Tuesday, December 08, 2009

NOT my 15 minutes of fame...

It was brought to my attention that on the Australian version of that hit show Beauty and the Geek, one of the aforementioned "geeks" is named Alan...Kwong. Now I don't claim to have an original name, (Go ahead, try putting my name into Facebook and see how many hits come up. I'll wait a few hours for you) but why can't I be sharing my name with someone cool? Like a star cricket player, or the inventor of silent Velcro? Why did it have to be a reality "star"?

If you want to see, there is a profile of it here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spider hunter

Another fun job I have - family spider killer. Fortunately, Sara doesn't seem too afraid and have saved her big sister a few times. I was alerted of this one outside our front window though...

Doesn't look so big from afar

Umm I think I'm going to leave this one alone.

big mf spider

I do have a small desire to take a blow torch to it though. Must be the sadistic 8 year old in me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time for homework...

One of the joys of being a parent is taking the time to help your kids with homework. So far, Hannah and Sara has been mostly good about school work as far as understanding what they are learning in class. Sara, having gone through two years of preschool, really seem to be ahead of most of the kids in her class. Less work does not mean no work though, so looking over her homework packet the other day, I was impressed with her being able to fill out the missing letters for words associating with a picture. Then I ran across this one...

No idea what she was spelling

You tell me which one doesn't look right, and then tell me what she was trying to spell, because I had no idea...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tales from the road

We were getting gas in Salinas when we saw this place, which prompted Hannah to say,

"Hey Senor Taco. That means boy taco."

I laughed for a good five minutes after that.

Posted via web from Alan's posterous

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We be Strollin'

Parading Hannah

The Solano Stroll was today and we had the added excuse that Hannah and Britt was participating in the parade in the morning to promote her softball league. But really, I was just in it for the food.

Essential Stand

Most important thing for me at a street fair is above: "FUNNEL CAKE". The other stuff deep fried is good too.

Cute corn dog

Because there is no love like food-on-a-stick love. At least I think that's a corn dog she's posing with.

Crab Garlic Fries Bliss

New food is a plus too. You read that right. Crab garlic fries. And it tastes every bit as delicious as it sounds. Yum!

Head is too big for hats

Oh, and I found out that my head is just too big to pull off these sorts of hats. Ah well, Ne-Yo I will never be.

Sara rockin the hat

But fortunately it's not a genetic thing. Look at this cutie in her hat. If only her dad weren't so cheap...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School '09

First Day of School '09
Originally uploaded by Alanmine
Another first day of school.

A big 1st grader and an even bigger 5th grader.

Wow it goes by fast.

Music Appreciation

Music and I have a strange relationship. I am one of the least talented musicians you'll ever meet. My music career consisted of one year of violin in the 5th grade, and there was a short time with a recorder (is that even a real instrument?) somewhere in elementary school. I have no concept of tone or pitch, can't read a lick of music, and my singing should be restricted to the shower. Despite my inability to grasp music on any tangible level, I have an emotional connection to music that is as vital to me as any of life's other basic needs. Music is something I feel, something that, if matched to my current mood, weaves through my soul and brings it out to the open. I recently told you how I keep a lot of me deep inside of me. Music is one way to channel some of that out. The right song helps bring a part of me out from behind the walls I have built. It's not anything that anyone can really see. The music just has to be loud enough to envelope me in its emotions, and I just feel along with it.

I especially like the part of the song where the music just goes, seemingly lead by itself, to a predetermined place. Branford Marsalis' solo in the middle of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Harry Connick Jr is my all time favorite. It touches me at my very core. I have also recently love listening to John Mayer, especially live performances, where he just breaks into unbelievable solos. I don't know much about music, but I know that man can play a guitar. I'm listening to Gravity a lot lately, but it's hard for me to nail down my favorite.

If I figure this out right, I'd like to share both those songs with you. What songs touches you emotionally? I would love to hear about it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Moment of Truth

I was reading a friend's blog recently, and I was admiring their honestly and how much of themselves they were willing to put out there for all to see. I sense some trepidation though as they would always end by telling people that things aren't really so bad, or stating that they just wanted to vent a little. I thought to myself, you don't have to make those statements. It's your blog. You rant about whatever you want and people can judge as they like. If you are willing to share something in such a public forum, you should go all out and not worry about how people will react to it.

Of course, that is also when the hypocrisy fairies came flying in and kicked the high and mighty soapbox out from under me. Who am I to judge others who courageously shared from the dark and lonely corners of their mind? What have I written in this space that is in any way retrospective and let in even a hint of light from those on the outside? Does telling you about what I made for dinner last night or a funny story about my kids really say anything about me?

One thing I do get right about this blog is that it's the perfect extension of me. I live my life like a big card game. If other people are willing to show their hands, then they are the sucker. Me, I'm keeping my cards close to the vest, like knowing all the cards out there will give me some advantage in life. Sometimes all it means is that the pair of queens you're holding will never beat that flush out there. Is that really worth not having anyone really connecting with you and knowing how you are wired?

I'm not sure where I wanted to go with this. Just wanted a splash of honesty in this space somewhere. It's a start, right?

Tomorrow, I'll go back to telling you what I had for dinner.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Baby on the Move

Speaking of time flying. Audrey apparently is going to skip the whole crawling thing like her sisters. She scoots on her tummy now, but as you see in the video below, she has decided 6 months is enough time to start getting up and walking.

Who's going to stop her? Not me...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Time Flies

Got an email from the University of California Alumni Association today inviting me to Homecoming this year. They highlight all sorts of events to commemorate my 10 year anniversary of graduation... holy cow, 10 years?? Has it been 10 years since I left that place?? For some reason the 10 years after high school went by so much slower than the 10 years after college. Guess life happens a lot faster as you get older. Anyway, the weekend of Oct 8th, I will bring the family on campus to soak up the Cal experience. Culminating in a the Homecoming football game between Cal and USC. Think the Bears can win one for me? (am I old enough to be a gipper?)

Friday, June 26, 2009

New toy

New iPhone 3GS, new ways to record my kids doing silly things. Like playing Guitar Hero, complete with 80's rocker side pony tail. They will never cease to invent new ways for me to embarrass my kids for the rest of their lives...

My first YouTube submission! (that I can recall....)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fun with Food


I saw these from Boing Boing a while back and thought they were cool and my kids would love them. So the other night, when I was at a little lost at what to make for dinner. I found a pack of hot dogs leftover from a recent BBQ and decided to try it out.


It's actually trickier than I thought to thread raw spaghetti through hot dogs. The noodles are pretty brittle. I found that doing a few spaghetti at a time helped a little, but mostly the key is to not worry too much about threading them through perfectly. They'll look fine once cooked.


The other important thing is to cook the noodles for a minute or two longer so the part that is inside the hot dog is cooked all the way too. It's not a big deal. Mixed in with the hot dog, my kids probably didn't even noticed if the spaghetti wasn't cooked all the way.

I ended up cutting between the hot dog segments to make them look more wild. They were a fun meal for the kids. I even brought a few to work the next day as a snack. Fun for all ages!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Budding photographer

From Sara's pictures

As a parent, all I try to do is to provide my children with the opportunity to experience as much as possible, and hopefully somewhere along the line, they discover things that they want to spend more time on. That might mean some 3 month lessons in karate or trumpet lessons, but if you know me at all you know I am just not the pushy parents who makes their kids do anything specific. If they don't spend their summer vacation melting their brains in front of the TV, I am pretty much fine with whatever it is they do instead.

(Just to be clear, I have nothing against TV either. My kids pretty much know all of the Disney channel personalities as well. Everything in moderation. I hate parents who turn their nose up at things like High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Those shows aren't made for you. I'm not expecting you to sing along. I'd much rather have my kids knowing the words to a Jonas Brothers song than shaking their little booties to the latest Lil Wayne single....ok, WAY off topic now)

One of the things Sara has been interested in is taking pictures. If you've been around us you know that we are always taking pictures everywhere we go. Digital cameras are indispensable for us and I guess it naturally made an impression on our kids. Sara always ask to use the camera to take pictures of her own and we started to notice that she does a pretty good job. My sister had an old camera laying around so she gave it to Sara recently and she loves it. She takes it wherever she goes and wants to snap a picture of everything. With all this good work, I decided to help her put some of those pictures up somewhere to share with others. If you are interested, check them out here.

Sara's pictures

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Freed from wires, not from cords

I hate wires.

Whenever possible I get the wireless versions of all the gadgets I have around the house. Wireless keyboard and mouse, wireless networks, wireless controllers, wireless extension cords (just kidding about that last one. Would be cool though). I had the good fortune today to get wireless headphones that work with my computer as both headphones(I'm actually listening to them right now) and a headset, my phone as a bluetooth headset, and soon as a wireless headphones for the music on said phone. It's the coolest thing. I'm even giving it a plug (wireless, of course) with the Amazon link.

The downside to all of these avoidance of wires is the box of chargers that I now possess. Wireless still needs electricity, and while better than buying tons of batteries, why can't there be more of a standard chargers that more devices can just share? Having something run out of batteries is a minor annoyance. Rummaging through a box of chargers to find the right one is just plain crazy.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Do You Know What Today Is? It's Our Anniversary..

Apologies to Tony! Toni! Toné! for borrowing their song for the title...

Gad, I'm failing at writing more already. Shame. Ok, must put something out there. Let's do this!

I celebrated an anniversary the other day. An important one too - 10 years of marriage. It's funny, all of the usual things you hear about long marriages apply. The ones about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful woman in my life, how I would do it all over again in a second, etc...all that good stuff. The thing that probably sticks out the most as I reflect on ten years of having my other half is probably the most generic of all: It goes by fast. In a blink of an eye I go from graduating college student to a husband and father of three. It serves as a good reminder to really stop once in a while and appreciate what you have in this great adventure. I certainly can't wait to see what the next ten years will bring. Hopefully I will be even better prepared to enjoy it.

Oh, the requisite (and slightly embarassing pictures):

That failthful day

Table with a View

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Short Attention Span

Sigh... I am no longer able to put together thoughts that are over 140 characters. Thanks, Twitter...

I am going to try and get through this. Start small and work my way up. Shorter posts, more often. With your support, I can do this.

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter anyway. @ak3700

Thanks and a shout out to my writing inspiration. It's her new blog that is getting me off my writing butt. (Writing butt?? That is a weird metaphor. See? I am out of practice)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Great Expectations Indeed

And they say kids don't read Dickens anymore...

Ha, so it's Brittany who is currently reading Great Expectations. But Hannah was interested enough to read 2 or 3 pages to check it out. Got to love a book lover.

It's a hopeful picture tough, no?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Belated Pi Day

Oh my goodness I almost let Pi Day just roll right by. I didn't even have a piece of pie to celebrate! Terrible....I've been busy. Weekends blow by either faster now that my kids are involved in stuff. There's Sara starting ballet class...

Sara Ballerina

And even more so, Hannah started girls softball, which she loves so far.

Softball clinic

So hey, who has time for silly holidays? (me!)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

From Math to English...

How could I plug the in vogue Square Roots Day without then giving proper respects to the ol' reliable Verb Day! March Fo(u)rth! Go do something today! I'll probably at my desk at work again, but with the weather as stormy as it has been lately, avoid getting all wet is activity enough!

Oh, and this day is extra cool becase my blogging friend's son was born on this day. Fits him so well, that active kid. Happy Birthday, Judah!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Math Days

March is already home to two of my favorite days of the year (March 4th, and 3/14). Tomorrow, in an event that only happens nine times per century, let's go out and celebrate Square Root Day!! Nerds of the world unite! 3/3/09!!! Woohoo!

An Introspective Moment

I was talking to a friend recently about friendship. This person was recently told by another friend that he wasn't being a good enough friend to him right now. This started a conversation about what it means to be a good friend, and what sort of expectations you should have from your friends. I came to the conclusion that you should never ever tell someone that they aren't being a good enough friend. We can all probably be a better friend to someone we know (I know I certainly fit in that category), but that is an introspective analysis that only you can conclude after an honest look at what's on your plate. Life goes at a hectic speed nowadays with work, family, friends, hobbies, church, etc. that needs to be re-prioritized constantly. To just throw the burden of your personal needs onto someone else and expect them to carry the load is both unfair, and not being a very good friend yourself.

If you think that I am not being a good enough friend to you right now, I am very sorry. I promise that I am doing the best that I can for you right now. I honestly think that you deserve to have someone in your life who will meet all your needs. If it turns out that I am not that person, that is OK with me and I hope you find that right person. I hope that you can still find some value in what I can offer you at this point in my life, for I still value our friendship very much. It may not be as much as you wanted, but it's still an important part of me.

- Signed, A Friend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lost and Found

I found a quote a long time ago that really spoke to me and really shaped my outlook on life. It was printed on a piece of paper and kept in a quasi-journal thing in my room at my parent's house for a long time. Of course, who knows where that that paper is now. Yet I think of it once in a while and today decided to take advantage of this Internet doohickey to find the quote. It was tricky since I didn't know exactly how it went, but I found here, and I'm posting it here as a new keeping place. You can read it or not, I'm really clipping this one for myself. You will know me a little better for it though, if you are into that kind of thing.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

- Charles R Swindoll

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mission Street Foods...At Last!

I'm not going to rehash my previous experiences with Mission Street Foods. Just know that there I was, again, in line, waiting to get in for this week's cheap eats. I had a new plan this time, I was there when they opened at 6, and brought the whole family with me (hooray capool!). Quite a crowd had already developed outside, but I didn't mind a little wait. I just need them to not run out of food! The kids weren't as excited abut standing outside though...

In Line Again...

After 45 minutes, the kids were pretty restless and hungry. I decided to walk the kids down the block to give them something to do. We walked by a Salvadoran restaurant so I decided that a couple of pupusas would make a good snack before dinner. We waited for the freshly made treats and when we got back to the even bigger crowd, Britt was nowhere to be found. I didn't think we were gone that long but apparently my name was called and they almost gave our table away because we weren't all there. Good thing Brittany is charming and convinced them we were only half a block away! So finally, I had made it inside.

A Seat Inside!

It also worked out that this week's menu was pretty kids friendly. Macaroni and cheese? Hot dogs and chili? Check. The complete menu can be found here, but we all shared the mac and cheese, hot dog and chili, fried chicken, and BBBLT. Here they are before we dug in:

Digging in

As you can see, the portions are not very big. They were indeed delicious though and we finished it all quick. But there was still dessert! The girls were very excited to have a scoop of the "Barack-y Road" ice cream. (So excited that it was gone before I got a picture. It was a scoop of ice cream. Use your imaginations) For the adults, however, butter friend corn bread with butter milk panna cotta.

Butter-Fried Cornbread with Buttermilk Panna Cotta, and Mint Julep Honey

By the way, sorry the pictures aren't the greatest. I had my nice camera with me, but I just couldn't bring myself to using the bright flash in that dark place. It would have been pretty distracting to others. So iPhone picture by candlelight will have to do...

So I was finally glad that I finally sampled the great Mission Street Foods. Even though I was hungry when I got home, it was a nice chance for the whole family to try some fancy entrees for a reasonable price. Besides, there's always the pupusas to top your stomach off!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Food Notes

Things I've been eating lately (or at least thought about eating):

- Tried to visit the Mission Street Food phenomenon again last Thursday. Haven't been able to make it (inside, anyway) since they take over the Lung Shan restaurant (I do miss that taco truck). So we drop by at about 8:45 to this lovely crowd mingling outside:

Mission Street Food Crowd

I expected a wait, so we hung out for a while. People were getting in and out at a reasonable rate so I was hopeful, but then the dreaded announcement came that they were running out of food. So once again, I missed out on duck fat fried rice. We were determined to try something new that night though (well, and we were hungry), so we ended up at a lovely pupuseria where I had a pupusa con queso y loroco. Loroco is a flower that grows in El Salvador and commonly use in cooking. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I ate it as soon as they brought it to me (If it makes you feel better, the cheese totally burned my tongue). It actually doesn't have much of a taste. You kind of smell it more than anything else. Fragrant, but not a huge draw. But I ate something I never had before, and it was only $1.90, so I'll call the evening a success.

- Friday evening after getting a haircut for the upcoming Chinese new year (as well as taking advantage of the $8.99 haircut sale at Great Clips), Britt and I decided to grab a quick dinner at In N Out. For some reason (probably hunger, it does crazy things to you), I decided to go with the Animal Fries. For the 3 of you out there who don't know about it yet, Animal Fries is a part of their not so secret menu where you fries come topped with cheese, grilled onions and thousand dressing. I had it once before and wasn't really impressed. This time though I think I found the key: as soon as you get it, give it a good stirring so that the topping makes its way to the bottom as well. Much better that way. The question I had though, was when did they start having a specific container for this thing? Not so secret indeed:

Animal Fries Container

- Finally, a quick one for the Asian kids out there. Who hasn't been to an Asian market as a kid and tried to talk their parents into getting them a Yan Yan? Cracker sticks that you dip into chocolate or strawberry...uh...sauce? They are the best and even now when I get them for my own kids, I would have to grab a few to make sure they are poisonous. I was at Ranch 99 tonight and we saw their newest creation:

Yan Yan For Kids!

Yan Yan kids? What the heck was I eating before? Was I guilty of some underage Yan Yan'ing all this time? I am so ashamed all of a sudden...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crime and Punishment

In my short stint working at the police department (a lifetime ago, it seems), we used to have a saying. "We never catch the smart ones," veteran officers would tell me. Fortunately for us, most people who decide on a life of crime aren't smart, and even the smart ones eventually do something stupid. I am reminded of this all the time reading about dumb criminals in the news, like this winner here. For all you young fledging criminals out there, if you are going to be dealing with unsavory people doing unsavory things, and a disagreement ensues, the police are probably not the people you want to call to settle the dispute.

Oh, and don't sell your children. Even for a lot of beer.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Has it already been a month since I've last post? (Or, "I haven't post since last year!", as my 9 year old would point out) Time has a way of going by quickly, especially this time of year. What have I been up to, you made ask? Well, let me tell you....

Made a trip to sample the renowned "preggo pizza." It was basically a combo pizza with extra onion and extra garlic. Alas, it didn't work so well for Brittany. It did give me some crazy breath and heartburn, so it's not without it's powers...

Tilden Merry Go Round
Christmas time at the Merry Go Round at Tilden Park. Always festive and a kid favorite. Those are some good looking kids...

AC Christmas 2008
Christmas also means the annual AC Christmas spectacular. Always seem to grow bigger every year. I guess I have a lot to do with that...

Christmas present Opening Chaos
Christmas also means lots of stops to see family and bunch of presents for the kids. Kids love to open presents, dad hates trying to find room for it all. (Some ends up getting donated. Don't tell the girls!)

New Year's toast
And we brought in 2009 with a little quiet celebration at home. Sara is holding cider, I swear. She just looks funny because she was determined to stay up until midnight....

That's about it. You know, probably what all of you did this time of year....

Oh yeah, I forgot. There was the thing about Brittany giving birth to our new daughter...

Born Dec 23rd, Audrey Suzanne Kwong has made quite a splashed in all of our lives. She keeps us pretty busy too! (In a good way, of course)

Look at the hair!
Mommy and baby are doing very well. They do each other's hair...

Lion King Pose
We re-enact Disney movies... ("Circle of Life!!.....")

New Year's celebration!
And we celebrated the New Year together.

Family of Five!
Family of Five...That's going to take some getting used to.