Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Joyce has our questions this week even after being away for a few days. Isn't she sweet?

1. Share one way you think the world has changed for the better since you were a kid?
Being able to get news any time we want and have it be current. Although that could be negative, I think it is great to find out what is happening all around the world. Makes the world seem less small.

2. How 'bout one way it's changed for the worse?

3. Starlight, starfish, starling, Starbucks...your favorite 'star'?
I guess starlight. Although I'm not much of a outside person when the sky is clear and full of stars it is a little magical.

4. Name a song that's overplayed, but you love it anyway.
Thriller by Michael Jackson. I still love to sing along with it.

5. When did you last have home made ice cream? Your latest favorite flavor?
It has been a long time. We have an ice cream maker but haven't made it in several years. I don't eat much ice cream anymore since it has a lot of sugar and fat and our whole family tries to limit those.

6. What do you think is the best way to inspire or motivate people?
It has to be individualized. You can't do the same thing for every person. Some people like praise, some people like money, some people just want you to tell them good job.

7. When was the last time you were without power?
We don't lose power too often at our house thanks to buried electric lines. So if we do lose it, it will be for a short period of time. I think the last time it was during the storms in May and for a couple of hours.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I decided to get new quotes for auto and home insurance. Boy we are all paying for the storms that seem to keep hitting Oklahoma. Not sure if anybody has better rates for the house. Yuck.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Trip to Tulsa

Dan and I took a day trip to Tulsa Saturday. We went to the Gilcrease Museum where they had a special exhibit on Thomas Moran and Yellowstone. Moran is one of Dan's favorite American artists and he is about to go to Yellowstone so this was a special exhibit for him. They don't allow photos inside the museum so all I could get was one outside of a statue by Alan Houser. Our university has a few of his statues so I know his work.

They also have some gardens there and while I was outside trying to warm up (the museum was really cold) I noticed this web on top of a bush. The water droplets looked like jewels so I had to take a picture.

We went to Back Alley Blues and BBQ for a late lunch. In all the BBQ shows, they talk about how the burnt ends are the prize part. This restaurant has them (as long as they last for the day) so I decided to go for it. I got the last order of the day. They were extra smokey and the dry rub they use has a kick to it. It came with two side so I got baked beans and a green apple slaw. The beans had a lot of pulled pork in it (in fact too much for me) and the slaw was vinegar based. Dan got pulled pork and the first batch he had was very dry. He mentioned it to the waitress and she said that wasn't right and brought him a new batch that had just been pulled and it was very moist.

They had neat wall art made out of bottle caps.

We went back to the museum so Dan could finish viewing all of the exhibits and we closed down the place at 5.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fragments

Joining up this week with Unknown Mami who has graciously accepted hosted duties while Mrs. 4444 takes a much needed summer break.

Unknown Mami

Stupid criminal this week is from West Virginia. During a home invasion the victim noticed that one of the criminals was wearing official West Virginia University sweatpants with their number on them. It didn't take long for the police to look up the football roster and figure out who the robber was. He has since been kicked off the team and is serving time for multiples offenses.

So much rain this morning and I slept through it. Guess we had more than an inch in 10 minutes. Woke up and the trash can had been swept down the street. Normally we put it in the yard next to the curb but Dan just mowed last night so he moved it into the street. Just glad it didn't go any further or it would have hit Whitney's car.

I'm just not into the dancers this year on So You Think You Can Dance. None of them are standing out to me and I'm really getting sick of some of the bias by the judges. And I never say that. Wonder what's up with that.

However I did enjoy Top Chef Masters. I love the sous chef challenge. A truly good chef is only as good as his sous. 

I've been busy working on a bunch of proposals this week. The good thing is that I know that they are all getting funded. So it is worth the work.

The temporary worker I hired for my filing has gotten three huge stacks filed and has been making all sorts of folders for me. We will be organized!

I have at least one more post about China that needs to be written but lacking motivation. Maybe because so many of my pictures look the same and maybe because they are all so smoggy. Hard to get excited about smog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hodgepodge Truly Hodgepodge

Joining up for another fun week's worth of questions from Joyce.

1. July 24th is Amelia Earhart Day. Earhart was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. What's something you've recently accomplished solo?
Well I think travelling by myself in a foreign country counts, don't you? While it is true I had a guide with me at the tourist places, I was by myself. And I survived.
Self Portrait on the Great Wall of China

2. What's one product you use that never ever fails?
Diet Coke. Don't go giving me any of that other diet cola soda. Just doesn't cut it.

3. Have you found your place in the world? Where is it?
I didn't know I was lost. LOL

4. Worst movie you ever saw?
Hands down...Cujo. I saw it my freshman year of college as a free thing to do when we moved into the dorms. Yikes was it bad.

5. What's the last fun thing you did?
See number one above. I think going to China was pretty fun thing to do.

6. The month of July is named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar...ever been to Rome? What's your favorite Italian dish?
I've never been to Rome or Italy but would like to go. Trying to name one favorite Italian dish is impossible. My favorite kind of food to cook.

7. What is one piece of advice you'd offer new mom Kate Middleton?
I assume she doesn't have to worry about housework or else I would suggest sleep when the baby sleeps and don't do housework. But since she doesn't have to worry about that, I still say sleep while the baby sleeps.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
In two weeks Whitney will be back at school. This year at least she doesn't have to buy much to move back since she will be in the same room as last year with the same roommate. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wine and Palette

Friday night Whitney and I went to Wine and Palette thanks to free tickets she won from the radio. It's one of those places that seem to be cropping up all over the place where they walk you through step by step the painting process and everyone ends up with a painting that looks somewhat the same. And of course there is wine involved.

The evening we went there seemed to be a couple of birthday parties with lots of women. In fact, there were only two men at the place. One was obviously the boyfriend of someone and the other was a new teacher who was seeing how he should teach his class next week. He sat next to me and his painting was so good. I just kept avoiding looking at it since I was quite inadequate next to him.

Whitney and her painting

Me and my painting

Side by side
We were doing pretty well until the teacher had us do the swirls for the branches. I didn't mix my color dark enough and then I ended up with a bunch of thick sticks.

It was a fun evening to spend with my girl before she goes back to college.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Fragments

Joining up for another week of Fragments. During the summer we are brought together by Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

The stupid criminal of the week was sent to me by Whitney. And it happened right here in my home state of Oklahoma. Seems like a burglar accidentally dialed 911 from him cell phone while he and his accomplice were discussing what jewelry they were going to steal from the home they were in. While the burglars had left the home before police arrived, since they had a description of the jewelry they caught them at the pawn shop trying to sell it. Note to self...don't have 911 automatically programmed into your cell phone and then butt dial it while in the act of a committing a crime.

Tonight Whitney and I are going to a painting class. She won two tickets from the radio and is taking me. Since neither of us are particularly artistic I'll be surprised to see how the paintings turn out. You pick from their calendar which one you want to do and everyone in our class will be doing the same one. 

I also bought plane tickets to take Whitney to Las Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday in a couple of months. I've been three times and I live going. Dan hates it. So Whitney wanted to go for her big birthday and I'm taking her over her fall break. Just have to decide on the hotel now. I know things have changed quite a bit since the last time I was there.

Work has not really slowed down yet after being gone and my assistant is going to be on vacation next week. I'm actually hiring a temporary employee to do my filing. I've got so many piles laying around that I can't find anything recent. For being a "paperless" office we sure generate a lot of it.

Anyone watching So You Think You Can Dance? I missed the first two weeks of the competition while in China so Whitney caught me up on it. Last week wasn't super impressive. I'm glad they changed back to announcing who was gone to the end of the show. That wasn't a smart move to announce it at the beginning and then make them dance. I'm just waiting somewhat patiently for the AllStars to come back on and dance with them.

Top Chef Masters starts next week. I watched an extended preview online and like what they are doing with an online challenge from the masters's sous chefs. The outcome of the sous chef challenge affects the main game. 

Have a great weekend. We had a few beautifully cool days (I honestly can't remember the last time it was that cool in July here) but now we are getting back up to normal temps. It was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Great Wall of China

I think when most people hear that you are going to China they wonder about the Great Wall. After all, it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

The wall was originally made by the different provinces of China to keep the others out but in 221BC, Qin Shi Huang conquered all of the other states and made a united China. He unified the wall to keep other nations out rather than having the in-fighting that had plagued China for centuries. The current wall was most likely remade by the Ming dynasty in the 14th century.

You have to drive about an hour outside of Beijing to get to the closest portion of the wall that is accessible and walkable. The steps are uneven and worn. There are watch towers every so often and as soon as you climb past the first one the crowds thin out. It seems like people go and climb a little and say they have done it.

This is the relatively flat (compared to the rest) area that you can enter the wall. If you look up, yes that's what you climb. This is a country of hills and mountains. And that isn't is mostly smog.

A variety of warnings while climbing. The no climbing refers to the actual watch tower, not the wall. LOL

This is taken looking down from the first watch tower you get to.
While this is looking up from the same watch tower. As you can see it just keeps going up and up.

A good view of the stairs. A lot of them are super worn by the handrail because more people walk there.

At the base of this section where most people park they have a few traditional buildings.

I found the climb at the Great Wall to not be too bad, especially after the week before's climb up Laoshan Mountain. I went on a Sunday and while the first section was crowded, I didn't think it was unreasonable. I'm glad I went and did this.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Did someone say vacation?

Joyce is full of vacation type questions this week.

1. Picture postcards were first printed back in the mid-1800's and deltiology is the official name for postcard collecting. When did you last send a postcard? Receive one? Do you save postcards sent to you? Do you collect and/or send postcards when you travel?

The last time I sent a postcard was last summer when in Alaska and I sent it to Whitney. Thanks to reading Marti's Musings I realized the last postcard I got was from my dentist reminding me of my appointment. I did get a couple as souvenirs in China that were actually the admission tickets to various sites and then you just tear off the ticket part and instant postcard. But I didn't mail any from there because I couldn't figure out where a post office was.

2. What treat do you most like to indulge in while on vacation?

I'm trying to go out to eat more often. So many times when we go on vacation we skimp on the meal aspect making sandwiches in the room and other such things. I'm trying to venture out more and eat at local restaurants.

3. Are you good at hiding your feelings?

Yes I am. Unless I'm super excited/happy about something.

4. Does your town/city/county still deliver telephone books to your home? Do you check the yellow pages when searching for a local business number or has the internet replaced the phone book in your home?

We still get multiple copies of phone books from I think three different companies. The only ones I keep are the AT&T ones. The rest go straight to the recycle bin. However we don't get them at work anymore.

5. Would you rather be first or last?

Well it depends on the situation. A ride line at Disney...first. Doctor or dentist appointment...first. Trying new things that are sketchy...last (maybe they will run out). Death...LAST!

6. July is National Park and Recreation Month (in America, but everyone can still play along)...where and when were you last in a park? Did you participate in any recreational activities while you were there?

The last park I was in was in China but I won't count that. The last national park in the US was Denali National Park in Alaska last summer. I'll do small hikes and look at the visitor centers but that's as close to nature as I get. No camping for me.

7. What was one of your worst ideas?

I tend to not dwell on bad ideas so I don't have an answer to this question.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Beds in China were super hard and I loved it. I actually looked at the first one to make sure it was a mattress and not wood. I slept the best in a hotel that I've ever done. So when I got home we went and bought a new mattress and box spring (we had been talking about it for months). Yesterday it was delivered and I slept great. They actually make them in Oklahoma City so not only did I buy American, I bought Oklahoman.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beijing Olympic Park

While I was in Beijing, I went to the Olympic Park twice. Once on my way back from the Great Wall and once on my way to the airport. You can tell the difference in days just by the photos.

The first day was a Sunday and the air quality was poor. Everything looks dingy in the photos.

The day I left was a sunny day. It had rained the night before and washed away all the smog.

The water cube was where all the swimming events were held. They have turned into a water park for kids and was very reasonably priced. The Birds Nest holds a few events but it is prohibitively expensive for anyone to use it so it mostly sits as a backdrop for photos.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fragments - Five Days of Work Suck

I'm back joining the Friday Fragment party after a few weeks off. So here's a bunch of them.

Unknown Mami
I've been so busy at work and life that I haven't had time to show off my 1,000 photos I took in China to my family. That will be corrected this weekend.
I'm slowly getting through the several inches of paperwork that covered my desk in the two weeks I was off. And the hundreds of emails. And the three major proposals that had to be done this week. With guidelines that are iffy at best and still don't have all the information. Ah, the more complications means the more they need me.
Stupid criminal of the week is from Florida. Seems a man decided to rob a convenience store while the clerk turned his back. Unfortunately the man had just filled out a job application with all his information. He was a little easy to track down by the police.
Whitney had bad reactions to her allergy shots this week and has to take the vials from our local clinic to where they are made because our clinic won't mail them. She was going to be switching back to her normal clinic next month so I told her to just take them there and get her shots there the next three weeks. The cause was a combination increased strength in the vials and terrible pollen in the air here. But the good thing is she just got welts, no problems breathing.
I will continue to write about my China trip but for some reason I'm having a hard time being motivated to blog about it. Maybe next week I'll be better. But I'll leave you with another photo.
Inside the Summer Palace
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Fashion Police - China Edition

I can't help myself. Whenever I go somewhere I start looking at fashion and have to take pictures. Mainly so I can share with you the readers on my blog.

China was no exception. I didn't even get everything I saw but this will give you some ideas.

These gentlemen were showing all they got on the beach. Almost felt European with all the tiny bathing suits and men who shouldn't be wearing them.

Lots of grown women were wearing these hats.

How about some baggy pants and the jeans with different colored cuffs. And these were on MEN!

I think I had her outfit in the 1970's

These women were wearing these shoes to climb the Great Wall. I saw lots of women in bare feet who had to remove their shoes because of the climbing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hodgepodge - SummerTime

Joining Joyce for this week's questions. I've missed it the last few weeks!

1. What's something people might ask you for help with?
Anything involving money, balancing checkbooks, taxes. I'm very good with numbers.

2. What's something you might ask someone else for help with?
How to use the DVD player. Isn't that awful of me? I know how to make it play and pause, but all those extra menu buttons confuse me. I just hand the remote over to my husband.

3. Did your family take summer vacations when you were a child? If so, where did you go? If you're a parent, did/do you plan summer vacations with your own family? Did/do they resemble those you took as a child?
I remember a few vacations growing up. The main one I remember though wasn't in the summer. We got taken out of school for two weeks to go on a road trip. That was pretty fun.

We've taken our daughter on so many vacations...summer, spring break, Christmas. Cruises, DisneyWorld, France, Canada...she's been to a lot of places.

4. Pool-lake-ocean...which one is most appealing to you on a hot summer day?
I choose an air-conditioned room overlooking the pool or ocean. I hate being outside when it is hot.

5. Have you ever justified using the expression, 'you gotta be cruel to be kind'? Was it really necessary or were you rationalizing?
Nope and I just don't think it every works.

6. The Journal of Psychology recently mentioned the results of a survey identifying the ten most hated foods as-liver, lima beans, mayonnaise, mushrooms, eggs, okra, beets, brussel sprouts, tuna, and gelatin. Of those foods, how many do you actually hate? Anything you'd add to the list?
I dislike okra...yucky. I don't think I've ever had liver or lima beans so can't make a judgement. I used to hate brussel sprouts but I would give them a chance again.
I would add peas to the list. I've made known my great dislike of that vegetable before.

7. What's your favorite book or movie set in a beach or lake town?
I have absolutely no idea. I read so many books so fast that I don't pay attention to those details. And I don't watch a lot of movies.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I had to get bloglovin' to read some of the blogs. A couple of the ones I've followed are new and that's the only way to get updated on when they start. I can tell I'm already going to dislike it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Things to do in Qingdao, China

You may find yourself in Qingdao someday and wonder what you can do. Well let me tell you, there is a lot of stuff.

The first place we went to was Laoshan Mountain. Better get in some good workouts on the stair climber because you are going to go up, up, up on stairs and then down, down the stairs.

They also have bridges that people put locks on and then throw away the key.

We then went to where they held the sailing competition during the 2008 Olympics. didn't know that all events weren't in Beijing?

The symbol of Qingdao

There was a park next to the hotel that had some amusement park rides for the kids. It was a nice park.

I also went to the Temple of Mazu. Fisherman would go to her before going out to sea for good fortune and safe keeping.

You eat lots of seafood since it is right on the sea.

And you can go to the beach to enjoy the atmosphere.