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chinese cherry
It's been ages since I made an entry, mostly because I've been using facebook like a mini LJ. The things that I would normally make entries about here, I've been just been condensing and dumping there mostly because of sloth. That said, the one advantage of LJ over facebook is that at least there's a record here. Everything on facebook just vanishes like a fart in the wind. I can't even find status updates I made among the thousand of inane comments and links and whatever else I'm spewing out daily. So that's why I'm back here. I wanted to make a note of something and save it for posterity.

My Chinese name is: 吉強

Now, that might not seem very interesting as something I'd want to save. After all, even an imbecile knows their own name by the time their out of diapers. The difference here is while I've known my whole chinese name since I was a kid, I've never actually found the characters online before. True, I've never searched for it either and it's sort of amazing I even stumbled over it. I have no clue how to use a Chinese input keyboard and no comprehension of how to translate Chinese phonetics into an English alphabet. So it's sort of amazing I just happened to stumble over the words online.

basically means lucky or good or blessed according to wikipedia and other sources while means strength or powerful.

I even searched around and found what my name would be in Japanese with those characters, though it's a little iffy with Japanese because everything has multiple ways of being pronounced. Anyway, one permutation would be Kichi Tsuyoshi.

It's not like any of this will ever really come in useful somewhere, but it's kinda spiffy and I figured I'd might as well jot it down for future reference.

Plague

domo costume
If there's one thing you can say about kids, it's that they are little plague rats. I used to go without colds for years at a time, mostly because I don't tend to associate with that many people to begin with and those I do, aren't usually covered in snot and germs. I caught my last cold right after Maddie's birthday party last year and it looks like the tradition is continuing this year. For the past three days I've been coughing, sneezing, and dripping like a faucet out of nose. My throat is sore, my head is stuffy, and my brain isn't working all that well. The latter explains why I never got around to posting any pictures from Shelley's engagement dinner. I'm not sure my grey matter could handle the workload. I've spent most of the past few days sleeping like a narcoleptic, dozing off at random times for random intervals.

On the plus side, barely eating anything for 2 and a half days has had a salubrious effect on the diet front. I can proudly announce that my belly has reached the jiggly phase. I first noticed this the last time I lost a ton of weight and it basically means a good chunk of the fat has gone away, enough so that there's a surfeit of skin which tends to jiggle more. It's kinda like what would happen to a bean bag if you poured out some of the insides. I have no idea what the equivalent poundage loss would be having not weighed myself in years, but it's probably a good sign.

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Woohoo! Happy day!

domo costume
I hereby declare this to be a day of celebration which will henceforth be known as Chelle is a wonderful person especially compared to the rest of you useless wankers Day.

A few days ago Chelle dropped me a message and let me know she had sent me something in the mail. I of course thought spiffy and awaited its coming with great eagerness. Well, it arrived and it kicks ass. Behold it in all its glory.

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You're jealous, right? I know. Who wouldn't be. I can't think of any person who wouldn't want a couple sets of Domo playing cards. And it's in a keepsake tin no less! The only downside is I almost don't want to open it so I can preserve it in its pristine state. Who knows, once day this set of domo playing cards may become some valuable relic in an age yet to come, helping future archeologists or aliens to better understand our culture and civilization. Hell, I'd pay a bar of gold-pressed latinum for it.

Things that make you go hmmmm

domo costume
I'm here at the computer munching sunflower seeds. I don't mind sunflower seeds but I don't usually bother with the shelled ones because it's a massive pain in the ass. The thing is, my mom has become hooked on them and there are sunflower seeds everywhere. So I decided to give it a whirl and have been munching my way through a handful when a thought occurred to me...you know how they say a panda spends something like 12 hours a day eating? Well, that's mostly because bamboo is a shitty food when it comes to calories and nutrition. It's practically the equivalent of being forced to eat nothing but rice crackers, though even that would probably be a caloric feast in comparison.

So I kept thinking and started wondering what if a person could only eat sunflower seeds? Those are far more nutritionally rich than bamboo but it takes some time to extract them from their shells. It's kinda like how you see gorillas fishing for termites with twigs. How much time would the average person have to spend eating if all they could eat were sunflower seeds in the shell? Obviously we're not talking a fully balanced diet here and God only knows what sort of sicknesses you'd come down with eating nothing but sunflower seeds, but just to meet your caloric needs.

Most stupid ideas you entertain for a short bit but then toss away. For some reason I got it into my head to actually try this. I went downstairs and started rummaging for a measuring device. I was hoping for a 1/4 cup or maybe even a tablespoon, but all I could find was a 1 cup measuring container.

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So I scooped up a cup of sunflower seeds and retreated back upstairs to count them.


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I counted out the whole lot into another container and it was hardly a fun time. In case you were curious, there were 430 sunflower seeds in a cup. There were also 5.75 (Yes there was a half and a half of a half in there) already shelled seeds in there. If we add it in and do some rounding, we get 436 sunflower seeds per cup.

Now, according to online sources, a cup of sunflower seeds have 268 calories. This means that each seed has a caloric value of .62kcal. Then it was back to the internet to figure out how many calories the average person consumes in a day. This was easy enough and revealed the following information:

Men in the United States generally consume between 2,000 and 2,800 calories a day. This figure, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, changes dramatically depending on your age. Men age 20 to 39 consume 2,800 calories a day. Men over 60 consume 2,000 calories. The average figure for all men is 2,475 calories

Women have a smaller average range of calorie intake than men. The smallest average requirement for women age over 60 is 1,500, whereas women between 18 and 59 usually consume 2,000 calories a day. The overall average daily intake for U.S. women 1,888 calories.

So I guess by this, since I am a 36 year old male, I should be downing 2,800 calories a day. In this little experiment it would mean that I would need approximately 4,516 sunflower seeds to meet my daily caloric requirements. First of all that sounds like a literal fuckton worth of seeds. I'm starting to feel sorry for those damn pandas.

Next, I need to find out just how many sunflower seeds I can shell and consume over a period of time. So I give it a whirl, testing myself a few times over the course of a minute. I wasn't racing but was methodical in grabbing, shelling, consuming, and then repeating the procedure. My results showed that on average, I could shell and eat 11 sunflower seeds a minute. I might have been faster if I had used both hands, but I only have one mouth so there's still a limiting factor.

At 11 seeds a minute, it would take me roughly 410.5 minutes, or 6.8 hours to consume the 4,516 nuts I would need to maintain a normal caloric intake. Mind you, this would be 6.8 hours of doing absolutely nothing else but concentrating on shelling and eating. My seed of consumption while dicking around on the internet probably falls to 2-3 seeds a minute or so.

So there you have it. If you were ever interested in life's big questions, like how many sunflower seeds are in a cup (an answer I couldn't freaking find an authoritative answer on from google) the answer is 436. And if you ate nothing but sunflower seeds, you would have to eat for 6.8 hours a day. Women would apparently having an easier time of it needing only 4.6 hours, but they'd probably just waste the extra on makeup or their hair or whatever it is that women do.


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If I'm going to meet my quota for the day, this pile is going to have to get a lot bigger.

It's the size that counts

domo costume
My 27" LED monitor finally arrived today from Bestbuy and I was ecstatic. It was huge, much bigger than I expected. You have to realize though the last computer monitor I had was probably only 15" and my current laptop is bigger than that. The moment I plugged it in the monitor lit up with a blinding radiance that seared itself into my brain exactly like what happens when you stare at the sun during an eclipse. It was blinding. I was able to find the brightness toggle and started to reduce it by degrees but hit '0' with the screen still being brighter than I would have preferred. Now when I leave the computer, it's like the entire world has dimmed.

The other issue is that the screen seems to be making me motion sick. I hadn't exactly expected that but I'm hoping it's something I'll adjust to with some time. The fact is the monitor is just too freaking big. I'm only a couple feet away from it tops which means that I can't help but feel its beaming light and information directly into my brain. Maybe I'll get used to this in time but I'm starting to think that I really should have gone with a 24" screen or maybe even a little smaller. I think it's just one of those instances where you step out of the technology market for, say, 10 years or so and the catch-up whiplash catches you unawares. I mean, this monitor is also light as a feather compared to some of the oldschool monstrosities I remember that could kill a person if you dropped it on them from the top of a ladder.

I'm really hoping I get used to this, because I have no other use for a freaking 27" monitor.

Worst birthday party EVER

domo costume
So yes, it's true that I wasn't really looking forward to Maddie's birthday party. In fact, I was far more entranced with the idea of gorging on pizza and cake than any other part of the festivities. It turns out, however, that even those low expectations went unmet and the entire day was a horror-filled nightmare.

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Piiiiiiizzzzza! Caaaaaaaake!

domo costume
Tomorrow is Maddie's birthday party. Her actual birthday isn't until the 7th but we can't hold it next Saturday because of Shelley's engagement celebration dinner. Just like what they had for Connie (though I missed it being in Chicago at the time), it'll be a full blown Chinese banquet with all the assorted rigamarole. Overall, I'm not a big fan of these sort of events and even less so when I have to make nice with strangers. Still, if I try to skip out I'll just have my mom and family harping at me so there's no real choice in the matter.

As for Maddie's birthday, it's going to be at the same place as last year. That playplace/gym with all the mats and ball pits and inflatable houses and rope swings, etc. It's the same place last year where I thought it would be sort of funny to jump into the giant foam pit and then almost couldn't get myself out. It took me around 10 minutes of huffing and puffing along with a lot more brain power than you might think necessary to finally extricate myself. About the only thing that kept me going was the mortification of hearing over the loudspeaker 'Code 10: We have another fat guy stuck in the foam pit. All staff converge with a winch and rope.' It's fun and easy for kids to play in that place but they're light and practically bounce off the foam. For someone my weight, it's like a fucking death trap as you sink right to the bottom of 6 foot pit. You can't easily move closer to the edge because of all the freaking foam blocks compressing in front of you and you can't get any leverage because all the foam under you just squishes. All I know is that this year, I'm staying the fuck away from that pit. Most likely....maybe....feh, maybe I should just have them have a rescue team on standby.

Anyway, there's going to be even more rugrats this year as Connie has upped the guest list to 30. I guess that's what happens when you send your kids to a dozen different activities a week. You're probably obligated to start inviting everyone. As far as I'm concerned, and it may be sort of jerky to say it, the only thing I'm really looking forward to about this party is the pizza and cake. I've been doing this no carb diet thing and it's starting to drive me sort of insane. The ability to break the diet for a day because of a birthday is an idea I'm clinging to and I am planning to devour pizza like cookie monster hits cookies. I can picture it already....gah, I think I'm drooling.

As for a birthday present, I've been planning for Maddie's birthday for months now. It started with that Hello Kitty recorder I bought while with Karen at Mitsuwa, but I've added more and more Hello Kitty items over the past couple of months. I now have a plethora of items and I'm going to split it between her birthday and christmas. You can see the entire pile of crap below. Hello kitty necklace, watch, doll, paint your own bank, bag, etc.

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While I'm at it, I might as well show what I've gotten for the other kids for Christmas. Will is getting an ant farm and a Lightning McQueen pop tent. I've already ordered the ants and checked the box to have them sent out right before Christmas. I hope the timing works out because I don't know how long the ants can survive in whatever they'll be shipped in. The ant farm itself looks pretty cool with the blue gel and the light up feature. I've always wanted an ant farm and never had one as a kid so just like every other thing I've ever bought Will, I'm really buying it vicariously for the 5 year old in me.

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As for Morgan, she loves Mickey Mouse, or as she calls him 'kiki'. Her favorite toy is the dancing Mickey that came out a few years ago. Knowing that, I picked up the two followup dolls in the whole dancing Mickey series that followed. I'm not sure about Gangsta Mickey, and it's not like she'll know the difference but it sort of offends my sensibilities. The other is a fleece Domokun blanket I got from ThinkGeek. This is another one of those I can't buy it for myself so I'll make a present of it gifts. It'd just go to waste sitting around here and I think she'll really enjoy it with the big domo face right on it.

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And so that's that. It's around T minus 13 hours until pizza and I can't wait.

Trick or Treat

domo costume
So I never did get around to posting the photos of Halloween. As you may or may not recall, Halloween was actually bumped this year by official decree. I'd never actually heard of any such thing before but Connie tells me the same thing had happened the year before for some parts of Jersey. The hurricane made Halloween untenable for most towns and so they moved it to the following Monday instead. Since I had nothing better to do and I was interested in seeing the kids in their Halloween getups, I popped over to Connie and Jeff's.

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The carved pumpkins looked a little bit worse for wear. The bottom one especially but I'm not sure if it was gnawed by the local wildlife or if it was always a clusterfrak from the start. I'm told each of the kids had their own pumpkin and I dunno if they were actually allowed to participate in the design. That could explain the Piccaso-like nature of the end result.

You can see Morgan standing at the door waiting for me to come inside.


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So here are Maddie and Will's halloween costumes. Connie actually made Maddie's costume from scratch, which I find pretty unbelievable. It's always amazing to me that she'll take the time out to do something like that when it would just be easier to buy something. At the least I figured she must've snagged a pattern or something but I'm told she did it freehand, which seems extra nuts. Martha Stewart Power, ACTIVATE! Will is dressed up as a Power Ranger, which is one of his favorite cartoons.

Sadly, I didn't get to see Morgan in her chicken outfit. She took her nap late that day so was sleeping when we ended up leaving for the Halloween celebration downtown.


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I also didn't wear my halfassed costume since I left my hobbit feet in the other car by accident. I did find this sitting though I had no idea who it was supposed to be a mask of. I don't recall now but I think it's some pop star. All I know is that Maddie told me her name but in one ear and out the other. The end result does look more than a little freakish given her head is gigantic.


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And this was the Halloween celebration. They apparently do this every year and all the businesses will pass out candy and other things. On one hand I think this sort of thing is pretty spiffy for kids, especially the younger ones. Everything is all in one place and you don't have to take them all over town. For the older kids, it just doesn't feel right. Part of the fun of Halloween when I was a kid was roving the streets in giant mobs of kids all seeking candy, fun, and mischief. Usually in that order. You can't help but feel this sort of orderly sanitized Halloween robs something from the holiday.


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As you can see, the crowds were pretty huge with lotsa people in costumes. It's too bad that Morgan missed out since I think she would have been really excited by it all. Well, excited or freaked out, but either way it would have made an impression. I walked with Maddie and Will up one side of the main street and down the other, stopping for them to collect their loot at each stop.

It was kinda amazing that almost every storefront had someone there to hand out candy. You have to consider the fact that at this point, most of the businesses still didn't have power so they weren't actually open. This was sadly made apparent to Connie when she tried to hit up the local coffee joint and found there was none to be had. That said, almost all the stores opened just to participate in the Halloween day festival and pass out candy. That says something about the community IMO.


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It actually didn't take all that long to make our way up and down the street, but since Connie knew many of the other parents there, there were impromptu meet and greets. The kids spent most of their time either adding to their candy collection or digging around in their buckets to figure out what they had managed to loot.


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I snickered to myself when I saw these two kids in their Penn State costumes. This might not have been the best idea given some of the recent events there. Not that I'm sure Sandusky wouldn't have loved the costumes.


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Here's Will getting some candy from Waldo. This was one of the early stops and he was wearing mittens that his mom had given him. This also meant that he could barely pick anything up with them. He'd spend a good minute at each store trying to get a piece of candy into his bucket. It was like watching someone try to eat with chopsticks for the first time. Eventually we just yanked them off and things went smoother.


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Even some of the dogs had costumes. I saw this and another dog dressed up as a hotdog.


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I really liked this costume. Wasn't able to snap a picture of the front though. I wasn't too diligent about grabbing pictures in general. I figured it might set off an amber alert if some strange guy was following kids around snapping pictures of them so I tried to keep it on the down low.


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This was also a favorite. It's always spiffy to see some people go all out in making a costume. I might not be very craft'y myself but I always like to see what other people have managed to put together.


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So by the end, both Will and Maddie managed to end up with a balloon each and a bucket full of loot. It took me a good while to get Will a balloon since the kids were mobbing the place handing them out and I had to use my superior height and reach to snag one.


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And here's Will with all of his vast treasure spread out before him. For some reason, he fixated on a box of pretzel sticks as the most valuable item. When Connie told him he could pick any one thing to eat, he immediately dumped everything out and went searching for it.

BTW, take a look at that sword of his. I bought him that a couple months ago and when I first saw it earlier in the day I was shocked. I didn't exactly recognize it because with the patterns on the side it looked like a kris blade, with its wavy edge.



It took me a bit to realize that he had simply bitten chunks out of the damn thing. Not that it doesn't look kinda cool the way it is now, but it always amazes me how these kids will just wreck and destroy their own toys. Maybe there is something to the idea that if you have too much of something you'll never learn to value it. I would have been overjoyed as a kid to have the smallest fraction of what Will and Maddie take for granted now.


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Oh, and here's one of Maddie's recent artistic endeavors. I dunno why but all of her drawings always give me the willies.

Gobble Gobble

books charlotte's web terrific
Thanksgiving for the past few years has been held at my sister Connie's house. Before then it had been at my grandmother's place and was a lot more informal. Mostly because back then it was just our extended family. There was usually a turkey and maybe a couple of the traditional sides, but there would also be a variety of Chinese dishes and it would just all be served as a hodge podge. After Connie took over, Thanksgiving has been more formal in a way. Well, you could also make the argument that it's the least formal Thanksgiving ever. Instead of the old melding of East and West we have concentrated forms of each, but separated into two rooms. It's probably largely because the holiday doesn't just include our family now but Connie's Husband Jeff's family.

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In the dining room, we have a very traditional western thanksgiving dinner. There's turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and gravy and green beans and whatever else should be there.

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Two rooms away, we have Chinese hot pot with all the fixings. There's sliced beef and shrimp and mushrooms of all sorts as well as cabbage and both a vegetarian and meat broth to cook it all in.

The idea is that people are supposed to move back and forth from the two setups and partake of both meals but in generally, it's like old school segregation. The only difference is that for the younger sect there is some mixing as I usually stay completely in the turkey realm and my cousins will hit both. For the people of my parent's generation though be they Anglo or Chinese, you basically just stay more or less in your camp. It's kinda disturbing in a way but it's just what everyone is happiest with. The language barrier sometimes makes social mixing sort of awkward I think and it's just easier this way. Everyone has their home base and it's like the kitchen becomes the neutral mixing ground.

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Morgan and Maddie waiting for dinner. They got to sit at the counter in the kitchen.

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Here's Will going to town on his food. No hot pot for these guys. Just straight forward western turkey and fixin's. You can see that Will's plate has no turkey. He's not a big meat eater and is instead a carb junkie. Maddie on the otherhand is all about being a carnivore. It's funny that way since you can serve them a complete meal and if they finish it, it'll be by eating completely different parts of it.

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Maddie gets fussy about getting her picture taken nowadays. It's a blurry shot and I normally would have pitched it but I thought she looked sorta spiffy in it. It's just pure petulance.

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Morgan's still a very good girl about her food. She eats more or less whatever you put in front of her and devours it with gusto.

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Of course, her older brother and sister were exactly like that at her age and they turned into ridiculously picky eaters. It doesn't help that my mom spoils the hell out of them when it comes to food. They will bitch and complain and refuse to eat something if it has a color they don't care for. Like Maddie usually doesn't want to eat anything with green in it, assuming it signifies a vegetable and Will doesn't want anything with red. My suggestion when my mom informed me of this was to tell them to eat it or they get nothing and eventually they'll hungry enough to eat anything. When she refused to do that I came up with a backup plan of just buying some food coloring and making everything green until they eat it or starve to death. That was also a no go.

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Here's Will in his little Indian feather hat he made in school. That little pain in the ass refused to wear the turkey hat I had gotten. I bought it mostly thinking he'd like it but he wanted to wear his feather instead. BTW, I was surprised they even still make those in school with all the PC crap out there. Wouldn't this somehow be offensive to all the poor Indians out there blah blah blah social conscience blah blah sensitivity blah blah?

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Wooo, look. Someone got a turkey cookie. Frankly, I wouldn't have minded a turkey cookie of my own, but I wasn't offered any. Hardly seems fair since unlike some people, I ate all of my dinner.

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Maddie got one too. Still no cookie for me.

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Maddie was willing to wear the turkey hat so it wasn't a complete loss. Kids. I just don't understand the little buggers sometimes. I would have been overjoyed to get a turkey hat as a kid.

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Maddie and her aunt Leigh. I'm told that they had not planned to come dressed alike. Man, were they steamed to show up at the party and find someone else wearing the exact same shirt. I suggested they make this a tradition. Leigh should have to call right before next Thanksgiving and find out what Maddie is wearing so they can coordinate their outfits.

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A little turkey chocolate candy. I didn't get this one either I'm afraid. My sister passed one to my grandmother and I was able to snap a picture of it. I never get any of the good stuff.

So other than that, I had also brought along a couple games to show my aunt and uncle. We did a few rounds of Reiner Knizia's Poison, a oldie but a goodie. They had never played it before but seemed to enjoy it. I've been pulling a lot of old games out of my closet and passing them on when they seem to enjoy a playthrough. God knows I'm not going to get much use out of most of these games and they'll just sit and rot. It's nice to know someone will enjoy them.

And that was pretty much Thanksgiving. Shelley wasn't there this year having gone with her fiance and his family to the Caribbean. This meant that Connie also lost her Black Friday shopping buddy and was forced to trudge off the the sales on her own. Oh well. Que sera, sera.

The Reveal

stargate whacko
If you had answered, Novelty Turkey Hat, you would have been correct.



I bought it earlier this week while wandering a Party City. I was looking for something interesting the kids would enjoy playing with or maybe a fun centerpiece for the. Nothing really seemed fitting but I saw this hat and decided to grab it. I think the kids will find it funny and want to run around with it if nothing else. I did get a lot of funny looks wearing it around the parking lot though.

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henwy
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight
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