Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all...There's a lot of people we wish we could see this Christmas, but we hope your holiday is full of joy, peace, and contentment. (Even if you don't get to be with US...I know that truly is a great loss for you.) To the left you can see how far our tree has come since my last post. Actually, it's pretty much dead now, but that's what you get when you cut a tree down and stick it in your house for a month. It looks pretty anyway. Jess and I have officially declared tonight (Saturday) to be our own Private Christmas Eve. Tomorrow we will have our own Private Christmas Morning, and then head up to Big Bear where Mom and Bill and Grandma and Grandpa are waiting for us at a cabin they rented for the week. It just dumped snow up there, so hopefully it sticks around. We'll do some sledding, relax with hot beverages by a real wood fire, and thus it will presumably feel like a "real" Christmas this year - something we are both looking forward to. Due to Christmas on a Tuesday and the generosity of my boss, I get a four day weekend (Sat - Tues) - and due forces unknown and unexpected, Jess actually gets four days off as well (Sun - Wed). So I'll probably actually just take an extra day off, and we'll stay up there until Wednesday. No need to rush into a 3 hr drive down a snowy mountain after eating a big Christmas dinner - that's what I always say at least. Well, as I said earlier, we hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your respective families and friends....And God bless us, every one.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

And so it begins...

The holiday's are upon us. Resistance is futile, there is no escape... And surprisingly, (shocking in fact, even to myself) I find that as the mad holiday season prematurely descends upon us, I am almost...well...enjoying it? For one who is most often characterized as a humbug or a scrooge, this strange feeling of pleasure is quite different. Frankly, it's odd enough to internalize it, much less act upon it. But yet I already find myself willingly partaking in holiday activities. The day after Thanksgiving, my crazy wife went out shopping before the first of her two shifts at work. And in between her shifts, guess what? More shopping. And I offered to join her. The next day, she had a rare Saturday off, and I had the itinerary ready to make the most of it. My mom joined us, we had lunch, and then went shopping all afternoon - I even braved Michael's to help her pick up ornament-making supplies. Later at night we went and picked up a tree, then I sipped egg nog while we watched a movie and did some present wrapping. Now mind you, Jess would have done all that with or without me, but the point is I volunteered to join her. I planned half of the activities, for goodness sakes! And dang it, I had a good time!!! I remember being told that I would start to enjoy Christmas again when I had kids of my own to enjoy it with. Of course, kids are a little ways off yet, but apparently the same principle applies to my wife. As the complete opposite of me in almost every way, she doesn't have an ounce of scrooge in her. She loves every minute of the Christmas season, and I suspect she enjoys it even more than most children do. So since making her happy makes me happy, it would seem that I must come to terms with my new appreciative nature for the holidays.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Random Thoughts, Infinite Sadness, and Air Travel

Well, the fires here are dying out, and things are getting back to normal. We saw Air Force One fly by the office last Thursday when Bush was touring the area. That was pretty cool. Things are busy at work...we are still wrapping up a big remodel and getting ready for all sorts of year end rush projects. I have my own (smallwindowless) office now, so that's cool too. I was somewhat bummed to see the BoSox sweep the World Series...I was mildly hoping that the Rockies would take it. I would have at least liked to see a close series. Oh well, guess I'll just have to wait for the Mariners to make it next October. The real sadness that has befallen me lately however is due to my sister and bro in law. In what seemed like a hasty decision to outside eyes, they announced they were packing it up and moving back to Idaho in two weeks. Two weeks. Can you believe it? I was shocked and dismayed. That pretty much reduces my social circle by approximately 50%. (I suppose I should do something about that...) They knew they wanted to move back, and they just decided it would be better to do it now - before Brady invested alot of time and money into his photography business down here and then had to cut ties later. So they're going to stay in my Grandparent's house for a few months (Gma and Gpa are down here for the winter) and then I'm sure they will find a nice, newer house that's five times the size of our apartment for about half as much...*sigh*...nothing like that North Idaho Cost of Living. The only upside of the situation for me is that Jess and I are going to help drive them up there (gotta love roadtrips) and I should have at least one day in CDA to see some friends before I fly back. We're leaving on the 10th and should get up there late on the 11th. Jess is staying through the end of that week with her parents, so she's happy about that. I think we snagged the last of the cheap flights before the holiday weekend. I'm telling you, ExpressJet is the bomb diggity. Non-stop Spokane to San Diego - flight time under 2.5 hours - with taxes and fees...$80. Freaking crazy. Everyone in the Pacific NW needs to come visit me. Everybody.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Is Burning

Unless you live in a cave with Osama, I'm sure you've heard about the So Cal wildfires going on. We got home from Israel safe and sound Saturday night (It was an incredible trip - I'll post more on that with pics later) and Sunday morning we noticed the smoke. Then things got pretty crazy down here. The San Diego fires have already collectively burned over 300,000 acres. Somewhere around 1,200 homes have been destroyed, along with hundreds of commercial buildings. Hundreds more have been damaged. At one point they had evacuated around 500,000 people. Jess and I are quite safe where we are in La Jolla, but my Mom and Bill, and Lani and Brady and the fam all had to temporarily evacuate on Monday afternoon. Fortunately they were able to go home Tuesday afternoon though, and all is well. We had our friends Johnny and Brooke in town for a couple of days, and Lani and Brady ended up having to stay Monday night with us as well. So we had 6 adults and 3 kids in a small 1 bedroom apartment for a while...that was interesting. :) That incredible NASA photo above shows you what the 50+ mph Santa Ana winds were doing to fuel the flames. They have finally died down, so I think the worst may be over. They have lifted quite a few mandatory evacuations, so a lot of people have been allowed to return home. I think quite a bit of progress was made today, though I think it will still be a while before everything is out. They now estimate that the largest fire, the Witch fire, is 10% contained (this is better than the 0% containment estimate made yesterday.) That one fire is responsible for 200,000 acres and 800 homes. President Bush is supposed to tour the area's just crazy how much damage has been done so quickly. This is one of the many maps that gives you an idea of just how big the burn areas are. So far the city has taken it very well. Most of the area business and restaurants are donating tons of free food and services. There's nothing but good reports from Qualcomm Stadium, where they housed about 10,000 evacuees. Our church opened as an evacuation center as well and was able to provide shelter, food, clothing, medical care, child care, etc. Like I said, I think Jess and I are safe here by the coast...and it's also comforting to know that in a worst case scenario we could easily fit everything valuable and important to us in our car. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Additions to The Fam...

No, not those kind of additions...In fact, Jess has decided to go back to school for a little bit starting in January (working towards a child development degree) so those kind of "additions" will be put off for a little while longer...For now we will stick with our beta fish, Turbo The Survivor. (So monikered because "Turbo" fits his personality, and "The Survivor" as a tribute to when we went to Idaho and left him unattended for 10 days in our hot apartment with no AC...) Anyway...I did however make a couple of rather expensive purchases lately, the first of which being my lovely new scooter... It's a little 50cc 2002 Yamaha Vino - I was going to put this off, but I found a good deal and didn't want to look around for another six months. She's not perfect, but it sure beats walking a mile and a half to work every day. I'm open to name sugggestions, so far I'm thinking of going with "Gomer." Aaaaand as a necessity for our Israel trip, I also bought this new camera. It's a Fuji s6000 and it rocks. And I'm not even totally sure how to use it yet, but it rocks. So, speaking of our Israel trip...we're leaving tomorrow! Holy crap! (actually today...I need to get up in 5 1/2 hrs, so I should probably go to bed...) I worked like 13 hours today trying to get ready, and just now finished packing. Craziness. Well, providing I don't get blown up by any muslims, and I will definitely post some pics when I get back. Cheers!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Street Scene

So a couple of weeks ago I ended up scoring a couple of tickets to Street Scene from a lady I work with, who scored them from someone she used to work with etc... Jess and I had been wanting to go, but there was no way we were going to shell out that many clams for a good time. I had known there was a chance I would end up getting free tickets, but didn't think it was a very good chance, so I didn't say anything to Jess about it until I knew for sure (which was the day beforehand.) Anyway, long story short we ended up spending that Saturday afternoon there and had a pretty good time. I had gone down to Tecate that morning with Brady to shoot some video for a True Light Ministries project thing, so I was pretty wiped...but it was still sweet. The highlight for me, of course, was seeing Matt Costa play. He had a full band and played alot of new stuff...and it rocked. Even though he was on a small side stage, and the mix wasn't that good. Plus he had to compete with some other groups that were playing on other stages - the most noticeable being some rap group somewhere nearby, which made for some humorous moments and comments. (My favorite being when Matt Costa mentioned that he didn't know what they were doing "over there, but over here we're gonna play some MUSIC...") After his set, everyone was yelling for him to play "Sunshine" cause had neglected to do so...but they were ready to tear down the stage and he had to quit, so we walked away rather dejectedly...until Jess spotted him grabbing his guitar and running off the side of the stage. So we booked it back, and sure enough he was hanging out and playing unplugged for/with the 20 or so people that hung was awesome. We also saw (among others) Augustana, and I was actually pleasantly surprised at their quality and depth (i had only heard that one radio song up until then.) And we saw Panic at the Disco, which was entertaining. The highlight for Jess though was the headliner for the night - Muse. They surprised me by actually opening their set with "Knights of Cydonia," and followed it with more well-crafted (if not strange) music. I have to admit they are a little weird, but they did put on an impressive show. The only show I ended up missing that I wanted to see was G Love and Special Sauce. Well, plus I wish I could have gone back on Sunday to see The Killers and Brand New, but you know what they say about beggars and choosers...So anyway, there you have it. Street Scene: Lots of music, lots of fun, lots of drunk people making out in the mosh pits, coming home and smelling like pot...All in all a good time.

(I have a few more pics on myspace)

Friday, September 7, 2007

On Boston and Being Busy

So I've been quite busy lately and have thoroughly neglected my new great loss I suppose. We moved to a new, larger, tiny one bedroom apartment the end of July, and we are enjoying it very much. So far I have only had to sell one kidney to cover rent. I spent the first week of August in Boston at an LPL conference...that was alot of fun. I highly recommend it as a good place to was so freaking muggy there though, it was ridiculous. But all of the people we ran into were extremely nice. They talk your ear off (esp the cab drivers) and they have wicked awesome accents to boot. Then Jess and I spent a week in the middle of August up in Idaho...It was great to get back home after a year and see everyone. Or at least almost everyone. I realized that I really missed the whole small-town feel of Cd'A. The day after we got in we just walked around downtown and I kept running into old friends...that just doesn't happen in SD. My body decided that since I wasn't working it was an okay time to finally get sick, so I ended up wasting a whole day in bed. But we still crammed alot in, and we got to go to my cousin Holly's wedding before we left too. All in all a good break. I didn't really have time to take alot of pictures back home, and we really only had one day in Boston to bum around...but here are a few quick visual highlites...

Below left is the balcony of the old statehouse where Bostonians had their copy of the Declaration of Independence read to them (the "Boston Massacre" occurred about 20 yards in front of this building. - Below right is, well, Paul Revere's grave...

Above left is the steeple of the Old North Church (Christ Church) where Robert Newman hung two lanterns to signal Paul Revere - And above right is the pulpit inside the church (Charles Wesley once preached there.)

We had oysters on the half shell at the Union Oyster House - the oldest continuously running restaurant in the states...

And we had some drinks at the Bell In Hand - the oldest tavern in the states...

And one of the keynote speakers at the conference was good old George H. W. So that was pretty cool. He's looking pretty old though. Anyway...I'll make a folder on myspace and post these and others. I'm definitely in the market for a better camera before we go to Israel next month....How many kidneys does a body have again?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Love Baseball

In honor of the All-Star game being played right now, I thought I would compile a list of the reasons I truly love baseball...

#10 - It's American. Although (like anything in the West) it may have it's primitive origins elsewhere, the development of baseball as we know it is distinctly American. It has long been considered our "national pastime" and even been described as a "national religion". And yet it still has magnificently interesting diversity, with players from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, name it. And if the embargo is ever lifted, look for a huge influx of Cuban players.

#9 - It's a summer sport. I hate being cold. Granted, my M's had four games straight snowed out this spring, and October can get pretty nippy, but the majority of the season occurs during the hallowed months of summer. Nothing like a cold beer on a hot day at the ballpark. Which leads me to...

#8 - It has a long season. 162 games. Plus 2 playoff SERIES, plus the World SERIES. No ten game season and a 1 game showdown here.

#7 - It's full of nice guys. Sure, not 100%. There will always be the Barry Bonds and Jose Consecos, but for the most part, baseball is dominated by hard working, respectable guys. Not overpaid thugs.

#6 - Everyone gets cool nicknames. Even the managers and coaches can have them. This can usually be accomplished by either shortening a first or last name, or adding a 'y' to the end, or often a combination of the two. In certain cases, a completely unique, honorary name can be bestowed. The result makes for an exceedingly more colorful listening and discussing experience. The Big Unit, The Kid, Papi, Ichi, Wash, Grover, Bone - heck, you can even get away with calling a 6'8" first baseman named Richie Sexson "Big Sexy".

#5 - The coaches wear uniforms. Hey, these guys stopped looking good in stirrup pants a looong time ago. But they're out there suited up just like their players. It's a team effort, folks.

#4 - It's a thinking man's game. Statistics. Strategy. It's all about the numbers. Batting averages, ERA, lefty-righty match ups, slugging percentage, fielding percentage, OBP, OPS, WHIP...If it can be calculated, it's a statistic. And the managers and players study them well. There are leaders in every stat, and sacred records doomed to be broken. Plus they all get cool acronyms.

#3 - It has tons of exciting plays. It has been said that baseball is the ultimate combination of skill, timing, athleticism, and strategy. The home run certainly has captured the most attention over the years, but even that can come in a variety of ways. The walk off, the grand slam, or perhaps the inside the park homer, as was accomplished by Ichiro in today's All Star game for the first time in history. But for a true baseball fan, a sac bunt or a suicide squeeze can be infinitely more exciting than a homer. Triples are exciting. There's running, leaping, and sliding catches. Robbing base hits and home runs and stealing bases. A towering upper-deck drive, or a dribbler down the line that keeps the inning alive, it's all exciting when you understand the wonderful subtleties and nuances of the game.

#2 - It's unique. Virtually every other major team sport (and even a few individual sports) are simply variations of the same theme. Hockey, Basketball, Soccer, Football, Tennis, Volleyball - they all involve either moving an object to opposite sides of a playing field, or hitting it back and forth across a divider. The field, the gameplay, the complex rules - the very essence of baseball is unique, refreshing, and imaginative. Which leads me to reason numero uno...

#1 - It ain't over til it's over. One of the unique qualities of baseball is it's lack of a clock. Unlike other major team sports, there is no way to gain a lead and simply kill the clock. Sure, if a team is ahead after 9 innings, they win. But they have to get that 27th out. There is no "sudden death" to restrain rallies, and extra innings can last indefinitely. And while my Mariners have been on the losing side of one of the biggest comeback in baseball history - they blew a 12 run lead over the Cleveland Indians on August 5, 2001, losing 15-14 in 11 innings - they also embodied the comeback spirit of baseball during the unforgettable "Refuse to Lose" season of 1995. Game 5 of the ALDS vs. the damn Yankees. Bottom of the 11th, 2 on, down by 1 run...well, why don't you just go here and click on "Martinez's historic ALDS Game 5 double" and see for yourself.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy Anniversary! (To Me)

So today is our one year anniversary! It's crazy really...I can't believe it has been a whole year. Seemed like it flew by...even though everything was new and we made a lot of memories...well, guess I just shot my own theory to hell. But I would just like to take a moment and say that I am so happily married to the most beautiful and incredible woman in the entire world and I love her to death. We just got back from spending a long weekend out in Palm Springs. It was really nice to get away for a few days and just relax. It was 114 out there and we loved it. We spent Saturday at Knotts Soak City water park, and went out to a couple nice dinners. Now it's back to the grind for a few weeks, then we are moving to a new apartment on the 28th (can't wait) and I just found out I'll be flying to Boston for a conference on the 29th. I'll get back on the 3rd and then we'll fly out the following weekend to Coeur d'Alene for a week. Then it will be back to normal for about a month before we head to Israel. Guess it's shaping up to be a busy summer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

On Time

Praeteritum enim iam non est et futurum nondum est.

"For the past is not now, and the future is not yet."
- St. Augustine from Confessions

And so I begin my foray into the world of blogging: with an explanation of my blog's title and a few thoughts on time. St. Augustine devoted the second half of book 11 from Confessions to the pursuit of understanding the concept of time and memory. "What then is time?" He asks, "If no one asks me, I know, if I want to explain it to someone who asks, I do not know. " To drastically boil down an intriguing piece of writing, it seems that Augustine argues the philosophical doctrine known as presentism - essentially that "Neither that which will be, nor that which is past, exists now." He delves into such mysteries of how we can measure something that is continually passing, what constitutes a "long time" and a "short time", what roles our memories have, and what God was doing before He created the world. I've always found the concept of time rather fascinating - as Augustine noted, it seems simple until you have to think about or explain it. We measure it by the movement of heavenly bodies, calendar pages, and watch hands. We feel it's effects. But what is it? The passage of time is unstoppable. It marches on with astounding regularity. And yet it can seem so subjective! Why is it that virtually every human (including myself) can attest that their years seem to grow terribly shorter the older they get? All that remains of the past is our memories, and memories seem to consist primarily of lives highs, lows, and new experiences. Surely our youth flew by in our business, but in retrospect we view those years as being much longer than the ones today. Is that because everything was new and we created so many memories? As we settle in to the routine of a responsible working adult with all our plans in place, do we cease to make as many memories, and thus time speeds up? Like Augustine, I must admit that I find both comfort and infinitely more mystery in the fact that God exists beyond these limitations that He created. Spe enim salui facti sumus et promissa tua per patientiam expectamus. "By hope we are saved, through patience we wait for your promises."

So what does any of this rambling have to do with anything - especially the title of my new blog? For that I must give credit to my friend, Jack Freeman. He penned the simplest of profound statements in the refrain of the song The Here and Now:
"Why, if life is lived between big plans, do I sit with idle, folded hands? Life aint lived when you're thinking about what's around the bend - the here and now is your only chance to make a difference in the end."
I am the king of living between big plans. I'm the Grand Potentate of the Procrastinator's Partnership Worldwide. Okay, so no such organization exists, but if anyone ever got around to starting it, I would be the Grand Potentate. And I am not alone. Nearly everyone, to one degree or another, seems to glory in the memories of the past and elaborate on the plans of the future; all the while forgetting that what really matters is what they are doing now - at that exact, precise moment. Because neither of the other things they speak of even exist.