Sunday, December 28, 2008


Hard to see here, but our local mountains have been covered with snow since the rain storms came through this last week. I think there is less snow today than there was a few days ago, but still very nice. I just had to stop and take a photo. These mountains about two hours away. Click on the picture for a closer look.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas gifts

Just thought I might share some of the things people gave me this year for Christmas.
  • U-Verse - assuming I can get it hooked up.
  • Black Sweater suitable for work
  • Gaming mat
  • Recharging cade for cell-phones and electronic devices.
  • $25 Starbucks gift card
  • $100 visa gift card
I probably have forgotten a few things, so will amend the list as I go. This doesn't include items given to both my wife and I.

Monday, December 22, 2008

7 Random things about me...

OK, I got tagged to talk about 7 random things about me that you may not know. I've been putting off doing this because of item number one below, which you may already know by now.

1) I don't care to play games, or at least board games. I usually blame this on an over competitive step father. Watching my daughter take on the same trait makes me think it may be more genetic than I give it credit for. I am not competitive by nature, though I strive for improving my own performance all the time. I ran cross country in high school, always knew that I would never be first, and only worried about my time as compared to the last race.

2) At one time in my life I could count 11 people that I considered grandparents. My father passed away when I was young and my mother re-married. All of my grandparents, including the step grandparents had divorced and re-married.

3) I've had a long time fondness of ice cream. I've been making my own for years. If it's store bought, I only settle for Breyers which is all natural and has a home made taste to me. Egg nog ice cream is a family tradition now. I always go for the odd-ball flavor that I haven't had before. My favorite flavor is... The one I haven't tried.

4) I like trying new food. I'll try anything that other people would voluntarily eat if given the choice. I haven't had to put that to any real test though, as I have not had to eat bugs or anything too odd yet. On the other hand, my wife says I am a picky eater. Once I find something I like, I usually like it prepared a certain way. Oh well. I'd like some good Italian food - hint, hint.

5) I have two moles on my stomach. This runs in my fathers family and has gone back at least 4 generations that I've heard of. Maybe too much information??

6) I'm a native Californian, and have lived most of my life within 10 miles of my birthplace - Buena Park. I spent about 6 months living in New Mexico when I was in first grade. My wife claims that most of my child hood stories center around that short period in my life. Have I mentioned that I walked up hill to school through the snow both directions? The only time I've been out of the country is just across the border to Mexico; not even a passport required.

7) I am of Hawaiian ancestry. I've studied the family genealogy and have determined that I am just a smidgen under a quarter Hawaiian. My father was half Hawaiian, as were his parents. I have lots of other stuff in me, and otherwise refer to myself as a "Poi dog", all mixed up. My ancestry actually goes back to some fairly important Hawaiian families with associations to the royal family. Pretty neat to look at events so recent in history.

Ok, those are done. I have no plans to tag anyone else, as that smacks too much of playing a game. On the other hand, if you want to be tagged by me, drop me a note. I'll edit this post to include your name and a link to your blog entry.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Tree

Here is a photo of our Christmas tree. We just finished wrapping all the gifts and the only thing missing will be delivered on Christmas eve. We are expecting guests on Christmas morning who will be bringing more, but for now our tree is complete.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Changing ISP

I plan to call my ISP today and cancel service so that I can switch to a new ISP. I have a bad feeling about this. I was told that I would probably be without Internet access for about a week. I expect it may be longer. Not sure what I'll do without Internet. I will have access from work next week, but have the week of Christmas off. I'm trying to minimize the impact on our homeschooling that makes use of the Internet for online courses. Well, here goes.

Update: Our current service will be terminated on 12/24. We will get to keep our current e-mail addresses for 2 months. We cannot get the new service activated until after the old is actually terminated, so if we are not disconnected on 12/24 during the day, then I assume we'll have to call on 12/26. Installation is supposed to be scheduled within 7 days of the call.

In the mean while, I am trying to arrange an alternate connection for the down time. We'll see how that works. I really do not want to be down.

Friday, December 19, 2008

LAX airport

This morning I got up at 4:00 AM so that I could take my friend Matthew to LAX airport. Matthew's parents are missionaries in Papua New Guinea where they do translation work to bring the Gospel to the native peoples. Matthew spent most of his youth in Papua New Guinea, so he is very familiar with the land and it's people. He will be spending two weeks there and come back right after the new year. His brother and sister are meeting up with him on one of the legs of the flight so they will be flying over together. The church that sponsors his parents work had set aside money for his parents to come to the States during the holidays, but instead that money was used to reduce the cost of Matthew and his siblings to go visit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

I took my co-workers to breakfast this morning. We went to Mimi's Cafe. I like it there, but it's been at least three years since we have gone. Last year got hectic and we didn't go out until around June. The year before that we were informed that we could not do breakfast, so had to find a place for lunch instead.

I had the "Pain Perdue" which is french toast stuffed with marmalade and cream cheese, topped with a glob of butter and syrup. It included two sausages and two eggs (I had them over easy) and a batch of season potatoes. It also included a juice, and I chose cranberry. I ordered a mug of hot cocoa before breakfast and had coffee afterward. I am not sure what they do, but their hot cocoa is particularly good. One of my co-workers is on a special diet, and when he asked what I had ordered, I told him "sugar and fat". All in all, quite decadent.

I bought them all a gift card to Blockbuster and included a package of red vines. My wife had the cute idea of using raffia to tie it all together, and I thought it looked great. She was not so happy with the way it turned out.

They collected up and gave me a very generous gift. They included a $25 gift card to Starbucks. I love getting out of the house and away from the kids for a little time with my wife, and we like to sit and relax in the local Starbucks for our "dates". I had already gotten ahold of a $20 card from our section party, so we should be set through the holidays with plenty of outings and time together. They also gave me a $100 American Express gift card, so I need to figure out what I will spend that on. I've been talking about a Quad Core CPU and motherboard for about a year now, but haven't managed to go out and buy one. Maybe I'll wait for the iCore 7 chip to come down in price. I'm sure I NEED all that processing power, though I haven't figured out why yet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Work Holiday Party

We had a nice Christmas luncheon at work today. We normally go out for lunch, but due to the economy, we decided to have it in our conference room. About 30 people attended. We have food from a variety of cultures, making it very interesting - Egg rolls, Indian "Lemon" rice, curried meats and vegetable dishes, Pad Thai, broccoli salad, fruit salad, and other assorted goodies. Our manager brought in a small collection of gifts which were given away by lottery.

We then followed up with a game of "stealing" presents. Everyone who brought a generic gift is given a number. When their number is called, they have the option to get a wrapped gift from under the tree, or steal someone else's gift. If a gift is stolen, the person who lost their gift then gets the option to steal someone else's gift or pick a new gift from the pile. They can not steal back what was stolen from them in the same round, unless that gift passes into someone else's hand during the round. We chose to allow a gift to be stolen up to three times before it has a permanent owner. We had 25 players, and I was the last player. I brought in a fondu set, and was happy that someone thought it nice enough to steal. I ended up with a gift card to Starbucks which will help fund my upcoming dates with my wife.

We also collected up money and arranged to "adopt" four needy families this Christmas season. We gave them gift cards to the grocery store and WalMart so that they could purchase things they needed and hopefully have a better Christmas than they would have otherwise. Two families came to our office in the afternoon. One family had five kids and the other had one. We expect two more families to come in next week, but I will be out of the office during that time. It was nice to know that we had an impact on families who need some additional help.

I'll be taking my immediate co-workers out to breakfast on Thursday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cat under Christmas Tree

I've seen several cat photos on various blogs. We have three cats - Zachary, Mimi and Popolikia. Here is a photo of Mimi under our Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

11 Mile Skyline Hike

I went on an 11 mile hike on Saturday. We met at 6:00 a.m., so I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready. We drove to the location of the hike, registered and had our photo taken, then sat in a bus for about 30 minutes to be taken up to the trail head.

Our hike was along the Skyline trail starting just above Rio Hondo College. Some of our group went 6 miles, but I chose to do 11 miles with my son. The hike follows a line of local foothills and had a number of ascents and descents. The last mile or two was a nice downhill slope.

The day was very overcast with occasional light sprinkles here and there. Never any real downpours. Wonderful for hiking. We even had a touch of sun come out a few times.

I was pretty tired by the time I was done. Stiffened up on the ride home. I had some errands that I had hoped to run in the afternoon, but decided it would be best for me to cancel them. I lounged about most of the day, nodding off regularly in front of the TV or computer. Finally I gave in and went to bed at 8:00 p.m. Today, I am still sore, but getting better. I even managed to hobble after my wife when we went Christmas shopping.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twitter Surprise

Many years ago I met a wonderful young lady at church. Her name is Veronica Cramer. She attended high school with me too, though she was a couple years younger than me. One of the things that impressed me about her was her gratitude. She loves sending greeting cards, and my family and I receive numerous cards from her through the year. She has been an inspiration to me. I tried sending out Christmas cards regularly, but have not done very well in recent years.

I found a new "follower" on Twitter recently. She lives in Hawaii and was interested in my family name. We chatted about greeting cards a bit. She had ordered some custom made cards that she planned to send to special friends and family. After our conversation she arranged to get our address from my wife. I am very pleased to find that we received a beautiful Christmas card from her today. I'm including a scan of the front for your pleasure. "Mele Kalikimaka" means Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. Thank you @ucsmiles!

Work Holiday Party

We had our work Christmas Holiday Party today. Shh, not supposed to say that word...

It was very nice. We went to the Knott's Berry Farm Hotel (just outside of the theme park). Economy and budget made things a little tight this year, but the committee did a great job of putting it together. I had a nice plate of grilled salmon for lunch, including vegetables and a rice dish. Salad and rolls were served before the meal. Cheese cake for desert. Water, tea, punch and coffee available too. Money raised through out the year was used to reduce the cost of attending. Clerical staff are subsidized even further.

Santa did not make an appearance this year, as he has done in the past few years. That had been my job since Barbara retired (Her husband was Santa before me). Time contraints and budget seems to have nixed it this year. Many gifts were handed out by drawing names. Our office head gave a nice gift card to our janitor to help her during the holiday season.

Entertainment was limited to the talents of our staff. The highlight of the day was my immediate superior performing a traditional Indian (from India; does that need clarifying or is it no longer PC to do so) dance. She explained that she had not performed the dance since she was 17. She also explained the story behind the dance which help quite a bit to explain what was happening as the music and dance progressed. I love all the postures and finger positions. Very much the highlight of the day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wives are wonderful

"Wives are wonderful... I think everyone should have one." A phrase that I repeat on occasion. I'm being a bit silly, but it comes out of my deep appreciation for my wife. Shoot, I'd get her one if I thought I could. :)

Sometimes I am reminded how well we get along. We share the same religious beliefs. We have a very strong focus on raising our children. She chose to stop working so that she could spend time raising our kids, and I have supported her in that. I wouldn't mind her working, but only to know that she could take care of herself should anything happen to me. I admit that we don't agree on everything, but we do agree on most things, and the things we don't agree on are usually not worth fighting over. After all, I do like the house a little cooler than she usually does.

We see lots of "drama" in various parts of our extended family. We've even been told that we must be "holding out". But we are just not that interesting.

Well, I am sure that I am not nearly as eloquent as my wife, but I very much appreciate her and the hard work she puts into making a great marriage.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ordered U-Verse

Well, my wife has either gotten tired of my complaining about our Internet connection, or she herself is tired of our poor connection. She decided that we could order AT&T's U-Verse as my Christmas present. I read a pretty good explanation about it here. However I managed to pull it off, I'm very eager to get it installed.

I see it as a present to the entire family. All five of us use the internet daily with plenty of squabbling over access to the computers we have. I also consider myself a more advanced user of the Internet. I maintain several permanent VPN connections to other places, and occasionally need to VPN into work. We watch some streaming video and the kids play quite a few online games. I do bit-torrent on occasion to download VMWare images or Linux distros. I also maintain a few applications that have web interfaces that I can access remotely. Add in wireless, sub-netting of my home network and other networking fun. Our current Internet rarely goes faster than 300-400 kbps, so the promised 6 mb connection will be real nice, even if we don't see a full rate.

We are transferring our home phone service into the plan. I thought there might be some interesting features that come along with it, but it sounds like we are essentially getting the same service, except flat rate with unlimited long distance. While we don't do a lot with our cell phones, we at least have a back up should problems arise.

Finally, we are getting a decent package of video chanels. We've had DirecTV, which I understand is a better service, but we don't currently have a real HD TV (only does 720p on component connections), so figure that is should be as good as what we are used to watching. Our set top box in the play room broke, and we haven't wanted to pay for the repair, so this move should also restore TV access in the playroom. The DVR seems cool too. We'll be able to record 4 channels and watch the recordings in either the family room or the play room. That would be good, since our youngest son monopolizes the family room TV with Cartoon network (and fairly poor choices of cartoons at that).

I need to read up a bit more and figure out how I should connect up some of my existing equipment. I figure the VPN stuff will be a bit tricky. Not sure when it will be installed yet, but I'll keep you posted. I'll be heading over to the U-verse web site to see if I can get a status update on my order.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I was a merit badge counselor at our Troop 1201 Merit Badge Day event today. This was the first time I've done this. I signed up this last month to be a counselor for the Computer Merit Badge, just for this event. I expect that I'll be contacted about being a counselor for boys on occasion now.

I had two sessions with three boys each. I had so much to tell these boys that the first group didn't get their 5 minute break. I was showing them computer parts and how they go together, telling them the history of computers, explaining networking and the Internet, talking about upcoming technology and all the things that I am so passionate about. They were yawning up a storm by the end of the session. The second group was yawning too, but at least they got a 5 minute break.

All in all, the day went very well. Lot's of merit badges earned, and a number of partials too. The coordinator had been so concerned about how it would go, but she did a great job at putting it all together. Next time it can only get better.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I had to mow the lawn today. My youngest son (11 years old) came out and asked if he could try. It was a little hard for him to steer the lawn mower, but he did a great job.

I should be able to hang some Christmas lights outside tomorrow. I'll be running long extension cords around the front and back yards, so may not get to mow again until after Christmas. What a shame.... :)
During Thanksgiving week my Aunt Darlene, her husband Gerry and my youngest cousin (now 8) came to down Disneyland. I was happy that we were able to meet up with them. My 15 year old daughter remembers when they came down about 4 years ago and adores my little cousin Nikki. My boys were not so interested in the whole affair, but they got desert out of the deal. We had a nice time and told a bunch of kid friendly jokes while catching up on family news. When I would take my family up north to see my grandmother, my aunt would try to find time to stop and in visit, but I don't get to see her too often.

My Uncle Gerry told me that he had a photo of my father and would send a copy down. I received the photo today. I don't have a lot of photos of my father, especially from so long ago. I hadn't seen this look before. My father passed away when I was young, so the few things I have are precious to me. Thank you uncle.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Life seems to be getting so much more complicated. The kids are old enough now to go on activities all by themselves. And all of them in different directions. We've entered the parenting stage of being chauffeur's.

Our tradition is to put up all the Christmas decorations starting today. My daughter is off on a weekend expedition for a church youth group activity, so the decorating must be put on hold. I'm happy that the kids seem to be taking on faiths of their own. That they should take after my wife and I is pleasing, but hollow if that is all they have. They need to find their own way and relationship with God.

Last year we were in the middle of major house improvements that significantly impacted our holidays. We had a number of unfortunate construction mishaps. We took a two week break from construction, but that hardly felt like the holidays. I'm hoping to spend a bit more time in the holiday spirit this year.

The kids are excited. There is a demand for hearing Christmas music. My daughter has already asked about making eggnog ice cream (a Ben and Jerry's recipe). We make two batches right before Christmas, then blend with a little milk on Christmas morning for a decadent eggnog drink/shake for brunch with extended family.

We need to get this house into shape. Hopefully I'll have some pics to post by the end of the weekend.

God bless you during the holidays and until the great holiday that will last forever!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I just had a nice chat with Sonia, a friend I haven't heard from in about 20 years. She still has traces of that odd accent I remember so well. It was very comforting to hear it. It kind of made the time away seem less long.

We've been exchanging e-mails since the middle of September (OK, she was sending and I didn't notice until October) and playing phone tag for a while too.

She has four kids now, works as a church secretary and lives in Bullhead City, near the Colorado River.

I posted about my old friends not to long ago. I am hoping to hook up with some of them this week after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008


With a nod to my wife (I can't bring myself to put "dw" since that is Arthur's little sister, but maybe "fv" will do), here is an accounting of some of my blessings:

  • My God who has had a firm hand on my life since I was a child, who has comforted me through dark times, taken me places I haven't always wanted to go, but has ALWAYS led me back into the light.
  • My wife who has supported and encouraged me, even when things aren't working out as I would hope. I love our "dates" out to Starbucks and other little treats.
  • Three children who are loving and haven't given me very much grief, at least not yet. I am very proud of their character and abilities.
  • A good, stable job that allows me to take care of my family, even as the economy is taking a downturn.
  • Skills and abilities that allow me to help my friends and family, and keep myself occupied.
  • Friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin.
  • The material blessings I have, including my house, cars and computers. Having a Fry's Electronics near by is nice too.
So many more than could be mentioned here. How about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hiking in the Olden Days

I've been exchanging e-mail with Sonia for a while now. We haven't managed to connect on the phone yet, but hopefully soon. She posted a YouTube video from back when a gang of us from Gemco used to hang out. It was pretty amazing looking back at all those old photos. I thought I'd share her entry so that others can see. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Old Friends

It's interesting that I've been contacted by several very old friends in just the last few months. It's nice to hear from them and renew old friendships. It helps me remember who I was and who I've become. This is a bit on the sentimental side for me, but I remember hearing the first line of this poem from an old friend that I haven't heard from in a while.

Lyrics and Music
Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We've been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I'll help you
and together
we will see it through.

The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Local Fires

We have two fires near by, the sky is red and ashes are falling to the ground. One is in Brea and the other in Corona. We are also getting the smell of the fire in our house.

I was talking to my mother earlier, and my step father is stuck out in Corona and can't easily get home to Irvine. He has to travel clear around the back way, several hours out of the way.

Here is a photo of the sun outside. We just had to turn on some lights since it is so dark inside.


I've been complaining about my internet service for quite a while. When we lived in Stanton, CA the city was low end, but my DSL was rock solid (except during a few rainstorms when the complex flooded). Fullerton, CA is a very nice city, but my DSL connection here has been horrible. It is about a third of the speed I was used to and it drops connection regularly.

I've heard good thing about cable internet in my area, but since I do all sorts of extra things on my internet connection, I've been reluctant to sign-up. I use VPN to connect to remote sites. I have a number of web enabled applications that I like to access from the Internet. Cable doesn't like you hosting web sites on your cable Internet connection.

U-verse has become available in my neighborhood recently. Run by AT&T, it uses Fiber To The Node (FTTN) to get a data connection to the neighborhood. Your existing copper lines are then used to get the data into your home.

U-verse is AT&T's way of providing video services, and you can't get it without signing up for the video services. We already have DirecTV and are committed for one more year. I am also concerned about down time since we use the Internet daily, including for homeschooling.

Still, I keep looking for a solution to our Internet connection problems. Maybe I can sign-up for U-verse in the near future. What's your experience with U-verse?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lunch with Mom

I have a nice lunch with my mother, sister and nephew today. We went to Mimi's and I had a lunch special of Salmon with nuts, sitting on a bed of artichoke. It came with veggies and mini baked potatoes, which were quite good.

I held Travis for a bit and we talked about our kids and what they were up to. Very nice and relaxing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

5 Day Weekend

Well, my 5 day weekend is about over. I took yesterday off so that my daughter could audition for the "spotlight" competition. I had to sit outside for the performance, but I could hear it. She did very well, and is now in the running for a college scholarship.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Personal/Family Web Site

Ok, with all the fun freetoys out on the internet (Blogs, Photo Albums, Groups, Wikis), what can you do with a personal or family web site? Many ISP's give their customers a small patch of web space that they can use for anything they like, including a small business, personal information, etc. But if you have moved your business off to an official address, what can you do with that space that is just sitting around? My earthlink space is no-frills, no-features and had a url that isn't indexed by search engines. Here are some of the things I've found on popular web sites:
  • family genealogies
  • family crests
  • personal interests
  • collections of personal links
  • homeschooling information

So, now I have a new space just for me and my family at that I need to fill with some content. I am leaning towards building out some sort of portal for immediate and extended family. What would you do?

New Personal Blog

Ok, maybe my wife roped me into this, but I found I would like a place to post stuff about my life in general. Probably not to thrilling, but here it is anyway. Who knows, I might find myself on Twitter next...