2011 Reunion

This weekend my high school friends had a mini reunion in Tampa, FL. We all went to the same high school in Miami, FL. Now we all live in different cities: Eliu (Miami), Karn (Tampa), Keun (DC), and Tim (Atlanta).

Tim was the first to arrive on Friday at 2pm. We hung out at Clearwater Beach. Eliu arrived late afternoon and joined us. We got some food at Crabby’s on the beach.

Keun’s plane was delayed. He arrived last at 8pm. After picking him up, we all had dinner at the Refinery in Tampa.


On Saturday, we had breakfast at Wildflower Cafe. Afterward we went to Busch Gardens. We went on the new Cheetah Hunt ride and the classic Montu. Then we grabbed some food. But by then a thunder storm was fast approaching and all the roller coasters were shut down. By the time we got back to the car, it was pouring and we got soaked. Just like 10 years ago when we came to Tampa.

After Busch Gardens, we went to Ybor City to get some cigars. Then we went home and cleaned up. Around 8pm we went to Cristino’s for dinner.

On Sunday we got breakfast at Panera Bread, dropped Keun off and went to get some Thai food at Wat Mongkolratanaram. After that we dropped Tim off at the airport. Eliu and I went home and just relaxed. Eliu left Monday morning.

2010 California

Day 1

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Jessica and I were invited to Liz & Neko’s wedding in Santa Barbara, CA this weekend. We left Tampa on Friday evening around 5pm. We had a lay over in Atlanta, then flew to LAX.

We rented a Nissan Sentra from Hertz (could’ve gotten a Corvette!) and drove to Ventura Beach Marriott. It was around mid night (3am EST), and we were both tired, but the view of the city from the mountain was pretty cool.

Day 2

2

Jessica and I woke up at 9am after a long night. We got some smoothies to hold us off in the morning.

Around 11am we took a 30 min drive south and had lunch at Malibu Seafood. It was quite nice; a small diner across the street from the Pacific Ocean. We shared a tuna burger and some fried scallops.

After lunch we drove up Corral Canyon Road to the top of the mountain. The view was spectacular. We could see the mountains, the beaches, and the Channel Islands. We also saw a couple of deer along the way.

We made a quick stop along the side of the road for some sight viewing. There was another young couple there. They took a picture for us.

There was a bunch of road signs saying not to continue farther if the condition was red. Jessica was a bit worried because we did’t know what the condition was. Finally when the paved road ended and turned into dirt road, we turned around. We didn’t want to risk driving our rental car on the curvy mountain dirt road.

On the way down, we started riding the brake, so we switched over to the low gear (automatic). Something we didn’t really have to do in the flat Florida.

After the mountain we drove by Point Dume State Beach. But there were no available parking. We drove around the neighborhood and went to Zuma Beach. We saw some people with a bunch of dogs in the water.

We headed back to Ventura and watched a little bit of college football. At 5pm, we drove up to Santa Barbara and had dinner with my cousin Jack at the Endless Summer Bar-Cafe. The food was pretty good. We had halibut tacos and salmon tacos.

jack

After dinner Jack drove us to downtown Santa Barbara and we walked down State Street. It was really nice. There were a lot of shops and a lot of people out and about. All of the stores had a boutique look and feel. It was a pleasant walk.

At 9pm we headed back to our hotel.

Day 3

segway

Jessica and I drove to Santa Barbara in the morning. We had booked a Segway tour. It turned out that we were the only people for this time slot. So we got a private tour with the tour guide Bill.

It took us a few minutes riding around in the parking lot to get used to the Segway. But after that it was really easy and a lot of fun. We got to see many parts of Santa Barbara: out of the way architectural buildings, State Street, parks, and the court house. We finished the tour with a ride along the beach.

After the tour we drove back to Ventura and hadlunch at Baja Fresh. Then we changed and headed back to Santa Barbara for the wedding.

wedding

The wedding was in Montecito Country Club. The alter was behind this window that over looked the golf course and out into the ocean. It was a traditional wedding. Nathan and Dmitriy, our friends from college, were in the wedding party.

At the reception there was a live orchestra instead of a DJ. Everything was really well done. Liz and Neko looked really good together.

Day 4

Our last day in California. We drove back to LA. The traffic was pretty bad. And the weather got really hot (over 110 F at one point). But we made it through and was glad to be back home in Florida.

2010-03-04 Easter Weekend

This past weekend I went down to Miami. On Friday I met up with some friends and we all went to see Clash of the Titans together. It was pretty good. Afterward Eliu took me to his work (he works in the security department at one of the luxury condos). Some of the tennants’ kids were leaving the next day and wanted to say bye to Eliu (they were here for spring break). We hung out there for a bit, I got to see some cool cars in the garage too (Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, etc).

On Saturday, we went to lunch at the China Apple Buffet. We got to see Keun before he drove back up to Washington, DC. In the afternoon, Eliu and I went to a buddhist temple (????????????????????????????????????) to get my Thai passport renewed. I had an appointment, so we didn’t have to wait long. But it was way out in the middle of nowhere (152 Ave & 240 St).

In the afternoon, Eliu and I went to visit Danny and his family at Anais’s parents’ house. Johny and his wife, Hana, came over. We ordered pizza from Power Pizza and played The Settlers of Catan. It was pretty cool. At night, Eliu and I met up with Chris, Ingrid, Jose, and their friends at Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood for Ingrid’s 25th birthday.

On Sunday I went to UBC for the Easter service. Then had lunch with Danny and Chris before driving back home.

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2010-03-14 Dolphin Boat Ride

Our friends Jessica and her fiancé JP came over to visit us this weekend.  Saturday evening we went to the Side Splitters comedy club.  It was pretty good.  The audience was full (with old people). 

Then we had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen at the International Plaza.  Our previous times were pretty good, but not this weekend.  Our food took about an hour to come out.  I ordered a salad, so it wasn’t so bad.  JP’s Hawaiian pizza was luke-warm and looked like it’s been sitting out for a while. He asked them to reheat it.  It came back luke-warm again.  He sent it back and just wanted a regular cheese pizza.  That one came back luke-warm too.  So he finally asked for a manager and got it off the check.  We ended up going to Chic-fil-A afterward.

On Sunday we went on a dolphin boat ride on the Sea Screamer in Clearwater Beach.  The whole trip took a little more than an hour.  But we spent most of the time just riding around the bay and maybe 15 minutes looking for dolphins.  Video: 

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2010-02-19 Moving to Belleair

This past weekend Jessica and I moved from our apartment in St Petersburg to a condo in Belleair (just south of Clearwater). We made the move so I could be closer to work (2.5 vs 15 miles).  It adds about 10 minutes to Jessica’s commute, but she only goes to school about 3 days a week.

The condo association does not permit residents to move in on the weekends.  So I took Friday off and rented a U-Haul truck.  I reserved a 17′ truck, planing on getting everything in one trip.  When I went to pick it up, they told me they had rent it out last night on an emergency call.  They gave me a 15′ plus some discounts: flat rate of $35 (no mileage) and a free dozen blankets.  Leon, the guy I talked to, was really nice.

We were fortunate to have Danny and Joel come over to help (since most people work).  We loaded the U-Haul truck up with all of our big furniture except the sofa and the computer desk.  We also got some other small boxes loaded.  Then we drove to the new place.  Jessica got us some pizzas for lunch.

After lunch, Harry the maintenance guy was there setting up the elevator and the hall way for us.  He didn’t say much, but was very helpful.  He brought out different types of tools to help us move based on the type of items he saw.

After a few hours we mentioned to Harry that we were going back for another trip.  That’s when things started to get hairy.  He said to check with Don, the association president about moving after hour.  I was confused.  I talked to Don and it turned out no vendors (including trucks) were allowed in after 5pm.  I told him that nobody told us about this.  Of course he said he did and that it was also in the booklet.  I called Jessica (she was back at the old apartment) and she was very upset.  She looked up the booklet and nowhere did it mention anything about the 5pm rule.  We want to follow all of their rules, but we can’t if we don’t know them.  This particular building is the only one the does not allow vendors on weekends either.  So we had to reschedule Bright House to come back on Monday to install our internet.

We considered rushing back to get the rest of the stuff with the truck, but didn’t want to risk not being able to get back in.  So we finished unloading what’s left in the truck and just returned it.

We went to Mama Fu’s for dinner.  Then Joel went back to Orlando.  Danny stayed the night and went back to Miami the next morning.

Without the U-Haul truck, it took Jessica and I three more trips on Saturday and two on Sunday to get most of the stuff over.  Good thing they were small boxes and clothes, so we didn’t break the rule (no moving furniture on weekends). We’re planning on moving our sofa and the computer desk sometimes this week.

Stay tuned for more pictures once we’re settled in.

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2010 Full Auto Motor Sports – AutoX

S2000
Alex and I went to the Full Auto Motor Sports event today at the Tropicana Field’s parking lot.  We got there around 6:45am.  It was still pretty dark out.  And cold.  The high today was in the 60’s.  And it was really windy.  I guess it’s much better than being hot and sweaty!

The drivers were split into two types: Grip (groups A, B, C) and Drift (groups D, E, F).  I was in group C.  Group A was for experienced drivers.  They got to go first, while the novice drivers had a quick safety/tip session.  Each group got 4 sessions through out the day.

There were many different types of cars.  The majority of the Drift cars were Nissan 240SX.  There were also a Toyota MR2, a few Nissan 350Zs, and an S2000 (David).  The Grip cars varied a lot more, including cars such as S2000 (mine), 350Z, Mustang, 240SX, RX-7, Corvette, Elise/Exige, and WRX.  There were also some higher end cars such as Corvette Z06, M3, and Viper.  One car that stood out the most was a Miata with a Corvette engine.  He ran for one session and I didn’t see him anymore.  Not sure what happened.
Alex

In my first session, I drove alone for a few laps and with a professional driver (Drew) for a few laps.  He gave me some pointers, but I think my lack of experience hindered me quite a bit.  Alex joined me in my second session.  It was fun to try different camera angles.
Camera

Then we had lunch.  After lunch I ran back home to get my wheel locks so I could change the tires.  I got back to the event just in time for my third session to start.  This time around I had Matt riding with me.  He also drove a couple of laps to show me how I should be driving.  Definitely his driving was way better than mine.  With a bit more experience/lap time and a few extra advice, I felt like my driving was improving.  But alas I got a little ahead of myself and I ended up spinning out (my only time).  Alex joined me for a couple of laps at the end of this session.
Turning

Afterward we got my front tires changed by Advance Performance Tires n Wheels. In my fourth and final session, I started off slow because of the new tires.  But i was able to feel the extra grip.  New tire definitely made a big difference.  I could feel the car wasn’t trying to break loose as much as before.  My unofficial (aka Alex’s stopwatch) fastest lap was 55s.  Before I was averaging about 59s.

You can view the pictures on my Picasa Web/Alex’s Facebook album and the videos on my youtube playlist.  If you only want to watch a few, I recommend these:

 

The course layout:
course

2010 New Tires – HTR-Z III

Last November, I bought a pair of HTR-Z III for my rear tires.  Now my front tires are going bald, so I ordered another pair of Sumitomo HTR-Z III.  This time they’re 215/45ZR17 87 for the front.

Alex and I are going to the Full Auto Motorsports this Saturday.  I’m getting the tires installed there before the event.  Looking forward to it.  I’ll write up another post after, hopefully with a few videos and lots of pictures.

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Visiting Miami

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This past week Jessica was visiting her mom in Jacksonville and some friends in Gainesville.  I didn’t go because I had work.  I decided to go down to Miami for the weekend.

I spent Friday night at the Espinosa’s.  Danny recently started his new job as a police officer in Hollendale, FL.  I got to see him with his full uniform on with a vest and gun and all. Pretty cool.  He and I went to see Avatar in 3D. After the movie we hung out with Eliu at Denny’s.  Good time.

Saturday morning we hung out a bit.  Anais’s and Danny’s kids, Dominic and Noemie, were really cute.  Here are some videos of them:

After I left Danny’s, I went to visit Eliu.  We had lunch with his friends at Checker’s.  Then I went to Borders and hung out until Chris got off work.  I drove up to Adventura mall and had dinner with Chris, his girlfriend, and her 2 kids.  I spent the night at Chris.

Sunday morning we all went to UBC.  We dropped the kids off in their classes, and went to the 10:30am service.  Got a picture with Bill White and Ronnie.  After church, we had lunch at Sunset Place with Keun.  Then I drove back.  

A fun weekend.