Saturday, February 23, 2008

Life: Saturday with Lillian

Howdy from Kansas. Thought I'd drop in with a sample post from Hello, Lillian!

Today we went to two great events in Kansas City. The first was a drop-in on the February session of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series, a women's political education group that Kari is involved in. Lillian got to meet many of the wonderful women who are on the board of the group and in this year's class.

We didn't get to stay that long, because we also were attending our adoption agency (Holt International Children's Services) family support group's annual February luncheon in honor of Chinese New Year. Lillian got to dress up in her traditional dress again, and again she got to say a big "no" to posing in a group photo with other kids, just like in Guangzhou on the famous red couch.

It was a fun event and included a dragon dance by the Chinese School of Greater Kansas City, lunch catered by a Chinese restaurant (Kin Lin), and lots of fellowship with other Holt families (mostly with kids adopted from China, but some were families with kids from Korea, India, etc., as well as families still in the waiting process). We'd guess there probably 40 or 50 families in attendance. We think Lillian was the most recent arrival of all the kids there, and one of the youngest as well. The group has monthly gatherings, with the big events being this event and a summer picnic.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Life: One of the good parts of the internets

There is definitely a lot of not so savory aspects to the internet.

But one huge plus is the ability to share photos and life stories so people can stay connected.

I'll be checking in on Hello, Lillian! every now and then.

Psalm 127

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one's youth.

Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Art: All Nature Sings, Jan 5 - Feb 2, 2008

As a culture blog, wanted to post this item for those folks who enjoy contemporary art that is NOT on the "ick" side nor the "I could have done that" realm. There might be some "I'm not sure what it is" feelings but they are thoughtful objects and are always well crafted that encourage contemplation and wonder.

Lynn Aldrich is a friend of mine who works in that space.

The exhibit starts Jan 5 and runs until Feb 2, 2008 at the Carl Berg Gallery.

6018 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90036
tel: 323-931-6060


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Travel: Kauai vacation photos from September 2007

This post took a bit longer to get around to. But, at last, below are photos and travelogue of my most recent travels.

To see two YouTube videos about Kauai go here. One of the videos is mine. The other is put out by people on Kauai concerned about overdevelopment.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Arrived in Honolulu!

The last time I was in Honolulu was as a teenager many decades ago!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My uncle took me to Pearl Harbor to see the Arizona Memorial. The lines were long so we didn't make the trip to the site.

Nonetheless, reading the various interpretive displays was very moving even though the attack occurred 66 years ago. I'm sure it really impacts some of the older visitors who have memories of the actual event or knew people who were there.

Our next stop was the Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery.

There are murals that recap the Battle for the Pacific during World War II. The number of battles is unimaginable.

The visiting side of the trip came to an end and I donned my "business" hat by attending the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research and participating in a poster session for the evening.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The ASBMR conference was held at the Honolulu Convention Center.

It was a good workout to make the trek between the Convention Center and the Princess Kaiulani hotel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One of the mornings I decided to walk on the sands of Waikiki en route to the Convention Center.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Figuring I don't know when I'd be back to this part of the world again, I planned for a short island hop to Kauai!

The view from the airplane window!

On the ground!

My rental car was obtained through Priceline which was somewhat below the published rates since it was "shoulder" season between the summer travelers and the late fall/early winter escapees from elsewhere's cold weather.

I stayed at the Kauai Sands which was the lowest priced hotel on Yahoo! Travel.

Beautiful beach at the Kauai Sands but a tad windy!

The Kauai Sands is next to the Coconut Marketplace shopping center.

Kauai Tourism Tip: There is pretty heavy traffic between Kapaa and Lihue during morning and late afternoon rush hour. Also, if you are on the road after sunset, be aware it is very dark as there are very few street lights on the roads between towns! I discovered this because I figured, oh, take a little drive around the island before calling it a night. The sun went down and it was dark!

I wound up driving all the way up to Hanalei but it was completely dark so I didn't get to see the beautiful views I would two days later. I ended up having dinner at Bubba's Burgers in Hanalei.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good morning Kapaa!

I rolled out of bed to watch the sunrise over the ocean!

There were other guests at the hotel with the same idea.

For the day, I headed toward the west side of the island to get to Waimea Canyon.

Even with the late morning haze, it is still quite a view though I would imagine would have been very spectacular in the golden sunrise/sunset hours.

The windy road eventually reaches Kalalau Lookout.

What a view!

Weather changes quickly on the islands! The rain swept in yielding the gorgeous rainbow!

If you have time, be sure to check out Hanapepe. There are some neat art galleries there which I got to check out a few that were open. The Cafe in the town is a top destination that is only open limited hours and requires reservations.

I then headed off to the Spouting Horn.

For dinner, I went to Brennecke's Beach Broiler.

Did you like the view from my dining table?

I had Opah and Ono for dinner. I liked the Ono better.

To work off some calories, I walked around Poipu beach to wait for the sunset!

Friday, September 21, 2007

I had made a reservation while I was in Los Angeles for a Na Pali Coast Catamaran tour through Captain Sundown. However, they contacted me with news on Thursday that the swell conditions were too rough to sail so I had to change my plans. I booked a kayak trip for Friday with Kayak Wailua.

We paddled up to Uluwehi Falls. It was quite a workout but lots of fun!

The falls wasn't very spectacular because the amount of rainfall had been low lately.

Nonetheless, had to take a picture in the water. It is cold as the water runs down from the top of Kauai!

I showered off back at the Kauai Sands and then hit the road to the Kapaa local products fair.

I had driven up to Hanalai on my first evening and had no idea how beautiful it was!

Here is one of the lookout points on the side of the road.

As a photographer, the golden hours are right around sunrise and sunset. What a view in Hanalei bay!

Waikiki back in Honolulu is like Rodeo Drive but with lots of big hotels. It is a district that probably never sleeps. But I've never been much of a night life person and truth be told there probably isn't a lot of nightlife in Kauai. I heard there are a few bars with music and such.

However, when I can, I like to get a feel for the local flavor. I saw in the local paper that Waimea was playing Kapaa in high school football at Kapaa which is the town right next to the Kauai Sands.

I was pretty tired from the kayak tour and the drive up to Hanalai but I figured what the heck, I'll go see the football game after a hearty meal. I went the Wailua Family Restaurant which was across the street from where I had met up for the kayak tour. I'd agree with the description of this place being like a Sizzler. Fancy dining it is not. But a decent amount of food at a reasonable price is good enough for me. I had a steak and Mahi Mahi platter. But most importantly, I got information about the football game! The man behind the counter said his daughter would be one of the cheerleaders at the game. The woman at the cash register drew a simple map to the stadium.

In the white jersey's were the visiting Waimea Menehune. In the green was the home team the Kapaa Warriors!

In the first half, I was amidst some Kapaa fans. One lady with a video camera explained to me her son was one of the players and her daughter was one of the cheerleaders. She pointed out various other relatives in the stands. It truly is a family event.

In the second half, I was amidst some Waimea fans. A couple noticed I didn't seem like a local and asked me what my story was. I explained I was a mainlander on vacation after business. They seemed happy to see a tourist at the game. They pointed out various family members in the stands and told me their son was a running back on the Menehune. They explained to me that there are three high schools on the island. They also told me that the Menehune were the legendary miniature men of Hawaii.

In case you were curious: Menehune 21 Warriors 7.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My last day on Kauai ...

One of the signature sights was Wailua Falls.

Since I had a few more hours before the flight back to Honolulu, I drove down toward the south side.

I stopped at Old Koloa Town. There are some cute little shops on the old historic street.

I had to visit beautiful Poipu beach one last time.

The sleeping Monk Seal got a lot of attention!

Flew back to Honolulu and had a get together with various relatives.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I had a few hours before my flight back to LAX. My uncle drove me to a few more sights on Oahu.

We went to Pali Lookout ...

Went to one of the surfing spots to see if anyone was out there ...

Saw a rower ...

Had lunch at the Ala Moana Shopping Center and saw some Hulu dancing ...



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Life: Maybe a new Christmas tradition for me

There was the periodic rattling of carts as two young employees of Ralphs after rounding them up pushed them back to the store.

Airplanes came in for landings every minute or so.

Cars trundled up and down the parking lot.

There was the quiet tinkle of a bell.

Yup, it is Christmas in the city and I manned the kettle and rang the bell in front of the Ralphs for two hours this evening.

It was neat to see parents give their kids some change or a dollar bill to put into the kettle.

"Thanks for your contribution!"

I smiled inside myself contemplating the internal dialog of people who walked past the kettle, stopped, walked back and placed in a contribution. What might have prompted a change of heart? Perhaps a recognition that came from gratitude? Or maybe a memory of someone who got help from the Salvation Army or someone who didn't?

Whether people gave or not, I did try to give them a smile and offer some holiday cheer with a hearty, "Have a good Christmas holiday!"

A few chatted briefly with me about nothing in particular as they placed some coins or bills in the kettle.

Some people had a grim look about them set upon their grocery shopping task, I wonder what was on their minds and how they felt to hear someone say, "Have a great evening."

Some thanked me as I thanked them for making a donation.

I could see some choose a path to enter the Ralphs that kept them from making eye contact with me.

One mom told her kids a nursery rhyme:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat ...

She said the kettle is the old man's hat ... and her two kids each dropped in a few coins.

Definitely made it a point to give a smile for the kids and a big "Thanks!" for each one who dropped in coins!

One lady walked past me going in and going out and came back and placed a dime in the kettle saying, that was all I could find in my car.

"Thank you every little bit helps!"

Another lady, looking a bit worn down from life dropped in a few coins and said, I'm sorry I can't give more, I'm just a poor old lady.

I had to say, "God bless you for her effort!"

Please consider making a contribution when you see a red kettle.

Or go ahead and contact your nearest Salvation Army and volunteer to be a bell ringer.

If I haven't convinced you, check out the web page for Salvation Army and see if Kelly Clarkson can encourage you to help out in some way.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sports: game day USC vs. UCLA

Can UCLA win?

If the special teams steals a TD and gives UCLA good field position and puts USC in bad field position.

If the defense comes up with an unbelievable game like last year.

If the offense can keep the QB from getting hit. Why did UCLA have their 2 QBs injured this season? The OL didn't protect them.

If all three happen then maybe UCLA is still in the game late in the fourth quarter with a miracle shot at pulling off the upset.

Otherwise, the game could be over like other years by half-time or sooner.

Go Bruins!

UPDATE: USC 24 UCLA 7. What can you say? No surprises today. Congratulations to USC for their 6th Pac10 title.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Sports: USC vs. UCLA, the day before game day

Last year, I was there.

I had a 3-game mini-plan. There were probably 30% USC fans in our section as many UCLA fans sold their tickets rather than go watch the Bruins lose. I almost did the same.

Plaschke in today's LAT has the where is he now story of Eric McNeal who got the interception that preserved the Bruin victory by keeping USC out of the end-zone and thus out of the National Championship game.


A week before the big game and the kitchen floor is sparkling.

"I do the mopping around here," Eric McNeal says.

A week before the big game and the bathrooms are shining.

"That's also my job," he says.

A week before the big game, and Eric McNeal is sitting at the dining-room table of the modest Carson home he shares with his parents, figuring out his work schedule.

Today, clean the house.

Tuesday through Friday, report to a nearby warehouse to drive a forklift.

"Maybe I'll add Saturday to my schedule," he says idly.


"Oh, wait," he says, smiling. "That's right."

Oh, wait. That's right.

Four words, two sentences, forever describing the author of one of the biggest moments in USC-UCLA football lore.

Only once in this rivalry's 76-game series has one man made one play to keep the other team out of the national championship game.

Only once has the winning play been made by a man who started one game in his college career.

Only once have circumstances so forgettable flared into something so memorable.

The man was McNeal. That play came last season when, with 1 minute 10 seconds remaining, the UCLA linebacker tipped and intercepted a John David Booty pass to seal a stunning 13-9 victory.
A couple of months later, he was being ignored by the NFL, Arena League, every league.

"When you didn't play that much in college, it's hard," he says.

Today, out of uniform and out of scholarship, he is working as a forklift driver to help pay tuition for his final quarter of college.

To save money, he lives in his childhood home, his game ball wrapped in a plastic bag and buried under some clutter.
Both of McNeal's parents are UCLA graduates.

He loved UCLA so much, he committed there during his junior year at Gardena Serra High.

He loved it so much, he didn't transfer when every coach who recruited him departed with Bob Toledo.

He loved it so much, even when he was forced to move from big safety to undersized linebacker, even when it became obvious that he would never start under Karl Dorrell, he refused to leave.

After not playing one down against Oklahoma two seasons ago, he wept.

Then he decided he would never say another word.

"I love the school and I wasn't going to do anything to hurt it," McNeal says. "I was going to keep my mouth shut and stick it out."

Even that didn't work. By the time he took the field for the final home game of his career against USC last fall, he was playing only in passing situations.

"You tell children to work hard and things will turn out all right . . . well, that's not always the case," says his mother.

And then, this being the USC-UCLA game, they did.

"He never complained, he never asked for more time," says linebackers coach Chuck Bullough. "Then he finally had his moment."
Go Bruins!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sports: UCLA vs. USC in two days

The game is at USC's home field and I'll not be trying to fetch the tickets.

The listed price at Stubhub ranges from $109 to $1200.

No one expected UCLA to win last year and last year's team was healthy!

This years team has been a MASH unit.

The latest news is that Olson who came in for the 2nd half of last weeks game has had knee trouble again. As such Cowan who has had knee trouble and is recovering from a collapsed lung has been taking the bulk of the snaps at practice. Rassan who started last weeks game but was pulled after going 0-7 passing with 1 int is the backup.

The LAT is running daily articles about the past rivalry games. Saw this one today.


The year was 1992 and the Bruins had run through pretty much all of their quarterbacks, losing Wayne Cook, Rob Walker and Ryan Fien to injury. They were down to a fourth-string senior.

"He wasn't even on the team the previous year," Dellins said. "Coach [Terry] Donahue let him walk on."

Barnes responded with a magical night against the Trojans, throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns. When 15th-ranked USC failed on a two-point conversion with less than a minute remaining, UCLA had a 38-37 upset victory.

Dellins loved that a no-name could, in the course of a few hours, become a star. He also liked the way Barnes responded afterward. The quarterback, known to live in a realm of his own, did not consider his Cinderella performance a big deal.

Interviewed on television after the game, he was asked what might have happened if USC had taken the lead on that conversion.

"Well," he responded plainly, "we'd have gone down the field and scored again."


On the current UCLA team, the 4th string QB would be McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The walk-on QB played in the dismal loss to Notre Dame after Olson got hurt. The Fighting Irish decided to stack the line to stop the running game and blitz like crazy. The result, the shell-shocked Bethel-Thompson got sacked 4 times and threw 4 interceptions.

Can history repeat itself with a surprise victory on the arm of a 4th string QB?

Go Bruins!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sports: BCS forecasts

Hey, that is the fun part about being a blogger! I can use this platform to express my opinion and you can take it for every cent you are paying for it!

My biases: am a UCLA alum so am a fan of the Pac10. Alas, this year, it doesn't look like the Pac10 is going to get 2 teams into the BCS. Just don't see ASU getting in.

USC (pac10) - As a UCLA fan, I would love it if UCLA could knock USC out of the Rose Bowl game but I'd guess USC will be favored by 21 in the annual cross-town game next week. Of course, last year the Bruins weren't expected to win and they knocked USC out of the BCS championship game!
Hawaii (at large, wac) - A huge if is whether the Rainbow Warriors can beat the Washington Huskies. If they do, the Rose Bowl selection committee will see $$$ signs as the Hawaii fans will happily get on a plane to California to root for the Warriors. If Hawaii stumbles, my guess is that the Rose Bowlers will nab Missouri pitting USC's defense against the Tiger's spread offense.

Oklahoma (big12) - Can the Sooners beat the Tigers twice? I think so!
Boston College (at large, ACC) - no way the Fiesta sets up Oklahoma versus Mizzou, round III.

LSU (sec) - Nice little home game for them!
Mizzou (at large, Big12) - The Sugar organizers are rooting for Hawaii so the Rose Bowl takes them to set up this game. If Hawaii stumbles, the Sugar will call up Illinois.

Va Tech (acc) - They should beat BC!
Georgia (at large, SEC) - Right next door, no brainer!

BCS Championship:
Ohio State (big10) - Because everyone else around them gets beat, they slip back into the BCS championship game! Hugh Hewitt would love the wisdom of this forcast! 8-)
West Virginia (big east) - The Big East champs are in. Nobody below them in the BCS can jump over them. Of course, watch them lose to Pittsburgh! Hah!

You heard it here first!!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Life: Introducing Lillian


You have seen this before, but now that we have reached the next step in the adoption process, I thought it would be OK to post our announcement on Two Tin Cans.

We are thrilled to announce that we have been matched with a little girl in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. She was given the name Chang Wei He, and when we adopt her she will be known as Lillian Weihe Bruffett (we'll call her Lily).

We like the story behind the name Weihe. "Wei" means "mighty" -- an aspirational name for a small girl (she likely was born prematurely); the name symbolizes the hope of her caregivers at the Changzhou City Children's Welfare Institute that she would grow stronger. "He" is a common name for girls and means "lotus" -- a water lily.

She is nearly 2 (her birthday is November 18). The letter we received from her caregivers in China concluded with this, and we couldn't agree more: "She is as good as pie."

We just found out this week that we may be allowed to travel as early as mid-December, or possibly as late as late January. We will be in China for approximately two weeks -- possibly over Christmas.

I have created a blog for our trip; we hope to be able to post often while we are overseas so that family and friends can share the experience with us.

We are excited and bursting with anticipation.

Take care!