Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Was Year of the Dog

My 2008 was all about dogs.

In February, we adopted Zoe and I became a dog owner for the first time. Although she can be a pain sometimes, she has brought far more happiness.

I became engrossed by the National Geographic Channel show “The Dog Whisperer” and was inspired to learn more about dogs. I devoured everything I could read about the subject.

Our visits to various animal shelter in our search that led us to Zoe made me sympathetic to the plight of shelter dogs. I saw so many dogs available for adoption, so many I would have loved to have taken home. It was really sad. There were so many Pit Bulls, many of them very sweet and adorably cute. I would have loved to have rescued at least one of them.

I remember giving treats to two Pit Bulls at the Oakland SPCA, a little black female Chihuahua that we very nearly adopted from the Martinez Animal Shelter, a big blue-tongued Chow-German Shepherd mix at an adoption event in Pittsburg that had nothing but kisses for me, a tiny black long-haired baby Chihuahua at the Alameda County Animal Shelter in Dublin that we were seriously considering, and a big husky at the Martinez Animal Shelter that had apparently been there for months that the staff were practically begging someone to adopt.

I saw a program on Animal Planet about what had become of the Pit Bulls seized from Michael Vick’s property. A large segment of the program featured the efforts of a Bay Area Pit Bull advocacy organization called BAD RAP, Bay Area Dog owners Responsible About Pitbulls. I remembered that name from visiting the Oakland SPCA.

I became sympathetic to the plight of the American Pit Bull Terrier. They have largely been portrayed as menaces in the media. The truth is that they’re really victims of irresponsible owners. I began writing posts about them on this blog. Eventually, it led me to start a separate blog focused solely on dogs.

My blogging led me to another dog blogger, Jeni, who lives in South Dakota. Amongst the stories she shared was about a severely beaten dog named Charlie. She started a fund in Charlie’s name that ended up benefiting students of a grade school. I was proud to have contributed to the fund which provided these kids with a subscription to a publication produced by the Humane Society of the United States that teaches kids to be kind to animals.

Along the way we adopted a Charlie of our own. His mama was a tiny apple head Chihuahua, his daddy, well, we haven’t quite determined that yet. I say he’s a Papillon. Karen thinks he’s some kind of terrier. So now I have two dogs!

With Imani starting her freshman year at Alhambra High School it officially made both my girls Bulldogs.

And lastly, there was Dog the Bounty Hunter. He got caught in a firestorm making racist comments to his son that were revealed to mainstream media. A&E pulled his show. It looked like Dog was about to lose it all. Who knows what exactly led A&E to change their minds, but Dog is back and the new episodes are strong as ever.

That’s my year of the dog.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Last night I went to the movies to see the new Tom Cruise movie, "Valkyrie". This film is based upon actual historical events that took place in World War II Nazi Germany. Based upon the trailers and considering that the film's director, Bryan Singer, had previously directed X-Men and Superman Returns it appeared that I was going to be in for a great action movie. And if an action movie is what you want then this film is not for you. But if you enjoy tense political thrillers you'll find "Valkyrie" right up your alley.

Cruise portrays Nazi Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. He was amongst many within the German military that realized Hitler was a madman and had to be stopped. Of course, their plan ultimately failed, but the film tells a brilliant tale of how this plan came about, and how close they were to succeeding.

Singer did an excellent job of maintaining the tension level throughout the film. The story moves along quite quickly, and you have to be paying close attention to the details to fully understand exactly what's going on. It's feels a bit strange seeing Nazis as good guys. I can only think of one other movie that had a Nazi protagonist, "Schindler's List", and even then Schindler was the lone good Nazi in the story.

The fact that this was based on actual historical events surprised me. I never knew that a German Resistance existed during Hitler's reign. It comes as a comfort and a relief to know that there were Germans, members of Hitler's military, and members of the Nazi party that were persons of conscience and acted upon that conscience. I can imagine the amount of courage it took these men and women to take action against Hitler. Hitler was a dynamic, charismatic leader. He led Germany from utter poverty to being a world power. Despite the horrible things Hitler did, I can understand how a German citizen could turn a blind eye to those things and go along with Hitler's agenda (I know that's horrible of me, I'm just trying to put myself in their shoes).

Tom Cruise doesn't disappoint in his performance. His portrayal as dedicated, resolute character with along with being a strong family man has you rooting for him from the first minute of the film. If you can appreciate this kind of movie genre then I highly recommend "Valkyrie".

By the way, I've been told that if you file for divorce and the other person doesn't respond then you are automatically granted the divorce (in California, that is). If anyone knows anything about this please let me know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Teen Angst...Been There, Done That

OK, nerd warning. Now that you have been warned…I am soooo juiced that Battlestar Galactica will be returning on January 16! Last season ended with them finally reaching Earth, but finding the planet in ruins. Of course, they can’t end the series on that note, and there are also a great many loose ends that need to be tied up so I am really looking forward to these final 11 episodes.

I need to document what’s been going on with me. About two weeks ago Asha declared that life here was unbearable and that she was moving in with her mother. I don’t blame her. It really is unreasonable of me to do things like ask her to do her chores before leaving the house. And the chores! Wash the dishes (actually just rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher), and clean all your messes off the tables and counter tops. I just treat her like a slave, don’t I? Someone should call Child Protective Services on me.

Caprisha tells me she was really wanted me to respond by telling her, “Please don’t go. I love you. I want you to stay with me.” Sorry. I don’t respond to drama like that. Then I hear she’s feeling suicidal. I don’t mean to sound callous, but I know what’s going on. She’s feeling sorry for herself. This is another attempt to get some attention. I know she’s not serious. I went through the same thing with my dad when I was her age. Isn’t that ironic? I think I have actually become my father. And I have to say, Dad, if you’re reading I feel your pain. Although, I have to add that our situations are slightly different in that if I had actually tried to pull that same bullshit with my dad I know my mom wouldn’t have indulged it like Caprisha has.

So Asha actually does live with Caprisha now, who lives in West Oakland, yet wants to keep going to school in Martinez. She is taking public transportation to make this happen. It’s an incredible inconvenience that I know is not going to last for long. ‘So I know she’ll be back, but when she does move back in I’m going to tell her that if she tries to pull this bullshit again she won’t be welcomed back here a second time.

Asha is going to be turning 17 in six weeks. She’s a heartbeat from legal adulthood. She has so much growing up to do. I’m really concerned about her. I remember my dad telling me as a teen to enjoy your high school years, that they were the best years of your life. And I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me? What, life gets worse after this?” And you know what? He was right.

At some level I think that both my parents must have realized I was going to turn out okay. They set good examples for me. They taught me manners. They instilled a work ethic in me. I wish I had that luxury. I am deathly afraid that Asha doesn’t have that work ethic in her.

Happy note. Starting in January a few bucks a payday will be steered to the East Bay SPCA. I am both pleased and proud to be an official supporter. Also, for my Kris Kringle at work I requested doggy treats. The same day we exchanged gifts I found out that Pet Food Express accepts donations that go to the East Bay SPCA and I was able to donate all the treats that same day.

I haven’t made an entry on my dog blog in quite a while. I really need to catch up on that.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Christmas 2008

Yesterday we went to see “Marley & Me”. I must now freely admit I’m a sucker for dog movies. I have been looking forward to this film for months. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston were a great pick to play John and Jenny Grogan. I hope I’m giving away anything by saying that Marley does pass away in the movie. It was one of the saddest moments I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Everyone must have been crying around me from all the sniffles I heard coming from every direction, but I must say that I only heard them through my own sniffles.

I had read the book previously. That is to say, I didn’t actually “read” it. I listened to the audio book. It’s almost always better to see the movie first and read the book afterwards. Inevitably, there are elements from the book that aren’t translated to the big screen the way you’d like them to. One example I found was how in the audio book John made a point of saying Marley had never been told, “you’re a great dog” before John says it to Marley as he lay dying on his vet’s exam table. Although Owen Wilson does say it in the movie the same emphasis wasn’t there. I still loved the movie though.

I also saw “Seven Pounds” last week. I enjoyed it but it was also moved a little slow. I won’t give away the movie but when it is revealed why Will Smith is giving those people those extraordinary gifts it is heartbreaking.

We had a nice Thanksgiving-type dinner with my brined turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, the whole nine yards. Instead of making a plate I have become accustomed to making my “Thanksgiving mush”. I put a slice or two of turkey along with some mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy, stirring them up into a mush, and eating it like that. It sounds good, looks gross, smells great, and tastes even better.

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as much as I enjoyed mine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nice Song

This is from the movie, "The Fighting Temptations". It's probably my favorite all-time gospel song. Very moving.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Random musings

First, I've gotta pimp my game again. This game is the primary reason I've let my blogs go. Dicing Dangers is a multi-player online role playing game. Lots of fun. It runs right in your browser. Absolutely no downloads required to play. It's free. It's very social. I've made friends with people all over the globe. Give it a try.

If you sign up look for me online. My new analogy for the clan I belong to is that we are the Jedi Knights of the game. My two character names are "Spiker" and "ZoeChihuahua" (yes, my freaking dog is one of my characters).

I guess what's got me so hooked is that there are so many international players. The person I'm most friendly with lives in Tasmania, Australia. Our clan leader lives in England. A couple of times all three of us would be chatting in Windows Messenger. The first time we did this it struck me. How cool is this? Between California, England, and Australia we are about as far apart as three people could be from each other yet there we were talking to each other like we were all next door neighbors.

Our clan has members in Lithuania, Singapore, England, Australia, and the Ukraine in addition to the US. Our American clan members are in New Mexico, Ohio, and South Carolina. I just find that so cool.

So if you sign up and don't see me look for members of my clan if you need help learning the game. Look for either [EGO] or [NEW] next to player names in the chat column.

I forgot to mention this in my last post. When Imani and I entered Fry's after having waited in line for about 45 minutes before the doors opened the whole Fry's staff were lined up inside applauding us as we entered the store. It wasn't clear why they were applauding but I got the feeling the sentiment was "thank you for waiting outside in the cold like an idiot". It was quite awkward and just a little embarrassing. It made me feel as if I should be raising my arms in victory like I had just won something.

On Monday's Howard Stern show one of the staff members announced that he was gay. Personally, I thought the guy, High Pitch Mike, was a real asshole. I now understand why. He said that he had been in the closet for so long because his mother once told him that she would disown him if she were ever to discover that he was gay. He has lived the balance of his life with the anguish of knowing he would lose his mother if he were ever truthful about his sexuality. He mentioned the special commentary Keith Olbermann had on Countdown following the passing of Prop 8. I thought the commentary was worth watching here if you're interested.

Also on that same show they reviewed the new Guns & Roses album, "Chinese Democracy". According to Howard this album's been 13 years in the making and Rolling Stone had given it four stars. I have never been much of a G&R fan but I decided to download it and give it a listen. It's actually quite good. The songs are very strong and the guitar player was surprisingly excellent. Slash isn't their guitar player anymore, but I think that's a good thing anyway. I definitely wasn't a fan of Slash. If you like heavy rock you'll like this album.

In my widget column on the left you'll see a new widget for Grand Central. If you click on it the program will call your phone then call mine to connect us. What I like so much about Grand Central is that they will provide you with a telephone number that you can keep for the rest of your life.

Most people become very attached to their phone numbers. Whenever I have to place an order for a phone customer that is moving I often encounter people that get quite upset when I tell them they can't keep the number. The reaction is natural. It is a hassle making sure that everyone has your new number and it's inevitable that there will be people that you end up forgetting.

What this service does is forward calls from the number they have provided you to another phone number that you can be reached at. This means that it will no longer matter if the phone company assigns you a new phone number. As long as you set Grand Central to call that new number you won't ever have to worry about making sure everyone has it. As long as people are calling your Grand Central phone number it will never be an issue.

The service is still in beta. There's no telling if you'll ever have to pay whenever it gets out of beta, but it's worth trying. It's a great way to manage your telephone services, at home and with your cell. Register for a number for life of your own at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was one long weekend. Thursday was Thanksgiving with the girls here. Friday was shopping and preparation for Saturday. Saturday was an even bigger Thanksgiving meal. Sunday, we all went to see Brian Copeland’s “Not a Genuine Black Man” and had Rachel and her kids over for dinner.

Caprisha is currently about 3 days away from moving into her new place. She’s staying with her aunt in San Lorenzo for the time being. The aunt’s plan was to go over her mother-in-law’s place for Thanksgiving. Karen wanted a big Thanksgiving so we decided it would it be best to have Caprisha come over here on Thursday so she could have a Thanksgiving with the girls and me. Karen’s plan was to spend Thursday over Jessica’s with her mom and Jeremy.

Thursday Thanksgiving turned out pretty well. I, of course, was in charge of the turkey. We had a 17 lb. bird. As always, I put it in a nice roasting bag and made use of our newly bought electric thermometer. We also had a prime rib roast as well. The girls prepared salad, candied yams, and the dinner rolls. Imani made her world famous chocolate pudding pie. It’s a crushed Oreo cookie crust filled with chocolate pudding and topped with a thick layer of Cool Whip. It’s as rich and tasty as it sounds.

It was a very nice meal. Before sitting down to eat we all said what we were all thankful for. It was a first for us.

Friday was an adventure. Karen and I got up around 3:30am in hopes of snagging us a couple of nice Toshiba $300 laptops. After laying around for a good half hour saying to ourselves, “Oh, my God, do we really want to do this?” we finally got into gear and to Fry’s in Concord around 4:30am. The doors were to open at 5. The line of about 2,000 people as already extended to the backside of the building.

I can see why there are incidences of ugliness on these Black Fridays occur. When the doors open there is a mad scramble to the section that your object of desire resides in. People push and shove. I was hit by shopping carts by at least three people, none of whom held a hint of an “excuse me” or a “sorry”. When you factor in the irritability of having waited in the cold at an ungodly hour, the relative heat on the inside of the store, the frustration of the long lines, and the level of rudeness you would never find in any other circumstance, I now understand why the stress of it all ends up driving some to the point of violence.

After waiting in seemingly mile-long line, after being pushed, and working up a good sweat from the raised temperature from all the bodies crowded, at exactly 5:20am a Fry’s employee cupped his hands and proclaimed that all the $300 laptops had been sold out. So much for that bright idea.

Karen and I picked up a few things and headed for the register. We ended up at a register next to a person that had snagged himself one of those elusive $300 laptops. We asked how long he waited in line. He had been there since 7pm the night before. That’s 10 hours, folks. There is absolutely no friggin’ way I’m ever going to go to some store to wait in line for 10 hours after stuffing myself with Thanksgiving dinner. I’m guess I’m just not a hardcore shopper.

Afterwards, we decided to head over to Wal-Mart just to see what the madness looked like there. We had also heard rumors of a $300 laptop there as well. We saw no ad listing this but some were insisting that it was going to go on sale. We knew that if this turned out to be true we would have missed our opportunity, but we just had to know. What we found was even more of a zoo than Fry’s was. All aisles were packed. We could barely move. It was even hotter inside than Fry’s. And it turned out the rumored $300 laptop was just that. A rumor. There was no $300 laptop.

One thing I remembered that was said from a Fry’s employee was that there was going to be an eight page ad coming out on Saturday that would have different items on sale. I held on to that thought.

Friday was also Imani’s 14th birthday. A couple of hours after getting home from Wal-Mart Caprisha and I headed out to Sam’s Club where we picked up her birthday cake. One year Imani chose to have “Here’s Your Cake, Loser” written on Asha’s birthday cake, so this year’s cake for Imani would have Asha’s revenge written on it. In green icing Imani’s cake said, “Happy Birthday, Moronica”. They are my children, indeed.

Caprisha picked up a perfume sampler from Victoria’s Secret at the mall. That gift would be from her and Asha. I headed over to MetroPCS and picked up a nice new cell phone. This one had a nice slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

We got home and sang “Happy Birthday”, opened presents, and had some ice cream and cake. Imani wanted to do something, anything to get out of the house. We had to have a difficult talk with her. We had to get her to realize that on some years her birthday can fall on the day before a Thanksgiving dinner or even on Thanksgiving itself. This was one of those years. When such things occur she would have to understand that there will usually not enough time to do something just for her. It’s a terrible reality to face, but I know many people that have birthdays in late November. It’s just something you have to live with.

Saturday was a very busy day as well. I woke up and immediately rushed out to get the newspaper. Sure enough, Fry’s had all kinds of things on sale including a $300 laptop. It was about a quarter of eight. The store opened at 9. Karen had overdone it with all the cleaning and her back was killing her. No way she was going to be up to standing in any more lines. So I woke up Imani and dragged her out there.

We got there about 8:15am. I counted exactly 25 people in front of us. It was more madness as the doors opened, but we got to the computer section in one piece. A salesman named Sean took our order and handed us a sheet to be taken to the cash register. There the cashier would take the sheet and bring us back our laptops where she would ring them up. It turns out Sean wrote up a sheets for the wrong laptop. So we scrambled back to him. Luckily there was still some left and we finally got what we came for.

Saturday dinner was very nice. We had a very nice layout, adding stuffing and Karen’s great mashed potatoes to the mix. The mess was kept to a minimum. We had a pretty easy time of it overall. Asha had a friend over that I had never met before. I wanted to visit with them but I just had too much to do.

Sunday was an afternoon trip to the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek to see Brian Copeland’s one man show, “Not a Genuine Black Man”. It was his last show there. He’s moving it to the Marsh Theatre in The City. It was an entertaining show. He spent much time re-enacting his experience growing up in San Leandro. I never realized that in the early 70’s San Leandro was one of America’s most racist cities. He explored some race issues and stereotypes. It was very enlightening.

Not long after we got home Rachel and her kids arrived. It took longer than we had anticipated to get all our food ready. It was probably after 9 when we started eating. It was a nice visit, though. Rachel’s son, Elijah, was about Jeremy’s age, and her daughter, Veronica, is 15, right in between the girls. They had a great time together. We handed the T-Bird over to Rachel. They ended up staying until after 11pm. And on a school night, too!

I’d say going back to work was almost a relief, but that would be a lie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finally, An Update

This has been quite a month of firsts for people of color. First, on November 2nd Englishman Lewis Hamilton became the youngest world driving champion with his fifth place finish in the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil, and even more notably, F1's first black world champion. On November 4th Barack Obama became America's first black presidentmat. And today, the Seattle Mariners announced they had poached A's bench coach Don Wakamatsu and named him their manager, making him Major League Baseball's first Asian to hold such a position.

Hamilton's got a terrific story. Generally, professional race car drivers come from rich families. It costs an awful lot of money to do it competetively, and it takes a sustained financial effort to keep it going long enough for a driver to reach a professional level. But this is not the case for young Lewis Hamilton. It has been reported that his father had to take multiple jobs to keep his young son's career going and had maxed out all of his credit cards when Lewis was finally picked up by the Mercedes McLaren team. Legend also has it that when Hamilton was ten years old he met F1 big shot Ron Dennis and said to him, "I'm going to drive for you one day". Thirteen years later he won the world championship for a team owned by whom? You guessed it. The same guy. Ron Dennis. Sadly, his story is somewhat marred by numerous reports of racial slurs used against him throughout the season.

The significance of Barack Obama being our first black president cannot be understated. It speaks volumes that maybe, just maybe we as Americans have grown past the point where a person's ethnicity is held against him. The day after election day Whoopi Goldberg said on The View that she had always felt she was American, but now she feels like she can finally set her suitcase down. When I heard that I damn near started to cry.

Personally, I think Obama's going to be a great president. He will bring the country together. He will end the war. He will return America to respectability in the eyes of the world. He has a sense of calm and authority that the office of presidency demands.

And he was born in Hawaii, too!

I don't really know much about Don Wakamatsu. He had an unremarkable minor league career and spend almost zero time in the majors. It's hard to say someone did a good job as bench coach. After all, who really knows what a bench coach does, and how do you measure his degree of success? But I do know that he's from Hayward, the town I grew up in. He was a great high school player. I remember always seeing his name in the prep section when he went to Hayward High. And for many, many years now, Wakamatsu's, a Japanese restaurant, has been a fixture on Foothill Boulevard in Hayward.

Speaking of great high school players, my dad recently gave me a folder with xeroxed copies of newspaper clippings from his high school baseball-playing days. I always knew my dad was a good baseball player in his day. It was quite a treat to read about some of his accomplishments in those clippings.

Over the last five years or so it has been a tradition in my office to adopt a needy family for Christmas. This year's family is very special. It's the family of our friend and former co-worker, Rachel.

Rachel was recently let go by our company. She had been out on disability for a while. Apparently, the company sent a "come back to work within five days or else" letter that she evidently didn't respond to and was subsequently let go. The letter is not a mean-spirited as it sounds. It's actually pretty common for those go out for long periods of disability, and it's very much a procedural thing.

Now, before you say to yourself, "Well, that's her own fault for not staying on top of things", you have to know the rest of it, and it's a lot. Rachel's ex-husband and father of her two kids, was shot and killed, allegedly by his current wife. She was out on disability because of a very painful condition she has in her neck, so she's frequently in pain. Her daughter is diabetic. And if that's not enough, she doesn't even have a car.

Karen and I, along with another co-worker, have been spearheading the effort at work to try and get everyone's donations together. We hope to give her the accumulated donations in time for her to have a reasonable amount of time to shop for Christmas gifts for the now-fatherless children. Our plan is to not tell her that her's is the adopted family and surprise her with the money.

We're having her over for Thanksgiving and what we'd like to do is hand over our spare car for her as a surprise as well. But the car's got bad tags and it's not smoggable yet. Why is it not smoggable? It's because (and what non-mechanic type would ever be expected to know this?) we recently changed the battery and the smog guy told us that when you change the battery it resets the computer and it takes driving it 50-60 miles before the smog computer will get a proper reading.

Karen and I had a plan where last Saturday we were going to go down to DMV, get some temporary tags, and drive the car around for a few days. After which, we'd be able to get our smog out of the way, get new tags, and then have a street legal car to give to her. We didn't count on the state cancelling all Saturdays for all DMV offices. So now I'll be taking my last vacation day tomorrow to get that smog and get down to DMV for those tags. This is probably our last chance to get it legal in time to give to her on Turkey Day. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Feelings on Elections

It’s the day after Election Day. My feelings are mixed. As an American I’m very proud, but as a Californian I’m sad. Yesterday, we, as Americans did something I never thought would happen in my lifetime. We elected a black man as president. Although he won as easily as was predicted there were many Obama supporters in my office that were biting their nails as the poll results began rolling in from East Coast late in the afternoon.

My joy of Obama’s easy win was tempered late in the evening as the anti-gay Proposition 8 was apparently victorious. Up until yesterday it was legal for gay couples to marry here in California. Proposition 8 takes that away. It was not just a setback for the LGBT community. It was a setback for civil rights.

I was disappointed to learn that two my co-workers, both black, supported the ban. They had a different perspective from the typical Prop 8 supporter. They felt that equal rights for gays should not be given priority over the rights of ethnic minorities. To paraphrase them, being gay is a choice, but being black isn’t, and you shouldn’t be given special treatment because you choose to belong to a group that’s subject to prejudice. I was saddened to hear that.

You see, that’s not a logical argument either because it is absolutely illegal to discriminate based upon one’s religious faith and that’s a choice, isn’t it? Although you can be born and raised as a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Hindu, you can always choose to convert. One’s religion is unquestionably a choice.

An important point about this proposition is that gays weren’t asking for the right to marry. They already had it. This takes it away from them. The fact that this proposition singles out one specific group of people, and takes away their right to do anything makes this wrong on GP (general principle) alone. Like the commercial said, just like it was wrong for America to intern Japanese Americans during World War II, prop 8 is unfair and just plain wrong.

We’re off work now and nearing Fry’s. I’m going to look at external hard drives. I’ll update you about the coming and going of my 41st birthday last week on my next post.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prop 8 and Gay Bashers

The start of a busy weekend is close at hand. Gotta get the house all spic & span for Karen's dad and grandma. Would like to do some clean up outside the house, too. We're going to put my old PC monitor, Jeremy's old TV, and the hutch that housed it all on Craig's List, but I want to clean them up and photograph them to put in the ad. They'll be free, too, if anyone wants them. It also looks like Karen's running around trying to do something for my birthday Sunday which I wish she wouldn't do. We may have as many as twelve (!) people for dinner at Chevy's on Saturday.

I bought some flea medication from this dude on eBay over a month ago. I even paid the dude. Nothing. I just sent him another email. I'm really thinking about not dealing with eBay at all anymore. There are just too many untrustworthy sellers. This is what I get for being cheap. The dogs have now gone a month without their flea medicine.

As I drive around town I will see the occasional sign for "McCain Palin" and "Yes on 8", but no "Obama" or "No on 8" sign. Perhaps Martinez is more of a right-wing hillbilly town than I thought. These homophobes that back Prop 8 are too much. OK, so you don't like gay people. How does it affect your life if gays have the right to marry? Does it somehow diminish the value of your heterosexual relationship? I just don't get it. The other day the girls and I drove past these people holding up some homemade "YES ON 8" signs. What kills me that almost all of them looked Hispanic. You'd think that people of color would have more sympathy for people being discriminated against. People at work think it's because many are so religious.

But don't get me started about religion. Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Joel Osteen's sermons. But there is so much hatred in the world that's based in religion if "devotion to God" means hating gays or Jews or just being intolerant then I don't want any part of it.

Acceptance doesn't mean endorsement. Just because I accept others' homosexuality that doesn't mean I wish more people were gay, too. I don't know of any gay person that feels they're gay by choice. Why would anyone CHOOSE to belong to a group of people that are hated by so many?

Enough with Prop 8 already. Leave gays alone. Let them live their lives. To paraphrase Howard Stern, "if gay people want to be as miserable as the rest of us heterosexuals then let them."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Short Wednesday Update

It's Tuesday night about 8:15. I'm on a hella hot BART car that has no air circulation.

I've fallen into the bad habit of starting a post and never finishing so whatever I'm able to tell you here on the train is all I'm gonna worry about writing.

I haven't been posting here or on my dog blog lately. I've just been insanely busy as of late.

They've been offering 4 1/2 hours of overtime almost every day and a full 8 hours OT every Saturday. There's going to be major changes at work starting December 1st. Who knows if overtime is going to be offered at all after that so I feel like I need to get in as much as I can while I can get it.

My birthday's Sunday so Karen's been running around like crazy. Her dad and grandma are coming to visit Saturday so we've been working really hard to get the house in order.

We had to do some major furniture moves. Bryan gave me his old Sony Vega Trinitron TV Monday. It's nine years old but it's still a pretty high end TV. We had to move it from his place in San Mateo over to our house. It's massive. It took quite a lot of effort to get it not only into the house but into its spot in our bedroom. It weighs 250 pounds and it's unbalanced so it took quite a bit of muscle and sweat to get it moved. We had to take out our old 27" and the entertainment center it sat in. They both now sit in Jeremy's room. Now we have to figure out what to do with Jeremy's old crappy TV and the shelf/hutch that it sat in.

I'm also still trying to work in time to walk the dogs. So I've been working 12 1/2 hours every day and when I get home I have to pitch in with the housework, move heavy furniture AND have time for the dogs. I'm so tired by the time I get done I'm too tired to write. I have neither the energy nor the motivation to update my blog. You understand, don't you?

I'm getting off at the next station so I'll have to end this here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Short Post

I think I forgot to mention on my last post what the doctor said about Imani's chest pain. But first I have to tell you how funny it always is whenever I have to take her to see her pediatrician. She really hates getting shots. Like really, really, REALLY hates them. So, of course, she always asks if she's going to get one. And, of course, I always tell her, "Yes, you're absolutely getting a shot, probably 2 or 3 at least." What makes it even better is that the pediatrics section is adjacent to the injection clinic. I really get her going sometimes. Yes, I know I'm a shitty parent. Thank you.

Her doctor diagnosed her as having something called "Costochondritis". Basically, it's inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib cage to the sternum. No special treatment needed. Just over the counter anti-inflammatories like Tylenol and a heating pad for the pain. Because the pain occurs in the chest it's harder to take a deep breath which would explain her shortness of breath. I would guess that since she's never played tennis anywhere in the ballpark as much as she does now she's got what you could define as "tennis chest".

I had a long diatribe about the debate last night along with my soapbox statement about abortion that I typed but apparently failed to save it. My diatribe was not meant to be shared today. It was pretty long. Perhaps today's post was meant to be short. I'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Computer Genius Strikes Again

Guess what the tech wizard did today? I read 3 or 4 different tech magazines every month, look at countless tech websites every day, and listen to some 6-10 hours worth of tech podcasts every week. So, it was I, creator of the Tech Slayer blog, that foolishly destroyed my desktop computer. Even better, I may not be done yet.

Earlier I mentioned having an overheating problem with my desktop PC. Well, I had a few hours to kill today so I had the bright idea of completely dismantling it, cleaning it super duper clean, and putting it back together in hopes of getting the damn thing to work properly again. I got careless trying to reseat the CPU and managed to bend connector pins. And not just one, dozens. Have you ever seen a CPU before? They've got dozens and dozens and dozens of teensy, weensy little pins on the bottom, each one having its own place in the slot. Unbending just ONE of those pins would have taken me forever, let alone the 40 or so I had managed to bend.

The CPU is the brain of any computer. So no brain. No computer. Thanks to me. I guess need to start looking for Uverse.

I wonder how much a new motherboard/CPU combo costs at Fry's

Thanks Mom!

This is my first post typed into my NEW LAPTOP.  Woo hoo!  This is a birthday present from my mom.  She got it for me on Saturday.  It's very nice.  It's a Toshiba, 14" screen.  I wanted to go smaller than the one I had before, the STOLEN one.  That one had a 17" screen.  Although the big screen was nice it was a bit bulky and quite a bit heavier than smaller models.  The processor is an AMD Turion duo-core RM-72.  The RM-72 runs at 2.1 GHz vs. the stolen one that had a duo-core that ran at 1.6 GHz.  It also has 4 GB of RAM, twice the memory of the stolen one.  So it's quite an upgrade.  I did have a problem with it though.  On Monday while watching a DVD I got the dreaded Blue Screen of Death and the screen went blank.  I've seen this problem before.  It's a hardware failure.  So I took it back to Circuit City and exchanged it for another one, same model.  I'm quite pleased.  THANKS MOM!

I was pondering getting another HP.  Mom and Bryan both have HPs and they've served them faithfully.  But I had a few problems with my stolen HP.  Twice the motherboard failed and had to be sent back to the factory.  Then last week on The Tech Guy, a caller was asking Leo, the host, about his opinions on laptops and Leo was adamant about dislike for HP laptops, especially the Pavilion line.  One of the techie guys at work had a pretty low opinion of Pavilions, too, so I decided to stay away this time.  Jess and Karen have had pretty good success with their Toshibas so that swayed me.

Although overtime has returned at work starting tomorrow I'm taking the day off.  Imani has started complaining about having shortness of breath and tightness in her chest so I'm going to try to get Kaiser to squeeze her in tomorrow.

I haven't been blogging as much lately because I got hooked again on Dicing Dangers.  DD is an online multi-player role-playing game, or MMORPG for short.  The popular MMORPG these days is World of Warcraft.  I think they charge $13-15 a month to play.  A few years ago the hot MMORPG was Everquest.  People would get so addicted to this game some referred to it as "Evercrack".  DD is a little different than the latter two.  It's almost all text with a few static pictures.  It doesn't rely on quick reflexes or a powerful computer to run it.  It can be played at a very leisurely pace.  The game lets you set up a free account with two playable characters.  Each character is given about 60-90 minutes of game play per day.  For a small amount of money extra play time can be purchased.  

Players can form clans.  Both my characters belong to a clan known as the "Elite Gonrah Order".   Gonrah is the name of the world this game is set in.  We have actually become a pretty tight knight clan.  There's perhaps 30 of us in the clan.  I'm only one of perhaps two or three Americans in the group.  Most of my other "clannies" are in Europe and Australia.  It's pretty neat.

If you're interested go ahead and create a free account.  Click on this link so the creator knows I referred you.  And be sure to let me know.  We always are very helpful to new players, or noobs.  The only reason I'm blogging right now and not playing is because the game server's down.

By the way, my birthday's Sunday, the 26th.  It's not too late to send me a present!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I believe this is my first blog post in a while. I have so much to talk about that I can never remember once I start typing. Am I the only one afflicted with this mental disease?

Karen and I took the dogs to the Solano Drive-In in Concord to see " Beverly Hills Chihuahua". It was both stupid and cute. It was the number one movie last weekend, and I have no doubt that within a few short months all the local animal shelters will begin to fill with unwanted Chihuahuas. Zoe and Charlie weren't very impressed. They were more interested in all the other people that had brought their Chihuahuas.

Neither one of us had been to a drive-in in many years. The last time I went to one it was in Union City where the overbuilt Union Landing now stands. I forgot how nice it was to just sit back in the comfort of your own vehicle while the movie plays, talk if you want to, light up a smoke, not have to sneak food in. We agreed we'd have to go back again sometime.

The Sharks begin their 2008-09 campaign tonight against Anaheim. What a breath of fresh air considering how bad the A's were over the summer, how bad the Raiders and 49ers are currently, and how bad the Warriors are going to be when the NBA season starts next month.

I was channel surfing last night and caught a portion of a Sharks playoff game against Calgary last season. Of course, I hadn't realized what it was for the first few minutes. I start getting all happy and everything because they're up 5-2, then I see the playoff logo on the ice. Oh, well.

I'm currently dealing with two separate PC headaches. First, my desktop is experiencing a shutdown problem I haven't been able to solve yet. It does a cold shutdown after a minute or two. This is overheating behavior. It's not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, that's how I recognize it as a behavior. So I did what I normally do when I see overheating behavior. I open up the case, clean all the dust out, and fire it back up. But that didn't work this time. So I was playing around with it and discovered that it will stay running in Safe Mode. A tech forum suggested that it could be a driver problem so I just said, "What the hell," and wiped my whole hard drive clean and reloaded a fresh copy of Windows. Usually, unsolvable software problems can be solved by a Windows reinstall, although this is a last resort type of solution. Well, even after doing that it still didn't help. So I'm kind of at wits end. I'm going to do another cleaning, this time much more thorough. I really can't think of anything else.

The other problem I'm dealing with is Asha's laptop. The pin had broken off on the AC adapter and the replacement one was just delivered yesterday. The problem is that I can't get it to boot. When I hit the power button some of the LEDs light up and you can see the backlight of the screen come on but the screen itself stays blank.

Went over Yolanda's last Sunday. Isabel was here on leave. It was nice to see everyone. Isabel seems to be enjoying Navy life. The only problem is that she's apparently committed to her ship for all four years of her term unless she can promote off of it. She's stationed on the USS Bataan. She tells us it's an amphibious ship (!!). It's home port is in Norfolk. And that ain't changing. She said she misses living in California so I hope she'll be able to complete her classes and do whatever she needs to do to get herself moved. She also mentioned wanting to go to Iraq. Yeah, that was a real "what the fuck" moment, but I guess being active military changes your perspective. Let's hope PRESIDENT OBAMA gets our troops the hell out of there before she gets the chance.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Long, Unproductive Week

I have been out sick since Tuesday night. I'm feeling much better now but I was in pretty bad shape for a while there. I actually threw up a couple of times, which is something I almost never do. Perhaps I am oversharing a bit.

We woke up this morning to the news that Contra Costa County deputy DA Michael Gressett has been arrested on a rape charge. A moment of panic washed over us when we heard the news. Gressett has been the prosecutor handling the case against Karen's ex. But after a moment of contemplation I realized that the case Gressett had put together is still solid. It will still be solid when the case is reassigned to another deputy DA. It's ironic that it was Gressett that handled the bulk of the sexual assault cases here in Contra Costa County. I understand he had a reputation of being a good prosecutor that pushed for harsher sentences for sex offenders. Of course, if he is guilty then he deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law, but for his own sake I hope he is innocent.

Imani's tennis team kinda got screwed. The school had arranged for a bus to take them to their away games but it turns out that it would cost the school more than they had anticipated so they had to cancel for the season meaning that the team will need rides to their away matches for the rest of the season. I'm not sure to what extent I'll be able to help. I actually had to bundle up and take Imani and two of her teammates to Campolindo High in Moraga to their match yesterday. To make matters worse for Imani yesterday they put her and her doubles partner against Campolindo's best doubles team and they got beat up pretty good. Dad suggested checking Big 5 for tennis rackets. I'll take her there Sunday.

I watched last night's Vice Presidential debate last night with great enthusiasm. After all those nonsensical answers Sarah Palin had given to Katie Couric I couldn't wait to see how she'd fare against a bulldog like Joe Biden. I now suspect that she may have given those ridiculous answers on purpose. She had effectively lowered the bar so much that they halfway decent performance she gave last night would seem brilliant in contrast.

On the other hand, Biden simply had a no-win situation. Everyone knows it wouldn't have taken much for Biden to smash her if he wanted to. The issue all week long leading up to the debate was how could he defeat her without embarrassing her. How much could Biden reel himself back? I think he did brilliantly well. He kept hammering the point that McCain hasn't made a convincing case that he's going to be any different than Dubya. It was clear that Palin had been trained to use certain catchphrases and responses. Near the end she actually tried stealing Reagan's famous "there you go again" line. It was so scripted. More than once she used a "that was in the past, let's look forward" response that was so weak. That whole "that was then and this is now" answer is the kind that wife beaters and adulterers use. I loved it when Biden shot back that "past is prologue" because it's really true. If you're unwilling to look at the past then you're destined to repeat it.

I thought it was a real telltale moment when Biden choked up for a moment and Palin simply kept rolling. I thought it said a lot about Biden's humanity, about his ability to empathize with the common man. In any case, I thought he hit it out of the park.

A quick word about Paul Newman who died Sunday. I wasn't much of a fan of his movies. The days of his prime were a little before my time so I never really go to know him as Paul Newman, Movie Star. The Paul Newman that I knew was the Paul Newman, the race car team owner, and Paul Newman, purveyor of salad dressing and microwave popcorn. As co-owner of the Newman-Haas IndyCar racing team, he was able to recruit big names like Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, and Michael Andretti. He owned more than one IndyCar championship team and always fielded a competative one. He was a passionate and dedicated auto racing owner, driver, and enthusiast. His name added legitimacy to auto racing and I will always respect him for that. As for the Paul Newman line of food products I know many people who are big fans of his salad dressings and salsas. The labels always said funny things like "fine foods since Februrary" and "so good you'll need a machete to hack off the arms of those that will try to steal this from you". The profits from the "Newman's Own" brand went straight to charity and according to his foundation over $200 million have been given over the years. How can you not respect that? And finally, I've heard that his favorite movie of all he starred in was "Slap Shot", the best hockey movie of all time. Wow. What an incredible person he was. The world was a better place with Paul Newman in it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

About Afghanistan

One big issue impacting the upcoming presidential election and certainly is a major area of concern for we Americans is the war in Iraq. In my opinion we are concentrating too much on Iraq itself and are largely ignoring the importance of Afghanistan. According to what I could find on the internet there are currently some 165,000 soldiers in Iraq while there are approximately 27,000 in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is where the Taliban and Al Qaeda based themselves grew in power before we invaded. They had pretty much run the country.

You see, when the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s the US sent tens of millions to aid the Afghan rebels which, unfortunately, also included the Taliban. Afghanistan more or less became the Soviets' own version of Vietnam and eventually left. But in the aftermath of the Soviet departure the Afghani people were left with a country with no money and no resources. It was ripe for the picking of anyone wanting to claim power there. The Taliban were the ones to fill that power void. The war weary Afghanis were not in any position to put up a fight and unfortunately the US, frankly, didn't care.

This is beginning to happen again. Al Qaeda seem to have regrouped and are growing in power.

I don't think anyone would dispute that there are no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. It does not appear that there was ever a tie-in between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. We have put a democratic government in place there. Said government has told us they want our troops out. The Iraqi people don't want us there. Our presence in Iraq isn't serving to fight terrorism any longer. It's time to hand the country over to the Iraqi people and get the hell out.

Let us turn our attention to Afghanistan. An important thing to know about the Afghani people is that they don't hate us like the Iraqis do. They welcome our presence and protection. Afghanis are Muslims but largely do not hold an anti-American sentiment.

When I used to work for the County I worked with a lot of Afghanis, most of whom came here as refugees during their country's Soviet occupation. And at the risk of sounding racist, based upon my interaction with my Afghani co-workers, I have come to feel that Afghanis are good people, accepting of other views and religions, and just want to get along.

One co-worker I will never forget was an older man named Anwar Sultan. I don't ever remember Anwar getting upset about anything. He took everything in stride. He never had an unkind word to say about anyone. And although he was Muslim he always wished everyone a Merry Christmas during the holidays.

Stomach cancer took his life. I attended his funeral which was held just a day or two after his passing as is Muslim tradition. It was a Muslim ceremony. The men and the women were separated. At one point all the men lined up, took off their shoes, kneeled, put their hands together palms up and recited a Muslim prayer. I tried to follow suit to honor my friend but since I wasn't familiar with the traditions I quietly stepped away after a few short minutes.

I would later tell another Afghani co-worker that I felt a little uncomfortable because of my unfamiliarity, and didn't wish to be disrespectful and end up unwittingly commmit some sort of gaffe, so I thought it would be better if I simply not attempt it. He told me that the Muslims there understood that there were many non-Muslims in attendance and any mistake made during the prayer wouldn't have offended anyone. That said a lot to me about them as a people.

Afghanistan is also where the large portion of the world's poppy seeds are grown. The Taliban have those poppy seeds processed into opium and are able to fund themselves with the heroin that is produced from the opium. The poppy seed farmers have no interest in helping the Taliban but have little choice but to cooperate if no one is there to protect them.

If we fail to protect Afghanistan this time we may be destined to repeat 9/11 again. Barack Obama appears to fully understand this. John McCain does not.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick at the Concord Pavilion

Imani told me she tried out for a play earlier this week and says she missed the callback, which means she didn't make it. This is her first try at it. I'm really hoping she doesn't get discouraged and gives up.

Her drama teacher said she needs to attend at least one organized play per semester, be it a at a high school, amateur, or a big, professional production. I was thinking about "Spring Awakening" but I don't know if the girls would want to. I need to show them the commercial for it. I intended to go by the theatre downtown to see what they were performing while I was out walking the dogs, but it slipped my mind while I was down there. Last time I checked it was, "Evil Dead, the Musical". How bad could it be?

I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I'm off at 5:30, the debate (if McCain doesn't manage to wiggle his way out of it) is at 6, and there's cake and ice cream for Jess tomorrow.

Okay, the Journey concert last night was great! I've gotta tell you about it.

Cheap Trick opened the show. It was great to see the classic lineup together. Robin Zander (vocals), Rick Nielsen (guitar), Bun E. Carlos (drums) and Tom Peterssen (bass). They played all their classics, bringing out Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain to help out on "The Flame" and "Surrender" to end the set. When they came out for their encore they were also joined by Journey drummer Deen Castronovo to help out on vocals as they performed "Dream Police". Robin Zander's voice didn't disappoint. Rick Nielsen's guitar solos were kinda disappointing in that his playing was a little sloppy. I was really looking forward to seeing Nielsen's 5-neck guitar. He mostly played a Les Paul and didn't bring out the 5-neck until the end, but that was good enough for me.

The changeover between sets was much shorter than I had expected and missed the beginning of Heart's set. When I got back they were playing "Magic Man". They also did not disappoint. Ann Wilson is the truly great vocalists in rock history. She was every bit as good as live as she has been on all those classic albums. There aren't many singers I can think of that can sing "Barracuda" with so many high notes with so much power. Nancy Wilson hasn't lost it either. She's older, but still a hottie. Her high-note harmonies with Ann were spot on. She came out with a mandolin and started playing a somewhat muted version of "These Dreams" that slowly built its way up. I had forgotten how much I loved that song. They finished their set with a cover of the Who's "Reign Over Me" which launched into "Barracuda" to end it. For their encore they played a Zeppelin song whose title escapes me and finally ended with "Crazy on You". My only disappointment was that they didn't play "The Dog and the Butterfly".

One of my Facebook friends is my best friend Jennifer's niece, Joy. I saw this morning that she had updated her Facebook with "back from seeing Heart and Journey with Aunt Jena! All of the Philippines showed up, including grandma!" One of the things I can say about the Filipino community here in the Bay Area is that they definitely support their own. When Karen and I went to Las Vegas last year we saw The Society of Seven at Flamingo. They're a group from Hawaii that do a stage show with lots of very good cover songs. One of its new members was a stunningly talented singer named Lani Misalucha, who was born in the Philippines. When I mentioned her at work all my Filipino co-workers knew who she was.

In a similar vein, when I learned of Journey's new Filipino singer, Arnel Pineda, my co-workers knew who he was as well. And just like Joy said the Filipino community was there last night in force to show him support. I'm guessing the sold out crowd was a good 30-40% Filipinos.

Arnel's got a great rags-to-riches story that will bring a tear to your eye. CBS Sunday Morning had a great profile on him. You really find yourself rooting for him, but it isn't charity. He has earned every single word of praise.

Journey started their set with "Never Walk Away", my favorite song from their new album. They didn't miss any of their classic hits. "Stone in Love", "Separate Ways", "Wheel in the Sky", "Open Arms". The entire house sung along with "Don't Stop Believin'". It's corny, but you just couldn't help yourself. When Arnel begins "Lights" with those first few words, "When the lights go down in the City and the sun shines on the Bay," there was just no way you could stop yourself from raising a lighter.

Arnel has been the perfect replacement for Journey's original singer, Steve Perry. He really sounds just like the original. I swear if you close your eyes and just listened you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. It must have been great for Arnel the first time he said to the crowd that it was great to be back home. As far as Journey the band goes they are, of course, from San Francisco so this was a homecoming for them. But for Arnel, he must have known how many Filipinos were there in the crowd. He must have known how many of those cheers were for him and were genuine.

As for me, Journey's guitarist Neal Schon has been one of my all-time favorites. He's a real hero to me. Neal's career on the big stage began when he joined Santana when he was just fifteen years old. He can play blazingly fast and can keep up with any speed demon guitarist you can think of and yet have so much emotion in his phrasing on the slower songs. In my opinion he's one of the most underrated guitarists in rock and roll history. It was an absolute joy to see him play live and in person.

Near the end of your set Arnel introduced the band members one-by-one and they all got the big cheers they deserved but the biggest cheer went to Arnel. I was genuinely happy for him. His performance last night was brilliant. He earned those cheers.

Our age got the best of us and we left after they played "Any Way You Want It". We left as they were playing "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'". We never did get to see what they played for their encore. That was my only real regret of the evening. This was probably the best concert I've attended in 10 years.

Imagine how good it would make you feel to know that Michael Jordan could still split two defenders to make a lay-in, or that Magic Johnson could still deliver a no-look pass, or that Joe Montana could still hit a tight end on a tightrope sideline pass. That was how I felt seeing these three bands. After all these years they all looked and sounded just as good as they did in their prime.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bill Clinton

First off, I keep wanting to mention this but keep forgetting. Mom sent me something in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I noticed my miniature poodle owning-mom has a Pit Bull on her return label. Way to go, Mom!

Karen & I have the day off today. We're going to see Journey tonight at the Concord Pavilion. We really didn't need the whole day off, but it's a nice break and a chance to get a few things done. I'm going to walk the dogs in a little bit then give them both baths afterwards. They haven't been bathed in a couple of weeks. Zoe really needs it because I just reordered some more Advantage off of eBay and I expect to have it soon. And since you're not supposed to bathe a dogs 3 days before or after applying a treatment I should do it today.

I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night and Bill Clinton came on as a guest. Jon was asking him about the $700 billion bailout and Clinton gave the most sensible, articulate responses. He also made a lot of sense with his opinions about the upcoming election. The whole segment really made me miss Clinton as president. I cannot fathom George Dubya Bush answering those same questions with anything in the ballpark of the logic of Clinton's last night. You can watch the segment below.

It is so critical to get Obama into the White House. We've just got to get the Republicans out of there. Remember how much better off the country was when Clinton was running the show? Think about this, what was the biggest controversy surrounding the President during the Clinton administration? Whether or not he got a blowjob from an intern! The economy was booming. There was a budget surplus. No war. The dot com boom.

Now think about what has happened during Dubya's watch. 9/11. War. Gas prices soaring. Unions weaker than ever. The inability to handle the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Dubya apologists can say all they want about Dubya inheriting a mess from Clinton but you know that's all bullshit and so do they. It happened on his watch. And that's the bottom line. Does anyone excuse LBJ for Vietnam because he inherited it from JFK? No. Why? Because it happened on his watch.

Wouldn't it be great if the worst thing that happened during the Dubya years is that he got a goddamn blowjob? If that was the worst thing that happened on Dubya's watch I'd be signing petitions to have an amendment made to allow him a third term. But instead, we got what we got.

I discovered that speeches from this year's Democratic Convention were available on iTunes. I downloaded speeches from Obama, Biden, Clinton, Hillary, and Michelle Obama. I also found Obama's address to the 2004 Democratic Convention, from when no one knew who he was. It was absolutely inspiring. I actually found myself welling up during some of them.

I'm gonna go walk the dogs now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog Walking

Charlie got his first long walk today. Along with Zoe we only walked about a mile down Pacheco Boulevard and back. It's nothing special for Zoe. We've walked that route dozens of times before, but it was a brand new experience for Charlie. It was all new sights and sounds and smells for him and he met his new experiences like he meets everything else, with boundless, unafraid, not-a-care-in-the-world joy.

Most of Zoe's walks have just been the two of us. I have come to believe that our walks have really served as bonding experiences. I think that's why Zoe closest to me. I think the three of us walking together will be a really great chance to solidify our bonds.

I will always carry some measure of guilt for getting Charlie from a backyard breeder, something I now feel is borderline evil, I will never regret adopting him into our family. His pure innocence, his fearlessness, and his genuine zest for simply being alive served as a reservoir of renewed spirits for me. I sure hope that part of him never changes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Night Ramble

This post begins on BART, just out of the tunnel approaching the Orinda station. It’s been a long week. Today caps off a week’s worth of overtime.

There are a few people on the train wearing A’s gear. They played the Angels today. I have no idea who won, but willing to lay odds 2-to-1 that they lost. It’s been a long season for my beloved Athletics. I haven’t been to an A’s game in two seasons, none at all this year.
I suppose that in the eyes of some that would make me a fair weather fan. After all, a REAL fan would show up to support the team no matter how bad they are, right? Well, no. I’m sorry, I have to disagree.

More than all of the teams I love, including the 49ers, Sharks, and Warriors, it is the A’s I love the most. I love them so much that it hurts me deeply to see them lose. I know how bad the A’s are this year. I know how much I would be hurt to actually see them lose in person. I simply cannot subject myself to it. In fact, I say that the people who are showing up this year couldn’t love the A’s as much as I do because, obviously, it must not hurt them as much as it does me.

In my bag is a voter registration form all filled out. I just have to put it in the mailbox. So politicians take heed I will be A REGISTERED VOTER. I’m glad the kids care so much about the upcoming election. Imani’s been bugging me about getting myself registered. I don’t know if I’ve felt this passionate about the presidential election since the first one I was old enough to vote in. That was 1988, when Bush, Sr. beat out Michael Dukakis.

I still don’t regret voting for Dukakis. I thought he had the more thoughtful and logical answers during the debates. Jesus, this country cannot take another four years of a conservative in the White House, but can America really vote a black man into the presidency. Sadly, I don’t have that much faith in this country.

I’ve done a little networking through my dog blogging and Twitter. I’ve become friendly with this nice lady in South Dakota named Jennifer that volunteers at a local animal shelter, is a wife and mom, solely maintains her own very good-looking blog, and has shown me a thing or three about tech.
Last week she wrote a story about…hold on. Here’s my stop. I’ll pick this up when I get home.

Okay, I’m home now. I DID IT. I put my voter registration form in the mail.

Back to my story. Jennifer posted a story that’s really heartbreaking. It was about a Lab/Pit mix that had spent his entire life outside at the end of a short chain until some sick fucks decided to beat him down and leave him for dead. She posted a couple of videos on YouTube showing him with his front leg in a cast whimpering. AND HIS NAME IS CHARLIE, same as my adorable little pup.
She and others decided to turn his suffering into a rallying point for a great cause. They’re raising money in his name to provide subscriptions to local school kids for a youth-oriented periodical from the Humane Society (more about THEM later). I really love that idea the suffering that poor dog has suffered is going to serve a greater good.

On payday I decided to chip in a few bucks, but I didn’t want it to be from me. I wanted it to be from Zoe and Charlie so I wrote a silly note in their names and Jennifer decided to put it in her blog. Karen was so tickled with Jennifer’s post she’s talking about donating some more money.

Please take a look at her blog. It’s called “In the Shelter of Your Heart”. It’s very professional looking, complete with ads, nice looking layouts, the whole nine yards. This was also one of the blogs that inspired me to set higher goals for my own blogs. Although sometimes I feel like maybe I’ve bitten off a little more than I can chew.

I read a lot of dog abuse stories to comment about in my dog blog and I’ve gotta tell you, it gets depressing sometimes. There was a guy in Redwood City that kicked a Chihuahua to death, these asshole hunters that shot a little 4 month old Jack Russell puppy in the head, another woman being charged with throwing puppies down an outhouse. There are times that I just don’t want to hear about it, but now I feel this weight upon me. I just can’t read these horrible things without speaking out.
I’m gonna go work on my tech blog now. See ya.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Calgon Take Me Away

Today was a trying day. Rude customers, inconsiderate co-workers, and kids with attitudes. I won't get into it.

Surprise, surprise, Imani had her first tennis match today. She lost but didn't get killed. She'll only get better. I noticed she was wearing her Pastry Kicks (the line of shoes put out by the nieces of mogul Russell Simmons). I need to get her shoes made for tennis.

Greg Kiyoi put up a video on YouTube of Arvie Carrington's performance of our Senior Show in 1985. I didn't even realize anyone was taping it. Thanks, Greg!

While a subject involving YouTube check out Tina Fey as Sara Palin on last Saturday's Saturday Night Live. Her performance speaks for itself.

I was at Wal-Mart today and saw something I couldn't resist. It was a paperback version of Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" sitting next to "You Can Run But You Can't Hide" by "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman. I bought them both.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday was a bad day for Karen and Imani.

Karen had to take her mom around to different doctors yesterday. Bernie's condition is worsening on a few different fronts. Karen says that sometimes Bernie is catatonic. Her mouth just hangs open and she has this blank stare. Also, Bernie has become very unstable on her feet. She falls frequently. The other night she fell and hit her head requiring six stitches. To make things worse she can only go to County General for emergency. She doesn't have any other option. And apparently the wait in the County emergency room is just as bad as it sounds.

Karen also has a hard time being around her mom a lot. The Alzheimer's combined with the dementia often times leaves her very spaced out. Sometimes it's like dealing with a small child. It really stresses her out. I don't know how I could ever deal with it if my mom had an illness like that.
Karen had to run Bernie around between appointments yesterday. It just so happened that she had enough time to pick up the girls from school before rushing off to another appointment.

On Sunday when I went to the movies with Imani I was asking about when her tennis matches would be scheduled. She told me she didn't know. As it turns out she was told during her last period in school that their first match would be that day. She needed to go home and get her uniform but Karen didn't have time to run her home and back to the school if she was going to make her appointment on time, an appointment that she wouldn't have a chance to reschedule for anytime soon.

So, in the end we've ended up with Imani missing her first match, and Karen feeling extra guilt about it on top of the stress of dealing with her mother. Just a no-win situation...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Random Goodness

Update on the dogs: Charlie was apparently given those kind of stitches that dissolve on their own. He was never told to come back to have them removed. I took him for his first walk this past Sunday. Imani and I went to go the "The House Bunny", which was pretty stupid. Karen picked us up with the dogs in tow. I had her drop us off about a mile from the house and Imani, Zoe, Charlie, and I walked the rest of the way. Charlie did pretty well. He doesn't copy this thing that Zoe does. If she's not ready to move on she digs in her feet. I won't have many opportunities to walk them this week. We've got overtime at work from 7a-8p. I plan to work as much of it as I can except for Thursday. The girls have Back-to-School night then.

My co-worker Elton has finally released his album. It's like dance club music. It's actually pretty good. He goes by the moniker L10 (get it? Elton, L10?). His single, "music's got u
," is currently in rotation on Sirius (satellite radio) Channel 36, the beat. Look at his website.

I was told that Imani tried out for the water polo team and didn't make the cut. But the truth is that the team had already been set by the time she looked into it. I told her that water polo was really hard. In addition to passing the ball around, trying to score goals, and defending, those guys have to wade the entire time they're playing. Their feef aren't allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. You have to be in very good shape just to be able to play. I think she's happier with tennis anyway. She tells me that she and Asha both plan on going out for the swim team.

Bryan left with Mom & Bob Saturday on
a motorhoming road trip that will take them through Boise and Yellowstone Park ending at Mt. Rushmore. It's a two week trip. I wish I had the time to go myself. They plan on returning on the 25th. Karen & I were holding out an extra ticket for him for the Journey concert on the 24th at the Concord Pavilion.

Others were asking about that extra ticket but we both agreed Rob deserved it the most. He's the most familiar with all three bands playing that night. Heart and Cheap Trick are on the bill as well.

I'm in two fantasy football leagues. So far I'm 0-2 in both leagues. The league I consider more important is the CBS Sportsline league. Will helped me with all my picks. He had me pick up Braylon Edwards and Derek Anderson from the Browns. Will sold me on the fact that if Edwards has a good game then Anderson would have a good game, too, and that would be major points. Well the both burned me last Sunday. Anderson threw for only 166 yards, no TDs, and 2 picks. Edwards had 32 total receiving yards and no TDs. Ugh, it's going to be a long season.

Using Digg I discovered the "Kid Tech Guru". His real name is Xavier Lur. He's a 14-year old from Singapore. This kid has such a great techie website of his own I was inspired to start doing my own site again. I wasn't exactly unhappy with Jon's Tech Central but the way I was doing it was too much work. I am actually pleased with the work I did but there was so much that I was doing the wrong way I didn't want to resurrect it. I wanted to start over from scratch. Thus The Tech Slayer was born.

I try to inject a little humor in it. I take the persona of some kind of superhero of geekdom, very full of myself, speaking about myself in the third person. The premise is that the things that stump novice PC users are evil supervillians and I am the knowledgeable-about-PCs hero that saves these innocents like I'm frickin' Superman or something. This is on top of doing this blog and my spin-off dog blog. It's a lot of work but not as much as before. Not even close.

Gotta go now. I need to work on my dog blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review of my week 9/7/08-9/12/08

Imani has decided to join the tennis team. I’m concerned that this may be a distraction from her schoolwork, but I’m hopeful that this will help drive her school spirit. This kind of took me by surprise. She never really seemed to have an interest in tennis before. She doesn’t even have her own racket yet. Obviously, I’ll need to get her one soon. Tomorrow she and her teammates are having a car wash at Hagin’s Automotive on Alhambra in Martinez to raise money for uniforms. I wish I could help but I’ll be working overtime tomorrow.

Isabel is currently in Texas performing her duties as part of the Navy’s relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Gustav and now Hurricane Ike. I’m very proud of her.

One week ago today Charlie got his little nuts removed. The vet put this plastic cone around his neck so he couldn’t mess with his stitches. He really hated it. He would just lay there on his side with his little forepaws pushing up against the cone and whimpering. I really felt bad for him. The cone’s off now and it doesn’t look like being nutless has lessened his spirit any. In fact, I caught him trying to hump Zoe earlier this week. That little guy’s got a really LONG penis! I know, eeeww! I am glad it’s done though. I’m glad that neither of my dogs are capable of breeding.

Matt Dorado got a real snowball started. He sent out an group email to all the Tennyson class of 1985. He said that he had heard that Arvie Carrington had died and did anyone know anything about it. I looked up Arvie’s name (her full first name was Arvanola) on Google and discovered a news report from May of last year that she did indeed die in a car crash.

I threw out a suggestion that perhaps we could pool some money and make a group donation to some charity in her name. The ensuing discussion then evolved into an idea of setting up a scholarship fund for a Tennyson student. It would be one hell of a big undertaking but it would be a great legacy to leave on behalf of our old classmates that have since passed away. Amber Love counted eight, eight of our class that have died.

It would have been a stretch to say Arvie and I were friends in high school, but I certainly don’t have any bad memories of her. In fact, as far as I can remember, she was always nice to me.

There’s one memory of Arvie from high school that I will never forget. It was toward the end of our Senior year. It was the Senior show. Arvie sang a solo, but I don’t remember what the song was. I was working the sound board with Shawn Forsythe. Halfway through the song her mike went out. Shawn and I tried our best to get everything working again, but Arvie could do is just stand there in the middle of the stage all by herself, basically stuck, more or less. People in the audience started to yell at her to just sing anyway, without any amplification. And so she did. She finished the song carried by the power of her voice alone. She got a really huge ovation when she was done. She was really wonderful. I didn’t even know she could sing.

It’s really sad knowing her life came to an end so soon. Tina (Snowden) Chaney also told me that another classmate, Regina Works, also had died in a car crash, and it happened in front of her kids, too. I’ll be glad when we’re able to do something nice to honor their memories.

I launched my dog website on Monday. So far, I’m satisfied with it. But I know it has potential to be much more.

I also decided to start a new techie blog. I’ve just launched it already. It’s called The Tech Slayer.