Hong Kong trip 2014!!

December 17th, 2014

The year 2014 has been a pretty challenging one for me, and one of the challenges was in successfully organising a family getaway!! In March we tried to go to Sri Lanka, but Zen informed us that he has commitments on his softball team. Okay. June was out due to work; I tried to get to my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary in September, but work commitments kept me away from that as well! Sigh… But here it is, December, and we made it away… to Hong Kong!!

Day One: the trip started early – we had a 6:20 departure, which meant a 4:20 check-in at the airport (the airline recommended beint there three hours in advance… at 3:20 AM.. YEAH, RIGHT!!). We left the apartment at 3:40 and were fine. We slept for most of the flight, and since it was a budget airline they didn’t wake us up for meals or anything. YES!!

Got to Hong Kong, breezed through customs and luggage pick-up, then by train to the city to meet Margaret for lunch at the fabulous China Club (next to my company’s Hong Kong headquarters too, of course), and a visit to her husband Larry’s office in the International Financial Centre tower 2 with its fabulous view of the developments in Kowloon and a small eagle’s nest. Great!!

After lunch, we drove off to Wan Chai and wandered around a cool, authentic outdoor market, had a bit of cooling tea…

Headed off late afternoon to the hotel, which is a bit off the beaten path – in Tseung Kwan O, in an eastern part of Kowloon. There’s not much there, except a bunch of malls, tons of high-rise apartments, three schools, maybe a hospital and a police station too… nice room, great staff, only the breakfast buffet was not-so-great (we had it only four of our seven nights there – two days we skipped breakfast, and one day we got upgraded to eat at the Crowne Plaza, the Holiday Inn’s sister hotel just next door).

Day Two was probably one of our best days – we set out to do a visit to Victoria Peak, but one look out the window confirmed that visibility would be poor. Change of plans, and with the lack of sun that meant that it would be a good day for a trip to one of the outlying islands like Lamma Island! We jumped on the MTR (Hong Kong’s super-amazing subway) and headed out to Central, where the ferries all leave for other ports. We got there and saw that it had rained, and were considering a Plan C, but when we realised that it had stopped raining and might not rain again in the day, we decided to go off. Right decision – it was awesome weather all day. The boat cruise was fun, and within 40 minutes we’d arrived in Sok Kwu Wan, one of two ferry towns on Lamma. It’s a sleepy fishing village, and was gorgeous in the morning. We walked through the village and headed towards the trail to Yung Shue Wan, the larger town on the island, where you can also find a coal-burning power plant. The hike was nice, and we passed resorts, beaches, a great bean curd shop, and eventually in Yung Shue Wan met more traffic and hustle and bustle. We had lunch at a shop that may or may not have been owned by the family of famous Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat (the food was terrible, but the beer tasted good!!). We headed back to Hong Kong island and still had some time to head back to the hotel to chill out a bit before moving out to have a great dinner with Naoko’s friend of 30 years, Suzuki Takako, and her husband. We had a great seafood meal in Wan Chai, then headed off to the Star Ferry for a trip over to Kowloon to see the night skyline from the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, walk along the Avenue of the Stars, see the Bruce Lee statue, and then take a cab back to the hotel (the Suzukis also live near our hotel, so it was super convenient to share a cab!!).

Day Three was a free day for us for small excursions. After some consideration, and lingering over a classy brunch at the Crowne Royal we decided to take a local bus to Kowloon, and we ended up at the same place where the previous evening had ended – at the Bruce Lee statue on the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade Avenue of the Stars! It was cool to see it in the daylight, and also to see the Hong Kong island skyline by day. We also got to check out the Stars, and find the handprints of famous Hong Kong people like Andy Lau, Jet Li, John Woo, Maggie Cheung, and so many others. Wow!! Then we went to the Peninsula Hotel lobby, with its Christmas tree and hidden orchestra (nice!), the Space Museum (so-so), and up along Nathan Road past the infamous Cheung Kong Mansion, and into the splendificent Kowloon Park, where we saw flamingos, an aviary, a pond, and also sorts of still inner-city stuff. We ended the sightseeing in the amazing Hong Kong History Museum and for two hours wandered through the Hong Kong Story permanent exhibit. Great museum!!

We went back to the hotel, dropped Zen off, rested a bit, then headed out to Causeway Bay for a lovely dinner near Times Square with Larry and Margaret. Amazing spicy Sichuan food… WOW!!

Day Four, Friday, looked pretty clear, so we decided it would be our day to head up Victoria Peak. We headed to Central, got on the tram, and off we went. Got to the top, wandered around the commercial complexes, took a wander to the lookout points (northward to Central, southward to Lamma and the South China Sea), then went for hot chocolate at Starbuck’s. Zen was fading, sick and distant, so I strolled off exploring a bit towards the other lookout trails, alone, then off to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum… wow, what fun!! All sorts of kitsch and collectibles, with plenty of goofy posing with people like Johnny Depp, Andy Lau, Brad and Angelina, QE II, Lady Di, Pablo Picasso, Einstein, various heads of state, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, Lady Gaga, Theresa Teng, Madonna, Hugh Jackman, and… the Incredible HULK! Wow!!

We headed down the mountain, at which point Zen was pretty sick. We walked along Queen’s Road, to the Mid-level Escalators, had a nice wonton noodle lunch there, then I headed out to meet a friend from work (who stood me up), and Naoko and Zen headed back to the hotel room. Zen was sick, so Naoko and I headed out on our own to a lovely dinner with the Suzukis at their place. Awesome!!

Day Five, Saturday… Ocean Park!! We woke up fairly early, took the MTR to Hong Kong Island, and then a taxi to Ocean Park on the south side of Hong Kong island, where we bought our tickets, zoomed through the entry zone of Ocean Park, took a cable car up to the main “action rides part” of Ocean Park, and then strolled around. Fun!! We went there with Dieter and Naoko Schultheis and their daughters Hanna (who’s Zen’s age) and Lena; we know Dieter and Naoko from the early 1990s when all four of us lived in Taiwan, and Dieter and Naoko were dating at that time too; we met Dieter in Dusseldorf in 1997 and in Singapore around 2012, but we haven’t seen Naoko since 1996, it was a great reunion!! The kids took a roller coaster right off the bat, then took it again, and we then proceeded on to the scariest ride of them all – the Flash!! We then had the most awesome lunch ever, overlooking the South China Sea, then off for more rides, a shark habitat, dolphins, roller coasters, log flumes, sunsets, and the inevitable end of the day. The two Naokos have motion sickness and couldn’t be on the rides, and with my recent back operation I couldn’t do them either, so Dieter was always the designated adult to accompany the kids on the rides. I don’t think he minded, although he’s certainly never ridden so many amusement park rides in his life! Leaving Ocean Park around 5:30, we rode over the hill into Wan Chai, and… got caught in a wicked traffic jam! Spent 30 minutes to traverse 230 metres (according to the GPS), spent another 30 minutes to consider where would be the best place to eat… found Pizza Express… good… but we all had to wonder why their so-called “Menu for four” would include a bruschetta… that only comes with… three pieces!! No matter, though… it was a GREAT DAY!!

Naoko and Dieter have an interesting story, language-wise: when they met, he spoke German and English and she spoke Japanese, but since they were both had rudimentary Chinese from their studies at the language centre, that was what they used to communicate. But since 1997, Naoko’s become fluent in both English and German (!!), continued to improve her Chinese, and Dieter’s learned a bit of Japanese too. Amazing!!

Day Six, Sunday, was another amazing day!! We slept in a bit, skipped breakfast, then took the MTR to Hong Kong Island to meet the incredible Jones family (Margaret and Larry, and their awesome daughters Katie, Emily and Allie) for some splendid dim sum, pigging out on local delicacies, then off to a visit to the Jones home, and through the downward roads to South Hong Kong, great Jungendstil beach parlors, sand castle building, and then more of the Stanley Harbour scene – beach, market pit, and mahjjong beers, boardwalk beers continued, then then the long trail back to the hotel. Zen was under the weather, so Naoko and I had a simple dinner on our own.

Day Seven, we had planned to go to Macau, but Zen was under the weather, so Naoko and I decided to explore the New Territories instead, discovering Sha Tin and the Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple, which we investigated quite thoroughly – it was amazing!! We had a great vegetarian lunch, and then off we went back to see Zen, a bit of shopping, another meeting with friends, and sleep.

Day Eight, a travel day off to home… Singapore. We ate our yucky buffet breakfast, took a cab to the airport, and lunched on Starbucks pastries on the flight (despite Tiger Air’s cabin crew’s stern warning of “no outside food or beverages are allowed”… YEAH, RIGHT!! And where exactly does it say that? Who ever heard of an airline ever saying “no outside…”…). Well, whatever. Got to Singapore, only to be greeted by another security check – remove your cell phones, tables, laptop computers, take off your boots… I asked the old man at security what they’re looking for, he said knives, box cutters, sharp objects… I guess they wouldn’t want us to bring those into Singapore and deprive the economy of tourist dollars, since sharp objects can be bought easily at nearly any shop!! Welcome to Singapore indeed… I wonder if they did this to passengers on all flights, or only to the riff raff coming in on budget airlines… classy.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the trip, enjoy; and don’t forget that you can click on the picture to see a larger version of it!!

Day One

In the China Club with the fabulous Maggie J!!

Day One: in the China Club with the fabulous Maggie J!!

In the China Club!!

In the China Club!!

Hong Kong skyline hallelujah!!

Hong Kong skyline hallelujah!!

Are those koala crawling up the building behind us?!

Are those koala crawling up the building behind us?!

With Margaret at the Wan Chai market!!

With Margaret at the Wan Chai market!!

Day Two

Day Two: heading out to Lamma Island!!

Day Two: heading out to Lamma Island!!

Leaving Hong Kong behind... for the day!!

Leaving Hong Kong behind… for the day!!

Sok Kwu Wan ( 索罟灣), where we arrived.

Sok Kwu Wan ( 索罟灣), where we arrived.

Sok Kwu Wan harbour, with the south side of Hong Kong to be seen in the background.

Sok Kwu Wan harbour, with the south side of Hong Kong to be seen in the background.

Jetty pretties!!

Jetty pretties!!

The "a" of "Lamm-a" is the Chinese character 丫, which looks like the letter "Y".

The “a” of “Lamm-a” is the Chinese character 丫, which looks like the letter “Y”.

First time spotting a "doggy latrine"!!

First time spotting a “doggy latrine”!!

Starting our one-hour hike from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan.

Starting our one-hour hike from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan.

Local flora, imported fauna!!

Local flora, imported fauna!!

Beautiful leaves!!

Beautiful leaves!!

Naoko and Zen on the beach!!

Naoko and Zen on the beach!!

Naoko and Zen in silhouette!!

Naoko and Zen in silhouette!!

Famous Ah Puo Do Hua!!

Famous Ah Puo Do Hua!!

Do hwa... it's yummy!!

Do hwa… it’s yummy!!

Do hwa... looks good, tastes great!!

Do hwa… looks good, tastes great!!

End-station - the not-so-great harbour town of Yung Shue Wan.

End-station – the not-so-great harbour town of Yung Shue Wan.

Umbrella protesters!!

Umbrella protesters!!

This is where we ate with the Suzukis - great food!!

This is where we ate with the Suzukis – great food!!

We love the Suzukis!!

We love the Suzukis!!

This was part of our dinner... yummy!!

This was part of our dinner… yummy!!

A wonderful meal with great friends!!

A wonderful meal with great friends!!

After-dinner-snack - a trip to Kowloon on the Star Ferry!!

After-dinner-snack – a trip to Kowloon on the Star Ferry!!

Checkin' out Kowloon from the water!!

Checkin’ out Kowloon from the water!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from the water!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from the water!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from the water!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from Kowloon Promenade!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from Kowloon Promenade!!

Hong Kong Island viewed from Kowloon Promenade!!

Bruce Lee tribute statue at the Kowloon promenade... greatness!!

Bruce Lee tribute statue at the Kowloon promenade… greatness!!

We love Bruce Lee!!

We love Bruce Lee!!

Bruce Lee is the greatest!!q

Bruce Lee is the greatest!!

Day Three

Day Three: Kowloon by day!!

Day Three: Kowloon by day!!

Roadside junk...

Roadside junk…

Zen's selfie with Bruce Lee, the Greatest...

Zen’s selfie with Bruce Lee, the Greatest…

Andy Lau's handprint!!

Andy Lau’s handprint!!

Zen and Jackie Chan's handprint!!

Zen and Jackie Chan’s handprint!!

Naoko and Sammo Hung's handprint!!

Naoko and Sammo Hung’s handprint!!

View of Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon promenade... by day!!

View of Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon promenade… by day!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel, with orchestra hidden away on the second level!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel, with orchestra hidden away on the second level!!

The Peninsula Hotel orchestra!!

The Peninsula Hotel orchestra!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel!!

The lobby of the gorgeous Peninsula Hotel!!

The Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon!!

The Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon!!

Nathan Road in Kowloon... the infamous Chungking Mansion! Hasn't changed a bit!!

Nathan Road in Kowloon… the infamous Chungking Mansion! Hasn’t changed a bit!!

Kowloon Park... with flamingos and ice cream!!

Kowloon Park… with flamingos and ice cream!!

The Hong Kong Museum of History... simply awesome!!

The Hong Kong Museum of History… simply awesome!!

The Hong Kong Story permanent exhibit in The Hong Kong History Museum!!

The Hong Kong Story permanent exhibit in The Hong Kong History Museum!!

Sichuan spicy dinner with the fabulous Larry and Margaret Jones!!

Sichuan spicy dinner with the fabulous Larry and Margaret Jones!!

Day Four

Day Four: The glamorous sea view from the Holiday Inn Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

Day Four: the glamorous sea view from the Holiday Inn Hong Kong Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

Heading up to Victoria Peak on the tram... fun!!

Heading up to Victoria Peak on the tram… fun!!

Victoria Peak, with Central Hong Kong in the background!!

Victoria Peak, with Central Hong Kong in the background!!

Actually, there's still a ways to go to get to the real peak...

Actually, there’s still a ways to go to get to the real peak…

Peter and Zen at Victoria Peak, looking down on creation...

Peter and Zen at Victoria Peak, looking down on creation…

View from Victoria Peak of South Hong Kong... the three power plant towers of Lamma Island can be seen in the distance...

View from Victoria Peak of South Hong Kong… the three power plant towers of Lamma Island can be seen in the distance…

The Bruce Lee wax figure at Madame Tussaud's on Victoria Peak!!

The Bruce Lee wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s on Victoria Peak!!

Me 'n' Andy Lau hanging with Zen at Madame Tussaud's on Victoria Peak!!

Me ‘n’ Andy Lau hanging with Zen at Madame Tussaud’s on Victoria Peak!!

Zen's date with royalty...

Zen’s date with royalty…

Naoko's date with royalty...

Naoko’s date with royalty…

My favourite wax figure - the fabulous Pablo Picasso!!

My favourite wax figure – the fabulous Pablo Picasso!!

Zen and the second-most powerful man in the world...

Zen and the second-most powerful man in the world…

Zee=MC2!!

Zee=MC2!!

The fifth Beatle!!

The fifth Beatle!!

Zen and the Lady...

Zen and the Lady…

HULK SMASH PUNY HUMAN!!

HULK SMASH PUNY HUMAN!!

Naoko and Takako!!

Naoko and Takako!!

Day Five

The two Naokos!!

Day Five: a visit to Ocean Park with the two Naokos!!

Travelling through the air from the entrance part of Ocean Park to the fun part of Ocean Park...

Travelling through the air from the entrance part of Ocean Park to the fun part of Ocean Park…

Ocean Park pleasure...

Ocean Park pleasure…

Great views!!

Great views!!

This looked like a lot of fun for the kids and Dieter!!

This looked like a lot of fun for the kids and Dieter!!

Zen said that this was the scariest ride at Ocean Park... I believe him!!

Zen said that this was the scariest ride at Ocean Park… I believe him!!

The Flash... the scariest ride at Ocean Park!!

The Flash… the scariest ride at Ocean Park!!

The Flash... the scariest ride at Ocean Park!!

The Flash… the scariest ride at Ocean Park!!

The Flash... look carefully, and you'll see Zen and Dieter!!

The Flash… look carefully, and you’ll see Zen and Dieter!!

The Flash... look carefully, and you'll see Zen and Dieter!!

The Flash… look carefully, and you’ll see Zen and Dieter!!

View of the South China Sea... Lamma Island power plant can be seen in the distance!!

View of the South China Sea… Lamma Island power plant can be seen in the distance!!

Best lunch ever!!

Best lunch ever!!

Water ride squirters!!

Water ride squirters!!

Water ride squirters!!

Water ride squirters!!

Hangin' with the great whites!!

Hangin’ with the great whites!!

Lena was so happy to get a nice prize!!

Lena was so happy to get a nice prize!!

Awesome scenery!!

Awesome scenery!!

Zen, Hana, Rena and Dieter at the roller coaster!!

Zen, Hanna, Rena and Dieter at the roller coaster!!

Zen, Hana, Rena and Dieter at the log flume ride!!

Zen, Hanna, Rena and Dieter at the log flume ride!!

Great pic of Zen, Hanna, Rena and Dieter!!

Great pic of Zen, Hanna, Rena and Dieter!!

We had a lot of fun squirting people coming down the river tubing ride...

We had a lot of fun squirting people coming down the river tubing ride…

Dinner: Pizza Express!!

Dinner: Pizza Express!!

Day Six

A very Hoflich family Christmas!!

Day Six: a very Hoflich family Christmas!!

Hangin' with the Jones'!!

Hangin’ with the Jones’!!

I bought a beer from these Mahjjong-playin' aunties!!

I bought a beer from these Mahjjong-playin’ aunties!!

Day Seven

Day Seven: a visit to the Shatin Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery (instead of Macau...).

Day Seven: a visit to the Shatin Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery (instead of Macau…).

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A very interesting manji (Buddhist swastika) above a doorway.

A very interesting manji (Buddhist swastika) above a doorway.

Close-up of a very interesting manji (Buddhist swastika).

qClose-up of a very interesting manji (Buddhist swastika).

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Window decorations carved with manji (Buddhist swastika).

Window decorations carved with manji (Buddhist swastika).

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The glamorous night-time view from the Holiday Inn Hong Kong Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

The glamorous night-time view from the Holiday Inn Hong Kong Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

The glamorous night-time sea view from the Holiday Inn Hong Kong Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

The glamorous night-time sea view from the Holiday Inn Hong Kong Kowloon East in Tseung Kwan O!!

Mad Max!!

December 1st, 2014

I got the Special Edition of Mad Max, it’s bursting with bonus features, and among the coolest of them are these posters. I’d never really seen the film before, so it was good to finally get to it after all these years…

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Mad Max!!

Meeting Robert and Patrick Godin in Singapore

November 23rd, 2014

Every year my friend Patrick swings through Singapore on his big Asia trip for his guitars. Naoko and I love to catch up with him, so we met him in Holland Village for drinks on November 11th. This was actually my first time out after my back surgery, so it was a double treat for me.

On November 23rd, Patrick’s father Robert gave a guitar clinic in Singapore as well that I attended called “Tone Tasting”, it was great to meet him for the first time in over 20 years, and to meet his wife Janet. He also told some great tales about how guitars are built, and how the woods are selected for them. It was pretty legendary stuff.

I play a guitar from one of Robert’s factories, and so does Zen, so it was amazing to hear about this from the man himself!

Hanging out with Patrick Godin

Hanging out with Patrick Godin

Hey - it's Pat!!

Hey – it’s Pat!!

Hanging out with Robert Godin!

Hanging out with Robert Godin!

At Robert Godin's guitar clinic!

At Robert Godin’s guitar clinic!

This story has a part 2… On December 8th we were walking along Orchard Road and who did we see? Robert and Janet Godin, that’s who!! It was great for Naoko to finally get the chance to meet Janet, and to see Robert for the first time in 20 years!!

Meeting Robert and Janet Godin on Orchard Road by coincidence!!

Meeting Robert and Janet Godin on Orchard Road by coincidence!!

Singapore scenery

November 22nd, 2014

Singapore’s such a beautiful place, I took a bunch of pictures on my walks over the past weeks, check them out.

Spooky colour-modified tree

Spooky colour-modified tree

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Spooky colour-modified tree

Spooky colour-modified tree

Bali? No - Singapore!

Bali? No – Singapore!

Bali? No - Singapore!

Bali? No – Singapore!

Snapped during heavy storm

Snapped during heavy storm

Snapped during heavy storm

Snapped during heavy storm

Misty mountain hop

Misty mountain hop

Misty mountain hop

Misty mountain hop

Where did Bukit Timah go...?

Where did Bukit Timah go…?

...oh, there it is!!

…oh, there it is!!

One of the things about Singapore… people seem to treat the sidewalks as their own turf and just fill it up with their own stuff.

Sidewalks… meant for pedestrians? Imagine THAT!!

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

I wonder how much it cost this guy to brick up the public sidewalk next to his driveway!!

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Sidewalk decoration in Singapore

Dinner with the University of Waterloo

November 12th, 2014

Went downtown today to have a check-up at the hospital. Met Naoko and had some coffee. Great!

After that I stayed downtown for a meeting the President of the University of Waterloo, in town to trade ideas about what the school can achieve in Asia. It was great to meet President Hamdullahpur again, and to have a lovely meal and great discussion with him, some other UW officials, and UW alumni living in Singapore. They picked a great venue – Salt, 55 storeys above Ion Orchard, with a great view of the whole city.

Me 'n' my baby!!

Me ‘n’ my baby!!

Best croissants in Singapore!!

Best croissants in Singapore!!

Wow!!

Wow!!

My baby, her latte and her pastry!!

My baby, her latte and her pastry!!

Oooohhhh... vinyl!!

Oooohhhh… vinyl!!

View from Salt, 55 storeys above Singapore, for UW President's dinner!!

View from Salt, 55 storeys above Singapore, for UW President’s dinner!!

University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur

University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur

Singapore at night from 55 storeys above Orchard Road!!

Singapore at night from 55 storeys above Orchard Road!!

Zen’s a teenager now!!

November 7th, 2014

Today we celebrated Zen’s 13th birthday, hooray! I was only back from the hospital for two days, so I couldn’t get up to much, but we still celebrated with a nice meal (Zen asked for his favourite dish – lasagna!) and some cake.

I played Zen’s favourite albums for him – Joe Walsh, But Seriously (it’s got “Live’s Been Good” on it), and the old Looney Tunes K-Tel collection.

Hooray!

Zen's favorite album!

Zen’s favorite album – Joe Walsh!

Zen's second-favorite album!

Zen’s second-favorite album!

Zen and Naoko

Zen and Naoko

Lasagna dinner!!

Lasagna dinner!!

Birthday cake!!

Birthday cake!!

My back: L45 spondylosisthesis

November 5th, 2014

Well, on the morning of November 3rd I had my back surgery to correct mis-alignment of two of my lower back vertebrae. Basically, I had L45 spondylosisthesis with bilateral lower limb weakness, requiring L45 transforaminal lumbar inter body fusion. Fun.

The procedure went smoothly, though, and after just two and a half days in the hospital, three hours for the operation itself and the rest for observation, strengthening and recovery. On the first day I just slept and slept and slept, the second day I tried out my first steps, and on the third day I went home. Great!

Everyone in the hospital was totally amazing, and I was treated very well indeed. Awesome!

Later on I got to see some X-rays, and they show my new spinal re-alignment: previously, vertebrae 4 and 5 were detached from the regular spinal curvature, but now after surgery they have been re-aligned and bolted into place. Eventually, the area between will calcify, and form one super-vertebra.

Before - mis-aligned...

Before – mis-aligned…

After - aligned!

After – aligned!

I must say that the hospital food was pretty amazing!!

I must say that the hospital food was pretty amazing!!

October 31st, 2014

Wow… Jaws!! I got the 30th anniversary edition, and it comes with a bunch of cool bonus features, such as storyboards, conceptual art, pics from the filming, merchandising, posters, etc. Among the coolest was the promotional ads that show how Jaws smashed all of the previous box office records, and then Stephen Spielberg’s letter to George Lucas congratulating him on his successful new film, which robbed Jaws of its top status. Oh well!

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My songs on SOFT TV

October 5th, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted, but in the meantime here are a few of my songs that my friend Farid interviewed me about on SOFT TV.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the interview and performances turned out, although I notice that I have trouble keeping pace, typically speeding up at some points in the song. Need to add that to my mental checklist of things to concentrate on.

1. Dirnig – from 0:30

2. Skorn – from 12:25

3. Even When I’m Right I’m Wrong – from 23:00

4. The Wurdalak – 33:00

Also, here’s a video of me interviewing another band from the same session. I will doing the interviews again on October 26th.

 

Naoko Zen Japan Trip 2014

September 14th, 2014

Naoko and Zen went to Japan for 10 days, I think they had a nice time! Here are a few pictures abot their trip.

Zen and his cousin

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Great Odin’s beard – that looks like some lovely sashimi!!

 

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Fooooood!!!

 

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Zen in a yukata!

 

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Fooood!!

 

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Zen and his grandparents!!

 

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Zen and his grandparents!

 

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Zen and his cousin!!

 

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At Awaji in Japan.

 

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Naoko and Zen at the moon festival at Himeji Castle.

 

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Zen’s decked out in Hanshin Tigers gear for the big game!!

 

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Hanshin playing Hiroshima – but they lost, 17-5!!

 

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They had very good seats, and lunch was served!!

 

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What a cool view of the field! A bit different than the outfield bleachers…

 

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Our little Hanshin Tigers fan!

 

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They got pretty close to their heroes!!

 

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That’s what the outfield bleachers look like from the OTHER side…

 

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Zen too this great shot!!

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… and here’s the close-up…

 

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Zen took another great shot!

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… and here’s the close-up…

 

IMG_2339 - Version 2

… and here’s the ultra close-up!!

IMG_2340

In the bleachers!!

 

IMG_2341

Having fun!

 

IMG_2349

Getting ready for fun…

 

IMG_2350

Release the bats (I mean… balloons…)…