October – what’s it to ya?

Well, another month has passed and I haven’t felt all that inspired to write a blog post. I used to try and update this thing weekly, but Twitter and Facebook get more attention. Jesse is still raising money for his trip to Europe. We drove to Barstow the past two weekends to clean up the yard at my brother/mom’s place. The first weekend we worked 8 hrs and hauled off 3 truckloads of tumbleweeds and branches. It also happened to hit around 105 that day so we were a might bit tired when we finished. This past Saturday, we were able to finish the job and hauled two more loads to the dump. We managed to finish before the heat set in and even stopped to enjoy lunch at our family favorite Rosita’s run by my good friend Genaro.

Now we are looking to hold a yard sale, so we will be pouring through all our belongings to determine what stays and what goes. It’s been 5 years since we moved in, so we definitely have some stuff that can be sold. If you are in the area the weekend of October 15-17th, be sure to stop by and buy some stuff. Jesse will be parting with some of his Star Wars collectibles and the countless Lego Bionicles he has accumulated. We are also going to clear out the DVDs and video games too. Hopefully, we will raise enough to pay for most of his Europe trip. That’s about all from here. Hope you are having a great fall and that the holiday season ahead is full of joy.

I wanna rock/photoshop all night….

In the past few weeks, I have been rocking or photoshopping out. On August 28-29th, we attended the 25th Anniversary of HM/Heaven’s Metal magazine Up From The Ashes III Christian Metal Festival at The Vault in Temecula, CA. We were initially only going to attend the 1st day as Renee now works on Sundays running the nursery at the church we are attending. A few days prior, my friend James(Divine Metal Distro) messaged me to ask if I would being willing to shoot video for him of some of the bands. As a result, we were able to video and photograph on both days and got in free on Sunday. We saw the 25th anniversary shows of Deliverance and Bloodgood as well as some great shows by Grave Robber, The Altar Billies, Ultimatum, Troglodite Down, Nostalgia, Fasedown and many others. If you are a friend on Facebook, you can see the best of the photos from that weekend. Another cool thing about these shows is how the musicians mingle in the audience. The venue was small and they each took time before and after their sets to hang out and say hello. One highlight for me was meeting Les Carlsen of Bloodgood when I went to my truck to call Renee on Sunday. He saw my Bloodgood shirt and came right over to talk. Jesse got a Deliverance 25th anniversary shirt and a bunch of new CDs while we were there too.

The Tuesday following, I was in Las Vegas to attend Photoshop World Conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. This marked my 5th time attending and I still enjoy it. To kick things off, I met up with 25 NAPP forum members at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Place. It was great to see friends behind the avatars and meet up with those I knew from previous PSWs. We had several NAPP instructors join us and afterward we visited the Tweetup to hang out some more. They had a live set-up taking photos and posting them to Flckr. The next morning keynote was kicked off with the same NAPP instructors coming out in KISS-style make-up and singing “I wanna Photoshop all night and retouch everyday.” It was hilarious to see them using the Photoshop tools as part of their makeup. The most exciting part of the keynote was the presentation of the Guru awards. A good friend from the NAPP forums won for Illustration and took Best In Show. The presenter commented that he must have had family due to all the forum members yelling when he won. We had three busy days of workshops on all the latest in Photoshop, Photography and more. Another highlight was attending Midnight Madness. It is a fun night of goofing around and hanging out with friends. I returned home just a little exhausted after a very busy week.

On another note, Jesse began his senior year of high school. We were very pleased to find out that he need only take four classes each semester in order to graduate. He also has an opportunity to tour Europe in the Spring if he raises the money for the trip. If you are interested in helping him go, let me know and I will pass your name along.

Hope that you and your family are well and we look forward to hearing from each of you as we head into the fall season.

July/Comic-Con News

So I waited a little longer between posts this time, it’s not like anyone is paying for these. If you would like to though, feel free to send cash. So let’s try and get up to speed on what’s happened. I enjoyed seeing the Lakers win another championship especially against hated Boston. I was glad to see the USA exit the Group round of the World Cup, but sad to see them advance no further. I celebrated my first Father’s Day after my father passed. Jesse dyed his hair two colors this year and looked like he should be cheering for Brazil with his half yellow, half green hairstyle. Renee and I went to see Toy Story 3 and Sherk Forever After. TS 3 was better, but they both had some laughs. Jesse went to camp in the mountains while I attended the Voices That Matter Web Design Conference in San Francisco. We spent the 4th of July at home and watched the fireworks from the backyard on a rather cool night. Last week, I attended the ESRI User Conference in San Diego and increased my GIS Web API knowledge while enjoying many meals in the Gaslamp Quarter.

This brings us to the past weekend’s activities which revolved around attending our 3rd Comic-Con. We left for San Diego after Renee finished work on Thursday and arrived just before midnight. We settled in at my best friend Jim’s condo after waking his roommate. We were up early Friday morning and off to the trolley station for our journey to the Convention Center. The closer we got, the more crowded the trolley became until noone could get on due to standing room only. We joined the swarm of attendees pouring across the street and found our way to the registration area to pick up our badges, Warner Bros Studio bags and event guides. We headed for the Expo Floor before realizing that we should have stayed where we were for an autograph session. Jesse wanted to get a postcard and autograph from the writer of several Warhammer 40,000 books and the upcoming movie, Dan Abnett. The line was longer than the one for several stars form the Farscpae TV series in the next booth. Afterward, we headed back to the expo floor to begin our end to end journey. We made it 3/4 of the way before deciding to leave so I could attend the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG game panel. We stood in line for an hour and barely made it inside. This room hosted Star Wars panels all day and rooms are not cleared after each one. We left once the question period began and headed to the blood drive booth. We were directed to its new location and then went the Del Rey Star Wars expo booth for a book signing by Sean Williams, author of The Force Unleashed novel and the newly released Old Republic: Fatal Alliance novel. We journeyed across the show floor again and went to the blood drive. It took 1 1/2 hrs to complete the process. We were rewarded with a large True Blood T-shirt (too small for either of us), vampire bite band-aids and a True Blood bottle of water. In previous years, we left with a big bundle of toys/collector items, so we were not very impressed.

Inside Flynn's Arcade
Sign at the back of Flynn's Arcade

I convinced Renee and Jesse to take a walk into the Gaslamp to the spot were I saw Flynn’s Arcade while attended the conference the week prior. We were rewarded with a pass to enter. At the door we were given a Tron coin purse filled with Flynn’s Arcade tokens. The arcade was filled with 80’s games like Joust, Space Invaders and the Tron game Space Paranoids. One wall was filled with TVs showing gameplay from the new Tron game. At the back of the arcade under the Tron sign, a hallway led the Flynn’s workshop. Lights flashed and dialogue played from the movie and doors opened leading to a bright blue lighted hallway. Rounding the corner, we entered one of the coolest rooms called the End of The Line Club. It was designed just like the Tron world with blue lights and sleek shapes. They had many props from the movie and upcoming products based on the movie displayed. They gave us free Coke Zeros in aluminum bottles too. Suddenly, the lights dimmed and we here audio from the movie playing while lights flash and change color. The walls begin to display scenes from the movie and we hear Flynn. During this, a model dressed in movie wardrobe walks around the area. This was one of the coolest things we saw all weekend. After wandering around Flynn’s a little more, we exit and visit the Palm Restaurant to see some of the new Marvel drawings on the wall. We stopped at Cafe Diem from the Eureka TV show on SyFy Network. After catching the trolley back, we visited with my Goddaughter Christina, her husband Marc and enjoyed seeing their soon to be 1 yr old son at Jim’s condo.

After a short night, we packed up and headed for Qualcomm Stadium to catch the trolley. We arrived at the Convetnion Center and hurried through registration to get in line for Ballroom 20. We still ended up on the stairs coming up from the Marina. While in line, I left Renee and Jesse to photograph the 501st Legion Star Wars fans as they posed in costume on the back steps of the Convention Center. Despite the long line, we did manage to make it into the panel for Chuck. It was kicked off by a montage of clips from the previous season and “Jeffster.” Always a fun panel. We decided to stay and sit through Family Guy and The Cleaveland Show so we could see Futurama and The Simpsons panel. The scenes from the upcoming 3rd Family Guy Star Wars spoof were pretty funny. The Cleveland Show did a table read for an episode based on Comic-Con that brought a lot of laughs. The Futurama panel was funny as well with scenes from a Comic-Con episode and a table reading for an upcoming episode. The Simpsons panel was funny, but we left once questions from the audience began to head for another room.

The cast of Mythbusters
The cast of Mythbusters

We were able to avoid a line by going into the Cartoon Voices panel which had many of the voice actors from older cartoons. We were there to see the panel following it: Warehouse 13 and Eureka. We enjoyed both of those panels and then sat through Nikita and Human Target to have a seat for the Mythbusters panel. The Mythbusters stars were a BIG hit and didn’t disappoint with clips of the upcoming season and behind the scenes stories. We sat through 10 hours of panels that day and were wiped out as we headed to the trolley and Qualcomm. We arrived home just before midnight Saturday night. After a short night, Renee was off to work early this morning. It was a fun time, but we think 3 days might be better than 2 at Comic Con. Last year, we did 4 days, but it was just too much. Great time and now we are thinking about next year as tickets sell out faster each year.

Time for the bi-monthly blog post

Hmmmm, let me think. It’s been two weeks since the last post so something must have happened that I can write about. Well there are the obvious sports related things: Angels sweeping the Dodgers(included for my best friend Jim), Lakers advance to the NBA Finals and battle the hated Celtics, the US begins Group play at the World Cup, all of which I enjoyed watching from the comfort of my home except the losses to Boston. No enjoyment at all for those, but the Lakers will wrap things up in the next two games to secure another title.

I went with a former co-worker Rich, who passed through town, to lunch at Lola’s in Barstow a couple of weeks back. I also took a large group to Rosita’s for lunch and Jerry took great care of everyone. Friday night, Jerry threw his 45th birthday bash at Rosita’s and even got hair extensions put in to rock the mullet. It was great seeing lots of Barstow High classmates there (Jerry, Jessica, Laurie, Gary, Derelyn, Clark, Chris, Cruz, Theresa). The old saying still holds true, “84 parties more.” Saturday, after watching the US-England match, Renee and I worked in the yard taking care of weeds and raking the gravel on the driveway. I did read a couple of Star Wars novels too. I finished Fate of the Jedi:Allies yesterday. That’s about all from here. Hope everyone is going to have a great summer as the kids get out and the vacations begin.

The benefit of a friend

Over the past two weekends, we have been very fortunate to spend time with our two longest and best friends. We traveled to San Diego to celebrate the promotion and graduation of my best friend Jim Ritch on May 23rd. Jim has attained the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer(E-9) and finished his Masters degree. I have known him since Drivers Ed class back at Barstow High School in 1982. We struck up a friendship that saw me enter the Army while he married and had two beautiful daughters. Years later, I would be out of the Army as he began his Navy career. Through it all, our friendship has remained close. He lost his mother and this past year I lost my father. We have watched our children grow and now he is a grandfather. I am so very grateful that we have remained close.

This past weekend, we received a surprise call from Renee’s best friend, Michelle Daley. Like Jim and I, they have been friends since high school. We spent Saturday hanging out in Palm Springs together. After they graduated high school, we followed Michelle to Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. While we were youth pastors, she came and spoke to our youth group. She later spent Thanksgiving with us in Tulsa, OK at a trying time in her life. We attended her graduation from Dallas Baptist while we were visiting from Kentucky. We also flew out to spend some time with her and break in her Chocolate Fountain. Mmmmmm!

The greatest benefit of each of these individuals in our lives is the constant knowing that they are there for you. Proverbs 18:24 states: “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Thanks for sticking by us over the years Jim and Michelle. Many have come and gone, but you have remained faithful. We are both so very glad to call you friend.

Two weeks later…another update

So I have fallen into the routine of updating the blog every couple of weeks. I suppose I should update it more often, but hey at least I am updating it. Let me see now, what has transpired in the last couple of weeks? I finished the first half of my 2 part SQL course at VVC. It is an online course and was paid for by my company. I managed to get an A and have begun the second part. A couple of weekends ago, we went in search of footwear for the giant living in our house. Jesse had not driven on the freeway before and got some practice by driving us to Tanger Outlet in Barstow. We visited the Reebok store, but they only had baseball cleats in size 16. Next stop was the Van’s store in the almost deserted Outlet Center across the street. Fortunately, both Renee and Jesse found shoes they liked. Jesse then drove to the Mall at Victor Valley so I could get an AC adapter for the recumbent bike. No more batteries! Overall, Jesse did very well for his first time driving on the interstate freeway.

Mid-week I took a trip with a coworker to San Diego to attend a software presentation. The side benefit of the trip was enjoying lunch with my best friend Jim Ritch. The amount of mileage that day was a bit tiresome, but it was worth it as Jim recieved word a few days later that he had been promoted to Master Chief(E-9). Congrats brother! I also had lunch mid-week with some old classmates. It was fun sharing laughs about old times and catching up on each other’s lives.

This past weekend included getting a lot done around the house. Friday after work, Renee and I stripped the old carpet off of the front porch. It lasted two years, but had become a trip hazard. They really don’t make carpet that can stand the extremes of our weather for more than a couple of years. I don’t know if we will put any more down right away. Saturday morning, we were up early as Jesse had to be at Apple Valley High School to take his SAT. When I returned home, it was time to work on the swamp cooler. Unfortunately, the water pump no longer worked so a quick trip to Lowes and I was done working on the roof. Inside I had some acoustic ceiling to scrap off around the vent as it was looking pretty bad. After cleanup and some semi-gloss paint, the vent went up on the ceiling. Jesse called to be picked up and then we ate lunch. At around 3, I decided it was time to get the weeds in the yard cut down. I spent 2 hours mowing down all the weeds in the back yard. Renee came out and helped clean some the hazards out of the back pasture. That night, we watched an old DVD and ate popcorn.

Sunday, we went to church and Jesse did some driving in Victorville to help prepare for his driving test. We returned home and spent the rest of the day watching the Lakers win and reading. May is here so that means we have a birthday coming up. Soon we will have a 17 year old and hopefully another licensed driver in our house. Hope you and your family are well. Please let us know how you are doing. Blessings.

What’s up? Work and play.

The last few weeks have included mostly going to work which, considering the times, is a good thing. A couple of weekends ago, Jesse went to Magic Mountain with his youth group. While he was gone, Renee and I had a day out together. We went to breakfast and then went to see “How to Train Your Dragon” at the movies. I know it’s a kids movie, but we are still kids at heart and always enjoy watching cartoons. Afterward, we went to Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga. We went to Borders bookstore and wondered which novel Jesse would like, but couldn’t get him on his phone, so we left a message. We then went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and it was busy with students from Etiwanda HS dressed up for prom. We enjoyed a nice meal together and then returned to Borders just as Jesse called us back. We picked up novels for each of us and returned back home. Later that night, Jesse called to be picked up after a full day. A windy, cold day on Sunday kept us inside and out of doing yardwork.

The work week went by and I enjoyed listening in on Live webinars from NAPP on the new features in Photoshop CS5. The weather was great this past weekend so I waged war on the weed kingdom invading our yard with my hula hoe and Renee at my side. We managed to get a large section of the front yard and cleared 10 feet away all around the house. Muscles and joints were a little sore afterward, but the yard looks a little better. I also worked with Jesse to get his speedometer issue resolved on his truck. A little 5w-30 oil on the cable and it is working great. Saturday night, I went into town to see my friend Martial and his band play some R&B style rock-n-roll. They played great. Yesterday, we went to church and came home in time to watch the Lakers get their first win of the playoffs. Renee and I went to the local theater and donated blood in exchange for free movie passes. This also kept me from having to do anymore work in the yard. That’s the latest from our world. Hope that you and your family are doing well and we look forward to hearing from each of you.

Easter Weekend

Friday, I stopped at the library on the way home to pick up the latest Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi novel Backlash. It is a series set many years after the movies and follows Luke Skywalker and his son Ben as they battle a new Tribe of Sith. The weather was pretty windy so plans of washing the vehicles and working on Jesse’s truck were put on hold. Saturday morning, we did go see Clash of the Titans since Jesse was interested in it. Renee had seen the original over and over because her younger brother couldn’t get enough of it. It seemed a bit slow at times and the dialogue was plodding. They changed the story and it left me thinking the original one in all its cheesiness was a better movie. Great effects, but a badly written remake.

That evening, we met a high school classmate and his wife for dinner. It was really great to see him as I had been told he had passed away soon after we graduated. We discovered that his brother was the one that had passed. Somehow the names were confused and I was told he was dead. This certainly made for great “Resurrection” celebration. Sunday we attended church and afterward, Jesse had his annual hair dye applied. This time he decided against blue. He decided he wanted green hair. Renee and Jesse mixed some of the old blue dye with some new yellow dye and now he has bright green hair. He is either a giant fluorescent leprechaun, a pasty “Green Giant” or the largest Oompa-Loompa ever with need of some time in the tanning bed.

We also had quite a surprise when an earthquake hit Sunday afternoon. The wind was blowing so hard, I mistook it for the house shaking due to it. Jesse said “Earthquake” from his room and when I stood and headed there, I felt like I was going to fall down. It was like having a head rush that makes you lose your balance. It lasted what seemed like a minute. I checked the house and didn’t find any damage.

That was our weekend. Hope you and your family are doing well and had a great Easter/Resurrection celebration.

March is coming to an end.

With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, I find myself doing less and less with our blog. Let me see if I can recap a little of what has taken place this month in our lives. I began the month feeling a little, well ok, a lot under the weather as I had a massively sore throat. Being the sharing kinda guy that I am, I passed it on to the rest of the family. I think we are finally feeling better now.

We received our tax return and FINALLY got a replacement recumbent stationary bike. It is a lot better model than the one that broke in November. The seat is a little easier to adjust too. I am back to riding 4-5 times a week at 10-11 miles in a little over a half-hour. I also attended some on-site training in Las Vegas, NV in support of the USFWS Desert Tortoise Recovery office.

The weather warmed up and we did a little work in the yard. Speaking of the yard, California Poppies have started to sprout and bloom. We also spotted a surprising 7 rabbits in the yard together at the same time. What a bunch of long-eared hooligans hanging out in the front yard like they own it! We also saw some tiny baby rabbits running around the backyard.

This past weekend, Renee and I went to the Mall of Victor Valley early Saturday morning and exchanged our old 150w floor lamps for more energy efficient 26w fluorescent floor lamps. I also worked a little on Jesse’s truck before settling on the coach to read and watching the NCAA tournament. That night, we played the game “Life” and for the 1st time ever Renee won and Jesse came in last. I’m not sure he will want to play it again soon. Sunday, we went to church and then over to watch Wrestlemania 26 with our good friends, the Haprovs. It was quite an event with Brett Hart returning after 13 years to take revenge on Mr. McMahon. The match of the night was the Undertaker beating HBK(Shawn Michaels) to end his career.

That’s about it from here. We hope that you and your family are well and that your year is going great. Blessings!

Weekend Update

Friday night, Jesse drove us to dinner and then went to a movie night at his youth group while Renee and I went grocery shopping. Saturday was a wet and dreary day spent switching between coverage of the mudslides in LA and the blizzard in DC where my brother is working. When I went to check the mail during a break in the rain, the street was like driving on a freshly frosted cake. Our yard was a series of 1-2 inch puddles. That evening we watched a DVD before calling it a night.

Sunday began quietly with clear blue skies. After reading the paper and little of a Star Wars novel, I decided to check the fluids in Jesse’s truck and run it a little. I discovered that it was leaking antifreeze and we were off to Autozone to obtain a replacement for the leaking part. We were able to fix that without much trouble and then I resumed reading the novel until the Super Bowl began. I thought the ads this year were not so good, but was pleased that the Saints won. I didn’t like when Drew Brees left San Diego, but was glad to see him and the long-suffering Saints and city of New Orleans get their celebration. We finished the evening watching Undercover Boss which was ok, but won’t last long.