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Virtual Learning

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I normally use google calendar for kiddos’ Zoom meetings. My older daughter who is going to be FGC dragon knows get to Zoom via Google classroom. I can train her on the google calendar too. But now I am thinking I will take Monday off for the full time support of virtual learning (I feel I need a break from work too). || A bigger question though, this kind of management tool seems like new normal to all of us. In the past I used Google Calendar for all my personal appointments and all my kids activities, this includes my girl’s basketball (time, location), and my volunteer meeting at kids school etc. || Also, a side note, I have not looked into kiddos iPad yet, but I assume everything is setup including google classroom. But I prefer kids not to watching iPad whole day. So I setup bigger monitor with laptops (MacBooks) and webcams. I will need to provide some support for my 1st grader on this…

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Got new windshield wiper, tires

Reading Time: 2 minutesLast wed. morning,  temperature was below freeze point, there were some leftover snow. When I start my car, windshield wiper blade broke. So early afternoon I bought a new set and tried to replace the wiper. Those were worn out before last wed. The problem for me is, I don’t know how to take the old set off the Camry. Even after I watched YouTube video, I still did not know. So I went back autozone and asked for help. 

This is minor compared to the tire pressure problem for my wife’s sienna minivan. She texted me this picture, I know I know it’s tire pressure warning. I went through the same exercise last winter, even pumped couple times on sienna. And I left some damage on the sensor by doing that too :-(. And this time I am paying it back. The warning went away and came back last few weeks, even after I pumped air. So I thought to make sure, using a meter to measure the pressure. And I blew this one. When trying to measure the front driver side tire, the one has some sensor demage, that thing came out, and air came out. Flat tire :-(. This is not new but not often encountered, so I follow the procedures: use jack to get the van up, trying to locate the spare tire. Since it’s hard for me to get out the jack from sienna, I used the one from Camry. It’s not as strong, and I made couple mistakes the jack fell twice. But I still could not figure out where is the spare tire, even after reading manual. So I called AAA. A technician from AAA helped me on this issue. Today I went to Costco in the afternoon and got a new sets of tires on. It cost me about $770 for 4 Michelin tires. I still need to figure out how to put the spare back to its original place. 


My lesson learned:

1) It’s fortunate that we did not got hurt with this potential tire sensor problem. 

2) It’s ok to buy certified used (sienna), but it’s not necessary to buy extended warranty, put the money in bank for repairs and maintenance instead (the squirrel problem and the new tires).

3) Use Costco tire service, they seems have the best service plan for the $15 installation fee.

4) It’s kinda ironic I majored in ME in college and grad school. And I cannot figure out windshield wiper and spare tire. 

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2015 Year In Review

Reading Time: 4 minutesIt’s new year again, and obligatory new year resolution time. I think I’m already past that practice: will try to put down iPhone and Macbook more when I’m at home though (I was referring to this comment on 2014 review: Leave the iDevices/mac if I can). I’ve eaten my own words on this one. My younger daughter is at a fun age (17.5 months), being a toddler learning to talk, I’ll play with her more, and of course continue my weekend chauffeur job for my older daughter (skating, dancing/pre-ballet etc).

Job Change
I changed my job again this year. I was not expecting it at the beginning of the year or did any planning. But it worked out so far. Again I hope I can stay at my current place longer 🙂

Personal finance
I stopped contributing to the Exxon mobile DRIP program; started put same money ($100 per month) into IBM DRIP program instead, still using ComputerShares. Was able to save some money in the emergency fund account. But still spent quite some on the following items.

Visited Disneyland;

Got a piano and ready to start piano lesson for Serenity in 2016;

Replaced AC and furnace, the new one (American Standard, same as the Trane brand) works like a charm, also bought two mattresses (one from Mattress Firm local store, another one from US-mattress online store). Long term it’s going to save some money on electricity as this one is more energy efficient.

Workout, exercise, swim
I have been doing swimming for a few years at JCC (both Chesterfield and Creve Coeur locations), as I live near the Creve Coeur location, and I worked near the Chesterfield location last few years. That has been changed as the new baby (July 2014), and new job requirement (June 2015). I have been using UP Band, Fitbit app on iPhone 5s, and in June this year I got Fitbit Charge the same time I changed job. Trying to get 10,000 steps per day per the recommendation. Still try to get some swimming as time permits.

I started walking in the trails at Laumeiers Sculpture park since last Winter: trying to breath some fresh air during lunch break at work. The new place does not have a nature trail like the Sculpture park, but it does have a one mile paved trail. It’s good enough for me. I usually walk at lunch break, when weather permits. Otherwise I would walk the stairs, as not good as outside, but it does the job. One thing I learned over the years is we need to take care of our own health while working, because at the end of the day, we need that to provide for our family, also to enjoy things (this hits home especially whenever I get sick). There is an excellent “Under the Radar” podcast on this ergonomics topic. I recall at my old work place, my coworker had surgery on the capal-tunnel (a common injury from using too much keyboard or mouse). Back pain is also common among office workers (sitting too long). The walk/stretch from time to time is a good way to prevent/reduce that.


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Back up iPhone iPad photos

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI learned the lesson the hard way. Almost a year ago, I left my former employer, and I had to turn in my iPhone 4s. Being a computer professional, I knew the backup thing, so I backed up the photos to iTunes, both via iCloud and via iTunes to PC. But I forgot one more backup, to the iPhoto on my Mac. The backups on iCloud and iTunes are good, but I can not view the individual photos from there, and eventually I got a new iPhone 5s and got the backup iPhotos to my new iPhone this way. The first thing I did after I receiving my new iPhone is to restore the photos, and backup to iPhoto on my Mac.

I did one more thing, as I learned from my Nexus 4 experience, is turn on auto back up on google+. I paid $20 extra for the additional 10gb space on iCloud (for one year), when the time of renewal comes, I plan to cancel it, as now I will do backup via iPhoto, iTunes and google+.

Personally I felt the management of all these photos on iPhone/iPad is an interesting project. With Apple TV, I did see I play videos on iDevices more, and sometimes even slide show the photo. I did this quite a few times to my young daughter, when I found that’s more fun than the Netflix TV shows 🙂

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Objective-C code hall of shame

Reading Time: < 1 minuteToday I found out I made a dumb mistake while deleting an NSMutableArray.

for(int ii=0; ii<[myNSMutableArray count]; ii++) { myNSMutableArray removeObjectAtIndex:ii]; } The reason being it will get confused about the elements (index) during the loop. The correct way is to use removeAllObjects method.

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World cup 2010 thoughts

Reading Time: 2 minutesThe soccer World Cup 2010 is already well in the process. This is also the first time An african country hosting the cup, interesting and exciting for the continent and the host South Africa. I noticed soccer’s popularity grew in the US over the years, from the 1998 word cup to this year. ESPN/ABC broadcast most games alive, and the new media, from NPR to newspapers, showed interest too. For me personally, I also have some observations:

Maradona (Lu Gu Sun, bu xu lian xiang)
I know, I know, he is a controversial figure. But I still remember he is the best player in 1986 (when I was in middle school), basically my impression is the only way to stop him, is to put him down. Despite so many up and downs after 1986, I am glad to see him back. That being said, I found this Maradona comment from Lu Gu Sun (one of the best English professors in China) and another comment form Wang Xiao Feng to be interesting.

(source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Other old timers
Less known than Maradona, I saw both Jurgen Klinsmann (the German guy, wiki) and Rudd Gullit (wiki, one of three Holland guys in 1980s to 1990s) on ESPN as commentator. I did not recognized Gullit initially because he has short hair nowadays 🙂

China presence
Did you see the China Yingli Solar (Chinese and English interchangeably) Ads bulletin at the stadium? According to marketplace, Yingli paid pretty money ($100 m) on this one, hope they can get their money worth. One thing I noticed, they could learn from and Budweiser/Harbin beer (English with Chinese ), so that people (assume they know English) could understand the company name better.

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It’s baseball time

Reading Time: < 1 minuteForget about the stupid IPOs, stocks, economy,…it’s baseball time in this baseball town.

St. Louis Cardinals is playing NLDS (National League Division Series) against LA Dodgers. Here is the local (St. Louis area) TV schedule.

Gm 1 STL @ LAD Wed 10/7 9:37 TBS Chris Carpenter v Randy Wolf
Gm 2 STL @ LAD Thu 10/8 6:07 TBS Adam Wainwright v Clayton Kershaw
Gm 3 LAD @ STL Sat 10/10 6:07 TBS Vicente Padilla v Joel Piniero
Gm 4 LAD @ STL Sun 10/11 TBD TBS TBD
Gm 5 STL @ LAD Tue 10/13 TBD TBS TBD

(Source: )

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Stocks for kids

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI remember once my Accounting instructor told his father bought him a Kansas ulility stock when he was a kid (maybe 10 years old or so). The interesting part is everyday he would read the stock section of newspaper and check the price of his stock. One reason he chose accounting as his profession. I also believe everyone remembers his/her first stock purchase clearly, for me that’s also my first employer (a large state owned manufacturer decided to go public in early 1990s). For my kid, I am think of the follow stocks for “buy and hold”. Note this is mostly for fun, not trying to making money for kid’s college fund. That being said, those companies have excellent fundamentals and will be in the business for a long time, I think.

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