Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Stopped by the Eastman bookstore today and got a little present for my parents. The school, although one of the best in the world, was never their favorite. When I was accepted there I bought my mom an "Eastman Mom" shirt and I have not seen it since then. This time to her insistence I am stuck with the mini-van until Thanksgiving, so I got her an Eastman license plate holder. I will have to make sure that it is secured extra well so it won't fall off "accidentally"!

Although I never got anywhere with my musical pursuit, I am nevertheless eternally grateful for everything that I've experienced at Eastman. After moving to Pittsford we rarely visited the Gibbs Street area. Driving through garage brought back many memories of the school, the days of listening to and memorizing Schubert songs just before an aural skills class, reviewing keyboard progressions, writing musical analysis... the list goes on. I ran into my old Italian professor in the garage and on the way back I saw Allen Harris, the cello professor, sipping coffee at his usual spot, Javas. Students are everywhere, some carrying their instruments and some riding bicycles. Indeed those were the good days. Sometime I think to myself, maybe it's not too late. I can still get back to practice and go get a masters in guitar performance just for fun. But then, in reality, we all have to work at some point. And there goes playing and traveling the world...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lyons, NY

Another day on the water, this time from the launch at Abbey Park in Lyons, NY. Instead of tracking the Erie Canal this time we explored the Clyde River, just north of the canal. Located in midway between Rochester and Syracuse, driving through the village of Lyons is like stepping back in time. I wish I had more time to linger but the forecast had called for afternoon rain so we had to hurry.

This is the fifth launch site we have tried on the Erie Canal (Pittsford, Fairport, Palmyra, Newark and Lyons). While they are all very enjoyable, I believe Widewaters is still our favorite. The launch here at Abbey Park is located between Lock 27 and 28A with about a mile of canal in between, rather a short distance. I wanted to come here to check out the peculiar shape of the canal. Not sure why it is like that...maybe it's made so that large boats can get out of the traffic between the two locks.

The winding Clyde River was quite interesting. With many large trees fallen in the river making it less navigable for larger boats, we saw no other boat traffic during our 4-hour excursion. As the wind picked up in the early afternoon we turned around and headed back to the launch. The river is mostly calm with current only in isolated spots, rather strange. Fall has made its presence known here. As we paddled through the rustic countryside autumn leaves fell around us and are taken up by the current. With the Erie Canal book in hand, I too felt inspired by the early explorers that sailed through this part of Western New York.

Two Brothers

Cheez-It has been renamed to Ernie after Hemingway. Here you see Teddy on the left and Ernie on the right with the hand-me-down flea collard (it was getting too small for Teddy). Ernie has made a big improvement on getting acclimated into the family. Now the two brothers are inseparable, chasing each other all over the apartment. I love these two cuties!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I'm happy to announce that the new kitty is finally out of the couch! He's the one on the lower left side of the photo with more gray tint. I hope Cheeze-It will like his new home here. Although the same age, he's a big skinnier than Teddy. And he has extra toes that makes him look like he's wearing mittens! Instead of four toes and a dewclaw thumb, Cheeze-It has a real thumb on the front paws making him a polydactyl cat. I read online that a particular strain native to Ithaca, New York, is known as the "Ithacats". There's no way of me telling if Cheeze-It is a Ithacat but he's a little cutie, just need to put some more weight on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I was made aware today that my blogs mentioning the company name is not appreciated. Ok, that's a good heads up, and I'm sure you know how I feel about it. Talking about how oppressive communism is. Anyways, it's better to not talk about work. Nothing really exciting happens there anyways. Out of the 12 awaking hours of my day, 8 of them will not be mentioned from now on.

One a separate note, our kitty family is growing. I found Cheeze-It on the location cat adoption website. After meeting him (and many others) at the Four Legged Friends cat shelter in Penfield, we signed the papers and brought him home. I apologize that there are no pictures of Cheeze-It because we have not seen much of him since we came home. The little cat about the same age, size and color as Teddy, is simply too timid. He has been hiding under the couch since yesterday evening. I hope he is eating and going to the bathroom... Teddy has been pretty friendly, although he always seem to make his way to the treats I try to entice Cheeze-It with. I'm confident that the new kitty will eventually warm up to us. For one thing Teddy seems to be happy with his new brother; he's not meowing anymore when we come home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lunch Lady and another Sunday at the Canal

Suburb, minivan, kitty mom and 8-5, you can hardly tell it's me we're talking about! Had a late start to this Sunday, but once up I was ready to get busy in the kitchen to make lunches for the coming week. Although the new Wegmans is right down the street from work, lunch brought from home is always tasty and more economical. It also allows me to eat at my desk and venture out during my lunch hour. Menu for next week: Indian beef curry with onions, mushroom and peas; thin sliced lamb with asparagus and baked tofu. I always liked being in project mood. It keeps me focused. By the time I was done and prepared lunch for Sunday as well, I was ready for my siesta. But to budget our time better and take advantage of the beautiful weather, we decided to take the row boat back to Widewaters Canal Park in Palmyra.

To take it easy this time I decided to bring a book along for the boat ride. Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire by Gerard Koeppel. How appropriate I thought, rowing on the Erie Canal and reading about its history at the same time. The fact is most of us upstate New Yorkers (or New Yorkers in general), take the canal for granted. Whenever we mentioned to people that we take the boat to the canal they seem to turn their noses up at the idea. The canal is in my opinion quite scenic and intriguing. At the time of its completion in 1825, the Canal was by far the most advanced engineering feat and expensive civil project of its era. The principle of the locking system dates itself back to Leonardo de Vinci but it wasn't until the workmen invented water-proof cement during the construction of Erie that made the 363 miles of canal a feasible project.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taken by the Spirit

As part of Friends of Mt.Hope Society, we have been participating in many Mt. Hope walks in the cemetery this year. The special tours are centered around a variety of themes ranging from the old wealthy of East Ave. to the infamous law breakers in the area. The America's first municipal Victorian cemetery in picturesque setting serves as a valuable history museum for the city of Rochester. Today's tour was on the ancient geology of Mt. Hope held by geologist Bill Chaisson from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the U of R. I have to say some tours are a bit more captivating the others, and Dr. Chaisson was not by any means dry or enthused. He started with some background information on glacial geology of Western New York with high tech hand drawn cartoons. Personally I found the stuff to be quite interesting, especially since I have seen glaciers up close and personal while traveling down Patagonia.

So here it goes:
During the "ice age" (18-19 thousand years ago?) the glacier came down from Hudson Bay and advanced pass the northern Pennsylvania state line forming the "Moraine of the Second Glacial Epoch". As the climate changed, the ice retreated back through New York state, halting in different spots to form other recessional moraines, one just south of the Finger Lakes and one across Henrietta and Brighton. Moraines are formed when the glacier reaches a state of equilibrium and ice front lingers for a prolong period of time at the same place. As we walked through the cemetery, Dr. Chaisson pointed out many striking features in the landscape as evidences left by the terminal moraine. We learned about the formation of Kames (hills formed by sand and gravel deposit), Kettles (circular depressions made by a large chunk of fallen ice) and glacial erratics (non native rocks left by the glacier that have been molded into a particular shape resembling a little boat). The ridge now marked as the "Indian Trail" was formed by an Esker, a subglacial stream channel filled with sediments.

Everyone seemed high spirited as we walked up and down the hills and along the ridges on a beautiful early autumn day. However, the tour was interrupted by an rather freaky emergency stop! As the group gathered up at top of a hill, an older woman stepped out on my left side in a half running speed, took two steps towards the guide and collapse straight onto the ground. I was startled to say the least. The way she was walking before she went down looked as if she was possessed, or perhaps I've just never seen anyone pass out like that. Her legs completely gave out as she fell forward facing the ground, arms to the sides without attempting to catch herself in anyway. As she laid in front of me motionless I could see blood on the ground. "Who has a cell phone? Somebody call 911!" a woman shouted from the group. I stepped back as the others helped her to roll over. Moments later the lady regained consciousness and seemed to be ok other than a cut above her eye. But judging from the way she fell I hope she doesn't have more serious head injuries. Some say she could have had a seizure. The ambulance eventually made it up the hill and took her to the hospital. I was a little shaken up from the whole thing as she was right in front of me and even now I can recall the whole event with vivid clarity.

Later in the afternoon we had a relaxing boat ride on Lake Conesus with Teddy. We had originally planned to take our boat to Hemlock Lake but the gradual gravel ramp made it rather impossible to launch our boat without both of us getting wet and scratching up the bottom of the boat. As you can see from the picture Teddy really enjoyed sitting on the side of the boat and looking into the water as if he was trying to find fishes!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cat Toys

Having a 8-5 job means lesser time home and lesser time with the cat. I don't think Teddy likes being home alone all the time but then I'm not sure which one of us feels worse because I feel pretty guilty for leaving him. It's not like there's a kitty daycare I can send him to. I had the intention to adopt another orange cat around his age from Petco over the weekend but decided against the idea since we didn't pay the pet deposit here and the adoption agency was going to contact my landlord to verify the lease agreement. Now when I get home at 5:30 Teddy meows for a good hour like an attention-starved kid. Last night just as we were on the way out to go to Aladins for dinner Teddy followed us out to the porch and proceeded to cry loudly as we walked to the car. Being a softie, I had to go back home and make my own dinner (it was probably better anyways, I made pan-seared rack of lamb with garlic and rosemary). Hoping to keep Teddy entertained while I'm at work I have ordered two cat toys on Amazon. I can't wait to get them tomorrow!

That being said, I really don't understand how working people manage to have kids. I feel terrible just to leave my cat at home! And when I do get home I feel too guilty to even go anywhere in the evening! Teddy sleeps right on top of me all night and licks my lips and nose in the morning to wake me up. He's a little cutie.

Having kids is a luxury. Not that I would know it all but physically, at minimum it would take time, money, energy, good example and guidance. But then rats have kids too (so does Brittney), so I guess it really depend on the quality of childhood one is striving to provide. A full time job usually means about 4 hours of awaking hours with the little ones 6-10, depending on the age. That's just ridiculous. I don't think I would like to go through all the trouble of having kids only to spend less than 4 hours a day with them. And that's just with a "normal" working schedule. The boss for example has two little kids (4 and 6 I believe) and travels overseas for at least half of the calender year. I'm not trying to criticize anyone here, just not sure if I would be able to do the same. Well, no plans to have kids anytime soon, or having them at all. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out how to handle the cat guilt.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Widewaters Canal Park

Widewater Canal Park in Palmyra, NY. is the newest boat launch on the Erie Canal that we've tried, and so far our most favorite one. It is located about 40 minutes east of Pittsford going down Rt. 31. We have been spending a good chunk of time there for the last two afternoons/evenings exploring the surroundings. The boat ramp is at one end of a lake called Widewaters, little over a one mile long with some small houses and fishing huts on one side and a wooded trail on the other. It takes me about 45 minutes to get through the lake going west and get into the narrower part of the canal. The area is rather rustic with many fallen trees and branches on the edges. Lots of great blue herons live here. They seems to be annoyed and fly away while making loud duck noises when we come within 50 meters of them. Once we saw a really mean looking one walking down a tree branch in Fairport. There are also countless schools of bait fish swimming around at the eastern end of the lake going into the canal. They can be easily spotted from the rough patches of water on the otherwise calm surface. If we sneak up on them quietly we can see the little fishes swim around our boat often going in circles uniformly just like the huge bait balls seen on the Discovery channel. I've never seen anything like it. At times they all jump out of the water simultaneously making a splashing sound and leaving bubbles on the surface when they fall back down.

Knowing that there are many fishes here we brought our fishing pole along this afternoon. I rowed four miles east from the dock to Galloway's Rd bridge. The water is more stagnant here but with so many bait fish around it almost looks like the surface is boiling especially under the bright sunlight. I started to cast my lure into the rough patches and within minutes I got a big one on the hook. A bit unsure, I passed the pole to Rob hoping he would wheel it in. As I reached for the camera the big fish gave a good jolt just as it came close to the surface and broke the line. We probably had a 8-lb bass on the line and almost a delicious fish dinner. Too bad he took everything and now he's got a lip piercing with a minnow attached to it. I paid good money for that cute hand-painted French-made minnow! :(
The sun was setting quickly and we were loosing daylight. It was dark by the time we finally got back to the dock. The mosquitoes were out and so were the bats. I trust that they would not fly into us with their advanced radar system but still, at times they speed by just a bit too close for my comfort. Luckily by now we've gotten more experienced with launching and loading the boat, doing it in the dark wasn't too bad. Although no fish dinner were caught I really enjoyed being out on the water and getting some upper body exercise. Definitely a spot we will be coming back soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I know I've been slacking on photos and reviews on food for been such a food addict. No worries, my enthusiasm has not faded and there has not been lack of new dinning experiences even though the world wide traveling have slowed in recent months. Tonight we celebrated Rob's first week at his new job with dinner at Tastings, a Wegman's owned and operated restaurant adjacent to Pittsford Plaza. The decor was tasteful, presentation excellent, food delicious, and service impeccable. I would definitely recommend the halibut as it was one of the best I've ever had. This was my first time dinning at Tastings and it really exceeded my expectations.

Recently I also had a wonderful meal at Los Amigos in Penfield. I had been there years ago but the last meal was possibly the best Mexican I've had in a long time, yes better than Salina's and Mex. The food was simple and fresh. The Fajita al Diablo was so spicy even I had to ask for a second glass of water.

On the other had, a trip to Garlic Pit on Empire Blvd. was more like Garlic Hell. The place was a bit busy during dinner hour so the waitress was very rushed with us. When I asked if I could substitute a different pasta for my side I never got a reply. Instead my food came 45 minutes later with the side I asked about and when the bill came they had charged my $4 extra. Now I don't mind paying for my side but the waitress never verified my order with me nor did she ever mention about the extra charge ahead of time. Besides, $4 is just way to excessive for a pasta side that was already included with the meal. A full size pasta dish at the place was only $7-8! In return, the waitress got was she served. I left with no tip or discussing the problem, instead I wrote on the receipt, take the tip out of the side. Oh, yeah, and the food was not worth the waiting. That's one place I will not go back ever again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

War on Fleas

Ever since I discovered fleas on Teddy I've been seeking different ways to terminate the little bugs. First we tried the flea bath which I thought had got rid of most of the fleas on the cat. Then on goes the flea collar. Neither one of us got any flea bites and none were seen on our furniture so we were not too worried. I got a flea comb and work on Teddy almost everyday. Just before we left for Indiana Teddy got his first treatment of Frontline Plus and it seemed that we had successfully combated the war on fleas. Mission accomplished!

Damn was I wrong. The bugs had been multiplying during our absents and eagerly awaited for us to come home. As soon as I stepped in the bloodthirsty fleas jumped all over my ankles and ate me alive! Worse of all I'm allergic to the bites so they swallow up and get blistery looking. I must have like 30 bites on each leg! For the last two days I've been too itchy to even sleep at night!

The immediate thought was to flea bomb the place but we would have to evacuate for a good 24 hours with the cat for it to be fully effective. And then upon returning there would be at least a good half day of cleaning up. We would also have to move furniture off the carpet, covering up some stuff, seal windows and clean all the dishes and bedding so we don't inject any harmful chemicals. If that sounds like a huge hassle you're right!

In order to avoid the hassle of flea bomb I've been using flea killing carpet spray, vacuuming twice a day and doing huge piles of laundry. Teddy is also helping by gathering up fleas and killing them with Frontline Plus. Although things seems to be getting better I have a feeling the war on fleas will be very much a long term project as the larvae can hibernate quite sometime before hatching and there are many places for them to hide.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Fish

Soon after we got the boat I picked up fishing as my new hobby. It was nothing serious but casting and playing with the pole made the ride even more fun. This evening I caught my first fish in the canal just a bit down from the Ayrault launch in Fairport. It was a cute little Pumpkin seed fish slightly better than my hand. I guess it was a good size for a Pumpkin Seed fish and I thought it was super cute with little eyes. The first one was hooked on the lip and we freed it back in the water. Within 3 minutes another one got on the hook but it wasn't so lucky. The little fish had swallowed the whole bait and got the hook stuck way in. I was quite upset on the way back that we killed a cute Pumpkin Seed fish. Of course, Rob kept saying the fish was doing fine, but I tucked away the pole and decided that was enough fishing for me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trail of Tears

There is fine balance between visiting my parents and my mental health. While it's part of my duty as a daughter to spend quality time with them in Indiana the constant nagging and disapproval for everything I do just drives me off the walls. Over the years I've learn to dispose as little information as possible, not to talk back and simply nod my head to all mom's demands and criticisms. It doesn't mean that I agree with her or follow up with them. There's just no simple solution. I've tried to explain to her my point of view but there's no changing her mind. This last visit for example I tried to make it as positive and pleasant as possible yet she despised everything. My car is not safe, my hair is too short, my eyes are too small, my nose is too flat and my cloth is frumpy. I don't have a real job and I don't make any money. I need to get plastic surgery and go back to school to get an advanced degree. Maybe I would have a better chance at a job if I looked better. But of course, I should have listened to her long time ago and went the med school route. Now I'm getting older I need to settle down find a good husband and give her two grandkids. Gees, the complaints are endless and they repeat like a broken record through every conversation phone or visit. And they wonder why I dread the weekly phone calls.

For her information, not that she would read this, I have great fashion sense and the only jobs I've never had problem getting were solely based on looks alone. My jeans fits just fine and my ass looks even finer. I love my short haircut and so do everyone else! I'm happy and excited about my new job and I will go back to school for an advanced degree at my own will when the time is appropriate. And as for marriage and kids, she's only swaying me in the other way. I'm not in a hurry for either.

However, the visit is only half of the suffering, when it's over the other half catches up on the way back. Kids, no matter how headstrong they are, will always want to seek their parents' approval. In my case that seem more impossible than winning the lottery. What exactly is so bad about me??? The 600 miles drive back feels more like the Trail of Tears. I get to reflect on everything that was said over the weekend and feel like a total failure.

And so what if today is my birthday? There is no break from the usual speech from Mom who pleads in desperation about how my job is not worth a dime and I need to better myself by going back to school as if the 178K price tag on an UR degree wasn't enough for my student loan. Luckily my loan is only a tiny fraction of the cost still it was absolutely not worth it.

We went to Pare on Monroe for dinner. The mixed grill for two was excellent with shrimp, scallop, lobster, steak, lamb kabob, sweet potato and asparagus. I spent the rest of the evening watching America's Got Talent and cried myself to sleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somebody call AAA

We got the car loaded to start the drive back to Rochester and I locked the keys in the trunk! No big deal right? I got trunk release...well, that's locked too. What about the backseat, locked also. Hmmm...I'm sure AAA would be able to get to it, NOT! What about a locksmith? NO! I guess when the Germans made this convertible they really made the trunk impenetrable in case anything valuable is stored there. The only way to get in without taking the car completely apart is with the car key. The two options are either to find someone to overnight the spare key from home or wait until the dealer opens tomorrow and have a new key made. In our case we need to get back to Rochester so Rob can start his new job on Tuesday.

So off we went with my parents mini van! And I'll be stuck with it until we visit them again on Thanksgiving. I tried to insist on switching the cars this week before I start my new job but mom won't let me drive the 9 hours alone. I'm 26 and have driven around the country a couple times now damn it. No point to argue with her, she'll never change her mindset.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hired and Hired

One month after interviewing with the president of the International Division at Pictometry I was finally offered a full time position there earlier today. Rob was offered a Project Manager position with Corsair yesterday in Canandaigua. So we are Hired and Hired!

Here are the words from Robert Carroll: "Liren, based on our discussions, I believe you will make a great addition to the International Department and will become an asset to Pictometry. I look forward to working with you in this new capacity. I am confident that you will make an immediate and substantial impact."

Later in the morning my parents and I went fishing at Morse Reservoir with their homemade cereal bait mixed with catchup. Eventually we got a cat fish. :) I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have a gigantic headache.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Driving to Indiana

Teddy's First Road Trip! He napped the whole time, yes, he found a spot on the floor and passed out like that!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009