Archive for July, 2007

The friends

Joe and Jenniferika were very good friends, and you might wonder how they got to be friends. They were pretty much 100% opposite. Joe was a boy, Jenniferika was a girl; Joe was the class clown and had terribly terrible grades, Jenniferika had extremely excelling grades; Joe let other people call him ‘The Joeinator’, ‘The whatever-y whatever’ and other stuff, but if anyone called Jenniferika anything else, even ‘Jennifer’; Joe liked Bill Cosby, and Jenniferika’s faves were Socrates, Confucius, and Einstein.
The only things they had in common were that they were humans, and their dads worked for the same company, the ‘MostFamousCompanyInTheWorld’ company. And if that had not been true, their friendship would’ve never lasted.
Before, they were total enemies. Joe always called Jenniferika a nerd, or a geek, or an irk, even though he always got socked in the stomach (have I mentioned Jenniferika’s tiny temper? She loses it easily.)
But one day, The MostFamousCompanyInTheWorld hosted a business trip to Hawaii and they both wanted to surf. Joe didn’t know how to surf so he planned Surfing Lessons. But Jenniferika knew how to and was ready for a good time. After a while, Joe kinda knew how to surf and got good at it.
But one day, Joe slipped off his board and a giant wave lunged over him; he was stranded and would’ve drowned…
IF Jenniferika hadn’t been drinking milk. Her milk saved the day. She grabbed the milk jug, tied a cord around it, and threw it out to Joe. Joe grabbed on to it and bobbed gently. Jenniferika tugged at the cord, bringing the jug and Joe back to the shore.
Joe now had a new respect for Jenniferika. She had saved his life.
Now you can see them playing around, running around, *fooling* around, and doing other things together. But occasionally- “Hey nerd-tron!”

The End



There once was a man, Etzvanogo, who had a quest, a very brave quest, a very dangerous quest. He had to cross the Tilsm Desert, saunter across the Valley of the Rain, conquer the Dragon of Agulamanaga, and arrive in the wonderful city of Penz. It cost him much bravery, but he was determined to follow his father’s footsteps of doing dangerous deeds.

He started his journey at the foot of the oversized arched rock Eddam and he started running. That was a bad choice, since he had plenty of time, and the expedition would only take three months walking.

As he reached the Tilsm Desert he stopped to drink from the Gandol, a gadget that keeps itself filled with water to drink. Then, he started his long journey across the desert and found it was full of life. But not mostly cacti, or any plant. It was full of spiders! They crawled in gigantic swarms, ripping and tearing at his skin, making it almost impossible to sleep. But when he cried a long howl, the spiders ran away. They were repelled by sound! Whenever he saw a spider, he shouted and it scurried away. That made the journey much easier.

But soon, his throat was sore from all the shouting. So he designed a whistle made of Mudstone, dried wet sand, and spider exoskeletons. It worked perfectly. But he did not know that the queen spider was after him.

She came, and she was simply colossal. It loomed high above him, and Etzvanogo was so chickened out that he bolted behind a boulder. Then he thought ‘I’m not a chicken’ and ran to meet the queen spider. The whistle was still flying, starting down and then-KABOOOOOOM!!!! – It landed right on the middle of her head, her pressure point. Etzvanogo walked past the border of the desert and headed for the Valley of the Rain.

It was easy to recognize, even from far away. It was completely covered by a humongous cumulonimbus. He got there and it was constantly pouring and he thought ‘Totally opposite places, no wet and no dry.’ And there were no animals, only plants. Trees, bushes, lots of moss, you name it!

And you thought it was easy to cross. He soon found it was ruled by a group of man-eating birds, the Carbå, and had wiped out all the living animals, and their specialty was humans…

They flew over him in circles, cawing and cawing. But he was too strong and equipped for them. One throw of his motion-seeking boomerang, all of them were dead. He crossed it with ease.

Now for the dragon. The dragon rarely came out, only when there was another prince to gobble down. The dragon was stupid, but the princes were even stupider. But Etzvanogo was smart. He knew the dragon’s weakness, the same as the Spider Queen: the head and the stomach. Of course, a stab in the heart would work, but the heaviest plating is over there. So he got one of his bombs placed it in a replica of him, and the Dragon saw the faux Etzvanogo and took it real. He swallowed it in one gulp. Only his stomach was injured, but not his brain or chest. So he threw all of his boomerangs and as the dragon was swatting them, he threw his sword right at the dragon’s forehead and once again, KABOOOOOOM!!!! He exploded.

Now the short journey to Penz. He had finished it, finished the journey and faced it all.


South Kensington area

[2007.07.08] Just two blocks away from the hotel I am staying in, sits the remarkable grand building - the Natural History Museum. It has great coverage of everything on earth, revealing how the jigsaw of life fits together, from the delicate to the deadly, the grotesque to the gorgeous. I would say the Dinosoaur section is most impressive. They show many life forms on earth in a very easy-to-understand categorization, and all visitors, children and adults can easily follow the subjects. The mineral hall shows all type of elements in the raw “stone” forms inside earth. A section of wood shows the age of oldest trees - California Sequoia, at about 1500 years. I plan to have most tours done today, so I can concentrate on some work next week. And today I plan to visit a couple of places. So I quickly moved on to the even grander palace on next block - the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the history of England, the period that Victoria ruled was the most properous time. His husband - Prince Albert had his own great accomplishment - the magnificant palace that is now Victoria & Albert museum.

Just as impressive as the grandeur facade outside, the museum is indeed the world’s greatest museum of art and design, with collections of furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, fashion, sculpture, textiles and paintings, spanning more than 3000 years of history and across all continents. Really it needs at least one full day time to explore the displays, and I could not make my way out of the museum. I will post some pictures later because it is simple too hard to describe so many artifacts.

When I finally got out the VA museum, it was too late to go on Westminster Abbey and others around Westminster area. So I just continue to next block, which is the Brompton Oratory. If standing alone, the Roman Catholic church is a grand landmark. But next to V&A mesuem, it just looks like an extension. When I stepped into the church, they were singing Solemn and Benedictions. The music/song is the type shown in the movie “Face Off” when John Travata walked around in a church. The smoke illustrated the afternoon sunlight, as it poured in from the high windows. Mixing with the music/song and people’s serene mode, it was really like in heaven. I think one would quickly believe in God if staying in that environment. I sat there for an hour, not understanding much but followed other people pray.

After that, it is almost evening time; but of course it still has day-light for another five hours. So I decided to tour as much as I can, and I took the Tube to Hyde Park. Situated just north of South Kensington, Hyde Park together with Kensington Garden forms the biggest green area in city center of London (in fact, each of them individually would be the biggest park in London), connecting the West End and Notting Hill. It took more than one hour to cross the park.

The Serpentine, a long lake inside Hyde park, is the main attraction of the park. People are walking along the lake, and people are floating in boats on the lake. And of course in the park, a Frencho-English festival market is attracting large crowd because the Tour de France 2007 started here yesterday. I bought some French biscuit and is so yummy.

Cross a bridge over the Serpentine, I got in the Kensington Garden area. The Diana - Princess of Wales Memorial fountain is a very unique fountain. It is not really a fountain, but a circular river/stream. Many people sat around the stream, some of them were washing their “duck” feet (they should really keep their dirty feet to their own dirty shoes). The water however still appears very clear.

Continuing on a vast more natural park area, where the grass and trees seems to be in the wild, there is another lake - round pond. Looking over the pond, the Kensington Palace was showing its outline in the sunset. Kensington Palace is rather moderate, which gives people a slight feeling of home (just can not image how it feels if living in a grand palace). Princess Diana was once living in this palace for most of her time. Well, I have visits most of Queen’s residences. The Queen’s House in Greenwich was the residence for most of kings and queens at Tudor time. After that, most royal family lived in Kensington Palace (and is still true today). After Queen Victoria, the Buckingham Palace became the main residence of her Majesty.


How a kid showed his love for his family

Hi! I’m JJ, a little boy.You might call me a superhero, but I say I’m just a regular kid with a big heart.

My mom developed AIDS and went away to the hospital. Soon my Dad got Cholera and went away, too. I was left with nothing but the house.

First things first. I took up a newpaper ad for a babysitter. During the wait, I ate leftovers and frozen foods in the freezer. Finally, she came. My new babysiteer. She had a good sense of humor and treated me nicely. She let me go to the hospital and keep mom and dad company.

I went to school and set up a fundraiser to help my mom and dad. Some of the money went to the doctors to help find a cure for my mom, some went to charity, and some went to us for saving up.

Dad was soon back. The doctors said he came just in time. But since mom had developed many other diseases along with AIDS, she took a while.

Now my family is back together. You might call me a super hero, but I say I’m just a regular kid with a big heart.



[2007.07.07] Cambridge is situated about 50 miles northeast of London. From King Cross station in central London to Cambridge, it just takes 45 minutes of direct train. One programer, who sits next to me in John Lewis office, was graduated from Cambridge Univ - Emmanuel College; and he told me yesterday where to go and what to see in Cambridge.

There are more than a dozen of colleges in Cambridge. I visited Emmanuel College, Christ’s College as I walked along St Andrew’s street. Both are quite small, a small wooden door opens to a square courtyard with building surrounding at 4 sides; go past another door, get to the backyard garden. I am a little surprised, well, that’s one college?

Cross the Market street, which is very living with students in Shakespear’s character custumes, and tourists wandering around the markets looking for gifts. The King’s college attracts most of attentions because of its magnificant church’s style structure. There lines up Clare College, Trinity Hall, and a narrow cobbled alley connects to Trinity College. All of those colleges charges a permission fee to get into the campus (which is usually a courtyard, a backyard and buidling surround them.

I paid 2 pounds to get into Trinity College and took a couple of photos. I met several Chinese people. One of them is studying here as her mom was very proud of telling me about that. She mentioned a college name, but I just said “never heard of it”. She told that St John’s College, Trinity College and King’s College are the top three colleges, and it is too hard to get into the top three ones.

I continued to St John’s but it is closed to public. Just followed the crowd a little further, some students were soliciting the Punting - it is the boat (called punt) riding on river Cam! The river Cam runs behind all the colleges and connects them with large green ground on other side - which is called “The Backs”.

Not long ago, David was reciting Xu Zimo’s “Goodbye again, Cambridge!”. I am recalling the poem and trying to envision the river Cam into that kind of mode. But actually, the river is pretty narrow; and the punts collides with each from time to time. It was a great ride, seeing all those great college’s backyards on the river and had a very good view of entire campuses. There are many bridge cross the river, among which the famous ones are “the mathematical bridge”, “the bridge of Signs” and “the Cambridge”.

After the punting, I got a table outside of Galleria restaurant, which sits at river Cam. I could watch people punting on river Cam and people walking/stopping on Cambridge. It was one lunch with a great view.

On the way back, I visited the Peterhouse, which is the oldest college in Cambridge (est. in 1284). Again, the same style of courtyard, backyard and surrounding buildings. The cobbled path in the courtyard makes me remember the old “temple” in my villege, which has a cobble-stone courtyard.

During the history of Cambridge, many people, such as Newton, made great impact to the advancement of mankind history. The river Cam flows day after day, year after year, and Cambridge continues to inspire all people in the world.


Chelsea/Sloane area

[2007.07.06] Today the weather is surprisingly good - as I stepped out of office around 7pm, I saw sunlight with light blue sky for the first time since I arrived London about two weeks ago. I decided to take a walk. My French colleague told me that London is huge, and Paris is tiny. Actually, you can just walk from one place to another place in London. And it is good to walk around so you know how the places connect together. Taking Tube does not make you know any of the neighborhoods.

I started from Victoria station, heading south along Buckingham Palace road. Taking a side street, and turned into Sloane square. Then changed to King’s road toward the river Thames. While walking on Chelsea Embankment from Albert bridge to Chelsea bridge, I just saw a couple of people running or biking. This is the hippe place forty years ago - swinging sixties; now it is very quite.



[2007.07.05] Maybe not many people have heard of Harrods. Yes, it is just a shopping place in a terracota building illuminated at night. I visited it today because I read from somewhere that there are Food Halls in Harrods, so it was my dinner destination. So I carried my laptop backpacks after work, and took Tube to Knightsbridge.

Upon entering the building, the doorman asked me to hold the backpack in hand, instead of carrying it. I noticed no one in Harrods carry backpacks, but that’s just some small details. First impression was that the room is not big; then realized that it is more like a museum than a shopping place. You just go from Hall to Hall, each Hall selling different type thing. The Food Hall has painting on the roof; and the Oyster bar is too attractive.

In fact, there are more than 20 restaurants and bars inside, some are small, just sitting around Hall corner; others are huge, taking a grand hall. After wanderring around for a while, I took a seat at the Oyster Bar. The bill is not cheap, 15 pounds for 6 Fines de Claire oysters.

The toy floor is attracting both kids and adults, with magical tricks and other activity toys. I bought two pieces for David and Emily.

As I leave the Harrods, I took the escalator from 5th floor down. I noticed the Egyptian Escalator is not an ordinary one. Next time when you are in London, you should go and see it by yourself.


Notting Hill/Queensway

[2007.07.04] Notting Hill is considered a upscale area, but I am not impressed. The nearby Queenway & Bayswater area is more lively with small shops open till late; it looks like a Chinatown. The Kensington gardens is just across Queensway; I should visit the Kensington Palace next week.


Walnut Creek

Long ago in the 1850s, Walnut Creek was just ‘The Corners’ because it was simply the intersection of Pacheco and Oakland. Nothing but two dirt roads. But today, it is a bustling city with all a city needs: a library, Main St., and Broadway.

It is a small but beautiful city with flowers and trees of every size and shape. The grass is usually green and no extreme temperatures. Events come once in a short while, and the restaurants are great.

As I said, events come. In Broadway, every April there is a Fine Arts Festival, every May a Creek Clean-Up Day, June the Art and Wine Festival, July a concert, and much more! ARF hosts a Dog Day each year when people bring their dog(s) to the Plaza. It is soon filled with dogs. There are dog baths, dog toys and everything else relating to dogs.

The Heather Farm Park is a great place for rest and parties with its playground, swim center, lake, pond, fields, and brilliant flower beds. They host a ‘Movies Under the Stars’ often, when a movie is shown on the field on a giant inflatable screen and the movies are all exciting!

Mt. Diablo is the great mountain with tons of plants only found on that mountain. Those include the Mt. Diablo Sunflower, the Mt. Diablo Manzanita, and the Mt. Diablo buckwheat. It is a great hiking place and its beauty is endless. On the tippity-top is a great museum about Mt. Diablo but there aren’t many visitors, due to the height and the fact that no cars are allowed on the trail!

Civic Park is a large playground and field. Children play from dawn to dusk. People nap on the lush, emerald grass, and kids fly their kites against the wind. It is very lovely, and very attracting.

Right next to Civic Park is the downtown library, a place filled with books of every kind. You can see their site at ‘’. A library card is free and now they are having a summer reading program to win cool prizes, such as an inflatable penguin and Lawrence Hall of Science passes.

Every now and then in the Library parking lot is a farmer’s market, when farmers from all over California sell their food and other items. They aren’t pricey, and they are guaranteed fresh. We buy a lot of food from there and we love it.

Walnut Creek is and amazing and beautiful place! It might have started off just a minute intersection, but now is as high-tech and striking as can be!


The Temple

[2007.07.03] As featured in Da Vinci Code, The Temple holds long story of Templar/Priory activities in London. The area is just several blocks, close to the old London city. It consists of an Inner Temple garden, Middle Temple and the Temple Church. While walking around the narrow stone/brick alley and court, one can feel as if far away from city, even it is just off rather busy Fleet street. Since the Temple Church was closed, I did see the effigy as mentioned in the noval. I just felt it is quite clean simple area.

After that, I just crossed the Waterloo bridge over river Thames, and wandered along the South Bank area, where has the Royal Festival Hall and London Eye.


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