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Dec. 22nd, 2008

Floating

A Month of Insanity, a Month of Joy and Wonder

As you can tell, I’ve been away from this journal for a while now. It’s been quite a crazy month and I hope those of you who actually read this (and I know there aren’t many) can forgive my absence. The last month of wedding preparation was insane, to say the least, and I never had time to write a word that didn’t involve ceremony timelines, seating charts, or wedding vows. Needless to say, being so close to all the planning and preparation, I noticed every flaw in the day’s events, but I seem to have been the only one. In that, I feel great relief and satisfaction.

 

W loved the whole day, which really is enough for me, but I also have heard good responses from everyone I’ve had a chance to speak with who attended. These aren’t your polite kinds of words mind you, but heart felt joy that one can see on their faces. Everyone tells me how much they loved the food (a 10 course Chinese banquet), how the ceremony was just the right length (15 minutes), and how elegant everything was. All the hard work paid off and I don’t regret any of it. And while we dealt with freeway closures and the threat of rain (both of which preventing some attendees from reaching the events on time), we haven’t really heard too many complaints.

 

In the week since, I had a chance to decompress with my new bride as we headed up to Washington State to spend a few days in a cabin near Mount Baker, then tour Seattle. I’ve never been to that part of Washington before and of course they would end up having the coldest stretch of winter weather in something like 30 years the whole time we were there. I don’t think it ever got above 25 degrees on any given day and it snowed just about the whole time, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. It’s a beautiful part of the country, filled with the deepest woods I’ve ever seen, amazing mountain vistas, and gorgeous cityscapes that provide views of a very cold looking Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed great food, beautiful art, and the touristy traps you might expect. I also think I had more hot beverages in the week we were there than in the 5 years prior to the trip. It was necessary to keep warm. I wouldn’t trade any of it in for the world. Freezing to death is far better than even the best day at work…

 

I’ll try to post some photos this evening.


Nov. 16th, 2008

The Dark Side

Evacuated

This is by far the most interesting birthday weekend I’ve ever had.

Friday I began my final year before turning 40. As usual, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but you know how it goes. Everyone else wants to make a big deal out of it.

I played a rough softball game that night. We lost by 5 and I must have run around in the outfield as much as I would normally in the course of 3 games. I was dead tired and it was of course a late game 

I attended the HomeWalk early on Saturday morning near Down Town LA as planned and right away I could tell it was going to be a long day. My legs were sore from the game and lack of sleep, and the Plantar Fasciitis I’ve been struggling with for months was really acting up. I finally started to warm up near the end of the walk, but it was a lot more difficult than I would have expected. I’m in reasonably good shape, play a lot of sports, walk a lot, cycle, run, etc. But a 3.5 mile charity walk kicked my ass. I was feeling my age. 

On our way home from LA we noticed the smoke. The weather was very hot and dry, with gusts of wind in some places up to 50mph. We heard about the Sylmar fire, in the northern part of LA County, that morning, but as we were doing the walk a large fire broke out in the community of Corona, on the border of Orange County and San Bernardino County just to the south east of my community of Chino Hills. We both felt a sense of dread when we saw the smoke from 30 miles out and it was with good reason.

During the day the fire spread west through the communities of Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills. Close to 200 homes and commercial buildings were over run by flame and people we know well were evacuated. I used to live in Yorba Linda and watched on TV as the apartment building I lived in caught on fire. As the fire pushed north through the hills above Yorba Linda, W and understood the implications immediately.

Just to the north is Chino Hills State Park. It’s 31 square miles of rolling grass-covered hills, campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, and great scenery. I know this because I ride it just about every weekend. It’s where I took W hiking the morning I asked her to marry me. You see I live 1 block north on the border of Chino Hills State Park. During the summer to late fall months it turns brown like all the other hills up and down our state (which give us the name “The Golden State”).

I’ve lived here almost 5 years and have never seen the park burn. That all changed yesterday. At about 4:30pm I walked out into my back yard to let Jesse out and get a break from the fire coverage on TV and snapped this shot with my phone (not bad for a camera phone):

 

I immediately walked back in and told W we needed to start thinking about what I should pack up in case they evacuate us. Within a couple of hours, we had both our cars full of everything from family photos that are close to 100 years old, to golf clubs and mountain bikes. I even had W’s surfboard crammed in the Montero along with all my insurance docs and cameras.

At about 8:30pm I walked out back and snapped this photo:



At 11:30, after spending most of the day glued to the news coverage, I passed out in front of the TV and came to around 3:30 am. The news was still on and W was asleep in the other room at the computer where she’d been checking the interactive map and other news sources. They were reporting that Carbon Canyon was being evacuated. It’s a small community about 3 miles west of me, separating Chino Hills from Brea. I walked out the front of my house and saw the orange glow I noticed earlier, except that time it stretched as far as my eye could see. It was close. My neighbors were all awake and staring at the hills in awe, not really believing what they were seeing.

45 minutes later, after checking the news again and getting sucked up in the coverage, I crept back out to find that the orange glow had changed to flames. The fire crested the hill and was coming down toward us.

In about a minute flat, I woke W, grabbed up the last of my stuff, and loaded Jesse in the car. While I strapped the last bike on the back and W made sure the house was locked up, a neighbor down the street who works in LA for the LAPD confirmed that our neighborhood was on mandatory evacuation notice since 4:00am. Before you could say “Fire Truck”, we were on the road to W’s house in Yucaipa.

The next two shots were taken as I monitored the situation from her place, fading in and out of consciousness due to lack of sleep. The first photo is of Jesse watching me view the map. The red area shows the parts of Chino Hills and the State Park affected by the fire. My house is in that zone in the upper half. The second photo was of the posting Chino Hills had on their web site about the main street to get to my house being closed due to the fire.

 

 

Jesse and I are back home now. The evac was lifted at about 4pm this afternoon. When everything was said and done, the fire was extinguished the equivalent of two blocks away. If the wind hadn’t died down near daybreak, many of us might have lost our homes. We were lucky, but a lot of other people in So Cal haven’t been so lucky.

Keep them in your thoughts. It’s going to be one of the worst firestorms in state history. 

Nov. 14th, 2008

Crazy

Walking to End Homelessness and MIA

 

What a week. I’ve been MIA lately thanks to several interesting events and occurrences.

 

First, I was down in San Diego the beginning of this week attending the IACP conference for work. IACP stands for “International Association of Chiefs of Police”. In other words, I was swimming in popo for 2 days. All in all it was extremely boring, but Monday night I attended an event in Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) with free food and beer, a live band, batting and pitching cages, and complete access to the field. Stood on home plate and kneeled to run my hand through the amazing rich, thick outfield grass. For any baseball fan, it’s a thing of beauty and Petco is an amazing park. It’s only a few years old and they did a great job of incorporating the Gas Lamp district feel to the place (it’s only a block away). I still need to get down there to watch a game one of these days.

 

Wednesday I worked from home, but ended up dealing with so many things that I never got much online time. Between wedding plans, which have swung into high gear, and playing catch up thanks to missing two days in the office, I ended up dealing with a whole week of craziness.

 

At any rate, softball has been a bust all week. Transformer blew out on the field last Friday night so there are still no lights to play under. I’ve been calling to see if they’re back up and running yet, but no luck getting in touch with anyone so far. Later I’ll either be playing a 9:15 game, or spending time with W on my birthday…

 

Oh yes, today’s my birthday. No big deal really. Just another day.

 

Tomorrow I’ll be walking in the 2nd Annual HomeWalk LA. It’s a charity event to help end homelessness by moving people off the streets and into permanent housing where they can get additional assistance in turning their lives around. If you are interested in donating to the cause, feel free to visit: http://homewalkla.kintera.org/daveleary

 

I committed to doing this months ago, and it’s one of the annual charity events I make it a habit of going to, however I’ll also be thinking about everyone who will be attending the various Anti Prop Hate(8) rally’s around the world at the same time. I’d love to be joining them as well, but since human cloning is still “unethical”, I’ll only be with them all in spirit. Fight on!!

Nov. 6th, 2008

Use the Force

Lost in Geekery

 Must see....

screenrant.com/fanboys-trailer-poster-rob-4142/




Nov. 5th, 2008

I Want to Believe

A Brand New Day


We have a new president. We have our first African-American president.

 

It was a night of firsts really. But while everyone made the case that Obama is African-American and won for African-Americans, what keeps getting lost in the news is the real importance of this momentous election. We have our first mixed race president. A president who is not only African-American but who is also Caucasian. A man who is the epitome of unity. A man who spits in the face of racists on both sides with his mere presence. A man who won a large portion of the white vote, and the Latin vote, and the Asian vote, which he needed in order to win.

 

He is everyone’s candidate. And he won because the clear majority wanted it to happen. It wasn’t a close vote for a reason. The people spoke out loudly that they wanted change…but maybe not exactly the change the media points out. They wanted a shift in the way the US is viewed by the rest of the world. They wanted to feel good about their nation once again. They wanted to see someone who seems to genuinely care about them and the values they uphold lead the nation into the next century. The 20th century is now officially over and we move boldly into the 21st.

 

The Republican Party has a long way to go to heal them selves. It may take decades before they are able to make a real run at the presidency again, thanks to W and his "good old boy" attitude. That is if Obama follows through with his promises and message of hope and change. If he turns out to be like every other politician, then all bets are off. The cynic in me chooses to wait before getting excited about much where politicians are concerned.

 

I ended up voting for him, but I had to look at it the way I view every presidential election. I went with what I felt was the lesser of two evils and I didn’t make my decision until about a week ago. I consider myself a hard line moderate and the extremes bother me at my core. I've never taken a person's gender or race into account when making my decision, always focusing more on their politics and track record. I started out leaning toward McCain until he picked a complete bible thumping maniac for a running mate. The news media has been stating that Palin turned off a lot of McCain’s moderate base, which he needed to win the election. Well let me be the first to confirm that report.

 

So Obama has his chance to make something better out of the mess we’re in. He has the opportunity to help shift the country back toward a more centric ideal, away from some of the far right nonsense. He will be tested and it will not be easy, even though his party is in complete control of the house and the senate. It won't be an overnight or rapid change, because governemnt is inherently slow. He will face major challenges, not the least of which will be those who still hate and won't ever accept a non-white president. That might end up being his biggest challenge of all and it’s a dangerous one to have.

 

But there is finally a shift in ideals that led to this historic change. My grandfather’s generation has left the voting pool (he was one of those types that would never vote for a black man for any reason and if he was still alive would probably have keeled over dead during McCain’s speech last night) and now the younger generation, who has been raised with a more open mind, is making their voice heard. It is a beautiful thing, but we aren’t at a point as a society where the hate is completely gone. It will be interesting to see what the next few years will bring. Can Obama really unite the country and help strip away all the hate mongering, both white and black? Only time will tell.

 

We are all humans after all, no matter what our skin color or background. So what is really going to matter when everything is said and done is what Obama did as a man, not his race which he had no control over. What none of us have any control over. The one thing about us all that should have little to no bearing on our daily lives.

 

Go out and smile at everyone today, no matter what race or social status they might be. It’s a brand new day…

Nov. 1st, 2008

Liar!

Halloween Photos

 As promised, a few photos from yesterday's Halloween activities:

Dr. House is in Da House:



A full frontal shot:



With W:



House meets Harriet Potter:


Oct. 31st, 2008

Doh!

Favorite Day of the Year


Ah, Halloween. Something in the air sets this day off from any other for me. It’s a day of being someone else, watching everyone embrace the macabre, and all around good times! Riding the train as Dr. House has so far been uneventful. I’m not sure many people realize what I am, but then I don’t have my jacket on right now and I’m not walking with the cane, so it’s a bit disjointed. However, there are others like me on the train: Crazy enough to dress up and ride the rails to work on Halloween. Bless us all!

 

A full on engineering nerd is riding in my car. This guy is a regular rider and he went all out, finding a 1970’s plaid suit complete with suspenders, pencil protector (loaded with a full complement of geek utensils) and classic thick black glasses with tape wrapping the bridge. He’s been receiving lots of smiles and comments.

 

There’s a woman dressed in a dark wizard robe, who I think is an actual witch in real life. A Wiccan I’m guessing. She’s rocking the robe, which makes me think she wears it often, say for the solstices. Fascinating.

 

Then there was the brief appearance of Slash from GNR/Velvet Revolver. I didn’t realize he had put on so much weight though. Must be all that party action. His manager should get on that.  

 

Should be an interesting day. I’ll try to check back in later with an update and promise to post photos over the weekend.

Oct. 30th, 2008

Softball

Spellbound

Yea for dark, moody, gothy Halloween music! It feels oh so good.

I have no idea of exactly what point my Wednesday night softball team started to turn it around, but the last three weeks we’ve managed to win our games. The key is that we’re defending much better. For instance, last night we had no errors and never once let a ball get past us in the outfield. Doing those kinds of things can easily save 8 to 10 runs a game and have been keeping us competitive with our opponents. I can only guess that it started the week before the streak began, as our confidence level increased. We did some good things in that game, even though we lost, and our new players are starting to find their roles. Now the momentum is carrying us and our confidence is growing to the point where next week I’m sure we’ll continue playing well. We’ll believe we can…

 

Of course, after each game we’ve been hearing the grumbles of players on the other side who feel they got beat by a much weaker team, which could be the case, but it’s rude as hell to state such, purposefully in ear shot of the team their talking about. Sad.

 

Two days of growth going. By tomorrow I should have a decent enough forest of stubble on my face to match Dr. House. I’ve been brainstorming how to do my hair right, mussed up like I just rolled out of bed, without actually having just rolled out of bed. I want to at least start my day clean…I need to do some tests this evening.

 

Speaking of this evening, I also want to try and grab a pumpkin and do a quick Jack. Just something to bring a bit more festivity to my entryway than the green porch light I installed over the weekend. Maybe if I get all this done tonight, I’ll have sufficient bags under my eyes tomorrow for my costume…

Oct. 28th, 2008

Doh!

The Insomniac


I’m going to milk Halloween week for all it’s worth! I’ve been listening to my “Goth” play list this week and loving every minute of it. The one thing I am bummed about though is that I didn’t have time to carve a pumpkin this year. Maybe I can figure something out Thursday night…

 

Tomorrow I’ll refrain from shaving so that I have the proper “House” stubble for Friday. I have to wear it to work, and if I’m the only one in costume I’ll be pissed, but at least I’ll be ready for the candy hand out later that night. It will also give me the chance to perfect everything for the party on Saturday where I’ll dawn it again. I will of course make sure plenty of photos are taken.

 

I have no idea how it is that I’m awake and alert this morning. I couldn’t sleep at all last night (managed at most, 3 hours). I’m expecting a big crash later this afternoon, with hopefully an early turn in tonight followed by much needed catch up snoozing. I really hope it works out that way. Of course, I also have several eBay auctions ending this afternoon so I might have to spend time tonight packing things up for shipping. Burning candles at both ends…

 

Money…sleep. Sleep…money. Damn, so hard to weigh.

Oct. 27th, 2008

Evil Smirk of Evilness

Undead Journal


Ah, Halloween week. Have I mentioned that it’s still by far my favorite holiday? If I had more time I would have put together a spooky or gory costume, but since I didn’t I am going as the scariest thing I could throw together in a short amount of time. Dr. House! Sweet. Picked up a bunch of Tic-Tacs last night to fill my pill bottle with...I'll have the freshest breath of anyone at that party Saturday night...

 

I really dig the Live Journal title page with the “Undead” moniker. Those are the kinds of things that make the holiday so special for me…it’s the one time that other people express the kinds of things that are going through my head all year round. Morbid is beautiful.

 

Speaking of morbid, the novel is coming along well. About to start on chapter 3 later this evening. And speaking of vampires, I just paid my property tax bill. Couldn’t they just take it in blood instead? Damn…

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