le cahier de kev

le cahier de kev

adventures fresh off the press

A Step Forward Through Cooperation

It has been quite a month since the events of the previous entry.  At that time it was still pretty warm and everyone was getting ready for Halloween.  Just recently it was the presidential election in the United States.  Some people were happy with the results while some were not.  In the end, I think that it's just important for everyone to move forward and work to enact positive change.  


As someone who comes from a mathematical/scientific background, I favor more pragmatic approaches to things.  Rather than try to hinder others, I believe time, energy, and resources are better spent on developing solutions to economic, social, and foreign issues.  Even if we share different views or beliefs as others, it doesn't mean that we would be unable to work together with them.  It's a matter of sharing one's experiences and strengths with others who will likewise do the same that can help propel progress.  Cooperation is a step to build a better future.


Empire State Building shining in the country's colors on election night



(On a side note, I won't combine Part II of the museum pictures here.  It might end up getting messy so I decided to separate them for the next entry.)


I was able to get through a few books in the past month.  I enjoy reading to pass the time and these books really hit that spot.


I finished Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and Bossypants by Tina Fey in October.  I also reread The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.



The Most Dangerous Game was a captivating short story that I read back in high school.  It was a very quick read (I think it took me around 30 minutes to complete).  The presented story deals within the realm of the hunter becoming the "huntee" as he fights for survival.  I highly recommend checking it out.


Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey's books were a lot more lighthearted.  While Mindy's book discussed her work on shows she had worked on such as The Mindy Project, Tina's book made me smile and laugh more with her jokes and anecdotes.  Tina was very vivid with her stories about her many interactions with staff from SNL and 30 Rock, with friends such as Amy Poehler, and gave stories on how her father was a badass. haha  With Mindy's book, I really loved the detailed pictures and how her quirky personality came through the words of the book.


Both of their books were very enjoyable and I had a big smile on my face as I read while I was eating or sitting on the train.  These two women worked very hard to get to where they were and it showed the strength of their character.  There were also frustrations with the lack of clarity in terms of decision making for shows and balancing personal and professional lives.  Despite the hurdles that they had faced, they still moved forward with humor and perseverance.  I really admired those qualities as I read through their books.


Currently, I'm reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and The Singapore Story by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  In late October I started reading Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything, but I put it on hold once I acquired Anthony and PM Lee Kuan Yew's books.




The one thing I really admired from the two books (from what I had read so far) was their candid approach in their narratives.  With former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he had the enormous task to lead Singapore after its forced independence from Malaysia.  Just reading the background of his hard work was very inspirational.  He also showed that he was not perfect growing up.  In the book he mentioned that despite getting good grades, he would be tardy at times which led to him getting caned by the headmaster of the school.  I also read through his experiences during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.  This included how he navigated through the system to find work along with stabilizing means of survival (through basic necessities such as acquiring food as well as avoiding any conflict with the military which would have led to severe consequences).  I'm now on the chapter of his journey to complete his law studies in Britain and trying to get Kwa Geok Choo (the girl he was courting who would end up becoming his future wife) into Girton College at Cambridge.


You could sense the passion in his spirit navigating through all of these hurdles so that he can accomplish his goals.  It brought a smile to my face when I read how his hard work paid off.  He would find a way to get to his goal (whether it was through writing a letter to the school, contacting people whom he had previously worked with, or doing his research on a topic of interest) through his inquisitive nature.  One of the stories that came to mind was when he researched on what would be a product that would be in demand during the war (since he needed some financial earnings to support himself and his family).  He collaborated with a colleague Nyuk Lin who also graduated from Raffles College to make gum from tapioca flour and carbolic acid.  This highlighted his pragmatism to adapt to the changing environment through survival.


Lee Kuan Yew's experiences are applicable to the nature of the uncertainties of life.  When an unexpected life event occurs, we must adapt to the changing climate.  Similarly to how the world is evolving through the economic and sociopolitical demands of each country's society, we must always be prepared to keep an open mind and to listen to the voices of both our supporters and the opposition.  It's interesting to visit these thoughts since I remembered in an earlier entry that I wouldn't dive too deeply into politics.  In that sense, I won't lean towards one side while rebuking the perspectives of an opposing side.  What makes critical dialogue and the thought process enriching is the ability to hear out what both sides will bring to the table.  To those who are familiar with introductory calculus, I will use a mathematics example.


If I have a function f(x) = (x+1)(x+2), and I want to find the derivative.  There are two approaches.  I can either simplify through the FOIL method and then use the Power Rule to take the derivative of the function or I can keep the function as is and use the Product Rule.  The main thing to note is that both methods will lead to the same result.  Some people will prefer to do one method while others choose the other.  Neither one is better than the other.  It is just important that you end up with the correct result.  I do agree that in terms of policies, it may not be as clear cut.  However, both sides can contribute to shaping a course of action.


The main thing to note is that there are different perspectives out there and we must respect others' beliefs.  They may differ from ours, but that doesn't make them any less of a person.  As I had discussed earlier, instead of trying to find a way to checkmate the opposition, time would be better spent on producing a policy that is sustainable.  One of the common themes in these books is exactly that--overcoming conflict with those whom you may not agree with in order to move a project forward.  As my aunt would say, "It's quite inspirational!"


I'm still making my way through both books, but am really learning a lot about each of their struggles.  I enjoy both styles of their writing: while Anthony's book is a bit more brash in his approach to his descriptions, Lee Kuan Yew's approach is more eloquent and formal (as expected from a former head of government and the founding father of Singapore).


Things have been going well.  I had lunch with my aunt last Friday and we got to catch up after such a long time.  She's an absolute sweetheart.  We talked about family affairs, the current election, and our plans for the holidays.  What really touched me was that despite not getting to see each other as often, everything just flowed once we started talking.  We both had a huge smile on our faces as we caught up.  After our lunch, we promised to meet up again for another lunch date in the near future.  Ten minutes after I took her home she texted me with some sweet words and I texted her back, "Auntie don't cry...only tears of joy are allowed!"  She texted me back with a smiley and a heart.  It was very cute.


Auntie and Me



Thanksgiving is coming up and I'm excited to spend time with family.  To those of you in the United States celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are traveling, please have a safe journey.


The medical law and ethics handout will be up soon.  There is a lot of information pertaining to groups affected by abuse and violence, but I wanted to make sure that all of the important bullet points are covered before publishing it for the public.  Thank you very much for your patience.

A Day At The Museum Part I

Summer is finishing up and we're transitioning into autumn.  The last month had been great spending time with family, catching up with friends, and getting immersed with Steven Universe.  I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the story and how they fleshed out the characters for the current season.  I still remember seeing the creator Rebecca Sugar sing and talk during last year's Comic Con Panel.  It was my first time last year, but I was fortunate enough to see a lot of great talent and experience what Comic Con was all about.  It was quite overwhelming and there was so much to take in, but I had such a great time and met a lot of wonderful people.  I won't be attending this year, but maybe next year.  :)


My good friend Raizel and I met up in early August.  It was so nice since she's always here to show support to her children who are studying in the States.  It was nice to just talk and enjoy the scenery.  We didn't expect it to rain hard since the weather forecast stated that there may be a short drizzle.  Fortunately, we were inside the coffee shop when it began to rain.


We covered a lot of topics during our talk.  We showed each other food pictures, shared recipes. talked about family, and traveling.  One of the highlights of our conversation involved connecting with someone.  We discussed how with certain people you meet you can immediately "click" with them at the first meeting.  I'm sure many of you have experienced it where you talk to someone and everything flows naturally from the body language to the pace of the conversation.


We did take fun pictures together:


Smiles and Food at the café







It is fun sharing stories and enjoying each other's company.  This reminds me of a story that my high school American literature teacher told us.  She was having lunch with one of her good friends at a sandwich shop.  She said that the food was not good at all, but at the end of the conversation with her friend she noticed that she ate her entire sandwich.  Since she was so enthralled by the conversation and would take small bites from time to time, she didn't notice that she finished her sandwich.  Even if the surroundings or food may not be what we had expected, the company whom we are with can make a big difference.


So it was nice chatting with Raizel throughout the crazy weather.  We parted ways and planned to meet again over dinner at a later date.  As I called her to wish her a good night a few hours later, it started pouring as I was walking outside.  I quickly fumbled around my bag to open my umbrella.  We both had a good laugh out of it.


I also enjoyed some time off with family during the summer.  Family came to visit so we did the usual "touristy" things around New York.  It was going to be a day full of walking, but one place they wanted to see was The Museum of Natural History.  (Since there were so many pictures, I will divide this entry into two parts.  The first part will begin with the animal, space, marine, and geological exhibits.  Part II will look at the cultural, anthropological, public health, and dinosaur exhibits).


The first time I went was in 2009.  I forgot to charge my camera (I mistakenly thought that I had enough charge) and it died 15 minutes into the museum.  However, I was ready this time!  It was really fascinating, and I enjoyed taking my time looking at the exhibits.  I will let the pictures do the talking, but I definitely went full on "geek mode" when I entered the space exhibit.


Outside the Museum of Natural History



Dinosaur Bone Exhibit at the Lobby



Another View of the Dinosaur Bone Exhibit


Everything brought back memories.  I don't remember, but I think the admission fee was mandatory last time I went in 2009, but now it was pay what you would like.  After payment and getting our sticker badges, we headed inside.  Since everyone had different interests we all split up and planned to meet up at our designated spot in a few hours.


I started off at the animal exhibits (no they're not real lol).  I took a lot of pictures, but chose the ones that really stood out so that you won't have to scroll through a lot of them.


Alaska Moose



Grizzly Bear



The wildlife exhibits showcased many of the animals found in their usual habitats.  It was nice and I loved how the background highlighted their natural environment.


Afterwards, I went to the geological exhibit.


The Earth's History


Many of the exhibits showed weather patterns, different types of rock formations, and minerals (to name a few).  The screen displayed the current natural activity in the earth.  I took a shot of the current locations of earthquake activity.


Recent Volcanic and Earthquake Activity



After the geological exhibit, I went to the space exhibit.  There were a lot of fascinating things ranging from the moon to the stars and galaxies.  Before going down the stairs to see the exhibits, the first thing that I encountered was a figure of the moon.



Entering the Space Exhibit



The Moon



Information on the Moon



My weight on the moon: 22.9 lb (10.39 kg)


I loved the part where I weighed myself to see my weight on the moon!  From the moon, I went down the stairs and headed left to look at the information on galaxies.


Galaxies Exhibit


On the opposite side was the exhibit on stars.


Stars Exhibit


At the center I took a look at the star dust exhibit to read about its scientific foundations in the world today.


Star Dust Exhibit



I looked at the model planets and the space videos they played on the big screen.  Here is a shot of the Astronews information on the Sun.


Mercury passing between the Earth and the Sun



Image of the Whirlpool Galaxy



After the space exhibit, I went to the nature and floral exhibit.  I watched the potato diversity video of the Andes from the touch screen player.  It was nice since I got to sit down after walking so much. haha


Videos on Biological Documentaries 


This led to the exhibits on various flora.  I'm sure many of you are familiar with the big red flower on the top left.  It's the rafflesia which smells like rotting flesh.  If you played the game Animal Crossing, the rafflesia appears if you do not take care of the weeds in your town.


Various Flora


From there I headed to the arctic and marine exhibits.


Under The Sea!



Polar Bear








The Harbor Seal

Very adorable!



I love the ocean which is why I took my time looking at these exhibits and reading the information.  The atmosphere's lighting made it seem like you were at that place.



Magnified exhibit of Mosquito



I took a look at this mosquito exhibit because it discussed how insects played a role with spreading disease.  As you have heard recently, this summer Zika had been a problem as mosquitoes began spreading it in the Americas.  This exhibit discussed malaria and how it influenced the importance of public health in preventing the spread of the disease.



Jade Exhibit



The jade exhibit captured my attention as it had a lot of Buddhist works along with the science and history behind the trade, use, and formation of jade.



DNA Exhibit



The DNA exhibit looked into the genetics in which humans and chimps share similarities or have differences.  There was also a short explanation to the right on what DNA is and the basics of its components (e.g. nucleotide bases).



Comparative Genomics and Human Origins Laboratory



It was closed when I got there, but it reminded me of my laboratory courses during university.  Those were fun!


Ross Hall of Meteorites



I visited the Ross Hall of Meteorites to see the types of meteor formations in space.


Meteorites from an Asteroid


The above was one of the exhibits from the Ross Hall of Meteorites.  These meteorites came from the crust and core of an asteroid.  The details were informative and beautiful.


California Gold Exhibit



The California gold exhibit discussed the history of the gold rush in the mid 1800s when settlers came to California to mine for gold.  This was around the time when California became a state.


I continued looking at the mineral exhibits after reading up on the gold exhibit above.



Cuprite Exhibit



Fluorite Exhibit


It was really fascinating how the Earth can form such beautiful and unique geological wonders.  Just looking at the diversity in the colors and formations really makes you appreciate our world.  There were also a lot of minerals and gemstones that were exhibited.


Various Minerals





More Gemstones


Jade Artifacts


I loved that they expanded on the jade artifacts.  It brought back memories of when I took the East Asian Art class back when I was at university.



Brain Exhibit


The brain exhibit was a pleasant surprise as I was walking around.  I started off with my interests in behavioral neuroscience, but switched gears into public health and biomathematics.  The brain exhibit gave a brief overview of the role the brain plays (e.g. which side controls which function such as speech or movement).


The exhibits were still as fascinating as ever and the museum even had a public health exhibit called Countdown to Zero.  This will be covered in the second part of the entry.  This will be where I will finish Part I of the museum entry since there we covered so much already!


To conclude, I wanted to share a soundtrack with all of you.  The game is called Journey and the soundtrack was created by Austin Wintory.  The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful.  I highly recommend Track 1 (Nascence) and Track 17 (Apotheosis) because the songs can touch you on the inside.  However, I do think the entire sountrack is beautiful.  Click on the picture to listen to the Youtube playlist and support Austin's great work!


Journey Soundtrack



Snap, Cackle, and Pop!

I have a fun entry for July that I wanted to share with all of you.  The title of the post popped into my head because of the main topics in this entry: Snapchat, Kate and I cackling as we made videos, and pop music (but music in general).  


Summer is halfway finished and pretty soon the autumn leaves will fall to the ground.  One thing that stood out this summer was the comeback in popularity regarding Pokemon.  My friend and I were discussing it last week since her son was playing it.  Everyone has been enamored by Pokemon Go.  While we're on the topic of Pokemon, I have a Pokeball paper clip and staple holder that my brother gave me awhile back.  I think that it's adorable which is why it's a staple part of my desk.


Gotta Catch 'Em All, Pokemon!


I did play Pokemon when it first came out, and I remembered trading with my brother and friends to try to collect all of the original 150 Pokemon.  I did see Pokemon Go's gameplay from my friend's son, but I think I've Pokemon-ed myself out from the old games to start this one. haha  But I do think it's a nice little adventure though for those who are engaged in it.  As long as you play safely, certainly go for it!


Kate and I met up before she had to go back for her summer holiday.  It was nice because it wasn't too hot yet at that time.  There was a heatwave in the New York City area one week ago so it became really uncomfortable if you stayed exposed to the outside heat too long.  Fortunately, the rain came to cool things down for a bit.  My Tía and I were talking last week and we discussed how crazy the weather had been.  We had the heatwave and then a huge downpour.  We then laughed it off and talked about arepas to lighten the mood.


So back to my meet up with Kate.  She got me hooked on Snapchat that day.  We were playing around with the filters and snap options which turned into crazy shenanigans!  In some instances we tried to make serious faces, but it took several tries after we had a hard time containing our laughter.  We did face swaps and made some videos which I will share here.


Kate and I made a lot of Snaps, but here are a few that we made:


Top left: Kate and I as doggies

Bottom left: Face swapping with Channing Tatum

Right: Me as Raphael from TMNT


It was really fun and it passed the time.  I did not think Snapchat would be as addicting when Kate first told me how fun it was.  I promised her that when we met up we'd play around with Snapchat.  In the middle of our Snap session, a very nice tourist approached us.  She asked us if we could take a picture of her.  I took her picture and wished her a nice time during her stay here.  Who doesn't love a good picture?


We also tried to play around with the videos.  Here's the video that Kate and I made together (you can hear her laughing at the second clip when I was the zombie):



3 Parts in this clip:

(Part 1) Me as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

(Part 2) Me as a zombie

(Part 3) Me as a firefighter


Kate and I couldn't stop laughing when we were doing the videos.  The zombie one caught me off guard because I didn't know what to do or how to react.  I just opened my mouth while the app screamed for me.  For the rest of the snaps, all Kate told me to do was to look at the camera or open my mouth as we took them.  I tried to contain my laughter when I rewatched the zombie clip and our faceswaps with each other (we promised each other we wouldn't post those online haha) when I was on the train.


We then headed to Gregory's Coffee for an evening snack.  I got a small coffee and a brownie while Kate ordered a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie.  We caught up on how things were going and what she had planned to do for the summer.  She was going to do a bit more writing and rest before returning here to the States in the fall. It was nice inside the café because it was pretty mellow. Since it was on a weekday evening, it wasn't too crowded.  The patrons were all relaxing with their drinks while Kate and I continued telling our stories to each other.


Brownie and a small coffee

A nice treat!


After our evening snack, I walked her to the subway station and wished her a safe trip.  Since she's doing a lot more writing, I gave her a few books to read for her flight back.  We planned to see each other again in the fall/winter.


I have always found listening to radio to be very therapeutic.  If I'm driving at night I will usually have the station set to 106.7 Lite FM since it's more relaxing.  During the day, however, I usually have my own version of James Corden's Carpool Karaoke!


With my phone, I play the FM radio while I get typing done (usually when there's Wifi, I can't use up data!).  Although it's fun for me to listen to songs on my playlist while exercising or eating lunch, I've always enjoyed the random songs that pop in while I listened to the radio.  Sometimes I'll hear a song that I completely forgot about or I find something new for purchase.  I was happy to hear some of my favorite tracks such as the ones featured below.



Listening to some Maroon 5 @ 2 AM



106.7 Lite FM

The station I usually play at night in the car



Music has always been such a comforting thing for me.  Whether the situation was positive or negative, music still played an important role to help me reframe my thoughts.  I can certainly tell you that I remember being the angsty teenager who had to sort out my feelings as I listened to songs to find my "anthem" (oh adolescence haha)  But I can also tell you the song I listened to at the airport while I visited family or what was playing in the car when my friend and I went out for an end of the week dinner.  For example, one thing that comes to mind is that LeAnn Rimes' version of How Do I Live reminds me of sitting at the movie theater answering the Coca Cola trivia while waiting for the movie to start.  I think it all ties in with how I value memories (which many of you can see through this blog).


Also, I still have my old CD player and many of the CDs that I purchased in the late 90s/early 2000s.  I remembered how much batteries I had to use when I brought the CD player along trips.  For many electronics now all you have to do is charge them before you head out the door.  Very convenient indeed!


My old CD player and a few of my CDs


I bought the CD player from FYE.  I don't know if there are any left around here in the East Coast, but back then they were everywhere.  The FYE stores were usually found in every mall that I visited.  I do remember my brother buying me a Jelly Belly Blueberry scented gel case for my Ipod from the FYE near his old job since the FYE was going out of business.  That was around 5-6 years ago.


Although digital music is the main way people receive their music nowadays, I still enjoy going to a physical store to look around and admire the CD's album art.  When I went to look for my CDs at a traditional brick and mortar business, I would take my time to look around and sometimes find a CD that I planned to purchase but forgot about.  After buying the CD, I would sit down in my room, open the CD case, and look at the booklet attached to it.  It was filled with photographs, lyrics, and the special thanks and going through the booklet felt like an experience where I was getting to know the artist.  It did feel more like an activity that I engaged in as I placed the CD into the CD player and read the booklet while I focused on the music.  While digital music is pretty convenient (can you imagine having to lug around all of those CDs along with the CD player or having to change the batteries often?! haha), physical CDs still have that special place in my memories and heart.


It wasn't until I started listening to my physical CDs again that I took time to sit down and just listen to the music instead of simply playing a song in the background while I did some typing.  Another plus was that I also found a lot of hidden nuggets from songs that were not featured singles in the CD as I let the entire CD play.


After I reorganized my CDs, I took a look and listened to a lot of other songs I used to listen to.  Here are a few recommendations that I wanted to share with all of you.  Some of you may or may not remember them, but they are quite nice songs.


Stay the Same by Joey McIntyre

A Puro Dolor by Son by Four

I Want You by Janet Jackson

Fighter by Christina Aguilera

This Is Your Night by Amber

Everybody (Backstreet's Back) by The Backstreet Boys

This Love by Maroon 5

Everywhere by Michelle Branch

One More Time by Daft Punk

Around The World (La La La La La) by ATC

Why by Tiggy


These are just a few (since the list can become quite long), but I might create a music collection playlist on my site so that you can check out what I'm currently listening to.  One song that has been stuck in my head right now is Ciudad Mágica by Tan Bionica.  The first time that I heard it was when Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina.  I can't get it out of my head especially when Chano (the lead singer) sings the "Parapa parapa pa pa" part!  (It's around the 1:50 mark)


Ciudad Mágica by Tan Bionica



To conclude this entry I want to share a fortune that my brother gave me when I met up with him for dinner a few weeks ago:


Don't be a soy loser!


It's a cute message, but it does have a point.  Personally speaking, I learned early on in my life that complaining or getting upset won't help me progress.  The only to overcome this defeat was to work on picking myself up and find a different approach.  Mathematics was pretty tough when I was first learning it when I was younger.  I remembered spending so much time on a problem and when I checked the solution at the back of the book, it was completely different!  If I had admitted defeat when getting overwhelmed by proofs or other material, I don't think I would have been able to do what I am doing today.


The thing that ties all of these elements together (the Snaps, the music, and the fortune) is that we are constantly evolving (from flip phones to smartphones with advanced apps or moving from physical CDs to digital music), but that does not mean that we have to completely disregard these elements from the past.  


As I typed this entry, I revisited a lot of memories regarding how things changed for me as well as with my relationships with others.  I think that's what inspired me to redesign my main site.  It was like moving from the physical CD to digital media.  The core of the matter is there, but the form is just different as a result of evolution.  Lecahierdekev from 2012 is still a part of the 2016 version, but new elements have been introduced.  The heart of the site: the blog entries and focus on math and science is still the foundation.


Those of you who are trying to catch up on last minute holiday/vacation plans or are engaging with these new apps like Pokemon Go, I hope that everything progresses well.  (I just looked at the brownie and coffee picture again and I suddenly had a craving for some hazelnut coffee.)  Stay safe and wishing all of you the best.


And don't forget, don't be a soy loser!

#tbt Vegas Vacation!

I know that a lot of my family and friends use Instagram and from time to time they would make a #tbt post. #tbt posts usually reference back to a past event (where tbt refers to "Throwback Thursday").  For example, someone will post a childhood picture or a vacation from 5-10 years ago.  Since my Adventure Blog here on lecahierdekev discusses more lighthearted topics and allows me to share pictures with others, everyone usually comes here for that purpose (which in a sense serves as my "Instagram" haha).


After looking at pictures of past events posted by family and friends, I was inspired to make a #tbt post.  What captured my attention were my pictures from my Vegas vacation/holiday back in 2004 (more than a decade ago!).  I took the pictures using my old digital camera and unfortunately couldn't take as many photos because of the limited memory.  It was a small 2 megapixel digital camera with a capacity for less than 100 shots so I wanted to make sure it would last for the entire week!  Back then the cameras on the phones were not as advanced as the ones found in popular touch screen phones today.  When I took a look at the pictures, I really liked how vibrant and colorful the environments were in Las Vegas.  It's no surprise though since Vegas is known for its casinos, lights, shows, and other entertainment.  I named this entry "Vegas Vacation" because it had a nicer ring than "Vegas Holiday" haha


Please note that some pictures may not be of the best quality (i.e. be blurry).  To be able to take the maximum number of pictures from my camera, I had to set it to a maximum of 640 x 480 with 72 dpi.  Surprisingly though many of the pictures turned out pretty well.  Now when I go on vacation/holiday, I have my digital camera along with my phone to capture more pictures.


Going on vacation/holiday is always fun and enjoyable especially when you get to create new memories and experience things that are different from your usual daily repertoire.  As I glanced at the pictures, I remembered how much in awe I was at the sights.  It was my first time in Vegas so it was quite a lot to take in.  In addition to Las Vegas, I also have pictures of the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam as part of a tour during the trip.  At that time, I was living in another city, so we took a family trip together to catch up during the summer.  My mother and I was in communication regarding the itinerary and planned what we were all going to do together.


On the day of our flight, my mom's cousin helped us load the luggage into the van and drove us to the airport. When we arrived at the airport, we went through the process of security and getting our bags checked.  After boarding our plane, the pilot informed everyone that the flight was full.  It was summer time so it was no surprise that everyone was ready to relax and take time off.  It was a direct flight so it only took a few hours to get from the East Coast to Las Vegas.


The hotel that we stayed at was Circus Circus.  Prior to the vacation, my mom and I were looking at the most affordable hotel which also had a good location near the Vegas Strip.  The two choices that we narrowed it down to was the Stratosphere or Circus Circus.  Since Circus Circus had a good selection of entertainment and attractions, we decided to choose that one.


Outside our hotel/casino Circus Circus



When we arrived at the airport, we took a shuttle with other passengers to get to our respective hotels.  The driver asked each person/group where they were heading and wrote it down on her clipboard.  It wasn't too crowded since we arrived in Las Vegas later in the evening at around 11 PM.  We went to the front desk and my parents presented the printed reservation forms to get our room key.  The bellhop loaded our luggage on a cart and led us to our rooms.


As we got to our room, we gave the tip to the bellhop and settled in.  We had brochures/pamphlets that discussed the events at Circus Circus and what were the other "happenings" around Vegas during that time.  The 2001 movie "Rat Race" was playing on the TV and we were laughing at the absurdity of some of the scenes.  As we watched the movie, we were looking for places to get some food.  I was excited to finally experience a Vegas buffet during this trip!  The last casino buffet that I tried was in Atlantic City a few years before this trip (I think it was either at the Borgata or Tropicana).  My uncle and aunt who frequented the casinos here treated our group (my family and my other uncle and aunt) to the buffet.  My aunt wore her signature jade jewelry and wore green since she said it was lucky. haha


Throughout our trip, we ate at a lot of places.  We had a large pizza from "Pizzeria" at Circus Circus, bought hot dogs that had everything on them (relish, sauerkraut, and other toppings), ordered Chinese food, and ate at the buffet at Circus Circus to name a few.  At the buffet I remembered getting several plates of food with items such as mashed potatoes, calamari, pasta, and chicken.  I still had room for a key lime cheesecake.  I don't think I'd be able to eat that much now!


Trapeze performers inside Circus Circus



Acrobatic performers inside Circus Circus


It wouldn't be Las Vegas without a mention of the casino:


Overlooking the casino inside Circus Circus



After spending our time at Circus Circus, we decided to venture out to explore the other casinos.  At that time, it was scorching outside.  The temperature was 107 degrees F (42 degrees C) so just standing outside made us sweat! haha  You could feel the heat hit you when you leave the air conditioned casino.  


 The summer heat and palm trees



My parents went to the casino to play some of the games, and I stayed with my brother and went to the Adventuredome indoor amusement park and the Midway arcade/entertainment area at Circus Circus.  We bought the All Day Ride Pass which kept us entertained for hours.  They gave us bracelets so that we could go to each ride as much as we wanted.  After we rode the rides several times, we headed to Midway to play some games.


Me playing a racing game at the arcade

(I cropped myself out because I looked ehh from walking and sweating haha)



Ticketing sign at Adventuredome



Line forming to enter Adventuredome



At Mandalay Bay, we took an audio tour at the Shark Reef Aquarium.  As we entered, we paid for admission which included a wand that provided information on the exhibit we were looking at.  The aquarium was quite extensive and very beautiful.


Entering the aquarium at Mandalay Bay



Diverse fish at the aquarium



Aquarium snapshot






Shark swimming



Hammerhead shark swimming



After Mandalay Bay, we walked to Luxor, the Egyptian themed hotel and casino.


Outside Luxor

Quite magnificent!



Fountains inside Luxor



Here is a pic of me sitting outside the Stardust casino.  Stardust was closed and demolished in 2006 and 2007 respectively.  When we went inside Stardust, I could still remember all of the cigarette smoke as we walked through the casino area.


Me sitting in front of Stardust

(Again, I cropped myself out because I was sweaty haha)



We passed by Excalibur, the Medieval themed casino.


Outside Excalibur



We then went to New York New York.  At New York New York, my brother and I rode the roller coaster.  It was crazy and fun.  At that time, I think it was 10 or 11 dollars for an individual ticket.  It should cost more now.  (I just checked, it's $14 for an individual ticket...it's not too bad.  If it went up to $20 then that would have been crazy!)


Outside New York New York



After a bit, we stumbled onto MGM Grand.  The outside was quite a sight to behold with its dazzling lights.


MGM's dazzling lights



Overlooking MGM Grand and the street below


MGM sign



When we walked inside, we passed by the Rainforest Cafe.  Here is the alligator decoration outside the restaurant:


The alligator decoration outside



The next day we passed by Fashion Show Mall.  Who doesn't love a good mall? haha  There were a variety of shops inside.


Fashion Show Mall exterior



Fashion Show Mall interior



We walked around, but didn't purchase anything.  It was just nice to look around the stores.  After visiting the mall, we passed by Treasure Island.


The ships outside Treasure Island



Another view of the ships at Treasure Island



From there, we continued our walk overlooking the Strip.


Standing on the walkway bridge above to cross to the other side of the street



This led us to the beautiful Venetian, a luxury casino/hotel resort with an Italian influence.


Exterior of the Venetian



Gondola ride outside the Venetian's waters



We then passed by the erupting volcano exhibit outside of the Mirage.


Exterior of the Mirage



The volcano exhibit outside Mirage

(we missed it on this day, but caught it on a later date)



From there we visited the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.





Laser light show at Caesar's Palacer

We were lucky to catch it! 



Statues at Caesar's Palace

(I almost wrote "statutes" from rewriting the medical law notes haha)



Statues and fountains



Here is a picture of the Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas.


Eiffel Tower replica exhibit



Here is the Tower lit up at night:


Eiffel Tower exhibit at night 



From there we headed to the Bellagio, one of my favorite casinos in Las Vegas.  The exhibits inside were iconic and nothing could beat the fountain show outside.


Flowers and exhibit inside Bellagio



Liberty Bell exhibit inside Bellagio



Fountain show at the Bellagio



Fountain show at the Bellagio

(It was so enchanting!)



A calm night outside of the Bellagio



My mom also suggested that we go on a Grand Canyon day trip tour on one of the days.  She spoke to the front desk and asked whether there were any tours available.  They recommended a tour in which a shuttle would pick everyone up from different casinos at specified times (our pick up time was 8:10 AM at Circus Circus) and take us to the tour bus boarding area.  The individual calls the tour in advance to let them know which day and how many people would be attending the tour.  Payment was made to the shuttle driver who then gave you the tickets and let you in (otherwise, the shuttle driver wouldn't drive you to the boarding area).


At the boarding area, the driver gave us the itinerary and what to expect from the trip.  On the way to the Grand Canyon we would go through Hoover Dam, a gift shop, and a security check before entering the Grand Canyon.  The trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon took us around 5 and a half hours including the stopovers at the gift shop and Hoover Dam.


A view outside on the way to the Grand Canyon



Approaching Hoover Dam



Hoover Dam was surprisingly nice.  I didn't expect that we were going to make a stop there, but it was a nice 15-20 minute break.  The driver told us that it would be good since we could get some fresh air, stretch, and walk around. 


Our stop at Hoover Dam



When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we had our tour.  The bus driver gave us a few facts and other stories regarding the Grand Canyon.  We then had an opportunity to walk around, explore, and take pictures.


Overlooking the Grand Canyon





Very beautiful!



Looking downward



After we were able to explore, we had lunch.  Lunch was included in the ticket fee.  Each person received a bag which included a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water.  I forgot what the vegetarian option was.  As we ate our lunch, I talked to my brother about our trip and told him about upcoming plans for the Fall.  He told me about his upcoming summer plans after our trip.


It was around 11:30 PM when we arrived back at our hotel.  At that time, we only had two more days left for our trip so my parents decided that we should buy souvenirs and look at a few remaining sights for the remainder of the trip.


Although we didn't get to see the volcano show on the day we passed by it, we were lucky to see it this time!

The volcano show starting to erupt



The volcano erupting



As we walked around to find a place to buy souvenirs, we stumbled upon the Freemont Street Experience.  The ceiling has an entertaining light show so we were lucky to catch it.


The ceiling light show



Guess we know who sponsored it haha



On our final night, we packed up and got everything ready.  It was such a great experience and was the highlight of that summer.  I hope you all enjoyed this entry.  It took some time to write.  I did find some notes about the trip on one of my old diaries, but they were words jotted down that didn't go into too much detail. haha  However, I do hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I absolutely love to travel and see new sights because I can always learn something new along the way.


As my site becomes 4 years old this October, I just want to say thank you to everyone (family, friends, and both new and regular visitors) for enjoying my adventure ramblings.  :)  Let us all be good to one another and show each other love, support, and respect as we move toward a stronger future.

Comforting Dinner and Supermarket Escapades

We can actually feel the warmer weather now!  I verified that my continuing education was completed for this cycle and I took care of my taxes.  They weren't too bad (thank goodness!), but I'm just happy that all of that was off my plate as summer rolls along.  I have a lot of great things to share with all of you in this entry to ring in the springtime.


With the nicer weather, everyone is going outdoors to get some fresh air or look at the sights.  I went to the Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa in Edgewater, New Jersey.  I remembered showing the outdoor scenery from the supermarket during the Independence Day entry.  I had to also go food shopping so I wanted to show you my trip to the supermarket.  Of course, you'll see a lot of bright and vibrant products in a Japanese supermarket!


When you go into Mitsuwa, one of the signature things you will see is the food court.  There are a lot of places to order food and the pictures are visually appealing.  There are a lot of choices whether you want ramen, Chinese inspired dishes, ice cream, bubble tea, curry, or rice bowls (to name a few).


Tempura Bowls


As you can see, Mitsuwa is a favorite place to go to for many people.  The place is very busy and crowded during festivals, holidays, and the weekends.  I prefer to go during a weekday since it's not as packed.  However, I went on a Saturday so it was quite busy!  It's really a fun place to go to when the weather is nice.  The outdoor area overlooking New York City is calming.  It's especially a sight to behold during the night when you can see the lights from across the river.



Rice Dishes and Bowls

There are also vegetable croquettes.  Very tasty!


The selections are good and some places also have a takeout option if you want to order something and eat it at home.  The picture above with the rice dishes and croquettes is where I usually order.  The food is good, and I especially love the pickled vegetables and miso soup that come with my order.  For the amount of food you get, it's pretty affordable.  A whole tray of food would be around 7 dollars for the cheapest option.  The bowls are cheaper which are 5-6 dollars.  The more involved dishes are around 8-10 dollars, but you do get a big meal out of it.  The food court seating area overlooks the coastline which does add to the ambiance.  You can see pictures of the outdoor area from my August 2015 entry.  I usually meet up and have dinner with family and friends here so it has always been a memorable experience.


The area around the food court has displays with manga books, toys, and other anime related goods.  There are also products advertising the goods you can find in the stores nearby.  For example, Kinokuniya bookstore is right next to Mitsuwa.


Assortment of Books

Hello Kitty Lego on the bottom left


This area also has free Japanese newspapers and the Chopsticks magazine which you can take home and read.  You can also look at the displays while you wait for your food to be prepared.


Kinokuniya Display

I especially liked the cat with the birthday cupcake!



After I ate my meal, I headed to the market to do some shopping.  There are a lot of colorful and unique products here that you won't find in a standard supermarket.


Strawberry Creme Oreos


I saw these strawberry creme Oreos and this was the first time I have seen this.  Maybe some of you have seen it in your areas, but I was surprised when I saw this.  It looked tasty, but I didn't know if I would've liked it.  haha There have been times where I will see something that looks appealing on the cover, but when I eat it, they are not what I expected.  I just thought it was nice so I kept a note of it in case I decide to buy it in the future.


Cute Japanese cookies


Of course, instead of the usual animal cookies/crackers, the Japanese spin on them are cute anime versions of these animals.  They were very colorful and vibrant, and I know that if I brought along my nephews and nieces, they definitely would've wanted me to buy them!


Assortment of Bottled Drinks



I like the selection of bottled drinks at Mitsuwa.  They usually go on sale, but they have a great assortment such as the veggie juices, coffees, teas, and other fruit juices.  Years ago I would buy the milk coffee that they have.  It was portable and really woke me up when I had to get work done.  This time I bought the tea lattes at the top of the picture.  There were three types: matcha, chai, and black tea.  I've tried all of them and they were delicious and refreshing.  It's easy to pack when I have to eat lunch or go out which makes them convenient if you're on the go.


There are also ready made/premade sushi, onigiri, bento boxes, and cooked food that you can pick out for dinner.  By the time I got there, it was pretty much emptied out.  Since it was a weekend, a lot of people get those for a quick lunch or dinner.  I did get a few things such as the potato curry croquette (the last one!), seaweed salad, and chicken teriyaki.


(Top left) Premade food section

(Bottom left) Tanuki Sake

(Right) Meat and poultry section


I did pass other sections such as the meat section, but I didn't need any meats.  I did like the Sake selection.  I laughed when I saw the sake packaged in the carton.  It reminded me of the boxed wine I saw at a few parties.


Frozen Dumplings


There are frozen items such as dumplings in case you need something that you can just heat up to eat.  I've had the crab and vegetable dumplings which were tasty as a side dish.  So there are a selection of things you can buy there.  Some items are pricey like the Kobe beef or high end sake, but otherwise it's pretty affordable.  They have sales often so you can use that to your advantage.


In terms of cooking, I made a Filipino-Chinese inspired soup called Lomi.  I know I didn't get to discuss cooking in the past few entries, but don't worry I have one here!  The dish was simple to make and very comforting to eat on a cold night.  I wanted to experiment so I used Udon noodles instead of Hokkien noodles.  I added a lot of vegetables including romaine lettuce, carrots, and snow peas.  I wanted it to be hearty, so I also added fish balls along with the chicken.


(Top Left) Sauteeing the chicken in onions and garlic

(Top Right) Chopped romaine lettuce and fish balls

(Bottom) Snow peas and carrots


I chopped the chicken breasts into strips and sauteed them with the chopped onions and garlic.  I didn't saute the chicken too long since it was going to also cook when I added it to the soup.  I seasoned the chicken with a bit of pepper and some chicken stock.  Meanwhile, in a large pot I boiled 1000 milliliters (around 4 cups) of low sodium chicken stock.  There's a reason I didn't add salt, and I will explain it further into this entry.  Once it started boiling, I tossed in the carrots so that it would soften.  Carrots take a bit of time to soften and I wanted all of the elements of the soup to be soft.  After five minutes, I put in the udon noodles.  I then added the sauteed chicken, onions, and garlic together with the fish balls.  At that point, I could smell the combination of the broth with the chicken and carrots.



Counterclockwise from the bottom left

Adding each ingredient step by step



There was a tip that my mom and other family friends told me when making this soup.  They said to put crab and corn soup towards the end to give it a boost of flavor.  This is why I didn't add salt.  The salt would come from the crab and corn soup mixture.  I cooked the crab and corn soup in a separate pot.  Instead of one egg, I put in two since it was going to go into the large pot of soup.


I continued letting it boil and added a pinch of onion and garlic powder to enhance the flavor.  After 15 minutes, I added the crab and corn soup.  At that point I was getting really hungry! haha  I stirred the soup to incorporate the crab and corn soup with the broth.  Since it was close to finishing up, I added the lettuce and snow peas.  I really loved the color that the vegetables gave to the soup.  After letting it boil for a few minutes, I put it in a bowl to enjoy.


The Lomi soup in a bowl

Topped with Kikiam and scallions


After it putting it in the bowl, I added Kikiam (a Chinese-Filipino sausage dish), fried garlic, and scallions and then mixed it all together.  It was very tasty!  As for the kikiam, you can find it in the frozen section of the Asian aisle or you can go to an Asian supermarket.  The one I had was freshly cooked since there are a lot of Filipino restaurants around my area.  I just bought it and cut it up.  Kudos to the Filipinos and Chinese for their delicious dishes!  This one was very satisfying and really hit the right spot to quell my hunger.


As I was cleaning up a few boxes that had items which I forgot to organize, I saw two things that brought back a lot of memories.  It was a penguin toy that my little cousin gave me and a Super Mario custom made lollipop.  My favorite animal is a penguin.  As many of my family, friends, and clients know, I have two versions of my stationery.  One is the professional version with my logo and the second is the casual version with a customized version of Bad Badtz-Maru (the Sanrio Penguin) dressed up as a scientist/professor.


My cousin gave it to me when she was very young.  She was around 3-4 years old.  She gave it to me as a gift before my flight back to the States.  She's now in college so it's almost 20 years since she gave it to me.  I absolutely adore it.  I call him "Pengui" (pronounced pen-gwee) and always bring him wherever I move.  I had him with me when I was a boy, in my apartments when I went off to undergrad and graduate school, and have him now on my desk.


(Left) My Penguin Toy Gift

(Right) Super Mario Custom Lollipop


The second one was a Super Mario custom lollipop given to me during a combined Halloween/birthday party when I was in middle school.  My younger brother received Link and our other friends had other Nintendo figures.  It was so nice.  When I actually found the lollipop, it took me by surprise.  There were quite a few things that I forgot about, but once I saw the object, I can remember the details.  Time really does move so fast!  My cousin was so young when she gave me Pengui, and now she's in college and traveling to Japan.


As I conclude, I hope all of you have been doing well.  I know that with the whirlwind of events such as finishing up taxes, graduations coming up, and tackling various activities, it can get quite hectic.  The good thing is that the weather is getting nicer.  I always love the spring and summer since there's more daylight and I love going out.  I'll share a story before I close this entry. One evening, one of my friends and I spoke on the phone and she asked me, "Tudo bem?" (which means is everything well/going okay in Portuguese)  I laughed and replied, "tudo bem, e você?" (everything is good, and how about you?)  I then asked her a question in Portuguese and she told me, "Kevin! I only know that because my classmate is Brazilian and that's all I learned from him!"  We both laughed.  It was cute and really brightened my evening.


I hope you all enjoyed the pictures.  I'm finishing up the mathematics handout which I hope to post tomorrow.  The handout so far is 30 pages.  I still have to write a notification entry on my Wordpress to let my followers know when it will be up.  Have a great spring and Congratulations to all of you who are graduating next month!

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