Sunday, July 26, 2015

Davis trip report

"Oh man, my ass is going to be on fire tomorrow." -- me at an Indian restaurant with spicy food

The weekend was pretty fun as my family went to Davis and several other places. Though we just came back from another trip last month, Dad had several thousand Hyatt Gold Passport points that were about to expire. I certainly can't complain!

Day 1

The first leg of the trip was a stop at the Petaluma Marina. Because it was almost noon when we arrived, the three of us ate lunch in the car before taking a look around. There wasn't much other than some offices and a handful of shops, but we still went for a walk and took some pictures.

The main reason for the trip was to go to Bodega Bay and see the locations where The Birds was filmed. This is something we had wanted to do for a while. Despite the relatively short distance, the drive to Bodega Bay took longer than expected due to traffic. Our previous visit here was around 20 years ago. Can you believe how fast time flies?

This was followed by dinner at an Indian restaurant in Vacaville. The food was super spicy but otherwise delicious. Dad checked into the hotel before taking us to the UC Davis campus for an evening stroll. The school is famous for its arboretum, but we decided to come back the next day as it was getting late.

Day 2

The morning started with a tasty breakfast at the hotel, after which we returned to the UC Davis. The arboretum was beautiful and had all kinds of plants and wildlife. The lack of crowds made it a pleasant experience.

The next destination was the Budweiser factory in Fairfield. The funny thing is that we passed it many times but never thought to go in. The tour was informative and included beer samples. This was definitely the best part of the trip. The plan was to visit the Jelly Belly factory as well, but we changed our minds after finding out there are no tours on weekends.

The final stop was WinCo Foods for groceries. I got a few snacks while my mother bought some soy milk and flour. Mom didn't want the soy milk to go bad in the heat and suggested not staying out too late. The smooth traffic made the drive home shorter than expected.


On the whole, the trip was quite enjoyable. The best part was the Budweiser factory tour, although the UC Davis Arboretum comes a close second. I didn't know the campus could be such a nice place. Feel free to look at the pictures from our vacation.

In other news...

Happy one-year anniversary to my cousin Connie and her husband Luc!

Currently listening to: "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

Saturday, July 18, 2015

a train trip to Sacramento

"Goodbye, Mr. Doge!" -- one of the girls to me

Summer has been great as we went to Sacramento with the China-America Shanghai Friendship Association. Our family friend Ching-Lin had invited us on a day trip organized by the club. It was lots of fun as there were around 30 other families!

The day began with a drive to Fremont station. This was a new experience as we had never been on Amtrak before. Though we were scheduled to take the 8:20 train, the event organizer had asked us to arrive 40 minutes earlier. I was pretty sleepy as we had to get up no later than 6:30 a.m. On the bright side, there was plenty of time to get acquainted with others.

Lots of people got on the train at various stops. There were so many of us that we took up nearly an entire car. Ching-Lin acted as a tour guide during the two-ride ride. His knowledge of the history of California was impressive.

The train arrived in Sacramento just before noon. We split into two groups and rode the bus to the California State Capitol Museum. The surrounding Capitol Park was the perfect place for a picnic lunch. This was followed by a guided tour of the Capitol. The tour was informative and enjoyable. I had no idea the Capitol was such a fascinating place.

Just two blocks away was Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park - the site of the former governor's home. At first we thought it was closed as the front doors were locked. However, someone found a second entrance just as we were about to leave. The guides were awesome and more than happy to accommodate our schedule. The mansion was beautiful and well-preserved. It's a shame photography wasn't allowed inside.

The final stop was Old Sacramento. Our families took a stroll to the Tower Bridge and browsed local shops. This was pretty fun even though it was extremely hot outside. On the other hand, there was a small café with ice cream. I enjoyed a double scoop before we headed back to the Amtrak station.

The ride back to Fremont was uneventful, although it was hard to bid farewell to our new friends. The day concluded with dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant in Sunnyvale. The tapas were delicious, but the fish wasn't too fresh and the water tasted terrible. I can't say this was a stellar dining experience.

The trip had its funny moments. There was a picture of a Shiba Inu in a window at the California State Capitol. One of the girls decided to call me "Mr. Doge" after I made a reference to the meme. I'm sure we got some strange looks. The other thing is that several moms asked me whether I was still in college. That definitely made me feel young again. ^_^

The only downside is that there were few people my age. The other young people in our group were mostly high school students. I guess twenty-somethings don't want anything to do with their parents. The day trip was nonetheless a major highlight of the summer. I hope similar events are being planned for the future. In the meantime, you can go here for the pictures.

Currently listening to: "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone

Sunday, July 5, 2015

4th of July long weekend report

I had an awesome 4th of July weekend even though the weather was pretty hot most of the time.


It was an awkward morning as we made an unnecessary trip to the office. I had gotten the schedule wrong and thought we were getting Monday off instead. Only when I noticed the office was empty did I realize my mistake. This could all have been avoided had I checked my work calendar. *facepalm*

The rest of the day was uneventful, although we walked to our family friend Sheila's house in the evening to give her some of our lemons. She and Jeff invited us in for ice cream and tea. That was very sweet of them. All of us had such a good time talking that it was well past 10 p.m. when we got home!


Mom had hoped to visit Bodega Bay as we hadn't been there in a while. She later suggested going to Santa Cruz instead after seeing the temperatures were still high. However, the forecasts showed a lot of traffic along the route, probably because everyone else had the same idea. In the end, my family went hiking in Los Altos Hills.

We later stopped at Nob Hill Foods for ice cream before going on an evening stroll around our neighborhood. There were several local fireworks displays this year, some of which were visible from our house. I'm glad we didn't have to go anywhere to see them.


It was so hot outside that we decided to stay home. On the other hand, the three of us watched Dog Day Afternoon for Henry's movie club. I also saw Riddick and Guardians of the Galaxy for fun. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the funniest movies ever. I'd love to see a sequel.

Oh yeah, and the U.S. won the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. I can't think of a better way to end the 4th of July weekend.

Currently watching: Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, July 2, 2015

new iPhone 6 Plus!

So we each got an iPhone 6 Plus as part of an updated contract with Verizon. From my initial impressions, the phone is really nice. It's faster than the iPhone 4s and has a noticeably longer battery life. The larger screen also makes it easier to use. I can't complain about the 128 GB of storage either. The only downside is the bulky size will take time to get used to.

However, there are two annoying issues. The first is that I'm having a hard time importing my custom ringtones. They simply won't appear even though iTunes shows the files are there. I've tried several different solutions and rebooted the phone multiple times, all to no avail. This went on for about two hours, after which I eventually gave up. I don't understand why Apple has to make what should be a simple task so complicated.

The other thing is that I lost two months of progress in Angry Birds Epic after syncing my files. I used to play the game on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s before switching to the Kindle Fire HDX due to iOS issues. The iOS version would frequently lag and eventually crash. I figured the app might work better on the iPhone 6 Plus, but when I copied the data over, the save file from the iPhone 4s somehow overwrote the one in the cloud. Shit happens.

I know it's only a game but am still a little pissed off about losing hours of work and my hard-earned items. This shouldn't happen in a well-designed game. At any rate, I've contacted Rovio in hopes that there's something they can do. *crosses fingers*

July 3 update: Rovio managed to restore my Angry Birds Epic save file. Their customer support is top-notch. :-)

Currently playing: Angry Birds Epic