Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At the Jacksons (Trip Report part 4)

After the two-week stint in Ohio, I flew back to Vegas. I had a couple days left in the U.S. and was going to spend them with my sister Jayne and her family. They recently moved from Ohio to Vegas so it was cool to hang with them and explore some of the fun things they have discovered since making the move. The housing market is flailing so Jayne and her husband Tom decided to rent a house. Perhaps when the market settles they will buy a house. As for now, they are renting a very nice pad in Henderson, the largest suburb of Vegas. The house is really nice and has a killer view of the city.

Although I only had a few days with them, I got the impression that the Jacksons were digging their new surroundings. Tom is especially happy to be in a less harsh climate. Jayne started a job at one of the fancier hotels in the city a few days before I visited, I wish ya big luck with the new gig sis!

Here are a few more shots of Sin City:

The view from the patio at dusk. The patio is a very nice feature. It has a hot tub that allows you to soak and look out over the city and the mountains...good stuff!

The lower level of the backyard leading into the house.

Oscar. This is one of the coolest little dogs around. He digs his new place except the occasional passers-by. He is very territorial. Look at that mug.

Almost the same view as above but in the full-blown evening. You can see the lights of the Strip on the right.

Strolling along the Strip. Another perfect day in Las Vegas. It's tough to find fault with the climate. The sensory overload brought on by the overwhelming marketing of the casinos can be hard to digest.

Approaching the southern portion of the Strip. Up ahead is the New York, New York, the MGM Grand, the Luxor and the Excalibur. I read somewhere that there are more hotel rooms on that one corner than in any other city in that possible?

Staring up at the fake Eiffel Tower. Part of the well-designed Paris Casino. It's all a facsimile of the real thing, but it's impressive.

The MGM Grand. This place is a nightmare. Once you are inside it's impossible to get out. They have very effectively hidden the exits. I once spent 20 minutes trying to find an exit in this place.

I need to thank Perry, Andrea, Jayne, Tom and Jordan for making my visit to Vegas a fun one. I had a lot on my mind and sometimes may have seemed distant. Nevertheless, I had a great trip.

Next time I come to visit I will bring Catherine, I promise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hanging Out In Ohio (Trip Report Part 3)

After the craziness of Las Vegas, I headed to my hometown, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The Falls is a suburb of Akron, Ohio. Not exactly the most exciting place in the world, but my home. I had about two weeks to hang with the family and spend some quality time with my mom. I spent a lot of my time doing odd jobs around my mom's house. The basement and the yard needed a good spring cleaning and I love to do that kind of stuff in small

The following are some photos of the goings on in the Buckeye State.

My mom hanging out in the front yard with my sister Jill and her kids. You can see the winter was pretty rough on the yard. I needed at least two more weeks to really get the place up to shape.

My niece Grace. She is a cutie. Not terribly happy that Uncle David was pointing the camera at her.

A shot of 19th Street while standing in front of my mom's place. It was mid-April and the leaves still weren't on all of the trees...not a fun winter!

The family threw a little shindig for me. It was a fun time with lots of good eats. My sister Shelley made a few of her favorite dishes, they were delish.

My nephew Adam mugging for the camera. He is growing up so fast. Seems like he was just in kindergarten.

Jami, my niece, brought over the video game "Rock Band". It's a pretty crazy game where you follow the cues from the TV and actually play the music on the various instruments. The selection of music was cool. The game included stuff from all kinds of good rock bands, quite a variety. Jami is the crazy chick in the middle jamming the guitar. Lauren, another niece, is doing her best to bang out on the drums.

The back yard. As you can see, lots of work to do. This was after a few days of work. There are several huge trees in the yard so it's in constant need of upkeep.

Standing in the driveway trying to capture some images for posterity. Mom is probably going to sell the house in the next year or two and I may not make it back to the States by then.

Adam playing Wii. He needs to be surgically removed from the You know Uncle David is home because the room is cluttered with junk food!

Shelley, Mom and Jill. Shell & Jill are half of the sister contingent in my family.

I miss my car! My niece Jami took ownership of it when I moved to Taiwan. It was great to see it again. I really miss road trips in the Maxima.

Last but not least, Bubba. This guy is my buddy. Mom has done a wonderful job of taking care of him in my absence. He is a remarkable animal and I'd love to have him here with me but it's just not possible. He is experiencing some health problems and I trust mom to do the right thing for him. He is a monster!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Come On Up for The Rising!

This is a great moment. The use of Bruce Springsteen's wonderful song is perfect. Ya gotta believe that these two gentleman are going to get the U.S. back on track. The future is much brighter when you allow folks like this to lead us. It's refreshing to listen to leaders who have some eloquence and true compassion. Enjoy!

p.s. I am sticking to the prediction that I made in March, Obama/Edwards '08. Here is a link to that post:
Further Political Prognosticating

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Future Wife

I guess it's time to make it official. Catherine said yes to the big question. My recent trip to the U.S. made it all-the-more obvious that I need her by my side for the next 50 years or so. The trip just didn't feel right because my girl wasn't with me. My life is with her, no matter where it might take us.

The details of the impending nuptials are yet to be ironed out. When we come to an agreement, I will let ya'll know.

I am 38 years old and up until about 18 months ago I was beginning to think I was bound to be alone for the rest of my days. That all changed when I met this crazy little college student from Burma. She has brought so much joy into my life and I am excited about our future together.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Myanmar / Burma, Enough is Enough!

As most of you know, Catherine is Burmese. So the recent storm, Cyclone Nargis, has been really tough to stomach for the both of us. I have consistently been a critic of the Burmese government but have tempered my criticism out of respect for Catherine. She loves her country and always reminds me that the problems are with the military men that run the country, not the people. Therefore, I have tried hard to compose myself when I feel the urge to rant about the litany of problems that have plagued the territory...I have reached my tipping point!

Click on this link to see why I just can't believe how screwed up this situation is and why the world has to do something:

This particular paragraph sent me over the top:
Relief workers also reported some storm survivors were being given spoiled or poor-quality food rather than nutrition-rich biscuits sent by international donors, adding to fears that the ruling military junta in the Southeast Asian country could be misappropriating assistance.

The heartless bastards are hoarding all of the relief goods and giving the starving population some crusty old crap they had laying around.

I have never been a supporter of interfering with a countries ability to govern from within, but this is the last straw. The military junta has murdered monks in recent protests, been incredibly slow in their response to the current disaster, obstructed the world's relief efforts and now are withholding the basic supplies that are necessary in order to save one-million plus people in peril.

How much longer can we allow this kind of crap to go on?

For the first time in my life, I am advocating the removal of a sovereign government by outside forces. It will be ugly. The men in control are ruthless and have the support of China, so it won't be easy, either. Blood will flow but I believe it is necessary in order to bring some semblance of normalcy to Burma. Perhaps a unified force wearing the uniforms of the United Nations would be appropriate? Not sure if they are able or sanctioned to do such a thing, but I am all for it!

The above statement makes me sound a bit too much like the idiot in the White House, but I just can't see another way of resolving this mess.

Please keep Catherine and her family and friends in your thoughts when you see what's taking place there.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Great Day (Vegas Trip Report Part 2)

A few days after I arrived in Vegas, Perry allowed me to come to work with him for the day. He is a second grade teacher in the public school system in Las Vegas. I spent the day with a remarkable group of students at Hollingsworth Elementary. Hollingsworth is located in one of the rougher areas of the city and the most of the kids come from less-than-ideal home environments. Perry told me that quite a few of them live in the weekly-pay hotels in the neighborhood.

It takes a special kind of person to manage a group of kids with such challenges. The students are lucky to have Perry. I have known him for about 12 years now and I have never seen him happier than when he is leading this group. He has a great system set up in the classroom and the children seem to enjoy and thrive in it. It was tons of fun going through the steps that constitute a day in the life of a grade-school teacher in the U.S.

Below are some of the photos I managed to take that day.

A good view of the kids from Perry's desk.

Perry leading the charge. The children respond well to him. I think the classroom is the perfect environment for him.

I was especially impressed by how well disciplined the kids are. They have a set schedule throughout the day and follow it to a "T".

They never missed a chance to mug for the camera. Kids throughout the world love to be silly when the camera is pointed at them.

Towards the end of the day, they get a few minutes of play time.

Thank you Perry for allowing me to attend school with you. It has given me a lot to think about regarding my future. I took away nothing but positive thoughts regarding teaching in Las Vegas.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Las Vegas (Trip Report Part 1)

After a grueling day in the air, about 14 hours, I finally arrived at McCarran airport in Las Vegas. Waiting for me there was my best buddy on the planet, Perry. We quickly retrieved my bags and headed out to see the wonderful house that he and his wife Andrea bought this past year. The fact that they are homeowners is mind-boggling considering it seems like yesterday when we were struggling college students living in crappy old apartments.

I was pretty wired by the time we got to the house. He showed me around the place and we hung out for a little bit while waiting for Andrea to arrive. After she came home we headed out to the micro-brewery at the Main St. Station casino. This is one of my favorite places to nosh in Vegas because they have a killer meatloaf and tasty beer. After dinner, we strolled down Freemont Street, otherwise known as "old" Vegas or downtown. As far as I am concerned, this is the best part of Vegas. The strip is waaaaaaay over-developed and unfriendly. Downtown Vegas is much kinder to the $5 gambler, like me. After gambling and losing money for a few hours, we headed home.

The following are some photos I took while in Vegas. This trip wasn't so much about sight-seeing and taking photos as it was a chance for me to visit with my friends and talk about a possible future in Vegas. I did manage to snap a few. I hope you enjoy them.

Speeding around the city on the freeways is a whole lot more enjoyable with this view.

My best friend's house. It's a great place, very comfortable. They live on the outskirts of the city. This fact may not hold true for long because Vegas is growing like a weed.

Perry and his new truck. He has been so successful these past few years which should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows him. He is one of the brightest, kindest and hard-working people I know...only outdone by his wife!

Running errands with Perry. I just can't help but snap photos of the mountains, they are amazing.

I really enjoyed this trip because I got a chance to just hang out with Perry & Andrea. Not do anything all that special, just the day-to-day stuff.