Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bummer #3

While most people are having time off for Christmas and New Years vacation - I am and have been working every week day except Christmas and New Years day.

The reason for this is two-fold. 1) I am trying to catch up to my schedule on a particular task. 2) I'm gaining time off to use when child #3 is born.

So I'm glad to be able to (hopefully) catch up with my project and also to have more time off for a new baby. But it still sucks for now.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bummer #2


No, this is not related to my accident (Big Bummer) in any way. I just had a cyst on the back of my head that I finally decided to have lanced on Monday morning. When they removed it, it was about the size of a plum pit.

Since your scalp has many capillaries and is thus prone to bleed a lot, the doctor requested/suggested that continuous pressure be applied to the wound in order to prevent bleeding. Thus the silly bandage.

You should have seen Amanda's face when I came home wearing it though - her eyes were as big as saucers. It figures that she would have already scheduled a few friends to come over that evening too. Welcome to the freak show!

The picture below is of the wound and the stitches. And I must warn you - it's not pretty!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Big Bummer



BAD -
As you can see from the pictures above - I wrecked my car last Friday.

It has been at least 10 years since my last accident, but I was hoping to make that record a bit longer (yes, I know most people go their whole lives without one).

Here's how it happened - I was driving in the rain and ended up breaking the back tires loose just after shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. That hasn't phased me in the past and I would normally just straighten it out without any problem. But the road wasn't straight (curved to the right), or even level (slightly uphill), so I guess I was already slightly steered to the right and the weight of the car just pulled it farther and faster than I could counter, or something like that. I wish I could replay it and really see what went wrong, but oh well.

Anyway - I ended up up jumping a curb and over a small ditch, Dukes of Hazzard style, then down an otherwise unseen muddy little access road (cue Dixie car horn).

The bottom line is that while I wasn't hot dogging or driving foolishly, I wasn't cautious enough either. It definitely could have been avoided if I had respected the wet roads a little more...

... or maybe if I had all-wheel-drive. Maybe that's the solution instead - an Audi, an Evo, or a WRX! Then I could drive with reckless abandon worry-free! (yeeee - haw!)

WORSE -
Now here comes the really sucky part of the story. When I called my insurance company to request a tow and to report the accident, they informed me that I don't have either tow coverage or collision coverage on that car - only liability. I was completely dumfounded. There I was, sitting in my car, on the side of the road, with my cell phone in my hand, staring blankly with my mouth open like a psyche patient gone catatonic.

"What are you talking about?" I finally managed to say. "I have the tow card right here in my hand with my policy number on it." "That's for the coverage on your other car" the lady explained.

After talking with them further, the best I can figure is that shortly after purchasing my car I had it on jackstands in the garage for about a year while I replaced the clutch, fuel injectors, and made some upgrades while I was at it. During that time I reported the car to the DMV as not being driven and also reduced my insurance coverage to the bare minimal. And when it was road-worthy again I did remember to restore my registration, but I guess I forgot to increase the insurance coverage.

So I had to pay $300 for the tow. And now I have to determine a) if the car is even repairable or if it's relished to junkyard/parts car status (the frame may be bent), and b) if it is repairable how much more will it cost me to be able to drive it again. And all out of pocket.

The one small sliver of good news is that I calculated that we have saved about $800 in insurance fees over the last 4 years. So when combining that with the $500 deductible, if the repairs cost less than $1300 then I will have actually saved money in the long haul.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Work Christmas Parties

Last weekend (I know it's sad that I'm just now posting about it) were the Christmas parties for both my job, and Amanda's job (she works a few hours each week at our church). Both were memorable, but there were many highlights from my company's party, including...
  • The food was absolutely excellent, with plenty of tasty appetizers, a great selection and quality for the main course, and scrumptious desserts as well.

  • The open bar was nice, even if I don't take advantage of it as much as most guys did. I did enjoy a Whiskey Sour, a glass of wine, and a shot of Tequila (along with a dozen other employees, all at once). The drinks were spread out throughout the night though, so I didn't even feel any affect from them.

  • The scavenger hunt was fun, but our table got robbed. We actually came in 2nd place on points, but the DJ used a dance off as a tiebreaker for 3rd place to somehow screw us over. Our theory is that my boss' table either wins or places every year, so the DJ just wanted to let someone else win for a change.

  • They also had two raffle drawings - one for the employees and one for their guests. Well, Amanda and I won something from both of the drawings. Our prizes were a Happy Feet DVD (a kid's movie with penguins that we've never seen before), and a $25 gift card for Shell gas (which we used on the way home).
We don't get out much, let alone go places that give us a reason to dress up too, then prizes to boot! It was a fun and blessed evening.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Evacuation Complete

On Wednesday my company had an emergency evacuation drill - and the timing of it couldn't have been any worse, occurring just a few seconds after having sat down on the ceramic throne. And let me tell you, the alarm is freakin' loud in there! After finally finishing up my "task", I ended up being one of the last people to exit the building.

Oh, and did anyone get the reference to Austin Powers in the title?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Calculations

I read an interesting news article today about Jesus' birth. Using computer calculations, astronomers can track the exact location of the planets in our solar system at any point in the last several thousand years of time.

In doing so, it was realized that on June 17 in the year 2BC the planets were aligned such that both Venus and Jupiter were almost overlapping each other relevant to Earth's location. The two planets together would have shone with a great intensity and could very well be what was described in the Bible as the star representing Jesus' birth.

You can read the full article here.

Hard Core!?

I played basketball today in 40 degree weather, wearing just shorts and a double layer of t-shirts.

In addition to having numb hands and stiff muscles and joints from the cold, my legs were really sore from working out with weights yesterday too.

I wouldn't say that it was one of my better days of ballin', but all things considered it wasn't one of my worse ones either.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Black Beauty

I recently went to our local Nissan dealership to look into ordering some parts for my 300ZX. As I pulled up, there was the usual flock of annoying salesmen circling around, like vultures over a dying beast. I walked toward the building, ready to reenact the scene from Airplane with Rex Kramer and the religious zealots.

After one of them greets me, I immediately state that I'm headed for the parts department. Then he says "You drive that Z, right? You might want to take the long way around", and points toward the front door of the dealership.

I take his advice, and as I round the corner I see a shiny black metallic glow and I'm pretty sure that I heard the hallelujah choir sing their high note. There it is - a brand new pitch black Nissan GT-R. All of the adrenaline and testosterone rush that my heart desires, right there in front of me! If I had that, I could not only be the ruler of the streets, but the whole world too! Mwuahahaha!

So I promptly decided to sell my 300Z, our house, the few retirement accounts we have, and possibly the kids into slavery too. As I was signing the papers though, I realized that I would probably miss my family, not to mention having a roof over my head. So I finally snapped out of it, proceeded to wipe the drool off of my chin with my sleeve, and returned on my path to the parts department.

When I was finished there, I sat back down in my 91' 300Z with 135k miles, started it up, and headed home. And I thanked God for the blessing that it is. Maybe, I thought, I'll keep the kids after all. And then I began thinking about what modifications I could do to make my Z an even faster blessing! Maybe eventually, with enough time and effort, I could even beat a GT-R! Mwuahahahah! Snort.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Annual Reviews - for Marriages?

Well, it's that time of year for employees at my company and at others across the nation - performance reviews. I have filled out and submitted mine, and I am now eagerly (or not) anticipating feedback from my peers and superiors for my job performance over the last year.

In addition to my review at work, I recently sat down with our roommate to discuss how things are going with her. She's been living with us for over 6 months now, and not only was I interested in her perspective, but I also wanted to mention a few marginal improvements I am hoping she will work on.

Although I have been in positions of leadership before, I had never sat down with someone to give them a "review". I think it went well, but the next day I thought about a new twist on this idea - what if marriages had an annual review? What if we scheduled a recurring date to exchange honest feedback about our performance as spouses?

I think it's a great idea! There are two problems that I can foresee though - 1) Both sides would have to be willing and able to accept criticism, otherwise what's the point really? 2) I can't think of any viable consequences for negative feedback. Firing them isn't an option, nor is not giving them a raise.

What do you think readers (crickets chirping)?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas Question

What would Christmas be like if you could redo it completely, starting from scratch? No presents, no Christmas trees, no Santa, no ornaments, lights, holly, mistletoe - just erase all of it and start over.

With all of that stuff gone, all you have left is Jesus' birthday, right? So now what can you think of to do on Christmas day to celebrate it? What traditions, if any, would you now want to start with your family?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend Details

Thanksgiving weekend was fun filled and eventful, including the following activities:
  • I arranged a boyz night out on the town on Wednesday night. One of them suggested going to Old Town Roseville. For such a small-town downtown, I was pretty impressed. They have six clubs within a 1/2 mile square area and we hit each of them that night, since none of them were charging a cover. We got drinks at two of them, played darts in another, then played pool in yet another one. We just walked into and back out of the others to check them out. I can't remember the last time I went club/bar hopping, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

  • Amanda and I ran/walked in a 10K on Thursday morning, in the Run For the Hungry. Unfortunately, Amanda wrenched her ankle on the way to the starting line. She's tough as nails though, so she still wanted to run it. We had originally planned to do the 5K, but that crowd was so thick that it was difficult to maneuver the double jogger though it. Since we were both feeling good at the point where the two routes split, we decided to participate in the 10K instead. About halfway through though, Amanda's ankle was bothering her again - along with her leg, knee, hip on that side (probably from favoring the ankle). So we walked a good portion of the 2nd half.

  • Our family ate Thanksgiving dinner with another family from church, Greg and Elise Winter, and their son Zachary. They invited us over to their house and made some absolutely incredible food. And Marilyn's (another guest they invited over) cheese cake was some of the best I have ever tasted too.

  • We actually joined the fray on Friday to purchase a multi-purpose HP printer from Best Buy and I got a little taste of man heaven at Harbor Freight Tools. The coupon prices were phenomenal, so I bought a decent amount of various tools and project helpers for only $40 total.

Thanksgiving Dinner Pictures

Ok, not really. These are pictures of toxic sludge that I cleaned out from my sink drain over the weekend. It gets so full of this nasty goo that the water barely drains anymore.

<-- The drain stopper.

This is the second time that I've cleaned it in the two years that we've been here. The only thing that could possibly be causing this is a combination of shaving stubble, toothpaste, soap, some leave-in conditioner, and perhaps the hard California water?

The drain.-->

But we've been in two other houses for five years prior to this one, and my cleaning and preening routine has never caused a problem such as this one before. So what's different now - the plumbing in this house? The water?

<-- The trap.

All I do know is that the sludge that results from cleaning it is some of the grossest, nastiest looking junk that I have ever seen. Thankfully, at least it doesn't smell bad too.


Oh, and our Thanksgiving was actually really awesome. Our friends from church, Greg and Elise Winter, invited us over to their house for dinner. They made some absolutely incredible food. And Marilyn's (another guest they invited over) cheese cake was some of the best I have ever tasted too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Jesus I Can Worship

This is a great quote from pastor Mark Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church in Seattle:

There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up. I fear some are becoming more cultural than Christian, and without a big Jesus who has authority and hates sin as revealed in the Bible, we will have less and less Christians, and more and more confused, spiritually self-righteous blogger critics of Christianity.

—Mark Driscoll, Relevant Magazine[10]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pet Peeves

  • Computer keyboards with the little legs in the back propped up. How is it more comfortable or healthy to type with your hands in an upright position? Try this - place your arms in the normal 90 degree typing position - now lift just your hands as high as you can and try maneuvering your fingers as if you are typing. Ok, now place your hands level so that they are in line with your arms and pretend you are typing again. Now why on Earth would anyone prefer to have their keyboard angled up using the little legs in the back?
  • DVRs. Digital Video Recorders (Tivo is probably the most common) - I know they're wildly popular, and I definitely see the advantages, especially since you can avoid watching the commercials on TV shows. But I wonder how much more TV on average that people watch once they get a DVR. Everyone that I have talked to watches a significantly larger amount. Which would make it one of the greatest and yet one of the most evil inventions since, well, since the TV.

    Can anyone/everyone who has a DVR please either confirm or deny this?

  • Speaking of TV - SAY IT AIN'T SO! Mad TV is canceled!? That really stinks, since it's one of only two shows that I really enjoy watching, the other being The Office. (not really a pet peeve, just a disappointment).

  • Churches that make up their own dumb religion, such as this one - The Madonna of Orgasm Church is on it's way to official recognition in Sweden. Here's a quote from the founder “The orgasm is God, the orgasm should be worshiped”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Computer Kids


Yep, as the above picture demonstrates, my son can use the computer now. First he set up his own Windows login and started playing World of Warcraft after downloading the BitTorrrent. Then he started his own blog, set up a Linux server, and finally hacked into the DMV.

Ok, so maybe navigating around Playhouse Disney and moving Pluto through a musical maze isn't quite the same thing as writing SSIs using Java. But the kid is only 3 1/2, so maybe by the time he starts school...

As for Emily, she's not ready to take control of the mouse just yet, but she enjoys watching her brother and offering her assistance whenever possible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lucious Links

I recently finished reading two more books, and the reviews for them are on my web page at:
http://www.thelomonacofamily.com/thoughts/reviews_books.html

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A 30 minute video from my co-worker Heath, about the current financial crisis of the U.S:
http://www.iousathemovie.com

No matter where you stand politically,
EVERYONE IN AMERICA REALLY NEEDS TO SEE THIS!

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The link below is to a chilling true story, as told by the man who experienced it. http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2008/11/10/657854/bloodyelbow-com-exclusive

Reading his account is more powerful to me than listening to the 911 call, but the two parts tell the whole story well. Since I have a boy about the same age as his, reading about his son's reaction to the incident got me teary eyed.

It's definitely inspirational to improve on my home's security and on my personal self-defense.

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Amanda and I went to see this movie on Saturday.
While it had a few cheesy moments, I thought it was excellent overall.
http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/

Monday, November 10, 2008

Escaped!

Well, we have finally sold our 2001 Ford Escape.

The selling process has been a long and annoying one. Long because we have been trying to sell either one of our two pre-minivan vehicles (whichever comes first) since July/August (when we bought our minivan). And annoying because of the flaky potential buyers that you come across on CraigsList.

Most of them can be categorized as low-ballers, asking $1000 or more below your listed price. We had an offer of $3600 when we were selling my Z for $6100. We had a $5000 offer on our Escape when we were selling it for over $7000. We have had numerous emails and phone calls that ask the following incredibly annoying question - "How low are you willing to go?"

If I tell you the answer, then I've just given away my hand, jerk off! Just make an offer and I'll either reject it, counter it, or accept it! That's how the buying/selling process works - at least as far as most normal people are concerned.

Now we are still considering selling my 300ZX as well, and I would either have to rely on car pooling, or the bus and my bike to get to work. There are many inconvieniences associated with this idea, but it's the only way that we can forsee in the nearby future to pay off both our credit card debt and the loan that we took out for the purchase of our Honda Odyssey.

Amanda with the Escape, soon after purchasing it in 2004.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting With Your Spirit

Ok, I admit that the title is bit of a gimmick to get you to read this. However, it's not completely irrelevant either.

I was praying and thinking about the election on the way to work today, and I noticed people on several street corners holding up signs both for and against Proposition 8 (about gay marriage). I smiled and realized that while it can sometimes seem like a curse, we really are blessed to be so inundated with influence and attempted persuasion during the election seasons. We can do almost whatever we want to express and promote our political preferences and opinions - stand on street corners, send promotions in the mail, post internet content (blogs, web sites, videos, etc), have news and opinion shows on radio and TV, newspapers - you name it. Praise God - we have freedom!

Then I was praying for God's will to be done, for His hand and blessings to be upon this nation. And I realized that maybe the best results that could occur aren't really what is best for the American people, or even for the nation as a whole - but the best case scenario regarding the party and people that would be elected for our country would be the ones that are best for God's kingdom.

By that I mean that we should be hoping and praying for the people, influence, and laws to occur that would best promote the cause of Christ. The circumstances that would help the most people seek to know Jesus and/or for existing Christians to grow stronger in their faith.

I've heard it asked whether Constantine might have been the worst thing to happen to Christianity, because he helped to legitimize it, to legalize it. He removed the oppression from the cause that was growing like wildfire at the time. Of course, whether it was good or bad is only speculative, but we as fragile and limited people never really know what's best for God's purpose - only He does. What could on the surface seem beneficial could really be stifling, or vice versa.

So even though the laws and people that come to power this election may or may not reflect our political views or preferences, our ultimate hope is that through their words and actions more people would somehow be saved. And I believe that should be our prayer.

But feel free to stand on street corners and yell at the top of your lungs in the mean time.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Voting, Web Page, Supercar

Amanda and I have officially voted, via absentee ballot.

==================================

Last week I finally posted a picture update to our family web page and posted the link in my previous blog. Unfortunately our domain name registration expired at about the same time. So if anyone tried to look at the pictures before but the web site was down, I have re-registered it and the link should work now.

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I was surfing through the videos on Jay Leno's Garage tonight, when I came across his review of the SSC Ultimate Aero. While I was familiar with the car before, and I knew it was the world record top speed holder, I didn't know that it was made in America, and I didn't realize how awesome it looked and sounded until watching this video.

It has now officially surpassed the Pagani Zonda, Koenigsegg CCX, Bugati Veyron, and maybe even the mighty McClaren F1 as my favorite car.

For more information on this incredible vehicle, check out the links below.
http://www.shelbysupercars.com/
http://www.supercars.net/cars/3621.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Routine Random Ramblings

I finally have some new pictures from several recent events posted on our family web page. You can check them out here: http://www.thelomonacofamily.com/pictures.html, under the "2008 Events" column.

I've been listening to a great series about spiritual warfare after another blogger recommended it. It's from a church in Seattle called Mars Hill, and it is some crazy stuff. Maybe it won't surprise you and maybe it will. Heck, maybe you won't believe the stories, but I for one do. http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/spiritual-warfare. Highly recommend.

This is an interesting commentary from Pat Buchanan about the media's double standard for politics: http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=78921

I used to go daily to a website called Parents Behaving Badly. The stories are often horrific and it's not uncommon for me to get both angry and a little watery eyed when reading them. But besides depressing myself, I make it a point to pray for the people in each of the stories. Since they haven't had an update since June though, I started to go to Bad Breeders instead. Unfortunately, there has been no shortage of stories there lately. If you're a Christian reading this blog, I encourage you to check it out if you can stomach it (no gore, just sorrow), and pray for people (both the kids and the parents) in the stories.

Adam Sandler's new movie "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" was pretty funny, even if it did almost completely revolve around sex with old ladies and had entirely too much screen time of his naked arse.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Last Night

Last night was the last class in a series that Amanda and I have been taking called Love and Logic.

I think we were already pretty good parents (who doesn't though), and our kids are really well-behaved (everyone who watches them affirms this). But this parenting class gave us a few really good additional tools and approaches that I am absolutely certain will help us out over the course of the next 18 - 20 years of child rearing.

They offered some small ideas that could make big differences not only in how conflicts are handled but also in the training of our kids to eventually become capable, self-sufficient adults. I highly recommend this class to any parents.

=======================================================

On a different note, there is a man in the class who I found out is an MMA fighter and trains at Marinobles, which is the gym that I go to once in a great while. But last night I noticed he was walking a little stiffly, like he was sore and/or in pain. And I couldn't help but be a little jealous.

That's right, jealous. MAN, I miss that feeling. I LOVE that feeling - of being sore and in pain from sparring. Of being bruised and battered, but also strangely purified in a way, like Proverbs 20:30 states. Or maybe it's manified. You've tested your will and your body, and whether you win or lose it's the act of voluntarily testing yourself that feels good.

It's been a while, but Monday evening I'm planning on going to Marinobles again. So thanks for the unintentional inspiration Rick. My lazy butt needed it.

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I tried my second energy drink ever last night - Monster. The first was a low-carb Full Throttle that had a helluva nasty after taste. The Monster had a much better flavor and similar kick to it. I probably only drank 1/3 of it though, just enough to keep me attentive through the class.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Men's Retreat Results

Last weekend I attended a men's retreat at our church. The 14 of us camped at Sycamore Ranch campground from Friday to Saturday afternoon.

It was great to be in the outdoors, especially this time of year. And while there were other people at the campground, the park was spacious and spread out enough that our group could be all by ourselves. I had brought my own small tent too, so I didn't have to listen to snoring next to my ear or step over anyone to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The majority of the retreat was spent in fellowship hanging around the campfire - talking, joking, and eating. But we also had a brief study led by our pastor, Brad. The best part of the retreat though, spiritually speaking, was having solitude time on Saturday.

The idea was to find an isolated spot and spend an hour and a half by ourselves. Since I didn't have a watch though, my pastor was going to whistle when the time was up. Well, I found a spot that was probably the furthest away out of the group, down an embankment by the edge of a nearby river.

The weather was beautiful, so I took off my shirt and shoes, wrote in my journal a bit, prayed, thought, reflected, and observed God's creation that was all around me. After a while, I started to get a bit restless though, so I decided to move a little closer to the direction of the campground, just for a change of scenery. Not too much later I heard my name being called, and I looked back to see Brad waving his hands from the path toward the campground.

Realizing the time was up, I began to head back. As I approached him, has asked me "You do realize it's been 2 and a half hours, right?" Actually, no - I had no idea. It did seem like a long time, but since I have never had solitude time like that before, I thought that it could have only been 15 minutes but still have seemed like a lot longer.

So I had 2.5 hours of time with just myself and God. And I never did find out if Brad had forgotten to whistle or if I just didn't hear him.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Thoughts About CA's Prop 8 (the marriage amendment)

I have been in favor of Proposition 8 from the beginning, but admittedly not passionate about it at all. I think Hollywood and society's mockery of marriage does more to damage our family structure and to the institution of marriage than homosexuals do. And the Libertarian in me thinks that if two consenting adults want to get together then that's their business, even if it isn't a preference of mine.

But I also know that clearly God doesn't like homosexual relationships period, and encouraging them is definitely not what I want either. My friend Nathan sent me a link to a YouTube video that helped solidify and encourage my opinion on the matter though. You can check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zbpDe_QhS0&feature=related

The video is pretty simple, straightforward, and explanatory. It demonstrated how legalizing gay marriages can potentially affect my life and my kids' by showing some of the cases that are occurring in Massachusetts as a result of legalizing gay marriage there.

At first I thought that since California is a predominantly liberal state, failure for the proposition is more or less a predetermined outcome. But my friend Tyler reminded me that the voters did pass Proposition 22 in 2000 (by 61%, but the CA Supreme Court decided it was unconstitutional).

Since California is such a large and somewhat influential state, if this passes then it can make a big difference not only for our state, but also possibly nationwide. So I'm enthusiastically voting yes for proposition 8.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meeting Minutes

The great thing about being in a meeting where 90% of what is discussed doesn't pertain to you is that it gives you time to think about random stuff (and doodle too). Today I decided to write some of the random stuff down on paper. And sometimes these random thoughts lead to interesting realizations...

I realized that the majority of Amanda and my fun as a couple consists of reading, watching The Office, and having sex. As much fun as these three things are, that's pretty limited! Amanda and I only go out together maybe once every couple of months at best, and that's only because we trade babysitting duties with another couple so each of us can take a turn on a date night.

I remember before we had kids how we would go out all of the time, to see movies, walk around at an outdoor shopping plaza, walk around downtown, play pool, and whatever else we could think of to do. Now, I would be happy just to go out to see a freakin' movie once in a while. Sure, we have plenty of fun as a family (going to the park, the zoo, playing with toys, reading books to the kids, etc). But very rarely as a couple.

I just had another realization. It's very rare that our whole family all plays together, except on Sundays. More often than not it's one of us parents playing with the two kids, while the other one is cooking, cleaning the kitchen, doing a chore, checking email, etc. I guess that's proof that God knew what He was doing when He instituted the whole Sabbath idea - to make sure we purposefully set aside a whole day to all be together as a family.

I miss being with other friends too! It seems the only time we are with other people is either at church, a Bible study, or at a kids' birthday party. I want to just sit around and hang out with friends, maybe have a beer, and/or play a board game without interruption from little ones needing attention.

Well, that's all the whining I'll do tonight. Don't worry though, there will be more soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why Sac-town is Better than O-town.

I started this a while ago, but just never got around to publishing it. Recently though, someone who we know from Florida (but now lives elsewhere) mentioned having a potential opportunity to move to the area asked me what I like about it. So here is the answer.

For all of you who live in the Orlando area, I apologize for criticizing your hometown. Maybe to be fair I'll also post a blog soon about the things that are better in O-town, although don't be surprised if it is much shorter.
  • Climate:
    • We actually encounter seasons, with colors changing in the Fall (the leaves are just starting to turn colors now), and lots of blooming in the Spring. While the Winter is chilly, it's not brutal (no snow/ice). Summers are as hot as O-town, but with...
    • ...No humidity!
    • The temperature drops 20-30 degrees at night, making Summer evenings much more enjoyable.
    • The weather is much more predictable. If the forecast says it isn't going to rain, you can reliably leave the top down on a convertible.
  • Nature and Sightseeing:
    • A large variety of foliage (not just Oaks, Pines, and Palms).
    • The topography rises in three directions (North, East, West).
    • Flowing water vs stagnant water. Florida has an abundance of lakes. Here though, rivers and small streams are much more common, probably because of the runoff from all around us.
    • Plenty of trails and parks, both locally and regionally.
    • The ocean to the West.
    • Snowboarding/skiing to the East (Tahoe).
    • We can get in the car and drive in any direction to see something interesting and new. Not that Florida doesn't have things to see, but because it's a peninsula, you're much more limited to how far you can go and what you can find.
  • Sports:
    • NFL : 49ers. Raiders
    • NBA : Kings
    • MLB : Giants, A's, River Cats
    • NHL : Sharks
    • Arena Football : Sabre Cats
    • People here seem to have more passion for the home teams, perhaps because the population isn't as diverse in its origin (in Florida, almost everyone was born elsewhere, then moved South). For example, River Cats games are almost always packed, even though they're a minor league team.
  • People:
    • Stronger sense of community here, probably in part because of the large population of tourists and snowbirds in Central FL.
    • Both have similarly conservative political climates (inland anyway).
    • Both are similarly friendly and family oriented.
  • The City:
    • OK, the downtown area of Orlando is much cooler for single people, with a much better centralized strip of bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. than the city of Sacramento. I'll grant it that much. Lake Eola is pretty nice too.
    • But then again, our downtown area is much more family friendly, because of the following, right in the heart of downtown and within walking distance of each other:
      • A really impressive Capital building, not to mention the extensive and impressive park land that surrounds it.
  • Misc:
    • The traffic here is nowhere near as bad as Orlando. It is extremely rare for me to be stuck at a light for more than one cycle. Sure, the main highway (I-80) can get a little slow during rush hour, but it's leaps and bounds better than I-4. Not only that , but carpooling solves the problem almost completely, because there is a separate carpool lane for the busier parts of the highway, and they take it seriously here (very few violators).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Trying to Concentrate, and Not to Laugh

Last week at work, I arrived for the day and did a double take. My boss had gotten a new haircut - and while he's always had longer hair, he now has it nice and short everywhere - everywhere that is, except for the back. So it's a perfect mullet!

What makes it so surprising is that this is a man whom I respect. He's a pretty good boss, a genuinely nice guy, has a cute family with 4 kids, and he's really smart too. So what gives? It's like a big, muscular, hairy dude wearing a Richard Simmons outfit every day - it's wrong under normal circumstances, but this takes it to a whole nutha' level!

Since he and I are working on a project together we were talking a lot about it during the day. But I was so distracted by his hilarious hair that I sometimes had a difficult time concentrating on what he was saying. I really had to restrain myself from at least just asking him "Have you ever heard of the term mullet?". Or perhaps mumbling under my breath the phrase "Business in the front, party in the back. " "What was that?" "Oh, nothing.", then repeat later.

I have heard that there are some tattoo artists who will refuse to give you ink on your face, simply because they know that it will completely screw up your life (socially, economically, etc). And while a haircut isn't as drastic by any means - Ron, if you're reading this, I love you man, but - you need to find a new barber, one that cares enough about you to just say no to the mullet.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pieces of Politics

I have talked to several people of the liberal political persuasion who have criticized Sarah Palin's lack of international experience, as well as questioning whether being the Governor of a state with such a low population makes her qualified to be the Vice President of our nation.

To this I have come up with the following question - Before he became president, wasn't Bill Clinton the Governor of Arkansas? And isn't he arguably the most loved Democrat President of this generation?

================================

This is a pretty interesting and informative video:
http://www.youtube.com/themouthpeace

Monday, September 29, 2008

DON'T PANIC!

I have been hearing many people expressing their concern over the economy lately. Since the bailout bill didn't pass and the markets plunged through the floor, rumors are abounding about another Great Depression looming, and some people have even decided to withdraw some of their money from the bank.

I can certainly understand people's concern about the current state of affairs, however - WTF IS THAT GOING TO ACCOMPLISH!? ISN'T THAT THE VERY SAME ACTION AND ATTITUDE THAT HELPED TO CAUSE THE GREAT DEPRESSION IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Maybe things are going to get worse, and maybe we are headed for another depression. But first of all we got through a similar slump (at least in the technology industry) in 2001-2003. Secondly - God is in control. I know that bad things still happen to Christians too, but let's look at the worst case scenario.
  1. Let's say that we struggle financially and have a hard time paying our bills (which isn't too far from the truth).
  2. We attempt to rent out the bonus room of our house to get extra income (we already rent out one of our bedrooms).
  3. We can try to sell as much junk as we can think of that we don't really need.
  4. Let's say that I lose my job.
  5. Then what if we lose our house through foreclosure.
  6. We would maybe have to declare bankruptcy.
  7. We may have to then liquidate all of our savings and retirement accounts.
  8. We would either move into an apartment, get a joint place with another family that is struggling, or beg our immediate family to let us move in with them - perhaps my mom or Amanda' parents would have mercy on us and let us live with them for a while.
Even if all of that were to occur - we still have each other, we still have our education, we still have our faith, and hopefully we'll still have our health (unless we can't eat of course). Because none of these things depend on the economy or anything material.

Sure, life would suck for a while. But we would make the best of it and we would get through it. And if we don't get through it then we'll go to heaven when we die anyway.

The biggest problem I have with the kneejerk reaction of doomsday predictors is this - withdrawing your money from the bank, selling your stocks, and spreading your fears to others (however justifiable they may seem to be) only serves to hurt the economy further. And besides that, THERE. IS. NO. BENEFIT. TO. IT.

Sure stocks and funds are lower than they've been in a long time. But you won't actually lose any money on them unless you sell them, and they will eventually go back up - almost guaranteed. And if your portfolio is diversified then in the long run you'll be fine, even if it takes a little while. Just hang on tight and ride it out. If anything, we should all put some more money in the market now that the prices are so low.

If there really are things that you can do to help yourself (such as tightening your financial belt, reducing your own debt, increasing your income, or stabilizing your job situation further), then by all means that seems wise and prudent.

Otherwise calm down, take a deep breath, say a prayer, take whatever action you can (besides actions that will exacerbate the situation), and just keep on truckin'.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Emily is 2!

As of today, Emily is now 2 years old!

And yes, that's a spider cake in front of her - an itsy bitsy spider cake, to be more specific. Special thanks to our friend Monica for making it at Emily's request.

As you can see below, we had a bounce house too! Special thanks to Jim (who owns two of them and rents them out) for being generous enough to lend us one.


Her party today was a lot of fun, and for some reason less stressful for me than usual, despite having approximately 30 people over.

Don't get me wrong, I really like social events, but between trying to get the house ready (hang balloons and streamers, mow the lawn, etc) and helping Amanda prepare for it, it's a lot of work and stress leading up to the very last minute when people arrive. Then during the party we're both trying to run the show (help with any events, get the food, take pictures/video, etc) while talking to people, and also trying to watch the kids too.

Anyway, it was easier than usual today, great to see and catch up with everyone (we haven't seen the Whites in a long time), and more importantly I think Emily really enjoyed it.

I need to give one more special thanks to my Aunt Rosary for making Emily the awesome Dora blanket (in the picture below). She absolutely loved it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Home for the Holidays (previously)

I originally started writing this post on 12/22/07, but never finished it. Yesterday I found it in my Drafts list and decided to finally post it.

My family and I traveled to Florida for the Christmas holidays to spend it with my family. Here are some highlights:
  • While the trip to Florida was long and painful (6am - 9pm), the kids were real troopers and handled it wonderfully. Certainly an answer to prayers.
  • My mom's back porch, how I do miss it. Even though the woods that used to be behind her backyard have become a subdivision a few years ago, it's still an incredibly quiet and relaxing place to sit and read, pray, think, or write this blog. I can now hear church bells in the distance! At first they just chimed, but now are ringing out several hymns (then sings my soul, my savior God to thee. How great thou art. How great thou art.). Awesome!
  • I have never had, nor I suspect will ever have again a closer, more loved, and more respected group of friends then our MY-ABS group. Even after being gone for 3 1/2 years, hanging out with these Christian brothers and sisters for the evening was a glimpse of heaven to me.
  • Being with my family was awesome. Watching my kids bonding so well with their cousins made it even more so.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

T-Shirt with Tap to Talk About

Last week I wore a new t-shirt for the first time. The front of the shirt (as seen below) says "Jesus Didn't Tap". I bought the shirt after noticing a UFC fighter wearing the logo before his fight. I thought it was fun and relevant, and thought provoking too, so I found their web site and bought one for myself.

The first response that I received about it was from a lady at my church (on a Wednesday night when I help out with the middle school kids) who asked me if it was about dancing (yes, tap dancing). I told her "no, it's about this" and proceeded to choke her out until she instinctively tapped my arm. "See, doesn't it make more sense now?" I said. She nodded as her breath returned through spastic gasps.

The second response I received was from a Starbucks employee who asked me what it meant. Since she didn't jump to foolish conclusions and since there was also that darned counter between us, I decided to try to explain it verbally this time. "It's from martial arts. You tap when you give up. So Jesus didn't give up."

A clumsy explanation, but it will do I guess. After I left, I wondered if I should/could have used that somehow as a transition to a deeper conversation about Christianity, but I have no idea how to make that work. I'll have to give it more consideration for the next time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Date Night Under the Moonlight

I came up with a pretty decent idea for a date last Friday night, since our friend Brian was nice enough to babysit for us.

Since it was almost a full moon, I made plans to have a moonlight picnic. We grabbed some wine, picked up some dessert and milk from the supermarket, and headed to an open field adjacent to a park that I had scoped out.

Unfortunately, while we were enjoying our Tiramisu the sprinklers turned on and started running through their cycles around the field. While we didn't get wet from them, after about 3-4 cycles rotating around us we decided not to push our luck and to cut our picnic shorter than we would have otherwise.

Instead, we finished the evening by relocating to some nearby playground equipment to drink some wine, talk, and hang out (among other things).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random

Hilarious pictures:
http://www.wintrest.com/if-celebs-moved-to-oklahoma/

The weirdest, creepiest story that I have ever heard/read:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/02/27/notes022708.DTL&nl=fix

In the preview for the new Fast and Furious 4, the car that is highlighted is a Buick Grand National (although they give it a V8 sound, instead of the correct V6 Turbo). I can't help but miss my old GN while watching it. Although my 300ZX is fun to drive (it certainly handles better), the raw acceleration and aesthetic attitude of my GN was top notch.

Back in the day - 15 years ago perhaps?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Musical Musing

The song of the day (since it's 9/11) is Courtesy of the Red, White And Blue by Toby Keith. Makes me want to up and join the armed forces, or at least have more appreciation for and pride in our country.

The current nostalgic song I'm grooving to is Principal's Office by Young M.C. With its catchy music and great lyrics, it represents the old school rap that actually tells a story, instead of the artist just bragging about himself (I have lots of money. You know you want me. Blah, blah, blah).

The song of the week/month is Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath. The melody isn't quite as catchy as I'm Not Who I Was (also by him), but it's still really good music and the words are maybe better.

I really like hard songs that have a soft spot in the middle. Great examples of this are:
  • Red - Breathe Into Me
  • Chad Kroeger - Hero
  • Foo Fighters - The Pretender
They get the blood pumping and testosterone boosting, then give you a moment to catch your breath, right before kicking it up again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Which Will Come First - A New Beginning or The End?

Well, in case everyone who reads this blog (all 2 or 3 of you) doesn't already know from reading my wife's blog - Amanda and I are now preparing for baby blessing number 3 - our third child! We just found out this weekend and haven't been to the doctor yet, but we estimate the due date to be sometime in late May.

We were hoping for a third eventually, but we weren't actually trying yet, per se. We just weren't taking precautions for the last month or so - and I guess that's all that it takes. We're both excited though and while we didn't find out the gender ahead of time with the last two, we're thinking we will probably find out this time - just to be able to experience it both ways (I love the surprise at the end though).

So that is the new beginning I was referring to in the title. The end I am referring to is the activation this Wednesday of a new particle super-collider, mentioned below. Many scientists such as these are saying that "there is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet."

As a Christian though, I am confident that God is in complete control of our planetary doom. And if the world does come to an end, then I am confident in where I am going after my bodily demise - so no worries there either. If you read the purposes of the experiment below though, you will see that it certainly contains ideas that horror movie plots are made of. And you liberals were all worried about Global Warming!

==================================
Extracted from an EE Times article:

The world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will attempt to form its first particle beam on Wednesday, Sept. 10th.

Many experiments will be performed by the LHC that plumb the mysteries of the universe by recreating the conditions of the Big Bang--producing subatomic particles that have not been seen since the beginning of time itself. Mysteries that the LHC will hopefully resolve include the origin of matter and mass, the existence of extra dimensions, and the whereabouts of dark matter and dark energy, which are estimated to compose 96 percent of the universe, but which are invisible to physics today. The LHC will also attempt to create microscopic black holes--an experiment that doomsayers predict will swallow the Earth, but which scientists at CERN say are created naturally all the time when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, but which can now be studied by detectors in the LHC.

A live webcast of the event can be viewed at 4 a.m. Eastern Time Sept. 10, at: http://webcast.cern.ch/.

Reconnecting - Part 2

On one of my previous blog posts, I received a comment from an old friend that I haven't spoken with since my 10 year high school reunion, which was just over 9 years ago (yes, I am really that old).

It was both weird and great to hear from him, especially since I had been thinking about him periodically lately, but had no idea where he was or how to reach him. I even tried Googling him, but with no luck.

In the process of catching up with him again via email, he mentioned a web site that exists for the purposes of reacquainting our high school class. It's not Classmates, but one that was set up by an individual in our class. Because of that site, I have had at least brief correspondences with probably 7-10 people from high school.

Catching up has been fun and full of flashbacks. I just hope that I can make it to the 20 year reunion next year, especially with a new baby on the way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rats - Failed Again!


For those that don't know - every two years, when the registration is due for renewal on a car, California requires us to take it in to a smog center to ensure that it passes the CA pollution requirements.

My 300ZX failed it the last time (about two years ago), but it ended up being due to a malfunctioning fuel injector.

I recently took it into a smog center to see if it would pass this time. Unfortunately, it failed again. However, I do have numerous things I can do in an attempt to remedy it, including:
  • Change the oil.
  • Change the spark plugs.
  • Change the PCV valves (extremely difficult to get to on this car).
  • Change the oxygen sensors ($150 for the both of them).
  • Check the EGR sensor, clean it if necessary.
  • Run fuel injector cleaner through the engine.
  • Run Guaranteed to Pass through the engine.
  • Finally, take it to the smog place when they are dead slow, so they can check it immediately after driving it there. This will allow the catalytic converter to be nice and hot. This is a big one, because the hotter the cat gets, the more pollutants that it eliminates.
I have one free retest at the smog center that I failed at the first time. After that I have to take it to a CA certified repair shop for them to try to fix what it needs in order to pass smog.

I'm a fan of clean air and having some guidelines for reducing exhaust gas pollution, but unfortunately it's a big pain in the rump too. At the very least though, it's a good incentive to eliminate unknown problems and get my car running in tip-top shape.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reconnecting - Part 1

GIOVANNI
I haven't talked to my long-term best friend Giovanni in quite a while - almost a year ago (link to previous post). Catching up with him recently reminded me of how valuable his friendship is though. He's one of the few people that I feel completely comfortable talking to about anything, and no matter how long it's been since we've last talked, it's still just like yesterday.

The last I'd heard was that he'd moved from L.A. back to Florida. But after talking to him on the phone for probably an hour and a half, I learned that he has since moved to Hawaii, then back to L.A., and now resides in San Luis Obispo. The next step with reconnecting is that I really want to/must drive the 5 hours South to see him soon.


BRIAN
My more local friendship with Brian is similar to Giovanni's in depth, except that I haven't known him as long (or through so many stages of life), and also that he only lives three houses down and around the corner from me.

But oddly enough we're both so busy taking care of our own crazy lives that we rarely get to talk. Granted, it was certainly less than the year ago that it was with Giovanni, but last Monday night we finally had the opportunity to sit and reconnect.

=====================================
If I could define the difference for me between what makes someone a great friend and another a best friend (and it's true with both Giovanni and Brian), it is this:

A best friend is someone not only with whom you feel completely eager and comfortable sharing the details of each other's lives, but also with whom you feel comfortable enough to sit down together and pray about them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All Rolled Into One


I was watching a recent episode of a show called Inside MMA, when one of the hosts (and also a Mixed Martial Arts legend) Bas Rutten made a simple but brilliant observation about the Olympic combat sports.

He said (paraphrased) "People call MMA too violent. But if you take all of the Olympic combat sports and combine them - the punching of Boxing, the throws and submissions of Judo, the kicks of TaeKwonDo, and the take downs and ground game of Wrestling - then there you have it - MMA!".

That explains it so simply that it's ridiculous, because how many people object to the Olympic combat sports? Now all you have to do is take one more small step forward and combine them all together. And like Bas said, "there you have it"!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eight Years Ago Today...

...Amanda and I committed our lives to each other.

I knew I was marrying my best friend, but as time passes I realize more and more how important that fact really is.

The first realization occurred after we moved across the country, 3000 miles away from our roots. With no friends or family nearby, we only had each other for company. But if I had to pick just one person in the entire world to hang out with - she is by far my favorite.

The second realization is now that we have kids. Our young'uns go to bed at 8pm, after which either we can arrange for a babysitter to go out, or we have to stay at home for the rest of the evening. We choose the babysitter option once every month or two, but for every other night of the year, we're stuck at home. And Amanda is the one person that I am the happiest to be stuck with.

Now that we've been in our new home (Northern California) for four years, we have slowly established friends again. But since most of our friends have kids too, spending time with them either has to happen when the kids are awake, or a babysitter has to be arranged for. Therefore the available time to spend with our friends is severely limited too. So we have to rely on each other for entertainment, companionship, and friendship even more.

I have no doubt that Amanda is more compatible for me than anyone else in the world. And as the icing on the cake, she's really easy on the eyes too!

I thank God for being the ultimate matchmaker and leading us to each other. And for eight years of marriage together so far.

NOTE: If you want to see more pictures from our wedding day, then click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's With the New Blog Title?

The meaning of my new blog title is the result of a recent realization.
  1. I am not exceptional at anything, that I can think of anyway.
  2. Almost everything about me however, is above average, by an average amount. In other words, I probably fall right in the middle of just average and excellent.
This is applicable to things that I have had no say in whatsoever - what God has chosen to bless me with - such as my height, health, looks, intellect, relationship with God, etc. And things that I have worked at improving upon, such as education, occupational skills, fitness, spiritual growth, etc.

The one thing that I can say about me that is as excellent as I could possibly imagine it is my family - both growing up (parents, siblings, etc), and to an even greater degree presently (my wife and children).

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Conquered Quest

Amanda and I were on a date recently (a month or 2 ago?) in my 300Z. We were parking the car at a store when a song came on the radio. We both liked it from the onset, so we turned it up and sat there grooving to it in the parking lot until it was finished.

When we got home, I looked for the song by searching for what lyrics I could remember (which has worked for me many times before), but with no luck. Since then I have been hoping that it would come on the radio again so I could get the title, artist, or at least more lyrics so I could buy the mp3 from Amazon. But it's been absent from the airwaves, at least when I've been listening - until Tuesday night.

I was working on our car in the garage when the song came on the radio. I promptly ran upstairs, checked the radio station's website, and viola! Since buying this song I must have listened to it about 100 times. It just hasn't gotten old.

The lyrics are very cryptic and catchy, although depressing ("into the ocean, end it all"), but it's one of those tunes that just resonates with me musically. It sounds very similar vocally and stylistically to Peter Gabriel, with a good variety of sounds and instruments, interesting percussion, and great underlying bass.

The song is Into the Ocean, by Blue October.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Acting on Acrobatic Ambitions

Amanda worked at our church this last Friday morning, as usual. And since it was an off-Friday for me (due to the 9/80 work week), I got to take care of this kids while she was gone.

When I was playing Lego with them, Lucas stacked three of the little Lego men on top of each other. I said they resembled acrobats, then attempted to explain to him what that meant. As I mentioned on my last blog (Kids, Meet Multimedia), I decided to show them videos of acrobats, so they could understand it better. After a brief search, I found and played a few videos for them. When they were done, Lucas said "let's play acrobats".

So we headed to our bonus room (the "game room"), and tumbled to our hearts' content. Lucas did somersaults, then repeatedly jumped off of the arm of a chair and rolled when he landed. I helped Emily jump off of the Futon (holding onto her hands), then attempted to perform my limited repertoire of maneuvers - mainly a front hand spring, a handstand, a diving roll, and an attempted one-armed stand, all with limited success. Then I laid on my back and when Lucas stood on my stomach, I lifted him up by his ankles, with him still in a standing position. He was a little scared, but laughing at the same time. Then I tried it with Emily, but she kept sitting down.

It was great just to goof around, act silly together, and get some exercise at the same time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kids, Meet Multimedia

Maybe it's still too early to introduce Lucas to video games, but there was a really good deal for one on Slickdeals that I couldn't resist, called BUZZ Jr.! Jungle Party. It was bundled with four kid-friendly controllers for $20 (including shipping).


With a little bit of explaining, the game play is simple enough for him to understand it. We've played it several times, including once with him, Amanda, myself, and Jeanette too (our roommate).

And I was finally able to find an excuse to brush the dust off of my old PlayStation 2.

================================

Since putting together the slide video together for the anniversary of my dad's death, Lucas has requested to watch it almost every day.

There are many pictures of my dad when he was a kid and also of myself and my siblings when we were young (with my dad of course). He just loves to see them, ask questions, and hear about the people and stories associated with them (Emily enjoys it too, but doesn't get quite as much out of it yet).

It's both heartwarming and heartbreaking for me to teach them about the grandpa they'll never personally meet or know. It's also bittersweet showing them pictures and telling them stories of my siblings and me together, since they get to see them so infrequently.

You can see the video here, if interested.

================================

Speaking of the computer, I have found the internet to be a really handy resource when explaining some things to Lucas. After verbally describing something like snowmobiles, ATVs, or wrecking balls, showing him a video on YouTube or Metacafe can provide a whole new level of understanding and enlightenment for him.

================================

While Amanda occasionally takes the kids to a Family Movie Matinee, I watched a movie with them in a theater for the first time on my birthday last month. We went to see Wall-e, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it.


I did learn one lesson from the experience though - although some sodas don't contain caffeine, the sugar content is still plenty adequate to over-energize a 21 month old, even when she's dead tired.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friendly Phrase to Form a Future Food Philosophy

Most of us have been taught since childhood to clean our plates when eating meals. It's wasteful not to, after all. Well, it's my belief that this philosophy has been a major contributing factor in the American obesity epidemic.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad idea to encourage a child to consume enough calories to support his growing body. But as adults, at some point we need to realize that this philosophy is no longer applicable. And while it certainly is a bad thing to waste resources such as food, we need to understand that we're not using it by eating it, we're storing it - which is both unnecessary and undesirable.

So if your body is comfortable with what you've already eaten, then just throw the rest of your food away. You heard me right - toss it! If you consistently leave a little bit of food on your plate when you conclude your meals, it will slowly but significantly contribute to keeping it from collecting on and around your body.

So here is my new catch phrase to outline my philosophy. And I almost guarantee that it will not only stick in your head, but maybe even become a cultural phenomena. Here it is:

It is better to waste, than to waist.

For even greater emphasis, point to the trash during the first half of the sentence, then point to your midsection during the second half.

It's short, it's relevant, and it's potentially life-changing. Remember it. Use it. Spread it to others. And remember where you heard it first.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dedication to Dad


Tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of my dad's death.

Oddly enough, I didn't plan the perfect timing of any of the following:
  • Last week, our family went on a camping and road trip to Colorado. Before we left, Amanda asked me to pick up a particular book from Target for her to read. While I was looking for it, another book caught my eye - tuesdays with Morrie.

    I remembered my dad recommended it to me when he was still alive, so I grabbed it to take on our trip and read most of it while we were gone. Tonight when I got home from work, I sat outside with the kids while they played and read the last chapter and the Afterword. So that book is finished as of tonight.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
  • Several years ago, my dad sent me a book in the mail called the Chip. He found it at a book sale that the Nashville Public Library was holding, and thought I might find it interesting.

    I was busy with grad school at the time though, so I never did read it. A few months ago however, I was looking for a new book to read and came across it again. So I started reading it, and it just so happened that I finished that book tonight as well.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
  • When my dad passed away in 2003, my siblings and I hastily scanned pictures, selected music, and put together a Power Point presentation for his memorial service.

    For Father's Day this year, I decided to finally hunt it down and post it online. Sounds easy enough, right?

    Well, I ran into numerous problems with posting a Power Point presentation online. It doesn't import/attach mp3 files properly, the wav files are way too big, when accessing through a web site the file downloads and opens up locally in power point instead of in the browser, etc. After wrestling with these problems and talking to other people about it, I decided to create a video out of it instead.

    First I tried using Windows Movie Maker (it's included with Windows XP), but it doesn't have "Ken Burns" effects (after watching a slide presentation at VBS, I decided that these effects were a necessity to make it right). So I did a little research and ended up using Photo Story 3 for Windows instead.

    After adding the music, a few new pictures, the Ken Burns effects, and putting it all together, I just finished it yesterday. Not in time for father's day, but pretty good timing nonetheless.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
You can now see the new and improved version of the presentation here, if interested. I'll also write reviews of the books soon on the Book Review page of my web site. It's 11:30pm though, so they'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Touch of Irony

In case you haven't heard in the news, supermodel Christie Brinkley is currently in the midst of an ugly divorce with her husband, due to his infidelity with an 18 year old girl.

Does anyone else find it ironic that a woman who has made her long-lived career causing other men to lust after her is now the victim of lust herself?

Granted, she didn't pose for playboy or bare all. And I doubt that her pictures and poses directly caused men to stray from their wives or leave their families. But Sports Illustrated is a widely distributed publication, viewed by (according to Wikipedia) 18 million men. I can remember seeing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues highlighting herself and Kathy Ireland and feeling that loathsome and almost painful longing of a teenage boy/man with too many hormones already.

In numerous quotes, Miss Brinkley has expressed her surprise that her husband had the poor judgment to look at porn, and that he sacrificed his family's trust to sexually pursue his lust for this other girl (who can barely even be called a woman). How a woman who makes her living by doing her best to incite lust have such little understanding of the struggles with lust that men face?

And when has lust involved any kind of rational decision making? From a worldly perspective, it's simply a physical desire caused by hormones. From a Christian perspective, it's a spiritual issue of temptation in an attempt to break up families and lead men to worship something (flesh) other than the Living God.

I'm not attempting to justify the actions of her husband by any means, and I don't wish miss Brinkley the pain that she is publicly enduring with her divorce. I'm just surprised that a woman whose image was purchased and hungrily drooled over by so many men for so many years is adamantly expressing so little understanding of her husband's actions. And observing the irony of it all.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bountiful Birthday Blessings!

Saturday was Amanda's 32nd birthday. There are two wonderful things that happened that day.
1) I think (hope) I very largely contributed to it being a memorable and enjoyable day for her.
2) We were able to spend some really great quality time together that evening.

To start with, I let Amanda sleep in. When she awoke I made us all breakfast. During the day, we proceeded with the painful process of purchasing our Honda Odyssey minivan. Then she squeezed in a pedicure before getting ready to go out for the evening. Now we get to the really good part - our friend Monica offered to watch the kids for us so we could go out for the evening and even stay at a hotel overnight.

Knowing that we were going to be out on the town, and that it's a very rare occurrence since having kids, I decided to purchase an outfit for her as a birthday present that she could wear that evening. I went to Kohl's with the kids and decided on a stylish looking black number. Then I found some shoes to match and headed home.

Now let me say that while I thought the outfit would probably fit her, I also expected it to be less than stellar and that she would choose to take the whole thing back and pick something different out. This is mainly because it's hard to tell how something will fit and look when it's just hanging from a hangar.

As it turned out - the entire outfit was way better than I expected, both in fit and appearance. She looked absolutely gorgeous in it! The proof is in the picture below.


After leaving the kids with Monica, me and my hottie wife headed to The 4th Street Grille for dinner. When we got there we found the ambiance inside to be acceptable, but not as good as we had hoped, especially since we felt so elegantly dressed (especially compared to normal). We almost left to go somewhere else, but decided to stick it out instead - and boy were we grateful that we did. The food there was incredible!

Amanda's pork chop was the best either of us had ever tasted - seriously. And my rib eye steak was covered in seasoning and cooked to perfection. It was one of the best steaks that I had eaten in a long time. The rest of the meal, including the wine, was phenomenal as well. You can see our meal with us in the picture below.


We followed up the meal by walking around the Westfield plaza, getting coffee at Starbucks, then driving to Rick's Dessert Diner for the last course of the evening.

Finally, full but happy, we checked into the hotel and crashed for the night. At this point I need to give a special thanks to Monica O'Brien for making it possible to wake up two hours later than usual the next day. What a rare treat!

Although the day itself was busy, I think/hope it turned out to be a truly blessed birthday for her. And to be honest, that's even more gratifying than my own birthday.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

OK, so 1 out of 3 isn't bad, right?

In May I ran a 7+ mile (12km) race while pushing our two kids in the double jogger. Through the hills of San Francisco even.

When I recently gave blood, my blood pressure reading was measured at 110/62. Apparently this is pretty good since the attendant was impressed.

I also recently had a dental check up and cleaning, and the dental assistant commented on how white my teeth were. Of course, bleaching them in December probably helped.

My basketball game has been improving, albeit slowly. While usually I'm average at best, every once in a while I have a stud game.

A couple of weeks ago, I had my first eye checkup in about 5 years, and was quite pleased to hear that I don't need glasses or contacts since my vision is still very close to 20/20.

So at almost 37 years old, my health is still pretty decent. And while I can credit myself with some of this success (exercising, sensible eating, etc), the older I get, the more the more grateful I am to God for blessing me with good joints, a properly functioning heart and lungs, eyes that can see, etc.

Now I just need to work on the other two goals in the title.

WARNING!

Since Amanda already posted about our new (well, by new I mean a 2003 with 100,000 miles) minivan, I'm going to post a picture of a sticker that was placed on the driver's side window before we bought it.

I only wish I'd seen it sooner. Then we would never have bought this vehicle. After all, it contains oil, fuel, and other dangerous fluids and substances!

Our taxpayer money hard at work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random Thoughts

When debating or discussing a topic, the goal isn't (or shouldn't be) to prove that you are right or wrong, especially since it's so unlikely that either side is going to change anyway. The goal is only for both parties to see and understand each other's side of the issue. If any fluctuations from original opinions do occur then it is just an added bonus.

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I have two speeds when getting ready in the morning (for work, church, etc)- slow and panic.

For some reason I always have this distorted view of how much time I have left to get ready. I look at the clock and say to myself "Oh, I still have twenty minutes. That's plenty of time to brush my teeth, shave, get dressed, pour my coffee, pluck my nose hairs, etc." Then at two minutes before I know I'm supposed to be out the door I am thinking "HOLY CRAP! I'M RUNNING LATE AGAIN! DAMNIT!" and running around like a madman.

Since I am aware of this retardation, you would think that I would simply correct for it and get on with my life. But while some days are better than others, it is for the most part a continuously reoccurring scenario.

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When observing someone doing something risky, there are two types of people:
1) Those that say "What an idiot! He could hurt himself and/or others."
2) Those that say "That's awesome! I want to try it!"

I am usually in the latter group.
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