Month: July 2007

  • I swear, those cooking shows are going to be the death of me.

    Well, of my ego, at any rate.  This evening Don and I watched Iron Chef Challenge or something like that, where Iron Chef Bobby Flay took on some other chef dude - Paul Lang? - where they were given a "secret ingredient" then one hour to prepare multiple dishes with it for the judges' delectation and enjoyment.

    When the secret ingredient was about to be revealed, Don and I leaned forward a little, intent on finding out what on earth it could be.  The chefs were tense with anticipation, eyes glued on the large covered container which was - at last! - grandly opened to display.........chickens.

    Yup.  The "secret ingredient" was chicken.

    We thought that to be a bit of a let down.  I mean, you know....chicken?  If there's a ubiquitous food in America, it has to be chicken.  What the heck's so darn secret about that?

    Still, the competing chefs didn't stop to ask "You're kidding.  That's IT?", they began grabbing chickens by the armload and literally running with them to their respective cooking areas.

    One hour later they laid in front of the judges a superlative selection of chicken dishes, at least one of which involved pork fat that had been screwed to a board, and another with sea urchins. 

    If I'm not going to eat shrimp, it's a sure bet I'm not going to eat sea urchins.

    However, the primary point is that given exactly sixty minutes the two of 'em were able to create, cook, and plate three or four separate dishes (though admittedly they also each had a helper, which heaven knows I don't have, as what's usually heard in my kitchen is "Will y'all please get OUT? I'm trying to work!").

    Give me a chicken and an hour before it's to be served and I'll be hunting for either a box of Chicken Helper or else will settle for plain roast chicken.

    It's demoralizing, that's what it is.

  • Alex, you're being double-dog-dared. >;^>

    I know, it's terrible.....your own mother!

    However, living in Japan as you do, you are uniquely positioned to report back to those of us Stateside what this particular Pizza Hut pizza is actually like:


    Doubtless your Japanese isn't yet up to the task of deciphering what's written up there, but according to, it says: 

    Pizza Hut Japan's exclusive Double Roll pie is 646 calories
    per slice, with little bacon wrapped sausages littered across the
    crust, and mini hamburger patties on top of the mushrooms, soy beans,
    corn, paprika, garlic chips, green peppers, and pepperoni. As for
    cheese, it has mozzarella, cheddar and parmigiana. BTW, this comes with
    ketchup and maple syrup for extra flavor, and is recommended for kids.

    Ketchup and maple syrup?  I'll just bet it is recommended for kids.  Why, Hannah'll be all over it. 

  • Ah HA! My turn has come.

    Charles just handed over the final "Harry Potter", declaring it to be "759 pages of pure excitement."

    Well.  Hard to beat that

  • The La Brea Tar Pits...

    ....are in downtown Los Angeles, and are pits of liquid asphalt in which hundreds of fossils have been found, such as mammoths.  Methane gas bubbles up through it, like this:

    Here are some additional photos:



  • A couple of videos...

    ...from the trip; I apologize that the quality's not terrific but the last time I took videos with the S3 the files were too large to be uploaded, so I lowered the size.  Maybe there's an in-between setting?

    Anyway, they're both short; the first is Dan's platoon resuming its final run....he's over on the right shortly after it begins:

    Here's the reason we were in San Diego!  Dan receiving his emblem; he's partly blocked by the DI, unfortunately:

  • We're back!

    We had a terrific time!  Thanks to the Waybourns for allowing us to share Dan's Marine recruit graduation with them.  ;^)

    On Wednesday we arrived in San Diego, got our rent car, which turned out to be a brand new Chrysler Sebring convertible instead of the Jeep Liberty Don had requested, and checked into the La Quinta suite in which we were staying in San Diego.  We headed out to explore a bit, choosing the Old Town Quarter of the city, which is the original part of San Diego.  We ran into a problem, however, when Don accidentally backed into a dumpster, damaging the Sebring's right taillight and scuffing the bumper.  Oops!  And he hadn't opted for the rental company's insurance, so while Dmitry and I wandered around the square, Don spent 45 minutes on the phone with our insurance company, alerting them to the mishap.  The good news was that our liability covered the damage, though it wouldn't cover any loss-of-use charges.  The rental place was closed by then, so the problem was shelved until the next day, and we went to eat dinner at one of the Mexican (what else?) restaurants on the square.  Dmitry had a shrimp burrito, of all the appalling things, but liked it. 

    The next morning we were up at a frightfully early hour, having been warned that it's best to arrive at the base very early, as the traffic to get in backs up all the way to the freeway due to the intense security measures.  No kidding!  When we arrived at the security checkpoint, we were ordered (nicely) to get out of the car, leaving the doors open - including the hood and trunk - and the key in the ignition, then move over to the barricade while the car's searched.  This was done for every single vehicle that arrived.  We got there way early, but were glad to miss the inevitable line that was going to be created.  After watching the platoons practice on the parade deck, we went to have coffee, then perused the Marine museum.  The Waybourns were staying on base, so they showed up later in the morning, and finally it was time for our first glimpse of Dan since April, as the recruits took their final run:


    After this run there was a film and such in the theatre, which Laura attended while I went to find batteries for my Flip Video, which wouldn't turn on.  Just bought the darn thing on May 1st, and it'd been working fine, but all of a sudden it wouldn't turn on!  Batteries didn't help.  Most frustrating.  Fortunately the Canon S3 takes videos nicely, too.  Soon we were in the stands and here came the platoons, including 1015, which was Dan's.  The LORD was gracious and placed him up front for us, to our intense pleasure; here he is right after having received his emblem for his cover (hat to the rest of us):


    Dan getting reacquainted with Lucas:


    I love this photo of Laura!  Doesn't "Happy Mama!" just shine from it?


    The Waybourns kindly allowed Dmitry to hang with them on Thursday afternoon and evening, so Don could deal with the rent car situation.  Believe it or not, Thrifty marked it as "no damage" and swapped it for the desired Jeep Liberty!  It's my belief they did this because Don had been so proactive, contacting his insurance company and having everything ready for Thrifty when he got there.  Most likely this made a pleasant change from the norm.  In any event, they shrugged off the damage as "minor" and "easily fixed", so our insurance isn't having to pay for it.  Yippee!

    Don did, however, go ahead and pop for the rental company's insurance for the Jeep.  Said he did not want to have to call Farmer's again. 

    While Dmitry had a picnic in the park for supper with Dan and his family, Don and I wandered around Little Italy, eating a lovely dinner at one of the local Italian restaurants. Tell you what, the flora in Southern California is simply gorgeous! 


    We met up with the Waybourns over on Coronado, where Dmitry and Joe had a great time splashing in the surf, and getting wet and sandy:


    This was Dmitry's first time at the ocean, and he liked it better than he'd expected.  Do you know, though, there are goofballs who go night surfing?  Fact!  We saw a few of them out there.  That doesn't seem terribly intelligent to me.

    The next morning we were back at the Marine base for the Official Graduation Ceremony, which was very nice though we all agreed we preferred the emblem ceremony of the previous day.  Friday's was long, with speeches, etc.  After liberty was announced, we gathered for a few pictures before the families went their separate ways, the Waybourns hitting the road back home, and us driving north to Los Angeles.  Here's a photo of Dmitry and Lucas; Lucas was determined Dmitry should wear Joe's cowboy hat:


    Dmitry and Dan, together at last:


    Laura kindly snapped a photo of us with Dan:


    On our way up to LA we stopped at San Juan Capistrano, where again the beautiful plant life of the area was displayed:


    Friday night we managed to find the Russia Restaurant (that's its name) in the Hollywood area, having had some difficulty due to traffic because of a Dodgers' game going on.  It was a very nice restaurant with a great trio singing Russian songs.

    On Saturday we visited the La Brea tar pits, one of Don's favorite things to see in Los Angeles:


    That afternoon we went to Long Beach to see the Queen Mary, where Dmitry took this photo of Don and me:


    We didn't go onto it, but next to the Queen Mary is a Russian submarine, the Scorpion:


    While waiting for our flight at the San Diego airport on Sunday, we were all surprised to see an ad with someone who could easily be Dmitry's stunt double, were he ever to need one:


    Whoever that is isn't identical, but there's a strong likeness.

    It was a great trip, but we're glad to be home.  

    Especially Dmitry, who forgot to bring his phone's charger, and who played both his DS and my DS lite to the point their batteries died on the flight home.  

  • It's late and I've just got a couple of minutes....

    ....but Dan's officially a Marine!  This morning was the emblem ceremony, where he received his emblem to put on his cover ('hat' to us civilians).  Here he is with Zhenya, Dmitry and Joe (holding Lucas).  Doesn't he look super?

    Lovely day! I'll tell more when I get home.

  • Hello from San Diego!

    Our flight was beautifully smooth and uneventful, just as a flight should be.  San Diego is a lovely city, and a whole lot bigger than we'd expected.  We drove over to Coronado Island, thinking we'd explore the Hotel del Coronado, but seeing as how they want ten bucks for visitors to park for two hours, we decided to pass.  It's a nifty-looking hotel, though.

    This evening we went to San Diego's Old Town to poke around and do a little shopping:

    Here are Dmitry and Don perusing the finger puppets in a store:

    Okay, Don's perusing them; Dmitry seems to have been checking out some stuffed animals.  To the left of and behind Don's head you can see a keen stuffed bat.  I love bats so bought myself one. 

    We ate dinner at the Cosmopolitan there in Old Town, which is a Mexican food restaurant.  Dmitry had a shrimp burrito, if you can imagine such a thing.  Yuck!

    Tomorrow we've got to get up super early so as to get out to the Marine Recruit Depot or base or whatever it is.  Guess it'd help were I to look up exactly where it is we're going, huh?

    Think I'll go do that....


    P.S. I almost forgot!  Laura called this afternoon to say that shortly after they entered San Diego county, Joe officially finished high school!  He'd taken his work with him, you see, and has been diligently working away on it during the drive from Fort Worth.  Congratulations, Joe!

  • Okay, that was pretty funny.

    "That" being the story about the special forces who, while parachute training last week, managed to miss their target by three miles and gracefully floated down into a Colorado prison's cornfield.

    The prison guards were doubtless dismayed to find heavily armed military forces dropping out of the sky shortly before 5 a.m. last Thursday, but fortunately someone noticed the military uniforms worn by the invaders so the guards held their fire.  It's believed the mystery intruders were either Navy Seals or Green Berets, but the Defense Department is keeping mum about it.

    Don't you know someone had egg on their face, and it will be a long time before they're able to live down leading their troops into an inadvertent invasion of the Fremont Correctional Facility? 

  • Mysteries belong in books, not in my house.

    We leave on Wednesday for San Diego to see Dan graduate, right?  So while walking through Sears on my way back to my car after getting my hair cut, I spied a pair of lightweight crop pants on sale.  They fit, so I bought them.  Now I had two plastic from Sears with my pants, one from Penney's with a couple of T-shirts for Dmitry.  Put them on the front passenger seat in my van, carried them into the house and set them on the dining room table, which acts as a catch-all, at least until dinner time.  Called out to Dmitry to come see his shirts.  Left the pants in the bag on the table.

    Me being me, I left them there while I went to the grocery store. 

    Top and bottom of it is, while at Target I saw a shirt on sale that I thought would go with them, so bought it.

    Went to try the outfit bag on the table.  Looked everywhere.  Asked Dmitry to check his room to make sure it hadn't inadvertently found its way back there.  Nope.

    I've checked the car (which was stupid, really, as I clearly recall putting both the bags on the table).  Checked my bedroom.  Looked on all the chairs in the dining room.  Under the table, even.

    They've vanished.