Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My new Asus Eee Box

Recently I bought a 52" LCD HDTV. One thing that I liked about this TV is that it can be used as a computer monitor. It has all the inputs for computer use. On the eve of Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday) I was browsing through Best Buy and Amazon - just in case I see something I might "need". It was at Amazon that I came across an Asus Eee Box. I had never heard of the Asus Eee Box before. It is a very small desktop pc, super quiet, about the size of a large novel and weighing about 1 kg. I read the reviews and found that people are using the Eee Box as a server and for a very mobile desktop.

I immediately thought how convenient it would be for me to watch my Malaysian web TV news on my new 52" LCD TV! I asked Doug if I should get it. I had already spent quite a bit on the TV, a new 19" flat screen monitor, and a new all-in-one printer. Doug said, go ahead and get it if I needed it.

Since I'd already got the green light from Doug, I went ahead and made my order. The desktop arrived yesterday and I couldn't wait to set it up! I had already ordered the DVI to HDMI cable that will enable the desktop to be connected to the TV.

Above, my little Eee Box sitting on my subwoofer in the living room. The mouse is small and you can see the size of the Eee box in relation to the mouse. It is connected to the internet via wifi.

The resolution on the large screen when used on full screen mode isn't all that great but when viewed from my sofa chair, it is quite acceptable! I am now able to watch the latest TV news that is available on the Bernama, TV3, NTV7 and TV9 websites on my TV and it feels like I am watching the news while in Malaysia! It's a great feeling!

The only problem is, I am still unable to get the speakers on the TV to work with the computer. I had to take my Altec Lansing speakers from my desktop to hear anything. I'll need Doug to look into this issue later!

I love this Eee box and might consider getting another one for the kids. I'll have to get an external CD-ROM/DVD drive so they can play their video games since the Box does not come with any.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey

This Thanksgiving, I am going to roast my turkey the evening before Thanksgiving. I have decided to do a Chinese style roast turkey! Yeaayyy! I found a simple recipe - actually it is the turkey rub that makes the difference in how a turkey is roasted.

I can't wait to try this turkey rub! I am sure my in-laws will be impressed! I will, however, continue to use Jamie Oliver's stuffing - the best stuffing there is! I have already bought all the ingredients and plan to bake it this evening.

The following is the Chinese style roast turkey recipe.


6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed
12 pounds whole turkey
12 scallions, cut up
several sprigs cilantro


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients and rub over turkey to coat. Pour remaining sauce into cavity. Add scallions and cilantro. Place turkey in a roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.


I plan on baking my own cheese biscuits to accompany the meal. I think I will also do a potato casserole, baked oysters and a fruit salad. I don't think I will bother with the green beans!! I hate the stuff that is served during Thanksgiving.

Looking forward to the big meal on Thursday!

Sounds like Christmas!

I was pleasantly surprised when I turned on my favorite music station yesterday morning, while in the shower, to hear Christmas music! Last year this radio station only started playing Christmas music 24/7 two weeks before Christmas. The year before that, I think they started playing Christmas music the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I am not complaining! I am already in the mood for Christmas and it was hard to resist getting a pot of poinsettias while I was at the local supermarket this morning!

Right now I am focused on Thanksgiving and getting everything for the Thanksgiving meal ready! No, I did not get the turkey today even though that was my initial plan. The supermarket carries fresh turkey, that means I can wait till tomorrow to get it and get it primed for roasting on Thanksgiving morning or maybe the evening before Thanksgiving for a slow all night roasting.

I have already started my Christmas shopping though. I do not fancy the mad rush the couple of weeks before Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Canoeing on the Cosumnes

Some weeks ago, Doug bought a used canoe. He couldn't wait to take the canoe out on a river. He had heard about canoeing and kayaking on the Cosumnes River Preserve and a couple of weeks ago, he and the kids checked out the area and came home with a list of activities that go on at the Preserve.

Among the activities that are carried out regularly at the Preserve is a monthly guided tour of the river. Today was the last of the guided river tour for the year.

Doug unloading the canoe at the car park of the Visitor Center at the Cosumnes River Preserve. I thought we were late but there were several people arriving at about the same time as we did.

Our friends, Richard and Kathy brought their kayaks. I did not know that Kathy could kayak! redface Duncan ran off to meet them when he saw them.

Doug modified a furniture moving dolly for moving his canoe.

The dolly works well eh! Though next time we should get a proper one, like the one that Kathy and Richard used to move their kayaks.

There were about 15 canoes and kayaks. I have not paddled anything in a long, long time, and we sort of zigged-zagged our way along the river! Doug claims he knows how to steer a boat, but in my estimation, he wasn't all that good! mrgreen

Good thing the canoes and kayaks are light crafts and when we bumped into each other, all one had to do was just push the other canoe/kayak away.

The rive was quite placid, and the scenery along the river was quite spectacular.

Ducks on the river? No, those are decoys!

Those decoys look pretty real, don't they? It is duck hunting season and we came across two groups of duck hunters. Of course our tour leader made sure he went ahead of us to warn the hunters that a group of people were paddling along the river.

I thought the hunters camouflaged themselves pretty well! I did not notice they were there till I was really close to them! There was a couple and their dog on this well-camouflaged boat.

At some parts of the river, there were some thick vegetation. Seaweeds or what? I don't exactly know what they are called, but Doug doesn't think they are kelp because kelp grows in sea water.

Kathy and Richard on their kayaks. The kayakers can move a lot faster than us. Er, actually the others on the canoes also moved a lot faster than us!

Thumbs up from the kid who squirmed so much that I felt like hitting him with my paddle! I do not like being on a boat that rocks too much! Denice chose not to come with us. She is just too afraid of being on a boat and on the water. We left her at home with two baby sitters minding her.

We stopped and got out of our canoes and kayaks at one spot. Doug rocked the canoe too much as he tried to get out and he fell into the water.

Yup, that's Doug all wet! The water was cold but not that cold! His cell phone and wallet got wet. But fortunately the phone still works.

Even though we started off before everybody else after that short stop, everyone passed us after a while!

We spent about three and a half hours on the river. This is the scene after the river tour. I enjoyed the canoeing very much and look forward to more.

Doug says canoeing is good exercise for me. Yeah, but now my left shoulder hurts and I feel some arthritic pain from my shoulder down to my elbows! cry

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Friends of the NRA Fundraiser

This year the County Line Friends of the NRA fund raiser was held at a barn in nearby Herald. The barn is a lot bigger than the hall we rented for last year's fund raiser. But the acoustic was horrible. There were about the same number of people this year when compared to last year's event.

Everyone on my table agreed that the bar-be-cued tri-tip, salad and beads were delicious. Simple but superb.

For twenty dollars, you get a mug where there were between $20 - $100 worth of raffle tickets in it. Of course it is a game of chance and you do not know whether you have more than $20 worth of tickets when you buy a mug!

Red necks clinging to their guns and religion? Heheh, the joke's on Obama!

Silent auction items.

Jewelry on silent auction. There were a few pieces that I really liked and found it hard not to make a bid on them!

There were some really interesting items on auction. A professional auctioneer led the auction.

This special edition hand gun was one of the items put up for auction.

This bronze deer sculpture was one of the items on auction.

I had hoped that I would at least win one item this year. I bought a $20 ticket on the Sarah Palin Freedom Board, for a chance to win this gun.

I bought a $100 worth of raffle tickets and had hoped to win at least one of these beauties. Alas, Lady Luck was not with me that evening! :-(

Maybe next year, eh?

"To disarm the people... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
-- George Mason, speech of June 14, 1788


Last week, Denice was invited to join her classmate to her dance class during their Bring a Friend Week. Denice was very excited about the event and looked forward to it.

Unfortunately when we arrived at the dance studio she had an anxiety attack, cried and refused to even enter the studio. She already had her tap dancing shoes on but it was like making her take a shot at the doctor's office!

Anyway the dance teacher let us in the studio and we sat in a corner and watched the kids go through their exercises. I encouraged Duncan to join the girls just to encourage Denice. He had a lot of fun!

I found a pair of ballet shoes for Duncan and he put them on. He didn't care they were pink!

Towards the last 20 minutes of the class, Denice relaxed a bit and started imitating the moves from her corner. She still refused to join them on the floor though.

Can you see Denice in the mirror imitating the dance move? I was busy taking photographs and did not notice that she had started following some of the dance moves.

But at the last 10 minutes of the class, she joined the other kids for the story telling session and also followed some of the moves.

In the car, on our way home, she said she wanted to go to another of the dance class. Too late Denice, you had your chance and you blew it!

Actually, we are planning on sending her to a dance class. The fall classes are now open for new students. They also have jazzercise for adults at that dance studio. I might sign up for that too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I love my iPhone!

Two nights ago, as I was doing research for a review I was going to do, the lights suddenly went out. My surge protector beeped for a while and then my computer completely shut down. We suspected that someone had crashed into a power pole because the lights flickered twice as if trying to get power from somewhere else.

Anyway, it remained dark for at least 45 minutes. BUT, about 2 weeks or so ago my mother-in-law upgraded my Motorola Razr phone to an iPhone 3G. That means despite not being able to use my desktop computer, I was still able to browse the internet and read up on the days news online using my iPhone by candlelight! Woohoo!

I really love my iPhone. It has a calender and I am now using that feature on the iPhone. I don't have to scribble on my appointment calender hanging on my wall for upcoming events. I like the fact that the iPhone calender has an alert feature, and that helps remind me of the appointments that I have for the day.

Previously, I never thought I needed a PDA because I didn't have to keep track of too many things. Moreover, I did not think I was going to be able to learn how to use one! Heheh. But now my kids are in kindergarten, and there are appointments that the kids have to go to like Duncan to his speech therapy, or their dental appointments and my weekly meetings with some ladies at church and also reminders for upcoming events.

Also I like the alarm feature. I use the alarm to remind me to pick up the kids after school, and take my hypertension medication. Without these alarms, many times I would most definitely have forgotten to pick up my kids or take my medication!!

My favorite feature on the iPhone (besides the phone itself and the built-in iPod) is the internet browsing capability. The family plan that we are on (paid for by my in-laws) includes unlimited web browsing. That means while I wait for Duncan to finish with his speech therapy, I can browse the web! Forget about a bulky book!! And while I eat my breakfast at home, I can read up on the days news on my iPhone instead of holding a newspaper! Woohoo!

Yes, yes, I am quite enamored with my iPhone!

Criminal background check

Some weeks ago, a friend shared how she discovered a convicted sex and violence offender was living a few doors down the road from her home. Someone had left a 'INDIANA SEX & VIOLENT OFFENDER REGISTRY' in her newspaper box and that was how she discovered that a convicted sex offender was one of her neighbors.

I think if we are concerned about whether or not there are convicted child molesters and other convicted felons living in our neighborhood there are free resources like the online Offender Search database of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department website that we can look up.

But if you are an employer or a landlord and wants to do a Background Check or a Criminal Check of your potential employee or tenant, a sheriff's department Offender Search database is not going to be enough. You want a company or a service that can provide a comprehensive criminal check showing felonies, misdemeanors, sex offenses and more at the state and county levels. For such a comprehensive service there is usually a fee involved, but the information you get regarding your potential employee or tenant is worth the fee you pay.

As a parent, I appreciate the fact that the people my children are in contact with, like those at their school and my church, have each gone through a thorough Criminal Background Check. As a parent I cannot be too careful about whether or not the adults that they are exposed to have a criminal history.

It has been a while since I looked at the sex offender registry for the county I live in and I think it is time that I look it up again!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Discrimination in special ed services

I took Duncan for his first speech therapy session for this new school year last Monday. From what I observed during the session this speech therapist will be good for Duncan. She was firm and got Duncan to do what she wanted. Duncan is the kind of kid who finds it difficult to sit still for long and focus on the activity at hand.

The only disappointment I have over this speech therapy thing, is that Duncan is only entitled to 15 sessions this year. Why? This special ed service receives federal funding and one of the conditions that this service is offered is that the child must attend a public school. Duncan is in private kindergarten. I thought the condition was unfair and discriminatory. As a taxpayer, I have no choice whether or not I should pay the school taxes. Part of the taxes I pay goes to the schools in the school district that I live in.

I have a meeting scheduled with the therapist and another therapist the middle of next week, to see if there was anything they could do to fit Duncan into one group speech therapy session, that is, besides the 15 one-on-one session that he is entitled to.

I think my health insurance covers speech therapy, but who wants to drive 10 miles to go to a speech therapy that lasts half an hour when there is one offered just 2 miles down the road? I hope the therapists can work something out for us because I believe there shouldn't be any discrimination in the special ed services offered. It shouldn't matter if your child is in public school or private school.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kelantan Maghi Part 2

Last month before we made our way back to California, we visited Kelantan. It had been more than 25 years since I was last in Kelantan and I don't remember all that much about Kota Bharu. There were two things I remembered most about that first trip. One, I couldn't understand a word of the Kelantanese dialect, and two, I enjoyed the different foods there.

This time around, I did not have difficulty understanding anyone, probably because they mostly spoke the proper Bahasa Malaysia except with their Kelantanese accent, and the food was as fabulous as I remembered! mrgreen Er, except for the tough squid that I had at the food market!

One of the things that surprised me most, something I never knew about Kelantan, was the number of Buddhist temples found there. And I am not talking about little temples! These are large temples with large statues of Buddha in them. I did not associate Kelantan with Buddhist temples. In Sabah and Sarawak, and even Penang, yes, but Kelantan?

This is the entrance to the Thai Buddhist temple called Wat Photivihan.
This reclining Buddha is huge. You would expect to see a Buddha statue like this in Thailand but this Buddha is found at Wat Photivihan in Tumpat, Kelantan.

A pose with Zawi. Zawi was kind enough to take us around Kota Bharu and surrounding areas when we visited Kelantan.

This sitting Buddha is found at Phram Buddha Bharameedharm Charmruslok ... whatever that means!

I thought it strange that there were dragons in this Buddhist temple and statues of Chinese deities.

In the evening, after a day of sight-seeing Buddhist temples and being driven to some other attractions in Kota Bharu, we met up with a few bloggers and their friends and family at a restaurant serving Kelantanese cuisine. It was a popular restaurant and Doug was impressed by the food he ate.

L-R: Awin, Zawi, Pakpayne, Kamal, Doug and Captain Yusuf, and Duncan in the front. Wan Aziz is not in the picture.

Doug is now keen to see the other states in Peninsular Malaysia after that visit to Kelantan!