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

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jiffy Lube? Not Quite

I let my car go further than I would have liked without an oil change, so I took it in today. Things kept coming up to prevent my task, so I had no choice but to just get it done today. Unfortunately the place advertising $14.95 oil changes was not open today. I decided to give Jiffy Lube a chance.

When I got there I was pleased to find a short line. This short line turned out to be misleading. The people were very friendly when I pulled up, and pointed out where I should park my car. If you read my post about Wal-Mart you would know that this was a great start to my day. I was told to sit down and a guy would fill out the paperwork. I had my wife with me in her car, as oil changes typically take forever. The plan was to go to lunch and pick up my car when we were done. This was not to be.

A few minutes go by and nobody has contacted me regarding paper work. I walk outside from time to time to make sure I have been noticed, and after 15 minutes or so I was approached. I was on the phone with my wife who was still waiting in her car when the guy started calling out some name. It wasn't mine so I kept talking. Finally he got my attention and repeated this name and confirmed I had the Taurus. I told him the Taurus was mine but he had the wrong name. I then remembered the JiffyLube sticker on my windshield. The last owner was in the system.

I went through the process with the guy, making sure all my data was recorded. He tried to sell me the usual extras, but I had found out a moment before that the price would be more than double what I usually pay at Wal-Mart. I told him I would wait to buy the extras until the "sticker shock" wore off in the future. As he got to the bottom of the form, a older lady pulled up in her truck. He told me to "Hold on sec" and tried to convince the lady to sell him her truck. Apparently he either knew her or she was a regular customer, as they continued to talk as old friends. I finally got his attention and asked how much longer the process would take, as I wanted to go to lunch with my wife. He said "15 minutes". I told my wife it would be 15 minutes. It wasn't.

A quick price comparison follows:

  Wal-Mart Jiffy Lube
Oil Change $27 $39
Tire Rotation $1.50/tire $20

While I was waiting a lady was called to the front because her car was finished. He gave her the final price and she was confused. She asked him if they had done all the extra stuff. Apparently the price was lower than she expected. She had asked for a fuel filter and a tire rotation. This wasn't on the paper work he told her so she asked him to do the work. To their credit he went into the garage and hounded the guys to get her stuff finished quickly. At least they didn't try to argue with her.

Finally my turn came. He gave me the final price which turned out to be slightly lower than the quote. It was only a dollar or two, but I was still happy about it. When all was said and done it took about an hour. Considering the fact that my car was first in line in it's particular stall, I don't think it should have taken an hour. I will be making the trek to Simi Valley to let Wal-Mart do my next oil change.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Restaurant Review - California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen
Pacific View Mall
3301 E. Main Street
Ventura, CA 93003

My wife has been trying to drag me to the California Pizza Kitchen for a long time, and I have resisted for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is the perception that it is geared toward the female gender. One doesn't often hear about a group of guys going to the California Pizza Kitchen. Tonight I let her drag me in, and we both regretted it.

To begin, we were promptly seated by the hostess, which was good. We waited more than 15 minutes for our waitress to acknowledge our presence, which was bad. It kept going from there. We finally got our drinks and appetizers ordered, and 10 minutes later the waitress came back with the drinks. The iced tea tasted like it had been brewed too long, and we had to send it back. The Pepsi was good though. Next was the mystery of the bread.

Apparently bread is supposed to be served to the tables. We witnessed many other customers getting bread almost immediately. We finally asked about it. At this point 30 minutes had passed since we arrived. Another 10 minutes pass, and the bread arrives. 45 minutes now, and no appetizers. We notice other couples who sat after us had not only drinks and bread within 5 minutes, they got their food as well. Still no appetizers. We decided to let the manager know that our night was not progressing well. He apologized and offered us a free dessert to make up for it. We accepted this and continued to wait for our food.

Finally our appetizers arrive. They were pretty good. We ordered a flour tortilla spring roll that reminded me of the Southwest Egg Rolls at Chili's. Even my wife liked these, though they normally don't appeal to her. If it hadn't taken the better part of an hour to get them we would have been much happier. The food arrived another 20 minutes later. I had a Tostada Pizza, and my wife had a salad with candied walnuts, blue cheese, and chicken. I can't remember the name of it. Both were just okay. The best part about mine was the crust. It tasted like a Greek flat bread. I wanted to order some Hummus to go with it. Since we knew we were getting dessert free, we ordered an apple crisp.

One would think that they would have tried to redeem themselves by now, but no. The crust was burnt and the apples were mushy and just unappealing. My wife thought they tasted a bit fermented. We told the waitress about the dessert, though hesitating to do so. She offered to replace it but we were ready to get out of there. This was more than two hours since we had been seated. The manager came back and we told him what was wrong. He pulled the dessert off the order completely, and gave us the appetizers for free. We thanked him and finally were able to pay and be on our way.

3 out of 10 for service, and 3 out of 10 for food. The 3 for service includes the helpful manager. I do not recommend this place to anyone.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hypermiling - Part Two

Some of my readers will recall my post about "Hypermiling" that I wrote a couple weeks ago. At the time of posting I had gained .5 mpg on average. I hit another milestone today. I have gained a full mpg.

The road to better gas mileage is full of ups and downs. In my case literally, as I drive a hilly route. It took longer than I had hoped to get to the 1 mpg goal, but I know why it did. I started the hypermiling on a Tuesday and haven't driven a full week to work since. Between vacations and holidays, I have at most driven four days to work until this week. Today being the fifth day I drove, I finally hit my milestone.

I wanted to see how I could get even more mileage out of my gas tank, so I hit the search engines. I found an article on MSN called Get 50 mpg In Your Own Car. I thought this would be great, as many hypermilers drive hybrid vehicles and I can't hope to achieve their numbers.

A lot of the tips were covered in my first post, but I found a couple new tips. Parking in the sun may help keep your engine block cooler, especially in winter months. I don't know how much this one will help, but I will give it a go.

Next is an idea I think should help. When you have a number of errands to run in town, drive to the furthest one first. I typically do this for time efficiency, but it is useful in fuel efficiency too. Your engine has more time to warm up on the longer trip, and you hopefully can maintain some of the engine heat for your next errand. Otherwise your engine stays cold the whole time and you get no added benefit. I have noticed a possibly unrelated benefit that my city driving the last couple of days has not diminished the gains from my distance driving as much as they previously did.

Some hypermilers are a little crazy, and they advocate things that are illegal or at least dangerous. I am only interested in posting safe techniques. Since I was a kid I had heard of people "drafting" when driving near an eighteen-wheeler. This has always been a dangerous thing. A safer technique is called "passive drafting" according to the MSN article. This involves staying at least 10 car lengths behind an eighteen-wheeler. This is by far a safer distance behind a trailer and chances are you will be going extra slow while you are at it. You gain two ways this way - both for going slower and using this passive draft.

If I hear any new ideas I will be sure to let you know. Until then, happy hypermiling.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bedtime Mayhem

My son will do anything to stay up past his bed time. He is not averse to being incredibly defiant, nor is he unaware of how cute he can be. Tonight he tried a combination of tactics.

Mommy put him to bed and read him a book. He asked for Daddy to come upstairs. Before I could come up to sing to him, he got out of bed in an attempt to trick Mommy into letting him stay up. He thought if he was cute enough she wouldn't send him back to bed. He was wrong. He tried to run away from her, laughing all the way. He stopped laughing when she caught up to him and carried him back to his room. The laugh quickly changed to a tantrum.

Enter Daddy for the singing. Mommy is gone, so baby thinks he has a clean slate to work with. He snuggles into Daddy and wants a story. The book he chose was a simple book on colors and objects, so it wasn't so much reading as it was naming things for him and asking him to point out the various items. He recognized just about all of them, which was pretty good I thought. I told him to lay on his pillow if he wanted Daddy to sing to him. He laid down and I thought he was finally ready to sleep. I was wrong.

While I was singing to him he kept trying to grab books, sit up, play, and anything else he could do to stay awake. I told him to lay down again if he wanted more songs, so he did. We are trying to sleep train him, since I tend to fall asleep lying down with him. We read him stories and sing to him, and attempt to walk out without too big a tantrum. I told him I was on my last song, and he cleverly snaked his body around my arm, making it impossible for me to get up without removing him. He got a laugh out of Daddy for that one. He also got a few more songs.

I left him in bed with firm instructions not to get up and came downstairs. My wife took over the enforcement duty. Sure enough, the moment I sat down to blog he was coming to see us. He again tried the cute tactic, but it still didn't work. He keeps getting up, so hopefully he will go to sleep soon. We really need him to be fully sleep-trained before his brother is born. For those inclined to pray, we could use a prayer or two on his behalf. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ultrasound Results

Coinciding with my post Baby Number 2 - 19th Week, I put up a poll to see what everybody thought the new baby's gender would be. 5 votes later we had 3 for girl and 2 for boy. I didn't expect a huge turnout for the poll, given the short notice, but at least there was a small sample represented. We went to the doctor today for the ultrasound, and now we know.

Before I reveal the result, I want to talk about the experience. For our first baby, my company's health plan was insufficient to support my wife's maternity visits. We had a number of bad experiences throughout the pregnancy. Medi-Cal is a stigma, no matter how much doctors and hospitals deny it. This time my new company has a much better plan, and the difference in service is like night and day. I think the way we are being treated now should have been the way the other doctors and nurses treated us then. I think that hospitals have a lot of explaining to do regarding the inequities of service depending on who insures their patients.

Today we encountered a slightly different experience than we had expected. Apparently it was a gender only ultrasound. The tech was not supposed to take measurements or do any of the other tasks they normally accomplish while they are showing you the gender. We brought a DVD to record the whole thing, but he told us this was a quick in and out thing and he wouldn't be taping it.

My mom will have 11 grandkids by the time my baby is born. She has only seen the ultrasound for my son, so we thought she would like to see this one too. She drove all the way out here from the Inland Empire just to watch. It was almost a wasted trip, as the baby was not cooperating.

The baby was there, relaxing, both legs bent at the knee and legs crossed at the ankle. There was no view of the gender identifier or lack thereof. It seemed like the technician was anxious to get going, as we were the last appointment for the day. He seemed surprised that the baby was being modest, and it seemed he would give up hope and send us home. We convinced him to try again, considering the distance my mom drove, and finally he found the answer we were looking for. In the mean time, we saw some brief images of the face and hands, but again the tech was in a hurry and didn't show us, let alone capture any images. He finally took a picture once we determined the gender, but it was an image that did not show us much more than the baby's hip. I was a little frustrated because I intended to include the image with this post. Hopefully next time the tech won't be in such a hurry. He is still far better than the tech at the Redlands Community Hospital in Redlands. Even in a hurry he was far more courteous to us, and let 2 adults and a toddler watch the ultrasound.

Now that we know what we are having, it makes the name search much easier. We will be going through our lists of the names we like and making a decision, just like we did for the first one. We still have plenty of time to pick a name, so we are not too concerned yet.

And by the way, we are having a boy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's In a Name?

My wife posted a clip from Friends where Ross and Rachel were trying to pick their baby's name. I wanted to post a clip of my own, but apparently YouTube and SNL don't play nice anymore. The closest I could get was a transcript. Enjoy:

Baby Names

Wife.....Julia Sweeney
Husband.....Nicolas Cage
Telegram Deliverer.....Rob Schneider

[ open on a married couple trying to think of a name for their unknown baby ]

Wife: I was thinking about Joseph.

Husband: [ turned off ] Joseph?

Wife: Yeah. Joseph.

Husband: Well.. it's a nice name, but the kids are gonna call him "Joe Blow". I mean, as long as you know that. Or "Sloppy Joe", you know.. "How are Mr. & Mrs. Schmo?"

Wife: Well, I guess that's true..

Husband: I mean, it's a nice name.

Wife: Well, that's alright. How about John? That's nice and simple.

Husband: What, are you serious?

Wife: Well, yeah.

Husband: John? You want to do that to the kid?

Wife: Do what? Husband: [ mimicking ] "Hey, John! Hey, let's go to the john. Huh, John? Let's go!"

Wife: Well.. wouldn't he outgrow those jokes?

Husband: Look, kids are mean. I just want him to have a happy childhood, too.. but, "Long John Silver"? I mean, I don't know what to say!

Wife: Okay, okay, okay.. Well.. um.. what about Peter?

Husband: Oh, right. Sure. Peter. Let's just put him up for adoption right now, save the kid a lot of agony. I mean, obviously - no Peter, no Dick, no Rod! Can we just discuss this intelligently, please?

Wife: Yes, we can. [ thinking ] Okay.. um.. William.

Husband: William. Good. "Wee Willie!" "Chilly Willy!" "Willie Wonka! Hey! Where's your chocolate factory?! Oompa-Loompa" every day of his life!

Wife: Did you get teased a lot as a kid?

Husband: [ defensive ] No, I did not. Did you tease a lot of kids? Because, judging from these names you're picking, you don't seem to be very sensitive.

Wife: Okay, I'll just keep trying.. What about Fred?

Husband: [ sighing ] Please.. Fred, Frank.. lease, the F's are no good. If he's fat, it's just a disaster.

Wife: Okay, alright. Um.. Sam?

Husband: Great. Sam. "Uncle Sam." "I want you.. to be ostracized!"

Wife: Then, let's [name him]Paul.

Husband: Right. Paul. "Hey, Paul, where's Peter and Mary?!"

Wife: What?

Husband: Peter, Paul and Mary. "Hey, Paul! Play me a folk song, and then I'll beat the crap out of you!

Wife: Well, at this point, I'd just settle for anything. How about.. Jack?

Husband: [ thinking ] Hmm.. yeah.. yeah, Jack's a fine name.

Wife: Really?

Husband: Oh, yeah.. as long as we make his middle name O'Lantern! Because that is what everyone's gonna call him!

Wife: Okay.. fine.. what about Ben?

Husband: Ben! Oh, fine, we're giving birth to a big bear? Great! "Gentle Ben!" "Hey, Ben, where's Jerry? Get me some ice cream, or I'll beat the crap outta ya!"

Wife: We could call him "Benjamin".

Husband: Sure. Benjamin. Harrison! "Hey, Benjamin, how's that tariff coming?! Montana a state yet?!"

Wife: Well, what about.. Todd?

Husband: [ stretching for an excuse ] Todd.. Todd.. Tad! "Tadpole!" Our son's a tadpole! "Hey, Tadpole, I don't like you! Thank your parents!"

Wife: Now, come on, I said "Todd", not "Tad". You changed the name, that's cheating.

Husband: Yeah, and it took five seconds. It might take a kid ten.

Wife: [ sighing ] Okay.. what about Harry?

Husband: "Hey, Harry, where are the Hendersons?!"

Wife: Oh, come on! Nobody even saw that movie!

Husband: Kids saw it! Alright, one more.. come on, we can do it..

Wife: Alright. Um.. Nate.

Husband: "The Nate Rockne Story." "Hey, Nate, where's the Gipper?"

Wife: What?

Husband: [ pacing the room ] Na-ate! Na-ate! Do you like that sound? Well, you better get used to it! [ his wife walks across the room ] Hey, where are you going?

Wife: [ leafing through book ] I'm looking at this Baby Name book, I thought it could help us.. [ looking through book ] How about Bjaardker?

Husband: [ intrigued ] Oh?

Wife: Bjaardker. It's Icelandic.

Husband: [ considering ] Yeah.. that's a tough little name to crack. That could be good. [ puts his face up to his Wife's belly ] Hey, Bjaardker, little fellow. You might just have a good childhood, after all. [ Wife laughs ] Talk to you later.

Wife: I love you.

Husband: I love you. [ they kiss, as the doorbell rings ] You sit, honey.

Wife: Alright.

Husband: [ answering the door ] Yes?

Telegram Deliverer: Hi, how you doing? I've got a telegram here for a Mr. & Mrs. Asswipe Johnson. I'm supposed to read it. [ holds telegram ] "Dear Asswipe & Emily: Congratulations on your upcoming blessed event. All our love, Bob & Diane." Here you go, Sir. [ hands him the telegram ]

Husband: Uh.. listen.. that's "Os-wee-pay".

Telegram Deliverer: [ confused ] What?

Husband: Uh.. forget it, forget it.. [ closes the door and sits next to his wife ]

Wife: That was really nice of Bob and Diane.

Husband: [ sighs ] Yeah, but why do they have to mention my name so much?

Wife: Oh, honey..

[ fade ]

This is my way of telling her we need to be careful about certain names. I want to do my best to provide a strong, appropriate name that has a slim chance of being made fun of. This includes boy names that have been hijacked and are now either girl names or gender neutral names. I also want to make sure the initials don't spell anything funny. For example, Liam Owen would have the initials LOP. Not good. I can name others, but you get the point. I don't see a problem with being careful, Does anyone else?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baby Number 2 - 19th Week

According to, our baby looks something like this now. We are in our 19th week. My wife made the appointment today for the ultrasound, so we are pretty excited. We finally get to see what sex the baby is on Wednesday. Let the naming battles begin!

I decided to have some fun, so if you look to the right column you will see a poll asking for your opinion. Do you think it will be a boy or girl? Let's see who is right. It is a short poll, so be sure to vote soon.

I am trying to spend as much time with my two year old as he will allow. I know his world is about to turn upside down again, so I want to help him build confidence in where his place is in the family. He has been so clingy to my wife lately, that he is either going through severe separation anxiety, or he can sense something is up. A few weeks ago, in a post called "Daddy Finally Matters", I blogged about how I was finally getting some attention. Most of that went away until a couple days ago.

The other night he had crawled into bed with Mommy while I was doing my Entrecard clicks. When I came to bed he looked so cute that I didn't kick him out. As soon as I got in bed he put his arm around me and grinned. He was mostly asleep, but the gesture meant so much to me that I laid in an uncomfortable position until he moved his arm. The last couple of days he has run up to me quite frequently, wanting Daddy to pick him up. Sometimes I am second choice, but I don't mind. I love the attention he gives me, since it used to be so rare.

I am hoping that he is excited about being a big brother. We ask him where Mommy's baby is and he points to her stomach, so we think he knows there is something different about Mommy. I doubt he has grasped the concept of a person being in there, but hey, this kid is pretty dang smart.

Wednesday is going to be a great day. We are pretty excited to see our little baby, whether a boy or girl.

Update: I was informed that my 19th week post was inaccurate. We are in the 21st week now though. (June 18, 2008)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Great Tri-Tip Marinade

We grilled a tri-tip steak for dinner tonight and it was pretty good. It is probably among the best of all the steaks we have made recently. We found a recipe from, and made some modifications. The modified version follows:

  • 1 bottle Guinness
  • 4 tbsp crushed Garlic
  • 5 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Emeril's Essence seasoning

This time we weren't grilling on a whim, so we spent some time to do it right. We made the marinade this morning. Before marinading, we sprinkled the Emeril seasoning. The meat soaked in the marinade for about 8 hours. Once the meat was on the grill, my wife boiled the marinade to burn off any meat contaminants, and we used it to baste the meat as it grilled. The meat had a lot of fat on one side, and my wife trimmed most of it off. What was left, added to the brown sugar in the marinade, was enough to cause some serious flame-ups. I had to monitor the meat closely.

The meat was grilled for an hour, rotated and moved from time to time to prevent the flame-ups from charring the meat. Eventually I moved the coals off to the side and slow cooked the meat for the final half hour. The meat was so tender from the marinade that the charred sections slid right off. This was a very tasty steak. Add some grilled corn and my family's baked beans recipe, and we had a great meal.

I think next time we will grill for 45 minutes instead of the hour, but otherwise it came out exactly as we wanted. Be sure to give this one a try.

Blog Traffic Assistance

I have been checking out a few sites to drive traffic to my blog, and I thought I would share them with you.

The best one so far is Traffic Swarm. I had used them in previous business ventures in the past, and decided to get back into it last night. I have already earned 847 credits. They have a pretty cool system that pays you one to five credits per click, depending on what the advertiser is willing to pay them. Getting more than one credit per click is a great way to quickly drive people to your site.

Traffic Swarm is very easy to use, and they respond quickly. Like I said, I signed up last night and my blog was approved within an hour or so. I was able to earn credits before I was approved as well. You can sign up multiple sites, and allot traffic percentages to each one. I like this feature. Sometimes you want to temporarily boost one page, so you can transfer all of your credits to a particular page.

Another cool feature is that you can set a max for the day, so you don't deplete your credits too quickly. Say you are going on vacation and won't be able to click for a few days. You can set it to only allow a certain amount of traffic so you will still have credits when you get back.

The next one I want to talk about is Blog Explosion. This is one you may already be familiar with. They take much longer to approve your blog, but once they do, it is a pretty decent site. Mine took over two weeks, so be prepared for a wait. You can earn credits while you wait though, which is good.

Blog Explosion has a number of cool features, including "Ping My Blog". It helps you alert the "blogosphere" that you have new content. This includes a few search engines from what I understand. I use this every time I add a new post. They have a way to automatically do it from your site, but I prefer to do it manually for now. I have found them to be generous with the bonus credits as well. One night it seemed that every third click was a reward. I made 25 credits or so that night just in bonuses.

The last site I want to cover today is Hits2u. I just signed up for them last night, and am still exploring the process. They have added a monetary benefit to their traffic, so it stands out from some of the others. The site is designed to offer people free 7-day trials, which then extend to 30 days if a few people sign up for free. This is supposed to create a viral traffic surge, so I am hoping it works.

So, again, in order of preference, I highly recommend you sign up with Traffic Swarm and Blog Explosion, and I recommend giving Hits2u a shot. As for disclosure, I am earning click credits, not money for these referrals. I only refer sites/products that I use or would use.