Friday, January 9, 2009

What's with all this white stuff outside?

VDQEHSJBPASIGQI5QANNW5ZKL34C7MVL Out of nowhere a snowstorm hit my area and has stuck around a lot longer than it was forecasted to. I love snow even though it makes driving more dangerous and my electricity bill higher.

I want it to snow all night and into the next morning but it will probably stop soon. Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be partly cloudy and much warmer. If the snow actually starts to stick more to the ground, I might just get another snow day out of it. Here's keeping my fingers crossed.

And in unrelated news, I am bummed out I accidentally deleted my Sea World pictures I took when I was back home. I took some really cool pictures of dolphins and killer whales in mid-air jumps, but now all I have are the memories in my mind. When I was doing my yearly OS clean installation I figured I backed up every thing onto my new 1TB external drive. I guess I was wrong and I saved the folder containing all my Sea World pictures after I backed up onto my external drive. I tried recovering it off my memory card but I already wrote over it one time with my zoo pictures. Oh well, I guess I should be more careful next time and make sure I have redundant copies before I press that delete from camera button.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas in San Diego

 1171379829882 Its been well over a year since I last met any of my friends or family in person so I've been well overdue for a visit at my hometown San Diego.

I can never sleep on flights and the long 11 hour flight between Japan and LAX is no exception. I arrived in San Diego early in the morning on the 20th dehydrated and sleep deprived yet relieved to finally see my home country once more.

I was greeted by my mom about 10 minutes after I exited the arrival area. She didn't recognize me at all, which didn't help my mood much. I was still relieved and happy my mom came to pick me up. She picked me up in a car she rented for the day just to get me from LAX.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         As we were driving out of the parking lot, I noticed a really strange grinding sound coming from the front passenger tire so I got out to inspect it. I wasn't expect much more than a flat tire or a low tire but what I got instead was a completely damaged wheel and an equally bald tire on it. Apparently the car had a damaged allow wheel when she took it out. It must have started out as a hairline fracture or appeared as a scratch to the person who checked it out at the station she picked it up from but by the time she got it up to lax it was completely warped and unusable. I don't even know how she made it up to the airport without a blowout. All I saw was steel from the tire with barely any rubber holding it together. What a miracle.

So the first thing I ended up doing when I landed in America was changing a tire! I figured changing the tire would be faster than waiting for a tow truck to change it for us. It definitely wasn't something I was expecting to do but it also wasn't the last car repair I'd be doing over my short vacation in San Diego.

KPDN5QRAVL22WBBRVP4DLBN2FKMGVBTD Of the 10 days I spent in San Diego, I only used about 8 days to their fullest due to having pretty bad jet lag the first few days. My sister and her husband were gracious enough to lend me their car for the time I was there and I made good use of it. I picked up manual transmission once I turned the ignition and let go of the clutch. I thought I would have lost my touch after driving a clown car in Japan for so long. So driving around town wasn't so hard. Every thing moves so much faster in America. I average about 35-50mph in Japan so the freeway was the biggest refresher course I had.

I spent the first few days hanging out with my friends in Coronado and San Diego. During those days I found some weird problem with my sister's car. It would have trouble starting. It wasn't getting any juice even though the battery and starter were fine. I ended up taking it to my Uncle Harold's to diagnose it and to try to fix it. It was an obvious and easy fix. I found the wire going from the engine to the starter had come loose due to a weak clamp, so I just plugged it back in and it fired up somewhat reliably. It was only one of its problems though. The car is kind of on its last leg even though its not that old so I figured I was fortunate enough to get the car to run while I was there. I did later find out that the clutch was a little funky and would probably be a big reason why the car would have trouble starting. It was kind of fun to tinker with the car but it also sucked time way from my time in San Diego, plus it always made me worry it wouldn't start up again. I'm glad I got it to start so many times.

Christmas in San Diego 2008-12-25 010Enough about all the auto work I did. I had a great Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve and day. We got to catch up on a year's worth of stuff I missed and I got to tell them about my school and life in Japan. The best thing I got out of the parties was the delicious food. I really did miss honey ham and real mashed potatoes! I also got some nice presents from my family like a collared shirt from my Uncle Harold and a fair amount of cash from my Uncle Pat along with a ton of gifts from my mom.

My girlfriend, Yuko, arrived on Christmas day and was able to meet most of my family during our Christmas lunch party. I think she was pretty well received by the family but maybe she was a little overwhelmed my all the people speaking English at full speed there. I know how she felt, I feel it every day I am in Japan. :)

Old Town and San Diego Zoo 2008-12-30 001 For the last remaining days in San Diego, Yuko and me spent a lot of our time shopping and visiting local tourists spots like Fashion/Mission Valley, Old Town, Hotel Del, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. If I planned things out I might have been able to show her more. Maybe next time I'll be able to figure out a better plan than figuring it out as I went.

Old Town and San Diego Zoo 2008-12-30 051 Old Town and San Diego Zoo 2008-12-30 089

Old Town and San Diego Zoo 2008-12-30 105 Hotel Del Coronado 12-2008 2008-12-28 008

Hotel Del Coronado 12-2008 2008-12-28 015

Matt and Kherri's Christmas Party 2008 2008-12-27 011 On the day after Christmas I got to see most of my friends for an awesome Christmas dinner at my friend Matt's house. I managed to get Tony, Lorenzo, Bri, Scott, Heinrich, Kherri, and Matt to all meet up at the same place which is a miracle in its self. Once we were all together we got to eat an awesome dinner. My long time friend Kherri made his world famous macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and honey ham dinner. It was like Christmas dinner round two and just as tasty.

Matt and Kherri's Christmas Party 2008 2008-12-27 023

Matt and Kherri's Christmas Party 2008 2008-12-27 029

Matt and Kherri's Christmas Party 2008 2008-12-27 033

Matt and Kherri's Christmas Party 2008 2008-12-27 028 

I got to introduce my girlfriend Yuko  to all my friends and they all seemed to be happy to meet her. Yuko also got along really well with every body to my relief even if most of them had interests in games or anime related things she's not to crazy about. After eating our delicious day after Christmas dinner we all opened presents. I think every body was pleased with what they got and I was as equally pleased to see them open their presents. We got to talk and catch up a little bit over dinner and presents. I wish that night was longer but I had plans the next day and had to leave much earlier than I wanted. Hopefully I can meet all my friends soon.

I also got to meet a good friend of mine Enoch and his wife Sanae. They spent a day with us driving us all over San Diego. I had a great time with you guys but I totally forgot to take a picture of us together! Doh!

Christmas in San Diego 2008-12-25 018 Finally, the coolest thing about my visit would have to be seeing my nephew Elijah. I am not crazy about babies and generally feel they look like aliens with their huge eyes, peanut shaped heads, and wet noses and leaky mouths. Elijah was different though and ended up being a well behaved boy for me. I even got to hold him a few times and I think I actually enjoyed it too. Getting some pictures with my sister Faye, Matt, and their son was a nice thing. I even got a beautiful framed picture of Elijah from Faye and Matt for my Christmas present!

Christmas in San Diego 2008-12-25 023

So that's about all that happened during my short visit home. I'd like to visit again soon but it really comes down to how well I can save my money again and the timing of my flight out. Plane tickets change value like stocks in the current US stock market, that I don't know if I will see a good price again for a long while. I'd like to come back for part of the summer but I'll most likely just come back next Christmas. Its just a better time to see family all at once and most people I know are off work over that time.