Sunday. Attended the Chinese school's Thanksgiving program, which included a talent show by the kids and a raffle. Melinda and I bought raffle tickets but intentionally didn't use them -- we didn't need any more things. But Yulin wanted to win some things so she entered us on our behalf. And we won: a plate, a vase, and a nice glass vase + glass flowers. The program also involved a potluck dinner with a light Thanksgiving theme (eg, someone brought Turkey and stuffing but many dishes were just "food").
Monday. Jim worked during the day and Melinda and I slept in until around 11 or noon. We went to the local mall to shop for clothes -- Yulin likes to buy clothes for Melinda. In the afternoon we also went to Best Buy, I bought a wireless router and I set up the house wireless service. Dinner was at home, a combination of some dishes Yulin prepared and some meat dishes bought from a nearby Chinese restaurant.
Tuesday. Melinda and I visited Scofield magnet middle school, the incarnation of the middle school Melinda attended several years ago (it had a different name, and building, then). Melinda spoke to the science classes about biology and research and I answered questions about Google to 12-year-olds in a technology classes. The kids in the tech class were more wound up than those in the biology class -- maybe because they get to play with computers in the classroom. In each of the four classes of ~20 students I spoke to I had at least one or two students who asked some good questions and who seemed sharper than average. But 6th grade isn't when kids are really interested in knowing how Google works -- they just want to know if I've seen the Chuck Norris facts on Google or if I work on Google Doodles.
Wednesday. Lazy day, like most of them. Melinda, Edwin, and I go to Barnes & Noble in the mall and shop for a while; I bought a book about codes. We visit a cupcake store (Crumbs) on the way home. Late afternoon Yulin checks in with a couple of students from Bridgeport University, where she teaches, to see if they want to come over for Thanksgiving. Turns out they do, so we decide we should get a turkey dinner after all. Surprisingly to me, one can, in fact, find a pre-cooked (and frozen) complete Thanksgiving meal on the afternoon before Thanksgiving. So we buy a box of T-day dinner and start it to thawing in the sink.
Thursday. We spent the first half of the day making the house ready for guests, and getting food heated. Even a pre-cooked turkey needs to be cooked again for a few hours to warm it all the way through. Edwin picks up the Japanese students, they arrive around 2p, and we begin covering the table with food then, too. In all we have: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, gravy, cranberry sauce. Egg drop soup, pork and tofu, green beans, salad. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and ice cream. More food than we could eat in several days. It's all very good. After dinner we assemble the Christmas tree in the living room. It comes already wired with lights (and no strings are out!), and we take the 15 minutes to cover it with ornaments and garland. With Jim, Yulin, Edwin, Melinda, me, Taka, and Masa all decking the tree it gets done quickly. We idle for a little while, and Jim speaks Japanese with our guests, which impresses them. Then they head off. I suggest we watch a movie so Edwin and I go out in search of Redbox. We find one, find it doesn't have Cars 2, but we pick up Captain America instead. I use my phone to find a nearby Redbox that does have Cars 2, we pick it up, and watch it this evening. Cute movie, but I can see why Cars was a bigger hit than Cars 2. Movie's over around 11 and we all head to bed.
Friday. Jim goes to work again and the rest of us go shopping again. But we don't go shopping at the crazy hours -- we reach the mall by maybe 3p. Edwin spends the time at the bookstore again and Melinda, Yulin, and I shop for clothes. I find a nice t-shirt and Melinda finds several nice garments. We end with a visit to Ann Taylor where Yulin's neighbor Mona works. Mona helps us find some items and then we head off. We also spend a little bit of time Friday just being outside. I take a walk around the neighborhood and take some photos, in part just to practice using the 75-300mm zoom lens for my camera. The four of us also head to Cove Island Park, a park on Cove Harbor which is part of Long Island sound. It's pleasant to walk along the beach -- we see a few people and a few birds, it's sunny but not warm, and the trees are partly fallen of leaves. In the evening Jim arrives and we go out to dinner with the neighbors, Ray and Mona. We typically visit with them when Melinda and I are back, at least for a few hours, and our visit this time is at a restaurant. Back home later, we watch our other movie, Captain America. It's fun to watch if somewhat predictable. Curiously, the movie ends with a trailer for an upcoming movie in 2012. Melinda and I will probably see it come next summer.
Saturday. Before bed Friday night I check our schedule and we correct our statements from earlier: our flight leaves around 6p, not 3p -- we have three more hours than expected. So we have a slow rise Saturday, and I play a round of Dominion with Edwin. Yulin just finishes all the hemming and adjustments to the clothes she's bought for Melinda. Jim is outside raking leaves, Ray comes over to help, so I head out to help them as well, and Edwin follows. This is the first time I've used a leaf blower -- it's sort of fun to have a really big fan at your disposal. The procedure for leaf care in Stamford is to collect them from one's yard and deposit them in big piles on the street side of the curb. The city later comes by to pick them up. So we collect leaves into piles, transfer piles to the street by means of a tarp and garbage can, and make a long windrow of leaves in the street. Around 3:30 Edwin, Yulin, Melinda, and I head toward NYC for our flight. We stop in Flushing to pick up buns and some other food for dinner on the flight - the dinner proves very nice. Melinda and I have no trouble taking it all through security. At the gate we check our bags at the last minute, when the gate attendant offers (no fee that way), because our bags are kind of large and we're in the last group to board. Turns out, we wouldn't have had a problem - the flight has many empty seats, including the three that are in the row ahead of us. Oh, well. I watch some TV and doze a bit, Melinda does some school grading and preparation, and time passes. We collect the bags at SFO, take a cab home, and find that the apartments are just as we'd left them the week before. Home again.