Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dinner with my old Friends in NYC

Tonight, I organized a dinner with all my friends from my graduating class. I've been trying to do that via the email for the past 2 months. I'm a little disappointed that only a handful of people and it's the same people I hang around with attended the dinner. I guess not everyone is as nostalgic as me. I have to say that many had schedule conflicts but most didn't even reply my emails. Even Ben Kong who's now a pastor at a church in Queens which I Googled. Decidely find it too cumbersome to drive out to Manhattan to see old friends which he as not seen at least 15-20years. And me, I have not seen him since graudation which is 25 years! Anyways, I'm ok with it.

The other disappointing thing is that my favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy SPQR is closed tonight for a private party. It's the same restaurant we went to as a big group prior to us going our separate ways 25 years ago. It's our last meeting as a group as a whole. I was hoping to have dinner there. But, I found a quaint little restaurant "Casa Bella" down the street. The food was just as delicious and I had a canoli for dessert.

Here's a picture of me and Jack. He married Chris after high school. He didn't go to Tech but I grew up with him. He used to be everyone's big bro. He used to be taller than me too. So, I'm not sure how I grew several inches taller than him. :-)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

25th High School Reunion!

Today, I arrived in NYC at 12:30AM at JFK airport. I stayed at the American Airlines Admiral Club and cleaned up at their shower facilities. I then quickly took the Airport Shuttle to my Hotel in Queens. Since I couldn't check in yet, thankfully I was able to store my luggage temporarily at the Hotel. I quickly took the subway to Brooklyn Tech because it's my 25th High School Reunion! I was a little late but I made it to my graduation class slideshow presentation.

I was glad to found my best buddies from high school Ty and Robert. They saved a seat for me in the auditorium where we graduated 25 years ago. It brought back many memories as I walked up the block and into the entrance of the school. Those were the same steps I took 30 years ago when I walked in as a freshman.

After the assembly at the auditorium I found my closest friends that I still kept in touch with since our 20th reunion. We decided to tour the school, walk the hallways, and visit a classroom. The title picture above from left to right is Me, Tayen, Chris, Manuel, Ming, and Robert. Notice we left our signature and mark on the blackboard behind us. We each decided to sign the board and left it for the students coming in on Monday. :-)

We then went to lunch at the cafeteria on the 7th Floor. One of us decided to walk though memory lane walk up the stairs just like we did when we were young. Young is the operant word here because most of us were huffing and puffing after 3 flights of stairs. I was thoroughly tired from walking up those tiny little stairs. When we arrived to the cafeteria, we were very very winded. :-) I guess after 25 years, we're all pretty out of shape. I gotta hit the stairmaster when I get home.

Here's a photo of the enormous auditorium at Brooklyn Tech. I remember local college and universities used to rent our auditorium for their graduation commencement. It's a fisheye 15mm Canon L lens. This lens creates an even greater grandeur of the the auditorium.

Here's a picture of all of our feet on the Tech Shield on the first floor lobby of the school.

I know to most untrained eyes, this looks like a boring window. It's actually the window Tayen and I photographed through many graduations and stage performances such as the local ballet. It used to be so hot in there in middle of June where we only had one fan blowing in the tiny projector room.

Here's another photo of Tayen and I posing next to the window. By the way, Tayen and I have been friends since the 4th grade. That makes us 35 years of friendship which is very hard to fathom even me. It's all a blur to me. It's funny that he still looks that same except I grew several inches taller after high school because I used to be shorter than him. :-)

Here's the famous lathe that we all used to make a ball-peen hammer, plumb-bob in our metal workshop. I particularly like my metal shop because it was during my sophmore year 1980 when we had a subway strike. I actually carpooled with my Dad to Manhattan and then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to school just so that I can attend my metal shop class. By the way, I got an A in all my projects in metal shop. :-D The other shop class was Foundry and we sadly found out that it's been scrapped permanently. Current students no longer require to take that class. It was kind of cool building mold and pouring molten metal to make our metal devices. Too bad it's now gone forever. On thing for sure change is a constant, it cannot be stopped.

After the tour of most of the school and to the GO store. I bought a couple of T-shirts that we used to wear for gym. We went back downstairs to the Gymnasium for a group photo.

Here's a picture of David Milman and me. We were pretty good friends when we were in high school. He was exceptionally short 4'10" and had cubby cheeks. In short he looked like he was 12 and many of the students picked on him. I on the other hand felt everyone was mean. By the way, like me he grew several inches taller after high school. It's funny how everyone grow in height at different time of one's life. He and I were the shortest people in our graduating class. About 5 years ago we hooked up via the Internet when I sought him out via He now owns a computer consulting franchise that similar to Geek Squad. Doing extremely well. So here's to all the people who picked on him.

Below is a signed Class of '82 placard used for the group picture. My signature is on the bottom right hand corner with my Chinese name. This placard is now in the possession of David Milman. It's definitely a great memorabilia for our graduating class. I managed to photograph it right before he went home after the dinner banquet.

Finally here's a photo of me and the organizer. She used to be a cheerleader and we had nothing in common. In fact, we never spoke to each other even though she was in several of my class during my 4 years at Tech. She has not aged at all even though she's a mom, and over 40 years of age. That's the beauty of reunion is that after 25 years, we find kinship and camaraderie through a commonality which is Tech. Who would have thought 25 years later we would stand shoulder to shoulder for a photo.

It's been an amazing experience. And realistically, it will probably be my last reunion because no one really goes after 25 years.. perhaps 50th year but I would be pretty old... perhaps too old to travel to NYC. I wish more of my classmates were there. I really missed some of them and wonder what they are doing now. I definitely recommend anyone to go to their own reunion. It's definitely one of the highlights of my life to be there meeting old and new friends.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My flight to Washington DC's Cherry Blossoms Festival

I finally landed at Dulles in a tiny plane that didn't have any overhead space. The plane was so small that I sat in single row of seats on one side and 2 seats on the other. My carry on was too big and must be checked in at the gate. Fortunately, I didn't have to go through the baggage claim to get it back as they were ready for me when I walked off the plane. I quickly got my rental car and I was racing to Wash DC!! My heart was racing as I've been wanting to see Cherry-Blossoms in person and the fact that I almost missed that chance today due to a flight delay really added to the anxiousness and drama.

When I finally got there, I couldn't find parking space. Just my luck I barely missed several parking space because I was just a few seconds too late. Giving up all hopes, I drove out of the lot and parked somewhat illegally on the grass as many other cars were doing as well. It was a short walk to the Potomac but it's better than nothing as I was racing against time. If I lose the light then I would have flew her for nothing. Fortunately, there were plenty of day light still for great photo ops.

The photo above is one of many photos I took. I used my hand in the picture to get a scale in relations to the Cherry-Blossoms. You can see my long shadow from the side as it's close to dusk when I took this picture.

Here's short video as I walked through the park near the Potomac River. Surroundings include the Jefferson Memorial and in line of view of the Washington Memorial. It was somewhat windy as you can her in my video. Whenever it blows, the petals flew like snow and I felt like I was engulfed by the cherry blossoms. What a wonderous feeling as I can't really describe in words of the beauty of the cherry blossoms in this quantity. It's everywhere and it's beautiful as far as you can see as it lined the edge of the Potomac. I'm glad that I made it as it was explained to me that it's currently in full bloom that's why it's so beautiful. When in full bloom it would only last a day or two. Wind and rain will shorten the longevity of the bloom. In fact, the following day rained hard and the full bloom was shortened this year. Also, I was fortunate that it was a sunny blue sky kind of day and it really adds to the beauty of the cherry blossoms. This time of year, DC is usually cloudy and gloomy. The locals were saying that they would be happy that it wouldn't rain so that they can enjoy the beauty of the cherry-blossoms.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Red Eye Flight to Boston

I'm waiting at the terminal getting ready for my red eye flight to Boston. This year I decided to attend Photoshop World East / Boston because I am interested in the new Lightroom track which could increase my post production workflow.

Well, who would've thought that my Red-Eye flight is delayed for more than 2 hours. I got everything all planned. We were suppose to land around 7:30AM and I would check into the Admiral's Club to freshen up, shower, food etc. Since I can't check into the hotel this early, one day access of the Admiral's Club is the best way to clean up after a red-eye flight. And I will still have plenty of time to catch my flight to Washington DC with JetBlue at 10:30AM. This way, I'll have 6+ hours in DC to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms Festival, which something I wanted to see for quite some time (5 years in the making 2002).

Anyway, I arrived 15 minutes late for my JetBlue flight as I have to run out of one terminal from an AA flight and get into another terminal for JetBlue. It turned out that they took off without me. :-( Of course they wouldn't wait for me as they are different airlines. (I once missed a flight when it was the same airline...Continental. I had to stay overnight in Memphis) I was so angry because I thought I wasted my non-refundable flight money to Wash DC. I also lost my one day access to the Admiral's Club ($50) However, there is a later flight to Wash DC that I can take for an additional $50. I quickly took their offer and paid them immediately. The only drawback is that I won't land there until 1:30PM, and after I pickup the rental car, it would be around 2:30pm before I can get to the Potomac river. Oh well, it's better than nothing at all. I hope it's all worth it and I would get some awesome photo ops.

The drama didn't end here unfortunately. Now I have another 2 hours to kill so I decided to use my Admiral's Club access. However, I walked out of the AA terminal and security area. The Admiral's Club is back inside by the gate. Guess what, I no longer have a valid boarding pass to cross security! So, I went back to the AA ticket counter to explain my situation. the rude attendant bascially, I'm SOL because there's nothing she can do. I told her that there's always a way to get around "Nothing I Can Do's". Now, I'm really steaming because it was a malfunction of AA plane that delayed my flight. They caused my delay and forced me to pay an additional $50 for my JetBlue flight to DC. I'm not even faulting them on that and demand for the $50. They got the nerve to tell me that I'm SOL when it's all their fault! All I want is use the service that I paid for and the problem that they caused... it's worth $50!! It's non-refundable! So, I demand to speak to a supervisor and she said she can't get him for me. What!!! What is wrong with this woman. She said I couldn't produce proof that I paid for it. I showed her the email I got from AA Admiral's Club confirming my payment of $50 from my BB phone. She wouldn't even look at it. In the mean time, I was calling the Admiral's Club and ask them to speak to her. She wouldn't talk to them. Finally, the attendant next to her tried to help me and explain to her that I paid for this. She still didn't believe me because if I were in the Admiral's Club I would have a ID card. I told her that I don't get a card whe nit's only for one day, you stooopid @$%#^#!

Anyway, finally stormed off to get a supervisor and also the Admiral's Club also called the supervisor to get me a temporary boarding pass to get through security. In the mean time, I had to recheck my bags and everything else again. AArrrgh!!

Finally at the Admiral's Club, after a hot shower and cleaned myself up I was more calmed and relaxed. I have to say the Admiral's Club is worth every dime for travelers who traveled a long way and needed a place to clean up, relax and refresh. I definitely will use the Admiral's Club again next time I travel... minus the drama. :-)