Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back to Dresden

Our friends, Martin and Patricia and their two children, left today to go back home to Germany. We had a lovely 4th of July dinner last night with them, complete with steak and apple pie. This is the toughest thing about moving, our friends are never really close by.

Litian, our friend from graduate school, is in NYC because her husband sang in Carnegie Hall on Monday night with the San Bernadino choir that he's in. Apparently they have been preparing for this concert for over 5 years and he just joined last year, so he got to go. I was hoping she could come up for dinner, but it's just too rushed and hectic.

Tonight, I have to pull together the paperwork for the 2 cars and figure out how to do long term storage for the cars (at least for Jeremy's) and also think about bringing 8 snow tires down from the attic. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Johann and Vince.

Clara and Martin.

Back from France.

So we are back home! We had a wonderful time and met lots of wonderful people. Eveybody got up today at 4 am today because of jet lag and now Jeremy and the kids are out on a walk while I do my blogging. I have to say that I didn't get any pictures of Johanna, Ben's girlfriend, who now has a wonderfully 2nd trimester shaped belly. Nor did I get photos of Clara and Colette, our hostesses in Evian - friends of bob and katherine - who arranged hotels and massages for us, not did I get photos of the bride and groom of the wedding we went to near Grenoble, but what the hey, there are pictures of the kids, what more can you ask for?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Edda loves animals.

Edda and sheep. We went to a sheep farm in the Alps owned by friends of Cindy and Patrice. It was really, really hot. We had a lunch of lamb which was cooked on a spit over an open fire.

Baby #3 for Diana and Andreas.

Leander, who is so handsome at 3 months old. We met Diana and Andreas through Cindy in Austin. Andreas spent the past two years at Kellogg getting his MBA and now is in the process of moving to Munich to work for McKinsey.

Monty - the french dog.

Monty - this was Ruby's best friend from Austin. He lives in France now and is looking lovely.

Friday, June 24, 2005

There, kitty, kitty, kitty.

Edda and kitten - again.

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.

Here we are back at Clara's house. This was the best part of Edda's trip. She was thrilled to spend an hour chasing this poor kitten.

Back to DC This Weekend

I am going back to DC this weekend to clean up the house waiting for you folks for the family re-union. Also, I will take a couple of Mainland Chinese with me to see DC. Will be back to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Have a nice weekend everyone.

Il fait chaud.

It was so hot today... We left Ben and Johanna at the hotel (again!) and went sightseeing. We went to a castle near Evian. Here is where we bought some wine.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

In the pool.

In the pool at the hotel.

Living off avacados.

It was pretty hard to feed Edda during the week. We really had no kitchen and since dinner was served at 8 pm, she was pretty much ready for bed then. We had her living on avacados, tofu (which I had brought from the US in hermetically sealed boxes that don't require refridgerations), bananas and every once in a while, we'd have a meal of scrambled eggs. She was pretty excited to get home and eat other things.

L'hot dog.

Vince eating French hot dog. This meal, I ordered entirely in French. I did pretty well with speaking French during this trip, pulling verbs out of my brain and dusting them off. Not to shabby, I think. French hot dogs are hilarious. They take a baguette and shove them on a stick and make a hole in the middle. Then they squirt catsup into them and then shove the hot dog into the hole.

It's so hot....

Vince playing in a fountain in downtown Evain-les-Bains.

Where is everybody?

Where is everybody? All very busy with their things, I guess :)

See, our tourist shirt?

Vince and Jeremy, self portrait.

It's so sunny.

Caboose riding. It had been very hot in France, but on the train riding day, it wasn't so bad. The rest of the gang went to Lausanne, Switzerland. We went to the kid activity.

Vince and Jeremy ride a train.

Vince and Jeremy rinding the train.

Edda loves to eat flowers.

Edda spent a lot of time picking flowers and eating them. This was a familiar pose throughout the vacation. She loves clover. We spent a lot of time pulling flowers out of her mouth. I think she is a cow reincarnated.

Swiss Vapeur Parc

This was the highlight of Vince's European Vacation. This parc had two trains running. We spent about three hours riding the trains over and over again. Vince was thrilled to see so many kids there. We bought a tee shirt as well.

Hello! Bonjour.

The Swiss Vapeur Parc. Riding miniature trains. Continue.... to.... ride... the... trains...


Vince high-fiving the kids on the train coming the other direction.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Upstairs at the Bois Rene.

This is the upstairs part of our hotel. They served us dinner and breakfast every day and we spent a lot of time here.

Vince kicks Edda out of the backpack.

Vince wanted to ride in the backpack.


Here we are in Abondance, we were planning on going for a hike and going up to telepherique, but the cable car was not working and the day was so hot. Emy got sick on the car ride up because the road curved so much. The day was incredibly hot and no one would sell us any water. We were hot/sticky and thirsty.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tuesday blues.

On Tuesday, Katherine's cough is not much better, so she goes to the doctor for a chest x-ray. Has a lung infection and gets stronger antibiotics. Jeremy takes 6 trips into town, mostly for food. We ride the venicular rail-way up and down the hill of Evian. Pretty slow day. Vince is better, Edda developes a pretty high fever which we control through Motrin, although it worries us. By morning, she is all better. Quite a trooper.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Clara's house,

Eating a delicious lunch on the patio of Clara's house in Thonon-les-Bains. She had the most wonderful fruit from the local market. We were all jet-lagged at this point but we had the most wonderful meal. Cheese, bread, fruit, chicken, Clara and Colette really were very nice. They made a dentist appointment for Emy in the afternoon, the rest of us headed to the hotel in Evian-les-Bains. The hotel is very rustic, our room has a bunk bed and two single beds. Everyone tries to nap, but it's unsuccessful. Jeremy and I and the kids explore Evian, Ben picks up Johanna at the airport at 6 pm.

Father's Day & Mom/Dad's 37th Engagement Anniversary

Thanks for the phone calls and a bottle of wine for Father's Day. Donald, I was up in the air flying when you called. I tried to call you when I was on the ground but you were not there.

Mom almost bought me a Ford F150 truck at Washougal for Father's Day. Well, I suggested that, may be, we can postpone it for a while. Or otherwise, you are going to have 5 cars for 2 people.

Coming Wednesday is Mom/Dad's 37th engagement annivesary. Since I will not be there with Mom, I bought Mom dozen roses for this occasion to say "Thanks a lot, Mom". Mom, she is always very great to me :) and I am very fortunate. Oh, time is really passing by very fast. Our engagement was just like yesterday.

Doris, hope you and your family have a wonderful stay in France. Say hello to Bob & Katherine for us. Donald, how is your bike riding and collar bones?

Mom & Dad look forwarding to seeing you all on the weekend of July 4th.

Everyone has a complaint.

At the Geneva airport - about 3 am New York time. We are all grumpy. Emily had a toothache that flared up the day before she left for France. Katherine was battling a persistent cought. I forgot to mention that on Saturday, Vince got the sickest I have ever seen him. His throat was hurting incredibly and he had developed a fever and we went to the doctor on Saturday who thought it might be strep and picked up a presciption of antibiotics and getting him to take his dose was not fun. His throat was very irritated and now once in Geneva, he was tired and sick. We thought we were to be met at the airport, but it turned out that we were to drive to Clara's house. So we rented our cars and headed to Thonon-les -Bains.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Red-Eye district.

So our France vacation begins, we are on our red eye (Swiss air) to Geneva. On the flight are Ben, Jeremy, Doris, Katherine, Bob, Vincent and Edda. Ben and Emy arrived at JFK via the subway. Bob and Katherine arrive together and the four of us take the trusty Volvo down the Taconic freeway to JFK. Jeremy and I are driving along the Hutchinson freeway, which is just north of NYC, when Vince announces that he has to go potty. Now we are in the heart of NYC traffic. If we get off at an exit, they only lead to other freeways or else into the city where we are bound to get lost. Jeremy pulls over to the side of the Hutch and tells Vince firmly, "Pee only, no poop." Vince looks at Jeremy and says, "I gotta poop, no pee." So there we are on the side of the Hutch, a million cars whizzzing by and there is my son, crouching and making a turd as large as Ruby's on the side of the freeway. Jeremy insists on picking up the poop, so we wrap it in a diaper and shove it into an empty Kleenex box.

Speaking of Ruby, we left her at this place, Professional Pet People in Rhinebeck, NY. She was excited to see the other doggies there (it's a completely cageless boarding place), but once she realized that we were leaving her there, she jumped over the 3.5 foot high fence, they had to put her in the back where the yard had a higher fence. She was pretty sad to be left there.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dinner at Washougal home

Three couples went to Washougal home and we had crab and rost duck dinner with the wine. Test of this wine is very good. All my friends love it. Thanks to Jeremy and doris.

All ladies helped to cook and wash the dishes. So my job was much easier. One of them bought a home about 10 miles away from us. We are trying to convince the other to buy one. We also had "Den Sin" today too. There is a newly opened place in Portland.

We went to rose garden too. It is very pretty this time.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I wonder if Jeremy is on his way home.

Hmmm, he's not logged into Yahoo.

So we have been agonizing over the flights because of Ruby. Ruby has the most complicated paperwork, with proof of vaccinations and treatments within specific time frames, a USDA certificate of export from Albany and an import license issued from SGP. I was hoping to take a non-stop flight from NYC, so we could be assured once on the plane in NYC, no paperwork glitch was going to stop us from reaching Singapore with Ruby. But the non-stop flight is 20 hours, pretty much guarenteeing that Ruby would poop/pee in her crate after holding it as much as she could and also we found out this flight is weight restricted and Ruby would not be allowed on the plane. They use every extra bit of weight capacity for fuel, so nothing extra. So we were looking a two flights, both stopping in Frankfurt. We were assured that the folks in Frankfurt were quite good at dog handling and that there would be a vet to look after Ruby. The two flights were one with an 80 minute layover and one with a 12 hour layover. The critical thing was to figure out if Ruby would be able to get out of her crate to pee and walk around a little bit. I was disparing that we would never find out exactly what happens in the cargo area of the Frankfurt airport and inclined to go as quickly as possible to SGP via the short layover, but my sweet husband, Jeremy found out (after about 50 calls and emails) that the dogs get to get out of the crate and walk around starting one hour after the plane lands and then they get back into their crates one hour before the flight takes off. Ruby will get to walk around and get food and water. So we are doing the long layover. It's crazy, but this is the thing that is worrying me most about moving. I just invision us stopped in Frankfurt with the Germans not allowing Ruby on the flight to SGP. Then we would be screwed. But our vet is preparing paperwork for import into Germany, just in case something weird happens. I guess worse could happen, it would only be a paperwork snafu, and not really anything terrible. We would just have to work with a German vet to get the German paperwork ready.

Vince is going to miss his school a lot. He really enjoys it so much. Ms. Pat, his teacher, really does a good job. Today they came home with handmade Father's Day Gifts! (I'm glad you got the wine dad, sorry it was a hassle, I thought the apt complex could do it. It is from Jeremy's favorite winery - maybe he can tell you the story...)) I hope his new school will be just as much fun for him.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Up aT BaRd

Jeremy took the day off today and we all went up to Bard. Actually, we went to Bard last night. Today was a full day, it started off slowly, but we all went to the dentist, then Ruby had an appointment and then Vince and Edda had a playdate with Andrew and finally a dinner party at Bob and Katherine's place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Since we don't have a TV, we watch the washer.

Vince's portrait of me. Notice the Thomas the Tank engine placemat.

Spaghetti for breakfast. What a mess!

Argh! Bleh!

So things are getting crazy around here. Today the movers are coming to survey the apartment and tell us how long it will take them to pack and move us.

Jeremy is doing conference calls every night this week to Singapore and also handling the dog import rules. It looks like we are going to fly through Frankfurt, so we have to confirm rules in Singapore/Germany and the US. It looks as if the dog handling services in Germany are quite professional and are good at telling us what to do to make Ruby comfortable for the airplane ride. We have to see if Ruby gets to get out of her crate to pee in Frankfurt or not.

Hmmm, what else? Tonight we are going up to Bard to take care of Trudy/Ruby while the Martins are in NYC. We all have dentist appointments tomorrow and Ruby has a vet appointment tomorrow as well.

And, oh yes, this weekend we are flying to Europe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Getting back in the groove.

Vince has been so excited to have Jeremy home. Yesterday, we went swimming in the pool at the apartment complex. Today we went to Tot time and then the gym and finally a play date with Sammy. He was so exhausted...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ruby is sick

For the THIRD time in three weeks, Ruby has managed to find her food supply opened and she has happily gorged herself on IAMS kibble. However, this makes her really ill the next day. She probably eats about 20 cups of food at one sitting, now she's bloated and uncomfortable.

There is no problem with the car transfer to the parents, everything is OK with AMD. Getting Ruby to Singapore is our most complex issue right now, Jeremy is trying to work it out.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Danbury train museum

To celebrate the return of Jeremy, we drove to Danbury and stopped off at Trader Joe's and then at the Danbury train museum. The best part was riding the turntable (circa 1920).

On the train turntable.

Edda, a little bit nervous, on the train turntable.


Jeremy is home! Hooray! Bob came over yesterday to care for the kids and I drove to Newark to pick him up. Sheez, Newark is really far away. It's nice that he's home.

We had gone to the library yesterday before Bob came over, so there were a bunch of new books to read.

Today, I think we are going to Danbury to the mall with the merry-go-round inside the mall and also to the railroad museum.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

A Letter to Ching Mao & ME 65

Ching Mao:I hope Pei-Jean & you are kidding. So your boss is asking you to have a job :), just like all the bosses do. The only real boss in our class of ME 65 is Rena. She always tells or suggests, depending how you look at it, me what to do. The rest of us are just gofers of their spouses :)

Well, here are my 2 cents. Rena & I have been working at different places or different continents, for the past 8 years. As a matter of fact, the trip that we had with SL and Anna was just about three weeks. But, it was the longest time that Rena & I were together continuously for the past 4 – 5 years. Of course, you can see that we treasured that precious moment a lot.

In our situations, the bad part is apparent. I really missed her a lot, especially at the time when wind was blowing, rain pouring, birds singing, etc., any circumstance that you could think of. I am not a real music fan but I do have a car satellite radio (XM) which accompanies me all the time while driving. Sometimes, I heard those moving songs on the radio and, suddenly, the thought about Rena was intensified. And I called. Unfortunately, sometime, I was in places where there was no cell tower :( to make any connection.

Well, to us, the good part (?) is that we have traveled a lot on the ground, visiting different places scattered all over the USA, including scenic highways, scenic spots, big towns, small municipalities, famous or not. We have seen a lot and drove many, many miles together. Since Rena was always the anchor point because our kitchen was with her all the time, I flew a lot, basically, every two weeks. Sometime, I even couldn’t tell which airport and time zone I was in. During the winter time, it was much better for my tummy. I brought my big “beggar’s bowl” and Rena filled it with her left over in the refrigerator. I wrapped it in our wriggled moving paper (paper is an excellent insulator, and we still have a lot after countless moves) and brought it back in shipped luggage. That probably lasted about two weeks until the next scheduled re-fill. Summer time, it is less likely to carry food this way.

After all these years like that, Rena & I are ready to quit at any moment. Otherwise, forced retirement of one or both is a distinct possibility. Being not together is not good; especially you have no one to argue with :)

So, I think, working on your own investment is much better, followed by jobs within commuting distance. The last thing is “any location”. But, if you really would like to do that, I suggest short-term temp jobs (3 – 4 months) in big cities, west or east, where air travel is cheaper & more frequent. A couple of hours later, he will be home. I believe GE Nuclear in your SF Bay area needs some temp workers. Ask Tsai Sen-Sung, he may still have some connection there. If not, ask Rena. noel

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Job Shoppers (Contractors)

Mom and I are looking into the possibility that we both work as constractors at the same place. Since 1 1/2 year COBRA medical program should cover our health insurance until enrolling into Medicare at 65. We should have no problem on our health coverages. This way, we can get together and do some local sightseeing plus we can also invest on real estates (lands and/or houses), if the price & opportunity are right. Pittsburgh is just not the right place to do so, though Washougal and Washington DC are. Maybe, we can branch out to somewhere that have potential depending where we end up as contractors. Even without this opportunity, this is not as important as comparing with getting together and being happy ever after :)

Walking in the woods again.

Edda and I went to Bowdoin Park on a hike. We tried out the backpack. Edda didn't seem to like it at first, but then she got into it and I could hear her babbling to herself in the back. Lovely short trail system in the park.

Me and Edda hiking in Bowdoin park.

Slow Time

I guess the company is in the period of "slow time". Not much going on. But, I am spending my days right now with several finite element analysis computer programs, which are available in the company's computer system, by following the tutorials that later may be proven to be useful. Maybe not. Who knows? But, instead of just sitting here, this way it is good for me and the company. Later, they may need those skills. I certainly do. IT is interesting if they work closely with company's main business. To be just a working bee, engineering is much easier for me right now because I don't think I can get on the keyboard too often. It is bad for my hands, shoulders, neck and eyes. Besides, drawing too much brain power. Sometimes, to be just a working bee, at the bottom of the totem pole, is really bad. One cannot use talents as broad as possible. Just looking at small things but not the big pictures. Especially, there are a lot of things on which you are sure that you can excel. Well, of course the merit of it, is just working on what is assignment and there is no "why & what".

I guess the best, at my stage of life, is to have outside business of my own - any kind :)


Mom went fishing yesterday after work. Caught a half. The fish was on the hook but managed to get away. So, we can postpone the idea to buy a freezer just for the fish :) But she enjoyed herself. She got home around 9:30 PM at her time and called. Very glad to hear from her after her fishing trip. Just would like to know that she was okay :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Mom Never Answers Call Back Messages

Mom never answers call back messages. I mean "NEVER". She does not know how to retrieve them. It is more difficult to contact her after she got the cell phone :) "Call or Miss" :)

My Washed Cell Phone Comes Back to Life

I got my washed cell phone working again. Evidently, it completely dried up after several months. It sat there for a long time. This time, the charger of other one has problem, so I had to bring this one back to life. It is working fine, so far so good. Until next time, I put it into the washer again :)

The Warren

So today I went to work and also checked out another condo and a Montessori school. We have settled on a 4 bedroom place in this condo complex called the Warren. It is in Chua Chu Kang, about 1 minute from the MRT station. The complex has three pools, one with slides and fountains for kids, a huge one for general lounging, a hot tub and another rectangular one for swimming laps. I also looked at the Modern Montessori Preschool Center at Graceland, which is nearby the Condo.

Mom's Allergy & Picking Fruits

Mom has very bad allergy. But, yesterday, she was the first one to pick fruits in a nearby farm. I asked her to stay inside but she always likes fresh fruits. What a contradictory picture she was painting herself into. Afterward, I could tell that she enjoyed her fruits very much but not the allergy.

Well, in Washougal, her allergy is okay. Maybe, that is the good place she can stay during the allergy season.

Monday, June 6, 2005


The kids are asleep and I'm trying to convince myself that the house isn't too much of a disaster area. Oh well. There was a tornado warning in our area today - the morning was hot and sunny and then at about 3:30, the skies went very dark and torrential rain fell for about 15 minutes and then nothing... The picture below is of rain. Can you tell? Hmmm, because of the warning and also because I am a lazy person, we didn't do anything this afternoon except for baking this pound cake for Jeremy.

It poured today - tornado watch and everything.

Pound cake that Vince made for Jeremy.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Desparately waiting for Steve Jobs' WWDC Keynote Speech. Apparently the big rumor is that Apple is going to switch over to x86, produced by Intel. Of course, I think that they should go with AMD chips, and AMD should make a big push to grab their mobile market. It would bring some much needed credibility to AMD's mobile line.

Trains, Trains, and a Bus

Commuted to work today for the first time. It wasn't a bad experience tho I did have to get up about 1 hour earlier than normal. Door-to-door, it's about 1 hour 15 minutes. It involves walking about 10 minutes to the Light Rail stop down the street, changing to hop the Caltrain at Mountain View, and the hopping the Marguerite free Stanford bus to work, and then walking about 5 minutes to the library.

My normal commute is about 45 in traffic which blows. I figure getting a folding bike, might cut down my commute time by about 15 minutes and hopefully, once I get my powerbook, I can do something on the train ride over besides sleep.. whee!

First Purchase using eBay

I just bought some accessories of my cell phone using eBay. Total payment is $11.00 and commodities will be shipped to Mom's place.

Yard Work

When I was in Washington DC, I did a lot of yard work. Really quite refreshing. Good for my heart and better for my health. I needed to rest several times before continuing. Guess the age gets me. But, otherwise, was okay. Too bad, right now, didn't have enough time to put flowers on the parameters. That bird family was still there beside the chimney. I cut the vine around them several time but yesterday I still saw the nest with birds. A small bird sticked his head up waiting to be fed, I guessed. Our asparagus bed is not too good. Last year it was better. The clematis around the wagon wheel and mail box is doing fine. The magnolia from Austin, Taxes is not too happy, I think. The persimmon (?) is also doing fine plus those oaks. I did not repair cracks on our blacktop that well last year. This year, I may try again.

I just heard that the largest house in our neighborhood was sold to an Iranian couple, both of them are doctor, for 1.25 M. Other than that, nothing changes much in the neighborhood.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Back to Pittsburgh

This morning, after breakfast with Robert (our classmate's kid), I headed back to Pittsburgh. On the way back, I dropped by our neighbors at the farm. The area has changed a lot and there is a new neighbor called Thompson. He just built a $650,000.00 house on the same road of our farm - Timber Ridge Road. His lot is about 22 acres and his house is same type as ours on Sheets Farm but a little bit bigger. Well, his house is good for our investment. Hope there will be more of his. The neighbor just across the street, called Charles, just recovers from colon cancer. He is fine right now. The neighbors raise deers, and the one raises trukeys were not around.

Well, can't wait to see you folks (Donald and Martins) on July 4th weekend.

Bored in Singapore

I can't recall what I did before I was married and had kids. I had a pretty boring Sunday by myself. I am looking forward to coming home at the end of the week. I went out wandering a few times, but, it seems people get off to a late start here on Sundays, and I found things closed down and uninteresting. So I have been listening to Prarrie Home Companion and reading the Sunday NY Times on the internet. What did people do before the internet?

The Singapore Lionfish Mascot thing, with my hotel (the tall one behind the water stream) and the Durian shaped concert hall. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Edda learning to to stand up.

Blowing dandylions at Bard.

Thank you Ms. Stricker for the Sponge Bob PJs and the farting book.

Today, Saturday

Well, after ate breakfast with our university classmate's kid, he went apartment hunting and I worked on the yard, mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, picking the wild grasses, putting back all the stones for erosion control and power washing the side door and garage. It looks great right now until next time.

Aunt Jane and Carrie stayed here for 4 days last week.

Our classmate's kid will stay a couple of days and our old friends, a couple, plus her sister and brother-in-law will stay a couple of days starting next Monday. Her sister needs surgery to remove a lump in her lung. They are old conples and driving back and forth to their house in the country side is just too much for them. So, they usally stay with us. This time, not them, but her sister needs someplace to stay. We are glad that we can help.

Well, I heard Mom is putting two cherry trees in our house at Washougal. I also heard that over there, to buy a house now, they need to lineup and sleep over at the office door. Just like Las Vegas when I was there. Crazy! Imagine, when bubble bursts, what will happen. And a lot of people just bat the opposite. Interesting!

Donald, did you get the tickets yet?

This is the pool inside the Warren Condo complex Posted by Hello

This is a water slide at the Chua Chu Kang Comminuty Swim Center Posted by Hello

This is what the warning is all about Posted by Hello

This is a warning sign in the back of the Chau Chu Kang Park Posted by Hello

This is the todler playground across the street from the Northvale Condo in Chua Chu Kang Park Posted by Hello

This is the Chua Chu Kang Neighborhood. We may live in either the Warren Condod (where the red star is) or the North Vale Condos. Both are right outside the MRT station. There are parks with playgrounds across the street (green area on right) and the Lot1 Mall has lots of stuff including a public library, a movie theater, a 10 minute kids haircut place, a ramen place, two sushi conveyor belt places, a grocery store, a day care center, a video game parlor, a food court and two McDonalds. Posted by Hello