Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dominate Dragons with Git

If you have not done so already, head on over to the Hulu Tech Blog to read Jeff's post about the benefits of using Git. 
Read the post here: Dominate Dragons with Git.
Jeff's arguments are well thought-out, well-written, amusing, and incredibly convincing. 

If you have no idea what Git is, it is a version control and source code management system for software development, and is far superior than other version control software out there such as SVN and CVS.  If you have no idea what any of that previous sentence meant, then maybe this post isn't for you, but head on over there anyways and show some support.  =)

And if you are wondering who is that talented artist that drew the adorable dragon illustrations.... well, that talented artist is me  =D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Dominican Republic trip

As you already know, we went visited Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic) in mid-October for a destination wedding.
I have mixed feelings about that country.  On one hand, the beaches are quite pretty, and I really enjoyed the warm, humid weather and the rainy afternoons.  On the other hand, I found the locals and the towns to be quite a culture shock, where the locals are constantly trying to swindle a buck or two off the tourists (and their own locals as well?) and the town is so dirty, poor, and noisy.
I can now understand why visitors would stay at a resort (even if it costs $300-$400 per person per day), because you get to enjoy the beautiful land and ocean without having to deal with the actual people that live there.

Here is a not so quick summary of our one week trip to Dominican Republic.
If you haven't arleady read an earlier post about our trip to the DR, read it here.

Getting Around:
Because we flew into Santo Domingo, which is a 3 hour drive from Punta Cana, we hired a driver to drive us to and from the airport.  I am really glad we did this since not only is driving 3 hours after spending almost 10 hours on an airplane really sucky, but driving in a foreign country where people drive like a bunch of maniacs is not safe either (you will see drivers disregarding the lines on the road, 5 people squished onto 1 motorcycle, cars at an intersection going at it like a free-for-all... it's complete chaos).

During our 8 day trip there, we also rented a car so we could get around Punta Cana.  While driving, we noticed that there were always people bunched up on the side walk next to speed bumps.  Turns out, people do that to try and hitch a ride on large trucks that have to slow down right before the speed bumps.  Like I said, the poor locals was a huge culture shock.

Things We Did:
Us folks with kids didn't do that much.  We went to the nearby beach twice (literally, a 1 minute walk from our condo), went to the Hard Rock Casino Resort twice (and we got food poisoning from the resort. More on that later), and we went out to dinner once (at Capitan Cook. I've never tasted seafood so fresh).  The folks without the kids did other stuff like cigar shopping and clubbin'. I thought I heard talk of some folks wanting to go zip lining but no one ended up doing that.  Jeff and I brought our snorkels but we didn't go snorkeling either.  Somehow, 8 days in Punta Cana just wasn't enough.

The lovely beach

The Wedding at Hard Rock:
Our cousin's wedding was held at the Hard Rock Casino Resort (I heard if you stay there for 4 nightsw, you get a free wedding?  Maybne we should renew our vows there?) and the night before the wedding, there was a cocktail hour at the resort.  Because it was held at a resort that we were not staying at, we had to buy a Day Pass to be able to enter the resort, and with the Day Pass, we would also have access to food and drinks and entertainment. The Day Pass was $90 per day per person, and unfortunately, since I had a grumpy baby in tow, I didn't get to use the Day Pass to my full advantage. 

The cocktail hour was held outdoors by this beautifully lit pool that had a shallow area that people waded through.  There was tray pass hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.  We got to mingle with the bride and groom to -be and their families and meet the fellow wedding guests.  Maybe an hour after arriving to the cocktail hour, Caitlin started crying a lot since it was past her bedtime, she was tired, and she was getting overstimulated from all the people trying to interact with her.  So Jeff dropped me and Caitlin off at the condo so I could put Caitlin to bed while Jeff returned back to the resort to eat dinner with the rest of the wedding gang.  I asked Jeff to bring me back some dinner but after waiting until 12:30am, I was done waiting for Jeff and crawled into bed.  Apparently Jeff had his own adventure after dropping me off... something about getting lost on the drive back to Hard Rock and all the restaurants except for 1 being closed at the resort. 
Stole this pic from the groom's facebook

The following day was the day of the wedding.  The ceremony was at 1pm on the beach at the resort.  From what I recall, the wedding must have started late because I thought we were going to be late to the wedding but once we arrived there, we still had to wait a bit before the ceremony started.  I was impressed by the number of wedding guests that attended considering that it was a destination wedding.  I would estimate, about... 60 people (could have sworn I saw 6 tables of 10 at the reception)?
The beach was so HOT since we were in DR and there was very little shade.  But by looking at the bride and groom, you couldn't tell how hot and humid it was since they looked stunning.  Jeff, Caitlin and I stood off on the side (with another family with a young baby) since we didn't want Caitlin to risk ruining the wedding.  Caitlin fussed a bit near the end but luckily, no one heard her. Phew!  I tried my best to keep Caitlin happy by feeding her some chilled bottled water (it was sooo frikin hot. geez) but it wasn't cutting it towards the end.  The entire ceremony lasted no more than 15 minutes (as I predicted!) and family photos followed afterward.  The reception was later in the evening so Caitlin and Olivia took an afternoon nap in the bride's parent's hotel room, then we all attended the reception.  The reception was a sit-down dinner with the typical events: first dance, toasts, cake cutting, dancing.  Our table was situated next to the speakers so we spent most of our time not at our dinner table since we didn't want the babies to go deaf.  As a result, I missed the cake that was served and someone swiped our wedding favors.  Towards the end of the wedding, after many of the guests had already left, Caitlin started getting exhausted and fussy so Jeff, Caitlin and I headed back to the condo while the rest of our group stayed to hang out with the bride & groom and their family.  I feel a bit bad that I didn't get to mingle with them on either of the days, but with a young baby that needs to sleep and she cannot sleep on-the-go, it's hard.

I stole this picture too

The Food:
After a week in DR, I still can't figure out what the local cuisine is there.
We did take-out for dinner on a few of the days, and for one meal it was Italian seafood and risotto (Italian cuisine), one meal was empanadas (Portuguese cuisine), and another meal was... I don't even know what that was... it was something like grilled fish and chicken sandwich and french fries (an attempt at American cuisine?).  The one meal that we did eat at a restaurant (Capitan Cook) didn't seem to belong to any cuisine, it was simply seafood (which you pick and choose while raw, kind of like at a super market) then they grill it for you.

The food that we ate at the Hard Rock Casino resort was typical resort/cruise line/cafeteria food: American.
The remainder of the trip, we went grocery shopping at the Super Mercado and cooked in our condo.

And after this trip, I have one piece of advice for you:  Don't eat resort food! 
After eating food from the local shacks, restaurants and grocery stores, we were all fine.  No tummy issues.  Towards the end of our trip, when we ate at the Hard Rock Resort for the wedding, 4 out of 7 of us in our party (me being one of them) got sick with food poisoning.  We were all still feeling the effects of it for 1-2 weeks after our trip.  It's kind of odd since usually, travelers are advised to avoid local food & drinks and to only eat resort food/drinks.  It should really be the other way around.
Upon returning home, the ill people got antibiotics and probiotics to remedy their tummy troubles except for me.  I was too busy and tired dealing with Caitlin's jet lag and swaddle weaning that I didn't even have time to think or deal with my stomach problem.  There were several times that I had to dump Caitlin somewhere while she wailed for 30 minutes while I sat on the toilet.  When I emerged from the bathroom, I simply got on with my day and didn't even think about my stomach issues until the next time it churned.  It was sad times for the two of us. 

The Flight Back -- this day was a doozy:
The day we traveled back home was hectic!  No one had time to eat!  Jeff and I were up for almost 24 hours the day we returned home.
The day all started at 6am when Caitlin woke up due to the sunrise (which led her to wake at 3am CA time when we returned from our trip).  After feeding her we started packing since we couldn't pack the night before as we returned late from the wedding so we put Caitlin straight to bed.  We can't pack with her in the bedroom -- she would wake up.  We checked out of the condo at 8am even though we were still in the middle of scrambling to clean up the condo at that time.  Around 8:30am, we left for our 3 hour drive back to the Santo Domingo airport.
Once at the airport, we had to wade through the crowds and find our proper place to check-in and board.  We had no down time eat or use the restroom since by the time we made it through security (they made me remove Caitlin from my baby carrier and scan the baby carrier before going through the metal detector. wtf? You don't have to do this in the U.S.  Maybe they have no idea what a baby carrier is and thought it was a bomb), it was time to board our flight.  And of course, I was "randomly selected" for a more thorough check before boarding the plane, so the plane was waiting for me.  I say "randomly selected" since the only people selected were people that didn't look Dominican/dark skinned.  The flight to NY went smoothly, Caitlin slept like an angel (it just so happened that the flight coincided with her usual nap time) while I watched "The Five-Year Engagement" and Jeff watched "Snow White and the Huntsman".  
 SDQ --> JFK
When we landed in NY, we didn't have a gate so we had to wait while they prepared for a shuttle to shuttle us off the plane to the gate.  Once we finally arrived at the gate, we had to go through Immigration.  The line for US Citizens was LOOONG but luckily, our family and Connie's family got to go into the "family" line which was very short.  We were in and out of there quickly.
While we waited for the rest of our party (who were not in the "family" line), we got our luggage from baggage claim. (Since it was an international flight, they didn't automatically transfer our luggage to our connecting flight).  After waiting around forever for the rest of our party, we decided to continue on to our next flight since our connecting flight was earlier than the other folk's flight.  After we went through customs and re-checked in our bags for our connecting flights, we were greeted by a long TSA line.  At this point, we realized that our connecting flight was already boarding (for some reason, we thought our flight was at 8pm but it was really at 7pm) so TSA let us go through the fast lane.  If it wasn't for the family-line at Immigration, we would have surely missed our flight -- traveling with kids does have its perks! 
After getting through security, Jeff and I tried to run as fast as we could to our gate, and holy shit, I had no idea JFK was that large.  We were running and running and the airport just kept getting bigger and bigger!  I heard "final boarding" for our flight on the overhead speaker and I was freaking out -- with a baby, I absolutely don't want to miss my flight.  Jeff was able to run but I had so much trouble as I was holding a baby and trying to hold my diaper bag and pull a rolling carry on.  Thank god one of those golf carts that drives old people around stopped and told me "Get in the cart!".  I hesitated for 1 second, glanced at Jeff who was already a speck in the distance, then hopped into the cart.  I told everyone "thanks" for stopping to pick me up and that that my flight was about to leave.  The kind elderly folks on the cart asked the driver to skip their gates and take me straight to mine.  I explained to everyone about my tight connecting flight from an international flight, and others shared to me their stories of how the airport also screwed them over in the past while flying with a baby.  I was dropped off at my gate, waved goodbye to my new friends, telling them I would "hug them all if I had the time", and boarded the plane.  Jeff arrived about 30 seconds after I arrived. We plopped into our seats exhausted and defeated.  The plane took a while taking off, but luckily, Caitlin was in high spirits and the air pressure change during take off didn't bother her at all. When Caitlin's fuse eventually ran out and started crying, I nursed her on the boppy and she slept the entire flight (it just so happened that the flight coincided with her bed time).
When the plane landed, there wasn't a gate for us so we had to wait on the damn plane for an additional hour! Argh!  My coccyx hurt so bad from sitting in the same position for 7 hours.  It was past 11pm by the time we arrived at the gate.  After picking up our luggage and getting a ride home from Jeff's co worker, we arrived home past midnight.  After settling in and putting Caitlin to bed, we had our first meal of the day -- instant ramen.  By the time we showered and crawled into bed, it was past 2am.  Remember we started our day at 6am EST (which is 3am PST), that meant we were up for nearly 24 hours.  It was a really long day, but it was great to be home.

I already put in a lot of time uploading the pictures to Picasa so you're going to have to look at them over there.
Punta Cana - Dominican Republic

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has come and gone and we have the exact same amount of candy as when we started, since we completely missed the trick-o-treaters! 
That's what happens when you take your kid out trick o treating for the first time and you forget to leave a bowl of candy out on your door step.
Well, we actually made off with more candy than when we started since Caitlin got some yummy candies while trick o treating.
I read online that the shelf life of hard candies is a year (even longer for gobstoppers, which we have a bunch of), so perhaps we can re-use these candies next year?  lol.

Here are our Halloween pictures.  Jeff and I didn't dress up, but Caitlin was a baby elephant this year.  We actually already have her costume for next year too -- ladybug costume from Carters, which I got for 70% off, with an additional 15% off since the tights were missing.

 On all fours like an elephant

I carved the large pumpkin.  It's supposed to be The Count (from Sesame Street).  It doesn't really look like him so you're really going to need to use your imagination. 
For some reason, I thought Jeff's favorite Sesame Street character was The Count, but I got all mixed up.  He actually likes Oscar the Grouch.
Jeff carved Caitlin's mini pumpkin, Cookie Monster, which is Caitlin's favorite.

Trick o treating for the first time.

Caitlin holding her own Halloween bucket, which is filled with candies! 
No, I didn't help her hold it.  She is just that strong.

So happy trick o treating

Caitlin's neighbor/BFF, Peggy 

Family picture!