Monday, July 28, 2008

Hypermiling Update - Nitrogen Tires

I haven't posted on Hypermiling for a little while, for a couple of reasons. The first is that my telecommuting on Wednesdays has cut down on my weekly fuel efficiency somewhat. 5 long round trips a week grants better average miles per gallon than 4 round trips plus scattered city driving on the off days. The second reason is that my wife filled up my tank, and instead of resetting the trip-ometer, she reset my average mpg gauge. I had to start from scratch on the hypermiling. I think ultimately this was good, as it now only reflects my driving, and not the previous owner. I am almost back into the 25s again, so it seems it was fairly accurate the first time.

I am writing now to tell you about something new I am trying. Ultimately hypermiling is a cumulative thing. It takes a combination of behaviors and tactics to get optimal results. The latest tactic I am trying is the replacement of standard air in my tires.

The Oxygen in a typical tire fillup contributes to a number of problems. One, it is combustible. This means it can explode. Two, it causes oxidation on the metal rims and other parts of the wheel. This means rust. Three, it causes the tires to run at a hotter temperature, which contributes to tire breakdown and pressure loss. The solution? Fill your tires with Nitrogen.

Nitrogen is the most common molecule in the air we breath. It is a larger molecule than Oxygen, so if your tire does leak it is harder for Nitrogen to escape. Nitrogen does not heat up as quickly as Oxygen, and apparently is not as combustible. This means a safer experience all around.

Where Nitrogen fits into the hypermiling mold is the consistency of tire pressure. As a typically-filled tire begins to lose air, the car has to work harder to get from point A to point B. When Nitrogen enters the tire, it leaks 3-4 times less quickly, so you maintain a consistent tire pressure for a longer period of time. The better your tire pressure, the better the mileage per gallon.

Today was my first day of commuting on Nitrogen-filled tires. I will report next week how things go, and if I notice a tangible difference.

Until then, happy hypermiling.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Crazy Weekend

This weekend was supposed to be my resting weekend. The weekend that made up for all the busy weekends we keep having. I did get quite a bit more sleep this time, but we still managed to pack a lot of stuff in.

We got up early to take my car in to replace a defective tire. This tire apparently was bad the day I bought my car, but my wife didn't tell me she saw a bubble in the side wall of the tire. 3 months later I notice the problem and the dealer, Cars 101 in Oxnard, won't step up. Never buy a car from them. This is only the latest in a series of hassles they heaped upon us. While I was getting my tire done, I thought it was time to try changing the air in my tires to Nitrogen. More on that later.

The tires were supposed to take about an hour, so we walked down the street to the Bed, Bath & Beyond, the Payless Shoes, and Target. We ended up picking something up from all three places. This made quite the trip when my son didn't want to make the walk back. Carrying him, some sodas, shoes, and whatever else we got turned out to be a bigger chore than we had hoped. The car was ready on time though, so we were pretty happy with that.

Next stop was supposed to be home, but it didn't work out. My wife reminded me of the Salsa Festival that was going on this weekend. I love spicy food, so this festival sounded pretty good to me. We ended up spending a couple hours there. I had a lot of fun. Learn more at Surfer J's Grub & Stuff: Oxnard Salsa Festival.

We ended up finally relaxing at around 4:30 last night. My wife had plans with my buddy's wife for lunch today, so I ended up watching the boy for a couple of hours. He still prefers Mommy, so this is sometimes easier said than done. He behaved very well today though. He threw one fit when Mommy left, and cried for about 15 minutes. After that, all was good. He ate most of his lunch, played well, and didn't throw any tantrums. I was pleased with how the day went.

My wife and son went down for a nap, so I am finally able to update my blogs. I had a really good weekend so far. I can't wait to go to the Salsa Festival again next year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Crazy Weekend

I think I have finally recovered enough from my weekend to talk about it. Things picked up speed pretty quickly and only just slowed down. Friday night I saw The Dark Knight. I posted a review on Surfer J's Reviews. This was such an intense movie. I could say more about it here, but this is gonna get long enough as it is. Check out my review (The Dark Knight ). This was only the beginning.

I had been planning my wife's surprise party for over a month. Saturday was the big day, almost exactly a month later than the actual event. She turned 30, so this needed to be a pretty good party. It is almost impossible to surprise my wife. Even when I manage to pull it off, she somehow guesses at the last minute. This is so consistent that I have to try extra hard each time to come up with something that she won't possibly guess. This meant I couldn't buy any supplies until the day of. I had a three hour window to pull it all together. My wife's close friends came over to serve as decoys, and one of them brought her husband with her. He had to get out at the Subway restaurant across the street from my house so my wife wouldn't see him. We had everything planned to the last detail. :)

My son decided it was time to throw an "I need a nap" tantrum seconds before our friend arrives to help. I was cleaning all morning. My wife commented on this to her friends when they arrived, but she still didn't catch on. She told them, "He even vacuumed." I don't vacuum. My wife is a Stay At Home Mom, so she usually has all the vacuuming done before I get home. This was the first time I turned on the vacuum. It feels really weird to say that. Moving on, she didn't know why I was cleaning all morning. I cleaned a little more when our friend arrived, and put him to work. A little cleaning and then babysitting a sleeping toddler were his duties. I had to run to Costco to get the cake.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Costco cake. You go in, with at least 24 hours notice, fill out a sheet of paper and drop it in the slot. You then have faith that the cake will be ready at the time you indicated. My wife loves carrot cake, so I ordered a carrot cake. This cake is HUGE. $18.99 gets you a cake big enough to feed 48 people (in small pieces. A little less with bigger pieces). It came in at half the price the local bakery was going to charge me. The cake was worth it. I am still eating it.

So, cake in hand, it is time to get some more supplies from the grocery store. I ran into one of my friends at the grocery store. He had been buying flowers for my wife. I sent him to the Dollar Tree to pick up balloons and crate paper so we can decorate. He improvised and bought a birthday table cloth (paper). It turned out to be something we needed. We met back at my house, and had 30 minutes until my wife and her friends were due.

The boy woke up during the babysitting. He had already been upset that Mommy went somewhere, so I figured he might not like waking up to find out he was being babysat by a virtual stranger. They haven't seen each other in a long time. I knew how to get around this though. As I left I told our friend that if he wakes up, just turn on Star Wars. It worked like a charm. My son was very pleasant when I got back home. He had his Darth Vader fix.

I found out that my charcoal was a little wet, so I needed to babysit the coals for a bit. This left my friends to finish decorating without me. I got the coals lit, and only needed to re-light them twice.

I grilled up a tri-tip, using a great Guinness Tri-Tip Marinade recipe. My wife came up with the basics, and I made my own version of it for her party. We made some fresh salsa and guacamole, deep fried some flour tortillas to use as chips, and made tacos out of the tri-tip.

My friend bought some noisemakers and distributed them. My wife's friend kept us updated through subtle text messages and seemingly random phone calls to her husband. My son loved the noisemakers, and almost gave the surprise away. He was blowing the "horn" as she was walking up. We got him to quiet down and sent him to open the door. This is not uncommon, so when we shouted surprise and blew the noisemakers, she was taken aback. The surprise worked. She had no clue that we had all conspired to throw the party.

The food and company were great. We had a lot of fun.

Our weekend took a more serious turn with news of an impending divorce among a couple of our friends. This put a dark cloud on the rest of the weekend, and needless to stay it is still hanging around.

We went to the 3rd Annual Pirate Festival in Ventura on Sunday afternoon. My son was in a weird mood, so we didn't stay long. He loves pirates, boats, water, and parrots. He got to see all of it. We watched a guy swallow a sword, walked around a bit, and finally left. There were tons of people around but not much to do. It was still worth checking out, so I am glad we did.

All in all, the weekend provided an intense emotional roller-coaster. Batman is pretty intense. The birthday party brought us up pretty high, and the news from our friends sent us plunging pretty low. We are hoping to plateau for a while. We need to recover a bit.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick Update

I had an incredibly busy weekend. Be sure to check back for news on my wife's surprise birthday party, the 3rd Annual Pirate Festival, and more. I posted a review on The Dark Knight. Check it out on my blog, Surfer J's Reviews. I posted a new Guinness Tri-Tip Marinade Recipe at Surfer J's Grub & Stuff. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tough Week for Obama

I have been somewhat entertained the last week or so by the ills that have befallen Senator Obama. One thinks of the classic line, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" Not only did Jesse Jackson make a blunder on the Fox network, the New Yorker made a more blatant error.

Let's start with Jesse Jackson. Apparently Jesse doesn't like how Obama talks to black men. This bothers him so much that he wants to "cut his nuts off". Really Jesse? What could he possibly have said to earn that kind of ire? From what I understand, Obama was preaching the same message Bill Cosby has been preaching for years, that men need to be in the home with their kids. This doesn't sound so bad to me. Certainly not bad enough for what Jackson said. I also have come to understand that Jackson's comments were even more crude than the news stories suggested. He reportedly used the same word that he blasts others for using. The one word that we should be beyond by now, if not for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as all the rappers and R&B stars out there. You know the word I am talking about, so I will leave it at that.

While Obama was still (theoretically) reeling from the impact of Jackson's attack, the New Yorker hit him even harder. The New Yorker, a liberal magazine if ever there was one, decided to put a satirical image on its cover. This image, completely in jest, depicted every one of the things conservatives fear Obama for. I am sure many of you have seen the image by now, so I will only mention it briefly. The scene shows Obama in the Oval Office, with a portrait of Osama bin Laden on the wall. There is an American Flag in the fire, and Obama's wife is carrying an assault rifle. Obama himself is dressed in Muslim garb. They really walked into it this time. The New Yorker spread the fear of Obama faster than any conservative could.

Has Obama earned this type of treatment? Probably not. For the most part Obama sounds pretty reasonable. He has shown poor judgement in his friends though. From his former pastor, to Jesse Jackson, to the liberals at the New Yorker, Obama is finding himself treading water.

I have still not decided what I feel about his capability to run this nation. I hope that his choice in friends is not an indication of what will happen if he does in fact become President.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Entrecard hits it out of the park with SezWho

I have been using Entrecard for a a while now, and it keeps getting better. I am officially a "Drop Master" on two of my blogs, and will be soon on my third. This has generated a lot of traffic on my blogs. Today Entrecard announced a partnership with SezWho. If you noticed a new post rating near my comments, you have seen SezWho in action.

Entrecard has been great for getting traffic to your page, but a lot of times people just blow through your site, power dropping along the way. This new service encourages people to actually read your blog. You can earn more credits by taking the time to comment on people's blogs.

I already installed SezWho on all of my blogs, so I am looking forward to seeing my comment quantity explode. According to Entrecard's blog, they chose SezWho because it leaves your comments in your hands. Other sites apparently "hijack" your comments, and you no longer own them. SezWho is different, and your comments remain on your own blog.

Entrecard made it easy to sign up for SezWho as well. They also made it easy to find people who enabled SezWho on their blog so you can focus your comments where they will earn you the most credits.

If you haven't signed up for Entrecard yet, I recommend it. Go ahead and add SezWho to your arsenal too. I have been pretty happy with Entrecard so far, and things keep getting better.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Exhausting Day

My son won't stop getting up at 5:30 a.m. What in the world can possibly wake a kid up at 5:30 a.m.? This is Saturday kiddo, let Mommy and Daddy sleep! But no, it is time to get up. Mommy takes first shift and Daddy takes over at 6. Funnily enough, yesterday I wrote a review on my other blog about one of his toys, the Busy Ball Popper. and guess what Daddy was playing with this morning? That's right, the Busy Ball Popper. You can Read The Review Here.

I caught a bit of a nap this morning when he asked to watch Darth, otherwise known as Star Wars. He made it through Empire while I was sleeping, and mostly through A New Hope. This kid is vying for my record of most times watched. I think he has a long road ahead though. :)

Finally he want down for a nap, and peace was restored to our household. The peace was short lived though, as his nap was over quickly. I bought my wife some time by wrestling with him for bit. He is getting stronger each day I think. He definitely can hold his own for a toddler.

We went to a new park today. New to us that is. This one was not designed for parental supervision the way the other ones have been. This meant that Daddy had to contort his body in weird ways to make it into some of the slides. I am not a small man, and this took some doing. We had a lot of fun at the park. The slides were slicker than the ones we are used to, so even I got some speed going down them.

After the park was what is turning into a nightly walk around the neighborhood. He peddles his tricycle while I push it, and my wife just walks along. The weather has been great for walking lately.

After an early dinner and a bath, it sounds like my son is winding down for the day. He will fight bed time again I am sure, but my wife has been getting better at putting him down for the night. I did it for a long time, as only my singing would work for him. Now it seems the playing field is a little more level. She has put him to bed more than me for the last several weeks.

It has been a long day, but bed time is still far away. Blogging, commenting where I can, and doing my Entrecard drops takes a lot of time lately. Hopefully I can get some unsolicited traffic soon. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Son - Loads of Fun

My son had quite the day today. He finally slept in past 5:30 am for the first time since Wednesday. He still woke up before I left the house, so he got ready with Daddy. This involved putting deodorant on, "shaving", and putting gel in his hair for spiking. Daddy is in sore need of a haircut, and hasn't used the gel for a few weeks. This is still the routine though, according to my son, so he got gel.

While I was at work he pulled all the Star Wars DVDs off the bookshelf where we keep our movie collection. He was searching for the box with Darth Vader. He had a 4 in 6 chance of finding one, so sure enough he did. He made my wife put on The Empire Strikes Back for the 5th time this week. He loves that movie, but Mommy is growing weary of it. Too bad he is too spent to watch it by the time I get home.

He is very interested in all things Darth Vader. Varying between "Star Wars" and "Darth", he repeats these words over and over, much to my wife's dismay. Daddy thinks it is great. :)

Tonight after dinner Daddy and son got to wrestle a bit. He is getting interested in rough-housing, so Daddy has volunteered for the job. We both love every minute of it. My son can take quite the wrestling match. Some other kids I know would be crying on the first contact. I won't mention names here, but there are quite a few of them. ;). I am hopefully training my son to be tough when he needs to be, and yet be tender when he needs to be as well. He is too young for me to really teach these lessons, but I am toning things down so he can understand what I am teaching. As he gets older, the wrestling will get more fun. :)

Daddy had something to do tonight, and Mommy was tired, so Daddy made a deal when it was time to come inside. Daddy promised if he was good and came inside nicely, then when Daddy was ready we could go outside again and he could ride his trike. While Daddy was occupied, Mommy, not knowing the deal was made, tried to put him into his pajamas. He firmly told her "Daddy said play!" I am taking her word for it here, but she swears he said it really clearly. He was right. Daddy had made a promise, and my wife waited until I could take him outside.

The weather was really nice outside, so I asked my wife to join us on our walk. My son has a nifty tricycle that was designed for pre-tricycle-ready kids. This means it has a long handle that Daddy can use to push and steer while the boy learns how to peddle. We took a nice long walk around the block, and my son actually went inside without a fight. I was pretty happy about that, since he tends to throw fits when it is time to go inside.

All in all, my son was very well behaved today. He listened fairly well, wrestled, watched Star Wars, rode his tricycle, went to the park with Mommy, and went to bed relatively on time. Tomorrow should be even busier with Daddy home all day. I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Global Warming - Really

Maybe it is because I grew up 30 miles from Palm Springs, but I don't think it is terribly hot outside. Sure Woodland Hills scorched at 113° a couple of weeks ago, but the Valley is supposed to be hot. The Valley used to be a desert.

According to Wikipedia, "Los Angeles is a chaparral-covered desert that was transformed by sprinklers, pipes and Mulholland's public waterworks." All this is to say that it is SUPPOSED to be hot in LA.

Ventura County is another matter however. Here is the forecast for the next couple of days:

Date Conditions High/Low Temp
Fri Jul 11 Partly Cloudy 68°
Sat Jul 12 Partly Cloudy 70°
Sun Jul 13 Partly Cloudy 68°
Mon Jul 14 Sunny 67°
Tue Jul 15 Sunny 68°

I think you get the picture. This is JULY people. July - officially summer weather, right? Why do I have to clean my windshield every morning from the moisture? Why has it looked like it might rain almost every day the last 7 weeks? I do live half a block from the beach, but still. I have never enjoyed such a cold summer. I am loving every minute of this.

If this is global warming, bring it on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Telecommuting - The Ultimate In Hypermiling

Today I joined the ranks of telecommuters. I am only doing it one day a week for now, on a trial basis, but even so I am pretty stoked. With hypermiling, as much as I do of it at least, it takes just under a quarter tank of gas per day to drive to work. Averaged out, it should save me at least a tank of gas per month, which at the moment costs $65.

Today was my first day, as I mentioned above. Normally I get up at 5:30 a.m. to leave the house between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. I move very slowly in the morning, so I have to set my alarm to 5:00 in order to click snooze for a half hour. This morning I thought I would get up at 7:00 in order to eat breakfast and have a nice casual morning before beginning work at 7:30. My son had other plans. We were awakened at 5:45. Yep, a full 15 minutes later than any other day. What a great start this morning. :)

As a Web Developer, it makes sense for me to telecommute. My company pays for my cell phone and internet access, and provided a laptop for home use (even though it is a Mac), so why shouldn't I use what my company is providing for company business? I am very glad for the chance to test it out.

Telecommuting has been done before in my department, but it failed on each attempt. Some failures were due to misunderstandings, and others through goofing off I understand. All the more pressure on me to prove the system can work. I think today went pretty well.

My office is pretty secluded, so working at home granted me almost the same amount of privacy I usually enjoy. I had to check in with my supervisor more than normal, but that is to be expected for now. Everyone needs to see that it can work before we all breathe easier.

I will keep writing about the progress each week, and let you know how it goes. Until then, happy hypermiling, telecommuting, carpooling, or anything else you do to save gas. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Newest Star Wars Geek

My son has officially joined the ranks of Star Wars geeks out there. No doubt his daddy is to blame. :) The other day he started singing the first few lines of the Imperial March, also known as Vader's theme music. This kid has not put two notes together his whole life, and comes out singing the Imperial March. Daddy was proud.

He can identify Star Wars merchandise on sight now. All my books and toys fascinate him. "Star, Star..." is a constant sentence in this house. Sometimes he goes all the way and says "Star Wars". Other times he says, "Darth". He LOVES Darth Vader. Maybe it has something to do with Daddy telling him, "I am your Father. Search your feelings. You know it to be true" while he was in the womb.

Either way, a Star Wars nerd he is becoming. Daddy is pretty stoked. How bad would it be if one of my kids didn't like Star Wars. That would be a shame. lol. Of course in reality it wouldn't affect my love for him if he didn't like it, but I am happy for the bond we are forming.

Tonight as my wife was putting him to bed he began singing the Imperial March again. Music to Daddy's ears. Now if only I can get him to sit through an entire movie. Two year old kids aren't exactly known for their attention span. The time is coming though. He has been making it further and further into Return of the Jedi.

When R2-D2 launches Luke's lightsaber into the air while Luke does a flip off of the plank he is walking, there is always a cheer of joy. He loves that scene. Any scene with Vader, Chewbacca, or R2-D2 is bound to catch his attention. He is picking out his favorites.

I am looking forward to my future lightsaber battles with him. Only then will he be truly initiated. For now, Darth Tater (Mr. Potato Head) and the Spud Trooper are his pals. Chewbacca and various other Vader toys are rapidly climbing his favorite toy list too. Daddy couldn't be more proud. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July Fun

I went to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to watch the fireworks show on the 4th. I didn't actually go to the bowl itself, but to the hills overlooking the bowl, so we could watch the fireworks without dealing with all the crowds and mayhem below.

As you can see in the above pictures, it was a bit hazy for most of the afternoon. Having not seen the Santa Barbara/Goleta fire's smoke in Ventura or Malibu, I figured the smoke was moving inland, and channeling through the hills toward LA.

If you look in the pic above you may see the mass of vehicles near the Rose Bowl. I hate getting stuck in traffic like that, as it takes 30 minutes just to leave the lot. I really enjoy being above the fray, so to speak. I also enjoy watching fireworks without laying down or craning my neck to see.

My uncle has lived in the hills above the Rose Bowl for 6 years now, and we have watched the fireworks from his house for at least 4 of them. We head out to Pasadena to enjoy a nice afternoon of food and swimming. He always has a lot of great food.

My son got the most enjoyment out of the pool this time. He can't swim yet, but he wants to. He LOVES water. I have been holding him afloat on his stomach lately, and encouraging him to paddle and kick. He usually does, but he added a new trick this time. He started doing a breaststroke. His whole chest and head were coming up out of the water in regular intervals, mimicking a breaststroke almost perfectly. He didn't get his head in the water at all, but he was definitely accomplishing something with his strokes. Later he decided to brave getting his face wet. We encouraged him to put his head under water, mostly by example. He got excited and dipped his face in the water like Daddy did. This was encouraged by lots of applause, so he kept going. I think he will be swimming before he is 3.

The fireworks show was pretty cool. I had heard on the radio earlier in the week that the last minute of the show was going to have 2/3 of the fireworks in it. They narrowed it even further to say something like 1,400 explosions would happen in the final 40 seconds. I was looking forward to this.

Each year they add something new to the fireworks arsenal. A few years back it was those happy faces. This year there were a couple new ones. They made what looked like the planet Saturn. The addition I liked the most reminded me of the video game Centipede. A series of lights snaked up and settled in line with the previous one. It is harder to describe it than it is to appreciate it.

As you can see in one of the pictures, we were watching all the fireworks at eye level. No craning our necks. No laying uncomfortably in the grass. This was my kind of show. We had a lot of fun, and can't wait for next year.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
Text located at

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Georgia: North Carolina: Massachusetts: Pennsylvania: New York: New Hampshire:
Button Gwinnett William Hooper John Hancock Robert Morris William Floyd Josiah Bartlett
Lyman Hall Joseph Hewes Maryland: Benjamin Rush Philip Livingston William Whipple
George Walton John Penn Samuel Chase Benjamin Franklin Francis Lewis Massachusetts:
  South Carolina: William Paca John Morton Lewis Morris Samuel Adams
  Edward Rutledge Thomas Stone George Clymer New Jersey: John Adams
  Thomas Heyward, Jr. Charles Carroll of Carrollton James Smith Richard Stockton Robert Treat Paine
  Thomas Lynch, Jr. Virginia: George Taylor John Witherspoon Elbridge Gerry
  Arthur Middleton George Wythe James Wilson Francis Hopkinson Rhode Island:
    Richard Henry Lee George Ross John Hart Stephen Hopkins
    Thomas Jefferson Delaware: Abraham Clark William Ellery
    Benjamin Harrison Caesar Rodney   Connecticut:
    Thomas Nelson, Jr. George Read   Roger Sherman
    Francis Lightfoot Lee Thomas McKean   Samuel Huntington
    Carter Braxton     William Williams
          Oliver Wolcott
          New Hampshire:
          Matthew Thornton

Today's Ultrasound - 22 Weeks

We went to get an ultrasound done for boy #2 today. Let me tell you that real insurance is better than being on Medi-Cal any day. I wish that all doctors and nurses treated all patients the same, but having been on the losing end of that political game, it is nice being on the other side this time around.

We confirmed that it is indeed a boy. I wanted to be sure that the battle of the names is worthwhile, since we already know what we would name a daughter. We would be happy with either a boy or girl, but we are pretty stoked that he's a boy.

Not much else to say about this, other than the tech thought he looked good. He seems to be developing right on schedule, so we are happy about that.

Poll Results

I know all of you are anxiously awaiting the results of my poll. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, refer to my post, Rude Neighbors for the background story.

Here is the poll question: "At What Time Of Night Is It Time To Call The Police For Your Neighbor's Loud Music's Bass Beat Thumping Your Walls?"

It seems that most of you would be ready to put an end to rude neighbors pretty early on. 10:00 p.m. held the majority vote. Only 1 said it was never okay. I think I am more inclined toward 1:00 am. I have been far more patient than this in practice though. The homeowner's association president may not be so gracious the next time it happens though. Hopefully not.

On a plus note, the neighbors have been laying low since the last incident. I have barely heard a peep out of them. I think they must have received their written warning. My wife was snubbed at the mailbox today, so something must have happened.

Well, without further ado, here are the poll results:

At What Time Of Night Is It Time To Call The Police For Your Neighbor's Loud Music's Bass Beat Thumping Your Walls?
9:30 pm 1 (6%)
10:00 pm 5 (31%)
11:00 pm 4 (25%)
1:00 am 3 (18%)
2:00 am 2 (12%)
Never 1 (6%)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Parks and Big Doggies

My two year old son is fearless. Nothing seems to phase him. This is the park we went to tonight. He is a pro at the kiddie park, so this is the upgrade. Sometimes he slides alone, sometimes with Daddy, but he always has a blast.

Mommy needed a break tonight, since he was being so clingy with her all day. Daddy took him to the park to give Mommy that break. While we were there a man walked up with a fluffy white Standard Poodle. He turned out to be pretty cool. He stopped to let my son play with the dog, and we started talking.

The guy was older, but not too old. His son is only 10 years older than I am, or 8 years older than my wife. ;) We talked about politics, society, Ventura/Oxnard in general, and more. He was pretty interesting and we agreed on quite a bit. He was impressed that someone as young as I was (he assumed I am younger than I am) was just as annoyed at the downgrading of society as he was.

While the man and I talked, my son had a lot of fun with the dog. Standard Poodles are pretty rowdy when they want to be, so she enjoyed being chased by my son. For those of you who don't know, Standard Poodles are full-sized dogs. They are almost waist high, which makes them barely qualify as a man's dog. This man admitted as much, but she turned out to be a pretty good dog. I told him as long as the dog was big it was all good.

It turned out that this would be one of the smaller dogs we saw tonight. There were a couple of big ones, one looked like a Chow/Husky mix, but I am not sure. He enjoyed them all, though the Poodle is the only one he really played with.

It started getting dark, so I told my son it was time to go home. He didn't gripe as much as normal. It seems that I tired him out just enough. I had a lot of fun. Hopefully I will see that man and his dog the next time we go to the park. My son would sure enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

En Garde

When I got home tonight I had a huge headache. I took a nap right after dinner to see if it would help. I woke up a short time later and saw my son, wearing his pirate hat and wielding his sword, approaching me. He proceeded to hack at me with the sword. I had no means of defense but my hands. Fortunately he didn't hurt me. What a thing to wake up to though. :)

A little later I was able to acquire a sword of my own, and the game was on. He is getting better with his sword. I actually have to block most of his shots now. I think tonight's sword fight was inspired by Return of the Jedi,as he watched Vader and Luke battle it out.

Whether from Pirates of the Caribbean or Return of the Jedi,this kid loves a good sword fight. I think we will have plenty of fun once he is old enough for a Force FX Lightsaber.

Top Droppers - June 2008

Thank you to all of my Entrecard droppers. I appreciate your visits. There were a lot of ties this month. Here are June's Top Droppers:

1. Turnip of Power
1. Thailand Land of Smiles
2. Unpredictable Life
3. Odd Vantage
3. Obscure History
3. E-business Ideas
4. Juliana's World
4. The Journey

My top droppers will be:
  • Added to my StumbleUpon favorites
  • Added to my Technorati favorites
  • Followed on Twitter
  • Bookmarked in

Thanks again everyone.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pez Run - Round Two

A while back I wrote a post called "Go Get Me Some Pez" about a Pez candy run my son managed to send me on using as few words as possible. I made another Pez run last night.

My son dragged me by the hand, wanting me to follow him up the stairs. He went to his room and started digging through his toys. He recruited me for the effort, though I didn't know what I was looking for. He kept trying to tell me, but I couldn't understand what he wanted me to find. Remembering the Pez run from the above post, I asked him if he was looking for his Pez dispenser. He said no, so we kept looking.

I kept digging and eventually found his General Grievous dispenser. I asked him again if he was looking for Pez, and he nodded excitedly. I knew we didn't have any Pez refills in the house, so I figured I was in for another candy run.

We had just seen some Batman and Joker Pez dispensers at a grocery store, which I thought was Ralphs. I was wrong. Ralphs only had characters from that Golden Compass movie. I kept trying to find the refills, pacing back and forth through the checkout aisles, and finally ended up back at the Golden Compass stand. I figured out that a couple of the boxes looked different, and sure enough I found 3 refill packs. I bought all three, knowing that the next Pez run is just around the corner.

I am a pretty big fan of Pez, but he takes it to a whole new level. This is one of the things only Daddy shares with him. Mommy just doesn't get the whole Pez thing. I am going to take him to Universal City Walk sometime soon so he can see a whole store full of Pez. I think he will love it.

Daddy Time

Tonight my wife had to go to a chiropractic appointment, so I picked my son up from the chiropractor's office. I was going to take him home after a quick errand, but he changed my mind. We drove past a park and he said, "Slide, Slide." This is his word for park. He LOVES slides. He had been pretty good on my errand, so I took him to the park closer to home.

I didn't know how long my wife would be, so we stayed for almost an hour. My son always goes to the park with my wife, but I rarely get a chance to take him alone. I figured it would be really fun for him to spend some time doing what he loves. I was right.

As soon as we got there he started up the stairs, then turned and grabbed my hand. He wanted me to go with him. This was his evening, so I followed him up the stairs. After going a few times while Daddy was chasing him, he wanted to go down the slide with Daddy. We went down the slide a few times, and then he was back to his solo routine.

I had to bribe him with Pez candy to get him away from the park without a fit when we were done. Once he is at the park it is really hard to get him to leave. :) I had a lot of fun tonight. I think he did too.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Try

One of my son's newest phrases is, "I Try!" This is repeated over and over again until we either let him try, or we deny his request and he starts a tantrum. Sometimes we have no choice but to endure the tantrum because he wants to try everything, including driving.

He has figured out that DVDs are held in place by the nub in the center of the case. He knows that he can press the nub to loosen it up enough to get the disc out. Sometimes he has better luck than others.

I was taking a nap on the couch this afternoon and I woke up with my hand being lifted in the air. I tried to wake up enough to see what was going on. My son had a CD case open and was pressing my thumb into the center nub, admitting that he couldn't get the disc out. I thought that was pretty funny. This case different than my son was expecting, so I had to take it out the old fashioned way. I was glad for a chance to actually do something for him without the "I Try" syndrome. :)

Tonight, as we were letting him listen to the baby with the heart monitor, he busted out the "I Try" again. He wanted to push the button that triggers the amplification. We let him listen to our hearts as well as the baby tonight. He got a kick out of listening to his own heart again.

Sometimes the "I Try" phrase is really cute. Other times it is annoying. I think either way it ultimately works out on the side of cute. After all, these are among his first words. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Son Has Spidey-Sense

Forgive the Comic Book reference in the title, but I am interested in geeky things, as many of you already know. My son seems to have a sixth sense sometimes when it comes to locating Starbucks stores. My wife worked for Starbucks while we lived in the Inland Empire, so my son was pretty familiar with the stores from a young age. He was equally familiar with a certain vanilla milk that they sell.

This kid has radar for the milk. He can walk into a Starbucks he has never seen before and go straight to his milk. I'll admit that this is not a huge feat, since it is always in the refrigerated section near the cash registers. It is still impressive that someone so young has that kind of memory. He has been doing this for over a year now.

Today my wife and I were running errands all over town. The last stop on our list was the Ralphs grocery store. It was a little crowded, so we parked a little further from the enterance than usual. As I was parking, my son starts requesting milk. "Milk. Milk. Milk." Mommy asks him, "Do you want milk?" He nods his head vigorously. He doesn't say the word "yes" yet. (he is quite the master of "NO!" however). As he nods his head he points the opposite direction of the grocery store. I didn't see him point, so I figure he knows we are at Ralphs and he wants milk. I was wrong.

When we got him out of the car he became more persistent. This time I saw the direction he was pointing. I had completely forgotten there is a Starbucks in the same parking lot as Ralphs. The trees in the parking lot completely obscure most indication that the Starbucks is there. Somehow my son either saw the sign or knew what parking lot we were in. Either one is possible. Whichever it was, it earned him a vanilla milk. He was pretty pleased.

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George Carlin - Part Two

George Carlin's Airplane Boarding Process

This is one of my favorite bits. Every time I get on a plane I think of the things he makes fun of. This one is a little bolder than the Fart Jokes video in my last post, "George Carlin - Part One".

Parental Warning

Watch Part One:

Watch Part Two:

Note To Parents: I would watch this before letting your kids watch it. The cussing is relatively light, considering his norm. I would put this somewhere between a PG-13 and R, to borrow from the movie industry. Part two is a little heavier than part one.

George Carlin - Part One

As I am sure most of you know by now, George Carlin died last Sunday night. He was my favorite comedian. I can't play most of his bits for many of my family and friends, due to his language, but I personally looked past it and found some deep insight. Carlin didn't curse just to curse. Sometimes it was to make a point. He was very careful about all of his words, whether or not they were curse words. This put him above the rest of the comedians. He was obviously very intelligent. I hope that he was able to make his peace with God before he died. He has long been known to fight against his Catholic upbringing, and I think sometimes he went too far.

In tribute to him I am going to post a couple of his bits over the next few days. I am watching each one before I post, so I will add warnings to anything with choice language.

This video is especially funny following my last post, "Farting for Fun". Watch George Carlin's Fart Jokes below:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Farting For Fun

There were so many titles that this could have gone under, so I tried to choose a relatively tasteful one. My son has decided that farts are funny. He decided this a while back, but yesterday he decided again with gusto.

We were on the way to Disneyland after work yesterday, and I hear him call from the back seat, "Mamma, Mamma." There was a great sense of urgency in his voice. The second she turned around he let one go. He had been saving it just to make sure Mommy noticed. This was followed by a fit of laughter, and then he did it again.

This continued for several minutes. He kept clenching, trying to do it again. He succeeded several times, laughing all the while. I think I laughed harder than my wife on this one, thus we all fit our gender roles on the issue. For better or worse, farts sound funny to boys. I think this is definitely an indicator of what is to come. Aren't little boys great? I can't wait to see how long it takes boy #1 to teach boy #2 how to achieve this bit of humor.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Real Car For Real Drivers


I came across a pretty funny commercial from Chevrolet Europe. I think this is definitely a must-see for any automotive or Transformers fans. I got a good laugh and wanted to pass it on.

How annoying would it be if your car could transform and dance like the one featured here? There would definitely be some fun moments, but I can feel for the poor guy. Watch the commercial below:

The message in the commercial is clearly a reference to fancy cars with all sorts of bells and whistles to entice people to buy them. The bottom line is that you want a real car. A car that will get you where you are going. Sure you want it to look nice, but dependability and reliability are more important to you. Why not go with a car that has this dependability and reliability as well as some class? Check out the new Chevy Aveo. Only real drivers need apply.

Sponsored by Cheverolet

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rude Neighbors

My neighbor's incessant need to make us listen to Janet Jackson all night is getting out of hand. I am sure I might enjoy the music better if I was right in front of the speakers rather than being pummeled by the sound waves reverberating through our walls. Tonight they had the audacity to compare the occasional crying of my two year old with the 24-hour Bass-fest at their house.

What is it that makes a person force another person to listen to their music? What makes someone think it not only okay to blast music at all hours of the night, but then to attack the neighbor who politely asks them to turn it down?

I get up between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning to get ready for work. I usually go to bed between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am. Usually it is so I can get all my entrecard clicks in and hopefully a post or two. There have been nights when the thumping continued well after 2:00 am - on a Wednesday. This is not a Friday or Saturday, or even a Sunday night party. This is just a middle of the week, "Let's see how rude I can be tonight" type of game. Even people who don't sleep much do in fact need sleep. My two year old certainly needs sleep, as does my pregnant wife.

In college we had to sit through "Basic Human Respect (BHR)" lectures from our Resident Advisors at least once a semester. This was where they explained to us college-folk that we need to be mindful of our neighbors. Some of my roomates and suite-mates needed this lesson more often than others. Some learned something from these talks, and maybe they still practice those lessons. Others either didn't get it or outright ignored it. How much worse is it when someone has never had it brought to their attention that other people don't like their music?

I feel that this is an unfortunate side effect of the society we have allowed to become the norm. This "I am the only person who matters" type of attitude is prevalent in all stages of our society. Politicians have it the worst, and low to lower middle class people are next in line. I consider myself to be in an upper- lower class level, yet I am mindful of how late it is when I want to crank my surround sound. What makes one person courteous and the other rude?

Once could say that it is upbringing. Kids whose parents either disrespected all their neighbors or failed to teach respect altogether are highly inclined to exhibit poor behavior in a group setting. What's worse, is when the only person making the noise has that gall to be upset when all the other quiet neighbors politely ask them to be respectful. I am curious about how you all feel about the matter. I placed a poll in the column on the right. Please take a second to click your choice. At what time is it okay to call the police for a neighbor's bass (or any other loud sounds)? 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm, 1:00 am? My wife was pretty upset tonight, so I would like to show her that others feel the same way she does. I appreciate your votes on the subject.

When something so simple as paying attention to your bass levels at 2:00 am is this difficult to grasp, I fear for our future. With everybody out for themselves, how do we live in harmony? I wonder if we can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Brother - The Competition Begins

My son typically is very good with children. He loves being around other kids. As you can see in my post "Big Brother In Training", he was once pretty excited about his new little brother. Lately something has changed in him. It seems he put two and two together, and now thinks that his new little brother is competition for mommy's affection.

"Mommy can't pick you up right now, she is carrying your little brother" may have been the sentence that started the trouble. Daddy made this mistake at Disneyland last week. There was a time that when we asked, "Where is Mommy's baby?", he would smile and point to my wife's stomach. Now he ignores the question altogether. He snubbed some kids at Disneyland, something he usually does not do.

We came up with a way to get him excited about the baby, and it seems to be working so far. We have an electronic heart monitor that we used when my son was in the womb. It is a simple battery-powered amplifier with headphones that enables us to listen to the baby's heart. We know he loves electronics, so my wife came up with the idea that he would want to listen to the baby's heart beat.

I think she did it once without me, but last night we did it again. We had him listen to the baby's heart, then Mommy's and Daddy's and his own. He got quite a kick out of it. We added it to his bedtime routine, though only the baby's heart was featured tonight.

Hopefully we can continue exciting him about the baby. I think everything will be fine.He is a very loving boy. Our job is to make sure he doesn't feel neglected when the new baby arrives. I think Daddy is about to rise to the top of his favorite people list. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Community Pool

If someone asks you if you want to go to a community pool, what comes to mind? I think of some dirty pool that is full of people with un-potty-trained kids swimming and adding things to the water that I don't want to swim in. My only community pool experience was one in Bakersfield a few years ago. When my wife asked me to take her and my son to the Ventura community pool, I was reluctant. My reluctance turned out to be unwarranted. The Ventura Community Park is nothing like I expected.

"The Ventura Community Park opened its doors in October of 2005 to great fanfare. The park features various three large sports fields, a 1.4-mile paved trail and a state of the art aquatics facility with two 25-foot water slides, a recreation pool, competition pool and a water playground for children. This initial phase of construction only built out 25 of the parks 100 acres."
See Official Website

As you can see from the pics, this place is a mini water park. There are water slides and a variety of ways to get water dumped on your head. I was very pleasantly surprised. You can do so many things, including using their two full size water slides, for only $5 per person. My son was free because he is young enough. For $10 we had a blast.

Once my son got used to the idea of water being splashed in his face he got pretty excited. He wanted to venture out further and further from us, though we made sure he didn't get away from us. He used the kid-sized water slide and loved it. My son loves water at least as much as I do, so this place was pretty exciting for him.

My wife and I decided this was a pretty cool place to go, so we are looking at the discount pricing rates for multiple visits. We can save $40 initially and get 12 trips each. It is not a bad price considering what it would cost to go to a full sized water park.

If you live in the Ventura area I recommend giving the Community Park a chance. I think you will be glad you did. I know I am.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hypermiling - Part Three

I have been trying to achieve better fuel economy for about a month now. It has been going pretty well so far. You can read about my methods on my previous posts Hypermiling - Part One and Hypermiling - Part Two.

I have been practicing most of the methods from the above mentioned posts and am happy to report a new milestone. On my way home Friday night I hit 25.3 miles per gallon. This is a full 2 mpg from the time I began paying attention to my driving. It is roughly 3 mpg higher than it was when I noticed it was time to rethink my fuel efficiency. Just going by the 2 mpg from my official trial period, I am saving quite a bit of money.

2 mpg times 15 gallons that I typically put in my tank, and I get roughly 30 extra miles per tank. Multiply by four and I am up to 120 extra miles per month. 120 miles is a huge improvement.

I have learned of a few more things to try out, so I will report back once I have tested them. They involve the timing of gas fill-ups.

  • Always fill up in the morning. This ensures an accurate reading of gallons pumped. Warmth causes gas to expand, and you may be losing some money by filling up in the afternoon.
  • If a fuel tanker is filling the underground tanks, move on. The junk in the bottom of the tanks gets stirred up and can enter your gas tank.
  • Don't use the maximum notch on the fuel pump. The faster the gas goes into the tank, the greater the chance of fuel vapors cheating you of some of your fuel. Use the medium or low setting.
  • Fill up at a half tank. This is supposed to help reduce vapors as well. I need to check into this fact, but it seems the fuel tank has a flexible ceiling that lowers to reduce vapor creation. At half a tank you are better off than on empty in this regard. I will follow up on this and let you know if it is a standard gas tank feature.

I found these tips on an EntreCard member's site the other day, and will post a link as soon as I find it again. Until then, try these tips out. The less we have to fill up our tanks, the better off we will be as prices continue to skyrocket.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Blog

As this blog continues to grow in size and popularity, I decided it would be good to break off a piece of it to see how it stands alone. I find that people are more interested in reading about a more focused topic, rather than a shotgun approach as this blog has been using.

All my reviews from this blog have been copied to a new blog called Sufer J's Reviews. All future posts about movies, merchants, restaurants, gadgets, and other products and services will be featured on the new blog.

This blog will be going back to the original idea of musings and pondering, as well as maintain the family doings and stories as has become common here. Feel free to subscribe to both blogs. I welcome feedback and suggestions.

Beach Day

This morning my wife packed up some snacks, gathered the beach chairs and umbrella, and dragged us all to the beach. I say dragged somewhat facetiously, as I love going to the beach. It has been a long time since I have spent a family day at the beach and not a surfing trip or a quick walk to the park that is on the beach near my house.

My son LOVES the water. With the weather heating up, the water wasn't as painfully numbing as it was the last few times we went. It didn't take long to get used to the water. There were a lot of surfers there today, so next time I think will bring my board. I assumed it was too close to the shore, but the waves today proved me wrong.

My wife surprised me today and actually got in the water. The woman who has sworn never to get in the ocean got in today. She didn't go far, but it was progress. A few big waves hit her and she was back out. Eventually I will get her to swim instead of wade. Maybe there is boogie boarding in her future.

I had a lot of fun playing in the water. I love everything about the beach except for the flies. I got to swim a bit, made sure the waves didn't knock my son down, and just sat and watched the waves too. I showed my wife and son how to catch a sand crab, but I was the only one to get one. My wife didn't want to touch a crab, and my son is too young to follow the direction. For those of you who haven't tried, it is as simple as scooping sand in your hand right after a wave heads back to sea.

If this first weekend of summer is any indication, we will be spending lots of time at the beach. I am pretty stoked to live so close to the water.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Orange County Fun

My wife's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, so I took Monday and Tuesday off to celebrate. The last couple years we have gone to see a show in Hollywood. First Les Miserables, and then Wicked. This year Wicked is still on stage, and I hadn't intended to set a precedent by going two years in a row to the Pantages.

This year I had to do something different. I decided to take her to Medieval Times. She is pretty hard to surprise, so I couldn't order the tickets until Saturday night. She had told me months ago that she wanted to go, so I figured enough time had passed to pull off the surprise.

When we lived right down the street from my parents it was a lot easier to pull of a surprise of this nature. Living a couple hours away now, I have to coordinate babysitting needs with my parents. When they arrived for the golf tournament Saturday they were prepared to take him home. I hadn't anticipated my parents babysitting my son the weekend prior, so it was a little hard to give him up again so soon. I knew it would be only for a day though, so that helped.

We went to Medieval Times, and the hotel I picked happened to be right across the street. That was a fortunate turn of events. We were able to walk and didn't have to worry about the parking situation. We stayed at a Marriott Courtyard, and that was an experience in and of itself. The show was pretty good, and the food was great. The only downside was when a horse kicked up a mixture of sand and manure during the joust, and it landed in our drinks. I would suggest covering your cups during the joust if you are sitting in the front row.

Since we were in Orange County already, I figured Disneyland would be a great place to pick up my son. Disneyland is roughly the same distance from my house as it is from my parents' house. It is slightly further than halfway between our houses, but it still works as a meeting spot. My son loves Disneyland, as do I. He had just been there the week before when he stayed with my parents, so it was fresh on his mind.

The only problem with the day was the unexpected heat. I wore jeans and my vans. Big mistake. Next trip to Disneyland I will be in shorts and flip-flops. I don't care if it is cold. I hate being hot. I have gotten so used to living and working near the beach that the heat gets to me faster than it used to. One would think I hadn't grown up near Palm Springs.

All in all we had a pretty good time. We got some alone time, got to see a good show, and were able to use our season passes at Disneyland before the July blackout.

Father's Day

This Father's Day was a very pleasant one. The day before I had played a round of golf with my dad, grandpa, and uncle. My parents spent that night with us as well as the next day. After church we went back to my place for a barbecue.

My wife had prepared a rub for the tri-tip and it was sitting in it from Saturday morning on. We were going to make tacos of the steak, so the rub consisted of Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, and Salt. This was the longest we left a rub on, and it was well worth it. The steak came out really well. We fried up some flower tortillas in my deep fryer. There is nothing like fried flower tortilla chips. Add some guacamole and fresh salsa, and we were good to go. That lunch went particularly well. I really enjoyed spending time with both my parents.

This year I got the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game for my PSP, and the Mummy 3-pack on DVD. Both of these were on my wish list on, so I was pretty stoked.

Father's Day provided a great opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a father. You can see my thoughts on the matter in the post "Fatherhood". Everyday my son reminds me of how happy I am to be a father.

Father's Day Golf

Last Saturday I was able to play a round of golf with my dad, my grandpa, and my uncle. This was a golf tournament, so we didn't compete against each other, but worked as a team. We did fairly well, but I would have enjoyed the game regardless.

We had to play the best ball on each stroke, and we all seemed to contribute about the same level of skill - some of us playing better than normal, and others worse. I was one of the ones playing better. I actually managed to hit the ball straight more often than not, and didn't miss the ball too often. The rule that was harder to follow was that we all had to contribute the driving ball three times. This meant using a ball that was not the best lie for the sake of fulfilling the rule of three.

All in all we had a pretty good day. We ended up with 9 over par, which is my best score to date. I was pleased with the result. I had a great time with my family, all of us celebrating Father's Day a little early. Only two of us didn't have our sons with us, but hopefully we get this opportunity again when the boys are old enough.

Husband and Father

In today's society is it possible to assume a father is a husband? A reader asked the question as to whether or not a husband and a father are the same thing. I think there was a time that it was indeed the case. Not that every husband was a father, but most fathers were husbands. I wonder what the ratio is today.

I think there are too few fathers today who are also husbands. One has but to look at the crime rates in the inner cities to see the effect of this circumstance. Young men need their fathers to be in their home, in a committed relationship with their mothers, or at least their spouse. The homes that produce many of today's criminals are ones that typically did not have a father in them. This is not to say all fathers are good fathers, or that all criminals come from bad homes.

Crime is not the only outcome of a fatherless home. Sometimes the effects are not as easy to see. Look at the confidence level of a young man without a father and you will see what I am talking about. It may be masked, but there is an insecurity built in to many boys who grew up this way.

Unfortunately there are homes with single fathers, though they are not as widely talked about. Other times a man has paid the ultimate price in service to his country. There are many circumstances in which it is impossible to avoid the absence of a father. It is still possible to raise a strong, confident son in these cases, but it is a much more difficult task.

If you are a husband and a father, I commend you. If you are a father and have not yet married the mother of your children, I would recommend you remedy the situation. We need to return to the place where father's cared enough about their kids to stick around. We need to accept the fact that the traditional family structure is the strongest.

I am a husband and a father. My father was the same, as was his father. I hope that my son(s) will be the same. Our society could use more fathers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back From Vacation

These last few days have been pretty crazy. Saturday I participated in a fundraiser golf tournament with my dad, grandpa, and uncle. We treated it as a Father's Day activity for all of us. Sunday was Father's Day, and we grilled tri-tip for my dad. My parents took my son home with them so I could take my wife out for her birthday. Her birthday is today, by the way, so be sure to leave a comment on her blog. Look under "Blogs I Read" and click on Kate's Blog. Or, I suppose I could make it easier and send you there with a link. Monday I drove my wife to Buena Park so we could go to Medieval Times. The hotel I chose happened to be literally across the street, so that worked out well. Tuesday it was time to pick up my son, so what better place than Disneyland for the pick up? We spent most of a VERY hot Tuesday with my mom at Disneyland. Today it is back to work, and tons of blogging to do...probably tomorrow as today is my wife's birthday. For my daily readers, thanks for sticking around through my vacation. I will let you know next time I plan to be out. Have a great day everyone.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My LOTR Pipe

If you look at my profile pic you will see me smoking a very long pipe. I am particularly fond of this one. It is my Lord of the Rings (LOTR) pipe. I have a regular churchwarden pipe, but this one ranks right up there with some of my favorites.

The pipe is made entirely of wood. As I shopped for an LOTR pipe, I found lots of clay pipes. I didn't want to break in a clay pipe, so when I found this wooden one I was stoked. I had a choice to make. Did I want my pipe to look like the one smoked by Gandalf, Merry or Pippin, or Aragorn? To me this was a no-brainer. I went for the Aragorn pipe.

This pipe is long and only separates at the bowl. The bowl is shaped like an acorn and is pretty big. I know that I need at least an hour if I am going to smoke a full bowl. The pipe came with a stand, so I don't have any problems with storage when it is not in use.

The only problem I have with the pipe is that there is no easy way to keep it in my mouth without my hands. The stem is round all the way up and there is no place to bite down on. I prefer to sit and relax while smoking, so this is not too much of a problem. If I were walking around a lot I would hope to have more hands-free options.

As much as I would have liked to have dressed in full LOTR fashion for the opening night showings of the movies, I chose to only bring my pipe. A lot of people in the midnight line with me thought it was pretty cool. I ended up having a lot of conversations with people just because I had it. Pipes are always a good social tool.

Overall the pipe smokes pretty well. The air flows well through the stem. It doesn't get as hot as some of my other pipes. I get a lot of enjoyment from this pipe. Who knows, maybe I will buy a Gandalf pipe just in time for the release of The Hobbit, whenever that may be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately, specifically family relationships. Now that my second child is due to be born this year I find my family in a state of expansion. I think about the day to day activities of my son, and look forward to similar experiences with my second son. I have wondered how many of the things my son does are also things I did at his age. Did I throw the same tantrums? Did I do the same cute things? Was I so full of unquestioning love? From what I gather from my parents there are indeed similarities.

As I look at my son through a father's eyes, I think back to my own relationship with my dad. I remember being so proud to be his son. I remember riding in the child seat attached to his bicycle. I remember being held on his shoulders from time to time. I remember him being capable of solving any problem that was thrown at him, whether mechanical, spiritual, automotive, or technical. I remember the love he had/has for my mother and my brother and sisters and myself. I wonder if my son will remember the same things about me.

I remember my dad's old guitar quite well. So well in fact that it now sits in my own home. I wonder how he had the time to play music at all with five children running around. My one son is more than a handful sometimes.

I was thinking about my transition from son to father the other day, especially with Father's Day around the corner. I wondered what it felt like for my dad when I grew up. One day he has a house full of children and the next we are all grown. How does he see me now? Does he still see the same little boy that I see everyday when I look at my own son? What must it be like to not have that same connection?

This is a question I know I will have the answer to all too soon. My little boy is growing up. He is only two right now, but these two years have gone by so quickly. I know my time with him is short. I hope to be able to teach him the things my dad taught me. I hope to teach him to be a man after his grandfather's heart - a man after his great-grandfather's heart. A man with a heart constantly reaching out to God for strength, guidance, and sustenance.

What a privilege it is to be a father - a daddy. What an amazing opportunity and responsibility. It is an incredible thing to teach a young boy the things he needs to know. I hope that I can be the example he needs me to be. I hope he will choose to learn from me the things I want him to know. It is a hard thing to be at the mercy of one's own child. I want so many good things for him, yet I know that he has to reach out and take these good things himself. He has just as much power to reject the good things I want for him. This is a terrifying prospect sometimes.

I know the day is coming when I have to trust my son(s) to the same (if not greater) extent that I expect my own dad to trust me. I know that we will not always see things eye to eye. I certainly have disagreements with my dad, and I am sure he had disagreements with his dad. I do hope that the relationship I have with my own dad will prove to be a framework for the relationship with my children.

I get to spend part of this Father's Day weekend with my dad, grandpa, and uncle. We are playing in a golf tournament on Saturday. This should be fun. We get to play at the Country Club in Malibu. I wish my dad's father was still around to join us. I think of him often as I muse about fatherhood.

I am proud of the legacy my grandfather passed on to me, both directly and indirectly. I hope my sons continue to improve upon the legacy and pass it on to their sons (and daughters if they have them). I am grateful to be a son to a wonderful father. I am grateful to be a father to my son and my as-yet unborn son. I have been truly blessed.

Fast Food Review - Strawberry Frosty Shake

My wife saw an ad in the window at Wendy's as we were heading to the Del Taco next door. It was for a new line of Frosty Shakes. This did not interest me, as Del Taco has excellent shakes. I gave in and we went to the Wendy's drive through on the way home.

My wife found her shake to be "just okay". Hers would turn out to be much better than mine. My first taste barely made it to the swallow. There was an acrid taste that I had not experienced in a long time. After a few attempts to stomach it I finally remembered the last time I had tasted something so awful. I was working out quite a bit a couple of years ago, and bought a few containers of Whey Protein powder. I enjoyed the chocolate shakes, but the strawberry one was so bad I ended up discarding it. Tonight's shake tasted exactly like the Whey Protein shake.

I tried to stir the shake to see if it just was poorly mixed. It helped a little, but it was still a chore to drink it. I felt that the price alone justified trying to finish the drink, as for the two shakes it was almost $8.00.

If you go to Wendy's, stick with the chocolate Frosty. There is no other frozen drink worth the money there. As good as the Frosty is, I expected much more of the shakes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weezer - The Red Album

The new album from Weezer is out, and I couldn't wait to get a copy. My wife and I downloaded the album on mp3 shortly after it was released. I must say that initially I was not too impressed. We burned it to a CD and played it for the first time on a road trip. I am pretty fond of playing Weezer albums at the beginning of a road trip, so this release was timed particularly well.

As I said before, my initial experience was less than I had hoped for. I think part of the reason was a difference in how I listened the first time. Typically I play an album a couple of times through, usually in my car. This time the album was on as background noise. It was easy to compare it to the Green Album, as there were no songs that immediately jumped out at me. I will note at this point that the Blue and Green albums are my favorites so far. I think ultimately this way of listening skewed my initial experience. I listened to it again today again with less distraction. This time I heard what I was looking for.

When one listens to Weezer, one can expect a certain style. There are usually familiar guitar riffs, and the songs vary from soft and harmonious to rockin'. This variety is part of what makes them such a great band. I listened to the album three more times this afternoon on my way home. I think the Red Album is definitely one worthy of the name Weezer. It may not have all the catchy tunes that the Blue and Green albums have, but it is still loaded with the things that make Weezer great.

If you are only a casual Weezer fan I do not recommend this album to you. If you are more attracted to songs like "Beverly Hills", "Buddy Holly", or "Hash Pipe" you will only find one song here called "Pork and Beans". If you are in fact a fan of Weezer though I think you will love this album. It is full of harmony, random compilations and classic Weezer rock. I plan to continue to listen to this album for a long time to come.

I added some Weezer clips in my sidebar, courtesy of You may also click any of the above links to hear more of this album. Amazon sells DRM-free music. You can play it on your iPods or other mp3 players, and you can burn the album to a CD.

Note: did not sponsor this post, but this author is a member of the affiliate program.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Restaurant Review - T.G.I. Friday's

T.G.I. Friday's
2181 N. Rose Ave.
Oxnard, CA 93030

Tonight my wife and I went to T.G.I. Friday's with one of my best friends. It has been a long time since I went last, and I had yet to try the one in Oxnard. I used to be a weekly customer, so I had higher than average expectations tonight. Fortunately I was not disappointed.

The restaurant was not as crowded as I expected, considering the Lakers played game 3 tonight versus the Celtics. The bar had the usual game crowds, but we were seated quickly.

The waiter came out promptly and took our drink and appetizer orders. He returned quickly with the drinks. I used to regularly order the Jack Daniels Tower, which was a three-plate tower with fried shrimp, bbq ribs, and glazed fried chicken strips. They all had their own unique Jack Daniels sauces. This tower sadly doesn't exist now, but they still have the same type of appetizer. It is now just a single platter and only one sauce is included. It still tastes great though, as I confirmed tonight.

Another reason I love Friday's is the French Onion soup. Every other restaurant gets compared to Friday's when I order the French Onion soup. Tonight the cheese portion was not as generous as normal, but it was close enough for me.

My wife and buddy got pasta dishes, and I went with the Jack Daniels burger. All of the orders were enjoyed. I am particularly fond of the Jack Daniels sauces if you haven't guessed by now. They are a great blend of sweet and tangy. I could eat this stuff everyday if gas prices didn't prevent me. :)

The server could have been a little better, but he was still good. The restaurant was clean and the food was good. 9 out of 10 for service and food. I definitely recommend this restaurant.

Strolling With Style

My wife and I are expecting our second baby this November. We are in the market for a new stroller. As I was searching online, I came across some fancy strollers from Mutsy. They just came out with two new models. You can find out more information from the link above or by clicking Mutsy here. I thought those of you who are also in the market might be interested in these. Keep reading to find the 10% discount code below.


The stroller pictured here is the Mutsy Slider. This one is meets a variety of needs all at once. It is compact, light, and built for performance - all in a stylish package. The upper section is, so the frame is able to fold to a very small size. You can reverse the handle so you can look at your baby or let your baby look out at the world. I like this kind of flexibility.

The Slider features durable, light-weight wheels, a quick release 3-position seat, and a solid handle. It also has a protective hood on the bassinet. There is an optional car seat adaptor available as well. Light-weight and easy to handle, this is a great option for a mom on the go.

The second stroller I want to talk about is the 4Rider "Next" Cargo stroller. This is an upgrade from the standard 4Rider model. Additional features include a leather handle and their "Cargo" range of fabric. The bassinet is great for infants, and comes with some great features. The features include: a strong handle, a mattress pad (with cover), and some zip storage compartments. This stroller gives you the reversible handle like the Slider model above. You get to choose the direction your baby faces. The 4Rider Next stroller reclines, has a leg rest, has a removable front bar, and is complete with a protective hood. They include an easy-to-access basket as well.This stroller has an optional car seat adapter as well.

These strollers aren't the cheapest on the block, but they are well built and have a great look and feel. The Mutsy collection was developed to meet all of a mom's needs, and its unique modular construction offers parents a lot of flexibility for baby transport. You and your baby will be happy you decided to buy a stroller from Mutsy. No matter which stroller you choose, you will be strolling in style.

To make these strollers even more appealing, is offering a 10% discount on ANY Mutsy order. Use the discount code: "mutsy10off" when you order.

As always, I only post products and services that I myself use or am interested in using. I am definitely interested in these strollers.

Sponsored by Mutsy