Tuesday, January 31, 2012


During my regular "just checking" that my little boring blog did not disappear into the black hole of cyberspace, I was pleasantly surprised to find "20,008" on the Hit Counter. Thanks for all my adoring fans, especially Qaptain Qwerty, only with your kind support that TOTA reached this special milestone.
I know that blogging is about what I am doing in my little boring world. But I need to have a purpose, some kind of goals to keep blogging. To motivate myself with posting regularly I would decide how many posts each year and then try to break that record (i.e. in 2011, TOTA had 242 posts compared to 241 posts in 2010). I admired those who post every single day, some even post 2-3 times, with passion, well-written materials and intelligent information.

I did not wish to copy/paste an image of the television movie/film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", so these photos taken when we were at the Grand Teton National Park last September (2011) would serve as a celebration for this milestone of my little boring blog received 20,000 hits.

My next milestones will be to reach 1,000th post and break the records with 243 post by the end of 2012. Or I could wish for another 10 followers as well as getting regular comments. (I appreciate all the bloggers who put up with my settings for posting comments - I am sorry to make you jump thru all the hoops. It is the only way I know so that I don't get any spam or "junk". Please know that your comments are appreciated and always made me very happy to "read" from you.) Thank you, thank you and thank you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Our activities during the last few weekends were arranged around the NFL playoffs schedule. For football fans, it was the most exciting time of the year. It was full of surprises starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers being eliminated by the Broncos - thanks to Tebow's last minute touchdown. Moving on to the Divisional Round, more surprises with the 49ers defeated the Saints (36-32) and the most shocking was the Giants being the Wild Card sent the Packers (with a winning season 15-1) home with a major victory (37-20). I was nervous watching the Patriots v. Broncos game because I could not decide which team should win since I like both Brady and Tebow. The Giants were the only Wildcard team to move on to the Conference Round, facing the 49ers. The AFC game between Patriots v. Ravens - Brady did not play too well and the Patriots were lucky to win that game. The Ravens missed the field goal, unable to tie the game to send it to overtime. Interestingly, the Giants won the game with a field goal in overtime after the 49ers tied at the end of the 4th.
The XLVI Superbowl will be on Sunday, Feb. 5th in Indianapolis, Indiana. Watching all the activities leading up to the Big Day reminded of the excitement when we attended the XL Superbowl in Detroit. The Steelers won that year and the Seahawks never regained from that defeat. I am a bit nervous since this is the 2nd time my beloved Patriots play against my American hometown team the Giants. Five years ago I made the comment, "May the better team win". Not sure if I should say that again! I might just pay attention to the snacks (mini tacos and chicken wings are my favorite) instead of watching the game!
Hey Qap and Lone Gunman, would you care to place bets? You both could take the Giants against my Patriots. What would be your predictions (winning team and final scores)? How about milk shakes at Crown Candy for the prize?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


To ALL the men and women who served our country THANK YOU. We are thankful for the freedom you provided.

Let's never forget. Bring ALL of them home.

Friday, January 27, 2012


These photos were actually taken on Saturday, January 28th at the Welcome Home Parade for Iraq War veterans. St. Louis hosted this first major welcome home parade with thousands of people lining along Market Street in downtown, waving American flags and shouting "Thank You" to our servicemen and women as they marched from Kiener Plaza to Union Station. Most of the veterans waved to the crowd from military vehicles and floats sponsored by organizations. It was a real treat when we were able to reach out and shake hands (some gave hugs) to let the veterans know we were grateful for their service.

Don't get me wrong, I have always thought moving to St. Louis when my husband got the job transfer from Michigan was a good decision. St. Louis is a good place to live, mild winter compared to Michigan and much better cost of living compared to New York. Now I have one more reason to be proud of St. Louis for being the first in the nation to have this welcome home parade for our veterans. I clapped and shouted as loud as my voice allowed when the Vietnam veterans marched by where we stood. These veterans never received the welcome they deserved. I made eye contact with a veteran and said, "Cam On Ong". He understood the Vietnamese words I said, acknowledged my thanks and his eyes showed he was touched by my gesture.

It was a sunny but very windy day. I was glad to be able to capture this photo of the flag against the clear blue sky. Thanks to the two firemen (below photo) for staying up in this bucket to make sure the flag won't get twisted into a knot.

It was a great turnout and I was glad to see the full coverage of the parade by the media and tv networks. I plan to post additional photos of the parade in future posts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


There was no alien like the one above, but there were plenty of regular folks (included a grumpy geezer named TOTA) at the 2012 Ice Carnival in the Loop. The event was scheduled for the weekend of January 14th and 15th. It was cold but not windy and the streets were not covered with snow like last year. We again parked a few blocks away and walked along Delmar where the ice scupltures were on display in front of the sponsoring businesses. The sculptures were created as promotional pieces for the stores, some were very clever but not all the art works represent what is being sold in the stores.

Above ice sculpture was sponsored by Gyro House and it was fitting that it was Socrates or a typical Greek philosopher. (Hey Qaptain, have you been to Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens? I definitely would like to check it out next time I am in NYC.) We each ordered a house gyro with lamb meat and hold the onion for mine. Once again we are on a "diet" trying to cut back on sweet, so no baklava this time. Last year, I almost had to make an emergency trip to the dentist when a large chunk of honey would not let go of my dental crown.

Above sculpture was in front of a tattoo parlor. The line was long so I did not wait. Maybe next year I would get there early to be the first one in line!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


We have a small backyard and it is facing a rather busy two lanes road. Surprisingly the land still attracts wildlife such as deer (In 2007 our deer daughter June came to stay with us while giving birth to our deer granddaughter Heidi), squirrels, (my husband specially despises chipmunks), cardinals, blue jay, sparrows, yellow finch, hummingbirds and some kind of big black birds which we don't care too much. It all started around April of last year when I saw the yellow finch by the fence and decided that I wanted to see them "up close and personal" by the patio. They probably have always been flying around in our backyard but I never took the time to look out the kitchen windows. It must be old age that made me realize that I must take time to "smell the roses" or "watch the birds". We put out one feeder specifically for the finch and another feeder for hummingbirds. Currently we have one feeder for cardinals and one for blue jay. A bag of 20 lbs feed costs about $12. It just occurred to me whether we are becoming like the government with all the social (entitlement) programs that create dependency and a system that rewards people for being "freeloaders". Perhaps we should stop providing and let the birds fly around looking for food as nature intended. Don't the birds in the above photo look obese to you?

Monday, January 23, 2012


I thought the above ice scuplture of the dragon is fitting for this post celebrating the Lunar New Year being the Year of the Dragon.

This ice sculpture is on display in front of a business that sell baby stuff. I selected it for this post because the new year is like a baby. Hopefully this baby (looking good for being over 4,000 years old) will grow up strong, healthy and enjoy a bright future.

The business that sponsored the above sculpture was a sushi eatery. A whole fish is a popular dish on the Chinese New Year dinner menu. Fish, in Chinese pronunciation sounding like the word of abundance. Keep in mind if you are at such dinner, be careful not to flip the fish over because of an old superstition of equating flipping a fish with flipping a boat or fortune being turned upside down. Also, the head and tail of the fish must remain in tact to ensure good luck throughout the year.

Just a few more fish (from the Wildlights at the Zoo) for extra luck in 2012. (BTW, I am not really late with this post about the Lunar New Year or TET which is the Vietnamese New Year, since it is a 7 to14 days celebration - haa haa). Happy New Year to all and may the new year bring you good health, happiness, love, peace, blessings, liberty and justice!

Friday, January 20, 2012


I took this photo after we walked the entire length of Old Chain of Rocks Bridge from Missouri to Illinois. Why do I need to explain that the photo is on the Illinois side? Because the "Eagle Days" banner on the Missouri side was tangled and twisted by the wind. Someone did not go a good job at securing it to make sure the wind would not blow it into a knot! Since the banner was up high and not easy to fix, the "knot" was left "flowing in the wind".

It has been a busy week and I am pleased to report that I have accomplished a few more re-organization projects. (Last month I re-organized our food pantry to make room so we could stock up ready for the winter months.) At the stores, I noticed many shoppers picked up containers and organize systems. It is the new year and we all seemed to believe that we could somehow be "clutter-free" or become "zero accumulation" if only we have things in place.

I started with re-organizing the coats closet in the front room. Then I spent the entire morning on Saturday putting all the video tapes in boxes and move them to storage space in the spare bedroom. I organized the DVDs and found there are a few duplicates. That is where our money goes, buying things we don't need because it is on sale or forgot that we already got the same items or where we put them. It took three days to re-organize the dry bar. Five loads in the dishwasher for all the wine glasses, beer mugs, souvenir shot glasses, and now they are sparkling cleaned. Next, I re-organized the storage room in the basement. We were able to donate a blanket, a set of travel bags and a box of Christmas decorations we should not purchase in the first place. The last few years, instead of putting everything back in the boxes after the holidays, we set the goals that we would give away those that we could live without.

After letting go of my wedding dress, I had courage to pack up three more dresses and sent them to a thrift shop that funds shelter for pregnant teenagers. One of the dresses was a traditional red Chinese dress called cheongsam. I wore it in 1989 at the reception in New York given by my parents to their friends so they could prove that I did not just run away without a proper wedding ceremony. I was 50 lbs lighter and 23 years younger, so it would be appropriate to give the dress away for a good cause because I would never fit in it again and for a 51 years old geezer, I would look hideous in a red cheongsam!

What are your plans to achieve "clutter-free" or zero-accumulation goals?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I don't know about the owner of the above license plate but I know that when it comes to finding interesting vanity plates, I am the "Mighty One" compared to Qaptain Qwerty. Apparently, Da Qaptain tried to show off in his recent post with a collage of images of vanity plates he captured during his daily running. Hey Qap, I bet you a chili dog at The Varsity that I would find the most interesting (and clever) plate. Are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The 2012 Eagle Days took place last weekend (January 14-15). This annual event started in 1996 by a group of environmentally oriented organizations. We only began going to the viewing the last three years (even though we have been living in St. Louis over 17 years). On Sunday (January 15th), we bundled up and walked the entire length of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, 5,353 feet long, x 2 since we walked from Missouri to Illinois side and back to Missouri. (Hey Qap, that would count as my exercise of the month/year - haa haa).

There were spotting telescopes already set up by volunteers to assist guests with viewing of the eagles in the area. Individuals could also bring their own telescopes and binoculars. (The handsome young man, in black pants and black coat, on the left in the top and above photo would be my husband setting up his camera, testing a new zoom lense he just purchased. But we did not spot any eagles!)

There were also educational information and exhibits set up in warm tents located in the center of the bridge. It was disappointed that we did not see any eagles diving for fish in the river, not even roosting in the trees along the shoreline. It was sunny but freezing, in the upper 30s. However, it felt like 30 below zero when the wind blew across the bridge as the chill cut right thru the layers of clothes we were wearing. Eagle or no eagle, it was a good day to be outside.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Photography or any image recording was not allowed inside, so I only took a photo from the outside of Dr. King's birth home at 501 Auburn Avenue. It is a modest Queen Anne-style, constructed in 1894.
In the courtyard of Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change is the Mediation Pool.

Above and below murals are on display outside of the King Center, showing the timeline of the struggles during the civil rights movement.

An eternal flame burns in a small circular pavilion directly fronting the white marble crypt where both Dr. King and Mrs. rest.

Outside the Freedom Plaza, Dr. King and Mrs. King final resting place, surrounded by a five-tiered reflecting pool, a symbol of the life-giving nature of water. The inscription on Dr. King's tomb reads, "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY I'M FREE AT LAST".

Sunday, January 15, 2012


These photos were taken when my sister and I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site during my trip in November (2011) to Atlanta, Georgia. We took MARTA, get off at Five Points station, then transfered to Bus #3. The Center, the Birth Home, this Historic Site and the Church all within walking distance on Auburn Avenue.

We first went to the National Park Service Visitor Center (450 Auburn Avenue) to sign up for the guided tour of Dr. King's birth home on 501 Auburn Avenue. While waiting for the scheduled time to visit the home, we toured the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, then walked to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and crossed the street to the National Historic Site. The Center has exhibits such as Dr. King's Nobel Peace Prize, personal bible, a handwritten sermon, the key to his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where he was assassinated and many items chronicling the civil rights movement.
The sculpture (below), outside the Historic Site, is the art work of Patrick Morelli. The scuplture reflects the ancient African ritual of lifting the newborn up the heaven and reciting the words, "Behold the only thing greater than yourself". Mrs. Coretta Scott King unveiled this monument as a tribune to Dr. King and as an inspiration to others to fight for dignity, social justice, and human rights.
I became very emotional when we visited the Freedom Hall, one of the exhibit rooms at the Center. The Freedom Hall includes photographic essays honoring Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi and other civil rights/human rights leaders. It has been almost 5 months since the "incident" took place, yet I still felt the pains caused by the humiliation. I could almost envision Ms. Parks and Dr. King shaking their heads in disbelief and disappointment, as we wonder how could such blatant discrimination still happening in America. The year is 2011, yet there are people who act as if there were still two sections on buses, movie houses and segregate water fountains. In a small way, I hope Ms. Parks would approve that I defended my dignity, that I held those violated the laws accountable for their actions and I was inspired to fight so that social justice would be safeguarded, not just for myself but for others. I hope Dr. King would be pleased that it would be the best way to honor his birthday and his legacy.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I am not a superstitious person, not to some extent as some people would go out of their way to avoid certain things or performing particular rituals to get rid of bad luck. I do admit that I rubbed the nose of the sculpture of a lion in front of the museum, but that did not help me win any jackpot. I do not believe that the number 13 carries bad luck nor do I think it is a good luck number either. I don't have any photos that would go the "Friday the 13th theme", so these photos would have to do. I extend many good wishes, and good luck, and that you will have good directions for the journeys in your life. There would be helpful signs to help guide you along, when to turn, which exit to take (or to avoid) and to stay on the right track (getting safely to where you wish to be). And if you need a little help, Aladin and the magic lamp would be there to lend a hand. (Above image is from Aladin, Wyoming)

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Not only I back-dated my posts, I am also late (very late) writing about events that happened days (a long time) ago! My feelings were hurt (deeply hurt) when Qaptain Qwerty made fun of me in his recent post. Since I never claimed to deliver the latest news or provide intelligent opinion about current events, it is my provocative to write whatever and whenever (at my earliest convenience) on any topics. Take that, Qaptain!

Thursday, January 12th - I got up around 5:00 am for a drink of water, when I looked out the kitchen window, it was still dark but I could see the snow already covered the ground. I did not pay much attention to the weather report so I was surprised to see that it was snowing outside. It must have started coming down after midnight since the backyard looked like a white blanket of fresh snow. There were reports of accidents, vehicles got stuck and shut down of the major roads. St. Louisians were caught off-guard, unprepared for this first snow fall. The salt trucks were out in full force but did not help much during morning rush hours. My husband had to park at a church parking lot because he (and many other drivers) were unable to get up the steep hill then down to the industrial park. The road were cleared by the early afternoon. It still took my husband an extra half hour to get home.

I am glad that I made the trip last weekend to drop off my wedding dress and a few other items at a local thrift shop. Proceed from donations funds scholarships to individuals with special financial needs. It took me a few years to finally let go of my wedding dress. After we celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary in 2009, I mentioned to my husband that I planned to give away the dress. I would never fit into it again and there is no daughter for me to pass it on. Even if I had a daughter, she probably would not want to wear my dress anyway. I have kept the dress long enough. We will always have the memory (in our heart) so it was time to donate my wedding dress and hope that it would be put to good use for a worthy cause. To readers who are ladies, do you still have your wedding dress? How or what do you plan to put the dress to good use? To the male readers, you sure got off easy with very little work - all you had to do was to return the tuxedo after the wedding!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I was so pleased to see the above license plate "EVERS 2" after a few weeks of feeling bad (really bad) about the other license plate "NOT TWO"! I am encouraged by the message of "EVERS 2". Could the message be forEVERS tuesday 2? It is telling me that I should continue to publish the Tuesday Two theme because there would be millions of adoring fans who would be so disappointed if I discontinued the Tuesday Two posts. If you disagree with my theory, please feel free to let me know. I promise I will not feel real bad!


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