and they were upset.. and they kept flying by/at me.. and i couldn't see them (thanks to the useless headlamps), until they'd fly right by my arm.. the bats really upset me.. using my not so high powered head lamp, i'd look up.. to see if i could at least see where the bats were coming from.. and no, i could not.. and then when they weren't flying at me.. they were making noises.. mean, unhappy bat noises.. so i could hear these bats way up in the cave.. but i couldn't see them.. yep.. this is the stuff scary movies are made this continued for almost 25 minutes.. holly yelling for/at ryan.. and the bats becoming upset.. and flying right by me.. yes.. all of it being very horrible.. holly was freaking out.. and held my hand many times.. and despite what i'd seen on the discovery channel about how bats really aren't mean, and how they don't really like to bite and suck for blood.. i wasn't buying it.. and i was wishing for some garlic.. at minute 17, i started to think that this scenario was beginning to feel like a really bad horror film.. in which five people go into a cave.. two of them get scared, and decide to stay behind, which is the most stupid move.. because they never make it out of the cave.. because the bats get them.. and i was thinking to myself... stupid stupid chara.. you know better then to stay behind..
all this time.. besides the bats flying about, other bad things were happening..
the headlamps would keep going out.. and we would freak out a little more.. and then there were spiders.. big, giant, hairy spiders.. after i realized that i would never find out where the bats where hiding when they weren't dive bombing me.. i would find a spider (not super hard to do) and keep my eye on him.. making sure he didn't move.. seriously.. i have never wanted to be home, in my wonderful bed, under the covers so bad in my life..
holly and i were really sad.. and i wanted to cry and tell holly that i loved her, because we probably weren't going to make it... but i actually had to be the strong one.. so i kept telling holly that everything was really going to be fine.. and we held hands, and i told her storeis, and we sang songs, and we kept yelling at the boys.. and swearing that after they came back to save us.. we were never speaking to them again.. and just swearing in general..
yep.. that was the worst ever.. stuck in a cave.. can't get out.. bats flying at me.. big hairy spiders, and head lamps that keep losing power..
good times..

Friday, July 15, 2005

Finding Balance

I've been reading a lot of great articles about slowing down or quitting your job altogether and working toward or within a new rhythm of life.

Its interesting stuff. Some Quotes:
We live in a world where instant gratification is not fast enough, in a world of not only speed dating, but even of speed yoga, said Mr Honoré.

Work hard and the world respects you. Work hard and you can have anything you want. Work really extra super hard and do nothing else but work and ignore your family and spend 14 hours a day at the office and make 300 grand a year that you never have time to spend, sublimate your soul to the corporate machine and enjoy a profound drinking problem and sporadic impotence and a nice 8BR mini-mansion you never spend any time in, and you and your shiny BMW 740i will get into heaven.

With all that in mind, I'm always "as busy as ever" working for a startup on the verge of making it big, and I love my job. I love doing what I do. I love working with those I work with.

So is there balance to be had? If so when?

Perhaps when I have time to find it... Or make it.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

oh what a wonderful day

today jackie and i went to sdsu to "check out the campus"... see where we'd be going to classes.. i got my very own sdsu student id.. i did stop myself from getting my very own sdsu sweatshirt.. good fun.. i'm going to school.. i'm so happy..

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

This ones for Ryan and Holly...

Seriously, does anything look better than this?

and best of all it doesn't taste like fish... at all...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Top 10 things I missed while in Thailand

10. Top sheets
9. Mexican food (real)
8. Driving on the right side of the road (and within the lines)
7. Laundry machines and dryers
6. Real "American" fruits and vegitables
5. Our Dogs, Keaton and Sadie
4. Real High speed internet
3. Speaking to others and understanding what they are saying
2. 70 degrees and no humidity
1. Our bed... oh so comfy

Its good to be home. Jet lag still sucks. But i still love Thailand and the trip we had and would love to return someday... just have to talk Chara into it and remind her of how much fun she had....whether she remembers it correctly or not...


one more thing

i feel like we talked about all the 'fun' (i use that term loosely when referring to Chang dao) we had in Thailand.. And we did have fun... But we also did some work..
on phi phi ben and i got the chance to go 'snorkeling for trash' in the bay.. ben and i picked up trash, and helped bring in more trash that scuba divers had picked up during the day.. (so much trash.. 7000 tons of trash has already been removed from the island) we did get a chance to scuba dive... which was great fun... much better than california.. such warm water.. and beautiful fish.. we saw a shark even.. kinda scared me.. but not to worry.. i didn't get eaten.. not even a little.. the next day started at 8am with ben and i working in the toolshed.. ben helped build recycle bins, and help run power to the toolshed.. i checked people in and out of the toolshed and sent volunteers to projects.. i worked the 8-10 shift.. after my shift was over, i left ben at the toolshed.. and holly and i walked around phi phi picking up broken tiles.. we needed the tiles to start to make a memorial mural.. now i do not have a creative bone in my body.. i am in no way an artist.. but holly is.. and she is amazing.. she conceptualized and drew the whole thing.. and i got to help place some tiles.. made me feel like an artist for the day..
after having a hard time finding places to help with on phuket.. helping on phi phi felt wonderful.. HI phi phi was great for allowing anyone and everyone to help out.. if you had an hour to spare, a day, or a week.. they let you come in and volunteer where need.. such a great organization..
holly starting the mural... seriously.. you should see her draw.. such talent
holly drawing out her concept
chara finding out that i did in fact get into sdsu

what a wonderful surprise..
ben and chara on the scuba boat
a family we helped in the gypsy village

the churched helped us find this gypsy village, that had lost a lot to the tsunami. this village needed help... we came over with money raised through our church, and with money that ryan and holly had raised.. we had the opportunity to come in and help meet the needs of this village.. this specific families boat was ruined by the tsunami.. they needed money to fix their boat.. the boat needed to be fixed, so that the family could go back to catching fish, which is the family business.. they need to be able to support themselves.. part of the families problem is that the father has TB, he needs to make money, so that he can buy a bus ticket, so that he can go to the hospital and get more medicine to treat his TB... we were able to help this family, and many other families in this village...
ryan using the new recycle bin

ben helped build some recycle bins that are a totally new idea to phi phi island... don't they look pretty?
me and my new friend 'yes' working at the toolshed

no one wanted the 8am shift.. so i took it.. my job was to check out tools to people, and to send volunteers out to the projects for the day..
ben the magnificent electrician

ben has mad skills when it comes to all sorts of electrical stuff.. i don't really understand it.. but HI(help international) phi phi was happy to put ben to work running power to the 'toolshed'.. ben's such a smarty when it comes to that kinda stuff.. and now the toolshed has lights and switches and outlets that all work thanks to ben..

don't tell ben...

...but i spent almost 50 bucks at boneys today... i couldn't help it.. all the veggies looked so good.. so i bought them all.. they don't have the same vegetable/fruit variety in thailand.. so today i bought avocados, apples, plums, apricots, zucchini, corn, bell peppers, lettuce, asparagus, and so much more.. so tonight for dinner a big salad.. and no rice!!!

...and i realized that ben's been dominating the blog with his thoughts lately.. so here are some of my toughts on chang dao:
no showers
scary lighting/thunder
4 am rooster wake up calls...
hiking up hill, in the mud.. all day long..

i should first point out that i don't even like camping in my nice REI tent, with my down comforter, air mattress, normal food, and showers... and i hate hiking..just not a big fan of nature in general.. so this trek was so far out of my comfort zone...

so we brought lots of anti-mosquito stuff for our chang dao trip.. the mosquito's in phuket weren't too bad.. and i had been bit a couple of times in phi phi.. but i really wanted to be prepared for chang dao.. the mosquito's in chang dao do not know that they aren't supposed to bite you once you spray the anti-mosquito stuff all over you.. i put on layer after layer, and i still got bit.. many many times.. first i put on the "all natural" lemongrass and citranilla grass spray.. that wasn't working.. then the 20% deet spray... no such luck.. then the dangerous 'only put on exposed skin, not any on any skin under clothes because the skin needs to breath.. otherwise the skin might fall off' spray..and again.. this wasn't working.. finally a combination of the three applied every 20 minutes or so seemed to slow the nasty little bugs down.. but even then i looked like i suffered some sort of pox outbreak.. and ben somehow by sheer willpower avoided being bit for the most part.. Apparently the mossies find me quite tasty.
then there was mud everywhere.. thick, and plenty yuck.. and it didn't come off.. and even if it did come off, there were no showers to take it off.. mud all over my shoes, and legs, and arms, and clothes, and everywhere.. this made me particularly unhappy because in my normal life i like to shower about three times a day.. so i was muddy and itchy, and super unhappy..

so coming from southern california i am not a big fan of storms.. we don't really have a lot of storms here.. it's rains every once and a while.. but that's about it..
so when i hear thunder and lightning i think the end of the world is near.. the first night it rained and poured, and there was thunder and lightning all night long.. like i've never heard before.. i was pretty sure the end was near, and that we weren't going to make it...
but we did.. we made it.. i have trekked through the rain forest of thailand, and survived, and i never have to do it again..
ben, ryan, and holly are trying to talk me hiking whitney this fall.. but i think i'm retiring my hiking shoes...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Our Trek through Chang Dao

Our Chang Dao trek (pictures below)

So for the last few days of our time in Thailand we took the overnight train up from Bangkok to Chang Mai where we took a taxi/truck to Chang Dao where we did some treking. We hooked up with a great company, Chang Dao Nest Treking, who set up a three day trek for us where we were to visit several hill tribe villages and hike to see some waterfalls, caves, etc. We were also set to ride elephants through the jungle and do some bamboo rafting.

The train ride up from bangkok was great. It was an overnight train and we ate and slept on the train. It was pretty comfortable and it was a great ride up there, even though we were 2 hours late when we arrive. We got there and took the taxi/truck up to Chang Dao where we met up with Stuart from Chang Dao Nest Treking. They have a mini resort up there where his wife make some awesome looking food. I want to go back just to eat there. But we were running late so they packed us some sandwiches and we headed out to to the first village. We arrived at the Lisu village and met up our our first guides Ma-ta and Elopa. Ma-ta took us through the jungle and up a river to a great waterfall. The treck was tricky. We had to cross the very slippery river many times up the trail. Chara fell in once, but Ma-ta was there to grab her. he was great. By the end our shoes were soaked with water and mud anyway. We came back to the Lisu village where we slept that night. The Lisu people were great. We stayed up and played card games that made absolutly no sense to us whatsoever and drank their moonshine.

The next day we got up and treked to the Karen village and to another cave and waterfall. We met up with two new guides for this. John, a mid twenties Chineese man, and Sam who was a 63 year old Lisu man who kicked our butts on the trails carrying more than any of us. They were awesome. They took us treking through the jungle all day (and i mean all day). We stopped and had lunch at a waterfall where John cut down a bamboo tree and made dishes,and chopsticks out of it. (see pics below). After lunch we treked the rest of the day to reach the Karen village. About an hour after lunch it began to rain. And it rained. and rained. and downpoured. and rained. The trails became rivers. And there was plenty of mud to go around. It was kind of nice as it distracted you from the hike, but it was plenty wet. We arrived at the Karen village and rested. We had a bit of dinner and played cards with Sam and John and then passed out early. we were tired. The strange things about these villages (at least to me) is that they are somewhat remote as it could take a bit of treking to reach these villages, they have modest structures for houses and such, but they all have TV's. So as we are in the jungle hearing the livestock and jungle bugs/creatures make noises i hear the THX logo in the background as the village is starting a movie in the hut next to ours. Strange...

So day 3 we have to make it back to our train that night to head back to bangkok and the airport to catch our train so today we only hike a couple hours to get to a car who takes us around a couple more villages and to our elephants and bamboo rafting. The elephants were a bit disapointing because first, chara didn't get to take one home and second it was really uncomfortable on those metal platforms you ride on, especially after hiking for a few days. So it was fun, but got a bit long. Similar for the bamboo rafting. It was fun, but after sitting on bamboo in the hot sun for an hour, your kind of done. But we enjoyed it.

After bamboo rafting we hopped back into a taxi/truck and headed back to Chang Mai to the train station. We found that we could take a shower at the train station for 5 Baht, which made us very happy. I ran around the corner and found a used clothing store where i bought some new clothes to change into as most everything i packed at this point was muddy and sweaty. We showered and got on the train for a nice ride back up. I slept great. Chara stayed up all night worried that our train would again be late and we would miss our flight.

The train was on time, we made our flight and we are now home.

The trip was great. The trek was great. Thailand was great (aside from being sick)

There are some things we miss about Thailand, and there are some things we are happy to be home for.


See pictures of all the things described above below...
The beatiful landscape of northern Thailand in Chang Dao. We hike all through the valley up and down several hills to a couple caves, waterfalls and some beatiful scenery. The trip was great, but was a lot of hard hiking.
The group outside the first cave
Ben in the first cave
Ben crawling through some very small caves to get around
Chara and Holly at the waterfall (as you can see from chara's pants she sort of fell into the water on the way up to the waterfall)
a cool snake we found on our way back from the waterfall
Chara didn't mind the hike that this part...
Ryan and group on the hike...
a beautiful sunset from the Lisu village where we stayed the first night. That night there was serious thunder and lighting through the valley. It was great because you could see the lighting through the thin bamboo buildings. Chara didn't like it so much
Ben and Chara in the cave doing some exploring
So John cuts down this bamboo tree and hikes with it for quite a while until we get to where we will eat lunch.
John carving the bamboo down to make dishes, chopsticks and later, cups...
John making dishes out of bamboo. the man is talented
mud, mud and mud. The mud was insane. it piled up 3 inches on the bottom of your shoes.
some great trees and vines in the jungle. This was the point in the hike when it started to downpour...and i mean downpour...
a cute little piggie in the Karen village
This was our sleeping arrangmenets in the Karen village (lots of bugs)
Ben and chara in our luxurious sleeping arrangments...
Chara on her elephant. Despite her hopes she did not get to bring one home. The elephant ride was fun, but after a couple days of hiking and beings sore it wasn't that much fun. It was quite unconfortable up on those things for that long and Ryan and Holly kept getting freaked out when they would tap the elephant on the foot with the training stick thing.
Ben and chara on the elephant
We did a bit of bamboo rafting. it was slow and relaxing, but after sitting on bamboo for a while it got a bit long...
Ryan making his crazy faces on the train
On the train on the way home. We were very tired and happy to be back on the train

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Jet Lag

Manged to stay up till 9pm, went to bed

woke up at 1am

went for some pancakes at Denny's at 3am

went back to bed at 4am

woke up at 12:30pm

good times...

I'll try to post the rest of our Chang Mai/Chang Dao trip later today


Friday, July 08, 2005

We are home

We are home. Safe and sound. Traveling is done for the time being. Feel free to call us now or come by and we'll bore you with thousands of pictures of our many adventures.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

On our way home...

We are safe and sound and on our way home. its Friday, and will be Friday for about 35 hours for us while we fly home. We are now in Osaka Japan and we have one more flight to Los Angles. See you all very soon.

Oh, and Chara got to ride her elephant too.
More on that later...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Restoring Paradise

So on our last day on Phi Phi island chara and i got up early and hiked to the top of Phi Phi island to a viewpoint where you could see the whole island and beach below. The "before" pictures of this island you see on postcards are amazing it the stark contrast to what it looks like now. The lush green tropical beaches are now very baren and brown, but it is still beautiful, still paradise.

(warning: philosophical rant to follow)

As we got to the top of the hill, it becan to rain and the wind began to blow. You could see the storm blowing accross the island. And then a huge rainbow appeared over the entire island. it was an amazing sight. A new metaphore i've been thinking about while hear is "restoring paradise". As we work with various organizations and people from around the world helping to rebuilt and restore this island and various villages around Thailand it began to sink in. In thinking about how God is working to restore creation it felt very good/natural to help where we could. The frustrations we've felt on this trip was when we would have trouble finding ways to help or working with people who seemed to be co-opting this effort to bring in thier own agenda.

But the view of the rainbow over the island from the top of the mountain on our last morning after working on the island with some great people was the perfect ending to a great trip. I hope to return to this place soon.

(phisophical rant over)

And the boatride back was nowhere near as bad as the last one. It wasn't 100% smooth, as i think the island doesn't want me to leave, but we made it.

We are now off to Chang Mai for the last few days of our trip to trek around for a few days. We won't have internet up there, so no more from us until we get back on Friday.

Lots of great pictures to come when we get home

A Beautiful rainbow over Phi Phi Don
Ben and Chara atop Phi Phi Viewpoint

Chara drove today...

we are still alive...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pictures from Phi Phi

Last day in Koh Phi Phi

Had a great time working and playing

wish we could stay longer

we will be back here someday

here are some pictures

Ben and Chara on Phi Phi Island
Carlitos Bar
Great sunset
Fire Dancers

Friday, July 01, 2005

great news for a great day

Great news first, Chara is the smartest person ever and got accepted into San Diego States nursing program. So its official... she's going... she'll be a super smart nurse in no time

Onto the great day part

Fridays are the Muslim sabbath so there is no work on fridays. So we set out for a bit of scuba around the Phi Phi islands today. The trip was great. The boat was great. The dive master was great. All in all it was great. I'll try to see if i can get some video from it uploaded to our blog later, but it may not happen until after we return as we are very busy in Phi Phi for hte next two days and then off to Chang Mai for the following 4 days and then we are home.

so thats all from us.


Hooray for Chara....