About timothy

I like long walks on the beach and also playing with cats.

Fatherhood Thus Far

So it is the end of the year- literally I am writing this on New Year’s Eve night. Lucas is about seven weeks old. It below freezing outside (about 24F to be exact) and I am having a nice relaxing evening staying in. We were invited to a friend’s New Year’s Celebration that I wanted to go to- but for Lucas’s sake we decided to stay in and have a bit of a quiet New Year’s Celebration. I decided to buy a nice Belgian Triple Ale and just relax. We fired up the fireplace tonight (Samantha our dog loved it) and just kind of shot the breeze. Now that I have a breath of free time I wanted to take a moment to write about some of my thoughts about fatherhood thus far.

So fatherhood- where do I start? I write this half expecting Lucas to read it when he understands it and half just out of pure boredom. In short- fatherhood is definitely experience, but it doesn’t change who you are as a core person. Sure there is the sudden huge influx of responsibilities that are associated with supported an infant child, but I would like to think that I am the same person now that I was two months ago. I still have the core values that I did and I still would like to consider myself a nice person.

Below are a list of “tidbits” that I have thought about enough to write about regarding my first month and a half of parenthood.

Parental Sacrifices

I’m lucky. My wife Asumi is awesome. If there is a happy hour planned at work or an hour or so that I want to go to the gym Asumi has been more the receptive to take care of Lucas for an hour while I go out. Likewise, when she wants to go out to lunch with friends or to yoga I try to be as accommodating as possible to help keep her sanity.

That being said- there are definitely scheduling sacrifices that you have to settle for when you are a parent. I have turned down more than one happy hour or outing with coworkers in the name of familiar responsibility. Today (New Year’s Eve) is a prime example of this as I turned down going to a coworkers party. The first sacrifice that I remember is skipping a 5K run that I signed up for to go to Luke’s first pediatric visit.

The one exception that I want to make is working out/going to the gym. Physical health is paramount. If you are unhealthy you cannot work as efficiently and thus cannot provide. Even if it is for just an hour I think it is direly important that new parents don’t fall into the “get fat” stereotype and actually stay fit.

Zippers instead of Buttons

This is meant more of advice to future parents- but when you buy clothes I would strongly recommend that you buy the “zipper up” onesies instead of the button ups. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to figure out the puzzle of buttons when Lucas is kicking/screaming at the top of his lungs post diaper change.

Crying Baby

Lucas cries. Babies cry in general. I categorize the reasons for crying into the following four categories:

  1. I’m Hungry
  2. I need a diaper change
  3. I want attention
  4. ????

Reasons 1-3 are pretty easy to address. Number four is the hard one and obviously the most frustrating. Lucas was a hard number four today for a few hours. When babies are a number four there really isn’t too much you can do and parents get so much stress. Do I let the baby cry it out? Do I try to comfort him? Do I try to force feeding him? It’s frustrating and I really do not have a clear answer. My best success is to try to rock him in my arms or but him on my knees and bounce him up and down.

Lucas’s Favorite Videos

YouTube is awesome. They have so many videos for babies/kids. Every day I play at least a few videos for Lucas. These usually range from tradition nursery rhymes to the latest concatenation dreamt up by Sesame Street.

This was probably the first song I sang to Lucas. Catchy and long enough where I can eat up enough of his attention

This was the first one where I think I saw him smile. He likes the “Here a moo there a moo everywhere a moo moo” part.

With this song I always do the gestures with Lucas while he sits on my stomach. He seems to really like the final “jump” part.

I also do the gestures on this one. He seems to like it.

I’m going to try to do more of these posts when I get an ounce of free time as I legitimately enjoy them and think they are a great way to express what I am thinking in my mind. Hopefully I want be completely balls to the wall busy with fatherhood and professional life to come on here and share my experiences.

 

Birth of Lucas

So it’s official- I am now a father. Baby Lucas came into this world on Saturday November 11th, 2017 at 8:13am. He weighed a healthy 7lbs 13oz and is still going strong a good eight days after birth. His due date was November 7th so he was four days late. We had an appointment to induce labor on November 13th, however it seems that he had plans of his own and decided to come out on 11/11.

On Friday night (the 10th) Asumi went to bed around 8pm and I did my normal “stay up and mess around on the computer” until about 10pm when I decided it was time to go to sleep. When I went into the bedroom Asumi was awake and told me she was experiencing contractions. We got out the cell phone and started timing them. The rule of thumb that we had learned from the childbirth classes was the “511” rule- that is wait until the contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for one minute each, for at least an hour before going to the ER.

After about 45 minutes we decided to make a game time call and go to the ER. Our logic was that worst case scenario we would just be sent back home, but it was always good to lean on the side of caution. Anyways at this point it was about 11pm on Friday and we drove to the ER at Richardson Methodist Health Center. The ER experience was pretty boilerplate- I dropped Asumi and her mother off, parked the car, and then ran inside to check-in. I remember at the ER I had to fill out a form and wrote down something like “I think my wife is in labor”. The ER nurse initially thought I was the one that needed care, but quickly laughed it off.

After about five minutes of waiting in the ER waiting room a nurse came out with a wheelchair and escorted us back into our ER room. Asumi was hooked up with a big sensor around her belly to monitor the baby and had an IV put in her (she hates needles). The OBGYN on-call doctor came in and measured her dilation to be 1cm (supposedly you need to be 8cm before being considered to be in full labor).

Since the contractions were so debilitating (and matched the 511 rule), after about an hour they decided to check us into Labor in Delivery. A nurse came with a wheel chair and and escorted us up to the labor and delivery floor on the fourth floor to our private room.

Bathroom in delivery room (complete with shower)

Delivery room bed

Baby heater

If you plan on having a baby at Methodist Richardson (which I highly recommend) the maternity floor (the fourth floor) is setup into two different partitions: one for delivery and one for postpartum care. The two areas are separated off by a waiting room with elevator access. Supposedly when the baby is born an RFID sensor is placed on his cord. If the baby tries to leave the hospital before he is allowed, the hospital will go on lockdown. After we were in our room in the delivery section we made it very clear that we wanted an epidural ASAP to alleviate the pain Asumi was having.

Within about ten minutes the anesthesiologist came in with the epidural kit. At this point Asumi’s mom had to leave (they only allow one visitor in the room for the epidural) and the doctor proceeded to insert the epidural catheter into Asumi’s back. From what it looked like the numbing shot was the most painful part. I stood in front of Asumi while they did it and she dug her nails into my hand to the point where it broke my skin. They had to try two different entry points before they got a clean line into the spine and were able to administer the medicine.

With the epidural in place the pain went down exponentially and they inserted a Foley catheter in order to help induce the labor and increase dilation. After we were settled in, I dropped her mom back off at our house and went back to spend the night at the hospital with Asumi. The one distinct thing that I remember about that night was that the lady in the room next to us clearly opted out of the epidural. We went to sleep with the excruciating loud screams of labor pains from the room next to us. Supposedly (according to the nurses) this was louder than normal and assured us that since we got the epidural the chances of Asumi having such extreme pain were relatively low. Still, I am sure that the lady freaked out anyone spending the night in the labor section that night.

When morning came around they checked dilation again only to find that it remained at 1cm. It was nothing extremely serious, but they also noted that his heart rate was somewhat fluctuating from high to low. For these reasons they decided the easiest and safest course of action was to have a Cesarean section. From here things happened very quickly- within about thirty minutes they carted off Asumi to the operating room. For C-sections, the spouse is also allowed to join the mother-to-be in the OR. After putting on the OR scrubs/bunny suit I accompanied Asumi to just outside the entrance to surgery.

Before going into the OR

I had to wait alone for about ten minutes while they prepped the surgery room and made sure everything was good to go. During these ten minutes I was coming up with conversation topics in my head to talk with Asumi during the procedure to distract her from the fact that there was major surgery happening.

Met waiting outside while they prep the OR

In the OR there was a big curtain that separated Asumi’s face/head and the more “gory” part of the surgery. I sat down in the chair next to her and we talked about everything that we could to distract away from the surgery. We talked about which Disney Land Lucas would go to first, when our next trip to Hawaii would be, and all of our travel experiences in the past. After about five minutes- at 8:13am on Saturday November 11th, we heard Lucas’s first gasp of air and crying screams that marked his entrance into this world.

Immediately they rushed him over to the heater and started to wipe him off and clean him up. I walked over to the heater (which was located opposite the operating table) to take pictures and say hello to Lucas. He was hooked up to a pulse oximeter and the doctors started listening to his hear to make sure everything was OK. He had a ton of hair when he came out (which is consistent with the rumor that the more heart burn the mom has during pregnancy, the more hair the baby has).

Initially his pulse was very high (close to 200) and his oxygen was a bit low (close to 86), but after about 10 minutes he stabilized. He was screaming a lot (which is normal given the trauma he just went through) but otherwise seemed very healthy. I remember turning around to tell Asumi something and accidentally catching a glimpse of the “other side” of the curtain while it was mid-procedure. I looked away as soon as possible, but it was definitely a sobering experience to see mid-procedure abdominal surgery. Gives me a renewed admiration for surgeons.

After Lucas was stabilized they wrapped him up and I took him over to Asumi’s head so that she could say hello to our new son. After a couple of minutes, I left the OR with Lucas and a nurse to go back to our delivery room. After a normal birth the baby is supposed to do skin-to-skin contact to “bond” with the parent and alleviate some of the shock of childbirth. Since Asumi was in the OR being patched up, it was suggested that Lucas go skin-to-skin with me (so called “kangaroo care”).

Fresh new baby

After about five minutes, Asumi came back in the room and I brought Lucas up to be with mom. We spent the next hour or so in the delivery room before we were carted across the hall to the post-partum care area. The private room here was a bit smaller than the delivery room, but still nice none-the-less.

Swaddled baby

The next few days were a bit of a blur. There are so many different doctors/nurses coming in at all hours of day/night to check up on both Lucas and Mom. After the surgery was over, they said that they found out that there was a “20% abruption” on the placenta and that it was a good call we did a C-section when we did. Recovery from the surgery (for mom) definitely looked hard- for the first couple of nights she was completely bed-ridden.

Methodist Richardson does not actually have a nursery (besides the NICU) and the baby sleeps in room with mom/dad. For the first couple of nights (since Asumi could not get out of bed) I woke up every two hours to change Lucas’s diaper and help him over to Asumi to nurse. I also had to swaddle him. Swaddling a baby (tightly) is harder than it looks. It seems that whenever I thought I did a good job, his hands would pop out of the swaddle within seconds. The nurses made it look really easy, but it definitely too me a few times each time to get it done correctly.

The doctors/nurses gave Asumi pretty powerful painkillers (everything from Tylenol with Codeine to Hydrocodone), however it was still a painful recovery. After about two days Asumi was able to walk (albeit slowly) to the bathroom.

On one of the check ups the day after delivery the doctor noticed that Lucas’s heartbeat sounded stronger on the right side of the chest. To rule out anything serious, they did a chest x-ray of Lucas and found that he had a pneumothorax that was causing the heartbeat to sound muffled on the left side (this also explained why it took so long for his oxygen to get to 100% right after birth). They said it did not look extremely serious and it would likely go away on its own. Because of this, however, they did come into the room every four hours to check his pulse/oxygen level. After a couple of days they redid the chest x-ray and found that everything had resolved itself.

Weight loss was another concern with Lucas. Right at birth he was 7lbs 13 oz. A day after birth (they check right around midnight) he had gone down to 7lbs 3oz. The day after he was 7lbs 1oz and at discharge he was 7lbs flat. Supposedly it is normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their body weight (and even more for a c-section), but since Lucas was breast feeding so well and eating a lot the hospital pediatrician did not seem to think it was an issue. Two days later when we went to the pediatrician for the first time (Dr. Daniel) we found that he was 7lbs 3oz.

There were a handful of other people that came into the room following the birth. The doctor came and took Lucas off to do a circumcision, someone came to test his hearing, and a photographer (from Mom365) came. Someone came in to take care of the application for the birth certificate as well as someone to give Lucas his HepB vaccine. Someone also came in to test his blood sugar to make sure everything was OK there since I had mentioned he looked a bit jittery.  A couple of religious people came in as well to offer prayers (which we politely declined).

The photographer caught Lucas at a bit of a bad time as it was right before a feeding, however they managed to get a couple of good pictures. As expected they price gouged for the pictures ($180 for eight digital copies). I’d recommend not using Mom365 and instead just going  to a cheaper and more reasonable photographer after discharge.

Overpriced professional picture

We stayed at the hospital for a total of three nights (including the ER trip). My Blue Cross Blue Shield TX plan from Texas Instruments would have covered “96 hours after c-section birth”, however after three days Asumi was feeling well enough to get back home. Surprisingly even after the hospital stay and surgery  we did not hit our out-of-pocket limit for the insurance. We had already hit our deductible, but did not reach the cap on our insurance plan. Since we hit our deductible- I made sure that I scheduled various medical appointments for myself (such as removing moles).

Bill for delivery as seen on insurance.

Food at Richardson Methodist- no complaints . Three times a day Asumi could call room service. The food was pretty good and there was also a cafeteria on the second floor of the building that had Starbucks coffee. They gave guests two free meal vouchers (which I used quickly) and would charge $7 a meal (for guests, not patient) after that. Highlights were the pizza, the french toast, and the turkey flatbread. Lowlights were the pasta, the burgers, and the carne verde. Everything was edible though and there was nothing terrible. There was also a “nourishment”  station with free tea/water/coffee for all and free pudding/soft drinks for patients.

The staff/doctors/nurses at Richardson Methodist are top notch. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and I’d highly recommend going there for delivery. Asumi had a lactation consultant to give her some pointers for breast feeding and the nurses made sure that we were completely comfortable and that all of our needs were handled.

Discharge day was pretty uneventful. The nurse came in with all of the paperwork and explained to us everything that we needed to do the following few days. We already had our pediatrician visit scheduled. They gave us a nice gift bag with a very nice Velcro swaddle. After strapping Lucas into our car seat the nurse escorted us down to the front of the hospital where I drove around. If you could dog Richardson Methodist on anything- it’s the fact that their valet management is completely clueless. The valet had parked cars all in the front of the hospital making it impossible for me to pull up right next to Asumi. I would expect the ability to pick up patients would trump the need for parking. Putting Lucas into the car was pretty easy- we had gone through the NHTSA a month or so earlier to make sure everything was installed correctly.

Lucas strapped in

Lucas has been at home now for about five days and things are going pretty well. He does everything that a newborn normally does- eat, poop, and sleep. Asumi is doing better with her recovery (although it is still hard). Our pediatrician visit with Dr. Daniel went pretty well and Lucas seems to be very healthy. The weather in Richardson was great on Saturday so I actually took him out for 10 minutes in the stroller.

Stroller time!

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about fatherhood and life in general. Definitely looking forward to the challenge of being a parent and am excited for the good memories to be made!

Sleepy baby

New House

So we bought a house. More specifically-  we put down a deposit to build a house. It was a little bit of a fast experience. Comparatively we probably bought the house quite quickly compared to some people. We have a baby coming in November so we wanted to get the house squared away well before so there would be no stress when baby Lucas comes into this world. I thought I’d go over some of the experiences we had looking for houses and the criteria if why we pass/bought.

Preowned Houses

We didn’t really look at preowned homes too much. The ones we did look at were open houses that were publicly advertised. DFW area is a pretty hot real estate market- so I got the impression that the houses that got to the “open house” stage were either grossly overpriced or had something emphatically wrong with them. I understand that you might have painted the house the way that you liked it when you were living there, but if you plan to sell it I’d suggest a more neutral paint tint than “maharajah purple”.

Ingram Terrace (David Weekly)

These were by far one of the best customer experiences we had when looking at new houses. The sales rep was super helpful and actually made a legitimate effort to show us around the houses.  The houses were beautiful and the location was ideal (Plano ISD). The main problem? The back yard was at max about two feet away from the neighbor. Same with the side yard. I swear I could’ve knocked on my neighbors’ windows from my own window. If they had made two less houses and given people an actual yard we probably would’ve gone here.  Land is a premium though and I guess a nice yard is not a big careabout for a lot of people.

Hudson Heights (Village Builders)

We were too late here- there were only a few available houses. The guy seemed a bit apathetic and uncaring. I guess he realized that the community was all but sold out and that he did not have a huge chance for a commission.

University Place (Ashton Woods)

Super nice houses, but again no yard. We actually had to hike up to McKinney to see a model house as University Place was still in Phase I. The “garden” homes were a bit cozy and at the top end of our budget. The model homes were gorgeous, but we got the impression that they probably had at least $60k worth of upgrades in them. On top of that the houses had literally (I say that knowing what literally means) a two foot by two foot patch of grass in the back that was supposed to be the “yard”. This is Texas- not Tokyo. I expect a yard.

Malibu Heights (Megatel)

Houses were beautiful but they were at the top of our budget. On top of that the sales lady was a bit discontent. She seemed to not really care and didn’t really make much of an effort to try to help us.

Creekside Estates (KHOV)

We ended up buying here. The sales rep was super helpful, the homes were modest yet luxurious, and we actually got a yard. On top of that there was a corner lot available- so our yard is actually going to be a good yard that Lucas can play in. Is it Plano ISD? No- but from what I hear Plano ISD is super competitive. You want your kid to actually experience the fun and joy of being a kid without having to endure the monumental stress of trying to place in the top 10% to get into a name brand college. Wylie ISD is ranked highly and besides- when he gets to high school who knows if I even will still be living there.

Catch Up – A Long Time Coming

So as I said in my last post it has been a long time since I last posted. A lot has happened. When I last posted I was a bachelor, still living in Shanghai, and writing about the business trips I took to various parts of Asia. Since then I have moved back to USA, got married (with someone that I met in Shanghai), and am expecting a baby boy in November. Life certainly does come at you fast and it seems like just yesterday that I was on a plane ride for my first trip to work at Asahi Kasei. That was really the catalyst that set the tone for my twenties (I am now thirty). Before living in Japan a year I was a twenty year old sophomore in college with only dreams of being able to even visit overseas. Fast forward ten years I am married, have lived in both China/Japan, and have made more overseas trips than I can even remember.

Instead of writing a full blog post on everything that I have done since in the two years since my last blog post I thought I would just summarize here and write my thoughts of each one of the events.I’ll try to “reset” from here and do my best to update the blog as I go along.

Korea/China Trip – April 2016

  • About a month after I came back from living in China I went on a business trip to South Korea/China.
  • South Korea was pretty uneventful. I was visiting a customer (Samsung). I remember them having more security getting into the Samsung campus than I have seen at most airports.
  • At the Samsung campus you have to catalog every single piece of electronics that you bring in so that they can account for it on the way out.
  • I stayed at the IBIS Ambassador Suwon. It was a pretty standard business hotel with no fluff. Still it was clean and they seemed to speak relatively good English.
  • Incheon Airport was a nightmare coming in. I carry-on only for business travel and good thing I did so on this trip. The line for security was about three hours long. Luckily I had coworkers that had already been in line for three and a half hours (they came in from San Francisco, I came in from Dallas), and I could just cut in front of them.
  • Pollution in Suwon was noticeably bad.
  • Food was awesome. Had the normal kimchi, barbecue, grilled octopus, soju, etc.
  • Went to Shenzhen to visit another customer. It was Shenzhen- a boring city with not a lot to do. Stayed at the pirate ship hotel.
Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ

More Korean BBQ

More Korean BBQ

Random street in Suwon

Random street in Suwon

Me "working" at the hotel restaurant in Shenzhen. Not a strip club, this is the restaurant at the Intercontinental.

Me “working” at the hotel restaurant in Shenzhen. Not a strip club, this is the restaurant at the Intercontinental.

Wedding (in Hawaii) – June 2016

The wedding was at the Disney Aulani hotel in Oahu, Hawaii. The location was somewhat chosen as it was a good halfway point for her family (in Japan) and my family (in USA). Pictures of the wedding at:

http://wedding.timothylogan.com/

  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse came to the wedding. It cost an extra $1200 for that to happen. If I ever want to give up the life of being an engineer I should try to be the guy under the Goofy suit.
  • Even with the $1200 premium it wasn’t that expensive. The wedding was small (both my parents, her parents, her grandma, her sister, and my sister (and her boyfriend). Disney did a great job catering the event.
  • After the wedding we stayed at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki. The sense I got from this hotel was that it was really something in the 70s, but somehow has since become a little dated.
  • The wedding dinner was at Roy’s Ko Olina. Great food and good service. I remember my wife and I being the dividing line at the table of Japanese speakers (her family) and English speakers (my family)
  • American Airlines direct from Dallas was fine. The plane was ancient, but it got us there on time.
  • We actually got legally married in Richardson TX at a small ceremony in a court house. We did this so that Asumi (my wife) would be under my health insurance in case anything went sour in Hawaii
Wedding on the beach

Wedding on the beach

Me with Minnie

Me with Minnie

Us with Chip and Dale

Us with Chip and Dale

Poke!

Poke!

Near Disney Hotel in Hawaii

Near Disney Hotel in Hawaii

Tennessee Trip (July 2016)

  • Went to Tennessee to introduce my Grandma and my Uncle to my wife.
  • Stayed at the Holiday Inn in Columbia. It was adequate and a standard Holiday Inn.
  • I remember when we were at my Uncle’s house there were a ton of fireflies. Asumi said that fireflies only are in places with very clean air
  • In Nashville we stayed at the Indigo Hotel. The hotel was nice and the location was great, but the room was small. Somehow I preferred the Holiday Inn.
  • On the last morning we were walking around Nashville and say a 5K/10K that was being run. This is what first made me interested in 5K running.
  • We saw fireworks over the Nashville river. It was pretty nuts. Sheryl Crow was there live and it was on-and-off rain
  • We went to the zoo in Nashville. It was a nice walk.
Fish at the Nashville Zoo

Fish at the Nashville Zoo

Fireworks in Nashville

Fireworks in Nashville

Palo Duro Camping Trip (October 2016)

  • Went out to Palo Duro Canyon for a camping trip.
  • We tried to cook the first night. There were bugs everywhere. We had very small dinner and pretty much sprayed the entire campsite with hardcore DEET pesticide.
  • Went hiking the next day on one of the intermediate camping trails. Was a nice walk. Had the dog in a “doggy” backpack.
  • The second day we didn’t want to go through the bug camping dinner so we drove to The Big Texan in Amarillo. Had a big Texas sized steak.
  • Stopped by Texas Tech on the way back and walked around. Talked to some professors.
  • Sleeping at Palo Duro in the tent was an ordeal. The wind was strong so going to sleep was challenging with the constant violent flapping of the tent.
  • Wild packs of turkeys were constantly making the gobbling noises throughout the night.
Samantha in her backpack

Samantha in her backpack

Asumi and I at Palo Duro

Asumi and me at Palo Duro

Big Texas Steak

Big Texas Steak

Me making fire in Palo Duro

Me making fire in Palo Duro

Japan Trip (add-on to business trip) – February 2017

  • Took advantage of the business trip airfare to Asia and stayed at Japan for a few days on my way to China (see below)
  • Stayed at one of my favorites Hotel Century Southern Tower.  It has a nice view and is on the quieter Shinjuku Southern Terrace Entrance.
  • Visited the old bar that I always went to (Gina’s in Atsugi). Atsugi is so nostalgic to me. It’s nice how some places don’t change.
  • Bought a ton of stuff for my wife from Daiso in Atsugi as well as Uniqlo in Shinjuku. I had two bags that I had to lug back from Asia.
  • I went to Kappabashi (a place that sells those fake food samples that sit in front of restaurants) and bought a fake beer to keep on my desk at work.
  • Went to eat at Tsukiji at least once (and had the obligatory toro sushi)
Sushi!

Sushi!

Uniqlo in Shinjuku

Uniqlo in Shinjuku

Atsugi never changes

Atsugi never changes

Me with friends at Gina's in Atsugi

Me with friends at Gina’s in Atsugi

China Trip (return) – February 2017

  • Went to Shanghai and Shenzhen in February 2017 for work.
  • In Shanghai I stayed at the Hongta Hotel. Was nice because this is not too far from where I used to live in Shanghai.
  • I met up with a previous coworker and we all ate at one of my favorite restaurants (Ding Tai Fung in Lu Jia Zui).
  • Went to Kang Dao massage in Tangqiao (where I used to live). The masseuse did not mess around- my back was purple by the end.
  • Shenzhen was boring Shenzhen. Stayed at the pirate ship. I remember going to an awesome Sichuan food restaurant at a mall.
  • Getting out of Shenzhen was a bit hectic. Tried to get home a day early and really JUST got on the ferry from Shenzhen to Hong Kong airport. Was able to get back to Dallas for two full days before I had to ship out to Germany (see below)
Went to the Ritz Carlton bar in Shanghai

Went to the Ritz Carlton bar in Shanghai

Ding Tai Fung!

Ding Tai Fung!

Germany Trip  (Munich) #1 – February 2017

  • This was my first time in Germany (or rather my first time in mainland Europe).
  • I went from DFW->LHR->MUC (Munich). I remember being surprised that British Airways charges for any sort of drink on the plane from London to Munich.
  • In Germany I was staying at the Airport Marriott in Freising. Freising is where my company has their main office in Germany.
  • I had one day where I went into proper Munich for sightseeing. I went to Marienplatz and walked around downtown.
  • I distinctly remember in downtown Munich going to this place which had a ton of wooden picnic tables and places that were just slinging out beers for a few Euro. I had my nice morning beer at 11am.
  • I wrote post cards as a souvenir and sent them out from the Munich post office
  • The train getting from Freising to Munich was a bit confusing. I didn’t know if I had an assigned seat or what. I should’ve done more research here beforehand.
  • One night in Freising the guys at the local office took us out for a night of laser tag and drinking. It was super fun. I remember feeling in bizarro land running through the German laser tag arena while X’ gon give it to ya by DMX was blasting.
  • My go to restaurant in Freising is Weissbraeu Huber. They speak English, the food was good, and they take AMEX (my company card).
  • Went to the Weihenstephaner brewery. Oldest brewery in the world supposedly. A bit touristy, but the food was good and the beer was world class.
Beer!

Beer!

More beer!

More beer!

Downtown Freising

Downtown Freising

Downtown Munich

Downtown Munich

Morning drinking is OK if everyone else is doing it.

Morning drinking is OK if everyone else is doing it.

Israel Trip – June 2017

  • Went here for business to sync up with the team about some collaborative projects between Dallas and Israel.
  • Office is in Ra’anana, hotel was the Dan Accadia in Herzliya. This was probably one of the best hotels that I went to for business. Right on the boardwalk of the Mediterranean Sea and reminded me of Venice Boardwalk in California.
  • Getting into Israel was a bit tough. I took American Airlines from DFW to Frankfurt, and then El Al Airlines (Israeli) from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv. Security to board the El Al flight was super strict. I got screened for “extra” security. They took me to side room and made me go over every single article of clothing and completely stripped my luggage to the bone to make sure there wasn’t anything dangerous. I had to specifically tell them what I was doing and which parts I was programming. They made me check my carry-on.
  • Security actually at Tel Aviv airport was not too bad. I think the amount of business travelers going to Israel is small compared to tourists so I was pretty easy to go through.
  • Food summaries:
    • Hummus restaurant. In USA hummus is something more to snack on- not a full blown meal. This was delicious, however was super filling. I wanted to pass out afterwards.
    • Gloria’s Cafe. A restaurant owned by someone from South Africa. Went there for lunch and had a Jem’s Beer. First time drinking beer for lunch on a workday.
    • Kosher McDonald’s. I had to stop by amall to get some Laline bath souvenirs for my wife. Had McDonald’s. It was very similar to USA McDonald’s except there was no cheese on the Big Mac (this is not kosher)
    • Hotel breakfast. No bacon (there is not a lot of bacon in Israel). A lot of fruit. Wasn’t my favorite, but it was good quality.
    • Yam 7 Bar. My “go to” as it was next to the hotel, had a great view of the Mediterranean, and had cold beer. Had burgers, fish dishes, etc. Was a bit pricey but they took Amex.
  • The office was nice. They have really gourmet coffee and these huge bean bag chairs everyone uses to take a break (these were particularly nice after wanting to pass out due to hummus).
  • Had one free day. Decided to book a tour to see Mazada and The Dead Sea. Chose this over Jerusalem as I only had one day and I did not think this was enough to really see all of Jerusalem. I am also not religious so the religious aspects would’ve been lost to me.
  • Tour bus booked online through some tour company. Wanted to do a canned tour as I wasn’t too familiar with Israel and didn’t want to get lost somewhere I was not supposed to be.
  • Tour group was about 15 people and was in English. They gave you freedom to walk around.
  • Mazada was amazing. History aside, the view from atop the mountain was breathtaking. The Dead Sea looked like something out of a movie. Words cannot do it justice.
  • Dead Sea was also awesome. After changing we had to take a trailer/shuttle to the actual shoreline. The Dead Sea is disappearing so the actual shore was a mile or so from where the resort was.
  • I’m sure people say this a lot- but I can’t believe how salty The Dead Sea was. A drop of water accidentally got into my mouth and it was one of the most disgusting tastes ever.
Hotel breakfast

Hotel breakfast

Hummus. AKA cement

Hummus. AKA cement

Mazada ruins

Mazada ruins

Me at Mazada. Awesome view.

Me at Mazada. Awesome view.

Me floating in Dead Sea

Me floating in Dead Sea

Sunset in Herzliya

Sunset in Herzliya

New York City Vacation – June 2017

  • Quick two day baby moon. The last trip Asumi and I took together without a kid.
  • Found awesome airfare. Round trip from DFW to Newark was $75 per person.
  • Stayed at the Holiday Inn Times Square. Location was great, staff was friendly, and it was relatively cheap considering we were a couple of blocks from Times Square. I think it was something like $220 a night.
  • Flying into Newark wasn’t that bad. Uber was easy to get and I don’t remember it being particularly crowded.
  • We saw Aladdin on Broadway. Show was good and cast was amazing. What you would expect from Broadway.
  • Tons of kids (it was Disney). Some kids were distracting.
  • As there were a lot of kids I decided to get a double Maker’s Mark neat from the lounge bar. It came to $30. Granted it was a souvenir glass I could’ve just bought an entire bottle of Maker’s Mark at a liquor store.
  • One morning we decided to go get some bagels for breakfast. Line for the bagel place was around the store so we decided to go a diner (as New York is famous for). We went to Brooklyn Diner. As we passed by I remember thinking “the guy in the window looks a lot like Jerry Seinfeld.” Once we sat down I realized “the guy in the corner IS Jerry Seinfeld.” Did my best to eat the eggs and hash (Asumi got Eggs Benedict) with Jerry Seinfeld in my peripheral vision. Didn’t want to be “one of those people” that bothered him or even stared in star shock.
  • Went to the Modern Art Museum. It was nice, but I think a lot of it was lost on me as I am not exactly  a scholar of art.
  • Went to Chelsea Market. A lot of nice looking food there, but it was crowded. A bit touristy.
  • Walked around Central Park. Was nice, relaxing, and free. Not everything in NYC will cost you that much money.
  • Had nice Italian food the first day at Casa Nonna. Hip and relaxing place. Near the hotel.
Both of us at Times Square

Both of us at Times Square

Asumi in Central Park

Asumi in Central Park

Asumi in NYC

Asumi in NYC

Asumi at the Aladdin entrance

Asumi at the Aladdin entrance

Aladdin on Broadway!

Aladdin on Broadway!

India Trip (Bangalore) – July 2017

  • First time flying to India from USA. That trip sucks. I flew from Dallas to Dubai and then from Dubai to India. That trip really sucks and you end up a zombie by the time you actually get to India.
  • I brought power bars this time as a backup so I didn’t have to eat too much of the food
  • More of the food- I ate breakfast at the hotel, power bars for lunch, and a mix of either power bars for dinner or hotel food for dinner
  • There was an alcohol ban in Bangalore when I was there. I tried to go to TGI Fridays to get a nice frosty Kingfisher, but had to settle for a luke warm Sprite instead. It sucked.
  • I stayed at the Hyatt MG Road. I wouldn’t stay here again. They were doing construction until late at night and it wasn’t that great of a hotel to stay at. Next time I am going to opt for the Leela Palace.
  • I remember thinking how dirty the roads were and how trash was caked everywhere. Cows were hanging out wallowing in and eat garbage piles.
Garbage cows. This was not actually the worst I saw.

Garbage cows. This was not actually the worst I saw.

Germany Trip (Munich) #2 – July 2017

  • I came here directly from India and was greeted with clean streets and safe food. I made up for the beer that I missed out in India.
  • I did laundry at the hotel. Laundry at the Marriott in Freising is expensive. It came out to about 150 euro. If I had known it was going to be this much I probably would have just bought new clothes.
  • The first full day I was there we went to some sort of carnival/mini Oktoberfest in the country. Pretty much a bunch of carnival games and a huge beer tent. Had a couple of liters of beer. Beer turned into schnapps. The rest of the day was a bit hazy after the schnapps.
  • At the carnival I was introduced to Wurstsalat. My new favorite German food.
  • Ate at all of the restaurants from my first trip to Germany. Didn’t make it into Munich proper this time.
  • It was Biergarten season this time around. First Biergarten we went to was Plantage in a forest area. It was nice, but I remember constantly having to dodge bees. Food was “Biergarten” food which included the jumbo pretzels and the “currywurst” (a sort of curry and sausage combined).
  • Second biergarten was a place by the lake that we went on the last day. Very local place and super chill atmosphere. Seemed like more of a family place where the locals go to wind down after work. Weather was perfect.
  • Coming back to USA I went through Chicago, and then onto Dallas. My flight from Munich to Chicago was delayed so I had to sprint through the airport in Chicago to make the Dallas flight. Thank god for carry ons and Global Entry.
Schnapps!

Schnapps!

Festival in downtown Freising

Festival in downtown Freising

Me at the carnival festival

Me at the carnival festival