Posts Tagged ‘experiences’

The creators, the inventors, the doers

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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I’ve always admired people who can make something. Maybe it’s gadgets or maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s art or maybe it’s crafts. It just amazes me when they can take their skills to produce an end result that we can use or enjoy again and again.

For years I wished I could be a creative. Come up with things, produce things that others would admire me for. In fact, recently I’ve been contemplating YouTube videos. Putting content out there that people could listen to and relate to, now that’s creation! I looked in admiration at all types of people who had found their passion as a child, couldn’t stop creating, and eventually followed a path to put out amazing things. “What about me?” I thought as I reflected on skills I wish I had, like making soap or cooking or singing or dancing.

Yet all this time, I never realized that I have been creating. This very blog, in fact.

For some reason, because it’s not something I can open up an Etsy shop for or record a video or audio file of, I never considered it creating. Why did I not see it earlier? This IS content, and truly one of the original forms. And I (*gasp*) am creating it! Whoa.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been writing for so much of my life that it became the norm. I don’t even notice all I’ve written. At 10 years old, I began keeping a daily journal. 13 years later, I stopped upon meeting Panda, but by then I had been blogging on the side. So then blogging started to take hold until it became the primary way I kept track of my life. I’d share thoughts and experiences and now it’s become a place for my memories. Whenever I want to share something with friends, I can easily do a search of the 2300+ entries on my blog to pull up a post. It’s very much a part of me and an extension of me.

This is what I’ve realized: I am creative. I write blog posts. I am inventive. I constantly think of new topics to share. I am a doer. I built and manage the website for it all.

#proud

On not feeling good enough

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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We all get to a point where we feel like a failure. Maybe you haven’t gotten there yet. But the longer you sail through life without smacking into a wall, the harder it will be to adjust and overcome.

That’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

Academically, life was pretty much a breeze up until high school. It got a bit tougher then, but I still graduated in the top 10% of the class (or was it 5%?). I got into a respectable college – UCLA – and began my undergraduate career. The first year, things were pretty good. I managed to get over a 3.5 GPA so I made the Dean’s Honor List and joined ALD/PES (the National Honor Societies). My second year, the grades slipped a bit. Perhaps I was distracted by pledging for my fraternity, AKPsi. My third year, I studied abroad in the UK and my grades kept going down. I figured that the different grading system and structure might have contributed. When I came back for my fourth year, the trend only continued. At this point I might have begun to realize that as classes got progressively harder, I wasn’t adapting.

It took me a long time to figure out what was happening. The lesson I learned about myself is that all those years of doing it on my own and having learning come easily did not prepare me to know how to handle adversity. In one of my last classes before graduating, I was actually afraid of failing the class. An absolutely scary prospect for someone who spent most of her education getting A’s. So in desperation, I asked my roommate for some help. She was also in the class and got the concepts way better than me. And you know what? She was able to explain things to me in a way that really helped my understanding! It was amazing.

Ironically, when I was younger, I tutored and mentored children. I did not realize the impact that could have had on them. I figured I was just helping out, spending some time with them and sharing some knowledge. It wasn’t until I was on the other side of the table that I learned the power of extra help. I’ve never been tutored in my life. I’ve never gone to the teacher for help. I can’t really remember truly engaging in a study group either. I thought study groups were for people to sit in the same area and do their own work. After over 15 years of schooling, I finally began to see the impact of having support.

It’s not like I didn’t know about support being out there. I just never associated it with myself. I had never learned how to reach out and use the resources out there. I hadn’t known to ask for help.

Is that strange? Am I alone in this? Or perhaps it is more commonly an Asian thing?

Whatever the case, looking back at my college track record makes me feel pretty awful. Had I known how to empower myself with better learning, what would I have gotten? Could I have graduated with honors, with distinction? Panda’s college story tells almost the exact opposite story. He started off a little lower than me, but as he got into the upper division courses, he got better. He was hitting his stride with classes in his major that was really fit for him. I wasn’t finding the joy in diving deeper into my chosen majors. Maybe I should have double majored in something else. Maybe I should have majored and minored instead. But maybe it was that one factor all along, that I just didn’t know how to ask for help or how to identify when I needed it in the first place.

I’ve learned since then and I hope it’s not too late to apply that to my next academic pursuit. I still find it hard to reflect on how I’m doing and get help when I need it. Being aware of the issue is only half the battle. It takes a conscious effort to continually address it so it’s not neglected.

Now I certainly hope that you don’t have to face extreme adversity in your life. Yet by experiencing that low in life, you learn a lot and you grow from that. So in a way, I hope that you do face challenges, so you can build up your resiliency.

In fact, that reminds me of when Panda failed for the first time. It was a training program and he made a mistake that meant he didn’t pass the course. He had to do the whole program over again at a later date. I remember he called me sounding so dejected. He did not handle it well. The amount of stress and worry was far more than necessary, but I think because he hadn’t really experienced failure before that, he didn’t know how to deal with it. It just made him feel like he couldn’t do it at all. Luckily, we talked through it, did not let it get out of proportion, and built up his confidence again so he could pass the next time. It really takes experience to go through something like that and learn the hard-won lessons of how to be better.

So if you ever feel like you’re a failure or you’re not good enough, remind yourself of what you can learn by pushing through it and growing with it. The lessons from the experience will be more valuable than the ultimate outcome. That’s what I’m doing now as I apply for b-schools. It’s tough but it will be worth it!

A freezing office was killing our productivity

laelene Posted in general blog, lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , ,
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For months, the temperature of the office was almost a daily topic of discussion. It was always freezing for at least half of us, and a comfortable cool for the others. It got to the point where I had to wear at least two jackets in the office (which was pretty ridiculous considering it was blazing hot outside). Why waste all that energy to overcompensate for the external heat? Why does it always get SO cold in offices in the summer? It’s really counterproductive.

I would spend my days chugging hot water. The moment I stopped, I’d feel the numbing cold and have trouble focusing on anything else. It was dreadful to spend so much of my work hours uncomfortable and even in pain at times. Those of us who were cold were constantly thinking about how to stay warm, which couldn’t have been good for our productivity. I mean, I actually brought in a blanket that I put on my chair and wrapped around my legs when I worked. Many of us had little heaters at our desks as well, but after one blew a fuse, they weren’t allowed anymore.

Every couple of days, our office manager would call in the maintenance guys who would tell us everything was fine and the temperature was not abnormally low. Tell that to our icy cold hands. Finally, one day one of the sales folks joked about it being like a meat locker in the office – were we trying to keep raw meat from going bad? That sparked a discussion about how insanely cold it was and I shared an article about productivity in warmer temperatures. Some quotes from that article:

When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration, and insight.

A forthcoming paper from researchers at UCLA even shows that brief exposure to warmer temperatures leads people to report higher job satisfaction.

When we experience warmth, we experience trust. And vice versa.

We know that cold temperatures worsen productivity. What new research is showing is that it can also corrode the quality of our relationships.

Great workplaces aren’t simply the product of good organizational policies. They emerge when employees connect with one another and form meaningful relationships that engender trust. What’s often overlooked is that connections don’t operate in a vacuum.

It seems obvious that the temperature of a restaurant or theater can alter our experience. So why do we continue to neglect it in the workplace?

It makes sense after all, since if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the very basis of survival includes physiological needs. How could be possibly expect to be able to operate well in relationships and higher level thinking and work if we couldn’t even satisfy the innate need for body function? Obviously our resources would be redirected towards trying to alleviate that unmet need, not leaving much room for the work we were supposed to be doing.

After this rather lengthy discussion, complete with pictures of how people were piling on the layers to combat the cold, we finally got the thermostat changed. Suddenly, I could wear only one jacket, and a light one at that! Sometimes after drinking my mug of hot water I could even take off the jacket momentarily. It was amazing and immediately lifted the mood of all those who had been freezing before. Now temperature is hardly a consideration at work. Sometimes the office still feels cold, but not nearly as bad. Hopefully it will continue to stay at a steady 74 degrees or higher. Those who didn’t mind the cold before certainly don’t seem to be too hot in this new temperature.

I’m much happier and can actually focus on work without having to consider how to stay warm throughout the day. It’s pretty incredible that something pretty simple took so long to fix (and that it feels oh so rewarding). I no longer yearn to work from home just so I could feel my fingers when I type. Isn’t that glorious?

A soufflé dining adventure

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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While in Paris, Panda and I were looking for a popular and special place to have dinner. With much searching, he came across Le Soufflé – offering a completely soufflé experience. They had a three-course meal that was all soufflés!

We eagerly walked there after a long day of exploring and stepped inside to a cozy little entry. A gentleman approached and asked if we had a reservation. We did not, so we wondered what the wait would be.

“I’m sorry, we are booked for the rest of the evening,” he told us.

“When’s the next time you have an opening?” we inquired.

“All reservations for the night are taken,” he explained. “You can make a reservation for tomorrow lunch.”

Disappointed, we stepped out and considered our options for our meal. It was past 9 and many restaurants were closing within the hour. We returned to the hotel to get online and search for somewhere else with soufflés.

With little success, we went to ask the concierge. He immediately recommended the restaurant we had been turned away from. We started telling him how they were booked, but he was already dialing their number. At first it seemed like they might give us a reservation, but then he started shaking his head. Fully booked. :-/

So he began calling a variety of other options asking if they at least served dessert soufflé. Finally, one place said yes – but it was not walking distance and we did not want to take a taxi. So as things looked more and more dismal, I was about ready to just eat at the hotel. Then, out of the blue, the concierge tells us we can go to Le Soufflé!

What?! We were confused. Apparently he had called them two more times and they had a cancellation, so we got in! We quickly rushed over the half mile or so to the restaurant and arrived aright round 10.

At first we planned on getting a set each, but upon seeing the size of the soufflés, we decided to share a single three-course meal. It was 37€ so we were happy to save on the cost too.

le souffle contact card with map of location

le souffle free bread, butter, and water to start the meal

We began with bread, butter, and water included in the meal.

le souffle artichoke & haddock appetizer souffle

The appetizer soufflé was the artichoke haddock, with pieces of both. It was very savory with that fish taste and a slight hint of tartness from the artichoke.

le souffle side salad

The side salad came with the first course.

le souffle chicken & mushroom main course souffle

Our main course was the chicken and mushroom. The chicken gravy came separately and we poured it bit by bit as we ate the soufflé. It reminded me of a chicken pot pie (which I had been craving) with a soft, fluffy top rather than a flaky crust.

le souffle chocolate dessert souffle

And to wrap it up was a classic chocolate soufflé, which came with a chocolate sauce to pour in. There was a graininess to it that I quite enjoyed. It was very sweet!

This was a fun dining experience and the meal felt very satisfying, even with such light food. I think ait’s  great thing to try for anyone new to the city. 🙂

Do you know what to do in a power outage?

laelene Posted in how to guides, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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The back story…

Yesterday morning I was woken up from a dream by Panda’s voice. It took me some time to figure out he was trying to talk to me. “The power’s out,” he said. Huh? That woke me up a bit He explained it had been out since 1 and asked if I knew how to open the garage door. I explained it to him and settled in for some more sleep before I had to get up. Moments later, his phone started ringing. The neighbor was calling to ask for helping opening her garage door.

Panda went to practice on our door first, and then called me to help make sure it was done right. For some reason, ours was not staying up once you pushed it. It took a lot of maneuvering to get it to a precarious position where it didn’t start sliding down. Luckily, the neighbor’s was working fine and stayed up the way it should. We both backed our cars out of the garages and Panda went off to work. The neighbor then asked me with help closing the garage door.

It was pretty high and took a little jumping to grab the handle and pull it back down. Once in place, I pushed in the manual lock to keep it in place and we went through her home so I could leave from the front door. She decided to show me the lighter she placed by the gas stove, explaining that she had no idea she could still use the stove! Panda had explained that to her. Then she did something that showed me she really hadn’t gone through power outages before – she opened the freezer door wide open.

She wanted to show me the ice packs she was afraid would melt and start leaking. I quickly got her to close the door and explained that if she kept her fridge and freezer sealed, they can retain their cold temperature for hours. I made sure to emphasize to NOT open either door until the power came back on.

This experience was surprising for me. I thought everyone knew the basics of what to do (and what you can/can’t do) in a power outage. While power outages aren’t commonplace in the US, they certainly do happen here and there, whether due to equipment failures or weather conditions. Haven’t we all been through one at some point? Perhaps not. So with Hurricane Joaquin and other impending weather conditions likely to cause a lot of flooding, it’s likely there will be more power outages up and down the eastern seaboard.

Are you prepared for a power outage? Here are my tips and suggestions:

Before the Outage

-Prepare supplies. This includes everything from extra food (canned or dry goods) and water to flashlights and candles. Don’t forget those long reach lighters! Make sure to have some warm clothing and/or blankets available if temperatures have been cooling in your area as they have been here.

-If you have any sort of health concern, have tons of medication or equipment pieces ready to use. If what you need requires power, it might be best to go somewhere that will have a backup generator and professionals who can help you.

-Get a battery/solar/hand crank powered radio. In case your phone signal has issues, this can allow you to get news.

-Try to fill up on gas now so you aren’t in crazy lines later. Just in case you need to evacuate (and assuming you can actually drive out of the area).

-Speaking of evacuating, throw together a “go bag” with power bars, some water, clothing, and other items you’d need if you have to make a quick run for it.

-Charge up devices, battery packs, and anything else that needs or stores power. It’s always better to have plenty of backups.

-Transfer some ice packs to the fridge to help keep the temperature down in there during the outage.

-When anticipating a storm, bring in anything from the outside that might get damaged or blown away.

-Gather up some books, board games, and other activities you can do without any electricity.

During the Outage

-Once there is an outage, be sure to unplug devices hooked up directly to the wall. Turn off any surge protectors just to be extra safe. Larger things like fridges and microwaves should be fine, so no need to go climbing in some dusty area trying to unplug those.

-Do not open the fridge or freezer doors! Feel free to throw down a rag by the freezer door to absorb any leakage from melting ice, but don’t look in there until the power has come back on.

-If it’s light out and not crazy windy or rainy, go outside and enjoy! If it is raining heavily and that’s why the power went out, grab a book and read by the window or spend some time chatting/playing games with your loved ones.

-Use the radio to stay tuned to any emergency news, especially potential evacuations or worsening conditions.

-If it’s dark out, snuggle up in a blanket, light some candles, and enjoy the peaceful flickers of light. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a little extra rest and sleep early!

-To open the garage door, pull firmly down on the red thing dangling down. This releases it and allows you to manually pull the door up. If you push it past your head and as far up as you can, you should be able to get it to stay there. To close, grab the handle (you might need a chair to help) and start pulling the door down. Make sure you support the weight and bring it down in a controlled fashion so it doesn’t slam down to the ground. From the inside, there’s at least one side with a metal bar that you can push to lock the door in place so someone from the outside can’t open it. Secure that in place and you’re done!

-For those with gas burners, when you try to turn on the flame and hear that clicking noise, light up a flame and stick it by the burner. It will catch the natural gas on fire and allow you to heat up food. Be careful not to get too close when lighting.

-Depending on the severity of conditions, carefully ration the food you eat so you don’t rush through it all. Same with the water supply, if your piping is affected and the water gets contaminated.

After the Outage

-Open up the fridge and check for anything that might have spoiled, depending on the length of time the power was out (say, more than 4 hours). If anything is above 40 degrees, it might be spoiled. The freezer can last up to 48 hours by some accounts, so your food should be ok if the outage wasn’t long. If you’re concerned, feel how warm the food is and make your judgement call on what to keep or toss.

-Replug anything that you’d unplugged and turn those surge protectors back on. Do a spot check of lights around the home. They should work, but you never know.

-Those with garage doors, you can pull the metal lock out and press the garage door opener. The piece will move until it clicks back into place and then you can open and close the door electronically like before.

-And then you can start moving everything else back into their original places too!

-Be sure to restock on anything that got low so you’re prepared for the next one.

 

I’ve shared what I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve never had flooding, so you’ll find that area lacking in my points. Let me know if I missed anything else! I personally like a minor power outage since it forces us to live more simply for a little while.

Pain and discomfort

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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The past two weeks have been pretty brutal. Ever since coming back from vacation, I’ve been dealing with a slew of (mostly) skin-related issues. Rashes, bumps, itching, swelling… it makes it hard for me to move and do things at times. In fact, after being out for three hours today (and moving veeery slowly), I was ready to call it quits. I couldn’t take any more pit stops or detours and we had to head home.

Unfortunately it’s not great at home either – I’m applying creams and salves left and right, eating medicine, applying ice packs. A few times a day the itching gets so bad I can’t help but scratch until I’m red and likely just exacerbating the problem. It seems that as soon as the creams are applied, the soothing effect diminishes to null. What a miserable way to spend the day, always uncomfortable or hurting!

I’ve never had so much of my skin feeling so raw and tender before. It’s difficult to find any position that doesn’t hurt this or that. I’ve been waking myself up in the early morning when I subconsciously start scratching and the pain gets to me. Have you experienced this before? The best I can hope for is a quick healing process and enough distractions in the mean time to keep my mind off it.

Now even Panda is having some problems: he woke up this morning with a swollen knuckle and two giant bug bites. Is there some skin condition bug thing going on for us? It better go away soon!

A string of travel troubles

laelene Posted in stories,Tags: , , ,
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For the past two weeks, my family has been struck by some really unfortunate incidents. It started exactly two weeks ago, when we happily drove from the hotel to Pier 91 in Seattle. My parents, husband, aunt, cousin, and I were set to embark on our week-long cruise to Alaska. After dropping them off, Panda and I drove to the nearest rental car location to drop off the car. The plan was to walk back to the pier, which was about 3 miles away. As we were enjoying the day, debating whether we should take a bus for part of the trip, I got a phone call from my parents: my aunt and cousin would not be allowed on the cruise.

It was one of those surreal moments where I thought, “Could this actually be happening?” But indeed it could and it did. Turns out they needed Canadian visas since there was a stop in Victoria, BC. We were never informed of this and didn’t even realize there was a Canadian stop along the way. It was too late to do anything at that point, so I started looking up last-minute flights to Oakland, where my other cousin was. We found the nearest bus stop and got to the pier as quickly as possible. On the way, I managed to find a decently priced flight that afternoon. It was pretty devastating to see my aunt and cousin for the last time, having to send them off to the airport when we should have spent a week together on our “family honeymoon” (as I called it).

That totally changed the tone of our trip and it just wasn’t the same. We still managed to enjoy ourselves, but not nearly as much as we could have.

Upon arriving home after the vacation, I then heard from my mom that my dad nearly missed his flight back to China. They overestimated the time they had and he barely got let on the plane while his luggage was not allowed. So my mom had to ship the contents separately. We’re having some bad luck, my mom told me, don’t go out if you don’t have to and let it blow over. She felt that we needed time for the pattern to break.

The next day, I was thinking about my upcoming plans (and the other big vacation of the year, to Europe) when I suddenly realized that a week of team events at work coincided with my grand vacation. The very week that my team lead had asked us to check our availability for was the week that I’d be gone for my trip. I can’t believe I had not made the connection earlier; everyone had likely already booked their flights. I felt absolutely awful and didn’t know what to do. I considered the costs of rearranging the trip, but with multiple flights and some prepaid hotels, it would be too much. This was my first big screw-up and I profusely apologized when I told my team lead. Luckily, he’s a very chill guy, so he didn’t make a fuss about it. I still feel bad though, and irresponsible.

So then I thought that maybe things were on the up and up. When my mom told me about my aunt losing her bag and having it stole in SF, I thought the troubles were back. But then it turns out the thief got hit by a car (what?!) and the police were able to return her purse when the processed the scene. Wow. And I did get a smile first thing Monday morning, when I had a gift on my desk: a bag full of cat toys. One of the guys who worked in our co-working space dropped it by over the weekend. Last Friday was his last day (of course his two weeks had to be during my vacation) and he’d been meaning to bring his extra cat things, but he kept forgetting. So I was super surprised when it actually showed up!

I’m hoping that this all means the unfortunate circumstances will stop plaguing us now. I’m generally a pretty lucky person, so I’d like things to return to normal.

One LONG day

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , ,
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5:30 AM: Woke up and got ready for the day.

6 AM: Checked out and drove to MCI/KCI (Kansas City Airport), with a minor bit of disorientation along the way.

6:42 AM: Returned rental car and caught shuttle to terminal.

7 AM: Settled in at gate for 8:05 flight.

7:30 AM: Mechanical issues prevent us from boarding.

7:50 AM: The flight gets delayed by 4 hours and I get my food voucher.

8 AM: I get a drink and turkey jerky, then return to the gate to find everyone standing in a gaggle. The flight was cancelled. -___-

9 AM: I notice text messages letting me know I was rebooked for a 2 PM flight to Houston and then a 5 PM to Dulles. After sitting around then waiting in line, I am put on standby for an 11 AM to Houston.

10 AM: My coworkers arrive for their 10:30 flight and I chat with them before they board. Nobody on standby gets on the flight (one poor woman was supposed to catch another airline to go to Italy, with this being her only other chance).

11 AM: The Houston flight is also completely booked and boarded. I get back in line for assistance. This time I’m put on standby for a 1 PM.

1 PM: I get called up for my ticket, but I hesitate because I’d gotten a first class upgrade on the 2 PM flight. The gate attendant recommends I just get on this flight in case something happens with the next one (you never know).

3 PM: We land in Houston after a mediocre flight in which the attendant completely skipped me for drinks after chatting up the lady next to me (who didn’t want anything). Ugh. Wasn’t even worth it since I didn’t really want to drink anything.

3:30 PM: I request standby for a flight into DCA that arrives an hour earlier than my 5 PM flight to IAD. Just want to get going! Gate attendant was rather rude about it, but did it for me.

4 PM: After a stressful 20 minutes waiting for my to-go order, I bring it and board the plane. Discover my seat is waaay in the back and not economy plus despite there being plenty of space. I run back up to the gate to ask for a better seat. Even though the only seat taken in row 7 was 7A, he puts me 7B, a middle seat. I sit in the aisle and then move over to the other window seat just as the captain gets on to tell us that we’re delayed until about 6:30 due to weather in DC. We de-board.

4:30 PM: I go over to the gate for the flight to IAD that I was originally on. I’m sent to the customer service desk, where thankfully there’s a premier access line with just two people. I get a seat back on that one, which is also delayed to 6:30 due to storms. I wish I’d taken the 2 PM flight and kept my first class upgrade. Alas, there easily could have been further delays or cancellations so I won’t dwell on it.

4:40 PM: Panda’s on his way home (it’s 5:40 Eastern) and I update him on what happened all day.

5 PM: I finally get to eat the tacos I got. First meal of the day.

6 PM: Board the plane and hope for a last-minute upgrade to first class. I keep checking and *boom* it happens! I happily go up to seat 1B.

6:30 PM: We head off and I realize how desperately I need a window seat next time. Neither side had their windows open and I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I’m not claustrophobic, but I do get some motion sickness when I can’t see the steadiness of the landscape outside. I also had a massive headache from artificial lights. I kept reminding myself that it was ok, we were staying level, and it’d only be three hours. A few times I thought it was a cross-country trip of 5 hours. I just tried to focus on playing games to stay distracted and eating the food that came along. Still, when I pulled up the flight map and saw we were over New Orleans, I really wanted to see what was outside!!

7:30 PM: I try to eat all the dinner, but my teeth are sensitive and I’m still full from my earlier meal.

8 PM: It’s cookie time! There’s something magical about a cookie that is heated up so it’s nice and gooey. Yum. The window in the row behind me has their window open and I can see some gorgeous colors of the sunset, with the outlines of some really cool clouds. I wish I’d been able to watch the light changing that whole time.

9 PM: We start our descent and the guy next to me finally opens the window! I notice a flash – what? I keep looking outside and it’s lightning! How jealous I am of what I missed.

9:30 PM (10:30 local): We land and I make my way out of the airport in record time.

11 PM local: We get home, finally. It’s 11 hours after I should have arrived and if I had driven straight from the hotel, I would have gotten home around the same time. What a day.

Shrieking kids in public

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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What are your thoughts on children who are playing in a restaurant, running amok and hollering at the top of their high-pitched lungs?

That’s what a good fifteen minutes of dinner was like for me last night. Exacerbating the fact was my exhaustion and stress over everything I needed to do after getting home. I already have no patience for children as it is, and I was not pleased that neither the parents nor the waitstaff said a thing. My friend and looked at each with eyebrows raised, cringing with each piercing shriek that filled the otherwise empty room. A boy of about eight was chasing around a boy of about three and the young one was having a grand old time challenging our eardrums.

The mother quietly spoke in Vietnamese as the other two adults ignored the situation. Perhaps they were used to this behavior, or perhaps they were mildly deaf (they did seem rather elderly). The kids paid no attention to whatever the mom said and that was that. Meanwhile the staff (only two were out) looked on and stood awkwardly with no sign of at least attempting to create a more pleasant dining experience for my friend and me.

I don’t know if it was because the place was Asian or maybe they knew the family, but I’m pretty sure a Western restaurant would have said something. I kept looking at the adults and the staff until I got tired of waiting. Then I resorted to my usual tactic: I stared solemnly at the children. Whenever kids are acting up in public, making a scene where it is disruptive to others (at least when I feel that way), I stare them down. If they catch my eye, they generally stop. Sometimes they might just be startled to realize someone is looking. Sometimes they figure out that they are being annoying. Whatever the case, it tends to be effective in getting them to stop yelling.

This time, the older child noticed me and then began to tell his brother to quiet down. They happened to be leaving at that point anyway, but I was glad for the noise reduction even before they made it out the door. Too bad the one causing a ruckus never saw me staring. Maybe then he’d learn to keep his play to louder environments or to more appropriate situations.

Would you ever be like I am and look at kids until they stopped screaming or crying? Or would you be even more straightforward and go speak to them or their parents? Maybe you’re like most others who sit and bear it with teeth gritted?

My pet Hawaiian shrimp

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Back when we were in Hawaii, I finally got myself a little Hawaiian red shrimp ecosphere. While I’d seen the crazy expensive closed systems before, I liked that the one I found includes a lid that opens. Just in case I need to feed them or change the water, right? So I happily bought the travel set, which included the jar with sand and a fake little plant plus a separate plastic bottle with the shrimp and some blue pellets (food, I presume). All I had to do was put it in my checked bag for transport back home!

I also decided to get a set of snails to add to my new little ecosystem, just to help clean the water. While in Hawaii, I kept them in the bottle together and spent hours watching them. The snails liked to hide up on the lid, out of the water. Whenever they did go down, the shrimp would immediately gravitate towards them and pick at their shells. They must have some tasty algae growing on those shells! When it came time to travel, I carefully wrapped the bottle in paper towels and put it in a box, just in case anything leaked. I then wrapped the box in some of my clothes to try to offer the best buffer between potential jolts and coldness.

Upon arrival many hours later (and a good 30-degree drop in temperature too), I gingerly opened everything and found minimal leakage of water. The shrimp and snails were just fine. I then set about setting up their habitat and enjoyed a beautiful jar to put on the counter or table. Check out the pictures below to show you what has happened since…

hawaiian red shrimp habitat in store

The original habitat I saw at the store! I couldn’t leave without my own.

hawaiian red shrimp eating off black snail shell

The shrimp, snails, and blue pellets in the travel bottle. Those shrimp loved following the snails around!

cat sniffing glass jar with sand and fake plant

Smokey sniffed at this mysterious new jar while I was putting it together.

hawaiian red shrimp and snails ecosphere self-sustaining ecosystem

I loved sitting and watching them. I mostly kept them on the coffee table or the island in the kitchen.

nerite snail eating in glass jar

After awhile, some shrimp and my snails died. The water began to get murky, so I got a nerite snail from the local pet store.


hawaiian shrimp and nerite snail timelapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

I did a timelapse video of the super active new snail and its four little shrimp friends! Little did I know what was about to happen…

spilled water and sand on hardwood floor

The very next day, disaster struck. Smokey clumsily jumped on the counter, but slid and took the entire box and the jar with her.

tools used for shrimp habitat spill cleanup

We painstakingly got the shrimp back in (one was already dead) and sucked the water back in the jar.

It was too much trauma and the water sucked back in was gross with dust and cat hair. Another one died promptly and I was so upset, until I realized that both my two remaining shrimp and snail are used to not just brackish water, but fresh water and salt water. They’re pretty good at adjusting to different levels of salinity, so I decided to clean out the jar and give them fresh water for awhile. Except I had no idea what sort of fresh water to use, so I used a water bottle. By the next morning, that seemed to kill the other two shrimp (or maybe they were already beyond help 🙁 ). And so it was just my poor little snail. Even it gave me a scare a few days later when I thought it had died. Thankfully, by that night it was climbing up the glass again.

After this happened, I immediately decided I needed to order some shrimp to replace the ones I lost and found Shrimp Mart after some searching. I felt they had really reasonable prices, especially when it came to shipping, so I opted for their 20 Opae Ula selection. I wanted to get their live Angel Hair Moss too, but they were out of stock at the time. Too bad! Maybe another time, or hopefully I can get some locally.

naughty cat laying in cage

Smokey was in a time out during our recovery and cleanup period.

packaging for mailed hawaiian red shrimps

The new shrimp arrived in the mail about a week later.

plastic bag with twenty-plus hawaiian red shrimp

Very well packaged! All shrimp were alive and they gave well over 20 (I think I counted 27, but with so many it’s hard to say).

I’m not sure what the pink thing is, but it seems to be a food source. I think it just allows algae growth on it and is just a sort of sponge that the shrimp wouldn’t eat. I carefully transferred the shrimp into the jar and the amount of water they came in was just perfect! I then noticed a strange thing squirming around, which I figured it couldn’t be parasitic or dangerous since it’d been in the bag with all the shrimp on the trip and they were fine.

hawaiian red shrimp larva in spoon

The strange worm-like thing jerking around turned out to be a larva!

over two dozen hawaiian red shrimp in jar with nerite snail

And now they’re happily settled in their new home. I’m thinking about splitting them into two for more space.

I need to make sure I get the right kind of brackish water for them before I use another container for some of them. I hope they don’t feel too crowded in this jar. I’ve since put the pink thing in with them, so they have a place to hide and eat from. And yes, I am much more paranoid about where I place the jar now. No place feels safe, even the ground!

hawaiian shrimp eating

Check out the video of them settled in their home!

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