Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coastal Birds

Double Crested Cormorant
Got the chance to take a walk earlier by the bay. Oftentimes, because of the sweeping and scenic view of the bay and the ocean, these small critters around are missed. Unlike the seals and the sea lions who always have constant visitors in their natural habitats , these coastal birds are often simply missed, well, maybe because they choose to flock more on coastal mud flats that may not be as scenic for a lot of people. But luckily for these birds, the coastal mud flats afford them with constant and rich supply of foods that walking along this stretch, one will observe so many bird species aside of course from the more famous California Brown Pelican and very common sea gulls. 
Not All Birds That Flock Together Are of the Same Feathers
Anyway, these are some of the birds I was able to capture today in my walk at Mission Bay. I really did not wait for sunset anymore, since after a day of learning I was too tired and hungry, I wanted to just eat and sleep, and now, blog a little bit :)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Orange and Oblation

**originally published January, 2010

Friday's Blogging For Fun. Our group is doing an alphabet meme, and this week, we are doing letter O. I had been thinking since last week about letter O, and could not come up with an interesting "O", until the word Orange came to my mind,
Orange Hue @ Sunset, San Diego, CA

Then, today, my eldest brother shared to us the great news about my nephew as one of the 50 Oblation
Scholars ( out of the 70,341 examinees) of the University of the Philippines. My nephew is graduating in high school this March 2010 ( Philippines end of school year), and coincidentally, he is also one of the top 20 finalists of the Philippines Math Delegation out of the thousands representatives from different high schools in the different regions of the Philippines. When he was in elementary, he was one of the Philippine Delegates for the elementary level to the World's Math Olympiad held in Singapore. Though he did not bring Philippines a medal that time, but for us then, his representation of the Philippines to a Math Competition in an international level is already enough achievement. So, to my nephew, our big congratulations and good luck also for the coming Math Olympiad. The top 20 finalists will continue to vie for the top 4 to represent the Philippines in the coming World's Math Olympiad.

Now, back to "Orange". Here are some more of my collection of orange photos.

California Poppies, Toothrock Trail, Poway, San Diego County

Sunset, San Onofre State Beach, San Diego County

Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

And here is more about orange and oblation. :)

Orange- like yellow, is a happy color :)

Physiological Effect: Orange has proven to be a stimulus of the sexual organs. Also, it can be benefitial to the digestive system and can strengthen the immune system.

Psychological Effect: Orange has shown to have only positive affects on your emotional state. This color relieves feelings of self-pity, lack of self-worth and unwillingness to forgive. Orange opens your emotions and is a terrific antidepressant.

 Oblation -  is a term used for a solemn offering or presentation to God. University of the Philippines is the premier institution of higher learning in the Philippines, and its symbol is the "Oblation", which is a figure of a naked man with arms outstretched and face pointed upwards. The University of the Philippines symbol of "Oblation" is based on the second stanza of "Mi Ultimo Adios", written by the Philippines' national hero, Jose Rizal. Each year, they award 50 Oblation scholars, to the top 50 UPCAT qualifiers. To the 50 best entering UP freshmen, to maintain their Oblation Scholarship, they must not have a grade below 2.0 ( or no grade below 83%), no dropping of classes and no incomplete standings.The Oblation scholars enjoy such benefits as waiving all school fees, a book allowance of P2,250 pesos per semester, a P3,000 monthly stipend and a STFAP-patterned transportation allowance. Oblation scholarship is only good for 4 years.

** 3/12/14 Update: My nephew is able to maintain his Oblation Scholarship, he is now in 4th year of a double major pursuit: Metallurgical Engineering and Computer Science. Next school year, he will no longer enjoy the benefits of an Oblation scholar, for oblation scholarship is good only for 4 years, and engineering is a 5-year course. Though he has two majors, but he will be able to finish both without adding more years to his college.

The Benefits of Buying a Home

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Coldwell Banker. All opinions are 100% mine.

In an effort to encourage more home sales the government is offering $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit to homebuyers who have not owned a home in the last three years. Another offer includes homeowners who have owned a home consecutively for 5 of the past 8 years who will receive up to $6,500 in tax credit.

When Jeff and I got married, we made an agreement that instead of spending our savings for a lavish wedding, we would use our savings for a down payment on our first home. After consulting with our accountant about the first time home buyer tax credit we instantly could see this was the right decision. We did our research and found a nice home in Moreno Valley, California. It was our first home together and our first investment as husband and wife. As first time home buyers, we qualified for the first-time home buyer credit.

A lot of information is available on the website regarding 2010 Homebuyer Tax Credits for homebuyers, sellers and those who are just interested to know what’s available out there in the market. There may be no future extensions, so all qualified homebuyers are urged to act and have a written, binding contract by April 30, 2010 (close by June 30, 2010.) Income limits are now $125,000 for singles, $225,000 for married couples with a $20,000 phase-out of the credit for both.

Coldwell Banker helped us a lot when we purchased our first home. It is so complicated to wade through all of the paperwork and we found the Coldwell Banker realtor made it so simple and they had very good home selections too. So, pardon me now as I lean back in my new recliner to watch my big screen TV with surround sound, all of which I bought with my tax credit.

- by Chay -

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Best Cities to Live In

What is your best city to live in? We know there are so many great places to live, we all have our favorite places to visit, favorite cities to live in, and maybe, favorite places to retire. It all depends on one's preference. What is most important is that we enjoy and optimize the benefits of living in our chosen city.
Home Sweet Home, San Diego 

Living in San Diego, where I have been spoiled by the lovely and mild weather year round, it is actually hard for me to think of cities to live outside of the West Coast region. For those who follow my blog would probably notice that most of our vacation are during spring, fall and early summer. Why? Because during winter, it seems most of the places are colder, and during summer, it seems most of the places are warmer and humid.
Exploring La Jolla Caves at Winter

Whereas, spring, fall and early summer is a great time for vacation for us since it is neither too hot nor too cold to go anywhere. Since our idea of vacation is exploring the great outdoors from sunrise to sundown, we just do not think we can be out for this long (more than 8 hours outside) when the temperature is subzero, or in the 90s or even in the 80s if it is humid, it still is not comfortable to be out. As such, we spend our winter vacation and late of summer vacation right in our backyard, home sweet home, San Diego.
Thus, it is for this reason that I choose San Diego as one of the best cities to live in for me. San Diego has many well planned communities, that finding the right San Diego Property Management would be very helpful for those who are considering to move or get a place in this city.

Aside from San Diego, another city I can see ourselves enjoying living in, is San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

I am not really a 100% "city" type of person, I love exploring our beautiful world at the backroads. However, I must admit I am also not a 100% "country" type of person. I do not see ourselves also living full time too far from the amenities of a city due to convenience such as proximity to excellent healthcare. San Diego and San Francisco are two cities that appeal for me since they both strike a balance between nature escapes and urbanization.

They are two of the places where nature is not necessarily walled off from the civilization, and their closeness to the ocean, the mountains and the deserts are what make these two of the best cities to live in for me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tips For Flying

Flying within US? Flying to Asia? Flying to Europe? Looking for flights to Belfast? Flights to Asia Pacific? Does some of your vacation plans include flying? I must admit I am not very excited about flying. Flying is probably the last thing I would do if there is a choice. However, my desire to visit my family once a while in the Philippines is stronger than my hate relationship with flying. Also, just like with my fear of heights, my desire to explore our wonderful world also defeats my laziness to fly. I do not expect ourselves driving to Florida, or driving to Maine, or driving to Canada. Much more, I do not expect ourselves swimming the Atlantic to Europe or swimming the Pacific to Hawaii. In going to places where driving is not an option, we make plans in making our flight more tolerable. For us, it is better to spend some time making plans for flying than having a miserable flight.

Here are some of the important things I always consider when flying.

1. As much as I love to be by the window to see our world outside, but if the flight will take more than 2 hours, I must choose the aisle seat for convenience. I can't seat for long, and it is very inconvenient to bother people if I have to stand up go to the aisle to take a short walk up and down the aisle ( yes, even just inside the plane), or to stretch, or go to the bathroom. I must be free to stand and walk without bothering others. If I can not have the aisle seat, then, I must have the seats near exits because of leg room and freedom to stretch.

2. I choose my meal option. I love it when they do not ask me what I want, instead, there is a meal ready for me :) .

3. To avoid leg and neck cramps, I get up from my seat every 30 minutes, as long as I am not asleep. But then, I always find it hard to sleep in the plane. And this is the inconvenience  I face especially when I travel to the Philippines where the flight is 16 to 18 hours.

4. I think of happy memories to bring me to sleep. Or I imagine myself being in nature's wonderland.

5. We make our luggages distinguishable than others. It is a pain to get confused with so many luggages during luggage pick-up.

6. I do not want to be stressed when flying, thus our motto is, better early than rush!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beloved Partner on Road Trips

Fallen Leaves and Reflection
It was not my idea to come up with the above design. After hiking, I was pleased to see how nature wonderfully decorated our car. Before clearing the leaves, I took a remembrance of how nature gave us a pleasant surprise that time.  This car is our beloved partner when taking road trips outside of city.

Crusing on Desert's Dirt Road, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA
We love to explore our wonderful world, and a lot of the times, these hidden gems would require cruising on rough roads, unpaved roads, off road, soft sand, snow, and what else.
Crusing on Snowy Mountain Road, Mt. Laguna, San Diego County, CA
Though in the city, we prefer to ride the sedan because it consumes less gas, but the comfort provided by SUVs on rough, unpaved and off roads allow us to see more of these many hidden gems.
Navigating Through Big Redwood Tree, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, CA
However, we are not really "off road" people. We fear we have very little idea about car repair and maintenance. Our little knowledge about car maintenance would sometimes stop us to explore some places we really want to see if the driving would become so tough. We are afraid of maybe getting a flat tire if we hit some pointed rocks, among other things. It is good news for us to learn that we can quickly call for help. Let us say for example, we are exploring Dallas and would need an immediate brake job, we can call Dallas auto repair to get quick assistance. Since this car repair company is all over US, providing most common car repairs to almost car makes and models, such as Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Silverado, among others, now, we are gaining a little bit confidence to maybe visit some places we intentionally skipped before because of our fear of having car trouble on the road. Now, maybe, I can look forward to going to Race Track Playa in Death Valley National Park.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Joy Rides

Sunset @ Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego
In two months, we'll have our last free maintenance service for our sedan, after that we will be on our own. One great service we had been enjoying for almost six years now since we bought our car is the $0 maintenance cost for the first four years, and we just paid a little more to buy maintenance for two more years. However, there is no extension of service maintance anymore after the 6th year, that now, we have to be on our own.
Sunset, San Onofre State Beach
Since we intend to keep our car while it still runs efficiently and does not give us any headache, we are now on the process of finding a reliable and less expensive car servicing company. Thankfully, I have heard from a friend in Chicago who recently had the water pump of her ten year old Toyota Corolla replaced at Chicago auto repair. I am glad to know that this car repair and servicing company is all over US, and I can find them in San Diego too. It is great to know we can have this quick and reliable car help, for we intend to have many more joy rides from our car.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

L is for Light

This was supposed to be my Blogging for Fun Friday post, however, I am late again, but then, better late than never. We are doing letter L this week, I thought at first of Las Vegas for a change from my nature pursuits, however, my friend Tes also featured Las Vegas. Having done Los Angeles already before, I was at lost then of what to do for letter L. While I was browsing my pictures, I saw this picture below,

Colors of Dispersed Sun Light
and this is what inspired me to join this Friday's letter L Blogging for Fun, and my entry is Light for L.

The above picture is our ceiling. :) Have you tried looking up at your ceiling or walls when the sun light passes through your glass windows? You will see what made Newton conclude before that white light is produced from many colors. The glass prism disperses white light by refracting each color at different angle, and the separation of colors is seen. Just like with rainbows, sunlight is refracted by raindrops falling through the atmosphere, producing a display of rainbow colors.  But then, we do not always have to be outside and have both rain and sun to see this dispersion of light, we can just be inside our home too. During the morning, when the sun rises from the East, the light enters our glass window, and I would look up at our ceiling, and I would also see what Newton saw in his experiment of glass prism before explaining why white light is made up of different colors.

Colors of Dispersed White Light on Our Ceiling
Right now, as I am typing this entry, I see the same rainbow of colors above my head. I find it cool, to be waking up with the sunrise, and then, see the colors of light hitting the house after.

Anyway, here are some more light pictures:

Downtown San Diego Lights from Coronado Island

Light from the Horse Carriage, Seaport Village, Downtown San Diego

taken from Horton Plaza Mall, downtown San Diego

Light slowly leaving the slopes of the Sierras, sunset at Eastern Sierra, CA

Colors of Sky when the Sun Light Bids Goodbye, Sunset @ Old Town San Diego
Have a good weekend, everyone. The sun light is shining bright here in sunny San Diego, and as I end this post, the rainbow of colors on our ceiling now has disappeared, meaning the sun is already high enough :) and time to enjoy the beautiful world outside.

Fun On the Road

My idea of vacation somehow is being on the road off to nature's wonderland and being able to hike and see our beautiful world at the backroads.
Road Trip, I-40 near Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert, CA @ dusk
And while our legs are still strong and able to bring us up and down the mountains and canyons, I would always prefer a vacation that enjoys the wilderness than to enjoy civilization in the city. After-all, city living is almost everyday, whereas an escape to nature wonderland is not really often. Whenever there is a chance to explore our wonderful world, we always love to grab that chance and take a road trip, then, hike, hike and hike. :)

Though road trip is fun, where I usually take a lot of pictures on the road while my husband is driving :) , but then, it can be boring too when there is nothing to see anymore.
Family Fun, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
My Husband Taking Picture of My Cousin and I take picture of them :)
Sometimes, some members of family join us, like cousins, nieces, or my husband's brothers and sisters. It is a lot of fun with family too, since we do not live together and live far from each other, and during road trip, we were together for several days and enjoy not only nature but also the gift of family togetherness. And this is where some group games to liven up the boring times on the road comes in. One example of having family fun on the road is playing the Road Trip Bingo.

Road Trip Bingo Card
Road trip bingo is similar to Eye Spy. Everyone playing gets a bingo card with various items people often see along the road. Just like with any bingo games, when you find an item on the card, you place a sticker on it. The first person to get Bingo-horizontal, vertical, or across- wins! Since this game takes up time, it makes traveling feel shorter, the family having more fun, and getting to the destination seems to be sooner. :)

Can't wait to be on the road again, seeing places, and enjoying our beautiful world.....
Waiting for Surise @ Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra, CA
yes, at the backroads.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year Day's Gifts To Simple Joys in Simple Life

Walking @ the Tidepool Area, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego
New Year's Day, the first year of the decade of the teens. After waking up, I looked outside from our bedroom window for signs of beautiful day. I saw the very intense color of the sky which promises for a very good sunrise. I got up and took my camera, but then, as I stepped outside, I saw the pink sky looking West. Pink, being my favorite color, always draw me. I decided to walk towards the front of the house ( which is looking West) instead of walking to the back ( which is looking East for the sunrise that woke me up).

Moon Over Pink Sky
I thought of changing my lens to a zoom one so I can zoom the moon, however, after I stepped inside and changed my lens, the pink sky was gone and the moon was in a very pale color. I then remembered the sunrise at the back, but when I went to check it out, the sun was already high! How quick the changes in the sky happened. Determined to find good things for the first day of the year, I checked for low tide conditions. It said: -1.6 ft at 3:53 pm! This was what I wanted, negative low tide! It is time for tide pools! Though San Diego has a lot of sandy beaches, but it also has a lot of rocky shores which are ideal for tide pool. Whenever we go tide pooling in San Diego, I always think of Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, CA ( 3:30 pm )
The picture above was taken at 3:30 pm yesterday. During high tide, from this same angle, it is hard to take a picture with the rocks below. Looking down, and looking up, there were two things that made me excited: 1. the low tide. 2. the clouds, which means the sunset will be special, New Year's Day special.
What is special with the tide pools at low tide? At low tide, people can view the ocean's intertidal zone ecosystem up close.

Man's Shoes Almost on Star Fish
Exploring the tide pools at low tide is called tide pooling. Many plants and creature live in the tidepool area. Tide pools are a unique yet brutal habitat in the rocky shores where the ocean meets the land. It is interesting to observe the life species at this area when the tide is low. Take a look at the picture above for example, I took that since a man knelt down to have a better angle of the creature he wanted to take picture of. Unknowingly, his shoes almost kicked the starfish, but of course, he did not and the starfish was safe :) . One thing for sure, I know he must be wet after kneeling down on wet sea weeds with some trapped sea water in the pool.

Red Crab
Maybe the man in the above picture had a very good picture of the red crab above that I was also taking a picture of before him, but I did not kneel since I did not want to get wet. That crab was huge, perhaps the largest I ever saw even compared to the big crabs I saw in the sea food market. 
Here are some more tide pool pictures from yesterday:

California lobster
(we saw this lobster brought by the pounding wave, we helped him go back to the water )

 Star Fish

Another Star Fish

I'll let you guess what this is, clue: I only capture its arms
Though it was still fun tide pooling, and though I have not reached the cave yet, but the it was getting darker and the tide pool area closes at 4:30 pm, so we had to head back to the parking lot. As we hiked up the cliffs, the setting sun was changing the colors of the sky everywhere!

Setting Sun, New Year's Day 2010 ( 4: 43 pm )

Looking Back to the Tide Pool Area Below ( 4: 56 pm )
( you can compare the colors with the 3rd picture above when we arrived at the park )

Looking Back to the Tide Pool Area Below ( 5: 03 pm )

Yuccas Showered by Clouds ( 4:43 pm)

Yuccas at Sunset ( 4:47 pm )

Badlands and Yuccas ( 4:57 pm)

Looking Down at The Tide Pool Area ( 5: 02 pm )

The Ocean After Sun Set ( 5:00 pm )

The Ocean After Sun Set ( 5:06 pm )
Did we do anything special to witness this beauty? We just simply took the moment to enjoy the simple things in life such as exploring the tide pools and stopping for sunset. As the decade moves on, I hope to be able to continue to enjoy the simple things in life. Life is like a wonderful and meaningful hike, there are lots of ups and downs, trail crossings, switchbacks, and beautiful scenic turns which we see only when we learn to slow down.
Hope everyone had a great start of the New Year!! My holiday vacation is over ( back to reality now for me on Monday ), though I may be seen less in blogging world again, but it does not mean I have stopped from enjoying the simple beauty around us.