Sunday, July 20, 2014

Free flights to Tokyo on American Airlines

It’s time for our next international trip!  We both work very hard to earn more, save more, and invest more.  Taking regular vacations help us lower our stress levels and increase our happiness.  We are looking forward to traveling to Japan and Taiwan in November 2014!

We will be flying from LAX (Los Angeles) to HND (Tokyo, Japan) and stay in Tokyo for 6 days.  Next, we will fly to TPE (Taipei, Taiwan) and will be staying in Taipei for 5 days.   We will then continue onwards to OKA (Okinawa, Japan) and will stay there for 4 to 5 days before returning home. 

We are conservative with our miles and points
As soon as we got approved for time off work, we began to search for the best way to utilize our miles.  While many people get satisfaction from using their miles and points to fly first class, we are much more conservative and are happy to fly economy (which in our opinion already has lots of its own luxuries).  We treat our miles and points just like cash, and are very conservative with them.  This being said, I’m not condemning the use of miles and points to fly on premium airline seats: if you have the miles, you’re entitled to use them anyway you wish.  We have considered “splurging” with some of our miles on business class seats for our flight home. 

Today I will share how we are flying to Tokyo, Japan for nearly free using some American Airlines miles! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My last bike riding update (for a while)

For the last few months, I’ve had a great time commuting to the office on my bike a few times each week.

While I did not save a significant amount of money on gas, I definitely felt a great improvement in my overall health.  I’ve been less tired during the day and have been able to sleep better at night.  My clothes fit better, and I’ve felt my energy and stamina levels increase significantly.

I want to share some bike riding updates with you all.

My wife got into a bike accident
Several months ago, a car hit my wife while she was riding to work.  A driver did not see my wife crossing the street and drove his car right into her.  She ended up on the hood of the car before rolling off after the driver stopped.  She was wearing a helmet and luckily did not suffer any head trauma. There were many witnesses and the driver did not try to flee.

A good samaritan called me on behalf of my wife.  This was one of the most frightening moments in my life.  That same morning, I was also riding my bike to my office and was about half way there.  My wife was crying on the phone and her voice sounded frantic.  I only heard her blurt out that she was “hit by a car” and that she was going to be “taken by an ambulance to the hospital.”  She was immediately rushed to the emergency room.

The helpful by bystander took the phone away from my wife and calmly explained what had happened.  She told me that my wife couldn’t move and that the ambulance was taking my wife to the nearby hospital emergency room for X-rays.  I immediately turned my bike around and started riding home as fast as possible.

I arrived at the emergency room in time to see my wife strapped head down to a long board, on the way to get complete X-rays of her body.  The doctors couldn’t allow her to move until X-rays were done.  The doctors were looking for broken bones or spinal damage. 

We were both very relieved to find out that my wife did not have any broken bones or fractures.  Instead, my wife’s body suffered from significant deep tissue and bone bruising, as well as cuts all over her legs and back.  Coincidentally, another unlucky biker was also hit by a car the same day.  She was brought into the emergency room and placed in the area next to us.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to kill wasps with household products

Disclaimer: I am not an entomologist nor am I a pest control specialist.  I’m just a regular guy who decided to take care of a wasp problem on my own.  Do this at your own risk.
Wasp picture taken from Wikipedia
When I came home from the office the other day, I heard a faint buzzing above me.  As I looked up, I noticed a small colony of wasps diligently building a nest under a small section of my roof eave.  I could tell these were wasps flying overhead, since they were thinner and longer than bees.  My first thought was, “I better look up the number to call a pest control exterminator.”  Then I came to my senses and had a second thought: “How can I take care of this problem myself?”

As a homeowner, I’ve learned to try to take care of as many simple projects around the home as possible, before resorting to calling “professionals” for help.  It’s so easy just to hire someone to do work for you, but it can cost money as well.  I called a few pest control companies in my area, and received quotes of $100 to $150 for someone to come over and take care of the problem. 

Different types of wasps
I used the internet to help me determine what type of wasp we were dealing with.   I’ve always known that one of the big differences between bees and wasps is that wasps can sting several times, over and over again, while bees cannot.  I found out that I was dealing with a type of Vespid wasp, which includes paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets.  I discovered this great summary on how to tell the difference between different wasps here.
Chart taken from insect page
Paper wasps are the most common stinging pest problem at home.  They have long legs and can be aggressive stingers.  Paper wasps tend to build open multi-celled nests suspended from overhangs and roof eaves.  They live in smaller colonies, less than 100.

Yellow Jackets are bold and aggressive wasp species.  They make nests underground or in an enclosed location.  They live in large colonies of over 100 wasps.  They will mark aggressors and will pursue them if provoked.

Hornet stings are typically more painful than stings from other wasps as their venom is more potent.  They make large “football shaped” nests in trees.

Killing wasps
Now that I knew what I was dealing with, I did a quick youtube search on “how to get rid of wasp nests naturally.”  I did not like the idea of buying dangerous chemicals to spray around our home.  The first video that came up was this one.  The publisher of the video used a simple mixture of water, dishwasher soap, and peppermint oil in a spray bottle.  I decided to try the same method.
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