Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Location

Just in case anyone still follows this blog, it has moved to a new location:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

T-minus 12 hours . . .

In just about 12 hours I will be en-route to here: (Foshan specifically, in the Guangdong province)

Maybe I will eat one of these: (probably not)

One thing's for darn sure, there will be a whole lot of these there:

I will DEFINITELY go here:

And hopefully here!:

WHOA! I'll do my best to keep my blog updated, but in the likely scenario that China's infamously controlling government blocks blogger, I'll just have to send out e mails. I'll miss you all!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Know What Stinks?

Running on trash day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Asians Falling from the Sky, or An Ill-fated Trip

Warning: A very long series of unfortunate events


Dad, Mom, Jing and Hao (mom's Chinese study buddy at the U and her boyfriend), and Christian and I drive several hours to Southern Utah to camp before starting canyons the next day. We spend a good hour driving around searching for our campsite. Finally, at around midnight, we hunker down to sleep out the night under the stars (but not before I pick a big creepy crawly caterpillar off my pillow).


Dad wakes up at 5am to drive into Zions to get permits for the canyons we plan on doing on Saturday. After an hour of driving he arrives there, well before opening, only to find that there are more people already in line than there are permits. He drives back.

We wake up, pack up camp, and try to explain outdoor-bathroom-procedures to Jing and Hao in the most delicate way possible. In a few minutes we are at the trailhead and ready to embark on our first canyon, Boltergeist--a short, 2 hour, perfect for beginners canyon. About five minutes into the hike we come upon a sort of gully area that we need to scramble down into. No biggie, this is fairly typical before you hit the canyon entrance. Just as dad finds a relatively secure and easy place to walk down, Hao also believes he has found a good place. Christian follows Hao, knowing he has little experience. Just as dad calls out to them to take the easier route and not risk anything we hear several loud exclamations from Christian--a few of them containing mild obscenities. Hao has fallen.

Not only has Hao fallen, he has fallen 20 feet, the last 10 right on his face, and he has not avoided rocks in the process. Christian was sure he was watching him fall to his death, or at least to some serious broken bones. We all make it down to the bottom of the gully in time to see Hao sit down on a rock and begin squeezing his arm around the place where he now has a well, hole in it. There is a quarter-sized, inch deep chunk of flesh missing from his arm and several other cuts and scrapes besides. I observe this only long enough to know it will make me queasy and choose a rock some distance away to plop myself on. Meanwhile dad and Christian sift through the somewhat jumbled first aid kit and Hao assures everyone that he's fine and is ready for the canyon. His assurances continue as he starts to turn white and shiver. Clearly, not fine.

After some rudimentary first aid is administered and following extensive deliberations it is decided that Christian will return with Hao up to the car and wait with him there in the air conditioning while the rest of us continue on to the short 2 hour canyon. It would be silly for all of us to sit in a car and wait and the canyon is short, so Hao can relax and decide what he wants to do.

The first rappel is a bit of a challenge for Jing, but this is normal for beginners. It's always difficult to become comfortable with the rope and harness and positioning necessary to keep stable. She makes it down, but is clearly very scared. A few short feet after that we encounter a down climb, meaning you climb down without any ropes, using your body and various climbing techniques to secure yourself. This one involves positing yourself in a crack between two giant slabs of rock and making your way 30 feet down:
This may not have been the best choice for a beginner. But at this point, you just have to go on. So after talking both Jing and my mom down (she is an experienced canyoneer and was still rather terrified of this particular climb) we move on and do a few more rappels, none of them much better than the first.

Finally, we come to the last rappel before the hike out of the canyon. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a 150 foot free rappel, meaning your feet are not touching any rock, you are merely hanging from the rope and lowering yourself down. As I lower myself down, a little nervous, I begin to really worry about Jing. This is no baby rappel, this is some scary stuff. Jing eventually makes it down, but not before her harness malfunctions and all of her weight is centered on one pressure point around her waste. She freaks out as her harness is pulling really tightly at her rib cage where it has made its way up to, but I'm belaying her from the bottom and manage to lower her down before she loses it.

Phew. That's over. But the hike out isn't and we spend the next several hours hiking up canyon in search of the exit which we do eventually find. . . or at least somewhere we can climb out (then under a fence and finally back to the road). At this point we're out of water and it's hot. Our short 2 hour beginners canyon has now taken us 4 1/2 hours.

Christian and Hao have now been sitting in a car for 4 1/2 hours and I'm pretty sure Jing is traumatized. We decide to stop and eat our lunch up the road and then take Hao to Christian's parent's house in St. George where he can get cleaned up and possibly checked out at a clinic while Dad and Christian do another short canyon. As we're eating lunch under the tarp we set up for shade (remarkable foresight) the blue skies suddenly break open in a torrential downpour which lasts for about 40 minutes. Having waited that out we split up and make our ways to our various destinations.

By the time mom, Jing, Hao, and I arrive in St. George Hao has become determined that he will rent a car there and drive home. Despite trying to convince him otherwise and offering our car he makes a bee line for the internet right when we get there. No luck. We finally convince him to just borrow our car and we'll ride back with my parents. It then takes quite a bit more persuading to get him to take a shower and let Rose (Christian's mom) clean up his wound before taking off. Immediately after these things are done Jing and Hao flee back to Salt Lake.

Christian and Dad get back from their second canyon (Yankee Doodle) and we all enjoy warm showers and soft beds before resuming camping mode in the morning.


We were unable to get the permits we needed for the planned canyons today so we have to come up with an alternate itinerary. We decide to do Birch canyon, one of the few near Zions that doesn't require a permit. Unfortunately, it does require two cars which we no longer have since Jing and Hao took ours as their get away car. Ever helpful Jim (Christian's dad) volunteers to make the 40 minute drive and shuttle us from trailhead to trail end where we can leave our car. Zions has road construction so it takes a little longer than that.

No one is exactly sure where the trail end is that we're supposed to find, so we spend a looong time looking for it. In the process we find ourselves on a very bad dirt road surrounded much too closely with trees that proceed to make there mark all over Jim's shiny red truck (formerly in perfect condition). Oops. Determined to press on, he insists on continuing with us and is then favored with a flat tire, courtesy of aforementioned road.

Finally, we find a place very near to where the trail comes out. By now though it's almost noon, getting late in the day to start out on a canyon and we discover that the new exit we have chosen will result in several miles of trudging through sand. It's hot, it's late, and Christian has a bad knee that isn't usually friendly to sand-trudging. Mom and I pioneer the no vote and the canyon is called off.

But we have to do something. So we drive an hour back down to the Zion's visitor's center to hike up the bottom of the narrows (essentially just hiking around in a river for awhile). The visitor's center is swarming with people and it's blazing hot outside. We (Jim included) pile onto the tram and ride for 40 minutes up to our stop, fantasizing about the relief the cool river will bring from the heat. As we step out of the tram it starts to rain. It's not hot anymore. We get to the river and my mom and I are not about to step into the cold water to trudge up river in the rain and get cold. Dad and Christian head up river, Jim heads home, and we wait it out.

We eventually make our way back to the visitor's center and back on the long drive home, stopping to eat in Cedar City. On the plus side, the food in Cedar City was really good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moral Dilemma?

Today at Costco we were in the food line waiting for our delicious running-errands-with-mom-childhood-nostalgia pizza (fine, I was the only one getting delicious pizza, Christian thinks it's gross because Christian is a snob--he did get a gelato though, which everyone knows is a snobby thing to get xoxo). There was an old man in the line right next to us ordering a salad (who knew they had salads, and more importantly, who needs to know they have salads when there is pizza??), as I had nothing else to look at whilst awaiting my culinary delights, I observed silently as he completed his transaction.

The old man ordered one salad and two drinks--oh cute, wife-sharing possibilities--and handed the man at the register a ten dollar bill. When he was handed back his change the man glanced at it and said "that was a $20." That was not a $20, I thought, but waited. The young man at the register looked confused, glanced at the receipt and, clearly unsure of what to do said "oh . . . that's weird," followed by a quick "sorry about that" as he handed him an additional ten dollar bill. Judging by the look on register boy's face, he was not at all sure that the old man was right--which he wasn't. But what was he to do? Should he have argued with an old man at the front of a crowded Costco line? I sure wouldn't want to. Enter disrespect for the elderly and massive doses of social embarrassment.

Still though, Costco just forked $10 big ones over. That could buy you some serious goods at Costco, like three huge cartons of raspberries, or a three month supply of soy milk. Here's the real question: malicious intent or honest confusion? Sure, old people can be forgetful--well, all people can be forgetful--but maybe, just maybe he was taking full advantage of the strained social setting he knew would be created by his assertion. Probably not, but maybe.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Messy Merrymaking

Dad's Birthday: An illustrated Account

On May 1st, dad got even older than he already was. Unfortunately, on that particular day I was busy getting married and everyone else was busy celebrating my marriage, so we had to celebrate on the 30th. It was a joyous occasion--we laughed, we cried, we laughed so hard our bellies hurt . . .

Mom organized a family talent show of sorts, all dedicated to dad. First, Layla and MJ sang an adorable song just for grandpa (somehow this picture got deleted, sorry).

Next, Zachary treated us with a rousing PowerPoint presentation proving dad's superhuman ability to carry cities, companies, and even nations to success. There were graphs, it was all very legit.

Weston found this segment particularly enthralling.

Later, Angelica showcased her outstanding oratory delivering a well-crafted address detailing dad's influence on her life.

Julie and Liam co-authored a book all about dad (grandpa). I believe the creative rights to the illustrations are the sole property of Liam.

Then Courtney showed a book of Photoshop illustrations she had created of the poem Jabberwocky. Then dad showed his interpretation of the poem with his face.

Next I presented an excellent re-writing of one of dad's favorite poems, "If." It was really very touching.

Finally, we all gathered for what we assumed was the grand finale. Merritt recomposed the lyrics to "Piano Man" and Sam accompanied on the guitar. Everyone sang along and things were getting pretty emotional (a rarity among the Aho clan). Just as everyone started really getting into it there was a disturbance in the corner. Half of us continued singing while the rest watched in horror as MJ began uncontrollably spewing the contents of his stomach onto his mother. At first the song continued--no one really sure of the protocol for this kind of situation--and a few still blissfully unaware of the events unfolding at the other end of the couch. Eventually the musical number broke down into stifled laughter from some of the more irreverent Ahos (myself included), rushing of aid to Stacie who had made an unsuccessful attempt at catching MJ's contribution with her shirt and then her hands, and some delayed crying from MJ once he realized what was happening. Grand Finale: check.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Home Remedies

Ok, I know that I should probably blog about marriage/graduation/wedding etc. but that will all come later. Because what I really want to blog about today are the wonders of the Internet! I've been sick the last few days (bleh) and today I woke up with horrible ear pain. Somewhere in between clutching my head and stumbling from my dose of Nyquil last night I got online desperately seeking some relief. Within a couple of minutes I had dozens of solutions at my fingertips, complete with discussions and commentary. I found it all on this great website:

It's great and I highly recommend it. In no time I was pouring warm olive oil into my ear canal and holding steaming bowls over the side of my head. Perfect if it's late at night and you can't get to the doctor, you don't want to pay a million dollars for urgent care, or if you're just into household experimentation.