We had a day-trip to Nogales (a boarder town between Arizona and Mexico). Here are some pictures from the trip.

Getting close to the boarder:

Interesting contrast of the development on the two sides of the boarder. Mexicans build all the way up to the fence.

The gate from the US side:

A welcome sign right after we cross the gate:

Some random pictures of the street views in Mexico:

It is always an interesting experience to see a foreign country, although we know this is not representative of what most parts of Mexico really looks like. Being a boarder town that thrives on tourism, people there are very friendly and always eager to sell us all kinds of souvenirs. It gets a bit annoying after we stayed for about an hour, but we did have a good time during our stay.


On being a good son-in-law

Because of my boss has joint appointment in different departments, and also because UA is doing some departmental reorganization to deal with the budget crisis, my appointment here gets transferred around quite a bit for accounting reasons. Within a year, I have been associated with three different departments. Fortunately, my boss told me to stick with the first one on my CV, so I don't appear to be job hopping like crazy.

My latest appointment, starting from this month, is in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. When I found out about this today, I thought it is quite funny. Everyone in Ann's family, with the exception of Ann, is a chemist. By being a postdoc in a chemistry department, I am truly becoming a part of her family, maybe even more so than she does. Ann got so excited and instantly called her parents when I told her about this, and they just couldn't stop laughing.

I wonder how many people out there has this kind of strange experience.


The rainbow bikes and my new helmet

Ever since my bike helmet celebrated its 5-year old birthday in April, Ann has been trying to convince me to get a replacement. Being a cheap bastard, I can be very stingy even though it is my head that's on the line. Finally, after realizing how much money I have been saving by bike commute and how much time I have been spending on my bike, I agreed that it is time to buy a new helmet.

Initially I was thinking about getting a Bell Alchera after trying out a bunch of different helmets in our local Performance Bike shop. Unfortunately, they do not have a red one in stock and Ann insisted that I get one that matches the color of my bike (no, no more blue helmet with a red bike). So after lunch, I took Alyssa and Vivian with me to another bike shop to see if I can find something there. Before we left home, I jokingly asked Ann that if I can't find a good helmet that matches my bike, can I get a matching bike to go with a new helmet. To which, Ann replied with a smile and said do whatever I want. :)

So on the way to the next bike shop, I joked with the girls about how I am going to get new helmets and bikes in all colors, such that I can ride a red bike on Mondays, an orange bike on Tuesdays, a yellow bike on Wednesdays, and so on. Then somehow Vivian got the idea of getting a "rainbow bike" that has all the colors for her. I told her that I don't know where to find such bikes, and Alyssa quickly responded: "Vivian, when you get into elementary school, grandpa will give you a laptop, and then you can take a look at www.rainbowbikes.com and see what kind of rainbow bikes they have for sell". I was quite shocked to hear about this. How come young kids these days know so much about these kinds of things?

As it turned out, the second search was not fruitful either. However, when we went to Target to do some grocery shopping after dinner, I saw a Bell Adrenaline in the store that looked quite good. Initially I was skeptical about anything the claims "one-size-fits-all". Luckily, this one turned out to be a perfect fit for me. In fact, it fits even better than all other ones that I had tried in the bike shops. What's even better is that it carries a $22 price tag, which is something you don't often see in the bike shops. So I am really happy with my new helmet and looking forward to the bike ride tomorrow!


Finding a part of life that I missed

Just watched this great movie that was written and directed by Steve Stockman: Two weeks (Official website at http://www.twoweeksmovie.com/movie/, IMDB link at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448166/).

The story was about the days that four siblings spent with their terminally ill mother. The movie brought up a lot of feelings and emotions because it reminded me the fact that I was not there for it when my dad died. This is something that I can never make up for it for the rest of my life, and I can't help but having some mixed feelings of regret, sadness, and loss whenever I thought about my father's passing. Particularly, I feel sorry to my brother as I "cheated" by living in the U.S. and leave our parents to him all these years.

Too hot for a Ninja

Maybe I am getting used to pedaling in hot weather, when I took my Ninja out for a spin this afternoon, I felt the ride was quite pleasant even though the temperature was about 103-F. Unfortunately for my little Ninja, the slow ride around town under the scorching sun is a bit too much and the temp gauge kept threatening to go up to the red line. So I cut the ride short and came home to give my bike a good chain-cleaning session. Now that this is done, I am so happy to see the chain and gears become shiny again.


Gators in the desert

After providing nearly 4 months of trouble-free service, the Gatorskins I installed on my bike finally succumbed to the relentless attacks of thorns on my commute route. I was a little bit disappointed, as I have read so many good things about their puncture resistance, but this is already much better than the almost weekly flat tire repair I had to do before. To be fair, it has stopped several thorns that are about 3-4 mm in length during this time, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

Instead of jumping on the bus or calling Ann for help this time, I decided my tools should start to pay for themselves. The Topeak Mini G MasterBlaster Bike Pump I have been carrying in the bag worked okay; it is easy to get up to 60 psi, difficult to get up to 75 psi, and becomes painful beyond that. Nonetheless, it is good enough to get me home, and better yet, I still managed to beat the bus.


Out of the sight, but not out of the mind

My mom had a minor stroke last week. Fortunately this happened when she was visiting my brother in Taipei so he was able to take her to the hospital at the first sign of trouble. It was really scary because if this has happened when she is in Tainan all by herself, who knows how bad it can get? I hate to think about it but there is no denying that mom is only getting older and having her lives alone is becoming more and more worrisome.

After staying in the hospital for several days, she is recovering quite well, although the doctors couldn't find any abnormality in all the tests and can't really provide us with any explanation of how this happened or any specific suggestion about how to prevent it from happening again. So now mom is out of the hospital and my brother is driving her back to Tainan. I tried to call them everyday since I heard about this and try to stay up-to-date about the situation, but honestly, there wasn't anything that I can do from here. It is very frustrating, and reminded me a lot about my father's passing.

Oh, and to add to my frustration, my mom's first words to me last week were "Why did your brother have to tell you about this? It was nothing!". Yeah, right. Just like the incidence that I have to know about my father's skin cancer surgery through my mother-in-law when she asked me how my father is doing, months after he had the surgery.

Maybe they are trying not to worry me and all, but I really don't like this. I also feel very bad about leaving all the responsibilities of taking care of our parents to my brother.

A powerful recruitment tool

A while ago Alyssa made a drawing of me and Howard sitting together at a table and has the words "best friends" and lots of colorful hearts on it. I thought it was pretty funny, as this is how she imagines what we are doing in the office all day, so I pinned it on the wall next to my desk in the office.

When Nancy saw the drawing today, she told Howard that he should use it to recruit new people, because "It is a proof of how good you are treating people in the lab. See all those hearts floating around in the air? If Chih-Horng is cursing at you all the time at home, his daughter wouldn't have drawn something like this.". I thought that this is a very interesting way to interpret the drawing, and even more so when I see Howard seems to be embarrassed by the praise.


The most embrassing event of the year

THE GOOD: got the page proof, made corrections, and sent it back on the same day.

THE BAD: I misspelled my boss's name, twice, in the references.

THE UGLY: I didn't catch the mistake, my boss did.