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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hiking at Yosemite Valley Floor Loop Trail

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Distance: 13 miles full loop.
Elevation/Difficulty: It is mostly a flat hike, with only 200 ft elevation gain/loss but the full loop is 13 miles long.
Start of Trail: Shuttle Stop 6 or 7
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Yosemite is a huge natural park that it abounds with outdoor opportunities. Tourists can have so many ways of enjoying its natural wonders. Whether it be rock climbing, river rafting, biking, hiking, para-gliding, base jumping, fishing, swimming, skiing, horse back riding, and what else is there that man could think of. It is open all year round, but each season offers a different scenery. Spring to early summer, the waterfalls are at their best and the valley floor is marvelously adorned by wildflowers.
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For me, the best way to experience a natural park is by foot, where you see and experience the little details of nature that are often passed upon. Yosemite offers more than 800 miles of trails, from very easy to extremely strenuous.
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The Yosemite Valley usually gets the impression of being too crowded, that most hikers would usually recommend to stay away from the Valley. However, contrary to this popular notion, the Valley Floor Loop hike actually is very quiet.


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It is one of the tranquil ways to enjoy the Valley Floor. Yes, there may be some sections which are overly crowded to experience a oneness with nature, such as along the trail to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls,
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and Bridalveil Falls
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but aside from these two places, you would actually be thinking where all the other people went.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Replacement Battery

Technology has really taken the world by storm these days! The question always posed on us teachers is how do we prepare students to be successful not today but 10 years from now when they enter the professional world. We are always asked where the world is going, how the world is communicating, and it is very apparent that the world communicates largely these days using technology. Thus, as teachers, we had to keep up with technology, all our lessons are presented in giant interactive board, all our lessons uploaded daily to our class site so that students can access the notes that they may have missed, and check their homework.
Example of My Flipcharts
Flipcharts that My students Wrote On That We Can Save and They can access online for their reference
We also have to design our lessons where students are both exposed to learning using technology and using the traditional methods. Actually, my students love it when they practice solving problems in computer since they can get interactive help from the program, and they get to find out right away if their answer is right or wrong without waiting for me to check their work while I help others who needed more tutoring. I like it too since I get to view their work and I get feedback where they needed more help. What I do not like much however is that our tables are not yet designed to have chargers. Thus, only the side tables have access to wall chargers. Though we have a lot of extension chords, but it's not very helpful when there are too many loose chords around. I am thinking if which one would be more cost efficient for our school, to redesign our electrical wires to allow floor chargers or table chargers like in the laboratory, or to buy extra HP Laptop Battery which can be charged separately, and whenever the battery of the laptops run out, the students can always just replace the battery. I have learned from one of my colleagues that he is actually using replacement laptop battery for his work laptop so that he does not have to carry with him the battery charger home. What he likes best is that the replacement battery he said has longer life than our original battery and the price is very reasonable. I love the idea of having a replacement battery, and I hope one of these days, we will have extra laptops battery at school. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Safe and Cheap Airport Parking

I love vacation, thankfully, my favorite vacation is at home. Home for me is where paradise is. And paradise is where I get to do what I love the most! These are: 1. Sleeping. 2. Cooking.
 Pineapple Curry Rice with Turmeric
3. Eating. 4. Hiking.
 
Planking ( Stretching/Resting) after Hiking 5.6 miles and climbing 4000 ft to the summit before tackling 5.6 steep miles back
5. Watching sunrise and sunset at home.
 Sunrise from our Window
6. Beach…..beach…..beach…( I boogie board and love to mingle with the fishes, and occasionally, dolphins).
 Boogie Boarding
I feel so thankful I can do all these things I love at home, thus, home is paradise and paradise is home.
 Home Sweet Home is My Paradise
I really do not mind if we do not take any vacation away from home. But then, we love exploring the wonders of our natural world too. That is the very reason why at most, three times a year, we do travel away from home, mostly to National Parks, which preserves God’s majestic artistry and amazing creations.

Taking vacation away from home however is not without pain. One of those concerns we had to take is the stress of flying.
 We are lucky enough to live in a place where there are several major international airports nearby that allow us to get the best (or cheapest) airfare. Once we get the cheapest airfare, we scout for the safest but cheaper long term airport parking. If we are not very familiar with the parking company, we always search the online reviews if what do people say about the company. We are so thankful for these online reviews that allow us to investigate what we can expect from these airport parking companies, and not simply pay for their services blindly. Finding long term airport parking is not simply about getting it cheaper, but more importantly, safer. Of course, when it is a safe place for long term parking, getting it cheaper is an added bonus. With online searches, it is now easier to find safe and cheap airport parking that services most major cities in US such as SAN, LAX, JFK and mco parking. When we have parked safely, we can take this sense of safety as we fly away from home to enjoy nature’s gift of wander and wonder.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mung bean and Mixed Vegetable Soup

One of my favorite vegetable dishes is "ginisang monggo"- or sauteed mung bean mixed with vegetables soup.
 Usually, mung bean is mixed with bittermelon leaves or malunggay leaves, very common Filipino vegetables. However, sometimes, when the craving hits me, I do not wait anymore to get bittermelon leaves or malunggay leaves in the Asian supermarket, I would just prepare the dish with whatever vegetables we have at home. In the picture above, I added bokchoy, kalubay ( or opo squash ) and bittermelon. Of course, I still love it! I still have to find a vegetable that I could not eat. :)

Here is how I prepared the sauteed mung bean soup:
1. I boiled the mung bean until it was soft.
2. In a separate pan, I sauteed the garlic and onion until they are brown.
3. I added a little of the boiled mung bean, and all vegetable into the pan.
4. I transferred the mixed vegetable in the pan into the pot of boiled mung bean.
5. I added salt and soy sauce according to taste.
6. I simmered until vegetables is cooked but still crunchy.

And of course, this is best eaten with rice and fish!
Enjoy the meal!!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kids Lockers

As a teacher, I had been thinking of finding ways to easily organize the portfolio of my students that contains their work, so that it is easier for me to find the work of a specific student, and also, so that it is easier for my students to get to their work. I found the answer from kids lockers shop.

photo courtesy of kidslockershop.com
The portfolio mailboxes in the picture above looks very functional for me. It would be easier to identify students portfolio and students also don't get confused and mix up their work with their classmates. I thought before that by looking at childrens lockers, I will not be able to find something that I need because I am teaching in high school, but of course, I am so wrong. The store is not only about lockers for kids, but I believe they can be use by anyone. One of the items that I am using at school is this one,

which I actually do not use as storage for my students backpacks, but rather, I use it to display their three dimensional work and models.  I love it. One of the observations I appreciate from my students is that they seem to be more motivated if they see their work and proud of their work. They love it when their work is being chosen to be displayed in class, and they love presenting their work in class as well. Organization is really helpful in almost everything, and I found out, very helpful in the classroom as well. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Passion Fruit Flower

Red and Purple Passion Fruit Flower
One plant, one vine, two colors. One, color purple, the color believed to be giving a sense of peace of mind. Purple is considered to be a good color to use in meditation. The other color is red, associated with fiery heat and warmth. A color of intense passion, whether it be joy or anger. 
Purple Passion Fruit Flower
 Passion fruit flower is connected to torments and passions of Jesus on the cross, also known as Jesus flower. The first Spanish missionaries who saw this flowers named it so because the flower reminded them of  Jesus Christ's thorn wreath. You can read more about the passion fruit flower history in the article The Flower and The Fruit Of Passion.
Red Passion Fuit
 The two colors of passion fruit flower you see above where from the same vine. Can you tell the difference between the red and purple?
 One vine, two colors.....of the same passion fruit flower plant. Why would the young purple/bluish flower turn red?
Is it because as we age, peace of mind(purple) is stirred by negative passion (red), our obsessions wither us away?
"Passion is a positive obsession, obsession is a negative passion." - Paul Carvel

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Working for Myself

Thanks for the article from Jermaine Haynes

Starting a home business has changed my life. When I was working for someone else at my old job I wasn’t sure it was possible to do what I love and support myself. I was so scared to go off on my own because I thought I’d be broke and unsuccessful. As far as I was concerned my writing was just a hobby until my husband talked me into giving it a full-time try last year. He convinced me that I had talent, and I quit my job and started trying to drum up business. All it took was some courage and hard work, and here I am today making a living working for myself and doing what I love. Now that I work for myself, I can do what I want, when I want. It’s so nice to have that freedom. I have my Clear Wireless Internet  mobile connection so that I can work from wherever I am I enjoy working outdoors and in coffee shops and it’s nice not to be tied to my desk. Simple things like doing groceries at 9:00 on Monday mornings seem to make my life so much better. The nine to five grind is so stressful and I’m glad I’m not a part of it anymore.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Home Sweet Home

 Sunrise from our Home Sweet Home
Take a peek at our simple home sweet home. As you enter our neighborhood, you will see house numbers in address plaques. Our house number says 11. 
We live on top of a hill, but actually, it is not really obvious that we do live on top of a hill :) unless you go to the back of our house, where you will realize we are on a little promontory overlooking this view. 
Rainbow Over Twin Peaks as Seen from the Back of our House
The hill that you see is Twin Peaks, and I can hike up to its summit from home! The first mile however when hiking to the peak of Twin Peaks from home is on our city street :( 
The First Mile of My Walk to Summit Twin Peaks (the hill that I see everyday )
 Sunrise at Twin Peaks, As seen from our Home Sweet Home
Walking on city streets can be boring, but thankfully, the golf courses in our neighborhood entertains me in my walk to Twin Peaks. In my walk to Twin Peaks, aside from the golf course, I pass by some houses where they use decorative lawn plaques to add beauty to their front lawn.
Golf Course in our neighborhood ( some of my early photos in San Diego taken by my then Canon Powershot )
Twin Peaks used to be my outdoor gym when I was still very new in our neighborhood. I was never afraid to go up its peak since it is right next to the hospital and church I go to and close enough to home. Whenever I am in its trail, I forget about civilization since the civilization becomes hidden in the canyon and slopes like magic. Getting away from civilization in a matter of minutes is one of the magic living in our simple home. Another magic is that there is no same morning. Since our bedroom faces East, we see sunrise everyday, that is if I remember to get up on time. Sometimes, the sky is orange, sometimes the sky is purple like this one which I took just this morning of January 14, 2012.


 Sunrise This Morning as seen from our Bedroom Window
Sometimes, the sun mixes with thick fog, which I truly love. 
 Sun and Fog as seen from our Bedroom Window
 Oftentimes, my hubby would tease me why travel to get sunrise pictures when we can enjoy this view right from our simple home. Of course, since we are both wanderers, we both would reply, "to see more of what nature has to offer!" Because we both are nature wanderers, we love our home just the way it is, not so huge, not so small.

 It does not require all our time to maintain our simple home allowing both of us to wander in nature and enjoy life more.
Year Round Blooming Fuschia, a very low maintenance plant
I changed our plants to low maintenance plants so that we can let nature take care of itself while we wander to explore more of nature around us, whether it be hiking in the nearby mountains or enjoying the healing power of the sea. 
Enjoying Spring Wildflowers Close to Home
Me and My Hubby Enjoying the Simple Joys in Simple Life
Here is a little slideshow of our home sweet home I made almost 7 years ago. The cactus you see in this video are still small, rest assured, they are gigantic right now :)



Another Day At the Beach

 Skull Rock? @ Windansea Beach, La Jolla, San Diego
 Mushroom rock? @ Windansea Beach, La Jolla, San Diego

 Another Overcast Sunset
Little Arch Rock?

Walgreens

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

~post by Jeff~

It is hard to imagine why anyone would not support our troops and vets.  I am disabled and I am also sick.  It is hard for me to get around sometimes and it seems like I am taking medication before and after every meal.  My wife is not well either although she is in better condition than me.  We are a military family for three generations.  My wife and I both are retired military, one of our son's graduated from the Naval Academy and is still serving, and our daughter retired last year with her 25 years.  My wife and I are fortunate that both of our children and grandchildren live close by to not only see after us a bit but it is the time in life when our time is spent with family.  The story I have to tell is not a happy story but it is true.  It is time I feel to speak out so let me begin.

 We live in a medium size town and our entire family buy's all of our medications from Walgreens.  We love the 24 hour pharmacy services since many times after watching the grandchildren or if I need to make one of my many trips to the ER we can go to the pharmacy anytime to pick up our medications.  Walgreen's offers more 24-hour and drive thru pharmacies than any other pharmacy in the country. In our town there is a large factory and many employees who work seconds and thirds can visit the pharmacy before or after work since the Walgreens is located in a central part of town.  Around Christmas Shirley, I call her my personal pharmacist and she calls me her "most favorite customer" along with my wife, daughter, son, our neighbor, and everyone who faces her bright always willing to help smiling face, told me, "Walgreens and Express Scripts contract expires at midnight December 31, 2011 after a long contract negotiation ended with an unsuccessful outcome.  The end result is anyone with insurance managed by Express Scripts, which includes Tricare which is the military health and prescription drug program for the military will be forced to drive across town several miles away in congested traffic to meet their "we close at 8:00 PM deadline" or buy medications online.  I asked her if Walgreens just wanted more money and she said it was not a money issue since Walgreen's offered to hold rates flat to avoid any major breaks in services and did not increases.  Express Scripts wanted to define brand and generic drugs and proposed to slash the reimbursement rates to levels below the industry average cost to provide each prescription.  In fact Express Scripts itself stated clients will not see any significant savings from excluding Walgreens.  In fact, costs may even go up without Walgreens because Walgreen's is so competitive because their pricing and additional savings by dispensing less expensive generic drugs more often than other pharmacies, and savings through 90-day supplies of medications at the retail pharmacies versus three, 30-day refills. 

 The large factory employees will have the same situation because their employer group plan is managed by Express Scripts.  It is funny she said a Walgreens proprietary survey of 823 executives and managers for pharmacy benefit decisions found that 82 percent of employers said that they would not exclude Walgreens for less than 5 percent savings on their total pharmacy budget.

 Sixty percent of employers would not exclude Walgreens for less than 10 percent savings, and 21 percent would not exclude Walgreens from their network regardless of the amount of savings. These findings on employer attitudes are consistent with recent research published by several leading equity research analysts.Employers value having Walgreens as a pharmacy option for their employees, but Express Scripts took that choice away.

We finished our conversation and she gave me their website and encouraged me to read it for myself.  The website address is: http://bit.ly/y6RTpL

I went home and looked up the information myself finding Express Scripts could offer substantial savings to its clients by promoting 90-day refills at retail pharmacies, but it conflicts with its own mail order 90-day prescription business which brings in huge profits.  Most pharmacies have broke even or lost money in the last few years while Express Scripts has made money more than two times the average for the health care business.  The sad part is this puts our military directly in the middle. During negotiations, Walgreens took a bold step offering to negotiate a separate contract with a strict guarantee that Walgreen's prices would match or beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network.  Walgreens did this in an effort to prevent our country’s military personnel from being caught in the middle. These efforts were rejected.

Walgreen's does not give up trying to serve their customers trying to minimize the disruption by offering a special discount on it's annual membership for its Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens. An individual can join during a special

January promotion for only $5 reduced from $20, or $10 for a family membership originally $35.  Members receive savings on more than 8,000 brand name drugs and more than 400 generic medications. More than 400 generics are available with a three-month supply for less than $1 a week.  In an additional effort to make this transition as seamless as possible Walgreen's has a national plan to help customers continue to use Walgreens as much as possible and take care of as many as possible since they are forced to leave Walgreens in order to use their in-network coverage.

Check with your pharmacist to see if you are impacted by looking on the back of your insurance card to see if it has Express Scripts name.  If so, then you may be affected.

A very effective way to support Walgreens is like them Walgreens on Facebook, follow them on Walgreens on Twitter and tell your friends to do the same.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kokamo and Little Monroe, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Gorilla love....mom love....baby love.....
Kokamo and One day old Baby Monroe, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
( at one day old, it seemed Kokamo was so intent in observing his mom's features and lovingly adoring his mom)
Mom Kokamo and One day old Baby Monroe
We were lucky enough to visit the San Diego Safari Park last June when baby Monroe was less than a day old, and was always carried by protective mom, Kokamo.

Being a member of San Diego Zoological Society, we have unlimited entry to San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, thus, we have seen little Monroe grow from one day old to 2 months old to 3 months old, and most recently, to 6 months old.
Mom Kokamo is still very protective of little Monroe, but she now gives little Monroe the chance to crawl, the chance to sit on his own, the chance to grow, and most of all, the chance to be an independent and caring father gorilla someday.