Casualty of Vacation

There are many things that an iPhone or any smart phone, can do. It can let you talk face to face with someone across the globe. You can do your research and write your thesis with it. You can check the weather of any place around the world, even on Mars. It can be your personal secretary and will remind you of your appointments and special events.

But one thing an iPhone can’t do. It cannot swim. That I learned first hand.

We were in Palawan, Philippines, and were doing island hopping. Yes we hopped like bunnies on islands. No, we did not.


no bunnies hopping here

Anyway, we were visiting this one particular island, and I wanted to get a better photo of my son while he was in the water. So I waded in the waist-deep ocean water with our SLR camera in hand, trying so very carefully to keep it above my chest so it would not get wet.

But I forgot that my iPhone was in the pocket of my swimming shorts!

Call it a senior moment. Call it forgetful. Call it distracted. But in our vernacular, we also have a term for it: Tanga! (And it does not mean underwear.)

So my iPhone swam in the ocean. And it drowned.


where my phone took a swim

Right after I realized what happened, I turned off the phone immediately like what I heard from self-proclaimed experts. I wished to do mouth to mouth resuscitation on it, but I knew it was of no use.

I also heard of putting the phone in uncooked rice right away to try to draw out the moisture, just as what I’ve seen in some videos before. Though I don’t really know if that was proven effective. But we were on an island. The only rice we had, was left-over cooked rice from our lunch. I don’t think that would do.

Several hours later, after we’re done from our island hopping, and we’re back in our hotel, me and my nephew tried to do surgery on my phone. My nephew had a kit to open iPhones, though I’m not sure why he carry along these particular tools.

So we opened up my phone, and tried to shake off the salt water inside. We blew it dry with a hair dryer. Yet I could already see signs of damage inside it.


hospital, ah…er, hotel for iPhone surgery

The salvage surgery was unsuccessful. No signs of life in my phone. It was dead on arrival.

I left my phone turned off for several days, still hoping that it will resurrect to life. After a week, and only after we got back in the US, that I brought my iPhone to the Apple store, in their Genius Bar.

After running diagnostics on my phone, it confirmed what I knew all along. My phone was dead.

They cannot even retrieve any data from it, including all my photos. My videos and photos of me on the zip-line were gone, and now I have no proof that I did it.


zip-line where the iPhone rode

I tried to rationalize my loss. Well, it was a 4-year-old phone with a 4-year-behind technology. I needed an upgrade and I was planning to replace it soon anyway. Yet, I have drawn attached to that phone, sentimentally and literally. I never left home without it for the past 4 years.

I guess, I have nobody to blame but me. Or maybe I could blame the iPhone engineers, on why they did not teach the iPhone to swim. Even in ocean waters.

Maybe the next generation of iPhones will. I hope they teach it how to fly too, in case it fall off while I’m zip-lining or bungee jumping.

Um, about bungee jumping….. I think I’ll pass.


In Loving Memory of my iPhone: October 2011- August 2015 

Autumn Camping

Summer is gone and autumn is upon us. Though last weekend our family and our friends still went out for a camping trip. Maybe this will be the last hurrah for this season before our temperature dips down to bitterly cold range.

We drove down to Lacey-Keosauqua State Park which is about 2 hours from Des Moines. This state park is one of the biggest and most picturesque in Iowa. “Keosauqua” is a Native American term meaning “the stream bearing a floating mass of snow, slush or ice.” Though no snow yet when we were there.

Autumn camping has a different appeal due to the awesome color of the surrounding nature.

fall foliage with its peak color

You may argue that it was not a true camping since we did not sleep in tents. Instead we stayed in small rustic cabins. The cabins were complete with a toilet, shower, heater/air conditioner, refrigerator, stove, microwave and sofa beds. What else can you ask for? A jacuzzi maybe?

our comfy cabin

camping is not complete without a campfire

When I went out for my morning jog, I can hear a lot of movement and rustling in the woods. I know I was not alone. But before you think that there were fairies and supernatural creatures in this forest, it was not that. What I mean were forest animals. In this case, there were deers.

can you spot the three deer?

more deer crossing

There was a lot of hiking trails in this park. And I believe the best way to enjoy nature is by hiking through the woods. And that’s what we did.

hiking trail

We encountered these ghostly creatures in this enchanted forest. OK they were just our kids in a “jumping” photo.

stony path

Our hike led us to the lake. The water was so serene. With the fall-colored foliage reflecting on the water, it was really beautiful. There was even a beach. Alright, alright, it’s probably not a beach that you picture in your mind just like in Hawaii. But still, it is a beach with a sandy shore.


downward pathway leading to the lake


fall colors reflection in the water

my son and his friend in the beach

The following day, we headed down to a nearby bigger lake. This time we did not just stay on the banks of the lake, we went into the waters. No, not swimming. We went canoeing.

my son and I in one canoe

we even did some fishing

flock of geese flying over the lake

our friends in the other canoe

our friends in the other canoe

my daughter and her friends in another canoe

After almost two hours paddling and fishing, how much fish do you think we caught? A big fat zero! And we thought we can have a freshly caught grilled fish for lunch. O well, we settled for egg-salad sandwich instead.

our canoes side by side

It was a great camping trip and it sure was fun. We may have not caught any fish, but we still do have a lot of stories to tell. (And pictures to show too.) Until the next adventure.

(*all photos taken with iPhone)

Home Vacation

I will be working this Christmas. However, I cannot really complain too much, as the last time I was on-call on Christmas day was more than 5 years ago. It’s bound to happen.

Before I turned green and become a Grinch, I decided to take a holiday off a couple of weeks early than the real Holiday season. We did not go anywhere in particular for my week’s vacation though. Instead I just cooled my heels at home, hang out with my kids all day (they are home-schooled), and be a full day teacher and child care for a few days. Moreover,  I spent a couple of late nights watching movies at home with my wife, after the kids are tucked-in in their beds.

I also did some things around the house that needs fixing. But before you admire my handyman’s skills, what I meant fixing, was replacing a couple of lightbulbs. I helped with some Christmas decorating in our home too, which includes bringing the Christmas tree home from the farm, and hanging lights in our roof (yes roof!) using my newly bought (I got myself for Christmas) versatile and “complicated” ladder that turns into 4 different positions (you can fall from this ladder more than 4 different ways too!). And shopping? I left that to my wife, while I watched the kids.

I would say that overall, my week off was one of the more relaxed vacation that I had for a while, not to mention less expensive too. This just proved that we don’t need to go anywhere “special” for vacation for it to be enjoyable. What matters is whom we spend it with.

iWork, iPlay, iPay

Having a recent vacation myself, I can say that coming back to work after a time off can be at times difficult. Sometimes your trip is so exhausting that you need a vacation from a vacation.

So you’re back at work, but your mind is still on vacation mode. You forget all your passwords to get into your office computer. You forget your officemates’ and employees’ names. And sometimes you even forget how to do your work!

Many times you wish you could extend your vacation, until you get all the bills you racked-up during your leisure trip, then that will kick you back into work, work, work mode once again. You even sing the 7 dwarfs’ song: “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go, I owe, I owe!”

If  we only look forward to having a vacation to get out of our work, or we only work to pay for our vacation, then I believe something is wrong.  We just live in a vicious cycle and we are not living right.

“We work to become, not to acquire.” – Elbert Hubbard