Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday morning odds and ends

Fish Heads

I picked up ES from school yesterday afternoon. In the car on the way home, he told me he didn't have to take a lunch to school on Tuesday. In my typical silly-daddy mode, I tried guessing why ES didn't have to take a lunch to school. After guessing he was going to starve and not eat anything, I took a guess that they would be feeding him fish heads at school. "Fish heads?!?!" he said giggling. Then I started singing the chorus of the fish heads song.

I only sang the chorus once and then stopped and waited for a response from the back seat. ...Silence... Snicker... Giggle... Hee-hee-hee... Haw-haw-haw... He laughed the entire way home. He kept trying to sing the fish heads song himself, but he could only get one and a half words into it (fish he...) before he would spontaneously combust in fits of little boy giggling laughter. You'd think that was the funniest thing he'd ever heard in his life.

Wii Fit Update

LW is kicking my butt. She holds the #1 spot in most of the exercises on the Wii Fit. She likes to gloat a little bit, too. I was doing the pushups exercise and I thought I did really well. It gives you a score based on your balance, and I got a really good score. I was SURE I was going to get the #1 spot. After it shows you your score, then it goes to a screen at the bottom of the rankings and scrolls up the rankings so the last thing you see is who's in the #1 slot. I watched it scroll up... and LW was in the #1 spot. I heard a snicker from the direction of LW's chair behind me.

New Restaurant: Firehouse Restaurant on Ford Island.

Right across the street from the Pacific Aviation Museum and the old air traffic control tower (you know - the one where Ben Affleck valiantly charges up it and tries to single-handedly stop the attacking Japanese planes with a shotgun).

My Eng and ex-Nav recommended this place, so we went to check it out. When we first drove up, I was like, "Ugh... THIS is a RESTAURANT?"

Looks can be deceiving. This place is pretty old, dilapidated and not fancy, but it's clean and the food and service are excellent. There are a variety of things on the dry-erase board hand-written menu, but there's a heavy Mexican food influence. I had the New Mexico Pork Burrito and it was AWESOME.

Bread from Commissary

I don't remember if I wrote about this before, but this organic garlic bread they have for sale at the commissary is REALLY good!

John Adams

LW recorded the John Adams miniseries on our DVR a while back, but we didn't get around to watching the first episode until last night. (Primarily because we missed the first episode and we had to wait a while for the DVR to catch it on a rerun). It was REALLY good. Paul Giamatti (John Adams) and Laura Linney (Abigail Adams) are excellent actors and passionately brought the story to life. Aside: I also highly recommend David McCullough's book John Adams (nonfiction) and Jeff Shaara's pair of novels about the Revolution, Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause. The books and the miniseries go very well together.

Everybody's Moving

I'm having flashbacks to Monterey. As a student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, one has a tendency to forget that you're in the military. You wear civilian clothes to school so as not to let rank interfere with the free exchange of ideas in the classroom. Once a quarter though, you would get a reminder as all the moving trucks descended upon the military housing with big wood crates to take household goods overseas to the graduating students' next duty stations.

Anyway, it's not hard to remember you're in the military here, but usually the moving trucks are a little more evenly spread out across time. Lately they've been really busy on our street. There are four houses already in the progress of moving. Come September when we leave, I think our street will be a completely different neighborhood.

It must be genetic

Friday morning I went to the end of year "graduation" ceremony at YB's preschool. It amazed me to sit and watch as his entire class of cute little pre-schoolers sang a song about "ohana" and "family" and did all the clapping and hand gestures to go along with it... and YB stood there like a stone statue not singing or doing any of the hand movements.

We're making progress though. When LW and I went to the Christmas pageant at his preschool, he didn't even stand up there with the rest of his class. He got down off the steps and hid in the first pew of the church. Periodically he would peek his little head up above the edge of the pew and look at us, then lower his head and hide again. So at least this time he didn't hide, right?

I just don't understand why ALL the OTHER kids will stand up there and do the song and dance, but OUR kids won't. ES was the same way in pre-school. He refused to participate in any of the performances, but the result was he stuck out like a sore thumb because he was the ONLY kid NOT participating. I remember one performance where he wouldn't even stand up with the rest of his classmates until I gave him my cover to wear.

ES's Preschool Thanksgiving Show
Sterling, VA 2005

Note that all the other kids in ES's class above wore their cute little pilgrim and native american hats, but ES is wearing my khaki combination cover because that's the only way we could get him to go up there with the rest of the kids.

For any of you who would like to watch YB's statuesque performance yesterday, I uploaded it to YouTube. Sorry it gets a little shaky in the middle because LW didn't have a very good angle and passed the camera off to me, so it wobbles around a little bit while I get settled in a new angle. YB is the one in the red polo shirt in the middle of the shot NOT DOING ANYTHING.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday Aches and Pains

Maybe I should change my food and fitness posts to Wednesday nights. You may recall from previous posts that on Wednesdays, we have a personal trainer (a.k.a. PT Nazi) who leads us through a series of punishing interval training exercises. She always kicks our butts.

This morning was no exception. As it was, I never did recover from a killer session she led us through a couple of weeks ago, so let me take a step back and describe that workout before I describe this morning's workout.

We were supposed to be doing spinners, but one of the other trainers had the spinners room reserved. So instead, she took us into the Bloch Arena basketball court to lead us through her Combat Fitness course.

I'm sorry to report: I'm NOT fit for combat (at least by our trainer's standards).

Here's a quick summary of the Combat Fitness course she led us through:
- Wheel Barrow across the width of the basketball court
- "Half Lap" = run up the bleacher steps on one side, then run a half-lap around the top of the arena, then run down the bleacher steps on the other side.
- Wheel Barrow again (trade places with your partner)
- Half Lap
- REPEAT x 2 (each guy got to do two wheelbarrow runs as the wheelbarrow and two runs as the runner holding the other guy's ankles)
- Walking Lunges across the basketball court
- Half Lap
- REPEAT (second run of walking lunges and another half lap)
- Pushup Side-Steps. I don't know what else to call these. You get down in the pushup position, do a pushup, still holding the pushup position do a side step / shuffle sideways and do another pushup, sidestep sideways and do another pushup, etc... ALL... THE... WAY... ACROSS... THE ... BASKETBALL... COURT...
- Half Lap
- REPEAT (second run of pushup side steps)
- Crab-Walk forward (walking on all fours with your stomach facing up
- Half Lap
- Crab-Walk backward
- Half Lap
- Crawl-Scramble forward (hands and feet with your butt up in the air)
- Half Lap
By the end of that session, I had blisters on my palms from doing the wheelbarrows and the pushup side steps, and my lower back was killing me. My back was bad enough I had to bow out of Command PT the following week, taking lots of motrin and just doing the elliptical machine to burn some calories.

Today I went back for more punishment at Command PT with the trainer. This morning we met over at Quick Field instead of Bloch Arena. Quick Field has a very large field with a running track around the outside of several soccer fields. One lap around the running track is just under a half mile. In a previous session at Quick Field, she had us running half mile sprints with exercises in between. I did alright until like the fourth or fifth sprint we had to run BACKWARDS and my hips were in agony. She changed it up a little bit this morning. Here's a summary of what we did today:
- 2 minutes jump-rope
- Run half a lap around the track (About a quarter mile)
- Walking lunges across the soccer field
- 2 minutes jump-rope
- Run half a lap around the track
- Pushup Side Steps (see the combat fitness above) across half the soccer field
- Crab walk across the second half of the soccer field
- 2 minutes jump-rope
- Run half a lap around the track
- Walking lunges across the soccer field
- 100 crunches
- Run half a lap around the track
My palms had finally recovered from the previous session, but I got those blisters back on my palms again this morning from the pushup-sidesteps again.

For yesterday's workout, I took my family to visit the USS NIMITZ in town for a port call. After I got done with work, LW and the boys came and met me over by where the NIMITZ was parked.

I didn't go into it thinking it was going to be a workout, but we climbed a LOT of ladders like this in order to get up to the bridge and back down to the flight deck and the hanger.

View from the Bridge. I'm sorry, but I just find it very bizarre that the officer of the deck can't actually SEE the pier as he moors the ship and sends over the lines.

Captain ES? I hope the CO of the NIMITZ doesn't read my blog and get our tour guide in trouble for ES climbing up in the CO's chair.

Of course, if there's dirt or grease or grime to be found... little boys will find it.

On the flightdeck, I took a self portrait by the flagstaff.

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This afternoon I was introduced to the latest craze in martial arts. ES has invented his own version of martial arts. As opposed to judo, he calls it [ES]-oh. (So, if his name was Kevin, he would call it "Kevin-o"). When I told him it was time to stop playing outside and come inside for dinner, he threatened to annihilate me with his new karate-chop-like moves.

New Dance

After dinner tonight, I got to see something almost as funny as the weenie dance. I got the boys ready for their bath, and they said they wanted a shower instead. Okay, so I start the shower and close the shower curtain. YB got in the shower while ES was still getting undressed, and YB started singing one of those funny songs he makes up on the fly. I poked my head in the shower curtain to see what he was doing.

Like the weenie dance, I wish I could post a video for you to see without getting arrested for it. He was standing with his legs straight, shoulder width apart, bent all the way over at the waist so he was grabbing his ankles and his butt was sticking up into the spray from the shower nozzle. He was wiggling his butt back and forth and singing, "rainy butt dance, rainy butt dance, rainy butt dance..." Sorry. Maybe you just had to be there. It was pretty funny to see.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sub Vets Memorial Day Ceremony

Today, I took ES with me to the Sub Vets Memorial Day ceremony at the PARCHE memorial on the sub base.

Aside: ES has shown such an interest in taking pictures, we decided to get him his own camera for his birthday. Being a 7 year old boy, we wanted to get him something shock-proof and water-proof, so we got him an Olympus Stylus 850SW. As an added bonus, the camera even comes in his favorite color - yellow. The Sub Vets Memorial Day ceremony today was essentially ES's maiden voyage with his new camera. All the pictures in this post were taken by ES with his new camera (except for the last one).

ES took this photo of me by the PARCHE's
conning tower before the ceremony.

We sat towards the back of the crowd,
but ES walked forward to take some pics.

Commodore Hankins from Submarine Squadron ONE was the guest speaker. He have a very nice eulogy for LT Jeff Ammon and talked about the history and meaning of Memorial Day.

They did the traditional Tolling of the Bells ceremony, but with a Hawaiian variation on it. Just like Sub Vets ceremonies in other home ports, they read off the name of each of the 52 submarines lost in World War II, how the sub was lost, and how many men were lost or captured, and rang the bell. In the ceremony here in Pearl Harbor though, they placed a flower lei on the plaque for each submarine as they read off the names.

View from the front row of seats.

There's a brass plaque on the wall for each sub lost in World War II. I had not noticed before today that there are hooks on the top of each plaque for them to hang the leis. Notice in the picture above the leis hanging from the first half of the top row of plaques as the MC at the podium calls off the names of each of the submarines, and the guy in the middle right rings the bell.

USS BULLHEAD was the last submarine to be sunk in WWII.

After the ceremony was over, we went closer to look at the plaques and talk about some of the boats.

Before we left, I handed the camera off to someone else to get a picture of the two of us.

Boy Scouts Good Turn at the Punch Bowl

On the Sunday before Memorial Day here in Oahu, the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts hosts a "Good Turn" (good deed) at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific known as "The Punchbowl." Hundreds of scouts gathered at the cemetery today for a memorial ceremony and then to place flags and leis at the headstones of the graves. The VA website here has a list of the noteworthy people burried in the Punchbowl cemetery, such as Colonel Onizuka, the pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

It was pretty crowded at the cemetery today. We had to park about a mile down the hill and walk up into the Punchbowl. The Punchbowl is a crater like Diamond Head. To get into it, you go up a road that curves up the outside of the crater and has some really pretty views of Diamond Head and Waikiki.

The Three Musketeers
J, E, and ES in their spiffy new yellow neckerchiefs
This is the road that spirals around the
outer edge of the crater into the cemetery.

Gee, ES, that's an awfully nice Wolf tie-clasp.
Why, thank you, E, I like yours, too.

ES and Daddy at the top of the Punchbowl.

ES checks out the map of the Battle of Midway

We had stopped here to visit Punchbowl once before a long time ago, but we didn't come up the steps to the top of the memorial. There's a really nice exhibit at the top of the steps with color maps depicting each of the battles of the war in the Pacific. If you are a history buff at all, I highly recommend paying a visit here. Also, the view from the top is pretty nice.

ES reads the headstone after
placing the lei around the flag.

There were many of these "Unknown" headstones dated December 7, 1941. Some at least had the ship name where their body was found.

Medal of Honor

The graves with the blue flags and the gold lettering on the headstone are recipients of the Medal of Honor. We took a moment to talk with the boys about the significance of the nation's highest honor for bravery.

Mission Complete

ES took this photo of the flags

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Battle 360! E's dad recommended we check out this show called Battle 360 on the History Channel. It sounded pretty cool, so LW set the DVR up to record it for us. Today we watched the episode about the Battle of Midway. It was really cool. ES was absolutely mesmerized by it. They basically tell the story of the battle with computer graphics showing what the ships' positions were and what the fighting was like, interspersed with actual photos and interviews with veterans from the battle. The show really helps viewers to understand the overall sequence of events and strategic impact of the battle, but it's pretty G-rated - not a lot of blood and gore to worry about the boys watching it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Man I feel old. How the heck did I become the father of a SEVEN year old???

Seven years ago today in Monterey, California...

LW and ES at CHOMP

Happy Birthday ES! You have been such a blessing to us, and I have enjoyed watching you grow and learn. Here are some of my favorite pictures and memories of your life so far...

LW and ES visiting our friends C & V in Hawaii

Victoria, BC
March 2003

I had a port call in Esquimalt, BC, so LW and ES flew up to Oregon then drove up with GMJ and took the ferry across to Victoria to meet me.

Watching Toy Story at home in San Diego
June 2003

Horizons in Orlando
October 2004

Geocaching in Northern Virginia
Winter 2005

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
August 2005

Ready to Roll in Daddy's MGB
Ashburn, VA circa 2005 or 2006

Dalai ES
Waimea Falls
Oahu, 2008

Due to conflicting plans on Sunday, we had ES's birthday party on Saturday at the Jungle River Miniature Golf course next to the Toys R Us and Pearl Ridge Mall. It's nothing fancy, but I think it's a pretty good bargain. A normal round of golf there costs $6. If you have a birthday party, then for $13 per kid, you get :
- A round of golf ($6 value)
- The kids' choice of pizza, hot dog, or burger and a soda. (I forget how much they were, but that's probably around $5).
- Ice cream (those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoons like we used to get in elementary school). (These were like $2 on the menu)
- A coupon for another round of golf that you can either use right away or save and use another day. (Another $6 value)
I thought that was a pretty good bargain. The kids really had a good time, too. John B. (neighbor and fellow cub scout) really impressed me with his mini-golf skills. Based on his stance and his swing, I could tell he's played before and had some practice. At one point, one of the other kids whacked the ball HARD and it FLEW off into the distance. John B. said, "Hey! That's not putting! That's REAL golf!"

Here's a photographic recap of the party...

ES Tee's Off

Yep, that's ME! I'M the Birthday Boy!


Another Delicious Cake from the Commissary
(ES opted not to have the cupcake version.)

ES licks the frosting off his tank.

I love you and I'm so proud of how you've grown.
Happy Birthday, ES!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

HD vs. Blu-Ray DVD - out of the ashes of defeat...

If you read my previous two posts (here and here) about the HD vs. Blu-Ray DVD battle, then you know that I had an HD DVD player and a fledgling collection of HD DVDs before HD lost the format war to Blu-Ray.

It turns out, I didn't have to leave the HD versus Blu-Ray field of battle feeling totally defeated. For those of us who put our money on the HD format earlier in the battle, there are a couple of DVD players on the market right now that will play both formats.

Since I just reached another anniversary of my naval career, I also just got a nice bonus check in my bank account. Aside for any of you midshipmen reading this: Don't join the submarine force because someone's luring you in with dollar signs. Join the submarine force because you want to do some really cool tactical stuff on the pointy end of the spear that's important for our national security. Then, enjoy and make good use of the extra money along the way. LW and I don't plan on the bonus in our regular budget. In fact, LW was surprised by the deposit in our bank account this week. When it comes, we'll usually splurge on a couple of things for us and for our church, but we'll put the majority of it in some form of investment. With our pending move back to the mainland in September, we're setting most of this year's bonus aside to help with a downpayment on a house. We decided to go ahead and get a Blu-Ray DVD player though, and I was pleased to find two models that will also play HD DVD as well.

Best Buy had both the Samsung BDUP5000 and the LG BH200 in stock and for the same price even, and I had a 10% off coupon from Best Buy. For the most part, the two seemed to be the same. As I stood there looking at them in Best Buy, LW got on the internet and read the user reviews. Both models had very positive reviews. However, one user pointed out that the Samsung did NOT have Dolby TrueHD. I looked at the specs on the LG model, and it DID have the Dolby TrueHD, so I took it.

So far, we really like it a lot. Friday night for family movie night, we watched National Treasure 2 in Blu-Ray, and it was really good. Then today we watched Night at the Museum in Blu-Ray. NatM in 1080p high-def is AWESOME!

Out of the ashes of defeat... It didn't turn out to be such a big loss after all. I'm putting the HD DVD player up in our bedroom, because it still plays standard DVDs and the HD DVDs we've bought so far. Also, now I won't hesitate to scoop up a bunch of the HD DVDs that Amazon has on sale for like half price.

Stupid Kevin Tricks, Vol 35, Ed 143

Cardinal Rule of Grocery Shopping: Don't go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. You'll get really hungry and end up buying a bunch of stuff you don't really need.
Okay, so broke the grocery shopping rule today. In my defense, I had good reason. I needed to stop and pick-up ES's birthday cake from the commissary, and I planned to stop and get some lunch for my family on the way home. Of course, while the lady behind the counter couldn't find ES's birthday cake, I was left to stand there SURROUNDED by all things baked and awesome but terribly bad for you. I managed to resist the temptations in the bakery and moved along.

After I picked up the birthday cake though, I said to myself, "Self, you're running low on a few things for your lunch-time supplies at work." Aside: Since we're in the shipyard and our galley is shut down, we all have to either bring our lunches or go out somewhere outside the shipyard to eat. So I keep a supply of soups and pretzels and stuff in my desk drawer for lunch at work.

So I picked up some of the things I need for my lunches at work. ...and, because I was hungry, I decided to pick up some Hawaiian sweet potato and taro chips I saw on the shelf that sounded pretty good. I like spicy stuff, so I got the jalepeno and habanero kind.

I got in the car and was really hungry for lunch, and those chips sure sounded good, so I thought I'd try some.

Did anyone else in the vicinity of the Pearl Harbor commissary today and notice a 6' 2" white guy in a blue life is good t-shirt with a bright red face, flames spewing from his mouth, and heavy black smoke billowing from his ears as he made a mad dash to Taco Bell to douse the flames with a soda? No? Okay, me neither.

Sailor Rest Your Oar...

Two sad notes to begin this Memorial Day weekend...

I always feel sorrow for every American who pays the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. In this case, it strikes closer to home because it's a fellow submarine officer. LT Jeff Ammon was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. For more details, Bubblehead has more info and links to news articles.

On another sad note, I terrifies me to even contemplate the emotional trauma of losing a child. Steven Curtis Chapman is one of our favorite contemporary Christian artists. His 5 year old daughter, Maria, was accidentally killed in their own driveway on Wednesday. There's more info on the KLOVE website.

My sincerest condolences and heartfelt prayers go to the families of both Jeff Ammon and Maria Chapman.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Who are you and what have you done with my son?

I think ES was possessed by aliens tonight. When I first got home, ES was being a pain in the butt about doing his homework. He did it, but with a lot of flippant attitude and drama. I said to myself, "Self, it's gonna be one of those days."

Then, it was as if someone flipped a light switch in his head and he became the most pleasant and easy to get along with child on the face of the planet. He WATCHED me play Wii Fit for like 20 minutes without once asking if he could have a turn. He came inside when it was time for dinner and ate his dinner. When he asked to be excused from dinner, I told him to get his dry erase board so we could practice his spelling.

In my mind I sorta cringed and waited for the firestorm of whining in response, but he didn't whine or complain at all. He went and got his dry erase board and sat down next to me on the family room floor. It was actually downright FUN to practice his spelling with him tonight, and he did such a good job at it that we only had to practice once. He finished so early with his spelling that he still had time to go outside and play with J & M across the street for a good 30 minutes. When LW told him to come inside because it was time for a bath, he came right in, went to the bathroom, and got undressed without ANY fuss.

While I was giving him a bath, he started asking me questions about what country is Rome in and we started talking about what continent Italy is in and what other countries are in that continent. Somehow our conversation drifted to Russia and the Cold War and the differenced between communism and capitalism and the Vietnam War and the Korean War. We finished his bath and came down to read a bedtime story.

For his "bedtime story" he picked out his enormous Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft that he got for sale at Borders. He said he wanted to pick out one airplane to read about. I said okay, sure.

He picked out the "flying porcupine." (Disclaimer: I cannot confirm nor deny any information on that website. To tell you the truth, I didn't even read the text, I just saw that it had pictures, so I put the link here.) I sorta winced as I thought about how to explain what the plane does in unclassified terms that were easy for a first grader to understand. He seemed to enjoy reading about it nonetheless.

We went upstairs for the usual bedtime routine of brushing his teeth and getting in bed, and as usual I asked him what his favorite parts about today were before we said prayers. Do you know what he said?!?! He said his favorite parts of today were:
- Playing with J & M across the street (no brainer, that's a given)
- Watching Daddy play Wii (who knew Daddy's lack of balance on the Wii Fit board could be so entertaining?)
- Practicing his spelling with Daddy (Cue theme song to Twilight Zone - I just about died when he said that)
- Drinking orange soda with Daddy (I let him try it, and he really liked it)

Wow... I'm speechless. (Not typeless mind you, just speechless). Why can't every night be like this? Was Father's Day moved to today and I just didn't get the memo?

BT BT (Break Break - shifting topics slightly)

Have I mentioned how cool Wii Fit is?

Tonight I tried doing the yoga moves. (Hey, don't laugh, and don't knock it 'til you try it). LW scored higher than me on all but one of the yoga poses. It gives you a score based on your ability to maintain your center of balance on the board while doing poses like the Tree.

With Wii Fit, you get this Balance Board to stand on. Don't be alarmed! I was thinking it was going to be some wobbly thing that I wouldn't be able to stand on without risking substantial injury to my ankles. No, no, no. This board sits flat on the floor like a bathroom scale, but it senses your weight and which way you're leaning.

This is the Wii Fit board. It's very solid and immobile. Notice the crosshair lines so you can tell where the center of the board is. It senses when you shift your center of gravity (lean) forward or backward or left or right.

For the yoga and strength exercises, you can choose whether you want a male personal trainer...

...or a female personal trainer. LW says the female trainer's voice is annoying. These last two images were of the demonstration of the "tree" in yoga.

When you actually DO the yoga exercise, the screen looks like this. The gray rectangle represents the Wii Fit balance board. The yellow circle is your target where it wants you to keep your center of gravity balanced. The red dot that is moving around on the screen is where your center of gravity really IS. Notice the red trail swirling around from my horrible balance... the camera in my hand may have had something to do with that. The blue circle in the background slowly grows and collapses to guide your breathing.

For the aerobic exercises and the balance exercises, it has several activities to choose from that all have more of a silly video-game appearance. This is YB playing the soccer head-butt balance game.

One of our other favorites is the ski-jump. You start out crouching down. The objective is to hold your center of gravity (the red dot) as close as possible to the blue dot on the balance board display (upper right corner).

When you get to the bottom of the ramp, you quickly stand up to launch yourself into the air.

Yeah, LW holds the top record on the ski jump, too. I need more practice...