Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

The 2013-2014 School Year Opens Tomorrow

The new school year is here and with that the new first graders and new high schoolers will come back from summer vacation tomorrow. The other students come back later in the week. As I was at school last week cleaning up one of the computers of a teacher who resigned, I found a couple pictures that I hadn't seen.

When a teacher comes in with a camera (when I'm teaching), I tend to either ignore them and try to get the kids back focused on me, or I just stand there doing something stupid or make a fake serious face so they don't get any good photos ;) The school likes to send teachers into our classes to take photos, then suddenly one day you see your photo up on a banner advertising the school somewhere, without asking your permission...so we give them a hard time about it, haha!

This day, it appears, the fifth graders and I were going over some of the body systems using the anatomical dummy. These lessons are always in the beginning of the first term so the kids are able to get out all the giggles before we hit sex education in health class a little later in the semester. I do actually laugh a lot and look a little less scary, but again, there was a photographer roaming the back of the classroom so I was acting stupid.

So, here we go again! Soon I'll embark on my seventh year of teaching elementary school students (our 6th grade is technically middle school back home if I remember correctly). Wish us a good year of learning and growing!!

2013 New York Vacation - Touristy Places

Here are some pictures from the hundreds we took of places where we checked out while we were in the city. Many of these places are must sees for anyone going to New York City. A few of the things that we didn't do were Grand Central Station, Ellis Island, The Intrepid Museum and other places that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. We tried to go see the 9/11 Memorial, but after standing in line for free tickets, we ran out of time (chose to take a ferry to Staten Island instead for a closer look at the Statue of Liberty). Here are some of the places we visited:

Times Square is probably the most visited tourist attraction in the whole world! It's funny too, it's not like there's much to do there, but there are the lights, people to watch, lots of hotels, lots of food and just a giant intersection with people milling around taking pictures and enjoying the atmosphere of being right around the theater district and all of the sounds of life in the big city. The New Years dropping of the ball doesn't hurt either ;)
Well, when I said there's not much to do in Times Square, I guess I was talking out of my butt! As you can see in the picture above, there's plenty of action there! I really enjoyed taking this photo of Pae and the Naked Cowboy in Times Square! It was one of the first nights that we were in NYC and I had seen this guy or one of them (I think there are several Naked Cowboys) in the past. I convinced her to go give the guy a one dollar bill...and he just orchestrated things from there, hahaha!! Classic photo of Pae!

I had seen the Flatiron Building in photos of NYC and I'm sure I've walked past it when I was in NYC, but the opposite direction and never actually stood and looked at it. It fits perfectly in a little intersection of two streets that run into each other at a very acute angle. I believe it's at the intersection of Broadway and 5th.
We actually had a great view of the Empire State Building from our hotel room. This is a photo taken from street level somewhere near the big Macy's and Korean Way. Eventually, we would make our way to the top of the Empire State Building for a day and night view of the city. Beautiful and they predictably were selling King Kong plush dolls in the gift shop there ;)
Lady Liberty

We didn't get to go to Liberty Island and got no closeup photos of her because it is shut down until repairs and upgrades are completed from Hurricane Sandy. Even from a distance, she is beautiful and symbolic.

One World Trade Center building continues to rise from the literal ashes of the twin towers. This is a beautiful building architecturally. The mirrored glass reflects the sky beautifully. The size and angles give a feeling of strength.

One of the most popular photo ops in NYC; Radio City Music Hall
Rockefeller Center is actually many buildings, but this is one of the main ones and looks beautiful. I remember when I used to work in NYC with Deloitte, I would come over here just to eat my lunch...for atmosphere.
The Prometheus statue (sculpture) in the lower plaza of the Rockefeller Center. There is usually an ice skating rink here but this visit there was an outdoors cafe.
The Washington Square Arch in Washington Square honoring our first president; George Washington.

I can't really say what this building down near the Financial District is. I think it's a government building on Chambers Street right behind City Hall. It looked cool so we snapped a few pix.

And what's a trip to a city without taking advantage of their mass transit system? We bought a week pass to get around the city on the subway. It was pretty easy and I only got confused once...or twice...Pae had more experience on the subway than me and had to point me in the right direction a couple times ;)

2013 New York Vacation - Brooklyn

There's a recurring theme in many of these vacation posts...nature, flowers, etc. I mean, we were in NYC in early spring and the Manhattan streets were starting to turn green and the fruit trees and decorative flowering trees were all in bloom. We probably dont' have to tell you that we really like this ;)

Things like Coney Island and other places closer to the water were closed down because of damage and repair from Hurricane Sandy last year. So when thinking about Brooklyn, the first and only places we really wanted to visit there was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

The cherry trees and magnolias at the garden were beautiful. Maybe only half of the setup of of trees were in full bloom, but for us it was perfect as the trees around the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden were just exploding with blossoms!

The Cherry Esplanade, four rows of cherry trees, went into full bloom a week after we left and as of May 10th was still in full bloom!

The BBG website was amazing, with daily updates of every tree and where the individual tree was as far as its spring blooming. When we were walking around, we actually saw four botanists with a clipboard walking around together, looking at each tree, talking about the tree and the change of the buds and blossoms for that individual tree from the previous day's inspection, and recording the data.

I'm sure an intern or someone would eventually get that data and put it into the website, which Pae and I monitored religiously, everyday for weeks leading up to our visit!!

After walking through the garden and taking in the plants and flowers, we walked and had some lunch at a little restaurant in the area.

We then made our way to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade which was located on the west side of Brooklyn and had a great view of the bottom half skyline (Financial District) of Manhattan.

The weather was still a little chilly, but after walking around for so long, we were in and out of our coats and hoodies. We had a terrible time finding a bathroom in the area, but slipped into a public laundry and made things right. We did a little people watching on the Promenade, took some pictures of the Statue of Liberty which could be seen off in the distance and then decided, after much thought, to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan!
The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic structure and beautiful to see up close. It was quite a long walk just to find the base of the bridge. Seemed like we had to walk all the way back to BBG! But eventually with a lot of legwork and actual sweat, we found ourselves dodging bicyclists as we walked the length of the bridge constantly checking out the view of the bridge, downtown and midtown from that vantage point.

When we got to the Wall Street area on the other side of the bridge, we had a waffle, found another bathroom (thank you Starbucks!!) and continued on our way. I'm glad we spent half a day in Brooklyn.

Happy 1st Birthday Bangkok Runners

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the creation of the running group I most associate myself; Bangkok Runners. They are very active both physically and socially. I meet up with them twice or three times a month for runs but don't. Sunday was a 10K run at Lumpini Park here in Bangkok, a get together that was followed by a breakfast at a local hotel.

The run was just that, a run, not a race, even though there were gift mugs for the first three finishers by gender just for those rabbits who can't go slow ;)

I invited Eric to run with me and to even meet some of the Bangkok Runners that he may hear me talking about sometimes, and for some of them to be able to place a face with the guy I always refer to as "Eric, my training partner" and "My friend Eric". We agreed that we would run together since we were just out there for a little run, not serious. It was a rough run since I haven't run too much in the past two months, pretty much since the Japan Fun Runners Marathon and because we had to wake up before 5:00 AM to get to the park. I think Eric has similarly been out of training...It's our summer break and there are no future runs that we are really getting ready for!! Which is fine by me...it was a rough year last year with training...physically and mentally really.

We finished in a little over 52 minutes, about where we expected. A Japanese guy finished in like 36 minutes with a small trio of speedsters following him in the 40's. There are some fast people out there!

We had a special guest who is friends of K-san, one of the run organizers. Now honorary member of Bangkok Runners ;) I cut and past this from my Facebook page to post here as well:

Meeting new people with a common interest (running) is one reason I enjoy attending Bangkok Runners events. Today I met Greg Wilson who was introduced to us as the 2012 US Champion for 10K in his age group (60-64). As we were talking, we found out that we are both former Marines who live(d) and served in Hawaii! Another Brother (Bruddah).

Greg did his Achilles in the first kilometer of the run but hung out and chatted with many of us at the finish line and at breakfast. Eric and I saw him talking in the men's room when we were picking up our bag and later Eric expressed that it would be cool to be able to just sit and chat with him. A little later, I did just that. Eventually it came out that we had a lot in common, as previously stated, and I thought that was pretty cool!!

It was a good day. It was a nice run. It was nice to see and talk to so many Bangkok Runners, old and new faces all. It was good to continue running with Eric, my friend and training partner. It was good to meet a Champion, Marine and Brother. It was great to pile ham on my plate from the buffet and skip the omelets because there wasn't enough room (because of the ham!). It's good to go into the second year of Bangkok Runners' existence knowing that we are alive, thriving and growing as a running group, a social group and a community!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 New York Vacation - Central Park

Who can go to NYC without enjoying and taking in Central Park? After our little trek to Riverside Park, we walked over to Central Park. What a beautiful place, even in the late winter/early spring.

Many of the trees were still standing dormant, waiting for a small rise in temperature before they started to regrow their leaves or sprout flowers. The rest of the trees were either starting to become green or bloom fully with flowers.

There were so many Cherry trees and Magnolias in Central Park and when we were there, most of them seemed to be in full, glorious bloom!

It was fun to walk around and share the park with other tourists as well as dog walkers taking packs of pups for their afternoon potty break, nannies finally able to take the infants under their care out for some "spring's-finally-here" warmth and private school kids out for field trips to the gardens or physical education classes out for a run around The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

We must have walked for hours, seriously HOURS!!

We stopped by Bow Bridge for the view which is breathtaking especially with the overcast skies and cool colors of the freshly sprouting weeping willows.

There is so much to see in Central Park, I swear it would probably take three days or more to see everything there without rushing through it. And if you were to actually sit and picnic or go for a long run throughout the park, I'm sure it would be years worth of fun.

We were there this time in the transition between winter and spring...I can only imagine the place in full bloom during spring.

I can imagine how full and green the park is during the warmth of summer. The change in the foliage in the New York autumn or the branches of the giant trees bending under the weight of a blanket of freshly fallen winter snow.

It is an amazing place, in the middle of a giant concrete jungle, sanctuary. We'll be back here, someday, and we'll spend some time here, at Central Park. It's certainly a must. Walking around and sharing it with Pae was lovely and I can't imaging any better way to experience it!

2013 New York Vacation - 91st Street Garden

We started the New York leg of our trip to the states by wandering out to find a little garden that we are familiar with from the movie "You've Got Mail". This is the place in Riverside Park where Joe (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen's (Meg Ryan) characters finally meet (with Joe's dog Brinkley). 

This is one of our favorite movies as it is set in one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world and because the relationship between the two lead characters grows over time over the internet. Now, Pae and I had met in New York and started to get to know each other better via emails, chats and eventually phone calls, etc., but the gist of the romantic comedy has its similarities ;)

So, other than 42nd Street Port Authority, this was one of the mandatory visits of our trip!! All we were missing was a Brinkley ;)

And I'll end with a quote from the movie...There are many similarities and parallels with Pae and my courtship, relationship and eventual marriage:

"What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you."
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