It’s Friday again

This afternoon (actually more like evening), on linkedIn I was surprised to find that the company I used to work for has laid off its CIO (chief information officer). I remember we talked about I joined the company in late 2011. I left the company about 2 years ago, to pursue better opportunities. Also I knew the company was not doing well financially. It seems now it’s becoming more and more difficult for the company to survive. Note it’s more like industry wide problem, not isolated the company. Management could do something, but once a fatal mistake made by former CEO (buy another company at market top using borrowed money), there is very little current management can do.

Also, from I found a former colleague of mine, we started on the same day on a small software (custom development) company 5 years ago, and he left the company a year later, and found he has driving trucks for a while after that stint.

Last but not least, I saw my neighbor when he came back from work, and just exchanged “hellos”, and he said it’s Friday :-)

Went to kindergarten roundup at Yoyo’s new new school

To be precise, it’s Spoede Elementary, about 5 mins drive from my condo. When I bought the condo 10 years ago, I was single and had no kids. But I knew Ladue is a good school district. That’s one reason I bought condo here. If things does not work out, I can rent out the condo to someone else who will like this location. Back to school.

We met the school principle, the 4 kindergarten teachers, one counselor, and one idea lab teacher (outside classroom?), a lot of parents from diverse background. The teachers gave a lot tips about transition kids to kindergarten, and I like what the principle said at last: we will treat your kids like our own. That is indeed what I felt at some of the school Yoyo already attended. And this is largely true in the post Newtown world. I recall some of the teachers lost lives trying to save the kids. Maybe a bit harsh but I think we need to think about gun violence and do something about it.

Back to school, we are really excited to see Serenity growing up, and we also like the ROCKS principle (Respect, Ownership, Cooperation, Kindness and Safety) of the school.

Happen to stop by old school today

We happened to stop by Serenity’s “old school” today, as we were playing at the millennium park this afternoon. Her “old school” was right next to the park. As we saw some kids were playing soccer there, Serenity walked over and took a look. The door (fence) of big playground (back playground) was open, and she just walked in. I know I know, I’ve been in the US for almost 18 years and legally speaking this is trespassing. In the US, private property is respected. But she is just a 5 year old kid. I just don’t want to hurt her feeling and say “no”. And in about 5 to 10 minutes, she seems found all the good memories. Really words can not describe her feelings there: it’s just right at home, she had been there for 1.5 years until last Nov. Here are some of the pictures.











Timerland hiking shoes

Timberland Ledge Low Leather Hyper Mesh Gore-Tex®. My first pair of Timberland shoes. Bought it from for about $65 to $70 on Sept 2011. It did not disappoint. The water proof feature works as claimed. I worn it for over 3 years, for mostly daily and some hiking. I would definitely buy it again.

Timberland Ledge Low Leather Hyper Mesh Gore-Tex®

Timberland Ossipee Mid Hiker Gore-Tex®. My second pair. I just started wearing it. I bought it in Jan 2012 at for about $40. I lent it to my in-law for couple months. As my 1st pair timberland started worn out. I started this one. One thing is it’s a mid hiker or in other words, it’s a bit taller. I anticipate it may not ventilate as well as the 1st pair in St. Louis summer. But I plan to wear this one out before purchase a new pair.

Timberland Ossipee Mid Hiker with Gore-Tex®

Another thing I noticed is the price of hiking shoes went up quite a bit, and the quality seems declining. From some of the reviews I read from about Northface and Merrell.

Btw, came across this top 10 hiking shoes list from outdoorgearlab. Amazon has a good list too.

Why I like JCC

I’ve been a JCC member since early 2012. Having been in St. Louis since late 2000 and in Creve Coeur since 2005, I found JCC is really a gem for fitness. For me it’s mostly about swim and walk on treadmill. But there is more. I met interesting people (seniors), or in JCC terms, mature adults :-)

Sometimes they would make me ponder about what I will do if I live at their age. I met 2 world war II veterans. One was 94 or 95 years old, he served in Africa (Sahara desert?), and he told me at one time he could not have showers for one month or 3 months, and the temperature there 130 freiheit. He seems think the British general montgomery is a wimp. I have not seen him for a while, I hope he is still doing ok. He basically does only walking on the track. Another gentleman let us guess his age, I got pretty close, 89. From the hint he gave. He said they have gatherings for WWII veterans. Each gathering he saw he fewer and fewer old friends.

This morning, I saw another old gentleman. He is waiting for my cubby. I asked him why, he said that number is the only number he can remember. It’s “123”. I laughed. Then another old gentleman said “don’t laugh, you don’t understand what we are getting”. I told them, I know some. Because once I lost where I parked my car at downtown. And I had to recollect which way I drove in to figure out which parking lot I parked. We all laughed :-)

I think besides the excellent facilities, friendly staffs (one person greets me on first name basis), the things I mentioned above is what makes JCC standout. Sometimes I saw they have Autism kids/adults come to exercise. This is just some scene I don’t see very often.

Yoyo told this story a while ago

sawyer and serenity going for special walk. serenity pick leaves. sawyer picked up egg and put in nest. sawyer pet chick to sleep. serenity bake some cookies.

serenity is happy. sawyer is happy. sawyer goes for medium one, serenity feeds the chick. Sawyer and serenity go to the park. goes to school in the morning.

plays ring around the rosie. there is one teacher her name is miss rachel. now it’s christmas, now serenity and sawyer at home opening the presents. serenity

got teddy bear, sawyer got tennis shoes. now serenity go meet princess (aurora sleeping beauty), sawyer go meets ninja turtle. sawyer serenity save their

presents. the end.

to be continued…

it’s 3 little bears. once upon a time, there lived 3 little bears, there is a daddy bear, mommy bear, and baby bear. bear are out side for a walk. the end.

Our car seats

Now we have 2 kids (one 7 month old baby, one almost 5), we also got quite a few car seats. First the infant car seats, we got a Graco snug and ride car seat for Serenity our old daughter. Something like this one, the seat has travelled to China and is still at her grandpa’s home. We are reusing the base with similar Graco car seat we got for younger daughter Sophia.


Looking back not buying the travel system like we got for sophia is a mistake. Because travel system is quite handy.


For toddler car seats, we got 2: the cheaper evenflo and the more expensive britax.



We like both: the former is smaller and easy to move around, the latter is sturdy. All these seats are easy to fit in my cars: 2001 nissan altima, 2006 subaru forester, 2012 camry and sienna.

I will talk about boost seat in the future :-)

The rodents are back to my Sienna Minivan

I talked about this last year, in this post and that post. The bad news is, they are back. Couple weeks ago, when I went to dealership and install the new battery on Sienna, the service advisor mentioned there are some biting on the cables, and I said “yeah I know, last year I have been here 3 times to fix the squirrel biting cable problem”. Looking back they already visited this year (2015).

My wife noticed the problem on Thursday afternoon when she saw the check engine and “Trac Off” light are on. So I brought the minivan to dealership on Friday, and they were able to fix it on Saturday. Needless to say, I am annoyed again. Service advisor’s advice is to put moth ball in the hood. This was essentially what I did last year. Not fail-safe and there is this moth ball smell which could be harmful to human. I did a little more research and reading (1, 2, 3), but I have not seen a perfect solution. Another possibility is the laundry dryer sheet, or spicy sauce. I may try the dryer sheet tomorrow. Here I wanted to summarize some of the possible approaches to prevent the rodents coming back. I hope this might be helpful for people in similar situation like me, last year once I recall the service advisor told me a customer came back multiple times due to this problem, in other words I am not alone.

1) Use repellent such as spicy sauce, moth ball (this is unproven and has side effect according to some);

2) Power wash the engine compartment, to get rid of the smell from rodents’ previous visits. Note there is different opinions on this topic (see one discussion here). I also noticed Waterway Car Cash offers this service. I never did that before and don’t know how they do this.

3) Don’t park in the same spot when parking outside. Keep in mind do this both in winter and spring: the rodents get in in winter because it’s warmer inside, and they chew the cable for fun, in spring it’s mating season for squirrel, the make nest there.

4) Last but not least, trade in the problem car or minivan. I did give it some thought, and I think if the problem persists, and since I could not buy a townhouse/single family house with car garage, that’s one option I may pursue.

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