Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ok, I know I've neglected my blogs for a while. Truth is that life has been pretty busy, but very little change in the routine. Not much to report.

My wife has been walking with me recently. This evening I managed to walk her regular route with her, and I brought along my phone with a GPS app so that we could see how far she goes. We went 4.27 miles in 1 hour and 18 minutes with an average speed of 3.3 mph. She normally does the trek in an hour by herself.

She has lost quite a bit of weight recently, and I've been very proud of her efforts.

Friday, September 4, 2009

USS Dark Matter?

A little over 8 years back, my father in law and his wife sold us a no frills plain white Nissan Sentra. While I can't say I've ever been thrilled with the car itself, it has just kept running all these years. It also came at a price we couldn't refuse. I've used it to get to work while my wife and kids had access to our mini-van. It has been a wonderful help to our family. And it is not the first time he has helped us out with our cars. We've bought another car from him at well below cost, and he has helped us negotiate prices on the cars we've bought.

Last week the Nissan started having some problems. At first it was semi stalling, but then it started smoking about the same time the engine started working well again. Kinda odd, but it was clear that it needed some help. It turns out that the air conditioner compressor is tied into the belt system of the engine, and the compressor had locked up. The smoke was from the belt being stripped and once that was done the engine was free to work as it always had. Still, it requires that we fix the A/C for the car to continue to work properly.

My father in law had already talked about buying a new car and giving us his old one. He even had one on order. Great timing! We got our new car the weekend before we took the Nissan to the mechanic, so I still have something to drive to work while my wife has the van for kids and car pool. The new car does need some work done on it, and we'll get around to that soon enough. I don't think my father in law wanted to put any money into it, which is one of the reasons we got such a good deal on it.

Our new car is a black Buick Regal GS with lots of fancy stuff on it, including a sun roof. It has a nice stereo system and lots of other buttons to push.

The Nissan was definitely not worth naming, but I am starting to think about a name for our new Buick. Since it is all black, I was playing around with "USS Dark Matter". I also thought about "USS Dark Star", but that doesn't seem right either. I may need to give it a bit more time to jell.

Do you have any name suggestions? Star ship names preferred as my previous cars have been star ships. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kilimanjaro Pictures

Here is a Picasa album of my son's better pictures.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Home from Kilimanjaro

My son came home from his Kilimanjaro trip with Boy Scout Troop 1201. After almost a week, I still feel like we have scant few details. He did bring the camera home filled with over 700 photos and video clips. I'll upload a bunch of them to Picasa a little later this weekend.

Here David is getting ready to head up the mountain.

And here is his arrival at Gilman's Point at the top of Kilimanjaro.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cheesecake Factory

After our stroll at the beach, we headed out to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. This is our second time there. I had Wasabi Crusted Ahi Tuna. The tuna was perfectly grilled to be uncooked in the center. Very well done. I also managed to get a few shrimp from my wife's plate of Shrimp Scampi.

The best part was that we unexpectedly found out that it was National Cheesecake Day and our cheesecake was half price. We brought two pieces home since we were so full from dinner. My wife got a slice of 30th anniversary cheesecake that has 4 layers of yummy stuff including chocolate, which was her top priority. I brought home a pineapple upside down cheesecake.

Laguna Beach

We started our day by skipping Starbuck's and heading to breakfast at Coco's instead. The waitress was a bit overworked, but managed to take care of use just fine. On the other hand, the host was less than pleasant. I had a nice breakfast called "Deviled Benedict" which was essentially egg salad over bacon on an English muffin. Smothered potatoes on the side. To be honest, I had though about Coconut Cream Pie for breakfast.

We headed to Laguna Beach right after breakfast. Our first stop was the Sawdust Art Festival where we wandered around the booths and looked at lots of inspired arts and crafts. I think I liked the glass blower the best. I couldn't persuade my wife that she needed anything though.

We took the free trolley to downtown and hopped another trolley to the beach. We ended up walking on the beach that I had visited many times in my youth. Lots of signs posted telling us that we couldn't do ANYTHING - kinda sad. We climbed over rocks and I dragged my wife out to the tide pools. I was very sad that I didn't see any anemones in the pools I looked at. I remember seeing all sorts of them when I was young. We really didn't go very far out though. I did see some nice little fish and crabs. We walked along the water's edge so that I could get my feet wet.

We left the beach and headed up to the boardwalk (yes honey, they do have a boardwalk). We found a nice bench in the shade and sat and talked for a bit while our feet dried and the sand could be brushed off.

After leaving the bench we wandered up past the Laguna Hotel which is where we spent the first night of our honeymoon. We were so busy that weekend that spending the night was pretty much all we did there. We also went past the place my sister got married and stopped at a nice lookout point.

All in all, it was a very relaxing day. Unfortunately, both of our working camera's are off with the kids, so no photo shots to share.

The Melting Pot

After dropping off our son at LAX, my wife and I started our small staycation at home without any kids for a few days.

After coming home and freshening up a bit, we headed out to The Melting Pot. It was recommended to us by my daughter's friend. I have had fondue before, but this was my wife's first time. On the other hand, I have never had fondue as refined as this. We ordered the "Big Night Out" deal designed for two people. It included a four course meal:
  1. A four cheese fondue with vegetables and bread pieces to dip.
  2. A light salad with tomato slices and cheese, and a light vinaigrette dressing.
  3. A main course of meats including lobster, shrimp, beef, chicken and pork, along with assorted vegetables such as mushrooms, potatoes and broccoli. There were also some delicious cheese filled ravioli 'purses'. The fondue was a Cajun spice blend in a vegetable broth base. We were given specific instructions for cooking the meet and vegetables in the fondue. There were about 8 sauces included to dip things into, and they all had wonderful flavors.
  4. The final course was a chocolate fondue with caramel and nuts. Dipping items included cheesecake, brownies, marshmallows, rice crispy treats, strawberries and banana slices. I also had a great cup of coffee to wash that down.
My wife was smart enough to stop eating when she was full, but I just polished off everything else that was left. I practically rolled out of there. We came home to a wonderfully empty house and spent some time tweeting and posting to Facebook before calling it a night.

The Jungle Quiz

Journey2Learn gave my blog a plug today and mentioned that my boy is headed to Africa. She also posted a link to The Jungle Test. Here is what my result was:

You Are Wise

You are a protector and teacher. You help people deal with their struggles.

Right now, you are seeking excitement and a bit of adventure in your life.

You are drawn to people who are passionate and deep.

You feel like there are a few minor things in your life that need to be changed.

You find that any decision you have to make needs to be slept on... often for multiple nights.

David off to Kilimanjaro

My son David left for Kilimanjaro yesterday afternoon. He's going with the Boy Scouts. I can't possibly keep up with all the details my wife has on her blog, so take a look there.

The picture on top includes (from left to right) William, Alec and my David. They all started scouting in the same cub scout den in Pack 234. We moved to Fullerton and David joined the other two in 2nd grade. They are all great kids, and I am glad they have shared scouting for so long. And now the three of them will share an experience of a life time, climbing Kilimanjaro together. They are the youngest three on this outing, with my son being the very youngest.

My wife fretted over the packing but she easily got the duffel bag under 50 pounds as required by the airline. We did have one minor incident just before leaving - the zipper of the duffel came apart on the other side of the latch. I had to force the latch back and re-zip it. We tried securing it with some bungees, but the airline made us take them off. I am really hoping that it stays together during the flight. We don't want him to loose important gear before he even gets there. No matter, I am sure he will make do with whatever he has left.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

We seem to be very busy at the moment with kids coming and going.

My Daughter, Rebecca, went to Youth Wave for the week of July 13. She flew up to Portland Oregon for a church retreat that was hosted at Cascade College this year.

Last week my youngest son, Andrew, went to Camp Cherry Valley for Boy Scout summer camp.

This coming week my daughter will leave for Teen Camp, another week long camp for her. And this Wednesday my son David will be leaving for a climb up Kilimanjaro in Tanzania Africa.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dead Computer Chair

When we moved into our house a little over 8 years ago, we set up an area for my computers. I spent some time researching and bought a fancy armoire to house my computers and allow me to work on computers for friends and family. The armoire was designed for a computer, though I have had a many as 6 stowed away inside. The doors close so you don't have to see the computer stuff, but more often than not the doors just remain open.

I also bought a nice computer chair, since I knew I would be spending a lot of time in it. In fact, when my wife and I are home, it seems like we play musical chairs at the computer desk, with one of us sitting down whenever the other gets up.

Today, my chair broke. It had been listing over to the side for several weeks, so it was only a matter of time before it gave way. I had actually looked at it today and thought I might be able to repair it and get a little more use out of it. Times are tough and money is tight.
While I was sitting in the chair it suddenly toppled over. The weld that attached the chair part to the caster base just cracked and separated with just a small part remaining attached. The back of the chair was left horizontal to the floor. I had to crawl out and get up. Click on the pictures for a closer look.

So, I ran out and bought a new slightly better chair, with that assumption that we would be using it quite a bit for the next 10 years.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Daughter's Report Card

My daughter's report card! I am so proud of her. Next year she is planning a bunch of AP classes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I was doing some yard word yesterday and managed to corner a big fat lizard. He must have been eating lots of fat juicy bugs.

I have just been talking to my son about local wild life in the neighborhood as part of his Boy Scout requirements.

Since I had pulled up all of his cover and the source of all his good food, I relocated him to a hedge in the backyard. Hopefully nothing will find and eat him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Temporary Troop Location

Last year our Boy Scout Troop was informed that they would need to relocate while the First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton did some major construction work on their building. The date for the start of construction hadn't really been set, but was expected to be soon. The troop decided they should relocate before the end of summer. So in August 2008, the troop began meeting at the Sunny Hills Church of Christ, which is on the same street, just a few blocks down.

The new location offered several nice features including more parking, a nice outdoor area and plenty of places for meeting and activities. Part of Coyote Hills is right behind the building with access from the street just a short walk away. Court of Honor was held in the auditorium with plenty of seating and a projection screen available. Parent Meetings were also held in the auditorium away from the kids. Patrol Leader Conference meetings for planning troop activities were also scheduled monthly outside of troop meetings.

This last Monday was the last time the troop met at our temporary location. Construction at First Presbyterian is nearly complete and they are ready for the troop to return. I'll admit this was a little bitter sweet to me. I have been opening and closing the building weekly almost every Monday this last 11 months, ensuring everything was as it should be and locked up before I left. Arriving early and leaving late. It is nice being relieved of that duty. I am glad to have helped the troop find a temporary meeting location and particularly pleased that the Sunny Hills Church of Christ building would serve and facilitate the Boy Scout organization (not for the first time, either).

A special thanks goes out to Donna Delgado for being particularly kind and helpful in arranging access and providing resources when needed and to Ellen Murphy for coordinating the calendar and ensuring we had a place to meet on a regular basis.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Praise God with Mind and Body (PGMB)

All three of my children have gone through the PGMB program at my church. The program was designed and has been run by Steve and Terri Paden for as long as I can remember - at least 15 years and probably a lot longer. It involves memorization, competition and games between teams. The program is designed for 1st through 6th graders. Each year has a different book for a total of 6 books of material. A number of helpers assist in the program including Kathy McBride and Phyllis Goodwin. Some of the past participants have also served as helpers.

My two oldest kids completed the program with 6 straight years of Gold Medals meaning they had perfect scores in memorization. The program includes many other prizes and awards along the way as well.

My youngest son completed the program this year. He entered the program in kindergarten. He has been awarded the Gold Medal 7 years, which only a few other kids have done. Alec R. also completed 7 years of the program with Gold Medals. The picture above shows them being recognized for their accomplishment.

My son also got up and read his favorite memory verse to the church this year to honor his father, and I was presented with a book mark in commemoration of his achievements.

So this ends an era as my youngest moves out of elementary grades. I've been proud of all of their accomplishments.

Thank you to the PGMB team who worked with all of my kids through the years.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

My family presented me with some wonderful gifts this morning. I received a card from each kid with appropriate and funny greetings in them. One of the cards talked about using duct tape to repair things. One of the gifts I received had make-shift wrapping on it. The stuff they bought didn't work out. The gift was wrapped in Ariel paper with something other than scotch tape. The card and gift went so well with each other, I got a great kick out of it.

I received two new pairs of shorts, and the Monte Python and the Holy Grail movie that I can watch with the kids. Great fun.

Finally, my dear daughter made me a batch of biscotti. To be honest, my wife makes her father a batch of biscotti, and I am slightly jealous that she doesn't give me any. So I see my wife is teaching the tradition to her daughter.

I am a very proud father and love my children.

Edit: More details.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Favorite Blogs

I got this idea from one of the bloggers I follow. A review site for the blogs that I like and follow. I don't know how often I will add entries, but will try to add a new one now and then. Take a peek and let me know if you would like me to say something about your blog there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Columbine Springs Backpack

My boys and I went backpacking with our Boy Scout Troop 1201 this weekend. We went to Columbine Springs camp. The trail head is in Angelus Oaks, just below Big Bear. We had a grueling ascent of about 2300 ft. On the way up we had an incredible view as we climbed about the clouds. The peaks across the valley showed like islands in the clouds. Very picturesque!

At the top of our climb we traversed a saddle between peaks. The relatively flat bridge was covered in manzanita. There was lots of other shrubbery, but the manzanita has smooth bright red bark, making it very unique. I understand that it is protected. The saddle looked like a meadow.

We then made a sharp descent of about 500 feet to our camp area. We had seen plenty of day hikers, but this trail was not used very often and we were completely isolated down in our camping area. Other than a few planes it was very quiet.

The temperature dropped to quickly and went down to 39 degrees over night. We all turned in early to get out of the cold. It is probably just as well, since the boys made up a game involving tying each other up, which the adults nixed in the end.

The next morning we ate breakfast, packed up and made our ascent up 500 feet back to the saddle. Thank goodness the rest was all down hill from there!

Every trip we hand out a camp gadget; something small but very useful on backpacks. This trip we handed out bandanna's with the US flag on them, in honor of Flag Day. Our Scout Master even brought a flag to post in camp - a first for me on a backpack trip!

I am sure I have left out many interesting details and I may come back and edit some in. More pictures are available at the Troop 1201's picasa web album

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thought for Today

Last Saturday I helped a prayer warrior move her daily inspirational thoughts out of e-mail and into a blog. Freda has been serving in her ministry since March 2000, and now she moves her Thought for Today into the blogosphere. Please visit her and say hello.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birthday Girl

My daughter turned 16 on Wednesday - at 11:00 PM mind you, so our celebration was a tad bit premature. My wife always does such a great job of making people feel special, which she did for my daughter this year. We gave my daughter 16 presents and had her grandparents over for a small family celebration, including chocolate cake, ice cream, and sliced strawberries served with whipped cream.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I spent some time making some changes to my blog today. I added a list of blogs I follow. I joined a few more social network services and found a new widget to add to my blog showing all the accounts I have all over the place.

This is my personal blog. It serves as an online journal or diary for myself and my friends. I don't mind sharing it with the world, but know that it is mostly of interest to those who know me. Still, I guess part of my effort today was to build up some more traffic.

Blogging takes some effort. At least here it is fairly easy to find things to post about. Sometimes it is harder to find decent content for my other blog and web sites.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Storage Shed Service Project

About a year ago our Boy Scout Troop had to temporarily relocate to a new meeting place. The church that charters our troop started a major remodeling project. Not only did we have to find a place to meet, but we also had to find a place to store all of our gear since the remodeling project would involve all three sheds/closets that the troop tucked gear into. But all that is coming to an end as construction is nearly complete.

This morning a number of people from the troop met to rebuild our shed. We have a fancy new room to store our gear with finished walls and a lot more space. It even has a window. There is enough space that all of our gear can be consolidated into the one room.

One of the first tasks is to rebuild all the shelving and storage. So we spent the day working. The boys made six dollies so that their patrol boxes can be rolled in and out of their storage slots in the new shed. I helped supervise that process. While the dollies were not the finest of construction, they turned out very serviceable and should last a number of years. The boys learned some good wood working skills too.

The men who have carpentry skills spend the day putting up shelves and cabinets in the new shed. I expect we will be adding lots of hooks and other aids for storage.

I can't wait to see the finished project!

Flags for Memorial Day

My wife, daughter, two sons and I got up early Saturday morning to put out flags and religious emblems on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day. My oldest son was invited for a service project as part of his membership in the Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow. My daughter needed another service project for her membership in the National Honors Society. The rest of the family came along since we like doing things like this, and have put out flags for veterans numerous times over the last 6-7 years.

Memory Garden is a much smaller cemetery than we have been used to working. We expected it to take all morning, but it didn't take long at all. We arrived around 7:00 A.M. and we finished around 8:30 A.M. We finished up the morning with donuts and coffee.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rebecca's Recital

My daughter had an end of the school year recital. I thought she did well.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Court of Honor

Andrew was awarded his Tenderfoot rank at Spring Court of Honor. The boys did a great job and the even went very smoothly.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The Los Amigos District Scout-O-Rama event was held this weekend. Scout-O-Rama? What's that you say? I wondered the same thing when I heard about it many years ago when my oldest boy had joined a local cub scout den. If I had attended it back when I was a boy, I do not recall.

Scout-O-Rama is a special annual event where all the units in the district come together to display scout skills. I'll say that it is something like a carnival/fair. Every unit (Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops and Venture Crews) get a booth or display area. There is a nominal admission fee of $10 per family which mostly covers rental of the grounds and insurance, and there is typically a parking fee charged by the facility owner which was $5 this year. A few vendors are invited to supply food and beverages, the scout shop sets of a store, but otherwise there are no additional fees to participate in anything. An excellent deal, but it get's better!

There are several hundred booths manned by the units each year. The booths cover all areas of interest, including:
  • Some cook and serve food (typically camping style) which you eat at your own risk, though most of it is from very safe recipes. Food includes stews, muffins cooked over open fires, dutch oven cobblers and desserts, solar cooked wienies and even pizza. I never have a need to buy food from the vendors.
  • Scout built bridges, towers and climbing walls, as well as a regular attraction of a scout built May-Pole swing that seats about 10-12 people per turn. The swing often has hour long lines to get on.
  • Booths to earn Cub Scout Belt Loops, Webelos Pins, and Boy Scout Merit Badges. These usually entail completing a number of requirements. The units usually provide the materials needed to complete the tasks.
  • Crafts and art booths. In the past, the pack my sons belonged to provided materials to build pine cone bird feeders, a very popular activity. Cheap peanut butter spread on pine cones collected from local parks then roll the pine cones in bird seed and add a string to hang it.
  • A few booths specialized in providing shaded resting places or misting stations or cold drinks.
  • Many other things I am probably forgetting including panning for gold or fancy rocks, mazes, displays and exhibits.

My son's Boy Scout Troop 1201 has traditionally run a canoe event. We brought 6 canoes and provided canoe rides. My sons and I worked the booth from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and I have included a picture of my younger boy helping me unload passengers I just took around the pond. This is a very popular booth that has had two hour lines in the past. It is great advertisement for our troop. We even won an award this year. We only had one incident during the day where a canoe tipped over and dumped the passengers. Accidents happen, and the life jackets we make everyone wear is a clear indication that unexpected dips in the pond are a distinct possibility. With that one exception, I think everyone else had a nice time.

I have to say that the location of this years event was by far the best; much better than the two other locations that have been used in past years. There was lots of shade and parking was good, taking less than 15 minutes to get in and out. I hope the district will be able to use this same location in coming years.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Piano and Opera Collaboration

I attended my daughter's recital on Friday night. The Opera conservatory had made arrangements for student pianists to provide accompaniment for the opera students. I image it is hard enough to practice a song and get it right, but add in student pianists and things get more difficult. I expect it is equally hard for the pianists who must keep time with the student singers as well, with little experience in adjusting on the fly to a singers change in tempo or mistakes.

I have some video, but will not plan to post it without getting some approval.

Edit: I've been told I can record this Wednesday's performance and share that instead. My daughter expects it to be much better.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jury Duty

I was recently summoned to serve jury duty for the Federal Court in Santa Ana. I usually feel a sense of duty to serve, though I was not overly thrilled with this case. I had been summoned to serve in our local Superior Court in the last year, but that service would not get you excused from this summons unless you had actually served as a juror in a trial. While I have been summoned numerous times over the years, I have not actually served on a trial for at least 15 years, and probably more than that. I'd actually enjoy sitting on a case if it was expected to last several weeks.

The summons indicated that the case could last 4 to 6 months. Since my employer gives me full wages while I serve, I expect I am rather appealing to the court. I have a lot of projects at work right now, and knew that taking that time away would significantly stall and probably kill several of them.

The first day in court involved a number of administrative type tasks. They checked me in. The judge then spent some time talking about duty, how the selection process would be handled, that we should avoid news sources that might give information about the trial with possible biased oppinions and that we were NOT to talk to anyone about the details of the trial so as to avoid outside influence before reaching a verdict. The prosecuting attorneys then read the indictment to the jury assembly room. The indictment included well over 300 charges against approximately 8 defendants. While I didn't count them, there were probably somewhere around 500 charges. It took 3 hours to read. I think I only nodded off twice. We then completed a lengthy questionnaire of about 10 pages with many written answers.

I was hoping that my answers on the questionnaire would get me dismissed without having to return to the court - they usually do, though I have nothing bad to report. But, there I was again, sitting in the assembly room. We were informed several times that the court needed various recesses during the day, and we were never called in to begin the actual juror selection process. I made a lot of headway on a book I had bought to occupy my time. Finally, at the end of the day we were informed that all of the defendants has submitted plea bargains. Once the judge had accepted all of them, he was then free to dismiss all the jurors in the assembly room.

While I am now at liberty to discuss the details of the case, I expect it is probably best I not share them here. The judge was very congenial and thanked us each personally for coming in to serve. He indicated that over 9000 summons had been issued to come up with the jury pool of about 160 potential jurors. He also indicated that our presense directly impacted the defendants as the prospect of a trail became emminent. He assured us that our time had been well spent. I am glad that I had a chance to serve, but I am equally glad that I did not have to spend 6 months on the trial with the impact I expected with my work.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Order of the Arrow

My son David was nominated for induction into the Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scout National Honor Society. He had to be elected into the order by his fellow Boy Scouts in his troop. He will have to complete some additional tasks, include his Ordeal, before he becomes an actual member. His Ordeal will involve staying in the wilderness alone overnight. Adults will be in the area to ensure his safety, but he will only see them if significant danger threatens. I am glad he was nominated, and I am very proud of him.


I worked at Camporee over the weekend. I was part of the Citizenship station. I played the administrative role. Each scout patrol would come and present themselves to me. They would show me their flag and give their patrol yell. I would prepare their score card and give them their first points based on presenting their flag and reciting their yell. Only one patrol came to me without a flag, while two others got partial points because they did not present their flag to me. I would then direct the patrol to meet with ASM's who would judge the boys on their abilities to correctly handle a U.S. flag - unfolding, presenting and refolding. They also had to answer various questions regarding their rights and responsibilities as U.S. Citizens. Afterward, they would return to me to have their score for the event calculated and be presented with a ribbon for first, second or third place, based on their score. It was a long but productive day.

It has been just over a year since I was a Webelos Den Leader in Cub Scouts. One of the things I enjoy about Camporee is a chance to see some of my cubs. I got to see Jimmy and Michael this year. Their picture is shown to the right. I noticed Jimmy immediately. To be honest, Michael had changed so much that I didn't recognize him right off. They told me that Ryan and Zachary were still in Boy Scouts, but had not come to Camporee this year.

Camporee itself had some interesting aspects this year. We were on the bank of Irvine Lake. Across the lake was a punk band concert. I understand it was 23 bands playing from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Unfortunately, some of their language was a bit colorful.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Telescope Knob

I have been waiting weeks for this little gem. This is the focusing knob to my telescope. I can now use it. Maybe I will drag it out tonight if the sky is still clear. Thank you Dr. Winston!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

For some odd reason our 15 year old daughter demanded an egg hunt this Easter. We hid three bags of chocolate eggs around our family room. The kids ransacked the room and found most of the eggs. We'll see what additional eggs are found in coming months.

This was a simple and relaxing Easter for us. Church, our Easter egg hunt and a ham dinner.

David accepted to OCHSA

The same day we left for our Canoe Trip David received a letter from Orange County High School of the Arts. OCHSA is a public magnate school specializing in various artistic media. The school seems to have high academic standards, but is most known for the various artistic conservatories. Applicants must pass an exam to be accepted into a conservatory and attend the school. Our daughter has been attending for two years in the Opera Conservatory, where the school is the premier high school in the nation for opera. Our son David has been doing various creative writing for several years now and tested to attend the Creative Writing Conservatory.

My wife was itching to open the letter all week while we were gone, but my son demanded that he be the one to open the letter. Before opening it, he said that he would attend the school if he was accepted. David opened the letter Saturday night after our return. He has been accepted into the Creative Writing Conservatory. Even better yet, one of his favorite homeschooled friends was also accepted, so he is going with a friend.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Canoe Trip

My son and I went on a week long canoe trip with Boy Scout Troop 1201. This was the lower river trip. We went on the lower trip last year as well. The year before that my son went on the upper river trip.

We traveled about 84 miles down the river. We started in a nice camp site at Blythe, CA that is kind enough to let us launch our canoes without paying a launch fee. We pack up about 45 sealed buckets of food, 6 ice chests and two large patrol boxes, along with all our personal gear - tents, chairs, sleeping bags, cots, cloths, etc.

Our first stop was a small sandy beach just a few miles away from our initial launch point. Since we start the day so late, we can not go far. This also gives the boys a chance to get the feel for the canoes loaded down with all the gear.

Our next stop was about 12 miles further down the river at Camp McIntyre. We sleep up on a grassy knoll. Not my favorite site, but it does have bathrooms. We have to share the beach with others. There is a store on site and plenty of people and activity. Just a bit too civilized, I think.

The following day we went about 8 more miles to Sandy Cove. On the way, we stopped and let the boys jump off a piling structure that is about 15 feet high over the water. The water was barely deep enough underneath, so the boys kept dredging up nasty smell mud with each jump. Sandy cove is an undeveloped beach with an small inlet. They boys can swim in the inlet and mess around with the canoes without worrying about the river current. Lots of the Arizona locals also drive into the beach. We had some youth from town that we could have done without this year. We also had a minor accident with one of the boys.

Our next stop was in the Piccacho camping area. We traveled about 26 miles to arrive at the 4-S camp site. This was one of our layover spots, so we spent two nights there, with one full day of no canoeing. This site is fairly remote but did have bathrooms on site and some tables with coverings. Unfortunately, the layover day was pretty windy, and kicked up a lot of sand. This was where I spent my birthday.

We had some cell phone coverage and discovered that a storm was heading our way. Normally we would travel another 8 miles or so and stay at the main Piccacho camp site which is typically mosquito infested and not particularly pleasant. To avoid the storm, we chose to skip Piccacho and see how far we could get.

Another long day of paddling of about 28 miles got us to our final camp site on Squaw Lake on Thursday afternoon. We set up there and weathered the storm that arrived on Friday afternoon. This site is well developed and I had a chance to shower and get cleaned up for our ride home.

We were picked up Saturday morning and arrived home around 5:00 PM. We made a stop at Carles Jr for our first civilized meal in a week. I've posted some additional photos on Picassa. My wife has a few blog entries as well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Los Amigos District Dinner

I was invited to a District Dinner last night to receive an award. This is the second dinner and award I have received, but my first was from before I blogged. This dinner was at the all new Outdoor Education Center inside Irvine Park in Orange. The facilities were very nice.

Here are the awardees from Troop 1201 in order: Scott Allan, Lisa Vaughn, Irene Rassmussen, David Ahia, Kim Messbarger and Steve Herbets.

I received the Extra Mile Award. I am not sure who may have nominated me and for what service in particular, but I am grateful for the nomination and recognition. I think the Scouting Programs (both Boy and Girl Scouts) offer tremendous benefits to our youth and I am proud to support the organizations.

Along with the award, I received a VERY nice coffee mug. On one side is the Boy Scout emblem and on the other side is the Scout Oath. The Scout Law is shown in bands around the top and bottom. Click on the pictures for a closer look.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fried Potatoes

I was told before I got home tonight that I would be on my own for dinner, and have to find something to feed the boys too. I looked around at the available ingredients and spied the bag of potatoes in the closet. Fried potatoes seems to be a semi-regular stand-by for me since we usually have potatoes around and don't use them fast enough. On top of that the kids actually like my fried potatoes, at least most of the time. The problem is that I never make them the same way twice.

  • Chopped onion, celery and/or garlic - whatever is available.
  • oil for the bottom of the skillet.
  • potatoes, pre-cooked in the microwave, and cubed to about 1 inch or so.
  • seasoning - usually includes salt, paprika, pepper, crushed red pepper, (onion or garlic powder if you didn't include those above) and anything else that suits your fancy for the moment.
Heat skillet with oil. Dump the chopped veggies in and lightly brown in the oil. Dump the potatoes in and stir to mix with the veggies. Keep turning potatoes over as you add the seasonings. The paprika gives a nice color and should be evenly distributed. Keep turning until the potatoes are completely cooked.

A friend of ours provided a large container of Pappy's choice seasoning which contains all the seasonings that I've mentioned above and a few more. I use a lot, so the results are a tad salty. This is a good choice if you have it and want more consistent flavoring.

This evening I threw the potatoes in a bowl, added a number of jalapenos from a jar, and dumped half a can of chili over top. Very tasty.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Telescope

As promised, here is a picture of my 'new to me' telescope. I put it back together today and had my daughter snap off a shot so that I could share with you. I am still missing a piece; seems that the knob to adjust the focus is missing, so it is not usable yet. But I hope to turn it to the sky soon!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kilimanjaro Gear

My son David has signed up for a trek to the top of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. We had been putting it off, but we could put it off no longer. We had to buy gear for his trip up the mountain. Here in sunny California, winter gear is often only available during the winter months, and we were running out of time. So, Saturday was spent at the local REI getting the things he will need to climb the mountain. The bottom of the mountain is arid, but he will be climbing through tropical forest with daily rainfall until he reaches the top which is covered in an ice cap. He will need to be prepared to travel through all the environments.

His gear includes a thick pair of thermal underwear designed to wick moisture away from his body so that he stays dry and warm. The next layer is a set of insulating jacket and pants. For additional warmth, he will have a vest that he can add over the jacket. Finally he has a set of rain gear - jacket and pants. For his head, he will have a balaclava and a beanie to put over it. He will have liner socks and three thickness of hiking socks, so he can move to thicker layers as he moves up. His gloves have a liner so that he can take them off and do tasks without completely exposing his hands.

While trekking during the day, he will probably get warm and remove layers as he goes, but as they stop to camp each night, he will have to add a number of layers to stay warm. We are hoping he adds the layers before he actually starts to get cold.

We have other gear he will be taking, and some of it we can purchase later. Not pictured is a zero degree sleeping bag.

We have a lot of concerns about his trip and neither of us will be with him. We will be relying on the adult scout leaders to ensure his safely and comfort. I'm sure I'll be blogging more as his departure nears.

See my wife's entry on the subject.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It seems like my posts are getting fewer and farther between. I have been fairly busy, so there should be some good stuff to add here.

Last night I was given the largest telescope I have ever seen for home use. The tube is about 6 feet long and 10 inches in diameter. The base weighs about 80 pounds. This is not something to be moved around on a lark. I understand that it is custom built. It has a drive motor to keep it synched with the stars in the sky.

I have no idea how good it is. I'll plan to post some pics when I get it all re-assembled.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

PSS Award Ceremony

I had a pleasant surprise this last week. I was invited to an award ceremony of the PSS Commission. There was no indication what the award was for.

Now I have to admit that I went into it with some trepidation. There has been a lot of push to 'recognize' staff for their accomplishments. That usually means that you have to look through a set of names and pick somebody. My name was one of two recipients selected out of about 500. There were about 25 recipients of approximately 14,000 employees.

I was far more impressed when I heard the list of accomplishments for each of the recipients. It was clear that some thought had gone into the process.

David manages the Departmental Websites including intranet and internet applications and portals which contains over 2,000 web pages. He is very proactive in managing these websites and performs system monitoring during off-hours. He represents DPSS in countywide E-Government and E-GIS Committees. He is very creative and always looks for more efficient ways to automate manual processes. He is very dedicated and conscientious in providing outstanding customer service.
Click on the award for a larger image and text of the presentation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Scout meetings

This seems to be a week of Scout meetings. Monday night we had a troop meeting. Tuesday night we went to a meeting to learn how to earn the Eagle rank. Wednesday night was a Patrol Leaders Conference meeting with leadership training incorporated.

We are supposed to go to Death Vally with the troop this weekend, but both of my boy's got sick this week, and I don't think they will be well enough by this weekend for us to be able to go.

I feel like I've been on the run.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Operatic Fusion

I spent the night at the Opera. My daughter participated in a program through her school called Operatic Fusion. She had an opportunity to have an understudy with a professional opera singer during the performance. She sang in the choir in accompaniment to some of the performances. She also got a small speaking part where she thanked supporters of the opera program at her school and in general. It was a chance for her to experience performing before a large crowd in a real theater.

God Calls

Last night God called my name three times. After I went to bed I called back "Here am I". And now I wait to hear what He has to say to me.

Joshua 24:15

Friday, January 23, 2009

Going offline soon...

We are scheduled to go offline some time today. We are changing our ISP in hopes of a much better internet connection. Internet is more important to our family than TV, though I hope to enjoy the video service as well.

If you are looking for us, but don't see us, we are probably offline, but hope to return soon.

Update 12/24: Well, it's 6:30 right now, and Internet is still up. I suppose the termination could be automated and take place this evening. More likely that it's Christmas eve and the work order didn't get processed. We'll see what happens by tomorrow morning.

It's now 10:20 and the Internet is still available.

Update 12/25: Christmas day and we are still on-line. Now I must wonder if I will have to call on Friday and get it terminated. I was hoping that I might be with the new ISP by Christmas with minimal downtime. Worried now that down time will impact kids school work.

Update 12/26: Still on-line. Think I will have to contact Earthlink.

Update 12/27: Called AT&T to see what was going on. It would "take a couple of days" for the DSL to stop working in our house, like the signal is latent in the line and slowly draining out. Then it would "take a couple of days" for the line to clear entirely; latent DSL signal slowly dripping out of the central office perhaps. We can order whatever we want after all the DSL goodness has left our presence.

Update 12/28: Still on-line.

Update 12/29: Late on 12/28 our DSL connection stopped working because my log in ID was terminated. The DSL modem still indicates we have an active DSL signal on the wire, so not sure what impact that will have for ordering the new service.

We are no longer available on-line and will have limited access to internet and e-mail.

Update 1/1: We have arranged to use our neighbors Internet via Wi-fi while waiting for ours to get straightened out. We should be around a bit more.

Update 1/9: I had to call Earthlink today to get them to actually disconnect the DSL off our phone line so the signal will drop off and we can order/install the U-verse. They said they are working on it today and it would take 2-3 business days to drop off the line.

On the other hand, we are seeing how stable our neighbors DSL is as compared to what we had. Incredible difference. Hope our new service is up to par.

Update 1/19: Finally, after several phone calls to Earthlink, we have had our DSL completely terminated. After some discussion with my father in law, we have decided to stay with DirecTV, so have ordered AT&T DSL which is due to be online this Friday, Jan 23. If the AT&T DSL does not meet our expectations, then we will once again consider the U-verse with fiber optic connections.

Update 1/23: I had to call AT&T again today. The order had not been processed yet. Further, we are only able to get 1.5MB at our current location. Should be hooked up by Wednesday.

Update 2/1: Today I am finally seeing a 1.5MB connection. Definitely wish it were faster, but if it just proves to be stable, I think I can live with it for now. I'll be keeping my eye on it.

I'm redating this entry so that is stays on top until my running commentary is done. Please find regular blog entries below.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guided Tour of Papua New Guinea

After church this morning, we hosted a small group in our home. We usually have several families over for lunch, followed by a study. Today, we opted to skip the study and have a guided tour of Papua New Guinea with Matthew's photos. It was fascinating seeing all the pictures of where he grew up, getting visuals of all the things he's been talking about for years. I stole one of Matthew's pictures for your viewing pleasure; he is on the right.

We displayed our new alligator to everyone at lunch.

He also brought back treasures to give to everyone in our small group. He had a bracelet, a bunch of necklaces, and a number of bamboo plaques (for lack of a better word). My boys and I each grabbed a little bamboo plaque. My daughter got a necklace for herself. It was very generous of him.

He showed off a bag woven from bamboo fibers that was extremely strong and flexible. He also showed off his prized possession from his trip. His parents had a large piece of wood carved with scenes of all his childhood memories in Papua New Guinea. Matthew said it was made from Iron Wood and it was about 1.5 feet by nearly 2 feet, and about 1.5 inches thick. This was his Christmas present from his parents.

The slide show and display of goodies kept everyone well beyond our regular meeting time, and several people stayed until about 5:00 p.m. It's so nice to have such good friends.

Garage Sale

My wife was gone all day on Saturday. I missed her, but I was extremely proud of her.

A few years back my wife and her friend Shellie set up a homeschool park day. Shellie moved to New Mexico shortly after, leaving the park day event for my wife to coordinate. She has been faithfully organizing it ever since and has been the primary host and greeting party for all new visitors. I took my kids over to a birthday party and felt like I was being treated like royalty, all the while being introduced as the husband of "The Founder of Park Day". I've taken every opportunity to tease my wife about this telling her things like "they must buzz around you like your the queen bee" and "they must make you sit in the mush pot as they circle around their founder". All in good fun on my part, though I am sure she gets a bit perturbed at times. I know all her friends at Park Day have a great respect for her, as do I.

One of the families that regularly attends Park Day has hit financial problems, with both parents now unemployed. The families of Park Day organized a garage sale. I am not sure who, but am pretty sure my wife was somehow involved. She spent all day Saturday working the garage sale, from 6:00 a.m. to around 5:00 p.m. I know they raised a considerable amount of money, but won't quote the figure here to protect the innocent. They will also be having another garage sale with all the left overs, so the job is not done yet.

I know my wife will not toot her own horn about this, but I wanted everyone to know how proud I am of her and everyone from Park Day that got involved.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Years Resolutions - Nothing New

I've been putting this off, mulling around all the possible New Years Resolutions I could pursue. Honestly, I usually ruminate on my birthday about my previous year. That sometimes makes me a bit of a grouch on my birthday.

There are so many things that I could vow to improve; more exorcise, better diet, loose weight, stop procrastinating. These are all things I think about and work towards on a regular basis.

I have to say, and this is sometimes despite *ME*, that life has been pretty good to me. My blessings include:
If I plan to openly admit to anything that I want to continue to work on it would be to continue removing negativity from my life; both external negative influences (people and activities) and internal negative thoughts and habits.

I hope 2008 treated you as well as it has me, and here's hoping for a wonderful 2009 filled with more blessings that you can count!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Our Alligator

A few weeks ago, before Christmas, we took our friend Matthew to LAX so that he could visit his parents in Papua New Guinea. We picked him up again from LAX on Saturday. He had a nice visit, though it seems there were a few mishaps like canceled flights and out of the way re-routes to get where he had to be. He had his brother and sister with him, so he was not alone. They got it all worked out and had a great visit with his parents who do language translation missionary work with the tribes there.

The last time his parents came out to visit, he raved that they had brought him a wooden alligator for Christmas. We thought that was fabulous. So Matthew brought us our very own wooden alligator that we proudly have on display in our book case. It took up a whole shelf.

Thank you Matthew!