Sunday, January 31, 2010


Another week has gone by, soon the first month, January, of the year will also be "gone". Where did the time go? What have I done the last few weeks? Not much, just the same old routines, 8+ hours at the circus, watching hockey games on ESPN and Versus or spending time in cyberspace in the evenings, then football (NFL playoffs) and taking care of errands on the weekends and dreaming of winning the lottery so I never had to put up with all the clowns, the donkeys, and the bulls at the circus ever again!
This is not a good week for the Red Wings and it does not look like it will get better. For the first time, I don't look forward to NHL post-season match-ups. What happened TOTA, we thought you were hockey fanatic? My ailing beloved Detroit Red Wings, is what happened. It was painful to watch the team struggles, even against lousy team like the Coyotes. It was not the first time that the Wings had a 2-point leads going into the third period, unable to maintain the leads, only to either loss in overtime or shootout. The last five games, the Wings had blown the chance of victory despite of having third-period leads. This time last year the Wings maintained a comfortable top spot, currently they are chasing other teams just to get into the last playoffs spot. It is killing my hockey spirits knowing that the Wings might not even make it into the playoffs this year. Well, I will try not to think about the Wings right now, I will think about it after the Superbowl. On a positive note, I have been pretty good at picking the winning teams for the NFL playoffs the last few weeks. (Another reason why I am depressed - my beloved New England Patriots, defeated by the Baltimore Ravens, could not get into the playoffs either.) I could have pocketed a few dollars if the guys would agree to place their bets. They all said that when it comes to football and hockey, they would have not any chance of winning against me! (The photo below represents what I love, America/American flag/National Anthem and hockey/Detroit Red Wings.)
I was looking for photos of bicycle rides as a way to provide moral-distance-support to Qaptain Qwerty and found these photos taken last December of the new I-64 Grand Opening. According to MoDOT, more than 2,500 people (we were among these brave souls) participated in the ceremony by walking, running, bicycling, dancing and some doing aerobic on exercise mats in the middle of the freeway. Last year, we also attended the first half opening and it was a lot of fun to be able to walk (it was the only time) on the freeway. I also like to watch the American flag, up high on the ladders, waving in the wind against the blue sky, courtesy of the fire department.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Here is my Show and Tell weather report - freezing cold temperature, the proof is in the bottom photo showing the icicles hanging on the evergreen and the fresh snow on the ground from last night. You could tell that we have a very active backyard from the cute footprints of a rabbit, a bird and a cat or a small dog, on the fresh snow. Mind you, we don't live out in middle of nowhere farm land. Our backyard faces a rather busy street connecting the main road (MO-100) and secondary road, yet we have had the pleasure of "hosting" a fawn being born and a whole town of rabbits running around. (We provided shelter and food for both mother and child, but they never visited at Christmas nor even sent an email to say hi.)
I thought the photo below of the snow on our half-dead apple tree looks like a frozen smile on a face of an old person. What do you think it looks like? This summer, we plan to cut down this tree and plant another one but we have not decided on what kind of tree. Any suggestions?
I plan to go out later to a book sale at the library. I promise I will not make any new purchases without giving away the same quantity from my bookshelves. I probably should stop by the department store to get us new pillows. Perhaps I should spend a few more dollars to get the types that would provide therapeutic support. Any recommendations?
I will be back later with additional reports. This is TOTA, signing off from a freezing cold Saturday morning in St. Louis!

Friday, January 29, 2010


When I saw the above hair salon "The Mane Event" on Main Street in Chandler, Oklahoma, I immediately thought of Qaptain Qwerty and knew that as a punster, the Qaptain would appreciate the humor and clever name the owner has chosen for this business. This post is for you, Qap. They say laughter is the best medicine, so I hope you get a good chuckle from the above photo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


No, I am not talking about the State of the Union address (although that is exactly what it is about). I am not referring to the bickering coming from the Losing Party after the recent historic election in Massachusetts, either. I am just posting a few photos from our trip to Oklahoma. The Sooners State is famous for its castle routes between 1866 and 1889 by Texas ranchers moving their castles to the closest railroads. The ranchers also found the territory a good location for raising castles as well.
Above - A colorful bull appears to be in "deep thoughts" outside Johnny Bench Plaza in Bricktown, Oklahoma City.
Below - Even the noise reduction wall along the highway got decorated with running bulls.
Below - A steel bull is guarding the entrance into Sugar Hill subdivision, near Arcadia, Oklahoma.

Monday, January 25, 2010


The League of American Bicyclists named St. Louis as one of the 14 cities that are bicycle-friendly. St. Louis offers more than 70 miles of on-street designated bicycle lanes, created by Bike St. Louis. We also have many bike trails, especially the famous Katy Trail, Hey Qaptain Qwerty, how about bringing your bike to St. Louis to participate in Tour of Missouri, or see for yourself whether St. Louis is really a bicycle-friendly city or better yet, bring JL and make it father-and-son bike trip?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Brooklyn Heights Baptist Church in Brooklyn Heights, Missouri (not New York). To get to this Brooklyn Heights, from St. Louis, Westbound, take Old 66 Boulevard to the JCT (Junction) with Business 71 (Highway 171). To get to Brooklyn Heights in New York City, take the subway #2 or #3 and get off at Clark St. station (Note - there is no subway from St. Louis to Brooklyn Heights, Missouri - haa haa).
Above - "Always On Alert" is the work of chainsaw sculptor Clayton Coss as a tribune to all firefighters whose bravery and devotion to duty were so apparent on September 11, 2001 in New York City. Mr. Coss, a Tulsa native and a well known chainsaw artist, coverted a diseased pecan tree into the above sculptor. We saw the sculptor when passing by the car dealership (Chrysler,Dodge, Jeep) Crown Bristow, in Bristow, Oklahoma.
Below - A life-size Statue of Liberty waves at motorists at an intersection in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. We just took the photo and were on our way so I don't have any information about this scuplture and its history.

Below - Another Statue of Liberty in front of Route 66 Mall in Chelsea, Oklahoma. The mall was closed when we stopped by.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This is the proof that my life is so boring that I find it interesting just watching a chunk of ice floating down the Mississippi River. Or you could say that it is truly simple living, enjoy each moment and appreciate the beauty of nature. I sure sound like a typical AARP card-carrying geezer! Now where did I put my reading glasses?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A replica of the boat, the white pirogue, used by Lewis & Clark was on displayed for people to climb aboard to relive the days of the 1804 Corps of Discovery Expedition. Volunteers from the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site dressed up as explorers, fur traders and frontiersmen.
The campsite offered a glimpse of life during the early 19th century.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A beautiful cold day to be outside watching the eagles. Would you believe that this is our first Eagle Days since moving to St. Louis in 1994? Thanks to Columbia Bottom Conservation Area for providing spotting scopes in the center of the Bridge for viewing. These telescopes were so good that looking thru them the eagles seem so close, I could almost touch them!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


What happened? Only mid-January and I already broke one of my New Year Resolutions. Well, I actually did not have any resolutions, I just thought I would try to set a record with 365 posts in 2010. Then I remember that blogging should be fun and not setting meaningless target or turning it into some kind of competition such as which blog gets the most followers (I would never get anywhere in this category), being the most interesting blog (Fuhgeddaboutit), or to be selected by Blogs of Note (I think this is more a curse than blessings). So what has kept me so busy that I have not blogged since Wed. January 13th? The whole week went by so fast starting with attending City Council meeting on Monday, January 11th when I shared my American story of coming to America 30 years ago. I received a nice applause from the people in the audience. On Wednesday, January 13th, I did not get home until almost 9:30 p.m. from a business meeting, after already putting in a full day at the office.

On Thursday the 14th, I did not feel like blogging after dinner. Friday the 15th, I decided to watch a Jackie Chan movie with my husband. Recently, CMP discovered the joy of borrowing DVDs, instead of books, from the library. Then came the weekend, there was nothing more important than NFL Playoffs beginning on Saturday. Sadly, Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals did not make it against the Saints. I was happy that the Colts eliminated the Ravens 20-3, no surprise there!
Sunday, we went to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge for Eagle Days. I took the photo below using my new Canon camera with the maxium zoom, 50 yards from the bridge.

We had a great time but I did not want to miss the Cowboys v. Vikings game at 1pm. I was also able to catch the Red Wings/Blackhawks game - it was an exciting game that went into overtime with Datsyuk and Bertuzzi scored two beautiful goals but the Wings lost in the 2nd shootout. I was pleasantly surprised when the NY Jets beat the Chargers 17-14.

The whole week went by so fast and a good, exhausting weekend with so many football/hockey games to watch. I sure hope my adoring fans will forgive me for not blogging often since the NFL playoffs continue this weekend, the Superbowl on Sunday, February 7th and pretty soon the NHL playoffs will begin. Life is good :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


To commemorate my family 30th anniversary coming to America, I have been posting images of the American flag in various places around town-St. Louis, along Route 66, and I plan to post images from Grand Haven, Michigan, New York, Alaska, Colorado and all other towns I visited. Many people have posted on their blogs images of the above barn in an open field with the American flag painted on the side facing Route 66 in Nilwood, Illinois. One blogger called the image, "Patriotic Barn". To me, an old barn with the American flag is so beautifully Americana.
Above - Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois, was built in 1931 and still is serving good food and delicious homemade pies to anyone who seeks a real meal like Mom's cooking.
Above - The Unveiling of the Awakening sculpture in October 2009, Chesterfield, Missouri. It was a well-attended event and I had the opportunity to meet the artist, Mr. J. Seward Johnson, Jr. The Awakening is on permanent displayed also at the National Harbor in Maryland and at Piazza Marconi in Rome.
Below - A roundable in the town center, Carthage, Missouri.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Above - Waylan's Ku Ku Burger in Miami (pronounced My-am-uh), Oklahoma. The famous restaurant and its 1965 neon sign still welcome travelers wishing to try an "Okie burger" or a buffalo burger. It is hard to believe that back in the 1960s there were more than 200 Waylan's Ku Ku Burger restaurants throughout the Midwest. This is the last and only Waylan's still standing.
Above - Items on displayed at Galena Museum, used during the early mining that made Galena, Kansas, a lead mine boom town.
Above - Tickets booth, closed for the season, 66 Drive-In, Carthage, Missouri.
Below - A neighborhood bar in Nilwood, Illinois.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This giant standing tall in front of Lauterbach's Tire and Auto Service on Wabash Street, along the Route 66 1926-1930, in Springfield, Illinois. The giant used to hold a large muffler. I am glad that the owner replaced the muffler with an American flag. These photos are appropriate to post following my 30th anniversary coming to America entry. It looks as if the Lauterbach Giant extends a warm welcome to America to all those seeking freedom and liberty in the new land.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


(Above photo of Ms. Green M. Liberty was taken in December 2007 at the Hershey Store in Times Square, NYC.)
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of my family coming to America. It is a family tradition that I will call my Mom, sister and brothers to say "Happy Anniversary". My husband and I are trying to shed a few pounds, so there will be no fancy dinner to celebrate the occassion, instead we went to our favorite restaurant, the Mandarin House on Page Avenue and I-170, for Dim Sum (a southeastern Cantonese dialect, meaning "dot your heart"). Dim sum is collective dishes of beef, shrimp, chicken, pork, in assorted small portion, steamed, fried, broiled, and served as appetizers, snacks and sweet pastries, from approximately 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the weekends. (In NYC or other big cities, dim sum is served everyday.)

I have been thinking about what I would write for this post about our 30th Anniversary. One of the blogs I enjoy reading is from David Michael Bruno,, and he wrote, "these days when a person achieves something like the American Dream (let's just say that's moving solidly into the upper-middle class), his lifestyle changes. He becomes a cigar aficionado and also starts collecting fine wines. He starts driving a sports car or a luxury car, perhaps both. He buys a larger, flatter TV and pays for access to sports cable networks."

Well, I have not become a cigar aficionado or collecting fine wines (I don't consume alcohol) and though I love hockey and football, I would not pay extra for sports cable networks. We drive a sport car (well, the T-bird belongs to my husband) and recently purchase a 48" HD lcd tv with blue ray dvd player. With the current economy and the unknown future, I don't think we would ever move into the upper-middle class but I know we have achieved the American Dream.

Here is what I wrote on January 10, 2008, "28 years later, did we achieve the American Dream? Compared to some people, we did. We have achieved the level of comfortable living, earned college education, being homeowners, professional employment, and most of all, watching my nephew growing up in a country with plenty of opportunities to achieve more and become better than previous generations. Compared to others, we are not millionaires, nor owners of international companies, not well-known politicians or leaders, not movie stars or even contestant on American Idols!
We have achieved the American Dream in our own way. There are still other levels we could try to reach. I am thankful for all the people who have provided assistance, extended friendship and helping hands. I know my Dad is smiling and saying, "Good work", as our family celebrate our 28th Anniversary coming to America. To my Dad, the foundation and the guiding light, Happy Anniversary. I sure hope there is plenty of chocolate ice cream in heaven for you to enjoy, Dad."

I left Viet Nam when I was 18.5 years old, so I have actually lived in America longer. I am always proud to be an American and I appreciate all the blessings we have received living in America. Earlier this year, my sister and I planned to visit Viet Nam but it did not work out. It just occurred to me that it would not be so terrible or a disappointment if I never go back to visit my birthplace. I had many wonderful memories growing up but there were also many unpleasant incidents that I would not care to remember.

Yes, I believe we are living the American Dream, by our own definitions of hard work, paying taxes, owning our homes, taking care of our families, being active in our community, performing civic duties, making contributions for the good of society and never take freedom and liberty for granted.

(PS: My anniversary celebration was dampened when my Patriots failed badly to the Baltimore Ravens, final score 33-14 Ravens. On the good side, yesterday the NY Jets advanced beating the Bengals 24-14 and the Cowboys eliminated the Eagles 34-14. What is with all the losing teams only getting 14 points? Next game is the Packers v. Cardinals this evening. Whichever team wins is fine with me as I like both Rodgers and Warner.)

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Thanks to Jeremiah - for sharing the article about the Final Party at Tavern on the Green - Ringing in the New Year one last time at Tavern on the Green. [DJ], "It ended, as it all began, in a rush of light. But even the brilliance of its mirrored corridors, twinkling trees and shimmering heirloom chandeliers could not avert the bankruptcy blackout of Tavern on the Green." Reading from the article that people paid $125 to $500 to attend the party, I don't feel too bad paying that overpriced breakfast on New Year Day in 2008 now that this famous landmark in New York City Central Park had vanished. But then again, we would never have the opportunity to enter the Private Dining Room (below photo). As reported, "The name-ownership issue has been a flash point in Tavern’s bankruptcy case since the name — which has been appraised at $19 million — is potentially the restaurant’s most valuable asset.", I feel so special that I ate, even just once, at a place that worth $19 million just for its name!
According to the article, "And the restaurant’s vast, glitzy assemblage of candelabras, samovars, weathervanes, sculptures, murals, prints, lighting fixtures, topiaries and other eccentric assets are all to go on the auction block in a three-day sale in Tavern by Guernsey’s Auction House, scheduled to begin Jan. 13. ". With all the problems we are having with travelling, I don't think I will make the trip to NYC for that auction! Besides I was supposed to strive towards being clutter-free and let go of meaningless earthly possession. I think the credit card receipt is good enough as a souvenir from a place once was known as Tavern on the Green at Central Park!

Friday, January 08, 2010


I am so relieved the work days of this week have come to an end. (Yes, I know I should just say TGIF - Thanks God It's Friday - but it would be so cliche, and I dislike overused cliche.) It was still not hectic at work but try getting back to the routine of a 5-day work week after two short weeks of holidays was not easy. Then yesterday, Thursday, we had the first snow fall of the year. The snow started on Wednesday night and by the next morning, the whole town was covered with snow, about 5 inches with freezing temperature in the single digit. The above photo, taken using my new Canon camera, shows our backyard under a blanket of snow. (I followed the advice of Qaptain Qwerty and set the images down to 4 mega pixels. Thanks, Qap.) Traditionally we take down the ornaments, the Christmas tree, and the Nativity after the Epiphany (the Feast of the three Kings) which was last Sunday, January 3rd. My husband placed the Nativity on the patio but the snow came, covered up the three Kings before CMP had time to move everything into the shed.
By the time I ventured out on the road, traffic was very light and most of major streets were clear. I did not encounter any major problems going home in the evening. The strong wind started around 8 and from my home office, I could hear the window rattling and at times as if someone was tapping on the glass.
The drive into work this morning was not too bad, just a few slick spots and I had to time the traffic light when going up the hill. The parking lot was still empty with most of the people in the building just took another day off. Tomorrow, I plan to get up late, stay inside all day to resume my quest of clutter-reduction and setting goals/projects for 2010. Sunday, January 10th, we plan to celebrate my 30th Anniversary coming to America.


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