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目前分類:生活日記 (35)

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A Reality Check

 

My husband told me the other day about a feature in Wii Sports under Wii Fitness, which tests one’s fitness age.  What it does is to calculate the fitness age of a person via assessing one’s performance on agility, dexterity and stamina in three randomly chosen sports.  The fitness age ranges from 20 to 80 years old.  You could be tested in tennis for “Returning Balls”, “Target Practice” and “Timing Your Swing”, in baseball for “Batting Practice”, “Swing Control” and “Hitting Home Runs”,  in golf for “Putting”, “Target Practice” and “Hitting the Green”, in bowling for “Spin Control”, “Power Throws” and “Picking Up Spares”, and in boxing for “Dodging”, “Throwing Punches” and “Working the Bag”.

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My Wii Experience

 

I probably won’t buy any Wii if not for the Wii Games: Summer 2010 event which we accidentally ran into at the Mall.  As a disclaimer, I don’t work for Nintendo nor am I a spokeswoman for its product.  If you read my article “an interesting event”, you would know that I had a blast playing Wii, not for the games but for the dance and the sports.  Actually, they function somewhat like games.  I think that the scores actually motivate you to work out more and the competition with others pushes you to take that one extra step and work out harder.  In addition, if you do not have time to run to the gym, you can still work out at home.  I believe that I was sold the moment I tried “Just Dance”.  My daughter and I had copious amounts of fun dancing together.

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We went to Ridgedale Shopping Center today for lunch and to buy boxers for our son.  The boxers were sold out and I ended up buying more Hello Kitty clothes for my daughter.  After that, we were thinking of hitting the mall’s playground if our kids behaved.  Instead, we ran into a Wii Games: Summer 2010 event.  It was pretty interesting.

 

There were free plays and competitions.  A lot of people lined up for the free plays so I registered my son and I in group competition as well to get more chances to play.  There were a lot of game terminals where you could play from Wii Fit Plus, Wii Sports Resort, Just Dance, Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario Kart Wii, to Super Mario Galaxy 2.  You can get a coin sticker after each play. The prizes were as follows:

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I have read somewhere in a news report that Minnesota has an average of 41 tornados in a year, mostly between June and August.  Seeing damages from the Tornado that swept through the Midwest this past weekend, I felt that I should be more alert in weather conditions in the future. 

 

 

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Spring is definitely here.  Everyday seems a gorgeous day to me with temperature ranging from lower 40s to upper 60s degrees Fahrenheit (roughly between 4 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius).  You cannot ask for more than that.  Every morning, I am woken up by birds’ singing.  I thought that they were nightingale birds but they were robins instead.  Both birds look very similar and sing the melody like music to our ears.  However, nightingale birds live in Europe in the summer and Africa in the winter.  Seeing birds flying around our house is really a magnificent view.  I have seen blue jays, orioles, cardinals, robins, sparrows and some birds I cannot even identify.  Cardinals are my favorite.  I like their bright red colors.  My husband likes them for their connection to the baseball team he likes the most.  He has lived in St. Louis too long not to love the team.  

 

We are so lucky to have found this sanctuary.  It is such a tranquilizing place to live in, surrounded by the wonder of the nature.  We have watched from our windows a little fox turning into a teenage fox, turtles planting their roots at our backyard, tree frogs jumping near our pond and even into our great room, woodpeckers pecking at our house siding, owls turning their head 360 degrees resting on the tree, raccoons fighting with the dogs, chipmunks, squirrels woodchucks and moles digging holes on our lawn, mother deer playing with baby deer, ducks and geese families fighting on the pond for territory, and male pheasants extending their colorful feathers competing for female attention.  It is just like a zoo out there right in front of our eyes.  Not to mention all kinds of insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas and etc.  The nature’s symphony is playing right at our backyard. 

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Thanksgiving lunch.

 

This year’s Thanksgiving, we decided to venture on dining at a fine diner – McCormick & Schmicks at downtown Minneapolis.  I like that restaurant a lot because I like eating seafood.  I work downtown, so I would dine there every now and then.  It has pretty good seafood dishes. 

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I recently realized what “Black Friday Sales” meant.  It is actually “after Thanksgiving Sales”.  The reason that the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” is that the retails will break even on that day of the year, and any proceeds after that are considered profits. 

 

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You can probably tell by now that I am a pretty determined and persistent person.  Coloring at a salon costs too much.  If I can save $600 to $1,200 a year coloring my own hair, I can eat all I want.  Talking about food, I am gaining my weight back again.  I need body fat to sustain the bitter cold. 

 

Anyway, back to hair coloring.  I decided to give it another try.  This time, I decided to use a new bottle of coloring cream and used up the entire bottle.  In addition, I let the color sit on my hair longer.  Instead of coloring the hair in 30 minutes, I doubled the time to an hour.  Third time is a charm.  I am glad to say that I have finally succeeded in coloring my own hair.  Though I do not have hair highlights like I get from a beauty salon, I am glad that I am able to cover up my gray hair.  I will see how it goes.  Maybe I will add some hair highlights later. 

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Is it a fluke or is winter here to stay?  We had another snow this morning.  Rather unusual in this time of the year.  Though there was no accumulation from the snowfalls, it does make me wonder if winter is here to stay.  I know.  I have lived in Minneapolis for over 17 years, so I do know that we have a very long winter, and it starts in October and ends in April.  Still, I am reluctant to accept that fall is already over, since it was just here only a month ago.  I like spring and fall; however, these are the shortest two seasons in Minnesota, with each lasting only a month.  Luckily, we do have a 3-month summer. 

 

To watch my kids building a snowman, please read this article: "Two jack pots in a row". 

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Something about aging

When you start to notice you are aging is when things start to look blurry to you, either visually or mentally.  Your memory starts to play tricks on you and magnifying glass becomes a reading tool.  You start to wonder if you have just eaten seasonings or a tiny bug.    They all look so much alike.

 

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Two jackpots in a row

 

Wow!  Two jackpots in a row.  It does seem like it.  As an incentive to the employees to contribute to the 2009 giving campaign, our department set aside some prizes for the drawings.  I happened to win two prizes; one, a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, another, a pair of handmade earrings.  It makes me feel a little bit better after discovering that I goofed up in my FSA.  I am probably on the road to lucky land.  Maybe, I will be able to win a lottery to cover my lost money. 

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My way to recoup the lost $1,700 in my FSA.

 

All right, the money is gone because I failed to follow up with the claim I faxed earlier this year and there is no way to recover it, even though that was my money to begin with.  If you know how flexible spending account works, you will know that it is before tax money that was withdrawn from your payroll into a flexible spending account.  The most you can set aside your money is $5,000 a year.  We have 26 payroll periods, so you will see $192 withdrawing from my payroll to my FSA each pay period.  When the amount in your FSA accumulates to the amount that equals to your childcare tuition, you can then claim the money back.  If you do not the claim the money before the next tax return, the money will be gone.  So, why go to the trouble of setting up a FSA since it is your money to begin with?  That is because you can save roughly $1,666 since it is pre-tax money.  This is a benefit from Uncle Sam.  However, I do hate the “if you don’t use it, you will use it” policy.  I like the health savings account (HSA) better.  This account is for claims on healthcare expenditure.  The money unspent gets roll over to the next year, so you will not have the problem of losing the money if you don’t use it.  By the way, this is also your money to begin with.  All you save is the amount of tax you have to pay, and that is huge if you know how much Uncle Sam dips into our pockets.

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Wow.  It snowed last night.  So, October 9, 2009 marked the first snow of this coming winter in Minnesota.  The snow wasn’t much, just enough to cover the entire ground.  I don't know if this is the earliest record of snow in Minnesota winter.   However, I do know that in Boise, Idaho, this is the earliest measurable snowfall since recordkeeping began in 1898.  1.7 inches of snow had fallen and winds across southwestern Idaho will gust up to 55 mph today.  Can you imagine a wind that strong? 

Oh, I just found out that the earliest measurable snowfall in Minnesota was 0.3 inches in International Falls, Minnesota on September, 14, 1964.

Anyway, our kids are really excited and they cannot wait to go out and taste the snow.  Did I say “taste”?  Yes, they do eat snow.  I told them that they could not lick anything off the ground but if they wanted to stick their tongues out, I really couldn't do much about it.  Since the snow does not touch the ground, I suppose that it is somewhat clean. 

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    I am not here to talk about the difference between American English and British English.  Although, I grew up watching BBC programs (Little Women, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and etc.) and studied British English during elementary and high schools, I have been very much Americanized, considering the years I have spent living in the US.  You would think that there should be no trace of British English in my writing or daily conversation.  However, you will be surprised to find how deeply ingrained some of the early education has been in my brain.  I see this happening to my kids as well.  They will adopt whatever language introduced to them first.  For instance, if the word “duck” was introduced to them in English first, they will say duck in English and if it was introduced to them in Chinese first, they will say duck in Chinese instead. 

 

    Even though I only speak British English for a quarter of my life but American English for more than half of that, I am so used to pronouncing certain words in British English that I have hard time switching the pronunciation to American English.  As for my usage and grammar, they gear more towards American English.  That said, it does not mean that I would always use one and not the other. 

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Finally, the dog has stopped barking, or has it?  Or do we have to wait until the fat lady sings.  So what has it to do with this article?  It just reflects my current mindset.  Alright, I don’t stay mad all the time.  Like I said earlier, blogging is a way to relieve my tension and frustration.

 

Anyway,  after a good night’s sleep, what awaits me is a pleasant morning.  As I woke up this morning and looked out to our deck, I scared the pheasant which lives on our deck.  He flew away and landed on our backyard.  A coyote jumped from behind and tried to catch him.  I am glad she missed him.  Wow!  A coyote at our backyard.  That is something.  I know there are plenty of animals living in our backyard, but this is the first time I saw a coyote.  Too bad, I did not have a camera in hand to capture the scene in time.  I hope that the pheasant will still stay in light of the danger.  In addition to the coyote, there are other predators living in our backyard, a red fox and some raccoons.  I don’t know if raccoons will attack pheasants or not. 

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