Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dinner at Daily Grill

The healthy way of eating is to have the best food in breakfast, sufficient food for lunch, and just enough for dinner.

Every Friday, after Kenneth's violin class, we usually head to Chinatown for dinner. Last Friday, my wife wanted to buy some cosmetic products in Galleria Mall so we deicded to dine there. My wife suggested Daily Grill for dinner as she has a $15 coupon and tried it there before. I have never been to that restaurant so i said lets try out.
The restaurant is located at the second floor in Galleria Mall. The place appear to be cozy. We were seated next to the kitchen separated by only the glass wall so we could actually see the chief cooking inside, cool. There is a bar section serving a wide selection of wines but i am not much into alcohol.

As i am on diet, my wife and I decided to share a meal. We ordered salmon with sauteed spinach and mushroom while Kenneth went for the jumbo lump crab cake. The waitress served us some bread and butter before the main dish. The entree also came with the house salad. It didn't take very long before our meals are served as well. The waitress was kind enough to split my order into two plates so my wife and I can dine on our own plate (instead of sharing a plate which looked odd sometimes). Kenneth certainly love his dish! He loves any kind of seafood anyway. Afterwards, we all shared a dessert of creme brulee which tasted great. The bill came to about $41 which is not bad at all. Well, i had enough for dinner that's for sure.

Daily Grill restaurant (photo from Daily Grill website)

Following pics are taken from iPhone.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Repairing my theater room

My favorite room suffered the worst damages......

Out of all 6 bedrooms, only the game room and guest room escaped without any damages. The masterbedroom/closet/bath on first floor had water stain came from the theater room on second floor. The master closet was probably the worst with water leaking through ceiling and air vent. Kenneth's room and bug room have partial damages on the ceiling and wall while the office room has the entire ceiling leaking water which was pretty bad. Even living room, family room, and garage on first floor see damages on either rain water leaking through the air duct, ceiling or wall.

The worst damage has to be the theater room. One reason was that directly above the theater room is where most of the shingles lost occurred. Right after the storm, i could see paint on the wall swelled up from collecting the rain water. The paint in the theater room was a good double premier coating so it was strong enough to hold the rain water without leaking, it looks kind of odd but the swelling part continue to move downward reaching the floor. To my horror, the water from behind the paint seeped through the second floor and reached the ceiling on the first floor. We have to break the paint swelling up with water to prevent it from reaching the first floor. The swelling was everywhere right behind the 110" fixed frame and water starting to pour right out the hole once we break the paint. The ceiling starting to leak water at this stage. Paint from ceiling wasn't the premier type and it fell after coming into contact with water. i remember we were like chicken without head running around the house looking for any bucket to hold the leaking water. We have to remove the hueg frame, all the audio electrical appliances to avoid more equipment damage from the water leaking through ceiling, and also the wooden cabinet holding the DVD/VCR, amplifier, woofer, surrounding sound systems, speakers, cable receiptor, etc. It was pretty hectic we were all very tire afterwards.

The theater room was "abandon" for few months awaiting the assessment from the insurance agent. We all missed watching movie there and plan to get it fixed as soon as the claim is settled. It took a long time before we can start to fix the theater room. My wife and I decided to have the theater room re-paint to dark blue this time (It was red in color previously). Daniel who is the contractor took a good week before we were finally able to use the theater room again. It was actually completed only few weeks ago from today.

Summer is once again around the corner. Hurricane season usually starts July and ends around november. But for us, the storm usually stirke around late August or early September. With the new roof, i hope repairing the house is not going happen again but Ike was only a Cat 3 storm. Who knows how long can the shingle last and when will we see a new paint on the theater room again. i hope never!!

Following pics mainly on the theater from before and after repairing. damages from the storm.

The first wo pics are how our theater room and part of the familiy room next to theater room look before the storm.

The next three pics are the damages right after the storm.

The next three pics are repairing pics. As you can see it was very dusty!

The last three are how it looks when completed. We also has the columns in the house painted. one of the colums is near the chimney.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Missing dog

Lost and found dog..........

We bought a 8-week old puppy of Pekingese back in 2006 April. She was adorable and my son named her "Gizmo". Pekingese is actually a stubborn dog and do not mix well with kid that play rough. My son hasn't had many good experience with dog. He has been knocking down by larger dogs when he was little so he is afraid of dog. My wife and I thought that a small dog could eventually helps him to like dogs again. Besides, my wife is really keen on a small dog. Obviously, Gizmo is a cute little puppy so it is hard to resist. (Don't all puppies are irresistable?)

It took about 3 months before Gizmo started to shed her "baby hair". I remember my wife and son went back to Hong Kong that year (2006). When they returned, Gizmo has transformed into a mature dog (see last pic below). My niece who was staying with us then thought i actually bought a new dog! Of course as she grew we get more attached to her.

Few days ago, we let Gizmo out with Tutu (another dog i am caring for my friend as he is working abroad) to take care of their "business" in the morning. Due to the hurricane from last year one of our fence has collapsed and regardless of how we blocked the opening both dogs managed to escape; However, both dogs always find the way back. But on that day, both went missing for a long time and the weather was getting bad. My wife and I started to get worry and we drove around the neighborhood trying to locate the dogs but to no avail. The sky began to look really dark and thunderstorm is looming.

Well just before the rain, Tutu, an Lhasa Apso, managed to return home but Gizmo was no where around. It started to rain dogs and cats, we were all worried about Gizmo but we believed she is smart enough to hide in a shelter, but the worst scenario crossed our mind too which is either being captured by someone or even worst, ran over by a vehicle. By night time there was still no sign of Gizmo, we began to think that she will never return. My wife made a lost and found post planning to paste it around the neighborhood the next morning. The night was cold and we could only hope that she is safe and warm.

I woke up as usual at 6:40 AM in the morning, getting myself ready to work. I peeped out the back door checking out the fence. Lo and behold, there was Gizmo right next to the back door. i opened the door and she appeared to be alright but covered with mud, and she is also limping. I brought her to my wife who was very surprise to see Gizmo again. My wife immediate get her to shower. Gizmo appear to be traumatized as she is not active as usual. i believed she is probably overstarved. Anyway, we got the fence fixed temporary. After few days, Gizmo is back to her ownself again. I hope that she learns her lesson!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Love all.... Play!

Lets play tennis.......

I love sports. However, growing up in Malaysia, I played lot of soccer and badminton which is far more popular than tennis., especially when badminton is considered the national sports, the only realistic Olympic event where Malaysia has a chance to win medal. So I started tennis very late, i believed the first time I approached this game was during my first year in Montana Tech. at Butte, Montana when I was 20! Some friends keen on this sport invited me for a game. Till today, I remember vividly on my first serve, the tennis ball went straight to the fence! Luckily it didn't fly out and hit a window or car or someone! From there on i realized this sport is really not as easy as it look.

My son Kenneth started several sports like swimming, soccer, volleyball, and track and field when he was only 5 but ended up never liking any of them. My wife has always wanted him to pick a sport and stay with it but it has been difficult until he found the love for this sport in a summer tennis course when he was a 6th grader. It clicks and now at 7th grade he is on the school tennis team.

Our community has tennis courts for the residents but the facilities were rarely used. Since we are paying the maintenance every year I have decided to make full use of it. Kenneth invited his friend Ryan who is also in the school team and we headed straight to the courts yesterday afternoon. After warming up, we started the game rusty but eventually sweat it out and have some great games. Ryan’s neighbor joined us too and has couple more games. Kenneth is doing much better now compared to when he first started and I am looking forward to play a more competitive games with him in near future, I am sure it wouldn’t take too long for him to beat me 6:0.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Building light trap for bugs.......

It is always fun building your own stuff …………….

I never considered myself a builder. However, I have fun when it comes to building something to trap bugs. Recently, I have a chance to build one that is easy to assemble and at the same time stable. So let’s start shopping for it!

You can get all the following items in most of the hardware shops.

Three 1” x 10’ sch.40 PVC pipe - Each pipe was cut into half in the shop. These form the major part of the structure for the bug trap, Two horizontal bars, top and bottom. Two vertical bars as stands, and the other two were further cut into half and form the four horizontal legs;

Six 1” sch.40 90D elbows - Four of these will be used as the “legs” and the other two will connect the top horizontal bar to the two vertical stands of the structure;

Two 1-¼” 5-way cross - These are the two most important joints for the structure. It joints the vertical stand to both horizontal legs. Both 5-way cross connected by a 1” x 5’ sch.40 PVC pipe to form the bottom bridge of the structure – bottom horizontal bar;

Two 1-¼” x 3’ PVC sch.40 - These form the “sleeve” to the two 1” sch. 40 vertical stands for easy assembly. Previously, this has been the worst part to take apart so this is a major upgrade right here ha!;

Six 1” PVC sch.40 coupling - These allow transition of 1-¼” to 1” sch. 40 at the Two 1-¼” 5-way cross;

Two threaded metal handle (Hook) + nuts – These are screwed to the end of top horizontal bars with hook facing down to hang on the broom/ white sheet;

Two threaded hex bolts and nuts – These are screwed to the top horizontal about 1 foot away from the center and support the bungee cord which hang the light fixture;

Four hook bolts and nuts – These are screwed in the mid-point of all four legs for easy bungee cord hooking;
Six bungee cords (around 30” long) – Two of these to hang the light fixture while the other four to provide the stability of the structure by connecting the cord between the vertical stands and legs;

One hex bolt + 2 flat washers + bolt + cup – These are screwed at the center of the top horizontal bar with washer plate form a support to hold the cup steady. The cup is used to hold mercury vapor light;

Two wooden broom – To spread the white sheet. One is hanged by the metal handle and the other at the bottom as weight to keep the sheet from flapping around by the wind;

Two 5’ x 5’ white color fabrics – one to be hang vertically and another at the bottom to collect bugs that fall from the vertical sheet;

Once the basic materials are ready, it is time to ship for the electrical stuffs. First of all is the source for attracting bugs, yep that is the blacklight. As my set-up allows hanging two light fixtures, I am going to need four white blacklight and two light fixtures. I ordered them from a light bulb company here together with the fixture. Both will be hung on the thread hex bolt on each side of the sheet to maximize the bright area on both sheets. Shopping for vapor light could be tricky. http://www.bioquip.com/ carries 175W mercury light bulb with proper ballasting but it is expensive and could cost more than $200. The other alternative is to get a self-ballasted vapor light which is much cheaper ($20-$40) but the bulb can get very hot and break if comes in contact with rain water, so a rain shield for this type of vapor light bulb is recommended. A simple light set up accessories is used together with the vapor light. After that, we need to power the light. Unless you plan to set-up the light trap closer to an electrical power source (such as near the house), a power generator is required, especially when collecting deep inside the forest. A massive and heavy generator (3000 Watt or above) that cost nearly thousand bucks is “over-powered” to just lighting up the blacklight. I bought a 1200watt generator costing me only $125! So wallah!! We have the stuff ready. Next is to drill a few holes on the PVC pipes where the bolts will be tightened on. As long as the hole allows the bolts to get through it will be sufficient. So we have almost everything ready. I would also recommend getting a few flash lights, extension cord with 5-6 plug holes, some camp chairs and some drinks, and then all we have to do is just sit and enjoy!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mug shot for my mantis

Say cheese..... wait these are mantids! ok say flies..........

As previously mentioned, keeping praying mantis has ignited my interest on macro photographing of insects. As for mantids, it is difficult not to focus on their interesting/adorable/alienated face. With additional knowledge from the photographing classes, i am getting a better grasp of macro shot and finally able to shoot some decent pics. Still far from being perfect due to the lack of my lighting apparatus. I am looking forward to either getting a flashbracket or a flash ring, together with a diffuser to get a better lighting effect when zooming into tiny little bug.