Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review

The year is coming to a close. Here is a look back on 2008.













Here's hoping 2009 is not as hectic (and Chinese).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Fishing

Not quite Christmas, but I made it out fishing on the 27th of December. It was around 60 degrees - I could not resist.

It had rained quite a bit, and as expected the water was blown out. Running high, fast, and very muddy, I did not even put on the waders. I did get a few casts in from the shore though. There were wind gusts in the 30s, but that makes good practice for fishing saltwater flats.

I was out for about an hour. No hits, but a nice afternoon. Thanks, Kristin, for letting me get out for a while.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's Topic for Discussion...

What is the difference between Normal Ketchup and Fancy Ketchup?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008



This is my little angel.

This morning we took some pictures in her Christmas dress. Usually this is a bit of a struggle. Not this year. This year she loved it.

It started out innocently enough. She would look at me and say cheese. Then she started twirling and posing.

At only three years old most her friend are boys. Enough already!

I think I'm going to have to lock her in her room until she is 23. (And no, her aunts do not have any say in this...)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

In an effort to broaden our horizons, this year we kicked off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols. No, not one of those stupid ties with Santa Clauses on it, but rather the Ricks Family Christmas Tree.

We walked through the rows of trees, trying to decide which one to cut down. At long last we spotted The Tree. The Tree that would be the symbol of the spirit of the Ricks Family Christmas.

The Tree was cut down and transported to its' new home - our house. I trimmed the tree and placed it in the base. Kristin setup the lights. You can never have too many lights.

And Rachael, well Rachael made sure the bottom branches of The Tree were well decorated.

Merry Christmas. Crapper's full.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mullet Madness

On our recent vacation I witnessed the following:

While I have to give him credit for pushing the wheelchair, points must be deducted for the Mullet hairdo.

For more information on this classic style see

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for a great and tolerant family, and the good times we have had through the year. And I managed to get in quite a few fishing trips too.

Thanks Kristin and Rachael.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Florida Vacation

(Insert music from National Lampoon's Vacation here...)

With a slight break in my China travel schedule, we decided to book a family vacation. In spite of my aversion to pink, and the plethora of Disney Princess gear throughout the house we reserved 4 days at Walt Disney World in Florida. We loaded up the family wagon and headed out.

We drove for 30 long minutes before finally arriving at our destination - Bluegrass Airport. I am not quite crazy enough (yet) to drive to Disney. Arriving late at night, we checked into the hotel and planned our next few days in the theme parks.

The first day as we entered the Magic Kingdom, Rachael did not know what to do. After talking about going to Dis-mey for months, the shock of actually being there was too much. She simply grabbed her mother and buried her face. I would like to say she had tears of joy, but it was probably sensory overload. After a rough half hour, we finally found the Mad Tea Party and rode the tea cups. Rachael decided that was pretty fun and pepped right up. The Dancing Tea Cups, as she called them, became her favorite ride. She decided Dis-mey was okay. I think the realization that every ride ends at a gift-shop helped the situation too.

Today's topic for discussion: Is Disney the only people trap operated by a mouse?

The next few days were a blur. We went to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom. Each day we awoke with a call from Mickey himself. We would get ready, and Rachael would help do her own hair. We rode rides, visited princesses, ate, visited princesses, sat, visited princesses, shopped for souvenirs, visited princesses, watched fireworks, and visited princesses. Did I mention that we visited princesses? We remained in the parks until closing, each evening returning to the hotel tired from the days activities.

I am still not sure who was more tired - Rachael or my feet.

At EPCOT we got to be first in line for the Finding Nemo ride. It may be the only time Rachael gets to be first in line for something like that, and she is too young to appreciate it!

We spent an entire day at EPCOT. This was a pleasant surprise for Kristin and I as we had only planned half a day there. But Rachael was having a good time so we remained. Rachael's favorite ride at EPCOT was the Three Caballeros boat ride in Mexico. But the highlight of the day was lunch. We had reserved a character meal at EPCOT just for Rachael.

As we entered the restaurant she was taken aside by Princess Belle to have her photo taken. Then, as we ate, several more Princesses came through the dining area. She got to meet Aurora, Ariel, Cinderella, and Jasmine. Luckily the Princesses did not rotate through the dining area until we were almost finished eating - once the Princesses arrived the meal was through. We took pictures as Rachael admired the princesses and had them sign her autograph book. She was in awe the entire time, and star struck as she spoke with Cinderella, her favorite princess.

Rachael also had the opportunity to meet a lot of other characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minny Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Goofy. She had her picture taken with all of them, and thought it was great to meet them.

We spent about a half day in Animal Kingdom. Rachael enjoyed the Safari ride, and I really liked the Expedition Everest coaster, but there was just not enough to keep Rachael ecstatic with the Magic Kingdom nearby. So the day was split between the two parks. She was so happy to be back at the Magic Kingdom that she even went on Pirates of the Caribbean with us. Part of the ride was spent covering her eyes, but she did enjoy seeing the animatronic women chasing the pirates around.

And of course we took a few more spins on the Dancing Teacups.

All in all it was a good vacation. It was a break from the real world, and other than visiting China at EPCOT and Asia at Animal Kingdom, it was a good time away from work. Rachael had a great time and did not want to leave. But it was time - we were all worn out.

And did I mention that we visited princesses?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's Topic for Discussion...

Why is it when someone tells you there are billions of stars in the universe you believe them, but if someone tells you there is wet paint you have to touch it?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nose Drinks

When I was much younger my older sister and I were playing. She showed me how she could put a straw in her nose and drink through it. I do not think she would recommend doing this.

Why do I mention this? Today is her birthday. I was sitting with Rachael and told her that it was Aunt Lynne's birthday today. Rachael looked at me and said Oh, she drinks Coke through her nose! I am not sure how Rachael knows about that.

Happy Birthday Lynne.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cumberland River Fishing

Yesterday I went to the Cumberland River to do some Trout fishing. This is the first time I have targeted Trout since we moved to Kentucky, over three years ago. I did not know what to expect.

The fishery is on the tailwaters of Wolf Creek Dam. This is the Dam currently undergoing repairs by the Army Corp of Engineers due to cracks found in the substructure. For those that have read the sensationalized version, yes this is the dam that could cause Nashville to flood.

The fishery is among the best tailwater fisheries in the east. And with the dam repairs taking place, the water level in the reservoir is being held at 680 feet above sea level. This means that the water flow out of the dam is constant, and they are not generating power. With no power generation the river is much more accessible. There are areas that are wadeable, and you do not need to worry about sudden water level increases due to increased output at the dam. And with the constant flow, 2007 was the first year a successful trout spawn was recorded. While the trout do attempt to spawn each year, the increased output during power generation prevents those attempts from being successful.

The trip started at 5:00am. We drove to the first location we wanted to fish, about 4 miles downstream from the dam. It was a boat ramp, with a large, wadeable area. We arrived at first light and suited up. While the day was plenty warm, the water was cold. Fleece was a definite plus underneath the waders. As we put on our waders several other vehicles arrived, some with boats. We walked down to the frigid water and started casting. We could see fish rising around us, but could not entice them to the fly. We had a couple light hits, but no hook ups. We were not the only ones as we only witnessed one fish caught in four hours. We finally packed up and headed further downstream.

The next access point was at Creelsboro Natural Bridge. The bridge was an impressive natural wonder, the largest arch I have seen. It was a short walk to the water, where we once again wet our lines. There was very little current, and no fish wanted our offerings. By this time it was about 70 degrees outside. Fish or no fish, it was a beautiful day away from work, standing on the water. After an hour and a half of no strikes, we headed further downstream to the next accessible spot.

The next spot was at another boat ramp. There were some fish rising, and I could see several in the water. I had on a small Caddis dry fly, with a nymph tied below that. I cast out into the current a few times when suddenly there was a splash at my fly, and the line went tight. As the fish fought it appeared to be sideways. I thought my line was probably wrapped around the tail. I worked him to the net, where I found the nymph hooked to his fin. I removed the hook and took a photo. It was a 12 inch Brown Trout. He had beautiful coloring, and it was nice to see a trout for the first time in a couple years. I gently put him back in the water and watched him slowly swim away.

We fished a while more with no more hook ups. We decided to go back to the first boat ramp, where we saw a lot of fish in the water. But once again, could not get them to take. So we drove to the dam. By this time it was starting to get dark. We had a few casts, but did not really expect anything. It had been a nice day, and with darkness upon us we headed home.

I would fish the Cumberland again. I know there are some large trout in the system. Next time, however, I would either hire a guide, or use a boat. Without a boat there were only a few accessible points along the river. This limited our ability to cover the water. And it never hurts to hire a guide when fishing new water to show you the water and techniques.

Of course, as one gentleman put it, we should have been there the day before. Is that not always the case?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I was packing my fishing gear tonight to get ready for tomorrow. Rachael wanted to know all about my waders as I placed them into the bag. We tried to explain that they are to wear while fishing, when you need to walk in the water.

I want a pair of waders Rachael said.

We explained that she was not big enough. Maybe when she is bigger we will get her some waders.

Let's go to the kids wader store was her reply.

How do you respond to three year old logic?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Episode VII - Padawan Posse

Last night at the Halloween party I was walking back to the car with Cinderella. As we were nearing the car I was viciously attacked by the ruthless Darth Sidious (or as a fellow Jedi called him Darth Sissious). Lightsaber in hand, I was able to hold off the barrage of attacks long enough for Cinderella to make it back to the safety of the car.

Darth Sidious did his best to convince me of the power of the dark side several times shouting the Dark Side is more powerful! I was not swayed, informing Darth Sidious that I would never join him. He was not pleased. The attacks continued.

The battle was not going my way. A nearby Jedi sensed my plight and joined in the fight.

We did our best to push back the evil Darth Sidious, as Cinderella frantically ran by.

Outnumbered two to one, Darth Sidious held his own. We were no match for him. More Jedi joined in the fight. We vowed to never let the influence of the Sith return.

Four to one, the Jedi finally prevailed. With a powerful lightsaber blow, Darth Sidious was down. As the Grim Reaper took him away, Cinderella could eat candy again. Peace had been restored to the galaxy.

May the Force be with you...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Here is Rachael and I returning from a night of Trick or Treating. Not seen are the light-up glass slippers. After a few houses, it was determined that we could go to many more houses (hence, more candy) in other shoes.

Cinderella did pretty well, and came back loaded with candy for mom and dad to sort through and enjoy.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Home (Again)

The trip to China went well. I accomplished what I needed to and returned home safely, with no car wrecks or food poisoning.

As I walked to the baggage claim, there stood Kristin and Rachael.

I am finally home, again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You Never Know...

Driving back to the hotel some incidents captured my attention.

A young lady was walking down the street. On her shirt, in rather large print, was printed Boys Need Yoga Too. I did not know that.

Further down the road a car was sitting on the side of the road. The driver was standing next to the car looking back. One end of a large rope was tied to the back of the car. The other end of the rope was lying on the asphalt, obviously broken apart. I hope he finds whatever he was towing. Maybe this would not have happened if he had Yoga.

You never know what you are going to see here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's Topic for Discussion...

When eating Lays Italian Meat flavored potato chips, exactly what type of meat are they supposed to taste like?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Panmen Scenery Area

Wandering around over the weekend, I found myself at the entrance to Panmen Scenery Area. I purchased a ticket and went in. After all, it was that or go back to the hotel room.

There were several areas inside the gates, including a large pagoda and an ancient structure with a Land Gate and a Water Gate. Since Suzhou has canals throughout the city, it was important to be able to block off both land and water routes from enemies.

Just inside the gates was this statue of an Ox. The sign in front stated quite plainly not to climb on the statue. I had to take the picture on my way out, as too many people were climbing onto its’ back for photos when I first walked by.

A little further down the path was this turtle. I found out later that it was Listening to Scriptres (yes that is the correct spelling).

The Ox and Turtle statues were in front of the Pagoda.

Behind the Pagoda was the Hall of Four Auspicious Merits. Although I never did learn what the four merits were, and what made them so auspicious. Maybe I should learn Chinese?

As I walked further through the area I passed the Captive Animals Freeing Pool. Why a pool to free animals into? This brought images of throwing cats into the water to my head.

A directional sign further down the way referred to it as a Captive Fish Freeing Pool. This made a little more sense.

I later saw this gentleman. His actions were acceptable – he was far away from the Fish Freeing Pool.

There were gardens and bridges around the various structures. The maintenance on these gardens must be incredible.

And pillars / tablets of various sorts were scattered throughout the gardens. Here are the Millennium Twin Stone Posts.

Followed by the Tablet of Filial Piety and Justice.

As I walked along I passed Moon Island.

This, of course, caused me to ponder. Where is Sun Island? Oh wait, there it is.

As I worked my way through the area, they had a display of ancient military tools. I do not think I would want to find myself facing these, especially the one with the spikes.

Atop the gates were cannons for additional protection.

With my limited grasp of the Chinese Language, I believe this is who the gates and cannons were protecting.

It was a nice day, and it was good to get out for a while.