Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Weekend - Heading into Monday

This is turning out to be a pretty busy Memorial Day weekend, hot and sunny. Eve and I have a way of finding places to keep cool... but around this area of Texas there are plenty of places to go... a real hidden treasure of rivers, streams and places to enjoy nature if you know where to look.

Right in the middle of town is Barton Springs... we went there today to enjoy swimming by the dam in the area where people bring their dogs and kids. There is an area you can pay to go to... but I find it boring like a swimming pool. This side is more interesting with shallow and deep areas... quiet and with a current... depending where you go and what you feel like.

Yesterday we just went to the side of the road off Farmers Road 150, there is a place that has a few storm pipes under the road... it has a fast current but is only about 6 inches deep. It's nice to sit in and just cool off. But rather than tell you about it, let me show you.

Saturday's Side of the Road Cool Down

Sunday at Barton Springs

I like doing this videos for people... it is a great way of telling them about what we do. I would like to see what you are up to as well... so don't be afraid to share!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Weekend on the Horizon

It's Friday before the Memorial weekend... usually a big deal, party time, etc.  My plan was to drive to St Louis this weekend to get some of my stuff from the storage unit... but finances being tight, unfortunately that isn't going to happen for awhile now. I got the tax results... I owe a large amount... so it may be a couple of years before I can accomplish that goal. I'm looking for ways to make extra cash... and I'm staying as positive as I can given the circumstances.

I've got three days with no real plans, and I'm hoping that something will present its-self so I'll have something interesting to do.... hopefully nothing to do with repairs, finances, or work. Perhaps we will go to San Marcos and do some swimming... more likely not... the place will be crawling with people this weekend. Usually we like to go there on a Tuesday afternoon after I have finished my work... it's not too crowded, and we usually have a good time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gung Fu

I like to expand my horizons... so while looking at some random blogs I discovered one from a tea aficionado who was very much into the Chinese art of Gungfu. Many people have heard of the Japanese tea ceremony and the many rituals involved, but not as many are familiar with the Chinese form even though it predates the Japanese version by centuries.

The Chinese version appeals to me because as an engineering type of person I like things to have a reason and function... with less emphasis being placed on just artistic appeal. The Chinese Gungfu is a series of steps which may seem overly ornate and elaborate to the casual observer, but what I like is that each step has a function.

You will see the host pour water on the tealeaves, then take that tea and pour it out over the cups for example. It seems wasteful to make tea then pour it out. But there is a reason for this... the hot water hits the leaves and starts a reaction that takes time... and the first flavors released are often bitter in taste. Pouring the tea out over the cups serves two functions, it preheats the cups for later, and it allows the aroma to fill the air which enhances the effect.

Later, when the next steeping of the tea is made, the leaves open up more and yield a more delicate flavor that the guests can enjoy. The cups are very small... and one may think that it would make more sense to serve a more generous serving... but by using a small cup, the tea is steeped several times, and each time the tea opens up more and it's flavor changes slightly. Each serving becomes a new experience and therefore more enjoyable.

At some point I may write a web page to explain the entire process... but for now I have found several very useful videos that cover this process and are very interesting if you want to experience something new.

The Basics
The Chinese make several different teas... as does the rest of our world... so they created a Giawan from a different type of clay that can be cleaned and not hold the deeper aromas of some teas. It too has a ceremony or series of steps to allow the users to really enjoy the full flavor and aroma of the teas.

Using a Giawan
So now I have learned something unique, interesting, and cultural that I can share with my friends.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Middle of May

It's the middle of May already... not much has changed around here. I'm waiting for my divorce papers and Eve is still studying for her nursing exam. I've started putting images on Photobucket to keep the family up-to-speed as to what is going on in our lives... what little adventures we have had, etc.

You can check out the images here:

I have been getting into photography as a way to deal with my stress... taking pictures and working on them in Picassa is calming for me... so I do as much as I can to keep myself occupied.

I have also been starting to put together videos for YouTube with a software package called Vegas Video that I got for work. I'm doing it because it's fun and it helps me to hone my skills so that I can make really good production and training videos for work. I figure that makes me more valuable to the company too.

Here is my video link: I have everything from family trips to robotics events on there... it's a real mix. Perhaps later I'll create another account and split up the works... perhaps not... time will tell.

Here is just one example of the videos I shot.

Well... back to work I suppose.